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here comes the spark

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Hawke desperately doesn’t want to be awake right now.

 

The sun is still up. He doesn’t work until 10 PM and he’s not hungry or thirsty nor does he need to pee but when his phone rang two minutes ago, Hawke made the mistake of answering it. Varric was on the other end, so Hawke pulled his duvet over his head and accused Varric of trying to kill him. A perfectly reasonable response, considering the circumstances.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Varric is saying mildly. “Were you asleep?”

 

“You know very well I was asleep,” groans Hawke. “It’s between the hours of 10 AM and 6 PM. Of course I was asleep. You knew I was asleep.”

 

With the predictability of the incoming tide, Hawke hears the scratch of big paws at his closed bedroom door.

 

“I thought it was later in the day,” says Varric. “Sorry.”

 

“You’re not sorry at all,” mumbles Hawke, balancing his phone on his ear and trying to ignore the insistent whimpers drifting faintly through the door. “You’ve woken Dog. She thinks it’s time for breakfast now. We can’t be friends any longer, Varric. This is a grievous insult against my person.”

 

“You could put your phone on silent when you go to bed, like everyone else,” says Varric. “This is in no way my fault. Listen, did you forget? I’m coming over tonight with Fenris to help him move in.”

 

Hawke turns his face into the pillow, trying to make sense of the words but also smother himself at the same time. If he passes out, he can go back to sleep. “I’m sorry. You’ve just said something, and I know it probably has meaning, but I can’t work it out right this second. You’re doing what with whom?”

 

Varric lets out a deep sigh. “You’ve really gotta stop answering your phone when you’re asleep. You don’t remember me mentioning Fenris at all? Last week?” His voice is far too innocent for whatever scheme he’s cooked up. “...Hawke?”

 

“Hang on. I have to free the dog from her hallway exile,” Hawke sighs.

 

She’s whining, increasingly distressed by Hawke’s inattention, so Hawke drags himself out of bed, resigned at last to rude, early wakefulness. There are clothes all over the floor. Hawke navigates to the door with his eyes mostly closed, nearly slipping and braining himself on the wall before he manages to grab the door knob and let Dog in. She barks, shouldering inside forcefully and pushing against his thigh.

 

“And the answer is ‘no’,” Hawke adds, pinning the phone between his shoulder and his ear as he crouches to scrub at Dog’s floppy ears. “I don’t remember you mentioning anyone named Fenris. And you know what else? I think you knew I wouldn’t remember, if you just happened to call me last week in the middle of the blessed day to tell me about him. What have you done? What have I agreed to?”

 

“You said you wanted a roommate to help with the rent, didn’t you?” says Varric cheerfully. “Fenris really needs a place to live. His landlord is selling the apartment he was renting. You need a roommate, he needs a room. It’s perfect.”

 

“And you’ve already told him yes,” says Hawke, gently pushing Dog’s muzzle away and getting to his feet. He doesn’t know where his glasses are. Squinting vaguely into the distance, he walks to the kitchen and opens the cupboard to retrieve Dog’s food. “Brilliant. Tonight, you said?” He rubs a hand over his face, sighing. “Who is this person? More importantly...is he fit?”

 

“I don’t know about his exercise habits, Hawke,” says Varric.

 

Hawke groans. “Ugh, Americans. Is he attractive.”  

 

“Oh, no no no,” Varric says firmly. “No. Under no circumstances, Hawke. Fenris is off limits. Anyway, I think the two of you will get along like a house on fire.”

 

Hawke stifles a yawn. “I already have Bran for that.”

 

Varric makes a disparaging noise. “Like I said, please don’t replicate your...Brandon situation with Fenris. Please.”

 

“It’s not a situation,” says Hawke, opening the bag and leaning over the counter to shake dog food into Dog’s bowl. Most of it gets on the floor but Dog cleans it up for him. “It’s...an arrangement.”

 

“I think the word you’re trying to think of is ‘hate-sex’,” offers Varric.

 

“That’s two words,” says Hawke around another yawn, leaning on the counter and closing his eyes. “Two very strong words.”

 

“No, there’s a hyphen. Anyway, we’ll be there just before six. Try and clean the place up a little?” suggests Varric. “At least pick everything up off the floor.”

 

“If Fenris can’t accept that I’m a slob, it’s never going to work out between us,” Hawke says solemnly. “Better call off the wedding sooner rather than later.”

 

“You’re a riot,” says Varric, audibly rolling his eyes. “See you later, Hawke.”

 

“I await your arrival with bated breath.” Hawke ends the call and drops his phone onto the counter.

 

“I hope he likes dogs,” Hawke says to Dog, peering down at her. “We’re not going to get along if he doesn’t.”

 

Dog barks once and goes back to her breakfast. Hawke sighs.

 

For a little while he tries to go back to sleep, but after the call with Varric he’s well and truly awake so he just ends up playing Bejeweled in bed until he drops his phone twice in quick succession onto his face. It feels like a sign that he’s finally ready to go back to sleep and with Dog pinning him to the mattress escape is impossible anyway. He closes his eyes and tells himself he’s the most exhausted he’s ever been.

 

“This isn’t working,” he announces to the ceiling, five minutes later. “C’mon. Get off,” he says plaintively to Dog, pushing at her shoulder. “Please just let me live.”

 

Dog snuffles at his hand, licking his fingers, and Hawke groans. “Do you want a treat? I’ll get you a treat if you give me my body back, you manipulative beast.”

 

With a happy bark, Dog leaps off the bed and barrels into the kitchen. Hawke gets out of bed, finds his glasses hanging out of the pocket of his bathrobe, and slides them onto his face.

 

From the kitchen, Dog barks again. “I’m coming, I’m coming.”

 

By the time Hawke bribes Dog with a bacon strip, it’s nearly four o’clock. He spends the next half hour half-heartedly picking things up off the floor and putting them onto couches and tables instead.

 

At five, he sits down on the couch to take a quick break and the next thing he knows, Varric is standing over him yelling, “—Hawke!”

 

“Jesusshittingchrist,” yelps Hawke, jerking awake in an electric rush of hot panic and falling right off the couch. He hits the ground with a thump, cracking his elbow on the floor and biting out a pained, “fuck!” which alerts Dog, who steps heavily over him and starts soothingly bathing his face with her tongue.

 

“Oh my god, please help me,” whimpers Hawke, turning his face away from Dog’s tongue and putting his hand out to push her muzzle away. His elbow is no longer an elbow and is instead a singularity of focused, buzzing pain radiating up and down his arm and Hawke’s pretty sure Varric is laughing.

 

“C’mon, princess, Hawke’s not hurt, he’s just an idiot,” Varric says, tugging on Dog’s collar. It’s a paltry attempt to free him and Dog doesn’t even budge.

 

“Speak for yourself,” says Hawke petulantly. “I think my arm is broken. I am a wreck of a human being.”

 

“Well...that’s an accurate statement, yes,” allows Varric. “Come on, you giant hellbeast, leave the pathetic human alone.”

 

Hawke gives Dog one last encouraging shove and she steps back and sits on her haunches, panting. With a grunt, Hawke grabs the edge of the coffee table to lever himself up, wiping drool off his face. Once he’s upright, Hawke can see that Varric is flanked by a person who is, presumably, Fenris, wearing an expression of, presumably, veiled judgement.

 

Presumably Fenris is slim and has poor posture, shockingly white shaggy hair, dark skin, and narrowed green eyes. The little voice in Hawke’s head that’s almost entirely responsible for his bad decisions whispers Oh no, he’s hot.

 

“Ah, right,” says Hawke, locking eyes pleadingly with Varric. “You’ve come to move in.”

 

Varric mouths No very firmly and then says out loud, “Yeah, you caught us. Please tell me the second bedroom is fit for habitation.”

 

“But you haven’t even introduced us,” says Hawke, struggling awkwardly to his feet and brushing dog hair off his rumpled pyjamas. His hand, sticky with saliva, collects the dog hair instead of banishing it to the floor. He gives Fenris a hopefully charming smile. “I’m Hawke. I won’t make you shake my hand until I’ve washed it. Do you like dogs? I hope Varric told you I have a dog.” He gestures at Dog. “Her name is… Dog.”

 

“I like dogs,” says Fenris slowly, staring steadily at Hawke with something that might be dawning horror on his face. “I am Fenris. It is… nice to meet you.”

 

Hawke’s mouth drops open, a little thrill running through him at the depth and cadence of Fenris’s voice. He also tries to ignore the insincerity dripping from the word “nice.”

 

“Well!” says Hawke loudly, clapping his hands together. “I suppose you want to see the room.”

 

“Before you embarrass yourself further would be great, Hawke,” says Varric.

 

“Excuse you,” mutters Hawke.  

 

“I’m excused,” snaps Varric.

 

“I’d love to see the room,” says Fenris, sounding pained. Hawke doesn’t think Fenris has ever loved anything in his entire life. Hawke also wants Fenris to step on him. Preferably naked.

 

“There’s not much to see,” says Hawke, scratching his beard and leading them down to the hall. He opens the door to the empty spare room and, blessedly, nothing has moved in since he last looked inside. It still contains a double bed, a desk, and an old, lumpy, over-stuffed armchair that used to belong to Hawke’s father which Hawke kept in the living room until he couldn’t bear to sit in it anymore. He shrugs and gestures at the room. “I don’t really use it. It’s clean and furnished. Apart from the dust, I mean.”

 

“This is more than fine,” says Fenris, putting the duffel bag he’s holding onto the floor.

 

“Do you have more stuff?” asks Hawke. “Do you need me to lift things for you?”

 

“I can lift things for myself, thank you,” says Fenris dryly.

 

“I didn’t mean you can’t!” Hawke rubs the back of his neck and wishes he could burrow into his mattress and nest there forever. Being awake during the day is terrible. He doesn’t recommend it. “I’m just good at lifting things. That’s all. I don’t have many other skills.”

 

“Spare me from this mental anguish, please,” says Varric under his breath. “We’ve got stuff in the car. If you really want to be seen outside your building in little duckie pyjamas, Hawke, be our guest.”

 

“Ah,” says Hawke, looking down at himself and plucking at his flannel pants. “Right. They were a gift from Bethany.”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

“I think they’re sweet,” says Hawke defensively. “I’ll go… get some boxes from the car. You can show Fenris where everything is.”

 

He goes back into the living room to find his glasses, which probably fell off in his sleep, and retrieves them out from under the couch. From the spare bedroom, he hears the low murmur of Fenris’s voice, and Varric’s more audible reply: “He’s usually asleep at this time of day, but to be honest, I don’t know if that really makes a difference—”

 

Hawke digs his trainers out of the hall closet and pulls them on, then grabs the first piece of outerwear he finds, which is, inexplicably, an old terry-cloth bathrobe that’s seen better days. Tugging it on, he pockets his keys and his phone and heads down to the parking garage.

 

Varric’s car is parked next to Hawke’s, the backseat piled high with boxes and duffel bags. He stands there for a minute, wondering if he can carry it all at once to save himself additional trips, and then rolls up his sleeves.

 

“Well! Good morning, gorgeous,” calls Isabela, crashing through the doors of their apartment building and coming over to join him next to Varric’s car. “You’re looking…” she hesitates. “Like a hot mess, to be honest. I take it back. Are you lost? Are you drunk?”

 

“I’m offended you think this is what I’m like drunk,” scoffs Hawke, opening the back door and starting to remove the car’s contents. “I’ve acquired a new roommate and Varric has corralled me into helping him move in.”

 

“You mean Fenris?” asks Isabela, crossing her arms and watching Hawke lift a box, her gaze fixed on his arms. She looks like she’s going out for the evening, wearing a white blouse, a pencil skirt, and an enormous feathered hat, her bag over her shoulder.

 

“Yes, him,” grunts Hawke, stacking another box on top of the one in his arms. “White hair, angry face, tight arse. Tattoos, I think? I’ve been tricked into this, I’ll have you know. Were you aware this was going to happen?”

 

“I may have had an inkling,” Isabela says evasively. “I know Fenris, as well. I introduced him to Varric, actually. You won’t even see each other, Hawke. You work opposite schedules.”

 

“I’m less upset, now that I’ve seen what he looks like,” Hawke allows. “Do us a favour and grab that box. Put it on top of the ones I’m holding.”

 

“Can you see?” asks Isabela dubiously, obliging his request after he’s ducked down low enough for her to reach. The box does, indeed, restrict his vision.

 

“It’s fine,” he says. “I don’t have to go far.”

 

“All right,” says Isabela. “I’m off. Keep me updated on any Fenris-related shenanigans.”

 

“I’ve been made to promise no shenanigans will occur,” mourns Hawke. “Talk to you later.”

 

“Bye, darling. Don’t fall down any stairs.”

 

Isabela, presumably, leaves, though Hawke can’t be certain because she’s too short for him to see beyond the tower of boxes in his arms. Craning his head, Hawke slowly makes his way back to the stairwell, running into the wall only once. He leans on the “push to open” button with his elbow, stumbles into the opposite wall, and nearly sends all three boxes flying.

 

“I should not have been trusted with this task,” mumbles Hawke, climbing the stairs back up to his apartment.

 

He doesn’t encounter any other logistical errors until he actually reaches his closed apartment door, bumps right into it, and then stands there, confused.

 

“Varric,” he calls plaintively. “Please let me in.”

 

Nothing happens. They’re probably ignoring him. His arms are beginning to ache just a little. He remembers he has feet with which he could knock at just about the same time that the door swings open and he ends up kicking somebody right in the shin.

 

“Sorry, sorry!” says Hawke. “Shit, is that Varric?”

 

A pair of hands removes the top box from his field of vision and Hawke finds himself staring into sullen green eyes and a face pinched with pain and annoyance. The face does not, in fact, belong to Varric.

 

“Ah, Fenris,” amends Hawke, grinning sheepishly. “Sorry. Again.”

 

“Thank you,” says Fenris through his teeth, tucking the box against his chest. It doesn’t sound like gratitude. They’re off to a fabulous start. ‘Like a house on fire,’ Varric had said. If that’s the case, then Hawke should probably call the fire department.

 

Hawke bends to set the other two boxes on the floor just inside the door. “I’ll get the rest,” he says and practically sprints away from Fenris’s palpable disdain.

 

His phone rings on his way down the stairs and he’s going to decline the call until he sees that it’s Bran.

 

“You have the worst timing,” Hawke says when he picks up. “Why is everyone calling me during the day when you all know I should be sleeping? Monsters.”

 

“Well you’re clearly already awake,” replies Bran. “I’m not responsible for how other people choose to annoy you.”

 

“Unless you’re calling to volunteer the services of your dick, Brandon, I don’t really have time for this today,” says Hawke, sighing. He exits the stairwell and leans against the hood of Varric’s car, rubbing sleepily at his face. “I’ve been conscripted into helping someone move.”

 

“How dare you,” murmurs Bran, sounding distracted. “Booty call cancelled. I’ll weep bitter tears, bereft, for the rest of the evening.”

 

“Did you call for a reason?” demands Hawke archly. “Or is this your daily allotment of passive-aggressive bad humour before you return to whatever it is you do when you’re not interrupting my day?”

 

“What?” says Bran. “Oh. No, I suppose I had a vague interest in sex, but it’s gone now. You’ve spoiled it with all your complaining. You’re particularly insufferable today, Garrett, have they discontinued your favourite cereal again?”

 

“No, but thank you for your unsolicited opinion,” says Hawke. “Your feedback is very valuable to me.”

 

Bran lets out a deep, shuddering, world-weary sigh. It’s the kind of over-dramatic gesture Bran excels at accomplishing without expending any energy at all. “I’m hanging up now. Go back to infuriating someone else.”

 

“Love you too, darling,” coos Hawke.

 

“Ugh,” mutters Bran, and hangs up.

 

“Did you get lost?” demands Varric, appearing at the stairwell doors, Fenris trailing reluctantly behind him like a moody storm cloud.

 

“I got a phone call,” protests Hawke, brandishing his phone at him. “I’m a very important person!”

 

“And how is Brandon?” drawls Varric, coming over to open the back door of the car and hand a box to Hawke.

 

“I could have been speaking to someone else. You don’t know my life. Bran is delightful, as ever,” says Hawke. He glances surreptitiously at Fenris, who seems very dedicated to the activity of ignoring them. Hawke accepts another box from Varric and heads back up the stairs.

 

By the time they get everything unloaded, it’s half past seven.

 

Varric stays to help Fenris get sorted and unpacked, so Hawke assumes he’s being freed from moving duty. He makes strong espresso, takes a shower, puts in his contacts, and eats dinner in front of the television. At quarter past nine, he changes into his scrubs for work, finds his keys, and pops into the second bedroom, where Varric and Fenris are still opening boxes.

 

“I’m off,” he says. “I’ll be back ‘round half six and I’ll try to keep it down when I get in. I’ll be on my phone all night if you need anything.”

 

“Try and actually do some work in between rounds of Tetris,” suggests Varric.

 

“Ha,” says Hawke. “Ha ha ha, joke’s on you, I deleted Tetris.” He glances at Fenris and gives him a nod. “Welcome to the… erm. Madness?”

 

Overcome by the sheer magnitude of his own stupidity, Hawke doesn’t even wait for a response before he ducks back out and sprints to the door.

 

oOo

 

Work is extremely slow, which makes it very difficult for Hawke to stay awake, despite the espresso.

 

He texts Varric irritably until Varric stops replying, probably having gone to sleep like any reasonable human. For a little while, Hawke plays 2048 on his phone, then he answers a few calls, most of which require him to lift people from one location to another. He changes some diapers, administers two sponge baths, and then a resident falls out of bed and for about half an hour there’s a mild emergency to attend to.

 

During break, he sets an alarm and takes a twenty minute nap on the couch in the break room, waking up to his phone serenading him with ‘Shake it Off’ and the truly stressful sight of Anders peering down at him.

 

“Auugh,” says Hawke, covering his face. “Please don’t do that.”

 

“You’re taking up the entire sofa,” protests Anders, smacking Hawke in the leg. “And a little more.”

 

He means that Hawke’s feet are hanging off the end. His height can be a problem in small spaces. “Pardon me for existing,” mumbles Hawke, sitting up and rubbing groggily at his eyes. He checks his phone. Still a third of his break left.

 

Anders makes a noncommittal noise and sits down next to Hawke. “What’s the matter with you, anyway?”

 

“What a question,” says Hawke, getting to his feet and approaching the vending machine. “What isn’t the matter with me?” He feeds it two crinkled bills and watches the bag of Doritos he selects get caught on the hook. It seems to be an apt metaphor for Hawke’s life.

 

“You could just answer the question like someone who isn’t, well, you,” complains Anders.

 

Hawke mournfully rests his face on the glass and stares at the bag, caught tenuously between freedom and despair.

 

“Are you referring to the bag, or yourself?” asks Anders curiously.

 

“What?” says Hawke. He splays his fingers out on the machine’s glass, separated from his dinner by scant inches.

 

“Being caught tenuously between freedom and despair.”

 

Hawke blinks and weighs the pros and cons of shaking the vending machine. The warning sticker is very clear about the potential outcome of trying to wrestle his snack free. “Oh. Did I say that out loud?”

 

“Here,” says Anders, and when Hawke turns around, he’s being offered two dollars. “This is too pathetic to watch. Just take it.”

 

“I’ll pay you back,” promises Hawke, accepting the money and offering it in sacrifice to the vending machine. Two bags of Doritos fall free this time. It’s a miracle.

 

“Don’t strain yourself,” mutters Anders, closing his eyes and tipping his head back on the couch. “I’m sure I’ll survive.”

 

“How magnanimous of you.”

 

“That’s me,” mumbles Anders. “That’s my picture in the dictionary, under the entry for ‘magnanimous.’”

 

Hawke just answers him with loud, satisfied crunching.

 

oOo

 

When he finally gets home at six thirty in the morning, the sky has turned pink, and the only thing keeping Hawke from going straight to his bedroom and collapsing into bed is the fact that he’s ravenous.

 

Usually he’s awake for the rest of the morning, doing errands, laundry, or just playing video games; he doesn’t go to sleep until around 10 AM. As soon as he fills the void in his belly, though, he’s going to bed, and sleeping through until his alarm. No meddling Varrics to wake him today.

 

And, really, it’s not like he intentionally forgets that Fenris is around. It’s been months since he’s had to be considerate of another person in the apartment. It’s been a long night, okay.

 

He’s tired, and hungry, and he just wants something easy. Like toast. With peanut butter.

 

Hawke works in healthcare; he’s very conscious of washing his hands. He always washes them before leaving work and as soon as he gets home. It’s not until he’s put the bread in the toaster and gotten the peanut butter out of the cupboard, however, that he realises he’s still in his scrubs.

 

And, honestly—it’s not like he plans it!

 

It’s just that the toaster is old, and Hawke doesn’t clean it as often as he should, and it catches on fire a little bit.

 

Hawke has, at the exact moment disaster strikes, briefly relocated to the laundry nook to get undressed. He gets as far as pulling off his shirt and is in the process of undoing the drawstring on his trousers when the smoke detector goes off.

 

Then he remembers, very abruptly, that it’s barely seven AM and Fenris is asleep.

 

“Fuck,” he says, dropping his shirt. “Fuck. Welcome to the apartment, Fenris, where everything is on fire

 

He runs, half-naked, into the kitchen, where the toaster is ejecting plumes of smoke and the smoke detector on the ceiling is emitting a piercing supersonic screech. Fenris appears suddenly in the doorway alongside Hawke and they only narrowly avoid a collision.

 

“Pardon me!” Hawke yelps, dodging Fenris and sliding across the kitchen floor in his socks to reach the smoking toaster and unplug the cord. He grabs a tea towel and uses it to fan the smoke away from the smoke detector.

 

Fenris goes to the kitchen window, propping it open with the stick Hawke keeps on the sill.

 

“Bloody thing,” mutters Hawke, coughing. The wail of the smoke detector stops, mid-shriek. Hawke stands there for a moment, rubbing his face, willing the ringing in his ears to subside. When he turns back around, Fenris, in all his pajama’d, bed-headed glory, is examining the toaster. Hawke examines him instead; it turns out the tattoos spread from his throat and extend down his bare arms and legs in delicate unbroken curls of white ink.

 

“This is filthy,” says Fenris in a sleep-rough voice, picking up the toaster and upending it over the sink. He shakes out the charred toast and several loaves worth of charcoal crumbs. “You’re supposed to open the bottom every so often and remove the crumbs so they don’t burn.”

 

“What, you can’t mean cleaning the toaster? I am far too busy a person for that,” says Hawke. “Good morning, Fenris. How did you sleep? I trust the bed was all right.”

 

“The bed was fine,” says Fenris, turning around to pin Hawke with very serious eyebrows and an expression of exasperated scorn. He’s still holding the toaster in his hands like he’s planning on taking it away from Hawke to protect it from further mistreatment. “I have no complaints about the bed.” His gaze flicks briefly down Hawke’s bare chest and then skips down below the waist.

 

For one hot, precious second, Hawke thinks Fenris is staring appraisingly at his dick. He entertains a brief fantasy where naked animosity morphs into undeniable sexual attraction and they launch across the room at each other, make out furiously, and fuck on the floor.

 

Then reality kicks back in, and Hawke realises Fenris is probably staring at the pattern on his scrubs.

 

“They’re dragons,” offers Hawke, clearing his throat. “My trousers. It’s little dragons.”

 

“I see,” says Fenris. His eyebrow twitches independently of the rest of his face, raising itself judgementally high.

 

Bethany buys Hawke all of his scrubs. Faithfully, for every birthday and Christmas, she buys him a set of scrubs, and over the years they’ve gotten increasingly ridiculous.

 

(“I don’t work in pediatrics,” he’d said to her once, unwrapping soft pink scrubs patterned with little green dinosaurs. “My patients are all over the age of eighty, Bethy.”

 

“They’re not for them,” she had said. “They’re for you.”)

 

“I’m a nursing assistant,” says Hawke lamely. “I work in a care home.”

 

“Mm,” says Fenris. He turns his back on Hawke to give the toaster one last shake over the sink.

 

“My sister buys them for me,” continues Hawke. “They were a present.”

 

“Like the ducks,” says Fenris mildly.

 

Hawke nods miserably. “Like the ducks.”

 

“If you will excuse me,” says Fenris. He puts the toaster back and plugs it into the wall. Then he turns and meets Hawke’s gaze and says, very deliberately, “I’m going back to sleep.”

 

“Excellent plan,” says Hawke. “I intend on joining you soon.”

 

The look on Fenris’s face tells Hawke his phrasing is poor before his own brain catches up. “In sleep,” corrects Hawke quickly. “In my own bed.”

 

Apparently they’re already at the point in their relationship where Fenris feels comfortable rolling his eyes in full view of Hawke. He’s quite good at it.

 

“I work the 11 to 7 shift, usually,” offers Fenris, hesitating in the doorway, perhaps feeling like he should share something of himself now that they’re roommates and Hawke has created a bonding experience for them via the medium of a small kitchen emergency. “I can walk. It’s just a block away.”

 

“That’s very convenient,” says Hawke, before he realises this is probably why Varric suggested Fenris move in with Hawke in the first place. He wonders if being able to get to work in five minutes makes up for having to live with him. It’s probably too early to tell.

 

“That was the appeal,” agrees Fenris dryly. “I—”

 

The door buzzer interrupts him, twice.

 

“It’s not usually this noisy in the morning,” Hawke assures him, pained. “I’m not sure who—”

 

The buzzer goes off again, and Fenris ends up following Hawke to the door as he leans on the intercom button. “Who’s this? Do you exist in the same time zone? It’s too early if you’re selling something. No solicitation!”

 

“Garrett, don’t be ridiculous, it’s me! I’m sorry, I forgot my key! Let me up, Dog is starving.” It’s Bethany. Darling Bethany, returning Dog after her morning walk.

 

“It’s my sister,” says Hawke, pressing the buzzer to open the door for Bethany. “She comes in and walks the dog in the mornings a few days a week. I really am sorry for all the chaos.”

 

“You do not need to apologise,” says Fenris, but he’s rubbing his eye tiredly as he says it, and Hawke doesn’t believe him.

 

“She didn’t know it wasn’t just me,” explains Hawke. “I haven’t had time to tell her someone’s moved in.”

 

Bethany knocks a moment later and Hawke unlocks the door and is immediately knocked to the floor by Dog.  

 

“You weigh one hundred pounds,” he wheezes at her, closing his eyes as she licks his face. “You cannot pretend to be a puppy any longer! Bethany, grab her collar, please.”

 

“Come now, sweet girl,” coos Bethany, gripping Dog’s collar and tugging sharply. “Don’t crush Garrett—Oh! Hello. I didn’t realise you had company, brother!”

 

With a final push against Dog’s chest, Hawke sits up and wipes saliva off his face, turning to look at Fenris, who is still hovering awkwardly near the kitchen doorway. “He’s not company, Bethy. He’s Fenris. He lives here now. Fenris, this is my baby sister, Bethany.”

 

“It is nice to meet you,” says Fenris politely.

 

“I’m so sorry,” gasps Bethany, covering her mouth with her hands and, in the process, letting go of Dog’s collar. Dog surges forward, cracking Hawke’s head with her muzzle. “I had no idea there was anyone here! I’m always up so early, I come and walk the dog, I’m sorry. I’ve woken you up!”

 

“You have not,” says Fenris reassuringly. “Hawke did that himself, when he lit his toast on fire.”

 

“It wasn’t properly on fire,” Hawke protests. He is reminded of his gnawing hunger and mourns the loss of his toast. “Just lightly smoking.”

 

“Well, I’ve brought you breakfast,” says Bethany. “So there’s that, at least.”

 

With a final affectionate shove, Hawke gets Dog off him and stands up, pulling Bethany into a hug and kissing her loudly on the top of her head. “You’re my favourite sister.”

 

“I’m your only sister,” says Bethany, voice muffled by Hawke’s chest. “Ew, Garrett, you’re not wearing a shirt and you need a shower. Get off.”

 

“My favourite sibling, then,” corrects Hawke, ruffling her hair and releasing her.

 

“I won’t tell Carver, I suppose,” she sighs, straightening her clothes. “Fenris, next time, I can bring breakfast for you, too. I’ll leave it in the fridge like I do for Garrett, sometimes.”

 

Hawke is infinitely grateful he gets to bear witness to Fenris’s resultant blush. “That is very kind, but not necessary,” he says hurriedly. “Thank you.”

 

“Oh, it’s nothing,” says Bethany, waving a hand dismissively. “When did you move in? I used to live here, you know. I moved out last year.”

 

“Last night,” Hawke and Fenris say simultaneously, sounding equally despondent about it.

 

Bethany laughs. “An eventful morning, then. Goodness, I had no idea you were even here. I didn’t wake you up when I came in?”

 

“Evidently not,” says Fenris dryly. “I assumed the dog would bark at anything suspicious.”

 

“She doesn’t bark at me,” says Bethany, bending to pet Dog. “I’m usually quiet when I come in, anyway. I walk her on Garrett’s days off, as well, when he’s passed out until noon.”

 

“Please tell me I don’t have to have another set of keys made for you,” says Hawke. “Where did you lose them? Out of doors?”

 

“Oh, I didn’t lose them at all,” says Bethany. She goes into the kitchen and plucks her keys up off the counter. “I must have put them down when I came in and locked myself out. Right. I’m leaving you breakfast and then I’m heading to the library. I have an exam this afternoon.” She shrugs out of her backpack and undoes the zipper, removing a plastic bag and setting it down on the counter. “It’s only McDonald’s, the usual place was closed.”

 

“Manna from the heavens, honestly,” says Hawke, opening the top of the sack and sticking his face inside to inhale. “I had Doritos for dinner last night.”

 

“That’s awful,” sighs Bethany. She turns towards Fenris, who straightens up in the kitchen doorway, trying to pretend like he hasn’t been silently judging Hawke during the entire conversation. “Fenris, it was lovely to meet you. Sorry about all this.”

 

“Think nothing of it.” Fenris holds out his hand for a shake, but Bethany goes in for a hug instead; he is briefly startled, then returns the quick squeeze.

 

“Call you later, okay?” Bethany says to Hawke as she pulls away and shoulders her bag. “And check your email, I think Carver sent you something. Bye!”

 

“Bye, love,” says Hawke with a distracted wave, busy retrieving his breakfast from the bag. “Thanks for this!”

 

Dog follows Bethany to the door, her claws clicking on the linoleum, and Hawke can hear Bethany pausing to say goodbye to her, as well.

 

He pulls out his Egg McMuffin and sighs happily. “Would you like a hash brown? Bethy always gets me two,” he says to Fenris, mostly because he suspects Fenris will refuse. He doesn’t mention the two breakfast burritos in the bottom of the bag. Or the apple pie.

 

“No thank you,” says Fenris, his lips pursing like he’s hiding a smile. “I will attempt to go back to sleep. Enjoy your breakfast.”

 

Hawke watches him go. He suspects, despite the disastrous start, that at least things probably can’t get any worse. The same chain of events likely won’t happen again. He hopes.

 

He eats his sandwich in three bites, covers the hash browns in ketchup, and eats them over the sink while Dog whines at his feet and Hawke mumbles “You’re not allowed people food,” through a full mouth.

 

When he’s finished eating, he rations out Dog’s morning kibble for her, feels guilty about the lingering scent of sausage in the kitchen, and adds a can of foul-smelling wet food to her bowl. Belly full and Dog fed and watered, Hawke finally cleans up the kitchen, washes his hands, and finishes dumping his clothes into the washing machine. He nearly falls asleep in the shower, jerking awake twice before he musters the energy required to lather and rinse out his hair.

 

He’s on his way to bed, wrapped in a towel, when Fenris re-emerges from his bedroom.

 

“Have a good day,” says Hawke through a yawn, stepping to the side to let Fenris past him in the narrow hallway.

 

“Good night, Hawke,” says Fenris. He’s wearing a worn sweatshirt over his pyjama top, now, and the sleeves are too long, Hawke notices. They cover his hands. Unbearable.

 

“Not unless I successfully hibernate like a bear for the next six months,” says Hawke cheerfully. “But thank you. I appreciate the sentiment.”

 

Fenris’s eyebrows are so mobile. Very expressive. “You’re welcome,” he says flatly. Then he turns away and continues on to the bathroom and Hawke lets out a slow breath.

 

“Marry me,” he whispers.

 

“What?” says Fenris, half-turning.

 

What?” Hawke practically yells. “I said good night!” He slams his bedroom door and leans against it, heart pounding.

 

Smooth. So smooth. Hawke is a walking disaster.

 

oOo

 

“Then I said ‘Marry me,’ and he actually turned around,” says Hawke. “Take that pillow and press it gently over my face until I stop breathing, please.”

 

“I’d love to,” says Bran, “If it will end this painful adolescent regression.” He picks up a squashed pillow and starts to lower it over Hawke’s face with disturbing intent.

 

“I’ve changed my mind,” says Hawke, snagging Bran’s wrist to halt the looming downward motion. “Your eager compliance is worrying.”

 

“Your face is worrying,” mumbles Bran. He drops the pillow and it bounces off Hawke’s forehead. “Are we going to fuck again, or not?”

 

“I am trying to have a serious discussion with you.” Hawke rolls over so that he can prop himself up over Bran, then blankets himself over his chest.

 

“Oof,” grunts Bran. His eyes are closed and his face is shadowed in the dim light of his bedroom. He’s just a mass of rumpled red hair and pale freckled skin. “Garrett, your chin is digging in.”

 

“Are we cuddling? Is this what’s happening here?” asks Hawke mildly. “Dangerously close to relationship territory, don’t you think?”

 

Bran’s eyes open and even despite the lack of light, the look of disgust on his pinched face is clear. He groans and puts a hand out to push at Hawke’s shoulder. “Roll over.”

 

“Bossy. I’m not a dog,” says Hawke. “I didn’t hear a please. Or get a treat.”

 

“I cannot believe I regularly sleep with such an idiot,” mumbles Bran.

 

“Oh, who else are you sleeping with?” asks Hawke blithely.

 

Bran lets out a low, continuous groan and covers his face with his hands. “If you’re not going to roll over and spread your legs, get out of this bed right this instant. You’re banned. I hate you.”

 

“Well, I already knew that,” huffs Hawke, but he rolls over onto his belly and looks over at Bran, waggling his eyebrows.

 

“Ugh,” mutters Bran, smacking Hawke lightly on the hip. “No, don’t do that. I don’t want to see your face. Don’t remind me what I’m willingly engaging in here.”

 

“You’re going to give me a complex,” says Hawke, resting his chin on his crossed arms and closing his eyes. “I’m very delicate.”

 

“Yes, you’re a proper wilting flower, Garrett,” says Bran, sounding vaguely exasperated. “That is exactly how I would describe you to my friends.”

 

Hawke can feel him shifting around behind him, then Bran’s hands settle on his hips, and Hawke obligingly spreads his thighs and yawns into the circle of his arms. “I’m your friend,” says Hawke. “If we’re being technical. Friends with benefits.”

 

“Or just ‘with benefits,” says Bran. “Did we ever even make it to the ‘friends’ portion? If you fall asleep while I’m fucking you, I am never letting you darken my doorway again.” Bran goes so far as pinching his rear, which, rude.

 

Hawke makes an irritated noise and squirms. “Please. This isn’t on me, love. If your dick doesn’t have the power to keep me awake, then unfortunately the blame falls squarely on you. Anyway, if I fall asleep, who cares? Just…” He lifts a hand and waves it dismissively. “Do your thing. I don’t mind.”

 

“That’s quite possibly the laziest thing you’ve ever said to me,” huffs Bran, settling between his legs and curling his fingers around Hawke’s hips, squeezing gently. “Only I don’t want you here tomorrow morning, petal.”

 

“Then get on with it,” groans Hawke. “Before we both die of old age.”

 

“You’ll get there first,” teases Bran, leaning over Hawke close enough that his lips brush the shell of his ear. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed the charming silver, growing in right here.” He taps at Hawke’s temple.

 

“It’s premature. And distinguished,” grunts Hawke, brow furrowing. “I’m distinguished. You’re ginger. You don’t understand.”

 

“It’s a real pity very little you say makes sense,” murmurs Bran. He brushes his fingers down the dip of Hawke’s spine. “You’re not bad looking, and going to the gym every other day is really paying off.”

 

“Brandon, are you really going to sit there and just—”

 

Bran leans in, the head of his cock just catching at Hawke’s slick, loosened rim, and Hawke arches up, just a little, biting his lower lip at the brief, frustrating tease. The mattress dips, Bran planting his fists either side of Hawke’s head, and he uses this leverage to roll his hips hard enough to bury his dick balls-deep in Hawke in one easy thrust.

 

“That’s the stuff,” sighs Hawke, using his elbow to prop his body up high enough to draw his knee under his body, opening himself up to a better angle of entry.

 

“Hold still,” mutters Bran. “I thought you were going to go to sleep.”

 

“Still a chance of that,” says Hawke, jaw cracking on a yawn. He groans at a particularly deep roll of Bran’s hips, arousal pooling hot in the base of his gut. “Mmm. S’nice. You fuck like you’re singing me a lullaby.”

 

“What is wrong with you,” says Bran, but Hawke grins into his hands at the poorly-disguised laughter in his voice.

 

“I’m funny and charming,” says Hawke through another yawn. He drops his head back down, groping for a pillow to jam under his neck.

 

“You never stop talking.” Bran leans in, hitching a hand under the knee Hawke has pulled up, and they both groan at his next thrust. “There’s a difference between ‘funny and charming’ and ‘repetitive useless commentary.’ What did you do with that gag I got you?”

 

Hawke rubs his face against his arm, sweat prickling on his skin as the lazy roll of Bran’s hips teases at his building arousal, toes curling. “It’s… in the drawer next to my bed,” grunts Hawke, increasingly distracted. “You should have kept it here if you actually wanted to use it.”

 

They rarely have sex at Hawke’s apartment. Bran has a bigger bed and has never had roommates.

 

Bran touches his forehead to the space between Hawke’s shoulders, panting breaths warming his spine.

 

While Hawke doesn’t think he’s actually going to fall asleep, now, he closes his eyes and lets Bran do all the work.

 

“I can’t reach your cock, you lazy bastard,” mutters Bran.

 

“You wouldn’t know what to do with it even if you could,” retorts Hawke.

 

“You—little shit,” gasps Bran, hips jerking as he comes. He pulls out and smacks Hawke on the arse. “Roll over.”

 

“Again with the bossy commands.” Hawke levers himself onto his back, dick slapping him in the belly. He peers up at Bran through half-lidded eyes, reaching for shaggy red hair and tugging on it.

 

Bran huffs and bats Hawke’s hand away. Then he descends on Hawke’s cock, swallowing him down with perfunctory efficiency, Hawke arching into the tight heat of his mouth with a startled curse.

 

“Now get out,” says Bran, when Hawke’s come and Bran’s spat gracelessly into a tissue. “I have work in the morning.”

 

“Romance is dead,” says Hawke gravely. He looks around for his clothes, spots jeans and hoodie and no underwear. Leaning over Bran’s legs, he picks up a sock. “This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife….”

 

Bran makes an exasperated noise into his pillow and buries his face in it. “I’m sleeping. Come back next week.”

 

Hawke takes a pair of Bran’s underwear and puts those on instead, sliding off the bed to collect the rest of his clothes, getting dressed piece by piece until he’s mostly fit for public again. He bends over Bran to kiss the top of his head. “Good night, snowdrop.”

 

“Get ooooout,” groans Bran, reaching up to blindly wave Hawke away. “Lock the door on your way out.”

 

Hawke collects his keys and backpack, finds his shoes, and lets himself out of Bran’s apartment.

 

It’s just about midnight when he gets home and Fenris is still up, sitting on the couch with a book.

 

“Ah, hello,” says Hawke, dropping down into the armchair and picking up the remote.

 

“Hawke,” acknowledges Fenris, though he doesn’t look up from his book. “I thought you’d gone to work.”

 

“Oh, no, I don’t work Sunday nights,” explains Hawke. “I had a date with Brandon, only he’s kicked me out because he works tomorrow morning. I think I lost my underpants.”

 

Fenris’s large green eyes lift slowly from the pages of his book to fix on Hawke’s face, one eyebrow inching up in a silent, damning question.

 

“I just took a pair of his instead,” says Hawke dismissively. He turns on the television and flips to the Food Network. “I promise I am wearing underpants.”

 

“What a relief,” says Fenris dryly. “The state of your drawers would have kept me up all night, had you not shared that vital information.”

 

“I’m starving,” says Hawke. “How about you? I’ll make pancakes.”

 

“I—”

 

“I’m making them regardless,” admits Hawke, getting to his feet and going into the kitchen. “It’s useless to say no.”

 

From the living room, Hawke hears Fenris let out a weary sigh. “Pancakes sound…nice.”