Ash on the tongue. Oh, the valley still smouldered, a haze of smoke rising in columns in the motionless air. Scales in the weak sunlight, yellow and black, shimmering faintly. An appearance of life lent for a while to a body that must be starting to cool.
Against Dorian's neck, the Bull was grinning, pulse racing with excitement, breathing hard from the fight.
Dorian's fingers smeared soot and dragon's blood across his cheek, sent his breath shuddering. A delighted laugh from Dorian, breathless himself, gorgeously uninhibited.
"Do you have any idea," Bull growled, "how fucking good you looked standing against that thing? Gorgeous as it was. Stronger than it. Damn. Damn, Dorian, we're fucking heroes, look at us—"
Laughter again, Dorian's head thrown back, body arched against the rock-face they'd ducked around. He could feel Dorian's heartbeat under his mouth, the way it picked up as the Bull touched him. A hand curled under his ass, squeezing through leather. A leg shoved between his thighs, pressing up against his unmistakably hard dick.
A sharp bite to Dorian's clavicle where his collar had loosened, tongued at to bring out a bruise, set Dorian gasping, hissing at the pleasure-pain of it that he'd reluctantly admitted to craving so many months ago. Set his left hand clawing roughly at the Bull's bare shoulder, and oh, oh, damn, that was—damn—
His hips jerked, dick rubbing up against Dorian's thigh, straps and fastenings dragging.
The glove on Dorian's left hand was clawed, the gauntlet drawn out to delicate points over the fingertips, leather on the palm. Sure, he'd noticed it. Such a Dorian piece of drama, hardly a bit of metal on him besides it. Yeah, he was into it, in the way he was into everything about Dorian.
"Do that again," he said. "Claws like a dragon—Kadan—"
Dorian's hand tightened, dragged, probably not hard enough to draw blood, but good, fucking amazing, a brilliant sharp sting. A rougher press, points digging in hard, as the Bull bit again at the base of his throat, placed a kiss on the same spot.
"Would you mind terribly," Dorian said, severity undermined by the hitch in his breathing, the convulsive flexing of his fingers against the Bull's shoulder, "doing something with my cock some time this year? I'm not particular as to what. You generally have—mm—ideas—"
The Bull's turn to laugh then, to surge up and kiss Dorian's lips, overflowing with an affection he didn't have words for.
"I should have you fuck me," he murmured against Dorian's lips, to feel how Dorian shuddered. "Have you pin me to the ground with those claws digging into my back. Bet you could get me off just from that. Fucking me nice and hard, you can be so damn merciless—"
Dorian scrambled to kiss him again, frantic, grasping at his head to hold him close. Panted into it. Teeth harsh against the Bull's bottom lip. The metallic bloom of blood in the mouth, and then foreheads pressed together, a little smear of red on Dorian's chin.
Dorian's breath came hot, hotter. A wicked smile, eyes crinkling.
A delicate curl of smoke between them, spilling from dorian's lips.
The Bull's turn to shudder, full-body. Inhale sharply through the nose.
Another rough kiss, and the Bull drew the remnants of the smoke into his lungs, impossibly intimate. Breathed it out again, the exhalation uneven with the force of his arousal.
A rush to loosen Dorian's leggings, letting the leathers on his legs be; enough space to touch skin, no more. Such an easy task, usually. He fumbled with the lacing, cursed against Dorian's mouth, cursed again as Dorian huffed laughter, drew new lines across his shoulder.
"Not helping," he said—growled, really, his voice rougher than he'd expected.
"I seem, however, to be holding your interest," Dorian said, sly. Groaned as the Bull finally wrenched the damned leggings out of the way, the stitching straining.
Nothing complicated, here: the rough slide of their dicks against each other, rough rolls of the hips, kissing and kissing and kissing until Dorian breathed a slurred profanity against the Bull's mouth—came hard, whole-body jolts.
The first group of scouts had arrived to begin the hard work of butchering the corpse when they returned, Dorian's collar buttoned up carefully over the Bull's bite marks, blood scrubbed hurriedly from his face. Bull's shoulder, lined with welts and shallow cuts, one or two deeper puncture wounds—that, he wasn't hiding.
"Cor," Sera said, delighted. "You get ambushed by a dragonling while you were trying to get your rocks off or something?"
"A drake, in fact," Dorian said, with rather too pleased a smile. No sputtering denial. Interesting. "Bull, you realise you're going to have to allow me to put some salve on those wounds of yours."
"No way," the Bull said. "Might not scar then."
"Sometimes," Dorian said, "I wonder how it is that you're still alive."
But the look that he directed at the Bull, behind Sera's back, gave an impression entirely separate from the tone of his words.
"Later, then," the Bull said easily. "Celebration drinks first."
"Later," Dorian agreed. "It's as well you have me to take care of you, isn't it."
"Ugh," Sera said. "Be gross somewhere else."
The excitement that thrummed through the Bull as they turned back towards the Crossroads was as much anticipation as the satisfaction of a good fight, a good fuck. Later, Dorian said, and then that quick hot look just for him.
Later, then: Dorian cross-legged on a rug by the fire, cloth in hand, meticulous in cleaning his armour. A loose shirt draped around him, a cup of dubious ale balanced on the edge of the hearth. His cock was soft between his bare legs. The Bull wanted to bury his face there, mouth at it, feel the delicate skin against his lips, the slow swell of it. Wanted—oh, all kinds of other things that were less familiar to him. Harder to get.
"No," Dorian said without looking up, an attractive hint of colour to his cheeks. "We were filthy. I refuse to allow it. Nor do I understand it, I must confess. I appreciate that you have certain feelings about scars, but this is hardly a, a—battle wound."
"Oh?" the Bull said. "You think I'm not as proud of you as I am of that?"
"That's," Dorian said, looked up sharply, seemed to find himself at a loss for words. "I hardly think—"
"Hey, Dorian," the Bull said, as gently as he could past the knot of emotions that sat lodged in his throat. "It's fine. I know you're going to have to leave. I get it." Corypheus two months dead, and how much longer would Dorian be able to delay himself? Not someone to throw away principle for sentiment, Dorian. Not when the principles were his own.
"You ever think," the Bull said, "that I might want something to remember you by?"
The strap Dorian was cleaning tumbled from his hands, the buckle clattering against the stone of the hearth.
"Kaffas," he said, with feeling; stared blankly at the thing, like it had betrayed him.
Against their silence, the sputtering of the fire grew loud. Wind across the hollow mouth of the chimney.
"You might consider a more ordinary sort of romantic token," Dorian said at length.
"Didn't think you liked ordinary," the Bull said.
That shocked an uneven laugh from Dorian. "You have me there, I suppose," he said.
"I'd hope so," the Bull said.
Dorian's lips twitched. A smile? Nearly
"You are speaking, of course, of something permanent," he said. "Which I must say seems rather reckless of you, considering the nature of our—" he gestured vaguely into the space between them.
"Relationship," the Bull said.
"Yes," Dorian confessed, voice gone low and hoarse.
"I'm not ashamed," the Bull said. "I'm not going to be ashamed, even if I'm not what you need one day. Even if we never see each other again. You've already left your mark on me. I'm good with that."
A shudder. Shit, the Bull could feel how much Dorian wanted to believe him.
"I'm going to clean your shoulder," Dorian said. "But if you are so terribly determined then I imagine that we might—find a compromise." His flush deepened, but his expression didn't falter.
The gauntlet lay spotlessly clean upon the neat folds of Dorian's discarded tunic. Dorian's gaze lingered on it.
We've come so far, the Bull thought; and what an overwhelming swell of pride came with that knowledge.
"Alright," he said. "You got it, big guy."
The sting of alcohol. The sharply medicinal smell of the paste that Dorian smeared across his broken skin with careful, but not gentle, hands.
"Tell me," Dorian said against his ear, "exactly what it is you need."
The Bull's laugh was a desperate noise, cut off almost as soon as it escaped him. "Told you earlier," he said.
"Tell me again," Dorian said. Teasing a little, though his hand was warm and steady on the Bull's arm. "Not in the heat of the moment. Come now, you've made that point to me often enough."
"Fuck me," the Bull said. "Hold me down and fuck me. Give me some good deep marks. Make sure they're deep enough to scar. Legs, maybe. Hips. Across my back for everyone to see. Your call. You're good at this shit. You know what's safe. I trust you."
Dorian bowed his head to the Bull's uninjured shoulder for a moment, exhaled, the suggestion of a moan. The Bull brought his hand up to cover Dorian's.
"To be perfectly clear," Dorian said, and his voice trembled with humour now, "you would like the evil mage from Tevinter to draw blood. That is the central point of your request, yes?"
And oh, that laughter had the Bull laughing again too even as his whole body sang with an abruptly heightened desire, had him twisting to kiss Dorian, grinning against his lips. Dorian, Dorian, the unhappy twist of his mouth as he talked about blood a year before. Dorian, so relaxed against him now.
"Shit yeah," the Bull said. "I'm feeling let down. Thought you'd have your way with me more often."
"Believe me, I intend to rectify that," Dorian said.
How the mood could shift in a moment. Intensity to laughter to intensity again.
Dorian shifted to see him better, touched his face, drew his fingers along the angles of it—watched with such focus as he did so. "Bull," he said, so softly. "Sometimes I think I'd rather simply not leave."
"Yeah," the Bull said. "I know. It's alright."
"Not particularly," Dorian said. "But thank you for saying so."
A slower kiss. Some things still had to be unspoken. Well, they'd get there. Wouldn't they?
Oh, but to fuck—yeah, to fuck was good, the last excitement from the fight making itself felt, mixing with the kick he always got from seeing Dorian all gorgeous and naked and wound up tight with arousal. Dorian kneeling tall and poised between his legs, fingers deft on the buckles of the gauntlet. The experimental flex of his hand, setting the metal glittering in the light.
A flare of warmth across his skin, the familiarly unfamiliar forms of Dorian's magic twisting in the air around his raised hand, and the metal glowed briefly, curled smoke. Theatre and practicality, and the Bull hardly knew right then which he appreciated more.
Dorian reached carefully forward, pressed only the sharp points of the gauntlet's claws to the Bull's side, touch without pressure. Heat, though—less than the Bull had expected, but enough to make him groan, eye fluttering closed.
When he opened it again, Dorian was looking at him with open wonder.
Standard procedure said: goad him a bit, make it a joke, make it about bravado. Another fun tumble.
The Bull let himself breathe; let himself hold Dorian's gaze.
Allowed himself silence.
Dorian's fingers tightened against his skin, more deliberately than that afternoon. The bright clean pain of it. The first slow well of blood.
"Fuck," the Bull breathed.
Dorian's smile was a quiet thing.
"I want you in me," the Bull said. Unsoftened by laughter. As bare as he'd let himself be since—when? "Your dick in me. Your fucking claws in my skin."
The points of the gauntlet dug deeper. The Bull gasped with it.
His dick swelled where it lay against the crease of his thigh.
When Dorian bent forward to caress his face, metal to skin, it was the Bull's own blood that smeared along the line of his jaw. Was it the thing itself that made him shudder, or the memory of the dragon's blood, the heady smell of it that seemed to linger with him although no physical traces remained?
Both, of course.
So then: Dorian moving slowly in him, the roll of his hips deliberate, unrelenting. Not quite enough, on and on until it became the same thing as too much.
Dorian's hand curled around his leg, buckles biting into his skin. A set of firm, even lines, pulled from his hip halfway to his knee, the Bull's body lifting and turning into it at Dorian's encouragement. The cuts had him inhaling sharply; the changed angle of Dorian's dick inside him as he moved had him crying out on the exhale. To bleed in battle was heady enough, but this—oh, this—to have the space to only feel it, blossom and fade and ache, the gradual warm seeping of his blood across his skin. To have it coupled with the gentle slide of Dorian's bare hand across his stomach, with that look on Dorian's face—lips parted in pleasure, eyes soft.
Something unknown, unknowable, this other ache opening in his chest—oh yes, he knew its name, but not its shape and not its rules.
But he knew what it was to want Dorian, at least. To feel Dorian as his own beating heart. Friend, comrade, confidante—and also—
Here, this, this exact thing. Not the form of it, Dorian bowed above him, gauntleted hand to the front of his shoulder, bare hand to his side. Not the convulsive clench of both, Dorian's lip caught between his teeth, Dorian's dick jerking inside the Bull. Not the tear of the Bull's skin, not the pleasure tightening his balls, as keenly as he felt it all—but only, far beyond the specific form of it—
Only to show oneself for what one was. To have it taken and held as though it was precious.
"Oh," he said, and, "Dorian," and, "fuck, fuck, you're so—"
Dorian's breath came heavily. His hand slipped on the Bull's skin, left a messy smear behind it.
"I know," he said, and if he meant it to sound like his usual flippant game of narcissism he missed his mark.
What a thing to have etched onto one's skin. Nothing better. Between Dorian and a dragon fight, oh, it was no contest.
And then, after, what was it—Dorian panting open-mouthed against the Bull's chest, hair disheveled under the Bull's unsteady hands, that fine strength in the line of his neck. What a mess they had made of the room, the Bull noted absently, with no little pride. It'd have to be cleared up before they moved on, no sense leaving some poor underpaid shit to deal with blood and come and torn sheets.
Later. So many laters.
"Dorian," he said, ran his hands over the curve of Dorian's skull, over the muscles of his shoulders, soothing. "Hey, hey, come up here and kiss me."
The taste of salt.
"I suspect," Dorian said, "I may find that a part of me remains with you, all the same."
"Yeah," the Bull said, and twined their fingers together—lay their hands, sticky and stained, between their hearts. "I'll take care of it."