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Overexposed

Chapter Text

The darkroom door clashed against the wall as Solas stormed into its crimson shadows cast by the dim safelight. The door secured itself rapidly behind him as he began to pace the length of the room, lost in the throes of his agitation.

The department meeting had not gone how he had planned. His proposal for having his current teaching assistant assigned to him full time, instead of having to share him, was denied by the chair of the department—the professor the assistant split his time with.

Solas had made a great case, gotten some of the other art professors on his side, even pointing out that being the department chair, that infuriating woman could have any other assistant she wanted, and then they both could have had full time graduate assistants teaching in their classrooms, but no. Professor Lavellan was feisty and stubborn, and insisted on irking every last one of his nerves by rejecting his notion. If she was hoping he would give up Cole in exchange for a different full time assistant in his classes then she was sorely mistaken. Cole was brilliant, an immense asset with promising talent--and Lavellan knew it too. Which was precisely why she wasn’t about to give him up either.

She gave him a counter-proposal since neither of them would budge on Cole--to share another assistant to make up the full twenty hours of delegated help.A first year graduate art student by the name of Sera—and a week to consider her offer.

His pacing slowed as his irritation faded. He took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose as he sorted out his remaining thoughts. Her proposal was not desirable, but not completely terrible. He would need the extra help in his classes with the date of the upcoming Winter Art Showcase looming in next few months. The upside of the offer was it he would gain another pair of eyes, a fresh mind to bring ideas to the drawing board. The downside was this new assistant, Sera, would have no idea how he operated and would need time to acclimate. Solas also knew nothing about this new student so it would take some adjusting on his part too—which he wouldn’t have to do with Cole. He had already established rapport with the young man who knew exactly what Solas wanted out of every project, and was familiar with his teaching styles.

Thinking about Cole sparked his memory of why he had even sought out the darkroom in the first place. Cole had been developing his latest batch of film earlier this morning and had asked him to collect the photos he had left to dry while he was in class.

He walked to far side of the room where all the newly developed photos were hanging to dry. With a gentle hand he began to pluck the dried photos from the line, casually glancing at their subject matter until one in particular caught his eye.

His jaw went slack.

A semi-naked figure was basking in dim rays of light falling from the upper left side of the photo. It was just the perfect amount of illumination to highlight the curves of her form that were masked behind a crimson piece of fabric draped around her body. He quickly glanced at the next photo hanging on the line in front of him.

These were most definitely not Cole’s photographs.

He felt a sudden rush of blood flood his face as he realized just who it was posed in the pictures. He glanced back down at the photos in his hands, flipping through them with new found curiosity. And the warmth continued to spread across his cheeks as the photos became more and more...revealing.

It took him a second to notice the pictures flowed in a progression, as part of a collection.

He looked back up at the next photo hanging on the line. He stopped pulling them down and simply studied each one instead. He found himself hypnotized by the story that was unfolding before his eyes. He was captivated.

The fabric had fallen away from her shoulders, exposing the slender slope of her back. Her head had turned to the side, peering over the cusp of her shoulder with eyes that smoldered like dying embers, bright and alluring. In the next photo she had moved to face the camera, the fabric that had been keeping her modesty intact had all but fallen away—held up only by clenched fist in the center of her chest. The other hand was reaching out towards him.

His fingers ghosted over the glossy surface of the picture. He had always known Lavellan was beautiful, but never let himself acknowledge it until now.

And it compeletly overthrew him.

Studying the image closer, he noticed there were painted handprints on her body--in a bright white ink contrasting with the her ochre skin that left marks along her jaw, enclosed around her throat, her shoulders, arms, down her chest…

He should have looked away, should have quietly and quickly repined the photos and walked away. This was a personal collection. But he couldn’t tear his gaze from her face as she peered at him through heavy lidded eyes, begging him to stay locked there with her.

He was so enveloped by her gentle beauty he failed to register the sound of the darkroom door opening and the woman that slipped in.

Solas?”

At the sound of her gasp, Solas tore his eyes off Lavellan in the photograph to spin around and face the very real Lavellan standing a few feet in front of him, her eyes widening so large in shock her eyebrows disappeared under her carefully styled bangs. A hand was covering her mouth.

He jumped, so startled by her sudden presence that he accidently dropped the photos he was holding as he bumped into the counter behind him, sending them fluttering around at his feet.

“Venus—I—

“Oh my gods, how much did you see— “

“I did not mean to---I—I mean— “

Fenedhis— “

“I apologize— “

He immediately dropped to his knees and began to collect the fallen pictures, his ears and face burning. She had caught him red-handed, gaping at pictures of her practically naked. This was just going to make the already complicated relationship between them that much more…complicated. Not to mention every time he looked at her now, he would be picturing how beautifully the curve of her bare back arched in repose. He was grateful for the redshifted glow from the safelight masking his what otherwise would have been very noticeably prominent blush. A half a beat later she was on her knees too, picking up the last few pictures off the floor before snatching the remaining photos from his hands and quickly assembling them into their proper order.

What were you doing?” She hissed, her shock quickly evaporating into irritation.

“Cole asked a favor of me, I thought those were his photos until I noticed the subject…” He replied, spying one last photo that had landed a few feet to his right.

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Cole sent me here to get his photos.” She followed his line of sight and spotted the last picture.

This wasn’t the first time Cole had asked one of them to do something for him, forgetting that he had previously asked the other first. Or maybe he did it on purpose. Solas was beginning to these “accidental” run ins were not so coincidental anymore.

They both reached for it at the same time, fingers brushing over each other as they placed their hands on the photo. They locked gazes again.

His heart leapt into his throat as she heatedly stared him down, her hand still resting on his. The tension between them was magnetic, he could feel it pulling him in deeper into those luminous golden eyes.

She took a sharp, hitching intake of breath when they were but a few inches from one another and shook her head breaking their contest, bangs falling into her bright eyes blocking their glow and he snapped out of his trance.

She yanked the picture out from under his hand. “Regardless, you shouldn’t have been looking at these!”

She clutched them to her chest, her expression twisting into an embarrassed glare. Which only drew his attention to her mouth, and what a lovely shape her lips were even when pursed.

Solas cleared his throat.

“Perhaps avoid hanging such risqué collections in public settings, then unsuspecting patrons would not accidentally stumble upon them.”

“This room has no scheduled classes for the next two hours!”

Regardless.” He said tilting his head, imitating the patronizing tone she had used on him. But then he softened his voice and added, “But…they are beautiful photos.”

He couldn’t help the slightly smug tug of his lips watching her fluster to come up to retort.

 “It—I--Pretend you didn’t see anything.” She stammered briskly as she scrambled to her feet, now suddenly unable to meet his gaze.

He watched as she bolted out the door. Between the pounding of his heart and the racing of his thoughts, he had no idea how to react to all this. He glanced down at his hand, flexing his fingers as if to shake off the lingering sensation of the way hers felt draped over his.

And the worst part was he should have known better that to let himself get sucked in. Desperate for a distraction, he rose and busied himself with Cole’s request. He searched the room thoroughly.

Twice.

Cole’s photographs were nowhere to be found.


 

Taking a generous sip from glass of her pinot noir, Venus dipped a painted toe into her steaming bath, testing its temperature. It was perfect. She set down her wine glass on the far edge of the tub, next to a cluster of rose scented candles she had lit to add more ambiance. She unfastened the belt of her robe and let it fall to the floor in one flourishing gesture, leaving her bare. She had deserved this damn it. It had been a long, taxing and tenuous day; the first week of the new semester had finally come to a close, she had successfully held the first department meeting and effectively kept Solas in his place without too much backlash.

Except for the events that transpired in the darkroom shortly after.

She pressed a hand against her forehead and pushed down the embarrassment that threatened to rise up again. How had she been so stupid to leave her private collection hanging there. It was extremely intimate, and not just because the content was more explicit in nature. The meaning behind the photos was personal, and wasn’t something she wanted to share with just anyone—especially from work. That collection was for a gala coming up outside of her job as one of the leading art professors at the University of Orlais. It was a big deal she was even showcasing them at an exhibition (where no one would know her, she was entering anonymously) at all.

Though Solas wasn’t just anyone, she had been working with him now for a few years and had developed a peculiar relationship with him. At times they shared a light-hearted comradery over their shared love of the arts. But, they also butt heads a lot over teaching styles. He preferred a more traditional approach, utilizing ancient techniques to make his artwork stand out. While she gave the ancient styles a modern twist. He disagreed with her way of mixing the two. So naturally that turned their professional relationship into a competition; constantly trying to out-do one another, a friendly rivalry of sorts. They knew how to get underneath one another’s skin and push them to the edge but not over.

She cringed again when she remembered her hasty and ungraceful retreat from the darkroom. Leaving herself exposed in that context was a stupid failing on her part and now gave him a one up on her. She knew Solas had access to that room too—they were the only professors that taught film photography, in addition to their other classes, so of course he would be able to get in and out of that room at any given moment. Next time she would be more careful. She cursed herself for not having been able to voice herself better in the moment but her resolve melted the moment they accidentally touched.

 Creators damn him and the effect he had on her. Though she’d never let him know the extent of that.

She needed to unwind.

Putting the day, and thoughts of Solas aside, she stepped into the bath. She couldn’t help but let out a heady groan as she slipped into the heated water. She could practically feel it draining the tension that had pent up in her back as she settled in, with the aid of the wine too, playfully batting aside some of the bubbles that had built up at her neck. She took a moment to just let the warmth envelope her, drowning out all her senses and relaxing all her muscles.

She trailed her fingers down the swells of thighs, smiling as she tenderly massaged away her stress. She felt good, confident...

sexy.

She let her tipsy mind wander onto less stressful things, like how wonderfully her date went last weekend with Soris—the elf from the city she had casually started seeing a few weeks ago. It was nothing serious, more a much needed distraction. She focused on how his touch felt against her bare skin, while gliding her fingers between her thighs. She wondered if he’d want to do it again, he seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed himself as much as she had…

Then an idea popped into her head.

She reached out, lazily dabbing her wet hand on her robe before snagging her phone off the lid of the toilet seat adjacent to her. She swiped her thumb across the screen and unlocked it. She opened the camera feature and held the phone up.

She readjusted her body, arching her back ever so slightly. With her free hand she rearranged the bubbles so that there were barely any covering her body, revealing every inch of her smooth skin. She picked up her wine glass again and held it aside her lips, which she caught between her teeth and twisted her mouth into an alluring smile. Tilting her head and body in several coquettish poses while she snapped a few shots.

She sipped her wine while she evaluated each picture, finally settling on the one that had her breasts in full view breaking the surface of the water, exposed skin glistening with only a hint of bubbles floating just above the junction of her thighs. She liked that one. She looked good. She could hardly contain the fluttering sensation in her stomach as she attached the picture to a text that said simply “care to join me?”. She rapidly typed out the first few letters of his name in the recipient line, selecting him from the list of people that automatically popped up and hit send.

She rested her phone where she had previously set her wine and settled in to wait for a response, quite pleased with herself.

She didn’t have to wait too long before her phone went off, signaling a new message had arrived.

But when she opened it, she began choking on the wine she had been trying to swallow.

It was a picture of Solas.

Solas.

Granted he was clothed, but gone was his worn and paint smudged sweater and in its place was a freshly pressed white button down shirt—that he had rolled the sleeves to reveal his lightly freckled forearms. He wore a snug, dark green vest over it that hugged his torso in all the right places, accentuating the broadness of his shoulders. He was lifting his own wine glass in mock cheers, a brow quirked as a small smile tugged at the edges of his mouth.

She temporarily forgot how to breathe as her brain short circuited. A new rush of heat spread throughout her body that absolutely nothing to do with the temperature of her bath.

Because the only thing she could focus on was how damn fine he looked in a vest.

She shook her head vigorously.  She should not be thinking about Solas in that way. He was her co-worker. So why then had he even sent her a picture?

Unless….

Unless she accidently hit his name instead of….

Oh no. No no no…

She immediately shot up to a sitting position, sloshing a bit of the water out of the tub at her jarring movement. She scrolled up in their message thread. Panic and embarrassment rose up from her gut as she saw her picture there—in all its naked glory—with the small little checkmark beneath it that signified her message had delivered successfully.  Her stomach clenched as reality sunk in.

She had sent Solas her nude.

She clamped a hand down on her mouth to muffle the most undignified squealing noise that managed to escape past her lips as she realized that this was the second time in one day he had accidentally seen her naked. But this time, she didn’t even have the excuse of “artistic expression” to hide behind. She had practically thrown this at him. The only evidence that he was slightly phased by the raciness of her photo was the lovely shade of pink the tips of his ears had flushed in his selfie.

If she drowned right then and there in that tub she wouldn’t have minded one bit. In fact, she might have preferred it.

And then she noticed he had written something beneath his picture.

 

[Solas]


[Image]

I must say your shallow depth of field leaves little to the imagination and the photo is underexposed.

9:21 pm

 

She gaped at the message, releasing a small cry of offense. How dare he!

[Venus]

Really?? Are you seriously offering critique on my nude?
9:21 pm

 

[Solas]

I felt it was an appropriate response.
We are artists after all, critique is the basis of our discourse.

9:21 pm

 

[Venus]

Nudes can hardly be considered art.

9:22 pm

 

[Solas]

I would think you would argue they are. With how the direction modern art is taking, despite my own prejudices, one would assume these self-portraits would count as an artistic medium much like film prints, worthy of critique.

9:22 pm

 

 

She could not believe she was having this conversation right now. He was making fun of her! Sarcastic bastard. She felt had never felt more exposed.

 

[Venus]

You don’t critique a nude when someone sends one to you!!

9:23 pm

 

[Solas]
Ah.
So are you seeking compliments?
I thought you did not want me seeing you naked.

9:23 pm

Mythal fucking enaste.

Her face was burning.

 

Creators, that’s not what I meant! It’s not that I don’t want you seeing me naked, I --

She deleted the words nearly as fast as she had typed them. Her traitorous subconscious struck again.  She started over.

 

I am so unbelievably sorry, that was not meant for you—

And again.

Solas, Please, just forget this ever happened. It was--

She made a disgusted noise and deleted all the text she had typed a third time. Nothing sounded right.

So she defaulted to dry humor.

 

[Venus]

Well it’s a little too late for that at this point, it’s not as if you haven’t seen it all before.

9:27 pm

 

 

That… wasn’t any better. Where was her tact?

She smacked the phone against her forehead a few times muttering to herself, trying to piece together the right thing to say to explain her way out of this mess.

She watched in between smacks as the little telltale “…” popped up on her phone screen and stopped the technological assault on her face. Her stomach began fluttering again, and not in the uncomfortable way. Fuck.

 

 

[Solas]

I was under the impression I was to pretend I hadn’t seen anything.
Unless you’ve changed your mind.

9:28 pm

Wait.

He was serious.

A new wave of heat crept across her face at the prospect.

She didn’t know how to respond, because quite frankly, she had. She secretly liked the turn of events.

 

[Venus]

Perhaps.

9:30 pm

 

[Solas]

Then I feel because I gave criticism, I should also offer praise on the elements of the photo that were successful, such as the choice of its subject matter.
It is... fascinating.

9:30 pm

 

[Venus]

Ass.

9:30 pm

 

She might have squealed and tossed her phone back onto her robe like it burned her.

He was toying with her. She could practically hear that amused chuckle echoing around her bathroom as she squirmed in the tub. She quickly covered her blushing face with her hands, attempting to hide the new flushed mix of arousal and embarrassment from surfacing, and tried not to think about his lips and how they probably were bearing a prideful smirk over his own glass of wine—wherever he was.

There was no escape but under.

She took a deep breath and submerged herself beneath the water.

Damn him.

Chapter Text

Solas idly twirled the stem of his wine glass between slender fingers, content to watch the conversation on going before him rather than actually be a part of it. It was an odd group of people to find sitting at the niche Orlesian restaurant, five professors from different departments from within the University come together to share a celebratory drink after “surviving syllabus week”, to borrow a phrase from their undergraduate students. He watched as the only other art department faculty, a ceramics professor who also ran advanced Woodshop on the side, slam his what could only be described as a tankard down onto the table and let loose a bellowing laugh at some joke the conniving English professor had cracked with a wry smile.

Solas glanced to his right and saw the criminal justice professor smirking into her own glass of wine and trying her hardest not to look amused by such crude humor. She was failing. He felt his own lips twist as he looked at his acquaintances—no, friends—as the nagging history professor on his left liked to correct him, repeatedly, on numerous occasions--such as the one he was partaking in now.

Solas was always “forcibly” dragged out from his self-imposed artistic isolation by said history professor, who was twisting his impeccably groomed mustache and attempting to one up the English professor with a dramatic recounting of the inappropriate events that transpired at the last faculty holiday party. Solas felt the tension he had been holding in from the day’s events slowly bleed away as he listened to the lighthearted banter around the table. He often vocalized his displeasure at being bullied into being social, but it was farce—he would never admit to the other professors around him that he was glad they saw him as a part of their ragtag group, secretly cherishing their friendship.   

It most definitely beat being alone on this beautiful Friday night.

Solas even dressed up to commemorate the occasion, something his history professor confidante immediately honed in on and teased him for relentlessly when they first sat down outside. Solas did own nice clothes thank you very much Dorian, and he wanted to keep them that way. He couldn’t live in tattered paint splattered sweaters forever, despite its comforting appeal.

Another booming laugh brought Solas’ attention back to the ceramics professor.  He was running a hand down his thick beard while the palm of the other wiped away tears of laughter from his eyes as the English professor delivered the punchline of the story he was telling, something about one of his students by the name of Hawke sticking fingers in holes they know they shouldn’t.

Solas rolled his own and took a sip of wine, relishing in the way it washed over his tongue—sweet and refreshing. Just the way he liked it.

 “I think we’ve heard enough of Varric’s first week,” The criminal justice professor announced, shifting her body away from Varric and sending the dwarf an attempted look of disgust despite her obvious amusement, “How was yours, Solas?”

His fellow art professor let loose another laugh.

“Got his ass handed to him during the department meeting this morning he did. You shoulda seen the look on his face Cassandra when--.”

Solas cleared his throat loudly and sent a pointed glare his way, crossing one arm over the other carefully without spilling the wine in his hand.

“I held my own, Blackwall. Lavellan is a force to be contended with and you know this. You have been subject to her scrutiny many times as well.  I will wear her down. Cole will be my assistant full time whether she likes it or not.” He took another sip from his glass and spoke into it, “Eventually.”

More laughter broke out among his friends. All of them were well aware of the...tempestuous relationship he had with Professor Lavellan, the head of the art department.

Solas couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth from forming. In hindsight, the exchange between Lavellan and himself this morning might have been funny, but his smile crested for an entirely different reason. The moment he mentioned her name his mind jumped back to the photos he had so unceremoniously stumbled upon earlier this afternoon. He masked the pleasant involuntary shudder that ran through him with a roll of his shoulders. He should not be thinking about her like that.

“I’m surprised you didn’t put up more of a fight Chuckles. I’d say you enjoy letting her push you around.” Varric winked at him.

Solas abruptly stopped smiling at that and the laughter around the table grew even louder as Blackwall threw in a few jests of his own, which only spurned on Dorian and the conversation spiraled out of Solas’ control. Solas opened his mouth to fire back a retort to interrupt the roast of his dignity but he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and was momentarily distracted.

All the people who might possibly text him were sitting in front of him.

He was only slightly annoyed at being the center of their gossip without being able to get a word in, but more curious as to might be trying to contact him than to respond to the teasing comments. He took another sip of wine and set aside his glass as he pulled the phone from his vest pocket. His lock screen displayed one new picture message from an unknown number. Odd.  Lazily unlocking his phone with a flick of his thumb, he touched on the message he had received from the mysterious sender. His eyes widened in surprise as a bolt of shock hit his chest like a well-timed taze, travelling straight down his body to his gut, sending his jaw dropping along with it.

His hand flew immediately to his mouth to catch the little bit of wine he had not yet swallowed from dribbling down his chin he took in the picture lit up in front of him.

His face suddenly felt very hot. Not to mention other parts of his anatomy.

It was a picture of Lavellan.

A naked picture of Lavellan.

And not one of the classically taken photographs he had so blindly ran into earlier in the day. This picture was....provocative.  Lounging in her bathtub, she was arching her back to lift her body out of the bubbles, bathed in candlelight. Water was running off in little streams over her glistening breasts, creating reflective pathways of light from the flames positioned around the edge of her tub. She was smirking coyly over a raised glass of dark wine, lifting a suggestive brow as she teeth caught on her bottom lip. She had also arranged the bubbles away from herself, exposing the bare expanse of her body to him and barely concealing the junction of her thighs.

She was breathtaking.

He shut his eyes and sharply inhaled, swallowing thickly as a strong flush of arousal blossomed deep within him, unfurling tendrils of heat between his legs. He was keenly aware that he was in public, in middle of alcove on a beautiful torch lit veranda at a silly Orlesian restaurant, hard as obsidian, and utterly at a loss for words.

He reopened his eyes and dropped his gaze once more, this time reading over the text beneath the picture.

Care to join me?”

The warmth within him was spreading much faster than he could control. He knew he could curtail the effect if he could just look away from the image….but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from his phone, despite knowing that he ought to. Surely this was not intended for him, not after everything that had happened today.

“Solas, are you alright?” Cassandra asked.

 Her voice interrupted his internal dilemma causing him to flinch and abruptly close the mouth that he hadn’t realized he had left open. He let his phone fall into his lap.

 The table quieted down.

“I-“ He cleared his throat and rested his hand over Venus smirking up at him from his thighs, attempting to hide her from view, “I am alright, I was a little overeager with my wine. I simply choked a little.”

“Like you did this morning?”, Blackwall said without missing a beat, and laughter erupted around the table once again.

Solas huffed, only a little bit—too distracted by the Lavellan currently cradled in his lap to make a true effort to counter it. This was how it went in their circle, one person was ragged on in good manner until someone else did something justifiably dumb. And it just so happened their food arrived no less than ten seconds later, sufficiently distracting his friends the server placed their orders before them. Solas returned his gaze to his phone and at the naked woman still lit up on the screen, reaching for his wine glass again for some clarity. Because at this point, he was going to need it.

This had to have been a mistake, no more than an ironic circumstance. He should ignore it. She had explicitly told him to forget what he had seen in the darkroom, so he should apply that statement to this image as well.

 Solas shook his head and took a larger sip of his wine. Responding would only further complicate things…but passing up on the perfect opportunity to needle her a bit further and gain the upperhand in their ridiculous rivalry…or whatever this was going on between them…was something he could not do. And he knew just how to retaliate.

She sent him a picture, so it made logical sense for him to send one back.

He raised his wine glass in mock cheers—mirroring the sway she had poised her own glass—and quickly snapped a picture of his own, typing out his response before hitting send and saving her number.

[Solas]

[Image]
I must say your shallow depth of field leaves little to the imagination and the photo is underexposed.
9:21 pm

 

 

She was going to flip.

And he didn’t have to wait very long before she did

[Venus]

Really?? Are you seriously offering critique on my nude?
9:21 pm

 

 

Yes, yes he was.

He knew exactly what to say to get her worked up. Was he intentionally being a pompous jerk?

Oh, indeed.

[Solas]

I felt it was an appropriate response.
We are artists after all, critique is the basis of our discourse.

9:21 pm

 

 [Venus]

Nudes can hardly be considered art.
9:22 pm

 

[Solas]

I would think you would argue they are. With how the direction modern art is taking, despite my own prejudices, one would assume these self-portraits would count as an artistic medium much like film prints, worthy of critique.
9:22 pm

 

[Venus]

You don’t critique a nude when someone sends one to you!!
9:23 pm

 

[Solas]

Ah.
So are you seeking compliments?
I thought you did not want me seeing you naked.

9:23 pm

He picked at his food as he waited for her response. Somehow Varric had seized control of the conversation again, and was spinning another story. Solas could get away with not paying attention with the occasional head nod and appropriate hum of a reaction during the suspenseful parts. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the “…” would flash on his conversation with Venus for a few seconds and then suddenly die out, only to appear a minute later and repeat the process. Finally, she answered.

[Venus]

Well it’s a little too late for that at this point, it’s not as if you haven’t seen it all before.
9:27 pm

He chuckled softly at the blunt truthfulness of her text. As if the waves of arousal he was feeling had not confirmed it before.

He had several options on where to take their conversation at the point. He could continue to flirtatiously sass her, bow out quietly and assure her he would continue to pretend he had never seen anything, or throw the ball in her court. Make her decide where to take the conversation.

[Solas]

I was under the impression I was to pretend I hadn’t seen anything.
Unless you’ve changed your mind.
9:28 pm

He leaned back in his chair barely listening to the banter around the table anymore, swirling the last dregs the wine left in his glass as he waited for her to make up her mind.

[Venus]

Perhaps.
9:30 pm

A vague response. He knew her well enough to know that meant she was playing along.

He shifted in his seat, trying to ignore the throbbing heat still making its presence known between his legs as he carefully considered his next few words.

He had an opportunity to let some of his true feelings show. The thought of losing some of the subtlety and openly flirting with her was…appealing. Though he knew she would react with a snarky remark of her own, or on the other hand possibly call him out for being inappropriate. She was his boss after all.

It was risk he was willing to take.

[Solas]

Then I feel because I gave criticism, I should also offer praise on the elements of the photo that were successful, such as the choice of its subject matter.

It is... fascinating.
9:30 pm

Her response was instantaneous.

[Venus]

Ass.
9:30 pm

When Lavellan reverted to using one-word responses like this, it was a sign he had successfully made her flustered.

He had won.

“Chuckles why are you smiling stupidly at your phone?”

Solas quickly glanced up at Varric, locking his phone and stashing back into his vest pocket not bothering to hide the smirk that still was playing upon his lips as he responded, “Poor depth of field.”

Varric simply quirked a confused brow.

“It is an inside joke.”

Solas downed the last bit of wine in his glass. Victory had never tasted so sweet, save for perhaps this wine he was going to need to order more of to celebrate.

Chapter Text

The air came as a cold shock as Venus extracted herself from the bath, shivering slightly as the warmth from the water cooled on her wet skin. Small droplets raced down her stomach and legs as she stepped out of the tub, leaving small splatters on her tiled floor. She swept up the robe she had left in a heap, slipping it on despite still being damp and letting it cling to parts of her body that yet to dry. She retrieved her empty glass and phone before yanking the release to let the bath drain.  She watched as the bubbles circled around the end of the tub in a mini vortex, much like her own conflicted thoughts about Solas were swirling around within her.

She was utterly unable to rid him from her mind.

She was suddenly very aware of the phone in her hand and the contents it held, the temptation to look at his picture again increasing. She closed her eyes and shook her head, hoping to clear it but it only made her thoughts spin more. She quickly opened their message thread--just one more peek and then she’d delete it, for good.

Creators damn that smile and the things it did to her.

His smirk should not be making her stomach twist in such pleasant knots, and yet it still did, and she was still flustered. Her thumb hovered over “delete”, but her will was too weak and she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Cursing herself, she hit the home button on her phone and locked it, tucking it away in one of the pockets in her robe. (Thank the creators for robes with pockets.)

It wasn’t fair. He had no right to make her feel this way, and then stop talking to her. Nearly twenty minutes had passed since she called him out and their conversation had stopped. She needed to rectify that, for she wasn’t done with him yet. She peered at her empty glass and suddenly wished it wasn’t. Wrapping her robe more securely around her with her free hand, she braced herself for the blast of colder air from her bedroom as she exited her bathroom.

Her apartment was a studio loft, her bed and bath on the upper level overlooking the open floor below. The far wall of her apartment had three large windows that offered a beautiful view of Val Royeaux, a major factor that influenced her choosing this particular place to live—besides its proximity to the University. The White Spire glistened on the far left side of the city, bright and glowing from the lights illuminating its towering walls. The middle window jutted out, creating the perfect ledge for a small nook she often sat in to sketch out her latest ideas for her art pieces.

She descended the stairs and headed straight to the kitchen, meandering around her easels, paints, and coffee table on the way. She spotted the bottle of pino she had left uncorked on the counter and picked it up. She looked between her empty glass in one hand and the bottle in the other a few times before muttering “cheers” to herself and depositing the glass in the sink. She swiftly sauntered back into her open living room while carefully taking a swig.

On her way to the window nook, she felt her phone vibrate from the depths of her robe and her heart jumped to her throat. She fished it out, more hastily than she would dare admit, trying not to get her hopes up that Solas had texted her back. After she had called him an ass, he discontinued the conversation. She wondered if she had been too rude and ruined the moment. But then she remembered his snarky comments and pursed her lips. He deserved it.

She glanced down at her phone and felt her heart drop, it was just a Facebook notification from the Halamshiral Gala Event, the one she was anonymously entering, posting about the last chance to buy discounted tickets before the cost spiked to full price on Monday.

She all but slumped down in defeat onto the cushioned ledge, tucking one leg beneath her and letting the other dangle over the edge. She hadn’t bothered to tie her robe, so it left most of her body exposed but she didn’t mind. She had acclimated to temperature of the room, not to mention the warm yet numbing sensation lingering in her body thanks to the wine. She took another generous gulp as she stared wistfully at her phone screen.

She could always text him again.

A small part of her brain warned her that it probably wasn’t the best idea to continue this conversation because her tipsy mind would only lead it one place, and she wasn’t even sure that he would respond or reciprocate. But a larger, and quite frankly louder, part of her mind convinced her otherwise.

Fuck it. You’re a little drunk and very lonely and by the looks of it, so is he. Go for it.

She reopened their thread and was face to face with his smirk yet again. She lingered on the image a few more seconds before scrolling down to where their conversation had left off, the fingers of her left hand hovering over the keyboard with the cursor blinking. But what to say? She bit her lip, there were too many options and he was (apparently) much smoother at flirting. She was better in action, where she could act on impulses, not behind a phone screen where she had too much time to think about how to construct her responses.

And then her wine addled brain gave her an idea.

Since he likes the subject matter so much, why not send him more of it?

Her mouth twisted into a mischievous grin, she liked that idea. She set the bottle of wine beside her on the floor, after taking another quick sip of course, and opened the camera feature on her phone. She adjusted her robe so that it just barely covered her breasts, leaving plenty of cleavage and exposed skin down to her hips visible. Then, she reached up and yanked out the hair tie that was holding her damp hair up. She raked her free hand through the wavy tresses and quickly primped her bangs, hoping they hadn’t dried oddly.

She snapped the picture and evaluated it. It was definitely a great shot, but it was missing something. The city lights danced artfully across her body, casting beautiful designs across her neck and chest and intriguing shadows in other areas, but it wasn’t quite as risqué as the first picture she accidentally sent. And this one had to be better. 

And then she came up with either her dumbest or most brilliant idea yet.

You should touch yourself.

She brushed away the robe and hair on her left side and cupped the swell of her breast, or as much of it she could fit seeing as her breast was much larger than her hand, and let her fingers splay over the soft flesh around her nipple firmly. It amplified her cleavage, at least on that side. Taking her bottom lip between her teeth while arching herself seductively against the side of the window, she smiled her most alluring smile yet and took another picture. She only needed to look at for a second before knowing that this was the one.

 

Venus

[Image]
Since you seem to be in the mood for critique, I have another photo for your appraisal.
10:07 pm

 

 

She fired it off and set the phone aside quickly, taking a deep breath to attempt to calm the aroused feelings fluttering inside her. It wasn’t helping, or she was impatient, or both. She snatched the wine bottle off the floor hoping that maybe that would prove to be more soothing instead, and waited. Minutes passed as she sipped more of the liquid that had previously given her confidence but now was watering seeds of doubt that slowly were taking root the more time passed without a response. She suddenly began to think that maybe this hadn’t been a good idea. That maybe this was a bit too forward. But he had responded fairly quickly the first time she had sent him a picture, and obviously was not offended or off-put in the least, so why wasn’t he responding now? Had she read him wrong?

She glared at the wine bottle in her lap and pointed at it, “This is all your fault.”

And then her phone went off.

Her heart skipped a beat out of anticipation as she scrambled to retrieve her phone. His name was waiting for her on the screen, as well as a new message. Curse her thundering heart, her trembling hands, and love of red wine.

 

[Solas]

Though the fragments of light enhance the beauty of the subject, the photo overall is somewhat distracting.
10:15 pm

 

 

She barked out a single laugh, torn between slight annoyed amusement at his feigned ignorance, and relief that he was playing along again. She hadn’t made a mistake or scared him off, yet.

 

 

[Venus]

You’re missing the point
10:15 pm

 

[Solas]

And what point would that be?
10:16 pm

 

[Venus]

It’s supposed to be distracting ;)
10:16 pm

She bit her lip.

[Solas]

If distraction is the ultimate goal, there are more effective ways to attain it.
10:17 pm

 

She didn’t know what was worse, that fact he was still being a cheeky ass or that she was getting off on it.

 

[Venus]

Oh really?
Enlighten me then professor
10:17 pm

 

She shifted on the window ledge, fingers caressing her inner thigh in languid strokes, stomach fluttering oh so pleasantly as a surge of heat spread throughout her body. She couldn’t believe they were actually doing this. Not that she had been secretly pining for this for months, maybe even longer. Ever since he started their rivalrous vendetta. She couldn’t quite figure out why it turned her on so. She let her hand drop lower.

 

[Solas]

There are more optimal positions you could have arranged yourself for a more exciting scene
And I can think of at least three other things you could be doing and places you could have put your hands
10:20 pm

 

She paused her own ministrations and felt a rush of heat spread across her face as she read his message, laughing. Oh what he didn’t know. Time to go on the offense. Thank the creators for her wine infused courage.

 

 

[Venus]

3 things? How about stripping you of that enticing green vest, ripping open the buttons of that finely pressed shirt, and pinning you down as I tease my way down the exposed skin of your chest?
10:21 pm

 

 

She chuckled smugly to herself again as she watched the “…” animation start up and stop several times, before finally ceasing all together. Good. Let him fumble for words for once.

 

 

[Venus]

What else can my hands do?
Toy with your belt buckle? Grind against you as you writhe underneath me?
Slip beneath the waistband of your pants?
10:24 pm

 

[Solas]

Beneath you?
10:24 pm

 

[Venus]

Precisely
10:24 pm

 

[Solas]

That would not last for long
10:24 pm

 

[Venus]

Ha! You think you could get me beneath you? I'd like to see you try
10:25 pm

[Solas]

Is that a challenge or an invitation?
10:25 pm

 

[Venus]

Both. But fair warning, I doubt I'll be cooperative. I like a challenge.
10:25 pm

 

[Solas]

As do I.

While all this is...desirable, when I referenced your hands I was thinking more along the lines of what they would be doing to you.

How your fingers would brush aside your robe entirely from your shoulders, sliding down the smooth skin of your stomach to slip between your spreading thighs.
I imagine the sight of you coming undone would be most…intriguing.
10: 26 pm

 

[Venus]

What if I told you my hand already had? Seeing your reaction to me touching myself most definitely would be...intriguing ;)
10:26 pm

 

 

She smiled deviously to herself, her hand indeed had already slipped between her thighs a long time ago.

You asked for it, Solas.

She brought up his contact and clicked on “FaceTime”.  It rang twice before it was denied. A pang of worry rippled through her, had she stepped too far? Did she cross that fine line? Her fingers flew across her keyboard, burning with new found shame. She swallowed her nerves and attempted to type an apology, but was interrupted by his message.

 

[Solas]

I can’t.
10:27 pm

 She fought the surge of panic. There could be many reasons he couldn't--or didn't--want to. Better not let it show.

 

 

[Venus]

Knew you couldn’t handle it
10: 27 pm

More “…” from him, and then

 

[Solas]

We shouldn’t...at least...not right now
 I am out at the moment.
10:29 pm

 

She clamped a hand down over her mouth to stifle the cackle that almost escaped. He was in public.  

 

[Venus]

Ha! Look at you, sexting in public. Even better.
10:29 pm

 

[Solas]

Not. Better.
10:30 pm

 

[Venus]

Then politely excuse yourself
10:30 pm

 

[Solas]

And go where? I cannot just leave, I haven’t paid for my dinner yet
10:31 pm

 

She opened her camera for the third time that night. If he needed some encouragement, she could happily supply it. She lowered her phone between her legs.

 

 

[Venus]

[Image]

Do you need some incentive?

Come over.
10:31 pm

 

She couldn’t help it, she fucking wanted him. She was writhing on her ledge as she continued to pleasure herself, letting her phone slip from her hand and clatter on the ledge somewhere next to her. She let the robe fall from her shoulders, her breath came in ragged bursts as her rushed towards her climax. She lost track of time in the waves of ecstasy she was riding, it could have been a minute or ten before she heard her phone go off, bringing her attention back outside herself.

 

[Solas]

I’m leaving.
10:45 pm

She made her decision in less than two seconds, and hoped she wouldn’t regret it tomorrow morning.

 

[Venus]

23rd  S. Rue Principale, Apt. 03
(dans le 2nd Arrondissement)

I'll be waiting
10:45 pm

Chapter Text

Since you seem to be in the mood for critique, I have another photo for your appraisal.

 

“Solas?”

His mouth went dry as he stared at his phone in disbelief. When he saw he had received another picture message from Venus, he assumed it would have been of her flipping him off or something to that effect for how he let their conversation end. She was the type to do that sort of thing. But when he opened the image, he discovered she was doing something else entirely with her hand.

“Solas…?”

He felt the heat that he thought he had successfully repressed back to a minimal burn flare in his gut and break fresh across his face, spreading all the way to the tips of his ears. He momentarily forgot how to breathe.

Solas!”

He snapped his head up to meet Cassandra’s intrigued yet slightly irritated gaze, and it finally registered that she had been saying his name, several times judging by the tone of her voice. His brain had temporarily flat lined after opening that nude Venus had sent him. He honestly thought he had heard the last from her. Apparently Venus had other ideas in mind.

“I apologize, what?” He asked, attempting at a smooth recovery. But it didn’t fool Cassandra for she remained suspicious.

“I said, for the third time, are you excited to showcase your frescos at the Gala next month?”

He cleared his throat and quickly locked his phone screen, crossing his legs to hide his recurring and obvious reason for his distraction. “I am. It came together quite nicely in fact.”

“Is it true I heard you right last week when you said you were entering anonymously? Why would you do that, wouldn’t you want the recognition for your career?” Dorian interjected, jumping into their conversation and stealing a fry off Cassandra’s plate—which earned him a glare from her. Solas shifted uncomfortably again, using his hand to cover his phone screen.

“Recognition is not what I aim to gain from this experience. The piece I created is for shock value, and anonymity is the best course of action for the effect I am garnering for.” Solas replied.

It was a half-truth. He was entering his piece in the Halamshiral Gala under an anonymous name, one he used frequently within the art world of course. One he was known for quite infamously for. It had started as an insult when he was a young aspiring artist by his competition because of his early successes and not quite so humble attitude, but he claimed the name as a badge of pride. No one knew Fen’Harel’s true identity, and he intended to keep it that way. Well save for “Mythal”, but she did not frequent these types of events any more.

“You must let us see it! When is the Gala?” Dorian prodded.

“Friday, the 28th of Frumentum.”

Blackwall stared at him blankly.

“He means Harvestmere 28th. Use the low names of the months like the rest of us common folk Chuckles.” Varric drawled with a smirk.

“The event is using the high name Master Tethras, therefore I will too.” Solas quipped hotly, fetching his wine glass off the table and taking a long sip.

“Well, I saw we all go and crash it.” Dorian lifted his own glass and clinked it against Solas’ without warning, and Solas had to compensate to make sure his wine did not spill from sudden jarring motion. He glared at Dorian as the physics professor drained the rest of his glass in one swift movement.

“I would very much like to attend. Your collections are always so unique Solas, it would be a shame to miss it.” Cassandra looked at him, hopeful, and added, “Are tickets still being sold?”

Solas sighed. If he didn’t tell them now, he knew for certain Varric’s connections would procure them all tickets anyway, judging by the shit eating grin the dwarf was wearing on the opposite side of the table.

“This is the last weekend you can buy tickets before they increase the prices, the longer you wait the more expensive the tickets become, closer to the date of the gala.” Solas admitted.

“Well that settles it then, we’re all going.” Varric’s grin got much wider as Blackwall and Dorian agreed with him.

Cassandra made a delighted noise and Solas looked back up to watch her quickly school her expression herself back into stern neutrality. She really did love his artwork, and had been his avid supporter in going more public with his works. It wouldn’t be fair not to invite her. And he was allowed to bring a plus one to the event…

What about Lavellan?

The thought brought his mind back to her naked form waiting in his lap to be responded to, and the pressing matter in his breeches. The image of her leaning against her window, bathing in almost nothing but the city lights touching herself burned behind his eyelids when he closed them.

No. He couldn’t invite Lavellan. That wasn’t the kind of relationship they had. Dating was out of the question, for a plethora of reasons beyond the fact she was technically his boss. She wouldn’t take the invitation well. She would think of it as a back-handed compliment, or his way of rubbing in her face that he had access to superior art resources or something ridiculous like that. Albeit, he probably—no definitely—had more connections in the art world than she did, given the extent of his career and anonymous fame. She just didn’t know that.

He opened his mouth to ask Cassandra if she would accompany him but then snapped it shut, instead opting to watch her reach for the bottle of wine in the center of the table and fill her glass while snapping at Varric for some off-colored comment he must have made.

Cassandra had been one of the first people he met when he started at the University. It had taken them a while to get close, coming from very different places in life, but despite their differing world views they had always respected each other. And he was definitely closest with her out of the entire group, she wouldn’t take him offering her the ticket the wrong way. She would understand it meant going as friends, no explanation needed. Though it would be rude of him offer a free ticket to Cassandra in front of everyone else. He would have to ask her privately then. He nodded a confirmation when she offered to fill his glass for him, emptying the bottle.

He used this chance while everyone was engrossed in something that did not involve him to glance down at the phone in his lap, waiting to be opened again. He slipped his hand over the surface and brought Venus’ latest photo up. It didn’t matter how many photos he had seen of her naked today, she was still breath taking in every single one. He felt himself getting sucked into the photo again, she was alluring, and beautiful, and so damn captivating. He found it was hard to focus on anything else.

 

[Solas]

Though the fragments of light enhance the beauty of the subject, the photo overall is somewhat distracting.
10:15 pm

 

 He barely had time to take the glass Cassandra had extended to him before Venus replied.

 

[Venus]

You’re missing the point
10:15 pm

She was goading him.

 

[Solas]

And what point would that be?
10:16 pm

 

[Venus]

It’s supposed to be distracting ;)
10:16 pm

 

Of course it was. Well, if she wanted a distraction, he could play along. It would be a test of self-control but he was confident he could maintain his mask of neutrality and keep up polite conversation when the server returned to take Cassandra’s dishes away.

 

[Solas]

If distraction is the ultimate goal, there are more effective ways to attain it.
10:17 pm

 

[Venus]

Oh really?
Enlighten me then professor
10:17 pm

 

Professor.

He shifted in his seat, attempting to find a more comfortable position to accommodate his growing arousal, again. Reading that should not have had this much of an effect on him. He wondered if she was equally as…frustrated… as he was. Probably not, and judging by her photos she was home alone. Free to do whatever she wished. Well. He could push her a little further then, couldn’t he?

As long as he maintained in control of the conversation.

 

[Solas]

There are more optimal positions you could have arranged yourself for a more exciting scene
And I can think of at least three other things you could be doing and places you could have put your hands
10:20 pm

 

He felt tempted to call her Professor in return, but it only reminded him that she was, in fact, a professor he worked with and that this whole exchange of theirs all the more real. And it couldn’t be. He opted out of it. As long as this remained solely virtual, this little affair, he could play along. He would not let himself indulge in anything more. He, and Venus, should know better. He gave a curt nod to the server when she asked if he was done with his plate, and swiftly swept it away.

 

[Venus]

3 things? How about stripping you of that enticing green vest, ripping open the buttons of that finely pressed shirt, and pinning you down as I tease my way down the exposed skin of your chest?
10:21 pm

 

Oh.

He fought the mental images that were evoked from her words. He would not allow himself to think about how her fingers would feel splayed across his stomach, or the way her lips would feel pressed against his skin, trailing down…

He attempted to fire back a retort but everything he typed felt like an admission of defeat.

He rapidly received another text before he could figure out what to say.

 

[Venus]

What else can my hands do?
Toy with your belt buckle? Grind against you as you writhe underneath me?
Slip beneath the waistband of your pants?
10:24 pm

 

And that he could not help himself from imagining. He shifted again in his seat, it was becoming almost unbearable. So much for self-control.

[Solas]

Beneath you?
10:24 pm

 

He latched onto the only thing he felt he could challenge.

 

[Venus]

Precisely
10:24 pm

[Solas]

That would not last for long
10:24 pm

 

Under other, more normal circumstances, he would have preferred to take turns taking over in this thinly veiled innuendo. But Venus wouldn’t see that as compromise, she would take that as his deference to her. Meaning, her victory. And he couldn’t let that slide. 

 

[Venus]

Ha! You think you could get me beneath you? I'd like to see you try
10:25 pm

 

He felt the sly smirk spread across his face. The thrill from their conversation was sparking a feeling he had thought was long lost, the competitive impulse of a younger, cockier man he used to be.

 

[Solas]

Is that a challenge or an invitation?
10:25 pm

 

 [Venus]

Both. But fair warning, I doubt I'll be cooperative. I like a challenge.
10:25 pm

 

 [Solas]

As do I.

While all this is...desirable, when I referenced your hands I was thinking more along the lines of what they would be doing to you.

How your fingers would brush aside your robe entirely from your shoulders, sliding down the smooth skin of your stomach to slip between your spreading thighs.
I imagine the sight of you coming undone would be most…intriguing.
10: 26 pm

 

Admittedly this was a bad idea, sexting his boss while out with his co-workers, but for some reason he couldn’t muster enough of a resistance to not to.

 

[Venus]

What if I told you my hand already had? Seeing your reaction to me touching myself most definitely would be...intriguing ;)
10:26 pm

 

 

And apparently she couldn’t either, for suddenly she was calling him. His heart jumped to his throat and a soft noise of surprise escaped him, causing Cassandra to turn to him questioningly. He denied the facetime request and immediately responded.

 

 

 [Solas]

I can’t.
10:27 pm

 

[Venus]

Knew you couldn’t handle it
10: 27 pm

Not true he thought, and the admission came as a shock. He could have—would have—accepted her call in any other place. Well not any other but regardless it was unlike him to engage in this…kind of behavior. But actually seeing her, more than just a brief snapshot captured in a picture, would push that boundary of reality and illusion he had sustained through the evening. And to his surprise in that moment when he saw the call come through, he realized he wanted to shatter it. He wanted to see her reactions, her smile, hear her voice as she taunted him. He wanted to convey to her somehow he was willing to continue….whatever this was…but...

what was he thinking?

He pinched the bridge of his nose and exhaled sharply. He couldn’t continue this with his boss. He took a deep breath and replied, fully aware Cassandra was watching him like a hawk.

 

[Solas]

We shouldn’t...at least...not right now
 I am out at the moment.
10:29 pm

It was a lame excuse, and not a good enough one to descalate the situation but it was all he could offer.

 

[Venus]

Ha! Look at you, sexting in public. Even better.
10:29 pm

 

 

[Solas]

Not. Better.
10:30 pm

 

[Venus]

Then politely excuse yourself
10:30 pm

 

As if he could just get up and walk out. The server had not returned with their check, and then it would the arduous process of trying to talk Varric out of paying everyone’s tabs. Because he loved to do that. As much as Solas appreciated the gesture, he was fully capable of paying for himself. He was used to it, living a life alone, and the generosity of his new friends constantly unsettled him. Perhaps unsettled was not the word, it had been a long time since he let someone—anyone really since Sileal-- take care of him in any way. And while thinking about long it had been, it had possibly been even longer since he got himself involved in any sort of…dalliance…like the once he found himself entangled in with Venus. The constant internal battle of should he, shouldn’t he, was wearing on him.

He couldn’t do this. Not with her.

He let out an exasperated sigh, one that Cassandra did not miss and was now sending him suspicious glares, and typed out his frustrations.

 

[Solas]

And go where? I cannot just leave, I haven’t paid for my dinner yet
10:31 pm

The universe worked in mysterious ways for as soon as he had sent that text, their server arrived and deposited the check in the middle of the table. Solas looked up from his phone for half a beat, before there was a chaotic flurry of movement as everyone at the table lunged to grab it. Somehow, of course, Varric had snatched it first. Solas began to protest, just as Dorian and Blackwall did so his rebuttal was lost in the fray. The vibration from the phone in hand brought his attention back down again.

And any intention of ignoring or refusing Venus with it.

 

[Venus]

[Image]

Do you need some incentive?

Come over.
10:31 pm

 

She had taken his suggestion about what to do with her hands quite literally.

 

“No, Varric this time dinner is on me.” Dorian declared, prying the check from the dwarf’s fingers and scooting himself away exaggeratedly towards Solas.

Solas immediately closed out of his thread with Venus and veered away from Dorian while pocketing his phone. He was not explaining to everyone why he had a picture of her pleasuring herself at the dinner table. His face flushed at the thought.

“Sparkler, come on. Let me. I like spending money on pariahs, outcasts, and the occasional captivating woman.” He winked at Cassandra, who made a disgusted noise.

“Well this pariah also likes to spend money. And for once, not on himself. Your gratitude is overwhelming.” Dorian quipped, slipping his card in the sleeve and brandishing it at their server when she passed.

“Thank you Dorian, that was very kind of you.” Cassandra said to the Tevinter, while still eyeing Solas. And Solas knew he would be grilled about his behavior as soon as they left the table.

“Yes well, I’m a kind person. Contrary to popular belief.”

The server returned and Dorian signed as the group stood to say their thank yous and goodbyes. A flash of fear twisted in Solas’ gut as he expertly readjusted himself so no one would notice the ah, bulge that definitely should not have been in pants. There was a lot of hand shaking (arm shaking in Blackwall’s case) and promises that Solas would come out with them again soon that followed as they exited the restaurant and spilled into the street. And threats from Dorian that he would drag Solas by the hem of his tattered sweaters if he said no to their next outing.

He pulled his phone from his vest pocket and was about to respond to Venus when a sharp tug on his elbow had him spinning around to come face to face with a grumpily curious Cassandra.

“Explain.” She demanded, crossing her arms and arching a brow.

“Explain what?”

“Don’t play coy with me Solas. Explain why you were glued to your phone tonight.”

“I was not.”

“You were checking it every five minutes, and blushing. You never blush.” Cassandra fought the smile trying to appear on her face while she struggled to maintain her inquisitive demeanor. The smile won.

He sighed. Cassandra would force it out of him sooner or later.

“I might have started talking to...” He started, pausing as he considered whether or not to flat out tell her it was Venus, or leave it ambiguous. And in his case, ambiguity won, “…someone.”

“Do I know this someone?” She inquired, her eyes lighting up.

“I do not wish to say at this time. It is really nothing of consequence, and it will most likely lead to nowhere. I will let you know if anything changes.” He explained quickly, checking the time and realizing it had been quite some time since Venus sent her picture.

She looked a little torn, opening her mouth to ask another question but then thought better of it. “I will respect your privacy. I…also prefer to keep these things to myself until I am sure that it is going to work out. Remember I am your friend and you can talk to me about it. If you are comfortable.” She said softly, touching his arm with another small smile, “I wish you the best of luck.”

He gave her a polite nod and smile of his own before he turned and began his walk towards his apartment. He fully intended to go home to safety of his studio before re-entering any type of discourse with Venus, lest she try and facetime him again while he was not ready. But somehow he found himself reopening his thread with her.

 

[Solas]

I’m leaving.
10:45 pm

 

He didn’t know why he chose to say that. He didn’t know what he wanted from her. It’s not as if she needed to know he had left, or where he was going. It wasn’t as if he had a date to keep with her. A realization dawned on him then, causing him to halt in his tracks. But he did have another date to keep. Well, to make.

“Cassandra, wait!” He called, turning around sharply and speeding off in the direction of Cassandra’s retreating figure.

She paused, looking over her shoulder with a puzzled expression. She slowly turned around as he caught up to her.  He felt his phone vibrate in hand, but he had to deal with this first.

“Forgive me, I had wanted to ask you earlier but thought it would be unfair of me to do so in front of our friends.” He explained as he caught his breath, her expression remained puzzled but she tilted her head curiously, “Would you attend the gala with me? I was extended an extra ticket to bring someone to accompany me and was not going to use it at all until you expressed interest in the event this evening.”

She grinned, “Would not rather not ask your someone to go with you?”

He grimaced at the thought of Venus laughing in his face and rejecting him on the spot, his phone growing heavier reminding him he had a message waiting for him. “I would rather not actually. It is…too soon for that.” And it may never be the right time for that.

Cassandra nodded consolingly before answering him, “I would love to.”

A wave of relief washed over him when she didn’t pry anymore on the subject of his “someone”. Cassandra had a reputation of being true to her word, and he was grateful for that, now more than ever. “Thank you, I’ll forward you the details tonight when I get home.”

“I’ll mark it on my calendar. Have a good night Solas.”

The moment she had turned away Solas glanced at his phone and did a double take, as did his heart. Venus had sent him her address.

 

 

[Venus]

23rd  S. Rue Principale, Apt. 03
(dans le 2nd Arrondissement)

I'll be waiting
10:45 pm

 

He didn’t know what surprised him more, the fact she sent him an open invitation to her apartment, or that they both lived on South Main.

In fact, directly across from one another.

Cassandra was going to have to wait, for he seemed to have a lapse in judggment as he headed towards the apartment complex opposite his.

Chapter Text

Venus stared at the little checkmark beneath her text that signified her message had been received and seen. The reality of what she had just done was steadily settling in with each passing second.

Fenedhis, I invited him over!” She shouted to the half empty wine bottle resting beside her.

She bolted up from the window ledge, snatching up the wine and hastily tying the sash of her robe around her waist again as she made a beeline towards the kitchen. She corked the bottle and set it aside, grabbing a clean mug from her drying rack and filling it with water. The cool drink hit her stomach and cleared her scattered thoughts and remnants of her buzz. She took a few steadying breaths, and collected herself.

This was really happening.

How long had she been pining for him behind this heated veneer of competitiveness and petty rivalry? Too long. She swirled the water in her mug aimlessly. Well, to call it a veneer wasn’t entirely accurate, because it wasn’t totally a façade. She was competitive by nature, but she did tend to become really oppositional when it came to him. The more she thought about it, the more realized just how ruthless she sometimes was towards him. It was just too fun to rile him up and watch him attempt to dismantle every taunt she threw at him. How else was she supposed to channel her feelings and frustrations he so readily stirred in her? Solas was brilliant, a bit odd and aloof, but she secretly found it charming. So naturally she was bitchy to him. Curse her and her inability to be honest towards people she liked. A fatal flaw of hers, she was well aware of.

Though, if she were being honest, she was a competitive bitch around more people than just people she liked. She had plenty of practice at it, being the youngest of four daughters to the Keeper of Clan Lavellan, making her the fourth in line to inherit the title. Well, technically second now since her two oldest sisters had decided to bond with partners from other Clans and move out.

Fighting for recognition had become second nature to her, if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten any. Not when favor was passed to the First, and then down the line in succession. She had never wanted to become Keeper. In fact, it was the last thing she could have ever wanted, but she did want affection, someone to care even though she didn’t want to be the precious Keeper. Someone to look at her and appreciate her for who she was, not who they wanted her to be. She was the black sheep of her family, the one who had always been less connected to their culture, way of life, hell even their religion. She purposely opted out of receiving a traditional vallaslin, offending many when she chose instead to create a tattoo of her own design (inspired by the markings of June and Andruil) simply for aesthetic reasons and then applying the sleeve on her left arm herself. That had stirred up a lot of conflict. Conflict she avoided with a roll of her eyes and the flick of a hand rolled cigarette.

She had always been more independent than all of her sisters combined, mostly due to the fact she was left unsupervised for a majority of her childhood and had to figure a lot of shit out on her own. She wasn’t jealous of them for being in more powerful positions per se, more envious of the priority they had over her for attention… and affection…

She repeatedly told herself that she didn’t give a shit and was better off alone. Rolling her shoulders reflexively, she tossed the last bit of water in her mug along with those thoughts into the sink. Living in a large Clan was tough, hence why she escaped to the city and left that life far behind.

Or as far behind as it would let her leave.

She refocused her attention on the state of her living room. There were half finished sketches littered about, pieces of charcoal scattered atop the sketchpads, and some paint brushes were still on the floor next to her easel. She went for those first, scooping up the various brushes and dropping them in the glass jar on her coffee table. She plucked the pieces of charcoal off the parchment pads carefully, so as not to stain her hands black, and kicked her storage box where they were kept out from under the coffee table to put them away. She grabbed the sticky tack from the box and made quick work of hanging up her sketches on the far wall of the room, behind her sofa. She smiled proudly. She couldn’t help but show them off, she was quite fond of this batch. And she knew Solas had a critical eye and would be evaluating everything in her flat the moment he set foot inside. She knew him well enough to expect it. So why not flaunt it?

She repositioned a few throw pillows and glanced around one last time. Satisfied with its appearance, she moved back into the kitchen to fetch a fresh bottle of wine and two glasses. She didn’t know if he would want to continue drinking, she didn’t miss the fact he had his own wine glass front and center in his own pictures. She hesitated.

He is just coming over for sex. Nothing more, nothing less, she reminded herself, Don’t you dare make this out to be something more.

She shifted her weight, the hopeless romantic and independent woman within her were at war, debating whether or not she should formally make this A Thing, or simply just get straight to the point and forgo all small talk and pleasantries in favor of fucking. 

Even if we don’t drink it, I might as well at least look like I was trying to be a good host, she decided, effectively placating both of sides of herself and fished out her wine opener from one of the kitchen drawers. The moment she finished pouring the second glass she heard a short and sharp series of knocks on her door.

He’s here.

Her heart leapt into her throat as she hurriedly set aside the bottle and went to answer it, nearly knocking over the stool on the other side of her kitchen island in her haste to get to the door. She softly muttered a few choice curses under her breath as she caught the damn stool before it knocked over, shoving it back into place. She ran on her toes with quick steps the rest of the way, stopping herself from ripping the door to check her reflection in the mirror on the wall beside it. She quickly primped her bangs and twirled some of the ends of her dark hair before flipping all of it over one shoulder. A gave a quick once over of her robe, adjusting the plunging neckline ever so slightly to reveal a little more cleavage while tightening the sash to exaggerate her hips. Satisfied, she put on her most coquettish smile, and turned to the door.

Some people get nervous in front of their lovers, or intended lovers.

Venus was normally not one of them.

But in this moment, as she turned the handle, she couldn’t seem to keep her stomach from doing flips.

Her first observation was that Solas had obviously been pacing. He faltered mid step when she suddenly appeared to greet him. Their eyes met for a brief moment before his dropped to study the rest of her face, and then lower still to quickly admire her figure before snapping back up to her eyes. As if she wouldn’t notice.

“Good evening, Venus.” He greeted quietly, a hint of a blush creeping across his cheeks.  

 “Well good evening yourself,” She drawled seductively in return, leaning against the doorframe as she deliberately checked him out. His fitted button down shirt hugged his shoulders and torso in all the right places, making her fingers itch to touch him, to feel him beneath the fabric.  He tucked his hands behind his back and drew up to his full height as she surveyed the rest of him. The light green slacks he had donned were exceptionally trimming, and left her burning to see what lay beneath. She let her eyes linger there a little longer than necessary. She had to admit she was surprised at his sense of style. She half expected him to lack one, despite his talent as an artist.

And there was the dark green vest. Which she promptly came to the conclusion—although the vest was exceedingly sexy—would look better on her bedroom floor.

Gods he was so handsome.

 She bit her lip and lifted a hand to beckon him closer, a manicured finger curling inwards in a repetitive, alluring motion. He obliged. As soon as he was within touching distance she hooked her finger in the dip of his vest and pulled, eliminating the remaining space between them. Her lips twisted into a sly smile at the brief shock that flashed in his eyes as he stumbled forward into her before schooling his features into something more blasé, reveling at the fact she could unsettle him with a such a simple gesture.

This was going to be fun.

She let her hands wander down the rest of the garment, trailing down the soft fabric and feeling his chest tense beneath her palm. He leaned into her touch, slipping an arm around her waist, bunching her silk robe in the process.

“Would you like to come in?” She asked suggestively.

“Only if permitted.” He breathed across her lips, nose nudging her face gently.

Her heat skipped a beat. The things his voice did to her.

Stop that, she chided herself.

“Permission granted.”

Looping a few fingers into his belt she tugged him into her apartment, letting the door click shut behind them. He averted his attention from her face to the living room behind her. She could see him mentally critiquing what he saw, just as she suspected. She noticed the way his eyes lingered on the sketches she had hung up. A surge of pride blossomed in her chest as she gauged his reaction, a reaction he was trying to hide; Reluctance and admiration, and perhaps a bit of jealousy. She almost laughed, she had gotten so good at reading him. Or so she liked to think. She used his momentary distraction to check him out again. Her eyes zeroed in on his pants.

So much for the wine, for she had only one thing on her mind.

“I find it amusing that the first thing you do after I let you in, is analyze my apartment,” she quipped incredulously with a hint of light-hearted humor seeping into her voice, getting his buckle undone without him noticing, “Not sweep me off my feet and take me to bed after all those scintillating texts.”

“How am I to know the direction to your bedroom if I do not look about the loft first?” He countered.

“Hmm, I don’t know, ask? Not like I live here or anything.” She retorted condescendingly, brushing the buckle aside and unbuttoning his pants.

“Do not patronize me.” He countered, catching her wrist after she managed to pull down his zipper. He glanced down in surprise.

“Or what? You’ll—“Her comeback was cut off into a yelp as Solas whipped her around and pushed her up against her door, wrist pinned beside her head.

“What game are you playing?” He demanded, eyes boring intensely into hers, she felt her body begin to burn, heat flaring down her spine and igniting in her core.

That was hot.

“Whatever do you mean?” She pouted in insincere innocence, mind jumping on how to provoke him into doing something impulsive like that again. He was normally so reserved and formal. To see him unhinged…

“You know exactly what I mean.”

She rolled her eyes and felt the mischief bubble up within before she could contain it. She was going to sass the shit out of him.

“This is the prelude to sex, Solas,” She lectured with a wide smile, “the foreplay before intercourse between two consenting adul—“

“I am aware,” He scoffed, interrupting her explicit detailing, “You are being deliberately evasive.”

 “I know,” She replied coyly cocking her head to the side, “I enjoy provoking you.”

“I am a well aware of that as well.” He said flatly, gaze unwavering save for a small flicker of mirth.

She gave a low chuckle. “You get worked up so easily when I make things difficult. It’s enticing, watching the effects it has on you.” She grazed her free hand over his left ear, “I especially like when the tips of your ears turn pink…ah, there they go.”

She had him.

“You were so relentless with me this morning, I hardly thought you would want to speak with me again.” He pointed out.

“I plan on being relentless with you in bed, too. I’m good at channeling my anger into…pleasurable productivity.”

He flushed.

“What changed your mind?” He asked, voice dropping a notch lower as her thumb continue to massage the tip of his ear.

“I can never resist a challenge.” She said, licking her lips. “And besides, you’re fun to toy with.”

“But I know you well enough to realize you play by your own unspoken rules…” He attempted to roll his head away from her teasing touch, “How am I supposed to take on your ‘challenge’ if you will not explain what it is you want from me.”

“But that’s part of the fun, figuring that out.”

He reacted so viscerally to her touches. It made her desire to explore his body that much stronger.

“No, it is not. I would prefer to know what I am up against.” He said, giving in and let her run her fingers down his neck as he ghosted his fingers up her jawline in retaliation.

All these lingering, feather light caresses were setting her nerves on fire.

“Well, technically, you’re not up against anything at the moment, I am.” She rolled her body against the door effectively grinding up on his thigh that was keeping her in place. “But that will change.” She smiled deviously at him as he stifled a shudder.

“You are stalling.” His fingers curled around the base of her neck, entwining with her hair.

“Okay, fine. Would you like me to spell it out for you?”

He nodded, eyes darting from her mouth to her eyes.

She leaned in, lips grazing his neck as she whispered along his jaw, pausing every few words to place kisses on his skin, “I like it a little rough,” a kiss on his throat, “I fight for dominance,” a kiss on his pulse point, “unseat me, take me, and make me come,” a kiss on his cheek as his grasp tightened at the back of her neck, “before I take back control and make you,” She murmured while moving her mouth faintly over his lips, enjoying the way his breath hitched when she pulled away. She let her nails wander down his chest once more towards his undone pants.

“I willingly accept that challenge.” He consented in a breathless groan as she slipped her left hand into them, cupping his hardening length through the thin cloth of his boxer briefs.

The way his voice pitched at the end when she touched him nearly drove her to knock him back and take him right there on the floor. But she needed to clarify a few more things first. To him, and the butterflies taking up residence in her stomach.

“No strings attached, and one time.” She gave a gentle squeeze, reveling how her continued to swell into her palm. “Only.” She added, truly more for her benefit than his. She couldn’t let this develop into something more. For more than one reason. She just needed to fuck him out of her system this once.

Desperately.

“I...,” He breathed against her cheek, his voice faltering as she drew her fingertips up his hardened cock, his eyes studying hers, half-lidded and heated. The look he gave her sent her heart fluttering. She twisted her mouth into a crooked smile, a taunting gesture as she groped him. Her lips parted deeper into the smirk, showing teeth when she felt him twitch against her hand. He must have found what he was looking for in her face, for he continued after a beat, “…can agree to those terms.”

“Perfect,” She declared, finally slipping past the last thin layer of cloth to touch him bare. Heat blossomed inside her at the contact with his smooth skin, unfurling with tentative brush of her fingers. She slipped her hand lower and gently cupped his sack. She watched with immense satisfaction as his eyes fluttered closed while he moaned into her hair, leaning against her. His grasp on her wrist loosened as her own around his balls gradually increased, massaging him carefully and coaxing another one of those soft sounds out of him. He dropped her hand altogether to brace himself on the door as she slid her hand up to wrap her fingers around his shaft.  Her eyes traced the shape of his parted lips that were resting so close to her face. The urge to finally break and kiss him was so damn overwhelming and hard to resist.

So she gave in.

She cradled his cheek with her right hand, turning and guiding his mouth down towards hers. She grazed her lips over his own—still parted—mapping the shape and curve, and relishing in how soft they were before claiming them. So soft, so warm, so pliant. He stilled when she slated her mouth over his, but only for a moment before he returned her kiss in kind. His hand that had been buried in her hair loosened itself and moved downward, his fingers trailing her neck to her collarbone, and across her shoulder. Her silk robe slipped off with ease, bunching in the crook of her elbow. He began to run his hand along the length of her arm, while his other still fisted in the fabric at her hip.

His eyes blinked open as she pulled back from their embrace to smile up at him, under thick lashes. His dazed look became focused as he looked at her, eyes dropping to studying the bare skin of her shoulder he had exposed. She waited for him to ask. They always ask. She withdrew her hand from his pants.

“You have a tattoo.” He stated simply, pushing her robe a little further down her arm to reveal more of the ink, “Your sleeve… its markings…it is a Vallaslin?”

“Yes.” She answered impatiently, nudging his chin with her nose, trying to draw his attention back to her lips.

He evaded.

“It is unlike any Vallaslin I have seen,” He asked, continuing to study the markings inked on her arm, “I did not realize you were Dalish.”

“Not many people do. So, surprise! I’m Dalish.” She explained hastily, wanting to move on from the subject and return the focus to more pleasurable topics. Like getting to oral.

He studied her markings quietly, running a finger along the twisting and looping designs.

She suddenly felt self-conscious. Many people were uncomfortable around the Dalish, their way of life being so vastly different she supposed. Even she had her own disagreements with the lifestyle in Clan Lavellan, and its rigid imposition of rules and traditions. Part of the reason why she left and didn’t broadcast her origins as common knowledge. And when her sleeve was exposed, not many recognized the patterns enough to link it to a vallaslin. A lot times she got compliments on it. Ignorance was truly bliss for some people. But Solas was more observant that most. Shit.

“…Does it bother you?” She hedged, hoping this hadn’t spoiled the moment.

“I…no.” He started, “that is a subject for another time.”

“Okay good. We can argue Dalish traditions the next time we have a disagreement. Glad we’re on the same page.”

Promptly grabbing his shirt, she yanked him back down, fervently using the tension between them to quell the need building inside her. It worked, for within seconds she was knocked back firmly against the door again, her muffled noise of surprise swallowed by his greedy lips.  

She felt his tongue trace along her bottom lip, encouraging her to relent to his lead. Her will wavered and her lips parted. He delved past what little defense she put up and her mind went blank. He pulled her flush to him and deepened their kiss, sucking on her bottom lip.  His hands wandered down her back, running over the swell of her ass, moaning as his fingers gripped her, exploring her curves. Abruptly they hooked under her thighs, hoisting her up. She felt herself slide up the door as he lifted, wrapping her legs around his waist instinctively.

“Protection?” He asked, pulling back from her mouth a fraction of inch.

“On birth control.” She answered, taking the lead and parting his lips with her tongue, seeking entrance.

“Where is— “

“Bedroom. Up the stairs,” She spoke against his mouth, “to the left.” She ran her tongue over her swollen lips, watching him turn his head away from her to orient himself towards the stairs, aching to feel him move against her mouth once more, among other throbbing, wet places.

They fumbled, that was the best word to describe it honestly, their way up the stairs, getting distracted by tongues and mouths and wandering hands, pausing twice to regain their balance. Once they reached the landing of her loft, they barely made it to her bed before they started undressing one another. Shoes and socks were forgotten by the top of the stairs. Her fingers immediately slipped onto his vest, making quick work of shirking it off and throwing it away victoriously, as he hurriedly stepped out of his slacks. Together, they haphazardly undid all the buttons of his pressed shirt, peeling it off as fast as they could, letting it fall in a heap somewhere in the direction his vest had been thrown. She admired the freckles that adorned his collarbones and shoulder tips, secretly thinking the thicker patches on his ribs and navel were nearly too adorable to handle. She felt his hand slip to the sash of her robe, and tug lightly.

“May I?” He breathed against her cheek.

She stood on her toes and pressed a kiss to his temple before stepping back, spreading her arms to invite him in. Her sash was undone and yanked away before her back hit the mattress, her robe fluttering open and spilling all around in her a silken pool. She quirked a dark brow at him as she shimmied it off her shoulders and got it out from underneath her, tossing it to the side. Solas stopped moving, hands hovering over her hips, hesitant to touch as if mesmerized by her figure. She watched as his heavy-lidded eyes roved over the swells of her breasts, down her soft stomach to her thighs. She parted them slowly and watched as he wet his lips.

He moved to occupy the space between her legs and promptly went for her neck, lips gliding over that delicate spot just below her ear. He left hot, wet kisses down her throat, licking and nipping as he went. She could feel his teeth graze over her collarbone, sending a shiver down her spine. He kissed his way down her chest; lips dragging across the soft swell of her breast before capturing the pert bud with his lips. He cupped her other with his hand, palming kneading the flesh in a repetitive, massaging pattern that mimicked what he was doing with his mouth. She fought the urge to writhe beneath his touch, she needed to stay in command. But her control was slipping. She felt her body betray her mind as she began to lean into him, seeking more friction, more pressure, more of him. He took notice. His pace turned from gentle, teasing, caresses, into something harder, firmer, and faster. She heard herself take in a sharp breath and knew it she had to get him underneath her. Pronto.

She shifted her weight, attempting to roll him over but he simply lowered more of himself down onto her, effectively keeping her locked in place. She fought against him, and fought right back to keep her there. A surge of heat blossomed between her legs, he was actually keeping pace with her. Which meant she was going to work much harder if she wanted to maintain domiance. She felt a surge of heat blossom between her thighs at the idea. He was truly not going to go easy on her.

She forcefully shoved him off, using her full weight to flip him over and distracted him with fevered kisses that drew panting breaths from him. She mirrored his previous descent, making her way down his chest with her mouth until her fingers brushed over his boxers. She admired the way he strained against the confines of the thin fabric, leaving next to nothing for the imagination. She could feel her core throbbing in anticipation. She peeled them down slowly, freeing his erection and watching his reaction closely. He lifted his hips for her to make it easier to slide them off with one solid sweep. While casting them aside, he made a pass at her, his intention obviously to bring her back up to chest. Outmaneuvering him, she slipped a hand around his hardened length. He went still, save for the minor twitches of his cock as she rubbed her thumb up his shaft. She loomed over his hips, lowering herself to place a chaste kiss on his tip that caused him to audibly suck in a breath. She tauntingly let her tongue trail over the head, lapping up the bead of precum that had begun to leak from the tip. She felt him flex in her palm at ministrations. She took him whole into her mouth, working herself down and acclimating to his size until she fell into a steady rhythm. He melted into her mouth, lightly bucking with each pass of her tongue and deep pull of her mouth. His breaths became ragged as her pace picked up, adding her right hand to the rhythm she had set, and coaxed his legs further apart with her other to settle in more comfortably. His fingers twisted in the sheets as she took him deeper in her throat, stifling his moans by biting his lip and turning his head aside.  She pulled up off him, letting her tongue swirl around the head one last time before withdrawing completely, meeting his flushed gaze.

“Hmm, I could so easily finish you right here, right…now.” She breathed against his dick.

Suddenly she was weightless, the world shifted as she was dragged up and seated on his chest. Her hands hit her head board to steady herself from the motion. He tugged on her hips again, harder this time, coaxing her up further.  It clicked.

 “Ah I see what you want. I’ll happily oblige.” She lifted herself up and settled her thighs on either side of his head, her entrance hovering a few inches above his mouth.

His grip tightened on her hips and he guided her down.

Oh.

She should have known just how good Solas would be at this, judging by how he used his mouth earlier. What he did with his tongue to her mouth should have given her warning about what he would do to her in this position. But she still wasn’t prepared. She felt him spread her folds with his careful fingers, his breath dancing across her sensitive flesh before his soft, wet tongue traced the outline of her entrance. He pressed it flat against her and drew up, flicking her clit with just the amount of pressure to cause a small cry to escape her lips. He repeated the motion, each motion gaining fervor, making her stomach churn in the most pleasant way. She could feel herself dripping with each pass, heat spilling from her that he quickly lapped up with his lips. Her thighs tensed as the coiling sensation of her climax began to pulse in her core. She fought the urge to ride his face, thought she desperately wanted to. She wanted to fuck him until that clever tongue finally unwound her, but then she would be giving in, wouldn’t it? She attempted to pull up but his hand brought her hips down until she did end up riding his face, slow bucking her hips each time his tongue circled her clit.

She gasped as he slipped a finger inside her. Her walls clenched around him at the sensation, and she bucked reflexively. Her fingers curled around the headboard as she tried to stem the tide of pleasure from cresting but she found herself giving in to desire once again, not fighting him as he added another finger with the first. He murmured something against her folds she couldn’t quite make out, but vibration felt exquisite. The coiling sensation in her started to wind faster, the tension pulling taught.

She had to focus, or she wouldn’t last much longer. And she couldn’t let that happen, they had barely just started.

She rolled off him and fell to the side, ripping herself from his grip. She attempted to mount him but he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction and made it exceedingly difficult to pin down. They became a tangle limbs and hungry mouths, wrestling each other until he managed to slip his hand between her thighs and push two fingers into her again. He curled them, and she whimpered into his mouth.

Creators this felt good.

His pace increased. A wave of euphoria spread through her limbs every time his fingers, slick with her arousal, slid in and out with ease, twisting inside her. If this was what his fingers could do, then….

She needed him now.

“Fuck me.”

“Patience.”

“Fuck me, please.”

“Patience.” He repeated smugly, lips and tongue brushing against her throat.

“Fine,” She furrowed her brows, pushing his face off her neck, “Fuck you.”

And with that she shoved him, hard, catching him off guard. He landed on his back as she scrambled over to claim her place atop him., pinning his shoulders down. Reaching beneath her she grasped him firmly. He was so incredibly hard, another bead of precum was glistening on his tip, beginning to drip. She settled herself over his cock and locked eyes as she sank onto him.

She took him one swift thrust and sighed. He was stretching her ways she hadn’t felt in years. His hands settled on her breasts, slowly kneading them as she paused, relishing in the way he felt so swollen inside her, and let herself have a moment to adjust to the feeling.

His face had flushed such a lovely color, all hot and bothered, and hungry. And his mouth was just so irresistible. Leaning over, she nipped at his lower lip, spilling soft moans of pleasure into him as she gave a subtle roll of her hips, feeling the way he moved inside her.

“I am going to fuck you senseless.” She commanded, tilting his chin up with her hand, “And I want you to watch me as I unravel you.”

His breath hitched as she began to rock into him leisurely at first, watching his reaction to how her body moved fluidly above him. She rolled them again, this time with more pressure thrown into it as she grabbed his wrists and brought them over his head.

Steadily, she picked up her pace, letting all the pent up frustrations and lust she had been harboring towards take over.   Each undulation growing more intense, more passionate with each roll of her body. Soon his hips were snapping up to meet hers, hands dropping from her breasts to dig into her ass, adding to the motion as she fucked him without abandon.

She let herself go, pleasure light up every nerve in limbs, she lost track of he started and where she ended, and that was her downfall. He detected her moment of bliss and used it against her. She unexpectedly was being flipped and pinned on her stomach before she had a chance to regain any sort of control. His dick pressed snugly against her ass, a hand brushing the hair away from her cheek to whisper in her ear.

“I’m winning.”

He buried himself inside her fully with one snap of his hips, coaxing a cry of relief out of her at being filled so wholly once more. She slammed a hand against the head board to steady herself against his thrusting. She knew if she let him take over in this position, she might not be able to break free, might not want to break free. And if he managed to get her on lying on her back… she was completely done for.

She hated and loved that missionary of all the ways to have sex, it was her most vulnerable position. Something about it was intimate, passionate, there was a connection there that pulled at her, a raw and rare sensation she rarely felt comfortable sharing with anyone. She usually never let anyone fuck her that way. It had been years, even though it brought to the edge the fastest, and hardest. She didn’t want to feel that unguarded, defenseless.

Those thoughts left her mind when felt his hands grip her hips and angle her up to push in deeper, hitting an entirely new part of her. He had her whimpering again, and it felt so good. Each movement inside her was like a burst of ecstasy. Every time he began to pull out, her nerves would sing with anticipation of being filled again. She felt herself melting beneath him, resistance slowly fading as she gave herself over to his rhythm, matching his thrusts with her own until the slapping of skin and pants of breaths became a steady sound that reached her ears. She needed to take back the dominant position before…before…

“Solas…” She moaned, biting her trembling lip. She could feel herself constricting, tightening. It wouldn’t be long now. She couldn’t let that happened. Her dignity depended on it.

She thrust back, hard, stilting his pace just enough to knock him off balance, providing her with the perfect opportunity. She pounced faster than he could react. She needed to get him to come undone by her own machinations, not his own.

The look on his face as she twisted around and pushed him back was an ego boost. He had clearly not expected that at all. She could also tell by his labored breath and heated eyes his control was fracturing just as much as hers was. His expression was so open and expressive, unguarded. Her heart surged in a way she wished it wouldn’t. She couldn’t afford to have those feelings, especially towards him…

She got caught up in his eyes and slipped up. He seized her hesitation and rolled them over, attempting to spread her legs apart with his knee while swooping in to bite her neck. She resisted and fought back. They ended up wrestling over one another, tangles of limbs, groans and cries for release against hot skin, until finally she got him beneath her once more, sinking back on him.

She rode him until he was fucking in synchrony with her, their rhythm faltering as they headed towards an inevitable climax.

“Venus…I…” he moaned, a lewd sound she hadn’t heard him make yet. She committed it to memory knowing full well she wouldn’t be able to stop touching herself to it in the days to come. “I..I’m going to— “

He took a sharp intake of breath, crying out her name hoarsely as he came, his hips bucking erratically as she felt him spend himself inside her as she crashed around him. The sudden rush and the strained sound of his voice calling her name, combined with those last few deep hard thrusts sent her over at the same time. The taught coil that had been wound so painfully inside her snapped at his desperation, his hands digging into the soft flesh of her ass sending an extra spark of pleasure coursing through her body. Soft cries fell from her lips over him as she slowed her pace, riding out the last few waves of her orgasm to prolong the sensation he had summoned within her.

She slumped forward, using one hand to grip the headboard to support most of her weight, while her other was splayed on chest. Tendrils of hair were plastered to the sweat on her temples and cheek as the majority of her thick waves fell forward obscuring her face. Closing her eyes, she rested her head on her arm to catch her breath. She felt a gentle hand push the hair back off her cheek, thumb running over her cheekbone in soothing repetitive strokes. Making a contented sound of approval at the comforting gesture, she leaned into his touch.

“That was…I have…” He trailed off, lapsing into silence for a minute, save for his labored breathing.

She cracked an eye open. “For the first time in this history of our relationship you are at a loss for words in my presence. Mark the day!”

That remark earned her a playful slap on the ass.

“Behave.” She purred, leaning down to bat him on the nose with a fingertip.

She made to wrap her arms around him, but he stopped her. Instead, he lifted her up off him, and the hiss that escaped her lips sounded more like a whine as she felt him slide out of her. She quickly bit her tongue to stem the noise. No need to feed his ego knowing he had succeeded at doing an extremely thorough job at fucking her. She could already tell she was going to ache tomorrow, and in the best way possible. She could see it in him too, that she had thoroughly exhausted him in his deliberately slow movements and body language. She had never seen him more at ease. But there was something nagging at her, dampening her afterglow that she couldn’t quite place. The feeling settled deeper in her chest as she watched Solas languidly sit up and turn away from her, moving too fast from her.

“I believe I won.” He said, leaning over to grab his boxers off the floor.

“Excuse me? You absolutely did not!” She protested, hands resting on her hips.

He tossed her an incredulous look at her over his shoulder.

“I had you undone and writhing beneath me. I most definitely won.”

“If I recall, I had you begging me to fuck you. I do believe that overrules any other action.” He retorted.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but then abruptly shut it, furrowing his brows. “Normally, I would agree that in most circumstances, yes. Actions carry more weight behind them than words, but in this unique circumstance…not necessarily.”

“Yes, necessarily! You can’t conditionally disagree with me.” She argued, “And besides, I totally had you screaming my name there right before you lost control.”

“I…cannot deny that.” He conceded, the tips of his ears coloring as he looked away.

“Then you admit I won.”

He chose that moment to stand up, and she was rewarded with a very distracting view. Damn he had a fine ass.

“No. It was a draw.”

She had to tear her eyes away from him as he bent over to put on his briefs. It took a second for her brain to restart and process what he had said.

“A…draw?”

“You heard correctly. A tie, if you would rather.”

Bruised pride flared in her chest, a tie? Oh hell no. There was no way she would settle for less than a full-fledged victory. It was to be hers and hers alone.

“Rematch.” She declared, crossing her arms over her breasts.

Little warning bells went off in her head as the words left her mouth. She was now treading into dangerous Attachment Developing Territory. One night stands are supposed to stay one night stands for a reason.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. You know what happens when you get involved with friends with benefits, Venus.

Well, rivals with benefits. Frenemies with Benefits.

Why couldn’t she just curb her competitive impulse and keep her damn mouth shut?

He paused in his adjusting, “Are you serious?”

“Of course I’m fucking serious? A tie is a loss. I won’t tolerate it.”

He closed the distance between them with shocking speed, cradling her chin and forcing her to look up at him as he loomed over her, kneeling on the bed. A hand reflexively clamped down around his wrist.

“I don’t think you are quite ready for a rematch” He challenged. She just stared up at him, getting lost again in his heated gaze. She couldn’t think of a clever retort to fire back, not when he was looking at her like that. Her resolve seemed to melt away.

When she didn’t respond he continued on, “What happened to this being a one-time only interaction?”

“New circumstances have arisen. You won’t concede defeat. I have to break you.” She stated with a note of finality, wishing it sounded more confrontational than it did.

Bending in close, he whispered, “This could lead to trouble.”

Her answer was immediate. “I’m willing to risk it if you are.”

He contemplated her offer, slowly shaking his head.

“You might need to clean yourself up.” He pointed out, not giving her answer.

She glanced down, his hand sliding up her cheek in the process as she looked at the mess dripping down her legs.

Fenedhis.” She cursed, springing off the bed and loping into the bathroom to wash herself off.

It was a good thing she closed the door, because the moment she trapped herself in the bathroom she let out an exhausted breath and pressed her forehead against it, lingering there for a few seconds. Turning towards the sink, she twisted the faucet and splashed water in face, hoping to clear the fog in her head that seemed to manifest every time she was alone with him.

 She went about tidying herself up, contemplating how their evening spent together was going to impact their relationship. Would they still treat each other the same, ruthless rivalry and snide comments thrown at each other from across hallways? Would it be awkward, and end up with them avoiding each other at every turn now that they had sex? Amazing sex, she amended. Would he ignore her all together? Would she ignore him, or be more bitchy to him because that’s what she did when Feelings Got Involved?

 He hadn’t give her a straight answer when she had asked for a rematch…so did that mean he wasn’t interested…anymore? Like she thought she would be?  How she should have been? Why the hell had she declared a rematch? What had she been thinking?

She shook her head clearing away the incessant thoughts buzzing around in her mind. She shouldn’t want more. This should have gotten it out of her system. And yet here she was, this impulse to insult and fuck him senseless no less present than it was before. In fact, it only seemed to have intensified. She dabbed her chin dry with the edge of her towel before burying her face in it.

Creators, what have I done?

Just follow your original plan, she reminded herself peeking in the mirror, steeling her nerves and attempting to quell her rapidly beating heart.

One time only, and pretend like nothing happened between us.

Her heart sank at her final decision.

Well, at least she’d get to enjoy a few hours sleeping with him yet before they’d have to go their separate ways. She could repress her Feelings tomorrow.

When she exited the bathroom, she saw Solas searching around her dresser, the rest of his clothes in his arms.

“What are you doing.”

He snapped up and turned around, brows furrowing, “It seems I have lost my vest. I cannot find it anywhere.”

“Hmm. What a pity, it was such a lovely thing too.” She lilted, realizing she was still completely naked, “I could have sworn I threw it over here.” She could feel his eyes following the sway of her hips as she sauntered around him, bending over the check behind the piece of furniture. She knew she wasn’t playing fair, but when was she ever?

“Huh. It’s not there. Too bad.” She straightened up, tossing a coy glance over her shoulder and meeting his blushing gaze. He cleared his throat and averted his eyes.

“I will dress without it.” Turning on his heel, he started towards the bathroom.

She stopped him as he tried to close the door, tugging his slacks and white shirt out of his arms. He grabbed at them back.

 “You plan on going somewhere? She asked smartly, brow raised in question as they played a small game of tug of war over his clothing, neither truly trying.

“I figured this was the part where I leave and ‘pretend I didn’t see’ anything, not acknowledging the events that transpired. Do you not agree?” He retorted, using her words from that morning as he pulled on the shirt, causing her to take a few steps towards him.

“We already fucked, I’m not kicking you out. That would be incredibly insensitive of me. When I asked you here, I didn’t expect you to take to the streets the moment you pulled out. I’m not some selfish asshole. I see the night through.” She explained, tugging again, and hoping it sounded convincing enough. Because to be honest, she fucking loved spooning after sex, and she was really hoping to get the chance to feel him pressed against her one last time without confessing that to him.

He stopped pulling. His mouth opened and closed a few times again, almost as if he didn’t know what to say, or knew what he wanted to say but not how to express it. He looked torn; like he wanted to stay, but something was holding him back.  After a few moments he finally spoke, making up his mind.

“Very well. I will stay.”

“Was that seriously in question?” She scoffed light heartedly, taking small steps backwards towards her bed, pulling him with her via his shirt that neither of them had let go of.

He followed hesitantly, lips pursed in a thin line and the hint of a shadow in his eyes.

“Spit or swallow, Solas. Either tell me what’s bothering you so I can pester you about it, or get in bed with me.”

His face twisted into an expression of morbid amusement before shifting into neutrality. He sighed.

“You are the head of the department we work for, I— “

She pressed a finger to his lips, silencing him. She instantly regretted asking. This was sinking feeling she was hoping to avoid.

“I take it back. Swallow. Don’t finish that statement Solas. I know that this is…what this was…who we are.” She amended and emphasized, again more to herself and to the stupid sinking feeling in her gut. “We both agreed it was to be one-time thing. We obviously had some pent up…frustrations… towards each other but we took care of it. So I say we let the rest of the night happen, and go back to not tolerating each other at the University.” She finished quickly.

And pretending we don’t want to fuck one another in the morning, she thought to herself.

But after stating that out loud to him, she didn’t feel so confident she wanted to go back to that anymore. The night had surprised her, in more ways than one.

A moment of contemplative silence, and then he said, “Alright. I will not speak of it again.”

She fell back onto her bed and tried to squish the small feelings of discomfort their conversation and evoked. This is not the kind of pillow talk she had wanted to have before falling asleep. He climbed in beside her and laid on his back, making no effort to hold her.

Hmph.

So she held him instead, wrapping her leg around his waist and nuzzling her face into his neck, hand curling around his shoulder.

He squirmed. Several times.

“Not much of a cuddler, I take it?”

He squirmed a bit more, but he wasn’t trying to pull away from her. More like get comfortable.

“I…” He hesitated.

She peered at him from their pillow, since she had sort of decided they were sharing one now. She nudged him with her knee.

“It has been a long time since I have shared a bed with someone.” He admitted, “I fear I might not be…as comfortable as you would like me to be.”

“So you kick women out after you’ve boned them?” She teased, knowing full well Solas was most definitely not that type of man. But hell, he did surprise her by going along with all this tonight. She half expected him to cop out.

“No. I do not. I must admit, I normally do not… that is to say, I don’t…”

He was struggling for words for the second time tonight and somehow she found it endearing instead of annoying.

“…have one night stands?” She finished for him and he almost seemed relieved.

“Yes. Like I said, it has been a long time.”

“If you are uncomfortable, I’m not going to force you to be here with me.”

She began to feel kind of rude for being so insistent. Being a jerk and making an ass of him at work was one thing, but making him uncomfortable when he was in a truly vulnerable position was something entirely different, and something she entirely understood a little too well. There were limits she knew not to cross, and she was beginning to think this might have been one she missed. He was such a reserved person after all, which made him all the easier to tease, but now it seemed inappropriate in this moment. She had seen more of him than he probably had shown most people tonight. More than he’s shown anyone in years, perhaps. She began to untangle her limbs she has so thoughtlessly entwined around him. She had to remember not everyone was as go with the flow about sex as she was.

“No!” he said with a little more loudly than he probably intended, hand coming to land on her knee and pull it back over his stomach, “Wait...I would like to try. I think you’re right. I should see this through.” He added softly, “And for once we aren’t arguing over pointless discourse.”

She offered him a crooked smile, because for once she couldn’t disagree with him.

“This may be the only time you hear me say this, so revel in it while it lasts, but you’re right.” She mused, fatigue causing her laughter to turn into a small yawn she smothered into his neck, “I’m glad you changed your mind. Fair warning though, any body part or surface I find is fair game to become my pillow.”

She settled her head half against his shoulder for emphasis. “I lay on things to claim them as my own.”

“Oh, am I yours now?” He teased, stifling a yawn of his own.

She felt her face flush against his skin. That admission had been unintentional, but undeniable.

“You’re a pain in my ass.” She snapped back.

“So eloquently put as ever, Venus.”

Their mirth lapsed in silence, his steady breaths lulling her away from waking the waking world.

His words ‘Oh, am I yours now?’ echoing in her mind as she fell asleep in his arms.

Only for tonight.

Chapter Text

***

This is a terrible idea.

And yet you still want to do it.

Solas was at war with himself. The logical part of his mind knew if he acted on his feelings, it would inevitably lead to disaster. Because every relationship he ever developed always became a disaster. By no other fault than his inability to trust. His heart had been broken too many times to wholly heal. He never let partners get close. Always keeping them an arms-length away emotionally, always pulling back before things got serious.

But this isn’t a relationship, he reminded himself. It was a night of release, nothing more, nothing less. If he could accept that, then he had nothing to worry about. Besides, Venus was an intolerable nuisance in every other situation, so he really shouldn’t be worrying about getting attached at all.

Then why am I here?

He paused in his pacing. He hadn’t even realized he’d been doing it, honestly. He still hadn’t knocked, even though he arrived four minutes ago. His attempts at convincing himself to walk away were just as strong as the ones telling him to walk through the door.

His frustration with himself was only fueling the sexual frustration he had already coursing through his body. He had to do something. Walk away or step forward. Emotion won.

He knocked.

He quickly withdrew his hand, clenching it into a fist. There was no turning back now. He paced away from the door, swallowing the impulse to flee. He convinced himself this was the right thing to do. If anything, he should confront her about all of this, the positions they hold, how entering into a sexual relationship, even if one time, might affect their---

The sound of her door opening disrupted his thoughts, and his feet. He had been pacing, again. He glanced up to see Venus lounging in her doorway. He managed to hold her gaze for a second before his eyes wandered down the rest of her body. She was wearing nothing but a smile and that red silk robe with the plunging neckline from her nudes. He might have gazed at her legs a little too long for when he snapped his attention back to her face, her expression was smug. He felt his face heat up under her stare.

“Good evening, Venus.”

Her smile twisted into something coquettish, plump lips pursing seductively as she leaned against her door frame.

“Well, good evening yourself.”

She didn’t even try to hide the fact she was checking him out. He could feel the heat of it as she looked him up and down slowly. He felt himself straighten in response, tucking his hands behind his back.

When her eyes finally met his again she raised a finger and beckoned him closer, lip caught between her teeth. He felt himself move forward without any hesitation. How did she have this effect on him? Where was his self-restraint?

He was jerked forward when she snagged him by his vest and pulled, causing him to take a few stumbling steps towards her. He didn’t think she could look any smugger than did already did, but he was wrong. He rapidly composed himself again. Or attempted to. It was hard when her hand slipped out of his vest and press flat against his chest. It would be a miracle if she couldn’t feel the rapid pounding of his heartbeat against her palm. He reflexively leaned into her touch, and could not resist reaching for her in return. She was magnetic.

When was the last time you held someone like this?

He encased himself around her, the smooth silk of her robe bunching in his fingers.

How is it this easy?

“Would you like to come inside?” She purred.

“Only if permitted,” he whispered against her cheek.

“Permission granted.”

He was being pulled again, but this time by his belt. A jolt of pleasure at the shock of being touched ran through him again.

He tore his attention from her and glanced around her apartment. It was…so very Venus. The dark, wood paneled floor complimented soft cream couches and coffee table in her living area. Splashes of accents were scattered about tastefully, making the room look inviting. Sheer curtains were pulled back along each window to let in a breathtaking view of the city. It was all so painfully modern, save for the sketches she had hanging on the wall behind the far couch. Those were far more interesting. He began to study the forms she had sketched. Two were of dragons in flight, and the other three were of a woman in varying positions.

“I find it amusing that the first thing you do after I let you in, is analyze my apartment.”

Her voice broke through his reverie, drawing his attention back to the woman mocking him.

“How am I to know the direction to your bedroom if I do not look about the loft first?” he countered.

“Hmm, I don’t know, ask? Not like I live here or anything.”

He felt another insistent tug on his pants. She was ridiculing him.

“Do not patronize me,” he said, snatching her wrist and glancing down. She had gotten his belt, button, and zipper undone in a matter of seconds.

Am I really that oblivious?

“Or what? You’ll— “

He spun her around mid-challenge, pressing her up against the door and sliding his thigh between her legs to hold her in place. He kept her wrist pinned beside her head.

“What game are you playing?” he demanded, scrutinizing every shift in expression on her face, as if looking for the answer in her eyes.

“What every do you mean?” she asked sweetly, voice laced with snark and sarcasm.

“You know exactly what I mean.”

She was toying with him. He could sense the provocation coming simply by the mirth in her eyes as she rolled them.

“This is the prelude to sex, Solas,” She informed him, as if he had never done this before, “The foreplay before intercourse between two consenting adul— “

“I am aware,” He scoffed, not letting her finish, “You are being deliberately evasive.”

“I know,” She bantered, tilting her head to the side, “I enjoy provoking you.”

“I am well aware of that as well.” He couldn’t keep the subtle amusement from his voice. This was not news. He had known she thrived off provoking him, and did it every opportunity she got. A soft laugh bubbled forth from her lips, sending a shiver down his spine.

“You get worked up so easily when I make things difficult. It’s enticing, watching the effects it has on you.” She traced the shell of his left hear with her fingertip, “I especially like when the tips of your ears turn pink.” The teasing touch was so sensual he knew he was turning pink the moment she began to trace it a second time

“…ah, there they go,” she said quietly.

Focus. You need her to define what this is… what we are.

“You were so relentless with me this morning, I hardly thought you would want to speak with me again.”

“I plan on being relentless with you in bed, too. I’m good at channeling my anger into…pleasure productivity.

Her words combined with the repetitive, sensual motions of her finger massaging his ear caused arousal to blossom in chest, and burn straight down to the lower regions of his body.

“What changed your mind?” He managed to say, noting how his voice went weak as she increased the pressure on his ear.

“I can never resist a challenge.” She wet her lips, the movement drawing his attention to her mouth. “And besides, you’re fun to toy with.”

“But I know you well enough to realize you play by your own unspoken rules… How am I supposed to take on your ‘challenge’ if you will not explain what is you want from me?”

He somehow finally managed to ask her the pressing question on his mind. He didn’t think he’d be able to, not with what she was insinuating with his ear.

“But that’s part of the fun, figuring that out.”

“No, it is not. I would prefer to know what I am up against.”

He stopped resisting her touches and she rewarded him by trailing her fingers down his neck, cradling the back of his head tenderly. He needed to retaliate somehow, or she would end up having her way with him without really trying.

He couldn’t let that happen. He brought the hand that wasn’t pinning her wrist against the door up to follow the line of her jaw.

“Well, technically, you’re not up against anything at the moment I am,” she rolled her body up his thigh, brushing against his newly forming erection, “but that will change.”

That was unfair.

“You’re stalling.” He entwined his fingers into the thick waves of her hair around the base of her neck, tugging softly.

“Okay, fine. Would you like me to spell it out for you?” She prompted, a devious look twinkling in her eye.

He couldn’t help glancing down at her mouth, she had leaned in unexpectedly. He nodded, not quite confident he could find his voice.

She closed the distance remaining between the two of them, ducking her head under his chin and grazing her lips against his neck.

“I like it a little rough.”

She kissed his throat. His heart jumped.

“I fight for dominance.”

She kissed his pulse point. He shuddered.

“Unseat me, take me, and make me come.”

She kissed his cheek, and his fingers tightened into hair involuntarily.

“Before I take back control and make you.”

The last few words were spoken directly on his lips, her mouth moving faintly over his sensitive skin. She pulled away abruptly and he felt himself take in a sharp breath. He felt her nails rake down the front of him, slipping into his undone pants.

“I willingly accept that challenge,” he heard himself say in a breathless groan, trying to refrain himself from grinding on her hand as it gripped his swelling dick through his boxer briefs.

“No strings attached, and one time…only.” She emphasized her point by massaging him, and all his self-restraint melted away.

“I…”

His voice faltered when he felt her finger tips curl up his hardened length. He drew back, wanting to search her face for any sign that she was just affected as he was. He needed to see this wasn’t one sided, that she was just toying with him for entertainment sake. He gazed into her eyes and watched them widen, flushed and heated. He watched as that coy mouth of hers splitting into an alluring grin, taunting him as if to say what are you waiting for.  The attraction was mutual. And that made it all the more dangerous. He couldn’t get attached. But that didn’t stop him from answering her.

“…can agree to those terms.”

“Perfect.”

The moment her hand cupped him bare he was done for. There was no escape. His palm hit the door beside her head with a soft thud, freeing her wrist. He nuzzled his mouth against her temple inhaling her sweet scent, moaning as she gently cupped his balls.

He felt the hand he had released cradle his face, pulling him down to meet her mouth. Her breath danced across his lips as the thumb rubbed his jaw gingerly. When she finally kissed him, he went still. It was near sensory overload. He was consumed by her, following her lead with each pull of her lips, melding into her mouth. The need to touch her was overwhelming. He relinquished his hold on her hair and trailed his fingers down her body, pushing away the soft silk from her shoulder to run his hands over her smooth skin. She was soft and inviting.  All too soon, she pulled back.

He opened his eyes in confusion and found her staring up at him with the most affectionate look he seen her give him yet. Then he noticed her arm. His confusion shifted into surprise at the newly revealed tattoo decorating her skin.

“You have a tattoo,” he said bluntly, tugging the robe further down her arm to see just how much of it was marked.

How have I never noticed this before?

He studied the design inked on her body and a sudden revelation dawned on him.

“Your sleeve… its markings… it is a Vallaslin?” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes.” She nudged his chin with her nose, attempting to guide him back to her eager lips.

He evaded.

“It is unlike any Vallaslin I have seen.” He lightly traced one of the bold, swirling black lines. It vaguely reminded him of June’s markings…or possibly some version of Andruil? “I did not realize you were Dalish,” he admitted honestly.

“Not many people do. So, surprise!” He could hear the impatience at his distraction creeping into her voice.

He kept his face unreadable. It did surprise him, greatly. She acted so…unlike he had come to expect of the Dalish. How many times had he insulted her people, right to her face, and not even noticed? Too many. And yet she had said nothing to him about it.

There was also the pressing fact he was infamously known as the artist as Fen’Harel, a fact she was clueless to at the moment. But if she entered into the upper ranks of the art scene in Orlais…she would soon find out.

And he had no idea how she would react to that.

“…. does it bother you?” He could hear the hesitation in her voice. She was worried.

“I…” Again he trailed off. This was not the appropriate time to confront her about her background, or his for that matter. “…no. That is a subject for another time.”

He felt the tension bleed out of her as she emitted a small sigh of relief. “Okay, good. We can argue Dalish traditions the next time we have a disagreement. Glad we’re on the same page.”

And then she was kissing him once more, stealing away all the hesitation he felt as her fingers twisted into his shirt, to pull him closer. He knocked her back against the door again, swallowing her soft cry of surprise. He traced her bottom lip with his tongue, demanding she open up for him. The moment he felt her lips part, he delved in, consuming her entirely. He drew her flush against him, taking control and angling her head to deepen their kiss. He freely explored her body with his hands, gliding them down her back and over the swell of her ass. Heat trickled down his spine at the way she felt in palms. He dropped his hands further, hooking under her thighs and hoisting her up. He felt her wrap her legs around his waist.

Another realization dawned on him.

“Protection?” he asked, pulling his face away. She chased after him.

“On birth control.” She answered him, reclaiming his mouth and parting his lips with her tongue.

“Where is— “

“Bedroom. Up the stairs to the left.” She spoke into his mouth before he turned his head to orient himself in the direction of her bed. He felt her flex her legs around him.

They barely made it to her bed. He had half a mind to take her right there on her steps, with her wandering hands, and tongue doing obscene things to his throat and ears. And he was no less guilty of doing the same to her.

Somehow they managed to strip him down to his briefs, not paying any attention to where the articles of clothing were deposited once they left his body.

He tugged on the sash of her robe. “May I?”

She surged up and placed a chaste kiss on his temple before stepping back and spreading her arms wide in invitation. The silk slipped through his fingers with ease, and the garment fluttered open as she fell back on the bed, with him following a second later. He watched the way her body moved intently as she shimmied out of the red fabric and tossed it aside.

He paused, his breath catching in his throat.

She is so beautiful.

He was caught up in her again, just like he had been in the darkroom. He mapped the contours of her body, her thick thighs spreading before him as he eased between them, the soft plains of her stomach, supple breasts that heaved with each intake of breath, finally leading up to her glowing face, her amber eyes burning in the low light like dying embers.

He placed his mouth on her neck first as she tilted her head back to give him better access to her throat. He left trails of heated kisses, sucking and nipping at her skin as he made his way down. His mouth found the swell of her breast, teasing her nipple with gentle flicks of his tongue and pull of his lips. She began to writhe beneath him, her body pushing up against his in subtle waves.

She tried to roll them over, but easily stopped her, pressing himself down to hold her in place and continued to lavish her.

The second time she attempted to roll them, she succeeded, using much more force than he thought possible. Her mouth was on his in seconds, hard and insistent, coaxing labored breaths to fall from his lips. She then mirrored his motions, kissing and biting her way down his neck, chest, stomach…

He stilled when she caressed his cock, fingers slowly peeling back the fabric until he aided her, lifting his hips to allow her to yank it down in one smooth motion. He took the opportunity to try to seize control again when she was disposing of his underwear. His swipe was evaded, and the moment her fingers wrapped around his length he forgot all about making a second attempt. He watched through heavy lidded eyes as she poised herself over him, her dark hair flipped behind her back as she lowered her mouth over his dick. He twitched her hand as she placed a kiss on the tip, her tongue dragging his flesh before taking him whole. He fell back against her sheets as she had her way with him. He fought against the urge to buck his hips, to push himself further inside. She coaxed his legs apart, one hand running along his inner thigh, caressing his sack with soft fingers. He bucked. He found it hard to breathe.

She pulled up off him, and he glanced down to meet her heated gaze.

“Hmm. I could so easily finish you right here, right…now.”

That was not an option.

And this time he was successful in capturing her, catching her off guard and pulling her body up the length of his easily. She collapsed on his chest. But that wasn’t where he wanted her. He tugged firmly on her hips, guiding her forward until her knees were on either side of his face.

He pulled her down, sneaking a hand between her thighs as he did so.  His fingers found her wet and wanting. He parted her delicate folds and guiding her entrance towards his mouth. She made the sweetest, surprised cry when he began to lavish her slit. He drew his tongue up and found her clit. He gently sucked and swirled around her, feeling her tense above him. When she began to rock against his mouth, he slipped his finger inside. Her walls clenched around him, and the sound he was rewarded made him grip her tighter. He felt his body react, hips canting ever so slightly with each roll of her own. Her soft cries of pleasure began to fall freely from her lips. She was close.

She ripped herself free from his grasp, and fell off to his side. He made to follow but she pushed him back and tried to mount him. He snatched her hips and wouldn’t let her get close enough. She let out an aggravated huff that quickly was silenced by his mouth as he rolled on top of her.

She truly was not kidding about liking a challenge.

He nudged her thighs apart, fighting to stay above her. He nearly was knocked back several times before her resistance faltered when he pushed two fingers inside her. He swallowed every whimper he coaxed out of her with each slick thrust and curl.

“Fuck me” She pleaded against his mouth between their desperate kisses.

“Patience.”

“Fuck me, please.” This time, she was begging.

“Patience.” This time, he was smug.

“Fine.” She gasped, brows furrowing as she pushed his face away and looked him dead in the eye. “Fuck you.”

He had no idea she was this strong, and was not expecting the shove that hit him in the chest at all. She put enough force behind it to knock him back off her entirely. This time, she pinning him down, hard and he found himself unable to resist. He locked eyes with her as she sank onto him.

His breath hitched as he felt her walls tighten around him, wet and warm. His hands moved to cup her breasts, kneading the soft flesh. Pleasure erupted in every nerve as she gave a few tantalizing rolls of hips, adjusting herself to how he felt buried deep within her. He moaned as she leaned over him, changing the angle. She gripped his chin and tilted his head up to look at her.

“I am going to fuck you senseless, and I want you to watch me as I unravel you.”

Her pace was steady and languid, each thrust slow and measured. They gradually became more demanding, her pace picking up, becoming more intense, more frantic. His hands roamed the sides of her of her body down to her hips before his fingers grasped her ass. He felt her mood change, the commanding looks in her eye softening as her pleasure mounted, losing herself in him.

He waited until her eyes fluttered shut in ecstasy before flipping her over. He pressed his dick against her ass as he pinned her down on the bed beneath him, peeling away the curtain of hair to expose her neck and slender, pointed ear.

“I’m winning,” he whispered, and he felt her squirm.

He aligned and buried himself to hilt the second the taunt fell from his lips, and she rewarded him with the most intoxicating sound she had cried yet. His hands found a home on her hips once more, guiding her into the rhythm he set. He watched the muscles flex in her back as she met each of his thrusts with just as much fervor. He felt her slowly begin to tighten around him, in a steady clench. He knew it would be over in matter of seconds if…

“Solas.”

He would never be able to get the way she moaned his name out of his head, not even if he wanted to.

He was so close.

She thrust back off rhythm and he lost control. A victorious glint appeared in her eyes has she drank in his shocked expression. He knew everything he had been feeling was written all over his face, and he made no attempt to hide it. He couldn’t.

But what he could do was make sure she didn’t take advantage of him in this state. He surged forward and wrapped himself around her, pulling her down and over beside him. They were a tangle of limbs and desperate mouths, seeking friction wherever they could find it. They fought for control until finally she stole his breath away and sank back onto him. He let her set the pace, before he began to fuck her back in earnest. They rode each thrust in synchrony, until their rhythm descended into a frenzy.

And it was he who cried out first.

“Venus…I…” He barely recognized the sound he made before crying out her name as he came, thrusting erratically two more times and feeling her spasm around him as he spilled himself inside her.  Her own sounds of release followed shortly after, short mewls that rang in his ears as she rode out the last few waves of climax atop him.

She slumped forward against the headboard, head resting in the crook of her arm with a curtain of hair obscuring her face. He relaxed into the bed, not bothering to move her off him, and hoping she felt the same.

As he laid there, struggling for breath, he fought the impulse to keep touching her. They had just thoroughly ravished each other; he thought he would have nullified his need to feel her, but he was wrong.

He reached up, gently brushing away her thick waves to caress her face. A contented sigh escaped her, and she nuzzled into his touch. His stomach fluttered.

Apparently he wasn’t the only one who still felt touch starved.

“That was…. I have…” His voice broke, his breathing still not permitting him to speak coherently.

She glanced down at him. “For the first time in the history of our relationship you are at a loss for words in my presence. Mark the day!” she snarked.

He quickly slapped her ass. She barely flinched.

She leaned down and flicked his nose. “Behave.”

Why do I find that endearing and not insulting?

The thought shocked him. That’s not how he was supposed to feel. He was supposed to feel indifferent. He was supposed to feel satiated.

As it turned out, it had the opposite effect entirely.

She shifted herself off the headboard and made to wrap herself around him, but he felt his hands prevent her from getting anywhere close. He eased her back up as he sat forward, guiding her off him slowly. He tried to pretend he didn’t hear her enticing little exhale that made him want to bury his face in her shoulder. He had to put some distance between them before he did something irrational.

Like try to kiss her again. Slowly. Passionately.

He abruptly turned away from her, feeling his face heat up as his mind wandered back to her.

“I believe I won.” He announced, more to distract himself from having more thoughts about laying down beside her and forgetting about the world for a few more hours. He leaned over and plucked his briefs off the floor.

“Excuse me? You absolutely did not.” Her sharp protest caused him to cast a disbelieving glance over his shoulder.

He wished he hadn’t.

Her lips were doing that coy pouting trick again, just begging to be bitten.

“I had you writhing beneath me. I most definitely won,” she continued once she had his attention.

“If I recall, I had you begging me to ‘fuck you’. I do believe that overrules any other action,” he countered, clenching his fists to stem the impulse to grab her face and convince her more thoroughly.

“Actions speak louder than words!”

He sucked in a breath to retort, but then her words sunk in and he snapped his mouth shut. “Normally, I would agree that in most circumstances, yes. Actions carry more weight behind them than words, but in this unique circumstance… not necessarily.”

“Yes, necessarily! You can’t conditionally disagree with me,” she argued, exasperation coloring her voice. “And besides, I totally had you screaming my name there right before you lost control.”

Ah.

“I…cannot deny that,” came his admission, feeling his ears heat up, unable to deny the truth. He quickly glanced away, desperate for a distraction. He spotted his shirt across the room.

Yes. Clothes. Focus on that, and not the sound of pleading in her voice.

“Then you admit I won.”

He stood up, collecting his thoughts.

No, he didn’t believe either of them won, actually.

“No, it was a draw.” He declared, without turning to face her.

“A… draw?”

He struck a nerve. She was using that tone of voice on him, the kind she used when they were hip deep in an argument at the University.

“You heard correctly. A tie, if you would rather.” He changed his tone as well, making it as flat as possible to hide his desperation as he stepped into his boxers and drew them up.

“Rematch.”

It was a declaration, not a consideration.

He paused in adjusting the waist band, “Are you serious?”

Did she just…

She did. She just declared she wanted to have sex again.

“Of course I’m fucking serious? A tie is a loss. I won’t tolerate it.”

She was just as desperate as he was. Which meant it was his responsibility to stop this before it got out of either of their control. Normally, he had no problems with setting boundaries, but the way Venus was staring him down…

He was on her in half a heartbeat, losing the war against himself and indulging in the impulse to cup her face in the palm of his hand. She grabbed his wrist almost immediately, gripping him tight. Kneeling front of her on the bed, he tilted her chin up.

He attempted to force himself to reject her.

“I don’t think you are quite ready for a rematch.” he challenged instead, copping out.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t reject her. At least not flat out. Not while she was gazing hopelessly up at him like that. His traitorous heart ached.

Stop that. This is wrong, and you know better than to get attached.

“What happened to this being a one-time only interaction?” He asked more to himself than to her, but she answered him anyway.

“New circumstances have arisen. You won’t concede defeat. I have to break you.”

A new rush of arousal blossomed in his stomach. He leaned in as he pulled her chin up, stopping stopped just before their lips touched.

Pull away.

“This could lead to trouble.” He whispered, reigning himself back at the last second.

She chased after his mouth. “I’m willing to risk it if you are.”

He allowed himself a moment to entertain the idea. It would be so easy get consumed by her again, fall into a rhythm of fighting her and sleeping with her. But it was one emotional entanglement that neither of them could afford.

But what if it was good for you to truly just get her out of your system?

He slowly shook his head, as if trying to clear out everything from his mind. He couldn’t think straight with her naked beneath him. He needed space. He needed time.

He opened his eyes, not realizing he had shut them. Venus was still gazing expectantly up at him.

“You might need to clean yourself up.” He evaded, watching her glance down causing his fingers to brush across her cheek.

Fenedhis.” He heard her curse before she leapt off the bed and out of his hand, locking herself in the bathroom.

He flexed his fingers, trying to shake how her skin felt against his fingertips. He pinched the bridge of his nose as he took a deep breath when the clenching didn’t work. Now that she was out his proximity, he should have no problem trying to rationalize what they had just done. But it was proving to be much harder than he anticipated. Engaging with Venus like this should have rid him of having any type of feelings towards her.

Instead he found himself even more hopelessly drawn to her.

And that scared him. He couldn’t feel this way; Venus was his boss. Well, technically they held the same exact position at the University, she had just been put in charge of the department unanimously due to her effectiveness as organizing departmental events and knowing how to utilize the other staff members’ unique skills. In short, she was a great leader and it was evident in her work ethic.

But still. Sex made everything seem more complicated.

He slid off the bed, unable to concentrate on much else. Would she treat him differently now they slept together? Would she ignore him? Be nicer? Would she act as if nothing happened?

Would he?

He collected his clothing off the floor as his mind ran through every possible scenario, thoughts being put on hold when he suddenly couldn’t find his vest.

It was nowhere to be seen.

“What are you doing?”

He tensed at the sound of her voice, quickly standing up after peeking behind her dresser to see if it had gotten tossed behind it.

“It seems I have lost my vest. I cannot find it anywhere.”

“Hmm. What a pity, it was such a lovely thing too. I could have sworn I threw it over here.” She brushed passed him, still completely naked and bent over to look where he had just checked a second prior.

Oh. She would.

“Huh. It’s not there. Too bad,” she said, straightening up and giving him a look over her shoulder, catching him staring at her ass.

“I will dress without it,” he said hastily. He could not turn around fast enough.

“You plan on going somewhere?” she asked sarcastically, grabbing hold of his shirt and nearly yanking it out of his arms, causing him to turn and face her.

“I figured this was the part where I leave and ‘pretend I didn’t see anything’, not acknowledging the events that transpired. Do you not agree?” He replied testily while pulling hard on his shirt. She stumbled forward in his direction.

“We already fucked, I’m not kicking you out. That would be incredibly insensitive of me. When I asked you here, I didn’t expect you to take to the streets the moment you pulled out. I’m not some selfish asshole. I see the night through,” she explained, continuing to yank on his shirt until he abruptly stopped, fumbling to put together a response.

That’s actually…quite considerate. And unexpected.

“Very well. I will stay.”

He honestly expected her to kick him out if he wasn’t going to agree to a rematch.

“Was that seriously in question?” She snickered at him, slowly guiding him by the article of clothing neither of them had relinquished until they reached her bed. He let her pull him, but his mind had already gone back to dwelling on their peculiar relationship; and how staying the night would affect them both personally, and professionally.

She read his trepidation. “Spit or swallow, Solas. Either tell me what’s bothering you so I can pester you about it, or get in bed with me.”

He didn’t know whether to be offended or amused at her choice of words.

Sighing, he answered her honestly. “You are the head of the department we work for, I— “

He felt her place a finger over his lips, and he froze.

“I take it back. Swallow. Don’t finish that statement Solas. I know that this is… what this was… who we are,” she stated carefully, as if she was unsure how to put her thoughts into words, “We obviously had some pent up… frustrations… towards each other but we took care of it. So I say we let the rest of the night happen, and go back to not tolerating each other at the University.” She said in a rushed breath.

She was having a difficult time processing the night’s events too, it would seem.

But she made her decision obvious. Nothing was to change between them.

Pretend like nothing happened.

If she wanted to pretend like nothing happened so it didn’t affect their work, then so could he.

Even if some part of him did not want to.

This is for the best.

 “Alright, I will not speak of it again.”

She flopped back and stretched out on her bed. He couldn’t help but admire the way her muscles flexed beneath the smooth expanse of her ochre skin, or the way her fingers trailed down her chest before she gestured for him to join her.

He quietly laid beside her, unsure what to do with himself. He wasn’t familiar with the etiquette that accompanied sleeping with someone only for one night. He usually only shared a bed with people he had been seeing exclusively, even if only for short periods of time. Should he give in to that urge to curl himself around her? Should he keep is distance?

She let out a long winded breath and threw her leg over his stomach, slinking her arm across his chest and burying her cheek against his neck.

Ah. Holding it is.

He shifted beneath her limbs, attempting to reposition himself so that he might get the chance to find a way to hold her back without one of his own going numb. And then he shifted again, not sure if she was comfortable with that position. And again. He was out of practice at being this intimate.

“Not much of a cuddler, I take it?” She quipped at him.

“I…” he said, trailing off as he adjusted his hips. She nudged him into a more comfortable place, encouraging him to continue.

“It has been a long time since I have shared a bed with someone,” he confessed softly, “I fear I might not be as… comfortable as you would like me to be.” 

“So you kick women out after you’ve boned them?” she teased, feeling her smile against his cheek.

“No. I do not. I must admit, I normally do not… that is to say, I don’t… “

Why is it so hard to allow myself to have one moment of vulnerability with her?

Because she’ll exploit it, a small voice in the back of his mind answered for him.

He didn’t want to believe that.

“…have one night stands?” she supplied.

“Yes. Like I said, it has been a long time.”

“If you are uncomfortable, I’m not going to force you to be here with me.” She said, the taunting edge to her voice slowly disappearing.

She was being more understanding than he would have given her credit for.

“No! Wait— ” he exclaimed, his voice rising ever so slightly when she made to move her leg off him. He quickly pulled it back over himself. “…I would like to try. I think you’re right. I should see this through.” The words fell from his mouth faster than his mind could tell him shut up.

He wanted to stay like this. For once, there was no annoyed glares, no raised voices, no petty insults.

It was… nice.

Better than nice.

“And for once we aren’t arguing over pointless discourse.” He felt compelled to add, voicing some of his thoughts out loud to her.

She rolled half over to smile up at him. Genuine and warm with a slight curl to the left side of her mouth. “This may be the only time you hear me say this, so revel in it while it lasts, but you’re right,” she admitted, her mellow laughter morphing into a yawn she stifled into his neck, “I’m glad you changed your mind. Fair warning though, any body part or surface I find is fair game to become my pillow.” She informed him, nuzzling in closer. “I lay on things to claim them as my own.”

“Oh, am I yours now?” He retorted drowsily. Her yawn was contagious.

It was her turn to squirm.

 “You’re a pain in my ass.” She snapped, but there was no effort behind jab.

 “So eloquently put as ever, Venus,” he hummed into her hair, letting his eyes slowly shut as he painted small, intricate designs on her bare back.

Her arms curled around him a little tighter as she pressed a light kiss on his chest.

Perhaps this had not been a terrible idea after all.

Chapter Text

The repetitive tracing of his fingertips across Venus’ shoulder blades relaxed her considerably, and she found herself sinking even further into his embrace. The steady rise and fall of his chest was calming, his arms felt warm and safe while the slow beat of his heart lulled her into peaceful dreams.

After some time, something tugged on the edge of her consciousness. She fought against it as it nagged at her, trying to pull her towards the waking world. Awareness spread through her limbs as her mind stirred against her will. An abrupt shift beneath her caused her to fully come to her senses. She blinked away the last few dregs of drowsiness and peeked at the clock on the nightstand. It read 3:03 am.

Too early.

She turned her head to the side to nestle back into Solas, but found the pillow devoid of him. Her eyes snapped open again and her hand shot out to fumble for his body in the dark. She made contact with the soft flesh of his back, and felt him flinch. As her eyes adjusted, she noticed he was sitting up, facing away from her by the edge of the bed.

“Where are you going?” Her voice came out soft, and supplicating.

“Go back to sleep.” He whispered as twisted his torso around to partially face her, removing her hand from his back.

“…You’re leaving… aren’t you?” The pieces clicked into place after she noticed the clothes in his lap, “Get back here, you’re being ridiculous,”she groggily informed him, struggling to sit up and disentangle herself from the covers

She didn’t want him to leave. That was not a good sign.

“I thought it would be easier if I slipped out.”

“It’s 3am, Solas. Sneak out at a reasonable hour.” She rubbed the tiredness from her eyes with the back of her hand, unable to mask the disappointment from sliding into her voice.

He sighed and made to stand up.

Fuck .

“Don’t go,” she stammered, reaching out and slipping her fingers into the crook of his elbow with a light tug. “Please.”

He stilled.

She hated how weak her protest sounded, but she couldn’t stop herself from voicing it.

She could feel the conflict coursing in him by the way his bicep tensed beneath her fingers. She knew she wasn’t making this easy for him. The mixed signals, the hot and cold, the awkward situation she had placed him in without thinking it through. She had thought by having her way with him, she’d feel victorious. Another notch in her bed post to sooth her ego.

But that’s not how she felt, at all.

“It would be kinder in the long run…” He had started to say, twisting his body to face her.

It suddenly became difficult to breathe. The lights from the city pouring in from her windows cascaded across his face, illuminating the sharp planes of his jaw, the cut of his cheekbones, and his eyes .

Oh, his eyes .

They shone brilliantly in fragments of light, beautiful shades of violet and blue shining in the dark. He slowly made his way to her across the bed. As he moved over her she felt herself lay back, unable to break away from his gaze. She had never seen him so unguarded in all the years she had known him. She took a shuddering breath, realizing she saw the swirling torrent of emotions brewing inside her reflected in his eyes. Her heart hammered in her chest at the thought that maybe… maybe he…

She swallowed that thought down immediately. She couldn’t let it manifest, not even as a passing fantasy, especially not in this moment, where she was just as exposed as he was.

His fingers traced a path from her temple down her cheek, brushing the fly away strands of hair to cup her face. A thumb ran over her bottom lip in the most tender of gestures. She shivered. How long had it been since she had let anyone touch her this way? She couldn’t remember.

“But losing—“ he started to say, silencing himself by rushing forward and pressing his lips to hers.

She felt the last shred of resistance she had been so fiercely clinging to all night fray and severe entirely, letting herself succumb to the way his mouth moved against hers, giving up control, letting his tongue trace her upper lip and feel his teeth graze her skin as he begged to be let in. She allowed it willingly, she parted her lips and felt him slip inside, commanding and passionate in every flick of his tongue and pull of his mouth.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and tugged him down, pulling him flush to her body. She became vaguely aware there was no feelings of being cornered, of being suffocated, of being trapped, like she usually felt when lovers laid over her like this. The contact set her skin aflame, a slow and steady burn that unfurled in her chest and spread throughout her wherever they touched. She could feel him hardening against her thigh as he deepened their kiss. His mouth becoming more insistent, sometimes drawing back to steal a breath before diving back in a half second later, pleading for more in a desperate need to feel her.

She pulled away, breathless with swollen lips from how greedily he had consumed her. She nudged his head to the side and haphazardly kissed his neck and throat, biting and nipping softly. He rolled his hips each time her teeth grazed his pulse point, groaning quietly beside her ear.

“Solas,” she whispered against his collarbone after biting him gently.

He rolled his erection into her hip again.

“I thought we had agreed, one time…”

His voice waivered, struggling just as much as she was to keep his composure.

“I’ll pretend this still counts as one if you do,” she pleaded, hands sliding lower to rest on his hips.

They locked eyes, and she could see he was going to break.

“It still is technically one night,” he admitted, breath dancing over her cheeks.

“Then, please ...” She writhed beneath him.

He nudged her thighs apart with his knee and slipped a hand down between her legs. She felt a moan rumble past his lips when his fingers slipped easily inside her, stretching and curling, until she was writhing again. Her need to have him swelled inside her like a tidal wave.

He withdrew his fingers and settled himself between her parted legs. Her heart was racing.

Why am I suddenly comfortable in this position now, and with him of all people?

She fought the urge to arch her back as he entered her. Once fully seated, he looked down at her with that expression again. He held it as he pulled out, gauging her reaction carefully. She reached up and cradled his face.

What am I doing?

He turned his head and kissed her palm as he thrust in, falling into a smooth tempo, a taunting pace that left her aching for more. She wanted him deeper, harder. She wanted to him to stretch her repeatedly until she was crying his name.

It was a strange sensation, feeling so blissfully vulnerable, letting herself feel safe. Wrapping her legs around him without hesitation she followed his lead, shifting herself to take his thrusts deeper, crying out when the angle hit just right.

The tension in her flared, spreading like a current through her limbs. She could feel it vibrating, churning, becoming so taut she thought she might burst. Guiding his face back down, she kissed him as if she were drowning, and he was her only source of air. She wouldn’t be able to hold out much longer, nor did she care to fight against tide pulling her under.

At the strained sound of his voice calling out her name, her climax overtook her. The heat that had been building in her core rushed out, dripping in the spaces between them. His pacing became sharp and erratic as she clenched around him, coaxing the most intoxicating sounds out of him as he came, until he was just grinding lazily into her. He trembled above her until he finally stilled inside her, collapsing onto her a few seconds later. She could feel his labored breaths and pounding heart beat in synchrony with hers.

She nuzzled against his cheek until he lifted his head from her shoulder and turned towards her, finding her eager lips with ease. She let her eyes flutter closed as she breathed him in, and he breathed her out, getting lost in a languid rhythm of soothing kisses.

“Stay,” she sighed, barely audible between their shared breaths.

His response was only to kiss her harder, and she knew.

She knew he would be gone when morning came.

Chapter Text

Her body was soft and warm nestled against Solas’, her limbs wrapped around him in a comforting embrace. How strange it was to find himself at ease in her arms, it was something he would not have been able to fathom yesterday, and yet here they lay, entwined peacefully together.

How easy it would be to stay like this, feeling each breath, each flutter of her heart beat against his bare skin beneath the silken sheets of her bed. How easy it would be brush a faint kiss across her temple and hold her tighter, letting his own slow breaths fall into rhythm with hers.

How easy would it turn to ash and argument in his hands when she awoke and remembered she loathed him.

It was something, he realized in that moment, he did not want to face.

He carefully disentangled his legs from hers, gently slipping out from under her body. A small, subtle moan of protest escaped her lips and her hands gripped his neck harder. He paused, letting her resettle and letting sleep loosen her grip. He watched her expression smooth over, thin brows relaxing as her plump lips parted slightly. It took every ounce of self-restraint not to curl back around her and press a delicate kiss against them before he finally pulled away.

He did not want to go.

But he knew he could not stay.

He quietly slid to the edge of the bed, spotting his clothes resting on the nightstand where he had left them, and moved them into his lap. A dull rumble from a lone car driving down the street was the only noise audible in the room as he studied the pile of clothes he was going to force himself into. The screech of the tires as they made a sharp turn echoed inside his mind, colliding with his conflicting thoughts. He let his head fall into his hands, elbows resting against the fabric draped over his thighs as he tried to pull himself together. He sat there for a minute unmoving, watching the lights shift across her bedroom wall through his fingers, as more stray cars made their way home.

A sharp slap on his bare back jolted him out of his inner turmoil, causing him to flinch at the sudden contact. He twisted around to find Venus reaching for him, pulling at him, a half-tired, half confused expression cresting over her face. There was a question on her lips though her eyes betrayed she knew his answers. He peeled her hand away from him, but he still felt a burning impression from where she had touched him. He told her to go back to sleep, hoped that in her half-hazed state of mind she might listen, but she was forcing herself awake, attempting to sit up and push away the covers, exposing her bare body.

He had to turn away, had to stand up. If he spent one more moment looking at her his resolve would crumble.

“Don’t go… please.”

He took a sharp breath. The way her voice cracked on her plea pierced straight through the last of his defenses, lodging itself like blade in his chest. He tensed as she slipped her fingers around his elbow, anchoring him to the spot.

“It would be kinder in the long run…” he heard himself say, but let his voice die off as her grip tightened.

The thought that she didn’t want him to leave either consumed him.

He turned to face her once more, knowing this time he would not be able to pull away. Not even if he tried. He watched as her expression shifted from one of pained confusion to wide-eyed wonder as he gravitated toward her, slowly maneuvering to hover over her body as he laid her back against the pillows. He brought a hand to her face, gently sweeping away tendrils of hair and wandering an idle path down her cheek, and along her jaw with a finger. He traced the outline of her bottom lip with his thumb, drowning in her molten depths of her eyes.

“But losing—“

He didn’t allow himself to finish that statement.

Instead he kissed her, compelled to feel her once more. She was a center of gravity that he could not fight the pull of, and didn’t know why he had even tried to resist in the first place. Her lips parted so easily with a flick of his tongue, delving in deep into her willing mouth. They fell into a rhythm of ragged breaths and little nips, coaxing the other to succumb further into their desire. She wrapped her arms around him and eliminated the space between their bodies. He could feel every flex of her muscles along his stomach, every breath she took swelling against his chest, his steadily growing arousal being pressed into her hip, grinding against her reflexively.

She crooned his name as he slanted his mouth over her throat, thrusting against her, shuddering at the pleasurable friction it brought.

“I thought we had agreed, one time…”

Resisting her was a losing battle, and he knew he could not hide it.

“I’ll pretend this still counts as one if you do.”

She rolled up into him, hands holding his hips in place so he had no choice but to feel her grind against his erection.

“It is still technically one night,” he acknowledged, giving into temptation.

“Then, please…”

He needed no more convincing. He wanted this, wanted her, wanted to linger in this moment just a little longer before the dream shattered when the sun would rise. He spread her thighs and he felt the last shreds of the tension in her body leave the moment he touched her. His fingers circled her slit idly, watching her stomach muscles flex and tense at his teasing touch before slipping inside. He groaned at how aroused she was, how badly she wanted him. He worked in her with ease, the slick sound of his fingers repeatedly filling and curling deep inside her breaking the strained silence that had fallen between them. She began to slowly grind against his hand, her own twisting in the sheets as her body begged for more. How could he not when she was responding to his touch so viscerally? He felt his own arousal throbbing between his thighs, urging him to give in to what they both wanted.

He pushed her legs further apart and withdrew his fingers. He shifted over her and aligned himself, rubbing the head of his cock against her folds as he held her gaze. She looked so vulnerable it stole his breath away. He knew it was a rare sight to see her in such a state, that it was likely something she would never let him see again. It drove him forward. She let out a small cry as he buried himself within her in a deep thrust. He slowly pulled out, watching every shift in expression on her face, and twitch of her lips. He stilled when she reached up and cradled his jaw, his eyes going wide as her fingers explored his face more intimately, caressing his cheek tenderly. He felt his heart throb with each brush of her fingertips. Turning his head, he pressed his lips into her palm in gentle gesture of returned affection and snapped his hips, sinking back into her inviting warmth.

They started out slow, meeting each other’s movements in timed thrusts, bodies grinding wantonly against one another. His hand roamed the planes of her stomach, cupping her breast and faintly kneading her. She arched into his palm, releasing a hissing breath as she angled her hips, taking him deeper. He let himself be guided down, the space between them entirely eliminated when she captured his lips in a searing kiss. He moaned into her mouth as their smooth tempo evolved into something exponentially more passionate. She wrapped her arms around him tightly, her nails digging into shoulders each time he would drive into her. Her walls began to constrict around him, her climax rapidly approaching as her breath turned into ragged cries against his mouth. He wouldn’t be able to last much longer, he could feel his own release fighting against his will, feel it consume him as the flames of it shot down his spine burn through his very core until… until…

Venus!”

He cried out as she came around him, clenching and pulsing, in a euphoric wave crashed over him repeatedly. His release was instant, erratic and entirely out of his control.

He collapsed around her after a few languid, haphazard thrusts, coaxing out the last of her orgasm before letting himself drown in all of her. She was all he could see, all he could feel, all he could hear. Her eyes that burned like a dying fire boring into his own of ice, her heartbeat pounding against his breast in a labored rhythm that matched his own, the scent of her flooding his senses. Resting his head against her forehead, they lay in silence clinging to one another. Neither saying a word, neither acknowledging what had just transpired, both afraid of their actions.

And their consequences.

Venus grazed her lips over his neck, gently sucking along his throat, lingering around his pulse point before nudging his chin, seeking his mouth. He couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of her, and he felt himself give into the soft invitation of her lips. She was being far more gentle with him than she had all night, each kiss tentative, testing, asking. Her mouth became more insistent, the question more pressing until she finally sighed and voiced it. It fell from her lips in a fragile plea that made his chest ache. One word that echoed in his ears.

Stay

He tensed, knowing fully he could not do ask she asked.

It would never work; they would never work.

Instead, his mouth became greedy, swallowing her soft cries for him, over and over, drowning himself in her until he couldn’t breathe without tasting his name on her lips.

Stay.

He wanted to.

Oh, how he wanted to.

***

The second time he awoke, he found Venus draped around him, her head nestled against shoulder, face fitting perfectly in line with the shape of his neck. She was a solid and welcomed weight on his chest, warm and anchoring. He pushed the fallen pieces of hair obscuring cheek away, studying her face, memorizing the peaceful expression he found resting against him. The impulse to kiss her returned full force, shocking him at how strong it was. He tried to ignore it, he truly did. But his mind was buzzing with a hundred other questions and thoughts he was trying to suppress.

So he gave in.

Brushing his lips against her forehead, he laid a delicate kiss on her flushed skin before gently shifting her off his body. He shivered as the cold air hit him, chasing away the last remnants of her warmth from his body when he stood. Quietly as he could, he dressed and collected his bearings. Once his clothes had been adjusted and covers tucked back around her sleeping form, he took once last glance around her bedroom. His vest seemed to have disappeared out of existence. Hope that maybe she would find it, warranting a return visit, fluttered in his stomach that he immediately tried to extinguish as he padded silently down her stairs and towards her door.

I am being ridiculous.

The dawn was just starting to peer over the horizon as he exited her complex and crossed the barren street over to his own into the early morning sunrise. Despite the hour, he was completely awake. He opted for the stairs instead of the elevator to his floor, simply because he needed an excuse to get rid of this pent up nervous energy. He needed to clear his mind--anything to stifle the thoughts of her, of them, of what they had done from roaring in his head. Sleeping with her was supposed to solve their problems, not create a thousand more.

Who was he kidding, he knew this couldn’t just be a simple dalliance. He had tried to warn himself and he ignored all the signs, foolishly. He stepped into his flat and made a beeline for his kitchen. His place was much larger and more rustic in appearance, having been around longer than Venus’ complex had. It had an antique feel, that Venus might scoff at, but it was entirely his and he found comfort in its archaic décor. He went through the motions of preparing tea on autopilot, his mind still fixated on what he was going to do about Venus. Clearly, they both were in over their heads with this. If evolved into something more… especially after what they had just…

No. Do not get ahead of yourself. It would never work.

He sighed. His heart and mind were at odds, as he often found they were. What he needed most right now was to hear a voice of reason, a voice of wisdom. He went for his phone out of habit, but his fingers stilled over its outline in his pocket. A pang of chilling grief sunk into his limbs as he remembered the one person he always turned turn to, who always knew the right thing to say, the perfect piece of advice even if it wasn’t something he wanted to hear, could no longer answer his calls. Sileal had not been able to for almost a year now, and yet he still found himself accidentally dialing her number, or leaving voicemails realizing halfway through she would never get to hear them.

His chest felt tight when he stole a glance at his bookshelf where he had her picture turned face down. Eventually, he would be able to right all the photos he had downturned of her in his apartment, but this morning was not that day. The sound of the kettle whistling broke him from his reverie, chasing away old memories before they could surface. That was not the type of distraction he wanted to take his mind off Venus, it was another sore spot all itself. He poured himself some tea and meandered to his kitchen table, sitting down and wrapping his hands around his steaming cup.

His mind wandered back to Venus. He could no longer deny his attraction to her to himself, that much was evident. And it seemed obvious enough she was equally as drawn to him. But they ordinarily couldn’t stand each other enough to be in the same room for longer than twenty minutes. He had no idea how to anticipate seeing her on Monday, and it unsettled him. Would the infatuation fade once they started working together again? Or would it make everything that much more difficult? Would it affirm his all his suspicions that it would be a complete disaster and this ultimately was one giant regret waiting to form?

He took out his frustration with a few aggravated sips of his tea, choking on the taste as he forced himself to swallow the scathing liquid. Perhaps tea had not been the best idea. He didn’t understand where his worry was coming from, it’s not as if they had a bad date and— he paused mid sip, suddenly remembering a date he did have to keep.

Oh. I forgot to email Cassandra.

With a grimace, he took another sip and hastily set aside the cup, reaching for his laptop. Opening his email, he quickly drafted a quick message to Cassandra outlining the details and forwarded the flyer for the Gala. The event formal, with light hors d'oeuvres and cocktails being served throughout the night. Masks were optional, which Solas was grateful for. He thought they were gaudy and a bit tacky. He stalled over the send button for half a second as thoughts of inviting Venus surfaced, but quickly shook his head and pressed enter, firing off the email.

Venus would have been a terrible date, and purposely would have tried to irk every single last one of his nerves.

Or worse, worn a mask.

He jumped at the soft vibration in his pocket, heart leaping to his throat effectively cutting off his oxygen supply. Surely Venus had not woken up just yet…

 

Got a new project, like your thoughts.

Blackwall
5:06 am

 

It appeared he wasn’t the only one up at this hour.

 

If this one involves drunken wood carving, I most certainly am out.

Solas
5:06 am

 

Ha. No.

But c’mon you got to admit that was fun.

Blackwall
5:07 am

 

Then I am listening.

And No.

Solas
5:07 am

 

Hah your still miffed you stumbled into the wood pile.

Easier to explain in person. Got plans today ?

Blackwall
5:07 am

 

You’re*

No. Where and When

Solas
5:08 am

 

He had planned on checking on the state of his frescos and getting them ready to transport in the next few weeks, but other than that he had no definitive plans for the weekend.

Perhaps this was the distraction he needed.