He was the first person Adaar noticed.
It was hard not to notice him. Even in a crowded gallery filled with friends and inspired Dalish paintings, he stood out to Adaar. It wasn’t even about his obvious Tevinter heritage, but it did have everything else to do with his appearance. He was tall for a human, statuesque even, with silver eyes that were bright in the gallery lights and dressed in a way that flattered all aspects of his body. The man was so pretty it nearly hurt to look at him and Adaar knew right away that such a man would be physically and socially far out of his orbit, like a distant and brilliant star.
Those silver eyes lazily scanned the room, taking in the people and paintings, almost an island to himself with only the occasional visitor. His lips curled under a perfectly styled mustache into half smiles as he made small talk to the women who approached him. His laugh was perfectly polite, his posture friendly as he loosely holding a flute of champagne, taking the occasional short and measured sip. But of those pretty women who approached him, none seemed to really capture the man’s attention.
Also standing on his own, Adaar was glad that the Iron Bull was running late and did not stand witness to Adaar watching the handsome Tevinter man. Bull would undoubtedly tease him, tell him he was mooning over the pretty human, or even worse, he’d approach the man and flirt. Normally, Adaar could handle Bull’s lighthearted overtures to others, but he was unsure he could have beared the mortification of Bull flirting with someone just so beautiful.
Trying to be firm, Adaar attempted to put the man out of mind, to concentrate on admiring his friend’s artwork and not the man with brilliant silver eyes and a small, waning smile. Instead Adaar kept his gaze firmly on the paintings that surrounded him, unknowingly inching closer and closer to the man. Just as Adaar was setting his glass of wine down on a nearby table, he stepped back and immediately collided with something warm and solid.
There was a sudden sharp squeak of indignity paired with the shattering of glass on the floor.
Adaar’s arms shot out immediately, wrapping around the trim waist of the individual he ran into. His hands were splayed against a sturdy back and the faint scent of jasmine oil filled his nostrils upon close proximity to the individual. In the aftermath of the collision, it took Adaar a couple of seconds to realize that wide silver eyes set in a handsome face were staring straight up at him.
He nearly flushed as it dawned on him that he almost knocked down the beautiful man and spilled his drink. In those long seconds that he held the man in his arms, Adaar knew he had to say something both witty and apologetic, to come off as both sincere and smooth.
What actually came out was this:
“Oh Maker, I’m so sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was going! Are you ok?”
A lifetime was packed neatly away. Momentos, knick knacks, and photographs were tucked away from sight and stored carefully in brown cardboard boxes. Bookshelves once laden with great works of literature and academic monographs were now bare. Fine Tevinter china and chipped everyday dishes were packed and cupboards and the china cabinet sat empty. Boxes were stacked along barren walls and scrubbed floorboards, occupying space that was once filled with memories of a life loved and lived, a space that became a quiet memorial to what once was.
The townhouse was hollowed out, all the evidence of that life was gone and the only things left were large pieces of furniture and cardboard boxes to keep the rooms weighed down. Open windows allowed the fresh morning breeze in, mixing with the sterile scent of household cleaners and bleach that permeated the air. Sunlight poured in through unobstructed windows, the curtains were taken down and allowed the light to stretch uninterrupted across the hardwood floors.
That emptiness heralded such opportunity.
Kaaras Adaar couldn’t deny his excitement, the thrum of happiness that beat through him as he wandered through the empty rooms and checked drawers and closets for anything left behind. The only thing Adaar spied in those nooks and crannies were dust bunnies that had yet to meet their end and the lingering smell of chemicals and fake lemon.
A short beep from his phone filled the hallway that Adaar was standing in, a short message illuminating the screen as he slid it out of his pocket.
Just left the house. We’re on our way! Sera says Bull better come through on the donuts and coffee.
And soon things would be set into motion. Adaar could hardly wait.
The wooden stairs under his feet creaked as he made his way down to the main floor. The tight spaces and narrow hallways of the townhouse blocked the sightlines, but Adaar quickly found Dorian in the living room, his back to Adaar and hand against the wall.
Fingertips ran over the gently textured wall, painted a pale grey as Dorian asked the hollow room, “It was never meant to be permanent, was it, amatus?”
Adaar was unsure if Dorian was speaking to him.
Instead of answering where an answer might be unwanted, Adaar closed the space between them in a few long strong strides. His arms wrapped securely around Dorian’s torso, drawing his form close to Adaar’s body as he dropped his chin in lush, dark hair. Adaar took in a deep breath, his toes curling in his shoes, Dorian smelled of fresh soap and shampoo with a tingle of mint from the products.
“Everything upstairs is cleaned and I double checked all of the closets and drawers, we didn't miss anything,” Adaar reported dutifully. “Dagna sent me a text, she said she and Sera are heading over.”
Dorian's hands grasped Adaar’s arms, his fingers digging into exposed, grey flesh as fingernails bit in slightly. “Thank you, amatus.”
“No problem. Now all we have to do is wait for Bull to come with breakfast and for Cullen and Lavellan to come with the moving truck and then we can start moving these boxes out of here.”
“I hope you added a few more rooms to the house, because I have no idea where all of this is going to go.” A long sigh caused Dorian to sink back against Adaar's chest, melting against him as tense muscles eased even at the stressed statement.
“We've got plenty of room, kadan,” Adaar's optimism was spilling over, he held no doubts, not at this point. “We cleared out a bunch of things that we aren't using and put some stuff in storage in the attic.” A soft hum of contentment vibrated through Adaar's large body. “I can't wait for you to be all moved in.”
Dorian rolled his eyes, his smile softening as he tipped his face up towards Adaar. “You know that I've pretty much been moved in for the last month, I haven't slept over here in weeks and all of my essentials are already at your house.”
“Our house,” Adaar corrected immediately, “and it's not official yet, not till all of your stuff is there.” His arms squeezed Dorian tighter. “I'm so happy you're moving in.”
While Adaar wasn’t as observant as Bull, he wasn’t blind, wasn’t so naive to think that this move didn’t stir up a myriad of emotions within Dorian. This was the first home Dorian owned, home that Dorian had shared with a much beloved husband, and the home that they crossed into as newlyweds. It was also the home where Dorian nursed an ailing Felix to the best of his abilities and bore the silence of his absence.
But Adaar couldn’t hide his own pleasure and he hoped it was infectious, that it helped to quiet any doubts and reservations that Dorian might have about leaving.
"Yes, well,” Dorian started, his voice thick and a little wobbly, “I do rather enjoy being with you and Bull.” He sucked in a long breath. “And it’s not like I’m not giving this place up entirely, I rather hope Krem and Lace will be easy tenants.”
“Well, if they’re difficult, you have two large Qunari boyfriends to collect the rent for you,” Adaar teased, causing Dorian to let out a short snort of laughter.
The front door opened quietly and Bull's treacherously light footsteps were faint in the empty space, his feet missing every squeaky floorboard. Sometimes just the lack of noise alerted Adaar to Bull’s presence, the distinct and careful tread of his steps and the near silence of his breath.
“Donuts and coffee are here!” Bull's voice boomed out. “Cullen and Lavellan weren't far behind of me, they'll be here in a sec.”
Well, the Iron Bull wasn’t always quiet, Adaar thought with fond exasperation.
Straightening up in Adaar's arms at Bull’s call, Dorian said with a small, breathy sigh, “I suppose it's time to get back to work.”
The relative stillness of the townhouse was broken by the quick succession of people arriving. Dorian's friends came bustling in, hovering around the kitchen island to select donuts from the large white box Bull brought in and to fill paper cups from the carafe of hot coffee. They lingered there, chewing and laughing, chatting about the good times they had in Dorian and Felix's home.
“Remember when Felix was so drunk that he fought a chair with a coat on it because he thought it was that dwarf who was hitting on fancy britches?” Sera recalled with a muffled giggled, her mouth half full of a cinnamon donut and spraying bits of sugar and crumbs.
“A chair?” Adaar asked, the very thought tickling him as he laughed gently.
“He thought it was an old fling of Dorian's who came to visit as I recall,” Cullen explained and Adaar hungrily listened to any little insight into Dorian’s past. “To give Felix credit, the man was a dwarf and it was his coat that was draped over the chair.”
“No, don't give Felix any credit for that incident,” Dorian sniffed indignantly, his lips bowing down into something akin to a scowl. “That may have been the single most humiliating moment of my life.”
“You're just in a huff because smarty britches fought a chair and not the dwarf,” Sera stuck out her crumb covered tongue.
“I would have been even more mortified if he had actually hit Cadash.”
“Your man getting all jealous and fighting for you? I bet you liked it,” Bull's elbow lightly dug into Dorian's ribs.
Dorian only rolled his eyes and stuffed another bite of donut into his mouth with a slight grimace. The easy laugh lines around Dorian’s eyes were missing and there was no amusement mixed in with his annoyance. Adaar’s gaze met Bull’s for a few seconds.
What was that? Adaar silently asked, but Bull’s pale eye revealed no answers for him. He seemed as equally puzzled.
“Oh! And remember that time smarty britches locked himself out and got stuck in the window?” Sera began again and Dorian’s lips finally spread out into a smile.
“Wasn't that you, Sera?” Lavellan asked.
“Well, yeah, one time, but then Felix did it too.”
Once the donuts were consumed and the stories tapered off, a flurry of activity filled the space with people grabbing boxes and hefting the larger pieces of furniture in pairs. There were grunts of effort, people asking others for help, giving the best suggestions for maneuvering tight corners, and Lavellan barking orders as she stood by the moving truck. She stood there authoritatively, giving direction on the best way to load the boxes and pointing sharply with one hand while the other rested on the gentle curve of her stomach.
The move seemed to happen rather quickly as the early morning fell way and rumbling stomachs heralded the approaching noon hour. The boxes vanished from their neat piles as did most of the furniture. Only the couch and the dining room set were left behind for Dorian's new tenants. Everything was tucked into the moving truck that pulled away from the street with Cullen at the wheel.
Adaar found Dorian in the empty kitchen, his silver eyes with a sharp gleam were combing the stretches of empty space. Stepping next to Dorian, Adaar took his hand, lacing their fingers together. A slow smile curled under Dorian’s mustache.
“So amatus, ready to head home?”
Adaar couldn’t help but to muse over all the effort that was put into packing up and hauling Dorian’s boxes and furniture only to move them a short few miles away to the house. The move was so insignificant that Dorian’s zip code didn’t even change. No one uttered a word about it though, as their friends happily helped to unload the moving truck and ferried Dorian’s things into his new home.
Adaar, along with Lavellan, tried to direct people to place boxes and items to certain rooms, tried to make sure that Dorian’s things made it into the house in an organized manner, but it was in vain. With too many hands and too many things to be moved from the truck, much of it was left haphazard where there was free space. Not that Adaar minded, he was happy to see Dorian’s things mingled in with his and Bull’s, adding another layer of memories to their home.
He couldn’t wait to get into those boxes and have Dorian fully moved in.
By noon the sun had climbed up high in the sky and the surprising heat of a Ferelden summer could be felt in the air by the time the last of the boxes were cleared out of the moving truck. Tired from an early morning and physical labor, everyone began to migrate to the backyard where freshly delivered pizzas, cold beer, and sodas were being served.
But as Adaar’s eyes swept the backyard filled with their friends, he didn’t see either Dorian or Bull.
Long minutes stretched out before him as the pizza began to fall to Sera’s bottomless stomach and Adaar wondered if he should go find them. Worry bubbled up in him, even though he was unsure what he should be anxious about. But Bull seemed to anticipate him, emerging from the house with Dorian and his large grey hand settled on the back of Dorian’s neck.
They shared a look as the corner Bull’s mouth tugged upward as Dorian extracted himself from Bull’s grip and pressed a kiss on Adaar’s cheek as he passed him as he headed towards an empty lawn chair. What happened? Adaar wondered, watching as Dorian sat down and was offered a cold beer and a couple wide slices of cheese pizza. But the worry evaporated as Dorian relaxed in his seat, tension unwinding with Adaar as he watched Dorian’s tongue darting out to lick a bit sauce from his lips.
Whatever it was, he trusted Bull to fix it or to come to him later.
After the pizzas and beer disappeared, everyone began to disperse to carry on with their weekends. Bull busied himself with cleaning up the dishes from lunch while Lavellan lingered on the front porch with Dorian after Dagna and Sera left.
Cullen took the opportunity to remind Adaar, “I was hoping to borrow that chainsaw from you, like we talked about the other.”
“Oh, right! Those big tree limbs came down in your backyard last week. It’s in the garage, I’ll go get it.”
“Maker’s breath,” Dorian said loudly from the porch with Lavellan. “With a baby on the way, now is not the time to take off your arm attempting to use a chainsaw, Cullen.”
Cullen sighed and rolled his eyes. “You know that I was a Templar and I was raised on a farm.”
“That somehow inspires even less confidence in me.”
“Andraste help me,” Cullen muttered under his breath as he followed Adaar to the detached garage.
It didn’t take long for Adaar to locate the requested chainsaw. It hung on its spot on the wall in the neat and orderly garage, Bull’s old military precision permeated even that small corner of their lives. The workbench with Bull’s half-finished projects was meticulously organized. The floor was swept of dirt and sawdust, cobwebs were routinely cleaned, and tools, gardening supplies, and little odds and ends all had their designated place.
“Here you go,” Adaar said, “no rush in getting it back. We won’t need it any time soon”
“Thanks, Ellana will appreciate having those tree limbs cleared away.” Taking the chainsaw from Adaar, Cullen added suddenly, “I wanted to speak to you privately.”
Raising an eyebrow though not totally surprised, Adaar asked, “What’s on your mind, Cullen?”
The Fereldan straightened his strong back, his height impressive for a human and his darkened amber eyes easily met Adaar’s. “You know how much Ellana and I care about Dorian,” he started, his voice skirting the edge of a warning.
Despite the commanding nature of Cullen’s tone, Adaar suppressed the smile forming on his face. “Yes, I do.”
“And you know what will happen to you and Bull should either of you hurt Dorian.”
The muscles of Adaar’s face ached as he tried to keep his expression solemn. “I imagine no one would find our bodies.”
“That is correct,” Cullen nodded sharply. “I’m glad we had this talk.”
A soft chuckle escaped, though it was fond and understanding. “Me too.”
“You’re both good for him, even Ellana thinks so,” Cullen’s face softened. “Neither of us has seen him this happy since before Felix became ill.”
There was an unspoken trust that Cullen was offering him and Adaar was glad to have his confidence.
“All I want,” Adaar found himself saying, “is for Dorian and Bull to both be happy.”
“Yeah,” Cullen gave Adaar a lopsided smile, his grin tugging at the scar on his lip, “I know.”
Walking out of the garage, Adaar spotted Dorian and Lavellan still standing on the porch in the afternoon sun and whispering to each other as they often did. But this time Lavellan’s face was pinched as they talked, lines creased her Dalish features and Dorian stood with his shoulders hunched forward with his arms crossed protectively over his chest.
“Ellana is probably pestering him about something,” Cullen tried to reassure, though his flat smile and vague reassurance did little to soothe the concern Adaar felt.
Adaar itched to pry, but he knew better than to butt into Dorian and Lavellan’s friendship. Lavellan made it abundantly clear that if she wanted Adaar or Bull to know something, she’d tell them directly, sometimes to Dorian’s dismay.
Dorian’s eyes lifted up from Lavellan’s face and met Adaar’s worried look. His arms fell to his sides and any sign of distress was quickly concealed as he sassed to Adaar, “So, amatus, you’re really going to let him borrow that limb cutter.”
“I’m not going to cut off any limbs!” Cullen protested and continued to protest as such even after Lavellan shoved him to the car.
As their friends pulled out of the driveway, Adaar was immediately elated. The shadow cast by Dorian’s whispered conversation with Lavellan diminished in the realization that Dorian was home. There would no longer be a need for Dorian to dash over to the townhouse because he forgot something, needed a certain shirt, or had to pick up his mail. With the exception of some large furniture left behind, everything was there at the house and if Dorian needed anything, all he had to do was open a drawer or closet.
“Come on, let’s get you unpacked,” Adaar said brightly, his hand clapping on Dorian’s back with enough enthusiastic force to make the other mage lurch just a little as they made their way inside. “I’ve got a list of all of the boxes and where they need to go.”
“What? You have a list?” Dorian blinked up at him, an eyebrow arching delicately.
“I numbered them last night by which room they should go in based on their contents,” Adaar explained, watching as Dorian’s eyes widened. “There are only three boxes that aren’t assigned a room since you just threw odds and ends into them, but I know where they go. Here, I can text it to you.”
“Let’s take a rest, boss,” Bull quickly intervened as he emerged from the kitchen, his voice stressing his teasing nickname for Adaar, “the boxes will be there tomorrow and we’ve been working hard all week packing things up. Plus there’s a football game on, Val Royeaux is playing Antiva City.”
Adaar stuck out his bottom lip.
“Don’t pout, kadan, it’s not as cute as you think.”
There was a little disappointment that neither Bull nor Dorian was enthused about unpacking, but Adaar could concede to the point that they all had a long week. The disappointment faded as he watched Dorian rest his head in Bull’s lap as they settled on the couch and as grey fingers easily slid into dark hair, blunt fingernails scratching idly at Dorian’s scalp.
It was a picturesque scene and Adaar longed to settle on the couch with them, sink into warm embraces and let the afternoon slip away into lazy contentment. But the flickering images of the TV screen of football players running up and down the field did little to entice Adaar and he quickly found himself drawn to the boxes, ready to be unpacked.
The boxes designated for the living room were dragged in, opened, and Adaar dove in. Books of Tevinter literature were placed next to Varric’s novels on the bookshelves and tomes on necromancy and time magic were placed next to volumes on Rift magic. A hand painted box from Antiva, an old dormant rune from Nevarra, and other trinkets from Dorian’s travels were placed side by side with Bull’s collection of dragon figurines and Adaar’s small obsidian replica of an Inquisitor’s helm. A warm, hand knitted throw blanket that once adorned Dorian’s couch was draped over the armchair.
And then there were photographs, wrapped carefully in tissue paper and framed in high gloss wood and silverite. Some were of the three of them, others of Dorian’s friends, but most of the photos were of Dorian and Felix. Adaar sat cross legged on the floor next to the open box, carefully removing each framed photo, his fingers avoiding smudging the glass as he examined them with a little smile on his face.
He loved the photos of Dorian and Felix. Their faces were always alight with joy and their looks always spoke of a mutual love and understanding. Adaar took his time going over Dorian’s wedding photos, Dorian appeared especially stunning in his dark suit with red accents, makeup and hair done perfectly, and the sheer happiness across his face. It wasn’t just Dorian’s beauty that gave Adaar pause, but also images of the ceremony, of standing up in front of friends and family in mutual commitment and love.
It reminded Adaar that his parents would laugh at something so charmingly southern. Adaar could easily hear his father’s quiet chuckle and in his soft voice that made Qunlat sound gentle, kindly admonish, “Leave it to southerners to complicate something as simple as love with marriage.” Bull had laughed along with Dad and Tama at that line with an understanding that Tal-Vashoth shared amongst themselves.
A sweet ache of longing spread through Adaar’s chest while looking down at a photo of Dorian and Felix standing at the altar with their hands joined together
Adaar chose some of his favorite to put up immediately and he placed the photographs around the room with care. He took down some of the dust covered frames on the wall and the standing frames scattered on tables and shelves, replacing them with his curated selection from Dorian’s box. All of Dorian’s photos of the three of them ended up somewhere and more than a few of him with Felix made their way onto prime real estate on the walls.
“Don’t you dare take down the picture from the Orlesian Dragon Reserve!” Bull warned with real urgency as Adaar’s gaze stopped on the framed photo of an overly excited Iron Bull cradling a baby dragon at the Orlesian facility.
The fond memory of Bull’s delight over their visit to the reserve from years ago filled Adaar’s mind. As a graduate student, Adaar had saved his money from his stipend from his teaching assistant job for months, planned every detail of the trip, and it was all worth it to see the silent awe on Bull’s face before the other Qunari broke out in childlike laughter. He made an idle mental note to plan another visit to the dragon reserve with Dorian in tow.
A smile spread across Adaar’s face, “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good. Now, take a break, Adaar,” Bull urged. “We’ll all work on unpacking tomorrow. Besides, I’m sure if Dorian was awake, he’d have opinions about where you’re putting everything.” He motioned to Dorian’s face with was squished against Bull’s leg and slacken with sleep.
Not wanting to wake Dorian up, Adaar nodded. “Ok, yeah, you’re probably right.” Adaar paused, then asked quietly, “Did something happen earlier? Before lunch?”
Bull’s fingers flexed in Dorian’s hair and he shook his head slightly. “Just got a little emotional, that’s all. He needed a moment.”
Adaar let out a small sigh, guilt churning in his stomach for a brief moment. “I should’ve been watching out for that.”
“You were, I noticed the way you’ve been watching him,” Bull reassured. “It came on pretty sudden, but don’t worry about it. You know he’s happy to be here.”
Going over to the couch, Adaar leaned down to steal a kiss from Bull. Rough lips met his own, lingering for a few precious moments, communicating both affection and gratitude. Adaar was glad that Bull was there for Dorian earlier and Bull was grateful for Adaar’s own diligence. Even after breaking away, their faces hovered close together, foreheads pressed upon each other and horns clinked before Adaar finally straightened up and stepped away.
Adaar sat down over in the armchair, sinking pleasantly into the cushions and aches from that morning decided to make themselves known. When Adaar was in motion, he had lots of energy, but settling down made him realize just how tired he was. Glancing at the TV, he was dismayed to see that the football game was only half over and he decided to close his eyes for just a moment.
Opening his eyes again, Adaar saw that the daylight streaming in the room was considerably dimmer and that a new football game was on. Stretching with a yawn, Adaar got up from the armchair and glanced over at Dorian, who was still napping, and Bull, whose eye was closed and deep, even breaths nearly eclipsed the sound of the football game.
Reaching for the remote control under Bull’s hand to turn off the TV, he elicited a half grunt and half mumble from Bull.
“I’m watching that,” a grumpy protest came.
Bull’s single eye was still closed.
“Ok, ok,” Adaar laughed, pressing a kiss on Bull’s forehead before wandering upstairs to his office. Even in the summer, there was work to be done and he was expecting an email from one of his graduate students.
The office was Adaar’s own quiet space since Bull hardly used his desk, usually opting to work in the living room on his laptop with papers spread out everywhere. Much of the decor, books, and piles were all Adaar’s, carving out his own scholarly sanctuary. Though Adaar imagined that Dorian would want to use the space now, not that he minded sharing.
Sitting down at the computer, Adaar opened up his email. The flood of panicked emails from his students at the end of the academic year had ceased with the first days of summer. There were only a few stragglers who were still trying to change their grades and those who were looking ahead to the start of summer classes. He read through them, answering each with his usual attention.
The anticipated email from his graduate student looking to defend her dissertation wasn’t there, though Adaar didn’t doubt that it would appear soon. But there was another email that caught his eye and a jolt of surprise raced through him.
Adaar struggled to remember the last time he had heard directly from Evelyn Trevelyan. They were friendly on social media and she was on their list of recipients of Wintersend cards, but Adaar couldn’t think of when they last spoke.
It would be easy to ignore the email, to say that he missed it, that he was too busy with work and his personal life. He’d never have to know what she wanted from him. But in the end, curiosity won out and he clicked on the message.
The email was surprisingly, and mercifully, brief.
I hope everything is well with you and Bull. Everything’s the same in Ostwick, as you can imagine. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to be in Skyhold in a few weeks to do some research for my next book. I was hoping we could get a cup of coffee or lunch and catch up. Let me know if you’re available, I’d love to see Bull if he’s willing to see me.
Adaar’s throat unexpectedly tightened. Her words, devoid of their usual teasing and flirting, were stark and to the point, and they had an unusual affect upon him.
if he’s willing to see me
Time had put distance between them, but an old hurt still stung Adaar, leaving him to wonder why he kept up the association. It seemed like the right thing to do, he supposed, and Bull seemed to carry on well after the fact as did she. Perhaps it was Adaar who was too sensitive.
“What’s wrong, amatus?”
Adaar startled at the soft voice reaching his ears and he jerked his head from the computer screen to see Dorian standing in the doorway of the office. His gaze was fixed on Adaar’s face as he made his approach, moving slowly as if afraid of startling Adaar further. Silver eyes darted quickly to the computer screen before settling again on Adaar.
“I didn’t see you there, kadan,” Adaar started, his frowning deepening for a moment before it eased off of his lips. Closing out his email, Adaar swiveled his desk chair towards Dorian, “It’s nothing really. Just got an email from an ex of mine, she’s coming into town and wants to meet up.”
“Oh really?” Curiosity lit up within Dorian, his lips spreading into a teasing grin before it faded with concern. “And is that a bad thing? Did you part on poor terms?”
“No, not exactly,” Adaar’s big hand ran down his face. “Well, honestly, I don’t know. We keep in touch through social media, which is fine and all, but I haven’t seen her in years and I’m not entirely sure if I want to. It’s one thing to see someone’s vacation photos from Antiva and entirely another to see her face to face.”
“If you want permission not to see your ex-girlfriend, then I will gladly grace you with it,” Dorian replied flippantly, though his face was slightly pinched with worry.
It felt good to have someone outside of the situation, someone without the baggage Adaar and Bull had over the matter. Dorian’s offer made Adaar chuckle, causing the stress in his body to loosen.
Closing the distance between them and straddling Adaar’s lap, Dorian pressed his forehead against Adaar’s as his fingers gripped the base of his horns. Adaar could barely suppress his moan at the feel of fingertips pressing against the sensitive skin near his horns and the familiar weight upon his body.
“Adaar, my love, do not go see that woman, it’ll make me wildly jealous. In fact, I’m rather jealous that you’re thinking of her at all, now that you have me permanently here.”
A real smile formed across Adaar’s face as his hands gripped Dorian’s hips and his heart fluttered at Dorian’s declaration.
“Say that again.”
“That I’m wildly jealous?” Dorian raised an eyebrow, his body leaning slightly away. “Didn’t think you’d be into that, but to each their own, I suppose.”
“No, that last bit.”
Catching his meaning, Dorian returned Adaar’s smile. “That I’m here permanently?”
“Yeah, I like hearing you say that.”
“Well, it’s the truth, amatus. Now that you’ve let me move in, you’ll never be rid of me. I’m here, permanently.”
His hands at Dorian’s hips tightened their grip as he pulled the other man closer. “Good.”
“Well, now I know a new way to talk dirty to you,” Dorian’s grin became sharper, hungrier. “I’m here, amatus, forever.”
A small shiver of pleasure worked its way up Adaar’s spine. He liked the way it sounded.
It wasn’t often when Kaaras felt small, but now was one of those rare moments.
Lumbering out of the dense Seheron jungle, came one of the tallest Qunari with the widest set of horns that Kaaras had ever seen. This, as his professor told him, was the head of the security team, tasked with keeping the expedition safe. Looking at him, Kaaras could hardly imagine who else the man could’ve been.
While he couldn’t have been too much older than Kaaras, he’d obviously led an eventful and rough life. Dressed in only dark pants and a leather harness, Kaaras’s eyes were free to roam much of the man’s body. Scars, both large and small, marked grey skin, an obsidian black eyepatch covered one eye, and his well sculpted chest and abs left Kaaras’s mouth dry.
And despite the confusion that outsiders usually had, Vashoth could almost always tell the difference between one of their kind, a real Qunari, and a Tal-Vashoth. Kaaras thought that he was rather apt at it.
Every inch of the man screamed Tal-Vashoth to him.
His one pale blue eye swept the camp and its occupants, before giving an approving nod to the young Tevinter man who had previously given them an overview of all of the safety protocols. He then moved onto reacquaint himself with the professor and her research assistant, and then started introducing himself to the students. The Tal-Vashoth chose Kaaras first.
His voice was clear and professional, yet also friendly and evaluating. “I’m the Iron Bull.”
The Tal-Vashoth held out his hand, and swallowing down the lump in his throat, Kaaras instantly wanted to make a good impression upon this Tal-Vashoth. Kaaras had nothing to prove, nothing to this Tal-Vashoth or the other students on expedition. But he wanted to say something that would garner him some respect from the Tal-Vashoth.
And what came out was:
“Uh, yeah, you are.”