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It would be easier for Fenris to move on from his hatred if he knew everything he had to let go of.

Little wolf, living life from day to day -- he knows that he can't spend forever like this, with no plans for the future and no sense of permanency, yet his own lack of urgency hamstrings him. Without his past, his present is disconnected. He prowls the streets of Kirkwall, and each night is a fresh night, renewed with the dipping of the sun.

He'd heard the apostate go on and on about how there was no sense of time for demons -- Fenris had listened, he was good at listening -- and that they didn't experience it the same way in the Fade, which is a sickening similarity. Demons don't feel time passing. Fenris doesn't feel time passing. He's waiting, waiting, knowing that at some point, he'll have to pick a direction for himself and finally move.

But it seems that whenever Fenris turns around, there's a new surprise rising to meet him. Familiarity seeps like dust from things that he's never done before, but that his body remembers. Memories hide in the most innocent of places, inside tiny flecks of stimuli: the powdered sugar of a cake, the light reflected off a bright cerulean vase, the slickness of water on an iron pan. He found himself pausing once while lacing up his bracers with fresh leathers, inhaling the smell of nughide, feeling the pull of braided sinews on his fingers. It gave him an unpleasant lurch in his chest, one that made it nearly impossible to finish putting on his armor, but he managed. He doesn't know why he dislikes what he does, or craves the taste of particular foods. He doesn't understand some of his own fears. He's a stranger in his own life.

Other times, the impressions are like fresh blisters rising to the skin, ripe enough to leak pus without being lanced. Whenever he touches the spongy fat on a hank of stew meat, Fenris feels his breath choke in his throat. Terror races through his veins, turns the lyrium hot and his stomach cold. The fat is springy between his fingers. He can't stop toying with it. He remembers hearing someone screaming, a long time ago. He doesn't know if it was him.

It frightens him, when these moments come. He has to keep his instincts primed at all times so he can defend against them. Fenris has so little left in his mind; he can count and recount the memories like blades in an armory rack. There aren't enough to use as a shield in case he recalls something bad. Other people would be able to rationalize their past away, armed with good experiences to soften remembered sins. Fenris is as vulnerable as a child.

Each time there's a flash of something that leaves him shuddering, it also leaves him wondering: is it worth trying to find the answers, if remembering them only opens up the inability to forgive? If what he learns keeps him from ever having peace, is the knowledge something he'd regret?

Fenris's world begins and ends with slavery. Even his new life is defined purely in reflection of what he's been through. What he is now. It's all revolving around a single point, a single chain that keeps him locked down as easily as any length of iron.

No. That's not entirely true, he thinks, running his finger through a thick layer of dust on a bookshelf. There are people in his life now, as strange as that is. There are new elements. Any one of them might be the key out.

In Tevinter, Fenris hadn't had friends. He had been a slave, and slaves had either allies or enemies, with nothing in-between save their masters, who ruled with lethal whims. Having a fondness for someone else was a failing for a slave, but sometimes it could be the only thing keeping them alive; in the inner hierarchy of alliances, having someone being willing to help out a chore could mean all the difference between a beating and the appeasement of one's master. A lone slave inevitably perished. Even Danarius's pet bodyguard wasn't immune from pack laws.

But in Kirkwall, Fenris finds himself pulled back to people, attracted to the small circle that Hawke creates. Though he likes living on the outskirts, he doesn't mind the company. He tells himself it's not from wanting something as transient as acceptance. Fenris has enough self-confidence that someone else's contempt doesn't hurt his feelings; if another person's opinion of him mattered, Fenris never would have had the strength to break free in the first place. Despite that, he likes other people well enough. He likes Kirkwall enough, had liked the Fog Warriors, likes even Isabela's awful horrible beer that she keeps claiming he'll enjoy if he only drinks enough of it. He likes the way Varric switches around stories while playing cards. Fenris doesn't need a master. He doesn't want to be the center of attention. He simply needs -- something.

And really, he figures: how pathetic is that?

The Fog Warriors had taught Fenris that it was safe to be friends with others for the joy of it, and not from seeking an advantage. He wonders sometimes if they had guessed what would happen; how could they not? It had been inevitable that Fenris's master would return someday. They must have known. They had known, and were still willing to keep him. He had not been a lone stray then.

This is how Fenris knows that Danarius will not simply leave him be. It does not matter if it takes three years or thirty. If Danarius does not come, then that means that the Fog Warriors did not have to die, and that Fenris killed them all simply as the result of bad luck. And bad luck is the effective summary of all his time in Tevinter, but Fenris cannot stay sane while thinking that if he had only gone somewhere else first -- if Danarius had been just a little more distracted -- then he would still be back in Seheron with them, even now.

Kirkwall has no Fog Warriors. Kirkwall has, instead, a number of mages and a number of templars, and no Danarius. It has several half-decent taverns and smithies, and an alienage that Fenris likes to ignore. It has all of these things -- but most importantly, it has Hawke, who has gathered a small gang of violently-inclined misfits willing to tag along to the Deep Roads themselves. Not Fog Warriors, but they suffice.

When Fenris is in need, he hunts in Lowtown. Sometimes there is little prey. Sometimes there are slavers on the docks. He tries to avoid Darktown; the Ferelden there are desperate enough and sometimes drunk enough to try and pry the lyrium out of his skin, and he doesn't like having to explain the results to Hawke's all-too-knowing stare.

Slavers are a good day for him. Fenris likes killing them best. When they're too heavily guarded, he picks off muggers in Lowtown instead, working his way up and down the streets while thinking about what to eat for dinner. Varric is considerate enough to send regular groceries, but Fenris knows not to allow himself to become beholden to anyone, whether human, elf or dwarf.

His typical quarry is easy enough to dispatch. The hard part is avoiding the guard patrols. There are a few appropriate places to hold an ambush, if they're not already staked out by other predators. When Fenris strikes, he closes himself into that place of quiet, of non-thought, where he holds no opinions and no sense of time. Calm and patient, he kills them one by one, going from target to target as if they were little more than a spot on the floor for him to make clean. When there's nothing left moving, he checks the bodies to make sure of their deaths, and then searches their pockets with placid efficiency.

His home is equally peaceful. The mansion has had time to grow an army of vermin, attracted to the dry, warm spaces afforded by half a roof and a fire. Pests have smuggled themselves in through the decay. Fenris squashes the occasional spider, but generally he allows them to breed. Property values in his little corner of Kirkwall must be plummeting by the day.

As a bodyguard, Fenris did not have to handle menial chores, but he has no shame about them either. He knows how to keep himself and his armor tidy; he can empty his own chamberpot. Too, he knows how to prowl the rooms to make them into familiar spaces, so that he can walk them in the dark and gain the advantage against any intruders. Night after night, he learns the territory and makes it his, all the better to ward away any miscreants who might try to move in and use it for their own base of operations.

This is the extent of his forethought. This is the extent of his planning, where he does not even bother to lay out traps in case of serious intrusion. It would be wise of him to do so, but Fenris knows how to run more than he knows how to stay in one place and defend it. Of his options, Fenris excels at how to attack, and also how to flee.

But at times, the estate grows tiresome, and feel more like a cage than a refuge. Even tracking prey becomes wearying. Sometimes, Fenris finds himself outside Hawke's estate, crouched like a solemn statue, guarding someone who never asked to be protected.

The summer evenings turn. Fenris kills an entire strain of mercenaries that had camped in one of the crannies of Darktown, cleaning out their hideout with each successive night, inwardly fascinated by how they keep creeping back into their den like sludge that refuses to be rinsed clean from a pot. Eventually, even the stupidest member has either fled, or died; the den stays empty for three nights running, and Fenris's sense of pity wins out over his curiosity for their lack of self-preservation.

He leaves the door to their lair swinging open, and heads back to Hightown.

Hawke is home. The lamps are lit, and the curtains are loose, half-down and half-revealing, like the sheets of a sleepy whore who doesn't care how much flesh she shows. Anders is there as well. Fenris can recognize the mage's silhouette in the window, all passionate gestures and papers in his hands. Arguing for magedom again, no doubt. Anders lacks surprises.

Fenris hesitates, for more reasons than one. He knows he would be invited if he wanted to knock. He pulls back, however, drifting into the shadows with just a few steps. Dimness blankets his armor. He waits.

After a while, Anders's figure disappears from the windows; the door opens, and Hawke's voice drifts out, bidding Anders a safe night. Surprisingly, the mage skips the shortcut through the Red Lantern District, heading instead for the long route past the Chantry -- and right past Fenris's hiding spot.

Fenris slides further into the darkness. The pillars of the canopy above him grant him some cover, but he's painfully aware of just how attractive his lyrium can be to a stray moonbeam. Luck is on his side; the mage chooses the other sidestreet to wander towards, and Fenris exhales slowly. A confrontation would sour his Darktown victory.

At the last minute, Anders stops.

Automatically, Fenris goes still. He doesn't know if Justice senses him -- if Justice can sense him, or if Anders is capable of some other twisted abomination-gifted power -- but when the mage turns, it's Hawke's house that he looks towards. The lids of his eyes slide low, half-closed in what looks dangerously like satisfaction.

Fenris feels something in his blood hum dangerously. He would like nothing better than to burst free from cover and fling Anders away by force -- to evict the mage from the territory, to mark the Hightown streets as his own. Instead, Fenris holds his temper through breath after trembling breath, until Anders finally turns and leaves.

Hawke's windows remain bright. Fenris skips visiting Lowtown that night. He leaves the docks unhaunted. He spends the rest of the night watching the estate instead, until Bodahn draws the curtains all the way shut, and closes Fenris out.

Like it or not, Fenris finds his travel routes narrowing down. Lowtown is too long a trip. Darktown takes too much time. His feet bring him back to Hightown, prowling the streets like a desperate watchman. It's poor taste; he shouldn't hunt so close to his own lair, but it's not his own home that attracts him. Over and over, he finds himself near the former Amell estate. It's not unexpected -- he and Hawke are practically neighbors -- but Hawke lives depressingly close to the Viscount's Keep, not to mention the Chantry. It's dangerous. Too dangerous.

The nights march onwards. Hawke's candles burn long. Anders argues endlessly. Fenris keeps returning to watch them. He could walk the path around Hawke's domain with his eyes closed at this rate. He could walk it backwards. It still wouldn't claim it as his own.

It takes three days before the guard patrols start to coincide with his intentions. Fenris does not know why Anders keeps choosing to cross the Chantry's shadow -- save to glare at it in passing, picking at old grudges like a weeping scab. The discrepancy is something Fenris ends up planning for. He watches the calendar. The next night, Anders exits when the moon is still high; the nearest clocks show a proximity to midnight, and the air is pleasantly cool. The evening might be almost enjoyable, were it not for the company.

Fenris waits until Anders has passed near the canopy before he speaks.

"I dislike how much time you spend around Hawke," he says, bluntly. In his intentions, at least, he has nothing to hide.

The mage pulls himself to a halt, wedging the end of his staff against the ground. He makes a fine show of pretending not to be startled, but Fenris can see the way that his eyes jump, roving over the scenery before they finally pick out Fenris from the background.

"Me?" he laughs. "Don't think I haven't seen you sulking around here either." He makes a sniff, reaching up to tug at the feathers on his shoulders, fussing at them to lie straight. "You're as bad as Hawke's blasted mabari, drooling all over everything. This is why I'm a cat person." Satisfied with the left side, Anders swaps to the right. "I wonder if I could convince Hawke to at least keep a bird instead. You think there'd be some affinity there, all things considered."

"Cats are selfish beasts." Fenris does not miss the game of words, any more than he misses the jabs at his own name. "They run and hide when they are frightened. They will not guard you. They will not fight for you. They will only take what they want, and then vanish right when you count on them."

The skin of Anders's cheeks flushes, dusky in the torchlight. "Cats love," he snaps. "Dogs follow brainlessly. Dogs simply wallow for their master's affection, and do anything for a pat on the head. Dogs bark and frighten away birds because they're too stupid to appreciate them."

"And cats eat birds," Fenris growls back.

He realizes his mistake mere seconds too late; the innuendo is ripe for the picking. Anders seizes it instantly. "And here I thought you had no interest in my sexual proclivities," he leers, smugness flooding his voice. "Why don't I go back right now, and let Hawke know just what's on your mind -- "

Fenris breaks free from the shadows of the canopy pillars; he's across the street in a flash, crossing the pavement and seizing Anders by the front of his coat. The overjacket's chain tangles in the claws of his gloves, threatening to snap. As an afterthought, he plucks Anders's staff away, faster than the mage can protest. "Your wishful dreaming is a poor excuse for provocation," he snarls. "Keep your fantasies in a place they can be managed, or I will manage them for you."

Anders doesn't shriek. He doesn't look anything more than proudly self-satisfied, even when Fenris tightens his grip on his shirt. "Then tell me -- what did you think you'd be getting when you snuck up on me? Thought I'd pat you on the head and tell you what a fine job you're doing, stalking Hawke's house like a jilted lover? Don't you think I haven't seen you being a good little dog? Will you roll over and show your belly now? I'm sure you're quite skilled at demonstrating obedience!"

Fury is Fenris's first response. It darkens his vision so quickly that an alarm screams inside his head, warning him not to be baited; he barely hears it, dragging Anders bodily towards the concealing darkness of the stone canopy. Only when he has thrown the mage against the nearest pillar does he regain his wits. He hunches his shoulders, then lets them go slack. The rhythm of his own heart returns him to the present.

"You're in a particularly self-hating mood tonight," he observes carefully aloud. "Why?"

A hint of displeasure reveals itself on Anders's face, tightening his eyes. "Aren't you afraid that Justice will have something to say about the way you're mistreating me?"

Wary now, Fenris takes a minute to evaluate the way Anders has dodged his question, met it with a different direction of attack. This is new, and Fenris does not like it. The mage's behavior sets his hair on edge. He switches tactics, lets his senses do the work, drinking in his surroundings and labeling them with varying degrees of threat. His lungs shift, alternating between short, whuffing inhalations and the deeper breaths that let him taste the air in the back of his throat. The smell of crushed ivy wafts upwards; there is fresh sap on Anders's collar. Braziers crackle nearby, giving off tiny pops of sparks. Time does not matter. Any passersby will think them to be spillovers from the Blooming Rose.

Under his scrutinizing gaze, the mage appears skittish. Nervous, but not for a reason that Fenris understands. Rabid, yes. Suicidal, yes. Not immediately murderous. Not channeling a demon. Yet.

Satisfied for the time being that Anders's skin is not about to crack open in blue veins of light, Fenris relaxes. "I am no templar. I care not for the freedom of mages -- or their lack. I simply hate them." This close, Fenris can smell Anders's sweat mixed with the cloying musk of Darktown dirt. "But I am still no templar. And if your 'Justice' makes an exception to that and kills me, it will prove that you are little more than an abomination. Out of control, and dangerous."

"And I'm to believe the man who attacked me first? What, is this all a simple misunderstanding, and you were planning on asking me to join you for drinks at the Hanged Man instead?"

Fenris stares at Anders, incredulous; then he gives a harsh, barking laugh. "Don't think you know how to predict me," he taunts. Unable to resist pressuring the mage further, he leans in, turning his mouth at the last second so that he slides past Anders's cheek and brushes the curve of the other man's earlobe. "I would tear our your throat with my teeth, elf or wolf," he promises softly, "but your blood would surely poison me."

"Oh?" The question is insolent enough to be a threat. Anders takes a step to the side; Fenris snaps out a hand, pinning the mage between stone and Fenris's palm. The only retaliation from Anders is an experimental push against him -- yet, when Fenris leans hard enough to grind the man's shoulder against the pillar, the mage relaxes, choosing not to struggle. He resists with words instead, bitter whispers that carry on the breeze. "I think we both know all about self-destructive impulses. Don't we?"

Fenris holds position for another few heartbeats, enough to show that he will not be taunted again. Then he straightens up. "I have no intention to act the same as a templar," he repeats. "Nor will I allow myself to be manipulated, simply so that you can have your little demon come out and slaughter me. And if I can't trust you like that, how can you trust yourself around Hawke?"

It is the reminder of Hawke that triggers a reaction -- Fenris should have known how Anders would react to that, a raw nerve taken out and plucked. Any lingering playfulness vanishes from the mage's face. His tongue is venomous. "Are you saying you can control yourself better than I can?"

"You're the one walking about past midnight, tempting friendly neighborhood elves like me to gut you."

Anders does not answer immediately; nor does Fenris let him go. Restless, the mage squirms his shoulders. Feathers tickle Fenris's skin. "Justice would prefer that I distract myself from chasing... personal interests," the mage confesses at last. "And you're certainly a distraction. At least I'm not troubled where you're concerned. There's no illusion about your feelings for me -- you would kill me if you could."

Fenris's answer is to remain silent. Anders makes another futile, frustrated, half-aborted twitch of his muscles. Then he tilts his head back, chin to the side, so that he's glaring at Fenris down the bridge of his nose. The motion bares his throat. It stretches the lines of his neck, exposing the skin. The act is an open challenge, pure and primal and blatant. Fenris can understand the lure, even as his instincts goad him to respond.

Adrenaline quickens his nerves, eager to triumph in the game of dominance. Anders starts to twist; Fenris braces his arm crosswise over the mage's chest, fist balled. It's tempting to slide his forearm up further, to crush the man's windpipe -- but Fenris refrains. Instead, he pushes upwards against Anders's sternum, forcing Anders to rise to his toes, stripping the man of potential leverage.

"Just looking at you invites pity," Fenris murmurs aloud at last, turning the situation around in his head, looking for whatever possible angles the mage is trying to hide under flippant words. Loathing, he can understand. Self-loathing, even more. But he will not be used as a patsy, and he cannot even start to fathom the full nature of Anders's intentions. He presses his weight harder against the other man, using his entire body contemptuously, as if to demonstrate how much space he can claim simply by forcing Anders out of it. "Tell me, why should I dirty myself by even speaking with you?"

"Because you think I am filthy," Anders hisses, all anger and affronted pride. "So it doesn't matter what you do to me. Not like someone you respect."

The mage's indignation is no less scathing for being true. Fenris ignores it. "And if I let you go? What will you do now that you've been turned out for the night? Go back to your little hovel in Darktown, touch yourself, and cry Hawke's name?" He ducks his head forward again, close to the mage's ear, false intimacy carried on hot breath. "Calling, Hawke, Hawke, Hawke -- "

"That's enough!" Anders sputters. Blood rises again in his cheeks. His shoulders spasm in a belated flinch, a motion that he can't manage to conceal. His breathing has gone shallow. He struggles again, this time for real, and Fenris can see that the man's composure has finally broken. There's no mistaking how deeply those words hit home.

Fenris eases his weight away from the mage, but his own nerves refuse to relax. Hawke's name lingers in his mouth, batting like a frantic moth against his teeth. Now that he's said it, he can't stop remembering how it sounded, how it tasted, how it felt moaned in desperation on his tongue. Hawke's name leaves him wanting to say it again. His body doesn't care how much it would resemble begging -- it's enamored by the sound, caught up a sudden rush of surrender and lust so deeply intertwined that it might have been that one caused the other. A submission to desire. Desiring to submit. Anders here, underneath his hands, flushed and ready, yearning for something out of his reach.

Even as Fenris fights against the tide that Hawke's name has summoned in him, he cannot ignore the other image that Anders has evoked: that of this mage, despoiled and panting in the street. Wanting. Anders, stripped of his self-righteousness, rutting as frantically as a beast. Despite all the mage's irresponsible abilities, to be undone by something as simple as base passion -- yes.

The platelets on Fenris's fingers snag on Anders's clothes. Just out of malice, he thinks about leaving them on, in case they might rip something, flesh or fabric -- but practicality wins out. He spares the time to slide his fingers out of the loops of his gloves; the last thing he needs is to phase through them for expediency and have Justice misinterpret the display of power. His exposed skin seems paler against the night for contrast. The torchlight stipples him with pox-prick shadows, like the camouflage of an animal in cover.

Anders stumbles when Fenris flips him around, steering him by the shoulder -- but he doesn't fight, not even when Fenris runs a hand experimentally down the mage's spine, exerting the utmost gentleness before grabbing a fold of jacket in a fist and yanking it up.

It's unexpectedly intoxicating to have someone under his power. Anders's jacket splits open along the front, pinched by the broad belt, secured by ring and peg. Fenris works his thumb under the band until he can feel the cinching pop. The belt uncoils. The weight of heavy pouches drags the leather down. Opening Anders's breeches take more effort; Fenris struggles with the lacings, silently cursing the stubbornness of the inanimate. He does not want to dispel the illusion of control by needing Anders to help him. And the mage is so willing to be pliable: when Fenris nudges a little too firmly against the mage's hip, Anders adjusts his legs, planting his heels to either side in a practiced allocation of weight. Both hands go braced against the pillar. This is not the first time the mage has done this, clearly.

The fact is of little comfort to Fenris, for whom everything became a first halfway through his life. Just as he works through the rest of Anders's clothing, he can't fight the sudden paranoia that this entire act might be more familiar than he might think. He might have always enjoyed pinning someone against a wall, watching their breeches slide clumsily around their ankles, studying the way that the muscles in their arms tensed while anticipating each touch.

But Anders prompts him by bending forward, pushing back, so that Fenris's hips are cradled against the mage. Anders fits him like a saddle. Without meaning to, Fenris leans into the warmth.

His hands know what to do. Anders's do too, bracing against the wall, his fingertips crooking even as his head drops. The bare skin of Anders's neck shows in a narrow line over his high collar, tantalizingly chaste. Fenris grabs the mage's feathered shoulder, pulling the jacket down until it exposes the knobs of the man's spine. His other hand finds Anders already hard. He spits in his palm to slick it, and Anders jerks forward into Fenris's damp fingers, as if he wants to be stroked so badly that he cannot wait to be touched.

Fenris wraps his hand slowly closed, letting the mage set the pace with the first few, frantic thrusts. For all the mage's eagerness, he doesn't break contact with Fenris's body; his spine arches up, pressing against Fenris with every inch that he can manage without losing stimulation. The angle is awkward; Anders is taller, with a human's broader proportions, and the change in position throws Fenris's center of balance off. He shifts, wrapping his free arm around Anders's chest, using him as an anchor. His feet rub against the other man's boots. Their ankles intertwine.

Establishing a steady rhythm is hard without losing his balance. Fenris closes his eyes to try and concentrate, giving up and allowing his weight to settle on the other man. He rocks with each thrust. Their shared motions overpower his thoughts, until it's not Anders anymore that he's touching, it's not a mage, it's simply another person held tight against him, someone that Fenris can be with and not fear. And Fenris thinks -- he thinks about nothing, time dropping away from him, replaced by the raw, simple language of physical bodies without names. He doesn't need to think. He only needs the connection.

Anders bucks against his hand. Fenris's own hips jerk in response. Instinct rubs him up against the other man as he imagines the tight heat of another person around him, taking him in. He's so close to feeling someone else's skin pressed against his own, so close that he can almost envision it completely. Anders's breathing is fast; he stiffens with a sudden, anguished cry, jetting hot spurts over Fenris's fingers, but Fenris doesn't care to stop yet. He slides his hand down again and again, smearing fluids across Anders's flesh, Anders's thighs, feeling the other man tremble in overstimulation. The crest of his own arousal thunders towards him, and Fenris jerks his head up, gasping for breath, seeing Hawke's windows shine like patient stars --

Clarity slams into him like a smithy hammer. Fenris pulls himself away, bringing up an elbow in blind reflex for Anders's head, not caring if the demon manifests or not -- but the mage stumbles back as well, and Fenris's strike catches air. The next swing doesn't miss, but it's weaker, downgraded by distance, and only slams Anders back into the pillar. The mage's boots catch against the pillar's base, causing him to fumble with a clatter of coat buckles against stone. He twists around. A pained noise leaks from his throat, but his expression is at odds with the sound. When Anders finally regains his footing, propping himself against the pillar for support, he's wearing the smug, creamy smile of someone who got exactly what they were planning on -- good and bad -- and he doesn't bother to hide it.

He wanted you to do this, Fenris realizes. Anders, despite his own helplessness, had still possessed enough cunning to get what he wanted -- down to the very last drop of self-punishment. He wanted a distraction. And I --

I did as well.

Fenris's first instinct is to hunch over, to cup his hands to him as if he had plunged them into boiling water with nothing for a cooling salve. He feels nauseated by Anders's proximity. All his body remembers is how much it hurts to be touched, even as Fenris knows it's only an illusion brought on from his past, mingling with momentary pleasure. But the memory turns every inch of him sensitive: his armor presses down on him, the fibers of his undershirt scrape him raw, and his lyrium feels like fresh acid on his skin.

He shakes the worst of the fluids off his hand with a few flicks, leaving the gloves hanging; the smell of Anders is all over his skin, and Fenris does not want to get it soaked into his armor. He would not be able to tolerate the odor of the man lingering behind longer than a hot bath and soap would be able to fix. Humiliating Anders had been worth it. There is no need to drag himself down any further.

"I suppose I owe you something for that." Anders's voice is almost back to its normal arrogance, but there's an unsteadiness that betrays the pace that Fenris rode him through. His clothes are skewed; his belt is in coils around his feet. "Though I didn't expect you to enjoy it half so much."

Fenris works his face into a sneer. Regardless of his own physical responses, he had been the dominant one. He had put Anders in his place. He had been the one to watch someone else spill themselves all over the street. "Enjoy?" he mocks. "I felt nothing."

Not waiting to hear another snide comment from the mage, Fenris turns on his heel. He knows the streets well enough to escape. His mouth is dry; his muscles are weak.

As soon as he is safely concealed, he rests his forehead against the nearest wall, and tries hard to forget the lie.