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The Better Part of Valor

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The fire is burning low, and Trevelyan and Cole have both retreated to their tents. The whisper of sand on sand is a constant irritant, like the sand that has worked its way insidiously into Dorian’s boots. He’s contemplating whether it’s better to try to sleep with the boots on, or to take them off and debate ownership of them in the morning with whatever’s crawled into them during the night.

“You’ve got to love the Hissing Wastes,” Iron Bull says, poking at the embers with a piece of kindling wood.

“Do I, really?” He’ll grant that it’s not unbearably damp. Instead, it’s unbearably dry, sweltering in the daytime and startlingly cold at night. He would still call it a definite improvement over most of their excursions, under other circumstances.

But if they were camped in some rainy forest or icy wilderness, it would be possible to slip out of the circle of firelight and find concealing shadows. They’ve been to bed in Skyhold a number of times, as well as locations reasonably adjacent to a bed. At the moment, he would dispense with a bed and experiment boldly with the unfamiliar venture of fucking in the woods, if only they had some woods. He can’t believe he’s reduced to having sexual fantasies about being pressed up against an actual tree, those rough and yet somehow careful hands all over him—

“It’s a good thing Cole’s not awake,” Bull says.

Dorian makes an effort to sprawl even more attractively, because if one of them is going to be frustrated, he’s determined that they’re both going to be. It’s an art, the way he stretches out one leg, the way he shifts one shoulder back. “Because you are so modest about your personal affairs.”

“Because you are,” Bull says.

“I’m offended that you believe I’m ever modest,” Dorian says, lifting his chin. If it makes something twist unpleasantly in his chest to know that their friends know, it would be worse to believe that they believe that he cares that they know.

That sounds overcomplicated even in his head. He’d very much like to be fucking rather than thinking this much, or drinking something stronger than watered wine.

“Fine, you’re not modest,” Bull says, and rests his hand on Dorian’s thigh. Dorian manages by dint of what he considers a heroic effort not to arch into the touch.

“There is literally nowhere out of sight of this camp to go,” he points out. “Unless your idea is to hike all the way back over the ridge with the varghests.” He’s not sure that even his current state of intense interest will survive more hiking and more varghests.

It doesn’t matter, of course. There are always more chances to have sex. There are probably even more chances for the two of them to have sex, back in Skyhold or in some more convenient kind of wilderness where bare expanses of sand don’t stretch to the horizon. Until there aren’t, of course, because everything ends eventually, in the shocking spray of blood or a coldly turned shoulder or the mutual return of better judgment—

“Are you cold?”

The sand is still warm under his feet, but the constant hissing wind cuts to the bone. “I could build up the fire.” They’re trying to conserve, though, every stick having to be hauled with them unless they’d like to try to make sand burn.

“Thought you might want to share,” Bull says, and gestures with his great horned head in the direction of his tent.

They do, of course, have tents. He hadn’t considered them, because that won’t be a bit discreet. They’ve shared a tent now and then in the past, when there weren’t enough tents, or when camping in an actual icy wilderness made sharing body heat a necessity. Doing it here, hard on the heels of the revelation that they’re doing—whatever they’re doing—suggests that whatever they’re doing is, in fact, what they are doing.

“Up to you,” Bull says, and Dorian thinks it is up to him. There’s no demand in Bull’s voice, just a maddening amount of patience.

He leans his head back as if considering. “I suppose you’re preferable to the varghests.”

“Flatterer.”

Stretched out in Bull’s tent, his back against Bull’s broad chest, it’s warmer.

Bull wraps an arm around him and kneads his thigh. “Can you be quiet?”

He can be absolutely quiet, and for much higher stakes. “Have no fear. Can you?”

“No one ever believes it, but, yes,” Bull says. He pulls Dorian back against him and spreads his thighs with broad firm hands before he begins working Dorian’s breeches open. “You can yell next time, to make up for it,” he says against Dorian’s ear.

“I'll do no such thing,” he lies, and leans his head back against Bull’s chest, soaking up the heat.