Samson doesn't hear the boom of the horn signaling her arrival from where he is down in the Undercroft with Dagna poking at him, doesn't know she's back, doesn't know she'd even left until the door clangs open and two Inquisition soldiers, a man and a woman, come in.
"The Herald's returned. She wants to see him," one tells Dagna, pointedly refusing to look at Samson.
The arcanist looks up from her notes and frowns, but agrees to let the guards take him. They march him through the main hall, past the stares and loud whispers, and into the bright day. He blinks against the light, trying to adjust to it. It's harsher than the torchlight that burns down in the Undercroft or the dungeons. They walk him across the courtyard between them and into Cullen's office. The Knight-Captain- no, it's Commander now- is leaning over his maps and books and messages and battle plans, bracing himself against his desk with both hands. The Inquisitor stands across from him, arms crossed, in her armor. Commanding is the first word that comes to mind, even with mud splattering her clothes and her dark brown hair falling over her shoulders in a knotted mess, even though she only comes up to his shoulder. Then, dangerous. She almost reminds him of himself. He has to stifle a sneer at that one.
"-told you he can't be trusted. And you wanted to let him train recruits. Think of the damage he could do if you put a sword back in his hand!" Cullen's saying.
"I'm sure someone would stop him before he killed everyone in Skyhold, Commander," the elf replies.
"He wouldn't need to kill everyone. Just you."
"He's valuable. We can use him for more than experiments and information."
"I don't see how-"
Neither seems to notice him or the guards that hauled him there until one shoves him towards the pair like some sort of peace offering. "Hope I'm not interrupting anything," Samson says.
Cullen straightens, drawing himself up to his full height and glaring at him. Oh, if looks could kill.
"What're these two for?" Samson jerks his head towards the two guards still flanking him. "To wipe my arse if I need to take a shit?"
The Inquisitor waves the soldiers towards the door.
"Leave us," she says.
One of them, the woman, coughs politely, stepping forward.
"Inquisitor, with all due respect-"
"He's not a threat," she cuts in.
They hesitate for another moment, but leave, offering her and Cullen a quick salute. A bitter laugh grates against the ex-general's throat after they go.
"The monster with nothing to lose isn't a threat?"
"Another thing we don't agree on," Cullen notes dryly.
The Inquisitor turns to face him, blue eyes fixing on him, pointed ears twitching as she looks at Samson. She's never been this close, not since the battle back at that damned temple in the Arbor Wilds. She's always been watching him from high up on her throne, or from the battlements as guards escorted him back to the dungeon, or as she rode through the gates, mounted on her hart, passing near the tower they were making him help rebuild so maybe he would learn remorse, always passing by in fleeting glimpses. Her voice is steel when she speaks, hard and cold.
"You lied to us."
He shifts his weight to his back leg, wetting his lips. "That so? About what?"
"The location of the camp in the Emerald Graves," Cullen says.
"There's nothing there," the elf elaborates. "You lied to us."
He looks between them. He's not stupid enough to keep playing the fool if they already know it's an act. He holds his head up instead.
"So? What're you going to do? Order me to muck the stables out again?"
Cullen growls something under his breath. The Inquisitor keeps staring at him. She hasn't looked away this whole time.
"Why did you lie?" she asks.
Samson laughs again.
"Why?" he repeats. "You must not know what it's like to have other people's lives in your hands, Inquisitor."
"And turning good men and women into monsters was the right thing to do, then? The honorable thing?" Cullen spits out.
"Honor is a wet dream the Chantry doles out to all the good little Templars so they can sleep at night, Commander."
"They trusted you."
"They trusted me because I fought with them instead of cowering behind a desk or a throne!"
"Enough," the Inquisitor snaps. "Samson, with me."
"Inquisitor-" Cullen begins.
"Dismissed, Commander," she says. She grabs Samson by the collar and shoves him out the door before her.
"Going to throw me off the battlements for Cullen, Inquisitor? Can't say I'm surprised he doesn't have the stomach to do it himself."
She stalks past the merchants and the healer's tents and the sparring ring, marching him in front of her. They part like a spooked herd of druffalo, murmuring, "Herald" and "Inquisitor". She pushes him through the door to the dungeon and slams shut it behind them. A smokey haze drifts through the air that fills this dank hole. The whole place smells like piss. He welcomes it. The few other prisoners locked away in their cells glance up for a moment when Samson and the Inquisitor reach the bottom of the winding stone steps before going back to their wallowing or repenting or bitching or Maker knows what else they were supposed to do down here in the dark. The guard takes Samson from her and locks him in his cell quickly. Like he'd try to escape with the Inquisitor standing a few paces away. Andraste's tits, he's not stupid.
"I don't care what Dagna says, don't give him any lyrium," she orders as the guard turns the key in the lock.
"For how long, Inquisitor?"
She looks at Samson through the bars. In the dim light, he thinks he sees look of pity on her face. When he blinks, it's gone.
"Indefinitely" drags out into searing, sleepless nights and days of roaring need pounding away at his skull and twitchy hands and the need and a mouth drier than the Hissing Wastes and boiling, freezing, clammy skin and the lyrium singing to him and the song dragging out into forever. He tries to grit his chattering teeth, imagines clamping red lyrium between them and swallowing, letting the crystals rip him apart. It wouldn't work like that, but he wishes it could. He wishes she would come back and kill him. He wishes she would go back and kill him back at the temple, back at Haven, back at Kirkwall, go all the way back and make it so he never existed. He would pray for it if he could remember how to speak, but when he tries, only guttural moans and whatever's still left in his stomach comes out, bile stinging away the words.
After "indefinitely" is over, they drag him out of the cell and back to the office. Put a map and some blue in front of him. The song pouring out of the vial of blue lyrium has risen to a screech now, screaming for him. He can't even see the map, but he knows what they want him to do. Hours and hours of planning troop movements and positioning camps has drilled this into him. Instinct points out where the Red Templars- his men- are, shows them the routes they'd used to move the red, tells them everything. After, they give him the blue, he doesn't even feel guilt or shame rising up in his throat, just drains the bottle. And it's all he can do to stop himself from trying to lick the last drops out of the thin vial. The song rushes through his veins and for a moment, he can think. The Inquisitor comes into focus. Those damn eyes.
"Better run away now, rabbit," he slurs. Just he as lunges for her, the world lurches to the side and stumbles into darkness.
Samson wakes up in a bed. Not laying on a stiff cot, a bed roll, or dirty straw thrown over cold stone. A proper bed. The cool sheets draped over him feel too heavy on his skin. The pillows are too soft. The bed's in proper room too. Not a dungeon or a tent in the middle of some Maker-forsaken place. He rolls onto his side and starts to wince at the stiffness in his whole body until the vial of lyrium on the side table snatches his gaze. He grabs it and fumbles with the cork for too long before finally popping it out and upending the bottle, the song trickling down his throat and coursing through him. He moans, collapsing back onto the bed, and lies there. The room spins a little as he takes stock of it. There's a fireplace in the other wall, a painting hanging next to his bed, a small desk with a chair to accompany it at the foot of the bed, the Inquisitor leaning against the edge of the desk, watching him. The Inquisitor. Dangerous, he reminds himself.
"A clean break heals easier," she says as he pulls himself back up again. "Can you stand?"
He throws his legs over the edge of the bed. The cold bites at his feet and his toes start to curl away from the stone floor before he forces himself to stand and face her. Funny how everything still feels cold, even with the fire crackling in the hearth. Maybe it's only in the way she looks at him.
She walks towards him, closing the gap between them until she's standing close enough that her breath ghosts over his bare chest. He flinches when she moves suddenly, half-expecting her to lash out and strike him. The memory of her cutting down his men to reach the Well back at the temple still burns in his mind's eye. Instead her hand comes up to cup his face. Her right hand, not the Faded-touched one. A thumb strokes his cheek idly.
He sucks in a sharp breath through his teeth.
"What're you doing?" he demands.
His throat tightens at that. He doesn't like the kindness or whatever this is, not from her. His hand curls around her wrist, dirty nails biting into her skin.
"Don't," he warns, pulling her hand away. It drops back to her side.
She steps away and starts to wander around him in a slow circle, taking in the bloodshot eyes and cracked lips, the malnourished jut of his hips and ribs, the callouses and scars, the constellations of red lyrium crystals burning angrily against his skin and spiraling over his shoulders, down his back, arms, and sides, the addiction, before coming to settle in front of him again.
"Cullen still objects to using you to train recruits. Luckily, he's not the leader of the Inquisition." She starts to leave him with that, moving for the door. But then she pauses, tossing a smirk over her shoulder. "We're not good people, Samson. But we have our uses."
Just like him.