Even though Dorian’s experience in lovers is by no means limited, he has never had an intersection with actual love that exists separate from lovemaking. Though, admittedly, during those times ”fucking" would have been a more practical term, more in tune with the nature of his numerous past affairs. He has gotten used to calling out the names of the men he sleeps with, but never before has he gotten a reply that means anything. Afterall, saying it aloud makes it real and with a married man, the only real things that fit into the false bubble of propriety are obligation and duty. There can’t be room for the name of one’s definitely male side bit, ever. Then, Dorian thinks, it’s not as though it was a loss for them, for the nameless faces opposite of him, for the faces he had turned away from in an attempt to do nothing but feel. They had gotten what they wanted and so there was no place for the sentimentalities peculiar to young, wide-eyed boys who thought they deserved more from the world than they got.
At the time Dorian thought that to feel without thinking was as close to divine a pariah like him could ever get. Most often, it was a worthwhile deal for both – or in some occasions, for all – participants to take the rare chance to publicize a shared secret even if only for the committed. In the too-short moments when men like Dorian only see each other and no one else, they somehow manage to co-exist both with themselves and the outside world; in those seconds they are no longer driven by escaping deprivation but instead by seeking gratification. For men like Dorian, seeking higher purpose comes in the form of hastiness, secluded corners, and apprehensive peeks.
For all Dorian is cocky, and confident, for all he’s accepted his position as an outcast even among his own people, the agony of abandonment is only increasing tenfold now that he hasn’t even seen Tevinter in years; hasn’t felt neither the opulence nor the ever-accelerating decay that go hand in hand with the nation and its colorful history. If he is honest with himself, Tevinter as he remembers it from before all this, before his rebirth as Dorian the mage, feels distant. He won’t see his birthland ever again. He doubts he'll ever be able to say that aloud without feeling like he’s been stabbed in the chest, in the back, everywhere at once. Each of the words remind him of an old 'Vint legend about a politician called Brutus and his sponsor. According to the legend, Brutus partook in the assassination of Brutus' own sponsor by stabbing him repeatedly, for personal gain. Dorian wonders if he’s nothing but a Brutus in his own time, again and again betraying his sponsor who has given him almost everything he could have asked for. Except.
It is so dreadful indeed to think, that he would be dead in an instant should he go back to Tevinter. There is a part of him that is shameful to the extent that his own family has deemed he needs to be either changed through blood or terminated for good. The first plan has obviously failed, since Dorian is not currently in a vegetative state thank you very much for asking, and there have been quite enough tries of the second sort to convey the message. Dorian will never again be welcomed with open arms in the country he spent years considering his home.
It’s not even at all unlikely for him to be finally offed with no ceremonies at all, to have it happen in family circle, not for what he’s done, what risks he has taken or how he’d failed at casting a defense in the field, no. For being who he is, for a central part of being Dorian, previously of House Pavus, a bit more recently of the Inquisitor's Party.
Sometimes, it annoys Dorian how this one, quite a simple thing really, has become so integral in how he sees himself, and in turn, how he expects others to see him. Is it not ironic, that all his father's attempts to suppress that side of him only led to it being highlighted time and time again until even Dorian himself could not imagine it not coming up in discussion? The flirting, the innuendos and brow-wiggling have become so central to his public façade that people forget there is also the side of him that would have thrived in a quiet convent more than anywhere else.
It would be a leap to stop being Dorian the queer one, and who knows maybe he is actually making up for lost time by parading his desires for all of Thedas to see; it’s not like making a big deal out of it is utterly despicable to him. Another part of him whispers treacherous thoughts: that he is trying his luck and literally toying with his life by abusing this newfound freedom of the South. Once, when he had a fever so high he trashed the Infirmary while hallucinating, he had been convinced that karma would find him and punish him for being so outrageously out there as himself. Afterwards, Dorian had tried to justify those thoughts with the fever and brush them under the carpet, but the point still stood and he couldn’t deny that they were his thoughts. In the vastness of Dorian’s mind they are little specks of dust but their existence still thoroughly annoys him.
All of the participants in the Inquisitor’s little Party lead dangerous lives and Dorian’s not any better in that regard. Barriers are only useful so long as there is someone conscious to cast them, and he knows that no matter how strong one is there are always stray arrows and convenient cliffs to fall down from; not to consider all the ways a man like him could be betrayed by someone more or less dear. These days, there are plenty of people of the first type in his life and he’s still not sure if they’re threats or possibilities.
Still, he supposes, what does he have to lose?
Except now he does have something, a someone in his life. As he looks at the only man who has never asked him more than he can give, it is sheer stubbornness that makes him unable to spell aloud what he thinks of the ox-man laying on his front; he is snoring beside Dorian who sits and leans his back on the headboard of their shared bed. Dorian reaches for the hand of his sleeping companion and takes a hold of it. In addition to not demanding from Dorian, the man seems to have thrown himself in willing giving; praise or warmth, encouragement, and those smiles that at first make it harder to breathe and then in an instant actually speed up Dorian’s poor, overstimulated heart like it’s trying to escape from the Qunari. But point is, Bull’s not chasing him, even though at the start of their acquittance Dorian had worn a lot of red just to mess with him. Dorian’s someone is doing something so much better, he is making himself useful and, Dorian finds, rather necessary. Not because Bull wants to make him dependent, he’s way above such mind games, but because Dorian frankly doesn’t like his life as much without the type of obnoxious presence only Bull can manage; while he is a huge softie inside, he also knows that he’s bigger and stronger physically than anyone else in their social circles and as long as everybody’s having fun he takes full advantage of it too.
Bull does have his own issues too, it is not as though Dorian’s the only one who comes with baggage. They don’t even need to start to unravel their personal baggage either to be faced with it; they have symptoms of shell shock as everyone in their profession does. All this is acknowledged, he thinks, though silently. Despite both knowing that they can rely on each other for psychological as well as emotional support, it is also clear that they are both too old to put all their eggs in one basket, not this early on.
Dorian imagines Bull hasn’t been as forthcoming about everything as he has, but it’s alright. Bull has his Chargers and he especially has Krem since Dorian does know which one of them two ’Vints came to Bull’s life first and it certainly wasn’t some runaway mage. Dorian isn’t witless, the more trustworthy people surround Bull the more he too can be at peace. Not to mention the fact that Bull literally lost an eye for his Second-in-Command before he they had exchanged any words at all. It would be pretty stupid to try to severe that kind of bond. The usual bouts of jealousy are easy enough to deal with through reasoning and momentarily a proper amount of distance from the kindler helps too. He’s very proud of this achieved maturity.
It has not been long since the demands of the Qun, and Dorian notes the increase in the subtle or not so subtle ways Bull has integrated his version of the Qun in their lives. Well, his life only, since Dorian and the Chargers are officially unaware that Bull is indulging in his not-praying-but-according-to-Dorian-definitely-praying thing more frequently than ever, not to mention that the paper Bull used for reports keeps dwindling yet. Though it is flattering that the Bull doesn’t bother to conceal that last thing better. It warms Dorian even though he knows it could merely be a part of the lack of vigilance the mercenary has held with since at last becoming Tal-Vashoth. There is an age-old pain in being excluded from the people one considers their own, in being unwanted. Dorian hopes they can share that in the future. For now, he is glad to at least be included in the family picture he’s sure must be located in Bull’s mind. Dorian doesn’t intend to lose his place there. It is important to not let his special someone down, his very own significant other.
With the Bull Dorian either has all the words or no vocabulary at all, there is no in between. Sometimes there is such a multitude of words that they get stuck in Dorian’s throat all at once and no sound is heard except for that of the particular exaggerated inhale which is a universal sign for ”I am going to speak soon, hear me out.” The Bull always waits, sometimes asks and rarely if ever pressures unless it is a life or death situation. Dorian likes that, the same way he likes many other things such as his magic, the sun, and a good glass of quality wine that the Party says makes him look like a snob when he sips it the way his tutor taught him when he was still a member of high society, albeit a juvenile one.
Dorian’s been the other man before, but more importantly, he has never before been the first. He is terrified.