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Spirit In The Night

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The children won’t have enough to eat tomorrow. I should have worked harder last week, I ran out of money too fast. What can I do?

Darktown was rather noisy for the spirit, even at night when people usually let their worries go and escaped their problems in dreams. He’d made several stops already but now he crouched by a woman, lying on the floor of her tiny home with a child on each side of her. She was crying softly, trying to keep still and silent so she couldn’t disturb her little ones with her sorrow.

“It will be alright.” Cole said softly to her, her tears stopping as soon as she heard his voice. “You put in as many hours as you could. You always do as much as you can for them. Go to the docks in the morning. There’s a nice fisherman there with a red hat and he’ll give you enough fish for your family if you ask him.”

When she nodded and closed her eyes, he rose to his feet and left her to rest. They’d have food and the kind fisherman who just lost his wife would take comfort in helping them. Neither party would remember that they’d been visited by a spirit, but they would both be a little happier the next day. Cole wished there was more he could do for them, but for one night, at least he had helped.

There was so much pain in Darktown. Many more stops he could make before the night was over. But he was drawn to the healer’s clinic, where the anguish was so fresh and concentrated. He sought the source of despair and found himself beside the Healer of Darktown’s cot - it didn’t matter that the door was locked. When he was needed, he always managed to reach the mortals that were hurting.

He instantly recognized him for what he was - this man was a mage and an occupied one. Not by a demon, thankfully, but a spirit of Justice. He knew Justice may be aware of his presence even though his mage was asleep, but he wasn’t concerned. As he recognized Justice, Justice would recognize him as Compassion and know that he meant no harm.

Even in his sleep, he could hear the mage’s pain. There had been an accident that morning and several people had died. One was just a young boy. The good healer had saved so many, and yet it was all of those he lost that haunted his rest this night.

Cole sat down on the edge of his cot and put a hand on the man’s shoulder. Touching him allowed him to hear what was beneath the surface, beneath the recent tragedy of that day. He’d been in the Circle. He’d been tortured. He’d lost friends to Tranquility. The Wardens had made him get rid of his cat. He used his magic from dawn until dusk to help people, but none of that would matter when the templars finally had their chance to take him and make him Tranquil. There was so much suffering and in such a short lifetime.

He rarely touched mortals so intimately, but he found himself gently shifting the man up into his arms so he could cradle him on his lap. “You’re a good man, you know you are. You couldn’t save them all today, but think of the people you did save. Mothers came home to their children tonight because of you. Husbands are sleeping in the arms of their wives because of you. And the families of the people you couldn’t save are grieving with the knowledge that someone tried. Someone cared and made sure that they died with as much comfort and dignity as they could.”

He knew the mage could hear him, even in his sleep, and he rocked him gently in his lap. “You deserve so much better than you have, Anders. Life has been so unkind to you, yet you dedicate yourself to helping others. Maybe tomorrow you should take a little time to take care of yourself. How long has it been since you had a full meal? How long has it been since you’ve had a warm bath?” He stroked his fingers through the man’s soft hair. “How long has it been since someone has held you like this?”

He wouldn’t remember that anyone had been here to hold him. But the feeling of being cradled this way would linger when he woke. “Get some rest, Theo. You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself.” He knew no one called him by anything but Anders or Healer these days, but the more intimate use of his name might help him to remember how important it was to take a day off when he awoke.

After giving his hair one more stroke, he eased him back down onto the cot. There was one more thing that he could do for him and the idea brought a smile to his lips. A quick trip to a nearby meadow was all he needed and in no time at all, he was back at the clinic. He'd collected a mint plant that he knew cats loved and by the time he finished planting little clumps of them around the outside of the clinic, there were already a few stray cats coming around to investigate. By the time the sun rose, they would be lazing around the clinic and Anders would see them as soon as he opened the door for the morning.

When dawn came and Cole had finished visiting the most distraught citizens of Darktown, the spirit finally found a place to rest. He sat down on a rooftop across from the healer’s clinic, a small smile on his lips as he waited for the door to open and the mage to see the cats. Anders wouldn't see him watching and if Justice didn't tell him they were visited by a spirit, he'd have no idea that the words spoken to him in the night were anything more than his own thoughts. That was fine with Cole. He didn't want to be remembered or acknowledged. If he saw the mage smile when he opened the clinic door, it was all the thanks he could want. He would know that he had helped.

Chapter Text

There was heartache at the healer’s clinic and it called to Cole as it often did. He’d been visiting often lately, doing little things to try to help the troubled mage that lived inside and used his every waking moment to help others. He only visited when the man slept, doing what he could to give him more peaceful rest. He knew there was a spirit inhabiting him but by helping Anders only when he was unconscious, he had been unable to interact with his fellow spirit. It was better that way. Though he was sure Justice was at least somewhat aware of him, it would be easier for Anders to stay oblivious to him if they didn’t speak. He had more indirect ways of helping during the daylight hours, primarily by enticing the stray cats of Darktown to live near the clinic. One of the strays was due with a litter any time and he knew the kittens would make the healer very happy.

The suffering that drew him to the clinic for the first time in the daylight was not coming from the healer. There had been a fire in Lowtown and the men who had escaped the building were all in the clinic with varying degrees of burns and hacking coughs from all of the smoke. Of the people who had been working there, five had made it to healer but three had been lost in the blaze. One of those who had died had been little more than a boy.

When Cole stepped into the clinic, he was taken aback by how loud it was. How much pain these men were in, from their own wounds and from their failure to get everyone out alive. Especially the boy. Though they would be able to see him, he hardly got a glance from the people inside waiting their turn to be healed. That was fine with him. He didn’t want to be a distraction, especially not for Anders. He only wanted to help.

---

Even as distracted as he was, Anders saw movement at the door from the corner of his eyes. Surely not someone else? He looked up and was relieved to see that whoever it was, he was not burned. “Take a seat anywhere you can find one - I’ll get to you when I can.” Whatever he needed, it would have to wait. If he could walk himself here, he could wait. He returned to what he was doing, healing the worst of the burns as quickly as he could. He didn’t want any of these men lingering in shock, as it could kill one of them abruptly if he wasn’t careful.

---

“Don’t worry about me. I’m just here to help.” Anders had enough on his plate, he didn’t need to worry about another patient waiting on him. He went to the man sitting closest to the door, the least injured of everyone, and knelt in front of him. “It was too late for you to go back in. You couldn’t have done any more to save them. If you would have gone back one more time for them, you would have died with them. You have a wife and children who would be mourning you right now. There is enough mourning to be done today already…”

---

Compassion...

Anders was too distracted what he was doing to pay mind to his spirit, but he did feel curious about the stranger. A man he’d never seen. He couldn’t afford to be distracted by the curiosity and he tried to shake it off, not realizing that it was coming from Justice. He glanced up at him again, confused to see him speaking to one of the men, but perhaps he knew him and that was why he was here. He forced his eyes back on his work, trying to ignore the strange feeling in his gut. He’d never seen him, so why did he feel familiar?

---

Cole went down the line, spending time talking to each of the men waiting to be healed. Some took more time than others. Especially the man next in line to be healed - he was severely burned but not in shock like the man Anders was working on. “It was an innocent mistake. No one is blaming you for any of this. It could have happened to any of them..” He continued his work on the man who had started the fire and eventually he embraced the burned man as he began to sob.

---

After a while, Anders looked up and saw him hugging one of his patients. “Excuse me - I’m sure you’re concerned about your friends, but please, if you’re not in need of help, leave and talk to them later.” He didn’t want him to get them worked up or to accidently hurt one of them further.

He won’t hurt them.

He frowned. What do you mean?

He’s Compassion.

---

“It’s alright, Anders. I can stay out of your way.” He didn’t want to be a hindrance to him  - as he was working on their emotional wounds, he knew it was even more important right now that the healer tend to their physical ones. He looked up from the man he was holding, seeing Anders at work and realizing with a bit of surprise that it was not the spirit that inhabited him that enabled his healing, but a spirit of Compassion. He couldn’t help but smile a little - how curious that a mortal was so surrounded by spirits. “But the man you’re healing would really like some water. Could I fetch some for him?”

---

Compassion? What did that mean? He didn’t know what he was talking about, but he couldn’t question Justice further. He couldn’t even question how he knew his name. He had to continue what he was doing, but he was getting increasingly anxious about finishing so he could question the man.

It’s alright, I’ll tell you about him when we are done. Justice didn’t think the spirit was going to stay long enough for them to talk to him, though he wanted to himself. He didn’t know why the spirit so frequently came to them while they were sleeping, but he had seen and felt the good it had done the mage. He didn’t know how he felt about it himself, but he’d not come into contact with another spirit in a long time and he wanted greet him, if nothing else.

Anders heard his question and nodded absently. Sometimes the people in his clinic tried to be helpful. In this case, he could use it and he didn’t mind, as long as he was careful. Then a moment later, it struck him that the man he was working on hadn’t spoken. He blinked, but quickly shook the thought. All of the men were undoubtedly thirsty and he would have fetched them water himself if he wasn’t still busy tending to them.

---

When the man he was holding was adequately soothed, Cole rose to his feet again and went to fetch water. They were all thirsty, but none more than the half-conscious man on the table. He moved to the side of the table opposite Anders and used a hand to lift the man’s head, putting the glass of water to his lips. The man roused enough to drink it down greedily, his eyes locked on Cole. “No, the boy didn’t make it. I’m sorry. But you were very brave to try to pull him out.” He said soothingly, answering a question that hadn’t been asked aloud. He looked to Anders then. “You’re easing his pain but he says it’s still so hard to breathe. Can we try propping his head up a little?”

---

Anders stared at him. “...Who are you?” For a moment he stopped everything he was doing, needing to know who this was in his clinic.

A spirit of Compassion.

That’s what he meant? That didn’t make sense. He was an abomination with a compassion spirit? The thought itself was bizarre - why would a compassion spirit ever enter their world? They did plenty of good from within the Fade. Had it got stuck here, like Justice? Spirits rarely ever entered their world and the fact that he was sharing his body with one was a rare thing indeed.

No, he is not a mage. I… don’t understand what he is, but he’s not inside anyone.

---

He looked up from the man on the table briefly. “Call me Cole. Don’t let me distract you from healing these men. I am only here because they needed me. I’m here to help.” Though he hadn’t gotten an answer about propping the man up, he grabbed a nearby towel and folded it, then tucked it beneath the man’s head.

---

Despite his words, Anders continued to stare at him. It took the man coughing for him to draw his attention and he hastened to pick up where he left off. A spirit of Compassion… not in a body. His heart quickened. Was this… his Compassion? Despite having a friendship with the spirit, Anders rarely saw it. The only time he really interacted with the spirit was when he summoned it and even that wasn’t much of anything - to him it seemed no different to any other spell he cast.

The last time he’d seen Compassion was when he’d been locked away in the tower. Whenever he slept and the demons came, sometimes Compassion would stay close and help give him the strength he needed to resist the temptation of their promises.

Would it even be possible for him to be using his magic as he was if his Compassion was in this world? He had known his name, though…

He tried to focus on what he was doing, pulling out a vial of lyrium as he needed it and healing the worst of the injuries. He knew the men were mourning those they had lost, but they had died in the fire and so they hadn’t been brought to him. It wasn’t as hard on him, though he did regret that a boy had died. He regretted that anyone had died, but especially someone so young, and his only comfort was that it hadn’t been due to his own failings.

---

Cole did what little he could to help keep the men comfortable physically or assist Anders. But what he did best was keep them calm and comfortable through the process. By the time their families had come to collect the men, he was helping to clean up. He knew Anders had questions. It would be easy to make him forget him, as he made each of the burn victims forget him before they left. But he knew the spirit in him had to be curious as well and after so many nights visiting him in secret, the least he could do was say hello to him.

---

As soon as they were gone, Anders was back to staring at the spirit. “Uh… Cole, so you’re a spirit?” Obviously, if Justice said so, but there was no need to inform him that his own spirit was talking about him. Though, from what he’d seen, it seemed like Cole was able to hear things he shouldn’t so… maybe it didn’t make a difference at all.

---

“Yes...and no.” He wasn’t only a spirit anymore. It was complicated and he didn’t have a full understanding of it himself. “I don’t usually visit you so directly, but I was needed today. I know you, but no, I am not your Compassion. Though I caught glimpses of it while you worked.”

---

He frowned. “You visit me?” What did that mean? As strange as it was to have his thoughts answered, it wasn’t a strange to him as it would be to someone that didn’t have another being living in their head. The oddest part of it was that he could actually see and speak to him, though he had to admit that there was something disconcerting about having someone who he’d made no such agreement with having access to his thoughts.

He has been coming to visit us at night. He comforts you in your sleep. That’s why you’ve felt better and why you’ve been taking more time for yourself. There was some disapproval that came with the words, but it was less than he would’ve expected. Actually, that had been true in the moment as well - he would’ve expected Justice to at least say something when he’d taken time off over the last few weeks, but he hadn’t.

---

“Yes. When you need me, I help you get your rest.” He knew that may not go over well with Anders. Mortals could find his interventions a bit intrusive, which was why it was usually best to help and then make them forget. “I wanted to greet Justice when I sensed him, but I didn’t think I could do it without waking you. It was better that I let you rest.”

---

He had a lot of experience with spirits and demons, but not so much in this world. As such, it did feel intrusive and he didn’t really like it. Yes, he’d felt better lately, but knowing that someone was coming into his clinic while he was sleeping and making him feel that way unconsciously was uncomfortable. You knew about this? That he’s been doing this? Why hadn’t he told him?

Yes. I didn’t see the need. He wasn’t hurting us and he’s been helping you. If it’s alright, I would like to speak to him.

Anders was at a loss, but he assumed that Cole had heard all of that, so he looked at him expectantly, to see what he wanted.

---

“I’m sorry.” As expected, the mage didn’t like him visiting in his sleep. “I only go to you when you need me. Otherwise I try less invasive ways to make you happy. Have you enjoyed the cats?” He was unaware that Justice was meaning to talk to him, only picking up some of Anders’ thoughts and not the spirit’s.

---

Anders’ mouth fell open. “You’re the one that planted all of the catnip?” He’d really enjoyed all of the cats coming around, though he did worry for them. The denizens of Darktown could be so hungry and sometimes cats went missing. Still, opening his doors and seeing cats sitting around really did make his days better.

---

“Yes.” He brightened just a little. He could tell Anders had enjoyed seeing the cats and having them around had helped keep vermin controlled around the clinic. “I’ve been looking forward to the gray one having her kittens. I think seeing them will make you very happy.” He knew the mage had a soft spot for kittens.

---

He let it sink in. “Why are you so concerned with making me happy?” If this spirit wasn’t his Compassion, why did he care? Okay, obviously he would care, he was Compassion after all, but why had he suddenly… fixated on him? He doubted he was the only one he was seeing and he had said that he’d come to help the men, hadn’t he? Even so, he seemed to be putting in a lot of effort for him.

---

“There is a lot of suffering in Darktown. I think that’s why I was called here. I’ve been helping the people here.” Though he didn’t visit anyone as often as he visited the healer. “I like to visit you because you care a lot more than most people. And the things you’ve been through...they remind me of Cole. I like to make you happy.”

---

It was uncomfortable to hear. He’d had no idea this was happening and he didn’t know this… spirit. “I thought you were Cole?” Had he taken the name from a mortal he’d known? Is that why he didn’t go by his true name? Then again, what was a ‘true name’ to a spirit?

Anders, I know this is strange, but it’s really not all that different from what happens in the Fade. From what your Compassion has done for you there. He’s just acting as he should. I know you have questions, as do I, please, I would like to speak with him.

---

“I am...but I am not. Cole is dead. I was with him when he died and he is part of me now.” It was hard to tell what of his feelings and memories were his own and which were Cole’s sometimes. “I keep his name because I’m no longer just Compassion.”

---

At that, he looked a little horrified. Is that what would happen when he died? Would Justice take over his body and just… continue to live as him?

No, I would never. I would find someone else or return home - besides, he’s not in a body. He must have simply taken his memories of Cole with him when he left his body. Justice knew that he wouldn’t forget Anders, even after he died. He was Anders, so maybe he would carry him with him similarly. Anders…

I know.

“Cole, Justice wishes to speak with you, if that’s alright with you.”

---

He sensed the horror in him and he shook his head. “No, it wasn’t like that. I was never joined with him as you are with your spirit.”  He hadn’t been back to the Fade in so long. He’d been needed here ever since he’d gone to help Cole. “I want to speak with him also. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked to another spirit.”

---

That didn’t make any sense, but maybe since he could hear thoughts, for whatever reason, he had a connection to this ‘Cole’ in the same way Justice had a connection with him… but without actually having joined with him. Whatever it was, he knew he wouldn’t understand it, but it was fascinating. If only he could get over how weird all of this was, he could appreciate this for what it was.

He nodded and shut his eyes, telling Justice that he could take control. Justice did just that, pushing forward and opening their eyes, now glowing brightly. He looked at him curiously. “What are you doing here, Cole?” It felt strange calling him anything other than Compassion, but he knew he had to respect the name he wanted to go by. He wasn’t asking why he was in the clinic or even in Darktown, but why he was here in the mortal world.

---

The curiosity was returned - it was fascinating to see a spirit within a mortal this way. “I don’t know. Something happened when I went to help Cole. It was just like any other mortal I used to go to at first. An angry, terrified mage dying alone. I went to bring him comfort in his final moments and...something changed. I have been in this world ever since, but I can still go unseen by the mortals and I am still called by their suffering. I am always somewhere between this world and the Fade.”

---

He considered that. “Don’t you wish to go home?” Even if he couldn’t, didn’t he want to? If he could find a way home, perhaps he could continue as he had before he’d met Cole. Helping these mortals, but remaining within the realm they belonged in. As Anders had thought, compassion spirits often helped mages and through them, others, so he would be able to continue his work without being stuck here.

---

“Sometimes. I miss home. But sometimes I feel I can help the mortals more on this side. I can hold them, be more...real for them.” The way he sometimes held Anders when he slept to soothe him. “Do you wish to go home, Justice?”

---

The corner of their lips tugged up lightly. “I feel the same. I miss home, but there is much more I can do here. In the Fade, I cannot do much. Mortals do not seek me out often and when they do, it is only to ask for my opinion.” After all, a being of absolute justice had strong opinions of right and wrong. “There is so much injustice in this world. It is where I need to be.”

---

“Then it seems we’ve both made ourselves at home here.” They were where they were needed most. Where they could do the most good. “I’ve been enjoying helping Anders. He’s uncomfortable with my interventions, though. It might be best for him if I make him forget me when this is over.”

---

He looked increasingly curious. “That is something you can do?” As well as hear their thoughts? As well as exist in this world without a body? “How do you have such powers?” Were they simply powers that all compassion spirits had? He wouldn’t know, his own powers differed. “If I could stay here in a body of my own, I would be able to do so much more. It is… difficult to reside in a body that you do not control.”

---

“I would tell you how I do it if I knew how. Keeping my own body here and making people forget me.” He didn’t know how he did these things, he simply did them. “It’s hard to separate myself from Cole sometimes. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if this was his body and he still inhabited it.”

---

“He has too many needs. Too many whims. I try to comfort him, but it doesn’t help the way it does when you do the same.” He wasn’t particularly good at being comforting, but he tried to sooth him whenever he was overwhelmed. He felt somewhat inadequate, actually, but if anyone was going to be better at comforting another, it would be Compassion. “We could be doing more if it wasn’t for him.”

---

“I exist to comfort. I’m happy to help him.” It wasn’t surprising to him at all that he was better at soothing the mage. Though he imagined why that might be frustrating for Justice. “He does far more than most mortals. Giving him the space to rest and be happy will help.”

---

“He rests every night and he is happy to help, so why does he need more?” Mortals had so many emotions and felt he understood most of them, but he still struggled to know why Anders needed more. He could feel he did, but he didn’t understand why. “The more time he wastes, the more others will suffer. All these mortals act as if Sloth is in the back of their minds - if they would stop thinking of themselves, this world would be better.”

---

“Because they’re not like us. Their time is short and they need some of it for themselves. The misery I hear from them is often linked to their lack of time.” He knew the healer had far less time for himself than most of the mortals who felt they had no time for themselves. “This world would be better if they could be more like us. But then you and I would not be needed.”

---

“Their misery is linked to each other.” If they stopped hurting each other, they would be happier themselves. He sighed, finding this world so very frustrating sometimes. “I want him to be happy,” He cared about Anders above all, but he couldn’t let his feelings for the man cloud his purpose. Just as he felt Anders oughtn’t let his feelings cloud their purpose. “But his happiness isn’t more important anyone else’s.”

---

“Keeping him happy will help him do more for others. I am here to help as well. I don’t know for how long, but this is where I am needed right now.” He shook his head. “If all of the mortals were more like your Anders, this world would not be such a mess.”

---

“I know that he is better than most men.” He had a lot of respect for Anders, even if he got frustrated with him from time to time. “Perhaps you could try comforting him while he is awake. Maybe it will be better for him and then he will be able to take less time away from our work.” A compromise, potentially.

---

“He needs me most at night when his dreams are troubled. But I will try to comfort him while he’s awake.” If he took well to it, perhaps he’d even let him remember. Anders understood spirits better than most, so it may benefit him to remember.

---

“Very well, but I would like him to not take too much time from his work.” He’d let him since it seemed to make him feel better, but he didn’t want this to be a constant occurrence. After a moment, he went on. “When you are going to leave here, will you come speak to me first?”

---

“I won’t encourage him to take too much. I know his work is important.” Though he still felt the mage was overworked. More little breaks like the ones he’d been taking wouldn’t hurt his productivity too much. “I will. Or if I have to leave too urgently, I will return. It’s good for us to speak to one of our own.”

---

He nodded in agreement. “It has been nice speaking to you.” It was a little taste of home that he didn’t often get these days. “I will return control to Anders.” He was in the habit of informing whoever he was with what he was doing, even though it was incredibly obvious when he retreated. The light faded and Anders’ amber eyes returned, disorientated. He blinked and seemed to ground himself after a beat. “Did he say what he needed to?” He must have, if he was back.

---

“He did.” He cocked his head a little, studying him as he got his orientation back. “Did you not hear us? Are you not as aware when he is in control as he is when you are in control?” He had no idea how sharing a body worked for them.

---

“No, I don’t know why, but the only time I maintain awareness is when we are in the Fade.” He glanced behind him to make sure no one had come in and since no one had, he decided to put out the lantern and shut the door. “Are you planning on staying in Darktown?” If so, he wanted to talk to him about him coming into his clinic when it was closed.

---

“Yes. For as long as I am needed here.” He didn’t know how much longer he would be welcome in the clinic, but since he didn’t plan to leave immediately, he chose one of the stools and had a seat. His body didn’t fatigue the way a mortal’s would, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate getting comfortable.

---

Seeing him behave as a mortal would, even with something as simple as sitting down, made him feel a little more comfortable. “Alright. I think having you here would be helpful to the people of Darktown.” Maker knew they needed some compassion and they didn’t often get it. “I know you were just trying to help me and I appreciate it.” He did mean it. It wasn’t often anyone bothered to help him and when they did, rarely was it selfless. “I would prefer that you don’t come in here when I am sleeping, though. If you want to come in when the clinic is open and help me with my patients, then you can, but I’ll be alright myself.”

---

“You call to me when you sleep sometimes. The templars and the lost patients haunt your dreams, but I can help you chase them away.” He liked to help him sleep, but he wasn’t surprised that the man wanted him to keep his visits only during the waking hours. “But maybe if I can help you when you’re awake, they will trouble your dreams less.”

---

He frowned. “They’re just dreams. There are others that need your help more than I do.” Though he couldn’t deny that he sometimes missed Compassion and didn’t understand why it didn’t come to him anymore. It still answered his summons when he needed to heal, but otherwise, he’d not felt its presence in a long time.

---

“I go where I am needed. Some nights others need me more than you do. Other nights, you need me most.” He didn’t expect Anders to understand that without a mortal body with mortal needs, he could be very productive with his time. Even on nights where he spent a considerable amount of time Anders, he visited others as well. “I understand your pain better than a mortal could. It’s in my nature and even if it wasn’t, you remind me so much of Cole.”

---

“Why don’t you tell me about this Cole?” He was curious about the mage. What had happened to him and how it had made the spirit what he was. He was curious and it would take the focus off of him, which he would like.

---

“You would like to know about Cole?” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a reason to speak of the human who had changed him. But perhaps his story would help Anders understand his affinity for him. He crossed one leg over the other, another gesture of comfort that Anders might find refreshingly human. “He was from a very poor family, not unlike most of the people living here in Darktown. He and his sister were both mages and much like your father, his father was without magic and didn’t understand them. He was cruel and abusive, feeling his children were cursed with magic. But unlike your father, he didn’t turn them in. Keeping them under his tyrannical control was enough until one day Cole killed him and went into hiding with his sister. They didn’t last long on their own. She died and he was caught by the templars. Like you, he ended up in solitary confinement. Like you, he spent days in complete isolation, fearing that he had been forgotten and left to rot. But unlike you, he was forgotten. The templars left him in the Spire to die. He called to me, desperate for some company besides the demons before he starved to death and I gave him the comfort I could as he died. His fear and hatred for the templars changed me and my desire to find some way to free him from his fate changed me as well. It made him a part of me and brought me to this world in his likeness.”

---

There was a welling of anger inside of him, but more than anything, he looked shaken. His own emotions overpowered even Justice’s and they were intense enough that his eyes welled. That hit far, far too close to home and had to look away from him. Most people couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go through something like that, but he could. He could imagine it all too well. Though he was fed and kept alive, the templars had not taken good care of him and it had taken him months to recover after his release. To become well enough to escape the final time.

He had no words and he wished that he hadn’t asked.

---

He could feel how upset Anders was and he rose to his feet and went to him. “Let me help.” He’d held him many times in his sleep, but he opened his arms to him now while he was awake. Perhaps he could ease some of his pain and more importantly, his anger.

---

He glanced up to his open arms and he leaned back a little. He hadn’t been comforted in a long time and he wasn’t use to anyone offering. He jaw trembled, hesitant, and but he moved closer to him, reminding himself that this wasn’t some random person. This was a spirit. He wasn’t even corrupted like they were. He felt some resistance from Justice, the spirit refusing to believe it, but he didn’t stop him from going to him.

---

“I am corrupted as well. Cole’s anger has made me imperfect.” He told him gently as he took him into his arms. “But I have worked through it and am closer to what I am meant to be. If I can help you with your anger as well, you and Justice will both be better for it. No one understands your rage the way that I do.”

---

That made sense. Maybe it wasn’t his fault… or maybe he and Cole were simply so alike that they both managed to corrupt the spirits trying to help them. He shut his eyes, trying to get comfortable. It was difficult for him, but after some time, he finally softened in his hold. The tears in his eyes dripped down, but there were no more after that. He wasn’t crying, he was just filled with a lot of sudden sorrow.

---

He stroked his fingers through Anders’ hair as he began to relax in his hold. He rocked him gently, feeling his sorrow and trying to draw it from him. “It’s not your fault. We are made to help mortals, not to become one with them. But it’s alright. You don’t have to let your anger ruin you both. I can help.”

---

Justice continued resist the suggestion that they were corrupt. He knew Anders thought of it that way, but he didn’t. Their anger was justified, as were the actions they against anyone who stood in their way. Please, not now. Anders didn’t want to listen to his justifications right now. He took a deep breath and tried to calm, to push away what he’d learned about Cole and how it could have easily been him.

---

“I could make you forget what happened to Cole. I could make you forget what happened to you. But I think it makes you a better, kinder person that you remember.” He didn’t want to take that from him, not unless he really wanted that. He held him tightly, using his body as much as his magic to soothe him.

---

The longer he was held, the more his emotions settled. “No, I don’t want to forget.” As nice as it would be to forget what had happened to him, for it to be as if it never happened, it was a part of who he was. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been held and slowly, his arms raised to hold him in return. Not for Cole’s sake, though he doubted it made a difference, but for himself.

---

“I didn’t think you would. But I felt it was kindest to offer it to you anyway.” He did like being held in return. It made him feel that he was helping, but perhaps it was also part of the humanity he’d gained from Cole. He rocked him and murmured softly into his ear. “Why don’t we go sit on your cot together? You must be tired after today.”

---

If he wasn’t already in his arms, he would have turned down the offer, but he was influenced by his magic and he nodded. He pulled back from him and started to the cot, where he was normally held and comforted, he just hadn’t known it.

---

Cole followed him and when they settled on the cot, he pulled him back into his arms. “You deserve much more than this life has given you. You're a good man.” He whispered into his ear, finding it much easier to hold him intimately on the cot.

---

Sometimes he was told that by the people he helped, but he’d never really taken it to heart. This time, however, he did and it meant a lot. Especially knowing that Cole could see a lot more than anyone else could. It seemed only spirits could understand him. Only they could care about him.

He liked to think that Hawke and the rest of them cared, at least a little, but sometimes he wondered. The way they wrote him off and the way they ignored him. The way they got so annoyed by him and wanted him to shut up when he was trying to tell them about what the mages were suffering.

---

“I understand. I've heard the mages. I've suffered with them, died with them. I've heard the templars and I've changed some of them, but have had to kill others. Even if your mortal friends won't listen to you, I will. I've seen what is happening to the mages in ways they could never experience.” Perhaps he should visit them. Perhaps he could help to convince them to help more.

---

He nodded. Some people understood. There were the mages he worked with, at least. They cared about the same cause, but there were few within the Underground that he would consider his friends. He wondered how he’d come to consider Hawke’s party his friends, but not them. Some of them, but not many.

Truthfully, he felt rather alone no matter where he was or who he was with.

---

“While I'm here, I can help you with the Underground as well. You don't need to be alone. Justice is always with you and I can be your friend. Even if I have to leave Darktown, I can always return to visit.” He guided Anders to rest his head on his shoulder, wanting him relaxed.

---

He lowered his head and when that wasn’t enough, pulled his legs up into the cot, curling up and leaning into him. This is not how he’d imagined this day going, but it was something he needed. “Okay,” he murmured, his eyes shutting again. At least for right now, he wasn’t alone.

---

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” He asked gently, pulling the curled up mage into his lap and rocking him. “You don't have to talk. But if you want to, I'm listening.”

---

He didn’t know what to say. Everything that was bothering him, Cole already knew about. He knew everything about him, didn’t he? So what could he say to him that he wouldn’t already know? What could he say that would help? After a while, he stopped thinking about what he should say and just spoke. “I miss Karl.” The last time he’d felt like someone cared about him, truly cared about him, had been when he’d been with Karl. Even though they’d been forced apart and had their feelings had faded into friendship, no one had mattered to him more.

---

“He was good to you, wasn’t he?” He could feel the pain that his death had brought him. Especially having to do it by his own hand. He nuzzled his cheek against him, wanting to offer him just a little extra comfort. “Why don’t you tell me about Karl?” It might be good for him to talk about the man he’d loved.

---

“He used to be my instructor. I thought he was handsome so I would flirt with him in class, just to see how much it would fluster him.” He’d been pulled aside several times, asked to stop, but he only flirted harder when they were alone. Karl had been considerably older than him at the time, but once he’d given in, it hadn’t mattered. “I was young and careless... he wasn’t. He calmed me down and I… I helped him learn to have fun again.”

---

He smiled as he listened and it reflected in his tone when he spoke up again. “It sounds like you were good for each other. I understand fun...a little, anyway. Thanks to Cole. You must have brought a lot of happiness back into his life.”

---

He wished that Justice understood fun. Resentment answered his thought and when he felt hurt follow, he apologized. I’m sorry, Justice… I know you try to understand and let me have fun. “I can’t remember the last time I had fun like that.” Sometimes he had a good time when he was out with the others, but his life had changed so much… Odd as it was, some of his best times had been in the Circle. Not because of the Circle itself, but because of the people he had been surrounded by.

---

“You should have fun. It’s important for you to have fun like that again.” He encouraged him, giving his hair another stroke. “I can’t take too much of your time, I told Justice I would not keep you from your work. But perhaps we could go do something fun some time.” He wasn’t really sure what mortals found fun, other than sex and alcohol, but he knew there was more to it than that and maybe they could figure out something the mage would enjoy.

---

The suggestion brought a burst of a chuckle from him. It was so bizarre. A spirit of Compassion suggesting they go do something fun together. “Maybe I need someone like me. Someone like I use to be to teach me to have fun again.” He knew he’d never find someone like that, though, so he would have to make do with what he had. “We’ll go out sometime,” he agreed. To do what, he didn’t know, but a break would be nice and to have someone to go on a break with would also be nice.

---

“I’d like that.” Anders had laughed, so that was a good sign. Perhaps he’d even made a joke and he didn’t know it. “I might not be great at teaching you to have fun again. But between the two of us, maybe we can figure it out.” If nothing else, maybe Anders would get more laughter out of watching him attempt to do something fun.

---

Though he had been uncomfortable with him when he’d first realized what he was and what he’d been doing, he felt differently now. He didn’t know if he truly felt that way or if it was Cole’s doing, but he felt safe with him. The weight that he often bared was eased and he truly felt like he wasn’t alone, even though he knew so little about him.

---

He could feel the difference in him and it put him at ease as well. He was helping, he was making Anders feel better. Better yet, he was accepting of this and what he was so he wouldn’t have to make Anders forget him. “Is there anything else I can do to make you more comfortable?” He was happy to cradle and hold him as he was, but he wondered if there was something else that might bring him comfort.

---

“I don’t know.” He didn’t know what he needed. He’d spent so long ignoring his needs, he couldn’t put words to them. For now, this was enough. Some part of him thought he didn’t even needed this, but clearly he did or he wouldn’t be reacting the way he was to it.

---

“Tell me about the things you enjoy. Tell me what you would like to do for fun.” Maybe they would be like some of the things Cole had considered fun. But maybe not - he’d found that mortals could have very different ideas of what was an enjoyable way to pass the time.

---

“My idea of fun has changed.” Really, it hadn’t, but he had changed. He’d become less reckless, or at least, he’d come to channel his recklessness in a more positive way. “I use to want to throw myself into a rowdy crowd. To get drunk and dance and find someone to drag some place quiet.” Some part of him still yearned to do those things, but the responsible part of him knew he couldn’t. Even if he wanted to, Justice wouldn’t let him. “Now I… sometimes I read. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I go for a walk.” He still liked to be around people, it just seemed like people didn’t like to be around him as much anymore.

---

“Most people find alcohol and sex fun.” It wasn’t universal, but he’d seen enough of it in the thoughts of mortals. “I assume that is what you mean about finding someone to drag some place quiet. I doubt that simply dragging someone anywhere is something you consider fun.” But he wasn’t an expert on fun, so who knew.

---

His lips quirked. “Yes. I miss sex.” It was what he missed most, really. Not that he’d gone completely without since he’d joined with Justice, but he’d only had sex once since they’d joined together years ago. He really did miss it and even now, just thinking about his yearnings for pleasure and satisfaction was greeted with annoyance, since it was a need that Justice didn’t understand.

---

“Cole liked sex too. Especially with one other mage he was fond of. That one was the most fun to him.” He imagined that was why many mortals were monogamous. It was more fun and also more...meaningful to share such things with someone they had feelings for.

---

“Most of us do.” He sounded amused, but also resigned. He’d never get to really enjoy sex again. “Why don’t you tell me what you like to do for fun.” He doubted he’d even have an answer, but maybe. Maybe he would simply tell him what else Cole has enjoyed.

“I like to make people happy. And I like to hear stories, especially ones with animals. I like animals, making them happy is so much simpler than making people happy.” He stroked his fingers through his hair once more, then let his hand rest on the back of his neck, giving direct contact with his skin. “Those things are fun for me.”

---

“They are.” Animals were so simple. Some food, some warmth, some attention, and they were happy as could be. He supposed if he had all of those things himself, he’d be more content. He took in a deep breath, letting it out on a sigh. “Justice doesn’t really care about animals. They have no sense of right or wrong, they just behave based on their instincts.” It was exactly the sort of thing Justice found frustrating about humans - not only did they intentionally commit wrongs, but they thoughtlessly committed wrongs as well. After a beat, he went on, “He likes the cats, though.” He smiled.

“They don't need a sense of right and wrong. They don't act maliciously the way people do.” He felt that his affinity for animals was his own, but it was hard to tell if it came from Cole. “I like the cats too. Rabbits are one of my favorites.”

---

“Justice says they do harm one another, though.” It was true, but for them it was survival.

Is it not often survival for people as well?

Often it was, but just as often it wasn’t. He could feel Justice’s agreement, knowing that ultimately only people behaved with malicious intent. Animals were innocent, even as they did what they had to to survive, Justice simply had no use for such creatures.

“They do. But not the way that people do. They speak to me the way people do. They suffer like people, but they aren't cruel the way people can be.” He smiled and stroked his thumb over the back of Anders’ neck. “The pregnant cat outside is loud tonight. She's ready to have her babies, but she knows she'll probably have to wait a few more days.”

---

Anders sat back suddenly, startled and needing to see him. “You can understand animals?” Sure, some mages could turn into animals and some mages could even summon animals, but he’d never heard of anyone speaking to or at least understanding animals.

“Of course I can. They need me just as humans do.” Often because of humans, they needed compassion. He gave him the space to sit back and met his gaze, as well as he could with his hat and hair obscuring his eyes, anyway.

---

He took that in. That was incredible… he’d love to be able to do that. He considered all that he could ask and rather than ask any of it, intrigued as he was, he settled on something simpler. “Then why don’t you tell me why rabbits are your favorite?” What was it about them, since he knew them so intimately?

“They are some of the gentlest creatures I know. They don't harm anyone or anything. Besides that, they're very soft and cute.” He wished people were more like rabbits. “But I understand the need for predators. It's part of the reason I brought the cats here. They are fed on the mice and rats around your clinic, which keeps your workspace more sanitary.”

---

He had noticed that. “You’ve been helpful.” Even now, he’d helped, though Anders didn’t think he should ask for any more. “Thank you, Cole, but I think there are others that need you right now.” He thought he’d gotten enough from him and he couldn’t take up any more of his time.

“There are.  I need to help a family find food tonight. And I need to visit the family of the boy who died in the fire today. But I was going to stay with you until you fell asleep tonight if that would help you.” If it would help him sleep peacefully, he could give him comfort while he drifted off.

---

The mention of the family of the boy made him feel guilty. They needed comfort far more than he did. “I’ll be okay,” he assured him, slipping off of his lap and standing, going to gather what food he had in the clinic. He packed it all in a bag and then returned to him. “Here, take this to the hungry family.” As far as the family of the boy… there was nothing he could give them that would help.

“You have not eaten tonight either. Keep your food, Anders. I have a place to send this family. A man who has more food than he can sell and likes to help.” He stood from the man's cot and nodded to the bag. “Have a good meal before you sleep. You need it and I can help the others you so often give your food to.”

---

He frowned a little, looking at the bag in his hand, but nodded. He was hungry. He set the bag down on the cot. “Okay, I’ll see you later.” If he came back, that was.

Tell him that I said goodbye, he cannot hear me.

Couldn’t he? He thought about it and realized that he was right. Cole hadn’t reacted or responded to any Justice’s thoughts or feelings. They’d talked when he’d taken control.

“Justice says goodbye… and that it was nice to meet you.”

He smiled at that. It had been nice meeting another spirit. “Goodnight, Justice. Goodnight, Anders.” Rather than walk out of the clinic, he simply vanished as if he had never been there in the first place. He would be back and when he returned, perhaps he could try to get Anders to have some fun.

Chapter Text

A few days later, Cole returned to the clinic when he was needed. He’d been wanting to visit the mage and spirit again anyway, but Darktown kept him very busy. Day and night there were cries for help to answer. It was fulfilling to be so needed somewhere and he was glad that his duty found him in the clinic once more.

This time it was not a group of men who called to him, but a young girl. Her father had been robbed in the street and was seeing the healer of Darktown to tend to the shallow stab wound he’d gotten in the process. He was relieved himself - he had gotten out of it with his life and they hadn’t laid a hand on his daughter. But the girl was badly shaken and she was weeping into her hands while the man removed his tunic for Anders to look at the wound.

Cole stepped into the clinic and though the girl looked up to him, her father didn’t seem to see him. He nodded to Anders, but went right to the frightened child, kneeling to level himself to her height. “Don’t be afraid. I took care of those bad men. Your father will be just fine, this is my friend Anders and he’ll take very good care of him.”

---

As always, Anders looked up and for a beat, he was surprised to see him. When he saw him approach the girl, however, he realized why he was here. He gave her a sympathetic look, but since the spirit had it handled, he focused on taking care of her father, just like Cole promised.

The wound itself wasn’t bad and he said as much, both for the man’s benefit and the daughter’s, “As far as stab wounds go, this is as harmless as it gets.” Even without him, the man would have been fine with some stitches. “This’ll take just a second.” He hovered his hand over the wound and there was some brief light and warmth that emanated from it and he pulled his hand away.  “Good as new!”

“Your father will find the money they took and a little extra at home.” Cole told the girl as she wiped at her eyes and when Anders announced that her father was good as new, he went on. “I'm sorry those men hurt him, but there are good men like the healer to help.”

The girl smiled and left Cole to go embrace her father once the healing was done. The man put an arm around her in return to give her a brief squeeze before dressing himself again. “Thank you, Healer. Those men took everything I had with me, but I have a little savings at home. I'll come back to pay you, if that's alright…”

---

“No, keep your money.” He didn’t want payment from anyone and especially someone that had been robbed and had a daughter to take care of. “You have more important things to spend it on.” He gave his daughter a smile and then, with a nod, he moved back to give him space to slip off his work table.

“Thank you.” He gave him a smile and when he was put back together, he eased himself down off of the table and lead his daughter from the clinic. The little girl gave Anders and Cole a wave on her way out.

Cole rose to his feet and looked to Anders. “He wants to bring you some food tomorrow since you don't want his money. He also thought you were very handsome.” The man hadn't been bad looking himself, maybe he could nurture that idea.

---

Anders waved in response, watching them go and glad to see that the girl was feeling better. It was funny, as fragile as children's’ emotions were, they had a ridiculous capacity to bounce back.

He looked at Cole when he addressed him and his brows lifted. “...I see.” He wasn’t sure why he thought he ought to know that, but admittedly, it made him perk. He hadn’t felt handsome in a long time and though sometimes he was hit on, it wasn’t often these days.

It was nice to know someone thought he was attractive. He would turn away the food when he brought it, but he would appreciate that the man would enjoy looking at him while he was here.

“How are you?” He hadn’t seen him in a few days and he hadn’t been sure he was still around.

The question caught him off guard. No one ever asked how he was. “I'm doing well. I've had a lot to do here. Not only in Darktown, there is a lot of need in all of Kirkwall.” But Darktown most of all. “I was looking forward to seeing you again when that little girl called me here.”

---

“Have you gone to the Circle?” There was so much good he could do there, especially if he could come and go without being seen. It seemed to hit him as he said it and even Justice’s interest strike him suddenly. He could be invaluable to the Mage Underground, to get information that no one else could possibly hope to get.

He was so caught up in what he realized that he didn’t even register what he had to say next.

“Oh yes. It's...difficult for me to be there, but I can help, so I've been there. I could do so much more if I could get through to the Knight Commander, but she hasn't been willing to listen to me.” He had that problem with templars often. Their fear of what they didn't understand made them far less open to him.

---

He looked at him intently, suddenly all that mattered to him was the Underground and what he could do. Justice had pushed to the front of his mind, not taking over, but definitely there. “You’ll never get through to her, but you could help us…” In a way that went beyond just making people feel better.

“I know I can. I offered to help you with the Underground already.” Cole had expected him to take him up on it at some point. He just hadn't expected such sudden enthusiasm. “I want to help them.”

---

He had, but it hadn’t occurred to them what his help could be. “Then we should go talk to Derric, I’ll introduce you and we can tell him what you are and what you’re capable of and we can figure out how to best utilize your abilities.” He was already grabbing his staff and putting it on, heading for the door.

“Right now? I thought we would take some time for you this evening. You haven't taken time for yourself and it would be good for you.” Even as he said it, he followed. He would do what he wanted.

---

“This is more important.” He knew Cole wanted him to stop pushing himself so hard, but it was hard to step back. If he did, he was putting himself above others and he couldn’t do that when they needed him so badly. Justice was completely brushing off the notion of taking time for themselves, especially now, and pushing him forward. He shut and locked the door behind him and put the lantern out as he passed by it.

“It is important, but you are also important.” He fell into step beside him, knowing there would be no convincing him to take it easy tonight. “I will meet with the Underground tonight and show them what I can do, but tomorrow when you close the clinic I want to do something for you.”

---

Anders glanced at him and gave a curt nod. If there was time, then they could do whatever it was he had in mind, though he did think Cole’s time would be better utilized in the Circle. There was no telling how much could get done if he stayed there and reported back each day.

Please, I have this, Justice. I will make sure we get him to Derric.

He finally recognized how much his thoughts were being influenced.

“I will have the time to do both, Justice. I need no rest and I travel quickly.” He could tell from what he heard from Anders that Justice was pushing him hard. He was also a bit distracted as they walked, hearing the overlapping mental voices of others and listening for anyone who needed him.

---

Anders gave him a fleeting look, before fixing his eyes on their destination. They were almost there and they would probably be there for some time. He imagined that Derric and the others would want to study Cole, if he was willing, and he had to admit that he was curious as well, but Justice gave another push. He was the most curious of them all, but it was not the time.

Chapter Text

As expected, the mages has been stunned and fascinated to meet Cole. After bombarding him with questions and using magic to test him, including one or two questionable spells, they’d settled down and began discussing what he could do for them. Anders had gotten his share of curiosity as well - the mages already found him interesting thanks to Justice and now he’d found a wandering Compassion spirit - but it was only cursory, as Cole had stolen the show.

When all was said and done and Cole had his mission laid out for him - to simply gather what information he could. Things that they wouldn’t know and wouldn’t have access to. A simple mission, but one that would prove his value to their cause. From there, if what he provided was accurate and helpful, they could determine how best to utilize him.

When they left the hideout, they parted ways and Anders thanked him for coming along and agreeing to help them. It was… nice to have someone as invested as he was.

By the next day, Anders had gotten caught up in his work and whatever Cole was up to was in the back of his mind. Still there, but not at the forefront of his thoughts as it had been all night. There was a steady flow of people and he’d been allowed only minimal breaks. He’d managed to scarf down some bread and broth at one point, but otherwise he was working consistently through the morning and into the middle of the afternoon.

It finally slowed down enough that he could clean up somewhat, though he was being careful not to disturb an older woman that was currently sleeping in one of his cots.

During the lull in Anders’ day, the man he'd healed from the mugging the day before came to the clinic. He brought a basket with him with everything he'd been able to throw together - some sliced meats and cheeses as well as some fresh fruits. Not much of any of it, but it was what he could spare. He came without his daughter this time and as he approached the healer, he greeted him with a warm smile. “I can't thank you enough for yesterday. I know it wasn't a big deal, but my little girl was very shaken and having you heal me so quickly really helped her.”

---

When Anders saw who it was and what he had, he couldn’t help smiling. Cole has been right, or at least, the man hadn’t changed his mind about bringing him food. “Oh, no thanks necessary, I’m happy to help.” He gave him more of a look over than he had the previous day. “I do hope she’s feeling better.”

“She is, thank you.” Seeing him smile made his expression warm and he offered him the basket. “Please take this. It isn't much, but I'd like to give you something. I had a little more to spare at home than I thought I did.”

---

He looked at the basket. It looked good and his stomach gave a grumble, but he ignored it. “That’s thoughtful of you and I appreciate it, but you should keep it. I know how hard it can be to get food sometimes and I’d rather you feed your family first.” He always tried to turn down these sorts of gifts, but if the person was insistent, he would take it and simply give it to someone else.

---

“Please…” He continued to hold out the basket, hoping he would change his mind. “My little Willow helped me pack this for you. It would mean a lot to both of us if we could find some way to repay you. There aren’t enough people like you who would help us without asking for anything in return.”

---

He moved closer and took the basket. “Thank you.” Maybe he’d have a little bit of meat and cheese before he gave it away. It’d been a while since he’d had either. He gave him another smile and then went to his desk to set it down. “How’s the wound?” Non-existent, but he always liked to check in, just in case something was still bothering them.

---

“It’s as if it never happened.” He watched him closely, then realized he was staring and glanced away with a sheepish smile. “Everyone around here calls you ‘Healer’, but I’d like to know your name. Would you tell me?”

---

Even if Cole hadn’t told him what the man was thinking, he would’ve noticed that. He looked away, amused and feeling pretty good about himself. “Anders. I tell anyone who asks - they just never do.” He returned to what he’d been doing, but the effort was distracted, glancing at him. He was curious if the basket was all he had in mind and the wondering alone was pleasant, though he could feel Justice’s bemusement.

---

“Anders…” He liked the name, it seemed to suit him. “I’m Milos. I know you’re a very busy man...but I was wondering if maybe I could take you out for a drink some time. Or maybe a walk outside of town.” The second suggestion came to him seemingly out of nowhere, but he got a strange intuition that he might have better luck suggesting that than a drink.

---

That wasn’t a suggestion anyone had ever made before. He knew he couldn’t, but entertaining the thought even briefly was nice. He kind of wanted to, just to feel more like himself, but as with every patient who had tried, he had to turn him down. “That sounds really nice, but I can’t. I’m sorry.” He didn’t offer any explanation and he didn’t think he needed to, he was sure the man would accept the answer and move on.

---

He looked disappointed, but he put on a smile anyway. “I understand. Well, enjoy the basket. And thank you again.” With that, he turned to take his leave, glad that at least his gift had been accepted.

---

He watched him go and when he was gone, his shoulders sank a little. He could feel his loneliness acutely, but he knew the feeling would fade. He just needed to get back to work, so he did just that, throwing himself into cleaning up, just in case another wave of people came rolling through.

---

“You should have said yes. He’s a nice man.” Cole said, suddenly manifested in the clinic and helping with the cleaning. “Just a little lonely, like you are.” He had hoped that his little nudging with the man would help.

---

Anders jumped, his heart shooting into his throat. “Cole!” He could feel it thumping hard, frightened by his sudden appearance in the otherwise quiet clinic. “How long have you been here?!” Long enough to listen to their conversation, clearly, and… had he done something?

---

“Just a few moments.” He could tell he’d frightened him and he moved to put a hand on his arm, trying to use the magic that came naturally with his touch to soothe him. “I’m sorry. I forget to use the door sometimes. That is probably a little startling for you.”

---

He took a deep breath, his eyes going to the woman sleeping on the other side of the room. It seemed she was still out and seeing that, he was able to calm completely. “...Did you have anything to do with that?”

---

“I did help him suggest the walk but only because I know you no longer drink. The rest was him.” He didn’t have it in him to lie about it and say that he’d been completely uninvolved. “He was really hoping you’d give him a chance.”

---

That was actually a little disappointing. The walk had been the most intriguing part of the offer, but that was only because Cole told him what to say. “I’m sure he was. Unfortunately, I can’t give anyone a chance.” He looked at him. “Why are you here? Is something wrong?”

Why isn’t he at the Circle?

---

“I told you I would be back tonight because you need to take time for yourself. You could have spent that time with Milos. Why do you feel you can’t give anyone a chance? You miss having a relationship, it could make you happy.” He withdrew his hand from him now that he was comfortable and got back to work in cleaning.

---

“While true, it’s not quite night yet.” He’d forgotten about that, but even if he had remembered, he wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d gotten too busy to stop by. Justice felt that he ought to be too busy to be here, though Anders could tell that he was always a little happy to see him. “It’s a distraction that I can’t afford and even if I could, I’ve nothing to offer anyone. I’m a mage, an abomination, and I have no time.” He could mean that two different ways - he had no time to spend with someone else and he had no time left in his life. He meant both.

---

“No, but I was on this side of town anyway.” He shook his head. “You have plenty to offer. You’re very good for a mortal. Milos knows you’re a mage, obviously, and a spirit does not make you an abomination. A demon would. You could share your evenings with another and you are likely not at the end of your life. There have not been many Wardens inhabited by spirits, after all.”

---

The wording made him snort. Good for a mortal. He didn’t agree though, he did think he was an abomination, regardless of what Justice was. Especially considering the corruption he’d caused him. Justice didn’t like being called an abomination. He thought it was a word that ought to be reserved for demons only and he really didn’t like it when Anders fixated on the ‘corruption’. He refused to see it as Anders did, but it didn’t feel good to know how much he regretted their joining and how little he thought of them.

Anders had already moved past that part of the conversation and he was looking at him intently. “What are you saying? The taint won’t kill me?” That was impossible, wasn’t it?

---

“I doubt that it will. Not with Justice to fortify your mind. I don’t know much about Wardens with spirits or demons, other than what I’ve heard in Circles, but I haven’t heard of any of them getting their Calling.” He couldn’t be sure. “I can’t make you promises. But I can suggest that you don’t neglect yourself and your happiness as if you expect that your life is already over.”

---

Can I talk to him?

Anders was clearly thinking hard and the spirit snapped him out of his thoughts. He hadn’t realized that he’d looked back at the door, staring at it without seeing. What is it? Is something wrong?

I do not like this intervention. I would like to talk to him.

Anders sighed. “Cole, Justice would like to speak with you.”

---

“He is welcome to speak to me whenever he likes.” He said without looking up from his cleaning. “But if you're hoping to catch up with Milos, you might want to do that first. It's up to you.”

---

That left him stuck, his feet wanting to move, but remaining in place.

We do not have time for this. You do not need to be distracted. You have responsibilities and dividing your time even further will only make things harder for us.

It’s just a walk. A walk that he sometimes went on by himself. What could it hurt?

It may turn into more than a walk.

All the better, wasn’t it?

Cole could hear the conflict, one side of it anyway, and looked up to them. “He has more time to spare, Justice. I am here to help. Mortals need these connections with each other in their lives. Go on, Anders. I will take care of things here while you're gone.”

---

There was a beat in which he remained frozen, then he lurched forward, running toward the door. He wasn’t sure he’d even be able to catch up to him and he couldn’t see him, so he called his name. He knew it might be too late, but on the off chance that he was in earshot, it was worth a try.

Milos was not all that far, having stopped to play with one of the cats outside of the clinic. When he heard his name called, his heart picked up a little. The healer came after him? “Anders?” He called back, turning on his heels to head back toward the clinic.

---

As soon as he heard him, he flushed, and as soon as he saw him, he was thoroughly embarrassed. Still, he approached him. “Uh, hi. I was just wondering if you still wanted to go on that walk sometime.” He hated how hot he felt, but it would have been a lot smoother to simply accept the offer than to run after him.

He smiled brightly, having thought it was more likely that he forgot something at the clinic than Anders actually accepting an invitation. “Sure! When do you want to go? I could meet you at your clinic and we could go from there…”

---

He thought about it. Didn’t Cole want to do something tonight? But then again, he’d said he could have spend that time tonight with Milos. “I’m not busy tonight, if you want.” He shrugged slightly, trying not to put any significance into it.

“Then I'll come back tonight. Willow and my sister can have a girl's night.” A moonlight stroll wasn't what he'd normally suggest to get to know someone, but he was glad he did. There was something more romantic about it than going out for a drink.

---

“Alright, I’ll see you then.” After an awkward pause, he gave him a smile and then turned and headed back to the clinic.

You are happy.

I am.

“See you tonight.” Milos seemed so pleased as he turned and started for home again.

Cole had finished the cleaning and he smiled when Anders returned. “So, how did it go?”

---

“You already know,” answered, though it was nice that he was thoughtful enough to ask. “I suppose we’ll have to do something another time.”

I would like to talk to him still.

Alright, fine, but please… he is right. I need this, even if it’s only for tonight.

Justice could feel it and he wasn’t going to argue, but he still wanted to talk to Cole, so he pushed forward.

“There will be other nights.” He would prefer Anders spend his evening with another mortal. That ultimately had more potential to make him happy than he did. When he saw Justice push forward, he knew the spirit was probably less than pleased with him. “Hello, Justice.”

---

“Hello.” He considered him. “You are encouraging him to splinter his time even further. I know this makes him happy and I want him to be happy, but this will be a distraction.” He didn’t like it and he didn’t like that the solutions were either to let Anders have what he wanted at the expense of others, or take away his happiness.

That wasn’t particularly just either, was it?

“He needs distraction. You'll see, he'll be more productive if he's thriving.” He said gently, knowing that they understood the needs of mortals differently. “I will pick up some of the weight for him. I've collected information in the Circle just today that Bob said it would have taken weeks to get normally. I am here and Anders can have some space for himself.”

---

“What he needs and what I need are different things. I need to become like you are. I need a body of my own. I can free Anders of this burden and he can chase his happiness,” He sounded somewhat derisive about it, as if Anders would give up everything they were working toward if given the chance, “And I can be free to do what needs to be done, instead of forever waiting.”

“Our needs are not important. This is their world.” He moved closer to him. Perhaps Justice needed him as much as Anders did. “He doesn't want to give up on the things you're working on. His emotions are what fed your devotion to this cause. But he needs time for himself as well. He needs both.”

---

He frown at him. “You say that, but you are able to do as you please. You are able to fulfill your purpose - you meet your needs every day. You do not understand what it is like to exist as I do.” He didn’t hate it, but he did feel stifled. “I… I understand that they are different. That they are all of us at once. I know there is value in all that he feels, but there is so much corruption in the world.” Not in them. “There is so much inaction. The inaction is worse than the corruption and if we waste too much time, then we are contributing to it.”

“I don't know what it's like to share a body, no. I can only understand to the degree that Cole's anger changed me.” He moved closer still and touched his arm, hoping to soothe him. “If he goes days on end without doing anything for those that need healing or the mages, then I will agree that he has lost his way. But taking an evening to go on a walk with another man once in a while does not make him part of the problem with this world.”

---

Their jaw tightened. Anders’ anger gave him focus, that was all. He’d seen the plight of the mages through him before, but he hadn’t felt it until they had become one. He looked down at the hand on their arm and his frown deepened. He could feel the magic he was attempting to use on him and he could feel the calming effect, just like when he’d done it to Anders.

He looked troubled, but eventually their head fell. “He is not,” he agreed, knowing that Anders couldn’t be further from the problem… He was the solution and that was why he pushed so hard.

He nodded, glad he had agreed. He put his hands on his shoulders, finding that the contact seemed to be helping. “Of course he is not, but he is not the only solution either. He is doing more than his part in this already and so are you. This is a collective effort and he can't have the weight on his shoulders as if he is the only solution. Neither can you.”

---

Justice could feel the anger in him fading. He thought about Kristoff, when his purpose had been avenging his death and fixing the wrong that he’d done his wife by taking her husband’s body.

Things had been simpler then. He’d spent so much time in Vigil’s Keep, learning what it was to be a mortal on this world. He’d helped the Warden Commander often, had done so much good alongside Anders and the others, but he hadn’t been consumed by it.

He took a deep breath. “Very well. I will try to push him less.” He felt he already had, but he would even further. “I would still like to try to find a way to make a body of my own - will you help me?”

“Thank you.” He was relieved, feeling his fellow spirit calm. “I will try to help make you like I am. I want to help you both.” They both needed him, just in different ways. He hadn't realized it until he'd really understood the spirit’s frustration.

---

“Okay, then we will talk more of this later.” He needed to give control back to Anders, just in case someone came in. With a final look and a nod, he fell back into his place.

Anders felt the hands on him and when he focused, he saw Cole standing right in front of him. “Is everything alright?” He posed the question at both of them.

Yes, I have decided that it will not be bad for you to take the time you need for yourself.

Cole was glad to still be holding onto him - it seemed jarring for Anders to come back and it seemed like a good idea to steady him. “Everything is fine. I should get back to the Circle, there is a changing of the guards soon. I'll come back a little before you normally close, I can help take care of the clinic while you get ready for your night out with Milos.”

---

He was a little more jarred by what Justice had to tell him. “...What did you say to him?” What could he have possibly said to convince him?

He’s made me think.

And I haven’t?

It is different coming from someone that is like me. He understands you better than I do. There was a little bit of insecurity that came with the explanation, Justice feeling a strange surge of possessiveness. He thought he understood Anders better than anyone, maybe just not the complexity of his emotions and how to manage them.

“I told him that a little distraction is good for you. That you will not give up your work.” He looked him over, making sure he was steady before releasing him. “He would like to be more like me. I told him I would try to help.”

---

That was all? He felt a little annoyed by that, but Justice simply reaffirmed what he’d already said. It was different coming from Cole.

“Like you?” What did that mean?

I would like a body of my own.

It took him a moment to process that. You want to leave me?

No, I want to stay with you, but without being tied to you. 

Won’t that kill me?

If I simply leave you, yes, but there might be another way.

“He wants a body without mortal needs like mine. If we could move him safely. I don't know if it is possible, I don't even know if there are others like me.” He wished he understood how this had happened to him, then he could be of more help.

---

Anders didn’t know how to feel about that. He knew it would be better for both of them, but what would it be like to have his body to himself? He could barely remember what it was like to be truly alone and as lonely as he already was…

“Okay, we’ll talk about that later.” He focused on Cole, “You should get going so you’re not late.”

“I should, I don't want to miss it.” He had work to do and he might be needed by someone on the way. “I'll be back soon.” He would take care of the clinic so neither Anders nor Justice had to worry about it while they were out.

---

“See you then.”  He got back to work. Since no one else was there, he started to wash up some empty jars to be used again for his salves, his mind on Milos and the walk they would be taking later.

Chapter Text

Cole returned before Milos, as promised, but he was running later than he'd hoped. It had turned out to be an eventful day. When he got back into the clinic, he was relieved to find Anders alone. He remembered to use the door this time, at least.

“Sorry I'm late. Let me clean up in here, Anders. You can go wash up and get ready for your walk with Milos.”

---

Anders looked up when Cole stepped in. “Alright, if you want.” He could have finished this himself, but the help would be nice. He locked the door to ensure privacy, not wanting anyone walking in while he was naked… especially not Milos. Though maybe that would be a fun way to start the night. He smiled to himself.

He moved to clean out the basin and refill it with fresh water, warming it. Then he stripped down. He was use to bathing in front of others after years in the Circle and the Wardens, so he wasn’t completely shy, but he did prefer not to be seen bare these days.

He didn’t really think that Cole would be paying attention to him, though, so it wasn’t as if it would matter. He began to scrub himself pink, wanting to get as clean as possible with what little water he had.

Cole wasn't watching, busying himself with cleaning up the place. He hummed to himself as he worked, his mood better than it had been in some time. He was doing a lot of good here and beyond the suffering in individuals he was easing, he was helping the mages on a larger scale. But now he was especially happy that Anders would be going on his first date in a very long time.

---

When he finished wiping himself clean, he gave his hair a through scrubbing and then used some heat to help it dry, before pulling it back. All that was left to shave and he did so with the help of a small mirror propped up against the basin.

When he dressed, he looked about the same as usual, but he felt better.

Cole had the clinic clean by the time he was finished and had moved on to organizing his supplies. He looked up to Anders and seeing that he was all put together, he smiled. “Are you excited for an evening out of town?”

---

“It will be nice to get out.” He was excited, but he felt a bit silly saying so, so he was toning down his response. He doubted anything would come of this, but that wasn’t really the point of it for him. Just this alone was enough for him. He glanced at the door, as if that would bring him any sooner.

---

There wasn't much longer to wait. When the knock came at the door, the spirit was relieved. He would have hated for Anders to get ready for this only to have something come up - an emergent patient or Milos not coming. He could feel the mage’s excitement and it could have easily turned to disappointment. But an equally excited man was on the other side of the door and he smiled to himself as he worked.

---

He moved to answer the door, trying not to get ahead of himself. It might not even be him. He unlocked the door and opened and when he saw him standing there, he smiled. “Oh, hello.” As if he hadn’t been expecting him. “I’ll be ready to go in just a moment - I just need to grab my staff.” He didn’t know if Milos was the sort of man to wield a weapon - probably not judging by what had happened to him - but he would feel naked without his staff. He quickly did just that, putting in on his back then returning to the door.

---

Milos was dressed far better than he had been earlier that day, though even his finer clothes looked a bit old and worn. His brows raised at the mention of his staff - he wasn’t planning on taking him anywhere dangerous, but one could never be too careful. He had just gotten a rather painful reminder of that.

When Anders returned to the door, he flashed him a smile. “Let’s get going. I know just where to take you.”

---

“Alright.” He stepped out of the clinic and shut the door behind him. He went ahead and locked it as well, because apparently things like doors mattered little to Cole. When he was done, he looked him over and he couldn’t help but feel a little sheepish.

“You look nice.” Anders, of course, was wearing the same robes he always did. “I would’ve changed, but… I don’t really have anything to change into.” He sounded sheepish and even a little ashamed, but he was brushing it off.

---

“That’s okay. You look great just as you are.” It didn't bother him at all that he didn't change. Or that he had nothing to change into. “I don't exactly have much of a wardrobe either.” He offered his arm to him but he looked a little sheepish as well, unsure if that was too forward.

---

He saw the offer and warmed. It was so strange - he hadn’t felt like this around someone since he was young and didn’t know what he was doing. It’d been so long, he felt like he didn’t know what he was doing any more than he had than. He took his arm and continued forward, “Where are we going then?” Or was he not allowed to know?

---

“It’s a clear night. There’s a little lake nearby and it’s very pretty there when there’s enough moonlight on the water.” He said with a coy little smile. There was no such lake within walking distance.

---

“Sounds lovely.” It did and he was looking forward to seeing it, curious if he already knew of it or not. After a beat, he went on. “So, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?” All he knew was his name and that he had a daughter and a sister. He often got to know his patients, usually if they were frequent visitors, but he hadn’t ‘gotten to know’ someone in a long time.

---

“There isn’t all that much to know about me. I live just a little outside of Kirkwall. Our family home was there but I wanted to move into the city so when I was young I apprenticed under a blacksmith and eventually became a jeweler. But after my wife died, I had to move back out of town with my little girl, so my sister shares the place with us.” He didn’t like being in the city all that well and it was a relief when they got through the gates and were on the outside of the city. “What about you? Your story is probably far more interesting than mine.”

---

“A jeweler. That is interesting. I cannot imagine creating such fine crafts.” It was such painstaking work, or so he imagined. “I’d like living outside of Kirkwall, I think, but then again, I’d also like living outside of the sewers.” Anything would be an improvement, but it was where he was needed and where he didn’t have to spend coin.

“I don’t know that my story is all that interesting.” Objectively, probably, but as someone who tried to put his past behind him, to look forward, it felt like there wasn’t much to say. “I was taken into the Circle as a boy, I escaped a few times. I eventually escaped for good. I became a Grey Warden. I escaped that. I came to Kirkwall and the clinic just sort of… fell into my lap. It’s what I’ve occupied myself with since.”

---

“I prefer living out of the city. I guess it wasn’t everything I hoped it would be when I was young. And I really liked being a jeweler. I miss it sometimes.” The healer’s supposedly uninteresting history stunned him and he laughed softly under his breath. “A mage who has escaped both the Circle and the Wardens and now spends his days healing people like me. You’re really something, Anders.”

---

“Is there a reason why you couldn’t continue?” Perhaps he didn’t have the things he needed at home, but was there any reason why he couldn’t still work in the city? He felt a little shy. “I don’t know about that. A lot of the people I hang around with are just as interesting, if not more interesting, than I am. All I’ve really done is run away. It’s what I’m best at, I suppose.”

---

“I sold it all trying to save my wife. First my inventory, then my shop, finally my tools. It was years ago, I don’t miss it as sorely as I used to.” He gave his arm a little squeeze. “You’ll be disappointed in me then. I’m dull as a stump compared to your friends.”

---

He looked at him sympathetically. “I’m sorry.” He immediately found himself wondering what he could do to help. He wasn’t sure. He’d have to think about it or ask Cole if he had any ideas. “No, I rather like that you’ve lead a simpler life. It is something I often yearned for when I was younger.” A simple life… that included riches, of course. Now he’d settle for the simple life, but he knew it wasn’t in the cards for him.

“Too much excitement can be rather dull.”

---

“I guess that’s true. At least my simple life is something different.” He had been leading him down the road for a little while and he looked to him with a smile. “I know I asked you to go out on a walk with me, but you don’t mind if we don’t walk the entire way, do you?” He asked, whistling before waiting for an answer.

---

The question surprised him. He glanced around, as if to look for what he was whistling for. A horse? Or horses? “I suppose not, but what is this about?” He was taken aback and curious.

---

The horses and the carriage they pulled could be heard before they came into view. The two white mares stopped in front of Milos and he patted their necks before leading Anders to the passenger side of the carriage. “I thought maybe we’d ride the rest of the way.”

---

His stomach fluttered. “Are these your horses?” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d ridden in a carriage, but he climbed right up into the seat when they reached it. He was thoroughly intrigued and impressed, not having expected him to bother with this much.

---

“They are. It was the family business I left when I moved into the city. But my jeweler days are done and the horses help me make enough to keep my family fed. They also come in handy when I’m trying to impress a date.” He said with a sheepish little smile as he settled into his seat and picked up the reins, getting the horses moving with a click of his tongue.

---

“Oh, so you go on many dates then?” He watched him, more interested in him than anything else, even though there was a lot to see. Ignoring the horses and the carriage entirely, it was a beautiful night and it wasn’t often he got to enjoy the air or the scenery like this.

---

Milos laughed and shook his head. “No, I’m rusty. If you didn’t like the carriage ride or I said something dumb to offend you, I brought emergency chocolates to try to win you over. I’d be a little more confident if I was a man who went on many dates.”

---

He grinned, charmed by his honesty and his effort. “Well then, consider me impressed.” He scooted a little closer to him, letting himself lean ever so lightly into him.

---

He smiled, feeling he must be doing something right. He returned the slight lean, keeping quiet for the time being. The beat of the hooves and the steady roll of the wheels were enough to fill the silence and he was content to enjoy the company of the man beside him.

It would have taken quite awhile to reach the lake on foot, but it was a short and simple ride in the carriage. He parked the carriage on a hilltop that overlooked the water. Fortune had smiled on him and there still wasn’t a cloud in the sky, making the water below glimmer in moonlight. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

---

It wasn’t a lake he’d ever be to before, but he thought he might recognize it from a map he’d seen. “Yes, it’s lovely.” It really was and rather liked the view. “Should we get out and walk around it or simply enjoy it from up here?” Either way would be nice.

“We can stay up here if you like. You've probably had a long day already.” Besides, he liked how close they were now. He let his hand brush lightly against Anders’. “It's been nice to get out tonight and spend some time getting to know you a little.”

---

He looked at him and then down and their hands. “Yeah, I haven’t done anything like this in a long time.” He turned his hand over and left it open. “I still hardly know you, though. I’d like to know more.”

“What more would you like to know?” He set his hand in Anders’ and laced their fingers. “I'm an open book. But turnabout is fair play, you have to tell me more about yourself.”

---

He held his hand in return, finding the touch so incredible after having gone so long without even this. “Well, why don’t you tell me about your daughter and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know?”

“You want to know about Willow?” He sounded pleasantly surprised. “She'll  be five next month. She was only two when we had to leave Kirkwall, but I think it’s better for her. She loves the horses and the wide open spaces to run and play. She does like to come into the city with me though. Even after how rattled she was by seeing those men attack me, she said she wasn’t afraid to come with me. She said the bad men were gone now and I don’t have the heart to tell her that Kirkwall has no shortage of bad men. But you helping us and asking nothing in return...it was nice for her to see that there are good men out there too.”

---

“She’s a sweet girl.” Even from what he’d just seen, he liked her. He liked most children. “I always wanted to have children.” Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be having any himself. Even if Cole was right and he wasn’t going to die in the next few years, he knew he wasn’t in a place to have children. The most he could hope for was maybe a relationship… but that was getting ahead of himself when Justice was only just allowing this.

“You seem like you would be a good father.” He had the right temperament, anyway. “I would have loved to have more children. But we only had Willow and I'm lucky to have her.” He studied him, brushing his thumb absently over the back of his hand. “Were you ever married, Anders? Between all of your adventures, it seems like it would be hard to find the time to settle down.”

---

“No, never married.” He didn’t have much experience with relationships at all. “Mostly just flings… some that stuck around longer than others, but only one lasted longer than a few weeks.”

“Really? I would have guessed you to be a long-term relationship sort of man. I know if you were mine, a few weeks wouldn't be enough.” He flushed a little after he said it, a shy smile on his lips.

---

He flushed a little himself, but he looked pleased. “I’d like something like that, it just hasn’t happened for me. Relationships, normal ones anyway, are hard to come by in the Circle. And you’re right - since then I have been busy.”

“I'm glad you could take a little time out for me. I'm sure it's hard to get away from your clinic.” He had heard that it was a very busy place long before he'd ever needed to visit the healer himself. “What do you like to do when you can take an evening off?”

---

“I never really take time for myself, to be honest. When I’m not working in the clinic, I’m off helping my friends with whatever they need.” And working for the Mage Underground, but he didn’t need to know about that right now.

“If I do get free time, though, I might read or write. Sometimes I take a walk, but I suppose that could also count as work since I use the opportunity to collect herbs.”

“I like to read too. I'm not much of a writer, Willow says even the bedtime stories I make up for her are terrible.” He smiled and leaned into him a little more. “Well, no working allowed tonight. You've earned a night off.”

---

He chuckled. “Well, my writing isn’t very interesting, either. It’s more academic than anything.” He could tell stories though. Not as well as Varric, but better than the rest of them. Well, except perhaps Isabela.

“It’s nice to have some time to do nothing. Sometimes I forget what that’s like. Though, I suppose I do go to The Hanged Man to spend time with my friends, on occasion, but I don’t quite fit in with them.” He liked it… but when he couldn’t really indulge like them, it felt like going was an obligation more than anything.

“The Hanged Man? I haven't been there in years. Maybe we can go together sometime.” He found his eyes wandering to his staff, curious after never seeing one up close. “What do you like to write about?”

---

“Maybe.” Probably not, as he didn’t really want any of his friends assuming anything. He shrugged noncommittally. “Oh, like I said. Nothing interesting. Just how mages are treated terribly and how we should abolish Circles.” He cleared his throat and then quickly moved on. “What about you? What do you do for fun?”

---

“That...sounds pretty interesting, actually. I don't know a whole lot about the Circles myself but they scare me. My Willow has an aunt on her mother's side who is a mage. If she ends up with magic...I would never let her end up in a place like that.” He considered the question then and looked back to Anders. “I like to go for walks or go out riding. Sometimes I come out here to fish or just to enjoy the lake. but most of the time I just do whatever my daughter thinks would be fun.”

---

That made both of them feel better. Then again, if he had a problem that he was a mage, he probably wouldn’t have asked him out like this. “I’m sure spending time with her is a lot of fun.” He reached for their held hands with his other one, holding Milos’ between both of his own.

---

“It is. The games she comes up with are so funny. She can take something so mundane and make it an adventure.” He smiled fondly and when he felt Anders’ hand over his, he leaned into him a little more. “But she’s getting to an age where she is wanting to spend some time with my sister separately. It hurt my feelings a little at first, but I understand that Mara is the closest thing she has to a mother and she needs that in her life. But that also gives me the opportunity to take a little time for myself. To sit by the lake with a handsome healer.”

---

“Tired healer is more like it.” Still, it felt good to know what someone found him handsome still. He didn’t really feel handsome these days and so he would take what he could get, especially since Milos was cute himself. “I’ll take ‘handsome’ though. Sounds better.”

---

“Who says you can’t be tired and handsome at the same time?” He chuckled. “Part of my strategy was taking you out after dark so you wouldn’t see how tired I look. But it doesn’t do me much good since you’ve already seen me in the daylight.”

---

He smirked. “I mean, at this point I’ve already seen you without your shirt on. There’s very little you’ve left hidden from me.” There was something he hadn’t seen though and he felt a tightening in his belly even just thinking about it.

---

“That’s true. It was pretty forward of me to undress the first time I met you.” He gave him a sheepish smile. “It seems you have me at a disadvantage, Anders.”

---

“That’s alright. It may well have been a determining factor in my accepting your offer.” It hadn’t been, but he was flirting. He also preferred continuing to pretend that he hadn’t run after him.

---

“Yeah? I’m glad for it then.” He doubted he was being honest, but he was pleased to hear it anyway. “I’m glad you saw me shirtless after a few years working out in the country again. I wasn’t so muscular as a jeweler. In fact, I had money and sedentary work. I was a little chubby at one point.” The idea was funny now that his lifestyle was so different.

---

“Well, you certainly aren’t chubby now.” Far from it. He had looked nice, though at the time he hadn’t really looked at him that way.  He hadn’t put any thought into it at all, actually, and his memory of what he looked like was even foggy.

“Not anymore. Now I’m built like I was back in my teenage years working on the family ranch. Funny that it feels like a lifetime ago, but I promise I’m not all that old.” He wasn’t old at all, but after all that had happened, he felt like it some days.

---

“How old are you?” He wouldn’t mind if he was a bit older or younger than him. He felt old himself, even though he was barely into his thirties. Well, maybe it was a little more than barely now.

---

“I’ll be thirty soon. I don’t imagine you’re far off from my age?” He didn’t look it, anyway. If he was considerably older than him, he wore it well. “Not that age is a big deal for me regardless.”

---

“I’m thirty-three.” So they were pretty close. Most of the people he hung out with were about his age, which was nice. He didn’t think he could keep up with anyone young. He wouldn’t mind someone older, though. Karl would’ve been in his late-forties at this point he felt like he could relate better with someone older anyway.

---

“Good, then neither of us are robbing the cradle.” As much as it didn’t matter to him, it was a relief that they were about the same age, just in case Anders or some of his friends might have balked at a substantial difference. “I wouldn’t know how to entertain someone much younger. A quiet night by the lake is more my speed.”

---

“Me too.” He’d varied his attention between the lake and the man beside him, but now he was just looking at him. He knew that he hadn’t suggested this on his own, but it was still nice that it was something he enjoyed. He felt so warm and his stomach, though mostly settled, was squirming here and there.

---

“I’m glad we’re on the same page then.” They could enjoy something simple together like this. His eyes had been out on the lake and when he found Anders was watching him, he smiled when he met his gaze. He glanced down at his lips, then back up to his eyes. It had been so long since he’d taken anyone out like this and he felt like he didn’t remember exactly how or when to progress these things. But the moment felt right so he followed his gut and leaned in to kiss his lips.

---

He was felt sheepish when he was caught looking, but he kept his eyes on him and as such, saw where Milos’ went. His heart picked up, as did the squirming, and he waited, wanting to see what would happen. When he leaned in, he held his breath and as soon as their lips touched, he leaned in to put his own weight into the kiss as he returned it.

---

He smiled against his lips when it was returned. He let it linger for as long as he dared, then pulled back to meet his gaze. “I did bring those emergency chocolates to make it up to you if it was too soon to kiss you.” He said with a smirk, knowing that since his kiss had been returned, it was most likely welcomed.

---

“Guess we’ll have to share them.” He wouldn’t mind some chocolate, but right now all he really cared about was leaning in to close the distance between them again. He wanted to kiss him some more, knowing that the distaste he felt could be so much worse. He wanted to enjoy this while he could since it might never happen again.

---

His heart fluttered when Anders leaned back in. He returned the kiss and squeezed his hand, closing his eyes as he melted into it. They could enjoy the chocolates on the ride back to Kirkwall together. His lips parted, inviting him to deepen the kiss so he could really get lost in it.

---

Anders slid his tongue into his mouth, his own excitement drowning out whatever it was Justice was feeling. He tasted good and wanted to play with his tongue. So rather than explore, he tried to encourage him to work their tongues together with strokes of his own.

---

His tongue answered him readily, brushing over his to welcome it. His free hand moved up to rest on Anders’ cheek, his thumb brushing over the smooth, freshly-shaved skin. He hadn’t kissed anyone deeply in months and it gave him a thrill he wasn’t expecting.

---

He lifted the hand holding theirs up and rested it against his chest. The kiss was downright passionate on his end, having gone years without kissing anyone like this. It didn’t matter that he barely knew him, just as it wouldn’t really have mattered back then either. The only difference was that it didn’t matter for an entirely different reason.

---

He could feel the excitement in Anders and it fed his own, the kiss quickly growing more heated. It didn’t matter to him either that they didn’t know each other well. They were men that rarely had a free night and they could enjoy it however they wanted. He would get his fill of it while it latest.

---

Anders kept it up, sucking on his lips and his tongue whenever he had an opportunity. Sometimes briefly, sometimes lingering. He pulled his hand away, needing both to touch him, though he refrained from doing more than clutching at his front.

---

Milos made a soft sound against his lips, sucking on his tongue when he caught hold of it. He put his hand on his side, wanting to touch him as well and feeling it was alright since the mages hands were on him. He would have smiled if his mouth wasn’t so busy - he’d been many places in this carriage but it had never seen this much action, as mild as this was.

---

He wished he wasn’t hard. It took so little to work him up and when he broke the kiss, he stayed close to him, trying to catch his breath and gather himself. His body was warm and would need attention before the night was through, but for now, he just needed to calm himself.

---

He had to catch his breath as well, a smile on his lips. “You taste so good…” He murmured to him, his hand stroking absently over his side. He pressed a couple soft kisses to his jaw while they recovered, his own blood starting to heat.

---

“So do you.” As rusty as he thought he was, it hadn’t felt that way when they kissed. Honestly, just being touched at all felt amazing. He’d forgotten what it felt like to have hands on him. He almost needed that more than the kissing. Cole had held him and that had helped, but it was different when it was someone touching him because they wanted to.

---

He let his kisses trail down to his neck, his lips settling over a tender place so he could suck on it lightly. His skin tasted every bit as good as his lips. His fingers wandered, trailing from his sides to his back and down toward his hips.

---

He whimpered, his head tipping to the side. This wasn’t helping him cool down, not at all. It was doing just the opposite and he whispered his name, his own hands sliding up and around his neck, one hand slipping into his hair. His fingers parted his locks and they curled in and held him to his neck.

---

He found a place toward the back of his neck, one that his hair would cover, and ran his tongue over it before sucking harder on his flesh. He used his wandering hands to pull Anders closer, getting their bodies as flush as possible while they were sitting beside each other. He wouldn’t have expected to mark him like this on their first date, but now that he’d had a taste of him, he was hungry for more.

---

The distaste was growing, but Justice wasn’t complaining. He wasn’t saying anything or trying to stop him. It was incredible to not have nagging in the back of his head. He followed the pull, pressing into him and giving his hair a tug while it was curled up in his fingers. He didn’t care at all if he left a mark. It wasn’t like anyone would see it, especially not where he was sucking. His free hand curled into his shirt, much like the hand in his hair, but when he tugged it, he was pulling up, just a little.

---

He felt him tugging up his shirt and it gave him a shiver of excitement. He moved a hand from Anders’ hip find the hand in his shirt, guiding it up further to encourage him. He’d seen him without his shirt before, after all, so it wasn’t unfamiliar territory. He pulled off his neck when his hair was tugged, returning to kissing the base of his jaw until he found a new place he wanted to mark on his neck.

---

He could feel what he wanted and at this point, his heart was pounding and his cock was aching. He was shaking as he drew his arms back so that he could actually pull his shirt up. The night air was warm, but he thought he still might feel cold, so he heated his hands to counter that as he began to touch his skin.

---

The heat of his hands surprised him and he gasped, the sound followed by a husky chuckle. “That feels nice…” An unexpected perk to making out with a mage. It more than made up for the light chill he’d gotten losing his shirt.

---

He smiled. “That’s far from my best trick.” He kissed him again, his fingers exploring the lines of his muscles. He definitely wasn’t chubby. He was warm and his skin was soft, even with a man’s roughness. It felt so good to touch him and as he kissed him, one of his hands withdrew so he could give his own cock a brief squeeze.

---

He returned his kiss hungrily, sighing softly as the heated fingers stroked over his skin. His own hands began to explore with purpose, looking for a way to start getting under his robes. He had no idea where it tied and so it took some searching, but when he found it, he broke the kiss, giving the fastening a little tug. “You still have me at a disadvantage, Anders…”

---

He pulled back a little, looking at him coyly. “Maybe I want to.” He pretended to think about it and then he helped him loosen his robes, parting them and letting them fall to his belt. In the moment, he wasn’t insecure and really, he didn’t realize how skinny he’d gotten. His shoulders were broad and he was lean, but definitely under weight.

The man was thinner than his robes would suggest, but he still looked lovely in the moonlight. He smiled and ran his fingers slowly down his chest. “This body has been on a lot of adventures…”

---

“A few,” he agreed, the touch melting him and making him move in. “I do like adventures.” All kinds of adventures. He just never had time for adventures anymore. The closet he got to an adventure was going out with Hawke.

“This is a pretty tame adventure. But an adventure nonetheless…” He leaned in and started kissing his way along his bare shoulders. His hands coursed lower, feeling his abs and tracing them.

---

It was the most exciting adventure he’d had in a lot time and he was still shaking slightly as the hands drifted down. He slid his own hands around him and began to stroke his back, his fingers trailing along the small of it.

He kissed his way down to his collarbone, sucking lightly on the flesh there. His hands trailed lower still, grazing his waist where his robes were pooled. It was his most exciting adventure in a long time as well, other than his mugging anyway.

---

He let his fingers dip just into his waistline and then they retreated. Sliding back up his back, then gripping, fingers digging in. He made a sound in the back of his throat, soft and needy.

Since Anders’ fingers were getting bold, he let his own go lower. The fingers of one hand grazed over his cock and when he felt how hard he was, it gave his blood a fresh wave of heat. “Anders…”

---

He shuddered and his breathing quickened. “Milos,” he murmured, willing him to touch him. It’d been too long and he needed it. He didn’t care if this spoiled him in his eyes - if he never looked at him the same again after, so be it.

He met his gaze for a beat, then gave him a hard, ravenous kiss. He squeezed his cock through his robes, his heart pounding at just the thought of feeling him without the fabric between them. He really hadn't expected things to get so heated between them so quickly, but he didn't mind it at all.

---

He moaned, his fingers digging harder as he met the fiery kiss. They dragged back down, nails scratching along the way, and he found his ass and squeezed it in response.

He rubbed him eagerly through his robes, delighted by how hard he was and by the size of him. The grip on his ass made him press his body in closer, craving more contact with him. His free hand pulled at Anders, trying to tug the mage into his lap.

---

He could feel what he wanted, but he had to pull up his robes first. Otherwise he couldn’t get into his lap. So he did just that, hiking up them so they were a loop of fabric around his hips, held on only by his belt. He settled on his lap and pressed into him, the only thing covering him being his small clothes.

He got what he wanted and pressed up eagerly against him when he settled into his lap. “I want you…” He murmured, though he didn't have to tell him that. The mage would be able to feel it now that he was on him.

---

Anders didn’t hesitate to rock into him, needing the friction and feeling that he needed it too. “I want you too.” He wanted this so badly. “Do you have oil?” Somehow, he doubted it. He might have been prepared with the carriage and the horses and the chocolates, but he didn’t strike him as someone who would expect this, much less come prepared for it. Still, maybe he was wrong.

---

“Yes…” He looked a bit sheepish, but smiled. “Not that I was anticipating anything this exciting. In the back of the carriage there’s a lubricant for the wheels and bearings. We can use that…”

---

“That’s so far away,” he complained, still rocking into him. He didn’t want to stop and he didn’t want to separate. He didn’t think he would, but he was worried about overthinking this if there was too much space. He continued to kiss him, hands squeezing and rubbing his shoulders.

---

“That’s alright. We’ll move into the back together.” He murmured against his lips, answering the rocking of his hips eagerly. Fortunately the carriage was open and so to get into the extra seating and open space, they only had to crawl over the divider. “It’ll be more comfortable back there anyway.”

---

He hummed, knowing he would have to pull away if they were going to get anywhere, but it took him awhile to do so. Since his robes were only going to get in the way, as soon as he slipped off of him, he undid his belt and let it all fall, leaving him in only his boots and his strained smallclothes.

He climbed into the back of the carriage and then settled down into one of the seats, waiting eagerly for him to get what they needed.

---

Milos made a sound of complaint when Anders' weight and heated hands left him, but he at least enjoyed the view while he undressed further. He stripped off his trousers before following him into the back of the carriage, now entirely bare. He wasted no time opening a compartment beneath one of the back seats and pulling out a large bottle of the oil he'd mentioned. He moved back to Anders, initiating their contact again with a needy kiss.

---

Anders met him and now his entire body was radiating heat. To keep himself and the other warm. He slid his arms around him and pulled him in, trying to bring him over him as he leaned to the side so he could lay back in the seat.

“Anders…” The heat from his body was incredible. It made him ache even more, eager to be inside of him and experience that heat that way. He settled over him on the seat, grinding down into him as he reached down between them to tug at his smallclothes.

---

He groaned, lifting his hips and helping him tug off the last of his clothing.

Must we?  It was a bit late at this point, but Justice couldn’t help himself.

Please, shh. Please, I need this.

There was no response and he was relieved. He hastened to pull down Milos’ in return, his eyes fixing on him as soon as he saw him. He couldn’t resist reaching for him and stroking him firmly.

He rocked needily into his touch - it had been so long since he'd felt a hand that wasn't his own. “You look so good…” He'd love to taste him but there was an urgency to take him. “Do you want me inside you?” He'd be willing to let Anders top him, big as he was, but he was hoping the mage would let him take him.

---

He nodded, squeezing him and opening his legs. “Please.” He needed it and he looked desperate as he waited for him to do what he needed to so could fuck him. It didn’t matter to him how they did this, as long as they did this.

That was the answer he needed. He opened the oil and coated himself in it, settling himself between his thighs. He met his gaze and smiled as he positioned himself, still a little stunned that this was all happening so fast and loving it. He pressed himself in, groaning as he sank deep inside of him and reaching down to squeeze him with his slickened hand.

---

His eyes squeezed shut and he held his breath, the stretch sharp in a way that made Justice’s hackles raise. It’s okay, it’s always like this at first. Not exactly, but it’d been long enough that yeah, it would be like this at first. The spirit remained ruffled, but Anders pushed it aside. The attention to his cock certainly helped with the pain.

He forced his eyes to open again, knowing he was watching him and wanting to watch him in return.

---

“Are you okay?” He asked softly, keeping himself still deep within him. He could feel how tight he was and it wasn’t surprising that it looked like it hurt him. He squeezed his cock again to give him a distraction, watching him closely.

---

“I’m okay,” he assured him. “It’s just been a while for me.” He slid his arms around him and stroked his back. “Fuck me.” He knew the feeling would fade and all that would be left would be how satisfying it was to be filled.

---

He wanted to do just as he asked and he leaned down to kiss him. “It's been a while for me too.” With that, he began to move within him, thrusting steadily though he wanted to take him wildly from the start.

---

He met the kiss, muffling his moans with his mouth. It still hurt, but it was satisfying even then. His touch became even more heated as he ran his hands down to his ass and held it, using his strength to help him sink in deeper each thrust. He whimpered his name, his cock leaking all over himself and his hand.

---

The grip inspired him to push into him harder, reassured that he was adjusting despite the pain of the stretch. He groaned when he felt his cock leak, using the fluid to stroke him smoothly. He felt incredible, especially with the magic heating them both while their bodies were joined.

---

“Yes. Yes, please.” He wasn’t normally so vocal - as far as words went - not unless it was the point of what they were doing, but he was so desperate for it. He needed a pounding. He needed to pound as well, but right now this was perfect. “Please, fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me.” He repeated this under his breath over and over.

---

His begging was an incredible turn on and he was happy to let him have it. He started to take him with complete abandon, ramming him as hard as he could. He could imagine thinking back on this later, touching himself to the memory of Anders’ voice pleading this way.

---

He continued to mutter mindlessly, hooking his legs around him and moving his hands up, one of them clutching at the back of his neck. He tried to return the kiss as much as possible, but it was hard when he was making so much sound. He didn’t mean to, but Justice hadn’t even allowed him that when he would touch himself, so it felt so good to completely let go and just give into this.

---

He was struggling to maintain the kiss as well as he started to pant. Eventually he had to break it, instead burying his face in Anders’ neck. He was entirely lost in fucking him, the arms and legs clutching him in place making it that much easier to forget that anything existed outside of the mage at this moment.

---

It didn’t take long for it to get to him. He’d been so sorely lacking for so long. When it felt like it was going to hit, though, his pleading changed. “No, no. Not yet. I don’t want to cum yet.” It was too soon. It didn’t want it to be over, even though he needed his release.

---

He felt himself smiling against his neck. “It’s okay...we can go again…” He murmured to him between panting breaths. He knew he couldn’t last much longer either. Not when it had been months since he’d gotten laid. He didn’t slow, needing this release and wanting to push Anders over the edge with him.

---

He continued his soft complaints, but soon they were lost in moans. He lost control of his magic and all that was left was the residual heat as he began to writhe and then cum, his body tightening around him and threatening to stop him mid-thrust.

---

He gasped when he was clenched and it took a lot to push past the grip. He finished moments after him, bucking into him as he spilled, having almost forgotten how good it felt to cum with muscles squeezing around him. “Anders…” He groaned when he stilled, starting to catch his breath.

---

He felt the heat fill him and he tightened his legs around him, keeping his hips in place. “Milos,” he murmured, pulling him back in and kissing him feverishly, even though they both needed to  rest. “Fuck me again.” He’d said they could and it was exactly what he wanted.

---

“You don’t want to switch?” He didn’t sound as if he minded. He would gladly fuck him again if that was what he really wanted. He kissed him back desperately, unable to believe his luck - not only had this gorgeous mage agreed to go out with him tonight, but it had lead to this and he was wanting to go again.

---

He pulled back a little. “Let’s switch,” he agreed, since he was asking and wanted to. Then he could have his fill of both roles tonight and they both could enjoy themselves to the fullest. He eased his legs down from around his hips, trying to push himself up from the awkward way he was laying back.

---

Rather than try to turn over on the seat, when Milos climbed off of him, he simply settled on his back on the other seat. He beckoned Anders over to him, a broad smile on his lips. “Fuck me…” It was his turn to ask for it and he couldn’t wait for Anders to give it to him.

---

He smirked and rather than climb right over him, he eased down to the floor and crawled to him on his knees. He ended up kneeling beside him and he leaned in to press kisses to his belly and his hip bones. They weren’t quite ready for that, but he knew a fun way to fix that. A hand slid in and he cupped his spent cock softly, squeezing it carefully.

---

He groaned softly when he was squeezed, still sensitive but he’d had enough time to recover that the touch wasn’t too much. “You’re amazing…” He watched him with a smirk, admiring the way the moonlight highlighted his features.

---

“I’m already naked, Milos, you don’t have to try so hard,” he teased, putting a flicker of electricity into the touch. He found a spot between his hip bones that he wanted to suck, so he did just that, deciding to leave a mark of his own while he fondled him.

---

He startled a little at the shock, but a groan followed it. “I like you, I can sweet talk if I want.” He argued in amusement, watching him mark him. “Besides, you might leave me more marks to remember you by until I see you again if I’m sweet to you.”

---

He looked up at him, brows lifting a little. “You want to see me again?” He wasn’t sure if he would, but it warmed him to know that he already did. He released his cock so he could start to suckle on the side of it, working his way up to the head of him as he waited for his answer.

---

“Of course I do.” He didn’t want this to be their only night together. He wouldn’t have wanted that even before the night had taken such a heated turn. He was starting to thicken again from his attention and when he started to suck on him, he groaned.

---

“So you’re still going to be sweet to me, even if I already agree to see you again?” He’d like that. As much as he wanted and needed this, it would disappoint him if this was his only appeal now. He closed his mouth around him and began to suck softly, the hand that had been squeezing him now working his balls.

---

“I'll be even sweeter to you if you're already agreeing to see me again.” He was completely hard again by the time he was sucking him, needing little to get him going again. He hadn't been sucked in so long, but then, he hadn't had any of this in so long.

---

He hadn’t sucked a man in a long time and he wanted to indulge in this for a while. He began bobbing his head, his free hand giving himself the touches he needed. He worked some electricity into his tongue, enough that it was a constant flow as he rub his tongue all along him.

---

He closed his eyes, amazed by the way the electricity worked with his tongue. “This is so good...but you’re the one we need to get hard…” He should be the one sucking Anders and he wouldn’t mind the job, as much as he was enjoying himself now.

---

He pulled off of him. “I can’t be that rusty…” Still, he shifted from his knees, showing him that he was surely getting there. He was hard enough to take him, anyway. He reached for the oil and used it to coat his cock, then he finally crawled over him, kissing him and pressing himself against his entrance. Not enough to push in, but enough to have some pressure between them.

---

He chuckled at that and shook his head when the kiss broke. “Not rusty at all. I just didn't know if you were getting hard with me while you worked.” He rocked his hips up into him eager for him though he was mourning his mouth.

---

“Then let me show you.” He pushed into him, letting out a slow breath as his warm walls wrapped around him. He kissed him softly, then again, harder. If it had been a while for him, it might be just as painful, so he held still, wanting to give him time to adjust. A distraction helped, so he took him in hand and began to stroke him.

---

He made a pained sound when he was entered, the sound muffled by his lips. He sucked hard on Anders’ lower lip, both out of hunger for him and also to distract himself from the discomfort. The stroking also provided a wonderful distraction and he began to rock his hips a little to signal him when he was ready for him to move.

---

He needed this too and as soon as he was allowed to, he eagerly took from him. He knew that he needed to work him up to what he’d been getting himself, so he was steady and sure and his thrusts. He kissed him passionately, working his tongue into his mouth. It was his own distraction, so that he wouldn’t get too carried away too quickly.

---

It was still quite a stretch, but the pleasure was beginning to drown out any lingering discomfort. His hips rose to meet his thrusts, wanting to take him as deeply as he could. He greeted his tongue eagerly, moaning into his mouth as he kissed him back desperately.

---

Anders groaned, their sounds mixing as he slowly, but surely strengthened his thrusts. It felt so good to be inside something other than his fist. He was so hot and so tight, it was incredible. The hand working him was secondary to everything else, so caught up in his snapping hips and their meeting tongues, but it was working him all the same.

---

It was almost too much. It had been so good to fuck him, but now being filled by him while he was stroked was almost overwhelming. He writhed beneath him, still so sensitive from cumming but craving so much more from him. “Harder…” He murmured against his lips, wanting even more from the growing thrusts.

---

He gave him what he wanted, letting go and fucking him with abandon. He thrust hard, slamming their hips together roughly, breaking the kiss to pant as he began to exert himself with effort. His hand quickened as well, finally able to focus a little more on that, though all he really cared about was the friction on his cock.

---

He gasped, so pleased to get exactly what he asked for. He met his wild hips, his hands stroking along his sides and admiring the feel of his muscles at work. He was strong despite how thin he was and he was infatuated with him all the more.

---

Anders shut his eyes, losing himself to this in a way that made him want to lose every sense but that of touch. He grunted and groaned, his hips snapping harshly. He had to bury his face in his neck, finding himself in need of as much contact as he could get as the sensations took over and he felt himself rushing to an end.

---

His fingers wandered to his back, for the first time grazing over the scars back there. They only had his attention for a fleeting moment, too caught up in the pounding he was getting. But the only thought he had about them was that it was just more evidence of his adventures. “Don’t stop…”

---

He made a sound. He didn’t want to stop, but he didn’t know that he would be able to carry on much longer. He continued, but he used the same electric touch he had with tongue to try and help him along. He didn’t want to disappoint him and he wanted to make sure he finished before this came to an end.

---

The addition of the magic made him cry out, making everything so much more intense. His hips lost their smooth motion, starting to meet the thrusts more erratically as he lost control. His fingers dug into his back and his body began to arch, only lasting a little longer before he hit his release. He cried out again as he spilled heavily between them, his muscles tightening sharply around him.

---

The digging fingers didn’t help and he was losing control himself, his cock throbbing dangerously. He felt him spill and with a cry of relief, he followed. His hips slowed to a stop and he went still, buried in his neck and trying to catch his breath. It’d been a long time since he’d exerted himself so much, even without the sex.

---

Milos panted with him, his grip on his back easing as he started to recover. He started to stroke the skin of his back as his body relaxed further, basking in the afterglow of another release. “I think we both needed that…”

---

Anders slowly sank down onto him, letting him take his weight. “I did.” He’d needed it more than he could put into words and he was so relieved tears could have stung his eyes, so grateful to the very spirit that had prevented him from having this for so long for finally letting him.

---

“I did too.” He slid his fingers slowly up and down his spine. “I’ve had a really nice night with you, Anders.” Not just the sex, though that was great. Everything about the night had been perfect.

---

The touch helped him relax, though he did pull back enough to look at him. “So did I.” It had been really nice and wouldn’t mind seeing him again, if he wanted to. For this and to just spend some time together.

---

“Do you want to walk around the lake for a little while? Or do I need to start getting you home?” He couldn’t resist leaning up to kiss him before he had the chance to answer.

---

The kiss made him smile. He really was glad that he still wanted to touch him and be sweet, as promised. He considered their options and when he had an idea of his own, he was struck with doubt that it was too spontaneous. Milos was helping him feel young again, though, and there had never been anything wrong with spontaneity then. It helped him come to a decision. “Might as well clean up,” he answered, and without explaining further, he pulled away from him and stood up. Rather than go for his clothes, he stepped off the carriage completely naked and started down the hill, curious if he’d follow.

---

“Anders?” He called when he stepped off of the carriage and when he started down the hill, he laughed. That definitely wasn’t what he had in mind when he mentioned a walk around the lake. He hopped out of the carriage and followed, his horses following a few steps before he instructed them to stay put while he caught up to the mage.

---

Anders could hear him coming after him and he smiled to himself - by the time he reached the shore of the lake they were together. He dipped a foot in the water to test the temperature. Chilly. That was no problem for him, however, he simply amped up the heat he was radiating considerably as he stepped into the water and sink into it.

---

Milos stepped into the water with him, his teeth chattering by the time he was chest deep in the water. “It’s freezing in here!” He knew it wouldn’t be so bad once he had a moment to adjust. But he also noticed that Anders didn’t seem to mind the temperature at all, having to remind himself of the magic he’d been using to warm their bodies in the carriage.

---

“I can help with that.” It was an excuse to stay close to him. He moved to him and slid an arm around him. The water around him was warmed and would certainly feel much nicer than the rest of the water in the lake. “Better?”

---

“Much better.” He settled into him, sliding an arm around him in return. It was so much warmer and his teeth stopped their chattering quickly. “I didn't realize there would be so many perks to going on a date with a mage.”

---

“A lot of people don’t realize how useful we are.” Or they did and they abused the power over them to take what they could from them. “How useful magic is.” He gave him a smile. “You’d be surprised of the things I can do.” Impressed, hopefully.

---

“I'm sure I would be.” He returned his smile and stroked his back absently with the arm around him. “I feel painfully mediocre next to you. I hope you don't get bored.”

---

“I don’t think you’re mediocre.” Magic, for all its wonders, didn’t make a person. As crucial a part of himself it felt, he didn’t think he was better than anyone else that didn’t have it. “There are a lot of things you can do that I can’t. My things are just flashier.”

---

“That's true.” He was warmed by his answer. That he didn't find him dull for his lack of magic or adventure. “I have some flashy skills though. I've heard breaking a wild horse makes for a good show, anyway.”

---

He smirked. He bet it did. He bet he looked rather sexy on a bucking stallion. “I’d like to see that.” He used his free hand to use the water to clean his front.

---

He kissed Anders’ shoulder. “Do you ride? I could take you out to find some wild horses. See if I can catch one and bring it home.”

---

“I know how to, but no, not really.” He’d had to a time or two, but he didn’t really consider it a skill he had. He knew how to not fall off and that was about it. “That sounds like it would be fun, though..” He wasn’t sure when he’d have time for it, but he felt hopeful. He waited to see if Justice would say anything, but he remained quiet.

---

“I can bring a ‘beginner’ horse for you then. One you can ride no matter how rusty you are.” One like the sleepy mares, slow and perfect for pulling the carriage. He began to use the hand to wash his back lazily.

---

Throughout the sex and since, he had been thoroughly distracted, so he hadn’t noticed all the touches to his back. Now he did and he stiffened slightly, but it took but a moment for him to force himself to relax once more. He was obviously aware of what was back there and he hadn’t said anything - no one ever said anything. It was fine.

“So we’ll ride there together and then you’ll ride back on your new wild horse?”

---

“I was thinking I'd bring a horse for each of us. But we could share if you don't mind riding a faster horse with me. We have to ride something that can catch a wild stallion at an open run.” It was a thrill and he couldn't mind doing it with Anders’ arms around his waist.

---

His eyes widened a little, but it did sound rather exhilarating, didn’t it? When was the last time he did something exhilarating? “I’ll have to think about it. I don’t even know if I have time…” Again, Justice said nothing, so maybe he could make time.

---

“Of course. I know you're a busy man. For me it would be like a day at work - if I can find a good wild horse and work with it awhile, I can sell it for good coin.” It was undoubtedly easier for him to get away than it would be for Anders.

---

He nodded and then leaned in to give him a short kiss. “It’s getting late. We should probably head back.” He’d gotten the cum and sweat off of him, so that as enough for him. He started towards the shore, tugging him with, since any space between them meant he would be leaving him behind in cold water.

---

Milos stayed close, not wanting to be left in the cold. He linked their arms together as they walked back to the carriage, a smile on his lips. “I don't suppose you have any nifty spells to dry us off, do you?”

---

He chuckled. “I’m afraid not. The heat helps, but that’s about it.” Unfortunately he didn’t have a spell for every convenience in the world. He was currently radiating heat in an attempt to dry off and keep himself warm.

---

“I'll take it.” The heat was better than nothing. He stayed close to him until he was fairly dry, then climbed into the carriage to pull on his clothes and hand Anders his robes. “I hate to have to take you back, but it is getting late. We both have early mornings tomorrow.”

---

He pulled on his robes, feeling better with the warm fabric on him. It wasn’t just warmth, but protection. “Work never ends,” he agreed, straightening his robes to they sat properly and then sitting down on the passenger side.

---

“So I managed not to totally blow it on this date, but let's enjoy the emergency chocolates.” When he was dressed, he settled into the driver's side and pulled a box from beneath the seat. He handed it to the mage then grabbed the reins, putting the mares in motion by clicking his tongue.

---

He looked rather eagerly at the box. “I can’t remember the last time I had chocolate.” He was speaking to himself as he ripped over the top of the box and began to inspect the contents. For once, he had an excuse to actually eat what he was being given. He pulled out a chocolate and looked it over, then lifted it to his nose to smell it.

---

“Once a week I let Willow pick out a treat in the market in town and sometimes she'll get chocolates. It was her idea that I get an extra box for you for tonight.” He watched him inspect the chocolate, a smile on his lips as he guided the horses back toward Kirkwall.

---

He took a bite of it and made a sound, not all dissimilar to the sounds he’d made when Milos had been laying it into him. “You’ll have to thank her for me.” He popped the rest into his mouth and pulled out one to offer to him. He didn’t want to eat more than Milos did, so he intended on giving him every other one.

---

“I will. The kid has good taste.” He happily accepted the chocolate, biting into it and making a similar sound. “I don't usually have much of a sweet tooth, but they're amazing.”

---

“I like sweet things, but my favorite flavor is savory.” He loved savory foods. He pulled out another chocolate and like the first one, he smelled it before taking a bite. “So… how does your daughter feel about you going on a date?” Apparently well enough to suggest giving him chocolates, but perhaps she was too young to really understand what a date was.

---

“I'll agree with you on that. Savory is probably my favorite too.” The question made him chuckle and he shook his head. “She doesn't really know what dating is. She was happy to have a night with my sister though. She said we can have a boys night and they'll have a girls night while we're out.”

---

“Hopefully their night went a little differently than ours.” It was a joke he said without thinking, but once he realized what he’d said, he flushed. He offered him another chocolate, silencing himself with the rest of his own piece.

---          

Milos laughed and shook his head. “I'm hoping it went much, much differently than ours or I'll have to disown my sister.” He took the chocolate, this time keeping his hands on the reins and leaning to take the bite directly from his fingers.

---

His lips quirked and he held the chocolate still for him to take his bite. He waited until it seemed he was done chewing, then he held up the rest so he could finish it off.

---

He took the rest of the bite, then settled back to enjoy it. Sharing the chocolates with him was a nice way to wind down after all of the action and he looked so content as he watched the road ahead of them. “I hope you can come riding with me some time.”

---

He took one more for himself and one more for Milos and then closed the box, not wanting to pig out. “I hope so too.” He didn’t know when, but eventually. “Since I don’t know where you live, you’ll probably have to come check in with me sometime.”

---

“I will. I’ll be back in town again by the end of the week. I can drop in and see what your schedule is like.” He doubted he’d be able to do anything that soon. Or perhaps he wouldn’t even want to. But he’d like to see him again that soon, even if only to stop and say hello to him.

---

“Sounds good.” He offered him his final chocolate and filled his mouth with his own, popping the entire thing in all at once. The ride back was nice. Peaceful. He was feeling a lot better in overall, not only with the break, but with the release that was, at this point, years in the making.

---

When Anders took the last chocolate in one bite, Milos followed suit. He took the whole thing from Anders, leaning into him lightly as he swallowed it down. Kirkwall came into view all too soon and but this time he drove the carriage right into town. “Now that you’ve already been surprised by the carriage ride, I won’t make you walk back. I’ll drop you off right at your door.”

---

His brows lifted. “Are you sure you want to take them into the sewers?” It would be an event getting them down there and there were a lot of stairs they would have to avoid. He could at least take him to the entrance of the sewers. They could part there and he could finish the walk on his own.

---

“I’ve taken them all over town. I can get you there.” He knew how to navigate with them and though it would be a little more roundabout, he would get him home. “If not, I could at least hitch them and walk you to your door.”

---

“Just have to be careful if you do that - you don’t anyone stealing your horses and your carriage while you’re walking me home.” He didn’t know how likely that would be, but it didn’t seem impossible to him.

---

“People have tried a couple times. But that’s the benefit of taking my old horses into town. They’re so confused and uncooperative with a stranger trying to move them that I get back before the thief gets anywhere with them.” He parked the carriage by the entrance of the sewers, hitching up the horses and patting their necks before moving to the passenger side and offering his hand to help Anders down.

---

Anders definitely didn’t need the help down, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t charmed by it. He took his hand and stepped out of the carriage. “Thank you.” He left the rest of the chocolate on the seat, figuring he could give them to his daughter. He kept hold of his hand as they took the lift down and then started down the long trek to his clinic.

---

He was pleased when Anders kept the contact with him and he was grateful that everything had gone so well. Better than he could have hoped after Anders had come chasing after him from the clinic. He felt that the long walk to the clinic was all too short and when they reached the door, he gave him a warm smile. “I’m glad you came out with me tonight.”

---

He was a little bashful, even with everything that had happened. He wasn’t feeling as bold all of a sudden. “So am I. I had a nice time.” He was glad that after all they’d done, he wasn’t done with him.

---

He nodded and squeezed his hand. “I did too.” He leaned in then, closing the distance between them to give him a sweet and simple kiss. “I’ll come visit when I come back into town.”

---

He returned the kiss. “I look forward to it.” He produced the key and unlocked the door. With a slight wave, he stepped inside and then shut the door behind him. As soon as he was by himself, he grinned widely.

---

The clinic was spotless and the herbs were stocked far more than they had been when Anders had left. Cole was in his private nook and when he heard the door, he stepped out to greet Anders, warmed to see the smile on his face. “You had fun.” It wasn’t a question, he could feel that he’d had a good time.

---

He wasn’t surprised to see him and after locking the door behind him, he moved further inside, towards him. “I did.” He’d had a lot more fun that he’d expected to and finally, he could feel some of Justice’s exasperation that he’d been holding back. He didn’t want to address it, though, not when he was feeling so good.

---

“You don’t need me tonight. I should be going.” He could hit the places in Darktown he was needed most before returning to the Circle. But before he did, he looked piercingly at Anders as if trying to see through him to the spirit inside of the man. “Thank you for allowing this, Justice. He needed this.”

---

He didn’t need him tonight. "Thank you for taking care of the clinic.” It looked really nice and it was nice to not to have to clean up for once. He gave him a little smile and though Justice’s ruffled feelings somehow both grew and deflated, he again was silent.

He’d have to talk to him, but maybe that could happen tomorrow and for now he could just go to sleep.

“See you soon.” He would visit in the next couple days. Even if Anders was happy and didn't need him, his patients might. He vanished, off to where he was needed.

Chapter Text

A couple days later, Cole returned to the clinic. He was needed, this time by an elderly woman visiting Anders with an injured hip. The spirit didn't come empty-handed - his arms were laden with new cloths and fresh linens for the cots. When he walked in, he greeted Anders with a nod and set the linens down on the nearest table then moved to the old woman who was much too thin and frail, her eyes dark from sleepless nights and too much weeping. Cole took her hand in both of his while Anders worked. “Her husband died a few weeks ago. She's lonely. I'm going to give her one of the cats outside when she leaves. She likes them almost as much as you do.”

---

Anders was never surprised to see Cole. He was coming to expect him and though he never knew when he was going to show up, it always seemed appropriate when he did. “That’s a good idea.” He loved the cats, but he would give up their company if it meant they were going to good homes where they would be taken care of and saved from anyone that might get ideas about them.

---

“Don’t worry, there will be plenty left. Especially now that those kittens are born. I’ll show you once she’s finished here.” He would never ask Anders to give up all of the cats he’d gathered for him. But this woman needed one of them. She wasn’t paying them any mind, seeming serene and lost in her own thoughts between the healing magic from Anders and the soothing presence of Cole.

---

He glanced at him. “...Can you sense the kittens?” He was curious. At what point as a person enough of a person or an animal enough of an animal for him to be able… understand them?

---

“I’m starting to pick up on them. When they were first born, I only sensed their mother’s relief that her labor discomfort was over and her little ones survived. Today she’s in a good mood and would let me visit them. I could only sense distress in one of them who has to fight to get enough milk. A little runt would be my guess.” Cole had no doubt that since the mother was content, the kitten was fine. Children were easily distressed over silly things and that was true regardless of species.

---

He couldn’t help but perk to learn what he had. Not only were the kittens born, but Cole could sense them. He finished what he was doing with the woman and offered her his arm. “Let’s take a quick walk around the clinic and see how it feels, okay?”

---

That seemed to get her attention and she looked to Anders. “Alright. It already feels so much better.” She took his arm and eased herself down onto her feet. She seemed a little dizzy and clung to him tighter as she regained her balance.

“You need to eat something when you get home. George would want you to be taking care of yourself. Besides, you’ll need to get your strength back up to take care of your new cat.” Cole said gently, keeping his hold on her other hand to help steady her.

The woman looked confused and a bit dazed. “...New cat?”

“You’ll see. Now do as the Healer says.”

---

He waited until she seemed a little more steady and then took a slow step with her. WIth that accomplished, he took another. He took his time walking her back around to his work table. “What do you think?” His voice was gentle, knowing she was going through a lot. He also kept his arm around hers, knowing the contact probably helped, even subconsciously.

---

When she was sure she could walk without him, she released his arm, giving it a pat with her withered hand. “Much better, sweetheart. I’ll bake some bread for you to share with your patients.” She’d visited before, for various ailments that came with her age, so she knew he wouldn’t accept payment. But if he had even a little of something she made him before giving the rest away, it would make her happy.

---

“That sounds good.” He liked having food to give out. “I look forward to it.” He moved toward the door, intending on seeing her out. “Cole will take you home.” He figured the spirit planned to anyway, since he was helping her take a cat with her, so he didn’t think he’d mind him volunteering him for the task.

---

“Thank you, Healer. I’ll see you soon.” When the door opened, there was a lean black cat sitting outside. It looked up to the woman and meowed, standing and moving in to weave around her leg. Her eyes lit up and she carefully bent to run her fingers through its fur. “What a friendly kitty. You must belong to someone…”

“He doesn’t. He’s not very good at catching mice and he would like a home with you if you would take him in.” Cole said and though the woman looked confused at first, when she straightened up to meet his gaze, she seemed to accept what he had said. She started walking for home, the cat trotting along at her heels. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” The spirit said to Anders with a smile as he walked after her.

---

Anders watched them go and when he was alone, he started to clean up. There wasn’t much to do, as he’d been taking care of it all day, but he still straightened up what he could and with a rare moment of quiet, he sat down at his desk and pulled his manifesto in - he hadn’t been working on it much as of late.

...I know, Justice.

---

It wasn’t long before Cole returned. He approached the desk, a smile on his lips. “I encouraged her to start cooking meals regularly for you to give out here. She has the coin and the time to spare and it would help her to eat more herself if she had others to cook for.”

---

“That’ll be helpful. I’ve always wanted to expand what the clinic is…” Right now it was a place of healing and, on the rare occasion, shelter, but there was little more he could do with what he had. The only consistent help he had was Lirene, but she was occupied in Lowtown and the most she could do was continue to gather donations for him. She was too busy taking care of those that came to her there.

---

“It’s a nice goal. If she starts cooking for your patients, it might inspire others to do so as well.” Especially if he was around to nurture those thoughts. He nodded toward the linens he brought. “Those were donated from one of your patients. He wanted to do something for you and I thought maybe some new supplies would be helpful.”

---

Anders looked at the pile. “Oh wow… that wasn’t necessary.” He stood up and went over to the pile, looking it over. “We could use them, though…” What he had right now was a bit threadbare. “Who was it?” He wanted to know so he could thank whoever it was.

---

“Lee. I paid him a visit to see if he was doing better and he was.” He stayed near the desk, looking over the manifesto curiously. “I paid Milos a visit too.” Not that he had a wound serious enough that a follow up was needed. He was being a bit nosy.

---

He was surprised, but it was nice to hear. “Good I’m glad.” As he went on, he went a little pink. “Oh, really? Why’s that?” He picked up the linens to put them away. He’d lay them out on the cots as they were needed.

---

“To see how he was doing.” He looked up and when he saw him flush, he smiled. “He’s been thinking of you. He’s anxious to come back into town so he can see you again.”

---

“I see.” It warmed him to hear and he looked away from him. After a moment, he went on. “Justice has been frustrated with me. I think about him a lot too.” As Cole likely already knew. He’d known it would be more than just walk, despite what Anders had said about it, and, of course, he’d been right.

---

“I think Justice will be a little less frustrated when you get reports from Bob. Things are going extremely well for the Underground. And you haven’t been working any less diligently here in the clinic since that night. You have some space in your life now to be distracted by a little happiness.” He said this gently, not wanting to ruffle his fellow spirit.

---

He nodded. “I’m glad. It’s good to hear. I think he would like to be a little more involved, but we are busy with the clinic.” He knew Justice wanted to run the clinic as much as possible, but he was most invested in the Circle. They both were, really, and they never had enough time to do everything they wanted to do for the Underground, between missions with Hawke and keeping the clinic running.

---

“Maybe I could help with that too if you want to work with the Underground. My skills are less sophisticated, but I can do some healing. I could cover the clinic when you want to go to the Gallows.” If that was the compromise Justice was looking for, he’d oblige.

---

That was a thought and Justice liked it too. “That would be helpful, we’d like that.” Of course, Justice thought it would also be good for when they went off with Hawke. The clinic could remain opened and those that needed them wouldn’t be left waiting until they returned.

---

“I would be happy to help.” He wanted both of them to be happy, not just Anders. “Justice, I did some searching around the Circle for any information on others like me. Spirits who walk this realm without a host. Even demons, just to see if it’s possible.” There was distaste in his voice at that. But even demons sometimes had helpful information. “So far I haven’t found any documentation, but I’ll keep looking. I know you could do a lot more if you had separate bodies.”

---          

Anders went still and then after a few moments, they changed and Justice took control. “You are unique enough that the mages wished to study you - it does not surprise me that there is not information.” That didn’t mean they couldn’t find it, though. “If you were to possess a mortal, do you feel you could leave their body safely?” He imagined he didn’t know, but… maybe he had enough of a sense of what he was that he could say.

--

“I don’t know that I could even join with a mortal now if I wished to. I’m not just Compassion anymore. I am also Cole.” He had no wish to merge with anyone and so he hadn’t tried it. But he didn’t know if he could safely join, much less separate.

---

“As I am Anders.” Perhaps it wasn’t quite the same, but it felt like it. They were seperate, but they were also one and he felt that he had Anders inside of him, just as he was inside of Anders. “Yet, I could leave him if I wished. I simply don’t know how to do so while sparing his life.” And he had no desire for any other body, especially not if having one of his own was an option.

---

“I’ll keep searching, but I don’t think you should get your hopes up. It was in Cole’s death that I became this. I know you would not risk Anders in hopes of becoming like me. Just as I would have saved Cole if there was anything I could have done for him after the templars left him that way.” He still regretted that he hadn’t gotten there sooner.

---

“Perhaps if his Calling comes…” If he would die anyway and there was nothing more he could do for him. Then he could do whatever was necessary to procure a body for himself. He was sure Anders would agree at that point. “Otherwise no, I would not end his life.”

---

Cole nodded his agreement. “If that happens, I will be there to help. But until then, I will keep looking for a safe way for you to have your own body.” In the meantime, he would just do what he could to keep them both satisfied.

---

Justice couldn’t help but feel restless, but he knew there was time. He could stay in this world for many lifetimes and he would, he just didn’t like to think that he might accomplish little in that time. So little that he would need another body to continue what he started with Anders. “Very well, thank you for searching.”

He gave him a nod. With that, he pulled back and Anders took over once more, a little disoriented, but not too much. He’d given his permission and it was always a little easier to handle coming back when he knew it was coming.

---

“Let’s go see those kittens before you have another patient.” He said once Anders had a moment to regain himself. There was more he wanted to say about Milos, but he would give Justice a moment to get settled again. He knew it was a frustrating topic for the spirit and he’d just given him bad news about his search.

---

His lips quirked. “Okay, let’s go.” He was rather eager to see the kittens and so he didn’t hesitate, heading to the door. He made sure no one was approaching and since no one was, he shut the door behind them, though he left it unlocked because he knew they wouldn’t be going far.

---

He guided him around the building to where some barrels were obscuring the little family. He pulled a barrel aside to reveal the proud mama nursing six kittens. Sure enough, there was a little runt pushing its way in with the bigger kittens for a meal. Cole smiled, happy to see the little creatures but even more excited to share them with Anders.

---

As soon as he saw them, Anders melted. “Aww, look at the sweet babies.” He crouched down, keeping his distance as he looked over the kittens. “They look so good.” Even the little runt. “Good job, mama.”

---

Cole watched the mother for a long moment, then crouched with him and reached into her little den. He gingerly plucked the plumpest of the kittens from her and picked up the runt with his other hand, setting it in a prime spot to get more milk. While the runt was having his meal, Cole offered the fat kitten to Anders.

---

He didn’t hesitate to take hold of the kitten, bringing it up to his face and pressing a kiss to the top of its head. “Hello, little kitty. Look at you, so beautiful.”

He smiled, warmed to see Anders so happy. “Maybe you could take one of them in when they're old enough to leave her. She doesn't want to live indoors, but she'd like to know her kittens will get enough to eat when they leave her.”

---

He bit his lip. “I don’t know that I can afford to feed a cat.” He liked having them around, but he couldn’t provide for them the way he’d want to. He had to use his coin for the clinic, not cats.

He stroked a finger down the kitten’s back.

“It will be weeks yet before they're ready to leave her. Maybe things will change by then.” He reached to scratch the mother cat's ears and she purred as she leaned into his touch.

---

He hummed, but said nothing further. He’d do what he could for them, just as he did for the cats that already milled about, but he couldn’t take one in as his own, as much as he might want to. “Sweet little baby.”

“You can visit them whenever you like. They're not so frail now and she knows you won't hurt them.” He picked up another kitten that looked finished with its meal and held it gingerly to his chest. “Such darling little kittens.”

---

He was still amazed that he could understand them. “Never. I would never hurt the little babies, would I?” He gave the kitten he was holding another kiss and then held him to his chest, continuing to pet it happily.

__

“Never.” He agreed, nuzzling his cheek into the soft fur of the kitten. Though Anders was preoccupied with the kittens, it seemed as good of a time as any to make his offer. “Milos wants to ask you to spend time with him again. If you like, I could run the clinic for you while you see him.”

---

Anders paused. He felt warm and giddy. The giddiness would’ve had everything to the kittens before that, but now it was almost entirely due to that. “...Maybe.”

Justice?

For a moment he received nothing, but then he felt acceptance. He smiled.

“Yes, that’ll work. If you watch the clinic, I can spend the day with Milos.”

---

“I will. Just let me know when.” He was happy to feel how bright Anders’ mood was. How different it was from when he’d first arrived in Darktown. “I should get back to the Circle.” He reluctantly set his kitten back down against its mother. He wished he could stay and play with the kittens longer, but he had work to do.

---

“Okay, I will.” It just depended on whenever Milos stopped by again. He set the fat kitten down and rose up, putting the barrel back in place so they were safe and protected. “Thank you, Cole.” He appreciated everything he’d done for him. He didn’t know what he could ever do to pay him back.

---

“You’re welcome. I’ll see you soon.” He liked to visit the mage and he would come around even if he wasn’t needed. He vanished then, off to continue his work in the Circle. It was a place he was always needed by someone.

Chapter Text

At the end of the week, Milos was back in town and made his way to the clinic. He'd been looking forward to this visit since the night he'd taken Anders to the lake. He'd been a bit distracted by thoughts of him and he couldn't seem to stop smiling.

When he stepped into the clinic, he wasn't surprised to find the mage was busy. He was sure he was always busy, as skilled as he was and asking nothing in return from his patients. He smiled, happy just to see the man, and moved to take a seat until he would have a chance to talk to him.

---

Anders had been much the same. He thought about Milos a lot, but especially at night when everything was winding down. When he was laying in his cot and touching himself, thinking about what they’d done in the carriage that night. What they might do when they went out riding together.

As it grew later in the week, however, he’d grown more and more concerned that he might not come at all. That he might change his mind. So when he walked in, Anders couldn’t help but smile. He was quick to return to his work, but he continued to peek over at him whenever he had a chance and as soon as he had a free moment, he went to him.

“Hello.”

---

“Hi…” He couldn’t help but feel a little sheepish again, being face to face with him after thinking of him so often for days. “I’ve been looking forward to coming into town so I could see you again…” He wanted him to know, but he said it a little hesitantly, afraid of coming on too strong.

---

He felt a little sheepish as well, but it felt good to know that he hadn’t changed his mind at all. “I’m glad you could make it. I wasn’t sure if you’d change your mind.” He felt bad that he had to come all the way to the clinic and wait around for him, but that he’d made the trek was heartening.

---

“Change my mind? No, of course not.” He laughed softly, finding the thought absurd. “I had a really good time with you. I’ve been thinking about you and when we could do something again.” He knew he was busy and it would be hard for him to get out. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t ask.

---

“When are you free?” Before he could get an answer, a man walked in and with an apologetic smile, he excused himself. It took him about ten minutes to take care of the man, since it was one of his chronic patients that needed frequent check ups and a lot of the herbal remedies that he made, but he returned to him as soon as he could.

---

Milos took a seat again while he waited, having no problem with the interruption. He was visiting during Anders’ working hours, after all. “Willow has lessons in town the day after tomorrow. I know that’s short notice, so maybe we could go riding next week. If your schedule is more open at night I could take you out some night that you’re free instead…”

---

“Riding next week sounds good.” It would give him time to plan everything out with Cole. “...If you want, you could also stop by some night before next week…” Not for date, really, just for… some fun. He didn’t want to wait that long to see him again, so maybe they could do a shorter, simpler get together before then.

---

“My schedule is pretty open today since it’s my day in town. Maybe I could stop by tonight when you close?” He’d like a little time alone with him. “Or the day after tomorrow works too.” Either way he’d get to see him again sooner than the next week.

---

“Sure. Since you’re already here, you might as well.” He couldn’t help but be eager, but he managed to keep it off of his expression at least. “Around the same time as last time will be good.”

---

“I can do that.” He could finish his business, then come back here after dark. He grinned, not doing as well to mask his excitement at the idea. “I better go get my work done so I can get back here on time.” He could leave him knowing he’d be back in just a matter of hours to have some time with him.

---

“Sounds like a plan.” He shifted his weight and then took a step back. “I should get back to work. I have a lot to do and I want to make sure I have everything done by the time you get back.”

---

“Okay, I’ll see you soon.” He was all smiles as he made his way out of the clinic. They could both finish up their work for the day and relax together that night. Though he had a feeling that they’d spend little of that time together really relaxing.

He returned after sunset, eager to get back to his healer without the interruptions of the clinic being open. He’d navigated his way into the sewers in the dark and his destination was in view when he ran into trouble. Or more accurately, trouble came slinking out of an alley and bashed him over the back of the head with a bottle, the breaking glass seeming deafening on the quiet street.

Milos went down hard on his hands and knees, dazed as the three thieves descended on him. One grabbed him by his arms and tugged him back as another started to rummage for his coin purse. Milos’ vision hadn’t quite come back into focus as he tugged an arm free and took a swing at the closest man, crying out in pain and frustration. Two muggings in a week’s time? He’d landed a hit but his arm was captured again quickly and this time the third man moved closer and put a blade to his throat. “Enough of that. Keep still and this will be over faster.” A gruff voice snarled at him.

---

By the time that Milos was having trouble outside, Anders had already finished cleaning up the clinic and he was using the free time he had to work on his manifesto in attempt to appease and thank Justice for his tolerance.

All was quiet and as such, he was very aware of the sounds outside. The breaking bottle was an annoyance - he’d have to clean that up for the kitties - but the cry that followed had him on his feet.

Someone was hurt. Probably the drunk that had dropped the bottle. He hurried out of the clinic and he didn’t have to go far to come across a scene that made his heart rise into his throat.

“Milos…”

Without further hesitation, his hand moved through the air and then downward, placing a glyph at Milos’ feet that threw the men away from him.

“Stay away from him,” he snarled, lighting crackling at his fingertips and then shooting out with a loud crack, striking one and chaining off to the other two. It took a lot of talent to use that spell and avoid hitting Milos, since they were all in the same vicinity.

 

Milos felt a hint of shame for Anders finding him in such a mess, but it was greatly overshadowed by his relief. He stayed low to the ground, not wanting to put himself in the way of the lightning that was frying his attackers. If they survived, he doubted they would be in the mood to make trouble for anyone else anytime soon.

---

So they wouldn’t lash out at Milos in retaliation, he created a ring of flame around him. Far enough from him that it wouldn’t harm him, but he would certainly feel the heat. “Get out of here and if I ever see you around here again, I’ll make sure you regret it.”

The flames startled Milos, but only for a moment. He realized quickly that they were meant to protect him. He could hear the men yelping and running away as quickly as they could. They'd probably never experienced magic like that before and maybe they'd consider a career change now that they'd gotten a taste of it.

---

As soon as they were far enough, Anders let the flames fall and he rushed forward to meet him. “Hey, are you okay?” He knelt down beside him, fretting over him and trying to see if he was wounded.

---

“Yeah...I think my pride hurts a little more than my head.” It would ache from the force of impact for awhile, but really he only had some scrapes from the broken glass and the knife against his throat. He counted himself lucky for that. Milos gave Anders a little smile and started to push himself up to his feet, slowly since he did take a pretty good hit to the head. He felt rattled, but perhaps more by the display of magic than the attack. “Thank you, Anders. I could have been in a lot of trouble if it weren’t for you. You took care of all three of them like it was nothing…”

---

He rose with him. “It was nothing. They were just a bunch of thugs. No real danger.” Not to someone like him. He found where he was bleeding and mended the wounds. “It doesn’t seem like it’s safe for you in the city, is it? Maybe you should stop coming into Darktown.”

---

“I don't normally get mugged this often. I think the thieves are feeling especially bold this week. If I quit coming to Darktown, I won't see you nearly as often.” He looked relieved after the heal, the pain in his head gone as quickly as it had come on. “That's much better.”

---

“Perhaps not, but that is twice you’ve been attacked now. You’ll never see me if they get the best of you.” He leaned in to give his cheek a kiss. “That or perhaps you ought to learn to wield a blade to protect yourself.” He took his hand and started to tug him back to the clinic.

---

The kiss warmed him and he followed along, keeping close to him. “I might have to learn some swordplay. You might not always be here to save me and sweep me off my feet.”

---

He chuckled. “I could teach you. I am rusty, but I know how to wield a sword.” He wasn’t as good as a true warrior, but he’d trained with a sword long enough that he could defend himself with one. “Or if you’d prefer something less deadly, a staff can be a useful weapon.”

---

“Is there anything you can't do?” He asked with a chuckle of his own. “Strong, handsome, skilled with sword and staff, very skilled with magic…”

---

When they arrived at the clinic, he shut them inside and locked the door behind him. “I’ve proven exceedingly bad at saving the world, despite how hard I try.” This was said lightly, but he did feel that way to some extent. Not that he was trying to save the world, but much of his efforts couldn’t create waves the way he wished them to.

---

“At least you try.” He turned to him when they were safely inside and kissed his lips. “You saved me tonight. That's close enough to saving the world to color me impressed.”

---

He smiled and moved closer to him, sliding his arms around him. “As long as you’re not too intimidated by me.”  He didn’t mind being impressive, but he didn’t want him to be frightened of him or of what he could do.

“I just don't want to get on your bad side.” He slid his arms around him in return and stole another kiss. “As long as I stay in your good graces, what is there to be afraid of?”

---

“What indeed.” He left it at that, pulling him in, firm and flush. When he kissed him this time, he held it, intending on taking him right to his cot and relieving him of his clothes.

Chapter Text

It was time to go horseback riding and he could scarcely believe that he was actually going. He was continually grateful to Justice for giving him this time, for working with him to let him have his fun on the side. Part of him knew that he shouldn’t have to be grateful for this, but he also  knew this was difficult for him and he appreciated the effort he was putting in for his sake.

After their night in the clinic, Anders had told Milos he’d meet him outside of the city this time, since he didn’t want him running into more trouble today. Before he left, he’d made sure Cole had everything he needed and that he would be okay - assured as much, he left him to it and was making his way to the gates of Kirkwall to meet his… friend.

Milos was waiting just beyond the gates, sitting on the back of a horse much different than the old white mares that had pulled the carriage. This was a taller, leaner stallion. His coat was many shades of gray, but dark overall, and he had a mean look to him that suggested he'd sooner kick or bite than let himself be touched. Milos looked quite comfortable riding him though and he offered a smile and a hand to help pull Anders up behind him. “Ready?”

---

The horse was impressive and Anders admired him as he approached. “Ready.” He took his hand and climbed up behind him. It would have been much harder if he had his robes, but he’d dressed for the occasion, having borrowed some trousers and a tunic. They felt wrong on him, but he would only be wearing them for today.

As soon as he was seated on the horse, he moved in close and wrapped his arms around Milos’s waist, wasting no time pretending to be modest. 

“It’s been a while for me,” he reminded him.

“We'll start slow.” He was pleased that Anders moved right in behind him and pressed his heels into the horse's sides, starting it at a walk. “You look nice in trousers, but it doesn't suit you as well as your robes do.” They just didn't quite have the adventurous feel that the robes he wore did.

---

“They’re not as fancy.” Not that he’d consider his robes fancy, but they were certainly a lot more decorative, if a lot more worn. “I much prefer robes.”

“They're probably more comfortable. But much more suited to your line of work than mine. Right, Thunder?” He patted the horse's neck and it answer with a huff. What he'd learned to appreciate about robes was that they made for easy access when things got heated between them and the idea made him smirk.

---

“Definitely. I can do just about anything in them, but not this.”  He tightened his arms around him and rested his cheek on his shoulder.

He turned his face enough to kiss the crown of Anders’ head. it was a nice day for a ride and he gradually brought the horse up to a quick, but steady pace. “Have you ever seen wild horses, Anders?”

---

The kiss made him smile. “No, actually. The only horses I’ve ever seen belonged to someone.” It was strange to think they roamed free, even though he knew they had to come from somewhere.

“...Do they like being captured?” No, probably not.

“They're no different from the stray cats by your clinic. They usually don't want to be caught and like their freedom. But once they're caught, they bond with people. And they like the food, shelter, and not being prey animals. Once they're spoiled, they wouldn't leave home even if you tried to turn them loose.” He gave his horse another pat. “Thunder here took a long time to domesticate and he'd still never let a stranger near him. But he and I have a deep bond for all the work we've put in together.”

---

He hummed. He remembered when Justice has once taken issue with him keeping Ser-Pounce-A-Lot, but he understood these things a bit better now. “So who named him Thunder?” It was a name be could get behind. A little silly and a little relatable.

“Willow did. I thought it was very fitting. Both his coat and his disposition are a bit stormy.” He slowed the horse a little as they came to some hills, working to get them a good vantage point to look over the grassy valleys below.

---

“I figured,” he smiled. It sounded like a name a child would use. “I named my cat Ser Pounce-A-Lot.” He missed him and still thought about him from time to time.

---

“Ser-Pounce-A-Lot?” He chuckled softly. “That's a great name for a cat. Can I meet him sometime?” Perhaps he'd favored one of the cats lurking around his clinic.

---

“He’s not my cat anymore. The Wardens made me give him up.” This was said with a note of sadness, but it passed as wistfulness. “I left him with someone at Amaranthine in Ferelden.” Hopefully he was doing well. He had been only a kitten when he’d gotten him, so there was no reason why he shouldn’t still be alive.

---

“Oh...I’m sorry, Anders. Whoever you left him with better still be calling him by his knightly title.” He gave the crown of his head another kiss, a way of apologizing for the sore subject. When the topped the next hill, he brought them to a stop, finding just what he was looking for. Below them was a herd of nearly twenty horses, grazing peacefully in the valley.

---

When they reached the horses, Anders straightened up. “Oh, wow. They’re beautiful.” His eyes fixed on one in particular. “Look at the white and brown one…” He pointed at a horse in particular that was covered equally in patches of white and brown. So much so that it was hard to say which was the base color.

---

“Is that the one you want?” He asked with a little smile. Normally he had a system for choosing which horse to wrangle. But this was his date with Anders. “I’ll catch whichever one you like best.” Or make an ass of himself trying, one of the two.

---

His brows rose. “I get to choose?” He looked out at the different horses. They were all beautiful in their own way, but his eyes went back to the white and brown one. “Yes, I like that one.” He pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I guess I should get off the horse, huh?”

---

“Then that’s the one we’ll take home.” He turned his head enough to steal a kiss from him. “That depends. If you want to watch from up here, you can get off now. Or if you want to come along, you need to hold on really tight. Up to you.”

---

He considered it. “...As fun as it sounds, I think the show will be better up here.” He slipped off the horse and landed on his feet beside him. “Good luck.” He was curious what this would be like and he did think there would be more to see if he kept his distance.

---

Milos reached into the saddle bag, pulling out gloves and a lasso. “Don’t go running off, now. I’ll come back for you with the new horse in tow.” Once his gloves were on, he gave three sharp clicking sounds with his tongue and pressed his heels into Thunder, sending him and his horse down the hill at a quickly ramping speed.

By the time the herd noticed the movement and began to run, Thunder was running much too fast for them to get away and he closed in on the horse Anders had picked in no time. His first toss with the lasso missed, but the second caught the horse around the neck and he drove it away from the group, having Thunder race alongside it until the horse seemed to tire and slow down just a little. He used the rope to bring it to a stop and he hopped off of Thunder, his eyes fixed on the frightened new horse. As he stopped closer to it, it tried to bolt but the gray stallion moved into the way. It stayed as far as it could from Milos, keeping the rope taught as it began to walk circles around him, looking for an escape route. When there was none, it continued to circle, watching the man with wide eyes that were still frightened, but also curious. It moved in just a little closer, the rope finally gaining a little slack. Milos waited, still and patient, and eventually the horse stopped her circling, nervously approaching him and starting to sniff him.

---

He did make for an impressive sight, riding the horse like that, and when he swung the lasso through the air, Anders’ eyes were wide in anticipation. He was surprised he was able to so easily get the loop around the horses’ neck and he watched with fascination as he used nothing more than the rope to keep the horse from running off. It seemed to him it could easily take off and just drag him behind, but it wasn’t.

---

He let her sniff him awhile before he slowly moved a hand up to try to touch her shoulder. She flinched, unsurprisingly, but after a few repetitions, she was still enough to let him touch her. From there, it didn’t take very long to convince her that he wasn’t a threat. At least until he jumped up onto her back. When he did, she took off like a shot, bucking and rearing. This time Thunder didn’t get in her way, taking some time for himself to graze leisurely while Milos rode the new horse.

It took some time and reassurance to settle her down, but eventually she stopped her bucking and allowed him to steer her. He rode her back up the hill to Anders and Thunder followed behind them. “She’s a little fiesty.” Milos said when he reached Anders, grinning and flushed with the exhilaration of the ride.

---

Anders gasped and started to hurry down the hill, picturing him flying off and breaking an arm or a leg, but his steps slowed and came to a stop when he saw that he had it handled. He looked so impressed when he approached him on the horse. “...That was incredible,” he told him, his eyes going to the horse he was riding. “Can I touch her?” Or would that be too dangerous?

---

“Sure you can. Just reach out slowly, she’ll spook easily until she’s been around people for awhile.” He patted the mare’s neck, as if to show it was alright. She still looked nervous, but she didn’t flinch from the touch. Instead, she nickered and Thunder answered with one of his own. “She doesn’t think much of you or me yet. But she likes Thunder, at least.”

---

As told, he reached out slowly and set his hand on her neck. He smiled. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” She was even more stunning up close. She had bright blue eyes and he stroked her neck slowly as he looked into the one closest to him. “Is she a good horse?” He wasn’t quite sure how to ask the question. He wanted to know if he’d chosen a good one.

---

“I don’t know yet. She’s gorgeous, which is always a good start, and she looks healthy at a glance. I can give her a more thorough examination when we get back. She’s not really broken yet, I’ll keep working with her over the next few weeks and see what she likes to do. If she doesn’t like riding or work, maybe she’d like to be bred. She must be old enough, considering the way she’s flirting with old Thunder over there.” He chuckled and hopped down from her back, keeping hold of the rope around her neck. “I think you picked a good one, Anders.”

---

“That was pretty easy.” It didn’t look easy, or at least, it didn’t seem as easy has Milos had made it look, but they were already done. “I guess there will be no fucking in an open field, huh? Not if we have a wild horse with us.” He gave him a little smirk, still stroking her.

---

“Sure we can. We’ve just got to wear her out first.” He chuckled as he tied the rope to the horn of Thunder’s saddle. “Are you up for a fast ride? We can take them to the stream and give the horses a rest and a drink. If we give them a good run on the way, they’ll be tuckered out and we’ll have some time to ourselves…”

---

“Sounds good to me.” He waited for him to get on Thunder and then offered his hand, asking for help up. He settled right behind him and slid his arms around his waist again. This time, however, as they got started moving, he slid his hand down to his front to begin rubbing him.

---

He made a soft sound when the hand started to rub him. “Hang on tight…” As long as he kept his arms tightly around him, he could have his fun even at full speed. He signaled Thunder to go faster, building speed gradually so Anders could adjust to the change.

---

He held to him tight and even at full speed, he was able to continue what he was doing. He rubbed him firmly, considering trying to kiss his neck, but there was too much movement going on for him to be able to do anything with his lips. It would be easier to simply rest his head on his shoulder again, so he did just that.

---

By the time they reached the stream, he was rock hard. Riding fast always got his blood racing, but it had never gotten it racing in this way before. When he brought them to a stop, he was all but tugging Anders to come down off of Thunder’s back with him. Thunder would keep the new mare in check, right now he just needed Anders on the ground with him.

---

Anders was smirking as he slipped off the horse again, this time pressing against Milos as he found his feet. “Want to try riding a real stallion?” It was a cheesy line, but he’d liked seeing him like that and he liked the idea of him riding him next even more.

---

“I’m always up for a hard ride…” He pulled Anders down with him into the grass, leaving the horses to wander to the water’s edge on their own. He was already tugging off the mage’s borrowed tunic. “Let’s see if I can tame this one…”

---

Since the clothes were already coming off, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bottle of oil, holding it in his palm as he helped him get his tunic off and then returned the favor. He kissed him hard, his hands demanding as they shoved his trousers down so he could take hold of his cock and start stroking him.

---

“You planned ahead.” He mumbled against his lips. He’d brought oil as well, but Anders had beaten him to it. He rocked into his grasp, his own hands working to free him in return. “It’s almost as if you were planning to fuck me on this innocent riding date…”

---

“What tipped you off?” He lifted his hips to help him and popped the cork of the bottle to coat his fingers in oil, before resuming stroking him. “Have I finally offended your sensibilities?”

---

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you like me a little bit…” He groaned as the oil slickened him and raised up on his knees, eager to settle into Anders’ lap. But first, he took him in hand as well, stroking him now that he was exposed. “That wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’ve been thinking about you late at night...in the dark...in my bed…” He kissed him between phrases, unable to get enough.

---

He smirked. He hadn’t offended them at all, it seemed. “What do you think about?” He’d been doing the same. Thinking about him and touching himself every night. Every night. He let go of him so he could slip in a couple of strokes himself, wanting to slicken his own cock, before returning to him.

---

When Anders was coated in oil, he started to shift onto his lap. “I think about you stroking me just like this. Sometimes using that fun little shock you give me. Or I think about your lips around my cock, sucking me hard. Or about fucking you all night long…”

---

“There are so many ways for me to please your cock,” he agreed, giving it a squeeze, a low current flowing into it from his fingers. A constant sensation. “I like pleasing your cock.” He liked pleasing him, period. He lifted his hips, wanting to be positioned so he could push in, even though he’d asked him to take charge.

---

Milos used his grasp on him to position him, then sank slowly down onto his cock with a groan. His body was still adjusting to these intrusions after so long without and the mage's hand and magic did wonders to distract from what little discomfort there was. “I like pleasing yours too. Especially when it's inside me…”

---

He gave him a heated smile. “I know it feels good.” There was a little bit of cockiness to him, something that he hadn’t experienced in years, but it was pleasant to feel confident about that part of his body again. He began to roll his hips up into him, his eyes trained on Milos’.

---

“It does. You're so big…” He didn't mind the cockiness. It was well earned. He started to ride him to the rhythm that Anders’ hips set and watched him with lusted eyes.

---

Wild stallion that he was supposed to be, Anders was steady and thorough in his thrusts.”What else do you think about? Or is it only that?” He wanted to know about all of his thoughts, especially as they pertained to him.

---

“I think about you in more innocent ways in the daylight hours.” He didn't want him to think he only thought of him in the context of sex, though in the heat of the moment it was hard to think of anything else. “But when I touch myself I always imagine you. Your hands, your mouth, your ass, your cock, your magic. All of it. You make me so hard…”

---

He quickened his stroking briefly to reward him for his words. “I can feel how hard you are.” Hard as a rock, as he’d been since they’d climbed off the horse. “It’s a shame you can’t meet me every night.” He’d love it if they fucked every night so he didn’t have to touch himself. This was so much better than that. “Then you wouldn’t have to imagine me at all.”

---

“I know...think how much better we'd both sleep if we could wear each other out…” He moaned, starting to ride him faster. “Do you ever think of me, Anders?”

---

“Sometimes,” he replied cryptically, for the fun of it. He groaned, snapping his hips up into him harder. “Unfortunately for me, I live in the sewers. You live in the countryside.” They couldn't  be further from each other.  Such meetings had to be planned and they both struggled with time to make such plans.

---

“Maybe you won’t always want to stay in the sewers. A couple nights a week out in the fresh country air might be good for you.” It was fun to think of Anders touching himself, thinking of being inside him just like he was now.

---

He hummed. That did sound nice. The sewers left much to be desired, but he knew it was too soon to be considering such things. He gripped his hip with his free hand, stroking him at the same fast pace he’d rewarded him with before, but maintaining it this time.

---

“What do you think of when you think about me at night?” Since it seemed he wasn’t ready to talk about spending the night, he’d go back to the previous topic. Though the faster stroking broke up his question with a moan.

---

“You pounding me into my cot.” All the while, he stroked his cock. He varied it up, of course, but nothing so frequent as simply wishing he were there. It was the easiest thing to imagine. “Sometimes things that would make you blush, I’m sure.” He had a lot of fantasies, fulfilled and unfulfilled. There was so much to think about.

---

“Oh yeah?” He smirked and started to ride him harder, groaning deeply. “Try me. Tell me about one of them that might make me blush.” He wanted to know what he thought about in those quiet moments before sleep.

---

He just gave him a mysterious smile. As much as he enjoyed his fantasies, he wasn’t keen on sharing them. Not anymore. Better to see what Milos liked and then indulge that way. Justice would prefer it too - some restraint that would hopefully stop them from being so sexual so often. 

---

“Keeping secrets, hmm? I guess you’ll just have to show me someday…” It was disappointing, but he’d have to be patient. Maybe Anders wouldn’t always keep his fantasies to himself.

---

“I have many secrets.” So many. So little he shared about himself. With anyone. There was a time when only Justice knew him completely, but it seemed these days that there was someone else. Cole seemed to know everything… and in spite of everything, Cole seemed to like him for it.

---

He’d lived a crazy life, he didn’t doubt he had secrets. But he didn’t expect him to keep secrets regarding what he wanted to do with him. He didn’t press any further though, focusing instead on riding him faster. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back, wanting to savor the feel of him bucking up hard into him.

---

Since he had nothing further to say, Anders also focused on what they were doing. He groaned and the longer it went on, the more he needed both of his hands. He eventually released him to take hold of his hips, pulling him down onto him so they met with even more force. He was panting and flushed, the color bright in the sunlight, especially on his pale skin that so rarely saw the sun.  At the pace he was going, it didn’t take long for the pleasure to reach a peak and he cried out, filling him up.

---

The strength in Anders’ hands amazed him every time. He knew this man could really hurt him if he wanted to, between being a mage and a Warden, and that gave him some sort of thrill. That he chose to give him only pleasure instead. He started to stroke himself to make up for the loss when he held his hips and it didn’t take long for him to finish after the heat of Anders’ release filled him. He gasped, pumping himself wildly as he spilled over the healer’s body and his riding slowed to a stop.

---

When they were both finished, he slid his hands up and around him, pulling him down into a kiss. “Another dip in the water might be in order.” This water ought to be warmer, though, having had the sun shining on it all morning.

---

“I made a bit of a mess, didn’t I?” He chuckled under his breath and stole another kiss from him. But he made no move to climb out of his lap. “You’re so strong…” He murmured, his tone still low with lust. He wasn’t used to being with someone stronger than him and it was such a turn on.

---

“You should’ve seen me when I was with the Wardens. I actually had muscle then.” He still had muscle, but not nearly as much. Not between his lack of training and lack of food. “They trained us hard.”

---

“I’m sure they did.” He ran his fingers absently over the mage’s arms. “When you hold me like that, I can feel how strong you are. I can tell you could do incredible things if you were called on to really use that strength. It’s so sexy…”

---

He chuckled, sliding his hands back down to his hips and gripping them strong enough to bruise. “That’s usually not what people notice about me.” Usually it was his magic, so it was somewhat strange to have him be so taken with something other than his arcane abilities. He lightened his touch, stroking his fingers up his sides.

---

He didn’t flinch from the painful grip, but he liked the gentle stroking that followed. “Well, the fire and lightning bolts are a little more flashy.” He admitted with a smirk. “But your body turns me on even more.”

---

When his hands wandered back down, it was to heal the damage he’d caused before it had the chance to mark him. “Then perhaps you should spend some more time with it today.” He wasn’t in a hurry and he wouldn’t mind wasting a few hours with him. The sun was warm and the water would be refreshing - what more did they need?

---

“I think I will.” He was in no hurry either. He wasn’t even in a hurry to get down to the stream, though it did sound nice to bathe with him. Instead, he draped his arms around his shoulders, stealing soft, slow kisses from him. He wouldn’t mind having him right here in the grass again before they went down to the water and he started to rock his hips to show him where his thoughts were headed.

Chapter Text

As Anders expected, the water was warm. At least, it was warmed compared to the water on their midnight ride. He still added some heat of his own, but it had otherwise been a luxurious bath together. After they dried off and spent some more time kissing, they went to where the horses had settled and mounted back up. “Dropping me off at the gates?” he asked as he wrapped his arms back around him.

---

“If we get back before dark. If not, I’ll walk with you.” Not that Anders needed any protection. He smiled when the arms came around him and he got Thunder moving, the tethered horse following along. “So...what do you want to name her?”

---

Definitely not. If they got there after dark, he would insist he simply go home. He didn’t want him wandering around after dark. “Name her? Me? No, why don’t you let your daughter choose? She did such a good job with Thunder, didn’t she?” It was a nice thought, but he’d already chosen the horse, he wouldn’t feel right naming her too.

---

“You picked her, she’s your horse.” He told him with a smile. Willow had named plenty of horses and would have the opportunity to name many more. “Of all the things I said I might do with her, selling her was not on the list like it would be for any other wild-caught horse. If one caught your eye, I wanted you to have her and she’s the one you wanted. So what will you name her?”

---

His eyes widened. “My horse?” What was he talking about? He couldn’t have a horse… “I don’t understand, if you’re going to keep the horse, surely it is your horse.” Was suggesting he was going to keep her for him? That was asking too much of him. “Surely you can’t afford to just give away horses, either.”

---

“I can’t. That’s why I’ll put her to work while she’s living with me once I figure out what she likes to do.” It would make up for the cost of her feeding, care, and room in the stables. “But she’ll be yours. When she’s broken, I’ll bring her with me for you to ride when we go out. I’ll bring her to you any time you need to travel and you’d like your mount and if you ever decide to move somewhere with the space for her, you can take her. I caught her for you, Anders.”

---

“Milos…” He looked back at the horse trailing after him. She could be his… and he didn’t even have to take care of her. Milos would take care of her for him. “It’s too much to ask of you…” He wasn’t even sure where this was going. What if they broke up? Not that they were even together, but what if they decided they were done? He supposed Milos would simply keep her.

---

“You didn’t ask though. This was my idea.” He smiled over his shoulder at him. “You’ve saved me twice now. Let me do something for you.” Not that he’d exactly been on the brink of death on either occasion. But Anders had helped him just the same and never asked for anything.

---

He bit his lip and then looked back at the horse again. He thought of over for a while. “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about a name.” He wasn’t sure what he wanted to name her, but if he was going to give her a name, he wanted it to be a good one.

---

“You’ve got time.” She didn’t need a name right away. He looked over at the new horse and smiled. She would be a nice addition to his stable for as long as she lived there. “She needs a pretty name to go with that nice coat.”

---

“She does,” he agreed, his eyes turning back to him. He tightened his hold on him. “Thank you,” he murmured into his ear and, since they weren’t going too quickly, he suckled on his lobe briefly. It was tempting to let his hand fall again, but they’d already whiled away the hours as it was.

---

“You’re welcome. I hope you like her once she’s tamed down.” He thought she’d have a good temperament. She’d been frightened, but not aggressive and it had taken no time at all to earn her trust enough to touch her. The tease to his ear was nice and he moved a hand to stroke his fingers absently over one of the arms around his middle.

---

“I already like her.” She was lovely and the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea of having her. A horse could be helpful if he needed to make a quick escape or if he needed to help someone else make a quick escape. “I can’t wait to try riding her.”

---

“I don’t think she’ll take too long to break. But I want to be sure she’s ready before I put you on her. I can’t have your first horse bucking you or any shenanigans like that.” He’d hate to see the man get hurt, even if he could mend it quickly.

---

“That would be much appreciated.” He rested his cheek against his shoulder again, but this time shut his eyes. He was tired and he wanted to rest while he had another body to rest against.

---

He chuckled but let silence fall between them, comfortable and content to just be held by him as they rode. When they reached the gates, he pressed a kiss to Anders’ crown. “It’s starting to get dark. Do you think you can get back to your clinic before nightfall or should I walk with you?”

---

“I’ve got it. It’s safer for you to get back home before dark.” He lifted a hand and used it to keep his face turned so he could steal a kiss from over his shoulder. “Feel free to stop by whenever you’re in town - before dark.”

---

“But after dark is when I can have my time alone with you…” He stayed turned enough to press a couple insistent kisses to his lips. “I’ll visit in the daytime when I’m back in town. But I’ll come around again that night so we can have our fun too.”

---

“We’ll talk about it when you visit.” He could at least meet him somewhere. “Goodnight, Milos.” He pulled away from him and hopped from Thunder a final time. With a fleeting look at him, he started towards the gates, smiling to himself and walking with a happiness in his gait that was normally absent.

---

“See you soon.” He’d make sure of it. He could come up with reasons to visit town more often. He smiled as he turned the horses and pressed his heels into Thunder, sending him racing toward home. It had been a great day with his new lover and he couldn't wait to see him again.

---

When Anders returned to the clinic, he wasn’t sure what he would find. It was still early enough in the day that it wasn’t supposed to be closed, but he wasn’t sure how busy it had or hadn’t been. He stepped inside and looked around, finally thinking of something other than the man he’d gone riding with that day.

---

Cole had been busy, but he’d enjoyed the change of pace from spending his days in the Circle. He only had one patient at the time Anders came in, though at some points of the day he’d had a line up. The man on the table had a badly broken leg. He was weeping, but it had little to do with his leg. Cole was using healing magic to numb his pain as he pulled his leg taut, lining up the bones as he mended them. “It wasn’t your fault she left. You tried to listen to her and meet her demands, but they weren’t reasonable. She needs to work on herself before she can be with anyone else. Maybe once she does, she’ll realize how much you love her and come home.” He was saying gently to the man when he heard the mage step in. He looked to him and greeted him with a nod and the man tried to dry his eyes, murmuring a greeting for Anders as well.

---

Anders saw what he was doing and was quick to go to him. “Is he alright?” He used his own magic to see the state of his leg and when saw what had been done and what still needed to be done, he set a hand on Cole’s arm. “Let me take care of this.” He’d been doing a good job, but while he was here, he felt like he ought to do it.

---

“Best to let the master handle it.” He had no qualms with admitting that Anders was the better man for the job while his magic was weakened like this. He stepped aside to let Anders work. “He’s alright. I’ve kept his pain controlled. His wife left him last week, that’s hurting him more than anything.”

---

He gave him a sympathetic look, but didn’t comment. It wasn’t his place to. He simply finished up healing his leg and making sure that his bones were properly aligned when all was said and done. It looked good and he took a step back. “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Maybe he had some other issue that wasn’t as immediate as the broken leg.

---

“No, I’m feeling better now.” The man said as he eased himself off of the table to test his leg. He would have to take it easy, but he would be fine. “Thank you, both of you.” With that, he started out of the clinic.

When the door had closed behind him, Cole began to clean up. “So, how was your day out with Milos? His sorrow was very loud and I couldn’t hear what you were thinking on your way in.” Though he could feel how happy the healer had been.

---

He watched the man go and when he was gone, he turned back to Cole. “It was great. He gave me a horse.” He hesitated, and then moved closer to him to wrap his arms around him. “Thank you for taking care of the clinic for me.” It gave him the free time to go out and really take the day for himself and enjoy his fledgling relationship. Before he could overthink it, he pressed a grateful kiss to his cheek.

---

Cole hadn’t been expecting the hug and the kiss surprised him even more. They were affections he often gave but rarely, if ever, received. He smiled and embraced him in return. “Anytime you like. I want you to have time for a little fun.” And to help the Underground. As he’d promised, he’d watch the clinic for that purpose as well. “I didn’t think he would give you a horse. But it is a good gift idea.” Practical for transportation and a wonderful animal.

---

“He caught one for me,” he explained further, giving his cheek another kiss in the same spot before breaking the embrace. “I know you have a lot to do. You should probably get going.” It would be nice if he stayed, though. After a day with Milos, he was craving continued company and it would be nice to sleep beside someone.

He couldn’t sleep beside Milos, but he could sleep beside Cole. The only problem was that Anders didn’t really need him and that the spirit had many ways to make better use of his time.

---

He studied him for a long moment, then shook his head. “A lot of the people who needed me met me in here today and things are quiet in the Circle. I can stay tonight…” He nodded over to a basket on Anders’ desk. “The older woman you helped brought soup and bread here for your patients today and she left some things for you. I’ll make us some tea when everything is cleaned up.”

---

“It’s alright, Cole, I had a good day.” Tea did sound nice though. He started to clean up, for once their roles switching. The clinic wasn’t in too bad of shape, though, and there wasn’t too much to do.

“I know you did. But you don't want to be alone tonight. I've missed holding you while you sleep.” Since Anders took over the cleaning, he went to the basket to get the tea leaves. There was a little meat pie in the basket that he pulled out as well, wanting to be sure Anders ate it and didn't give it away.

---

He felt a little sheepish, the words a reminder that Cole had slept with him a lot more than he’d been aware of. It was still a little violating, but not as much anymore. He understood him now and knew that he’d only helped him.

“I didn’t know you enjoyed those things.” He knew he enjoyed helping, but he wouldn’t have thought he’d enjoy the act itself.

“I do. It is nice to lay beside someone you like.” He had liked Anders before he'd formally met him. But he liked him even more now. He fetched some water for the tea, using magic to heat it.

---

“It is.” His mind went back to the Circle, when the mages would slip out of their beds and into others. Sometimes for sex - more often just for comfort. He’d cuddled with many mages before he’d escaped for good.

When he finished cleaning, he went to him. “Smells good.”

“It does. I don't eat or drink often. But I like to once in awhile.” He hadn't liked everything he'd tried. Perhaps they were things Cole hadn't liked when he was alive. “Maybe you should invite Milos to sleep with you some night. I'm sure you would prefer his arms around you over mine.” He offered Anders the meat pie while the tea brewed.

---

It was odd. If he didn’t have to eat or drink… what happened when he did? “Maybe.” He didn’t know. It would be nice, but it would also be… more. This was simpler.

---

“Only a suggestion. I’m happy to stay with you.” He nodded toward the meat pie. “Please, have some of this. She made it for you and I promised her I would get it to you. She’ll bring more soup and bread for the others tomorrow.”

---

He looked at the pie, somewhat guiltily, but he did need to eat. He was pretty hungry after the day he’d had, so without fussing, he grabbed it and carried it over to his desk after picking up a fork along the way. He dug into it, still guilty, greedily. It didn’t take him long to get through it, even without anything to wash it down.

---

By the time he’d finished, the tea was done steeping and Cole brought him a cup of it. He poured a second for himself, then moved to take a seat on a stool near the desk. “Maybe I can meet your new horse sometime. I like horses.” He liked most animals, even if they weren’t all very kind.

---

“I have to come up with a name for her.” He wasn’t sure what he’d choose, but then he hadn’t thought about it for all that long, either. “I don’t know that she’s really mine, despite what Milos says. I suppose we’ll see.” He probably wouldn’t consider her his until he was the one taking care of her. As such, he probably would never consider her his.

---

“Do you think he is lying? That he would keep her from you if you asked for her?” He asked with a frown and sipped his tea. He didn’t like to think that he’d encouraged Anders to court a liar. The mage deserved better than that. “If he gave you a horse, she should be yours and you should name her.”

---

“I don’t know. I think he means it, but who knows what will happen between us. It might not go beyond today, for all I know, and if that was the case, I can hardly ask him to keep a horse for me.” He sipped at the tea, finding it warm and refreshing. “Thank you,” he murmured, before taking another sip.

---

“You shouldn’t have to ask him to. If he offered, he must honor it.” He would see to it, if it came to that. “You’re welcome. I like this tea, but it isn’t my favorite. Do you have a favorite flavor?”

---

“Mint, I think. It’s a flavor that’s underutilized.” He’d had a mint sweet once, but otherwise he’d only ever tasted mint in tea. “Otherwise, I think fruit teas are fun.” He wasn’t going to drag things out between him and Milos, if it came to that. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.

---

“I think fruit teas are my favorites. Cole never had many sweet things, but he liked them and so do I.” He thought for a moment, then tilted his head curiously. “Can Justice enjoy tea through you? Flavor is not something I ever understood or appreciated until I became Cole.”

---

“In some way, I think he does. I think he enjoys many of the things I do, I just think he prefers not to indulge.” Justice had never eaten or drinken for them, so he didn’t know if the experience would be any different, but he imagined not.

---

“Is he okay with me staying with you tonight?” He asked, knowing he already pushed the boundaries of what Justice would tolerate. “I know he would prefer I spend the time working in the Circle. But is he alright with me bringing you comfort just for tonight?”

---

“Justice has been… very tolerant.” Much more tolerant than he knew him to be. He knew it was difficult for him and he knew he disapproved, especially since he’d had such a good day and he didn’t need Cole, but he wasn’t saying anything. He wasn’t complaining. He was staying true to his word to try to allow him to take the time he needed for himself. “If Justice had a body of his own, like he wants, perhaps I would simply sleep with him.”

The suggestion took Justice aback, but warmth followed.

---

“You most likely wouldn’t need me anymore if he could do that.” He finished his tea and set down the cup with a content sigh. “Would you like more tea? Or do you want to get changed and lie down?” He couldn’t imagine Anders going to sleep in those pants.

---

He hadn’t meant it like that and Anders frowned. He wasn’t sure what to say, though, because as much of Cole’s time as he took up, he could do a lot more good elsewhere. “I think that’s enough for me tonight.” He got up and he moved to his nook, where he’d left his clothes draped across his cot. It was quick to change, pulling on only his underrobes for the sake of comfort.

---

He cleaned up after the meal while Anders changed, then moved to join him in the nook. He set aside his cumbersome hat, but otherwise stayed as he was as he moved to the mage, taking his hand and guiding him to sit on the bed beside him. “I didn’t take offense. I would like for Justice to have his own body and for you to be able to draw comfort from him that way.”

---

It was strange to see him without his hat. He did not look… well, but most people he saw day to day didn’t look well. “I don’t think Justice would tolerate it for long.” Justice had felt warm at the suggestion and he seemed a little conflicted now, a little hurt even, but Justice knew he was right. He would gave him some of his time, but not most of it. Not unless they were working together.

---

“Starvation and death do little for a mortal’s appearance. I obscure my face so I don’t frighten the people I mean to help. I can put the hat back on if seeing me makes you uncomfortable.” He didn’t mind, but he’d taken it off because he didn’t think it would bother the healer. After all, he saw plenty of starvation and death, he just didn’t always sleep beside it.

---

“No, that’s alright. I hardly look well myself.” Whatever Milos insisted, he hadn’t seen him in his prime. He’d looked much better then. He still found it strange that he looked like Cole at all, but he supposed that if he was going to take after him, it made sense that he would take after what he’d looked like when he’d seen him.

---

“You are looking better each day. You’ve been sleeping better and perhaps with the woman’s help you will be eating better as well.” His sunken eyes were still obscured by a mess of blonde hair, but they studied him. He thought that the mage did look better since he’d been able to take some of the weight off of his shoulders. He began to lay down, using his hand on Anders to encourage him to do the same.

---

Anders followed his example. It felt a little odd, but he’d wanted this. It would help him to feel close to someone this way, especially someone he knew he could trust. There was little room on the cot and he pulled up his robes to his knees so he could at least tangle their calves a little. A blanket would keep him warm.

---

The lack of space wasn’t an issue for Cole and he wrapped his arms around the mage, holding him to his chest. He tangled their legs further, his hold on him every bit as tender and intimate as a lover’s would be. He kissed Anders’ cheek, wanting him to feel warm and cared for in the quiet moments before sleep.

---

The intimacy of the hold surprised him. He’d only been held like this a handful of times in his life and not in a long time. The last time had been with Karl. Even his lovers since then hadn’t held him like this. Certainly not Milos, though it was hardly his fault when they’d only just started getting physical and hadn’t spent any time together outside of fucking.

He shut his eyes and made a soft sound at the kiss, feeling as cared for as Cole wanted him to.

---

“Sleep well, Anders.” He murmured into his ear. He would see to it that he did. Staying this close to him, he could easily chase away any nightmare that should disturb his rest. “Goodnight, Justice.”

Chapter Text

When Anders roused the next morning, he did so in a way that was not all that different from a babe. Little shifts, slight fusses, soft sounds, but the entire time he stayed close to Cole. In fact, he pressed closer to him, the arm that had wrapped around him in night tightening and his face tucking against the spirit’s chin.

---

The spirit could feel that the man was waking slowly and when he pulled in closely, Cole reciprocated and tightened his hold on him. He stroked his back slowly and gently, no longer worried about staying motionless since he was beginning to rouse on his own. He began to hum for him softly, the soothing song something ancient and forgotten in the world of mortals, wondering if it might help Anders to get a little more rest before the clinic would have to open.

---

It was soothing and not only to Anders. It was a song that Justice recognized and that he’d not heard in more lifetimes than he could number. It took a long time for Anders’ eyes to crack, but when they did, he tucked his face further against him, almost hiding in his neck. This was too pleasant, he didn’t want to wake and face the day, not when laying like this was perfect.

---

Cole smiled to himself. Despite what Anders said, he did need this, whether or not he had a good day. He needed more companionship and someone to hold him in the night. He kissed the top of his head. He wasn’t in any big hurry to make him move.

---

Anders felt the kiss and his lips tugged up slightly. His head tipped up and returned a kiss of his own. So light as to be near non-existence, just beneath his jawline. His lips tugged up a little further and he let out a sigh as he settled into this new position.

---

It wasn’t long before was needed and he knew he couldn’t linger much longer. He tipped his head down and he kissed his lips, as light and chaste as any of his other kisses. “Did you sleep well, Anders?”

---

As soon as he felt the lips on his, even as gentle as it was, he returned it. His eyes opened briefly, bleary, but they closed again. “Cole.” That’s who he was with. Who was holding him. He had slept well. Better than he’d slept in a long time, especially since the attention had been for his conscious mind as well as his subconscious mind.

---

He hadn’t expected his kiss to be returned and it warmed him. “You must have.” He let his face linger close to his and closed his eyes, rather relaxed himself despite knowing he should go. He wasn’t use to connecting with one particular mortal this way.

---

That is enough.

Justice cut through the peace and Anders opened his eyes. He realized how close he was and felt an odd welling of shame. Considering the sudden outburst, Anders assumed it wasn’t his own, but sometimes it was hard to tell their emotions apart and this felt like one of those times.

“Oh. Oh. Sorry, I… sorry.” He pulled back from him, rather baffled.

---

Cole’s eyes opened quickly, the change in emotion startling him. Even with a little distance between them, his arms were around Anders. There wasn’t much space for them to separate on the cot. “Sorry? Why, what happened?”

---

“I shouldn’t have, sorry I was out of it.” Not entirely, but he’d felt so comfortable and content that it’d felt right to return the affection. He shouldn’t have, though, it wasn’t right. He didn’t know exactly why it wasn’t right, but he knew it wasn’t right and it was time for Cole to go.

---

“You have nothing to apologize for. I kissed you because I am fond of you. I did not mean to cross a line I shouldn’t have.” He released him then to climb out of the cot, moving to collect his hat. He knew he had overstayed his welcome.

---

He had. He’d crossed a line that he absolutely shouldn’t have and there would be no more resting together. Anders gripped the pillow he was resting on, the torrent of thoughts hitting him hard. He didn’t understand, but they weren’t his own. There was too much there that didn’t make sense. “Justice, stop it!” he demanded aloud and they eased, but only a little.

---

It seemed it was Justice that he offended. “I’m sorry. I only meant to help. I like being affectionate with you and I thought you liked it too. If you want me to stay away, I will…” It would be a shame, but he would respect his wishes.

---

Anders was hurt.  “I don’t want you to.” Justice, still riled, wrapped a possessive arm around him. Anders felt it, but it confused him as much as everything else. Tears pricked at his eyes. “I don’t understand what’s happening.” Justice had never been this… worked up, not in this way. Sometimes he had in anger, but he would’ve taken over by now if he was that angry. “It was nothing.” But he shouldn’t have.

---

“I didn’t mean for it to be anything. You were happy, I was soothing you. I wanted to help…” He didn’t understand why the two of them were so conflicted on the matter. Why Justice was making Anders hurt over it. But at least Anders didn’t want him to stay away.

---

Anders had been all of those things, Justice had not. He pushed forward and took over, visibly calming, but becoming inscrutable. “Anders is my mortal.” He’d never had reason to be possessive of him before. Demons didn’t dare approach him, not while he was inside, and this was the first spirit they’d come across. “You can help him without being so intimate with him.” Part of the reason he hadn’t liked it because of how good Anders had felt. He wanted him to feel good, but he didn’t like the idea of another spirit influencing him so.

What if he decided he no longer wanted him?

---

“I know he is yours. I made no claim of him and I would never try to take your place. I couldn’t take your place.” He moved closer, hoping he could soothe the spirit now that he’d come forward. “Your relationship with him is so special. You’re his best friend. He loves you in a way he could never love anyone else. I was only giving him affection in a way that he needs and misses and I was helping until you distressed him. It could never threaten what you have with him.”

---

Justice frowned. He knew that Anders loved him, as he loved Anders, but Cole had been… better for him. Better for his happiness, anyway. Human emotions were fickle - what if that changed?

“If he needs that comfort, he should take it from a mortal. From Milos, not from you.” He didn’t like how much Anders had fallen into him. He’d never felt that from him before, not even in the intimate moments with Milos.

“I agree. Maybe he won't need it from me when things progress with Milos. When they start spending their nights together. But right now, this is something he sorely needs and I am the one who can give it to him.” Surely Justice had felt how good it was for Anders to wake in his arms.

---

Justice’s frown deepened. “I do not want things to progress with Milos. They spend plenty of time together.” He was letting him do as he wished, but this need for more was exactly what he’d wanted to avoid.

“I do not like sharing him.” It was better when it was only them and no one else got in the way. At least, it was better for him. Not for Anders.

“I'm sorry, but he needs it. Without a body, you can’t be the one to give him that intimacy. You must decide if you're willing to let him have it or not.” He said this gently, reaching out to put a soothing hand on his arm. “I know this is hard for you and that you are trying to accommodate him.”

---

Even if he had a body, he didn’t know how much ‘intimacy’ he would share with Anders. He didn’t think he would kiss him, but he supposed that he didn’t know. It wasn’t possible, so he’d never thought about it, but he didn’t think he would.

“It shouldn’t be you,” he repeated, though it was hard to argue against. He knew Compassion was only trying to help, he was just worried that it might change. That he might want Anders and that Anders might want him… but if he wanted a body of his own, did it matter?

He didn’t quite recognize this feeling of jealousy in him. It was a foreign feeling, one that he recognized, but couldn’t name when it came from him alone.

“Anders is… too comfortable with you.”

“I thought it was good for him. I will go.” He was asking too much. Justice had allowed much of what he'd asked of him on Anders’ behalf, but asking him to accept that he'd given him this intimacy because it was what he felt he needed was going too far. He would give him space, as much as he didn't want to.

---

“That would be best,” he agreed, deciding that he would remain in control until Cole left. He pushed them up and started to dress them the rest of the way so Anders wouldn’t have to.

He vanished, leaving them be. He would return, but not for at least several days. They needed to work this out between  themselves and his presence would likely only agitate Justice and make matters worse.

---

When Justice gave control back and Anders found himself alone, he was anxious. What did you do?

We agreed that he shouldn’t be doing such things with you.

You scared him off?

No, he left because he agreed with me.

Is he coming back?

There was a hesitation. Justice didn’t know if he was coming back. He didn’t think he’d stay away, but all he’d said was ‘I will go’. The hesitation was enough to upset Anders.

“Maker Justice, do you have to ruin everything good that happens to me?!”

Justice was resentful of that, so he fell into silence and Anders was left to stew in sorrow.

Chapter Text

Milos was happy he’d managed to get back to town before another week passed and the timing was perfect - by the time his sister and Willow were taking the supplies from Kirkwall back home and preparing to have another “girl’s night”, it was growing dark and the clinic would be closing soon.

He picked up dinner for two on his way, choosing a rich marinated beef that he thought would be to Anders’ liking. He thanked his lucky stars that he wasn’t mugged on the way, for a change, and since he arrived while the lantern was still lit, he let himself into the clinic. For once he didn’t see a patient when he walked in and he smiled, eager to see his lover after days apart.

---

With each day that passed and Cole didn’t come back, Anders became more and more depressed. More and more certain that he wasn’t coming back atl all. Anders had come to want his company. He liked spirits and he liked Cole and he liked feeling like there was someone that cared about him. That really cared about him in a way that no one else could.

No one but Justice, of course, but even then it was different. Justice cared about him deeply, but not in the same way Cole did. He knew it wasn’t the spirit’s fault and he could feel Justice’s frustration whenever he compared them, but they were as different as their creeds and he was someone that could desperately use some compassion in his life.

Though Justice didn’t want Cole to be completely gone - they still needed his help, after all - the more despondent Anders became, the gladder that he was. His concerns had clearly had been valid and he didn’t want Anders depending so much on another spirit.

When Milos stepped in, Justice was somewhat frustrated, but when Anders’ reaction was only a flicker of happiness and a small smile, he knew he had to help. Let’s put out the lantern and lock up so you can spend some time with Milos.

Anders wasn’t sure why he was suggesting that - he’d have thought he’d want Milos gone as well.

“I told you not to come around after dark,” he told him lightly.

---

“It’s only just now getting dark. Besides, I came to town prepared.” He raised his tunic enough to reveal a dagger on his belt. “Are you hungry? We’ve never really shared a meal and I picked up something I thought you might like…”

---

He looked at the dagger. “Do you know how to wield that dagger?” He moved to do as Justice suggested, putting out the lantern and locking the door. “I could eat.” He was rather hungry, but he preferred not to seem as starving as he was most of the time.

---

“Kind of. I know which end of it to put into somebody that’s attacking me, at least.” Hopefully he would never need to. He was still standing near the door and when Anders finished locking up, he moved in close and kissed his lips. “I’ve missed you, Anders.”

---

He returned the kiss softly, but he didn’t linger long. “Just be careful with the dagger. It might seem safer to have it, but unless you know what you’re doing with it, it might just make the situation more dangerous.” He would seem more of a threat and whoever was messing with him would have all the more reason to harm him.

---

“I’ll be careful. Maybe I’ll find someone to teach me. You said you know some swordplay but I thought I’d start small with a dagger.” He offered Anders the basket he’d brought their meal in, unsure where he would want to eat it since there wasn’t exactly a dinner table. “...Are you alright? I could come back another night if this is a bad time…” He couldn’t expect Anders to be extremely enthused every time he came to see him, but he seemed a little off this evening.

---

He took the basket from him and carried it over to his desk. “I’m okay, I’ve just had a… long week is all.” He sat down. “I might not be as fun as usual tonight, though, so if you’d rather go, that’s alright.”

---

“No. As long as you want me here, I want to stay.” He pulled up a stool to sit near him, watching him solemnly. “Do you want to talk about your week? I don’t know if I can be much help, but I’m a good listener.”

---

“No, that’s okay. There’s not much to say.” His hands fiddled with the basket. After a beat, he went on abruptly, “Actually, there are probably some things I should tell you. Things that you don’t know about me and that you probably should.” He could feel Justice’s wariness, but it wasn’t anything that wasn’t already known by others, even if he tried to keep it as secret as possible.

---

“Then I’m all ears.” He leaned forward a little, folding his hands on the desk. “I want to know more about you anyway. Tell me anything you want.”

---

His hands slid down into his lap and he clasped them together. “Well, the first thing that you should probably know is that… well, I’m an abomination.” There. One thing off of the list of secrets. The list of reasons why he had no need to be getting involved with someone else.

---

“What...does that mean exactly?” He’d heard of mages being called that if they were possessed by demons. But he didn’t think Anders was the sort of man to make a deal with a demon for power. He had never really been around mages so he didn’t know much about them besides what outsiders said.

---

He wasn’t sure if he didn’t know or if he just didn’t want to believe it. “It means I’m possessed by a spirit. It’s… different from being possessed by a demon.” Only different in so much that he was possessed by a spirit and not a demon, but both he and Justice thought it was a pretty big difference.

---

“That’s a relief. I thought you meant you had a demon. So there’s a spirit...listening to us right now?” He looked around as if he might see it now that he was aware of it. He didn’t know if that meant it was always with Anders or actually inside of the man. He didn’t know much about spirits, but he knew they were good at least.

---

“Yes, he is listening to us.” He was curious what Milos would’ve said if he had been host to a demon. He wouldn’t blame him for wanting nothing to do with him. He wouldn’t want anything to do with himself either, if he had a demon. It was amusing, at least, to see him looking about.

---

His cheeks colored a little. That spirit had seen and heard a lot if it was always listening. “Okay...hello, spirit. I’m sorry I only brought dinner for two. I didn’t know you were here…” He was still looking around for any hint of another presence, speaking to the room more than Anders.

---

Anders couldn’t help but snort and even Justice was amused. “He’s inside me, Milos.” His lips were tugged into a smile. “He eats when I do, so it’s alright.”

---

“Oh…” He gave him a sheepish smile. “So I don’t need to start bringing extra food around. Unless he wants me to.” Were you supposed to bring spirits offerings or something? He had no idea. “...Does he like me? I guess he kind of knows me at this point if he’s always been listening.”

---

It was odd how little he knew and he couldn’t quite tell how he was taking it. He wasn’t running away, so that was something. “Justice… he doesn’t like it when I’m distracted from the things I should be doing… but he’s been understanding about us spending time together.”

---

That wasn’t exactly answering his question, but he got the gist of it. His cheeks colored a little more and he nodded. “...I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a distraction.” He did, but only in a pleasant way. But it couldn’t possibly be a good thing that the spirit possessing Anders didn’t like him.

---

“It’s okay.” He looked down at his hands. They’d relaxed a little, but now they tightened once more. “He thinks you’re a good man, though.” He was already thinking about what he was going to tell him next, but he didn’t want him to think that Justice disliked him.

---

“I’m glad he thinks so.” It could be worse, at least. He was still absorbing that, but his lover still looked tense so he knew there was more to hear. “Is there something else you want to tell me?”

---

He was quiet for a while. This was harder for him to address, but he needed to. Maybe after he told him, Milos would decide for himself that this was too much and they could just go back to how it was meant to be. “Being a Grey Warden, there’s a taint in my blood.” He didn’t want to explain further than that. He wasn’t supposed to, really, since the source of their powers was a secret the Wardens held close. “After becoming a Warden, few live beyond twenty years and some aren’t even lucky enough to have that. I’ve been a Warden for going on ten years….”

---

That was a lot harder to hear and some of the color that had darkened his cheeks drained away. “...Then I’ll count myself lucky that you’re still here.” He reached out for one of Anders’ hands, taking it gently in his own. He was sure it was hard for the man to talk about something like this and he wanted to give him what comfort he could, even if he was still processing it.

---

He forced himself to loosen his hands when his was taken. “I was told that it is possible that having Justice with me could prevent the taint from taking my life, though. That’s why I decided to go after you.” He was speaking to their hands, wanting him to know that he hadn’t lured him in selfishly.

---

“...Even if it doesn’t work that way, you have every right to pursue happiness. You shouldn’t have to spend your remaining years alone.” He spoke quietly, studying him. “Is there anything else you want to tell me?”

---

Perhaps he was right, or perhaps not. “No, I think that is all for now.” There was a lot he could tell him, but those were the biggest things he’d been keeping from him.

---

He nodded, a little relieved. It was a lot to take in. He gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I’m glad you felt like you could talk to me about those things. It’s...a lot to think about. But it doesn’t change the way I feel about you.”

---

Anders hadn’t expected him to be so understanding and he wasn’t sure what to say. He’d felt like he had to talk to him about those things. “And how is it you feel about me?”

---

“I don’t know yet. This is all still so new.” He looked down at their joined hands. “But I really like you. I have a great time with you and when I’m not with you, I’m thinking about you. I wake up excited to start my day if I know I’m going to see you and...I feel younger than I have in a long time. Meeting you has really been the best thing to happen to me in awhile.”

---

It was nice to hear and he felt much the same, but everything with Cole had put a damper on, well, everything. “It is new and I think we should take it slow.” The pace they’d been going was good. He didn’t mean that they should stop their intimacy, just that they shouldn’t put more into it than that. Just spending time together.

---

“That’s probably a good idea.” He wouldn’t push to hear what Anders was feeling. He’d already had to share a lot that night. He just stared down at their hands, trying to take in all of it and forgetting all about the meal he’d brought.

---

“The offer still stands. If you would prefer to go, that’s alright. It’s been a long week.” It had been for him and he still didn’t think he was going to be as good of company as he normally was.

---

“I won’t stay long.” He rose from his seat and used his hand on Anders’ to try to tug him to his feet as well. “Come here, Anders…”

---

Anders followed the tug, his eyes raising. “What?” He wasn’t sure what it was he wanted, but he had… some idea.

---

When he had him on his feet, he pulled him into his arms. He hugged him for the first time since they’d started seeing each other, just giving him a lingering embrace. “I’m sorry it’s been a rough week.” Maybe this would help, even a little.

---

It took a beat for him to take it in, but when he did, he wrapped his arms around him in return and let him take his weight. He shut his eyes and let the warmth give him the comfort he’d needed for days. He gave a tiny nod, but said nothing more.

He held him close, staying that way for a long moment before guiding him toward his cot. “Let's sit together for a few minutes. Then I'll get out of your hair for tonight.” He didn't want him to think he meant to take advantage while he was feeling so low.

---

He moved with him and then sat down on the edge of his cot. He still had to clean up, but he could do that after Milos left. “How was your day?” he asked, since he’d already told him about his own. Sort of, anyway.

“My day was fine. I finished my chores on the ranch early and had time to play a long game of hide and seek with Willow before we came into town. Your horse is taming down nicely, she ate oats right out of Willow's hand this morning.” He wrapped his arms around Anders once they were seated, pulling him in to take his weight.

---

Anders leaned into him and, since it was more comfortable than to not, shut his eyes. “That sounds like a good day.” Better than his own. He was glad to hear that the horse was being good as well. “I still haven’t come up with a name for her.

“Maybe you'll know once you spend more time with her.” He closed his eyes as well, resting comfortably against him. “I'll bring her the next time I come to town. We could go for a ride.”

---

“Perhaps.” Something like that would be better planned, but maybe they could go anyway. A late night ride wouldn’t hurt anything - they’d already proven that with their first date. “Even if not, it would be nice to see her.”

---

“I’ll bring her soon.” He would try to come back before long, especially if something was bringing Anders down. Maybe he needed the company, even if he didn’t feel like he was up to spending time with him tonight. “I’ll get going. You can save my dinner and have it tomorrow.” He murmured, turning his head to kiss his cheek.

---

“Okay.” He turned to give him a kiss of his own, soft and light, on his lips. “Thank you.” He’d eat after cleaning up and, if there was no one that needed it more tomorrow, maybe he’d have the other one too.

---

“Do you need a little space? Or is it okay if I come back in a few days?” He asked when the soft kiss had broken. He wanted to come back as soon as he could, but he would put it off if that was what the mage needed.

---

“That’s fine,” he agreed, knowing he could at least look forward to that. Maybe that would make his days better. “I’ll unlock the door for you.” He pulled back from him and stood, though he stayed close to him so they could walk to the door together.

---

When he reached the door, he turned to him, giving him one more soft, simple kiss once it was unlocked. “Goodnight, Anders.” With that, he started out into Darktown. It was fully dark now, but he would move quickly and keep himself out of trouble.

---

He watched him go and when he was gone, he sighed. He could’ve asked him to stay. At least for a while. He was sure Milos wanted to, but he needed a little more time to sulk and hopefully by the time he came back, he would be feeling better about everything. He locked the door behind him and then turned to look at the clinic. It was time to clean up.

Chapter Text

It was a couple days later that Cole made his way back to the clinic. He had missed this place, more importantly he had missed Anders and his patients. He didn’t want to return empty-handed and he carried a small bag with him as he stepped into the clinic. He had expected to sense suffering from a patient, but it was growing late and there were no patients in the clinic. The only suffering and sadness he sensed was from Anders and he felt terrible for it. He closed the door behind him, a frown on his lips. “Anders…”

---

Anders tensed slightly when he stepped in, the sight surprising him. For some reason, he’d really thought he was gone and after a full week had passed without a visit, even Justice had begun to believe he really left. Some of the hurt he’d felt returned, but his expression was hard to read… not that Cole needed to read it. “Cole,” he answered, somewhat cold, but he knew that it wasn’t entirely his fault… Really, it was mostly Justice’s fault, but Cole had agreed and left, so they still shared the blame.

---

“I’m sorry my absence distressed you. In truth, it distressed me as well. I had to leave Kirkwall for a few days to stay away from this place. But I thought it was important to give Justice space and reflect on what we discussed. I made him very jealous and insecure by kissing you that morning.” He didn’t think he needed to tell Anders this. He had probably felt it in the spirit’s thoughts as easily as he’d read them the moment Justice had pushed himself to the surface.

---

Justice wasn’t sure how he felt about this. He was glad that Cole hadn’t been entirely driven away, as he did appreciate him and what he did for them, but he could feel the resentment in Anders - it was a topic they’d both avoided bringing up, but now that was impossible.

“Yes, I’m quite use to Justice’s feelings mattering more than mine.”

...That isn’t fair. Justice was hurt, thinking that he often put his feelings aside for Anders.

---

“He has been generous about giving you the freedoms I’ve insisted you need.” He didn’t want to discount the leniency the spirit had given over one incident. “He just doesn’t feel it’s my place to be intimate with you. I agree that it would be better if it was Milos or another mortal to give that sort of comfort to you. But it was good for you and we both enjoyed it. I don’t think he understands why you enjoyed it the way you did and that is why he feels threatened by me.”

---

Truthfully, he didn’t know why Cole kissed him or why he’d kissed Cole. He wanted to say he’d been out of it, but he hadn’t been. At least, not enough to not know what he was doing. It had just felt so good.

Well, it won’t be happening again, will it? So you can stop.

He didn’t bother saying it aloud since Cole would be able to hear it anyway.

You still are not being fair. I’ve done nothing since I spoke with Cole last - why not simply take comfort with Milos, if you need it?

Anders was silent, but Justice could feel what he wasn’t saying. That he didn’t understand.

---

“I want to spend the night with you again. I know it would be better if it was a mortal, but it helps you and I wouldn't hurt you the way a mortal could. I don't want to upset Justice, but he has eternity to do what he needs to and you do not. I want to give you what makes you thrive.” Companionship. Compassion.

---

Justice’s hackles rose. Anders, I am with you always. You are not as alone as you like to think you are, why is that not enough? I would also not hurt you the way a mortal could. If that was his concern with Milos, why it was different and why he ‘didn’t understand’, then he did understand. To some degree. He wasn’t a mortal though, and he loved and cared about him and they were always together.

It’s not the same. Being in his head wasn’t enough… It was better than being alone, but it still wasn’t enough. He looked at Cole skeptically - if that was how he felt, why would he leave for so long in the first place?

---

“I had to think this over. I want to make both you and Justice happy.” He answered the unspoken question softly. “It would be best if I could get him his own body so he could comfort you instead. But until I find a safe way, it has to be me until you no longer need me.” When he was ready for a mortal lover to give him that intimacy in the quiet hours in his cot. “I think with a little time Justice will see that it does not change your feelings about him and he will benefit from your comfort.”

---

He didn’t know that Justice could even if he had his own body. Again, Justice was hurt, though some part of him knew he was right. He would not want to spend every night holding Anders when he finally had a body of his own that he could work as hard as he wanted. ...That didn’t mean he wouldn’t some nights, though. If it would comfort him.

Anders was still hurt himself, not liking the way he’d simply disappeared on him, but he had come back… so that was what was important. “...I’d like that, but Justice doesn’t want us to.”

---

“I know he doesn't. And I'm sorry that you two are at odds over it. But I think it should be your decision. He has been flexible with you lately, but before I arrived you did things his way for a long time and you were not thriving. I think he needs to let you have this, but I will ultimately leave it up to both of you.” He could only hope that he wouldn't draw the ire of the other spirit by overstepping his boundaries again.

---

Justice was irritated at him for coming back only to put them back where they’d been that day, especially since Anders was responding how he would’ve expected him to. Anders could feel his jealousy and though Justice didn’t like acknowledging it as that, that’s what it was. I’m never going to take another spirit again, Justice. You needn’t worry. I am not replacing you any more than you replaced Compassion. Though even he had to admit that his relationship with Compassion was a lot different than his relationship with either of them.

You prefer him.

I do not. He wasn’t thinking about it, but he wasn’t entirely sure it was true.

---

“I am no threat to you, Justice. He loves you.” Cole tried to contribute after listening to one side of the conversation. But he knew hearing it from him would mean little. He had to feel that assurance from Anders.

---

He is a friend. He just happens to be a spirit… He meant it, but Justice didn’t think he was being honest with himself. If he was just a friend, he wouldn’t want to sleep with him. He didn’t sleep with any of his other friends. He didn’t trust any of them like he trusted Cole. He hadn’t gotten as attached to any of them as he had to Cole and it had everything to do with him being a spirit.

Justice didn’t like it, but he knew that if he pushed too hard, he would only make matters worse. If he could get a body of his own… then none of this would matter and for that, he needed Cole’s help.

Fine, do as you wish with him, but you will not replace me.

I won’t and when you have a body of your own, you won’t have to worry about me anymore.

---

“He will, Anders. He loves you too.” Justice wouldn't leave him just because he had his own body. He finally moved closer, setting his bag on the nearest table and drawing the mage into an embrace.

---

Some of Justice’s lingering emotions made it hard for him to give in. Some of his own emotions made it hard as well, but he shut his eyes and pressed his weight into the spirit. He wasn’t sure what it was he smelled like, but it was nice. He didn’t smell like he seemed he might, which was good for the purposes of their contact.

---

“I might spell of spices tonight. I helped a merchant who specializes in them earlier.” He was also relieved that he didn't smell of death as much as he looked like it. If he did, he would have to mask his scent as well as hide his face to help mortals.

---

Anders gave a small nod and slid his arms around him in return. He still didn’t feel good, but this at least felt nice. It was the comfort he’d been lacking in the passing days. Justice tried to remind him that he could’ve taken it from Milos, but that he’d chosen not to. Not really. Anders didn’t acknowledge him.

---

“I'm sorry. I should not have left you for so long. But I thought it would help Justice.” It hadn't, it seemed he felt no better about things. But he didn't know much about spirits sharing a mortal’s body, so he knew he likely couldn't understand the complexity of their feelings for each other.

---

He might not have minded so much if he hadn’t left while the world was dark for him. He hadn’t even known if he would be back. “It’s okay. I know one day you’re going to be gone completely - I’ll be more prepared for it next time.”

“I would not leave completely without saying goodbye, even if Justice and I are at odds.” He stroked his back slowly. “I have grown attached to you. Even if I am called away for a long time, I will come back to see you.”

---

He could feel that Justice didn’t like what he was hearing, but to his credit, he kept this to himself. It was only his feelings that were flooding over.

He took in a deep breath and let it out in a soft huff. “I have to lock up. We can lay down after I’m done.”

“Go ahead. We can get comfortable and you can tell me about your week if you like.” Obviously it hadn't been very good. But maybe it would help to get it off his chest. He released Anders, then took off his hat to set it near the bag on the table.

---

He closed up and after cleaning up a few small things, he made his way to the nook and started to get ready for bed. He looked tired, but he wasn’t as sad as he’d been each night all week.

He sat on the edge of Anders’ bed after following him to the nook, waiting for him to undress to his underobes and join him. “If you want to talk, I will listen. But if you would rather I just hold you, that is what I'll do.”

---

There wasn’t much to say. It’s been a busy week and apart from Milos stopping in, nothing good has happened. Hawke hadn’t even needed him, so with that and the fact that there were no developments with the Circle for him, he’d been in the clinic day and night for the last week.

When he was ready, he sat down on the cot. “We can just lay down.”

He nodded and slid an arm around him, guiding him to lay down with him. He was quick to settle in close, wrapping him up in his arms and tangling their legs. He had missed the mage in his time away and he used a gentle, steady flow of his magic to soothe him.

---

Anders settled and it wasn’t as comfortable as it had been last time. Simply because he was anticipating this going south. He did feel a lot better, his emotions much less severe, he just needed to relax.

He began to hum to him softly, the same ancient hymn as the last time he spent the night in his bed. He nuzzled his cheek into Anders’ hair, encouraging him to hide his face against his neck. It was a little frustrating that he could shelter him from any pain, except what was brought from Justice. He had no control over that and not even manipulation over Anders’ memory would save him from that because the spirit would still be within. The best he could hope for was that Justice would simply let the man enjoy whatever he could take from this.

---

Anders shut his eyes and as soon as he felt what he wanted, he followed instinctively, pressing his face into his neck. The jealousy heightened, but he could also hear Justice almost… talking to himself. Trying to work out his emotions himself. It wasn’t often he heard something like this, usually only when the spirit was worked up and anxious to find a way to fix a wrong.

He tried to tune it out, listening to the sound of Cole’s humming.

Cole closed his eyes, continuing to hum for him. Only when it was finished did he speak up again. “That song is very old. Would you like a song more familiar to you better?” He knew many songs.

---

“No, I like it.” Maybe because Justice liked it, though Justice wasn’t listening right now. “Are there words to it?” Or was it only a melody?

“Yes, in a long dead language.” The root of a few modern languages he knew of. “Would you like to hear the words? I could sing for you.”

---

That perked his interest. He wasn’t able to pursue much knowledge these days, but he had grown up in a Circle and he did have an academic mind. He nodded into his neck, breathing in his scent and telling himself that this was okay.

“Justice may remember the words as well.” He mused before he began to sing. His voice was soft and pleasant, his hand still absently stroking his back.

---

It was fascinating and listening to words he didn’t recognize was soothing. After long enough, he was able to relax and so was Justice. Finally, this was having the intended effect and the hurt feelings were fading. He wasn’t yet ready to sleep, but he was reaching a state in which he was able to relax and rest.

---

He could feel that Anders was relaxing and when the song was coming to a close, he repeated the last verse and refrain to keep it going a little longer for him. He laid with him in silence for a little while after the song had finished, but his lips turned up a bit when he thought of something that the mage might like. “Those kittens outside have their eyes open now. Maybe we could visit them in the morning before you open the clinic.”

---

He hadn’t wanted to bother the mama or the kittens, so he’d left them be, but he was happy to hear the update. He’d spent a little time with the cats outside this week - the only part of the days that had been pleasant, apart from helping those that needed him, of course. “We can,” he agreed, since he would like to see them again.

---

“The mother will be happy. They’re growing to be strong and she will want to show them off.” Now that they weren’t so tiny and vulnerable, she wasn’t so anxious about them. He pressed a kiss to the crown of Anders’ head, then nestled his cheek back into his hair.

---

Anders tightened his arm around him in response to the affection. “Maybe I can dig up something for her to eat.” Though he said it aloud, it was more to himself than anything. He’d have to look and see what he had, but he’d like to offer her something. She had so many kittens to feed, after all.

---

“We could buy them something. I brought you coin.” He murmured into his hair, his finger trailing slowly up and down his spine. He knew Anders would want to spend the majority of it on the clinic or the Underground. But some could be spared for the cats.

---

That surprised him enough that his eyes opened and he looked up at him. “...Where did you get coin?” He wasn’t good at accepting donations, but he did whenever someone insisted. He was sure Cole would insist, but he had no idea where he might’ve gotten his hands on some coin.

---

“I helped a woman who was being hurt by some very bad men and those men had a lot of money. I left her what she needed when they were dealt with, but I took the rest. It can be put to good use here. Consider it an apology to you and to the Underground for my absence.” He met his gaze curiously, wondering if Anders would have trouble accepting the gift he’d brought.

---

He frowned. He probably should’ve given the woman all of the money, but of course he himself knew the importance of spreading out resources to as many people as possible. “...How much is it?” He could certainly use gold, especially because Hawke hadn’t had any work for him in the last week. He was running low on what he needed and it had come to a point where he was going to have to ask the man for the job if it kept up. Even what Lirene had brought from him in the middle of the week had barely been enough to keep him floating.

---

“I did not count it. I don't know much about mortal currency, but it is a lot more than most people have.” The men's purses had been heavy with coin and their hideout had even more. He had plenty left to bring to Anders even after he'd given a good portion of it to the woman they had hurt.

---

He felt guilty, but there was no reason for it. He would simply supply the clinic with it and then give out the rest to those who needed it. “Okay, thank you.” He wouldn’t keep any of it for himself. Though his personal stash of gold had seen better days. Enough for a quick escape, but nothing more. He use to have a little more saved up, just in case, but he simply had more important things to spend it on.

---

“It is my gift to you, the clinic, and the Underground. You can spend it as you like but I hope you will keep a little for yourself. And one of those kittens if you would like to keep one.” He understood that Anders didn't feel he had the resources to take care of one, but he knew it would make him happy if he could.

---

“I’ll be sure to give some to the Underground.” Maybe he could give them a third of it, use a third on the clinic, and the remaining third could go to anyone who needed it. As far as himself went, he wouldn’t feel right. Perhaps the next time he went on a job, he would simply keep his share for himself. He didn’t respond to the comment about the kitten, but it would be nice.

---

“You get your happiness from helping others. It is rare that a person would get more fulfillment in spending money on others rather than himself. It is perhaps one of my favorite things about you.” He pressed another kiss into his hair.

---

He chuckled and settled back against his neck. “Don’t get me wrong… if things were different, I would like to treat myself.” If the world wasn’t what it was and there weren’t so many that needed help, he would be a little more selfish. He’d be more like he use to be in his youth. He desire for things hadn’t completely faded and hell, he didn’t know how much of this goodness that Cole spoke of was really him. If there was anything good about him, it probably came from Justice, so Cole probably ought to save his admiration and affection for him.

---

“That's alright. Most people still treat only themselves even with the world as it is. I suppose it is what makes mortals so fascinating. You are all so different.” He closed his eyes, tightening his arms around him a little as he settled back in.

---

He hummed and then let out another huff, softer now. He shut his eyes and his thoughts went to when he was young. That was the last time he’d been in a hold this comforting. When his mother would hold him. Sometimes his father too, though his memories of his father were tainted and he tried not to think about him. His father was the entire reason he’d never tried to go back home, not after the first time.

---

“I wish your father had been different. The pain he caused you feels so much like the pain Cole's father caused him.” He started to stroke his back once more. “You both deserved better.”

---

He was long beyond wishing his father had been different. He’d wished that for so long, but wishing hadn’t changed anything. “It’s okay… I learned more in the Circle than I ever could have as an apostate.” It was the only silver lining he could think of.

---

“You did. All that happened to you has made you a far better man than he was.” He let his hand slide higher, stroking his fingers into the mage's hair. He heaved a soft sigh, the old remnants of Cole's hurt and anger weighing on him.

---

He liked to pretend he was past all of that, but if there was anything he could change, it would be to have simply grown up in his village. To have lived a normal life. As much as he’d enjoyed the adventure of his life… he yearned for the simpleness of having a home. He didn’t dwell on it much these days, though, and at least this way he had a purpose.

---

He followed the train of Anders’ thoughts, but kept his own to himself. He had turned out better for his trials and he impacted so many lives. It may have been better for Anders to live a simple life or it may not of been, but as things were now he was helping so many others. It was likely something he and Justice would agree on.

---

With the quiet, his thoughts began to fade and he began to fall under. Much like last time, it was a peaceful sleep and his entire body was limp, but pressed as much into Cole as possible. There wasn't much choice in the cot, but even if they hadn’t had a lack of room, he would still be pressed as close as possible. In his dreams, there were kittens.

---

Anders’ dreams eased his own troubled thoughts. He smiled and held him tightly, using the hand in his hair to keep his head cradled against him. He would wait for him to wake and if he chose to help rouse him again with kisses, he could hope that Justice would take it better this time.

Chapter Text

As with the night, the morning was also much like last time. Anders woke slowly, shifting here and there, adjusting against him. Justice, who had spent all night mulling about the spirit that held them, wasn’t feeling much better, but Anders’ calm did influence his own. He was comforted too and the magic had helped him, even though he was receiving it indirectly.

---

“Good morning.” It was a funny mortal expression to him. How did they know it was a good morning if they were only just waking up? He started to toy with his hair between his fingers, letting him come out of sleep slowly.

---

He hummed, hearing the greeting and recognizing it, but still out of it enough that he didn’t really take it in. He began to crack his eyes slightly, but he wasn’t ready to open them, so as soon as he saw a hint of light, he shut them again. His mind was pleasantly fogged with the restful night’s sleep he’d gotten.

---

He tipped his chin down and kissed his forehead. “I liked your dreams. You should try to dream of kittens more often.”

---

He registered that much, though there was a delay, and he chuckled. “You’re spying on my dreams.” His voice was thick with sleep and he didn’t want to open his eyes still, so he stayed as he was. His worries from the night before hadn’t caught up to him, though he could feel an urging to either remain tucked against his neck or to get up and start the day.

---

“I don't mean to. I can't help but hear them. It is how I can help, people usually don't talk about what really hurts them so I have to be able to hear it anyway.” He knew it was somewhat rude by moral standards, but it couldn't be helped.

---

“You hear a lot you shouldn’t.” He didn’t mind though. After the initial shock of it all, he’d gotten over it. He had nothing to hide. Maybe it would be different for someone else, but after acquiring a being in his mind that knew everything there was to know, there wasn’t anything left to hide. Anything that he be his alone. “It was a good dream.”

---

“Probably so. But your secrets are safe with me.” He massaged his scalp in slow circles with his fingertips. “We can make that dream reality this morning when we visit the kittens.”

---

Finally, he opened his eyes and pulled back a little. Then he remembered last time. What had happened. He looked down at his lips and, because he wanted some agency, he leaned in and kissed him. He could feel his stomach tighten with emotion that was not his own, but he willed it to simply settle.

---

The kiss was surprising, mostly in that Justice had allowed it. That he hadn't taken control to stop his host. Cole was still for a beat, then returned the kiss, keeping it soft and simple.

---

It wasn’t even really that he wanted to kiss him. Last time, it had simply felt so good and right that he’d returned it. Now, he wanted to because it was his choice… and because it felt good. It still felt right. Justice didn’t like it, but he did and he lifted a hand to rest on Cole’s cheek, drawing it out. Soft and simple was nice, but he didn’t want to add short to that list.

---

Cole closed his eyes, relaxing into the kiss since it seemed the mage meant to let it linger. He worked his lips against his slowly and tenderly. It was nice to share this with him, even if it wasn't really his place to do so.

---

The tenderness was what felt good. The way he held and touched him was so intense and he knew there were no ulterior motives behind it. He needed this and he didn’t mind that he getting it from a spirit. Like he’d told Justice - Cole was his friend, no matter what he was.

If anything, it was better that he was a spirit. As stated, he could trust him in a way that he couldn’t trust a mortal.

Like you, he told Justice.

He stroked his cheek and suckled softly on his lower lip.

---

When his lip was sucked, he let his tongue brush against his lip. It was intriguing and he liked the way it felt. Cole had only had little opportunity for such intimacy in life, as short and difficult as his time alive had been. But the memories were pleasant and he drew from them to know what to do.

---

Anders felt the tongue and met it with his own, brushing them together briefly. He slid his arm down and around him, tugging on the back of his shirt, trying to shift, wanting Cole to come over him.

---

Cole didn't know what he wanted at first, but the more he shifted, the more he caught on. He settled over Anders, letting the mage take his weight though he had very little weight at all. He worked his tongue with his, still keeping everything he did very soft and sweet.

---

His stomach was still tight, but the rest of him felt good. Anders slid both arms around him and pulled his knees up, resting his feet flat on the cot so Cole was surrounded by him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered what he would look like if he were himself. If he were not Cole. Would he feel the same?

He didn’t want to stop and Justice wanted it to stop, but Anders chose himself again, as he had more and more since Cole had come to him.

---

He had to adjust his arms with their new positioning, but it was easy enough to get comfortable. His tongue was getting more exploratory, venturing further into his mouth. It seemed that the mage was able to enjoy this even if Justice was protesting so he had no intention of stopping.

---

Anders made a sound, accepting his tongue in his mouth and even sucking on it. He was pretty good at kissing or at least, he worked well with him. Along with his other wonderings, he was curious if it was because he was using Cole’s memories or if he was able to anticipate what he wanted from his thoughts.

His hands slid down to the bottom of his tunic and they slipped beneath it, feeling his skin. That was far more intimate and he began to touch the bare flesh. It felt strange. Not right, but there was no denying that it was skin.

---

It was perhaps a little of both that had him responding as he was. It was the intuition that drove him to work a hand into Anders’ robe and touched the bare skin of his back. It felt good to be touched, he understood that for himself now rather than just relying on Cole's memory, though he imagined that it was the human part of him that made this intimacy enjoyable.

---

He arched in response, even that simple touch making him yearn for more. He wanted their clothes to fall away so they could lay skin to skin. He wasn’t really wanting more than that, not really, but he did want to be bare. “Cole,” he breathed, finding it so strange that he felt so much like a lover, but wasn’t.

---

He didn’t see any harm in that desire and so he sought the fastenings of his underrobes to start pulling them away. “I’m glad I can make you feel good…” That he could take this comfort from a spirit and that Justice hadn’t ruined it for him as he had before.

---

Anders opened his eyes and looked up at him. He wasn’t attracted to him, but that he was drawn to him. Very drawn to him. He leaned up and brushed their lips together, then grabbed the bottom of his tunic to pull it up and off. Then he helped him with his robes, before trying to push his trousers and his smallclothes down in a single motion.

---

His face hadn’t frightened Anders and he hoped that his body would not either the more it was revealed. It was the body of a young man who had been beaten, abused, and starved to death, after all. But his bones were still covered in flesh, which was not as warm as it should be but flesh that would still hopefully bring him comfort. He helped him with the clothes until they were both bare, listening for his reaction to be sure he still wanted the contact with him.

---

He looked down between them and he paused, staring at him. A hand reached out, touching his side, and tears began to sting in his eyes. How easily this could have been him. It hadn’t been, but it could have. He wished that he looked different and again, he wondered what his true form was, but he wasn’t repulsed. He slid his arm back around him and pulled him down, wanting their bellies flush.

---

“I don’t remember my true form. Probably not all that different from your Compassion. But now I am Cole. I’m relieved that I don’t frighten you…” Though he did, in a way. He’d still gotten an emotional response out of Anders and the old fear that was his punishment in the Circle. He slid a hand along Anders’ side as he settled between his thighs once more.

--

He saw him as his own person, not as the human that had died in his care, so he had a hard time accepting that he really wasn’t all that different than they were. Perhaps because he also had a hard time accepting what a new body would do to Justice - would he still feel like they were one?

“You don’t,” he agreed. It wasn’t his first time seeing something like this… just never to that degree.

---

He sought his lips once more, curious if it would feel different now that they were naked. The warmth from Anders’ skin was nice and he did feel closer to him without the barrier or clothing. He wondered if perhaps his own comforting influence would be stronger on the mage with so much direct contact between them.

---

He returned the kiss deeply, his hands stroking his back. It wasn’t as warm as it was supposed to be, so he provided the heat himself, warming his hands and running his fingers over the ridges of bone in is spine and along his ribs. That felt so much better and he couldn’t get enough of him. The contact was perfect and he wanted as much as he could possibly get.

---

He made a soft sound against his lips. It was nice to get caught up in a kiss with him like this and the heat from his magic was nice. He’d never appreciated warmth quite like this. He let his hands wander as well, touching his back and his sides, letting soothing magic of his own trail his fingertips.

---

He continued to arch, wanting to add to the pressure between their bodies. Nothing else mattered and even the tightness of his stomach seemed to ease, even though Justice was as unhappy as ever. As far as he was concerned, this was way too much. As far as Anders was concerned, it still wasn’t enough, but there was little more he could do to get closer to him.

---

Mimicking what Anders had done before, he moved a hand up to rest on the mage’s cheek while he kissed him, giving his lower lip a firm suck. He gave up exploring with one hand to instead wind his arm around him and hold him tightly when he felt him press harder against his body. His hold was much stronger than the frail-looking frame of his body would suggest.

---

He sighed, sucking Cole’s upper lip since his bottom one was briefly claimed. His hand slid up his spine and he found the nape of his neck, his fingers brushing at the limp locks that hung there. He tipped his head back slightly, wanting his lips to descend lower, though he didn’t want to ask this of him, even if just feeling that way was the same as asking with him.

---

If didn’t matter that he didn’t want to ask him, the desire was heard just the same. He broke the kiss and began to trail his lips lower, kissing along the length of his neck. He felt a bit of heat that he wasn’t familiar with as he thought of a memory Cole had of sucking on...various parts of another mortal’s body, but it was a positive feeling and so he tried it, closing his lips around a tender spot and sucking softly.

---

Anders whimpered, the spot and the sucking exactly what he’d wanted. He shut his eyes, the hand at his nape sliding into his hair and clutching at the back of his head. He wanted him to suck harder. It would feel so good if he sucked so hard on his skin that it ached.

---

He didn’t really understand. Why would he want it to hurt? But he did as he asked, without really asking, sucking hard on the soft flesh of his throat. When he let off of it, he dragged his tongue slowly over the spot, curious of he wanted it to keep aching or if he could heal it for him.

---

Anders whimpered again, though this time the whimper came with his name. One of his legs hooked around the spirit’s and he rocked himself. It wasn’t an attempt at friction between their hips, rather he just felt the need to move and create friction between their bodies.

---

The second time he dragged his tongue over the spot, he healed the mark and the ache he’d caused. If Anders wanted them back, he would give him a new one. He started to rock his body in response, finding that it felt very natural to move with him. “Anders…”

---

He tipped his head back down and he brushed their lips together, his eyes fixed on him. He finally recognized how far this had gone, despite Justice’s agitation all along, when his cock began to stiffen. Yet still, he didn’t want to stop. He wasn’t doing this for the sake of that… that was just a byproduct of this. He couldn’t stop rocking and it had nothing to do with the beginnings of heat in his loins.

---

He wasn't surprised that he was growing hard. That was what tended to happen when bodies worked together this way. His own body hadn't responded in kind, but all of this felt so good and he wondered if it would eventually. He kissed him, sighing softly against his lips.

---

Anders shut his eyes and kissed him deeply. It would be lying to say that in his youth he hadn’t wondered what it might be like to fuck a spirit or even a demon. It was a topic that all of the young mages in the Circle discussed in hushed whispers from time to time. Some even bragged about having done it, though anyone that did was never believed.

This wasn’t the same as that, though, and Anders had no intention of changing anything. This was enough. Just lips and the heat of skin moving together. He moaned under his breath, his hands sliding down and pressing at the small of his back.

---

The rolling of their hips felt better and better the longer it went on. Eventually he realized he had grown hard as well and though he'd somewhat been expecting it, it still felt odd. He broke the kiss to look down between them, fascinated. His body had never done this in all of the time he'd had it.

---

When Cole looked down, so did he. It was almost bizarre to see him in this state, but it wasn’t a surprise. He’d felt it, he just hadn’t thought about it until he saw it. “Is it okay?” He assumed he had experience with this. Perhaps not with a person, but perhaps by himself.

Justice was appalled.

---

“It feels good. It has just...never done that. When it was Cole's it did, of course. But never since it has been mine.” He seemed both amused and intrigued by this development and smiled to Anders.

---

Anders’ brows lifted and then he chuckled, amused. The clinical observation was funny to him, as was his apparent fascination with that bit of his anatomy. Since it seemed he didn’t know what to do with it, Anders reached down and took him in hand, stroking him. “How does that feel?” He was genuinely curious, since apparently this was something he’d never experienced before.

---

He drew in a slow breath, surprised by the potency of the sensation. It was such a simple touch, but now that it was hard, it felt so good. “Incredible. ...I'm starting to understand why mortals do strange things when their blood runs hot like this.”

---

He smiled. If only Justice could understand.

The spirit was not amused. This is going too far. You do not need to be having sex with Cole. This is why you have Milos, is it not?

He wasn’t having sex with Cole though, was he? Maybe… It hadn’t been his intention, not through any of this. Not even when he hardened, but he was so endeared by him and his inexperience. There was oil within reach. What would it hurt? He could just share some closeness with him and show him something and maybe once he experienced it for himself, he could help Justice understand.

---

He didn’t think it would hurt anything. But then, this was new for him so he wasn’t sure what the impact would be. Curious, he reached down to wrap his fingers around Anders, giving him an experimental stroke. “Does it feel as good when I do it for you?”

---

“It feels good,” he confirmed. Maybe not as good, simply because he wasn't use to doing it. He didn’t have the technique down and a single stroke didn’t do much, anyway. “Do you want to?” He knew Cole had heard what he was considering. If he didn’t want to, then they could simply continue kissing, but if he did, then he would grab the oil.

---

“Yes, I want to know more.” This was a fascinating human need that he’d only understood in theory. He wanted to explore it further. He kissed him firmly, a hunger that hadn’t been in his earlier kisses starting to emerge. Still, it was very mild. It was more the novelty of pleasure and the new sensations than actual yearning.

---

Anders nodded, but before he could actually shift, he found himself in a heated kiss. For a brief moment, he flickered in agitation, but he pushed it down. It’s okay. It’s nothing, just closeness. He knew Justice didn’t like that part about it either, but he thought the fact that it wasn’t more than that should mean something.

He kissed him hard, knowing that if Justice wanted to, he could be putting in a lot more effort to make this harder on him. Like he did with many things. Like he use to do with even this, but he’d stopped with Milos and so far, his dissent had been minimal. It’ll be okay. I know you’re trying, just trust me.

---

He could hear Anders assuring his spirit that this was alright. He added a bit of magic into his touches to the mage, hoping that it would help to soothe Justice as well. This would be alright for all of them. He kissed him in a way that he felt was a little needy, which was odd because he so seldom felt that he needed anything.

---

He reached blindly, but when that failed, be broke the kiss long enough to lean over and grab the oil from where it was sitting. He applied some to his fingers and then used it to stroke and coat Cole, his grip firm as he worked his cock thoroughly.

---

He drew a shuddering breath. “That feels...a lot better…” It felt so different with a little oil and he couldn’t help rocking his hips into the stroking hand. “I want to do that for you…” He wanted to make Anders feel just as good so he took the oil to add some to his fingers as well.

---

All of this was new to Cole, so he nodded. “Go ahead.” He was sure he wanted to try everything, so he would let him do whatever he wished. He continued to stroke him, though he was somewhat conscious that he wouldn’t last long, most likely, so he kept his stroking slow.

---

When his fingers were slick, he took Anders in hand again. He began to stroke him, mimicking when he felt the man doing to him. His own hips kept up their needy rocking, unable to believe how good it felt. Why did it feel so good?

---

That definitely felt much better and he sighed, looking down between them to where they were touching each other. This was certainly novel and he was enjoying it as much as Cole was - it was new for both of them.

After a while, he tilted his hips up and pushed his cock down to his entrance. Go ahead

Cole studied him and his thoughts for a moment, making sure he really wanted this before pushing into him. He gasped, releasing his cock to wind his arms tightly around him. Almost tight enough to be painful. His body knew what to do and he began to thrust, his movements slow and curious.

---

The reaction startled him and he laughed, sliding his arms around him in return. The sound faded into a moan as he began to meet his movements. “Is it good?” Obviously it was and he couldn’t help but be endeared, especially by the way he was holding him.

“So good. This makes so much more sense now…” He gave him a series of soft, brief kisses, feeling so affectionate and connected with the mortal who had chosen to share this with him. “Anders…” Instinct told him to thrust faster and harder, Cole would have when he was alive, but he didn't want to right now. This was perfect.

---

What made sense? What was there to make sense of? Justice didn’t understand.

Anders met the kisses and returned his own, stroking his back and enjoying the rocking as much as he had before. It was better now, having him inside, and still his cock was pressed between them and getting friction from the pressure of their hips.

He tipped his head back again, wanting him to suck again. Softly, sweetly, and then hard.

Cole did as he wanted, moving his lips to his neck. He sucked on his flesh softly, taking his time to work up to sucking hard enough to make him ache. His hips seemed to follow along in the change in tone, starting to pump into him harder the longer it went on.

---

He moaned again, deeper. His hands ran all over his back, the touch as intimate as what Cole was giving him. He found his ass and gave it a rub, then a squeeze. Then his hand worked its way back up his spine, wanting to touch all of him.

More than anything, he just wanted this attention. Even going this far with him felt different from what he would do with anyone else.

“Cole,” he murmured, so warm, so heated.

The hands on his skin gave him a shiver despite the warmth in them. It made him break the contact with his neck in surprise, but he smiled and quickly got back to work. He moaned, a hand slipping down between them to stroke Anders’ cock though it took a little while for him to get the rhythm right with his hips.

---

The friction had been perfectly fine, but the hand was even more pleasant. He used a hand to pull his face up, kissing him him deeply. He was breathing heavily and it warmed the air between their faces any time the kiss broke, but he was always quick to reconnect it.

---

He closed his eyes melting into his kisses. His magic was intensifying, but it wasn't intentional. It seemed that most of what he was doing was driven by instinct and emotion - the lack of control was so strange and so...mortal.

---

The hand that had pulled him up slid into his hair and gripped him there. He needed more, but he didn’t feel like he needed it. It felt wonderful as it was and he didn’t want this to be about the sex. It was about how close he felt to him right now and he felt so, so very close to him - it was more intimate at this pace than if they moved for pleasure.

Yet, he did need more. His body needed more and when he felt the magic intensifying, he couldn’t help his moans.

---

He was reading the conflict in Anders and as much as he would also like to keep the same pace, they both needed more. He groaned against his lips, his thrusts growing faster. Just like the arm around Anders, his hips were nearly too hard and if not for his soothing magic, the pounding would likely be painful.

---

He had to break from his mouth, though he kept close enough to catch Cole’s pants and offer his own. He squeezed his eyes shut, meeting him until it was too much. His  legs wrapped around his waist and letting him fuck him as hard as he wanted. He cried out his name, writhing beneath him, his cock throbbing and threatening to unload.

---

He started to buck into him wildly as his need intensified. At this point, he'd be bruising him badly at least if his magic wasn't preventing it. He cried out in equal parts pleasure and surprise as he spilled into Anders, unable to believe how incredible it felt to fill him.

---

As soon as the spirit came, he followed, cumming hard and making a mess of both of them. He tightened his arms around him, holding Cole against him so he couldn’t move, needing him to stay close. He was trembling in the aftermath and as he began to recover, he started pressing soft kisses to his mouth.

---

He eased his hold as he came down from his release, though he kept an arm around him. He returned those soft kisses, opening his eyes once more to study him. “Thank you for showing me how good that is. I knew from Cole’s memory but...experiencing it myself was different.”

---

He looked up at him, meeting his gaze. “Will you stay longer?” He didn’t want him to go right away. That was something that a man might do - take what he wanted and leave - but he wasn’t a man.

---

“I will. I don’t want to leave right now.” He wanted to savor how close he felt to him. “Besides, I promised you we would see the kittens this morning. But I want to lie with you a little longer first.”

---          

He smiled and kissed him again, but it was brief and he laid his head back. He felt really good and he wanted Cole to hold him as he had the nights he’d stayed with him. Wanting that from him, he knew he ought to return the favor, so he began to slowly stroke his fingers against his back. Maybe tonight he’d come back and they could do this again. Even without the sex, he wouldn’t mind doing this again.

---

“I will come back tonight if I am not sorely needed elsewhere.” He kissed his forehead, every bit as tender as he kissed him on the nights he held him. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to stay inside of him now that they were done, Cole’s memories varied on the topic, but for now it seemed most comfortable and he didn’t want to break their contact. He slid his other arm around Anders, holding him and having no interest in releasing him. “I wonder if I am the first spirit to actually get to experience this first hand.”

---

Justice agreed. Cole couldn’t come as much as Anders might want him to and he couldn’t ask him to come any more than that. He had a job to do and the last thing they needed to do was distract each other. The entire point of Cole was to be there when Anders was distracted by his mortal needs - what was the point if Cole simply became one of those distractions?

He was still jealous.

“You might be,” he agreed, brushing their noses together. “I’ve never heard of a spirit possessing a mage, though I’m sure it’s happened.” Anders didn’t think he was the first… but if they were anything like Justice, then probably not. Then again, maybe if they were another spirit, maybe they wouldn’t mind so much.

“Maybe there is some spirit in the Fade that has had time with a mortal.”

Justice was offended by the suggestion. No noble spirit would stoop to behaving as Desire… Then again, Cole just had. Had he been corrupted by it?

---

“Possible, but unlikely. A demon, perhaps, but not a spirit. I think the only reason I have any interest in sex is because of Cole. Because I am no longer pure.” He hadn’t been since he became like this. He kissed his lips briefly, enjoying the nuzzling and simple affections after such a heated connection between them.

---

“I think you are.” He didn’t think having more to him made him any less pure. Even if some of it was negative… he was as good as any spirit he’d ever met. As good as his Compassion. As good as Justice… Though he had corrupted him. He didn’t think it was the same thing. Cole hadn’t been corrupted like Justice had, but whether that was because Justice was Justice or Anders was Anders, he didn’t know.

Probably the latter, but maybe it was easier to twist justice around than it was to twist compassion around.

Justice didn’t appreciate all this talk of how easily he was corrupted and he resented the idea, as always, that he was anything less than he’d been in his true form. It made him resent Cole even more… that Anders thought he was more ‘pure’ than him.

I would like to speak with him.

Anders shook his head, not realizing it. No, I don’t want you to scare him away again.

---

“I am not. Cole’s anger at the templars, his father, and the world that would allow those things to happen to him...that anger changed me. For a time, I was so hateful that Cole’s influence nearly made me into something I am not. ...The same way your anger and misery was beginning to turn Justice into something that he is not. But I was able to recover and now, even if I am no longer purely Compassion, I am able to serve my purpose better because I understand mortals better. The same way that becoming one with you has surely made Justice better.” And with any luck, continuing to help Anders and make him happy would keep the corruption in Justice from getting any worse.

---

Justice was so agitated, not only by what they’d done and what they were still doing, but what they were talking about. He was not corrupted. Perhaps it had been different for Cole, but they weren’t the same. He’d come to this world in an entirely different way and he lead an entirely different existence to him.

He hated how they made him feel like a villain. He could accept that he had changed since joining with Anders. That he’d gotten fixated on the injustices that the mages suffer. That he had made Anders suffer by fixating on them. But he wasn’t corrupted and he could never be corrupted. Justice and injustice was black and white as ever to him… if not even more so these days.

There was so much grey in the world and sometimes he struggled with that, yet he knew exactly what he had to do. He knew what was right and what was wrong when it came to the mages.

Anders could feel all of this and this time he couldn’t simply push it aside. Justice… I’m sorry, I know you don’t like this, but I needed this. I need him.

Justice would’ve huffed, if he could have. That was only a minor source of his emotions right now. I would like to speak to him. I will not scare him away.

---

“I’m sure that Justice is very upset with me.” He said softly, listening to Anders’ conversation with him. “He did not want me to spend the night with you again, much less any of this. I wish he could experience this with someone. I think it would help him understand why you need this…”

---

Anders frowned, not liking the idea any more than Justice did. He didn’t like the idea of his body being used in that way if he was not in control. He wouldn’t say it, though, and he didn’t really have to. Justice wasn’t interested, but he was curious and that was why he wanted to talk to him.

He took a deep breath and then finally consented. Go ahead. Talk to him. If he scared him away, though, he would be very upset… with both of them.

Permission was granted, but unlike usual, Justice did not take over. ...Can you please untangle yourself from him first?

---

“I mean if he has his own body. Not with yours.” He frowned a little when he heard his thoughts. “He will not scare me away. I know I hurt you by leaving.” He wouldn’t do it again unless the spirit made it impossible for him to stay near Anders.

---

He would have to get up then. He sighed, regretful, and gave him another kiss. “Justice wants some space before he takes over.” He gave him a nudge to get up so he could do the same.

---

That was unsurprising. He got up and began to dress, disappointed that they had to break what had been such an intense connection. Justice had allowed them to do this, the least they could do was make themselves decent before he came forward to give him a piece of his mind.

---

Anders didn’t want to get cum on his robes, so he moved to give himself a wipe with a rag before he dressed, something resigned to him. When he was dressed, he moved to sit on the edge of his exam table, figuring this conversation would be better done in the open than in the nook.

---

Cole hadn't even noticed the mess on him between everything that had happened between them. It made his clothes unpleasantly sticky, but he could clean up later. He followed Anders out of the nook, taking a seat on a stool and waiting for the spirit to join them.

---

When they were settled, Justice took Anders’ place. He radiated unhappiness, but he wasn’t as angry as he could have been. He looked at him quietly and after a time, he spoke up, “The moment you… joined with him, you said you understood it.”

He wanted to know what he was talking about.

He was a little surprised that the spirit wasn't enraged, but it was a relief. He considered his question a long moment, trying to decide how to explain. “I had a basic understanding about the mortal need for sex. That it is hormonally driven need and that it can make them do very strange and irrational things. I knew that it can be as simple as an animal rutting or that it can be an emotional experience, depending on circumstances. But the connection, the fulfillment that comes with sharing that degree of intimacy with someone you care about...I understood it in theory, but it made so much more sense to experience it for myself.”

---

He frowned. He knew that Anders felt all that. He felt his emotions and he basically experienced it with him, much to his displeasure, but he didn’t feel any differently about it.

“I don’t understand. I experience it when he experiences it. I know that it… feels good and that it fulfills his needs, but there is no further “understanding” that I feel.”

It wasn’t a bad experience, but it was one that he would prefer not to have.

“I wish you could experience it the way that he does. It really is wonderful. I don't think it was even something that Cole really experienced. He never had a chance to really get attached to anyone. His memories of sex are pleasant, but not meaningful.” Not like this had been. “Maybe if you have your own body you can see for yourself.”

---

He supposed the only times Anders had sex since they’d joined had been with people he wasn’t attached to. Not until Cole and he had been so worked up the entire time that all the emotion that Anders had experienced had been negative for him.

“There is none I care about like Anders.”

He didn’t think he would want to have sex with anyone. Not even Anders.

“I know they believe they can have sex without Desire’s influence, but I do not believe it. Even if it is only some of it - desire is dangerous.”

His eyes widened and he shook his head. “Desire had no part of what I just shared with him. There was nothing demonic or dangerous there. There wasn't when Cole had sex either, even if his experiences were based on hormonal needs and not emotional ones.”

---

“You said yourself - it often as simple as animals rutting. That is desire. They rut because they are influenced by their desires.” He didn’t trust that Cole wasn’t similarly influenced. “Perhaps desire has simply gotten to you too.”

“It has not.” He frowned deeply, not liking the idea at all. “Just as Anders’ anger is not Rage. He can occasionally get angry without demonic influence just as simply as he can have desire without demonic influence. He is not ruled by them, that is the difference.”

---

He folded his arms and tapped his fingers against one of them. He had a point, but even so… it was a distraction he did not want. “I suppose you feel you are like him. That you are not ruled by such emotions.” Since he considered himself ‘tainted’ by the mortal. He was allowed to bask in such emotions without being changed by them… and yet he said himself that hate had almost taken him over.

---

“Yes. It took me time to learn to deal with human emotion. But I did not let myself become Rage just as I would never let myself become Desire. Mortals need to indulge in their sins and vices sometimes to keep their emotions balanced. The Maker intended it that way. If that wasn't true, he would have only made spirits and demons.” He could have succumbed to hatred easily, but it was a relief that he was still...not really Compassion, but a strange combination of himself and Cole.

---

He looked down. He had complex feelings regarding the Maker, as did all those that dwelt in the Fade. He couldn’t remember what he had been like in the beginning. Before the Maker had cast them away and created the mortals and their realm.

They were then, spirits and demons, the same. They were all curious and jealous of the mortals and they all dealt with it in different ways. He’d chosen justice, modeling himself after all that was righteous and he’d been as such for so long that he didn’t know anything else.

Not until he came here. He’d learned a lot, but the longer he spent inside Anders, the more that he clung to his creed.  

“I am not like you. I am not corrupted…” Yet still, he was also Anders. He believed that. If he was Anders, did that included his flaws?

Of course it did.

He shook his head. “I don’t want to be like them. For all of the good in this world, there is as much bad and you and I do not belong here. It is dangerous for us - we can turn into something we are not. In a way that they cannot.”

“You have gotten close. You have let anger taint your sense of justice and have nearly become Vengeance, as Anders called you. But you have let me help. Your host has been happier and healthier. I know I have frustrated you, but because of your tolerance, you have become more truly you than you have been in a long time.” He said this gently, knowing he struggled with it. “I have been trying to help you both.”

---

He frowned deeply, not wanting to hear that. “No… it is natural to be angered by injustice. Anger can be effective in-“ He stopped short. He wasn’t wrong, of course, but encouraging anger was exactly what Rage would be doing.

Their teeth grinded together.

“It is what Anders and I do together that makes me what I am. It is not the sloth you encourage for the sake of selfish happiness… The only person you’ve helped is him and in doing so, you have allowed others to hurt. The only reason I do what you want is because I do love him.”

“Is that so? The clinic has been open just as much as it had been before I arrived. Anders is still putting his patients first. The mages are safer than they have ever been within the Circle due to my presence there and more and more are escaping the city because of my work with the Underground. I have helped to accomplish Anders’ ambition to make this place start to become a soup kitchen as well as a place of healing.” He folded his arms over his chest. “I have not made him selfish and I have not allowed others to hurt for a single mortal's happiness.”

---

He shook his head. “You speak as if you on intend on staying here. What you say would be true if you never left Kirkwall, but since you intend on leaving some day, there will be no one left to help him. He will have to put in the same amount of work as before, except he will be even more unhappy about it because he will have something to mourn.” He wasn’t denying that he’d done a lot of good for Kirkwall and for them, but a lot of what he’d done was to take weight off of Anders and soon as he left, the weight would be right back on him. Either he would shoulder it or he wouldn’t and others would end up hurt.

---

“The more time I spend here, the less I feel that I will ever have to leave. I go where I am needed. When I met Anders, I assumed my stay would be short here because I would have some people to tend to and then be called elsewhere. But there are so many people here that need me. The more I help Anders, the more I can help all of them.” He would never have a dull day in Kirkwall. “Even if something dire called me away from Kirkwall, I would return when my work was done. There are other Compassion spirits to answer the needs of mortals elsewhere as well.”

---

He studied him. “Is it them or is it him?” Is the reason he really wanted to stay Anders? The jealousy filled him again and it too was an emotion he didn’t want. He didn’t like how affected he’d been by it as of late. It wasn’t an emotion he’d ever experienced himself before this.

---

“It is both. There are many people here that I want to keep helping. But none that I am more fond of than Anders.” He had never been quite so attached to anyone.

---

He was quiet for a while. “It is better for all of us if you stay.” He ought to be glad that he was saying and he was, but it was complicated now. “I will be able to do a lot more, as you are, when I have a body of my own.” He refused to believe that he would not be able to be as Cole was. He looked down. “It was a lot easier for me to be in this world when I was in a dead body.” It had been like having a body of his own, but everything was… dulled. Perhaps because the mind had been dead, but apart from the echo of memories and emotions, it had been only him.

“I did not feel as I do now. I am… conflicted.” It was hard to admit, but he was struggling. With what he was and with what to do with this time he had with Anders.

---

“I miss Cole and I so deeply regret that I could not have found his suffering sooner so that I could have saved him. But if he was still alive and we shared this body, I think it would be difficult to give up my agency over what I do. I cannot sympathize, but I do understand why it is difficult for you.” He frowned deeply. “I want to help you.” He just didn’t know how, exactly.

---

“I just need a body of my own.” He felt like everything would be better. He could be his own person and do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He wouldn’t have to worry about the influence Anders had on him… All he would have to worry about was the influence of the emotions he was so wary of.

He didn’t think he would feel those emotions so often if it wasn’t for Anders. Because he was Anders. But unlike Cole, he decided that when he separated from him, that he wouldn’t feel like he was still him.

“I could take better care of both of us.” Then they couldn’t accuse him of being corrupt anymore.

The idea of being corrupted truly bothered him. More than anything else. That’s why his denial was so strong.

“I will keep looking for a way.” It would probably be better for both of them if they could separate. The conflict between them would ease but they could still be close and work together. “I will try take care of both of you until then. And everyone else here.” Even the cats outside.

---

He wasn’t really happy with any of this, but there wasn’t anything else he could do. “...Just remember that he is mine.” After they separated, maybe it wouldn’t matter so much, but right now it mattered a lot. “If he likes you more than me, so be it, but I would like it if you refrained from letting him get any further attached to you.” He was already so invested in him and Justice could just feel that he favored him. He didn’t want it to get to the point they Anders began considering replacing him, try as he did to deny that he ever would.

---

“It is up to him to decide how he feels. How much or how little he is attached to me is out of my hands. But I will remind you that I am no threat. He would never replace you and I have no interest in joining with any mortal.” Not even Anders.

---

“You do, though. If you would come to the clinic less, he wouldn’t become as attached to you.” He shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t want to address what he wasn’t letting himself feel. That it was awful that Anders liked another spirit over him and that he felt more connected to him, despite them sharing a body and mind.

---

“But I would not be able to help as much if I came here less often. Not only Anders, but his patients. It is better for everyone, even you, if I am here. This was only my first night back after being gone for a week and he needed me…” He frowned, still feeling awful for the way Anders had hurt over him.

---

Justice brows furrowed and after a moment, he shook his head. “I wish to speak no longer.” Without waiting for a response, he retreated, and Anders had to grip the edge of the table to stop himself from swaying. He looked around and then his eyes fell on Cole. “Cole…” He was still here, so that was a good sign.

---

Cole was still frowning deeply when Anders returned and he lowered his head a little, his hair obscuring his eyes even more than usual. “...Can we go see the kittens now?” He needed to be going and it might cheer him up a little.

---

Anders watched him warily. “What is it?” He slipped off of the table and went to him, wanting to know what they’d talked about. If Justice had said things he shouldn’t have. He could feel a block - the spirit had put up a wall between them and was staying silent. He was not happy and obviously neither was Cole.

---

When Anders approached, he rose to his feet but kept his eyes down. “He really resents me. He accepts that it is best I stay in Kirkwall and your lives but...I think he’d really prefer that I had never come in the first place. I wish he liked me better, it has been so nice to speak to another spirit after all this time…”

---

His shoulders sank. “I don’t think it’s you.” It was him. If he was what Justice wanted him to be, none of this would be an issue. He closed the distance between them and pulled him into an embrace. “Maybe I should start helping you find a way to seperate us. I think he would be a lot happier if he was on his own.” The wall seemed to thicken.

---

He draped his arms around him in return, eager to accept his embrace. It was strange to be on the receiving end of comfort for a change. “Only if he wants you to do that. You have enough to do as it is. I can take care of that and I have other mages looking.” He tightened his arms around him a little. “...He wants me to come to the clinic less often.”

---

At this point, he kind of wanted to do it himself. Justice was miserable lately and it seemed that they could not find a balance between them. “...Is that what you want?” He stayed as he was, waiting for an answer. He didn’t think so, especially not now, but maybe what Justice wanted was enough for him to create distance between them again.

---

“No.” He didn’t want to come by any less. He had only just returned to Kirkwall and they had shared something so incredible that morning. “I don’t know what to do. I do not want to upset him further. But I do not want to distance myself from you either. ...His request was that I not let you get any more attached to me. Perhaps so long as I don’t come by more often than I had been before, we can still see each other but I can also respect his wishes…”

---

Anders didn’t like that. “I don’t think you have to do that. I think if we spend as much time together as we want, he’ll see for himself that it’s not a big deal.” He wanted to see him more than he had before. He had gotten attached to him and the time apart had just made that all the more clear to him. To Justice too, he was sure.

---

“You know him far better than I do. I do not want to cross him any further, but if you feel that will ultimately help him...then I will come as often as you like.” He wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do. But he didn’t like the alternative.

---

He nodded, pressing a kiss to his lips. “I’ll try to talk to him.” He’d avoided talking to him lately, upset as he’d been at him, but since Cole wasn’t gone, he didn’t feel as reluctant as he had before. “Let’s go look at the kittens.” Hopefully it would make both of them feel better.

---

The kiss and the suggestion warmed him and he smiled. “That sounds like a good idea.” He gave him a little kiss in return, then broke away from him to grab his hat.

---

Anders took a moment to try to put himself together. He combed through his hair and then retied it. A hand brushed the scruff on his face. He could use a shave. Maybe before he opened the clinic - he didn’t want to look any more scraggly than he was.

He went to the door and unlocked it, stepping out. There was no one here yet, but it wouldn’t be long before someone wandered by. He knew Cole wouldn’t  be far behind, so he went to the barrels and moved the one that would reveal the family.

Cole followed along and he smiled when Anders exposed the kittens. Some of them were napping against their mother, but a few were toddling around on their own, playing and peeking out curiously when the barrel was moved. The mother blinked lazily up at them, then set her head back down to resume dozing with her babies.

---

Anders crouched and reached for one of the kittens that were moving about, pulling it into his arms. “Good morning, pretty widdle kitty.” He pressed a kiss to the top of its head and began to stroke its back.

Cole's mood brightened significantly and he plucked up a kitten, nuzzling his face against it. “You're not a runt anymore. What a big, strong kitty you're growing into…”

---

He looked over at the cat Cole was holding and smiled. “They’re all doing well.” He used a little magic to examine the one he was holding, confirming his words. “They’re so sweet.” He loved babies in all forms, but especially kittens.

“They are. Their mother is doing such a good job…” He picked up a second kitten, cradling them together. “Do you have a favorite, Anders?”

---

Anders knew why he was asking. He looked between them and and after a few beats, he shook his head. “No, of course not. They’re all precious.” What he wouldn’t admit was that his eyes had lingered longest on one that was mostly grey with splashes of white on the face, paws and chest.

---

The mage’s thoughts had answered what his words wouldn’t and Cole smiled, but nodded. “They are all precious. I will find homes for each of them, it is what their mother wishes. She wants them to never know hunger or fear of predators.” He reached out to scratch the mama cat beneath her chin and she purred loudly.

---

“She’s a good mama.” He reached to give her a little stroke of his own and then he plucked up another kitten as he drew his hand back in, wanting to give it equal attention that he’d given the first kitten.

---

“This one does not want to be picked up.” Cole said as he reached for a black kitten nestled against its mother, stopping just short of touching it. It mewed and sniffed at his fingers, then tentatively rubbed its head against them. “He is friendly, but on his own terms.”

---

“Most of them are like that.” From what he knew of cats, anyway. Not that it ever stopped him from picking one up. He just tried not to overdo it. The kittens in his arms seemed happy to be there and he was happy to have them.

---

He gave the kittens tucked into his arm a nuzzle each, then set them back down by the barrels. “I need to be going. I will come back when I can.” He said, glad that they had taken the time to enjoy the kittens together after all that had happened that morning.

---

Anders looked over at him. “Alright.” He looked back down at the kittens and spent a little longer just giving him love, before setting them down and putting the barrel back. “...See you later.” He wasn’t sure if was still going to come tonight, but he supposed it depended on if there was something to keep him away.

---

“How do you know?” Before he could give him a chance to answer, he closed the distance between them and kissed his lips. As soon as he broke it, he vanished. He was long overdue at the Circle and he knew he had a lot of work to catch up on. But he would be happy to do it, especially knowing that he could see the mage again when he was done.

---

Anders remained where he was for a while, just mulling over everything. The parting kiss had warmed him, but he could still feel the lingering emotions that they were struggling with. He went back to the clinic and no one was there yet, but he was running out of time to get everything ready, himself included, so he started in on that.

Can we sit down? The wall had lowered a little and he could feel how solemn Justice was.

Anders paused, then made his way to his desk, sitting down as requested. What is it? He hadn’t expected him to say anything, much less ask him to do anything.

There was no response. Anders waited a minute or so, just trying to sort through everything, to see if he could figure it out that way, but it was hard to tell what he was thinking. Then, out of nowhere, his hand moved on its own. He could see it cracked with light, which was nothing new, but it was bizarre to feel it move without willing it to. It was also odd that the rest of his body remained unlit.

What are you doing?! He was freaked out because Justice had never taken control of him while he was still conscious. Maybe it was simply that he’d never attempted to, but the hand continued to move, lifting and brushing against his own cheek. He could feel it, but it didn’t feel like it was his hand, even though he felt the rasp of his beard through his fingertips.

He didn’t like it, but he realized what Justice was doing. He was giving him affection…  the only way he could. He just sat there while the spirit caressed his cheek and slowly but surely, he began to tear up.

“Justice…”

He could feel how wounded he was, the wall falling and all of his emotions flooding in. The hand fell and the light faded and for a while, they were both quiet.

Perhaps we can keep the clinic closed today and spend some time together.

Justice didn’t even know what that meant, really, but it seemed like what they needed to do.

Anders lifted his other hand up to brush the back of them over his eyes. He nodded. They could do that.

Chapter Text

It was late when Cole returned to the clinic. He wasn’t sure if he would make it while the mage was awake. But if he had already gone to sleep, he would stay with him anyway and hold him through the night. He made his way quietly into the clinic, moving through the door rather than trying to open it since it was likely Anders had it locked at this time of night.

---

Anders was laying in his cot, curled up on his side. It was late enough that he didn’t think Cole was coming and he was sad about that, but Justice had comforted him. After spending the day together, most of the time passed talking or simply resting, which was strange for them, they were both feeling a lot better about things.

It’d been a long time since they’d put in effort to communicate - they didn’t really have to most of time considering that they heard everything the other thought or felt. For the most part, anyway. It was a little one-sided and sometimes Justice could conceal his thoughts in a way that Anders never could.

--

Cole moved through the dark clinic and found Anders resting in his cot. His thoughts were serene and it was hard to tell if he was resting or lightly sleeping, but at least he didn’t seem especially troubled. He eased himself into the cot beside him and carefully pulled the mage into his arms, cradling him to his chest.

---

As soon as he felt movement, Anders’ eyes cracked open and he looked up at him as Cole pulled him in. “Cole,” he murmured, happy to see him. He had come after all. He slid his arm around him and kissed him softly. “I thought you weren’t coming.”

---

“I had a lot of work to do or I would have come sooner.” He returned his kiss, sighing softly. He was seldom weary, but tonight he was and he was grateful to have a bed to rest in. Not to mention someone he liked to share it with.

---

He was glad that he was here at all. He shut his eyes and rested his forehead against his shoulder. He knew that Justice wanted to speak to him again, but he’d assured him that he could wait until morning.

---

“I will talk to you both in the morning. For now, get some sleep. It is late and I could use a little rest myself.” He didn’t sleep, but he could rest his body and let his mind drift. It was refreshing to do so and he would be ready for more work in the morning.

---

Anders hummed, taking the suggestion to heart. It had been an easy day, but it was late and he was tired and now, resting in Cole’s arms, he was comfortable. It didn’t take long for him to fall under and all that was left was the spirits, unable to communicate, but both sharing the night with Anders all the same.

---

Cole closed his eyes and let himself rest. He was attentive enough to ensure Anders’ sleep was untroubled - he would use his magic to soothe him if need be. But otherwise, he let himself relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of the night. When night gave way to the sunrise, he was feeling much better. He wasn’t sure if it would stay that way though, knowing that Justice wanted to speak to him again.

---

When Anders awoke, he felt really good. Two nights in a row spent in someone’s arms was an incredible improvement from the nights spent alone. “Good morning,” he mumbled, tipping his head up and opening his eyes to peer at him sleepily. The hold he was in was still so secure and he felt safe.

---

“Good morning, Anders.” He liked the feelings radiating from Anders. It was everything he’d wanted the man to feel since the very first night he’d found him suffering alone in his cot. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to stay with him like this every night, but as often as he could would be so beneficial for the mage.

---

He smiled and then lowered his head back to his shoulder. He wanted to cuddle and so he settled close to him, intending on staying like this for a time. He was hungry, as he was every morning, but he usually didn’t get around to eating until mid-morning. Yesterday, he’d been able to eat a little more than usual and whenever he did that, he was always hungrier in the following days.

---

Hearing him think of his stomach reminded him of something and he stroked the man’s back absently as he spoke up. “A few more people in town are being inspired by Gladys bringing food to give out at the clinic. I overheard them yesterday when I was visiting the people who needed me. Soon more people will be bringing in supplies to feed the people of Darktown.”

---

“I don’t know why everyone else is better at getting what I need than I am.” He’d been working here for years and though food was dropped off from time to time, no one had put in an effort like that before. “It’s you, of course, you’re suggesting it to them, aren’t you?

“I suggested it to Gladys. The others were inspired by her and wanted to help you and the hungry on their own.” He smiled warmly. “Sometimes mortals surprise me in their good will for each other.”

---

He found that hard to believe, but if that was all it took then he wasn’t going to complain. “I’ll have to set up an area for food if this continues.” It would be good for everyone - the only unfortunate part was that the clinic would smell good all the time and he’d be even hungrier.

“I will not let you go hungry.” There would be plenty of food for all of them, including Anders. “I just hope your clinic does not get too crowded with people coming for food.”

---

He always felt bad taking food from what was donated, even though it was almost always meant for him. “If it does, I may have to find someone to help me.” It would be a lot for him to deal with if the clinic became any more of a hub for activity than it already was.

---

“It is too much for Gladys to do, but some of the others that want to help are young and able. They could stay and help feed the people.” If they didn't offer on their own, he could nudge them in that direction.

---

“That would be nice. If they’re going to bring the food, they can be in charge of the food...” Until it ran out. Then he could focus on what he needed to. He was quiet,  thinking about all that he would have to do. It would be nice if he could get some tables for people to sit at and then perhaps move the cots closer together to make room and section the clinic off. He wasn’t sure how much anyone intended on bringing, but every little bit helped out and he wasn’t expecting feasts.

---

“Perhaps we could expand the size of the clinic.” Maybe one of the neighboring buildings were available. He kissed his brow. “Let me worry about it. You have enough work to do.”

---

It was too late, he was going to be thinking about this all day. “It’s not often people stay all throughout the night. I probably don’t need as many cots as I have. The only time they all get used is when there is a disaster that affects a lot of people, but luckily those are few and far between.”

---

“Perhaps cutting down a little would help. If there is a disaster, you can always improvise places for patients to rest.” He would help if they had to accommodate for an emergency.

---

“I’ll see what I can do today.” If he wasn’t too busy, he could start shifting things around. He sighed, trying to push the thoughts aside for now, knowing that he would be thinking them all day. Right now he just wanted to take this for what it was worth.

---

“I can help tonight if you are too busy.” He wanted Anders to be able to relax while they had the time. Thinking that he may be able to help with that, he slid a hand beneath the collar of his under robes to stroke the bare skin of his shoulder.

---

As soon as the hand began to touch his skin, he pressed closer to him, his own arm tightening around him. He tipped his head up and kissed his chin, then brushed his nose against his. “I’d like that.” Really, he’d just like it if he came.

---

“I will be here if I am not urgently needed elsewhere.” He wanted to be with him as many nights as possible. “Or if Milos is here. I can come to you after he leaves if he visits this evening.” He slid his hand along his skin and kissed his lips after their noses grazed each other.

---

He flushed a little, the idea of having time with Milos and then time with Cole making him sheepish. He was getting a little spoiled, wasn’t he? Justice agreed, but he was a bit more accepting of the possibility than he would’ve been before.

He just really liked the way Cole made him feel when they were close like this and he didn’t want to lose it just because he had Milos courting him.

He returned the kiss and pressed into him insistently.

 —

“You don't have to have just one or the other. It is good for you to be properly courted by a mortal but get your comfort from a spirit as well…” He murmured this against his lips between soft kisses.

---

Anders made a sound, the hand slid down his back to his ass and he pulled his hips in, rocking slowly. They didn’t have to go further than this, but this would feel nice.

He followed the pull, rocking his hips in return. He parted his lips, running his tongue over his lower lip. This was enough for him, but he wouldn't mind their clothes coming off. For now, his hand just dipped a little deeper into his robes.

---

He met his tongue and brushed them together, he breathing deepening as they moved. He shivered from the feel of his fingers and he dipped his own hand beneath his tunic, preemptively warming it for when he made contact.  

“I never notice how cold I am until you warm me.” The words where whispered into the kiss, pressing himself harder against him at the touch. It felt so nice in so many ways.

---

“Your body is strange.” He didn’t mean it in a cruel way - he was simply stating the truth. He had a body, but it was not fully mortal. He wondered if he could die or if he would simply return to as he was if injured. He had seed, he knew that much, so could he sire a child if he wanted? There were so many questions he knew would likely never be answered. “Is it warmer when we’re naked?” It ought to be.

---

“I have been gravely injured, but I was able to mend myself. I don't know if I can die. And yes, I am warmer when we are bare.” He took no offense, having many questions as well about his body and its limits.

---

Then they ought to be bare. He began to tug at his clothing, trying to pull it of from him so they could lay flush with nothing between them. As soon as he freed Cole, he was started to removed his robe, letting it fall aside.

---

Cole helped him to get his clothes off as well. He wasted no time pressing back into him, rolling his hips eagerly against him. “I doubt I could produce young. I am not mortal enough. But I am glad my body functions well enough to have sex with you at least.”

---

Instead of just his hands, he began to warm his entire body, knowing that would feel even better for him. The frankness of what he had to say next made him snort. “You enjoy having sex with me?” Obviously, but what he was asking was more along the lines of if he enjoyed it like Anders did. The way any mortal did and if it was because it was him specifically, or if was just because it was sex.

---

“Yes. You are the only mortal I want to share this with.” He wasn't so attached to any others like him. He was more interested in the the emotional connection than the physical pleasure but both were wonderful.

---

He smiled, then moaned as his cock thickened. Since Cole had spent so much time on his neck last time, he decided to give him the same and broke the kiss to start in on it, brushing his lips and tongue against it.

---

He drew a slow breath, tipping his head back to give him more access. He wanted to know how it would feel for him to suck on it hard as he had for Anders. He began to harden as well, his hips working harder against him as the friction started to get to him.

---

With his neck presented, he began to suck on it, though for a while his sucking was soft. He went from spot to spot and it wasn’t until he felt his pulse under his tongue that he began sucking hard. He would be able to mark him, if Cole could become injured, so it was the least he could do in return.

---

“Anders…” It felt so good. Even when it was hard enough to ache. He ran his fingers slowly along his spine. “That's so good…”

---

When he finished with that spot, he pressed a kiss to it and then moved to a new spot to suck there, just as hard. His hand slid back down to his ass and he squeezed and pulled him in by it, his grinding becoming far more intentional as it began to feel better and better.

---

He moaned softly, eagerly meeting his hips. He slid a hand up into his hair, gripping it as his blood heated more. It was funny to him how quickly he could fall into this. A quiet moment holding him had turned into heat and pleasure so fast.

---

Anders could do this all morning, but he knew as soon as he came, it would have to come to an end. There was too much they had to do. He could at least draw it out and he certainly was, this grinding giving him a lot of satisfaction, but not enough to get him anywhere soon.

---

Remembering what Anders had wanted the morning before, Cole began to shift them on the limited space on the cot. He eased him to his back and settled over Anders, finding it easier to grind into him once he settled between his thighs properly. He could likely do this all morning too, but he would prefer things progress so he could feel that connection with him again.

---

He pulled his legs up as he had the previous day, keeping them open and resting his feet flat on the cot. He looked up at him, meeting his sunken eyes. They were a lovely blue, but he didn’t look at them long, leaning into kiss him and letting his own fall shut. He rocked insistently, his arms wrapped tightly around him, one still on his ass and one around his shoulders.

---

His thoughts warmed him - he didn't know any part of him was lovely. His eyes closed as well and ge melted into the kiss, moaning softly. It was all so wonderful and he knew it only got better from there.

---

He kissed him deeply, sliding his tongue into his mouth. It too wasn’t as warm as it ought to be, but his own tongue was heated to make up for it. He could feel his bones and it was hard not to be concerned, even though he knew there was nothing to be done about it. He was what he was and there was no changing that.

---

The concern warmed him further. No one had ever worried about the state of him. He stroked a hand along his back, sucking lightly on his tongue. He so seldom bothered to taste anything, not needing to eat, but he tasted so sweet.

---

He groaned, really enjoying it when he sucked on his tongue. It felt so good and he wanted to feel good. Like last time, he hadn’t gone into this expecting it, but he wanted him to find his way inside him again. His cock throbbed and he made a needy sound as he began to blindly try to find the oil from wherever he’d set it last.

---

Cole opened his eyes and broke the kiss just long enough to find the oil and reach for it. He poured some onto his fingers and took Anders in hand, stroking him. After a few beats, his curiosity peaked and he opened his hand further to grasp himself as well, stroking them together to see if it was better.

---

When the kiss was broken he opened his eyes, looking up at him and then over to the oil. Cole had it, it seemed, so he looked back to him and then groaned under his breath when he was stroked with the oil. When Cole took both of them in hand, he began rocking his hips into it the stroking, grinding their cocks within his hold.

---

He groaned, rolling his hips into his hand. It was so good to grind into him with oil to slicken them. “Do you like this better than when I stroke you by yourself?”

---

“They both feel good.” He didn’t know if one was better than the other. When he stroked him alone, he could hold him tighter and work him more thoroughly, but there was something nice about being able to rub their cocks together so directly. To know that Cole felt good too.

---          

He got up on his knees a little so he could pull his other hand from under Anders. He wrapped it around their cocks as well, pumping with two hands experimentally. He quickly decided that wasn't very practical and went back to one hand. That was better.

---

Anders looked down between them when he started using both hands. The couldn’t help but chuckle, the sight amusing, but he was glad when he went back to what he was doing. He agreed, that was better. There were all sorts of things they could do together, if he wanted, but all he really wanted was to feel close to him.

---

It seemed he was in the mood for experimenting because he tried squeezing them with his hand, twisting a little, rolling his thumb over different places. It all felt good, but he wanted to know what felt best for both of them. His eyes were fixed on his work, still so fascinated by the sensations.

---

He continued to watch him. Both what he was doing and his expression. He could see how intrigued he was and he found it endearing, so he did nothing to stop him. He just took the sensations for what they were and let him experiment. He’d been like this himself at a time, but that time had long since passed.

---

He smiled and looked up to him. “Yes, I think most mortals have this figured out in their teenage years. Cole had not gotten many chances to try things and feeling this for myself is a lot more intense than drawing on his memories…”

---

“Most, but some have more experience than others.” He would consider himself more experienced than others. He’d had a fair amount of sex in the Circle and in the years following his escape. Having briefly participated in an occupation that was all about sex, he thought it was pretty safe to say that he’d had more sex than most anyone he knew. Except perhaps Isabela.

Strange to think that he’d gone so long without before meeting Cole.

---

“Cole did not have much time between escaping his father and his death, so he did not have as much experience as most mortals. But he had enough sex that I have some things to draw from.” He used his other hand to start kneading Anders’ balls, curious if he would like that as much as Cole had.

He made a sound, enjoying it. “Is this the first time you’ve done something for yourself?” For as long as he’d known him, he had acted solely for the benefit of others. This was his first time seeing him take something for himself. Doing it because he wanted to do it and for no other reason.

---

“Yes. It is only easy to do this for myself because it feels good for you as well.” He was pleasuring both of them, so even now he wasn't doing something only for his own enjoyment. He gave his balls a little squeeze, then let his fingers slide lower to explore the flesh around his entrance.

---

“Then you are more like Justice than you seem.” He watched him closely, his eyes half-lidded and heated. If it was hard for him to do anything for himself, then it seemed he was as tied to his creed and Justice was. Of course, it was Justice he’d had to convince about that. That  they were not so different. And in their discussions yesterday, he thought he had.

---

“Perhaps.” He kissed his lips, then pulled back once more to watch what he was doing. He thought of something else Cole once liked and he stopped his stoking, shifting down the mage's body to lean down and run his tongue over Anders’ cock. The moment the taste of the oil hit him, he pulled back and made a face. Best to try that before the oil next time.

---

Anders watched in surprise and then he laughed at his expression, realizing what it was. The oil did not taste good, but to someone committed to the idea, it wasn’t so bad. “Let me show you,” he murmured, starting to push himself up. They could swap spots and he’d show him what he was curious about.

---

He shifted back to let him sit up. “The oil does not taste very good.” Though it seemed Anders knew that. “I can try it before we use oil the next time we do this…”

---

“You don’t wish to see what it is like?” It was an offer, but if not accepted, they could wait for another time. He could let Cole try and then show him what it was like then.

---

“I do. But not at your expense. I only want you to do it if you don't mind the taste.” It didn't seem to be a problem for Anders, but he wanted to be sure.

---

“I don’t like it, but it doesn’t take long for it to go away.” He slipped off the cot and gestured for him to take his place. He could have him sit, but it was more comfortable to simply lay back and be serviced.

---

He eased himself onto his back as he was told, watching Anders. “...May I touch you while you do this?” He wanted him to feel good too. It would be strange to accept pleasure and not give any in return.

---

“In a moment.” He moved between his legs and since his hand was clean, gave his cock a stroke to help get some of the oil off. He ran his palm against his thigh, then took hold of him again, touching him for a moment, before leaning in and running his tongue up him and closing his lips around the tip of him.

---

He drew in a hissing breath, surprised by the intensity of the pleasure. A shiver rolled down his spine and he slid a hand into his hair. “That is...so different than what we’ve done before…”

---

It was a lot different and he wouldn’t be surprised if he liked it more. He took his time to suck on the head of him, running his tongue over him. He was in no hurry to progress this, so he gave him only occasional bobs, giving him more tongue work than anything else to enjoy.

---

He moaned deeply, unable to believe how good this was. “The only thing better than this is being inside of you. But this…” It was a close second. He want to touch him, to do something for him, and he stroked his fingers through his hair as he worked.

---

He hummed and, knowing he could make it even better for him, he began to take him deeply, sucking hard as he worked himself up to swallowing his cock. He was curious if he still thought being inside him was better and, lucky him, he didn’t even have to pull off to ask.

---

It was so good his legs were beginning to shake. “Being inside of you is still better. I feel more connected with you and that ties into my pleasure. But this is so good…” Almost impossibly good.

---

Then did he want to be inside him? Or did he want to cum like this? He was curious what his cum tasted like. Probably like normal, since his cock tasted as such. Maybe not, though. Maybe it would taste unique.

---

“If I cum this way, can we still have sex later?” He wanted to experience that again, but he also didn’t want to give this up. He wanted to finish this way, especially since Anders was curious about how it would taste. He was curious too.

---

It warmed him that he wanted him again. He pulled off of him, stroking him to fill the space. “We can have as much sex as you want.” He wouldn’t be against fucking him all morning, but Justice definitely didn’t want that. They both had things to do. Anders wanted to have sex with him, but even more, he wanted to cuddle with him when they were both satisfied.

---

“We can do that tonight then. For now, you can finish this and we should have enough time left for me to do something for you.” He would do whatever Anders liked. But he wouldn’t be able to receive pleasure like this and not give him something in return.

---

He nodded. That would work. Since Cole had asked to touch him, he adjusted his positioning. He shifted around so he was straddling his chest and then leaned in to take him into his mouth again, sucking him intently.

----

He was intrigued by the positioning - it wasn’t something Cole had done before. He was glad that the mage was in reach now though and he took him in his hand, stroking him eagerly. This felt so amazing and he wanted to give back to him all that he could. He murmured his name softly, moaning and pressing his hips up a little into his mouth.

---

This was nicer for him too. He liked being touched and it made him all the more eager to use his mouth on him. He hummed and considered using his magic for more than just heat, but maybe later. This was enough for now and he wanted him to enjoy his mouth for what it was.

---

It was more than enough. He moaned and writhed beneath him, working his cock and trying squeezing and twisting in different places to see what the man liked best. He was beginning to throb and he knew it wouldn't take much more for him to finish.

---

Anders was only somewhat distracted by what he was getting, working him hard. He wanted him to cum, wanting to hear the sounds he would make and taste what he had to offer him. He groaned whenever it felt particularly good, showing him what he liked, even though the effort wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t really much of an effort, anyway.

---

The more reactions he got, the more he was able to adjust what he was doing to give Anders the most out of his stroking. He began to lose focus a little as he got closer to his release and before long his hips were rocking up into his mouth and his hand could manage nothing more than simple strokes. “Anders…” It was all the warning he was able to give before he spilled hard into his mouth, gasping as the intensity of the pleasure shocked him once more.

---

As soon as it hit his tongue, he was satisfied to find that it tasted like normal. He tasted like every other man he’d sucked. At least, like most of them. Some tasted worse than others, but they all tasted about the same in the end. The fact that he was about average worked in his favor.

He continued to suck on him, stroking him to make sure he took everything from him. Only when he could taste no more did he pull up and begin to shift. He wanted to turn back around so he could face him.

---

Cole looked a bit dazed in the aftermath. It had felt so good and watching Anders swallow it down had been so satisfying. He released him to let him turn around, finding that his legs were trembling a little even now that it was over. “That was so amazing…”

---

He smirked. “I’m glad you think so.” He lowered down over him, laying on his chest and looking up at him. “I think you could sire a child,” he commented, after having gotten a taste of him. “If you ever decide you’d like to experience this with a woman, you’ll have to be careful.” The thought was amusing to him.

---

“That would be...very strange. I do not have any interest in trying this with a woman, but if that day comes, I will be very careful.” He had no place creating a mortal child. The very idea unnerved him. He wrapped his arms around Anders, wanting to hold him close for a moment before he returned the favor.

---

Anders nodded in agreement. He would have to be. He also thought that would be wrong for him to have a child. It just… wasn’t natural or normal for a spirit to do so. It wasn’t really possible for them to, though, so perhaps that was why it seemed so wrong. Still, it was amusing to think about. He was trying to imagine if his father had been a spirit. What that would be like. To be able to say that his father was Valor or the like.

“Luckily, we are both male and there is no such risk between us.” They could enjoy all of the carnal pleasures and never risk a child.

---

“That is a relief.” As long as he kept his intimacy with only Anders, he wouldn’t have to worry about siring any children. Would they even be entirely mortal if he did? “What would you like for me to do to please you? I’ll do whatever you want…” He was curious if he liked things that Cole was unfamiliar with or if he just wanted to be sucked or stroked.

---

“You can stroke me.” He would like more, but he knew Cole didn’t like the taste of the oil and he wasn’t worried about it. It wouldn’t be long until Milos came to see him and he could lose himself to pleasure. Tonight, if he came and they had sex, as Cole suggested, he could also lose himself to pleasure then. For now, a hand and some kisses would suffice.

---

“That is not what you want. The taste will get better.” Anders had just proven that it was bearable. He started to shift them, wanting to get Anders on his back once more. He would give him what he really wanted.

---

“It is,” he challenged him, pushing him back and pressing a sweet kiss to his cheek. “Sometimes we mortals are alright with having the next best thing.” Not always, but sometimes. Often, even. “If you try to suck me, I can’t kiss you.” He pressed another kiss to his cheek, but closer to the corner of his lips.

---

Cole could sense that he really did want to kiss him during this and he would enjoy that himself as well. “Very well.” He turned his face enough to kiss his lips, then reached down to take him in hand. He’d at least managed to learn to do this with more finesse and he started to stroke him using the little tricks he’d found the mage liked the best.

---

He smiled and met the kiss, sliding his arms around him and cuddling up to him. He wanted to feel relaxed and so he let himself melt into him as he was worked, sighing against his lips.

---

He gave him soft, slow kisses, keeping the pace of his hand relaxed. There was no hurry, their work could wait a little while longer. He used his magic to warm and soothe him, enjoying the feel of him in his hand as he leisurely stroked him.

---

That felt good. There was a reason why he was content with this. Why he didn’t need the sex. With Cole, this was perfect. It wasn’t that more hurt, it didn’t, but this was more than enough. He liked the he held him and the way he touched him, treating him as much of a lover as Milos did.

---

Cole smiled against his lips. It seemed he was doing things well enough and Anders was enjoying this as much as he was. He wondered if he could bring him to orgasm keeping things this slow - from what he knew of sex, the answer was no. But he was going to keep things nice and easy until he felt that the mage needed more from him.

---

Even though part of his argument had about kisses, after a while of this, he pulled away from his lips and rested his temple on his collar, shutting his eyes. He was breathing deeply and when he did make sounds, they were soft. He focused on the feel of him breathing and how that subtle movement was as soothing as everything else.

---

He kissed the top of his head when he rested it against him, then closed his eyes and relaxed. This was rather soothing, though he associated sex with more of a frantic mood. He listened to the soft sounds from him, continuing to tailor his performance to what he seemed to like.

---

After long enough of this, he stopped thinking all together. Almost starting to fall back asleep, though not all the way. Even though nothing was changing, the consistent stroking and the effort to make it satisfying was adding up to something. It was feeling better and better and his cock was throbbing softly.

---

He thought it was almost amusing that Anders could nearly fall asleep during this. Normally he imagined that would be a bad thing, but between them, it was a sign of comfort. He could feel him starting to throb so he started to stroke him faster, but only by a little, wanting things to stay nice and relaxed.

---

That roused him a little. It was enough of a change that he moaned and tucked his face up into his neck, his cock throbbing a little harder as he was given more to feel. Even that little change was enough to make a difference and with that came the need for another little change. And another would undoubtedly follow, needing it faster and faster.

---          

He gave him a little time with that pace and when he felt he needed more, he started to pump him a bit faster. He added a more pronounced twist where he liked it as well. He would give him just a little more at a time until he was ready to cum for him.

---

When it came to a point that the pleasure began to matter more than the bond that were sharing, he began to rock into his hand. He moaned softly, quietly, so much so that no one else would hear if there were anyone else in the clinic. “Cole,” he murmured, his fingers stroking his skin, needing to touch him while he felt so good.

---

This seemed a little more like what he expected from pleasuring him. He’d enjoyed taking this slowly, but this was what he’d ultimately wanted to give him from this. He pressed a kiss to his forehead and began to stroke him vigorously, meaning to finish what he had started now that he needed it.

---

It still took a while of this for it to really get to him, but when it did, he was squirmed and pressed his mouth into him to muffle himself. When he came, it was with moans that slowly faded into panting. He was holding him tightly and letting the pleasure linger, in no hurry to move or change anything.

---

He was relieved when he felt him spill, knowing that he must have done this right and that he was satisfied. He slowed to a stop when it seemed he’d worked all of the seed from him and he draped his arms around him, also unconcerned about the mess. “I liked doing that for you…”

---

He pulled back a little to look up from him. “Yeah?” He liked it too, he just didn’t really know what Cole got out of it. If he just liked the closeness too or if there was more to it than that. Whatever it was, he was glad that he wanted to share this with him. He knew that he could get much of this from Milos, but as they’d established, it was different with Cole.

---

“It would have been too difficult to accept pleasure from you and not give it to you in return.” It wouldn’t have felt right. He met his gaze serenely. “I also felt very close to you while we did this.”

---

He nodded. “I feel close to you too.” He really liked it whenever Cole held him. That was what had started this, after all. Him holding him and making him feel so good that he couldn’t help but want to be closer to him. He reached up and touched his cheek. “What if I called you something else?” Something other than Cole?

---

The suggestion surprised him and his brows raised a little. “...What would you like to call me?” He was quite curious. He had chosen to go by Cole when he felt he was no longer entirely Compassion. But he wasn’t entirely Cole either.

---

“I don’t know. I know you like to go by Cole.” And in so far as that, he wanted to respect that preference, but the more he thought about it, the more it felt wrong. “I spoke with Justice yesterday.” Quite a bit, they’d talked about many things. It had been difficult for both of them, but it had also been helpful for both of them. “Since he is going to try to do what you did and create a body for himself, I wondered what he would be like.” If Justice would look like him or feel like him still.

“I wouldn’t like it if Justice looked like me or… took my name or identity.” It bothered him and he was still dealing with the potential reality that if they did seperate that Justice might look just like him. “I do not see you as the Cole you know. You are Compassion to me… Compassion and perhaps something more.”

Cole could not change his appearance and even if he could, Anders didn’t know if Cole would want to or if it felt right to him that he should look like the mortal he’d… merged with. Either way, he felt like he should at least have a name of his own and even if it was only between them, he’d like to call him something different.

---

He frowned thoughtfully. “...I had never considered that. I had no control over taking his appearance, but perhaps he would not have wanted me to take his name.” Cole had enough suffering without him adding to it, though he knew that the man’s soul was likely more content in death than it had ever been in life and blissfully unaware of the spirit roaming the world of the living in his image. “You should re-name me.”

---

His brows lifted. “Me? No, you should name yourself. If you want to go by Cole, that’s alright. It’s up to you, but between us… I still think you should choose.” He didn’t want to take away from that agency from him. He knew better than most what a name could mean.

---

“Me? I can not name myself. No one names themselves.” Not mortals and not spirits. “Cole’s name does not belong to me. I should not have felt that I had any right to take it.”

---

“That’s not true.” For the most part he was right and hell, he hadn’t even chosen “Anders”, really, but Justice had chosen his own name. When he came to this world, he could have chosen another name, but he’d decided to remain as he was. It wasn’t a groundbreaking decision, but it had been a choice. “I didn’t mean to suggest that Cole would be upset…” It was possible that he would be, but it was also just as possible that he wouldn’t be. “Just that…” In his place, he would have been upset.

---

“What kind of name should I choose?” He frowned, deciding that if it would upset Anders, it likely would have upset Cole too. “I don’t know if I should take another mortal name. I am not mortal, after all…”

---

“You’re more mortal than any spirit I’ve ever met.” Perhaps there were more like Cole, more that they didn’t know about, but as far as he was concerned, he was one of a kind. “You can have whatever name you like. A mortal name or otherwise.” Many people had the same name… they just didn’t choose to have the same name as someone else. “Are there any names you really like?”

---

“I don’t know…” He had never thought about it. “I could try to fashion a name from the place I came from as your second name came to be. But I do not think it works quite as well with the Fade.”

---

He smiled. “Or maybe we can simply create a nickname from your original name.” Compassion. What would be a good nickname for Compassion? He was struggling to think of a way to shorten it. Pash? He wasn’t so sure about that. That sounded a little silly, didn’t it? It wasn’t an easy word to shorten.

---

“If I choose to go by ‘Com’ or ‘Passion’ people may mistake me for a demon.” Had he just made a joke? It felt adequately amusing and he smiled a little. “Perhaps a nickname related to Compassion then, but not necessarily part of the word.”

---

He thought about it for a while. He didn’t know any names that meant compassion or compassionate, but there were words they could play with. Empathy? Benevolence? Clemency? He couldn’t think of anything for the former, but there was Neville, Lance, or even Clemence. He thought the last one was the best one, since it didn’t really butcher the word it came from, but Cole wasn’t Clemency, was he? He was Compassion… so maybe he was taking this in the wrong direction.

---

“This is difficult.” He murmured, considering the names Anders was thinking of. “I don’t mind the name Lance. This is very difficult, I don’t know how you mortals name children, it is hard enough to choose a name for myself.”

---

“Well, we’re usually not trying to derive them from words, first of all.” He wasn’t sure what he’d want to name his children if he had them, but he didn’t think it would be this difficult. “Maybe we’re too focused on that part of you.” If not that part, then what? He just started thinking of names he liked. People he’d met or names he’d read in books, wondering if any of them would work.

---

“That is a good idea. I have met many people with many names, but I seldom stay long enough to have any real connection with them. I would like to hear some names that you’ve liked in people you’ve met or read about.” If Anders had a positive association with the name, it would be good enough for him.

---

He had a lot of names to draw on. Names of his childhood friends, names of mages he met in the Circle, names of people he met during his escapes, names of people he met in the Wardens, even some names of people he met in Kirkwall. He thought of naming him Varric and laughed to himself at the thought of introducing them.

“If you were a woman, this would be simple. Mercy or Grace.” How easy it would be. He supposed there wasn’t any reason those names had to be gendered, but the idea of a male with those sames did seem strange to him.

---

“I like those names. I met a woman named ‘Hope’ once and I thought that was pretty, but it would be very inappropriate to take another spirit’s name.” He smiled to him. “I would like to meet Varric sometime. You think highly of him.”

---

“If you really like them, Mercy is probably better of the two.” If he tilted his head and squinted, it could be a male name. He supposed that for a spirit, it really didn’t matter, though there was no denying that the body he current occupied was male. He also thought of Justice as male because of the way he’d presented himself in the Fade and the corpse he’d unwittingly taken over when he’d come into their world.

“I’m sure Varric would be fascinated by you.” All of his friends would be, but he wasn’t sure it would be a good idea if anyone else knew of him. The mages already did, but that was out of necessity.

Then again, what would it really hurt?

---

“Mercy would be fine if this body was somewhat feminine, but I do not think it works as I am.” He shook his head. “Besides, I am not Mercy. I am Compassion.” They were similar virtues, but not the same. “Is there anyone in your history that I remind you of?”

---

“You are Compassion.” Maybe he ought to just go by his name. Even if he had changed when he met Cole, that didn’t mean he wasn’t still Compassion. He’d just… grown. He thought about his question, though, and it didn’t take long for him to remember a boy he’d met in the Circle. Back when he’d ‘joined’ and everything had been so frightening and overwhelming.

The boy hadn’t introduced himself until after his first escape attempt, when Anders had been found and dragged back, filled with despair, but when he did, he was the first friend he made in the Circle. For a while, he was only one Anders would talk to, though they never grew particularly close. They had been rather different from one another and as Anders grew into his own, he’d made many friends better suited to him, though he never forgot the boy’s kindness. So quiet, so caring…

When it had come time for the boy’s Harrowing, he and Anders hadn’t spoken at length for years. Anders hadn’t even realized it had come and it wasn’t until he’d run into him on one of the staircases weeks after that he saw the sunburst on his forehead and realized what had happened. That he’d chosen Tranquility rather than risk the uncertainty of what would happen in his Harrowing.

He felt shame when he thought of him. He hadn’t thought of him in a long time, but he would never forget the feeling in his stomach when he saw him. When he realized the kind boy that had for a brief time been his only friend was gone.

He knew Cole could hear his thoughts and he spoke up. “...I should’ve been a better friend to him.” Maybe if he’d been there to encourage him, he would have chosen differently and he wouldn’t have given up without even trying.

---

He could feel that he was troubled over this even after all those years and he kissed his brow to comfort him. “You were young. He may have chosen Tranquility no matter what you had done if he was frightened enough.” He could only say for certain if he’d met this boy for himself. “But he was good to you and I would be happy to take his name if you would like that.”

---

There was no way of knowing, but that had never made Anders feel any better. “Noah,” he tested out, looking to him. “It’s up to you. It’s your name and you’ll have to go by it long after I’m gone.” Or he could change it again, he supposed, if he felt the need.

Still, he thought it was too personal a thing to let someone else choose.

He considered it a moment, then nodded. “I have my own name now. Noah.” He would have to get used to it, but he thought a simple change of his name would be an easy adjustment. “Does it suit me?”

---

“I think so. A nice simple name.” Not unlike the name he’d gone by until now. It was a good name and it did make him think of someone who had extolled his virtues. “Better than ‘Pash’,” he snickered.

Better than anything he’d come up with, he thought.

“Much better than Pash.” He was relieved to have a new name now that he knew Cole may not have wanted his name taken when he died. “I wonder if I could change my appearance also. Perhaps Cole would not want me looking like him either.”

---

He bit his lip. “...It is something to consider.” He wasn’t sure how he would, but anything was possible. If Cole could change his appearance, maybe Justice wouldn’t have to take his.“Are you sure you want to change it?” Whatever Cole may have felt, did he want to?

“Yes. It would be better if my appearance wasn't so frightening.” If he didn't look like death, he wouldn't have to hide his face from mortals. “But I don't know how.”

---

He nodded. “Maybe if you find an answer for Justice, you’ll find an answer for that too.” If not, it wasn’t as if he could help it. He pressed a kiss to his lips, understanding why he was considered frightening, but not feeling that way.

“I'm glad I do not frighten you.” He murmured and kissed him in return. He wouldn't have been able to get this close to Anders if he was scared or repulsed by him.

---

“I’ve seen a lot of death. I am use to it. It helps that you are not truly dying.” He just looked it. “It is not fitting for you.” He ought to look alive, considering what he was. He imagined him soft and sweet, plain, but warm. Basically the way Cole- Noah regarded him personified.

“I am able to eat. I wonder if I did that occasionally if I could fill out a little and I would look more alive.” It wasn't very appealing to him, but it might be worth trying.

---

He considered it. “When you eat… your body digests it and all?” It was weird to think that he could, but didn’t have to. If it affected his appearance, it was stranger still. “Maybe that would help.” The degree to which he was and wasn’t alive was hard to comprehend.

---

“Yes. It takes a while, but it does.” All of his systems seemed to work. “But I don't know if I could put on weight. I don't know if this body is alive enough to change that much…”

---

“You could try, if you like. Eating is rather enjoyable.” Not that he really enjoyed eating himself. He did, but he couldn’t remember the last time really had. On the flipside, he did enjoy basically everything he put in his mouth for the simple fact that his body craved it so much that anything was better than nothing.

---

 “I would rather the food goes to mortals who need it. But perhaps if we get a soup kitchen going and there is enough, I will try.” He had tried some things he had liked and he wouldn't mind trying more.

---

He was curious. He’d have to insist he ate whenever he was here. If his appearance improved, then perhaps he wouldn’t have to change if he didn’t want to. Still, he kind of hoped he would try… if only for his own sake. He really, really didn’t want Justice to look like him.

---

“I will try. I simply don't know where to start.” If Anders didn't want Justice looking like him, he would do his best to prevent it. “I want to look the way you want me to. Soft, sweet, warm.”

---

He flushed a little. “It’s not that I want you to look that way, it’s just how I picture you.” His words didn’t quite reflect his thoughts - it was hard to keep anything from him, though, and he knew that C- Noah would read the truth in his thoughts. “Maybe you could keep your eyes. As a tribute to Cole.” They were rather lovely, after all.

---

He smiled at that. “It's alright, I am not offended.” He kissed his lips to prove that he wasn't. “I will try to keep my eyes as they are. For Cole and for you.”

---

He smiled and returned the kiss, holding onto it for a beat. “We should probably get up.” Justice still wanted to talk to him and they had things to do, especially if Noah came back tonight.

---

“You're right. We have delayed our work for long enough.” He untangled himself from Anders and climbed off of the cot. This time he was mindful of the mess on him and he wiped himself off before he began to dress.

---

Anders cleaned himself up as well and then pulled on his clothing. He took his time making himself presentable and when he was ready, he moved out of the nook. Like before, he thought the conversation ought to take place outside of it, though he was trusting that it would go differently this time.

---

Cole, or Noah as he would have to get used to, followed him out of the nook and found a stool to sit down on. He hoped that Anders was right. He didn’t want Justice to dislike him as much as he did and he knew that not much could have changed in a single day.

---

When everyone was settled, Justice moved in. For a moment, he just sat there. There was a lot on his mind and he had to remember everything that he and Anders had talked about. “This is difficult for me.” It wasn’t something he liked admitting and it was hard for him to say it aloud, even though he knew Cole was one of the few that he could say it to.

---

“I know it is. I am sorry.” He really was. He wished this was easier for the spirit and he wished he could alleviate his jealousy. But the best person to do that was Anders and it seemed that he’d spent a lot of time the previous day working on it.

---

There was a long silence, the spirit’s eyes fixed on the floor in front of him. “You have both said that I was corrupted or that I was almost corrupted.” He’d talked to Anders about that a lot yesterday and he’d finally gotten out how he felt on the matter. Anders had provided a lot of input to his thoughts - things that he didn’t want to hear, but that he’d needed to hear. “I do not like to think that I am any less than I was, but if I’ve joined with Anders as you have with Cole, then we are more alike that I have wanted to admit.”

“I am him and that means every part of him.” Even the parts he wanted to ignore.

---

“You are not less than what you were. But you have changed. You and Anders are one, as Cole and I are one.” He said gently, nodding his agreement about the last thing he’d said. “You are every part of him and you must be careful not to let his negative emotions control you. As spirits, we are not naturally equipped to deal with them and we have to learn to do so.”

---

His expression was troubled. “I still do not think I have done anything wrong. I do not see what you see. Just because justice is harsh does not mean it is unfair. If there is anyone I have wronged, it is only Anders. I pushed him so hard… but I do not regret it. I will change it, but I do not regret it.” He looked so uncomfortable, so unlike himself. “I have been treating him as if he is like us, but he is not. I don’t know why I forgot how complex they are - I feel it everyday, I see it everyday, but it is difficult to not want them to live as we do.” While he was in his body, it was difficult to not to want to live as he would want to live on his own.

“It’s hard to accept that the emotions that would poison us are not so dangerous for them.” It could poison them, but it took a lot more of those emotions to corrupt them. Whereas Justice was so adverse to them, he didn’t want to experience them at all.

---

“But you know now why it is important not to push him so hard. I don’t expect you to regret it, I am simply glad that you are changing it.” He understood why he didn’t have any remorse for it - they had gotten a lot done for a lot of people. He didn’t intend to change that, he knew it was important that Anders stay very invested in his clinic and the Circle, just not at the expense of his health and happiness. “They are well-rounded beings. A variety of virtues and vices are what make them thrive.”

---

“Yet they even struggle with the line. They wouldn’t be in such desperate need of us if they were truly as well-rounded as you say.” This was said with some aversion, but he pushed it aside. “I know him so well, but I do not understand him like you do.” He thought he knew him better than Noah did, but Noah connected so simply and so seamlessly with him. “I think I understand him better now…” After having talked to him for so long and having actually listened, without dismissing what he had to say. Much of what Noah had said to him helped him and helped Anders explain himself to him. “I just don’t understand why it is so much more difficult for me than it is for you.” To not only understand him, but accept him as he was.

---

“Understanding mortal needs and emotions is necessary for the comfort compassion brings. It is not so necessary for you to give them justice.” They were different and had different strengths when it came to dealing with mortals. “We help them in different ways.”

---

He frowned. “Yes, well, I also think it has something to do with my lack of body. It would be easier to be understanding if I wasn’t subjected to everything he experiences. Perhaps it would be easier for you to be content, but I am not content. Less so the more I act on his behalf.”

He didn’t blame Anders, it was just unfortunate that what they needed were such opposite things. The only reason it was bearable was that Anders did stand for the same things he did and he spent so much time, of his own choice, doing what Justice would want to be doing anyway.

“And it is difficult to watch you to come in and do everything that I would be want to be doing, but cannot.” He was glad that he was making an impact - he was not so selfish that it had to be him - it just meant it was harder to be idle himself.

“I know you are frustrated and I understand.” He needed his own body. He would be so much happier with the freedom he got to enjoy himself. “I am still looking for a solution for you. I have mages searching for a way to get a body for you as well.”

---

He nodded. He kept his eyes down, obviously thinking. “I am… jealous of you.” Obviously, but he hadn’t admitted it. “I do not like that he prefers you. I do not know why it bothers me so much that he seeks comfort from you and not from me.” Even knowing that he couldn’t give him the comfort he needed, that he wouldn’t give as much as Noah did, even if he could, it still made him jealous.

“It is because of your merging with Anders that you are able to feel this jealousy. Perhaps having your own body will alleviate that or perhaps not, as I still have negative emotions from Cole.” He thought Justice would always be a little more mortal from now on no matter what happened. “I think you will feel better when you have your own body to give him comfort, even if you wouldn't choose to do so very often.”

---

“Perhaps.” Perhaps if he were able to be close to Anders in a physical way, he would feel differently. He just thought that they way they were connected was as close as they could ever be, but for some reason the physical component of touch was so important to the mage. He could still feel how emotional Anders had become when he’d taken control of their hand and touched his cheek. “I know that there is no guarantee that I will be able to be as you are.” Even if he waited until Anders died to try. “If the time comes and there is no solution…” Perhaps he ought to simply return to the Fade.

---

“I wish I could give you that guarantee. But we have time to try to figure it out.” He sighed softly. “I want you to be happy as much as I want Anders to be happy. I will not stop looking for an answer for you.”

---

Justice gave a nod. “That is all I wished to say.” For now. He felt somewhat better getting it off his chest, but most of that relief had come when he’d talked to Anders the day before.

---

“I will just stay long enough to say goodbye to Anders, then we can both get to work.” They had wasted more of the morning than they likely should have and he appreciated Justice being so patient with them. The least he could do was assure him that he would be leaving.

---

He gave him another nod and then pulled back. When Anders came to, he spotted Cole- Noah and studied him briefly, wondering if he would be able to see the effect of their conversation on his expression. Whether it had been good or bad.

It was good, Justice assured him before he could wonder long.

---

“It was a good talk.” He had no idea whether or not Justice would tell him about what they discussed, but it was all he would say on the matter. He rose from his seat and moved to Anders, leaning in to kiss his lips. “I should be going.”

---

With the confirmation on both sides, he nodded. “Okay, I’ll see you later.” He’d mentioned coming back tonight, but if he didn’t show up, that would be alright. As long as he came back the next night. He gave him a little smile.

---

“How do you know?” He nuzzled their noses together briefly before pulling away and vanishing. He would return that night if he had a chance to and he would introduce himself as ‘Noah’ to anyone he met that day. It might be confusing for the Circle mages who already knew him as Cole, but perhaps they would understand the reason for the change. He wasn’t Cole, or at least he wasn’t just Cole. He was his own person and it was time that he took his own name.

Chapter Text

It was growing dark when Milos made his way to the clinic. He was a little nervous after the mood he’d found Anders in the last time he visited, but he hoped that he was having a better week. Even if he was having a bad week, he carried a large box with him that he hoped might raise the mage’s spirits.

He stepped into the clinic and found that he would have to wait his turn this time as there was a teenage boy on Anders’ table. It didn’t look all that serious as the boy was simply cradling an arm, so he just offered the mage a smile and went to sit on a stool and wait for him.

---

Anders looked up and this time when he saw Milos, he was a bit more excited. His mood had much improved and enough time had passed for him to miss him. He could see that Milos was carrying something and he figured it was for him, else why would he be bringing it with him?

Luckily, he had something for him too.

It didn’t take long for him to finish up with the boy and he warned him about staying out of trouble, giving him a brief lecture before he sent him on his way.

“Hello,” he greeted him, leaning into his work table as he waited for him to come close.

---

“Hi…” He rose from his seat and moved to the table, setting his box on it once he reached it. “I hope your week is going a little better?” He inflected his sentiment as a question, though he felt he already knew the answer. The mage looked like he felt better than he had the last time.

---

“It is.” He set his arms on the edge of the table behind him, looking him over. “How’s your week been?” He was speaking casually, but there was a coyness to him.

---

“It’s been fine. I had a breakthrough with your horse. She came to me from out in the field yesterday without me having to call for her for the first time.” He answered simply enough but a smirk was growing on his lips as he picked up on something in Anders’ demeanor.

---

“Oh yeah? I’ll have to see her soon or she’ll think she’s your horse.” Not that he minded that. All the better that she had a connection with the person that actually took care of her. “I still haven’t come up with a name for her.” He hadn’t thought on it much. He’d put more effort in trying to help Noah find a name than he had for her, but that had been a more immediate need.

---

“I rode her into town, she’s in the stables right outside the gates. You can visit her tonight if you want.” He had told him he would bring her, after all. But if Anders just wanted to stay in, that was perfectly fine with him as well.

---

Maybe they’d do that. They could go on a walk and get some fresh air and he could meet his horse. “Before that, I have something for you.” He moved away from him and went to his nook, opening his chest and pulling out a leather roll. He returned to him, somewhat shyly.

---

“Oh yeah? Well, maybe I have a little something for you too…” He watched him curiously, eyeing the roll he’d brought with him from his nook. He smiled, finding the bashful nature of the mage rather endearing. “Let’s see it…”

---

He offered it to him, saying nothing. He’d know once he opened it. It was a jeweler’s kit, filled with tools that, while not new, were in good condition. It wasn’t everything he needed, particularly since he needed a forge to work at if he was actually going to make anything, but it was still a good set.

“You said you sold your tools, so… I got you some more.”

---

As he unrolled the leather casing, his heart skipped a beat. Tools. His own kit after years without. “Anders…” He ran his fingers over them. It was a really nice set and he felt a spark of creativity he hadn’t had in such a long time. He longed to make something and perhaps with his own tools again, he could start. “This...this is so kind of you…”

---

He smiled. It hadn’t been all that hard to get them. He’d just pulled some strings and here they were. “I just wanted to apologize for last week.” That and the fact that he’d given him a horse in return, he felt he’d owed him and ought to show him that he appreciated spending time with him.

---

“You didn’t need to apologize. We all have bad weeks.” He set the tools aside and wrapped his arms around Anders. He kissed him firmly, wanting to show him how grateful he was.

---

He slid his arms around him in return and kissed him, a little harder than necessary. As much as he appreciated the attention from Noah, always wanting him close, there wasn’t all that much passion between them. Not like there was with Milos. “I don’t know if that’s enough for you to make anything, but if you do, I want to see it.”

---

“It’s a good start. When I have enough supplies to make something, I’ll show you.” He kissed him again, hard and eager. He’d missed him and he was craving him.

---

Anders tightened his arms around him and met the kiss just as eagerly. They had plans to see the horse, of course, but right now he wasn’t so worried about that.

---

It took Milos a little while to remember that he’d brought something for him as well. Even after he remembered, it took more time for him to be willing to break the kiss. It was growing a little heated and his hands had begun to roam him - he’d missed this man, especially with the lack of intimacy in their last visit. “Do you want your gift?” He murmured against his lips.

---

He nodded, his mind not at all on the box. He was imagining that his gift was hidden in Milos’ trousers and he would be more than happy to unwrap that particular ‘gift.’ He kissed him harder, his hand falling to squeeze his ass.

---

He made a sound against his lips, pressing closer when his ass was grabbed. The box could wait. He worked his tongue into Anders’ mouth, hungry and wanting to deepen their kiss. His fingers sought the fastenings for his robes, forgetting that the door was still unlocked and perhaps it was a little early to be undressing him.

---

Anders also forgot about the door and as his robes loosened and fell, he used his grip on Milos to turn him towards the table and bend him over it. He squeezed his ass again and then slid his hand around to grope him as he pressed his hips to his ass through his trousers.

---

“Anders…” He moaned to him as he was bent over. He gripped the edge of the table and pressed back into him, wanting more pressure as the mage teased him through his pants. He was thickening quickly, straining against the lacings of his trousers.

---

He leaned over him, pressing his weight to him and rolling his hips into him. “Milos,” he murmured, giving his lobe a nip. He continued to grope him, taking his time loosening his laces so that when he finally reached in to tug him out, it would be a relief.

---

He could feel his fingers working the laces and he sighed when he was freed. Milos loved the weight of Anders over him, so tall and so strong and he shivered in delight beneath him. He wanted him and right now, he didn’t really give a damn if they didn’t have any oil in reach. He just wanted to be taken by him right over this exam table, dry or lubed it didn’t matter.

---

Anders was on a similar wavelength, though he did want lube to help ease him into this. He continued to push his trousers down and when his ass was uncovered, he pressed himself against it, enjoying the feel of warm skin on skin. There was something nice about feeling the life in him.

He pulled away suddenly, intending on walking the few steps it took to get to his nook where the oil was waiting, a bit emptier than what it had been last time they’d used it together.

---

Milos whimpered a little when he moved away, missing the heat and the pressure as soon as he was gone. “Hurry…” He murmured, giving his ass an inviting little shake. He knew what he was going to get and it would definitely make him easier to take since it had been a little while since they’d done this. But that didn’t mean he was any more patient for him to get the oil and get back to him.

---

It didn’t take him long to return and he already had his hand slick when he settled behind him. He stroked his cock and, knowing how badly they both wanted it, he pressed himself in place, pushing in and working himself deep with a few thrusts. He pressed his weight into him again, his hand sliding around to take hold of his cock with his oiled fingers.

---

He cried out when he pressed inside, pushing his hips back into Anders. He needed this. His grip on the table tightened, especially when he took him in hand. “Fuck me…”

---

He gave him what he wanted, fucking him hard. If the work table weren’t so heavy, it would have been sliding forward with each snap of his hips. He stroked him firmly and buried his face into the back of his neck. He smelled good and he couldn’t resist biting down on the skin that peeked out just above the collar of his shirt.

---

He groaned and rocked his hips, meeting his thrusts and getting more out of the hand stroking him. It was fun to be taken right in the middle of his lover’s workspace and he smiled at the idea of Anders fantasizing about fucking him whenever he looked at this table. It all felt so good, even his teeth sinking into his skin giving a little edge of pain to his pleasure.

---

Even like this, he was stunning. A thick head of hair, a firm ass - when he pushed up the back of his shirt, prominent lines on his back. He was so attracted to him and he made it even more enjoyable to lose himself in his body.

He moved a hand down to the hand stroking him, taking hold of his wrist. He wasn't stopping him, simply holding him in the best way he could while he was bent over the table. “Don't stop…”

---

Anders smiled. He wasn’t going to stop. He pushed him harder against the table, pinning him in a way that would be a little bit painful. In a way that might leave marks once he let up.

He groaned and pounded him feverishly, needing to give it to him as hard as he could, as fast as he could. He was already panting with effort, and the longer he fucked him, the harsher his breathing became.

He didn't mind the pain at all - it complemented the harsh fucking quite nicely. He moaned with abandon, begging him to give him more though he was already getting so much from him. It was all so intense and he was throbbing in his grasp. It didn't take much more for him to spill, crying out as his muscles tightened sharply around the mage.

---

As soon as he spilled, Anders groaned and sank his teeth back into him. He bit hard enough to leave a mark and then moved his hands to the table to brace himself as he pounded him for another minute, before finally spilling with a satisfied sigh. He held himself there and leaned in, pressing a kiss to the tooth marks he’d left behind.

---

Milos panted harshly where he was pinned when he felt the heat fill him and he smiled when he felt the kiss soothe the bite he’d been given. He made a soft, content sound once he caught his breath, happy with the man’s weight over him even if it was far less comfortable to stay like this now that his pleasure was ebbing.

---

He eased off of him and shifted to lean into the table beside him. “That sounded good.” He sounded like he’d enjoyed that quite a bit. He reached to stroke a hand along his back and he gave his ass another squeeze, since it was close.

---

When he could move, he eagerly did so, needing to stretch. “It felt amazing…” He turned toward him and moved a hand to his cheek, drawing his face in to kiss him.

---

He met the kiss, sliding his arms around him and pulling him in. His shirt was still in the way, but he supposed it didn’t really matter. They would have to dress anyway. “Good.” He was happy to have pleased him.

---

“I missed you…” It had only been a week since he’d seen him, but he’d missed him. It had been longer since they’d been able to share intimacy like that and it was so good to have it with him again. He smiled and stole another kiss from him.

---

“I missed you too,” he admitted. Not as much as he might have if things hadn’t done the way they had with Noah, but he had still missed him. “We should probably get dressed and get going if we’re going to go see the horse tonight.

---

“We should. Hold that thought.” He grinned and pushed himself upright, tucking himself back into his trousers and moving to collect the previously forgotten box he’d brought along. He brought it to Anders and opened it, revealing the robes he’d had made for them after their first date. They were gray, detailed with speckles of lighter grays that looked almost like stars against the darker fabric and lines of a deeper gray to give the robes a defined, fitted look. The fabric wasn’t fine by any means, but it was well-made and durable despite the cut of the robes looking like they were made for fashion more than function. “I like your robes but you said they were all that you had. I thought maybe one more wouldn’t hurt…”

---

Anders stared at the inside of the box. “Milos… you didn’t have to do that.” He reached to touch the fabric, feeling how soft it was. Not too soft, but not scratchy, either. They looked really good and he pulled them out to unfold them and see them in their entirety. He looked at him and then flushed, looking back at the robes sheepishly.

---

“I wanted to.” He flushed as well, but was happy to see that he liked the gift. He’d requested them to be made after only hours with the mage to try to guess his tastes, so he was relieved that they went over well. At least he thought by the look on his face that they were going over well.

---

Anders didn’t know what to say. He continued to look it over and, after a while, decided he ought to try it on. He started to pull it open and then slip into it. It fit surprisingly well, considering how thin he was. He fastened it up and then took a step back. “I don’t have a mirror, so you’ll have to tell me how I look.”

---

Perhaps that would be his next gift. He moved in closer and straightened the collar on it. “Wow, ...you look great. And I have to say, I did a good job guessing your measurements. But I did apprentice under a blacksmith when I was learning to be a jeweler that did custom fitted pieces for people.”

---

He smiled. “It’s a bit tighter than what I’m use to wearing.” Not that it was a bad thing. It felt kind of nice for it to be fitted to him. He tried to smooth down the fabric, though there was no need. “As long as it looks good.”

---

“It looks great. Showing off your figure a little isn’t such a bad thing…” Yes, he was a little too thin. But he still looked so good to him and the robe was flattering with his broad shoulders and lean figure.

---

He leaned in and kissed him. “Thank you…” He took his hand and tugged him towards the door, though he remembered his key at the last moment moved to grab it from his robes piled on the ground. He grabbed his staff and then walked outside with him, locking up behind them.

---

He let Anders tug him along, a smile on his lips. It would be nice to show off the progress made with the horse he’d caught for him. He didn’t trust her like his other horses to idle near town and not let any strangers approach them, so he’d had to use a little coin to keep her in the stables just outside the gates.

While Milos followed after the stable boy with Anders to fetch the new horse from her stall, he shivered a little from a sudden chill in the air. Noah had seen them near the gates and while he didn’t want to intrude too much on their night, he was curious. He didn’t want to make himself visible to either of them, but he couldn’t resist making himself known to Anders. He thought it most likely that Justice would be able to sense him anyway. He brushed his hand lightly against the hand that wasn’t holding Milos’ and leaned in to whisper in his ear, soft enough that no one else in the stables would hear. “Anders…”

---

Anders jumped, turning to look at him. “Cole.” He realized himself. Not Cole. Noah. What was he doing here? He looked back to Milos, realizing his reaction probably would have alerted him to the situation, unaware as he was that Noah was only presenting himself to him.

---

Milos felt Anders startle and turned to look at him briefly as they walked. “What did you say?” He hadn’t heard him well and over the sound of the horses munching on hay and pacing their stalls around them, he wasn’t sure he’d heard anything at all.

Noah raised a finger to his lips. “You don’t need to speak out loud. Milos doesn’t know I’m here. I want to let you enjoy your night with him, I just wanted to stop by and see you.”

---

“Oh nothing, nevermind.” He gave him a little smile and then glanced back at Noah. He was pleased to see him and he offered him a smile as well. He took his hand since they were close and gave it a squeeze. Are you going to come to the clinic? He wouldn’t be there any time soon, but he would like it if he came by still.

---

“I will try. I still have some work to do tonight. I was happy to see you out in town so I could visit you in case I cannot come tonight.” When they stopped in the stable in front of the new horse, Noah looked it over. “This one must yours. She’s very pretty.” He leaned to kiss the mage’s cheek.

---

He looked at her again. She looked as he remembered, but she was very pretty and his memory didn’t do her justice. He looked back at Noah and his smile widened at the kiss. He felt a little sheepish, being with both at the same time, but it was kind of nice and he gave Milos hand a squeeze as well.

“She looks good.”

---

“She does. Some proper food and grooming and you can really how pretty she is.” Milos smiled and watched as the stable boy opened the stall and lead the horse out. Her eyes were fixed on Noah and she huffed.

“She is disappointed. She doesn’t smell any carrots on Milos. He’s been giving her a lot of treats.” Noah reached out with his free hand to stroke the horse’s nose.

---

The extra input from Noah made him grin. “What a lovely girl…” He moved in a little closer himself, letting go of both of their hands so he could stroke her neck. “I need to come up with a name for you.” He still didn’t know what to call her. He eyed her coat. Patches? That would be a cute name for her.  

---

“We’ll bring her along for our walk. Maybe by the time we’re done you’ll know what to name her.” Milos was offered the lead rope by the stable boy but instead he gestured for it to be given to Anders. “She’s not trained on the lead very well yet. I’ll scold her if she tries to get ahead of you, but she should stay right at your side.”

“This is my friend Anders. He has no carrots tonight, but he will be very kind to you. Be good to him and let him lead you.” Noah told the horse gently, then looked to Anders. “I will let you get back to your night.” He moved in to kiss Anders’ lips, feeling a little sly about being able to do so with Milos right beside them, keeping it short and sweet.

---

Anders took the rope, somewhat nervous, but not really. He’d been around horses enough, though not a wild horse. But he trusted Milos to know what he was talking about.

He was curious if Noah’s words would actually affect anything, but it was reassuring as what Milos had to say. His cheeks tinted a little when he was kissed, since to him it looked like Milos could see everything, but he gave Noah a warm, but sheepish smile.

See you later.

He could already hear his response.

He chuckled softly but said it aloud anyway. “How do you know?” With that, he took his leave. The two mortals could enjoy their night and he would return to his work happily knowing that Anders had Milos for company.

Milos mistook Anders’ blush for fear and he gave his arm a reassuring touch. “She's a little skittish, but she's gentle. I'll take charge if she gives you any trouble.” He started to lead the way out of the stables, watching over his shoulder to see if the filly would walk cooperatively with Anders.

---

Anders started along, giving the lead the lightest of tugs as he followed after Milos. He looked up at her as she walked, and then back to Milos, smiling.

Milos was pleased to see the horse walking obediently at Anders’ side. It seemed she didn't exactly take Noah's word for absolute truth, because as soon as they were outside of the stable, she nosed at Anders’ robes, checking for herself if he had any treats for her.

Milos made a sound in his throat to correct her, though he had to do it a few times before she minded and gave the mage his space. “Sorry, she hasn't learned her manners quite yet.”

---

He chuckled. “I don’t mind.” He thought it was rather cute. “I’ll bring something for you next time.” Maybe. If he had something on hand at the time. He gave her cheek a stroke and then continued on.

“So, what else is new? Besides your work with this pretty girl?”

“I have a mare due to have her foal any day. It's always exciting around the ranch when there's a new baby to fuss over.” It made for a lot more work, but it was fun for him and he looked forward to it. “That's about as thrilling as it gets in my life. Most days are about the same. You've probably had a more eventful week.”

---

“Oh, I suppose you could call it that.” Same days more than others, but everything with Justice and Noah had been rather eventful. “Many of my days are the same too, honestly. The only time it changes is when I’m dragged out of my clinic by my friends.”

He still wasn’t ready to tell him that he was a renegade mage.

“There's nothing wrong with that. I kind of like having predictable days most of the time.” It was a nice night for a walk and now that he was confident that the horse would walk well with Anders, he took the mage's other hand and fell into step beside him.

---

He let there hands swing a little. “Yeah, the consistency is nice.” Were he younger, he might disagree. After growing up in the Circle he had been starved for excitement and adventure when he was young. He was quiet for a few steps, then decided he ought to tell him what was going on, since somewhat involved.

“There’s been some changes around the clinic, though. We’re starting to get more and more food donations, so it looks like it might turn into a soup kitchen of some sort.” To what degree, he didn’t know. He was just taking the changes as they came.

---

“Really?” He didn't know for sure that it was something Anders wanted in his clinic, but it was something Darktown sorely needed. “That's great. Is there anything I could help with? Anything you need?”

---

“Oh no, that’s alright.” He didn’t want to ask anything of Milos, especially anything that would make more work for him. “I’m just taking it as it comes. So far it hasn’t been too busy yet.” Only because they’d only gotten a few ‘big’ donations and word hadn’t quite spread about the excess of food he was giving out.

---

“If it starts being too much for the clinic, maybe the people donating food could get their own space for the soup kitchen. I bet people would donate to a collection to buy a building near yours.” He could see the clinic getting too crowded quickly if people started coming for meals every day.

---

“That would probably be best,” he agreed, though he wasn’t sure about ‘buying’ anything. He didn’t know that any buildings in Darktown were really for sale. They were occupied sometimes and sometimes they weren’t and that was all there seemed to be to it. The only reason why the clinic was his was because he’d found it empty, squated there, and eventually it turned into what it turned to. The exceptions, of course, were where some families lived, but he didn’t think they’d be giving up their homes any time soon. Even for coin. Shelter was better than not and most people in Darktown didn’t have the means for anything better.

“I’ve had some help, so it’s not so bad.”

---

“That's good. I can't get away from the ranch every day, but if it gets to be overwhelming I'll come help when I can.” He didn't know how much help Anders was getting, but he doubted it was enough.

---

“I’ll be okay,” he assured him, squeezing his hand again. He appreciated the offer, but he wasn’t going to take him up on it. Though… it would be nice if he had an excuse to be around. He smiled at him and leaned in to press a kiss to his cheek. “Thank you, though.”

---

“I know you will be.” The mage was smart and resourceful, for what he'd seen of him and his clinic. He smiled at the kiss and squeezed his hand in return. “But I still want to help if I'm needed.”

---

“I’ll let you know.” He knew he wouldn’t need it or if he did, he would get it from someone else. It was nice that he wanted to help him, though. He looked back at the horse and gave her another stroke with the hand holding her lead. “Why don’t you tell me what you’d name her?”

---

“Hmmm...I hadn’t really thought about it since she’s yours.” He looked over to the horse, glad to see that she was still behaving herself. “She has a pretty quiet disposition with people and the herd, so I might have named her something placid. Like Autumn or Whisper. Willow wanted to name her Splash because it looks like someone splashed paint all over her. But she’ll be happy to call her whatever you decide to name this pretty girl.”

---

“That’s a pretty good name.” Still, he was more partial to Patches, if he was going to name her based on her coat. “She sounds like my kind of horse.” It still hadn’t really settled in that she was his. Supposedly. He still wouldn’t be convinced until he was the one taking care of her. If that ever happened.

---

“You picked a good one.” With a little training and polishing, she’d be an excellent horse for a beginner. “I’ll have to bring you out to the ranch some time so you can see how she’s being kept. Besides, it’s hardly fair that I’ve seen your home but you haven’t seen mine.”

---

“You’re going to introduce me to the family?” He assumed he was if Milos was taking him to see where he lived. He was curious of that was part of the point. Or perhaps he was reading too much into it. Either way, it was rather generous of him to call the clinic his home.

---

“If you’re ready to meet them.” He didn’t want to pressure him if he didn’t want to do something like that yet. “There isn’t much family to meet. You’ve already met Willow, at least briefly. My sister is a tough farm girl, but she’s easy enough to get along with.”

---

He gave a shrug. “I don’t think it’s a big deal.” It wasn’t as if they were serious, so meeting them wasn’t really making a statement or anything. “Maybe I’ll take you to meet my friends.” He didn’t exactly have family to introduce him to, so all that left him with was the people he associated with.

---

“I’d like that. I’m sure you’ll see some of my friends at some point too. Mostly farmers, but a couple actually live and work in Kirkwall.” Not many since he’d been out of the jewelry business, but he still visited a few of them. He was glad that Anders had reacted so well to the idea of meeting the family. He knew the mage wanted to take things slow and he didn’t want to do anything that might make him withdraw.

---

“Who knows. Maybe we even have the same friend.” Highly unlikely, but not impossible. It was dark and he thought it would be nice to light their path, but he wasn’t sure how the horse would react. “Think some magic would spook her?” he asked, wanting to get confirmation before he tried.

---

“As long as it isn’t loud, I don’t think so.” A crack like the one Anders’ magic had made when he’d electrocuted the men attacking him would likely send the horse into a frenzy. But something minor probably wouldn’t bother the animal. “Just hold on tightly to that lead until we know for sure. I don’t have any treats to bribe her to come back if she bolts.” He said with a smile, hoping he wasn’t going to have to chase her down on foot.

---

He hesitated, but if would be a good test of what she’d tolerate from him. He drew his hand from Milos’ and held it in front of him, somewhat away from the horse. Flames lit up in his fingers and suddenly he could see everything around them. He kept his hand tight on the lead, waiting to see how she would react.

---

Milos watched closely, curious and a little anxious about the reaction. He’d never seen a horse around a mage, after all. When the flames appeared, the filly startled a little and he was prepared to help grab the lead if it looked like she was about to spook. But after the initial jolt, she fell back into step with Anders. “Good girl.” He praised in relief. With that matter resolved, he couldn’t help but indulge in his curiosity, leaning forward to get a closer look at the flames in the man’s fingers. “...What does that feel like for you?”

---

Anders was pleased and then, when he looked at Milos and saw his curiosity, endeared. “Which part?” If he just meant the fire itself, that was an easy answer. “It’s warm, but that’s about it. Only because I know how to control it - a novice can easily burn themselves if they are not careful when summoning fire.” It would be easy to burn his hands if he didn’t know how to prevent the flames from doing so.

---

“It looks like it should be burning you, but I could see you weren’t in any pain.” He was fascinated and he imagined that many young mages burned themselves by mistake. He moved a hand near Anders’ cautiously, getting close enough to feel the heat coming off of the flames.

---

“I’ve always thought Primal magic was the coolest.” Visually, definitely. It seemed a lot of mages preferred it and strived towards it. Even those without a natural inclination. He wasn’t the most inclined towards it, the exception of lightning. Lightning was as easy as breathing, but it had taken effort to get as good at fire as he was. Some mages handled all of the elements with grace, but of the ones he knew it was only a fair few.

---

“It is pretty cool. But your healing is even more impressive.” He smiled to him, withdrawing his hand. “But I might be biased. You’ve healed me from a knife wound and a likely concussion already.”

---

He chuckled. “Yes. Healing is tricky.” Not as visually impressive… most of the time. Sometimes it could be incredibly visually impressive, depending on the damage. It had never really been tricky for him though. He’d always been good at it. Like with lightning, but even more so. He knew healing was really where he excelled and that was probably why he’d met Compassion so young.

---

“It all looks tricky to me. But you’re the first mage I’ve known personally, so I’m easy to impress.” It was all new and exciting for him. “Willow’s mother used to talk about the things her sister could do with magic. I always wanted to see it for myself and being around you has given me that chance. I didn’t think I’d ever see magic up close unless Willow ended up inheriting it.”

---

Hopefully not, though he refrained from saying so. “If you think this is impressive, then I’ll have to show you a thing or two sometime.” He gave the fire a little more power, the flames growing in his hand, but harmless. If the horse weren’t with them, he might show him now, but then he’d really be risking her bolting.

---

“You will.” He was eager to see what he could really do. And it would be an excuse to see him again. “I want to see what you can really do some day. ...Or some night - I think your magic is even prettier by moonlight.” It made the glow of his healing and his primal magic that much more intense.

---

He chuckled. He really did find him endearing like this. It was sweet to have someone so innocently fascinated in what he could do. To not be scared of him even when he strayed from healing magic. “Maybe we can have a picnic.”

---

“That would be nice. I can put together a pretty good picnic spread.” It wasn't as impressive of a talent as magic, by any means. But he could make the most out of whatever he could grow in his garden. “I'll provide the food, you supply the entertainment.”

---

“Sounds like a date.” He started to slowly walk them in a circle, wanting to head back. He didn’t want to walk for too long, as nice as it was, and if they had enough time to get back then maybe he could… spend a little more time with him.

He smiled, liking the sound of that. It was a beautiful night, but he didn't mind when Anders turned them to start the journey back. He was sure the healer had a long day and he was just grateful that this evening with him had been so much better than the last. “Have you decided what to name your horse now that you've spent a little time with her?”

---

“I don’t know. I don’t think I know her well enough yet.” He looked back at her, considering her. “The only thing I’ve really come up with is ‘Patches’, but I don’t know if the reason keep thinking of it is because I haven’t thought of anything else or if I really like it.”

“That's fine. I'll just keep calling her ‘girl’ until you find something you really like. She's just a filly and horses live a long time so you don't want to settle on something you don't love.” He looked to the horse, pleased to see her still walking obediently though she seemed to be distracted and looking around as much as the lead will allow. “You'll get to know her better if we have treats for her next time. She's learning about the domestication benefits of all the good food available to her now.”

---

“She seems really happy,” he agreed, stroking her neck and smiling to her. He really liked her. He didn’t know her well, but she was sweet and she was pretty. “Food’s a pretty good reason to be happy.”

“It is. Food is the way to her heart, for sure. You'll be her best friend in no time if you've got treats for her.” He watched as the horse seemed to focus a little better with the petting, staying closer to his side and keeping her eyes on the road ahead of her.

---

“Food is the way to most hearts.” He continued to stroke her for a time and then when they got closer to the stable, he let the flame in his hand go out. He didn’t want anyone to see him doing magic, after all. He took Milos’ hand again and just before they got inside, he spoke up. “Do you have to go right away?” There was an invitation somewhere in there.

---

He probably should, they both had to be up early in the morning. But he couldn’t bring himself to say so. He smiled and shook his head. “No, I can stay a while.” He wanted to spend more time with him and if he could squeeze a little more time out of this encounter, all the better.

---

He smiled and continued in with him, letting the stable boy take the horse. He bid her goodbye with a pat and then walked back out with him. He didn’t know how long Milos could stay, but hopefully he could stay long enough for Noah to return. “Back to Darktown.” They could enjoy the rest of their walk through the town and when they were alone inside the clinic, they could enjoy the rest of their time together.

Chapter Text

As much as he would have liked to return to Anders that night, things in the Gallows had taken a bad turn. It had taken the rest of the night and most of the following day for things to settle. When he could get away, he was relieved to head to the clinic and see his favored mage.

He was aching both inside and out. As limited as his healing was in this form, he’d mended the worst of his wounds and they didn’t trouble him as much as the loss and heartache he’d endured since the mission had gone awry. His clothing was torn and stained and it would be important that he got a new outfit quickly so he wouldn’t frighten any mortals he allowed to see him. But it could wait until the next day. What he needed now was Anders.

It was good to see that the lantern was out and but he still didn’t reveal himself right away when he stepped into the clinic. He needed to make sure Anders wasn’t with Milos again. It would be good for the mage if his lover was visiting, but he was selfishly relieved that he was alone. He appeared to Anders then, looking weary but pleased to see him. “Anders…”

---

He’d had a busy day. Finally Hawke had some work for him and he’d spent the entire day out with the promise of more work in a few days. It was late when he returned and he shut himself in the clinic, eager to get some food in him. Food, as it so happened, consisted of some broth, a couple of carrots, and a roll. He’d had a rather large lunch with the team, so he wasn’t that hungry and  he only took enough to keep his stomach from complaining.

He was halfway through his meal when the spirit appeared. For a beat, he looked happy to see him, then his expression changed. He caught himself just before he said the wrong name, climbing to his feet. “Noah, what happened?” He moved to him and started inspecting him.

--

Perhaps he should have tried to get new clothes before seeing Anders, but he hadn’t thought of alarming him. He was used to the mage dealing well with his deathly appearance. “Things did not go well last night. Please, sit down and finish your meal. I want to hear about your time with Milos.”

---

Eating and talking about Milos were the furthest things from his mind at the moment. Seeing him in this state made him anxious, not used to spirits being hurt. “What happened? Is something wrong?” It couldn’t be anything too bad, if he was wanting to talk about something of little importance.

---

“Yes, but it is done and over with for now.” He put his hands on the healer’s shoulders, wanting his influence to wash over him and calm him. “I want to take care of you tonight. I didn’t intend to alarm you with my appearance.”

---

He took a deep breath. He could feel what he was doing and part of him wanted to resist it, concerned as he was. “You have to tell us, though,” he reasoned. He wasn’t the only one that wanted to know what happened. Justice was agitated that something had apparently gone wrong.

---

“We were ambushed trying to get a family out of the city. It should have been safe, I made sure we wouldn't be spotted by the patrols. But we were spotted by an off-duty templar and he alerted the others.” From there, it had been a disaster. “No one from the Underground was captured, but there were injuries. They are mended now. The family was captured and they're in the Circle now. I had to kill one of the templars and I had to spend most of today manipulating the moods in the Circle to make sure the family would not be punished for what I did. I didn't want to kill him. He was not one of the bad ones - he was pressured into his occupation by his family and he was just a frightened young man.” The more he spoke, the more he seemed upset. He was composed, but it was clear that he was struggling with the mortal emotions threatening to overwhelm him.

---

“Noah…” He pulled him in and wrapped his arms around him. It was upsetting to hear it, but this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. Sometimes they couldn’t get people out and sometimes people were hurt. Usually he didn’t feel bad if a templar was hurt, but Noah understood the templars in a way that he never would. He had more sympathy for them than Anders ever could.

Justice was also upset to hear it, feeling like they could have helped.They could have done something different if they had been there.

---

He embraced Anders in return. It was odd to be comforted and he was quick to start stroking his back, wanting to comfort him instead. It was a much more natural role for him. “It should have been simple. No one was supposed to get hurt.”

---

“I’m sorry,” he murmured to him. They probably should’ve been there… It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Noah, but it’d been a while since he’d gotten involved in the Underground directly. He needed to try to find time for it. Maybe some night they could switch. He could help the Underground with a mission and Noah could watch the clinic. Or maybe they could just shut the clinic down and go together occasionally. “It’s okay. We’ll get the family out of the Circle.”

---

“We had enough help. I don't think you being there would have made a difference so please don't feel responsible. But maybe we could go on a mission together sometime. I would like that.” He kissed his cheek. “We can get the family out together.”

---

“Come on, you’re a mess. Let’s get you cleaned up.” They could talk about this more later, if he was up to it. He walked him over to the basin, wanting to get him washed up and into a new set of clothing. He had some donated clothing he kept on hand for anyone who needed it. It was actually what he’d borrowed his clothing from when he’d gone out riding with Milos on their date.

---

“I came here to take care of you tonight.” He protested, but he followed him along to the basin. He knew he was a mess. He began to strip out of his bloodied clothes, having some cuts and bruises leftover that he couldn't be bothered to heal once he'd mended his bigger wounds and the wounds of the mages.

---

“You’re the one that needs taking care of. Not me.” When they were at the basin, he was quick to replace the water in it with some clean water, warming it and dipping a rag into it. He looked at him and frowned. With the wounds, he looked really bad, but that much he could fix. He began cleaning him up and healing the wounds that were left.

---

It was difficult for him to accept. But it did feel really nice to be washed and healed, even if it didn't seem right. He closed his eyes and relaxed, letting Anders scrub the dried blood from his skin. “I still want to hear about your night with Milos. You looked happy.”

---

“There isn’t much to say. We went on a walk, that’s all.” That wasn’t exactly all and for a brief moment, his mind went to all of the ways they’d indulged in each other, but knowing that Noah could hear all of that, he tried to push it aside. It was hard not to feel sheepish, even if he shouldn’t.

---

He smiled as he got the more complete picture from his thoughts. “It sounds like a really nice night. Did your horse behave for you? She's young and a little unsure, but gentle.”

---

“Yes, she was a good girl.” She’d walked well with him, even when he’d lit the way with fire. It had been a nice night and they had many more planned, though he didn’t know when any of it would happen. After a few beats, he went on. “Now I will worry whenever you don’t show up.” This was obviously the reason he hadn’t shown up last night, so he was going to wonder what was wrong whenever he didn’t stop in.

---          

“You don't need to. Some nights I will have to work late and I don't want you to fret over me.” He would still come here as often as he could though. “I'm just glad Milos occupied much of the night so you did not have to be lonely.”

---

“It’s too late.” He was going to fret, but he would try to keep in mind that it wouldn’t always be like this. That if he didn’t  come, it didn’t necessarily mean anything. “Don’t worry about me being lonely.” If he had to spend a night alone, that was alright. Hell, if he had to spend a few nights alone, that was alright. He was use to it. He wouldn’t like it, but he was use to it and it wasn’t something he wanted Noah worrying about.

He wanted him to come because he wanted to come.

---          

“I do not want you to be lonely. But I also come because I want to. I don't usually do things to make myself feel good...but after last night, I knew that seeing you would make me feel better.” Spending time with this man made him happy and he felt he needed that tonight. “Taking care of you comforts me.”

---

He gave him a smile, somewhat somber all things considered, but it was genuine. When he’d healed all of him, he stroked his side, feeling the extreme dip from the bones of his ribs to his hips. “You’re looking better.” He got up, gave his arm a squeeze, then moved to grab him some fresh clothing. When he returned with it, he offered it him. “It’s not much, but it’ll work for now.”

---

“Thank you.” It would save him the trouble of finding new clothing in the morning. He dressed himself and when he finished, he took Anders by the hand to lead him back to his desk. “Please, finish your supper. I interrupted your meal.”

---

He followed after him, sitting back down at the desk. “You should eat too…” If he was going to start trying to put on some weight and fill out. If that would even work. Anders picked up his bowl of broth and rewarmed it, before continuing to sip at it. He was already thinking about when he’d have time to try and get the family out of the Circle. Undoubtedly the Underground was already planning it, but he wanted to be involved this time.

---

“There is not enough to spare for me. You need it more.” But to appease him, he did tear a bit off of the roll Anders had and popped it into his mouth. Some mortal food really was tasty and bread was rather nice. “We need things to quiet down in the Circle, so the Underground will wait a little while to move. I assured the family that we have not forgotten them and they will be kept safe while they are on the inside.”

---

He nodded. It would be difficult to get them all out at once. That was generally why they only got mages out one at a time and even that was tricky. He sighed, took a bite of carrot, eating absently. “I will make my intent to be more involved again known at the next meeting.” Noah had kind of taken his place, but he didn’t want to sit back as much as he had been, even though it had been good for him to not take so much onto his plate.

---

“I can watch the clinic on days you wish to do things for the Underground. But we should go together on some of the night missions.” During the hours that the clinic was usually closed anyway. He pulled up a stool to the desk and took a seat, folding his arms on his desk and resting his chin on them. It took a lot to make this body weary, but he was looking forward to laying down. In the meantime, he was content to watch Anders serenely.

---

“We’ll figure it out.” It didn’t take long for him to finish what he had, since what he had wasn’t a lot. When he was done, he got up and cleaned up his dishes and then went back to where Noah was sitting. “Want to lay down?” He looked tired, though he knew he didn’t sleep.

---

“Yes.” He had been looking forward to it. To laying with him and to touching him. To maybe even losing himself in him. He rose to his feet and took Anders by the hand once more, guiding him toward his cot. When he reached it, he began to work at the fastenings of his robes, wanting him undressed before they laid down. “These new robes are very nice.”

---

“They are.” He’d basically been wearing them not stop. It had given him time to give his old robes a thorough washing and airing out so that way when he swapped back to them, they would be much cleaner than usual. He let him undressed him, not doing much to help, except shaking off the fabric when it was loose enough.

He sat on the edge of the cot, watching him. ‘Guess I should’ve waited to give you the clothes, huh?”

---

“I wanted to wear them while you finished eating anyway.” He stripped out of his clothing and moved to straddle Anders’ lap, careful about settling his weight on him though his body didn't have much weight at all. He reached up to untie Anders’ hair, running his fingers through it and shaking the locks loose after being bound all day.

---

He was surprised that he straddled him. Just because he’d never straddled him while he was sitting like this. He slid his arms around him and leaned in to press a soft kiss to his lips. The fingers in his hair felt very nice, his scalp always a little sore after wearing it up. It felt good for it to fall and even better for it to be manipulated.

---

He worked his fingers through his hair for awhile, then let them slide down the back of his neck, his fingertips warm with magic. They moved forward when he gave him a kiss in return, cupping his cheeks, then down the front of his neck and across his shoulders. He wanted to touch him everywhere, to caress and soothe him so thoroughly.

---

He hadn’t touched him like this since the first night. Not so… intimately. It made him feel much as it had then and he sank into him, his own hands stroking, though he wasn’t as intentional in his touch. He was too busy taking in the hands on his skin to be anything more than absent.

---

This was just what he wanted. To pamper and relax his mage. He closed his eyes and kissed him again, his hands working their way down his arms. He went so far as to lace their fingers, then rub each of his fingers individually, making sure he touched everything from even the webbing between his fingers, to each fingertip. He was feeling so much better already, soaking in Anders’ positive feelings and letting them drown all of the sorrow he’d taken in from mages and templars alike the night before.

---

He let him do as he wished with his arms and hands, holding still for him. He really liked the attention and though he knew that the spirit needed attention too, he felt so comfortable. His eyes shut and he continued to kiss him softly, feeling so warm while he took such care of him.

---

Noah worked back up his arms, then down the front of his chest, brushing his thumbs over each nipple briefly before working down to his stomach. He explored the area thoroughly, then worked back up his sides. It was working wonders to relax him and he breathed a pleased sigh into his sweet kisses with Anders. This was just what he needed.

---

“Noah,” he murmured, his breathing deepening the longer he touched him. Since his hands were free, he began to touch him again in return, kissing him intently. Still soft, but very intent. He slid a hand up to his shoulders, clutching at them from behind and pressing into him.

---

He worked his hands toward his back and though he knew his sensitivity about it, he was every bit as thorough. His fingers gingerly traced every line of muscle, every ridge of bone, every groove of scar. He knew everything about where they came from and how much pain they had caused Anders but he would not shy away from them. He kissed Anders a little more deliberately during this, wanting to help keep him relaxed even while he touched these sensitive places.

---

He tightened his arms around him. He could feel that he was tracing his scars. The few times anyone had tried that, he’d stopped them in their tracks, but when it was him… it didn’t feel so bad. Even when he was focused on them, it felt okay. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, softening even further.

---

WHen he’d touched all there was to touch, he moved on. He touched his hips and his ass, kneading the muscle there before he worked his hands around to the front of him. He cupped and squeezed him, glad to be on to touching parts that Anders preferred to have caressed after getting through his back.

---

He made a sound, his hips pressing up in response. He kissed him with even more intently, though there was something different to it this time. His cock was interested in the attention and he was already half-hard from the touches elsewhere. He wondered if Noah wanted him like he had the last time they’d done this.

---

“I want you. But I want to do this first.” He murmured against his lips. He gave his cock and balls more attention than he'd given anything else, but he eventually moved on. He eased himself down to kneel on the floor in front of him, giving himself room to stroke his thighs.

---

His breath caught, assuming he knew what he was going to do. It was something he’d wanted to try, after all. He forgot entirely that he was in the middle of touching all of him. It didn’t occur to him that he might simply be getting in a position so that he could make sure he touched his entire body.

---

He massaged his thighs thoroughly, his knees, then down to his calves. He felt his feet needed more detailed attention, as he had with his hands so he worked on them one at a time. He pulled one into his lap, exploring with his fingers from his ankle all the way down to each individual toe.

---

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had someone massage his feet, but it was so nice. A pleasant surprise. That was, until his finger hit a spoke that tickled him and he squirmed away from him. He smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, I’m a little ticklish.” He still liked it, but now that he’d been tickled, he knew it would be that much harder not to be tickled again.

---

“It's alright. I will skip that spot on the other side.” He moved that foot back to the floor, moving the other to his lap instead. He started over, but tried to avoid the place he'd tickled on the other foot.

---

As expected, while he was expecting it, he had a hard time not being more ticklish, but eventually Noah worked it long enough that the tension faded. He sighed. “Thank you.” He wanted to tell him how much he appreciated the attention. His feet were a bit sore after running around all day, as was the rest of his body, and his hands helped more than he could say.

---

“You're welcome.” When he finished, he set the other foot back down on the floor. He leaned forward then and began pressing kisses to Anders’ cock. He did still want to try this and he was in a great position for it.

---

Again, his breathing hitched, this time not expecting it. At least, not then. He watched him and reached to him with a hand, stroking his fingers through his hair. He wasn’t sure how inexperienced he’d be with this. If what he knew from Cole’s memories would help or if hearing what he was thinking would tell him what to do and what not to do.

---

“Cole did not do this often so it may not be the best you've had.” He warned before running his tongue along the length of him. He rather liked the way the grooves and veins felt beneath his tongue and he was quick to start trying different sorts of licks in different places.

---

He didn’t care if it was or wasn’t the best. “That’s okay.” He was just happy that he wanted to try. He didn’t have to do this. They had other ways to enjoy themselves, so it was nice that he wanted to do this. The licks were good and he knew he didn’t have to make any indication of which ones felt best. He would know. Still, the hand stroking his hair subconsciously became a little more needy with certain strokes of his tongue.

---

He was learning as he went, using Anders’ thoughts and reactions to determine what to do. He wasn't in a hurry to take him into his mouth. For now, he was enjoying experimenting with his tongue and tasting him thoroughly.

---

After a while, he couldn’t help but squirm as he had when tickled. It was good, but he needed more. He was getting too worked up and he needed relief. He whimpered and the hand in his hair pushed slightly, silently showing him what he needed.

---

“Sorry. I was having fun.” He looked up to him with a little smile. He wrapped his lips around the head of him and immediately wondered how he was supposed to get all of it into his mouth. For starters, he went back to licking since he was more familiar with that but eventually he gave him an experimental suck.

---

That was a little better and when he sucked, he approved. Just like that. Sucking and licking at the same time, preferably. He could stroke him too, to make it even better. He wasn’t trying to be demanding, but he couldn’t help but think about what would feel good and what he wished he would do.

---

He wanted to please him and so he tried to do it all. He started to work his tongue over him while he was sucking him and found that it was easier to do both at the same time than he would have expected. Wanting to give him all that he wanted, he took the base of him in hand and began to stroke. It was a little awkward at first, but he found that if he bobbed his head in rhythm with the movement of his hand, it felt more natural. From what remembered of Anders doing this for him, bobbing was the next natural progression anyway.

---

Much, much better. He moaned under his breath, pulling his hand back so he could grip the edge of the cot. He watched him for a time and then his eyes shut. In the back of his mind, he pictured Milos. He’d sucked him like this the previous night, though not all the way to. Only long enough to get him riled and ready.

---

Milos? Interesting that he would be thinking of Milos. He wasn’t sure what to make of that, but it didn’t slow him down. He grew more confident in what he was doing as he got the hang of it, starting to suck suck him harder and take him a little deeper.

---

The better he got at it, the stronger the image of Milos became. He was such a stunning man. Maybe not as stunning as some of the people he ran with, but as an everyday kind of man, he was definitely something. He remembered meeting his eyes and the heat he’d seen in them. His eyes opened, as if encouraged by the thought, and he saw Noah. His thoughts focused. The man he was dating disappeared and there was only the spirit on his knees for him.

---

He followed the disruption of his thoughts when he laid eyes on him and he wondered if it would be a problem for him. If his pleasure would fade when he remembered that it was something more like a walking corpse than the man he found attractive sucking him. He looked up to him curiously but didn’t slow in his work, wanting to give him the best pleasure he could even if his fantasy was ruined.

---

He realized himself and he flushed a little, but put no more significance into it than that. Trying to push it out of his mind completely, pretending his thoughts hadn’t wandered. That was the one nice thing about having a mortal lover - his thoughts could wander wherever and it didn’t matter. It still felt good and he reached for his hair again, giving it a stroke.

---

It seemed he wasn't all that bothered that it was him sucking him and not Milos. He liked the fingers in his hair and he made a soft sound around his cock, slowly taking him in deeper. He didn't know what it would feel or taste like when Anders came and he would have liked to talk to him and ask questions, but unfortunately his mouth was busy and he would have to wait and find out on his own.

---

“That feels good,” he assured him, wanting him to know that he was doing a good job, even if he didn’t have to. He wasn’t sure if he was planning on bringing him to like this, but he supposed he would stop if he wasn’t. For now, he was happy to take what he could get from him.

---

He appreciated that he would tell him so, even if he didn't need to say it aloud. He was taking him deeply enough that he was running out of room to stroke him and so he moved his hand to massage his thigh instead. This was not quite as intimate as simply stroking him had felt when they could cuddle and kiss, but this was enjoyable in its own way - using his mouth to give him more complex pleasure.

---

He groaned under his breath, his hand sliding from his hair to his shoulder. He squeezed it. As much sex as he’d been having lately, it took awhile for it to get to him, but eventually it did and he couldn’t keep himself completely still. He was squirming and his hips were shifting and he could feel it just as it was about it hit. He came with another groan, much louder, deeper, and full of satisfaction.

---

He was prepared enough for him to spill, but he still missed a bit of it and it trickled down his chin. He got most of it though, swallowing it down. It tasted surprisingly pleasant for a bodily fluid. When he was finished, he pulled off and looked up at him with a smile.

---

When the last waves of his climax faded, he looked down and met his gaze. “Thank you,” he murmured to him, seeing the cum that had spilt on his chin and using his thumb to wipe it off. He tugged him up, wanting him to climb back into his lap so he could be close to him again.

---

“You are welcome.” He followed his tug, climbing up to straddle his lap. “I wish I could make myself look like Milos when I do that. I think it would have been better for you.”

---

He flushed again, the color much brighter. “Don’t worry about that,” he assured him, feeling guilty that he was aware he’d thought of someone else. “People think about all kinds of things when they’re being pleasured.” Sometimes they thought about someone else or even something else. He hadn’t meant to, but there was no denying that he was attracted to Milos in a way that he was not attracted to Noah.

---

“Really? I wonder why.” There were so many sensations already, why would their minds wander? He was fascinated. He kissed his lips briefly, then pulled back to look at him again.

---

“Sorry,” he continued, sheepish as could be. “Sometimes I wish you didn’t hear everything I think.” Then again, that was part of the reason he was so fond of him. Noah understood him because he could hear everything. “I don’t do what what I do with you because of attraction, so it doesn’t matter.”

---

“You don't need to be sorry. I also wish I could not hear everything also.” It could get very loud and distracting, especially around a lot of people. “I hope I can change my appearance. I think it will make this better for you.”

---

“Really, it’s okay. It was good.” He didn’t want him to feel like he had to change for him. “I like everything you do.” Especially when he tended to his entire body. He appealed to him in a way that no one ever had before. It was based entirely on the way Noah made him feel.

---

“I'm glad.” He wanted to do what made Anders feel good. He began to stroke his fingers through his hair, much as he had when he first began pampering him. “Is there anything else I can do to take care of you tonight?”

---

He wouldn’t mind just laying with him. They hadn’t had sex again, but after yesterday, the need wasn’t as strong. Especially following a satisfying release. He liked it when he held him closely and tenderly and just touched him. He felt a little embarrassed saying this out loud, so he just let his thoughts do the talking.

---

Noah climbed out of his lap, moving to the cot and pulling Anders down to lay with him. He wrapped him up in his arms and tangled their legs, pressing kisses to his jaw when they were settled. He was tired and it was so good to lay down.

---

He settled right into him, sliding his arms around him and shutting his eyes. Justice was being patient, but he did want to plan more with the Underground. He’d talk to him in the morning about stopping by to see Derric themselves. It had been a while since the last meeting and their only contact had been though Noah, so it would be good to catch up themselves.


Anders wasn’t thinking about it himself, happy and content as could be.

---

He felt so much better, Anders’ happiness soaking into him and warming him thoroughly. He was a bit hard from servicing him, but he wasn't worried about it. Perhaps in the morning they could do more. For now, resting with him was enough.

Chapter Text

The idea of meeting Anders’ friends was both exciting and unnerving. It seemed that they were adventurers too and Milos couldn’t help but feel that he would be painfully dull in comparison. But he knew he didn’t have to impress them, he just had to make sure that they didn’t hate him. Things were going so well and he didn’t want to do anything that would make Anders second guess what they had.

Not that what they had was all that serious yet. They had agreed to take things slow and that was fine with him. They were both busy men with responsibilities and so that helped with keeping things from moving too quickly. Milos cherished the few evenings he could spend with him, including the picnic they’d enjoyed together where Anders had showcased his magic. It had been beautiful and he’d gotten even more of a demonstration once their clothes had come off. Spending time with the man got his heart racing, usually in more ways than one, and he was more assured every time they met up that they were good for each other. Maybe if this went well with his friends, he could try to move their relationship forward a little. He wasn’t in any big rush, but he felt like the time might be right to at least approach him about the next step. Assuming he didn’t completely blow it with his friends, anyway.

He held Anders’ hand on the way up the stairs of the tavern, growing a little more nervous the closer they got to the private room. “Anything I should know before we go in?” He asked, deciding he’d best ask before he said anything that might offend someone in their company.

---

Anders was a little nervous himself. His friends could be a bit much and he didn’t want any of them scaring Milos off. He doubted they would, who knew what would happen. Hopefully they would behave themselves. It felt strange… bringing someone around to ‘meet the family’ so to speak. He couldn’t help but feel sheepish about the whole ordeal, but it would be nice to spend some time with him around others.

When they reached the closed door to Varric’s room, he turned to look at him. “...Just try to have fun. They can be a little rowdy… and watch out for Isabela. She cheats.” He’d told him that they’d be playing cards and to bring a little coin. He’d brought a little coin himself, just to join in so they could both have a little fun with the others.

---

“Good thing I didn’t bring much coin for her to steal then.” He smiled and squeezed his hand. He was glad they were playing cards and having a couple drinks. It would be a good way to break the ice and he wasn’t bad at the game they’d be playing. He waited for Anders to lead the way, able to hear the others through the door when they broke out in laughter.

Isabela was perched on Hawke’s lap, scooping in the coin she’d won from the last hand. “I’m on fire tonight. Too bad we’re not playing strip Wicked Grace. It would be especially fun with Anders’ new arm candy here, we’d all really get to know him…”

---

Hawke smirked and reached past her to pluck up one of her coins. “Whatever, you know you’d start losing on purpose just for an excuse to take off your clothes.” He wouldn’t mind that. He flicked the coin into her pile and slid his arm around her side as he leaned in for his mug so he could take another deep drink of his ale.

The door opened and both Hawke and Varric looked up at the door. Varric was particularly pleased to see him. He was curious about this ‘friend’ of his and he hadn’t seen the mage outside of missions in well over a month. It might even be pushing two months at this point. “Blondie! Come on in, we’ve saved you a couple of seats.” He gestured to one side of the table where two chairs were sitting empty.

Anders looked as sheepish as he felt as he stepped inside and tugged Milos forward to stand beside him. “Hey everyone… This is Milos.” He looked over at the man and then back to them. “Milos, that’s Varric.” He gestured to the dwarf. “Hawke and Isabela.” He gestured to the pair sitting together. “Merrill, Aveline, and Fenris.” He went down the line, until everyone had been introduced.

---

It was a bit of a shock to see them - not one of them looked like an average person he would see on the streets. Some were even in armor. Milos gave them a wave with his free hand, hoping he didn’t look as out of place as he felt. “Hi, everyone. I’m glad to finally meet all of you.”

Fenris was a little relieved at the sight of him. No staff, no robes. He probably wasn’t a mage. Isabela grinned at the pair of them. “You heard the dwarf. Take a seat, boys.”

---

Anders walked him over to the chairs and made an example of sitting down. “So, Milos, do you drink?” Varric asked, looking him over. Hopefully, but he wouldn’t past the mage to find someone as straight-laced as he was.

Aveline was a little curious, having assumed the same as Fenris. That he would be a mage. He didn’t look like a mage, though that didn’t necessarily mean anything. He didn’t look like much of anything, truth be told, though he was a good looking man. She could appreciate that much.


She waited until he answered Varric’s question to ask one of her own. “What is it you do, Milos?” Anders hadn’t told them much of anything and at the time, she hadn’t really cared, but with him there in person, she was a little more interested.

---

“A little, I wouldn’t mind an ale.” He said once he was settled in his seat. A drink might help to ease his nerves a little. He felt all of their eyes on him, but especially Isabela’s as she studied him. He looked to Aveline, relieved for an easy enough question to answer right off the bat. “I have a horse ranch. I break wild horses, breed them, train them for different types of work, sell them. I used to be a jeweler, I’m starting to take it back up as a hobby.” He gave Anders a little smile. He had him to thank for that.

---

“An ale and a tea, coming right up.” Varric would go get the drinks for them and another round for everyone else at the table. He started to get up, but when Milos began to talk about himself, he paused, wanting to know what he had to say. His brows lifted. “A jeweler? Well then, I like him already.” He liked anyone who could appreciate fine jewelry and he really liked anyone who could make it. He sounded interesting enough. He hopped from his seat and started downstairs.

Hawke smirked. “How’d you meet our sweet Anders?” He knew Varric would probably want to hear all about it, nosy as he was, but he was sure he’d ask them himself at some point through the night.

Anders rolled his eyes. “Let’s not.” He didn’t want to be ribbed and he didn’t want Milos to have to suffer through questions. “Why don’t we just play cards? We brought some coin.” He produced his own pouch and poured it out in front of him. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to last through a few rounds, as long as he didn’t try anything drastic.

---

Milos wouldn’t have minded answering, but he smiled when Anders tried to move things along. He produced his coin as well, not much but a fair amount to start with.

“How are we supposed to get to know your new beau if we can’t ask him questions?” Isabela smirked. She also liked jewelers.

---

“She is right, you know. Besides, we can’t play until Varric comes back, so let us ask our questions. We haven’t had someone new in years.” No one in their group had time for relationships and it was almost a little bizarre that Anders, of all of them, was the first one to get one.

“He came to the clinic to be healed and the next day he came back to ask me out.” Short and sweet and to the point.

---

“He made a great first impression.” Milos gave Anders a fond look, a little sheepish. “I’m just glad I worked up the nerve to go back and ask him out.”

“...Are you a mage?” Fenris asked bluntly after a beat, deciding he best ask outright since his appearance didn’t suggest he was, but he knew he likely would be if he was with the healer.

 

“...No, I’m not.” The question was a little jarring and he looked to the elf with a little bewilderment.

“Good.” That was all Fenris cared to know. He wasn’t particularly interested in their blossoming relationship.

---

Hawke rolled his eyes to himself. “Don’t mind him. Why don’t you tell us more about the impression he made on you?” He couldn’t help wanting to give Anders a bit of a hard time and he could tell the healer was flustered. It was funny.

Varric returned then, carrying a handful of drinks and followed by a wench who was carrying the rest of the drinks. They were all plopped on the table and the wench made her way out, shutting the door behind her. “What’d I miss?” he asked as he dropped back into his seat and began to shuffle the cards.

---

“Thank you.” Milos was glad that the drinks arrived so he didn’t have to answer that question. He took a sip of his drink and looked to Varric. “We were just talking about how I met Anders in his clinic when I needed healing and I went back the next day to ask him out.”

“And we were about to talk about what happened after that. I want to hear how long it took Anders to show him a good time.” Isabela smiled and it only grew more wicked when Milos flushed.

---

Anders was similarly flushed. Not only from the question, but from the answer. He’d fucked him within an hour of knowing him. It wasn’t really all that scandalous, but he hadn’t done anything like that in a long time and even if he had, he wouldn’t want to talk about it with them.

“Unfortunately for Isabela, she’ll have to make up her own mind on that end.” He pulled in his tea and sipped at it. “Why don’t I tell you a little about everyone, Milos?” To get the topic off of them.

---

“You’re so mean to me.” Isabela pouted and slid out of Hawke’s lap, moving to perch herself on Anders’ lap instead. “If you’re going to talk about us, why don’t you start with me, Handsome?”

Milos was stunned when Isabela dropped into the healer’s lap. He was so bemused that he couldn’t help but smile. He’d never seen a woman quite like her and it was a bit of a relief that the other two women at the table seemed a little more reserved. “Sure. Why don’t we start with her?”

---

Anders didn’t mind her climbing into his lap most of the time, but this time he was rather aware of Milos. If he hadn’t smiled, he probably would’ve pushed her off of him. Since he didn’t seem upset by it, he decided to let her have her time in his lap. He didn’t doubt that before the night was through, she’d end up in Milos’ lap as well.

“Alright. This is Isabela.” In case he’d already forgotten the names. Likely, considering how many there were. “She’s a pirate, if you couldn’t tell. She doesn’t do much pirating these days, but she used to be a captain with her own ship and crew and everything.” She had been when he met her. “She’s pretty good with a pair of knives, but her real talent is luring people back to her room to uh, plunder their treasure.” A polite way of saying she was a whore, though he carried… few judgements about that. They weren’t really his judgements, but Justice felt strongly enough that it was hard not to seep into his own emotions.

---

Milos could see why she might be good at that. “A pirate? Wow...I can’t say I’ve ever met a pirate before.” He wouldn’t have thought that there were many lady captains either. It seemed like something out of a story book more than anything he’d encountered in real life. “I’m impressed.”

“Likewise.” Isabela rather shamelessly wandered him with her eyes and when he flushed again, she chuckled and draped an arm around Anders’ shoulders. “I like him, Handsome. He’s sweet.”

---

Anders smiled. He was sweet. He slid his arm around her side, much like Hawke had, simply because it was more comfortable to hold her then to not. He gestured to Varric, who was watching the exchange with an amused expression as he shuffled the cards beyond what was necessary. “Varric,” he repeated. “He’s from a noble family in Orzammar that came to the surface.” More like they’d been banished, but he didn’t want to bring up anyone’s drama. He was just talking up his friends, finding Milos’ reactions as amusing as he was sure the rest of them were. “He’s a prominent member of the Merchant’s Guild and a popular author.” He nodded over to the dwarf’s shelf of books.

Varric chuckled. “Maybe I’ll have you write the ‘about the author’ segment in my next book, Blondie.”

---

“Wow…” Milos looked to the books. Maybe he’d read one of them and hadn’t even realized it. “I bet you’ve had a lot of interesting stories to write about.” He didn’t know much about the Merchant’s Guild, but he knew enough that it would make for great drama. He took a sip of his ale and as he feared, he felt incredibly boring compared to everyone else at the table after only hearing a little about two of them.

---

“A fair few,” he replied modestly, tossing the cards across the table as he dealt them out.

“Hawke is our leader.” Anders gestured to the rogue, who certainly looked the part. He was fully decked out in his armor, looking handsome and charming as always. “He’s from Ferelden like me. He and his family escaped the blight that happened there a few years ago.” More than a few years ago at this point, but sometimes it didn’t feel like it had been so long ago. “He came to Kirkwall and ever since then, he’s been making a name for himself. Someday, he’s going to to run this city.” He gave Hawke a little smirk and the rogue lifted his mug.

“Here’s to that.”

Anders was quicker with the rest of them. “Merrill’s a Daelish blood mage from the clan outside Kirkwall. She use to be the Keeper’s First, but... now she’s with us. Aveline’s the Captain of the Guard, so she’s the one you’ll want to talk to about all of the bandits running around Kirkwall.” He was given a stern look at that. “Fenris is an ex-slave from Tevinter. He’s hates all mages, myself included, and has a neat trick where he turns his hand incorporeal and he rips out the hearts of anyone he doesn’t like.” It almost sounded like a compliment.

---

“You definitely hang out with an interesting crowd. I look forward to getting to know all of you better.” Except maybe for the elf who hated Anders and liked ripping hearts out. “But as impressive as all of you are, I have yet to see if any of you are any good at Wicked Grace.”

“That sounds like a challenge.” Isabela purred and reached to sweep her fingers through Milos’ hair, delighted by how flustered he seemed by the simple touch.

---

“Leave him alone, Isabela.” He didn’t mind, but he could see how overwhelmed Milos was. He was thoroughly amused and the chastising didn’t sound all that meant. “Go find another lap to sit on.” He gave her a little push as he pulled in his cards to look at them.

Varric smirked. “If you’ve only ever played with Blondie, I don’t blame you for being skeptical.” He watched as Hawke started in with the betting and threw in his own coin as it came to him.

“We’ve never played cards actually-”

“Yeah, no wonder.”

Anders shot him a look. “We have better things to do in our time together.”

“Better than cards? Surely not,” the dwarf teased.

---

“You’re not that possessive of him already, are you, Handsome?” She teased but got out of his lap when prompted. She plucked up her cards and grabbed her abandoned chair, making herself a new spot on Milos’ other side. Much closer to him than necessary.

“Neither of us have a lot of free time. But I’m sure we would have gotten around to playing cards eventually.” Milos said a little sheepishly, trying to focus on his cards as he looked over his hand and tossed in his coin.

---

“Not possessive, but I do understand personal boundaries far better than you do.” With her moved, he honed in on Milos’ conversation with Varric. Anders doubted it, but that’s why they had this. He added his own coins in. His hand wasn’t bad, but he wouldn’t really know until they turned over cards. When everyone that was in was in, Varric turned over said cards and Anders was somewhat pleased that his hand still wasn’t bad.

“Good luck winning against those two,” Hawke chimed in. Sometimes Fenris won. Sometimes he won. Hell, sometimes even Aveline won, but more often than not, the ones filling their coin purses at the end of the night were Isabela or Varric.

---

“We’ll have to see if luck is in my favor tonight.” Milos had a pretty good hand and when it was time to bet again, he spent a few moments deliberating to try to seem unsure of his hand before tossing more coin in.

“It’s alright if it’s not. You’re a jeweler. You can make me something pretty if you run out of coin.” Isabela chuckled and tossed in more money as well.

---

Anders joined in again, but when the next card was flipped, he bit his lip. His hand wasn’t so good anymore and he folded out of the round. Which was fine by him. He pulled up his tea and sipped at it. Justice was being much quieter than usual and when he asked him why, the spirit didn’t really answer. He just told him to have his fun, which was odd, but appreciated. He could see that he was trying and he felt happy and in turn, Justice felt better.

---

To his delight, Milos won the round. They might all be impressive fighters, but an ordinary man could still beat them in cards once in awhile. He pulled in his winnings, eager for the next round to start.

“Beginner’s luck.” Isabela huffed and moved from her seat, easing into Milos’ lap instead. It would be fun to fluster him, hopefully enough so that she’d win her coin back. She smirked to Anders, then leaned in to whisper in the newcomer’s ear.

Milos was indeed flustered when the woman helped herself to his lap but when she started to whisper to him, he was intrigued. He flushed, but smiled glancing to Anders. She wasn’t wrong. Anders was one of the most stunning men he’d ever seen and he couldn’t blame her for being a little jealous that he’d caught the mage’s eye.

---

Anders grinned when Milos won, pleased to see him do well. Maybe if he kept it up, he could clean them out. He’d like that. It’d put them in their places for once and he’d have a lot of money to take home for his family. Then, of course, Isabela behaved exactly as predicted and he watched skeptically as she began to whisper to him.

Milos was a big boy and if was uncomfortable, he was sure he would say so, so he wasn’t really worried about it. He was curious what she was saying, though, and when Milos looked at him, his curiosity grew. He cocked his head a little - he’d ask him on the way home.

There were other conversations around the table. Milos had lost a little bit of his novelty and Hawke and Varric were currently chatting, after having congratulated him, with Aveline adding input as the dwarf set up the next round of the game.

---

He whispered into Isabela’s ear in return, a little stunned by the way Isabela stroked her fingers down the front of his chest while she listened to him, her touch so confident and intimate. She really was something. It was a relief when the cards were dealt and he had that to focus on again. His hand wasn’t great this time so he was quick to fold. He wasn’t about to let the others win their coin back that easily.

---

“Hey, Isabela, I think Fenris is looking a bit lonely.” It was a suggestion. Go sit in his lap instead. Then he could scoot his chair closer to Milos’ and hold his hand under the table. Again, his hand was pretty good to start, so he joined in the round with everyone but Merrill, who at this point seemed to be looked to be on her last leg.

---

“But I’m just getting your new boy broken in.” She complained playfully, a smirk on her lips. She knew that Milos wasn’t hers to play with, but that was what made him fun. She rather liked his hair and she slid her fingers through it one more time before she did as she was asked and vacated his lap in favor of Fenris’. The elf huffed an annoyed sigh but slid an arm around her anyway once she settled.

---

He scooted in, as planned, and took his hand. He’d warned them that his friends were overwhelming and they were, but none so much as Isabela. With her taken care of, they could enjoy the rest of the game together and maybe if Milos was lucky, they could walk out with more coin than they’d come in with.

---

Milos looked so much more comfortable when it was Anders moving into his space instead of the pirate. He squeezed his hand, giving him a warm look. He was having fun, even if his second hand hadn’t been a winner. The ale made it easier to loosen up around all of these new people but he sipped it slowly, not daring to overdo it and make a fool of himself.

---

Without Justice bugging him the entire time, he did better than normal, but he was still wiped out after about a half-hour of playing. Since there was nothing for him to do, he leaned into Milos to watch him play. Not wanting to get too intimate, but wanting to enjoy the time he had with him.

---

Milos had lost a little of his coin, but after winning another good round, he was ahead again. He leaned into Anders as well and when it seemed the others weren’t paying them much mind, he rested his head on his shoulder. He didn’t want his lover to get bored since he was out so murmured into his ear. “Do you want to head to your place soon?”

---

“If you want to.” He wouldn’t mind staying for as long as the game went on, if Milos wanted to, but if he’d rather take his winnings and spend some time with him, then he wouldn’t mind that either.

---

“I’m having fun, but I’d like a little time alone with you…” They didn’t get to see each other all that often. If they could have a little time together before he had to head home for the night, he’d prefer that.

---

He nodded and then sat back. “It’s getting late.” It wasn’t. They hadn’t been there all that long, but it wasn’t unusual for him to be the first to leave for the night. “We’re going to head off.”

“Aw, so soon?” Varric was genuinely disappointed. “Well, Blondie, be sure to bring Goldie back next time.”

Anders snorted. Goldie? He bet Varric thought himself clever for that one.

“See you guys.” Everyone said their goodbyes and Anders pulled Milos by the hand and tugged him out.

“It was fun. I'll come back another night.” As long as Anders wanted him to, he would be happy to come back and play cards again. He squeezed his hand once they were outside, a smile on his lips. “Thanks for letting me meet your friends. They're definitely a fun crowd. They aren't bad at Wicked Grace either.”

---

“They’re good,” he agreed, “and it was nice to see you keeping up with them.”  He was pleased with his skill, or perhaps luck, with the game. “Sorry about Isabela… she loves to flirt with everyone. …What was it she said to you?” And what had he said back?

“She was...a lot to handle. I've never met a woman quite like her.” He flushed a little at the question, having nearly forgotten about that. “She asked me if I thought you were one of the most stunning men I'd ever seen. And she told me she was jealous that I'd caught your eye and held your attention for as long as I have.” He doubted she was made jealous often, he imagined she was a woman who generally got anything she wanted from anyone. “I told her I was well aware of how gorgeous you are and how lucky I am.”

---

His brows rose. “Jealous? No… Isabela doesn’t get jealous.” What was there to be jealous of? She’d already had him and, sure, she’d wanted to have him again and he hadn’t let her, but she wasn’t one to want to catch anyone’s eye. “She was just hoping to make you blush some more.” He squeezed his hand, pleased with what he had to say about it.

—-

“She succeeded.” Even if she was just giving him a hard time, he knew plenty of people would be jealous. Anders was quite a catch. He raised their joined hands to kiss the back of the mage's.

---

He chuckled. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, even if you blushed all night. I think you fit in pretty well with them.” Which was nice. “Better than I do, at least.”

“Oh, I doubt that. You're a powerful mage that's been on wild adventures. I'm a guy who raises horses. I think you fit in with that lot a little better than me.” He swung their hands a little, his mood high after the evening with his friends went so well. “...When we get back to the clinic, can we talk? It's nothing bad.” He added quickly to keep him from worrying. If anything, he hoped it would be a good thing for both of them.

---

He smiled, but didn’t linger on the subject. He didn’t want to get into all the reasons why he didn’t fit in with them. When Milos went on, Anders’ smile faded. The assurance was nice, but it wasn’t often he was ‘asked to talk’ and usually it was nothing good.

“Sure.” He pulled him a little closer and enjoyed the rest of the walk, trying not to think about it. When they arrived at the clinic, he let him in and then locked the door behind them. He turned to him and then moved to lean against a work table. “What did you want to talk about?”

Milos moved to lean into the table beside him, watching him with a smile. “I wanted to tell you that I've been having a really good time with you whenever we're together. The more I get to know you, the more I like you.”

---

He was warmed, but curious. He had a feeling he knew where this was going. “I feel the same.” He liked him a lot. He was really sweet and he enjoyed spending time with him.

“I'm glad.” He'd needed to know if Anders was on the same wavelength and it seemed he was. He met his gaze without wavering, his eyes warm. “I know it's best we take things slow, but I was wondering if you felt ready to take the next step with me. If you want to be my boyfriend officially.”

 

---

He was right and for a long moment, he just looked at him. He had to break the eye contact and he folded his arms over himself, almost protectively. “I like you a lot and I really like spending time with you, I just think that maybe you should reconsider whether you want that with me. I’ve already told you a lot about myself and there is more that you don’t know. My life is… Well, a lot could change very suddenly and I don’t want to drag you or your daughter into all of that.”

Even while they were just dating that remained true, but if they weren’t serious then it wasn’t as much of a danger for him. “You could do better than me with someone who leads a simpler life.”

His heart sank a little. He looked to him earnestly and shook his head. “I understand that. I know anything could happen and that you're never going to have a predictable lifestyle. But my life hasn't had any adventure and I like you enough that I'd like you to be my first adventure. Come what may.”

---

He kept his eyes away from him, thinking. “I don’t know that you fully understand. I also spend a lot of time working with an underground resistance in Kirkwall, freeing mages that get caught up in the Circle. It’s not impossible that I would be caught myself and if they caught me, then I would be Tranquil within the day.”

Maybe not that quickly, but it wouldn’t take long. Not with his history and the way he defied them day in and day out.

He didn't know he did things like that and he needed a moment to take that in. “...You're even more admirable than I knew.” He sighed. “Listen, Anders. I realize that a lot could happen to you. But I could get bucked by a wild horse tomorrow and break my neck. It's just as likely, maybe even more so, than that templars could catch you. But the ‘what if’s’ shouldn't stop us from being happy.”

---

He glanced up at him, but he couldn’t look at him long. He inhaled, but as he prepared to answer, he realized there was one other thing he ought to tell him.

“There is… one other thing.”

Another thing? “Let's hear it then.” He doubted it could change his mind, but he needed to know if there was something else. Another of Anders’ many secrets.

---

He looked a lot more sheepish, color tinting his cheeks. “Well, I told you about Justice, but there’s another spirit that I spend time with. A spirit of Compassion that, uh, basically created a body of his own and exists in our world without a mage.”

His eyes widened. Were spirits all over and he just didn't know about it. “So...he's basically like a person? He's not in you or just here and invisible somewhere?”

---

“Sort of. He’s kind of like both. He’s not fully a spirit or fully a person. He didn’t mean to come into our world, but something happened when he tried to help a mage who was dying and he… merged with him without actually merging with him.”

It was hard to explain. “I don’t know how he did it and neither does he, but we’re hoping he can help Justice create a body for himself as well.”

That was all very confusing, but he nodded as he tried to follow along. “I see. Well, if he's ever around when I visit, I'll be happy to meet him.” It would be like meeting Anders’ friends, he imagined.

---

He hesitated. “It’s just that… I spend a lot of time with him and I’ve grown rather close to him.” He was realizing that he was probably going to have to choose between a relationship with Milos and intimacy with Noah.

He could feel what Justice wanted. He wanted him to choose Milos, as he was a mortal and if he was going to have a close relationship with anyone, it needed to be a mortal like him.

“I don't think that's a bad thing. You seem like the kind of person a spirit of Compassion would want to be close to.” Not that he knew much about spirits, but it was logical to him.

---

He was, but this was rather different. “Yes, well, it’s just... It isn’t what it sounds like, but we are physically close.” It what is what it sounded like, just not in the way Milos might think.

“How? Does he...possess you sometimes? Or is it...more of an intimate thing?” He had no idea what it meant to be physically close to a spirit.

---

“No, he doesn’t possess me.” That wouldn’t be possible without destroying Justice and neither of them were interested in it, even if Justice wasn’t an obstacle. “It’s intimate,” he agreed, the color darkening. “We lay together a lot and sometimes we… well, sometimes we have sex.” He looked up at him, almost afraid to see his reaction and he couldn’t help but quickly go on. “It’s not what it sounds like, though.”

---

His initial reaction was to be angry and he had to look away from him as he processed it. He had been having sex with a spirit with a physical body, but it wasn't what it sounded like. He wasn't sure what to make of that and the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he likely had no idea what it really meant to have sex with a spirit. Besides, what right did he have to be mad? They had never agreed to be exclusive. “...What is it then, if it's not what it sounds like?” He asked when he met his gaze again, looking curious.

---

It was easier when Milos wasn’t looking at him and when his eyes lifted, his own fell. “I don’t do it for the same reasons I would with anyone else. Anyone mortal. I am not attracted to him. At all. If you saw him, you would understand. He appears as a walking corpse.” Not literally, he wasn’t what Justice had been, but he was pretty close.

He didn’t mind his appearance, but he absolutely was not attracted to it. “I don’t do it because I need release, either.” It wasn’t as if he was just roused and needed relief. “Before you, I’d not had sex in two years and before that, four years. I can control myself.”

He didn’t know how to explain, but he knew he to try. “You have to understand, before he came to me, I’d been alone for so, so long. I have my friends but… for most of them I use the word loosely. I had no one but Justice and our joining had not been… good for us. I corrupted him and he- he made me as I am. He was why I worked as much as I did and why I had no time for anything else, even to take care of myself. He was why I was alone.”

It was hard to talk about. “Noah has helped me, has healed us, in ways that no one else could. He cares for me in a way I have never been cared for and if it wasn’t for him… I wouldn’t have gone after you. He was there that night and he told me what I needed to hear to go after you. He has turned my entire life around and he means so much to me and I mean so much to him.”

He could felt it from him and he was getting emotional as he talked about it. “When he comforts me… sometimes we just need to be as close as we can be. It’s entirely emotional. It’s a connection we need.” A connection he wasn’t sure he was willing to give up.

---

He was right, it definitely wasn't what it sounded like. He tried to wrap his mind around it and he couldn't… probably because it wasn't like having sex with another person. This was a spirit and he could tell by the way Anders spoke that this wasn't anything carnal for him, but something deeply important. “...That sounds...beautiful.” Not Noah himself, by the description, but what he was able to do for Anders. “Can I meet him sometime?”

---          

He looked up at him, surprised. Whatever he was expecting, it wasn’t that. “If you like… He might come tonight.” He didn’t know when. It might not be until it was late, long after Milos was gone, but then again, he might be by any moment. “I am not the only one he helps, so sometimes he can not come to me, but he helps me more than he helps anyone else.”

---

“I'm glad he does. It sounds like he's been really good to you. And to me, since he convinced you to go after me that day.” He didn't realize that Noah had given him a nudge in the right direction that day also.

---

He studied him, trying get a read on him. “You’re not angry at me?” He’d looked angry at first, but after explaining it to him, he seemed accepting. He would be expecting him to demand that he stop what he was doing, if not stay away from him entirely. Perhaps he simply hadn’t gotten to that part.

---

“No. I was when you first told me, but...it's a lot different than I thought.” He had a lot to process and he wasn't entirely sure how to feel about all of it. He felt like he was maybe still a bit jealous, but not like he would be if it was another person and not a spirit.

---

“It is.” He just hadn’t expected him to be so understanding of it. Maybe it would be best if Noah came tonight and they were able to meet and talk. Maybe then they could decide whether they wanted to move forward or not.

---

Milos nodded, both his heart and his mind heavy after hearing all of that. “...Is there anything else you want to tell me?” Anything else that he needed to know? He wasn’t sure how much more he could take in right now, but if there was something else, maybe it was best that he just hear it.

---

“No, there’s nothing else.” There was plenty he didn’t know about him, but nothing he felt he needed to tell him. “I understand if it’s too much.” He wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to deal with all of this.

---

“It’s not too much. It’s a lot, but not too much.” He leaned in to kiss his cheek. He was glad that Anders had at least told him all of it now, or at least it seemed he had.

---

Anders met his gaze. “Is there anything you want to tell me?” He was trying to lighten the mood a little, but it was a weak effort. His arms were still folded over himself and he didn’t look entirely comfortable.

---

“Yeah…I snore.” He smiled solemnly, but genuinely. He appreciated the effort to lighten the mood. He could use it after all of that. Of all the ways he’d imagined this conversation going when he’d planned to ask Anders to make things official between them, this was the furthest from what he expected.

---

“Oh, well then. Get out.” This too was said lightly. “I don’t know how long you want to stay, but we could sit together for a while, if you want.” Just enjoy each other’s company until he had to go.

---

“Yeah, that sounds nice.” He could just sit with him and try to clear his head a little. He offered his hand to him, wondering if he was ready to release his crossed arms. To relax.

---

He looked at his hand and after a brief hesitation, he took it. That felt better. He wove their fingers together and, after leaning in to give him a kiss on the cheek. He walked him towards the nook, figuring they might as well settle in his cot together.

---

It felt much better for him as well. He followed him along and when they reached the nook, he paused. Near the cot there was a small but plush pillow where a small kitten was curled up. Anders’ favorite of the litter, of course. Beside it was a basket filled with the supplies Noah had gathered - plenty of dried meat, a bottle of milk, feathers and strings for toys. Milos tipped his head a little, surprised by the sight. “When did you get a cat?”

---

Anders’ eyes widened and he stared. His eyes began to well and he was too busy hurrying over to the kitten and sinking down to the floor beside it to answer him. “Oh, oh.” He reached for it and pulled it up into his arms. “Sweet baby.” He pulled it up to his cheek and cradled it there.

---

Milos first interpreted his reaction to mean that something was wrong with the kitten that he hadn’t noticed at a glance and he was fussing over it out of worry. But after studying him a moment, he smiled. “...I take it you just got a cat.”

---

“I wasn’t supposed to, but…” Noah. He couldn’t help his tearing up and his hands were even shaking slightly. “Look at him…” He couldn’t see himself, since he was holding him against his face, but he was so warm and so soft.

---

He moved in closer and crouched beside him, stroking his back when he saw he was shaking. “He’s very cute.” Even cuter when the sleepy little kitten mewed at them.

---

“I love him.” Though he’d held back from getting a cat or a kitten, now that one had been plopped down on him, all of the emotions he’d been holding back were flooding out of him.

---

“Of course you do.” It was hard not to love something that cute. “Why don’t we have him sit with us on the cot?” They could all get comfortable together.

---

He nodded and climbed to his feet clumsily, unwilling to let go of the kitten long enough to brace himself against anything to stand. As soon as he straightened, he sat down on the edge of the cot and tucked the him into the crook of his arm. “Sweet, sweet baby boy.” He stroked his fingers down his back. “Look at everything Noah left for you.” He looked down at the basket with a smile, then back to the kitten.

---

“I had a feeling this might be Noah’s doing.” From what he’d heard about him, he seemed the most likely out of Anders’ ‘friends’ to surprise him with a kitten. He sat down beside him and reached to scratch the kitten’s ears. “Now you have a horse and a kitten to name.”

---

“I think it’ll be pretty easy to name him.” He scratched his cheek with a finger. “I just have to figure out what he’s like.” He smiled down at him, entirely enthralled by the kitten. He hadn’t been this enthusiastic about anything in a long time. Even about the cats outside the clinic. It was different when it was his cat to take care of.

---

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something.” He leaned into him a little, still wanting to just relax with him and enjoy his company. At least the kitten seemed to have lightened the mood more than their weak jokes. “He’s a sweet little boy.”

---

“He is,” he cooed to him. It was nice that he was sleepy so he was content with just laying in his arms. “It’ll be interesting trying to take care of him here, but I don’t think it’ll be too bad.” He’d just have to make sure he didn’t get into anything he wasn’t supposed to.

---

“No, I think he’ll do just fine here.” Hopefully he wouldn’t get underfoot when Anders was trying to work, anyway. He smiled, happy to think about the kitten for a little while instead of all that Anders had told him.

It wasn’t long before Noah arrived, but when he did, he could sense that Milos was there. He’d expected to arrive and feel Anders’ delight over the kitten, but there were two people fawning over the little baby. He hadn’t thought Milos would come in with him after their date. As such, he made himself only visible to Anders as he stepped into the nook, thrilled to see him cradling the kitten. “He looks right at home in your arms.”

---

Anders eyes rose when Noah stepped in. He looked at him with as as much emotion as he’d looked at the cat. It didn’t occur to him that he was the only one that would see him. It didn’t even occur to him that Milos was with him. “Noah…” He was at a loss of what to say, but the emotions he was feeling were radiating from him. He wanted to go to him and kiss him and hug him and hold him.

---

“You don’t have to speak aloud. I can hear you.” Noah reminded him gently, a warm smile on his lips. “As soon as Milos goes home, you can do all of those things. I’ll linger nearby so I’ll be re-”

“Is he here?” Milos had followed Anders’ eyes when he said the name, but he saw nothing at the entrance of the nook. “Noah?”

Noah froze. He’d been talking so he hadn’t heard what Milos was thinking. He was looking right at him but his eyes didn’t seem to quite focus on him. Could the mortal see him? He shouldn’t be able to. He looked down at his own body, as if that was helpful, wondering if something had gone awry with him magic and the mortal could sense him somehow.

---

He realized what he’d done and he looked between them. He could see how startled Noah was and he decided to speak up, “He is.” I told him about you, Anders told him silently. The conversation they’d had went through his mind. He wasn’t actively attempting to get him up to speed, it was just hard not to think about it when it was what had happened just before all of this.

---

Noah looked between them, trying to decide what to do. He knew Milos was jealous, but curious. He wasn’t sensing anger from him, which was a surprise but it seemed that Anders had explained to him that their relationship was different from mortal lust.

“Can he hear me? ...Do you think he’ll come out so I can see him?” Milos looked to Anders, then back toward the entrance to the nook. It was so strange knowing someone was there watching them and it made him break out in gooseflesh as he tried to figure out just where he was. When Noah finally chose to materialize in front of him, he startled and shifted back on the cot a little.

---

To Anders, it looked no different. If it hadn’t been for Milos’ reaction, he wouldn’t have known he’d done anything. He shifted in the cot, turning a little to face the spirit. “Milos, this is Noah. Noah… you know Milos.” He knew everyone he came into contact with, but it still felt appropriate to introduce them.

---

“He does?” Milos asked, then looked to Noah instead. “You do?” His mind was racing.

“I do know you.” Noah moved to stand in front of both of them and tried to keep up with what Milos was thinking. He knew the other wanted to see him better so he removed his hat, peering down at him through the blonde locks hanging in his eyes. “...It’s alright, you can.” He answered an unspoken thought, leaning down and reaching for Milos’ hand to put it on his sunken cheek.

Milos startled, both at being touched by the spirit and also by him seeming to know that he’d wanted to touch him to see if he was really there in a physical sense. “A-Anders…”

---

“It’s alright. He won’t hurt you. He’s gentle.” He was gentle with everyone, but especially him. He looked between them, a little anxious about how Milos was going to handle this.

That assurance made him feel better and he was unaware that Noah's magic was also starting to put him at ease. “He's...cold.” Not frigid, but not as warm as a person should be.

“I'm alright.” He never minded the chill of his body, but it did make him appreciate the way Anders tended to warm him even more. The spirit moved from Milos then to sit on Anders’ other side, reaching to stroke the kitten he cradled.

---

He nodded. “He’d not fully a person. His body isn’t like ours.” The degree to which it was like theirs was still a curiosity to him. Whether or not food would actually help him. He looked over at Noah when he sat down and he gave him a little smile.

“I told you I didn’t want a kitten.” Obviously he’d ignored that and given him what he actually wanted deep down. He leaned into him lightly, still wanting to be close with him, but waiting until Milos left to really express himself.

“Your mouth said one thing, your heart said another.” Noah returned his lean and smiled. “I will bring you anything he needs so you don't have to worry about not being able to take care of him.”

Milos watched them in fascination, leaning into Anders a little as well. “Do spirits always know what we want?”

---

“Thank you.” He touched Noah’s arm briefly.

“Yes and no. Spirits and demons occupying a mage cannot hear our thoughts, but in the Fade they can.” He assumed that since Noah was somewhere in between, that was why he could hear everyone’s thoughts.

Milos nodded, then fell silent. He needed a little time to let that sink in. To let all of this sink in.

Noah nuzzled Anders’ cheek lightly, so happy the kitten had brought him joy. “He was a little unsure that he wanted to live inside, even if it was his mother's wish. But once I gave him his own pillow and a saucer of milk, he decided that being an indoor cat is pretty wonderful.”

---

The affection warmed him, but he was still a little wary of Milos’ reaction. He grinned. “I’ll make sure he’s very happy.” He pulled him up to his face and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “Tell him I love him.”

“He loves you, little one.” Noah cooed to the kitten and after a beat, he went on. “He's something like your new mother. He will keep you warm and safe and fed like your mother did.”

Milos chuckled nervously, unable to stop himself. This spirit could talk to animals too, it seemed.

---

He grinned harder. He’d always wished animals could understand him and the other way around. With Noah, he had a way to actually communicate with him. It was incredible.

Anders presseda another kiss to the kitten’s head and then he looked at Milos. He could see how nervous he was and he gave him a sympathetic smile. “Are you okay?” He knew this was a lot.

He met Anders’ gaze and nodded, though he was still uneasy. “Yeah. I'm just...sitting with a spirit. Two spirits I guess.” Justice was there too, even if he couldn't see him.

“You have been near me before, you just didn't know. I met you when you came the first time. I was here because your Willow was frightened that you were hurt and she needed me. I knew you were attracted to Anders and I was glad you chose to pursue him.” Noah saw the way Milos flushed at his words and shook his head in response to his thoughts. “Your daughter knew I was there, but she does not remember me. I won't make you forget, you need to be aware of me since you still want to be with Anders.”

---

Anders felt a little shy hearing all this. Shy, but pleased. “So… you still want to be with me?” Even after this? He supposed he wouldn’t still be sitting there if he wasn’t at least considering it. Still, he was waiting for the coin to drop and for him to decide this was too much and leave.  

“Yeah...I'm still taking it all in. But I still really like you. I still want you to be mine.” He was happier than he'd been in a long time. He didn't want to lose him.

---

“You’re okay with everything I’ve said?” He wasn’t going to make demands about what he could and could not do? At least in regards to Noah?

“I think so.” He could see for himself that Noah was not a person. He was cold and he looked like a dead man, yet he had a soothing presence and he had a way of reading people's wants and needs. He could see how Anders would be so drawn to Noah, but that it was very different from the way he might be drawn to someone he'd be in a relationship with. Still, he hadn't really had a chance to sort out how he felt on the matter.

---

He studied him and then looked back at Noah. He hadn’t expected Milos to be so accepting and his heart was beating quickly with the possibility that he could have a real relationship. With someone who cared about him and understood him, even though he had so much going on in his life. So much that would be hard for anyone to handle.

He could have both the man and the spirit to make him happy… because, of course, Noah wouldn’t leave just because he found happiness with a mortal, right?

“I will not leave you.” Noah assured him and rose from the cot. He grabbed the saucer he'd used earlier and a handful of dried meat and brought both to Anders. “He would like these. I do not think he is truly hungry, I think he wants to test whether or not he can really have food whenever he likes.”

---

His eyes dropped to the kitten in his arms and he set him down in his lap, taking the saucer and the meat. He lowered it down in front of him, watching and waiting intently for him to start eating. “It’s all yours,” he murmured to him, giving his butt a light scratch.

---

The kitten looked up to Anders, then to Noah. Convinced that it was alright, he started to dig into the meat offered to him. Noah looked at the pair, cocking his head a little. “I could give you two a little more time alone and come back later if you like.”

“No, that’s okay. I have to go soon anyway.” Milos said softly, but he was still leaning into Anders lightly. It seemed he wasn’t in a big hurry to go anywhere.

---

“Good boy,” he cooed, continuing to stroke him while he ate. Anders looked up at Noah and bit his lip, not really wanting him to go, but understanding that he did probably need time alone with Milos. When Milos answered, however, it seemed he felt differently. He looked back down at the kitten and then gingerly moved him and the saucer to Noah’s lap so he could turn towards the man.

“I know there’s a lot to think about. Let’s not make a decision tonight. You can go home, sleep on it, and next time we see each other, you can tell me how you feel. How does that sound?”

---

“Yeah...we don’t have any reason to rush. We can talk about it in a few days when I come back.” He had so much information to process. He gave him a little smile. “You can tell me whether or not you can accept me for my snoring.” It was another weak attempt to lighten the mood, mostly for himself since the kitten had cheered Anders up already.

---

He took his hand and held it. “I have a lot to think about too.” He leaned in and gave his cheek a kiss. “I’ll walk you to the door.” He hadn’t intended on him leaving so soon, but after all of this, it seemed it was the right time to go. Especially since he’d already said he had to go soon.

---

He nodded and stood, keeping his hand in Anders’ as he started for the door. He didn’t really want to go, but he had too much on his mind to be good company. “It was nice to meet you, Noah.” He paused to say to the spirit left on the bed.

“I don’t think this is the last time we will meet. Perhaps next time will be easier for you.” He knew the mortal was troubled. Perhaps he’d visit him tomorrow, unseen, and make sure he was alright.

---

He tugged him out of the nook and to the door. There, he stopped him and leaned in for a soft kiss. “Thank you for coming tonight… and for everything.” He wanted to say it now, just in case. Just in case he decided against this. Against coming back entirely. It didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to him, even if Milos was still fond of him.

---

“Thank you for introducing me to your friends. Noah included.” Anders had a lot of intense people in his life and it was important that he get familiar with all of them. He moved a hand up to his cheek, giving him a soft, slow kiss in return. “I’ll be back before the week is out.”

---

He smiled. Hopefully. He gave him another kiss, just as soft as his first, then he stepped back. “You know where to find me.” He opened the door for him and held it, giving him room to walk past him and out.

---

“See you soon.” Milos smiled in return after the kiss and with that, he headed out for the night. The fresh air would be good for him to clear his head a little and though he was confident that he still wanted to be with Anders, he definitely felt like he needed a little space to think over everything he’d learned about him.

---

He watched him go and when he was out of sight, he shut and locked the door. He returned to the nook and stood there, looking at Noah with the kitten. “...Noah.” He moved to him and sat down beside him, wrapping his arms around him and burrowing into his side.

---

Noah wrapped his arms around him in return, cuddling him close while the kitten continued to feast on the dried meat. “He does want to come back.” He assured him gently.

---

He nodded. As long as he came back without demands. He’d already decided that he wasn’t going to give this up, even if Justice thought he ought to. “Will you lay down with me?” He wanted to cuddle with the kitten too, but right now even that was being pushed aside by his need for his comfort.

---

He nodded and broke away from Anders long enough to set the kitten and his dinner on the floor by his pillow. “He was not thinking of putting limitations on you. He was jealous, but he was mostly...overwhelmed.” He returned to him and wrapped him up in his arms as he eased them to lay down.

---

It was good to hear, but he didn’t inquire further. He would wait and let Milos tell him what he was feeling when the time came. If his feelings remained the same, then they could actually consider things. Until then, he didn’t want to dwell on it. He shut his eyes and held tight to him, thinking about what he’d told Milos. About why Noah was so important to him and the emotions he’d felt when confronted with them.

---

“I am sorry I left the kitten here for you tonight. I was not expecting you to have such an emotionally charged evening with Milos.” If he had known Anders would already have so many feelings to work through that evening, he would have chosen another night.

---

“It’s alright. It helped.” It had made him happy, where he had felt so uncertain. Noah always made him happy and, like for Milos, his heart beat quickly. There was such warmth in him and as he cuddled as close as he could to him, the welling emotion broke and there was love seeping in. Making him even warmer.

---

He could feel the growth and change in his emotions and it made his own heart start to quicken. He pulled back enough to look at him, his eyes searching. “Anders…”

---

Anders’ was surprised and he met his gaze, questioning. “What is it?” Just looking at him, the feeling grew. A feeling he hadn’t felt in so long, it was almost exhilarating, though he couldn’t quite recognize it for what it was. All he knew was that his emotions were running high and all he wanted was to be with the spirit.

---

His eyes stung as they welled with tears - a sensation not entirely foreign to him, but still unfamiliar. “Oh, Anders…” He leaned in and kissed him hard. It seemed everyone in the clinic this evening would be overwhelmed in emotion and the idea was amusing to him, but he was far too occupied with this moment to give it more than a moment’s thought.

---

His eyes widened and he pulled back from the kiss, a hand lifting to touch his cheek and hold him in place. “What is it? What’s wrong?” He hadn’t seen him like this and while he was worried about him, the emotions were pushed aside. Still there, but not as prominent.

---

A couple tears rolled down his cheeks, one coursing over the hand Anders had moved to touch him. His tears were cold, just like his body. “Nothing is wrong. I have felt love in so many people so many times. But it has never been for me. It has never been mine.”

---

Anders stared at him. It took a second for it to click, but when it did, he finally recognized the feeling in him. He hadn’t even registered it, not until he’d been told. He took in a slow breath and then focused on him. He hadn’t even had a chance to process it, but as he did just that, the warmth grew again. He nodded.

“I love you.” He was saying it for himself as much as he was for him.

---

“I love you too.” He had loved him for some time. Anders meant so much to him. He kissed him hard, needing the connection with him and an outlet for all he was feeling. Someone loved him and not just anyone, but his favorite mortal loved him.

---

Of course, the response only made him more emotional. He knew that Noah cared for him, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been loved. Maybe Karl, but even then, they hadn’t let themselves feel the full extent of their emotions. It was surreal, especially considering that it was a spirit he was finding himself so attached to. He’d been attached to him for a while. Attached enough that he had decided he wouldn’t give him up and yet… this was different from even that.

---

He closed his eyes, melting into the kiss with him. He was so happy and the tears just kept coming. He knew that some mortals cried when they were happy, though he’d always found that strange, but he would never have thought that it could happen to him. Perhaps as a spirit it never would have happened and it was what was left of Cole in him that brought these tears.

---

He could feel the wetness on his hand and he wiped at his cheek absently. He started to roll back, though there wasn’t much room, using his free hand to pull him over him. “Hold me,” he murmured against his lips, even though he was already doing a good job of it. He just didn’t want him to ease up or let go.

---

He settled over top of him, breaking the kiss to look down at him. “I will hold you until morning.” He wasn’t going anywhere and it would take a dire emergency to make him release Anders until it was time to go the next day. “It means a lot that you are not willing to give up what we have.” Even though Milos was a proper lover for him.

---

He didn’t know what to call what they had, but he wanted to hold onto it for as long as he could. “I meant what I told him.” He didn’t know if Noah knew every word, but he’d said it all in honesty, which he was sure he already knew, but it felt important to say it aloud.

Maybe it was selfish to need what Noah offered him so much, but he’d offered him a connection that no one else had and it was different and deeper than what he could get from others.

“I could not give you up either.” Not now. Anders loved him. Even before Anders loved him, it would have been incredibly difficult. He was so drawn to him and as much as the mortal needed him, perhaps he was starting to need Anders too. It was such a strange concept for him - he understood mortals having needs, but he wasn't used to having them himself.

---

His lips quirked. He was glad he felt that way and it made him feel even more certain that Noah cared for him in a way that no one living could. He kissed him, his fingers starting to tug at his clothing.

When he had to pull back to remove his tunic, Anders looked up at him. After a beat, he spoke up.

“Justice is upset,” he informed him, though to his credit, he was handling it better than he might have before.

Noah hesitated, a frown on his lips. “I am sorry. But he still should not feel threatened. You love him more.” Even if he preferred Noah at the moment.

---

“I love both of you.” In different ways, but Noah was right Justice meant a lot to him. Even with all of their issues. He was a part of him and the best part of himself, at that.

“I don’t want either of you to leave me.” It felt more likely that Justice would, though. Between them, Justice was more focused on his work and he knew that he would put his duty ahead of everything.

I will not leave you, either.

“He won't either, Anders. He loves you. He would stay close even if he had his own body.” He pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, then helped him to pull his tunic off.

---

He nodded. He thought everything would be okay. They just needed time for it to prove true. For both him and Justice, at least.

He slid his hands around him, already warm, tugging him down against him even though there was still too much fabric between them.

“I love you.” He felt the need to tell him again. He settled down against him when he was pulled in, pressing kisses to the mage's neck. He was glad Milos had chosen to leave early - he had so much of the night left to enjoy with Anders.

---

Hearing it made him warmer still. “I love you too.”  He shut his eyes and tipped his head back, giving him room to kiss wherever he wanted. His heart was beating so quickly it felt like his chest would burst.

He trailed his fingers to the small of his back and clutched at him there.

“My first love.” He whispered the words against his neck, so enamored with the idea of being loved by him. His kisses grew longer and slower and eventually he found a spot to suck on.

---

He made a sound, his toes curling. It was so nice. Maybe he was his first, but he doubted he would be his last, though it was hard to imagine anyone connecting with him the way he had. Just because it made so much sense for them to connect. He was a mage and a spirit healer… with a spirit of his own. Of course Noah would come to him and stay with him.

“You have a way of drawing spirits to you, it seems.” He had three of them now. He peppered his skin with more kisses finding a new spot by the base of his jaw to suck and mark him.

---

He smiled. “Probably my winning personality.” He chuckled and then sighed, his fingers sliding down to hook into his trousers and push at them.

“That must be it.” He felt him starting to work on his trousers and his fingers moved to the fastenings of his new robes. They were wonderfully simple to find. He wanted them both bare, needing to be close to him and soak in the warmth of his skin.

---

He helped him loosen his robes as soon as his trousers were too low for him to push any further. It took some wiggling to slip his arms out of the sleeves and to push them down, but he figured Noah could take care of his trousers while he took care of his robes. Then they could lay against each other again.

---

When they'd both wrestled their way out of their clothes, he settled over him once more. He made a soft, pleased sound  - he loved the feeling of Anders’ flesh against his own. He kissed his lips, soft and sweet, and savored the feelings and thoughts he could detect in the mage.

---

He hooked a leg around him and wound himself with him with every limb. He was enjoying the simple kisses and he continued with them, smiling they went on and on. His hand slid up to the back of his head and he held him close, not wanting him to put  any distance between their mouths… not unless it was to work it lower again.

---

Noah closed his eyes, letting the simple kisses naturally progress to something deeper and more hungry the more their bodies tangled together. He wanted him, but he was more focused on reading what Anders desired. He would keep things simple if that was all the mage wanted.

---

Anders followed along, finding that he met so perfectly with him. It was as if Noah anticipated him and perhaps it was exactly that. His lips parted, inviting him in. He arched up, wanting the pressure between their bodies. He wanted to feel as loved as he was. If Noah loved him so dearly, he wanted feel it from him.

---

That was a bit of a conundrum for him. How could he make him feel loved? He was new to this and he wasn't sure what to do to fulfill that want. So he simply followed his instincts and when Anders arched into him, he began to rock his hips against him.

---

As soon as he began to move, Anders followed. It seemed he was letting the spirit lead. He couldn’t not get close enough to him. It was as if he wanted their bodies to join as one. This, of course, was not something Justice wanted to hear, but before he could work himself up, Anders quickly quelled him.

Not like that.

---

Noah could put together by the trail of his thoughts how Justice must have interpreted that. If his fellow spirit was upset about it and the mage failed to assuage him, he was sure he would know about it very soon. He knew of only one way to join their bodies safely and he continued to rock his hips, beginning to harden as the friction built.

---

His own cock was thickening and he moaned softly, even that little friction heating him. He broke the kiss to look up at him, needing to look into his eyes. It was the part of him he liked best, after all, and there was something so intimate about that contact. It went beyond even the physical, though he needed both.

---

Though he didn’t know how to show his love, he didn’t realize how much his eyes conveyed in the adoring way he looked at him. He slid his hand down his side, needing to touch him and using magic to make up for the chill of his fingertips.

---

He shivered, meeting his eyes intently. It was so intense and his own flicked back and forth, so close that he could not gaze at both without completely losing focus. His hand lifted and he touched his cheek, just holding it carefully. His movements slowed a little, he was so focused on him.

---

“Anders…” He pulled back just a little, wanting to help him look into his eyes. It seemed that was what he needed right now and his own hips slowed. Maybe he didn’t have to rush getting inside of him, even if that was what his instincts dictated.

---

Anders hand stroked his cheek, refusing to stray from his eyes. Especially since he could see them properly now. “I love you,” he murmured again. He thought about everything he’d done for him and it was hard not to be emotional. Feeling this way wasn’t so daunting, though, not when he trusted him the way he did.

---

“I love you too. I would never break your heart.” He knew mortals could be fickle. But he could feel the trust in Anders and knew he understood that spirits were not so prone to changes of heart. He hadn’t realized that his tears had stopped at some point until a fresh one rolled down his cheek and over Anders’ hand.

---

His eyes finally strayed and went to the tear and the wet spot it left on his hand. “What’s wrong?” he asked, going completely still. He could tell this was causing a lot of emotion out of him as well, he just wasn’t really sure how he was handling it. If it felt differently because of what he was.

---

“Nothing is wrong. I am just so happy. I never thought I would have love and I’m glad the love that I have is your love.” He didn’t know how to handle this sort of rush of emotion. “I am used to dealing with the emotions of others, not my own.”

---

He softened. “Noah.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I want you.” Maybe it would be good for them to lose themselves a little. Then they could cool down and think about all of this after they wore themselves out with expressing themselves to each other.

---

Noah nodded and after stealing one more kiss from him, he pulled away enough to get the oil. He wanted him too. He began to slicken himself, eager to take him and experience having sex with him now that the man loved him. Would that make this making love? He paused a moment, genuinely curious.

---

He could see how eager he was, so he reached down and began to stroke himself so that he could help heat himself up. He was worked up from what they’d already done, but he wanted to get himself further along. He spread his legs for him, inviting him to take him whenever he was ready.

---

His curiosity got the better of him and he looked to Anders as he positioned himself. “Because you and I love each other, are we still having sex? Or is this making love now? I do not know the difference…” It seemed important and he asked this earnestly.

---

The question surprised him and he couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s still sex. Making love is… a mood. I feel like we’ve already made love.” With how tender he was with him? Yeah, they’d made love. Maybe it just never stayed that way through the entire act. “I suppose is different when you actually love someone, though.” More intense.

---

“We already made love?” That didn’t seem right to him, but he trusted Anders’ word on it. “You will have to show me the difference some time.” He wanted to make love to him tonight. It seemed like the right thing to do if they loved each other. He put a little pressure on his entrance to warn him before he gently pushed inside of him, breathing out a low moan when he was surrounded by the heat inside his body.

---

He chuckled. He felt like they’d done both, but he could show him the difference sometime. He watched him as he pressed in, the sensation reading in his eyes as he let out a soft breath. He slid his hand down to his hip, silently telling him what he needed to do without thinking about it. To go slow and sweet, to savor the connection as they so often did already.

---

Noah began to take him slowly, as amazed as he always was by how good it felt. He was so deeply connected to him and now, Anders loved him. He smiled softly as he looked down to him, unable to believe how lucky he was.

---

He slowed his stroking, matching his pace. His amusement faded and he was content, meeting his gaze. It was a lot to take in, but it felt so wonderful and he didn’t want it to end.  

“Is this making love?” He murmured, leaning down to give him a short, sweet kiss. He didn't let it linger, needing to pull back enough to meet his eyes once more.

---

“You tell me.” He wanted him to reach the conclusion on his own, though his thoughts spoiled any chance of that. It was. “Does it feel like it?” He continued to touch him with his free hand, stroking his skin.

“Yes. This is what making love feels like.” He gave him a warm smile. He groaned when he pressed in especially deep, his hand stroking slowly up his side and eventually sliding into his hair.

---

He met the slow rocking, the movement sensual. He agreed, it was sex he’d not had in so long. Maybe one day he could with Milos, but if not, he could be satisfied with this. This was enough for him.

He wanted to kiss him and he waited for him to respond to that desire.

Noah wanted to gaze into his eyes a little longer, but he did as the mage wanted. He leaned in to kiss him deeply, closing his eyes and moaning against his lips. This was so perfect and he didn't feel any need to rush the slow, deep thrusts of his hips.

---

His own hand moved to find Noah’s - the one not on his hair - and he pulled it in to his cheek. He broke the kiss long enough to turn and kiss it, then he resumed it, his tongue sliding into his mouth.

He welcomed his tongue into his mouth, working his own tongue against it and rubbing his thumb over the back of Anders’ hand. He was so warmed by him, loving the little affection he'd given his hand. Such a simple and clean gesture that made his heart flutter.

---

He hummed, enjoying the smooth feel of his tongue. For a time he lost himself in his mouth, his stroking stopping as he split his attention between that and their rocking. His heart was beating so hard and his entire body was flush with heat and arousal.

---

He was starting to need more as tension began to build in his body and he started to take him just a little faster. The pace was still relaxed and he wanted it to stay that way, but the small difference was enough to renew his moans and make his fingers tighten their grip on his hair.

---

It was much simpler for Noah to feel everything that he was feeling, but he could feel the affection in him in return. He broke the kiss, brushing their noses together and then tipping his head back, holding his breath as the sensation strengthened. He let it out slowly, his hand tightening on Noah’s.

---

“I love you…” It felt so important to keep telling him so. He tightened his grip on him as well and when his head tipped back he took full advantage. His lips found his neck and he began to suckle it hungrily.

---

Rather than respond with words, he moaned. Since they were no long kissing, he reached for his cock again, stroking it faster. He needed it and continued to moan, soft sounds that blended into his breaths. His toes curled again, this time tighter.

---

“Do you want me to do that for you?” He asked before finding a new spot to latch onto. Perhaps he would want to simply stroke himself, but he wanted to offer in case he could make this better for him.

---

He didn’t have to. Then he could focus on touching him. Right now, he liked that better. He could feel how much he was savoring his body. And the man inside his body. The best part of this was the consistency and the longer it went on, the more potent it felt. His thighs trembled and his hand was squeezing firmly with each stroke.

---

He was fine with that. He really liked holding his hand through this and the other hand eased its grip on his hair to sweep gingerly through his locks. He ran his tongue slowly up the side of his neck and pressed a kiss just beneath his ear, needing to give him a little affection before he returned to marking him.

---

When he came close to his ear, he yearned for him to suck on it. It wasn’t something he’d ever done, but he’d also never gotten that close to his ear. Anders wasn’t even entirely aware of the yearning, having plenty else to take in, especially as he felt himself throb as he gradually grew closer.

---

The desire was heard and he was eager to fulfill it. He released his neck to suck on his lobe instead. It stirred a memory of Cole's and knowing how sensitive the flesh was there, he flicked his tongue softly against it while he suckled.

---

“Noah,” he groaned, letting him suck until he couldn’t stand it. He turned his head suddenly and let go of his hand to pull him into a heated kiss, his hand starting to lose control. He was stroking himself urgently, needing the release that had crept up on him.

---

He could feel Anders’ urgency and it fed his own growing needs. He began to thrust into him faster and yet, he remained gentle. Not like some of the other times which required him to use his magic to keep Anders safe. He moaned into the kiss, entirely lost in the heat of his body.

---

The change helped and it wasn’t but a minute until he was cumming with a cry, his entire body tensing. The hand clutching at him dug, unintentionally, and his nails scraped the surface of his skin.

---

 

It didn't take much more to follow him over the edge. He groaned and tucked his face against Anders’ shoulder as he came, his hips erratic as he filled him with his release. He panted softly against his skin, his body stilling once he was entirely spent.

---

“Was that better?“ he asked when he could catch his breath. He was sure that Noah liked all of their sex and enjoyed it just as much, but he could tell that he’d wanted it to mean more this time. In someway it had, but for him the thing that was most pleasant about it was that it hadn’t changed much of anything, he’d always been this sweet to him.

“Yes. It was not the first time we made love, but it was the first time I knew we were making love.” He lifted his face from his shoulders to meet his eyes, his gaze soft and warm. It really hadn't been different, but it was still special to him.

---

He felt a little bit bashful, with it all said and done, but he gave him a small smile. He turned his head to try to look over the edge of the cot, but he couldn’t. “We should cuddle with him.”  

That sounded like a nice way to end the day. Maybe he ought to clean up before he tried to lay with the kitten, though. He didn’t want to make a mess of his fur by mistake.

“We should.” He kissed Anders before he climbed off of him and out of the bed. He grabbed the nearest cloth and used it to wipe himself off, then moved back to the cot and used a clean corner to wipe Anders off. “Your kitten is very full and ready to lay down and get cozy.”

---

“Thank you,” he murmured, pushing himself up and leaning over the edge of the bed to pluck up the kitten so he could lay back with him on his chest.

“I love you too, precious baby.” He looked down at him with a smile and stroked his back.

“He is very happy to be yours.” He said as he settled on his side next to Anders. Though the loud purring of the kitten likely gave that away. He leaned in to kiss the mage's cheek, then gave a kiss to the kitten as well.

---

“Already?” He wouldn’t have expected the kitten to warm up to him that fast. Or at least, not in that way. He didn’t know that cats even had a concept of ownership. Or maybe Noah was just extrapolating and explaining it to him in a way he could understand. He kept an arm tucked beneath his head so he could prop it up as he gave the kitten attention.

---

“He does not understand ownership. But he understands that you will protect and provide for him like his mother did.” Noah explained and stretched before settling against his side again. “He is not very used to being petted, but he likes it. He is used to competing with his siblings for attention, so this is nice for him.”

---

“Well, he can have all of my attention.” He looked over at Noah. “Except when you steal it away, I suppose.” He gave him a smile and then turned his attention back to what he was doing. His eyes shut and he gave the kitten affection by feel alone.

---

“Cats are fickle. He will be glad that you are distracted sometimes. But right now, he is happy to have your attention.” Noah smiled and closed his eyes as well. He was quite comfortable and he looked forward to listening to the mage’s breathing slow as he settled in for sleep.

---

Anders was amused that he was explaining to him the nature of cats. He already knew that well, but the one thing that Noah had over him was that he knew exactly why they were fickle. “I’m sure he’ll get up some time in the night.” He wouldn’t want to lay with them for that long. “Just tell him to stay inside and not to play with anything but his toys.”

---

“When you get down later, stay inside the shelter. Do not go outside, there are predators. Play only with your toys.” He paused a beat, then went on. “The things by your food. The feathers and the things that look like long worms.” With that taken care of, he addressed Anders again, though he spoke the same way he had to the cat so there seemed to be no difference in who he was speaking to. “He will be good. I put a box under the cot for him to do his business in, so he knows where to take care of that already.” He sounded amused, he’d heard mortals use that phrase before regarding their body’s waste and he found it a little funny.

---

“What a good boy.” His hand stroked absently for a time and then it fell still. His breathing slowed and, comfortable and happy as he was, he began to fall asleep with his final thoughts of being of Milos.

Noah listened to his breathing, relaxed in knowing that the mage was content and resting. He opened his eyes when the kitten hopped down from the bed in the night and got some entertainment through the quiet hours by watching him play with his toys. The cat made a bit of a mess, batting the feathers all over the floor, but eventually he tucked himself out. Noah welcomed him back up to the bed, bringing along his favorite feather, and let the kitten settle up near the top of the cot by their heads where it would rest until morning.

Chapter Text

His day in the Gallows had been fairly uneventful and so he’d had time some unorthodox magic. Of course, the mages he worked with were fascinated when he told them about his ambitions to change his body’s appearance since Cole may not have wanted to be copied and they were eager to help him research.

It was more difficult than he would have thought, especially since he wanted to stay far away from any magic like what the demons used as a glamour to fool mortals. Though part of his motive for this was to keep from frightening the mortals he meant to help, he would not deceive their senses the way demons did.

By the time he left the Circle for the day to seek out Anders, he’d made some progress. It was more subtle than he’d like, but it was enough to impress the mages that had been helping him. He still looked just like Cole, which was a disappointment to him. But he looked like a far healthier version of the young man than Noah had ever seen. He was still underweight, but no longer skeletal. He had filled out considerably, even if he was still too thin, and he thought Anders would likely notice even before he took off his clothes. His hair also looked much healthier - thick and shining rather than the dull, limp locks that usually hung around his face. The only change in him that was not like Cole had been in life was his ears, which were now pointed. They were something Noah had wanted to try, needing to test that he could actually change his appearance from Cole’s rather than simply restore it to the man’s look before he’d been starved. They were not true elven ears, but they were definitely pointed and that was enough to convince him that it could be done.

When he made his way into the clinic after dark, he was eager to show off his progress to Anders. However, he didn’t want to distract him if he still had a patient and so he wore his large hat when he stepped inside, which would obscure at least most of the change in him. “Anders…”

---

Anders did not have a patient, but he was currently sitting in his desk chair and playing with his kitten, now dubbed Lord Snowbeard. Snow for short. He had spent as much time with him as he could throughout the day and as it turned late in the evening, he found himself with more and more time. Between the treats and the toys, they were bonding well.

He glanced up when Noah stepped in and then right back down to Snow, letting the toy fall to the ground as he stooped to pick him up and then rose to his feet.

“Let’s go say hi to Noah,” he cooed to him, doting on the kitten and distracted as he walked over to him.

---          

“So your kitten has a name now…” He’d picked up on it from the mage’s mind and smiled as they approached him. He pressed a kiss to Anders’ cheek, then one to the top of the kittens head. “I am glad to see you both.”

---

“He does, do you like it?” He loved it. He knew it was silly, but he could never resist when it came to naming cats. Cats were silly and they deserved no less in their names. And actually, he thought Lord Snowbeard was rather majestic and he certainly looked like he had a magnificent beard with the way the white started at his chin and ran down the front of his chest.

He looked up when kissed and there he paused. It was hard to get a good look at him with his hat on, but while he leaned in to kiss them, he could see his face. His full cheeks and the improved color. He looked down at him, noticing how well he was filling out his clothing, at least compared to before.

“Noah…?”

---

“You noticed…” He knew he would, but perhaps not quite this quickly. He was so pleased and he was smiling when he pulled off his hat to give him a better look. “And yes, I do like his name. It is very regal.”

---

He stared at him. He looked… strange. He wasn’t use to seeing him like this and it was odd. Not bad, but different. His heart began to pick up. “You figured out how to change your appearance?” Justice would be able to choose whatever he wished? He wouldn’t have to look like him if they separated?

---

“Yes. It is easier than I thought it would be, but I do not have it mastered. The important thing is that it is possible, so I can change my appearance from Cole’s. I will teach Justice to do it so he can take whatever appearance he likes when he has his own body.” He hoped that would make both of them happy.

---

“Wow… you look really good.” Still like Cole, but no longer like he was dead. He reached up to touch his cheek, almost expecting it to be warm, but it wasn’t. It was a lot more jarring while when he actually looked like he ought to be warm. “How do you feel?”

---

“I am happy I can do this, but I want to change more. I do not want to look like Cole anymore. That is why I tried these…” He moved the hand on his cheek, guiding it to the points of his ears. “They are not perfect, but it’s more important that they are not Cole’s.”

---

He looked at his ear and his brows lifted slightly. “You’re planning on being an elf?” The thought amused him. He was impressed though… and curious about what he was doing. He wanted to know if it was something that any mage could do or if it was something only he could do as a spirit.

---

“I do not know what I want to be. I was just trying to do something different.” He smiled and shook his head. “No mage has done this successfully. It is considered theoretical magic that scholars have worked on for many years.”

---

He hummed, still curious. “You should try to teach me too.” Maybe when he taught Justice. He’d love to be able to change his appearance. Not that there was anything in particular he wanted to change… but something like that would be incredibly useful. As long as he could go back to his actual appearance with ease.

---

“I will try to teach you. Perhaps if Compassion helped you, you could do it. I do not think mortals can perform the magic on their own.” But even the Tevinter mages aided by demons had failed, from what he had read. “I would want you to be able to change back. I like the way you look. But I know why it would be helpful.”

---

He considered that. Following that train of thought, he frowned.  “...Do you know why Compassion has abandoned me?” He didn’t mean completely abandon, but he’d not seen hint of Compassion in a long time. She continued to aid him in his healing, so she knew she was there, but she’d not come to him in his dreams in a long time. She hadn’t offered him comfort in so long that sometimes he forgot about her completely.

---

“...No, I do not. I think perhaps she is lending her help to others as well and she can only aid you when you are healing. But I wish she would still comfort you in your sleep. At least on the nights that I can’t be here with you.” He might not have ever been drawn to Anders if Compassion had been comforting him.

---

After a moment, he shook his head. “No, plenty of people get by without help.” He had himself for a long time and lately he had received more than his fair share of help. It was a nice change, especially considering that he’d felt like he had no one. “I couldn’t ask for anymore.”

---

“Well, you do not need to ask for more. I’m not going anywhere.” He kissed his lips and put an arm around him, starting to guide him toward the cot so they could sit down together. “And Lord Snowbeard can keep you company when I have to stay somewhere else.”

---

He followed after him, keeping a secure hold on the kitten. When they reached the nook, he set him down onto his pillow and then sat down. “So… what are you thinking? I know you said you don’t know what you want to do, but surely you have some idea.” Whether he wanted to stick somewhat close to Cole or to do something completely different.

---

“It is difficult for me to decide. It makes little difference to me, but mortals respond better to beings they find attractive. It would be nice to no longer have to hide my face because I frighten them. But I understand little about what mortals find attractive.” He sat beside him, looking over Anders. He knew many people found the healer attractive. “What would you want me to look like? If you could dream of me looking like an ideal man, what comes to mind?”

---

His brows rose and then he shook his head. “I can’t choose your appearance for you. You should look how you want to look. What you find attractive.” If that meant what Cole found attractive, then so be it. He wouldn’t feel right trying to make him his ideal man. Besides, everyone had different tastes and what he might find attractive, someone else might not. If his goal was not to scare others, then he simply needed to look alive.

---

“I want you to help me. I want you to think of what attracts you.” Even if he wouldn’t say it, perhaps he would at least think it. “Asking me is like acting Justice what he finds attractive in a mortal. I do not think he understands it any more than I do.”

---

Of course, he had a mental image of him. What he thought he would look like if he hadn’t taken after anyone. A soft, delicate face. A thin body. Not unlike his current features, but he did picture them differently. They came together better. Maybe dark hair to make him different, or maybe the same. The eyes at least had to be the same. Whatever he chose, he would want him to keep that much. Maybe he ought to be an elf, he if was already working on the ears, it would be fitting, wouldn’t it? Elves didn’t really have strong features, except perhaps their distinct noses and eyes. They weren’t so masculine looking as any of the other races.

But then again, there were some feminine looking human men too.

“I don’t know, Noah. It feels… selfish to tell you what I would want.” People don't generally get to choose the appearance of those close to them. They either accepted what was there or they didn’t.

---

“It would be selfish if you were demanding I look a certain way to please you. But I am asking you what you would like. I know it does not matter to you if I am attractive or not, but I would like to be attractive to you.” He kissed his cheek, very grateful that Anders had been willing to be intimate with him even when he had still looked like a corpse.

---

“It doesn’t feel right,” he repeated. He took his hand, looking it over. He couldn’t get over the changes in him. “I am not picky. I’m sure I will be attracted to whatever you choose.” The only reason he wasn’t attracted to him now was of the way he’d looked before. Now, he was… a little more attractive. The truth of it was he didn’t find Cole attractive, even in this healthier state. He cringed a little at the acknowledgement of it, not wanting to offend him and knowing he was attached to the mage that he had been unable to save.

---

“It's alright. You have no control of that.” He couldn't make himself attracted to Cole. But he still thought it would be nice to have Anders find him attractive. He just wanted to be easy on the mage's eyes, but if he could tailor himself to his preferences, that would be even better.

---

Even so, he gave him an apologetic look. “I’m truly not picky,”  he repeated, leaning in to kiss his lips. He didn’t feel like he needed to be attracted to him… but he supposed it would be nice. He shook the thought. “Surprise me. You might be pleasantly surprised by my reaction.” Or perhaps not, but either way, it really didn’t matter.

---

“I will come up with something. It ultimately does not matter. You love me whether you are attracted to me or not.” That was far more important. The idea was still so novel and it warmed him, prompting him to give Anders a kiss of his own.

---

“Want to get ready for bed?” There were still a few things he needed to do before he would be ready, but then they could lay down together, perhaps with Snow, and cuddle until they fell asleep. Or at least until he fell asleep.

---

“Yes. Just tell me what you still need to do and I will help.” He looked forward to settling in with him. He always did, even if much of the night was a little lonely with Anders sound asleep. But there was nowhere he would rather be and he liked being right there to chase away any bad dreams the mage might have before they even began.

---

“You can lock up. I’ll finish cleaning.” There wasn’t much left to do. He’d already done much of it before he’d started playing with Snow. He squeezed his hand and then let go of it to get up. “Did anything happen in the Circle today?” he asked, knowing Justice was anxious for updates.

---

“No, it was a quiet day. That was why I had time to work on something so frivolous.” He said as he rose, moving to go lock up for the night. “We may have an opportunity to get the family out soon. A templar is getting married and some of the guard shifts will be thin in a few weeks because they are attending the wedding. But for now, they are comfortable enough while we wait for our moment.”

---

“We would like to be there as it is planned,” he told him, since Justice was wanting to get more involved again. He started to put things away, relieved that it had been a quiet day. Quiet days were good. It meant his healing wasn’t needing. He couldn’t help but continually glance at him as he worked, still finding the changes so strange. Good, but strange.

---

“I would like you to be there also. I will let you know when we schedule the next meeting to plan this.” The first attempt to get this family out had been such a disaster. It would be nice to have their help when they tried again. “If I master changing my appearance by then, perhaps I can use it to our advantage and serve as a diversion.”

---

“Oh? You think you will change your appearance often?” He’d thought he’d change it once and then be done, but he was interpreting his words as meaning he would change his appearance for the sake of a diversion. Then change it again after.

---

“No. I want an appearance of my own. But if I can use the ability now and then to help the mages, I will be happy to. I do not intend to learn this magic just to use it selfishly.” Though what began this whole endeavor was Anders’ suggestion that Cole may not have wanted his appearance copied.

---

He nodded and then, finishing what he was doing, washed his hands and went back to the nook to see what Lord Snowbeard was doing. “I know I already gave you a treat an hour ago, but one more won’t hurt,” he told him, picking him up and grabbing a little bit of dried meat to offer him in his palm.

---

Noah followed along and smiled when Snow devoured the meat. “He doesn't mind an extra treat at all. I will have to find him more to eat. He would benefit from a more varied diet.” Though the kitten seemed perfectly content with meat and milk.

---

Wouldn’t they all? Still, what Snow ate was more important to him than what he ate himself. “Bring him whatever you like. I’m sure he appreciates it.” He appreciated it himself. The help would make it much easier to take care of him.

---

He was happy to do it. He liked the kittens and he was trying to provide for all of them. But especially Snow since Anders was unable to really provide for him and that was the only reason he hadn't wanted a kitten. “I will bring him some fish tomorrow.”

---

He smiled and when Snow finished up, he gave him a stroke down his back and then let him go so he could go where he wanted. If he wanted to stay with him, all the better. He looked back at Noah and took his hand, this time just holding it. “Ready to lay down?”

---

“Yes.” He raised Anders’ hand and kissed the back of it. “...I stopped by briefly to check on Milos today. He is doing alright after yesterday, but was still a little jealous. I gave him a bit of comfort before I left.” Not that he would remember, but it would help.

---

He was surprised that he would do that, but Anders nodded. “I suppose I would be jealous too.” Even knowing what it was, experiencing it himself, he would be jealous if he knew that Milos was having sex with someone else, especially as they were reaching the point where they were talking about possibly being together. “I don’t think he will accept it, but that’s alright. It would be better for him to find someone more like him.”

---

“He does not want to move on from you. You make him very happy. He just needs more time to think this through.” He hoped he would accept it. He thought the two mortals were good for each other.

---

“There’s a lot for him to consider.” For Anders it was rather simple. There was little about Milos to take issue with. The fact that he had a daughter was really the only thing and Anders had known that about him from the start. He didn’t mind that he had children and if anything, it made him happy to think that he could help him with her. He started to shift down, settling on his side.

---

“He is glad that you don't mind him having Willow.” He settled beside him, laying down to face him. He stroked his fingers through his hair, knowing Anders’ scalp was always a little sore at the end of the day.  

---

“She’s a sweet girl.” As much as he knew of her. He slid his arm around him and scooted in, though since Snow had ended up curled up between their hips, he kept a little space there. He kissed him. “You do look a lot better.” The whole not looking like walking death suited him.

---

“I am glad you think so.” He murmured against his lips. It was an improvement, but he wanted to look even better for him. “I like the ears. I think I will be an elf.”

---

He chuckled. “If you can change your race, I wonder if you can change your gender.” Could he become a woman? That would be really strange. He didn’t think of him as a woman at all. It would take a lot of adjusting to get use to him if he decided he wanted to be a woman.

---

“I probably be could. But I have been regarded as a male for so long that it would be difficult for me.” He smiled and nuzzled their noses. “I think you prefer having sex with me as a male anyway.” He knew Anders liked both, but he knew how much he liked to be filled.

---

He was right, but for some reason hearing him say it so frankly had him a little flustered. “Probably.” He wouldn’t mind it though, especially if he had Milos. One cock was enough for him. Two was just a bonus. “Are you curious what it is like to be with a woman?” Perhaps he would have a preference of his own.

---

“A little. But I wouldn't have any real interest in trying it unless I bonded with a woman the way I have bonded with you.” His thoughts had him curious and he coiled the locks of hair around his fingers. “If you end up with Milos, would you prefer that I was a woman to vary your sex life?”

---

“No.” He didn’t want to influence his decisions at all. Noah really seemed to care what he thought and that was sweet, but he didn’t have sex with him for the same reason he would have sex with someone else. He didn’t need to ‘vary’ his sex life. “I like you as you are.” He didn’t need to change. The fact that he could and therefore Justice could was enough for him.

---

“Then I will remain a male. I think that will be easier for me.” He didn't think he would make a good woman. He had been in the minds of enough of them and he felt he could understand their mannerisms well enough. But it would still take some adjustment and this was simpler.

---

“If that’s what you want.” He leaned in and gave him a kiss and then shut his eyes. He could feel the warmth of the kitten between them. It was pleasant, especially since there wasn’t much heat from Noah himself. He shut his eyes and let out a relaxing breath. “Goodnight, Noah.” It had been a simple day, but he was sleepy and happy.

---

“Goodnight, Anders. Sleep well.” He closed his eyes, ready to rest until Snow woke up in the night to play. For the time being, he would just listen to Anders’ thoughts and see what would carry him off to sleep.

---

For a while, Anders simply thought about Milos, but as he grew drowsier and drowsier, his thoughts began to drift. He started thinking about Noah and what he’d told him. If he was going to be an elf, he already had an idea of what he would look like. Long pointed ears, bright blue eyes. Fair skin, he thought. They would go well with his eyes. Dark hair would make them pop even more, if he had long, thick lashes. Even though he thought of him as plain, he was picturing him as gorgeous. Bare, unmarked skin. Silky smooth without a hint of hair on his body. A thick cock nestled between his legs. The corners of his lips tugged up, then relaxed. The thoughts became more and more fragmented until they faded completely and sleep took him.

---

It was interesting to hear all that Anders fantasized about. It was helpful, since the mage hadn't wanted to say what he would want. He listened closely, making notes about what he would change about himself when he was able. It would be fun to surprise him and show up as the raven haired elf he dreamed of.

Chapter Text

It was a couple more days before Milos made his return to the clinic. He was anxious about going back - he’d had so much on his mind and he knew Anders did too. But he’d missed him and he stilled looked forward to seeing him again, even if their last encounter had been eventful in ways he hadn’t expected.

He arrived after dark and since the lantern was still lit, he let himself into the clinic. He half expected to see Noah there, imaging the spirit was often in the clinic and he’d simply never seen him there before. But if Noah was there, he at least wasn’t visible. “Hello…”

---

Anders wasn’t alone, but the patients resting in his cots seemed to be asleep. The healer himself was sitting at his desk, writing something on a long roll of parchment. For once he was so absorbed in what he was doing that he didn’t notice him come in until he heard him. He looked up and when he saw him, his breath held.

He sat back and offered him a small smile. “Hello…” he replied in return.

---

Milos returned the smile, but nodded toward the occupied cots. “Is this a bad time? I could come back if you’re busy…” The healer was always busy, of course, but he seldom had patients this late in the evening. He didn’t want to distract him if he needed to stay vigilant for the people resting in his care.

---

“No, it’s alright. They’re just resting until morning.” He stood up and moved closer to him. They just had to keep their voices down, that was all. “There’s a little extra food from earlier, if you’re hungry.” It had been a busy day, especially since he’d had two large donations of food and word had spread that there was hot, fresh food available at the clinic, so people were coming by in droves. He was thinking of getting a second lantern to signal whenever there was food so that people didn’t try to stop by when there wasn’t any available.

---

“I wouldn’t mind having a bite to eat if there’s a little to spare.” He closed the distance between them and kissed his cheek. He’d had a busy day himself and it had been awhile since he’d had something, but he knew there were plenty of people around here that needed the food more than him if there wasn’t much left.

---

The kiss was encouraging. “Why do you sit down?” He could make him up a plate. He did just that, giving him a generous helping of what was left. He brought it over to him. “I’m sure it was better fresh, but I had some a half-hour ago and it’s still good.”

---

“It looks good.” Especially for a free meal. He took a seat while he waited and looked around for any sign of Noah, but the spirit didn’t seem to be around. He thanked Anders and took the plate, eager to take a bite of it. It really was pretty good. He knew they had a lot to talk about, but he wasn’t sure where to begin, so it was nice to have the meal to keep busy while he gathered his thoughts.

---

He didn’t want to force him to talk while he was eating, so he busied himself with putting his parchment and ink away, straightening up his desk so that the chaos was at least organized. He glanced at him occasionally, but kept himself busy for the time being.

---

He was sneaking glances at him as well. When their eyes met one of those times, he gave him a sheepish little smile and quickly looked back down at his meal. When he’d finished what he was eating, he sighed and set his plate aside. “Thanks for that, it was really good.”

---

“You’re welcome.” Since he was done, he sat down in his chair. “So…” He knew why he was here and he was hopeful, since he seemed to be in a good mood.

---

“So…” It was time to clear the air. He folded his hands and looked to him, finding himself anxious all over again. He worried Anders would try to talk him out of this. Or that he’d hit him with some new surprise. “I spent a lot of time thinking over if I could share you with a spirit considering the kind of relationship you have with him. And I considered what it would mean for me if you were caught by templars or if your Calling came. None of them were things I wanted to think about, but I knew they were things I had to think about if I want a serious relationship with you. And it’s not just about me. So once I decided I was prepared to handle all of that, I sat down with Willow and talked to her about it too. About how I had met someone that I want to be with and that if she was alright with that, she also had to accept that for a variety of reasons, you might not always be with us.” That had perhaps been even harder than working through his own feelings on that matter. “But I think you’re still a very good fit for me. For us, maybe.”

---

He listened to him intently, but when he got to the part about Willow, his eyes fell. It was a lot to ask of him and it was even more to ask of a child. Which was why he would never have children of his own. As much as he liked the idea of being a father, he couldn’t in good conscious bring a child into all of this.

Maybe that ought to extend to children that already existed in this world. The only real difference was that if something happened to him, Willow, or any other child whose life he might come into, would have their real parent to take care of them. It wouldn’t matter as much.

“I’m surprised,” he admitted, even if he’d wanted him to come to this conclusion. “It’s a lot of baggage.” He knew it was and he didn’t feel right about asking anyone to carry it with him.

---

“It is a lot. But you wouldn’t be the man you are if you didn’t have all of it.” He wasn’t like any man he’d ever met before in his life. “I want to be with you, Anders. I’ve been really happy with you…”

---

Anders looked troubled. He was clearly thinking and after a while, he looked up at him. “...Are you sure?” There was a sudden weight in his lap and he looked down to see his kitten had hopped onto it. “Lord Snowbeard, this isn’t the best time.” He gave him a stroke, then eased him back down to the floor.

---

Despite how serious the moment felt, he couldn’t help but smile a little to hear the kitten’s name. He nodded. “I’m sure. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and this is what I want. As long as it’s what you want too…”

---

He was quiet again, but not for as long. “Alright. We’ll give it a shot.” If it didn’t work for either of them, then that was that, but there was no reason not to try. “I’ll be your boyfriend.” He hadn’t been someone’s boyfriend since Karl and that was further baggage, baggage that he had no intention of bringing up.

Oh, by the way I killed my last lover.

Nope.

---

“My boyfriend…” He warmed a little, relieved that Anders didn’t seem like he meant to talk him out of it. “I haven’t been able to say that in a long time. I’m glad you’re willing to give this a shot.” He didn’t have the baggage to consider, but he did have a child and that was still baggage that was a dealbreaker for some.

---

He smiled, but it hadn’t really hit him. “I should be the one that’s glad.” It meant a lot that he was willing to look past so much, especially everything with Noah. “I am. I’m glad you like me so much that you’re willing to deal with all my… Well, you know. If it ever becomes too much though, that’s alright. I won’t blame you or be angry with you.”

---

“If it does, I’ll talk to you about it. But I think we’ll be alright.”  He felt if he could handle all that, he could handle most anything. “ We should come up with some way to celebrate.”

---

He looked over at his patients and then gave him an apologetic smile. “Yes, unfortunately there isn’t much we can do in here tonight.” Though he was sure Milos meant more than simply undressing. “What would you have in mind?”

---

“I’m not sure. Maybe some night we could camp under the stars. We haven’t really spent a night together yet.” It was something he’d like, even if they couldn’t do it that night.

---

They hadn’t and that did sound rather nice. An entire night away. “Okay, we’ll do that.” He looked at his patients again and then rose to his feet, offering Milos his hand and when he took it, walking him to the nook. He had nothing untoward in mind, he just wanted some semblance of privacy for a moment.

---

Milos didn’t expect anything scandalous as he followed. It would just be nice to sit with him. “I’d bring wine with me, but I know you don’t drink. Is there something you’d want me to bring on our celebratory night instead?”

---

“Maybe some chocolate?” he suggested, thinking of their first date. Back when all Milos had known about him as that he was the Healer of Darktown. As soon as they were out of sight, he pulled him in and kissed him.

---

He was kissed before he could answer and he didn’t mind at all. He kissed him back and closed his eyes, moving a hand to his cheek to keep him pulled in. He’d be afraid Anders might turn him away even if he accepted all the mage had told him and it was a relief to kiss him again. “I’ll bring chocolates for us.” He murmured against his lips.

---

“Is there something ‘you’d’ want me to bring?” He was limited in what he could bring and the question was more playful than anything.

---

“Hmmm…” He considered a moment, then smirked. “Maybe something we can use for a blindfold.” Perhaps for their night together, they could spice things up a little. He didn’t know if Anders was into that sort of thing, but he wouldn’t find out if he didn’t suggest it.

---

He returned his smirk. “For me or for you?” he challenged him, kissing him again, softer. He nipped his lip, tugging on it lightly, then shifted back to gave him a larger smirk.

---

“I don’t know. Maybe we’ll flip a coin for it, leave it up to fate.” He said with a chuckle once he had his lips back. “Unless you have a strong preference?” He asked, then gave him a nip in return.

---

“No, I’m fine with leaving it to fate.” This still hadn’t really hit him, but he was sure it would as some point tonight. “Just tell me when you want to go, I’ll leave the night open.” Not that he did all that much in his nights, except spend time with Noah.

---

“Maybe two nights from now? I can get some good chocolates for us by then.” Not just any chocolate would do if they were celebrating a new relationship. He’d have to get the good stuff. “Does that work for you?” ...And for Noah, he supposed, if they had to dodge the spirit’s schedule.

---

“Yeah, that works.” He kissed him again and then he simply held onto him. It had been so long since someone wanted to be with him. After a moment, he let out disbelieving breath. There was a short silence. “Justice would… like to meet you.” He had been holding back, but he felt it was time to finally come face to face with him. “You don’t have to tonight,” he quickly added, not wanting him to feel intimidated as soon as they decided to be together. They probably shouldn’t tonight, truth be told.

---

He met his gaze, looking a bit nervous. “He wants to meet me?” The spirit inside of Anders who heard their every word wanted to meet him. That was definitely intimidating, but he was sure Justice would be no more threatening to him than Noah had been. Or at least he hoped so. “...Okay, how do we go about doing that?”

---

“You don’t have to tonight,” he repeated, not wanting to scare him off. He doubted he would actually scare him off and Justice assured him that he wasn’t going to do anything. He just thought they should speak before they settled into this. He thought they should do it tonight. “He just takes over me, that’s all.”

---

“If it’s that simple, let’s do it then.” It seemed better than worrying about it with their celebration night coming up. Besides, there was probably nothing to worry about. “How will I know that it’s him instead of you?”

---

He wasn’t so sure, but the question eased his tension and he laughed. “You’ll know.” He gave him a final kiss, then stood back from him. He gave him an awkward smile that was an attempt to be assuring. Then the world faded and Justice was left standing in his place.

---

Anders was right - he knew. The light cracking through his skin was hard to miss but his eyes were a bit scary. He found himself taking an instinctive step back from him, but otherwise he seemed to be doing alright with the sight of him. “Hello...you must be Justice…”

---

Justice nodded. “Before you go further with Anders, I thought it best we speak.” After learning about him, Milos had never shown any interest in him, which was fine with him. He didn’t really care what Milos thought of him, but if he was going to be in Anders’ life, then he was going to be in his life as well, as visa versa.

---

“Yeah…” He was a little awestruck, in truth. “I...didn’t know I could speak to you. Otherwise I would have tried to introduce myself sooner…” This was crazy, as much of a spectacle as all of the magic he’d seen had been.

---

“It is no matter.” He folded their arms. “Anders told you that Noah is helping us find a way to seperate. If we succeed, then your relationship with him will no longer be my business. Currently, we are one in the same. In that way, his relationship with you puts me into a relationship with you.” He had to experience every aspect of it, as he did with everything else, so he was an unenthused participate as far as that went.

---

“So I’m in a relationship with both of you?” That made things a little complicated, didn’t it? He moved back in a little closer, not quite so intimidated by him. “Are you okay with that?”

---

“In a sense.” Justice didn’t really think of it has his relationship, because he didn’t want it and he was only involved in so far as he couldn’t escape it. “It does not matter how I feel about it.” He was backing off in a lot of ways and that included with this. He was putting his own feelings aside to Anders’ and he could feel how happy he was for it. It made it mostly worth it. “I just felt it should be clear to you that you are not only involved with him. You are involved with us.”

---

He wasn’t sure what to make of that. The spirit didn’t seem overjoyed, but he at least didn’t seem to oppose the idea either. He didn’t know just how ‘involved’ the two of them were supposed to be. “Alright. ...I could bring something for you on our celebration night. Do you like chocolate too?”

---

“Anders likes chocolate. I do not know if I like chocolate.” He liked it in so far as Anders liked it, but he’d never eaten so he didn’t know if he liked it. “You do not have to bring me anything. I have no expectations of you, it is Anders that I have expectations of, but I have been… giving him more time to express himself as he wishes.”

---

“I’m glad. I...I really like Anders and I want to make him happy.” But this wasn’t entirely about Anders, was it? “...Which means I also want to make you happy, since you’re one in the same.”

---

“All I would ask is that you do not take up too much of his time. He has been very… distracted, but you are better for him than Noah is, so take the time you must.” His arms were still folded and his expression was neutral.

---

“Oh…” That wasn’t a request he liked. He hardly got to see Anders as it was. But he nodded. “I’ll try not to. We’re both busy men…” He frowned, having hoped that eventually they’d see each other more often.

---

He could see that he didn’t like what he was asking of him, but he wouldn’t take it back. He would appreciate it if he limited the time he sought him out, especially if they were going on all day or all night excursions. He was about to answer, to thank him, but a thought occurred to him.

Something he was unsure of. He didn’t really even want to contemplate it, but there was a curiosity there. Mostly because of what Noah had claimed. He shifted his weight, breaking from the statuesque way he’d held himself. He parted his lips, as if to speak, then shifted his weight again, their brows meeting as their lips tugged down.

---

His frown deepened. It was rather human body language for uncertainty, but it looked a little strange coming from a glowing man. A glowing version of his boyfriend, no less. “...What is it?” Was there some other secret?

---

“...I- I thought to ask if you would consider kissing me.” His frown deepened. “It is not that I wish to, but I do wish to understand Anders better.” Noah had said he’d understood as soon as he’d done it… so would he understand too if he did it? He didn’t really want to and not with Milos, but it wasn’t as if he had many options or opportunities. This would probably be it and if he could retreat with a better understanding of his mage, then perhaps he ought to try it at least once.

---

That was unexpected, but maybe it shouldn’t be since Anders had sex with another spirit. “...Okay. If you think it would help you…” They were in a relationship now, as he’d been told. He took a step closer, but stopped there, feeling a little nervous about fully approaching the spirit.

---

There was an awkward delay, Justice remaining as his was, arms still folded. Then he let them fall and he took a step closer himself, not looking enthused or eager in the slightest. He did not know how to do this, but he’d experienced it enough that he didn’t have to think all that hard. When he was close enough to kiss him, he made no move to actually close the distance between them.

---

He let Justice come to him and waited to be kissed. After another awkward delay, he realized that spirit asked to be kissed and that he must be waiting on him. He tentatively reached his hand up to touch his cheek, tense as if he meant to yank his hand back if it burned him. But despite the cracks of light and the power that seemed to be radiating from it, it felt like Anders’ skin. “You feel the same as he does…” He mused aloud.

---

He nodded. He ought to. He was in his body, after all. They were as joined as two beings could be. “It feels different to me.” Not by a lot, but there was definitely a difference to having their cheek touched when he was in control. He felt it in a… clearer way.

---

He nodded in return. He didn’t know how much he could feel just lingering inside of Anders. But it made sense that it would feel different to him being in control. After another beat, he leaned in to do as he asked. It helped considerably that he felt just like Anders. He kissed him firmly but sweetly, wanting him to experience it just as Anders did.

---

At first, he did nothing. He felt the pressure of lips against his and just stood there, taking it in. He didn’t get it. With that in mind, he reluctantly mimicked what Anders always did and kissed him back, though it was was lacking in everything but pressure.

---

In that sense, it felt nothing like kissing Anders. He wasn’t sure if he should pull away, but it seemed like Justice wasn’t quite getting what he needed out of this. He tried to deepen the kiss a little, wondering if that would feel a little more natural to him.

---

Justice started to move his lips and that helped it not feel so strange, but he still didn’t get it. Why was this something he spent so much time on? Why did kissing him make him so warm or happy? Why did this lead to more? He’d felt it over and over again, but he didn’t get it.

---

He could feel that he was trying and so he let it linger. Even if it still didn’t feel right to him. Eventually he broke the kiss and pulled back far enough to look at him. “...Was that helpful?”

---

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I still do not understand.” He could give up, or he could try one more time, just to make sure. He leaned in this time and kissed him, though it was still stiff and strange.

He wasn't expecting another kiss since he'd seemed so unenthusiastic about the first. But he answered it, kissing him with a little more heat than tenderness. Perhaps it was the tone of the kiss that had been wrong and he should try something different.

---

He was really trying this time, but his inexperience showed, though he drew on memories of kisses with Milos to help somewhat.

When he pulled back, he seemed unhappy. “Maybe I will have to kiss Anders when I have my own body to understand.” Then again, at that point, what would it matter?

…He’d at least try. Even if they weren’t joined, he wanted to understand Anders better so they could remain close.

“I'm sorry…” He didn't know what it was that Justice was trying to understand. Only that what they were trying wasn't working.

---

“It is alright. I thought it would help me understand, as it did Noah, but it did not.” He moved back from him, giving him space that he thought they both desired. “While I am here, is there anything you wish to know?”

He was a little more comfortable with the space between them, but the question caught him off guard. “...I guess I don't know. If I think of a question, would you come back and talk to me some time?”

---

“If you wish.” He’s said what he needed to say and requested what he needed to request, so there wasn’t much else to say. “If that is all, I will give control back to Anders.”

---

“It was nice to meet you.” It was strange and a little intimidating. But it was important that they meet. Even if he didn't like what Justice asked of him. It would be a relief to have Anders back.

---

He gave him a nod and then retreated. After a moment, the mage’s eyes fixed on Milos and he looked at him uncertainty. “...Is everything okay?”

---

He was glad that he was back and he smiled, but it was a bit strained. “Yeah, it’s alright. How did you feel about all of that?” He assumed that Anders had been aware of it all, just as Justice was.

---

“Feel about what?” He didn’t know what he was talking to and it seemed that Justice wasn’t in any hurry to explain. He was leaving it between them, so Anders waited for his boyfriend to tell him what had happened.

---

A little color rose in his cheeks. Was he being coy? He didn’t think so. “About both things he asked of me, I guess…” He wondered if he’d known already what Justice would ask before he took over. If their thoughts were that interwoven.

---

“What did he ask?” He could tell that Milos was expecting him to know what happened. “I don’t have any awareness when Justice takes over like that.” In some way, it was hard to say who had more control of their body. He was normally the one in control, but Justice could take over whenever he pleased and Anders could not. Justice could see everything at all times, and he could not.

---

The color in his cheeks darkened considerably. “Oh! I thought you were there with us. I thought you…” Not only was he not aware of Justice’s requests ahead of time, he wasn’t aware of them at all. “I’m sorry, I thought you knew…”

---

Of course, that just made him more anxious. “Knew what?” His voice was a little firmer and he turned his demand inward. What did you ask him? He was getting upset and as such, Justice finally spoke up.

Nothing. I simply asked him to be considerate of your time and if he would kiss me.

Anders’ eyes lost focus. “What?!

---

He didn’t expect him to get upset and he shifted his weight between his feet anxiously, unsure whether or not the spirit was answering him or if he was just getting worked up from the suspense. “Nothing really bad. He doesn’t want me to take up too much of your time. And he asked me to kiss him so he could try to understand something like Noah, but it didn’t help him I guess…”

---

“You kissed him,” he repeated, though it was hard to say who he was talking to. He lifted his hand to the bridge of his nose and pinched it. For a moment he simply stood there. He pinched harder. It didn’t help you? He finally asked Justice, since he had obviously done it for a reason.

No, I do not understand why you wish to kiss him… or Noah. Or why Noah wishes to kiss you.

---

“I’m sorry...I only did it because I thought you were aware. I thought you’d step in if you didn’t want him to try it…” He hadn’t thought that he would have a problem with it. It wasn’t as if he was kissing another man’s lips and as the spirit said, they were one.

---

Anders’ let his hand fall and looked up at him. He shook his head. “It’s fine, it’s not your fault.” He knew why Justice had asked him. He wouldn’t want to try it with anyone else. Not with Noah, certainly, and all that really left was Milos, since he was the one he was forming a relationship with. “Just… no more than that, please.” He didn’t want Justice trying to ‘understand’ anything else in his body.

I would not.

---

“No...and I don’t think he would want to anyway. The kiss wasn’t good for either of us.” It had been stiff and awkward, though they both had tried to make it better.

---

It wasn’t, Justice agreed. “Alright.” He was so focused on the fact that they’d kissed that he wasn’t thinking about what else he’d had to say. “Well, now you’ve met him.” He moved to sit down on the edge of his cot and waited to be joined. “No second thoughts?”

---

“No second thoughts.” He moved to sit beside him on the cot, still looking a little embarrassed about the whole thing. “Do you agree with him? That I should try not to take up too much of your time? I’d like to see you a little more often than I do and I know we’re both busy, but I want to respect both of your wishes…”

---

He sighed. “No, I don’t. I don’t think he should’ve asked you that, but I know why he did. He’s dealing with a lot lately… Learning to give me time to spend how I want. He thinks of you as a… distraction from what I should be doing, but I don’t think he would actually try to intervene. He was just expressing his feelings about it.” He really didn’t think Justice would and that confidence in him was welcome.

---

“I probably am a distraction for you. But hopefully the good kind.” He leaned in to kiss his cheek. “I can always just come visit you another night if you’re busy with patients or some other work. Or even just hanging out with Justice. I don’t want him to feel like I’m getting in the way.”

---

The thought would have been silly before he and Justice had spent a day doing exactly that. He didn’t think they would do that again anytime soon, but it was amusing all the same.

“We’ll make it work,” he agreed, use to being busy. It was nothing new for him, he just wasn’t used to being stretched in so many directions.

He nodded and leaned into him lightly. “I'm looking forward to our night together.” A full night to enjoy each other and their new relationship.

---

“Me too.” It would be fun, especially if they included that blindfold. He lowered his head to his shoulder, glad he was willing to look past so much for him. “Snow, come here. Come cuddle with us.”

He smiled to himself, grateful to have the quiet moment with him. He was glad that the kitten also seemed to want to get in on the affection since he jumped up and began to walk over their laps, looking for a prime location to curl up. “He's so cute.”

---

“I know right?” He was so delighted whenever they were together. He loved the kitten dearly. “Do you like his name?” He was curious what he thought of it.

“Yeah, it suits him.” He scratched the white fur beneath his chin that constituted his ‘beard’. “Now my expectations are high for what you'll come up with for your horse.”

---

He chuckled. “I don’t know that I’ll be able to come up with something quite so dignified.” He wasn’t sure why he was having such a hard time coming up with a name for her. It had only taken him a day to come up with Snow’s name. Then again, he had spent the entire day with him, doting over him. Perhaps that made a difference.

---

“She ought to be Lady something, since your cat is a Lord. Lady Patches, or something equally distinguished.” He had never had a horse with such a title and the thought of it made him smile.

---

His brows lifted. “That’s a good idea.” Lady Patches. Lady Patchwork. He cocked his head. “I kind of like it, actually. Lady Patchwork.” He considered it a little longer. “Lady for short.” He could call her Patches for short, but Lady seemed appropriate for a horse to him. He smiled.

---

“I like it. Lord Snowbeard and his faithful companion, Lady Patchwork.” He chuckled to himself. “They sound like a good pair for you.” Though he highly doubted the cat and horse would see much of each other unless one day the mage and Snow moved out to the ranch, but that was getting way ahead of them.

---

“Perfect.” He had come up with a name for his horse out of nowhere. Kind of like how he’d come up with a name for Snow, except this time he’d had Milos’ help. “Maybe you can bring her to our night out together.” Or maybe they ought to leave her so they didn’t have to worry about anything but themselves.

---

“I’ll bring her. She’ll probably like a night out. Horses like camping once in awhile too.” He couldn’t trust her like he could his tried and true horses, but he could tether her and should would be just fine. “Willow will be happy that she officially has a name.”

---

“Hopefully she approves,” he smiled, stroking his own fingers along Snow’s neck and shoulders. “Have you started teaching Lady to work?” He knew that she had to earn he keep and he didn’t mind that. He could work her however he wanted.

---

“No, not yet. She’s still acclimating to being a domestic horse. Once we have a really solid relationship, I’ll teach her some different things and see what she likes to do.” He thought it would be a little while before she was ready for that. “Right now she’s learning to trust people.”

---

“Perhaps one day she’ll trust me too.” He turned his head and pressed a kiss to Milos’ shoulder, then returned to resting against it. “I’ll bring a treat for her. Try to trick her into liking me.”

---

“I think she’ll trust you. Especially if you get more opportunities to see her.” After the kiss, he nuzzled his cheek into his hair. “Treats are definitely the way to her heart. She’ll love you if you have a carrot for her when we go camping.”

---

“Treats are the way to my heart too. Why do you think I told you to bring chocolate?” He was looking forward to the chocolate alone, truth be told. He hadn’t had chocolate since last time and before that, in as long as he could remember.

---

“I figured that out on our first night out by the lake.” He smiled fondly at the thought. That had been such an incredible night. He’d been so infatuated with him and he still was, even after all that he’d learned about him.

---

It had been an incredible night. Especially when their clothes had come off. Even after losing themselves together again and again, that was the time that stood out above all of the others. The need had been so desperate, he’d been so wanton, begging for it. He didn’t think he’d ever forget it.

“Maybe this night will be as nice as that one.”

---

“Maybe it’ll be even better.” He challenged, his tone a bit wistful. “But that would be a lot to live up to. Our first night together was so good. But this will be the first time we have an entire night to enjoy each other…”

---

“You only like me because I let you fuck me as soon as we met.” His voice was teasing. “That’s the only reason why you like that night so much.” He nudged him.

---

“It’s not the only reason. But it’s a major perk. You’re a great lay.” He teased back and kissed the crown of his head. “It wasn’t our fault sparks flew on the first night, it just happened.”

---

He snorted softly. “Is that what it was? Sparks?” He let his fingers spark as they ran up his arm to accent his words. “You don’t think we were both just desperate?”  He knew that he’d not had sex in a long time before all that - they had both needed it.

---

The sparks startled him and he chuckled. “Oh yeah, we were desperate. We were as desperate as hormonal teenagers. But the sex was still great. Obviously we’ve kept at it even now that we’re not so desperate.”

---

“Not so much,” he agreed, shutting his eyes. “Going from having sex all the time to not having sex for years wasn’t easy,” he murmured, still running his hand along his arm. “It was hard not to be grateful to you for giving it to me.” The corner of his lips tugged up, the topic amusing him.

---

“I assume at that point you weren’t having sex with Noah?” It soured the topic for him a little, but he didn’t let it show. “Or were you still grateful for a human partner after only having sex with a spirit until I came around?”

---

“No, I wasn’t.” He didn’t offer anything further. Not really because he wasn’t willing to share, but because he was sure he didn’t want to hear it. If he did, he could ask.

---

That made him smile. “Then I’m glad I got to be your first after such a long hiatus.” He kissed the top of his head again, pleased that at least for that night he’d gotten to have Anders to himself.

---

He hummed. “My first real boyfriend too.” He considered Karl a boyfriend, but not in the same sense as Milos. Their circumstances had made it so that their relationship was not serious or committed, even if for a time they had behaved as such.

---

“Really?” He hadn’t expected that and his smile widened. “In a long time? Or your first real boyfriend ever?” It was hard to believe that he would be his first boyfriend ever, considering what a catch he was.

---

“Ever.” He didn’t mind admitting it. It wasn’t shameful or embarrassing that it had never worked out for him - it made perfect sense as to why it had never worked out for him. “First real relationship ever.” It was still surreal and he wasn’t sure how long it would take for it to really hit him.

---

“Then I’m honored.” He draped an arm around him and pulled him in closer. “I’m glad I get to be your first boyfriend. I think you’ll like this whole relationship thing.”

---

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’ll find it dreadfully boring.” He leaned more of his weight into him, eyes still shut. He was getting sleepy as he sat there.

---

“You might. But we’re old men. Sometimes boring is good.” They were hardly old, but he definitely liked the idea of a relationship better than a hot fling like he would have liked in his younger years.

---

His lips quirked. “Speak for yourself. I feel rather spry, thank you.” He was right, though, sometimes boring was good. He opened his eyes when Lord Snowbeard jumped down. “Guess he’s too young to get it.”

---

“I guess so.” He yawned softly. “It’s getting late. I wish I didn’t have to go tonight.” He was comfortable here with him and it was tempting to lay down with him and go to sleep. Even if his cot was terrible.

---

“We’ll have a night together soon.” It would be nice if he could just lay with him, though. He did want to spend more time with him, though he did regret that it might eat into his time with Noah. He was so spoiled these days.

---

“Very soon.” He used his fingers to raise Anders’ chin and kissed his lips. They would only have to spend a couple more nights apart before they’d have their night together under the stars.

---

Anders smiled and answered his kiss, their lips meeting far more naturally like this than they had with Justice in control. “Come on, before you’re too tired and get yourself robbed again.”

---

“You’re probably right. I’ve been mugged enough lately.” He rose to his feet and waited for Anders to join him since he usually walked him to the door. “I should probably get out of your hair anyway in case one of your patients needs you.”

---

“Good point.” Though he doubted they would. He followed him out of the nook and to the door, where he moved in again, wanting a hug from him. As much as he enjoyed their sex, there was something nice about just being able to spend time together sometimes, even if wasn’t for long.

---

He wrapped his arms around him when they reached the door, pulling him into a firm embrace. He wanted a kiss from him as well and he helped himself to it, giving him a long and tender kiss. “I’ll see you soon.” He murmured against his lips once he broke it.

---

“Goodnight,” he murmured back, giving him a parting peck and then pulling back. He smiled warmly, opening the door of him and giving him room to get going.

---

“Goodnight.” He returned his smile, then set out into the night. With any luck, it would be a quiet walk back to the stables to get his horse for the ride home. He didn’t notice the elf waiting around the corner who approached the clinic as soon as Milos was far enough down the road.

---

He watched him go and then started to close the door, but then he saw someone approaching. He opened it back up. It was dark enough that he couldn’t see him well, the only light around flooding out of the clinic behind him.  

“Hello, are you alright?” he asked, letting him know he was welcome even if it was late.

Noah couldn't help but smile. Of course the mage couldn't recognize him. He looked nothing like the man he was used to seeing, save for his soft blue eyes. Now he was the beautiful raven-haired elf Anders had been fantasizing about as he'd drifted off to sleep. He nodded and stepped past the healer into the clinic, curious if he'd find him more familiar once he was in better light.

---

He glimpsed him when he stepped past him, but it wasn’t until he shut the door and turned that he really saw him. His expression was as welcoming as his words and didn’t betray the brief thought that occupied it.

The elf was gorgeous.

From time to time he had attractive patients, like Milos, but rarely did he think about it. He noted it in passing and then he was doing what he did with no thought of it.

It wasn’t often that it hit him like this, as it wasn’t often he had a patient as attractive as this, but it didn’t matter what the elf looked like to treat him.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”

He could feel annoyance bubbling and he wasn’t sure why. What is it? I’m not going to do anything…

Justice ought to know better.

“Not a thing, Anders.” The thought that he was gorgeous made him feel a little sheepish. No one had ever thought anything remotely close to that about him. It was nice. He watched him behind the thick, luscious lashes Anders had imagined, waiting to see if it would click for him now.

---

For a beat Anders just looked at him. The gears turned in his mind. Then he paled and then his cheeks flooded with color. “Noah?!” He couldn’t believe it. He was completely different… He looked incredible. He looked just like he’d imagined him and he couldn’t help but feel flustered, taking him in with new eyes.

His smile widened when he was recognized and he nodded. “This is my new body. My own appearance. I am glad you like it.” He liked it a lot, from what he could pick up from in his thoughts.

---

“...You were supposed to pick yourself,” he argued weakly, unable to take his eyes off of him. He definitely had a unique appearance, he’d never seen anyone that looked like him. The annoyance grew, Justice finding the way he was feasting his eyes on him unnecessary.

---

“I did. I chose what you wanted. It was what made me happy.” To have Anders blown away by his looks was exactly what he wanted. He moved in closer to him, wanting to be near him, but not so near that the mage couldn’t still get a good look at him while his new appearance was so novel.

---

Anders couldn’t believe that it was really him. He looked nothing like him. He looked like an imposter. A beautiful imposter. In all but the eyes, but even they were different in the way they were framed. In how big they were. He was so attracted to him and it was odd because his entire relationship with Noah had nothing to do with attraction. “...I don’t want to disturb them,” he glanced at his patients, “Why don’t we move to my bed?”

---

“In a moment. I would like to check on them first if you don’t mind…” They weren’t calling out to him, so they at least weren’t in distress. But he was still always drawn to Anders’ patients to some degree and he wanted to make sure they were resting as comfortably as they could before he hid himself away in the private nook with the healer.

---

He nodded and decided to take the opportunity to straighten up the clinic and prepare for the night’s end. He was sure it wouldn’t take him long, so he worked quickly to put things away.

---

Noah worked quickly, only really lingering on one sleeping patient. He put his hands on her, leaning down and whispering in her ear for a few minutes. She breathed a soft, relaxed sigh when he finished but otherwise there was no apparent change in her while she slept. He returned to Anders then, looking to see if he needed help tidying up. “Ready?”

---

He kept his eyes on what he was doing, trying to push the annoyance and jealousy aside. He didn’t quite understand Justice’s jealousy in this case, but the spirit wasn’t offering any explanations. He only looked up when he returned to him and again, he couldn’t help but stare. “Yeah…” He started to the nook, undressing and getting comfortable as soon as they were out of sight.

---

He followed along, not at all minding his staring. He began to undress as well, wondering if perhaps he should find new clothes for himself to go with his appearance. He stripped down to his trousers, revealing a torso that was leanly muscled while still having a soft appearance, his flesh perfect and unblemished.

---

He was oddly shy. He knew it was Noah, but he didn’t look like Noah. He started to move closer to him and then stopped. He scratched his fingers through his loosened locks and then moved to sit on the edge of the cot. “You’re going to get a lot of attention,” he warned him, feeling his own heat that was hard to ignore.

---

“That is alright. I have a way of making myself invisible when I do not want attention.” Rather than settle on the mattress beside him, he straddled the mage’s lap as he sometimes did when they crawled into bed together. He slid his fingers into Anders’ hair, kissing him softly.

---

Anders swallowed when the weight settled on him, but he found that the temperature of his skin was as it should be. He slid his arms around him and returned the kiss, his fingers beginning to map out this body, warming it with the tips of them. “Noah,” he breathed against his lips, lust nipping at his toes.

---

He sighed softly, the warmth on his chilled skin so pleasant. “I love you.” He whispered into the kiss. He loved to tell him that, still treasuring the love he felt from his favorite mortal and wanting to give it back to him all that he could.

---

He smiled. “I love you too,” he murmured, pulling back to look at him. He couldn’t stop staring at him and even when he attempted to kiss him again, it wasn’t long before he was pulling back again. His eyes were focused on his face, but they did glance down between them. Was he exactly as he’d pictured him?

He knew his patients were there.He knew he shouldn't get intimate with Noah for the same reason he hadn’t gotten intimate with Milos, but he was finding it hard to care. They could be quiet.

---

“I can change it if it is not what you had in mind. But I think you will approve.” He had heard what Anders hoped for between his legs and he’d been quite generous with the idea. Far more than what Cole had to work with, anyway. He just hoped that he hadn’t gotten so carried away that it would be painful. Though he did have magic to help with that if it was. He nuzzled their noses together, so affectionate and so happy to be with him.

---

“I want to see…” He was curious. Curious and hungry. The lust was at his knees now, slowly climbing up to where his cock was thickening. He pressed kisses to his cheek and down to his jaw, where he licked and tasted the smooth skin. He tasted the same, but the feel was different.

---

“Do you?” He was amused, knowing Anders meant to be on his best behavior with patients still in the clinic. But the lust he was picking up from Anders had him starting to thicken as well. He tipped his head back, giving him more room to explore with his mouth. “I do wish I could have made myself warmer for you…”

---

“That’s okay.” It would be nice if he was warm. Warmth was a comfort, especially when it came from a lover, but they could make things warm still. He moved his mouth lower, licking down his neck. “You’re so beautiful,” he murmured against his skin, before pulling back yet again to look at him.

His cock ached and as he worked to unlace him.

---

“I wanted to be so beautiful for you…” He had worked hard to get everything he could just the way Anders had imagined. He looked down as Anders unlaced him, curious what Anders would think of the cock he’d given himself. He’d wanted something thick and it was obnoxiously so, but very long as well. Better to cover both bases than leave his mage wanting.

---

Anders’ eyes widened and he reached for him, incredulous. He pulled him up into the hand, feeling the weight of him. “...Um, wow.” He was huge. His cheeks were bright. He’d made himself that huge for him? He wrapped his fingers around him and started to stroke him, just trying to wrap his mind around it as well.

---

“Is it what you wanted?” He smiled, amused by his reaction. He knew it was a bit silly. “I know what I had was enough to be satisfying. But you wanted something thick so I thought I would try just being larger overall.”

---

“It’s… larger.” It was more than he’d wanted, but it would be lying to say he didn’t want to try it. He’d never seen a cock so large. Perhaps some that seemed to come close, but certainly nothing that could surpass it. Maybe it wouldn’t be good… or maybe it would be. “You’re going to fuck me, right?” Tonight?

It would be harder to be quiet with that thing, but he was willing to try.

---

“If that is what you want.” He knew it was. He made a soft sound and rocked his hips into the stroking the more it got to him. “I think we will both struggle to be quiet. But when I checked on the others, they were deep in sleep…”

---

He was so hard. So hot. He answered him by pushing him back so he could start to shove his trousers down and off. He took hold of his cock again when he was bare, stroking it and using it to ease him back in his lap. He was so stunning, the lust had completely taken over him in a way that Justice did not like, but that was making his body pound in time with his pulse.

“It is. I want you to fuck me,” he murmured, far more lewd than he usually was with him.

---

Noah began to work at Anders’ underrobes as he settled back into his lap, his fingers quickly growing desperate as he fed off of Anders’ lust. “Then I will. As many times as you like tonight…” He would leave him completely spent and satisfied.

---

Anders helped, shrugging off the material and letting it fall behind him. He started to shift then, needing to lay back so they could move on to the next step.

---

He eased over top of him, grinding into him as soon as their hips fell together on the cot. He kissed him deeply, hungry for him and wanting to try out the new cock he'd designed for him. As he kissed him, he reached for the oil, able to find it blindly after so many nights of seeking it out.

---

He returned the kiss, his hands running all over his body, touching and squeezing wherever he could reach. He seemed keen on his rear, though, grabbing a handful every time he found it again.

He was so excited for this that he was aching and was even clumsy in the kiss, so eager.

Noah smiled against his lips as he kept grabbing his ass. It seemed the mage liked that there was enough meat on his bones now that he had an ass worth grabbing. He pulled off of him just enough to get the oil open and slicken his hand, first coating Anders’ cock in it so stroking would be more pleasant for him, then giving himself a generous coating.

---

While he worked, Anders took the opportunity to look between them. He was intimidated, but intrigued. The idea that his lover could change that particular part of himself whenever he wanted had him hotter still. He wouldn’t though, he wouldn’t ask him to change it unless it was too much. He didn’t want to be so greedy.

He parted his legs further, welcoming him to give it to him whenever he wanted.

“I will change it whenever you like. It just takes a little time and effort.” He wouldn't think he was being greedy. He positioned himself between his legs and used some gentle healing magic as he eased himself in to keep him as comfortable as he could.

---

Even though there was a lot to see above him, he couldn’t help but stare between them, though as soon as he was breached, his eyes slammed shut and his toes curled. He made a whimpering sound, being filled in a way that he never had been before, though all of the sex he’d had lately helped, as did the magic.

He was slow and gentle as he pushed into him and once he was all the way in, he paused there. He pressed soft kisses to his jaw, giving him time to adjust. “Is it alright?” He knew it was a lot to take, but he hoped it wasn't too uncomfortable.

---

It was intense. His body was not ready for that and his thighs trembled, but the comfort helped. After a moment, he nodded. “It’ll take some getting use to.” He opened his eyes and looked at him, being hit again with how incredible he looked. A beautiful stranger that he loved.

---

“I can change it if it is not what you want.” He began to move inside of him slowly, giving him some stronger healing to help him with the friction. “I want it to be perfect…”

---

He probably ought to, just for practicality sake, but he wasn’t writing it off yet. He whimpered again, his eyes shutting. It was easier to take it in that way. “Noah…” He didn’t want him to stop. He wanted him to keep moving, even though each shift brought with it soft sounds from him.

---

“I love you, Anders.” He loved him dearly. He took him slowly and gently, wanting to give him more after the way Anders had been aching with lust but afraid to hurt him. His hand moved down to seek him out, stroking him to give him a distraction.

---

He moaned weakly, his hand falling to the one stroking him and pulling it up to his mouth. He pressed his hand over it, so Noah would muffled him when he continued to whimper and it wasn’t as disruptive. Not that his sounds were all that loud, but he knew it wouldn’t take much for that to change. Not with as intense as it felt.

---

It was a shame to have to silence him. He would like to hear the sounds this drew from him. But he understood why and so he used it as Anders guided to keep him quiet. He began to take him a little harder and faster, something closer to a normal pace and he pressed soft kisses to his neck.

---

Since his hand was busy, he took over the task of touching himself. He moaned again, his thighs trembling harder. His eyes were squeezed shut and they seemed to strain with effort. Every shift was drawing sounds from him. He eventually ended up hooking his legs around his waist, clinging to him as he took the thorough treatment.

---

He wanted to ask him questions. If the pleasure was drowning the discomfort enough for him. But now wasn’t the time - Anders was strained and shaking and he didn’t want to break his thoughts away from taking all of this in. He could ask him when they were finished. He kept the pace as it was, not meaning to overwhelm him and usually preferring a gentler tone with their sex anyway.

---

The longer it went on, the better it felt. He harder he stroked himself. “Noah,” he gasped against his hand, his every breath creating heat and steam against his skin. As predicted he was growing louder. The pace was plenty. The way he was being stretched was providing so much sensation that he didn’t need it to change.

---

He nuzzled his nose against his neck when he heard his name, so warm and so affectionate. He wished he could pull his hand away and hear him better, but as he grew louder, it was even more necessary to keep his hand pressed to his lips. As much as he was concentrating on Anders’ comfort and pleasure, it was getting to him as well and he sucked on his neck, using the contact to muffle his own groaning.

---

Anders tightened his legs around him, restricting his movements unintentionally. He was putting effort to not get carried away, but it was difficult. His cock was rubbing against him with so much pressure that his own was leaking with every thrust. The beads slid down from his tip and joined the oil to slicken him. He needed to cum with him deep inside, far deeper than anyone had ever been inside him.

---

He didn’t mind the legs tightening around him, able to move past it well enough at such a relaxed pace. He groaned against his neck again, feeding off of Anders’ pleasure and feeling himself throb within him. He wouldn’t last much longer and that was alright with him, wonderful as this was.

---

He was entirely lost and it was only a while longer before he was cumming with a cry. A loud cry, even muffled, his cock throbbing sharply and his muscles attempting to, but failing to tighten around the flesh inside of him. He writhed and every shift made him that much more aware of him and it made him writhe even more.

---

He clamped his hand firmly over Anders’ mouth, hoping that it at least muffled him enough to keep from waking the patients. He didn’t sense alarm from them in the other room, so it was promising. It didn’t take but a handful of thrusts for him to finish as well, gasping against his neck as he filled him with a thick load, his hips growing erratic before they eased to a stop.

---

Even when he stopped, it took a while for Anders to still. He was panting, taking deep breaths through his nose since he couldn’t get enough air through his mouth. Finally his eyes opened and he looked up at him, a little dazed from the entire experience. “...We’ll keep it for now.” Maybe he’d have him change it eventually, but for now, he wanted to try that again.

---

He withdrew his hand once he felt Anders could keep quiet and when he spoke up, he chuckled. “I am glad you enjoyed it. I just hope my magic is enough to keep you from being sore tomorrow.” Or perhaps Anders would like that. A little reminder of what they had done.

---

He smiled. “If not, I have magic of my own.” He looked at him intently, his heart still racing. His thighs still shaking, while he remained inside. “You’re amazing,” he blurted out without thought. When he did think about it, he decided he wasn’t wrong. He was and he was currently captivated by him.

---

The words surprised him and he smiled. “Amazing? You are sweet to say so. I do not think I am all that different from any other Compassion.” Though he supposed Cole had made him at least somewhat different.

---

He snickered. “You’re the only Compassion that would fuck me like that,” he reminded him, watching him with a lazy smile. “I think you’re very different.” The comfort he provided to others wasn’t all that different, but the difference came with what he gave him. To him, he was far, far different than his Compassion.

“How do you know? With a body and an opportunity, they all might fuck you.” He kissed his lips softly. It was odd to speak so lewdly, but it amused him.

---

It amused him too and he smile shifted into a smirk. “You think?” That was a far cry from spirits would never do such things. “You wouldn’t mind that? If all of the other Compassions wanted to try?”

“No. As long as you are happy. It does not matter what I want.” Would he be jealous? He wasn't familiar with that emotion, at least not so far as feeling it himself.

---

He looked at him with lifted brows. “I think you’re actually the sweet one,” he replied, feeling that much warmer towards him. It was hard not to, when Noah cared about his needs and his emotions more than anything. More than another person would ever be able to.

“It is simply my nature. A little sweetness is necessary for Compassion. As a mortal, you do not have to be sweet. You choose to be.” It was one of the things he liked best about Anders.

---

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t think I’m that sweet.” He was rather compassionate himself, though. At least, he was now. It was odd to think that such emotion would have come from Justice, but in some way, he could see how they intertwined. Justice just dealt with it differently than Noah did.

“Justice has made you sweeter, even if his compassion is different than mine.” He smiled softly and ran his fingers through the mage's hair. “You have not seen the other side of me. I may be more like Justice than you think. Neither of us can tolerate the wicked.”

---

He cocked his head, curious. “What do you do if you come across someone wicked?” What would he do to Meredith if he could? Did he comfort her too? The thought made his stomach harden.

“It depends. Few people are truly wicked. Many are misguided or wrong others out of desperation. Like a man who steals to feed his children. I can help them. But the ones who really mean to harm others, I see that justice is done.” He kissed his cheek. “Meredith is misguided, but not in a way that she can be helped. She is sick and there is no changing her mind. If an opportunity presents itself in a way that it will not cause harm for the mages, I will grant her a swift death. I do not like to kill, but sometimes it prevents more suffering that way.”

---

His brows lifted. He would kill her? Good. After all she’d done, she deserved it. He couldn’t even read her mind like Noah could and he knew there was no changing her mind. He nodded, agreeing that it was necessary.

He could feel Justice’s approval. It helped with the bad taste that he was otherwise leaving in his mouth.

“I will kill her when I can. I killed the men that stabbed Milos the day he came into the clinic the first time because they hurt and stole from him for their own gain, not out of necessity. Just as Justice has compassion, I have a sense of justice as well. We are different, but not as much as you may think.” There were some people that were beyond his help.

---

He leaned up and kissed him, though the movement made him whimper again. He was still inside and the shifting made him ever aware of him, even when he was soft. “We’re lucky you decided to come to Kirkwall.”

---

“I am glad I was needed here. I am glad you needed me.” He gave him a little more healing magic as he eased himself out of Anders and shifted to settle beside him on the cot, wrapping him up in his arms. “I knew you were special that very first night I snuck in here and held you while you slept.”

---

It felt good to be called special, though he tried to be humble about it. He wasn’t really that special… just different. Again, mostly because of Justice. Without Justice, Noah probably would’ve never visited him. He probably wouldn’t even like him. He’d changed a lot over the years.

---

“I do not know if I would have visited you. It is likely, you needed me even in your younger years and I’m sorry I was not there.” He wished he could have been there and eased his suffering when he’d needed it most. He might not like Anders then as much as he did now, but there was no way to know.

---

“You can’t apologize for something you didn’t even know about.” He hadn’t been completely alone, either. Sometimes his Compassion would come to him in his dreams and comfort him. That was when his healing really took off. “There’s no point in dwelling on all of that, anyway.”

Despite his words, a thought occurred to him. One that made him wary and that he didn’t want to speak. If he could find people that needed him, like every other Compassion spirit, then did he know about everyone or just those around him? What limits were there to his senses?

---

“I do not know about everyone. That would be much too confusing and much too loud for me. I usually hear those near me, but great suffering can draw me from further away sometimes. Sometimes I am drawn to a new area and I do not even know why, I can only assume it is the Maker’s guidance.” He assured him gently. “I did not know of your suffering or I would have been there for you.”

---

He bit his lip. As long as the Maker did not take him away from him. He didn’t want him to go anywhere for more than a day or two at a time. There was more than enough suffering in Kirkwall so there was no reason he should have to go anywhere else. The information made him a little solemn. It wasn’t himself he was thinking of, but his mother, but he tried to quickly push that aside, not wanting to draw attention to it or dwell on it.

“It’s alright. It was a long time ago.” He wasn’t sure any time would be long enough for some of the things he’d gone through, but he could cope with it.

---

As quick as the thought was, he had caught it and he kissed him gently. “I have comforted many mothers over the years who lost their sons to the Circles. Perhaps I comforted yours as well.” He would like to think so. “If I must leave, I will always come back to you.”

---

He looked away from him. Perhaps, perhaps not. He didn’t even know if she was still alive to need comfort. Even if she was, did she still mourn him and miss him? Or did she pretend that she didn’t have a son? He supposed he couldn’t blame her if she did, not if it was easier for her.

He frowned. He didn’t want him to leave, though. Who knew how long it would take for him to ‘come back’? What if he couldn’t ‘come back’ for a year?

---

“I could find out if that would make you happy. But I do not know how long it would take and right now, I am needed here.” He doubted Anders would send him to find out about his mother. There was likely little comfort to be found in the answers and he knew how much the mage didn't want him to leave.

---

He shook his head. He didn’t want that. If he really wanted to find out, he would’ve gone himself. He didn’t want to know. If his parents were still even alive, seeing his mother would mean seeing his father. Even if it didn’t, there was no guarantee that he would be wanted or welcome. The chances of anything good coming from it were so slim that he didn’t want to try.

---

“Then I will stay. I just wanted to offer.” He was a little relieved. He wouldn't have wanted to bring him bad news. He no longer needed to heal him so instead he used his magic to give him comfort, giving him an affectionate nuzzle with his nose.

---

He took in a deep breath, soothed by his magic. He wasn’t even aware that he was being soothed by it, it was so subtle. He still didn’t want him to go, though. “I love you,” he murmured, shutting his eyes and cuddling close.

---

“I love you too. You are so beautiful…” He had been enjoying hearing Anders thinking about how attracted he was to his new appearance. He wanted the mage to know he thought he was gorgeous as well. He might not understand what mortals found attractive in each other, but he knew he liked the way Anders looked.

---

At that, his eyes opened. It felt really good to hear. He had assumed that Noah was attracted to him, since he wanted him as he did, but he had never expressed it in any way but physically. “Not compared to you,” he countered, since he definitely was objectively far, far more beautiful than him now.

---

“That is because I made myself beautiful in your eyes. It is not an accurate comparison. I think you are far more beautiful.” He gave him a little smile, glad that he liked hearing that.

---

He shook his head. “We could ask anyone. They would agree with me.” Even Milos, probably, and Milos liked him. Hell, Milos was his boyfriend. “I wasn’t kidding when I said you are going to get a lot of attention now.” If he kept himself visible, anyway.

---

“It does not matter what they think. So long as they are not afraid of me.” He chuckled under his breath. “Congratulations on your new boyfriend, by the way.”

---

He felt a little sheepish. “I sent him home early because I didn’t want to disturb my patients.” Then he ended up fucking Noah anyway… He couldn’t help it. He was so captivated by him and the attraction was still keeping him warm.

---

“He did not mind. When he left he was just excited about your night together. I can watch the clinic that night in case there is an emergency.” He could let Anders just enjoy the night out without worrying about anything.

---

“I would appreciate it.” He leaned in and kissed him. He reached up and traced his ear. “As far as tonight… you said you’d fuck me as many times as I want.” He didn’t want their night to be over, not yet.

---

“You would like to go again?” He asked with an amused smile, shifting his weight to settle over him again. He hadn't expected him to want more after he'd stretched him so much, but he was happy to give it to him.

---

Anders smiled and reached for his hand, pulling it up to cover his mouth with mischievous eyes. He pressed a kiss to his palm and then let go of the hand so he could wrap his arms around him and pulled him flush against him. He wanted him to fuck him at least once more before he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Right on schedule, Milos arrived at the clinic to pick Anders up for their night together. He had been looking forward to it and now that the time had arrived, he was ready to celebrate as much as they could in the time they had. If there weren’t any disasters, they could close the clinic and get going, but if he had to wait for the healer to finish with patients, that was fine with him too.

He stepped into the clinic and immediately his eyes fell on a stranger inside - he usually gave the patients no more than a glance but he couldn’t help but stare. It was an almost impossibly beautiful elf and he was looking back at him as if he knew him. After a beat he realized that this wasn’t even a patient, as he was helping clean the tables. Was this one of the people that had been helping with the food kitchen? “Hey…” He said with a smile when he was finally able to drag his eyes away from the elf to look at his boyfriend.

---

When Milos stepped in, Anders was relieved that it wasn’t someone else. If it was, he would’ve been happy to help, but he didn’t want anything delaying his date with Milos. The man had been so patient and understanding with him, he didn’t want to put him off any longer. He was sure even if it had been a patient that Noah would’ve stepped in to help as soon as Milos showed up, but still, he was glad he didn’t have to push someone off on him.

“Hey,” he replied, stopping what he was doing and moving closer to him. “Good timing. The last person left ten minutes ago.”

---

“Good timing indeed.” Milos moved in to meet him and wrapped him up in an embrace. Maybe it was a little inappropriate while someone else was there, but he was feeling a little possessive of him with the gorgeous elf in the room. He looked to the man again. “Hi, I’m Anders’ boyfriend, Milos.”

“We’ve met.” Noah said with a little smile, not slowing in his work. He was amused by the insecurity he was feeling from Milos and the confusion that followed when he spoke up.

---

The embrace surprised him, simply because he wouldn’t have expected him to be so affectionate in front of anyone. Since it was Noah, he really didn’t care, so he returned it, though he did draw back when Milos addressed him. His brows lifted a little, also surprised that he was already bringing up his status.

It didn’t take a leap to realize why and he felt a little sheepish, knowing he was going to have to talk to him about it. “Oh, it’s just Noah. He uh- he figured out how to change his appearance.”

---

Milos looked between them when the embrace broke, his eyes wide. “...Noah? Um, wow...you chose an interesting appearance.” Of course one that was ludicrously good-looking. Though he guessed most people would probably choose to be really attractive if they could choose their appearance.

“Thank you. I wanted to be what Anders likes best.” He said, giving the healer a warm smile. He was so glad he’d made him happy.

---

Anders went bright red. “It’s not really what I like best.” Noah had based it on how he pictured him… But even Anders knew that wasn’t actually true. He didn’t look at all how he’d pictured him. He’d pictured him as plain. Instead, Noah did look exactly like what he would want, because the thoughts Noah had worked from had been absent. Had been from when he was falling asleep and his true desires had surfaced.

“I told him to choose his own appearance, but… you know, he can read thoughts and all. He kept asking me what he should look like and I guess he just… pieced something together.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Anyway, we should probably get going.”

---

Noah nodded his agreement. “It was what he likes best for me. He finds you attractive too, it’s alright. He asked me to choose my appearance and I just chose based on his fantasies.”

Milos kept his cringing to a minimum, but failed to hide it completely. “It was nice to see you, Noah. We should really be going.”

---

Anders could not have been more red if his face were in a fire. “See you later, Noah.” He took Milos’ hand, dragged him to his staff, threw it on his back, and started to the door, forgetting everything that he’d planned on bringing in a bag on his desk.

---

Noah wasn’t sure why the two of them were so flustered. He cocked his head a little as he watched them. “...Alright. See you in the morning, Anders. I love you.”

Milos flushed even deeper. “Bye Noah.” He couldn’t get out the door with Anders fast enough.

---

The mage was on the same wavelength and as soon as they were out the door, he took a breath. He’d been holding it and he was still hot in the cheeks even as they put space between them and the clinic. “...So how are you doing?” He could address all that, but unless Milos wanted to talk about it, maybe they didn’t have to.

---

“Better now that I have you to myself.” He said with a strained smile, but he was relaxing the further they got from the clinic. Not that he would ever truly have Anders to himself with Justice involved, but it wasn’t quite like having Noah around. It would be nice to have a night to themselves.

---

He looked at him. “...It’s not what it seems like.” He didn’t really know what it was like. He was finding himself increasingly infatuated with Noah. He was incredibly attracted to him and it made a world of a difference in how much he wanted to touch him and why he wanted to touch him. It wasn’t all that different to how he felt about Milos and if there was a difference, it was that it was more intense with Noah… but he liked Milos. He really did like Milos.

---

“I figured as much. Nothing is quite as it seems with you. It keeps me on my toes.” He didn’t like the difference in Noah, but what did it change? He already knew what sort of relationship the two of them had. It shouldn’t matter, but it did make the jealousy sting that much more.

---

He gave him a small smile and stroked his hand with his thumb. “Besides, it would’ve been a bit silly if he ended up looking just like you…” He was trying to make him feel better with flattery.

---

“I could see that getting confusing.” He appreciated the attempt and his eyes softened a little, though his smile was still strained. He definitely liked Noah better when he looked like a corpse. He just had to swallow down this jealousy so he could enjoy their night night together, but it was harder than he expected.

---

He felt bad. He could tell he didn’t like it, but he wasn’t going to push Noah away. He wanted him more than ever and they had a connection that he wasn’t willing to give up. He didn’t blame him for feeling this way. He would probably feel the same way if their positions were reversed, but he just couldn’t give him what he would want.

He pulled him to a stop so they could look at each other. “...I understand if it’s too much. I don’t want it to be too much, but I don’t want you to resent me, either.”

---

He stopped and met his eyes, though he would have preferred they kept walking. The wound was fresh and he didn’t really want to confront it right now. “It’s not too much. I made my peace with you being with Noah and it’s not fair for me to be jealous about it now.” Though he hadn’t expected Noah to be able to turn into the most beautiful man Anders could dream up at the time. “I’ll get over it. It just stung a little, that’s all.”

---

He looked at him intently, then he leaned in and pecked his cheek. “Are you sure? I really don’t want you to resent me.” It would upset him for them to get into this only to have him turn around and hate him for having this… relationship with Noah. “I don’t want you to regret giving this a chance.”

 ---

The kiss made his smile warm up to something more genuine. “I’m sure. I really want this, Anders. I know what you have with him is different from what you could have with a person...even if he looks like a person now.” A really gorgeous person at that.

---

There was a beat, then he nodded. It was different… but he was starting to see that it didn’t have to be. Even though he wasn’t even mortal, even though they were completely different in the eyes of the Maker, the thing that had kept him from feeling drawn to him in that way was his appearance. As awful as it sounded, the change had made him go from looking at him as companion who he connected with intimately to looking at him as a lover.

---

“I don’t want to let anything ruin our night together.” He squeezed his hand gently. “We’re here to celebrate tonight. You and me.”

---

He nodded again. “Okay, if you’re sure.” He gave him a tug so they could keep walking. “So, are there any surprises I should know about? Or is that being greedy?” He’d already promised to bring chocolate, after all.

---

“I like to camp comfortably, so I brought supplies for us. But don’t get your hopes up for any extravagant surprises.” He followed along, glad to be on the move again. The sooner they got out of town and on with their night, the better. “I would have liked to have a gift for you, but I didn’t have enough time to throw something together. It’ll just be another excuse to see you again once I have something.”

---

He shook his head. “You don’t have to get me gifts.” That wasn’t what he meant by a surprise. Unless it was something like more chocolate. “I-” He stopped suddenly. “Oh shoot, I forgot what I was going to bring.” Including the blindfold.

---

“Oh...I guess we’d better go back then.” He didn’t want to, but Anders would need his things. Perhaps he could just wait outside while Anders ran in and grabbed whatever he needed.

---

“...No, no it’s okay. It wasn’t much. We can make do with what we have.” He gave him another tug to keep them moving. “I’m sure you brought plenty and if not, I know how to survive in the wilderness.” And they weren’t really even going to be in ‘wilderness’ as far as he was aware.

---

“I brought plenty. And there won't be much ‘wilderness’ where we're going. I don't have many survival skills and I don't plan to make you use yours.” He was relieved that they could keep going and leaned to kiss Anders’ cheek. “...Also, I'm sorry I was so forward in the clinic. It's early for me to be territorial just because you're in the room with some pretty boy elf, but I got a little protective.” Possessive was the more accurate word.

---

He chuckled. “I’m flattered that you like me enough to be jealous of some pretty boy elf.” He nudged him. He wouldn’t want him to continue acting that way, but it was fine. He understood. “I told Noah that you would think him more beautiful than me. Deny it all you like, but I’m certain that deep down you agree.”

---

“He is more beautiful.” He admitted without faltering. “He's the most beautiful person I've ever seen. He almost doesn't look real. But I'd take a ruggedly handsome man like you over some pretty elf any day.”

---

Anders snorted. “...Ruggedly handsome?” He looked at him skeptically. “I think you need to reevaluate your concept of ruggedly handsome. Hawke is ruggedly handsome. I am not ruggedly handsome.” Maybe he was… raggedly handsome.

---

“He's ruggedly handsome, I'll give you that. But you're ruggedly handsome to me.” He gave him a smile. “You're rugged compared to the city boys I'm used to.”

---

“Well then, if you prefer ruggedly handsome men, then I am lucky you did not meet Hawke first.” He nudged him again. “You are  rather handsome yourself.” For a ‘city boy’. “Hell, even Varric. He’s a bit more put together than Hawke, but have you ever seen a dwarf like that?”

---

“I haven't. I think more dwarves should go beard-less. It's a good look.” He nudged him back. “I like ruggedly handsome men, but I like sweet men better. I think you have Hawke beaten in that department. And I'm glad you find me handsome, you hang around with a pretty attractive crowd.”

---

He smiled. “You’re right, of course.” He did think he was sweeter than the rest of them, but that wasn’t what he was agreeing with. They were an attractive group. “So you fit right in.” He swung their hands. “So I know what kind of men you like. What kind of women do you like?”

---

He snorted and helped to swing their hands. “See? You're sweet.” He considered the question a moment. “I like women that are strong and independent. I guess I'm just not into soft features in women either because I'd choose a girl that's sexy over one that's cute any day.”

---

“So I’m lucky you didn’t meet Isabela first either.” Not that Isabela would be interested in more than a fling with him. Isabela was very sexy. Definitely one of the sexiest women in Kirkwall.

---

“Isabela would have really been my type in my younger years for sure. But not now that I have a daughter.” He chuckled. “If I was on the market and looking for a woman, I'd want an Isabela but I'd need her toned down considerably.”

---

“Yes, I wouldn’t want her around my children either.” Not that he had any, but if he did, he would think her a bad influence. “She’s a fun woman, but her virtues are meant for adults.” He was curious what his wife had been like, but he didn’t particularly want to bring her up right now.

---

“Yeah, she's fun. Just not relationship material.” He squeezed his hand. “You're a much better fit for me. And I don't know how much or how little you'd want to become involved with my daughter's life, but you're a much better fit for her too.”

---

He had thought about that quite a bit. “I would like to be, but I think we should wait a while.” Just to make sure they still wanted to be together. “I still think we should take it slow.” He didn’t want to get in too deep before they were ready for it.

---

“I think so too. I'd still like you to come out to the ranch for a day with us soon, but I think we should take a really gradual approach to spending time with her.” He raised their joined hands and kissed the back of his. “It makes me happy that you do want to get to know her.”

---

“I’ve always wanted children,” he admitted. “I just wouldn’t have any of my own.” Not anymore. There was too many reasons why he couldn’t.

---

“I understand. You've got a lot going on. Willow is at least old enough to understand that you may not always be around.” For many reasons. “I think you'll like her though. I know I'm biased, but she's about as good as you could ask for if you ever wanted a daughter.”

---

“Well, hopefully I’ll see that for myself one day.” He looked at him and then continued on, eager to get to where they were going. “So, is it the same chocolates as last time or are they different?”

----

“Different chocolates. I got some variety for us. And I want Justice to try one too.” He lead him past the stable, not needing to use it since trusted at least one of the horses he brought. “He told me I didn't need to bring him anything, but I think he should still try chocolate for himself.”

---

His brows lifted. “You had a conversation about chocolate?” Unfortunately one of the things he’d put in his bag was a carrot, so he wouldn’t be able to give Lady her treat, but he didn’t think she’d mind. What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.

---

“Well, he told me that I was in a relationship with him too. I thought it would be polite if I offered to bring extra chocolate for him but he wasn't even sure he'd really like it since he hasn't tried it except through you.” He shrugged a little. “I know he's not thrilled about this, but I wanted to include him at least a little.”

---

“He said that?” In a way, he understood where Justice was coming from, it just surprised him that he would consider himself in a relationship. He was sure it wasn’t in the sense he was thinking and he received the confirmation as soon as the thought crossed his mind.

He was quiet for a moment. “He appreciates your effort, but he says you do not need to worry about involving him.” There was a pause, then he went on. “...But he said he will try the chocolate, if that’s what you want.” He was sure Justice wished for all of them to be less involved, but he also knew that Justice supported their relationship… if only to discourage his relationship with Noah.

---

It wasn’t a surprise that Justice didn’t want anything to do with this. But when he went on, he smiled. “I’d like that. I think he’ll like it.” If it warmed Justice to him even just a little, he’d be pleased.

---

He found it curious that Milos was putting in so much effort. He wondered if Justice had made it seem as if he would intervene in some way, so he was trying to keep him happy. If that was the case, though, he figured that Milos would have said something. As it was, Justice denied such things.


I have not intervened in some time. There was a little frustration there.

I know, I know. I wasn’t accusing you.

---

Eventually they came upon the carriage he’d used on their first date, which had one of the white mares from before but this time her partner was Lady. “Thanks for waiting on us, girls.” He said, stopping to pat each of the horses on the neck. As usual, Lady sniffed at his pockets for treats.

---

Anders went right to his horse. “Hello, Lady Patchwork.” He stroked her neck. She hardly knew him, as he hardly knew her, but he would like to know her better. “You’re looking lovely this evening.”

---

“She always looks lovely and she knows it.” Milos chuckled and moved to grab a bag from the carriage. He plucked a bundle of carrots from it and went back to Anders, handing him two of them. “The other two go to her friend Echo. We can’t have the ladies getting jealous of each other.” He said as he moved to the white mare and offered her a carrot.

---

He was pleased to see the carrots and he moved closer to offer her one of them. “There - do you like me more now?” He met her gaze and stroked her neck as he let her munch on the carrot, waiting until she finished to offer her the second.

---

Milos watched her and smiled. “See the way she’s pawing the ground? She’s happy.” And when he saw the horse start to nose the mage, he chuckled. “And she’s greedy. But that’s enough treats for now.”

---

“I’ll bring you more later.” He left her to it, moving to the carriage and climbing in the passenger side, as he had before. He set his staff aside and waited to see where he would be taken to.

---

He hopped into the driver’s side and got them started, headed in the same direction as he had the first night. It felt appropriate to camp near the lake where things had begun for them. “I think she might like pulling the carriage. She really likes Echo so I decided to see if she did well with a mature mare to guide her.”

---

“It seems she’s doing well to me.” He didn’t really know how to gauge a horse. She was being as any other horse he’d come across, so in his eyes, she was capable of anything they were. He knew it wasn’t actually that simple, but maybe Milos was doing such a good job that he simply couldn’t tell the difference.

---

“She is. She’s a good girl.” He leaned into him a little, lulled by the gentle bounce of the carriage and the steady sound of clomping hooves. “Are you hungry? I brought some things for us to cook over the fire if you want.”

---

“I am always hungry.” He had eaten. It was late enough that he hadn’t thought Milos would bring anything in the way food, unless it was for morning, but he had, he could always eat. “What did you bring?”

---

“I brought some fish filets I cleaned earlier and some vegetables. Including a couple extra carrots for Lady and Echo in the morning. And eggs for breakfast, just laid this morning.” He hoped Anders liked everything he brought. He wasn’t exactly much of a hunter if they had to scavenge for more food.

---

“Sounds good to me.” He slid his arms around Milos’ and watched the world pass them by. “At least it’s a nice night out. Imagined if it rained,” he teased.

---

“I actually prepared for that. I brought stuff to make a tent in case the weather turned on us.” He said with a little smirk. “I'm not an adventurer. A farm/city boy has to be prepared for these things.”

---

“Oh, look at you,” he teased, smiling. “You should tell me more about your time as a boy.” He really hadn’t told him much and he was curious about him. He wanted to know what he’d been like when he was young.

---

“As a boy?” He smiled and shook his head. “It really wasn't all that interesting. I grew up on the horse ranch and I envied the city kids. I thought I was too good for mucking horse stalls all my life. So as soon as I was old enough to leave home, I apprenticed under a blacksmith in Kirkwall.”

---

“You’re brushing over a lot,” he insisted. “Did you have siblings? What were your parents like? Are they still around?” He wanted details.

---

“Just my sister, who is keeping Willow for me tonight. I think you'll like her. My parents...well, my da's probably still around. He was my hero growing up. He was so strong and smart… the animals really seemed to respect him and so did people when we came into town. But he caught the eye of some lady in town and he left us for her. I guess I don't know where he is now. My ma was good to us. She was a sweet woman and she did the best she could to raise us up and keep the ranch going when he left, but she died of a broken heart. She got sick when he left and she just got weaker and weaker until her body finally gave out.” He sighed softly. Maybe if he'd known Anders then, things would have been different.

---

He’d mentioned his sister before, so that was expected. He looked at him sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Milos,” he murmured, leaning a little of his own weight into him and tightening his arms around his. He hadn’t thought it would be such a somber topic, but considering his own parents, it had certainly been a possibility.

---

“It's okay. At least until he left, I had a great childhood. Things were simpler than they ever were in Kirkwall. We have a tiny little pond on our land, so I lived a little boy's dream - when the ranch work was done I could swim, play in the mud, chase frogs around. I was a really happy kid.” He smiled softly, leaning into him in return.

---

He smiled. “That sounds really nice.” For a time, his childhood had been happy too. Really happy. He just didn’t think about that anymore.

“It was. And now that I've got a kid of my own, I still have an excuse to play in the mud and chase frogs once in awhile.” He chuckled under his breath. “What did you do for fun when you were a boy?”

---

His smile grew. “Oh, I mostly got into trouble. I had a lot of friends in my village and we were always running around and getting into things we shouldn’t.” He had been a popular boy and despite the trouble he got up to, the adults always seemed taken with him. Probably because he’d known when to suck up and how to present himself.

“I could see that. You look like trouble.” He teased and turned his head to steal a quick kiss from him. “I got into a little trouble now and then too.”

---

He smirked. “Trouble seems to follow me everywhere I go.” He lowered his head to rest on his shoulder, content with the ride. “So stick around and you’ll find yourself in some trouble too.”

“I could use a little trouble.” He rested his head on Anders’ and relaxed further, enjoying the steady sound of the hooves ahead of them. When he found a nice spot by the lake, he brought the horses to a stop and looked around. “You're the more experienced camper. How does this place look to you?”

---

“Looks good to me. Let’s set up camp so we don’t have to later.”  Maybe they could take a dip again after. He hopped down from the carriage to find the actual spot they’d be settling in. There was a lot of growth around  the lake, but he found a nice bare patch where they could get a fire started as soon as they found some wood.

He got the horses settled before helping Anders find some wood for their fire. It was trickier than he expected to find enough to cook their meal and if he'd realized that, he would have packed some firewood. Once they got their fire going, he got their meal roasting over it and stood back, satisfied with their work. “I think we're in business.”

---

For Anders, it was any other night outside of the city. He was use to this, even if he wasn’t a fan. When it wasn’t for work, it wasn’t so bad, though. “Perfect,” he agreed. He stretched and then relaxed and went on, “What do you think about chocolate for the first course?”

---

“I'd never say no to chocolate for the first course.” He got out the chocolates he'd brought, taking a piece for himself, then offering them to Anders. “Go ahead. But after you've had a piece or two, we should have Justice try a piece.” He was celebrating with them, even if he wasn't thrilled about them dating, and it was damn good chocolate.

---

Anders took the chocolates eagerly and was quick to pop one in his mouth. He was still a little bemused by all of that, but he’d agreed so he nodded. “Okay, but only one. I want the rest,” he teased, taking another and trying to savor it this time.

---

“That’s between you and him. If Justice tries to eat more than one, I’m not going to try to stop him.” He laughed and took another for himself. Hopefully the spirit would only want one, he didn’t want to share too many of them either.

---

After he finished the chocolate, he offered the box back to Milos so he could hold it while he gave control to Justice. It was but a beat later that the spirit came forward, somewhat sheepish. He’d agreed to this as much as Anders had, but he really didn’t think it was necessary. Still, it was nice that Milos wasn’t trying to simply ignore his existence.

He’d never eaten anything before, but he knew what to do, so he reached for one of the chocolates and, after looking it over, took a bite from it. There was something awkward to his chewing, but his brows rose. He knew what it tasted like from Anders eating it, but the flavor was much stronger this time. He slipped the rest into his mouth, seeming to be thinking about it as he finished it off.

When it was gone, he gave a nod. “I think I better understand why mortals enjoy eating.” It was a necessity and though he knew they could enjoy it, Justice had only ever seen food as obligation. Enjoyment wasn’t necessary. “It tastes the same as when Anders eats it, but… more.” More enough that he could figure out how he felt about chocolate.

---

He wasn’t sure what to expect, but when he got a reaction from him, he smiled. “It’s really good, isn’t it?” He thought it was a little funny that the spirit seemed to inexperienced with something as simple as chewing. “...I’m glad you came out for a minute. This is your night to celebrate with us too. If you decide you want one more chocolate, I won’t tell Anders.”

---

Justice looked down at the box, seeming to consider it. “I will let Anders enjoy it. He does not enjoy his food often.” He would prefer to let Anders have it since he knew he would appreciate it more. “Thank you for sharing it with me.” He figured that was all he wanted with him. When he offered to answer his questions before, Milos hadn’t had any for him, so there was nothing further for them.

---

“You’re welcome. Maybe we’ll come up with more things you can try.” Kissing hadn’t been great for Justice, but at least chocolate had been better. They might find all sorts of things he would like if he came forward and tried them.

---

“Perhaps, but you do not need to go out of your way to concern yourself with that.” The thought was appreciated, but it wasn’t necessary. Though he wouldn’t deny that it was nice to have some time to do what he wanted. Even if it was something as simple as being able to look where he wanted to look.

---

“It’s not any trouble. You’re a part of this relationship and I want to include you. Even if it’s something as small as trying a piece of chocolate.” It would be weird knowing there was always a third party in their relationship and never even acknowledging that he was there.

---

“Thank you.” Deciding that was all, he slipped away. Anders blinked and it took him a moment to adjust, the smell of the fire filling his senses. He saw Milos holding the chocolates and he reached for the box, wanting them back. “Did he like it?”

---

“He did.” He snatched one more piece for himself, then popped it into his mouth before he moved to check their food over the fire, giving it a little turn. “He just took one piece. He said he’d let you enjoy the rest.”

---

“That was nice of him.” He thanked the spirit and Justice agreed that the chocolate was surprisingly good. Anders smiled, moving closer to the fire. He took another chocolate himself and then set the rest down, so he wouldn’t be tempted to eat them all now. “So… after we eat, should we go for another swim?”

---

“Sure, that sounds good.” He gave him a coy little smile. Whatever got Anders’ clothes off of him. “Then when we get back and dry off we can finish off those chocolates.”

---

He sat down on the ground, getting comfortable. “Hopefully the water’s a little warmer for you.” Or not. Then he would have an excuse to stay close to him.

---

“You’ve got ways of warming me up if it’s chilly.” More ways than one. Their meal was finished and he pulled it from the fire so they could split it. “Dig in.”

---

Anders took his share eagerly and dug in, as told. It tasted good and he sighed in satisfaction. “Not bad. If you were trying to butter me up, I’d say it was working.” Not that he needed any buttering up.

---

“I am trying, I’m glad I’m making some progress.” He knew he didn’t really need to butter him up. But it was their first overnight together as a couple and he wanted it to go really well for both of them. He sighed as well and rubbed his stomach - he’d probably packed too much food for their supper, especially after all the chocolate, but it had been too good to stop himself from finishing it.

---

“Some progress,” he agreed, wishing there was more, though there had been plenty. He knew he couldn’t be greedy, but sometimes he missed feeling full, though he was happy to settle for not feeling hungry. He leaned back on his hand, watching him. “So… what’s next in the butter-me-up plan?”

---

“To do whatever you want. Which was take a little swim, unless there was something you want to do before we do that?” The bit of exercise might help him digest. He’d also be content to just lounge around with him...at least until their blood inevitably got heated, anyway.

---

He chuckled and after a moment, pushed himself to his feet. He quickly stripped and, leaving his clothes in a pile on the ground behind him, he lead the way to the water, much like last time.

---

That answered that question. He pushed himself to his feet as well and shed his clothing, following just a few paces behind Anders. The water wasn’t frigid, but it was still chilly and he gave a shiver as he waded in.  All the more excuse to stay close to his boyfriend.

---

Deciding he ought to work for it, Anders wasted no time swimming further into the lake, heating the water around him. He turned back to look at him, smirking, “It’s rather nice tonight isn’t it?” He was prepared to swim backwards, further away from Milos If he tried to approach.

—-

“It will be.” He smirked and swam after Anders to pursue him. It would feel even better when he caught him, but for now, it was nice to chase him since the water was a little warmer in the mage's wake.

---

When he started to catch up, Anders twisted in the water and swam away, enjoying the chase. He even sank down in the water, trying to lose him as he changed directions and swam as far as he could before he had to surface.

It was dark enough that it was hard to keep track of him when he submerged, but he did his best to guess where he was going. The heat of the water was his best indication of how close he was, but even using that, when he surfaced he found he was farther from Anders than where he started. He wasn't deterred and with a laugh, he resumed the chase.

---

 

He grinned and continued to flee from him, though when he dipped down this time, he started in his direction so he could try to grab him beneath the water and surprise him.

His surprise worked and he gasped when he collided into the mage. He laughed and tugged him up to the surface again, stealing a winded kiss from him. “There you are…”

---

“You’re lucky I let you catch me,” he murmured, sliding his arms around him and pulling him in to warm him. He could’ve continued to toy with him, but he knew the game would only be fun for a time.

---

“I had a plan if you weren’t going to let me catch you.” He was shivering, though the exercise had helped to warm him a little, and he settled eagerly against the heated man. He stole another kiss from him, this one a little softer and sweeter.

---

 “Yeah? What was your plan?” He brushed their lips together, not quite kissing him. Still playing. He was having fun with him and he wasn’t eager to completely bring it to an end.

---

“I was going to pretend I was drowning so you would come save me.” He nipped at his lips as they teased him. “I’m a terrible actor though. You probably wouldn’t have bought it.”

---

“Probably not.” He stroked his back beneath the water. “Would you’ve been terribly mad if I didn’t come to save you?” He brushed his up the center of his bottom lip. Then he nipped the tip of his nose.

---

“No. But only because you wouldn’t be convinced.” His hand slid lower to find his ass and give it a squeeze. “You’d come save me if I really needed you.”

---

“How are you so sure? Maybe I’m not the healer you think I am.” Not that being a healer really had anything to do with saving someone from drowning, but that wasn’t really the point. He was enjoying their banter and the touches.

---

“Because you’ve saved me once before.” He nipped at his jaw. “Twice, if you count my stab wound. It wasn’t deep, but it could have gotten infected.”

---

“Maybe I’ve changed my mind about you.” He kissed him and then tipped his head so he could kiss down his neck. Maybe not.

---

“Maybe. I guess it would be a gamble on my part if I really started drowning to get you to come back to me, wouldn’t it?” He made a soft sound as the kisses trailed along his neck and his pressed his hips into Anders’.

---

He hummed and then after a while of tasting his neck, he pulled back. “Wanna move to the shore and get all muddy?” It might be fun to roll around on the muck and then clean off when they were done making a mess of themselves.

---

“I never mind getting dirty with you…” He took hold of his arm and began tugging him back toward the shore. He was hungry for him after their games and he looked forward to kicking off the more intimate part of their celebratory night.

-----

The night went by far too quickly for Milos’ taste. It had been so much fun to not only indulge in both his company and his body, but to fall asleep at his side and wake up in his arms. He was still smiling when he returned his boyfriend to Kirkwall in the morning, glad that they’d had this opportunity. It would be nice to spend the day with him too, but they were both needed elsewhere. “We’ll have to do this again.” He said as he walked him back to his clinic.

---

“Next time I’ll remember to bring my own carrots for Lady.” Milos had had his back though and, as promised, he’d been able to give Lady another carrot in the morning. Anders saw it is bribing her for affection. “And a blindfold,” he added, though they’d more than made up for the lack of blindfold.

---

“Lady will appreciate any carrots you bring her.” He chuckled. “Yeah, we were plenty busy without the blindfold. But next time, we’ll bring one. I’m just glad you’re interested in a ‘next time’.”

---

“Why wouldn’t I be? Was it that bad?” he teased, tightening his hand around Milos’ as they walked. He was eager to touch him as much as he could and so the entire had seen their hands held.

---

“I wouldn’t be worried about you wanting a next time if it was bad.” He nudged him, taking him along the road at a leisurely pace. He was in no hurry to drop him off. “I’m just...glad you’re as happy as I am.”

---

“Oh really? You don’t think I have any standards? Or you think I like you enough that you don’t have to meet my standards?” Joking aside, he thought what he had to say was sweet. He was happy, though he couldn’t deny that his thoughts had wandered to Noah more than once through the night. Anytime he had a moment to think, he’d filled his mind - it was hard not to miss him when he was so use to having him around and he was so eager for his company.

---

“I think I’ve charmed my way into meeting your standards. You lowered them just for me.” His own mind had wandered to Noah more than once. He was a bit jealous that the spirit got to spend most nights with Anders the way he had. But as far as he could tell, he’d kept his distance and truly let them have the night to themselves, so he was grateful for that much.

---

“You think I’ve lowered my standards so much that I don’t need good sex?” He used his grip on his hand to tug him in. “I don’t know about that… Luckily it wasn’t bad,” he murmured, having had a lot of fun the night before. “Besides. I haven’t lowered my standards at all.” ...Though maybe his standards had risen a little ever since Noah had changed the way he looked.

---

“I’m glad I’m still up to par, if you haven’t lowered your standards.” He squeezed his hand and stole a kiss on the cheek once he was pulled in close. “It was good by my standards too.”

---

“I told you, you fit right in.” He stole a kiss of his own, copying the placement of his cheek. Though they were moseying along, as they got closer to the clinic, Anders couldn’t help but be excited, knowing Noah was waiting for him. The thought warmed him so, though he tried to keep his thoughts on Milos while they were together.

---

He smiled when he was kissed in return, so pleased with the open affection in public. They were officially a couple, after all. When the clinic was in sight, he held in a sigh. “The lantern is lit. He must have started work early.”

---

“Oh, maybe he’s been working all night.” He never did get tired, after all. Or maybe had been off elsewhere during the night and had returned early, though he doubted it. He imagined he’d wanted to be here just in case.

He pulled them to a stop at the door, knowing it would be better than letting him walk him inside. “Thanks for such a nice time.” He leaned in and kissed him, eager to get inside, even if there was already someone in there.

He kissed him back, letting it linger a long moment before he broke it. “I'm glad you had fun. I'll come back to visit as soon as I can. Hopefully tomorrow.” He'd do what he could to see him again as soon as possible.  

---

That surprised him. Tomorrow was rather soon, wasn’t it? A visit wouldn’t hurt though and he knew Milos was excited about their new relationship. He was too, of course.

“Alright, then maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you soon.” He kissed him one more time before he turned to head back for his horses. There was a spring in his step and a smile on his lips.

Inside, Noah was sitting at Anders’ desk, jotting down notes on a spare piece of parchment. He'd seen a handful of patients through the night and had gotten through the usual morning rush and so he was occupying himself while there was a lull in people in need of him.

---

Anders saw Noah at his desk and he smiled, surprised to see him writing something. “Hello…” He moved closer to him, happy to see him. He’d missed his company through the night, having had a hard time getting to sleep with his thoughts on him.

“You are back.” He smiled as he rose from the desk to meet him. He wrapped his arms around him, wanting to touch him after their night apart.  “You should tell me all about your night with Milos.”

---

He wasn’t sure if he hadn’t been aware of him or if he was simply speaking to speak. He hugged him and then met his gaze, eager to look at him, as always.

“It was a lot like our first date - it just lasted longer.”

“It must have been good then. You enjoyed your first date with him.” He could sense that he was happy, but it might make him happier to tell him about it anyway. He moved a hand to his cheek, caressing it lightly with his thumb. “Did you get any sleep? I can run the clinic longer if you need rest.”

---

“I got as much sleep as I get lately.” He’d been kept up by Noah plenty and it had been about the same with Milos. He’d had enough sleep to function, so he’d be okay. “What were you doing?” He asked, tipping his cheek into his touch.

“I was making a list of things I need to pick up for the clinic. I went through some of your supplies with the people who needed them last night.” He looked rested enough and he was glad for that, though he was sure Anders had been up much of the night having fun.

---

“We could go together,” he suggested, wanting to spend some time with him too today. Justice was bemused, as he’d been everytime Anders’ thoughts had wandered the night before.

“If you like. I do not mind going for you.” But he knew he wanted to stay close to him. It was sweet that he missed him even while he was with Milos. He leaned in to give the tip of his nose a peck of a kiss.

---

He smiled. “I do like.” The only question was when. They could go now or maybe later, Noah could stop by again and they could go to the market for an hour during the day.

“A little later. I would like to just enjoy your company for now.” They weren't desperately low on anything so there was no rush. “I missed you.”

 

---

He chuckled. “It was only a night.” They spent nights apart all the time, though not lately. ...As if Anders hadn’t missed him just as much. He was getting really caught up in him lately and he wasn’t even entirely aware of it. Justice had refrained him telling him because he wasn’t sure it was a good idea for Anders to realize the growing attachment.

---

“I know. But that did not stop me from missing you.” He'd gotten spoiled to having him every night. The clinic had felt so quiet and empty without him, even though the nights in the clinic were typically quiet while the man slept anyway.

---

“Me either,” he agreed, pulling back from him. “I’m going to clean up a little - did you finish the list?” He wanted to groom, though he was looking pretty good considering how messy he’d gotten the night before.

---

“Not quite. I will finish it while you clean up.” He kissed him, then released him to head back to the desk. His writing was not in common, but in strange-looking runes. The same long-dead language as the song he liked to sing.

---

His eyes lingered on him for a long moment and then he tore them away so he could get ready. He was used to looking pretty run down, but he tried to do the best he could with what he had and it helped a lot that he had the new robes from Milos - he looked far more put together these days thanks to those alone.

He brushed his hair and pulled it up and, as he did so, got an idea. When he was done, he moved over to where Noah was finishing his list and began to brush his hair. “I’m going to braid your hair,” he announced, starting to do exactly that.

---

Noah set down his quill and sighed softly, closing his eyes. “That feels nice. I have never had my hair brushed by someone. Or braided, for that matter.”

---

“It does,” he agreed, though he hadn’t had his hair brushed by someone else in a long time. “I’m not the best at braiding, but I use to do it for some of the girls in the Circle.” His fingers seemed to remember what to do and he did a somewhat complex braid starting at the crown of his head and working his way down.

---

He liked to run his fingers through his hair and massage his scalp, but he'd never considered brushing it for him. He'd do it that night when they were settling in for bed. “I could not braid my own hair. I never knew how.” Cole didn't know how so neither did he.

---

“You had hair in the Fade?” Or did he simply mean when he had looked like Cole? He remembered that he’d said that he didn’t really remember his true form, but perhaps that was a small enough detail that he remembered that much.

---

“No, I had no hair.” He knew that much for sure. “I only meant since I have had a body with hair. I think the different way people wear their hair is interesting. I just do not know how to do any of them.”

---

“Do you like the way I do my hair?” He’d done his hair like this for a long time. “I use to wear it all up, but it’s faster and easier just to do it half-up.” He could let it go completely and he thought he looked nice like that, but it was better to keep it out of the way.

---

“Yes. I like to see some of it loose. But you tie enough back to be practical.” It wasn’t as intricate as some hairstyles he’d seen, but there was something aesthetically pleasing about simplicity as well.

---

He chuckled. “All about practicality, huh?” He finished with the braid at tugged at it here and there to get it to lay nicely. Then he pulled back. “Done.” He cocked his head as he looked at him. “You look nice.” He always looked nice, but it was interesting to see him a little gussied up.

---

He smiled, using his fingers to carefully explore the braid. “I like it. As long as you think it looks nice, that is what matters.” He did want his appearance tailored to Anders’ preferences, after all.

---

Anders snorted. “You don’t even know what it looks like.” He stroked his own fingers down the braid as soon as Noah’s were out of the way. “Maybe one day I’ll get a mirror so we can both see ourselves.” A mirror bigger than the broken one that was barely enough to shave in. He leaned in and pressed a kiss to the top of his head.

---

“We should get a mirror. I would like to see myself with you.” How they looked side by side, as a couple. Though he knew that Anders was more of a ‘couple’ with Milos.

---

“With me?” He found that interesting. “What do you mean with me?” He was assuming he meant he wanted Anders to be there when he saw himself… for the first time? He wasn’t sure if Noah had happened by a mirror. He assumed he must’ve used one to settle on his appearance, but maybe not.

---

“I want to see myself next to you. What we look like together.” He knew that was probably irrational and he didn’t know why he wanted to see himself like that, but he thought Anders and Milos looked good together as a couple and he wanted to see what he looked like beside him.

---

He was charmed by that. “I don’t know about that. You might realize how much better you look than me and decide you don’t want me anymore.” It was said teasingly and that was how he meant it, but deep down there was a tiny flicker of truth wrapped in insecurity.

---

“It does not matter how I look. You are beautiful to me.” He rose from his seat, taking his scrap of parchment and tucking it away into his pocket. “I just wonder if we look good together the way you and Milos do.”

---

“Well, at least Milos and I are about the same level.” He moved in and slid his arms around him again. “It’s cute that you want to look good together.” Not that they were together. The thought made his cheeks warm in a way they would not have before. There was no reason why it should fluster him, yet for some reason it did.

---

“I know you and Milos are the real couple. I am just curious if we look good together too.” He wrapped his arms around him in return and set his head on his shoulder.

---

He was flustered even more when he addressed the thought. “Shh,” he muttered, sheepish. “I’m sure we do.” Anders knew he was attractive, he just also knew that he wasn’t as attractive as Noah. It didn’t really matter to him, he was more than happy to be able to look at him. Beyond that, he was happy to be able to spend time with him and share in the closeness that they’d had before he’d ever changed his appearance.

---

“I am only as beautiful as you imagined me. I could never match your natural beauty.” His own was just a superficial glamour. It wasn't the same. He stroked his back absently. “I love the way that you look.”

---

“I know, it’s okay,” he assured him, not wanting him to think he was that insecure. There was a little bit of insecurity there, but barely. He was just… He wasn’t sure. “We’ll get a mirror,” he repeated, so Noah could look at himself and them together. “I don’t know where we’ll get a mirror, but we’ll find one.” Mirrors were rather expensive, as they were tricky to make, so he didn’t know how he would get his hands on one, but it was a goal.

---

“Then I could see what my braid looks like too.” As if he would still have it by the time they got their mirror.  He didn’t seem in any particular hurry to go anywhere though. His head was still nestled against the man’s shoulder and he was content to simply inhale his scent and feel the heat of his skin.

---

When it seemed that Noah had no intention of breaking the embrace, Anders eased back. “Are you alright?” He just wanted to make sure. He seemed okay, but he also seemed a little… somber? No, not somber. He just wasn’t as preoccupied with running off to do whatever he needed to do during the day.

---

“I am alright.” He released him then, realizing that he was starting to worry the mage. “I am just being ...a little selfish, that is all. I am sorry, it is not like me to cling this way.”

---

“You’re not being selfish…” He slid his own hands down to find the spirits’. “I’m glad you want to be near me.” He was a little sheepish still, considering their entire conversation so far, but he meant it.

You’re both being selfish. He should go so he can do what he needs to do before we go to the market later. Justice was tired of their… Whatever it was they were doing. It was much too like Anders’ behavior around Milos and, disconcertingly, not enough.

---

“I do want to be near you.” He agreed, glad that it made Anders happy that he was acting this way. It shouldn’t matter what he wanted but if it was what Anders wanted too, then perhaps it was alright. He knew he’d had a good time out with Milos, which he was glad for, and that he’d likely want to spend more nights with him like that. So it didn’t feel too selfish to enjoy him now.

---

Anders ignored Justice, though no so far as to defy him. He stole a kiss from Noah, glad that no one had stopped in while they were caught up in each other, then pulled away completely. “Okay, come back whenever you’re ready to go.”

---

“Alright. It should not be too long.” He said and with that, he vanished. They both had work they needed to do. He doubted that he’d missed much at the Circle since he wasn’t away much longer than he would have been on any other night, but he was anxious to get back and check in on everyone.

---

Just after he vanished, Anders quickly added,  “I love you.” The night before, he’d walked out without replying. He hadn’t wanted Milos to hear him telling the spirit that he loved him, so he wanted to make up for it this time. He wasn’t sure how quickly he moved while he was invisible or whether or not he was still there to hear him, but as far as he was concerned, Noah had heard.

Chapter Text

Since Hawke was off on personal business that was supposed to take a week or so, Varric knew he wasn’t going to see Anders anytime soon. After bringing his beau to Wicked Grace, he imagined it would be a couple of weeks before he graced them with his presence again and without any missions to drag him out of Darktown, he imagined that none of them would be seeing the mage any time soon.

That was fine by him - he was happy to let him be. The more time he had to do what he was doing, the better, as far as Varric was concerned.

The only thing was that Varric had been hoping to speak to him, sooner rather than later, and so he was going to have to seek him out. He didn’t mind making the trek to Darktown, but he much preferred it when Anders came to Lowtown. It wasn’t nearly as depressing and he knew the sunlight did the pasty man good. Besides, he just liked being the sort of man that people came to, regardless of if they had a reason to see him or not.

Hopefully he wasn’t too busy to talk to him, but if what he’d heard was correct, and he was certain it was, Anders had some help around the clinic these days.

---

Anders’ help in the clinic was busy working with their only patient. An elderly man who saw Anders regularly for chronic issues with his knees. The man was silent and fixated on the elf in front of him, who held each of his hands but stood out of the way so the healer could work.

“You should not be dishonest with Anders about taking your medicine. I will write you a note to help you remember to take it. ...Yes, I know your son did not write this month, but that is no reason to stop taking care of yourself. He will be cross with you when he comes to visit if you are not taking your medicine.” Noah scolded gently, having a one-sided conversation with the man sitting on the table.

---

When Varric arrived, he was glad to see that it wasn’t busy. Anders seemed to only have one patient and Varric’s first assumption was that the elf standing nearby was with the old man. When he heard what he had to say, however, he quickly realized this wasn’t the case.

Varric’s second assumption was that this was another patient and that he was psychotic, but if that was the case he wasn’t sure why Anders would let him talk to another patient.

Varric leaned into the doorframe, folding his arms over himself and watching the one-sided conversation with interest. He wasn’t going to interrupt - he was curious to see where this was going.

---

There were several beats of silence, then the elf spoke up again. “...No, I do not think he has forgotten you, Ray. If he misses his visit next month, I will go check in on him to make sure he is alright. In the meantime, you must take your medicine for Anders. Let me write that reminder for you.”

When Noah broke contact with the man, he seemed to snap out of whatever trance he’d been in. As the elf turned away from them to grab parchment from the desk, he looked to Anders. “Thank you, healer. My knees feel a lot better.”

---

“You’re welcome, Ray,” Anders replied warmly. “Once Noah finishes writing your reminder, you’ll be good to go. We’ll put it in your bag with your medicine.” He helped him down from where he was sitting and as he did so, he saw the doorway was occupied from out of the corner of his eye. He looked over and his eyes widened slightly, going immediately to Noah, which the dwarf caught. When Anders looked back to him, Varric stepped inside.

“Afternoon, Blondie.” He nodded to him and then to the old man. “Ray.” He didn’t know him, but he’d caught his name. He’d also caught the elf’s name and he studied him curiously.

---

The old man’s concerns were loud enough, that he hadn’t heard the dwarf enter. Noah looked to Varric and his brows lifted a little. He’d at least seen enough to be curious about him from his vantage point in the doorway. He continued in what he was doing, slipping the parchment into the bag with his medicine and handing it off to Ray, who thanked him and waved to all of them, including Varric, on his way out.

---

“Hey, Varric.” Anders was quick to move closer to him, wanting to draw attention away from Noah. He could see that the dwarf had already observed too much and, knowing him, he wasn’t going to let it go until he was satisfied with the answers he got. “What brings you here?”

“Do I need a reason? Maybe I just wanted to see how you were doing, Blondie.” He had a reason and they both knew it, but he could beat around the bush a little. “Who’s your friend?” The question was posed innocently, but he was obviously interested.

“His name is Noah,” Anders answered vaguely. “Come on Varric, don’t play coy. What’s up?”

---

Noah was equally fascinated with the dwarf. Anders really liked this man and he liked what little he could sense about him from this distance. He gave Varric a smile and a nod, but knowing that Anders was trying to get an answer out of him, he busied himself with cleaning up the table they’d used.

---

“Coy? I’m never coy. For example, I heard your friend talking to Ray… and Ray didn’t say a word.” There. That was hardly coy, wasn’t it?

“...He’s a mage.” It was a lame explanation, but it was all he could think to stay.

“I didn’t know mages could… read minds?” He doubted that was what the man had actually done, but it definitely been odd.

“No, of course not.” Anders was quick to reply. “He knows Ray. He has to have these talks with him all of the time and it’s always the same stuff.” He didn’t feel good about lying, but it was necessary.

For a moment, Varric said nothing, waiting him out. When Anders fidgeted, Varric clicked his tongue. “Come on, Blondie. I know all your tells. What’s all this about?”

---

“He knows you too well, Anders. He does not believe either of the things you have said about me.” Perhaps he bought to some degree that he was a mage, but none of what he saw that been explained by him being a mage anyway. “It is nice to meet you, Varric. I have heard good things about you.” He set the rag aside when the table was cleaned and turned to face them.

---

Varric wasn’t impressed. Anyone could’ve guessed that - he’d made it rather clear that he didn’t believe him. “Likewise. If you’re the mage that’s been helping him out, then I’ve heard a little about you too.”

Anders looked surprised and Varric snickered. “Come on, Blondie, you think word hasn’t spread about your friend?” If that’s what they were. “So… what’s the deal?”

The mage sighed. “He just helps me with the clinic when I’m busy - I wish I’d had him sooner. It’s nice to be able to leave the clinic open when I’m not here to open it.”

“I agree completely - you work too hard.” Varric left him to it because it was what he wanted to be doing, but he did think he could use the help.

---

Perhaps he'd been letting too many people remember him if word was spreading. But it couldn't be helped when he spent full days working at the clinic sometimes. “I am happy to help where I am needed.”

---

“So, what brings you here, Varric?”

“No, no. There’s something going on here…” He didn’t know what it was, but he wasn’t letting it go.

“It’s nothing, Varric. It’s nothing I want to talk about.” He didn’t want anyone knowing what Noah was. No one but Milos and only because Milos had to know.

“Just give it to me briefly then.” He was a little concerned, just because of the way Anders was being about it.

---

“I am here because I am needed here. There is nothing to be concerned about.” It was sweet that he would worry about Anders.  “If you like, I can leave so you can talk to him privately.”

---

Anders felt cornered and looked between them. He would have to address it or Varric would continue to poke and prod and perhaps front of someone else. That was the last thing he needed. “You can’t tell anyone else,” Anders warned him, looking at him seriously.

A little too seriously. Varric was amused, but he kept it off his expression. “Cross my heart,” he agreed, waiting expectantly.

“Okay… he’s not a mage. He’s a spirit.”

There was a beat, as if Varric was wanting for more and then he looked at Noah. “A spirit,” he repeated, skeptical. “Not a mage like you…” With a spirit inside him. But a spirit.

---

“Not a mage. I am Compassion.” He could see that Varric wasn't convinced and he smiled. “To my knowledge, I am the only spirit walking Thedas in flesh, but I am trying to help Justice do the same.”

---

He still wasn’t convinced, but Varric looked back to Anders. “Of course he is. Of course he’s with you. Maker, Blondie, I should just stop writing about Hawke and make you the protagonist for all my stories.” Not actually - his stories wouldn’t be nearly as thrilling with Anders as the hero, but they would certainly be interesting.

Anders bit his lip. “He came to Kirkwall to help those that need him and he found me…”

---

“Anders needed me. Many people in Darktown do. The mages do as well.” He agreed with a nod. “I know your pain is dull, but I could help you as well. You do not want to forget Bianca or her promises, but I could help the ache when you do have to contact her.”

---

Varric’s eyes widened, finally hearing something that couldn’t be surmised from the conversation. He was deeply uncomfortable and even upset that he knew about Bianca’s promise. He’d never spoken about it. He’d never even written about it. It was something that survived only in their memories and it was violating to hear it brought up by someone else.

“...Well shit.” He stepped closer to him, trying to see any sign that he wasn’t mortal. The only thing that was strange about him was how oddly attractive he was. Even Varric could see it.

---

“I do not mean to impose on your thoughts. I hear people's pain whether I wish to or not.” He moved a little closer as well, inviting him to study him. “I tailored this appearance to Anders’ preference, that is why you find me attractive. The mortal appearance I originally had was rather homely.”

---

Anders’ could hear what he was about to say and he started to speak, raising a hand as if to physically stop him from saying it. At that point, however, it was too late and he brought his fist up to his mouth. “Noah… you’ve got to stop telling people you made yourself attractive for me.”

Varric was intrigued as could be. “For Blondie? Why’s that?” He looked at Anders, amused by the flush building on his cheeks. Surprised too, considering the fact that, one, this was a spirit and, two, he was supposedly in a relationship with someone else. Ignoring that entirely, he was talking to a spirit… a spirit in their world. It was incredible and his hand twitched, as if he wanted to fill it with his quill.

---

“I love him and want him to be happy. It is alright, Milos knows about me.” There was no scandal to be had on that front. He cocked his head a little. “Am I so interesting to you? You have spoken to Justice before. I am not all that different.”

---

The dwarf couldn’t tear his eyes off of Anders, whose hand had gone flat and was currently crawling up his face, now covering his entire mouth and his cheeks. His own brows rose and rose. “Huh - I didn’t know spirits could love mortals.” How on earth had this happened? And when? As far as he was aware, this was coming out of nowhere.

He had to tear his eyes away from him when the spirit went on. “Of course you are. I wouldn’t really say that I’ve spoken to Justice before.” They’d never really had a conversation, but they had technically talked. Briefly. “Besides, you’re here on your own. How?”
 

He wanted to hear all about it.

“Varric,” Anders voice was a little higher than normal. “I’m sure you want to hear everything he has to say and I’m sure he’ll tell you everything, but this isn’t a good time.”

---

Noah hadn’t understood Anders’ distress, but he was picking it up loud and clear. He moved to his side, touching his arm lightly. “It is alright, Anders.” He looked back to Varric. “I will tell you the story another time. You should talk to Justice sometime though. I like to talk to him.”

---

Anders didn’t really care of Noah told him everything… just hopefully not the bit about them being intimate, though he was sure the dwarf’s mind had already gone there. He was more concerned with making sure it didn’t spread further than that. “You can’t tell anyone, Varric. As far as anyone knows, he’s just a mage that’s helping me.”

Varric was curious as to why he was being so hush, hush about it, but he knew enough to know how extraordinary this was and perhaps that was all the explanation needed. “Consider my lips sealed, but I still want to talk to him.”

---

Noah studied Anders, curious why he didn’t want Varric to know about that part of their relationship. Milos knew, after all. “We can talk sometime. I am not hard to find. I am usually here or the Gallows.”

---

With that settled it was time to get into the reason he was here, though Varric really couldn’t care less about it now. He was too interested in this. Since he was here, though, he went ahead and asked his question. It was a short conversation, lasting only a few minutes, but he found out what he needed to. With that, Varric was ready to go.

“I’ll try to stop by later this week, if you’re not busy then, but feel free to come by the Hanged Man before then too…” He didn’t know when the spirit was available, so if he stopped by sooner than it took Varric to seek him out, then it would probably be simpler for both of them.

---

“Goodbye, Varric. I am glad we got to meet.” Perhaps they’d speak again soon and he could sate the dwarf’s curiosity about him. He looked to Anders, knowing that the mage would probably be more comfortable once it was just the two of them again.

---

“Me too.” With a final look at both of them, he headed out.

Anders groaned. “They’re all going to find out about you.” It was just a matter of time. If things weren’t the the way they were, maybe he wouldn’t mind, but things were complicated and he didn’t want them all involved in that complication.

---

“Why is that such a bad thing?” He asked with a slight frown, curious about Anders’ feelings on all of this. “Are you embarrassed that we have sex? You have already told the one person that it should really impact…”

---

“It’s complicated, Noah.” He let his hand fall, but he was still flush in the face. “No one would understand. Mages who have sex with demons are… Well, they’re seen as perverted. Most people wouldn’t understand how it’s different to have sex with a spirit, even if they know spirits aren’t like demons. Ignoring that, I’m in a relationship with Milos… a lot of people would look down on me for having sex outside of my relationship.”

 “For those that wouldn’t… It’s just… not their business, you know?”

---

He considered, then nodded. “I do not want you to be uncomfortable. No one else needs to know of our intimacy.” He at least understood his reasoning, though he didn’t think anyone should object.

---

He appreciated that. He moved closer to him, touching his arm. “Your honesty is sweet,” he assured him. It just put him awkward positions sometimes. He couldn’t deny that it was endearing to hear him say so simply that everything he did, he did for him.

---

“I like being honest. Lying and keeping secrets does not feel right, though I understand the necessity of both.” He leaned in to kiss his cheek. “I like telling people that I love you.”

---

“I love you too,” he murmured, unable to help tugging him in and hugging him. He didn’t hold the embrace long, since someone could step in at any time, but he couldn’t get enough of him. He hadn’t been this caught up in someone since he’d been with Karl and even that had been less than this.

---

He wrapped his arms around him for as long as the hug lasted, content to hold him while they had a moment to themselves. “Someone will be here in a moment. Broken leg.” He stole a kiss from him, then moved to the table to prepare for their next patient.

Chapter Text

A few weeks passed thus, Anders finding as much time as he could for Noah. He was spread thin between the Clinic, the Underground, and Hawke, so seeing Noah was always the highlight of his day. Milos had come by often to see him, though they hadn’t really had time for another ‘date’, so to speak. Funnily enough, one of the times Milos had stopped by he’d come with a full-length mirror. Anders had been confused until Milos mentioned that he’d once told him that he didn’t have a mirror and Milos had  thought to fix that for him.

It was an incredible gift and, guiltily, his first thought upon seeing it was that Noah would finally be able to see what they looked like together. Noah was thrilled with the mirror and with what he saw inside it. Anders wasn’t as taken with their reflections, since he was content to simply look at him whenever he wanted, but the mirror had proven incredibly useful to him and he was a little more intent on making himself presentable every morning.

Every day he spent with Noah, his heart seemed to beat harder and harder and on the occasional nights he couldn’t stay with him, Anders was sad. So sad it was hard to sleep. He was so attached to him and it was during one of these nights where he had nothing to do but lay in bed that he began to realize that this wasn’t something he could deny any longer.

He’d been denying it for some time now, knowing he wasn’t supposed to feel this way, but he did. The love he felt for Noah was deeper than the love he felt for… anything else.

He wanted to be with him all of the time and just looking at him made his heart race. He was at home whenever he was in his arms and the comfort he felt whenever they touched was indescribable. No one could make him feel the way Noah did and he didn’t really want them to.

It was hard for him to accept, especially after having settled into something with Milos, but… maybe it didn’t have to change anything. What did it matter if he felt that way about Noah? It wasn’t as if he could have a relationship with Noah, so why complicate things? He could just… feel the way he felt about Noah and continue what he had with Milos.

Yet, his gut reaction was that he couldn’t tell Milos. If he told Milos that he was in love with Noah, he wouldn’t accept it. He wouldn’t allow it. So if he was going to continue their relationship, he’d have to hide it from him. If it was something he had to hide from him, then maybe it did matter.

All night Anders tossed and turned with these thoughts, still trying to write off what he was feeling, but failing. All night Justice tried to convince him that his feelings weren’t going to get any better if he continued to let himself be so close to Noah, but it was for naught because as soon as the sun began to rise, Anders was already anticipating seeing him again, even as conflicted as he was.

---

It had been a busy night for Noah, but he still managed to get back to the clinic shortly after dawn. He appeared without warning as he often did and found Anders lying on his cot, still awake. He moved to sit beside him on what little space was left on the edge. “You did not sleep again.” He observed softly. It seemed to be a problem the mage had lately whenever he had to leave him.

---

Along with the anticipation came dread. Dread because he knew as soon as he saw him, Noah would hear what had plagued him all night. He couldn’t keep it from him, even if he wanted to.

And sure enough, as soon as Noah appeared and commented on his night, the reason why floated to the front of his mind. Even in trying to push it away, he was thinking about it, even if only to try to stop thinking about it. It was impossible and pulled the blanket up to his nose, as that would be any barrier for his thoughts.

---

He was...in love with him? He had some idea of what that meant, but it was still unfamiliar to him. He felt love in mortals all the time. Just not quite like this. “...My heart beats faster when I look at you too.” He loved to look at him. The things that Anders felt that had accumulated to his realization of these feelings were things that Noah easily recognized in himself.

---

Anders kept the blanket where it was, hiding from him. His heart was currently pounding, a mixture of the situation and what he was telling him. He didn’t know what to say to him, but all of his worries were on the surface, above even how wonderful it felt to feel love like this and to be loved in return.

---

“You do not have to say anything.” He could feel it. His excitement and his anxieties. He was caught up in Anders’ feelings and had yet to reflect on his own. He only knew that his heart was pounding in his ears and he felt almost a little faint as he tried to understand what it meant to be in love.

---

That was a relief. A small one. After a while, slowly slid the blanket down and eased himself up. He kept the blanket in his lap, needing it for reassurance. He felt like they had to come to some conclusion to move on, but he didn’t know what that could be. As such, he just sat there with him, saying nothing.

---

The longer they stayed in silence, the more it began to sink in for him. It had been one thing to have the love of someone, but this was something new. “I feel...strange.” Almost a little ill. But then, he’d heard the term ‘lovesick’ before. Perhaps it was named that for a reason.

---

He sank a little. “...Oh?” That didn’t sound good. He felt strange. What did that mean? “It doesn’t have to change anything,” he murmured, though he wasn’t sure how he was going to handle these feelings going forward. Maybe Justice was right… Little as he liked it.

---

“I do not think it is a bad thing. I have picked up on it before in people infatuated with each other. I think I am...lovesick.” It was funny to say such a thing out loud. “I feel too warm. My heart is pounding. My stomach is turning and I feel a little faint. I have felt people experience this to some degree before with their lovers.”

---

He made a sound, almost a laugh. More a sound of surprise. “That’s how I feel too.” That was how he’d felt all night. Justice was agitated and he wanted to say something, but he knew it wouldn’t make a difference. It never did with these two. He was so frustrated and it was the only emotion that didn’t fit with the rest of them.

---

“I do not think you can use your healing to fix this ailment for us.” It was no ordinary sickness. “As far as I know, there is no cure.” Though from what he had gathered, these feelings faded into something at least a little bit more comfortable over time.

---

“Noah…” He was being silly at this point. “You really feel like you are in love with me too?” It wasn’t really that it was surprising, but he didn’t know what to do about it. A spirit and a mortal couldn’t be in love. That sort of love is what relationships were for. He was supposed to fall in love with Milos and no one else.

Well, it’s too late.

It isn’t.

---

“I believe so. I felt this way a little before, but I am having all of the symptoms at once now that I know how you feel. So I think I am in love too.” He looked at him thoughtfully. “I think you have developed these feelings for me faster than you have for Milos because we are together so much. I think you will fall in love with him too in time.”

---

He didn’t think that was the only reason why, but he was still adjusting to the fact that he was feeling this way at all. “...Does it mean anything to you?” He wanted to know if being in love with him meant something to the spirit. Or if nothing would change for him. If that was the case, maybe they could continue on as they were. He’d just have to decide on what he was going to say to Milos, if anything.

---

“It means a lot to me. I have done something to earn this sort of love from you. I am so fortunate…” What had he done to deserve Anders’ love? He wasn’t sure, but despite how ill he was feeling he was happy.

---

“Earn?” He didn’t want to look at it that way, that his love was earned, but he supposed he was right. He’d done all of the right things and Anders wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anyone. “What do we do?” Maybe Noah was the wrong person to ask, but he was the one he was in love with, so who else was he going to ask?

---

“Are we supposed to do something different? We already act as lovers do.” He at least didn't know of anything else that people in love did besides enjoy each other's company and intimacy. “It just...means more now.”

---

It seemed that for Noah, nothing had changed. So taking that in stride, all he had to decide was what it meant for him. He didn’t want anything to change either, not if it would be for the worse, but he didn’t know what do about Milos. It felt wrong to pretend he wasn’t feeling these things, but if nothing changed… did it matter?

“Should I tell him?”

---

“I usually think honesty is best, but if it does not change the way you feel about him, perhaps it is kinder not to tell him.” But if he felt differently about things with Milos now, perhaps he should tell him.

---

He didn’t know if it did or not, but he didn’t want to say that out loud. “...Okay.” He wouldn’t tell him. It would just be inviting drama and he knew that Milos was already insecure about Noah, though to his credit he did a good job of keeping it to himself. “Okay, we should get ready.” Noah didn’t need to get ready, he was just speaking in plural because they did a lot of things together these days.

---

“Maybe we could start a little late this morning…” If no one desperately needed them. He took his hand, meeting his eyes. “I think this is an important day.”

---

He glanced down at their hands and then up at his eyes, his pounding heart picking up. “What do you want to do?” He was assuming he wanted to have sex, since that was what they often did in their time together, but maybe he just wanted to spend some time together before they separated for the day.

---

“What do people in love do?” He asked, stroking his thumb over the back of his hand. “What did you imagine you would do with someone when you fell in love again?”

---

“I don’t think that I’ve ever fallen in love.” Not properly. In an attempt to try to ease some of the tension he felt, he fell back on a joke. “I don’t know… have kids and buy some property?” That was actually what he’d imagined his life would be at one point, but not anymore.

---

His eyes widened. “...Can we do that?” If there was some magic for men to do that, he didn't know about it. But maybe since he was a spirit and not truly a man, it was possible. It was probably a joke, but he struggled to pick up on humor occasionally.

---

His eyes widened as well. “Which part?” He sounded somewhat alarmed. Of course, he had to mean the second part - they couldn’t have a child. Physically or otherwise. As far as buying property… well, he wasn’t adverse to the idea, he just didn’t have the coin and he didn’t think he’d ever have the coin for that. Besides, he probably ought to be planning to live with Milos one day, rather than buying his own place.

---

“Have children. Can we do that? Through magic...or if I take a female form?” He was alarmed by the idea as well. “Is that what we do if we are in love?”

---

Through magic, no. If he were female, he had no idea, but he didn’t want to think about it for multiple reasons. He didn’t want Noah turning into a woman - that was a little too fluid for his taste - and he didn’t want to have a child. He couldn’t have a child of his own. He didn’t have the time or the resources to take care of a child and even if he did, he would not risk having a child with a spirit. There was no telling what what would happen if it actually worked.

“It’s what a lot of people do when they are in love, but not everyone. I not having children, Noah.”

---

“Then why did you…?” He flushed a little. “You were joking. I misunderstood. That was silly of me.” But he was relieved.

---

“It was a joke, but it’s also the truth.” He’d asked him what he’d imagined he would do when he fell in love. That was what he’d imagined. It didn’t mean it would happen or that he even wanted it to happen that way, but that’s what he use to want. Deep down, it was still what he wanted to some degree. Just not enough to give up everything else.

“I don’t think anything is going to change.” There was nothing they’d be doing differently now that they felt this way… Maybe they’d just spend more time together. Not that that was really possible, but Anders would be lying to say that he wouldn’t like it.

…He’d gotten in deep, hadn’t he?

You have and it’s less time that you need.

---

“I am sorry we can not fulfill what you had imagined for falling in love. But I still think I can make you happy. You would not have fallen in love if you were not happy with me.” His free hand moved to Anders’ cheek, stroking it gently.

---

“It’s alright, Noah. No one can have everything they want.” He’d accepted it and it was alright. “I am happy with you.” So happy that he was sick with it. Like Noah said. Lovesick. “I just want to be with you.” As long as he stayed nearby and never left him, he would be happy.

---

“I wish to give you everything that you want.” As impossible of an ideal as that may be. He leaned in and kissed his lips softly. “But I will settle for making you happy.”

---

He was warm and he leaned in to return the kiss. “I will miss you today.” It was so surreal that this had happened that it hadn’t fully hit him. Even spending all night stewing, it hadn’t settled. “You’re coming tonight, aren’t you?” Or was he to be busy again?

---

“I was gone all night helping there and things are settled now. I can stay with you and help in the clinic at least most of today.” He didn't want to leave him. “I love you.”

---

“I love you too.” He was partial to the idea of him staying the day, but it wouldn’t upset him if he couldn’t. He’d be sad, but they often only saw each other in the morning and at night, so it wasn’t anything he wasn’t use to. If he was going to stay, though, all the better.

He kissed him again, this time letting it linger. He wasn't sure what all of this meant, but he was starting to like the way it felt. Despite still feeling a little ill, the light-headed haze he was in was becoming intoxicating.

---

He met the kiss, already knowing what it would lead to. This wasn’t a kiss meant to end and he slid his arms around him, pulling him in against him and starting to ease back.

This was something that people in love did a lot and they already had that covered.

—-

This did feel like the thing people in love should do. But then, he would have wanted to do this anyway. He settled over him, his hands starting to wander him slowly and gently. It was early yet and they didn't need to rush, which was ideal for making love for the first time after falling in love.

Chapter Text

The next night, Milos came into town, eager to see his boyfriend. Things had remained about the same since they officially became a couple and that was fine with him. They were taking things slow and enjoyed the time they had together.

He stepped into the clinic, knowing it was open but would be closing soon. His eyes fell on Anders and he was pleased that he not only had no patients, but that Noah was nowhere to be seen. Maybe the spirit was gone for the evening and they could have some time to themselves.

---

Anders looked up and his stomach did a strange flop when he saw who was there. He wasn’t sure when he’d be by again, but suffice to say that it wasn’t a surprise. “Milos…” He stopped what he was doing and turned to face him more fully. “How are you?”

---

He smiled when he was greeted and moved in closer after closing the door behind him. “I’m great. Especially now that I’m here.” When he reached him, he kissed his cheek. “How are you?”

---

He gave him a little smile, but his stomach was still flopping. “I’m doing well.” Very well. The previous day had been a dream and the more the feelings sank in, the more real that became to him. The more scary too, but as long he didn’t think too much about the fact that he was in love with a spirit, the better he felt. “I was just getting ready to close up.”

He’d been hoping that Noah would be arriving soon, but this was nice too…

---

“Do you need any help?” He never minded helping close up the clinic, especially since it meant they could enjoy their time together a little sooner. He had something for him, but he didn’t want to give it to him until he was sure there wouldn’t be anyone else walking in.

---

“Sure.” He decided to put out the lantern, if they were going to clean up together, making his way outside to do so and to shut the door. Before he closed it, he did look around… For patients, he told himself, even if he knew that wasn’t the truth. He started cleaning up, glancing at Milos and feeling bad about what he was going to have to hide from him.

---

Milos knew the routine and so he got right to work, grabbing a rag and starting to clean up. “Was it a busy day?” It was silly to ask. The mage was always busy. But it was a good way to make small talk until he got to the real reason he was there beyond his usual visits.

---

“Not too bad.” Some days were worse than others, but today had been simple enough. “What about you? Much to do?” He got frequent updates about Lady and the other horses, but he wasn’t entirely sure all that he did on any given day, besides tending to the animals.

---

“Not too much. It won’t be too long until the mares have their babies for the season. Then things will get a little crazy around the ranch for awhile.” He continued what he was doing but when his work brought him near Anders, he didn’t miss the opportunity to move in behind him, grabbing his ass and kissing the back of his neck before moving on with a coy smile.

---

Anders jumped slightly, then smiled, glancing at him. He enjoyed that kind of playfulness and it was something he got a lot of from Milos. Something that he didn't get from Noah. The thought warmed him, reminding him, as he’d been trying to remind himself, that he was fond of the man. That he was with him for a reason.

“Are you considering breeding Lady?” He didn’t know if he liked that idea, which was odd since he had almost nothing to do with the horse and he didn’t know what effects it would or wouldn’t have for her to have a foal.

---

“Definitely not this year. She’s had enough big adjustments in her life lately. She shows interest in breeding so she should be old enough, but I think it’s better to wait and see if she likes some other kind of work instead.” He caught his glance and smirked. “I would ask you first anyway. She’s your horse.”

---

“You keep telling me this, but until I ride off into the sunset with her, I don’t think I’ll be convinced.” It felt more like he was pretending he had a horse. An elaborate farce that they were both feeding into. Well, Milos was mostly feeding into it. Anders was just going along.

---

“She’s about ready for that. Once she’s broken, you can ride her off into the sunset all you like. We could rent a stall for her at the stables here whenever you want her nearby.” Maybe she would feel a little more like his if she wasn’t at the ranch full time.

---

“We’ll see.” He doubted he would ever do that. He just didn’t need a horse, truthfully. He rarely left Kirkwall and when he did, it was with Hawke and company and it would be a bit off to be the only one on a horse. A horse that would probably get in the way as soon as they came upon bandits. Still, the thought was nice. He finished what he was doing and turned to look at him.

“So… I imagine I know what you had in mind for tonight…”

---

“You’re probably half-right.” He smiled. He meant to do what they usually did when he came for his visits, of course. “I also have a gift for you. ...And I wanted to ask you something.”

---

“Oh? So you mean to do more than cuddling?” He folded his arms over himself, though they loosened as soon as he mentioned a gift. “Milos, you just brought me a gift.” He gestured to the mirror sitting nearby. It was one of the most useful things he owned, truth be told. He loved having it and he wasn’t sure how’d survived so long without one. He was a lot more aware of himself and how he looked lately.

---

“Cuddling is on my list. Among other things.” He chuckled as he looked over to the mirror. “I’m sorry, is there a limit to how many gifts I can bring you in a certain time frame? Pretty sure I can bring you as much as I like.”

---

“I don’t want you to feel like you have to give me things.” He did feel a little guilty that he couldn’t get him anything in return. Apart from the jeweler’s kit, he’d not gotten him anything in their time together. He didn’t want Milos to feel like he had to buy his affection, especially if he was motivated by the way he felt about Noah.

---

“I know I don’t have to. I just like to.” But he was also insecure about Noah, in truth. He didn’t think the spirit did much in the way of gifts, so maybe this was something he was giving Anders exclusively. “Besides, I needed to put that jeweler’s kit to work.”

---

His brows lifted. The jewelers kit? “You made something?” His interest was perked. Not because he wanted anything, but because he was interested to see what he could make.

---

“Yeah.” He ran his fingers back through his hair looking a little sheepish. “I didn’t have much money for materials. But I was excited to try it out and make something after these years…”

---

Hopefully it wasn’t anything too much… He would feel guilty. Unfortunately jewelry was expensive, as were the material to make it. Whatever it was, he was sure he could convince him to just sell it. If he ended up making a profit, then he could afford more materials to continue plying his craft.

“Well, let’s see it.”

---

Milos grabbed a small pouch from the pocket of his trousers and handed it to Anders. Inside was a ring that was mostly made from wood, but had a thin line of gold inlaid within. Engraved on the wood was a light woven pattern to dress up the more drab portion of the ring where he had no gold. “...What do you think?”

---

Anders wasn’t sure what to expect, but when he let the ring fall into his hand, he softened. It was beautiful. He was talented, that was certain. He had no idea how he’d made it, which made it all the more impressive to him. “It’s really pretty.” He actually liked the mix of the wood and the metal.

---

He looked relieved that Anders seemed to genuinely like it despite its modest components. “I’m glad you like it. I’m making a few more things to sell. Then maybe I can buy jewels and make you something even better.” He’d been happy with his work, even if he’d only had a bit of gold to work with, and he wouldn’t have given it to Anders if he didn’t think it was up to par. Still, it was the first piece of jewelry he’d given to someone in years and he’d been nervous that he wouldn’t like it and it would take it just to preserve his feelings.

---

“...You should sell this too. I’m sure you could make some nice coin for it.” Maybe not a lot, but certainly more than the material cost. The mirror had to have been expensive enough, though he hadn’t asked. He hadn’t wanted to know, knowing that if he knew, he would feel even more obligated to turn it away. He felt bad that he was spending his time and his money on him and he’d rather he get what he deserved for it.

---

“...Do you not want it?” Maybe he didn’t like it as well as he thought. He frowned a little. “I could sell it if you’d rather I just make you something when I have more materials to work with…”

---

“No, it isn’t that. I like it, I just think you should get something for the work you put into it. It’ll be easier for you to get more materials if you can earn back the cost of everything you make.” He brushed his thumb over it, then held it out for him. “It’s sweet of you to want to make me something, I just… I feel bad.”

---

“Don’t.” He closed his hand over Anders’ and gently pushed it back toward him. “If you like it, I want you to have it. I made it for you. You don’t have any reason to feel bad about it, you’re the reason I’m able to make things like this again.”

---

He hesitated, but opened his hand to look at it. He slid it into place, finding a finger it fit on his first try. He looked down at it, studying it, then back to him. “Thank you,” he murmured, still feeling bad, in more ways than one, but closing the distance to give him a kiss.

---

He drew his arms around him and kissed him softly, glad that he’d been able to accept his gift. “You’re welcome. I was so, so happy to make something for someone I care about again.” Of course he’d made something for Willow as well. But he’d known for certain what his daughter would like. Anders had been a little tricker.

---

“And you call me sweet,“ he smiled, savoring the embrace. Milos really was incredibly sweet, an incredibly good man. Finally, for now, he forgot about Noah, and he was  happy to spend this time with Milos and Milos alone.  

“You are sweet.” He kissed him again, this time sucking softly on his lower lip. “In more ways than one.” He started to tug him toward the private nook, wanting to sit with him and cuddle up.

---

He followed him, his eyes falling to his fingers briefly, taking in the ring, before focusing on him as they actually arrived in the nook. “So, where was cuddling on your list?”

“Pretty high on the list.” He sat down with him on the cot, cuddling up to him. “I wanted to talk to you about something first. About coming out to the ranch for a visit.”

---

He hesitated. All of his uncertainty came back abruptly. “...Are you sure you want to do that so soon?” He wasn’t sure what they’d be waiting for, but everything with Noah made him think that they should slow down even more.

---

“I'm not sure, I just wanted to talk to you about it.” He took his hand, a soft smile on his lips. “Things are going really well and I met your friends a while back. I didn't want to rush things with Willow, but she's asked twice now why you never come by. I thought maybe we could try something simple like you coming for dinner sometime…”

---

“...If you think it’ll be alright.” He was pretty hesitant, but he didn’t want to tell him that he wasn’t sure it was a good idea. He was anxious about meeting the family, especially if things with Noah… Things with Noah weren’t going to change. There wasn’t any reason why it needed to change anything. “When would you want to?”

---

“There’s no rush. Maybe some time in the next month.” He could see that he wasn’t sure about it and he wasn’t going to push. “If you don’t think we’re ready for that, we can push it out further. I just wanted to talk to you and see how you felt about it.”

---

“I think that’ll be okay.” He squeezed his hand. “Maybe in the meantime, we can go to the Hanged Man together again.” It would be something to do that wasn’t just Milos coming to see him for a while in the middle of the night.

---

“Yeah, that would be fun. Maybe your pirate friend won’t be all over me this time since I’ll be old news.” He chuckled and leaned in to nip his jaw. He didn’t want his suggestion to make him uncomfortable so a new topic he could tease him about was welcome.

---

“Oh, you’d be surprised.” He didn’t doubt she’d be all over him again. “Maybe next week we’ll do that.” Then a little later, maybe he’d come to visit.

---

“That sounds good.” He nipped his ear this time. “So now I’ve given you the ring. We’ve cuddled. We’ve talked. I think there was one other thing on my list of things to do while I was here.” As he said this, his free hand brushed lightly over the mage’s thigh.

---

The nips were pleasant and he tipped his head. “I can’t imagine what that might be,” he murmured, playing coy. So coy that he didn’t return his touches, pretending innocence.

---

“No? Then you’ll be surprised…” He all but tackled him down onto the cot, giving him more little love bites along his neck and jaw. Of all the things on his list, this was the most fun.

-----

Milos cuddled with Anders as long as he felt he could get away with once they were spent, but he knew he needed to get going. He kissed his cheek one last time before he shifted off of the cot to dress himself. “I’ll come back as soon as I can.” He told him with a smile, loving the way his lover looked while he was bare and his skin was still flushed from their antics.

---

Though Anders could get up and walk him to the door, he was too comfortable. He watched him as he dressed, tucking an arm beneath his head and humming. “Be careful.” He hadn’t gotten into trouble in a while, but he still warned him to be on his guard whenever he left.

---

“I will. See you soon.” He flashed him a smile, then was on his way out to make the trek home. He was gone only a few moments before Noah appeared, finding his love looking quite satisfied on the cot. “Anders. You have had a good night.” He’d been pleased to find that Anders was not alone when he’d gotten back late and that he had been happy with Milos.

---

Anders startled only slightly. “Noah?” Had he been there the entire time? Watching them? His cheeks warmed and lower, his loins heated a little. The idea of the spirit spying on them while they had sex was… oddly arousing. Mayb it was the mood he was in, but he wondered if he enjoyed it.

---

“I was nearby, but I did not watch. I did not want to invade your privacy more than I already do.” He thought his feelings on the matter were interesting though and he moved in closer. “...I would have liked to watch though.” He always like to see Anders happy.

---

“You want to watch him fuck me?” He bit his lip, turning in the cot to lay on his back. He appreciated the privacy, but right now his mind wasn’t on privacy. It was on the heat he felt from the taboo.

---

“Yes. I could watch you and enjoy your pleasure from a whole new angle.” He took a seat on the edge of the cot. “Maybe next time I will.” It might give Anders a bit of a thrill to wonder if he was there watching.

---

 

Watch him enjoy his pleasure… The way he said it gave him a shiver of delight and the arousal heightened. He shifted his leg towards him, letting his thigh rest against him. He still felt the ache of Milos inside of him, but he knew that Noah could make the ache even sharper.

Noah ran his fingers slowly along his thigh. “You were satisfied until I arrived. Now it seems I have wound you up again.” The smile he wore suggested that he was pleased with this development.

---

He had. The touch was wonderful, his body still sensitive after being worked.

Must we?

Yes.

Anders left it at that. His cock was beginning to twitch and he started to rub his thigh against him.  

He stroked his fingers leisurely along his thigh, eventually working his way up to his cock. He stroked him slowly and gently, not wanting to over stimulate him. “I love you.”

---

He made a sound, his hips shifting as he was touched. “I love you too.” He loved him and he was ready for him, already stretched and slick, still filled and wanting more.

He considered grabbing the oil. Stretched as he was, he still wouldn't be stretched enough to take him dry. But his fingers wandered down and he pressed a couple inside of him. He was plenty slick with both oil and cum. With that settled, he rose from the cot to undress, his eyes hungry as he looked over the mage on the cot.

---

He whimpered when the fingers pressed into him and he tried to rock on them for the short time they were there. He reached for him, pulling his knees up and parting them to make room for him to climb over him.

Noah didn't keep him waiting. He was hard enough by the time he was undressed to press himself against Anders as soon as he was settled over him. It only took a few teasing rocks of his hips to be hard enough to push inside of him. “Anders…”

---

Anders moaned as soon as he breached him, his head tipping back and his arms sliding around him. He felt different from Milos, that was for sure, but there was no discomfort in taking him for once.

The warm up with Milos had helped.

“Noah,” he breathed back, lifting his legs up to wrap them around him as well. He needed that heat between them as much as inside him.

It was nice that Anders was able to take him so easily. Perhaps he should fuck him right after Milos more often. He kissed him hard as he began to thrust, using a bit of healing magic as he always did when he pounded him this way to make sure he wouldn't injure him if he got carried away.

---

It was so much better. Every time they did this, his heart throbbed and it wasn’t only with exertion. He met the kiss, his fingers digging into him and pulling him in desperately. He was too worked up to want anything less.

He gave a little shiver, often acutely aware of how cold his body was once there was this much heat between them. He fucked him hard and though he considered taking hold of his cock, he chos not too. He was so sensitive already from Milos and just the friction between their bodies would likely be plenty for him.

---

He writhed, his nails scratching as they clawed. He cried out over and over, breaking the kiss each time, but was quick to connect it again. He was so hungry for him and he couldn’t get enough, trying to claim his mouth for his own.

Each time their lips met, he kissed him with just as much hunger. He'd had him that morning before he left for the day, and yet he was so desperate to fill him again. Despite the rough snapping of his hips, there was something soft and tender about the way his hand moved up to stroke his cheek as he kissed him.

---

Though he couldn’t really react to the touch, he was aware of it. It felt incredible to be touched so sweetly and it made his heart beat that much harder. He breathed his name over and over, whenever he could spare the air for anything other than a cry. The friction between their hips was more than enough and he felt himself throbbing, threatening to spill.

---

Hearing his name like this when Anders was lost in pleasure always spurred him on to take him harder. He abandoned his lips so the other had an easier time breathing, instead latching onto his neck. He was unaware that he was marking over little marks that Milos had left there as he sucked his flesh hard.

---

The sucking was all it took. Between the pounding and the friction of his cock pressed between them, the sucking on already sensitive flesh was what pushed him over the edge. He cried again, the sound fading into desperate panting, his arms and legs to tight on him he would be bruising him in return.

---

He groaned when he felt him cum, having been so quiet until now just so he could enjoy his sounds. He didn’t have to thrust much longer to finish as well, gasping as the rush of pleasure hit him and bucking his hips as he spilled his load into him. When he finished, he slowed his hips to a stop, giving him a little more healing magic through his body in case he’d gotten too carried away and hurt him.

---

“Noah…” His hands finally loosened, sliding down and finding his ass. He squeezed it, enjoying the feel of his firm cheeks and using the grip to keep him inside him. “I love you.” He’d missed him so much all throughout the day and even having Milos, he’d still needed him.

---

“I love you too,” He kissed gently along his neck, healing the marks that both he and the human had left on him through the night. “It is sweet that you still wanted me after you have had him tonight.”

---

“I always want you.” He couldn’t get enough of him. “You always make me feel so good.” Pleasure or otherwise. He was so happy with him and that was all he could think whenever they were together. He was so obsessed with him.

---

“I hope you feel that way about Milos too someday. I want you to be happy always and if you feel that way about both of us, you will be happy no matter who you are with at any time.” But for now, he was grateful to be the one to make Anders feel that good.

---

It was the most selfless, sweetest thing he ever heard, but he knew that he didn’t feel emotions the same way he did. He would never be possessive or jealous…

Justice had been jealous, but that was different. He didn’t think Noah had it in him to be jealous and not over him. Even if he loved him. He didn’t doubt that the way they felt their love was different, no matter what Noah claimed.

He imagined Noah’s love was purer, while his own was… more visceral.

“Maybe.” He didn’t know. He wasn’t as excited about it as he had been before, but he was still invested in him.

---

“I am capable of jealousy and possessiveness. ...Part of me is very selfish.” He pressed a soft kiss to his jaw. “But I want you to be happy. I think he can give you the things that I lack.”

---

He was skeptical… and confused. “How are you selfish?” He didn’t have a selfish bone in his body. Not that he’d seen. Also, what was it he thought he lacked? He didn’t think he lacked much of anything. He was basically perfect.

---

“I spend time with you when you do not need me. It is selfish that I spend my time with you when I could still be working. But I justify that time because it makes you happy. ...And I like to watch you sleep.” He should leave once Anders got to sleep to continue his work. But he liked to stay and make sure his dreams were sweet.

               

---

He had Justice in his head enough to understand why he thought it was selfish. In a way, it was selfish. It was selfish of him too, because he wanted to spend that time with him too. “It’s not selfish to take some time for yourself,” he argued weakly. Justice, on the other hand, was in full agreement and even before they met Noah, Justice had insisted it was selfish to spend time doing things that benefited only them.

Noah wasn’t like him, though. So for him, maybe it was even more selfish for him to waste time with him. Justice was encouraging those thoughts, wanting him to take a step back.

---

“I am not mortal. My wants and needs do not matter.” He stroked his fingers lightly over his cheek again. “But I take solace in knowing I am still helping. I go if I am truly needed, but otherwise I am able to chase your nightmares away. You deserve good rest after all that you do for others.”

---

“They do.” He looked at him intently. “You matter.” He mattered beyond what he did for others. Beyond what he did for even him. Though Anders never wanted to lose what he did for him. He was really the selfish one. Noah wasn’t selfish.

---

“I do not. I exist only to help.” He had wants and needs of his own, but they were ultimately unimportant. He wanted to offer peace and happiness to any mortal he could, he just happened to find great joy in making one particular mortal very happy.

---

His hands lifted and he grabbed his cheeks, making sure he had his eyes. “You matter,” he repeated, insistent. “You’ve said it yourself… you’re not what you were before. You’re different and you’re your own person.” Maybe he didn’t have as many wants as a mortal, but whatever ones he did have were as valid as anyone else’s.

---

“You are sweet to think so.” He could see that this was important to him, which warmed him. “Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I am mortal enough to justify being just a little selfish.”

---

“You matter to me more than anyone,” he admitted softly, stealing a kiss. He was still coming to terms with his feelings, but the more time went by, the more he was accepting it. The better it felt to feel the way he felt.

---

“I have never mattered to anyone, but you taught me that I can be loved. That someone could fall in love with me.” He stole a kiss in return. “Perhaps tonight you have convinced me that I ...matter, beyond the sum of my deeds.”

---

The deeds mattered most, but… that wasn’t all they were. “Good,” he murmured, loosening his hold on his cheeks and sliding his hands down to his shoulders. “Let’s get comfortable.” They were still wound up in each other and he wanted to lay down beside him.

---

He nodded and finally eased out of Anders, shifting to lay beside him. “I love you, Anders. You are so important to me.” He needed him to know that he mattered to him just as much.

---

He smiled. “I love you too.” He turned to cuddle up to him, though kept enough space that he could continue to look at him.

“I’m having a hard time with what that changes.” And what it didn’t. He kept trying to convince himself that it didn’t have to change anything, but it clearly did change some things.

---

“I do not understand what it changes.” He went on a beat later after following his thoughts. “Or what it does not change. I know much about love and what it makes people do and feel. But I know next to nothing about being in love.”

---

“I like Milos a lot. He’s a really good man and I’m really lucky he’s so understanding, but…” He didn’t have much experience with love, either, and this was the first time he’d ever been so caught up in someone. “It’s hard to want him when I want you…” There was a reason why people were usually only in love with one person at a time.

---

“I see. But you do still want him when I am not available?” He must. He'd just had sex with him before he'd arrived and he had been happy with Milos.

---

“...I don’t know. I know that I should.” He and Noah could never have a normal relationship. They were too different for that. “I don’t know.” This was complicated and he was struggling just going with it. In having his cake and eating it too - it felt wrong and he wasn’t even sure that was what he wanted. Things were easier with Noah and they felt somehow more natural.

“I think having a relationship with a mortal is good for you. These complicated feelings for me are new. Perhaps you need a little more time to decide what you want.” He gave his cheek a soft kiss.

“It’s not just what I want.” It was what Noah wanted too and Anders knew he didn’t want anything. It made sense and it didn’t hurt him - he wouldn’t have expected him to ever want ‘anything’. It was why he had to tell himself that nothing changed.

Their relationship was what it was.

He was just going to have to figure out how his feelings lined up with that and if he could maintain a relationship with someone else that, in any other circumstance, he would be incredibly grateful to be with.

 

“I know it is not just what you want. I do not feel that what I want matters, but I know it matters to you. As long as we do not lose what we have, I will be happy.” If Anders wanted to entertain his desires, that was what he wanted.

---

“I know.” It was so simple for him. This was his struggle alone and he was sure he would get use to it. It would just take time. “I don’t know. For now, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see if I figure it out.”

“Love complicates things for mortals. I knew this already, but I understand it better now.” He nuzzled his cheek lightly. “I would like to see you and Milos happy together. He has a home and a family to welcome you into. I have neither.”

---

He nodded, “I know.” There was nothing Noah could say that he hadn’t already thought of, it was just a matter of sorting through all of it. He felt somber, which wasn’t how he ought to feel having him close, so he tried to push the subset aside. “...Goodnight, Noah.”

“Rest well, my love.” It was the first time he'd called him that, but it felt right. He was his love. He didn't want him to be troubled by all of this while he tried to rest, so he gave him a little soothing magic as he stroked his cheek.

---

It was strange to hear, but it did make him happy to hear it. The magic helped. He had a lot to sort through and he didn’t really want to sort through it while Noah was listening, so anything to stop his thoughts from straying was appreciated.

He kissed his brow, then nestled closely against him. He'd help him get to rest and hopefully he'd have an easier time working through his thoughts in the morning. To help keep his mind clear in the meantime, he began to hum his song softly to lull him to sleep.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for word of Noah to reach Isabela. It wouldn’t have been particularly interesting to her if it was just any assistant in the clinic. But she’d heard that he was gorgeous. The most beautiful elf that the patrons of the Hanged Man had seen, if rumors were to be believed. She hadn’t thought much of it the first time she heard about this mysterious man helping Anders, but the more people spoke of him, the more her curiosity got the better of her. She had to go see him for herself.

It was near closing time when the pirate let herself into the clinic, finding the elf in question wiping down an exam table. Her eyes widened and her heart quickened - he was beautiful. The thrill the sight of him gave her only grew when he looked up to her and she met his soft blue eyes.

---

When Anders looked up and saw Isabela, he had to hold in a groan. First Varric, now this. This was worse. He looked over at Noah, tempted to tell him to hide, but it was already too late. The pirate was staring at him and, like with Varric, Anders was quick to try to pull her attention to him. “What’s up, Isabela? Is something wrong?”

---

“Nothing’s wrong, Handsome. I just had to come see if the rumors are true.” And indeed they were. She moved further into the clinic, her eyes locked on Noah. “You know how to pick assistants. He’s...stunning.”

Noah’s cheeks colored just a little. It wasn’t all that unusual for him to catch the eyes of mortals these days or even for them to think rather sexual thoughts about him. They just weren’t usually thinking about them so unabashedly. “Thank you.”

---

Anders frowned deeply. “...Did Varric talk to you?” Varric had promised not to tell anyone about him. According to Noah, he and Varric had talked one afternoon and that had been the last of that. He hadn’t heard anything about the other from either of them since, but it seemed Varric had been running his mouth… probably while he was drunk.

---

“Varric?” The suggestion surprised her a little. “He knew about this and didn’t tell me?” She shook her head. “No, people at the Hanged Man were talking about some gorgeous elf working with you.” Her eyes still hadn’t left Noah. “When are you done for the night? I could take you out, show you a good time…”

Noah was a little bewildered. “I am never done. I am sorry, I am not available for...that.” He liked the idea of a ‘good time’, but not the sort of good time she was thinking of.

---

Oh. Well, he supposed that made sense. Varric had mentioned hearing about him himself. It was nice that Varric had kept his word, at least. As she went on, he rolled his eyes. “Knock it off, Isabela.” He moved a little closer to Noah himself, folding his arms over himself. “Is that really all? If so, you’ve met him. Feel free to go.”

---

“I would hardly call this meeting him. We’ve hardly spoken. Why don’t we just go for a little walk then while Anders closes up shop?” She moved closer and took Noah’s hand, though she startled a little. He was cold.

Noah let her hold his hand, used to this sort of curiosity whenever a mortal touched him, but did not look as if he had any plans to walk with her. “I am alright, I am always this cold.”

---

“Knock it off,” he repeated, a little harsher, his arms falling as he moved between them and forced Isabela to release him. There was a possessiveness to him that had not been there either time he had taken Milos to the Hanged Man. Even last time, after their relationship was made official, he hadn’t minded Isabela cozying up to him because it was Isabela being Isabela and there had been no threat.

“Noah isn’t interested.” It didn’t seem like he was interested, but Anders was speaking on his own feelings, not Noah’s.

---

“I am not interested in a good time or a walk, but maybe I can help.” The pirate was interesting to him and the way she dealt with her woes was also a fascination.

Finally Anders seemed to catch Isabela’s attention, surprised as she was when he physically got between her and the elf. “He can tell me himself what he is or isn’t interested in. What business is it of yours?”

---

Her response further agitated him. “Get out, Isabela. You don’t get to come to my clinic and try to fuck anyone and everyone you want. He isn’t interested,” he repeated, firmer, pointing to the door.

---

“What’s gotten into you?” She frowned, almost a little concerned. “You’re not usually like this, not even when I’m playing around with your boyfriend. Is something wrong?”

---

His face heated, but he shook his head. He didn’t want to acknowledge how much this bothered him in a way that it would not have bothered him if it was Milos that she was throwing herself at. Playfully, or otherwise. Maybe it was because this wasn’t playful. He couldn’t help but feel insecure and he didn’t know how his spirit would handle it.

“You have, Isabela. Have some restraint, why don’t you?”

---

“When have you ever known me to have restraint?” Maybe something bad had happened that day. She couldn’t think of any other reason he’d be acting this way.

Noah was surprised by the agitation in Anders and he touched his arm lightly. “It is alright. She is here because she is lonely. She needs someone to talk to more than the carnal desires she seeks.” His words were enough to snap her attention back to him.

---

Anders looked at Noah and gave his head a slight shake, his stress sharpening acutely. Don’t. She doesn’t need to know what you are. Don’t read her thoughts aloud. It was bad enough that Varric knew what he was, Isabela was the last person that needed to know what he was.

“Then here’s the time to learn some. Go find Varric if you’re bored. We’re busy.”

---

Isabela looked dumbfounded. What was the elf going on about? Was he crazy? Her eyes softened a little when she looked back to Anders. Maybe the healer was trying to protect her from getting involved with Noah because he was crazy. It was a sweet sentiment, but the man was sexy enough that she could handle a few hours of crazy for him. “Really, it's okay. If you're worried I'll bring him right back to you.”

---

“What part of ‘we’re busy’ do you not get?” In his mind, his addressed Noah. Go to the nook. Obviously Isabela wasn’t going to listen to him with him standing there. He would also have a hard time listening to anyone with him standing there, but the difference between them was he had self-control. He’d had the self-control to not immediately try to hop in his pants when he first saw him… though he had lost that self-control the moment he realized who he was.

---

“It was nice meeting you, I need to get back to work.” With that, Noah headed off to the nook as he was asked.

Isabela was sad to watch him go, but she didn't mind the view as he walked away. “Alright, alright. I'll try to catch him when he's not busy. You should bring him by the Hanged Man, especially if Varric already knows him.”

---

“No. Leave him alone, Isabela.” He still wasn’t sure how he would handle someone like Isabela coming onto him. He didn’t think he would do anything, but he didn’t want him in that position in the first place. “I don’t want you coming back here just to bother him.”

---

 

The elf had to be crazy. “He might want to be bothered by me. What's going on, Handsome?” She lowered her voice a little in case it was something he wouldn't want Noah to overhear.

---

“He’s in a relationship.” No, they weren’t in a relationship, but it was close enough for his purpose and maybe it would convince her to back off. “He’s just too nice to tell you.” He had no problem telling her, though, and hopefully that would be enough to keep her from trying to toe at him.

---

“That doesn't surprise me. Whoever he belongs to is a lucky guy or girl.” Not that relationships often deterred her. “I'd still like to talk to him sometime. I'll try to catch him when he's not working.”

---

He rolled his eyes, but didn’t bother to try and further discourage her. “Whatever.” He nodded to the door. “Goodbye, Isabela.” He turned from her and got back to work, knowing she would take her leave if he busied himself.

---

“Goodnight.” She raised her voice again. “Goodnight, Noah. Come by the Hanged Man some time.” With that, she finally turned and took her leave. Once she did, Noah finally peeked out of the nook. “She...is a strange woman.”

---

Anders looked at him. “...Please don’t talk to her.” He supposed if Noah was comfortable with talking to her it didn’t really matter, but he didn’t want him to even still. He was feeling pretty possessive of him, as well as concerned with how he would handle her pushing him.

---

“She is no threat to you. I love you.” He assured him gently as he moved to him. He wrapped him up in his arms, wanting to soothe him and still uncertain of why he had such strong feelings about this.

---

That wasn’t an answer and though he sank into him, he wasn’t satisfied. “Please?” He didn’t want him even going to the Hanged Man to talk to Varric, knowing that Isabela would undoubtedly try to lure him to her room if she caught wind of him. Not that he had any reason to go talk to Varric; they’d already spoken and the dwarf had probably gotten his fill of information.

---

“Alright. I think that I could help her. But you are her friend. If I told you how to help her, then I would have no reason to speak to her again.” He kissed his brow, stroking his back gently.

---

He was frowning. He didn’t have time to do whatever it was Noah wanted him to do and he didn’t really think she needed ‘help’. He was right, though, she was his friend and if there was something wrong with her, he wanted her to overcome whatever it was. “She just wants to fuck you, Noah.” The possessiveness spiked - plenty people wanted him and plenty of patients stared, but it was the overtness of it that got to him.

---

“You are right. It is a strange coping mechanism, but it is what she does. She wants to have sex with me, but it should not worry you. You are the only one I want.” He kissed his lips this time. “I do not need sex with anyone else.”

---

The assurance only really made him feel more insecure, which was odd. Noah was his… Even if he wasn’t. Noah was basically his, but not actually. They weren’t actually together, they just behaved as if they were together. He already shared him with everyone… he didn’t want to share him with anyone this way.

---

“You do not need to share me with anyone in that way. I am yours.” They didn't need to be in a real relationship for that to be true. He would be loyal to him.

---

He nodded and pressed a nervous kiss to his lips. “I love you,” he murmured to him. “...Maybe you should go make her forget you.” He was sure she would be pestering him about him for the rest of his life and he didn’t want to draw more attention to him if she decided to blather in front of the others.

---

“I love you too.” He nuzzled their noses together lightly. “I do not think it will help. Word about me has gotten around. Besides, this may improve your friendship with her. She thinks I am insane and you are trying to be a good friend and protect her from me.”

---

He leaned back and gave him a strange look. “She thinks I have an insane assistant… and that I’m protecting her?” What? That made absolutely no sense, though he’d rather she think him insane than have suspicions about him. “If you made her forget you, you could just be careful that she never sees you again.”

---

“She does think so. She thinks perhaps I am crazy with women, at least.” He had found it a bit amusing. “I could make her forget. I could even help her and then make her forget me. But I think she will just hear about me again at some point and come to investigate. It may be better to leave things be. ...Or to even tell her the truth. She would likely lose interest if she knew what I am.”

---

And if she came to investigate, he could be careful and make sure she never saw him. If he didn’t like that option, though, he’d rather he stay away from her. “No, she won’t. She’ll be even more interested.” Especially if she learned that he could change his appearance to anything he wanted. Anything she wanted.

---

“I thought mortals found sex with spirits and demons perverse…” Wasn't that why he wasn't supposed to tell anyone they had sex? He didn't understand why that would make her more interested.

---

“Not all mortals - there wouldn’t be anything to find perverse if some people didn’t do it.” Isabela was definitely not one of them. He was sure she fantasized about being a mage so she run off to the Fade and fuck the inhabitants. She’d probably give Desire a run for their money.

---

“Interesting.” He wanted to give that more thought, but right now, he needed to reassure Anders. “Then she will not know what I am. If she should try to approach me again, I will know how to dissuade her.”

---

He gave a slight nod. “...Alright, well, let’s get back to work.” An unwelcome interruption, but one that was probably going to keep happening if his friends came by. Luckily they didn’t come by often. If anyone was going to walk into Noah next, it would probably be Hawke whenever he came to drag him off somewhere.

---

“I love you.” He stole another kiss from him. “You do not need to worry about anyone who lusts after me. No one could draw me away from you.”

---

“I love you too.” The assurance helped a little this time. He didn’t really think anyone would, he just didn’t like the way Isabela was going after him specifically. He didn’t want to think about it, but he didn’t doubt that there were some that would be just as forward as her, but it was different because he knew her.

---

“Do you not mind as much when she flirts with Milos?” He asked with a tilt of his head. It was what he’d picked up from Isabela. He wondered if being in love was the difference or if there was something else.

---

His face heated. He’d have rather gone back to work than be confronted with that question. “...No, it’s different.” How… it was hard to put into words. It was a gut feeling more than anything, though one thing he could put his finger on ws that Noah was innocent in many ways. Ways that Milos wasn’t.

---

“...Okay.” He knew Anders didn’t want to talk about this. And he was probably right. There was a lot about mortals and their sexuality that he didn’t understand. Though he felt that with his ability to read their thoughts, it was much more likely that Milos could be fooled or manipulated into a compromised position.

---

He pulled away, feeling as mixed up as he often did these days. He didn’t know how to handle his feelings lately. All he knew was that he was in love with Noah and he was having a hard time with that. And that Justice was beyond frustrated with him lately.

“Justice is frustrated,” he found himself saying. It wasn’t something he’d wanted to say and so he knew he was forcing it. “...He’d like to talk to you.”

---

“He can talk to me any time he likes.” Though if Justice was frustrated, he didn’t imagine this would be a pleasant conversation. Still, if he was troubled, they should discuss it.

---

He already knew what Justice was going to say. He’d been talking to him a lot lately, trying to sort out his feelings whenever Noah wasn’t here. It was easier to get lost in his thoughts whenever he wasn’t around and that had happened a lot lately. Knowing he had to let them talk whenever they wanted to talk, he gave him leave to come forward.

As with most of their talks, Justice was quick to get to the point. “Anders is more distracted than ever.”

---

“I know. These thoughts and feelings can be consuming for mortals. But the important thing is that he has not let it effect his work.” He said gently when the spirit came forward. “He still spends just as much time with his patients and the underground and he is able to focus on them when his attention is needed.”

---

“He should not be feeling this way about you.” Some part of him was still jealous. He didn’t want Anders to be in love with him, no, but he felt like he’d lost some of his connection with the mage. “It does affect his work. He is thinking about you all day long.” It didn’t prevent him from his work, but he wasn’t as focused. He was too busy thinking about the way he felt or, if not that, then about the spirit himself.

“He is obsessed with you and wastes too much time between you and Milos.” The time he spent being intimate with both of them, now a daily occurrence - several times a day, even - could be used for other things.

---

“I think his relationship with Milos is important for him. I encourage him to still spend time with him.” He frowned, not liking to think he was wasting too much time on them both. “Please be patient. I think I am getting closer to getting you a body of your own. I am trying to contact Wisdom through the resources available in the Circle. She has spoken to mortals without inhabiting a corpse before, but I do not know if she will have any idea of how I created a body here through Cole.”

---

His eyes widened. “You know another spirit that has their own body?” A Wisdom spirit? Had he known about that the entire time? He must not have, because he had never brought it up before. He was suddenly no longer concerned about Anders and the time he spent doing things he shouldn’t. “How are you trying to contact her?”

---

“No, she does not have her own body. But I know she has managed to materialize in this realm enough to talk to mortals. It is the closest thing I can think of. She has a great deal of knowledge, if anyone can help us, it would be her.” Whether or not she’d be able to help, he didn’t know. But she could at least point them in the right direction if there was a way. “I may be able to find her if I can return to the Fade, but I am afraid of losing this body if I go home. I have found an account of a group of humans summoning her in Tevinter, so if I can find the ritual they used, I may be able to call her to us.”

---

“How did you learn of this?” He was speaking as if he knew her. If he were being fair, he hadn’t ever asked him to keep him informed on the situation, he just assumed that he would. If he’d known he was so close to finding an answer all this time, he would have been more insistent on working on it.

“Perhaps Anders and I could go to the Fade to look for her.” There was no danger of him losing his body there, since he was inside of Anders.

---

“I have met her. I knew she spoke to mortals. But only recently did I learn that she had actually materialized here through texts I found in the library.” He considered the suggestion a moment. “You could. But she does not know you. You may have a harder time finding her.”

---

“How are you certain it is the same spirit?” There were many spirits of Wisdom. It’s just as possible that it was an entirely different Wisdom that was materializing. “I would like to try. It as just as likely that you will not find her, so you can focus on your ritual and I can focus on the Fade.” It was better that they work together for the greatest chance of finding the answer they wanted.

---

“I am not certain. But she is the only spirit I know of that chooses to converse with humans in this realm. The description of the account sounded like her.” It was the best thing he had to go on.

---

He supposed that was true. He didn’t know of any spirits that could come here. They could with the assistance of mages, if summoned, but only for as long as the mage allowed them. They could speak to mortals through the veil, if needed, but actually crossing was something else entirely.

“I will speak to Anders about gathering the supplies we need - I am certain the Underground will be willing to help us.”

---

“Alright.” He doubted they would find her without him in the Fade, but he couldn’t risk losing this body. “I just wanted you to know that I have not given up on your wish, even if I have been caught up in Anders. I search the tomes and ask around whenever I have a moment to spare in the Gallows.”

---

“At least you have drawn a line with him.” Justice appreciated that he wasn’t interested in trying a relationship with him. Even if that was basically what they had - he could just tell with the way Anders was conflicted that it would consume him if he committed himself to him in that way. He continually encouraged the thought that it was impossible for them to be more than what they were.

---

He nodded. “He needs a healthy mortal relationship.” It would ultimately be best for Anders. To have a home and a family. Someone that would grow old with him.

---

“Please considered that you do not have to come on the nights Milos is there.” It would at least limit some of the time they spent together and wouldn’t keep Anders up as later. If he came and found him with Milos, he ought to just go back to the Circle for the night. Sure, he might have a bad dream or two, but he’d dealt with bad dreams plenty before they met him.

---

“I will see if he is alright with that.” He knew Anders was always happy to see him after Milos left. He wasn't sure that he'd want to spend those nights alone.

---

They both knew how Anders would feel about that. He wouldn’t want him to stay away. That’s why he was telling Noah to consider it - it was his decision whether or not he came those nights. He could choose not to. He didn’t bother to say this, he knew Noah would hear it. He wished he wouldn’t base his actions on Anders’ whims, especially since Anders’ whims often mean dismissing his desires.

---

“It is difficult to please you both.” They wanted very different things when it came to him. “I will consider it. At least some of those nights.”

---

He nodded. “I will see you later.” He was sure they would speak again soon, especially since he planned on taking a trip to the Fade as soon as they could. With a final look, let Anders have control and, as always, Anders looked uncertain as soon as he regained himself.

“...So.”

---

He was tempted to ask him how he would know, but refrained. He saw Anders return and gave him a moment to orient himself. “I imagine you know what he wanted to talk to me about. I told him I would consider his request to limited our time together a little and work through some of the nights that you are with Milos. And I updated him on my progress in finding him his own body.”

---

He wasn’t really surprised by it, but that wasn’t what he’d expected them to talk about. Not that exactly, anyway. “...I see.” He looked away from him. “Okay.” He didn’t really want to talk about it. He knew they both knew how he felt about that, so he wanted to just leave it at that. “Let’s get back to work.”

---

“I told him I would talk to you about it.” He knew Anders didn’t want to, at least not right now. “Why not close a little early? We have not had a patient in a while now and it has been an unpleasant night. I want to just enjoy you…”

---

He kept his eyes away. “Alright.” That was a good idea. It had been an unpleasant night. He went to the door to put out the lantern and lock up. Then he plucked Snow up from where the cat was curled up by the foot of his desk and held him to his chest. “No more sleep for you,” he murmured to him, stroking down his back while he stretched.

---

“Snow would like more sleep. But he would like a piece of fish even more.” Noah said as he listened to the cat’s waking thoughts. He thought perhaps interpreting for the kitten might improve Anders’ mood. They also fortunately had a bit of fish on hand for the hungry cat.

---

Anders’ lips quirked slightly. “Lucky for you, I have some fish for you.” He moved to where there was some food left over from that day’s dinner. It was mostly meant for him, but the people who were bringing food also left a little for Snow as well, grateful as they were to Anders for his help and for the space to help others.

---

“He would like it warmed a little.” He couldn’t help but smile himself. “Such a spoiled little kitten for one that was born out on the street.” But that was just what he’d wanted. The life he’d promised Snow’s mother.

---

He could do that. He used a hand to warm it it just enough. Not too much. He didn’t want it steaming, but enough to give him what he wanted. Once he had it heated, he set Snow down on the table and stroked his back. “There you go, sweet boy.”

---

It seemed it was just right as Noah watched the cat dig into his dinner. He moved to Anders, sliding an arm around him and pressing a kiss to his neck. “You said that now that we are in love we should have children. I think Snowbeard counts as our child.” It was a strange concept, but he knew many mortals considered animals like their children. The cat was the closest thing they’d have to a child, so why not?

---

He snorted softly. “Not quite the same thing, but he is the closest I’ll ever come.” He continued to stroke him as he ate, leaning into Noah. “I think I’d want two. A boy and a girl,” he admitted quietly, almost to himself. It wasn’t really anything he acknowledged these days, but the thoughts were still there.

---

“I think you would have been a good father.” He leaned into him as well. “Perhaps we should get a female kitten as well. Then we can have one of each. At least in the only way that you and I can have children.”

---

“Not a good idea, unless you want kittens every few months.” If he was going to get another cat it would have to be a boy, but he had no intention of getting another cat. It was enough of a responsibility to take care of one. It would be hard to take care of two. If for any reason he had to pack up and go, it would make things a lot more complicated and he didn’t want to have to abandon his pets again.

---

“That would be fun. ...But not very practical.” But he could imagine how happy Anders would be if they woke up to new kittens once in awhile. He was too busy as things were already.

---

“No.” He knew he was trying to cheer him up, but this talk of children didn’t help. Snow wasn’t their child, even if he found the sentiment amusing. They weren’t in a relationship where they would be sharing those sorts of things. Noah was forever considering leaving him. He knew it was for Justice’s sake, but that didn’t really make him feel all that much better about it.

---

“I am not considering leaving you. I am only trying to respect his wish to give you space once in awhile. I wish to always be at your side.” He missed him whenever he was away, even if he knew their work was more important.

---

He was considering ‘limiting their time together’. To him, it amounted to the same thing. He was considering spending less time with him and leaving him by himself when he didn’t have to. He pulled away from him and busied himself with cleaning up. The beat of his heart was unpleasant and he was sinking back into one of his somber moods that he was finding himself in more and more.

---

It was so difficult. He hated to see Anders sad, but he already asked for so much tolerance from Justice. He moved to join him in cleaning up, but gave him a little space. “...I will not stay away on those nights. I will work harder to get Justice a body of his own.”

---

He felt annoyed, but he could tell it wasn’t his own annoyance. “If you have other things you want to be doing, then you should do them.” He didn’t want Noah there just because he wanted him to be there. He wanted Noah there because Noah wanted to be there. He wanted to be wanted by him. He wanted his feelings to be reciprocated.

---

“I want to be here. It was Justice’s wishes I was trying to accomodate. Not my own.” His own wishes didn’t matter. As much as Anders insisted that they did, ultimately he still struggled with it.

---

Maybe it would be best if they spent more time apart. He could focus on Milos and his feelings for Noah wouldn’t get in the way. Though at this point, the way he felt, they’d probably still get in the way. Maybe that’s why he needed to stop spending so much time with him, though. He’d considered this before, but only briefly. He’d been too happy to spending every moment he could with him to want to lessen it.

It was so much harder feeling the way he felt now.

---

“They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. Distance may make it worse.” He didn’t know for sure. But he didn’t think spending more time apart would make anything better. If anything, it would only make Anders more unhappy.

---

He made a sound, shaking his head. He didn’t know why he couldn’t treat this the same way he’d treated his relationship with Karl. They had been together, but their relationship hadn’t been anything more than his relationship with Noah. They had both been allowed to spend time with other people, as much time as they wanted, though they far preferred each other’s company.

Though, as far as he was aware… Karl never spent time with anyone else. Anders had, but Karl had always been more reserved than him and so if he had ‘entertained’ anyone else, he’d never indicated as much. Even so, Karl had agreed to arrangement as much as he had. They both knew that they couldn’t let themselves get too invested and that was how they’d avoided it. They’d accepted that they couldn’t be each other’s only, so they hadn’t been.

It was different with Noah. He was in love with Noah in a way that he’d never allowed himself to be with Karl. As much as he loved Karl, it hadn’t felt like this. He wanted him so badly, it was a struggle to want anyone else. There was a wall between them and he knew he would feel this way as long as that wall was there.

---

“This is still so new. You do not have to have this figured out immediately.” He moved to him and slid his arms around him from behind. “I am not going anywhere. There is no need to rush.”

---

That’s what he’d been trying to do. To just go with it, but all that was accomplishing was him pushing his feelings aside and then them all of the ache he was ignoring surfacing at times like this. “I want you, Noah.” He wanted him so badly. He didn’t want anything as much as he wanted him. It was so hard to be away from him and he knew even if he did have everything he wanted with him, it wasn’t healthy to feel the way he felt.

“I wish you weren’t a spirit.” That was his first time he found a way to word what he’d been feeling and it was blurted. This would all be so much simpler if he was mortal too.

---

“You have me, Anders.” He kissed the back of his neck. “If I was not a spirit, I would not know you and your wants as intimately as I do. You love me because of what I am.”

---

That made him pause. “No…” He wasn’t that selfish… He loved him because he… He loved him because of the way he made him feel, but he made him feel the way he felt because of what he was. His expression was troubled and he had stiffened in his arms, starting to feel strange. “I don’t-... I-...” He couldn’t find words.

---

“It is not selfish. I am just a better companion for you than most mortals could hope to be because of my nature.” He didn’t want him to feel guilty for loving him for his desire to fulfill his wants. “Mortals struggle with saying exactly what they want. Or even knowing what they want. I am able to accomodate for that.”

---

For a moment he said nothing, then he went on. “If you were mortal, you would want me as much as I want you.” He wanted to be with him. That’s all there was to it. He wanted a relationship with him and for them to be each other’s in a way that was deeper than just agreeing that they loved each other.

---

“Do you not want the things that Milos can give you that I cannot?” He didn’t understand why Anders wouldn’t want Milos more so long as he could keep getting everything he was from him. The best of both worlds. “There are things about him you like better.” He understood the playful side of Anders far better, for one thing. “You can surprise him in ways you can not surprise me. He has a beautiful home to welcome you into. A loving family. A child.”

---

There were things he liked about Milos. A lot of things. He liked him a lot, but he wasn’t in love with him and until he figured things out with the man he did love, he didn’t know that he ever would be. “We could have those things. We could have a home and be a family.” No, there would be no children, but he could be his family. Justice could too. He could have a family of spirits, since he hardly knew how to be close to mortals like himself. His eyes were beginning to well. “Maybe… Maybe if you don’t want me to yourself, I could be with both of you.” If Milos would ever agree to such an arrangement. He could just have an open relationship with both of them, so he didn’t have to hide what he had with Noah from everyone.

---

“It is not that I do not want you to myself. There is something selfish in me that wants to have your heart. All of it. But I do think that Milos is very good for you.” He turned the mage to face him properly in his arms. “You could be with us both. We could all be a family, if you like.”

---

He didn’t think Milos would be able to handle it though. If not… he didn’t think he could continue with him. He needed Noah too much and the longer he kept himself from having him, the more miserable he was. “Will you be with me if he doesn’t want me anymore?”

Anders, you are being drastic. I know you need a relationship. He’d accepted it and he wasn’t going to keep him from it. He could feel how deeply he needed a connection and now that he’d experienced it, he didn’t want to take it away from him, but he couldn’t expect these things from a spirit. All these things he wanted, Noah wasn’t going to be able to give to him. This isn’t the relationship you need. You need someone like Milos. If not Milos, then another mortal.

No, I don’t.

---

“Yes, but if he does not accept this, I still think we should try to find you another mortal mate. I think it is important for you.” He didn’t think he was enough on his own. Even if Anders felt he would be happy with only him, he didn’t think he could be enough.

---

What he had to say upset him and he pulled back from him. “That isn’t how this works, Noah. You don’t fall in love with someone and commit yourself to them and then go find someone else to be with.” If it didn’t work out with Milos, he didn’t want anyone else. He just wanted him. Hell, right now, he just wanted him. He was just putting in the effort with Milos because he liked him and they had started their relationship before he’d developed feelings for Noah.

---

“...Alright. I am sorry, I am new to this.” If that wasn’t how it worked, then so be it. “You will either be with Milos and I, or only with me. I only want you to be happy, my love.”

---

He was looking at him intently. “Is that what you want? Do you really want to be with me?” Did he want to commit himself to him? Was it possible for him to commit himself to him? He knew it was selfish to ask him to, but he wanted him to himself. Everything he did for others, that they did for others, would be second to each other.

---

“Yes. I will always have to serve others, but you are the only one that I want.” Anders was different. He meant so much more to him than any other mortal ever had.

---

As long as when it came down to it, he would choose him. He wouldn’t ask him to choose him unless it was a dire circumstance, but he wanted that confidence in him. He understood that some things were more important than both of them, so he wouldn’t be selfish with him… He just wanted to know that he would always be at his side if he needed him.

“Tell me you want me as much as I want you.” Noah could feel how badly he wanted him - he knew whether or not they felt the same way about each other. Anders couldn’t feel it, so he needed to hear it.

---

“I do. I love you so very much.” He needed him. He so rarely had needs and yet, he needed him. “I want you. I never want to leave you.” He should never have to.

---

He closed the distance he’d created between them and wrapped his arms around him. He gave him a desperate kiss, but he was quick to break it, pressing their foreheads together. “I love you.” He loved him more than anything, whatever the reason. “You’re mine.” He nuzzled their noses together, trying take as much as he could to comfort himself.

---

“I am yours.” As much as he could be anyone’s. It was such a new and strange concept that anyone would even want him to be theirs. “If he does not agree to this, I will find a way to be everything you need.” He would have to make up for the things that he lacked.

---

There was still an uneasiness to him. He was happy, but not like he would be if this had happened when they’d realized that were in love with each other. Instead, it had been dragged out over days and there was a lot of uncertainty that had built between them in that time. “You are everything I need,” he murmured to him, since right now, it felt like he was.

---

“I want you to have everything you need and more. I want you to be so happy. It is what makes me happy.” He gave him a soft, sweet kiss. “I know you think my happiness matters, but I feel your happiness, so there is no easier way to make me happy than to bring you joy.”

---

“Then I’ll try to be happy for you.” He kissed him in return, just as softly. “Why don’t we go for a walk?” He was always going out with Milos… Well, not lately, but before. They ought to go out together. To get some fresh air and spend some time together outside of the clinic and their cot.

---

“Yes, that would be nice.” He was always a little more distracted outdoors, but it was late enough that there wouldn’t be too many people out and most minds would be winding down for sleep. It wasn’t something they did often and it would be nice to do something different. “We could pick some more catnip for Snowbeard and the kitties outside.” The ones outside of the clinic had a way of gobbling it up as fast as it grew.

---

That was a good idea. He kissed him again and then pulled back, though he took his hand. He wove their fingers together and had no intention of letting go. Even to pick the catnip - he would figure out a way to pull it out one-handed if he had to. He wouldn’t have to hide their relationship from anyone ever again.

The only thing they had to hide was the fact that he was a spirit and that should be simple enough. As long as he avoided reading anyone’s mind aloud.

--

“It is difficult not to read them aloud. Especially when their thoughts are very loud.” He was doing it again now and hardly realizing that Anders hadn’t spoken to him. He squeezed his hand, then lead him to the door. He wondered how Anders was going to approach Milos about this, but he’d just cheered him back up. He would save that stressful question for later.

---

“We’ll just practice then.” He would have to be careful and if he was struggling with it, they could take the time to practice. He was certain he could get used to it if he tried. It wouldn’t be as simple as making people forget anymore… unless he could make them only selectively forget. Then maybe it wouldn’t matter as much.

Still were certain settings that he would have to be careful.

---

“How can we practice?” He cocked his head a little. “It would be risky for me to practice it in a crowd. That is when it is hardest for me to sort my thoughts from everyone else’s. It is hard to control what I say or even notice if I’m speaking aloud.”

---

“Then that’s exactly where we will practice. We’ll find a secret spot near a crowd and work on recognizing your thoughts and keeping them separate from everyone else’s.” He pulled him to the door, grabbing his staff along the way, and let them out. It was hard to lock the door with one hand, but he managed.

---

He eased his grip on his hand when he was trying to lock the door, expecting him to let go long enough to lock the door. But when he got it done with one hand, he tightened his grip again. “I am not leaving your side.” He assured him gently and kissed his cheek.

---

He looked at him and gave him a small smile, before continuing on. Still holding his hand. He would let go after they returned to spend the rest of their night as they normally did.

---

He took a deep breath of the fresh night air, glad to be out with Anders. They could hold hands and it didn’t matter who saw them. Well, it might matter if Milos was the one who saw them, but he doubted that would happen. If the man was in town, he would have turned up by now. For tonight, they could just enjoy each other and this welcome little break in their routine.

Chapter Text

It was almost a week later that Milos returned to see Anders. He’d been able to see him every few days lately and so he was especially eager to see him now that he’d gone a slightly longer stretch before being able to come back to town to visit. He stepped into the clinic and was a little disappointed to see that Noah was around, as he often was, but smiled when his eyes fell on Anders. “Hey…”

---

After not seeing Milos for a week, Anders had grown worried. That he’d somehow found out about them some other way, even though they were taking care to not flaunt their new status. Anders didn’t want anyone to know before Milos. He had considered having Noah go and check on him, just to make sure he was okay, so when Milos stepped into the clinic, he was relieved to see him. The relief was short-lived, though, and his stomach sank.

This was something he was dreading and he could hardly manage a smile in return. “Milos…” He looked over at Noah, silent and unsure what to say. He would need to speak to him alone, so Noah need to at least give them the illusion of space. Whether he actually went or not… Anders was leaning towards the latter.

---

“I should be going. It was good to see you, Milos.” The spirit said before he seemed to vanish into thin air. He remained, of course, knowing that Anders may need his support. And Milos may need some soothing as well.

Milos startled a little. He should be used to it, but it still jarred him whenever Noah did things like that. “...I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. We had an early foal and things got hectic.”

---

Anders couldn’t meet his eyes. “That’s alright.” He wanted to say more, but there was really nothing he could say. He couldn’t pretend everything was alright. “Milos, I need to talk to you.” He folded his arms and scraped his foot in the dirt of the clinic. He was finding that he was having a hard time swallowing and his throat was already thickening.

---

That couldn’t possibly be good. He had a feeling he should sit down and so he moved to take the nearest seat on a stool, his heart beginning to pick up. “...Okay. Let’s talk then.”

---

He nodded, but when it came to actually starting, he was having a hard time. He was silent for what was far too long, but he was clearly trying to find the words to say what he was going to say.

---

Something bad must have happened. Something really bad. Or maybe it was just bad news for him. Maybe he was breaking up with him. The possibilities were accumulating in his mind and his heart began to race the longer they sat in silence. “Anders?”

Noah placed a hand on Anders’ shoulder and whispered softly in his ear. “It’s alright. Just talk to him.”

---

Anders’ brows came together and he stood there with the confliction in his expression for a several more beats. “I like you, Milos.” He nodded to himself, confirming his words with his body language, still conflicted. “You’re an amazing man and… I’m really lucky you like me so much.” He wanted him to know that he really did feel that way, since he was sure he would start doubting himself as soon as he heard what had happened.

---

“I do.” He was breaking up with him, he was sure of it now. His throat was tight and he nodded as well. “I like you a lot, Anders.” He waited to let him go on, wanting to know what he had to say and why it was coming to this.

---

He was starting to realize that he didn't want to lose him. He was prepared to lose him, but he would like it if they could continue to be together. “I want you to know that I didn’t intend on this happening, it just did.” He took a few breaths, before coming out with it. “I’m in love with Noah. I didn’t think I could fall in love with him… Our relationship was never like that, but…” After he’d changed his appearance, his feelings had changed with it. The attraction had made his feelings far more complex than they would’ve been if he still looked like Cole.

---

In love with him? The spirit? With the sort of relationship they had, he guessed he should have seen this coming. But it all seemed so strange and surreal...he hadn’t even considered that they could fall in love. “Do you...have feelings for me?” Probably not. They hadn’t been dating that long. They hadn’t even known each other that long. But he knew he had fledgeling feelings for Anders, at least.

---

The question surprised him. He hesitated. It was hard to say how much he felt for him - he’d been so caught up in everything with Noah. He hadn’t had time to let his feelings grow… He was sure if Noah wasn’t a factor, he would feel more than he did. “I like you a lot. I think with time, I could have feelings for you too.”

---

He nodded, his eyes low. “I know I can’t compete with him. Especially if you have feelings for him.” The elf was gorgeous. And kind. And a mind reader, among other things. “I’m starting to develop feelings for you, Anders. So I guess if you need to break things off with me, I’m glad it’s happening sooner than later.”

---

He tightened the fold of his arms. “I’m not breaking things off with you, not unless you want me to.” It was up to Milos. He knew it wasn’t fair to him to ask him to stay with him and he wasn’t. He was just letting him decide. If he didn’t want him anymore, knowing what he knew, then they could call it. If he still wanted him, then maybe they could work something out.

Don’t influence him, he warned the spirit.

---

“I think it would help if I did. His mind is unclear.” Noah murmured to Anders. The man sitting across from them was fidgeting, his eyes firmly locked on the floor. “He needs me.”

Milos’ pounding heart gave a hard lurch. He wasn’t breaking up with him? But he was in love with another man. Not even a man, but in love with a spirit. How was any of this supposed to work? “You’re not? But how...would we…?”

---

“...I don’t know, but I don’t think it would have to be much different to how it already is.” He would just have two relationships. Completely separate from one another, since he would never ask him to share him with Noah in that way. “The only difference is that I’m with Noah now too.” His furrow deepened, frowning. “I know it’s not ideal, but the alternative is that it’s over and… I’m telling you the truth when I tell you that I like you.”

It has to be his decision.

---

“So you still want to be with me. Even though you’re in love with him.” He was thinking out loud more than questioning him. He felt a little ill, trying to get his head around it. Some part of him was deeply relieved that he didn’t want it to be over. But he wasn’t sure he was able to share more than he already was. Especially since he was already outmatched by Noah. “I don’t want to lose you. But I can’t compete with him…”

---

He was right. He couldn’t. Between them, Anders would choose Noah. “It’s not a competition. I-... I know I’m not being fair. When I imagine being in love with someone, I imagine one someone and I know you do too. I don’t want to be selfish - I want whatever is best for you. If that means we end this, then we end this, but if you think you could be happy with me, even though I’m with him too, then… I’d like that.”

---

“...You think it wouldn’t be much different than things are now?” He was already intimate with Noah when they weren’t together. That had been hard to swallow, but he had adjusted because it really didn’t effect things between them. It was basically as if he’d already had a relationship with Noah all this time.

---

“No…” He did think it would prevent some things… He didn’t think they would ever be able to live together, even if they stayed together for the long run. “I will tell everyone that I am with both of you, if you decide you want to stay with me, and I will have to continue to divide my time between you, but I don’t think it will be any less than it already is.” It just meant that they wouldn’t be able to spend most of their time together, as he was sure Milos was hoping. He’d already mentioned that he wanted to spend more time with him.

---

He wanted to spend more time with him. He eventually wanted to live together. But all of that was in the future. If this was really going to work, there was time to figure it out. “...You think you could still develop feelings for me? Even if you’re already in love with him?” He had his doubts.

Noah’s hand left Anders’ shoulder as he moved to Milos. He knew he had no right to influence his decision. But the more this sank in for him, the more Milos was struggling.

---

“I think so, but I don’t know.” He didn’t want to promise that he would, because he didn’t know, but he liked him enough that he thought it was possible. It was also possible that Noah was all he needed and he would never love Milos like he loved him. In fact, he already felt like he would never love Milos like he loved Noah, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t love him.

---

“Yeah...I know you can’t know that.” Even without Noah’s involvement, it was impossible to know if he would fall in love. But at least it didn’t already feel as if his heart was full and there wouldn’t be room for him. He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. He still felt ill, but he at least felt that his heart was slowing and he was finally able to swallow the knot in his throat.

---

“I’m sorry, Milos. I didn’t mean for it to happen like this. You-… You definitely deserve more than I can give you.” He knew it and he hoped that Milos knew it too. It was something he needed to consider. If he was kinder, the kind man he thought him to be, he would break up with him and leave him free to find something better.

---

“I know. It isn’t your fault.” He knew he hadn’t intentionally fallen in love with Noah. It didn’t make sense to have a relationship with a spirit. A being that shouldn’t even be on their side of the veil. “We’ll just...see if things can be like they have been until now.”

---

“Okay.” He had expected him to want to break up, so he was a little surprised that he was willing to give it a chance. It was entirely up to him. Whenever he decided it was too much, Anders would accept his decision to end things. If that never happened, then… somehow he’d found himself in two separate relationships.

“I imagine you won’t want to see him again…” Which was fine by him. He didn’t want those relationships to overlap. It would be too hard to pretend he didn’t he a preference. They would have to work out a way where he wouldn’t have to be around him even briefly.

---

“I think I probably should. I need to get used to him. There are times where we’re all going to need to be together, even if it’s just for a few moments.” Like they had been when he first arrived. “He’s part of our relationship. Like Justice.”

---

He frowned, not really wanting to think of it that way, but it was sweet of him to think of it that way. “...If you’re certain.” He hesitated, then went on cautiously. “He’s here now.” He ought to know, since he was trying to accept this. “I wasn’t expecting this to go the way it did.”

---

“He is?” He flushed a little. He had trusted that the spirit had left them and didn’t know how he felt about having an audience for this conversation.

“I am sorry.” Noah said as he appeared beside Milos, his hand on his shoulder. When the human startled almost hard enough to fall off of his stool, he was quick to soothe him. “I only stayed because I thought one or both of you may need my comfort.”

---

Anders was surprised to see that he was with Milos. Surprised and uneasy. You didn’t manipulate him, did you? He couldn’t be with Milos if Noah was the one to convince him that he wanted to stay. It had to be from Milos and now he wasn’t sure that it was.

---

“No. His decision was made when I went to comfort him. He was feeling unwell.” Noah assured the silent worry from the mage.

Milos’ instinct was to shy away from the unwelcomed hand on his shoulder. But he really did feel a little better.

---

Anders looked between them, then moved closer to them. If Milos wanted to get use to this, then he had to let him get use to this. He slid an arm around the spirit and then used his free hand to brush some of Milos’ hair behind his ear. “You’re better than I deserve,” he told him softly, warmed by his willingness to try.

---

Milos softened a little at the gentle touch. It was more soothing than the spirit’s influence. “I really like you. I think we could be good together.” His voice was tight and his stomach still turned. He wanted this to work, he just didn’t know how it would.

Noah leaned into Anders and gave Milos’ shoulder a soothing caress. “You said before that there is time to figure it all out.” Had he said it aloud? He couldn’t remember. “If you are willing to try, there is no need to fret now.”

---

He didn’t know how it would work either, but they could figure it out together. “Do you want to spend some time together tonight?” Or did he need time to gather his thoughts? He didn’t want to lose time with Noah, but if they were going to be together, he was going to have to balance them. If nothing else, it would make Justice happy that Noah would continue to have a reason to at least spend some of the night away.

---

“Yeah. I want to spend time with you.” He wasn’t sure he wanted to just head home and try to sort through all of this in his mind. For now, he just wanted to stay with him. The fact that staying with him would be a comfort made him feel a little better about his decision to try this, as crazy as it was.

---

He nodded, then he turned to look at Noah. “You should really go this time.” In his mind, he added, I love you, please come back. He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to his lips, then let go of him so he could go to Milos and help him to his feet. “Let’s lay down together.”

---

“I will really go.” He said after the kiss. He would be back, though he knew Justice would disapprove. He gave Milos’ shoulder a squeeze, then vanished.

Milos looked a little suspiciously at the place Noah had been. He didn’t trust that he was gone. But he rose at Anders’ prompting and nodded. “Laying down sounds good.”

---

He walked him to his cot and then ease him down to lay side by side with him. He slid his arm around him, studying him. It would be hard to feel for him as he did for Noah. Even if he did, it wouldn’t be the same, but he didn’t want to lose him. Not completely. Even if it didn’t work out, he still wanted to be friends with him… He was too good a man to completely cut out of his life, unless he decided that was what he wanted.

Knowing that they ought to change the subject, at least for now, he started to talk about something else entirely. “I’ll be going to the Fade soon,” he informed him. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be there, but it might be a day or two.”

---

He still looked a little ill and more than a little stressed, but he cuddled up to Anders and once they were settled, he did look better. The change in subject surprised him and his brows raised. “You’re going to the Fade? ...How do you do that? Could I go with you?”

---

“You could, but it’s dangerous. It’s better that anyone that doesn’t know how to fight stay out of the Fade.” He was content to just lay with him and talk. “Like with most things I do, it takes magic.” And lyrium.

---

“I’d like to see it.” How many ranch hands could say they’d been to the Fade? Mage ones, maybe. “But if you don’t want me to go, I won’t. I’ll worry about you while you’re gone.”

---

“It’s a fascinating place, but it really is dangerous. A demon would happily kill you, if they couldn’t tempt you.” He let his fingers brush against his back. “If you were to die in the Fade, your body would die along with you.” It was different for him, as a mage, but the outcome wasn’t any more pleasant.

---

“I better stay here then.” He sighed softly. “When are you going?” Probably soon. Adventurers didn’t seem to plan things very far in advance in his experience. They came up with something they needed to do and typically set out to do it the next chance they got.

---

“As soon as I can get the lyrium I need from the Underground.” It was taking them some time to gather what they needed, but they were willing to go along. They were curious about this. They knew of no way for mages to separate from those that possessed them, nor how Noah managed to make a body for his own. They wanted to know it if would work and if so, how.

“I’ll let you know when I know more.”

---

“Okay. If I don’t see you before you go, leave a note for me here or something.” So he’d at least know and have some idea of when he’d be back. “I’m sure you’re more than capable, but I’ll be worried about you.”

---

“I’ll be okay. I’ve been there many times.” Though he’d only been by himself once. For his Harrowing. He wasn’t worried though, especially not when he had Justice with him. “If it works out, Justice might have his own body soon.” He wasn’t sure how they were going to handle that, but he knew Justice would be happier and he wanted that for him.

---

“Will he still be with you all the time? Still part of our relationship?” He didn’t think the spirit having his own body would make their relationship any less complicated. It was selfish to consider what it would mean for himself first, but he couldn’t help it. There was too much on his mind.

---

He found the question strange. “No, he wouldn’t be a part of our relationship. No more than any of my friends are.” Having said that… “He will still be around, though. How much, I don’t know, but there is a lot he wants to do so… I don’t think I will be seeing much of him.” He really didn’t know how he felt about it, but he could tell that Justice was eager for that freedom.

---

That was a relief. “I’m glad he’d be around. I want to be friends with him.” He hoped he’d made strides in that direction by talking to him once in awhile and offering him chocolate. “I just didn’t know if he’d be...in the relationship too. That might get overly complicated.”

---

“...No, I’m not… with Justice.” The thought was strange. “He would much prefer that I have no relationship at all.” He’d mentioned before that Justice wasn’t really supportive of these things and he was unaware that Justice himself had stated that he was against Anders and Noah being together. “He won’t object as much when he has a body of his own, luckily.”

---

He nodded. It would be kind of nice to know Justice was not unwillingly participating in their intimacy anymore. “Just me and Noah.” Though he probably considered Noah his primary relationship since he was in love with him. It just felt weird to name him first since they’d been in a relationship first.

---

Anders eyes fell, landing on his collar. “Just you and Noah,” he agreed quietly. “...Perhaps you could be friends with Noah as well. Maybe you will find it easier if… if you get to know him yourself.” It might be better for them to just avoid each other, but if Milos wanted to try to get comfortable around him… maybe aiming for friendship wasn’t a bad idea.

---

“Yeah, I think so. He’ll probably have an easy time being friends with me. He can comb my thoughts for our common interests and change my moods.” He was half-joking. It was creepy. But the truth was, if he was going to learn to get along with Anders’ other boyfriend, it was at least probably going to be made easy for him.

---

“He won’t change your mood if you don’t want him to.” He was pretty respectful about that, so he didn’t want him to think that he would be manipulating the way he felt all the time. “He wants everyone to be happy, you included. Nothing matters to him more.”

---

“It’s a good quality to have. He seems like a really good...person?” Was he considered a person? “Spirit. I know all spirits are good. But he seems like a good one.” On top of being gorgeous, it was no wonder he couldn’t compete with him.

---

“He is.” He was the best spirit he’d ever met. Not that he’d met that many, but he’d met enough to have an idea of what spirits were like. Luckily, Justice wasn’t jealous at that. Were he prone to mortal gestures and he had his own body, he would’ve rolled his eyes. He didn’t want to go off on a tangent about Noah, sure it would be rubbing salt into a wound, so he kept his input short and sweet.

---

“I feel like it would be cheating to ask what made you fall in love with him.” He cuddled in a little closer and closed his eyes. He was quite comfortable and the longer he laid with him, the more he relaxed. “I have to earn that for myself.”

---

His eyes lifted and his lips tugged up. Since Milos wasn’t looking at him, he could study him some more. “Maybe a little.” He wasn’t sure he could put into words what had made him fall in love with Noah. He knew a large part of it was his appearance, awful as that sounded. The fact of it was, he’d already felt strongly for him before Noah changed the way he looked. Strongly enough that he took him as a lover, despite not being attracted to him in the slightest… so once he was attracted to him… It snowballed and he hadn’t lasted but a few weeks before he was head over heels for him.

---

“Then I’ll find out how to do it on my own.” He didn’t compare to Noah and he knew he wouldn’t love him in the same way. But if he had some of Anders’ love to keep for himself, maybe that would be enough.

---

He leaned in and pressed a simple and sweet kiss to his lips, rather than respond. His own eyes fell shut and he took a deep breath, letting himself relax. His stomach, which had gone wild at the start of this, had settled and he was comfortable curled up like this.

---

He returned the kiss while it lasted, then sighed softly when it broke. It was nice to lay here like this. It was far from the first time he'd cuddled with him like this on the cot, but it was usually before or after they'd taken pleasure in each other. This was simple and clean, exactly what he needed at the moment.

---

As time passed, he began to slip away. His thoughts were fading and he was tired enough that he was falling asleep. He hadn’t meant for him to stay the night, but eventually he was too far out of it and he fell asleep curled up with him.

Milos hadn't planned to spend the night. He always left before it got too late. But he needed him and he was so comfortable lying like this and listening to the soft, steady breathing of the mage. It didn't take him long to drift off to sleep.

In the morning, Noah returned and pulled a stool up to sit behind Anders. He'd come back earlier to find them asleep together and had left them be to continue his work in the Circle, but he hadn't wanted Anders to wake up without him. He watched him sleep until it was late enough to wake him, then began to stroke his fingers softly along his side, rousing him slowly and gently as he always did.

---

Anders tightened his arm around Milos, the familiar touch making him think he was in Noah’s arms. He murmured incoherently and tucked his head beneath Milos’ neck, so comfortable and warm.

“The sun has risen and so must you, sleepy mage.” Noah murmured to him and kissed his neck. The shifting roused Milos a little and he made a soft sound, tightening his arm around Anders in return.

---

He heard his voice behind him and his brow furrowed in confusion. It took a few beats for it to hit him, but he pulled back from Milos, turning back to look at Noah.

“Noah?” He turned back the other way and saw Milos laying with him. He blinked.

“Good morning.” Anders’ hair was still bound from the night before and Noah loosened it now, running his fingers through his hair. “I did not want to wake either of you until morning. You looked sweet sleeping together.”

---

“It’s morning?” He made a sound as his scalp was worked, the sensation pleasant. “I must’ve fallen asleep.” So had Milos. Hopefully no one waited up for him… He turned his head back towards Noah. “I missed you,” he mumbled, even though he hadn’t been awake to miss him.

---

“I missed you too.” He kissed his brow. “But I was glad to come back and find you happy with him. You should sleep with him more often. So long as I can be the one to welcome you back to the waking world.”

---

“But I want to sleep with you,” he murmured, his voice becoming a little clearer. It hit him only a moment later that maybe he shouldn’t say that out loud. He glanced at Milos, hoping he was still asleep. When it appeared he was, he relaxed and looked back at Noah, wanting to slide into his arms.

---

“I will still be here.” Even though he’d been gone the majority of the night. Anders was at least unaware of the time he’d been away working. “He is dreaming, he did not hear you.”

---

“I missed you,” he repeated, wanting him. It had been nice to spend time with Milos, but right now, he wished he wasn’t there so he could curl up with his spirit. He reached for him and took hold of his arm.

---

“And I missed you.” He leaned down to nuzzle his cheek. “We should wake Milos. He needs to get home.” Then Anders would have his wish and it would just be the two of them.

---

He turned into the nuzzling, kissing him wherever he could reach. He hummed in agreement, tightening his hand, unwilling to let go of him. He turned back to Milos, then leaned in to give him a little kiss as well. “Milos, wake up.”

---

His sleep was light and the kiss was enough to draw him from his dream. “Hmmm?” His eyes cracked open, but quickly closed again. He was so warm and comfortable. “Anders? I think I fell asleep…”

---

“You did.” He pulled back a little to look at him. “It’s morning.” Hopefully that was okay. He didn’t want him upset that he’d stayed through the night.

---

“Morning?” His eyes opened again. He thought he’d only drifted off for a few minutes. “I’m sorry, I really have to get going.” He kissed him then pushed himself to sit up, not terribly surprised to find Noah sitting behind his boyfriend.

---

Anders remained as he was, too tired to sit up. He’d gotten spoiled as of late, not jumping to his feet as soon as he woke to get work done. “See you…” He didn’t know when he’d be back, but he wasn’t worried about it. As long as he didn’t take a week again - Anders would start to wonder if he’d changed his mind.

---

“See you soon.” He climbed off of the cot, giving the spirit a bit of an awkward wave before he headed out. He needed to get home, though he knew his family would be doing fine without him. He simply didn’t want to worry them.

Noah watched him go, then crawled into the cot to take his place.

---

As soon as he was gone, Anders pulled the elf over him, leaning up and kissing him hard. “I need a bigger cot.” Not that he was actually thinking of sleeping with both of them, but it would be nice if Noah could snuggle up to him at least in the morning. Not that he intended on having Milos stay often. Maybe sometimes, but not so much that it would cut too much into his time with Noah.

---

“I can get you one.” It probably wouldn’t be that hard. “Maybe a softer one too. I have seen much more comfortable beds. I think you would sleep better if you had one.” He smiled, pleased by how Anders took full advantage as soon as they were alone.

---

“Get me one?” How? He would like a better bed. He would like a better lot of things, but he just didn’t have the resources to do anything for himself. It would be taking away from others to do anything like that for himself. Beds were expensive.

---

“Yes, many people offer me favors. I simply do not accept them. Perhaps I will accept one or two if it means I can get you a proper bed.” As much as could fit in the nook, anyway.

---

“Your favors should be reserved for someone who needs them more than I do.” He stroked his hand along his side, looking up at him with the love he felt in his gaze. “I can make do with my cot.”

---

“I do use the favors for those who need them. Sort of. I make suggestions for people who have the means to help people who do not have the means. The night I first comforted you I sent a starving family to ask a lonely widowed fisherman for his spare food. I helped them both by having them help each other.” He kissed his lips softly. “I will get you a new cot.”

---

“Between you and Milos, maybe I’ll have my life together some day.” He peppered him with kiss again, so happy to have him. “All I really need is you, though.” He could sleep on rocks and be happy, if Noah was sleeping with him.

---

“Oh no, I would never let you sleep on rocks.” He fussed, giving him another kiss in return. “I would sleep on the rocks and let you sleep on me. You need proper rest.”

---

He grinned. “So selfless.” He slid his hand up to clutch his shoulder. He remembered then what today was and he was relieved. Noah didn’t have to go, or, at least, he didn’t have to go without him. He never wanted him to go, but Anders knew he had to. Just because Noah didn’t need to work like a mortal did, didn’t mean he didn’t have things to do. What he did was important, Anders just liked it whenever he stayed with him. Luckily they had something coming up with the Underground today and they would be spending the day together for that.

---

“It is not selfless. You need to sleep, I do not.” He smiled at his thoughts. “We so seldom spend the day together. But for once, instead of staying here to work with you, you will come to work with me in the Gallows.” It was dangerous, of course. But Anders had two spirits to look after him.

---

“For once,” he agreed. They’d gone to several meetings together in the last couple of months and Anders had swapped with him a few times, giving the mage a chance to do some work for the Underground while he took care of the clinic, but this would be the first time the would actually work together. “Then it’ll be off to the Fade and Justice may have a body of his own before we know it.”

He had a lot going on and though that was always true, it felt like he was being stretched especially thin these days.

---

“Yes. I think he will be very happy if we manage to do it soon.” He was sure that this complicated relationship was wearing Justice’s patience thin. He started to ease off of him. “Come, my love. We need to get ready.”

---

Maybe things wouldn’t be so stressful then, though he was sure something else would just move in to take its place. “Noah…” He pulled him back down, kissing him. He wasn’t ready to get ready. He wasn’t necessarily aiming for anything, he just didn’t want to get up. He wanted a little longer with him.

---

He chuckled against his lips. He supposed there was no need to rush. They had a little time to spare. He cupped his cheek gently, breaking the kiss only to pepper more soft, sweet kisses to his lips. “Anders…”

---

He smiled again, both at his giving in and at his response. “I love you,” he murmured to him, feeling a lot happier. He was no longer trying to tell himself that nothing had to change. He was no longer conflicted. He had what he wanted. A spirit he loved and who he could be with as he would anyone else.

---

“I love you too.” He was curious when he was planning to let his friends know. If he would tell them what he really was. But these questions would likely bring Anders stress and they could wait. Right now, he was pleased to soak in all of the mage's happiness.

---

He continued to kiss him, content with the peppering and only occasionally deepening it. Only after his lips were sore did he break off completely, looking at him with warm eyes.

It was tempting to heal the ache of his lips, but he refrained. It was a pleasant reason to be sore. “Will you braid my hair today?” It would be nice to have it bound for the work they needed to do. But more than anything, he liked the excuse to feel Anders toy with his hair.

---

“If you want me to.” He stole another kiss and then finally started to sit up, bracing himself and waiting for his boyfriend to shift so he could get up. “First things first, though.” He had to feed Snow, who was sitting nearby, watching them. He grabbed some food for him and laid it on the floor, before starting to put himself together with the help of the mirror.

---

As he often did, Noah took full advantage while Anders was using the mirror. He moved up beside him and when he had a moment when the mage’s hands weren’t busy, he took one of his hands. He liked to see them in the mirror this way. Side by side, holding hands. Just like a real couple. There was always fascination in his eyes, even though he’d seen this exact sight many times now.

---

He looked at him in the mirror, amused as he often was. “You’re still prettier than me,” he assured him, leaning over to kiss his cheek. “Here, let me do your hair.” He moved to grab a brush, and, with Noah poised in front of the mirror, he began to brush through his hair so he could braid it.

---

“Your imagination made me this pretty.” He watched Anders work in the mirror, his posture a little more natural than usual as the brushing relaxed him. “I think we are beautiful together.” Not that he really knew what made for an attractive couple. But he felt they looked good together, biased as he was.

---

“I think we are too.” Noah just happened to bring much more beauty to their relationship than he did. His fingers worked slowly to make sure the braid was just right and when he was done, he pressed a kiss to the crown of his head. “If only I was ten years younger again.”

---

He smiled when he was kissed, then tugged Anders forward to stand at his side again. “You do not need to be younger. You are perfect as you are.” But he didn’t want to think about him aging. The idea was...frightening. Mortal lives were so fleeting and he wasn’t ready to confront that thought yet.

---

“Perhaps not, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to be.” He tilted his head over and rested it on the top of his Noah’s, content to watch them for a while. “...Alright, time to do my hair too.” He started to put his own hair up, but as he worked, he was thinking about what he said. About wishing he were younger. He found himself pulling his hair up completely, much how he used to style it and his lips turned up to see himself. “What do you think?”

---

He smiled. “It looks good on you.” He gave the ponytail a little tug. A playful impulse that he felt Milos would have done. “This is how you looked when you were younger?”

---

“That, plus nicer robes and less wrinkles.” Not that he was heavily wrinkled, but he could see the signs of wear on his face. Signs that had not been there even a few years before. He gave him a push after the tug and slipped away from him to swap out his robes. He tried to wear his old robes whenever he went out on a mission where he might get messy, so he didn’t have to worry about ruining Milos’ robes.

---

“I should get more clothing.” He’d gotten something to wear other than the clothes he’d materialized that matched Cole’s. He wanted something that he thought Anders would find him even more attractive in. “I like your wrinkles. I think they make you more handsome.”

---

“That makes one of us.” He didn’t like his wrinkles. He didn’t really like getting older, but at least he could take care of the aches and pains that came with not only his age, but with the way he lived. “We can get more clothing for you. It would be nice for you to be able to change what you wear whenever you want.” He wasn’t sure how he’d managed to wear the same robes for so long, now that he had at least another set to cycle between.

---

“Maybe just one more set of clothing. I do not want to be greedy.” He knew some people had a different outfit for each day of the week. He didn’t need anything so lavish. Just perhaps something a little nicer than what he had now and he could switch between the two.

---

“It’s not greedy.” When he had his robes on, he went back to him, sliding his arms around him. “It’s clean and normal, even.” Most people had enough clothing to wear at least a few outfits through a week. The exception was the poor and even they usually had at least a couple of outfits. Even if they were rags.

---

“I should get more then. I should appear normal.” If they weren’t going to hide and were going to behave like a real couple. More people were likely to see him and he needed to blend in as well as he could manage. “I just do not want to take more than I need.”

---

“I know, love.” He pressed a kiss to cheek. “I’m almost ready to go whenever you are.” Not that they had to be there yet. There was time yet. Time to do whatever they wanted to do, but Anders liked to be ready and part of being ready was being there before he had to be. As long as he had the time for it.

---

“We can go.” But before they did, he turned to him and gave him a firm, lingering kiss. “I love you. I am excited to spend the day and night with you.” Seldom did he get to have both.

---

“So am I.” With a final look, filled with love, he tugged him to where he could put on his boots and then his staff, before heading out. They had a full day ahead of him and he was looking forward to getting out and about and doing something that mattered to him.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for Anders to decide to take Noah to the Hanged Man. It wasn’t really something he wanted to do - he didn’t want any of them butting into his business - but he knew he was going to have to tell them before they found out some other way. Besides, he was tired of hiding his relationship, though he wasn’t one to flaunt it in the first place. So with great anxiety, he found himself walking up to Varric’s room, knowing that they would be surprised to see him with someone else as they stepped inside.

“Blondie!” Varric sounded as surprised as he expected. He, at least, knew Noah, but he wouldn’t have expected him to bring him here… especially considering what he was trying to hide. “Who’s your friend?” he asked, playing dumb for the sake of everyone else.

---

Isabela wasn’t quite so discrete and her eyes locked on Noah.. “So you brought your friend out to see us! Come sit down, have a drink with us.” Surely the elf wasn’t a stick in the mud like Anders and would have a drink.

Noah smiled, appreciating Varric’s effort to play innocent. He greeted them with a nod, but knew it was best to let Anders do the talking, at least to start with.

---

Anders tugged him further in, but made no move to take a seat. He could see that Noah had drawn a lot of eyes. Varric was looking between them, but Hawke and Isabela were both staring at the elf. He didn’t care what Fenris or Merrill thought, but maybe they’d have opinions about the fact that he was another supposed elf mage.

“Before that, there’s something I have to tell you guys…” He really hated this and his cheeks were already beginning to burn. “This is Noah… he’s someone that’s been helping me out at the clinic.”

Oh,” went Hawke. He’d heard about him, especially from Isabela, but he’d thought she was exaggerating. There was no exaggeration there.

“...He’s also my boyfriend.” He couldn’t bring himself to look at any of them.

Varric, to his credit, continued to play dumb. He was not at all surprised, not after what he’d heard from them last time. His surprise came from Anders admitting it to them. “What about Goldie…?”

---

“Boyfriend?!” Isabela was absolutely thrilled with the scandal. She leaned forward on the table, as if she couldn’t get close enough to the gossip. “Yeah, what about Milos? Is he back on the market then?” He hadn’t been bad either, but he was quite plain compared to the elf.

“So this is the other mage?” Fenris scorned, hardly able to look at the other elf. He’d be incredibly attracted to him if he wasn’t a mage.

Noah wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He was close to being a mage, he supposed. But he decided he’d stay quiet for the time being.

---

“No, he’s not. Milos… is aware and is supportive.” Sort of. He was aware and he was allowing it, which was close enough. “As you can see, I have two boyfriends now and I thought you should hear it from me, rather than from anyone else.”  Eager to change the subject, he plowed forward. “So! What are we doing? Cards? Dice?” Not that he was one to participate, but as he moved further in, he obviously wanted to pretend nothing odd was happening.

Hawke was still staring, but now he couldn’t choose to look at. He couldn’t really believe what he was hearing. “...Is he actually supportive?” He sounded skeptical.

---

Finally, Noah spoke up. “Yes, he is supportive. You can ask him yourself the next time Anders brings him for cards.” Then he looked to Fenris. “Yes, I am the mage that helps Anders in the clinic.”

Merrill was staring at him with wide eyes. “...You're not a mage.” Surely Anders knew what he really was. Noah's gaze snapped to her, stunned. He hadn't heard her thoughts as she'd been busy listening to Pride.

---

Both Varric and Hawke sat back in their chairs at the same time. It seemed they shared the same sentiment. This was strange… and very entertaining. Of course, Varric knew more than Hawke did and he was so curious - he would definitely have to talk to them again.

Anders looked at Merrill and after a beat, his own eyes widened slightly. “Of course he is,” he insisted, no longer heading for a seat, rather taking a step back. His stomach was sinking and even Justice was irritated by their lack for foresight - his included.

Of course her demon would be able to sense what Noah was. Just like he could.

Isabela was all but off of her seat she was leaning so far forward. “I knew it. I knew there was something off about him. What is he?”

Noah stared at Merrill a long moment before putting a hand on Anders’ shoulder. “There is no keeping this secret. It is best we be straightforward. ...I am not a mage, nor an elf. I am Compassion.”

He was expecting surprise, but Fenris rose to his feet so quickly his chair clattered to the floor and Noah startled.

---

Anders tensed so hard that to look at him, he might have been struck. “Noah.” He was embarrassed and defensive, his attention going to the elf with the most dramatic reaction.

“You stay back,” he warned him, putting himself between them. He wouldn’t put it past him to attack, so he was ready to retaliate if he tried.

“Fenris, sit down.” Isabela fussed and took hold of the warrior's arm, though he was quick to tug it back from her. “They came here to play cards. We can all settle down and have a drink.”

“It's okay. He wouldn't hurt anyone here.” Merrill tried to assure Fenris. The only one the spirit might want to hurt would be her and she wasn't picking up on any such intentions from him.

Noah didn't want Anders between himself and Fenris and he gently tugged Anders away from the doorway. “It is alright. We just need to make space for Fenris, he wants to leave.” It wasn't all the warrior wanted, but first and foremost he wanted to get away from them.

---

“Good. Get out,” he snapped at him, giving him a wide breadth of space so he could go. He watched him, not trusting him and not going to take his eyes off of him until he was gone.

Varric knew this much and he wasn’t as shocked as everyone else, so he was prepared to intervene. “Broody, it’s alright. You don’t have to go - he’s a spirit.” He wouldn’t blame him if he couldn’t stay, but he didn’t want this development to ruin the balanced they’d managed in their oddball group.

Hawke was on his feet, looking between the three of them, though it was hard to tear his eyes from the elf that apparently wasn’t an elf at all. “Everyone just relax, it’s… not all that different to Justice…”

It was, but he wasn’t sure what else to say. He didn’t know what it was actually like, he just wanted the tension in the room to go away so they could figure out what it was actually like.

It took a few beats to decide what he would do, but eventually Fenris fixed his chair and eased back down into it. He needed to know more about this demon before he decided on the best way to get rid of it.

“I do not know how to play cards. You will have to teach me.” Noah said softly, giving Anders’ hand a reassuring squeeze.

---

Anders glared when he stayed. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to stay himself. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was dangerous for so many people to know what he was. The Underground knowing was a necessity, but the more people that knew, the more likely the wrong people would know.

He reluctantly walked over to his normal spot and sat down, urging Noah to sit in the extra chair that had been set for Milos. He scooted his chair close to him and held his arm, silently possessive and protective.

Varric was happy to cut the tension. “Can’t say I’ve ever played cards with a spirit - I’m not certain it’s fair…” Since Noah could read their minds, he’d know exactly what they had. “Better to play dice, I think.” That hadn’t been the plan, but plans could change.

“That is probably a better idea. I do not want to cheat by accident.” He leaned into Anders a little, wanting to reassure him. His eyes moved to Isabela. “Not the weighted dice, though.”

Isabela looked fascinated and shifted closer to him. “That's creepy. Were you reading my mind when we met in the clinic?”

“Yes. I do not mean to.” He was looking between all of them and a little overwhelmed. Their thoughts were loud and rapid and he struggled to keep track of who was speaking aloud.

---

Hawke was similarly intrigued. “So… you’re really just a spirit?” It didn’t make sense. He didn’t look like a spirit. He looked like the most stunning elf he’d ever seen in his life and that was saying something - his eyes went briefly to Fenris. They returned to… Noah, was it? It wasn’t like him to miss names, but he’d been so distracted by the sight of him that he wasn’t sure he’d caught it. Demons had read his mind before in the Fade, so hearing that wasn’t jarring, but they weren’t in the Fade and he wasn’t supposed to be here. How was this possible?

“He’s a spirit,” Anders confirmed, tightening his arm on him. “There aren’t any spirits like him, with bodies of their own, and we’d like to keep what he is a secret. As such, he’s a mage.” This was said firmly, warning them against speaking of this to anyone.

---

“How many people have you killed since you've had a body of your own?” Fenris asked sharply, studying the spirit with deep scrutiny. Isabela elbowed the warrior, but he didn't withdraw the question.

“...Many. But much fewer than you have.” Noah said rather gently, though he knew his chances of disarming Fenris were slim. He looked to Hawke. “Yes, my name is Noah. I went by Compassion until I met a mortal man that helped draw me to this world by some odd coincidence. Then I took his name for a short time and went by Cole. When I met Anders, it was brought to my attention that Cole may not have wanted me to take his name, but I am no longer simply Compassion. So now my name is Noah.”

---

“He’s done more to help others than all of us combined, so shut up,” he snapped at Fenris, the question insulting. He knew they were curious, but he couldn’t help but be worked up from this. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go.

Varric had heard all of this already. This wasn’t what he was interested in, though it was fascinating, even hearing it again. “Tell them about how you can change your appearance.” And why he looked the way he looked. It was a request made at Anders’ expense, he knew, but he also knew it would further break the tension and draw his attention away from the warrior.

Anders looked over at Varric, accusing. “Don’t tell them about that.”

---

“He has already told them.” Noah told him with a reassuring squeeze to his arm. “I used to look like Cole.” He didn’t hesitate to demonstrate, suddenly appearing as the starved young blonde he used to be. Fenris looked even more distressed, but maybe not as much as Isabela did. She wanted him to fix this. “But I changed my appearance to something Anders would like. He did not want me to, he wanted me to choose my own features. But I chose what would make him happy.” Then he was the elf once more and he gave Anders a soft smile.

---

Anders was about to hide in his hands when Noah changed his appearance. It was as jarring for him as it was for the rest of them, no longer use to see him like that. He didn’t like it at all. He didn’t look like himself and as often as Noah reminded him he only looked the way he looked because Anders wanted to him, it was like seeing a stranger.

He was brought back when he began to explain, as always, why he was so stupidly attractive. Anders groaned.

Varric smirked. “I didn’t know you fancied elves so much, Blondie.” It was hard not to rib him as he went to grab his dice, pulling out enough for all of them.

“Neither did I…” That was his ideal man? ...He was pretty ideal. Hawke was back to studying him, amused. He couldn’t help but wonder if he had him change his appearance to spice things up, but then again… Did they even do those things?

---

“No. He wants me just as I am.” He answered Hawke’s unspoken question without realizing it was unspoken.

“You’ve got good taste, Handsome. He’s flawless…” Her own ideal man would be a little different, if she could design Noah for herself. But she had no complaints about what he’d come up with. “So if you’re with both him and Milos, I imagine it’s a pretty open relationship…”

---

“No, it’s not open at all.” Anders was so ruffled. Fenris wanted to attack Noah for being what he was and Isabela wanted to attack him in so far as to get his clothing off. “I told you before - he’s taken.” The implied ‘back off’ was left in silence. He was sure she was fantasizing about what she could change about him and the thought upset him as much as seeing him as Cole again - as far as he was concerned, Noah was what he was and he couldn’t change.

Varric was sliding dice toward everyone, but no one, himself included, was really paying attention. Hawke certainly wasn’t and he continued to look between them. “So… if you’re a spirit… why don’t you go back to the Fade?” What he was really trying to ask was why was he with Anders. He couldn’t understand why a spirit would want to be with anyone. That just wasn’t something spirits or demons did.

Even if they did, why Anders specifically? Maybe it had to do with Justice.

---

“I have much to do here. I have helped so many people in ways I could not help them from the Fade. I must take advantage while I have this opportunity. The parties I have helped have made great strides forward with my abilities.” He didn’t know that Anders wanted him mentioning that he was working with the Underground, so he decided to let that be. He picked up the dice and studied it, curious about this game.

---

“What abilities are those?” Hawke was curious what he could do. He seemed powerful so far. He was a spirit that was somehow sitting across from them, changing his appearance at will. He wondered if it was anything he could utilize. Maybe when he took Anders out, he could have Noah come along as well.

“It doesn’t matter,” Anders interjected. “Come on guys… I know this is… a lot, but we’re here to play a game.” Or a round. He didn’t have the coin to really play more than that. He’d said what he needed to say and though it hadn’t at all gone how he wanted it to, he didn’t have any reason to linger and, right now, he didn’t want to.

---

“Yes, I want to learn this game.” He knew they had a lot of questions. But Anders wanted to move on and he was excited to try something new. “And try this ‘ale’.” Isabela had been wanting to get him a drink and she jumped up to do so when he suggested it.

---

Justice disapproved deeply, but he couldn’t say anything. He’d tried it as well when he’d first inhabited a body. He was sure as soon as Noah tasted it, he would choose not to drink it, just as he had himself.

Anders was also a little wary. A little jealous too, but he didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to stop him if he wanted to try it.

“Oh ho, a drinker! Brilliant.” That might at least even the odds. Here’s how it works.” Varric began explaining the game to him, using his dice to demonstrate the scoring system and then rolling them to show him how the rounds worked.

Noah was a little surprised by Anders’ reaction and once the rules of the game were explained, he leaned in to whisper in his ear. “Would you rather I not try ale?” He was curious about it, but it wasn't a big deal if he wasn't supposed to try it.

---

Anders looked over at him, still uncomfortable with all of this. “No, it’s alright. Try it if you want to.” Maybe if Noah could drink and it wasn’t a big deal, maybe Justice would see that it wasn’t a big deal for him either. Either way, he’d be able to do what he wanted as soon as he had his body to himself… if ever.

When Isabela returned with his drink, he took a small sip. “...It does not taste good.”

Isabela laughed as she dropped back into her seat. “You don't drink it for the taste. Now put your coin on the table and roll.”

---

Justice was satisfied. He was glad that he agreed and he assumed that sip would be his only one. Anders wasn’t so sure, though he knew that the ale itself was particularly bad. Not from experience, just from talk.

The mage pulled out his coin purse and pulled out enough to cover both of them. Just a single round. If they won, maybe they could play another, but if not, he was out.

He rolled his dice and considered what he got. He was better at dice than cards, just because there was no bluffing required. It was all about chance.

Noah rolled as well, looking them over. He wasn't sure he grasped the rules, but he thought he did alright. He took another sip of the ale and grimaced. Even if it wasn't supposed to be enjoyed for the taste, it was pretty bad.

---

Anders looked over at what Noah rolled, thinking about what he’d do. He knew no one would mind him helping him while he was new and he pushed three dice towards him. “You should reroll these ones.”

Varric was looking over the dice as well he disagreed. It would be a safe move to reroll those ones, but ultimately he would probably lose, considering that the pirate had already rolled a four of a kind. Better to roll one of double and go for the straight. He didn’t say this, though, rerolling two of his own dice and smirking when it improved his hand.

Noah was picking up on multiple opinions and quickly picked up on the ones more likely to win. He picked up one of his doubles and rerolled it, taking another sip while he waited for the outcome. Isabela was still pretty confident of her victory, but apparently she often was.

---

The mage’s brows lifted when he ignored his advice. He realized what he was going for and though the die didn’t land as he wanted, he would still have another shot. Since he wasn’t needed, he rerolled his own dice. Nothing good. Of course.

It didn’t take but a moment for Varric to realize what had happened and he smirked. He wasn’t sure if he’d heard it from him or anyone else, but obviously he had a lot of input, didn’t he? Even if no one said anything, he would pick up on their thoughts and know what to do. He didn’t mind - it wasn’t really cheating since it didn’t take but a little thought to figure out the best course of action. Even if it was cheating, he didn’t mind, though he was definitely going to have to invite him to play cards with some card sharks sometime.

“Why don’t we make this bet more interesting?” he suggested. “Whoever wins gets to ask three questions, spread out to whomever they choose and they have to answer honestly.” He knew at least three of them were curious about Noah and even if whoever won didn’t use their questions on him, it was always fun to learn more about each other, wasn’t it?

Hawke smirked. He liked that idea. A good way to get around Anders’ beating around the bush and really, there were questions he’d ask the others too, if he could. Varric, for example.

---

“I do not think Anders is up for that tonight. We could possibly play that way next time.” He murmured and since they already knew about their status, Noah leaned to press a kiss to Anders’ cheek. He knew his lover had been extremely uncomfortable with this from the start and he didn’t want it pushed any further than necessary.

---

“Aw - come on Blondie…” Varric leaned forward. “How about this… you get three questions, but only one question per person?” He could tell that Anders wasn’t enjoying himself and he didn’t want that, of course, but he couldn’t help but want to make this more fun for all of them. Well, all of them except Broody, who still looked like he wanted to jump across the table at them.

Rather than answer, Anders simply gave his dice a final roll. It wouldn’t be fair to make a bet when everyone could see what his final result was, so that was putting a quick end to that. He actually ended up getting rather lucky on his final roll, but he was still beat by even Isabela and that was before she an opportunity to roll again herself, so he sat back.

Varric was disappointed, but he took the hint and rolled his own dice again. Nothing to help him and unfortunately not good enough.

---

“Maybe next time.” Noah felt a lot of disappointment and he hoped to ease it a little. But Anders’ comfort meant more to him. His final roll was good, but not quite good enough to beat Isabela. “I am afraid it will have to be next time anyway. Anders and I are out.”

---

The coins went to Isabela, but Hawke was hardly paying attention. “Already? You guys just got here…” He was really interested in him and he wanted to know more. He wasn’t sure when he’d get a chance to learn more, though, not if Anders was going to be a stick in the mud about it.

“We have somewhere to be.” No they didn’t, but Anders didn’t want to admit that he didn’t want to be there. He liked hanging out with them, but he wasn’t in a good mood right now. “See you guys.” He was quick to tug Noah out of the room, down the stairs, and out of the bar.


“...At least no one will be surprised now.” Everyone knew what was going on and he wasn’t going to have to awkwardly explain himself later.

---

“No. I believe the worst is over. They will likely come by with questions, but we will be more prepared for them.” He pressed close to him as they walked, wanting to stay close to him and improve his mood if he could. “I did not expect the bloodmage to identify me so quickly, but I should have known better. Sometimes they notice me even on the streets, but they always keep quiet.”

---

Anders frowned deeply at that. “...It’s dangerous for you to be so noticed.” He just didn't know how to remedy that. The solution would be for him to stay invisible at all times, like he use to, but that wasn’t so simple anymore. In the clinic, he couldn’t be invisible. When they were together… he could technically stay invisible to everyone but him, but then they couldn’t touch.

He sighed and eased back from him. He would sacrifice touch to keep him safe.

---

“Even invisible, they can sense me to some degree. If they are to become so bold as to attack, I will be ready.” He wasn't afraid of any of the blood mages slinking around the city. “Even with her demon, Merrill had no hostile thoughts toward me. Only Fenris.”

---

“Better they sense you and be confused than sense you and realize the source.” He shook his head, worried. “Demons will want what you have, Noah. They will do what they can to make you give up your secret.” Not that he knew how he’d done it… They didn’t know that.

---

“I am not afraid. I have killed many demons in my time in this world. You do not need to start worrying for me now just because your comrade blurted out what I am.” It had complicated matters, but he thought it'd turned out alright.

---

“What if the templars realize what you are? What if the wrong mages realize what you are?” He wasn’t assured. “They might try to kill you or take you.” There were a lot of people, as well as beings, that stood to gain from his ability. “It’s dangerous for you, love.”

---

“They do not know my abilities. I have this advantage over anyone who should try to take me. You do not need to worry.” He kissed his cheek.

---

He still wasn’t convinced, but it seemed Noah was confident. He decided to let it drop for now, though he kept the distance he’d created between them. “...What were they thinking?” There was so much about this situation that he could be judged on. He was sure they were judging him, he just didn’t know how much.

---

“They were too curious about me to worry too much about you being with me. Fenris had some judgemental thoughts on the matter, but I know you do not care what he thinks.” He had picked up on some things, of course. Like Hawke wondering if he changed himself for Anders in bed.

---

That was one benefit to him being a spirit he supposed. “Of course he did, I’m sure he has some judgmental thoughts about Milos too, for daring to stoop so low as to be with a mage like me. An abomination like me. He probably thinks a spirit is a better fit for someone like me, so that’s nice at least.” The sarcasm was heavy in his voice.

“If anyone else asks, will tell them that we are together, but I don’t want to go out of our way to tell anyone else about us.” People could assume what they wanted to assume when they saw them together. Everyone that needed to know knew, both their status and what Noah what was.

—-

“At least he does not want Milos dead. It would have been very unfortunate if he had made a move and I had to hurt him.” He wouldn't have killed him. But he would have made a point of deterring him from trying again.

“Can we hold hands when we walk outside?” If he didn't want to advertise their status, he could distance himself.

He would have hurt him if he tried. If Fenris tried to do anything to the man he loved, he would make him regret it. He’d also make sure Hawke kicked him out - someone that would try to kill one of their own didn’t deserve to stay with them.

“...We can, but I still think it would be safer for you to stay invisible, except for when you have to.” Still, he moved in and took his hand again.

He raised their joined hands and kissed the back of Anders’. “I do not think Hawke would kick him out for attacking me. I am not one of your group, though he would like to make use of me. I am only yours.”

---

“Then Hawke would lose his healer.” He wouldn’t stand for it. It would be a matter of choosing between them and if Hawke thought he didn’t need someone as valuable as him, then so be it.

“I am sure he would not risk that. You are invaluable to him.” But it shouldn't be a concern. Unless the warrior caught him alone, anyway. “It is unfortunate Fenris is so hateful. He needs help.”

---

“He’s beyond help.” Hawke was pretty good about keeping them away from each other - the reason he wasn’t utilized more was because Hawke used Fenris a lot, but between the two of them, Anders knew he was more valuable to him. “He’s awful - I wish Hawke would just get rid of him.”

“He may not be beyond help. But if I try to help him and he recognizes my presence, he may attack. It is best I leave him alone, at least for now.” He didn't want to stir up trouble where he wasn't wanted.

---

“No, not just for now.” He didn’t want him trying to help him. He didn’t deserve his help. Anders couldn’t but help having his feelings color the way he felt about Noah trying to help him. He didn’t want Noah to do anything for that bigot.

“I will leave him be.” He didn't think Fenris was too far gone. Not like Meredith. But he knew trying to intervene could tear apart their entire group. If Anders wanted him to stay away from the warrior, he would.

---

He felt better with that confirmation. “Thank you, love.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He knew how much he liked to help everyone and he was sure Fenris was someone that needed a lot of help. That would have to be be someone else’s responsibility.

“Maybe some other Compassion who is a little more subtle than I am will stumble upon him.” Unlikely, but not impossible. More importantly, Anders was a little more comfortable. “Why does Justice dislike ale so much? Other than the foul taste?”

---

He highly doubted that he would ever come across another Compassion as he wasn’t a mage. Noah was basically the only one he might ever meet. It didn’t matter to him, though, and and he didn’t feel the need to say as much. The change is subject was welcome. “He doesn’t like that it impairs the judgement of anyone that drinks it. He thinks it makes the weak even weaker and more prone to indulgences. More prone to dangerous behavior.” He shrugged. He wasn’t exactly wrong, but he thought that he was being over dramatic about it.

---

“Then why does he forbid you to drink? You are not weak or prone to dangerous behavior. You may get a little silly with alcohol, but I believe that is the point.” He asked with a raise of his brow. He simply didn’t understand why his fellow spirit had such strong feelings about it.

---

“The same reason he forbade me from most things that were solely for me.” He gave their hands a little swing. “I missed sex more than I missed alcohol, so I’m alright.” He had all of the sex he could want, so he was pretty happy these days.

---

“Well, we have that need covered at least.” He chuckled, glad that he’d given him what he missed more than inebriation. “Perhaps when Justice has his own body you and I could have a drink together. Something that tastes better than that ale.”

---

The disapproval returned in full force. Justice couldn’t believe he would not only condone that behavior, but encourage and take part. “Justice doesn’t understand why you want to.” The feeling was strong enough that he felt better saying it than just ignoring it. “I wouldn’t mind.”

---

“Because I am not weak nor prone to dangerous behavior and neither are you. I do not see any harm in it as an occasional experience.” He still didn’t understand why Justice felt so strongly about it. But he knew Anders might enjoy it after so long without.

---

It makes everyone weak and prone to dangerous behavior, the spirit argued in his head. It was nothing Anders hadn’t already heard and this time he didn’t bother to say it aloud. “Justice has memories of me doing things I shouldn’t while drunk - there will be no convincing him.”

---

“Oh...perhaps I have not seen enough of the dangers for myself. I have seen terrible cases, of course. But only typically mortals just act silly and do not do any harm.” He didn’t mind waiting until Anders had his own body to try it with him.

---

“Silly and vulnerable,” he answered. The reply hadn’t come from him and he tried to calm Justice, assuring him that he wouldn’t be drinking anything any time soon. Luckily they were close the the clinic at this point and that was enough of a distraction as he unlocked the door and moved inside.

---

“...Yes, I suppose that it true. Then I will stay sober to protect you.” He hadn't considered that. Perhaps Justice had a point. He moved into the clinic, glad to be home with him and out of the public eye, though the streets had been pleasantly quiet.

---

Anders shook his head to himself. They were both being silly, as far as he was concerned. He has glad to be back, though, and he locked the door behind them. “I’m glad that’s over.” He never intended on taking him back there, though he was sure the others that were interested would wander by in their own time.

---

“I am too. I would like to meet your friends again, but individually. Together they are overwhelming. ...And two of them I would like to avoid for obvious reasons.” The one who wanted him dead and the demon who had called him out.

---

“If we ever have time.” He never had time for anything these days. He went to him and slid his arms around him, happy to be alone with him where he could be all over him. “Want to lay down or do you want to do something before bed?”

---

“Perhaps not before bed, but I would like to learn more games.” He wrapped his arms snugly around him in return. “I do not really understand them, but I think I would enjoy them.”

---

He smiled. He was happy that he wanted to do something to enjoy himself. “Maybe I’ll get a deck of cards so we can play together sometimes.” He wouldn’t mind that. It would be better than losing his coin to his friends.

---

“A game of chance. Otherwise I cannot help but cheat.” He was glad that the idea seemed to please Anders, though he was sure Justice disapproved. “I am glad I still lost at dice even though I cheated.”

---

“You cheated?” It took a moment, but then he realized why he hadn’t listened to his advice. “Oh, I see. So you trusted their judgement over mine.” He was teasing him, amused.

---

“Yes. It seems that Varric wins a lot and he had strong feelings about what I should do. It felt foolish not to follow his judgment.” He looked a little sheepish, but he'd done what seemed logical.

---

He smirked. “So it was foolish to follow mine.” He knew he didn’t mean it that way, it was just hard not to tease him. He leaned in to press a kiss to his cheek, then he pulled away from him. “Let’s write a little before bed.” He was still working on his manifesto and now that he had Noah around, sometimes he had him listen to what he was working on for his opinion.

---

“Yes. We should work on it while we have the time.” They didn't often have much time at the end of the day to put into it. It was important and he never refused the suggestion to help him work on it. He followed him to the desk and took a seat on the edge of it.

---

He moved to sit down in his seat and used a little fire to light a candle. His manifesto was still laid out from when he worked on it last and it didn’t take long for him to pick up from where he’d left off. They could write for an hour or two and then retire to the nook. It sounded like a wonderful night to him.

Chapter Text

It didn't surprise Noah that Hawke dropped by to visit before the week was out. It surprised him even less that Anders wasn't thrilled and wanted to be there for the entire conversation. He was intrigued by the offer to come along on missions - his abilities would be helpful and he would be able to stay at Anders’ side and keep him safe. However, his boyfriend was apprehensive and he couldn't help but agree. They shouldn't leave the clinic closed when they didn't have to. The healer had other concerns, but Noah was primarily worried about leaving people without anywhere to go if someone was injured.

They could revisit it if he was ever really needed for one of their missions, but he knew Anders was relieved when the rogue had left them and there was no more talk of disrupting their usual routine. It was stressful on the mage to handle all of this change that came with the exposure of both their relationship and him being a spirit, so routine was a comfort Noah was keen to restore to him.

The following day was delightfully predictable and routine. After his lover woke and they spent the morning together, he'd headed off to the Gallows. He returned in the evening an hour or so before closing time, and was glad that the clinic was quiet so they could snuggle up and talk about their respective days. They were in the process of cleaning up for the night when stolen kisses and touches began to turn into something more, as they often did. His arm wrapped around Anders, the rag in his hand forgotten as he kissed him deeply.

The lantern was still lit and so Milos let himself inside the clinic as he normally did unless he arrived too late and they were already closed up for the night. His cheeks colored and his stomach sank a little to find his boyfriend in the arms of his other boyfriend. They were locked in a deep kiss and they looked so caught up in each other. He was jealous, he couldn't deny it, and part of him was tempted to leave them to it. But he'd missed Anders. It was time they had a night together and Noah was going to have to share with him.

---

They were generally good about not getting too caught up while the clinic was still open. They shared a lot of moments whenever they had the opportunity and while there had been times where they’d almost got walked in on during a kiss, they were both aware enough that they always broke apart before anyone stepped inside. Anders could hear footsteps whenever the clinic was empty and Noah could hear thoughts.

Since they were about to close, though, it was easier to forget themselves and forget themselves they did. Anders didn’t hear the footsteps and his eyes were shut as he sucked on the spirit’s tongue, his fingers tracing the seams of his clothing. Clothing that he wanted to pull off so they could lay on one of the tables and writhe together.

---

Noah was honed in on Anders’ thoughts, eager for him to follow through on his whim. To pull the fabric away and bring them flush. But Milos’ jealousy eventually became sharp enough to pierce his fixation on Anders’ lust. He startled and pulled away from his love, turning to find Milos there watching them. The man's expression was hard to read, but his thoughts were still clearly jealous. “...Good evening, Milos.”

---

Anders was startled by his reaction and he followed his gaze to the man staring at them. He went red and folded his arms over himself. “...Hi.” He glanced at Noah and then back at Milos.

---

“The...uh, lantern was still lit so I let myself in. Sorry to interrupt…” He said with a bit of a sheepish smile.

Noah cocked his head a little. He wasn't sorry to interrupt at all. Milos was feeling considerably better now that they had separated.

---

“It’s okay.” He was as little disappointed, wanting Noah as he did, but he knew he had to make time for Milos. He hadn’t seen him in several days. “I’ll just… I’ll see him out.” He wanted to say goodbye to him, but he didn’t want to do it in front of Milos, so he’d walk him out and express himself while they were alone.

---

“Sure. I'll just wait here.” Milos stepped further inside and took a seat on one of the stools.

Noah took Anders’ hand and lead him out the door, knowing he was disappointed but wanting to encourage him. “It is alright. I want you to enjoy some time with him.”

---

“I know.” He pulled him to a stop near the lantern, out of the sight. “I’ll miss you.” He was so earnest, pulling him back in to kiss him again, just as deep and desperate as he’d been inside.

---

He closed his eyes, melting right back into his kiss. He cupped his cheeks in his hands tenderly and gave him a soft smile when the kiss broke. “I will miss you too. But I should be back before you fall asleep.”

---

He knew he would be. “Love you.” He was always sure to tell him he loved him when he left. Even if that meant saying in his mind, if he didn’t want anyone hearing him.

---

“And I love you.” He kissed his lips once more. “Have fun with Milos.” He was sure he would, once the initial disappointment passed.

---


“I will.” He was sure he would. He would just miss him the entire time. He pulled away from him reluctantly and after staring at him, wanting to memorize him, he turned to head back inside. He put out the lantern as passed it and then shut the door behind him. “...How are you?”

---

“I'm good. I missed you…” Milos brightened as soon as he returned. He always missed him, though he was still getting back to town to see him pretty often. He doubted Anders missed him as much, caught up as he was with Noah.

---

He saw his enthusiasm and it brought a smile to his lips. “I missed you too.” He was right. He definitely didn’t miss him as much, simply because he didn’t have time to miss him. He was so busy and he was already having his needs met and more - it would take more time than they spent apart for him to really miss him.

He moved to him and gave his cheek a kiss. He wasn’t certain a kiss to the lips would be welcome so soon after having Noah’s tongue in his mouth.

---

“You look really good with him.” He told him after he got a kiss of his own, rising to his feet. There was still some jealousy there, but the important thing was that he was given his time. Noah had left graciously and Anders seemed happy to see him, even though he’d had to send Noah away. As long as he was still given his time, it was what he needed from this.

---

He wasn’t sure what to say to that, so he wrote it off. “Anyone would look good with him.” He would more than make up for the flaws of whoever he was with. “He went back to what he use to look like the other night for a demonstration of his ability and it was really strange to see him like that again.” He’d gotten so use to his current appearance. It was how he pictured him now - plain be damned.

---

He wondered how much different things might be if Noah had stayed that way in the first place. If he’d remained an emaciated corpse. “I bet that was jarring. I can’t blame him for using it though. If I could make myself that pretty, I’d do it.” Most people probably would.

---

“Me too,” he agreed. He had always felt he was handsome, but that had become less important to him over time and especially after joining with Justice. Still, he couldn’t deny he loved beautiful things anymore than the next person and he’d love to be that beautiful. “Anyone would.”

---

“But alas. We’re stuck with what we’ve got. The good news is, I like what you’ve got.” He moved in as if to kiss him, but instead moved past him, reaching back to give Anders’ ass a little smack. He picked up the rag that Noah had left behind. “I’ll help you finish getting cleaned up so we can hang out for a little while.”

---

He snorted, turning to watch him. “Sounds good to me.” He picked up where he left off, not as distracted after swapping boyfriends. “Anything new? How’s Lady?” He liked to get updates on her progress, since he otherwise rarely saw her.

---

“Lady’s great.” He was really pleased with the way she was coming along. “I think you could ride her soon. In fact...maybe we could give that a try when you come out to the ranch to visit. That’s where she’d be most comfortable.”

---

His eyes flicked up at him. “Some day, sure.” He didn’t know when that would be, but he figured it wouldn’t be anytime soon. Not with the shift their relationship had taken. Not that it had really shifted, it just had opened to include something that neither of them had expected.

---

“Someday soon, I hope.” He paused in his work, meeting his eyes. “I haven’t changed my mind about you meeting my family. I’m not wanting to rush things, especially with Willow, but she asks about you a lot. She’s ready to spend a little time with you.” It needed to be her idea and at this point, it had been her idea for awhile.

---

He looked away. “...Are you sure?” He knew that Milos was still getting use to the fact that they weren’t in an exclusive relationship. He wasn’t sure he could handle it in the long run and if that was the case, maybe they shouldn't be getting too comfortable.

---

“Yeah. It’s not like you’re moving in. I just think a dinner with the family would be nice. You can see where I live. Where Lady lives too.” He thought Anders would like the ranch.

---

“No, but you can’t deny it’s taking things to… a different level.” He stopped what he was doing and leaned into the table he was cleaning. “There’s been a big change and I want to make sure you’re really okay with it before we get too far.” He really didn’t have that much of an issue meeting his family, but there were some things that were making him wary.

---

“It is. But...it’s a level I want to be on.” He wanted to take things further. He wanted to establish his own place in Anders’ heart. He stopped what he was doing as well, setting the rag aside. “There’s been a big change, but...it doesn’t really change things for us.”

---

“...Okay, if you’re certain.” He was still hesitant, but if Milos still felt the same way he had before all of this, then maybe it would be okay. “I don’t really want Willow to know what the situation is, though.” He doubted he did either. “I’ve told my friends about it and I don’t intend on hiding my relationship with either of you from anyone… but I think she should be the exception.”

---

“I don’t really know how to handle her or my sister knowing about the situation. I think at least for now, we should keep it from them both. As far as they’re concerned, we’re exclusive.” He didn’t expect either of them to understand, at least not now. But maybe eventually.

---

He completely understood why he wouldn’t want his sister knowing. He didn’t really want her knowing either. He could only imagine what she would think of him. Still, he didn’t want to have to hide what he had with Noah. He didn’t want to risk the possibility of her finding out some other way and exploding on them. On him, specifically. “Are you worried she won’t approve of our relationship if she knows that I’m with someone else?” Probably and she probably would, if she was a good sister.

---

“She just needs to get to know you first. Just like Willow does.” He said gently, taking his time to consider his answer. “I’ve been alone for some time now and they know it’s been a long time since I’ve been caught up in someone like this. I don’t want them thinking that you’re taking advantage of me or anything like that. Once they get to understand what kind of person you are...then maybe they’d understand what we’re doing and why it’s okay.”

---

He hummed. “...Alright, if you think that’s best.” He wasn’t going to argue with him about it. He didn’t want Willow to know and he wasn’t keen on his sister knowing, either. “Your sister doesn’t come into Kirkwall, does she?” If not, then then the chance of her finding out was non-existent.

---

Very rarely. I do almost all of the errands into town, especially now that I have the excuse to see you.” He gave him a little smile. “There isn’t any reason she should find out about you and Noah. If she does, I’ll address it.” He studied him a moment before going on. “Maybe they could meet Noah someday. If this keeps working for us and after they’ve gotten to know you. I know Willow met him that first day, but she doesn’t remember.”

---

“If you’re certain.” It would be easier for him as well, as long as his sister didn’t ask poke or prod too much. “Maybe.” He definitely wasn’t going to push for it anytime soon, if ever. He didn’t know what was going to happen and he still didn’t want to move too fast, especially since they were in different places regarding their relationship. “We can do a visit, but I don’t want it to be a constant thing. Not yet.” If he eventually found the time to visit him and they agreed it was a good idea, then maybe he could go over there with some consistency.

---

“That’s okay. I think just one visit for a start would be good.” He still wanted to take things slow. But he now felt a little bit pressured by Anders’ feelings for Noah. That if they took things too slow, that they would stagnate in place of his stronger feelings for the spirit. “It...would mean a lot to me if I can show you the place where I grew up.”

---

He warmed at that and pushed off of the table to go him. “Only if we can catch frogs together.” He set his hand on his arm and gave it a stroke and a squeeze. He gave him another kiss, again, on his cheek, but this time he stayed closer, giving him the opportunity for a more direct kiss, if he wanted it.

---

He hadn’t realized that he’d been tense until Anders’ touch softened him. “There are big frogs out at the pond this time of year.” He stole a kiss from him when he lingered, though it was a playful little peck. “But you have to be quick enough.”

---

“I can be quick when I want to be.” Enough to catch a frog, he wasn’t sure, but he was definitely smarter than a frog, so maybe he could work that to his advantage. “Or maybe I can use a little magic to help me out.” His hand fell from his arm to the floor and with a flick, it began to glow, paralyzing the man.

All but his eyes.

---

It was alarming at first, having never seen magic like this. He wasn’t sure if he would have yelped or laughed if he had the ability to do either. As it was, all he could do was watch Anders while he remained frozen, not concerned once the initial shock had passed.

---

Anders smiled and leaned in for another kiss. Rather than unfreeze him, he decided to take advantage of the situation he had him in and began to strip him leisurely. “You’re not a frog, but you’ll have to do, I suppose,” he murmured as he cupped his sack and rolled it in his palm carefully.

---

He’d been expecting to be released, but this was a rather fun turn of events. He couldn’t respond in any way other than to follow his movements with keenly interested eyes. However, as he was touched, another part of him was able to respond in a way that made his approval of this idea clear.

---

He smiled. It was a good thing that the cock wasn’t a muscle, or his touches wouldn’t be rewarded. He slowly sank down to his knees, peppering kisses along his pelvis. He wanted to be a tease and he had a lot of ideas for how to be one, but for now he needed him worked up, so he close his lips around him and began to suck him.

---

He would have groaned if he could. Slip his fingers through his hair. Rocked his hips into his mouth. It was wonderfully maddening to be immobilized this way and all he could do was watch him with dark, hungry eyes while he sucked him.

---

Anders was rather enjoying himself. He watched him, meeting his gaze, able to tell a lot from the look in his eyes. He sucked him hard, making up for his lack of movement by taking him deep, as if the suction itself was what was making him bob. He worked him for a few minutes, making sure he was left wanting when he pulled away and stood.

He stripped out of his robes and looked him over hungrily, though rather than return to him, he moved farther away. He went to one of his shelves of empty bottles and grabbed a rather large one, as well as some oil. Then he hopped onto the work table in front of him, leaning back and starting to stroke his own cock.

“Milos…”

---

It was an incredible show. Watching him suck him, then undress himself, and now seeing him work himself that way. If Anders wanted to get him riled, he had more than succeeded. He was beginning to ache with need, and yet, he was loving it. Even if he remained paralyzed this way and only got to watch him, he would be thrilled.

---

He worked himself as thoroughly as he’d worked Milos, pumping his cock, rubbing his balls, making sure he was as hard as could be. “Milos, come fuck me,” he begged, letting his hand slide down to his entrance. Rubbing there too and toying with the tight ridges. He reached for the oil and and spilled it between his legs, letting it run down to where he was touching himself so he could slip his finger in smoothly.

---

He looked so good, so hungry and ready for him. And yet, he could only watch him, teasing and begging for him. If he could have made a sound, it would now be a whimper. He wanted him so much he ached and yet, he couldn’t get enough of this incredible vantage point.

---

The bottle, while not larger than Noah, was a little bit larger than Milos and he soon grabbed it with his dry hand and replaced his finger with it. His body accepted it readily and as he began to pump it inside him, it was obvious he’d used it for this purpose before. It was the perfect size and shape not only for his ass, but for his hand to keep a grip on it so he wouldn’t accidentally lose it. He moaned, his slicked hand lifting to stroke his cock, making sure he was making a show of everything he was doing.

---

There was something especially enticing about the familiarity of this. That he’d clearly used this to please himself before. It was like he was secretly spying in on him, touching himself and moaning his name.

---

He continued to beg, swapping between making it sound like Milos was the one fucking him, rather than the bottle, and like he was waiting for him. Like he couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t come to him and fill him up. He writhed this way and that, telling him that he needed it harder, faster, and giving himself what he was asking for. He was getting so into his show that it didn’t take long for it to come to ahead. For him to shake and spill all over himself, the bottle coming to rest inside him and his concentration breaking. With it, the spell.

He knew it had broken and he looked over at him, panting, his eyes hooded.

---

When he was freed, Milos stumbled forward. He hadn’t been aware of how hard he’d been trying to lean forward, to get closer to him. He moved to him in a heartbeat, sliding in between his thighs and pressing into the stretched muscles where the bottles had been. He groaned and grunted in feverish need as he pounded him, so desperate to have the writhing man who’d already taken his pleasure.

---

Anders cried in delight when the man mounted him as soon as he could get to him. He used his hands to hold his legs in, struggling to not writhe as his cock pounded him where he was already too sensitive. His cock couldn’t harden, but it continued to leak all over himself, the pitiful sounds he was making as pleasured as they were whining.

---

He fucked him wildly, unable to think of anything but giving him everything he’d asked for. Everything that he’d been begging for while he’d been pleasuring himself with the bottle. He was so slick with the oil that was smeared everywhere and he gripped his hips to brace him while he took him relentlessly.

---

“Milos!” He couldn’t beg anymore. He couldn’t manage much of anything, so when got the air for it, all he could say was his name. But did he say it, his name filling the clinic as much as the rest of his sounds. He was bright red and his cock, still spilling drop after drop, was starting to stiffen slightly as he showed no signs of slowing down.

--

It was too desperate to last, but that hardly mattered. He already knew that once wasn’t going to be enough, not after Anders got him riled up this way. He gripped his hips hard enough to bruise when he came, crying out as he snapped his hips erratically inside of him. He was panting harshly when he finally eased to a stop, watching the man beneath him with dark, hungry eyes.

---

Anders was panting alongside him, his limbs shaking as everything stilled. He met his gaze and managed a heated look in return. A look that would’ve been seductive before any of this started, but was even more effective while his cheeks were flushed and he seemed so satisfied. He liked how rough he’d gotten and the discomfort had been as welcome as the pleasure.

---

“That was a fun trick.” He murmured to him and he slowly pulled back and out of him. It was a unique use of his magic in their play, anyway. He leaned down over him and ran his tongue slowly over his stomach, lapping up a bit of the mess he’d made cumming over himself before he’d freed him.

---

He hummed warmly, watching him lick up his cum. “I have a lot of fun tricks.” He lifted a hand and ran it through his hair, encouraging him. “More than you would ever believe.” He liked to have fun in bed and he liked to be creative about it. If he couldn’t be creative, then at least mixing it up from time to time was nice.

The only person he could fuck over and over again and never change anything was Noah. Before it was because their sex had been about closeness and now… just looking at him was enough to get him going.

---

“I look forward to learning all of them.” He murmured as he drew his tongue over his skin once more. He didn’t even want to know what he and Noah got up to together. They both had unique powers, after all.

---

He continued to stroke his fingers through his hair, observing him lazily. “We made a mess of the table you cleaned.” Looks like they’d have to clean it all over again. They might as well make use of it again if it was already ‘dirty’, though.

---

“We have a bad habit of doing that.” They made good use of the tables, rarely making it to the nook before their fun began. “I don't mind cleaning it up again. But not until I'm good and done with you.”

---

“Oh yeah? You have big plans?” he teased, slipping his hands beneath his own head to prop it up. He was sure they weren’t done and he wanted to continue to make to fun.

“I do. Unless you freeze me like that again. Then I guess it will all depend on what your plans are.” He settled over him once more, his hand finding him and giving him a firm squeeze.

---

“Is that a hint? You want to be frozen?” Maybe instead of magic, they could use cloth to keep him still. That would be equally fun, wouldn’t it?

“Not tonight, I got a thorough teasing already. I want my hands all over you now.” He rubbed and squeezed him, his blood beginning to heat again.

---

He was still sensitive, but not as much now. He moaned, his hips lifting to press into his hand. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

Chapter Text

On the day Anders was to meet his family, Milos arrived in the late afternoon. The idea was to have dinner and so it wouldn't be one of their usual late-evening affairs. When he stepped into the clinic, he was relieved to find that Anders wasn't caught up in Noah this time. The spirit was there, having planned to run the clinic in the healer’s absence, but he was busy helping mix up salves.

“Good afternoon, Milos.” Noah greeted him warmly. He'd been looking forward to this day. To give Anders a break from the clinic and missions and let him experience at least a few hours of a more typical human life.

---

Anders was nervous, but it wasn’t a big deal. It was just dinner and he could do dinner. When Milos stepped in to fetch him, he quickly stopped what he was doing. “Just a minute.” He wanted to make sure he was presentable, so he went to the mirror to fuss for a few seconds.

When he was done, he turned and looked between them. His eyes lingered on Noah and with a little hesitation, he went to him. “I’ll see you later,” he told him, and, after a further beat of hesitation, he leaned in to give him a loving kiss.

---

He returned the kiss, sweet and tender. When it broke, he gave him a smile. “How do you know?” He thought he looked fine, but he knew Anders was fussing over it and so he told him so. “You look very nice. Try to have fun.” He murmured to him.

Milos waited patiently near the door, wanting to let them have their moment. It seemed a good sign that Anders didn’t feel the need to tell him goodbye alone. That doing this in front of him made this feel more normal somehow.

---

He smiled, happy to hear his thoughts on how he looked. “Love you,” he told him, though he kept his voice down. He stepped away from him, going to where Milos was waiting and offering a hand. “Ready to go?”

---

“Ready.” Milos smiled and took his hand, giving Noah a nod before starting out with him. “I don’t know why, but I’m a little nervous. I really think you’re gonna like the ranch. It’s just...a part of me you haven’t seen yet. A big part of me.”

---

“I’m excited to see it.” He was. He was really curious about where he lived and what it was like on his ranch. He was curious how much land he had and how maintained it was. If it was just him and his sister, he imagined it was a lot of work. “I suppose you do know a lot more about me than I know about you.” At least concerning his day to day life. Anders had asked Milos a lot of questions about himself and hadn’t shared that much himself.

---

“I don’t know about that. I think there’s a lot more to you that I don’t know.” He had the carriage waiting just outside of town for them, but Lady was not one of the horses he had pulling them to the ranch. He wanted Anders to see her out in the pasture, where she was most happy and comfortable. “I can’t read your mind like Noah can. I’m restricted to knowing what you tell me about yourself.”

---

“Lucky for you, I’m fairly forthcoming.” He’d told him everything he needed to know when he needed to know it. He hadn’t hidden anything from him. “Besides, if you already knew everything there was to know about me, you’d probably be bored.” He was a little surprised that Lady wasn’t there, but he didn’t comment, climbing onto his spot and settling in for the ride.

---

“You are. And you’re probably right. I like learning new things about you.” He settled into his own seat and kissed his cheek before setting the carriage into motion. “And I imagine I’ll learn a little more about you tonight. Like how good you are at catching frogs.”

---

“I mean, I’m an expert frog catcher, obviously, so you already know that much.” He scooted closer to him and slid his arms around Milos’. He wanted to be close to him and he knew he had to put in effort to make it work between them.

---

“Yeah, if you cheat and use your magic.” He smiled and leaned into him. “You’re in luck. There are little ducklings out there too. Just hatched a few days ago. You can try to catch one of those too if you’re brave enough to withstand the wrath of a mama duck.”

---

He brightened. “Ducklings are so cute.” All baby animals were cute and nothing warmed his heart quite like new life. “I’m even more excited!” He certainly sounded excited. His favorite part of the evening was undoubtedly playing around in his pond.

---

It didn’t take as long to reach the ranch as it normally took to reach their spot out by the lake. It wasn’t far from Kirkwall, but far enough that there wasn’t another home or building in sight. Simple, wide open spaces and thick grass surrounding the worn dirt path that lead up to the barn where the carriage was parked. The house could be seen from the barn - a large old house meant for a family larger than the one he had. But he was more eager to show him the pastures.

He released the horses from the carriage and opened the barn door, letting them out into the large field where the mares and two new foals were out and about. Some were grazing, some were over by the fence wickering and watching the stallions in the other pasture, but others were running and playing. Among those were Lady, racing around with one of the white mares Milos often brought on his trips to see Anders.

---

Anders was very interested in everything he was seeing. The house was impressive. At least, it was much larger than the house he’d grown up in. The house he’d grown up in and had only a few rooms. “I wasn’t sure how many horses I was expecting.” He took in what he see, wondering if there were more or if every horse he had was currently in the field. He was glad to see that Lady seemed to be enjoying herself, running around as she had when she had been pulled from her herd.

---

“I usually have about thirty, depending on what people are looking for. A lot of people don’t have needs or means for a horse full time, so I keep plenty well-trained mounts on hand for people to loan people for their needs. I’ve got six out right now.” He grabbed a bag by the barn door and handed it to Anders - it was full of chunks of carrot. “Let’s say hello to Lady. We’ll probably get a whole five steps into the pasture before the girls come over here to see if we have treats for them.

---

“Including me.” He certainly didn’t have the means for a horse, but thanks to Milos, he as good as had one. He took the bag from him and moving out into the field, anticipating being overrun by horses. He dug his hand in the bag for a carrot, ready to give it to whichever one got to him first.

---

They were indeed overrun by horses. Most of them were measured and polite, moving to stand in front of the pair and wickering in greeting while they waited for their treats. Some of the younger girls, Lady included, were a bit more forward. She moved right up to Anders, nudging him with her nose in greeting and eager to take the carrot he had ready.

---

He hadn’t expected Lady to come right to him like that and he couldn’t help but smile as he held his palm out flat to offer her the carrot. “Hello, Lady. As beautiful as ever,” he complimented her, giving her snout a stroke with his free hand. It wasn’t until he was nudged by another horse that he tore his focus from her and pulled out another carrot for one of the other mares.

---

Milos had wanted Anders to get to greet the horses first, but as more of them moved in for their treat, he reached into the bag to grab some carrots as well. He didn’t want him to get overwhelmed. “Maybe after dinner you can take her for a little ride. She’s doing a lot better with it these days.”

---

“Ride her?” He wasn’t so sure about that. If he’d known he was going to go riding, he wouldn’t have worn robes. “...As long as it’s only you watching me.” For the sake of decency - he was going to have to pull his robes up enough that he could get his legs on either side of her and he could imagine that would look rather silly.

---

“It’ll just be us. I can lend you a pair of trousers if you want to give it a try.” He mistook Anders’ apprehension as nerves about riding a newly-broken horse. He hadn’t even been imagining him trying to hike his robes up high enough for riding.

---

That would be much preferable. “Sure. We have to get use to each other eventually.” He looked back at Lady and then snuck her another carrot, before leaning in to press a kiss to her snout. “Silly girl.” She wasn’t silly at all, but he was amused by her eagerness for the treats.

---

He smiled, glad to see the two of them getting along so well. “That’s enough, ladies.” He started to guide Anders along through the pasture once they’d each gotten at least a couple carrots. They could hand some off to the males on the way by their pasture. “I can show you a little more of the place, then we can stop in and see how the girls are doing with dinner.”

---

“Sure.” This entire evening was Milos’. Whatever he’d planned was alright with him, though he had to admit that he was glad that he hadn’t brought him inside to greet them immediately. Easing into it this way was nice. “So where’s that pond of yours from here?”

---

“It’s over this way. Past the garden and the chickens.” Past the stallion pasture was a garden that again seemed as if it was meant for a larger family. It was far more food than they needed, but it kept their larder full all year round. Walking past that, the pond came into view. It was small enough that every bank was visible, but wide enough that it would be a chore to swim across. There were little hutches built for the ducks where their eggs were usually collected, much like the chickens. But as he’d said, they were clearly not all harvested because a row of fluffy little ducklings were meandering behind their mother as she grazed around the pond.

---

After taking in everything, he came to a stop. He looked around, in disbelief, feeling a strange welling of jealousy. What would it have been like to grow up in a place like this? It was so idyllic it was ridiculous, especially considering the mess of a city nearby - why had he ever wanted to leave?

This was exactly what he’d imagined for himself and he was so jealous of him. Living here with his family. His parents, his wife, his child. He would’ve happily lived his entire life on this farm, but Anders couldn’t imagine this life for himself anymore. It just… wouldn’t work for him. He was getting emotional and he had to swallow it down.

“It’s beautiful,” he managed, knowing he had to react if he wasn’t going to draw attention to himself.

---

“I'm glad you like it.” He smiled at him warmly. “I thought you would. The great outdoors looks good on you.” A little fresh air and sunshine after working in the sewers all day.  Maybe he'd like it enough that he'd want to come back. To get out of Kirkwall and spend some of his evenings out here.

---

He offered him a slight smile, but started to move towards the ducklings. Not to actually try to catch one, but to put some space between them while he worked through his emotions. They were cute and it did warm him to see them.

---

The mother duck turned toward Anders, watching him warily. She didn’t seem especially worried about this newcomer moving closer to her babies, but she was going to keep a watchful eye on him. A fish jumped and broke up the smooth water, though the other ducks cruising around over the surface of the pond didn’t seem to mind. It was all beautiful to Milos, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of Anders.

---

He could see that he was being watched, so he stopped where he was and lowered to the ground, sitting so he wasn’t as imposing and so she could rest easy that he wasn’t coming any closer. He let himself take it all in and jealous as he still was, he also felt at peace.

Even Justice was taken by how wonderful it was. So much life and beauty around them. The spirit really liked it and though they got out often enough, it was never to places like this. It was calming, even to him.

---

Milos let him be for a little while, but since it seemed he was comfortable, he eventually moved to sit near him. It wasn’t the mother duck, but another duck waddled closer to investigate them where they sat. “I bribe all my animals to like me. She’s hoping we have snacks.”

---

He chuckled. “I wish I had animals to bribe.” He had Snow, so that was nice. He really liked Snow and he was glad everyday that he was there, even when he was caught up in work and only passively aware of him lazing about. Or playing about. He watched the duck come closer, staying still so as to not spook it.

---

“When we come back out after dinner, we’ll bring some peas out for them. You can practice bribing mine.” He watched the duck approach them, giving the hem of his trousers a few curious pecks before she moved to Anders to check him out.

---

Anders smiled and he carefully reached out, making sure not to startle her, so he could stroke her. “There used to be all kinds of animals in my village.” His family had taken care of chickens and their neighbor had several cows - they’d often swapped goods. Still, even their little village hadn’t been as beautiful as this place was.

---

“Oh yeah? Did your family have a lot of animals? Or were there just a lot that your village took care of as a community?” He’d never spent much time in villages, so he wasn’t exactly sure how that would work. But maybe he’d grown up taking care of animals too and it was something they had in common.

---

“Sort of both. My family had chickens.” They hadn’t been the only family with chickens, but they’d provided more eggs than anyone else had. They were definitely a community that had worked together though, all helping each other survive by doing more than they had to.

---

“We’ve always had chickens too.” He was sure Anders had seen them on their way back to the pond. “When I was a kid, I always tried to get my sister to be the one to feed them. We used to have this big, mean hen. I was scared to death of her.”

---

He chuckled. “All of my chickens were sweet.” He’d loved them. They’d always greeted him when he came out to feet them and sometimes they’d even hopped right in his lap when he’d sit down to play with the cats. “Is your sister older or younger than you?” He couldn’t remember if he’d said and if so, what he’d said.

---

“The ones we’ve got now are nice. I don’t know what was wrong with that hen.” He smiled and stroked the duck that had began to nibble lightly at Anders’ robes. “Mara is older than me. She was never afraid of chickens.”

---

“Oh, you’re the baby.” He nudged him, but his eyes were still fixed on the duck. “Hello there,” he murmured to her, continuing to stroke her. She was wonderfully smooth and sleek. “So is your sister as attractive as you are?” he teased, knowing only a little about her and certainly not what she looked like.

---

“She kinda looks like me, so I guess she’s almost as attractive. Don’t go trying to pick up my sister now.” He chuckled and nudged him back. He nearly made a joke about him having too many lovers already, but decided to keep that to himself. While one duck got attention from Anders, others started to move into investigate them slowly but surely.

---

“Pick her up?” He sounded scandalized. “Here I thought you’d have my back and set me up.” He was pleased when they were surrounded by ducks, brushing whichever ones were brave enough to get within arm’s reach.

---

“You’re not really her type. I think she might go for your friend Hawke, though.” Not that they’d likely meet. He picked up one of the ducks and pulled it into his lap, though it didn’t seem to mind.

---

“Oh, so she likes actually rugged men.” He leaned back on his free hand, watching him. He hummed to himself, “I’d offer to introduce her, but I don’t think Hawke has time for silly things like relationships.” Despite being a little bit of a flirt, he never really showed interest in anyone.

“Then again, I don’t really either, but I still manage.”

---

“That’s okay, I don’t think Mara’s very interested. Besides, the only reason I get to have a social life is because she doesn’t have one.” Though he was joking, it was true. If she wasn’t always around, he wouldn’t have opportunities to sneak off to see Anders.

---

“Her loss,“ he replied lightly. It was nice of her to allow her little brother a life though; he knew he wouldn’t have much of a social life himself if it wasn’t for Noah. All he’d had were the occasional night in the Hanged Man. It was just another thing that Noah had changed for him. “Your ducks are very sweet.” Not as sweet as his chickens had been, but still very sweet.

“They are. They're even sweeter when you bring them treats.” He watched as the gathering of ducks eventually drew the mother and her ducklings closer to investigate as well. “They like you even without a bribe, though. They're good judges of character.”

---

Anders watched the ducklings, filled with anticipation as they came closer. He was cautious in his movements as he reached out to touch one when it got close enough. “They’re so cute.” He had such a soft spot for baby animals. “Maybe they’re horrible judges of character - maybe I’m going to eat them up.”  He risked plucking up the duckling to cup it in hands.

“Nah, they know better.” Milos said, though he chuckled at the mother's nervous antics, pacing around while Anders held her baby. He scooped up another of the ducklings but gave the mother a reassuring pat with his free hand. “...I'm really glad you came out here with me.”

---

He tore his eyes away from the duckling and looked at him. “Me too.” It was nice to get away and Milos was a good man to get away with. “I suppose we should wait to hunt frogs until I get that change of clothes, huh?”

“Probably so. And I think Mara would appreciate us coming to dinner before we get muddy.” He set his duckling back on the ground and eased the other duck from his lap before he rose to his feet and offered Anders a hand. “Why don't we go see if it's ready?”

---

Anders pulled his own duckling in, giving it a kiss on to top of it’s head, before setting it down. He took his hand and helped pull himself to his feet. “So is there anything I should know before we meet them?” Any last minute considerations?

---

“I don’t think so. We’re not all that complicated.” They lived a very simply life by comparison. “You don’t have anything to be nervous about. You’ll like them.” Still, he took his time in leading him back toward the house, giving him time to prepare himself and just enjoy the scenery of the ranch.

---

He nodded and left it at that, enjoying the walk back. As they came to the house, he admired it as much as he’d admired everything else. “You’re very lucky,” he informed him, though he was sure he already knew that. “I look forward to the tour.”

---

“I know I am. Even luckier now that I have you.” He lead him into the house and was immediately greeted by the smell of the dinner being cooked nearby. As soon as the door closed, he heard rushing footsteps as Willow came racing out of the kitchen to see them. She jumped into her father’s arms, not doubting for a moment that he would catch her, but her eyes were on Anders. “Hi…”

---

Anders recognized her from before, but this time she wasn’t just a scared child crying nearby because her father was hurt. He was nervous, but he gave her a smile. “Hello, Willow.” He had never interacted with a child with a relationship hanging over him. It felt strange.

---

Milos rested her on his hip, glad to have the two of them meet again under better circumstances. “Do you remember Anders? You met him before, didn’t you?”

She nodded. That afternoon was a little hazy for her, but she remembered the healer. “He helped.” Though she’d just hopped up into his arms, she slid down from her father’s hip to try lead them toward the kitchen.

Milos gave Anders a reassuring smile, sure he was nervous, and started for the kitchen. A slow, fat cat meandered across their path in the hallway but didn’t pay them much mind.

---

Anders was taking everything in, staying close to Milos. The cat was noted, but he otherwise continued on. It smelled good and his stomach gave a little grumble, though he was use to smelling food. With the donations coming into the clinic and the food being given out, the place often smelled of food these days.

---

When Willow got back into the kitchen, she remembered what she was supposed to be doing and quickly got back to setting the table. Mara was stirring a pot by the stove and she smiled to see their guest had arrived. “So you’re the man that’s been keeping my brother so busy.” She was a woman built a little like Aveline - tall and muscled, her skin tanned and freckled from her many hours working outside each day.

“He’s the one, yeah.” Milos chuckled and put a gentle hand on his boyfriend’s arm. “Mara, this is Anders. Anders, this is my older sister, Mara.”

---

“It’s nice to meet you.” He glanced her over and then looked at what she was cooking on the stove. “Whatever you’re making smells really good.” He was looking forward to eating whatever it was - he wasn’t picky.

---

“It's nothing fancy. Chicken, potatoes, and gravy. Whatever veggies looked best in the garden today.” She nodded toward the table. “Take a seat. It's just about ready.”

Milos lead Anders to the table and took his usual seat. “You did a good job setting the table, Willow.” He told his daughter as she dropped into her own chair.

---

Anders sat down beside him and nodded in agreement. “It looks very nice.” He pulled his plate in a little closer, straightening it slightly. Just to occupy himself. “So, besides setting tables, what else are you good at, Willow?”

---

“Riding horses.” She brightened a little, not expecting the man to ask her such a question. “I got to ride your Lady the other day. She's fast.”

“Yeah, I wasn't exactly sure she was ready to be ridden by a child.” Milos was a little sheepish. He hadn't been big on the idea, but he'd still allowed it. “But she's good with them and Lady did fine.”

---

“Really?” He was genuinely surprised. “That is impressive. I haven’t even ridden Lady.” He wasn’t sure he was ready to, but surely if a little girl could ride her, he could manage himself. “So you approve of Lady then?”

---

“I do. She's a good horse.” Willow nodded firmly as Mara began to load up their plates from the pots and pans filled on the stove.

“You think they're all good horses. But yes, Lady is a keeper.” Mara said once she took her seat to join them.

“They are all good.” Willow insisted and smiled when her father gave her a nod of agreement. “But Lady is really good.”

---

Anders thanked Mara for the food. “I guess I know how to pick them then.” He was a little pleased with himself, since everyone seemed to like her so much. He barely knew her himself, but he was increasingly proud that she was his.

---

“I can teach you how to ride.” Willow offered as she grabbed one of the rolls and dug into her dinner.

“Anders knows how to ride a horse. Just not a newly broken one.” Milos chuckled and gave his boyfriend a little nudge beneath the table. “He's not as hopeless as most of the city men that come around here for a horse anyway.”

---

“I see how it is. It seems I came here to get ribbed.” He didn’t mind, he was amused, though still anxious. “I guess we’re a good match - I can save you from the city and you can teach me how to survive in the country.” Not that he really needed help with that - that wasn’t the point of the jest.

---

“I need all the help I can get in the city. You'd probably do just fine out here without me. You just wouldn't be quite as good at riding new horses or catching frogs.” Milos smiled.

Willow perked up in her seat. “You catch frogs? In your robes?”

---

“I’m sure I could, but luckily your dad has a change of clothes for me, so I don’t have to get my robes all wet.” He wouldn’t have minded, he just would’ve have to been more careful about it. Thinking about it now, he ought to have changed into some normal clothes… just to not stand out so much. He was sure neither of the girls were used to seeing robes, not unless they wandered around the Gallows when they visited Kirkwall.

---                                                                                           

“Daddy doesn't like it when I play by the pond in my dresses. Not that your robes are a dress. But we have the same problem.” Willow’s cheeks colored a little as she spoke before her manners caught up to her.

“And that's why your dad has spare pants for Anders. His clothes are too nice to get all mucked up chasing frogs around.” Mara seemed amused and not especially surprised that playing by the pond was in their plans for the evening.

---

He snickered. “They’re close enough to dresses. Close enough that I know I would look splendid in a dress.” He thought robes were the superior clothing and that everyone, men and women, should wear them. He dug into his food, taking his time to savor every bite since it wasn’t often he was able to sit down and savor a meal like this.

---

“So Milos hasn't been all that detailed about how you two got together. But you met because you healed him after he'd been stabbed in a mugging, I know that much.” Mara looked pleased that he liked her cooking - it had been a long time since she'd cooked for anyone else. “It sounds like something out of a storybook.”

---

He wasn’t so sure it was storybook material, his thoughts on the way they’d torn their clothes off almost immediately.

“That’s pretty much it. The next day, he came back with a basket and asked me out. They rest is history.” Sort of. That didn’t explain what had really happened that day or in the time that lead up to them becoming official.

“We're glad for it. My brother has been really happy.” She looked to Milos and he gave her a rather sheepish smile. “I know he wasn't really looking for a relationship, but he's been so taken with you.”

---

He was a little flustered. He knew what she was saying was true and it made him feel guilty about the state of their relationship. He knew Milos was happy and taken with him, otherwise he probably wouldn’t put up with being in an open relationship with him.

“It’s always a nice surprise when these sorts of things fall in your lap.”

Milos smiled and reached beneath the table to set a hand on his knee. “I'm a lucky guy.”

“My daddy fell in your lap?” Willow asked and when Milos nearly choked on the water he'd been sipping, Mara snorted.

---

Anders was also amused by his reaction. “In a way.” He knew she wasn’t understanding the expression, but the imagery amused him.

The mood was light and Milos was glad that they all seemed to be getting along well. Still, he found he was a little nervous. It was so important to him that this went well. “Did you get enough to eat? We always have extra…” He said when it looked like Anders had finished his plate.

---

Anders looked down at his plate. He could eat more. He could always eat more, he’d just gotten use to not eating more. He hesitated, considering it, but then shook his head. “That’s alright. It was really good, thank you Mara.” He pushed his plate in and then looked over at him. “So, what’s the plan?”

---

“I’m gonna help the girls clean up, then I’ll give you a tour of the house. When we get to my room, you can get changed and then we’ll go play around outside until the sun goes down.” Then he imagined Anders would be wanting to get home. But maybe if they had a good enough time, he’d want to stay the night.

---

“Is there anything I can do?” He would feel bad if he was the only that wasn’t pitching in. He pushed his chair back and then stood, waiting instruction.

---

“You can have a little more so I don’t have to put it all away.” Mara chuckled and got him a bit more of everything. He’d hesitated long enough that she knew he wanted at least a little more. Milos rose from the table then to start cleaning up and Willow followed suit, though she was quickly distracted by another chubby old cat that roamed into the kitchen.

---

When she set the plate down for him, he hesitated again, but she’d already put it out for him, so refusing to eat it would be more of a pain than just eating it. “...Thank you.” He sat back down, but rather than take his time, he was quick about finishing it off.

---

They had things fairly tidy by the time he was done and Mara took his plate when he had finished everything to wash that up as well. “Come on, let me show you around.” Milos said with a smile, offering his hand.

---

He took the hand, glad to get going. Dinner had been simple, but he was glad for that. He hadn’t wanted to answer a lot of questions, so he was glad that both Mara and Willow hadn’t had any. He did want to get to know his family, but for now, a short introduction was enough.

---

Milos was equally relieved that there hadn’t been an interrogation. He didn’t want the girls scaring Anders off on his first visit. He’d asked them to go easy on him and he was glad that they’d done as he requested. “Thank you, ladies. We’ll see you later.” With that, he lead him from the kitchen and back into the hall.

---

Anders followed after him. “You have a lot of cats,” he noted, though he’d only really noticed the two of them. It was enough that he imagined there were probably more milling about.

---

“I do. There are a lot more outside, but once they hit their golden years and they’re too old to chase the mice around, they retire to the house.” He gestured to one that was lounging in the living room as they passed it, basking in a bit of sunlight in front of the window.

---

“Color me jealous.” He truly was jealous, but admitting to it lightly like this was easier than letting it simmer. “I’m lucky to have Snow.” He loved Snow and he was happy that he was proving to be a tame cat. Young as he was, he hardly got into trouble. Whether or not hat had anything to do with Noah, he didn’t know.

---

“You’ve probably got as many cats lurking around outside your clinic. Just lure them inside once they slow down. They don’t all take well to retirement though. Some of the old boys still choose to live outside.” He took him by a little library - the collection of books rather modest but the large desk in the room was the main focus. “We spend more time in here than in the living room. I keep track of all of the ranch logs and inventories in here and this is where Willow does her studies.”

---

“That’s true,“ he conceded. There were a lot of cats that hung around the clinic now, which he loved. Luckily the food he was helping provide was a deterrent from anyone trying to take one of the cats with them after stopping by for his help. Still, their cat situations were rather different and he wished he could live on a lot of land where the cats could be free and safe and enjoy the sun.

He took in the library, still jealous. It was wonderful and he would love to have something like that himself. “You know, you’re a lot more modest than I would expect after seeing where you live.” Not that it was particularly luxurious, not like Hawke’s mansion in Hightown, but it was nothing to sneeze at either. It was much better than most people had and was exactly the middle ground that Anders loved.

—-

“I have every reason to be modest. I didn't build any of this. My family built this house, all I do is keep the business that they started going.” He squeezed his hand, then lead him onward down the hall.

---

“A lot of people are much less modest for less.” He wasn’t surprised he was modest though. He was a good man. He didn’t doubt he was grateful for all he had.

“You've got a point.” He showed him to another room that was largely empty, save for a smaller desk that held his jeweler's kit. “My little forge is outside. But I'm doing my detail work and keeping my supplies in here. We've got more rooms than the three of us need so I made this one into my workroom.”

---

His brows lifted. “You have a forage?” He hadn’t known. He thought he’d worked in the city and that he’d gone into the city specifically to use whatever forage he could to make his ring. “So you were really just lacking the tools?” He was really surprised that he hadn’t saved up to replace his tools, if that was the case. He moved further in, looking around curiously.

“Not really, any real blacksmith would laugh at my setup. Just the bare minimum I need - a pot that can withstand the heat for smelting and a surface to shape and temper the metal. I was able to buy them from my first set of rings and bangles I made with the tools you got me.” He followed along as he wandered the room and pressed a kiss to his cheek.

---

“Oh really?” He was pleased and continued to poke around. He didn’t know what most of it was, but it was interesting to see someone else’s workshop.

“If I can really get something started, this room will really be something to see.” Right now, it was far from impressive. “Come with me. I'll show you the rest.” Maybe some day Anders would make use of one of the spare rooms in the house. His own little workshop for his potions and salves.

---

Anders turned away from his supplies and followed him out. “This really is a big house.” He liked it a lot, though. Even if he wouldn’t have use for it and would happily take something smaller, he liked what he had seen of it so far.

“It is. My great grandparents had a lot of kids so they built this house for a big family.” He really liked it too, even if it felt a little empty. He lead him past the washroom and on to a large pantry where they had their food stores. “We keep extra on hand because we trade quite a bit. We don't have any cows or sheep so we still need a lot of things from town.” It wasn't an especially exciting room and so he was quick to move on. “On to the bedrooms. Willow's room is probably messy, but I'll show you anyway. It was my room when I was a boy.”

---

“Guess they all dispersed, though.” His big family seemed rather small to him, but perhaps there were aunts and uncles living somewhere. He smiled. “Oh yeah? That’s really cute.” He thought it was sweet that he used his old room for his daughter, rather than one of the other rooms available.

---

“I liked the idea. I loved that room growing up.” He pushed open the door to the girl's room. It wasn't too messy, but there were a few toys scattered around the floor. He pointed to notches carved into the doorframe. “This is where my Ma measured me when I was growing up.” Then he pointed to similar notches on the other side of the frame. “Those are Willow’s.”

---

He looked between the notches, then at him. “I like it.” His eyes strayed around the room and as before, he felt jealous. This time he was jealous of something that went deeper than a place to live.

Do we need to leave? Your jealousy is becoming overwhelming.

“No,” he murmured, then realized himself. “You are a lucky man,” he told him, repeating what he’d said at the table. He was lucky for a lot of reasons.

---

“I am.” He knew this was more than he'd ever appreciated as a young man. But now, it meant so much to him. “Okay, one more stop. We'll skip Mara's room. She's got the master bedroom. My room is at the end of the hall.”

---

“Makes sense.” If she was the older one and spent more time working the ranch than him. It was just odd because he’d imagined him as the head of the house the entire time. A little sexist perhaps, but now he knew better.

---

He lead him down the hall and into the last bedroom. It was simple and no bigger than Willow’s room, but it was plenty of space for him. “This is my room. It's nothing fancy, but it's mine.”

---

He moved further in, looking around. Actually paying attention as he had in the workshop. “It’s better than my nook,” he concluded, his eyes lingering on the bed. He missed beds.

---

“I like your nook.” He closed the door and moved in behind Anders, drawing his arms around him. “I’ve spent so many nights imagining what it would be like to share that bed with you. We’ve only spent a couple nights together, but I think about it when I’m lying here alone.”

---


Anders leaned back into him, shutting his eyes. It felt nice to be held like this and the words made him shiver. “What do you imagine?” He was sure he knew at least some of what he imagined.

---

“Sometimes I imagine very innocent things. Falling asleep in your arms. Waking up next to you with my head on your shoulder…” He pressed soft, slow kisses to the back of his neck. “Sometimes what I imagine isn’t quite so innocent. There’s a lot of space in here for us to get into trouble.”

---

The sweet words were wonderful, but the kisses were as tempting as what followed. “Trouble?” He hummed. “Don’t you have clothing for me?” He wasn’t really asking because he wanted the clothing, but because there was a transition between changing his clothing.

---

“I do. I wouldn’t want your robes to get dirty…” His fingers slid into the places where his robes were tied and he began to undress him, still peppering his skin with kisses. Though he did genuinely want to give Anders something more suitable to mess around on the ranch in, it was also a great excuse to get his clothes off.

---

He sighed his robes began to fall, leaving him standing bare in only his boots. He pressed even more of his weight into him, his head tipping to the side to give him room to continue kissing him. His hands rose to rest on his arms, rubbing them.

---

“I’ve imagined you standing in here with me just like this.” He nipped his earlobe, one of his hands starting to slide down his bare stomach. “I’ve imagined pulling off all your clothes and sliding under the sheets with you so many times…”

---

His breathing deepened as the hands slid down. “At least in the clinic we don’t have to be careful,” he murmured, wanting his hand to continue to his cock. His already stiffening cock. That was the one benefit - they could be as loud as they wanted when they were alone.

---

“That's true. We'll have to keep quiet, at least a little.” He doubted either Mara or Willow would come down the hall, but it wasn't worth risking. He took his time letting his hand wander lower until finally he cupped him and gave him a squeeze.

---

As soon as he touched him, the lust he was feeling sharpened and he wanted Milos to throw him on the bed. He liked this, he was just feeling rather eager for them to ravish each other. “Milos,” he hummed, reaching back to clutch at his hip.

---

“I've wanted you for so long…” Not that it had been very long since he'd had him. But he'd never had him here and he'd wanted this for a long time. He pulled away to start tugging off his own clothes, wanting to be just as bare.

---

When he released him, Anders turned to look at him. As soon as he was bare, he decided there was no reason why he couldn’t do the throwing, so grabbed him and shoved him onto the bed, climbing over him and pressing their bodies together as he gave him a searing kiss.

---

Milos was thrilled to be tossed down on the bed and he wrapped his legs around Anders’ waist to keep him close. He returned his kiss hungrily, his fingers dragging slowly along his back. He was right, he was a very lucky man.

---

He didn’t hesitate to start rolling his hips, trying to get as much friction as he could. The bed creaked softly as he rocked, but for now, it wasn’t enough for him to care. He didn’t think anyone would hear. He groaned softly, biting his lip and tugging.

---

Milos didn't know how creaky this bed would be, but he was eager to find out. He rocked his hips in return, breathing a soft sound as his lip was teased. At least for the moment, he felt like the mage was exclusively his - finally being able to take him in his own bed, a place the spirit had never had him.

---

As soon as their cocks began stiffening, he slipped a hand in between them and took hold of both of them. Stroking them together. “You have oil, right?” He was sure he did and rather than let him answer immediately, he smothered his lips in his own.

---

His answer was muffled by the kiss, but he was fine with that. He rocked eagerly into the hand that gripped them together. “I go through a lot more oil since I met you…” He murmured once the kiss broke.

---

“Yeah?” he smiled against his lips. “Tell me the dirtiest thing you’ve thought about.” He wanted to know how far his thoughts went and he gave his cock a squeeze, encouraging him to be honest.

---

“You're not ready to hear that.” He smirked and rolled his hips harder at the squeeze. “You wouldn't tell me your wildest fantasies. Why would I tell you mine?”

---

“I know my wildest fantasies are wilder than yours.” He stilled, looking down at him. “I have more to hide.” He nipped his lip again, harder. “Tell me.”

---

“I might not have as much to hide. But you still can't know if yours are wilder.” He nipped him back, just as hard. “You've given me new fantasy material by showing me some of your magic tricks.”

---

He chuckled softly, condescendingly. “Yeah? That’s where your dirty thoughts go? Tell me, I’d be more than happy to entertain you.” He’d love to give him whatever he wanted.

---

“Oh no. Not here. We'd need a more private space. And an entire day.” He drew his tongue over the place he'd just nipped him. “I still want to hear yours. I'm your boyfriend now, you shouldn't have to hide your wants from me.”

---

“You say as you hide yours from me.” He looked at him with an arched brow. “Tell me what you want. If it’s going to take a entire day, I have to prepare for it. Better that you tell me now so I can plan in advance.”

---

“But I asked you first. A long time ago.” He slid his fingers slowly down his spine. “You wouldn't need anything to prepare for it really. Just a quiet space. ...And cooperation from Noah.”

---

His brows lifted and he pulled back a little, to get a better look at him. “Noah? Your fantasy includes Noah?” He wasn’t sure if he ought to be surprised or not. He was sure everyone came into contact with Noah wanted him at least a little, but considering things between the three of them… it was unexpected.

---

“I like...an audience sometimes.” He tugged him right back down when he pulled back and kissed him again. He wasn't ready to tolerate any distance between them.

---

He almost snorted. He liked an audience too and he’d already established with Noah that it might be sexy for him to watch them. The idea of an audience was pretty hot and he agreed with him, he just wasn’t sure if that was really all he was talking about. “An audience?” he murmured against his lips, inviting him to clarify.

---

“Yeah…” He nipped at his lip. “I imagine him watching us sometimes. Getting off while he watches what you do to me…”

---

That was interesting. Milos seemed to want Noah to see him pleasuring him, rather than the other way around. He wondered if it felt more like thumbing his nose at the spirit for him to see his boyfriend pleasuring someone else. It was the less possessive position to want to take of the two, so that was nice. “I’m sure we could do that.” Though sometimes he would like it if Milos didn’t know. A little extra pleasure for him, since the secrecy of it was partly what got him so worked up. “I can say with confidence that if that’s as dirty as you mind get, my fantasies are much wilder than yours.”

---

“There's more. But that's the part that would take some preparation. It's not enough for him to see it. I want him to get off on it.” He slid his hand low to squeeze his ass. “So tell me part of your fantasies.”

---

“He would.” Whether or not it would be because he found the entire thing arousing or specifically because he found him arousing, he didn’t know. He would like to think the latter, simply because it would make him feel really wonderful if the reason Noah liked it was entirely him. He didn’t know what about that would take preparation, but he wasn’t going to ask. Milos seemed to be reluctant to share with him, so he would stop asking.

“We’ll worry about my fantasies later.” He began stroking them again. “Where’s the oil?”

---

“That's hardly fair. I shared a little.” But the sound he made conveyed how glad he was that the stroking resumed. “In the drawer of the bedside table.”

---

Anders leaned over to fish out the oil, settling back over him as soon as he had it in hand. He screwed off the lid and poured enough in his hand to coat both of them as he picked off where he left off in stroking them. Much better. The rest of the bottle was set haphazardly aside, at risk for tipping over and spilling. Rather than respond,  he kissed him again, squeezing them both and sighing.

---

He groaned softly and started rocking more desperately. That was just what he needed. He sucked on his lower lip as they kissed, accepting the lack of an answer at least for now. He was too caught up to press him further.

---

After a while of simply stroking them, he let Milos’ slip free and pushed himself down into position. He didn’t wait. He pressed in and as soon as he was inside enough to thrust, he began to take him, the creaking of the bed picking up considerably as soon as he was putting his entire body into the movement.

---

He was glad he didn't wait. “Anders…” He tightened his legs around him, rocking up to meet the thrusts. The creaking made what they were doing very obvious, but with any luck the girls weren't close enough to notice.

---

Anders was conscious of it and he tried to lessen the sound by softening his thrusts, but as soon as he tried to pick up any speed, the creaking returned to an audible level. “Milos,” he complained, slowing down again, his hand sliding around him again, stroking him with the need he was feeling.

---

“It's fine…” It would have to be. He couldn't tolerate any less. He used his grip on him to encourage him to pick up his thrusts again. “Fuck me…”

---

If it was fine, then it was fine. He abandoned all sense of shame and began to take him hard. Making the bed creak and shudder as he slammed their hips together. He groaned, having to let go of him so he could brace himself. Hopefully he’d pick up where he’d left off.

---

That was just what he needed. He groaned when he took him hard and was happy to take over with stroking himself. The bed might have been loud, but he could at least keep his moans soft.

---

He took him until his hips ached and then with a buck, he held himself still, pressing insistently into him, holding himself there. It was a tease, wanting to make sure he was aching with need. He covered his mouth with his, making sure he would muffle any complaints he might make.

---

It was a good thing that the kiss was there to muffle the cry he made when he stopped. He rocked his hips, making him rub him just right while he was pressed in so deep. He stopped stroking himself as well, squeezing tightly to add to the tease.

---

He let the seconds tick by and then slowly began to pick up where he left off, building up to the pace he’d stopped at. He groaned, giving it to him hard and biting his lip as he did so, rough enough that he needed to express it elsewhere. He was throbbing inside him, threatening to tumble over the edge.

---

A fresh wave of pleasure hit him when he resumed and his back arched as he was given what he needed. He started stroking again and in only a few beats, he spilled. His muscles clenched tightly around him and he moaned into the heated kiss as his load coated both of their bellies.

---

Anders was surprised when he spilled so suddenly, but he smiled, satisfied that he’d managed to tease him when he was so close. It took a little longer himself, but when he did finally climax, he buried his mouth into his shoulder to silence himself, pumping several shots of cum into him.

---

The heat inside him was so satisfying and he gave himself one more squeeze though he was so sensitive he could barely stand it. He eased his legs down from Anders’ waist and stroked his back with his free hand as he caught his breath. “Anders…”

---

He remained buried for a while longer, then he slipped off of him and pulled him in so they could cuddle. “Was that what you’d imagined?” He was sure he’d imagined a lot, but he seemed pleased with himself.

---

“Yeah…” He settled into him, cuddling up with an arm around him. ““Now I’ll have even more fantasy material on the nights I’m here without you. Maybe you’ll think of this too.” He liked to think that even though he had Noah on those other nights, maybe he still thought of him sometimes.

---

He chuckled. “Your bed is nice, but my work tables are even better.” For fantasizing about. They were more taboo, anyway. He studied him for a while, then went on. “Did you still want to catch frogs, or would you rather stay here and make more fantasies?”

---

“Both are tempting. Depending on how long you can stay, maybe we can do both.” He watched him with a serene smile. “I’d love it if you could stay the night with me. That’s what I fantasize about most.”

---

He was quiet for a while. “Not tonight.” He wasn’t going to apologize for it. He hadn’t intended on staying and he wasn’t going to - he wouldn’t want to worry Noah. He also didn’t want to start dividing up his nights like that.

---

“Okay.” He wasn’t going to push. It had been a hope, but it hadn’t been part of their plans for the evening. “So it’s up to you then. Horses and frogs or we can stay right here. Whichever we don’t do, we can always do some other time you visit.”

---

“Let’s go get some frogs.” Since he wanted him to stay the night, he didn’t want to particularly stay in the room. He didn’t want him hoping he would change his mind if they spent more time in his bed. He eased back from him and pushed himself up on an elbow. “Do you have anything to clean up with?”

---

“Yeah, just a second.” He pushed himself up as well, but he wasn’t in a big hurry to get out of bed. He stole a couple quick kisses from him before finally rolling out of bed and fetching a cloth for him. Then he set out the clothes he’d pulled aside for him to change into. “When do I get to learn a little bit about your fantasies?’

---

“Oh, I don’t know. Truthfully, saying I that have fantasies isn’t entirely honest.” He did, but not in the same way a lot of people did. At least, not completely. “I just enjoy doing whatever my… partner wants. The wilder it is, the more I enjoy it.” He didn’t have many limits, but he usually stayed within the bounds of whatever his lovers wanted. There wasn’t anything he was itching to do… except the whole Noah watching him fuck someone else and then fucking him himself as soon as he had him to himself thing.

---

“But you’ve already said your fantasies are much wilder than mine. How can that be if you only want what I want?” He began to clean himself off as well, his eyes on Anders. But it wasn’t just what he wanted, it was what Noah wanted as well.

---

“Like I said - I’m into whatever. There’s little I wouldn’t do.” There was a time where he’d really enjoyed his sexuality and his time in Denerim had really opened him up to what other people enjoyed. Which was why he’d questioned him so much. He’d wanted to learn what he liked so he could enjoy it himself. “I guess my fantasy is a wild partner that I can please.” Someone that could challenge him. He shrugged and when he was clean, he started to dress.

---

“Alright. When we’ve got a free day, I’ll try to provide you with just that. Both of our fantasies will be fulfilled.” He smiled and began to dress himself as well. “Though both you and Noah being free at the same time might be tricky. I don’t have to be all that greedy. At least a few hours though.”

---

“You should probably tell me all it entails.” Just to make sure he was comfortable with it. He liked being challenged, but when it came to crossing his relationships… He was feeling cautious enough to want to know what Milos wanted from it. He was still wary that he wanted to involve Noah at all.

---

He moved to Anders once they’d finished dressing and took his hands. No one had ever really asked him what he wanted in this way and he felt a little vulnerable talking about it. “In my relationships, I’ve always been fairly dominant, if not equal. What I’d really like to try is to feel powerless and you...you’re by far the most powerful man I’ve ever had. I like to think of you paralyzing me the way you did while I’m on my hands and knees so you could use me as many times as you want in the time we have. Make me cum so many times I can’t stand it and it hurts. I want you to kiss me and be sweet when you want to, but I also want you to use both your hands and your magic to make me ache. Shock me. Maybe even use your magic to brand me. I want to be yours to play with…and I want Noah to watch you do it.”

---

His lips quirked a little. That was more like it and though nothing he said surprised him and wasn’t anything he’d already done before, it would definitely be a change of pace for them. They swapped fairly often and sometimes they were rough with each other, but not that rough. “Is that something you would like more often? Not all of it…” All of it would be a lot to fulfill frequently, but he was curious if he would prefer to be submissive in their relationship in general. He had seemed taken with how strong he was and he wondered if perhaps by not taking over more often if he wasn’t giving him what he really wanted.

---

“Not all of it and not all the time. But a little more often, sure.” He liked fucking Anders just as much. “I do love bending you over your exam tables while you’re trying to clean. I wouldn’t want you to have your way every time.”

---

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He would give it to him more often. He didn’t mind - if he had to choose between taking from either of them, he’d prefer to take from Noah anyway. He could make sure Milos was satisfied. He leaned in and gave him a soft kiss. “I’ll talk to Noah and see when we can set some time aside to give you want you want.”

---

He released his hands in favor of embracing him. He was glad he hadn’t recoiled from his request or even teased him for it. “I’ll look forward to it. And if Noah’s uncomfortable with it, we can skip that much of it. Unless you know someone else who’d like to watch. It doesn’t have to be Noah, but I want it to be someone who’d really get off on it, and I figured he would since he’d be watching you.”

---

He smirked. He knew who would enjoy it, but he wasn’t going to involve her. If Noah wanted to take part, and he would make sure that it was something Noah wanted, then they could have an audience. He thought he would, but he wasn’t sure - it was a bit different than what they’d talked about before. “Come on, we can’t have those frogs getting too comfortable.”

---

“You’re right. And it’s about time you finally rode your horse.” He broke the hug and took his hand again, this time to lead him out of the room. “The girls are probably already outside having fun.” Hopefully they were anyway, since they’d likely have heard the squeaks and creaks of his bed if they were inside.

Fortunately, he’d been right. The girls were out grooming the horses now that the heat of the day had passed and Lady was already groomed and ready for them. He was relieved that she had behaved herself for Anders despite her inexperience. When they’d finished with riding for the evening, it was off to the pond where both frogs and ducklings were caught until the sun set.

It had been a great time and though he would have prefered that he stayed the night, he was glad that he’d spent as much time as he had. As he walked him up to the door of the clinic, he gave him a warm smile. “I had a great time with you.”

---

“I did too.” He’d had a lot of fun on his ranch and even his jealousy had died down. It was still there, but not as bad as it had been when he’d first laid eyes on it. “I’ll see you soon.” How soon, he didn’t know, but he’d figure it’d at least been a while, since they’d spent so much time together today.

---

“Soon.” He wouldn’t let any more time than usual pass. He felt they’d grown closer and he didn’t want to lose any ground he gained. He was sure Anders was excited to get back to Noah, but he lingered outside the door a moment to get another long look at him before he’d go inside.

---

With a final look, he slipped into the clinic, shutting the door behind him. He turned to look at the room, hoping he would be there. He ought to be, considering he had been watching the clinic for him, but perhaps he’d had to close it a little early to do something else. He never knew what to expect with his callings. He was sure he’d be back eventually, if that were the case, but he wanted him as badly as he always did anytime time they were apart longer than what a normal day would call for.

---

It had been a busy day and Noah was spending the quiet evening hours catching up their stock. He was mixing up a salve when Anders stepped inside and he smiled to see him. “You have come home.” Later than he’d expected, but he’d still come back.

---

“Noah!” He sounded as excited he felt and he rushed to him, throwing himself into him. “I missed you.” He was so happy to see him. Everything felt as it should be as soon as he was with him.

---

“I have missed you too.” He wrapped his arms tightly around him. “Did you have fun?” He could tell by his mood that it had gone well. But he still always liked to hear about it just the same.

---

“Yes, it was nice.” He hugged him and only broke it when he’d squeezed him tight. He kissed him softly, then started to tug him to their cot. “Cuddle with me?”

---

The rest of the salves could wait. “Yes.” He followed his pull toward the cot and when they reached it, he gingerly pulled the tie from Anders’ hair and shook it loose. “Milos had a very nice time too.”

---

“I know he did.” He tugged him down to sit beside him while he pulled off his boots and stripped out of his robes. As soon as he was naked, he laid back and then reached for him, silently asking him to lay with him.

--

He eased himself into the bed cot with him and pulled Anders into his arms. “You could have spent the night with him if you wanted to. I just would have come out to check that you were alright.”

---

“No, I want to spend the night with you.” He set his hand on his cheek, cupping it. “You should know that by now,” he teased, stroking his cheek with his thumb.

---

“I do. But you spend many of your nights with me. If it would make you happy, I would like you to spend some nights with him as well.” He smiled and leaned into the sweet caress. Clearly he was happy to be home with him, so it worked out just as well that he chose to return to the clinic.

---

“Trying to get rid of me?” He slid his hand down and rested his palm on his chest. “I thought you liked spending the night with me.” He knew he did, he was just continuing to tease him.

---

“I always like spending the nights with you. But I think it is important to nurture your relationship with Milos. It may be good for you to sleep beside another human sometimes.” He leaned in to press a kiss to the tip of his nose.

---

“There’s nothing that Milos can give me that you can’t.” This time he was being more serious. He didn’t want to be told what was best for him, not when he knew that Noah was what was best for him.

---

“Everything he showed you this evening are things he can give you that I can not.” He stroked his back slowly as he spoke to him. He wanted him to have all of it.

---

“...That’s not true.” They could have a normal life if they wanted one. There was no reason they couldn’t, not unless he wasn’t willing to try. His good mood drained, leaving him somber. He lowered his eyes, lips turned down.

--

“Why do you not want the best of both worlds?” He was sorry that he’d soured his mood and he kissed him gently. “I only want you to be happy, my love.”

---

“I am happy. With you.” He was still with Milos because he liked him, but he would give him up if he had to. He wanted everything with Noah, not just what the spirit deemed suitable for two beings so different from each other.

---

“And you have me. Whether or not you are also with him. You are not being asked to make a sacrifice.” He wanted to understand, but he was struggling. Mortals typically wanted more of...well, just about anything. So he couldn’t understand why this second relationship seemed to make Anders more unhappy than when it was just the two of them.

---

“You want me to have him so you don’t have to give me so much.” It hurt to say it, but that was essentially his point. He thought he ought to have his human needs taken care of by a human, rather than share a full relationship with him. It wasn’t surprising - Noah had been reluctant about being with him from the start - but it was hurtful.

---

“This is not true. There is nothing I would not give you.” He pulled back a little to meet his gaze better, a frown on his lips. He usually didn’t make such bold statements because they were generally untrue, but it was a very mortal thing to say and he blurted it as he was caught off guard. “I am only doing what I think is healthiest for you. What will ultimately make you the most happy.”

---

“I’m not a child, Noah. I’m telling you what makes me happy. I’m telling you that you make me happy.” He didn’t want to be told what would make him happy. No one knew what would make him happy but him. “Either you can’t give me things or you can. You can’t have it both ways, whenever it suits you.” He pulled back from him, no longer in the mood to cuddle.

---

“I want you to have a home and a family. Would you let me get a house for us?” He still didn’t know how the family thing would work for them if they didn’t use a female version of his body to have a child. But he knew family would mean a lot to Anders.

---

Anders was taken aback. “You want to get a house with me?” He wouldn’t have thought that he would want to get a place of their own, not when they could make do in the clinic. The idea of him just ‘getting them a house’ was also a little bizarre, unsure of how he intended on making that happen. “I mean, yeah, I want a house.“ The jealousy that he had felt before was coming back in full force, soothed by the fact that maybe he could have a place of his own. Nowhere as nice, he was sure, but anything would be better than the nook he kept himself in.

“I want you to have what would make you happy.” He took in his jealousy and needed a beat to process it. “This is why I want you to enjoy Milos. He has a very nice house he could invite you into. Maybe he would let me live there with you too.”

---

“No. No, that’s too much.” He couldn’t let them mix that much, especially not with his family there. He didn’t want to have to face the decision of who to spend time with every single night, nor did he want to flaunt his relationship with Noah in his family’s face.

“Besides, I’m not with him to take advantage of what he has.” He was envious of him, but he wasn’t with him just to get in on what he had. He didn’t want to be with him any more than he had before seeing his home, even knowing he could have it if he wanted it.

He sighed. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about me. I just want you to accept that you’re what I need.” Whether or not that included things like an actual home.

“I always worry about you.” He smiled gently. “I know that you need me, as I need you. But I want to give you everything and I do not know how. You deserve all of those things that he has and you desire.”

---

“It’s not that hard…” All he wanted was a full life with him. There was some guilt in him for being so selfish, for not being satisfied with what he had. “We can have everything. It doesn’t have to interfere with what we do.” He just wanted Noah to want it too, but he understood why he didn't. Why his desires only went so far as making him happy. He didn’t need any of the things Anders wanted. If he wanted them, it was only because Anders wanted them.

“Do you still want to be with Milos too? Or do you feel that Justice and I are pressuring you to have a mortal relationship?” He knew Anders liked Milos, but he seemed so much happier when it was just the two of them.

---

He frowned. “I don’t know.” The idea of breaking up with him made him sad because he did like him. He liked him a lot, but he only liked him. He didn’t love him and he didn’t know how long it would take for him to love him, but he knew that he would never feel the way he felt for Noah for him.

They had pressured him, but he liked him enough to want to spend time with him, even if he didn’t like that it took away from time with Noah. He hadn’t started feeling that way until recently, anyway.

“You do not want to break up with him. That is a good enough sign that you want to be with him and not only because we say you should.” He nuzzled their noses together lightly. “I will stop pushing for you to take the home and family he can offer you. I will find us our own home.”

---

“I don’t know,” he repeated. It would make things a lot simpler for all of them if he simply chose. He had already chosen, really, he just… had something on the side. “I know I would be happy with him if we never got involved, but we did get involved and you’re the one I want.”

“You don’t have to do that, Noah. If you don’t want a place with me, I am happy here.”

“I am happy here too, but I like the idea of ‘home’. A place we can go after our working hours are done. With a soft bed and a place to make warm meals for you and a bath.” These were all things that mortals liked and it appealed to him as well. Though mostly for the sake of providing them for Anders.

---

Hearing that he wanted it too made him feel better. It helped raise his spirits, having his wants reciprocated.

Justice wanted them to stay, but he could tell, especially after today, that it would make Anders feel better to have a home to go to and so he was leaving it be. It would change only a little for him to have somewhere to go to at night. The only downside would be that if there were an emergency, he wouldn’t be available. That could easily be remedied, though, if he simply told those that needed him where to find him… Though that could be dangerous for him… Though no more dangerous than his current arrangement.

“I like it too.” The thought had him giddy. Somewhere for Snow to run around - the clinic was big, but he was sure a house would be bigger.

“Then I will start working on it.” Once he had a home for them, he could start working out what sort of family he could provide him. “...May I ask you a strange question?”

---

He bit his lip. “What does that mean?” Work on it? They didn’t have the coin for such a thing and he couldn’t imagine how he would ‘work’ his way into a house. Even a shitty house in Darktown. He was a little nervous as he went on. “Sure…”

“I do not know how to acquire a house. I will need to look into this.” He saw he was nervous and stroked his back with a little magic to soothe him. “It is nothing bad, I am only curious. If you had wanted me as a woman, how would you want me to look? What is your ideal woman?”

---

“Noah, no. I love you as you are. I don’t want you to be a woman.” If he had wanted to be a woman, that would be one thing, but they’d both determined that he was a man. “Don’t, okay?” He didn’t want him ripping his answer from his thoughts and trying to make himself something he thought he wanted.

“Okay. I just thought it might be fun for you to have me another way.” But if it wasn't something he wanted to experiment with, he wouldn't. “I will stay just like this. Thick cock and all.” He smiled, hoping to brighten his mood a little by saying something so lewd.

---

“What brought it up?” He wasn’t sure if it was what they were talking about or if perhaps he’d heard what he’d talked to Milos about and it had come from that.

“You said I can provide you with everything you want. I just need to figure out how. If you do not want women, that is one less thing for me to worry about.” He was perfectly fine with staying as he was.

---

He wasn’t sure what to say to that. He liked women and he certainly liked being with women, but when it came to a relationship, those that liked both generally chose one or the other. Most people didn’t have a lover that could be either, though…

It just didn’t feel right. “I love you as you are.” Thick cock and all.

---

“And I love you.” He pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “Think about what you would like in a home, then. I will focus my efforts on that instead.”

---

That was a request that he didn’t mind and he settled back into him, beginning to imagine what he would want. The thoughts were conflicting. The youth in him wanted something extravagant. The man in him wanted something simple. There was so much he would like and he pictured it all - a house with only a few rooms and a house with rooms for everything he could ever want. The only constant was that everything he pictured was nice - much nicer than what most of Kirkwall had to offer.

He chuckled to himself as he sifted through his thoughts. So he wanted an enormous, extravagant, tiny, simple house. As complicated as most mortal desires were. “Outside of Kirkwall or in the city?”

---

“We should probably stay in Kirkwall,” Unfortunately. It would be nice to be able to get out of the city, but he was needed there and it would be better if he were closer to everyone that needed him.

“That does make it a little trickier if I need to build our house. But maybe there is one already here that I can acquire.” He had no idea how to go about it. Cole had never gotten his own house.

---

“Build?!” He stared at him. “Noah, you’re not going to build a house.” There was no way he would be able to, even if had all of the time in the world. “We just… We need to find a way to make more money so we can save up for one.” He knew they were discussing a fantasy, but it was a nice fantasy to have, at least.

---

“Why not? A lot of mortals build houses.” Was it very difficult? He wouldn't know. He'd never built anything. “I could borrow the knowledge from someone. I am strong and do not tire easily.”

---

“You can’t, Noah. It’s too much. It takes a lot of men to build a house.” Even in a village, where the houses were simpler, it still took a lot of work to put one up. He leaned in to give him a kiss, endeared to him. “It’s sweet that you are willing, but we’ll find another way.” Perhaps.

---

“But I am not a man. I can probably work longer and harder than any man.” He smiled when he was kissed. “But if you insist, I will find another way. Do not worry about making money. I will find a way.”

---

He nodded and let his eyes fall shut, resting against him. Thinking about this imaginary house of his. He was content, soothed by both his presence and the magic he was offering him. Much like the night he’d pictured Noah, the thoughts were enough to help him drift and they slowly became more and more fragmented, his exhaustion from a busy day getting to him.

---

He was glad that his mood had improved. He listened intently to his thoughts, wanting to pick up on little details he’d like for his house. He kissed his brow and smiled to himself as he imagined this house along with him. He would find a way to make it happen.

Chapter Text

Though they’d been busy with their usual routine, house hunting, and many visits from Milos, they had set aside a block of time for Justice. They needed to get further with getting him a body and though Noah had made progress in finding the means to summon Wisdom, he hadn’t achieved it yet. It was time to try venturing in to the Fade for answers and so, they closed the clinic for several days to give Anders and Justice time to search there.

Noah waited by Anders’ body while he was on the other side. There were calls for him and he struggled to ignore them, but he refused to move. He needed to be here in case something happened. In case something went wrong. It was so unnerving to sit beside him and hear...nothing. No dreams, not even the fragmented wisps of thoughts that came with dreamless sleep. He was as silent as the dead.

All he could do was do his best to keep him comfortable. He turned him once in awhile to keep his limp body from being sore. He brushed his forehead with a damp cloth whenever he felt he might be getting too warm. Any little thing he could think of that might make him feel better when he returned to his body. And every little excuse he had to touch him, to check the warmth of his skin and make sure he was still breathing. He was alright and he would return to him.

---

He’d been busy. Hawke had needed him a lot lately and on top of his determination to do more work for the Underground, Noah had been handling the clinic more. It was nice to be able to keep it open, but how often they relied on Noah was a subject that weighed on Justice. It wasn’t that he was opposed to relying on him, but Noah was the most valuable member of the Underground and as much as he wanted to be involved himself, forcing Noah to stay with the clinic limited what he could do for them.

Luckily the more Milos came by, the more time Noah had to go be productive. Besides, sometimes they were both needed and it was kind of nice to work together in the name of the mages - he was looking forward to being able to do that more often and on his own.

As soon as the Underground had gathered enough lyrium for their trip to the Fade, Justice had insisted on going immediately. That night, within the hideout of the Underground, Anders had performed the magic necessary to transport him home with the knowledge that they would be there for days, if necessary, trying to find the wisdom spirit that Noah had spoken of and that Noah was still trying to find a way to summon.

In the Fade, he felt better. In some way, he felt more like himself, only confirming many of the things that they had talked about and that he had refused ,until recently, to acknowledge.

He didn’t allow Anders control - he knew his home better than the mage ever could and if they were going to find Wisdom, he would be the one to do it. It was hard to keep track of mortal time here, though he forced himself to. It wouldn’t be impossible for him to stay so long, without realizing, that he killed Anders and that was the last thing he wanted.

In the end, he was pushing it. He knew that it had been too long and that he needed to go back even without having found what he was looking for. He’d found several spirits, but Wisdom was rare, and he hadn’t found a single one, much less the specific one Noah had spoken of.

Only when he was ready to go did he give control back to Anders, and the mage, disoriented, took them home. When Anders woke, his eyes snapped open suddenly and the state of his body hit him hard. He was horribly thirsty and hungry, and despite Noah’s attempts to keep him comfortable, his body ached and his head pounded.

—-

Noah was acutely aware when he returned and he jumped to action. He'd been prepared for this and as soon as his eyes were open he poured water for him. “Anders…” It was so good to hear him again, though he hadn't made an audible sound. He gingerly tipped his head up enough to help keep him from choking and put the glass of water to his lips.

---

He was still disoriented, but he heard Noah and that was a comfort. He felt the glass at his lips and he reacted instinctively, parting his lips and gulping the water down. When he finished the glass, his stomach was uncomfortably full, though he was still hungry. He looked up at Noah and he smiled, even as awful as he felt.

“Noah,” he murmured, his voice a croak.

“You came back.” He returned his smile and kissed his brow. “You need to eat something but I want to give you a few minutes to let that water digest.” He wanted him to drink more water too, but it would have to wait a little bit as well.

---

It took a beat for his words to hit him. “How long has it been?” It felt like it had been a long time, based on the state of his body, but he didn’t know. The last thing he remembered was being in this room - he was clueless as to what had happened or if they’d gotten what they’d gone for.

Disappointment hit him and he didn’t have to ask.

“Days. I do not know how many, I have not left this room.” He stroked his arm lightly, giving him a little healing magic to soothe his aches. “I missed you.”

---

He sighed, trying to slide closer to him, but too tired to do so. “I missed you too,” he answered automatically, though he hadn’t had time to miss him. He looked around, wondering if they were alone and it certainly appeared so.

When Anders tried to move in, Noah carefully drew him into his arms and cradled him in his lap. “Do not try to move yet. Save your energy for eating.”

---

He looked up at him, content to simply rest while he felt so awful. He would get into what had happened later and they could all talk about what came next. “Do you have food?” He’d had water ready, but Anders was achingly hungry.

“Yes.” He had some dried meat ready for him and grabbed a few strips, putting one to his lips. “Protein first. Once this is settled I will make you something more hearty.”

---

Anders wasn’t going to complain. He was happy to have anything to eat and he began to gnaw on the strip, pulling as much as he could into his mouth and then chewing hard on it. It tasted so good and even as chewy as it was, it didn’t take long for him to finish, swallowing it in chunks and awaiting another.

__

Noah continued to feed him but stopped after he finished the few strips in his hand. “We must not overdo it. Keep this down for an hour and I will make you a bigger meal.” He said as he poured a little more water for him to chase the meat with.

---

“A little more.” He could handle it. He hadn’t been starved for that long. “Please.” His stomach was cramping a little, but he would be okay if he could just fill his stomach a little more.

“A little more.” He agreed, feeling his desperation for more food. He grabbed another strip and put it to his lips. “Slowly.”

---

He drew it into his mouth quickly, but knowing he wasn’t going to give him more, he took his time chewing it. This time it was properly chewed when he swallowed it and then he reached for the water, thirsty.

Noah gave him the water he wanted, but again was careful not to pour him too much. When his hands were free, he returned to cradling him and pressed a kiss to his brow. “I have missed your mental voice dearly. And your real voice as well. It was so quiet in here.”

---

Anders was feeling better. Still not good, but the sustenance helped, as did the magic and his touch. “I don’t remember what happened. I don’t think he let me free.” For him, it had been just as quiet. Luckily for him, the time had passed in the blink of an eye.

“He knows the Fade well. Besides, I am certain it felt good to be home. I miss it a lot.” He liked being here and he knew how lucky he was. But it didn't stop him from missing home.

---

He nodded. He wasn’t upset, but it was strange to think about how many days he’d lost. “Did anything happen?” He’d already forgotten that he’d said he’d stayed with him the entire time.

“Yes. But I did not leave your side. I will tend to the matters that need my attention once you are back on your feet.” It hadn't been totally silent after all. “Did Justice find anything?”

---

He was quiet, waiting to see if Justice would add anything to what he’d already surmised. Justice was sullen, but he answered, I did not find her. Anders frowned, as much on Justice’s behalf as his own. A waste of time and resources, then.

“No, he did not.”

“I am sorry to hear that. But it was worth trying.” He had hoped there was at least some progress since he’d stayed for so long. “Do not lose hope. I will keep working to find a way to summon her here.”

---

He nodded on Justice’s behalf. “I love you,” he murmured to him, wanting a little bit of positivity with all he was feeling. That was the most positive thing he could think to say. It was completely unrelated to the subject matter at hand, but that didn’t matter.

---

“I love you too.” He pressed a kiss to his brow. “What else can I do to make you more comfortable?” He knew he'd want more food, but that would have to wait for a little while.

---

“ Just stay with me.” He knew he was going to, he was just telling him that that was all he needed. He would want more food and water once his stomach settled, but for now his presence was enough.

—-

“There is nowhere I would rather be.” No one needed him urgently, he was already where he was needed most. This was what he needed too after days of worrying over him.

Chapter Text

With Anders available to visit once more after his trip to the Fade, Isabela couldn't resist dropping by. She enjoyed bugging Anders from time to time and now there was the added bonus of ogling Noah while she was at it. She picked a time in the evening when she thought he wouldn't be too busy to entertain her and stepped into the clinic, immediately looking for the elf. To her disappointment, he was nowhere in sight. However, she never minded a chance to stare at Anders either, so it wasn't a wasted trip. “Hello, Handsome.”

---

His return to Thedas saw them picking up their routine where they’d left off. Hawke still needed him a lot and so he had been out with the others several times each week. Plenty of time for him to get all kinds of comments about his love life. Comments from Hawke, comments from Varric, comments from Isabela - she was the worst of all. Most of the time they were innocent enough, but when they weren’t, it was the pirate that couldn’t help herself.

 

Anders wasn’t surprised when she stepped in. In the cots were a couple of resting patients, but Anders himself was folding some sheets that he’d pull of the line. “Isabela,” he greeted her. “You missed him. May as well try again later.”

---

“Just my luck.” She smirked and moved to him, hopping up to sit on the nearest table. “That's alright. I don't just come by to gawk at your man. I haven't seen you outside of missions in awhile, I thought I'd visit.”

---

He lifted a skeptical brow at her. Sure, she stopped by from time to time, but only if she needed something from him. She obviously needed something from him now. She’d seen him more lately than she had a while, since, until recently, Hawke hadn’t been doing as dangerous of missions and relying on him as much.

“What is it?”

---

“Do I need a reason to visit?” She asked, raising a brow as well. “I get bored of gossiping with Varric all the time. It’s nice to have someone else to talk to. ...If you’re busy, I can go.” She liked to get under Anders’ skin once in awhile, but if he really didn’t want her there, she could make herself scarce.

---

He was still skeptical, but after a moment, he shrugged. “Just keep it down.” He nodded to the patients and then continued what he was doing, folding the sheets.

---

“So I think Merrill might be seeing someone.” She kept her voice down, as he asked. She really did have some gossip to share with someone besides the dwarf. “She’s been spending a lot more time around the alienage and she got all sheepish when we ran into this male elf in town the other day.”

---

He let out a breath of relief. “Thank Andraste.” Being the only one in the party with a relationship… two relationships, at that, he was tired of drawing attention. He was glad that someone else was doing something worthy of drawing attention away from him.

---

“Don’t thank her yet. I haven’t confirmed anything. She just blushes and tries to change the subject when I ask her about him.” She chuckled under her breath. “He’s pretty. But not as pretty as your elf.”

---

“No one’s as pretty as my elf.” There was a little smile on his face as he finished his folding and brushed his hand over the pile, making sure it was laying flat. He was perfect and some part of him was proud to be able to say that such a wonderful person was his.

---

“He’s not bad.” He was gorgeous. “Maybe you won’t be the only person bringing boyfriends to cards anymore. Speaking of which, you should bring Noah again. He seemed to like games.” And they wanted to ask him more questions.

---

“Hopefully.” He shook his head as she went on, picking up the sheets and putting them away. “No, Milos is better suited for that sort of thing.” He knew that Varric wanted to talk to him again - he mentioned it every time they were out together, but so far he had been considerate about not barging in. “Noah is busy, anyway.”

---

“Milos is fun too. But we’d all like to see more of Noah. He’s busy, but so are you. I’m sure he could work it into his schedule some time.” She liked Milos as well. But he wasn’t nearly as pretty as Noah.

---

“Isabela, for obvious reasons, Noah doesn’t want to be around a lot of people. It’s overwhelming for him and needs to keep his head down.” He was sure Noah would like to go back and spend a little more time with others, but he knew it wasn’t that important to him and in that case, it was better for both of them that he simply continued as he always did.

---

“Maybe we could play a game with a smaller group. And we could come here so he doesn’t have to be out in the open.” She suggested, crossing one leg over the other. They didn’t necessarily have to invite everyone. Not everyone was all that comfortable around Noah anyway.

---

“No. I know you want to ogle him, but that’s not enough of a reason to bother him.” Not that he would be bothered, but Anders would be. He wanted his friends involved in only so much that they knew who he was seeing so they weren’t startled if discovering it from other sources.

---

“He wouldn’t be bothered.” She thought he’d been genuine about enjoying their game last time. If only because from what she knew of spirits, they could hardly be anything but genuine. “But if you want to keep your boyfriend all to yourself, I’ll just have to settle for dropping in to ogle him.”

---

“Deal. Besides, I still bring Milos.” Even though it had been awkward the last time he’d taken him. The first time since he’d revealed to everyone that he was with someone else. A spirit. Still, Milos had taken it in stride and they’d still had a good night together. “I think he fits in well.”

---

“I think he does too.” She thought he was sweet, the sort of person she’d imagine Anders with. “How are things going between the three of you? You’ve been seeing both for awhile now…”

---

With laundry taken care of, he moved to sit down himself, setting his stool near where she’d settled. Her question brought him to pause and he looked down at his lap, picking at it. “Everything’s good.” Good enough. Not much had changed since he’d visit Milos, though not for lack of effort on Milos’ part. He could tell he was trying to get closer to him and he stopped by often, especially after his failed trip to the Fade. Anders was just… unsure and the more he worked on a future with Noah, the more he found himself questioning what he was doing with Milos.

---

“Is it?” She asked when he looked away from her. “You’ve always been easy to read, Handsome. Is something bothering you about one of your men?” She didn’t imagine having a relationship with a spirit was very easy.

---

He kept quiet. Isabela wasn’t really one to talk to about these sorts of things and he wasn’t sure he could talk to anyone about it. Only Noah, but Noah wanted him to be with Milos, so there wasn’t much to be said there. He’d stopped pushing and pressuring him, though, so that was welcome. “A lot has changed really fast.”

---

“With which one of them?” Maybe it was both. But in juggling two relationships, she imagined one might be more dynamic than the other. She didn’t know much about relationships, but she did know a lot about juggling men.

---

“With everything. With Justice.” The stress of knowing that Justice was unhappy wasn’t helping. He was head over his heels for Noah, with talk of getting a house, he was squeezing in Milos whenever the man stopped by, uncertain of if their relationship was going to go anywhere or not, and Justice was desperate to leave him to all of the drama he’d managed to stir up in the last several months.

---

“With Justice? I didn’t think he was involved in your romantic life.” The answer had surprised her. She knew about his trip to the Fade and what he’d been after. “Does he not like one of them? Is that why you’re trying to get him his own body?”

---

He shook his head to himself. He didn’t want to talk about all of Justice’s problems with him - the list was extensive, though at least the spirit had come to understand him more. At least, he understood enough to not protest while everything got all tangled up. “He will be much happier when he’s no longer stuck inside me.”

---

“I’m sure he will. It must be a little frustrating to see Noah waltzing around on his own two feet. And in a sexy body to boot.” He hadn’t just gotten any mortal form, but one that turned heads.

---

She wasn’t wrong, though Justice didn’t care so much about the appearance part of it all. “...I don’t know if we’ll actually get him a body, though.” Whether or not they talked to this Wisdom that Noah was convinced had the answer, that didn’t mean she would. Or that she would share. Or that Justice could do it. There were so many things that could go wrong and he was worried that it would become too much for him.

---

“I think he can. If Noah can, he should be able to.” Maybe Justice would be just as sexy. She couldn’t help but smirk to herself when she thought about it. “If he does have his own body, will he join your love triangle? Make it a love square?”

---

“Isabela.” He made a face. He shook his head, brushing off his leg and then looking back up at her. “It’s not really a triangle, anyway.” At least, it wasn’t a fully connected triangle, as they weren’t all with each other. He was simply with both.

---

“That’s true. Though I don’t see why not. Why should you have all the fun? They should get to enjoy each other as well.” At least she liked imagining it and her smirk grew more devious. “Have you had them both at the same time?”

---          

“No.” This was said firmly, though he was at least open to the idea of fulfilling Milos’ fantasy. It hadn’t come up since the first time, though, and Anders hadn’t brought it up to Noah. He wasn’t sure if Noah knew or not, since he hadn’t really thought about it much, but he hoped not. It was something he wanted to talk to him about when he was ready to approach it.

For the sake of trying to lighten up the topic, he decided to give her a scrap of gossip. “Sometimes Noah will stay and watch, though, and when he leaves, he’ll… take over.”

---

Now that was even more fun to imagine. She leaned forward a little bit, conspiratorial as if one of the men was there to overhear them. “So which one of them is bigger? Which one is the better lay?”

---

He appreciated her keeping her voice down, especially since there were some patients laying on the other side of the clinic. He doubted they would hear, even if they were awake, but he didn’t want to risk it either. He considered whether or not he would answer her and when he did, he didn’t elaborate.

“Noah.”

---

Of course he was. He could make his cock as big as he liked from what she understood. “So that arrangement works out perfectly then. Milos gets you started and then Noah comes in to finish the job. You’re a lucky guy.”

---

He hummed. He was lucky. He was lucky that Noah had come to him to comfort him and that he’d stayed with him, even after. After a while, he blurted out what had been weighing on him for some time. “I don’t know if I should be with Milos.”

---

Now that was a direction she hadn’t been expecting the conversation to take. “...Why not? If you’re all fine with this threesome relationship. Though I can see how it would be complicated. A single relationship is too complicated for me.”

---

He fidgeted. He didn’t really talk to the others about his personal life. Then again, he hadn’t had a personal life in a long time. There hadn’t been anything to talk about. “I’m so in love with Noah, it’s hard to care about anything else.” That was certainly true. Even his dedication to the things that mattered most to him had taken a hit. He still dedicated himself to them, but his head and his heart was always on the spirit and Justice was right that he didn’t do as much as he should anymore.

---

Her face softened a little. That was rather sweet. “Do you have feelings for Milos?” Clearly not as strong as he did for Noah. But it made her curious if there was anything there at all.

---

“...No. I like him a lot, but ever since I fell in love with Noah, not as much as I should.” He frowned, looking as conflicted as he felt. “I know that if I never met Noah, I would be really happy with him. He’d a wonderful man and he treats me so well… I’m lucky he likes me as much as he does.” It felt like if he let him go, he would be losing something… He wouldn’t, though. He had Noah and everything he wanted, Noah could give him. He really believed that, so even if giving up Milos meant giving up something good, it also meant throwing himself into something better.

---

“Maybe there’s not room in your heart for both.” Especially if he liked Milos less now that he’d fallen in love with Noah. “Maybe you’d be happier if you just had a relationship with Noah and just have a friends-with-benefits kind of thing with Milos. It might make things a little less complicated.”

---

He started picking at his robes again. “Milos wouldn’t want that.” He wouldn't want to be demoted like that. First his boyfriend, then his other boyfriend, then a friend that he sometimes fucked? “He’s already having a hard time with the way things are. He handles it well, but it’s obvious he’s jealous and he wants me to himself.”

---

“But would he want it more than losing you entirely? Either way, he loses.” It seemed Anders’ heart didn’t belong to him and it wouldn’t anytime soon. Unless the spirit did something to seriously damage his relationship with Anders, but she didn’t know how likely that was. He was a mind-reader, after all.

---

“No, it would have to be a clean break. If I’m not with him, I don’t need to be with him. Noah is everything I need.” He didn’t need sex with anyone else, even if he enjoyed it. Noah more than satisfied him and he was so eager to.

---

“It sounds like you should break things off then. If the idea of a clean break is acceptable to you, you don't need him. As you said, Noah is all you need.” He was the better lay, anyways.

---

He said nothing. Maybe she was right. It was something he’d thought about a lot lately, but he knew as soon as he saw him, he would struggle with it. He sighed. “Please don’t tell anyone else about this.”

---

“I won't. It'll be our secret.” She smiled a little solemnly. “Besides, you shouldn't listen to me. I'm the last person who should give relationship advice.”

---

“Yeah, no kidding.” He didn’t mean it cruelly, but he wasn’t looking at her to recognize how much emotion was on her expression and he thought she was joking at her own expense. “Honestly, me too.” Not for the same reasons as her, but he didn’t have a good track record himself and it seemed that he could only have a real connection with spirits anyway. “This is new for me and it took someone that’s basically perfect for me to fall in love.”  

—-

“There's nothing wrong with waiting for someone perfect. Besides, Milos is cute. I wouldn't complain if he was back on the market.” She was curious how he would accept the tease. If he would feel possessive even though he didn't have feelings.

---

His lips tugged down. “Must you?” Even if he decided to let him go, the thought of her immediately sniffing around someone he’d been in a relationship with bothered him. She wouldn’t even give it a day, he was sure.

“No. I was just seeing if the idea of me swooping in would inspire any feelings for Milos you didn't know you had. I wouldn't want you to find that out after you break up.” She would be interested in messing around with Milos. But she liked Anders enough that she'd give him time.

---

“I’m sure.” He didn’t believe her for a moment. He stood up. “I should get back to work.” Not that there was anyone around, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have things to do.

“I was ruffling your feathers for your own sake. Sit down, Handsome.” She didn't know if he had more to say or not, but she wanted to get it out of him if there was more. “It seems like you have a lot on your chest. I'm listening if you still want to talk.”

---

“I’m alright.” He’d already said too much. “Thanks for stopping by.” He moved to his basin, wanting to wash some stuff, but he realized he was out of water. He would have to go get some more from the pump and then purify it, which would take a while. He grabbed a couple of buckets and started to the door, expecting that Isabela would walk out with him.

She rose and followed after him. “I'll come by again soon. Especially since I missed -” Before she could finish, Noah appeared in the doorway. It startled her, but the sight of him made her grin. “Well, hello.”

“Hello. I was not expecting company.” Noah smiled to her, but it was only fleeting as his eyes quickly went to Anders.

---

Anders was sheepish, wondering how long he’d been there or if he’d simply appeared coincidentally. “Oh, you know how Isabela is. Walk with me?” He offered him one of the buckets.

“Yes.” He took one of the buckets, but didn't move just yet. His eyes had moved to the patients in the room. They were sleeping, but he listened for a moment to make sure he wasn't needed. Isabela watched him with fascination, hoping for a chance to see him in action.

---

He took a step, but when he saw that Noah was distracted, he turned to look inside. No one was moving, so he looked back at his boyfriend. Leaning in, he pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Come on, love, we’ll be back soon.”

That drew his attention back and he nodded, moving to follow him out. Isabela was on their heels, though she knew she would be dismissed as soon as they were outside. “...Did you come to talk to Anders about Owen?” He asked softly.

Isabela paused, looking for a moment as if the spirit had slapped her. “...No. I was just here to visit. I need to get going.”

“Sorry. You were just thinking of him and you are both uncomfortable. I should not have assumed.”

---

Anders looked between them, confused. “...See you, Isabela.” He wasn’t going to say anything until she was gone, but obviously Noah had pulled something out of her that he shouldn’t have. He was curious who this ‘Owen’ was, but he wasn't going to pry. Too much.

---

“See you soon.” She took one more long look at Noah before heading on her way.

“How was your day?” Noah asked when it was just the two of them, walking close to him.

---

“It’s been alright.” It’d been a pretty normal day for him. Normal days were always welcome. “How was yours?” He was asking because he wanted to know how he was and if there were any updates on their work in the Underground. He was waiting to ask. All he really wanted to know was who Owen was. Anything beyond that was something he would have to ask Isabela herself.

---

“It was good. We set up the mage family for hiding and on the next night when the templar staff is thin, we will get them out.” Things had gone smoothly thus far. With any luck, that night would go just as smoothly.

---

“Already?” There must have been an opportunity that had come up. “I want to come with.” It had been a while that the family had been stuck in the Circle and he knew that Noah had taken it hard when they’d gotten caught. He wanted to be there for their escape, especially since he knew Noah would be devastated if it didn’t go the way it was supposed to.

---

“I will let you know when.” He'd like for Anders to be there too. This was his chance to fix things for this family and he would take all of the help he could get to make sure things went smoothly.

---

When they reached the pump, he filled up his bucket and then had Noah set his down so he could fill that one next. “So… who’s Owen?”

“The latest heart she has broken and one that she should not have.” He picked up Anders’ filled bucket as he waited for the second to be filled. “I doubted she would seek anyone to talk to, but she was thinking of him when I arrived so I had hoped.”

“...Huh.” He couldn’t imagine her being around anyone long enough to break their heart. Not truly. Maybe he didn’t understand the love lives of his companions as well as he thought. To be fair, though, it wasn’t really something he was interested in.

“Alright.” He would leave it alone. If she regretted not trying a relationship with this ‘Owen’, maybe she would change her mind.

“She needs to talk to someone about it. She feels that if her own mother would give her away, anyone would leave her. Owen is the kind of man who could help mend her oldest and deepest wounds, but she is afraid to form a connection with anyone.” If anyone would understand such betrayal from a parent, it would be Anders.

---

For a moment, Anders just digested that. Noah, naturally, was revealing far more than he should. He was also a little weirded out by what he was saying about this ‘Owen’. He wasn’t sure where he was getting that from - if he’d seen the man himself or if was Isabela’s thoughts he was parroting. If it was Noah just presuming from having met him, it seemed like a strange thing to say.

Either way, “The best person to talk to her would probably be Owen himself.” Whoever he was.

“Yes, but she will not. She needs help. I know you did not want me to go to her.” With the buckets filled, he started to walk back with him toward the clinic. “She needs a friend's  counsel.”

---

“And you want me to be the one to counsel her.” He shook his head. “I can’t just do that, Noah. I ca