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Let’s be clear: it hardly took Ben-Hassrath training to figure out Inquisitor Lavellan was… interested. He’d made a few obvious, if awkward, passes, and the Iron Bull treasured them. He’d made his responses neutral though, still observing, still not entirely sure where Lavellan’s interest lay. Simple appreciation of the Qunari form? Not unusual, nor surprising. A quick fuck? That could be it, but the Iron Bull had a feeling he wouldn’t be the first one Lavellan approached about that. Sure, he played fast and loose with his flirting, and he’d already let the Inquisitor know in no uncertain terms he was working his way through the staff at the tavern, but they were team mates, not to mention the fact Lavellan was his employer. The Iron Bull knew the mighty Inquisitor took that kind of shit seriously. He was so cautious handling his team and advisors, always striving for balance, for consensus. It was impossible, of course—the people he’d gathered around him formed the most unlikely little army Thedas had ever seen, and strife and conflict just happened. Still, the little guy never stopped trying. It was… cute. All of Lavellan was cute. That was the only word for him really, when leaving off the ‘impressive’s and the ‘powerful’s and the ‘hero’s; shaggy hair, golden eyes, pointy nose with a tip that glowed red when the weather was cold; slender and short and agile like a cat.

Bull took a moment to mentally undress his boss and place him in his bed, considered the positions he’d be able to assume without much strain, and chewed the inside of his cheek a bit not to let the images overtake him.

Lavellan would be glorious.

So, he was interested, and Bull sure as fuck was interested. The question now was: what makes the Inquisitor tick, and this was where Bull’s training came in handy. He always studied people, that was his thing, but now he allowed himself to study his boss with a single purpose.

What gets you off, sweet thing?

Bull made his first mental notes a couple of days later. They’d reached scout Harding and the forward camp in the Emerald Graves the evening before, and were now settled in a new camp after a long, bloody day killing freemen and not one, but four giants. Every time Bull moved a muscle he was reminded that he’d ended the day with a more than decent body count, and that the broad axe Lavellan smilingly had come dragging from the undercroft the day they left Skyhold was quite a bit heavier than the one Bull had used up until then. Quite a bit sharper too, and with a nasty rune embedded in it that curdled the blood in living, untainted things. Bull loved it. He even considered sleeping with it, and despite aching muscles he took his time to clean and hone the weapon carefully before accepting a bowl of stew and a mug of ale. He bore nothing but fierce love for the terrifying archanist and sour smith of Skyhold, and it really did warm his heart his boss took the time to order awesome weapons for him without being asked. It was in thanking him Bull got his first… well, second clue:

Lavellan was sitting bare-chested, prodding his side and grimacing; an impressive canvas of mottled blacks and purples spreading from his right hip up to his nipples gifted by—almost—dodging a giant-thrown boulder. Solas sat hunched beside him, a hand surrounded by cool, blue energy pressed against the massive bruise, searching out tears in tissue and cracks in ribs and gently mending the mess. All while softly chiding Lavellan for not being a better rogue, apparently.

Bull snorted. He’d no doubt Solas would make an excellent rogue, had he not been a mage. He doubted Solas would’ve gone with the bow like Lavellan, though. He was more a two-daggers-in-the-back-and-back-into-the-shadows-we-go kind of man, no matter how composed and civilized he appeared. Calm and cool was always more dangerous than loud and angry.

“Up,” Solas said, and Lavellan nearly bounced to his feet despite the hiss of pain that escaped him, before a hand on his shoulder pressed him down again. “No, just your arms. I need to bind this to fix the ribs while they heal. It will make it easier to move.”

“Oh. Of course.” And up Lavellan’s arms went, bending at the elbow, hands clasping wrists. The pose was innocent as spring to most; to Bull it was right suggestive. And the ease he’d struck it with, despite the lingering pain… Hmm.

Lavellan was quickly bound tighter than a big-chested warrior, and Bull allowed his eye to linger on the strip of fabric as it was wound round and round, from waist to armpit, and finished with a stern knot. It suited the guy. If that made Bull’s tastes weird, so be it.

When Solas had gotten up and left, probably to nap and escape this piss poor world for the Fade, Bull shuffled over and slapped down a hand on Lavellan’s shoulder; not overly hard, just enough to make a sweet little slapping sound, skin against skin. What his sharp eye had failed to notice though, still straying to the contrast between grey linen and tan skin, was that Lavellan had contracted more than one bruise that day, and the result was the most delicious sound Bull had heard in quite a while, a quiet whine, forced from a throat hoarse from a day of coordinating battle. There was pain in that whine, sure, but what made it sweet was the note of shocked pleasure beneath. Bull had spent years and years parsing meaning from body sounds, and he didn’t doubt his experience. That sting of a slap against a moderate bruise was welcome. Bull lifted his hand an inch, caught his boss’ eye, then let it fall again; gentler this time—a firm pat on the exact same spot. It got him a little grunt and, more importantly, a somewhat glazed-over glance, wary at the creased edges.

“So,” Bull began. I take it pain comes in a bunch of different shapes for you. “I just wanted to thank you for the axe you got me, boss. It does some mean fucking damage once you get used to the balance of it.”

Lavellan stayed quiet for a while, studying Bull, eyes clearing once more and creasing a little more, evaluating. Whatever conclusion he reached, he didn’t share. He just smiled crookedly and nodded. “Only the best for my best, Bull.”

“Aw, you’re gonna make me tear up here.”

Those eyes just didn’t let up. There was a little bit of challenge there, an open question, another pass. “I mean it.”

Bull huffed a laugh and let his hand tighten on Lavellan’s shoulder for a moment. It got him a tiny shiver, barely there. “I don’t doubt it.” He got to his feet and headed back to where he’d sat, fetched the little wooden bowl and cup and made for the nearby stream to clean up.

Interesting.

oOo

The next piece of the puzzle was placed in his lap a few weeks later. The Inquisition had spared the men and timber needed to build a basic sparring ring, and the Chargers made good use of it. Lavellan strolled by it often enough, always on his way somewhere, someone who needed to talk to him, papers that needed signing, brat elven archers and weird-ass spirit kids that needed a talking to. It didn’t take him long to start slowing down as he passed while Bull was sparring, though, and soon he simply stopped, resting sharp elbows on the fence, and sharper eyes on Bull.

Shield against shield Krem leaned in and muttered something about an enthusiastic audience. Bull laughed, put his shoulder into it and landed Krem’s ass in the dirt.

“For wielding a maul larger than you are, your balance still needs work, kid.”

“Works just fine when I’m not body checking a bloody mountain, Chief.” Krem grinned, already back on his feet and dusting off his leathers, before turning to Lavellan. “Care for a round, Inquisitor? I’m dying for another go, but my tailbone tells me enough pratfalls for a while. The Chief’s not done by a long shot, though.” He shot a look over his shoulder, grinned, and strolled off. Pure fucking insubordination. Bull would’ve dragged him back by the ear if he didn’t agree with this particular strain of independent thinking. He shot Krem’s back a halfhearted scowl, then lifted an eyebrow in Lavellan’s direction.

“Those ribs must be healed by now.”

“They are.”

“And I know the bow’s your thing, but there’s nothing wrong with working your trunk a bit. Pick up that shield my lazy sod of a Lieutenant left behind and join me.”

Lavellan smiled, and Bull was hit with the realization of how much he had come to appreciate that smile, the crooked edge of it, the almost feral sharpness of jagged teeth. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said softly, “it wouldn’t do for the Inquisitor to lose face publicly. Like your Lieutenant said, I’d be butting shields with a mountain.”

“To be fair, I’m more of a boulder.”

“Rock is rock.”

“So you’d deny a pebble a fight? You coward.”

Lavellan laughed, shaking his head. “Fine, you win, Qunari. Please plant my arse in the dust in a way that allows me some level of dignity.”

If only it hadn’t been in the middle of the day, right next to the tavern. If only people hadn’t milled about. If only the rest of the Chargers had gone off drinking. Bull would’ve liked to pry into that bit about ‘dignity’ with more than harmless quips. Instead he raised his shield, lowered his head and gave a challenge with his hand.

Lavellan was a pleasure in the ring. He didn’t carry even half the weight Bull did, but he distributed that weight well, and while he might’ve been trained for bouncing around and evading, the way he planted his feet in the dirt and all but grew fucking roots impressed Bull. He still did his fair share of dodging, but instead of cleanly diving to the side, he took a fracture of the force of a shield blow before twisting his body and letting Bull’s momentum work against him, making him step forward and losing time as he had to turn and settle, while Lavellan had already slid into a low stance, ready for the next attack. What Bull really wanted was the shields gone. He wanted to tackle that wiry body without wood in between, to see what kind of noises he could get out of it. Instead he attacked again, this time taking the dodging into consideration—Lavellan tended to fall back to his left—and the shields met head on. Bull pressed, forcing Lavellan to take a step back and dig in, but he didn’t strike out. He held it at a steady push, taking his adversary’s weight into consideration and holding back enough to make it an even struggle, allowing it to go above the physical and into the dominion of will. He knew Lavellan to be a stubborn bastard—he would’ve laid down and just given up months ago otherwise—but he was curious about just how stubborn he wanted to be with Bull.

Lavellan held. And held. Chin down, eyes locked on Bull’s face, sweat beading on his temples, color rising in his cheeks. Strained or flustered? Both? Lavellan’s eyes gave nothing away. They were just focused. On him. On Bull. Attention undivided.

Bull pushed, using his weight and height, brute-forcing Lavellan another step back, just a foot or two away from the fence now. It got him a strained grunt and there, yes, eyes unfocusing slightly. Mouth open, teeth no longer gritted; harsh, open breaths.

Got you now.

One final push and Lavellan was trapped between shield and fence. He was panting openly now and his eyes were wild. If Bull did not actually care, he would’ve reached down and cupped Lavellan’s cock right then and there, and he would’ve found it hard. He knew this. But Bull did care, about Lavellan, about his reputation, about the importance of the success of the Inquisition and how it all tied together, so he settled for a wild grin. “Yield?,” he said, soft enough for it to only reach Lavellan’s ears. “Or do I need to force you to the ground?”

The hard swallow was like music to his ears.

“I yield.” Lavellan relaxed his body a bit, straightening up and then bending backwards as Bull kept up the pressure for a moment longer.

It took every fucking fiber of self-restraint in Bull’s body not to reply, “Good boy.”

oOo

So, another puzzle-piece right there for Bull to study; a big piece. Fit together with the Inquisitor’s complex relationship with pain it painted a pretty clear picture. Bull considered it carefully, weighing in his mind if he had what he needed to make a go for it, but something held him back. Still incomplete. Lavellan would appreciate physical force and most probably a bit of pain but as straight-forward as it looked at a glance, Bull knew better. What was that tired phrase? ‘Love is a battlefield’—or, well, fucking in this case—and on a battlefield you could always count on traps. Especially with a rogue involved.

Then it all got intense. Wardens gone crazy, frenzied struggling to get out of the real as shit Fade, fucking hordes of demons, one of them bigger than a house, Hawke dead, Varric devastated, Sera terrified, Solas foaming at the mouth, spirit kid more skittish than a spooked colt… It just went on and on and on… No time looking for hidden traps or revealed hints, no time to do more than what he was paid for, having the Inquisitor’s back, and then, nothing but time, but no Inquisitor in sight, locked in the war room, trying to decide how to best handle the Wardens—thank fuck he’d let them stay in Orlais, at least—trying to heal one of the ugliest wounds in the lands since the Blight, to raise an order from ashes back into something representable again, into something you’d dare trust.

Bull spent most of that time drinking and sparring, terrifyingly raw after the Fade shitfest. He had Krem beat him up a couple of times and that settled him somewhat, but he still preferred to fall asleep drunk. It made the dreams easier to forget come morning.

oOo

“Tal-Va-fucking-shoth!” Bull spat, before turning his head and spitting. It made his vision waver a bit. He’d made sure the poison coating the blades he’d known would come wouldn’t kill him, but it still made him sick as a dog. Not that he’d let it show. He could stand straight and he could look the Inquisitor straight in the eye and he could handle losing everything he’d ever known.

“Not everything,” Lavellan said, voice firm.

Fuck, had he been saying that out loud? Maybe the poison had been stronger than he’d expected, maybe—

“You still have the Chargers.”

Well, yeah…

“And you still have me.” A small, scarred fist struck a narrow chest; above it Lavellan’s eyes shone, huge and bright and deadly fucking serious.

“Boss…”

Lavellan cut him off with a hand. “You’re the Iron Bull. The… the fucking Iron Bull. And no one can take that away from you. You have purpose. And you have people. To the Void with Tal-Vashoth!”

“I…” Bull’s head was spinning. The thought of how so-sad-it-would-be-funny it would be if he passed out right then and there hit him and he nearly laughed. It wasn’t just the poison making him light-headed, it was Lavellan’s words. They rang true. He was still scared as shit, and about to throw up on his boss’ nice leather boots, but something had loosened in him; a weight he’d barely acknowledged before had fallen from his shoulders. He was lost… but free? “The fucking Iron Bull,” he muttered. “Has a nice ring to it. Maybe I should make it official.”

“Can’t wait to hear the herald announce it at the Winter Palace.”

Bull chuckled, felt bile rise in his throat. “Yeah, me too…” He swallowed. “Look, I need to go, boss. Sleep the effects of the poison off. No worries, just a nap.” He felt the weight of Lavellan’s gaze, felt him trying to dig out the level of truth in his words. He looked up, met that gaze again head-on and allowed himself a moment of rawness, no masks, no smiles. “Just a nap. And thank you. You’re right. I’m where I want to be.”

Lavellan hesitated, then gave a sharp nod. “Go. Get some rest.” And then he walked up to Bull, grabbed one of his horns, and got up on the very tips of his toes, pressing his lips against Bull’s chin—the only place he could reach—before letting go and walking away without another word.

Bull blinked.

oOo

Eighteen hours, way too much bile, some heavy sleep and a lifetime of swearing later, Bull was back on his feet, good as new. As far as the poison went, at least. Was he fine? Fuck no, but he was dealing. He did the thing where he put shit he couldn’t deal with in neat little boxes and stored them way out of sight in his mind. They’d still be there, and if he never opened them again they’d fester and rot, but for now they were best forgotten. It was a good technique, one he’d used probably more than he should in his life.

He focused on other things instead, like the memory of chapped lips against the scruff of his chin, and imagining what kind of sound Lavellan would make if Bull twisted his arm up his back, hard enough to ache.

He focused on his team too; letting the ones who knew who he really was know that he now was what the rest thought he was—Tal-Vashoth. He didn’t linger on the phrase, and neither did his men. Nothing had really changed, even while everything had. It was as comforting as it was confusing. He made another box.

Things seemed to have calmed down in Skyhold, as well. Frantic diplomatic work had taken the edge off the disaster and what was left was mostly cleaning up. Put the Wardens to work, quietly make it so that the Warden-bound demands the Inquisition had made barely had seemed to happen and would soon be forgotten, focus on the next goal—the Empress.

Lavellan, being Dalish, spent a good part of his days being drilled in the ways of human aristocracy: how to talk, how to walk, how to laugh, how to dance, how to fucking eat. Bull spent a little less time in the tavern and a little more in the great hall because, for one, it was hilarious to watch, and besides, both Red and Josephine ruled Lavellan with an iron fist during their lessons, and it was pretty fucking hot. Lavellan didn’t take to courtly manners easily, but he did take orders beautifully. Yes, Josephine, right away, Josephine. I’ll do better next time, Leliana, I’m sorry.

Not to mention the first time he tried to dance he was the color of brick from his neck up to the tips of his pointy ears the entire time. It was just too fucking cute.

oOo

The final piece of the puzzle was in Bull’s hand before he even knew it.  A throwaway comment about Lavellan being short had heated up his face to the point Vivienne darling’d him, wondering if he had a fever and if perhaps he should lie down. At first Bull thought Lavellan had gotten genuinely upset by the quip, the frown certainly pointed in that direction, but the little details soon seeped through, making Bull reevaluate. Lavellan was breathing hard, for one, and the stealthy glances in Bull’s direction weren’t nearly stealthy enough for him to miss them. Bull had called him tiny, and now it all pointed to him liking being called tiny. To the point of blushing.

Bull took the little piece of information as they made their way through the desolation that was the Exalted Plains and fitted it with the others, twisting and turning them, looking for edges that caught. The Inquisitor liked being pushed around physically, he liked being told what to do, or at least responded nearly instinctually to orders; he enjoyed moderate amounts of pain, and he turned into a blushing maiden when being reminded of his height. Bull was huge, Lavellan was tiny. He liked the contrast. Maybe he enjoyed feeling small more than being small. That probably included being manhandled, held, carried… comforted. None of the information Bull had gathered gave a firm positive for that last assumption, but something told Bull he was on the right track. It wasn’t just about pain and force, that didn’t really fit with Lavellan’s nature anyway; it was about a big body handling a small one. Bull looked down at his hands as he walked, turning them palms up, fisting them lightly; thick, rough fingers, broad palms. He wondered idly if he could circle Lavellan’s waist with them. Probably not, but it would be a close thing. He wanted to try. He really wanted to try.

Lavellan wanted gentle force; brutality not in action, but in presence.

Lavellan wanted him.

A shiver ran down Bull’s spine, and he shook it off like a dog, blamed a fly in his face when Dorian asked if he was coming down with something as well.

The insight shouldn’t have been earth-shattering in any way; Bull already knew Lavellan was attracted to him, that’s how all this started. But suddenly it felt very different.

It was time to act.

oOo

When they returned to Skyhold after a week of dismembering corpses and tearing through demons and saving Orlesian asses that, frankly, Bull wasn’t sure deserved saving, they had a couple of days before it was time to saddle up again; this time heading for Halamshiral. Bull could precisely imagine what a mess that would turn into if things went sour, and figured they might not get much downtime ever again afterwards. So, he only gave the Inquisitor one night to clean up and sleep before he set things into motion.

He figured the most straight forward way would be easiest, and simply entered Lavellan’s quarters after dinner, Lavellan nowhere to be seen.  It was his first time visiting the room and he whistled at the toned-down, spacious luxury of it. At least some of them lived like kings, apparently. It was private, though, very private, with only ravens for neighbors and all the windows offering the same view—mountains, mountains and more mountains. It was a safe space, both from a spymaster’s viewpoint, and from Bull’s own. He wanted warm and he wanted safe and he wanted quiet. Except for the occasional wooden quork from a raven it was almost impossibly silent for being located in Skyhold.

A fire was already lit, so there was not much for Bull to do but throw another log onto it and then sink down on the Inquisitor’s bed and wait. Dwarven made, oddly enough, but its stern shape made a nice contrast to the dark wooden furniture and the red carpets. It being Dwarven made, it was hardly surprising the frame was made of stone, but Bull couldn’t help thinking about what a pain it must’ve been to get that monster up here, and wondered who the fuck had gone through the trouble. The bolster was fine and thick though; he estimated it was at least five times more comfortable than his own bed. No bedposts though, which, had he acted on only the first clues he’d gotten, he might’ve been annoyed with, but now knew better—there would be no need for ropes or silken swaths: if the Inquisitor wanted to be held down, Bull’s body would do.

He didn’t have to wait too long before Lavellan entered his quarters; the slam of a door and light footsteps on stairs signaling his arrival. He came into the room, brow furrowed, eyes focused on a stack of documents in his hand and it took a moment before he even realized someone else was in there with him.

“Ah, Bull!” He took a step back. “I didn’t…” He bit his lip.

Bull got it: planting himself on the Inquisitor’s bed hadn’t been a coincidence. It sent signals, and judging from the look on the Inquisitor’s face, those signals were received loud and clear. He knew why Bull was here. Good.

Considering his options for a moment, Bull decided to remain where he was. Sure, he could take physical control of the situation and walk over to where Lavellan stood, documents in his hand now forgotten, but there was something to be said for making someone come to you, too. So he leaned back, planted a hand on the bed, and smiled. “Figured you wouldn’t mind finding me here.”

Lavellan took a step forward, hesitated. Fuck, Bull could see the tension in his body, holding himself back from walking, rushing over.

“Of course. You’re always welcome. What… What can I do for you?”

“Many things. You could begin by putting that stuff down before you drop it, though. “

Color rose in Lavellan’s cheeks. He looked around the room, as if trying to decide which flat surface would be best suited for resting documents on, and apparently found himself stumped, since he didn’t move.

Bull took pity on him and pointed at the little table accompanying the sofa, a couple of steps away from the bed. “There would be good.” He watched with a smile as Lavellan hurried to comply. Such a good little soldier. He wondered what thoughts moved in Lavellan’s head, which of them pushed to the forefront, what image of all the things that could happen was hardest to shake.

Well, there was an easy way to find out.

“What’s going on in your head right now?”

Lavellan looked up from the table, a startled look in his eyes. “I… I’m wondering why you’re here.”

Little liar.

“I’m here exactly for the reason you think I am, but, just to be clear, why don’t you tell me what that is.”

The blush on Lavellan’s face had reached his ears. Bull idly wondered how sensitive they were, what noises Lavellan would make if he bit the tip, sucked on the lobe, if he even liked it. He wanted to find out.

“You’re…” Lavellan shuffled a foot forward, as if bracing himself for what came next, or for what he needed to get out. “You’re here because I’ve made, ah, advances.”

Bull nodded, still smiling. He held back from replying, though, noticing the slight crease on Lavellan’s brow.

“I have to say, though, this is a bit of a surprise. You haven’t exactly responded in kind. I mean…”

“I haven’t pushed you up against the nearest wall and ravaged you yet, no.”

Whatever powers that be have mercy on Bull, Lavellan gasped at that. He was ready, more than ready, a handful of steps away and all but quivering. Bull had to take a breath and reign himself in, remind himself the payoff would be even sweeter if he saw this through. Make him come to me. Make him come—

“But you’d very much like to….” Lavellan took a step forward, cautiously almost, then another. “Is that it?”

If Bull reached out now, he’d be able to touch him, grab his wrist, pull him down on top of himself. He held himself very still. “What do you think?”

“I think what I think really doesn’t matter right now.”

Bull chuckled. “No, you’re wrong about that. What you think matters a whole fuck of a lot. But, see, here’s the thing… I’ve been watching and listening to you for a long time now, and I already have a pretty clear picture of what you think. Ben-Hassrath, remember?”

Lavellan looked mildly offended at that, but still took the final step needed for his knee to brush Bull’s. “Then why do you keep asking?”

“I like making you do things for me.”

“I… Oh.”

“Yeah.” Bull sat up straight. They were almost of a height now, with him only looming over Lavellan the tiniest bit. He leaned in, close enough their noses nearly touched. “’Oh’.”

“Bull, I—“

“Kiss me.”

He did not expect that to result in a lapful of tiny elf, thighs spread wide, but you wouldn’t hear him complain about it any time soon, or ever. Lavellan’s mouth was on his, hot, short little breaths heating him up, small hands planted on his chest, curled into claws as if grasping for something to hold on to.

It was sweet, so sweet; Lavellan made a strangled little sound when Bull finally took control, pushing into Lavellan’s mouth and making himself welcome, making it as deep and wet as he pleased. He spread a hand wide low on Lavellan’s back, let the other cup the back of his neck and grip tight. Lavellan shuddered against him, moaned into his mouth, and opened up even more to the kiss, offering himself up. Bull couldn’t help but take it, kiss deeper, grip harder. He felt himself growing hard, just from a simple kiss. Well, that, and months of slow-burning foreplay finally bearing fruit.

When he finally broke it off, gently pulling Lavellan back by the scruff of his neck, Lavellan was panting. With lips wet and swollen and pupils blown, he was beautiful. Bull had thought of him as cute once but that wasn’t enough—he was absolutely fucking beautiful: hungry and needy and happy, all rolled into one. They were also moving way too fast. It would take nothing for Bull to have Lavellan stretched on his fingers and yowling in minutes. That was the problem when being in charge, you had to have self-control enough for two. Not that that was usually a problem, but Lavellan didn’t just make Bull’s cock hard, he drove him wild, made his heart pound and his head swim, details he hadn’t entirely counted on. “Fuck, Lavellan, you…” He growled.

Lavellan wiped his mouth with a couple of fingers, smearing spit on his cheek in the process. He smiled, looking more than a little drugged. “I notice you don’t call me boss anymore.”

“Do you really want me to?”

“Not in here, no.” He tried to lean in, but Bull kept the grip on his neck firm, and got a shiver in reward. “Do you want me to call you boss?”

Bull chuckled. “Nah, Bull’s good. Gonna teach you a word though, a damn important one. That word will make this stop. If it gets too much, if you feel you’re in over your head—”

“I don’t.”

Bull shook him softly. “No interruptions. You might, because I’m gonna get to the fucking bottom of you in every way I can imagine—maybe not tonight, but I will, do not doubt that—and you might find yourself in a place you don’t want to be anymore. That’s where this word comes in. Say it and I stop. And we talk. The word’s ‘katoh’. Got it?”

Lavellan nodded.

“Say it for me.”

“Will it make you stop?”

Bull tugged gently, and let his lips brush across Lavellan’s, lightly moved to his nose, his cheek, his ear, where he paused. “Not this one time,” he murmured. “Now say it”

“Katoh.”

“Good boy.”

Lavellan gasped against his cheek.

“Like that, do you?”

“I—I didn’t know until now that I did.”

“I did.”

Lavellan muttered something in elvish; a curse or a term or of endearment, maybe. It didn’t really matter. Bull found that he’d wondered about the sensitivity of Lavellan’s ears too much and done too little about it, so he set to it, sucking the lobe into his mouth and biting down none to gently. Lavellan jerked in his hands, but towards him, not away, and Bull allowed himself a smile before he started exploring: increasing the pressure of the bite, then suckling. It brought a string of sounds from Lavellan, and Bull catalogued each one carefully. Some pain was, indeed, welcome, but hard sucking brought out something deeper, rougher. It was intriguing and satisfying and Bull lost himself in it for a while, mapping out ears and neck and chin with his mouth, reserving the harsher bites for Lavellan’s neck, low enough it would be covered by his collar. The thought of leaving marks where everyone could see was a tempting one, but he needed to find out how welcome it would be first.

“Bull…”

“What is it, little one?”

Lavellan’s fingers dug into Bull’s chest. “Gods, how did you know?”

“All your little blushes and scowls, glances and hard swallows, the Iron Bull sees it all… And when you’re not in my line of sight, you’re on my mind. I know you.” Bull leaned back enough so he could study the face in front of him. “Just like you’ve always wanted to be known. You wear your masks so well: the Inquisitor, the Herald, the Dalish, the negotiator, the judge, the listener; but somehow with me, they keep slipping, just a little.” He let go of Lavellan’s neck, ran a knuckle along one high cheekbone. “And what I see beneath is raw and hungry and small.”

“I… You…”

“No, it’s not for you to talk right now. Collect your thoughts. And why don’t you take your clothes off for me while doing that.”

That earned him a small laugh. “As if I’d be able to both think straight and undress while you watch me.”

Bull gripped Lavellan by the chin. “You can do anything I tell you to do. Got it?”

Lavellan opened his mouth.

Bull snapped it shut. “No. I’ll only let you keep one word for now, you know which. The rest? Are mine. If you get it, nod, then get off my lap and get naked.”

The gleaming heat in Lavellan’s eyes told Bull that he got it, alright, and, sure enough, a firm nod followed before Lavellan climbed off his lap, a bit clumsily, and stood before him.

Trembling fingers had trouble unfastening the first few hooks of Lavellan’s tunic, but the rest soon followed, and with a shrug the garment slid off narrow shoulders and fell to the floor. Had it been anyone else it would’ve been a pretty poor show, but Bull’s eye was locked on the body slowly being revealed to him. It was so much more than simply undressing; it was Lavellan shedding a layer of armor, it was him freely offering Bull more of himself, and making himself more vulnerable in the process.

Bull felt something in his chest tighten at the thought.

As he continued watching, Lavellan started unlacing his breeches. He was focusing on the task, not looking up at Bull, though his blushing face and the sharp little teeth nagging at his bottom lip told volumes about how conscious he was about being watched. The laces complied without protest and soon he was sliding both breeches and smalls down his long legs, no half measures.

It wasn’t until he’d worked his boots off and kicked his clothes to the side that he dared look up again, but Bull was pleased to see there wasn’t any hesitance on his face, just embarrassment and arousal and a bit of defiance, as if daring Bull to say something about his naked form.

Bull had plenty of things he could say, alright, but none of them would shame Lavellan. He was as gorgeous naked as he was clothed; there was clear musculature to his slender frame, though none of it bulky, and what little body hair Bull could see seemed to serve the single purpose of leading roving eyes from his navel down to his cock, which, Bull, again, was pleased to see was very, very hard. The size of it was proportionate to the rest of Lavellan, which meant Bull’s hand would completely swallow it, were he to wrap his fingers around it.

Now there was a nice image.

He took his time taking Lavellan in, from the crow’s nest mess of hair down to toes digging into the carpet, underscoring arousal and a bit of impatience.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes, Lavellan.” Bull smiled. He crooked a finger. “Now get back on my lap.”

Lavellan complied without pause, nimbly straddling Bull’s thighs. He hesitated for a moment before shuffling closer, as if to press up against Bull, and while that would be nice, it wasn’t quite time yet. Bull curled a hand around Lavellan’s hip and held him still. With the other, he collected a wrist and slowly moved it behind Lavellan’s back. He raised an eyebrow, and that was all it took for Lavellan to move his other hand behind his back as well, and Bull took them both in one hand, squeezing. That was apparently what was needed for Lavellan to release his poor, tormented lip, and he opened his mouth on a shaky gasp.

Bull ran a thumb over a sharp hip bone, back and forth, while going over his options.  While the sight of Lavellan’s naked body held in check and spread wide on his lap was mouth-watering, Bull didn’t feel any sense of urgency. This wasn’t just a tumble for him anymore, hadn’t been for quite a while, and while he’d accept it without a word if that was what it was for Lavellan, he was pretty sure that wasn’t the case. Even if he was wrong, and this would be the only night he’d get, he didn’t want to hurry anything. He wanted Lavellan to come, wanted to see him loose and languid and happy, and he’d prefer to come, too, though he could just as easily rub one out on his own later if it didn’t fit the mood, but beyond that, this was good. Just him and Lavellan and the quiet of his quarters, just touch and a bit of force, and making sure Lavellan got what he needed.

“Here’s a magic trick for you—you just got your words back.”

Lavellan blinked, then smiled. His words were slow but clear. “All this time and you never told me you were a mage.”

“It’s a secret.”

“In that case, I feel honored. You keep most of your secrets close to your chest.”

“That’s what makes them secrets, Lavellan. But for you, anything.”

“That’s a dangerous thing to say, Bull…”

Bull shrugged, jostling Lavellan’s body a little. “I live for that shit.”

“Well, for whatever it’s worth, the same goes for you.”

That made Bull’s pulse shoot up. “Anything?”

“Within my power, yes.”

“That is a really fucking dangerous thing for the Inquisitor to say.”

It was Lavellan’s turn to shrug. “When what—who—I want is within my grasp, I prefer not to hold back much.”

“You held back a long-ass time with me.”

“I didn’t know you were within my grasp. I thought it was just my wants magnifying things.

Bull tilted his head to the side. “What things?”

“Things like you forcing me up against the fence while sparring, when you easily could’ve sent me sprawling in the dirt… Or things like you prodding my bruises, as if you could read my mind how it felt for me.”

“Heh, no, your wants were pretty spot on there. And it didn’t take mind reading to figure that out about you, just working ears and a good eye. You reacted as if I’d pulled you over my knee and slapped your ass.”

“Well…” Lavellan cleared his throat. “Feel free to do that anytime the mood strikes you. When we’re in private.”

Bull couldn’t help but grin. “Noted. Anything else I should feel free to do? In private, of course.”

Lavellan was biting his lip again.

“You’re leaving that up to me. I get it. Let’s put it this way: are there things you don’t want me to do?”

Lavellan shifted on Bull’s lap, flexed his hands as if testing the grip on his wrists. Bull tightened it the tiniest bit in reassurance.

“I...wouldn’t honestly know. I’m going into this a bit blind, you know. I’ve barely any experience in the area. But I have the word you gave me. I’ll use it if needed.”

“That’s my good boy.”

Lavellan shifted again, or squirmed was more like it. “I can’t decide if the ‘my’ or the ‘good boy’ makes me more, ah, agitated.”

Bull let up his grip on Lavellan’s hip and instead wrapped his fingers around his cock, which, while not rock hard anymore, still was nicely thick with blood. “‘Agitated’? You mean turned on as fuck, right?” And you want to be mine?

“Ngh, yes… Those are better...words.”

Lavellan had broken eye contact and was looking down at himself. Bull followed his gaze down to the hand closed around his cock.

“Looks pretty nice, huh? Your sweet little cock all swallowed up by my big fist.”

Lavellan nodded and swallowed.

“Imagine if I made you come like this, just squeezing and working you without the tip ever peeking out.”

“Gods…” Lavellan’s body curled forward, his forehead smacking against Bull’s chest, arms stretched out behind him. “Bull…”

“I got you, little one. I got you… Just let me work you over.” Fuck, Bull could feel every hot breath on his chest, could feel teeth against his skin as a squeeze made Lavellan cry out. Lavellan was fully hard again and Bull’s fingers were wet. He wondered for a moment if that had been all it took to make Lavellan come, and thought in that case they were fucking well going twice, but soon he realized Lavellan was simply leaking. A lot. His hips were rolling against Bull’s hand and his cry was followed by a never-ending stream of little ‘ah ah ah’ noises.

Bull tightened both his hands and went to work, wishing he had a spare so he could pay attention to Lavellan’s nipples at the same time. Fuck, he wished he had more than that: he wanted hands all over Lavellan, wanted to give him fingers to suck on and one or two to fuck himself on and a hand to cup his throat to boot. But this would have to do. “So sweet,” he muttered, letting his fingers ripple around Lavellan’s cock, drawing out another cry. “You’re such a sweet little thing.”

“Bull… Bull… Bull!”

“Right here, K— Right here… Just focus on coming for me.”

It didn’t take long before Lavellan was crying out steadily, a harsh, desperate note in them, sobbing in between, and when his body curled up tighter, tensing for what was coming, Bull used his longer reach and pulled on Lavellan’s arms, smoothly but unforgiving, offering him a burning ache while also stretching out his back and making it arch. It gave Bull a full view of him as he came, head thrown back, bitten bruises low on his neck a mottled red, blending in with the flush that had taken him from face to far down on his chest, his entire body shaking.

Bull wasn’t a sentimental person, but this moment and the memory that would come of it he would keep in his chest for fucking ever.

The moment the tension went out of Lavellan’s body and his head dropped forwards, Bull eased the grip on his wrists, holding only tight enough to not simply let Lavellan smack against his chest as he sagged, but ease his way there. As soon as Bull’s body held Lavellan’s weight, he let up entirely, instead cupping the back of his head, and running his fingers through the sweaty tangle of his hair. Then he simply breathed for a while.

“That was...”

Terrifying? You bet. I nearly called you Kadan.

Lavellan shifted against Bull, his soft cock slipping from Bull’s loosely curled fist. He kept squirming on Bull’s lap until he could press his front against Bull’s, all while Bull discreetly wiped his hand off on Lavellan’s blankets. It wasn’t his smoothest move, but he worked with what he had. Plus, it freed his hand up so he could run it down Lavellan’s back instead.

“Incredible,” Lavellan muttered.

Bull wasn’t sure if he’d been caught or if Lavellan simply had finished his sentence, and peered down at the small figure in his arms. He could just make out the curve of a smile from this angle and while that didn’t answer the question, he decided to roll with the more positive guess. “Glad you liked it.”

“How could I not?” The hoarse note in Lavellan’s voice was lovely. “It was everything I’ve dreamed of.”

“A hand job and some dirty words?”

Lavellan smacked Bull’s side halfheartedly. “No, you… No. This. You. All of… you.” He rubbed his face against Bull’s chest. “And so little of me.” He looked up, tried to blow the hair out of his eyes but it was far too damp from sweat for it to have any effect. “Speaking of… You. I didn’t—You still haven’t…”

Bull smiled and used a finger to brush the offending hair aside. “You know… I’m good for now. I think I’d rather lay down with you as my very small blanket. Take a nap. And when we wake up, we could find out how much of me fits inside you. Uh, if we’re gonna continue this, I mean. I didn’t mean—”

“Bull, for as long as you’ll have me, I’m yours.”

And there went his heart again.

Center of my chest, indeed.

 

oOo

Kadan: Literally, "where the heart lies." An all-purpose word for a "person one cares about," including colleagues, friends and loved ones. Sometimes also "the center of the chest".