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The Space Between Me and You

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There are days when Cullen thinks the Maker must hate him. Days like today, for example, when the wind blows colder even than usual and every person in Haven is suddenly incapable of solving any problem without his input. His head was throbbing before he finished breakfast, and the day hasn't improved from there. He has a hundred things to do, and none of them involve a conversation with Mother Giselle that's beginning to feel like a trap he'll never escape.

It was supposed to be brief. He'd wanted only to check with her that she has everything she needs--or at least, everything Haven can provide--but "brief" appears to be an unfamiliar word to her. Rather than let him continue on to Josephine's office, she's pressed him with more and more pointed questions about his past and his faith, questions with answers that won't make her happy and are none of her concern.

Questions that are doing nothing good for his headache, or his temper.

The trap holds him until the chantry is nearly full, people shifting restlessly while they wait for Mother Giselle to begin the service she leads daily. By the time he escapes, Josephine's office is empty, with no sign of when she'll return. Cullen allows himself a moment to grind his teeth in private before he turns away from the desk, his thoughts on the day's unfinished tasks. There are several recruits who could use a little extra practice, and he needs to speak with Seggrit about the quality of the blades he provided to several other recruits. After that-

Head down, unheeding, he slams into someone else, someone as startled by the collision as he is. There's a moment where they fumble, both of them trying to catch their balance and remain silent, intent on not disturbing the service that's already begun in the main part of the chantry. They steady each other, arms tangling as they stagger sideways, and Cullen's hand comes down on a bare shoulder as someone else's hand grabs his other wrist for balance.

The bare shoulder is all the hint Cullen needs, because only one person in Haven goes outside in only half a shirt. If he had any doubts, they're put to rest by the buckles and straps decorating the chest that's currently inches from his nose.

Magister Pavus.


Cullen's heartbeat picks up, his body preparing for a fight. He's exchanged a few cautious words with Dorian in the week since the Herald returned from Redcliffe, but mostly Cullen's attention has been elsewhere. Deliberately elsewhere, when necessary. The Herald wants this Tevinter magister here, in Haven and occasionally at the war table. Since Cullen isn't prepared to fight about it, he's done his best to ignore both the problem and the magister himself.

It's difficult to ignore him now, though, when Cullen's inattention has almost knocked him over. The thought of apologizing makes his head pound worse, but the fault is at least half his, and he has no desire to be childish.

He looks up, but the words die unspoken as Dorian's shoulder flexes in his grip. They're almost nose-to-nose, Dorian's breath ghosting over his cheek, and heat surges in Cullen's gut, unexpected and unwelcome. He doesn't know Dorian or trust him, and that sudden touch of skin against skin should mean nothing. It shouldn't make him want, not like this, and it shouldn't freeze him in place, his gaze fixed on Dorian's mouth.

Dorian's eyes go dark, and a wicked smile spreads over his face. It's a smile Cullen has caught glimpses of before, a smile that promises all the things Cullen has denied himself for months--years, really--too focused on his duties and the chaos around him. It's a smile that feeds the heat in his gut and makes him want to close the small distance between them to see if Dorian can actually make good on any of those promises.

"Hello, Commander," Dorian purrs, his fingers shifting on Cullen's wrist for a better grip.

Before Cullen can react, Dorian turns them and shoves Cullen against the wall beside the door, dragging Cullen's arm up to pin it over his head.

It doesn't matter anymore, that Cullen doesn't know or trust him, because Dorian's hair is warm and soft between his fingers, the only soft thing between them at the moment, and Dorian's other hand is braced against the wall beside his head, blocking him in and surrounding him with the smell of Dorian's skin. He smells like wood smoke, and some spice Cullen doesn't know but wants to taste.

The hand palming his half-hard cock through his trousers is hardly a surprise. The kiss, on the other hand, is entirely unexpected, and it shocks through him in a rush of heat that leaves him gasping. Dorian's tongue flicks across his lips then withdraws, and Cullen chases it eagerly, tilting his head to give himself better access to Dorian's mouth, already opening for him.

Dorian kisses him with confident skill, as if they've done this a thousand times before, and maybe in some bizarre alternate future they have, because he knows exactly how to make Cullen want to beg, even as a small voice in the back of his head protests that they shouldn't be doing this. Not here, not now, not with Mother Giselle leading prayers only a dozen steps away.

Cullen can feel the weight of her disapproval through the wall, though he knows she can't possibly see them. She can't possibly know that Dorian's mouth is hard and hungry against his, that Dorian's cock is grinding against his hip, that Dorian's hand is pinning his wrist to the wall. She can't possibly hear the groans Cullen is swallowing, or the soft wet sounds of the kiss as their tongues slide and thrust frantically.

He feels her disapproval anyway, like the Maker's eyes on him, and rather than shame him into ending this, all it does is make him harder. They're in a chantry, for the love of Andraste, and he's all but fucking a Tevinter magister he's known for a week.

None of it matters. Cullen would beg aloud, if silence wasn't the only thing protecting them from a truly embarrassing confrontation. Even the reminder of what's happening on the other side of the wall doesn't deter him. If anything, the knowledge that someone could stumble on them at any moment makes Cullen's breath catch, and not from fear.

As if he can read Cullen's mind, Dorian kisses his way along Cullen's jaw to his ear to whisper, "Best be quiet, Commander. Think how many people might hear us, if you cried out." His lips brush Cullen's ear, and his breath is warm in Cullen's hair.

There's a caustic retort somewhere in Cullen's head, but it gets lost when Dorian kisses him again, tongue exploring every corner of his mouth. Dorian's cock is hard, riding against his hip, and Cullen's own cock is aching inside his breeches.

Dorian releases his wrist and leans back far enough to work off a glove, tugging on the leather with sharp, impatient movements. Cullen could lower his hand, but he doesn't, holding it over his head where Dorian put it, fingers flexing as he watches Dorian strip off the glove at last.

"Hold this for me, would you?" Dorian asks, eyes half-lidded as he tucks the glove into Cullen's belt. "I believe I'll need my hands free."

Cullen's answer is again lost in a kiss as Dorian tugs at his laces, fingers as practiced as his tongue. Without Dorian's mouth against his, Cullen likely would have made some revealing noise when Dorian's hand closes on his cock, firm and hot and a little rough. It's been a long time since he's felt anyone's touch except his own.

His hand is still above his head, Dorian's gloved hand pinning it again while his bare hand works Cullen's cock with sure strokes. After a moment, he kicks Cullen's feet wider, wedging his hips between Cullen's thighs and trapping Cullen against the wall.

Not that Cullen is in any hurry to move away. Dorian's hand is too hot to be natural, and the danger of that, of magic so close to his cock, so close to him in this unguarded moment, is as arousing as the knowledge that one sound could reveal them to a chantry full of worshippers.

Dorian ducks his head to bite low on Cullen's throat, down by his collarbone where his coat will probably cover the mark. Probably. If Cullen doesn't pay attention later, the coat could fall open and reveal the bruise Dorian is even now sucking and biting into his skin.

Cullen lets his head fall gently back against the wall, careful not to make a sound but wanting to give Dorian as much room as possible. Dorian repays him by sucking a matching bruise into the other side of his neck, teeth sharp as they scrape over his skin. Through it all, Dorian's hand continues to move, stroking like he can feel what Cullen is feeling and knows exactly where and how to touch.

"You're very good at quiet," Dorian murmurs in his ear. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you'd done this before." He licks the curve of Cullen's ear, then bites it hard enough to make Cullen jerk against him. "Have you, then? Touched yourself like this, or let someone else touch you, with an entire crowd close enough to hear if you make so much as a sound?"

Unless Cullen counts the templar barracks where he lived as a recruit, the answer is a resounding no. This isn't something he knew he wanted, and maybe he'll never want it again, but he wants it right now: Dorian's hand on him while behind them, the residents of Haven recite the Chant of Light and Mother Giselle stands close enough to see them if she takes fewer than a dozen steps.

"I wonder what I would have to do," Dorian whispers, "if I wanted to hear you make noise right now." He twists his wrist, squeezing the head of Cullen's cock. "Imagine all those people out there. Imagine their faces if you were to cry out." He breathes in deeply against Cullen's ear and hums, a moan too quiet to be heard even a foot away. "Imagine their faces if you were to cry out my name."

Cullen's mouth is open wide, the only way he can get enough air without making noise, and his body is starting to shake, but he can imagine exactly what Dorian wants him to imagine: his voice breaking on Dorian's name, moaning it out in a way no one could mistake for anything except what it is.

"And oh," Dorian says, voice still low against his ear, "if you did cry out right now? They would all come running, and they'd see you like this, your cock in my fist, so hard, so desperate. Even if they were all standing there staring, you wouldn't want me to stop, would you? Not now, not when you're so close."

The heat in his belly is gathering itself together, his balls drawing up tight, his hips rocking involuntarily. There's nothing now except Dorian's hand and Dorian's voice, and the vivid image Dorian is painting for him.

"You wouldn't want me to stop, would you?" Dorian asks. His hand is moving faster, and his voice is just a little breathless now. "You would enjoy it, wouldn't you? All those eyes on you, watching you fuck my fist, seeing how much you want it."

Cullen can feel those eyes on him, hungry and disapproving at the same time, and he spills in Dorian's hand with a sound that's almost a groan. He manages to bury his face in Dorian's shoulder to muffle the noise, gasping and shuddering as Dorian strokes him relentlessly, squeezing his cock until it hurts.

His eyes are still shut when Dorian shrugs his shoulder gently, encouraging Cullen to rest his head on the wall again. Dorian's hand on his wrist and Dorian's hips against his are the only things keeping him upright.

All Cullen's attention is on breathing as quietly as possible, until there's a whisper in his ear: "What a mess you've made, Commander." Dorian's weight shifts, his hand leaving Cullen's cock with a last, firm stroke. "You really should clean it up."

He puts his palm over Cullen's mouth, and Cullen shudders again, a small shock of lust that can't stir his cock but which has him opening his mouth to lick his seed off Dorian's hand as if it were sweet instead of bitter.

It takes a little while, the angle awkward and imperfect, and eventually he has to take Dorian's wrist in his hand, turning it to clean away the last traces. Dorian's breath hitches at that, the tendons in his wrist shifting in Cullen's grip, but he doesn't try to pull away. Instead, he makes another one of those noises, a groaning hum that Cullen feels as much as hears.

"All right," Dorian says, low and amused, when Cullen has licked his hand clean at least twice over. He twists his arm gently free and releases Cullen's wrist, stepping away though Cullen knows his cock is still hard. "What a lovely sight you make, Commander."

Cullen forces his eyes open at last, knowing exactly how he must look with his face flushed and his cock hanging out. Dorian is regarding him with a satisfied smirk, arms crossed over his chest like an artist surveying a finished painting.

The satisfied smirk isn't what makes Cullen frown, though. It's the look under it, behind it, the knowing look that says, "I knew you were no different from any other man. I can bring you to your knees the same as all the rest. You need me, but there's nothing I need from you."

Cullen hasn't had a vast number of lovers, but he's had enough, and he's never left any of them wanting. He'd had no intention of leaving Dorian unsatisfied, though once he'd had a chance to think without his cock driving him, he would likely have suggested they move somewhere a little more private.

Dorian tugs his shirt straight, clearly about to leave, and says, voice still pitched low, "We must do this again sometime."

Before he can move out of reach, Cullen grabs a handful of his so-recently-straightened shirt and reverses their positions, pressing Dorian up against the wall as quietly as he can. Without waiting for Dorian to speak, he drops to his knees, already working on Dorian's buckles.

"This isn't necessary, Commander," Dorian murmurs, the smirk clear in his voice. I can make you kneel, his tone says, but you still mean nothing to me.

Dorian is partly right, Cullen will admit: he is on his knees, and it is for Dorian. But just because he's the one on his knees doesn't mean he's powerless, not when he chose to kneel.

The buckles on Dorian's pants look daunting, but Cullen finds the trick of them easily, and it's only moments before he's sliding his hands under the leather to free Dorian from his clothes. One hand teasing at his balls, the other around his shaft, Cullen sucks lightly on the head of Dorian's cock, looking up as he does to catch Dorian looking down.

He looks less superior and more surprised now. Cullen smiles around his cock, a smile with as much promise as all Dorian's flirting at the war table, and a little more of that smugness fades.

It's been a long time since Cullen had a cock in his mouth, but his body remembers well enough, and he can hide his lack of experience under the guise of experimenting. He sucks and licks and strokes, rolling Dorian's balls in his palm, pressing on the skin behind them with his knuckles, teasing at Dorian's hole with the tips of his fingers. Always teasing, never fucking him properly, while Cullen's mouth moves on his cock with growing confidence.

On the other side of the wall, the Chant of Light rises up, a hundred voices begging for the Maker's attention, when all Cullen wants is the undivided attention of one Tevinter magister. He has it, too: Dorian's eyes have gone wide, and his lips are parted, his thighs beginning to twitch against Cullen's shoulders.

Cullen smiles up at him again, challenging, and Dorian's eyes narrow, his hands burying themselves in Cullen's hair to force his head down. He's playing Cullen's game now, though, and Cullen smiles to himself, letting Dorian do what he wants, relaxing his throat to let Dorian fuck him until Dorian's hands are shaking and his head is thrown back against the wall, his breaths dangerously loud.

Only then does Cullen grab both of his wrists, squeezing hard so that Dorian's hands open as much from surprise as anything. Cullen looks up again, waiting for Dorian to look at him.

It's more of a glare than a look, and Cullen smiles again, letting Dorian's cock slide from between his lips so he can whisper hoarsely, "What a lovely sight you make."

Even through the glare, one corner of Dorian's mouth twitches in a smile before he suppresses it. "And you as well, Commander. You look quite beautiful with your mouth around my cock."

Power games, but these are games Cullen knows how to play, even if not normally in the bedroom. "Will you cry out my name?" he asks.

This time, Dorian doesn't suppress the smile. "You would lose more than I, Commander, should I be so indiscreet."

Which is true, but Cullen doesn't let that show on his face as he sucks the head of Dorian's cock into his mouth again, eyes still locked on Dorian's. Dorian's chest rises and falls once, sharply, his hands curling into fists at his sides. Not in Cullen's hair, though, because Cullen isn't going to let him win again.

Rather than allowing Dorian to fuck his mouth, he swallows more and more of Dorian's cock, fucking himself as surely as Dorian fucked him. I'll give you what you want, he says silently, but you don't get to take it.

All the way down, then up only enough to breathe before going back down. He's not trying to tease now. Now he wants to drive Dorian toward that edge fast and hard, do to him what he did to Cullen, make him a slave to his body and his own needs. Make him accept that Cullen is the one in control, never mind which of them is on his knees.

He releases one of Dorian's wrists when Dorian is twisting against him, and Dorian immediately puts that hand over his own mouth, muffling any sounds that might slip out. Cullen might have more to lose in the long run should they be discovered, but Dorian is no longer thinking about anything other than now. He won't risk losing Cullen's mouth on his cock when he's so close Cullen can already taste him.

Cullen smiles and wraps his fingers around the base of Dorian's cock, stroking for a few moments to give himself time to catch his breath before he picks up his pace. With his fingers slick, he teases at Dorian's ass again, fucking him with two fingers just as he goes almost all the way down on Dorian's cock. Dorian makes a sound that's swallowed by his hand and the rising cadences of the Chant behind them.

He makes no sound at all when Cullen drives those two fingers deeper and presses them forward, but the hand not over his mouth squeezes into a fist and yanks against Cullen's grip, the metal edges and leather palm of Cullen's half gauntlets dragging hard over Dorian's skin. If it hurts, he doesn't seem to care. He's writhing now, the Chant loud enough to drown out anything short of a scream.

Cullen lets his fingers ease off as he lifts his head for one last breath, then he goes down again--all the way this time--working his throat and fighting to press his nose to Dorian's stomach, his fingers fucking Dorian in short, hard thrusts. It takes less than half a dozen thrusts before Dorian goes rigid, his cock pulsing against Cullen's tongue, his back bowing out from the wall for so long that Cullen's head begins to spin from lack of air.

Before Cullen can decide whether he's prepared to let himself pass out, all in the name of winning this strange little power game, Dorian slumps back against the wall. Cullen sits on his heels to breathe as Dorian's hand drops from his mouth, the skin around his lips momentarily pale where his thumb and fingers pressed in hard.

His eyes open quickly enough after that, and there's a moment where he gazes down at Cullen, looking relaxed and satisfied. Still smug, yes, but now his smile makes it a joke shared between the two of them, rather than a duelists' match they can only win at each other's expense.

Watching his face close off is almost physically jarring, satisfaction turning back to superiority as he makes this a contest again. "You seem to have made another mess, Commander." His fingers brush over his own chin to indicate Cullen's, and his smile dares Cullen to try to do to him what he did to Cullen earlier.

As if Cullen's only options are to play the game his way, or lose.

Without breaking eye contact, Cullen wipes his thumb across his lower lip and licks it clean, sucking it into his mouth for good measure. Dorian's smile tilts a little, granting him the point without granting him the satisfaction of breaking that smug superiority.

Cullen rises to his feet without dropping his gaze, careful to come up inside Dorian's space so that they're nose-to-nose again when he's standing. On the other side of the wall, the Chant has quieted, Mother Giselle's voice rising and falling alone in the steady cadences of a sermon. It's background noise only, though Cullen could make out the words if he wanted to.

"Well," Dorian says quietly, "that was diverting." He tugs pointedly on his hand, still in Cullen's, and adds, "I believe I'll need this back now, Commander."

Reminded, Cullen leans away to bring Dorian's hand up and check it over. Whatever game they're playing, Cullen doesn't actually want to hurt him, and gauntlets were never designed to be gentle to bare skin.

His concern is for nothing, though. Dorian's skin is marked by small scrapes, nothing more, and nothing Dorian won't be able to hide by keeping his sleeves down or his gloves on. For that matter, he could take a little elfroot and the marks would be gone in the space of a breath.

He could, but Cullen doesn't think he will. Any more than Cullen will take elfroot to hide the marks on his neck.

When Cullen looks up, Dorian is watching him. Still smiling, but thoughtful rather than superior now. "You needn't concern yourself with that, Commander. They'll be gone by tomorrow."

Cullen nods once, curtly, a little off balance. He's reminded unexpectedly of a different game, one the templar recruits would sometimes play: two recruits standing face to face, palms pressed together and fingers laced, pushing at each other until one of them was forced to step back. Cullen feels now the way he did the first time he played that game against someone who knew what they were doing: he pushed, and she didn't push back, letting her arms go lax so that he stumbled forward, unprepared for a complete lack of resistance.

Dorian twists his arm slowly, freeing it from Cullen's hand, and Cullen lets go, stepping back a little farther to give Dorian room to straighten his clothes and tuck his cock back into his trousers. The only time Cullen interferes is when Dorian reaches for his second glove where it's still tucked in Cullen's belt.

"No," Cullen says. Whispering, but firm.

"No?" Dorian asks, one eyebrow cocked. He's wary now, his weight shifting as if he's preparing to run or dodge.

"No," Cullen says again, putting his hand over top of the glove. "It's mine now."

The eyebrow rises higher. "I'm curious what you intend to do with it, given that it doesn't fit you." The superior smile comes back, challenging him. "Will you walk around Haven with it, like a lady's favor?"

Cullen smiles and leans in, letting his mouth hover over Dorian's: close enough that their breaths mingle but not close enough to kiss. Dorian licks his lips, sensuous and almost enough to distract Cullen from the way his eyes have gone dark again.

They stay like that for three breaths, then Dorian shifts to lean forward and close the distance between them. Just before he does, Cullen steps back, completely out of reach.

"You're right," Cullen says, without sarcasm. "That was indeed diverting."

Then he turns and walks away, feeling better than he has in weeks.