A story for dwarf lovers and lovers of irascible older men. Adan is one of my favorite NPCs in DAI, and I can particularly imagine a dwarven Tempest rogue (who essentially deals in alchemy) enjoying verbally sparring with him. I use some bits of actual conversations to start and expand from there; some future segments, especially at Skyhold, wion't. Disclaimer: As usual, Adan and most characters are property of Bioware from their DA: Inquisition game. Zheeva' is mine (pronounced zhee VA'). Some spoilers. Some profanity.

Part 1

"You can pay me back by fixin' the world. Name's Adan. I'm in charge of keeping our little band here stocked with potions and elixirs. Not that Seeker Pentaghast seems to care whether we've got the supplies to actually…do that."

Zheeva' grinned up at him. "For a healer, you don't seem particularly nurturing."

"I'm not a healer, I'm an alchemist who's forced to play mother hen. You want something to burst into flame on contact with the air. Done. Gladly. Patching up wounded soldiers is a waste of my time and talents... But there are few around who can help."

"Alchemist, hmm?" The dwarf tilted her head to the side, a few strands of short hair so blonde it was almost white escaping from the scarf she had wrapped around her head. Her green eyes sparkled with mischief as she studied him. "A man who can set things on fire without magic sounds like a useful man to know for someone like me." Adan scowled at her suspiciously as if suspecting a double meaning to her words, but she just smiled back innocently. "However, for the time being, taking care of the wounded is the priority. Now, you sound as if you're short on supplies? Is there anything I can do to help out?"

Part 2

"You're back, and in one piece." Zheeva' grinned at the cranky alchemist as she pulled out a roll of papers from a pouch.

"You said you thought Master Taigen was working on something special. If it helps, I found his notes." He grabbed the sheets of paper, leafing through them, his eyes lighting up.

"Ha! The old codger was on the edge of a breakthrough here, but he couldn't see it. You want some of these mixed up, you just give the word."

"Codger?" Her green eyes laughed at him. "That's the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it?" Adan just snorted.

"That's right, see how far you get coaxing me into helping you make things burst into flame when you call me things like that. Besides, I'm an alchemist, not a…"

"Nursemaid. I know." Zheeva' could hear the barmaid who'd been about to leave the house lurking in the doorway, listening avidly. "Do I look like a nursemaid or someone who needs one?"

"No, you look like a bit of mischief keeping me from my work." He retorted sourly. "Besides, I've already played nursemaid to you."

"I know, you told me that before, and then you told me to fix the world to repay you." One slender hand impatiently tucked strands of hair back into her scarf as she answered his scowl with a grin.

"And I can see you're on top of that right now, lurking around my workshop and chattering at me."

"All right, you win. This round." Zheeva' turned, catching sight of the maid as she ducked the rest of the way out the door. "Just let me replace a few potions here."

"What, using them up already? They don't make themselves, you know." She returned his glare innocently as he stalked over to the supplies, handing her more.

"If I didn't use them, you'd have to find something else to complain about. Besides, you don't want to have to nursemaid me again, do you?"

He just snorted, arms crossed impatiently and nodded at the door. She bowed with a flourish and left, grinning, his scowl sliding away as he watched her leave with a puzzled expression. Then he shook himself and turned back to his workbench.

Part 3

"You're back, and in one piece." Zheeva' wrinkled her nose at his usual greeting, her impish grin tired, her leather clothing and armor still covered in dust and mud from travelling.

"What, were you hoping I'd need to be nursemaided again? Or just that you'd be rid of me?" She turned to take sacks from Varric.

"Hmph, you know my opinion on nursemaiding. And I have to put up with you at least until you've fixed the world." He scowled at her, ignoring Varric entirely.

"Thank you, Varric. Adan, you cranky codger, we came across some unusual herbs that I know you're short on."

His scowl deepened. "How do you know what I need? I didn't tell you."

"I snooped when you were busy, of course." Their verbal sparring seemed to be restoring her energy, and her eyes glinted up at him challengingly as Varric listened in amusement.

"You…snooped in my storage cupboards?" He drew himself up, eyes alight with outrage. "Maker's breath, woman, don't you know how dangerous some of the things I have in there are?"

"I should, since I dabble in some of the same things." She raised her chin, shoving the bags at him. "I didn't touch anything, and I was as careful as if I was handling holy relics. Andraste's ass, Adan, do you really think I'm a fool?"

"No, you're just a snoop and a busybody." Grudgingly, he opened first one sack, then the other, examining the contents. "But you're apparently a very lucky snoop since I really did need these. Crystal grace, I haven't seen this growing in the Hinterlands before." He eyed her accusingly, and she responded with a cheerful grin.

"Well it does. However apparently it attracts bears, which makes getting to it a bit exciting." Varric groaned at the memory, but she ignored him, apparently intent on needling Adan. "I found our discussions with them invigorating myself, somehow they reminded me of talking to you, but there are…requests that you go easy with that so we don't have to go back. I'm assuming you don't normally go out collecting herbs with a heavily armed party?"

Adan just snorted, then shook a finger at her. "That's as may be, but next time, you ask. Stay out of my cupboards, woman, or I really will remind you of a bear." He paused, looking at her more closely, as if seeing the signs of exhaustion and travel for the first time. "Maker's breath, woman, I didn't need these herbs that badly. Next time, get some food and rest and a bath first."

"Nursemaiding me, Adan?" Her laughter had a challenging note, and he snorted.

"Not likely. I just won't be able to smell my own potions for the next hour until I get the odor of sweat and horse out of my nose. Now get out of here and get that bath and food."

Bowing with a flourish again, Zheeva' winked at Varric as she led the way to the door, then Adan called after them testily, "And you, storyteller! Make sure she does, or they'll make me nursemaid her again." He glared as she stopped in the doorway to raise an inquisitive eyebrow at him. "Get!" Her laughter drifted back through the door as he began carefully removing the herbs and storing them in the cupboards, grumbling.

Afterword

I personally find several of the NPCs much more attractive romance options than the ones officially available to a dwarven woman-note that I'll cheer on anyone who enjoys those options, I just personally find their appeal is to rather narrow groups that I don't fall into-so my solution is to write my own. Dear friends of mine are the inspiration for the flavor of their relationship, a couple whose relationship took me years to begin to understand and appreciate.