Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to the BBC, world and lore belong to Bioware.

Note: if you're not somewhat familiar with the world of Dragon Age, much of this may be incomprehensible. Spelling of "Ser" intentional, as per Dragon Age's chosen spelling.

Rogue Heart

John had received the missive not long after breakfast. Written in the Knight-Captain's customarily curt hand, it summoned him to his office at his earliest convenience. Ignoring the questioning looks from his fellows, John hurried from his quarters to the Templar Hall.

He knocked on the door of the Knight-Captain's office and waited. He shot a sideways glance up to where the Knight-Commander's door was. Two Templar guards stationed outside looked back at him impassively.

"Come in," came Cullen's terse voice.

John found him rifling grimly through a pile of paperwork, a greying quill clutched in one hand. He barely glanced up as John entered.

The room was familiarly barren, just like every other room in the Gallows, be it an apprentice's cell or the Knight-Commander's personal quarters. The Canticle of Benedictions had been engraved into a slab of grey stone that was fastened to the wall. A banner emblazoned with the Templar insignia was hanging on the wall behind him, the blood red vivid against the bricks.

Cullen reluctantly put his quill down. He looked at John with a sober expression. "You know why I've called you here?"

"Yes, ser." John was very glad for the hard shell of his armour. His heart always beat furiously during these meetings. But at least it was Cullen, and not the Knight-Commander. He swore she could almost smell unease. "I'll set out immediately."

Cullen sighed. He was looking increasingly tired of late. Every time John saw him, the shadows under his eyes seemed a shade darker. "The Knight-Commander wants this taken care of discreetly. We have enough tension in this city as it is." He sighed again, rubbing his eyes. "We don't need the entire city getting wind of it."

John knew they were both thinking of the Champion. She had a remarkable talent for appearing at the least opportune times- at least for the Templars. It was no secret she supported mage sedition. There were even whispers that she had personally aided in the escape of mages. Something that usually meant certain imprisonment- or worse.

John bowed his head respectfully and turned to leave.


John looked at him. He thought he looked troubled. "Ser?" he prompted him.

When Cullen spoke he sounded almost uncharacteristically sharp. "What I'm about to say is in the strictest confidence. Do you understand, Watson?"

John nodded wordlessly. The Knight-Captain was as solemn and unsmiling as they came, but at this moment his seriousness took on an almost steely quality.

"This is…" Cullen glanced down at the paper in front of him, "Holmes's third escape attempt this month." His tone was clipped. "This month alone."

John couldn't help thinking to himself that "attempt" suggested that they hadn't all been successful.

"Knight-Commander Meredith has been as lenient as someone in her position can be. His brother…" Cullen's mouth thinned with distaste, "has been very… vocal that we do everything within our power to tame him, short of-" He cleared his throat. "His family name carries weight, as I've no doubt you know. But that weight is wearing thin." His voice was meaningful.

John felt his stomach drop with uncertainty. "Ser?"

Cullen fixed him with a stern look. "I know you have always been fair and even-handed in your treatment of our charges, even those who are as… difficult as Holmes."

John narrowly avoided snorting. "Difficult" was an understatement even for Cullen.

"But the Knight-Commander's patience has been tested time and again with that mage." He looked John in the eye, seeming genuinely regretful. "If he cannot be controlled-"

"No," John barked, not able to stop himself.

Cullen blinked in surprise.

John felt himself colour. "It just seems like a waste," he stammered quickly. "He's…" He struggled for the right words, words that said everything and nothing.

Cullen was silent. He almost seemed to be sizing him up. John was sure he had overstepped the mark. It wasn't his place to question the Knight-Commander's orders. To his surprise, Cullen didn't reprimand him for speaking out of turn. Instead he said grimly: "It gives me no pleasure to do this. Competent mages, mages who've been through their Harrowing..." He exhaled. "It is never the easy choice."

Perhaps Cullen believed that, John thought, but the Knight-Commander seemed to find it a very easy choice indeed.

"I will speak with him, ser." He met Cullen's eye with a hard look. "I will make him see reason."

Cullen gave a humourless snort. "I won't hold my breath. Holmes doesn't seem willing to listen to anyone, let alone a Templar. But you may go, Watson. Bring him in as quietly as you can manage." He glanced back down at his paperwork. "Maker watch over you."

"May He watch over us all," John said quietly.

John's mind was racing as he almost ran down to the Gallows docks, armour clattering against the stone. He had expected this for months. He had warned Sherlock. Maker, how many times had he warned him? The arrogant idiot. He thought he was untouchable. Mycroft's connections could only go so far and Sherlock had been a sizable thorn in the Order's side for years. John couldn't count the number of times he'd found him with a black eye. Templars did not like having their intelligence insulted. Especially by robes.

John would make him see. He would force him to understand. Did he think Meredith wouldn't do it? She had done it to hundreds of mages, none of them as defiant or brilliant as Sherlock. She just needed one more excuse. The unwelcome possibility came into his mind that perhaps she had already made up her mind, that perhaps when he took Sherlock back- He forced the thought away. No, he didn't have time to be defeatist. He had to focus.

John had been trained as a Templar Hunter before he came to Kirkwall. Now his duties mostly consisted of overseeing Harrowings and making sure apprentices didn't set themselves on fire during lessons, but once it had been to track down maleficarum. Those days seemed a long time ago now. But the skills stuck with him. You didn't forget the hatred many of the Hunters seemed to have towards their quarry, or the grim satisfaction they took in perfecting the art of stalking them down.

The docks were crowded and thick with the smell of tar, sea water and unwashed bodies. He was used to the sideways glances now, the way people hurried out of his way as he walked. Even the harbourmaster- mouthy bastard he was- scurried away when he saw him. John knew why. They all knew mages. They had mage parents, mage children, mage lovers. Some relied on information from mages to run their businesses, some had just had the misfortune to run across a mage being beaten or abused by overzealous recruits. And with the Champion's open support for Orsino, the common people had even less reason to like the Templars. Without the support of the Chantry and the nobles, the Order's position would be shaky. John sighed to himself.

Templars were as rare at the docks as they were unwelcome. Sometimes one or two might travel through on their way to the Gallows, but the docks operated in its own sphere of shady deals and barely concealed prostitution. It was not friendly to anything that looked like the Law. And John looked very much like the Law in his Templar's uniform. If he had been looking for any other mage, he would have shed his uniform a long time ago in favour of something less conspicuous.

Templars who were not trained as Hunters never seemed to quite grasp that their uniforms were as much a hindrance as they were a badge of duty. People shut up when they saw a uniform, anyone guilty of anything, from murder to buying stolen goods, scattered to the wind. Circle Templars also relied too heavily on phylacteries, not seeming to realise they could be destroyed or lost. Not that phylacteries didn't have their uses.

John put a hand to his neck and tugged out the chain from underneath his armour. The red vial was glowing gently, a soft pulse going through it every now and again. He didn't know why he even bothered taking the thing off. Sherlock ran away so often, John might as well sleep in it.

The thought sent a subtle shiver through him. The idea of having Sherlock's phylactery pressed against his heart as he slept-

He gave himself a shake.

"Focus, John," he said quietly to himself, looking around the filthy docks and the ragtag crowds that frequented them. Sailors, raiders, smugglers, traders, prostitutes, merchants, mercenaries, Qunari who had been stranded when their kin departed after the insurrection a few years back. They were being given almost as wide a berth as he was. Some had taken jobs at the docks- or wherever they could find work. Their break-backing strength was certainly not a turnoff to employers who needed raw labour. And they were eerily quiet workers.

John glanced at one as he weaved through the crowd. He gave John a brief look, though if he recognised his uniform he didn't react. He was in the midst of shifting huge boxes of what looked- and smelt- like raw fish. John had been told that the Qunari viewed the Templars as something like their Viddasala, those who found and contained magic. Though they were considerably more barbaric in their approach.

John passed a row of grubby-looking sailors waiting for their ship to come in, and turned into a small alcove. A few dockworkers milled about in the shade, but otherwise it was quiet. His eyes sought out a grate in the stone floor. It was one of many "hidden" entrances to the Undercity. Some were more hidden than others. Those regularly used by smugglers and the Coterie were less advisable to wander into than those used by desperate people just looking for somewhere to sleep.

Some of the dockworkers gave him a merely interested look, others were more narrow and suspicious in their evaluation. None of them tried to stop him when he wrenched the grate open. A heavily rusted metal ladder disappeared into total darkness below him. John hitched up the shield on his back and lowered himself carefully down the hole, closing the grate after him. The journey down was as enjoyable as it always was in full armour, with his shield slapping his back uncomfortably at every step and his sword sometimes catching painfully on the ladder rungs. The smell came later. He had almost forgotten what shit and rotting food smelt like. Not to mention the chokedamp that hung over the warrens like a sickly mist. Hard to believe some people lived down here.

The sunlight was now a round coin of white some fifty feet above him. He turned away from it, letting his eyes get used to the extraordinary gloom of the Undercity warrens. The first thing to meet his eyes was a roughly painted representation of the Kirkwall heraldry on the nearest wall. For a people who found so much to complain about, Kirkwall's citizens were probably some of the most fiercely patriotic John had ever met. Yet still perfectly aware that their city was, for the most part, a dirty, extraordinarily ugly eyesore.

There were a few beggars and unfortunates clustered along the hallways. They recoiled from him as he passed, most of them covering their faces. John averted his eyes and held up the phylactery by its chain. It would be his compass in this dismal place, as it always was. It throbbed brilliantly in the darkness. It was an oddly comforting, presence. John always regretted having to hand it back to the overseer of the phylactery storeroom. As much as Sherlock loathed the thing, and called it his leash, it still felt like a link to John, a bond even when they were miles apart.

The phylactery suddenly gave a much fiercer pulse in his hand, interrupting his train of thought. He looked around him. It seemed far too open for Sherlock. Before John had been made his permanent Hunter, he had particularly enjoyed leading his previous pursuers into the deepest, darkest, most labyrinthine parts of the Undercity, guided by something the Templars came to suspect was blood magic, a theory they had mercifully forgotten about when John had taken over. They really just wanted Holmes off their hands, with his snark comments and insufferable intellect, and whether it was by execution for blood magic or otherwise, John didn't think they cared.

John walked to the far wall, phylactery held up in front of his eyes. Its glow intensified. He couldn't be more than a dozen feet from him now. He smiled ruefully to himself, dropping the chain back down, where it clinked dully against his chestpiece. He had almost preferred it when Sherlock tried, when he'd led him on such a merry chase John had been wandering around the Undercity for hours, sometimes whole days. But Sherlock went easy on him now. He claimed he didn't, but it rarely took John longer than an hour to track him down. He stayed close to the docks, finding hidden chambers and alcoves that had been forgotten about by the Undercity's unfortunate residents.

Sherlock liked their game. But he liked what came after much more. John had to agree with him on that front.

He walked along the wall, running his hand against it. He was certain Sherlock was just beyond it. And as there was no doorway, it would suggest-

He stopped. His hand had grazed across something that felt significantly different in texture to the rest of the stone wall. He bent down, looking closely at what he had touched. It was obvious close up, though certainly not at first glance, that it was a trapdoor. In the gloom of the warrens it was easily missed, but he could now see where the handle was pressed into a small indentation in the wood.

He gripped his hand around it with some difficulty and managed to yank it open. He fell back on his heels as it flew open, a stale smell emanating from inside- though it was far less offensive than the smell that permeated the rest of the Undercity. The hole was small, but if Sherlock had gotten through it with his considerably longer legs- and in robes- John was sure he could manage it.

John quickly realised once inside that whatever advantage he gained over Sherlock from his height was negated by the fact he had to struggle through with his sword and shield. His shield hit the low ceiling of the passage with every laboured movement he made forward. Hanging from his neck, the phylactery glowed fiercely in the dark, almost blinding him with its intensity. If he had been seeking to recapture a mage in earnest, he could not have made his presence known in a more obvious way. He came to the end of the tunnel and had to all but throw himself out of it, falling three or so feet to the floor. He landed with a loud clatter on his feet, hand going instinctively to his sword, lest his hunch be incorrect and he find himself in a nest of disgruntled Coterie.

Instead he found an empty room. It was quite large, though completely empty except for a few long-forgotten crates, covered up with dusty drapes. It was dimly lit by a single torch. Even here someone had scrawled Kirkwall's heraldry on the wall. It had probably been someone's stash once. There was no shortage of forgotten places in Kirkwall's Undercity. It was probably the only reason they hadn't been discovered yet. And why mages in Kirkwall seemed to have a marginally greater chance of escape than their counterparts in other Circles, harsh as their living standards were in the Gallows.

"Sherlock?" His voice came out in a husky whisper, throat dry from the Undercity fumes. He absently tucked the phylactery inside his armour; it was still glowing insistently.

There was silence. Something in the air crackled. Someone had cast a spell in here recently. It made the hairs on his arm stand up. He cleared his throat.


"There's no need to shout."

John yelped in surprise and spun around, hand tightening on the hilt of his sword. He relaxed on seeing who it was. "Sherlock," he exhaled, hand dropping by his side. "I could have killed you."

Sherlock looked unmoved. "Doubtful. It would have taken you at least three seconds to react. I can cast a repelling spell in one point seven."

John gave a low laugh. "Twat." He looked around the room again, feeling for his shield and casting it onto the floor. "Charming location as always."

He turned to take in Sherlock's appearance. He was wearing his Circle robes unbuttoned from the waist down over a pair of faded trousers. There was a scratch along his cheekbone but he otherwise didn't look too worse for wear after his escape down the sewers.

"Would you prefer we take our chances in the Gallows?" Sherlock walked over to a torch on the wall, lighting it with a touch. John watched the fire rush from his fingers with a familiar feeling of mixed unease and fascination. Sherlock went to light another one, looking at him over his shoulder. "I'm sure Meredith would take it well that her pet Hunter is bedding-"

John bristled. "And would you prefer someone else was on your trail every week? Ser Karras? Alrik? You know what they like to do to the mages they get their hands on."

Sherlock snorted. "Those imbeciles? It'd take them days to find me. And then I doubt they'd even have the energy to-"

"Don't say it," John growled, taking a step towards him. Sherlock looked momentarily surprised- and then it was gone.

His eyes wandered away from John's face and he looked him up and down. He'd never admit it, but John thought he quite liked him in his uniform. He certainly took his time taking it off, fingers running over his chestpiece and pauldrons, expression intent. Sometimes his fingertips hummed with gentle electricity, something he increasingly couldn't control when he was excited. John smirked to himself and unstrapped his sword, dropping it next to his shield. He imagined the Knight-Commander's face if she saw a Templar willingly disarming himself in front of a mage- an apostate no less.

Sherlock wandered over to one of the large crates nearby, leaning against it with his arms folded. He watched John remove some of his armour. John could feel his eyes on him as he pulled off his glaives and hitched the skirt of his armour up to get rid of the concealed dagger he had at his thigh. He threw them with his other things, where they landed with a clatter.

"Perhaps if the Order had designed a less… ah, excessive uniform, you would have more luck running after mages," Sherlock remarked.

John fixed him with a look. "Are you going to help me or just stand there, mage?"

As he had known he would, Sherlock immediately advanced to help. John waited until he was an inch from him and then wrapped his hands around his wrists, pushing him against the wall. Sherlock let out a surprised breath, looking at him with slightly widened eyes.

"Sherlock," John growled. Sherlock gave an almost imperceptible shudder. "This has to stop."

Sherlock's hands travelled up the waist of his armour. His lips parted with a soft breath. "John-"

"Don't try and distract me, Sherlock," John snapped. "You have no idea what trouble you're in."

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at him, hands dropping back down. "You are such a Templar." There was a barb to his voice. "Not every mage is trying to fuck you so he can make a quick escape, Ser Watson."

John felt an uncomfortable twinge. "That's not what I meant." He gave himself a shake. "Now you really are trying to distract me."

Sherlock shrugged, a smirk playing on his mouth. "And they say there's no such thing as a clever Templar-"

"Meredith wants to make you Tranquil." John spat it out like poison.

Sherlock fell silent. His face was blank. John watched him, his grip sagging. He had expected… something. Rage, fear, tears. Even doubt. Sherlock was an expert at underestimating people. He didn't seem to even slightly grasp how dangerous Meredith was.

"Did you hear me?" John wanted to shake him.

Sherlock pulled himself out of his grasp and walked across to a crate. He stared at it in silence for a few moments and then pulled the dusty drape off it. He spread it out over the floor. "This will have to do," he said, finally looking at John.

He began to undo the buttons on his robe. John stared at him in disbelief.

"Is that all you have to say?" he said sharply. He advanced on him.

"What do you want me to say?" Sherlock retorted. "Why don't I just run deeper into the Undercity? Keep running until they send two, six, ten Templars after me? Hunters who'll say I'm a maleficar and kill me whether it's true or not?" He lapsed into silence, closing his eyes for a moment and then opening them again. He seemed calm again when he did. "I'm only surprised it took her so long." He laughed shortly. "I suppose Mycroft's passive-aggressive letters kept her at bay for a while."

Both of them were silent. John stared at the front of Sherlock's robes and then at his face. He licked his lips. "How did you get away this time?" It was not the question he had wanted to ask.

Sherlock's fingers moved back to the buttons on his robe. John gently pushed them away with a look at him and began tugging them open. Sherlock wasn't wearing a shirt underneath. His body was slender from years of refusing meals.

"Ser Barros has developed quite the reliance on lyrium," Sherlock said with disinterest, though his eyes were bright. "You can tell by how irritable he is by lunchtime. And that bloodshot weepiness around his eyes. Most of you don't need your second hit until the evening, but by midday he needs it."

John grunted, tugging off Sherlock's robe and dropping it to the floor. He ran his fingertips along a scar on Sherlock's collarbone. Sherlock tilted his head with a soft sigh. It was from the time he had made his escape by throwing himself inside a cart full of empty potion bottles bound for landfill outside the city. It worked well but he had been cut almost to smithereens by the time he'd clambered out in Lowtown. Gave the elf worker pulling it quite a fright too.

"He was supposed to be keeping an eye on me while I bathed. Apparently I can't be trusted to wash myself amongst everything else." His tone was haughty. "But he became somewhat distracted after I mentioned in passing the rather large shipment of lyrium I'd seen being delivered in the courtyard." He looked satisfied. "He swore he'd beat me to within an inch of my life if I moved of course, but why let a perfectly good hidden sewer entrance go to waste?" He rolled his eyes. "The Mage Underground," he said the word with no small amount of disdain, "thinks they have the monopoly on secret passages. But the Gallows has always been leaky, even when the Tevinters-"

John gripped his chin, pulling him down to look at him. "I'm very impressed," he said. "Now shut up and help me get out of this thing."

Sherlock looked away to hide his slight smile. Claim as he might that he did it purely to infuriate the Templars and alleviate his bouts of painful boredom, he got no small amounts of pleasure in describing his feats of strength to John: the only person he could tell it to without risking the entire Gallows being searched and sealed. Meredith was under the impression it was sealed now. That delusion could only be good for Kirkwall's mages.

John stepped back, holding out his arms. "I haven't got all day, mage."

Sherlock rolled his eyes but complied. In unison they managed to heave John's armour off, leaving him in his shirt and trousers. John dropped it heavily on the floor. The feel of air, stale as it was in the Undercity, was blissful. He felt the chain of Sherlock's phylactery fall against his chest. Sherlock's eyes snapped towards it. A frown passed across his face. He reached forward and idly touched it. It was radiating an emphatic, almost painful glow, as they always did when in such close proximity with their owners.

John awkwardly moved to take it off. Sherlock stopped him with a touch on his arm. "It's alright. Leave it on. I know you like to."

John spluttered. "Why would you think that?"

Sherlock didn't reply. He knelt down on the drape he had thrown across the floor and then laid slowly down on his back, silvery-blue eyes not leaving John's. The sight filled John with a swell of possessiveness. He crawled down on top of him, pushing Sherlock's hair back from his face and pressing a kiss to his mouth. He pushed a knee between Sherlock's thighs. Sherlock gasped as he pressed it up gently against him.

John leant back to look at him. Sherlock tilted his head back. The skin on his neck was white and delicate. "Mark me, Templar."

"Sherlock, no-"

Sherlock made an impatient sound. "Either you mark me or I'll mark you. I'm not fussy." When John didn't move, he looked at him, eyes almost, almost pleading. "John."

John bowed his head and then obeyed. He bit Sherlock's neck. Sherlock arched up against him. John sucked the lovebite he had made and then leant back again. "Happy?"

Sherlock have a half-shrug, half-grunt that John knew meant that he was, very much so. John undid the flimsy laces on Sherlock's trousers and pulled them slowly down, letting him feel the slow spread of air over his skin. Sherlock gasped at the sudden exposure, but didn't complain. John pulled his own trousers down more quickly. Sherlock wrapped a hand around his half-erect cock, giving a purposeful stroke. John rolled up with a soft moan. He could feel the heat in Sherlock's fingertips: that prickle that hinted at his magic, that only a Templar would notice.

Sherlock gave him a sly look. "Allow me."

He pushed John backwards, laid back and spread his legs. John had to bite his lip at the sight of him. Sherlock slid his fingers downwards, letting them travel teasingly over his thigh, and held them over his entrance. Slowly, drops of oozing liquid materialized from his fingertips, becoming a steady trickle within moments. Sherlock rubbed it between his fingers and then pushed two fingers inside of him. John let out a strangled sound. Sherlock closed his eyes, a cry escaping his mouth as he pushed them in further.

"Sh-Sherlock." John's voice was not steady. Sherlock opened one eye at him, smirking. "I can… ah, take over," John finished sheepishly.

Sherlock shrugged and held out his hand. John touched it, letting the liquid spread over his fingertips. It oozed between his fingers in a way that was almost sensuous. He touched Sherlock's thigh and then gently pushed inside of him. Sherlock inhaled sharply, laying back against the floor with a small jerk of his hips. He curled his fingers into the filthy floor. There was small, almost imperceptible crackle of energy from his fingertips.

John idly wondered what it would be like to be able to make love to him on a bed for once. But he could as easily wonder what it would be like to make love without the constant fear of discovery hanging over them. Every summons he got from Cullen was him about to confront him about his illicit affair, every knock on the door was a group of Templars finally come to imprison him for his heresy.

John finished preparing Sherlock. Sherlock made a sound of loss as he removed his fingers. John tore the trousers from Sherlock's ankles and threw them aside. He did the same to his own, leaving them vulnerably bare. In the most dangerous part of Kirkwall. Sometimes the realisation took his breath away.

He pulled Sherlock's legs over his thighs, letting his hands run down them. They were pale from being hidden under his robe all day. Here and there was a bruise, the dark purple striking against the white of his skin. Sherlock had a lot of bruises.

"Ready?" he breathed.

Sherlock jerked his head up, hands still curling into the floor. "Yes." His reply was quiet. If they hadn't been in the deathly silence of the warrens, he may not have heard it.

John entered Sherlock slowly, waiting for Sherlock's inevitable complaint. He huffed and writhed as John slowly, carefully, almost agonizingly filled him to the hilt.

"I'm not going to break, John." His irritable, taut interjection was right on cue. John ignored him. He gave a soft groan as Sherlock took him in fully, beautifully. Sherlock panted underneath him. "Did you hear me?" He sounded breathless and testy.

John fixed him with steeliest look he could manage while trying to catch his breath. "I'm not treating you like I'm some-"

"Templar?" Sherlock said through a gulp for air.

"Brute," John said forcefully. He pulled Sherlock's legs up tighter around him. Sherlock's hair was spread out almost like a halo around his head. A flush was spreading sinuously across his face and throat. He gave an impatient huff. There was a snap of energy from his fingertips. It left a singed mark on the floor.

"Move, John." Sherlock jerked his hips in frustration.

"Move, John, what?" John said breathlessly, pressing one hand into the ground and the other around Sherlock's thigh.

Sherlock scoffed. "Please, Ser Templar, would you fuck me," he said, failing to completely achieve a bored tone.

John managed a grin. "You just needed to ask, mage." He rocked his hips. Sherlock cried out. It echoed around the walls of the room.

Sherlock usually wanted him to go more roughly than he was willing to. Not just because they only had the cold, hard floor to work with, but also due to his constant fear that someone might notice. Templars rarely noticed- or cared- about marks of mistreatment on a mage, but if they happened to appear after John was sent out to find him-

"Ohh, John, deeper," Sherlock moaned wantonly, throwing his head back against the floor. His throat was beautifully exposed, untouched except for the mark John had left moments before.

John could feel the cold chain holding the phylactery against his skin. The vial hung loosely in the air, a strange, floating globe of red between them. Every so often it gave a desperate pulse. Almost as though it were reacting to their ministrations.

John obliged Sherlock as much as he dared, damp fingers slipping on Sherlock's thigh. Sherlock's cock throbbed for attention. Sherlock arched his back. John wrapped his hand around it, stroking it in unison with the rock of his hips. He cupped Sherlock's balls; they were tight, aching for release. Sherlock almost whined at the touch.

John felt him desperately grip his arm, fingertips clammy and humming with energy. It was almost too much.

"Sherlock," he moaned. "Oh Maker."

The sound of his name seemed to tip Sherlock over the edge. "John. John." He gave a strangled sob, clawing at the floor with one hand.

John thrust again and his own climax hit him. The phylactery was dancing on its chain around his neck. "Sherlock, oh Maker-"

Sherlock was tense around him as he spilt hotly inside of him. He rode his orgasm out in slowing, gentle rocks, feeling the ebb of pleasure in his stomach.

Sherlock's seed was smeared across his own stomach. John came to a stop, taking a breath like he was breaking the surface of water. Sherlock's arms were limp beside him now.

John pulled out, leaving a string of cum from the tip to Sherlock's flushed hole. Sherlock let his legs sprawl apart, his breathing still heavy. John crawled across the drape and fell down beside him on his back. For some minutes they lay there, panting, staring up at the high ceiling. The musty, disused smell had almost been banished by the smell of their lovemaking. It was an improvement, John thought.

Sherlock finally sat up, his arms shaking a little under his weight. He stared straight ahead. His back was red from being pressed into the floor. John reached up a hand and stroked a finger down it, fingers passing over bone, freckles and scars. Sherlock's phylactery was humming against John's skin.

"Taking the Maker's name in vain, Templar?" Sherlock said, his voice sounding even huskier than usual. "What would the Knight-Commander say?"

John sat up, pressing a kiss to Sherlock's shoulder. He leant his forehead against the elegant curve of his shoulder, staring down past damp, flushed skin to the stained material they were sitting on. The phylactery hung limply from his neck. It felt heavier now than it did before. It was cold against his skin. It was always cold.

Sherlock turned and leant out a hand, touching it. His fingers curled around the vial.

"Shatter it." John almost didn't believe the words had come from him. What he had said was heresy. Heresy of the highest order. A sin against the Maker. To purposely destroy a mage's phylactery was unforgivable.

Sherlock looked at him. "I could. And then what?" He spoke without emotion. "Even without it, they'd never stop hunting me. They'd go to my brother, interrogate him, demand he hand me over-"

John began to protest. "I'd protect-"

Sherlock spoke over him, his tone taking on a sharp edge. His eyes were heated. "They'd go to your family. They'd find the people you love. And then they'd hunt us." He closed his eyes. "And they would never stop."

They were silent. John put his hands in his lap, staring blankly ahead. A pulse of intense anger went through him. "So we just go back and let them make you Tranquil?" He couldn't stop the anger. It was there. It had spilt over. "No. Never. I won't allow it."

He got up roughly to his feet, snatching up his fallen clothes and pulling them on with violent intent. Sherlock watched him, not moving.

"You can't stop this," he snapped, expressing something other than impassive calm for the first time. It was almost a relief. "We knew this time would come-"

John whirled angrily towards him. "That you would have your mind severed? Everything you are wiped away? You'll be a shell-"

"Better a shell than this insufferable boredom," Sherlock retorted.

John stared at him, half-dressed and breathing heavily. "So what?" he said brusquely. "This was just a timewaster until they rendered you braindead?"

Sherlock exhaled slowly. He looked at him. "Perhaps at first." He laughed shortly, humourlessly. "Definitely at first. I had nothing to live for. The escapes felt like brief forays into reality. Into life. And then you-" He faltered away.

And then John had been sent to catch him. He'd been so eager to prove his mettle to the Knight-Commander. He'd heard stories of her iron fist, but also her prowess in battle, her unfaltering loyalty to the Order. John had been a Templar Hunter from Ferelden, determined to prove he could catch the serial escapee she described. Sherlock Holmes. Youngest son of a noble family. And perennial thorn in her side.

So he had gone, he had tracked well. He'd had Sherlock's phylactery to guide him. That had been the first time he'd held it. Cold, delicate glass on a strong chain. He'd worn it around his neck like a compass and let it lead him. His eye was good. He could see where a mage had stopped to use a spell to break through boards barricading a doorway, knew which denizens of the Undercity were lying when they claimed never to have seen the dark-haired mage and how to get the information out of them without threats, could sense the crackle of a freshly cast electricity spell used to light a dark corridor. Sherlock had, no doubt against his will, been impressed, when he'd found himself face to face with his pursuer after just a few hours. And what a face. John, against his better judgement and all of the vows he had ever taken as a Templar, was struck dumb by the mage. Such extraordinary eyes.

Sherlock had gone without a fuss back to the Gallows, as he always did. And within a few weeks, he had slipped away again. John had done such a clean job of it the first time that he was sent again. And again he found him. The game had silently and inexplicably began. Sherlock ran and John chased. He always found him, and soon he sensed that Sherlock was trying less strenuously in his hiding attempts. He had proven his wits; John had proven his determination. By the time they finally kissed, it had become quite obvious to the two of them that the affair had started a long time ago.

John knelt down and touched Sherlock's jaw. Sherlock looked at him uneasily. John leant forward and kissed him. It was as gentle and explorative as the first time they'd kissed. He slipped his fingers into Sherlock's hair. Sherlock sighed softly. "Irony would dictate that as soon as I had something I truly wanted to be in the right mind for, they would take my mind away," he mumbled against John's lips.

John broke away desperately. "I'll talk to Cullen. He's a good man. He'll-"

Sherlock shook his head and got to his feet. John watched him, feeling bereft. Sherlock gathered up his clothes, not looking at him. "We'd best hurry. We don't want to miss the last boat to the Gallows."

They left the room as they'd found it. The drape they'd made love on was thrown back over the forgotten cargo. They crawled back out of the tunnel and sealed it up. John felt strangely like they may be the last people to ever set eyes on it.

The sun was low in the sky as they clambered out, blinking and dazed, into the Kirkwall sunshine. There were less people about now, but those who remained still skirted around them like they had the plague. Sherlock seemed not to notice any of them. John couldn't stop touching the phylactery around his neck. He hadn't tucked it back in his armour.

John wanted to say something on the boat. The words kept rising up in his throat and then disappearing, like water he was trying to hold in his hands. Both of them stared ahead, over the dark, churning waters of Kirkwall's harbour. The Gallows was welcoming them home like a cruel spouse, a dark monument towering over them. John didn't want to look at it.

They were close to the Gallows dock when he felt a cold finger caress his hand. He jerked in his seat and turned his head slightly. Sherlock didn't look at him but hooked his finger around his in an insistent way. John opened his hand, palm upwards, letting Sherlock thread his longer fingers through his. Maybe he hadn't needed the words.

The boat docked and they reluctantly let go of each other's hand as soon as they were within eyeshot of the Gallows. The courtyard was deserted. There was a roar like a distant fire coming from somewhere inside the Gallows.

Sherlock stopped walking. John stopped to look at him. "What's wrong?"

Sherlock shook his head slowly. "I don't know." John thought it might be the first time he'd ever heard him sound uncertain.

They walked a few more steps and were suddenly confronted by a flushed, panting Templar recruit who seemed to have been running at full speed from the Templar Hall. He doubled over in front of them, catching his breath.

John started back. "What in the Maker's name-"

"The Knight-Commander!" the recruit burst out. "The First Enchanter! You should have seen it!"

Sherlock and John looked at each other. "What are you talking about?" John said.

"They were at each other's throats!" The recruit sounded quite in awe. "I thought they were going to attack each other. The Champion-"

"The Champion?" Sherlock said sharply. "Why would Meredith-"

"Orsino sent her here," the recruit said, peering curiously at Sherlock. "She's going to be here any moment. I have to wait for her and send her straight to the Chantry. They've both made a run for the Grand Cleric." He shook his head with a look that suggested that this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to him since arriving at the Gallows. "I have to hurry."

He hurried past them and towards the docks. Sherlock and John stared after him. John had a strange, taut feeling in his stomach.

"Let's… ah, just go in and wait to see what happens," he said. "The Champion will calm things down."

"Or make things worse," Sherlock muttered.

They walked together across the courtyard towards the Templar Hall. Over the harbour, day bled into gloaming.