Title: Nothing But A Tin Man
Chapter: I
Author: Trillian N7
Summary: Brosca had the chance to escape the casteless life, but the guilt at leaving those she cared about behind still haunts her. What happens when she is forced to face those she cared about?
Fandom: Dragon Age: Origins
Pairing: Fem!Brosca/Leske
Spoilers: Game spoilers.
Rating: Mature
Disclaimer: Dragon Age: Origins is not mine. Bioware and EA have that privilege.

- queen of pain -

In the silence there was always guilt, this much she knew. All she ever had in life was pain, and she had escaped it.

But at what cost?

'I'll get you out of here. Rica too, and mother too if she'll come.' She stood close to her friend, trying to brave the goodbyes while Duncan waited impatiently to one side.

'Don't make promises you can't keep, Warden.'

'Just stay alive, Leske.' Her voice shook a little, before she brought it under control again. She couldn't let him see that.

Yet despite all this time, she still hadn't returned home. The guilt of abandoning her family and friend to escape the city was still too fresh in her mind.

Rica was probably alright. She had confided in her sister she had a patron. That would protect her from the carta's wrath. And Leske always made it through, he was a survivor.

And what would she do if she returned. Rush into the city and rescue everyone?

She wasn't that hero.

The gauntlet at Haven had shocked her. As much as she wanted to believe the shade was Leske, she knew in her heart it wasn't true. It was simply magic that plucked her strongest thoughts from her mind and taunted her with forgiving words from the mouth of someone who should hate her.

She deserved his hate.

'Take care, Brosca.'

With a surprisingly odd gesture of emotion, Leske quickly hugged his friend before turning away to enter Dust Town. Suddenly he turned, pulling a dagger from his vest and tossed it towards Mac. She caught it with ease as she watched her best friend walk away.

'Remember, duster. Always have a spare.' With that he quickly disappeared into the shadows.

'Bye, Leske,' she whispered before turning to follow Duncan out of the world she knew.

She pulled the dagger from her boot. She always kept it on her, despite a preference for her battleaxe. Leske had always teased her about that choice in weapon, accusing her of trying to be something she wasn't. A duster's weapon was the dagger. Small, concealable and cheap. But even still, it had saved her ass in battle more than a few times.

She ran her finger along the sharp blade, accidentally nicking her finger. She watched in fascination as the blood dripped onto the soil, caught up in her own thoughts.

'You alright?' She turned and saw Alistair standing behind her. His face was concerned as he sat beside her.

That was the other reason she didn't want to go back, Alistair just made things complicated. The dark hours in Beracht's cells had led her to say some things to Leske that maybe she shouldn't have, secrets she had kept for years. She would have to deal with that, but it would always change things with Leske.

But then there was Alistair. When her whole world was changed he had been there supporting her, helping her to adjust to the strange world of the surface. And Alistair cared for her, this much he had told her and she had only pushed him away. There were too many things from her past that were unresolved, Alistair would never understand.

'Don't you think it is time to recruit the dwarves?' Alistair asked gently, interrupting her thoughts. 'You have to go home at eventually.'

- king of cowards -

'It seems the topsiders are facing a blight, there was a huge battle down at Ostagar where they faced off the darkspawn alone'.

The merchant's eyes glinted as he relayed this gossip to whatever customer would listen.

'The Grey Wardens all dead as well. Killed the king too would you have it.'

'Good,' murmured his client. 'The more darkspawn up there, the less there is down here for us to worry about.'

Unknown, and perhaps uncaring to the face, there was another listener nearby. Hidden in the shadows the figure fled upon hearing the news, knowing the implications it had for his friend.

He ran through Dust Town, oblivious to the attention it brought, seeking that house among the slums. He would have to tell her family. They needed to know.

He hadn't seen this street for months, avoiding the prominent areas of the carta and calling in favours across Orzammar to stay hidden. Jarvia still wanted their blood and he was the only one the carta could still get.

A dead man walking.

The door was locked, this was not going to stop him, but he was shocked at the emptiness of the house as he pushed open the door. The dust had settled over the furniture and everything was still in place. He had forgotten that Rica was gone as well.

He stood to the side, unsure at the turn of events. She stood close to Rica, not willing to take a chance to escape for fear of her sister's safety. Listening closely, he could make out the quiet conversation between the women.

'I think - for the first time - Mother and I will be fine,' Rica whispered. 'My new patron seems to like me and he is moving us uptown so I am easier to find.'

'You would be happy like this?' Rica nodded and pulled her little sister into a tight hug. She pulled away from Rica, turning to face him.

'So, this is it?'

She was a Grey Warden. Now, if the stories were true, she was dead.

He sat on the bed in the back room, thinking, wondering, hoping.

What if things had been different? Without the Grey Wardens they could have made a break for the surface together. Found a life away from the carta. But instead she was taken away as a conscript, by an idiotic tradition that somehow the dwarven king allowed.

Ironic, the casteless didn't exist in Orzammar. Until they could be gotten rid of using a treaty with the humans, agreed to by a king that didn't even acknowledge their existence.

A glint of silver caught his eye in the corner. He reached for it, finding a leather bracelet with a small charm it. It was only a rough, melted shape, vaguely resembling a bird from the surface. He remembered see it before, she said it was a gift from her father before he abandoned them. Forgotten, most likely, on the day that dragged her away from this life.

He twisted the leather through his fingers and, without really thinking, pocketed the charm.

A keepsake for a lost friend.

'Leske, it isn't working,' she complained, the pile of broken lock picks growing around where she sat on the floor.

He sighed, crouching down next to her. She was a good partner, always ready to fight and intimidating her way out of situations. But she was a hopeless thief. In a way, he was glad Beracht had thrown them together. They made a good team.

'You have to be gentle, girl. Let me show you.'

He placed his hands over hers, gently twisting them. With a soft click the lock popped open.

'See salroka, pay attention to the little details. It will always work.'

Footsteps interrupted his thoughts, he had blown it. Months of careful hiding and he had risked it all. He reached for his sword and crept towards the kitchen. He pushed open the door, finding himself face to face with Jarvia.

'Hello Leske. I have an offer to make you.'