The sharp tang of shame sits on his tongue; a bitter lemon peel chewed and bandied about in his mouth until his stomach heaves in rebellion. He forces his eyes closed and rubs at them repeatedly until they are raw and irritated. The images still come in vivid, lurid detail driving him to press his palms against the lids until the pain is unbearable. When he finally opens his eyes again, the world is an inky blur for a moment, and then slowly comes into focus.

He's unable to tear his gaze away from the elf – as if an unseen hand turns his head. Admiration of the rogue's skills - he tells himself, that's the reason for the fascination. But 'skill' doesn't explain the twisting, sickening churning in his belly when he watches the warden slip into Morrigan's tent. And 'skill' doesn't justify the images of his own naked body covering the other man's.

Alistair ran his hands through his hair and gripped the tendrils tightly, squeezing. The rough crescendo of bodies and breaths intertwined clawed in his ears.

Abruptly he tore out of the camp, grateful his departure goes unnoticed in the dark of midnight.

He's a bolt released from the tensile strings of a crossbow - flying through the brambled, forest earth until the sweat soaks through his linen shirt and his heart threatens to stop beating. The branches of various trees thrash against his chest, twisting into his clothing, tearing it and his flesh open. He reaches the edge of a clearing skirting the edges of Lake Calenhad. Although he hasn't run far from the camp, his pace has been frantic. He bends in half, hands on his knees, forceful breaths expelling from his lungs in heaves and coughs.

It's minutes before his breathing returns to normal. He leans against a tree, staring out at the lake willing his thoughts to dwell on the moon, the stars on anything but him. It's an effort in futility – with a ragged sigh he opens his mind and allows the tide of fantasy to crash over him.

He leans his head back against the tree, sharp edges of bark pushing into his skull. He increases the pressure, grateful for the punishment to his scalp. The thumb of his right hand pulls at the edge of his leather trousers, teasing the top open. His free hand slips into his pants and over the velvet soft sheath surrounding the already hardening flesh. A low moan escapes his lips, echoing in his ears. This far from camp he's no fear of being overheard.

"I gather you're not out here for a swim then, Alistair?" Theron Mahariel asks with a teasing smirk - his grey eyes dancing with mirth.

Alistair rips his hands away from his trousers and blushes fiercely. He stands there trying to think of a joke or excuse, anything to dampen the embarrassment. His mind loses its tentative grasp of coherency as he stares at the half-dressed rogue.

Theron's linen trousers hang low on his hips, dragging Alistair's eyes to them, despite the warnings in his head against doing so. The auburn hair sprinkling on the golden skin of his flat, muscular stomach draw Alistair's tongue out to his lips at the same time his heart skips a beat. His eyes are riveted there with an intense longing – one which he cannot control.

He didn't mean to fall in love with this elf - a man. Isn't sure how it's even possible. No, I'm not a complete idiot; he thinks with a frustrated, inner laugh, he knew men were together, in that way - but love? Perhaps the months on the road with someone, anyone, were enough to drive loneliness into one's heart with sufficient force to open it, allowing any person access. But then again, Theron isn't just anyone.

Theron is a gust of forceful wind which swept into his life more than a year ago and pulled him along like a recalcitrant child. The Dalish elf tolerated little disobedience from anyone, least of all Alistair; nevertheless he listened to everyone's advice with an open mind. He is hard as stone most of the time, and yet almost tender and understanding at other moments. Months ago, he had no qualms about disposing of Isolde, despite Alistair's protests. And when Alistair had called him on it, Theron had only said "She deserved nothing less than death for what allowed happen to the people of Redcliffe… and for what she did to you." The last words had been said quietly, but with eyes as cold as winter. Alistair had shivered, but not from cold or fear.

Today, though…today, was the inevitable fall. A day for the quashing of dreams and for the death of hope. Today he had met his sister.

A shrew of a woman, Goldanna had even drawn Theron's ire. But Alistair had laid a simple hand on his shoulder, motioning for them to go outside.

Theron had looked ready to spit nails, and Alistair wanted to crawl under a rock and pull it back over his head. He'd stood there, outside his sister's house, feeling sorry for himself and more alone than ever. As Alistair threw his own pity party in the middle of Denerim, instead of berating him, Theron had simply said "You don't need her; you have others that care about you. I care about you". And as simple as that, Alistair was in love.

And now, as he stares at the elf, disheveled from the passionate embrace of that harpy, Morrigan, Alistair feels even more despair slowing the blood in his veins and halting the beat of his heart.

"I didn't mean to interrupt, Alistair. I'm sorry if I embarrassed you." But Theron doesn't look embarrassed, he looks…satisfied and altogether sexy.

Discomfiture and frustration clog Alistar's throat. He simply nods in response and catches his breath as the rogue pulls his hair down from the ponytail and rounds his shoulders causing the muscles to flex and pop. His mouth waters.

He longs to run his fingers down the twists and turns of the Dalish tattoos. They snake down the rogue's neck and wind their way around his shoulders. His eyes follow the wicked curves of black ink and he subconsciously bites his lip.

He is impossibly hard now, straining at his trouser fronts. At that moment the inconvenient moon washes over his face revealing the direction of his gaze along with the response his body is making to Theron's. The rogue raises an eyebrow. Alistair turns his face away, mortified.

"Look… I…" Maker, what could he say? It's not as if he's forced himself on the man. And, he thought, trying to muster up dignity and indignation, I was the one that was interrupted. But even his attempt at righteous anger fails. "I can leave if you want, Theron. It's probably too…"His words died on a single touch of hands-to-hips.

He blinks and whips his head around to see Theron inches away, smiling. The rogue is grinning up at him...well…roguishly. Alistair squeezes his eyes shut and reopens them, shaking his head. "You…but…Morrigan?" His heart jumps to a start from its exiled beat, and now pounds against his chest like a thousand soldiers marching to their death. Hope plants a firm grip in his belly and closes its fist.

"Morrigan?" the rogue laughed. "Morrigan is simply relief from frustration. We make no claim on one another."

And me? Would I have any claim? He keeps silent, never voicing the desperate question.

"Had I known the source of my frustration was so eager, I would have sought other relief."

Simple words again, but they send Alistair into a spiral of confusion and need. He looks down into Theron's eyes and in a move that shocks them both, pushes his fingers into the elf's hair and brings his lips down hard onto the other man's.

Alistair is surprised when Theron's fists clench at his hips and his mouth opens invitingly. He groans as his tongue is encouraged into the warm, beckoning mouth. It dances in rhythm to hips which thrust against the elf's stomach.

The rogue's taste is intoxicating, and he breathes it, licks it, and draws it into his mouth. The world spins in dizzying circles as he feels Theron's hands pulling at the top of his leathers and unraveling the cords holding them together. He gasps as he's freed from their confines and enveloped in the other man's hand. He wants to continue the kiss but his mind can only focus on the rough grip, grasping him in long, hard strokes. He tries to kiss along the elf's jaw, feeling the strong, coarse stubble on his tongue, but Theron's hand squeezes his shaft causing Alistair to cry out and bury his head in the other man's shoulder.

He should do something, somehow… but lucid thought is lost on him. All he knows is the fist of need clenching and unclenching in his belly – and it's contracting stronger and faster. His breath is a series of hitched and shallow gasps which intensify with each inhale of Theron's sweat and leather-scented skin. His hands dig into the elf's shoulders and he cries out his name softly between expulsions of air. "Theron, Theron."

Inside his belly the fist has stopped contracting and only squeezes, impossibly tighter. It begins a slow twist and Alistair stills with a single thrust into the stroking hands. The fist suddenly bursts open releasing a bevy of sparks into every nerve of his body. He arches his back, head bent back against the tree and pulses his life onto Theron's stomach and chest.

It's deathly quiet as his feet find solid ground and the earth ceases spinning. His breaths are still heavy with sated lust and his smile is spectacularly serene. He looks into his lover's eyes with wonder and open adoration. His look is rewarded with a soft brush of chapped lips against his and the whisper of a promise.

"You're mine, Alistair."