A/N: I've always liked the Hawke/Arishok pairing, and seeing the hint of it in one of my other stories, how could I not follow up on it?
Hearing that Hawke is injured, the Arishok moves her to the dockside compound for her recovery. It goes over about as well as you'd expect until they take the time to understand one another and are pleasantly surprised by what they find. It will, however, take a lot of effort on both their parts to keep any semblance of... whatever it is they have together.
This is so fun to write. Oh, man. So very fun.
Chapters: Ongoing, but there is a set endpoint!
Beta Love: My angel is analect. Seriously. I think I might owe her my firstborn or something.
Dragon Age belongs to Bioware. Not me. At all.
If Mairead Hawke never had to hear the Chant of Light again, it would be too soon.
Sebastian had carried her back from the coast, whispering verses all the while. She had only been vaguely conscious of tanned arms, white armor, and Andraste's face hitting her in the ass as they doubletimed it back to the city... which was no small feat with an injured person.
Especially one as uncooperative as Hawke.
They'd made it back in record time, soaking wet from a sudden downpour and the inability to stop, even for shelter. And though filthy, at least the Hanged Man was dry.
And had Anders in it.
Powerful as Merrill was, she was no healer. The most she'd been able to do out on the cliffs was put Hawke under with a sleep spell so she'd one, stop fussing, and two, not have to feel the dig of the arrowhead as it pressed itself against the chambers of her heart with each breath. It had made her more compliant, sure, but it did nothing to stop the blood or take the broken metal any farther from her vital organs.
Hawke stirred and felt herself coming out of it as she was carefully laid on Varric's bed, sitting upright against the headboard. "Sebastian?" she murmured.
He was instantly at eye level, a hand on her arm. "Yes, my friend. Anything."
She cracked one eye open to glare at him. "When someone is injured," she said slowly, "talking about how everyone has a place at the Maker's side isn't very positive."
He chuckled, his warm accent seeming to emanate from the depths of his chest. "I'll mind that, then." He wadded up a few blankets and eased them behind her back. "Merrill and Isabela are fetching Anders as we speak. And Varric, though I doubt he'll argue against the use of his suite."
"I'm in this bed a lot."
The archer raised one eyebrow, but kept his mouth shut. He'd spent enough time with her to know when she was baiting him, and sure enough, a weak smile crept onto her face. He's learned well, Hawke thought. Instead, he did his best to pull her sopping wet red hair away from her face, hoping to keep her as dry as possible.
The door flinging open drew his attention, and he stood. In ran his friends, the healer and the dwarf in tow. The string of simultaneous curses they each let out would have been comical if the situation weren't so dangerous.
Anders reached in with fast hands, nimbly unhooking the fastenings on her leather chestpiece. He tossed it aside and gingerly peeled back the linen tunic stuck to her torn skin. Though it hurt, Hawke craned her neck to see the damage: a small but undeniably ragged hole in her chest, slowly and rhythmically pumping out bright red fluids.
Varric swallowed, pulling over an end table. "See, Hawke? Not so bad. Hole could've been a lot bigger."
"Actually," Anders said with a sympathetic grimace, "a bigger hole would've been better. I might have to widen it in order to get the arrowhead back out."
"It's the truth. No use sugar-coating it."
The group started arguing about the next step to take, and Hawke closed her eyes and let her head fall back, her skull hitting the carved wood with a dull thud. Her vision started swimming if she tried to focus too hard on something for more than a few seconds, and the noise and voices were foggy in her ears, but she could make out a few choice words from the room.
Her companions quieted, and Sebastian leaned over. "What was that, Hawke?"
She tried to straighten up, and two pairs of hands were holding her flat down in an instant. "Bring Fenris here."
Hawke gave a tired half-grin, but managed it all the same. "Because he's not nearly as noisy as all of you. Send him over. And..." She took a deep breath, feeling a sharp pressure nearly everywhere in her chest, "If your name's not Anders, get lost for a while. I'm feeling a little too loved here."
All of a sudden, she felt a kind of warm blanket drape over her mind, and she didn't have the energy to fight it. She surrendered to the darkness calling to her, and blissfully slipped away into unconsciousness with only the shuffling of feet and muffled voices in the background.
When she awoke, it was to the feeling of something cool and wet being held against the angry skin of her wound. She opened her mouth to complain, but the medicinal smell hit her like a ton of bricks, and her stomach churned before she could speak. Instead, she only groaned and swatted at the offending person lazily.
A tattooed hand caught her wrist, placing it firmly back at her side. "Welcome back, Hawke." The elf's gravelly voice echoed in her ears, and she slowly opened her eyes to a fuzzy blob of telltale white hair and the general shape of someone by her bedside.
She sighed a little, waiting for her vision to adjust. "I'm going to strangle Merrill if she knocks me out without asking first ever again."
"And normally I might agree," he said, adjusting in his seat, "but that will have to wait, seeing as she is no longer here."
Hawke blinked a few times and looked around. Sure enough, the only occupants of the room were herself, Fenris, and Anders, who held the compress against her chest.
"Besides," Anders said, pulling the cloth away only to freshen it up and put it back again, "she told us in detail what you did the first time Sebastian tried to carry you."
Hawke snorted. "He brought it upon himself. No one with a vow of chastity should reach for a woman's ass that quickly."
The mage fought down a smirk. "He was trying to scoop you up."
"That's his side of the story. My delicate lady backside knows otherwise."
"That may be so," he interrupted, "but we have other things to worry about right now. Like the arrowhead lodged in your heart."
"It's not in my heart," she corrected him, breath hitching, "just near it."
Fenris' brow crinkled, and he frowned so deeply that only years of practice could make it look so disapproving. "Were you even wearing armor?"
She nodded toward the corner that the ruined leather had been tossed into. "Just bad luck."
"I do not understand what I am doing here."
She stopped to process the sudden change of subject, but didn't miss a beat. "I'm calling everyone in here one by one to say my goodbyes," she said gravely, "and I thought I'd start with you."
Anders froze in his work and Fenris paled, reaching for her. "Hawke -"
She weakly batted his hand away, snickering faintly. "Just kidding. I actually need your help."
Fenris leaned back, arms crossed over his chest, and Anders might have been a little rougher with the next compress than was necessary.
"That wasn't funny," the healer said, glaring.
For once, Fenris agreed with him. "I will never understand your particular brand of humor."
"You know you love it." She coughed as the smell of herbs burned her throat, and the tightening of her lungs sent shockwaves of pain throughout her torso, like there were dozens of broken arrowheads stabbing into anything and everything they touched. The pain was incredible, and for the first time she could remember in a long while, Hawke let out a stifled scream.
Fenris leapt from the chair to her bed, holding her back against the headboard while Anders pressed glowing hands against her sternum in an attempt to calm the convulsions the coughs had triggered.
"You said you needed my help, Hawke." He kept eye contact, his face inches from hers, until her breathing slowed, and Hawke wondered how any living person could be that intense. "Tell me what you need."
"You're not going to like it."
"I am quite used to that, following you around."
"Fair enough." She winced as Anders pulled those lovely, magical, numbing hands away. "All right, Fenris. I need you to reach into my chest and pull the arrowhead out."
He was silent then, visibly uncomfortable. "What?"
"Your abilities. If you can wrap whole hands around people's internal organs, you can use a few fingers to grab a two-inch piece of metal, right? There's already an entry path, so just..." she mimed the action with one shaky hand. "Just yank it out."
Anders looked at his face, then back to her wound. "Is that really such a good idea?"
"I also must question your methods." The elf reflexively clenched his fist a few times. "I... have never had to do anything like this before."
"Well, what choice do I have?" She flinched from the effort it took to yell, and was steadily held down by someone's hand on her legs. She looked to Anders for confirmation of her estimate on how bad the situation was. "We probably can't wait much longer."
"We'd have longer if you'd stop fighting," he snapped.
"Then I'll keep fighting until you do what I say! Just try testing me on this one."
He shook his head. "That stubbornness is going to get you killed."
"I'm not in the mood to argue." She took the poultice from him, holding it over the wound and enjoying how the cool rivulets of medicine felt running down her heated skin. She looked up into the bright green eyes to her left. "And I trust you. I've seen what you can do, and you're incredible."
Fenris looked away, adjusting his shoulders. "I fear that your faith in me is misplaced."
"It isn't. And I need you now more than ever." She turned to the mage. "And you." She forced a smile, trying not to grimace. "You can lecture me all you want later, all right? I promise."
The corners of his mouth turned upward, and he raised an eyebrow. "I'll hold you to that, you know."
"I know." She straightened up as best she could. "So let's pull this thing out before it kills me."
"Right." Anders laid out a roll of bandages and rubbed his palms together, a green light emanating from the space between his fingers. "Ready when you are, elf."
Hawke could see Fenris prickle at Anders' use of the epithet, and it took sheer force of will not to yell at them both to put it aside and keep her from dying. They could bicker as much as they wanted when she no longer had shrapnel threatening to shred her most important bits.
To his credit, Fenris let it slide and turned his attention back to his wounded comrade. He looked her up and down, trying to assess the best way to go about pulling something out of someone's body. It took a moment, but he finally put one knee on the bed next to her, one arm above her against the wall to brace himself. His free hand gently pulled the compress from over the wound and took its place, palm flat against her torn skin.
"You... may want to hold on to something," he offered.
She wrapped her fists in the blankets surrounding her and exhaled slowly as he placed his other knee against her sternum to hold her against the wall. The pressure was a comfort, and she opened her eyes a little for one last crack.
"I never thought you'd be half-straddling me while you felt me up."
His mouth twitched into one of his rare smiles, and he leaned in closer. "If you cease stalling and allow me to do this, I will even sit on your lap and serve you drinks."
She snickered. "Now I'm going to be very upset if I die."
"As will we, I imagine." His expression sobered again, and he gave Anders a glance. The blond man nodded, and Fenris nodded back. "Brace yourself, Hawke."
And with that, Mairead closed her eyes. "Go ahead."
She could see blue light through the veil of her eyelids, and felt a warm pulse where his hand rested against her skin. It was almost pleasant, feeling the adrenaline that came from the lyrium rushing through her veins. And then she felt him slip through her skin, through her ribs, and felt a dull, throbbing pressure and a tightness in her chest she wasn't sure she'd ever be able to describe in words. There was something there, brushing against her lungs and her bones and what struck her most wasn't how unnatural it was, but the intimacy of it all. It was, in part, like having two heartbeats, and it took all the willpower she had not to buck against him and panic at the intrusion.
And then, for a brief moment, the two heartbeats she felt were synchronized perfectly, and her urge to thrash and pull away all but dissolved. She could feel the touch of ghostly fingertips on her heart, and the expanding and contracting rhythm lagged in response. He was slowing down her heart, she realized, and she did her best to marvel at his abilities rather than think about the many ways this could go wrong.
She felt a stab of cold searing through her, and instantly knew that he'd found the arrowhead. The first tug was painful enough, but when he pulled more insistently a second time, the tearing was nearly unbearable. She wasn't fully aware of what her body was doing, but she felt waves of pain radiating up from her hands. He gripped the metal shard a third time, and just when she was about to push him away and rip it out herself, her entire chest seized up and a flash of unplaceable agony ran through it.
And she found herself able to breathe.
She gasped for air, only vaguely aware of the fuss going on around her and the clank of metal hitting metal ringing in her ears. Her hands, clenched around Fenris' arms, gradually relaxed and she managed what she hoped was an apology as she loosened her grip. Someone was wrapping bandages around her chest, someone was checking her pulse and somewhat awkwardly stroking her hair, and energy crackled through her flesh as green spiderwebs traced themselves over her skin. It was all too much to focus on one thing.
As her body calmed down and the magic ran its course, Hawke moved one hand up to tentatively pluck at her bandages. "Hey," she called weakly to no one in particular, "am I all patched up?"
"Clear as the night sky," Anders answered, and she could hear the relief in his voice. "I'm surprised you're still conscious after that."
She waved him off clumsily. "It wasn't so bad."
"No?" She heard wood creak, and she knew that Fenris had settled back in his chair. "My arms hold evidence to the contrary."
"Sorry about that."
"It was understandable." He tilted his head, studying her as she struggled to move. "Though I must confess myself curious as to... what it was like for you. You are the first person to survive long enough to talk, you see."
She smiled, snuggling back into the wall of pillows. "I'll tell you sometime when I'm back to full strength. Over a pint."
"As you wish."
"That you buy me. And serve me while sitting prettily on my lap."
She could hear the amusement in his words over the scrape of armor. "And here I had hoped you might have forgotten that."
"Plan on backing out?"
She chuckled, and Anders piped up in feigned indignation. "What about me? Do I get a pint for that?"
"Anders," Hawke said, "I'll buy you your own bloody keg." She rolled over, stifling a grin. "And Fenris can sit on your lap, too."
An awkward silence hung in the air, and she could only imagine the look that Fenris was giving him.
The mage cleared his throat.
"I'll pass, thanks."