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And yes, I know I'm totally "flooding" the DAO gates at the moment, but I'm totally behind in updating...oh well. Hopefully reviews and views will still come in? :hopeful:

Title: Dream a Little Dream of Me
Author: Rhion & Briala (sorry I had a brainfart! :corrects mistake:)
Rating: AO
Summary: Do me a favour - the next time I dream this, could you just hit me over the head until it gets through to me?
AN: For briala for a nice little Festivus thing. Random character mumbling by Ferox lead to this hypothetical thing that could have happened during the Blight. That has apparently spawned a story. More than thirty thousand in. Blarg. Why no, I don't have other things to do with my time... Moderately beta'd, but there's certainly going to be things that slipped through the cracks. :evil grin: Hello punnage, how are you?
Contains: Dubcon, digital-anal, oral, slash
Pairing: M!Cousland/Zevran.


The snow was falling in earnest and they weren't particularly well protected, but the camp was fine anyway, of which Ferox made doubly sure during the many times he couldn't sleep. The bonfire was larger than usual, and everyone had appropriate gear. But that didn't explain why there was a body in his bedroll, doubled into a tight ball with Horse whining, head on the form. Ferox only knew it was the elf because of the blanket atop Ferox's was green and mottled for camouflage and no one else's was like that.

Throat caught on a growl at the intrusion, Ferox entered fully and tied the tent flap closed. The fact that the assassin barely twitched made him growl more - it meant nothing good. Tugging off a glove, he pushed a hand beneath the blankets to find Zevran's face, and it was cool. Cursing he stripped away his own outer garments, piling them atop the supine form before crawling beneath the great weight in leggings and shirtsleeves. What had to be every scrap of clothing Zevran owned was bundled around him and still did nothing - obviously bundling up didn't help much if someone didn't produce much body heat in the first place.

Another check proved that yes, the Crow was still breathing. Prying at the layers of clothes, trying to work some of the warming air coming from he and Horse to where it was needed Ferox angrily wondered why nothing had been said. While layering was good, the shirts he touched were extremely thin, nearly what he would consider summer-weight, unfit for Ferelden autumns and certainly unwise for winter.

Teeth chattered and a grunt, the elf went stiff, assessing eyes finding his, everything clearly sluggish, "Meldicion.A moment and I will be out of your way."

"No," snapping at him, Ferox continued peeling layers off and then arranging them beneath and above the assassin to try and insulate while providing the necessary heat. "Stay still."

Horse burrowed beneath the pile, sandwiching Zevran between them as the Crow began to shake in earnest, for once quiet. Even the brief chattering of teeth had stopped almost as soon as it started. Still it was a good sign that the assassin's temperature was steadily rising. In the night, drifting off to sleep, Ferox hoped that his end would be quick, the assassin's work finally finished.

Coming in from watch, Ferox found the elf in his pallet once more, Horse an even larger mound beside him. A few licks and the Crow awoke with a groan and curse, along with an accusation that the mabari hadn't awoken him until afterFerox was in the tent. Growling but resigned - until they found a town to buy better supplies, or bandits to kill and gather up their supplies - Zevran couldn't be allowed to remain alone, else he might not wake up ever again.

Checking and putting away the unneeded gear, piling anything possible atop the bedroll even as the assassin was trying to clamber free, Ferox snarled at him, "Lay back down."

"Why, Warden, you only have but to ask," it was sarcastic even as he did as told.

Even as wolves, bears, but mostly wolves, were skinned and their pelts left unsold so they could be layered for warmth, Zevran still wound up in Ferox's tent nightly. He kept to himself in the night beyond pressing his back against Ferox's side, arms looped around Horse's neck, face in the massive shoulder. And each day, Ferox awoke, vaguely disappointed that his eyes opened at all. If the assassin's plan was to lull him into a sense of safety, it wasn't necessary. Watches and hunting and chores were still done the same, in fact Ferox doubted anyone noticed Zevran's comings and goings - before the camp was awake, the elf would be gone.

Non-vital injuries were tended alone, or had been, but that was no longer the case. Zevran would crack a lid to see what Ferox was doing after entering the tent, sit up and set to work. No words were exchanged, the poke of needle deft and fast, or the wipe and pack of wounds surprisingly painless, all done without fuss. But that didn't make things easier, or make Ferox long for being out of the mountains and for enough gear for the damnable elf to require the services of someone with a bit of body-heat to spare.

Zevran slipped in from middle-watch, shuddering and shaking as Horse made room so that Ferox didn't have to move. That was going to have to change. The assassin shouldn't be out and exposed in the night with no one to double check he didn't freeze, and considering how he would be gone by the time Ferox awoke, that meant he was better suited to last watch.

Gritting his teeth as the elf got settled in, "I'm surprised you haven't turned your charm towards finding someone else to shove cold feet against."

A soft sigh of relief laden pain, hands rubbing vigorously at pale tinted ears, vaguely acerbic and rolled eyes, "Oh yes, I did not think of that. At all. Your sunny disposition was the first person that came to mind, Warden. Either I was laughed off or a threatened fire spell was nearly summoned."

"You need better quality clothes," as he began going over what had been collected.

"My clothes are of good quality - just unsuited to your frigid country," Zevran sighed scooting away to give more room, crowding Horse who didn't seem to mind the Crow at all.

The next night Ferox's tent was empty, including Horse. If it kept the elf from bothering him, Ferox could deal with it. But the next day the assassin's muscles apparently had been stiff from cold and the cornered drake had spun on the assassin as he crept up, even as Ferox sought to keep the overgrown lizard's attention on himself, like a flash striking forward and mauling through light leathers as Zevran sought to dodge. Wynne had her hands full that afternoon, impromptu camp set up, the Crow quipping and bothering the healer, expression smooth but eyes tight, bronze skin pale with blood loss.

That evening as Zevran looked over the new armour Ferox had handed coin over for, "My tent."

There was no choice for it, so Ferox resigned himself to it. Everyone worked together seamlessly, and he worked ever harder at being what each needed. Laying awake, the still recovering elf beside him, he stared at the ceiling of the tent. The watches had been long since adjusted, armour was supplied, clothing would be next. Zevran reminded him of nothing so much as a child that went out with just a light shirt in rain and snow when at the least several layers and a thick cloak would be needed. He also watched how the Antivan ate and having seen him in limited amount of clothing, it was obvious there wasn't even a token scrap of fat on the lean body, and that meant there was nothing at all to protect him and nothing extra to burn for vital interior heat. Some of the flesh sagged as though muscle mass and earlier stores had been lost or left to fade, a puzzle that Ferox didn't waste time on, instead just making himself sit beside the Crow to ensure that they ate the same amount and that when his own bowl was empty and refilled, so was Zevran's, and Ferox would just stare hard at any odd glance from the gesture.

Even when it came from a pair of amber eyes.

Wolf fur trimmed most of Zevran's clothes in short order, gaps well rimed with more. The next time they brought down a bear, the assassin gathered up the fat much to Alistair's disgust and confusion, the others figuring it for eccentricity, but Ferox was more surprised that the Crow knew that trick. Jiggling globules were in the stew the next meal, everyone too hungry to notice, but the thick taste of bear meat and extra fat was familiar. Outside of the tent, Zevran was his usual self, never shutting up, even as he toasted slices of meat beside the fire, separating a tub of the fat gathered earlier and working it into his armour all at the same time.

Normally Ferox valued the quiet and not having to hear the Crow ramble, at least when in the tent, but he asked, "If you knew how to do all that, why didn't you do it before?"

Zevran was checking the stitching on Ferox's cloak, adding an extra ruff of fur around the shoulders and neck, not looking up from the work, "Hmn, why indeed? I did not plan on an extended stay in Ferelden, Warden."

"That doesn't answer the question," growling, wanting the elf to just be straight out and tell him why he had been helpless when he clearly wasn't actually helpless.

"Ah, but it does. Perhaps expanded you will understand - I did not plan on an extended stay in Thedaseither, yes?" An exasperated sigh came when Ferox didn't move or say anything, as he was trying to process what that might mean. "I had wished to fail in my contract, Warden. Throwing myself at a pair of Wardens, recruits or not as I have never heard of the order taking in the useless and weak, seemed a likely way of removing myself from this plane of existence. Is that answer sufficient enough to satisfy you?"

Snorting as his brow rose, "So why offer your services after you were beaten, only to give up in the snow?"

"Because that is not your business and is impertinent I should turn the question around, fierce one, and ask why you wish to die, yet continue onwards? The reasons cannot be all that different," for once the look sent his way was strange but easily identified - measuring and weighing each flicker. "But I did not give up in the cold, I merely did not complain or ask for things the way others have and seek to exceed the constraints placed upon me. There is a difference, Lord Cousland. You and I work with what we have, and ask for no more, and if failure happens because of it, then we were not good enough to survive it."

Taking his cloak from the Antivan's hands and pulling on his boots, Ferox yielded the tent.

Later Zevran came out, the time for last watch at hand. Snow was set to melt and boil, a handful of precious gathered herbs thrown in it to make it palatable. "My last mission, the one before this one, did not go well. No, that is to say it went well enough, but someone under my care died for foolish reasons. And I allowed it. Agreed to it even. As she lay there, her blood soaking my boots, I spit on her and the love she had sworn to me. Death would be the easy way out, even delivered at another's hands and would not allow me the justified suffering I deserve for what I did and did not do. Go to bed Warden. You will do no good to those who you lead if you are not remotely rested. Seeking death is all well and good so long as you do not drag others down with you."

In that case he did as instructed, just to escape.

Sufficient gear in place, warmer areas, at least relatively, of Ferelden gained, Ferox believed that for once he could sleep alone. But the damned elf was there, coming awake enough to groan and scoot, making room, just as he had every night since forever it felt like. Rubbing his temples Ferox had struggled, got nearly as far as taking off the outermost layers, before he couldn't take it and began to dress once more. A hand came out, brown fingers curling around his forearm and tugging him to the pallet.

"Sleep, my Warden."

Several times Ferox tried to switch tents - Zevran in Ferox's tent, Ferox in Zevran's. All that happened was twenty minutes after laying down, there was an elf and hound beside him. Then when he tried reversing that choice, still, within minutes, just as Ferox got settled in the Crow would show up, until he finally was resigned to having company. It went like that for so long Ferox no longer had the energy to growl every time he went to bed and when Zevran began sleeping facing him, an arm over his waist, forehead pressed to his shoulder, Ferox gave up. The growling didn't deter the damnable elf, arguing or seeking to put him off was like trying to tell the sun not to rise. Implacable as a coming dawn or sunset, the assassin was immovable except under his own will and power.

But it meant he was trapped, and if there was one thing that Ferox despised, it was being trapped. It didn't matter that snare was one of his own devising, or at least a design he had improved upon so that its hold so it didn't bite as deeply into his leg. It was still a trap and it held him with a loose arm and breath working its way through his sleeve as it slept.

Closing his eyes as Zevran finished winding a poultice laden bandage around his arm, Ferox growled. The elf didn't reply hands leaving his skin, but just as Ferox was about to grab his shirt to pull it back on, oddly slick palms slid over his shoulders. Going stiff, ready to question, the words stilled in his throat as thumbs dug into a tight group of muscles, somehow managing to make the knot loosen.

"What are you doing?" he finally managed as he was pressed down onto the combined bedrolls.

"Tchk, you are so tense, my dear Warden, it is criminal. Think of this as the same as tending to stitches and poultices, no more," steady and firm of voice and hands, Ferox couldn't stop himself from allowing it.

If this was how the Crow would finally end his misery, he could accept it, he guessed. It wouldn't be any different than the assassin slipping a blade between his ribs as he slept. When it became a nightly occurrence, Ferox was at a loss. But it wasn't...bad...he decided. So he allowed it with only token snarls. At some point the Crow had told him in no uncertain terms that since his legs were what carried the weight of armour, pack and body, he had to have access to those as well. Those were good reasons, along with the fact that walking throughout Ferelden, often having to backtrack or cut new trails, was what made him relinquish and give in to that order. He hadn't regretted that at least, as for once his legs quit screaming and even his feet felt less abused.

But Zevran asked for nothing, even then, his presence remaining constant and unending.

After returning to Ostagar during the nightly massage, Ferox was almost asleep, familiar with hands on his buttocks and the backs of his thighs, the weight settled and straddling him, a finger went somewhere where it did notbelong. At least not Zevran's - but that was not anything he wished to think about. Coming awake quickly, ready to struggle, a palm pushed firmly on the small of his back.

"It is just a massage, Warden. Relax," Zevran's voice slid into his head, somehow like a deep drink of some dwarf's vile brew. "There is no need to be so tense."

Snarling, "I was not tense until -"

The finger slid in circling and rubbing as it slid in and out, silencing his words but not the growls. Or the anger. It didn't matter how good it felt, or how strangely relaxing, the choice had been removed. There was no way to fight. There was no defense. The only person to ever touch him like that was dead, gone, and this was wrong.

Strangling, "Stop."

The fingers stilled, tone conversational, "There is a saying that a man's soul is stored here -" a demonstrating stroke followed. "Love grief is pent up in this space, it needs to be released so that it does not turn to a festering wound." A long boned hand began kneading the small of Ferox's back soothingly, "It is nothing more than a healing touch, Warden. I will take care of you as you have taken care of me, nothing more, nothing less. Be angry and direct it later, for now, let me tend the wound and do what I can."

He was forced to vulnerability, to trust even a little. The surety and gentleness of the touch made it worse in some ways. Rory and he hadn't been anywhere near that experienced, they could find what felt good, but there were other things in those long gone touches. Want, desire. Zevran hadn't lied, it was the touch of a healer being used, no different than the massage of any other set of muscles. As the pressure built, his thoughts spiraled tighter, making him think, making him feel - all things he didn't want. Probably because he no longer knew how to handle that. Biting his tongue as he was struck by a sudden crash, Ferox wept bitter and angry tears - he hadn't wanted to think. To feel. But he had and it had been good and it had been frightening. Zevran's hands once more returned to the full body massage, seeking to give him something that Ferox couldn't understand at all. Not at the moment. Sure hands guided and helped him back into his trews as he fought to regain his scattered wits.

"You - you don't get to do that to me," hoarse with too many emotions, anger being the easiest, most palatable one to identify.

The Crow lay down, settling in for the night as though he hadn't done anything, "It was not sex, Ferox. It was clinical, yes? No different than what I have consistently done for you. No different than Wynne's healing spells. Only the way we look at it is different." Ferox began to sit up, "Ferox - healing is unpleasant. It hurts. It is frightening. But if left to your own devices, you would chew your limbs off and die rather than let someone free you from the frozen trap of your anger and grief. I will leave you be tonight if that is your wish, yet it seems unwise to leave you in such a state unattended. Memories will come, they always do when we are pressed in unwanted if necessary directions."

Furious, "Touch me again and you'll wish you chewed that arm off."

The despicable elf had been right. Memories had come. They came every night, no matter that the Antivan hadn't touched him again below the waist, not even to rub his feet. But somehow it had been impossible to deny the upper body being eased, at least after the memories would strike. It would be the only way to find any rest. Horse hadn't even growled at Zevran or his actions, not any of them. He felt betrayed, almost, until a large head would shove its way underneath a hand, a soft whine of sympathy when the memories attacked. The hound had been there too, he knew, and he had lost them all as well.

Another thing the Antivan had been right about - the anger was good fuel to direct.

In the Deep Roads, the close terror of twisted and ruined lives, the knowledge of where darkspawn came from, or at least how they were birthed left him laying awake with the shakes. There was no comfort to be had, not even Horse could help. In the night, not that time could be told - they slept when they were too tired to keep going - the nightmares were impossible to escape.

A hand found its way to his head, thumb massaging a temple, "Do not listen to the voice, amora."

Startled from the dazed staring, perhaps sleeping, "What?"

"Do not listen to the voice that you say calls you," beside him Zevran shifted, sounding fatigued. "It has no power over you. You do not belong to it. It cannot own you."

It was so dark, too dark.

"Shh," the Antivan crooned, for a moment blotting out the sound of the Archdemon. "You are here, you are Ferox Cousland, Warden and leader. They cannot touch you, they have no hold over you."

"They're too loud, too real," his mouth didn't check with his head, compelled by the much closer and immediate demon beside him.

"May I help you?"

He tried to say 'no'. Instead, "Please."

Arms slid around him, the smell of leather, sweat and foreign land, something akin to the smell of the sun brought down to the Deep Roads wrapped around him. Shuddering in that embrace, the hand gently guiding his head into the crook of neck, Ferox's eyes clenched shut. In his mind corn silk blond hair, reflecting sunlight, eyes of a deep pooled amber, flesh browned to a striking bronze, all things sun and warmth, shining even in the filth and dark pit of the Deep Roads. Inhaling that scent, he clutched at the shirt, at the shoulder and sinew beneath it, clinging to that lifeline to the above.

"Don't let me die here in the dark," muttering as he quaked, helpless against the constant grinding song of the darkspawn.

"I am your man, until such a time as you choose to release me," so steady, so calm, where the Crow found it when all Ferox wanted to do was crawl back to the surface, Ferox didn't care, only absurdly grateful that it was there. "You will not die in this place, Ferox. This I swear."

The next stop Ferox remained strong until the others went quiet, then the Archdemon's song and the slithering of darkspawn minds plucking at his began once more.

"Ferox, amora.They cannot touch you," whispered in his ear, guiding him back, or at least trying to.

He wasn't able to reply to the spiced voice, being caught in the song.

"Come back to us, to me," the words were the same, different songs, different voices. One of sun and warmth and above, the other of dark and black fire and cloying earth traps.

He could answer neither.

Something slick touched his mouth, something strong pried at his lips, then sunlight.It had a taste as well as a smell. There was texture too and sound. As it pulled away, frightened and mindless not wishing to lose that last gasp of air, Ferox grabbed for it.

"It is alright, amora," Zevran, or was it the sun? who spoke. "If you could wait to chew off my arm until we are shut of this place, it would allow me to remain useful awhile longer, hmn?"

"Don't forsake me," fingers digging in, refusing to let go, pleading in that dark place with the dark scratching, the only right thing there and it was half ready to leave him. "I won't chew off your arm, just...just don't...don't leave me here."

Lips touched his briefly, companionably, the only time he had ever been kissed like that. "I will not leave you behind. It is not your time and will not be for a great many years yet, yes? Rely upon me and I will work very hard to not let you down."

By the time they found Caridan, Zevran was having to spend minutes kissing him to keep Ferox present and sane enough to not answer the song, at least a little bit. He was too desperate to complain, to recoil or snarl. Death didn't bother him, but dying down in the terrible dark, earth pressing down on him - no, he couldn't do that, although that bright lava looked very tempting. If the Antivan's mouth on his, the smell of skin was what it took to have even a faint whiff of fresh air and sunlight, then he would find a way to deal. Anything to not be drowning in stone and sluggish black blood.

Even as they left, or at least attained Orzammar, Ferox had to struggle. The entire time cursing Duncan and the fact that having Joined during a Blight left him so vulnerable, the scrabbling noises and whispers were enough to make him lose his mind. It got so bad that as soon as the others were settled, he would drag Zevran to him quickly, a shield against the worst nightmare of his life that didn't seem to ever end. Only warmth and steadiness resided in that embrace. As much as he had despised the earlier lack of reaction, that impregnable fortress that could not be breached or roused to anger, now he was grateful for it. It was an anchor, needed as surely as food and water and air.

Long, nut brown hands guided his to the firm line of chest, beneath the shirt, feeling the reality there. A drumbeat of heart, the echo of fresh winds, the taste of sun in his mouth - that kept him alive enough to survive until they finally were outside. When night fell and they were in tents, blessed tents on ground that did not spread to the overhead, Zevran was still there, recently scrubbed from Behlen's baths, the only thing requested, having left the group long enough to do that. Everyone else had been of a mind that even the cold of the Frostbacks was preferable to being buried beneath stone for a moment longer than absolutely necessary.

Ferox paced the perimeter, unsure that the Crow would return. He had left Ferox, left the group after setting up the camp with them. It left him cursing, cursing himself, cursing Duncan, cursing Zevran. The elf had become a crutch, a vulnerable chink in armour that was necessary. Nothing could change the relief when a leather and wool clad shadow broke free of deeper, darker shadows, passing him but pausing long enough to glance at him before crawling into a tent. Fighting himself, Ferox swore vehemently.

And still entered his own tent.

Zevran was there, scrubbed clean, impossibly clean, fresh and crisp as the liquid gold of a late summer afternoon on a grassy bank. The long-sleeved outer jacket, fur lined and sturdy was unfastened, set aside, clean shirt beneath it also removed followed by boots and socks and the outer leather pants, leaving him in the thinner wool leggings. A jar was produced, one of several unguents that he always kept.

"Would you like a massage to rid you of the last of the Deep Roads' tension, amora?"

Yes, he would. "No."

"As you desire," jar opened anyway, the contents being rubbed in to bronze flesh of chest, working at muscles that must be equally tired.

How it happened, Ferox could only guess at. Gathering up a scoop of the salve he began mimicking the familiar and comfortable touch at shoulders, doing the giving instead of receiving. Zevran tensed, surprised, a minor victory for Ferox he supposed. Still his hands began to find a pattern to the flow of muscle, the stark black lines guiding the massage. Without thought he continued lower until a hand twisted back, fingers curling around his wrist.

"Not that I would mind your hands lower, but if you do that, I cannot guarantee that you will wish to refrain from ripping a limb or three or possibly even all five, from my body. Those limbs enable me to be moderately useful to you, amora," the warning gentle.

Frowning, Ferox didn't understand, saying it accusingly, "You said that there was nothing sexual - "

"Because you have no interest in me, of course that meant there was nothing to that. For me, it is different. Allowing you to touch me when my interests lie in your direction...? It makes for...complications." Zevran let his hand go, "What little distance I have from you that you require of me will be breached. Not that I would attack you, I am not a barbarian. But you will be...displeased."

"In the Deep Roads there was..." searching for a word.

"That was for survival and the only reason you allowed it," too calm, yet muscles had tightened - visibly even - beneath Ferox's hands. "It was something you required and allowed me to give. Thisis not like that. No matter, I will accept whatever you are willing to give, and will keep my word."

It was a trap, one that would rip his legs out from under him, making him useless. That much Ferox knew of for certain. The dependence - it was something he couldn't allow. Even if he knew he already had, no matter the justification that he had been in the dark, had been swallowed whole by a hole in the ground, had been buried alive. But there had been choice there, even if it would have destroyed him, his mind scrabbling over it screaming that it was no real choice.

The clean warm skin beneath his hands remained tense, but as always the assassin was steady. Inhumanly so. Being there had, returning to the tent - those had been choices. It meant replacing Rory with someone who let the world walk past, immovable and unimpressed by the failings and successes of others unless he chose to be. Ferox knew he didn't want to be alone. Being surrounded by idiots who had an idealistic world view that was going to get them all killed notwithstanding.

Except Zevran.

"Too bad this isn't a ploy to get in my tent to kill me," squeezing, putting pressure on the waist, uncertain, not comprehending how someone who was so implacable wanted anything to do with him.

"Hmn, yes, it would be rather masterful, no?" the muscles remained tense but loosened just a fraction as though the Antivan knew he had made a decision. "Except the minor fact that your need and friendship brought me back from the brink. Purpose. Such an odd word. Even when the world is tumbling down like a pile of bricks, purpose stops us from curling up and letting them fall as they will. It keeps us going until we figure out what it is to live again."

The longer Ferox stared at the bronzed skin, the more he realized that the texture and grain of it was finer and smoother than his own. That there were flecks of all shades of brown and gold there, some of them throwing back the little bit of light as though someone had sprinkled gold dust into the skin. It was too bright, Zevran was too hot, like trying to grab the sun. Foolish in the above, no matter how necessary in a living grave.

"Is that what it is?" hands withdrawing, looking away no matter that it was terrifying to do both.

"No. But it is difficult to remain in tight quarters and not learn the person beside you, especially if they talk in their sleep. For the record, I did not carve my name in your thigh the afternoon we met, no matter how many different languages and the several scripts I know," the Crow sat up slowly and reached for his earlier discarded shirt. "It is hard to not develop feelings when confronted with someone who puts others first, who, no matter how angry and frightened they are, still manages thoughtfulness. Kindness. Perhaps a dose of infatuation at first, true. Definitely several doses of mutual need. But, ah, it is a moot point, hmn?" The cloth covered that skin, making the tent's confines somehow dimmer, a smile turned Ferox's way. "I will still my chatter now so that we may sleep, my Warden. Do not worry - I will not abandon you, nor will I press you again, even though things do not go the way I wished they could."

Stopping the elf from laying back down with a touch at the broad shoulder that was a struggle to give, "Why did you take off your shirt?"

"Because my skin was chapped and I did not take the time to put salve on after bathing. The longer I took to return to camp, the greater the chances someone still agitated by our weeks underground would attack first, ask questions of a corpse later when I sought to return. My ability to tell time is muffled beneath all that stone and dirt, as is, I took longer than intended." A slight frown turned the full lips down, "Why do you ask?"

"It wasn't a ploy?"

"The only 'ploy' involved here these months was feigning deeper sleep so that you were less likely to snarl at me and kick me out," the answer honest, earnest. "It felt safe being beside you, a novel experience for me, to be safe for hours at a time when the last I can remember anything similar, I was a boy and not yet sold to the Crows. I found it...I find it...very difficult to cope with the thought of giving it up."

Finding a way to give permission, one that didn't expose his flank or a kidney, "Then don't."

"Thank you," it was like a weight had been lifted from the assassin's shoulders as he got situated once more.

Snuffing the camp lantern, Ferox thought he had been clear, was tensed and waiting for whatever the Crow thought needed to come next or wanted of him. The arm over his waist, the forehead pressed to his shoulder - all known things. No kiss, no arms tugging him in close. He hadn't been clear enough. Even as his eyes adjusted to the dark, Ferox couldn't stand it, it was too soon, the Deep Roads was still in his head and in his nose. There had been no sunshine beating down on him to remind him of the present and keep him there.

Choking on that fear that there was only stone overhead, "Zevran."

Beside him the elf shifted a hand cupping his cheek, the hint of hesitation just barely perceptible, "What is it?"

"They're still there."


Once more his senses filled with golden reality but the slick stroke of tongue over his was tender instead of merely reassuring. For those long seconds, Ferox didn't have to think, only hang on. And when the invasion of mind finally receded he still hung on. He could think of nothing else that he could make himself do to show he had given in, the earlier signals having come too late or the option of them taken away because he had not acted fast enough. A tentative touch of Zevran's mouth to his after they finally broke apart and Ferox parted his lips in silent reply. After each pause there was another taste of sunshine waiting, testing or exploring slowly, leaving him to wonder how many different ways a person could kiss the other without moving away from lips, teeth and tongue.

At night after the lantern was blown out, Zevran's arms would reach for him, the first kiss always there to reassure. The second to bereassured. By the time the last would come, it would be one of thanks. Hands returned to kneading muscles, switching off nightly. No more than that, just touch, kiss and sleep. Ferox tried to tell himself it wasn't frightening, with moderate success. With a start, he realized that the Crow took no more than could be given, placed no pressure, and he awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of heavier breathing beside him that took him a moment to understand. Nearly silent self-pleasure done rapidly as though it had become a habit and long practice ended with a very quiet growl and a sigh into the side of Ferox's shoulder followed by lips pressing through the linen once. He didn't reveal that he had heard anything or that he had awoken.

Another day meant another night. Another night meant more taste and texture and sound filling his senses. Instead of allowing the Crow to settle down beside him, Ferox wrapped an arm around him, pulling him in to his side. Several nights of that came and went before he once more awoke, the hand trapped between Ferox's hip and Zevran's moving with purpose until the smell of release filled the air, and he knew by morning it would always be gone. Tightening his arm around the elf as the expected kiss to the nearest available part came, he delivered one of his own to the flaxen crown.

Apologetic whisper, "Amora? I did not mean to awaken you, forgive me please."

"I know what 'amour' is in Orlesian," choosing his words carefully.

Zevran went still, "Do you now?"

"The first time - the Deep Roads, you said it then."

"Yes, I did," it was readily admitted. A nervous pause, "I would stop if you wish it of me."

"I like it better than 'Warden', for all I know, you're talking to Alistair."

An indelicate snort, "I would hope that you do not think insults and the like, such as I fling at him, are the sort I would ever direct at you, as I do not think the name 'Chantry Boy' could possibly be applied to your handsome self."

"Amora and handsome - that's laying it on thickly," a rumble found its way to his throat.

"Both true, but one is description, one is a state of being," it sounded far too reasonable, the way most things did coming from that mind.

"Don't worry about waking me up."

The taste was in his mouth, the end of a day no matter how tiring or frustrating would be rewarded with a blast of warmth. Laying on their sides in the dark, Zevran's lips left his, not going far, just moving to touch somewhere else, the side of his neck, breathing deep of whatever the day had coated Ferox in. Dust and sweat mostly, or so Ferox found himself hoping, not wanting to offend having at some point realized just how acute the elf's senses were, by offhand and random comments.

Zevran shifted closer, the hard line of Ferox's erection noticeable, "May I? Do - do you wish me to -"

He found his fingers tangling in Zevran's hair, lips seeking once again. A moan vibrated into his mouth, long brown fingers dug at his hip and there was a roll of hips. He hadn't realized that he had been hiding his own arousal from the elf until the surprised and pleased sound issued as through the light wool, their cocks ground against each other. He wasn't ready for that, wasn't sure, wasn't a lot of things, so instead of letting a hand slip into his pants, he took Zevran's and guided it back to the straining need that the Crow sated each night. The sounds of his pleasure were audible but not loud, tempting Ferox repeatedly with a quiet groan or hungry kiss that was reciprocated, giving what he could to Zevran until the elf went stiff with a harsh series of panting, gasping into the crook of Ferox's neck. Squeezing Zevran tightly Ferox managed several more long kisses before he had to stop or just give in to the way the elf tasted and smelled and sounded and felt.

Why did he resist each night? It was getting difficult to remember, his own want building to confusing and epic proportions. The comforting weight was on his thighs, the heels of palms digging in and smoothing out the areas that a healing spell couldn't help.

"Amora," palms sliding over the small of his back, hands coming to rest lightly on his buttocks. "I should like to touch you here. To bring you good feelings, yes? If you were to allow it of course."

Biting the inside of his cheek, rumbling, "Don't have to do that. There's no debt, but..."

Zevran's weight stretched out slowly along Ferox's back, "But I wantto bring you good feelings."

"Last time the...that which followed was not pleasant. I'd prefer to be able to sleep without the nightmares of fires and screaming in the night, thank you."

"It would be different, the...the intent of the touch is different. I want to smooth that away." A cheek rested between his shoulder blades. "May I touch you some other way then?"

Managing, "Not tonight. Soon..." Mentally scrambling as Zevran's weight began to slip away, "Some other way how?"

The Crow paused, lips pressed to the back of a shoulder, "My mouth, my body, my hands on your length, you inside me - there are many other ways." Coming to rest beside him, Zevran's voice was gentle, "Soon is soon enough, amora."

Burying his face in the folded cloak that smelled of foreign lands and sun, "I have had only one and as you have heard the whispered tale from Lelianna, and whatever I have muttered out in my sleep, you can guess how that tale ends, even if the details of him holding the gate...for our not said or known by any other than two amongst the living."

In the dim light of the lantern, bare as he was, Ferox was excruciatingly brought back to how vulnerable he was making himself, not just physically, but mentally as well. Strong hands pulled the blanket up before working their way under his chest to tug him in. The Antivan was very quiet, allowing him to hide his face in the column of brown skin.

Finally, "Three amongst the living know then. Three amongst the living know that there was love. Inexperience or experience do not matter in the face of that, amora.What was done was done out of love."

It wasn't just the gate that was being referred to. Ferox suspected it was everything, from start to finish, not just his own life but others. It was unknown how that could apply, just that it likely did.

Thinking of those who had loved and been loved, "None of it was given lightly and I couldn't begin to do so now."

"No more than you are willing to give, amora.And I will give no more and no less than I am able." An aquiline nose pressed to Ferox's temple, "I am yours."

A shudder rippled through him and Ferox frowned with his confusion, "Why? Why do you say that you are mine?" It was too much responsibility. He had the others to take care of, a Blight to somehow end before it spread. But this was personal, it wasn't duty.

"Why? Because I chose to be," a caress to his shoulders, an inhale as though Ferox were fresh air or something equally pleasing. "With you, I belong, with you, I am safe, with you, I am...perhaps not wanted...but...accepted, yes, that I am. With you, I am at peace except for when you suffer and there is nothing that I can do."

A growl worked up, anger at the mere thought, suddenly overwhelming, "Whoever said that you are not wanted is going to spar with me tomorrow."

"It is - Ferox, I am a slave, I am a tool, I am a pest, and I am frequently difficult to deal with - there is nothing to want there beyond continued usefulness, it need not be said by anyone," rueful self-depreciation. "Tools are replaceable, interchangeable, if one only looks hard enough. They are not thought of until needed, otherwise they are set aside in favour of other things. That is how life is."

No one in his life was replaceable or interchangeable. Otherwise he wouldn't bleed so much to keep those he could, safe. "You are not an object. You are you and irreplaceable."

Perhaps they were both taken aback by his vehemence.

"As you say, amora."

"Tomorrow be ready for that sparring session."

The massage was good, it always was, but it was accompanied by kissing this time. The side of his neck, a shoulder, along his spine. Rumbling, "What are you doing?"

"Apologies for presuming," they stopped, hands returning to their work.

Grunting, "I didn't say 'stop' - I asked what you were doing. Or perhaps more accurately - why?"

"Kissing your broad back, the one I am heartily glad accepted the healing from that last fight," again the mouth touched him. "It was worrisome to have to wait to check on you." A sore spot was found, then oddly enough licked once. "I was afraid for you."

"Good news - we found new armour while destroying my old stuff." Grunting as another of those very distracting licks took place, clearly not intended to be erotic, felt more like an animal cleaning a wound - one that wasn't there anymore, certainly, but that was what it felt like. "But afraid? Why? Thought you weren't going to get to finish that contract yourself?"

Zevran stopped mid-swipe, sat up and left the tent without saying a word, gone too fast for Ferox to say anything else.

Much later the assassin reentered the tent, crawling in beside Ferox who hadn't been able to sleep. And Horse's look at him had been particularly reproachful, reminding him of what he had been told. About a girl that Zevran had let die, one that loved him. One he had spit on. One that by her death made him leave his warm homeland for dank and damp Ferelden, with not a scrap of extra on his bones and work himself until he was ready to drop. Until he diddrop, hypothermia set in and if Ferox had allowed the elf to go back to his own tent that night, that drop likely would have been permanent.

"I will not kill you unless you ask me to," was all that was said. "Unless you are so mangled that there was no hope for recovery, then I would kill you if there was no way to save you. Other than those instances - no."

Then he rolled on his side, back pressed to Ferox's arm.

Following cautiously, he lay a hand on the upturned hip. "I meant to tease, but I failed utterly and I'm sorry to have said those words. However, I do appreciate the clarification as I don't think anyone other than Sten, who would be left frustrated at the lack of leadership, would assist or understand about relieving that sort of misery."

"It is alright, a...sensitive topic. We both have them, amora." Zevran twisted in his arms gingerly. "But I would not harm you if it could ever be helped. We have both done our fair share of killing, we have both suffered loss. There are many things you and I have done, but the one that I hope and pray to never repeat is to take the life of me. Yet I also know that there are some cases where death is the only safety and rescue that can be given."

Taking the peace offering and forgiveness, "That is...very true." Falling silent for a time, Ferox reached for the thoughts he didn't usually let himself think. "When this is over, this damnable Blight - what do you intend to do next? Ideas? Plans?"

"I should like to go to Antiva, but to do so I would have to deal with the House of Crows. Doing that alone would be...problematic. Suicide frankly."

"So a written apology and a nice gift basket wouldn't go over very well?"

Chuckling, "No, amora, it would not. A pity. However, in lieu of you and I going to Antiva and showing you the sights, I would be more than content on faithfully following you so long as I was allowed to remain by your side, ad infinitum."

"Supposedly Wardens give up everything. Which I think is incrediblystupid, but then again it was what Duncan said, so - that makes it automatically suspect..." Grumbling but not particularly displeased - the sun laughed and it was warm. "Either way, unless my older brother Fergus shows up, which is improbable to say the least - he was at Ostagar too, on a patrol, right in front of the horde I might add, technically I'm the Teyrn of Highever. At least until that's taken away too."

Calloused fingers smoothed over his cheek, "You could be a pauper with not a single bit to your name, and I would still remain by your side and count myself lucky. Though I would likely steal us enough coin so that there was some form of roof over our heads."

"Well, depending on Loghain swaying Anora...and the little thing with Howe, you may get your wish of living in a barn with a pauper...although I have managed to sweet talk no small amount of coin out of Bodahn myself."

"In that case, Antiva is warm and the food is good - and work is plentiful, no?"

"Just how many languages doyou speak?"

"Ten, though only four of them fluently, and three are functionally dead, why?"

Shrugging in the dark, trying to come up with what ten languages there werein Thedas, "We could always travel."

"Ah, yes, so that we do not miss the Blight, no?" obviously teasing, the assassin nestled in close with a kiss that stopped mid-way for a yawn. "There are many options then, amora."

"That's why I was asking what you wanted to do. Something else to think about, something to plan for, something else to occupy the mind other than, will Bhelen live up to his agreements?" Growling as he voiced his frustrations, "Will the elves find any others to help us, and why do mages live in towers or cast fireball spells in a frelling library? Or why can't I figure out why you always smell so good."

"Which of those would you like answers to? I can answer all of those," Zevran said very matteroffactly. "Bhelen will live up to it or there would be full blown civil war amongst the dwarves. Those who support him not supporting us would be crushed quickly due to the fact that supplies from the surface are a life-line, they would have no power or prestige if they had no way to sell their metals and goods and lyrium. Elven scouts cover what our merry group covers in two or three days in one, and the Dalish have a coded form of direction pointing that they leave for the very purpose of being easily found by other clans. Mages live in towers as they are easy to contain, and purge, the library had enough fire protection runes that one would half expect pages to merely regenerate if mangled by a sloppy hand if they were put in a fire. And I smell good because you find me attractive. To someone like Wynne I might smell like rancid pond water. Which is good, as if she found me attractive I think I might vomit. It is far more preferable that you do, as the feeling is mutual." The stream of words halted - but only for a moment. "Any other questions that plague you that you require solved?"

"Now I really need something else to think about or tomorrow is going to be a very boring walk to Denerim in the continuation of this endless march across Ferelden."

"Hmn, that isa problem," agreeable and reasonable as usual. "I might have a solution, something to think about or to distract."

Ferox was about to ask but then there were hands under his shirt, rubbing his chest slowly and Zevran was making a strange purring noise in the back of his throat, face pressed tightly to Ferox's neck. It was distracting, certainly. It was also a new puzzle - just how did the elf do that? But he didn't know what to do with the situation, drawing a blank, and the assassin's hands were nowhere near the swelling that was currently growing.

Answering the purr with a soft growl, "Zevran - what may I do for you?"

The faintly sweat-stained shirt from the day before was tugged up. But very slowly. "Is it too soon for me to ask to use my mouth on you?"

"I would venture a guess you are not talking about on my mouth," not sure if he was hiding his uncertainty, hoping that least his interest might come through, not wanting to reject, but still extremely nervous.

Palms pressed to his shoulders, then gradually slid down, "I will start up here, the goal, it is down here-" pausing at Ferox's waistband. "But I will stop the moment you ask me to, amora," the hands moving back up quickly.

Licking his lips, Ferox sought to ignore the ache in his groin that wished for nothing more than that he give in. Closing his eyes he made himself think, to the best of his abilities, Zevran was still making that odd purring noise, it affected his speech oddly. The hot burr rolled around in the cavern of the mouth Ferox wasn't certain he had fully explored yet, and found daily that he just wanted to make sure he had.

Swallowing the easy answer, 'no', as it was an old one and unwanted, "As interesting as that sounds I' more interested in learning how you do that."

A partial answer but one he hoped got his point across.

Zevran leaned up to tug off his shirt, "By all means, amora.Satisfy your curiosity."

Spreading hands over the lean and muscular chest, Ferox ducked his face to listen to the purring directly. Initially at least. But the sound came from the chest and not just the throat, a sound that thrummed against his ear then his lips as he touched skin, the air vibrating steadily. It was full of stops and starts, managing to reach Zevran's breastbone but the oddness at nipples stopped him in full, frowning in the dark, wishing the lantern was still lit. Thumbing them for a moment he realized that metal had been embedded in delicate flesh and quickly withdrew his hand, worried he had caused pain.

Hands smoothed over Ferox's shoulders, "Is something amiss, amora?"

"Why would you, what, metal - metal in your -"

"Piercings? I put them there as I find them aesthetically pleasing, and the stimulation is no less pleasant. Why?"

"That had to of hurt," silently supplying the 'horribly'. "So I'll just take your word for it.

", it was not so bad. More than a tattoo but it also ends faster. The trade-offs were worth it, as are the other piercings I have."

"Otherpiercings?" suddenly completely out of his depth once more.

He felt Zevran shrug, "Five on the underside of my shaft so that sex is of greater pleasure for my partner, one in the tip for my own increased enjoyment. It is neither common nor uncommon. Many have more piercings, many have less. The same as my tattoos. It is all a matter of preference."

Wariness and curiosity warred. No one would willingly put needles in their body just for pleasure. It had to have been done to him and the intervening years must have given the assassin time to get used to them and fabricate that little fiction. Or maybe not. Ferox couldn't say and he wouldn't know because he wouldn't ask.

An amused sound, the elf sat up, dislodging Ferox but keeping a tight hold on him, "Such a frown I can envision on your handsome face, corizon.No reason to keep it just to yourself, hmn?"

Flint and steel struck several times, a spark took the fat soaked wick, illuminating the familiar back and shoulders. The elf made a satisfied noise, scooting around on the bedrolls to tug off socks, then leggings, folding them and setting them aside, reduced to just his smalls. Languidly stretching while moving the lantern, Zevran set it where it would give them the best light. He had known it for a long time, but seeingZevran suddenly like that was something of a shock. Ferox had refrained from allowing himself to look at all except in the most general terms - limbs, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, jaw, neck, shoulders - but now it was like a hammer's blow. Scars and tattoos only made a very wide chested and yet improbably lean body even more beautiful. Like a snowcat or the rare cougar while in summer and autumn coats, the markings and tawny gold only exaggerated the simple motion of breathing. Or like the very rare, tigers that ranged the borders between the Korcari Wilds, the Frostbacks and the Uncharted Territories with pelts that ranged from snow white with long mottled black stripes or to deep red-umber with tan stomachs, their faces and bodies bearing black markings as well. If he could, Ferox would make a cloak of those pelts as well as continue to make the blankets for the elf to settle in nightly, protecting his less cold-resistant body.

Clearing his throat, Ferox felt large and bumbling, not just inexperienced, but graceless by comparison. "I didn't know you had tattoos on your legs."

Zevran took Ferox's face in his hands, the gesture familiar, but had only come when they were laying down, not sitting up. Sun gold eyes skipped over his face, studying him thoroughly before saying with just the mildest hint of coaxing, "Ferox, there is no need to fear - not me, not yourself. Not this. I am going nowhere, stop when you wish to, take as much time as you desire. You are incapable of disappointing me, as I am here because I desire your presence and touch."

Tilting his head, a kiss was deposited on a sinewy wrist, an interesting circular tattoo over the vein. Taking Zevran's word for it as it was all he could do, Ferox started over with what was nearest. Knuckles jutted from hands, wear and tear from countless fights on them, but they were only slightly reddened, the frequent applications of salves during a massage, and apparently whenever possible, having protected and soothed them, they were a fighter's hands, there was no mistaking it. Following the line of bone, the tendons ropey and flat, packed tightly, displaying strength with a flex, every muscle standing in relief as they were explored. Forearms widened and were hard, though the skin was velvety, a great deal of the power originating there, fueling the assassin's strikes during a fight, or the strength to tug and pull and smooth sore muscles into a semblance of submission, with the fine tuned motor-control there. Biceps were thinner oddly, but still much larger than Ferox would have suspected from the elven servants and the bare armed Dalish men he had seen. It was in the meat of the shoulders that some of the real strength came from, or was it the back, layered as it was with coiled tissues, compact and extremely dense? Skin and muscle hung from bones that were slim but wide-set, worn comfortably as any fine and specially made garment.

Gold hoops lay close and tight around ruddy brown nipples, not much different than ones he had seen in the ears of others. Checking there quickly, a thumb and forefinger touching a lobe, faint dents, three in each lobe, and upon closer inspection, several up higher near the sculpted tips. At the exploratory touch sliding down the cartilage, they did something startling - they twitched, the entire shell rotating forward to keep contact with the touch. It only reinforced the image of a feline, or a very sleek mabari without the narrow loin. Or the face so ugly that it became interesting.

Repeating the motion, "I've never seen anything like that. Would you do that again? Do other elves move their ears? "

"Some do," head tilted, a hand guiding Ferox's fingers up so the tip could curl in a whispered embrace. "Those who do are wary of sharing it. Shemlenobsession with our ears has led to pain in frequent enough cases. The only time I cursed and wanted to swear from discomfort of a physical modification I have done to my body were the pierciengs up near the tips. I would take my nose being done a thousand times, my cock twice that, before I would sit still for twelve holes punched through all at once in my ears. Or the crossbar, that one...pure foolishness. Besides it never looks good on an elf, and it forces our ears to be stiff." It was a contented purr, "But when care is taken to not purposefully inflict damage, I find the touch of another very...welcome."

"Why did you take the piercings out?" unable to stop himself from slowly stroking and rubbing the flexible flesh as it twitched and swiveled and curled while Zevran made low noises.

"I did not wish anyone to rip them from my ears as loot after killing me," absentminded. "With how finicky Fereldens are, I found it unlikely anyone would touch those in my nipples and penis. And I gave my old ones from my bellybutton, tongue, eyebrow, ears and nose those who had taken me in before. Superstitious lot."

Checking to make sure it was alright, he leaned in to nuzzle at Zevran's face, kissing him slowly and worked his way to an ear. It almost cupped his lips with invitation, and he gave it an experimental lick. Bronze hands grabbed Ferox's knees a growl and groan issuing. He took that as a good sign, so continued his inspection, moving from one to the other, losing track of time.

"Ferox," a hint of warning, "I do not...I do not mean to be hasty but that is...driving me just faintly, faintly mind you, up the wall." There was a shudder head moving away from Ferox's face to lean forward, panting against his chest.

Pointing out, "This is a tent - hard to do, even for you."

The Crow chuckled, "True, but I that much attention there. Not even another elf, yes? It is..."

Ferox took on a rural drawling, "Is it larger than the universe? Is it smaller than a mouse? Is it a velvet painting of Arland done in the last three days? Is it two white horses one named Tookus the other not? A shrubbery perhaps?" He was prepared to offer more alternatives.

"It is a bit much to take," more laughter, lips touching Ferox's throat. "The stimulation is just slightly...overwhelming, hmn? If you wish to continue there, allow them a few moments to rest." Tongue slid into Ferox's mouth, lips somehow mumbling, "It is not bad, just too much focus at once."

Rumbling after the twining and licking of mouths had stopped, "As you wish."

Gingerly Ferox continued elsewhere, finding the hollow of the throat, the bobbing apple at windpipe when licked firmly gained the rushing air of a moan. Mapping each patch of skin, going slow, careful to make sure no hurt was incurred, while Zevran lay back, watching him or eyes closed when a particularly sensitive place was found. The hoop in a nipple was touched then gradually tested and tasted. There was no thick layer of hair over chest or abdomen, but as he went farther down, downy copper fuzz formed an expanding trail that sank below the waist of undergarments. Halting there, the large ridge of erection tucked to the side was...also startling. Ferox didn't wish to compare what he had seen before, but couldn't really help it considering that what wasn't out in the open yet was still a great deal morethan what he had been once familiar with.

"Ferox, you do not have to do that," honeyed skin and abdominal muscle flexed beneath Ferox's hands.

"Is that a 'Please stop'? Or a 'You don't have to', way out?"

"A way out," succinct. "No more than you are willing, amora. You need not rush on my account. You can stop at any point and that will be enough - no pressure, no harm, no fear, no anger, Ferox."

"I appreciate my scout's advice, but I should like to see the lay of the land myself, as he has permitted it."

Full lips quirked, hands cupping, but not pulling, Ferox's head. "I am yours."

Tugging the linen away, Zevran raised his hips to assist, but made no other moves other than to stroke Ferox's crown lightly in an easy rhythm, giving reassurance. From anyone else it would be off-putting, as Ferox wasn't the one in the vulnerable state. With the confining linen gone, the thickness and length were allowed freedom, curving rather than straight. At the base the hair had darkened to a deeper copper, something between that darker metal and the spun gold of the elf's shoulder length locks.

Reining in the statement that almost broke free about commonly held beliefs about male elven anatomy versus what he was currently faced with, Ferox instead took a few more moments. He had already spoken poorly that evening and had no wish to repeat it, especiallynot about something so intimate. The lists of things he could say that came to mind weren't very good. Ferox really had no idea what to say, just that he had to be careful.

Grasping the hard heat firmly, thumb finding the strange piercings on the underside, "I don't see why you felt the need to do anything to yourself to ensure satisfaction."

An arm folded under his head to prop up and watch him, "It is not the size that matters, it is the way it is used. But I have always strove to be nothing if not a polite lover, amora.The more effort I put forth, the greater my reward, as there is much to enjoy in giving." A shrug of shoulder, "It is like the tattoos and piercings - I have seen many kinds. An 'impressive' size is not always all that impressive. But none of that matters, only that you and I are here, that is what I need for satisfaction."

It sounded reasonable, just like anything else Zevran ever said to him. Part of him wanted to agree outright, but he didn't know firsthand. Yes, he liked giving; had given gifts to his companions and seeing them happy had meant something. But the way the elf's eyes had lit up, after the initial shock and almost-hostility had worn off, the picking it apart, the never having had a gift, the way he had been so off balance... Yet the gratitude that Ferox had listened to and had rememberedan offhand comment... Nothing was ever asked for, never demanded. The only thing asked for was to be allowed to give, as though Zevran didn't know how to receive. Which, Ferox suddenly realized, might actually be true. Even when the assassin had forced an issue, touched uninvited, that had not been for the elf's pleasure or desire at all. It was all giving, no asking. Not even a massage of shoulders, or a wound stitched, or warmth shared. He couldn't think much about the forced touch, but he could acknowledge in the confines of his own mind that Zevran had not taken any joy in that act, that much had been obvious.

Squeezing and giving Zevran's manhood a long stroke, even in this there was giving. Outs offered, safety promised, calmness seeping from every pore, allowing Ferox to explore and sate his curiosity wherever it took him, trust too. In his hand there was a flex against the grip, the pulse of blood rushing beneath Ferox's fingertips beckoned. Velvet skin slipped up and down the shaft easily with each stroke, the dusky with blood the head was swollen, another ring passing through the eye out the underside of the tip. Another flex and a pearl leaked out, pale cream against the dark plushness making the gold gleam. Without thinking, Ferox licked the evidence of deep arousal away, rumbling at the taste. Paying special attention, ignoring in some ways his own curiosity and its desire to be sated, he listened and watched for Zevran's sounds of pleasure. As much as Ferox wished to focus on finding and learning everything, of controlling what he could, he gave this time. Working his tongue over the thick veins that pulsed each time Zevran twitched, Ferox did what he could, swallowing down as much as he could take.

A guiding hand came, nimble digit running around the crown, then dragging it down the underside and back up, showing instead. "Amora, here, here is...good...and here."

Following the instructions, Ferox listened to the sighs and groans, watched the way muscles tensed in a line up a black streaked golden side. Firmly caressing a muscular thigh, he got more comfortable, one of Zevran's legs instantly bent at the knee, cradling him and providing support for the arm that was busy holding the heavy erection upright. Continuing to stroke Zevran, touching everywhere he could reach, Ferox glided his tongue in a meaningless pattern, held captive by the look of concentration on elven features.

"Amora," it was hoarse. "Please," a thick swallow while Ferox didn't pause. The hand that had been resting on Ferox's head left, flailing towards the pack, "Please, Ferox, just..."

Stopping at the note of desperation, worried, but he had sounded like he was enjoying it, confused, Ferox stilled, "Yes?"

"Cream, just...I am sorry, but please," fingers grasped futilely at was just out of reach.

Ferox got up enough to dig in the Crow's pack, grabbing the first one he could find and turned back, uncorking it. "What do you need?"

Lids slammed closed, a deeply indrawn breath, "Fingers and what you were doing."

Almost ready to take some out, "Wait, is this one poison?"

At that, a deep laugh, holding out a hand to take the jar and check with a quick sniff, "No. But that would have been entertaining."

Ferox didn't think so, "I'd rather not try to find the humour in that."

Zevran shook his head, leaning to sit half-up, taking and giving a long kiss. "Vials are poison, jars are salves and poultices. Usually." Forehead pressed to Ferox's jaw, hot breath coasting over his neck, "I only wished to gain another of those kisses. Checking for poison was a good excuse."

Giving the Antivan a firm push to lay back down, Ferox gathered a goodly amount of the salve, slowly coating the ring of muscles that relaxed immediately at his touch. Taking great care, he began to work a single finger in as Zevran let out a soft hiss, head thumping on their rolled up cloaks several times. Inside was soft and tight, the muscles rhythmically grasping the long middle digit. He wasn't sure that he was ready for everything, though the temptation and desire was there.

Zevran held up two fingers, "Two, two, any other time you desire, do as you will, but please..." Quicker than he would normally think was wise, at least with Rory, he added a second digit, gaining a clench, arched back and another hiss, "Amora!"

Waiting until he was certain that that wasn't a displeased sound and that it really was what Zevran wanted, Ferox made himself comfortable once more, returning to giving rather than exploring, though they were nearly the same thing. It was a fine distinction. The sounds the elf made were wilder with each passing moment, the time of clearly pent up want and craved connection adding to what small skills Ferox had. There was a warning, a hand on his face, urging him away as that almost audible rushing pulse began. Allowing his lips to leave the head as it began to violently erupt, instead focusing on Zevran's broad shaft, while his fingers continued their work, a groan that ended in a rolling growl surging in time with the upwelling of seed.

Withdrawing slowly, carefully, as Zevran shuddered while scrubbing a hand over his face, Ferox licked his lips. "Zevran - I would have swallowed, I'm not that inexperienced and I've already tasted you."

The Crow moaned stretching and propping up on both elbows, "And that always is something I find enticingly pleasant. However I was...quite pent up. The velocity would not have been comfortable in all likelihood." A hand came out to cup Ferox's head and tug him close enough to kiss again. "I did not wish to risk it being unpleasant for you, amora, or being presumptuous again."

Growling, Ferox sought another kiss, before taking a path down to the pale puddle and licked it away, then gave the same treatment to the still very present erection, pleased at Zevran's hungry voice muttering in Antivan what definitely didn't sound like insults. Ferox removed and folded his own shirt, familiar, comfortable with that much, easily putting the garment near to hand, but also putting it away. The leggings were more difficult, normally Zevran was not watching, busy looking for whatever was needed. But he wouldn't reward the openness and giving with shutting the assassin out. That too was managed, and set aside carefully.

"Ferox," palm landing on his knee, squeezing it once. "May I give you some of the same relief and joy you have given me?"

There was no plan in place, hadn't been since Zevran had come back to the tent, so his words were chosen as carefully as he could make them be, "I don't want you to have to. That's not right...I mean, I don't want you to have to because you believe that there is some debt you think you owe, or repayment choice. I am happy where we are, not a tent, but you know what I mean. I'm happy with this now and I don't want to ruin anything and I don't want ME to ruin it either because I can't, won't do something you want...or hesitate to think about it for a minute. And the more I think about this, the more I need air." Even though he had started slow and steady, the last sentence stumbled and fell all over itself in an effort to escape his mouth.

Zevran touched Ferox's chin, stilling the motion, the usual firmness in place, mixed with that always dose of gentleness. "Ferox, whatever pace you are remotely comfortable with is the pace we will go, I can and will match my steps to yours. This is not you give, I give, like a child's game of tit-for-tat. There is nothing to prove to me or to yourself, as forcing something that you are not ready for at this point will only lead to discomfort. But if you wish air, pants might be necessary, and it would be a shame, as I was enjoying the view, just so you know."

A breath to steady himself, he tilted his head slightly, "To start, I like this," Ferox leaned in to kiss Zevran, who was receptive and returned it with the same steadiness he always displayed. Holding the elf's hand for a moment, Ferox pressed it flat to his chest. Breaking the kiss, "I like when you touch me as well. Beyond this we haven't gone, so starting with this is familiar...good."

With a firm tug, he was pulled back down so they were face to face as they often were for that which usually came before sleep. "Then this is certainly where we can start, amora."

Amongst the many, many things Ferox didn't understand or couldn't even begin to guess at, was why Zevran always tasted like sunlight. Even with the flux of food or sleep it was still at its core, the same. That alone made the need for air subside, because like in the Deep Roads, he was the air and the light. A leg slowly tangled with his, Ferox noticed that, felt it, felt the bare skin against his own, the foot curling around his calf by tucking the arch over the widest part of the muscle, the light bump of a knee against his, the hand at his hip moving them gradually closer together. Moist hardness pressed near his aching need that he had only occasionally, almost furtively satisfied during the Crow's morning watch, and only of late, begun some time between the now and leaving the Deep Roads. Almost always with the thought of sunlight in his mouth, that brief press once, a whispered 'amora' were the last things to send him over. More recently he had thought of other things, of a strong finger, but instead of what had happened, it was a jumble of everything, until he could no longer think and relief spilled out.

Once there, hands roved, pulling Ferox's braid fully undone, a very pleased purr issuing from a bronze throat that was echoed, and Ferox pushed an arm beneath Zevran, drawing him tighter. Several purposeful rockings of hips and he had to tear his mouth away, needing to hear those noises the elf had made earlier, while hoping for another murmured endearment. Pushing soft hair away from an ear, a lobe was taken between teeth, pressing lightly until he heard a hitch in breathing, fingers tightening in his hair, flexing. A hand snaked down Ferox's side, rubbing and grasping as his tongue slithered over the Crow's ear.

"Amora," groaned in the light of the lantern, a mass of blond hair and brown skin all Ferox could see through his hooded eyes, the assassin's hand working between them. "Amora, I need to touch you, to feel you like this," the grasp sure around Ferox's length, holding it together with his own.

Shuddering at the direct contact, the intent was there, undeniable. So was the want. Even as hotly as it burned, the sun was steady in his arms, and Ferox only sought out the mouth that said things that frightened and thrilled him. In that instant he probably would have done anything asked, but nothing more than the proposed stroking happened, to go with the more familiar things. Rumbling as Zevran pleasured them both, Ferox wanted more but didn't know how to ask for it or how to think or how to cope with more. Focusing on the slick tongue and the way the hand felt holding them together, Ferox was surprised when Zevran tore his mouth away, the earlier heard low moan that ended in a growl came as viscous, hot fluid poured over the massaging hand and his own cock. There was something about the way it sounded, and dazedly he realized just how much the Antivan had been muffling and holding himself back.

The thought that just that had sent Zevran over made Ferox feel slightly crazed. For whatever reason that vibrant creature wanted him, had found that strong of a release with him. When hands had travelled and roamed, pressing him back, mouth following a straight path, he didn't think to protest or even want to. Long tongue gathered and licked away the spilled seed, lips pressing to his throbbing desire, having held himself in check, too busy experiencing to fully let go, then he was being devoured in a long swallow, a nose pressed into his pubic hair, a low noise sending steady vibrations along his length before withdrawing to lick and swirl before sinking down again. If he died there, it would be happy, as he was in a blast of sunlight, consuming him and burning without pain.