Varric arrived late and seemingly reluctant, but Fellon still got the impression it was important even if he had less dealings with the other man than Douglas did. The envelope loosely in the shorter man's grip wasn't putting him at ease either. When it was handed over, the warning of not looking was accepted, although it obviously hadn't been heeded, and Fellon quickly dismissed his brother's partner. There was a look of relief, but the order wasn't accepted in an instant. The same reluctant gait that brought the man in carried him back out. Fellon waited until he was alone, staring at the new package in his hand. Varric had probably barely made it through the hall to the entry after one moment of managed sanity before Fellon disregarded advice.
He didn't know how he got through the small stack of photos, each one falling to the floor from trembling fingers before a new image of his brother assaulted him. Fellon stood quiet after he was shaking too hard to hold anything and everything fell to the floor. His chest was so constricted he couldn't breathe, and he was left lightheaded. Images overlapped and bled into one another until he couldn't tell himself ones from his own head from the ones scattered on the floor.
Silent screaming rang through his head, muffled by time and the fact it never had escaped. Fellon was rooted in place with pictures scattered on the floor. Suddenly, he snapped, lashing out at his piles of paperwork and everything else on his desk.
Blind fury was interrupted only by the screaming that was no longer contained inside his head. It startled him at first; the only sounds that had escaped him were grunts of aggression and heavy breathing. No, the external screaming was coming from upstairs. Turning, he barely registered his brother's orderly side of the office was still as it should be as he tore out of the room and up the stairs three at a time with long legged strides, reckless but expedient.
The screaming had stopped by the time Fellon got to his brother's door, but there was still clear sobbing on the other side. Fellon didn't stop to think, simply going in. "What happened?" He stared accusingly at the blond who was failing in an attempt to soothe but not touch and talking in hushed tones.
Anders threw his own exasperated statement back over a thin shoulder. "I don't know. He was asleep, and then, he woke up screaming." Anders turned back to the other man in the bed, done for the moment with the intruder.
Douglas was warding him off, and sobbing uncontrollably. The tears only seemed to get worse when he realized his brother was in the room.
Fellon just glared at the back of Anders. "What did you do? He hadn't made a noise like that since the day…" Fellon's eyes flicked back to his brother, a moment. "Since the day I went to talk to you."
Anders didn't turn, answering hotly, "I told you. I didn't do anythin'."
Douglas was staring at Fellon, limp and sobbing. The older twin seemed rooted in place, and after a moment his eyes went wide. The apparent knot Fellon swallowed down looked like it could have choked an elephant, but it couldn't be heard over the tears.
"Did you touch him?" Fellon was still staring at Douglas.
Anders was glaring back when blue eyes finally flicked to him. "No."
"Did you try hitting him?"
"Why the hell would I do that?"
Fellon stared at Douglas for a long minute before turning and storming out of the room. He needed to think.
Anders continued to glare at the back, and then, the closed door. When the sound of crying a few seconds later settled back in, the glare relaxed into a frown. With a useless slump of not being able to do anything but sit there, Anders turned back around. When Douglas had started screaming, Anders had almost hit the ceiling; he had just started to doze off for the night. Douglas had never done it before, at least not with Anders. Freaking out and crying yes, but not screaming like that.
Douglas' voice startled him, still cracked and gasping even though the sobbing had mostly died down, "I could feel it."
Anders was confused. "Feel what?"
It took a moment for Douglas to explain, and Anders had to concentrate hard to understand what was being said in a whisper, "I could- could feel it. Fellon. The pain. Not like I could before. This time I understood it." The words sounded like they were choking him as he went on, "because it happened to me. Happened to us both."
Anders didn't know whether to press further to make sure he correctly understood what was being said. Anders had his own suspicions although he had never had them actually confirmed. He cleared his throat and asked softly, "Are you… sure?"
Douglas looked at him a second before he glared up at the ceiling. "What, don't believe both of us now?"
"That is not-"
"Fellon wasn't always like this. Testy and a jerk, sure, but he was small when my parents sent him to military school. Even still, he could throw a punch." Douglas snorted and clicked his jaw like he knew from experience.
Anders didn't comment about his own knowledge of the statement. "Why was he sent there?"
Douglas sighed and hopped out of bed, pacing the floor in agitation for several seconds, and then, looked at Anders again. After a few moments of contemplation, he glanced away again before he answered. "When we reached middle school, it was very easy to pretend he was just my cousin. My hair had changed color. I was bigger. We didn't dress the same; have the same interests or friends. Same… anything." There was a short pause. "And what was a nerd to a jock?"
Douglas grimaced, far more at himself than anything else. "I was embarrassed of my own twin. As we got older, the schools got bigger, people move, and it was easy to play it off. Right before high school started, he overheard me say I was just his cousin. I don't know who I was talking to, probably in the middle of trying to impress some girl." Douglas shook his head. "When I got home, we got in an argument about it. It turned physical, rolling across the kitchen floor. He was angry and a lot tougher than he looked, but I didn't want to fight back, not really, but I would have had to. There was a knife handle sticking out just past the counter, and I don't know why I did, but I thought if I could get it, I could get out of this. This would be over. No real harm done. So, I did. At some point in grabbing it and bringing it down, I connected with his face." Douglas ran his finger across his cheek in the same position Fellon's scar was.
The tears still close to the surface bubbled over again. "I hadn't meant to hurt him, touch him at all, but he took the 'hint' and jumped back. We both scrambled to our feet again, shocked. I turned to run, but he lunged after me, and I fell on the knife." The hand that had traced the cheek moved to cover Douglas' own scar.
"It was an accident though."
Douglas nodded. "But by the time I could tell them that myself, it was too late."
"At first, no one really believed it was an accident, just me trying to protect him. With his history of getting into fights and breaking bones, my parents said it was school or jail. They opted for the school, thinking it actually stood some chance of helping him with his issues."
Still agitated, Douglas glared at Anders. "What do you think?"
Anders wilted a little, but pushed a bit anyway, professional hazard maybe. "But what, that was fifteen, twenty years ago?"
Douglas jerked away, walking towards the blackened night outside the large window. "And? Do you think I am going to get over this?"
Anders looked away for a moment, collecting himself. After a couple seconds, he crawled off the bed and joined the other man at the window. "I- I hope so. I hope given enough time, we can get through this."
Douglas scoffed, "We? What we?"
Anders flinched visibly, both in peripheral and reflection. Douglas slumped in dejection. Anders bit at his lip, directing his own gaze to the floor. "We because I love you, then and still. We because I saw it. Because I left you there. For the way I acted. We because I don't know how you are ever going to forgive me; how I am going to forgive myself." Anders swallowed. "I can only hope in terms of we, because I know when you kick me to the curb, I am going to deserve it."
Douglas turned suddenly, tilting Anders' chin to look up at him. "That is not why I want you to leave." Douglas' other hand reached up to smooth back some of the shoulder-length blond hair, gaze tracing after his own hand before jerking to follow a tear slipping down Anders' cheek. The hand still resting against Anders' hair reached over and wiped away the tear. "Hey, don't do that. Nothing is your fault."
Anders had started to protest and cry, but Douglas cut him off, wrapping his arms around the smaller man. "It's not your fault. I don't even want to think about what would have happened had you stayed or tried to stop them. So, don't blame yourself. You did nothing, so nothing to forgive."
Anders returned the hug, but still protested, "But that's what you need to forgive, my doing nothing. The way I acted after, the way I treated you."
"Stop. You have been here for weeks, taking care of me. Puking and flailing, sweating, screaming and sobbing. So stop. If it weren't for you, I will still be drowning and mostly on my way to pickled." Douglas paused a moment. "Or maybe worse."
Anders tightened his grip, and whispered, "Don't say that."
Even if it was true, that didn't mean he wanted to hear it, and Douglas dropped it because of Anders' tone. He sounded scared. Douglas could have kicked himself for remembering now death has already taken so many in Anders' life. Not that Douglas needed that extra bit of guilt added to his plate. He still knew if that was the only way to make Anders safe, he would do it.
Fellon went up to his private gym attached to his bedroom. Fenris was the only other person allowed to use it, and even then, only with permission. Fellon locked the door, stripping his shirt as he stalked across the floor, slapping at the buttons on his iPod mount. Immediately, the room was filled with a hard, pounding beat of a song Fellon didn't really know, but had heard a bit of and thought it would make a good addition to his workout playlist.
It didn't take Fellon long to work himself into a vicious sweat. He didn't remember moving from machine to machine; all he could focus on was the pounding beat of the music combating with the pounding in the back of his head, that pain that usually had him locking himself in his bedroom pursuit of other means of escape.
One picture kept coming to mind. It was a clear shot of the three of them; Douglas' grimace, long fingers of his female "partner" tangled in his hair to view his expression while the third member had their back arched behind Douglas, obviously driving deep. Really, some of those photos couldn't have been taken better if they'd been promotional for a porn movie. Fellon knew anyone would see that expression and think Douglas was enjoying himself. Fellon understood that expression very well, and it was as far from enjoyment as someone could get…
"That's right, little Hawke, take it. Two is better than one, isn't it, slut..?"
"It… it hurts..."
A backhand to the face had him seeing stars and tasting blood. "Keep your mouth shut or I'll find a cock for it, too…."
Fellon blinked back to the present to find he'd somehow moved from bench-pressing to pummeling one of his practice dummies, and sand was spilling onto the floor, apparently from a punch to the dummy's "face" that had partially ripped the neck. He couldn't remember moving. Obviously this wasn't working at all. He was shaking as he went across the floor and slapped his iPod into silence. No, not working a bit. He dug his fingers into the back of his head, trying to will the pounding pain away, trying to quiet down the screaming... so much screaming.
Fellon glanced toward his bedroom door. He wanted to lock himself away, seal himself up in his room and make the screaming be quiet, but he couldn't. He couldn't do that right now, not with Douglas in the state he was in. What if he was needed? What if something happened? He couldn't just leave Douglas alone.
Fellon's hand came into focus in front of him. He was clenching a rather surprising hunk of silvery white-blond hair in his trembling fist. He hadn't even registered the pain of that much hair being ripped from his scalp. He needed to calm down, that was all; just calm down a little. He could calm down and not be useless. There were ways.
After a shower that was hot enough to leave his skin with a reddish tint, Fellon made his way downstairs, staggering a bit as his head threatened to explode. There was a 'communal stash' in the den, because, honestly, the entire gang had more issues than a magazine stand, and occasionally, one person or the other just needed to relax a bit. Douglas stuck to his bottles, but perhaps that would change now. Maybe if Fellon just took a little while to unwind a bit, maybe the screaming would die down in his head and he'd be able to tell the difference between his waking nightmares and his brother's.
They had relaxed into each other in front of the darkened expanse of the window, both guarding their secret knowledge. Douglas' being he would do anything to protect this man while Anders would do anything to save him.
Douglas' chest squeezed and twisted painfully. He had to stop putting Anders through this, no matter how much he wanted the dreams they had shared, because that was all they could be: just dreams. Weddings and kids, romantic getaways, gray hair and shared memories; it was never going to happen for Douglas. His days were numbered, and he would be damned if was going to take Anders down with him. He couldn't be like Fellon and the others, all going out in a spectacular blaze of glory with one last kiss to see them to the other side of wherever the void took them. He just couldn't.
"Anders, I-" Douglas pressed away slightly, looking down into brown eyes now searching his own. He had wanted to say how much he had appreciated Anders had done the last few weeks, but that it would really probably be best for him now if Anders did leave. Those amber eyes were looking up at him so hopefully, so expectantly, the words stuck in his throat though.
He was further stupefied when lips pressed against his own. It didn't happen in a rush; Douglas had just been lost in the gaze and his own feelings of drowning to recognize what was happening. His brain went into meltdown caused by the overload.
After a few moments, he was able to push Anders away by grabbing his upper arms, but Douglas still could only stare stupidly. Everything he wanted was right here in one blond man with only further torment of everything he didn't. He couldn't force words past his lips, or thoughts to form sentences. Eventually, he did the only thing he could and turned away, walking away from the confusion and the hurt starting to bubble from the pools of amber he had been drowning in.
Fingers snarled in large, thick curls that had raked through in a normal attempt to quiet but only added to the dishevelment. A style that now startled Douglas every time he glanced in the mirror but had yet to change, because nothing about the reflection looking back seemed to be him. Some haunted thing, vaguely resembling some long forgotten boy normally hidden within the seams of an expensive suit. Behind him, Anders started to apologize, but Douglas shook his head. "I need to be alone. Maybe… try to go back to sleep." He didn't know how he would even attempt it, his insides felt like he was stuck in a tornado, being pulled in every direction but back to the ground where he needed to be to sort all this out.
"Douglas, I really am sorry. I don't know what came over me-"
"I don't need an apology. Just… some space." Douglas glanced over his shoulder minutely as Anders had come forward a little while he was talking. He didn't choose to hold it though, looking down at the floor instead with sagging frail shoulders and arms that hung limply from them. "Please?"
The defeat in the room hung heavy, and Anders nodded at no one in particular as he looked around bewildered before heading straight for the door. There was barely an audible click behind him when the door closed, his mind screaming at him for being so stupid and racing as to what he should do now. Find an empty bed to bury his tears in? Ask for a car so he could do it in the privacy of his own bed for a change? Just call a cab and try to forget everything about this house?
Instead his feet carried himoff to the stairs, just like they normally have of late when his thoughts were turbulent, to the family room and the TV where he could stare at the screen and lose himself. Down the stairs and past the twinkling clear lights of the Christmas tree Anders barely glanced at on his path to the couch.
Before he had reached the darkened den, the smell of smoke overwhelmed him. Not that it was any sense overpowering, but more unexpected. This didn't exactly seem like a house anyone would be particularly allowed to do such a thing, all pointing to potential damage. Not cigarette smoke either: pot.
He peeked in and found Fellon lounging on the couch, his shock of platinum hair easily visible when one looked, smoking a joint. Anders waffled in the frame, debating about going to hide somewhere else, the kitchen maybe. If he dug hard enough, he could probably find something worth eating.
Anders was turning to go when Fellon spoke, "Bethany used to hit him when he freaked out from what I gathered."
Anders sighed a little at having being discovered, but it didn't feel right to continue on his way. He turned back and paused back in the frame, thinking over what he was told. "Did that happen often?"
There was a grunt, followed by an agitated, "How should I know?"
Anders frowned and again contemplated leaving, but for some reason he didn't. He joined Fellon on the couch instead. "I just lowered the dosages on his meds; maybe I did it too soon." He looked at Fellon for a comment but there wasn't one. Anders also didn't think that was the only factor especially to now find the other twin indulging. "Unless… something happened?"
The denial came too quickly for Anders to fully believe, but it was certainly clear it wasn't up for discussion, whatever it was. He also didn't think telling Fellon what Douglas told him would be very helpful. Anders sighed, "I just wish I knew how to help him."
"Dougie doesn't like doctors. Well… Usually. I guess you're special." Fellon smirked if he had just told a joke.
Anders ran his hands gruffly across his face. "I just don't understand. When he looks at me, I see it. That he loves me." Anders trailed off for a moment, going over the statement in his mind and wondering if he was wrong before he went on. "But there is hurt, too. Like it pains him to be in love with me. I just don't… understand."
Fellon took a hit off his joint, holding it in for a long while as if he wasn't going to respond or was really even paying attention to what the other man had said.
Anders settled back further into the sofa, his head back and staring up at the ceiling of the darkened room. He didn't know why he told Fellon that, why he bothered. He didn't exactly expect a response, but for some reason it disappointed him he didn't get one.
Almost a minute passed, and a sharp exhale filled the room with smoke. When Fellon did respond, his voice was a little gruffer than normal, "You're a distraction."
Anders frowned. He still couldn't pretend he understood anything about what went on in this house even after being here for weeks. He didn't figure these to be normal circumstances even for this place filled with questions that never went answered. "A problem. I know. He told me."
Fellon's lips twisted into something of a humored smile as he inhaled again. The breath wasn't held as long this time and let out in with a, "Kinda, ya." Anders only frowned harder, but Fellon didn't notice. The room went silent again, and Anders let it this time. He wasn't quite sure he wanted to know any more of what Fellon had meant. Just being thought of as a problem by his lover was bad enough, but to have everyone else seem to know it and the reasons why that he couldn't figure out didn't make it any easier. A minor tilt of his head allowed Anders to take a glance at Fellon. Blue eyes were staring back unexpectedly, considering him. Fellon was always calculating something when he looked at Anders, but Anders never knew what.
Perhaps he was still trying to figure out if he had done anything to Douglas. Anders looked back at the ceiling in irritation. Why did he even come down here? He didn't have anything to prove to this man, but it seemed that was the reason why he did it. As if lying at Douglas' side for weeks wasn't enough. The fact was he had actually initiated comfort on his own. Not that Fellon knew that. Or that he had forced himself on Douglas after; Maker he was an idiot.
"It's not justa bad thing, ya know."
Anders had been lost to his own thoughts, and barely caught he had been spoken to. "What?" He looked back at the blue eyes, the expression effected by the drug being used.
"Being a distraction. It's a good and bad thing; complicated." Fellon shrugged, but he appeared to be a little amused by Anders' predicament.
Complicated. That was a word Anders was starting to understand well even if not at all when it came to this family. "Good how?"
"His job. His life." Fellon looked up at the ceiling for a moment, contemplating. "They suck. He needs a distraction, something good. That's you."
Anders pondered the unexpected compliment for a few moments before asking, "And bad?"
"Like I said, Doc. Our life sucks. Who wants to bring someone they love into that?"
The room grew silent again as Anders tried to understand the meaning of what was said, but for some reason, he felt he couldn't ask anymore about it. Douglas always seemed to be open with him, genuinely so, but there was something that was being held back. They were all holding something back. It was just a vibe he got that he couldn't explain. Something even Nate seemed to know, or at least thought he did, that Anders didn't. "Can I ask you something?"
"Maybe." Fellon took one more hit from his joint, and then put it out. His demeanor changed a little too, like a guard had went up.
Anders couldn't help but feel like Fellon was getting ready to walk out, and it gave him pause to enough to wonder if he really should ask. Maybe he should ask Douglas, since he had brought it up. Fellon looked at him though expectantly, waiting for the question to which there might not be an answer provided. "Why do you and Douglas say you are just cousins?" If it caused such problems before, why would they still be doing it now?
Fellon seemed a bit surprised, a curve from the previous discussion Anders knew he couldn't get answers to. This he had been made privy to, one of the privileged few. Fellon mulled over his response, but did finally give one, "It's just safer is all." When Anders prodded further for an explanation, Fellon raked his hand through his hair, but relented if not agitatedly. "I don't know. It's just… safer. Safer for everyone to think we just happen to be related and hate each other. Safer for him."
"I just don't understand this safer business. Safer how? Like he'd be in danger if people knew."
Fellon looked at him in all seriousness, any hint of amusement that had been there before gone now. "That's exactly what it means. If the Coterie thought for one moment they could take us both down, they would do it. Can you think of a simpler way than that? Right now, he's the shadow I always have to watch out for. The heir to overthrow the king…." Fellon swallowed and muttered on, "Everything would change if anyone knew."
Anders frowned. Was any of that supposed to make sense to him? Settling grumpily into the cushions, he mumbled back, "That doesn't sound like Douglas."
Fellon snorted, nonplussed, "Then you don't know Douglas."
"Or you don't."
"Look, I know my brother, okay? A little too well, and way more than I would like. What I said, that's what he's supposed to be. And everything was working out just fine until you came along. So, what is it about you? What makes you worth risking everything for?"
Fellon was studying him again, but this time through a squint. Anders swallowed. How was it he could pick a fight so easily with Fellon, but Douglas had him melting with just a look? The tone of the words had him believing there was something to what Fellon was saying though. "I- I don't know."
"Neither do I. And neither does Douglas." Fellon flopped back against the sofa. "Speaking of… Don't you have work you should be doing. Like maybe finding a way for him not to freak out again. That's why you are here, isn't it?"
That stung more than it should have with the added knowledge Fellon might actually know what he was talking about in regards to Douglas' thoughts and feelings. Anders jumped to his feet though. "I'm here because I love him, and right now, he needs me. Even if none of you assholes want to admit it."
Fellon frowned, but Anders didn't care as he stalked out of the room. Anders was half way to the stairs when Fellon called after him. "Hey, Doc?"
Anders swung around, stormily about to tell the other man to piss off, but something stopped him. There was a sag to the other man outside of being somewhat relaxed. All Anders offered was a guarded, "What?"
A tan hand twisted against the frame, fidgeting with a steeled grip. "He does need you." The hand slipped down the wood before the other man continued, "And I need him."
With that, Fellon turned back into the darkened family room, leaving Anders bewildered and without words. He sat down heavily on the stairs, stuck in a limbo between a brother who didn't want him around and the other he couldn't be, staring into the twinkling lights of the Christmas trees that blurred in his vision through tears.