The chambers they'd given him at the palace were opulent and oppressive, and although Alim was keen to get out of there as soon as was humanly possible, he wasn't going to go until he was sure Zevran was well. He'd stripped the Antivan's leathers from his body, noting new scars and fresh injuries that had him shaking by the time he'd finished. A quick warning to his templar bodyguards that he would have to use healing magic and a long two hours of work later, Zevran had fallen into a deep, peaceful slumber. Alim had washed and changed into more practical clothing, packing his belongings for a trip he suspected he would be making not in his official capacity as Ferelden ambassador to Antiva, then sat and waited for Zevran to wake.

"Oh…." the elf in question rolled over on the ridiculous four poster bed. "Soffio di Dio, Alim what did you do to me?"

Alim let out a breath, then forced a smile. "Knocked you out. Then healed you. How often did you manage to get those wounds seen to?"

"I did… not."

"At all. Naturally. I'm surprised you could stand up long enough to slit that elf's throat. Seriously."

"Ah… but killing comes naturally. It invigorates the blood, as they say."

"Not of the people you kill."

"That is rather the point of being an assassin, yes." Zevran eyed him. "So you healed me while I was sleeping, yes?"

"Most of what you're suffering from now is exhaustion, you idiot. But yes. There was a slight infection in the wound on your right side, but the others are all all right. They'll scar though."

"Tut. And I do so wish to stay beautiful."

Alim's hands twitched. "Zevran, you're a complete fool."

He smiled. "But you love me anyway, no?"

Alim couldn't help it. He leaned forward and kissed Zevran, and the assassin, after a suitable interval, chuckled against his lips. "I missed you, my warden."

"Not half as much as I missed you, I'm sure," Alim said.

"You underestimate the full horror of Crow interrogations."

"Yeah, well, for me there were broodmothers."

Zevran made a face. "Broodmothers? Like the one…."

"Worse. And there were lots of them. One of them talked."

"You are jesting with me."

"I can take you back to Amaranthine and you can interrogate the other wardens, Zevran. Although, not in a… in a crow way, I quite liked them in the end."

"So you found a new group of companions. I suppose you no longer have need of one such as myself."

Alim looked at him. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes were deeper, his ribs showed clearly under the caramel skin of his chest. As he had worked on healing the assassin, his fingers had traced new scars and old, together with the whorls of his tattoo, familiar yet strange, too thin, too fragile.

"How many times have I called you an idiot in this conversation? Because I think I'm getting close to the limit."

"One can never be called an idiot too many times amora."

Alim leaned forward and kissed him, hard. Zevran's hand came up and tangled in his hair, pulling it loose from its tie and letting his fingers work down to Alim's neck. "I missed you, you insufferable prat," Alim said, pulling back just far enough so that his lips continued to touch Zevran's. "I wanted to tell the wardens to stuff it and run back here and turn over every stone in Antiva until I found you, and it turns out you were trying to… what exactly?"

Zevran's hands slid down Alim's arms to his waist, which he gripped firmly. "Do you really wish to discuss this now?"

"Oh yes."

"I do not."

"Well I'm the one who can send you to sleep again, so why don't you start talking?"

Zevran chuckled, and the sound reverberated through Alim pleasantly. So pleasantly he shut his eyes and smiled, which was, of course, a mistake. Zevran may have been tired and hungry and injured, but he was as lithe and strong as ever, and he deftly flipped Alim onto his back, crouching over him and pinning Alim's hips beneath his own, straddling him and grinning from pointed ear to pointed ear.

Not that Alim had any great problem with being trapped. He just wished he was a little less clothed. "Well now, dear heart," Zevran said, leaning forward and tickling the shell of one of Alim's ears with his breath and his tongue. "I came in search of my former employer…."


Zevran sat back, brow raised in surprise. "How do you know of Nuncio?"

"I interrogated a crow, back at the Vigil."

"And he gave you a name?"

Alim started to grin, then looked down at his hand, absently rubbing the scar that was normally covered by a glove, covering it with his other hand so that Zevran could not see it. "I was very persuasive."

Zevran frowned. "Nuncio was not my employer. Nuncio is a… lackey of his. A trained mabari. Nothing more."

"My source said he was the one they had chasing you."

"Did they? Well. No matter. Nuncio will be easy enough to deal with when the time comes."

"So you found him? The one who…" led you to kill the only woman you'd ever loved.

Zevran nodded. "Well. Let us just say that he found me first. It was not pleasant."

"How did you escape?"

Zevran spread his hands. "My dear warden, you wound me. He did not capture me, merely found me."

"He is dead then?"

"Most certainly. It would be difficult to be much deader."

"Well, that's something."

Zevran smiled and let his hands roam up Alim's torso. "Indeed."

"So why didn't you come and find me after you… dealt with him?" Alim said. "I was hardly making my location a secret."

Zevran's hands paused. "There were contracts against you. Adamo made that much clear before he died. I had to… stop them."

"You didn't manage it," Alim said. "The nobles of Amaranthine hired crows to kill me. That's where I got Nuncio's name from."

Zevran tutted and sat back. "Indeed. I was attempting to discover the exact names of those who continued to take out contracts against you. Imagine my surprise when I found it was not necessarily because of your association with me that they continued to pursue such an unprofitable contract."

Alim smiled. "Not everything is to do with you, Zevran."

"Ah, no. Much as it pains my ego to admit it. There were… others behind these contracts. The nobles in Amaranthine were one such group, but the other was more worrying."

Alim cocked an eyebrow. "Oh? You mean DiCiantis?"

Zevran waved a hand. "Pish. DiCiantis is a fool. A very wealthy one, but a fool nonetheless. He simply dislikes elves. No, the people behind the contract on you are part of the Chantry. I have not been able to discover their exact names, but I do know that the Crows have declined to take any more money from them. Obviously they believe the Chantry is being over-zealous."

"I thought Antivans were very devout?"

"Right up until the point where our lives are threatened."

"Not big on spending eternity at the side of the maker?"

"Not if we can spend many decades at the side of something more pleasurable," Zevran leaned forward until his lips were an inch from Alim's. Alim, who knew this game (and was relishing learning all the moves again) simply smirked at him, placing his palms on the small of Zevran's back and sending a bolt of healing energy through them.

Zevran fought it for a few seconds, before leaning back and gasping in pleasure. "Ah, amora. I have missed you."

"Missed me, or just this?"

"Oh, both, Alim. Both."

They didn't talk much after that.