Disclaimer: All hail BioWare

Cake

This is a bad idea.

The Tevinter skulked through Darktown, green eyes raking the shadows, scowling at anyone who looked in his direction. Under his arm, he carried a small box wrapped in fine red paper and tied with a dark, indigo ribbon.

Halfway through the warren of dirty streets and reaching hands, a clump of Coterie rogues leapt out and attacked the lone warrior. Fenris grimaced, pulled his blade, and lay about himself with great, sweeping blows. Carefully, with the grace of a dancer, he kept his precious burden upright and protected, though it hindered his two-handed style. Once, he nearly succumbed to a back stab, but a well-timed spirit pulse sent the rogues flying and stunned them long enough for the elf to dispatch them.

When the battle was over, Fenris looted a handful of coins and a ring that Aveline or Hawke might like. He checked his little box, straightened the ribbon, and continued on.

It was early morning, early enough that the clinic wouldn't be too busy and Hawke was less likely to come by looking for Anders. Bad enough that Fenris was here at all, but if anyone saw him...

Anders' lantern was unlit. Fenris edged up to one of the doors, glanced about to ensure that no one but the usual lyrium-addled bum was about, and knocked.

There was a long silence from within. Fenris narrowed his eyes, gritted his teeth and knocked again.

There was another silence.

Finally, the Tevinter tapped into his lyrium strength and wrenched the door open. The lock snapped off of the rotten wood. He kicked it away and then flinched when a cat hissed at him. The lithe little creature, her fur red and orange and mottled like flames, scampered past him and disappeared through a chink in a nearby wall.

Fenris shook his head and slipped through the door.

"Anders!" he barked into the dark clinic. A low lamp glowed in a corner of the wide, low-ceilinged room, turning the beds and tables into shadowy hulks. The air was dusty, scented by the drying herbs hanging from the rafters. Somehow, it managed to chase away the reek of desperation from the rest of Darktown. One of those herbs even relaxed the hard edge of Fenris' unease.

From the depths of the clinic, Fenris heard a rustle and a low mutter.

"What?" The mutters resolved into a string of grumbled swears. "What, what, is this about potion ingredients again? Hawke, I'm going to start demanding donations if you wake me up-" The apostate stopped in the doorway to a back room, fastening his pants and looking up through a loose feathering of blond hairs. "Er. Fenris?"

Fenris shifted uncomfortably. The package under his arm felt too light, too unimportant. Suddenly, he wanted desperately not to be there. "I have a donation," he said awkwardly. He pulled out the coins and dropping them, rattling, on a nearby table.

"Is something wrong?" The apostate finished with his pants, straightened, and ran his fingers back through his hair. He was shirtless and barefoot, flushed from sleep. He blinked into the darkness with his inferior human eyes and then paced toward his lamp. "I, uh, never expected to see you here alone. Do you need anything?" With a gentle tweak, he encouraged the tiny ember into a full flame.

"No," Fenris replied flatly. I shouldn't be here. The thought gnawed at him like an animal.

"Well..." The mage rested a hip against an empty examination table and folded his arms. His expression wavered somewhere between confusion and irritation. "Then what are you doing here?"

"I know about you." The words came out as a growl, probably more ominous than Fenris intended.

Anders flinched. "Um. What do you know?"

"Everything."

"Everything?" The mage scratched the back of his head and looked about nervously. "You... you know?"

"Varric told me."

"Oh... Flames take him." He turned, scrubbed his face, hand on his hip and staring at the floor. "That... that blighted fool. What was he thinking?" When he glanced back up, Fenris was startled by the lines of despair on the man's drawn face. "I mean... I mean, Andraste's hairy mole, Fenris, it's not like I wanted you to know! It doesn't mean anything! I wasn't going to, to do anything!"

Fenris blinked. "Um."

"It was just... idle fantasy!" The mage's hands slashed through the air in his enthusiasm. "He got me drunk! We got to talking! And, well, he asked, and I told him, and, um..." He trailed off and sank down onto a creaky wooden bench.

"What did he ask you?"

Anders' head lifted. "He didn't tell you?"

"Not... specifically."

"It was stupid. I don't even know how it came up." He spun two fingers, the universal sign of, 'This is blighted insane.' "He asked me who I'd, you know." He covered his face. "Urgh, why did you have to show up now? I have such a headache..."

Fenris' brow twitched. This was going worse than he had planned. It had started as some half-baked idea for a kind of truce, something that would help them keep Hawke alive. Now it seemed he'd stumbled on yet one more perversion in the abomination. Slowly, he said, "So, I'm that one that you would 'you know'? Is that correct?"

"Urgh."

Seeing the mage in such a state was nearly worth his own discomfort. Fenris stalked forward. He came to a halt just in front of the mage.

Anders peered up.

"Varric told me," Fenris began, "that it's your birthday today."

"WHAT?" The mage leaned away, his lips parted and eyes wide in horror.

"Happy birthday, abomination." Fenris reached out and dropped the box in the mage's lap.

Anders stared.

Fenris snorted, turned on his heel and started away.

"Uh, w-wait!" The mage hurried after him. He didn't quite touch the elf, but he reached out and nearly took Fenris' wrist. "You, uh, you didn't have to. I mean. Thank you. But, uh, you should stay. While I open it."

"I already know what's in it," Fenris commented.

Anders laughed. "I would hope so. But... It's my birthday, right? I want you to stay."

"You want a lot of things," the elf replied dryly. "You know."

The mage coloured. "Um. Well. I'm not the only one." Before Fenris could ask, the mage waved him down. "Come and sit. Please?"

After a moment of deliberation, Fenris finally sighed and nodded.

They sat near the lamp, across from each other. Fenris stretched out his legs and watched as Anders gently untied the indigo ribbon. He carefully unfolded the red paper and opened the box. Then he laughed, a little burst of uncomplicated delight.

"It's a cake," he exclaimed, lips curling.

"Yes."

"You got me a cake."

"Yes."

"For my birthday."

"I'm leaving."

"Wait, wait!" Anders, grinning like a fool, turned the box to display the small black and white delicacy. "You have to have some, too. I can't eat it alone."

"I don't want any."

"But it's my birthday."

Fenris scowled. I knew this was a bad idea. He should have just left it inside the door. Or made Anders stop talking when he revealed that little, undesirable tidbit about his conversations with Varric. Fenris didn't want to know how Anders felt. He just wanted to give him a blighted cake so he would stop forgetting to cast heroic aura on the team. Now all he could think was that, behind those warm brown eyes, the abomination's twisted brain was considering "you know" and Fenris in the same sentence.

Anders stood and the light played over his chest and stomach and Fenris accidentally thought of "you know" and Anders in the same sentence.

Blighted abomination.

He was distracted enough that he didn't flinch away when Anders straddled the bench in front of him.

"Forgive me," the mage said quietly. "I don't have much in the way of cutlery. But I do wash my hands quite often." He reached into the box and pulled out the small cake. "Hmm," he murmured, "that's a lot of icing..."

"I am not going to eat out of your hand," Fenris grumbled.

"You want to get all of this in your armour?" Anders asked, lifting an eyebrow and gesturing with the cake.

Fenris glared at him silently.

Anders smiled and took a bite. After a moment of chewing, he hummed and said, slightly muffled, "It's good!"

"It should be," the elf muttered, "I got it in Hightown."

"You shouldn't have," the mage said, still grinning. "But I'm glad you did. I... haven't had chocolate in a very, very long time. Try it."

When Anders shoved it at his face, Fenris had to choose between accepting it and slapping it away. It had been an expensive little thing, so he yielded and bit into the pastry.

The icing was sweet enough that it nearly burned as it washed across his tongue. The cake itself was slightly bitter, but with a tang of citrus. The layer of saucy cherries had been soaked in some kind of liquor; the warmth of it bloomed up into his nose. It was a rich, complex flavour, and left him wanting more, once he'd worked it around in his mouth and let it trickle down his throat.

"It's good, isn't it?" Anders delicately nibbled on it and his eyes drooped as he savoured the tiny mouthful.

Fenris licked his lips, eyed the cake and agreed. "Yes, it is." He... really did want more, now that he'd tasted it. Watching Anders eat it just made him want it with greater urgency.

"Do you want more?" the mage tilted his head.

"I..." Fenris didn't especially want to vocalize this.

"Here." Anders edged closer, until their knees nearly touched. He leaned forward and offered the slowly diminishing pastry.

Fenris, grudgingly, eyes slitted, leaned in to take a bite.

Of course, the mage did something stupid and nearly dropped it. In his fumbling, he managed to smear a good bit of the cherry sauce over Fenris' lips, chin, cheek and the blade of his jaw.

"Oh, Maker, I am so sorry, Fenris!" Anders hurriedly set aside the cake and tried to help.

"Don't touch me," Fenris snapped, batting away Anders' icing-coated fingers.

He was too forceful. A moment later, Anders had a thick blotch of icing on the skin between his pectorals.

The two men stared at each other blankly.

It was hard to tell who started it. Either Fenris didn't want to give up any of that delectable icing or Anders didn't want to be the only one coated in the stuff. Fenris threw off his gauntlets so he could use his hands. Anders lunged forward to sneak a lick off of Fenris' chin. The elf responded with a snarl, buried his hands in the mage's loose hair and bent the human backwards so he could swipe his tongue over Anders' chest.

Anders laughed, squirmed, and fought back, fumbling with the fastenings of Fenris' armour. "Stop it, elf! That tickles!" When he managed to get at some of the dark, tattooed skin, he grabbed a handful of cake and smeared it on.

Fenris reared back. His breastplate hung off on one side and his jerkin gaped open. Under the icing, cherries and pastry streaked from clavicle to navel, his tattoos started to glow. He scowled. Anders blinked up at him guiltily.

"Do you know how much that cost?" Fenris asked, low and dangerous.

"Um."

"Clean it up."

The mage stared. Then he smiled and purred, "Happy birthday to me."

He pounced. Fenris fell back with a grunt. They hit the floor.

Varric was a kind and considerate friend. After winning several hands against Hawke and taking most of her money, he went out and bought a thoughtful, cat themed gift for the apostate mage. Then, sometime in the afternoon, once he'd shaken the cobwebs out of his skull, he wandered down to Anders' clinic.

Strangely, the doors were closed and the lantern was dead. The dwarf approached, curious and slightly concerned. Had the templars finally dragged the mage away?

He knocked and found that one of the doors had been wrenched open. This was even more worrisome. Just in case, Varric readied Bianca for battle.

Within, all was quiet. But there were signs of a fight. Furniture was overturned, the floor was scorched, and he saw the glitter of discarded armour. Elsewhere, there were smears of something dark and moist.

Varric crept through, toward Anders' living quarters. Then he stopped.

"Andraste's pink knickers," he swore, suddenly feeling inadequate. "I got you a flaming cat scarf and someone already got you a Fenris?"