They walked the cliffs of the wounded coast for most of the day cleaning out various Tal Vashoth from the beaches and caves. The sun was high in the sky, the heat intense on their backs, and the four men were exhausted. Hawke and Fenris stayed ahead of the group, engaging in combat as Varric and Sebastian held back, raining arrows down on the groups that attacked the warriors from a distance.
When the latest group of horned men was down and Hawke was busy looting the bodies, Sebastian turned to Varric, a curious expression on his face. "Varric, may I ask you something?"
The dwarf looked up at Sebastian, shielding his eyes with his hand. "Make it quick choir boy, your armor is blinding me in this light."
Sebastian laughed at Varric; perhaps not realizing it wasn't a joke. "I was thinking, if you have time, I could give you a few archery pointers."
Varric nearly choked on the hidden liquor in his water skin. "Excuse me? Wait, let me make sure I heard you correctly...maybe your shiny armor is affecting my hearing as well. Did you say you wanted to give me some archery pointers?"
Sebastian nodded with a smile on his face, clearly missing the rising anger in the dwarf. "I've noticed sometimes your shots veer a little left. I thought maybe your cocking ring was off. I could take a look if you like."
"I don't care how chaste you are choir boy, you are not touching Bianca's cocking ring," Varric warned. "Besides, she doesn't need any adjusting. And tips from you? I think I'll pass." Varric began gathering arrows from the area as Sebastian tightened the string on his bow, wondering how his offer to help offended the dwarf.
Another group of Tal Vashoth came upon them; Hawke and Fenris ran right for them. Sebastian climbed a few rocks on the ridge to get a better angle at the surrounding area and found his target. Placing an arrow gently against the string of his bow, he pulled back, aimed, and released. The arrow went soaring through the air and landed straight in his targets skull, knocking him backwards. "Did you see that shot?" he yelled down to Varric.
Varric muttered something under his breath but didn't respond to the archer. "Come on Bianca, let's show that preacher what you're made of." He opened up on two men approaching Fenris from the south, Bianca pushing out three arrows evenly in a row, each one hitting its intended target. "That's my girl," Varric said as he reloaded.
"I have another in my sights!" Sebastian called as another arrow flew over Varric and impaled the enemy. Three more targets fell within the seconds it took for Varric to prepare his crossbow. "I am good, aren't I?"
Varric felt his blood boiling at the way Sebastian seemed to be taunting him. This was nothing new for the two rogues. Every day seemed to be a competition between the two. Varric was certain Hawke only took the both of them to see how far each fight would get. It always began innocently enough, one encouraging the other. On the outside, it seemed like they were friends, not rivals.
But the competition would always heat up before either realized it. A few off-handed comments and it was on, one constantly trying to outdo the other. If Sebastian took down one, Varric needed two. When Varric managed three, Sebastian would open up a rain of arrows and take down more. The fact that their friends were in a dangerous situation meant nothing to the rogues, or so it appeared.
The most recent attack was finished, and Varric was not happy. It was an even numbered group, and normally Hawke and Fenris had their own competition, so things remained balanced. But Hawke had managed to take down two at once, leaving Sebastian the victor with seven kills to Varrics six.
When they began the walk back to Kirkwall to see the Arishok, Varric stomped his feet behind the three, obviously annoyed. Sebastian dropped back and asked Varric why he was suddenly in a sour mood.
Varric refused to look at Sebastian, running through various tales in his head of killing the man, and Sebastian could see the scowl on his face. "You know Varric, when you hold onto anger, it colors everything you do."
"I don't remember asking for your opinion choir boy," Varric said, the heat making him even more agitated. "I would've had you, you know," he said after a minute. "If Hawke hadn't taken that one out, we'd be even."
Sebastian laughed. "Is that what this is about? I didn't realize we were competing for dominance here."
Varric shook his head. "It's not dominance choir boy, it's principal. Physics. Mechanics. Crossbows are better than long bows."
"Is it not enough they are both bows and do the same for our friends by keeping them safe?" Sebastian asked the dwarf. "It shouldn't be a competition on who does more if what we do helps them survive."
Varric scoffed. "You keep telling yourself that. But whenever you and I are beside those two? It's on, every time."
Sebastian seemed honestly confused by Varrics statement. "If it's the spotlight you seek Varric, I'd be more than happy to pull back and let you win."
Varric stopped walking and faced Sebastian, ready for the full-on confrontation. "Isn't it against your Maker to have such an ego? You're going to 'let me win'? I got news for you choir boy; you may spit out more arrows than Bianca, but every one she sends out hits. I don't care if you take down fifty nugs in the middle of a sewer; it'll never be as clean as me."
Hawke stood a few paces away from them listening to the argument. "Are you going to stop them," Fenris asked him.
Hawke laughed. "Why should I? If they want to have a pissing contest in the middle of the Wounded Coast who am I to stop them?"
Varric heard their discussion and walked away from Sebastian, moving ahead of the group. Fenris followed behind him, and Hawke followed up the rear to talk to Sebastian. "You know he is very protective of Bianca," Hawke told him. "You probably shouldn't insult her like that."
Sebastian looked at Hawke with wide blue eyes. "All I did was offer to give him some pointers and maybe make a slight adjustment."
Hawke laughed at Sebastian's naivety. "Do you really not realize what you're doing," Hawke asked him, wondering if that was the root of the problem to begin with. "It's the only reason I have you both with me on most days; it's fun to watch I must admit."
Sebastian sighed. "I fail to see the harm in offering assistance to a friend."
"Is he a friend?" Hawke asked curiously. "The only things you two ever talk about are bows and arrows and how many targets you hit. What do you know about him other than the fact that he's a dwarf with a crossbow?"
Sebastian opened his mouth to answer and then stopped walking, realizing Hawke was right. He didn't know much about Varric at all. Every conversation he could recall was either about Hawke, fighting, or insults. Sure it was fun sometimes and they often laughed together, but the sad truth was Sebastian didn't' know him. And Varric knew even less about Sebastian.
Interupting their conversation was three arrows that came zipping at top speed towards Sebastian. One landed to the left of his feet, the other to the right, and the third dead center in the middle of both his boots. He looked up at Varric, who had Bianca aimed straight at him. "I guess you're right choir boy, she does need some adjusting. I meant to hit you." The dwarf turned around and continued walking away from them, Fenris chuckling beside him.
Hawke saw the realization hit his face and slapped him on the back. "You'll be alright Sebastian. The Maker forgives you for being overly cocky. Varric on the other hand, it may take him a little longer."