Fenris was cleaning his sword when he heard the slow creak of the front door, heavy boots crossing the vast, empty entrance hall towards the stairs. Not Isabela, he never heard her enter when she decided to pay him a visit, nor Aveline, the tread too heavy even for a woman in armor. Since Varric was undoubtedly at the Hanged Man, already crafting their latest venture into yet another tall tale, that left one other.
Hawke had made a point to drop by every now and then, as if by agreeing to help Fenris storm the place he'd also signed up for the long haul. Fenris wasn't sure how he felt about that, but he wasn't fool enough to run off a mage willing to fight by his side, apostate or not.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Hawke paused in the doorway, taking in the soiled rags and the broadsword resting across Fenris' knees.
"Nothing that requires my undivided attention," Fenris responded easily. He watched Hawke take a seat at the table, feet stretched out in front of him and crossing at the ankle. "Has something happened?"
Hawke blinked, clearly surprised, before smiling. "We just got back from two days on the Wounded Coast, Fenris. Even you need a rest from time to time."
Fenris snorted. "Trouble waits for no man, and it tends to follow you more often than not."
"I can't really argue with that," Hawke said with a sigh.
Fenris went back to scrubbing away the bloodstains, the blade needing a thorough cleaning rather than the quick swipe he'd made due with on the clothes of the dead. It was soothing to keep his hands busy, to channel the frisson of awareness that Hawke inspired in him in these quiet moments.
"Are you aware that you've been staring at me?"
Since this was Hawke, he really should have seen that coming. Hawke was many things, and stupid was not one of them. Fenris didn't blush, which was a mercy since he had the feeling Hawke would not only notice, he would remember.
When Fenris didn't immediately respond Hawke continued, "I don't necessarily mind. My only concern is the motive behind the staring and whether or not it has anything to do with being a mage, thus the abomination waiting to happen."
Fenris decided that he was going to actually kill Varric this time. Stupid dwarf couldn't keep his mouth shut, always talking, spinning his ridiculous stories. Worse than the stories were the questions, simple enough on the surface, but with that knowing smirk that hinted at no escape, that even silence was an answer to be interpreted.
Hoping to hold off the potential headache he could feel creeping up on him, Fenris gripped the bridge of his nose, sighing. "I apologize if I have offended you. You can take comfort in the knowledge that my staring had nothing to do with you being a mage."
Hawke smiled, a flash of white in the dark of his beard. "So you don't deny that you were staring."
"I do not," Fenris admitted stiffly. "I'm afraid mine and Varric's -," he searched for a suitable word, " - discussion - yesterday left more of an impact than I had realized."
Fenris' brief hope that their brief foray into the topic of facial hair had gone unnoticed withered when Hawke's grin widened. "Wishing you had a beard of your own, Fenris?"
Fenris rolled his eyes. "Hardly. I was merely curious."
Some of Hawke's grin faded, but his eyes seemed to grow brighter with interest. "Curious?"
Fenris hesitated before taking a deep breath, looking away to conceal the flush beginning to curl along his cheeks. "Denarius had one for as long as I can remember, but as you can imagine I was," he swallowed, "hardly in the mind to explore. I don't remember my life before the lyrium, and after - " His fingers flexed, the lines of lyrium pulling across his forearms. "As I said before I have never allowed another too close. Between the markings and being an escaped slave it wasn't worth it."
He remembered his first weeks of freedom, sleeping in hovels, alleyways, a hand on his sword and one eye open. Couldn't stop moving, not with Denarius fast on his heels, wanting his investment back, to peel the lyrium off his bones if that's what it took.
Hawke remained quiet, as if sensing the turmoil that beat beneath Fenris' skin. It didn't last of course, but that was Hawke. "If you're curious, I don't mind letting you take a closer look."
Fenris turned to glare, was stopped short by the look on Hawke's face. Amusement, yes, because this was Hawke, but also something else, something that made his eyes burn, turned the loose sprawl of sitting in a chair into an invitation and challenge both.
It was as if Hawke had cast a spell, managed to reach into his blood and pull. Fenris slowly pushed to his feet, hesitated, felt his fingers curl with the urge to touch, to know, to understand this man who made him want things. Originally he'd intended to stay in Kirkwall long enough to throw off the slavers dogging his heels, then move on, but he'd stayed. It was easy to say he was waiting for Denarius, but that wouldn't be the truth, not the whole of it anyway.
"Hawke," Fenris tasted the name, curled his tongue around the sharp consonant with relish. "Your generosity is appreciated." He stepped closer, tried not to hesitate, concealing how torn he was between his ever growing fascination with the man and his innate wariness.
"I'm a giver." Hawke parted his knees in unspoken invitation when Fenris made to approach from the side. He quirked a brow, another challenge, the curve of his mouth sharp and knowing.
"Clearly." Fenris stepped between his legs, felt the heat against his knees where they almost but didn't touch. He lifted his hands, the armored fingers curling in a soft scrape of metal. "I'll remove these, shall I?"
"Only if you insist."
Fenris ignored Hawke, who had a response for everything and a grin to match. He released the catch on the inside of his wrist and then tugged the gauntlet off. Outside of their armor his fingers felt naked, vulnerable. When he looked to see where he would set it aside Hawke tugged the gauntlet out of his grasp. He made a production of looking it over, eying the sharp points of the fingers. When he saw Fenris was watching him, Hawke set it on the table in easy reach.
The second gauntlet joined the first and then Fenris' hands were bare, not unarmed, never that, but less threatening. Fenris wasn't sure why that was important, only that it was. He reached out, then stopped, took in the picture of his bare hands, the twisting lines of lyrium that curled across the back of his hand and between his fingers. Dangerous hands that could punch through flesh and bone and muscle to the softer things beneath.
Hawke knew what he could do, had seen it before, and still his head was tilted back, offering his jaw and the exposed line of this throat as if there was no doubt that Fenris wouldn't hurt him. The trust hit Fenris like a punch in the gut, a tight fist wedged beneath his breast bone that made it that much more difficult to breathe.
That tended to happen around Hawke too, that and the staring.
Fenris gently touched the sides of Hawke's neck, the skin warm beneath the tips of his fingers. He rubbed the edges of his thumbs against that warm skin, felt the steady pulse quicken, Hawke drawing in a tight breath. As Hawke's pulse sped up, Fenris' slowed down, feeling a little more at ease once he saw how Hawke was effected.
Fenris dragged his fingertips up, felt the transition from warm, smooth flesh to course hair. The contrast was mesmerizing and he dragged his fingers back and forth from smooth to course. He watched Hawke's face for telltale signs of discomfort, but he remained relaxed, tilting his chin up a little further, eyes fluttering closed.
The beard hair prickled at Fenris palms as he cupped the sharp angles of Hawke's jaw, brows drawing together in a frown as the sensation proved ticklish. He stroked his thumbs down Hawke's cheeks, following the direction of the hair.
"What do you think?" Hawke asked, his voice a low rumble of sound, tickling Fenris' fingers. "Wish you could have one of your own?"
"No. I am quite content without one." Fenris tilted his head, thumbs stroking up against the direction of the hair. "I find the sensation quite ticklish against my hands."
Hawke's face shifted beneath Fenris' fingertips as he smiled. "You should try it against your face."
Fenris' gut clenched at the thought, a punch of want and lust so strong it knocked the breath out of him. He'd thought about it, oh yes, long before Varric had begun to tease him, what it would be like to press up against Hawke and share his breath, press his fingers in hard against muscle and warm skin.
"You are a strange man, Hawke." Fenris knelt, maintaining his position between Hawke's spread legs. His fingers curled against the firm muscle of Hawke's thighs, flexing to test the strength he knew was buried beneath the skin.
"So you keep saying, but I'm guessing it doesn't bother you all that much." Hawke's legs flexed beneath Fenris' hold as he leaned closer. There was a warm puff of breath against Fenris' cheek and a slow hand reaching out to curl around the back of his neck, plenty of time to jerk back.
Fenris didn't move, allowed callused fingers to smooth across the nape of his neck. They dragged through the ends of his hair, a warm slide of heat and sensation that made him shiver, lips parting.
The first light scrape of Hawke's beard against his cheek almost felt like too much, overwhelming after so long avoiding any and all contact. Touch was not a thing to be welcomed when his skin continued to remember the fiery press of lyrium. The breath catching in his throat, Fenris almost pulled back, would have, if Hawke's hand hadn't tightened against the back of his neck.
"Easy," Hawke murmured. "Take your time."
Shame and embarrassment surged through him, colored his cheeks, and Fenris would have shoved back, put distance between them but the hand on his neck stopped him. Not physically, Fenris was the stronger of the two, even without the magical properties of the lyrium burned into his flesh. Hawke's grip was light, a loose reminder of contact without trying to hold, almost innocent. A reminder that Fenris was not alone, didn't have to hide from what he found here, between the two of them. Fenris didn't want to move Hawke's hand so he stayed, his knees beginning to protest being ground against the bare floor.
Fenris leaned forward, dragged their cheeks together, slowly, methodically. Rough, yet appealing. Curious, Fenris turned his head to drag his lips across Hawke's cheek. He felt the body beneath him still, tighten, saw the fingers flex in the hand that wasn't on the back of his neck.
He laughed, a low breathy sound, his breath catching at the corner of Hawke's mouth. "I think I can see the appeal."