It had been several weeks since Elissa stumbled across her brother in a Lowtown bar brawl, and though they’d narrowly escaped a night in the Gallows’ drunk tank and gone back to Elissa’s cluttered studio apartment bruised and bloodied, they couldn’t have greeted the sunrise happier. Sure, some of the discussion had been tearful and intense, but as light came back into the sky they could see around the edge of the plate from the rooftop of Elissa’s building, none of that stuff really mattered. They were alive. They were together. Against the odds they’d made it through years of tight scrapes and near misses and found one another again. The last of their line, but no longer alone.
In the days that followed the siblings had met almost religiously for a few rounds at The Hanged Man every evening, though with a stern lecture from Varric about destruction of property and physical punishment not being the best way to bond with your long lost kin. Elissa showed him all the best Ferelden dives in Kirkwall, they watched several horrible movies and gorged themselves on Peans of every variety they could find, and even ran into Garrett one night outside her apartment as she picked the lock in the dim light of the street lamp while Fergus stood guard. With her life finally starting to point in the right direction, Elissa felt as close to content as she’d managed in a very long time. There was only one thing that had her holding her breath, the topic they hadn’t covered.
She hadn’t been avoiding telling Fergus about Gamlen, because no matter what everyone else seemed to think she in no way questioned the decision she’d made. Anyone who bothered to look could see the positive impact he’d had not only on her, which would have been enough on its own, but in every aspect of her life. She was healthier — mentally and physically. She was leaving the Coterie. She was more stable than she had likely ever been. But when it had come time to tell Fergus, she had balked. She’d only just found him, they needed time to adjust to all the years they’d lost. And now that time had come and gone. Elissa needed to tell her brother about the other man in her life.
Dinner was nearly ready and Fergus due to arrive at any moment as Elissa made one more pass around the apartment to be certain that everything was as perfect as it could be. Her stomach was a ball of nervous energy which she hoped wouldn’t be visible the moment she opened the door.
Whenever asked to dinner by a lovely young lady, Fergus would do his best to dress for the occasion. The usual Grey Warden uniform worked nicely—because as far as he could tell, ladies loved a man in uniform—but this kind of event was different. Not only was he visiting his sister, but he’d only just recently re-connected with her and everything felt like it was going right for a change. There was no call for formalities, not when she expected him to turn up the way he always had in the past, and he wasn’t about to disappoint her either.
He played with the idea of showing up in plaid pajama pants, and quite honestly he was almost tempted to do so, but he went with a pair of dark jeans and a blue polo with the the wings of a griffin stretching across a small portion of his chest just over his heart. The Grey Wardens, naturally. It felt like every article of clothing that he owned had something about them etched on it somewhere. Nonetheless, it took him very little time to get ready, and once he did, the elder Cousland departed the Warden compound with a contented nod and a casual salute to whomever he passed still on duty.
Fergus arrived at his sister’s Lowtown apartment and rapped his knuckles against the door before giving the handle a twist and peeking in. First his head, then the followed the rest of his body as the door was pushed open.
"Ellie?" He called out to confirm whether or not she was around before even spotting her in the tiny apartment, though the assault on his nostrils from the delicious aroma of whatever it was she was cooking told him that she was most definitely around. Only a moment or two after he called out to to his sister did he find her, and with a bright beam that had been very typical of him in the past, he closed the door behind himself and pushed off his shoes with his toes.
"What’re you making?" Fergus inquired as he made a bee-line for the stove. His love for food made already apparent (as if she hadn’t already known) as he plucked a hot lid from atop the pot hit had been resting over. Curious hazel eyes blinked as he peered in as quickly as humanly possible, as he feared for his hands being slapped away from his poking around and impatience. Not that it would have been a new occurrence however, Eleanor and Oriana more often than not had to swat at him with a spatula or an oven mitt to keep him out of the kitchen. Needless to say, his hunger kept him from noticing the nervousness that welled up within his sister. If the food hadn’t successfully distracted him though, the chances of him noticing her discomfort right away were incredibly high.
Nathaniel had been holding the creature at bay with his uninjured arm when Fergus stepped in, a single swing of his mighty hammer ripping the curve of the darkspawn’s blade from the flesh of his forearm. He staggered from the shadows as the warrior commanded, the gloved fingers of the opposite hand pressing down to staunch the flow of crimson that streamed forth from the wound beneath the torn, dark leather of his armour. As the eldest Cousland finished off their attacker, Nathaniel knelt to pick up his fallen comrade’s shoulders, knowing Fergus was far more likely to be able to bear the weight of his legs in his current condition. Adrenaline on his side, the archer could continue to ignore his own until they had made their way to safety.
"Grab his legs." It was a grunt as much as it was instruction, Nathaniel’s much leaner build forcing him to work twice as hard to hold the weight of the man’s torso than Fergus would have had to if that task had been left to him. The strain tugged at the edges of his injury, the flesh tearing more with every flex of the muscle beneath it. Something burned in his blood, as piece of raw metal broken loose against the bone, perhaps. He was wrong, of course. So very wrong.
Together the two men hefted the gravely injured soldier from the ground, moving at as brisk a pace as they could manage away from the crevasse and higher onto the apex of a nearby plateau. From there they could see and anticipate anything else that bubbled forth from the shadowy depths of the earthen rupture. It was their best chance.
"Have you a radio?" Nathaniel glanced at Fergus, discomfort with their situation and irritation with himself for having managed to be so foolishly injured mixing within his voice to give it a far more brusque edge than he’d intended. He could only hope the other man understood that it was not genuine, merely a result of their circumstances.
He knelt as he waited on an answer, dropping bow, quiver and pack to the ground and searching for the retractable blade he kept within the front pocket. With a flick of his thumb, he unfolded it, sharp steel cutting away the ruined armor and the shirt beneath it to reveal the wicked tear in the flesh beneath. Nathaniel prodded at the edges of the gash for a moment, crimson blood mixed with tendrils of black he imagined had come from the crude weaponry favoured by the monstrous darkspawn. A hiss of air through clenched teeth and he was digging through his bag more intently for the antiseptic he knew lay tucked inside. Whatever had implanted inside him burned stronger the longer it was left. He needed to remove it.
Regardless to what provoked Elissa’s previous knight in shining armour, Fergus cared naught. He simply ignored the rough edges of Nathaniel’s words much like he did with most of the things he said. But of course, trying to play the hero only got himself more intensely injured in the end, though the warrior wasn’t about to comment on it. On one hand he might have been grateful for the assistance, but on the other it was a stupid move. He wasn’t about to inflate Nathaniel’s already-ballooned ego.
"No, I don’." He grumbled in reply, already foreseeing the wave of complaints that were bound to spill from Nathaniel’s mouth like a wave rushing in. Fergus had already begun to tune him out at that point, finally kneeling to at least try and calm his jittery comrade. He’d be alright, Fergus assured him. He’d make sure of it.
While Nathaniel did whatever he was doing, Fergus rifled through his own things to withdraw a roll of bandages to create a makeshift patch job for his Warden companion, but also to—begrudgingly—offer the same assistance out for Nathaniel. As much as Fergus found himself loathing the poor bastard, he wasn’t about to let him weave intricate tales about his acts of chivalry, when the elder Cousland heir did nothing in return.
By the time his companion’s breathing slowed to an easy, normal pace, Fergus’s body dropped abruptly to seat himself upon the rock face. His uniform clung to the rough surface as he turned with whatever remained of the breathable gauze bandages in hand, only to find himself nearly howling in dismay as Nathaniel cut into tainted flesh none the wiser. Without a doubt, the black tendrils that billowed from the wound made it clear that he had been infected. Fergus knew the pain and confusion well, as he experienced the same sting that drove deep into the very core, and he still had the scar to prove it. But all Nathaniel was doing right now was making it worse.
"Th’ hell are ya doin’? Stop!—" He bellowed as he reached out, forcing the bloodied knife from the archer’s hand as he swatted him further back. A strong hand wrapped around his muscled arm as he pulled Nathaniel towards himself to immediately wrap the bandages around. If he bound the wound tight enough, it would at least slow the bleeding long enough for them to return to the compound.
"I said stop!" He yelled, voice rumbling out from deep within his chest. "Wha’ kind of idiot hangs around out here and—" he was rambling. Despite knowing what to do, he was nervous. Ending it for him now would have been his best bet, but he owed the bastard his life. An eye for an eye, or a favour for a favour in this case. As much as he disliked him, no one deserved to perish from the taint.
"We need t’ get out of here, that clear? You’re not gonna las’ long if we don’." And that was all the clarification he gave. The Warden-Commander at the compound could explain otherwise, unless Nathaniel was stubborn enough to force the unfortunate news. But they’d cross that bridge once they came to it.
"Up! Let’s go!"
I cannot help what my face does, Fergus. And you only get three anyway, all of which are now met. Better luck on the face thing next time.
But… Will we still get to paint our toes later?
Hold my hand, hold my hand, hug me!
You said to hold your hand twice. I require clarification on what you mean by that. Are there two different occasions that I must hold your hand or should I just hold both of them at the same time?
Holy my hand twice. On different occasions. Without making that face.
|iloveogres: I'm willing to gamble.||
"Married to the king, eh? I don’t think that’ll be so bad—"
"Wait, that doesn’t mean I’ll be your queen, right? Maker, please don’t make me wear a dress. I don’t look good in dresses, I swear it!"
|cointeressare-deactivated201310: "I'm willing to gamble."||
"I’ve got this. I was married once, y’know."
"As long as you don’t mind me runnin’ around in my birthday suit then we’ll be good as gold, Mrs. Cousland-For-Two-Weeks. But I’ll put on some boxers jus’ for you."
|thriveintheashes: I shall accept this gamble.||
"You gamble well, girlie!" He grinned and gave her a firm clap on the back. "What’re gonna do tonight? Order some pizza, watch a movie, paint our toes? We could even get matching best friend necklaces! S’all up t’ you though."