Three hours into the night and Fenris couldn’t maintain trapping his body in one position on the illusion of sleep. It was a cursory dream anyway. As he stumbled towards the window, snowy light seeping in even through the drawn blinds, he thought of all the other holes he’d tried to sleep in over the years. Often with a knife under his pillow. Here was relatively safe and still he couldn’t let go.
Hard to think of anyone challenging Hawke, not only because of his bulk but his overall Hawke-ness. He was the kind of man to scoop everyone up under his arms and drag them up to the bar to get over their problems. Was that the only reason he kept Fenris around? A problem to fix? A hobby?
It didn’t make a lick of sense in any universe. Blue eyed, ebony-haired, all-American quarterback who damn near went pro befriends a brown skinned immigrant who’s more likely to bite a helping hand than take it. A mirthless chuckle rolled through Fenris throat as he gazed upon the sea of white. No trucks moved through the blanketed streets to tarnish the pristine snow to a filthy grey. Even the stars themselves seemed more vibrant, radiating off the snow that homogenized the landscape. Filthy street, corn field, parking lot for exotic dancers — it was all the same under the wintery frost.
A grunt erupted from Hawke’s bed, Fenris glancing over to make certain he was still asleep. The man whispered something incoherent to follow up the grunt, but didn’t rise. Probably a dream.
Fenris resumed his vigil of the parking lot, when Hawke’s grunts shifted to a breathy staccato. The pants grew in volume. As they began to increase in speed, Fenris’ heart raced to keep the beat. Through the indigo shadows, Hawke’s hand lashed into the air as if he was scraping at an invisible presence above him. Suddenly, a groan rose from the bottom of the man’s…
Venheedis! A blush burned Fenris’ cheeks as he realized what type of dream Hawke was in the middle of. He swallowed, eyes straining to focus on anything moving in the white world. But his ears, traitors as they were, honed in on the enticing pants that stirred his blood. They were back in full force, Hawke punctuating each one with a moan.
After overhearing this, how could Fenris face him in the morning? Could he ever look him in the eye again?
A flash of blue eyes glowing with a never-ending smile took over the fear at such a future and Fenris eased back. He could, no doubt. In time. Just…please don’t say the abomination’s name. Fenris could overcome much with regards to Hawke, but that would be a test to try and break him.
“No,” Hawke moaned, whipping Fenris’ frazzled state to stare at the man. He’d managed to twist in his sleep onto his back, both hands paddling in the air. No, they were clawing it, fingers locked like rigor mortis claimed them. And the man was babbling, shrieking under his breath as if he feared someone hearing him succumbed to his terror.
Dumbstruck, Fenris stumbled from the window towards the racked man. “Hawke?” he whispered, fingers raising as if to grab the man’s. Suddenly, Hawke slammed both hands to his chest, the moans beginning again.
If this was a wet dream, it was the most disturbing one Fenris could imagine. As he drew closer, his jaw dropped from finding tears streaking down Hawke’s icy cheeks. Still entombed in the throes of whatever tormented him, Hawke continued to writhe in place. The breaths Fenris misdiagnosed as sexual were building so fast he feared Hawke might hyperventilate.
Tumbling to a knee, Fenris reached a hand through the inky air towards Hawke. He’d aimed for the hands, but Hawke yanked one aside and Fenris’ wayward palm wound up smoothing his cheek. It was so much softer than he’d imagined, the beard tickling instead of scratching.
“Hawke,” he tried once more, the man’s gush of tears striking at the dead buried in Fenris’ heart.
With a jerk, Hawke sat upright. His eyes flew open and he shrieked, “No! Get off of her! I’ll…!” A hand lashed out, fingers folded to a fist, but as reality shaped around him, Hawke’s eyes darted to the man crumpled on a knee beside his bed.
The fist plummeted unused to the bed, Hawke’s words bobbing in tears, “F-f-fenris?”
“You were…having a nightmare.”
“Oh Maker!” Hawke cried. Without any warning, he wrapped both of his naked arms around Fenris’ stringy body pulling himself to the gobsmacked Fenris. The mountain man buried his face in Fenris’ shoulder, the hoodie catching his tears.
Hawke’s chest heaved with each fresh gasp of pain, his face pressing deeper. Limply, Fenris patted him on the back. Blessed Andraste, his naked skin was warm and inviting. He tried to shake off the libidinous thoughts rousing in his body as the man crumbled around him, but it was proving a monumental task.
He never dreamed he’d draw closer to Hawke than a slug on the shoulder and now… The sobs were ransacking Fenris’ ribs, each fresh one pinching him flatter in the vice. What did Hawke need? What did people in this state want?
What would Fenris want?
Winding his hand up higher over his back, Fenris drew his fingers through Hawke’s hair. He needed the right words, there had to be some phrase people used to soothe others after such a nightmare. To calm their loved ones and bring them out of the dark. But Fenris didn’t know it, had never heard it. All he knew was…
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, rocking the man while combing through his hair. “I’m…so sorry.”
“Mom,” Hawke spat out, eyes screwed up so tight Fenris could feel the knotted lids against his neck. “Finding her like that. Watching him… I never… Should have been me.”
He had no idea what Hawke was talking about, but he knew that voice. The one of defeat, of loss on a scale so great no word could embody it. Of revenge, of fear, of being too weak to crush those who hurt you. Of falling back there again and again no matter how far you ran.
“You’re not alone,” Fenris whispered, his own tear ducts he thought long desiccated springing to life.
The cries from Hawke slowed, his crushing embrace softening. As he leaned back, Fenris regretfully opened his arms. But for a brief moment, Hawke nuzzled his cheek against Fenris’ before fully rising to his bed. It had to be an accident in this dark room.
“Sorry,” Hawke mopped up his tears and scurried a palm over his forehead. “Sorry ’bout that. Shoulda…” He flinched deeper into himself, a hand hiding away his eyes. “Didn’t think it’d get that bad and… Shit, I must have woken you up.”
“No, no, it’s…” Fenris tried to retreat into his armor. The steel protected him, the cold that seeped into his soul eased the pain. How easily he could say that Hawke didn’t bother him and they should both get some sleep. Forget about the whole issue come morning. Act as if nothing happened.
Was it what Hawke wanted? Far as Fenris knew, no one else in the group experienced the man’s night terrors. Did he hide it that well, even from Varric?
What did he want?
“Hawke?” Fenris rose off his rickety knees to sit on the bed. It was barely an inch to hold his tiny frame, giving Hawke the room to slink away. But Hawke remained close, one hand still obscuring his face while another glanced against Fenris’ back.
“Are you all right?” Fenris asked.
He struggled to pump out a smile, those always grinning lips falling with a thud. “I don’t know,” Hawke admitted. A hand clenched over his chest as if he feared his rampaging heart may shatter the ribcage and fly free.
Crumbling at the sight, Fenris turned and — bold as brass — cupped his palm to Hawke’s flushed cheek. The man leaned into it, the other hand finally falling from obscuring his eyes. “What do you need of me?” Fenris whispered, wishing he could draw the painful memories from the man’s mind.
A fist clamped onto Fenris’ forearm, the long fingers easily meeting the thumb. Fenris’ eyes darted to it, fear rising that he crossed the unbreakable boundary, when Hawke cried, “Don’t go.”
The man’s crushing hug resumed, this time both hands locked around Fenris’ waist as he pulled him further into the sanctity of his bed. “Stay, stay and…and I don’t know,” Hawke blubbered.
Share the bed with him. An idea Fenris both feared and ached for. To be so intimate with someone to entwine with him, to lock lank limbs, to feel the morning whispers of breath against the nape of necks.
Slowly, Fenris slid his clothed body under Hawke’s blankets. “Okay,” he whispered while raising his arm. As Fenris’ head bounded against the bed’s cardboard headboard, Hawke nestled to his chest. His head was so great it nearly covered three quarters of the chest, Hawke’s wandering hand smoothing against the pocket in Fenris’ hoodie. The heat of Hawke’s naked skin pressing against him squelched the detractions trying to rise in Fenris’ brain.
Solace, for the first time in decades, enraptured his heart. Tipping his head down, Fenris puckered his lips to Hawke’s hair. It wasn’t a kiss, no. Only a promise that he wasn’t leaving. Even if things drew difficult, even if the days became impossible and nights lonely, he’d be there for Hawke.
Cuddled under the blankets, the pair matched breaths and heartbeats, living together as the snowy night rolled towards dawn.