Tale of the Stranger (or How I Met Selena Hawke)

Chapter 5

If you think that a pissed off Justice looks intimidating on screen, just wait until there's one standing three feet in front of you. The room was aglow in crackling blue light and the hair was standing up on my arms. Speed held loosely in my hand, the other fist held tightly to my chest, I waited for the fade spirit to make his move.

"Why are you here?" he asked in that reverbarating voice.

"If you mean the clinic, to make sure that Anders ate. If you mean this world, I haven't a fucking clue!" I yelled at him over the noise of his own power. "You're closer to the Maker than I am! You ask him!"

"You are a danger! To all that we do!" Justice ranted, stepping closer, while I backed away. I'd be hitting to wall again if I didn't figure out what I was going to do soon. "I will destroy you!"

Shit!Fuck!Shit!Fuck!Shit!FUCK! Justice was bearing down on me as I scrambled to the side, towards the doors of the clinic. If I couldn't figure out how to reach Anders in there, then at least I could maybe get Justice out of this enclosed space. Maybe someone would even take pity on me and run for Hawke. Yeah, right.

"Anders, please, if you can hear me, get him to calm down! I'm not here to destroy you or ruin any plans. I don't know why I'm here and I'm scared and I don't want to hurt anybody! Please Anders!"

Justice paused, held tilted and eyebrows drawn, as though listening to something he didn't really want to hear. I prayed that it was Anders, talking him down. I took the moment of reprieve to wriggle my bow and quiver from my back. With only one useable hand, they were pretty useless and I was going to need the extra mobility.

"No. You don't understand, Anders. She will destroy us. We can not let her," Justice said to his inner voice, turning back to me and spinning his staff menacingly. Suddenly he lunged, swinging the reinforced wood towards my temple. I managed to block at the last moment, Speed flasing up to scrape against the grain, vibrating painfully along my arm. It dawned on me that he could have just vaporized me with his power, but maybe Anders was holding him back.

"Anders, I'm begging you! I don't want to hurt either of you!" His staff spun around to the other side and I ducked it barely in time. This was so not good! My arm whiped up to block the downward strike hurtling towards my head. "ANDERS!"

"NOoooooooo..." the light dimmed, vanished and Anders curled himself in a ball on the ground at my feet, clutching at his head and whimpering. I paused, telling myself that I was waiting for my eyes to adjust from the change in light, though really I think I was just waiting for Justice to say "fooled you!" and blast my face off. Finally, I crouched next to the now weeping man and dropped Speed to the ground so I could pull him into my chest.

"Oh, Maker," he sobbed. "I'm so sorry, Selena! I don't know what happened. He won't stop screaming in my head. He thinks you're here to kill him! I've never seen him so scared!"

"It's okay, Anders," I soothed, doing my best to cuddle him while not jostling my wrist. Oh, yeah. It's busted. Third day here and I've managed to break a bone. Bully for me! "I'm not here to do anything of the sort. I promise." How do you know, idiot! Maybe you're here to kill EVERYBODY! You don't know!

We sat there for some time, reminiscent of my night with Hawke, holding each other and rocking, one whispering comforting words while the other collected their respective shit. Of course, by the time Anders was ready to pull back, the adrenaline from the fight had worn off and I was in a shit load of pain. My wrist had now swollen to the size of a grapefruit and I could feel numerous bloody scrapes on my back and legs. Dammit! I liked this shirt! The mage noticed my wince as we stood apparently, because he began to gently pull my hand away from my chest to get a better look at the damage.

"Shit! he cried at the sight of the mangled joint. "I'm sorry! Let me fix this!"

I nodded and he led me to a cot. Now that shock was wearing off, I was having trouble keeping my feet. This was so much like the day I was hit by the car that I had to laugh. Anders inquisitive look made me try to explain. "I just realized that Justice being mad at you is like being in front a speeding Nissan." That didn't really help the man at all, but I couldn't think of a way to clarify so I let it go.

"Okay, I need to set the bone and it's going to hurt like a bitch. But I'll heal it right after and then it won't hurt at all, okay?" he asked, looking me straight in the eye, as though I were already too far gone to give a coherent answer. Which I guess I was, since all that would pass my lips was a soft grunt. Anders gripped my hand and just below the elbow, then quickly jerked the joint in place, causing me to scream from the sudden, searing agony. The relief of his cool, tingling healing magic was enough to make me lose a couple of seconds as I came back to myself.

I looked up into his concerned eyes and smiled at him in reasurance. "I'm better now, thanks. Though I think this shirt has just about had it."

Anders leaned forward and saw the tattered affair that was barely holding together and swore softly under his breath. He stood and I watched as he went to a small chest near his desk, rummaging around until her had found a small knife and another of his small supply of tunics. He began carefully cutting away the tattered remnants of my tunic, careful to not pull too hard at the pieces already stuck with dried blood. Once the offending garment had been peeled back, he ran a soothing line of magic along each cut and scrape until my skin was smooth once again. I'm never going to get used to not having scars and blemishes there anymore.

I waited until Anders had his back to me, replacing his knife in his footlocker, before slipping out of the tattered shirt and redressing. Though I really wouldn't have minded showing off this amazing body I had suddenly been gifted with, I didn't want to make him uncomfortable.

Or piss off Justice again.

I stood up and stretched, revelling in the feel of Anders' rough linen shirt brushing against my skin. And the smell of the healer rushed into my lungs, making me giddy. Elfroot, musk and that cool peppermint of his magic. It made my whole body tingle and, without a breastband on, Anders could definitely see how he affected me through the thin garment. When the healer turned and saw, the sudden flush to his cheeks and darkening of his eyes was everything I had been hoping for.

"So. Now that that's over with, still want to go furniture shopping?"

Luckily, with my new cloak draped strategically over my shoulders and down over my breasts, I didn't embarass the mostly-elvehn woodworkers I spoke to. It made wearing my quiver and bow difficult though, so Anders ended up strapping them down with his staff across his shoulder.

I decided to forgo the usual Hightown merchants and instead ended up in the Alienage, haggling with an old codger of an elf for a couple of simple bedframes he had in stock, as well as endtables and armoires. I also ordered a desk so that Anders didn't have an excuse to not come to Hawke's at night. He could write there, dammit! I paid even more to have everything delivered by the next day. Much as I loved lying in bed with Garrett, he was just too damned tempting!

Anders, of course, argued with me about buying furniture meant for him, but I told him that Hawke would just have to repay me, then he could argue with the other man instead. I mean, I legitimately stole all this money and if I wanted to spoil my new friend, I would, and no one was going to talk me out of it.

I ended up having to go into Hightown to order the mattresses, though. There was no way I was sleeping on prickly straw mattresses any longer than necessary. I ended up finding the gentleman that was handling the two mattresses that Hawke had already ordered- filled with a mix of lamb's wool, goose down and lavender- and ordered two more. I hinted at a generous tip if they could be done by the end of the next day. Anders laughed when the man stumbled over himself, trying to impress me. Greed could be a wonderful thing to exploit.

By the time we were done, I could see the pink tinged clouds heralding sunset and was suddenly ravenous! I dragged the giggling healer behind me back to Hawke's for a cold supper of leftovers from the pantry. When we walked into the first entryway,I saw Hawke, in the main foyer, pacing in front of the fireplace. He looked so worried, eyes downcast and brows furrowed, hands clasped behind his back. Suddenly I felt guilt tugging at my heart when I realized that I had run out without a word to the large man and on my only quick return he hadn't been in, probably searching for me.

When Hawke finally looked up, it was as though someone had flipped a switch behind his eyes. The fear and worry was instantly replaced with the brightest smile I had ever seen. His shoulders relaxed and he rushed over to wrap me up in an impossibly tight bear hug, lifting me off the ground. "Selena! Where were you? I woke up and you were gone and I thought I dreamed you!" he babbled. "Especially after that really vivid...dream I had had. You know, the kind that makes a change of sheets necessary." He raised and lowered his eyebrows in that terribly lascivious manner of his and I couldn't help but laugh. Even Anders was chuckling at his antics.

"Let me go, you big bully" I giggled. "I can't breathe!"

"No. When I put you down, you go wandering off. I'd put you on a leash but I think you'd like it too much." He looked me in the eye and it was then that I realized just how close we were.Oh, God, save me from gorgeous men! With a wicked grin and a sparkle in his eye, he slowly lowered me down the front of his body, scraping every piece of my sensitive skin on the way. When my feet finally touched the floor, my knees wobbled slightly and he laughed.

"Nice to see I have that effect on you!"

"God!" I snorted. "You are such an ass, Garrett."

"Yeah, and you love me for it." He released me and took a small step back, noticing for the first time that I was wearing Anders' shirt. His eyebrows shot up to his hairline and his eyes darted from me to Anders and back, not frowning or upset, just highly curious.

Shit! How do I explain this without getting Anders killed?

But, of course, the mage couldn't keep his mouth shut while I tried to think. "Justice attacked her."

Had Hawke been anpther mage, we would be short one healer right about now, because he would be a pile of ash on the floor. As it was, I thought Garrett would start to manifest flame from his eyes, fists clenched, bearing down on Anders with intent to kill.

"WHAT?!" he screamed, getting into Anders' face, spittle flying. "What do you mean 'Justice attacked her'? How could you?! She's defenseless here! Hasn't the first clue what's going on!"

"Hey!" I piped in, completely ignored by the other two.

"I'm sorry, Hawke. I don't know what got into him,"Anders tried apologizing. "There's something about her that scares the living shit out of him. And she sure as shit isn't helpless! She managed to defend herself just fine and even talked me down!"

By that point I couldn't really hear them anymore. If they were going to ignore me to argue amongst themselves, I was going to get dinner, dammit! I was starving!

I searched through the pantry, pulling out bread and cheese, as well as a pottery jar filled with what turned out to be tart little pickles, then found a cutting knife and a pair of long metal tongs that would be perfect for what I had in mind.

I quickly got the cooking fire lit, then set about making some simple cheese sandwiches, using the tongs to toast them over the flame until the bread was a sweet golden brown and the cheese was just beginning to melt. Grilled cheese sandwiches, a la Dragon Age. Nice!

Platter full of sandwiches and a bowl full of pickles, I wandered back into the foyer in search of the now much quieter boys. Hope I don't find a couple of corpses. I can't eat all these sandwiches by myself. Did I not tell you that I have a horrible sense of humour? Well, there you go.

What I did find, though, was not what I had expected, though really I probably should have. Garrett had his hands fisted into Anders' hair, while the mage gripped his waist, In the throws of the the most passionate kiss. I backed away, meandering into the study, settling before the firepalce to nibble on sandwiches, grinning like an idiot the entire time. I love it when people are happy.

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