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

Chapter 8

Anders spent the morning with me as I cried- a lot. God, I was disgusting! It was a damned good thing he was a healer and used to seeing a lot of...well, things. He sat on the bed, back against the foliage that was my headboard, my head in his lap as I curled next to him, stroking my hair. It was comforting, so much so that I think I may have even dozed off on him for a few minutes.

Later, I showed him my pictures. Of course, first I had to explain photographs to him- and when you're sooo not technologically savy, like me, that is not easy. I pulled out all of my little photographs and let him peruse them, telling him all about each of my kids in that effusive way that parents do.

When we got to the last picture, he stopped and looked at it in mild confusion. It showed a man and a woman, about middle aged, of similar heights, looking each other in the eye, arms wrapped lightly at the waist. He was thinner, dark haired and a little scruffy, in dark dress pants and white button down shirt. She was curvier, to put it kindly, with graying brown, shoulder length hair , dressed in a simple cut red dress. Anders looked back at me when he caught the hitch in my breathing.

"That's my...ex-husband, James," I explained. "Things were different then, in that picture. Before the accident."

He pointed to the other figure. "So this is...?"

"Me. Yeah, completely different than the vision you see now." I laughed, a little bitterly.

Anders looked back to the photo, running a finger lightly along the woman's line. "I can see it actually. It's the smile. You still have that beatific smile."

I was shocked. He liked my smile? And he thought it was the same? I could feel the tears welling up again, and I blinked a couple of times to clear them. "Well, thanks, handsome. That's nice to hear."

He smiled at me, but his eyes returned to the photo as though hypnotized. "What happened that you and your husband...."

"Got divorced?" I supplied. "A lot. I guess it started with the accident. We were good. I mean we were good for fifteen years. Got married really early by our standards and had kids really early, but it didn't matter. He loved me and I loved him. Still do. But then there was the accident, and things changed.

It was the two of us and our middle girl, Amy. She was in cadets and we were driving her to her weekly meeting. She was in the front with me, while her dad sat in the back so he could work on his computer or something.Some asshole coming the other way, drunk as a skunk, hit us almost head on. James broke his collarbone, tore his right rotator cuff and hit his head pretty bad. I got out with a broken leg and some bad cuts from broken glass. Amy...Amy almost died. She had so many broken bones they weren't sure they would be able to put her back together again."

"Oh, Selena, sweetheart..."

"It's okay. She actually did a lot better than the doctors thought she would. Except for a scar on her back from surgery, you'd never know how close she came. No, the real damage was actually to James. That hit on the head, it changed him. Later I learned that there was some scar tissue pressing down on his frontal lobe, causing depression, and later delusions.

At first, it was mild paranoia. He started accusing me of infidelity. Of flirting too heavily with the postman, or the guy at the checkout at the grocery store. Then he started stalking me, following me to work, when I was running errands. The final straw came when he started drinking too much and would hit me. He may not look it, but he's pretty strong."

I could feel, as I told my story, Anders tensing up beside me, angry and indignant at what had happened. I placed a soft, placating hand on his thigh. "It's okay. At that point I packed up the kids and left. Of course, most of them were old enough at that point to live on their own, but we all toddled off to my mother-in-laws house. She might have been his mother, but she didn't allow physical shit like that to happen. I talked to James' doctor and convinced my husband to have a scan done of his brain- kind of like a magic picture, don't ask- and we learned about the problem. But by then, things were just too strained between us. I filed for divorce and things were over."

Anders went back to petting my hair. "But you still love him?"

"Actually, yes I do. I'll always love him. We have...had a history together that will never go away."

"Hey!" a voice called from the doorway. We looked up to see Hawke, hands on hips and smiling, though I could see the concern in his eyes. "Can I get involved in this little on-the-bed snuggle or is this a private affair?"

I snorted while Anders slid from under my cheek "Actually, I need to head out to the clinic, if you're going to be okay, Selena?"

"Yeah, yeah, "I sighed, making shooing motions as I sat up. "Go. Save the poor and downtrodden. They need you a hell of a lot more than some weepy old lady."

Anders stopped, cupping a cheek so that Iwas forced to look him in the eye. "You are not a 'weepy old lady'. You are a friend that needed a sh- lap to cry on."

"And what a wonderful lap it is, cute stuff." I leered halfheartedly.

He tried to stay serious, he really did, but the laugh escaped him anyway as he slid by Garrett, still filling the doorframe. Hawke's fingers brushed the apostates sleeve as he went by, though I'm uncertain if Anders noticed. Hard not to though, seeing as the heat in Garrett's eyes should have set the mage's clothing on fire. When the door downstairs closed, the large warrior turned back to me, sighed, and threw himself in a flop on top of my bed, arms flung wide like a teenager.

"All right, Romeo. What's the problem?" I chuckled, leaning forward so that I was looking down upon him.

"Apparently, if it wasn't for the fact that my mother lives here, I'd be nothing but twenty-four hour hard-on, all the time." he sighed.

"What?!" I sat back, still giggling slightly at the image, though also seriously aroused by the idea. Stop that! You're worse than he is!

"I mean, look at Anders. He's all golden light and bright like the sun. And he smells so delicious, with the most delectible little ass, all tight muscle and raw power. He's got the most amazing body, though he still needs to eat more- still looking too skinny if you ask me. And that hair! It's so much silkier than it looks, and it looks pretty damned silky, let me tell you. Then there's you."

"Me?" I choked, sitting back in surprise.

Hawke sat up and turned towards me, scooting closer, withing easy arms reach. He placed a hand softly on my knee and when I looked, there wasn't that joking flirt, but a real emotional man sitting there. "Yes you. Because of you, I will have a mother for many more years. That alone would make you the most beautiful woman in all Thedas. Then you add in the perfect alabaster skin, that hair that can't seem to decide if it wants to be black or just reflect the nighttime sky, and the most breathtaking lavender eyes. I could get lost in those eyes for hours."

I reached out at gently cupped his face, running my fingers through his beard, revelling in the scratch of hair against my palms. I had never seen Hawke looking so insecure, like a lost puppy begging to be found. I couldn't seem to help myself as I leaned in, meeting his lips with my own.

It was chaste at first, a soft touching of skin, warm moist breath upon my lips, but it soon grew deeper. He reached for my hips to pull me closer as I wrapped my arms about his neck. He licked across my lower lip, parting them to dart his tongue inside, sending a jolt of electricity straight into my groin. I couldn't think, I could barely breathe for what this man was doing to me.

"Sorry guys I forgot my co-"

Garrett and I sprang apart, faces flushed, eyes to the doorway. Anders was standing there, mouth and eyes wide in shock, coat held loosely in his fingers, before turning and rushing back down the stairs.

Oh Fuck!

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