Anders began to waken at the smell of something delicious wafting from the kitchen. He blinked and realized he had a horrible crick in his neck from the awkward position he’d fallen asleep in. Instinctually he raised his hands to heal away the ache … when he remembered he couldn’t do that anymore.
“Ow,” he muttered softly, trying to stretch away the ache instead.
Fenris stirred, rolling over to look up before realizing he had fallen asleep with his head in Anders’ lap. Why did he crave his closeness so much? Just because Anders … Andreas? … was no longer a mage, didn’t mean he had any cause to throw himself at the man.
Fenris quickly sat up, mumbling another apology.
“No, it’s OK, Fenris,” Anders said, as he tried to rub the soreness from his neck.
“Let me help with that,” Fenris offered, indicating that Anders should turn around.
Anders did as he was bade and Fenris began to massage his neck and shoulders. “Oh, yeah … that feels wonderful,” Anders said, leaning into the touch. “Where did you learn …? Oh, wait … never mind.”
Anders quickly realized where Fenris may have learned this particular skill. Fenris’ hands stilled at the words.
Anders turned around and faced Fenris. “I’m sorry, Fenris. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories. Thank you for trying to help.”
Fenris nodded at the apology, and then looked up at Anders. “Anders, I have been thinking about it and … I think I would like it if you called me Leto instead.”
Anders smiled at that. “OK, I’ll call you Leto, if you start calling me Andreas, please?”
Leto nodded. “Agreed, Andreas.”
Henry walked in at that moment, having heard most of the exchange from the kitchen. “Now that that’s settled, you need a last name Leto.”
“I never needed one before,” Leto said, puzzled.
“That’s because you lived in Thedas. Here everyone needs a first and last name, it’s actually required, unless you’re a celebrity. Even then they still need one for legal documents,” Henry explained.
“How do I even choose such a thing? Slaves in Tevinter have no family names. If anything they take on the name of the house they belong to … and I have no desire to take on the name of Danarius’ house,” Fenris said with a shudder.
“How about … Freeman? Leto Freeman,” Andreas offered.
Henry smiled. “That actually has a nice ring to it, what do you think Leto?”
Leto smiled broadly in the first time in … he couldn’t even remember. “Yes, I like that. Leto Freeman.” Leto repeated it to himself several times, trying to get used to the feel of the name on his tongue.
“Alright, now that’s been decided, come into the kitchen for dinner. I just finished baking a lasagna. It’s one of my specialties,” Henry said, grinning.
Andreas and Leto followed Henry, seating themselves at the small table. Henry brought over a large metal pan, covered with a thin sheet of metal that folded back easily. Within they saw bubbling cheese and more of the delicious smell wafted out.
“That smells really good!” Andreas said. Without Justice to distract him, he was beginning to realize how much he’d missed enjoying food.
Henry cut and served a square of the lasagna to each of them, and then poured some red wine for each as well. “Sorry Fen .. Leto, we don’t have Aggregio Pavali, but I hope you like Merlot.”
Leto smiled at the mention of his favorite wine, beginning to realize exactly how much of his life Henry knew from just playing a game. He lifted the glass, giving it a sniff before lifting it to his mouth, letting some of the red liquid pass over his lips and tongue. The flavor was rich and fruity, causing him to moan slightly at the pleasure the taste caused.
“Alright, I take that as a yes,” Henry laughed as Leto blushed at his reaction.
Andreas began to dig into his meal and let out a similar moan of satisfaction a moment later. “This is possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. We have nothing like this in Thedas!”
Henry seemed pleased that they were enjoying his cooking, as they ate in silence, enjoying the food and wine.
Andreas broke the finally broke the silence. “So Henry, what do you do exactly? You said you were off work today?”
“Well today is Sunday. Many people only work weekdays here,” Henry explained.
“Weekdays?” Leto asked.
“Oh, right, you guys probably don’t have that in Thedas,” Henry acknowledged. “So, here we have seven days in a week. We call them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Monday through Friday are referred to as ‘weekdays’ because that’s when most people work, and Saturday and Sunday are referred to as the ‘weekend’ because many people have those day off … except for those who work in retail or restaurants, but that’s a whole different discussion.”
Leto and Andreas nodded, taking in the information.
“Anyway, so I’m a software developer, which probably doesn’t mean anything to either of you,” Henry responded to Andreas’ original question. “For now, suffice it to say that some of what I do can create things like the ‘Dragon Age’ game I showed you earlier today.”
“You … can create things like that?” Anders asked.
“Well yes, if I wanted to. I don’t work in game development though. The software I make has different applications, all of which might be a bit too complicated to explain right now,” Henry nodded. “Suffice it to say, it pays well and I enjoy doing it.”
“That brings me to another thing I wanted to talk to you both about. As much as I enjoy helping you guys out, you can’t stay here indefinitely. We’ll need to figure out how to get you both a job, and a place to live,” Henry explained.
Andreas and Leto both nodded.
“What kind of jobs can we possibly do though? I am not much of a healer without my magic,” Andreas said sadly, “and Leto isn’t as much of a living weapon as he once was either.”
“Well, I’ve been thinking about that. I know something that might be a good fit for you Andreas. It won’t pay much, but might match your skillsets and passions,” Henry said. “There’s a local non-profit a few blocks from here that I volunteer for on occasion. They often hire people for a small salary to do things, like hand out food to the homeless. Somehow that feels like it suit you well Andreas.”
“Homeless?” Andreas asked.
“Yeah, the people here who have no money to afford a place to stay, they live either in shelters or on the streets,” Henry explained. “It’s up to those of us who can afford it to help them.”
Andreas nodded. That felt very much like something that Justice would have made him jump all over, and he had to admit even without Justice it had a certain … appeal.
“I’ll give you the address and directions tomorrow and you both can walk over there and talk to the director. I’ll give her a call first thing and let her know to expect you,” Henry offered. “Now I should show you both the stuff I got for you guys.”
They followed Henry back out to the living room to a stack of bags that lay on the floor near the entryway of the apartment. “Here, these bags are for you Andreas, and these are for Leto.”
They all sat cross-legged on the living room floor taking items out of the bags. Henry reached over and handed them a folded stack of what looked like colored paper. “Oh and here, this is the remainder of the cash … um, money … that’s left over. Your gold earring was worth the most Andreas, and that should last you both a little while until you get on your feet.”
“This is money? Don’t you use coins?” Fenris asked curiously.
“Yeah we have coins for anything worth less than one dollar. Everything else comes like that, or on something called a credit card, which neither of you would qualify for … at least not yet.” Henry explained.
“Anyway, I got both of you a pair of jeans, several shirts, some underwear, socks and shoes. I had to guess at your sizes so if anything doesn’t fit, let me know and we’ll go exchange them,” Henry said, as he pointed out the different items. “I also got you both some other essentials. There are toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant. We’re very conscious about hygiene in this world.”
“Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever owned so many items of clothing before,” Leto said, running his hands along the soft fabric of the shirts. It would be strange to not wear his armor.
“Oh, and before I forget, I also got you both a back pack too, so you have something to carry your stuff in,” Henry said, as he got up and grabbed them.
“Thanks,” Andreas said gratefully. “I was meaning to ask you since this morning, would you mind if I took a bath? I haven’t had one in a long time.”
Henry laughed at that “Yeah, I can tell!” he said laughing and wrinkling his nose.
Andreas blushed in embarrassment.
“Sorry,” Henry apologized. “You could take a bath or a shower.”
“Shower?” Andreas asked, curiously.
“Yeah … instead of sitting in the hot water, you let it rain down from above you. It’s quite nice and it’s faster than taking a bath,” Henry explained. “Here, let me show you both how the shower works.”
Henry led them back into the bathroom and pulled back the curtain. He turned on the water for the tub and showed how to block the drain for a bath, and how to turn on the shower instead as well. He pointed out the bottles of shampoo and body wash and then went off to get them some fresh wash cloths and towels.
“Here you go, so you can take turns if you’re quick, or you’ll have to share if you want a longer shower. The hot water runs out quick in this building, unfortunately,” Henry apologized.
Anders and Fenris had bathed in streams together before, along with Hawke and the rest of their ragtag team of companions, so the idea of sharing wasn’t off putting, although still the idea actually made Andreas a little nervous.
“Well, up to you Leto. I can be quick if you prefer to shower privately,” Andreas offered.
“I have seen your naked form dozens of times, it would be no hardship to share in order to have more time,” Leto shrugged.
Henry coughed and blushed at the admission and backed out of the bathroom. “Alright well, I’ll let you both get to it then. Enjoy! I’ll see you both tomorrow.” Henry then closed the door as he left the two alone.
The bathroom wasn’t very large so they had to stand relatively close in order to remove their old armor and robes. Both had practiced fingers and soon both stood naked. Andreas turned to turn on the shower as Henry had shown them, trying to hide a blush. Back in Kirkwall it was easy enough to hide his attraction to Fenris … Leto. They argued constantly and when they had to bathe together out along the Wounded Coast, he could stay far enough away that any arousal he might get at seeing Leto naked could easily be hidden.
In such close quarters, Andreas felt trapped but didn’t want to argue with Leto about taking separate showers either. He didn’t want to seem too obvious that he was nervous about sharing the close quarters with the very attractive elf.
“Well go on, get in already,” Leto huffed impatiently.
Andreas nodded and stepped into the bathtub and backed up behind the curtain, giving Leto space to get in after him. The feeling of warm water hitting him felt really nice. It was like being out in a rain storm naked, and the rain came down warm and soft instead of cold and stinging. Andreas allowed himself to close his eyes and enjoy the feel of the water against his skin.
Then Andreas was suddenly aware of Leto’s closeness, smelling the musky scent of the elf near him. Andreas eyes shot open, as Leto came closer to him, before he realized that Leto was trying to get to the body wash.
Andreas shifted so Leto could reach the bottle, getting a little off-balance and his hand touched Leto’s shoulder in order to steady himself. Leto looked up at Andreas then, blushing at the contact. “Could … could you help wash my back, please?” Leto asked. “I’ll return the favor.”
“Um … sure. Hand me a wash cloth,” Andreas said nervously. He poured a generous amount of the thick, white liquid onto the cloth, and then wetted it in the warm water, while Leto turned his back to him. He then began to slowly rub the cloth onto Leto’s back gently, not wanting to aggravate the blackened brands on his back more than necessary.
Leto tried to bite back a small moan that caught in his throat at the gentle contact. Andreas was being overly gentle and … it felt good. He hadn’t really thought about it much before but he had begun to realize that Andreas was very attractive … for a human. Always a little bit on the too-skinny side, yet he still had decent muscle tone from all the fancy staff twirling he did.
Until they arrived here in this strange world, he couldn’t see past what Andreas had been … a mage and an abomination. Nothing but a monster, in his mind. Because of that he saw Andreas … Anders … as a twisted, ugly thing.
However, now that Andreas was just an ordinary man, and one who had been nothing but kind and caring to him during their entire ordeal so far, Leto began to see how attractive the man really was. Feeling Andreas hand behind the wash cloth, trying to be so gentle with him, it made Leto’s heart clench.
Had Anders always been so gentle and caring, despite being a mage and harboring a demon? Beneath all his anger at him over the years, Leto could remember the gentle touches when he was being healed after a battle, the look of concern in Anders eyes when he was helping people in his clinic.
Leto still hated Anders, the mage, but a part of him was starting to like Andreas, the man.
Andreas startled Leto out of his thoughts when he dropped the wash cloth and began massaging his back gently through the slippery soap on his back. “You’re very tense, Leto,” Andreas whispered in his ear and Leto’s heart began to race and he let out another moan as Andreas began to work out a knot on his back.
Leto then turned around to look at Andreas. “Why are you being so kind to me? I have given you nothing but grief since we first met.”
Andreas blushed. “Well … I can’t help it. I … I’ve always found you attractive, despite all the hateful things you always said to me. Now here we are, without any of those stupid things we used to argue about and … you’re still really attractive.”
Leto blushed, looking down. “I see.”
Andreas lifted his chin, forcing him to look back up at the man. “Am I making you uncomfortable? If I am, I’ll stop. I promise.”
“No … not uncomfortable,” Leto responded shyly. “I … I just don’t know what I feel, really.”
Andreas was looking at him with lust blown eyes, visibly trying to keep himself from touching Leto more. “May I … kiss you?” he asked politely.
Leto’s chest clenched again and he nodded, almost imperceptibly. Andreas’ leaned down, his mouth slanted over Leto’s gently, barely touching. Leto felt gentle hands on his hips, drawing him closer as lips parted, and the tip of a warm, wet tongue brushed across his lower lip. Leto parted his lips, allowing the tongue entrance, as the kiss slowly deepened, and Andreas’ hand moved up to cup Fenris by the back of his head, pulling him deeper into the kiss.
Andreas couldn’t believe that Leto was letting him kiss him. His heart pounded so loudly within his chest as he leaned down to cover the elf’s mouth with his own.
It felt like all the years of hatred and animosity were being washed away in this shower, and they were being reborn. They may be stuck in this strange world forever, far away from the friends they knew, but right now Andreas could not have felt happier.
No longer did he have to fear being hunted by Templars, no longer did he have to fear what Justice may one day do. He could once again just be himself and that self very much wanted Leto in every way possible … but he also didn’t want to rush this.
Andreas slowly broke off the kiss, looking tenderly into Leto’s eyes. “Come on let’s finish showering before the water turns cold. Could you wash my back next, please?”
Leto seemed to be in a haze for a moment before blushing and nodding, bending down to pick up the discarded wash cloth. They finished the shower in silence, washing each other’s bodies and hair, and then helping each other dry off with white fluffy towels.
Then they wrapped themselves up in the towels and went back to the living room to dress and prepare for sleep. They both opted to wear a simple t-shirt and a pair of small clothes … ‘underwear’ as Henry called them.
Without hesitation, Leto grabbed the pillows and blankets and arranged them on the floor. Andreas was clearly not going to push this … whatever this was … too fast, and Leto was grateful, despite being more than interested in going further.
Tomorrow they could talk about it, after looking into getting jobs at the non-profit organization Henry had mentioned. For now they would sleep, Leto curled up next to Andreas much as he had done the night before, enjoying the solid warmth of the man next to him.