The next morning Henry woke up his house guests early because he decided they would go out and have breakfast, before Henry dropped them off for their first day at work. He insisted he would drive them there every day until they got settled into their new place.
They stopped at a modest looking restaurant and Henry happily exclaimed they made the best breakfast in Denver. For Andreas and Leto, breakfast was a rare luxury, and often it consisted of left over stew or thin gruel. The sheer variety of breakfast items seemed overwhelming so they let Henry order for them again. Henry opted to order what he called “a la carte,” and they soon had a table full of pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, waffles, French toast and even a breakfast burrito. They all sampled from every dish and Andreas and Leto loved every bite, washing it all down with cups of coffee.
Henry then drove them to the soup kitchen they would be working at, and promised to come pick them up at the end of their shift. As Andreas and Leto got out of the car they were greeted by Miranda.
“Glad you both made it on time,” Miranda greeting them with a smile. “I thought I’d meet you here and help you get settled in.”
Henry got out of his car and came to greet Miranda personally. “Thanks again for helping these two out. I really appreciated it.”
“Anything for my best volunteer!” Miranda said cheerfully. “Now get going. Don’t be late for work on our account!”
Henry waved goodbye to Andreas and Leto and sped off, still having a long commute, hoping to make it in time for his job at 9am.
“So are you both ready to get to work?” Miranda asked, ushering them both into a large, red-brick building.
“Definitely. I still miss spending time at the free clinic I used to run,” Andreas said, eagerly.
Miranda led them through to a large kitchen where several others were already working. “Hey gang, meet Andreas and Leto. They’re going to be joining you guys for the day shift for now.”
The three people turned around and looked at the two of them. Two of them tried not to gawk at Leto, but one man spoke up. “Aw Miranda, you’re not gonna make us work with that freak are you?” He twisted his thin face in disgust. He was a small man, with poor posture, and short-cropped hair.
“Now Howard, what did I tell you about judging people by their appearance?” Miranda chided.
“Fine. I’m sorry,” Howard mumbled. Then under his breath he said “guys that do that to themselves are always trouble.”
Leto stepped forward, and edge of anger in his voice. “Do what to themselves? Do you mean my markings?”
Andreas put a hand on Leto’s arm. “Not now Leto. They wouldn’t understand.”
Leto nodded. He had taken note of odd stares from people in passing the past couple of days, knowing he must look strange to all the humans who had never seen an elf. He recalled that Henry had told him that people would assume he’d had willingly had the markings put on his body, and had surgically altered his ears. “Body modifications” Henry had called it. Humans in this world wouldn’t understand that he’d been born with those ears, and that he’d been forced to have the markings put on his body.
Leto growled but backed down. Howard just gave an angry stare at them both before turning his back and going back to whatever task he had been working on.
“Let’s just get to work,” Leto huffed. “What shall we do?”
“Casey? How can these two help?” Miranda asked one of the other men.
Casey was a large, genial looking man. He had no hair and was wearing a large white apron over simple t-shirt and jeans. “Well there are a ton of vegetables that need chopping for the soups, and then I need one more on the serving line for lunch later.”
The third man was named Arthur, and he spoke little, mostly keeping to himself and completing whatever task Casey asked of him.
The rest of the morning Andreas and Leto helped to chop vegetables that went into the large pots of soup. Then Casey decided it was best if Andreas worked on the serving line, knowing not all people they were serving would accept Leto’s odd appearance. In order to further diffuse the tension, Casey also assigned Howard to the serving line as well. Leto remained in the kitchen to begin the cleaning process as the soup began to be served.
As they were ladling out bowls of soup for the seemingly endless line of homeless people, Howard asked Andreas. “Why do you hang out with a freak like that?”
Andreas tensed at the question. “Leto is not a freak. He’s a good man, and he’s saved my life on countless occasions. Not to mention I think his markings look beautiful.”
Leto overheard Andreas defending him to Howard as he was working closer to the door that led from the kitchen to the serving line. It made him blush and his heart clench to hear the praise.
“Aw, man, don’t tell me you two are gay for each other, are you?” Howard growled.
“What do you mean?” Andreas asked, unfamiliar with the term.
“You know, as in do you like fucking each other?” Howard asked crassly.
“I wouldn’t know,” Andreas answered honestly, with a cheeky grin. “We haven’t tried yet.”
“Great, you’re both a couple of freaks,” Howard grumbled, and went back to silently ladling out soup.
Andreas smiled and happily greeted everyone he served that day, doing his best to try and brighten each person’s day a little bit. He joked, laughed and even flirted with some and soon there was a buzz over the handsome blonde who seemed so happy to serve them.
On the other hand Howard’s mood seemed to get more foul as the lunch shift continued, and he became more taciturn and even outwardly rude to the people he was serving. By the end of the lunch shift, several complaints had been filed.
Once the lunch shift was officially over, Andreas and Howard went back into the kitchen. It was time to finish cleaning and prepare for the dinner shift, after a short break.
“Howard, can I speak with you in my office?” Casey asked, a frown on his face. Howard grumbled but followed the larger man. Soon shouts could be heard from the two men before Casey’s voice could be heard screaming “I quit you freak lover!” followed by the loud slamming of a door.
Casey came back to the kitchen with an embarrassed look on his face. “Sorry about that guys. I knew Howard was trouble but I didn’t figure him to be that full of hate. He won’t be coming back.”
They all finished their break, eating some of the leftover soup for their lunch. They then got back to work in companionable silence, cleaning the kitchen and preparing for the dinner service that began at 5pm. They finally wrapped everything up by 8pm, after having eaten some more soup for their dinner. That seemed to be one perk of this work, they were provided with two meals each day, which they helped to cook and serve. Leto prudently realized this would save them a lot of money, after seeing how much Henry had spent on their restaurant meals.
With their day finally over, Andreas and Leto exited the building into the evening twilight. They saw Henry waiting for them in his car. What they hadn’t expected was to see Howard again, this time flanked by two larger men, both wielding what looked like large wooden clubs.
Howard pointed at them and yelled. “That’s the freaks that cost me my job! Go get ‘em!”
Within moments the two large brutes were attacking Andreas and Leto. For the first time since meeting Henry, Andreas really regretted the loss of his magic and his staff. Thankfully he remembered a few defensive moves and ducked before the club aimed at him could make contact with his body. Leto was similarly weaving and dodging as the one brute inelegantly tried to attack him.
Leto managed to gain an upper hand when on one duck, he managed to snap his fist in a punch, aimed directly at the brute’s groin, doubling him over in pain. Leto immediately grabbed the club and hit his attacker over the head, knocking him unconscious. Next he turned his attention to the brute attacking Andreas, knocking him out as well before they both turned and faced Howard.
“T..that’s not possible! Fags like you can’t beat real men like that!” Howard stammered, before turning tail and running, abandoning his companions to their fate.
Henry was stunned. At first he tried to rush to their aide, but it was over so fast all he could do was stare in disbelief. “Wow. I’ve never seen anyone fight like that before.”
“Danarius did make sure I was trained in several fighting disciplines, including hand-to-hand combat,” Leto explained. “These two were clumsier brutes than even the Qunari.”
“Well let’s get out of here. The last thing you two need right now is to give statements to the police,” Henry said. They all got into Henry’s car and they drove off.
“I see this city isn’t without its share of dangers, not unlike Kirkwall,” Leto remarked. “I’m almost glad. I don’t have to worry about getting bored now,” he said with a laugh.
“Well, be careful you two,” Henry cautioned. “You’re both lucky those thugs were using baseball bats and not guns.”
“What are … guns?” Leto asked.
“I’ll show you some videos when we get back to my place. First I was going to take you both shopping for some stuff for your new place, and to maybe pick up a six-pack of beer,” Henry said. “After a long day like you both had, I bet you could use one.”
Henry took them to a large store that sold primarily household items. They purchased everything from two complete sets of towels, a shower curtain and bedding, to a small serving of dishes, flatware and some pots and pans. Once Henry was satisfied they had all the basic necessities taken care of, they headed to another store that only sold alcohol. Since Andreas and Leto had no I.D., Henry went in alone to make the purchase. Leto handed Henry some money and also requested another bottle of the Merlot they had had with the lasagna the other night.
Once back at Henry’s, Henry and Andreas had a beer, while Leto opted for a glass of the wine. Henry then brought out what he called a ‘laptop computer,’ and called up some videos to demonstrate what guns were and how dangerous they are.
“They can kill you without you ever seeing it coming,” Henry warned. “So try not to make too many enemies.”
Andreas and Leto recounted the events of the day to Henry and it quickly came to light that Howard was going to be trouble regardless of how careful (or not) Andreas and Leto were being. Henry began to worry about them living and working in that dangerous area of Denver, despite the fact that they had both survived all of Kirkwall’s violence. However, seeing them both fight, he was more convinced now that they really were the Anders and Fenris from the game he loved playing.
What mystified Henry was how it was at all possible for them to have ever manifested into his world. That should have been impossible. Henry mused contacting Bioware about it, but wasn’t sure what, if anything, they could even do.
The rest of the week passed without further incident. Andreas and Leto find their work at the soup kitchen tiring but satisfying. Their evenings are spent talking to Henry and often making out in the shower before going to bed. They haven’t yet spoken about their developing feelings, everything still being so new and foreign.
Saturday dawns warm and sunny, and they have agreed to meet Miranda outside of their new apartment just after noon. They take in a lazy morning, while Henry graciously offers to cook them breakfast. Then they pack all their new belongings into Henry’s car and go out for a quick lunch before heading to the apartment.
As they drove up to the address Miranda gave them, she was once again waiting for them outside and greeted them warmly.
“Hey, I want to apologize for what happened to you guys on Monday. Howard was always a handful, but I never thought he’d ever go that far,” she said, apologetically. “I’ve beefed up security at the soup kitchen and I have some guys that will patrol the area between here and there and keep an eye out for signs of trouble.”
Andreas and Leto thanked Miranda, but tried to assure her that they weren’t worth the extra trouble that they could take care of themselves just fine.
“If that were true, you wouldn’t need help from Henry or myself, would you?” Miranda asked pointedly.
Andreas sighed and nodded. “You’re right, we were a bit lost before Henry came along and helped us out.”
“We just spent years being self-reliant, it’s difficult for us to accept so much kindness,” Leto added.
Andreas just had a revelation when Leto said that. “Wait, but then … what about Hawke?”
Leto felt stunned that he’d forgotten. Hawke had helped them both in countless ways. They’d probably both be dead, or worse, if it hadn’t been for Hawke’s intervention.
“OK, we’re both just two poor, sorry men who would like to think they have things together more than we probably, actually do,” Andreas sighed.
“Shall we take a look at your new place?” Miranda suggested.
They all went inside. Miranda showed how they had two security doors to go through to get into the building. Then they went to the elevator, and she pushed on the number 5. This elevator was clearly much older and not as well maintained as the one in the newer office building the non-profit operated from, but it was still functional. Andreas and Leto were less nervous riding one this time.
They arrived on the fifth floor and Miranda took them to the door marked 5A. She opened the door and they all went inside.
The main room was small, but not uncomfortably so. It was furnished with a double bed, a small television, a couple of end tables, a small bureau, and a small table with two chairs. In the small kitchen there was a sink, stove, refrigerator and microwave. Looking into the bathroom it was about the same size as Henry’s, with a sink, toilet and full bath and shower.
Andreas and Leto seemed pleased. “This is adequate for our needs, thank you Miranda, “Leto said.
“Wonderful! Well let’s get you both moved in!” Henry said enthusiastically.
Between the four them they had Henry’s car unpacked in no time, and Henry and Miranda stayed to help them set up, hanging the shower curtain, making the bed, and other little touches.
Soon the small studio felt more livable, and they all sat down to rest, Henry and Miranda at the small table, and Andreas and Leto on the bed.
“Tradition dictates that when moving into a new home, pizza and beer should be served. I’ll run out and get some beer. Miranda, do you know a good place that delivers pizza here?” Henry asked.
“As a matter of fact I do,” Miranda laughed and produced her mobile phone from her purse. Andreas and Leto just looked at each other and shrugged. They knew about beer, but had not yet experienced pizza. However if it was anywhere near as good as the other food they had sampled that week, they were sure they’d enjoy it.
Henry and the pizza delivery guy arrived at the apartment at the same time, and that earned the delivery guy a small increase in tip for his promptness. They were soon all sitting with a plate in their laps and a beer in their hand.
As Henry arrived back, Andreas and Leto had noted he was carrying an extra bag with him, but they decided not to comment on it. Once they were all comfortably full with pizza and beer, Henry went to get it and presented it to Andreas and Leto.
“This is for you guys. It’s a house warming gift, of sorts,” Henry said. “It’s a tradition in our world to give a gift to people moving into a new home.” They opened the bag and fished out two identical boxes, with the photo of one of those smart mobile phone devices on it.
“They are pay-as-you-go phones,” Henry began to explain. “You don’t need I.D. to own one, when you use up the time on them, you can buy more time later. I got 3 months loaded on them for you. These are essential in order to stay in contact with people in our world.”
Andreas and Leto were speechless. This was a generous gift and they recognized the value in such technology. Henry offered to help them activate the devices and then how to use them.
“Well boys, that’s my cue to exit. I’m glad to see you both settled into your own place. Have a wonderful weekend!” Miranda said, as she stood and began exiting the small apartment.
“Thanks again for everything Miranda. We greatly appreciate it.” Andreas and Leto got up to show her out.
Then Henry spent the better part of an hour showing them how to use their new devices once he had them activated and programmed his and Miranda’s numbers into each. They were amazed at the array of functionality they had. Henry also helped them set alarms on the devices so they would be awakened at the correct hour on Monday when they had to resume their work.
“Well, I should be heading back to my place,” Henry said. “You should have enough pizza and beer to tide you both over until tomorrow. I’ll take you to the closest grocery store tomorrow afternoon so you can stock up on other food necessities. And maybe get a coffee maker?”
Andreas and Leto nodded at the suggestion of a coffee maker. They would definitely need one of those.
Henry then took his leave and Andreas and Leto found themselves alone. In private.
“So, now what?” Andreas asked jovially, looking at Leto.
Leto found that all of a sudden his chest felt tight and the room felt uncomfortably warm as he looked at Andreas.
Andreas smirked, noticing Leto’s sudden discomfort. “I do believe I promised to properly ravish you tonight,” he said, waggling his eyebrows for emphasis. “But perhaps we should talk first?”
“Talk about what?” Leto asked.
“Well, clearly we’ve started to develop … something … between us,” Andreas began. “Perhaps we should talk about that a little bit before we just fuck each other senseless?”
Leto visibly swallowed at the visual Andreas’ words just conjured and nodded. “Yes, that may be … wise.”
“So,” Andreas began. “How do you feel about me, Leto?”