Fenris_icon.gif Anders_icon.gif

Scene Title The Sixth of Solace
Synopsis Anders invades the Land of Horrid Quilts bearing gifts. Decisions are happening after dinner.
Location Lowtown Inn
Date Solace 06, 9:31 Dragon
Watch For Practical presents and The Elephant in the Room
Logger Anders

Fenris was, legitimately, shocked. This was the longest he'd been able to stay in the same inn, consistently, in a long time. Either no one was looking, or this quilt-making innkeep was the shrewdest, most tight lipped woman he had ever encountered. He liked her more with each passing day. Which, admittedly, would likely only make it worse when eventually those searching for him either found her price or killed her, but for now it was pleasant. Comfortable, even. So much so, in fact, that Fenris has even learned the particular creaks of the inn well enough to not jump at each passing sound. And tonight, he's even managed to be calm enough to settle into dinner opting to not put his armor back on after his bath.

Anders is enough of a familiar sight by now that a stop in the front room to say hello and make polite inquiries of the proprietor is nearly obligatory. This time he even brought her some herbal tea leaves. So it's with a rueful smile on his face and a shake of his head that Anders ascends the stairs to Fenris' room. He's taken the time to wash up after healing a string of bloody injuries from yet another scrap between the little gangs that snipe at each other over tiny pieces of Darktown, and the evening is warm enough to have slung the ridiculous coat off and over one shoulder halfway to the inn. He can see some light under the edge of the door and knocks, soft and familiar.

So long had he been here that he's even learned to recognize knocks on this door, and there's no mistaking that one. No one else is that gentle with a door. None the less, he smiles faintly before pushing aside his plate and moving to unlock the door and then move back to his seat. Though he's learned knocks, his paranoia hasn't died. The sound of the disengaging lock was the welcome Anders would receive, Fenris didn't open his own door unless he was a right sight more armored than this. That was a very good way to get stabbed.

Anders knows enough at this point to wait until the steps have retreated again before he bursts in the door, grinning at Fenris like the cat that's got the cream. He closes the door behind him and flips the lock back into place, slinging his satchel on the handle. "I'm declaring today your birthday," he announces, that stupid grin going even wider as he crosses the room to drop a kiss on Fen's hair before turning to flop dramatically into sitting tailor style on the floor. You know, not like there's a perfectly functional chair open or anything.

It takes Fenris a good ten seconds to process the exuberance with which Anders has walked in. Fenris blinks, canting his head. And when that announcement is made, it takes him another good few seconds to realize what just in the world Anders is on about. Staring at the mage like he's turned blue overnight, the elf shakes his head. "What?"

It's not the first time someone's looked at Anders like he's crazy. It won't be the last either. He shrugs, taking it with as good a grace as he ever does - which is to say just a touch defensively. "I have presents and I wanted an excuse to bring presents and the easiest ones are birthdays and I realized I had no idea and had never asked but I finally had a day where I was done healing before midnight so I decided I'd declare it your birthday and bring the presents anyway." He's not entirely used to having to look up at Fenris to talk to him. It's an interesting switch. "So either I made the world's luckiest guess or you get two birthdays this year and that's pretty much the definition of a win-win situation, right?" It's not the harsh and jarring forced cheer Anders tends to use when hurt, but there's definitely an edge of nervousness he's trying to bravado his way through. And even if his face didn't always give him away? His hands twisting in the hem of his shirt do.

Anders being terrible at hiding his emotions was enough to give him away, much less with Fenris, who was generally perceptive. He glances to Anders' fidgeting hands. "You're nervous, why?" He asks, raising a brow. He'll get to the topic of birthdays, assigned or otherwise, in a moment. Right now, he's got more important topics to address. Slipping from his chair, he moves to sit beside Anders, taking the mage's hands in his own, stilling them.

Fenris' hands on his, holding them still and steady, it's soothing in a way Anders still finds a little disconcerting - just how much of an impact one man could have. It also cuts his strings a bit, leaving him slumped forward and staring down at joined hands while one of his thumbs starts rubbing circles. "Because I really did bring presents." Which… may not make a whole lot of sense on its own but. "But I'm not entirely sure I haven't drastically overstepped a boundary or two."

Fenris cants his head, blinking. "Honestly," Fenris says, "I have never been given a gift, much less for my birthday… I don't even know when it is." Shrugging, Fenris leans forward to mirror the kiss Anders had greeted him with with one to that crown of golden hair. "It would take… Quite a lot, I think, for you to offend me. You know enough that I imagine it would have to be intentional."

Anders' intake of breath is sharp at that confession. Of course that would likely be one of the things lost. "I… should have maybe thought that one through a little bit better," he admits sheepishly. That return of affection to his own hair makes him hum softly before taking a deep breath. "Alright." He squeezes the hands in his and then releases them, standing and moving to fish a small stack of papers out of his satchel before returning to sit next to Fen so that the fire could cast light on what he has to show. "The first part isn't so bad. I've made you your own copies of the maps I sketched when I was down there last. Warden maps don't typically use words or numbers since we don't want just anyone picking them up and reading them. There are different symbols for different things - like that one's for an exit, this one is for a blocked tunnel and that one is for a collapsed floor. You have to hold them right - like, see, this way, so the griffon's in the bottom right corner - and then it uses landmarks not distances. Those are sketched from the side so you can navigate easier." He hands the first few sheets over, holding them out with a serious expression. "This way, even if something happens and we get separated, you can find your way out. I'll go over all the symbols and routes with you before we leave, just… don't tell Adie or any of the others. We are really not supposed to do this." But that's obviously been so effective in stopping him. "If you're going to insist on going down there with me, I'm not leaving you without a way to get home."

"Today is as good as any, I suppose." Fenris says with another shrug. It doesn't seem he's actually bothered. If there was one thing he'd actually not thought to mourn, it had been his birthday. He'd never even quite understood the point of them. None the less, he watches Anders curiously as he goes to fetch the papers. Staring down at them, he seems to follow well enough, nodding. Fenris was a quick learner, always had been. Needed to be, really. "They will not learn of it from me." Fenris says with a nod, "It is a practical gift, thank you." Practical, generally something Fenris appreciated.

Yeah, practical. "You're welcome." He'd figured those would be pretty safe. It's the last paper he's got in his hand that makes him fidget all over again. This one… requires a little explanation. "I don't ask for anything when I heal. It's…" He isn't sure he can explain exactly why, only that it's important for him to do. "But the people I help, they… they look after their own, you know? When they started asking me what kind of information would help I asked for news of incoming slavers." It's a network of informants he's been laying down for several months now, but that's maybe not a detail the slowly flushing apostate is quite ready to divulge yet. "And through them I found out about one of the foremost information brokers in Kirkwall. I cut a deal with him for the same information and this was what he already had. It's a list. Danarius hasn't exactly been making friends among the Merchant's Guild, that's for sure. The red lines are the investments he has personally in Kirkwall and the blue lines are warehouse stops his cronies make. There are eyes watching the old slave pen caves and this -" he flips the paper over to a sketch of Hightown "- is a house in his name. Apparently it's usually empty, but if he comes here, it'll be to that place there." Anders pauses then and chews on his lower lip, swallowing hard now that there isn't much left to say. "I figured if you wanted to, when we get back from the Deep Roads we could take the fight to his resources here. O-or even if you'd rather not, at least now we know what to keep an eye on so he can't get the drop on us." The 'we' pronouns aren't even a hesitation, but it's evident that this singular piece of paper - and all the weight it carries - is the primary source of Anders' anxiety.

Fenris stops. Completely. He stops breathing, moving, for a moment even thinking. When his brain function returns a moment later, it makes him reel, and he blinks. "I…" Fenris reaches for the paper, taking it almost gingerly, "I do not know what to say."

Anders sits in that silence, slowly counting backwards from fifty in his head. It's one of those things he does when he really really does not want to let a prolonged silence visibly affect him. This is a heavy thing for Fenris; he should have time to process without Anders' tics placing unintentional pressure. When his lover reaches for that paper, though, he stops, focusing entirely on the man sitting next to him while relinquishing his hold on the information. "You don't have to say anything, Fen." His answer is as soft as his smile. "I mean, it's a gift in that it's for you without strings attached, but if I'm very honest it's a little bit selfish, too." That smile goes a little bit lopsided and his eyes are warm and almost tender. "I want you safe and happy and this… just seemed like the best way to make sure that happens."

"You have a very odd definition of selfishness, mage." Fenris says, though the small smirk and the perk of his ears removes any sort of bite from it, in fact, that last word is spoken with a warm fondness that almost turns it into a term of endearment. Strange, almost, but it works somehow on his voice. For another long moment he just stares at the paper, not necessarily taking much of it in, just wondering at the fact that it exists. Then, he leans his head against Anders' shoulder, setting the paper down and just sitting, quiet but not silent.

Mage. It's a form of address that's always rankled Anders, used to dehumanize him - to make him lesser - to set him apart from what is good and right and 'normal'. Hearing it now, from lips that have moaned his name like he was the only sin that mattered… it should bother him. For the first time in his life, it does not. He still huffs a dry laugh and still rolls his eyes, but when Fenris' head finds his shoulder, he lets his own rest against soft white hair. Quiet is different from silence. He doesn't know how exactly, but it is. There's a quality to it that is entirely indefinable; what makes a lack of noise bearable or unbearable is fluid and changeable. But this space between them is warm and Anders finds he can exist inside it quite comfortably.

The dry laugh and roll of Anders' eyes makes him smirk, no mockery, just gentle amusement. The pleasant satisfaction of finding someone predictable in a safe, comfortable way. Like home. In that quiet moment, Fenris purrs, staring into the fire and watching it dance slowly. It's summer, the fire is only for light, it's kept bright and small. "You know, I don't think it can be much a birthday if you don't even know what age you are." He says, though it is entirely with a tone of joking. It's true he's not entirely sure how old he is, but it hasn't really ever bothered him. It didn't much matter, but it does lend humor to the day.

Bright and small is all well and good, but there are still trails of sweat down the back of Anders' neck. He might be a little cooler if he moves away from the warm body next to him, but that's just not happening. "I don't think it's so much the age that matters, Fen," he answers around a low laugh. "The point of your birthday isn't a celebration of having cheated death for another year. It's more like… a reminder for people to tell you they're glad you're alive." He shrugs the shoulder not being used as a Fen-pillow, though the motion can likely be felt. "Whether you're five or fifty."

Well, he'd certainly never thought about it that way before. Then again, Fenris wasn't really one for 'friends' so the concept of cheating death has always had more appeal. "I suppose that is fair." Fenris says, smiling faintly. Taking a deep breath, his hand lifts to hold onto Anders' upper arm gently. Between his upbringing in Tevinter, the blood of his Seheron heritage, and the fact that he's opted out of the armor this evening, he's actually fairly comfortable temperature wise. Small victories.

Anders is all about the concept of friends - this boy craves belonging like an addict seeking his next hit - but the practice of friends… well, that's pretty much where he always falls down. The arm around him feels nice, but this still and stagnant heat is not what Anders is built for. So he twists his head enough to nuzzle into Fenris' hair and then leans forward far enough out of the embrace to tug his shirt off over his head. With the sticky garment flung over by his satchel, he taps just a palm's span of ice on the floor and settles so that his head is in his lover's lap and his lower back is right on top of that rapidly-melting ice. It's such a profound relief that the sigh let loose is almost pitiful. "I spent too long in Ferelden," he grouses. "You'd never guess my bloodline ran about in deserts and savannahs."

Fenris laughs, shaking his head, his hand moving to brush through Anders' hair as he places his head in his lap. "Such a shame, losing that heat tolerance." Fenris says with a smirk, "Though, I do not exactly handle the cold well. I imagine you will have me quite bested in the winter."

Anders pulls a face. "Winter is the worst. I run hot so everything feels colder than it actually is and if there's even a hint of damp all my joints decide that I'm secretly eighty." The face does not last long, however, when there are fingers playing in his hair. "You'll be quite comfortable; I give off heat like an actual bedwarmer and I do alright in the bed. It's just when I have to leave it that everything goes pear-shaped. No, I'd much rather melt if I had to choose." Which is one nice thing about being in the north.

"At least there is a simple enough solution to that problem." Fenris says with another smirk, looking down at Anders with a warm fondness. "With any luck… I'll still be here, and garish as they are, the quilts will likely be very nice come the winter." He was really starting to have faith in this innkeep, it seems.

That's enough to make Anders laugh, a bright and ridiculous sound that borders on actual giggling. "I like simple solutions," he quips back, loose and open and warmed to the very core of himself by that understated implication. "Even if they do come with hideous quilts." His mirth subsides, leaving him with one last fluttering exhale, one arm reaching up to flick playful fingertips at the ends of his lover's hair. "Hey," he calls softly, a crooked little smile softening mouth and eyes both. "If the quilts ever do go overboard, the blanket nest makes for a good backup." Not at all as subtle as you think you are, there, Anders.

That sound draws a smile to Fenris' lips before he realizes how much it brightens him. His hand leaves Anders' hair, resting gently upon his lover's cheek as he stares down into honey eyes with nothing short of adoration. "That it does." Fenris says, low and purred, as gentle as his voice would ever allow.

Fenris, bright and happy and smiling, is a sight beautiful enough to steal Anders' breath, but that soft touch to his face… the adoration in beloved green eyes… It makes something in his chest twist and expand until it hurts and for a moment all he can do is turn his head just enough to press a kiss to that palm - what all of this began with - and with sunlit honey return adoration with devotion, quiet and kind. He doesn't know how long he lays there with his heart laid bare on his face like that, but he does know that with the next shaking breath, there is a question that needs to be asked… he simply does not know how to begin. "May I ask you something personal?" There. That's as good a beginning as any, right?

And this time Fenris doesn't pull away from this warmth, the crushing ache in his chest, the light in those honey colored eyes. It's just pleasant, comfortable, savored with a gentle touch of his thumb to Anders' cheekbone. There's a small flush to his ears at the kiss to his palm. But the shake in Anders' breath makes his brow furrow. He cants his head. "Yes, you may." He answers, sounding concerned.

"How - " Anders cuts himself off, humming low in his throat as he tries to word this the way he wants. "What does it feel like, having magic cast on you?" He knows - he knows - this is not pleasant territory, but the way his hand comes up to hold the one against his face and stroke over it is a plea for trust, to not run from this.

Before he can stop it, Fenris' heart picks up to a trot, and his mouth goes dry. But with Anders' hand over his own, with the look on his lover's face, he forces a deep breath. "It depends." He answers, though he knows that is not terribly helpful, "Why?"

Anders watches that deep breath with a pang and for just a moment misses the connection from that first morning that let him soothe and reassure as easily as breathing. "I'm not going to cast on you without your permission." He knows how rare is the trust extended to him. That is something Anders will protect with his life if need be. "I know it doesn't hurt when I touch you and sometimes when I cast you don't seem pained but after the Qunari incident you looked like my magic hurt you." And that, judging by the shaky tone, still worries him.

"Oh…" Fenris exhales, relaxing some. This wasn't simple either, but this was easier than being asked to explain the ins and outs of how magic felt under his skin, how he hated it, yet how it made the lyrium sing and he could not help but feel betrayed by it. So much easier. Fenris clears his throat and shakes his head. "You didn't hurt me." Fenris says gently, but pauses after to try and find the most efficient way to structure this explanation. "Danarius used me as a weapon. Most specifically, against the Qunari. And when I came back broken he would have it fixed and then it would start all over again. It… It wasn't pain, it was… The ghost of a memory."

Fenris relaxing is palpable relief for the mage pillowed on his lap. He nuzzles into the hand he holds with easy affection, hoping to ease some of this continued discomfort. "I think I understand," he murmurs, eyes lifted to watch beloved face. "So the Barrier that I lay against your skin during battle… that does not hurt either?"

"It's distracting at times…" Fenris says, more color rising to his ears, "But it's not painful, no." Glancing away for a moment, Fenris clears his throat again. "I cannot think of a time where you have ever caused me pain, Anders. You do not need to trouble yourself."

It takes Anders a minute longer than it should to get that. When he does, there is color that rises to his cheekbones as well… though he may also look just a little bit pleased. He can't help it. Fenris' reassurance is comforting - soothing to something he didn't even know had been ruffled - but beyond that, it answers the basic question he needed before he can get to the actual point. "I did a little bit of digging and I think the barrier would be enough to keep tainted blood from getting inside your body. If you'll let me sustain one when we're not in camp, that should effectively minimize the risk."

The blush to Anders' cheeks makes Fenris smile again. At least he wasn't the only one suffering such a fate. Again, his thumb brushes against his lover's cheekbone, tracing the blooming color like he wishes to savor it. "Ah," Fenris says with a nod, "Then I will have to grow accustomed to it."

Anders had been so ready. This month, these weeks upon weeks have set him up to anticipate a fight over almost everything. So when there is nothing more than a warm caress and quiet acquiescence, he opens his mouth and starts to say the stupidest thing that could possibly come out. "I - " He changes course at the last second, because there aren't all that many good things Anders gets to cling to and he's exactly enough of a coward to want to hold onto it a little while longer. "I appreciate that." Really, Anders, that's what we're going with. "Thank you." He turns on his side, then, shivering a little as the open air hits the now-wet skin on his back. "Can I stay tonight?" he mumbles into Fenris' stomach. "'m comfortable."

Good catch, Anders. Because, yes, that would, in fact, be the absolute stupidest thing that could possibly come out of his mouth right now. Even if it would just be putting words to something Fenris is growing increasingly aware of. He's identified what that aching in his chest when he looks down into those honey colored eyes is. He knows. But he doesn't linger on the thought, he can't, he won't, and the words would make it real. And if it was real it could be lost and Fenris… Well, he's not really great about having something to lose. It seems, however, that Fenris does not notice this change of course. Or, at the very least, he does not choose to. As Anders turns, Fenris returns his hand to his lover's hair, and nods. "Yes, of course." He says, laughing a little at the mage's mumbling.

For once, Fenris is letting Anders' stumbling slide and the mage can't help the rush of gratitude and affection it inspires. It's a beautiful illusion, all of it, and it's fooling exactly no one - but everybody keeps playing their part and the wheel turns to one more day. Anders blows out a breath against his lover's stomach and pushes back. He braces his hands on the floor and angles his head up to kiss Fenris, slow and lazy and saccharine. "You should eat," he murmurs against kiss-wet lips before straightening to stand entirely. There's a stretch to go with it, before lassitude claims him and he flops backward onto the actual bed with all the grace of a worn-out mabari.

Fenris returns that kiss precisely as it is given, no push, no demand, just a comfortable pleasure. But when Anders chides him about eating, he smiles, and laughs quietly. "I have eaten." Fenris says, nodding toward the already empty bottle of wine on the table. Nevermind the plate of food half finished only a few inches beside it. Before the healer can protest, Fenris joining him on the bed, not caring one bit about his dinner.

Anders will never protest Fenris' presence in bed, but he gets a heavy sigh and eye roll as his boots are kicked off and into a corner. "Wine doesn't count as dinner, Fen," he scolds - though without heat in it. "You need real food. Fruit. Cheese. Vegetables. Meat. Grains. You know… an actual wholesome diet." All the same, he nuzzles and nips at the shoulder nearest him, then laying out to stretch like a cat in a patch of sunlight.

"He says as though he bothers with the same." Fenris sends back, though playfully. "Though, really, I did eat. She's taken to sending me two meals in the evening, noticing how often I don't bother to take a meal in the morning. I never finish the second one." She, of course, being the quilt making proprietor of the establishment. Smirking as Anders stretches out across the bed, Fenris lays a hand upon his lover's chest. Nothing so smothering as a hold, not in the heat, just a touch of skin to skin, which seems to be all he needs to relax quite thoroughly. It had an addictive quality, the way their contact sang, and Fenris was rarely able to be this near and not reach out for it.

"Warden," Anders argues back. "I get all the food I need." Which implies exactly the opposite of how the Taint affects a body's need for fuel, but it's harder to ignore what you've admitted to. "And I don't try and substitute wine." The hand on his chest makes him shiver and settle, the contact resonance soothing and also a little frightening. He remembers he is hungry more when exposed to this energy. He remembers he is tired more, sore more - that he is a human with human needs and not simply a … something else that merely exists. It's disconcerting, but he brings up one of his own hands to stroke light fingertips over knuckles and wrist and forearm. "I'm glad someone's about to fuss over you when I'm not around. You need it." He likes the Quiltmaker, even if she is a little bit unhinged. "I brought her some teas tonight. They help, sometimes, when patients are ill from the heat." And the older bodies tend to cope poorly with any temperature extreme. "But if I need to I can come up and chill the room for the hottest parts of the day. A little exercise won't kill me."

"You know, I do not believe that for a second. I have seen you eat properly… Once." Fenris says, raising a brow at this assertion that Anders was completely fine. Look, he understood. Really, he did. He could understand having bigger things to do, not thinking about it, not having the time, whatever, but this idea that Anders actually ate? No, he wouldn't buy that. The elf laughs. "I think she may like my being here if only because it brings you in." He says with a small laugh, though it is cut short by a quiet purr at Anders' fingers trailing up his arm.

"I - yeah, I suppose…" But Anders doesn't sound entirely sure either way. Like he can't remember something he knew just a moment ago. Talking about the inn's proprietor is easier. There are no gaps in his memory of her. "If it keeps you safe and fed, I'm happy. But I think there is a strong possibility that you're selling yourself short." He traces his gentle touches back and forth from knuckles to elbow - not following the lyrium lines, but not shying from them either. "I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't speak well of you. Even Kindle. I wish I'd known it was Teine you had so much trouble catching. He's a darling. A handful. But a darling."

"I could direct you to a couple guards who would not have anything nice to say." Fenris says with a small laugh, more amused by the guards' grumbling than anything. There was nothing illegal in sitting on a ledge in Hightown, drinking quietly, and people watching. But the Kirkwall Guard had recently taken to being jumpy about the weird looking elf with the entirely too large for comfort blade sitting around Hightown at night. One of the great mysteries of the world, that. "Darling? Is that what we're calling it? Beast was a menace."

"Then they'll keep their opinions to themselves, if they're smart," is Anders' answer to rude guards. He says it so primly, too, channeling Wynne in a way that would probably make him die of embarrassment if he knew. Something so mild couldn't possibly be a threat. Of course not. "Oh, now don't be that way. He's the fluffiest kitten I've ever seen. Precious boy. He's just energetic, is all. Happens in the bigger cats. Don't like being cooped up and kept from doing as they like." And Anders, being the biggest cat of them all, can identify.

That prim sternness makes Fenris smirk, though he has the good sense not to comment on it. No, instead, there are other comments to make. "You would know, I suppose." He says with another low laugh. "Though I do not think I would call him a kitten."

Fenris' laugh brings out an answering smile in Anders, turning to his side facing his lover and lifting that hand from his chest to hold in both hands, working both thumbs over delicate muscles and tendons in motions that are precise if not focused. "We've been over this, Fen. All cats are kittens. Forever. That's just how it works."

"And yet still - " Fenris is cut off from whatever he would quip back. His eyes roll back into his head, he purrs, even shivers a little. Fenris' hands see a lot of work, and have for many years and this is just… This is unfair, is what it is. How Anders can just take hold of his hand, and with a couple of small motions just shut down everything, it's bliss but it is entirely unfair.

Fenris' reaction to those first absent motions adds warmth to Anders' chest - warmth that bleeds out into his expression, his voice and his work. Now there is no reason not to turn the entirety of his focus to this task and he does it thoroughly. He does it well. There is magic that can aid this, can amplify its natural benefit, but Anders doesn't need it to ease tightness. He works each finger individually and then down into the meat of palm and the delicate tendons in the wrist, slowly working his way up toward the elbow before finishing with a last caress over the whole forearm. "Give me the other one?" It's a quiet request, made with an unspoken 'please' attached. There is something comforting in bringing comfort, something intrinsically satisfying in being able to bring relief. It leaves Anders feeling more fully himself than almost anything else, these days, but this? This is intimate and gentle; this is perfect, as far as he's concerned.

Under Anders' touch, Fenris just completely melts. His eyes closed now, he purrs continuously. Little twitches in his ear give away spots full of tension if one pays attention. And for all that he is a growly, terribly grumpy wolf, in this moment Fenris has turned utterly and completely feline. A state of being baser and more natural, stripped free of expectation or even conscious decision, this seems to be what he reverts to. And at that gentle request, there is no hesitation. Fenris doesn't even open his eyes, just offers the other hand.

Anders is not the most observant person in general - more often than he'd like to admit, he's entirely oblivious - but when it comes to bodies, to healing, to pleasure and pain and raw sensation… there isn't much he misses. So he slows around those nodes of tension, paying them special attention until he can find the right motions to relieve them. That Fen relaxes enough to slide right out of his wolfskin into a puddle of cat pleases Anders immensely, but he doesn't look all that surprised. He's a giant cat, but moreover he's a cat person. They're fairly good at recognizing their own - even if they don't know that's what they're doing. He repeats the same process on the other hand, meticulous and thorough but with far too many lingering touches and interspersed caresses to be anything like a clinical practice. This time he does not stop at the elbow, moving up into bicep and tricep and shoulder. "If you can lay on your stomach a while I'll get your back, too." This is more enjoyable than even Anders anticipated. Even beyond the resonance that sparks between them with every touch, there is something just physically pleasant about extended skin-on-skin touch. That he can use it to bring pleasure without the discomfort of magic? Even better.

The purring continues, the fluid relaxation, the slow, deep breaths. If it weren't for the active enough that it cannot be done while sleeping sound of purring, it might be easy to believe Fenris has been sent to sleep by these attentions. Fenris is a mess of knots. No matter how often Anders did this, there would always be new ones when next it came up. Such was the penance for his armor wearing, greatsword wielding lifestyle, and his terrible posture. But he listens to suggestion easy enough, and as Anders move up to his shoulder, and mentions rolling over, Fenris does so with a pleased sigh, his head resting on his forearm.

It's a never-ending task, perhaps, but Anders would be sad if he never had cause to repeat it. When Fenris moves, Anders follows, sitting up and then swinging one leg over to sit straddling his backside. It's then that Anders looks down and realizes his mistake. Laughing softly, he leans forward to nuzzle into the back of Fenris' neck, shifting back to one side so as not to be an impediment. "Think you can sit up long enough to get your tunic off for me?" He even noses at the tip of his lover's ear, in case that helps the lassitude a little. "It's harder to do right when I can't get at your skin."

To the Void with sitting up. Fenris would be having none of that. Instead, he just pulls his hand under himself, undoing the closures at the front of the garment, and then pulls it from his shoulders with a small growl as though the piece of clothing has offended him. Tossing it aside, he returns to how he was, settling with a deep breath.

Anders watches Fenris fight and wriggle his way out of his tunic with a fondness bordering on the ridiculous. "There now," he croons softly, nuzzling along his lover's shoulder before climbing back to sit astride him. He stretches his arms out before him, cracking knuckles and neck before laying gentle hands on beloved skin. He starts from the top, using deft fingers to rub at scalp down to neck and out to shoulders. He hums as he works, a soft and breathy melody that sounds almost like a lullaby. It isn't the words - he understands when he's not struck by terrible impulse that giving voice to anything has a terrible tendency to destroy it - but as much as actions can convey the screaming of his heart, the way he touches Fenris to chase away pain and discomfort certainly does.

There is an easy smile at that nuzzle to his shoulder, and a small lift of his head that says he wants to return the small affection, but his angle is awkward and he's just too melted and that's all he can manage. Purring again as Anders returns to the massage, Fenris shivers, even. This is everything he could want from Anders' touch right now, and he's completely gone. And the small smile, the perk to his ears, the contented sighs, they are not the words neither of them choose to speak, but they are as close as he can get, an obvious appreciation and return to his warm, pleasant affection.

Anders is thorough, working down into lumbar region before levering himself up and working at the tensions in gluteal muscle and the web of tendons at the body's primary bending point. He even gets his fingertips down under the edge of Fenris' hips to follow those tendons to their frontal source. When he feels the last of the resistance gives way, Anders turns himself around and works down the backs and sides of his lover's legs. He bends each one at the knee to gently stretch the tops of his thighs and works any remaining soreness from the arches and soles of both feet. Only then does he turn back around and press a kiss to Fenris' spine before rolling off to sprawl on his back, content.

By the time Anders is done, Fenris has just turned into a pool of melted elf. He's gone, completely. In fact, even by the point that Anders had reached the middle of his back, Fenris couldn't have even said which way was up, and everything beyond that point is just a blur. A hazy, comfortable, blissful blur of humming resonance and the most delicious release of knots of tension he didn't even know he had. It takes him a good, long moment after Anders rolls off of him before he shifts, just enough to turn slightly onto his hip and to drape an arm over Anders' chest with a languid purr.

Anders moves when he does, settling the arm nearest Fen so that it serves for his pillow and lifting the hand resting against his skin to his lips. He presses barely-there kisses to each fingertip before setting it back against his chest with his own hand resting atop it. Addictive had been the right word choice, Fenris; this is entirely addictive.

Instinctively, then, Fenris shifts to curl against Anders' side. One finger drawing gentle circles over his lover's chest, he smiles, content and happy. "You know," He says, voice gruff from disuse and laziness, "If this is what birthdays generally entail, I could grow to appreciate this."

Anders is quite happy to have a Fenris curled up against him. He bends the arm pillowing his lover's head to rest that hand against a lyrium-lined back. But that rough murmur is enough to make him laugh outright. "Mostly people want big parties with music and friends and drinks and lots of presents," he explains. "But you're allowed to spend your birthday however you like. That's half the point." The finger tracing circles makes him shiver pleasantly and he turns to nuzzle against white hair and breathe in his familiar, comforting scent. "If this is how you want to spend them, I've certainly no objections."

"I have seen well enough of extravagant birthdays." Fenris says, though with how relaxed he is, he can't even muster any bitterness to his tone. He settles, and the circles turn to other shapes, an idle game he doesn't even think about before beginning. "I think that it is. This is… Nice."

There may not be bitterness in the tone that offers this fragment in the closely-guarded tale of Fenris' life, but Anders knows enough to recognize that such things aren't easy. He squeezes the arm around his lover and leaves a kiss where his face has been buried - not so much for reassurance as recognition. "Square." That's trust being placed in him, piece by piece. "Triangle." He doesn't take that for granted. "Star." He names each new shape as its traced, little hints of quiet laughter escaping him with each answer. "Then it is settled. The sixth of each Solace we'll spend exactly like this." But then his mouth quirks up and he can't resist teasing just a little. "But eventually we'll run out of magisters to harass, you know. And then I'll have to find something else to bring you lists of ways to do."

The listed shapes make Fenris smile. It had been idle game to keep his hands busy, but it's amusing, Anders identifying them. Strangely soothing to something in his soul, a small act of bonding he's not really known before. There's that ache again, and this time it catches his breath for a moment before he can shrug it off. He nods, though it's only a small motion with his head against Anders' arm. "I am sure you can get creative by that point. There are a lot of Magisters."

Anders huffs a gentle laugh, reaching his free hand back to tug the tie out of his hair and brush fingertips over scalp to ease the pressure of being held back that way for such long stretches of time. "I'd best start working, then. I'd hate to run out and find myself scrambling to please. Some of my best work has been improvised on the spot, mind you. But… also some of my worst." And he'd rather not roll the dice on anything to do with Fen. Not even a little bit.

"Somehow that does not surprise me." Fenris says, though which side of it he is talking about, or both, is up for debate. Shifting, he puts his leg over Anders' own, a small possessive movement. For a long moment, he goes quiet, and when he speaks again, it is softer. "I - This is - Pleasant." He'd said something similar before, but there is a sense that he is speaking of something different this time.

That small, possessive movement makes Anders purr, lifting his back off the bed momentarily in a stretch that is entirely feline. He does well in that extended quiet, stroking over what skin he can reach and simply letting himself drift. Fenris' interruption of it brings with it a strong sense of deja vu. He eventually shakes it, but still. "Mhmm," he acknowledges, but twists to look down at white hair. Like that's gonna clarify everything. "It is definitively that."

Nope. Fenris is saying no more words on this matter. None. His eyes close, he smiles faintly, takes a deep breath and just settles back in to being quiet.

Anders settles back into that quiet as well, but for him the space defined by its lack of noise and clatter is a thoughtful one. "Fen," he ventures gently. "I also - that is to say it is pleasant… Me too." Good job. Smooth operator, this guy. Heaving a sigh at himself, Anders can't help the self-deprecating laughter, quiet though it may be, that stems from his inability to reliably People. "Think you can sleep yet?"

It'll do. Fenris smiles, eased by those words. Things unsaid. In the most blatantly obvious way they could have been, but unsaid none the less, and that worked well enough for him. Perhaps it wasn't the smoothest thing, perhaps it wasn't the best Peopling, but Fenris often opts of eschew the regular concepts of Peopling anyway. "No, but I do not so much mind."

Anders hums understanding, turning to his side and draping his other arm over Fenris' waist. "I've almost finished brewing our stock of draughts and elixirs." He doesn't say 'for this insane Deep Roads venture' but that ghost doesn't even need to really be implied. "And I need to go to the Gallows and get the new staves for our mages." He doesn't enjoy being in the Circle ever, but fun times with the giant floof bird make it more bearable of an experience. "Is there anything you still need before we go?" Because Fenris' concept of being safer together obviously extends to supplies and equipment as well.

"No, I do not believe so." Fenris says, "I do not travel with much. Never have." Which, you know, out in the wilds of Thedas, he could manage. Especially as far North as between Tevinter and the Free Marches, and being an elf, which just seems to be a benefit to not dying out in the wilderness. Down in the Deep Roads, his penchant for 'making it work' might not be the best game plan.

Anders listens, already chewing his lower lip and trying to come up with a way to say anything without sounding like an ass. "You've never traveled in the Roads." It's not a great start, but it's spoken quietly, without mockery or condescension. "Topside you don't need to carry much. Almost all possible incidentals can be picked up or altered from your surroundings. Down there…" He shudders, the remembered taste of blood and bile and stale air in the back of his throat. "You don't use what you find down there, for the most part. And that's if you can find anything at all. It's a different…" he sighs, already knowing he's going to sound like some old uncle telling legends around a fire. "It's a different world down there. And not a kind one." He moves his upper arm just enough to let him stroke his palm up and back down his lover's flank and back. "What all do you have?"

Sounding like an old uncle around a fire or no, Fenris doesn't actually disbelieve him. He was confidant and sure, but he was not so prideful as to think he knew what the Deep Roads were like. "Not much," He answers simply, "More than some times, with how long I have stayed in one place. But it's what I can keep on my person, and I do have a bag at the moment. I have learned how to make things multipurpose, like the armoring repair kit I keep on my belt." There's a deep breath at the movement of Anders' hand, but it is a calm, pleasant thing. "You are welcome to go through the bag, if you like."

Anders nods, the movement brushing against the hair he still hasn't pulled his face out of. "That… would make me feel better, thank you." He's starting to come to terms with his reputation for 'fussing', apparently. At least a little bit. "I'll bring my kit tomorrow and we can go through them both together. Some things we'll only need one of between the two of us, some things we'll want separate - or back-ups. It'll be most efficient to organize as a unit." There were things the Wardens provided on the whole, but as a general rule each Warden has their own kit and Anders settles better knowing that's one less thing to worry about.

As it turns out, Fenris isn't really fussed about what is put in that bag, so long as the things he needs to travel are still there. Which are really all things that he wears on his belt, anyway, so he's not concerned. "If it will ease you, then alright." Fenris says, still relaxed enough to be amenable to just about anything at the moment.

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