Theron existed in a haze where he was aware that words were exchanged, but it was drowned by the pounding of his own heart. It seemed like forever until he pried his fingers from the leather harness, and the sounds of the forest bled back in. He rolled his head back to rest against the trunk behind him and shivered as Bull released him and stepped back. “You good?”
With a slow, deep breath, he glanced to the side again and froze.
Why is he still there?
The scowl was gone, but Solas was still there. Standing with both hands resting behind his back, every piece of the wolf suggested he was at rest and relaxed… except his eyes. The twin fathomless pits seemed to reach right into Theron’s chest and yank.
Theron reached a hand up to rub his chest slowly, opening his mouth to say something—apologize maybe—but paused because…why should he? Of all the really good reasons he could think of not to fraternize with members of the Inquisition, not a single one involved the wolf.
“As I said, Elana is ready to leave. We have much to do—”
Speech aborted, Solas seemed frozen. Theron tilted his head and slowly followed his gaze to the Iron Bull, who was…Oh god…running his tongue up his knuckle. Licking Theron’s… “Holy fuck. May the earth open up and swallow me now.”
“If we’d had more time, I would have.” Bull smirked and nodded back toward camp. “Maybe next time.”
Theron glanced back at Solas, who had turned away seeming uninterested, but clearly, it was a work in progress. Seconds later, he was caught when Solas glanced back at him.
The elvhen’s lips pressed together, and he shook his head quickly and then turned to walk back toward camp. “Don’t make us wait.”
“No… we’re coming.” He assured, pushing away from the tree and stumbling a few steps before he found his center.
Bull’s deep voice still did things to him, but underneath it was a layer of apprehension. “Yeah?”
Fuck. “Um…it’s the elvhen word for ground.”
Solas’s steady gate seemed to falter a moment ahead of them but then continued as if uninterrupted.
From behind him, Bull just hummed. That hum. You know the one. The hum that said you’re a shitty liar, and you shouldn’t have tried.
Theron was never so glad to make it back to camp.
“Where did you guys go?” The seeker asked as soon as they were in sight.
She seemed impatient, but had they really been gone that long? Theron couldn’t even say because he had no frame of reference for how long he’d been under after he’d had his mind blown. Fucking Bull. Mmm…fucking Bull.
Ah fuck. It wasn’t a rhetorical question. “Well, Bull needed help—”
“Refilled our canteens. There’s a stream about twenty minutes back,” the qunari lied smoothly.
To his credit, now that Theron thought about it, there was a stream that way that fed into the lake that he hoped they were visiting today. It was a bit early to know about Blackwall, but so many things were happening out of order already. Bull was proof of that. He’d wanted to ask how in the hell he’d been hired so early but had no idea how. No one but him knew that it wasn’t the way it should be. These deviances made him nervous, but…It’s my dream.
Except it’s not a dream, is it?
“Oh, I wish you had said. I would refill mine too.” The seeker said slowly. “You will show us, if it is not much of a detour.”
“Sure thing.” Bull nodded at the map she was holding. “Where to?”
Cassandra motioned for everyone to come closer. “Elana and I agreed we should investigate this area here and then work our way up.”
Theron frowned. Their path seemed to almost willfully avoid the section of the lake that he knew Blackwall had been found. Whether he was there now, who knew, but if they took that path, it would mean a whole separate trip weeks down the road. “I’m curious what’s on the other side of the lake.”
“Probably nothing but more bears,” Elana said as Cassandra rolled up the map. “We’ve agreed to meet Scout Harding at the next camp, and we don’t have time to visit both.”
Theron glanced at Solas, finding only a look of disinterest.
I’m on my own, it seems.
“What if we split up? I’ll go check it out, harvest some stuff, and then meet you guys at Harding’s camp?”
“We can’t send you off alone.” Elana’s eyes were wide, but Theron could tell she was thinking about it.
“Lana.” Ah, it had been only hours, and yet he’d missed provoking the wolf. “I’ve been traveling alone for a long time. Long before I joined the Inquisition.”
“But you’re not alone anymore,” she insisted. “I know. Bull can join you!”
“Elana—” Solas interrupted. “Iron Bull was hired to guard you.”
“Yeah, Boss. Maybe Solas should—”
Theron tried to smother his grin. “Then it’s settled. Bull will head with me and we’ll meet you all in a few hours at the Inquisition camp.”
Solas was quiet, and for good reason. A glance showed that he was clearly gritting his teeth, and when his gaze caught Theron’s, his eyes glinted, and he turned away.
When everyone turned to start gathering their things and Theron grabbed Mojo, it hit him. “Wait. Cass—andra, Varric. Your bracelets.” He delved into the bag and pulled out one at a time, holding one out to each of them.
“What…no ceremony?” Varric drawled, the trial of the morning seemed to have dissipated, and Theron was glad.
“Alas, I already blessed these last night.” He could feel eyes on him, but he couldn’t tell if it was Solas, Bull, or both. Either one probably knew he was full of shit.
“Shame. Not every day someone gets on their knees and gives you a blessing,” the dwarf held his wrist out while Theron helped him tighten it.
Did he even realize…
“Shame indeed.” He could swear Varric was blushing, but Theron cleared his throat and checked on the seeker, who definitely blushed as he adjusted her band. “Seeker, if it hinders your sword work at all, put it around your ankle instead.”
“It should be alright,” she rushed to say, holding her wrist close to her chest as if protecting it. “It fits well.”
“Good.” Theron smiled and stood, giving one last glance to Solas, who was still refusing to acknowledge them at all.
His smile faltered, and he hesitated until he felt Bull’s warm hand on the back of his neck again. It was followed by a low whisper that sent another tingle down his spine. “Come on, Killer. I’ll keep you safe.”
Theron smacked Bull’s stomach, wiggling his neck from the qunari’s grip as they set off toward the lake. “You’re a menace. You know that?”
Bull just chuckled and didn’t respond until they were both out of sight. “A menace that helped you get under the mage’s skin. You know, for someone who looked so in love at camp, he was fuckin’ livid to see my hand on your cock.”
The elf was quiet a moment even as he tried to process the feeling of satisfaction that tingled through him. “You’re all spies of a sort, Bull. He’s probably just worried I’ll tell you more than I told him.”
“And will you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe… maybe not.”
“I didn’t take you as the kinda guy to play coy.” For the first time since Theron had met the qunari, he sounded… flat.
“I’m not trying to. I don’t have a plan here, Bull. Some things I just can’t tell you, but some stuff I can’t tell him.”
Bull stopped and turned to look at him with his lips pressed into a hard frown. “So what…you can share our secrets, but not your own?”
Theron stopped and wondered if his face looked as hurt as he felt… which was stupid. Just because he felt close to everyone in the Inquisition, didn’t mean that he wasn’t still a stranger to every single one of them. “No. I won’t. Some secrets aren’t mine to share. Not anything you wouldn’t already know.”
The qunari’s frown didn’t let up, but he did tilt his horns to the left. “I think those are some of the weeds you were looking for.”
“Oh…” While he wanted to argue that they weren’t weeds, but he couldn’t really. Who the fuck knew. Maybe they were. Either way, he pulled Mojo from around his back and grabbed his dagger to cut it with.
“So what will you tell me?”
Theron glanced back, the same discernable look on Bull’s face that felt weird after how intimate they’d been earlier. But then… he was likely making it more than it was. Bull, at this stage of the game, wasn’t loyal to anyone but the Chargers, and the Qun, and Theron would do well to remember that. But fuck if he was going to be less honest with Bull than he’d been to Solas. “Not a whole lot while you still report back to the Qun.”
“I’ll always report to them, Theron. It’s my job.”
Theron just kept his head down as he tucked the blood lotus in Mojo’s mouth and sheathed his dagger.
“Theron… I will always be Qunari.”
Bull cursed, and a quick glance would show him rubbing a beefy hand over his face. “Fuck you, Killer. Fuck you. You can’t know what hasn’t happened yet.”
“I mean, it’s possible. There’s a lot more in this universe than even I can fathom, Bull.”
“What the fuck is a universe?”
“Alright…” Theron stood and gestured for them both to keep walking. “This is a secret…or in this case, knowledge, I can share.”
“If it’s not…pertinent to my mission, I won’t share it.” Bull added, his voice still low but softer.
A compromise, then. Perfect.
“So what would you call everything around us? Where we are?”
Bull gave him a look. “Hinderlands.”
“Bigger. All the known places together are called…”
“Thedas.” The word was drawled as if he were less than impressed with the elementary geography lesson.
“Bigger, Bull. What do you call the known and unknown places?”
Theron was grinning, and Bull probably should have known that he was the most dangerous when he was having fun. “And yet bigger, Bull. What’s up there? I know you know that the sun is a star and there are billions of stars. So what else is up there?”
Bull stopped again, his frown tensing the crow’s feet around his eyes for how hard it was. “You’re saying there are other worlds up there.”
Theron reached to press the frown lines between Bull’s eyebrows, but the qunari caught his wrist and held it. “Yeah, Bull. I’m saying that everything. All the stars, all the planets, and everything here, both seen and unseen… make up the universe. And go ahead and ask me if there is more than one universe. I’ll tell you.”
“No thanks,” he grunted, turning and continuing to walk, though much faster now.
Running, Bull? Really?
“Okay… so don’t. Look, I’m just saying. The universe is a strange place, and so are a lot of things and people in it.”
“Well, yeah. I’m fucking weird, right? Have I hidden that at ANY time?”
A snort was the only response.
“So you think I’m going to betray the Qun. You got any timeline for that? Next week? Next month?”
“Yeeaahh.. not soon.”
Another bitter glare back at him. “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to tell me?”
A hard sigh, and Theron could see the tightness between the qunari’s shoulders.
“You going to tell the Qun that some whackjob said you might betray them in the distant future?”
“Good. Because they are never on your side, Bull.”
“And you are?”
“Yeah, Bull. I am. Cause even when I’ll know all the signs that you are or aren’t on my side anymore, you’re still going to be one of the best men I’ll have ever known.”
There was silence, and Theron contented himself with the fluid motion of Bull’s muscles as he walked. He’d dropped a feelings bomb on someone who didn’t really believe in sharing feelings and who definitely was not even a real friend yet. He tried to be sorry, but… they were even now, right? Bull and Solas both knew things that he knew about them, whether either believed him or not.
“So, did we really come this way for weeds, or is there something else by the lake?”
“Something else by the lake.”
Theron grinned. “Technically, we’re recruiting another warrior with secrets.”
Another snort, but Bull glanced back to show his smirk. “So we’re collecting liars now, are we.”
“Yep. But we’re not going to flush out his secrets, Bull. Some shit’s just personal and he’s one of the few people whose loyalty isn’t tied to a religion or organization. He’s just a good guy who did a bad thing.” Despite the fact that he’d always run mage heavy in his playthroughs and nearly always took Solas and therefore didn’t take Sera, Theron was looking forward to idle time around Haven with the ragtag anti-mage group.
Am I considered a mage?
He grimaced at the thought of trying to convince Sera that he wasn’t a weird ‘elfy elf’ or doing a bunch of ‘magicky shit’ when, in fact, he would be actively trying to do a lot of ‘magicky shit’ all the time.
Less talking and more jokes and pranks. It’ll be fiiine..
“Don’t suppose your warrior with secrets is hairy from his head to his shiny white ass? A little girthier than I’d have thought from his build, to be honest.”
Theron grunted as he walked into Bull’s still form. The words started to process a second later, and he peered around the qunari. “Oh…yeah. That’s… that’s him.”
“What. You didn’t foresee that he’d be naked?” Bull smirked, but the tone of his voice said he still didn’t exactly believe him. He likely just accepted that he didn’t have to.
“Ah.. no. We’re early.”
“Weeks, at least. Maybe a month. I wasn’t even certain he’d be here yet.”
“You bastards going to watch me the whole time I bathe? The world has really gone to shit if a hairy bastard like me’s got to worry about my virtue and my belongings.” The gruff voice didn’t sound amused. Fuck.
“No. No, sorry.” Theron turned his back and then thwacked Bull’s stomach when he didn’t.
“Killer, there’s no way I’m turning my back to a stranger. I don’t care how buck naked he is.”
“Killer? Really. There goes any remorse I had for killing you.” The sloshing through the water picked up. Theron figured he must be getting out of the water and probably grabbing his sword.
Will he put on pants first?
“It’s a nickname, for god’s sake. A joke, at that. I killed a fuck ton of rams for the Crossroads before the Inquisition got there, so it’s making fun of me for being a slayer of rams.” Theron sighed, still not turning around. If he were meant to be skewered by Blackwall for oggling his dick, then so be it.
“Ohhh slayer… Varric will love that.” Bull chuckled, crossing his arms and settling into his stance. Since he wasn’t drawing his weapon, it must be alright… right?
“Please don’t.” Then, to the possibly approaching Blackwall… honestly, he still couldn’t tell. He didn’t hear the sound of armor clinking, so was he approaching at all or just standing there dressing in everything else?
“Ahh. I think I heard about you. Passed through Crossroads a while back.”
Theron nodded even though he couldn’t see if Blackwall was even looking. “We’re here to find and recruit a man named Blackwall… is that you?”
“Might be. What do you want with him?”
“Ah… do you have clothes on yet?” Theron moved to turn around—nope. “And that’s a no.”
“I’m air drying. No reason to get my clothes wet just because two bandits are interrupting my bath.”
“We’re not bandits. We’re with the Inquisition. We’re recruiting to restore order while the Herald seals the rifts. Maybe even the breach.”
“So you traveled all the way out here just to find me.” His tone was dry, and Theron had to admit… he hadn’t come with a catchy recruitment speech. Frankly, he couldn’t even remember how he had recruited him the first time.
“I think Thedas needs a warden right now, and we can’t find the others.”
Theron noted Bull shift slightly and a shuffling from near the lake. The voice that followed was rapidly approaching. “What do you mean you can’t find them?”
He chanced a look back and was relieved to see Blackwall had pulled on his britches. “I mean, they disappeared… which isn’t good. You’re the only lead we’ve found.” He didn’t have to look at Bull to know the qunari was paying close attention. They hadn’t learned any of this… yet.
Blackwall looked away, a fierce frown on his face, and Theron took a moment to consider how fucking larger than life he was. He’d always seemed so short compared to Bull, but he stood head to head with Theron, and he was built like a brick house. And the way water clung to the black curls on his chest…
Straight, Theron. He’s straight. It doesn’t matter how good that rug might feel on your nipples or how thick…no. Oh my god. You absolute whore. You just got a handjob from Bull, a glaremance with Solas, and now you’re eyefucking Blackwall.
“I guess it’s my duty to help. Maybe we’ll find out what happened to the others.” His voice seemed reluctant, but when Theron tore his eyes away from his happy trail, he noted his eyes looked… hopeful.
“Then we’re happy to have you. If you want to travel with us, we’re about to head back north and meet the Herald’s party at the Inquisition camp.”
The warrior nodded and headed to finish dressing and gather his things.
Meanwhile, Bull shifted on his feet again, and it made Theron glance down at his leg. “Is your ankle giving you trouble?”
A heavy sigh before Bull turned to look at him fully. “I’m done asking how you know shit. It doesn’t matter. I’ve done my best to keep it hidden, so either I’m getting rusty or it’s just another fucking impossible thing you mouth off and hope you’re right about.”
“You’re right. It doesn’t matter how… but seriously. How is it?”
“It’s fine, Killer. Better than usual.”
At this, Theron preened. “Good.”
Bull shifted again, and Theron’s smile faded. Ah. The qunari wasn’t in pain. He was projecting his discomfort in order to generate a reaction… just not the one he got.
“I’ll bite, Bull. What’s wrong.”
“Were you serious about that Warden stuff?”
“Yeah. It’s… not known yet, but Leliana will probably say something about it when we get to Haven. I just thought I’d save us another trip back out here.”
“Like all the ram killing and weed gathering at Crossroads.”
“Yeah. Just like that.”
A low growl came from the qunari that made Theron shiver again. “Careful, Theron. A wrong step with this will either get your head removed or a brand on your face.”
“You wanted me to share secrets with you, Bull. If you don’t want to know, tell me and I’ll hold my tongue.”
“No… I don’t know if I believe a damn thing you say, but I believe you believe everything you say, and I’ll fucking listen. Just… be careful. What if this guy flies fast and loose, makes it his new mission to find the Wardens, and tips off Liliana before she supposedly finds out through her own sources?”
“You better hope not. Remember who hired me, because I like you, Killer, but I don’t work for you.”
Despite Theron’s silence on the walk to join up at the Inquisition camp, the atmosphere was surprisingly pleasant. Bull worked his charm on Blackwall but notably didn’t flirt, and even Blackwall seemed pleased to have someone to talk to. He’d even tried to pull Theron into the conversation once or twice, but when Bull didn’t comment, neither did Theron. The elf just offered Blackwall an amicable smile and gave the shortest answers possible. Just enough to keep from being rude. Much like when he’d first joined the group.
He wasn’t mad. There was nothing to be mad about. So maybe he was a little disappointed, but mostly in himself. He never knew when to quit. Just like how his mouth had run to Solas, he’d pushed Bull too far today.
After such a nice handjob too.
When they arrived at the camp, he listened as Scout Harding updated them on local Inqusition movements.
“We expected to hear back from the Herald’s team by now. I sent a team to check on them, but they haven’t reported back either, and I’m afraid to send more and get nothing.” Harding glanced at Theron, then Bull, and then Blackwall. “But you three make up almost a full team, right? You could go check on the Herald and our missing scouts.”
Theron paused. The Herald was missing? And scouts? This was the Hinderlands. No one was supposed to go missing and especially not in those numbers. “Where were they last seen?”
“Oh yeah, her worship found a map to the rogue Templar camp and went to check it out.”
Theron frowned, still a little puzzled about how this had come about. Honestly, he’d taken out the templar camp with just the standard group before as well, so what was different now?
“So… you’ll go, right?”
“Of course we will.” He glanced between Bull and Blackwall before reaching back for Mojo again. “We’re just going to stock up and we’ll head out.”
He nodded for them both to follow and then dug into the bag for the bracelets. When he held one out to Blackwall, he sighed at the incredulous look on his face.
A glance at Bull showed a full-on glower. “Seriously, I know this looks weird but can you just trust me this once.”
“Sorry, elf… but I don’t take gifts from strange men, much less jewelry.” Blackwall’s voice was…was he fucking grinning?
“That’s it. Proof, okay. I’ll prove it works.” Theron reached for Bull’s arm and fought with him a moment as the qunari growled and half-heartedly tried to pull his wrist away. Half-hearted because there was no way Theron would get it over Bull’s wrist if he didn’t allow it to be there. So when he had it secured and then stepped back, he waved at Blackwall. “Alright. Hit him…or stab him. Something.”
“Theron.” Bull growled.
“Hit, yeah? You’re accustomed to being whacked with a stick.” Another comment that brought a fierce glare from the qunari.
Fuck. There’s literally nothing that I can do right today.
“Look, elf. I dunno that wounding a man right before we go on a rescue mission—which we’re waisting time not doing, by the way—is the right way to go about this.”
Bull took a deep, calming breath. “It’s fine. Hit me with your fist. Right here.” He smacked his rock hard abs and waited.
Blackwall seemed indecisive for a moment before he shifted to remove his gauntlet.
“Oh no, you’ll want to leave that on.” Theron warned.
After a confirming look at the Iron Bull, he shrugged and reared back his fist for what looked like a solid punch. Instead, his fist thudded against something, and a vibrant blue wave rippled outward from the impact that was a good two inches away from Bull’s stomach.
“I’ll be damned.” Bull muttered as the blue dissipated as the waves equalized. “This bit of pretty got a limit to the pounding it can take?”
“Nope.” This is MY dream.
Bull glanced at Blackwall, and Theron followed his gaze. The warrior had a thoughtful look on his face.
“Well?” Theron asked, holding up the other bracelet.
“Never thought I’d show my goods and accept jewelry from a stranger in the same day, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
Hopefully, this makes up for how short the last smut chapter felt like! I had to cut it here because the Rogue Templar Camp is going to be another long chapter as well.
Someone fucked up and this time, it wasn’t Theron!
Comments fuel me. <3