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Hates Children and Animals

Chapter 9.

Garrett sent emails from Orlais. The usual Fereldan cultural whine against Orlesian cuisine. Demonstrating a habit of befriending people with far too much potential to destroy him, Garrett had brought along his unofficial biographer as well as Isabela, and he occasionally emailed through snippets of an awful romance the pair of them were drafting. Anders was just glad Garrett hadn't brought Leto, then suffered a guilty pang wondering whether Fenris was now back to fighting for his life and his lyrium.

There wasn't a moment when his thoughts didn't lead him to Garrett. Work conspired to be less than busy, and Anders ached to get home, a safe space where Garrett had never ventured. Where he wouldn't be imagining that body, those shoulders, draped against the clinic's familiar backdrop. It never worked. The buzz of Kristoff's little tv was not enough distraction.

Anders should never had let himself be befriended in the first place. Garrett Hawke was high profile, knew too many authorities. Anders couldn't shrug away his concerns of captivity with as much insouciance as he used to. Kept him awake at night, anxiety churning.

But the anxiety was acceptable. The warmth and longing was what hurt.

Reading Garrett's description of a hiking trip between meetings, imagining himself hiking beside him, never a comfortable rural sound intruding because they were both committed to filling silence with talk. Stroking sunwarmed dogs during his downtime, imagining Garrett's beard under his fingers, his blood speeding unexpectedly and heat rushing to his groin. How solid Garrett's body would feel.

Relief was impossible even when he allowed himself. Telling himself to think of Garrett, jerking off vigorously, praying the indulgence would end the cycle. His mind refused to conspire. There were no complicated fantasies about worshipping a perfect column of cock, or penetration, the image of his own hands spreading arsecheeks which would be pale as milky tea. Only flashes of thought, image, sensation, sliding away when he tried to grab on. Thick thighs, rough palms. The one crooked tooth. The way Garrett slurped his tea, and it shone wetly on his moustache after.

Confused and frustrated. He tried masturbating thinking about his cock sliding along the inside slopes of Isabela's breasts, or about Lirene's throat bared as she rode him slowly crooning a lullaby in his mothertongue. About Leto's wrists with the veins scarred solid as rock beneath golden skin, forcing his thighs apart and hurting him. Those were controllable, familiar and adult, and no longer worked. His orgasms were weak, his fantasies without definition, and he stayed hard after. Everything about Garrett was just too tangled.

Getting off three times in an hour was something he did at sixteen. At his age, it was ridiculous, and mopping up made him feel guilty and sick.

The month went by too quickly. Garrett was nearly home, and the fire and frustration was at the same fever pitch. Anders stopped jerking off. Told himself to stop playing this game when indulgence clearly wasn't helping. This desire had to end. When Garrett got back, it would all go back to normal and Anders could relegate this lonely month to excess curry and boredom, until his memory of the ache was as deeply buried as the rest.

Garrett must be about to ask him what he was so nervous about. Why he was so inexplicably interested in his holiday. Anders would let Garrett speak, then fire off a question before Garrett could even take a breath, trying to keep him talking. Even half an hour ago Anders had been feeling smug in his self control, having managed to keep his hands away from himself for a while, his fantasising very firmly in line, even talking to Garrett over the phone to arrange their evening feast – fish and chips from the docks, now that Garrett was in a thinner cast and could drive his own car. Anders had felt so confident about how normal they could be together.

But he'd always been good at self deception. Garrett in reality was harder to resist than a fantasy conjured at a distance of two countries.

Anders couldn't understand how he hadn't noticed that wondrous body before. Every line of it, every action, the captivating pulse in that neck. Trailing beard hairs, the way Garrett's hair needed a cut, hanging shaggy over his eye, the unruly zig-zag of its part. The lips were thin, but so expressive, such a long, beautiful line of nose. The lines wrinkling at the corners of his eyes, the way his jeans sat just a little too tight, lifting and separating. The bulge of his crotch. Well packed. So well packed. Every inch and twitch would thrall him, inside or out. The powerful arms, muscles bunching and shifting under the thin white shirt. The spread of thick thighs against the bench where Garrett sat.

Anders closed his eyes tightly, not trusting himself with the sight. Garrett's voice droned on. Something about religion and business never mixing. Anders carried with him a vivid image of the way Garrett's tucked shirt gaped just a little above the belt, showing a line of black hairs leading downwards. An unmistakeable invitation to his hand.

No, he was not doing this.

His cock thick and heavy between his legs. Anders scrabbled the greasy newspaper from the table, a bundle which covered the salient parts as he tried to stride to the bin. He was so hard he could practically count the teeth on his zipper. Shoving the papers into the bin, Anders twisted to push his cock against the hard edge of the bench, intended as a reprimand.

The pressure nearly send him over. He doubled up in shock.

'Are you all right?'

'Ng. I. Yes.' Anders staggered away from the bench, turned so Garrett couldn't see. Hunched. 'Cramp. Nothing explosive. Ugh.'

Garrett was sliding off the bench, coming closer. Maker, please, make him go away!

'I told you to put salt on your chips,' the familiar, benign rumble. 'Be back in a minute, have to use your pisser. You sure you're ok?'


'You should feel free to fart while I'm out of the room, you know.'

Anders waited, frozen, until the retreating footsteps stopped and the toilet fan was droning. Gasping, he stumbled for the back door. I take it back, Andraste. Every wretched thing I said about your church.

Outside, the reality struck him again. There was no escape. He would come in his underwear or out. Anders opened his trousers, pushed them to his ankles to get enough room to spread his legs wide enough. Cold air made the hairs prickle, sharp enough it felt like fingers if he closed his eyes. A few desperate strokes, palming the slick head. At least there were no passenger trains at this time of night, only freight.

Anders scuffed his spill into the asphalt, buckled up, and sank to sit on the veranda. His hand was wet. His mind blank with horror, heart thudding too loud. Garrett would surely hear.

He would lose his best friend. Not to mention Karl would never speak to him again for leaving, after putting his own reputation at risk to get Anders into Kirkwall. All those promises he'd made about growing up. Ashes and dust. At least Kristoff had found something—

No, he was not despairing, not yet. He couldn't just keep running away. Think about it properly. Roaring obsession was nothing new, he'd made it a tradition. But the way this had grown so slowly with Garrett, someone he would have called a friend. It wasn't right. This was not how it was supposed to be. His tactics were betraying him, he wasn't supposed to like the people he wanted. How could he ever leave?

Anders had no fear of Garrett's anger. Only the contempt. The scorn. A straight man. He could never let Garrett know.

'All right?'

Anders looked up and back, smiling weakly. Garrett sank to sit by him, their knees almost touching.

'Did you flush? I didn't hear you coming.'

A scoff. 'Of course I flushed. You look flushed.'

'Yeah. That cramp. I was a bit sick while you were away, a stomach bug. I think it's lingering. Just muscular, but...hurting. I overate.'

Garrett studied him. Not critically. Anders had always thought himself so excellent at the lies that mattered, compensation for being so bad at the lies that didn't.

'You look like you lost some weight. I thought you must be missing my feeds.' Garrett knocked their knees together.

'I don't know anyone else daft enough to provide such a bounty. Even Karl keeps the grocery deliveries to bare essentials. What he thinks I can do with a cauliflower is beyond me.'

'Steam it.'

'In your dreams.' Anders knocked the knee back. 'Anyway, speak for yourself; Leto's cutting edge fashion sense start to stimulate your competitive urge? These days you're all tight shirts and tighter jeans.'

Garrett rubbed his mouth. 'Ah. Oh. Well. That's Isabela. Mostly. Felt like I was in mourning forever, she helped me clear out my wardrobe and replace it with,' Garrett gestured at himself, brow furrowing. 'To make me feel better. It all fits, at least? I— didn't think you'd noticed.'

'It's a fine shirt, Garrett.' It was. Provided he didn't try to look for the nipples peaking in the contrasting cold night air.

'Thanks.' A moderate silence. 'If you're not feeling well, I should probably go?'

No. Never. Stay forever. 'Only if you want to. I'm ok, mostly.'

'I'll be around for a while, no mine visits until the cast is fully off. You still up for that dinner out one day?'

'Yes. It'll be great.' A wan smile.

'When you're better. It's not urgent.' A warm hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly. His dick throbbed.

He would get through this. Anders closed his eyes, tensed. He was sure of it. His perspective would come back. Desire couldn't last forever.

The tiny tv had gone to the care centre with Kristoff, and the silence was crowding Anders. Too many memories. Every one of his wet dreams when he woke. Tangled flesh and yearning. A hunger he hadn't felt for years. The apartment's walls were closing in on him, details fading out until he could see only cinderblock, grey and featureless.

The last time I wanted something this bad—

No, he wasn't thinking about that, either. Desire this strong couldn't be healthy.

Garrett called to let him know he was coming for lunch again, this time with Fenris, having reached friendly accord with the neighbour about ownership. Anders was nervous all morning, and at ten to one, gave in, locked himself into the decrepit toilet and pushed his jeans to his knees.

His half-erection solidified immediately, skin tight and tingling in the cool air. The anticipation throbbed.

Anders tried not to think of Garrett. Most of the skirting tiles had popped years ago, green paint peeling. Only so much you could do with a scrubbing brush in a toilet this old, stale urine assailing his nostrils. Garrett pissed in here. Yes, and so did Lirene. Don't you dare start thinking about him holding his cock. Wanking just like Anders was now, angling over the bowl, wrist hurting with repetitive motion. In desperate longing for Anders. Lean over and kiss him; Garrett would be surprised, but eager. His zip sliding open, tooth by tooth. They didn't circumcise their sons in Ferelden. Anders could hear his own panting coming back at him. Don't moan. Oh, Maker, don't let me moan.

He heard the reception door open, Garrett's greeting to Lirene. Panic flushed from his knees to his forehead, prickling sweat. Garrett would walk through looking for him. Always had, even from the first day. No boundaries at all. Would barge in here— listen to those boots scuffing on the concrete, getting closer—

Anders brought his free hand to his mouth just in time. He wiped the seat dry, still shaking, and opened the door just as Garrett walked past, Fenris riding his shoulder.

'He's had atrocious gas. I think he ate a radish. Or maybe he's got what you had the other night. Even Dozer doesn't do what this cat does.'

Fenris lifted his tail on cue, then miaowed unhappily.

'Hello to you, too,' Anders said, coolly. 'I need to wash my hands, be with you in two. You know where it is.'

'No problem.'

Anders washed his face, too, slicking back his hair. Standing close to Garrett in the exam room, he could smell the man. Clean starched shirt, a thread of sweat underneath. And talc? Not cologne. Oldschool. The desperate wank had at least saved Anders from another episode like the week before. Prodding the cat's unhappily distended belly, he felt gritty and ashamed, troubled by the images now invading his dreams. The excitement just at having Garrett this close was continuous, unabated. Anders could feel the heat starting again, his lower belly tight. He hadn't even known an arse could feel a need before, but he wanted Garrett buried in his, ached for it.

He was not working well, jerky and distracted, Fenris cringing away from him without the lyrium delusion as cause. Anders scrunched his eyes closed. Be professional. Think about the job. If you miss something, these animals might die.

'I can't feel any significant mass or obstruction. What's he eaten these last twenty four hours? Any likelihood he got into your rubbish?'

After the exam, they moved to the veranda instead of the kitchen, namely to let Fenris vent as he prowled the asphalt unhappily. Garrett retrieved their sandwiches and cola from the tiny fridge. Considering the evident gastrointestinal distress, they strayed to the topic of worst things eaten.

Anders cut Garrett off before he could start. 'Orlesian doesn't count.'

A moue of mock irritation. 'Fine. Then,' contemplative. 'My father's one and only attempt at tomato soup.'

'How could anyone ruin tomato soup?'

'This from someone who can't steam cauliflower. I don't know what he did. It was like a pot of red acid. Bethany ate it out of loyalty and was sick for two days. Looked like she was throwing up raw blood.'

'Ugh. Because cooked blood is so much better' Anders thought, and tried not to think, but his mind kept foregrounding the memory. Raw blood. Why dig this up, and why now? 'Raw cat.'

Garrett's eyebrows climbed. 'I warned you not to try that pie place down the road.'

'No, this happened—' His swallows were sticking. 'Had a stint in solitary, which happened to be when the splinter faction took over Calenhad and Kinloch Hold with it. They forgot about me. Us. Down there in the cells. And there was this cat. This cat. Battered old thing. He would slip in and keep me company. After about two weeks of no one coming down there, listening to the guy in the cell next to me go insane with thirst – there was a leaking pipe in my cell, one of the explosions jarred it lose, and then the cat. In and out, in and. Never brought me any mice, fat bastard. I was so—It's why I took this job. Dogs, not cats. I'm so sorry, I don't know why I just told you that. I hadn't even told Karl that.'

Anders clenched his fists, knuckles white, his chest hurting sharply. The longing pinched, desire and something else he couldn't name. He didn't know what he wanted from Garrett. Maybe that's why the sexual hunger was so wrong. So overwhelming. Because he didn't know what he really wanted.

'I'm glad you didn't starve to death.'

Anders looked up in relief, caught Garrett's mouth twitching.

'That is the second worst war story I've ever heard.'

'The worst?'

'Something to do with this family, fleeing from Lothering—' The old toothy grin, no true smile. 'Varric tells me I should stop trying to add dragons every second paragraph.'

'Ah, what would he know. Realistic economic drivers for mass exodus make for boring plotlines.'

'He's also far too fond of ambiguous endings.'

Through joint effort, they managed to steer the conversation back into safe territory, Anders' unease filtering away. Fenris settled himself against Garrett's thigh and bared his growling belly, looking at it miserably.

'I gave you Karl's number, right? If that doesn't settle in a day, you should really get him scanned.'

Garrett tapped his pocket. 'In my phone already. Oh – I've worked out where we can go. A new restaurant just a couple of streets away from mine. I can loan you a suit if you don't have one'”'

The panic came back immediately. 'I don't really want to go to a place where I have to dress up. I'd feel awkward.'

'Ok, it was just a thought. You're right, those jeans suit you. I don't think I've seen you out of the coat and trousers before.' Something in the expression on Anders' face made Garrett pause. 'You do still want to go out, don't you? I was thinking this Friday.'

'I'm—busy.' Despair. Not a white lie, this time. But Anders had already told Garrett too many truths, and betrayed him so many times over. Every wet dream. Every tug of his cock. What was it worth, a sin to spare Garrett the awkwardness? 'Kristoff's move to the care centre's been delayed, I have to stay with him.'

Surprise, but not suspicion. 'That's a pain. I thought he was all ready to go. You showed me that letter you helped him draft to his wife.'

'It was a surprise for us, too. A month, they think. Maybe longer. Sorry to throw out your schedule.' And if he hadn't worked out how to control himself in a month, then he'd know he didn't deserve Garrett in his life.

Continue to Chapter 10

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