Dalish is spitting up blood. Skinner keeps cursing at Bull, telling him to stop jostling her, but she’s spitting up fucking blood so the damage is done.
Bull supports her better anyway, adjusts his grip under and around her and tries to even out his gait – his damn fucking knee, he used to run like a fucking gazelle, now he moves like a crippled bronto in a marsh – while they rush back to camp. It’s close, it’s gotta be, past the next outcropping of trees, he can see smoke curling up over the pines, they’re good, they’ve got this, he didn’t watch Dalish slip down a cliff and get herself fucking killed. They’re gonna laugh about this later.
Skinner puts on speed, launching herself past them and shouting when she rushes through the trees, louder than Bull’s ever heard her, calling for Stitches and Hothouse to get off their asses. When Bull crashes after her into the clearing, everybody’s assembling, already clearing out one of the tents. Stitches appears at Bull’s shoulder and Bull follows him into the tent, has to duck too much to get through the flap, it’d be funny at any other time – Dorian’s already there, gathering elfroot and embrium into a bowl and muttering low under his breath, the herbs starting to glow while he works whatever magic him and Dalish spend their time figuring out together.
Bull lays her down and she’s swarmed, Stitches and Dorian immediately going to work, Dorian passing Stitches what he needs, them talking to each other fast enough that it sounds like it’s not trade. Bull grabs Skinner around the waist when she gets in Dorian’s way, tugging her out of the tent while she swings her fucking pointy elbows into his chest, shouting something about taking out his other eye if he doesn’t put her down.
He puts her down far enough away from the tent that she’ll think twice before storming back in, and she glares up at him with all the spite she can muster, her expression fucking bitter. “You’d be in there if it was Hothouse,” she snarls, and Bull’s not gonna tell her she’s wrong. She’s not wrong. He’d fight tooth and nail – and eventually somebody’d successfully kick him out too regardless.
“Get some air,” he tells her, and she flicks him off before stalking off into the woods. If she fucking falls off a cliff too he’s gonna… He drags a hand across his face. Not funny. No time to make jokes.
He ends up sitting next to Krem by the fire and trying to convince himself he’s not listening for a silence to overwhelm the frantic noise pouring out of the tent.
Dorian’s hands are shaking when he joins Bull in their tent later. She’s stable. She should, /will/ be all right. He and Stitches aren’t used to working together like this, it’s exposed a weakness, they’ll fix that, they’ll need to train together, it’s a learning opportunity really – and Bull wraps his arm around Dorian’s shoulders and pulls him close until he stops rambling. Until he lowers his head and evens his breathing, until his hands stop shaking because he’s holding their blanket so tightly.
“They’ve grown on me like mold,” Dorian says, his voice breaking, and he shudders through a laugh that seeps through Bull’s skin and down to his bones. “She’s – she was going to show me how she strengthens her barriers later.”
“Still gonna do that, thanks to you,” Bull replies readily, and Dorian nods, then pauses. Drags the back of his hand across his eyes before breathing in slowly, then out.
“Thanks to Stitches,” Dorian corrects, “and Skinner’s very precise instructions when she careened into camp.”
Bull kisses his shoulder, the side of his neck. Dorian sets to shaking again. “I’m not sure my heart is capable of caring for so very many people at once,” he says, and Bull holds him until he stills.