Awkwardly Helpful Soldiers
Written for Cullen Positivity Week: Cullen at Work. SFW
The first time it had happened Cullen had been confused.
“I didn’t ask for this,” he said, staring down at the tray on his desk. A bowl of porridge, artfully topped with peaches and honey and a cup of what appeared to be peppermint tea had somehow appeared on his desk during his brief visit to the rookery.
“I…I know, Commander, but the kitchens had leftovers from breakfast that they were trying to get rid of. We thought, seeing as you’ve been at the training grounds since dawn, you’d… well…” The runner trailed off awkwardly and rubbed a gangly had over the stubble on the back of his neck.
Cullen’s frown softened slightly.
“This was unnecessary,” he said without any real conviction. “If the cook truly has too much food left over from breakfast then distribute it out between yourself and the rest of the dawn patrol; you were on duty before I was even awake.”
“I…I…yes, Commander, thank you, Commander,” the adolescent gushed, visibly relaxing.
“Dismissed,” he said firmly.
As the door swung shut behind the soldier’s retreating form, Cullen could have sworn he heard a voice murmur, “peppermint is good for headaches, I’ve heard.”
The second time, Cullen was suspicious.
“Commander, we have received the shipment of lyrium from the dwarven merchants. It is currently being unpacked to be distributed amongst the Templar troops.”
Cullen looked at the Templar through bleary eyes, trying to appear stern and unaffected as even the mention of lyrium sent another stab of cravings through his chest like a physical wound. He dreaded what he had to say next, but he’d said it the other twenty seven times a shipment of lyrium had arrived and he couldn’t falter now - especially when it concerned the welfare of his troops.
“Very well, I’ll come and inspect the distribution myself.”
The sick sweet blue… he imagined he could hear the insidious notes of its song from his office.
“No need, sir,” the Templar said quickly, his heavy armour clanking as he shuffled his feet from side to side. “I’ve already organised it myself, the others need only to form a queue and I think they can do that.
“I would certainly hope so,” Cullen said slowly, watching the red flush crawl up the determined Templar’s neck. He was suddenly conscious of the unhealthy colour of his own skin.
“Um…also…um… respectfully, you are not required to oversee every minor task, Commander. The Inquisition runs well enough without constant supervision.”
Cullen met the Templar’s gaze. The lines on his forehead and the growing bald patch on his head spoke of experience. He suspected only battle hardiness only prevented the now bright red Templar from looking away.
“Is that your professional opinion?” Cullen asked a little sharply.
“It is, Commander.”
“Very well.” Cullen leaned back into his chair a little and allowed his mouth to curl into the smallest of smiles. The lightness of even a single burden being lifted from the constant weight of his withdrawal was almost dizzying. He was going to make it another day.
“Carry on, soldier.”
Cullen strained his memory for the name of the Templar. Ser Daniel, that was it. The smile spread wider. Good man.
The third time, Cullen was grateful.
The sudden faintness had caught him by surprise, though in truth he should have anticipated it. He’d forgotten breakfast again. Then he’d worked through lunch, clearing the paperwork left behind from his troops being sent to move a damned dragon carcass from the Western Approach to allow some Orlesian to do Maker-knows-what to it.
The violent tilting of his office as he’d stood would probably have still been alarming even if he’d expected it. The blood rushed from his face with sickly burning sensation and his eyes rolled backwards as he collapsed. The impact as his head hitting the wooden floor exploded in purple dots swarming behind his eyelids and he fell into darkness.
The first thing he knew was the hard press of the wooden floor against his grazed skin. Cullen groaned and opened his eyes, fighting to see through the sudden rush of bright light. He lowered the hand that was shielding his face and the blurred face of a woman swam into view. A mage.
Confused and disorientated as he was, he still recognised her. She had been one of the most opinionated of the rebel mages upon joining the Inquisition, voicing her particularly vocal brand of scepticism at every opportunity. She didn’t look like she was about to plunge a dagger into his chest, though.
“I need your permission to use healing magic on you,” she said, her voice low and soothing.
Cullen tensed but nodded. The flood of magic that followed spread like cool water through his body, easing away the aches.
“Thank you,” he murmered, rising up onto his elbow as his became conscious that he was sprawled across his office floor.
Cullen then noticed a second mage, hovering over them in a slightly jittery fashion. He abruptly thrust something forward wrapped in a tea towel.
“Here, we stole it from the kitchens. Please don’t tell!” He said nervously. Cullen accepted it wordlessly.
The first mage seized him by the elbow and dragged him through the door with her. Looking back, she nodded at Cullen.
“We won’t talk,” she said softly and closed the door behind her.