Cullen is pacing, nervous and barefooted across the cold stone floor of his office. The bed creaks upstairs and Dorian’s sleep-roughened voice calls to him. Cullen does not hesitate to answer, to ease Dorian’s worry. “I am here.” He answers. It is late. Or early now, depending on how one looked at it.
There is movement and shuffling, and Cullen feels guilty at the first creak of the ladder rungs. He glances up as Dorian, swaddled in the bed covers, slowly works his way down to Cullen. He is half asleep still as he reaches Cullen, Cullen’s cloak in his hands to wrap around the man and keep him warm. “Nightmare?”
Cullen pulls the cloak to him but lets go and stares at Dorian instead. As arrogantly self-serving as Dorian pretends to be, he never fails to wake when Cullen stirs at his side and needs comfort. He never fails in giving it, either. A warm hand, gentle words, soft embrace. Even just space and a slow walk around Skyhold.
“No… not a nightmare.” Cullen takes a breath to speak but it catches in his chest, frozen as he watches Dorian rub his tired eyes and curl into the bedsheets. Tucking his toes into the edge of it to protest the mountain’s chill, but still stood patiently before Cullen with no intention of leaving him yet. “I…” Cullen rubs at his neck and swallows hard. “I thought I might… think. Down here. Without disturbing you.”
Dorian yawns and chuckles. “That worked out very well. Shall I leave you to your pondering?”
Words stick in Cullen’s throat, large ones that feel like they will shatter the world if they break free but will explode from him in the need to get free if he does not say them. “No, I… I will sleep.”
Dorian smiles as he shakes his head, fondness overtaking any irritation Cullen wouldn’t blame him for as he takes Cullen’s hands and leads him to the ladder. Cullen looks at Dorian and feels that same realisation he had woken for, thrum through him- heat and shock and need, burning through his chest and clawing to get free from his tongue. He loves Dorian.
You’re in the back seat of a car and your father is driving, but your mother is in the passenger seat and loudly wishing she had. You’re twelve years old, or maybe you’re fourteen. You might even be twenty, it’s hard to tell, because this scene has played out so many times that you can’t remember when one reenactment starts and another ends.
You’re in the back seat of a car and your mother is driving, and your brother is in the passenger seat trying to make pleasant conversation. You’re thirteen or fourteen because your brother hasn’t graduated high school yet and you’re talking about American Idol because it was still the highlight of your week, until the car is a beast of its own and your mother is yelling and you’re frozen to the seat like the water is frozen to the road, except it’s in control and you are not.
You’re in the passenger seat of a car and your father is driving. You’re sixteen and you don’t know if you want to go to a dance or have a night in with your father, just the two of you, because you know he’ll take you to Denny’s and then you can watch movies on TV from before you were born. But suddenly a car is in front of your father’s baby blue truck and then suddenly it’s not. The glass from the window has fallen like confetti all over your body, and your father’s head has shattered a Rorschach image onto the windshield. When you talk to him, your father doesn’t know who you are.