Aaaand then long-haired-fugitive!Anders for those who wanted more. When I take another stab at his design I’m thinking about keeping him with his cool colors.
We never saw each other again, Varric writes. The ink at the tip of his quill glistens. It’s nothing like blood, thicker than water, saltier than a teardrop. It’s bitter and it stains the desk below the vellum, leaving marks without having to strike them deep into stone.
And maybe that was for the best, Varric writes. He has to get it off his chest—dark letters like dark circles under dark eyes. The same shadows in the crook of a y’s curved tail as there were in the hollows of Anders’s cheeks that night they said their goodbyes.
To remember Blondie the way I thought I needed to, Varric writes. With all the familiar bits and pieces. A little hole in one ear; a wink at a golden earring like an inside joke. And the hairstyle, which I always figured made us Lowtown-chic. Two lost nugs on the highway of life.
Was there justice in it? Well, the same amount of justice there was in all of us, I suppose. Some of us trying to make things right; one or two of us just trying to make things at all. The rest of us just trying, Maker be damned, tossed on desire like a sinking ship—one with the mast split and splintered by blackpowder from a Qunari dreadnought.
Because we were all relics, you know? Stolen. Displaced. None of us belonged in that city. The similarities we found…might’ve been like grasping at straws, last straws, and trying to spin them into gold. Searching for a reflection in a broken mirror. You catch what I did there?
Now you see it; now you don’t.
And they say dwarves can’t make with the magic.
We never saw each other again, Varric writes. But I think I know how he got old. How he shed those feathers. How we all grew up and got smart and stopped thinking we could fly. How his hair got long, and I wasn’t there to chuckle, to stoke the fire, to say: ‘Hey, Blondie—at least now it matches your nose.’
i’ve been having so many cortega feelings this weekend it’s not even funny
i just can’t
Steve keeps a list of almosts. Just as important to calculations as every too much and not enough and just right, which doesn’t come around so often. That’s how it is. Eventually, the sum of those sums adds up to a life—which is an equation.
What you started out with. Raw numbers and data and, if you’re lucky, a personal constant. Some kind of balance or at least the illusion of a balance. Then, there are the variables. The subtractions. The additions. Solving for x.
Which, in James’s case, is charisma. Sweat. Muscle. A big chest that’s there to cover up a big heart.
Over seventy-five conversations about tattoos. More than twenty-five conversations about all-terrain vehicles. One hundred and seven meaningless flirtations. Fourteen toasts with cerveza. Seven toasts with what might’ve been Rachni piss, damn, Mr. Vega, where’d you get this crap? Too many low, breathless, one-arm pushup chuckles to count. Ninety-three ‘Hey, Esteban, get over here and spot me. …Yeah, you’re always in the middle of something. Number one sign you’re workin’ too damn hard.’ Seven winning Skyllian Five hands. Thirteen losing ones.
And the kind of nakedness that comes with stripping down and settling in and calling somebody’s bluff. Sometimes, it’s all you need.
Some kind of balance or at least the illusion of a balance.
‘Don’t wanna be looked at like I’ve got a busted wire inside my gut that needs fixing,’ James says.
‘Uh-huh,’ Steve replies.
‘I’m not a carburetor,’ James says. ‘You can’t reach in there and wind me up.’
‘And here I thought you were a well-oiled machine,’ Steve replies. ‘By your own admission.’
He puts his hands on James’s big chest covering up a big heart. Over seventy-five conversations about tattoos and this, x marking the spot, solving for x, Steve’s finally tracing the x-shapes across James’s skin.