An old fic I wrote for a friend who asked for Transmetropolitan for Christmas.
I’m signing my life away for the next thirty-six hours. The woman who does my physical is smiling and blue. She has the perfectly serene smile and cyanotic complexion of a hiver. In about an hour, I’ll be just like her.
Since returning to the City, I have heard little things about the hivers, but few people seem to understand what the Hive is. I started with the source, of course. The Hive promises the closest thing to bliss humans can have – belonging, peace, society, comfort, and freedom from pain.
Just your individuality.
A piddling thing, they say. Who needs it? Human pain comes from individuality – individuals hurt, the Hive endures.
They have my DNA, blood, hair, semen, saliva – even fluid from my eyes. Mucous from every imaginable orifice, and at least one I would have preferred not to imagine. They’ll be readjusting some of those little details to ensure concordance with the Hive; my DNA will be the same as that of every other post-human cell in the greater organism.
The Hive is the single greatest producer of new software technology in the world. With the hive mind, the programming continues seamlessly morning, noon, and night. When one body moves out to get some rest, another body takes up the coding without a break in the flow. There’s no ego to hold up projects, no workers unsuited to the job no matter what the job may be.
It (the Hive claims to be singular) swears that it does not want the rest of humanity to become one great Hive. When I asked why, they – it – told me that some humans are constitutionally incapable of bliss.
It’s why the Hive offers the three-day immersion.
I leave my clothes in a locker that will open only to the print of my human DNA. If I choose not to revert, my belongings are the Hive’s, of course.
I have permission, as a reporter, to continue to wear my Live Shades for the next three days. The Hive says it has nothing to hide. With everything as public record, I’m sure I’ll get my ‘self’ back.
I’d be nervous if my lawyers weren’t bloodthirstier than the Voodoo Revival cult in Robson Canyon.
Those who are curious about Hive life can sign up for three days of the Hive experience. Seventy-two hours: bliss or your money back.
That’s right – your money back. The Hive claims that ninety percent of those who take the test run never want to leave.
The price is quite simply everything – your possessions, your body, your mind, your individuality, and some would say your soul.
Bliss? Or oblivion? It begs the question of whether there’s a difference.
This is it.
The table is cold for a split-second, then it warms to my body temperature. The DNA reprogramming will begin any moment.
I say goodbye to myself. \
Why only seventy-two hours?
They tell you that you only need seventy-two hours because three days in the Hive is an accurate predictor of what can be expected for the next three years or three decades within the commune.
If you’re unhappy after three days – you’ll be unhappy forever.
I’m me again.
It has been the most peaceful, tranquil, fulfilled, blissful, blessed, delightful – the superlatives just keep coming – seventy-two hours of my life.
I belonged. I was happy. I was productive. I wanted for nothing and I knew my place in the order of things.
I fucking hated it.
Of the various ways we try to transcend being human – transients, foglets, the people at Farsight – we still remain human. We have our failings, our fuckups, our selves. Most of us aren’t worth the oxygen we breathe.
I don’t need to tell the blue man who has brought me out of the Hive mind; we all know I’m one of the ten percent not meant for bliss.
From time to time demons find themselves trapped in the bodies of animals. One of the most recent recorded instances, as recounted by Sister Leliana, companion to the Hero of Ferelden, occurred in the village of Honnleath, in which a desire demon was imprisoned in the form of a cat.
Less well-known, but even more deadly than the demon, Kitty, was the hunger demon, Rapacity, that took the form of a rabbit. Many templars were lost in attempts to dispose of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. It was finally vanquished through the use of a Chantry relic salvaged from the time of Andraste herself.
Let this serve as a warning to all that even the most harmless of animals can host great evil.
In memory of those lost, I am Brother Palin.
continued from here…
It came as naturally as breathing, rising to their knees, sliding into a kiss that was novel by virtue of tasting like nothing. Barring unfortunate mornings, how often does one truly note the flavor of one’s tongue after all?
Xenon cackled in the background, and Urchin watched incuriously in their peripheral vision, but what did it matter? Now and then a little quasi-public display was just what the pirate ordered.
She rose first, pulling him to his feet to push him back against a barrel of the collected tears of a thousand deflowered virgins or the back sweat of a Qunari karataam or something equally outre.
The laces down his thigh were perfect, just tantalizing enough to slip her fingers inside, and for the first time, she thought she might have found a man who was good for more than one thing.
When he took a turn to dance her backward until Andraste’s breasts were digging into her back, but she didn’t realize what he was doing until Xenon’s shout rang out. “Don’t fondle Andraste!”
Please, don’t restrain yourself on our account. Break your computer screen and toss your keyboard down the wood-chipper.
“I hate you, you know,” Anders said, tossing another coin into the center of the table.
“I know,” Fenris said, not looking up from the cards in his hand. “You tell me this every time we play cards.”
“It’s true,” Isabela said. “Every time. I don’t know why you keep coming back since you hate him so much.”
“I think the better question,” Aveline interjected, “is why Fenris keeps coming to play with Anders when he could be playing cards with my husband.”
Hawke had come to believe that all ancient, highly-ornamented chests in dwarved ruins were put there by ancient dwarven tricksters just to piss off future scavengers.
He finished delicately maneuvering the lock’s tumblers with his picks and smiled tightly upon feeling more than hearing soft click of success. This time would be different. This chest practically sparkled, there had to be something.
Anders and Varric pushed closer to see over his shoulder while Aveline shifted restlessly, anxious to get the looting over with and move on to finding their fugitive.
“Now, then…” Hawke murmured under his breath, raising the lid, picturing treasure that would finally push him over the top for his Deep Roads fundraising.
Inside, there was a dismal shine of a few coppers, but Anders gave a happy cry and leaned over Hawke’s back to snatch up a single gleaming raven feather.
“I’ll take that.”
Hawke considered the rare smile that graced Anders’ lips while he tucked that feather into a pauldron, fussing to get it firmly seated among the other feathers; at least there was some treasure in there after all.
Part 31 is over here.
Parts 1-30 can be found under my The Hour is None tag here on tumblr, or on AO3. I recommend those versions rather than the kmeme version because they have fixed continuity errors and better proofing.
A rare unprompted Volutions piece that contains only the barest hint of Anders and Fenris and is mostly Hawke and Ser Pounce-a-lot. Funny how these things go, since I started to write it intending to get from point A, contemplative Hawke, to point B, Hawke giving Isabela her sweet black corset.
What I got instead was 1162 words of Ser Pounce-a-lot putting Hawke in his place. In the Volutions timeline this would take place sometime between The Key and No Real Choice.
Meeting of Minds
It was late, but in Kirkwall it seemed as though it was always either too late at night or too early in the morning. Nothing was ever moderate in the City of Chains.
Hawke sat in front of the fire in his study with a glass of wine that had been watered so heavily, even Justice wouldn’t have complained about Anders’ drinking it. He had seen Isabela out with a last toe-curling kiss at the door and settled in to let his mind unspool its constantly running thoughts enough to get some sleep before he got up to start another day of getting into everyone’s business.
All appearances to the contrary, Hawke and Isabela did not spend every night snogging each other senseless until dawn. More often than not lately, Isabela preferred to sleep on The Lovers’ Wake while Hawke preferred waking in his own bed. It didn’t mean that they didn’t have meaningful awake time in her quarters or his bedroom (or Wounded Coast caves or back alleys for that matter), and it didn’t mean that they didn’t actually sleep together in addition to sleeping together, but this arrangement worked for them.
In a world where so many things didn’t seem to work at all, Hawke took comfort in what he had with Isabela and with all his friends for that matter. Meredith may have named him Champion, but he wouldn’t have survived his years in Kirkwall without the people who supported him.
He heard a door open upstairs and the distant sound of Anders’ laugh in response to some barely-heard rumble from Fenris.
Hawke smiled, listening to the creak of the back stairs as Anders headed down to the kitchen for a late night snack. His friends supported him, and in turn he supported them, although supporting Anders’ appetite was enough to ensure that Hawke would never sit back and rest on his accomplishments if he wanted to avoid being made a pauper.
He laughed softly to himself and leaned forward to stir the coals with a poker. He considered feeding Anders to be fair trade for all the times the man had put his guts back where they belonged, especially after what the Arishok had done to him. Anders’ arrival on the day of the Qunari attack had been nothing short of miraculous.
He leaned back and closed his eyes, letting himself think of the things that did go right, and especially thinking of Isabela. There was something there with her. Something good. Something—
A solid weight landed in his lap, jolting him up with a gasp even as his hand closed on the hilt of the dagger he kept stuffed down in the chair’s cushions.
Anders’ cat meowed at him and dug claws into Hawke’s leg.
“You furry little bast—” Hawke caught himself and shot a look toward the open door. Anders positively doted on this cat, and in addition to being a smashing healer, he was quite capable of tossing a lethal fireball or two, given the right provocation. “Bas, that is. You furry little bas.”
Okay, so… the prompt was everyone was kissing everyone else.
I… dunno. It’s a bit under 2400 words and contains a bit of (I can’t believe I’m writing this) Sebastian kissing Fenris. And everyone kissing everyone else. It is, however, definitely Volutions, which means definitely Anders/Fenris at this stage in the game. Set a couple of weeks after Aceldama, but before Mentimutation.
The most explicit thing in this piece is a reference to horn fellatio, but true to the prompt there are both likely and unlikely kisses going on.
“Hey, Fenris, where’s Anders?”
Fenris took a card from his hand and laid it face down on the table before he looked up at Isabela. “Why are you asking me?”
Aveline snorted, Merrill giggled at her cards, and Sebastian gave the entire table a disapproving look, but Isabela grinned before flipping a fresh card to Fenris.
“Don’t play coy.” She dealt cards out to the rest of the table and raised an eyebrow at Hawke to wait for his bet. “We all know you’ve gotten over your ‘I hate all mages’ thing.”
“It’s true,” Hawke said, nodding sagely. He bounced a coin on the tabletop to land in the center of the table while most of their friends nodded in agreement.
“It’s cute,” Merrill said. “You sneak looks at him when you think none of us are watching.”
“I do not,” Fenris said. He didn’t want to snarl or snap or sound defensive, but why were they all so interested in his relations with Anders anyway? Didn’t they have enough to gossip about with Hawke and Isabela, or Aveline and her awkwardly progressing relationship with one of her own guardsmen?
“You do,” Aveline said. “We’ve all noticed.”
Varric returned from the drinks run and set a loaded tray on the edge of the table. Hawke snatched two tankards off the tray and passed one to Isabela. “Are we talking about the most unlikely couple in Kirkwall again?”
Alistair/Anora! Just to see what you do with it.
*coughs* It’s hardened Alistair.
Alistair closed the door with a last, self-conscious smile to the guards and put his back to it. He didn’t hear a peep from the other side of the door, but he imagined them nudging each other and smirking knowingly because they thought the king was going to lay claim to new ground.
They weren’t on this side of the door with that supposed new ground.
“So.” Anora looked him over once, sweeping her eyes over him from head to toe before turning her back on him to open a door on the far wall. He tried to see past her, but whatever was on the other side of the door was in shadow.
His eloquent conversational gambit hadn’t panned out so well. She was probably going to reveal that the room she’d just walked into without a glance back at him was an armory and she was going to come back out with a cleverly concealed knife with which to remove his jewels to put them in the royal treasury. That would end all the talk of heirs before it even started.
He cleared his throat and tried again while she paused inside the door and did something that caused the room to light and cast her in silhouette.
Say something nice, say something considerate. Women like that don’t they? Well, not women like Mor- right, don’t think about her. Awkward.
He caught himself before Have you ever tried ancient sex rituals? They bring anyone together, tumbled from his lips.
“You know, we can just take some time to get to know each other,” he said to her back. “Just because it’s our wedding night and people are…” he gave up and took dragging steps across the great bedchamber toward the door where Anora had now disappeared.
“Anora?” He reached the door and peered inside only to have Anora appear in the doorway to thrust a heavy piece of cloth into his hands. He took it reflexively and raised it up to find that it was a heavy russet robe embroidered with threads of gold.
“Put it on,” she said brusquely and turned away, raising her hands to unpin the complicated braid in her hair. “You get tonight and every night until I’m with child, and then I never want to see you in this room again.”
Alistair felt his jaw drop before he let the robe drop to the floor and turned on his heel. He remembered the lessons his friend had taught him, Everyone is out for themselves. You need to learn that. Every time he wanted to go back to the softer man he had been before he learned those lessons, someone reminded him of how true it was.
He shook his head and strode for the door. If the throne could support one bastard, it would tolerate another.
Zevran/Isabela - the moment after he killed her husband
It is done.
There is blood on Zevran’s cheek and his eyes – usually so warm with humor and genial lust – his eyes are cold.
Isabela feels his gaze as though it has an icy weight. Some would say she should be horrified or outraged or at least frightened that this man – this assassin – has just informed her that her husband is dead, but the upwelling of emotions that comes brings none of those. She is not horrified, she is relieved; she is not outraged, she is grateful and she is not frightened, because even if the city guard were to board this ship – her ship – now and take her away to hang her for colluding in her husband’s murder, she would go to dance at the end of a rope knowing that bastard died first!
It’s all she can do not to laugh. “His body?”
Zevran’s laugh is light, but his expression is still chilly under the laugh. “I made the poetic choice.”
Isabela can’t help but look down, as though she can see through the ground under her feet to her husband’s final resting place. “The sewer?”
“It seemed appropriate, yes?”
She laughs now too, because years of weight have lifted from her shoulders and she feels as light as the little girl she once was, running past the docks in Llomerryn on her way home with a stolen sweet on her tongue, laughing because she can, because she’s free and the world is hers.
“Yes.” She rubs the blood into his cheek with the ball of her thumb and laughs again, more softly to herself. “Thank you, Zevran.”
“I would tell you that I would do anything for a beautiful woman,” he says, his eyes finally thawing from their professional chill, “but we do not have to have lies between us when we understand each other, do we?”
No, they don’t. They can save the lies for the fools and the marks. “When do you leave?”
“Now that my business is concluded I should return to Antiva City tonight.”
She knows him too well not to hear the sly undertone in his words. “You should,” she says, tracing the lines of his tattoos with her fingertips just as so many other women and men have done before her and still more will do long after they part ways. She likes that thought – he isn’t hers and she is not his.
The ice in his gaze has thawed completely, replaced by familiar heat.
“But you won’t.”
Over the years, Isabela has better lovers, but never a better night with a lover than the night she became a widow.
Zevran and Alistair bromance - Dog gets them out of a sticky situation.
Here we go. I got the bromance instead of awkward (and unplanned) UST.
“I told you this was a bad idea,” Alistair hissed in Zevran’s ear, but Zevran only chuckled silently and patted the air to hush his friend.
“Have patience,” he said in a whisper as quiet as a mouse’s sigh. “They cannot stay there forever.”
But the guards showed no inclination to leave the gate unattended and the patch of shadow that was hiding the unlikely pair was shrinking by the minute as the full moon peeked above the courtyard walls inch by gleaming inch.
Zevran waited with all the patience of a snake, but silence and stillness did not come so easily to Alistair, with the price of his effort rising along with the moon. He should never have let a mad Antivan assassin talk him into “just a little side trip” to the Denerim estate of a man known for his collection of obscure magical tomes.
It is Wintersend and our warden deserves a proper gift before we send him off to face the archdemon.
What about Alistair? He was a warden too. He was going to face the archdemon too. Where was his death defying act of goodwill and gifting?
More importantly, where were their reinforcements?
When the moon had risen enough to bite into their shadowed corner, Zevran sighed softly, held up a finger to signal Alistair to be patient, and removed a thin tube from one of his pouches. He put the tube to his lips and blew, making no sound but the hiss of air blowing out of a hole carved into the tube before he tucked it away.
“Be patient but a moment longer,” he whispered.
They waited until they were both flattened against the wall with the moonlight licking at the toes of their boots before Alistair heard fragments of conversation rise from the guards.
A shout went up. “—pissed on me!”
The guards left their posts in pursuit of the piss-and-run mabari and Zevran grabbed Alistair’s arm to pull him into a run, out of the courtyard, down the back alley, and through a maze of narrow alleys and gaps between buildings until Alistair had to stop and lean against a wall to catch his breath.
Zevran jogged back to him, barely winded, and clapped him on the shoulder. “Congratulations, my friend.” He tugged open Alistair’s pack and pulled out a huge tome that immediately took ten pounds off his shoulders. “You are officially a successful thief.”
Alistair straightened and gaped at the book. “When did that get in there?”
Zevran only grinned, teeth gleaming white in a sliver of moonlight. “I am very, very sneaky.”
Something bumped Alistair from behind, before coming around him to show the grinning face of his friend’s mabari.
How had he ended up in this crew of madmen? And mad dogs? And mad women, golems, and Oghrens for that matter? He ran a hand through his close-cropped hair and laughed ruefully, because these mad people were making this the best time of his life, which made him the maddest of the lot.
“Come on,” he said, turning around to let Zevran get at his pack again. “Put that back and let’s get going; we still have other friends to shop for.”
Oh Tempus dear, DA:O prompts. Would you write me Cullen/Leliana. Does that count? If that is hard to wrap your brain around, how about Zevran/Leliana instead?
Cullen/Leliana wasn’t actually that hard to wrap my head around, which kind of surprised me.
“Drink.” Leliana pressed the water skin into Cullen’s hands and helped him raise it to his cracked and bleeding lips. “Slowly or you’ll be ill.”
She pretended not to notice how his hands shook under hers or how his lips trembled. She could tell him they were natural reactions to what he had been through, but he hardly needed reminding of that, did he?
Her hands were also shaking. After what she and her companions had seen and done in this tower, only a monster would be unmoved. Later she would pry the tale out of the warden, but from the thin press of his lips and the rigid set of his shoulders, she could see that now was not the time. He had known many of the mages who had died in the tower, counted many as friends; she was not so insensitive as to demand a recounting of the Fade from him now.
He had looked on Cullen with an expression that said he was two steps from giving the templar the death he had begged for earlier before he turned on his heel to hover over Wynne while she tended to the wounded.
Cullen let her pull the water skin away from his lips before he drank too much and nodded his thanks. “I’m sorry for what I said earlier. You don’t know what they did to us – to me.”
Leliana thought of what they had faced in the Harrowing Chamber and flinched away from the memory. She thought she had a better idea than she ever wanted to.
She helped him walk to the wall and helped him slide down until he could lean there then slid down beside him. She helped him take a few more sips of water before she took his hand for simple human comfort and murmured, “Maker, though the darkness comes upon me, I shall embrace the light, I shall weather the storm.”
She paused and turned her head to see Cullen watching her. She summoned a smile for him and nodded, and when she continued reciting the Canticle of Trials, he added his voice to hers, “I shall endure. What you have created, no one can tear asunder.”