[text: Broodylocks ] I love you to the moon and back.
[ text: maribird ] yeah?
[ text: maribird ]
love you to mars.
“About what you said before you left. Did you mean that in an ‘I love you’ way or a ‘sorry I’m leaving for my ex’ way–Oh Christ in a basket, no, that’s terrible.” Marian sighed and finished drying the plate she’d been talking to in place of Kieran. He was out, something about Felix and ‘the green army’. They were probably down at Donnybrook’s with the usual gang. She’d get a slurry phonecall later if he couldn’t get a cab.
Things were going great since they’d gotten back together. They’d gotten their flat back, their impromptu hikes and their Sunday pancakes. She had no reason to dwell on the painful memory of him walking out the door anymore. Except one. One niggling little detail she couldn’t seem to let go.
While Kieran was leaving, he’d told her he loved her. And she still didn’t know if he really did or if it was just something that tumbled out with all his other emotions that night. Ever since, it seemed impossible to find the right moment to ask.
Fenris had pulled the same thing a long time ago: told her she was the better than anything he could have dreamed and then….poof.
“I’m just going to have to take my curiosity to the grave with me.”
He’d always wondered about people who played around with time – folk who said that time could slow ‘til hours felt like years, or went by much too fast. He’d thought them silly, melodramatic – and now it seemed he owed them all an apology. Seconds felt like centuries, and when she froze it felt even longer than that. Time was a crawl, time had stopped altogether, and the only way it would start again would be if Marian would just bloody move… even if it was to condemn him once and for all.
But either he’d finally gone crazy or someone up there had finally taken pity on this hapless duo. Time unfroze, and if this were a movie this would be the part where the strings started up, all gentle and mushy as her fingers drifted over three-day stubble. “ In mine it’s sunny. ” Said a voice he was pretty sure was his, albeit far more stupified than usual. It wasn’t supposed to be this easy. She was supposed to yell, throw things, call him names, all the shit he deserved and more. He’d convince her he was worth giving another shot, perhaps even starting again from scratch. In real life he was supposed to earn her forgiveness, not get it in ten seconds flat.
But if this was a fantasy world, then fetch him a fucking unicorn, because Kieran was on board with it and then some.
“ Pancakes all around then. ” Said that same odd-sounding voice, cracking a little as they moved again, one of them, he wasn’t sure who, closing the gap between them until they were almost nose to nose. “ With strawberries and chocolate or whatever you want—- Wait, hang on, ‘scuse me a second—”
He twisted, unwilling to disentangle himself fully from her grip, and without missing a beat slammed his fist on the desk – right next to the intercom speaker. Stereo yelps erupted from the other side of the office door, and Kieran’s face split into a broad grin.
The intercom light blinked off.
“ Sneaky buggers, ” He crowed, and that grin showed no signs of budging as he turned to meet her again – nor did he slow this time, closing the gap completely to press his lips to hers.
“ Sorry if I ruined the moment. ”
They were almost nose to nose. Her husband, her sweet Kieran, who had been gone for months had actually come back to her. By Hawke personal history, this wasn’t just a perfect moment, it was a miracle. Or a dream. Marian tipped her neck back, praying she wasn’t asleep.
“Wait, hang on–”
He writhed around in her arms, raising a fist and…
The cup of pens on the desk bounced. From beyond the door, it sounded like Varric had stubbed his toe and Orana had seen a mouse. The intercom on the phone had been on. Damnit. Marian laughed and shook her head with a mix of amusement and total embarrassment. Really Hawke, she scolded herself as Kieran turned back around, she should have known Varric would find a way to have the room tapped.
She barely had time to inhale before Kieran’s lips were on hers.
Her eyes fluttered shut, not sleeping.
“Nah,” she demurred breathily, leaning fully against him. She’d forgotten how warm and solid he was. She kissed him again, letting her hands drift down to his hips. Denim below leather. “Though we should probably close all the blinds when we get home,” she squeezed. “Either way.”
It was time to get out of Varric’s office before the short man found a way through the vents or something…
With an effort, Marian brought to mind the mundane details: her things were at her apartment, mostly in boxes. She’d driven here in Garrett’s truck with a case of beer rattling in the passenger seat, not expecting company. “You must have come here from Felix’s place.” It was more of an admission than a question. She’d dialed the first few digits of his brother’s number a few times after Kieran left. It had rang once, but she’d hung up when the voice that answered wasn’t Felix. “I have uh…your toothbrush on house arrest.”
“Do you need to pick anything else up? ”
Kieran visibly flinched, looking very much like he wanted to back away as she froze, all wrath and desperate indignation – but he didn’t move an inch. It was like he had frozen in time, mouth hanging open, red-rimmed eyes wide and staring as her tirade poured over him, words that hurt and thrilled in equal measure. He opened his mouth, shut it again, trying desperately to make some sense of all that.
Because if she didn’t want to…. if she really wanted him…
And just like that, the last thread of his self-restraint snapped and it all came pouring out.
But if hers was a flood, his was a tidal wave.
“ I—- I went to see her.” He burst out, hands balling into fists on Varric’s poor upholstery. “ My ex. About two weeks ago. She was still trying to talk: texts, emails, all that stuff and I just… ” He let his breath hiss out through his teeth, unable to meet her eye. “ I told her it was a shitty thing to do, to play with someone’s head like that. I told her she’d had her chance and she wasn’t going to fuck with my life any more, not now that I had someone I actually—- that wanted more than just attention and ass-kissing. ”
“ She— god, she flipped, Marian. Said all these horrible, ugly things, and I just thought… why the fuck didn’t I see this before? It was like she’d torn the blindfold off and I saw this— this bitter, hateful witch. This lying, manipulative… and looked at her and I thought—- this is pathetic. This is fucking nuts. What did I ever see in this? She was crying and yelling and I didn’t feel anything— I just felt sorry for her. ”
His hands were white-knuckled on the chair, desperate to reach out, to remove the barrier between them, but he didn’t dare. God, even with her clothes in shambles and her hair a mess, she still looked so beautiful, so wonderfully, refreshingly ordinary. She didn’t care if her hair was out of place, or if she dropped ketchup on her shirt when they ordered food from that crap takeaway on the corner. She was—- Marian. Honest, funny Marian, who never played games or told stupid lies to mess with his head. Marian, who was sexy as hell dancing around in his shirt and bare feet as she was dressed up to the nines.
Marian Durinson, who wanted to stay that way despite all the shit he’d put her through.
“ I’m so sorry. ” He croaked, and this time he could feel the tears prickling behind his eyes, hot and heavy. “ I’m sorry Marian, I’m really sorry. I never should’ve—- I’m such an asshole, and an idiot, and—– putting you through all this was the worst thing I’ve ever done and I’m sorry. But God, Marian… seeing her again, seeing her compared to you—- I don’t want her. I want— I want our flat and cuddling up on the couch watching movies and your loony friends driving me crazy. I want you. I missed you so damn badly and I was so sure I’d blown it.”
He moved as though wading through treacle, stepping away from that damn chair and around it, inching closer as though afraid he might spook her. He’d forgotten how much smaller than him she was, how much anger she could pack into that tiny frame, and for good reason. Now though, that anger was tinged with desperation, with hope. Hope that he’d make a decision he should have made long ago.
“ Please… tell me what I need to do to make it up to you. What can I do for you to take me back? ”
When Kieran blurted that he’d gone to see his ex, Marian braced herself for the worst. Maybe the woman had seduced him, or raised a son she never told him about, or had just won a billion dollars or…or something. There had to be. There was always something in between Marian and a normal life.
She let him vent without interruption. His story loving wife had listened to him when he was upset before; about work, the news, something Felix had said… But this? This was different and on a whole, whole different scale. He was an open wound and it pained Marian to see him hurting even as her own cuts throbbed.
The more Kieran confessed, the more it began to really dawn on Marian that he wasn’t here because Varric had tricked him or it was over. He wanted her. Her in their apartment with the creaky floors and the Christmas lights left up all year. Her improvising lyrics in his shirt and the prank calls after midnight.
He let go of the chair and her breath caught in her throat. Watching him circle around it felt like meeting for the first time, when she’d climbed the last few steps at the end of the aisle toward the stranger in the blue tuxedo. Except he wasn’t a stranger anymore, he was Kieran. Kieran with his infectious laugh and his weapons laying around that made their quaint flat feel like living in a medieval castle. She looked up into his eyes, at some times so dark and intense and others as soft and sweet as chocolate.
“ Please… tell me what I need to do to make it up to you. What can I do for you to take me back? ”
* * *
Outside the office, Varric Tethras leaned closer to the tiny speaker on his secretary’s phone while Orana looked on, clutching a tissue to her chest. She lifted her pencil-thin eyebrows to urge Varric to intervene as silence stretched on, but he shook his head ‘no’. Hawke would answer. She had an answer for everything.
C’mon Chuckles, he willed silently, staring at the green light.
* * *
On the other side of the intercom system, Marian finally reached out. Carefully she cupped Kieran’s cheeks, a small smile appearing when she discovered coarseness there. “Funny…” she smoothed both thumbs across his skin, up toward his perfect dark circles. “In my imagination it was always raining.” It was a universally known fact that Hawke hated rain, storms especially. Carver’s plane had gone down in the thunder and lightning. Her little brother had died, but it had just kept on raining. The world hadn’t stopped like it was supposed to. Life had just hurtled on. Marian was forced out of service and into a therapy program until it was Varric who convinced her to start flying again.
She felt Kieran’s curls, soft, at her fingertips and her smile grew.
It was time to get back in the air.
“You can make breakfast.”
“ What? No! No, of course I wasn’t—– ” He stopped, visibly cringing as his brain caught up with his goddamn mouth. “ —-No, that’s bullshit. You’re right. I didn’t know you’d be here. I just… Varric came by yesterday wanting to talk about everything that’s been going on and I—– shit. ”
He took another step, then another, until he hit the back of the chair Varric had vacated, a plush, appallingly chintzy thing with a tall back he’d bet money the therapist hadn’t picked out himself. He stayed like that for a while, hands gripping the back of the chair as he fought to keep the bile from rising in his throat. Shit, why couldn’t he have done this sober? His hangover was back in full force, head pounding, mouth dry… or perhaps it was that resignation in her voice, the bitter truth that she’d thought he was gone. Gone for good, and she’d hoped he wouldn’t be.
God, that was a punch in the gut.
“ I’m sorry. ” He blurted out, his mouth moving without orders from his brain, “ I’m sorry Varric dragged you into this and—- and I’m sorry about not calling. Or texting. Or—- anything. I just—- figured after what I did you’d need some space, just for a while. But— but then ‘a while’ became a few weeks, and then it was months and… I don’t know. I’m just stupid, I guess. And a coward. I just—- I didn’t know what to say. ”
He still didn’t, and god, if that didn’t make him want to scream in frustration. If Varric had just told him what he was planning he could have thought of something to say, maybe acted on all those plans he’d been mulling over – but then, if he hadn’t acted on them before, what the hell made today any different? She hadn’t been there when he was daydreaming and planning and never doing a damn thing about them, and now that she was his brain was a complete mess. All he knew was that she was here, and that she looked horrible. And beautiful. And so, so sad.
“ Do you want me to go? ” He sounded so small, to his own ears, a kid who’d fucked up and damn well knew it. “ I—- If you want me to, I’ll go. This is your space and it’s private a-and… I’ll tell Varric to come back in and we’ll do this right. All the legal stuff and shit. If you want me to. ”
“ Or… if you don’t, we could… talk for a while? ”
He was closer now, fingers making indents in the back of the chair Varric usually sat in. She watched his face as he confessed. Everything pressing in and down, like a shelf with too many books on it. There was a store like that on North 5th. Marian had hid in there from a downpour once, deciding that being buried in a book-slide was preferable to getting her hair wet.
Maybe she’d take Kieran there. If they made it through this.
His apologies had her heart beating faster and she had to remind herself that ‘sorry’ and ‘take me back’ weren’t the same thing. As if to drive this point home, he offered to go if that’s what she wanted. By the look on Kieran’s face, it didn’t look like it was what he wanted. Or maybe that was just his hangover and she was kidding herself.
She knew very little about his ex, except what he’d told her the first time they’d went to dinner. It wasn’t much, as entire people go, but it was enough for Marian to sculpt an indomitable femme fatale in her head. She wasn’t the type to be intimated by people – whether it be her old staff sergeant barking at her to shut her mouth or a maniac at the end of a blood trail.
This woman though. What was screwed-up Marian Hawke supposed to do against long hair and a entire history with Kieran? Christ, a week into their marriage she’d almost murdered him by accident with a shrimp sandwich because she didn’t know her new husband was deathly allergic to seafood.
His ex wasn’t in the room though. Marian was. And no, she didn’t want him to bloody leave ever again. “Are you joking?” she was on her feet suddenly. Her shirt was wrinkled and her hair wasn’t long and pretty it was dark and messy.
“This isn’t about waiting with my phone volume jacked up and the bedroom window open so I could hear out for a couple weeks–even on the rainy nights,” she added hastily. “Or the months after when I closed it and started putting everything in boxes and still had to sign a van rental form as Marian Durinson so I could tell myself I was finished waiting.”
Her feet brought her to the edge of the chair between them. “I waited my whole fucked up life for you to come along. I want to see you leave again about as much as I want to file that awful paperwork. But just because I choose you doesn’t mean I get to choose for you. If you’re stupid enough to ask though, then yeah,”
“I want you to stay right where you are, right as you are, you ass.”
“I mean, getting married? To someone you’ve never even met? Even for you, that’s dumb.”
This wasn’t real. This wasn’t happening. He’d kept on drinking after Varric left and this was some kind of fucked-up dream after he’d moved on to the rum. The rum always screwed with his head. There was no way Varric had pulled this kind of bait and switch on him.
Except that this was exactly the sort of thing that Varric would do.
He didn’t have the space inside him to be angry. Shocked, maybe, definitely dumbfounded, but with his entire being focused on the woman sitting across from him, anger wasn’t a word in his vocabulary at that moment. The first time in two, three months? He’d wondered about it before, whether he’d just meet her on the street one day, or at the pub she liked once he’d worked up the courage to go back there on the off chance that maybe, just maybe… He’d imagined it’d be sunny, and the beer garden would be open and the crappy old sunshades up over the tables. She’d be sitting with a bottle of beer – the good kind they only let you have if you had a tab – and she’d be so surprised to see him when he put the next bottle in front of her. And the flowers. Sometimes it was roses, or those huge daisies from Merrill’s shop in every colour they had, but it was always beer and flowers. Marian wasn’t the sort of girl to settle for less than that. He’d—- he’d tell her he was sorry. He’d ask her—–
None of that was happening now, though. There was no pub garden and no flowers, he was hungover and she was staring at him as though he’d broken her heart all over again. And none of it mentioned the A-word. Not ever.
“ Annullment? ” Shit. It felt as though the floor had vanished beneath him, his stomach sinking to his shoes. “ Did you? I— I didn’t… ”
“ And that’s my cue to leave. ” Dusting off his corduroys, Varric rose, his smirk far too wide for this depressing circus show. “ You kids keep it PG, alright? ” And before either of them could stop him – as if they even had the wherewithal to do so, he made his escape, the door snapping shut behind him.
What followed had to be one of the most excruciating silences of Kili’s life to date.
“ He… ” Kieran swallowed, his throat suddenly much too dry. It could have been the hangover, but the redness around her eyes was a much safer bet. She looked like she’d been drinking, or—- no, for his own self-preservation, he was going to say drinking, and he would not ask himself why.
“ …I had an appointment. I didn’t—- ‘Come at three’, he said. I’d drank quite a bit, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. I didn’t expect you’d… you look—– ”
Terrible. Exhausted. Downright fucking tragic.
“ You look really great, Marian. ”
Kieran’s stunned expression and fumbling words weren’t aligning with Marian’s assumption that he’d moved on and was here to collect his freedom.
Varric slipped out the door like smoke, leaving them to stare in silence. Kieran broke it first–sort of. His confusion was more than apparent, and Marian’s guess was right: he had been drinking. With her therapist. The keeper of all her secrets and psychological blooper reel. She touched her fingertips to her brow, trying not to let that thought sink in too deep. One thing at a time.
His ‘really great’ compliment got little more than a scoff. She looked as awful as he did. Not like after Oktoberfest awful (her husband had been so sick Marian taken a vacation day to stay home with him) but pretty close.
“So you were tricked into coming.” Marian blanched when it sounded even worse out loud. “Shit, isn’t that just–” she found herself at a loss for words. The old Hawke would have laughed her face off if this were happening to anyone but her. Hell, she would have probably been involved. Like that unforgettable fiasco with Donnic. “Just perfect,” she conceded. “Well, welcome to where I go when my life reaches new lows. The door doesn’t lock from the outside. Trust me I’ve checked a few times.”
“And yeah, when I didn’t hear from you after months I got the annulment papers ready,” she shrugged. “At some point hope turns into denial.”
“Look, I’m sorry Varric dragged you into this. At the risk of repeating myself: you can leave if you want to. I’m not going to stop you.”