by Liz

WELP, this was interesting. As dramatically read in “Foxes” episode 31 by pair-establisher Caitlin, here is my (slightly corrected) entry for our first-ever fanfic challenge.  Alas, not the “ball-slapping” material Caitlin might have enjoyed to read, but it is what it is. (I will take this moment to remind you that both characters here are adults, not adolescents. Chronologically, at least. They’d not be the most mature at any age.)

And for those of you who indulge, here’s the link to the fic now posted on Archive of Our Own, because this is where my life has led me.

“Well!” Alistair finally puffed out after a few ragged breaths. “That was… Er…” He looked down at his tattered clothes, taking note of several places where pieces of his armor were either undone or missing altogether. “…Bracing.”

“‘Bracing’?!” his companion cried. She staggered to the edge of the small courtyard to catch her breath against a toppled column. “That was scary! It felt like that spirit was using my own heart against me. When they weren’t blasting all that cold at us, anyway.” She leaned back to take a few steadying breaths, and with her legs stretched out in front of her Alistair was suddenly aware of how much of them he could see now.

“Well, yes, desire demons are, um, challenging opponents.” Now he couldn’t help but notice how much more of her was visible. Before, she wore a looser dress with a longer skirt and sleeves. Now, her clothing only covered her torso. Covered it rather snugly, in fact. His dumbstruck admiration was cut short when he realized that the woman’s face was now pinched into an annoyed, if red-cheeked, expression. Too much admiration, he realized. Or at least inappropriate admiration. He was still admiring, wasn’t he? Better say something.

“Usagi…” he began, but stopped. His voice was throaty as he said her name, and she jumped at the sound. Brilliant; now they were both embarrassed. He cleared his throat and tried again, this time more casually. He hoped.  “Your armor—er, well, not armor, is it. Your battle… suit? Blue and red on white! I’m afraid I don’t recognize your mage order.”

Usagi glanced down at herself, taking a moment to straighten the large red bow on her breastplate—breastpiece—breast—on the front of her suit. “I’m a Sailor Scout,” she said with her chin high, “a soldier of love—not a mage! Um. Whatever that is.”

“Not a mage?” The desire demon had been holding Alistair paralyzed, feeding off his spirit, until Usagi stepped forward in a flash of light. With a few words and sweeping gestures, her silhouetted form transformed instantly. Alistair had actually thought the demon was playing tricks on him, drawing upon his lust to create an illusion, until Usagi declared a lengthy battle challenge and turned the fight back in their favor. And he thought he would protect her on this trip. “You could have fooled me. That last spell you used, with your, er, tiara?” He took a few steps forward and pointed to her forehead.

Usagi’s eyes followed his finger until her eyes briefly crossed upward. “Moon Healing Activation?” She said it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She straightened up into a very matter-of-fact pose. “Well, I’ve seen this sort of thing before, you know. Once I realized that it wasn’t really a demon, it was obviously the right thing to do. I mean, what else is there to do in this case?”

He shrugged. “Send the dog in to flank, have the mage throw a bit of lightning, then a good stab through the ribs usually does it.” Her expression was outright horrified, and Alistair found himself confused and embarrassed. “What? I promise, that dog can hold his own in a fight!”

Usagi was stunned frozen, and her hands balled into fists. “You just kill them?” She was starting to shake. “A spirit of love?”

Alistair felt his cheeks getting warm. “Well— but—” He straightened up defensively. “It wasn’t exactly loving just now, was it?” Maker, why was he getting embarrassed? He was a Grey Warden! Stabbing demons was rather part of the job!

Her face was pinched with anger again. “That spirit was brought into this world against its will—which, believe me, is a terrible, confusing feeling. They didn’t want to turn into a demon. They were in pain!”

“Pain?” His voice was raising to match her volume now. “I was in pain too, you know! Or did you miss the part where my breastplate froze, then shattered? And having a creature reach into your heart to torment you with your own, er… well, desires rather hurts, don’t you think?”

Usagi was momentarily distracted from her anger with the reminder of Alistair’s most obvious injury. Not only was his armor gone, but his frozen undershirt had been crumbling off in brittle flakes, exposing his bare, scarred, well-toned chest (if he did say so himself) exposed to the night air. And Usagi’s gaze. Now who’s admiring? But a moment later she shook her head, stamped her foot, and thrust her chin defiantly up into his face. “You’re horrible!”

“Wha—” This was not what one liked to hear after being ogled. “I’m— A demon tries to feed on our very souls, and I’m horrible? Oh, I’m sorry, Lady ‘Sailor Scout’! We don’t all have little gold circlets to fling at demons, you know!” With that, he gave her tiara a haughty flick. That would show her who the better person was here.

In retrospect, this was not the wisest thing he’d ever done to a mage (or mage-like being, anyway). Usagi swiped his hand away with one gloved arm, then punched him square in the chest with the other. “Oof!” he said eloquently, then rubbed the area sorely.

“Serves you right!” Usagi snapped.

Alistair gave her a glower usually reserved for Darkspawn. “That,” he said with all the challenging manliness befitting a Warden, “hurt.”

The next few moments were confusing, but he suddenly found himself on the ground of some forgotten elven ruin, tangled up in the arms and impossibly long pigtails of a Sailor Scout. Their kiss was rough and… stirring, but Alistair was not about to admit how much he enjoyed her biting his lip—not before she would admit to enjoying the firm grip he kept on her thighs. The two of them rolled back and forth with oddly combative grunts, but in the end, Usagi pinned Alistair’s shoulders to the ground and sat back in triumph.

Alistair paused there on the ground, considering all the thoughts coming to mind without the help of any desire demon. “So…” he said quietly, “what sort of spells does a ‘soldier of love’ have?”