Cullen was undoubtedly lost and pissed beyond belief.
All of his friends had managed to drag him to the local pumpkin patch for the haunted corn maze and it was Halloween night. The jump scares were horrible and he somehow managed to lose sight of Alistair, Alistair’s girlfriend, Eryn, and the rest of their group. Cullen honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if they decided to ditch him on purpose to see how long it took for him to get out.
Eryn Cousland and Marian Hawke were notorious pranksters and their whole group always egged them on.
So, in short, Cullen was friends with a bunch of assholes.
He turned around yet another corner and he let out a grunt of surprise when someone ran into him…literally. He managed to keep his balance and he stared down at that someone. Big, heavily lashed eyes looked up at him and they were glazed over with tears. The girl straightened the big, floppy hat she was wearing and she looked around in almost a panic.
Cullen looked and saw that one of the employees dressed up as a strange mixture of Freddy Krueger and a zombie was right behind her. Cullen glared at the kid until he slunk away to annoy someone else.
He looked down at the girl and saw that she was trembling and looking around warily, adjusting the strap of the overalls she was wearing. “Are you alright?” he asked, trying to forget how annoyed he was.
“Y-Yeah, I just need to find my friends. I think they ditched me, those jerks,” she grumbled. She let out a loud gasp when another employee leapt out of the corn with a shriek. Cullen stiffened when she stepped closer to him, almost hiding behind his frame.
Cullen scowled at that employee too.
“Do you want to walk together? I know my friends ditched me,” he suggested, wincing as a strobe light went off nearby.
The girl sighed in what he hoped was relief. “Thank you. I’m normally not this jumpy, I just have never been in this kind of corn maze before,” she said sheepishly, tucking some hair behind her ear.
Cullen hummed in response and tried to remember which direction he was trying to get to. He could see the tall light posts near the entrance and he started to walk in that general direction. “I didn’t catch your name,” he said, stepping to the side as a large group of teenagers ran by.
The girl was stepping close to him again to avoid being trampled. “Tessa. You?”
Tessa looked up at him and Cullen wished there weren’t so many damn strobe lights. He couldn’t get a good glimpse of what she looked like. She shrieked when the Freddy Krueger asshole from before stuck his face out right beside her from the corn stalks.
Cullen glared at the guy again and quickly tugged on Tessa’s hand and to get away from the prick.
“I swear to God he’s following me. What the hell?” she hissed, staying close to Cullen’s back.
Cullen frowned, knowing how girls are sometimes targeted in places like this. “Just stay close to me, and don’t let go of my hand. I think we’re close.”
Cullen had to give it to her, for looking as scared as she was, she sounded brave.
Then again, he didn’t know how he would respond if some asshole targeted him like that.
They were, in fact, not close at all and it took them maybe another 15 minutes to finally reach the end. Freddy Krueger showed up 3 more times in that time span and Cullen felt bad for the girl he was dragging behind him.
They finally walked out into the open and Cullen turned to say goodbye and his mind froze.
He couldn’t see much in the maze and the strobe lights couldn’t truly reveal anything to him before. Her big eyes were a unique violet color even under the weak light of the posts nearby. Her strawberry blonde hair fell in soft, gentle waves to the middle of her back and her full lips were pulled up in a grateful smile.
She was actually really pretty and she looked adorable in the Scarecrow costume she was wearing. She straightened her floppy hat again and she took a deep breath. “Thank you, Cullen. I would have been stuck in there forever without you.”
He nodded, trying to kick his brain back into gear so he could actually say something.
She pouted cutely and looked around, letting out a sigh of exasperation. “Of course they aren’t out here,” she grumbled.
Cullen thought about Freddy Krueger again and he frowned when he saw the asshole hiding near the entrance. He grabbed Tessa’s hand again and said, “Don’t look now, but your admirer is nearby.”
He pulled her further away from the entrance toward some hay bales being used as benches nearby. He glanced around, not seeing his friends either and he gestured to the hay. “I don’t see my group either.”
Tessa’s cheeks turned an adorable shade of pink and she primly took a seat. “Thank you, again.”
Cullen sat down beside her. “It’s no trouble.”
They sat in an awkward silence for many moments and Cullen desperately tried to think of something, anything, he could say.
“So, what are you supposed to be?” she joked, tilting her head with a grin.
Cullen pulled himself together, trying not to focus on how pretty her smile was, and he gestured to his outfit. “Boring, off duty military policeman,” he replied, using Varric’s description of his outfit from earlier. Cullen didn’t dress up for Halloween. He hated Halloween. So he was the only normally dressed one in his group.
“Military police, huh?” Tessa asked, propping her chin on her hand. “No wonder you scared off my admirer so easily.”
Cullen snorted, rubbing the back of his neck. “I didn’t do a good job. He kept coming back.”
Tessa snickered and sat up straight, leaning her hands back on the hay bale behind her. “I’m so killing Dorian for dragging me here. We were supposed to be at a small get together,” she mused.
“I’m killing Varric for talking us into coming here,” Cullen grumbled, resting his arms on his thighs as he sighed.
Tessa opened her mouth to answer, but a loud, obnoxious voice stopped her.
“You made it out! And you picked a piece of corn!” the voice slurred.
Cullen looked to see a slim, blonde woman stumbling toward them and she basically collapsed into Tessa’s lap. “Dorian and Bull were getting worried,” she continued, wrapping her arm around Tessa’s neck.
Cullen felt his cheeks heat up. He couldn’t tell if the drunk woman was just being affectionate or if he was an idiot and assumed a girl of Tessa’s caliber was single.
“You guys shouldn’t have left me alone if you were going to get worried,” Tessa teased, helping the other woman sit on the hay bale beside her.
“You should have seen the woman working the cash register at the front. She has nice pumpkins if ya know what I mean,” the woman continued to slur, letting out obnoxious giggles as she gestured to her chest.
Tessa gave Cullen an amused grin before looking back at her friend. “Is that so? Did you get her number?”
“Nah, she had a boyfriend. Told her she was cute though.”
Oh, so they were just friends? Cullen didn’t know why he wanted to know. He didn’t know Tessa at all and he knew it would be inappropriate of him to just flat out ask for her number or something.
Both he and Tessa looked toward the owner of the new voice and Cullen frowned. Wait, he knew that voice. Sure enough, his co-worker and overseeing officer, Cassandra Pentaghast, was stomping toward them.
She halted in her tracks when she realized who her friend was sitting by. “Cullen?”
“Hello Cassandra,” Cullen greeted, standing up.
“What are you doing here?”
Cullen frowned. “My friends dragged me here. I have no idea where they are now.”
Cassandra huffed, crossing her arms. “Let me guess, this was Varric’s or Cousland’s idea?”
Cassandra then looked down at Tessa and the young woman. Tessa was pulling a little water bottle from a large pocket on her overalls.
“Bull and Dorian will be glad to know you found her.”
Tessa rolled her eyes up at the other woman. “She found me. And then she told me about how she hit on the cashier.”
Cassandra let out another disgusted sigh. “We need to get her home.” She then forced the other woman to throw her arm over her shoulder and started to walk toward the direction of the parking lot.
Tessa stood to follow and she stopped in her tracks before turning around and pulling a sharpie from her pocket. “Can I have your hand?”
Cullen stared at her stupidly, wondering if what was happening was actually happening. Tessa then proceeded to write her number on his palm. “I had this because I thought we would be carving pumpkins. Looks like it turned out useful after all,” she joked with a wink.
Tessa’s eyes widened. “Oh God, you probably didn’t want me to do that. I am so sorry, I just assumed—“
“Do you prefer texting or calling?” Cullen finally managed to force out.
Her jaw dropped, causing her mouth to form a cute ‘o’ before she pulled herself together and beamed up at him. “Surprise me.”
And then she was gone, following Cassandra toward the parking lot.
Cullen then saw something move out of the corner of his eye and noticed two faces looking from between the corn stalks nearby.
It was Freddy Krueger and Jason.
Then he knew that the person that scared Tessa earlier wasn’t an employee. And he also remembered that Marian was carrying a backpack with her into the maze. A backpack that could hold various masks and costumes instead of snacks like she claimed.
“Hawke! You’re an ass!”
Giggles were his only reply.