Chapter 1: How Was The Goddess Ceremony?
Anders didn’t really know what he was doing here or why he’d even come in the first place. But there was his baby brother’s girlfriend, and she was becoming a goddess, and this was apparently a family thing because everyone and their mother was here – well not literally in their case of course because their mother had turned into class A barbecue components – and his brothers had urged him to come as well. At least there were no lightning bolts involved, and no take-off-your-clothes-thing. Although...
He mentally slapped himself. That thought was a no-go. This was his little brother’s girlfriend. Fiancée. Whatever. She was definitely classified non-fuckable, not that he actually felt any urge to fuck that doe-eyed girl. She was pretty, yes, but that was about it.
Anders resisted the urge to stare at his watch while Ingrid dropped petals into the water. He rolled his eyes and shifted his stance from one foot to the other. He could imagine a million things he’d rather do right now, and most of them involved someone tall, dark, and handsome wearing relatively little clothing.
Not long after the petals-thing was over he could see a nimbus of strange, whirling colours approach the poor girl in her fuck-ugly dress, now soaked in murky pond water. The whole process of the goddess taking possession of her vessel seemed a whole different league than the one of the gods. Fuckers.
Now to the interesting part. Would she be Frigg or Papatuanuku?
But Gaia stepped out of the water and looked at neither Axl nor at Jerome. All eyes were on her as she stepped past her two prospective husbands.
Anders was as shocked as everyone else when Gaia came to halt before him. She smiled, lowered her head, and went down onto her knees. Anders’s tie was suddenly very much too tight and he looked around, feeling close to panic.
“My Lord Bragi, it is I, Idun. I have returned to you.”
This was followed by a stunned silence.
“Idun?” Jerome stared at Axl.
“What the fuck?” Axl stared at Jerome.
“Idun?” Ingrid hurried to Gaia’s side. “But... why Idun?”
“But I met Idun!” Ty said and lifted his hands in a gesture of utter, slightly scared confusion. “I had... we had a little fling and...”
“Well...” Ingrid swallowed, “I have some bad news for you.”
Everyone stared at Gaia who was still kneeling at Anders’ feet and at Anders who stared at Gaia in horror.
“Bad news?” Ty asked hesitantly.
“There...” Ingrid finally looked at him. “Idun holds the power of the immortality of the gods,” Ingrid explained. “And when Idun’s vessel dies, she is immediately incarnated again. Other goddesses have been known to vacate their vessels so Idun could have them. There always has to be an Idun...” She trailed off as the implications of her words sunk in.
“So Helen...” Ty swallowed, “So Helen is...”
“I’m afraid so,” Ingrid replied, “Oh dear...”
“But... Anders?” Mike crossed his arms.
“Idun is Bragi’s spouse,” Ingrid said, sounding as if she didn’t really want to say those words.
Now everyone looked at Anders and Gaia again.
Anders felt his head swim. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t supposed to happen. His little brother’s girlfriend had become the vessel of Bragi’s spouse, mate, wife, girlfriend... whatever you want to call it. Her god husband was neither Axl nor Jerome. It was the fucker in his own mind. And at the back of his head, he could feel Bragi stir. He could feel the god reach out for her, and he could see in Gaia’s eyes that she was waiting for and welcoming the touch. “Oh fuck...” Anders whispered hoarsely. “Oh fucking fuck...”
Bragi screamed for his mate. Gaia’s eyes were full of hunger.
Anders turned on his heel and ran. He ran towards his car, he tore the door open and struggled with the ignition while emitting a few very choice and vile curses. He slammed the door shut and started the car. He didn’t care that he broke several traffic laws and it was sheer bloody luck he wasn’t pulled over for speeding. His heart was hammering in his chest. He could still feel Bragi scream at him, a voice at the back of his mind, to turn around and claim what was his. “Go fuck yourself,” Anders whispered shakily. “She’s Axl’s and he will tear my balls out through my throat and make me choke on them if I so much as look at her.” It didn’t shut him up, but then, Anders would have been surprised if it had.
When he had finally reached the apartment building he was so short of breath that he was huffing, and his heart was racing so fast it hurt. Bragi was yelling and screaming and raging in the back of his head, and Anders had to resist the urge to run back to his car with every fibre of his being. His hands were shaking so badly he almost couldn’t unlock the door, and he slammed it shut behind him with a groan.
“Hey!” Mitchell rounded the corner, cheerfully munching on a cookie. “How was the goddess ceremony?”
Anders stared at him, but made no sound other than his heaving breaths.
Mitchell dropped the cookie on to the kitchen counter, “Anders?”
Anders stumbled into Mitchell’s arms with a sound that was close to a sob.
“Shit...” Mitchell closed his arms around his distraught blonde, “Anders?”
“Hide me,” Anders muttered into Mitchell’s shoulder. “Lock that door. Don’t... for fuck’s sake, don’t ever open that door again.”
Mitchell blinked a few times, very slowly, and then steered Anders towards the sofa where he made him sit down.
“Not before you tell me what the fuck is going on.”
Anders shook his head and clamped his hands between his knees. “That goddess ceremony was the biggest fuck-up of all fuck-ups that ever fucked up,” he said after a moment.
“Care to elaborate?”
Anders took a deep breath and after a moment, cleared his throat. “So, neither Frigg nor Papatuanuku. Because... yeah. There is a goddess Idun. And apparently, there always has to be an Idun. Idun is... she has the magic thing of keeping the god spirits immortal, or shit like that. So, there always has to be an incarnation of Idun. The problem is...” Anders’ voice broke and he buried his face in his hands.
“Anders?” Mitchell fell down into the sofa next to him and draped an arm around Anders’ shoulders. “What...”
“Idun...” Anders lifted his head again with burning eyes. “Idun is Bragi’s girlfriend, wife, or whatever you want to call it. Mate. Spouse. And the two haven’t seen each other in a while, to judge by the way Bragi is trying to fuck with my brain.”
Mitchell stared at him with eyes so wide it was almost comical. “What?” he asked hoarsely.
“My little brother’s girlfriend has become the vessel of Bragi’s spouse,” Anders said again. “And Bragi really, really wants her. He...” Anders swallowed. “He keeps screaming at me, Mitch. He wants her. But I can’t let that happen. I don’t want her, for fuck’s sake!” He jumped up and tore off his tie. “Do you hear me you stupid fucker? I don’t want her!” Anders screamed into the empty air. “I don’t want my little brother’s girlfriend! And if you can’t handle that go find another vessel to fuck with you fucktard! Get out of my brain you fucking wankstain!”
Mitchell got up and slung both arms around Anders to pull him close. He held on tight, for as long as Anders needed to stop shaking.
“I can’t...” Anders felt as if he was about to puke. “Shit, we gotta do something. If I ever see her again then... I don’t know what will happen.”
“You stay here,” Mitchell replied as calmly as he could. “Work from home for a few days. You’re safe in here, and I’m sure Gaia is being taken care of by the others. We just have to keep you apart, and I know that it’s in the best interests of everyone involved. So you stay here and wait for the dust to settle. And maybe by then, Bragi will have calmed the fuck down.”
“I can only hope,” Anders said slowly. “Fuck, Mitch... I can’t handle this...”
Mitchell clearly had no idea what to say, so he pulled Anders close again and sat down with him on the sofa.
Anders began to calm eventually, and it seemed as if Bragi had shut up, for the moment at least. He was a bit more composed when Mitchell let go of him again.
Neither of them was comfortable with Anders staying alone in the flat, but Mitchell had to go to work. He worked night shifts this week. Mitchell left after a few warm and affectionate kisses, and Anders closed the door behind him with a sigh.
“Oh for – from the bottom of my heart – fuck’s sake.”
No one answered him.
“You better not fuck this up, Bragi.”
Bragi didn’t reply either.
Anders grabbed a pillow and hugged it to his chest as he curled up on the sofa.
He should have known it would happen. He should have known that there was no escape. The universe apparently had a bullet point of Fuck Anders Johnson Over on the agenda, and he should have known. In his defense, he hadn’t eaten since breakfast and he was tired as fuck, and he really, really thought everyone would have enough common sense to keep an eye on her. So, when the doorbell rang, he thought it was one of his brothers come to give him shit and tell him to stay away from her, as if that was necessary. He wasn’t prepared to see her.
For a moment they stared at each other, but before Anders had even time to think, ‘I am so fucked,’ he noticed the smell. It was the scent of sun and warm grass and apples. He stepped aside, holding the door open, as if in trance. He didn’t want to do it, and yet he couldn’t stop. And then the realization hit him and made his blood run cold in terror. He could not stop it. Whatever was about to happen, he could not stop it. Bragi had taken over his body. Anders wanted to scream. But what escaped him was only her name, and it was spoken in a voice that was deep and low and not really his own.
Most god spouses didn’t get along well with each other. Most of them had welcomed the separation of gods and goddesses after reaching the new world. Most of them, but not all of them. But Bragi and Idun were lovers as well as spouses. And they had been separated for centuries.
The smell of apples permeated his mind. Sweet, ripe, sun-warmed apples. He had missed it, and he craved it, and he breathed it in like air. “Idun,” he breathed.
“My love,” she whispered back, her voice like the summer breeze stirring the leaves in an orchard, her touch on his cheek like the soft caress of a falling petal.
Their first kiss tasted of all the painful longing of their separation. The second one woke the hunger, kindled the fires of their pining. The third one tasted of apples. Sweet, ripe, warm apples. Bragi had found his Idun again; he had missed her, had craved her, and anything else they might have been bound to was no longer important. Mortal concerns did not matter to them. For centuries he had been plagued by a hunger that nothing could appease, burning with thirst that nothing could slake. No matter how many women he bedded, none of them could compare, none of them could satisfy him, none of them could match her, his lady, his Idun, his soul mate, his love. Her body was soft in his arms, her kisses burning hot on his lips, and she whispered his name like a prayer. She had been plagued by the same hunger, burning with the same thirst, and the only thing that could save them was each other.
Clothes were torn off and fell discarded to the floor. Their skin burning, they fell into the bed. Embrace was not enough, even as they tried to touch each other everywhere at once. He worshipped her and he worshipped her body, each word falling from his lips a song in her praise. And she said his name over and over again as if it was the only thing that was keeping her alive. When their bodies joined, their souls touched again, finally, after too long a time of loneliness and longing. Faint memories and misgivings that the other’s body should feel different, smell different, and look different were meaningless, worthless memories that belonged into a past both of them wanted to forget.
But still, they were bound to their vessels of mortality and flesh, and they had to part before their hunger was satisfied and their thirst was slaked. They parted with promises sweet and passionate. They had finally, finally found each other again and no one and nothing would part them, ever again.
The smell of apples lingered.
No amount of shower gel and scalding hot water could wash it away.
Anders was a dead man walking.
He padded naked through the flat, a bottle of bleach in one hand and a rag in the other, unwilling to transfer apple scent from himself to anything else. Once he was sure he had scrubbed every surface they had touched, he stripped the bed and threw the linens away. Anders bundled everything into a large plastic garbage bag and set it by the front door. His plan was to take it out after one last bath to clean the remnants off himself so he could put on clean clothes and make the bed. Maybe, if he was very lucky, all Mitchell would smell was bleach and he could convince him that he puked from stress.
Mitchell was running a few minutes late, having stopped by their favorite bakery for cinnamon rolls and chai lattes to soothe Anders nerves. He just hoped his favorite god had managed to get some sleep. A blocked door that he had to shove open was not a good sign.
“Anders?” Mitchell called into the silence. There was no answer. He was overwhelmed by the smell of bleach and that horrible apple shampoo Anders tortured him with. He blinked. Eyes flashed black. Senses heightened. Heartbeat. He stopped panicking. Still, the heartbeat was not as strong as it should be. And there was shivering. Anders’ breathing was too slow too. He whipped out his phone and called emergency services as he followed the heartbeat.
Blessedly, Anders had not locked the bathroom door, and Mitchell found him hypothermic in the tub. He had a flannel in one hand and his head on the side, as if having fallen asleep mid-scrub. Mitchell wondered briefly what happened, but was more concerned with getting him out and warm. He pulled the plug, grabbed a towel, and lifted the unconscious blonde clear of the water. His vampiric body temperature wouldn't help, so he carried him to the couch where it would be easier for paramedics to work and wrapped him in the blanket kept there for snuggling.
Moments, later, a sharp knock roused Mitchell from his litany of reassurance and love pouring into Anders’ still unresponsive ears. “Come in!” he called, unwilling to loosen his grip on his love.
A tall, dark haired paramedic with the fluffiest goatee Mitchell had ever seen knelt beside him. “Mr. Mitchell? We’re here to help. But you have to let us. Please let us take care of him now.” Only then did Mitchell realize he was holding Anders to his chest, rocking and crying.
The young paramedic, who gave his name as Danny, gently moved Anders to the floor and began assessing him while his partner, Russell, gathered details from Mitchell. Within minutes, Anders was rousing.
“Mr. Mitchell?” Danny said, “Mr. Johnson will need to go to the hospital. Would you like to ride with us?”
“Yes, please,” Mitchell answered, relieved.
Chapter 2: We’ve been Bragi-ed
Don't tell Axl!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Anders huddled in the warm blankets while the doctor explained his condition. Mitchell's hand underneath was locked in a vice-grip like a safety line. Something about the blonde doctor in charge of his case looked familiar and puzzled his still foggy brain.
“As the body temperature drops, shivering will stop completely. The heart rate will slow and a person will gradually lose consciousness. They won't appear to have a pulse or be breathing.”
Mitchell was paying attention to Dr. Gilligan as if Anders’ life depended on it. If he weren't a vampire, he wouldn't have detected the pulse.
The doctor continued, “If someone is admitted to hospital with severe hypothermia, advanced medical treatment can be used to warm them up,” he stopped and checked something on Anders’ chart, “This can be done by temporarily withdrawing blood from the body, warming it, and then returning it to the body. These techniques are cardiopulmonary bypass, heart-lung bypass, and extra corporeal membranous oxygenation or ECMO.”
Mitchell had completely glazed over. Withdrawing blood? Heart-lung bypass? Could vampires faint?
Dr. Gilligan noticed his audience was overwhelmed and hurried to continue, “but thanks to your timely arrival, Mr. Johnson is safe and we just need to keep raising his temperature with blankets and warmed saline. I have no doubt that he will make a full recovery,” He smiled reassuringly.
“We just need to keep him here a few days here to monitor him.”
Anders flinched. He hated hospitals. Mitchell rubbed his thumb across Anders’ knuckles soothingly and looked over.
The doctor cleared his throat, interrupting what had become moony eyes between the two, “Is there anyone we should notify? I can have the nurse…”
“No!” Anders cried out, “Please, please don't tell anyone that I’m here.”
“Of course, sir, all patient information is private. We just usually ask.”
Mitchell kissed Anders’ suddenly sweaty temple and explained, “We have a difficult relationship with his family…”
“Say no more. I understand. Do you need a counselor?” The doctor asked.
Anders gave Mitchell a look that might have intimidated a lesser mortal. Mitchell ignored it, “We’ll discuss it, if that's all right.”
Dr. Gilligan nodded and scribbled some notes into the chart. “Right. I’ll be off. Ring the nurse if you need anything.” He winked, dropped the chart in its slot, and headed out with a small wave.
“Ta,” Anders and Mitchell called in unison.
That doctor kind of freaked me out,” Mitchell muttered, staring at the closed door.
“He’s a doctor,” Anders said and huffed, “They’re all freaky.”
Mitchell shook his head and blinked a few times, as if to dislodge something from his ear. Then he smiled at Anders.
“I’m so glad nothing worse has happened.”
“Me too. Can I go home now?”
“No.” Mitchell frowned and adjusted the blanket. “The doctor said...”
“I know what the bloody doctor said, but I’m fine, I’m not staying here.”
“And what do you think will happen if you just walk out?”
Anders glared at him. “I’ll use Bragi. The motherfucker might as well make himself useful again.”
Mitchell shook his head and lifted his hands, as if imploring the heavens to knock sense into Anders’ head and/or give himself more patience.
“Although…” Anders adjusted his position to look at Mitchell.
“There are certain things that keep me in bed for prolonged periods of time.”
“Anders, for fuck’s sake.” Mitchell rolled his eyes. “This is a feckin’ hospital!”
“Oh come on,” Anders gave him his best puppy look. “Just a cuddle?”
Mitchell looked at him for a moment before he decided that a cuddle couldn’t hurt.
Before they could get comfortable - Anders kept arguing that there was plenty of room in the bed but Mitchell claimed he would only make him cold - a familiar face appeared in the doorway. They had just settled on Mitchell outside the covers but in the bed when, true to form - and the universe’s Screw-with-Anders action item - it turned out Michele was on duty. During her rounds, she mistakenly entered Anders room. It wasn't clear which of the three was more shocked.
Mitchell was the first to react and hastily scrambled out of the bed and sorted his hair with his fingers with an embarrassed attempt at a smile. Michele, who had heard that Anders had a boyfriend but had had a hard time believing it, now stared back and forth between Anders and Mitchell a few times. Then her typical borderline obnoxious smirk appeared on her face.
Anders sat up and smiled brightly at her, “Fancy running into you here.”
“Yes, fancy running into a doctor in a hospital,” Michele replied and sauntered towards the bed.
“You, in any case,” Anders said and looked up at her, “I thought you avoid contact with sick people?”
“As best I can,” Michelle replied with a faked fatalistic sigh.
Mitchell looked more confused than ever and lifted his hand like a schoolchild asking for the permission to talk, but was ignored.
“So what are you doing here, then?” Anders crossed his arms.
“I was supposed to meet with the head physician to discuss a particular patient, because occasionally I have to pretend I actually treat people. I just took a wrong turn, it seems.”
Anders emitted an affirmative hum, “Yes, considering all the ways you swing, a lack of sense of direction can be explained.”
Michele crossed her arms with narrowed eyes. “You know that technically I can confine you to bed and have you catheterized?”
“You know that I can very effectively dissuade anyone from doing anything of the sort?” Anders shot back.
Michele lowered her voice. “I’d be very careful, if I was you. You know who’s in charge of medication here, don’t you?”
Anders glowered at her. “Drugging me into submission? Must be really proud of yourself.”
Unnoticed by the two, Mitchell had taken a small step closer to the bed.
“Oh, I am very proud of myself,” Michele didn’t stop smirking, “As opposed to you, I worked to be where I am instead of manipulating other people to do what I want.”
“Not really, I like knowing what an achievement is.”
“Oh please,” Anders shook his head, “If someone offered you the opportunity to get anything you want with the snap of a finger you’d jump on it.”
“At least I have a choice about it.” Michele crossed her arms.
Mitchell took another step forward. Now Michele looked at him, her smirk growing wider, “Okay, I didn’t think you’d go slumming, and with a guy even? What’s the matter? Doesn’t Bragi work anymore on girls?”
Mitchell crossed his arms and glared at her.
Still smirking, Michele looked back at Anders, “Or did the women of Auckland finally realize what a pathetic little fucker you are? And what a pathetic little fucker you have? You know, maybe I would be doing you a favor with catheterizing you? Make it easier to find.”
“You should stop talking like that,” Mitchell said.
Michelle looked him up and down.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Mitchell asked, “Shouldn’t the goddesses be watching Gaia?” Mitchell crossed his arms.
Michele spun around and stared daggers at Anders, “What did you tell him about us, you lobotomized walking cock?”
“You really should stop talking like that to him,” Mitchell said again.
Michelle ignored him. “What did you tell him? And why would I be Gaia’s babysitter?”
Mitchell curled his hands into fists, “So she maybe doesn’t let Idun get the better of her and...”
“You fucking didn’t!” Michelle breathed out, eyes wide.
“As if I could do something about it!”
“As if you, fucker, could ever do anything else than thinking with your dick! I should have neutered you last time I had the chance!”
“Stop,” Mitchell said in a dangerously low voice.
“You are such a sorry excuse for…”
Mitchell had finally reached the end of his tether. His moves were so fast they were almost a blur. He was suddenly so close to Michele that their bodies were almost touching. His eyes were black orbs of infinite darkness. “You will stop talking to him like that,” Mitchell hissed.
Michele was frozen like a deer in the headlights and she stared at Mitchell out of eyes widening in terror. “What are you…” She asked in a suffocated whisper.
“I am the last thing you will ever see if you talk to Anders like that again.” Then he bared his fangs at her for good measure, “Fuck. Off.”
Michele backed off very slowly, and when she had reached the door, Anders smiled cheerfully at her while Mitchell positioned himself next to his bed like a bodyguard.
“He’s a vampire,” Anders said brightly, “Bye bye!”
Michele spun around, tore the door open, and ran.
Mitchell walked across the room with a sigh and closed the door.
“And now?” He asked after turning around again.
“Now she knows what happened with Gaia.”
Anders dragged a hand down his face, “Fuck. Mikkel will be all over me like mould on an old yoghurt.” Then he looked up, “Maybe I’d better get out of here after all?”
“You need to get well first. We’ll have to think of something else.”
It turned out easier than they had thought at first. Every nurse and doctor Anders saw for the rest of the day was persuaded by Bragi to not let anyone with the name Johnson anywhere near the room Anders was in.
“That should do the trick,” Anders said smugly and got comfortable in his bed. “You sure you don’t want to join me?”
Mitchell had a small smile for him before he looked serious again. “I think I’d rather play bodyguard for now until we’re sure your family doesn’t come barging in with torches and pitchforks.”
Then Mitchell tugged the blanket into place and smiled fondly down at Anders. “Take a nap, Anders. I’ll watch over you.”
Who wouldn’t feel safe with an eight decade old vampire as a dedicated bodyguard? So Anders caved in to the demands of his body and closed his eyes.
Mike was polishing glasses after he had wiped all the tables down, whistling under his breath, when the door flew open so violently it crashed against the wall. He almost jumped out of his skin and dropped the glass that shattered at his feet.
He looked at Michele with a confused and angry frown. “What the fucking fuck?”
“He’s a vampire!” Michelle was completely disheveled, a sure sign that something was seriously wrong.
“Anders’ boyfriend is a vampire!”
Mike was obviously too startled to catch on, and Michele growled in frustration.
“Yes, whatever his name is! Tall, dark, handsome, doesn’t know what a hairbrush is, and has no sense of fashion! He’s a vampire!”
Mike stared at her with an expression of utter confusion.
“Look, I don’t know why and how and what,” Michele began, “But I saw Anders in the hospital a few hours ago and…”
“Anders is in the hospital?” Mike dropped the towel, “What? A vampire? Did he-”
“No!” Michelle took a deep breath, “No, Anders is in the hospital, and when I annoyed him, Mr Tall, Dark, and Handsome turned into a monster in front of my eyes and threatened to kill me!”
Mike very slowly crossed his arms and spoke slowly, “Anders’ boyfriend Mitchell is a vampire,” he recapped.
“And Anders is in the hospital.”
“But it’s not because Mitchell ate him.”
“Then why is he in the hospital?”
“I don’t know.” Michelle tried to sort her hair with her fingers, “Maybe he pulled a groin muscle last night.”
Mikkel uncrossed his arms and lifted his hands, palm upward, in a gesture of utter befuddlement. Michele realized that things were happening too fast and chaotic and started again at the beginning, from finding Anders, to the babysitting, and Mitchell turning into a vampire when she gave Anders a piece of her mind regarding Gaia.
“Fuck,” Mike breathed as she had ended, “Anders fucked Gaia. And I think this might actually have been mutual, considering whose vessels they are.”
Michele actually looked shell-shocked.
“Doesn’t matter,” Mike dragged both hands down his face, “Fuck. When Axl hears this, he’ll go mental.” Then he looked at Michele. “Look, I know you like fucking Anders over, and you know I usually don’t mind, but in this case, you have to keep your mouth shut. If Axl knows this, then there’s no telling what he’ll do. And considering the fact that Anders’ boyfriend is a vampire, I don’t think it would end well for any of us.”
Michele took a deep breath and nodded.
Mike decided that he had to know more details, and to avoid communication accidents, he let Ty and Olaf in on the matter. He called Axl to make sure he didn't know about Gaia, and Ty and Olaf tried to locate Anders to find out more.
The receptionist told them the ward, and they headed upstairs.
“Mr Johnson?” A nurse on the ward asked, “No, he’s not here. He’s in 9.”
“Ward 9?” Ty asked.
“That’s what I said, isn’t it?” The nurse was quite obviously stressed and busy, and shoved past him with a full bedpan, much closer than he was comfortable with.
Ty and Olaf returned to the main hall where the elevators were. They looked at the charts.
Olaf snorted, “We’ve been Bragi-ed.”
“Ward 9 is the maternity ward.”
Ty looked at the sign and gritted his teeth while he shook his head with an exasperated huff. They headed back to the ward the receptionist had given him and asked another nurse.
“Mr Johnson?” She smiled, “Yes, he has been here. But he has been transferred to gastroenterology.”
Ty and Olaf didn’t quite trust that nurse, but they headed back towards the main hall and looked for the gastroenterology.
“Third floor,” Olaf said.
All elevators were presently occupied somewhere, so the two took the stairs. It was only four floors down, after all.
They weren’t really surprised that no one in gastroenterology had heard of an Anders Johnson. Olaf was giggling as they headed for the elevators. Ty was grumbling.
Still no elevators, so they took the stairs again, four floors up.
“Right,” Olaf said then, catching back his breath, “Three’s the charm.”
“Mr Johnson?” A young nurse in training said with a friendly smile, “Oh, he’s been discharged after lunch.”
They waited until she was out of sight.
“Mike would really come in handy right now,” Olaf muttered.
“Yes,” Ty pressed his lips together.
Then he headed for the first door, knocked and opened. Two women looked at him in mild confusion.
“Sorry,” Ty said hastily with a smile, “Wrong room.”
He tried three more doors, with the same result. In the fourth room was only one bed, and the inhabitant was snogging another person who was sitting on the bed, “Oh! Sorry, wrong… Anders!”
Anders turned around with a grin, “I’m actually pretty sure you got the right Anders. What can I do for you?”
Ty shook his head with tight lips while behind him, Olaf was trying to hide his chuckles behind his hand.
“Why are you in the hospital? And why the nonsense with using Bragi on the staff so they send us on a wild goose chase through the hospital?”
“Can’t a god have some fun around here?”
“You’re such a dick.” Ty sighed. “I was…”
“Actually, it was because I didn’t want you lot to find me,” Anders’ smile was gone.
Olaf had by now stopped grinning, “You know that wouldn’t have worked if we had Mike here, didn’t you?”
“It would have worked once,” Anders said and held up one finger.
“So why are you here?” Ty asked again.
“Hypothermia,” Anders replied.
“Very funny.” Ty crossed his arms.
“No, really…” Anders tried not to giggle, joined by Olaf who was even less successful, “Hypothermia. So I’d appreciate you not getting angry right now.”
“And why hypothermia?” Ty asked, arms still crossed.
“We used ice-cubes as sex toys and got ahead of ourselves.”
Olaf gave up and just started laughing.
“Come on!” Ty dropped his arms in exasperation. “Can’t you really come up with a better lie?”
“No. Can I go back to my convalescence now?”
Ty shook his head with a heavy sigh, “Okay,” he said, then, “Mike told us what happened last night. We just want to know why you’re in hospital.”
Anders paled a little, “Fuck… Michelle blabbed, right?”
“Yes,” Ty shrugged, “And the more we know, the better we can keep Axl from turning into a nuke.”
“And why would Axl trying to nuke me be any concern of this family?”
The bitterness in Anders’ harsh voice was unmistakable, and next to him, Mitchell tensed.
“Oh come on,” Ty said and rolled his eyes, “Seriously? You’re still our brother, and we don’t want Axl to kill you!”
“That is so sweet,” Anders lifted both eyebrows.
Now Olaf took a step forward and waved at Mitchell, “And your boyfriend not tearing him to shreds and redecorating Mike’s pub with his entrails would maybe a good idea, too. So in all, if it comes to Odin incarnated in a clueless twenty-one year old against a vampire, I wouldn’t want to make bets.”
“Jeez.” Anders shook his head, “Michele really pulled out all the stops.”
“You could have told us,” Ty huffed.
“I can’t see why that is any of your business,” Anders replied flatly.
“Anyway,” Olaf said into the strained silence, “He’s a vampire. And Axl is going to be mightily pissed off when he finds out what happened last night.”
Mitchell got up, “He’s going to face someone as mightily pissed off, mate.”
“Which is my point,” Olaf pointed a finger at him, “Axl is Odin. If Odin dies, we all go kaboom with him. So to keep Axl from getting pissed off, he mustn't know what happened. And to achieve that, we need to know as much as possible to spin an intricate web of lies in which the truth will be trapped, never to see light again.”
Three pairs of eyes came to rest on Olaf.
“You been in the shrooms again, grandpa?” Anders asked.
Olaf mournfully shook his head, “I wish I was. Then this whole shit wouldn’t bother me so much.”
Since Olaf and Ty had a point, Anders explained to them as non-graphically as he could what had transpired, and how a desperate shower had led to him being admitted to hospital with hypothermia.
“And Axl must never know,” Olaf concluded.
As if on cue, the door flew open and Axl stormed in, half hidden behind a ridiculously huge bouquet of flowers.
He was followed by Mike who could only helplessly shrug at his brothers.
“Jesus, Anders!” Axl sat down on the bed, “You poor fucker!”
“Yeah…” Anders tried not to look nervous.
“It sucks, man. I mean, kidney stones aren’t a joke, right?”
Anders immediately caught on and winced a bit, “No. Don’t make me think of it."
“But you’re all right again, right?” Axl smiled brightly, “Does your cock still work?”
Everyone froze and Mitchell tensed. Axl stayed oblivious.
“Can I evaluate that in privacy and without keeping you whole lot posted about my recovery?” Anders asked.
Axl slapped Anders’ shoulder with a grin, “Get well soon, bro! Sorry, gotta go, I gotta catch up with Gaia.”
A gust of panic flew through the room.
“Hey,” Anders fell back into his pillow, “Why don’t you go to Mike’s and drink to my recovery?”
Olaf grinned, “What a brilliant idea!”
“But Axl is immune to alcohol…” Ty began hesitantly.
“A drink won’t hurt,” Mike said brightly, “It’s on me.”
“Ta,” Axl rubbed his hands, “Talk to you later, Anders!”
Anders waved with a bright smile and winced again before Axl turned around. The door closed behind them, and Anders dragged both hands down his face.
Hypothermia information courtesy of http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hypothermia/Pages/Treatment.aspx
Chapter 3: That’s what a patient likes to hear.
Chapter by islandkate
Anders survives his hospital stay.
When the door finally closed behind the last Johnson, Anders let himself fall into the pillow with a groan.
Mitchell looked at him with raised eyebrows. “And now?”
“Now?” Anders looked back up at him with a smirk. “I really don’t feel that well yet.”
“And that means?”
“That I think I need some help speeding up my convalescence.”
Mitchell shook his head with a smile. “So what should I do? Kiss it better?”
The smirk on Anders’ face grew wider. “It’s a start.”
Mitchell sat down on the mattress. Since the head end of the bed was raised he didn’t need to bend down, and he slung an arm around Anders’ shoulders. They were just getting comfortable when the fact that they were in a hospital room caught up with them.
Someone knocked, didn’t bother to wait for a reply, and barged in with a bright “Good evening Mr. Johnson!”
Anders and Mitchell jumped away from each other, and while Mitchell dragged his fingers through his hair to comb it back, Anders adjusted his position in the bed while trying to catch his breath. He glanced out the window to notice that the sun was indeed setting. Today sucked. Then he eyeballed the nurse who walked through the room like a soldier about to charge. She also talked like a drill sergeant.
“We need to take your temperature, Mr. Johnson!”
“I’m not freezing…”
“We need to take your temperature every hour!”
Anders surrendered to his fate and opened his mouth.
“No, not there!” The nurse smiled so brightly that Anders thought of a Stephen King movie while she put a dab of what seemed to be Vaseline on the thermometer.
“Rectal measuring is much more precise and just as quick!”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Anders tried to ignore Mitchell’s suffocated snort.
Before Anders could say anything else the nurse had lifted the blanket, rolled him on his side, and slid the thermometer home. Since he was wearing one of those fucking backless hospital gowns, he didn’t have the time to prevent it, Bragi or not. He allowed himself no hope that Mitchell would leave this humiliation uncommented.
When he, despite himself, cast Mitchell a look, he saw the vampire smile at him under lowered lids. The nurse was focusing on the display of the thermometer and didn’t pay Mitchell, who was now leaning closer, any attention.
“Maybe later, we can make good use of you being already lubed up,” Mitchell breathed into Anders’ ear.
Anders involuntarily clenched around the thermometer, just as she started to remove it.
She blinked, then slowly looked up.
Anders wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. Mitchell would pay for that. Oh, how he would pay.
Once Nurse Drillsergeant had written something onto the clipboard at the foot end of Anders bed, she left, but not before giving Anders a look of confusion mingled with contempt.
Once the door had closed, Anders hit Mitchell with his pillow.
Chuckling, Mitchell sat down again and draped an arm around Anders’ shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, you will be, once we’re back in OUR bed.”
Mitchell nuzzled Anders’ temple. “I will atone,” Mitchell whispered and flicked the tip of Anders’ ear with his tongue.
“You will,” Anders whispered back, “Fucking tease.”
Anders had plans. Several, to be precise, but the fact that he had been close to dying of hypothermia was beginning to catch up with him. The next nurse barging in with what the hospital liked to call “dinner” told Mitchell he had to leave, but Bragi convinced her otherwise.
“Just a bit longer,” Anders muttered as he fell back into his pillow, “Don’t want to be alone.”
“Need me to protect you from the other Johnsons or the hospital staff?” Mitchell asked with a small smile.
“Both.” Anders closed his eyes, “Just go Big Bad John on anyone wanting to take my temperature next time.”
Mitchell couldn’t suppress a little snort.
Anders tried to think of a snarky reply, but the truth was, he was absolutely shattered. Only the knowledge that he had a vampire as a bodyguard right now enabled him to fall asleep.
No one else disturbed him that night, which was mostly thanks to Bragi telling the last nurse in his room that he was not to be disturbed, and Anders awoke feeling actually rested, a rare occurrence in hospitals.
Mitchell was still there, sitting next to the bed. It had very big advantages being someone who didn’t have to sleep.
“Morning gorgeous,” Anders replied, “Missed me much?”
Mitchell moved closer to the bed and lowered his eyelids, “Want me to show you just how much?”
Anders looked up at him with a smirk, “Just let me have a piss first.”
They hadn’t even gotten properly started on their next kiss when someone knocked, and since knocking seemed to be a mere formality, the door flew open again.
Anders fell back into his pillow with a groan as the cleaning lady entered the room with her cleaning machine.
Her scrubber made a loud and horrible woooWOOOOwooooWOwooWOOOOOOwooWOOwooooWOO sound.
He and Mitchell exchanged a desperate look.
Then, without switching off her machine, the cleaning lady pushed the door open with her foot and yelled at the top of her lungs, “AGATHA!”
Both Anders and Mitchell winced.
“YES?” Came the answer from what seemed to be the other end of the building.
“I NEED MORE STERILEX!!”
The cleaning lady stopped cleaning and seemed to wait, without bothering to switch it off.
“Maybe I should get coffee?!” Mitchell asked, raising his voice because of the machine roaring away.
At that moment the other cleaning lady appeared with a plastic jerry can filled with a blue liquid. It needed both cleaning ladies to fuel up the machine, then cleaning lady #2 vanished again while cleaning lady #1 resumed her cleaning. The machine roared on while she remained completely indifferent to Mitchell who nimbly sidestepped her a few times on his way to the door.
When the room was finally clean and the door had closed behind the cleaning lady and her machine from hell, Anders closed his eyes with a groan. Mitchell had slipped back into the room just past the cleaning lady who had been closing the door.
They relished the moment of blessed silence.
“’Bout time,” Anders grumbled and adjusted his position.
“It’s still a bit hot, though,” Mitchell said. “Maybe we can…?”
Anders lifted one eyebrow.
“I have to make up for–”
“In a fucking hospital bed?”
“Hmm…” Mitchell shrugged, “Probably not. But I could…”
He leaned closer, and Anders closed his eyes.
A knock and the door slamming open made them jump away from each other again.
The nurse entering the room was the size of a small lorry. She eyed the urine bottle hanging at the bed frame and gave Anders a death glare.
“Mr. Johnson?” She pointed accusingly at the empty bottle, “Didn’t you have to pee yet?”
Anders crossed his arms, “What do you think the bog is for?”
“Well I’ll be!” The nurse glowered at him. “You know you’re not supposed to leave the bed yet!”
Anders glared back at her, “I’m not? Maybe I’m not.” And then he lowered his voice, and the nurse’s eyes began to glass over ever so slightly. “But I’m fine. Really, you’ve seen the charts. My temperature is fine, my blood pressure is fine, there’s no reason to keep me here. I’m just taking up time and space and resources for someone who needs it so much more than I do, don’t you agree?”
It still freaked Mitchell out a bit every time he saw that, but this time he had to bite back a grin. The nurse nodded and walked to the foot end of the bed to look at the chart.
“Actually, Mr. Johnson…” She took the clipboard. “Your readings are absolutely fine. I don’t think there’s a medical reason to keep you here.”
“Oh.” Anders smiled brightly. “That’s what a patient likes to hear.”
“I’ll let the doctor know when he comes in for rounds later on.”
Anders smile fell, but he was undeterred. He lowered his voice again, “Thank you. And I appreciate that you won’t be making any more checks. There are so many others that need your attention and I really just need rest.”
The nurse smiled and blinked, “Exactly, Mr Johnson. We’ll talk later.”
The nurse left, and Anders looked at Mitchell with a triumphant little grin.
“Right then,” Anders said as the door had closed. “I had plans, and we do need to pass some time until the doctor shows up and tells me to go home.”
Mitchell crawled onto the bed, grinning himself. He meant to make use of that lube before anyone else interrupted them. Half an hour later Anders was relaxing in his own comfortable clothes again, but it took a few more hours until they had the paperwork settled and Anders was officially discharged.
By the time they made it back home it was almost dinner time, but they had picked up Thai on their way. After he had skipped lunch (which had earned him another earful from another nurse) because hospital food, Anders was absolutely starving.
As soon as they had entered the flat, Anders tensed and took a deep breath. “It still smells of apples,” he muttered.
Mitchell draped an arm around his shoulders and steered him towards the table. “Not to me it doesn’t. And pretty soon it’ll smell of Thai curry and garlic.”
Anders gave him a weak attempt at a smile.
“Come on, love.” Mitchell sat down next to him. “Let’s just get some food into you, and then we can talk, okay?”
With a heavy sigh, Anders sat down and let Mitchell laid the table and unpack the food. And of course, Mitchell had been right and eating green Thai curry that was so hot it made his eyes water helped against the lingering smell of apples.
But after dinner Anders had to take another shower, he still felt he wasn’t clean and he wondered if he ever would truly feel clean of her again. This time however Mitchell had an eye (and his hands) on him as they showered, but they had to discover that shower sex was just too exhausting right now. So Mitchell bundled Anders up into a towel and then in his bathrobe, and after toweling Anders’ and his own hair he put his god to bed.
“You coming?” Anders adjusted his head on the pillow.
Mitchell dropped the towel he had wrapped around his hips and smiled at Anders with lowered eyelids. Anders sighed and managed a smile, but when Mitchell crawled under the blanket, his discovered he was too beat to do anything.
“Too tired?” Mitchell asked gently while toying with Anders’ hair.
“I didn’t exactly get much rest the last couple nights,” Anders replied and stared at the ceiling with a frown.
Mitchell looked at him, then rested his hand on Anders’ cheek to make him turn his head.
“Hey,” he said when Anders finally looked at him. “What happened is shit, and a giant pile of it. But I don’t blame you, not one bit. Okay?” When Anders failed to answer, Mitchell pulled him a little closer. “Seriously. I mean it. It wasn’t you fucking Gaia, it was Bragi and Idun using yours and Gaia’s body to fuck each other.”
“I really wish the stupid bitch had stayed at home,” Anders muttered.
“So do I.” Mitchell sighed. “And so does she. And so does everyone else involved.”
“Shit.” Anders closed his eyes. “If Axl…”
“Axl can go kiss my sweet little undead ass.”
A little smirk appeared on Anders’ lips. “That’s my job.”
After a long pause Anders sighed again. “But what if Axl finds out?”
“We’ll deal with that when we have to.” Mitchell kissed Anders’ temple. “But since everyone involved doesn’t want Axl to know…”
With another deep and heavy sigh Anders closed his eyes and snuggled a little closer. Mitchell closed both arms around him and nuzzled his forehead.
“Too tired,” Anders muttered into Mitchell’s shoulders.
“I’m fine with just holding you,” Mitchell said softly. “I thought I’d lose you when I came back and found you passed out in the shower.”
“I… I didn’t mean to off myself, you know?” Anders swallowed and Mitchell ran his fingers through Anders’ still moist hair. “I just… I couldn’t get rid of the smell and…”
“Shh… it’s okay. Sleep. God knows you need it.”
“Any god or gods can go fuck themselves.”
“Just sleep, Anders.” Mitchell adjusted the blanket to make sure Anders was snugly wrapped and warm. “We can talk more about this tomorrow. Just sleep.”
Anders heaved one last heavy sigh before snuggling close. And if Mitchell had needed one more clue as to how exhausted Anders was, it was this. Anders really wasn’t the cuddling type, and to have him practically burrow into Mitchell’s embrace was a sure sign that he was in dire need of comfort. Mitchell curled around him as tightly as he could and sighed. Anders’ breathing was already slowing down, and Mitchell closed his eyes as well.
“Sleep, love,” he whispered. “I’ll take care of you.”
Across town, Axl was pacing back and forth with his phone in his hand while Zeb told him for the hundredth time that he didn’t need to call the police.
“She’s been gone since the evening of that fucking ceremony!” Axl stared at his phone. “Where the fuck is she, Zeb?”
“I don’t know man, but she’s a grown woman and can take care of herself.”
“Not when Anders is out there probably stalking her! I swear if he touched her I’ll…”
Zeb tilted his head. “I thought he’s in the hospital with kidney stones?”
Axl faltered and stared at his phone, at Zeb, and back at his phone, and back at Zeb again.
“Uuuhh… yes…” Axl huffed a heavy breath with an embarrassed attempt at a smile. “So he’s probably not stalking her right now.” Then his facial expression darkened. “But if he ever does…”
At that moment a key turned in the lock of the entrance door and Axl almost stumbled over his own feet in his haste to get to the door as it opened. It was indeed Gaia, and she looked like shit.
“Gaia…?” Axl cautiously took her arm. “What the fuck happened to you?”
Galia swallowed hard, and her eyes filled with tears. Axl stared at her for another moment before he dropped his phone and embraced her. And after burying her face into Axl’s shoulder Gaia began to cry.
“Something terrible happened,” she sobbed into Axl’s shoulder. “Oh god Axl… something terrible happened...”