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The impervious darkness was surrounding him, timeless and encompassing. He was floating through pitch black matter, neither able to see, hear or speak. Neither did he know how long he was hovering in the dark, nor had he an idea who he was. Or where. Or when. All he could feel was a bone-deep numbness; a shiftlessness beyond comprehensible. He wasn't able to orientate himself or understand what had happened to him. 

 

There had been something before, but what? He couldn't remember. There was a hint of gold and blue; the faintest smell of the ocean; the honey-warm purr of a voice ... But he just couldn't grab it. 

 

Suddenly, scarlet red streaks flashed through the blackness when a white hot pain was slicing through his entire body. It started in his head and raged its way down his spine to his pelvis and legs. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound could be heard. Did he even have a mouth? Did he have extremities? He must, given the pain after all. He felt rather like a shapeless creature, damned to exist in the darkness, muted, blind and deaf, only created to suffer.

 


 

Everything changed when the sensation of sweetness reached him. He couldn't point it out. Was it a memory? The presence of someone? It filled him out and enveloped him at the same time; the velvety soft feeling of … something . He could smell it, taste it in his mouth; it gave him strength and comfort. Far away, a hint of a sound reached his ears. A soft mumble, soothing and comforting.

 

The excruciating pain subsided, reducing to a dull thrum, overtaking his entire being. It was still painful in a way, but didn't stand in comparison with the former torment; by far not .  He tried to turn in the direction of the low murmur, tried to find it, hold it; never let it go. It was the thin thread that connected him to life; which could bring him back. Back to what? He didn't know. But he had to find out.   

 


 

A low moan coming from the bed caught Anders' attention and had him look up from his book, checking if there was any sign of alertness in Mitchell's senseless body. The vampire had his eyes still closed, but the fast and shallow breathing indicated that he must be in pain; that he must feel pain. He had been unconscious for the last 3 days, not responding to any external stimulation. Michele had called it a coma, and if he were human, he would have been admitted to the intensive care unit, tubed and ventilated, and not to Anders Johnson's bedroom. But since John Mitchell was a vampire, with no heartbeat or circulation, his identity would have been exposed in no time. And probably the secret behind Anders and his brothers as well. 

 

So, due to the knowledge that his boyfriend was immortal as long as his heart was unpierced and he didn't burn to ash, Anders was okay with having him here, nearly untreated. 

 

During the last three days, occasional sighs and groans had been the only sign for Mitchell still being 'there' somehow, even if not responding. It had been very hard for Anders, sitting by his side, only waiting and not being able to actually do something. He had skyped a lot with George and Annie, who had assured him of John's increased healing powers and expected the usual quick recovery, as long as he got fed enough blood to draw energy from. When human beings normally took weeks to recover, Mitchell would probably be right as rain in a few days time. That was another reason why he couldn't be treated in hospital, the fast healing of fractured bones would erase suspicion immediately.

 

Of course, they had brought him to A&E after the incident, but Michele had run the CAT scan in secret along with some X-rays. At this point of time, Anders had been a shaking mess, fearing for Mitchell's life, since he didn't know too much about the physiology of vampires and their invincibility. He had never been as frightened as in those lonely hours, when he had sat in the hospital’s waiting room. Ty had been with him, and Anders didn’t care for appearing weak in his brother’s eyes, helplessly crying his eyes out.

 

The news Michele had brought after examining the vampire had been devastating at first. Mitchell had incurred a basal skull fracture with brain contusion, resulting in a coma, along with a shattered collarbone, multiple rib fractures and a fractured hip bone. For humans the head injury was life-threatening. For Mitchell though, not so much. But he still had not woken up by now.

 

The amount of blood needed was immense and when Anders began to show signs of anemia, Michele had to bring banked blood. Feeding the vampire with blood from his wrist wasn't very effective anyway, as the blood flow was slow. But using his jugular vein would have been way too dangerous, in case Mitchell's inner beast resurged and got his teeth into him. 

 



Anders had spent three days not leaving Mitchell's side. Ty had occasionally checked in, as had Michele, but most of the time he sat there in silence. It was not the severity of the injuries which had him on the edge. Mitchell would live, he had understood that now. What really riled him up was his own reaction to potentially losing someone important. He didn't care much when his father left for the sea, or when his mother turned into a tree. 

 

But it was different with his vampire. The thought of him dying or suffering permanent damage had given him sleepless nights. He had never felt that helpless, so vulnerable. And he hated it. If Anders despised one thing, it was losing control and composure. And concerning Mitchell he had. He always did. It was still unfathomable how this tall dark stranger with the unconventional clothing and the emotional luggage of at least twenty support groups had sneaked into his life and heart through the backdoor. Pun not intended. For him, Anders had done things he didn't think himself capable of. He had washed and clothed him, fed him, had changed the bedding. Long story short, he had cared for him. And Anders Johnson didn't care; for anybody. 

 

The blond shook his head to clear it from the dark musings. He himself had brought that upon Mitchell, no-one else. If it hadn't been for him, Mitchell would now walk through Auckland, carefree and unharmed. 

 

'And lonely', Bragi whispered in the back of his mind. 

 

Perhaps the god was right. Both of them had felt drawn towards each other like moths to the flame. They had hit it off and were inseparable ever since. Each had done the other immensely good, and if Anders was a better human now, actually caring someone, what bad could that mean? 

 

But on the other hand, he had pulled Mitchell into that swamp of godly shit, which had led them where they were now. One unconscious in the bed, the other weeping at his side.    

 


 

Of course it was not Anders' fault; not directly at least. But it had been him who had suggested Mitchell should feed on him this day. It had seemed right in that moment, as John had been hungry and Anders, as always, immensely horny. 

 

He really indulged in their bloody sex games. Over time, he had found that blood play was even more intimate than actual sex. He loved the tightrope walk between closeness and intimacy on the one side and the thrill of potential loss of control and danger on the other. Plus, the special connection a vampire held with a human voluntarily giving blood was the most intensive pleasure he had ever felt. Not to speak of the high trust level those actions required, and the excessive aftercare. Since Mitchell also got high on it, one could imagine it belonged to their regular sex life. 

 

Of course, it happened behind closed doors. But unfortunately Axl, his dumb and impulsive little brother with the habit of entering apartments where- and whenever he wanted without asking, had chosen this very moment to appear in his living room. It had only taken two seconds of seeing his brother covered in blood and the vampire standing behind him, fangs out and eyes black, to allow those stupid ideas Mike had put into his head to develop a life of their own. Assuming Anders was about to be killed - Mike had told him so after all, hadn't he? - Axl, or rather Odin, hadn't put a second thought into his actions and had launched at the vampire, lifted him up and smashed him into the next wall. Unfortunately, Odin seemed to hold a special power over supernatural beings, as Mitchell was like a doll in his grip, being severely injured by the impact. 

 

The crack of the bones when the vampire hit the wall still echoed in Anders' ears, and the terror of finding him unconscious sat deep in his bones and hadn't dissipated yet. 

 


 

Mitchell woke two days later. Although Anders had impatiently looked forward to this moment, seeing his love writhing in pain was not what he had expected. Although being drugged up to the ears with analgesics, he was suffering sheer agony, and was not even able to speak. The only way to calm him a little was to let Bragi emerge, as the god was curiously zealous to be of help, probably looking forward to all the sexual adventures awaiting them as soon as Mitchell was healed. 

 

The next few days weren't a walk in the sunshine. Although Mitchell got better every day, he was still bedridden and pain-stricken. It seemed that, for some reason, painkillers didn't work all too well on vampires. At least he was able to communicate and -  what had been Anders' greatest concern - remember. He had been afraid the head injury might take the vampire's memories, especially regarding their relationship. Mercifully, that hadn't happened, much to Mike's dismay, he reckoned.

 

The only thing Mitchell couldn't remember, was the incident itself. But Anders had filled him in, not seeing the point of lying to him. The vampire was in bed, propped up on a mountain of pillows, shoulder still bandaged and eyebrows creased in pain. 

 

“He watched us in our most intimate moment, assuming I was about to kill you and just threw me through the wall? Without even considering it might be consensual? After all those long months we've been together? I can't believe it! And I thought I have a short temper.”

 

He flailed his good arm in exasperation, but the gesture was weak and resulted in a hiss of pain.

 

“Slowly!” Anders urged. “He tried to call several times, but I didn't pick up. He's not welcome here anymore. Not at the moment.”

 

“At least he doesn't show up unasked anymore. You know, I think he was just afraid you might be hurt. You're his brother, after all.”

 

Anders huffed, having considered the same thought before. But yet, he was not ready to let Axl back to his life so easily. 

 

“Why is a teenager getting the mightiest god ever? How's that even possible?” the vampire mused.

 

“He's not a teenager! He turned twenty-one and therefore is of legal age!”

 

“Yes,” Mitchell deadpanned, “with the brain of a fourteen-year-old.”

 

Anders couldn't suppress a laugh. Fortunately, Mitchell was getting more and more to his old self; cynical just as himself. They were a great match!

 

“Said the one-hundred-twenty-years-old who knows every Disney song by heart.”

 

“Oow, touché!” 

 

The vampire couldn't suppress a snicker, immediately regretting it.

 

“Ouch!”

 

“Do you need another dose?” Anders asked with worry.

 

“No thanks, I'm fine,” Mitchell wheezed, pressing his good hand at his ribcage.

 

“John!”

 

“Don't John me!”

 

“John, you're not. You're in pain!”

 

“I'll live.” 

 

He winced when he carefully let himself sink back into the pillows with a groan. He sat there in silence for a few moments, before voicing a thought, which was circling his mind for quite a while now. 

 

“Withdrawal will be hell, you know? Although it's probably nothing compared to this.”

 

“You think it'll be that bad? You were feeding on my blood regularly before all this.”

 

“Yes, on a small rate once in a while. Now, it's exclusively blood. A lot.”

 

“We'll find a way. Bragi will help.” 

 

“It's not going to be so easy, Anders. There might be times you won't recognise me. I'll be cranky and aggressive. It will take months to move in the sunlight freely. And ...”

 

“We'll manage. You won't be alone, I'm with you.”

 

Mitchell's eyes were sad, not trusting his luck to finally have found someone who could bear with all this. Anders would probably run as soon as withdrawal peaked and he, Mitchell, would barely be able to control himself. 

 

“Hey! I mean it! We're in this together, and I won't leave you! You bear with this God shit as well, don't you?”

 

“I do what I can,” Mitchell smirked, and then took Anders' hand.

 

“Thank you!”

 

With wiggling eyebrows, Anders crawled closer towards his vampire.

 

“You know, Bragi seems to be very eager to help nursing you back to health.”

 

He put his hands on the vampire's chest, running his finger tip over one nipple under the thin shirt.

 

“As am I. I can barely control myself anymore, to be honest.”

 

Mitchell grinned wolfishly, inclining his head.

 

“I wouldn't say no,” he murmured, shuffling closer. He leaned further towards Anders, who met him halfway, but before their lips could touch, the weight put on his left arm got too much.

 

“Ooowww, fucking collarbone!”

 

He threw himself back on his pillow, huffing in annoyance and pain, while Anders crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the headboard with a thunderous face.

 

“Just fucking great; cock-blocked by my little idiot brother!”

 

The vampire wheezed, eyebrows drawn together. 

 

“We'll make up for this once I'm fully healed, I promise! Revenge is a dish best served cold,” Mitchell said grimly.

 

Anders arched a brow, gifting his invalid boyfriend with a crooked mile.

 

“I can already picture what you have in mind. My homophobic stuffy little dumbass of a brother won't like it, I reckon. Too bad.”

 

“Indeed! And you don't mess with an angry, sex-deprived vampire on withdrawal.”

 

A satisfied grin spread on their faces, eyes longing when they entwined their fingers. Anders' face turned devilish when he turned to Mitchell, liking his upper lip. 

 

“I can't wait.”