The bar was empty except for the family; the goddesses were all over at someone else’s house to discuss the recent development and to help Gaia deal with suddenly becoming Anders beloved.
‘Why don’t you just sit down for a minute?’
‘You’re looking a bit peaky, why don’t you- ’
‘I said I’m fine would you just leave it!’ Ander’s unexpected shout echoed through the bar, startling the other members of his family. The usually mild mannered god was pale and shaking slightly, his hands wrapped around the opposite wrist, and the knuckles were white.
To the brothers’ surprise Mike stepped forward, ignoring Olaf’s cautious hand and instead reached out, posture open and gentle as if his brother was a spooked animal. Sometimes his god instincts really did come in handy. Anders barely glanced at him, before drawing his gaze back down to his shaking hands and Mike took that as permission to approach.
Slowly, cautiously he eased his way into his brothers comfort zone and settled a hand gentle down on his shaking shoulder. Anders didn’t visibly react, too focused on his examination of his own hands but Mike felt the tension shoot through him like an arrow.
‘Anders-’ Ty began cautiously, eyeing his older brother from his seat at the bar warily.
‘What Ty?’ Anders said wearily. ‘Ready to gloat? Ready to laugh now that Anders finally let someone get close to him?’ The words, so unlike him seemed to freeze them all. It was a tone that they had not heard since before his twenty-first birthday. Axl glanced at Olaf helplessly. Yes he was blindingly angry at Anders for taking away Gaia but it was not his fault. Bragi’s? Yes. But not Anders. And right now in front of them all, was Anders with no Bragi shield to hide behind. It had just taken them a while to see it.
‘Anders.’ Olaf began, his usual soothing tone enveloping the family.
‘I said I’m fine,’ Anders replied through gritted teeth. He moved away from Mike and where the shaking had lessened before it now increased significantly. He began to pace a small patch of land.
It was funny, Anders thought distantly. It had been so long since they had seen just him that they didn’t remember how to treat him when he wasn’t acting like an arrogant ass.
Ty moved forward hesitantly, no longer sure how to treat his brother but concerned at the way he was becoming paler by the minute.
‘We just want to help.’ The words were said cautiously, as Anders had already revealed his volatile mood.
‘But I’m fine,’ Anders said earnestly. ‘My partners dead, that sucks, but I live to see another day. I don’t see what all the big fuss is about.’ He tried a disarming grin, but it merely stretched across his face like paint stretched too thinly across canvas and he knew the result was gruesome.
‘Oh will you give it a rest Anders!’ Mike finally intervened, his patience shot. ‘You were nearly killed not two hours ago! Helen was killed! So will you sit down, shut up and let us take care of you!’
The words seemed to stun the blond and he stilled. He stopped pacing, the shakes stopped, he stopped breathing. Taking advantage of this, Mike came up behind him and placed a firm yet supportive grip on the back of his brother’s neck, his thumb rubbing small circles into the skin. At this Anders collapsed, breath leaving him in a rush but Mike and Olaf were there to catch his weight, murmuring soothing nonsense into the others ear as they directed him over to the couch at the end of the bar, lying him down on his back.
Axl stood up in concern, but Ty hushed him, wrapping a comforting arm around his brother.
‘What’s going on?’ he asked in a weak voice. He hated feeling this weak. He was supposed to be all powerful. Things like this were not supposed to happen anymore!
‘He’s gone into shock,’ Ty replied quietly, moving them both out of the way as Olaf bustled past him to fetch the first aid kit. ‘It should have happened hours ago but he’s been fighting it ever since.’
‘Why-’ he couldn’t finish the sentence, staring down at his hands shamefully. Ty just sighed and drew him in closer his eyes never leaving Anders as he lay unresponsive on the couch, Mike hovering near his head, running soothing hands through the younger's hair while he waited for Olaf to return.
‘He just watched the woman he was in a relationship with get murdered in front of his eyes. Now I know Anders can be an arsehole but he is not cruel. He cared for Helen. Possibly was even starting to love her. On top of that, he had to run for his life and try and warn us about a psycho-bitch who was coming to kill everyone. The only reason he hadn’t gone into shock before was because he felt he had to warn us. To protect us,’ he clarified the last bit when he felt Axl shift in confusion. ‘As I said, he may act like an arsehole but he cares for us, in his own way. Mike and Olaf have been trying to get him to let go for the past hour now.’
‘And now?’ Axl’s voice was small, his own eyes fixed on his larger than life brother.
‘Now we wait.’ Ty said patiently. ‘And fix what’s broken.’
‘He’s our brother.’ Axl finally said, and moved from the shelter of Ty’s strong arms, towards one who needed the comfort more. His voice took on a more determined edge. ‘The only one who’s allowed to break him is us.’