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Self Indulgence

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“You're going to die if you keep doing this.”
Tord looked up at his subordinate, squinting against the white hospital lights. “That is kind of the plan.” He replied in a deadpan, arm loosely clutched against his body. Almost as if he could keep Patryk from seeing it, as if he would forget that he had found Tord like this in the first place and leave him alone. It didn’t work.
“What happened to raising hell? To making the world yours?” Patryk gave him a sour look, one that spoke volumes of his disappointment in Tord. It vaguely reminded the Norsk of a mother scolding her child.
With a sigh, Tord looked at the butterfly needle sticking out of his arm, trying to get some emotion to process in his brain. He hated needles, but there was no reaction. “I do not know.”
“Tord,” the Norsk winced, but Patryk continued, “I'm not going to stand by while you do this, we're gonna make you better.”
“I won't let you. I deserve this.” His voice cracked with misuse, and he felt the bone weariness that sat in his body. This time he was close, he would have died with just a little more time. Another hour or two and they couldn't have saved him from slipping away finally. He hated Paul for bursting in after he hadn't answered the frantic questions yet again.
They'd had this conversation many times before, and usually they would argue for hours and Tord would win because he was the Red Leader, and arguing with the (hopeful) future ruler of the world wasn’t always the best idea. Today, Pat just inhaled deeply and turned away, “Get some rest, Paul and I are just outside if you need anything.”
With a click, he was gone and Tord was alone in the blank room. A hollow feeling sat in his chest, slowly bleeding out black into his body. Why couldn't this be easier?
With the aid of an IV drip and sedatives, he was back up on his feet a few days later. He made his rounds with practiced ease, walking down the halls of his bunker and attending his duties as commander of the Red Army, with either Paul or Patryk always by his side. They watched him like a hawk, so he couldn't dump his meals in a trash bin, and he couldn't press his cigars into his skin to burn them out. He couldn't do anything, really.
They took his place in meetings as well, and though he sensed their insubordination, he couldn’t care less.
This continued on for a few weeks, the itching observance that made him grit his teeth with annoyance, until one day he found himself in the war room with his two subordinates, his caretakers, both seated by his side. He stared blankly as Patryk pulled out files and pictures of things that the Norsk didn't process, Paul had his hand softly resting on his leader’s arm, squeezing the now healthy flesh in reassurance.
“You're done, Tord. No more army until you are better.”
When this fell on him, he glowered at them, “You can not take my army from me.” The anger apparent on the small man’s face was almost comforting to Paul and Pat, for this was the first obvious sign of emotion they had seen in weeks.
“You don't have a handle on reality, let alone your duties. If this goes on any longer you'll put the mission in jeopardy, sir.” Paul spoke firs, reaching out to reassuringly touch the Norsk’s forearm, “You need a break.”
Tord felt the urge to push into his friend’s touch, but instead jerked away, “I am the Red Leader. This is my army, and you two are my subordinates. You will listen to me.” He stood and slammed his hand down on the table, the metal rattling with the force of the impact.
Patryk flinched, though quickly recovered and gestured to the pictures once again. “Sorry boss, that's not how it's going to work from now on. You need this.”
Flicking his gaze to where he indicated, Tord saw them and then actually looked
at them, his heart stopped beating in his chest. Those were pictures of- of- he could barely even think it.
Shots of an all too familiar house were sitting there, showing glimpses of the inhabitants, Edd and Matt and… The thought shut down, neurotransmitters abruptly halting their signals.
The anger shattered, and the longer his green eyes lingered on the photographs, the weaker he felt. Everything in him screamed “No!” They couldn't see him he was broken trash evil disgusting. All his scars seemed to burn under his clothes and he was sure that they were visible even through three layers. He squeezed his eyes shut. This couldn't be happening. His clutched at his chest as he felt white hot pain there, pain that he thought he had buried, pain that he'd almost forgotten completely.
“Boss! I need you to breathe. Tord look at me I have you. You're okay Tord it's okay.”
“Paul stop, he's having an attack.”
“But why, those are his friends-”
“It doesn't matter, hold him still.”
Tord sucked in air, barely noticing that he'd fallen and was crumpled on the ground. Something touched him and he began to struggle, babbling in Norwegian. Shushing noises filled his ears and blocked out Patryk’s curses. He was pinned down a moment later and the fear truly began to take over. He gave a strangled yell just as something jabbed into his arm, making his panic increase exponentially. He thrashed around and sent kicks flying, nothing going through his mind but the urge to get away. Fatigue began to crash through his limbs moments later. Desperately, he fought through the heaviness, opening his eyes to find that he could only see the silhouettes of two men before everything went dark.
. . .
A lot of preparation went into Tord’s “vacation”, as they called it. There was the army to take care of, and Tord had to be coached through the fear of returning to his old home. Paul took him to a soldier that had once been a psychiatrist one day… it went less than well. The Norsk left after his third time. Plans and what ifs ran through the small man’s head constantly, and soon enough he found himself being dropped off at his new home with a bag and a buzzing in his body. He felt numb, but also hopeful for once in a long while. He was home, after eight years that he wanted to forget, he was home.

Chapter Text

Maybe I should have called and announced my arrival, Tord thought as he stared at the doorbell he just rang. This was going to be hell at the very least, showing up out of the blue was the worst way to go about things and yet here he was. The door opened wide, revealing a handsome ginger, Matt. Tord gulped, “Hello, old friend.” He became aware of how much his accent had changed while he was gone and felt his stomach knot up.

  “Uh, and who are you?”

Matt was frowning slightly, not enough to crease his face, (he said it made wrinkles appear quicker; Tom said stupidity made them appear faster.) The Norsk felt his breath catch and struggled to find his composure, “It’s me, uh, Tord.”

“Matt? Who’s at the door?” Someone yelled, too high to be…

“Some guy with weird hair! Come look!” Matt replied, Tord felt the urge to snap at his old friend that his hair was not weird, it was cool.

And then Edd came to the door. The brunet pulled the door open to see the visitor, stopping and staring openly. “Tord?”

“Ah, hey Edd, it has been a long time, yes?” his feet shuffled about as awkwardly as his words.

Edd blinked. “Tord what the fuck?”

The question came out loud and snappy, causing an uncontrollable flinch. “I-”

“What. The. Fuck. Where did you-” He heaved in a breath, “Eight years of nothing and you show up with a duffel bag? Seriously Tord?”

He tried to placate his friend, moving his hands in a ‘calm down’ motion, “I can explain Edd, trust me, just-”

Edd shut up his old roommate with a sharp look, arms crossed over his chest. the years of absence thickening into a palpable tension. Tord rubbed the back of his neck. “I, uh,” he swallowed thickly around his anxiety and resisted the urge to abandon this plan and just leave, even if it would be much easier than any of this.

Matt looked between the two, feeling like a third wheel in a lover's quarrel, “Um, Edd, can we just hear him out? He looks like hell.”

The words threw him off for a moment, but he recovered and offered a tentative smile, glancing between the two almost hopefully. “I-I promise Edd, just- can I come inside and explain?”

“I really don’t think that’s-“ Edd started, shooting a glance behind him.

“Of course! We wouldn’t just leave you to stand in the cold!” Matt either missed Edd’s worried tone, or completely disregarded it, throwing an arm forward and clapping Tord on the shoulder, startling him.

“Matt, it’s 57 degrees outside-”

The Norwegian coughed and took a step back, edging away from the two. He was just opening his mouth to admit that this was probably a bad idea when Matt picked up on his behaviour and shot Edd a look before stepping outside and ushering Tord forward again. “Come on, he can at least come in for a bit and explain.”

Edd’s mouth opened with a small pop before he ground his teeth together, and gestured inside the house almost reluctantly. “ Fine, come in Tord, Matt and I will be right in once we finish talking.” His brown eyes glance between the kitchen and Tord. “Water and juice are in the fridge, you know, in case you’ve forgotten . It has been nearly a decade , after all.”

The sugary sweet words tacked on at the end left the Norsk sick, and he nodded numbly with a whispered, “I remember.”

He placed the beat up duffel bag against the wall separating the living room and hallway, ignoring the unease that made his stomach toss violently. The sound of Matt and Edd’s hushed arguing seemed far away to his ears, overcome with the loud ringing as he looked around the living room. His hands tapped nervously at his side and his green eyes darted around the room, taking everything in. The couches that they’d picked out over ten years ago were nowhere in sight, clean spots and impressions still standing out on the carpet. He was just about to make a remark about this, try and lighten the mood a little, when suddenly his blood ran cold.

Nothing had changed, but the hair on the back of his neck prickled with unease, mouth suddenly tasting like cold tequila kisses and nights filled with idiotic decisions. The voice he’d dreamt about, the voice that echoed in his nightmares and haunted him every day suddenly sounded from just out of his peripheral vision.

“What is he doing here?”

Tord found himself whipping around to face the source of the voice, his eyes wide in that way that made him look like a frightened child. “Thomas, I-”

“Don’t.” His black eyes show no emotion, voice shooting out quickly before he spoke again. “Don’t fucking speak to me.” Malice dripped off his tongue, so poisonous Tord could nearly feel it making his blood wither in his veins.

The Norsk shrunk into himself, “I, okay-”

“I said don't fucking speak to me.” He snapped, bristling visibly.

Edd appeared, saving Tord from even attempting to respond. A hand grabbed the sleeve of his hoodie and dragged him forward unceremoniously, Edd placing himself between Tord and Tom as he dragged the smaller man to the kitchen. “Let’s, uh, get you that juice.”

He couldn’t help it- as Edd yanked him into the kitchen he glanced over his shoulder at Tom, heart skipping a beat when he saw Matt grabbing the alcoholic’s hands in his own and whispering something to him. Jerking with Edd’s movements, he was pulled away from the scene to the brunet shuffling in the fridge to pull out orange juice. “Here, grab a glass, they're in the same place.” His voice was softer than earlier, which Tord appreciated even when his mind was still trying to discern the possible meaning behind the exchange he had seen.

He silently took a cup from a cabinet and let Edd pour him a drink with a small “Thank you.”

Swallowing the first gulp was like trying to force glass shards down his throat. In fact, Tord nearly choked on the drink, vaguely wondering when the last time he’d had any water was. Edd nudged him to a barstool and he sat, staring at the offending drink for a time.

By the time he glanced up from his seat again, both Matt and Thomas had disappeared further into the house- something which caused his heart to twist painfully. Edd settled on shooting rapid-fire questions and Tord lied his way through them numbly.

“Where have you been?”

“Here and there, you know how it is.”

“Why did you stop calling?”

“Number changed-” This one was true, to some degree. He’d ditched his old cell phone within twelve hours of leaving home.

“So you couldn’t be bothered to look us up in yellow pages?” Edd raised his eyebrows, his gestures loose in the way they only got when he was irritated.

“I, uh, did not think of that…” The lies were coming easy now, readily practiced and executed with years of experience behind them.

“Oh for fuck’s sake- fine. Why didn’t you write letters or use even the slightest amount of effort to try and keep in touch with us.”

Because I was locked up in that- he halted that train of thought quickly and sighed, “I did not have time.”

“Why did you leave us in the first place, then?”

“To go to the city, you know this.” That was a terribly flimsy excuse, in retrospect.

“Fine. What did you find in the city that was so important you had to ignore us for eight years.”

“Work.” He deadpanned.

Edd’s fist smacking on the table jolted him from his automatic responses, and his eyebrows knitted together as he looked at the source of the disturbance. “Stop the bullshit , Tord. Give me a straight answer for, for fucking once just give me…” He trailed off, tired brown eyes raking up and down Tord’s body before he slumped slightly in his seat. “Just give me a straight answer, please.” His voice was far too quiet, far too subdued. Tord wishes he would yell again, that Edd would get angry and pissed- lash out at the Norsk in the way he knew he deserved. Anything but just sit here and look so… defeated.

“I-” he tapped his forefinger against the glass nervously to stall, “Can we talk about this later? I am tired.”

Edd inhaled deeply, as if he might push the subject longer before he sighed and put his head in a hand, waving the other one dismissively. “Yeah. Sure, Tord. I’m not dropping it forever, though.”

“I- may I stay here tonight?” He asked with apprehension, looking at the brunet expectantly. He hoped for a yes, since he had nowhere else to go.

The brunet let out an annoyed sound, watered down brown eyes looking up to settle on the fidgeting Norsk, “Sure just- you owe me an explanation, Tord.”

“Of course; I only need some rest, I had a long trip here.” He lied through his teeth. His carefully prewritten lies had started to unravel before his very eyes, leaving him only with the option to dodge the questions rather than try to answer them.

He shoved up out of the stool and turned away to walk to his room, stopped by a comment from Edd, “Matt was right, you do look like hell Tord.” The Norsk shrugged it off, speed walking away to his old room, grabbing his bag on the way, and slipped in without ceremony.

He exhaled softly, leaning against the door, wrapping his arms around his stomach and hunching in. His eyes opened to Tom glaring at him. His heart froze and his eyes flicked around his old room, now obviously inhabited by the pissed off drunk.

“I-” As usual, Tom didn’t wait for him to finish.

“What are you doing here?”

“This… is my room.” He swallowed and glanced around again, adding quietly. “Was.. was my room.”

“What are you doing here ? Back in this house.”

“I… missed home.” He muttered, avoiding the piercing gaze of his friend.

Tom’s response is immediate, voice painfully apathetic, “This isn’t your home anymore.”

Tord winced, rubbing his wrist tenderly through his sweater and staring at the floor, incapable of coming up with a witty comeback or anything to say at all. The silence between them stretched on painfully before Tom scoffed. “Don't answer then, I don't care.”

“I will just… go and sleep on the couch.” He wheezed out past the fist in his chest.

“No.”

Tord’s eyes shot up at the response, heart thudding loudly. Thomas continued, “I don’t trust you, so you’re sleeping in here tonight. Make a bed on the floor.” The drunk stalked to the closet and grabbed his headphones, his next words growled lowly. “Plus, we don’t have the couch anymore. Dumbass.”

Before Tord could respond, Tom slipped the headphones over his ears and plugged them into his phone. Seconds later Tord could see the cuffs vibrating with the heavy bass assaulting the Brit’s ears. He stared at Tom, examining him for changes, noticing he'd gained weight and definition, a little round and more bulky in his top half. Tord wondered if he found him even more attractive now. The Brit looked powerful .

Shaking his head, the Norsk looked to find something to make a bed, before realizing he didn't have any sort of sleeping bag or blanket. He moved to the closet, shooting a cautious look to the brooding Brit at the desk. Tom gave no reaction not that he was paying Tord any attention so he began digging in the trashed closet for anything he could sleep on.

Laying on the floor, there it was, a stupid booze stained blue sweater that had been crumpled up and thrown inside. Quickly, Tord snatched it up and cradled it to his chest. There was an old sheet that smelled like sweat nearby that he balled the sweater up in, so he could smuggle the thing over to a corner to sleep with. His little nest was pitiful and hardly comfortable, but still better than some of the living conditions that he'd previously endured.

Falling asleep was painful, Tord’s eyes brimming with tears as he buried his face in one of Tom’s old jackets. He’d often spent many of his nights with one of the Brit’s stolen ties pressed to his nose to help him fall asleep, but that was nothing in comparison to this. This, straight from the source. The strong scent of alcohol, fabric softener, and a hint of sweat all wrapped up in something that just painted his thoughts with Tom Tom Tom Tom Tom. He dared not look at the man, simply keeping his face buried in the makeshift pillow and trying not to sob.

This was a bad idea, he should have never come back, he should have just fucking died already. Edd was mad at him, Matt forgot him, and Tom… Tom hated his guts. Tom hated him, and Tord stilled loved him with all his being. How was that for a cliche. Ha. The Norsk wanted to crawl into his bed and cry and tell him everything that happened but he couldn't. He couldn’t because he knew, he knew Tom didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.

The events of that day overwhelmed his spinning mind as he curled in on himself, sleep eventually catching him and stopping the never ending barrage of negative thoughts. He slept soundly curled up in the smell of booze, sweat, and Tom.

Chapter Text

The feeling of cold, clammy hands on his body shot through the fuzziness of sleep, making Tord shoot up from his little nest. His chest heaved for a few minutes as his eyes darted about the room, frantic. Finally, he registered where he was and relaxed a little. Some wake up call. He sighed, settling back onto his makeshift bed, tucking his knees close to his chest and fiddling with the edges of his sweater, and then Tom finally spoke to him for the first time since he told Tord to just make a bed on the floor.

“You smell like you took a nap in a dumpster.”

“That is funny because your clothes are the things that smell like a dumpster.” He snapped and immediately felt embarrassed. That delivery was shit, plus he had admitted he had slept with Tom’s clothes.

“Yeah well, go take a fucking shower already. I’ll throw all the clothes in the laundry.” He exhaled heavily, as if talking to Tord pained him, settling a dead gaze on the Norsk. “Did you even bother packing clothes? How long were you planning on dragging this out, anyways?”

Tord was beginning to feel like every word Thomas said was a knife cut, though he still replied somewhat smoothly, “I have to talk to Edd about it, but yes I did bring clothes.”

There was almost a hint of relief in Tom’s eyes before it vanished as he returned his attention back to his desk. There was a  short silence before he grinds out, “Don’t use Matt’s soaps, he’ll lose his shit. I’m sure you remember which ones are mine, you can use those for now. Just, go fucking bathe already before my room starts to smell like rotting Commie corpse.”

“Fine. I am going. Would you ever so kindly do me a favor and bring me my bag? I mean, since you are so insistent on me going now.” He hissed, not bothering to look at the Brit as he got up and turned away. The scathing words were almost comfortably familiar.

As he reached the door, two thumps hit his back, followed quickly by a third piece of clothing landing squarely on his head and covering his eyes. He growled and shrugged it off, to Tom’s mirthful, “There’s your clothes, fucker.” He flipped off the drunk after picking up the clothes tossed at him. Tord puffed under his breath, cheeks itching with the urge to smile as he made his way to the bathroom. Maybe it could be like old times. There was less of the insistent fear dragging at his psyche when he was home, it made at least some of the tension dissipate.

He stripped off his clothes in precise fashion, distancing himself from his actions as he tossed his things in a pile and slipping into the shower. He hated being naked, ever since… not now Tord.

The shower water didn't turn straight to boiling like it did at the base, so he had too much time to sit and stare at his feet, trying not to think about his bare skin or scars. Once the water was steaming, he stepped in and lost himself to the hot droplets on his skin. Time passed quickly as he half-mindedly scrubbed at his skin, fingers hesitating around wounds old and new. Soon enough the water ran cold and he got out, wrapping a towel around his shoulders to warm back up.

A slow panic set in when Tord realized his jacket was gone along with the other clothes. Instead, there was a huge purple sweater along with a roll of gauze that hadn’t been there before sitting on the sink. His stomach rolled uncomfortably. He took the roll, looking down at now irritated and bleeding cuts that littered his malnourished form, and threw it into the trash. The blood was wiped away with stray toilet paper and disposed of before he yanked on his clothes with shaking hands. The sweater was too big on the small norsk, and didn't look too good on him- purple wasn't his color- but it worked.

Cleaned and clothed, he left the bathroom and immediately smelled coffee in the air. The scent made him brighten and he made his way to the kitchen where a fresh pot was brewing. Tord poured himself a cup and sat at the table, a bit too tired and out of it to notice Matt sitting nearby.

The Norsk nursed his drink, enjoying the warmth in his hands obviously until Matt spoke up. “So are you an ex of Tom’s?”

Tord almost spewed his coffee all over the counter, whipping around to face the ginger and wiping his mouth. “Fæn! When did you get here?”

Matthew was more solemn than normal, looking somewhat mature even though he was eating what looked like a chocolate ice cream bar. “I've been here Todd, didn't you notice?”

“It's Tord.”

“What?” He cocked his head like a puppy, just like he used to. It made Tord’s heart ache.

He explained smoothly, “My name is Tord. You said Todd.”

“Excuse me, but what kind of a name is Tord?”

“It is Norwegian. Well... short for a Norwegian name.” A sip of coffee went down, easing his nerves some.

“I thought you were Russian.”

Tord let out a heavy sigh, “No, I am not Russian, though the accent may sound close to you.”

“Oh, okay Todd…” he paused for a long time, his face falling some, “So are you Tom’s ex?”

Tord swallowed down some coffee to give himself time to come up with an answer, eyes skittering away from Matthew’s almost… sulking face. He cleared his throat slightly and tapped the counter nervously with a finger. “I am a… uh… yes. I am. An ex of his.” Great, that was the most awkward sentence ever.

The answer didn’t seem to improve Matt’s mood, and he simply hummed, biting into his ice cream bar and staring down at the counter.

“Is that ice cream? Last I remember you were a bit of a health nut.” Tord asked, trying to clear the air. The ginger was always easy to distract.  

His eyebrows furrowed together slightly- not enough to wrinkle the skin between them, but enough to show his confusion. “I don’t know how you… know that. But, I’m still a health nut. This isn’t chocolate, it’s a dietary requirement of mine.”

“Dietary… requirement?” He frowned and looked at the bar.

Before Matt could answer, a new presence graced the kitchen. Tom was scruffy, grumbling about laundry as he sat purposefully between them and pecked the ginger on his cheek with a loud smack. Immediately, Tord felt his mood drop again, lowering his gaze to his coffee. There was the sound of a pleased hum before suddenly Tom piped up.

“Euhg… Babe, you got blood on your cheek. Again.

At the words, Matt quickly wiped a napkin over his face, apologizing to Tom quickly and the giving him a cold kiss at the corner of his jaw. Tord was going to be sick.

“Blood?” Tom looked to Tord at the accusing statement. “You said blood, is on…” It was then that Matt yawned, and Tord got an eyeful of fangs. Fangs. What the fuck. Fangs. Fangs? Fangs.

“On my cheek? Yeah that happens, it's kinda gross.” He laughed softly, as if it was perfectly normal.

“Fangs,” came Tord’s oh so elegant response, still blinking dumbly at Matthew.

Edd came shuffling into the kitchen, denying him answers yet again as he threw back the last of a can of cola and burped. Good old Edd. “Reunion breakfast. I'm taking orders.”

His mood was better than yesterday, which was out of character for morning Edd. Tord then realized his childhood friend had dark bags under his eyes- you can’t get grumpy about waking up if you never went to sleep.

“Pancakes!” Matt immediately blurted, making the other two sitting with him roll their eyes.

“Tom?” Edd shot, already pulling pancake mix out.

“Get me a screwdriver and I'll suck you off I swear.”

Edd stopped for a second, sighed, and then kept moving, “Orange juice it is.”

The Brit wrinkled his nose, but took the cup of orange juice that Edd placed in front of him. When Edd raised his eyebrows purposefully, he let out a long suffering sigh and glanced at the fridge. “I’ll take… Blueberries in my pancakes.” He was rewarded with a clap on the shoulder and a beaming smile from Edd.

“Got It Tom. And bacon for Tord!”

“Ah, no thank you Edd. I am not hungry.”

“Turning down food? How uncharacteristic.” Tom glanced over as he said this, and Tord found himself worrying if he had noticeably lost weight.

“You have to eat something Tord, it says so on these.” Edd produced up a little orange bottle from the countertop and shook it some. The kitchen went silent.

His face darkened when he saw the bottle, eyes flicking between Edd’s hand and face. There’s more tense silence before he responded. “You went through my bag.” His words were glaciers, cold and undeniable, something none of the three had heard from Tord often.

Somehow, Edd stood his ground, though his foot tapped nervously. “Can you really blame me? You left for nearly a decade, then just show up with a duffel bag and some sense of what? A guilt complex?” All eyes were on the brunet as he set bottle on the counter with a finality. “Look. We grew up together, but I had to be sure that… I don’t know, Tord! You weren’t coming here for some sick sense of payback? I don’t know you anymore, you’re… You’re not the same person I grew up with, and I had to be sure I wasn’t putting anyone in danger with you staying here.”

He stood suddenly, startling them all, “I am not hungry.” He went to leave before Tom spoke up, voice hard but not scathing for once.

“Sit down commie, and eat.” This was the softest thing he'd heard come from the man he loved since he came back, and it immediately melted the chill some.

He stood there for a minute before silently sitting back down, staring at his clenched fists.  He almost wanted to snap back at the Brit and tell him to shove it, when Matt spoke up too.

“Can I have my meds too, Edd?” The brunet quirked an eyebrow as if this was an unusual question, but plucked several bottles from the cabinet next to the fridge.

“Uh, yeah, we should all probably… take ours.” Edd handed off two bottles to Matt, tossing another four to Tom, and unscrewed one of his own before handing Tord his three bottles.

“That is new…” Tord muttered

“That's what happens when you leave for a long time. Things change.” Tom replied and  chucked one of his bottles at Edd’s head, huffing. “I don’t take this until tonight, Egghead.”

“Maybe it changed Tom, ever thought about that?” He sniped at the black-eyed brit jokingly when he caught it, putting the bottle back where it came from. Matt laughed quietly and popped his three pills easily, swallowing them with some of Tom’s juice while he was distracted with flipping off Edd.

“These are just pain meds anyways Edd. I only need these sometimes.” He let out a breathy laugh, which was met with a stern mother-hen look.

“That was one of the shittiest lies I’ve ever heard, I can read labels Tord.” The Norsk looked down at the bottles again, silent. “It's fine. I’m used to Tom, and I swear he believes he's allergic to meds.

“Don’t compare me to him.” The response is immediate, black eyes settling a glare on Edd.

“Oh quit being dramatic Tom, we’re all friends here.” Edd was quick in diffusing the tension, lessening the drunk’s wrath.

Matt was the first one to get a plate of fluffy pancakes set in front of him, and he wasted no time digging in. The man had a more voracious appetite then Tord remembered. Lots of things had changed.  “Edd, can I have my syrup?” There’s a visible shudder from the brunet as he hands over a bottle of unlabeled strawberry syrup to the ginger.

Tom's blueberry pancakes were next, a huge stack. Tord wondered how his friend was churning these out, and why the others were eating triple what they used to. The sizzle of bacon began to fill the air as Edd began to fry up more food. He refilled Tord’s coffee and produced another can of cola to sip at while he scrambled eggs.

All of the food smells were making Tord's stomach growl, which he hoped nobody heard. His hope was in vain, because Matt looked up curiously. Seconds later he started lifting a forkful of pancake dripping in strawberry syrup for Tord. “Want to try? Edd makes the best pancakes!”

“Um I will have to pass.” Food sounded sickening to the him, especially the look of Matt’s soggy sweets.

Just as that thought came to mind, a hot plate of food was set in front of him, bacon, eggs and pancakes. “Edd, I said I was not hungry.” He laughed awkwardly to make it seem more relaxed than it came out.

The brunet settled his friend with a heavy stare, picking up one of the pieces of bacon and holding it in front of Tord’s face. “If you don’t shove this food that I worked really hard on in your mouth, I’m going to pour Matt’s syrup all over them and make you eat them.”

Tom winced with a small chuckle at the thought, Matt frowning around the food in his mouth and whining something unintelligible. “Oh, Tord, please don’t eat anything this will be great.” Thomas piped up, smiling for the first time since the Norsk had returned home.

“I- What is wrong with the syrup?” he queried with concern, glancing at Matt.

“Just eat your food Tord.” This time, he looked serious. Edd wasn’t usually scary, but when he put his foot down he wasn’t a good person to argue with.

“Edd, I-” he tried to think of a good excuse.

Tom put a hand on his wrist, making every cell in his body light up with panic. The smaller man’s eyes flashed to him and he froze. “Just eat the food, it's not gonna kill you.”

That frightened animal look was apparent on Tord's face, making Tom back off. “Tord, what's wrong?” Matt asked, giving him a worried look.

Calm down calm down calm down. “ Ah I- I was just startled some. It is okay.” He assured, hiding his shaking hands by putting them in his lap. One piece of bacon won’t hurt much.

“You’re an even easier scare than before.” Tom snorted, going back to his pile of food. “Just eat you fuckin commie.”

Edd’s gaze lingered on the Norsk, who gave him a stubborn look in return. They had a Mexican standoff of a stare down until finally Tord crossed his arms. “I hope you are a better cook than you used to be, because I feel like keeping my digestive system intact.” he reluctantly started to munch on some bacon, feeling uncomfortable with all the attention focused on him.

The brunet seemed to be somewhat satisfied at that point, and he fixed himself his own plate of food and began to dig in as well. Some part of Tord lingered on the fact that it almost felt like old times again, except instead of him digging into the food like he once would have, he was nibbling at bacon reluctantly. “So, Edd, I have to ask.” his mind was whirling, but he had to keep moving forward, he was trying to fix his relationships and do that stupid ‘healing’ thing that everyone wanted to harp him about. “Can I move back in?”

“No.” Tom’s answer was immediate, growling through food to deny the semblance of warmth he had earlier.

Edd thumped the taller man’s head head, “Let me think about it Tord.” The answer was a lot more calculating, less open than it used to be. Or he just doesn’t trust you. Who would trust a murderer.

He sighed, “Matt do you want the rest of mine? I’m full.” He’d eaten about 2 pieces of bacon and a few bites of eggs and he was feeling sick. All of Paul and Patryk’s work was going down the drain, meds and food and everything. Ha.

The ginger tilted his head in thought before reaching to take the plate. Edd batted his hand away though. “Finish your food Tord.” For such a teddy bear of a man, he could be very stern.

“Oh go fuck yourself Mom. I am okay.” he sat up in his chair and went to go clean the kitchen, and promptly ran into Edd’s arm.

He was pushed back into the chair somewhat roughly, receiving a deadly look, “If you want to stay here,then the first requirement is that you must eat three meals a day, now eat before I make you.”

Tord felt a sizzling anger rise in his chest, “Edd, you need to back off, I am perfectly capable of deciding when I need to eat.” He shoved the arm away from him.

“What’s wrong with you?” the Brit growled, snapping Tord’s attention to him. “You shouldn’t have come back if you’re just going to be an asshole.”

Tord was done with all this food talk, and Tom’s glare only made him bristle more. He didn’t bother to say anything else, pushing out of his chair and picking up Matt’s empty plate. Might as well help around while he was staying, or something.

---

There was an ever-growing list of ways Tord had changed, reasons to be suspicious, in Tom’s mind. This was one of the most mind-boggling changes though, the Norsk had never been one to back down from a fight. He would yell and hit and make a menace out of himself at any chance. Grunting noncommittally, he turned to his remaining food. He would have to deal with it later, this was still in Edd’s ballpark; this was clear by the fidgeting and unusually quiet breakfast.

Matt finally kissed him softly, headed to help clean up and leaving Tom and Edd alone. They were quiet for awhile before the former alcoholic finally sighed, “I don't trust him.”

“He's staying.” The response was snappish, Edd’s fist clenched tightly. “And we're fixing him.”

“He's up to something. Look at him, that's not our Tord.” He knew Edd could see it,  but what he didn’t understand was why he would let the commie stay.

“Tom have you even looked at him?” The brunet turned to look at him with almost sad eyes. “He’s lost so much weight and he talks different and he had anti-fucking-psychotics in his bag that he clearly doesn’t take. Something’s wrong with him, Tom, he’s not plotting anything. So don’t let your baggage cloud your judgement.” Edd was glowering at his friend at this point, still despite his obvious emotion.

Tom opened his mouth to argue, changing his mind quickly and sinking back in his chair. He was split between suspicion and knowing that Edd was right, to a point. “Fine, just don’t expect it to be just like old times.” and with that, Edd shoved out of his chair and took his plates, leaving Tom alone at the table.

He sat there for a moment before following, and after the alcoholic dumped his empty dishes in the sink he touched Matt’s arm, jerking his head to the side to indicate that they should talk somewhere else. The ginger looked back at Tord, who was cleaning plates with intense concentration, and followed Tom out of the kitchen with a worried look. “What is it?”

The brunette pulled them into his room, closing the door deliberately behind them and turned to face Matt “Can Tord room with you? I don't want him to sleep alone and- yeah.” He left it at that, hoping Matt would just pick up on his mood.

“Why, because you two went out?” The vampire snorted.

“What? No! He’s Tord!” He grimaced at the thought of him. “The point is he can’t sleep in my room again. I’m sure he’d rather room with you than with Edd, so you’re the best choice.”

A slight frown emerged, blue eyes narrowing the slightest bit. “Why do I have to share my bed with someone I don’t even know?”

“Because Edd and Tord have baggage and I might try to rip his commie head off.” He sighed and scrubbed at his face with his hands, peering at the ginger afterwards,  “Please Matt?”

Tom wasn’t usually one to ask nicely, and when he did he was rarely sincere. The knowledge of this prompted the freckled man to sigh and acquiesce. “Fine but if he complains about me being up all night he gets to sleep on the couch.”

Tom snickered, “We don’t have a couch anymore, doofus.” before grabbing his boyfriend’s face and kissing his nose. Matt wrinkled his face in mock disgust and pushed him away. “Your breath stinks.” he complained.

“Thanks babe.” Tom smiled, another rare thing for him to do, even though this one was more out of relief than happiness.

Chapter Text

 Living with Tord back in the house was… odd to say the least. The current setup was transitory for the most part, but after the first few days they had settled into some sort of routine.

    The day usually started with an argument between the newcomer and the head of the household about something or other. First it was food and pills but the battle was lost once it started, so then it moved to invasive questions and mother hen behavior that made Tord snap and retreat back into Matt’s room for a long while. Matt did his best to keep track of the norsk, who tended to sink into the background of the chaos of the house. It was hard, all of the time he had to watch Tord was time that Tom was hidden away, avoiding even looking at the Norsk.

    Tord had a tendency to change his demeanor at the snap of a finger, one moment laughing and chatting away, watching Insane Zombie Pirates from Hell with them all while bantering with the ginger and even sometimes Edd. Then a switch would flip and suddenly there was a scared animal, that is what Matt came to know as what Tord really was like. All the little mannerisms, the careful, small movements and the eyes that searched every room for some sign of danger, the things that made Edd frown and Tom scowl, those were Tord, and that was startlingly different from what things had used to be, apparently.

    It was just another long, long day for Matt, he wanted things to go back to normal, at this point. It seemed like every day there was more conflict sizzling in the air and leaving a bad taste in his mouth. He looked up from his phone at the empty living room. Tord must have gone to bed or passed out again- the Norsk’s sleeping patterns were odd in the way that he didn’t really sleep, and when he did it was in wild positions because he had passed out from sheer exhaustion.  He’d once been found slumped over a cup of coffee. Matt turned off the telly, curling up into a comfortable spot on the couch and texting Tom to come cuddle.

    The Brit wandered in a while after, taking his place draped across Matt’s lap and nuzzling into his stomach gently. “I've missed you.” The ginger sighed, idly petting at Tom's hair.

   He grunted softly in response, turning over so he could look up at his boyfriend. “I've been getting out of control around him. I'm sorry.”

   “Was it a bad breakup?” Matt reached back to rub the Brit’s neck, smiling at the contented rumble that followed. Sometimes Tom could be adorable in unexpected ways.

    “What do you mean?” He frowned, leaning back into the touch.

    “You can barely keep yourself from strangling him, Tom. Why?” He watched the Brit carefully.

    “I don’t trust him. Fucking commie is planning something and I can tell.” Tom replied in a low tone.

   “Tom, I think you should take it easy on him.” The Brit narrowed his eyes at the vampire, only for Matt to go on. “He has enough on his plate.”

    Tom opened his mouth to reply only for both of their attentions to be yanked away by the sound of ringtone that was- foreign music, not any of theirs. The Brit got up and stalked towards the sound, which was emanating the kitchen, his boyfriend close on his heels.  It took them a moment to locate the source of the annoying jingle. A small red phone was nestled between the cushions of one of the chairs. Tord’s, if Matt had to guess.

As if sensing his touch, the ringer abruptly shut off when he touched it. A look of confusion passed between the two for a split second, the curiosity only growing when words issued from the device.

“Boss,” a tinny voice spoke. “We need to talk about what’s going on at… home. It’s a code R39, urgent. Call me.”

     Tom glared at the offending device, grabbing it once it went silent. “Where is Tord?” He growled, turning to glare at Matt as if he were entirely responsible for the thing.

  “I- think he went to bed. Tom, wait.” He put a hand on his arm. “You need to calm down.”

   The Brit was already pulling away from his boyfriend. “He’s up to something and I know it. Stay out of it Matt I don’t want things to get messy.”

Matthew clamped his arm around the brunet’s wrist before the other could get far. “Things are going to get messy if you wake him up now, Tom, you know that,” he pleaded, unwilling to let a fight happen at two am.

“This is serious. Matt. He’s up to something and you and Edd could get hurt.” He tugged his arm, bristling with aggression that made the vampire shiver.

“No.” The word came out much more forceful than intended, causing his grip to gain strength as he dragged the angry man back to him. “You can’t just assume things like that Tom. Leave it alone. Please.”

He hesitated before pressing into Matt with a sigh. “What if he’s planning something dangerous? I can’t let you get hurt because of Tord.”

“You of all people should know that I can protect myself. I’m not sure I even can be hurt.” The ginger smiled hesitantly at the other man, despite his apparent comfort over his condition, it was still unnerving.

“Matt it’s not like that it’s- he acts different he acts colder… What if he would hurt you or Edd?” He pulled his boyfriend close to him possessively, lacing the fingers of his free hand through the ginger’s.

“Tom, I really don’t think he’s here to hurt us. He’s been through a lot in the past few years, I can tell. If he is the same guy that lived with us before then I think we owe him the benefit of the doubt.”

“Matt…” he trailed off, touching their foreheads together. “Okay but- there is still something off, you at least have to admit that.”

“Maybe there is, Tom. But I really doubt that he’d hurt any of us. You can ask him at breakfast if you want. Not before okay?”

“Do you want to sleep with me tonight? I miss you.” He was quick to change the subject, making little movements to get closer to Matt.

“Sure!” Matt chirped happily, mood brightening practically instantly. They hadn’t spent much time together in the last few weeks with first Tom being out of town and then Tord showing up on their doorstep.

Smiling, Tom planted a soft kiss on the ginger’s jawline. “Okay. Let’s get to bed. I’m tired as hell.”

Matt honestly didn’t mind spending the long nights with Tom. He preferred to spend them listening to the alcoholic breathe than spend them sitting alone at his desk. So he let the Brit tug him to his room and into bed. They settled down into the sheets, Tom complaining about the vampire’s cold skin as usual, even though he ended up tucked close to him anyways.

Nights like this always seemed to end too soon for the ginger, though the nights he spent alone were never over soon enough. As the light of day crept its way across the comforter slowly, the creature of the night’s heart filled with dismay. He dreaded the conflict that always seemed to be inevitable in the morning. So when Tom started to stir he kept still and perfectly quiet, attempting to prolong the peaceful quiet of the early light.

He could tell the second his lover came to full consciousness due to the low groan the lump of the person emitted. Of course he took full advantage of the situation, pinning the other’s arm down as he kissed him, immediately going for the tongue and nibbling on his lips as a ‘good morning’.

Tom hummed into the kiss, “Well good morning Matt.” The ginger could hear the smirk as he was tugged closer by a free hand.

“Hey! I was trapping you.” Matt whined, smiling into Tom’s lips and plopping down on the Brit.

“I’m trapping you, ” he corrected, draping an arm over the other’s waist to pull him closer as they kissed again.

“Babe, I’m hungry,” Matt breathed softly, the majority of his attention focused on his boyfriend’s heartbeat that pounded much too loudly in his ears. “I haven’t had anything fresh in a while,” he whined lowly, a hollow stomach encouraging his hesitance into eagerness.

Tom hummed, taking the moment to rub Matt’s sides carefully. “Well I think I could deal with having your mouth on my neck right now.”

“That was so not smooth Tom.” The vampire huffed, starting to kiss along the Brit’s jaw. After he was done there he nosed his way down into the hood that was bunched around his partner's neck. Matt looked up at Tom with a sweet smile, licking up to the skin under his ear and beginning to kiss there. He alternated between using his tongue and teeth there, gently teasing the brunette to irk him.

Tom growled softly, more playful than anything else, “Don’t be a tease.”

“Me? A tease? Never.” Matt said as he nipped harshly at the tendon that impressed itself into the skin of Tom’s neck, careful to not draw blood just yet. “Gentlemen don’t play with their food you know.”

“All you gentlemen do is play.” He snorted and tilted his head to show off his neck.

“Are you really complaining about this?” Matt kept this teeth poised hardly above the neck before him, close enough that each pulse sent the vulnerable skin straight into the needle points of his teeth.

“I don’t complain. I get what I want.” He suddenly tugged Matt to him. The vampire pushed back to stop his momentum, making it so that his fangs barely sunk into the soft skin. Tom hissed out a curse and instinctively relaxed, letting his lover take control. “Ookay-“

“You smell nice,” the ginger purred, lapping up the slowly pooling blood before fixing his lips to the area and beginning to feed. The other means he usually used to eat were never nearly as satisfying as fresh blood, still warm from the source.

Tom made a soft noise, tightening his hold on the ginger and encouraging him. Matt ran his hands up and down the brunet’s sides, closing his eyes and enjoying the taste and sounds and smells.

When he felt that he’d taken enough, he pulled the last morsels from the wounds before licking over them carefully, both revelling in and hating the sensation of them closing at his command. He pulled away to look at the other’s dazed expression and licked the last of the blood from his lips, giving him a razor sharp smile. “Thank you love. That was delicious.”

Tom leaned in for a kiss, “That shouldn’t be nearly as hot as it is.” They rested like that for a bit, trading little gestures and touches. “Ready to get up? I’m starving.” He finally sighed, reaching for his phone to check the time.

Matt groaned and rolled off of him, making noises of complaint the whole way to the floor. He offered a hand to the man still in bed, even though he predictably pushed it away and stood on his own, albeit a bit wobbly. “Stubborn as always,” The ginger remarked.

“You know it, babe.” Tom leaned over to place a kiss on Matt’s cheek. “It’s your turn to make breakfast this morning so we’d better get out there before there’s a riot.”

“Don’t remind me,” he griped, interlacing their fingers as they left the room. In the living room, Edd and Tord seemed to be watching something on the television, seated close to one another. Surprisingly close.

Upon closer inspection, he saw that Tord looked… very rumpled. His eyes were puffy and unfocused, and Edd had a blank look on his face that bespoke of bad things. “Morning Edd…” Matt said in a borderline questioning tone, edging away from Tom in shame.

“Tom! I didn’t know you had a secret stash of Smirnoff.” Edd chirped in that oh-you-are-so-fucking-busted voice.

Tom glared at the offending snitch as if he were dirt beneath his shoe. “He wasn’t supposed to know either.” His repressed anger snapped to the forefront of his mind. “What’s it to you anyways? I can take care of myself Edd.”

“Well I am not too worried about it now since Tord here somehow drank himself sick and halfway dead last night. And I wish I was exaggerating.” The brunet said in a matter-of-fact tone. Matt’s eyes flicked to the Norsk and- how the hell did such a tiny guy drink so much and not die.

Tord seemed to shrink into himself under the intense gaze, while Tom took up more space as he puffed his chest out in anger. “You shouldn’t have let him come back Edd and you know it. This is just the beginning,” he pointed an accusing finger at the green eyed man. “Go on and tell him about your freaky broadcast you got last night. Tell him! Tell us what you’re planning!”

Tord’s eyes finally focused on something, Tom getting increasingly angry, and he somehow shrunk further into himself. The ginger saw that scared animal look again and gently placed his hand on the Brit’s. “Tom, you need to calm down.”

“Like hell I’ll calm down!” he shouted, jerking his hand away. He advanced a step before Matt pulled him back, afraid of what he would do to the thoroughly frightened man on the couch.

“What’s gotten into you Tom?” Edd snapped, standing up and meeting the angry man. “It’s Tord! He’s not planning anything he’s just like you were when you got depressed! This isn’t him being shifty or suspicious this is a serious issue!” His finger was pressed up against Tom’s sternum at this point and the air between the two was sizzling with tension.

Matt stepped away and flashed a look to the norsk, who looked scared out of his mind and about ready to cry. This was getting way out of hand. “Guys, I think we need to calm down-“

“I am going to be sick.” Tord muttered as he scrambled over the side of the couch and made a very messy beeline to the bathroom right in the middle of everything. The fighting pair had half a mind to watch him go and Matt follow.

The small man was dry heaving into the toilet when the vampire went in after him. His small frame was shaking like a leaf and he was paler than paper. When he stopped the question of, “Can I touch you?” left the freckled man’s mouth.

Matt could tell that Tord nodded through the shaking and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, and he rubbed it over the area in slow, tight circles, making quiet humming noises as he listened to the argument in the livingroom die off and two distinct sets of footsteps came to the door. The ginger gave them a scolding look before turning back to the small man and carefully brushing the hair from his face. “Are you okay?”

Tord nodded again, obviously lying. He still looked sick and weak, and it was to the point that it made the vampire’s chest ache. He wasn’t doing so well, and it was plain for them all to see. “I am okay Mattie. My fault for drinking so much.” God, his voice sounded hoarse.

“We should get some food in you, it’s not good to have that much alcohol in your system without any.” Matt was looking him up and down, reluctantly sniffing softly at the hint of blood that hung around the Norsk. What had happened?

The second Tord noticed him sniffing, his heartbeat picked up just a beat, so the vampire dropped it, glancing at the pair in the doorway. “Will you two bring him some toast or something? And some water?” They seemed to shuffle around awkwardly before leaving to do what Matt asked and soon the vampire and the norsk were alone. “Tord, are you really okay?”

“I said I am fine,” it should have come out snappish, but Matt guessed the small man didn’t even have it left in him to be angry.

“Tord, whats-“

He was interrupted by Tom coming in and abruptly shoving a glass in the ginger’s face. “Here.”

“Um,” he took the glass. “Thanks love.”

The Brit was quick to retreat from the bathroom, flashing an indecipherable look at Tord before he left. Matt quietly handed the water over, watching the smaller man carefully as he drank most of it and set it aside. Finally, the Norsk leaned back onto his feet, violently scrubbing at his face with the heels of his palms. “I need- two liters of coffee in me. Right now.” His voice sounded less pitiful at this point, but there was still no strength in what he said.

“How about breakfast and maybe a nap? It looks like you haven’t been sleeping well,” he suggested, trying to discern if he’d even slept at all.

“Nap, maybe. I am not going to keep anything I eat down.” He suddenly shoved himself up, wobbling visibly. “I am cold.” Matt stared after the norsk as he walked back to his spot on the couch and tugged a blanket over him. It was confusing for the ginger, since the house was 22 degrees and honestly a little hot.

He shrugged, brushing it off as one of the man’s eccentricities, not to worry about it until he had more time to ponder it later. He entered the kitchen to a tense but quiet argument, hushed voices declaring their disagreement. He ignored them both, rifling around in the cupboard until his fingers grazed upon a box of crackers. A tug pulled it free and he returned to the couch with it, taking out a sleeve and offering it to the shivering man beside him. Tord shook his head, idly reaching for the remote. Matt frowned at how his fingers seemed to vibrate.

Edd came in with a piece of peanut butter toast, holding it out to Tord with a soft look. “I put honey on it. I hope you still like it like that.”

“I am not hungry.” The norsk grumbled, pulling the blanket up around his neck and turning on a rerun of some stupid sitcom.

Matt took the plate, holding it in case Tord actually wanted it. “You really need to eat.” Edd frowned at the norsk. “You didn’t eat anything yesterday and you barely ate dinner the night before.”

The worry was apparent to anyone who had the mind to listen for it. “He’s got a point you know,” the blue eyed man glanced around, noting Tom’s conspicuous absence as he spoke.

“I ate some canned corn last night so I am okay.” Matt was tempted to reach out and feel his temperature. Maybe the diminutive man was sick or something. It was extremely likely, considering that he never took care of himself.

Edd cleared his throat. “There’s the same number of cans this morning as there was yesterday morning Tord. Don’t lie to me.” Matt made a confused face at the brunet, not knowing if he was serious.

“How observant of you, Edward.” There was the dripping venom, the thing that always was on Tord’s tongue right before a fight broke out. The vampire winced and inched away.

“Dammit Tord! You can’t come back here and try to kill yourself you know!” Edd exploded, barely taking himself down a notch before continuing. “If you want to stay here this you’ll answer to me. I don’t want to but if you keep doing this…” He let the threat hang in the air, unable to find something to say fast enough to suit his needs.

“It is not like I chose to be here. I would much rather be fucking dying in peace but no. I have to sit here and be a burden to everybody.” Matts eyes widened and he stared at the huddled up little norsk.

“Tord-“ the ginger couldn’t find anything to say, mind grasping uselessly for words that weren’t there.

“If you didn’t want to come here then why’d you come back?” Edd’s voice was much to quiet. He should have been yelling, but instead he whispered, and it was somehow more terrifying than when he had been yelling earlier. “Don’t bullshit me and say that you missed us, because if that were true you would have come back years ago.”

“I have missed you. I just was-“ he hid his face, suddenly seeming like a little kid. “I do not want to talk about it.”

“I’m not screwing around Tord. Why did you come back?” Matt saw that Edd was starting to lose his temper.

“I said I did not want to talk about it.” Tord said in a small voice that made the ginger want to pull him into his lap and comfort the norsk.

Edd was clenching and unclenching his fists, obviously trying to cool down but still boiling over. “You come back here. You treat yourself like shit and then get mad at us for trying to keep you healthy. And you don’t want to talk about it?”

“Yes.” The small man whispered.

“I’m not accepting that as an answer.” Edd stepped forward and grabbed Tord around his upper arms a little too roughly and sat him upright. “What the fuck is going on with you Tord? You can’t even look me in the eye half the time.”

Matt all but jumped away, sitting at the other end of the couch now and oh god Tord was shaking. “Edd I think-“

The norsks voice cracked as he spoke. “Please let me go please.” The words sounded foreign coming from Tord, weak and pitiful and pleading. His face was screwed up in a mask of terror, an expression that was much too extreme for the situation.  

“Tord i need you to fucking talk to me for once because I don’t know what to think!” Edd sounded one part angry and one part- scared, which only made the situation more twisted as the norsk started to struggle in the brunet’s grip.

Finally, Matt spoke up. “Edd, back off now. Look at him.” He stood and firmly pushed the man back, getting between him and Tord. “You need to calm down.”

“Matt what the hell?” He refused to budge, looking the vampire straight in the eye.

“I need you to take a moment. And back off of Tord. You’re scaring him.” Matt answered, his voice low in his throat. He wedged himself between the two, more forcefully this time, and turned around to kneel in front of the clearly distressed Norsk. Tord was wheezing shallow, quick breaths and his eyes were glassy. The sight was chilling for the ginger.

Carefully, he grabbed the blanket from before and draped it over the small man, who clutched it to himself. Matt smelt the now more distinct tang of blood and frowned, but didn’t ask, afraid to push Tord closer to a breakdown.

Edd threw his hands up in the air. “Are you really taking his side right now Matt? I’m just trying to help him because I care. You hear that, Tord? I still care about you, even after all of this shit. I want you to talk to me. That’s all.” Some of the man’s anger had dissipated, but he was still plenty pissed enough to scare the trembling man more.

“Edd. Excuse me but will you shut the fuck up?” Matt turned and hissed out at the brunet. He got a stunned silence in return that satisfied him, so he turned back to the norsk and started to soothe him. “Tord. Hey Tord can you focus on me?”

A head shake was all he got in response, but it was better than nothing. “Can I touch you?” Another nonverbal ‘no’ followed. Matt felt a cold stone form in his chest as he watched the smaller man’s shoulders shake. “Do you want us to leave you alone?” The tiniest nod gave him the incentive to get up and grab Edd’s wrist, dragging him away harshly.

They stopped in the kitchen, just out of eyeshot of the couch.”Matt…” the brunet was still visibly pissed, but at least he had taken the volume down.

“What, Edd?” the vampire said in an exasperated tone, peeking around the corner to check on Tord, who was huddled back up on the couch and still shaking.

“I’m sorry… I just- it scares me. This is Tord we’re talking about here. He turned down fucking spaghetti night. He loves spaghetti enough to kill somebody for it.” he looked like he needed a drink. There was a long pause where Edd just rubbed at his face and calmed himself down. “Matt he’s- different and- fuck this is hard to watch.”

“We can’t help him if he doesn’t want to be helped,” the freckled man reminded him.

“I’m not going to accept that.” Edd replied, face hardening. “I don’t care if I have to force food and pills and everything down his throat I- I can’t let him do this to himself.”

Matt sat in thought for awhile, “He said it wasn’t his choice to come here- maybe somebody…” he didn't really know what to think about that. “There’s no way that he’s going to let you force him into things, as different as he is he’s still a stubborn jackass.”

“He was my best friend once; I can get him to do anything.” There was a determined set in Edd’s features.

“Once,” the other agreed wistfully. It had been simpler times, from what he remembered. Most of his mortal life was a bit blurred and hazy, leading to some confusion on what had happened when. Luckily he was beginning to pick up on memories of Tord.

“How’s he doing?” Edd asked finally, leaning against the counter.

The vampire leaned over to look at the couch to see that Tord appeared to be asleep. “You scared him. Bad.” Matt sighed.

“I- I know…” he closed his eyes. “He really is different; I mean, it used to be fun to fight with him in a way. Now he’s so scared all the time and I don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t know either…” He trailed off, trying to think of the best way to approach the problem. “You need to apologize to him if we’re going to get anywhere.”

Edd snorted softly, “Do you really think an apology is going to make this any better?” he looked oddly annoyed. “Tord doesn’t listen to soft feelings shit. He fights and argues and-” he stopped, pulling his hair out of his face and scrubbing his fingers through it. “It’s not right for him to be scared, it’s not Tord.”

“It’s not the same Tord you used to know. He’s different.” Matt explained softly. He was really thanking himself for his nursing skills after all of this.

“I still don’t know why he came here just to- do this.”  

“An apology can’t hurt anything Edd. You know that. If he gets angry about it then you can pretend it's the same old Tord. If not, he might trust you more.” He leaned against the counter.

“So you want me to apologize to him for caring about him?”

“Edward I swear to fuck if you don’t drop your asshole act right now I’ll suck you dry. You’re not above apologizing to him. It’s not going to hurt you to say you’re sorry.” The thin veil of patience the pale man had been wearing evaporated as his anger got the best of him.

“It’s not like that Matt, He doesn’t work like that.” he growled, straightening and letting out a puff of air. “I’ll do it, just don’t think this is gonna fix anything.”

He wasn't calming down anytime soon, that was obvious. Matt was still in disbelief that the brunet had lost his temper in the first place. The brown eyed man all but stormed out, leaving the ginger to peer out out at the couch to see Edd rubbing his temples. The sofa was absent of any small norwegians, and Edd was clearly annoyed. “Great I scared him off.”

“Whenever he comes back around you still have to apologize. Don’t think you’re getting out of this that easy. He must need some time.”

“If you say so Matt. Do you want to make breakfast? I’m going to shower and cool off.”

The vampire nodded, watching his friend go and then turning to the kitchen. He couldn’t help but feel like this was just the beginning.

Chapter Text

Edd didn’t see Tord for the rest of that day. Whenever he asked Matt, the ginger would say that he was safe and being taken care of, but it wasn’t satisfying for the brunette. He occasionally lingered outside Matt’s room, listening for any hints, but there was little to hear. Any other time was spent listlessly trying to work and then getting distracted by worrying about Tord. Eventually, he resigned himself to plop on the couch and watch mindless television.  Tom joined him for awhile before he invited Matt out shopping.

It was about five in the afternoon when he finally shoved himself out of his dent in the couch. He tried to plan what to say as he walked the short distance and knocked on the door of the room where Tord was holed up. “Go away.” Was the only response he got.

Inhaling deeply, the brunet pressed his friend. “Tord, I need to talk to you. I want to apologize for losing my temper.” And ask you what happened.

“It is fine.” For somebody that obviously didn’t want any company, Tord didn’t seem very assertive.

Edd ran his hands through his hair. “What if I brought you a cup of coffee?” It was quite the limb to go out on, but the norsk seemed to love the disgusting stuff.

A soft silence drew out for awhile, finally ending when Tord agreed to the truce. Soon enough, Edd was sitting at the end of the bed while Tord sipped at his mug. “You do not need to apologize, Edd. I know what happens when I push you too far.” He said, drink seeming to warm him.

The bigger man looked at the stack of supplies on the nightstand. An untouched water bottle and a few pills stood out amongst food items. “No. I don’t have any excuse for being a dick. I’m not a kid anymore.” He sighed, dancing around the fact that he’d thrown his friend into a panic.

Another long pause drifted in the air as they sat. “You have changed a lot. I guess I should not be surprised but- here I am.” There was a small bit of humor in Tord’s tone.

Despite himself, Edd smiled, “I could say the same about you. You’ve really chilled out…” that wasn’t the best way to describe it, but he wanted to keep the conversation light for once.

“Do you not get tired of Matthew and Thomas now? They are disgusting sometimes.” He smiled, looking at his once best friend.

“Nah, I like the atmosphere around here. And I always have drawing to come back to.” The brunet shrugged, leaning back on the bed to relax. This wasn’t as bad as he’d thought. “I think it would’ve been better with you here though.”

He saw his friend’s eyes flick away. “I- I am sorry I was gone for so long Edd. There were things that happened and-“ a shuddering breath left the smaller man. “Life, i guess.”

As if that was an adequate answer. Edd rolled his eyes and turned to face his friend. “Really?”

Tord didn’t look him in the eyes, instead staring into the depths of his mug. “I do not want to talk about it.”

“Fine. Can we talk about how we’re going to do this then?” The brunet sighed, looking away again.

“Do what?” He asked softly.

“This. Live together again. Things are obviously different now we have to figure out how to…. how to get you back up on your feet.”

Tord had two modes, stoic or an open book. Right now, the sadness and hope and all the other feelings he had played across his face and flickered in his eyes. Edd could read him easily. “I know you have a lot of… needs that you don’t want to take care of. And I get it- fuck most of us have gone through that stage…. but we’re here for you. We want you to get better.”

He rubbed the material of the blankets between his fingers, letting Tord process what he’d said. “It’s honestly terrifying to see these things happen. Not knowing makes it worse. I don’t know how to explain how worried I was when I found your pills, or when I couldn’t get you eat fucking spaghetti.” He wheezed a little in emphasis and continued. “You don’t… have to tell me about everything, but I want to know how to help at least. Tell me what makes you uncomfortable, talk to me about your food thing. Anything, really.”

“Edd…”

“We were best friends once, Tord. It can be that way again if you just open up a little.”

The Norsk swallowed audibly, hands a little unsteady as he thought through what Edd was saying. After awhile, the brunet finally met Tords green eyes and saw the swirling doubt in them. “I have missed you, so much” was the first thing the norsk said.

A shallow breath left Tord. “I am sorry about- all of this. I honestly did not intend to come back but my… friends thought I could not handle the stress at our work.”

Edd nodded, scooting closer to his friend. “Do you want to be here?”

The response was immediate. “Yes. I do. There is just so much.”

“I can help you cope Tord. We’ve always helped each other. Remember? You used to make me shitty ramen when I wouldn’t leave my room. And we used to sit in the locker rooms together after you got in trouble and couldn’t stand being outside.” He closed his eyes in memory, reaching to put his hand on Tord’s leg.

The man twitched slightly, but otherwise didn’t object. “Edd this is different .” He whispered softly, curling around his mug and getting glassy eyed again.

Immediately, he worked to correct his meaning. “I just want to help- you don’t have to tell me everything yet. All I need is to know how to make this better for you.” Maybe Matt was rubbing off on him, he thought as he rubbed his thumb along Tord’s leg.

The Norsk looked like he was thinking of retreating, his fingers trailing on the lip of the mug for awhile before he sighed. “What do you want to know?”

Edd smiled softly and caught Tord’s eye. “How about you start with the meds. Those were some serious drugs you were toting around.” he tried to keep the tone lighthearted to avoid making the smaller man feel like he was being interrogated.

“I guess you know what they are… I am bipolar.” he let out another deep breath, closing his eyes. “And I am psychotic, but we all knew that.”

“What do you mean psychotic, Tord?” the brunet pressed softly,

Tord inhaled sharply, “Hallucinations, panic attacks… the general things you assume when you hear someone is psychotic.”

Touchy subject, then. He moved onto another point. “What about not eating?”

That was another thing that Tord didn't want to talk about. The bigger man nudged indiscernibly closer, feeling that familiar worry build in his chest. Finally, the Norsk softly said, “I just do not… I do not like to eat.”

Edd swallowed down the worry that spiked, “Tord I hope you know that’s a pretty scary thing to say and leave like that.” It was fairly unsettling how delicate his friend was.

A deadpan gaze was the response Edd was given. The commie gathered some blankets to his chest, curling into himself. “Anything else?”

Edd sighed softly, taking his hand away, “You’ve changed so much Tord- I want you to talk to me. It’s not exactly hard to tell that something bad happened to you, and it clearly has affected you.” his voice was less warm, but not without empathy.

Tord’s gaze flicked down, back to the coffee. The brunet almost thought he saw the mug start to shake as the norsk said quietly, “Please, Edd.”

He watched his friend carefully, hating how vulnerable he seemed. Tord curled up tighter, fixing his blankets so they covered more of him. After some time of awkward silence, Edd finally gave up, standing and turning to look at the smaller man. “This isn’t over, Tord. I’m gonna go start dinner now.”

He wasn’t graced with any sort of response, so he walked out of the room, closing the door a little too forcefully. Tord was stubborn still, and it infuriated Edd. The brunet scrubbed at his face with his palms and resisted the urge to yell. Even if Tord still was as annoying as eight years ago, he was also much more delicate. Seeing someone so strong like that… it was scary. Finally, he left Matt’s room behind, his worry hardening into determination.

Chapter Text

Matt came back late to the smell of tacos and a very quiet Edd. He quietly slipped through the house to his room, peeking in to see Tord sound asleep. After a quick change into pajamas, he nudged the norsk awake and went out to eat. His plate was waiting on the counter for him to grab and take to the couch. He settled next to Edd, who was already there, with a huff of breath. “How was today?”

The brunet looked at Matt wearily, “I don’t know what to do, Matt. He’s so-”. He dug the heels of his palms into his eyes.

Frowning, the vampire turned to face him all the way, “Did you try to talk to him? How did it go? Is he okay?”

“Yes, I tried to go talk to him and it was shit. He barely even acknowledged me- not to mention he only vaguely answered my questions.” he gestured wildly, getting his point across aggressively. “He’s so fragile and I might hurt him but I need to know these things.”

Matt sat back, munching his taco thoughtfully, “Did you get anything out of him?”

The other man sat in thought for a moment before slowly nodding, “I think he has an eating disorder of some sort. I mean it was obvious but the way he acted… I can’t think of anything else to explain it.” he slumped into himself. “Not to mention his bipolar got worse, and he said something about hallucinations…” Edd looked over to his friend with pleading eyes.

“I don’t know what to do.”

Matt looked down at his taco, sighing, “I don’t know either, but… I think we can get through this.”

With that, the conversation ended, and Edd reached for the tv remote to turn on some superhero movie. Matt sunk into the couch and settled in, mowing his way through the food until the world turned dark. Eventually, Tom emerged from the depths of his room, grumbling about a late night shift and already gulping at a familiar flask. Nobody mentioned it, instead opting to settle into their old ways from before Tord came back.

Tom finally stopped to eat his own tacos, sitting down between the two friends with a sigh. “How was work?”

“Same as usual. Sometime soon I have to draft an animation for a commercial.” he took a long drink from his cola. “Can you get me a new can when you get up?”

The brit made a face, “Why don’t you get your own?”

“Because you haven’t done chores today.”

With a loud groan, Tom pushed off the couch and grabbed the empty can. “Fuck you, Edd.”

“Okay Tom, and clean up the kitchen while you’re at it. Oh! And bring the rest to Tord, he’s been hiding all day like you in Matt’s room.” Edd smiled back at his friend, and Matt snorted softly. This was better.

 

Tom stared at the door to Matt’s room, a plate held tightly in his hand. He didn’t want to go in. He didn’t want to see the commie’s stupid smug face and remember how he woke up alone.

Sighing, he knocked. A grunt sounded from behind the door and the brit curled his lip. “What is it?” he heard a sleep-slurred voice ask.

“I have your dinner Tord, Edd told me not to leave until you eat at least one taco and take your meds.” he drawled, tapping his foot in barely contained impatience.

To his surprise, the door opened to reveal a very rumpled norsk who peered up at Tom, “How about skip the meds and we have a deal?” His voice was hoarse and his eyes were slightly puffy, but the taller man didn’t bother to mention it.

“We’ll see about that.” he pushed into the room and went to sit on the bed, Tord following after as he held out the plate of tacos. “Have you eaten today?”

The norsk didn’t answer, instead taking the plate and looking at it in distaste. “I do not see you often around here, Thomas.”

Tom scowled, looking over how the smaller man hunched into himself and always kept his limbs tucked in, like he was trying to become even tinier. “I work two jobs now, I’m a busy bloke.”

Nodding, Tord picked up a taco. “Things have changed quite a bit… I mean look at you.”

His scowl deepened and he unconsciously sat up straighter so his stomach stuck out less. “Coming from you?

An empty laugh filled the air as Tord looked back up at Tom, giving the brit a full view of sunken cheeks and blank eyes. Some part of him wanted to hold the norsk close and make him better but another, louder part merely said that he deserved whatever he got. The norsk had one corner of his mouth quirked up as he responded, “I think I have a good excuse though.”

“Just shut up and eat your taco, I have work soon.”

“Is money really that tight around here? We never used to work when I lived here.”

“We got in some trouble a few times, Edd is paying reparations on getting half the neighborhood destroyed.”

“Do I want to know?”

Tom shook his head with a sigh, “Like you said, a lot of things have changed.”

The norsk hummed noncommittally, “Do I really have to eat this? I am not hungry.”

“That’s rubbish Tord, eat the fucking taco.”

He dropped his head to look at the offending food, making a pitiful noise and Tom instantly felt contrasting satisfaction and guilt. Tord really was different now. The brit frowned and put his hand on his once-friend’s thigh. “What’s gotten into you commie?”

Tord stiffened under the touch and bowed his head down even more, “It has… been a long few years, Thomas.”

“It has. So, what have you been up to to have all this happen?”

“I-I do not know what you mea-”

“You know exactly what I mean. You’re thin as a piece of paper and you won’t eat. You get panic attacks the minute someone raises your voice and you have mood swings worse than normal. And that’s saying something.” Tom’s voice was cold, betraying the anger that roiled in his gut.

Tord shook slightly under his hand, body tensed and ready for action. “Tom I can’t.”

He grunted, standing up suddenly. “Can’t what? Can’t be a good friend? Can’t give me an explanation why you fucking left like that? Can’t own up to the fact that you’re plotting something and going to fuck us all over like you always do? What can’t you do you fucking commie?.”

Tord’s head jerked up and Tom could see that his eyes were glazed with unshed tears.”I am sorry.” his voice shook along with his body, emotions obviously overwhelming him.

The brit glared down at the norsk, taking in the sad sight before finally turning on his heel and slamming the door. He stormed past Edd and Matt, yanking his keys off the rack. “Tom? What’s going on?” he heard the brunet ask, almost shrill.

“Nothing, Edd. I’m going to work.” he was quick to get out, slamming the door shut behind him and speeding away.

Chapter Text

Tord stared at the door for a few moments, feeling any hope in his chest die along with Tom’s presence. He set aside the plate and slowly crawled back into his makeshift nest of blankets, resisting the tears that insisted on coming. Maybe it was too unrealistic to expect Tom to talk to him, let alone forgive him or take him back. He buried his face into the blankets, silently wishing for them to suffocate him.

The door creaked open softly and he heard someone walk up to the bed. It dipped next to his feet, followed soon by a- “Are you okay?”. Matt.

He sighed, poking his head out of the blankets and looking at the ginger. “I am fine Matthew, just tired.”

His friend frowned and set his hand on Tord’s form, “It doesn’t seem like that. Did Tom snap at you again?”

The norsk stared blankly into those blue eyes for a few moments before slowly nodding.

“I’m sorry about that. He has quite the temper nowadays.”

Nodding again, he gathered the blankets around himself and slowly sat up, “Does he really hate me?”

Matt looked hesitant, his eyes darting to the side, “I can’t really tell… my memory is still shotty and that’s... The one thing he won’t talk to me about.”

Tord pressed his lips together, scooting closer to the vampire silently.

“He usually tells me everything, I mean, sometimes he still has his secrets but he and I are close and this just-” he shook his head and looked to the norsk again. “I’m sorry.”

“It is okay. I know it is hard to feel like the person you love is hiding things from you.” he said solemnly, taking a moment to test the waters before finally pressing into Matt’s side. It still hurt to think that the ginger hardly remembered him, but it was nice to be close to him like he used to. “You sound like you need a break, just some time to relax.”

Matt furrowed his brows, thinking for a moment before agreeing in silence. “It has just been hard around here since…”

“Since I came back. I know.” he sighed before jerking his mood back up, “Do you still do your beauty stuff when you are stressed?”

“How did you- oh, yeah. I do.” The ginger said sheepishly.

Tord gave a small smile, “How about we do that? You used to love to do that to me, since you could not get Edd or Thomas to.” there was a touch of humor in his voice that was already lifting Matt’s spirits.

“Yeah! That sounds good Tord.” the ginger’s eyes brightened and he got up off the bed. “Come on, I have my stuff in the bathroom.”

The norsk dutifully followed, shucking off his protective shell of blankets and leaving the food untouched. Matt peeked out the door before taking Tord’s hand and leading him to the bathroom just a little ways away. They slipped in without ceremony and immediately the taller man started pulling bags out from underneath the sink. “It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to do this with work and all. Tom sometimes let me do it now but he gets this grumpy look on his face when I do anything besides something we would wear in high school.” he rolled his eyes and opened up a bag to reveal an array of nail tools. “Sit there, I’m about to work my magic!”

Tord couldn’t help but grin a little as he sat on the lid of the toilet and Matt set a half filled bucket of soaking water for his hands on his lap. It had been a little over eight years since the last time the ginger had given him one of the notorious makeovers, it was hard to not be giddy about finally getting to be close. “Let us see if you have improved over all these years.”

Matt was quick to wash the norsk’s face, pushing his hair back with a headband. “I sure hope so, I need it with your face.” the ginger snarked, moving to take one of Tord’s hands. “And your hands! It feels like you were doing manual labor for a century!”

Tord wrinkled his nose, “You could say that.” he watched with idle curiosity while Matt began to rub some expensive looking lotion into his skin.

“I’m in the nursing program now, you know.”     

“Really? I thought you were dead set on becoming a cosmetologist.”

The ginger shook his head, focusing on the meat of Tord’s palm, “When the… vampire incident happened a lot of things changed for me. I found a friend who was a doctor that helped people like me. The rest just- followed. Yeah?” he seemed too solemn for a moment, but then he was back up again.

“Do you mind me asking how you got changed?” the norsk asked softly, watching as Matt’s nimble fingers worked the muscles of his palm.

“Just poking my nose where it didn’t belong. You know.” he shrugged and took Tord’s other hand, “What about you? I hardly remember why you left, and you keep being so mysterious about things.”

A small pair of nail clippers was produced and the blue eyed man began to work away at the misshapen forms presented to him while Tord looked away. “I left to explore my career as an inventor more. It went fairly well I would say, but it took a lot to get where I have my company now.”

“You have an entire company? Wow.” Matt said in wonder, squinting in focus at his job. “What’s it called.”

“Uh… Red… tronics.”

The ginger laughed. “Catchy, at least.”

Tord snorted, raising an eyebrow as Matt fetched a bottle of purple nail polish. “Yes, It took a lot of blood sweat and tears, but we are finally starting to do well.”

“What kind of things do you make?” Matt peered up at him with his blue eyes and Tord scrambled to think.

“I make- um- robots!”

“Robots?” he tilted his head.

“Ah, yes, robots. For manufacturing and things. The profits go to my fun projects, yes?”

“Oh you mean like the arms that make computers? That’s cool, Tord!”

The ginger’s excitement was so genuine, even borderline annoying, that it bled over to the norsk. He smiled and waved a painted hand. “I think so as well, it is nice that things are finally going well.”

Nodding, Matt finished the last of the paint and sat back on his heels. “So… I have a question.”

The energy in the room seemed to shift slightly, throwing Tord off. “What is it?”

“Did you and Tom have a bad breakup?”

He stiffened, avoiding the vampire’s gaze. “Why do you ask?” his voice was low, betraying the discomfort he felt.

Matt got up and sat on the side of the bathtub, trying to catch Tord’s eye again, “He can’t even look you in the eye, and he gets so angry… There has to be a reason for all of this.”

Sighing, he steeled himself to meet his friend’s gaze. “Thomas and I… never got along well, you know.” Matt thought for a moment and slowly nodded, so Tord continued, “We were not so much lovers as- well you can assume.”

He felt a twinge of pain in his chest as the ginger’s expression shifted to something sadder, hesitant to keep going. “I was cruel to him, Matthew. We were becoming something more and I left and he has every right to be mad at me.” he said in a rush, looking down at his hands.

A long silence stretched between them, allowing the guilt to fully settle into Tord’s bones and weigh him down. It seemed like they would just stay like this, quiet and accusing. Finally, he felt a hand rest on his thigh, and a soft voice cut through the air, “You hurt him, but there is something wrong with his actions, Tord. Tom should know better than to let his anger get the best of him. And now is not the time for him to take things out on you.” his hand then moved to take the norsk’s. “You’re going through a lot right now, you don’t deserve all this anger.”

Tord took a shaky breath, squeezing Matt’s hand to feel it move with him. He didn’t have anything to say, there were too many things going through his head and confusing him. The ginger squeezed his hand back and pulled back, checking his phone. “It’s late, do you want to go to bed?”

Shaking his head, the norsk stood awkwardly, finally looking back at Matt, who seemed too solemn to really be Matt. The ginger thought for a moment before asking, “Would you sleep if we slept together? In my bed?”

Tord was slightly taken aback, looking for sincerity in those blue eyes, “It is alright, you do not have to…” You’ll scare him off. Hurt him like you did Paul.

Scoffing, Matt took the norsk’s arm gently, “I like having a cuddle buddy anyways.”

The smaller man wasn’t allowed to object. They left behind the halfway-cleaned mess in the bathroom and went to Tord’s makeshift blanket nest. Matt was eager to hop onto the mattress and smile, “You look tired.”

“I am not tired.” he retorted, climbing on next to the ginger.

“No matter. You never seem to sleep anyways so now is your time to catch up.”

The norsk laid down, tucking himself into the sheets a few inches away from his companion, who seemed disappointed. Tord made a face of confusion just before he was wrapped up in the steady embrace of the vampire. He stifled a noise, looking up at Matt, You don’t deserve this. You need hurt and hate and the barrel of a gun to your skull, who smiled and settled close. “Rest, Tord.”

Reluctantly, the norsk nodded and got comfortable, feeling the inevitable fatigue hit him like a truck. Matt’s cold yet soothing presence was the ultimate sedative, lulling him into the first deep sleep that Tord had in awhile.

Chapter Text

He didn’t know how long it had been since he’d been caught, or since he’d eaten, one since the door opened. He pressed himself into the corner of the cell, shackles dangling loosely from his wrists. It couldn’t have been that long, maybe a month. He wasn’t completely emaciated, though his muscles were starting to deteriorate. His train of thought slipped to the gnawing hunger. Maybe he was going to die soon. 

There was a loud bang as the door suddenly flew open. He curled tighter into himself, hiding his face with his body as the distinctive footsteps of his captor drew closer. “Sit up and look at me bitch.” He growled out in Russian, kicking the prone form on the floor. 

Tord wheezed, his chest rattling, and hesitantly pushed himself up so he could face the older man with dim eyes. “I do so much for this fucking division and this is the thanks I get.” His words bounced off of the dazed tord, leaving him confused until he was suddenly seized by his overgrown hair and thrown. 

The shackles halted his momentum before he met the wall, making him cry out pitifully even as the scabs on his wrists were reopened. Tord vaguely realized he couldn’t afford to lose the blood running down his arms, but then he was hoisted up and pinned to the wall. “-Make them my Bitches the stupid rich pricks” The small norsk gasped for breath, chains rattling as he grabbed for the hands around his neck. 

Once his vision went spotty with lack of oxygen, he was dropped with a grunt. “Why do I insist on keeping this sad thing? It reeks.” The man said to nobody, looking down at Tord. 

The Norsk pushed up, gasping and coughing. “Punching bag” He wheezed, he’d been well aquatinted with the anger of not only but his captor but some subordinates as well. 

“You are not even that, not even a man you little thing.” The officer sneered, crouching down. “Remind me of a woman, all talk and no bite.”

He resisted the urge to spit blood in the man’s face, scowling. “Let me out and I will show you bite”

Scoffing, he grabbed Tords hair again. “The only reason you are alive is because you are more entertaining than some new private. I could even venture to say your endurance is admirable.” His breath stank of vodka, the scent curling in the norsks face sickeningly. They watched eachother for a few moments, and eventually the older man pulled him up to his feet. “It has been a long time since I have seen my whore. They are not allowed near soldiers, you know?”

Tord struggled to stay on his feet, feeling nauseous and faint. “She must be happy” 

“There is that fire! Such big words for a little boy.” The norsk felt the hand yank at his hair. “I figured out why I kept you” there was a sadistic smile on his face, and Tord realized that there was something worse than the cold or the hunger

Chapter Text

    Matt couldn’t help but watch the norsk, having nothing else to do but study his features while he slept. From what he could remember, Tord was a deep sleeper, impossible to stir unless it was with bacon. Now, the smaller man trembled in his sleep, occasionally muttering something foreign and even tossing and turning at one point. It took more than a little soothing to get him to settle, Matt would rub his back and shush softly until finally he would relax.

    From this point, the vampire could study his face, see the stress lines and signs of dehydration. He could even just peek under the norsk’s clothes- but he shouldn't. Matt shook his head once again and looked to the digital clock by his bed. Still a few hours until sunrise. Sighing and bringing his hand up, he traced a scar that was notched into Tord’s cheek.

    It was a pain to take care of the norsk- that was the best word the ginger could use to describe it- anyways. On one hand, it was obvious to everybody around him that Tord couldn’t care for himself. He needed a near constant watch and someone to make him eat, someone to take his attention when he got that far away look in his eyes. On the other hand, he was a moody nuisance that always smelled faintly of blood, just enough to set the half-starved vampire on edge.

    Matt frowned and found his hands trailing down to Tord’s sleeves again, curiosity plucking at his train of thought. There had to be injuries- maybe self harm? The vampire frowned as he finally tugged up the edge of the red sweater a few inches, revealing an expanse of ugly scarring that seemed to scoop out the flesh of the norsk’s wrist. He flicked his gaze up to Tord’s face, careful as he took the hand into his own and examined it. The scarring circled about his entire wrist, dark with sharp edges. There was no blood- it seemed to be healed entirely- but the sight was still chilling. The norsk whimpered in his sleep and stirred, tugging his arm enough to make Matt release it and pull back. He felt guilty for looking, and now he felt a lump form in the pit of his stomach. “What happened to you.” he said impossibly soft, studying Tord’s face a little while longer before finally pulling the smaller man close to rest, protected from whatever might want to hurt him.

    The last few hours ticked by, Matt staying still the entire time until he finally felt it was time to wake the norsk up. He shook Tord by the shoulder and smiled as he turned over and groaned into the pillow, “It is too early Matt.”

    “We went to sleep at ten last night, we can wake up at eight.” he batted playfully and rolled out of the sheets. “I’m ready to do things Tord!”

    Groaning again, he pushed himself up and looked at the ginger with cold eyes. “That does not mean I am.”

    “Yes it does.” he rolled his eyes and moved to the door, poking his head out of the room to see if anybody else was up. “I need to shower, can you make breakfast today?”

    A short pause followed his question before the norsk answered, “If you do not mind char, then yes.”

    Matt laughed and turned back to wink at his friend, “I don’t mind char if it’s made by my Tord.”

    Another drawn out groan assured him that everything was alright before he slipped out and went to the shower. One nice thing about being a vampire- hot showers are optional- and that could be a great blessing in a house full of people. The ginger cranked on the water and spent a few minutes examining his eyebrows before getting in.

    He was just about to finish conditioning his hair when he heard it. A loud clang rang throughout the house, followed by a familiar, “Faen! Fittetryne!”.

    Matt leapt out of the shower inhumanely quick, pulling on his briefs and skidding into the kitchen. He found Tord on the floor of the kitchen, clutching his hand to his chest with a clear wince on his face. A skillet with half-cooked eggs was upside down next to him. The vampire kneeled down next to him, worry evident in his voice, “What happened, Tord?”

The norsk hissed and turned away, muttering a little, “I forgot that the skillet needs a potholder.”

Matt held his hand out, feeling disappointment at himself creep in. He shouldn’t have left him alone. Slowly, he was given Tord’s hand to examine. A nasty burn was blazed across his palm, already puffy and painful looking. A soft gasp left him as he hastily helped the smaller man up and to the sink, shoving the burn under a stream of cold water. “Tord I cannot believe this. This could be a third degree burn!” He couldn’t help but rub the Norsk’s back in comfort, “Does it hurt too badly? We can go in to the doctor and-“

“Fuck no. It is fine Matthew.” Tord said in a low voice, face contorted in pain and the vampire only then remembered that much like Tom, the sheer mention of a doctor was repellent to Tord.

“Alright  then, I think we have some burn cream so stay here.” Matt said slowly, turning to search the medicine cabinet.

Sure enough, there was still a tube of ointment from the time Tom gave himself a chemical burn fucking around with cleaning supplies. The ginger sighed and shook his head, resigning himself to wrapping the new mark on Tord’s body and making breakfast while the smaller man watched from his perch on the counter. He almost sniped at the Norsk for that, but thought better because there has been much worse in that counter. If he had a heartbeat, he would probably be blushing.

“So- what wounds good to you Tord?”

-

Tom once thought he would never wake up hungover on the floor of a sleazy bar again. But that was before the fucking commie showed up and messed things up again. He peeled his face from the floor, eyeing a mysterious chunky puddle beside him with distaste. Luckily, it seemed that the chairs around him were familiar. And this was reinforced when he dragged himself onto his feet and got a good look around. The sun was shining brightly through the drawn blinds, and the bartender, a snobbish blond with a buttchin so prominent that it looked like it hid a sphincter, watched him idly. “That’s the fourth time now, Tom. I thought you said you were done slumming about.”

“Fuckoff” He slurred back, reaching out as he approached the counter and proceeding to chug the water Mark gave him.

“I assume you don’t want word reaching Edd.”

“You assume correctly.” He looked at Mark pointedly, “you also assume that I need a tab from hereon out okay you ugly bloke?”

He rolled his eyes and nodded, going back to his work as Tom stumbled out and into the daylight. His head pounded and he shaded his eyes to look for his car, only to find it parked right in front of the bar. No wonder he felt like this, he must have hit it early.

Sighing, he took out his keys and fumbled to unlock the beater. Once inside, he let his head fall forward in a defeated manner, only for it to land right on the horn. The blaring noise made him jolt up and suddenly start the car, his startle driving him to zip off with a screech of his tires.

Home was only a half hours drive away, right outside of the smallish city where his favorite haunt was nestled. He sat in the driveway for too long, eyeing Tord’s pampered car with jealousy before finally slamming out and into the delicious smelling house.

His stomach growled immediately, and he stalked straight to the kitchen only to see the devil himself sitting on the counter like he was the king of the world. In reality, Tord was digging his palm into the counter to feel the resounding ache of a deep burn. Matt was cooking breakfast, bacon and French toast it seemed like. Tom steeped himself and walked in, wrapping his arm around his partner’s waist with a grunt. The vampire hummed and leaned up so Tom could plant a kiss on his cheek. The brit seemed to catch Tord’s eye now, though as soon as they looked at each other, the norsk was looking down at a bandaged hand. Smirking, Tom looked down at the food and felt his stomach rumble again. “I hope you’re making extra for me Mattie.”

“No love, you’re going to starve to death.”

The brunet groaned dramatically and crumpled in Matts arms, making the vampire take his entire weight. “Tom! You dramatic Bitch!” He laughed and lifted Tom up bridal style and spun about before setting him down. “Now bugger off I’m cooking.”

Smiling, the brunet leaned back against the wall and watched Tord curl into himself tighter, now pressing his thumb into the bandage. The smile remained. Maybe life with Tord back in the house could be good after all.

Chapter Text

 Edd and Matt went out to see a movie, some weird chick-flick thing that Tord had exactly zero interest in. He was left to lounge on the couch for a bit and stare at the television while his brain took the liberty of running away with his thoughts. It must've been some time that he'd sat there, because the stupid drunk made a comment about how long it was. Tord looked up to Tom, who's neutral expression quickly morphed into a slight frown as he met the norsk’s eyes. They just looked at each other for a while, and Thomas broke it with the simple declaration that he was going to get shitfaced.

  Sinking into the couch, he watched the brit storm off to his room let the realization hit him. The longing hit him like a wave, memories of sweet soft sex that made his heart flutter. Of course there was the guilt, but this time it was different. Tord was struggling to decide, would he turn down Thomas tonight?

  To say that he was addicted to the nights where the Witness was drunk enough to say things that Tord was sure he would never say otherwise, to turn from rough and commanding to gentle, would be an understatement. The thing that really tore him though, was the fact that he knew he was leaving soon. On one hand, he wanted to have that one more time. On the other… he didn't want to think of it.

 He pulled himself out of the slump in the couch, pulling out a cigar once he got outside. Puffing away at it, he lingered only long enough to watch the sun set and get the smoldering end close enough to burn. It was a strange impulse, the kind of thing that had been popping into his mind more and more often, that brought him to press the cigar into the back of his left hand. He hissed, gritting his teeth as the smell of burning flesh floated up to him. As soon as it started, he was left with a snub and a searing pain that sat too well in his gut.

  He was still undecided when he retreated to his room to go over his mounds of scribbles on graph paper. Plans and notes and pages of his funds balanced out on an endless amount of paper. All his most important things were already packed, tucked in a few boxes in the corner, but otherwise his room was the same as before. He couldn't take much where he was going. Bending over his desk, he reread everything with weary eyes that burned from fatigue until there was a knock at the door.

  He took a good minute to push from his desk and open the door to a very hammered Thomas. “Hey commie,” was the only thing to come out of his mouth before he was pressing against Tord and kissing him oh so softly. In that moment, the sleep deprived man decided that he could have this one last good thing.

  Tom pulled back to cup his cheek and ask in a whisper, “Can i?”

  Looking over the drunkard, he saw that sometime between slinking off to his room and showing up there, he had slipped on a dress shirt and his trademark checkered tie, though now undone around his neck. Tord reached up to trace his features and felt his breath catch in his throat. “Of course Thomas.”

  For a moment, the brit just stayed like that, thumb running down Tord’s cheek, but then he leaned down to suckle at the place, right under the norski’s jaw, that made his toes curl. Tord melted into his friend lover enemy and tilted his head to the side with a sigh. He felt the other man smile into his skin as he slipped his hands down to rest on the dip of his spine.

  A moment later, he was being backed slowly to his bed, Thomas guiding him with soft touches to sit back on the mattress. “So beautiful,” he muttered as he loomed over him, only to get down on his knees.

 Tord frowned in confusion as his pants were slipped off him in order to shower his thighs in kisses. Every touch of his lover’s lips left a tingling feeling on his skin, making him relax as Thomas took one of his legs and eased it to open the smaller man’s hips up to him. He proceeded to lap at Tord’s inner thighs and watch his partner give little gasps and moans, working his way up the expanse of skin.

  As Tom looked up to give Tord that look, the one that meant to be his asking for permission because talking is too hard, the norsk found himself wondering if he had ever really had this from tom. He could remember endless times where he'd been ordered onto his knees or even Thomas sucking him off until he cried but, never this.

  He nodded hesitantly, watching as he was

stripped of his underwear, and then letting his jacket be pulled away. If Tom wasn't so drunk, he might've worried about the cuts and bruises and the changes in his body since he had last slept with the brit, but all he was focusing on was placing soft but firm kisses on the other.

 A shiver rolled down his spine when a lasting kiss was placed on the head of his cock, and he closed his eyes closed with a soft, “ Thomas.

 Hands rubbed the soft flesh of his thighs as he was lavished by Tom's tongue and mouth, milking whines and small noises from him. Fisting his hands in the sheets, he opened his eyes when he felt the mouth around him slowly start to take him in fully. Tom had his eyes closed as he lowered himself onto Tord’s cock, humming with that deep vibrato that made the smaller man’s arms prickle with goosebumps. Watching those lips wrapped around him, the soft crease of concentration on the Witness’ brow, everything about him, really in that moment, he felt that longing for every night they had together to be like this, that every time they saw each other he would get to hear the words Thomas uttered when he was too drunk to think.

  The train of thought abruptly ended when he felt himself brush the back of the brits throat and he outright moaned. Beginning to bob, tom smirked around his cock and worked to get more sounds like that from the norski. Slowly, Tord felt his fears and sadness fall away under the pleasure and rush of sheer love he felt for this man. He relaxed under Tom's touch and let the sounds and words he felt on his tongue out.

  Tom grew faster, twisting this way and that and using his tongue to make the other grow louder under him, finally pulling off once he had Tord panting and struggling to stay still. “I love you.” It was a simple phrase that had his head spinning as he was being nudged to lie fully on the bed, Thomas climbing up to trap him with his limbs.

 He started to say it back before he was halted by a deep kiss that felt like the most amazing kiss he had ever had, well, second to his first real one with the alcoholic drunk that he was undeniably in love with. Fluttering his hands over the buttons of Tom's dress shirt, he undid them and pressed against his chest softly. The kiss deepened, and the two pressed close together for friction, rubbing softly together.

  Finally, Thomas moved to pull his pants off and toss them aside, then teasing Tord’s undershirt off until they were both naked and searching for more sensation. The norski felt fingers thread into the hair at the base of his skull, moaning a “Please” when soft tugs made him shiver. He took his time mapping out his lover with his hands, committing everything to memory. Tom rolled his hips into the smaller man, letting out a small sound as he pulled Tord’s head back to open up his neck. Pulling the drunk closer, he whined and bucked up into the contact.

 They were pressed together so close that it was almost suffocating, hands on bodies with every movement punctuated by small sounds and praise. Tord was losing his head in the euphoria, not even questioning the fact that his lover was clearly getting close without even fucking him. He tilted his head back to let out a keen that made Thomas growl and nip slightly at his neck. In the next moment, both of the other’s hands had moved to his hips to pin him down to the mattress and he felt Tom lapping at his neck yright as he ground roughly into him. The contact was a mere shadow of his past aggression, but it still made Tord squirm and whine.

  He felt Tom shush him, the whisper of air brushing over his skin, and one hand moved from his hipbone to grasp at their cocks. A drawn out gasp punctuated the first time he pumped his hand as Tord found himself overwhelmed with sensation. The brit pulled up to capture his lips one more time while he drew close to his climax, swirling his tongue around in his partner’s mouth.

  Arching up into the touch, Tord dug his fingers into Tom's back and gasped. Heat was building up in his stomach and all the friction made him see stars. Tom came with a sigh, Tord’s name falling from his tongue even as he kept pumping. Short whines resonated from both of them as he moved his hand faster to finish Tord, who was reduced to panting and jerking to meet him.

  The smaller man reached the edge, small pleads on his breath. Tom felt the difference and gave one final jerk, squeezing and twisting slightly despite the overstimulation. Keening, Tord came and wrapped his arms around his lover to pull him down, breathing slightly rushed as he rode out his orgasm. Finally, he buried his face into Tom's neck and whined as he was slowly moved to be nestled into the curves of his body.

  The brit reached around for a stray rag, wiping himself off then reaching around to do the same for Tord, his touches soft and caring. Once they both were clean, Tom tangled his legs in the other and curled around him, his head coming to rest in the place between Tord’s neck and shoulder. A sigh made the hair by the norski’s ear flutter and he was pressed against the larger man’s chest in a vicelike grip. “I love you Tord.” Tom said softly as his breathing slowed to a crawl, falling into an easy sleep wrapped around the commie.

  As soon as he was sure the drunk was asleep, he let out the words that were sitting in the base of his throat, “I love you too Thomas.”

 He spent a long time just basking in the feeling of Tom, resisting the urge to fall asleep and instead committing that moment to memory. It was in the small hours of the morning that he finally peeled away, standing to watch his love sleep. It was creepy, yes, but he didn't care anymore. This was it, no more. He would probably never see his friends after he left, he would never again have this, never again have a chance to say it.         Scooping up the brit, he grunted as he proceeded to struggle to his room and set him in bed, taking the extra care to tuck him in and even grab a glass of water for the hangover Tom was sure to have. It was hard to leave him, so hard. Even after he placed a whisper soft kiss on his cheek, he lingered at the door. He didn't want this to be the end. He hated endings; things didn't end!

 Screwing his eyes shut, he pulled the knob behind him and said one last thing, “Until the end, Tom.”

  Back in his room, he slumped against the head of his bed and clutched at Tom's discarded clothes. Tears pricked at his eyes as he curled up in the exact position he was in minutes ago, imagining his love’s presence. It was over, done. He would never confess to Tom, he would never have the one thing he wanted.

  The checkered tie was balled up in Tord’s fist, pressed against his heart and he made the decision to keep it, a memento since the stupid alcoholic had an absurd amount of them anyways. He choked on a laugh and settled down, fatigue pulling at his eyelids and forcing more tears out. There were defined tear tracks on his face, though unseen in the dark.

 Sleep came easily to the norski, curled up tight and warm, though sleep wasn’t pleasant for him, not anymore. Not without his Thomas.

 

 

Chapter Text

         You know it won't stay like this. Tord startled, refocusing on the movie. It was Edd's turn tonight so of course they were watching a zombie comedy. One would think the troupe would be tired of the undead movies, and they would be half right, but Tom and Matt would get reprieve when it was their turn to pick. Idly, the Norsk rubbed at the new mark on his hand and looked to his friends splayed out on the furniture. He couldn't help but hesitate as his gaze slipped over the dark eyed Brit. This definitely wouldn't last.

          A splurting noise and a punchline sounded from the movie followed by a sigh from Matt. "I honestly don't know why you find this movie so funny!"

         Edd had something in his mouth, but that didn't stop him from answering. "I mainly just like how he kept his best friend as a pet in the end." And with that he elbowed Tord playfully. "It seems like something I would do."

        Snorting, Tom pushed up out of his chair and stretched. "Yeah it does you freak. I'll be back."

        Immediately, the majority of the unsung tension drained out of the room, and Tord tore his eyes from his one-time lover. "I would not let you keep me captive, even if you gave me all the brains in the world."

        "Like I need you to let me. Matt don't you think we could keep a pet zombie Norwegian? It's not much worse than a shapeshifter and a vampire."

        With a truly forlorn shake of his head, the ginger muttered something about monster collecting and pulled out his phone. "Sarah wants me to cover her shift, should I do it or should I tell her to fuck off? Because I know she ate the last brownie in the breakroom."

        Edd pondered the conundrum for a moment, "You don't even eat brownies."

        "But what if I did, Edd! What if I did?"

        "I think you should do it, I don't want your 3 AM morality texts again, and it's not like you need the sleep you'll miss."

         Nodding his head, Matt texted a response and then got up. "I guess I'll go get ready then. Goodnight guys!" And with that he was making the climb up to his bedroom and leaving the final two of the group all alone. Wonderful.

         At least it was to the point now that Tord was sleeping alone in the (thankfully cleared out) guest room, but it was still annoying that his friends always insisted on a close eye being kept, especially because of the unique situation Tom's anger presented. The Norsk uncurled his legs, twiddling his fingers out of habit. "So how is your latest project going? I noticed you were in your room for the last two days." He observed, avoiding direct eye contact.

       Groaning, his friend threw his head back and began to complain about this new client and how goddamn bitchy they were, and Tord barely suppressed a sigh of relief.

 

        Somebody was rustling about in the bedrooms. Matt could hear it through the light conversation in the living room, and through his fairly accurate powers of deduction the vampire concluded that Tom was the culprit. This alone wasn't unusual, but the location was. It was the guest room.

        Sometimes- and only sometimes- Matt's boyfriend gave him headaches. Pulling on his scrubs, he checked his appearance in a mirror and them made his way to confront the Brit, catching him in the midst of rummaging through a night stand. "And just what do you think you're doing, Tom?" He asked, the judgement obvious in his tone as he pulled out the ultimate weapon- the crossed arms raised eyebrow combo of complete annihilation.

        The brunet turned to face him, guilt flashing across his face for a moment until turning into a glare. "What does it look like? I'm figuring out what that commie fuck is up to."

        An incredulous sigh left Matt as he stepped up to his partner and gestured for him to look him in the eye. "I understand that you two had a bad break but your insistence on foul play is really getting tiring love." He tried to catch Tom's gaze, searching the man's face for any sort of crack in the anger.

         "Oh no. This isn't about him leaving me with no notice, no word for eight years! This is about him showing up out of the blue, acting all secretive, and instantly playing the victim card whenever anyone confronts him . Tord came back and all of a sudden I ' m the bad guy!" The brit was seething, eyes borderline aglow with his upset, but somehow his voice was still hushed.

         Matt blinked, stunned for just a few heartbeats until he was straightening up to his full height and looking down at Tom- granted he only had a few inches on his partner. "You are acting. Like. A. Child. It's one thing to not trust Tord, but to constantly antagonize him when he's clearly traumatized -"

         "Traumatized! Ha! You and Edd are idiots if you believe that act!"

         With a deep breath, Matt struggled with the searing protective rage, the same feeling he felt when he smelled the fear and despair that rolled off Tord when there was a sudden loud noise or maybe someone raised their voice. "First of all, I'm honestly appalled you would even say that." The vampire pinched his brow. "That is not an act and you should know. I've seen …"

        Tom took a step forward, taking Matt's hand into his almost forcefully, "What have you seen Matt? I bet it has to do with what he's up to."

        With that, Matt blew up. "You know what I've seen Tom? I've seen scars all over his body . It looks like the flesh on his wrists was gouged out! I don't even know if half of them are healed! I can hardly stand being around him because he always smells like blood and fear. Something terrible happened to Tord, more than just one something as well." He turned the force back on Tom, snatching his wrists. "I won't say anymore, and I won't pry either, because it's not my place to stir up whatever haunts him at night. And it's not yours either. So I don't want to hear, see, or even smell you snooping about or harassing Tord again. Got it?" With that, Matt pulled away, turning to leave the room, "You should try and make amends. I think he's more than willing." And then he was gone, taking Tom's car to work.

 

        Once Tom stepped out into the living room he felt the cold gaze of his friend level on him. "Hey" the Brit started, looking at the blank TV screen.

        "Hey indeed" Edd muttered, reading Tom's posture. "Are you going to listen to him?"

        "So you heard."

        "I think the neighbors heard too. Matt doesn't blow up like that every day."

        "And Tord?"

        "He left. I couldn't stop him. Don't really think I should have either, I would feel pretty violated if I were him." Edd signed and looked to the door.

        "So Matt wasn't… exaggerating" he was met with a judging gaze.

        "Of course he wasn't. He may be a bit of a dunce sometimes but he's serious about this. You should be too."

        "What do you think about all this? Aren't you at least concerned about what he was up to all these years?"

        With a sigh, Edd shook his head, "Sure, but my feelings about it don't exactly matter. He was my best friend, and he still is, and I know he'll tell me when he's ready."

        Tom was honestly feeling like everybody was being uncharacteristically caring and understanding. "What happened to the time where we used to fight all the time? I just think it's weird that now's the time for us to be all friendly and sweet to each other." The Brit plopped on the couch, looking over to his longtime friend.

         "Well I don't think anybody will benefit from fistfights and insults right now, but I promise things will be back to normal soon."

       Sinking into the cushion, Tom suppressed a sigh. "Alright, I was just making sure nobody kidnapped you and replaced you with an alien cyborg." He trailed off, looking at the wall. "Should I go after him or you? It's dark out now."

       "I'll text him, but let's see." Edd pulled out his phone to do so. "So what do you want to watch? And don't pick anything stupid."

Chapter Text

The soothing burn of cigar smoke filled Tord's lungs, pouring past his lips and twirling up into the night sky. Shame and embarrassment were at the forefront of his mind, tinging the relief of finally treating his vice with the cruel memory of Matt not only announcing to the entire house that he was pathetic, but also telling Tom to treat him differently because of it. It was just like with Paul and Patryk, being treated like delicate china, forced to try pills and therapy , not to mention the constant helicopter behavior. Despite popular belief, he could handle himself… most of the time. He began to cough when the burning end reached the filter of his cigar. It took a moment to recover, but once he did he was lighting another and crushing the filter under his foot.

       His pocket buzzed, encouraging him to reach in and pull out his phone. Apparently Edd was wondering how he was doing. It only took a moment to type a reassuring reply and return to his smoke. Every once in awhile, he could see cars pass by outside the alley he was lurking in, and even more rarely, he could hear lilting conversation about the various events on the town, which wasn't much considering they were too far in the suburbs for anything interesting. A bully car crept by and the Norsk narrowed his eyes at it. He was fairly certain he was tucked away and inconspicuous, but it would probably be best to not get pinned down by a cop.

      His phone buzzed again and he pulled it out, reading a text from Patryk. All he could think was " Not right now" as he turned it on silent and tucked it away. Today had been a rare good day, and he still felt relatively okay, aside for the fact that now all his friends were openly specifying and playing the what's wrong with the commie game. He sucked down a long draft, feeling the undeniable urge to go and do something stupid about it.

      The sound of approaching people have him a very accesible stupid thing to do, and he stepped from the alleyway, looking about for the source and quickly pinned down a troupe of punks. "Hey there, how is your night going?"

      "Woah is that Russain?" Was the first reply and Tord winced, and it was quickly followed up by a "Why do you want to know?" Well he couldn't blame the kid for being defensive.

       "Norwegian, actually. And I was not looking to bother you, I actually just wanted to know where the nearest bar is."

       "Don't you have a phone?" One of them asked, looking him up and down and sizing him up.

       "Dead, unfortunately, would you mind pointing me somewhere?"

      They somewhat reluctantly pointed out a pub down a mile down the way, and he waved as he left with a little smile. Punks were always such a funny lot. And so he lit another cigar and began his walk down the street. Another bully went by, and so did a few more cars, and finally he began to hear the moderate hubub of the pub. Hopefully the place wasn't too upstanding, the Norsk thought as he overlooked the sign and slipped in around an exiting group.

      It was relatively warm and welcoming inside, not too clean and not dirty to the point that he should be concerned about getting another venereal disease. He took a seat at an empty booth, wiping the usual resting scowl off his face to seem at least somewhat inviting. A server came by and he ordered a beer to start off his night, pulling out his phone to twiddle with it. He was dully trying to recall what the fuck that gay app was when he saw someone slide into the seat across from him. "You here alone mate?" The stranger asked as Tord lifted his gaze to him.

       With a shrug, Tord replied, "It looks like my friends decided they did not want drinks tonight."

       "Oh hey! I found a foreigner, what are you in the UK for?" He had grey eyes and a nose piercing, maybe in his early 20s.

       "Actually I live here with some roommates in town, so not a very exciting foreigner." The phone buzzed again but he didn't bother to look this time.

       "I'm sure I can find something exciting about you." He said as a counter and Tord wondered if this random guy was actually flirting with him until he saw a look that meant that this guy was definitely flirting with him.

       It could make a virgin blush, but not Tord. "It does not take much work to find interesting things with me." He muttered while he sipped his drink. "So are you from around here?"

       "No, I was here for a family thing and now it's done and I have nothing to do except blow time." The stranger groaned in exasperation, taking a drink of his mixer for the first time. "So I have to ask-"

       Tord gestured for him to continue, studying this new prospect with a slightly predatory gaze.

       "Are you queer?"

       The question was abrupt, surprising tord enough that he almost choked on his drink. "Well that was forward."

       The man shrugged, "At some point you stop worrying about the social chitchat."

       With another drink he pondered his answer. You should stop now before you regret something . "Alright then, yes I am gay." He wanted to wince when he said it, his eyes darting away from his companion. Dirty little faggot.

       With a nod, the other man asked if he wanted another drink, gesturing to his nearly empty beer. "Maybe something a bit stronger to get the night started?"

       "I think I could use some whiskey." He said, forcing a smile. And here you are still. The intrusive thoughts and voices were buzzing around his head like rather imposing flies, so he definitely wasn't going to turn down a way to shut them up.

       The two shared a few drinks, striking up an experimental banter unique to people in the prelude of a spontaneous sexual encounter. No talk of family or drama. Which was a relief to the secretive Norsk. About 10 missed messages later the conversation was adequate for the pair to feel each other out. "Do you want to find somewhere quieter?" The man- Mickey asked, to which Tord replied in the affirmative, leaving a 20 on the table and following his companion out the door.

 

       Tom had to admit he'd gotten himself into a deep pile of shit. After an hour of Tord being gone, the Brit had been forced out of the house to search for his housemate, patrolling the streets in his car with the headlights on bright despite pedestrian and driver annoyance. He was truly having no luck. With frustration, he pulled over in front of a pub and started to call Tord. Tapping his foot against the gas pedal, he heard the voicemail click on and there was that stupid commie's voice. Wait. His brows furrowed and he put the phone to his chest, peering outside into the dimly lit entryway that Tord walked out of, closely followed by another man. The Norsk was swaying in the slightest bit, the way that Thomas knew meant he had a few drinks. Rage instantly coiled in his chest, followed by a slightly dishonest curiosity. Once they were walking down the street, he turned off his car and climbed out, following the pair a few meters behind them.

       They seemed to be headed toward the residential part of town, laughing and talking just out of earshot for the Brit to understand. He stuffed his hands in his jacket pocket and kept his head down, staying inconspicuous. At that hour it was a bit late for many others to be walking about, a small blessing. Tom continued after them undeterred until they came up to a flat building, the stranger letting himself in and Tord following. Clenching his teeth, he went to the door and leaned against it, straining his hearing to the superhuman levels he was capable of- just to be sure before he barged in.

 

      The Norsk wasn't expecting the hot mouth on his, breathing alcoholic air into his lungs and reminding him of a certain drunkard. Nor was he expecting caressing hands on his sides. Gapsing, he grounded himself before returning the kiss. Familiar fear and intensity soothed his quarreling mind and reduced him to a state he knew like an old friend. He responded readily now, answering those kisses with equally intense ones and pushing up into Mickey's body. A soft moan left his mouth when a stray hand made its way to his ass, squeezing appreciatively. It was only now he realized that the other man had been sporting a boner, and possibly for some time by the way he could feel it twitch through the layers of clothing. Nothing mattered except for the give and take, the Norsk's mind cleared of those pesky quandaries. It was times like this where that old mindset returned in full- he really was meant for this. His hands slid up Mickey's shirt, feeling a lightly furred stomach and strong chest. Without much warning, he was pinned against the wall and a knee was shoved under his crotch, burning desire filling the air between them.

       Tord arched up into the contact, biting his lip once it was freed and then tilting his head to encourage his partner. The other man responded with fervor, pulling off his shirt and then ducking down to lavish the white neck that was opened up to him. Objectively speaking, he seemed to be an amazing lover so far, Tord mused as he closed his eyes. Then Mickey was lapping at that spot on the side of his neck that made his legs wobble and he was fisting his hand in nice dark hair and revelling in the attention. It was after a few moments of this when he was picked up, rather awkwardly and taken to a loveseat.

      Tord felt fingers tug at his jacket and he quickly shoved them away, looking up with pleading eyes that were met with understanding. "Do you want to suck me?" The man muttered in a low voice, striking the mood back up immediately. Tord couldn't say no. Never say no. And so pants and briefs were tugged down to reveal quite the average dick, but the Norsk wasn't one to judge. They quickly rearranged their bodies so Tord could lower his head on the cock with ease, licking and sucking with practiced concentration. All he could think of was sex and submission. Be a good boy now.

    He took the entirety of Mickey down his throat, bobbing and looking up to see the wrecked expression on his companions face. The other could only take so much of this until he was pushing Tord back and forcing their mouths together in a bruising kiss. Hands fumbled at his zipper and immediately the Norsk went slack, closing his eyes and tilting his head to the side. His chest rose and fell at a quick pace, betraying the rising panic in him. Just like old times HA. His face scrunched when he felt his pants being tugged away and then his underwear, leaving him exposed and too cold. "What the hell?" Mickey exclaimed, his statement punctuated by a loud bang.

 

Tom's shoulder ached from ramming the door, but that was secondary to the feeling that filled him when he saw Tord prone and panting underneath that fucking douche. He barely suppressed his inclination to shift as he stalked over, pulling the stranger off of what used to be his lover, who was now scrambling to cover himself. "What the hell mate? How'd you get in?" The man sputtered, pushing himself up and preparing for a fight.

       Tom yanked Tord up by his elbow, turning to meet the threat. "Fuck off. And don't let me see your face again." He muttered as he dragged a very distressed commie out the busted door.

       "He didn't say he had a boyfriend!" The man shouted back, but the two were already gone.

       Tord tried to yank his arm away from the death grip, the Brit held fast onto him despite the obvious struggle. "Thomas you asshat what the hell are you doing here?" Tears of panic started to prick at his eyes as he desperately pulled away.

       Tom didn't deem to give him an answer, pulling the small Norsk along the sidewalk until his struggling was annoying. Finally, he snapped and grabbed Tords other wrist, pulling his old flame to his face. "I don't know where you got the idea that you could just go fuck off and worry Edd like that." He snarled, glaring into those stricken green eyes that seemed too vivid in the night.

       Tord's throat clenched shut, his mind whirling until he finally settled on a route to escape. He dropped his weight and swung the momentum into a sound kick- right into Thomas, balls and then he was running in the other direction.

       Tom let out a yell of pain, shaking it off as best he could until he started off in hot pursuit. The Norsk was a keen sprinter, covering an impressive distance even with his stature and slight inebriation, but somehow he was caught not even a block away. Taken up cursing and writhing, he kicked out and almost was dropped until Tom slapped a hand over his mouth. Immediately, he brought his teeth down on the flesh of the Jehovah's palm.

     Surprisingly, Tom held fast through Tord's struggle until he had the man restrained tightly against him. It was over as soon as it started. The Norsk let out a sudden, hiccuping sob as he weighed against his captor, ignoring the fact that he'd probably woken up the whole neighborhood. The world was spinning around him, screaming danger to the point that he just wanted to cover his ears and hide, but he was pinned and helpless yet again. It was then that Mickey ran up, his clothes pulled on haphazardly. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" He shouted, taking a nearly running start to try and punch Thomas.

      Tom sidestepped, reaching one of his previously occupied hands to grab at the outstretched arm. "You don't know what you're getting yourself into here."

      Under Tom's clothes, Tord felt a telltale ripple that he didn't understand. He was too busy trying to wrest himself free while his captor was distracted.

    Mickey and Tord managed to escape the Brit at the same time, the former stumbling back and winding up for another hit while the latter fell on his side, his head hitting the concrete but not deterring him from scrambling away and down an alley, running for dear life.

     The Norsk didn't stop running until he could no longer hear the sounds of shouting and even then some. Once he was completely out of breath, he stumbled to a wall to crumple against, struggling to get his breathing under control. He was lost, scared, and his phone was probably lost somewhere in the fray. Mind whirling, he tried to scan his surroundings and fight back against the full on panic attack that was brewing. But he couldn't do much except curl up with his head between his knees, dry heaving and quietly sobbing at his cursed luck.

 

Edd was nearly asleep when Tom showed up on the doorstep with a halfway healed black eye. He was about ready to unleash a world of hurt on the drunk until he was met with a plea of help. "It's Tord. He ran off and- he got drunk and was gonna sleep with some stranger . I couldn't stand by and watch it happen. Only the shitface tried to fight me and the commie fucking bolted. I can't find him anywhere and he dropped his phone. Please you're the only one he trusts Edd."

      He ran his hand through his hair, feeling a headache come on. "Did you try to catch his scent? With your… you know."

     Tom looked at him rather stupidly. "No. I didn't think to."

     The brunet found himself questioning his choice in friends as he begrudgingly got into the car, being careful to lock the door behind him. "Take me to where you last saw him."

      "That might be a bit of a pro-".

      He leveled a signature glare at Tom. "Frankly, I don't give a shit. Now drive."

      They got to the scene outside Mickey's apartment, noticing a bully outside asking the man questions, so they pulled around the block and were careful to stay out of eyesight as Tom unveiled his nifty little parlor trick or turning into a monster. By the time he was shifted enough, he was a bit taller and now sprouting mottled purple skin. The hybrid went into the alley, nose in the air until he caught Tords scent and the hunt was on. They followed the trail easily, winding through English city backstreets until they finally stumbled into an inconspicuous area crammed in one of the eddys of the deep residential district. Only Tom was able to see the huddled Norsk in the darkness, but he stood back and let Edd take the reins. "Tord? Is that you?"

      The small figure raised his head, revealing a tearful Tord who quickly wiped at his wet cheeks. "Edd? How did you find me?" He mumbled as he tried to push himself up, swaying visibly. The brunet was quick to go to him, lifting him up by the arm. "I just followed the trail of self pity." He snorted. "The real question is what happened tonight?".

      Tord lifted his head to peer at Tom's silhouette. "Did you not ask him?" He said, contempt clear in his voice. Edd was only allowed to help him straighten up, and was quickly shoved away so Tord could dust him off. "I said I needed some time alone."

       "That doesn't mean you can up and disappear in the middle of the night for hours." Edd scolded softly, trying to look over his friend for injuries.

      "I did not know that coming here would mean sacrificing my freedom." He muttered, turning away. "Do either of you have my phone?"

      Tom gave up the device, staring at the Norsk the entire time, who merely opened it and began to text responses to somebody. Once he was done, he slipped it back in his pocket and then looked to Edd. "Are you taking me home then? Because I would honestly rather walk."

     Any sign that the smaller man was once crying was gone, replaced by a stone face. If it was in any different context, Edd would've been impressed, but at the moment he was filled with a mix of concern and curiosity. So much was different and so much was the same, it was hard to know what to do in any situation. "Well you seem to be a bit off so how about let's drive home instead? It's a few kilometers off anyways."

      Tord obviously didn't have much energy to argue, instead resigned to walk next to his friend all the way back to the car. At least the police cars were gone now. They piled into Tom's little cab, the Norsk sitting alone in the back and they all wallowed in the silence.

      Once they got back to the house, Tord was the first one to get out, slamming the door behind him but then standing awkwardly at the front door while he waited for someone to unlock it. Once it was, he brushed past the duo and straight down the hall to his room much to Edd's dismay. He started to go after his friend when Tom held him back, a dark look on his face. "Don't bother with him." And with that, the dark eyed Brit was stalking to his own room and Edd was left alone wondering where the hell it all went wrong.

Chapter Text

During my hiatus, I failed to notice that Self Indulgence is officially a year old! To celebrate, I will be hosting open asks about the characters, the author, or the plot, answered by Tord. My favorites will be illustrated by myself or my co-creator. If we meet 50 asks in the time before Wednesday, August 28, I will be posting the next chapter early. This chapter will have a rare moment of intimacy between our tragic duo. 

All asks should be directed to @breakdown-blogger on Tumblr or posted in the comments section of this chapter! 

Thank you all for enduring my melodramatic writing and long breaks, I am doing my best to post more often at the moment, since I am currently out of work. 

-Sammy

PS. I have been considering making an alternate document with the more graphic content of this fic. If anybody is interested feel free to inquire either here or at the Tumblr referenced above. 

Chapter Text

Tord was officially holed up. The door to the spare bedroom was locked and no matter how much anybody pounded on the door- even Matt when he came home from his emergency room shift- there was no answer. Not even a 'fuck off'. It was nearing evening on the second day when Tom finally lost it, getting ready for a night out with Matt when suddenly he was banging on the door quite soundly and screaming for Tord to open his commie ass fucking room up or he'd tear him a new hole. Matt was already gone and Edd was in his own room slaving away with headphones on, so nobody was there to stop Tom from snapping off the doorknob and busting in.

     Tord was sitting at his desk- a new acquisition dug up from his old boxes- scribbling out frantic notes onto graph paper and apparently half out of his mind since it took him a full 30 seconds to turn around in his chair and look at the intruder. "What is it now, Thomas."

       The venom in his voice was severe, burning anybody except for the Brit who was seething in the doorway. "What is it? You're the fucking woe is me dumbass who locked himself in his room doing who knows what."

       "I am just working. I do that too, you know." And with that he had the audacity to turn back around to the piles of paper.

      Tom strode to the desk, grabbing the chair and turning it around forcibly. "I don't know what you're up to, commie but you'd better start talking or else I'm going to do something we'll both regret."

      The Norsk gave him a look with dead eyes, "I am going to be quite honest when I say this- try me."

     Tom definitely shouldn't have done it, but he did. He yanked Tord up out his chair and gave him a punch that could knock out a grown man. For a moment there, the commie just laid there on the floor, probably trying to process why the entire world was off kilter. But then, much to Tom's surprise, the man slowly pushed himself up and spat at him. "Is that all you can do Tommy? You have gone soft."

       His temper got the best of him, he lashed out again but then Tord was ducking and slamming into Tom with all his might, taking advantage of the bigger man's loss of balance and somehow, someway, flipping him directly into the desk. The plastic cracked under him, somehow not giving, and he rolled off easily only to be caught with a wicked open fisted hit right up in his solar plexus. This crumpled Tom, stunning him as he slipped to the floor. Tord's mouth was bleeding as he stood over his once lover. "I did not waste my life while I was gone. I learned to fight. And to fight dirty."

      Wiping his mouth, he waited for Tom to get up. "I imagine we have made our regrets now. But I really do have to get back to work."

      Tom couldn't process what was going on. This wasn't Tord from the past and this definitely the frightened thing that Tord was now. The uncharacteristic hardness was mystifying, almost making the Brit want to see if he could actually break it. He shook off this thought, astounded to see the Norsk go back to his desk. "Tord wait-"

       "This is not like old times where we fight and then talk about our feelings, Jehovah. You and I are much different creatures now." He said cooly, moving to sit when Tom grabbed his arm.

       Tord met his eyes, looking blank and oh so unlike anything the hybrid once knew. "Look- I'm sorry. I-"

       Brushing him off once again. "I get it, you miss your old punch a Fleshlight."

       "What? No Tord it's not about this. Please just hear me out."

       A weird look came across the commie's face and he seemed to be curious. "Fine then. Let us talk."

      Now that Tom was put on the spot, he couldn't put his feelings into words. I hate you. I loved you. What are you hiding why are you like this.

       "Why." It came out, hanging in the air ineffectually.

      "Why what?" He gave Tom an infuriating look that included a raised eyebrow.

      "Why… did you leave." He started, finding the bed to sit on. Who would've guessed that barging into Tords room uninvited would lead to this.

      Tord sat in his own chair. "I had an obligation to attend to."

      "What kind of obligation?"

      He pondered this question for a moment. "A business obligation."

     "What were you doing for so long?"

     "Performing that obligation, for about four years. And then I began a… venture of my own."

      Tom sighed and drummed his fingers against the bed. "I appreciate this vague honesty but I wanted real answers."

      "Would you rather want elusive answers or no answers?" He asked, quite honestly. For some reason he reminded Tom of a past boss, all business and no emotion. His face was stone and his posture was stiff, every move calculated.

      Tom didn't feel this question deserved an answer, instead moving on. "Was the nature of these things not the same thing that you've been telling us?"

     "Very much so, yes."

     "Was it violent?'

     "Yes." The response was chillingly curt.

     "I'm guessing you won't share anymore on that front."

      "You guessed correctly."

      He sat back for a moment, thinking. "Why has all of this" he gestured at Tord, "So much different from what it was just awhile ago."

        The Norsk hummed. "I got tired of simpering about. I know you can agree it was annoying."

        He stifled a laugh, instead snorting. "So which is the real you?"

        "The real me? Both are." He gave no explanation.

       "So all of this, I'm guessing is from your… trauma." Tord nodded. "What happened to you?" There it was. The question that everyone was asking, what had the whole house on the edge of their seats.

        "I imagine the best answer I can give you is by showing you." And with this, Tord did the improbable, the unthinkable. He stood, pulling up the edge of his sweater and all Tom could think of was his old body, soft and small beneath him and covered in a sheen of sweat from sex. But instead, what was revealed was much thinner, tightly coiled muscles wrapped around the Norsk's body like a vice with skin that appeared to be shrink wrapped onto it. He moved to take off his undershirt, eyeing Tom. "I have one condition."

        The Brit looked to those dead looking eyes and found himself yearning. Wanting those whispered words once again. "What is it?"

        "Stop snooping through my stuff. And let me get back in my old room sometimes, there are some things in there I want."

        "Is the stuff you're doing going to endanger Edd and Matt?" Was the instant response, cold and calculating to meet him.

       Tord became deadly serious. "I would die before I put any of you in the line of fire."

      Tom let that answer sit in his gut for a minute. "Okay" he said apprehensively, searching for any of the old Tord- his Tord in the man's face. There might've been a flicker, but then it was gone and the Norsk was lifting his undershirt and revealing-.

      The Brit couldn't process what he was seeing. It was a marred expanse of skin that shocked him to the point that he was standing up and reaching out. "May I touch you?"

     Tord looked down at him, his eyes finally betraying emotion. The commie was scared, not enough to be worried but he knew that look. It was vulnerable. He nodded. Tom reached, gently brushing his fingertips first against what appeared to be a bullet wound. "What is this?"

    "Fucker shot me." Was the only response, so quiet.

    Tom trailed his hand up the various scars of cutsn many fresh, then to the side to Tord's wrist. "And these?"

     "Shackles."

    Tom gulped air, reaching up to the Norsk's shoulder to see a few scars that reached around from his back. Slowly, he peeked behind his once lover only to see those strange muscles decorated by striped skin. If the Brit were to guess. Someone whipped his back to ribbons. A deep sadness pervaded the air as he returned to his spot until he made his way to Tord's chest. There was a bite mark on the right shoulder, looking more like a rabid dog got to him instead of the obviously human culprit. And then, right there by his right collarbone was a dark, circular area that was obscured by fresh wounds. "What's this?"

     Tord took a long time to answer, reaching up a trembling hand to touch it. "A brand."

     "Do you want to sit down, Tord?"

     He nodded, "Can you hand me my jacket?"

     Tom fetched it for him as he sat on the bed, looking deflated. "My head hurts like a bitch now."

     A weak laugh was all he could muster. "I'm surprised you got up after I hit you."

      "I learned to take a hit well, you know." The Norsk sighed, pulling his jacket back on.

      "You're so skinny now."

      "I am."

      "Do you want to talk about it?"

      Tord gave him a quizzical look. "You seem to be rather compassionate. For you."

      "I think Matt's rubbed off on me a bit." He shrugged and sat down on the bed alongside Tord. "Do you… need a hug?" He asked, searching for a bit of guidance.

       Tord hesitated. "You hate me. And for good reason."

       "It can be a hate hug."

       The Norsk caved at that, leaning into his old flame. Tom slowly wrapped his arms around the smaller man, feeling the stiffness melt away into reluctant relaxation. He almost expected Tord to start crying, but he still seemed to be in that indomitable mood and eventually he pulled away, straightening himself. "You can tell the others. I just-" he struggled for words. "You deserved an explanation. I was kept away, and then I could not stand for you to see me like this."

         "Will I ever get a full answer?"

        Tord looked at him, the stone face falling back into place, "Not for a long time, Thomas."

         They sat there for a long while. "Are you scared of me?" Tom finally asked, breaking the silence.

        "Not you specifically no, I tend to get scared by a lot of things nowadays." And then Tord was staring at a wall and Tom knew he had to find a distraction.

       "Do you want to come out to the bar with Matt and I? It could be a good way to clear the air since we're on speaking terms now, apparently."

      Tord stood up, rolling his shoulders back. "I could go for a drink."

      For once, the Brit couldn't help a little smile. "You and me both."

 

     It was obvious that the truce was tenuous when they piled in Tom's beater for the drive, but somehow having Matt in between them have them an easier air. It was surprising to the vampire, which was clear to all, that the bubble had magically popped. But the blooming bruise on Tord's jaw did win him the dirtiest of all dirty looks. Despite that, they were sitting in a booth at a karaoke bar and it almost seemed like old times. Sure, the commie was still off kilter in his strange mood and Tom and Matt both still felt like they were stepping on land mine infested ground, but once they started talking and a few drinks were in them, everything was generally okay. Tord was cut off after the third drink since he hadn't eaten, and eventually Matt had to drag his boyfriend up to the stage to sing a riveting rendition of an old alt rock song. Tord watched them with a sick grin on his face as they came back down. "Thomas I almost forgot your amazing voice. I think I need an encore."

    Tom shot him a glare. "What about you? We're at a karaoke bar after all."

      "I do not sing." He responded quickly, picking at a napkin.

      "That's what I thought commie." He plopped back in the booth, Matt following close behind.

     They fell into a bantering conversation about voices and singing that lead to Matt begging for a song with Susan when Tord fell silent, fidgeting with his fingers. The ginger was the first one to notice. "Do we need to leave, Tord?"

     The Norsk shook his head, "Just had an odd thought is all. Can I have another drink? I will pay."

      They both shot him down, continuing on to talk of Matt's work today and about how another kid had come in with a lightbulb in his mouth. "It sounds like something we'd do but damn is it stupid."

      Tord laughed at the comment, swiping Tom's drink and downing it's contents with a triumphant sound. Neither of his companions were happy about that but he didn't seem to care.

      All in all, it was a happy end to a long day, and when they drove home it seemed like just like old times. But one good day could not take away eight years of bad. Tord remembered this as he stared out of the window. It will never last

Chapter Text

Patryk would always be grateful, to some extent, for the mission that brought him to that Slavic insurgent cell. It was where he met Paul, who he now was in a happy relationship with. And it was where they both found- and rescued- Tord. Those two very happy things shaped his life to where it was now, but nothing could erase what happened in those few years.

    He bent over his paperwork, distracted over the events of the other night. His friend, his leader, was falling apart at the seams. It was good for him to be away from the army, but it was also stressful. Keeping tabs on the little Norwegian was a handful, and keeping the ranks in order without him was another world of problems.

      He found himself lingering on old things, the look Tord had on his face when Pat first laid eyes on him. That mangled body and shivering from the cold concrete cell. Being offered to-. The man put his hands in his hair, tempted to call his friend. It was supposed to be minimal contact, mainly to avoid suspicion and conspiracy on all sides. The only thing that reassured him was the network of operatives lurking in that town, originally keeping tabs on Subject 37, but now watching over the whole troupe of friends.

      They sent him updates often, and when he got the report that Tord had been somehow involved in a street brawl it was beyond concerning. Especially considering the context of going home with a stranger and Subject 37 following. Everything on that front was a mess.

      He got the notion to call Paul up to his office, but then thought better. He was in charge of combat drills today. And tomorrow would be even worse. They were moving in on an isolated cell in Finland.

      Standing up abruptly, he moved to the side table where a decanter of Red Leader's favorite whiskey sat. A glass or two wouldn't hurt. All he could think of was seeing Tord fresh out of his last surgery, dazed and half out of his mind on the major sedatives they have him. That was when he and Paul decided to go through with their plan- break protocol and do the most impossible thing imaginable- take down a military unit from the inside with only two agents and a prisoner of war.  

      It was amazing that they were able to do so much, but what was even more incredible was what happened when they gave said POW two pistols and a hand grenade. He would never admit it, not to Tord's face, but Patryk was afraid of what Tord was capable of.

     The man found himself staring into his drink and resigned himself to plop down at his desk and pull out his personal notebook, jotting a few notes down about how he could possibly send aid to his friend.

     He got a clear view of seeing a man shot through the skull and had to stop, taking another long drink. What time was it? Maybe he could call Paul in for an early lights out. Some rolling about would probably help him loosen up soon.

      Tord was standing on his platform, giving his weekly address. Little did his advisors know that his new medication had combined poorly with lack of food and sleep. They never knew until after the fact. After they watched some privates scrape their comrade's brains off the wall.

       Patryk wanted to bang his head against the desk. He couldn't shake the bad feeling that pervaded him for the whole day. Reaching for his personal phone, he pulled up the Norsk's contact and stared at it for a few moments. He was about to press the call button when all of a sudden the room lit up yellow and a low whine filled the air. Containment breach. Quickly, he stuffed the device back into his breast pocket and ran from the room. Tord would have to wait.

 

      There was something soothing about being back in his old lab. It was rudimentary in comparison to the one at his main base, but the messy setup and scattered blueprints were reassuring. Tord ran his hand over his console with a stupid smile. He would have to update the security system, now that the house changed so much. It was nice to think of.

     The Norsk went to his pegboard after pressing one of the many buttons, and it spun around to reveal a barebones weapons rack. Just a few pistols, an automatic rifle, and a small grenade launcher. His old bedroom had more- that was, until Paul and Pat had cleared it out. Slowly, he took one of the pistols from it's place and went to a worktable, beginning the familiar process of dismantling and cleaning the weapon. It would be dusty, and probably still dirty from it's last use knowing his past self. Every move was deliberate as he went through the steps, finally putting it back together, loading it, and checking the safety. He almost felt like his old self again.

      On an impulse, he went to his chemical rack and found an open journal, a funny memory considering the circumstances he was in now. It was all of his work on the hybrid serum, from the DNA reconfiguration to the infectivity calculations. That last part was a bit tricky. Surprisingly so the reptilian data tended to want to cross between hosts, and it took a month of working to determine a way to keep it exclusive to the test subjects.

    Thomas was a better result than he could have ever expected, the man seemed to be the perfect host for all sorts of reasons. The alcoholism made it more convenient to disguise blackouts from various circumstances of the change, so it was even more convenient. He couldn't have picked a better subject.

     He flicked through the pages, skipping through the reproduction section with a blush. Past Tord really was a piece of work.

     With that, he set the journal down and went back to his console, staring at the single pillar that held a large red button. For a few moments he looked at it, and then he crouched down and pried away the side panel, revealing a mess of wiring. Deliberately, he pulled a few choice wires and left it like that and replaced the panel. Sometimes, he was afraid of himself. He was afraid of his urge to push that button and return to his army with the host of supplies that he would gain, but he had to restrain himself.

     Standing up, he set his hand on the button and experimentally pressed it. Just as he expected, the ceiling opened up, extending a pipe from down to his head. From the pipe came his hat, a WWI relic that used to be one of his prized possessions. Now, it merely mussed up his hair. He set it to the side and collected his gun, stuffing it into the waistband of his jeans. With a single backwards glance, he left the lab and switched the lever that controlled the secret entrance. It closed behind him and left him alone in his old room.

    The Norsk felt much better now, with the weapon secure at his side. He almost wanted to look at some of Tom's stuff, and he couldn't resist the urge to pick up the Brit's busted up old bass. Plucking a few lines, he remembered how Tom would just sit on his bed, bent over and muttering the lyrics to his favorite songs while he strummed on Susan. The Norsk couldn't help the surge of warm feelings in his chest, but it was quickly dampened. He may be on speaking terms with Thomas again, but they could never be lovers again. He had Matt now. And nobody wanted this broken shell of a human being. He set the bass back on the stand, rushing to leave and get back to work on his new personal project.

Chapter Text

Tord had long forgotten to care about the cycles of the year, too busy with his work to pay attention to holidays or summer or the like. But when he was sitting on the couch with his coffee one fateful day morning he was met with the pure surprise of Matt walking in with a huge grin on his face. "It's snowing! It's officially winter!"

The ginger, who normally looked worn after the graveyard shift, was ecstatic for one moment until he noticed only Tord was awake, who raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement. "I thought it was a bit chilly out lately." He murmured into his drink, meeting his friend's gaze. "What is the date, anyways?"

Matt looked at him as if he was daft, gesturing wildly, "It's November 25! 30 days till Christmas!"

Oh Christmas . The Norsk gave a half-assed smile. "Wow. Time goes on."

The vampire calmed some, dropping his work bag by the door and taking his seat on the couch next to Tord. "I'm excited, at least. How did you sleep last night?"

Right into the probing questions, the smaller man took a long drink, considering leaving and getting a smoke. "I got some sleep."

Matt was obviously disbelieving. "I have today off, maybe we can find something to do that isn't staying cooped up in the house?" He broached, trying to get a nose on Tord's mood only to be met with a distasteful odor. "After you shower though. You reek!"

Making a disgusted face, the Norsk sank further in the couch. "I will go out. No shower though." Just the thought of having to be naked was enough to sour his mood, which was barely hanging on by a thread. "What do you want to do?"

"I was thinking we could go to the Christmas tree festival. You know, the one Tom tried to set on fire awhile back?"

Tord did not know that, in fact, and now he really felt like shit. Nothing like the reminder of your near decade-long abandonment and the loss of a lover. "Maybe you and Edd should just go."

Matt frowned, then pushed out of the couch. "How about a protein shake and your meds and we will see. If you really do not like that idea then, we will find something else, yeah?"

Begrudgingly, Tord followed his friend to the kitchen. Meds and food had been an uphill battle with his roommates. Which was the ultimate goal, he supposed, but it was still a source of a lot of grief on his part. Whenever he could feel even a little fat on his stomach he felt sick. He wondered if he should start working out again as he begrudgingly took the chocolate shake and his small fistful of pills. Matt gave him an affectionate smile as the Norsk did so, which made him feel the tiniest bit better. "Since we are bothering each other, you should eat too. You look a bit…" he had to word this carefully, knowing the vampire's vain streak, "Weathered." He finally settled on, eyeing the slightly gaunt ginger.

Matt's smile fell a little. "It's been a bit hard. My contact hasn't been in good supply lately and Tom…"

The Brit had been more reclusive than usual, snappier too. Even with their reluctant truce he was still a torment to the entire household, especially to his boyfriend. Tord nodded, feeling awkward. "I am sure Edd would help, you know."

Shrugging, the ginger turned to the fridge to retrieve one of his infamous popsicles. "I don't like to bother."

It was somewhat incredible what temporarily erasing all of a person's memories could do. Matt used to be quite the cunt, but now he was just a bit scatterbrained at times and much sweeter. The Norsk couldn't complain, really, he and Matt were never close before he moved out. "I could… you know."

The vampire leveled a soft glare at him. "You need that blood more than I do, looking like a ghost as you are."

That was fair, he figured. "Do you know if Tom is coming out of hiding anytime soon?"

Matt took a bite out of the accursed frozen treat. "I don't think so. He tends to get like this around wintertime- something to do with his condition. I swear, he may be more cold-blooded than I am." The vampire snorted at that. "Is Edd going to be up anytime soon? He was up watching the telly when I left."

"I doubt it, he went to bed around one talking about this big commission he got."

"Seems like him. I miss his stupid face around here though. Our schedules are never lined up anymore."

"Maybe I can tempt him out with an arcade trip on me." The Norsk devised, taking another drink and chasing the sweet taste with his coffee.

"Now that is a plan. Plus we won't be out in the cold for too awful long. You don't have any winter clothes."

"Didn't need them much where I was living."

"Weren't you on the continent somewhere? Germany or something like that?"

Shit. Uh. "I was over in the Baltics, but I stayed inside most of the time."

With a nod, Matt continued on this line of conversation, much to Tord's dismay. "Hows your company doing? Any new stuff going on?"

Fuck today was going to be a headache, wasn't it? "Ah, um, not really. I left my… president of sales in charge and he has been running it smoothly as long as I send in designs every once in awhile."

"I'd like to see some of your stuff, it must be interesting to be as successful as it seems."

Muttering, he turned to his coffee. "I have not said much about how well it was doing. For all you know it could be two people in a boiler room assembling parts."

"Knowing you, probably. But you also never seem wanting for quid either."

He laughed, sounding too nervous. "You got me there."

Matt crinkled his nose, giving Tord a judging look. "We really are not going anywhere without you washing up. You're ruining my appetite."

He got up from the bar. "Well you probably want to first, nasty ER patients and all. So I am going to go put some work in on some… payroll stuff and get back to you on that."

Matt was on him in a flash, which was some real teen vampire movie shit that Tord was not in the mood for. "I think not. You smell like a public restroom and I will not be at peace until you are cleaned."

The Norsk was rapidly running out of energy to deal with being alive, so he glared up at the vampire, who had quite a bit of height on him, and gave him a voice laced with anger. "Matt you are not my keeper and I will be a slob if I want to. Do not push this."

This was clearly an issue that the ginger wasn't going to drop. He glared right back down at the smaller man. "I am not afraid to force you. Just because you've been eating doesn't mean you're off of probation."

"Oh shut it. I am going to my room." He said in a low voice, trying to step around the vampire only to be snatched by the hood.

"I am taking you to the bathroom." Matt began to drag the Norsk on his heels. "And you are not coming out until you are clean."

Tord tried to drop his weight only to be dragged to the bathroom on his butt, which was just degrading at this point. It would probably be funny if he didn't have this anxiety rising up in him. He didn't want to be naked he didn't want to have to see how defiled he was. Bile rose in his throat as he was shoved in and the door was shut behind him, effectively trapping him in the room. "Matthew let me out. I mean it!" He banged the door behind him halfheartedly    to which the vampire responded "Just hose off and you can get out."

Tord shoved himself off the floor, his mind quickly becoming riddled with intrusive thoughts. Dirty broken slut. Taking a shuddering breath, he tried to think of the last time he was even close to naked. It had to have been when he'd made his strange pact with Tom, which was a terribly sordid affair. There was nothing quite like showing your estranged past lover what… those men did to you. His face was less gaunt than usual, but still the effects of lack of sleep and malnourishment were carved into his face. His frown lines were ever prominent as he glared into the mirror.

There was no escape route, so he might as well get over it. Turning on the shower, he squeezed his eyes up and began to strip, ignoring memories and thoughts and fears in favor of humming an annoying song. Eventually he was down to his boxers and he couldn't go on, his hands trembling. He stepped into the shower with the curtain open so he could watch the door and opened his eyes with trepidation. There was no shaking the oppressive fear of something watching him- waiting for his moment of vulnerability. The water pelted on his rigid muscles, offering no reassurance.

Grabbing the first soap he could find, he started with his knotted hair, scrubbing viciously as he ignored the tight stretch of his still healing wounds- ones that he'd scratched open in a fit or ones he'd acquired through other means. Once his hair was clean, he got another handful of soap and began to scrub over his body. There were places where he was soft now, where toned muscle and bone were no longer obvious on his skin. His legs were shaking. So were his hands. The Norsk looked down, given a distorted view of all his pitiful scarring and he didn't quite crumple to the ground, but he did end up seated in the shower, his boxers soaked and his eyes distant. How long would it be before things could be normal again? Probably never. His hand wandered first to the scar on his stomach, a neat hole that had nearly killed him before he was dragged back to the infirmary. There was a two week break from that one- but it wasn't worth the pain that caused it. Then, his hand crept up, as if it was of its own volition, his fingertips coming to rest in the deep groove caused by his worst scar, the deep burn that had marked him permanently as a victim.

Tord curled into himself, not caring that his pressure on the wound was starting to hurt or that the water was quickly turning cold. Their damn water heater was a piece of junk. The Norsk stared at the scarring around his wrists, where shackles had rubbed deep into skin, then fat, then muscle. After that he'd stopped struggling so much, so they deemed to save him from permanently crippling him.

He wished he still had his memory eraser gun. He wished a lot of things. Sometimes he wished he was still there- just so he wouldn't be so broken now. He would probably, be dead, actually. Now that he was thinking about it. So many attempts on his life and he could've just stayed and had them finish the job quite well. There was a sharp sting as his fingers broke the delicate scar tissue, digging into it and pulling at the seams of his skin.

The burn was seared into his muscle, too deep to cut off without permanently damaging his ability to work, much to his dismay after he tried to get it cut off. But now he was useless. The Norsk couldn't run his army, he couldn't even watch after himself because of his relentless mind. The water was ice cold now, numbing him even further. All of a sudden, though, it shut off and there was someone next to him. Scrambling, he skipped in the tub and cracked his head soundly on the side as he tried to get up and defend himself. He was dizzy, and his brain was clouded with panic. Strong arms wrapped him in something soft and he tried to kick away, only to be lifted up. "Edd! Get the first aid kit!" The person shouted in his ear as he tried to pry himself away from the vice grip that held him tightly to the person's chest. His hand was red, Tord realized as he shoved at the person, smearing the stained color all over a blue shirt. He could hear his own heartbeat. Eventually he was set down and he was able to get a good look at his surroundings. It was the living room. He vaguely knew the place, so he knew how to escape. There was a room that was his. His lab. Once the grip on him loosened he was scrambling out and two people were yelling at him. He rolled onto the floor and years of training kicked in and he was running- down the hall and into his old bedroom and right into another person who immediately seized him. "Commie. Tord calm down. Breathe. Why are you bleeding? Tord answer me!" The Norsks arms were quickly snatched up in a strong hand, the pressure making his wrists ache. Another hand was wrapped around his torso, keeping him secure against a warm and much larger body. There was no more fighting. He was caught and too aware of his half-naked state, trembling in the grip of his captor. It was all over. A choked scream came from him as he tried to yank his arms away or bite at the attacker, but all of his efforts were thwarted. Finally, he went limp. There was no way he could come back now.

 

Tom held the Norsk tightly to his chest, worry surmounting his anger at the man in his arms. Matt was around the corner in an instant, eyes aglow with the sheer chaos of what was happening. Tord was murmuring now, incomprehensible with his face pressed against Tom's sweater. After shooting Matt a good "shut the fuck up" look, he readjusted Tord to support his whole body in his arms, hating how the Norsk trembled in his arms. At this point, everyone in the house had some inkling about what happened to Tord, but nobody wanted to say it. Nobody wanted to accept what all it entailed. Their small friend was a lot worse off than any of them had imagined. Edd came in last with the first aid kit, his face grim with fatigue and concern. Finally, Tom spoke. "Do you have that sedative? The one for when I get out of hand?" The brunet nodded and handed off the kit, disappearing to go find them. The best they could really do for the crying man was to force him down, for now.

The Brit walked to his bed as calmly as he could, being careful not to jostle his ex lover. The towel had fallen away and the poor thing was wracked with shivers. There wasnt much blood, really, but it was smeared all around in the struggle and now painting a horrific picture for the boys. Pressing Tords head against his chest, he sat and began to rock softly, not knowing what else to do. Matt sat next to him and began whispering soothing words until Tord stiffened and went oddly quiet, the fear scent thickening until the entire room was sour. The vampire looked starved, now that Tom could see, and he felt a pang of guilt when Matt's red eyes met his. The blood was probably only making him worse. "I'll fix him up Mattie, we can't do anything until he's out anyways."

"I want to stay." The vampire said softly, picking up a blanket to wrap around the two. Tord was beginning to stir again, talking to Tom's chest in a shrill tone. His arms and legs jerked erratically, and Tom almost questioned if he was having a seizure.

Edd came in with the needle, his expression unreadable while he asked his friend to hold the Norsk still. It took a bit of effort from both Matt and Tom, now that Tord was struggling again. They grimaced in tandem as needle sunk into the flesh of the commie's arm and they redoubled their efforts as he screamed and tried desperately to claw at Tom's face. This went on for awhile longer, his energy eventually fading until he went limp. His face fell back, revealing puffy eyes and blood smeared across his cheeks. Wet hair was tangled about, plastered to his forehead and adding a sort of innocent touch to his now relaxed expression.

Reluctantly, Tom laid him down on the bed and Matt began to clean and dry him with the towel. Edd sat on the floor next to the bed, staring wordlessly. It all felt invasive, the way that each of them bore witness to every scratch and burn that littered the broken man's body. They refrained from taking off his bloodied underwear, moreso to spare themselves the sight. Tom felt sick. Edd very nearly was sick. And Matt was even paler than usual, his hands shaking as he found a pair of Tom's pajama pants to put on the limp Norsk. The fresh wound on his chest was bandaged afterwards and all of the smaller ones were treated. Once it was all over, Matt sat back with a blank look on his face. He turned to his friends, knowing the horrible truth sitting between them. "Are you still angry at him?" It came out, accusing, lashing at Tom in particular, who couldn't do anything but stare at the easy look on Tord's face and feel regret. It was so much worse than the Norsk standing in front of him, still as stone, coldly explaining his scars. The Brit slowly wrapped his arms around his ex-lover, his monstrous instincts kicking in as he pulled the limp man into his arms.

"What do we do?" Edd asked, looking up at his roommates. Tom could only imagine what was going through his mind- he was the one that knew the most about Tord. They'd been friends ever since Tord had moved to England.

"I doubt therapy is an option. He hardly talks to us, let alone a stranger. Maybe the people who dropped him off know something." Matt said in a matter-of-fact tone as he tried to pull Tord's hair out of his face.

"I don't think we should do anything. If he knows we know there's no telling what will happen. We have no idea what he's going through." Tom cradled his ex-lover closer, wondering how things could've gotten so fucked up.

"That's if he doesn't remember this whole thing. The drugs will probably make it cloudy, at least." Edd stood, "And Tom? I hope you already know this but whatever you two had in the past? It stays there now. We don't know what will push him over the edge besides the obvious. For now, it's business as usual. Food, meds, and keeping an eye on him is the best we can do."

Tom looked to Matt, who had this look of indescribable sadness in his unearthly eyes. He had no idea how to fix this, he realized. The Brit felt useless. "Can you get one of my sweaters?" He murmured to the vampire, fixing Tord to be more comfortable in his arms.

"Sure, love. I think I need some time to cool off after that, though." He gave a forced smile. Edd agreed, and there was a little more shuffling about before Tom reluctantly took a now clothed Tord to the couch and sat next to the prone body. Once the house was quiet again, the Brit turned on the television and settled in to wait for the Norsk to wake.