Work Header

He Would Have - No, Could Have Been Mine

Work Text:

so i know this is really late but i think you should know im in the hospital.

What? Why? When?

Woah calm down, ive been here for years actually but since weve been talking for like a 10  months i thought ya would want to know just because were talking about our personal lives. i dont want ya thinking im a bum with no job

More like I would think you’re a child with how you type


So why are you in the hospital?

Some thing with my insides being stubborn

Sounds like something for you.


Yet truthful.

whatever nils

Whatever Mikkel.

anyway time to go i have steak with sauteed mushrooms for dinner

In a hospital?

well it’s mush so i never taste it so i might be having lobster but WHO KNOWS

I have just some soup, so enjoy your Steakobster.


Later, loser

later, ass

[Mikkel has signed out]


Nils sat back on the couch, cradling the glass of wine he had been toasting tonight for Mikkel’s birthday although he had poured it three hours ago and barely taken a sip of it throughout the night. He only sighed and took a swig to pull a face as he was snapped his laptop closed and  stared across the room at the television on low, actor’s lips moving without sync to his thoughts.

Today Mikkel turned twenty eight, two years older than him. Yet he had been in a hospital for something wrong with him that was severe enough to leave him there for years… It never had come up before, which was weird. They had talked about almost everything; Nils’ depression he had barely gotten through, Mikkel’s exes who had put him through hell, the terror that their lives had been all the way to the lighter topics of Nils’ brother and Mikkel’s Wolfhound.

They had considered themselves friends yet Nils from the start had felt a deeper connection to Mikkel that anyone he had met in a chat room before. Then again when he met anyone else in a chat room, they were usually lying about themselves or were just looking for a lay. Nils… He just wanted someone to talk to. So Mikkel was a saviour when he got that message in return to his threat to report of “Woah now Heafer, I just want to talk, I’m a little too sick at the moment to be looking for someone to mount.”

They were an odd pair, really. Mikkel who had proven to had played sports and fairly popular in school and had gotten to taking after his mother in taking over a company that was in four different continents and fifty countries. Nils who had gone to private school, got top of his class yet had been forced to suffer through an office job while only getting a trip to the coast once a month where he sat back and stared out at the ocean until his cheeks were pink and he couldn’t feel his fingertips. Yet… Nils was currently in Stockholm while Mikkel was Nynäshamn - Nils had a friend who had gotten about helping him with a job after a small fall out with his parents that disabled his ability to use some of the family fortune, Berwald was a bloody saviour; Mikkel had gotten sick while in Sweden, and so far he hadn’t gotten around to sending himself to Copenhagen because he was near his cousin who was for the most part taking care of Mikkel in his sickness - It was just over an hour away at the right time of day.

With a hum, Nils swirled the glass then downed it in one gulp before going to turn up the show again.


Two weeks later, Nils was walking the halls of the hospitals that were too sterile to have a proper smell. He didn’t know why but his heart was clawing up his throat while he clung to the bag he had picked up from a store not far away from the hospital. Already, Nils had spent almost two hours in the hospital's parking lot, eying in the chat on his phone - hey get on im bored here. i know you dont work today. did i say something wrong? i’m sorry… - before he finally had worked up the nerve to enter the building. It didn’t take much to ask for Mikkel’s room, and his heart almost stopped when he entered.

There was Mikkel in his sandy blond wonder, sitting cross legged in a pair of scrubs with a few tubes that slithered up his shirt, his hands folded in his lap and a laptop at his feet. He was talking with a doctor who was running a finger over a chart, looking desperate while Mikkel argued with him.

“I know it is, but I’m not doing it.” Mikkel was saying, almost breathlessly, as he ran his thumb over the side of his hand.
“Mikkel, it’s a chance--” The doctor started only to be interrupted by Mikkel who didn’t even bat an eye at whatever was being offered.
“-That I’m not taking. I’ve done fourteen surgeries since I was twelve, I’m not doing another. They worked for a short time and you see where I’m at now?” He snapped, for a moment making Nils back off with the look on the Dane’s face- brows furrows, chapped lips curled into a scowl, his brilliant blue eyes narrowed, and even if he was sitting cross legged and wearing baby blue scrubs he looked pretty scary.

Lingering the doorway, Nils wasn’t noticed until the doctor was leaving right after that, blinking at Nils for a moment then giving him a look like he was a super hero.

“Be careful not to work him up too much.” Was his greeting, which left him staring after the doctor before looking into the room where Mikkel was already back on the laptop, typing away at what he was assuming was another thing for Luks to read. His smiled at the little fact that he was the first person that Mikkel would go to for anything.

“I think it might be easier to tell me yourself.” Nils spoke up, lifting his chin to give him the courage to speak out louder. Mikkel jumped, snapping his head to look at Nils for a moment, jaw slack and eyes wide as he looked between him and the screen as if he were just realizing it were the same person. They had only really spoke on a call before once, but Mikkel was generally against the idea because of the feedback of his surroundings he would give.

Before he really noticed he was wrapped in a tight one arm embrace, catching the smell of scentless soap that only smelled like the rest of the hospital and something that made him think of white sand beaches and sunny meadows. It took a moment to take in the scent of Mikkel, how good he smelled in general despite having spent all this time in the hospital he still smelled like something free. Nils found himself threading his arms around Mikkel and pulling in tight - he felt the tubes under Mikkels’ shirt, vaguely aware of the pole Mikkel was holding onto with a white knuckle grasp, the machine on it giving off little beeps that told all who could hear that the Dane was still alive.

In that moment he was never more proud of that fact.

When they pulled away, Mikkel leaned on the pole holding a machine that connected to his tubes, grinning toothily and looking as if they were meeting for lunch rather than in his hospital room. Nils took a moment to overlook details pixels couldn’t place: the splash of freckles across his nose and down his neck, the little scar on his cheek and jaw, that bags under his eyes - he hadn’t seen a really recent picture of Mikkel so this wasn’t so surprising - , and the way his hair wasn’t so active as he usually saw it. It hung low and limp in thin dark blond locks, barely brushing his eyes that smiled with him.

Nils declared Mikkel to absolutely to have the best damn smile he had ever seen. Nils jumped with surprise, seeing he was so enticed with the way those chapped lips pulled apart in that smile that made his chest feel fuzzy, when Mikkel gasped dramatically and started to talk, mainly about the way Nils had been smiling. That’s how their weekend got started. For the longest time they stayed up talking, sitting on the bed facing each other just talking like they would in the chatroom. It felt so much more personal - the laughs, the silences that never felt awkward, the way Mikkel would prattled with stories that hooked conversations. Even as Nils ate the pastry that he had gotten Mikkel who claimed he wasn’t permitted to eat solids just yet and allowed him to eat up - it was sad for the Dane because the pastry was extremely well done, but as if he told him that.

Nils, having never been a conversationalist, felt compelled to talk more and more as the hours went on.

It was just until the doctor came in again was the time ruined. “Alright kids, bed time.” He chanted off with a clap, making Mikkel groan but he snapped the laptop shut and set it on the food tray while he nodded for Nils to get off. despite it he winked and looked to the doctor. “Five more minutes, Doc, we’re almost on a breakthrough here.”
“Oh?” the doctor said while pushing his coat away and placing his hands at his hips while raising a brow. “Has he convinced you to take the surgery?”

Mikkel’s playful look disappeared and he shook his head, instead settled himself down and held out his arm that had been housing a needle all day and would for what seemed the rest of the Dane’s life. Nothing more was said about the surgery.

“Do you see what they do to me here, Nils? Drug me up just so I won’t complain.” He started up again as if nothing had brought down his mood. Nils smirked as the doctor gave a sigh.

“Oh yeah, but it’s mainly just to get some quiet. You should see every other day of the week just paging the nurses left and right asking for things like enough pillows for a pillow fort and a bendy straw instead--”

“Now I was being serious about that bendy straw, it’s straight up abuse that I don’t get one.” Mikkel protested, looking as the tube now connected to and of a needle was filled with a clear substance. For a moment Mikkel was silent, only to look over at Nils and flash a goofy grin. It was loopy and totally out of place that Nils couldn’t help but to snatch his phone and snap a picture much too quickly for his own good. The nurse gave him a funny look before smiling herself.

“Bendy straw… very import… port...ort…” Mikkel muttered at the nurse when he caught sight of her, raising a hand to point at her. She nodded with seriousness while gently forcing his hand back down as he faded off. She then went about clearing everything away that could hurt anyone not authorized as the doctor gestured to the bed Nils had made a little seat out of. “You can sleep there tonight if you’d like. I don’t think he would take well to waking up without you here.”

Gentle words that ended with a good night as Nils curled up on his side, facing Mikkel breathing calmly. Even if the nurse had brought him a pillow and blanket, he found himself padding across the cold tile to slip his way into the bed with Mikkel, careful not to disturb anything that he was connected to - once he had fallen asleep they had put a mask that made a gentle hissing noise in it’s own breath, Mikkel breathing in time with it.


It continued like that every other weekend, the chatroom merely becoming a schedule for Nils visiting again and conversation of things they hadn’t been able to talk about last time they were together. For a while there were days Mikkel was on all the time, claiming he couldn’t sleep and he was off medication. Other days he wasn’t on at all. They had for a bit tried to talk on phones but the Dane had said that after a certain hour he couldn’t talk.

Everyday that Mikkel didn’t get on his worry spiked. Nils wondered what it would be like if he got on and there was a message from the hospital saying Mikkel had died. Nils didn’t even know what Mikkel had wrong with him! The other always changed the subject when something of it was brought up, and the doctor couldn’t tell Nils either. It was just one big upsetting dead end after the other when it came to why Mikkel was in the hospital. That is until the weekend that Mikkel finally claimed he wasn’t feeling well.

When Nils got there, the other was much paler than two weeks before, his eyes looking a little more grey than blue this time, and there was pungent stench of puke in the room. Mikkel hadn’t gotten up to greet him, instead only waved from his spot on the bed, trying to look healthy even if he was a bit on the green side.

Conversation didn’t go very far until Nils demanded to know why Mikkel was there. It took a moment before the Dane caved in, sitting up and running a hand through his hair that was growing long enough to reach past the nape of his neck.

“When I was a kid, I got told that I couldn’t eat solid food because my stomach couldn’t decompose food. And then when I got into sports, I got kicked off a few months in because I kept having breathing problems. Finally I got told that my heart was going to give out on me any time now. It’s been fourteen months and still it hasn’t happened. My kidneys went out three months ago, my liver last week.”

Nils saw where this was going. Mikkel’s shoulders had squared and his jaw set, his beautiful ever youthful eyes not leaving his in that moment. It was amazing how he hadn’t noticed the way the other was falling apart all in the time they had known each other. What else was there he didn’t know?

“My left lung is being pumped to keep going all the time now rather than just at night, and the right one is working on being the same. My heart’s still going and my brain hasn’t been in contact with whatever it is yet so there’s always a plus. I mean I know I have a pacemaker but it still counts.” He said it all airly, as if it were to casual to speak of how he was dying, even with that look of sheer terror behind those eyes that usually didn’t let on to anything but joy. Nils’ chest was cold, staring at his lap for so long, the nurse had come in and out to check on Mikkels machines. When they were alone, he looked up to see the Dane doing much of the same action, but his shoulders slumped and hair curtaining his paled face.

With a surge of bravery, Nils reached out and cupped the other’s face and made their eyes connect again. Mikkel’s skin was clammy under his fingers, feeling close to wet paper.the longer he held there. “You’re not dying on me yet, Andersen, so suck it up with what breath you can and march on like the stubborn jackass you are.” His hissed, staring intently between those bright eyes turned grey that lit up with a laugh a few processing seconds later. Their conversation strayed from there, Mikkel grinning like he did though Nils had noticed the way he cut short in sentences to gasp for a breath, the way his hand curled in the left breast of his scrubs and held for a long moment before he continued to speak on or turn back to paying attention. Such actions usually seemed like quirks, just an itch or the feedback from the machines not working in time with the ever energetic Mikkel.


He barely had answered the phone when it rung almost two months later, a formal voice speaking on the other line, slow and carefully worded that had Nils’ sleep riddled mind reeling until he caught the one word that made his sleep fade - Mikkel. He sat in silence at the end of his bed at four in the morning listening to the doctor’s concerned voice about the Dane’s condition.

“He’s alive for one, just in case you’re wondering. It’s just… His pacemaker didn’t catch it in time. He went into cardiac arrest before we had time to see what was wrong with him when he said something about his throat closing up. We were able to get him into surgery but…”

The inevitable ‘but’. The one that held everything of a truth. For a moment, he swore his heart stopped with the word that run through the line for the longest moment of his gut churning with anticipation of what would be said.

“I won’t beat around the bush anymore, but it looks like he won’t come out of the coma he’s in. It’s purely the machines keeping him alive at the moment. His relatives have signed him over to the full care of the hospital at the moment, meaning when we can’t see any hope, we pull the plug.” The doctor had dropped the stiffness in his voice, talking into the voice as if containing tears of his own. Mikkel had been living on the hospital for so long, and many people looked at him for a sort of light. He had a certain way of making people smile just with a lazy “Mornin’” or an actual joke that had the same maturity as a six year old.

Nils had proof of Mikkel confessing his fears, over a screen and in the late nights he woke after he was weaned off medication when he was much healthier - at least when he seemed like it. He had once confessed the fear of having no control over his life, and this was exactly where this was going more so than him living on the unpredictability of his own body. The image crossed his mind of Mikkel in an eternal sleep in a dark room, that messy hair falling into his face, those bright eyes never to catch the light in the way that lit up every part of his face when he smiled.

“He always talked about you when you weren’t here, so I’m not going to be a bad guy here and put a little note down that your opinion is to consider. Rightfully, we can give him the injection now and spare him much more pain. But I hope he wakes up as much as you do, so if you want you can come down here and see about some forms to get your consult down for him or come down here and see his final days through. I can get you numbers of…” The voice grew numb against his ears, his face hot and when some wetness caught on his shirt and stuck to his chest, he realized that he was crying. More than crying; sobbing. He had dropped the phone, clasped his hands over his face and moaned into his palms with the knowledge that Mikkel might not wake up. This was the man who spoke like he could command the sky to come down for him to carry in his pocket, the man who always was thin with hospital wearing on him, but with those broad shoulders and the rare right move of his arm his muscles pulled into a tight hardness that showed he once would had been strong enough to stop a speeding bullet if he wanted. Nils believed it all, hoped for it even that Mikkel could jump off a mountain and get back up with a “let’s go again!”. He had silently rooted for Mikkel to overcome what was wrong with him when he was clueless to how things were for the other.

Yet he had noticed little things in the recent weeks. Mikkel not getting up to greet him anymore, the coughs that rattled deep in his chest and deepened to stretch farther down and scrubbed sandpaper against his throat until he had come up with a bit of blood that he tried to conceal in his fist but always missed a bit much darker than it should had been on his lips. The way machine numbers increased, and others that decreased off and on, the amount of medication he was taking. At first it was a simple dose that set him to sleep, then there was nothing - those were the months of Mikkel raking his hands through his hair and chewing his nails until they bleed and some, the grinding of his teeth the moments he wasn't talking - and then back on a heavier dose that influenced heavier sleeps and came closer together. And then nothing. Again he was showing his withdrawal at the time with more ferocity and yet trying to contain it, even if his twitching fingers and shifting eyes showed how much he wanted to throw something at anyone who got too close, Nils included. He hadn’t been afraid in those times, just sat through the moments while he calmed down to have conversations with what seemed failing hopes of his faults poking through. He played along for the sake of Mikkel’s dignity.

He cried until he felt nothing come anymore, his hands going for the phone and surprised to see the line still connected. When he brought it back to his ear, there were stifled sounds on the other end that were similar to his own.

“I’ll be there in a few hours.” He said simply to the weeping doctor on the other end before hanging up and flopping back once more to stare at the ceiling with trembling limbs with the threat of tears that never came.


It was a week before there was any progress. Nils refused to let the hospital do anything, and most seemed relieved with his firm command of such. He saw the looks of pity from others while he sat in the bed with a sleeping Mikkel, looking just like he thought of in every mind’s eye. His hair was longer though, past his shoulders in an ashy blond after being refused sunlight for so long, streaked with fine lines of grey - he had been told stress from his recent withdrawal caused that part - that felt course against his fingers, almost like it were ready to blow away in the wind.

Over the days, Nils curled up in the bed next to the still Mikkel, his chest rising and falling with the purrs of the large machine with pumps that hid halfway behind the bed and confessed things he hadn’t told anyone else. How he had stolen toys when he was younger because he had been told no, his fear of coming out to his parents when they had him situated in a private school that didn’t take well to the kind of thing and how they still don’t know he has no intention of moving beyond a night in bed with a girl. All else that might had lowered the esteem Nils had built up for himself, confessing it all to the forced life of Mikkel. Before he knew it, late on the fifth night he had said it before he knew what had happened. “I don’t know why, but over the time since I meet you in that chat… Just it feels like my life is brighter. I don’t know how, you’re a doofus and you’ve taken every spare second of my mind, and I find myself thinking about you… About us. I know you can’t hear me but this really helps me at least, knowing you’re still in there probably and I can’t regret it when I say I love you.” His voice wavered at that moment, and his fell into silence, his ear ringing with the deaf heard confession. It wasn’t a lie. He couldn’t imagine a world without Mikkel, every time he did things turned grey and desolate. He had little visions of a healthy Mikkel, them living together in that shabby little apartment Nils called home, cuddling on the couch, making dinner side by side, sleeping in the same bed wider than elbow to elbow. Of course some things dipped a little deeper infused in a domestic life, but there was also the prospect of them getting married, adopting, growing old together. At a point long ago, he wondered what Mikkel would look like when he was old and grey - he concluded with soft feature with wrinkles of kindness and ashy hair that fluffed up against his will. And then came the thought of their domestic life with two kids from some orphanage locally or across the world that were loved unconditionally and taught to be whatever they wanted to be with Mikkel’s stubborn nature and Nils’ sarcastic retorts to most anything. He could almost see the four of them cuddled up in bed on a cold night after nightmares and jealousy of getting to sleep with Daddy and Papa, cold feet against his stomach or thighs while him and Mikkel shared a pathetic look over the little angel’s heads that despite their cuddling or whatnot was interrupted, they had a wondrous little family they wouldn’t had traded for the universe.

But that was nothing more than a mindless fantasy. Mikkel wasn’t healthy. He never had been. He was untouchable that way, like a god. Nils could admire and image all he wanted but Mikkel was destined to never be his. It was the rough fact he had learned to grasp and hold onto through the storm.


Eight days. Eight days and those eyes cracked, monitors bursting with life within seconds of Mikkel groaning blinking widely at Nils’ at his side who stared back with the same expression, his chest soaring widely as he saw those tired grey-blue eyes soften at the look at him. He had to escape though, for the nurses and doctors that came to take the tube out from down his throat, replacing it with a mask that made him breath just as forcefully, his monitors changed, and miniscule tests taken. For a moment he saw the look in Mikkel’s eyes of an abandoned child, his hand reaching out for Nils who moved away half behind the bed and held the frail hand in his, icey cold with scabbed nails and purple tinge from the cold.

It had turned out that Mikkel’s lungs had started to totally fail him. He wore the thick mask that huffed and sighed each second that made the thin chest of the Dane rise and fall. He had been completely restricted to bed - it wasn’t like he could get up anyway, there was some muscle failure climbing his left leg at the toes all the way up that would had been amputated if not for the fact Mikkel had denied getting anything of the sort done. It was almost like he had signed everything out to make his death come quicker despite himself - the refusal of another proper surgery, no amputations, no transplants. It broke Nils’ heart to know he was so ready to go. But truly in the mute moments with Mikkel, he saw the dead look in his eyes each time they connected gazes, the blond’s attempt at a smile and the Dane unable to declare his return behind the foggy mask that had become apart of him in the two weeks he had been awake.

He knew what had to be done the night he woke up a quart past two to a muffled sobs. Nils hadn’t moved much but looked up at the Dane, propped against a dozen pillows his eyes clamped shut with thick tears in his thin lashes slipping down to his cheeks to the scrubs freshly changed and no longer holding any resemblance to the salty beach air Mikkel had once smelled like.

He reeked of hospital - medicine, rubbing alcohol, and death.  


The next morning was more silence, the tube that went to Mikkel’s stomach was beige today - must had been oatmeal. Or scrambled eggs. It was hard to tell and Mikkel had been long since taken off actual food, giving it names at this point was nothing more than something to call it more than artificial nutrients. The other no longer made those attempts to meet his eyes with that dead look that made the little pieces of his shattered heart break into a million more each second they caught their gazes.

Suddenly, from his chair next to the bed, Nils couldn’t restrain speaking in a gentle tone like he would to a child. “Mikkel…” He started, getting that look but trudging on despite it. “Do you want to die?”

That was it. There was no one sided conversation about afterlife, the life that was only figuratively there beyond this. Much to his surprised, Mikkel raised a hand, quivering slightly as almost translucent skin tightened slightly while he raised four fingers to him, then swirled his index finger through the air a few times. It took a moment to catch on before Nils sighed and sat back in his chair.

‘For a while ’.

“When can I call the doctor to end it?” He asked again, gentler, barely above a whisper that rose over the machines. Mikkel made another gesture, his index finger jabbing against his right thigh with his brows knit tightly and his eyes like glass.


Nils sighed, but got up and shuffled through the halls in search of the doctor who was mid sentence when Nils bumped his head against the man’s shoulder and they stood silently in the bustling hall until Nils muttered the request and they excused themselves to go separate ways. Nils returned to the room, the doctor went to find out the request to end Mikkel’s life legally.

The next day, Nils sat stiffly in his usual chair, the bed laid flat before him, the machines around him clicking off one at a time, watching the way the man before him gasped for breath even with the help of the machine that pumped air through the mask. His eyes had closed a while ago, his skin seeming to glow in the dim light of the small dank room, Nils mere rubbing his fingers over the exaggerated bones under the thin skin littered with freckles, scabs, and dark red spots that had started to appear after he woke up.

The fingers hand long since lost the strength to hold his hand, only a mere twitch coming into play as he watched the mask be pulled away from Mikkel’s face for the first time since he woke up. Around his nose and jaw was swollen slightly, his lips a dark blue and chapped to no end. But yet, as he watched his chest rise and fall for the final few times, each agonizingly slow and rattling in the man’s throat as it escaped past his lips. It happened three time… four… five before it was almost not noticeable and Nils got up to brush away the loose strands of pale hair.

In that moment he remembered it all; the nights curled up in bed staring at his screen with the {Mikkel is typing} before there was some stupid message that he snipped back at and went on for the entirety of the night. The first time he came to visit that felt so long ago, wrapped in those strong arms woven into the warm smell of beaches and forests in late summer. The long conversations consulting the universe for answers but settling for their own skepticism instead. The games they played over the computer when Nils should had been working, swearing he would win, alas no match for Mikkel’s sport of games he had plenty of time to practice in the hospital. The cuddling because Mikkel prefered to have something to hug when they took him off his medications, the swipes of hair, the talk of the past, future, where they wanted to be at the moment - every god damned second he had shared with a dying man who wanted to end it even with Nils in his life.

He felt selfish for thinking that Mikkel wanted such things, but he had to consider this was Mikkel. If he got any better he would leave the hospital and come live with Nils if things went right, but so much effort would be in place for his care; sleeping machines, special foods, injections just to get him going in the morning. Nils didn’t think he could do it in that context. An even more selfish part cursed the Dane for being sick in the first place, and his wanted to raise his hand to slap the remaining life from his body. Just to show how fragile the man's life was in the first place. But even as he raised his hand, it only tenderly settled at his collar, where calm baby blue scrubs met clammy skin, and he bent over, his lips brushing those dry chapped lips carefully, catching the barely there breath against his lips that lingered for a moment before things went silent. The heart monitor beeped in a monotone before a gentle click silenced it, leaving the room mute for the first time ever in Nils’ time being there.

Mikkel laid still, no warmth in his skin, and those bright eyes never to catch light again. His teeth would no longer show off in a grin that he gave to every snippy response. His heart would no longer rhythmically beat a bass drum to fall asleep to. That chest would never rise again by force of a machine puffing air to his lungs. But Nils held one thing dear that no one else ever would - the taste of his final breath.