A/N: This is going to be a three-part story, each part dealing with Anders' attempts to maneuver his way around his growing attachment to Mitchell, with various degrees of un-success :D
There was a problem. Or more precisely, Mitchell was a problem, and Anders prided himself in solving these. There was a whiff of desperation about him. Chaotic, hungry desperation that would hide in the plain side of smiles and dismissive 'nothings' Mitchell was so good at. Anders would lie if he said he didn't admire that quality of his. Still, the mess of it, the eyeblink-long swings from the elevated ups to the crushing downs tended to evoke dangerous feelings, and Anders couldn't afford being influenced this way. He was the one influencing people, bending them to his will, showing them a different dimension of life. Mortals. They were only too willing to be shown things, but taking the post-seeing responsibility... somehow, that particular aspect was met with little enthusiasm. Now, for the first time in his life, Anders was able to relate. In part, it amused him, but that part was dishearteningly easily squashed by yet another, bigger, one.
Mitchell was his addiction, and, in Anders' experience, addictions never ended well. Was it also grimly ironic that his powers failed to take their hold of Mitchell's consciousness? Anders supposed it was. They'd made a game out of it, he and Mitchell. Usually, he took no pleasure in falling repeatedly on his ass, but somehow, refusing Mitchell wasn't an option. Not that he'd offered directly. Instead, he'd hinted, thrown little, but steadily biting challenges for Anders to pick up. And although Anders wasn't a God of games, his love of winning was just as powerful as any god's (and certainly more powerful than Mike's). So what was the point of playing an unwinnable game? He didn't know the answer, and he wasn't exactly frantic in seeking it, either.
If there was one thing Anders knew about pleasure is that it was designed to be enjoyed, not avoided. And Mitchell had been giving him plenty of that. Straightforward, mind-boggling pleasure that would leave them both breathless, in part from exhaustion, but also from the relentless, exponentially increasing desire that would hunt them until they got a complete fill. Which was… never? Anders could recall no instance when they were completely satisfied. And that peculiarity wasn't solely confined to the physical side of their relationship. No. That would've been too easy. After all, physical needs could be deceived in a number of ways. Change the pace, displace, avoid committing. In the rare (very rare) instances of failure those were the rules Anders used. Axl's punishment-taboo, however harsh and unfair, had to be dealt with and, ideally, in such a way as to avoid losing his mind. Yes, he might have turned to abusing his powers at some point, but what was the harm? He'd gotten his fill of pleasure and no one was harmed in the process. Well, mostly. There were some unfortunate incidents, but they weren't entirely his fault. The point was that the problem was solved.
With Mitchell, all of that turned to ash. With him, physical always included emotional, and that was where things got messy and, as a result, unmanageable. Apparently, one needed a new set of rules while approaching a vampire, and Anders was not proud to admit that he hasn't quite worked these out yet. He'd tried, though, with various results.
Anders didn't major in psychology, but he couldn't be a God of poetry and know nothing about the power of wording things. His brothers seemed to think that it was all about the charm and smiling in the right places. He couldn't entirely deny that, but there was more.
There were thousand ways to say something. Sometimes (especially when under a lot of pressure) he wasn't quite sure how he chose one way over the other. But often enough it has been a pretty much conscious knowledge. So after failing… no, he really detested that word. After trying not-quite-successfully to use his instincts, Anders decided to approach the matter in a conscious manner. The results were rather unexpected.
Out of his three rules, only one held, and that was also shaky at best. A change of pace was usually easy, but considering that Mitchell was generally the one to set it in the first place, Anders had to fight off his influence first. And that… involved certain complications.
The dull sound of the door was the first sign. Not quite angry, but also not entirely calm. Hyped up. Easily distracted.
He'd need some serious supply of patience to go through this.
The clinking of keys was the second sign. When comfortable emotionally, Mitchell tended to become more organized, or rather it became more effortless for him. Stress did exactly the opposite, turning his chaotic tendencies into even more chaos. Anders wasn't exactly organized himself, he'd be the first one to scoff at that suggestion, but in Mitchell that quality, or rather the shift between its degrees, was almost demonstrative. Anders enjoyed watching him, but most of all he enjoyed drawing conclusions.
Now, for instance, instead of putting his keys in his pocket, as he usually did, Mitchell had thrown them on the counter, which most certainly meant irritation. But also a slight lack of awareness of his own actions. That last promised to be… well, 'promising' was just the word to use.
Anders shook his head and told himself to focus. If he was to make this successful, he had to focus. Which was kind of hard, considering that his nap was interrupted in the rudest manner possible. Impatience. And quite a healthy dose of it. Or not-healthy. Generally, Anders didn't mind impatience, it was often very pleasantly refreshing, but Mitchell's impatience tended to be contradictory at times. He liked the good kind, but not really fancied the bad one.
"So you're home? Great."
Mitchell gave him a small nod and lowered himself on the chair, never quite taking his eyes off the keys.
Anders was beginning to feel rather impatient himself.
"Want to talk?"
Mitchell shook his head abruptly, still not meeting Anders' eyes.
"Can I have some water?"
At these words Anders' suspicions were completely and undeniably confirmed. They were going to have that kind of talk. The kind where Mitchell played his 'everything is fine' game and Anders pretended to believe him. Sometimes Anders wondered if Mitchell's talents could rival Mike's. But it wasn't even a real question because he knew that the answer was 'no'. Mitchell words might have been misleading, but his body language was expressive. Too expressive, in fact. Too... human. Whereas a God's power was absolute and, therefore, didn't allow for any emotional holes. Mostly. He was a living and breathing exception to that rule but he supposed that all rules, however perfect, had their exceptions. 'Otherwise, boredom would be far more probable,' came the unwelcomed thought and he brushed it away. He clearly wasn't bored now.
Mitchell drank his water in the predictable silence. No impatience. No hurry. It was almost measured in its slowness. Almost... reserved?
Anders found himself watching him intently, trying to gauge the next move. He was definitely enjoying the game. Or was it the Bragi side of him? He wasn't sure. He wasn't even sure if his Bragi side was still 'conscious' in Mitchell's presence.
Mitchell put down his glass and fingered his hair, suddenly looking anything rather than reserved. Anders felt an unidentifiable pang in his chest. It wasn't pleasant, but it was still keeping him in the moment, which was good. With Mitchell, it was only too easy to get lost.
Not quite realizing why, Anders poured him yet another glass of water. He knew, the likelihoid of it being drunk was low, but it kept him busy, distracting him from the need to ask and to wonder. Both were counterproductive anyway.
The familiar hand-to-head movement seemed to relax Mitchell. He stopped fidgeting and something resembling determination entered his eyes.
"How do you do that? The managing thing? How do you make them follow you?"
Anders felt his eyebrows shot up. That wasn't what he expected... not even nearly.
If his Bragi powers worked on Mitchell, it'd be the time to apply them. To change the pace. To soothe and plant the idea into a gullible mind. It was an attractive thought, too attractive to resist. And Anders found himself trying despite the unconsoling list of previous... un-results. Mitchell could, and would, resist. But was there no way? No way at all? Anders realized that he couldn't live a fulfilling life without at least trying to solve that riddle.
Impatience. Sudden, anger-fueled determination. He had to treat softly.
"What does it take? Well, good charms, for starters. Like mine, only..."
"Less god-like". The words never made it to his throat as Mitchell screwed his face in exasperation.
"I don't need a... pep talk. I get enough of these from George."
An attempt number one, failed. If Mitchell just keeps interrupting him, he will never be able to test his theories in reality. And theoretical testing was gradually losing its appeal. He didn't that kind of fixation around, his fixation on Mitchell was engaging enough.
"Look, I got this new... position. And people look up to me, which means..."
Anders has always liked having one of these 'aha' moments. And it seemed he wasn't so far from experiencing one now.
"- that you need to teach them about the 'looking up' part first,"
For a short moment, Mitchell's face relaxed, as if he has finally allowed himself to believe what he was hearing.
The chuckle was weak and shaky, but it was there.
He had to be doubly careful now. A brand new made vampire leader. What was he even getting into? It couldn't be good. The subtle prickle of foreboding didn't help, so Anders brushed it away and directed his attention at the task at hand. How many more discoveries was he going to make?
"Well, there are different kinds of management. Some are more extr... authoritarian than others."
Extreme? Definitely not the best way to word it. He wondered if Mitchell noticed the slip.
"Are you asking me about restoring to violence?"
'Restoring to violence'? Part of Anders' mind was amused by how old-fasioned that sounded, while another part was trying to figure out the correct way to answer. He couldn't deny that altogether because it'd be too obvious a lie. At the same time, agreeing would mean the end of the conversation. Not all future conversations. Mitchell would still come to him and share in his unique manner, but today's chance would've been lost.
"I am not asking you. I'm just saying."
Choosing form over content. A distracting maneuver. Would it work, though?
Mitchell clearly wanted to share, but he didn't want to appear too eager about it. He couldn't share with his flatmates. And he had no other friends to rely on. Which left him with but one choice.
The thought was strangely dissatisfying, but Anders had no desire to start questioning his own emotional responses and complicate things further.
Mitchell gave him a slightly amused glance and began to pace.
"Suppose I have to? Occasionally, but forcefully enough to bring the expected impact."
'Bring the expected impact.' It never failed to amaze Anders how impersonal Mitchell's speech could become when he was trying to alleviate emotions and apply his reasonable side. That was almost humorous, although Anders didn't think it would be wise to voice that opinion.
Now, he had two options. He could either be honest and say that he has no idea how the vampire world works. But that would be a dumb thing to say. Clearly, Mitchell had to understand that. Humans didn't go around drinking each other's blood, vampires did, and that was a crucial distinction that inevitably touched other spheres of existence. Similarly, human leaders differed from vampire leaders, so any advice he could potentially offer would be in vain anyway. The godly side of his personality wouldn't help, either, because Mitchell still remained a vampire, not a God. Mitchell, a God? The mere thought was disturbing, although Anders couldn't even explain why.
There was but one way out of this.
"Hey, listen. You've defeated the bad guy, right? And now you're facing some problems, maybe even some post-victory depression. That's only natural. Just do what you have to and let it pass."
Mitchell wasn't looking at him, as if unable to bear the reference to his epic face off with the King of Vampires. He wasn't even sure there was any post-victory satisfaction to begin with. For all his self-confidence, Mitchell could never fully contain the edge of defensive vulnerability simmering through. In part, that was amusing, but it also made Anders' head uncomfortably light. Chaotic.
Suddenly, he wanted to touch. To feel the warmth under his fingers.
Mitchell stopped pacing, froze for a few seconds and lowered himself in the chair with almost excessive caution, as if every move caused him pain.
Anders stepped closer, his fingers found the tousled hair and tugged at it slightly. He wasn't entirely sure why he was doing that. Playing with someone's hair wasn't exactly among his top priorities under natural circumstances. But Mitchell was here. And Anders' fingers seemed to have developed a will of their own.
Clearly enjoying the head massage, Mitchell let out a long sigh and relaxed. Anders battled with the feeling of ridiculous satisfaction rising somewhere in his chest, but it wasn't a winning battle.
"Are trying to use your powers on me?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Maybe to shut me up?"
"Even if so, these are Anders powers, not Bragi powers, so you have nothing to be concerned about."
This time, Mitchell's chuckle was more fleshed out, more alive.
It seemed his 'Anders power application' operation ended up being a success. In truth, he hated the name, but it would have to do for now, until he came up with a more suitable one. Anyway, he had more interesting things to worry about.
A restricting grasp on his hand took him by surprise. Didn't Mitchell like shoulder massages? In this case, they would have to find a mutually acceptable compromise.
No? He wanted to think that it was one of these technicalities Mitchell was so ridiculously keen on. A strange position. Too much talk, whatever. That would've been sorted out relatively quickly. But Mitchell's voice was neither petulant nor playful. It had a steely quality in it. Cold, inflexible steel. He had it directed at him… how many times? He could hardly count. Usually, he had the time of his life by turning it to dust with the use of his Bragi powers. With Mitchell, that was obviously off the table. Just like with his brothers. The association created an unexpectedly bitter taste in his mouth.
So, now he was the one listening and obeying?
"Yeah, sorry for touching you. What was I even thinking? Should I just let you sit quietly and drink water? Would that be more entertaining?"
Mitchell's detached expression gave out, replaced by flashing eyes, and Anders felt a surge of satisfaction curse through him.
"I don't need to be entertained, Anders."
"Clearly not. What you need is to snap out of it and stop acting like a-"
Mitchell's look froze the words in his mouth. Anyway, the message was received, so there was no point in driving it further. And it had nothing to do with the fact that the temperature in the room seemed to drop a few degrees. Apparently, some kinds of cold could be inflicted without Ty's help.
"Like who? A vampire? A killer? Don't hold back. No one else does."
"Actually, what I meant was a drama queen. Well, the initial version included a little more swearing, probably."
Mitchell visibly struggled with a smile, but then his face fell, as if he suddenly remembered something.
"It's not a laughing matter," he muttered, leaning his head on the wall.
For a moment, Anders thought he was going to do more than that. Probably punch it through. Instead, Mitchell closed his eyes.
"I am all these things, Anders. I am. I had killed people, and I am going to kill again. You should know that. You should-"
Stay away from me. He'd seen enough concerned looks directed his way to recognize these silent words. And yet, ridiculously illogical, it was Mitchell who kept coming back. It was Mitchell who kept bringing chaos in his life. The truth of it was just as frequent and relentless as these visits. And he could resist neither.
Mitchell pushed himself from the wall and shook his head, as if tired from the absurdity of it all. Anders could relate only too well.
Usually, when he was not alowed to touch he lost interest altogether. What he didn't do was acquire an insatiable longing. He was half-tempted to congratulate himself. One more of his rules, bended, distorted by Mitchell.
A light brush of warmth wasn't nearly enough. For anything. And yet, he still took it. And he still coudn't get enough. At that point, his mind was indifferent to any whispered truth but one. He would do everything his power to return that sparkle to Mitchell's eyes. Because sparkle meant warmth and he could bear no more cold.
A change of pace? The only change involved his uneven, shallow breathing and the traces of fingers still burning on his skin. No. Mitchell was a hopeless case, and so was he.