AN: *Insert apology for being late here*
I really need to stop saying I will update this thing, because I clearly can't live up to my promise. So here we are, around six months since last chapter, and all I have is a filler OTL Well, I'll see if I can get this story up and running again…
Egypt found Norway walking aimlessly in the desert. At first Gupta believed it was just another tourist lost, but when he came closer, he recognized the nation. By then the Norwegian was suffering from severe sunburn, the shirt he wore did little to protect his Nordic skin against the deadly UV rays, and an inevitable heatstroke. Gupta was shocked to see Norway in his desert... after all the ruckus Denmark had caused when he noticed his beloved Nor were missing, Gupta had believed the Norwegian had grown tired of the Dane and left to hide somewhere in order to have some peace. Never had he imagined finding him here.
He was quick to dismount the camel and run over to the bewildered Scandinavian who immediately collapsed in his arms. Egypt was familiar with the symptoms of sunburn and heatstroke, and immediately wrapped his cloak around the Nordic.
"You have some guts walking around here," he grumbled as he hoisted Norway into his arms. Norway looked confused, his blue eyes looking at him without recognition. "And you just ruined my day... now we have to hurry you to the hospital." He mounted his camel with an ease and grace the Europeans could only dream of. With expert eyes, Gupta saw the clear signs of dehydration. Grunting in annoyance, he got the camel into action. Time was really of the essence now. It was far to Alexandria; but it was the closest city with a hospital.
He secured Norway and the reigns in one hand, while his other dug into his robes to find his satellite phone. He pressed it against his ear and waited impatiently for his boss to pick up. Once he had noted his boss about his discovery, his next call was to alert Alexandria main University hospital about their arrival.
During this call, Norway slipped into a state of such confusion he began to hallucinate. His eyes seemed to be fixed at a point through the Egyptian as he frantically called out for Iceland. As Gupta interpreted it, Norway was seeing his brother disappearing, for his cries became more and more desperate. He continued his cries until his body suddenly heaved, temporarily silencing the confused Norwegian as gastric acid filled his mouth.
Egypt frowned in disgust, almost feeling the urge to vomit himself, as he helped Norway sit up. As the desert "ended" and the city of Alexandria began, he could see several ambulances and medical staff waiting for him. He happily handed the sunburned Nordic into the waiting arms of the doctors. The Norwegian was given immediate emergency treatment at the spot, before thrown into an ambulance and driven to the hospital.
Watching the howling ambulance, Gupta wondered if he should call Denmark and tell him he had found Norway, but a medic turned to him and asked if he wanted a ride to the hospital. The medic had no idea who Gupta was, but obviously saw him as a friend of the patient. With a shrug, Gupta dismounted and joined the medics in the ambulance.
At the hospital, Norway was rushed into the Emergency department and into a Staff Only room. Though Gupta was told later by a nurse that the Nordic had slipped into coma. Needless to say, it was both good and bad news he told Denmark when he made the call. The Dane sounded relieved once he learned the location of his friend, but Egypt could hear the sound of his heart skipping a few beats once Denmark learned what condition he was in.
Denmark, Sweden and Finland landed in Alexandria International Airport the day after. After the doctors had reassured Norway was out of danger, the three Nordics drew three chairs around the unconscious Norwegian and waited patiently for their friend to wake up.
He woke up two days later, the sensation of blisters covering most of his upper torso provided a painful experience when he tried to shift. Finland rushed out to fetch the doctors, who in turn ushered the remaining two nations out of the room. Once they had deemed Norway fit for visitors, they opened the door for Denmark asking the other two wait for their turn.
Denmark carefully stepped into the room, watching Norway intently as if he was afraid he would disappear again. "I... uh..." The loud Dane was abruptly speechless once he laid his eyes on his best friend. His blue eyes and arms were covered by white bandages, a breathing mask covered his mouth, and the little skin visible was red and swollen. Various tubes went from his hands attached to small upside down bags containing a transparent liquid.
"How do you feel?" he eventually blurted out, mentally scolding himself immediately afterwards for ask such a retarded question.
Norway shrugged, and winced in pain as his sunburned skin stretched. "That bad, huh?" Denmark smirked, trying to ease the situation as he walked further into the room. "Listen, I..." the smirk disappeared and was replaced by a very rare serious expression. "We need to talk about Iceland."
He halted, fidgeting with his sleeve. "Eysteinn... I- we have tried calling him, but he won't answer. Even after his island of a nation went haywire."
At this he saw Norway clench his jaws, but he remained silent. "Nor, I won't lie to you, it's a mess. Those volcanoes of his, Ejya-something-something, Katla, Askja and Krafla just had major eruptions at once. Most of the Icelanders have fled t- hey, you with me?" A monitor had begun to beep loudly; several doctors had rushed in moments after, while a nurse had asked Denmark to kindly step outside. Finland, and even Sweden, looked worried as the Dane exited the room and came walking towards them. He shook his head with a sigh and fell into a chair on the opposite side of the pair.
Egypt visited later, asking how Norway was doing. His question was met with three gloomy, worried and anxious expressions which provided a most suitable answer. He found himself a chair in the waiting room they had occupied and tried to tell them Norway was going to be all right. Only Finland seemed to truly believe him, Denmark had grinned and nonchalantly replied that his Norge would never have the guts to die without his permission, but Gupta could see that the Dane's eyes told the opposite. Sweden didn't even try.
The fourth day after Norway's arrival, the doctors declared him stable enough to remove the bandages in the evening, but kept the breathing mask on.
When Norway opened his eyes, the light stung horribly in his eyes. He closed them immediately and decided that squinting was a better idea. Through small cracks, Norway scanned the room he was in. It was a hospital room... but how had he ended up here...? The last memory he had, was of heat, pain and an endless horizon of sand.
And just why was he in the deser- ... oh. Oh. Realisation struck him as the memories of Eysteinn and Gilbert resurfaced. He felt a cold hand grip around his heart and his breath hitched as his vision filled with tears. Failed.
Oh God, why hadn't he died in the desert? Why had he been so weak? Why hadn't he waited for Denmark, Sweden and Finland to back him up? Why, why, why, wh-
A voice to his left made him open his eyes fully and turn his head. Denmark was sitting in a chair next to him, but judging from the lines in his face, he had rested his head on the bed. Norway hastily blinked away his tears.
"God morgen kære. Har du sovet godt?"
Denmark. Mads. Always a cliché ready whenever you need it. Norway only pursed his lips. "What time is it…?" he managed to rasp, his own voice sounding strange and muffled to his ears. "Err… I would say around four in the morning? The last time I checked it was half past one, but I fell asleep…"
Norway knew that Mads tried very hard keep himself from asking what he had done. Though he was sure Mads had seen the message Gilbert left behind. Norway actually felt himself appreciating the effort from the Dane… he wasn't just yet ready for questions of his rash actions.
"Hey, you okay? You want me to fetch the nice lookin' nurse for ya?"
Tears were dimming his vision and he blinked rapidly as he gently shook his head. He swallowed and grimaced in pain as he tried to keep himself from coughing. "Okay, jeez, just go back to sleep or something… you still look terrible. Not to worry though! I'll be right here when you wake up." He flashed Norway a charming grin as he put his hand on Norway's hand.
The touch stung to Norway, but he kept his mouth shut. For once not in a mood to argue, he closed his eyes but the image of the Albino wouldn't disappear from his mind.
The next sensation he felt was cold water against his bare skin. He could barely remember the trip to the great bathroom, and he couldn't even recall his clothes being stripped away.
Glancing to his left he saw a white clad doctor monitoring a screen, and to his left he saw a male nurse helping him sit down in the cold water. Though they had let him keep his undergarments on, he still felt a little awkward. Not to mention cold!
The sensation made him draw short gasps of air as he tried instinctively tried to keep his arms above the freezing water. When had he ever felt this cold? He, Norway, could easily put on his swim suit and go ice bathing in January.
"I know it is cold, but please try to keep your hands below the surface." The nurse talked softly with a heavy Arabic accent. Norway clenched his jaws to prevent his teeth from clattering as he slowly lowered his arms into the water. Why, exactly, was he here?
"W-w-why a-am I h-h-h-here?" he managed to stutter through clattering teeth. He focused his attention on the doctor monitoring the screen, now with a notepad in his hands, but it was the nurse who answered. "It is for the pain. Because of your third degree sunburn you need painkillers twenty-four seven. But, there are different forms of pain relievers. Cold baths, for example, not only has a cooling effect, but it also cleans your wounds."
"B-b-but c-c-couldn't it b-b-e a t-tad bit w-warmer?" Damn his clattering teeth, his speech was growing limited…
"Oh? And here I thought you Norwegians were cold resistant?" the nurse jested as he put a finger into the water. "Well, the temperature is just how it's supposed to be. You're only a little sensitive to temperatures because of your sunburn."
Little sensitive? Good grief, this water had to be below freezing temperature! He closed his eyes and focused on breathing through the nose. Slowly and gradually, he managed to still his clattering teeth. "Just relax," the nurse said softly, "lean back if that makes it more comfortable for you." Shifting his arms slightly, Norway experienced no pain. Exhaling in relief, he leaned backwards to rest his head on the edge of the tub.
He must have dozed off, because it felt like mere seconds after he had closed his eyes the doctor ordered the nurse to help him out of the tub. With water soaking the tiles, the Norwegian shivered slightly as the nurse slowly patted Norway's body with a soft towel.
Once the nurse deemed Norway dry, he helped him into a simple morning gown before heading back to Norway's room. To his surprise, Denmark, Sweden and Finland were waiting there for him.
"When did you get here?" he asked once he was back in his bed and the nurse out of the room. Denmark's eyebrows furrowed in concentration as his brain set into work, but it was Finland that answered. "Five days ago, the day after you arrived here."
What? He had been here for six days? "Ah… but you have been unconscious most of the time," Finland added hastily as he noticed the confused expression of his friend. "You don't remember?" the Dane asked quizzically, "but the doctors said you were conscious a couple days ago, and you woke up in the middle of the night too. You don't remember anything of that?"
Norway shook his head. The first real memory he had since he saw Gilbert leaving him behind in the desert, was the cold bath fifteen minutes ago. Oh wait, Gilbert.
"We have tried to contact Iceland as well," Finland continued cautiously, "but he hasn't been answering his phone. Not once all these six days… but we just thought he is going through a really hard time right no-"
"What really hard time?" Norway interrupted, his eyes suddenly growing cold and hard. The three Nordics glanced at each other, as if they wondered who would have the guts of telling the tale. "I… told you earlier," Denmark hesitated, "back when you had your eyes covered and-"
"Get to the point." Norway deadpanned. Finland bit his lip and reached out for Sweden's hand. Denmark took a breath, before meeting his best friend's eyes. "The island is going haywire. It's even worse than we originally thought. It started with the largest ones, but as of recently the smaller volcanoes are showing signs of growing activity too."
Denmark looked at his best friend with the same rare serious expression he had used earlier. "The Icelanders are fleeing the country, Norge. Ash fills the air, airports all over Europe have shut down again, the glaciers are melting and the ocean level is rising. Some experts say it's only a matter of time before the country will be reclaimed by the sea."
Norway felt his head fall back to rest on the pillow. So this was the result of Eysteinn dying. The island itself would just cease to exist. He felt a lump grow in his throat, but he swallowed angrily and forced the tears away.
"My government have done their best to help the Icelanders seeking refugee, so have yours... but your government is, how should I put this... struggling." Denmark continued to look at Norway with a serious expression, his arms crossed. "Ever since your Prime Minister was murdered, your nation has been in turmoil. It appears they are unsure what to do, except having the police and Interpol search everyone and everything." The way he emphasised the last word told him clearly that his government was fumbling in the dark.
Norway closed his eyes. It was too much too early. He needed Iceland right now. Iceland would know exactly what to say to make him feel better... but Iceland wasn't here. And his murderer was still running free.
"Is that why you ran away, Håvard?" Denmark asked quietly. "Did you try to take on your Prime Minister's killer on your own...?"
No. No. He wanted to speak up, but he found his lips sealed and his voice withered away. "Mads," Finland said quietly, "don't start this yet."
"What?" the Dane replied annoyed, "I just want an answer as to why the Egyptian police wanted me to answer their theories of Håvard being kidnapped and tortured!"
Say what? Norway looked up at the Dane. "Yeah, that's right!" Denmark continued, his voice rising until he was standing on his feet, "they came right up to me yesterday, having been called by this hospital. Apparently, the medic team have noticed some very unusual bruises and wounds on your body. Around your wrists and ankles, for example!"
He nodded towards Norway's wrists, and the owner was quick to raise his hands. Denmark was right, red and violet contrasted greatly against his pale skin... how had he not noticed this earlier?
"You know what I told them?" Denmark continued loudly, his arms gesticulating wildly. "I told them I had no idea what you had been up to. My best friend was in hospital in freakin' Egypt and I. didn't. know. why!" Denmark took a couple steps towards the bed, "You know for how long I've tried to find you? Nine days. For nine hellish days I had no idea where you were. If you were in need of help, if you were dying, if you had been captured."
Seeing Denmark like this was really strange. What had happened with his carefree happy-go-lucky friend? He hadn't seen Denmark like this since World War II. "And furthermore, I can't believe you ran away when your government needs you the most! Your Prime Minister was murdered, and you just left? Hell, if Eysteinn was here I'm just he would be just as angr-"
That was enough. How dared he mention Iceland now, in this context? Feeling his emotions burst through his carefully created apathetic mask, Norway - for once - gladly let it flow.
"But Eysteinn isn't here anymore!" He snapped, even louder than the Dane. "Yes, I left when my Prime Minister was killed but you don't recon I did it for a reason?" He poured every emotion he had locked up in one sentence. The sudden atmosphere drop left Norway with the sensation of the air tingling around him.
Denmark scowled. "Then why won't you tell us the reason – tell me – why you left!" Narrowed cobalt blue eyes locked with cold cornflower ones, but it was Finland who broke the tension by standing up. "Where are ye goin'?" Sweden asked calmly, watching as Finland picked up his mobile phone. "Going to call Iceland again," he muttered back as he went through his contacts.
Norway winced and looked away from the Dane. "What?" Denmark questioned, refusing to let his best friend escape from his penetrating gaze. "Eysteinn... won't answer."
"I'm sorry, what?" The Dane questioned again, his voice no more than a hiss. "How do you know?" Finland halted in his tracks, his left hand on the door handle, the right still clutching his mobile phone. He looked now even more worried. "Because Eysteinn is dead."