When they arrived back at the lodge, Walt took Mitch to the master suite as he and Coach had agreed. Walt easily carried Mitch into the master bedroom and laid him on the huge bed. Mitch had occasionally muttered a few unintelligible things in the short trip from the cave to the lodge. At one point his eyes were wide open, but he was clearly out of it, his body focusing trying to rebuild the lost blood supply.
"What do we do now, Vic?" Walt said turning to Coach who was stubbing out his cigar in an ashtray on the night stand.
"Well, first let's get him out of those clothes and into the shower, get him cleaned up. I'll hold him while you soap him up and clean him. The warm water will also raise his temp some. You saved his life, but I imagine he could do with a boost. After that, he's going to need to get something on his stomach. We'll need to wake him enough to get him to swallow some food. I'll get one of those high protein drinks and mix that. He needs carbs and proteins. He's also probably going to need some water, we need to push the liquids as soon as he's able to drink. Give him water, but be sure it has some electrolytes in it... he'll need minerals. I've got sport drinks; do a ratio of three water to one sport drink. We don't want him to overdose on potassium. His blood volume needs to increase and I don't have any medical equipment here for IV or transfusion but your blood in him will stimulate his system to replenish his blood cells fairly quickly." Vic said.
"You're the boss." Walt said.
"Yeah and you're a new daddy." Vic said.
"That makes you a new granddaddy." Walt said.
"No, that makes me a granddaddy again, I've told you before, I've got a couple of other cubs out there besides you." Vic said and smacked Walt on the butt as he turned to go. "I'll go make the drinks for your cub. I'll be back in a minute."
By the time Walt had Mitch undressed, Vic was back in the room. He quickly stripped as did Walt. The whole process of showering and raising his core temp, took a good hour or so. Mitch became conscious twice and asked what was happening and who the blond guy was. He was reassured that everything was going to be fine, that the blond guy was a friend and that he'd be able to rest soon. Mitch faded out each time and neither Walt nor Vic was sure if he would remember any of what had happened.
After drying everyone off, Vic and Walt carried Mitch to Vic's oversize bed. Walt curled up beside him, kissing him, holding him, listening to his breathing and feeling the strength returning to Mitch's body. Vic placed a thermos each of the protein drink and the sports drink mix on the bedside table.
"Prop him up and try to wake him." Walt propped Mitch up in the bed and after about five minutes of coaxing managed to get Mitch awake enough to swallow a bit of the drink. Vic noticed a couple of times Walt tearing up, wiping his eyes and then continuing the feeding. He knew what was on his cub's mind as surely as if he'd said it; but now was not the time to discuss it. Walt had 'daddy duty' and needed to concentrate on that. It was an hour and a half later that Walt managed to get the last of the drink down Mitch. They both stretched him out in the middle of the bed and the two werebears snuggled up to the weakened but improving man.
"He's going to be better tomorrow. He'll be awake for longer periods of time and will be able to eat more. We can try some oatmeal tomorrow I think. He should have some water and sport drink mix later tonight, probably half the volume of the protein shake." He paused. "I say give him three days and he'll be pretty much back to his old self and then you're going to have to break the news to him." Vic said softly.
"What if..." Walt began and then choked up, "...what if he's like Eddie." There was almost a desperate tone in his voice.
"Walter Lawrence Miller!" Vic growled, "Get hold of yourself!" Vic was using his daddy tone. It usually brought Walt back to his senses, it was also something that would comfort Walt because it said, 'I know best, I'm in charge and it's gonna be all right,' something Walt needed right now.
"This man here isn't Eddie. He's strong. His classmates put him through hell, he's been laughed and stared at since he was in jr. high for how hairy he was. It may have made him a loner, but it made him tough, too." Vic looked closely at Walt. "What was his condition like when you found him yesterday?" he asked.
"Almost dead from cold and blood loss." Mitch said quietly.
"Do you think a weak willed man would have hung on as long as he did? Dying isn't just about what happens to you physically, it's mental and spiritual too. I've seen men wounded on the battlefield who died from less than what this man had and some who lived through worse and the only difference was how determined they were to survive."
"The kid in college you changed through sex, the kid who was so turned on by you when he discovered you in your bear-shape, the kid who said he was excited by what was going to happen to him; he was really frightened deep down by what we are. He was attracted and repulsed and confused all at the same time. He wasn't stable, Walt; and he didn't have the same kind of steel in him that I have, that you have... that Mitch has. He was horrified knowing he was becoming one of us and I don't mean to speak ill of him, but he didn't have the emotional strength to be one of us. We both did what we could, but he took his life Walt, you didn't. Eddie didn't want to live. Maybe it's better to say he didn't want to live enough.
"It was two weeks before his first change and even I didn't see it coming, even I was blinded by the hope that he'd make it and I mourned as much as you did; but the difference, son... is that I let it go." Vic paused and looked deep into his own cub's eyes. "He willingly gave himself to you, even though you told him what would happen before you ever gave him your seed and you, being new to your body, gave in to your passions. It was a mistake, Walt, but you need to let it go."
Vic put a paw on his cub's shoulder. He thought for a moment, and decided that Walt needed some help in how to handle his new duties as a dad to a new cub. "I've never told you how I was changed. It was a very personal thing, something I didn't feel I was ready to tell you even though you've asked. I've told you it was during the Civil War, I've told you it was a werebear named Sam, but I've never told you how. This situation of yours... well, it's very similar to how it happened for me. I think I should tell you now." Vic said.
He paused and cradled Mitch's face in his big hairy calloused paw of a hand, bent to kiss his forehead and then continued.
Vic sighed. "Eddie was like those guys at Gettysburg I watched die from wounds that they should have lived through. I think they died because they gave up, gave into shock or maybe they just let go of life. I almost bled dry at Gettysburg, Walt; three holes in me but I crawled off into the woods so I wouldn't get shot anymore. I was twenty-two and was sure I was going to die but I hung on, hoping someone would come and patch me up. After it was over, in the night I remember I opened my eyes and saw the shadow of a big man hovering over me. At first I thought it was the grim reaper in the form of a bearish beast. I guess when you're that close to death you can see things not apparent to you otherwise, 'cause Sam told me later he hadn't changed; told me the dying can see things for what they are. I blinked and could barely make out that it was a bear wearing a Union uniform, big bushy beard, hugely muscular. I was sure he was there to drag me off or have me dragged off to the meat wagon, but instead he bent down and said, 'Hey son, you alive?' I managed to summon enough strength to say yes and that I guessed I wouldn't be much longer. Then he said, 'You're near whiter than a sheet, but damned if you ain't a fighter. I admire that and I'm gonna try to see to it you live to be an old man.' He took a real chance moving me, but a battlefield isn't the best place for surgery... or recuperation."
"He threw me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, not knowing if I was going to live or die and carried me for thirty miles like that until sunrise. He found a cave, moved us into it. I was delirious with fever and he nursed me, kept me cool until my fever broke, fed me and cared for me as best he could until he was sure I was going to live and then he headed out on foot during the night for Ohio, carrying me all the way."
"The next thing I clearly remember was waking up in a farmhouse. Sam was there, the farm was owned by a friend of his, someone I learned later was one of us. After I changed, he cut those lead balls out of me. One had passed right through, but two were still in me, and they hurt like Hell coming out. He had felt the bullets with the finger he'd cut open and kept pushing into my wounds to spread his blood around inside.
Sam had had enough of the war; well, enough of all wars. We were both technically deserters, though he was sure that after that battle we'd just be counted as missing. We moved west when I had fully recovered, came out here to California. Sam told me he'd bled into my wounds and it saved my life, just the way you did yesterday to Mitch. He also told me what price that came at. I tell you right now, I was damned happy to be alive. The price to my mind wasn't any price at all. "
Vic faced Walt squarely. "Walt, look at me. Mitch will be the same as me, same as Sam, same as you; he's strong."
"I hope so." Walt said.
"I know so, son... I can feel it." Vic said. "Now, let's get some rest. One of us or both should be with him all the time when he sleeps for the next four months. He's gonna start having those dreams we have before the first change. His changing body is going to be sending clues to his mind and the revelation of what he's becoming when you tell him is going to really make his dreams weird. The violent primal nightmares are going to need comforting and reassurance and the bestial erotic dreams are going to need some explaining and he'll want sexual release when he wakes from them. I slept with you every night if you remember."
"Oh, I remember. I miss that, you know." Walt said.
"We'll fuck like old times later, cub. Let's have a nap first; winter always makes me sleepier than usual." Vic said and yawned. "He's going to need to be woken later and given more of that protein stuff."
Walt wrapped his arms around Mitch, yawned, and he and Vic cuddled closer to Mitch and were asleep in moments.