That which does not kill me...

...has made a grievous tactical error.

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For guriel, the AU of the first meeting between them in CoG, continued...
[The Army, blessedly, expedites Ben's trip home. He and Guriel go on a transport from Bagram to Ramstein in Germany, and from there on a commercial flight to New York. They're flying coach, which Ben hates, because he knows that can't be comfortable for Guriel's wing like it is, but he can't afford the upgrade to first.

They're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on a planeful of cranky people giving Guriel a side-eye. No one's had the guts to actually say anything, however, for which Ben is grateful. It's dark, and he's dozing off in the aisle seat...

When a three-year-old several rows up decides he's had enough of this shit, thanks, and decides to let everyone on the plane share his displeasure.

Ben's eyes snap open. Amber. Hair sprouts across his shoulders under his uniform, and there's nothing of either him or Dhibi looking out from under his suddenly-shaggier brows.]

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[Guriel's been half-asleep -- only because it's too dark now for him to see anything through the window (when the sun was still out he had his forehead plastered to the pane, gazing down with awe and wonder and longing at the view below). The discomfort of the cramped quarters isn't unbearable, and he's learned to make the best of a lot of uncomfortable situations in his life.

But when Ben wakes, Guriel does, too. The child's distress pings the caretaker in him, even though it's been a very, very long time since Guriel had a child in his care . . .

But he's got more immediate concerns now, because Ben is clearly not okay. He lays his hand on Ben's forearm.]


[Ben is fighting Something, in the back recesses of his mind. He's not even sure what it is, exactly, just that it terrifies him on a visceral level. He's breathing hard through clenched teeth, and he squeezes his eyes shut.]

...Guriel? What. [His voice comes out in a strangled huff.]

[Guriel doesn't know, exactly, but he can feel it through the link that the ring creates between them -- Something dangerous and angry. The hair on the back of his neck rises.]

I don't know exactly. Something's . . . wrong.

[Something that reminds him too much of his last Master's anger and that monstrous wolf they brought into the cave . . .]

[Ben's fingers are white-knuckled on the armrest. He hasn't sprouted claws (yet), but Something wild and horrid and wrathful is tearing at his psyche, fighting for egress.]

Make it stop. Make it stop. Please make it stop...

[Guriel closes his eyes, trying to think. He doesn't know exactly what he's dealing with, but he somehow knows deep down inside that whatever it is will be catastrophic if it escalates.]

Please, Father. Help me, help us.

[Dhibi said Guriel was the Alpha of this Pack. He's not really sure that whatever is happening here will heed that, but it's the only idea he's got right now. He takes a deep breath and opens his eyes, trying to make his voice as authoritative as he can. It feels viscerally unsettling to be speaking like this to someone wearing his ring, but . . .]

Whatever you are. Or whoever. You leave him alone and never come back.

[Whatever the Thing is inside him, it recoils with a confused whine. Ben relaxes, marginally, and gets his breathing under control, though his eyes are still squeezed shut. He swallows hard past a dry throat, pulling his knees into his chest and wrapping his arms around them, leaning toward Guriel.]

What. What was that.

[The toddler is still screaming, and whatever It was has been pushed into the background, but he can still feel it in there. Pounding and clawing in counterpoint to the tantrum.]

[Guriel shakes his head and wraps an arm tight around Ben, sheltering him.]

I'm not sure. Just . . . something angry. Something very, very angry.

Are you okay?

No. [He shivers under the arm. They're drawing definite stares now.] I really, really hope that the tantrum up there tapers off soon, Guriel, because whatever this... thing... is, it wants to eat that kid.

Please don't let me wolf and eat that kid, Guriel...

[Guriel shudders, cold horror coiling in the pit of his stomach, because he really was hoping that neither he nor Ben was ever going to have to dwell on that particular horror again.

Which, well. No such luck, apparently.]

I won't.

He hesitates and then shifts his wing to shield the both of them, hoping that will help -- and hoping it will block some of the more prying eyes around them.]

. . . I think maybe it might be a good idea for me to take the ring until he stops crying.

Edited at 2015-10-18 04:18 am (UTC)

[The wing serves to further calm him, and he nods wordlessly, sliding the ring off his finger and pressing it into Guriel's hand.] I don't really feel right wearing it anyway. [But they're covering him as "owned," at least until they get home, because it's just safer and less confusing for everyone involved all around. He feels the loss of connection, and shudders a bit.]

...maybe if you sing for me, it'll drown that out? Might calm the kid down too.


[Guriel takes a deep breath and slips the ring onto his finger. He's not sure he feels entirely right wearing it himself yet, but it gets easier and feels more natural every time. And this way, he won't have to worry about trying to physically hold Ben down, if it comes to that.

He clears his throat and starts singing quietly in Hebrew, a Psalm he's used as a lullaby for time out of mind.]

The Lord is my light and my salvation,
Whom shall I fear?

[Ben goes limp with a shaky sigh, but nearly jumps out of his skin when someone lays a hand on his shoulder. His own hand shoots out in a lightning-fast automatic reaction and grasps the wrist attached to the hand in a punishing grip. A feminine gasp makes him twitch again and drop it like it burned him, and he looks up to see the flight attendant there. She looks as though she's had her fill of dealing with stupid people on this flight, long-suffering and tired.

"Sir, I'm sorry, but your angel's singing is disturbing the other passengers."] it. [Funny, the kid has stopped screaming. He wonders just how much a four-hundred pound wolf rampaging through the plane would disturb the other passengers and decides not to ask. Instead, he heaves a sigh.]

I'm sorry. I had a nightmare. His singing is soothing; he's just trying to settle me.

[For a very brief moment Guriel's a little bit crestfallen, but he gives the flight attendant a genuinely apologetic look (that doesn't quite meet her eyes).]

I'm sorry as well. I didn't mean to bother anyone.

[She drops her voice. "I thought it was beautiful, myself, but some people apparently don't know a good thing when they hear it. Can I get you two anything? I could slip you a couple of minibottles on the house."

It's been ages since Ben's had alcohol of any kind. The insurgents were not big on amenities in that cave, and he studiously stayed out of the NCO club on base.] That's awfully nice of you, miss. A rum and Coke would go down nicely, if you don't mind. Guriel? You want anything?

[Guriel ducks his head with a faint smile.] Tea, please? With sugar, if you have it.

[He waits until the flight attendant has gone before casting a surreptitious glance around the cabin. One or two people are staring or glowering, and he quickly looks away from them and towards the source of the earlier distress.]

. . . look, I think he fell asleep.

[A smile tugs at Ben's lips.] I think you're right. Which is good. I wonder if any of these idiots-- [He stares and glowers right back, thanks.] complained about him?

Whatever, if they don't want to listen to something truly beautiful, that's their loss and you can still sing this way if you want. Or not. I'm all right now, I think.

[The flight attendant brings their drinks. "I brought you a double, sir. Thank you for your service, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the flight. Just holler if you need anything."]

Thank you, very much.

Edited at 2015-10-18 05:48 am (UTC)

Thank you.

[Guriel cradles the paper cup of tea in his hands and bends over it, as if he's warming himself on it. Old habits from a long time in a cold country.]

It's been a long trip and it's late. Cramped quarters. People get worn thin by little things in circumstances like that.

Yeah, well, I'm worn thin by two months of abuse in a cave, having to put up with my superior officer casually abusing you, and going home to an empty house. So fuck them and their "worn thin." They don't know anything. [He sips his rum and Coke, which is damn tasty, and gradually relaxes again.]

...I imagine you're worn pretty thin too. When we get home, we can just be for awhile.

[Guriel smiles thinly and sips his tea. It's a weak approximation of what he'd call "tea" in ideal circumstances, but he'll take what he can get now.]

I'd like that. I haven't been able to "just be" in . . .

I don't know. In a long time.

[He turns his hand, still being very careful to shelter his hand behind the edge of his wing, and watches the dim cabin lighting gleam on the gold band.]

It's going to take some getting used to.

[Civilian life looms, scary and uncertain, in front of Ben. He hadn't thought he'd need to make plans so soon; he still had four years on his enlistment when he'd been captured, and the medical discharge with nothing to fall back on has left him a bit totter-y.

Well. UCLA was the original plan. Maybe he can move it up a little.

And maybe he doesn't have to decide right away.] Well, whatever we decide to do, we can decide together. Nothing's set in stone. We'll see what we're faced with when we get home and go from there, yeah?

[He downs the rest of his drink and settles under the wing, closing his eyes.] Meanwhile, I think I'ma try'n get some more sleep.

Edited at 2015-10-18 06:39 am (UTC)

Yeah, okay.

[Guriel shifts his wing to pull Ben a little closer. It's comforting for the both of them, he thinks, having someone close like that.]

I'll be right here. I won't let anything happen.

[And he picks up the song, subvocally, where he left off.]

[It's enormously comforting, having someone he can actually trust, in close contact like this. Ben closes his eyes and relaxes into the contact and the song.

Maybe the rest of the flight will be okay.]

[And it is, blessedly. Guriel even dozes off a little, lulled by the vibrations in the cabin and by having someone close.

He's awake when the flight attendants start prepping them for arrival, though, and a sheaf of customs forms makes its way from row to row. Guriel takes the papers and gives them a baffled look, trying and failing to make any sense of them.

He nudges Ben gently.]

Ben? I think you have to fill these out.

[Ben rouses and stares at the paperwork in befuddlement.] Wha... Oh. [Then he snorts.] The insurgents didn't leave me anything to declare. [His mouth pulls down at one corner.] Except you, and you're not a thing, you're a person--

[He peruses the document, frowning.] There's nothing on here about angels.

^-^ guriel Expand
[Ben sighs.] Not particularly, but I'm functioning. Let's finish up and go home, yeah? [He checks the list, which is still... fairly daunting. Ugh.]

One aisle at a time. We can do this.

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