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That which does not kill me...

...has made a grievous tactical error.

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Three weeks. It ain't seven months, but twelve insurgents ain't eighty-seven demons, and the insurgents couldn't get into his head, not like this. Guri rescues him over, and over, and over. And over.

And it ain't never, ever him. And, gradually, Ben stops believing it's him, or that he'll ever come at all, and he prays for death instead.

Death, however, is hidin' its face. The wolfsbane netting sprouts flowers, but right before it goes to seed and dies, takin' him with it, Shaitan removes it and replaces it with a fresh one to start the process all over. Laughin', and askin' him if he really thought it would be this easy. Ben is silent; he'd stopped talkin' about a week in. Savin' his strength for silent prayer instead. Prayer aloud brings a choke-down from the collar, and he learned early on not to do it.

He can't move. Can't sleep. All he can do is endure whatever fresh torture Shai and his demons devise. Day, after day, after day. And they don't have to sleep. The only relief he gets is from the heroin. He knows, deep down, how very bad that is, that they can and will take it away from him at any time and leave him beggin' for the needle like the addict he's become, but it feels so. Gorram. Good. To just lose himself in the numbness for awhile.

Three weeks. Eighty-seven demons. And he prays for death.