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That which does not kill me...

...has made a grievous tactical error.

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Wolf trapped
[Ever since Ben has known about vampires, he hasn't liked them much. They smell wrong, they act snooty, and they give him the willies.

That being said, they've been less problematic to him since he started the Hound of God gig. Last time one of them tried to feed from him, it exploded in a puff of dust and bones, like it had consumed a glassful of holy water.

Of course, last time a vampire tried to feed from him, he didn't have six premeditated and callously unrepented murders hanging over his head--and he wasn't stopped on a dusty little planet for refueling and resupply on his way to a "rescue mission" that will no doubt result in more casualties he won't be particularly sorry for.

So he's very unpleasantly surprised when he's ambushed by a trio of vampires as he's coming (alone) out of a seedy little bar. They've got silver shackles and a wolfsbane net, and it takes them less than no time to truss him up, toss him in the trunk of a car, and drive away, while he swears impotently at them.]


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[. . . and Guriel's entire thought process boils down, more or less, to Oh. Shit.

He does at least manage to keep from voicing it. Tiny victories.]


Guri doesn't speak aloud or shift to get up, hoping that the fact Michael isn't using his ramrod-straight General of the Armies of God Posture means he can get away with that much. He doesn't want to wake Ben. His brother needs the rest -- and realistically, he probably doesn't need to see the look on Michael the Archangel's face, either.]

. . . I screwed up, didn't I?

Edited at 2015-06-06 05:15 am (UTC)

[Michael gives him a slow eyebrow lift. He, too, knows just how much Guriel's Charge needs his rest, and he keeps it subvocal as well.]

And how, Guriel, do you think you... "screwed up," exactly?

[He's not using the Archangel Words, the thees and thous of formal speech. Yet.]

[Guriel flinches. He can face down a demon's blade with nothing but a lunatic grin, but that eyebrow cuts him every time.

He lowers his eyes and shakes his head.]

Let him get out of my sight. Took my fury out on those vampires. Let him slide this far.

. . . I don't know, Michael. Pick one.

The vampires deserved your fury, though I do question whether it was all directed at them or not. [That, at least, is (somewhat) out of the way. Michael's next question is very, very gentle.]

Little brother, do you really think you could have prevented this slide? Or stopped him slipping away?

[Guriel doesn't look up; he's a little afraid he's going to lose his composure if he does. Instead he threads his fingers gingerly through Ben's hair.]

Four hundred years of thick and thin. You'd figure if he was gonna heed anyone, it'd be me.

[The words come out a lot more hurt than he wanted them to, and he takes a deep breath. Composure, damn it.]

I know it ain't -- isn't my place to keep him by main force, Michael, I'm not stupid.

I never said you were. [It's a mild rebuke, under the circumstances.] But his wound is deep, little brother, and it festers. He stokes his Wrath rather than dampening it and giving it up to Father.

I am not sure whether he won't hear you, or actually can't, at this point.

And I am not sure that this assignment is good for you. Your wound is deep as well, and inflicted by Benjamin.

Edited at 2015-06-06 06:04 am (UTC)

[Guriel flinches like a kicked dog and tightens his wings around Ben. He knows that is probably not exactly helping his side of this conversation, but it's purely instinctive and he can't stop it.]

You and me both know what'll happen if I give up this Duty, Captain. The state he's in now, he'll think he's being punished and that Dad did it to hurt him. He'll slide and slide and never quit until he slides right through the gates of Hell itself.

I'm not saying I can stop him sliding, 'cause I know I can't and never could. Only he can do that, him and Dad together. But short of Falling, I'm not leaving his side. Not 'til those gates slam behind him and I know I can't do no more.

Please, Michael. I know I've been a hothead and a screwup and a pain in your ass more times than you or I can count. But I ain't -- I haven't ever asked you to go against your judgment. Not once, not ever in all these ages.

But I'm asking you now. Please, big brother. Please.

[Yeah, his composure went out the window about halfway through that speech. Screw it, he has bigger problems in his life right now.]

[Michael's lips tighten. Guriel's not wrong, not really. That being said...]

He knows what he is doing to you, and yet he continues this path. You don't think a cooler head or a less-involved heart would benefit him? [Or possibly a firm boot to the rear. Michael hurts to see his little brother hurting, and while he's fond of Ben and appreciates his service, he's not so fond of him that he's not ready to give him a slap upside the head to wake him to the realization of what he's doing.]

It's not just my judgment, Guri.

[. . . and there it is. Guriel shrinks into himself, still not bearing to look up at his big brother. This hurts, this whole situation hurts, and he knows that even if he stays it's not going to stop hurting. Maybe not ever, until the ending of all things.

But he's said more times than once that he'll never Fall for anything. Not even Ben.]

If it be His will, Michael. I'd've thought by now maybe you'd know I'd say that.

[Maybe there's a tiny, tiny edge of rebuke in the words, deep down in the mess of hurt. If Michael was coming here with Orders, he could've at least done Guri the courtesy of not making him plead against them without knowing Who they came from.]

[If Guri would look, he'd see nothing but compassion on his big brother's face.] Of course I know, little brother. Father knows too. That was never in question.

And thus...
[A pause.] We stay our hand.

For now. Because you are not wrong. We wanted to make sure you knew your own mind, however.

[And he steps forward and enfolds Guri with arms and wings both.] Oh, little brother.

[Guriel freezes for a bare second before he leans into Michael's arms and rests his head on his big brother's shoulder. Because honestly, all things considered? He really, really needs a hug.

Leave it to Michael to know that.]

I'm sorry, Michael. Should've had more faith in you.

[Michael tighens his wings and arms, stroking his little brother's back.] Hsh, Guri, it is already forgiven. We all know you're doing your best. This situation has no coping mechanism; all you can do right now is watch, pray, and endure.

You still love him, Guriel? And continue to remind him who he is, and to Whom he still belongs?

Edited at 2015-06-07 05:12 am (UTC)

Always, Michael. Long as I'm living.

[Guriel takes a shaky breath and buries his face in the arc of Michael's wing. Sometimes it's good to just let himself be the Least among the Host for a few minutes.]

I don't know how far he's gonna fall before it's over, Michael, or if I can do anything to help stop him. But I won't ever stop being his Guardian first and before everything else I am to him. You gave me the job and I won't let you down.

[Michael sends out a strong pulse of Grace to his brave little brother. If some of it hits the wolf in passing, well. All to the good.] Then you have not failed, and will not, no matter what befall.

Even if he falls all the way, little brother. You must not blame yourself if he does.

I know.

[Guriel sighs and lets the Grace soak through him. It helps, it really does.]

He has his choices to make, same as they all do. I know.

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