A/N: Had another 'squirrel' moment and decided to do another oneshot. If you go on TNT's Falling Skies website, you'll notice that they're posting 'excerpts' from Pope's diary. And GOD is he a bastard in there! In his latest entry, he mentions that he'd like to kill Ben, which got me thinking 'geez, he'll never be able to do that—there's too many people looking out for Ben.' All the anger bubbled up inside me and I felt like punching him, just because if anyone tried to either of my little brothers (I have two, one who happens to be exactly the same age as Matt…) they'd probably end up dead themselves. But Ben knows that Pope is out to hurt him. So now we get to see two of his real friends—Hal (obviously) and Lourdes (because I love her). I saw Seychelle Gabriel in The Spirit and she was wonderfully intense and full of rage. So I figure it's only a matter of time before something brings out angry Lourdes. Why not Pope? He brings out the anger in everyone else! And I bring up the rubbing alcohol incident here! So anyway, Ben is afraid and feels vulnerable. Hal and Lourdes catch him in his vulnerability and he ends up discovering he's got people looking out for him. With a bit of humor at the end to try to keep the subject matter dark and light at the same time. Enjoy! And review!
Sleep. It wasn't quite so necessary any more. Not after what they'd done to him. But he liked to maintain some semblance of normalcy, so he made an effort to go to bed like he used to—back when his mother enforced a strict ten PM bed time. The cots weren't comfortable, not in the least, and Matt had an annoying habit of snoring, but it was as close to home as he had, so Ben reveled in it. With Matt taking up post in the infirmary bus, where he found sleep to be easier without Ben tossing and turning, he was even looking forward to rest. And sometimes he found himself enjoying the sleep too.
The nightmares would occasionally wake him up, but more often lately it seemed like he was having pleasant dreams of before the invasion, back when they were living in that spacious Victorian house in Somerville, with his father's Taurus parked outside and his mother's minivan in the garage and the flowers in the planters outside and the bikes in the backyard and the rocker on the porch and…all those wonderful, wonderful memories of his perfect, perfect family life. Of summer trips into Boston where Hal would scoff at all the museums and he would sit and soak up all the knowledge he possibly could, reveling in that glorious, glorious smell of musty books and old oil paintings and bronze sculptures. That's what Ben loved the most about sleep. It was the only place he could go to revisit the wonderful things he missed. It was the only place he could still see his mother, see her blonde hair and greenish-hazel eyes, see that warm smile.
But tonight…tonight was something else. Tonight he dreamt of all the judgmental glares, the unconcealed looks of hatred from people around him. It was a week since he'd lost Jimmy…since he'd gotten Jimmy killed, more accurately. And he'd lost his only true friend that wasn't bound to him by blood.
And tonight he dreamt of Pope making good on all his threats, of the lunatic actually coming back and hurting him. It was no secret that Pope hated him but Ben had made it a point to let his comments roll of his back. It was hard, though, when the man was actively making death threats against him. And now that Pope was gone there was no one he trusted keeping an eye on him. What if he came back, right now, and killed you? You know he wouldn't stop there. He'd kill Dad too, maybe even Hal…
He liked to imagine the skitters made him strong, made him emotionally disconnected. And he acted that way, but alone, at night, he often found himself close to tears with the sheer weight of everything going on. And tonight he openly cried for the first time. There was no one around to witness it anyway. And he cried for everything. He cried for his dad being ostracized. He cried for Karen being taken. He cried for Hal being so conflicted. He cried for the fear of Pope trying to hurt him, and most of all he cried for Jimmy.
Voices outside stopped him and he quickly shut his eyes, rolling onto his back feigning sleep and straining to hear. It was Hal, laughing and talking to someone. He couldn't tell who at first, only that it was a girl, but he finally placed the voice as Lourdes'.
"Could you come take a look at him? I think the dry patches on his back are getting worse," Hal's voice rang out clearly in the tent where Ben lay alone, pretending to be asleep.
"Sure," Lourdes entered behind him and sat down at the edge of the cot. "Ben," he heard her soft voice whispering as she gently tapped him.
"Ben, can you wake up for a second?" Hal asked, more of a demand than a question. The boy made no move to oblige. "Ben!"
"Relax," Lourdes chided gently. "If he doesn't wake up I could just lift his shirt up and take a look."
Hal shrugged and Ben could feel Lourdes gently guiding his shirt up a few inches to see the spikes the harness had left in him. "Well they aren't that bad," she said to Hal. "I mean, I don't know what they looked like last time but I'll tell you this much: Ricky had it worse before he disappeared. Maybe it's a sign." She got up slowly and glanced him over. "Look." Ben winced and he knew that she was pointing at his face. "Tear streaks. Does he cry a lot at night?"
"No," Hal replied, puzzled. "He's never cried at all before. I was beginning to think he didn't even have any emotion anymore."
"I wonder what he dreams about that makes him cry…"
"Take your pick," Hal scoffed. "Mom, the harness, Jimmy, Pope…"
"Pope?" Lourdes questioned.
"Yeah. The bastard's been giving him all kinds of hell over the spikes."
Lourdes frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Kept talking about how he wanted to 'put a bullet into that razor-back's head' or something like that. I nearly punched him a few times…"
"I'm being serious, Lourdes. Ben and I might get into it every so often but he's still my little brother. And there's no bastard on earth that's gonna hurt him on my watch."
Ben's heart rate increased a bit and it was all he could do not to open his eyes. Were they serious?
"Pope's a piece of work," Lourdes agreed grimly. "I told you, right? He skinned his hand and I dumped half a bottle of rubbing alcohol into the open wound?"
"On purpose?" Hal questioned, a look of wonder and admiration crossing his face.
"Must've stung like hell…"
"I hope so. Especially after what he said about Ben…"
"You really mean that?" Hal asked.
"Yes," Lourdes returned wholeheartedly. "I would never let him do something like that to anyone, especially not your brother. Even if I had to stop him myself."
There was a long pause and Ben didn't dare open his eyes to see what was passing between his brother and the med student that had just promised to help defend him.
"I should get going," Lourdes excused herself. "Anne's waiting."
"Yeah," Hal got up to escort her to the exit. "Good night."
"Good night. And good luck with Ben."
"Thanks." Ben heard his brother cross back over to the cot beside his and felt a hand apply a bit of pressure to his shoulder.
"I hope you know that everything we just said is true," Hal told him. Ben's eyes fluttered open and he gave his brother a questioning look. "You suck at pretending to be asleep…"
A/N: Hardly my best (probably one of my worst, actually) but I decided to post it because I spent time on it and it's 2:40 AM as of now. So please excuse the terrible-ness. Like I said, Like a Sheep to a Shepherd will receive a (much) better update tomorrow during the day. But I'd appreciate some feedback on the premise of this. I know the execution sucked.