A/N: See, I always deliver. Mostly.
“You like her,” Shang Da decided as he watched his Ulfric watch Elisabeth leave school grounds on a Thursday afternoon. There was urgent pack business to attend to, otherwise the bodyguard would not have come to Richard’s school, but he was glad he had. The way the Ulfric was watching his blonde student seemed dangerous.
Richard gave him a startled look, then shook his head. “Not the way you think,” he said decisively, “I… admire her.”
Shang Da cocked his head to one side, curious. The other man had never before spoken like that of anyone. Especially not anyone supernatural.
“How so?” He prompted.
Richard shrugged, slinging his bag over one shoulder. He didn’t look at his wolf as he offered, “She makes it look so easy.”
This time Shang Da didn’t prompt, knowing it was the wrong thing to do. Interacting with the Ulfric was sometimes scarily similar to interacting with a temperamental child. Screaming fit to sulk in three point seven seconds flat.
After a few minutes’ wait he got the answer he was looking for. “She is a good leader to her people, she plays the human part, she gets along with the vampires, she somehow manages to keep Anita down and she doesn’t….she seems to comfortable in her own skin.”
Ah, so this was what was bugging the tall man. He watched Elisabeth and saw everything he failed to be. A good Ulfric, a good politician, and most of all, at ease inside his own skin. Not at odds with his beast for once in his life.
And the problem was, there was really nothing Shang Da could say to soothe Richard because everything he said, every perceived flaw, was real. Richard wasn’t a good leader, he wasn’t a good wolf. He hated himself most of the time.
But lately… he actually seemed better. Calmer. More balanced. Shang Da had put it down to the man finally getting over Anita, but could it be something else? Could it be that Elisabeth
, tiny, strange, powerful Elisabeth was somehow teaching Richard a few of the lessons everyone else had failed to convey?
She certainly seemed to be working wonders on Asher’s anger and Damien’s self esteem already. If he was right, the bodyguard decided he owed the little girl one super sized gift basket. And probably some expensive jewellery. And flowers. And pretty much his life because one of these days, the old Richard would have gotten them all killed. But this new version of him, the one that didn’t fight himself all
the time might just be enough to save their collective butts and pull the pack back together. Might.
“She has three people to lead, you have several hundred depending on you.” It was the most comfort he could offer without lying.
And, surprisingly, it seemed to be enough. The Ulfric ran a hand through his hair and sighed heavily before nodding, eyes still fixed on the spot where his student had disappeared around a corner.
“You’re right,” he muttered, finally turning to face the other man. “So, what’s so urgent you had to come here?”
Yes, this new, calmer Richard might be enough to save them after all.