So I said i was getting back into The Old Guard but also tumblr sandman content has infected me and this idea has been stuck in my head since i realized that i adored the character of Hob Gadling and thought, oh dude what a great character foil for another immortal character who goes through uhhhh, a lot of similar experiences but does no where near as well with it.
aka. What if Hob Gadling and Sebastien Le Livre became drinking buddies.
Part two is here
Call it his age but Hob can’t help but feel that the world sends its boys to war now, rather than its men. The nations rally their youth to glory and service, in the name of queen and country, and ship them off to win the war on distant shores. Most come back in boxes.
He can only watch so much of that before he’s stopping by the nearest recruitment office and putting his latest fake name forward for the draft.
It’s a silly notion, that his presence can change the tide in what’s already being called “the great war.” He’s not looking to change the tide per say, but if he can save a few dumb kids who haven’t gotten the chance to live yet, well, then a few years invested in being a soldier again will be well worth it.
He’s got nothing pressing going on anyway, not for 76 years at the earliest.
So Hob Gadling fits the mantle of soldier back on his shoulders again, muddles through his training to neither fall behind or exceed expectations of a normal man his age, and gets himself shipped off to France to fight the Germans.
It goes as well as expected.
He cycles through units, and ends up staying near Ypres more often than not. His name mysteriously never ends up on the list for the men who’ve done their time on the front line and are reassigned to support or leave. He sticks close to where the fight is and doesn’t get friendly enough with anyone to cause an uproar about his lack of leave time.
He can’t die, better him here than somewhere else.
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t start to recognize his comrades on rotation though.
They’re young fools, the majority of them. There’s an occasional old-timer like himself, and he can see the moment of recognition across the trenches when he’s stationed with someone else who’s seen war before. There’s a slight nod and that’s that.
As the war progresses however, it gets far more difficult to tell the old guard from the new. War ages a man, this one especially.
One of the boys in his present squad, down to five until more reinforcements can be brought in, cracks a joke one quiet morning that he’ll head home and be mistaken for his uncle when his parents meet him at the station. Hob hears a quiet scoff, “Better old than dead.”
His eyes glance up to the man on guard, a man around Hob’s age or slightly older. He’s quiet, keeps to himself in the week since he’s been rotated into Hob’s unit. He’s vigilant, in a way that Hob can respect as a man who’s more aware of his surrounds than he lets on.
“Cheers to the words of Private Book, wisest man this side of the western trench complex.” Hob runs his mouth without thinking and Book’s eyes flicker down to him before returning to his watch.
“Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.” Private Book says quietly, and Hob can’t help but have his interest suddenly piqued by the quiet words.
The man quotes Doyle but with an accent far more perfect than any Englishman who had a primer in French. Maybe he’ll have someone interesting to discuss literature with out here after all.
The Germans get lucky and manage to aim one fucking shell near perfectly into the middle of their particular stretch of trench that evening.
Hob comes to surrounded by the overarching noise of active warfare and the contrasting silence of everything around him. The nearest allied trenches are occupied at the moment so he has a moment to collect himself and come up with a plan before he’s set upon by either his allies or trench sweepers.
His stomach twists and protests as instead he forces his lungs to cough up the blood and dirt mixed in his mouth and tries feebly to call roll. “Smith. Karlson. Book. Turner. Any of you make it?”
The dead do not answer and Hob sighs, cursing and shakily getting to his feet to survey the damage. It’s not good. He’ll have to move, but he stops by each body and gently closes their eyes or position them into some sort of posture of rest, rather than a tangle of limbs.
Its when he’s saying rights over Turner, bless the kid’s hopeful soul, that body next to him jerks and shudders back into life with a gasp.
Hob has failed to die many a time, but he’s yet to see someone else come back to life in all his years. Getting caught by surprise isn’t a necessarily ridiculous response. He falls back, away from the body- man?, on instinct and offers his own short curse when the body of Private Samuel Book sits up with a groan and sighs when it catches sight of its hand knitting the flesh back together on the side that caught the blunt of the shells explosion.
Samuel Book looks up and freezes when he catches sight of Hob, the next moment both men are speaking in unison, “How the fuck did you survive that?”
Hob’s particular brand of immortality works so well as an off shoot of the Old Guard that my fingers itch for a crossover.
After all, the Old Guard only know they dream the lives of other immortals until they meet. It doesn’t mean they dream the lives of ALL other immortals. Different clusters existing and Hob just being a random one on his own doesn’t really clash with their mythology. (And with billions of people around the world, it’s not like it’s even statistically probable they’d ever meet without dreams to unite them.)
Likewise, Death sparing someone because they intrigue her being the actual cause of why some people are randomly immortal doesn’t really clash with the Old Guard mythology since Hob wasn’t personally aware of Death’s role in his immortality despite being friends with Dream.
Which is to say if anyone wrote a fic where Booker and Hob met, I’m just saying, I feel like Hob would have a lot to teach him as the immortal older brother whose optimism would stand a chance of helping Booker with his bottomless depression I mean Hob has a pretty good track record already with Dream