[center Sirens sound in the distance. Horns blare. Stoplights flicker, dim in the coming dark. People rush by on the sidewalks while cars cruise by, rumbling over dry pavement. The world is at peace.]
[center And yet it is not. A dark power crushes close, insinuating itself among humankind secretly. Velveteen claws are curled into places of security and power, sheathed only until they can strike once and decisively. Every institution has been infiltrated. The intruders are everywhere, hidden in plain sight. Until the claws are unsheathed and the trap snapped shut, even the infiltrators do not know what they are. Human in appearance, human in nature, in every way, from memory to appearance, a perfect replica of those whom they have replaced. ]
[center There is no secret organization to oppose them. There is no resistance to be had against that which does not exist. Those who discover the truth cast their eyes aside and claim they did not see, for to admit to have seen such horror is to admit insanity. ]
[center Their patience is boundless. They have waited for generations, for millennia, watched humanity claw its way towards the unknowable beyond, but now their waiting is almost done. The coil bends, the pressure plate dips, the spring is compressed. And when the trap is sprung, nothing will be left of this Earth but ash.]
The black goat's thousand young are among us, perfectly disguised, preparing their final assault upon the Earth. When the thousandth child arrives, then will their disguises be cast aside and Earth's dominion shall be transferred to those beyond human understanding.
We play a pair of humans who have been upset from their homes by imposters who are, impossibly, identical to themselves in every way, down to the very memories. My character has been displaced for some time, while yours has only just been replaced. In this time of confusion, your character finds themselves drawn to mine, and mine offers yours guidance, hope, and a way to fight. So long as all thousand are not on earth, the trap remains unshut. And we two are the only two who know, the only two who can oppose them.
I want this roleplay to be dark and mature-themed. The black goat's young cannot be told from ordinary mortal humans until after a vital blow has been struck. There will be paranoia, fear, uncertainty, and surest of all, death. This is a long, hard battle with no certain outcome, where anyone and anything might turn against us at any moment. This roleplay is strongly influenced by Lovecraft, as you might have guessed from the title. The black goat's young are beings that defy human understanding, but they can be killed, or at least sent back to the dark realm from which they come. Romance is not necessary, but I would prefer a heterosexual or mxm relationship, if you desire it. I am very much open to any suggestions you might have as to where the plot might go.
Feel free to ask questions. Please pm me the skeleton below once you are ready to apply. This is not first come, first serve.
[center [b Name: // Age: // Gender: // Personality: // Bio: // Physical description: // Picture: (illustrated) // Sample post:]]
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"Love you too, sweetie," Bell muttered under his breath. It was refreshing, really, to hear Daniel so fired up. This was what he really thought. This was what he really felt. Everything else was stagnation, play-acting and making house, pretending to be normal. This was how he really was, stripped to the core. Raw energy and anger desperate for an outlet. For the first time, he felt something truly well up in his chest at the sight of Daniel, a real emotion that came from himself, not from anyone else.
Daniel kicked him in the gut. All the air exploded from Bell's chest and he crumpled inward, but kept his grip. A grin spread over his face. That was right. That was Daniel. "Get back, idiots," he snarled at everyone around them, the fools in their nice clean clothes and fancy suits, wrestling Daniel into the alleyway. "Move on. Nothing to see here! Show's over!"
Hands gripped his arm. Bell whirled, expecting to see some poorly-thought-out intervention attempt, but it was Daniel. The man had himself just about strangled in Bell's grip. Another half-turn, and the cloth was twisted right out of his hand. It was that, or completely cut off Daniel's air flow.
"I am stronger," he snapped back. Daniel moved in close. He felt hands crawl up his coat and let it happen, until he felt the man reach for a particular pocket. Then his hands clasped down on Daniel's. He threw his weight against Daniel's and pinned him against the wall, holding Daniel's hands, both their hands caught between them. Daniel had his knife. He could feel the blade, pressed flat between them so the blade cut no one. "Hey, motherfucker, you gonna stab me?" he asked mockingly. "You gonna slit me open? I know you've done it before. Did you like it, huh? Watching me bleed out and die. Bet you had a great time. Did it get you hard? Bet it did."
He felt hot and cold at the same time, his whole body on edge. On edge and oh-so-alive. Like some piece of him had slotted back home at last, jiggled into place and made him whole. Or at least less broken. "Gonna kill me and see the goat? Kiss me first, let's make it jealous." He remembered it now. Daniel killing him. The man's weird obsession with his other half. So much made sense now that it was hard to imagine what else he was missing. His hands tightened around Daniel's wrists. "C'mon, tell me how you really feel." He'd never felt so in love.
A shout. A growl. Daniel turned, eyes fiery with anger. More voices. More noise. Daniel didn't hold back his punches. Neither did they. Whatever he could reach deserved to be trashed.
A hand around his arm, a strong hand. Stronger than he'd felt grip him so far. Daniel pulled and twisted free with a snarl. Another man stepped close. Daniel kicked and his foot connected. A startled, short noise resounded, a satisfying noise. More whispers. Daniel couldn't quite finish the task. Each time the black seemed to twist and spin, reshape itself and dart back out again. A hand grabbed him by the collar and Daniel growled.
"Fucker! Let me go, you mother-fucker," he hissed and reached for the hand that'd grabbed him.
"I'll kill you all," Daniel threatened.
He'd just wanted to sit down. Black eyes. They all had black eyes, staring at him from the dusky twilight, the little lights shimmering in the darkness. All of them were goats. He knew it. He'd kill them all and expose the secret. They'd know then, what was really happening to humanity. Whatever was left of it.
He was ready to die, were they?
The hand at his neck was still there and Daniel kicked back, trying to hit something. When he twisted in the other man's grip, the noose around his neck tightened, choking off his air. He failed to care. He hadn't cared for any of the punches or kicks before and he wasn't going to start now. Pain was a state of mind and he wasn't about to pay any attention to it now.
Daniel tore at the grip, until he saw what was holding him. Complete black. Utter black. Rather than recoil, Daniel grabbed at the man's arm and forcibly pulled himself free, staring the beast straight in the eyes. All black and nothing to show for itself.
"You useless mother-fucker, how could you let it do that to you? You were supposed to be stronger than that little shit goat," Daniel spat. They were still all watching. Watching and waiting, with aggression in their voices and whispers seducing him to just give in and kill himself. Cocky little bastards. He'd lay waste to them all. He knew exactly who this was. Daniel stepped close to Bell-boy and reached into the man's coat. Slick. Like blood. Metal, sharp cold metal. He'd slice them all up.
The dull thud of flesh-on-flesh. Bell looked up sharply. Daniel? Was that Daniel, getting in a fight? It was a very Daniel thing to do. He pushed off and ran despite his exhaustion, chasing after the noise.
He didn't have far to go. Daniel was swinging wildly in a circle of men, most of them standing slightly out of his reach. Some tried to grab him, but he always twisted free. His eyes were wild, and the cut on his arm was exposed. [i An episode for sure,] he decided. Damn. Couldn't take his eyes off Daniel for a second.
Bell pushed up to his full height and took a deep breath, then plastered a smile on his face and barged in. "Daniel! Sorry, he's my friend," Bell said.
"Your friend fucking beat his face in, for no damn reason," one of the men spat. He pointed at another man, who was clutching his face. Looked like he'd have a shiner in the morning.
"Yeah, he's crazy, I'm sorry, off his meds again. Daniel, calm down." Bell reached for him, expecting resistance. There was an alley nearby. He started herding Daniel for it. The man would either go down it, or run off, and both were good in Bell's mind.
"That's assault, motherfucker, you know that?" the man snapped.
"Sue me, I'm homeless, I don't give a fuck," Bell snapped back, rounding on the guy. So much for the friendly direction. "Put me in jail. Free food for me." He shoved the guy in the chest. "Back off. You're lucky he didn't shank you, ya know that?"
The circle was reforming, around him and the man now. Daniel was still there, still fighting whoever he could reach. When he came within reach, Bell grabbed him by the collar. It was a lot like holding a freshly caught fish, if the fish was the same weight and size as he was. He didn't know how long he could hold Daniel down. They needed to get the hell out of here, but the way Daniel was, there was no guaranteeing he'd bolt at all, let alone in the right direction.
"Dude, back off, they're nuts," one of the man's friends muttered. Bell bared his teeth at them and growled, half out of anger, half to scare them off. Whatever worked. It didn't bother him if he looked like a madman.
Faces melted together into one generic blob of flesh. Sometimes there'd be eyes, staring at him. They were dark eyes, some leaking an oil stain onto the flesh underneath. Each time it shimmered with small specks of light, dabbled deep into that putrid darkness. Daniel watched them, but he didn't feel afraid. Why should he? His heart was already just as black, just as putrid. Humanity was a fragile misnomer to what they were as beings. It was why the goat couldn't get Bell-boy right without any actual memories.
No. No, that wasn't the case. He grew tired. His pace slowed considerably. Sometimes the faces whispered at him. They told him to just kill himself. To give in to that darkness and gauge open his chest to find the darkness inside and rip it from his dying body. Daniel gave them a level stare and just grinned. No. He hadn't given in and he wouldn't, but it was tiring. Hell, was it tiring. Daniel wasn't sure how to deal with all that.
He wanted to just give in and sleep.
In the end, Daniel just found a wall and sagged against it. Here was fine. All the faces he saw had the black eyes, so it didn't matter where he stopped or what he did. It didn't matter how much he fought the whispers, because he'd always end up hearing them. Daniel rested his head back against the wall and sighed out, hands on his drawn-up knees.
People started talking to him then.
Angry voices. Accusations. Daniel stood. He was taller. The man's eyes were black. His mouth was black. But all that darkness had never stopped him from killing a goat. It didn't even hit him, but Daniel felt on edge. He didn't have his bat, just his fists.
"Shut up, shut the fuck up," he told the whispers, the darkness and the man that was trying to tell him something. None of the words made sense. They didn't have to. Daniel easily recognized the aggression and he was prepared to fight back. He struck first. His fist connected to the man's jaw. The man went down hard. Other people now started to make noise too. Some tried to grab at his arms. Daniel fought harder. He was used to this. He knew how to fight and he knew how to fight dirty.
This was impossible. Bell wandered the city aimlessly. People pulled away from him, afraid to get close. There wasn't any visible blood, but maybe they could smell it on him. Or maybe the ragged coat was enough, the puffs of filling escaping the torn jacket. Or maybe he looked crazy. He felt crazy. What was he even doing, chasing after Daniel? If Daniel had abandoned him, why bother? The man clearly wanted nothing to do with him. Why force it?
[i And what if he's having an episode?] What if Daniel was going to hurt himself, or drink himself stupid again? He rubbed his face. This wasn't... He shouldn't be thinking about this. He should find Daniel, figure out what to do with him, and go from there. He wasn't going to abandon a mentally ill man on his own in the middle of some city. Worst case... worst case, he'd get Daniel somewhere safe, maybe a hospital, maybe just give him his car. He didn't know. But he'd--at least make sure he couldn't hurt himself. At least that.
A blonde head of hair. Bell's heart leaped. He ran after the man, faltered before he caught him. The clothes were too fancy. It wasn't Daniel. He couldn't afford anything like that. Another one. His head whipped around, only to find a young woman with a pixie cut instead. This was impossible. He'd never find Daniel this way.
But the other option was to stop trying. He couldn't. Couldn't do that to Daniel. Even if Daniel hated him, he couldn't let go. Not without getting a proper explanation and a reason.
His arms hurt. His legs hurt. His head hurt. The adrenaline was wearing off, and under it, he felt like shit. Bell wrapped an arm around his stomach as he walked. If he could stabilize his chest a little, maybe it wouldn't move and hurt so much. The hell had Daniel run off to? Surely he couldn't have gotten too far. Right? He leaned against a nearby wall to catch his breath. He'd find Daniel. For certain. Somewhere.
Blonde hair. Again. He looked up, hopeless. It wouldn't be Daniel. Daniel was long gone.
Tall building towered above him, weighed down on him as if they were actual people, actual hands pressing on his ribcage trying to push the air from his lungs. Daniel walked. He wasn't sure where he was going. People gave him wide birth, that much was for sure. Maybe it was the way he smelled like the street, like dried blood and old alcohol, he didn't care. Daniel rubbed at his forehead. A pay-phone. It was different than the ones he'd run into before but that didn't matter. He approached it, dug around for a coin and inserted it. He knew his psychiatrist's number by heart, sadly. Lenny wouldn't have known, but he'd caught the number on one of the forms before.
Some type of secretary picked up with some general drone.
"Could I... Could I speak to the doctor?" Daniel started softly.
"Ray?" she started, a gasp to her voice. "It's Ray, right? They've been looking for you? Where- I... I'll get the doctor for you, hold on. Just hold on," the woman started and then there was some shuffling on the other side of the line. Voices were whispering quickly and after a moment another guy came at the line.
"Hello, Ray. Could you tell me where you are?"
Daniel paused at that, then glanced around. "A city," he started. "I can't do this. They were right, he'd gone. He doesn't exist. It's lies, it's all lies," Daniel said and at that exact time he lost all will and desire to actually talk to the people on the other side of the line. He carefully pushed the horn back onto the machine and it spat out a few coins in return. Daniel grabbed at them half-heartedly and leaned against the side of the booth despondently. Now what?
He didn't want to go back there. Lenny might want to.
He was tired. The bandages itched like no tomorrow. Using his nails. Daniel tore them off, revealing the angry cut and the even angrier stitches Bell-boy had put into his skin a few days ago. Was it just yesterday? It'd been a little while. Either way it felt a lot better now that the injuries had the opportunity to air out.
Daniel pushed off again after a while, just aimlessly wandering through town with no direction.
The car was still there. Bell furrowed his brows, confused. Was Daniel still in the zoo, then? He turned back over his shoulder. He didn't want to accidentally abandon him. Maybe he'd just gotten bored and gone to look at some animals. It was a big zoo. He hadn't looked around much before he'd given up.
He reached into his pocket to unlock the car and realized what he was doing in the same beat. Of course, obviously. He had the keys. Daniel couldn't take the car if he wanted to.
Bell opened the car and wrote a quick note, just in case: "sorry, missed you, wait here, I'll be back," and tucked it under the windshield wiper. Moving away from the car, he scanned the lot. He didn't see Daniel immediately, but it didn't mean he wasn't out there. He was in more danger if he was out of the zoo and wandering around, especially if he was under a psychosis of some sort--always possible with him--so he'd look out here. If he'd just accidentally left him behind in the zoo, Daniel would go to the car and see the note there. It worked out.
So decided, he took off at a jog. "Daniel! Landon!" he shouted. Icy cold bit through his slashed coat. Recent cuts pulled painfully at his skin, half-healed. Had they abandoned him? Or was this some kind of psychotic break? [i If he wants me gone, I'll go,] Bell decided. But he wanted to make sure they weren't in danger, first.
He ran on. There were no clues or hints. He was running blind, no way to know where they had gone, if they'd gone anywhere. Bell circled the parking lot, then headed out to the road. There was a sidewalk going either direction, left or right. Or he could cross the road and enter the city proper. He hesitated. Which way would Daniel go? He had no idea. [i Towards the bars,] a little voice suggested. Into the city. It was a long shot, but there was a chance he was right, too.
Bell paused there. Did he go back and get the car, or leave it so Daniel didn't think he was abandoned, if he was in the zoo? [i Leave it,] he decided. If there was even a small chance Daniel was there, he'd leave the car behind. He took off running again.
It was when he touched the door of the car that reality did a breath-taking stop for just a split-second. Daniel breathed through it. Apparently Lenny did have something to say about his departure, even though Bell-boy didn't even like the guy. He wouldn't exactly call it hate either. They offered Bell-boy too shiny a deal for Bell to hate Lenny. No meals, no ride. Just a cold night out on the streets. Sympathy was for suckers. Like Lenny. Daniel took in a deep breath and forcibly tried to open the door to the car, but also realized he shouldn't drive like this. There was no way to win. He laughed, hard.
If he drove, chances were Lenny was going to stop him, but Lenny would've effectively stopped him if he didn't drive either. In that regard, there really was no choice. Daniel stared at the closed door and fumbled around for the keys, only to realize Bell-boy had them. The man had driven them last.
That was. Fine.
Daniel hesitated for a short second and then walked away. The least he could do was leave Bell-boy with a car. If the man couldn't find the means to get gas, at least the items in the trunk might help the man survive on the street. Or return to Haven. Whichever Bell-boy preferred. It wouldn't work like this. Bell-boy had the courage to be honest, to say he had feelings but that they didn't rival, couldn't rival, the original Bell-boy's. It felt like raping someone. Forcing Bell-boy into that position.
Daniel felt conflicted.
Bell-boy was too innocent to be out on the streets alone. Sure, the man would get by, but not without making the same mistakes his original self had. But Bell-boy didn't have to be alone. A brief interaction with the crow up in the sky and Daniel walked away from the car and away from it all. He wasn't ready. Bell-boy hadn't been ready. It'd been a stupid idea to free Bell-boy from Haven. Or force him into his life after he'd finally been freed at least.
The goatling would watch Bell-boy. It'd let him know how the man was doing. Confusion set the tone. He couldn't quite keep grip on reality with Lenny pushing on the other side. It'd been like that before he'd met Bell-boy, a testimony to his broken mind. Each time Daniel tried to set a goal, to get somewhere, the thought was derailed, interrupted. He didn't know where he was going or where he'd end up.
The man was strong, but he was stronger. He pushed the man back, then raised his foot and kicked the man in the hips. The man staggered back. His back slammed against the wall. Bell pushed the advantage, but the man used the force of hitting the wall to rebound back off it. He slashed at Bell's neck. The knife skimmed the surface of his neck, cold and sharp. Before it could bite deeper, Bell smashed the man's arms upward with the pipe. The man's arms were jarred up. The knife flew through the air.
He smashed at the man again. The man caught the pipe bare handed and held on with all his strength. Bell yanked at it. The man's grip was tight, the pipe stuck hard in his grip. He put his leg on the man's hip again and pulled with all his body weight, pushing the man back with his leg.
The man let go suddenly. Bell fell backwards by the force of his own pushing. He flopped onto the floor, head snapping against tile. The man ran, darting for his knife. Bell hauled himself up slowly, shaking his head. The whole world was blurry and out-of-focus.
With a flash, the knife darted at him again. Bell staggered back, half on his feet. He barely dodged as the knife went for him again and again. It slashed at his body, at his arms. Pain lit up where it hit home, but he barely felt it. He kicked the man away again and scrambled to his feet. The man ran at him. He sidestepped this time, ready for the attack. The pipe darted at the back of the man's head, a sharp blow. The man went down. Bell followed him down, going for the kill.
Bell pulled his coat tightly around him before he exited the bathroom, checking in the mirror to make sure there was no obvious blood splatter. Everything looked fine. He nodded at himself and exited.
Daniel was gone.
He stopped short. [i Where--?] No. He jolted back into motion and casually strode out of the zoo. It would look suspicious if he stopped here. He had to keep moving.
Daniel was pissed at him. Where would he go? Bell considered, but came up with nothing. The hyenas, maybe? It was worth a try. He swung by the display, but there was nothing there.
[i Shit.] His coat was slashed and leaking cold into his body. His blood was starting to dry, and it felt sticky and disgusting. He rubbed his face down. [i Yeah, alright.] It'd been a possibility that Daniel would abandon him this whole time. Looked like it had finally come true. [i What a stupid thing to leave over.] No, it was his fault, wasn't it? It was hard to swallow, but his own stupidity had ruined his free ride.
[i Could be worse,] he thought, exiting the zoo. At the very least, if he found the rest of him, he could probably get back to Daniel. If he even wanted to, after all that.
First things first. He scanned the parking lot just to be sure. Maybe he'd hung around.
Bell-boy looked up and Daniel followed the man's gaze. The guy. It only took a second for Bell-boy's disposition to go from a recalcitrant child to one that was looking at a potential adrenalin high. Rather than conferring with him, Bell-boy made a shitty lame-ass excuse.
"Sure you are, little fucker," Daniel said, but it didn't stop Bell-boy from going. He flipped the bird at Bell when the man asked him to order something shitty and stood as well. Rather than sit there and wait for Bell-boy to get his fix, he left the little diner. Bell-boy had another thing coming if he expected him to just sit there and take shit from the diner's personnel as Bell-boy destroyed the bathroom.
Or got destroyed inside the bathroom.
Either way one of the personalities was going to come out on top and if it wasn't Bell-boy, it wouldn't be worth sticking around for regardless. And if they were wrong, there'd be a corpse. Hell no. He was getting out of dodge. If it wasn't clear to Bell-boy already, it would be soon: they killed. People generally didn't like it when that happened in their vicinity.
Daniel ambled through the zoo at a steady pace, taking his time. Might as well see those hyenas while he was there, right? A slight pull at the back of his head made him sigh. The goatling. It'd want to stick close to its progenitor. And for what? He sent it a few quick messages; independence, solitude, a broken connection. Even if Bell-boy would remember some shit from this old bloke, what was the point? He was tired of it.
It'd be better if Bell-boy forgot all about him.
Part of him felt like forsaking the promise he'd made to Bell-boy all those months ago; about staying human. He could be anything if he gave in to the goatling. It'd be easy too. Safe. Death would no longer be a continuous fear, but a certainty. It'd be quick and painless. Whatever would be left of him, would survive with the goatling.
He finally made it to the cage and watched the filthy hounds prowl across the soil they were allowed to walk upon. A nice little picture, reminiscent of what life as a human was like as compared to a goat's. Daniel didn't linger for long. He shoved his hands deep down his pockets and started for the exit.
His presence wasn't necessary here. He might as well leave.
He pulled away from Daniel. "No," he grumbled. He wasn't going to give Daniel the satisfaction of being in control of his moods. Besides, Daniel didn't really care about him anyways, so who the fuck cared? 'Right to know' sure he did. Because he owned Bell, was that it? It was stupid, all of it.
Bell sighed out and crossed his arms. He was tired. He put up with them, took care of them and made sure no one killed themselves, and his thanks was to be told that what he felt wasn't good enough for Daniel. The hell did the man want? He wasn't capable of any more than this. It was already leagues past anything he'd ever wanted before, as far as he remembered. But it wasn't enough. It never would be, would it?
Food? "Not--right now," he tried, but Daniel was already on his way to the little cafeteria. He sighed again and followed him. Drawn around at Daniel's pace. Since he'd left Haven, that was his life, wasn't it?
They settled into a little booth. He stared at the menu without taking anything in. It was probably all overpriced, anyways.
The man from earlier walked in. Bell glanced up, glad for the distraction, the excuse to look somewhere else than at Daniel. He wandered through the cafe and into the back, where the restrooms were. He vanished inside. Bell's heart beat an accelerando in his chest, faster and faster, fear and excitement minging. This was his chance. The man was alone. "I'm--I've got to go to the bathroom," Bell muttered. He stood abruptly. He wanted to smile, but forced himself to keep a straight face. "Get me water and--and something cheap."
With that, he spun and followed the man. In the back of the restaurant, the restroom door swung shut, an echo of the man's passing. He gripped his pipe inside his jacket. This was living. There was no time to feel sorry for himself when he was bashing an idiot's head in. The door grew larger and larger, bland plastic coating featuring the iconic shape of a man. He pushed the door open and stepped inside.
The restroom was empty. A flicker in the corner of his eye as the door shut. Bell turned. The man lunged at him from behind the door. Something glittered in his hands. Bell yanked his pipe from inside his jacket and grinned. Knife and pipe met, and sparks flew.
Silence dominated until Bell-boy broke it with a meaningless comment. Daniel looked over and cocked his head, narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but then dismissed it. Bell-boy didn't seem like the type to care this much, but then, the man did. He always did. Such a sensitive soul underneath it was hard to manoeuvre past all the misconceptions that Bell-boy allowed to bloom in his head sometimes.
"We can go ahead and eat something?" Daniel offered up. "I'd like to see if they have hyenas," he pointed out. Just fleeing because of one stupid question and a mediocre answer wasn't his way of doing things. Daniel flung an arm across Bell-boy's shoulder and leaned in. "You're not in a mood because of my question, are you? I mean, I think I'd have the right to know, yeah? I don't even know whether or not to grieve the old you," he remarked. "Not that I can, but Lenny might."
He let go and shrugged. If Bell-boy wanted to leave, he wasn't stopping him. Daniel didn't think he'd like it either. He'd rather Bell-boy stay, but not with a sour expression on his face of self-loathing and doubt all the time. It wasn't very attractive and certainly not what he thought to know about the Bell-boy he loved. If that came with the years, the memories and experience, Daniel didn't think he'd be patient enough to wait around for it.
"Let's eat something, yeah?" Daniel said and waved at the signs. Food had a way of cheering Bell-boy up regardless of his emotional welbeing. He didn't wait for Bell-boy to protest or argue and instead just followed the signs until a small little hut appeared. It seemed to serve plenty of people indoors and Daniel was keen to get inside. The transition from the warm aquariums into the cold outdoors and back into the heat left him with a shiver going down his spine, but he soon warmed up to the place.
He made a beeline for a comfortable little spot and sank down, grateful to be seated. With Lenny going berserk, he really didn't have the stamina he'd hoped to have. Daniel plucked at the bandages and scratched at them. They were getting itchy.
He breathed out and looked away, back at the jellyfish. It would've been better if he hadn't said anything. He would've been happier. It felt like he'd been thinking over it for nothing, the way Daniel reacted. Was this all a game to him? A way to pass the time, torturing Bell emotionally? He'd known there was no right answer before he started. Should've said nothing. Daniel didn't want [i him], same as Landon. He was just a little better at pretending he did.
"No," he mumbled to himself. It wouldn't be easy. Less so because Daniel and Landon had to get over him to fall in love with him, and how the hell was that supposed to happen? Maybe he should give up. It was hard to see a future where they liked him, and not the old him.
Daniel moved on. He followed silently. Fish stared back, big dead eyes gazing through him. In the bigger tanks, sharks swum by. They looked the deadest of all of them. Their eyes were flat, skin grey. One mouthed at the water distantly, not hungry, just moving its jaws at the water. He closed his eyes. It'd be so much simpler to be a shark. Flop around in the water and be useless. No worries about love or anything else. Just eating and swimming around.
"Lots of fish," he commented vaguely. "Makes me kinda hungry." They hadn't had any fish for a while. Seafood was too expensive, and he usually wanted steak when they were being fancy. Now that he was surrounded by fish, though, it made him want seafood. When they went to the beach--if they made it to the beach, he'd have to get some.
Bell nodded at Daniel. "Is there anywhere else you want to go?" he asked. The mood had been thoroughly killed for him. He was ready to go home. Or, well, as close as anywhere counted as home for the two of them. Maybe he should have left, like he was thinking of doing right at the start. Given Daniel a little time to get used to the idea of the new him. Now he was too scared that they'd kill themselves to do anything that drastic. Someone had to look after the two of them.
A hand reached for his, gentle. Daniel felt like tearing it away, or grabbing it tighter. He couldn't stand the fucked up gentleness. He wasn't fragile like that. In fact, he actually felt very little at all. Other than his body responding, Daniel had no clue on what was going on emotionally. Lenny would know. Sappy old little Lenny.
He almost missed it; a shy whisper, three little words. Hazel eyes redirected their attention from brainless jelly-fish to something Daniel wasn't even sure could be described as human. Could they even attributed these feelings to Bell-boy? Wasn't in unfair to demand something like that from a hollow shell? It was, so why did he still want it so badly? Because he'd always wanted, his mind supplied without missing a beat.
In the memories he'd seen of Bell-boy's life, he'd played a fairly big part at the end of it. Bell-boy let go and Daniel swallowed down whatever scathing comment rested on his tongue. Despite the words, Bell seemed contemplative still, hesitant perhaps to admit his true feelings. Time. Pushing Bell-boy might not be the right strategy. It'd taken Bell some time to realize his feelings for them and allow for it to happen.
So why would this time be different.
Daniel smiled at Bell-boy.
"It's okay," he dismissed. "I know, I know you are," Daniel acknowledged the sacrifices Bell-boy made on his behalf regarding Lenny. "It won't be easy, will it?" Dealing with their split personality wouldn't be easy in a normal setting, let alone one where they travelled the world and killed goats for a 'living'.
Daniel slowly averted his gaze, not even sure what emotion caused him to lose his momentum. Nostalgia? Sorrow? With Bell-boy right there, there had been no time to grieve what was lost and with the goats or 'branches' still out there, he wasn't even sure whether he had to. Either way it left them suspended between being together and not.
He smirked at the jelly-fish and moved on to view what was in the other tanks. Sharks swam calmly in one, lurking around the other fish without making a move. Manta-rays glided through the water with ease and Daniel wasn't even sure what half the fish in the tank were, if it wasn't for the little descriptions underneath the tanks' windows.
If he couldn't be with Daniel. He didn't want that. He didn't want to be alone. Daniel made life better, no question. Even when he was being nuts.
He [i could] be with Daniel. Wanted to, even. Wasn't he with Daniel now? He glanced away, then looked back. It wasn't as complicated as he was making it out to be. It didn't have to be messy. All he had to do was want to be with Daniel. And if that was the case, then it was very simple after all.
Bell reached out and took Daniel's hand, gently, so he could escape if he wanted to. He'd been all tied up in knots, but now he knew the answer. "I love you," he said. It came out quiet, almost a whisper. "I don't know if I love you the way you love me, or the way I used to love you. But I do love you. I want to be with you. If you'll let me."
He let go of Daniel's hand. It probably wasn't what Daniel wanted to hear, but it was all he could offer. It was as close to the truth as he could think to say. What he felt was more than like and less than Daniel's passion. It was only a pale imitation of what it had been, if Daniel was any indication. He felt as if calling what he felt love cheapened it, compared to what Daniel called love. But maybe this was all the love he had to offer anymore.
[i Hell, it's more than what I felt for Lilah, and I thought I loved her,] he thought to himself. If that counted as love, then this was definitely love, no question. He was only waffling over it because of the gulf between him and Daniel's devotion, the difference in the strength of emotion. But if he closed his eyes to that and turned them inward instead, the answer was clear.
"I'm even being nice to Landon for you, y'know?" he said, shaking his head. Wasn't that proof enough? He'd put up with Daniel's asshole half for Daniel's sake. Honestly, he felt like he deserved some kind of medal for it. Sleeping with Landon was a long way off, if it was ever going to happen. Daniel had the totally wrong idea there. Landon wasn't his type by a mile. He still had a hard time believing that he'd fallen in love with Landon first.
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