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Ask the girls was the only other alternative? Great. Daniel took a deep breath, releasing the air slowly. If Hannah's goat would come to them, that'd be convenient, but what'd be the odds of that happening without their knowledge? Daniel wanted to believe it, but more because he couldn't really focus on anything at the moment rather than the alternative. Even driving was almost too much.
Fortunately there wasn't much traffic on the road today. Maybe due to the pending weather. Daniel hoped it wouldn't turn into a storm after all.
"I doubt she'd let the hunters," Daniel snorted, "we've been checking the scanner regularly though, so if that's the case she's likely to pop up on there sooner rather than later."
Something about the kid would warn Miss Hannah of any hunters present, Daniel was fairly certain of that.
Bell-boy opened his mouth to speak, but no sounds came out. Daniel's eyes narrowed for a second, before his attention was drawn back to the road in front of him.
"Penny for your thought?"
Daniel snorted, "more like they talk to me, but yeah...they get right up in there," he pointed at his head. "A thought seems to suffice most of the time," he tried to explain.
"Alice...Alice was different, she read my mind and got out an entire personality. After that though, she kept...using that. Kept using her shell. Unlike the lump-monster," Daniel ventured. That'd taken commands, back then. Or suggestions at the very least. Or maybe that'd been Alice, conveying his thoughts.
"I don't know how I'd actively reach out to one when it's not 'out', you know?" He waved his hand as if to illustrate a goat crawling out of its human shell.
"Unless...there's, well, there's the cogs. Sometimes I dream of this hive-mind, that's got all these goats there. If- I don't know," Daniel shook his head.
"I'm always so insignificant in that and..." he bit his lip.
"Always happens after I've received Bell-goat's blood. But you know, Bell-goat's been there, so why won't it reach out to Miss Hannah for us then?" It'd be like wading through tar, while doped up on the strongest hallucinatory drug available to man-kind, being the most insignificant presence in an ocean of gods.
"Reckon Sam's goat's been there too. If it's, you know. Closer than some. Don't even know if hybrids are connected to that. I think that's why they dislike them in the first place. Because they're their own little sets of cogs."
Maybe if he could find Alice, some way to reach her, she'd easily be able to find Hannah's kid. Maybe.
Bell climbed in slowly, and Spot hopped in afterwards. The dog tried to jump into his lap, but Bell pushed him back down. Not on his achy ribs, no thank you. Spot gave him his best puppy-dog eyes, but Bell wasn't relenting this time. With a huff, the dog finally deigned to settle curled up around his feet.
"He's turning into an outright lapdog," Bell complained, just as Daniel spoke.
What, remorse? Bell raised his eyebrows. Unexpected, from Daniel. "I mean... we should be able to come up with something better, right? Maybe if we ask the girls...?" He sighed, then shook his head. But then what would be the point of pretending they'd had a plan? Sam'd panic. "I dunno. I"ll think on it."
How [i would] they find Miss Hannah? Bell frowned. Wait, hadn't the idea of finding her come from Sam's goat? And the goats were able to communicate somehow, weren't they? Like how watcher-goat had been able to track them everywhere. So... maybe... "Uh, goats can talk, right? And we brought Sam's out, and it suggested Miss Hannah... so, do you think, maybe it told her goat to come to us?" he suggested. Or it could've told Sam where to find Miss Hannah, but since she hadn't expressed a sudden, pressing desire to lead, it probably hadn't.
Then again, 'hope she finds us' wasn't the best plan he'd ever heard, either. "I don't know," he sighed. "If there was a tracker on her, then maybe, but..." well, she'd been pretty vigilant against hunters. What were the chances some would've been able to get close enough to actually plant a tracker on her?
An idea struck him, and he started to speak, then stopped. No, that was stupid. But at the same time... what else were they going to do? He might as well give it a shot. "Did you... you can talk to goats sometimes, right? So... could you talk to Alice? Like, the way you talk to goats?" If Daniel could, maybe he could call out to Miss Hannah's son. It was a dumb plan, but it was the only thing he'd come up with. Then he shook his head. "I don't know. It's a dumb idea." It was probably impossible, anyways.
He felt better for eating, but his ass was still growing cold, leaving his skin to crawl in protest. Daniel got up and smiled at Sam reassuringly.
"Don't worry, you've already proven you're a strong cookie. You'll get through this," he cheered her up. Sam gave him a questionable look, but then sighed out and relaxed a hair. Daniel slowly walked to the van, eager to get the heating on and warm back up. He hadn't failed to catch Bell-boy's grimace at their non-existent plan to deal with the facility. Still, Sam's goat was on to something right? Had to be.
The way it'd shown him the hybrid kid.
Hybrid-Alice had been nothing short of ridiculously powerful. She was also halfway across the world and there was no telling whether they'd ever see Miss Hannah ever again. If they weren't fighters, they'd know about the facility and that'd be the end of it. No fighting, no trying to handle their situation.
Daniel tapped the wheel while he waited for Spot to finish inhaling his food.
There'd be some goats that'd be willing to fight, like Sam. Even amongst a group that was scared. The trick was finding them.
Daniel shivered for good measure and got the van's engine up and running, fiddling with the controls to get the heat going. For now they had to focus on making sure they'd be fighting fit, more than anything else.
Some things about the facility wouldn't change: the vat containing the goat and the presence of hybrids. It was a shame they hadn't managed last time. The chaos back then had been all but perfect.
Spot bounded back inside first, licking his muzzle clean of the last few scraps of food that strayed and then continued searching the floor for anything edible. Daniel rested his arms on the wheel, watching the mutt search while he waited for Bell to settle inside. Once the man had, he started back out on the road, Sam following closely.
"I feel kind of bad for selling her that nonsense," Daniel started with a snort. Lenny's feelings, not his. Guilt wasn't something that happened to him.
"Is all we can come up with little more than 'gas 'em, kill 'em, kill vat-goat'?" he asked. "Say we did want to find Miss Hannah...how would we go about it?"
Burgers and fries and chicken nuggets, a nice share of greasy goodness. Bell dug into the burger first, needing that red meat more than anything, then started in on the fries, stuffing a handful down his throat all at once. Salt, meat, what else did he need? This was perfect. Spot sat down at Daniel's command and did his best starving puppy impression, which... Bell swallowed, considering. Yeah, he probably was. Hadn't been fed last night or this morning, so he'd be running on empty himself. He took another bite of burger. He'd feed the dog when they got back to the car.
The facility. A grimace passed over his face at the mere thought. They'd had a shitty run of it last time, and no mistake. But now they had Sam, and Cat. And... Miss Hannah? Bell frowned. Hadn't she ran away from them? But then again, maybe that'd been because they'd been trying to kill her before. Maybe she wouldn't run away now, if they were trying to recruit her instead.
Assuming they even ran into her. Bell shook his head at himself and washed down the burger with some soda. Daniel was talking big like they had a plan, but he knew that wasn't true. Still putting on a front for Sam, keep her from freaking out? Though, honestly, they kind of did have a plan, didn't they? As long as they replaced "figure out how to make a gas/bomb" with "use Sam's goat," it fit well enough.
"We'll figure something out," Bell said vaguely, grabbing out another handful of fries and munching them down. Sam nodded vaguely. She kept looking at him then glancing away, like it was hard to make eye contact. What on earth had Daniel said? It almost made Bell worried; or, well, would've, if he'd given a fuck what Sam thought.
Daniel was done with his food, so Bell figured it was a good enough time to move on. He grabbed the food bag, stuffed a chicken nugget in his mouth, and climbed laboriously to his feet, then limped back over to the car. "Here, Spot," he called, then spilled out some dog food for the beast. The way it vanished, it almost looked like Spot had a vacuum cleaner for a muzzle. They really had to feed the dog on a more consistent schedule.
"Don't you start picking on me as well!" Sam protested, even more in a huff when Daniel laughed at Bell-boy's comment. He shrugged when Sam pushed his shoulder, then went to sit down next to Bell. Moves like those still made his gut ache, but it was a general soreness, rather than a stabbing or throbbing ache.
Daniel dug into the paper bag and pulled Bell-boy's share out, before unwrapping a burger and sinking his teeth into the food.
Where Cat had been having trouble getting Spot to come over, Daniel almost had to fend off the animal, lest the mutt stole the bag and ate it all. Should probably put out some dog-food for the animal soon.
In a dog-shell.
"Stop that," Daniel commanded Spot, who laid down, head on his front paws, staring at the greasy goodness that spawned from the bag. Big, round eyes stared at the meaty burger in his hand.
Daniel sent Spot a glare, which made him look away again.
It was cold out. Had been for a few days now; especially the air. Had to be them travelling further up north, in combination with a dying summer. Or the fact that he was still a little too warm from bringing the goatling out. If he even had.
But he had, didn't he?
The food hit the spot. It was the sugary drink he'd gotten that made his headache finally recede to an acceptable level though. Still couldn't eat as much as he'd have liked. Daniel sat with an arm across his knee, sipping the fizzy drink while he waited for the others to finish their lunch.
No white vans so far, so that was a bonus.
"So...when we reach the facility...? How are we going to, you know," Sam waved her hand. "There are just so many of them and just a few of us."
Daniel looked up at Sam and sighed. It'd been fun telling her the embarrassing bits, but the harsh truth was more difficult.
"I was hoping we'd find Miss Hannah," Daniel said sourly. "Apparently there are people, like you, who know what they are and are threatened or willing to fight against the hunters." He sighed.
"There are some things we can do. Now that we know what you can do, there are some strategies we can now use," Daniel followed up optimistically. "Just have to be clever about it and pick the right moment. We have everything we need right here." He looked over Cat and Sam. Bell-goat and the goatling hadn't steered them wrong before. After their mess the first time at the facility, he trusted the goats to get it right this time.
It was weird; thinking of the goats as having been 'wrong'. Perhaps overzealous was the better term to phrase it.
Daniel was right: the hunters did tend to drive goats away. It wasn't a serious suggestion, anyways. The longer he thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. It'd only attract the hunters' attention, one way or another.
"Yeah, sounds good," Bell agreed. He didn't want to do much of anything right now but lie down and stop hurting. When Daniel asked for his order, he just shrugged. "Just whatever." Anything would do, as long as it was tasty.
He limped over to the grassy lot where Cat was futilely attempting to play fetch with Spot. Rather than be an active participant, today he just sat and watched, smirking whenever Spot pulled off a particularly spectacular dodge or fake-out. "You're getting schooled by a dog," he informed Cat lazily, a grin playing over his lips.
"Oh, like you did any better!" she snapped back. She lunged forward, trying to tackle Spot to the ground, but the dog slid free of her grasp at the last second and danced away, tail wagging merrily.
Bell snorted, then laid back and stared at the clouds. It seriously looked stormy, all the clouds dark and heavy, foreboding, tall silhouettes on the horizon. It made him feel better, somehow, to see the storm building. Made him feel like he fit in, like the whole world was a bruised mass of pain right now, instead of just him.
Spot suddenly loomed up in his vision, giving Bell a concerned sniff about the head. Bell smirked and reached up, scuffing Spot's fur, then, moving a little too suddenly according to his ribs, stole the toy away. Flabbergasted at having been tricked, Spot barked, then jumped, darting his head down to try and steal the toy back. Bell pushed him away. "'s mine now," he muttered, grinning widely. Ha, see? He could do so much better than Cat.
"You got it?" Cat asked, dubious. Bell held it up towards her, and Cat took the rubber toy with a surprised air. "Huh."
As the toy went sailing off again, Bell heard Daniel's voice. He sat up out of us grass and found the man coming towards him. Sam was sporting a fierce blush; he smirked. "What'd you tell the poor lady, Daniel?" he asked jokingly. It was good to see someone else on the receiving end of Daniel's harassment for once.
"Maybe," Daniel muttered. Goats or hunters. Maybe not goats, considering they'd be an invitation for hunters to pop out of the wood-works. That said, Daniel was kind of keen to let the hunters know they were there. By now, he figured they'd built up quite the reputation. Hatred too.
"Wonder if we'll even find anything this close to the facility -other than hunters," he thought out loud, eyes scanning the horizon. They drove in silence. Daniel opened his eyes when Bell-boy shifted to make sure the guy was doing alright, but Bell only reached for the radio. He couldn't sleep.
Wasn't even weary enough for a doze.
Daniel mindlessly stroked Spot's fur, resting in comfortable silence until Bell-boy pulled over. He looked tired.
"Yeah, I can drive for a while," he agreed. Getting out of the van was met with cold. The clouds above them looked heavy, creating impressive, towering clouds, though the sun remained an active participant in the whole. They wouldn't be having a storm, but rain at the very least.
"You want to watch Spot while I get something then?" Daniel offered, checking over his wallet. Less shrapnel, more card. Didn't seem like the hunters were tracing them that way though. Otherwise they'd have been found out back in the hotel.
"Burger? Chicken? Fries?" he summed up, then waved any order away. He'd get a little something of everything. Sam was out of her car too, half-concerned, half-annoyed.
"Lunch," Daniel started, which eased her expression into one of understanding.
"My treat, want anything?"
"Do they have salads? No, wait, I'll come along," Sam managed at last. She pushed some hair behind her ear and looked at him almost shyly. Debunked a few prejudices whilst he was high, huh?
Yeah, that was awkward.
Cat got out too, though stretched and the brought out a doggy-toy for Spot to get enthusiastic about. The mutt chased after the rubber toy, chewed it, brought it back, but didn't let himself get caught. Same as with Bell-boy. They really ought to teach the mutt to play fetch one day.
"So...are you feeling better?" Sam started, hesitant almost. After seeing Daniel's injuries and seeing him walk around all fine now, she was unable to deny their party was any type or shade of normal.
Insane didn't even come up. This was insane, that was true but...
"As well as can be expected, all things considering," Daniel eased Sam's concerns. She nodded, eyes flitting about. 'All things considering' was still a very vague statement.
"Uhm...Bell, does he-...?"
Daniel raised an expectant eyebrow.
Sam floundered trying to get the words out and an employee interrupted them.
Saved by the bell. Daniel smiled benevolently and put his order in, then let Sam have her pick. While their order was being prepared, Daniel turned to Sam.
"I love Bell."
Sam blushed. "I didn't mean-"
"If...you saw anything...it's probably with consent."
Confusion. Realization. A deeper shade of red. Daniel smirked, then faced their order, making sure everything was there before paying. He gave Sam her food and carried the rest out.
Bell settled into the driver's seat and set the bag of energy bars and water bottles down in between the front seats. Sitting up was a pain, literally, but he could manage. Spot climbed up into Daniel's lap; he shot the man a worried look, but apparently he was healed enough that having a dog on his lap didn't aggravate the injury. Bell breathed out,, quietly relieved. Good.
The van crawled out of the parking lot and back onto the roads. Bell started to relax as he went, though he had to stay twisted at a weird angle to make sure the seatbelt didn't pull at his ribs. When Daniel spoke, he glanced over, then nodded. "Alright,' he agreed. He didn't want to drive all day on these ribs, either. And they were starting to get dangerously close to the facility. Too close with these injuries, and they'd just end up dead.
Draw Sam out? Bell shot Daniel a quizzical glance. They'd already brought her goat out--oh, like that. "Wanna go hunting?" he offered. "Track down some goats?" That'd give Sam a chance to take something down, and it was safer, relatively, when compared to the hunters. Well, excepting Mindy goat, anyways. And it wasn't as though they could really afford to take any more injuries right now.
Bell drove for a while, mindlessly. The pain kept him up and awake and aware, but the driving itself was monotonous. Nothing going on, just driving on and on in the quiet of mid-afternoon. Bell turned the radio on a little to distract him and kept on going. Every mile was a mile away from the crime they'd left behind. Every mile was a mile closer to the facility. They couldn't win, could they? It was just impossible.
A few hours in, he pulled over at a fast food restaurant and sat back, tired. "Ready to swap?" he asked Daniel. He hoped so, because he sure as hell was. He climbed slowly out of the driver's seat and stretched while Spot leaped from the car and dashed around, glad to be freed. "Can grab a snack, too," he added, as he limped over to Daniel. He knew he could use a hamburger.
Bell-boy offered to drive and Daniel gave the man a worried glance. Would Bell-boy even be able to put on a seatbelt with those ribs? On the other hand, protesting it would probably end up with him as a driver and he felt like an abused dish-rag that just popped out of the washer.
"I'll take over after a few, okay?" Daniel offered, huddling into his coat as best he could to guard against the cold. If they exchanged driving for rest more frequently, neither of them would have to suffer through driving all the time.
He watched Spot pop out of the van, go about business and hurry on back. Should've made it a point to get the mutt into the room. Paid a little extra hush-money or whatever. Not that he'd remembered even getting into the hotel, but the sentiment was all the same.
The moist cold was crawling up his spine and the cold seats inside the van didn't help one bit. Daniel wiped down his face and gave Bell-boy a nod. He was ready to go. And apparently he was a pillow for Spot now. He didn't mind as much though.
Spot was nice and warm underneath all that fur.
Daniel was glad it was an overcast day. Having sunshine would've just aggravated his headache. He folded his arms in front of his chest and sank down in the chair, tempted to doze, but he'd already slept too much. Despite his stomach misconduct this morning, he was also hungry again already.
Multiple small meals were where it'd be at healing this gut-injury. Most of it was healed already. Daniel was pretty sure that come dinner time, he could stomach whole meals again. He reached out for a receiver and fiddled with the frequencies; this time, he could actually focus on the presence of any signals, rather than get carried away by a monotone sweep across the radar.
Nothing. There was nothing out there at the moment.
Daniel put the device away and rested back, eyes closed even though he wasn't asleep. The post-chemical haze brought back memories he'd rather not relive.
"How 'bout we drive 'till evening, then find some place," Daniel suggested. If they went too fast, they'd happen upon the facility all unprepared. He'd rather take his time, get some supplies, rest up a little more.
"We need to draw Sam out too. Get her to fight and stop being scared," he muttered, more to himself than anyone in particular. His hands mindlessly toyed with Spot's fur while he talked. A nice warm bed couldn't happen soon enough.
Bell snorted. "It's Sam's fault, not yours." She'd found out they were gay last night, so she should know to knock before pushing the door open. If they'd been more with it, she might've gotten a lot more of an eyeful than a chaste little hug.
Who was driving? Bell considered. Daniel was feverish and still a little hungover--he hadn't failed to notice the wince at Sam's voice. And, last he'd checked, Daniel's foot had still been a problem. His left side was still achy and stiff, which wouldn't have been a problem except that they somehow always ended up with manual cars. He hadn't even thought there were so many manuals left in the world until now. Cat... he could see her expression. She was not up for it, was she?
"I'll drive," he sighed. He could manage it, at least, if it wouldn't be the most pleasant experience. Cat grinned in relief, and he shot her an irritated look. He was not pleased about this one bit.
Outside, it was bitter cold, the sky cloudy and the wind stiff and damp, promising precipitation of some sort, be it rain, sleet, or ice. It was still too warm for snow, but sleet was a distinct possibility. Bell shivered and gripped his coat closed, then hobbled over to the van at top speed. The sooner he got inside, the better.
When he opened the door, though, Spot hopped out. The dog shook himself, gave Bell a jaunty sniff, then ran off towards the grass to take a piss. Bell looked at the girls. They'd put Spot outside?
"Hotel didn't allow dogs. It was just one night," Sam excused herself.
"What if he froze to death?" Bell argued back. He didn't want to deal with an angry sinewy-goat because someone had wanted to leave the dog in the car overnight!
Though at he same time, Spot had survived the wilds of Pennsylvania on his own. He was probably fine to spend a night outside in the car. Bell shook his head. He wasn't really angry about Spot, was he? Just hurt, and short-tempered for it.
"He's fine, isn't he?" Sam said.
Bell nodded shortly. Spot came back and jumped in, none the worse for wear, and he climbed slowly into the driver's seat, stepping up onto each step with his right leg, then his left, and hauling himself slowly into his seat. Then all there was left to do was to wait for Daniel, and they could be off.
Of course Bell-boy couldn't be 'cute'. He was cool, mean and strong. Daniel snorted and found a pair of shorts, then picked the tallest jeans for himself, leaving the other for Bell. A shirt and sweater followed, going a long way into stifling the cold from making his skin crawl.
"Yeah," he confirmed. Time they went back on the road. They'd already overstayed their welcome. Daniel held up his coat, trying to decide whether it was worth it; stains there too. Less so than the shirt and pants he'd worn earlier though.
Arms wrapped tightly around him, nice and warm. Daniel leaned into the hug, but held back when he realized that Bell-boy wasn't a hundred percent yet.
He sighed. "Me either," Daniel whispered softly. The door opened -Sam. Her expression was priceless. That, and her voice was grating. Daniel winced, but manned up. He'd have to face the music sooner rather than later.
Bell-boy let go. Gone was the peaceful and quiet atmosphere they'd enjoyed a minute ago. Now everything was harsh, loud and present.
Good. Daniel snorted. Sure they were 'good'.
He shrugged into his coat and made sure everything was in its rightful place; card back in his wallet, bat where it belonged, coins out of the old pockets and painkillers back in his coat. Bell-boy probably wouldn't approve him carrying the pills, but whatever, right?
"Well, that made things awkward quick," Daniel muttered into the bottle of water. Shit. That was on him. Sam had been awkward about her suspicion of Bell-boy being a sadist before, but now she knew for a fact that they were gay.
"I'm sorry...I think," he said, then sighed.
Bell-boy's limp was prominent, but not as crippling as it had been before. For one, Bell didn't need to abuse him for a crutch this time along. Daniel followed Bell-boy back into the hotel, feeling refreshed for once; clean and not smelling like something that was dredged up from the sewers. They got less looks as well, though still some judgemental looks regarding their fashion choices.
"Wait, who's driving?" Daniel pitched.
Sam and Cat were already waiting in the lobby, talking amongst each other. Their conversation didn't seem to be that private, because Daniel caught whispers of favourite meals before they cut it off.
Sam tried her best to smile. Cat seemed defiant already.
It was obvious Cat did not fancy driving.
"I feel better," Bell replied. He yawned and sat back, propping himself up on the pillows. Like this, he might drift off again. It'd be nice, just spend the whole day napping...
But they couldn't. Daniel climbed out of bed, and, after a moment of internal struggle, Bell followed him. "'M not cute," he complained, shuffling over to the clothes. Nice, clean clothes, that'd feel nice on his clean skin. "You're cute."
He grabbed a few pieces of clothing and sat down on the edge of the bed, sighing heavily. Ugh. He didn't want to move. Still, they had to. He dressed slowly, left side holding him up; his arm was mobile, but it still pulled at sore ribs every time he raised his arm, and he had to sit to pull his shorts and pants on, unable to balance on his bad leg alone for long enough to step into them.
Then he was done, and there was no more excuse to spend on waiting around in the hotel room. Bell sighed again, then looked at Daniel. "Time to go?" he half-asked, half suggested. Back out into the cold. He wasn't looking forward to it. A preemptive shiver ran though him. He walked over to Daniel and hugged him, holding on tight so he could steal Daniel's warmth. And Daniel was warm, almost over-heated. It felt nice, but was a little concerning. Probably it was just from the poison, but he still didn't like it.
"Don't wanna go," he whined impotently. Then he sighed and gathered himself to step away. They had to get a move on.
"You guys ready to-- oh, sorry, sorry," Sam said, rapidly retreating.
Bell stepped away from Daniel and caught the door before she could close it. "We're good," he said. "You?"
"Uh, yeah, yeah, we're good," Sam said, nodding. She seemed unable to make eye contact with him, which was hilarious in its own way.
"We'll pack up and meet you down there," he told her. Sam nodded, and Bell released the door to let her retreat.
They actually had some packing up to do for once, what with Sam having unloaded the whole car for them. Bell found a bag and piled all the water bottles and energy bars inside, grabbing the bottle he'd already opened to finish it off. Then he nodded at Daniel, pulled his coat on, and limped out towards the great outdoors.
For a moment Daniel just sat there, calming his breathing and listlessly towelling dry. It felt like he was suffering the hangover of hell, without the party or memories to accompany the experience.
"Hell of a party," he whispered under his breath. Bell-boy looked peaceful. Daniel watched the man sleep, then tore himself from his daze and decided travelling could wait. They were safe in the hotel for now. Every single minute Bell-boy could rest was one they desperately needed. Moving made sure they couldn't be found as easily, but travelling also exposed them to be found at the same time.
Daniel gave in after another few moments of nothing. The hotel walls weren't paper-thin, so it was relatively quiet in the room. He reached for another painkiller and settled next to Bell-boy, pulling up the comforter to cover up his feverish body.
Shouldn't have used the goatling as much. Didn't seem like he'd had a choice though.
He dazedly watched the television flash from home-sales to another programme and dozed off to a mute cooking-show. Shifting on the bed pulled him back to reality; Bell-boy was awake. Good.
Only a second later the door opened to reveal Cat, with clothes.
Good girl. Daniel smirked. Cat had her uses.
"Fucking hell-" he protested Cat's shriek, one hand to his ear, already halfway into a seat. Cat dashed out of their hotel-room, back to her part of the room. She left behind a confused Bellwether and a heap of clothes.
Daniel found the source of Cat's fright and smirked appreciatively.
"Her loss," Daniel sighed out, trying to calm his thumping heart down. Bell-boy looked better at least. More mobile.
"You look better," he commented lazily, stretching out on the bed. If there wasn't so much pressure on them leaving in a timely fashion, he could get into exploring more of Bell-boy's body.
"I know you said we should leave, but you were too cute, all asleep like that," he snorted. His headache was a little better with the painkillers, but honestly not by much. It'd get better once the strange toxin cleared his system, undoubtedly. Or maybe he ought to drink a little more water. Bleeding tended to dehydrate the body.
Daniel sat up and grabbed a bottle of water, then fished some of the clothes from the floor. Second-hand clothes. Decent jeans though. And clean.
He only dimly registered the tub draining, the warmth escaping away from him. Then he was on a beach, and the tide was running out, leaving him cold and dry on the shore. A towel rolled up over him, warming him up, and he cuddled down into the sand, seeking the sun-warmed heat of the surface.
Ants crawled over his arms, then targeted his left arm, crawling around over the skin. Bell shifted lazily, away from the ant hill, but they followed him, seeking out his arm. They were eating it, taking little bits of flesh away from his bone, stealing away with the flesh and even the bone. He tried to bat them off, but it hurt just to touch his arm. It was a black mass of ants now, the little creatures blanketing his flesh and blood and bone to pure black.
Then they melted together, all the ants becoming the featureless black of goat-flesh. Bell clawed at it as it climbed up his arm, tendrils racing for his body. His fingers sank into the flesh and pulled chunks away, soggy, rotten flesh coming free by the handful. He got a good grip and yanked, and his whole arm fell off. Black goat's blood spilled from his body, and he fell, face down, into the sand, as the sand was stained black with his blood. Sand, sky, sea, everything was black, and then--
Bell woke up, eyes opening slowly. He felt disoriented as shit, like the whole world was just a little bit wrong, somehow. Bed? He was in a bed. How--the shower, he'd been taking a bath and then--oh. Daniel must have...yeah.
The door between the rooms opened, and Cat peeked in. "I got you clothes," she said. Bell nodded and sat up, rubbing his eyes blearily. Suddenly, Cat screeched, threw the clothes at them, and vanished. Confused, Bell glanced down. Oh. Naked under the blanket, huh? Oh well.
He didn't hurt as badly. His shoulder in particular felt better, and he glanced down, taking it all in. The bruises had faded some, but mostly on his shoulder, where they looked like old bruises now, not fresh ones. He scratched his chin, then stretched. Well, that was good, that was good. With both arms working, he'd stand a better chance against the hunters for sure.
Bell-boy melted into the tub and Daniel paused undressing for a short moment to watch the guy. So many bruises. All of his left side was affected, like his skin had caught some kind of infectious disease and it was spreading at an alarming rate. Especially the shoulder, ribs and hip seemed painful and dark. Despite that, Daniel gave in to Bell-boy's invitation and joined him in the tub. The water was nice and warm, soothing some of the aches he had. Whatever they'd done, he was left with bruises too somehow. Especially on his forearms.
They were weird-looking.
Daniel didn't remember receiving the injuries. None of them, except maybe the gut-injury. That memory was hazy at best.
Once the water shut off though, Daniel sighed out in relief. The bathroom was well-insulated, drowning out all the noise from outside, leaving only the serene dripping of the occasional drop of water from the tap falling into the tub.
Bell-boy's voice sounded drowsy. Daniel could tell the exact moment Bell-boy succumbed to sleep too -he felt the man slip against him. He let the man, hoping Bell-goat would use the moment to put a dent into healing Bell-boy's injuries to a greater extent. Just for a little while anyway.
As long as it took to wash off all the blood.
It was right under his nails, all dried up. Daniel scrubbed at the red, trying to get rid of it all. It took him a good while, but finally there was only the red of his heated skin, rather than the blood. The dried blood on his stomach was easier to wash off.
By the time he was finished the water was growing tepid.
Daniel sat up, found the stopper and unplugged the tub.
"Bell-boy...?" he tried, brushing his fingers by Bell's hair. He didn't think he could carry the guy -not all the way to the van anyway. Or maybe he could stretch their stay into the afternoon, just rest up, drive at night. There'd be less police on the road at that hour.
Daniel sighed and grabbed a towel from the rack, then carefully started to towel Bell-boy dry. Hair first, a firm but gentle scrub, then careful, just mildly dabbing at the bruised skin. Daniel supported Bell-boy's head as he got out, which made it easier to get his arm behind Bell's shoulders and underneath his legs.
"Ugh, you're heavy, why did you eat so much?" Daniel complained as he carried Bell over to the bed and finished drying the man there. Soon he had Bell-boy covered in a blanket, leaving him to rest and had to sit down on the edge of the bed himself, a hand pressed against the scar. The pain was deep this time.
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