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"I thought you wanted to find shelter," Landon remarked when Bell started to divvy up positions, but didn't fight the man's choice to stake out the house. If anything was more changing than the weather it appeared Bellwether's mood and decisions. Rather than waiting around for another of Bell's snark comments, Landon moved to his designated alley and sighed out, head cocked at the dismal little street he was supposed to hide out in. There was little shelter to be had there, and the rain was coming down harder it seemed. Just underneath the edge of the house, where the drain hung two stories up, there was a small dry strip Landon crouched down under, back flush against the gritty wall, head tipped back.
The pounding headache simmered to a manageable drone without having to think or hold up conversation. Dark clouds flit on by to rob any warmth from the streets but Landon found it refreshing -for about fifteen minutes. After that he just felt even more miserable than before. The crouch soon became a slump and finally Landon just sat down, no longer trying to stave off the shivers or water from soaking his clothes and bandages. His arms were folded up tightly against his chest, legs drawn up and head down, hoodie guiding most of the rain down onto the pavement.
Why had he chosen to do this again?
When would Bell's testing stop? He understood, up till certain extent, why the man acted this outlandish.
At last the rain eased up a little. Landon glanced sideways and caught the tail-end of the woman's red umbrella, her handbag not clutched high this time but bumping into her fat thigh as it dangled from a tiny strap. Recalling Bellwether's instructions, Landon crawled to an unsteady stand, composed himself and casually followed after, not even making sure the other was following.
His heart pounding loudly in his chest, following the drum of his skull. Or was it the other way around? There was no way he'd get the woman alone somewhere. At least she wasn't suspicious of him -or well, the goat in her didn't realize he knew. As the posh woman she was, she obviously felt uncomfortable with a straggler. Not that she noticed. Her nose was so far up in the air, her neck might as well sprout eyes.
Was that what he'd looked like to Bellwether at first?
Landon snorted despite of himself. Probably.
What happened next was good as well as bad. The woman wanted to cross the park. Would there be people there? Not with this weather. Then again, if the goat wanted to abuse a short-cut, there would likely be others. Landon's eyes looked around and he decided it would be better to wait for another opportunity. Shelter did sound appealing by that point. Wiping at the water dripping from his nose, Landon skittishly watched traffic and followed after the woman. Maybe Bell would be right, and the goat would actively approach them, hoping for an easy win. Gutsy.
Don't pretend he cared? From a very rational standpoint, Bellwether cared a lot. Landon was his meal ticket. The man went down from an infection, and the gravy train left town. But aside from that...it was a struggle to say he was emotionally invested in Landon's survival. Still, what the hell did the man want? An undying pledge of love and loyalty? "Goddamn, what the hell? Excuse me for trying ta make sure ya don't fall down sick," he snapped, glaring at Landon.
At least it meant that Landon didn't feel unduly bothered by the gash in his forehead. Maybe he should just ignore it, play it cool and wait for the man to say something about it. Mr. Suit probably wasn't used to other people telling him what to do. Probably he was the bossman in his shiny little office. Well, whatever. Let him suffer. If he got an infection he'd get a fever first, and then Mr. Boss wouldn't have much choice but to take whatever Bellwether decided to give him. He twisted his lips into something like a grin. Yeah, that was a better plan. It'd teach bossman over here some respect.
It was no surprise the man wanted a weapon first; in his place, Bell would have made the same choice. He wasn't an idiot, just an asshole. He lurked outside, doubly uninterested in whatever Landon choose. He set out a small pouch and put the coin change from the earlier meal in it, rattling the coins at passerby with no great success. When Landon emerged with the bat, he stood and put the pouch away.
"You like those things, huh? Used to play or what?" he asked idly, flicking his wrist at the purchase.
It was still raining, but now that he'd decided not to give a shit about Landon, the choice was easy. He led the other man back towards the house. "I'll sit on this corner," he said, gesturing towards an alley to the left of the house, "and you can take that one." This time, the right. "Don't do anything rash. Number one priority is to get her alone. You manage that, go on ahead to step two. I'll be right behind you. You can't manage that, no problem. Follow her. Get an idea of her habits and tendencies. There'll be something to exploit. There always is."
With that, he walked away and turned down the alley, settling in under a thick doorframe to get out of the rain as much as possible. It wasn't comfortable or enjoyable, and soon he was shivering, but the fact that he had the advantage over Landon made it bearable. He'd eaten this morning, such as it was, and he was used to this kind of situation, where Landon was used to a nice warm house and a thick roof overhead. With the injury on top of all that, he'd be more surprised if the big old softy didn't come down with something.
But that was exactly what he wanted.
Buy a gun? What was Bell on? Even if he had a permit, they'd have to wait around for the certificate and issuing for such a document would instantly put them on the radar. Never mind that such a firearms certificate could only effectively be used in his residential area, for recreation or otherwise. Landon lived square in the city, there was no need for him to own anything. Hell, most police didn't even carry weapons.
"Keep dreaming about that gun," Landon groused at Bell.
The rain wasn't anything overly surprising, though it took a few moments for Landon to notice the thick drops were creeping through his blond hair, and soaked the bandage regardless of the pulled up hoodie. Suppressing a yawn now that the immediate danger was postponed, Landon listened to the various options he got. Get a weapon or get some rest. He wouldn't rest without having a weapon, knowing a goat was so close. Could they change form after having decided on a human to replace? It didn't seem like it.
After Bell's impatient explanation, Landon didn't much care for asking.
"Don't pretend you care," Landon pointed out Bell's mentioning of the bandages. The man had all but forgotten he existed the moment a goat showed up, and frankly, Landon expected no more mercy-calls or sympathy. He'd just have to be more careful not to get kicked by the goat's flailing limbs this time. The unnatural strength still baffled Landon.
"Weapon first," he dead-panned his choice and wiped some rain from his eyes to see whether they had a local sports- or hardware store in the vicinity, but it didn't look like it. Probably some few streets down the road. Was it alright to leave the goat be? It appeared stuck to the form quite effectively once chosen, or was it kept back by human's memories?
By human fears?
Regardless, Landon didn't think he'd sleep any at all, with the way the painkillers were simply pushed aside by his headache. Pulling up the phone, he drew up some maps and searched for local stores before taking one last look at the house. Goose bumps pulled the skin of his neck taut at the idea of another encounter but another part needed to see one again, just to make sure it wasn't a one-time thing. To prove he wasn't insane. That he hadn't trusted Bell just because he'd been too confused to do anything else.
Trust of course, was a big word to use in what they currently had for coalition. Putting the phone back carefully, Landon started walking in the general direction of the store, wishing they could live in a country like America, where weapons could be bought around each corner and carried without it being an offence.
Maybe they should cross the ocean. Just not the direction Bell was considering travelling. That said, the prevalence of the goats was higher here it seemed. Unless Bellwether had come from America. It wouldn't surprise Landon one bit.
His clothes got him new looks. No longer scared or worries, but plain dismissive. Ignoring the store-owner, whose gaze was trained on them both for the sole purpose of making sure no theft would occur, Landon searched for the baseball bats. The aluminium ones would dent, the wooden ones would break. There were a few made of polypropylene however he rather liked. They had a nice weight to them as well.
"Can I help you, sir?" the clerk came up and Landon looked up. The man's arms were folded defensively.
"This one," Landon caught himself and pointed out a satisfying bat.
Surprised Landon was actually making a purchase, the man took the bat and tallied it up. As Landon suspected, he no longer had sufficient cash, but the store didn't argue against plastic either. At the last moment Landon added a small knife. You never knew.
He'd rip up something to be able to tie the bat to him later. For now Landon felt safer holding the weapon anyway. Finding shelter or staring at the house -either would result in the same to Landon.
Landon's question made him jump; he'd forgotten the man was with him, in the heat of the moment. He sighed and relaxed, standing up tall, then gestured for him to keep walking. With a glance, he took note of the building, of the gold number over the door: 536.
"Usually, I wait until they go somewhere secluded of their own accord. Sometimes they try and confront me--the masks do," he said, meaning the human appearance of the goat. "Sometimes they're even kind about it, and that's always easy to handle." He shrugged. "Someone like her? Memorize her pattern, catch her out alone, or at dark; or if she sticks strictly to public places, lurk around until she feels uncomfortable and takes a new turn just to get away from me, then jump her. At least the mask won't be able to fight back. Weak thing like her, we could probably kidnap her and take her somewhere quiet, so long as the goat doesn't feel threatened." He glanced at Landon, gaze cutting through the corners of his eyes. "But it means we'll be here a while."
It meant they'd be near Landon's home longer, and his woman, and all the pleasures that came with those. Subconsciously, he'd been trying to move Landon out of here quickly, take him out of his comfort zone, away from the people he knew. But now, that wasn't an option. They'd have to stay, at least for a time.
"A week, at most," he added, projecting the timeframe. "We get lucky, we can still leave tonight, but it's not exactly likely."
He cast a long gaze at Landon at the next complaint. "So buy one, Mr. Moneybags. Guns work as well as anything, if you've got the permit, the ammo, and the feet to get the hell out of there afterwards. Or you could get yourself a shiny new slugger; you seemed to like the one you had."
Fat, heavy drops started falling from the sky. They soaked into his hair, splattered down his cheeks, and in another second, it was pouring. He ducked under a nearby overhang and peered out at the passerby, crossing his arms in an uncomfortable sort of way. The patchwork semi-leather jacket would keep him dry for the time being, but it wouldn't last long. In a downpour like that, they'd have to get somewhere quick.
He gestured shortly at the sky. "Weather like this, and granny won't be out until tomorrow. We can leave things for now, but we'll have to be back early tomorrow: old people don't sleep long. Weapon or shelter? Your choice. But don't forget we've gotta get that bandage taken care of."
It felt like making a date with a psychiatrist; a room to see about his head. South to wait for the upcoming storm to blow over. More so than evading the bad weather, Landon was glad they would take a few days to recuperate. Of course, in typical Bellwether fashion, that spiritedly hope was mowed to lawn-level when the man's stance turned rigid. Landon ran his eyes by Bell, and didn't waste much time to follow the other's gaze. An older woman. She'd responded to that infernal bell and not just that -Bellwether's face.
He really shouldn't have forgotten to bring the bat.
Landon searched Bell, and was pleased to find the old pipe was still in the other's possession. It was also swiftly walking in the opposite direction of where Landon was stood. Deciding to leave a little space between them so they wouldn't be regarded as a 'set', Landon hoped his added presence could create a surprise-effect later on in the game. It was also a good time to observe how Bell usually went about this. Of course, Landon suspected the other tended to stake out the goats first, but on the other hand, if recognizing them took this kind of tactic, there never was such a thing as tactical advantage. The goat wasn't sure why it ran. Bellwether and Landon were.
But where would it run to?
Landon pulled his hoodie up and stuffed his hands deep down his pockets as the wind picked up. What would force a goat to fight? They were walking alongside a busy street; people were visiting the shops, going about their business as usual. Some put some fire to their pace to get home before the downpour started, but other than that it was a regular old day.
The woman turned around the corner, purse still clutched close, but her stance different now -defiant almost. One ferocious look over her shoulder and she scaled a couple of steps and rang a doorbell. It didn't take long before the door opened to a woman who had some semblance to the old goat -pun not intended.
They greeted like family would and the door shut behind.
Landon caught up to Bell.
"Are you awake?" Landon asked demurely, recalling that morning's dismissal of his questions.
"What are we going to do now?" he posed. Landon feared the reply would be to 'wait' for an opportunity. Hadn't the other said something about enough trauma provoking the goat? The blunt object to the head got his doppelgänger's brains spilling sufficiently it seemed. But they could just as easily run. So a trap?
Maybe if Bell went in alone at first, it wouldn't feel intimidated. It could've been part of the man's success all along.
"I still don't have a weapon," Landon added sourly. He'd feel safer knowing he could do something other than try to punch a goat in the nose. Fists wouldn't exactly batter a heart to pulp.
Landon did have a point. "Yeah, not out here. We could get another room somewhere...honestly, probably the best idea," he said, shrugging. They had money to do that now, after all. "Or find a public bathroom that's not too nasty, go take over a changing room in some little shop. Your money, your call."
A car would be nice. Plenty of people lived in their cars, and it was better than living on the street. "Do you have the money for that?" he asked. Cars were expensive. He wasn't sure exactly how expensive, but you couldn't just keep buying cars left and right, could you? He'd have bought one if they were cheap enough for that.
He nodded. Landon had a point about the authorities, moreso than he knew. Even with his convenient alibi, there were a more than a few crimes waiting to be pinned on him that he'd rather not be associated with. And a car would apparently attract their attention, huh? Well, it made sense. People were always trying to get licence plate numbers in the movies. Probably it had some basis in real life.
With a shrug, he tabled the car discussion for later. It wasn't like they were in immediate need of a car. Trains would do well enough for now.
"If we're gonna move on today," he said, putting a plan into place, "we should probably take a train to the south--" he'd decided for himself that they were going south, "--and get a room once we get there to see about your head. If we're gonna wait till tomorrow, then there's no reason not to hole up somewhere and wait for this storm to pass." He twisted his lip, thinking.
The clouds above were like a thick grey blanket; they could begin to drop rain on their heads any second. A chill wind blew, reminding him how soon winter was, and his bell clanged again. One of the passerby, a matronly old woman with a strict bun, gave it a hard look, and he watched her as she passed by. Was that the confusion of old age and senility, or the muted recognition of the goat?
Without thinking, he began to stalk after her, his motions too carefully casual to be natural. He'd forgotten about Landon in the moment, and left him behind. The bell clanged again, and she shot a look over her shoulder. He smiled familiarly. Her eyes settled on his face, and for a second her eyes went wide. She'd recognized him, but she didn't know why. She was one of them. His stance went subtly tense, walk now more leveled and cautious. She hurried away, clutching her purse to her chest, and he gave slow, walking-pace pursuit.
"I'll get a newspaper tomorrow," Landon replied when Bell inquired about any more stops they'd have to make. Right now Landon didn't think he could even focus on the small font of a newspaper for longer than ten minutes on end anyway, let alone draw conclusions from the data presented to him. The darkened sky was something of a relief as it didn't force Landon to strain his eyes against the finicky sunshine as much.
Giving Bellwether a deadpan stare to try and find any maliciousness in the other's actions, Landon gave up and sighed. Apparently the other man had managed fine tending to the injury the other day and he'd just have to risk the jump. Rather some pain now than an infection later. That said, Landon was sure that even if the cut infected, it wouldn't hold them back too much. It wasn't a debilitating injury. He wished the headache would die down though.
"Out here on the street?" Landon suggested ludicrously, giving room for thought on finding a spot at least a bit more private and sanitary if he was going to be cleaning the blood away again. Not many onlookers would take kindly to that sight.
The bell's sound made Landon wince at first but he got used to the clanking noise, eyes flitting about nervously. It was as if the sound made Landon even more aware that anyone could be a goat -anyone except for Bellwether. Maybe that was why Landon demanded he stay with the man. No goat would kill its own, surely?
"I don't care where you want to go next -don't know where you've been," Landon confessed and shrugged. Numb hands fiddled with the phone and the small plastic bags, sealing the top shut. Experimentally trying out the buttons, Landon was satisfied that rain wouldn't get to it, even if they got soaked. The bandage around his head would be tougher to keep dry. At least Bell wasn't planning on them spending the day out in the rain.
"If we do get a car..." Landon thought long and hard.
Would it be smart? "It can't be in our names, and we can't ride one and the same vehicle longer than a month before ditching it," he mused while stuffing the phone away between the vast layers of clothes, tucked safely against his chest. It would be hard enough to keep off the radar if they did use Landon's money and credit cards. Any plastic could be traced. More so than the goats, Landon worried about authorities.
Having a car right then and there did sound like bliss though. It would also provide them with a place to sleep, but would be more expensive than train-tickets in the long run.
"If people start piecing together the odd string of animal-cruelty and random disappearances, we're in deep shit," Landon remarked. Bellwether had the alibi of having a doppelgänger at least. That wouldn't prevent any cop from shutting in a John Doe however.
Bell snorted derisively. "I'm no cross dresser, I've just got that mythical thing called a sense of style. Can't to you tell?" He gestured at his piecemeal and ragged ensemble, of which no two pieces matched another. With a wink and a grin, he left Landon behind and went to look through hats and shoes. Again, nothing ticked his fancy, and before long he grew bored.
At least Landon wasn't overly picky. Before long, he was paying and getting dressed in the little stall of the changing room. Bellwether wandered back towards women's clothes, mindful of the clerk's watchful eyes; he pulled randomly at the dresses, humming to himself and making a big show of looking. With his lower hand, the one out of view of the clerk, he slipped the satin shirt off its hanger and balled it up, then tucked it smoothly into a pocket. The whole range of motion was within the limited swing of his injured shoulder, which was just another bonus. Sure, Landon probably would've bought it for him, but he didn't want him to know he'd actually wanted it, let alone that he had it. He went on playing with the clothes until Landon emerged from the changing room, then went over to him.
Though he'd barely registered a change when he'd stolen the shirt, his heart started pounding when Landon asked if he looked attractive. Had he noticed after all? Had he--
No, that was stupid. He was just playing with him. Bellwether rolled his eyes in response and led him back out, winking at the clerk as he passed. She glared at him but didn't say anything, and he smiled to himself. Home free.
Outside, the sky was growing dark, threatening rain. He glanced at it, then nodded at Landon. "You have any other chores you wanted to get to, or did we get them all? We'll have to find somewhere before the rain starts, or head to the station and catch a train somewhere sunnier. Maybe even ferry to the mainland." He shrugged. It was all the same to him.
The bandage on Landon's head was starting to look really grody, and he gave it a hard look. "You sure you don't want me to change that?" he asked. "Infections aren't fun, take it from me."
He reached down and undamped the bell, kicking a leg out to make it ring. Now that they were up and dressed, they'd be alright to be looking for goats, though he doubted there were too many left here. Even the one who'd tried to take Landon's place had been a newborn, not an older, settled goat.
Well, that explained Bell's sexual frustration at least. Dazed eyes lifted to see what manner of clothes Bellwether offered up and he raised a single, unimpressed eyebrow at the bright colours. It almost hurt his eyes to see the orange and purple.
Not sure whether Bell was serious in his choice of clothes, Landon stared down at his hands and noticed at last he was looking through a rack of dresses. They'd be practical in certain situations, but not where they were going, nor on his hips. Lowering his hands, Landon clutched the rack and swung around to face Bellwether.
"Do you?" he retorted lamely, hinting at the other's obvious hesitation with putting back the purple cloth.
"They can't catch you with your pants down if you wear a dress," Landon muttered and sighed out, putting a little more effort into orienting himself and finding the male section. Some faded jeans wouldn't go amiss, and would be useful in general. Landon figured the amount of layers Bell wore was excessive, but two layers should do, and no one could rob the clothes off of your back without a struggle. Finding a formless hooded sweater and some shirts, one short-sleeved and the other long, Landon continued on to the shoes-section and found a pair of boots that didn't have the bottom falling out, but would at the very least manage to keep his feet from getting wet. That said, the thrift-store was lacking in certain necessities like underwear and decent socks, but Landon figured he'd get those when the weather truly turned sullen and cold.
Lastly he found some sweat-pants to complement the holes in the jeans and contemplated the coats. Most of the clothes were dull in colour. Standing out wasn't necessary much. Maybe the clerk would be kind enough to get him some plastic zip-lock bags Landon knew they used for the small change; to keep his phone dry. It would become an important item from here on out and the main source of their cash-flow. He smiled at the clerk behind the counter, who appeared less than intimidated by the impressive bandages covering his forehead. She returned the smile and raked up the tally.
Landon coughed up the money and pointed at the fitting-stalls, "do you mind if I change into my 'new' clothes straight away?"
At that her brow furrowed, and her eyes flicked to Bell for a moment, but she nodded at last. "Sure," 'knock yourself out', Landon mentally supplied the words she'd swallowed on account of being polite.
"Thanks," he said and took the clothes, assured Bellwether wouldn't go anywhere. The girl behind the counter hadn't reacted any differently to looking Bell in the face, so it was a safe bet she wasn't a goat. The thought felt alien.
Since when did he screen people for being 'goats'. They definitely needed a different name for them. The clothes were as ill-fitting as his ruined suit, but after some tugs and pulls, they were comfortable at least. Two layers of pants, three layers of shirts, one scruffy coat. Landon spotted himself in the mirror. His face looked gaunt -from the pain, he suspected- and so much unlike himself. Tired eyes glared back from underneath a thick bandage, which was slowly turning a deeper pink where the cut had been.
Maybe Bell's attempts at changing it weren't laced with malice after all.
It was hard to tell.
A day's worth of stubble made his cheek rough and Landon sighed. Given another few weeks the awkwardness of being a stray would sink into normalcy. What he really wanted was to get some rest. His concussed brain had trouble keeping up pace.
"Ready," Landon left the privacy of the stall and approached Bell, "am I attractive now?" he teased the other male. Landon hadn't even realized he'd been cold until he was wearing enough clothes to ward it off. Summer was already retreating to make place for autumn after all.
Pay the train fare...well, he supposed it wasn't outright a waste of money, but...he wasn't exactly used to the idea of being able to just throw money around like that. Trains could be expensive, especially for long rides, and it was relatively simple to avoid the fare.
Landon's advice to not spend it all in one place seemed fairly ridiculous when he'd been given twenty pounds; a meal at a crappy little diner like this would have to be something, to come to twenty pounds. "Couldn't if I tried," he returned, and hurried up to the counter to pay the woman, putting the change back in one of his many pockets.
"I don't want your woman," he replied playfully, keeping his voice studiously light-hearted. Lady-bits were weird and he didn't understand them. The less he saw of them, the better, though he'd learned on the streets it was often best to act as though they were the be-all end-all of sex. "But give it a couple of weeks and you'll want your woman. Then you'll understand why I kept bugging you. This life isn't exactly the kind that gets you good lays and committed relationships."
He followed Landon to a little consignment shop and gravitated immediately towards the leather jackets. There wasn't a large selection, and the two they had were both several sizes too small for him. Thin as he might be, he wasn't short, and with the bulk of all the clothes he piled on his frame, he effectively wasn't thin either. He gave up and drifted back to Landon's side, pulling at the clothes out of boredom. "Ooh, look at this!" he cheered, pulling out a neon-orange tracksuit. "Oh, or this." This time it was a purple satin shirt with rhinestones for buttons. He almost put it back, then paused and looked at it. He kind of liked it, and if he...
He would totally give up the game, though. He put the shirt back with a sigh. "Anyways, what're you doing in women's clothes? Does Landon have a little secret?"
Shutting his eyes and leaning back as the coffee settled the pills in a less than favourable way, Landon peeked at Bell's smug face. Slowly blinking, Landon realized that when he'd said 'we', Bellwether had assumed they'd get suitable or new clothes for them both. Landon wasn't eager to spend the full pound to get clothes that would likely be messed up on their first intimate encounter with another goat. That said, there would be nothing like a 'new' car either.
"Towed," Landon muttered when Bell asked him about the other car. If the man had wanted to drive around in the vehicle, he should've made sure to bring it along in the first place. Landon hadn't even thought about how useful a car could be. Then again, a bloodied, messy vehicle would potentially just get them into more trouble. Never mind that license plates could easily be tracked and made them less under the radar than Bellwether's current method of travelling around.
"Cars are no good, and I can pay the train-fair," Landon mentioned, smacking his lips. The coffee was deplorable and left a nasty after-taste in his mouth.
As long as they were ahead of the goats killing their doppelgänger, everything would be fine -no one missing, murdered or whatever else. No suspicion raised. However if they were too late, things were different. Maybe that was why Bell had allowed his own alter ego to take over his life.
Resting his head in a propped up hand, Landon waited for the painkillers to do more than make him feel physically ill. When the pill finally did kick in, it couldn't suppress the spikes of pain stemming from moving too hurriedly entirely. Bell's giddiness over having his money to spend, or just money in general, made Landon cringe. Just how much hardship had this kid seen? He couldn't be older than twenty-five, so when had the goat taken over?
"Don't spend it all in one place," he muttered softly by means of advice and testing the waters. The painkillers managed okay.
"Also I'm done with my 'woman', so you can have her -you seem to take a massive interest," Landon said cynically. "Are you done eating?" he groused, getting up with no intent to pay. The other man had two tenners in his pocket, so he might as well pay for his own grub. The deal had never been for Landon to vomit money all over the place all the time. Of course, he wouldn't let Bell starve too much, if he could help it.
Aside from that, Landon had used cash to pay for most things and it was now starting to run thin. He'd have to either find an ATM or tear out the plastic. With the aid of the painkillers it was easier to get around, but still not pleasant. His eyes smarted in a weird way as they adjusted to the light outside and even the cars passing by sounded like roaring Harleys.
Without waiting for Bellwether, Landon looked around and recalled there was a second-hand shop around somewhere. Anything would be better than the ill-fitting suit. He'd keep the dress-shirt however, it would come in handy when he wanted to blend in at different places. He might have to settle some matters at the local bank for example.
Rows after rows of abused clothes were lined up in the musty and dark basement of the thrift-store. Less than amused, Landon figured out they were at least sorted by size and contemplated what would stand the onslaught of being outside most of the time while not making him look like something had ran him over into a tumble-dryer. It was hard remaining focussed. Landon caught himself zoning out several times, not even taking in what he was holding in terms of clothes.
He chuckled at Landon's deadpan response, then pointed a fork at him at the next statement. "You decided to join me, the fuck is yours?" He grinned, meaning it jokingly. The man didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor, but that was fine. He'd compensate for the both of them.
Landon stomped outside to make some calls, and Bell half-turned to keep an eye on him. No one approached Landon, and when his food arrived, he only kept him in his peripherals.
As luck would have it, it was Manny in the back. Everything tasted like shit; even the sausage was too greasy to really be enjoyable. But food was food. He drowned the pancakes in syrup and ate them quickly, wolfing them down so the taste didn't linger too long. The coffee was actually pretty good; he grunted when Landon returned and sucked it down, gestured the waitress over to refill his cup. She rather pointedly ignored him, and he stuck his tongue out at her back.
"Alright. Can't have you looking like some bum now, can we?" he asked, picking at Landon's sleeve. He broke into a smile and cast his eyes up at the man, looking at him through his lashes. "You aren't gonna try 'n make me look like a proper gentleman, are you? I wear this shit for a reason: cushioning. And it gets fucking cold in the winter. Though I could use a new jacket."
He stood and followed Landon out. "You get everything settled with your woman?" he asked, just to be annoying, then raised his eyebrows as a better thought hit him. "Oh! You figure out what happened to your car? We could use some wheels. I'll be moving on soon--we'll be moving on soon," he said, trying the word out. It felt weird on his tongue. "We'll be moving on, and I'd rather not ride the rails with a newbie like you." He usually hitchhiked or hopped on boxcars when he needed to switch towns, but both were dangerous, especially to people who weren't used to them. Besides, it'd be nice to have a car. Make everything that much easier.
"Or can you just buy a new one? I don't know. I'm not used to having money." He grinned up at Landon. It felt nice, being able to buy things. He wasn't used to that.
"Don't break any ankles prancing around in those high-heels," Landon dead-panned, attention mostly focussed in the small yet bright screen of the phone. It was annoying to look at, never mind to make sense of the words and he pinched the bridge of his nose, shutting his eyes for a moment. He only opened his eyes to give Bell a stare regarding the food. Why did the man insist on testing the waters over and over. Sadist was right. He must enjoy seeing Landon in pain or angry. Actually, the only time something reasonably 'normal' had come from the man's mouth was when he was explaining his ridiculous tactics in finding and dealing with these goats. Landon would've dismissed the man as a conspiracy-freak before figuring the man a beggar.
"You asked me to join you. What the fuck is your problem?" Landon asked before getting up from the table and putting the phone against his ear. He didn't go far, but the diner's bell jingled as it shut behind. Outside was no better than inside the shoddy place and Landon leaned against the stained window, unconsciously keeping an eye on Bellwether for reasons he rather not address at that time.
Richard was late in replying, addressing someone else on the background. The office didn't appear any different than usual, and Landon was sure that by now he was the talk of the town. A real hero. Hooray.
"Landon!" Richard started, pausing, evidently stumped for words.
"Hey buddy," he started softer, more careful.
"Don't give me that crap, Rich, I need you to take care of a couple of things." Landon broke off the 'this man must be crazy let's all walk on eggshells routine' rudely and curtly. What he asked next was short and to the point: message Lily with an okay, get the house renovated and ready for sale, the cash to be wired to his account in China. They would stop their current 'disappearing-act' of Fairwater's money and he'd cash out his share, that was to be sent to his account in Russia.
"Okay, okay," Landon could hear Richard scribbling madly. "I just need a little time -two weeks tops," he speculated. "The regular fee?"
Landon closed his eyes and tried to think passed the blinding headache, "yeah, no, give yourself a percent extra, just make sure it's all in order."
"If it's not...in order..."
Richard chuckled softly, "hey, you know me?"
"That thing won't be the only thing having a visit from a baseball bat, got it?" Landon said plainly and hung up.
Leaning his head back against the glass, Landon put his phone back from where it came and went back into the diner to sit across from Bell. The scent of greasy food wasn't improving matters. Reaching over, Landon took the plastic bag and searched the contents for the box of painkillers.
"We'll get some clothes next," he offered and pressed out one of the pills, washing it down with Bell's coffee, or what was left of it.
Getting a new phone took less time than Bell had expected. He lurked outside and slightly around a corner, leaning against a wall at the mouth of an alley where the shadows made details a little fuzzy. The few people who looked his way quickly disengaged their eyes and hurried past, their strides widening an inch or two when they drew close to him. He smirked at the few who dared meet his eyes, but there was no glimmer of confused recognition in any of their faces. Not that he'd expected much. He was starting to suspect he'd cleared the immediate area of goats, or at least near enough that it wouldn't be worth his while to stick around; it was very nearly time to move on. He wondered how Landon would react to that. The man had seemed to take everything in stride so far, much better than Bell had expected, but leaving might be different. After all, as long as he was here, he could still turn back. Once he left...that was it. He was gone forever.
Landon emerged from the store clutching a shiny new glass rectangle, and Bell slid smoothly from the shadows to join him. "Diner it is, then," he said, and took the lead once more. At least Landon wasn't a control freak, he reasoned. In fact, the man was fairly malleable, all things considered. Not a yes-man by any means, but...easily led. He liked that in people. Made them easier to control.
The diner itself was a run-down little box of a place, a small, dirty standalone that crouched on a corner like a toad thrown in among stately herons; the other shops gave it a little distance, as though they feared their flawless facades would be damaged merely by touching the squat building. A bell rattled against the glass door as he opened it, and the waitress grunted at the sight of him. She recognized him, but he wasn't exactly a favorite customer. He reeked of poverty, not money, and rarely bought more than the cheapest plate.
But today he was here on Landon's dollar. "Pancakes and coffee, please, and a side of sausage," he said, sliding into a seat at the bar.
The waitress glared at him until he nodded at Landon. "Got myself a rich john last night," he said, winking. "Felt generous, wanted to buy me breakfast like I'm a real classy lady."
She rolled her eyes and retreated to give the short-order cook in the back the order. Bell smirked at Landon, wondering if he'd be too soft to pick up the insinuation; johns were what the prostitutes called their clients. "You sure you don't want anything? The food here is passable, so long as it's not Manny in the back."
"So, you got your phone. What else, Suit? Wanna pick up a shiny new sportsjacket, or you gonna call up that bird of yours at last?" He waggled his eyebrows at Landon. "Gonna pay her a little last visit? Bring her along?"
Less than impressed by Bell's dismissal of any broken bones, Landon shrugged, soon realizing any sympathy might be misplaced and energy best spent elsewhere. The order of things was a bit confusing to Landon, whose concussed brain tried to store all items with less than their usual success. Breakfast, phone, different clothes, diner? At least the bell was silenced and Landon surmised that while Bellwether wouldn't ever admit out loud, there was a caring streak in the man yet.
Outside was far brighter than Landon expected and he slowly blinked to adjust, reaching in an empty pocket only to recall he'd left his sunglasses in the car. Squinting at Bell, Landon wondered why he was letting a concussed man make judgement calls, but shrugged it off. Hunger wasn't exactly on the forefront of his mind, or his stomach's. Actually, he would sooner be sick again than keep anything down. That option scratched, that left Landon with purchasing a new phone and get his lost phone reimbursed.
There was a faint awareness of where they had landed which hadn't permeated his mind the day before. He took a moment to orient himself and finally gestured they should move along the road.
"Phone," he groused, visibly bothered by the sunlight.
Despite the early nature of the breaking day, shops were opened and people were giving him odd stares. Pointedly ignoring any looks, Landon slipped into a store and put on his best smile, not even bothering with asking Bell to wait outside. He'd gotten used to that being the case yesterday. Of course any charm would be undone by Bell's handiwork wrapped around his head, but whatever.
"How can I help you, sir?" the clerk started out nice enough, but Landon could practically call out the moment the other man's face turned sour at the potential problem he was going to have on hand. Landon had a smooth talk however, though made less by his fragmented focus. At last, Landon had a new machine in hand, tied to his old records, and smiled demurely as the device started pulling data from the back-up he'd made ages ago. Phone-numbers and missed messages started to pile in.
Leaving the device to do as it had to, Landon took care of the business end of the deal and reunited with Bellwether. Actually, it hadn't cost him a dime to get a new phone. The insurance also covered loss. Landon stood just outside of the store pondering Lily's distressed messages. As much as Bell's snarls were grating, Lily's voice would be even worse because if its high pitch.
She could wait.
If any love truly had remained, she'd have been first on his list of things to do. But she hadn't.
That much told Landon enough.
At some point he'd have to call her however, if just to let everyone know he was fine, just away, and oh -he was going to rob her of house and home soon. Landon's hazel eyes lifted to watch Bellwether. He could still turn back. But really, he couldn't.
Landon didn't have to walk the streets like Bell did, and would never allow himself to slide down that low -didn't have to. He was the single Landon Turner on the planet and that came with perks Landon was positive non-existence didn't hold.
"You pick some place to eat. I'm not hungry," Landon admitted plainly.
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