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He shrugged. Fair enough. From what he remembered, chances were Daniel wasn't over here legally, either. But still. Racing the snow mobiles when he barely knew how to drive one wasn't a great idea.
"Please," he agreed. Slow was the operative word.
There was something in the way Daniel looked at him that made his heart hurt. Something dismissive, or maybe just sad. He glanced away. Daniel didn't want him like this, worry, did he? No one did. He was just a burden. He turned to look at the goatling, but it was already vanishing into the woods. Too late.
"Yep!" he agreed, hiding his emotions behind happiness he didn't feel. He hopped on and started the snowmobile again, a bit hesitant this time. It roared to life and jerked forward. He clutched the brakes desperately, and this time, it stopped quietly. Okay. He had this. He was in control.
At the moderate pace Daniel set, he had no problem keeping up. After a minute or two, he stopped being so razor focused on the path in front of him and started to enjoy the winter wonderland spreading all around them, evergreens bowed with snow, the stark contrast of the dark deciduous trees. When the ski slopes came back into view, he was almost disappointed.
But not that disappointed.
"Hell yeah," Bell called back. He was frigid and tired, all he wanted was to get warm and rest up. Sauna sounded great.
They pulled up to the snowmobile rental shop. Bell parked his and climbed off with a relieved sigh. So he could heal, and he could kind of ride a snowmobile. Interesting things he was learning. "Hey, Daniel, should we look around the bunny's hotel?" he suggested. The whole resort was pretty secluded relative to the rest of civilisation. Forests everywhere. If they were going to take her somewhere alone, might as well be close to her hotel. Or even a quiet spot in the hotel. No need to go outside, even, if they didn't want to.
His head hurt and his back ached, but he already knew that if he sat down to rest now, he'd never get back up again. They had to keep pushing now, or risk playing it by ear later. And from what Daniel had said, the threats were many and dangerous to playing it by ear.
He started towards the snow bunny's hotel, glancing back to see if Daniel was following. "Let's check it out first, then hit the sauna," he decided.
Finally, Bell-boy said something, even if they were exclamations of pain. Daniel didn't care. He watched as the man's back squirmed and settled everything back to where it should be and Bell-boy stilled. A hand was raised. Daniel watched Bell-boy climb to his feat, relieved the man had discovered the way to heal. He sent a thought of gratitude to the goatling. It was already leaving, tail pointed in their general direction.
He helped Bell-boy to a stand and hovered close, waiting for the man's wobble to settle into something more stable. It didn't take long.
"Yeah, that's normal," Daniel confirmed and waited for Bell-boy to reacquaint himself with his healed body. He snorted. "Sure, Belly-boy," Daniel started. "And pigs fly," he said. Of course they would drive these things without licenses. When had they ever stopped to do things through the proper canals?
Besides, if Bell-boy couldn't even remember which of his balls were which, what was the point to any of it?
Actually. What was the point to any of it?
Daniel shook the thought and took a sharp look at Bell-boy to judge whether the man would be okay to ride the snow mobile.
"We'll take it slow on the way back, alright?" Daniel promised. No need to rush it twice. Bell-boy already knew the most important thing now. "We'll get you something to eat. You'll feel better in no time, trust me," Daniel said and swung a leg across the seat of his snow mobile. He started the engine back on and waited for Bell-boy to do the same. At least it wouldn't be too strenuous to just ride the vehicle, if it was at a moderate speed.
"Ready to go back, Bell-boy?" Daniel called out. He had no regrets. Even if Bell-boy chose to leave, he'd stand a better chance fighting using the goat's powers. Shit like this was important. He didn't want Bell-boy to suffer alone, but if he could so help it, at least Bell-boy wouldn't have to suffer too much.
Daniel started first, leaving at a slow pace, just enjoying the scenery this time around. He followed the well-ridden paths through the snow. Slowly but surely, the slopes and huts were coming back into view. "Home sweet home," Daniel called out. "Time to hit some saunas instead?" he joked.
The goatling lowered its massive head into his hands. Bell stroked the fur back, gently. Such a handsome creature. But it was all alone. Didn't it want a pack?
Pain interrupted his idle thoughts. What he'd been feeling before was nothing in the face of this new attack. It was as though he'd connected his brain directly to a live wire. Bell convulsed, body betraying him. His eyes rolled back in his head. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think. All the was, was pain. A thousand needles in his skull, burning bright like the sun. He tensed. It couldn't--couldn't be much longer!
He was sitting up, back to a tree. One hand laid on his stomach. Blood pumped through his clenched fingers, unstoppable. Daniel was there. Or was it Landon? Staring into his face, close enough to feel his breath.
"Focus!" he snapped, almost angry.
[i On what?] he wondered, but the memory knew. Something strange welled up from deep inside.
It welled up in the real world as well. The pain snapped him back to reality. He almost lost focus, felt the pain wane, then caught himself and focused again. Muscles squirmed across his back, settling back into place. Bone grumbled, grinding into place. He caught his breath and tensed. "Ow, ow, ow," he muttered aloud. Hurt so bad. So damn bad! Shit!
It stopped dead. Bell caught his breath. A shiver ran down his back, but this time it didn't hurt. Experimentally, he raised his hand. No pain. Just the dull ache of where pain had been, a long healed scar, and a fresh throbbing in his head.
He climbed to his feet slowly, holding a hand out for Daniel's help. He could stand. Okay. Progress. One step. He felt wobbly all over. Tired, really. But he could walk, and that was what mattered.
"I need a nap," he muttered aloud. Bell stretched and looked at his snow mobile. It'd come up against a drift of snow and stopped there, looking just as pristine as when they'd rented it. He grimaced. "Maybe we shouldn't be driving these things without licenses." It hadn't been the best idea.
"Yeah, you've got some above average strength going on too, if you draw on the goat's power," Daniel pointed out with a mumble. Was now really the time for questioning what he was saying? Daniel waited for Bell-boy to figure out what he knew, but decided he'd only give the man a minute or two at best before making Bell-boy's decision for him. No point in uselessly waiting around for the man to freeze up.
Help him heal?
There was that.
The goatling was no good at that. Bell-boy was best off remembering. When Daniel caught Bell-boy reaching out for the wolf, he conveyed shortly what he wanted Bell-boy to remember; one of their fights. One of the fights where Bell-boy had healed himself, where he'd been the one telling Bell-boy to focus and draw on the goat's power.
It took a second, but the goatling shifted its focus from Daniel back to Bell and it lowered its head to Bell could actually reach. Daniel just hoped they were out far enough. That, or he hoped Bell-boy wouldn't scream out in pain. He felt it on the air. Like a current, travelling through it. Not quite like static electricity, but close to it. A pressure passed between the goatling and Bell.
It honed in on the memory, secluded it from the others and rummaged through the shell's brain in search of it. Once it'd found the same memory print left behind from the copy it'd made, the goatling prodded and jostled until it lit up like most of the others. Once it had, a current seemed able to go to and from it satisfactory, much like the other recovered memories. Satisfied Bellwether would have the memory he needed, the goatling retreated for now.
It conveyed it was finished to Daniel.
Daniel watched it, almost disappointed. It should've restored all the memories maybe, not that Bell-boy was letting them. It seemed to consider that. It hadn't been this shell's desire to remember it all.
It didn't remember that it was a desire, Daniel replied without hesitation.
"Hey, Bell-boy, you okay?" Daniel tried softly, gently stroking the man's hair from his face. He hadn't moved from Bell's side through all of it. Concern would be an over-estimate of what he was expressing right now. Those emotions were more Lenny's thing.
Cold. He shivered and exhaled, breath melting the snow by his face. Newly-formed water dribbled down his neck, and he shivered again. It hurt. It hurt so much. The snow did something to numb it, but not enough.
"Daniel!" he tried. No response. He couldn't even hear the snow mobile. He closed his eyes and sighed. [i This is a shitty way to die.]
A black smudge appeared in the distance. Bell squinted, focusing on it. What? A wolf? The goatling. It padded closer, quiet as it was huge. "Hey, Lassie," he greeted it. The wolf lapped at his neck. He giggled despite himself, even though the laughter hurt. It tickled. "Stop, stop," he protested weakly.
A blast of pain and static tore through his head. Bell tensed, grimacing with all his might. "Shit," he muttered. What was that? Had he hit his head, too? The pain was already fading. Maybe it was just random pain. He reached out and patted the wolf's head to distract himself.
The grumble of a snow mobile engine preceded Daniel's arrival. Like a dog greeting its favorite owner, the wolf ignored him in favor of Daniel as soon as the man appeared on the horizon.
He stuck his tongue out at Daniel. "I fucked up," he sighed. A wince followed, the sh shifting things he didn't want to shift. "Couldn't keep up with you."
"I can--" he grimaced as Daniel touched the epicenter of the pain, right along his back. "I can heal?"
He shifted slightly. Could still feel his toes and all, he just didn't want to try his hand at sitting up just yet. "Uhm, uh, I don't know," he muttered. Didn't know if he wanted the goatling to help. Didn't know if he could ride. He pushed half up. Pain lanced through his back. Defeated, he sagged back down.
"Maybe, maybe, help me heal?" he said. The pain made it hard to think. Everything seemed more urgent, more insistent than it really was. Bell reached out towards the goatling, trying to pet its head again. He couldn't reach too far, or too high, or else his back would twinge again. "Will you help me?" he mumbled at it. How much of human language did it understand, anyways? Anything? Everything?
A black muzzle pressed against the snow just beside Bellwether. Dark paws left remarkably small imprints for the size and weight of the large hound and the goatling’s fur was extended to make it look even bigger. It curiously sniffed at Bellwether’s hair, interested in the sensation of pain emanating from the shell. Why wasn’t it healing itself? Perhaps it had forgotten that too?
It echoed the pain for a second, but found Daniel wasn’t a grateful recipient. The goatling let Daniel push it away and it decided that was fine. Pain seemed to be an undesirable occurrence to the short lives these shells lived. A need came to be inside the beast and it licked Bellwether’s neck free from the melting snow that was there. Thirst was just as basic as pain, in ways.
Perhaps even more basic still.
It circled Bellwether and nudged the fallen form with its muzzle.
‘Heal’, it conveyed. It tried to be gentle, but this shell wasn’t as easy to communicate with as Daniel’s was. The roar of an approaching snow mobile perked up its ears. It lifted its head to see what it already knew; Daniel.
“What happened?” Daniel asked and cut the engine. He smirked and rested his elbows on the wheel of his snow mobile. “Got too cocky, did you?” he teased. He sobered a little, recalling the pain the goatling had conveyed earlier. Daniel got off the vehicle and approached Bell-boy. He’d gotten so used to Bell just being able to heal himself that it was odd to see him like this now.
Daniel didn’t even need to ask where it hurt. He crouched down and felt down Bell-boy’s back. Nothing seemed broken at first glance, but he wouldn’t be able to see any cracks or judge properly -he wasn’t a doctor. Never wanted to be either. Playing god wasn’t his forte. He’d rather play with a god.
“You forgot how to heal yourself, Bell-boy?” Daniel asked, serious in tone. He needed Bell-boy to remember before they went into the fight with Bunny-goat.
“Want the goatling to jostle your memory?” He put a hand to Bell’s shoulder, lightly, just letting the man know he was there. “Think you can ride with me on the snow mobile?” Daniel figured there were other ways to move Bell-boy, but the easiest would be to just take the vehicles back.
For just a second, their eyes met. Hazel was lit with a wild light, snow reflecting off his glasses, his smile fierce as it was bright. Then he was gone, a splash of color on the snow. "Oh, hey! Wait up!" he shouted, taking off after Daniel. The engine roared, snow sprayed, and he was off again.
Daniel sped ahead of him, better with the snowmobile too. He chased after him until he disappeared, and all he could follow was the sound of the engine. He pushed himself to go faster, revving the engine even faster. Around the next turn, and then the next, snowmobile fishtailing into a drift of snow. He sucked in a deep breath of cold air and let out a whoop, excited just to be alive. Daniel had the best ideas sometimes.
A hairpin turn came up, narrow as it was sudden. Bell slammed on the brakes and threw himself sideways, turning the machine with all his might. The snowmobile skidded to a halt. He felt his weight slip upward, body sliding off the seat. [i Oh shit.]
Fingers slipped off the controls. He went weightless. There was a pause, breathless. Breath crystalized behind him. He saw the snowmobile coast away. Felt the cold of the air.
He slammed into the ground first, rolled, then came up hard against a tree with his back. Bell felt his whole body jolt to a halt, shoulders and hips snapped backwards.
"Oh shit," he muttered aloud, curling up on instinct. The pain struck next, sudden as it was vicious. He tensed, biting his cheeks from the inside to keep from grinding his teeth. [i Fuck, that hurts!] Should've taken the tour. Gotten lessons. Something.
What had gone wrong? Had he taken the wrong path? Through the pain, he struggled to remember if he'd seen the tracks of Daniel's snowmobile ahead of him. Maybe? Shit. With some effort, he tried to crawl upright to take a look, but the second he started to move, his back screamed at him. [i Okay, maybe not,] he decided, carefully sliding back to the snow. In a minute. He just needed a minute or two to get used to it.
For a second there was doubt in Bell-boy's eyes, but all of that faded the second Bell sat down on the snowmobile and found the gas. Bell-boy dashed out first, leaving him to catch up. Daniel hounded his snowmobile along the tracks, veering off to the side on occasion to avoid being sprayed by Bell-boy's tail. They went through the snow fast and hard, dodging trees and rushing through the wilderness. When Bell-boy slowed down, Daniel didn't. He skid past Bell-boy with ferocious speed, a wild look in his eyes.
He sensed the goatling close and zoned in on it. Why wait until tonight for Bell-boy to remember? Why not now? Time was trivial in cases like these, wasn't it? If the goatling was offering, they ought to make use of it.
The scent of snow, of prey, the grey and white, tinted with a dash of colour only sporadically; Daniel sensed that and more. It was wild how keen a wolf's senses were. He was only just in time to avoid crashing into a tree. Daniel felt the rush of adrenaline pump through him, set his own senses on fire and forced his heart to beat ferociously. He hadn't felt like this in a long, long time.
And he wanted to feel it every time again. Each time they chased a goat and brought it out in the open he felt it. That desire to destroy something pretty.
Daniel pulled to a stop and cut the engine, slightly out of breath and baffled at the sudden silence. He turned on his seat, half-standing, to see whether Bell-boy had followed. He hoped the man had. In the white, he could already spot the dark shape of the goatling. It was a large wolf and graceful, without seeming unnatural. It'd learned from what he'd seen.
He tuned in on it, used its ears to hear Bell-boy's snowmobile and honed in on where the man was. Its ears moves, eyes tracking Bell's movement. It wouldn't return the memories now, not yet. What they were doing was risky. It meant risking a reprimand from its originator.
Whatever had happened to the shell, it hadn't seen fit to mend the situation. Daniel agreed, in that regard. It was best not to aggravate Bell-goat's intentions. Still. Bell had asked for it. Wasn't that a clue that this was the best course of action?
Of course doubt would be in play.
There was a difference between Landon deciding he couldn't have some perfectly fine, innocent fun, and Daniel drinking himself an inch from death. For now, though, he decided retreat was the better part of valor and shut his mouth. He'd finish the argument later. When there was a threat of Daniel actually making a bad decision.
It was almost mesmerizing, watching Daniel snap into character to convince the man to rent them their snowmobiles. From one second to the next, he went from an ordinary man to oozing charisma, an easy charm around him. [i Has he ever turned that charm on me?] Bell wondered, and found himself answering yes, absolutely. When Daniel wanted in his pants, the charisma came out first. When charisma alone didn't work, Daniel flashed his card at the man, which got him just what he wanted. Bell raised his eyebrows. What a colossal waste of money. They could've just done the tour. It wasn't that big a deal.
But in no time, he was seated on the back of a snowmobile. Bell checked it over, quickly acquainting himself with the controls. There was the go button, and the brakes, and turning was like that... easy enough. Okay. He had this. Mostly. Maybe.
He started it up and flashed a grin at Daniel. Okay, so maybe this was better than a stupid tour. "Let's hit the slopes!" he enthused back, and gunned the engine. It took off faster than he was expecting. He let out a startled whoop and turned the wheel just in time to avoid the trees. Exhilarated, he laughed, tossing his hair in the wind. Off down the paths and into the woods, where the snowmobile tracks ahead of them led.
The snowmobile went so much faster than the skis. He half-stood, willing it to go faster yet. The woods flashed by, the engine roared. The snowmobile wobbled under him as he almost missed a turn, slid up on one ski the next. Death threatened on every side, but he felt alive, so terribly alive. It was wonderful. Beautiful.
After a while, he slowed and waited for Daniel to catch up, a grin plastered across his face. "Okay, so what next? There somewhere you wanted to go?" he asked, just about bouncing in his seat. He was having a great time.
He knew in what hotel they stayed? Daniel considered the value of that knowledge. If they could get away with offing Bunny-goat inside her hotel-room, it'd be perfect. So far however, no goat-killing had been quiet. Before he could finish the thought, Bell-boy turned around and gave him a look.
Daniel laughed in Bell-boy's face.
"You know, you're a hypocrite. Don't like Lenny to tell you what's good for you either," he pointed out. Little shit didn't have any right to talk to him like that.
"Might want to give that some more consideration before you start playing mother hen," Daniel said with a sly gaze. At least Bell-boy was easily distracted by snow mobiles. Daniel gestured for Bell-boy to calm his tits while they made their way over. Wasn't as if the dumb things were going to be gone forever if they didn't get one right this instant.
He caught Bell-boy's hand and gave the man a look as he prodded him into the hut.
"Stop it already," Daniel started.
Daniel considered it for a shot moment and then shrugged. They could always come back and rent a couple after they figured out what was what and who went where. A tour wasn't a bad thing in these parts, though the goatling had its ways of letting him know. It'd done its own little scouting already.
Then again, Bell-boy likely hadn't done it before.
"We'll skip on the tour," Daniel started. "Could we rent two though?" he offered.
People tended to sway to money easily enough. They didn't need a tour. All they needed was a location. Daniel leaned on the counter, calm and composed, comfortable almost to the point where the fellow behind the counter was feeling a little ill at ease.
"Have you ever ridden one?"
"Yeah, I have," Daniel said easily enough.
"And your friend?"
Daniel looked over. "He's ridden one. He'll be fine," he lied. "You want our snow-mobile license?"
"Very funny. It's serious, you could get hurt out there," the man said sternly.
"I'll sign a waiver if you want," Daniel started and stood. He brought out his card. "I'll pay you double."
The man ceded in the end. Soon enough Daniel found himself on a scooter, searching for where the flips and handles were before firing it up.
"Let's go Bell-boy!"
Daniel didn't know either, huh? Well, it wasn't like they'd paid much attention to the resort on the way in. "We can keep an eye out," he said. If they saw hot springs, they'd go for it.
"You think?" he asked. Landon had seemed pretty adamant about him using skis, but then again, Landon didn't like him. Or maybe it wasn't that Landon didn't like him, so much that Landon didn't like fun. Either way, snowboarding sounded like his kind of thing. "Maybe later."
Daniel paid. Bell followed him back out into the snow, pulling on his hat and gloves as he went. "Nah, she didn't, but I know which hotel she's staying at. If it's the same kind of party as last night, it won't be too hard to find."
Bell paused, then turned and looked at Daniel. "Don't you drink tonight, though. We need to be fully lucid if we're gonna be fighting a goat. If you get all floppy again, we aren't going to be able to do anything." Daniel was fun, but he wasn't about being the guy's babysitter. Nor did he like dealing with Landon being pissy toward him the morning after.
Snowmobiles? "What, where?" he asked, looking around. Snowmobiles sounded fun. "Let's go do snowmobiles!"
He located the hut selling rides at last and hustled Daniel over towards them. He wanted to go zipping over the snow on shiny red vehicles. They were like the motorcycles of snow, right? Or whatever. Whatever they were, they looked like they were fast, and that was what really mattered. Bell prodded Daniel ahead of him into the hut.
"We've got a guided tour starting in half an hour," the man behind the counter told them. "There's two slots on it, if you wanna join in."
A tour? Bell frowned slightly, a little disappointed. He'd rather just fly over the slopes on his own, explore hidden areas and take big jumps, But then again, he'd never driven a snowmobile before, so maybe it was for the best.
"What do you think?" he asked Daniel. He was still up for it, as long as Daniel was. It'd be better to ride around on his own, but there was nothing he could do about that yet.
Lenny again? For someone who didn't like Lenny much, Bell-boy sure was calling out the man's name a lot. Different strokes indeed.
"I have no idea," Daniel said regarding the hot springs. "Should've read the brochure," he joked with a grin. "I'm sure they'll have out-door pools somewhere other than the hotel too," Daniel tried instead. They'd go looking, make it a mission. Daniel agreed and called over the waitress for the bill.
"Maybe you should try snow-boarding next, Bell-boy," Daniel called Bell-boy out. Why not? Skiing had gone down smooth enough, hadn't it?
Daniel paid and stretched before getting up. Skiing was fun, but they were movements using muscles he didn't use very often while running or doing ordinary house-hold chores. Or well, movements Lenny didn't use very often anyway. He stepped out into the cold and pulled the beanie back in place, closed his coat and shoved his fingers into the gloves. More people were returning to home base to have a meal or relax. Things were different in a place like this, for sure. Slower, for one.
It was nice.
He chose a random direction and started to go wherever things seemed interesting. Several signs pointed out a few important facilities, but nothing much interesting apart from that.
"So did that girl ever tell you where we had to go last night?" Daniel started back up conversation. He couldn't remember it himself. Some of last night was all but drowned in the fusion of alcohol and drugs. Not that he minded. He'd probably do it all over again. It'd been pretty fun until Bell-boy had dragged him home. The kiss they'd shared had been nice, for one. Why didn't they do that a little more?
Maybe Bell-boy was scared. Leave it to Lenny to inception Bell-boy with thoughts of rape. He'd had to phrase it like that too, bastard.
"Oh, how about renting some snow-mobiles, Bell-boy?" Daniel offered. They could scout out some more of the area and find a nice spot to dispatch Bunny-goat. Also, it looked like fun without being overly tiring.
"Or would you rather go sleighing?" he teased with a smirk. He caught sight of some saunas, but they weren't exactly hot-springs. Could always point it out to Bell-boy afterwards.
He'd tried to kill himself? Bell blinked, startled. [i It's been that long?] he thought, then frowned, because he didn't know what that meant. That long since... what? Since he'd tried to kill himself? Since Landon had been out?
So Landon was so impatient about him not remembering, because he wanted to apologize for something he didn't even remember? A kind of pained smirk spread across his face. What the hell? That didn't even make any sense. Wasn't not remembering the best kind of apology? And it certainly didn't explain why he was being distant and assholish all the time. Aside from when he'd been all vulnerable in the tub, which yeah, was cute, but he'd attributed that more to Landon being a captive audience and drugged to hell than to Landon actually caring about him. Maybe he'd been wrong. Whatever.
"It does feel like a vacation," he sighed out, glad for an easier topic of conversation. "Landon wasn't--" shit, he wasn't going to start that argument again. "Didn't seem so excited. But whatever, different strokes and all that."
The pancakes were delicious. He decided to stuff his mouth rather than continue talking, because all he could do was shoot himself in the foot right now. The bacon, too, was perfectly crispy and salty. He'd picked a good place.
"Do they have hot springs?" he asked, looking up thoughtfully from his pancakes. Daniel had eaten his whole plate, which got a smile from him. The man could be pickier than a toddler sometimes. "I dunno, hot springs sound awesome but I don't know if they have them."
Back in the snow, back to the hot tubs, or back to their room. "In the middle of the day? Jeez," he muttered. Daniel was such a base creature sometimes. "Let's go see if there's hot springs. We can always hit the tub if there aren't, or just go skiing again later." He shrugged. He'd had enough skiing for now, but it was fun. Maybe later, once it got dark and everything seemed that much more mystical. Or wait, they had the snow-bunny's party to go to, didn't they? Couldn't give that up.
'Nothing'. Sure, that'd been a whole lot of mumbled nothing. Daniel snorted. He'd let Bell-boy have that one.
"In the tub. Remember the whole Lenny vomiting, you talking affair?" Daniel pointed out. Or wasn't that listening? It really did seem Bell-boy was biased to think the worst of Lenny, it seemed. Daniel shook his head and shrugged.
"Well, you know. Last time-..." Daniel stalled for a second and looked at his chocolate milk. He stirred it with the large spoon it's come with and scooped up some of the cream.
"Last time he tried to kill himself and he hadn't woken up since until you went to Haven," Daniel pointed out.
"He never got to apologize," he said and looked at Bell-boy to see what emotion that triggered. Sometimes he felt like sinewy-goat, tempting all these emotions out just to see some fine poetry play out across Bell-boy's face.
"It is good," Daniel confirmed and took the hint. They could talk about something else, no problem. Their pancakes didn't take long to arrive either. He hadn't even finished the chocolate milk or two hot plates with sweet pancakes were put out in front of them. Daniel wasted little time. After last night's affair and the lack of food he'd managed to keep down beforehand, he was starving.
The syrup was sweet, making even the chocolate milk bitter in a way. Daniel wolfed it down quick, but slowed down to savour the last few scraps.
"This is good," Daniel said. "Feels more like vacation already," he said with a satisfied smirk. Might even feel good enough to go out there again and maybe try some snowboarding. Or maybe they could visit the saunas, get nice and clean for tonight's secret party.
That'd been a thing, right? The chick's invitation?
He wondered how they'd separate Bunny-goat from the rest, but they'd figure it out. Daniel figured one of them was going to get the short end of the deal; the boy-friend end, that was.
"How about a sauna-visit? Or a hot-spring? Do they have hot-springs here?" Daniel chattered, finishing the last of his chocolate milk.
"Or would you rather go back in the snow? Our hotel-room is pretty comfy too, just so you know?" he offered with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Daniel really didn't seem selfish, though. He let Bell do what he wanted, didn't cause a fuss, went along with whatever plans Bell made up, found fun things to do. Sure, the drinking thing had been selfish as fuck, but everyone made a bad decision or two. Landon seemed like the more selfish one to him. Every time he was out, it was a whole parade of 'no' and 'don't do that' and everything else. Could only do anything if Landon approved first. Maybe that was just him, though.
"Was thinking it'd be cool to ride the wolf," he muttered. Before Daniel could ask him to repeat it, he waved his hand. "Nothing."
"Listened when?" he challenged Daniel. He didn't recall Landon listening to him. He recalled Landon being distant and looking at him like he was an active source of pain when he was doing nothing. He recalled Landon trying to be his mom and keep him from skiing. Landon didn't want him, he wanted the old Bell, and all he was to Landon was a bad memory.
He rubbed his face. It wasn't like Landon had actually done anything wrong, though. If anyone had, it was Daniel. But... but it was different. Hard to express, though. "Look, it's not... he's just, I can tell he doesn't want [i this] me, you know? It's like he's suffering it out until the old Bell returns, and until then, I'm just dogshit on his shoe. It's not a good feeling."
Sure, he'd overreacted to Landon's comment. Whatever. He didn't like being looked down on, but whatever. It wasn't that big a deal, even he knew that. But it wasn't just that. It was this whole time, where he felt like Landon kept looking past him at someone else. Like he was a shitty replacement that Landon hadn't asked for in the first place.
He sighed out. Probably shouldn't have ranted about that to Daniel. It'd be like insulting someone's brother to their face--it just wasn't a good idea. At least the hot chocolate's arrival seemed to distract Daniel. It was made up nicely, like it was for little kids, but he didn't mind. It looked delicious. Bell took a sip. Tasted delicious, too.
"Hot chocolate's good," he ventured. He wrapped one arm around it protectively, in case Daniel got angry about him ranting and got ideas about how to take it out on Bell.
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