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"Yeah, couple of times," Daniel admitted to them having been attacked in diners before. He smiled. Bell-boy knew certain things, like the memories just fell into place upon mentioning. Daniel wasn't sure whether it was a good thing or not. What if they did finally get around to having fun time and Bell-boy recalled being raped? That'd really set the tone right there.
"Why else would I say it, Bell-boy? I'm too selfish to take your feelings into consideration and all," Daniel joked half-heartedly. Maybe part of that was actually true. Not that he cared.
Before the conversation could get any more serious, the waitress interrupted.
"Chocolate milk for me too, and some waffles, heavy on the syrup," he ventured. "And berries," Daniel smiled up politely before putting away the menu. She smiled and nodded before going off to sort some things on other tables and putting through their order.
"Penny for your thoughts," he put in.
The white slopes never changed. They were nice and novel to look at, but Daniel reasoned they'd get bored of it sooner rather than later. After the goat was dealt with, they ought to move on. At least they got to ski a little.
Daniel toyed with the condiments on the table and checked out the other people eating at the diner. It was crowded in a nice way, with people all being relaxed and enjoying their moments away from their lives. Daniel watched a family, but then tore his eyes away to focus back on Bell.
"You liked it when Lenny listened, didn't you though?" he pitched with a smirk. "You act like he hates you, but isn't it the other way around? You respond to him like he's bit you in the ass," Daniel accused light-heartedly. And all that over one bad remark. Surely Bell-boy already knew then they were on medication. Surely they wouldn't be if everything was perfectly normal.
It was even worse for Lenny though. Last time he'd been out they'd basically stepped in front of a car. Lenny thought he was dead for the longest time. Especially when it became apparent that Bell-boy wasn't there.
"Well, whatever. No skin off of my back, Bell-boy," Daniel said and shrugged. He wasn't there to play mother hen over the both of them anyway.
He perked up when the chocolate milk arrived. It was hot, topped off with cream and chocolate sprinkles, some marshmallows tucked into the surface of the brew. It was perfect.
Daniel noticed his hesitation, a bit to his surprise; he'd thought he'd hid it well. Then again, it was hard to hide things from someone who he'd apparently lived with for quite some time. Of course Daniel would notice.
"We've been attacked in diners before," he surmised, and it came out more like a statement than a question, as if he'd known already without knowing. A few flashes came to his mind's eye: a booth, two men walking past, a bathroom stall, a cloud of gas. None of it coherent, all of it jumbled together. He scratched his head. It felt right, but he didn't really feel like he'd remembered anything.
This diner wasn't particularly threatening, so he slid into the bench across from Daniel and relaxed. The heat started to get to him. He followed Daniel in pulling off his gloves and hat, unzipping his coat, sprawling to get a little more comfortable.
"You think so?" he said. It was reassuring to hear someone say that. Especially Daniel, who he thought had been right with Landon on the "get out of my face, you fake" line of thought. "Maybe. I don't know."
There were things he wanted to do before he was re-memoried, or however they were putting that. Like make out with Daniel more, see if he liked it as much as he thought he did. But it seemed so inconsequential when they had goats to fight, or when Landon put on that dour face, as if Bell's very existence was causing him pain. And Daniel was biased if he was usually second-runner, not that he pretended to understand how his two-in-one relationship with them had worked.
He shook his head. He'd figure it out later.
The waitress came by, a sunny smile on her face. "What can I get you guys?" she asked pleasantly, as if she actually cared.
"Big stack of pancakes, please," Bell requested. "With a side of bacon." A pause. "Oh, and chocolate milk." It was childish, but once Daniel had brought it up, he couldn't help but crave it.
He turned to watch the slope while he waited. The wolf was out there somewhere. That big, black creature, that had acted so sedate around them. It almost felt like a scene from a movie, the wolf letting him pet it and feel its fur. Idly, he wondered if he could ride the wolf. Mount it like a horse and ride it into battle. For a moment, he pictured it, him in medieval armor and a sword, charging on a black wolf. A smile touched his lips for a bare second. It'd be badass as hell.
Seemed like Bell-boy didn’t know what to make of his reaction. Daniel snorted. Typical. Give a kid what he wants, and they’ll be stunned into inaction. Or actually, most kids he knew would pounce on the opportunity to get whatever they desired.
“Well, I remember Lenny having it, if that’s what you mean,” Daniel shrugged. Bell-boy caught up on him soon enough on the way to food at least. No hesitation there. Food wasn’t half as intimidating as a bunch of forgotten memories, Daniel suspected.
“Lenny loves you, trust me,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s… complicated,” Daniel admitted. “You favoured Lenny for a long while, got to know the guy first and met me later on. Thought I was obnoxious and everything, but I grew on you. You started to feel a bit boxed in by Lenny’s neediness and clinginess so,” he shrugged. “I’m not one to let an opportunity slide.”
It was ridiculous. Alcohol and drugs never made a good combination, but it’d been worth the try regardless. He couldn’t really believe it took Bell-boy this long to find a place, so when he offered to go inside, Daniel was right behind. Warmth hit them like the scent of cinnamon and syrup. Perfect.
He put a hand to Bell-boy’s back and grinned.
“No worries, goatling’s watching out for us,” Daniel promised. This time they wouldn’t be carelessly ambushed by a score of hunters in another pubic place.
He smiled at the waitress serving some other table and meandered through the tables to find a nice one with a proper overview of the whole place. The window looked out over the slopes, but it was more like a wall of white from this angle. Daniel made himself comfortable and took off his gloves, stripped out of his coat and shook his hair free. Nice and toasty. He was tired after skiing, which he attributed to last night’s bender more so than his stamina.
A nice, hearty lunch was sure to settle things back in place.
“Oh, they serve chocolate milk,” Daniel proposed.
“You know, you might want to rethink the whole memory-thing,” he offered and scanned over the menu. “There’s no rush, you know?” Daniel looked at Bell-boy and smiled. “You’re fine the way you are right now. Goat will help remind you of the things you need for fighting too. You should trust it more.”
Lunch? He nodded. Why not? They hadn't skied much yet, it felt, but they'd spent plenty of time getting the gear and such. It was close enough to lunchtime. "Sure," he agreed.
It took him a minute to figure out how to get out of his skis, but it was a simple maneuver. Once he'd seen Daniel do it, he could easily copy it. It sounded like Daniel wasn't taking him seriously. He narrowed his eyes at the man, but in the end, Daniel gave in. He'd been expecting... he didn't know. Excitement. Resistance. Not just a joke, a wink, and a wave of his hand. But he ceded in the end.
Tonight. He tensed, apprehensive. Was it too early? Not really enough? He didn't know, but it made him nervous anyways.
"I guess you missed breakfast, huh?" he joked. Not that Landon had had waffles. "Sure, waffles sound fine." Daniel didn't wait for him, so Bell had to quickly collect his gear and jog to catch up.
Wrestling? His brows furrowed. They--oh. Oh. Right. "It feels like he hates me," Bell confessed. It was good to know that was apparently status quo. Or... was it good? It sounded like they had a purely physical relationship, the way Daniel described it. Was that all he had waiting for him? But surely Landon and Daniel wouldn't have stuck around if all he was to them was a good fuck.
"Is that why you're not so eager to get me my memories back?" he asked. He hadn't seemed too excited just now, but that would explain it.
'Not like that.' He snorted slightly as something came back to him. "Landon was worried you'd raped me last night," he muttered. "It was pretty ridiculous, considering he couldn't even hold his own head up at the time." Be pretty impressive if they managed to take advantage of him while they couldn't even walk straight. He was more than willing to fight back if he needed to.
A cute diner promised hot coffee, pancakes, and warned the air with the scent of baking bread. "How about there?" Bell suggested, leading the way over to it. It felt familiar, somehow. Not the place itself, but the going to a diner thing. Though, oddly enough, he was almost... nervous about it. Not that it made any sense. What was going to jump them in a diner?
Out of breath, but satisfied, Daniel waited for Bell-boy to join him down below. Soon enough the man came down in a flurry of cold and snow. Daniel grinned broadly.
"Not bad, Bell-boy, you got talent," he complimented the man. "How about we get lunch?" Daniel offered up. He wasn't sure how long him and Bell-boy had been out there, but it felt like they could do with a break. Something warm to eat would really go down well too, now that he'd worked up an appetite.
And then Bell-boy started on putting his memories back.
"Right... uh-huh, next chance for sure," Daniel agreed readily and shook his head. "Don't let Lenny make you feel insecure. Guy's got a tendency to get under your fingernails," he eased Bell-boy's mind with a wink.
"But whatever you want, Bell-boy. I can ask the goatling to drop by tonight." It'd probably manage to sneak around fairly easily if it was tonight, when things had quieted down some from partying, or when people were too far out of it to care.
Daniel stepped out of his skis and grabbed them, then hoisted them back to the rental-place. No point holding on to them in a retaurant or whatever. They could get new ones later on again if they wanted to. Maybe he ought to talk Bell-boy into trying a snowboard instead. He shook his head.
The man would never survive himself.
"How about some waffles?" Daniel offered. He kind of felt like having a syrup-sweet waffle with a thick piece of butter on top. The water started to run into his mouth and he didn't bother waiting for Bell-boy's opinion on the matter.
"If you can't get along with Lenny, you can't, Bell-boy. I wouldn't worry too much. Two of you hated one another when you first met too," he explained. "Warmed up slowly. Some physical attraction, maybe a kiss or two, some wrestling and things turned out okay. Lenny cares, but maybe he cares a little too much. He's afraid a lot," Daniel explained.
"I don't mind. Means I have you all to myself," he said with a smirk. "Not like that, I can behave," Daniel promised slyly. He wouldn't force himself on Bell-boy when the man wasn't ready for it.
Daniel called him out on gloating. Bell turned sheepish before he realized: Daniel, not Landon? When had that happened? "You guys switched again?" It was happening every ten seconds right now. He felt like that probably wasn't normal, but then again, he didn't remember.
"Uh, sure," he said. Slower, he followed Daniel over to the edge of the ski slope. Daniel pointed. He squinted, trying to make it out. Trees, trees, and--
Bell jumped and nearly fell over. A wolf? Holy shit! A second later, he felt foolish. The goatling, of course. The huge animal stepped closer. He pulled off his glove as well and gently put it on the wolf's head. It felt soft and fluffy. Big gold eyes regarded him quietly. He felt observed, like the wolf was waiting to see what he'd do as much as he was waiting for the wolf. They regarded one another, him and the beast.
Daniel broke the moment, loud and bright as ever. "I'm not, not really," he confessed. Daniel didn't give a fuck if he was ready or not. He wouldn't stop Bell from hitting the slopes as a beginner. "It's... it's alright. I'm managing."
"Oh, like that's a contest," Bell called after him, putting his glove back on and stepping away from the edge. The wolf vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, almost unnerving for such a huge creature. He pushed off after Daniel and chased after him down the slope, though at half the speed Daniel was going. It really wasn't any sort of contest. He just wasn't a good enough skier compared to the two of them.
At the bottom, he finally caught up and slid up beside Daniel. "Jeez, you cheater," he said, though Daniel hadn't cheated at all. He paused, hesitating. But he had to say it, didn't he? He sighed out. "I, uh. The next time we get a chance, we should probably put my memories back." He shook his head. "I don't know who I was, and it's kind of scary to just... to erase everything that I've been, but Landon's really suffering without the old me. I don't think it's fair to him that I can't get along with him, when the old one would." It wasn't even like he was the real him, right? Just a fake. That was all Daniel and Landon saw when they looked at him. Rather than worry about his opinions, it was better to just bring the old one back.
"I'm fine Bell-boy, never better," Daniel said languidly. He felt a lot better than he had the other day at least. There was something about Bell-boy's face and Daniel chuckled.
"Lenny get under your skin, Belly-boy?" he called out the man.
"You gloating?" Daniel said with a shake of his head. Damn, Lenny really did piss Bell-boy off, huh? He took the other ski pole with a nod, "thanks. Just lost focus there for a second," Daniel explained and waved away any questions. Surely Bell-boy would realize what was up by now.
"Hey, want to see something cool?" Daniel ventured and pushed off, motioning for Bell-boy to follow him. Off to where the bordered off parts of the slope ended and where the wilderness started. People weren't meant to venture past the flimsy lines, but Daniel didn't mean to. He stopped close to one and waited for a second, then pointed out the goatling to Bell.
The large black wolf looked back with yellow eyes, fur all huffed up against the cold. Its eyes were dark, but there was some colour to them that goats didn't naturally have. It stepped closer at Daniel's unconscious request and sniffed at his glove. Daniel pulled it off and put his hand on the animal's head.
"It's the goatling, no worries," Daniel said with a grin.
"You try," he offered. The wolf's eyes drifted to Bellwether. It regarded the other man and approached silently, each paw carefully placed on the snow.
It was beautiful and graceful; natural, without having lost its capacity as a goat for the sake of that of a wolf. Daniel had been quick to realize it was the bit stuck inside of him which allowed the goatling to be itself, rather than an instinctual animal, reacting to the world.
"Didn't know you were a skier, Bell-boy," Daniel made conversation. "How's the snow treating you?" He fastened his gloves, the trick Lenny hadn't understood about them and grinned at Bell.
"Race you to the finish!" he called out and pushed off, weaving down the slopes at a rapid pace -much faster than Lenny had been going. Lenny didn't like taking risks, he didn't like the rush that came with almost-failure. The man liked things to be certain and secure, and life wasn't like that. Bell-boy wasn't like that and it was gone.
They would always be, if Lenny wanted something sure.
But Lenny had never loved Bell-goat for what it was. Not in the way he did.
Bell wound his way slowly down the slope. Slow turns, the perilous moment both skis were pointed downhill before he pushed around the town and came out the other side. Then a slow glide across the hill, postponing the moment he'd have to turn again. Other skiers whizzed past him, carelessly making turns that looked like they'd murder him. He tried one, and ended up splattered into the snow.
A little annoyed, Bell picked himself up with a grumble and kept on going down. Slow but steady, that was the name of the game. He'd get better with time. Time and a little practice. Hopefully without Landon laughing at him the whole way.
What was he supposed to have done? Admit he'd never gone skiing before? Landon wouldn't have let him ski. Hide it? Then he got made fun of. It was a catch-22. Couldn't do anything right, because no matter what he did, he was wrong.
Oh well. It wasn't that big a deal. He let out a slow breath and forced himself to stop thinking about it. It was easier when he was surrounded by so much beauty. The raw white snow of the slopes, the dark bark of bare trees clawing at the sky, the deep green needles of the evergreens, smothered under inches of white. It really felt like he was on a vacation when he was out here, in the wilderness, gliding away under a bright blue sky, over bright white snow.
Slowly, slowly, slowly. Skiing started to feel less fun and more like a really grueling, boring hike. Glide, turn. Glide, turn. His legs got tired from standing and from the repetition.
A pile of limbs in the snow caught his attention. He glided past, curious as to who was worse at this than he was. Wait--Landon? He managed to pull a slow stop and looked back up at Landon as he climbed up. "You okay?" he asked, concerned despite himself. Even if he was annoyed at Landon, he still cared enough to check up on him.
He grabbed one of Landon's ski poles and held it out to him. Though he was trying not to gloat, it was hard not to. 'Don't pretend like you're an expert,' was it? And then what did Landon do but immediately wipe out, on the very next hill. Who was pretending to be an expert now, huh?
Bell improved at least. Landon gave Bell a nod and pushed off first, sure the man would follow. There were only a few other ways down, amongst which the elevator. Either way Landon knew Bell wasn't scared of anything, let alone a few snowy slopes, even if he might fall. Maybe Bell-goat would teach Bell how to heal himself. Or he'd die and be 'reset'. Landon let go of those thoughts and focussed on going down. He went fast, bobbing and weaving around trees and other obstacles.
A few other people were on the slope as well, but they were ahead or far behind, small, colourful figures in the distance. Landon cleared his mind and just listened to the rhythm of the snow whizzing under his skis, the pattern of his breathing and the complaints of his muscles whenever he overdid something.
For a moment all his thoughts just turned off and he was just reacting; instinctual balancing and changing course to find the optimal route down. There were marks already in the snow, but there weren't many. It'd snowed last night.
He didn't remember, but he kind of did.
He remembered Bellwether's face, looking at him. Daniel had kissed Bell.
And Bell had kissed back.
Even without memories, Daniel was still the number one person Bell was attracted to. Daniel made it so easy. There were never any strings attached or lies told with Daniel. It was easy. Daniel was easy for anyone he wanted.
If he wasn't already so out of breath, maybe he would've felt the anger, the despair, how powerless he really was and how broken. Bell had been happy with a wife for months, not even remembering him and now that they were reunited, he'd taken to Daniel rather than him. Landon wished he'd never existed in the first place. Daniel could be fine, if it wasn't for him.
And then he made a mistake.
White tumbled around him, until he came to a harrowing stop in the snow. Shit.
It was so quiet suddenly. All white.
Daniel blinked up at the sky. What the-
Had he fallen asleep in the snow? Now there was something. He laughed. His heart was pounding, skis were on his feet, though they were positioned at an awkward angle. One of the ski-sticks was jutted in the ground several feet further. Lenny's head wasn't in the game. Daniel picked himself up slowly, making sure everything was still where it should be and grabbed the stick. Pretty irresponsible to go skiing when they weren't exactly stable.
Landon didn't try to strike up conversation. He wasn't sure if he liked or disliked that. The silence felt awkward, but at the same time, every time Landon said anything, it just all seemed to go wrong. He was making an effort to like the man and be nice to him, but it felt like all Landon wanted to do was laugh at him or talk down to him. Was that what their relationship had been until now? Was that normal, for him? He didn't like it. If this was really all there was between them, then maybe he was better off on his own.
He sighed to himself and leaned on his hand. He was being a bit dramatic and he knew it, but damn, was this an awkward situation. All he'd wanted was to enjoy being out of Haven and have a little fun, and it'd turned into babysitting Daniel, then getting laughed at by Landon. This was supposed to be a vacation, wasn't it? So why was everything going to shit?
Maybe he should just give up. He glanced at Landon. If he vanished, he was pretty sure Landon wouldn't give a fuck. Daniel might miss him a bit, but Landon would probably just be relieved. He turned away, looking back at the snow. If he could just remember everything, it would all be okay, wouldn't it? But he couldn't. Some things were just gone. The next time Daniel was out, he'd ask him to use the goatling. Restore his memories once and for all. Give the two of them one last chance before he left for good.
Landon didn't suggest to get off early this time. They kept riding, chugging up the mountain until there was nowhere left to go. Bell got off a little more gracefully this time, managing to kick off enough to avoid getting caught in the chair or thrown on his ass. Before him, the slope stretched to the horizon, plunged to the depths of the earth. He shifted a little, slightly nervous. Maybe he wasn't ready for this yet.
Yeah, and that sounded like something Landon would say. He bared his teeth at the wind and pushed off. So what if he fell down? There was snow to catch him. He'd be perfectly fine.
Landon sighed and shook his head. Bell was in a mood and frankly, he didn't know how to deal with it no more. It felt like everything they'd built had been destroyed and would have to be reconstructed from scratch. How did Daniel deal with this? Wasn't he hurt? Probably not, the psychopath.
For a few long minutes, Landon just stood there, watching the other people descend. He felt detached from it all, as if he shouldn't have even attempted to belong in their society. Daniel thought money would solve things, but it'd only served to widen the gap. Again black. It was a figure he could make out now, but it was moving away from him. A wolf of some kind? That wasn't possible, was it?
Landon shook his head.
If only one of his attempts at suicide had been successful, they wouldn't have to go through all of this. Bellwether would just live his life hunting goats in blissful ignorance. Bellwether-goat wouldn't even know the meaning of gratitude; all it did was echo the ill-gained emotion when it felt like manipulating humans.
When it felt like watching poetry unfold.
It would've undoubtedly freed itself from Haven whenever it damned well felt like, if it wanted to. Maybe it hadn't wanted to be freed like that.
He pushed off and took his time getting down. Bellwether was already there, waiting. Of course, the man was too butt-hurt to even speak to him at this point, so they stood around in awkward silence instead.
Apparently they were going for a second run, because Bell was already lining back up. He checked his gear over as they waited. Soon enough the elevator arrived to take them back up. After that little test-drive, Landon figured Bell would try to go for something more exciting and hey, who was he to try and tell Bellwether differently? Hadn't it been like this when they'd first met? Each time he suggested something, it seemed to backfire. So why bother now? In a way it felt familiar and comfortable to just surrender to Bellwether's lead. Except that Bellwether didn't have a clue at the moment and it was scary.
Well, whatever. It wasn't like they needed to talk in order to kill a goat. Landon sat back in the elevator. He'd ride it all the way up and clear his head on the way down.
What did Landon think he was, his dad? "Yeah, yeah," he grumbled into his coat. He could figure it out on his own. He'd figured it out so far, hadn't he? And he'd managed to make it to the slopes, which he knew Landon wouldn't have let happen if he'd had his way.
He pushed off and followed Landon down the hill, though a little slower and more cautiously. More than once, his feet threatened to slide out from under him, but he managed to get the hang of launching his weight forward to counteract the slip, and then it was just a matter of keeping himself from going too fast or stopping entirely.
Skiing was more difficult than he'd anticipated, all in all. Everything kept sliding every which way. Ice scraped by under his skis, then powder slowed him almost to a stop. Some of it was fine, but some seemed engineered to stop him dead or flip him over.
It was still fun, though. As he started to get the hang of it, he started to enjoy it. The wind in his hair, blasting his face. The rush of the slope underneath him. The other people racing by, cutting elegant curves across the snow. It was everything he'd imagined it would be and more.
Landon had stopped halfway down to wait. Bell ignored him and went gliding on past at the best speed he could manage. He wasn't going to give in to the man acting like he was some five year old. If he didn't respond, maybe Landon would just let it drop and forget all about it. So what if he didn't know how to ski? He didn't know a lot of things. Was he going to get teased for all of those, too? Ugh. Landon really was a stick in the mud. Even on his good days, apparently.
At the bottom, he waited for Landon before he got in line again. He wasn't that rude, after all. Rather than strike up conversation, he stared around them at the other skiers and the snow, taking it all in. So much white. But so much color, as well. It wasn't like Haven at all. He sighed out and scratched his jaw. He was glad to be out of there, one way or another. Glad that Daniel had gone and rescued him. Well. 'Rescued.' Woken him to his own stupidity, more like. Nobody rescued him but himself.
It didn't take long for Bellwether to realize the reason why he suggested they get off already. The man didn't fight him on it either, but instead started to flail around on the skis and crashed into the snow with a little puff. Landon tried to keep a straight face, but it was hard. He bit his lip and waited, pretending to secure his gloves a little better around the sticks.
"Just, you know," Landon started, pulling his coat down so Bell could hear him.
"Keep your legs together and lean your weight left and right to steer," he advised. "And don't pretend you're an expert, because you're obviously not."
Landon chuckled at Bell and before the man could protest, pushed off and went down the slopes. It'd been a long while for him too, but he enjoyed it more than he thought it would. The cold air rushed by his face, his body, but the sun was fierce and reflected against the snow, leaving him pretty warm from the exercise.
Landon felt the effects of what Daniel had put them through last night weighing him down, never mind the pills slowed his responses, but he took it easy, didn't take any unnecessary risks or difficult bends or corners.
He held still half-way to see where Bell had gotten off to. He hoped the man wasn't a heap of snow by now. On a slope like this though, Landon doubted it. Kids were trying their best for the first time on skis and some older people took a slow but graceful glide down. The view was gorgeous and Landon took a moment to soak it in. High up here, everything felt serene almost. Like there was nothing that could touch them.
A flash of black, just between the trees outside the slopes called his attention. Landon narrowed his eyes. Was there something out there? No. That was ridiculous. He was just seeing things, like usual. It was common, or so the shrink said, to see things in the corners of your eyes. Black flashes of movement the brain tried to make sense of, but were meaningless and harmless.
They'd never completely be able to stop everything he saw.
It was a meaningless endeavour.
Landon looked back and made sure his glasses were on properly. Now that he'd caught his breath, he was ready to head back down.
Bell squinted at Landon. That had sounded suspiciously like condescension. Surely Landon hadn't figured out his bluff yet? He hadn't told Bell to stop skiing either, though, so maybe he was still in the clear. "I slipped," he explained bluntly.
It took more effort than he was expecting to move with skis, but he bore out silently and without complaint, following Landon along to the lift. The girl and the guy from earlier were in line ahead of him, waiting for the lift as well. He watched them wait, but they weren't doing anything interesting. Just being lovebirds, the girl laughing and pushing him away while he flirted mercilessly with her. So much public affection. It made him sick.
They got on the lift, him and Landon. The seats scooped them up into the sky, and off they flew. Below them, the slopes were laid out like long stretches of perfect white carpet, interrupted by swathes of dark forest. Even the trees were beautiful, heavily laden with snow and ice, boughs thick and rounded, softened by snow. Below them, the skiers and boarders were little colorful ants, scurrying around on the snow.
Landon was silently admiring the slopes as well. Rather than interrupt him, Bell just went on admiring them beside him. They could be quiet for a little while.
"Here? But--" but the bunny-goat was still going up! He looked at Landon, then at the slope, then shrugged and hopped off. What were they doing to do, anyways? Even if they followed the goat across the ski slopes, there'd always be someone there, and they'd always end up back at the lifts. It was a stupid idea in the first place.
"No, you're right," he conceded. The slope was coming up fast. He lifted up his legs, and then they were there. He put this feet down. Pushed off. Stood for a second.
Then he crashed to the floor with a little puff of snow.
"Landon, wait!" he called. His feet kept sliding away every time he tried to stand. At last, he managed to edge them into the snow edgewise and pry himself upright. For a second, he just caught his breath; then he chased after Landon, towards the slope. "I'm coming," he said, doing his best to look like it was all intentional.
For a second there, Landon doubted his perception of Bellwether's ability to ski, but then the man proved him right by flailing down a small slope. Landon decided not to comment on it, leaving Bellwether to uphold his lie for as long as the man saw fit. He seemed to learn by doing quickest anyway. It was like that with most things Bell tried, like driving a car.
"You're doing great, we need to head that way," Landon pointed out with a smirk. He pushed off with the ski-sticks and got in line for the lift. A little down the line, he could see the man they'd caught earlier. They were snowboarding, but everyone needed this elevator to at least get up there, even if they took a second one later. Landon hoped they wouldn't. Bell would have enough trouble managing himself at the first few slopes, it looked like.
The girl was with the guy. Landon looked over, but other than the colour of her hair and outfit, nothing stood out in particular. At least he'd be able to recognize her from a distance now. Daniel's little memory floated about his head too. Last night had been a shit-show, he didn't need half-drunk memories to draw that conclusion either.
The elevator was quick and efficient. Landon hopped on and settled in for the ride.
It was beautiful, he wouldn't deny. If it weren't for the goat, Landon might have thought they'd just come here for pleasure. Vacation was a foreign concept to goats though, wasn't it? He sighed and looked over at Bell.
Was he really letting himself be lured into this whole mess all over again? Last time he'd tried to commit suicide. And then suddenly he found himself back. At one point, Daniel had been the only truth. Landon knew he wasn't real. That he shouldn't actually be there and it was hard to come to terms with that. How could he just give up existing?
Strangely enough, Landon found himself missing the appointments he'd had with his psychiatrist. Maybe it was better if Bell didn't get too attached to him. He might just disappear for good at some point. It'd happened before. It wasn't impossible for it to happen again.
The lift slowed down. Landon pulled down his glasses. They'd find the woman and her boyfriend later that night. For now, it might be best they tried to stay in one piece instead.
"This is our stop, Bell," he signalled. "Just push off like this," Landon instructed and went on ahead.
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