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Bell-boy's voices shattered the silence. Daniel looked back, spoon in mouth and gave the man a thoughtful look. Better than before. Some extra sleep had done the man good. He cleared his mouth and looked at the mutt, "don't know. Some burrow."
Daniel let out a yawn, infected by Bell-boy's, and moved back to the porch to sit down. Everything was a bit slow and hazy today, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It meant he'd probably slept too long.
The bowl was cleared before he knew it and Goldy gave in to her hunting-instincts and remained in position to stare at where she dug. If whatever she was digging up was nocturnal, she had a long wait ahead of her. Daniel got up and decided he might as well make sure she had plenty of water then, and refilled her water-bowl.
He stretched out leisurely and picked up the phone. Only ten in the morning. Not that bad. If the clock on the machine was correct. They were usually early risers. Well, Bell-boy was anyway. Not today apparently.
There was little else to do about the house. Goldy had been fed, got water and then what? They definitely needed some form of entertainment. At least until Bell-boy got a job and he'd be in the tube.
"Want a bath?" Daniel offered. If they were having a slow start, they might as well go all the way and go into town feeling refreshed and clean. It'd up Bell-boy's chances at finding a job regardless and it'd give him something to do.
A knock to the door.
Daniel raised an eyebrow.
Alphie? He lumbered over at the door, paused at the bedroom to ponder whether or not to take his bat and continued walking. Alphie.
"You're early," Daniel accused.
Alphie merely raised an eyebrow. "It's my day off," she muttered and shouldered past him into the house. She was carrying heavier tools now, more elaborate ones. Daniel rubbed at the back of his head and scrutinized the woman. Looked like she hadn't slept a wink.
Had this little project of hers become an obsession?
With a distracted look at Bell and Goldy, Alphie went straight for the basement. Daniel followed, bemused.
"You know, we could probably help you..."
Alphie snorted dismissively.
Daniel raised his hands and held still as the woman descended into the basement.
He turned his head to Bell, "so that bath?"
He woke up slowly, the sun heating him a bit too much to stay asleep. He yawned and peeled his eyes open, observing the bed. Wrinkled sheets. An open expanse. No weight in the bed, either. Daniel was gone, and so was Goldy. Just him.
Bell blinked and sat up, brushing his hair back instinctively. There wasn't much to push back anymore. It kind of surprised him, at least until he remembered. They'd cut it yesterday, of course it'd be short. He gave the bed another lazy, slow survey, not that he was expecting anything to show up, and wiped his eyes. Yep, Daniel had gotten up while he was asleep. Goldy too. Should've woken him up. He didn't need sleep that badly.
"Daniel," he called. He climbed slowly upright, still feeling dazed from sleep. He had to admit he felt a lot better for it, though. Daniel had made the right decision to let him sleep.
Out into the kitchen and dining room. Still no sign of Daniel or Goldy. "Goldy, c'mere, girl," he called out hopefully. Where'd they gone, on a walk? He checked the front window, but the car looked like it was still there. Good. Hadn't gone anywhere. Backyard?
There they were. Goldy was digging, and it looked like Daniel was eating something out of a bowl. He went over to investigate, but it was just yogurt and fruit. Boring stuff. He'd go find something better in a minute. Bell let out a yawn and sat back against the back of the house. "What's she diggin'?" he asked. Dirty, mostly, it looked like.
He yawned again and headed back inside to grab a bowl of cereal for himself. Forget that boring yogurt stuff, it was sugary cereal stuff for him.
It was weird that Daniel was dreaming about the tube. Well, maybe not that weird. He'd been in one before, and he imagined the guy would be pretty scared about going back in one. Bell would be scared if it was him going in the tube. But it was so vivid, that was the weird part. Maybe it just felt like he was in the tube because the goatling was doing something to prepare for it? He could hope that, anyways. It meant the goatling was cooperating with them, for one.
Okay, huh? Daniel waited for Bell-boy to cede and stroked the man's hair, toying with the short strands. From this angle, he couldn't quite catch Bell's expression, but he didn't have to. He could tell everything he wanted to know just by reading the man's body-language. Goldy settled in, her affection evidently sparked by the same context.
His hand paused.
"Hmm?" he asked lazily.
Maybe he was hearing things. Wouldn't be the first time. Probably not the last. He continued toying with Bell's hair, dismissing the auditory hallucination as something non-trivial. Daniel yawned, then closed his eyes. It was far too comfortable to get up, even though he'd evidently gotten enough sleep. Breakfast was probably in order, but after resting on Bell's shoulders so much, Daniel felt keen to finally support Bell-boy, even if it was only for a little while.
He waited for a while, eyes closed and resting.
It was Goldy to break the spell. They had toilets. The mutt didn't, but the door was still busted, so she puttered around nudging their door open and trotted towards the back-door. They were really bad dog-owners, in the grand scheme of things.
Daniel kissed Bell-boy's forehead and wormed himself free. He might as well start them on some breakfast so they could get something done today. Undoubtedly, they'd find Alphie stopping by later this afternoon, whether they were there to witness it or not. A broken back-door wasn't the worst idea in the world. At least it spared them the effort of having extra keys made.
Daniel padded towards the kitchen, slowly working out the lingering stiffness in his muscles. The dream still haunted him. Why was it so real?
He rubbed his chest, opening a couple of cabinets with his free hand in search of food. There was plenty to be found, but he couldn't be bothered to go through any effort. In the end he settled for fruit and yoghurt, adding some cereal to the mix in the end. If Bell-boy was still asleep, it'd probably be better the man got his fill.
Even when Goldy started to dig in what was supposedly their back-yard, it was quiet.
"What're you doing?" he asked the animal, bowl in hand. He stirred his food and watched Goldy pause, then continue to dig. A mole? Maybe a rat's nest. He wouldn't be surprised, this far out of town.
Bell shuddered. If that was what was going to happen, if Daniel was so entwined the goatling couldn't escape, then he'd rather treasure what time they had left together than lock him away in a tube on a hopeless attempt to save him. But it was just a dream. Just a nightmare. There was no guarantee either way, that Daniel would survive or that he'd die. "They're just dreams," he said out loud, looking at Daniel through Goldy's fur. He wanted confirmation, wanted Daniel to say the same thing, though he wasn't sure what else they could be but dreams.
"Iss' okay," he mumbled. He hadn't been sleeping well all night, really, so what difference did it make? Sure, he'd love to sleep, but... it wasn't happening, was it? "Mmm, but she's so fluffy," he sighed, eyes closing. She really made a good pillow. Especially since she didn't seem to mind being laid on.
"Mmm-mmm, not really," Bell sighed. "You were too hot. And then the blankets, and," he paused and shrugged. "I couldn't get comfy." He didn't know. Sometimes it just happened like that, he just couldn't sleep no matter what.
Daniel-pillow? That was better than Goldy-pillow. He pushed Goldy away gently and scooted closer to Daniel, putting his head on the other man's shoulder. Bony, but reassuring. The quiet beat of Daniel's heart and the steady whooshing of his lungs, in-out, in-out, lured Bell to rest, body craving the sleep it could finally find here. He knew they should get up and do stuff, but he couldn't find the will inside him to do anything but sleep, cuddle with Daniel, and sleep some more. "I love you so much," he whispered, too quiet to hear over the sounds of Daniel's breathing. He couldn't take the thought of being left alone. Didn't even want to think it.
Goldy curled up behind him, joining the rest of her pack for naptime. It made him feel secure. Surrounded by the people and animals who loved him, hidden away in their own house where no one would bother them... it was perfect. If this moment could stretch forever, he'd be happy.
"Yeah," he confirmed Bell-boy's suspicion. Going by the man's gait and the low intensity of the sun, Daniel figured it might still be early. Either way they didn't have anywhere they had to be, regardless of their plans to be places. Nothing was set in stone that way. They were still free, even if they had a house.
Daniel let himself fall back on the pillow and stared at the roof.
"Dreamt I was caught in the tube -goatling was there, so were you guys. You were arguing with Alphie, I think. It's blurry whenever I try to see out of the tank and then... It was..." Daniel put a hand to his chest. It still ached, ever so faintly.
"It had an arm right here, and another to my gut, and the goatling was pumping my heart," he explained slowly, trying to grasp what he'd really experienced. "...it couldn't keep that up forever. That'd...make it all moot. So it stopped," he said, voice dipping down.
"And then it hurt."
Daniel sighed, looking at Bell from his position on the pillow.
"It felt so real," he breathed softly. "These dreams are all so real."
He wiped his face down and took another deep breath, trying to clear his mind of the paranoia. Obviously, the goatling was already doing something in preparation -as much as it could without a tube. Possibly, it was using the teleportation-hangover to make some last minute adjustments to lay the groundwork for later. Daniel really didn't want to find out what happened if Alphie wasn't quick enough. He really didn't.
"Sorry I woke you," Daniel muttered, tugging Bell-boy's arm.
"Stop using the dog as a pillow," he chuckled. Goldy didn't seem to mind. If anything, it made her feel a full member of their little pack, of which Daniel was pretty sure he was the lowest in rank.
He didn't feel like doing anything.
"You look tired, you sleep at all?" Daniel offered. He'd probably kept Bell-boy up, tossing and turning as he fought the fever. Not that he recalled any of it, if anything even happened. "Come rest for a bit," he offered part of his shoulder.
Bell-boy looked different with his hair cut like this. Younger, somehow.
It provoked protective feelings in him he'd thus far reserved for Lily and Alice. Bell hadn't needed them. Daniel still considered Bell stronger than he was.
He fell back asleep easily. Something about the faint light of dawn and the way Daniel's breathing calmed relaxed him so easily, moreso than it had last night. Of anything, exhaustion had sunk in at some point during the night, but so he felt almost more sleepy now than he had trying to fall asleep last night. No dreams awaited him this time, either, nothing but darkness and peace until Daniel started twitching beside him.
"Wha..." Bell muttered, half asleep. He cracked an eye open, then reached out and patted Daniel. "'S okay, sleep." He yawned and closed his eyes, snuggling back down into the bed. They could sleep. Sleep was good.
Daniel twitched harder instead of relaxing, then jolted upright. Startled, Bell jerked up as well, blinking away sleep. Even though he knew there was no threat, his heart was still pounding, body tensing. He bit his lip and surveyed the room quickly, just to be sure. "Something wrong?" he asked.
Apparently not. Daniel started petting Goldy, so Bell settled back down to try and get more sleep. This time, though, it proved evasive. He sat up with a yawn and clumsily pushed his hair back, watching the bathroom door to see if Daniel would emerge. He had to pee too, now that he was thinking about it.
At last Daniel came out. Bell stood and stumbled over to take his turn in the bathroom, then wobbled back out and sat down on the bed, next to Daniel. "Nightmare?" he asked. Looked like it. It was usually him, but sometimes Daniel has nasty ones, too. He rested his head on Daniel's shoulder. He was still tired, but he didn't feel like he could sleep any more. He was so... just... he couldn't, ugh. Being awake sounded like effort. But he could sit here and chat a bit. "What was it about? The nightmare."
Goldy took the chance to wiggle into his lap and bug him for pets, so he leaned on her instead as he obliged her, closing his eyes a little even thought it was hopeless. His heart was beating too fast, Daniel had woken him too much. There was no getting back to sleep, not anymore.
He could sleep? Okay. Daniel felt too sleepy to fight the command, shifted, sighed and resettled. The fever had finally gone down, but now he was left with a drained sensation that kept clinging to him. Much like the bed, it was a comfortable feeling that enticed more sleep. Hunger and the need to take a leak came second place. Neither need was overwhelming enough to push him out of bed.
Bell-boy returned after a while and Daniel turned around to face the man. Nice and cosy. Daniel inched closer and rested his head against Bell's shoulder. It didn't take long for his breathing to sag and grow rhythmic once more.
This time dreams did manage to find him. Muffled voices broke the spell; outside of the tube, through the dense liquid and wall, Daniel could see animated gestures. He couldn't make out any words, but recognized Bell-boy's body language almost immediately. Hah, he'd had nightmares about not seeing the guy every day, but there he was, arguing with his carers. Why was he awake?
The arguing stopped, heads turned in his general direction. Daniel tried to move, shift, but he was paralyzed. Beeping attracted their attention, clearly.
Next to him, docilely floating in the goo, was the goatling. Unlike the people outside, it was clearly outlined. An arm was attached to his chest, another to his gut. Daniel had trouble keeping his eyes focussed and open.
He jerked. It didn't even hurt. The people outside scrambled for- for something. To help him? The beeping's intervals decreased. Almost in sync with his heart-beat. The heart the goatling was pumping. His arm twitched. A single sting of pain and he woke. Daniel looked about the room wildly for all but two seconds before realizing where he was.
"Fuck..." he mumbled. By now the need to use the toilet had become overwhelming enough to be uncomfortable. The dream lingered. His chest ached, but nothing near to what he dreamt it'd do.
He pulled up to sit, and stared at the bare room. He felt groggy.
Goldy was there, wagging her tail at him, smelling like dog-food now. Not an improvement. Daniel stroked her fur, until she was faintly content and then got up to see to some personal matters. Again the stupid dream had left him wondering which was reality. Both?
Was the goatling messing with his memories?
He felt a little shaky going to the bathroom, but nothing serious.
"We really need a clock," he breathed on his return. It'd be nice to know what time it was. Actually, they did have the phone. Daniel couldn't be bothered to go check it now though. He sat back on the bed, debating whether he felt up for doing anything or get some more sleep, at the risk of more nightmares.
Daniel had weird taste. Bell shook his head and yanked off his socks, then sat down in the bed. Curtains would be much nicer. Though then again, as long as they kept the lights off when it was dark, it wouldn't matter. He sunk down and curled up, acknowledging Daniel's arm by sliding closer himself. It was warm in here this close, but he didn't care. It wasn't much longer before he'd have no one to curl up with.
"Gnight," he muttered, closing his eyes and settling down for good.
It took a little while for him to get comfortable. He kicked off the comforter and the sheets, but refused to pull away from Daniel. As he settled down and his breathing evened out, he grew cool enough to cuddle up for the night. At some point, Goldy came in, claws clicking on the floor, then huffed and laid down at their feet. Bell rolled over, then turned back, trying to get comfortable. It just wasn't happening tonight. He couldn't sleep. Had he not moved enough today, or something? Ugh. It was horrible.
He must have ended up asleep at some point, because he didn't know when it'd happened, but suddenly there was a heavy weight on his chest and he couldn't breathe. Bell shoved at the thing, eyes still closed, and got a startled whine and a thump in return. Confused, he wrenched his eyes open. Goldy was lying on the side of the bed, big liquid eyes giving him an injured look.
"That's what you get for lyin' on me," he huffed.
He laid back down, but like last night, sleep wouldn't come. A heavy sigh escaped his lips. Goldy creeped back over to stare at him, ears cocked. Slowly, Bell climbed out of bed. "What do you want," he complained. Did she need to go out? He could do that.
Brown eyes. Looked like Daniel was awake. "You can sleep, I've got 'er," he said, leading Goldy out of the room.
He started for the door, but she leaned against him and guided him over to the food bowl. "Oh, hungry," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. He filled up her bowl, spilling a little more than usual with early-morning clumsiness, then stumbled back to bed. He plopped down beside Daniel and closed his eyes. "Ugh, sleep."
Sorry, was he? Daniel shrugged. "Worked out in the end, didn't it?" Teleporting like that however wasn't something he wanted to do twice. Bell-goat wasn't fond of being subjugated to it and Daniel not to the sensations that came with it. At least the goat had cooperated. Daniel didn't think he'd have been able to move Bell-boy otherwise.
"It was my decision and it's fine. Already had the worst of it anyway," he waved away Bell's concern.
Daniel followed Bell-boy into the house, struck by how warm it still was between those walls as opposed to outside. The clear sky really soaked the heat right out of the ground. Goldy's lapping at the water was the only sign of living inside so far. Nice and peaceful indeed. Regardless, Daniel figured he'd sleep like a log.
"Maybe. I kind of like it without curtains," Daniel confessed. He didn't waste much time changing clothes. Once the lights were flicked off, they were on the winning side of looking out of the window once more; it was darker inside than out. Daniel preferred being able to look outside. His paranoia extended to feeling unsafe at times. None of that now, but still.
Daniel rested back with a weary sigh.
He was glad he'd taken the walk. Made him feel less like he was ill all the time, every time. Teleporting was even worse when it was back to back. And each time had been with several additions to his person.
Not a favourable position to be in at all.
He slung a lazy arm across Bell's body and inched close. Nice and warm.
His skin was still cold from their little stroll, but he was quickly heating up. "G'night, Bell-boy," Daniel drawled before succumbing to sleep. He was too tired to have nightmares. Darkness was all that greeted him. Darkness and the feint sensation of floating. Whenever he opened his eyes, or tried to, there was only a blurry darkness. Some shapes were visible in that haze, but nothing would settle long enough for him to make sense of.
Daniel snapped to, blinking owlishly into the face of one concerned dog.
"Hmm, dog breath," he complained, and pushed Goldy's face out of his. She didn't seem at all deterred, but laid down and watched one of her pack awaken so she could be fed.
All around them, night creatures sang a chorus, crickets and cicadas and all the other creepy crawlies that made a nocturnal living crawling from their holes to sing to each other. In the distance, an owl hooted, lower tones nearly overpowered by the rest. Goldy passed by on her way to range again, no more than a low, dark shape in the night, flanks gleaming silver, gold stolen by the moonlight. She greeted them with a friendly shove and a sniff or two before she vanished again.
"I don't think we ever were," Bell replied with a snort. "Goats don't understand good and evil." They just... were. If anything, he felt like a part of a greater food chain of sorts, the same way the owl would eat mice, who in turn ate grains and bugs. He was just part of the goats' machine, part of the way they operated, somehow or another. Good and evil were things humans worried about. Just like the owl didn't question whether it was right to eat mice, so the goat had never stopped to consider whether it was right to make him and Daniel do this. It was simply the way things were.
But he and Daniel were human, free to question what they were doing. And he had to admit that yeah, they hadn't exactly been good. Hadn't even been the passive sort of good that unquestioningly followed the law, unless they considered the goats the law. He looked at Daniel, the man's impassive face lit by moonlight. He considered the goats godlike, didn't he? Then wasn't "good" what the goats told him to do?
"Yeah, I can tell," he said, trying to break that weird chain of thought he'd been wandering down. "Sorry about making you teleport. Maybe we should've looked for another way out. I was just worried about that guard..." He sighed out and shrugged. Daniel knew. They'd already talked it over. "Let's go to bed."
Goldy hovered by the door, waiting. The moment he twisted the knob, she shot inside. "What's the rush for, ya dumb dog," he asked her, but she was too busy drinking to answer. Thirsty, huh?
Bell kicked off his shoes and headed to the bedroom to strip down, turning off the lights along the way. "Should get curtains," he muttered, suddenly aware of how much light blasted out into the dark night, how little he could see outside. Anyone could look inside and see them. Not that there was anything to see, but still.
"Guess so, jobs tend to be eventful," Daniel shrugged. Given, not all jobs were like that, but the majority of jobs were demanding -physically, emotionally or intellectually. People liked to be 'challenged', which was just another trick to get people to feel inspired about working for capitalism. Daniel hadn't agreed then and still didn't. It was one of the reasons he'd stolen money and the amount he had. They were all just arbitrary numbers anyway.
"Ugh, applications," he sighed out. The dreaded soliciting made him shiver in disgust. Or cold. Either or.
"Sure, you just do what you need to do." They'd already had that argument. Bell-boy didn't need to work, but he'd definitely go stir-crazy without any sort of rhythm or logic to his life. He could appreciate that sentiment at the very least.
Daniel walked back slowly. Food and rest had replenished some of his energy, but he'd made the right call to turn back when he did, even if they were both more emotional than they usually were. The night was young plenty. Sleep, maybe some fun, a nice shower and they'd be ready to face a new day.
He'd ask Alphie whether they could do anything to speed up the process. Find the blonde. She'd know what to do to help speed things along just fine. Not that Alphie would be particularly appreciative. Daniel snorted softly, then sighed.
A wet nose signalled the fur that came next. Goldy licked at his hand, then trotted on. Supposedly she'd found where they were going again and ran off, waited to look back, then ran off some more. It was unsettling how oblivious the mutt was to her fate.
It was sad.
"Sometimes I get the feeling we're no longer the good guys," Daniel put out there, almost dreamily. They'd killed, were set up to murder an innocent animal, fought for goats, rather than humanity and undid whatever humanity did do to save itself. Even Bell-boy's conviction started to waver once he'd learned he was a goat himself. And after that pitiful kill, neither of them had been convinced about the goats being solely monsters.
They'd coexisted unknowingly for years.
So what were they doing exactly? Daniel looked at Bell, but found only a moon-lit silhouette, from which he could discern no accurate expressions.
"Almost back home," he signalled.
Goldy was already there. "I'm ready for bed."
Here it was Daniel who was going to get stuck in that tube, and Bell was the one who needed comforting? He needed to pull himself together. That wasn't right. He had to be strong for Daniel, so Daniel wouldn't worry about what would happen while he was unconscious. He couldn't let Daniel know how worried he was.
Deep breath. He shook his head and swallowed all his fears and worries away. He could be strong. It was the one thing he was good at. "It does," he agreed, looking up at the sky, at the bushes and trees obscuring their skyline to a thin strip above the road. If he was under those trees, though, he knew it would look almost transparent, the sky spread out in all directions around them. It'd been like that before. Back in the woods, tucked away from everything, the sky had seemed so huge, every sound magnified--
He couldn't head back! He gave Daniel a look, then raised his eyebrows and wiped his face down. This forest, this tense peace, it wasn't good for his heart. "Yeah, let's head back," he agreed.
"It's quiet," he said, repeating Daniel's words back at him. Quiet. And empty. Nothing was going to happen. No one was going to fight them. There was no danger, aside from the goatling's fast-approaching due date. "Peaceful. Maybe it'll get more exciting once I have a job, huh?" He gave Daniel a playful smirk he didn't quite feel.
Would he be able to survive this kind of life? This quiet, slow-paced life, living out in the middle of nowhere, being an ordinary person? It wasn't hard. Everyone could do it. But it sounded so dull.
This was part of being strong, wasn't it, adapting as he needed to support Daniel? He could do it. He shouldn't complain. "Tomorrow, I want to go around and fill out applications," he said. "While we're in town. You know, get some solid groundwork laid. Actually--start applying for jobs, and stuff." Groundwork... Construction might be a good idea for him, actually, wouldn't it? Lots of brute strength, no one would think twice about a wrench, and there'd be plenty of places he'd suddenly have access to that would be great hunting spots. Not that he'd be hunting. But if it happened, it was good to prepare, right?
Seemed like Bell-boy wasn't as unaffected as he'd seemed. Daniel felt Bell tighten his grip and hid his face against his shoulder. All he could do, was place his hands against Bell-boy's back and comfortingly stroke it. He gave Bell the time he needed to compose himself again, not as if they had anywhere to be, or anything else to do. In that sense too, things were peaceful. Quiet before the storm.
"It's alright," Daniel waved away Bell-boy's apology. He'd been feeling it too. Nervous, helpless, worried. All that and more. But somehow, it'd gotten forced to the background, which made him suspicious the goatling had a hand in changing his emotions.
It felt wrong, somehow. At least that paranoia would be relieved when he was back to his old self. Well. Hopefully. There'd be a score of other unreasonable fears in exchange, of that he was certain.
When they started walking again, Bell's pace was slow and deliberate.
"Gets dark here quickly, huh?" he pitched. No street-lights also meant their visibility was low. His eyes had trouble distinguishing trees and bushes from the horizon. Only the stars clued away a sky.
A shudder. Daniel observed Bell. Was the other man just cold?
Probably. The temperature was going down fast.
Daniel yawned, feeling a shiver of his own crawl up his spine. "Hmm, maybe we should head back?" he offered. The walk was a little more taxing than he'd thought. He'd get there soon enough.
Just not today. He'd been pretty useless today overall.
"Life's not that bad, huh? From this vantage point?" he offered. Daniel worried for what he might find when he got out of the tube, depending on how it took for the goatling to extract itself. If he left Bell-boy alone for several months, what would that leave them with? Bell might revert to his wicked ways; hunt, without recollection. Or would the man be paranoid and on edge, just glad to see him back out?
What he feared most was returning to a blood-bath. Sure, Alphie and her scientist bunch had pretty much tortured them in their quest for knowledge, but he didn't wish a death like that on anyone. Maybe they ought to look into getting a male nurse. Just to offset Bell-boy's fantasy.
Oh. Oh, right. For some reason, he'd been picturing the goatling leaving Daniel and immediately going for Goldy, but it didn't have to work like that, did it? He could have his furry four-legged companion until it was time for Daniel to emerge. He breathed out. It was reassuring, more than he'd expected it to be. He'd been alone for so long. Having something alongside him while Daniel was out of reach was more than he'd expected, and it felt--good. It felt good. He snorted. Just like Daniel and Spot, he'd have a dog by his side while Daniel was under.
First few weeks after--? After the goatling had gone in? Oh, the voices. Were they that constant? That intrusive? Daniel would be going back to that, too. Returning to that state. Wasn't he worried? Afraid? He seemed so strong, when they were standing here, that Bell could almost forget how vulnerable he'd seemed earlier.
Arms wrapped around him. Bell hugged Daniel back, stepping in closer. "Me too," he confessed. Just them, being themselves. No one but a dog to see, and she didn't judge them. There was a freedom to being out in the countryside, far from people, that they couldn't find in the city.
And more than that, he didn't want to lose Daniel. His grip got a little tighter, and he hid his face against Daniel's shoulder. He could. Everything might go wrong. There was no guarantee Daniel, the human, would come out the other side safely. All their little plans, all their stupid fears, and in the end, everything was still left to the goatling. There was nothing he could do to save Daniel this time, and that made it worse than all their other battles.
Bell let go and stepped back, suddenly aware that he'd held on a little too long. "Sorry," he muttered. Hadn't meant to get carried away there. He started walking again, but slowly, thoughtfully, watching the shadows the moonlight cast on the road. There really was nothing he could do. No way to stop the goatling, if it decided to kill Daniel. All he'd be able to do was watch. He shuddered. No. He didn't want that.
List? What list? For once Daniel didn't feel like fighting Bell-boy on the point. He was fed, sated and far too content to give voice to his doubts and fears. A nurse would be vital in their little scheme. Daniel had little hope of making it through everything unscathed or without aid. He'd dreamt the blonde was there too, but that didn't mean a thing.
"Realistically, she can stay out until the goatling is ready," Daniel shrugged about Goldy. No use to put the dog in there with him until the goat was fully extracted. Supposedly, the formula Alphie would put him in would be good to hold people as well as goat. It'd be pointless to have the tube otherwise.
It was nice out. Without the sun beating down on everything with relentless vigour, it'd actually cooled down considerably, bringing the temperature down to something nice. Actually, it was a bit cold, even. Maybe that was just the fever talking. It was stubborn about receding.
It was obvious Goldy had seen this area before. She walked ahead confidently, only checking back with them on occasion, but already keen to guide them to her favourite spots. Goldy was endearing. He almost felt bad for the dog, but consoled himself with the fact that the goatling would make a perfect substitute for the remainder of her life. And beyond, possibly. By then though, the goatling was likely to move on to bigger and better things. Like humans.
Bell's hand was a surprise.
Daniel looked at the man, but didn't pull away. If anything, he tightened their grip and sighed out. "It is nice here. Quiet though, reminds of those first few weeks after- ... you know? It felt quiet then too." It wouldn't be so quiet if the goatling restored him to how he was before the whole ordeal.
He glanced back at Bell-boy and found the man staring at the sky. Stars. Without the light-pollution of the city, they were shining bright and abundant in the clear skies. It was nice, being like this. Just two murderers and their pet-dog taking a quiet stroll. Daniel snorted. They were weird on so many levels it was unreal.
He stepped aside and wrapped his arms around Bell's waist, pulling the man in. "Wish it could stay like this forever. Not the...peaceful, I don't care for that, just. Us. Being us."
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