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Daniel was so far ahead of him. With every step, the gap widened. Bell stumbled, and then his feet caught on the rocks and wouldn't lift another inch. He fell to his knees, then to a sit. He couldn't tell if Daniel was still going, through the simmering heat. Couldn't tell where he was. [i Hope this pays off.] It'd be terribly ironic if the goat decided now was the time to swap to a new shell, if he'd wasted too much of its time chasing Daniel after all.
A vulture hopped up to him and bit his pants. Bell looked down on it. "You're a little too early," he told it jokingly. It came out dry, the words catching in his mouth. [i Not by much,] he added silently. He shooed it away. It hopped back toward him, not dissuaded. "Goatling?" he asked.
Everything spun. He felt himself change. His body twisted unpleasantly. He gasped for air and grabbed at his throat, but his hands wouldn't move right.
A second vulture joined the first. It hopped over and cawed at the first vulture, then gave it a suspicious look-over. Finally, it cawed again and took to the air. There was no point to hanging out deep in the desert. It was time they moved on to better things.
The sky stretched out before him. He felt a faint elation at being in the air, only barely aware of being a human, of being a bird. He stretched his wings and felt the sun play over dark feathers while he scanned the earth for his next meal.
Out of the desert. A part of him recognized this area as familiar, a part that the rest of him didn't pay much attention to what went down below that wasn't food. He settled down in the air. It was easy to glide, easy to hang in the air. He was born to fly.
Days passed. He flew and ate, flew and ate. There was nothing more than that, a simple life that didn't require thought. A familiar complex stretched out below him. The vulture settled on a branch to watch, waiting for some sign. It turned to its friend and waited, curious what would happen. Was it time yet? Was he ready for them to fetch him?
Bell-boy hadn't even asked for him. Well shit. Ass-hole was right. Daniel kept walking, angry where he probably had no right to be, because he wasn't even the original now, was he? What was it to him? He was just a washed out part of the goatling, pretending to be something he was not. Either way he was far removed from the real Daniel and Lenny. Bell-goat wouldn't do anything about him. If it had wanted to do so, it would've done so ages ago. Besides, this part of the goatling was expendable.
Heat emanated from the ground and struck down at them from above. Daniel kept walking. One stupid foot in front of the other. The crunch of small rocks and sand became an almost soothing rhythm. A death march, almost. Daniel heard himself breathe, felt sweat tickle through his scalp and dry. He felt his skin crack from the sun, felt it scorch and burn. There was no escaping the heat. Not until the sun went down.
And then the rhythm changed.
Bell-boy was falling behind.
Daniel looked back and faltered, then landed on his knees just to prevent a face-plant. He was done. There was no point in walking further, was there? He closed his eyes and tipped his head to the sky. It'd be merciful if Bell-boy had just killed him already. Daniel was just thinking how he'd lay a hand to himself, when finally the goatling unfolded from his skin and bones. Black churned just underneath his flesh, shaped him, remodelled him. If he'd have lungs and vocal chords, Daniel figured he might shout. Feathers sprouted from leathery skin, a beak where once a face was.
As it was, Daniel was helpless to stop the transformation and soon he knew nothing.
It hopped towards Bell and pecked at his pants. A single caw and it scurried to a safe distance, only to survey and try again. This time, with more vigour, with more intent. The air was dense with a thought; change. It did not direct this directive to Bellwether however, but deeper. As if awakening something primal inside the shell to stir and take action. Like a child crying out to its parent.
"No! I abandoned him, like an idiot. Is that what you want to hear? I'm stupid, Daniel, okay? I made a mistake. I accept that."
Bell poked his head out of the dumpster. "I didn't ask for you. The goatling asked if I wanted help, and I said yes, and there you were." He shrugged and sighed out. "I mean, it's not like it was this big surprise, I don't want to give you that impression either--who else is the goatling going to turn into? But I didn't ask for you."
Just kill him. Bell looked at Daniel, but couldn't meet his eyes. He couldn't. Even knowing this wasn't the real Daniel, he couldn't raise his hand against him. Daniel was to be protected. Daniel was only human, delicate, mortal. This one wasn't, but, but! He couldn't. What if it was? What if he made a mistake, misunderstood, and Daniel ended up bleeding out in his arms?
"Yeah, cuz it's always so happy to be out. Aren't you worried it might do something to you? Or... the goatling?" This was a new situation for the goat. Given, it had always seemed to have a tenuous relationship with Daniel, but what said it wasn't more tenuous with the goatling's Daniel? He didn't like those odds.
Bell bowed his head, annoyed and upset with himself. Why did Daniel have to keep rubbing salt in that wound? "I know. I know. I'm a stupid, awful, terrible person, I get it." Daniel turned and walked away. Bell pushed away from the dumpster and followed. Just heading out into the desert? He sighed. It'd probably work. It was as good a bet as anything he had, anyways. Worst case, they became dogs. Everything worked out, no matter what.
Unless they ran into Becky, but what was the chance of that?
Out into the simmering heat. The heat shivered all around them. His body ached, protesting the dead heat and the sun beating down. He could feel his skin crisping up the longer he walked, until his body ached just from being out in the sun for so long. Bell watched Daniel walk, sagging back a bit himself. [i Where are we even going?] He didn't know where the real Daniel was.
"Do you even know where the real deal is?" Daniel posed, crossing his arms. He cocked his head at Bell-boy and leaned against the wall, watching the man approach a dumpster. It was hot out, the thing reeked. Not true, huh? Now that he remembered. Little shit. Went to show how loyal Bell-boy was to him. To the other. The original. Daniel sighed and scrubbed the back of his head. That's why he was there, wasn't he? Because the other Daniel was sick in his head so much, Bell-boy couldn't and wouldn't cope with it. It made him angry all over again, but it was already too hot to give heed to the adrenalin rush.
Control-? Oh. Being a dog.
Daniel raised his eyebrows.
"Well... I don't either," he shrugged and gave Bell-boy a face. "Talk to the goatling about that one," he huffed sourly. "Seems to do what you wanted getting me out." Daniel gave Bell-boy a look to see whether he was on point with that assumption, but it looked to be. Of all things. Daniel sighed out and pushed off, away from the wall and the smelly dumpster.
"I know one way," Daniel shrugged.
"Just kill me," he offered. A knife across the throat, or maybe a bash over the head. Goatling would be out in no time, doing whatever Bell-boy pleased, wouldn't it now? Or had he asked for any old human? In that case, he could appreciate the goatling's poetry.
"Or, you know, I could get Bell-goat out," Daniel put out there. Surely the goats would come to a solution, whatever that might be. He put his hands behind his head and kicked at some imaginary dust. Back into the desert. He didn't remember going.
Didn't remember shit.
A poor construct was all he was.
Worst thing was the silence. He didn't have the connection to the goatling no more because he was the goatling. Made him wonder where the rest of it was. Not dead, he knew that much. So Daniel and or Lenny had to still be out there. It was weird. He didn't like it. Daniel pulled a face and sighed out.
"You're an ass-hole, you know that? I know your memories aren't all there, but didn't I give up more than enough to warrant a little patience?" Daniel sneered. "Fuck it," he decided and left the dumpster in exchange for the desert. Most likely, they'd turned into fucking animals in exactly the same way as this: dying out in the heat.
Bell furrowed his brows. "Not really? Not any more than Spot dies when he's a dog. Or I die when the goat comes out. I mean, we're all living at the whim of the goats now, so I wouldn't stress it."
He shook his head. Daniel was getting it all wrong. "No, I--Daniel, I miss you a lot, okay? I didn't, I thought...I thought all you--he needed was a little stability to be okay. But that's not true. I know that's not true, now. I remember. So--" he sighed. This was an argument to have with the real Daniel, not his shadow. What did it matter, anyways? What did it matter if this one hated him?
The real one probably hated him now, too, so what did it change? There was every chance he'd show up and punched in the face. Hell, hadn't Daniel kept trying to break up with him, way back when? Here was the excuse of a lifetime to kick him to the curb. But he had to go. Had to give it a shot. Had to at least make sure the man was doing okay. If he wanted Bell to vanish forever afterwards, well, they'd cross that bridge when they came to it.
Apparently Daniel wasn't that worried about being a dog. "Uh, thanks for the advice," he said, not really sure what to make of it. Was Daniel sulking? It felt like Daniel was sulking. It was his favorite pastime, after all.
He looked at Daniel. "So, uh...I can't, I don't control any of that," he waved his hand at the general concept of turning into a dog. "The goatling always--or I guess the goat could, but..." He shrugged. It never made the first move. Probably too lazy to. "So it's, uh, it's up to you. Or, well, the goatling."
He shrugged again. Goat stuff. He didn't understand it.
Not one to sit around and wait, he wandered towards the nearest dumpster. It smelled rank, but that was a good sign there was food inside it at some point. Dog or not, he'd need to get food somewhere. Bell shoved the lid up and poked his head inside to take a look. The smell was awful. He could barely breathe through it, it was so thick. He pulled his head out, took a breath, and went back to poking. Not much yet, but he was willing to go deeper if he had to.
"It lead you?" he said, puzzled and slightly bemused. Daniel scratched the back of his head. Would that mean he'd die? "Dogs, huh?" He thought about it for a second, taking to the streets. "You know that'd probably mean I'd die," Daniel said, almost confused. How would that work? Would he just cease to be? Whatever crappy few memories he'd built up with Bell-boy were meaningful. Not something the real Daniel was ever going to get and in that regard, he'd become a new person just as much as Bell-boy had.
"Not like you care, right? You left me already," Daniel mused softly. He pushed his hands down his coat pockets and pulled the fabric in a little closer. Maybe it was for the best. All those memories he thought to have weren't his at all. And Bell-boy had abandoned him before he'd come to be. Fucking goatling. Should've stayed with the real Daniel. Should've just stayed an animal. Simple like that.
He looked up at Bell-boy.
"Don't you miss him -me? Did you break up properly? Is there nothing left?" Daniel said, without much emotion. He knew it was hard. People around him had expressed that much before. His mother, his fiancee, co-workers and friends. Family. They'd all had to endure his fragmented persona. Not everyone was cut out for it.
He'd have expected Bell-boy of all people to withstand it. To stand by him at least. Or to wait.
But he'd always been the more patient one of the two.
"Don't go back if you don't mean it, Bell-boy. I'm guessing it hurts," Daniel spat. He'd know. He was Daniel. Not Lenny, for some demented reason. Lenny might be more forgiving. If Bell-boy was lucky, he'd make up with Lenny first, but then this Bell who didn't remember everything didn't love Lenny that much.
It was fucked up.
"Let's cross the desert then," Daniel decided. The easiest way out was simply to stop existing. He was never meant to in the first place.
"You might want to deal with Becky on your own, by the way," he muttered. "The memories she'll give you aren't nice. If you do win."
And Bell-boy stood every chance to win. How many branches had the man consumed now? Plenty to remember all that he had to in order to fight.
"Well, there's food everywhere if you're not too picky. Sometimes I'd beg or steal, but the restaurant dumpsters were always there for me when that didn't work." And sometimes he'd get himself a meal on someone else's buck after tiring them out in bed, but that wasn't an option with psuedo-Daniel breathing down his neck. Even if this Daniel didn't protest it, he wouldn't feel right about it.
He shook his head. He didn't. "Seems reasonable," he said. He'd be a bit sour about someone killing him, too. He generally was, except from what he remembered about Daniel killing him. That was okay, for whatever reason. To be fair, he understood it.
[i Oh. Well, of course she'd be angry.] He nodded.
It was rough going, picking his way down the rubble. Stones shook under his feet. Pebbles bounced away, threatening to tear the whole structure down. He slid down a feet, threw out his arms, and barely caught himself before he fell on his ass. When he finally made it back to solid ground, he let out a sigh of relief.
"Everything you've told me so far feels very reasonable," Bell commented. Though she wanted to kill him, Becky seemed a fairly reasonable person. They just kept doing terrible shit to her. He shrugged to himself. Rough for her.
Back onto the streets. He ran his hair back. "I mean, I guess the other option is that we just let the goatling... lead us back through the desert? If you don't want to try the garbage [i du jour.] I mean, we probably still will, but like... dogs don't mind as much." He shrugged and glanced at Daniel.
They had to get out of this town somehow. They didn't have a car, and dogs, or coyotes, or whatever they'd been, handled the desert better than humans did. Could drink dirty water and hunt for food, too.
Then again, did Daniel even remember that? Did the goatling let this version of Daniel remember? He hadn't even known he was the goatling at first. He'd taken it so well that Bell had almost forgotten, but Daniel didn't have all his memories, either.
"Not quite," Daniel said about the looking like shit part, and gave Bell-boy a wan grin, "but close." Bell-boy didn't quite look rested up, but staying here wasn't going to help solve the matter. They needed food. Fuel to heal. A meal?
"I begged for mine yesterday, stole from the hospital the other," Daniel explained with a shrug. "We can see if they have a homeless shelter or whatever handing out food," he offered, but had to admit he didn't yet have a solid plan. Without money, they'd have to resort to Bell-boy's old tricks.
"How did you usually go about food?"
Theft, Daniel suspected. Either steal money from the person dumb enough to fuck Bell-boy in the ass or from passersby. "There's no need for us to stay in this town," he said and got up, stretched out and tried to get rid of the stiffness in his back.
"Becky will find you, count on that," he warned.
At least Bell-boy agreed. Daniel hovered close, just in case Bell-boy might pass out, but the man gathered himself at long last without any set-backs.
"Yeah... you don't remember her?" Daniel cringed internally. Actually, Bell-boy not remembering might be a good thing, if Becky wasn't already beyond listening. She'd maybe listen and actually talk to a Bell-boy that didn't remember.
"You know, I'm usually not one to speed up your remembering, but... Becky..." Daniel made a face. "She's a bit sour about you killing her," he said finally, not sure whether Bell-boy wanted to know the finer details. He shrugged.
"From what I know, Bell-goat chose you over her to have out as a shell. And she doesn't take very kindly."
He motioned for Bell-boy to follow him down to the first floor. Time to roam the streets and find something to eat. Or cross the desert in whatever fucked up way they'd managed it the first time and find his original.
"I tried talking to her," Daniel muttered as he climbed down the rubble-stairs.
"But me teleporting her and abandoning her in the desert made her a little less happy with me than she already was." Not that Becky had ever been particularly happy to have him around, at the very least they had an understanding. He provided her with some of the finer things in life, she let Bell-boy back out eventually. It was easy like that. Now that there were both of them, Daniel didn't see the need for them to cram back into one body. Bell-boy could do without her in his nightmares. And Becky could do with some freedom.
Bell shifted and blinked. What? Why was he being pestered? He was comfy where he was, in someone's lap. Daniel's.
No. Not Daniel's. He groaned and started to move, aware he shouldn't even be this close to the fake in the first place but unable to find the motivation to fix it. Food. Yes, food. He nodded at that. He could get behind that.
Sitting up was another question. He resisted a second longer, then slowly pushed up to a sit. Daniel was right. Had to get up and get moving. He gave Daniel an eye roll. "How do I look? Like shit?"
He felt like it. His legs still hurt, and he didn't feel an ounce more energetic than he had in the hospital. If he could, he'd go right back to sleep, but now that he was awake, all the other sensations came rushing back: hunger, thirst, the heat of the sun burning against his skin.
"How're we gonna get food, anyways?" he asked. They didn't have any money. He could try another five-finger discount, but stores tended to get wise to those, quick. And it wasn't like this little town had a lot of stores for him to hit up. Besides, his five fingers didn't feel quite up to the task right now.
A shout caught his attention. Bell spun, but it was only a kid, somewhere too close to the abandoned construction site for safety. Not that he cared about the kid's safety, but he and Daniel might get spotted. He pulled away from Daniel slightly, then leaned forward. [i Time to get moving.] He managed to come up on his toes, kept leaning forward, and found the will to stand seconds before he fell forward. He wobbled a bit at the peak as his vision darkened and his head went light, but it came back after a few seconds. Bell shook his head. [i Guess it's back to starving for a living.]
"We should get out of town. I need to find Daniel, and we need to avoid that crazy girl, whoever she was." Sure, he had to face all the branches eventually, but if he faced her today, he'd only end up dead. Bell felt like a limp blanket. He had no illusions about his ability to fight right now.
Daniel allowed himself to close his eyes for a second. Seconds became minutes became hours. His nose dipped forward, chin on his chest. Sleep was absolute, an exhaustion-fuelled darkness enveloping his thoughts and worries like a blanket. Voices roused him from a deep sleep. Daniel blinked owlishly at the concrete. Bright sun-beams lit the second floor. Kids' voices. Oh. Was it that late?
He sat up straight and winced, trying to work out the kink in his neck. His hand still rested on Bell-boy's shoulder, the other on the man's head. Safe. He'd successfully protected Bell-boy from the branches. So why was he still here? He started to understand how Spot felt all the time. Part of him wanted to replace Daniel, to be the pillar supporting Bell-boy. To be in a loving relationship with the man. Another part, a darker part, was the goatling. And it had no business meddling with their relationship, even if Bell-boy had asked for it.
Daniel enjoyed the tranquillity of Bell-boy's presence a little while longer. The kids were playing down below. Something involving skateboards and cans or whatever. He sighed out. Food. He'd need to go out and find them some. Daniel wasn't sure whether he could leave Bell-boy out here on his own. Then again, he'd have to deal with Becky one day. At least now she had a physical manifestation. He still wasn't sure whether he ought to get in between that. Obviously it'd be more cathartic for Bell-boy to deal with that shit head-on, rather than have him solve it.
One thing at a time. Becky was still out there, somewhere, and hopefully she'd take her sweet-ass time finding them.
"Bell-boy?" Daniel tried. He ruffled Bell-boy's hair. "Up 'n at em," he coaxed Bell-boy back into the land of the living. "We need to find some food, I'm starving," Daniel started. He was also still a bit dazed, but being a goat, Daniel figured food would solve that quicker than rest. There were certainly perks to being more goat than man again.
He shifted underneath Bell, pushing the man to sit up on his own.
"C'mon, let me see how you're doing," Daniel tempted Bell-boy into sitting up. Hopefully Bell-goat had managed to repair some of the damage done. Worst case, they'd get a meal at the local shelter or whatever. Beg, maybe. He was good at begging.
Daniel vanished somewhere between him getting up and making it out the door. Rather than look for him, Bell pressed on. [i He'll catch up.] It wasn't like he was moving particularly fast.
An arm around his shoulders, Daniel's body pressed up against his. [i It's not the real one.] But it felt good to have support. Help. He relaxed a bit and let Daniel help him.
They took the long way there. More than once, Bell started to protest, then shut himself up and kept hobbling. [i I want to rest. I'm tired. I'm thirsty. I'm hungry.] No time. No time for any of that. He pushed on, through another diversion down an alley that felt completely unnecessary, out into the blazing sun and back into the shade. Over and over again, the world looping in on itself until Bell wasn't sure he could find his way back if he tried.
When Daniel finally mentioned they were almost there, Bell felt like shouting in relief. Thank goodness. He couldn't take much more.
A metal grate creaked open. He blinked. When had they gotten this close? A hulking half-finished ruin stood before them. Daniel climbed a hill of rubble up onto the higher floors. Bell did his best to help, but it felt like he was being dragged more than helping to walk there. Every step was so heavy, so high. He drooped against Daniel, struggled to hold himself up, drooped again. [i So tired.]
There was a wall against his back. He slid down it, then ceded to Daniel's grip when the man repositioned him. Warm. Soft. Bell nuzzled against Daniel to get more comfortable, then settled in. He barely heard what Daniel said. Rest. That was what mattered. He closed his eyes.
Darkness awaited. Sleep came swift. He sank into darkness, utterly comfortable, without a worry in the world. There would be things to do, soon. But not yet. Not yet.
Memories played in his sleep, ones that felt new and ones that were old. Fights. Hunters. White vans and close pursuit. A forest. A facility. Blood, so much blood. A tube. Daniel, face discolored with amber fluid, trapped inside glass. Bell shifted in his sleep.
"Tired," Daniel said, more honest than he should've been. Bell-boy relied on him to get them to safety. Couldn't show any weakness. Tired was only half of it. It'd been cold out and he'd been out on the streets for a while. Actually, compared to that, the hospital had been pretty damned good. Going back out there wasn't on his list of things to do. Construction site? Oh. Yeah.
"Sure," Daniel said with a nod. It was as good a place as any. Maybe he could talk some of the kids there into getting them some food. Kids tended to want to do the right things more often than not. Usually.
A ping signalled the end of their peace. Daniel wheeled Bell-boy towards the exit. He looked around, vigilant, when Bell-boy did rise to a stand, but apparently it was a fairly common occurance to see patients leave the hospital. Daniel even made the extra effort of putting the wheelchair back where it belonged, before helping Bell-boy walk out. He put his shoulder underneath the man's arm the second they were out and started the long trek back towards the building-site. It'd become light now.
Dawn had turned well into day. Out on the streets they didn't stick out too much. Daniel chose small alley-ways, dark streets, kept to the shadows. He didn't push his luck though. Taking a route that was too elaborate was only going to push them needlessly. Soon enough the building-site loomed up.
"Almost there," Daniel encouraged Bell-boy.
The fence he'd gone through earlier was only closed for decorum. This early, no kids were around yet either. Daniel pushed it open and guided Bell-boy deeper into the abandoned building site. Concrete levels had only been raised up until the second floor and a mound of dirt and rubble gave access to the upper floors. Daniel guided them there, because he'd learned that the upper floor offered better shelter from the weather.
"Home sweet home," he announced once they'd finally arrived and gently put Bell-boy down against a wall. There wasn't much in terms of items. He didn't even have a blanket. Frankly, he couldn't tell whether Bell-boy was too warm or not either. It all felt the same to him. Daniel sank down next to Bell-boy and pulled the man onto his lap.
"I need a short break. I'll find us something to eat after, okay?"
Startled, Bell glanced at Daniel at his sudden angry outburst. "I didn't..." [i Oh.] This was Daniel's ploy. He put on a suitably downcast face and let himself be helped into the wheelchair.
There was a flash of black, and suddenly the nurse was out. Bell's eyes flashed to Daniel, worried. [i Is that okay?] What if the hunters... oh! The hunters! Right, but they'd defeated them. He shook his head at himself and rubbed his forehead. [i Don't forget shit like that.] He wasn't that stupid.
Daniel wheeled him away. The hospital passed him by. Bell leaned back, too tired to hold himself up. He felt warm all over, too warm. His forehead felt warm to his touch, but he wasn't sure if he had a fever or not. [i Wonder if I did too much, too fast.] Fighting a bunch of goats, absorbing them, getting hurt, healing, fighting again, absorbing again... he wouldn't be surprised if he'd been overwhelmed.
[i And where's that leave Daniel?] Daniel hadn't even taken a rest break. He hadn't had the luxury of modern medicine, either. Bell glanced up at Daniel as they waited on the elevator. He looked haggard. His eyes were hollowed, his face was pale. "I'm alright. You?"
They needed to find somewhere to hunker down. "The, uh, the construction site you found," Bell said. "Why don't we rest up there?" He could use some more time to get back to a hundred percent. Daniel could, too. If anything, Daniel could use it more than he could, though he doubted the man would admit it. [i Just because he's a goat doesn't mean he doesn't need to take care of himself.] Though... Bell snorted, too tired to even smile ironically. [i It does fit Daniel pretty well.] All Daniel ever wanted to do was keep moving, run himself down, ruin himself. Why would a goat-version be any different?
He shifted in the chair in preparation to get up. They reached the ground floor, and Daniel wheeled him out of the elevator. Bell glanced around for crutches, anything like that, but there was nothing conveniently sitting out for him to grab. [i Guess I'll just have to hobble.]
There wasn't really a fight. The goat was given no real opportunity to materialize and whatever the goatling had done previous had severely weakened both man and goat. Daniel was breathing hard, heaving in air that didn't quite make it to where it needed to be. His head was spinning, dots dancing across his vision. He felt immense relief when the black went for Bell-boy and was absorbed by the man's skin. Daniel clung to a visitor's chair, then sank down on it, drained. Okay. Only Becky was left now.
And she'd need time to get here and figure out where they were. Without her henchmen, Becky knew her odds weren't favourable. Hopefully it'd buy them enough time to rest up. They had to go.
Daniel nodded. Yeah, they did. He knew they did.
With some willpower, Daniel pushed himself from the chair, and supported Bell-boy back to the wheelchair. A nurse.
Daniel flicked his eyes between her and Bell-boy.
"Fuck, why do you always insist on being this stubborn," he said with more vehemence and energy than he felt. "I told you just to wait for me to come pick you up and where do you go instead?" Daniel sneered.
He looked up at the nurse, pretending to notice her then for the first time and lowered Bell-boy in his wheelchair.
"Who?" he said, as if distracted from the fake argument he was having with Bell-boy. "There was no-one there when I got here, except for him," Daniel said plainly.
"I thought it was unoccupied," he added. "Will you just sit and stay? For one second?" And then Daniel reached out for the nurse. Black flashed across his arm and the nurse fell. Daniel caught her and put her on the bed instead of 'Baker'.
He had to support himself on the bed as a wave of heat coursed through his body. Okay. Stupid. That was a stupid idea.
Daniel took a few deep breaths and then shoved off. They didn't have much time. More nurses would come. He grabbed the wheelchair by the handles and moved them towards the elevator. Time to get the fuck out of this hospital. He still hadn't quite caught his breath in the elevator, but he tried to calm down to appear relatively normal.
"You alright, Bell-boy?" And then where to next?
He had no money. Nothing lined up. And he was tired as fuck.
It was almost sad, he died so easily. Bell watched from the sidelines. The man contorted, twisted on the bed, and then Daniel stepped in. He raised the pipe. Wouldn't be long now.
Black rushed to the surface. He brought the pipe down even as Daniel called it out. He felt weaker than usual, but the black still splashed down from the man's head. Again and again. It floundered under his and Daniel's blows, unable to get a good hold on the world to fight back.
An arm grabbed his. Bell smashed it down. Bone broke, and the arm bent with black material and caught itself. He smacked at it again, annoyed. It broke free and began to fall apart, but still clung tight to his arm.
He hit it again. The goatling grabbed onto his pipe. Bell tried to yank free, but couldn't find the strength. He pulled again, again--it finally popped out of the goat's flesh. He staggered back, then rushed up and hit it again.
The goat fell back then, sagged into itself and sunk down on the bed. Bell chased it, but it was already falling apart. Black lunged at him, and he let it come this time, used to it by now. It latched onto his skin and slithered underneath, like worms wiggling into the earth. Bell shuddered. It felt gross every time.
And then it was over, and they were alone in a room with silent machines.
Bell looked at Daniel. "We gotta go." The nurses and doctors would be here any second now. He grabbed Daniel's shoulder and started the slow process of hobbling back to the wheelchair. They weren't going to make it anywhere fast like this.
A nurse poked her head into the room. Bell made eye contact, and both of them froze. [i Oh shit.]
"You're not supposed to be here--where's Baker?" She rushed to the bed, then frowned at them. "Did you see? What happened?"
Bell looked back at Daniel. Hopefully the goatling could still sweet talk like Daniel could. He had no idea what to say in situations like this. He wobbled towards the door, slow as molasses but determined to escape. If he had to, he'd--probably not be able to beat up the nurse. But he'd run. Slowly.
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