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Beeping. Landon didn't even recognize what he heard, until it started to grind on his nerves. Annoyed, he tried to shy away from it, only to realize he couldn't readily move. After what felt like ages, but was more likely minutes, he managed to crack open his eyes. His throat felt dry and rough, fingertips numb. The over-cast light was dimmed, though still bright to his eyes.
Soft voices filtered through to off-set the now loud beeping.
Landon took an experimental deep breath and was rewarded with a deep ache. He couldn't even pinpoint where it was. Pain washed in and waxed out like the tide at the rhythm of his breathing.
The last thing he recalled was driving. Standing on the road, facing oncoming traffic. An accident then? He'd survived, somehow? Landon groaned and shifted, trying to get more comfortable. Several wires tugged at his arm and noosed around his wrist.
Cat? Was she-...? And Sam?
Landon swallowed carefully, then tried to guide his eyes to map out the room. Machines -oh, the beeping. That's where it came from. Made sense. He found his fingers resting near a remote. Small buttons lined the machine, none wider than the tip of his finger. The small symbols were hazy, so Landon left it for now. He wasn't ready to communicate yet, had barely gathered himself. His eyes were heavy and Landon didn't know how long he'd been asleep. It felt like he could sleep more.
His other arm was trapped in a sling, though the arm itself was clear of any casts. Another break then? Higher up? That made sense, strangely enough.
It hadn't healed yet. No Bellwether-goat to save the day then? It wasn't like Bell to chose a hospital. Usually they couldn't risk it because of the hunters on their tail. And they most likely still were. Landon shifted, numbly pulled the remote up closer and squinted at the buttons. He was pretty sure he could have this bed shift so he could sit up.
None of the buttons made sense and their little symbols danced in his field of vision without ever settling. Did he hit his head?
It wouldn't surprise him.
Landon ended up just trying a few buttons to see what they would do. He found what he needed readily enough. Sitting up however didn't improve things much, though it widened his field of vision, expanding it to the whole room. So how long had he been knocked out for anyway?
Fucking--no! Daniel went limp. Bell jumped for him, pulling on all the goat's strength to push himself up off the ground, remembering the very first night when he'd woken from the egg the first time, and how that felt.
Nothing. There was no strength to pull from. The goat didn't respond. Daniel fell limply towards him. Bell landed and caught him. The weight of him landing hit his arms like a thousand pounds. His arms buckled at the elbow, his legs bent, his back craned over. He fell forward. Daniel hit first, force mitigated by Bell's efforts but not negated. Then Bell, crumpling on top of Daniel, arms sore and jostled.
Fuck. Fuck this. This was garbage. He couldn't deal with this. His hands were shaking as he checked Daniel over for injuries, his face burning. Vision blurred, and then fat drops spilled from his eyes, landing heavy on Daniel's shirt. He couldn't do this. He'd been stupid for thinking it was possible at all. His heart raced with adrenaline still, the fear that Daniel had died coursing through him. Breath. Chest. Pulse. Something, he needed something.
There was anger, too. Anger at himself for being this stupid, for thinking he could control Daniel. For thinking it'd all be okay, as long as they were together. His chest panged, the first sign of another attack ripping through him, chills sinking into his bones. He had to do something. Next time, Daniel would succeed. He knew it for sure. If he hadn't succeeded this time--
"Fuck!" Bell snapped. The goat? A hospital? What did he do, what did he do? He couldn't tell how badly Daniel was injured. His hands were shaking, his vision was one big blur. What was he supposed to do about this? What could he do? Anything?
Hospital. He didn't know if the goat would heal Daniel. Not from another suicide attempt. It was done with him, wasn't it? Now that the goatling existed, why keep Daniel around? And he couldn't weaken himself, or reveal his location to the hunters, and Daniel was already a handful without being high on blood. He picked up Daniel as carefully as he could and jogged out to the car. He loaded the man into the back seat and jumped into the driver's seat. Hospital. He wiped his face and gritted his teeth. Hospital it was.
And then it was there. A black void, only visible by the light it swallowed, smeared across the lowest floor. Flecks of light, pinpricks on that canvas of darkness, shimmered at him. The only reflection he saw was those in the goat's eyes. Bell-goat. Perhaps that darkness could replace the water. That Darkness could offset his light and be the perfect embodiment of everything he could ever forget. To be part of that, to be consumed by that and live, as a shell, inside of it, that. That was true immortality.
Daniel's fears and trepidation eased then.
It wouldn't hurt.
Nothing could hurt him no more.
Wind swept about his face, a cool breeze, with a hint of promise for spring. Daniel's fingers slipped from the rod they'd been holding, his muscles relaxed. He fell.
For ages, for years, he fell.
At one point he was back in the tube, watching the researchers take readings and get out ever more nefarious and damaging instruments to poke at him with. For a few moments he was on the beach, splashing water at a mischievous Bellwether. Spot was there, as Bell and as a dog.
Sam, Alice. Lily, his mother.
Even fucking Richard.
He opened his eyes to catch a glimpse of darkness rushing up to him and then nothing.
Lenny was there.
Daniel blinked up to see the man staring down at him.
"Well, shit. Long time no see," he said with a chuckle.
Landon smiled, then shook his head. "I haven't missed you one bit," he confessed. Daniel chuckled, then laughed, until Lenny's expression turned concerned. Split. For however long it'd be. Had he died?
Landon's concern faded.
He didn't sit up immediately. Daniel slowly rose and glanced at where they were. A beach. Behind them was jungle, thick as a wall. The ocean was gently lapping at the shore, but other than that, there was nothing. He was tired.
"Maybe you should rest?" Landon tried and got up.
Daniel watched as Lenny faced the ocean and snorted. "Don't need to rest," he said cheerfully. "I'm just fine." He was, actually. It was a stunning realization. He remembered everything. There were no gaps. There was no white. Like this, those shortcomings were Lenny's. It felt good. He grinned. This felt right.
Dark. The building was so dark. Daniel could be anywhere in there. The rooms. The second story. Hell, maybe he'd gone pee, and he was back in the tent. He scanned it over hard, feeling the seconds slip away from him. If Daniel was running down the road, he was losing time. Precious time. He remembered a plunge into cold waters, a bathtub full of deep red. Not again.
Motion. Up. Through a window. Bell froze, trying to make sense of it. In the dark, it was hard to tell. A curtain? Some kind of... rotting structure? No. It couldn't be. How-- how would he even--
He bolted back inside, drawing on the goat's speed. Even as his toes dug into the dirt, he knew he'd be regretting it. Not as much as he'd regret losing Daniel. The thought pushed him through, past the subconscious resistance to using the goat's powers and out the other side, the world turning to streaks around him as he bolted for the building.
The doors slammed open on either side of him. Rocks fell, clattering against the concrete. Not rocks. Bits of broken concrete. He looked up, eyes tracking for that movement he'd seen earlier. Daniel. No. No, no, no. There was no time. Bell ran for him, moving under him. "Don't!" he shouted, ready to catch Daniel if he jumped. Would it do anything? He wasn't that high. Just a couple stories up. Maybe, maybe he could stop him from falling. He didn't know.
"Stand still," he demanded. Sometimes it helped, ordering Daniel around. Sometimes he responded better to that than he'd respond to pleas. Sometimes it was pleas that did it. He didn't know. He didn't know anything. Just that he couldn't stand to lose Daniel. He'd bring the goat out. He didn't care. Anything Even if it meant losing everything else. "Daniel, please. We're going to get the goatling. It'll all turn out okay. Please, don't jump?"
He could already feel the sweat crawling up his spine, the chills crawling down it. Not good. He swallowed it down, forcing it to wait. It'd all be okay. As long as he got Daniel down, it'd all be okay.
It was cold without his jacket. Late-night chills, close to frost, nipped at his skin and kept him aware of where and who he was. That darkness, that cold, it felt reassuring. For the first time in forever, Daniel appreciated and understood why Lenny had taken to the water. Everything would be there; a mesh of black containing everything, rather than the black white sheet that felt so lonely.
He stuck his hands down his pockets and looked down at the tent. Bell came out, searched around frantically and Daniel could hear his name echo against the bare walls down below. Bell-boy was searching for him, but he shouldn't be.
Even though Bell had gotten hurt, Daniel knew it wouldn't have mattered if he'd have been there. If anything, the frailty of his presence would only give rise to more of such occurrences where the goat would need to act as a brittle shield to his humanity.
That didn't mean it was easy.
Daniel looked down. It'd be a good height. If he fell awkwardly enough, it'd only be a few seconds of pain. The pain from falling to his death probably couldn't match up to what he'd experienced over the last few months in that tube. His hands shook. Daniel took another deep breath and watched the air fall apart in vapours around his face.
Bell-boy turned about and now faced the building. Part of him wished he could just die. Just die and have the goat eat him. Maybe it could do the kind thing of erasing his memory, so that Bell-boy wouldn't have to suffer the loss. His hand tightened around the metal bolt sticking out the wall. The floor was decaying here.
Water caused the concrete to wear away and break. Even now, Daniel could feel small chunks lose the battle to cling to the whole. His mind felt like that.
In the process of breaking.
It'd always been Lenny.
Lenny had always been the one who'd turn out depressed and he was always the one that didn't feel. So what was different this time? Did it take time to fall apart all over again? Did he need to fall apart?
Daniel closed his eyes and felt himself give. The wind gently rocked him further and closer to the edge. It could be over so fast. Just a split-second. Bell-goat couldn't come out to safe him; it was too injured. It was a perfect opportunity. Just. Perfect.
Cold. He felt cold. Bell shivered and pulled up the sheets. They were too short, and when he pulled them up, his feet got cold. Bel frowned and shifted, face twitching. What... what? Something was wrong. Something was... he shouldn't be... there was something... missing. Missing. A hand reached out and patted the bed. Warmth, but no body. Someone...?
Bell jolted awake. His hand ruffled the bed for what he already knew was true; no Daniel. Shit. He sat up, kicking his feet off the bed. Something fell to the floor. The jacket he'd bought that day. Daniel's jacket.
He grabbed it instinctively and glanced around the room. His boots, where were his boots? There. He shoved his feet into them and threw Daniel's jacket over his shoulders, wearing two coats for now until he could find Daniel. "Daniel," he called, then remembered; sometimes Daniel ran away when he called for him, when the man was delusional.
Where would he have gone? Bell checked his pockets for the car keys. Still there. The building? He looked at the door Daniel had run into earlier. He hadn't had any time to blockade it. Could be in there. Or... he turned towards the factory's doors. Could be outside. He'd hear the alarm--or no, shit, he hadn't set the alarm! Bell paused one more second, then ran outside. Daniel would be in more danger if he was out there rather than in here.
It was cold outside, the first signs of fall crisp in the night air. He looked around. searching for Daniel. It was hard to tell which way he could've gone. The car was sitting out there. He ran over to it, looking for Daniel by the car.
"Daniel!" he tried again. It might drive Daniel into a frenzy of fear, but maybe he'd make some mistake and make noise, give Bell a hint as to where he was. He ran down the road, peering into the woods for any sign of Daniel. Somewhere, anywhere.
Wait. Daniel had sprinted inside after Alice last night. Bell froze, halfway down the road. Then wasn't he more likely to be inside? He looked back at the warehouse, hesitating. If he was wrong... there was still plenty Daniel could do to hurt himself inside.
Sorry? Daniel blinked. Bell was obviously hurt, sick, and here he was being comforted. It didn't feel right, but Daniel didn't have the will to fight it. Being held like this made sense. It was one of the first few things that made sense. It'd be okay. Daniel liked to believe that. For now, he needed to. He didn't have anything else to believe, after all. Sleep? Yeah, he did feel tired. For all the time he'd spent in a semi-state of wakefulness, he hadn't done much actual sleeping yet.
Daniel kicked off his shoes and sighed in relief. Much better.
Why did this feel so familiar? Why didn't he just take this opportunity to go? Nothing made sense. Daniel held on to Bell and let himself be held. At least this much was familiar, a memory stored by his body.
He knew this other body, knew the way the muscles moved, the spots, the scents, the hair, skin, warmth. Actually, he was probably helping Bell warm up, if anything. Bell-goat seemed to be hurt pretty badly for it to be like this.
Daniel yawned. He couldn't fight it. He hadn't slept in what felt like forever. Not a natural sleep anyway. Only weird, drug-induced oblivion.
Alice was there and he chased her up a set of dilapidated stairs. When he finally reached the top, he stopped in his tracks. On a table, with a knife hovering above her was Pan. Daniel started, tried to shout, but he had no voice. The knife descended. And then it was Bell. Blood flowed from the table onto the floor. Black unfolded from that red river. It swallowed Pan, the room and left him alone, scratching mad symbols on the floor.
Daniel shot awake. Grey.
A grey ceiling. He didn't recognize it and he wasn't alone. Someone was resting beside him, intimately intertwined with his body. Daniel shifted. Oh. White. It seemed grey because it was dark outside. Bell. Daniel remembered shreds of what'd happened. He recalled the vividness of Bell-boy's pain. Didn't seem hurt now though.
At least he remembered something now. Not that he needed a reminder of what state his feet were in. He'd been stupid. Things felt strangely clear now though. Bell-boy would need food. Rest.
Daniel got up slowly, trying to push back feeling double his age. He looked back at Bell and draped his coat over the sleeping man before taking his boots and stepping out. A wide-open night sky greeted him, stars shimmering on a rich blue canvas. It felt serene and dangerous at the same time. Like he was hovering close to some edge.
Daniel glanced down at his hand, at the marks around his wrist. He shouldn't be going anywhere unsupervised right now. It'd be overzealous to think he could hold onto this clarity for longer than a few hours.
Daniel grabbed his arm back. Something blossomed inside of Bell at the other man's firm grip, hope, relief, love, something nameless that encompassed all three. He was staying. He'd decided to stay. Good. Good. No one would get hurt today. Daniel would be safe, today. He wouldn't have to worry. Wouldn't have to bind up a second set of wounds.
Pain wracked through him again. His body tensed, fingers tightening on Daniel's arm. It passed, from white hot to red hot to a deep, dull ache. He braced for the next one, but caught sight of Daniel, leaning over him, so close he could almost feel the man's breath. "Thanks," he mumbled. For staying.
Slowly, the pain subsided. The waves grew weaker, from nauseatingly powerful to just painful. The chills stayed, running up and down his spine, leaving him cold to the bone. His chest ached, but it would fade. It would all fade in time. It would be okay. He just... needed to breathe. Let it pass. Soon enough, it would just be a memory.
Daniel was speaking. His eyes tracked the man's lips, ears heard his voice, but none of it registered. His brain churned, and suddenly he understood. Alice. He was mourning Alice. He reached out and pulled Daniel in close, holding the man's head to his aching chest. "I'm sorry, Daniel," he said. He understood, now. The loss, the frustration of having a loved one out of reach, even if it was only temporary. If it had been permanent-- he didn't even want to think about it.
And Alice... She was gone. She'd been gone for a long time, if she'd ever been in the first place. The hybrid was just an echo of what might have been. "She's gone. But it's okay. It'll be okay."
He sat up a little, took Daniel into his lap. "Let's go to sleep," he suggested. Tomorrow was the big day. Tomorrow he got the goatling back, and everything would be better. Or at least more tolerable. Less frightening. "Let's go to sleep and forget all of this, okay? And in the morning, everything will be better." Bell stroked Daniel's hair back and held onto him, worried he might run away if he let go.
A head-shake. No. But yes. Stay. Daniel breathed heavily, from pain, he realized belatedly. Stuffing bandages feet into tight boots wasn’t a good idea, he concluded. Please. Bell. It was Bell. Bell-boy’s pleas were pathetic and laced with desperation, mixed with pain. Daniel decided he never wanted to see the man like this and was also keenly aware this was partly his fault. Yes and no. He couldn’t help that his insanity lead to him making bad decisions about his health. He couldn’t help that he’d said yes to the goatling.
Sorrow overruled the confusion, even if only for a second.
“I’m sorry,” Daniel whispered under his breath. He grabbed Bell’s arm back, offering the man an unstable anchor to hold on to as the pain subsided. The goat was hurt. It was a profound fact Daniel knew to be true.
He sank down to sit next to Bell and waited.
Some memories surfaced. Alice still being out there niggled at the back of his head, but then, how could she be real? How could she be there? Even if she was, as hybrid-Alice, she wouldn’t need his help and Bell-boy did.
Daniel knew all of these things and still couldn’t help the impatience, the unease that made his legs tremble with nervous energy. If he didn’t follow Alice, something bad was going to happen. It felt like that.
And he stayed.
Because Bell had asked and Daniel knew he had debts bigger than he could ever repay the man. It wouldn’t last though. Daniel knew that. He reached out and brushed some of Bell’s hair back, wiped at the clammy sweat-drops with the sleeve of his institute-issued shirt.
He was transfixed on Bell-boy’s micro-expressions, so much so he almost forgot about the urgency with which he’d been meaning to chase after Alice. So much so he nearly lost himself all over again, with barely a moment of clarity to his name. Shit. He lost time way too quickly. Every time he didn’t have enough energy to focus, he lost time to whatever sink-hole they’d installed in his brain and it was frustrating.
“Do you think I’ve lost her?” Daniel asked, vulnerable.
Not chasing Alice didn’t sit well with him at all. “She ran.”
His eyes didn’t even register Bell. “I’ll never see her again, Bell. She’s dead now.” Alice was dead and had been for ages. There was nothing he or Bell could’ve done.
Limbs thrashed about his head. Daniel was [i not] cooperating, and that was putting it mildly. Bell staggered as pain shot through his chest, a precursor to what was to come. No! Not like this. He was so close. The bed was right there. Another two steps, and he'd--
He made it. Relief flooded through him even as his body tensed for the pain sure to come. He plopped Daniel down on the bed, but the man clung like an octopus and pulled him down with him. "Daniel, you little shit," he accused the man, and then he ran out of breath as the first of the real pain hit. He felt himself convulse helplessly, black shooting through his veins, roiling under his skin. The whole world narrowed to a point, pain filling up all the black space behind it. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Fuck. This was bad. Daniel, where was Daniel? What was he doing?
Color bled back into the darkness. Standing. Daniel was standing by the door. "Come back," Bell plead with him, embarrassed by how weak his voice sounded. He was stronger than this. He forced himself forward a step, tried to catch hold of Daniel.
Daniel was there. He grabbed onto him, but the world narrowed to nothing but a pinpoint of pain again, and there was nothing he could do but wait it out, muscles tensed, fingers curling in on themselves like the legs of a dead spider. The world spun sickeningly, and his back hit the bed. No! He fought past the pain, managing to flail a little. He wouldn't be restrained! If Daniel tied him up, that was it. Game over.
No. He found Daniel darting around the room, collecting his stuff. Shit. Leaving? That was almost as bad. No. He pushed himself up, but then the pain struck again, burning like acid in his chest. He froze, unable to push himself to move an inch further.
Gone. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Nothing he could do. Nothing he could do. Was this it? Game over, end of the line?
And then Daniel was back. A miracle. Bell looked up at him and started to shake his head, then stopped himself. If he said no now, that would really be the end. "Stay?" he grit out through the pain. He reached out and clawed onto Daniel's arm, held as tight as he could. "Please, Daniel." He didn't want to be seen like this, but he couldn't let Daniel go either. He couldn't. Not now.
"No!" he shouted, thrashing in the other man's grip. Should've known the man would try to restrain him, like everybody else. He was a hunter -or no, maybe a nurse, or a doctor even? No, too strong to be a doctor. Sleep? He knew how 'sleep' worked -more drugs.
"No! I don't want the stupid drugs, put me down -I just have to go get her, it's dangerous out here! Can't you see?" And he probably couldn't. Doubt started to filter through his words and actions, even though they were having an effect.
He felt the man teeter on his feet under his weight. This was his opportunity. Who would allow a little girl like that in a building like this? It wouldn't end well.
Did they have no heart?
They'd made it into the tent and Daniel waited. He waited for that split-moment he had to be put down in order to be restrained.
"Mother-fucker, I don't want your fucking restraints! There's a girl out there, you cruel bastard!" Daniel snarled. The second he felt his back hit the bed, Daniel pulled the man and upset Bell's balance. Something felt off. Even as he got back up, Daniel hesitated. He moved closer to the door's entrance, but something held him back.
That couldn't be right. Wasn't this Bell?
He blinked rapidly, as if trying to put the world back into focus and was only marginally successful.
"Bell?" he tried. Daniel cocked his head, though the new angle didn't change anything. The man's face was still hard to recognize, but it was very clear the man was in pain. What about Alice though? Daniel moved quick; he pushed the man to rest on the bed instead of him. He couldn't do much more regardless, so he dashed back outside after, found his shoes and stuck his feet inside. He took the coat as well.
Once he was ready, Daniel hesitated again. Shit. What was wrong with him? Why was he hesitating? Alice was out there. There was something fundamentally wrong with that thought. He knew that, but he couldn't put his finger on it. The man had looked so bad though. Sweaty and pained. Torn, Daniel put a step closer to the tent, uncertainty painting a vivid picture on his face.
"Fuck," he spat and walked to the tent.
"Is-...is there anything I can do for you?"
Bell snorted, half a piece of chicken hanging out of his mouth. "What isn't tomorrow," he returned. Hey, at least he'd never get tired of Daniel. One second to the next, it was like he had a whole new person at his side.
Forgotten the whole morning, huh? Probably yesterday too. Bell sighed and poked him. "You hurt yourself making a mad dash over stones on some bare feet, is how you got hurt," he said, shaking his head at Daniel.
Didn't even remember Bell. Well, that was to be expected. "You know me all over," Bell said. If Daniel didn't remember, he might as well have some fun teasing him. "We're lovers. Been together for quite a while now."
It was kind of a compliment that Daniel wanted more. He never asked for more. If anything, Bell always had to talk him into finishing his plate. The only sad part was that there wasn't more, not now. "Sorry, I only got one thing of chicken. Should've gotten two, huh?" He was still kind of hungry, too, now that he was thinking about it. Maybe he should've got some grilling vegetables, too, some bell peppers or something.
He finished his bowl and set it down, then started tending to the coals. "You wanna grab some water off the back of the--"
A shout interrupted him. Alice? Shit. Daniel's eyes were focused on something that wasn't there; probably an angelic little girl. "Whoa, careful, your feet--" Bell warned him. Daniel didn't care. He lunged after the apparition, taking off.
Alright, that was enough. Bell chased him down and caught him around the waist, then hefted him over his shoulders. "I think it's time for you to go to sleep," he said.
Daniel was heavier than he remembered. Sweat burst out over his skin, sweat that quickly turned cold. His breath came short. [i Shit,] he thought to himself. He could already feel his chest tightening. Just to the tent. He pushed himself to walk the last few feet, fighting off the tightness in his chest with all his might. Slow breathing. Focus. Just a few more steps. The bed was right there, the restraints waiting. A little further--
Pain. Daniel shifted, then glanced down. Bandages? His confusion grew- bandages. Not open wounds. Someone had taken the time to care. And it smelled like food. His stomach had ideas about where that ought to go as well. Daniel's head shot up at the sound of a voice. He hadn't even noticed the guy at first.
Daniel? The man knew his name. He squinted, blinked and then nodded. Yeah, he was hungry.
Hesitantly, he took the bowl, then eyed the man and the food suspiciously. Their food was evenly split from the same source though. He was hungry.
"What's tomorrow?" Daniel asked suspiciously. Between his feet, the offered food and his hunger, he didn't want to give in to the ever rising panic balling up inside his gut.
"How did I get hurt?" he pitched.
The man seemed familiar, somehow. Daniel ate, but his eyes never left the other man. "I know you?" Daniel's voice hovered between doubt and fact. The food tasted good. A little strange, especially because he'd never eaten chicken prepared this way, but he couldn't complain. He finished it off quickly, though by the end of it he was even hungrier than when he'd started.
Didn't look it. Daniel wiped his face, then stared at the boots. He was sat on a coat as well. Mostly normal clothes. What disturbed him more was the absolute lack of memories. He didn't know this place or how he'd gotten there. There was a faint familiarity about the white tent and grill, but no memories sparked when he wanted them to.
Daniel took it all in, trying to make sense of it all. Alice.
She was stood there, watching him. Her pale blonde hairs curled around her face, blue eyes -after her mother- were sparkling and wide. He half got up, then winced. His feet ached. No. This was more important.
"Alice?" he whispered under his breath. She shook her head, turned and ran.
"Alice!" Daniel called out and this time he didn't wince. Forgotten about the injuries to his feet, Daniel got up and started after her. He almost sagged through his foot on the first step. Shit. What was up with his feet? It burned.
He'd lost here. Where was she?
Fuck. She couldn't have gotten far. Daniel grit his teeth. He had to find her!
"Yeah, in the bag," Bell said with a wave. The coals had simmered down to grey and were giving off an intense heat. Perfect for the chicken. He put the pieces on the grill and finished them off with a layer of the sauce, figuring he'd let the sauce bake into the meat. It wasn't exactly a perfect scenario for using barbecue sauce, but it worked well enough. Like so many things, he'd found a way to make it work.
Bell glanced at Daniel. The hospital? It... it wasn't the worst idea. Meant he'd have to break him out again, but as long as it was a normal hospital, that shouldn't be the hardest thing in the world. Could probably even use the same janitor suit he used at the hunter's base, if he was lucky.
Daniel's hands stilled. A quick glance confirmed what Bell feared; he was gone again. He sighed, then picked up Daniel's other foot and continued the job of cleaning it out. At least Daniel had managed to clear the worst of the debris. What was left washed out with the antiseptic. He finished it up by wrapping it with the bandage, then pulled socks over both of the bandages. It'd be better if they were out of Daniel's immediate reach, so that if the man went nuts, he wouldn't be able to do anything stupid to his feet.
Time passed. The chicken finished cooking, pink flesh turned white, the sauce half-caramelized on top. He glanced over at Daniel again to check on the man. Movement? He looked confused, though, which wasn't great.
Oh well, he'd just head that off. "Hey, Daniel. You hungry?" he asked pleasantly. He pulled out the bowls--he'd rinsed them in the grocery store's bathroom--and started dividing the chicken between them. "Here, eat up. We've got a big day tomorrow." Or at least he did. Daniel would be off to a psych ward, which he supposed was a big day in a completely different way. He sighed. He'd go early, make sure Daniel was situated, and make his move. Besides, there'd probably be fewer hunters in early. They seemed a nocturnal sort. Unlikely to be early risers.
Fix up? Oh. Daniel caught the bandages only barely. Come with. Sure. So Bell-boy would be able to keep an eye on him. Daniel narrowed his eyes, but he didn't have the energy to protest or question it. Right now, he didn't really want to be alone either. At least Bell, even though he perceived him as a shadow at times, was still a steady and familiar presence. An anchor in the storm that his head conjured up.
He put down the coat and sat down on it, then pulled his feet up and started to pick out the debris.
"You have antiseptic too?" Daniel asked tiredly. Why hadn't he noticed before? It hurt now. Fresh blood welled up when he fiddled with some of the cuts. Gravel and small rocks, dirt and whatever else was washed away with the amber liquid. Daniel watched, almost entranced.
What should we do- oh.
He wasn't-... he wasn't stable enough, was he? Daniel didn't even trust himself. He was fine for now, but just one moment of weakness or inattention would cause him to lose it all. And waking up from that dream was always confusing.
"Hospital, psych ward," he said with a sigh.
"And then come get me before they get a clue on who I am," Daniel said, looking up at Bell. And if something happened to Bell-boy, at least he'd be in a place where he could recover and come help the guy, if need be. He just needed more time.
He ripped off some of the bandages and started to wipe at the injuries, trying to clean them out best he could.
"I don't know," Daniel said. He didn't know whether or not he could contribute.
Distracted and numb, Daniel started to bandage up one foot. Shaky hands tied off the white cloth and then they stilled entirely. For several long seconds, Daniel just sat and stared, absent to the world.
He could see researchers buzzing about. Through the goo he could feel the tremors resulting from their crude way of communicating. It wasn't interesting, but it was learning and it would continue to do so until it could be replaced in a different location. Or until its originator freed it. It didn't expect any help.
And then he was back. Concrete. Where was the car? No. No, there hadn't ever been a car, had there been? The beach? Shit. Confusion unfolded across his face alongside fear; where was he?
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