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Bell nodded. Leave tomorrow. It made sense. They'd done everything they'd come here to do. Or rather, they hadn't. He still wanted to kill the goat for stabbing him. Will had done it, but the goat too. Both of them. But whatever. He'd hold back his bloodlust for now.
Daniel's hand coincidentally found the exact spot where he'd been stabbed. This time, though, it felt comforting, like someone was watching over him, keeping his back safe. How long had it been since they'd been able to just be like this? Just be together, without any weirdness between them.
Eh? Hybrids? It felt like forever ago, like he was dredging up ancient history. But Daniel had a good point. That was technology that had kept both goat and human alive for long enough to meld the two. If they could get their hands on that, Daniel would have a much better chance of surviving.
And the ones who knew the most about the hybrids... he frowned. He didn't want to think about it, but. But. The researchers might be their best bet. Probably not the one whose house they broke into and left tied up in her own bathroom, but other researchers. People who knew how to deal with goats and humans and hybrids.
"Should we go back to the UK, then?" he asked, finally looking up at Daniel. He dragged himself to sit upright and stretched, letting out a long yawn before he continued. "Since all the hybrid researchers were over there. Or ya think the hunters had their own hybrid research division or something?" It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to take a look around them at the hunters' bases before they decided to venture overseas again. Especially since the hunters were actively mass-producing hybrids, if not quite the same kind of hybrids the others had been making.
He shook his head and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "Still gotta go get a dog or something," he commented. So much to do to keep Daniel alive. Worth it, though. As long as Daniel was alive, anything was worth it.
"So what're we gonna do today?" he asked. There was still some daylight left. Plenty of time to get stuff done. Or travel. Whatever Daniel wanted to do.
Bell-boy woke slowly to his touch. Daniel hadn't meant to wake Bell up, so he didn't do anything to speed up the process. Rather, he observed as Bell-boy found his bearings and a smile worked its way onto the man's face.
Arms wrapped around him, pulling him in closer and soon he had a Bellwether nuzzling his side and inhaling his scent. Daniel raised an eyebrow and brushed a hand through Bell's hair.
"That right?" he said softly. Of course Bell-boy would be tired still.
Or well, sleepy.
It was a particular lazy afternoon, all things considered. Daniel had to admit, even he felt sleepy still. At least the headache he'd suffered that morning had gone away.
"We should probably leave tomorrow," Daniel started. He didn't have the motivation to move away from Bell or the warmth of the sun pounding on the metal sheet. It was comfortable for the first time in a long while, where they could be intimate without any negative emotions souring their interaction.
He felt a drive to travel though. Sticking around wouldn't help anyone, least of all Will and his goat-buddy. Daniel had the feeling that Will wasn't in the healthiest relationship with his goat-double, but then Daniel looked down at Bell and sighed.
It worked both ways, didn't it? And they'd helped him, so he could excuse their 'mistake'. Daniel's hand rested on Bell's back, where perfect skin had healed over an otherwise mortal injury.
"You remember that base we found below the hospital a while back?" he started. "They had tanks with hybrids in them. Tanks without the goo; we need to find something like that and another shell." Or a dog. Or whatever. Could even be a hunter, though that wasn't preferable. Maybe the goatling could even just create something off of memory. Spot two-point-oh. Daniel chuckled at the thought.
Spot, who was a copy of Bell, with a copy of his dog-shape.
Daniel sighed out. He didn't feel like moving, but they ought to get some more laundry done and grab something to eat. A good, nice rest, and they'd be perfectly ready to face another day's travel. It was a bit sad they didn't get a decent hunt though, but Daniel felt more at peace than he had been, now that they had some kind of idea on what to do about the goatling.
He'd only meant to doze, but he was more tired than he'd thought, and the doze very quickly became a deep sleep. A comfortable darkness swallowed him whole, a black hole that devoured him. He watched as it ripped him apart, piece by piece, body spooling away, and felt no fear, no pain. If anything, it felt like coming home. Everyone knew him here, his faults and failures and successes, and they loved him anyways; he was them, and they were he. His heart swelled, something beyond love pouring out of him. He was accepted. He belonged. This was the place he should be.
A light shone in the distance. He turned--no. They turned, as one, to regard the light, sparking gem in the endless darkness. The closer they grew, the more distinct it became: a ball of fire floating in the aether, smaller gems of red and brown and blue and white all floating around it. So tiny. So unspeakably delicate. They reached out a hand to scoop it up, and the whole thing trembled, shuddering in midair like a paper boat disturbed by a passing swimmer. Afraid it would capsize, they pulled their hand away. Another way. There had to be another way. Some way to capture that gem and make it their own.
Something brushed against their head. They stirred, confused. Nothing could touch them. There was nothing out here to touch them. And then there was light, so much light it was blinding, sun burning away in their eyes--
Bell blinked, frowning. Why... why was he... what? Sunlight. Something clanged as he moved, clumsily reaching to touch his hair. Who'd, who'd--he was thirsty, damnit, his mouth was so dry. Daniel was sitting there beside him--oh, Daniel! He smiled and pulled Daniel in, nuzzling into his side, then closed his eyes again. Smelled like Daniel and old clothes and soap. Mmm, he could sleep more. He was still tired. Still sleepy. Nice and warm, though. Maybe a little too warm, after a nap in the sun.
"Daniel, 'm sleepy," he informed the other man, then relaxed again, letting himself drift a bit. He should probably get up. He'd slept enough. But he was so comfy.
Bird-chirps woke him up. Daniel blinked at the all-familiar dashboard of their trusty car. They weren't moving? For a moment Daniel just sat there, dazed and a little confused. When had they gotten here? He took a deep breath and wiped his face down, then slowly peeled himself out of the chair. Back at the factory -right. Everything came crashing down all at once: the goatling, Will and Bell's pain, Will and Will-goat's strange bond. A solution. Maybe.
It was sunny out still. The last dredges of sunshine came filtering through the big doors and Daniel found Bell-boy there. A smile played across his lips, but he didn't want to disturb Bell-boy yet. Not when the man looked that peaceful.
A thought played through his head. A way to get the goatling to safely transfer. They needed a base like where they'd freed all of the hybrids; like the base underneath the hospital where hybrid-Alice had guided them.
For some reason, the hybrids had never been kept in goo. Maybe those people didn't know how to create the substance or maybe it'd damage something, but Daniel knew there was something like it out there still. It was naive to think the hunters had just stopped performing their sick calling, so there had to be something.
They'd raid a base and use their facilities.
Finding one was just a matter of time. Either way it meant leaving this city. Will wasn't one of Bell-goat's targets, so there was no point in loitering about.
Daniel ambled to where Bell-boy was abusing his make-shift sleeping-spot and sat down next to the man in the sun. For now, he was fine the way he was. Daniel stared out at the garden and let his thoughts just tumble about as they tried to find a home. There was a way in which he might survive and stay human. For the most part, anyway.
He looked beside him and sighed out. Bell looked peaceful. Daniel reached out and pushed the man's hair back, admiring the way the sun-light played across each individual strand. Even if their plan failed, it'd have still been worth it. Daniel pulled his hand back and sat back, just relaxing in the sunlight. It was nice.
Good to drive. "Uh, probably," he said, shrugging. He was certainly more good than Daniel was at the moment. And besides, the only problem with him was a little coughing. People coughed behind the wheel all the time. But falling asleep on the spot... that one was deadly.
He watched Daniel fill out the bill, then stood and led the way out. Outside, he took a deep breath of the fresh air--and bent over coughing almost immediately, lungs aching and loudly protesting anything like deep breaths. This time, though, it was over in a few seconds, and the stuff he coughed up was mostly white, with only a little bit of rust-red mixed in. He was improving, at least.
It wasn't a long walk to the car. Early morning had passed them by, and now, as late morning stretched across the horizon, the car gleamed in the sunlight, bright as a star. "Well, it is day, after all," Bell commented blithely. "Sun gotta do its thing." He patted Daniel on the back and slid into the driver's seat.
So. Home to the factory. He started up the car and glanced at Daniel, to find the man already dozing off. Bell shook his head. It was only a ten minute drive, tops! Just went to show how tired Daniel really was, he supposed. He reached out and pushed Daniel's hair back, then navigated out of the hotel parking lot and back onto the road.
It felt like it'd been forever since he'd last driven. To make it worse, traffic was hell, the streets clogged with commuters. Talking a turn a little too fast, he almost sideswiped someone and got the finger he deserved for it, then took it slow just in case. At least Daniel had stopped torturing him and had finally bought an automatic transmission.
By the time he got back to the factory, he was done with driving all over again. He stopped outside the gate to pull it open and took the chance to head all the way in and open the rolling door as well, then walked back, cut plants crunching underfoot, and got back in the car to nose it in. It was a tight squeeze fitting it through the door; he all but strained his neck glancing from one side to the other to be sure he could fit through. And Daniel just did it like nothing? He couldn't help but be a little impressed.
At long last, the car was parked. He looked at the sleeping Daniel, then got up, left his door open, and opened Daniel's door to give the area a bit of a breeze-through. Might as well let Daniel nap. If he was that tired, it couldn't hurt. Bell wandered the factory a bit, bored, then discovered a nice place out in the sun where a bit of old metal had been laid out. Carefully, he lowered himself onto it, then closed his eyes. He'd take a nap, too.
Survive the goatling leaving would be... It'd probably be impossible in his case. Daniel remembered how much of his body had turned black in the tube. The goatling was in so many parts, it wasn't even funny any more. He clenched his fist, but he felt too drained to keep up the pressure. Bell-boy took no time at all to finish his food. Daniel nodded faintly. Yeah, he probably shouldn't be driving, the way he felt.
"You good to drive?" Daniel pitched, just to make sure. If Bell-boy had a fit behind the wheel, it'd be disastrous. He wondered if Bell-goat's healing would be sufficient to aid the goatling's transition into another body -for the most part. Daniel also wondered whether or not the core had to stay. If so, it'd seem in the goatling's best interest to make sure he survived the ordeal.
He wiped his eyes to rid of the moisture and hailed the waitress to get their bill seen to. Once that was done though, he decided it wasn't wise to stick around. Will and his goat might still be close and consider attacking them. Likewise, Daniel didn't trust Bell-boy a hundred percent not to take revenge -and maybe Bell should.
Was gratitude something goats did?
Daniel got up once his card cleared and blinked around for a bit. His headache felt better, but when met with the overwhelming brightness of an awakened day, Daniel was keen to shy away.
"Does it have to be this bright?" he complained, picking his way back to their car. It was still near the hotel, where they'd left it. Daniel gave Bell a last once-over, but decided that, even if the man needed to cough up gunk, he'd still be the better driver for now.
Daniel lowered himself into the passenger's seat and flipped his sunglasses open. He rested back, somehow comforted by their own smell about the car. Felt like they were coming home somehow.
It didn't take long before the darkness of the shades wasn't quite sufficient and Daniel also closed his eyes. That, in turn, lead to him succumbing to sleep. Darkness was all that greeted him. Darkness and the goatling.
It just observed him. Eyes that had seen an eternity and beyond were docilely focussed on a tiny, insignificant human.
Well, he had nothing against going back to the factory. Bell nodded and released Daniel's hand to grab his own water. The cool water felt great against the back of his throat, soothing away the soreness his coughing fits had left behind. He hadn't coughed in a while, either, he realized in the same thought. That was probably a good sign.
He listened quietly as Daniel tried to explain what the goat had told him. Will's heart was the goat's core? So the goat could exist, even without having its core in it? That was valuable information, right there. If he ever met an impervious goat again, he'd do his best to remember that. Oh, and Will felt pain from it? So it'd be pretty obvious who the shell was, if he kept his eyes open while he bashed the goat in. Useful.
Then...? Bell filled it in on his own: "Then you could survive it leaving you, even if it had to leave something behind to keep you alive? And it could survive the leaving something behind." He nodded to himself. That alone increased Daniel's chances of surviving substantially. The goatling had done so much to heal him. If that all vanished along with the goatling... Bell wasn't confident the goat could heal Daniel. Not an ordinary way. It'd have to do... something else. An egg, maybe. If a human could survive that. He didn't know.
Will was still human, though. A chance. There was a chance. They had something of a plan, now, steps to take to keep Daniel alive. Bell clenched his fist under the table. At last. At last, there was something.
The food arrived, steaming hot, sweet pancakes wafting delicious smells up to him. Bell dug in immediately, taking big, sloppy bites that smeared the whipped cream everywhere--not that he cared. It tasted delicious, and that was all that mattered. The sausage wasn't half bad either, if on the greasy side. Mixing sips of coffee and orange juice made them both taste weird, but the orange juice provided tasty sugar and the coffee warmed him up, so he needed both. "Mkay, let's go to the factory," he agreed, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, then licking it clean. "Should I drive?" Daniel really did not look up to it, and they couldn't exactly leave the car behind. He didn't want to drive, but he wasn't about to let Daniel drive, either.
Bell-boy's order sounded even more lavish than his own. Of course, with Bell still recovering from nearly dying to a stab-wound, that was no surprise. Daniel closed his eyes for a split-second and saw the fabric of reality painted inverse on the canvas of his eyelids. The goatling would now know what to do, even if he didn't. Lovely. Back to the room. Daniel opened his eyes back up and took a deep breath before peeling his head off of the table's surface. He gave Bell a tired stare.
"Could just go back to the factory -it's still a day we can use," Daniel reasoned. Maybe after some breakfast, he'd feel better. Less drained. Doubtful, but hopeful, Daniel pulled his glass of water closer and drank some more of it. Had to start somewhere. It always felt like he was starting somewhere, never quite making any progress.
"No, no, I'm...fine." Daniel looked at Bell.
"It was weird. Will's heart was the goat's core," he tried to explain. "Will felt it all, all the pain you caused the goat part, but then...It's impervious, because it's not actually there," Daniel rambled.
"If...if the goatling could take over something else, someone else, or just create a separate shell all on its own, then." Daniel paused for a second, eyes squinted almost shut. He pinched the bridge of his nose and blinked back at reality. Nothing had changed for it.
"Will's human. Except for that, it's...almost parasitic," he muttered.
Daniel sat up a little as their food came in. Several plates were put out in front of them. Rather than make him feel sick, like Daniel had expected, he felt a hunger-pang stab his gut. He almost rolled his eyes at the goatling, but started to focus on his meal with more enthusiasm than he'd expected.
The headache dulled over time, to something he could deal with, but that still didn't get him anywhere near to feeling well or revitalized.
Maybe Bell-boy was right about staying another day at the hotel. He could take the time to think things over. Put everything in perspective. Stuff like his bad habits and what to do next. Daniel's eating slowed down considerably by the end of it, but unlike yesterday night, he didn't fall asleep almost straight away. More like pass out.
"I think we should go back to the factory," Daniel reasoned. They didn't need a hotel to rest up. Bell-boy's lungs sounded a lot better and he hadn't suffered any coughing-fits for a while now.
At the sight of the breakfast place, Daniel took a deep breath, then pushed away from Bell and stood on his own. Bell hovered for a second, but when Daniel nodded, stepped away. He was right; they couldn't go inside like this. The normal types would just kick up a fuss, trying to figure out if they were hurt or on something or in some other undesirable state. The really sad bit was that he was kind of reluctant to let Daniel go. It'd almost been like cuddling, when lately they'd almost ignored each other.
Just a headache. Well, he had heard the goat talking. It'd been enough to make Bell's brain hurt a little, and the voice hadn't been directed at him in the least. With a nod, he followed Daniel into the breakfast spot.
The smell alone made him feel awake and alert, coffee and sugar with a spicy-savory undercurrent of whatever they put on the grill for meat--bacon, sausage, ham. He took a deep breath and sighed out, rolling his shoulders to let the tension out. Felt safe. Which was stupid, the number of times they'd been ambushed by a diner, but it didn't change how he felt.
They were showed to a table. Water materialized, and then the waitress was back for their orders. Bell struggled to hide a smirk as "just some eggs" lengthened into a whole feast, though it was a good sign for Daniel's mental health; he always ate poorly when he was troubled. Then the waitress turned her service-smile to him. "Uh, yeah, full stack of chocolate chip pancakes for me, sausage on the side, and could I get some whipped cream on top? Oh, and uh, orange juice, and a thing of coffee, thanks."
The waitress retreated. Bell was almost tempted to copy Daniel in putting his head down on the table, but resisted the urge. They'd probably get thrown out if they acted too haggard. "Should we go back to the room? Rent it another day?" he suggested gently, reaching out under the table for Daniel's hand. Neither of them were in any real shape to be out on the streets, and now that Will wasn't being hunted, he just wanted to heal up and go. Ha, maybe that was why he'd been so impatient the whole time, if Will wasn't one of Bell-goat's targets. Not that Bell-goat had that much control over him, but still.
"Hmm, made me feel what you and Will felt," Daniel chewed out. That pain had faded pretty fast though, while the headache remained. He just hadn't been ready for it, so soon after recovering from the goat-sickness. Tell him- really?
"Sorry," was all he managed. It was partly his fault Bell-boy wasn't told before he'd gotten stabbed. If he hadn't been too hungover to join Bell-boy that day, Bell probably wouldn't have been stabbed at all, since he'd have been able to talk to Will-goat. Arms wrapped around him. Daniel started to realize he was losing muscle tension. Felt like he might pass out again, but at the same time, not.
He forced some strength into his legs, but gratefully relied on Bell-boy to support him.
Breakfast sounded good.
Daniel nodded and numbly focussed on putting one foot in front of the other. Once he found a rhythm, it wasn't as hard. His headache was blinding, but he still ventured a look at the place Bell suggested. Daniel realized Bell-boy would be recovering still too. He wanted to pull back, walk by himself, but sadly, this was about as intimate as they'd gotten -if he didn't count the shower this morning.
Couldn't walk in like this though. At least they were washed and wore clean clothes. Daniel patted Bell's shoulder and stood by himself. He took a deep breath and gave Bell a nod.
"I'm okay, just -headache," Daniel waved, as if trying to swat away a fly.
He pushed open the door into the place and was relieved to find most of the breakfast people were already on their way out. That left people who would naturally be spending a longer time in the place to socialize and pretend to have the continuous luxury of eternal free time -like they did.
Either way Daniel couldn't be bothered by any judgemental gazes this time. Even the waitress tasked with seating them gave him a look of sympathetic concern, rather than pity or disgust. She didn't even ask, but poured him some water.
Daniel gave the woman a wan smile and took a few sips.
"So, what can I get you boys?" she said, a mild cheerfulness about her voice. Daniel appreciated her tempered enthusiasm and squinted at the menu, then surrendered.
"Just some eggs, sunny side up? Some toast on the side, maybe a side of bacon and some salad? Do you guys do that sort of thing?" He wanted nothing more than curl up under a blanket.
His head was still swirling about with the thought of the goatling's plan and what Will-goat had shown him. Daniel unconsciously rubbed his chest. Bell-boy's pain or Will's?
When the waitress left, Daniel leaned forward and rested his head on the table.
The voice cut off. Bell started forward, intent on beating this goat's head in. Whenever they started shouting like that, it was never good! Negotiations had failed, so it was time to fight!
A hand on his shoulder stopped him short. "What? He's getting away!" Bell protested, turning to look at Daniel even as Will raced off down the alleyway, and his double retreated upstairs. He stared after them, frustrated. So close! He'd almost had them!
The sound of racing footsteps and clattering metal stairs faded once he saw Daniel, urgency replaced by concern. The man was bent over, face drawn and pale. It looked like he was in worse pain that the voice usually put him in, and that was saying something. "What did it do to you?" Bell demanded, worry staining his voice. Not here to hurt them? Sure didn't look like that. "Are you okay?"
Wait, what? The goatling--? No, now that he was thinking about it, Daniel had spotted Will first. If this was all the goatling's doing, it made sense. "Shit, man, next time tell be before I get stabbed," he joked, wrapping his arms around Daniel as the man slowly grew more limp, worried he might just fall over. He could practically watch Daniel tire out; it was worrying, to say the least. The goatling didn't know how to keep the man healthy, or maybe didn't care. For a second, anger flared up inside him, but then he swallowed it back down. Nothing he could do about that. It was fine. Everything was fine. No, nothing was fine, but that was normal. It was okay.
"Should we get to breakfast, then?" he offered, as though it was normal to get accosted by a kid and his goat twin in the morning. Hell, with their lives, it just about was. Be more odd if something didn't jump out at them. He offered Daniel his shoulder, then led the way back out of the alleyway. The first place he saw for food was the fancy little shop that would probably turn their noses up at him and Daniel--but what the hell, Daniel needed food, and he was hungry. "That place look good?" he asked, already drawing Daniel closer.
It hurt. Daniel stood perfectly still, knuckles white with the force of his grip around the bat. Bell-goat hadn't used that forceful voice with him in ages, but this goat didn't hold back at all. In the back-drop, he heard Will shout, saw Bell-boy stagger and then he just saw what the other goat showed him: the connection between Will and it.
Daniel realized it'd made a choice, at some point. Perhaps it'd been to save Will's life. Whatever the case, its essence was trapped in Will, who was still predominantly human. Because it's core was nowhere to be found in Will's duplicate, it was pretty much a perfect shield.
Pain. Daniel gasped at the pain, feeling his air cut off the way it had for Bell-boy that faithful day. But Will had been in pain too, hadn't he? He'd felt every strike, felt every hit Bell-boy had laid upon it's connected-disconnected other.
Daniel grabbed at his chest, but then the goat was gone and he was left to blink reality back into focus. Bell-boy was right there, in front of him. Daniel reached out and grabbed the man's shoulder for stability, but also to somehow wordlessly convey that fighting shouldn't be in order. Either Bell-goat or the goatling had guided them both here, to learn from these two's symbiosis.
He had a bit of a hard time catching his breath. It'd hurt. Images of Bell's fight with these two resonated in his mind. It'd put itself in a vulnerable position by sending out Will.
"It's not here..." Daniel started, eyes pinched to fight off the piercing headache. "...not here to hurt us."
He managed a deep breath and felt the muscles around his chest unclench from their painful constriction. The headache lingered like a greasy fingerprint.
The goatling shifted inside of him, reaching out to Will-goat.
He felt them communicate. It hurt too, but less than before. They were learning from each-other, apparently. How fragile these life-forms were was conveyed between both, then details Daniel couldn't hope to comprehend. All of that went so fast, it felt like it was over in a flash. Skipping breakfast hadn't been a good idea. He felt exhausted now.
Will dashed away. Daniel held on to Bell.
"Let 'im go," he muttered, trying to think around his pounding headache. "We're not killing this one. Goatling needs to do what it did." Though whether he wanted a Daniel two-point-oh was not a debate. It simply wouldn't happen.
They didn't go far. Will stopped, and Bell followed his gaze up to where a second Will stared down at them. The resemblance might have been eerie, if he hadn't been expecting it. He scanned the ends of the alley quickly, suspicious that this might be the trap, that the kid's friends might try something while he and Daniel were looking up, but there was nothing, just the pedestrians passing by, paying their alley no mind.
He glanced back up at Daniel's challenge to quietly watch the goat. It watched them back from on high like some kind of gargoyle, motionless as stone. The stalemate stretched, tension in the air growing thicker with every passing second. Bell shifted his grip on the pipe and prepared to strike. Any aggressive motion, and Will was going down.
The goat didn't move, in the end. It spoke.
Bell clutched his head and staggered back. "Stop, not now! He doesn't mean it!" Will shouted, clutching his head desperately. Bell started to stagger forward to stop Will, but the sheer force of the goat's voice had paralyzed him in place, locking him motionless where he stood. Shit! Maybe he'd made a mistake after all!
With all the will he could muster, Bell forced himself to turn and look at Daniel. He never did well with the goats--shit. This was going to shit immediately.
Will-goat turned towards Daniel. This one was its, as that one was the child's. It reached out to the goatling and showed it what it couldn't yet comprehend on its own: darkness trailing from it to Will, connected-disconnected, one and not one, the lump of black in Will, Will's heart, beating, black under red; alive, yet disconnected. Then to Daniel. Images. Bell beating it down. It regenerating endlessly. Will clutching his chest behind Bell, the lightning-electric-pain, a hand around a knife and hot blood--the image cut off abruptly. It could teach the little one. They could be two and one, one and two. Itself and Will.
Abruptly, the pain stopped. Bell stumbled a step forward at the lack of resistance, then caught himself and stood upright. He ran over to Daniel and stood in front of him protectively, worried he might be confused after that outburst.
"He--he never does this," Will was still insisting, borderline-hysterical. "You just have scared him. He doesn't hurt people. Just leave us alone!"
Lead the way. So they were willingly being guided into a trap, assured they'd make it out, even the way they were? Obviously this goat wasn't a joke, otherwise Bell would've been able to put up a fiercer fight. Daniel shuddered at the memory of holding Bell-boy's organs in the palm of his hand -the goatling's hand. He didn't know which was worse: trusting the goatling with that much responsibility or holding Bell's life in his hands like that himself. Daniel took Bell-boy's cue and fell in line, closing their ranks.
He kept a keen eye out for the other kid, both Will's double and his little friend from before. If the kid was smart however, and the other friend a human, he'd have told the guy to get the hell out of dodge.
They were lead away from the main street into a sketchy alley. It was dark, despite the sunny day, light obscured by the tall, almost windowless buildings towering above them. Metal stair-cases wound their way up in unnatural angles.
Will stopped then.
Daniel held his pace, but he saw it before he could redirect his gaze back to Bell and Will: utter black. Same as he had back out on the street that day. It coiled within a small shape, similarly sized to Will's body.
Up on the third flight, the boy stood, hands dangling across the railing, eyes lazily trained at their little progression.
Will-goat wasn't taking any chances this time.
"You going to come on down, boy?" Daniel called out. He grabbed his bat. Will started and edged back. This wasn't his fight and he knew it. Still, Daniel didn't think it'd be wise to let the Will part of this duo escape either. Something this goat had done tied it to Will.
And that. That was interesting.
Interesting enough to prevent himself from lashing out from the get-go, even though he felt like breaking something. One of the goats might have the solution for his estranged passenger. They'd been foolish to search for a human solution to his goat problem. Why not ask a goat? Daniel snorted. As if.
Tension made the air thick. A stale-mate. Daniel waited for Bell's lead. This time, they'd not be surprised, but work as a coordinated team instead.
Everything about this situation was fishy. This kid, his goat-copy, him coming up to Daniel and himself--none of it made sense. If this kid wasn't the goat, then how had he been able to find Bell and Daniel? Why hadn't the goat killed this kid? Why just copy him? He frowned and crossed his arms, surveying the street while Daniel talked to the kid. The goat had to be around here somewhere. There was no other way the kid could've found them. They couldn't let their guard down.
Down this way. Bell narrowed his eyes. The kid had caved way too easily. He was trying to fuck with them, somehow. Thought he had something up his sleeve. He caught Daniel's look and reflected it back to him; this was suspicious as hell. The goat had to be nearby, and he'd bet anything that it was ready to jump them at the kid's command.
He glanced at Daniel again, raising one eyebrow in a suggestive manner. He didn't believe this kid for a heartbeat, but the best way to figure out what he was up to--or at least the quickest--was to walk into the trap and see what happened. He hadn't even used the full extent of his strength the first time, and Daniel hadn't been there. Whatever the trap was, they could handle it together.
Daniel looked nervous, but then again, Daniel was always nervous. And this situation actually called for a certain degree of nervousness, for once, so he couldn't even hold it against the man.
"Right, well," Bell drawled, gesturing for the kid to take the lead, "lead the way." He'd go take a look, see if this "friend" really was harmless. And when the trap closed around them, he'd beat his way out. The way he always did. Hell, he'd take any excuse to knock this snot-nosed brat's head in. After what the kid had done to him... his hand tightened around the pipe. He'd love to see the kid try to pull something. Just give him that excuse.
Will glanced at them, equally nervous as Daniel, then led the way away from the main street and towards a sketchy alley. Bell gestured for Daniel to fall back a bit and watch his back. Whatever it was, he'd go first, so worst case, Will had an angry Bell-goat on his hands. And best case, he thought, an evil grin spreading over his face, he'd be the closest to the kid. The first to reach him to bash his damn head in.
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