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"We'll start with her and work our way back up the list," Bell decided. They didn't have to go with the blonde. Just because she was the most obvious choice didn't make her the best one. But they might as well start there. They hadn't even tried her yet; there was no guarantee she'd say no.
He finished his chicken and sat back, yawning. A walk before sleep? Sounded good to him. He nodded and stood, pushing up from the table. "Goldy, you finished?" he called to the dog as he scooped the plates up to put them in the sink. Might as well get her some exercise, too, though running in the woods all day has already gotten her pretty well exercised, he figured. As it was, he wasn't sure he [I should] fix the back door. It was a convenient doggy door for Goldy, so no one had to let her out in the middle of the night.
Once she was in the tube with Daniel, though, it'd be a different situation.
"Where does Goldy go?" he asked thoughtfully, as he stuffed his feet back into his shoes. "I mean, there's only one tube, right? So where does the dog go?" Was she going to be stuffed in there with Daniel? It'd be a tight squeeze, for sure, but he didn't know how else they were going to do it. To some extent, he'd kind of imagined a smaller tube for her, but that didn't make any sense, did it? How would the goatling get to her, for one? So she had to be in there with Daniel.
The night air had cooled considerably without the sun beating down on the Earth to keep it hot. He stepped outside and stretched, enjoying the cooler air. It'd been way too hot earlier, but not it was nice out. A good time for a walk, really.
Goldy trotted ahead of him like she owned the place, rushing off to sniff this or that, then darting back to make sure everyone was okay before she rushed off again. Bell glanced at Daniel, then reached out for his hand. That was the nice thing about being in the middle of nowhere; they could be a little affectionate and no one would notice, much less care. "Lovely night," he said quietly, looking up at the stars. Out here, without any light to pollute the sky, he felt like he could see forever.
Wait, him helping Bell out by putting cheese on the chicken and dishing up the food made the man this glum? Maybe he shouldn't have helped then. Daniel made a mental note for next time to wait until Bell-boy asked for his help. Knowing the man's pride, that'd be never, but it wouldn't hurt to give Bell a chance to finish making a meal he'd started.
"I still feel blondie would be the best choice, but I'm not sure we can convince her," Daniel shrugged. And maybe the goat had gotten it wrong, showing him those researchers. Besides, unlike Alphie, the blonde actually still worked at the facility, which posed an entirely new risk. Hunters might get suspicious about her private life and follow her back here. Given, the road to the house was a solitary one, on which it was hard not to notice any pursuers, but still. Alphie and the blonde were researchers, not hunters like them.
Look for jobs. Right.
Daniel cleared his plate in no time flat and rose to get Goldy her food. Slightly confused, but no less enthusiastic, Goldy attacked the dog-food he poured into her bowl. He stroked her scruff while she ate and sighed out. Poor dog.
She'd be gifted with some kind of life after death, but neither Daniel nor Bell were convinced it was a better option than just remaining mortal and die in an ordinary way.
"Sounds legit," Daniel said with a yawn. Job-hunting. He never really hunted for a job. Sure, the first job at an office had been slightly difficult, but after that he'd gotten opportunity after opportunity thrown into his lap.
Until he disappointed his mother by stealing millions and escaping to America.
If she didn't send the prescription, he wouldn't even be angry. It was one of the ways she could force his hand into coming back -not that he would. Maybe they could get a doctor here to cooperate off the books. Money tended to make a good incentive.
He still felt a bit detached. Like this wasn't quite real. Daniel pinched his arm, but it definitely hurt.
"How about a walk before we sleep?" Daniel offered. They could explore the surrounding land, see what was there. Apparently they had some distant neighbours. Either way it'd be good to get to know the lay of the land. For Bell-boy at least. If the guy did end up hunting something.
"Well, yeah, but one of us is good at cooking, and it's not me," Bell joked back. He was fine with cooking, but why waste the precious times he had to taste Daniel's cooking? He wasn't trying to push off the duties onto Daniel; more like, it was a rare chance he should treasure.
He sighed. "I mean, I guess it is chicken," he said. Not exactly the most glowing review of his cooking. It looked edible, at the very least.
Daniel scurried around the kitchen, adding the finishing touches. Bell shook his head. Was he that bad at cooking, or was Daniel just that good? "Yeah, um, the noodles, then the chicken, then the sauce on top," he said, hovering a bit while Daniel plated it. He felt kind of useless with Daniel here. What was the point of him cooking if Daniel was just going to have to fix it up later?
At least it was food, and edible at that. Maybe the chicken was the tough side of tender, and the noodles were a bit soggy, but it was edible. He sat down at their table with his plate and started to eat, a bit mopey for having been slapped down in the kitchen so harshly. "You're welcome," he said glumly.
Go into town tomorrow? Wasn't that what they did every day nowadays? But they had so much to do. It was only fair. "Should we look for blondie?" he offered, slurping up some noodles himself. Spaghetti sauce sprayed over his face, and he wiped it down with the back of his hand. "Are we still on her? Or are we thinking of someone else now?"
Either way, there were difficulties. Honestly, facing her alone might be a good shot. They could definitely talk her into coming around and being there just to watch Alphie's back, as long as Alphie wasn't there to go protective-mode and talk her out of it.
"Look for jobs," he added to the list, a bit belatedly. They definitely needed to do that, and soon. Or, well, he did. Couldn't just sit around all day while Daniel was in the tube. He'd go mad, for one, just sitting there. And he wanted to contribute something. The idea of being useless didn't sit well with im.
"Taking turns is the only right thing to do, isn't it?" Daniel joked. He leaned on the kitchen-counter, watching Bell-boy work. The man hadn't denied or confirmed his suspicions, which did nothing to ease his mind-set. Closer to a nightmare, that dream. Bell defused the topic by starting about the food.
"It smells like chicken," he said. At least there was little to screw up about chicken, so long as it was cooked all the way through. And apparently Bell had resorted to using the oven to make sure that was the case. Noodles and sauce. He wasn't used to that combination, but it made sense, in hindsight.
"Wait, where's the-" In the fridge.
"You can still put it on," he argued. The heat of the chicken ought to melt the cheese. Not as thoroughly as the oven would, but well enough anyway. Also, it'd keep the chicken nice and crispy. He moved to the fridge and got the cheese out. After some rummaging, he also found a knife to cut some off with and started slicing enough cheese to cover the chicken. It smelled good, actually. Or maybe he was just really hungry.
To spice things up, Daniel used some of the herbs and put the finishing touches on the chicken by dishing them up and adding the tomato sauce Bell-boy had been heating. Looked close enough to a meal already anyway.
Daniel was about to ask about the nightmare again, but stopped himself. Instead, he dished up the noodles. He wondered whether the goatling was slowly detaching the grip it had on his sanity already, to make him feel so detached from reality after just a dream. Or had they never escaped the tube in the first place? Shit. That was an even worse prospect.
"Looks good to me," he said with a meek smile. "Let's eat."
At least Bell-boy wouldn't starve. Most of the things looked cooked well enough. The chicken was nice and crisp, though maybe a bit over-done. The sauce was ordinary sauce, nothing spectacular and neither were the noodles. A bland meal, but a meal nonetheless.
"Thanks for cooking," Daniel muttered with a mouth full of noodles. The goatling didn't care about the quality of Bell-boy's cooking. It only cared about getting enough sustenance.
"We should go into town tomorrow, look for our nurse, maybe get a newspaper or something, some books," he muttered around his food.
Bell glanced back at the sound of Daniel's voice. Figured food would wake him. "I was gonna go get you in a minute," he said, dumping the noodles into the colander. Steam mushroomed to the ceiling, while hot water streamed into the sink. He swirled the noodles some to get the water off and set them aside, then grabbed the jar of tomato sauce and poured it into a saucepan. He didn't know if the bowls were microwave safe, so might as well play it safe. "Hey, if you aren't cooking, someone has to be."
A nightmare about the tube? Bell grimaced. He really hated it, didn't he? Being in the tube. Of course he did, after the hunters had forced him in there and done fuck knew what to him in there. But there wasn't another option. "If there was something else we could do..." he started. It was meaningless. There was nothing, so why bring it up?
"Chicken parm," he explained. "I might've fucked it up a little, I don't know. I tried to fry the chicken but it didn't cook through, so I had to put it in the oven. The noodles should be fine, though. They're noodles." Hard to mess up noodles.
And the parmesan, where was the parmesan? "Shit," he muttered, putting a hand on his face. "I forgot to put any cheese on the chicken. Guess we're having chicken noodles. Or something." He had all the pieces, he just hadn't put them together right. Ugh, that was frustrating. He sighed out and shook his head. No use crying over spilled milk, or forgotten cheese, or whatever. Did parmesan even melt? Who knew, but there sure wasn't any on the chicken.
The oven beeped. Bell pulled out the chicken and set it on an oven mitt. "Well, there it is," he said with a shrug. "Noodles, and sauce, and chicken, and I have parmesan cheese in the fridge I think, so you can put it together at the end?" He gave Daniel a sheepish grin. He'd done his best.
Goldy nosed in the back door at the smell of fresh food. Bell pushed her away from the counter, using his butt to keep her away from the food. "I'll feed you, just wait a minute!" he said, scruffing her fur. Felt like he was feeding everyone right now.
The scent of food woke him up. Daniel felt detached from reality. That dream had seemed so real, felt so real that he was left wondering whether this wasn't the dream, rather than the other way around. But he hadn't even stepped into the tube yet. How could that dream possibly be real? He wiped his face and sighed out, turning his head to see what was going on.
Nothing much. The house, away as it was from everything else, was serene and calm. Not even the sound of cars rushing down the asphalt seemed to reach this place. Nice, but disquieting. He just wasn't used to it.
Daniel sat up slowly and took a deep breath.
And if the goatling was messing with his head, there'd be no way to figure out what was real and what wasn't. There just wasn't.
Actually, he might already be dead. A shell, a bad copy of himself that the goatling portrayed to the outside. Bell-boy would've found out, wouldn't he have? Bell would know whether he'd stopped being human.
But the man was possibly more delusional than he was.
After all, he'd gone at least ten years without ever realising he wasn't ageing, that he wasn't even human no more. And he'd all but forgotten than Rebecca had been a goat, before it'd gotten swallowed up by Bell-goat.
Daniel shivered and got up. The house looked the same as always. Felt real enough. Daniel ran his hand by the walls, until he had to let go. He ambled into the living-area and spotted Bell-boy in the kitchen.
Wait, he was cooking?
"I'm still dreaming, right?" he announced himself.
"You're cooking?" A small grin played across his lips. This was rich. Well. No, Bell-boy could make eggs and omelettes and such. This did not smell anything close to a simple meal however. He waded through the kitchen and bent down to look into the oven.
"I dreamt I was in the tube," Daniel started. "And they sedated me again," he breathed. This would be where Bell told him it was all just a dream. That he was awake now.
"It felt stupidly real..." Daniel mumbled. "What're you making?" he skipped the topic. Maybe it was better if he didn't know, in hindsight.
"No, you did great," Bell said. "Too great. I hardly recognize myself." He tilted his head. He looked normal, but that was because he was supposed to [i be] normal. He had to get a job, blend in, be a responsible member of society or something... be normal. It was weird. Felt weird. Felt... [i wrong,] even though this was supposed to be what was right.
"No, it's just, you know," he started, turning to Daniel. Daniel, who was out like a light, sprawled on their bed.
Bell snorted. So much for philosophical debates. Daniel needed his rest, though, he couldn't deny that. He moved quietly past the sleeping man and into the kitchen. It was about dinner time, anyways, which meant it was time to figure out chicken parmesan.
He'd been planning to have Daniel make it, so his plans were already going awry, but so it went. He could just bake it instead, but where was the fun in that? And he didn't get any tasty chicken parm tonight, when he'd been looking forward to it so much. Besides, he understood the basics. Surely it wasn't that difficult a dish?
Breading came first. He whipped up the egg and put out a plate with breadcrumbs in it, then dragged the chicken through egg and breadcrumbs. Seemed close enough. Bits of breadcrumbs and eggs stuck to his fingers; by the time he was done, he wasn't sure who was more breaded, him or the chicken.
Then the cooking. He got out some oil and put it in the pan, enough to cover the chicken. It bubbled and spat once it was warm, speckling his arms with hot oil, but the chicken gave off the right hiss as he lowered it down. Seemed like everything was going well. The breading was browning nicely, and the chicken was cooking well. He went to grab them, and stopped. How... how did he get them out?
After a moment of freezing and just standing there, he grabbed a pair of forks and wielded them like tongs. Each piece of chicken was fished out, and then he turned off the heat, finally sparing his arms. Alright. Chicken parm.
Only it wasn't cooked through when he cut a piece open. Bell sighed and stuck the chicken in the oven, then found the pasta box. That had to be cooked too, right? At least this one had instructions on the box.
Daniel chuckled, "Professional? I wouldn't go so far as to say my handiwork's professional..." he said. Bell-boy was already off to take a look and Daniel snapped the scissors closed. He was beat. Today had been far better than yesterday, but it would still take another long night's rest to get there. Daniel followed Bell-boy into the house and left comb and scissors on the table, before trudging off to the bedroom. He caught sight of Bell admiring his work in the mirror with a vaguely strange expression on his face.
"Did I do it alright?" he pitched.
Daniel sat down on the bed and started to work his laces. Soon enough his boots came off and he sighed out. The bed felt glorious against his back. Muscles that were tense relaxed when met with the firm, yet soft surface. His stomach relaxed. Daniel hadn't even realized the nausea from the cold drive had still been present, until it ebbed away at long last.
He closed his eyes. If Bell-boy wanted his hair adjusted, he'd have to figure it out himself.
Either way it looked alright from his perspective. Maybe that wasn't it.
For now, he was extremely comfortable and fully intent on staying that way until dinner maybe.
Sleep wasn't long. He heard Bell move around, but was already too far gone to react.
Daniel woke up disoriented. Dark. It was dark, foremost. No, there was some light. From down below. He shifted, felt counter-pressure from all sides and looked down at his hands. Fluid? He was trapped in a fluid? Glass. Panic started to bubble up. A person, no, two people were stood just outside of his field of vision. He could hear their voices, distorted through the glass and whatever liquid he was trapped in.
Moving was almost impossible. He felt tubes running in and out of intimate places, snagging as he moved. An alarm went off, beeping insistently and that got people to respond.
A third person came down, cast a quick glance at him. Daniel narrowed his eyes, but it was hard to focus. The liquid distorted his sight, made it feel as if he needed glasses to see. Muscles jerked. A cold sensation crawled up his arm, though once whatever new drug they introduced reached his heart, it became warm. Everything became slow. His eyelids became heavy. Darkness engulfed him almost instantly.
There was silence for a bit. Nothing but the wildlife and the quiet clip of the scissors as Daniel cut his hair. It was reassuring in its own way to feel Daniel's hands at work, moving his hair, pulling it out, the tension, the chop of the scissors, the flop as his hair fell back against his head, shorter. Once, it would've made him tense, but now he knew those hands, trusted Daniel with more than his life. Having that trust was what made it relaxing, he decided, closing his eyes so Daniel could get the bangs. Knowing he could trust Daniel to not hurt him, even to make him look good.
"I got a pamphlet at the supermarket, figured I'd start there," Bell said, opening his eyes to look up at Daniel. "Then, I don't know, tomorrow I'll head in to the library and use the web, unless the phone has that, and then... guess I'll use that. Can call the supermarket tonight, though."
He sighed out. He didn't know. "Hit the trees? Get my hunting permit and go kill actual wildlife? I don't know. Maybe I'll just go..." he waved vaguely away from them. "You know, go out and hunt." It'd be dangerous, though. There were the hunters, and them aside, goats weren't pushovers. He could hurt himself good, hunting on weekends. He snorted. "Maybe I'll just get a punching bag." It wouldn't be enough, but the idea was funny.
There was something tight in the way Daniel spoke that made Bell fall silent again. He resisted the urge to nod and stood very still, letting Daniel finish with care. Whatever it was, he didn't know what to say, so it was better if he just stayed silent.
At the "there," Bell stood and stretched, then dusted the little hairs off. He looked at Daniel. "What do you think? I look professional now?" he asked, flexing his arms to make the most of being shirtless. "I'm gonna go take a look." He grabbed the chair and carried it inside, kicking the door open for Daniel to follow him. Then he dashed to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Not shabby, all things considered! He actually looked normal. Normal. It was a weird feeling. He ran a hand through his short hair and shook it out. Felt wrong, somehow. He wasn't normal.
But now he was.
And he got a show to boot. Daniel hummed appreciatively, but then grew more serious. As an after-thought, he got a bottle of water to wet Bell-boy's hair with. It'd be easier to cut that way. He poured a little on his hand and ran it through Bell's hair until the unruly locks were at least somewhat tamed. Next was the comb. It was nice and quiet outside, this far from everything.
Daniel took his time, ran the comb with care through Bell's semi-long strands of hair until they were all untangled and even. Last time they hadn't done such a good job at cutting it, and it was fairly obvious.
"Short on the sides, huh?" Daniel muttered. They didn't exactly have a razor or anything, so it'd all have to be done by hand. He'd only ever cut a classmate or two once or twice in college and Bell-boy. Most of the times however, Bell's hair just needed to be short, plain and simple, and no one cared for what it looked like on the streets. First off it had to be evened out. Daniel figured he could measure the length of the hair using the comb and his fingers, then slowly worked his way through.
It was considerably easier and faster with scissors. Neater too.
Daniel looked at his handiwork from a distance and decided he could probably do Bell-boy's request, though it'd take a little more time to do it all by hand. He just had to take a thinner measure to get it cut on the sides.
"When are you going to look anyway?" Daniel pitched.
"Put the phone on the counter, feel free to use it. People like to call back these days," he snorted softly. Most of his attention was on cutting Bell's hair evenly. He brushed some hair from the man's shoulder and started on the other side.
"What are you even going to do when you get 'that' urge?"
Daniel knew what Bell-boy could be like. Taking it out on Alphie was not an option. So who else would suffer? Would Bell just leave and hunt? It depended on Bell-goat. Surely the goat would want the whole extraction to go alright too? It wouldn't push for unnecessary risks.
Not long now. Soon Alphie would be done. Soon everything would be ready. This might be the last time he ever did anything for Bell. Daniel paused and put his hands to Bellwether's shoulders. A sigh left his lips. He didn't want to think about it. Bell felt warm underneath the palms of his hands.
Warm and alive.
"Almost done," he said, voice a bit tighter than usual.
"There," Daniel decided after a while. He wouldn't win any awards as a hairdresser, but it looked decent at least. Better than it was before, in any case.
He'd just been trying to split the labor, not insult Daniel's masculinity in suggesting he put the groceries away. He couldn't help but grin a bit as Daniel lumbered in with one bag anyways. Oh well. Sometimes they needed to feel like a man. He understood. He got like that too, after all. Bell grabbed up the rest, sliding them onto his arms one at a time until he had the whole rest of the load. The trunk slammed shut with a satisfying thump, and he followed Daniel inside.
It felt good to put all the groceries down on the counter, an old-familiar sensation that somehow felt like home. He helped Daniel put stuff away, partially so he'd know where it went for the future. Everyone had a different kitchen setup, after all, a different place to keep stuff. Usually he was raiding the kitchen in the dark of the night instead of helping to stock it, but this was fine too.
Daniel vanished into the bedroom at one point. Bell set the last few items on the countertop and started to follow, only to back up as Daniel returned and carried one of their chairs outside. Goldy blasted in as he headed out and greeted him, then hopped up on her back paws to peer at the bags on the counter. "Empty," Bell told her, squishing one of the bags to show her. Unconvinced, Goldy nosed another bag or two before she was finally convinced.
"Oh yeah, I did," Bell said. He reached into one of the cabinets and broke out a bone-shaped chewy treat thing, something she could gnaw on for a while, then tossed it to her. She snapped it out of the air and carried it away, tail swishing after her, then found herself a place to plop down and give it a good chew.
He walked over to Daniel, stripping out of his shirt and tossing it on the floor just inside. Didn't want to get hair all over his clothes. "Yeah, uh, short on the sides, a little long up top, thanks, barber," he said pompously, then grinned at Daniel and settled down in his chair. "Just make it look presentable," he requested more seriously. He just needed to look like he was seriously searching for a job.
A waste, huh? Daniel pulled some hair in front of his eyes and figured he'd try and untangle it before making a decisive choice. Maybe if it was closer to when he was supposed to get into the tube that he could get Bell-boy to agree.
"Nah, it's okay for a little bit," Daniel dismissed Bell-boy's offer. A comforter would definitely be too much, besides, it'd seen better days, that one. He stifled a yawn and stretched out, trying to stay awake and get some blood pumping. Neither really worked.
Soon they cleared traffic and pulled into their bumpy and uneven driveway. Alphie's car was missing. Daniel guessed that meant she was done for the day. Just as well. He could get another nap in without having to answer any questions and they could finally be themselves again. Maybe that was why having Alphie around bothered Bell-boy more than the whole ordeal back at the facility -because now they had to pretend to be what they weren't. Daniel felt like telling Bell-boy Alphie already knew they were gay, but dismissed the thought.
Bell still had reason plenty to dislike Alphie.
He gave Bell a nod.
"I can carry something," Daniel reasoned. It wasn't as if he was suddenly a cripple for being a little cold. He got out of the car and lumbered to the back, picked one of the bags out and left the rest for Bell-boy to carry. At least he hadn't picked the one with the wrench. Bell-boy could carry that insane idea around himself. Maybe this was a nice time for Bell to officially get his driver's license. Sometimes Daniel forgot Bell-boy didn't have any.
Putting things away was easy, considering they had a lot of space for the things they'd gotten. The fridge was still more than two-thirds empty, even after stowing away all of their groceries.
He toyed with the scissors once everything was put away and finally shuffled over to the bedroom. Might as well get that over with. The comb they'd gotten was in the bathroom, as expected, and Daniel carried it over, grabbed a chair on the way and went out the backdoor. Goldy, enthusiastic and opportunistic, greeted him.
She was more interested in what was in the empty bags that were in the kitchen though.
"Did you get things for the dog?" Daniel pondered casually. She'd be fine on the usual stuff for at least another week or so, but maybe they ought to get her a bone or some treats as well.
"Come sit down, I'll cut your hair," he offered.
It was a good thing Alphie wouldn't stay long. He wouldn't be able to put up with much more of her. If it wasn't a matter of Daniel's life literally hanging in the balance, he'd kick her out forever and never look back. But he couldn't do that. He had to be patient.
The streets were busy at this time of day. He checked the clock; of course. Rush hour. It'd be a slow ride home. All the more time to let Alphie clear out.
"Oh yeah, blondie," Bell said. They had to find her alone somehow. The one surefire way he could think of was to hang around the hunters' base, but then they'd be, well, around the hunters' base, and they'd already pushed their luck enough there, in his opinion. Maybe they could intercept her on her way to Alphie, or something. Wouldn't quite get much alonetime, but they'd at least have her full, undivided attention for a minute or two.
He nodded at the suggestion Daniel cut his hair, but pouted at the suggestion that he cut Daniel's. "If you really want," he said reluctantly. "It's so pretty it's a waste, though." It'd grow back in the tube, sure, but it wasn't like he'd be able to touch it while Daniel was in there. He'd just get to look. And that was sad enough.
Was Daniel cold? He didn't have the A/C up high, though. Well, that was probably the fever, wasn't it. He sighed. Just as soon as Daniel had started getting over the last bout of goat-sickness, he'd gone ahead and made the guy teleport all over again. Should've just bonked the guard on the head and ran out. But then who knew? Maybe there would've been hunters in the base. Maybe they'd be more injured. Maybe the hunters would've been alerted to their presence, and they would've had to be more careful about moving around. He didn't know. He didn't know if it was the right choice. But it'd worked, right?
"I think the comforter's still in the back, if you're cold," Bell offered.
It wasn't much further to home, in any case. He pulled into the driveway, grimacing at the bump and bounce of the potholes, then parked. Alphie's car was nowhere to be seen, just like Daniel had predicted. Bell put the car into park and let out a little sigh of relief. Good.
"You head in, I'll carry the groceries in and you can help put 'em away," Bell suggested as he climbed out of the car. So mundane. So ordinary. It was a weird feeling. And Daniel thought he could do this... forever? For the rest of his life? He bit his lip, thinking. Did he even want to?
"Maybe... Shit went down back at home -the shit we successfully avoided by crossing the ocean on a goat," Daniel sighed out. He remembered that day vividly; some of the goat's memories of a distant past were still etched quite firmly into his mind. Not that he cared, it was a precious gift from a being so much more than him.
"Sounded like it was a while ago though," he said with a shrug.
Even though he'd given his mother the address, he trusted her not to get him into even more trouble. Hopefully they'd leave this place before her conscious could bear on her too heavily.
"Oh, right, for... work," Daniel muttered. He hadn't even realized. Maybe he ought to leave the device in Bell-boy's care then. Well, it'd have to be regardless. He stared ahead as Bell-boy got the groceries checked out and followed behind once they had everything loaded in bags.
"Yeah, I don't think she'll stay that long. She's got work tomorrow and everything after all," he said with a yawn. He almost stepped in on the wrong side of the car, before he realized Bell-boy would be driving. He'd been feeling okay, mostly.
Just a bit feverish, was all. Not being on the move definitely helped his recovery. Regular meals did too.
"Still need to find ourselves a nurse," Daniel offered after a while.
He leaned back in the seat and stared ahead, watching the houses and streets drift by. "Want me to cut your hair when we're home?" he said, just making casual conversation. "Saw you bought scissors."
Together with the comb they'd gotten before, he could actually give Bell-boy a decent cut. And maybe untangle his own. Shampoo only went so far and he hadn't really paid it any attention today. Daniel pulled the mirror down and ran his hair back, trying to gather how bad a state it was. Maybe they just ought to visit a proper hair-dresser, the both of them.
"You going to cut mine?"
Last time he'd suggested that, Bell-boy had been firmly against. "I mean, it'll grow back in the tube, I imagine," Daniel said with a shrug. He flipped the mirror back and folded his arms. The air-conditioning in the car was making him feel weirdly cold.
At the sound of the familiar voice, Bell turned, a smile already spreading over his face. "Not yet," he said jokingly. "But soon enough I will be."
"She won't... narc?" he said, a little concerned. It was Daniel's mother. She was probably used to him being him, right? But she was also a law-abiding citizen. And what if they'd tapped her phone or something?
Bell took a deep breath. He was just being paranoid. Everything should be okay. They'd needed to get Daniel's prescription one way or another, and this was probably the least traceable one. He could believe that much.
"Nice to have a phone, though," he said, on a positive note. For getting a job, too; you called for that stuff, right? Or they called you back. He frowned. Something. He wasn't exactly clear on the details.
He followed Daniel to the checkout and took the card. The clerk greeted him, and he gave her a curt nod and took care of the money. He didn't really feel like interacting with people who weren't Daniel. Alphie had already drained his thin patience and he didn't have much left in the tank, between the stress of worrying about Daniel and everything else. He led the way outside with the bags and started loading them into the car. It was obvious he'd drive back, the way Daniel had been all day. It was fine. He'd have to get used to it soon enough anyways.
"If I don't have to cook for Alphie, it's all good," he said, half joking. This day felt wasted, but at the same time, there wasn't much he could do. Even if he'd gone out and done the best he could to help Daniel, he wouldn't be able to do much more than just help Alphie, and she'd already claimed he'd be no help. "Hope she's gone," he said as an afterthought. He was done with her.
And he still had another couple of months, at the least, to put up with her while Daniel was under. He grimaced as he started up the car and rove out of the lot. That was motivation enough to get a job, right there, hot damn. If he had to sit around Alphie all day, he'd die.
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