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Bell frowned, confused, face twitching between distress and confusion. "Bring out...?" Surely there had to be a better way to do that. They swapped all the time without grievous bodily harm. "It's not okay! Landon!"
The man faded in front of him. For a second, Bell thought he'd just watched the man die, but then he jumped back to life. Daniel. He could tell even before the man cursed out his other half. The expressions, the intensity, it was all different. That, and he helped Bell hold in his blood.
"Would that help?" he asked. If he killed himself. Should he? He'd been thinking about it earlier. He didn't want to see them in pain like this.
Not... no one? Bell stared at Daniel. What? Then, what was he? Part of a whole? Pieces? "So I'm... part of the real thing?" he said. Something released, inside of him. Some of the fear, the tension. He deflated, somehow exhausted. He was real. He was their Bell.
Daniel sagged in the chair. Bell hesitated. He picked up Daniel and carried him to the bed, laying him down like he'd asked for. He tied the towel tighter around the man's arm. Daniel looked so pale. So... gray. His breathing seemed softer than usual. Was he dying? He looked so ill. Bell glanced around. What did he do? Could he do anything?
[i Don't kill yourself.] He looked Daniel over again. Was he... dying? He'd kill himself if it meant saving Daniel. Worried, he tightened the towel again, then took a deep breath. [i First things first.] He'd save Daniel by any means, if he had to. But he'd start at what he could do, right now. One last time, he checked on Daniel. Still breathing. Okay.
Bell turned and ran. Out the hotel, out into the cold. He shivered as he fumbled the key into the keyhole. [i First aid kit, first aid...] There. Back to the hotel.
It felt like he'd been away for hours. Bell bent over Daniel and checked his breathing. Was he paler? Shit.
One thing after another. Disinfect first. Wipe the blood away. Stitch the wounds. Pack with gauze and wrap.
Bell sat back. His hands were covered in Daniel's blood. Landon's blood. He breathed out. What was this? [i Damnit.] He'd been up ten minutes, and he'd already had enough for the day. Tiredly, he wiped his forehead with the back of his wrist. Now he'd just wait and watch. If Daniel went south, he'd-- he'd kill himself. There had to be a reason Daniel had told him not to.
Bell. Bell's voice at least. Landon looked up, but it felt like he was wading through water, which was exactly what he'd hoped for. It couldn't be long until Daniel took over now. He blinked when Bell was suddenly in his face, snapping at him to hold his shit together. The knife was gone. Towels were pressed against his arm, against the cut. Pain registered, but it felt distant.
"I was going to... going to bring out Daniel," Landon explained sluggishly. He felt tired for some reason. No, not just any reason. He'd cut himself. It'd seemed like the best things to do.
"It, it'll be okay," Landon eased. Bell's eyes were wide and blue, so blue. It all seemed so real. And then he stalled, for a split-second Landon almost paused, before his body twitched back to life.
Daniel blinked down at the bloodied arm, covered by a stained towel.
"Little fucker," Daniel chewed out sluggishly. He moved the useless hand that Bell-boy had wrestled the knife from and helped Bell put pressure on the cuts. A chuckle escaped from his throat.
"Lenny's a little mother-fucker," he spat under his breath. "Fuck," Daniel cursed. He'd lost a considerable amount of blood already. Shit like this went faster, it was always faster than he thought. He didn't think he could stand without fainting. Daniel closed his eyes and felt the lull of sleep tempt him into a deeper state of consciousness.
He fought it.
"Don't even think about it," Daniel chewed out. "Don't you think about killing yourself," he mumbled. Bell-boy remembered enough, or had enough of a resonance with the greater whole, to remember that shit. Lenny had gotten it wrong, but then so had Bell-boy.
"You're part of a bigger whole," he sighed out. "You're not no-one. Y're just... split up," Daniel ventured. It felt like him, in a way. All split up. Just in more pieces. "We'll find out what those fuckers did and fix it," he eased.
"I need to lie down," Daniel started. He'd pass out for real if he kept seated like this. He needed for more blood to go to his heart and brain. Thinking was becoming somewhat challenging.
Slowly but surely, Daniel found himself sagging in the chair, losing the battle with reality as it threatened to fade out in a grey haze. Sound turned to noise, thoughts to static. It was peaceful. He didn't even mind it much.
In the end, he turned the water warm and finished his shower quickly. It was a shit pile, all of this. He wanted to go, but he couldn't leave. He wasn't heartless enough to leave the two of them alone when that meant they'd probably kill themselves.
[i The hell is this mess,] he thought, tiredly. Why was his life so messed up? He couldn't do anything right. Even at Haven, he'd been wrong, wrong, wrong over everything he did. Daniel had finally said he was right, but no, not anymore. Nothing was right, nothing was fine. He didn't belong anywhere.
Bell toweled himself off roughly and got dressed, every motion twice as aggressive as it needed to be. He hesitated at the door, then sighed and gripped the doorknob. Had to face the music one day. Might as well be now.
He stepped out. Landon was bent over in the corner, busy with something. Bell peered over. "What're you--"
Blood. So much blood. He froze for just a second, then dove for Landon. Careless of his own safety, he grabbed at the knife, wrestled it away from Landon. The second it was in his hand, he threw it away, out of reach. Landon was still bleeding. He applied pressure to the cut and looked around. Something--anything. There had to be something to staunch the bleeding. The first aid kit--was still in the car. Towel! He snatched it from around Landon's neck and wrapped it tightly around the cuts.
"Shit, Landon!" he snapped. "C'mon, hold it together, man! We've gotta-- I can't do this alone, you've gotta help me!" He was breathing quickly, his heart racing. He cast around the room, as if there was anything here that could help him. Nothing. There was nothing at all. He was alone. As ever.
Bell looked Landon in the eye at last, looked his face over. How pale was he? Was he even awake? Shit. He was trembling from nerves, absolutely on edge. "Landon, please," he muttered, pushing down harder on the cuts. There had to be something he could do. Something to keep Landon alive.
[i The goat.]
His heart beat faster. But he wasn't the right one. What if it killed him this time? He bit his lip. No, before that, what would a goat do to help? He wrinkled his brows. Why... Why did he... why did that feel right?
'No one'. Daniel watched the closed door and blinked. No one. Anger, hurt, betrayal, concern, sadness, confusion; they all vied for attention and Landon didn't know how to peel them all apart, so they remained in his chest, balled up and convoluted. A symbol. So Daniel hadn't killed Bellwether. Landon furrowed his brow. Symbols. He'd drawn some, at some point, whenever the goat had healed him using its blood. He felt hungover. Daniel had been drinking. Not enough. Too much. And he'd fought. Old blood was on his coat, but there were fresher patches on his sleeves. Landon looked down at his trembling hands and took in the scuff-marks and bruises there.
But they hadn't died. They'd fought with their fists. If Daniel had brought out Bellwether's goat, whichever that one was, it hadn't killed them at the very least. So it didn't mean them any harm. It hadn't done anything in their favour either, but it'd have been remarkably easy to kill Daniel for a goat, if his guard was down. But he'd intentionally done that. Bell looked okay, so it couldn't have been overly taxing. So most likely, that goat hadn't been harmed either.
Was it Spot?
Sinewy-goat? He wasn't Daniel, so he wouldn't know. It had to be Daniel now, but he'd been drinking and fighting. Whatever he'd learned, it was no good. And what Bell said haunted him: 'I'll stay with you until we find the real one'. So where was the real Bell? He couldn't just leave the man. He simply couldn't. Even as confused as he was, at least that much was clear. And the real Bellwether would consider this betrayal. Daniel had already consummated whatever non-relationship they'd had.
Landon let himself sink on the bed, arm against his chest to keep things in place there. It hurt. He hurt, inside and out. And now he'd angered this Bellwether with his doubts to boot. Landon looked at the injuries again. If he hurt himself enough, Daniel would come out. He had to. Landon stood and rifled through Bell's coat until his fingers curled around the cold metal of Bell's knife.
Daniel had talked to the other goat. It must've told him things.
He sat down and pressed the cool blade against his shower-warmed skin.
Kill him? Bell blinked at Landon, then shook his head. No. Daniel hadn't killed him. "He did..." he drew a symbol in the air. A vague approximation of what Daniel had done. "I can't remember it, but he drew something. And then..." He shrugged. And then he woke up, and everything had gone to shit.
"I don't know!" he exclaimed. Then, quieter, "I don't know." He didn't know anything. What Daniel had saw. What he was. Who he was. All he knew was that he didn't deserve to be here, and he was trying to get out.
He spun around in the doorframe of the bathroom. "How can I ask him? He's not... you're not..." He couldn't ask someone who wasn't there. No matter how much they wanted Daniel, he wouldn't appear unless he wanted to. He was obviously not happy about things right now, so why would he appear? It wasn't fair, it was awful, but there was no way he could make Daniel appear and answer their questions.
He rubbed his face, frustrated. There were tears, somewhere deep down, threatening to come out, which was ridiculous, because none of this was real. Not a second of it. "I don't know! I don't know anything! Stop asking things I can't answer!"
[i Who are you.] He stared at Landon, betrayed. Weren't they the ones who'd told him who he was? Weren't they the ones who'd decided he was theirs, when he could've been happy and oblivious in Haven? Wasn't it their fault everything had gone wrong?
[i Damn it. Damn it all.] He yanked free of Landon's grip. "No one," he snarled, and retreated into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
The second it was done, he knew he'd done the wrong thing. He stared at the back of the door, chest heaving, heart still racing, anger and adrenaline all mixed up inside him. [i I should apologize,] he thought, reached for the door--then spun on his heel and stalked deeper into the small room. It wasn't deep enough for it to feel satisfying. Bell, [i or whoever I am], yanked off his clothes angrily. The drum of water beating the floor of the shower sounded like a tempest, like the driving rain of a thunderstorm. The hot water was too comfortable. He spun the knob and turned it icy to match his mood, until he had to gasp for air. [i Shit. Fuck.] It was so stupid, all of this. All of it. If he'd never met them, if he'd, if they'd--
He rested his head against the wall. His back ached with the cold. Icy water bounced off his skin like hail. Damn it. He was glad he'd been taken from Haven. And he'd liked them. Daniel, at least. But there was no chance from the start, because he wasn't anyone. Just another pile of shit.
[i No wonder Daniel tried to kill me,] he thought, and laughed. Should've finished the job while he had the chance.
"I'm..." Landon sighed, then waved away the question. He wasn't okay. Most of yesterday was missing, he had injuries from fights he didn't recall and felt hungover on booze he didn't remember drinking. Landon shook himself at Bell's question, "Landon," he corrected the other man, appreciating how difficult it could be to keep the two of them apart without any knowledge of their personalities.
At that answer, Bell crumpled back on the bed and Landon approached quietly, dabbing at some wet spots. Not the real one? A fake? An icy cold sensation froze him in his spot.
"You're not-...?" Something had felt off, but he'd heard the cogs. Landon was one hundred percent certain he'd heard them. Daniel had- had checked? How?
"Did he kill you?" Landon blurted out. It was out before he could even stop himself. And Daniel hadn't liked it. Bell didn't know what Daniel had seen.
"I don't remember," he started. "I don't remember what happened yesterday after you took over driving," Landon stammered. One hand was curled tightly around the towel slung casually across his shoulders. This wasn't Bellwether-goat? So who was it then? Another goat? One with Bell's shell?
Until they found the real one?
"You don't think or whatever? Which is it?" Landon started, heart skipping a beat. What was this? No. No, it made sense for Bellwether not to remember what was going on if he was a newly born shell. He should've known from the start. Should've gotten the goat out somehow. Should've- should've...
But Daniel had. And now neither him nor Bell knew what Daniel had seen, only that the man had been upset.
"No, no, you've got to ask Daniel, Bell... Bell, you've got to ask him what he's seen," Landon started, following Bell towards the bathroom the second the man let go. "He must be wrong," he ventured. Daniel wasn't exactly the most reliable source.
"Then where- how am I ever going to find the 'real' one? That's... how am I even?" Landon stumbled over his words, emotions mingling together to create a colourful chaos he couldn't quite make sense of no more. It was too much. He had Bell back, but he didn't and now it wasn't even Bellwether-goat either. He was in pain and not even mentally stable after months of therapy. Landon reached out for Bell's hand, but it wasn't Bell. He looked up at the man's face. But they looked so much alike.
"Then who are you?"
Nowhere to be seen. They were gone. Bell's heart pounded. He pressed his hand to the depression on the bed beside him; still warm. Not far. His coat was still here, too. If he ran, maybe he could catch them yet--
The bathroom door creaked open, and there they were. Wet hair, half dressed. His mind raced with possibilities before he forced himself to be reasonable. They'd taken a shower. They'd gotten up first and taken a shower. Nothing had happened.
"Are you, are you okay?" he asked, sliding out from under the covers. "Landon? Daniel?" He checked them over, but there was nothing new. No new marks, just the same old bruises and black eye from last night.
He sagged back onto the bed, crumpling to a seat. Bell took a deep breath, then hid his face in his hands. What was he supposed to say? Damn it. It was hard. Trying to figure this out. He didn't even have the whole picture.
"I'm not--I'm not the real one. I don't think," he said abruptly. Had to spit it out, or it'd never come out. "Daniel wanted to check last night, and then..." he gestured at Landon. The bruises. The hangover. The mess. "I don't know what he saw, but it wasn't good."
Bell reached out and snagged Landon by the wrist before he could recoil. "But don't--don't leave. I'll watch over you until..." [i until what?] "until we find the real one, or... whatever."
He had nothing. But he could at least do Daniel the favor of making sure he didn't hurt himself until they found the real one. If that was how it worked. He felt so empty. Bell hugged his arms to his chest. Everything was spilling out of him like sand. His place, his name, his past, everything. He was nothing but an empty void. Black as the night. Utterly pitch black. "You were right. I'm not... anything to you. I'm sorry."
Bell breathed out, then stood. He should probably get washed up, too. He was dirty and salty from falling in the snow last night. He hesitated and looked back at Landon. Would he still be here when he got out?
Nothing he could do if the man decided to leave. Bell breathed out and stepped into the bathroom. If he was alone when he was done, then so be it.
It was quiet the next time he woke. Still the same hotel. He recalled at least that still. Landon stretched out and was met with another warm body in the bed. Bellwether. For a moment he stalled, then allowed himself a rare smile at the sight of the sleeping man. His face didn't seem as peaceful however. Landon brushed it off and carefully sat up. He felt a little more like himself than before, but he'd still some ways to go. His head especially made it feel as if he was stuck in a pool, the finer lines of reality swimming gently in front of his eyes. Nothing as worrying as last night however, not that he recalled much of it.
Daniel might've gotten them back. Or Bell. Bell had been there. Landon certainly did not recall falling asleep in bed. Or taking his shoes and coat off. He sighed out and carefully shifted from the bed, placing one careful foot after the other. Much of him was sore beyond reckoning. His head and chest in particular felt like they'd been mangled.
Landon regarded Bell, but didn't have the heart to wake the man. It was late. Or early. Either way they'd slept the day away, pretty much. He made his way to the bathroom and started the shower. First things first. Time to shake the remnant hangover and get himself cleaned up. Whatever Daniel had done last night and for whatever reason, it'd left a few marks. His eye was turning an interesting and sickeningly yellow-green around the angry red marks left there by someone else's fists.
His chest felt compacted and he struggled between pain and air. Landon slowly peeled away the shoddy wraps around his knuckles. Dried blood caked the fabric into the injuries and Landon sighed. He undressed and decided to use the warm shower to help soak them off rather than pull anything open.
There was nothing.
No matter how much he searched, all Landon remembered was checking in to the hotel. No, not even that, though it must've happened. Driving though. He recalled driving them somewhere. And then they'd bought some take-out and Bell had driven them elsewhere. Landon washed his hair, mindful of the exposed stitches. When he stepped out, dressed in a shirt and boxers, Bell was already up, searching fretfully.
"You okay?" Landon pitched. "Morning," he followed up softly. His head still hurt, even after the shower, though he felt somewhat human again.
Relief flooded through him. They were there. Securely tucked away in bed, all safe and sound. Bell collapsed internally, crumbling in on himself like a balloon losing air. They were safe. Everything was alright.
"There's a..." he gestured vaguely. Landon's eye was turning all sorts of interesting colors. Someone had punched him, last night, while Bell wasn't there to keep him safe. That alone felt like a punch to the gut, like he'd betrayed Landon by not being there.
Come back to bed. He shifted, uncomfortable. How could he? He wasn't Landon's Bell. They were right to hate him. But it looked so nice and warm. And he was so tired. He could keep track of them by being right next to them too, couldn't he? "Can I?" he mumbled to himself. Should he?
It might be his last chance.
He took a breath, then kicked out of his boots and crawled in beside Landon. If it was his last chance, he wasn't going to leave it behind. He didn't hold Landon, but he did grab the man's shirt tight. It hadn't worked the first time, but he'd never be able to relax if he didn't have some kind of a hold on Landon. "Don't leave yet," he muttered. He'd keep track of them until the real one came back. Make sure everyone was delivered safe and sound.
What else could he do? What else was he supposed to do? Landon, Daniel, they went out at night and got in trouble where he couldn't do a thing about it. He was powerless.
He fell asleep again, but it was fitful. The emptiness ate at him. The more he was aware of it, the less he felt he had, as if the darkness was tearing him apart. He was falling too pieces. Decaying away to nothing. He gasped for air, but it pulled him under, a great sea of darkness waiting to rip him apart. With all his might, he fought his way up, but the pull was too strong. He sagged back under, vanishing under the waves.
Bell woke with a start. He spun in place, searching for Landon, Daniel, either one. How could he just fall asleep again? How stupid was he? He had to keep an eye on them at all times right now.
Nightmares filtered through. Landon fought the blankets, the oppressive heat, then the pain. Exhaustion pinned him down at last. He'd kicked off the majority of the blankets, but hadn't woken up. The rags Daniel must've bound around his hands only barely managed to keep the blood from staining the sheets. The shiner was taking on interesting hues. By the time rustling woke him up however, Landon felt clear-headed.
The fog that'd gripped him tight several hours back had lifted. In its stead was pain. Literally everything was sore. Landon furrowed his brow and blinked at the light gushing in through the window. The brightness stabbed straight through his retina, into his skull. One of his eyes in particular wasn't having it. Landon closed it again and groaned, then caught sight of Bell.
There was an expression on Bell's face he couldn't quite place.
"Something on my face?" he breathed. Yesterday was a blur of colours, meshed together memories and abstract ideas. He wasn't even sure whether any of it had happened, but Bellwether's expression said it all; he'd been out and about, having an episode, and possibly drinking to boot. Not as much as he had that night at the ski-resort, apparently. Enough to feel a little off.
More than a little.
Landon wasn't sure what'd happened the other night, but it'd effected Bell too. The man looked sickly. He didn't remember.
"Come back to bed," Landon mumbled softly, and sighed into his pillow. His eyes closed as if on their own accord. If he felt this shitty without moving, he didn't want to try moving around just yet. Landon could already tell he had some new bruises and the old ones hadn't gotten the rest they deserved.
If bruises were all it was, he'd be fine. Sore, but fine.
There was something he was supposed to remember. Landon tried and gave up.
He didn't even know where to start. He felt sick. It'd be better if Daniel took over, but as always, the man was nowhere to be found. Owning up to the consequences of his actions wasn't something Daniel did.
"Won't bite," he muttered with a sigh, trying to convince Bell it'd be fine. He wasn't suddenly going to try anything to make the man uncomfortable. He wasn't Daniel.
The hotel room's door swung open. Not far, because it hit against something just inside the door. A body. Bell lunged, tripped over his own feet, stumbled against the doorframe. Caught himself. Wriggled through. Fell to his knees. They were here. They were alive.
Landon's hands were bloodied and his eyes were shut. The cut looked uglier without the wrapping. One eye was swelled up. Bell grabbed his hand tight and pressed it to his lips. Held on as tight as he could. He'd almost lost them. He couldn't. He had to protect them, until they could find the real one.
He did every lock on the door. If they escaped again, he'd hear it this time. Carried them to the bed. It was a slow slog. His legs trembled. His head ached. With effort, he thumped them down on the bed. Took their shoes and hid them out of sight. Took their jacket and hung it up. Tucked them under the sheets, tight as he could. Anything to slow them down, even just a little.
The hotel door opened inward, into the room. He walked over and laid down against it, his back pressed up against the metal door. It wasn't comfortable, but there was no way anyone could open the door without it jutting into his back. He'd wake up for sure. No doubt about it. Fully clothed, he curled up there on the floor, a pillow under his head and a spare sheet from one of the cabinets wrapped around him. No escape. There'd be no escape at all.
He fell asleep quickly. He was too exhausted not to. Nothing awaited him. No dreams. How could he dream? He was empty. Hollow. All there was, was a sense of loss. The fear he would lose even more than he had. At least Landon, at least Daniel, he'd protect them until they found the real one. He was nothing.
[i Come find me.]
Bell jolted awake. He sat up, put a hand to the wall. Looked at the door. Was it locked? It was locked, right? It had to be. They couldn't have escaped again. He stood. A corner stood between him and the bed. Bell reached out and grabbed it, caught his breath. Pushed around the corner. He stared at the bed. They were there, right?
"Sir? Sir? We're here?"
Landon blinked awake, stared numbly at the guy and where he was at. A hotel. A shoddy wrap around his knuckles prevented blood from staining the expensive taxi. He furrowed his brow.
"Y'already paid, go on. 's your stop," the man invited him and Landon reached for the door, clumsily stepped out and teetered on his feet. The world swayed in a drunken way. The taxi drove off. Landon glanced back, but it was already gone. The twist caused him to over-balance and he swayed in place, trying to keep his balance.
He wasn't sure whether he'd been sleeping or whether it'd been Daniel taking over. Lost didn't come close to describing how he felt. Landon searched his pockets again and found the key-card to their room. Hopefully this was that same hotel, otherwise he'd be screwed. But Bellwether would be in there.
He stepped forward, a move he wasn't making that seemed strangely out of his control. The taste of copper was still on his tongue. There was blood, but he couldn't feel the pain. He didn't feel anything. Actually, it was a pretty comfortable place to be.
Landon squinted at the little card he held to try and make out the room-number, took a deep breath and steeled himself. Okay. Yeah, Bell was in there, but he needed to help him. Or maybe not. Or at least do the respectful thing and tell him what was going on. Or sleep. Sleep first, maybe. He was tired.
The hotel's heating caught him by surprise. It beat against him the second he stepped inside and it was as if the heat was the first thing to break the barrier of numbness that'd been erected. Pins and needles assaulted his hands and feet as he drunkenly staggered into the elevator. He ran his hand across several of the buttons without aim and rested against the beam until the light blinked at his room's floor.
The fuck was he going to tell Bell?
Sleep. He'd sleep first.
If he ever found his room. Their room. A room.
After what felt like an eternity, his card made a door click and open. Landon watched the door and rested against the post. He didn't want to go in. His knees buckled and he slumped down to rest against the wall. He'd sleep here.
"A blonde guy. British accent, bandages on his head? He had a cut on his forehead."
The bartender's brow furrowed. Bell swayed, caught hold of the bar, and stopped himself. Why'd they have to go make him sick before they ran off? Couldn't they have taken him with them?
"You alright, buddy?" the bartender asked.
Bell waved them away. It didn't matter. He needed to find them.
The first three bars had been a bust. The last one he wasn't even sure if anyone had heard him, the music was so loud. Either way, there'd been no Landon and Daniel, so he'd moved on.
"I saw that guy," the bartender said at last. "Seemed a little..." he shrugged.
"He needs to take his meds," Bell said. It wasn't quite a lie.
Bartender grimaced. "Better hurry up and find him. He left hours ago."
[i Shit.] Bell breathed out. If they were that far ahead of him... he swayed again, staggered back this time. How long had he slept for? How much of a head start had they gotten?
At least he knew they'd come to a bar. [i Which means they're going to pass out soon.] He grimaced deeper. [i Goddamn it.] Why were they being such shitheads right now? This was the worst.
"Right, thanks," he muttered, and pushed away from the bar. He was on Landon's trail. Hours too late, but at least it was something.
[i What if they're already dead?]
Bell stumbled against the wall. It was icy cold outside. The wind lashed against his face. It could be too late already. There was no guarantee they were out there at all.
He took a deep breath, then pushed off and stumbled out into the night again. He'd find them. He had to.
But there were no clues. None of the other bars had seen him. Someone thought they'd seen someone like him at the bus stop, but he was gone by the time Bell got there.
Dawn peeked over the horizon. Exhausted, fingers and toes numb, feet aching from the cold, Bell wandered back to the hotel. Maybe they'd come back. Maybe they were at the hotel. It was his only hope. If they weren't at the hotel, it was all over.
It was cold out, but he didn't feel it. Snow lined the street, his breath came in small little huffs. People looked at him, but they didn't at the same time. Blackness, it was everywhere. All of them were goats. Landon realized he didn't have his bat. Maybe it was just as well. He wouldn't be able to take them all on. He'd forgotten why he was out on the streets in the first place. The void he'd experienced before was slowly dissolving into the faint knowledge that Daniel would always take the worst truths upon himself, so that at least one of them could carry on being normal. Not that they were normal by any stretch of thought.
Landon tried to keep an even pace, but it was difficult. Even if it'd only been one beer -something he couldn't say for certain- it was colliding with the medicine he recalled they'd taken earlier. Or had that been several hours ago? Either way Landon found himself shuffling by slowly, hand against a wall that seemed to give, trying to carefully place one foot in front of another.
When it became too much, Landon decided to call quits at a bus-stop and sat down heavily. Even sat down like this, he had trouble keeping upright or from swaying into the plexi-glass wall. Landon closed his eyes, just for a second.
When he opened them again, he wasn't quite at the bus-stop.
"Fuck," he breathed. Why was he losing so much time? His knuckles hurt. He'd been fighting? Landon glanced down at his hands, which were shaky. He felt a little more stable, but not by much. It was still night. Still dark. Was it still the same night? Landon felt the stitches, reassuring himself that they were still there and that it couldn't have been long. Probably hadn't been more than several hours, at best.
His eye felt sore now as well. He wanted to sleep. The hotel. Hadn't they rented out a hotel? Landon rested his back against the nearest wall and searched his coat. The card was there, but the address danced and weaved in front of his eyes. He tasted blood.
It wasn't even anything new. Landon laughed, softly. He'd done this before, several times when he'd still been under treatment. Usually they'd give him sedatives until the chemical storm inside his head quieted down. He sagged a little, tipping his head back. What was he even doing out here? A taxi. Right. He'd get a taxi back to the hotel. Or something.
It was a nice thought, but there were too many footprints in the snow. He could only follow their tracks for so long before they turned into mush, the snow gave out, or they were overwritten by someone else's tracks. Bell staggered back against a wall and caught his breath. He didn't feel feverish anymore, but it was wearing on him anyways. His breath came short, and his head throbbed when he moved, but it all faded away when he felt how hollow he was inside. There was nothing. He was nothing. Nothing could not be hurt, or sick, or tired. It just was.
He didn't know what to do. Bell pushed off the wall. He circled the parking lot again, slowly, each step taking too much effort. His breath clouded in the crisp night air. The snow crunched underfoot, halfway to ice. No Landon. No Daniel. Where were they?
He'd lost them. They were gone. They'd never been his. No--he had to keep them safe. Until the real him could come back, they had to stay safe. Until the emptiness was full. He couldn't leave them alone. Couldn't rest.
The edge of the sidewalk grabbed the toe of his boot. Bell stumbled and sprawled into the snow. It puffed up around him, his landing so heavy the newest powder was startled into the air. He laid there, defeated. What was he doing? They were gone, they'd left him. They didn't want him. There was no point in moping about. No point in searching. Snow melted against his breath. Icy water ran down the front of his coat. Bell growled at his own pathetic self and pushed himself up. He had to find them. He had to.
He shoved up, determined. Where would Daniel go? The bars, probably. Where would Landon go? ... He was screwed if it was Landon. He wiped the melted snow off his face. He'd head out to the bars. He'd seen them on the way in, he knew where they were. If they weren't there, he'd give up and spend his last night inside, instead. So determined, he stomped off into the night.
Streetlights bounced off the snow, bright enough to dazzle, intermittently turning the streets from night to day. Ahead, the bright lights of the bars glowed, beckoning him in. He staggered on, eyes open for Daniel.
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