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The... the pretty one? Bell frowned at Daniel, confused. What part of him was pretty? The world was doing this wobbly thing at the edges that made it extremely difficult to focus on anything for long, so it was good that Daniel was being peaceful. Weird, but peaceful. Did he not need the pen? Distractedly, he set the pen back down on the nightstand. Everything could go south at any moment, but it was nice that things were peaceful for now. He sat back down beside Daniel and stroked his hair absentmindedly. There was something about the man's gaze that was uncomfortably piercing, but he'd take that over violence or fear. "Hey there," he murmured softly. He didn't expect Daniel to reply, but that was fine.
Water? He looked at Cat as well, then groped behind him. Water. He'd brought water to the bed. It should be somewhere around here... oh, there. It was mostly empty, but there was still something to drink; he twisted the cap open and took a sip. Daniel seemed to be looking at Cat now. The bed shifted, and Bell jumped, ready to restrain Daniel, but there was really no need. Daniel barely made it up off the bed before he was collapsing back into it.
We're all here, was it? "Yep," Bell agreed, trying not to yawn. He wasn't wrong, at least. And at least Daniel seemed to accept them being here. He wasn't sure Daniel knew who any of them were, and he suspected the man had no earthly idea where they were, but he certainly wasn't afraid of them.
Daniel's eyes turned back toward him, but they had a distant, glossy sheen to them that made him suspect Daniel wasn't seeing him, or even looking at him. "Shh," he whispered, hushing Daniel gently. As long as he could stay calm, everything would be alright.
A hand found his shoulder, drooped down and touched his arm. "Hey," he said, not really sure what was going on. Daniel seemed to be happy just touching him, lost a million miles away on a goat-trip. He patted Daniel's hand in return, starting to feel a little drowsy himself. Without the adrenaline to keep him going, it was hard to fight the fever and the urge to sleep. He blinked, wobbling on the spot as he fought sleep off. He had to stay awake. Daniel might act up. He had to stay awake.
Somehow the pull was different this time. Daniel cracked open his eyes, sensitive to the light. The room wasn't even that bright. What the hell? What was wrong with him? Reality shivered in and out of focus, each molecule precious and intricate, woven together with the others. Chaos and perfection at the same time. Rather than a contrast, the two seemed perfectly fine to coexist.
To Daniel's puny mind, it was incomprehensibly complex.
But he recognized Bell-boy, if not because his molecules lined up perfectly underneath an imperfect shell. A smile glossed over his lips.
"You're the pretty one," Daniel mumbled, voice barely above a whisper. His eyes were distant, staring at Bell, but not quite. Beyond Bell, perhaps. At his core.
Keeping his eyes open was hard. They were so heavy and closing them was an extremely gratifying sensation.
"...are...are you thirsty? There's water?" Cat tried.
What was the pen for anyway? Her eyes shot from Daniel to Bellwether and back. This was weird.
Daniel's eyes landed on Cat and he watched her like he had Bell-boy. Pretty too. Just different, like Sinewy-goat. He had to get up. See more. Daniel tried, but his head spun and reality contorted to a mixture of colours and meshed up shapes, all conglomerating into one being. One life. One.
Everything was one and seperate at the same time.
He was part of that and still unique.
Still alone. The bed pulled him back in somehow.
"I'm not sure you should be getting up," Cat warned. She'd fetched Daniel some water, but was unsure whether he even knew where he was.
Or who he was.
"Do you know where we are?"
Daniel opened his eyes, which were glossy and distant, before focussing on Bell. Where? Did it matter where they were?
"We're all here," he croaked.
Cat just rolled her eyes. "He's lost it."
One hand reached out for Bell-boy's figure and landed somewhere on the man's shoulder, sagged and then ended on the man's arm. Felt like perfection. The textures of leather and skin rivetting to the touch. As if he was creating a chemical reaction just by forcing their molecules, their existence, to meet and collide.
There was no end and no beginning. They were all one being, breathing in sync.
Dreams filtered through his head one after another, none of them particularly coherent or sensible, more feverish and wild. Shapes gyrated, one turning into another into another, the whole world squirming and reshaping in a way that made him want to puke, if only he could figure out where his body was; he, too, was gyrating and turning, shaping and reshaping, solid one moment, liquid the next, unformed, unfinished, wobbling between two realities. Something wet and cool pressed against his forehead, and he twitched, fighting for awareness. Daniel? Was it Daniel? But he couldn't make it all the way up; sleep was a heavy weight that held him down, forced his eyes shut, and he sunk back to sleep without breaking through to reality.
Something pulled on his arm. He looked up, and she looked down at him with a concerned look. "Wake up! Come on, you have to wake up!" she said. He frowned at her. Why? What was so important? Why did he have to wake up? But he... he felt like she was right. There [i was] something, he just couldn't--couldn't quite remember. His head felt full of cotton. Maybe if he just went back to sleep...
Daniel. Something about Daniel. Daniel was...
Shit, right! Daniel was delusional and high on goat's blood--not exactly a safe place for him where Bell could quietly sleep the way he'd been sleeping. His eyes shot open at last, and Bell sat bolt upright, ready to leap on an escaping Daniel. Instead, he found Daniel still in the throes of awakening, not quite back with reality. But he was waking up. Cat was standing nearby, and he looked at her, confused, then realized that she was probably the reason he was awake. He nodded his thanks and pushed his hair back. What--what next? Daniel was going to be high, which meant... which meant... Did Daniel draw, or was that just Landon? Either way, they should be prepared. "Um, a pen," he muttered, staring at the bed; he looked up at Cat, making eye contact suddenly, his eyes a little wild from fever. "A pen, a pencil, a, a marker, we need something," he rambled. Bell half stood, eyes darting around the room, searching for something, anything to draw with. On the nightstand, a pad of paper and--and a shitty pen! Perfect. He grabbed the pen like a drowning man taking hold of a lifejacket and turned to Daniel, waiting for him to wake up a little more. The tie hung slack between them, but he didn't undo it. Daniel might not respond the same way he usually did. There was no guarantee.
What was she going to do? Cat sighed out, cheeks still burning from what she just witnessed. Now Bellwether was passed out next to Daniel and they were both asleep.
"Now what?" she asked Spot. The dog merely whined, sniffing the bag for food. Right. They could eat something. She could shower without having to be scared either Bellwether or Daniel caught her in a state of undress.
There was even a television to watch, though Cat doubted it'd have a lot of channels. She watched the two men for a while longer, got bored and then started making herself and Spot comfortable. Might as well make the best of it.
Cat looked up from her spot in front of the television when she caught movement in the corner of her eye. By that time she'd showered, wet a cloth and wiped some of Bellwether's sweat from his brow, but nothing really seemed to break through the fever so whatever. It was Daniel who was moving though.
Cat waited, with baited breath to see whether he would do it again. For the longest while nothing happened, but then Daniel shifted again.
Was he waking up?
Or was it just the kind of tossing and turning that was natural during sleep? Maybe he'd stopped being unconscious then.
Cat put down the can she'd been eating from and got up. Spot immediately took his chances with the contents of the can; corn. Nothing she was wildly enthusiastic about and neither was Spot it seemed. Cat debated whether Daniel's moving was worth waking Bellwether up for -he'd seemed pretty exhausted.
Maybe Daniel would just wake up, want something to drink and then go back to sleep. Yeah, sure and Bellwether had cut up a pillow for no particular reason.
Cat sighed and lumbered over to Bellwether's side, then shook the man's shoulder gently.
Not that she really had to. Daniel started tugging using the arm that was attached to Bellwether's.
Peace never lasted. Daniel felt the comforting hands holding him fall away and he sank into the star-speckled darkness as a result. Soon, sinking turned to falling. Reality blasted at him with full-volume. Pain shot through his limbs, his gut. Everything. His eyes hurt, his head hurt. His mouth was on fire, throat scorched and dry.
And still, none of that was as pervasive as the pull. He'd forgotten how it felt, it'd been ages since Bell-goat had given him blood. Daniel tried to move, to escape it, but his body was too heavy to move comfortably.
Daniel felt heavier than he'd ever felt before. Each step was a thousand miles in the blazing sun with a thousand pounds on his back, each successive motion more difficult than the last. The parking lot was sheer torture, reflecting the heat back up at him, boiling him alive. By the time they made it to the motel block, he was ready to collapse. Someone was moaning; he was almost surprised to find that it wasn't him, but Daniel. He glanced back, but aside from the wordless complaint, Daniel was as unconscious as he'd been this whole time.
"Open the door," he groaned. His hands were full of Daniel. He leaned against the wall until Cat unlocked the door, then stumbled inside. Ah, cool air at last. Cool air, relief, a bed...he stumbled inside and laid Daniel down before collapsing himself. Okay, he was done. No more moving for a while.
Except he really couldn't. He had things to do. Things he had to do, so hewouldn't stay hungover forever. He forced himself to sit up, then managed a stand and lurched over to the water bottles. Had to replenish the reserves. Half a water bottle disappeared into his stomach before he stopped himself and wobbled back to Daniel. It took more effort than he was used to, but he managed to gather Daniel up in his arms to a kind of half-sit. From there, he took a sip of the water, then fed it to Daniel by mouth, hoping Daniel's swallow reflex would figure out what needed to be done with the water. He didn't care if Cat was watching. She already knew about them, everything about them. Daniel needed water more than he needed to worry about her.
The water in the bottle diminished slowly. When another quarter was gone, Bell capped it and sighed out, falling back. He wanted to sleep. But not yet. They're was still something he had to do. He reached up and grabbed a pillow, stripped it of its pillowcase, then grabbed his knife and slit the pillowcase down the long seams. Fuck it, they could put the damages on Daniel's card. Taking the long strip of fabric he now had, he tied one end around his wrist, and triple-knotted the other around Daniel's, tight enough he'd struggle to wiggle free, but not so tight it cut off circulation.
With that, he collapsed backwards, done. "Wake me if he wakes up," he mumbled to Cat, and then he was gone.
"Chill," Cat instructed, "we're here, I found a dump to stay at," she soothed. Bellwether didn't look that good, but at least he wasn't tossing his cookies in the car -yet. She got a rowdy slap on the back for doing a good job, which secretly made Cat grin. See? She could be useful.
Cat watched Bell walk to the office, mildly concerned. Even though Bellwether discarded the shirt, he was still flaking with blood everywhere. She looked at Daniel and sighed.
"Can't you just wake up and be alright?" Cat muttered.
Then Daniel could take care of a sick Bellwether. There was no reply.
For some reason Cat figured Bell had dealt with this all before. How else would he be able to slice his throat so confidently?
And Bellwether seemed to be doing a little better for having slept, because this time he was tackling the whole 'carrying Daniel inside'-thing.
"Hey. He didn't move," Cat acknowledged Bellwether's return and took the key. Sweet, a room! Which meant beds and showers.
They needed those.
She jumped out of the truck and rounded the truck, filtering inside to pilfer the water, some food and the clean shirts, then popped Daniel's belt for Bell to make things easier. Dog-food, right and dog-food for Spot.
She loaded everything into a bag and then hovered.
Nothing much else she could do, really.
[right [pic http://i1375.photobucket.com/albums/ag453/AmazingParade/1_zps8tkadeir.jpg]] The first thing Daniel was aware of, was blinding hot pain. There wasn't one spot to pin-point it either; the pain was simply everywhere.
Someone was jostling him, again. That'd happened several times over, but this was the first time moving came with a pathetic whine. Oh, that was him.
Daniel tried his hardest to move, to open his eyes. Everything felt so heavy and lethargic, it was like fighting the heaviest wool blanket ever. Hands were handling him. Daniel tried to move his hand, and flailed, maybe, at best. The hand landed listlessly back on his lap. His leg was on fire. Didn't someone have the decency to put it out? They could douse the flames in his guts too, that'd be nice.
At first it was confusion, but then shapes started to grow into place. And contort again. Until there was only darkness. Daniel wasn't sure for how long he'd been floating in that darkness, but after an eternity, he realized it wasn't completely dark. There were tiny specks of light in the distance. And large, safe hands cradling his insignificant existence.
It felt nice here, watching the lights from afar.
The ocean rocked him, a gentle, comforting motion that left him boneless and relaxed. Sometimes a bigger wave would come up and jerk him forward, but for the most part, it was relaxing, nice and calm. A kind of deep feeling of safety enveloped him, like it had in the egg, a feeling that no matter what he saw or felt, he would come to no harm. The perfect warmth surrounded him again, all around him, until he couldn't feel his body or tell limbs from sea. He was one with the world, the world that gently rolled beneath him. Just like in the egg.
The--the egg? He was--he wasn't, he couldn't be! He fought against it, trying to break through the warmth. It was hot, suddenly, feverish. He found the wall and shoved, pushing through--
"-ll! Bell!" Hands grabbed at his body. He struggled awake, pulling away from his assailant. Who--who was--? Wake up? He--ugh, he felt sick. Like he was hungover. He blinked and found himself looking at a young girl. He blinked again. That didn't make sense.
Wait, no, Cat, right. Bell groaned and pushed himself up slowly, stretching out the kinks in his back. He felt so damn shitty. Where even were they? When he'd gone to sleep, he'd been...in the forest...
But this was definitely not forest. He'd never been so glad to see a shitty motel. A stupid grin spread over his face, and he gave Cat a hearty slap on the back. "Thanks," he said, honestly grateful.
With a little more effort, he heaved himself out of the car and staggered towards the office. "You watch Daniel," he called Cat over his shoulder. He needed to go get the reservation done.
The lady behind the counter gave him a disgusted look over her glasses as he entered; belatedly, he clutched his coat shut. It didn't seem to help. "Um, two beds," he muttered, grabbing Daniel's wallet and pulling it out. There wasn't enough cash, but his card would be good. He passed that over. The lady picked it up with her fingernails, but it ran, and in no time, she'd passed it back, along with a pair of room keys.
Bell headed back to the car. "Hey," he said. He passed Cat a key, then opened the door and started the process of wrangling Daniel out. "Um, it's room 158," he said. Cat could open the door for him. He didn't know if he'd make it far past the door, but he intended to pass out as soon as he got inside.
It didn't take much for Bellwether to sort of fall and crawl out of the way. At least they wouldn't crash into anything because of a stupid mistake like that, not that Cat thought she was that much better at driving. In no time, what support she thought to have in Bellwether fell asleep. Kind of adorable, in a stupid, goofy kind of way.
A hotel didn't seem like the best idea, the way everything was a bloody mess.
But what else could they do? Daniel hadn't been responsive through any of it; only the excruciating pain of having his leg set had roused him to some degree and Bellwether was out for the count. Cat hoped he wouldn't be sick in the car. That'd be a nice cherry on the pie.
She sighed and adjusted the seat to suit her length and fiddled with the mirrors. Okay. She'd sort of done this before with her mom. Which pedal did which again though? Uhm. Right for brake? How did that make sense? No, so right for gas, left for brake and then the mystery, kind of stupid pedal to the way-way left.
Foot on brake. Engine, and then gas.
The engine choked and died a pathetic whining death. The guys made it seem so easy.
"Fuck stupid machine," Cat muttered under her breath. There was something she was forgetting about the mystery pedal.
Cat rested her head on the wheel, letting out a stressed sigh. For a few good minutes, she just sat there, trying to wrap her head around everything she'd been through the last few hours. Daniel certainly knew how to kick a stir.
She steeled herself and tried again. And again. And again.
No one around to judge her anyway.
At long last she had the engine going, though once that obstacle was dealt with, a new one rose: moving the car. Maybe she shouldn't have kicked Bellwether away from the wheel after all.
She jumped when the car finally did move and instinctively hit the brakes, cursing herself. No, no, she was going to drive, not stop. This was good. She was doing this.
Cat tried again and the car rolled across the grass. Oh shit.
Oh, holy shit.
She was driving!
Shit, okay, that meant turning the wheel. Watching in the mirror, going back to the road. Look ahead. That much she recalled from what lessons she'd gotten at least. Cat wiped the tears that sprung in her eyes away. Too many emotions. Focus.
A hotel. Or a motel. Something cheap. And maybe shifting gears, because they were going at a snail's pace and it would make them look suspicious.
Cat was exhausted when she finally steered the truck into a lot. Done.
At long last.
Without being pulled over -which was kind of ridiculously lucky. She was pretty sure that between her inability to shift gears, the constant stalling and endless dose of gas, she'd killed the truck for good, but none of that mattered right now.
"Bell? Bell!" Cat shook the man.
"Come on, wake up, please?" There was just no way she'd be able to carry-drag Daniel that far on her own. Or pay for a room. Or get a room even. She was too young.
With some pushing and shoving on Cat's part, she managed to load Daniel into the car. Bell shut down the engine while he waited for her to finish; no point wasting gas. Once Daniel was all loaded, Bell wrangled the seatbelt across Daniel's chest. He had no idea what state he'd be in when he woke up, but if the answer was "a bad one," then he at least waved to have the drop on Daniel in terms of the few seconds it'd take to escape the seatbelt. The clicker part didn't fit neatly in the hole the first time, and he just plain missed the second, but the third time he finally heard it click home. Okay. Daniel was safe.
What was he doing? He gave Cat a blank look. Wasn't it obvious? What did she think he was doing? "I'm driving," he said. In a moment. Just another moment.
Wait, she could drive? That was nice, but...he had this. He'd be fine. He'd done it before, hadn't he? He wracked his brains, but he couldn't quite recall if he'd ever driven so soon after bringing the goat out. Maybe he hadn't. Huh.
A fever? He giggled. Shit, it wasn't funny--but it was. She was worried about his damn fever, with Daniel only just patched up, with having just been confronted with his goat for the first time? His giggles stopped slowly as it occurred to him that maybe yeah, maybe he was a little too fucked up to drive. "Take the wheel," he invited her, and just let himself slide sideways until he hit the floor between the seats, then squirmed awkwardly past the stick to lie on the floor in the back of the truck. Good enough. As long as he could lie down, he was happy.
"Find us a hotel," he mumbled, sleepy. He really wanted a hotel. Somewhere to relax and wash up and keep an eye on Daniel. His eyes slid shut, but he fought it, forcing himself to stay awake. What if Cat needed help driving? And she'd need him to pay for the hotel. He had to stay awake. He'd stay awake. It wasn't so hard.
But the floor was so comfy. And he was so tired. Maybe just a little nap wouldn't be so bad. He closed his eyes, just resting them for a moment. Just a moment.
Bellwether didn't look even remotely okay though. Daniel...maybe.
Cat showed Bell the thing the goat had given her. "Yeah," she agreed. When, if he woke up. If he was okay in there. Bellwether just discarded the shirt he wore, which made Cat look away shyly. All she could think about was the noises she'd heard last night.
God. These two were embarrassing.
Cat put the goat's gift in her new jacket's pocket and sighed out.
Carry Daniel? Was he mad? Daniel looked like he weighed twice what she did. All muscles and everything. If she hadn't already had a furious blush on her face, she had one now, for thinking about Daniel that way. They were gay to boot, so there really wasn't- Okay.
Cat shook her head and approached Daniel. Blood everywhere.
Bellwether didn't look like he was okay though. Maybe killing yourself actually did some damage, despite his neck looking okay. If goats could work miracles like that, she'd have expected Daniel to wake up as well.
"Wish you could help," she mumbled at Spot and circled around Daniel, trying to find the right angle for doing this. She opened the door first. Daniel was a dead weight.
Cat managed to get her arms underneath his and pulled, pulling Daniel back, closer to the truck with considerable effort. She hoped furiously that his leg was now alright, because there was no way this would be gentle. Cat leaned against the truck and propped Daniel up to a sit, then pulled and shoved until everything was on board.
By the time Cat was finished, she'd broken out a sweat.
"What're you doing?" Cat huffed.
Bell was just staring at the wheel -was he even okay to drive? "Look, I know how to drive -sort of," though it was a gear. She wasn't that fancy with shifting gears on a car. But she could manage the first gear? At least they'd be moving. It looked like they were fairly remote anyway.
"Where do we need to go? I just survived this, if you're not...you know? Maybe we should just, think of something else?" Cat reached out to Bell, wanting to shake his shoulder and felt the heat radiate from the man.
"You've a fever. Okay, stop. You're not driving. Move over," she demanded. She'd drive the god-damn car herself.
THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 15d 3m 42s
Bell gave her a "how the hell am I supposed to know" look, but then shook his head. "Probably." The goat had never failed to fix him before, and he looked a lot better, at the very least. Almost immediately, he regretted shaking his head as the usual headache came to bite him in the ass, and settled down against Daniel again. He felt sick, like he had the flu or something. As usual, really, but it being normal didn't make it any less painful.
He wasn't disgusting, huh? What, was his goat special? Well...thinking back on it, Daniel had been pretty repulsed by goats at first, but hadn't ever seemed disgusted by his. Maybe it was. He smirked. Ha, so he was a pretty goat.
A fix for Daniel? He craned his neck at that, curious. Really? It'd be better than whatever human medications there were, for certain. He couldn't really see it from this angle, though, so with some effort, he clawed himself upright to get a better look. It was a gorgeous little bauble that looked more like it belonged on a necklace than could possibly be a cure for Daniel, but if the goat said so...it would probably work. "We'll ask him. When he wakes up." If he was even in the state of mind to be able to answer, Bell added silently. And if not--if not...he didn't know. He'd figure it out. He was too damn tired for this right now.
What? Why couldn't they just stay here? He was so tired. Cat gestured at his shirt, and he glanced down. Oh. Right. He plucked at the bloodsoaked material, picking it away from his skin, then shed his jacket and yanked it if all at once. With some effort, he tossed the shirt into the forest, then pulled the jacket back on. Okay. All good.
He leaned forward, pushed up onto all fours, then had to rest. Okay. Okay, he could do this. He grabbed the car and used it as a crutch to climb to his feet, then blinked down at--at Daniel, still lying on the floor. "Shit," he muttered to himself, then glanced at Cat. "Um, you think you could...lift him in?" he asked, gesturing at Daniel. He didn't think he'd be able to.
Moving slowly, he rounded the car, using it as a crutch the whole way. The truck's hood was still warm; hadn't even been here long enough for it to cool off. Bell yanked the driver's-side door open and sat on the seat, then dragged the rest of his limbs inside. Okay, perfect. Now he just had to drive. He blinked at the steering wheel, trying to find the will to move. But they had to. The goat had been out--if there were hunters, they would have taken notice. And Daniel was fucked up now, too. He put the key in the ignition, turned it, listened as the engine rumbled to life. He'd kill for a hotel right now.
Cat's eyes landed on the goat's hand. It was offering...something? A black orb of some kind? For a moment Cat wasn't sure what she'd do, but then she figured this would be over quicker if she just went along with things. She stepped closer, carefully and slowly, her steps deliberate and even. Cat's eyes flashed up at the goat, then back at the black sphere that was offered up and finally she found the nerve to take what the goat offered.
It felt heavy in her hands, and precious -a little bit, not in the least because this could be the key to Daniel being a sane person.
It stepped back, then laid down and folded away.
Cat was reminded of one of those folding chairs that went impossibly small. It was like that, but more. Until it was Bellwether again.
Her knees were shaking. Cat hadn't even realized until the being was gone and the tension fled from her body, leaving her knees weak as noodles.
She sighed out.
Bell looked dead for a second, but not for long. He moved to Daniel, tears on his face and Cat felt like an intruder. So did Spot, apparently, because the mutt pushed against her leg, looking up at her.
"Is...is he okay?" Cat said, voice soft and strung.
Daniel looked himself, at least.
"I don't think you're disgusting, I just...I don't know what to think." It'd been so 'present', so powerful. There was no doubt in Cat's mind that the being inside of Bellwether knew more than any given group of people combined.
She rubbed her head.
"It didn't really...well, it uhm," Cat looked down at the black sphere. It felt solid, but inside something was freely sloshing against the confines. When looking at it from a specific angle, it was almost as if the stars themselves were trapped inside.
"It offered a fix for Daniel," she managed, holding out the sphere for Bell to see, cradled in both her hands. "He would still be human, just, the person he was always meant to be. I think."
Daniel was still asleep, or unconscious, or both.
"It's uhm...we can't stay here, you're all," Cat gestured at Bellwether's shirt, or what was left of the blood-soaked article of clothing. Daniel's clothes were even worse. Spot came trotting over in the wake of things, sniffing at the blood on Daniel's clothes and licking the man's face. Daniel didn't stir.
Frustration and amusement emanated from it in equal parts. She couldn't understand something so simple? But it was amusing, the way she tried to protect them. It moved closer, suddenly, moving without seeming to move. To think she thought it so simple as to have to replace the human to fix him. He would remain human, but he might not remain himself. Couldn't she understand that? The humans always seemed to understand such things better than it, in any case. So concerned with themselves.
It held out a hand to her. An orb materialized, forming out of the pure-black flesh. Though she wouldn't know, this one was lighter than the one before, liquids sloshing in smaller compartments inside the black orb, reflecting light like the stars of a distant galaxy. It watched her until she took it, then retreated a step. They would know what to do. The shell instinctively, the man because he had seen the orb before. But this one did not hold a child. Only materials and instructions.
It was tired. Forming one of those was always exhausting, and this world wore on it. It laid down, setting Daniel on the ground, then folded up into itself until at last pink flesh and dark clothing appeared amid the black, and Bellwether reappeared, lying on the grass.
For a second, he laid there, just as still as he'd been when he'd died; then he shifted, face contorting with discomfort. Shit. He hated bringing the damn goat out. But--wait, Daniel, was Daniel okay? He forced his eyes open, prepared for the worst. Daniel was lying there, right before his eyes--and his chest was rising and falling, and his face looked right, and everything was okay. Tears started to drip down his face. "Dammit. Don't do that to me!" he muttered, crawling closer, until he could hold on to Daniel, confirm that he really was okay, feel the heat of his body and the steady motion of his chest.
After a moment, he felt eyes on his back and turned. Who'd seen--oh. Cat. "So I guess we're both disgusting now," he said, almost laughing. He wiped the tears away ferociously; she didn't need to see that. "Did it say anything? The goat. Sometimes it talks." Normally he'd ask Daniel, but... he turned to look at the man. It wasn't an option this time.
Cat had questioned Bellwether and Daniel's love before, but not any more. Bellwether was willing to kill himself for Daniel. It was a passionate and powerful statement, if not a grossly morbid one. If Cat hadn't pressed her hands to cover her mouth, she might've screamed. The silence of two dying men bleeding was deafening, but then something moved Bellwether; a 'goat', a proper one. A complete one.
Cat didn't need any instructions to understand.
She was afraid to move. Eyes wide as saucers bore witness to the scene, drank it all in. She was being judged by something far greater than her, and permitted to exist. And then the goat picked Daniel up, as if the man were some light-weight toy. However, it was so careful. As if it was nurturing an infant -maybe it was.
Cat realized it was probably doing exactly that. Daniel had over-extended the healing capabilities of the being inside of him and it was now receiving aid from what looked to be a parent, if nothing else.
She thought to be safe.
And then those black, gold-flecked eyes, landed on her. Cat shook her head, as if saying 'no, leave me alone, I'm fine', and then it spoke. Unlike Daniel's 'being', this one was more subtle about its messages, but not by much. It still hurt.
Daniel being fine -yeah, they'd both wanted that; they'd all wanted that, hadn't they? Bellwether so he wouldn't have to worry, Daniel because he'd been so tired of it all he committed suicide, though Cat wasn't sure whether the latest go at it was intentional or not. But wait, wait.
Did that mean?
"No, no wait," Cat started. "He doesn't want-," her voice cracked. "They want Daniel to stay human." Was that even possible in the solution this being offered? But being replaced, like her parents had been. That wasn't. That was just wrong, like Bell said. Even though he'd been replaced too. And Daniel still loved Bellwether.
They were weird. They definitely were, but for some reason it was important to both that Daniel was human.
Cat saw Daniel's leg set itself, knit back together and it looked painful. She grimaced unconsciously and hoped Daniel wasn't going to remember any of this.
Even Daniel reacted this time though, sluggishly shifting in the goat's hold, but never conscious. Never aware or even waking up.
He was almost healed, or whatever the part-goat inside of him was doing, at least outwardly. Daniel's face was almost back to normal, which was a relief.
Even without him telling her, Cat figured it out when they got there. Don't kill yourself was followed by a short silence, full of understandings that he'd never meant for her to have. But it didn't matter. Cat could go to hell, for all he cared, but he wasn't going to let Daniel follow her there. He gave her a small smile. It'd all be okay. He just had to--to fix this.
The knife slid across his throat, no less painful than the first time. Blood sprayed out, soaking his shirt and shit, he really should've thought ahead this time, gone shirtless. It was too late now. Black bubbled out from the wound, the goat trying to mend it, but he slashed at it again and again until the strands gave up, stopped trying to close the wound. He sagged over Daniel, hands gripping at the other man even as they went numb, even as the warmth leaked from his body. It was too late, but now Daniel would be okay, and that was all that mattered.
For a second, they both laid still, Daniel and Bell equally motionless; but then Bellwether's body boiled, black seeping into existence as though it had been hiding on a flip-side of him, sliding into view. The goat stood and shook itself, feeling the pulls and grinds of this world against its existence. Less than a blinking, and it was back again.
A new presence. Spot cowered back, dog-instincts fighting against an innate knowledge that sinewy-goat liked to gift its shells; there would be beautiful poetry later. Black eyes flecked with gold took in a small girl, and it stepped closer. Curiosity and surprise intermingled; this one? It could not approve, and yet...
Time. The little one struggled to survive in a failing shell. It could hear its cries; the futility of saving this shell with the resources at hand were only just starting to set in. The goat turned back to the broken shell-human and scooped it up, cradling it carefully, perfectly as it always did, warmth matching Daniel's fading heat. Blood welled up, sliding into Daniel's mouth; rather than stimulate the human's healing capacities directly, it was taken in by the goatling, new material, new resources to rebuild. The goat watched. Imperfection. The goatling was imperfection, incapable of restoring as perfectly as the goat, still learning how to exist within and without at the same time. In time, it would learn. Gold eyes turned to the girl, observed her while the man's body rebuilt itself. And it would become yet another new existence.
Images passed from the goat to the girl, from the goat to Daniel, reaching the depths of his consciousness. Of Daniel fine, completely healed, no mental breakdown in his head. It could. It would take time, but it could. The images continued. Daniel fine. Completely normal. Completely healed, even in his delicate brain chemistry. Daniel, as he ought to be. Another image, a negation: Daniel as he was, Landon as he was. Gold-flecked eyes watched the girl. Did she understand?
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