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Not like that? So what? The kid wasn't a twin, as they'd hoped, huh? Daniel's eyes narrowed. He didn't kill anyone, was it?
"Didn't kill anyone, was it? But you did, and he's you," Daniel started, taking a step closer.
"No, I didn't-" Will defended, but his eyes flicked to Bellwether. Okay, that much was a lie. He had stabbed a guy. At the same time, said 'victim' seemed perfectly fine and was walking around as if he was perfectly fine now.
Will blinked. Take these people to him. He'd just wanted to defuse this situation, not instigate another mess.
"It's...that's not a good idea," he muttered.
Daniel looked at Bell and sighed out. The other kid was still somewhere out of sight. Or, the other kid had seen them and didn't dare to venture closer, friend be damned.
"So if this other 'you' isn't your dead brother, then what is he?"
"You should know," Will spat at Bell. "You tried to kill him -me...us."
"So inform us, how is this one different than the others?" Daniel hissed, stepping even closer.
Will shrank back.
So there were more. He'd thought as much, for people to know about his, but this confirmed it. "Please, you just have to believe me, he's not evil, he's just trying to understand," Will pleaded.
Daniel rolled his eyes and let out a sigh.
"We're not getting anywhere like this," he growled. He had one way to escalate this, but Daniel wasn't sure. Bell-boy told him he'd had trouble with the goat, something about it not taking any damage, so he didn't want to push things too much.
"...fine, fine," Will decided, a nervous, skittish look in his eyes.
He waved at the street, "it's down that way."
Daniel gave Bell a look.
"We supposed to buy into this shit?"
"Look, you tried to kill my friend, I just. I just want you to leave us alone! I don't even know what we ever did to you!" Will argued. "I know you believe he killed someone, but he hasn't!"
Rather than focus on the kid, Daniel started to look around. It felt bad. The back of his neck crawled with risen hairs. This kid was up to something, but nothing told him whether or not the kid was a goat. Usually the goatling would, but he'd abused its powers a good while back, so it might as well it wasn't going to extend that courtesy.
Fancy places like these? No chance. "Takeout is more for cheap places," he argued, and then he noticed Daniel's expression. Something was wrong.
Before he could even ask, Daniel gave him a friendly nudge and pointed a kid out. His friend? Bell was in the middle of memorizing the kid's face when their goat showed up, suddenly, beside him. Bell reached for his pipe, ready to fight. Alright, round two coming right up! He'd take the kid out right now if he needed to. And it looked like he would, because the kid was charging right up to them.
Immediately, Bell was completely awake and alert, eyes wide, ears perked. If anyone tried to take their backs, he'd be on them before they even knew what was going on. He wasn't about to get backstabbed twice.
Wait? Fat chance. Daniel replied first, leaving Bell to glower silently in the background. The kid's eyes flicked to him, equally nervous and surprised, then focused back on Daniel. Ha, weren't expecting him to be up so soon after getting almost stabbed to death, huh? The kid's eyes said he remembered. He was one of the two. But which one? The human one? The goat one? Or were they both goats?
Daniel was shaking. He knew that look by now, the sound in his voice; Daniel wanted to bash heads in. He did too, desperately, but this wasn't the best place. People were everywhere. If shit hit the fan, he'd be the first to jump in, but it'd be better if it didn't.
"You know it killed your--brother, I'm assuming? That thing isn't your brother. It crawled up inside him and replaced him, and killed him off in the process. Your brother is already dead," Bell snapped. This was just pathetic. Was it some attempt to ambush them? Or did the kid really think they'd just back down if he asked? Bell looked at Daniel. Was this kid a goat, too? Or was the goatling taking a nap right now?
"No, it's not--it's not like that!" Will protested. "He's not evil! He didn't kill anyone!"
"Keep telling yourself that, kid," Bell grumbled. "Hey, you know what? Take us to him. We'll show you what he's really like." Yeah, like even a kid would fall for that one.
Fancy places. Sweet. They'd have the good stuff. Daniel looked them over; at least they smelled the part, for once. That didn't say much about how they looked and fit in however and he already caught sight of Bell-boy's grimace. So those two places were a no-go. Seemed like they'd be taking the tour regardless. Daniel could already feel himself go tired at the thought.
"Maybe they do take-aways," Daniel started for a second, but then shook his head. "Let's try to find something more along-" He furrowed his brow. Wasn't that the friend the kid had been with?
"Think that's his buddy," Daniel noted, nudging Bell-boy to look in the right direction. Did that mean their kid was close by, or somewhere else entirely? He wasn't sure, but paranoia made Daniel look around with a little more ferocity. Now was not the time to get ambushed.
And then he caught sight of the kid; far too close. Daniel reached for his bat, but there was something about the look on the kid's face. Human or not? Goat or not?
"Wait," the kid started.
Didn't look worse for wear. Didn't at all look like they'd been in a fight.
Daniel narrowed his eyes.
"Wait for what kid? A knife to the back?" he snarled. The kid winced. Daniel kept a close eye on the kid's friend and any other youth that might be on the prowl. They were out in the open however. People walked by, coming out of the hotel. So close, they were in earshot. Hadn't Bell-boy told him they'd broken up the fight because they'd been caught by a third person intervening?
"I just want to talk. My name's Will," the kid introduced himself and Daniel sighed out. Last thing he wanted to hear was another sob-story.
Will seemed nervous. His hands were shaking. So were Daniel's, but his were trembling with barely contained rage.
"You just want to talk?" Daniel's face was a mesh of doubt: attack or not.
"You got thirty seconds before shit gets real," he threatened. And then he'd tear the fabric of the kid's reality out of context so badly, no one would recognize who or what he'd been.
"I know- I know he's not human, but he's not bad, please? We're not doing anyone harm. Can't you let us go?" the kid pleaded. Daniel sighed. He shared a look with Bell-boy, but remained on edge. It could be a trap. The other kid hadn't come closer yet -out of range, oblivious to this kid's plight.
"Yeah, round two, I'm ready," Bell declared. He could do it. He was just a little worn, a little tired, and his chest was sore, but he'd fought with a chest cold before. It was the same, wasn't it? He'd be fine.
But he'd need that breakfast first. He pouted a bit at nothing, but when that didn't make the hotel magically procure a complimentary breakfast, stood up. They could find somewhere else, like Daniel said.
"Where's my coat," he asked no one in particular, then found it lying on the floor and started to put it on--only to pause halfway there, take it off, and examine the back. New stain, new cut, but the stain looked dark enough that it shouldn't stand out from the mishmash of other stains on the fabric. He'd have to sew it up later, if he ever had time.
"Fooood," Bell moaned. He gave a last look around the room to make sure, but it looked like Daniel had everything handled. He yawned, then nodded to the door and led the way out of it. Time to head out and get some food! And find a nice place to kill their little goat.
The hotel hallways looked the same as they'd ever looked, bland wallpaper and overly patterned carpet. He hadn't noticed any of it on the way in, which was just a sign of how out of it he'd been then. He felt better now, but he could feel his stamina giving out already. The goat was still healing him up. It'd be another day or two before he was fully up to speed, but he didn't want to wait that long. He wanted to just take the kids out already, kill all the dumb goats.
Out into the sun. It was a bright, warm day, a perfect day for kids to play outside, which was, he supposed, a great excuse for their goat to screw around outside and stalk them under the excuse of just playing. He didn't see them around right now, but it didn't mean they weren't in the area. He'd have to keep his guard up.
There was a fancy brunch place just around the corner, and a seriously upscale lunch-and-dinner spot nearby. He grimaced to himself; this really wasn't the kind of place for people like him and Daniel, was it? They stuck out like crazy.
When Bell-boy moved from behind him announcing he was done, Daniel realised how much he’d been leaning in and docilely teetered back onto his feet to carry his own weight. He waited for Bell-boy to use the shampoo and lathered up himself afterwards. Bell was gone before he was finished, which was telling. Even if their conversation had improved their standing a little, it hadn’t really gotten rid of all of the frustration and pain. Daniel washed off and loitered until the spray spluttered and turned cold.
“What?” Daniel called listlessly. He took a towel from the rack and slowly dried off. It felt like he’d shaken yesterday’s fever, but at the same time the drained, lethargic feeling still weighed him down. Bell-boy probably felt much the same, if not worse, so Daniel just took it in stride and wandered out into the room.
“You sure you’re ready for round two?” Daniel asked, taking Bell in. The man’s injury was still sensitive to touch, possibly still painful even and while Bell-boy’s breathing was decidedly better, he’d still been coughing. “I mean…” Bell-boy’s stomach seemed to have an opinion regarding them fighting the kids again, and Daniel snorted.
“Doubt it,” he muttered with a smirk.
Daniel shrugged into some fresh clothes and collected their soiled ones for a second wash-run.
“But there are probably things nearby,” Daniel offered. He wouldn’t be surprised if the hotel had a restaurant of sorts, but even when they were cleaned up, they didn’t exactly fit the bill. Daniel tried: black shirt and jeans. But his boots were worn and his coat stained, hair unkempt and too long already after the last haphazard cut.
He surveyed the room with a little more attention and sighed out. Another day of resting up would probably be best, but they didn’t have that luxury. The kid’s goat was up to something and it was imperative they find out what sooner rather than later.
“Okay, think I got everything,” Daniel said, scratching the back of his head.
“Let’s get something to eat and take the scenic tour through these parts,” he offered as a suggestion. It was no longer about finding a right kill-spot, but more about finding where to best defend themselves. They were no longer after a helpless, clueless prey.
THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 20d 1h 56m 31s
A dog, huh? Could've guessed that from how he acted with Spot. Bell nodded, kneading at Daniel's back with soapy hands. He liked dogs, too, and cats were touchy little bitches at the best of times, let alone when they were being trapised across America. Though if they came to an emergency situation in the factory, there were cats there, at least. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that, with any luck. "Spot was nice," Bell concurred. "We can stop by a shelter or pet shop or something later." Get a real dog this time, instead of a goat.
They went quiet for a moment. Daniel was thinking something over, never a good sign, in Bell's experience. That was always when Daniel got all twisted up inside: when he had a long time to think things over. Still, he couldn't think of anything to say to break the silence, so he stayed quiet. Being peaceful was nice, but this was a worrisome kind of peaceful. The kind that would break out into trouble, if he wasn't careful.
Daniel started leaning into him, more weight than Bell was really willing to take on put into his hands. He finished up quickly and patted Daniel's back, then stepped away and out from under the weight of Daniel's heavy body. "There ya go," he announced. Wash done!
Bell squeezed up under the spray to rinse off one last time, letting the water get deep into the roots of his hair, then grabbed the crappy hotel shampoo and gave his hair a wash as well because what the fuck, why not. Might not see a hotel for a while after this, after all.
All cleaned up, he stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel, drying off as he wandered over to his clothes. Good thing he'd decided to step in with Daniel--it would've been a mistake not to. He didn't think this had solved everything, but at least it was a step in the right direction. At least it was progress.
"So the kid was around here?" he started, yanking his clothes on as he spoke. "Shit, man, that's spooky. Let's take that little motherfucker down already." He sat down to get his boots on, and as he did, his stomach grumbled. A little sheepish, he glanced up at Daniel. "Uh, this place have a complimentary breakfast or anything?" Sure could use it right now.
"'m careful," Daniel said dreamily, but pulled his fingers away from the healing scar regardless. Bell-boy wasn't a hundred percent comfortable to have him at his back, never mind this close to the injury itself.
"Guess a dog would be easier to have around. More practical," he offered up his thoughts. They could make a dog loyal, teach it to be somewhat obedient and it might actually try and guard them. Daniel brushed his hand down the length of Bell's back when the man turned and he looked Bell-boy in the eye. Nothing. No judgement, no blazing concern. Just a pragmatic attitude and carefully shielded emotions. Maybe he deserved that, after breaking some of Bell-boy's trust by going out to drink on his own.
He handed over the soap and turned around with a sigh.
Telling Bell-boy he needed -the goatling needed- a host, almost made it sound as if the goatling or he had a plan, neither of which was true. Daniel just had a desire and so did the goatling. Maybe they could recreate a situation in which he was in a tube with the new host and they could safely and slowly transfer the goatling as it mended him. Either way it'd be weird and it'd take time.
And even if he could heal where the goatling left, it'd take him ridiculous amounts of energy to do so. If all could even be healed. It was very much possible the goatling had stretched into parts of his anatomy it wasn't as well-versed in.
Daniel leaned into Bell a little, more tired still than he cared to admit. Sitting still wasn't an option however. They'd have to leave the hotel, make sure they ate a hearty breakfast and were ready for basically anything with the kids nearby. Obviously the kid's goat was searching for them and it had a very good idea on where they were -where Bell-boy was. Daniel figured they wouldn't know about him yet, so they had that as an edge.
He looked down at his hands.
Sure. And what could he do? Very little, probably. But the goatling wasn't like that. It could shred them apart like he'd done to the gate. If bats and pipes were useless, he'd simply rip the fabric of reality through their inky goat bodies until they bled.
At least leaving was off the table. Bell found himself subconsciously relaxing at the reassurance. He knew it, it was just... it scared him. The thought of Daniel just... up and disappearing was terrifying. And the thing was, he could decide not to leave and still vanish if he kept this up, if he kept going off drinking when there was a hunt. Goats didn't care what their state of mind was, or whether they cared for each other.
Daniel's hands were warm on his back, the calluses slightly gruff against his skin. He closed his eyes and let himself be touched, safe and secure. His heart fluttered sightly at the unexpected touches from behind, remembering a knife instead of gentle hands, but no such attack came. There was just the water, Daniel's warm hands, and the steam of the shower. Daniel's hand brushed by the place where the cut had been, oddly uncomfortable on the fresh, sensitive scar tissue. "Hey, careful," Bell complained. It didn't really hurt, but it didn't feel good, either.
Bell opened his eyes, slightly surprised at Daniel's suggestion. Find the goatling a host? Wouldn't that just be the opposite of hunting, though, helping these creatures to proliferate? But no, the other option was that it ate Daniel, wasn't it? A random person dying was much preferable to Daniel dying. Or... it didn't even have to be a person, did it? Could be an animal of some sort.
"Or something," Bell suggested. "You a dog or a cat person?" The goatling might not be too pleased with a less-than-human host, but fuck it. On top of whatever ethical concerns there might be with a human host, a dog or cat was easier to keep around, and besides, the goatling could always go find a human host later. Or even make a copy of Daniel like Spot had done with him, who knew? Maybe it could do that. He didn't care. Just so long as it didn't kill Daniel, everything was alright.
He turned around and held out his hand for the soap. "Here, turn around, I'll get your back," he offered, working up the soap as soon as he got it. Might as well return the favor.
Wake up Bell, to talk. If only things were that simple. Bell-boy had offered that up before, hadn't he? And not once had his thoughts allowed him to. They all seemed too trivial once there was another person there. When someone questioned him, the card-house just collapsed. Wasn't that the intention though? Daniel realized he feared that they wouldn't. That he'd sound crazy trying to explain what he felt and thought. Most likely, he was exactly that: crazy. He gave Bell-boy a hesitant nod. He ought to try.
Bell already knew what he worried about most though. It'd be nothing but a rehash, which was exactly the nature of the thoughts that made him want to forget. There was nothing they could do to amend his situation or the things that had happened in the past.
Daniel lathered up soap and put a hand to Bell's shoulder, working his way down. Love. Yeah, Bell-boy loved him too, didn't he? That'd never really been the issue.
"I'm not leaving, I never think about leaving," Daniel soothed Bell's concern. Although losing his life to the goatling was technically another way he'd be leaving Bell-boy. That kind of thing was mostly outside of his power though, so there was no helping that.
Rather than think about his shitty position, Daniel focussed on washing Bell-boy's back. Just talking when he was in that state of mind wasn't easy. He didn't want to talk when he was like that, just forget, before the thoughts became overwhelming. And when they did, this time it wouldn't be an episode, but the icky sensation of the goatling pulling several strings to straighten everything right back out.
That kind of control was the thing he dreaded.
Daniel's fingers grazed by the scar on Bell's back. He'd needed that kind of power to protect Bell-boy or at the very least prevent from becoming a burden. What the fuck had he been thinking?
"One of these days, we need to find the goatling a host," he mentioned. Bell's back was washed and Daniel's motions were mainly still there for comfort. Whether or not that comfort was his or not was up for debate.
"It wants to be in control and to prevent that from happening, it needs another host. Someone that's not me," Daniel sighed out. How or when they'd transition was up for debate. Whether he'd survive the ordeal in one piece and a sane state of mind even more. Doing nothing however, was a sure death-sentence.
He moved into the warm water as Daniel stepped aside, letting it course over his body, tilting his head up into the spray to let it soak into his hair. Felt good. Felt better than the tub last night, but that was mostly because his lungs didn't feel so much like crap anymore. Despite his best attempt, an awkward silence ruled the air until at last there was a finger running down his back, in a spot he wouldn't soon forget. He jumped a bit, the leftover flight-or-fight reaction sparking all over again even though he knew he was safe here. "Surprised me!" he said, just as Daniel spoke.
Sorry. He looked back, but Daniel's eyes were closed. "I know," he replied. He knew that. It just--it wasn't enough. It'd never been enough.
Wanted to stop the thoughts? His brow wrinkled. "What thoughts?" he asked, though he knew full well that Daniel might not be able to reply. There'd always been something broken in his head. The schizophrenia, Landon, the drinking; it was all connected somehow, some central flip switched the wrong direction in his brain. The goatling had fixed it, to some degree, but it hadn't fixed everything, clearly. Maybe it couldn't. He didn't even know if he wanted it to fix everything. Would it even still be Daniel if nothing was broken inside?
Bell nodded and turned his back to Daniel. They needed to touch. It was just the way they worked. He wanted to feel that Daniel was in control, that everything was okay.
"Maybe next time you can wake me up, and we can chat?" he offered. Even if they ended up going out together, at least he wouldn't feel left behind. Even if Daniel went out on his own, he'd know where Daniel was when he woke up alone. It was worth a try. Feel better than waking up to find that Daniel had snuck out, like Bell was his jailer and he was some kind of prisoner.
"I love you, you know? Even with this... I just, I don't want to lose you," he said, sighing out. That was the heart of it; he was afraid Daniel would wander off and never come back, whether that meant he decided he didn't want to be with Bell anymore, or that he'd been killed, or killed himself, or one of a million horrible options in between.
Daniel pushed his hair back, arms up, letting the spray hit his chest and wash off the majority of the blood. It was at that point Bellwether surprised him by entering the bathroom. He stilled, momentarily, one hand to his ribs, just listening what Bell-boy was doing. For a moment it seemed Bell might not join him after all and Daniel reached for the soap, but then the man finally stepped into the stall.
Daniel stepped aside to make sure Bell-boy could warm up on the hot shower. The man's mutter broke the ice, but at the same time it didn't. Daniel's eyes were only on the man's back. A scar.
There was still a scar. Obviously Bell-goat and the goatling had focussed on healing the insides of Bell, rather than the man's skin. A finger traced the line down Bell's scar.
"I am sorry," he said, swallowing hard and closing his eyes.
He looked away. What the fuck was he doing? He loved and cared for a man that didn't even exist. He walked with him and killed creatures people didn't even know existed. And he didn't even know why. Why was this love there? This guilt?
The goatling's offer sounded more and more reasonable: take away the pain, the emotions, the hurt.
Just like Lenny always had. Always running.
"I just wanted to stop the thoughts," Daniel confessed. It was something of a revelation, to finally pinpoint why he'd done it. Just to stop it all. He remained like that for a moment, taking a few deep breaths. Things had been hard the last few weeks. Months, maybe. Who knew how long they'd been stuck in the vats?
Daniel pressed a hand against Bell's back and held his other hand up for the soap.
"Want me to wash your back?" he tried. He wanted to touch Bell. To feel he wasn't alone, that on some level, Bell-boy was alive.
That the goatling, even if it took over, would leave some humanity. His humanity. His insane thoughts and broken feelings. And it'd be the first time in a while he'd touched Bell in a way that wasn't messing with the man's organs or casual contact they made while utterly exhausted.
He'd never make the same mistake again. But he would, wouldn't he? A plan. What plan could they have to stop the habit? He didn't want to stop getting drunk every now and again. He wasn't all like Bell-boy. Lenny wasn't like Bell-boy and that was the issue. The parts of him that were Lenny couldn't cope with it all and neither could he, maybe.
Right. He'd expected Daniel to get mad, or react in some way... not just accept his words as the truth. It almost hurt more that he didn't try to deny it--because it meant that the apology really had been utterly meaningless, no more than a band-aid on a festering wound in their relationship that neither of them seemed to know how to deal with. Or wanted to deal with. Whichever it was.
Bell shook his head and sagged back to sit on the bed as Daniel headed to the shower. It hadn't changed anything, so he shouldn't be disappointed, and yet, here he was. Maybe because it hadn't. Maybe he'd hoped Daniel would take the chance to fight back and tell him--something. Give him some insight on this. Something they could do... but there'd been nothing. And maybe that was it. There was nothing. Nothing anyone could do, because Daniel was happy being a sloppy drunk with no self-control. And it was fine--everyone had problems--but when it impacted the hunt, then...
He sighed out again. He was tired. Just... tired. Being with Daniel was worth the cost, but sometimes, he just got tired.
For a moment he stared straight ahead, watching the wall; then he pushed off and stood, following Daniel into the bathroom. The water was running, the room steaming up; he set his clothes down on the sink and started to strip, then halted. What was the point? He wouldn't enjoy it. But they'd had almost no intimacy lately at all, not even the casual kind of closeness. He was disappointed, but he didn't want it to be the end of them.
Yeah, alright. He finished undressing and stepped into the back of the shower, letting the warm water hit his legs, then scooting forward to warm up the rest of him. "Let's take down that dumb kid already," he muttered. Then none of this would matter, until the next hunt. It was something they had to address, but.... he didn't know how.
The soap was sitting on the edge of the tub, unused. He grabbed it and started to wash up. Might as well get washed while they were here. It'd help the smell some, at least.
From the surprise on Bell-boy's Daniel could tell he hadn't apologized, probably hadn't broached the subject at all. What came next was unexpected. Not anger, not even disappointment, but rather bitterness instead. Daniel took in a breath, but didn't interrupt Bell, not even to refute his words. Not even to tell Bell there were things he could do, or that he didn't want to do anything about his 'habit'. Maybe he didn't want to.
Just words. Right. So Bell-boy was pissed after all.
"Right," he muttered. Well, what had he expected? Daniel snorted and took his clothes to the bathroom. A plan, huh? He didn't have a plan. Never had a plan when he felt like drinking, when it felt like the world swallowed him all. Didn't even have Lenny to just take over and stop him, to be the sensible one. But he was Lenny now too, wasn't he? So why didn't that part of him pipe up when he felt like committing suicide to escape it all?
Daniel dumped his clothes on the closed lid of the toilet and stripped out of what he was wearing. Some of the clothes came back crusted with blood, flaking here and there: Bell-boy's. His mistake. It'd been his fault and yet, not.
He hadn't taken up arms against Bell-boy, hadn't knifed the man in the back, but he might as well have.
For a moment, Daniel just stood there, staring into the mirror. Rather than a haggard and withdrawn face, the blood-stains on his skin stood out most as tribute of what his addiction was doing to him. To them.
Regret made him tear his gaze away and switch on the shower. The sound of water drowned out some of the thoughts, as he hoped they would, and he got underneath the spray before the water was even remotely warm.
Icy cold water wiped away the last reminders of Bell-boy's fateful return that night. Daniel rested his hands against the tiles and just stood there, head hung, waiting for the water turn warmer.
Once it did, Daniel breathed out slowly, trying to let go of the pent-up anger that was finally given the energy it deserved. If it hadn't been for those goats, none of this would've been an issue. He stepped forward and sighed out. No use getting angry here and now. Soon enough they'd lay waste to those goats and then Bell-boy wouldn't care who got drunk and when. It'd be back to them as they had been. Bell-boy had gone off on his own plenty back then.
"They sure did when they were fucking me up," Bell muttered. The two of them had had immaculate teamwork then.
Oh--shit, if the other one was human, if they really were, in the past tense meaning of 'were', twins, then... shit, that'd be a pain in the butt, having to worry about hitting the human one on top of dealing with whatever this goat was doing to make itself mostly invulnerable. He'd been lucky to hit the right one, in that case. "I don't know," he said thoughtfully, voice low. "We'll have to be careful, I guess."
There was something in Daniel's expression, an odd indecision, that glued him to the spot rather than going on ahead to the shower. He was about to prompt Daniel when it came out on its own; an apology? His eyebrows shot up in surprise. Really? Daniel was apologizing? He thought the man was just going to sweep it under the rug like everything else.
Honestly, he didn't know how he felt about the apology. It seemed heartfelt, but an apology was just words, in the end. Words had never stopped Daniel from going out and getting drunk. It was better than pretending nothing had happened, but it wasn't a step in the right direction, just... words. Meaningless. He shook his head. "Look, I--I've accepted that I can't control you. I mean, I wish you wouldn't go off on your own and get drunk in the middle of a hunt, but there's nothing I can do about that, is there? Nothing you seem to want to do about it either. So... unless you have some kind of plan to stop, I don't need your apologies. They're just words. They don't mean anything to you, clearly, so they don't mean anything to me, either."
He took a deep breath and shook his head, then coughed a few times as his lungs protested the effort. It'd come out harsher than he'd meant, but what was he supposed to say? [i No, Daniel dearest, it's alright, no problem!] Not in a million years. Even 'apology accepted' felt like walking up to a con man and saying "yeah, sure, I'll buy your fake crap" just to avoid hurting his feelings. He didn't want to hurt Daniel, but if he didn't draw the line somewhere, Daniel would just keep going out and getting drunk. They'd gone down this road before. He wasn't particularly eager to start walking it again.
"Do you think they move in such concert?" Daniel said, half-heartedly responding to Bell-boy's theories. A doppelgänger. It reminded Daniel of a similar situation: his. And Bell-boy's. "What if the other kid's human?" he offered up as food for thought. Or had Bell managed to get in an attack on both? Daniel wasn't sure which was scarier: a goat that was impervious to physical attacks or one that was two at the same time.
Bell had more colour in his face this morning, so evidently something had happened over night. Daniel hoped that meant he didn't have to be confronted with more bloody patches, coughed up from the depths of Bell-boy's lungs, accompanied by phlegm and other interesting bodily fluids.
Daniel wordlessly took the piece of orange, more to prevent another discussion than anything else. Didn't know if Bell-boy was still angry with him or not, after all, though time seemed to always fade those emotions in Bell regardless.
"Yeah," he replied to wanting a shower. He'd been too tired to wash up decently yesterday and felt pretty icky after a whole night's sleep. Wait, did that mean Bell-boy was coming along? Had they even talked about his drinking back then? Daniel recalled Bell being pissed, but he'd been too busy spewing up his guts and being drunk for the whole of that conversation. Daniel didn't even know if they'd made up after that.
It looked like Bell planned to join him in the shower, so maybe he had said something to make things right. If he had, confessing he didn't remember now would only be shooting himself in the foot. Daniel decided silence was his best bet, realized that was a typical Lenny-thing to do and remembered last night's encounter with the goatling. Unlike his drunken memories those nightmarish dreams, where he was met with the goatling's fierce desire for control over his body, were painstakingly sharply outlined.
It made him want to have another drink.
Daniel sighed out and looked at Bell-boy.
"I don't know if I ever apologized for going out that night but...I'm sorry," he put out there. If Bell-boy wanted to hit him in the face, at least he knew it wouldn't be Bell-boy's full strength. Hah, let off easy, huh? Story of his life.
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