You don't have permission to post in this thread.
Landon wasn’t sure whether or not to be happy Bell’s attempt at killing a goat all by himself had gone awry or not. Logic dictated Bellwether had killed multiple goats before, all by himself, and that’d always gone just fine -with or without the help of Bellwether-goat. But his heart just resonated with concern. Bell didn’t seem injured, so the encounter with this ‘hippie’ had probably been decided in his favour.
Hunted previously? By the hunters?
“Do you think this hippie might be…?” Landon shrugged half-heartedly. “…you know, a goat too?” Or at least a human with more knowledge than most regarding the goats’ existence. Might be the man had never been taken seriously, forsaken, run aground. It was a nasty picture of a possible future and Landon hated it.
Either way their current line of conversation distracted from his current predicament and Landon tentatively dared let go of Bell’s arm at last.
How were they going to deal with it now? He could -but something told Landon Bell wouldn’t appreciate the suggestion. Not right this second anyway.
“Weird,” Landon replied. He felt weird.
“I’ll try,” he sighed out, taking the slice Bell offered. “What is this place anyway?” He nudged a piece of battered mannequin with the nose of his foot. That had seriously freaked him out when he’d just woken up. Landon took a bite of the bread and tried to calm down some more. Regardless, he hovered close to Bell. Just in case.
He didn’t trust himself, or their environment.
Landon abused the momentary peace to study Bell a little closer.
“Has it been long? I mean, since it was me?” he pitched, searching Bell’s face for the truth. Couldn’t have been long, right? He didn’t see any new marks or scars. No fresh injuries either.
He didn’t think he was injured either, aside from the odd symptoms Landon knew had more to do with alcohol than actually being sick. Daniel hadn’t told Bell, that much was obvious. Landon doubted it’d attribute much at this point. Bell wouldn’t allow Daniel to drink during a hunt, would he? He paused eating the bread for a second, his stomach tightening in disgust before relenting its cries of misery.
At least he knew what it was now.
"I'm fine, I just--" he sighed out. "I was following her, just staking her out, and she turned down this narrow alley, so...I thought it was a chance. I should've--there was someone else in the alley, but I thought they were just some drugged out hippie. Well, turns out they weren't, and when I went to go for the killing blow he jumped up and grabbed me, stopped me short, shouted to let the goat get away." He sighed again, frustration welling back up at rehashing the memory. "By the time I shook him off, she was gone, and I was worried about the police coming, so I ran for it."
Landon hesitated at the door. Bell glanced back, worried, but then Landon grabbed his arm and followed him in. He wanted to lock the door, but reconsidered. He'd do that later, when Landon had calmed down a bit. He really was glad he'd locked it behind him, though. If he hadn't...who even knew where Landon would be right now? Well...he looked down, and Spot looked back up. Spot would know. So it wouldn't be a lost case.
Who were they hunting? Bell lead Landon into the kitchenette, grimacing at the sight of the counter. Good thing Landon didn't remember the things Daniel did. "Hmm, this rich lady," he said, after a moment. "Has a young kid. A boy." He shrugged. He didn't know much more than that. "I think she was hunted previously or something, because she's been on high alert this whole time, and well, it'd be weird to just know that hippie for no reason..." Bell shrugged. He didn't have any evidence, though.
"I don't know what we're going to do now, though. She definitely knows my face now. The police might even know my face. I really fucked up." He bowed his head for a moment, glaring at the counter, then looked up. Enough of that.
He grabbed the bread and yanked it closer, then found a can of meat. Sandwiches were in order. "How're you feeling, though?" he asked. "You look a lot better. Wanna try some bread?" He offered Landon a slice. Bread was pretty easy on the stomach. If Landon could keep anything down, it'd be bread.
Locked up behind himself. Right. It made sense. Logically, it made sense. And he did feel sick. Weird, in general. Bell fucked things up? Went out alone and fucked things up? The locking-in thing, or the hunt? Landon ran his eyes over Bellwether’s frame, but the man didn’t seem injured, not visibly at least. Neither had Bell flinched when they’d hugged. Wait -they were hunting?
Yeah, no, that made sense. They’d left the house, found a temporary place to stay and continued their hunt. It made sense.
Landon couldn’t shake the feeling of unease.
He wasn’t likely to be able to no matter what. Daniel had to have though things to be safe. Or relaxed, at least. Why else would they have switched places like this?
Dinner? Food. Maybe. Landon wasn’t sure whether it’d do anything to improve his current condition or worsen it. But if Daniel had been sick enough to sit out a hunt, it was important they improve to become well enough and help out Bellwether.
Landon didn’t like it one bit the man had gone out on a hunt alone. And fucked it up.
“Are you alright?” Landon asked, slightly concerned. He wanted to take Bell’s hand, but had become self-conscious of their surroundings.
“What happened?” Now that his body was calming down, rather than responding to the fight- or flight urge, Landon did feel meek; a bit shaky. As if he had low sugar, but not quite, because he did feel restless.
Going back inside made Landon hesitate at the doorstep. It was dark and confusing inside, especially after having been in the sunshine. He swallowed thickly and forced himself through the door. It wasn’t too bad, but he did grab for Bell’s arm once they were inside, where no one could see.
The fear hadn’t quite passed.
Landon reminded himself to breathe more regularly and take slower, larger, deeper breaths. Spot made the transition easier by leading the way. If there was anything real; the dog would be a tell. That’s how he knew Bell was real, or was a real person at least.
“Who are we hunting?” he asked, just to fill the silence.
Daniel struggled against his grasp, babbling on and on and--and this wasn't Daniel at all, was it? Bell held on tight, afraid that Landon was going to run away again. Shit. Really hadn't thought that one through. Of course Landon was going to be confused. He probably didn't even remember coming here, much less why he'd been "locked up." "Shhh, hey, it's okay," Bell soothed him. There was no point in trying to explain until Landon had calmed down enough to listen. Honestly, he had his hands full just trying to keep Landon from struggling free. The man really was stronger than him now, and he could feel it when they fought like this. Made his weakness all the more frightening. What would happen if he couldn't hold Landon down anymore?
He swallowed his fears and did his best to smile, trying to be soothing. "It's me, Landon, it's me, you're safe. Shhh."
Finally Landon put a hand against Bell's chest, then stopped struggling and moved closer for a hug. Bell changed his grip from a grapple to a proper hug. "I didn't lock you up. We're living here. I locked the door behind me to keep you safe. You were feeling sick--Daniel was--so he asked to stay behind on the hunt. I went out alone and--and okay, I fucked things up--but I didn't lock you up. I didn't mean to scare you like that. It's okay now. It's okay."
Bell felt a little embarrassed at hugging Landon in public like this, but what the hell, no one ever came down here, and Landon was freaking out anyways. Should've thought about Landon, what would happen if he woke up. But what could he have done? What would he have done differently? If he hadn't locked the door, then Landon might have vanished for good.
He pulled away a bit and kissed Landon, then let him go, ready to jump if Landon tried to run. "Want to get dinner? You feeling hungry? I'm, uh, I'm afraid we can't really go out, but there's food in the place if you feel up to eating now." He started back towards the store, leading the way, though careful not to move too fast ahead of Landon.
Like an unstoppable projectile, Bellwether collided with him and they barely managed to remain standing. Landon teetered back, trying to maintain his balance with Bellwether’s arms restraining his The panic that had died down was now once again flaring up, though the collision had dazed him for a short second. Landon started to struggle, until he heard Bell’s voice. It was so uncanny. So Bellwether. Was it real?
Hunt? Sick? He did feel sick, he felt weird in general. Spot was there too, barking and bouncing around them as if they were playing some elaborate game.
“Let go,” Landon said softly, struggling, wrestling Bell’s grip for him to let go. “I’m not -what hunt? What are you talking about? I was locked up -did you lock me up? What the fuck is going on? Where are we? Are you-…Bell?” Landon faltered at Bellwether’s name.
His breathing had quickened with talking, panic being let out in a verbal mess. Landon started to struggle more fervently now, and to his surprise, he was getting somewhere.
His eyes were searching Bellwether’s face, as if looking for some kind of clue. Finally, he managed to free one hand, but rather than give in to the panic that was crawling up his spine, Landon pressed a hand to Bell’s chest, feeling.
A heart-beat. A fast one. Even if it wasn’t his Bellwether, at least it was one and right now he needed that more than anything. No. No, it had to be the real one.
“I didn’t know what -it didn’t make sense. Why would you lock me up?” It was Bellwether, wasn’t it? They were safe, well, for as far as they could be considering everything they stood for. Rather than fight Bell’s grip, Landon closed the distance between them, hugging Bellwether tight. He was scared. And he wasn’t even sure of what, but it was reassuring to have Bell there.
“Am I sick?” Landon’s face was a mess of emotion when he pulled back to get a proper look at Bell. “I felt weird when I woke up.” Had Bell been the one hunting? It’d be logical if he’d be left behind for a hunt when feeling ill.
Silence greeted his call. He paused, then shrugged. Daniel must still be sleeping off the sickness. Bell yanked the chain away, in an awful mood but glad Daniel was going to be asleep for it. He really didn't want to get teased or yelled at for fucking up. Shouldn't have gone for it. Stupid, stupid, stupid, what was he going to do now? That lady-- Mrs. Hannah-- she knew his face. Knew he was a threat. And then there was the hippie. Maybe Daniel could lead the hunt? But people were watching out for danger around Mrs. Hannah, which was going to make the whole thing stupidly difficult. Why? Why were they clued in to look out for her? But-- well, she was a goat, and this wasn't far from the hunters' southern headquarters. It didn't take a genius to puzzle out that maybe, just maybe, Mrs. Hannah had been subject to a hunt before, only some clumsiness had alerted the town to the hunters, and the hunt had been unsuccessful--clearly.
Spot came up to him, tail wagging, clearly not caught in the same dark mood as Bell. Bell crouched and ran his hands through Spot's fur, sighing out. It was nice and therapeutic to pet a dog, it really was. He could feel his racing heart slow.
And then it spiked back up to a million miles an hour as Daniel raced past him.
"Oh, so you're feeling fine now," Bell called sarcastically. That'd startled him. Couldn't have come on the hunt, though, that would've been too much. If Daniel had been there, he wouldn't be in this trouble right now! He stood and followed, pausing at the door to watch Daniel run... and run... and run. What kind of stupid game was this? Daniel was running with all his might, as though he was fleeing some monster. What on earth?
Was Daniel really going to leave him behind? Wait--maybe it was some kind of delusion. Someone needed to stop him. [i He] needed to stop him. Groaning, Bell discarded his jacket and pipe and gave chase, using every last ounce of speed he could muster. Slowly, he closed the gap between them. Ahead of him, Daniel slowed and looked back, hesitant. Unable to adjust in time, Bell crashed into him, wrapping his arms around Daniel's waist and only just managing to keep the both of them upright.
"Alright, what the hell," he asked, straightening up but keeping a tight grip on Daniel. Spot bounced around them, barking, obviously convinced this whole thing was a game. Heart still racing, panting to catch his breath, he shook his head, puling back a bit to get a good look at Daniel. What was going on? "And I thought you were too sick to hunt?"
The door rattled, the chinking of chains audible from where he sat, huddled in a corner. Landon’s hands tightened around the bat. Spot perked up, tail wagging. The dog was excited for whoever was returning? Why was he locked in though? Confusion didn’t even come close to what Landon felt. He felt betrayed.
Even if this was Bellwether, something had to have happened for him to lock him up. Did he have another psychosis? But he’d had that before and back then Bell had only tied him up. What use was having him walk free when in that state of mind? Was it for his own safety?
The door opened.
Landon stiffened in his corner, adrenalin fuelling his wildly pumping heart. His breathing stocked, paused. He sat still, very still. Definitely Bellwether’s voice. ‘Home’, was it? He wasn’t sure any more what to do -what to think.
Was Bellwether still on his side?
Spot had no reserves and approached Bellwether freely, happy to see the man apparently. The dog would betray his position. Landon knew it from the start. There was only one chance; run now or wait and corner Bellwether to ask for clarification. He’d never won a single battle against Bell, so that option was out.
Running it was.
Landon jumped from his corner once Bell was far enough into the store and bolted for the now opened door. Freedom. He wasted precious seconds acclimatising to the still fierce glare of the sunlight, which clued Landon away that he’d been trapped for quite some time already. Days? Hours?
He didn’t wait for long, feeling the sense of dread speed his heart up; Bellwether would give chase. If it was even the right Bellwether. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the wrong one. A double. No way of checking now.
Doubt set in. Landon slowed down half-way down the street. Why was he running away? He blinked, confused, then looked back. He’d been running, but why? Now that he wasn’t confined, some of the unease settled, though he was still shy a few answers. Should he turn back? He didn’t know.
Nothing made sense.
Where was he even? Landon didn’t recognise the town. His car was nowhere to be seen. Bellwether -the one he could see, wasn’t inside an egg any more, but then, he did recall seeing Bellwether out of the egg, back at the house. He ought to go back there, but how?
Finally, the woman came out, both her and her kid carrying half-eaten ice creams. Bell's jealousy rose again, though this time with a hearty side of frustration. He had to sit here and watch while they went out and had a great evening? How long were they going to take, anyways? Couldn't the lady duck down a side alley and let him kill her already?
Damn, he wanted that ice cream though. His throat was parched and he was sweating in the heat that clung to the late afternoon, his coat much too heavy for this weather. Ice cream would perfectly hit the spot. He gave the shop a glance as he followed after the lady, wishing he could be inside or at least grab a cone. But the lady was hurrying away, so he had to follow. Trying to shove his frustration down, he followed after her. His hands clenched, itching for a chance to use his pipe. He'd love to wipe the satisfied smile off that monster's face.
The lady turned suddenly, leading the boy down a dark alley. Bell all but stopped dead. No way. What? Why? Maybe it was some kind of shortcut. He hurried after her, barely able to believe his luck.
Aside from the lady, her son, and a drugged-out hippie, the alley was empty. Bell glanced at the hippie, but he didn't look like he'd start moving any time soon. He sped up, moving quietly but quickly to catch up to the lady, one hand curling around his pipe. Two steps. One step.
A hand snagged the back of his collar and pulled him up short. Bell spun, drawing the pipe and attacking blindly behind him. The pipe slammed through empty air, the hippie jumping back only just in time to avoid it. "Mrs. Hannah, run!" the hippie snapped. Bell heard the lady speed up, a squeal echoing down the alley as she snapped up her little boy, and gritted his teeth. Damn it! He shouldn't have been so eager! But how was he supposed to expect that the hippie was on the rich lady's side?
He clenched his teeth and lunged at the hippie. Mrs. Hannah could wait. He wanted to let some of this frustration out, and this stupid idiot could bear some of the pain. But every time he struck, the hippie was always just barely not there, sliding out of the range of his pipe each time. Bell clenched his teeth, anger building beyond reason. He just wanted to hit someone! Dammit! Couldn't the hippie stand still and get hit?
"Leave Mrs. Hannah alone!" the hippie insisted, angry. He stepped in suddenly, and Bell swung, putting some of the goat's speed in it so he'd hit. Before the pipe hit, though, the hippie did, a straight punch to Bell's solar plexus that left him gasping for breath and weakened his swing--though the pipe still made contact, at last. The hippie stumbled sideways, screeching in pain, and Bell staggered back, a hand to his chest, heaving in air that seemed just out of his reach. The hippie staggered into the wall and leaned against it, badly hurt. Bell stepped in to push his advantage--
Wait. He stopped dead. Wait. Mrs. Hannah had gotten away. This hippie wasn't the one he wanted to beat in. The hippie was making enough noise to wake the dead; someone would come and find him. And he had no doubts that Mrs. Hannah was heading straight to the police; if he was still here beating up the hippie when they got here, it'd be a total loss. Bell snarled and hit the hippie one last time, with all the strength he could muster, then turned tail and ran, racing into the city.
He didn't head home right away. Worried the hippie might send the police after his trail, he wound the opposite way through the city, shedding his coat and wrapping it up around the pipe, then turned and headed back to the shop. His hands were shaking as he unlocked the chain, angry at himself and the situation and the stupid hippie and everything. "I'm home," he called out, trying not to let his anger out in his voice. He just wanted to punch something, dammit!
Clothes. Everywhere he looked; discarded and abused women’s clothes. What the-? Landon blinked, then looked at Spot as if the dog could magically explain what was going on. They weren’t in Kansas any more, that much was for certain. So they’d left? How long ago, though? Landon peered down. Clothes he recognised were his. Most likely it couldn’t have been long, if he was still wearing these without too many additional holes or stains.
But where was Bellwether?
Landon stood, frustrated by the lack of strength in his legs. Was he sick? He felt sick. Actually, his stomach felt kind of rotten on the inside, as if he’d eaten something vile, something that was fermenting inside. Acrid. He unconsciously put a hand to his stomach and carefully ventured further into the store. There were signs they’d been holed up here for a while; wrappers, a near-empty water-bottle near the makeshift bed, and some food on the surface of what used to be a kitchenette. A path was cleared to it. Most of the things appeared broken however.
He found a door not long after and tried it. Locked. He heard the rattle of a chain. What the hell? Had Bell locked him up here? No, no way. Bell would never. So did that mean he’d been here with someone else? It didn’t make sense. Besides, Spot was there as well. He tried the door again. A sense of dread pooled in his gut.
Okay. No. Logic. This door was locked, so maybe they’d entered the building through another? He ought to search for one. Spot seemed nervous, skirting about his legs as if he wanted to say something, but as a dog, he obviously couldn’t.
“What happened?” Did Bellwether leave him behind? There was no other door. Boarded windows plenty, but no opening, no nothing. The walls suddenly seemed to be coming at him, narrowing the space where he could stand. He was locked in. There was some food -a mercy gift? Should he wait? What if it wasn’t Bell coming back -but no, he still had his bat. What captor would leave him with his bat?
It didn’t make any sense.
Nothing made sense.
He'd forgotten how boring staking someone out could be. Crouched out-of-sight behind a garbage bin in an alley--the same one he'd forsaken earlier with Daniel--he breathed through his mouth and waited, watching for the lady and her kid to pass by. The street was incredibly uneventful. Every now and again, someone would walk by, but that was the extent of the excitement. There weren't any restaurants to watch from this angle, just the street and his boredom.
Bell stifled a yawn and shifted, his body stiff and sore from having sat still for too long. He was kind of envious of Daniel. He'd like to skip the shitty bit, too. That wasn't fair; Daniel was sick. But still. It wasn't exactly fun, hiding in a tiny, cramped place for someone to come by. Who might not even be coming by today. It was great.
The lady passed by at last. He was so bored that he almost didn't notice her; he had to do a double take, jumping up and peeking out of the end of the alley. Nope, definitely that lady. He lounged back, giving her a bit more of a head start, then stalked after her as casually as possible, doing his best to blend into the other passerby, examining the shops and the street rather than locking his eyes on her back. She had the kid with her today, again. Daniel must be right, his kindergarten or preschool had to be right up this way. The kid babbled away, excited by some event or another, and the lady watched him with a warm smile. For a second, Bell imagined it Daniel or Landon and Alice, the two of them happy and chatting excitedly about nothing. A pang of jealousy spiked through Bell's heart. It was stupid. She was a kid, and moreover, dead. But it was... she had so much of Daniel and Landon's heart. He couldn't help but feel jealous.
The boy pointed something out, and Bell could tell by his demeanor that he was begging his mom for something. To Bell's surprise, she gave in and led the way to an ice-cream shop while the little kid danced with excitement. Bell felt the exact opposite of how the kid felt. Great, more lurking. He looked around, trying to find an un-suspicious place to wait.
Really? Showing his bicep? Daniel shook his head with a smirk from his spot in the clothes-pile and rolled his eyes. His headache flared at that -reprimanding Daniel that yeah, he was in worse condition than that right now.
“Right,” Daniel snorted, “well, mister epic hunter, you better not lose.” There was something of concern in Daniel’s voice, but it was carefully masked under a warped sense of humour.
“Well, yeah?” he said regarding Spot, petting the animal’s head when it rested on his side. “I mean, I’m just going to take another nap, might take a piss, but that’ll be the extent of the excitement. Or no, wait…I might try and eat something,” he notified Bell.
Just a stakeout, huh? As if Bell-boy was going to leave it at that when opportunity beckoned.
“Sure,” Daniel agreed readily. Meeting at the car when trouble announced itself seemed sensible. Another meeting-point aside from this place was good to have in general. Bell-boy was out the door before he knew it. Chains rattled some end away and then it was quiet again.
Daniel shifted to rest on his back and cuddled Spot close.
“You’re silly, you know I’m not ‘sick’,” Daniel said, wondering whether dogs, even the goat-kinds, could understand human language to this extent. “It’s my own stupid fault,” he muttered, hands brushing by Spot’s brown-spotted fur. And now Bell-boy was at a greater risk because of it.
Everything was quiet. Peaceful.
Daniel’s hands gradually slowed down their petting. Off-kilter wasn’t the word for how he felt. Detached more like. He couldn’t find a sense of urgency regarding what that meant; Lenny might switch with him. It should’ve concerned him, but it didn’t. Not really.
For a few precious seconds, he felt okay; none of the physical trifles could even touch where he was. He was floating above it all.
Daniel’s hands stopped entirely, body growing lax.
Landon wasn’t sure what he was waking up to. Spot was there, at least. The dog’s fur felt soft against his hands, familiar. He didn’t recognise the place. It wasn’t the house, that much was for sure. Smashed porcelain was strewn across the floor, hangers, clothes and rubbish in general. What was this place?
His hands trembled and he felt a strange sense of unease. What was this place? What the hell? Where was Bellwether?
Daniel didn't feel feverish, but then again, he'd never been the best at telling temperature by touch. He didn't need Daniel's temperature to tell the man was feeling better, though. Just the fact that he was moving around and being his usual chatty self told Bell that. It was reassuring, it really was.
Daniel was going to sit it out? Good, spared Bell the pain of having to suggest it. He'd feared Daniel would take it as a matter of pride and try to push through anyways, but nope. He nodded, glad they hadn't had to fight over that.
"I'll be fine, I've been doing this on my own for years," Bell said, flexing his bicep for Daniel to see...though it was probably less impressive than Daniel's right now. He stopped flexing abruptly and just grinned instead. It didn't matter, really. The point was, he could handle this. He'd hunted alone for years before Daniel showed up. There was nothing to worry about.
Bell gave Daniel a funny look. "You're sick, but you want to send Spot with me? I'm not leaving you defenseless. Spot stays here."
Spot whined in agreement, resting his head on Daniel's side.
"Anyways, I'm just going to stake things out today, so don't worry. You wouldn't have much to do even if you went." He leaned forward and gave Daniel a kiss. "Alright. You stay here. I'll lock you in. If you have to run for some reason--" not that he could imagine anything coming up, but just in case "--we'll meet at the car. Alright?" He grinned at Daniel, then stood and walked away. He unlocked the chain on his way out, then locked it again from the outside. Hopefully it'd stop anyone from coming in. Hopefully it'd all be okay. Why shouldn't it be? He was stupid to worry. But he couldn't help it.
The sun was just setting as he exited the shop. A quick glance around revealed no one waiting to ambush him or Daniel, so he turned and headed back where they'd seen the woman yesterday. This time, he went a little further along her route, towards where they'd found the killing spots. With any luck, he'd be able to trace a little more of her path today.
Jumpy, wasn’t he? Daniel narrowed his eyes at Bell-boy for a split-second, but whatever Bell-boy’s nightmares had been, they weren’t anything related to their usual routine of choking and whatever else. More nightmares from a different memory then? Daniel realised he was sluggish by how he hadn’t even noticed Bell-boy’s hand was reaching for his forehead until they touched.
Bell-boy’s hand felt nice and cool.
Daniel instinctively leaned in, eyelids half-mast.
“Hmm,” he considered pensively, then shook himself and smirked at Bell-boy, “better. Comes and goes, really. It’s annoying,” Daniel explained. He watched the other man, not quite sure what to suggest next.
He was probably more of a liability more than anything on the hunt and yet -he didn’t want to forsake an opportunity like this. Or leave Bell-boy without backup.
“You can still catch the woman if you hurry,” Daniel offered. He looked away, down at his hands, which still held the bottle of water. Seemed his stomach was fine with fluids for now, but probably not much else. And he felt a little weak from not having eaten anything; weak. He’d been used to far worse before Bell-boy had been encased in the egg. Now his body craved fuel for his muscles.
Or maybe it was just because of that stupid dependency he was trying to shake. Again.
“I’ll sit this one out for today,” Daniel said, consigning defeat.
There was no helping it. Hopefully tonight he’d be able to get some decent rest and feel better tomorrow. Well enough to kill. Fat chance. Knowing Bell-boy, shit would happen tonight. Daniel couldn’t say he was eager to see Bell-boy go at it alone. Especially since the man hadn’t figured himself to be at full strength since he’d ‘hatched’ as well. Lack of confidence was murder -literally.
But he trusted Bell-goat to prevent Bell-boy’s decline.
He took a deep breath and capped the bottle, then wiped his face down and carefully laid back down, this time facing Bell-boy.
“You be okay on your own? I mean, Spot could-“ Daniel shrugged half-heartedly. Bell-boy’s pride would probably get in the way of that one.
Daniel's "sure" was almost the first thing he'd said since he'd vomited, and was reassuring in its own way. Not that he'd doubted Daniel would wake him; hardly. The man seemed more than happy to send him off on errands. But it was nice to hear him speak.
Bell fell asleep quickly enough, body used to the pile now and Daniel close enough to touch, safe and sound beside him. He didn't snuggle up; it was too hot, and besides, he didn't want to catch what Daniel had. But he did scoot close enough to touch Daniel, his fingertips making contact with Daniel's back, so he'd wake up if Daniel moved away.
He dreamed of the river. The rushing, flowing river roaring past, engorged by a recent storm, water foaming over rocks and splashing down into itself, spinning and twirling in frenzied whirlpools. When it got like that, it was too dangerous to swim. Kids had drowned before, stronger swimmers than he. He sat on the bank and watched it flow, tossed a stone at the water. It skipped the surface, impossibly, once, twice, though the water was far too disturbed to skip stones on. He blinked, then lifted another stone.
A dark creature stood out of the water. Water rolled off its body, ran down slim limbs, eddied around its ankles. He stared, clutching the stone tight. The monster moved, taking a step forward, impossibly black, so black it seemed to swallow the light.
He threw the stone and ran, sprinting faster than he'd ever ran before. Brambles pulled at his legs as he screamed up the riverbank; he fell, and they scratched at his arms as he shoved away and pulled himself up, feet searching for traction in thick, slippery mud. He could hear it approaching, each step heavy enough to shake the earth, the monster moving slow and deliberate. No, no, no! Every last fiber of his being screamed out to run, that he had to get away--
A hand landed heavily on his shoulder. Bell jumped, eyes flying open, then sighed out. It was only Daniel. "Hey, how're you feeling?" he asked, reaching out to press a hand to Daniel's forehead and check his temperature.
It was quiet, except for Bell-boy’s chewing noises. Daniel looked up, unimpressed and sighed before laying back down. Spot inched closer, Bell-boy’s hand stroked his hair. It was nice. Felt good to be loved. Weird, novel, almost, after all the arguments they’d had about ‘love’ and the difference between love and caring. He reached out for Spot’s pelt and mindlessly stroked the fur.
Any idea? Yeah. How about withdrawal? Daniel was surprised Bell-boy hadn’t reached the same conclusion yet. It didn’t seem Bell-boy needed an answer though, because the man laid down next to him without another word mentioned. Hopefully that meant Bell-boy assumed Daniel didn’t know either.
Spot probably knew. The mutt had been there every single night, watching him drink his life away.
“Sure,” he breathed. Not as if he figured he’d need anything. Maybe a toilet, in the foreseeable future, but that wasn’t anything Bell-boy could help him with anyway. Bell-boy had the right idea, going to sleep like that. Daniel sighed and got a little more comfortable, reassured by Bell’s presence, asleep or not.
He wasn’t sure what he’d done if the man had continued the hunt alone. Might’ve gone out and solved his misery by getting something proper to drink.
He couldn’t help it in the end. His eyes closed as if acting on their own and within minutes, Daniel was fast asleep. Feverish dreams played him parts, making his sleep restless. At first he was in some type of zoo, with a giraffe. With the turn of his back, he was standing in an infinite space; dark, black as a goat’s skin, shimmering like a goat’s eyes. Another blink of his eyes brought him back to his youth, standing at a swing, shouting at some other kids as they played make-belief wars.
Daniel woke feeling disoriented and off-kilter. His stomach felt better, but his head felt funny. He sat up slowly, feeling a little shaky still, and got the water. Even tepid, it felt good to wash away the dryness of his throat. He couldn’t have been asleep for long.
Daniel put a hand to Bell-boy’s shoulder.
Wouldn’t want to mess up their hunt because of this stupid mess a second time.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.