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The town was buzzing, but the more he walked, the quieter it got. Landon wasn't even sure where he was headed. In his confused state, he found a phone-booth, tried to call his psychiatrist, only to realize the booth was no longer operational. Why would it be, nowadays, when everybody had mobile phones? He abandoned the idea and stumbled from the booth. The wire felt like it'd come alive, the small confines threatening to buckle in on him.
He nearly collided with another person. They gave him a weird look, called him a dick and moved on. It was empty inside. The reassuring fall-back that was Daniel felt missing. Landon didn't know what would happen if he was forced to leave now. Maybe he wouldn't be able to at all.
At the same time, he didn't feel attached to anything. Untethered, he started walking again, until the need for human presence became too great and he fumbled his way into a pub. It was late, by then. There were plenty of people just sitting around and chatting. Landon felt watched. For a split-second everyone's faces turned to look at him. All of their eyes were black. They were weeping. They were all Bellwether-goat. Divided. Many. All of them were goats. What if he was the last human?
He wasn't even human.
Fear welled up in him and Landon felt his breathing hitch, until someone fumbled around him and said a hushed 'sorry' as they did so. The world snapped back to reality. People had gone on without paying him any mind. Landon stepped out of the way, numb and lost. Why was he here? Without Bell? Bell was... everywhere and nowhere. Reset. Spliced off from the greater. It was Bellwether's opportunity to be himself, but why did it feel wrong to Bellwether-goat then? He didn't understand. His head hurt.
The next thing he knew he was sitting at a table, staring into half a beer, a forlorn expression on his face. Daniel? Landon sat up, felt the world spin and regretted the act. Why was he here? What was he doing? Landon stood, the beer spilled. He wobbled on his feet and staggered out of the pub, back out on the streets. Home. He needed to go home.
When he woke up, he was alone.
For a second, he laid there, motionless. The hotel room gazed back. It could have been anywhere. Same walls. Same art. Same furniture, same television, same bed.
Empty. Like him.
He climbed to his feet. It had faded, the fever, the ache. Vanished down deep inside of him where everything else had gone. Now it was revealed to him: he was nothing. There were no faint memories to be remembered, only the echos of what had been taken. No memories of Daniel, only the memories of that woman, forced upon him, which he himself had imprinted Daniel and Landon over.
[i I didn't have to know.]
They were cruel like that. Forcing him to realize. Asking if he was the real one. He was nothing to them, and now he was nothing to himself as well.
He headed out. They'd left him behind. He had to find them.
Of course they didn't want an empty husk. Who would? He put his hands to his chest, as if he could feel it falling out of himself, everything that he was. He had to find the rest of him. He wasn't complete like this. If he could find the rest of him, then maybe he'd understand.
He grabbed his jacket. It had the key, if he could find them in time. [i Ha, who am I kidding?] It would be an eternity before he could come back here. Maybe he could get their help, but no. They were already gone, weren't they?
He headed out into the hotel. Out onto the streets. A part of him searched for any sign of Daniel or Landon, any hint to where they'd gone, but what was there to find? There were footsteps in the snow, but there were dozens of those. Hundreds. How was he supposed to pick theirs out?
[i What if they kill themselves?]
The thought stopped him dead. It was always a possibility with those two, wasn't it?
[i How do I know that?]
It was a reasonable assumption. They were unstable. He found himself crouched by their car before he knew what he was doing, looking at the footprints pressed into the snow. Those were his. So those... were theirs?
Back to the doorway. He searched among the footprints there, trying to pick pieces from the well-trodden snow. It was a long shot, but it was all he had.
Sleep? Landon blinked up at Bell and pushed up, but the man wouldn't let him. He grabbed him in a tight hold and even felt hot to the touch. What the-? Landon narrowed his eyes. It'd been Bellwether-goat a second ago, or no. Something else. Something the same, yet different. His heart sank. And it'd been the second time Bell had brought it out apparently, because he was running a high fever. Daniel? No, he'd been driving?
Landon wrestled free from Bellwether's grip, uncomfortable being held by the man while they still hadn't figured out where they stood with one another, but also thoroughly confused. His head hurt, there was a familiar fog cloying his thoughts that told him Daniel might have forsaken taking the medication they were on. How many days had it been then? Several?
He was tired, hurt. Hurt. Landon reached up and found bandages wrapped around his head. They weren't fresh, but they weren't grody yet either, so they'd probably been there for a while. Landon brushed Bell's hair back and hushed the man.
"Just sleep," he eased Bell, then waited until he heard the man's breathing slow and got up out of bed. Something felt wrong, inside. Landon wasn't even sure what.
After a moment's thought, he shifted and moved to the bathroom to take off the bandages. He was sore all over, worn. He looked it too. Once the bandages came off, Landon inspected the stitches. They were alright, but not professionally done, so he could probably thank Bellwether for doing those. He pushed his coat and several layers of clothes out of the way to see what'd happened to his ribs. Dark bruises blinked back at him.
It felt wrong. It felt all wrong.
His eyes searched the hotel room and found Bellwether. Was it him? Had he fought Bell? He didn't quite remember, but Landon knew he had, somehow. The headache he had was one reminiscent of talking to goats. Had Bell killed himself? Was that why he was feverish now? There was something he had to do. He was broken, like the goat was. Shattered into pieces, divided across many against his will. They weren't that different, it and him. But it wasn't right. Nothing felt right.
Landon found the pills in his pocket and with shaky hands pressed out another dose. He wasn't supposed to, but they were taking less than they were supposed to, trying to taper things down to actually hear himself think and feel something. Landon washed them down, paced across the room and finally left Bell in favour of getting some fresh air. It felt like something wasn't right. It didn't feel right. None of it did. He didn't even know where he was going, but chose a random direction and started walking.
The goat regarded them, the one-two-one of them. Dark eyes laced with gold blinked slowly. This one was lost, too. As they were. It impressed upon this one its breaking apart. For a long moment, it hesitated. There was so much to this world. It was in so many places at once. In the bed, here, on streets, on distant beaches, human eyes showing it so little of this world and so much at the same time.
Then it folded in and vanished, back inside its shell. Bell plopped to the bed. His eyes were shut and his body was hot, feverish.
He twitched slightly. [i Hurts.] everything hurt. It all ached, his whole body, like he was sick with the flu. Slowly, he peeled his eyes open to find Daniel there. "Sleep," he requested. Why did he feel so sick? Just a second ago, he'd felt fine.
[i Black hands. Hands that weren't his.] He clenched his hands, felt the texture of his skin. They were fine. Everything was all fine now. He grabbed a tight hold onto Daniel, afraid to let him go. He couldn't let Daniel out of his sight. If he tried to do anything, Bell was too weak to stop it. "Please, let's just sleep."
What had Daniel done to him? He lifted a heavy hand and wiped at his brow, then shivered and curled up. He felt awful. So horribly sick. What had he done? That symbol, what was it? He tried to recall it and found that he couldn't. It was a vague shape, too fuzzy to make out or remember. He felt like he should be scared, maybe, run away, but he had no energy for that right now. All he wanted was to rest, sleep, get better.
Darkness rolled over him, heavy as a blanket. It was less sleep than oblivion, exhaustion pressing him down to the floor and smothering his thoughts. He was helpless to fight it. There was nothing he could do but fall, deeper and deeper, into oblivion.
There was so much of it. So much nothing. There was nothing inside him, nothing at all. His memories hadn't been smudged out, but removed, completely wiped away until he was left hollow. He tumbled into the darkness, trying to find any handhold, anything to grab onto, but there was nothing. Just feeble impressions. False images, projected into the emptiness that was him.
So it wasn't and was, the same thing. All its shells divided into others? Did that mean Rebecca was now freed? Or was she still caught with Elsie and her 'God' back at Haven? Memories flashed by.
It hurt. So many memories. Enough to fill a life-time and maybe more. Daniel felt like he might get stuck in the eternal influx of them and tried to wrestle free.
Despair. Where to even start? Daniel wasn't even sure whether what was wrong needed to be 'right' again. Rewards rather than punishments? Daniel laughed at the thought of it. When had it ever seen fit to be generous, other than to facilitate? To reward, instead of take away? No. No, this was not the Bell-goat he knew indeed. It was a disgusting derivative of it. Elsie was going to suffer for this one way or another. Her goat would be too.
Nothing was at it was. Nothing was as it should be. He would help it, even if it would be the last thing he did and Daniel realized he wasn't even sure why. Sure, yeah, Bell-goat was now fundamentally different, but what did that mean to him? Nothing. It meant nothing. And now that Bell-boy was fundamentally different too, what was the point in him staying? Shouldn't he just grief the loss of someone he'd come to love and accept, once and for all, that this insane relationship could and should have never been?
What did he even love?
All of that had already died.
It had never been. Daniel closed his eyes. If it wanted to be generous, it'd let him sleep. His head hurt. Daniel hugged himself and pulled up his legs as much as the goat's embrace would allow for him to. He wanted to sleep and not hurt. Inside and out. A resonance, outside of him; the goatling. Daniel felt something snap and then simply stopped being aware of everything. Black surrounded him. Everything was black.
It wasn't sleep, not entirely. He could feel the goatling there.
His body went limp in Bellwether-goat's grip. No one was in control. A jerk. Landon swallowed, unfocussed eyes scanning over what he saw in a poor attempt to make sense of things. He felt hollow inside. As if something had been unplugged.
He looked a little lost. Bell stood there, not really sure what he was doing, but sure he wanted to be ready for anything.
Did he want to-- "Make sure you stay safe," he replied honestly. Daniel was going nuts. He wasn't crazy enough to try and make a move on a madman halfway to going psychotic. If he didn't stand close, though, who knew what Daniel would do? He might lunge, or bolt, or anything. As long as he was close, he could catch the man before he did anything crazy. Well. [i Too] crazy.
They'd been wondering? "What?" he asked. Daniel waved his hand in the air. Bell watched it, confused. What was going on? Was this some kind of test? "Am I supposed to...?" he gestured back, doing his best to copy the shape.
It happened suddenly. Black welled up. He saw his hands flip, fold inside out, turn dark and drip. Bell staggered back, startled, and then he was gone.
The goat was smaller than before. Sleeker. Not as small as the goatling or sinewy-goat, but smaller. It coiled around Daniel like a snake and lifted him up. So curious. So curious, this one.
It sent an impression of rightness, then of wrongness. Back in the cave, the hanging bodies. One of the lumps. Bell's face. A split. Cells dividing. One became two. Streamlined. A flash of Rebecca's face, black. A thousand other memories flashed past, black, black, black. A tree being pruned. The branches, cast-off, twisted into a misshapen thing, a broken bush. More branches fell. The tree was whittled to a trunk. A blade, a knife jabbed through it, and cut, cut, kept cutting. The tree became something else. A sculpture. A chair. The artist had shaped it. Elsie. The cave again. They came to the end of a road and went past it. Further. Too far.
The cast off branches had become a bush, but now they took on the shape of a man. A familiar face, wearing a familiar jacket.
It offered Daniel its help, though he didn't need it. But it was in a generous mood. This, what was left, felt generous. As long as he would find the rest of it, it would be generous.
A nudge. Daniel looked at Bell-boy, as if startled out of some other state of mind, but as sudden as he felt clear-headed, it all started to become muddled up again.
"I did. Maybe I need more," he said and scratched his head. Bandages were in the way. Their room looked okay. A nice big bed was sprawled out in the middle of it, some low-key furniture set to the side. Daniel watched Bell-boy strip and stepped inside, sluggishly closing the door behind.
"I thought you were something else," he muttered apologetically. Hit him, hadn't he? He hadn't meant to. It just seemed so real. Daniel never questioned a need to act. In their line of business, it could cost him his head.
Daniel realized he was stood in the middle of the room, just spacing out, when Bell-boy stood and came up at him. He watched the man, watched as the edges of the man before him shimmered and quivered, ready to change and warp into something unearthly.
"I'm a bit lost right now, Bell-boy, won't lie," Daniel confessed. It'd only take one little push to lose his shit again, probably. His chest hurt, from struggling before and their little rough-housing with the goat earlier.
He didn't want to sleep. Daniel knew there'd be nightmares then for sure. He was tired though. Lenny had taken to driving all day, little fucker. Should've taken Bell-boy up on his offer.
"Why? You want to do something, Bell-boy?" Daniel said with a cheeky grin, one he didn't quite feel. He wasn't sure he wanted to be touched right them. It'd only take one turn before they were fighting again. He'd already hurt Bell-boy. Back at the facility, they'd just drug him into oblivion, nice and easy. All that'd happen would be a nice, soft padded room and waking up with a dry mouth.
If he was lucky.
"Are you really him?" Daniel asked. "We've been wondering, but we didn't want to upset anything," he breathed out, hand already lifting to draw Bellwether-goat's symbol. They needed to know for sure. Hadn't Lenny listened to Bell-boy's heart? Had they heard the cogs? Was it false? How did they know it was really a sign?
He wasn't attributing emotions to anyone. Landon hated him, it was clear as day. Bell huffed. Why was Daniel only being coherent when it didn't matter? Useless bugger.
Bell frowned at Daniel's 'no,' then shrugged. Yeah, alright, a psychotic episode was probably not a great sign. "I... what? Where would I go?" he asked. Especially with Daniel losing his mind, he really could not afford to do anything crazy. Maybe he'd been considering a little walk, but just a little one. It wasn't like he was going to leave Daniel behind.
"You take your meds?" he asked Daniel, giving him a little nudge to catch his attention. They'd seemed to be keeping up the schedule so far, but what could he say? He didn't know what it was, so he couldn't judge.
Their room appeared before him. He opened it with the card, and the lock clicked open. Bell looked around. A big bed, couple of nightstands, the standard bathroom. He paused, then scanned the room again. One bed? Well. It looked like Daniel had intentions.
Or... maybe it was just habit, since Daniel was off his head right now.
He stripped out of his jacket and threw it on a nearby chair, then sank down on the bed, sipping from his cup of hot water. The whole while, he kept his eyes on Daniel, tracking the other man's progress through the room. If he made a break for it again, he'd be right on top of that mess. At least this time he didn't have a weapon.
Now that he was sitting in the heat of the room, his elbow was really starting to throb. Bell rubbed it absentmindedly. It wasn't that bad of an injury, he didn't think. It was just aching now that it was warm enough to hurt.
What was he doing? He stopped mid-rub and stared dead ahead. What was he even doing? Wandering around with a madman, no goal in mind, no place to be. What was this? Was this really his life? But he'd been right about the goats. And if he wasn't with Daniel, he'd be on the streets, scraping together the money to get by. So he might as well enjoy it, right? For as long as Daniel's money lasted, assuming it did.
"Hey, Daniel. How're you doing tonight?" he asked idly. He sat up, then stood. "Gonna go to sleep?" Bell moved closer. He wasn't that tired, since he'd slept all day. He could watch Daniel all night if he needed to.
"Daniel," he pointed out sluggishly. Just nicked the man's arm? Daniel tried to see whether he'd damaged anything, but couldn't tell. Wake him up for what? The card? Daniel gave Bell-boy a confused look, but he dismissed it again. He didn't have enough energy to pursue that line of thought and didn't feel it was necessary.
Oh. He gave Bell-boy a slow nod.
"Makes sense, made friends then?" Daniel started with a languid smirk. Lenny would wear on Bell-boy sooner or later. There had to be a reason why Bell-boy had been so loyal to Lenny back then.
"Why do you-?" Daniel shook his head.
"Why do you attribute emotions to other people like that? Have you asked Lenny whether he hates you? Did you ask? No, so point is, you don't know whether or not he hates you and neither does he know what you feel. You're both stupid," he muttered and walked into the heated lobby.
For a second, Daniel blinked at the bright lights, confused as to what they were doing there. Bell-boy was no help, just fiddling with the coffee-machines in the back of the room. There was a person behind the desk just smiling at him, repeating her earlier question for what felt like the third time. Daniel watched her lips move and finally a switch turned on to the fact that they were getting rooms. Rooms, in a hotel, using his card, which Bell-boy had been looking for earlier.
"Just a room, big bed. We can share," he explained and got out his card. Without question, the lady got them one of the rooms and slid over some keys. Daniel took them and joined Bell-boy and caught up to the man mid-way.
He docilely watched as Bell-boy stole a key.
"Probably not," Daniel snorted. "You leaving somewhere, Bell-boy?" He looked at the man's face to catch a lie, then decided he didn't care. The Bell-boy that didn't remember didn't know who they'd been. To him, he was just company, not a partner in any shape or form. Daniel let Bell-boy figure out where their room was and followed at a slow pace. The walls were shifting, like there was something underneath the wallpaper. He was too tired to care. He ought to take another dose of the medication to prevent a regression, but honestly? Daniel didn't care about knocking himself out like that. Hadn't Bell-boy gotten them some sleeping aids at some point?
Little fucker would do that, wouldn't he? Spike his drink like that?
Landon's limbs bashed against his back, flailing wildly. Bell held on tight, afraid of what would happen if he let go. "Come on, come on," he muttered. The car's icy body bit his bare hands. His feet slipped in the ice. He couldn't hold on much longer, but he had to, he had to!
Slowly, the man stopped struggling. The bat thumped into the ice. Bell pulled away enough to get a look at Landon, but didn't let go or back away. Let him go? Sure. He'd jump right for that bat and they'd be right back where they started.
A few seconds passed. He insisted again. Bell loosened his grip and moved away, then let go. When the man didn't lunge at him or the bat, he breathed out and lowered his guard a hair. Looked like it was over, whatever it was.
Bell bent and picked up the bat, tucking it away with his pipe for now. Didn't want them to have a weapon, if they were going to attack him randomly like that. "Landon or Daniel?" he asked.
"Nicked my arm, but it's fine." He started toward the hotel, keeping an eye on the other man to make sure he held pace and didn't bolt or lunge again. "I'll make sure to wake you up for the card next time, huh?" He'd thought he'd do them a favor and let them sleep, but apparently that was right off the table.
Bell looked up at the hotel, then back at the car, memorizing it for the next time, if he got lost or separated or something. "Landon was better. Ish," Bell put out there. "He still hates me, but we can play pretend like we're friends, at least." As long as he didn't act out, Landon didn't play the sad sack either. It meant he had to sit there and take the other man's kicked-puppy eyes, but--whatever. Surely he'd come around eventually. Or not, and then it wasn't Bell's problem anymore.
They walked into the lobby, a blast of hot air and the scent of hotel air freshener washing over them. He followed Daniel up to the desk, got bored, and went to fiddle with the coffee machines in the back of the room. When Daniel got keys, he looked up and walked back over, sipping at a cup of hot water. "We good?" he asked, stealing a key for himself.
It was quick. Daniel noticed he ran out of breath quick, but he still managed to connect at least once. It didn't seem bothered in the least. Again he swung for the goat, but it grabbed him tight, slimy, black skin oozed into his, hair pricked at his neck where their skin touched and he could feel the talons dig into his arms. He couldn't quite catch his breath, but that didn't stop Daniel struggling against his opponent. Couldn't just- just... Daniel blinked. His vision turned a little hazy and he stilled. It felt like he'd disconnected from everything again, as if he'd float from his body and just leave it a crumpled heap.
"Let me go," Daniel protested, voice distant. All the fight had seeped out of him. He could barely lock his knees to prevent his legs from buckling. Snow. The white, it was snow. He realized it now and chuckled softly. A staggering step back, into the flesh wall that held him and the car that held them both up. Daniel pulled at his arms for the other person to let go. It was a person, he realized that now. His fingers lost their grip on the bat and it fell to the pavement, bounced, and rolled off, until it came to a stop near the car's wheels.
"'m good, let me go," he offered up a second time. He was tired now, beyond belief. It still felt as if his head might just pop and reality would vanish with his consciousness, but at least he was back. For now. He reached up with a hand and grabbed Bell's arm, though just hung on and didn't pull. Daniel tried to focus, shook his head, regretted it and steadied himself a little, taking on some more of his own weight. His legs felt like noodles.
Shit. He'd had an episode again, didn't he? They'd been rare, back in treatment. Maybe not for Lenny though. He'd have thought it'd be okay now, with Bell-boy there. Lenny had been doing so well.
"Did I hit you?" Daniel asked and tried to look over his shoulder at Bell-boy. "Felt like I hit something, sorry." He finally managed to catch his breath. His chest hurt.
"Fucking stubborn," he muttered. Lenny hadn't taken a single break, had he? "Let's get a room," Daniel offered, slowly recovering. The hotel wouldn't come into focus for what it was, but he had faith it would once he approached it.
Landon clawed at him wildly. Bell pulled away, giving him some room. No? "What, you want to sleep on the street?" he grumbled. Landon had better stop sleep-talking and hand over his card.
But he wouldn't stop. Unprepared, Bell tried his hardest to keep them in the car, but he was a squirmy, determined little bastard. "Daniel, Landon, damn it, whoever it is, just sit still!"
Not a chance. Like a fish on dry land, he flopped onto the ground. At least there was some dirty old snow to cushion his fall, though Bell got the feeling it wasn't doing much. He stepped back, watching as they climbed to their feet. What was this? What was going on?
Landon's eyes were unfocused. They followed something else, something Bell couldn't see. Bell stepped back. What was going on? Wait, they were mentally unstable, weren't they, Landon and Daniel. He bit his lip. So this is what that looked like. It wasn't a good look.
"Alright, calm down," he tried, holding his hands out. Kill him? [i Okay, maybe things are getting out of hand.] "It's Bell, Landon. Daniel. Whoever it is. Calm down."
He rushed for the car. Bell watched him go for a second, not really sure what he was trying to achieve. Landon didn't have the keys, so he couldn't--
Bell barely had time to register the bat in Landon's hands before the guy swiped at his head. He staggered back. His hand went to the pipe, but it was locked away in his jacket. Bell fumbled at the opening, fingers sliding over the fabric. He couldn't grab it out, couldn't--
What was he going to do, swordfight the delusional man in a hotel parking lot? Bell hesitated. The bat swiped by inches away from his chest. It caught his elbow on the way past. Bell jumped back, other hand clutching his arm. Damn, that hurt! "Calm down!"
It was a wild swipe. Big, long, slow. He threw himself at Landon before he could wind up for another blow, grabbing the man's arms in a hug. They crashed back against the car, all tangled up together. "Jeez, stop," Bell complained. He wanted to go to sleep, too, not wrestle out in the cold and the snow.
A hand on his shoulder. Daniel raked about him. He'd been there before, fucking 'nurses' his ass. Always trying to man-handle him from one place to another, sometimes beating him, sometimes drugging him to death. And then the hands were those of the researchers, threatening to get him into the tube, fumbling about his body deceptively gently.
"No!" Daniel snarled. Fuck them! He'd never go back there. It was cold. He wasn't wearing any clothes. Shit. White. Everywhere was white. Daniel took on a fighting stance, but was hindered by unseen objects.
He wrestled until he fell out of the, by him, unseen car. Pain resonated through his chest and Daniel laid there for a second, stunned. It didn't take long. Daniel got up to his feet, hand to his chest, and eyes unfocussed. The world felt unhinged and unbalanced, swaying like a boat, rocking back and forth on waves.
It was all black in the white.
Daniel looked at it, saw the goat for what it was.
"You're not here," he huffed out sluggishly, fighting some unseen pull. Daniel blinked and tried to shake his head clear and failed. "You're not here," Daniel pointed out with a little more conviction. He tried to tear his eyes away, but the blackness was the only thing he could see, it was the only thing that moved. Black folded upon black, organs meshed with skin, folded around bones and squirmed in chunks and pieces to form and decompose limbs, horns, teeth and hair.
It was everything and nothing at the same time. Not graceful enough to be the goatling. Not hideous enough to be Bell-goat.
"Fucker, show yourself," Daniel called it out. What was its symbol?
"I'll kill you, mother-fucker," he snarled, but he didn't have his bat. His head hurt. Daniel narrowed his eyes. It didn't move. It just stood there. Still. Shifting. Moving. Something changed and Daniel wasn't sure what. Like a rubber band that'd been over-stretched and suddenly snapped.
Slowly, grey started to shimmer through the white. A street, a light-post. Their car. Their car! Daniel lunged for it and found the bat, then, without a second's hesitation, lunged at the goat.
Well, alright then. Looked like Landon wasn't in the mood to be picky. He looked around, found a sign to a reasonable-looking hotel, and headed in its direction. The drive wasn't a long one. They were nearly in the city to begin with, and the city was pretty empty this late. It was a small enough city that most things would close by ten, and the streets were deserted. He found himself stopping at stoplights without another soul in sight, waiting for no one.
The hotel loomed at last. It wasn't the fanciest thing, but it was decent, an acceptably good hotel. It was in a good part of town; the bars were upscale and the restaurants were classy. The snow even looked cleaner, somehow. There probably wouldn't be too many roaches, so Landon should be happy. Bell parked near the door and turned to Landon for the card.
Landon was struggling in his sleep, almost rocking the car as he tossed and turned. For just a second, Bell hesitated; then he reached out and shook Landon. Whatever it was, it couldn't be a good dream. He'd probably be happy to be woken. "Hey, wake up," he said. "We're here."
Honestly, it was kind of amazing he'd fallen so deeply asleep so quickly. It'd taken him a little while to find the hotel, but not [i that] long. He snorted. Maybe the goatling was healing Landon, and that was what it looked like. Or maybe it was just a part of their larger psychological issues. Either way, he didn't think it'd be fun to suffer whatever nightmare they were lashing out against right now.
"Landon, Daniel, I need the card." He stepped out of the car and opened the back seat doors. Cold air whisked in, replacing the warmth in the car. With any luck, it'd wake the two of them a little. Bell stood in the cold for a second, watching. Then he sighed out and knelt. Pockets, pockets. These coats had so many pockets. He picked over their coat, searching out the card. Had to be somewhere. Almost by instinct, he searched gently, lightly, as if he didn't want them to feel his hands. He knew Landon wouldn't mind him borrowing the card, and still was careful about the way he plucked their pockets open. [i Where is that stupid thing,] he thought, annoyed. Too many pockets on these coats.
A drowsy nod. He'd trust Bell to drive them. So far Bell hadn't shown to be an irresponsible driver or anything, so why would things be different this time around? Rather than take it easy and shuffle across the ice like any sane person, Bell jogged over to the car. Landon raised an eyebrow. Okay, maybe things were different this time around.
"I will," he said with a faint chuckle. At least Bell was still standing.
"I'll be fine," Landon said regarding the heating. They'd gone all out on coats for a change, after all. He zipped up and relinquished the keys to Bell. Landon got comfortable and docilely watched as Bell familiarized himself with their old car.
After a while, the engine finally roared to life and Landon relaxed a little. It wasn't long before the monotone static of the engine guided him to a deeper state of sleep. The back-seat was no bed and it wasn't exactly comfortable with his injuries, but Landon still managed to start back to reality at Bell's voice.
"What?" he started, sucking in air to get his bearings quicker.
Oh. Nothing was actually going on. Landon relaxed a little and sagged back into his spot on the seat. "We'll just be sleeping there -first thing that looks like it won't be infested with roaches will do," Landon suggested sleepily. Frankly, that's why he usually went for the more expensive places. Having roaches for bed-guests just didn't appeal to him.
"Don't worry about the cost," he said with a yawn and let his eyes close. A bed sounded like heaven right now.
Despite his misgivings regarding the back-seat, Landon promptly fell asleep a second time. This time, his sleep was deeper and more profound. For a moment he felt as if he was floating, the car and the noises from the road turning into a dream-state environment he couldn't quite place. Other than those sounds, there was only darkness and the feeling that there ought to be more.
Landon started to realize what was going on and a sense of urgency welled up. He struggled. No. He didn't want to let Daniel take over again. Things had been going in the right direction with him and Bell. He wanted- he wanted... What did he want?
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