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He didn't. This Bell didn't- none of what'd happened, none of that perfect life had ever happened. It was all just some cruddy dream. Fuck. Daniel took the food he was offered and turned the banana over in his hands. His feet hurt, now that he'd sat down for a while.
"Your memories went funny," Daniel explained.
Bell sat down next to him, so close. Warm though. Familiar. Rather than reply the question, Daniel leaned in and rested his head on Bell's shoulder. He was tiring out, is how he felt. Each time he lost touch with reality, it cost an incredible amount of effort to return to it.
"Tired," Daniel sighed out.
"Nothing makes sense most of the time. I'm losing my shit," he snorted. Only it wasn't funny. Not remotely.
A moment of clarity was perhaps even crueller than just being lost. Lenny had been there, at some point. Daniel couldn't let him take over though. The man would kill himself, or try to. Free the goatling, huh?
"It's trapped," Daniel said softly. "I need to go there."
The urgency was met with a world-weariness. There was just no way he could at the moment. His feet steadily stopped bleeding. Daniel pulled away from Bell and started to eat. Maybe food would give him some energy, though he didn't count on it.
"It's... it's being experimented on; they, they've got this long needle but I told it to destroy and reject it," he explained softly. His fingers clumsily worked the fruit free from its peel. His fingers were shaky, same as his hands and he was cold.
Bell's warmth however was nice, the way he was sat beside him.
Daniel ate. The moment of clarity passed. What was left was a hollow shell. Dull eyes stared unseeingly at the inside of the white tent.
He only knew because more time had passed by the time he came back around. Confusion set the tone. He couldn't make out where he was, or why, though there was a distinct feeling that he ought to.
His feet smarted.
Most of his body ached like he'd been running a marathon. Maybe he had -been running. Almost. The memory was almost there, but remained out of reach.
"Fuck," he whispered and tried to push up from where he'd been resting. He had to go, get to it. Free the goatling.
Daniel had flipped to being docile. It was weird, but much preferable to him fighting so hard earlier. He hesitated on the way into the building but honestly, it wasn't even worth mentioning. Not compared to how horrible his behavior had been up until now. Despite the protest, Daniel followed him inside easily enough. "You don't have to go, you're fine," Bell assured him. He didn't know where Daniel thought he was, or where he had to go, but for now, he was fine.
He led Daniel into the tent and sat him down on the bed. His eyes were dazed and blank, like when he'd first come out of the institution. Looked like he was gone for a bit. Bell sighed, then shook his head. No, this was an opportunity. He had to get breakfast made, clean up the tent a bit; he hadn't had time to do any of his usual morning rituals with Daniel freaking out.
He was in the middle of stuffing a banana in his face when Daniel started moving again. Bell looked up, ready to jump, but he was just getting dressed. When he was done, he gathered the comforter around him, all burrowed up and cute. "You're adorable," Bell said, scruffing Daniel's hair.
Oh hey, intelligent conversation? Shit, that was a first. "Nah, that didn't happen," Bell said. He passed Daniel a banana. "How could you cheat when you were in that tube? Not like someone was gonna climb in there to get some dick."
He sat next to Daniel and looked at him. "How're you doing? Hanging in there?" He wasn't sure there was any point to talking to Daniel while he was still mostly out of it, but it'd been so long. So long since he'd talked to Daniel and gotten anything like a reasonable response. "I want to go free the goatling soon, but..." he shrugged. There was no way he could risk the hunters with Daniel like this.
He had a plan, again. The institute heist had worked so well, why not use it again? He could sneak in as a janitor and at least get halfway there before anyone knew anything was wrong--but he couldn't do that and watch Daniel at the same time. He didn't know what to do. Wait? What if Daniel never got better? What if the hunters figured out the goatling in that time?
Hurt? He followed Bell's gaze down to his feet and noticed the blood. Right. He'd noticed that before as well, but it wasn't that bad. Just scrapes. He ought to run. Bell's hand was still on his. Warm as well. The mystery trick to the car was solved quite readily; Daniel made a mental note of where Bell stuck his key, but was pretty sure it wasn't going to stick. Clothes materialized.
Pants, a shirt, some socks and boots. Not that he could wear the latter two with bleeding feet, but at least he had them. For later. For his later attempt at- at... at what?
"Where?" he parroted Bell's question.
He was being lead back into the building and Daniel hesitated. That's where the crying Alice had gone to.
"I-... I need to go..." he protested meekly.
But it was true that he wanted to get dressed. Jeans were a big step up from the things he was wearing right now and so was the shirt, though honestly? He ought to be wearing more layers. Daniel figured he could keep what he had currently and just put the shirt on over that.
He recognized the white and deflated. Now that the urgency of having to go was fading, Daniel felt how tired that dash for freedom made him. His hand was still attached to Bell's and he docilely followed. Some time went missing.
He found himself seated on the cot, watching the clothes he'd gotten. Slowly, almost numbly, Daniel started to pull the shirt over his head. He traded the flimsy pants for the sturdier jeans, but debated on the socks. They'd be no good covering any bleeders. It'd just be painful.
At least it was warmer now. Daniel put down the shoes and stuffed the socks inside before gathering the comforter and slinging it across his shoulders. It was colder inside the tent for some reason. Maybe it wasn't in the sun, but in the shadows.
He sat there, just taking everything in. At least he didn't feel the urgency to run this time around. Reality wasn't as overwhelming either.
It was just there.
Like some large predator, waiting for the kill.
Daniel scrubbed at his head and sighed. Not much made sense yet.
He knew Bell was there though and that brought him some measure of comfort.
"Did... did you leave me because you thought I'd cheated on you? Did that happen?" he asked. "I think- I think I may have been dreaming."
Daniel struggled, making everything worse. "Alright, alright, calm down," Bell sighed, trying to untangle the cord. It wasn't easy. Daniel was kicking and fighting and squirming like a dog in a cold bath. "Just--okay. Fine." He narrowly dodged an elbow as Daniel managed to step over a loop of cord. "Yeah. Like that--good, alright." Finally, the man stepped free, almost falling over. He kept a tight hand on Daniel's. He didn't trust the guy not to run.
"Mhm, alright," he agreed. Sure Daniel didn't need to be carried. Another few minutes to rest, and the guy wouldn't have any say in it one way or another.
Startled, he gave Daniel a look when he called out that Bell was hurt. What, he'd noticed? Must be more with it than Bell had given him credit for. "I'm fine, you're the one who's hurt," he replied, nodding at Daniel's feet.
"We're at some abandoned factory right outside of town, laying low from the hunters," he explained patiently. Be the third or fourth time he explained it now, but maybe it'd stick this time.
"Clothes, huh? Sure, I've got clothes for you." Daniel hadn't asked for any earlier, and he'd figured the bare feet would keep him from escaping, so he hadn't given him any of his old clothes. Turned out the was wrong, but whatever. It was damned hard to manage Daniel's realities, figure out where he was at any given moment, whether he was going to scream or run or attempt to be reasonable. He was doing his best.
"Need to get... where?" he asked. He led Daniel slowly over to the car, figuring, if he didn't want to be carried, he at least wouldn't get too cut up if he walked at a reasonable pace. The lock had been fiddled with, and there was a stick jammed in one of the doors. He sighed to himself and yanked the stick out to unlock it. Good choice, locking the doors. "Here, jeans, shirt, socks and shoes," he named each item as he handed them off. With a quick twist, he locked the door again, then went back to leading Daniel to the tent. "Let's get you dressed, and then maybe we can talk a little, okay?" Maybe he'd be able to figure out what Daniel wanted, given a little time.
Fuck it! Traps. What the hell? Daniel struggled against the wire, surprised by the sound, but in no way as much as he was when a hand grabbed his. True panic set in then and the man's voice didn't help one bit. Daniel renewed his struggles, pulled away and nearly fell, but he was free. His eyes were wild, body poised to fight. There was no way he could run away from this man -he'd tried before and lost that race. That only left fighting. And the man seemed meek this time around.
Daniel blinked, gaze wavering.
"I don't need you to fucking carry me anywhere," he bit. Out of the facility? No. He was- no... that. But this wasn't the tube. Nor a facility or institution. It was an abandoned building. Confusion set the tone. Daniel teetered back, blinking rapidly. This was. This was Bell. And he looked bad. He scanned the man's face, but it was tough putting all of the little micro-expressions in their place. He had a tough time creating meaning out of what he saw.
"You're hurt," Daniel ventured.
His eyes narrowed, searched for injuries, but there weren't any visible. So why was there pain? The moment of clarity was rapidly dissolving, no matter how hard he clung to it. Shadows started to dance at the periphery of his vision, encroaching on the light, though Daniel had to admit the sunlight felt good. He wasn't trapped, but he wasn't where he ought to be either.
"Where is it?" he asked.
"If I'm not there, then where am I?"
He tried to concentrate, keep momentum. Ought to have asked that question way before. Rocks? Why were they stood on rocks? Why didn't he have clothes, other than the flimsy stuff he'd been wearing at the institute? At least he wasn't on drugs no more. And this man didn't seem malicious. Just. There was something about him.
He blinked, confused and slightly dizzy.
For just a second, he was trapped in the tube again. Black surrounded him like a shroud. But it felt familiar and safe, somehow, being suspended like that. And then he was back.
His feet hurt.
"Let's...let's get clothes," he tried. He needed shoes. Maybe some jeans. This man knew how to operate the car. Then he could run. Daniel decided he needed to be prepared better.
"Not...out. I just need to get there," Daniel said, as if Bell had any idea of what he was talking about.
Of course. Of-fucking-course he bolted. Bell fell against the wall, struggling to suck in air past the dust and the pain. He inched forward, following the sound of Daniel's retreating footsteps. This--wasn't so bad. He could push through. He could-
Another wave of pain hit him. The world went white, narrowed down to nothing but a ball of pain. It was crawling through his veins, eating at his flesh. He clawed at his skin, trying to get out out. Out, out, it hurt so much--
The pain passed. The white hot ball of agony diminished to an ache, almost like a headache in his chest. He grit his teeth and pushed forward again, knees shaking, weak as a newborn deer. Had to get after Daniel. He couldn't let him get away!
The pain stuck again, pounding in like the tide. He sunk against the wall, all the strength draining from his body. He couldn't go on. He couldn't. It hurt too much.
No. Just a little more. As the pain ebbed, he started forward. It would pass. It would pass, but Daniel night be in danger. He had to find him.
And then it hit yet again.
What seemed like an eternity later, but was probably seconds or minutes, the black started to fade from his veins. The pain struck again, but it has less ferocity to it. He ignored it, ignored the weakness that still lingered, and chased after Daniel. He could manage the pain--he flinched as it rolled through him again, weakened though it was--but he couldn't manage losing Daniel.
He stepped out into the open area of the warehouse and stopped. Shit. He'd lost Daniel. The man could be anywhere. No dusty footprints to lead his way out here.
Cans rattled in the distance. Bell froze, then sprinted for them. Hunters? Daniel? Daniel! He laughed in relief. Daniel was all tangled up. It looked like the trap had got him good.
"Come here, I'll untangle you," he offered, still grinning. He took ahold of the string and took Daniel's hand, helping him step out of the wound string. He'd hoped it might've tangled an attacking hunter, but it'd worked better than his wildest dreams.
"Where are you trying to get to, anyways? We're out of that facility," he said. He caught sight of Daniel's feet and grimaced. Shit. He'd torn them up good, hadn't he? "C'mere, I'll carry you back. You don't want to walk on those rocks again, do you?"
He wasn't sure he could carry Daniel, if he was being entirely honest, the way the goat's attack drained his strength, but he'd make an effort. He didn't want Daniel to get more hurt.
Breakfast? Of all the things he'd expected, it wasn't that. And whoever it was knew his name. No. No, that couldn't be right. It had to be in his head. Who here would know his name? They were all out to get him. No. He had to go. Get out. Leave. Just. Where did he go? The door. If he ran for it- Daniel didn't even have time to contemplate the idea. His body moved as if under someone else's control and maybe it was. Lenny? Daniel couldn't tell. Whoever it was, Daniel felt the fear pound in his chest with each foot coming down. He weaved through doors, breathed through thick air, heavy with dust and finally found himself outside. He stopped in his tracks almost immediately.
His feet were killing him.
Daniel glanced down, only to see the damage had already been done. It didn't matter then, in the grand scheme of things. He could deal with some scrapes and bruises. A car. Daniel dashed for it and pulled the door. Closed. Of course.
He searched around wildly, tried the back door and scoured the ground for what he needed to get the door to open. It wasn't difficult, just fiddly. His hands were shaking. Maybe not. But how far could he run like this?
He heaved in deep breaths of air, but the panic, the fear, was still there, urging him on.
A flash of black distracted him. For just a split-second he was elsewhere looking at glass-distorted researchers. Again the tube. No!
"Shit, focus, Danny," Daniel muttered under his breath.
He couldn't be elsewhere. He was getting out. Daniel put a hand out to the car and caught his breath. The most reasonable way out was the car, but if he couldn't get that quick enough, he had to do something else.
Daniel pushed away from the car, all ailments forgotten. He followed her back to the building for a few steps.
"Alice? Where are you going, honey?" Daniel ventured. She didn't reply.
When she turned however, her eyes were black, leaking a tar-like substance across her face. Her smile was as sweet as ever. Daniel recoiled, but didn't go very far. He needed- he needed to follow... no. No, he needed to get out.
But then, what about Bell?
Hadn't he been back there?
Daniel pressed a hand to his forehead and tried to put everything in its proper place. No. No, how could Bell-boy be there? The man had left thinking he'd been abandoned for some stupid girl. He- he was on his own now, wasn't he? Shit. But he had nothing on him. No money. Nothing. Not even proper clothes.
That- it didn't matter. He could still walk. It was like that song. He was still alive.
And then he set off Bell-boy's trap.
He heard a distant chuckle, echoing through the empty building. Bell cocked his head and listened hard, trying to locate the source of the sound. He'd set up the tent in the large, open part of the building where the factory's machines had been, but there was more to the building; the offices, the cubicles, the lobby and the front-facing, once-finished parts. He'd thought he'd locked off all the entrances, but he should've known better than to underestimate Daniel's ability to fuck with him.
His heart was racing, sweat dripping down his back. What if Daniel had run outside, stolen the car? Shit. No. He couldn't think about that. He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. Daniel was in here. He'd heard the chuckle. He was close.
Bell wandered the interior of the building, trying to figure out which door he hadn't locked. That one was locked. That one was still barricaded. That one was just a storage closet--the door opened in his hand, leading into a decaying hallway. Shit. He hadn't checked. It'd been such a lightweight door, he'd assumed it'd lead nowhere, but dammit, should've checked. He started down the hallway, eyes open for any sign of Daniel.
The dust thickened a few feet into the hallway. It was his saving grace. Bare foot prints led the way deeper into the building. Bell followed them, moving quietly. Daniel hadn't come when he'd called, so he was probably hiding or something. Best not to announce his presence.
He suppressed the urge to cough. The dust was thick. He could barely breathe in here, and he was sweating to show it. [i Daniel's out of it, if he didn't notice this fucking awful air,] he thought to himself.
The footsteps wandered aimlessly. He followed them, moving as quickly as he could quietly. And then he caught sight of Daniel. The man had doubled back on himself and found his way into one of the offices, and was sitting in a patch of sun from the window. Another window looked into the hallway where he was. Bell halted, freezing. He didn't want to startle Daniel. It didn't look like the man had noticed him yet.
Daniel looked up sharply. Bell jolted with surprise. He'd been noticed--but Daniel hadn't run. "Hey," he tried, quietly. Daniel inched closer. Bell stepped in as well, both of them slowly approaching the window to the hallway.
Pain jolted through his chest. Bell clutched his shirt and tensed a second before the next wave hit. It felt like acid crawling through his veins as they stood out against his body, blackened dark enough to see even through the tan. [i Shit! That fucking goat!] His body trembled, stricken with pathetic weakness. Bell grimaced at himself. He'd thought it'd be fine to fight a goat or two, but that one had gotten him good. "Daniel--breakfast?" he spat through the pain. Shit. If Daniel ran now, he wouldn't be able to do a thing.
It was quiet this early in the morning. Daniel took his time finding where to walk, hand out to the wall. Everything was so fucking sharp. Each line felt like it was etched on his retina, each detail sprung out in vivid contrast. Harsh, but sharp. Clear. Like the early morning. It was cold on the shadow, but okay in the sunshine, so Daniel tried to bask for a bit, allowing the cold to melt from his bones as he moved. He didn't know how to get up to the second floor. Stairs, maybe? He could try climbing. Was it worth it?
Yes. Yes it was.
But then. Wait, no.
If he climbed up, how would he get away from here?
A voice. Distant, called his name. Daniel whipped about. Real or not real? His heart raced. Shit. Had he been discovered? Missed. He'd been missed. Right, he remembered what he was doing: escaping. He needed to escape as soon as possible.
He needed to get down, find a car and jump-start it. Or no, hitch-hike, maybe? No. That was no good. People would judge him by how he looked and currently Daniel felt like it was fairly obvious he'd gotten out of some shitty institution.
Flimsy fucking clothes.
Taking them off was not an option. He had nothing else to wear, after all.
Daniel started to wander, aimlessly at first, but with increased vigor. He had to go. Had to get out. Nothing made sense. He couldn't even find the bloody exit. A chuckle left his lips, a desperate one.
Why was it so difficult to just- to just find his way?
It was as if there was no information to take from no more. Nothing in his memory to guide him anywhere.
He was lost.
Daniel scrubbed at his face, found a spot in the sun and sat down. He'd worn himself down to boot. He needed to think before he acted more. Didn't have enough energy to go off of, so he had to time things better. A shadow. Right there, in the corner of his vision. Daniel cocked his head, tried to get a good look.
"Hello?" he called, carefully. He didn't want the other person looking for him to hear.
He gingerly got up and inched closer. Closer to what seemed like a simple hole in the wall where a window ought to have been.
It was hard to settle down to sleep. The fact that he was sleeping wrapped in a threadbare comforter on a cold, hard concrete floor was only part of it. He kept jolting awake to check on Daniel, make sure the man was still fine. The restraints were tempting, but he didn't use them. There was no reason to. Daniel was just sleeping, he'd be fine. And Daniel hated them. He'd only use them if it became absolutely necessary, and there were no other options. It was too tempting, after all. Made him remember things he'd rather not.
When sleep did come, it was deep and absolute. No dreams broke the surface.The next thing he felt was the warmth of day pressing against his skin, drawing him back to awareness. Bell yawned and shifted, opened his eyes and found himself lost. Where was he? This wasn't the car or the bed. What'd-- what'd happened? Where was he?
No, he'd gotten Daniel. He'd gotten Daniel, so Daniel was on the bed, and he couldn't sleep in the car for fear Daniel would run away. He sat up to check on Daniel, pushing away the comforter. Too hot for that now, now that the day was warming up. "Good morning--"
Empty. The bed was empty.
Bell jumped up. The comforter snarled around his ankles. He staggered, caught himself on the tent. The tent lurched forward. He started to fall, weight shifting forward. One leg came free of the comforter, and he managed to catch himself before he fell. He burst through the flap and stared around the abandoned building. "Daniel!" he shouted, running forward. Where was he? How far had he gotten? He had bare feet, he couldn't have gotten far, right? Shit! Shouldn't have left him unbound.
He ran for the door and looked around outside, searching for Daniel. He hadn't heard the cans. He couldn't have gone far that way. Wait, inside? There was the second story. Shit, if he was up there-- Bell retreated and stared up, looking for some sign of movement. "Daniel, where are you?" he called, looking around. He couldn't have gotten far. Couldn't have gotten far, right?
Hands grabbed his. The black encroached upon what he could see, but those hands remained on his, even when they turned black too. Daniel could feel Bell's presence, could feel the man's chest, knew he was being held by something. The cogs were audible, this close and then everything shifted. For the longest time he was merely held, suspended in darkness and then he was let go. Cold invaded his world, darkness consumed all of his awareness. Small, infinitely detailed flecks spread on the horizon.
Daniel floated between them, lost for a moment. He wasn't alone either. The sound of the cogs never left. Lenny was there briefly. Just a small presence, brushing him by in passing. Alice was there too. His memories.
Daniel dreamt he was caught in the tube again, watching the hunters through the sickly hues of the tube, watching them buzz and flit by, trying to get a reading on what was going on. Daniel looked down.
Black. A black hand. A familiar one -the goatling.
A needle came at him and he knew it was bad news: they were trying to extract something. No. The thought was fierce and resonated with the blackness that gave form to his current state in this reality.
As if in response to that thought, he moved, involuntarily, to reach out and break the imposing needle. It was easily broken. Satisfied, Daniel receded and slept.
When he woke things were white. No. Not white. A tent.
Why was he in a tent?
Daniel lifted his arms and groaned. He was stiff, his throat hurt. He had to get out. Run. Daniel shifted and moved, only to fall off the bed. Harsh concrete. The tarp of the tent couldn't really shield it. But he was free. Daniel rushed for the flaps, only to be startled by the amount of light.
He lifted a hand and teetered in place. So bright.
So fucking bright. Warm too.
It took his eyes a while to get used to it, so he just leaned into it and closed them. All thought of running had evaporated at the sensation of the glowing sunrise. It reminded him of something. An embrace. A beach.
When he opened his eyes he took in where he was: an abandoned building. He narrowed his eyes. No. Not abandoned. Someone was on the upper floor. As soon as he turned his gaze to get a better look, whatever it was flitted away, back into the depths of the building. He felt drawn to it.
The first step was a cautious one, but he soon got used to walking bare-feet.
Bell snorted. Guilty as charged. Yeah, he'd tied Daniel up. Didn't feel in the least guilty about it, either. "It was that or watch you hurt yourself trying to run," he explained. It almost felt like they were having a conversation now. Daniel was responding, kind of. Sometimes.
Only black? That was disconcerting. He wasn't sure if it was better or worse, either. Usually seeing Alice was a bad sign, but was black worse from there? He'd never seen Daniel this low. It was hard to say. The comforter hung over Daniel's shoulders like an oversized cape, and Bell smirked at the sight. Like a little kid playing king.
He gestured vaguely. Hotels were much better than this dump. "Be warm?" he suggested. Unless Daniel liked it out here, but it looked like the guy felt just as chilly as he did. "You know, have running water and a toilet and shower and shit?"
No response. Daniel settled in to eat his chicken, attention elsewhere. Bell followed suit, but all his attention was zeroed in on Daniel. Every movement the man made, every time his eyes flicked towards the woods rather than at his food, he tensed. He had to be ready for anything.
By the time his bowl came empty, he'd barely tasted the chicken. Daniel spoke. He jumped, surprised. Addressing him by name? Improvement, or random happenstance? "Sun's starting to set," Bell allowed, glancing up. It had a ways to go before it really got dark, though. So dark? He looked back at Daniel, concerned. This had to be in his head.
Bell moved closer and reached out, took Daniel's hands, slid his hands up to the man's elbows, then pulled him close to hold him tight. "It'll be okay. I'm here for you, no matter what," he promised. He didn't know how to help. If he knew how to help, he'd be doing it already. Instead, he just held Daniel. Things might get bad, soon. He remembered it getting dark for Landon once, and how poorly that had gone. They couldn't have a repeat of that.
He picked up Daniel and carried him back inside. As long as the got Daniel near the bed, the restraints would be an option. "Just rest," he told him, setting him down on the bed. "Relax. I'll keep you safe."
There was no way he could keep that promise, but Daniel wouldn't know it.
No restraints. No restraint. Bell's hand patting his head brought him back from an edge somehow. Distracted him long enough to forget what it was that made him so insanely angry. He unclenched his fist, uncertain now.
"I was-... I needed to, to get out," Daniel forced through his abused throat. Psychiatric place? The white? With the restraints. Wasn't this the same?
"You tied me up," he said without emotion. Just summing up what he knew to be real. He didn't remember how he got to be here, with this man -Bellwether. A part of him chastised him for forgetting.
"Alice is gone now, there's only black," Daniel confessed. Why was it so easy to be placated by this person? What was different from the other nurses? A familiar hand took his now unclenched fingers into his and Bell started to lead him outside. It was colder there. Daniel didn't part with the comforter, but kept it slung across his shoulders for warmth. It'd be nice to have some clothes that weren't just a flimsy one layer.
A bowl was shoved into his hands.
Daniel stood there for a second, looking at the food,.
A hotel? "What would we do at a hotel?" he asked. They'd taken everything and they were planning a vacation? He hated them. Anger started to build again, so quickly after being defused only seconds ago. Daniel told himself he wasn't even angry, but he was.
He needed to plan better. With both hands wrapped around the bowl of food, Daniel tried to make sense of his surroundings. It was genuinly cold out now. Less light and more darkness. Towering metal rods and concrete slabs. Some memories were jostled at the sight, but without a proper place to put them, he was flailing around helplessly.
Rather than admit defeat or give in to frustration, Daniel started to carefully pick at the food he'd been given. Next time he'd run away successfully and escape. No. No, that didn't seem right. He wasn't trapped right now. There was nothing to run away from except for this guy. Daniel cursed himself. Moments of clarity were so scarce and far in between that he couldn't do much.
He snapped to after a few minutes. The bowl he held was empty.
He'd been eating?
Daniel blinked, taking in his surroundings again. Most of it was black. There was only a small platform where him and another guy were stood next to a grill. It felt like he was wading through water, trying to circle around the man to get a better look. Bellwether's face.
"It's dark, Bell," Daniel whispered, almost imploringly.
"It's growing so dark."
He needed help. "Help me?"
"Big words from a guy tied up in his back," Bell muttered. Daniel had another thing coming if he thought his hair looked great. Still, he undid the restraints and watched Daniel sit up. He wasn't worried about the guy escaping as much as he was that Daniel would hurt himself if allowed to try and make a run for it.
He pulled the wig off and set it in the corner with the rest of his gear. "Who, Clara?" he asked. "Alice?" There wasn't anyone there, but at this point, that was no surprise. Daniel hallucinating was actually a step back towards reality compared to where he'd been lately.
"Yep, I'm Bell," he acknowledged. The beach again, huh? At least it was consistent. He glanced at Daniel, then nodded towards the back. "C'mon, let's go grab the chicken off the grill," he offered. "Should be nice and juicy by now."
He caught sight of Daniel's balled fist and patted his head. "What's bothering you, huh? Where are you trying to get to, anyways? I got you out of that shitty psychiatric place, you know."
He'd been planning to wait for Daniel to stabilize to get the goatling. He wasn't about to leave that monster in the hunters' hands, after all. But at this rate, he'd still be waiting next year, and who knew what the hunters would get up to in the meantime? He had to move soon. Just as soon as he figured out what to do with Daniel.
"C'mon, chicken is waiting," he urged Daniel, taking the guy's hand to lead him around back. The grill sat on a spit of concrete, so Daniel's bare feet shouldn't get too torn up. The chicken was perfectly ready, just like he'd hoped. He let go of Daniel for one second, just enough to pile up the chicken pieces into the bowls. The bean residue was still in them from earlier, but Daniel would have to deal with that. There hadn't been time to wash them anywhere.
He passed Daniel's bowl back. The chicken was boneless, so Daniel should be fine. His skin felt so cold when Bell brushed against his hand. He winced apologetically. "I'd take you to a hotel, but the hunters are on to that shit," Bell sighed. He really wanted to do better by Daniel, but this was the best he could manage for now.
Blanket. No. A comforter. Some memories were jostled into place. Feathers. A car’s back seat. A dog. Spot. Spot, wasn’t it? Shit, he couldn’t see the restraint this way. Not that he really needed to. The man was there. Daniel hadn’t even noticed until he touched his hair. Sound. A familiar voice.
He couldn’t quite place it.
Daniel laughed though.
“You look stupid,” he snorted with barely a voice to speak with, hinting at the wig Bell wore. He’d shouted too harshly, cursed too hard. Everything was going to shit. Self-destructive. Out? He was being let out. Daniel nodded. Even if he had no intention or knowledge of ‘good’, being out was a step up. One hurdle gone. This time he’d get better at running or at least try so when the man didn’t notice. Maybe if he played nicely, he could get away. Away to where though?
White. Daniel realized for the first time that he was inside of a tent. The smell of food made it to his nostrils and it was cold, despite of the comforter. He squirmed a bit, just to get blood flowing to certain parts of him that’d been forced to remain still in the same position for too long.
It was clearer now. His thoughts and the sad song. The sad song and the confused image of Alice standing in the corner with her big, moist eyes, looking at them both.
“You’re scaring her,” Daniel said softly. The thought was as fleeting as everything seemed to be and evaporated along with the image, only to be replaced by something darker. A black stain on the blank canvas, soaking the corner.
Daniel averted his eyes. For now the stain didn’t seem to spread.
“You’re Bell,” Daniel sighed out. He smiled at that realization. “You left. You were so sad. You thought, you thought I’d abandoned you,” he said, voice skipping several syllables as his volume grew.
“We went to the beach,” Daniel started and sighed, lost in the memory. But, wait. If that was real. Then what was this? A nightmare? He’d been fine back then. Just fine. Daniel balled his fist. Screw the people taking away that peace from him! How dare they! He’d kill them all. Hurt them for trapping him. Hurt this man for doing the same. But first he had to get out.
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