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"Just what?" Becky demanded. What Bell'd already done on his own with no one's help? What was wrong with her taking the initiative to kill Bell this time?
Becky rolled her eyes. "It's called strategy," she muttered. If she could sacrifice a few pawns to get Bell in a bad place, it wasn't a bad gamble. So what if Daniel had been there? It shouldn't have mattered. "If you were human, it wouldn't have mattered." She would've shot him, turned around, shot Bell. Shotgun had two barrels.
Her eyes narrowed. "Maybe. Doesn't matter now, does it?" She wasn't there, so who knew how they'd fare on their own. If they beat Bell, it'd be just as shitty as if they lost, because then she'd never get the sweet satisfaction of beating his head in herself. And Daniel was way the hell out here with her, so there was nothing he could do about it.
She looked down at where he held her hand with disgust. "Can't you just find another lover that isn't such a shitty sadist? What says I want to talk to him?" Did he think an apology would fix everything? 'Oh, Becky, I'm so sorry I tortured you then murdered you,' yeah, that'd fix things right up. Her frown deepened. Idiots, the lot of them. This grudge was beyond words.
"What? What the hell?" Becky looked around at the desert around them. How was he getting back? What? "Oh, so you get off on it, too, huh, abandoning innocent women to the elements to die? Is that what this is about? Shit." Forget forgiving Bell, she was going to end up with a grudge against Daniel, too, at this rate. "Are you really going to--"
Becky turned. Gone. He was gone. "Daniel?"
A deep sigh. "Shit." She shoved back her hair and stomped off again, angry beyond measure. "Fuck those assholes!" Next time, she'd come out swinging. Even if it was Daniel.
[i That was easier than I expected.] He checked in the rearview mirror, but the man was still tied up in the backseat, still unconscious. No cops yet. He bit his lip. It would've been safer to kill the guy at the house, but someone had called the police. He'd have to take him somewhere quiet first, before he could worry about absorbing him.
A goat? He'd ruined a gun? "Long story," Daniel mumbled, but something odd kept tugging at the back of his head. The goatling had long since left. He didn't think he'd still have the power to teleport with just the core there, though that'd make sense. And yet, paired with all the shit he'd realized with Bell-boy; Daniel knew.
He wasn't the original.
"Well, shit," he mumbled. He wasn't the core, but the rest of the goatling. Another chuckle escaped his throat. Did that mean he wouldn't suffer the stupid breakdowns no more? No, wait. He would, but this version of himself likely wouldn't.
"I can't let you kill one another, that's just..." Daniel waved a hand, then staggered after Becky. At least the goatling had destroyed the gun. He'd have certainly been minced meat otherwise. Wait, could the goatling even die? Did that mean he was near enough immortal? Wait, was there even such a thing as Lenny in the mix now?
There were so many questions, he didn't even know how to get around finding answers for all of them.
"You'll find your way back, I'm sure. What the fuck's up with that anyway? A trap?" Daniel muttered. "And you thought I wasn't going to be there?" Naive, wasn't it? To think he wasn't going to back up Bell-boy when he clearly needed his help. And shit. That was the problem right now. He was here and Bell-boy was there.
"There was another guy there, wasn't there?" he said with some measure of despair laced through his voice. He'd have to teleport back, but he already felt like shit for having displaced Becky. Daniel wasn't even sure how to get the goatling to follow his command either.
He reached out and grabbed Becky's hand.
"Can't you both just exist? I mean, this is your chance," Daniel tried to reason. Even if he wasn't the real Daniel, wherever he might be, he could convey the same feelings and thoughts. "You can both just be. You could even talk to Bell-boy, unless that other guy killed him by now," he said. Shit. He really needed to go back. Daniel let Becky go.
It hadn't been his intention to harm her, but he was contemplating leaving her behind. It'd be easy to do so.
Even if all these personalities got absorbed, they'd still exist within the whole that was Bell-goat, wouldn't they? But a cut off branch could survive on its own. And if Becky had taken these measures, she'd been weaker than Bell-boy. Why else rely on other goats?
"I'm going to have to leave you here," Daniel started.
"I have to go back."
The whole world spun around her. Rebecca was caught up in the whirlwind. She screamed and grabbed at her neck, but there was no use. Daniel had her in a vice grip and was running faster than a human could run. Or was he running? She'd lost track somewhere along the way.
They came down with a burst of sand. Rebecca coughed and climbed slowly to her feet. [i What the hell? ] "When did you get goat powers?" Daniel was a human, wasn't he?
From his stuttering, he was just as confused as she was. Rebecca reached for her gun and found a mangled mass of metal. "Fucking hell." She threw the useless thing away. "Damnit, why'd you have to ruin my gun?" She didn't even hate him! All she wanted was to be out, and if she had to kill Bell to do that then, well, honestly that was a bonus.
"Yes, I'm really here. I wanted to leave you out of it, but damn, what the fuck was that? Daniel, when did you become a goat?" He'd been human, hadn't he? When had that happened? Did Bell know? Did Daniel?
There were more pressing issues. She rubbed her throat and coughed. [I Why'd he have to carry me by the throat?] Not a drop off water or an ounce of food to be seen. No civilization in sight. "Why'd you bring me here?" She turned slowly, taking in the desert. Dry and empty. Why hadn't he just killed her? That was what Bell would have done. That was what she'd tried to do to Bell. Why was Daniel getting in her way?
She stared at him for a second. He'd taken a shotgun shell to the chest and walked it off like it was nothing. That wasn't something a human did. No, he wasn't human. But what? And why the hell had he yanked her out here?
Nothing for it. She sighed out and looked around, then started to walk. What else was there to do? Start walking, or starve to death, those were their options. "The hell," she muttered, just for the sake of it. She'd had it all planned out to take care of Bell, and Daniel had gone and ruined it. She pushed her hair back and shook her head. So annoying! Stupid Daniel.
Everything spun. Daniel blinked at the world and realized he was on his back. It was too hot. Even though it really wasn't. There was just desert sky above and he knew it had to be cold. His arm jerked before he regained control over it.
"Ugh, who got the number of that truck?" Daniel muttered softly. Bell-boy?
They'd been fighting at the house. Shit. They'd been fighting. Daniel scrambled to get up, but didn't get any further than his knees. The world swayed sickeningly and he felt weak. Whatever he'd done, it wasn't good. If there'd actually had been any food in his stomach, Daniel figured now might be a good time to throw it up. And then he became aware of another presence.
Smaller. Younger. Female. No less dangerous. Shit.
Daniel renewed his efforts to stand and gave up. Fuck that. He felt too shitty for this stuff. Where were they even?
"How? What the fuck?" he rambled, taking it all in. It really was Becky. How had that happened? He didn't quite remember, but then he did. It felt like he'd used some of the goatling's powers. Maybe he had. And he'd left Bell-boy alone doing it. Shit. Of all the things. Daniel pressed the mouse of his hand against his forehead and tried to get his shit together. He'd been fighting a goat. No, two goats? And then...
The same old darkness that was always there when the goatling had messed with his head. Felt like Lenny had been messing with his head of all things. That's what he suspected it might feel like.
"Wait, you're a... you're really here?" Daniel started, and took in where they were. Nothing for miles. Shit. The goatling had done this, but why? His chest felt sore and hot. Daniel clenched his shirt and tried to get up again and managed. He was out of breath and unsteady, but he stood. Deserts were shit.
They needed to find somewhere sheltered. He was parched too. No water. He didn't even have the fucking rebar on him no more. Daniel ran his hair back and chuckled. His chuckle exploded into laughter. What the fuck? What the fuck had it displaced them all the way over here for?
Bell staggered back. Blood splattered across his chest. He raised a hand and touched it, looked at his fingers in shock. Black.
Not his blood. He looked up at the goatling, at the hole in its chest. "No!" he shouted, then fell silent. He didn't know what to feel. It wasn't Daniel, but he still liked the goatling. He didn't want it to die. Was it going to die? Black flesh already whirled in the hole, closed the gap where he could see through it moments ago.
He looked up at the woman, at Rebecca. Daniel had recognized her. He felt something dawning, a vague impression that he couldn't put shape or words to quite yet. Bell frowned. What was it? What was it about her that seemed... dangerous? She was just a woman. He'd faced worse than shotguns before.
A goat! Right, she was a goat. He raised his pipe.
[i No.] He looked at the goatling, confused. She'd just shot it. Why wasn't it trying to kill her?
And then they were gone.
Bell stared. Black blood gently evaporated from the floor, the only sign either of them had been there. In the distance, a siren started to wail. Someone had heard the gunshot. He had to move.
"Becky, something happen?" a man asked, stepping out of the door.
He met Bell's eyes and froze. Bell leaped into action first, but the man was ready. He blocked the first blow with the butt of his shotgun and stepped back, out of reach. The muzzle swung up, pointed at Bell.
Bell ducked. He felt the pellets take a chunk of his scalp and back, hot as fire. No time to feel. No time to process it. The man took aim again as Bell closed the gap. Pellets dug into his shoulder. He swapped his pipe to his other hand and swung clumsily. He hit the man on his shoulder, but the blow was weakened without both hands. The man staggered backwards a step, then spun the gun around and clocked Bell in the head with the butt.
The world went black. White stars spun at an infinite distance, far, far away. He swung blind. The pipe struck something, but it wasn't enough. Pain rattled across his temples, and Bell went down.
A door swung open. Black soaked into Bell's skin. Injuries were filled out and erased. The goatling-turned Daniel swivelled to find Rebecca there. Recognition sparked, even as he lowered his claws and let Bell-boy do his thing.
"Becky," Daniel started with a wide grin, though his voice was unnatural and distorted by black teeth and elongated limbs. Her attention was focussed on Bell-boy however and he cocked his head. She had a weapon. The one they hadn't found on the guard. No. These two shouldn't fight. Neither should win. Daniel tried to convey it; or his memories did. The shell's subconscious did.
Bell-boy hadn't expected it, but he had. Daniel lunged the second Becky raised the shotgun and was just in time to push Bell out of the way. Pellets pierced skin, tore through black and pulled apart muscle in their path. Up this close, the shotgun's damage was considerable. Blood and goat's essence leaked out, some of it evaporating into the night's sky. Daniel stood, expression empty and riddled with black. Even so, even this weakened, he reached out and grabbed hold of the shotgun.
"No," it managed, blood leaking down its chin and onto his chest.
This was one branch that was fine to just be out without Bell-boy's interference. It felt the same, but it could also not maintain a physical form in this manner for much longer. Abandoning the progenitor however was out of the question. Black tendrils latched on and tried to mend the gap in his chest, where his heart might have been. His grip grew stronger, until the metal of the shotgun buckled. If there was another guard still, they were screwed. Hadn't Bell-boy said there were four?
There was only one thing it could do.
Whisk them away. But he couldn't reach Bell-boy. It could, however, reach Rebecca. Daniel grabbed her by the throat, swift as a goat and clung on tight. Not to kill or hurt, but to drag her along and away.
One second they were there, tangled up and leaking both black essence and blood. And then they were gone, both the goatling and Becky.
Bell stared, wide-eyed, as the goatling emerged from its shell of Daniel. The goat that had been crushing him released him to fight the greater threat, and Bell couldn't fault it. The goatling tore it apart savagely, like a wild animal. There was nothing delicate about what he did, but somehow, the goatling made it look even gorier.
After a moment, Bell joined in. He beat down the goat's remaining tendrils. Wherever his pipe met bone, he broke it. The goat was tangled and twisted. It was hard to tell where it was still formed and where it was falling apart. With a wet tearing sound, he goatling dug deeper. Black blood splattered over the grass. Inky puddles grew deeper, issued black smoke.
It screamed. Bell winced and smacked it again, harder. [i Damn it!] All its friends would hear that, no doubt.
The goat went limp. It sagged against Bell, and Bell felt it start to slide into him. He shoved it away. There was no time. He couldn't take the moment to absorb it.
But he didn't have a choice. Thick black material coated him, slid under his skin and coiled up his arms. Bell hissed with pain as the material healed the injuries he'd gained in the fight. Black welled up in his cuts for a moment, appearing for just a moment before healthy red flesh took its place.
Behind him, the floor inside the house creaked. A door swung open. He whirled to face them, still absorbing the material. [i Another branch?] Another guard, or the main one?
Rebecca stared back at him. He blinked, then frowned at himself. [i How do I know her name?] Bell glanced at the goatling, but it was still more goat than Daniel. There were no answers to be found there.
"I knew you'd come for me, eventually," she muttered. "Guess it was stupid to think a couple of goats could stop you."
Bell nodded. She seemed to know him, but he had no idea how to respond. Were they friends? Enemies?
She raised her shotgun to his chest. Bell glanced down at it, startled. "Goodbye," she said, and pulled the trigger.
The clatter of metal brought him back to the fight. Daniel shook his head, regretted it, and dove for the metal bar. Bell-boy had taken back up the fight and was struggling against it. Daniel put a hand to the wall, dazed from a blow he didn't quite remember. His grip on the rebar tightened. Okay, no wasn't the time to just sit and watch. Bell-boy landed harshly against the wall next to him and Daniel snapped out of his daze when he saw the man's pain. His name was hissed.
Daniel changed position and lined up, then started to pound in on the goat's back. Tendrils that had previously preoccupied themselves with Bell-boy's destruction were now redirected towards him. Daniel expected it and dodged, then aimed for the head. One good hit managed to break whatever bone or solid was inside of there. The head lolled on the neck, but the goat, while paused, did not stop.
And then he lost a moment of time.
A moment in which the goatling came out and took over. Darkness spread across Daniel's eyes, dripped down his face. His hands turned to claws, tearing at the other goat's flesh and pulling it apart. Dark clashed against dark, mingling and struggling in a fight that was more intense then just using a blunt object. Muscles bulged underneath Daniel's skin, unnaturally increasing his strength. He swiped the black away, again and again, digging for the core. They'd made too much noise, but it couldn't stop now. It had to destroy what was in front of it, without actually undoing the branch before it could be absorbed.
Tendrils clung on to his arms. The goat's torso twisted away from Bell to focus on the latest and greatest threat. Daniel grinned, a wide grin with sharp black teeth. There was nothing natural about his face now. He was more goat than shell. His legs broke and buckled, then grew and expanded so he could have more leverage. Whenever a tendril clung to it, it simply tore it away and made sure that black blood spilled onto the floor. It was strong, this one. However, it was stronger. Already the struggle was slowing down.
It screamed a death howl. The goatling put a claw to where the noise was coming from but couldn't prevent it from being heard. Whatever was inside the house still; it would know.
Daniel attacked on cue. Bell took a deep breath and tried to suck in the dark material. It slowly faded away--or not slowly. It just felt like it was slow. Daniel was in trouble, and he needed to help. He tore apart the dark fluid and ran over to Daniel's side. As the goat lashed out toward Daniel, Bell smacked it down to the earth. He beat at the darkness around the piece of rebar until it tumbled to the ground, free of the darkness.
The goat lashed out at him. Heavy limbs, half human, half goat, beat against him. Uncoordinated though the attack was, Bell staggered from the force if it and stumbled against the house. Siding creaked under his side. Bell tried to shove away from the house, but the goat chased him down. Uncoordinated blows pinned him against the wall. He struggled against it, but the goat was powerful. He was slammed back against the wall. The goat wrapped itself around him and lifted him up to slam him down again.
Bell smacked at the goat as hard as he could, trying to break the tendrils' hold. The goat held onto him. It wrapped its tendrils tighter. Bell felt his bones grind and bend. His ribs creaked, threatening to break. "Daniel!" he hissed. He couldn't shout with the enemies so close, but he couldn't keep this up either. He needed Daniel's help--
[i Help.] He winced at the thought as much as the pain. [i I'm pathetic.] Did he even deserve to win among the branches when he needed help to win?
[i Yeah, and this guy has no help,] he thought dryly. This guy had more help than he did! It didn't matter. "Daniel!" he called again. He struggled, trying to fight against the tendrils wrapped around his arms. [i Come on, move!] He hadn't even seen the main branch yet. He couldn't lose here!
He managed to tear an arm free and smacked down on the tendril wrapped around his chest. He could barely breathe. Bell growled and hit it harder. [i Stupid goat! Stop already!] It wasn't going to beat him. Not here, not now, not until he finally got all his memories back.
Bell-boy attacked without hesitation. The man was ready for it, expected it, but Bell-boy was quicker. Daniel stepped in the moment the man's head cracked onto the floor. Rebar hit bone, mashed it together, tore through the black fabric of a goat trying and failing to unfold from its shell. When it did finally manage a lunge, they were prepared; or he was. Bell-boy barely evaded the sharp tendrils, but he didn't have that issue for some reason. He could easily predict its next move, stepped aside, countered the blow, destroyed the head and finally managed to pound into its core. Rather than evaporate, the black was absorbed by Bell-boy's skin. Within seconds it was soaked up.
Daniel looked at Bell-boy, morbidly engrossed by the process, but spun around at the sound of a voice.
They shared a look. Daniel gave Bell-boy a nod. He lifted the rebar up onto one shoulder and pushed his back against the wall, listening for the man's footsteps. When no reply came, the man's pace picked up a little. The smoker? Daniel could smell the man. Could feel him shift the very air around them. He wasn't even nervous. His body knew exactly what he needed to do, his senses were sharp and acute.
"Wrong move, babe," Daniel called out to the man. Their opponent reached into his coat and spun around. Daniel moved with the man and swung the rebar across the man's face, much like they had the other one. A gun clattered to the floor.
Daniel didn't wait for the man to regain his senses, though obviously his hit didn't have the same strength Bell-boy's had. Rather, he swung low, went for the man's knees as he was reeling. The man staggered and then sagged down on one knee. Daniel went for the back of the head next, but hadn't counted on the goat to already be out. It caught his rebar rod and hoisted itself up, near enough pulling him over. Daniel kicked the man down. He wouldn't be surprised by this asshole.
Hadn't let go, had he?
Daniel kicked again. The man was still dazed from the blow to the head, but not for long. More black unfolded across the man's arms, across his face.
Daniel tried to pull the rebar free, but it was stuck in black.
"Fucker," he growled and pushed instead, then punched it in the head. He had to buy time for Bell-boy to recover.
He ignored Daniel's calling him out. It wasn't as if it was really Daniel. He was just a fake made by the goatling. All that mattered was the hunt, and getting this over with as soon as possible so he could check on Daniel.
No. Forget Daniel. He was trying to forget Daniel, not check in on him. He shook his head. Now was not the time.
The man came close. He eyed them suspiciously from the corner of his eye. As soon as he stepped by Bell, Bell spun. The man spun as well, ready for it, but Bell had the jump on him. The pipe smacked into his eyes as he turned. His head flew back and his body followed, spinning around backward so his head hit the ground first. Bell followed him down. He moved to give Daniel a chance to attack as he beat the man's head into pieces.
It was loud, messy work. Bell kept an ear out for the other guard even as the man before him turned into a pile of goo. Black spilled out. The goat leaped at him before it even formed. Sharp tendrils of black stabbed through his jacket and scraped by his body, but none of them hit home. Between him and Daniel, the goat stood no chance.
The goat went limp. Its body leaped at him. Black soaked into his skin. Bell fought the urge to fight it off as it sucked into him. It felt wrong, the same as it ever did. Wrong and right, in the worst kind of way.
"Nick, you alright out there?" someone called, far too close for comfort. Bell tried to respond, but his whole body was sluggish. His arms and chest were still encased in the black material of the disappearing branch. His eyes darted to Daniel. Silently, he begged Daniel to take the lead. [i Stupid. Why didn't I think to account for absorbing the branches?] That was why he needed Daniel.
[i That's why I need someone,] he amended the statement. Because he'd broken up with Daniel. He had no right to ask him to come back.
Now was not the time, though. The last of the darkness sucked into his skin, and he chased after Daniel. He couldn't take his eyes off the goatling.
For a moment Daniel could practically feel the hesitation in Bell-boy. And then Bell-boy extracted himself from his grasp. Focus. Take out the bad guys. Sure, fuck.
"What's with that face?" he called out to Bell-boy. That face he had to wipe off, that guilt. Daniel watched Bell-boy for a while longer and sighed out, then grabbed his make-shift weapon. The rebar had a nice grip, though it was a bit too thin to really create an impact. It'd be good enough for a surprise move anyway. He could break a person's neck easy.
When Bell-boy crept around the corner, Daniel followed, at a slower pace. He wasn't as nimble, so he tried to keep pace, carefully putting one foot in front of the other to try and stay silent. Bell-boy's strategy was different; he was just walking there, casual. Daniel felt it was best to keep one ace in the hole, just in case victim number one was unexpectedly joined by victim number two. He shouldn't be, because he knew the man's routine- wait.
How did he know that?
Daniel pushed the uncanny feeling down. This wasn't the time or place to be doubting his mind. He'd always been mentally unstable, so why would shit like this still surprise him? Again the thought just evaporated. The discrepancy was whisked away like dust underneath a rug. Gone.
Out of sight, out of mind.
He'd been gone a while.
Literally. Not mentally. Bell-boy hadn't seen him for a while, that's what that face was. And he was being distant for some reason. Not even a bodily reaction. Daniel felt he couldn't attribute that to any memory loss.
His grip around the rebar tightened.
So where had he been?
Nothing. Not even a gap where the memory ought to be. One minute he'd been with Bell-boy in a hotel and the next they'd been out in the desert. And then it was gone. Daniel stuck to the shadows and stopped moving. Bell-boy had too. He could hear his breathing in the quiet of night. His breathing and the man's footsteps, crunching on the ground. His heart pounded with excitement. This was what they hunted for. This is what he'd joined Bell-boy for all that time ago. With baited breath, Daniel waited for Bell-boy to make the first move.
Bell glanced at Daniel. How did he know that? The goatling--was it sharing memories? But Daniel didn't seem to know... he shook his head. No point thinking too hard about it. He'd go along with whatever Daniel knew and not press the point.
Daniel sat against a nearby wall to watch the house. Bell crouched behind a nearby barrel cactus. The men didn't seem aware of them yet, for which he was thankful. If they lost the element of surprise, it would all be over.
A new man appeared. Bell stood, startled, but he was just out to smoke. [i That didn't happen yesterday.] Were there new men today? Or maybe he'd just been too distracted last night, being an owl and all.
Someone was sneaking up on him from behind. He whirled into Daniel's grasp. A smug smile was his reward. [i Shit.] Of course the goatling would press the issue. Poetry always seemed to revolve around their relationship. [i I shouldn't. It isn't really Daniel.] But then, he'd dumped Daniel. He could sleep with whomever he so pleased. [i And then what, I'm fucking my ex's twin? Worse: his clone. That's not less creepy.]
He carefully extricated himself from Daniel's grasp. "We should focus," he muttered. "Let's take out these men first."
[i It's ridiculous I even considered it.] He wiped at his face. It was the goatling, not Daniel. There was nothing between them. He'd even ruined his relationship with the real thing. What he should do, what he [i would] do, was take out these men, then tell the goatling to put its creepy Daniel copy away. Then... then he'd forget all about Daniel and move on. That was what he [i should] do. That was what he [i would] do. [i This time, I'll get it right. There's no point regretting something i gave up on.]
He drew his pipe. The smoker had gone back inside. It was high time they introduced their loner to some hard, cold metal. Bell crept around the corner of the building they were pressed up against and started across the road. He walked casually, like he had every right to be here, and didn't look at the house. [i Any second now, he'll come past.] Bell tensed, waiting.
Bell-boy took the hint and started off first in the direction of the house. From what it felt like, they took a roundabout way to get where they needed to be, but Daniel didn't protest. Maybe Bell-boy was trying to shake off a tail or whatever. He didn't claim to have all the answers and all. At least they had the cover of night to their advantage now. One of them already. Daniel kept to the dark and listened, then carefully ventured a look to capture the man's face. None of which he had seen so far.
Might be different guys visiting town then. It might be too late.
"Won't this guy be out for another while?" he whispered softly, slightly confused as to how he knew. When had he hit his head, did Bell-boy say? Because he knew this. He knew their pattern.
"Right," Daniel agreed. Waiting might be best. Though waiting for too long might cost them precious time they didn't have. A few stolen food items from the gas-station didn't a meal make and they'd have to escape the fucking desert to boot.
Daniel leaned against the wall of the building and finally just sat down. No point wasting precious energy, was there. For a second he felt something tug, something shift, deep inside of him. The goatling? He hadn't communicated with it for a while now. It was getting suspicious. Had something happened to it that he wasn't aware of?
Bell-boy probably had answers, but if the man didn't want to say, then certainly now wasn't the time to have an argument about it.
Daniel rubbed at his face and toyed with a rock on the floor.
Soon enough he perked up; another bloke. He only remained outside for a few minutes. A lighter clued away why; a smoker. Good to know. Daniel wondered whether that guy would be on a schedule too. Checking in regularly or feeding the habit.
Daniel got up from his position on the floor and dusted off, then stepped close to Bell-boy. With a grin, he grabbed the man by the hips.
"It's been a while, hasn't it?" he said, narrowing his eyes. It felt like ages.
"We don't have to do anything tonight. Found a decent place to sleep not far?" Daniel whispered in the man's ear.
He started awake at the sound of Daniel's voice. Still fuzzy from sleep, he blinked at the man for a minute before what he'd said soaked in. "Ha," he muttered. Bell wiped his face and sat up.
Sleeping in the booth hadn't been the best idea. He felt sore all over. His neck was the worst; it was all achy where he'd had to turn it to rest his head against the table. Still, he felt better than before. Bell yawned and stretched, still trying to shake sleep.
"Hey," he protested lazily when Daniel stole the bottle from him. He didn't make any effort to take it back. Daniel vanished off to the bathroom, and Bell scooted to the edge of the booth. Time to get up and moving.
He hadn't noticed if there'd been anyone at the diner, but he wasn't going to mention it if Daniel wasn't.
The bottle hit the table with a thud. Bell looked at it, then tucked it back into his pocket. He stood. "Yep, let's get 'em." From the looks of it, it was already getting dark. High time for him and Daniel to make their mark.
Not that this was his Daniel. This was just [i a] Daniel. A fake created by the goatling. He couldn't forget that. He bit his lip and glanced away. The sooner they killed these branches, the sooner everything was over and he could check in on the real Daniel and finally leave him alone for good. [i Or ask him to forgive me,] but what were the chances of that? Better to prepare himself for the more likely worst than hope for the best.
"C'mon." He led the way toward the house.
It took a little longer for him to find the house on foot than it had from the air. He kept forgetting that there were walls and streets between him and where he wanted to go, and the route around all the obstacles took a significant amount longer. By the time they arrived, it was dark for good.
Bell lurked around the corner from the house. One of the men was already up and patrolling. The shotgun was hidden for now, what with people in the neighborhood, but Bell had no doubt it was somewhere on his body.
"There's one of them," he muttered, glancing at Daniel. "Should probably wait until we know their cycle to attack."
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