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Somehow, he didn't think Daniel was joking about assaulting anyone. But luckily, no one made a move towards the restroom. Even the kids stayed close by their parents. Bell did his best not to doze off, but it was hard not to, when he was all snuggled up with Spot and his blanket. Nothing was happening. Even the storm had quieted.
The yellow-clad people were conversing quietly in the corner. He watched with interest as one of them split off and headed upstairs. Going to check on the storm?
Daniel returned at last, his flashlight moving across the walls as he returned. Bell gave him a questioning look, trying to confirm that nothing had happened that he'd missed. It didn't look like it, though. Daniel had no new injuries, and even his clothes looked unruffled. He raised the blanket to welcome Daniel back. "Everything go okay?" he asked quietly.
Just as Daniel returned, the yellow-clad lady who'd split off returned to the group. They spoke amongst themselves again, and then the lead lady turned to the room with a smile. "It looks like the storm has passed! You are all free to go. The library will be closing in an hour, so please make sure you gather all your belongings!"
Bell looked at Daniel, then hefted himself to a stand, propping himself upright with the stick. No reason to stick around, with an unconscious hunter chilling in the toilet. They ought to get a move on before the guy woke up. If they could be out of here before he woke up, that'd be for the best. "Let's go," he said, stretching. Spot climbed to his feet and stretched as well, giving a big doggy yawn. Cat gave them a look, and he nodded and gestured upward. They were heading out of here.
Bell headed upwards, sticking to the back of the pack so he wouldn't slow anyone down with his hobbling. The stairs were tougher going up than they'd been going down, but he could manage, as long as he had the railing. Slowly, he emerged back into the library and looked around. How serious of a storm had it been? Was their truck okay?
"No promises there, Bell-boy," Daniel chuckled. He'd assault anyone who ventured in during these ten minutes, unless they were one of the kids -the most likely suspects to be in need of the bathroom more than once an hour anyway.
He hoped Bell-boy was right in saying the storm would be tapering off already, without them knowing. Maybe the library-lady just wanted to be sure before letting them all go back out in this sort of weather again. With the amount of kids out there, it'd be the only logical way to go about things anyway.
Daniel was glad Bell-boy agreed with the plan, not that they had anything more viable other than leaving. He only wished the kiss could've lasted a bit longer.
Bell-boy's makeshift cane tapped on the concrete floor, growing further and further away until all that was left remained silent. Daniel stared at the light cast by the torch and sighed, shutting the light off. Thank the goats he was no longer subject to hallucinations. This would've made a nice trigger for sure.
He counted in his head.
A minute in, Daniel started to become more and more aware that without any other stimuli, the throbbing in his foot took over most everything else. He could hear the distant sounds of people talking amongst themselves, if he listened very carefully. Or maybe it was just all in his head. Echoes from earlier conversations.
After five minutes, Daniel was fairly sure nothing was going to happen. A hunter would've gone to check up on his buddy, if the wrong man returned, right? Wouldn't be weird to suddenly get the urge to pee if you saw someone else go.
Daniel wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his coat. He felt a little nauseous, actually. A distraction would be good. That, or more water.
He started doubting Cat's work on disinfecting the injury, but it'd been a while and the wound had been weepy to begin with. Ten minutes passed.
Daniel doubted he'd be exactly on the mark, but with nothing to tell the time by, counting was the best he could do. If there was another hunter, he wasn't checking on his buddy and it'd be weird if he stayed out for longer.
He flicked the flash light back on and used the walls to get back to the communal room.
Go back first? Without Daniel? Bell gave him a long look. Daniel had been napping back there, the same as him. The guy was not in great shape. They both knew it. But hell, he wasn't in good shape either, was he? And Daniel was right; this way they could attract the attention of anyone looking for the hunter and take care of them neatly. "Try not to assault anyone just going to take a piss," Bell warned him half-jokingly.
"The storm can't last much longer," Bell said, looking upwards. It just couldn't. It'd already gone on for ages. If they had to leave and the storm was still raging, though... he didn't like their odds.
Leave? And just leave Daniel behind? He started to protest, but then bit his tongue. No, no point in that. He'd just do what he needed to do when that happened. And it wouldn't be leave. "Okay," he said. In the darkness of the restroom, he hobbled forward and gave Daniel a meek kiss, then walked out, stick clattering on the floor with every step. Now all he could do... was wait.
It seemed too bright when he stepped out of the restroom into the semidarkness of the library's basement. His eyes had adjusted to the midnight-black in there so much that it was hard to take the glare of flashlights pointed at the ceiling. He rubbed his eyes and yawned, then hobbled back to the place he'd been seated. Even as he yawned, he surveyed the room, watching over the people who remained to see if anyone responded to his return. No one seemed to notice; everyone stayed distracted by their own business, whether it be cell phones, children, or sleep.
Cat came up to him as he passed her by. It was hard to tell in the dim lighting, but he thought she looked a little paler than usual, a little more tense. "Are you alright?" she whispered. "And--Daniel?"
Bell nodded, waving her worries away. "Fine, we're both fine, it's under control."
She nodded nervously, then pulled away back to her spot as Bell headed back to his, and Spot, who had stolen his blanket in the interim. "Hey, stupid dog," he mumbled under his breath, working his way to a seat and stealing the blanket back. "Give it."
How much could they trust a hunter? If he'd have been there, the goatling might've been able to find out. Daniel stared at his hand. They'd have a dead hunter on their hands for sure that way.
He watched Bell-boy struggle to get the guy situated in a stall.
Daniel slowly shook his head.
"We can't hang around here," he offered. People would come look for them -the leading lady in particular and her two yellow-clad cronies. They didn't have anything to do with this affair and if possible, Daniel liked to keep it that way.
"Split up," Daniel offered.
"You go back first. When someone's missing sleeping beauty a little more than the others, they'll find time to come here. I'll keep wait here, just in case." It was the best they could do right now. Hopefully it'd be a fruitless wait and if not, even if they dealt with the hunters, they couldn't hang around for much longer. Two people missing would stand out way more than just one. If there was another hunter around, they might just play it smart and remark on it; get them into trouble, play a psychological game.
"We might have to leave," Daniel started.
He leaned against the wall, trying to keep his weight off the bad foot. The way he held the torch, he hoped Bell-boy wouldn't notice. They needed to be at their best and they simply weren't. No sense in worrying about a situation they couldn't change.
"We could also come up front about it, see what happens -spin a story we found a guy in a booth," Daniel ventured. It'd prevent the hunter from playing the same game at least.
"Shit, I really hope the storm's dying down," he muttered, wiping a shaky hand down his face. Ditching this party early was the only viable solution.
"Let's have you go back first. I'll wait for ten minutes. If you see people going this way in response to the outcome of what happened, you make to leave, okay? I'll deal with the hunter and do the same, meet at the truck...or what's left of it."
There wasn't any other choice. He had the sedation darts and could assume the hunters weren't planning on using something that'd make such a noise. Daniel could only hope he'd be capable of dealing whatever they sent at him -if anything.
The door opened. Light spilled in again. Bell spun, tense, but it was only Daniel. Suddenly he felt embarrassed at being found straddling some other guy for a whole other reason, even though it had nothing at all to do with the situation.
Daniel's short "fuck" brought him back to reality, and he pushed away. Now that Daniel had a flashlight, it was the work of a moment to grab his broomstick. It took a little more than that to get back to his feet, the motion complicated when he didn't have both feet. "No," Bell said, still working on climbing to his feet. "Be too suspicious."
"Lock him in a stall, no one should get too bothered by that, it's too dark to see anyways," he said all in one breath. He glanced at Daniel. "He said there were no more. I'm not sure I believe him."
The hunter might be alone. It was entirely possible that he'd been separated from the group when the storm had come up so suddenly. Or he might not be, in which case they'd have to be much more vigilant. Either way, they had to hide the body. Bell grabbed the guy's shoulder and pulled him, a little bit at a time, to the smaller of the two stalls. Once inside, he released the stick and grabbed the guy in a bear hug, using his one knee to lift him up and plop him down on the toilet seat. "There. Now he's just taking a shit," Bell said, grabbing his broomstick to back out of the stall. "A real long shit."
Daniel's question still stood: Now what? Bell pushed his hair back. "If there are more, they might react to see me come out of the bathroom alone. We could keep an eye out for that, or..." he considered. "Or hang out in the bathroom and see if anyone comes to check on Jimbo over here. Though then we're the creepy guys hanging out in the bathroom, so..." Bell shook his head. Neither were good answers. Either way, they'd catch notice--either of the hunters, or of the ordinary people in the library. And it wasn't like they could just lock themselves in the other stall; there were only two stalls, after all. Someone would come in and need the stall sooner rather than later.
It took too long. Daniel grew more uneasy with each passing second both Cat and Bell were away. And then Cat came inside. He could tell by the flush in her face that she was desperately trying to hide her panic and it seemed to work, for the most part. People that didn't know Cat might just think she'd grown scared of the thunder. Cat stepped close, hissing at him under her breath.
"Someone's going after Bell. Alone, this guy," Cat said, urgency in her face.
"Why'd you run?" Daniel bit out, resisting the urge to shake some sense into Cat.
"I freaked, alright? I don't know what to do -please?" she urged.
Now wasn't the time to fight. Daniel took the torch Cat held and gave Spot a look.
"Stay here," he commanded both of them.
The pain was considerably worse now. Daniel had to bite back any noises, the tears practically springing into his eyes as he rested his full weight on his foot. At least all thought of sleep had fled. He wasn't tired or drowsy no more, though he did feel a bit foggy still.
Fuck. They couldn't use that of all things.
Daniel traced Bell-boy's steps at a far slower pace and carefully pushed open the toilet doors. It was dark. The torch lit up only just enough for Daniel to see Bell straddling another man.
"Fuck..." he whispered, stepping inside. Daniel made a point of closing the door and approached the two.
"Did you kill him?" Daniel hissed.
Rather than wait for a reply, Daniel pulled a dart from the gun he'd pilfered before, just in case the man was still alive. They couldn't have the guy wake up if all Bell-boy had done was strangle him. With considerable effort, Daniel crouched down and stabbed the hunter with the dart -dead or not. He wouldn't wake up now. Still alive. He heard the guy's laboured breathing.
Daniel pushed the empty dart in the hunter's pocket and got back up.
"More?" Daniel bit curtly. Now what? They had a sleeping hunter on their hands. How long before these people found the guy?
They couldn't stay.
"Shit. Shit, now what? The storm's not passed yet," Daniel breathed. He couldn't think. His head felt muddled. They needed to hide the guy. But where?
Bell zipped his pants and reached for his pipe with the hand that wasn't occupied with the broomstick. He'd had it tucked under his armpit for convenience, but now held it tight, as ready as he could be to take on whatever was in the darkness. A hunter? Hunters?
He realized suddenly that he'd made a terrible choice in coming here alone. A dead end in the dark, all alone, without anyone to help him? Yeah, that wouldn't be a great idea even if he'd had both feet. He backed slowly for the door. It was probably nothing. Some other poor soul trying to navigate the bathroom without proper vision. A rat, or something.
The sound came again, closer to him. It was hard to gauge exactly where it was, what with all the noise he had to make just to walk; he cursed his choice of a broomstick every time it clattered against the tile floor. Whoever it was, they knew exactly where he was at any given moment.
If it was a hunter, what then? They were trapped down here. If he killed a human, there'd... there'd be no way to hide the body. But on the other hand, if the hunters failed to kill him, it'd be obvious he was attacked too, right? They wouldn't dare. Surely they wouldn't dare.
No. With the darts, it'd be the perfect crime. He and Daniel were at a huge disadvantage. It was the perfect time for the hunters to attack.
His back hit the wall. He felt along it for a doorhandle, something. Anything. His hand slid along featureless tiles, pipe clattering against the wall. Shit! Was this really going to be how the hunters got him?
The door cracked open, spilling light into the room from behind. A man was just in front of him, a dart held tight in his hand, ready to plunge it into Bell's arm.
"Bell, are you--" Cat's voice cut off with a gasp.
At the sudden light, the man jumped forward and jabbed it at Bell. Bell bit back a shout and swung the pipe, shattering the dart. With his one good leg, he pushed off as hard as he could, drawing on the goat's speed, and threw himself at the guy, arms reaching for the man's throat. The room went dark again, door swinging shut as Cat retreated. He felt the man try to block him, but he was faster, stronger, and got the man by the throat; off-balance, Bell's full weight fell onto the man's neck, and he staggered and fell backwards, even as Bell choked him.
"Are you alone?" he snarled, staring into the hunter's face. The man stared back, wide-eyed, pulling helplessly at Bell's grip. Bell responded by tightening his hands, digging his fingernails in. "Tell me, or to hell with everything, and I kill you here!"
The man nodded; he was alone. Bell grimaced, then shifted his grip up, waiting until the man passed out to release him and reach out along the floor, groping for his broomstick. He really couldn't afford to kill the guy here, but neither could he be found over a passed-out body. Dammit, he'd have to drag the guy into a stall, wouldn't he? At least in the dark, no one would look into the stall too hard. Provided he could drag the guy there.
Bell-boy left. Daniel's eyes fluttered open when the man did, he shifted, but he heard Bell talk to Spot and felt reassured the man would be back soon. That, and Daniel felt far too lethargic and sleepy to actually be vigilant. Instead, he reached out for Spot and ran his fingers through the mutt's fur. Spot put its head on his lap and sighed, eyes following Bell-boy's uneven hobble.
The stifling silence in the refuge was nothing if not sleep-inducing and another few seconds had Daniel lulled back to sleep. It was a restless sleep. Daniel's fingers twitched, even has his fingers were entangled with Spot's soft fur, muscles protesting the awkward sleeping-position. His leg especially was no longer comfortable being propped up, though his foot wasn't overly happy to even be still.
Daniel woke a few minutes later, but not to Bell-boy returning. Spot pressed his nose against his hand and Daniel started.
"What?" he said drowsily, playing listlessly with Spot's ears.
He shifted again, trying to get comfortable.
Cat was watching them. Why? Because Bell-boy left?
He'd probably be back soon. Hopefully. But what if there'd been a hunter amongst the rabble?
Daniel looked at Cat and shrugged.
She rolled her eyes in turn and stood from where she'd been sat with her legs folded underneath her. Cat figured it'd be less obvious if she went to the bathroom than when Daniel followed Bellwether out. Just in case. Besides, she could use the toilet too, so there wouldn't be any weird lie necessary to warrant her going where she went.
Daniel scrubbed at his face and carefully pulled his leg from the box, flexing the stiff muscles. His foot felt like a dead weight attached to his leg now. Just to make sure he wouldn't be useless, in case Bell-boy did need his help, Daniel struggled to stand up and with the aid of the wall moved around a little. It was good to get his blood flowing regardless. It woke him up and got rid of the concrete ass he'd been cultivating whilst sitting down. His foot was even worse than it'd been when they got here, it felt.
It only barely held his weight. Maybe it was just sensitive.
Good. He was glad Daniel was fine. He wiped his face again and sighed out, shifting to try and wake up a little. His turn to keep watch? Oh. Yeah. Daniel needed a nap too. Daniel leaned against him, and he yawned and tried to stay awake. Been a couple of hours? Damn, this was one hell of a storm. Maybe it was actually a hurricane they were sitting through--a hurricane that'd just happened to spawn tornadoes. If that were the case, though, they'd be here until tomorrow at the earliest. He considered asking someone, then decided against it. They'd figure it out. It wasn't as though they had somewhere in particular to be.
Time slid by. A few of the kids quieted down and started to slip off to sleep. It made Bell feel a little inferior, really; he'd fallen asleep before the kids? But then again, the kids weren't regrowing limbs, were they? Yeah. So it was only fair.
Something rumbled overhead. Bell looked up, worried. That wasn't a good sound. Some of the flashlights flickered, and the wall trembled against his back a little; or maybe that was just his imagination. He pulled the blanket a little tighter around him and hoped that the truck survived the storm. He was pretty attached to it, and besides, they'd have no car if they lost this one. There'd be no heading to the main base if they lost that truck.
His eyes fluttered shut again, weariness drawing him down. He struggled against it, trying to sit up and stay awake, but it was tough. He wanted to sleep. Or eat. Man, why didn't they bring any food in here? They should really have food.
And he really had to pee. As soon as he realized it, he realized just how much he really had to go. There was no waiting. He pushed back the blanket and jumped up. Spot gave him a look, and he patted the dog. "Watch Daniel while I'm gone," he said, grabbing his broomstick. He wouldn't be long.
A little bit of poking around, and he found a bathroom. There were no lights on in the bathroom, which was a little spooky, but whatever. With the reflected light from the upturned flashlights, he could make out enough of the bathroom to navigate his way to the urinals, and from there it was just muscle memory and a little of using his ears to figure out where the toilet was.
Just as he finished, he heard something move in the darkness of the toilet.
A child's scream penetrated the dazed fog Daniel slipped into and he blinked demurely at the sudden darkness fighting with the defiant light. The light lost. Soon there was only darkness and the breathing of a dozen people in a confined space. He'd dried up since they'd been there and Daniel had spent most of his time watching Bell-boy sleep. Just in case. Just in case some hunter thought they'd make easy prey. Now, Daniel felt like it'd been a waste of time he'd have better spent just trying to rest up.
His foot was growing itchy, he was warm and now that the hum of lights and air-conditioning died down, it felt even more stifling.
"Hmm?" Daniel drifted, yawning. His head felt a little funny, but other than that he was good. Nothing a little sleep wouldn't fix, probably.
"I'm good," he muttered softly, sitting up a little straighter.
His foot immediately reprimanded the action. Daniel reached for the water they'd been given and took a few sips.
Flash-lights started to come on around the room. They were clever enough to prop them against the walls, illuminating big parts of the shelter almost more effectively than the emergency lights had before.
Daniel wiped his face down with one hand and watched the interaction between Spot and Bell-boy through a haze. The mutt didn't seem to favour thunder at all. Or was it something else that made Spot search out their proximity? Probably to get away from grubby children's hands, if nothing else.
A shiver shimmied up his spine and Daniel clung a little tighter to his blanket, yawning widely.
Time he got a nap in too.
"Your turn to keep watch," he muttered at Bell.
Cat had kept with the kids, just in case. If the hunters were aware of their numbers, it'd be a little less suspicious if they didn't seem to belong to one group. And if they didn't know about Cat yet, then it was even better. She could be their edge.
Daniel closed his eyes and leaned into Bell. "Nothing's happened, but it feels like it's already been a couple of hours," he said softly. "Must be bad if the power's cut out." He could only hope the truck would withstand what a powerline couldn't.
That Daniel didn't seem bothered by the lightning reassured Bell, but as quickly as his heart stopped racing, his eyes started to close as well. Maybe he should just sleep it off. Sleep through the storm. There was nothing to do but sleep, right? Wasn't like they could do anything about the tornado. His head started to droop against his chest. Maybe he'd just... sleep. Take a little nap until everything passed over.
He must have drifted off, because he startled awake to the sound of a child screaming. Everything was pitch black. The lights flickered once, giving him a quick glimpse of the scared faces of everyone else in the room, and then, with a great shuddering hum, the lights died out once more, for good this time. Bell blinked and rubbed his eyes, getting the gook out. The power was out? Great.
A beam of light illuminated half of the room as someone flicked on a flashlight, then glowing screens lit up here and there as people powered up their smartphones. "Looks like the power's gone out," a middle-aged woman said cheerfully. "Everyone stay calm, we'll find the flashlights and get this place lit up in just a moment."
Bell shifted and stretched, rubbing the back of his neck, then looked at Daniel, trying to make out his face in the dark. How was he holding up? Had he fallen asleep, too? "Hey, you okay?" he whispered, trying not to wake Daniel if he was asleep.
Something wet touched his face, and he jumped, then reached out. His hand found fur: Spot. The dog whimpered and licked his face; Bell held his face away, trying not to get dog tongue in his mouth. "You doing alright?" he asked the dog, stroking his fur. So soft. It made him relax, even if he knew there was no reason to worry, safely in here. And it made Spot calm down, too; he felt the dog calm down and lie down--right on his stump.
"Shit!" he whispered, wincing away. Spot shifted, but not far enough; Bell frowned, then put his leg on the dog. That was what he got, for sitting on Bell's foot--he got to be Bell's footrest.
In the end Bell-boy came through on the box-idea. He still hadn't unfolded the blanket, but at Bell-boy's instructions, Daniel propped up his leg on the box. Better. Much better. The throbbing at least was a lot less prominent like this.
Out of sheer laziness, Daniel folded his arms around his stomach, trapping the blanket against his body. Bell-boy's yawn was catching. More people were drowsily waiting. There was little else to do. The few kids they had were happily petting and fawning over Spot, under the careful watch of Cat.
A couple sat in the corner, softly talking. One or two of the kids had to be theirs, because they occasionally shot a glance at the group of children. An older couple sat on a couple of chairs. Another man stood against the wall, arms folded. The woman who'd given them the blankets greeted the two dressed up in their yellow coats. They were drenched and took them off.
Maybe they weren't expecting any more refugees for now.
Then again, they'd been an unexpected pair too, hadn't they?
Daniel looked at Bell-boy when the other got comfortable, but he didn't protest. Between the two of them, it was kind of nice and warm this way.
"Hmm, yeah, I'm sure it will," Daniel muttered. What were the odds they'd get hit? Besides, even if the library was wiped off of the face of the planet, their shelter ought to hold up decently.
Daniel kept scanning the people around them, but none looked like a group of hunters. Of course, he couldn't say for certain. The storm might've caught a lone hunter in the same shelter, but would he or she act?
For now, it'd seem disastrous to actually engage in a hunt.
Hadn't stopped them at the restaurant or diner.
Thunder rumbled up above, causing the concrete walls to tremble at the closeness and force of it. Several of the children suddenly found their parents a more interesting choice than Spot. Daniel sighed out and sank down a little further, another yawn forcing its way out. Being in pain all day long wore him out quicker than he cared for.
Part of him knew he'd need to take off the shoe and unwrap the injury, clean it again, but he couldn't. It'd raise so many questions, especially considering the injury was very peculiar. Regrowing toes were hard to explain.
Bell turned sharply towards Daniel's voice and found the man carrying blankets and water towards a quiet corner. The panic died down immediately, and he hobbled over, navigating carefully around the people who were sitting on the ground to avoid crushing any fingers or hands under the broomstick. The room wasn't too crowded, but with the floor so slippery, it was still a bit of an undertaking.
Daniel had already sat and was getting comfortable when he arrived. Before he sat, Bell grabbed one of the lighter-looking nearby boxes and dropped it on his good foot to keep it from making too much noise as it hit the ground. Balancing on his foot, he used the stick to nudge it into Daniel's reach. "Here, prop that foot of yours up," he said. Now that they weren't in the car, Daniel could sit back and put his feet up as much as he needed.
Task complete, he sank down beside Daniel, then stole one of his blankets and wrapped himself up, hiding the bare ankle underneath. It was damn chilly in the room, and being half-barefoot really didn't help. Well... barestump? Whatever. No one was paying them any mind, so he snuggled up to Daniel a little bit, scooting closer until he could feel Daniel's heat against his side. It was tempting, but he didn't go any further; he didn't want to be too transparent about snuggling.
"Hopefully the storm will pass us by," he said quietly. The thing about tornadoes was that they didn't hit a huge area. If you got hit by the tornado, sure, that was it for you, but there could be a tornado that took out one house and left the next door neighbor completely unharmed. With any luck, the tornadoes wouldn't hit the library or their truck, and they'd be out of here in no time.
Or, well, in a few hours.
Bell closed his eyes, a little drowsy, then opened them again and stared blankly at the crowd. He couldn't sleep. Hunters were in the area. If there were hunters in this crowd, then that'd be it for him. He had to stay awake.
Thunder cracked, loud enough to wake the dead, and his eyes flew open. Okay, that helped. He was definitely awake now.
It'd been too warm all day and now the air-conditioning in the library was fucking freezing. Daniel shivered the second they stepped inside, noticing Bell-boy was the same. Hopefully they'd have blankets or towels in the shelter, though he doubted the air-conditioning would work down there.
Or maybe just as long as they had power.
Bell-boy's hand surprised him, even more so when the man's weight came to rest on his shoulder. Daniel hissed, but managed to stay standing despite the suddenness of the pain. He squared his shoulders and shifted his weight to his good leg, one hand to Bell-boy's waist to help the man find a new balance.
Not great, huh? Figured.
"It's fine," Daniel grunted out. It'd have hurt Bell-boy way worse to fall down than it did for him to keep the man up.
"You sure?" he said, slightly worried. Daniel didn't want to deal with the whole guilt-thing if Bell-boy fell just because he was over-confident. "Okay," he nodded, making only a little more speed than Bell-boy. His gait was uneven. Daniel tried instinctively to favour his good leg over the one with the bad foot. The stairs were a genuine pain. At least there was a sturdy railing.
Down below were several people, some of which glanced up when he arrived. None of them showed any particular interest. A woman came up to him, handing him a blanket and some water.
"Hi, we'd like to ask you to please stay calm and respectful. It'll all be over soon, okay?" she said gently. Daniel's expression softened a little as he took the things, then glanced back at Bell.
"Can I have a second set for my friend? He's the one using the crutch," Daniel muttered. The woman hesitated at first, but upon seeing Bellwether she nodded and handed over a second set.
He approached Bell on the way to a quiet corner.
"Over here," Daniel called when he noticed the panic flash across Bell-boy's eyes. He carried their things over and slumped down against the wall. Finally the weight was off the foot. Better. Much better. He wasn't sure whether to use the blanket to warm up or to prop up his leg with. Maybe he ought to find a decent box of whatever to prop their feet up, but Daniel decided he deserved a break.
Daniel kept pace with him, a move which left him simultaneously grateful and concerned. He didn't want Daniel to get hit with the storm, but it was nice to have support. They stumbled through the front door before anyone got struck by lightning, only to be immediately struck by the air conditioning. The library felt like it was kept as cold as a crypt; Bell shivered, his wet clothes instantly freezing against his body. A rug had been spread just past the door, but the instant he stepped off it, his broomstick slid across the floor, wood-on-tile working against him. Bell's balance flew right off his good leg, and he swayed, starting to fall.
He grabbed Daniel's shoulder just as Daniel asked if the stick was working. "Yeah, not--not great," he said. If he was careful, he could probably walk with the stick, but it wasn't great. "Sorry," he added a second later, worried he might've put too much weight on Daniel's foot. He could see Daniel was in pain; it was pretty clear from the way he was wincing with every step. Ugh. It was horrible being injured at the same time.
Bell carefully put more and more weight on the stick, testing how slippery it was. As long as he put his weight directly down on the stick, it didn't slide too much. "I think I can do this," he said, releasing Daniel at last. "You go on ahead. I'll be right down."
Moving slowly, he limped along, following the signs. Through the huge windows that lined the library's walls, he could see the sky. In the time it'd taken for them to get inside, the sky had darkened, green tinges replacing the purple. "Hurry," one of the librarians urged him as she hurried back. He did his best to obey, but when he went faster, his stick started to slip out from under him. Just a little bit further. Just a little bit--
His hand closed around the railing to the stairs down, and he pulled himself closer. Finally! He pulled himself hand-over-hand down the stairs and into the basement.
The last librarian pulled the door shut behind him, then hurried deeper into the stairs. Bell rested for a second, leaning his weight against he railing, then followed them down. It was dark in the stairwell, the only lighting emergency lighting. The stairs wound down until a room came into sight. It was full of boxes, tables and stairs stacked up against the wall; a few dozen people were standing or sitting here and there. He scanned the room for the others and found Cat; a second later, he found Spot, being tended to by a few eager children. Panic sprouted in his stomach for a second. Daniel, where was Daniel?
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