There were only about two places in the world that Dan knew he could find Herbert; in the local morgue or in the basement of their shared home. If the banging, muffled moans that were followed by loud screams were any indication to go by then this was a day that Dan knew he could find his small friend in the basement of their home.
By the time he got to the bottom of the stairs the screams had stopped. He found Herbert standing over a metal table, his hands were gripping the edges tightly and even from where he stood Dan could hear his heavy labored breaths.
“Hey are you okay?”
The slightly older man turned to face his tall friend, there was a tight-lipped smile on his blood-stained face. His white dress shirt had come untucked from his black pants, his tie hung loosely around his neck and just like his face his clothes were also stained in red. There was a manic glint in Herbert’s dark eyes, a glint that Dan knew well, and regrettably had to admit he enjoyed it. There wasn’t anything too dangerous about Herbert West, he was more dangerous to himself than he was to the outside world, though trying to tell the cops that was a different story.
Dan heard something hissing from behind his partner, he didn’t want to know, but he knew that it would be what Herbert would want to show him.
“I’m great, better than great. Dan come here, there’s something that I need to show you.”
He allowed it when the smaller man approached him and took him by the hand eagerly leading him towards the monstrosity lying on the table. He had to admit his excitement was sweet, even if he was excited over something disturbing.
There on the table was something.
Dan could see the fingers, see two eyes sewn onto the top of the forearm and a leg attached to where a shoulder should be. The creature dragged itself along the table, open wounds moving like working orifices. He looked from the pained creation then to Herbert who was looking up at him with eager eyes.
“What is it?”
The other man rolled his eyes, he pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and gestured towards the monster with his free hand.
“It’s my latest creation, a new test to see how these things can exist without organs or a brain. Isn’t it fascinating, it can even see us.”
Dan gave Herbert’s hand a slight squeeze and slowly pulled him away from the thing that was crawling around on the table, the smaller man’s expression went from one of pride to confusion as he was led away.
He placed his hands on the older man’s shoulders, “Herbert don’t you want to….Oh I don’t know, get out for a bit?”
The dark-haired man tilted his head to the side in confusion, a confusion that had an air of judgement to it.
“What do you mean?”
“Christ Herbert you’re young, we’re both young. Don’t you want to go do normal things, I don’t know we could go to a movie or go swimming.”
Things he used to do with Meg before Mr. West entered his life, if he had just shut the door in his face all that time ago then he wouldn’t be having this discussion about normal couple things right now. Though he had to say he had no real regrets about the direction of his life despite how much he still missed Meg, Herbert gave him something else he never knew he needed or wanted.
A laugh erupted from the smaller man as he placed a hand against Dan’s chest beginning to push him back as if he were completely offended by his existence in this moment.
“You can’t be serious.”
“I’m being very serious Herbert, you’ve been down here all week. When was the last time you even came out to eat something or to sleep?”
“I ate yesterday.”
“What did you eat?”
“This is ignorant, just tell me you don’t like what I made. I’m not a child Daniel, I can handle your criticism.”
Again, Dan grabbed him by the hand pulling him to him, this time the smaller man stumbled falling against him. The air of superiority seemed to disappear when he was pressed up against the taller man. He placed a hand against Herbert’s cheek wiping away drops of blood, he smiled down at him knowing this was the sort of thing the smaller man ate up.
“Herbert you’re going to shower, I’ll get in with you if I have to, you’re getting dressed and then we’re going to go see a movie.”
“P-perhaps you should join me in the shower.”
Dan kissed the top of his head then quickly kissed his lips before leading his boyfriend out of the basement and into the admittedly small bathroom.
Dan knew that Herbert hated everything about this. He hadn’t complained while they had been in the shower, that probably had to do with the fact they had spent half their time in the shower heavily making out. Once they got out and were getting dressed, that was when Herbert had started complaining. He complained in the car, complained when they got out at the theater, but again he stopped once Dan had draped an arm around his shoulders holding him close to his side as they made their way from the car to the large building. For whatever reason Dan, had found that no matter what he could get Herbert to stop complaining or panicking or yelling if he touched him or held him or kissed him, something about it just consoled the smaller man.
One day he would have to sit down and discuss this with him, there were many things he knew he needed to genuinely discuss with Herbert.
For now, they had nothing that needed discussing, Dan just wanted to feel normal with his boyfriend for a few hours. He knew that Herbert didn’t really hate this as much as he insisted that he did, well he knew that the older man hated being around this many other people in their age group.
When they arrived at the ticket booth he could sense Herbert rolling his eyes when Dan bought two tickets for what the smaller man would consider a “cliché tacky scary movie that only horny teenagers would go to see.”
“You do realize I’m going to complain through the entire movie, right?” Herbert reminded him as they took their seat in the very back of the room.
“I know, you’ve told me twice now.”
“Then why are we here?”
He wrapped his arm around the other man’s shoulders, he curled his fingers against his arm.
“We’re here, because I know deep down you like stuff like this or you at least like doing things that you know I like, because you love me.”
Herbert tensed, he opened his mouth to protest the entirety of the statement, but stopped when Dan kissed him. Immediately he was kissing him back, timid movements of full lips as he whimpered into the kiss. He placed a hand on the back of Dan’s neck running his fingers up through his partner’s thick brown hair.
Dan broke from the kiss, he leaned his forehead against his boyfriend’s as he smiled down at him.
“Were you going to argue loving me?”
“Not that, the other parts.”
“We do this then we can do anything you want to do.”
“So perhaps a bit of grave digging tomorrow night?” Herbert asked, there was a bit of excitement to his tone.
The younger man pressed his lips against his forehead, “sure, we can do that.”
“Then I suppose I can suffer through this tragedy disguised as a film. Honestly Dan why couldn’t you have done something like take me to dinner or at least taken me to a romantic movie.”
Dan could hear the movie starting, he wanted to pull his focus from Herbert, but it had been a good while since he’d been able to make out during a movie. At home if he tried to watch a movie with Herbert the older man normally read through it or wrote notes on future projects he was planning, but in a dark theater he had his boyfriend’s complete attention. So, he took advantage of this by pressing little loving kisses along the side of his neck, he felt short nails digging into the back of his neck and could feel the little moans vibrate deep in Herbert’s throat.
“What if somebody sees us?”
He licked a trail up to the shell of the other man’s ear, he took his earlobe between his teeth tugging gently.
“So long as I just touch you over your clothes nobody can say anything, but perhaps when we get back to the car that will change.” Dan whispered against his ear, he could feel his boyfriend’s body shiver at that.
“You are a complete ass Dan.”
“I love you too.”
With that he turned his attention away from his boyfriend and back to the movie. A movie they managed to get through perhaps fifteen minutes of before complaints began.
“This is so inaccurate, why on Earth would anybody believe in ghosts, and as if Ouija boards are anything more than glorified toys aimed towards adults.”
“Herbert, you spend every day in our basement bringing dead body parts into sentient life.”
“Exactly and that has nothing to do with ghosts, you don’t see ghosts haunting our home now do you?”
Dan rubbed at his forehead and sighed heavily.
“Honestly how do people even get invested in thes-“
His interest was caught when the ranting stopped, he saw the smaller man jump in his seat and curse under his breath.
“Di-did you just jump?” He asked, repressing the urge to laugh.
Herbert turned to glare at him, he obviously wasn’t in the mood to be teased, but he rarely was.
“No I did not.”
“You totally did, that scared you.”
“It’s called adrenaline Dan.”
“Look if the movie is too scary for you, you can always bury your head against my chest. I’ll keep you safe.”
Herbert rolled his eyes at that. “Right like you did in the morgue when Hill nearly killed me?”
“We’ve been over that already Herbert, if I thought I could have done anything then I would have.”
Dan still felt bad for abandoning him back there, but he really had been sure Herbert was dead.
He found himself nuzzling the side of his boyfriend’s neck as if to apologize, he pressed his lips against his skin and in seconds Herbert was a mess all over again. This time around the movie became less important, he would feel Herbert’s body jerk when certain sounds boomed from the speakers. Dan laughed at the little fear reactions only to have the older man harshly whisper for him to shut up because it was not funny.
Their make out session came to a halt when the credits rolled and the house lights came on, a warning signal to break it up until they could get somewhere more private. Neither of them had a problem with that.
Dan took Herbert by the hand walking out of the theater with him close by his side, once they were safely locked inside of his car they were back together. Dan sat in the passenger seat with Herbert straddling his lap, the smaller man pressed firmly against him as they made out. His hands moved up under the white button up that Herbert was wearing, fingers rubbing over lightly scarred skin, Herbert’s own hands went from Dan’s hair down to his hips.
“Shouldn’t we be doing this at home?” Herbert asked, he rest his forehead against the taller man’s.
The younger man was busy undoing the buttons on his boyfriend shirt knowing fully well that he was right. There were a lot of cars around them, he could hear people outside talking and laughing amongst themselves. If a single person spotted them and pointed them out he knew it would leave Herbert humiliated and then Dan would end up getting into a fight, he did not want either of those things.
“We should, I just got a bit ahead of myself.” He admitted laughing a bit.
He held the other man against him, when he kissed him again it was quick and sweet.
“Thanks for this Herbert, I know you hated it.”
“It wasn’t….It wasn’t horrendous, I still hated it and let’s never do this again, but it could have been worse.”
That was the closest to a compliment he could expect to get from his boyfriend, he would take it, he knew what he meant.
“Tomorrow grave digging and this Saturday if you don’t have any Frankenstein basement plans then I can take you out for a nice dinner.” Dan offered.
He saw a small smile play on his boyfriend’s lips for a split second, “I might enjoy that.”
Herbert buried his face against Dan’s chest, “Love you Dan” he whispered almost too low to be heard.
He rarely said it, but when he said it it meant the world to the younger man.