I can't remember where I got the inspiration for this. I was editing the Christmas at 666 Darkmore Street and I got really irritated half-way through and thought of a few little ideas I had. This is one of the results of my intrinsic irritability. Enjoy - reviews are welcome, as always.
DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to H.P. Lovecraft, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, &c. Story is all mine, peoples.
"Do you usually need to urinate so frequently?"
Dan rolled his eyes, emerging from the restroom for the tenth time one and a quarter hours. Of course, he should have known. This was Herbert West. Any of his other friends would have laughed lightly and asked why he was 'Taking a piss' every other minute. But this little scientist was that; a scientist, and everything he said or did was bent on the axis of his science, his only religion and belief-system. Dan sighed, a little perplexed.
"I'm just asking," he continued, sat on the sofa in the sitting room, reading a book and writing notes occasionally in his leather-bound book. He looked up briefly as Dan entered, wearing the black suit that he had first met him in, the tie sharply knotted and the entire ensemble free of wrinkles. If Dan sat around the house in a suit, he'd look like he was going to a funeral. But somehow, West was just one of those people who could pull a suit off no matter where he was.
"No, I don't," Dan replied, snapping a little, sitting down in front of the TV and facing away from his roommate. He knew that Herbert was now looking at him fully, with hurt blue eyes masked behind their large but fitting glasses and his full lips pouting, his teeth biting the insides of his cheeks. Dan wasn't watching him, but he knew for a fact that this is what was happening behind him. Herbert placed his things down on the coffee table, his upturned nose twitching to the side once.
"I'm just taking an interest in your general health, Daniel," he said, his voice deeper than usual and slightly insulted. Dan rolled his eyes again, running a hand through his thick brown hair. He turned to Herbert; his own chocolate hair was combed almost too perfectly and he straightened when Dan turned around to look at him.
"Yeah, well I don't want you to," he huffed, annoyed. Herbert's brow furrowed and he watched Dan intently.
"Why?" he questioned. Dan gave him a pained look. "Because you feel intimidated?"
Not for the first time, Dan wished he could kill Herbert West.
"If you know the answer, why ask the goddam question?" he muttered. One of Herbert's eyebrows rose and he looked at Dan with renewed interest. Dan shook his head, knowing what was coming. Why the Hell was he rooming with such a creep?
"You're intimidated?" he repeated, awed and intrigued. Dan got up, making his way slowly to the kitchen. He knew why Herbert was so fascinated with what he thought, and felt; he was so inhuman he didn't feel these things himself. His only source of obtaining true-to-life human emotions was by observing others. And his central subject was Dan.
"What are you doing?" Herbert asked from the sitting room, Dan going about making another cup of coffee in the kitchen. He laughed incredulously.
"You amaze me," Dan said, shaking his head and pouring the water when it was boiled; his last cup had only been minutes ago so it barely took one this time. He stirred the fine powder and entered the sitting room again, standing in front of Herbert, taking a slow sip.
"That's understandable," Herbert said modestly, resuming his reading again. Dan shook his head, growling under his breath at the insufferable man.
"I'm not referring to your numerous scientific feats," Dan hissed, sardonically. Herbert scowled, placing his book down again. "I'm talking about the fact that you seem to hate me, and yet you're so damn possessive."
Herbert laughed. "Possessive."
Dan nodded, taking a gulp of his drink again, the scent overwhelming. "Yes, possessive. Whenever any of my friend from Miskatonic come over, or whenever my parents visit; Hell, even when my sister visits!" he exclaimed, remembering her last visit. Herbert swallowed, holding his ground. "Do you know, she hasn't come back since? She only stopped for three hours; she was supposed to stay the day."
"That wasn't my fault," Herbert shrugged. Dan laughed, almost hysterically.
"She left because of you!" he cried. "Do you know what she said to me? She said that you creeped her out. She said that she didn't know why I was rooming with you. My friends think I'm gay, my parents won't say anything, and my sister is scared to death of you…" He trailed off, shaking his head, the mug trembling in his hands. Herbert's gaze had gradually dropped to the floor. "And that's all because when they come over, you do everything in your power to keep me to yourself. Even when I was talking to Meg, and you were bitching over me, you called me 'Danny', just because you knew it was a pet name."
He shook his head, dropping to the ground, spilling some of the coffee on his jeans but not really caring. He finished the entire cup in under four mouthfuls. He got up to make another, partly relieved to have got that off of his chest. Not that it would make any difference. He didn't know why, but he couldn't let Herbert go. He scoffed at himself for being so stupid and was about to open the kitchen door again when a cold hand stopped him, gently curling around his wrist.
"Do you usually drink so much coffee?" Herbert asked. He was frowning. Dan looked at him with disbelief. This guy wasn't for real.
"I've just screamed at you," Dan said, shaking his head, "and all you can do is ask me about my coffee intake? Jesus, Herbert—"
"I'm being serious, Daniel." The smaller man stared up at him, pursing his lips. "Do you usually drink this much coffee?"
Dan thought about it for a second, shrugging irritably. "I don't know…no. I haven't had it in a while, I just drink so much now because…"
He stopped again. Herbert was shaking his head, returning to the couch. He looked up at Dan with disappointment, amusement, and annoyance.
"Caffeine acts as a diuretic if you have a low tolerance to it," Herbert stated calmly.
Dan blinked. Oh, yeah.
"Ah," he said, understanding why he needed to go so often. Of course it was the caffeine; how hadn't he noticed that before?
Herbert simply sat there, reciting illimitable facts about caffeine, Dan sitting beside him and listening carefully.
"Why do you know so much about caffeine?" he asked curiously. Herbert looked at him uncertainly and then decided to tell him anyway.
"I have caffeine in my reagent," he said. "Both versions; the one I take, and the one I use to reanimate the corpses."
Dan paused. Then he laughed uproariously.
Herbert had expected it. He stared forward, frustrated.
"Caffeine…in the reagent!" Dan breathed, clutching his stomach. "The thing we drink in coffee…to bring the dead back to life!" He chuckled, wiping a tear away. Herbert didn't understand what was so hilarious. "Why go to all the trouble of making the green stuff, West – why not give them Nespresso?"
Herbert sighed. "The caffeine is one factor of it, Daniel. One part."
Dan stopped laughed, smiling at Herbert as though he'd never hated the man before in his life. "I know, but…come on, West. Caffeine."
Herbert stood up and turned on him, looking deadly serious, his fists clenched.
"What's so wrong about using caffeine, hm?" he demanded. "It's a psychoactive stimulant, as you well know. It acts on the central nervous system to boost wakefulness, mental clarity, increased muscular recovery, et cetera. This is all basic science, Dan. It stands to reason, then, that if it was incorporated into an already potent solution of reanimating reagent, it would work to strengthen it further providing it didn't biologically disagree with any of the other elements. Which it doesn't."
Dan nodded, over his giggles. He shook his head, running a hand through his hair again.
"I know it makes sense," he admitted. "It's just…caffeine. I wouldn't expect something so simple to be used in something so complicated."
Herbert sat down, calmer after his own outburst. Part of him was wondering how to explain it so Dan understood. And part of him was laughing at how different the two of them were. Dan got worked up about emotional, personal issues; he was worked into a manic frenzy when scientific matters were brought into conversation.
"When I was in school, everyone used to give me grief for using, as they erroneously called them, 'long words'," Herbert began, turning to Dan and holding his gaze steadily. "I always knew that I had a greater grasp and understanding of the English language...but I still wanted to know what they meant by 'long words'. They used words like 'fabulous', or 'spectacularly', without thinking about it, but when I said 'colloquy' or 'futile', sometimes words with half as many syllables, they laughed. And I wondered why. And do you know what? If words like those would have been used in their social circles often enough, they wouldn't have thought them extraordinarily long. They weren't long, as such; just uncommon, unheard of, strange and new. And that's what's happening here, Dan," he said, softly. Dan was actually suprised at how gentle his voice had turned, losing some of its bitterness. "You seem to think that the idea of using something as common as caffeine is something as incredible as the reagent is weird, purely because that notion - of one normal thing being added to something thoroughly amazing - is so new. And you aren't used to it."
He fell silent. For the next few minutes neither man spoke, nor moved. Herbert simply stared at his feet; Dan watched him carefully, trying to think of something inspiring to say. He couldn't think of anything, so he simply patted Herbert's back affectionately and smiled at him. Herbert frowned up at him with puzzlement and Dan grinned.
"It's fine," Dan said, quietly. "I'm sorry for laughing before; I think I understand now."
Herbert's eyebrows knitted together and he beheld Dan with complete disbelief.
"As you so aptly put it, Dan, you were just screaming at me shortly ago..."
Dan cut him off, shaking his head. He felt bad now; for everything. Herbert West was...complex. He was a force of nature, and he was either there, or not. And he was so irrevocably intertwined into Dan's life, he couldn't conceive of his absence. They didn't particularly talk much; and when they did, it was about work, or arguments. But the fact that the beguiling gentleman kept so much from him - that fact alone - attracted him as much as it repelled him. As much as he often hated Herbert for driving his family away, driving his friends away...driving everyone and everything he cared about away...
Even with all of this in his past, Dan could never truly hate Herbert enough to part with him.
He didn't understand why. Maybe, he didn't need to understand. Not now.
"Well, that was then," Dan said lightly, turning to Herbert and placing a firm hand on his shoulder. Herbert winced a little at the contact and Dan made to remove his hand. He was surprised to find Herbert's cold hand on top of it, holding it in place. Herbert smiled, almost sweetly, for him, and stared at Dan intensively.
"I understand, too," he promised. Dan watched him, analysing him very carefully, making sure he wasn't misinterpreting the situation. He didn't think he was. The way Herbert was staring at him, never allowing his eyes to stray from his...Dan wasn't sure, but he thought he saw a desire in those eyes, a burning desire. It was the same look Herbert had when an experiment went better than planned, or when he had an epiphany.
It was uncommon. Strange. New.
He liked it.
Remaining very calm and focused on Dan's lips, Herbert let his hands move to Dan's waist and he leant closer, his mouth already feeling the heat that Dan's radiated. A tingling reverberation was evident in his stomach - was it his stomach? - and he closed his eyes, his lips brushing Dan's.
Dan stopped him from getting any further.
He looked up at him, hurt, confused. Not especially humiliated...Dan had seemed to welcome him. He'd moved towards him, he was sure he had! So why had he held him so he couldn't move further?
"Sorry," Dan said, slightly embarassed. He cringed, getting up, dropping his hands from Herbert's shoulders. "But...I kind of have to go again."
Dan hurried to the restroom. Herbert stared after him for three seconds.
In the first second, he was completely and unequivocally shocked at himself.
In the next, shocked at Dan. For returning his feelings.
And in the last he smiled, knowing that he'd never felt happier. So he waited, damning caffeine's phisiological effects on one hand and doing all he could to contain his glee on the other.