I watched Reanimator again today and I'm realising that my fics are way out of character. I also don't mind, because I like experimental shit, but other people might. So this is, I hope, more in character than others. I guess all Herbert x Dan fics are OOC, because that probably never would have happened in the movies...but we can all dream, can't we? I don't know why we like to read stuff like this, or think it, but I'm painting a picture - your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to observe it as carefully as you can and inerpret it how you will. Enjoy!
Also, there's a bit more dialogue in this than usual. Sorry if you prefer descriptions, and everything, but really...people should talk!
Disclaimer: Reanimator and characters belong to H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Stanley Gordon, Brian Yuzna, &c.
"Why do I waste my time? Why is it that you're so damn irreplaceable?"
From the moment Dan Cain saw Herbert West arrogantly insulting Dr. Carl Hill's theories in one of the neurology labs of the Miskatonic Medical University, he somehow knew; this man is significant.
He didn't know how; he didn't know how significant he would be in his own life. His idyllic life; beautiful girlfriend, beautiful house, impending scholarship and potentially prosperous career ahead of him. A lot of people might say he threw that away; he fervently disagrees.
Up until meeting Herbert West, he didn't believe that anything he had could be replaced. Nobody could ever possibly replace Meg, or his happy home and life. Especially, even he would have agreed to start with, not a cold-hearted man who resurrected the dead and lived in uncertain mania on a day-to-day basis.
And yet, when Herbert brought his cat Rufus back from the dead right in front of his eyes, he knew. He knew, that he had met someone who could never be replicated. A genius and personality the earth would see again. And Dan was proud, just to know Herbert West. Just to be in his vicinity, proud to know that he had met him at all.
Herbert had and has a lot of flaws - he's fallible, like the best of people. He's cold, arrogant, insolent, infuriating, hyperactive, callous, uncaring...a sociopath in the most entire sense. Dan didn't like the whole 'He showed me his true self' cliche, but he definitely saw qualities in Herbert that nobody else either cared to look for or bothered to notice. He could be horrifically frusttrating, but he was fiercely loyal to Dan. That could be a bad thing - he could be insanely jealous of Dan's companions, and treat him coolly for days - but it always gave Dan a warm feeling...to know someone who had started out simply using him really had, over a short space of time, come to value him.
He'd overheard a conversation once...in the same neurology lab Herbert had insulted Dr Hill in multiple times. Presumably someone had mentioned Dan under their breath and Herbert had unfortunately been there to hear it. Dan had just left the room when he caught the beginning and lingered outside of the door, other students milling around to listen with curious ears.
" - and I also know that your, pardon my language, thoroughly spurious, ignominious words are completely unfounded."
There was silence, the words slicing through the air. Then one sneer, then a group.
"You use words that are bigger than you are," someone leered. Dan bit down on his lower lip, heat coming to his cheeks. He, decidedly, detested people mocking his partner. He and Herbert were partners; in science, in their shared home. Dan would have called them friends; and he smiled, because though Herbert would have wrinkled his nose at the suggestion of their friendship, he would have smiled behind Dan's back, his eyes glowing a little, and Dan would have caught him just as he changed his expression, coughing and carrying on with his research.
"Is that a problem for you?" Herbert retorted, without missing a beat. "Perhaps it would be easier if I explained what they meant? Perhaps with illustrations?"
Dan smiled on the other side of the room. Typical West.
A few people walked past, watching him laughing against the door. He smiled at them, waving casually.
"I just wonder what he does for you," the voice continued, "to make you so loyal. What, does he let you go on top sometimes?"
Long, long spell of silence.
Dan's jaw dropped, his brow furrowing after a few moments. Herbert was obviously taking a longer time to compose himself as well.
There were a few laughs from the group.
"Not so opinionated now, are you?"
Wrong thing. Dan knew as soon as he'd said it; don't push Herbert West. Some lines should forever be left uncrossed.
"That is a scandalous accusation!" Herbert thundered, trying at first to keep his voice down and then forgetting about this half way. Dan covered his mouth with his hand, his other hand in his hair. "And again, you know that those remarks are completely unfounded on anything you've ever spoken to either Dan or I about or observed." His voice took on a derisive tone. "Not that your observation skills are anything worthy of mentioning, being practically non-existant," he spat. "You don't know the difference between the pineal gland and a pineapple."
"You aren't convincing anyone," the voice piped up again. "The more you argue, the more you...incriminate yourself. And your precious Dr Cain." A laugh. "You seem cold and heartless, but you must have some heart to defend him like that. It's a drastic leap, though, don't you think - to go from emotionless and black to rainbows and 'We're here, we're queer' T-shirts."
A low murmured chorus moved around the room.
Dan closed his eyes. This Joker was on fire.
"Does he not know?" he went on. "How you feel? Haven't you told him? You have come out, haven't you? Dear, I had you down as braver than that, what with your big mouth and big ideas. I know Dan's a ladies' man, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind switching teams for his favourite little psychopath. Or maybe you just fuck him to keep him. You do everything else to keep him in your grasp, any -"
He didn't get any further than that.
Dan burst into the room when he heard a thud, a hiss, a louder gasp, and someone falling over.
He hurried up behind Herbert, grabbing him firmly and pulling him away from the tall, broadset guy he'd just punched.
Herbert struggled against him for a moment, then heard Dan's voice in his ear and calmed, shaking himself. Everyone else in the room had fell silent. Two of the guy's friends took a step forward but Dan held a hand out, barking "Enough," pulling Herbert from the room.
The guy couldn't stop with a mouth full of blood. Dan heard him spit "Quite the knight in shining armour, isn't he?" even as they were leaving the room.
Herbert struggled against Dan, trying to get back into the room.
"Dan, are we just going to let -"
"Herbert, just leave it," Dan sighed.
Herbert was fuming.
"It isn't fair that he gets away with saying those things, Dan," Herbert said, his eyes holding Dan's as they walked down the corridor and made for the stairs. He shook his head. "It's just not right. Self-righteous -"
"Herbert!" Dan smiled, trying to down-play what they'd both heard loud and clearly. "It's OK. He was just taking the piss. I'm just sorry I wasn't there to help get things under control before..."
"Yes, it was strange how you put in an appearance just after I'd punched him," Herbert said, quickening his pace again. Dan didn't need to do much to catch up with him, but he could tell Herbert was in a foul mood. "Where were you, Dan? Spying outside the door, waiting until things got too much for me to handle?" He scoffed, shaking his head. "You had to come and drag me out, like somehow you were the only difference between me and a second bloody nose."
Dan didn't quite know what to say. Instead, he remained quiet. He knew what Herbert reacted to in these situations.
"You know what, I don't need this," he sighed, turning the other way. Herbert stopped straight in his tracks, turned around, grabbed him, and span him around again, tugging him until they were as they had been again.
Dan smiled. Herbert frowned.
"I hate you."
Dan's grin broadened.
"I know what turns you on."
Herbert blushed at the double entendre but kept staring forward as they moved down another set of stairs.
"You know, your attachment to me is kind of unnatural." Jokingly, "I'm beginning to get the idea that you do have feelings for me."
"You would be lucky, should that be the case," Herbert simply said, before sharply adding "And stop using the words 'You know' as the general prefix to every sentence that shambolically stumbles out of your lips. It's...irritating."
He's insulting me, Dan smiled. He does that when he's embarassed. Or being evasive. So technically, I win.
It was childish, but Dan like to keep track of these things. The score sheet was pretty evenly balanced.
Dan saw the bright sign for the Miskatonic Cafe, and realised that's where they were headed. He shrugged.
"You'd know all about my lips."
Herbert scowled cutely.
"Not funny, Daniel."
Dan grinned. At least he was placid.
That was something, at least.
"Black, no sugar, and a latte, please."
The smiling blonde nodded.
"I'll fetch them for you."
"Cheers," Dan tipped his head to her, and sat down next to Herbert. Currently, he was in the process of calming down by way of seeing how far he could stick a splintered wooden flint into his hand. Dan saw a single drop of blood taint the white skin and shook his head disapprovingly, taking the implenent from Herbert and setting it aside. Herbert shrugged, slightly annoyed.
"It's theraputic," he argued.
Dan sighed. "It's not good for you. We've had this conversation before."
"Don't patronize me," Herbert demanded. "You're a doctor, not a psychiatrist."
Dan nodded agreement. "I still know what's healthy and what isn't. And you bring the dead back to life, you definitely do as well."
Herbert strummed repetitive tunes on the table. "Maybe I don't really care, at this moment in time."
Before Dan could say anything else the blonde set their drinks down, beaming cheerily and making a show of swinging her hips as she left. Herbert watched Dan closely. He was staring the opposite way.
"She likes you," he noted.
"According to you, everyone with breasts likes me."
"She reminds you of Meg."
Dan winced. He tried to make up face, nodding breezily and taking a sip of his latte. Herbert looked down, stirring his coffee though really it was simply 'rich' beans and boiling water. Simple. Clean. Cynical. Suited him.
"Are you still...having troubles?"
Dan paused for a moment, then nodded. Herbert waited for a second before prodding on.
"If...you want. We can talk about it..?"
Dan bit the inside of his mouth, chewing on the inside of his cheek until he could taste a faint metallic tone in his mouth. Herbert wasn't good at the sentimental, heart-to-heart talks, but it pleased Dan to know he was there.
"She's still being irrational. About..." He struggled for words. He simply settled for the only word that was appropriate, that summed up their entire predicament in a syllable. "Us."
Herbert continued to stir his drink. Dan and Meg hadn't been the same since he'd entered the scene, and he knew that. In a way, he was glad. It meant that Dan was wholly his. That was good for science - and good, he had to admit, for his insane jealousy. He'd formulated a few theories to explain why he disliked everyone Dan socialized with, and his favourite was simply that he hated the thought of Dan being away from their work. That was, at least, true. But there were...other reasons. Reasons even he and his fellow genius communities couldn't comprehend.
Meg's severe dislike of Herbert had caused her to be cool towards Dan. She was temperamental, snapped at him all the time, snapped coldly, insulted Herbert, and berated Dan for sticking by him. Herbert wondered how much longer Dan would tolerate it for. He also wondered himself, why Dan stuck by him so stolidly, never showing signs of flinching.
"I see," Herbert said. And he did see.
Dan was still sat there biting his cheeks, with rapidly increasing force. Herbert tapped his cheek, Dan stopping firstly from shock and then sheepishly giving Herbert a half-smile.
"Sorry," he said.
Herbert shook his head. "It's not good for you," he echoed. Dan smiled. "And...I am sorry," he added quickly. "About Meg."
"It doesn't matter. We're working a shift tonight, but if we play our cards right we can get to the morgue at around...one o clock? Maybe just past midnight if we're lucky. Failing that we can sneak up to the graveyard. You always said you liked Burke and Hare."
Their eyes twinkled.
"I did," Herbert smiled, at last taking a sip of his coffee.
"So, are you better now?" Dan asked. Herbert nodded. "Good. It's just a good thing Hill wasn't there to see your little bust-up. I swear..." He shuddered. Hill had hated West from the off. Witnessing something like that... "Still, I don't think they'll say anything. It would ruin his reputation."
"What, being struck in the nose by someone who speaks words larger than his entire mass?"
"Yeah, something like that."
Herbert was still confused. "I don't know what you were doing, listening to all of that. You should have gone. I was fine on my own."
Dan shrugged. He was hoping Herbert wouldn't bring this up again.
"Well, I heard some interesting things."
Herbert kept a look of alarm out of his eyes.
"You don't believe them, I trust."
Dan faltered. Herbert's eyes never strayed from the bloody mark on his hand.
"You don't? Or you don't know?"
"Look...I'm going to be straight with you. If you do...you know."
Herbert waited. Dan stared at the table as some kind of plan formulated in his mind.
"Like me...like that..."
"I know, just hear me out! Like I said earlier...I mean, our relationship is kind of strange. Not even factoring in the 'dead people' thing."
Herbert smiled. Dead people thing. Cute.
"What with you and your jealousy -"
"Loyalty and jealousy are not the same thing, Daniel," Herbert interjected. Dan gave him a sideways glance.
"Fine, but you're teetering on the very fine dividing line, Herbert," he said. "Even I've seen the way you look at other people I talk to. So of course they will have..."
"Dan, you are my partner," Herbert began. Dan cut him off, red, staring at his largely untouched latte again.
"I know that," he said. "Trust me, I know that by now. But...which kind of partner do you want me to be?"
Herbert looked away from him, removing his glasses - a rarity, and a moment Dan loved - and resting his elbow on the table. He grasped his scalp, shaking his head. "We are not having this conversation."
"Herbert, it is ok if you're..."
Herbert brought his palms down against the table, snapping his head towards Dan, who could help noticing how much like a mad scientist Herbert West really did look.
"Yes, Dan, fine!" Herbert rose his voice. "You caught me! I'm gloriously homosexual, a strict 6 on the Kinsey scale - and I wouldn't have minded shagging Kinsey, by the way, along with Freud and Kant - and when you aren't home, I don tight pink lyrca and listen to Elton John."
Dan bit down on his lower lip. He couldn't restrain a chuckle.
"You'd shag Kant?" he laughed.
"Of course," Herbert frowned, like it was an absurd question. "And some of his contemporaries were goregous."
Dan smiled, rolling his eyes, and placed a hand swiftly over Herbert's. He watched his reaction carefully. His breathing paused momentarily, and he froze up, staring at the table, not moving.
"Sorry...I didn't mean to upset you."
Herbert simply nodded, said "Thank you," and remained still, Dan's fingers lingering on his own.
Dan thought for a moment. Thank you. Not 'Get the hell off', or 'What do you think you're doing?' or any number of witticisms; he didn't make any effort to move.
That's all I need to know.
He was losing the will to live.
His day had been hard enough as it was; he'd stood and heard a load of shit from the guys in neurology, Herbert had punched a guy, Dean Halsey had pulled him into an awkward conversation about Meg, two people had pretty much spontaneously died in front of him, and now, there was nothing to eat.
Dan's head fell in his hands.
Dan wrenched himself up, opening the door, showing his biggest smile. Meg grinned at him, her short blonde hair bobbing as she entered, wearing a loose pink pullover and jeans.
She was happier than usual. He knew why. Suddenly, an hour of Herbert West not being here and everything was fine again. She sat down, still smiling. Dan made an effort to stand a distance away. Her smile; sickly sweet. Her ears; pricked. Listening, just in case, for him. Positioned on the edge of the seat so she could jump straight up and start screaming as he entered, although sadly tonight he was out.
Why did everything about her piss him off so much?
"You here for a reason?" Dan asked, trying to be warm, heading into the kitchen to fix them a drink. He was sick of coffee, so he readied two mugs of tea.
"Do I need one?" she said. "I just want to spend time with you."
Liar. Nowadays you always have an ulterior motive. You never come around to 'spend time' with me, you come around to spy on me or shout at me. On West, I find jealousy endearing. On you, it's just plain annoying...
He carried on making the tea. Soldier on.
"And I want to talk to you about something...important."
He nodded. There's my ulterior motive.
"I'll wait until you've finished making the tea."
Dan sighed, exiting the kitchen. He didn't bother to crack a smile.
"What is it, Meg?"
She looked hurt, her large eyes upset. Internally, Dan was rolling his own dark ones. Not this, again.
"I thought we'd talk about us," she whispered.
"What about us?"
"Oh come on, Dan," she said, her dulcet patience wearing thin. "We hardly ever see each other any more...you're always too caught up in your...experiments, for want of another word."
"Well what else would you call them?" Dan demanded, coldly. He should have known they were doomed to another argument from the start.
"Wrong, abnormal, unhealthy..."
"Meg, we can bring the dead back to life!" Dan yelled. "All those people who die in accidents, all those people who are murdered, all those people who should have lived longer..."
"But it doesn't work!" she screamed, silence ripping through the room. "You bring them back, and they're in pain! I saw that cadaver, Dan! I saw everything! It's a miracle I haven't told Daddy yet!"
He laughed scornfully. "Yes, use the 'Daddy card' again, that's really mature!" He shook his head. The water had boiled.
Meg jumped up from the couch.
"Well at least I have a life, unlike you! All you care about is West, and his...awful experiments! We were so happy, before he came along!" Her eyes were wild. "Can't you see it? Everyone else can. You're fascinated with him! He's just using you!"
"What would you know?" Dan yelled.
"I know that we haven't talked properly in months, and that you treat me like you don't even love me anymore!"
Dan didn't even think. The words were already out of his mouth.
"Maybe that's because I don't!"
Herbert approached the door - the same door he'd entered through all those months ago, inquiring about the house after seeing Dan half-naked. He heard splintering silence through the house, and made to turn the handle after moving both of the bags into his left hand. He stopped short when he heard a strangled sob. He'd heard it before. But this was a different kind of sob.
"You don't...love me," Meg whispered. She sounded breathless. Part of Herbert was thinking 'Well, it's about time.' The other part was wondering where this conversation of sorts might be headed, and how it got to this point anyway.
Dan felt awful. He felt relieved. He felt a lot of things.
"No," he said. "I don't."
There was more silence. Herbert didn't move.
"Do you...love him?" she asked. She sounded like she was hyperventilating.
"Answer me!" she shrieked. "Are you in love with Herbert West, Dan? Because when we first started dating, you told me I was perfect. That I was irreplaceable. But I'm not, am I?" Tears were running down her cheeks. Her heart was throbbing. "I am replaceable." Another pause. "Aren't I?"
Dan sunk into the armchair. Herbert could see him vaguely. He nodded.
"Yes, you are."
She bit her lower lip.
"Is he...irreplaceable? West..."
"What? Meg, I..."
"Answer the question!" she cried.
Dan looked at her. Boldly. He really didn't care anymore. Really, this was for the best. This couldn't havegone on for much longer, anyway.
"There'll never be anyone else like him," he promised her. Herbert was shocked by the certainty in his voice. "I'm quite sure."
Herbert knew he had to show his face at some point. Better to do it now, than to wait and let Meg find him listening outside the door.
He opened it, slowly, both people staring up at him.
Dan noted the grocery bags Herbert had in his left hand. He smiled at the floor. One corner of Herbert's mouth twitched a little and he remained still.
Meg saw everything.
"I would...like...to punch you," she said, presumably to Herbert, her words coming in breathy exhalations. "You're ruined my life. But I'm tired. I'm going home. I'll tell Daddy, Dan. You can kiss your scholarship - your future - goodbye."
She opened the door, pausing for a second. She turned to Herbert, her watery eyes catching his.
"I hate you. I hate you more than anyone, and that will always be true."
And she whispered "Look after him" under her breath before she left.
The door clicked shut. Dan's head fell into his hands, tears escaping his eyes. He didn't know why he was crying. Everything that had happened, he guessed. Plus the fact that he was exhausted.
Herbert dropped the bags and knelt at Dan's feet.
Herbert frowned. "Wh-"
"Go," Dan looked up, smiling weakly, "and make us a cup of tea. Then...we can talk."
Herbert nodded. He rose, squeezed Dan's shoulder, grabbed the bags, and walked into the kitchen.
It was so simple. At that moment in time, all they had to do was wait. To drink tea. Talking would be harder, and whatever Dean Halsey was going to do would be worse, but it didn't matter. They'd been through a lot. Another day wouldn't kill them.
From the moment Dan Cain watched Herbert West argiung to the Medical Dean Alan Halsey why he and Dan shouldn't be expelled in his office of the Miskatonic Medical University, he knew; this man is significant.
He hadn't known how earlier; now, he was fairly confident. Herbert West was very much significant in his life. His complicated life; same house, uncertainly but possibly impending scholarship, and potentially prosperous career ahead of him. A lot of people say he threw that away; he still fervently disagrees. He didn't.
Up until meeting Herbert West, he didn't believe that anything he had could be replaced. Nobody would ever replace Meg, or his happy home and life. Especially, even he would have agreed to start with, not a cold-hearted man who resurrected the dead and lived in uncertain mania on a day-to-day basis.
And yet, when Herbert brought his cat Rufus back from the dead right in front of his eyes, he knew. He knew, that he had met someone who could never be replicated. A genius and personality the earth would see again. And Dan was proud, just to know Herbert West. Just to be in his vicinity; proud to know that he had met him at all.
That's probably why he'd adopted a little of Herbert's jealousy. Because he didn't like the thought that Herbert might one day come in with a someone and settle down somewhere else. Dan loathed the thought of him being replaceable.
That's probably also why, when they were sat outside the University on a rainy but warm summer night, on a secluded hill at the back, taking the time to cool off from their day and appreciate their night, Dan had turned to Herbert and tilted his head towards him.
"Herbert?" he asked. Herbert would have frowned, but Dan's voice was too comforting for that.
Dan's eyes sparkled.
"Am I replaceable?"
Herbert's lips twisted into a soft smile. He leant forward, brushing their lips together for a second and kissing Dan gently. He pulled away, so quickly Dan wondered if he'd imagined it. It would explain why everything seemed so perfect - if it wasn't real at all.
"On the contrary," Herbert said quietly. "I'd say you're quite irreplaceable."
Dan grinned, his eyes moving once more to Herbert's lips. How wet they were, thanks to the rain.
He knew that a lot of people thought he shouldn't have done it. Throw away what he had.
But they've never had anything that was irreplaceable.
Herbert looked at him; peacefully. Serenely.
"Are you sure you're not wasting your time?" he pressed.
Dan took his hand, edging closer.
"Why do I want to waste my time?" he asked, bending his head a little, his lips on Herbert's.
Herbert moaned gently, and sighed, before whispering
"Why is it that you're so damn irreplaceable?"