He was almost two hundred pounds of pure muscle and bad temper, he healed from injuries and illnesses so quickly that sometimes he didn't have time to feel the pain, and he had never ever lost a fight that counted unless he was literally dragged from it. But a scratch from a little harmless plant was now killing him, and it wasn't being gentle about it.
"Not good," he muttered to himself, and staggered as he walked through plants that he had never seen before, although that could have been because his vision was tunneling in at the edges and what he could see was blurred and doubled. The sounds around him alternated without warning from harsh and intense to distant and muffled, with his own heart pounding a hectic backbeat. His sense of smell was telling him all sorts of messed up things that had to be hallucination: the smell of pine was in his nostrils, even though these huge trees around him were smooth to the touch and had leaves as big as his massive hands. The tang of metal and concrete that "the Den" always smelled of mixed in there as well. Worst of all was the light scent of Jane's hair, which almost always drove him crazy with longing.
And the one smell that really bugged him ... the scent of something that seemed to be just above him, to his left, that he had never smelled before in his life.
And it was following him.
" 'Course that could just be the mickey that bush slipped you, bub," he murmured to himself - and it seemed like a distant part of him was a bit surprised at how slurred his voice sounded, but wasn't really sure what to do about it. The world around him suddenly decided to lurch to the left and tilt a bit, and not wanting to argue whether it was imagination or if he was really about to fall over on his side, he grabbed onto one of the many smooth-limbed trees around him. He leaned his forehead against the tree, his brow - his whole body - was filmed with a sheen of sweat that could have been from the illness that his body was desperately trying to fight, or just the godawful humidity of the rainforest.
"Rainforest," he said quietly into the crook of his arm, his battered cowboy hat tilted back on his brow. "What am I doing here, anyway?"
This suddenly seemed a more important question than whether or not he was going to die there. He was following someone, someone who was one of the many on his "Needs to Die Very Slowly" list. Scott the Supreme Pumbah Leader didn't like that list so much, and he would have liked it less if he knew just how many people were on it - but who had it been? An image flashed into his brain ... a huge man with sharp canine teeth and eyes that didn't quite look sane, and the hate surged up in him as strong as always, though the name did not. No big deal; the rush of anger he felt gave him strength to finally let go of the tree and start his dull plodding again.
He was following that creep for some reason, and this time he was not going back to the Den until what was done was done. One of them was gonna die, and he really didn't care which. So he had touched down in the rainforest (why had he come to Brazil?) and began to sniff the jerk out. And that little plant thing at the bottom of a tree ... kinda pretty looking as plants go, with fragrant lavender blossoms. It looked pretty, yeah, but underneath the leaves had been spikes the size of sewing needles. Just a scratch, nothing more ... he had cursed and sucked at the blood that welled from it, and thought nothing about it, until his vision started going, and his balance soon after.
"Was kinda funny at first," he told the humid air around him. "With this immune system, it isn't like I've ever been stoned before."
Yeah, funny for about a half-hour, and then the shakes began, and the sweats, and he realized that what should have been funny - and, due to his immune system and advanced healing properties, also should have been over - was actually getting worse. After an hour, he forgot where his plane was; an hour more, he forgot he had a plane. Only now he remembered, but by now he knew he was lost, and also knew that the little pretty plant was killing him.
"What a way to go," he growled, a small vestige of his snarling self shining through. "I am NOT gonna be whipped by a weed."
So he walked, though what good that would do in the thousands of acres of rainforest, he didn't know, but it was what he was doing. He didn't care if the world decided to go completely upside-down and his heart started playing the rumba in his chest, he was not gonna lie down.
"Bury me standing," he told the monkeys screaming high in the canopy over head - and whatever it was that was following him. "Bury me standing, ‘cause I will NEVER lie down."
He was proved mistaken in a few seconds, when his feet tripped up over something in the mass of leaves beneath him (or tripped on your own two feet, twinkle-toes) and down he went, growls and all, and he wasn't sure he was getting up.
"And there is that smell again," he murmured matter-of-factly into the damp mould of leaves beneath his fever-reddened cheek.
His sense of smell was like a dog's; it created colors and images in his head, a whorl of color in ways that he couldn't describe to anyone without them experiencing it. Jane had tried it once, getting into his brain and reading his thoughts and emotions, and it had blown her mind. It had been nice to share ... too nice, really. But there was that scent, closer this time, clearing his head a little bit and making him think of the most beautiful green he could imagine, flecked with gold. It smelled as fresh and clean as only unpolluted rain and soil can. It was golden light on a stream known only to jaguars and tapirs; it was a cool rain dripping down on the leaves of plants that had no name in botany books, and it was old.
"I knew age had a smell, but not like that," he said, his voice faint in his ears, which didn't seem right, but his heart was beating too loud for him to hear, he guessed. One eye looked to his right as his other was closed against the dead leaves beneath him, and for a moment he saw a hand touch down beside his head, gently, as if it didn't want to startle him. No big deal; he couldn't move anyway, or that hand would have been missing a lot more fingers.
"Hey," he said - or thought he said. "How many fingers are you holding up?"
There was no reply, or at least he didn't hear one, but that was well enough. He was out.
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