Walls - Chapter 8
Stepping out of Zac's room into the bright hallway, Isaac blinked a few times, adjusting to the white lights. Slowly he made his way down the narrow passage way, towards Taylor's room. He dragged his feet and stopped every so often to glance at one of the many clipboards that hung on the outside of patient's doors. He didn't much care what they said, he was simply stalling. As he paused yet again he heard a voice behind him.
"Those are private you know. Doctors and nurses only."
Isaac quickly spun around and found himself looking into the stern face of a RN. "Oh, ummm, I wasn't reading them. I was just..." He trailed off when he realized she wasn't buying his story. "Sorry," he muttered, and began walking again. As he approached room 119, he paused outside the door for a moment. Isaac certainly didn't want to go into Taylor's room, but Zac had begged him to get his mother and he hadn't been able to resist that pleading look in his brother's eyes. When he heard talking from within the closed door, he cocked his head, hoping to hear what was being said. His mother was talking, softly. So softly in fact he couldn't make out any words. They all ran together, making almost a sweet humming sound. Isaac closed his eyes and just listened. It was then he realized that his mother was singing to Taylor. So quiet, so sweet, the sound that it pulled at Isaac's heart and for a minute he just stood, swaying in the hallway. His peace was broken by another sound from within the room... Taylor. Isaac shook his head, and all feelings that his mother's singing had given him vanished. He hesitantly opened the door to Taylor's room, and stepped inside. He felt a chill run down his spine and it caused his body to give a slight jolt. The room wasn't cold, it was in fact a little stuffy, but Isaac's teeth began to chatter and he had to clench his jaw to stop them. Crossing his arms, he stood silent, watching his mother holding Taylor, stroking his hair, and humming to him softly. Diana hadn't noticed her oldest son standing in the doorway until he cleared his throat.
"Oh, Ike, I didn't realize you were there." Her words came out hushed, she didn't want to wake Taylor.
"I only came in a minute ago," Isaac whispered.
"Okay, I guess. He's crying again. Can't seem to stop. He asked me to come get you. He's so worn out. I don't know what to do for him." Isaac shook his head and dropped his gaze to the floor, memorizing the stark tiles.
Diana just closed her eyes wearily and nodded. She gently released Taylor and stood, walking slowly towards the door. On her way she stopped and briefly placed her hand on Isaac's arm and squeezing it gently whispered, "Thank you Isaac," before she left, shutting the door behind her.
Taylor moaned in his sleep and Isaac glanced up, watching as his brother moved restlessly. He could see that even in sleep, Taylor was miserable. Isaac closed his eyes, and tried to block out the sounds of pain coming from his brother's bed. Something inside him desperately wanted to hate Taylor, wanted Taylor to be miserable, wanted Taylor to suffer for what he had done to them, to Zac. But something else, something that reached far deeper than the hatred that was blinding him, pleaded with God for Taylor.
Taking a deep breath, Isaac turned to leave. He was afraid that if he stayed any longer, saw or heard anymore pain, he would lose his anger, and he wasn't prepared to let it go that easily. he didn't realize that the anger was the only thing holding him together. he just knew he wasn't ready yet to let it go... As he stepped outside, he heard a weak voice calling for him.
Just the sound of Taylor's voice cut through the sympathy that had been welling deep down, tearing it to shreds, and hatred consumed him once again.
"What do you want?" He spat back at his brother.
Isaac turned and glared at Taylor from the hall.
"I... can we..." Taylor trailed off. He couldn't finish his sentence. Tears were threatening again and he didn't want to cry. Not with Ike.
Isaac stood there, watching him, deciding. He didn't really want to talk to him, but still...
"You have five minutes," Isaac informed his brother. He stood, arms folded, across the room from Taylor's bed. There was nothing even remotely encouraging about his expression. His face said "Yeah, talk. Just talk, and hurry up".
Taylor looked at that face, and his heart sank. More than anything he wanted Ike to come over and sit with him, and talk it out, the way he always did. As long as he could remember, Ike had been the one he went to when things were bad. Things now were as bad as they could get, and he needed Isaac. Seeing how cold Isaac looked now scared him. He didn't even need to talk, he decided, if Isaac would just come over and sit with him...
"You're times running out, pal, use it or lose it." Isaac was tapping a foot now, obviously impatient to go.
"I just wanted to tell you that," Taylor paused, again wanting to regain control before he continued. "That I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen. I love Zac and I would never hurt him... I..."
Isaac waved him away, sneering.
"Taylor that is such bullshit I can't even believe I'm listening to it," Isaac shook his head and started for the door.
"IT'S NOT BULLSHIT!" Taylor shouted. He lost his fight and the tears came again. This time he didn't care. "LET ME TALK TO YOU!"
Isaac stopped, a bit surprised and more than a bit put out by his brother's outburst. "What could you possibly say to me to change what you've done? Nothing. That's what. You can say you're sorry a million times, but that doesn't change anything." Isaac walked a few paces, his back towards the bed. "You know something," he turned and once again faced Taylor. "You are always getting yourself into messes, and I'm always the one to bail you out. You push it to the limit then come running to me for help. Well not this time. No way. You're on you're own. I'm sick of this Taylor. I'm so tired of fighting and arguing and begging and you don't change. I... I just can't do it anymore, you know? I just can't. And you can just shut of the waterworks, Tay, 'cause I'm not buying it. Cry your head off, it's just a lie anyway. Everything about you is a lie. I don't even know you!" Isaac had advanced on the bed, his voice rising with every word, until he was nearly screaming in his brothers face. Taylor reached up quickly and took his brothers arm. Ike tried to yank away, but Taylor held him too tightly."Ike I need you to help me! Please?!" Isaac's reaction was entirely knee jerk, he never even thought about it. He grabbed Taylor's shoulders with both hands, and shook him, hard. "I tried to help you!" he shouted, " I tried and tried, and you wouldn't let me! Why now Taylor?! Why now when it's too late?!" He shoved him back onto the bed, and sank down onto a chair. As quickly and violently as it had come, the fury drained out of him, leaving him empty and weak."Why now, Tay? Just because you feel bad? What about when you're better, what then?" He leaned forward, "What's to stop you from just doing it all again?! How do we ever trust you? Don't you realize what you did?!" He was rubbing his head absently, there was a pain starting just above his eye... "Taylor, did you get a good look at him? Did you? How could you have done that? He trusts you! He loves you! He'd have never thought you could do that to him, do you realize what you've done to him? It goes way beyond the bruises..."
Taylor just looked at him, words wouldn't come, no matter how hard he tried. It was just as well, because Isaac couldn't stop, and any response from Taylor would have gone unheard."
"He doesn't sleep you know, because he dreams about it. Stop and think for a minute how he must feel! And me! All this time you pushed me away, and refused to let me near you, you wouldn't let me help, you acted like you hated me, and you put up all these walls around you... I knew something was wrong, I thought I knew what it was, but I didn't dare say anything, in case I was wrong, I'd hear you coughing and throwing up and I'd see how you looked and acted, and I knew... but what could I do? I couldn't prove it. And poor Zac, he just wanted you back so bad..." He stopped for a moment, the niggling pain had suddenly sharpened, and sunk in. He dropped his head into his hand, rubbing fiercely above his eye. "And on top of that, Tay, you nearly died!! First you about killed Zac, who only ever trusted you! And then you tried to kill yourself!" His voice broke then, and he had to struggle to stay calm."Do you think I could live a minute if I lost you?! Either of you?! Do you?!"
Taylor finally found his voice, and when Ike paused, he nodded, and interjected "Now? Yeah. I do. Because you hate me. And I don't blame you." His voice was dull, empty sounding. He sighed deeply, looking at his brother. He'd really hurt him. All of them. He hadn't meant it, but did that mean it was something they could forgive him for? He started to say something about it to Ike, but stopped short, noticing how hard Ike was pressing his thumb against his eye. The wave of self pity that had begun to swell, receded suddenly, replaced with concern. He very gently took Isaac's hand. "Ike, are you okay?" His voice was soft, and the worry in it, the caring in it, finally broke the last wall of defense Isaac was hiding behind. It had been so long since Taylor had acted like he cared about anything... He looked up at him, and tried to answer. "I'm okay, I have a headache started, it's..." His voice failed him then, and suddenly he was crying, helpless to stop, and too undone to care.
Taylor stared. Ike didn't cry. He watched him for a moment, thinking. He'd wanted Ike to tell him it was okay. That he didn't hate him. That he was forgiven. He'd WANTED. He hadn't really cared. He had needed to hear the words. He'd been so busy feeling hurt that everyone hated him... He'd seen Zac's tears, and his fear, and had felt himself die inside... for him. Not for Zac. Just for him. All he'd felt was his own misery, and his own guilt. Now, looking at Isaac's silent tears, he felt that selfishness dissolve. This was Ike, and Ike never cried, not in front of people, and maybe not ever anywhere. He felt a huge ache inside him, knowing that he'd caused this pain, but this time the ache was for Isaac, not for himself. He watched his brother for a minute or two, debating. He wasn't sure Ike would accept being touched. He chewed his lip, wondering if he'd be helping or hurting. Isaac decided him. He looked up and their eyes met. Tears streaming down his face, nearly unable to speak, he choked out, "Tay, what're we gonna do? I just don't know what to do..." His voice trailed off, he was crying harder now. Taylor reached over, took his hand, pulled gently, and Isaac slid over to sit on the bed with him... Taylor hesitated a fraction of a second, he'd never been around Ike when he was like this, but the hesitation was fleeting. He put his arms around the older boy, pulling him close... Isaac never even thought about pulling away, he needed this. He simply laid his head on Taylor's shoulder. He didn't say anything, and he didn't bother to try to stop the tears. He couldn't. He let himself cry, and he let his brother hold him. Whatever came next, well, that was later.
Ike felt himself drifting, and sat up quickly. He didn't want to fall asleep like this. He pulled himself gently out of Taylor's embrace. Tay let him go instantly. He was too unsure of all this to push anything. Ike's flood of tears had let up a little while ago, but he'd stayed where he was, and Taylor had thought maybe he'd fallen asleep. He smiled a little, usually this was the other way around, and it was Isaac trying to sooth him. A look at his brother wiped the smile away though, Isaac looked terrible. His face was white and pinched and he was digging that thumb into his eye again. He reached for his hand, "Ike, what is it? " Isaac shook his head, "Nothing, just a headache. I think I have to go." He started to stand up, but Taylor pulled him back down."Please don't, Ike... Why do you have to go?" Isaac swallowed, hard, and waved Taylor's hand off him, "S'not you, this headaches fixing to make me sick, I really better go"
Taylor nodded, he'd been through these headaches with Isaac before."Go where? Back to Zac's room?" Isaac looked at him and smiled slightly, "Good point. But if I stay you're gonna have to put up with listening to me throw up, you don't need that. God, I wish I could lie down somewhere."
Taylor pointed to the empty bed next to his,"I don't care what I have to hear, Ike, and I don't have anyone sharing the room, just lie down there". Ike raised his eyebrows. "Oh no, you never sit on our touch one of their unused beds, no way, they have like, six fits 'cause they have to like, sterilize it all over again." His face registered what he thought of that little rule. Taylor didn't care. He knew how these things went and he knew that if his brother could lie down and sleep maybe he'd be able to head off the worst of it. He sat back, arms crossed, and thought about it. "Ike, can you get mom to take you back to the hotel?" Ike nodded, but made a face, "Riding won't be my friend, though Tay, really. You know what? If they don't like it, they can just fuck off." Taylor laughed, a little shocked at the swear. Ike didn't usually talk like that. He nodded approval, as Isaac stretched out on the other bed. He didn't think he'd be there for long, his face had taken on a decidedly greenish tinge, but at least he had someplace to rest for now. Taylor watched him for a little, knowing that if it got really bad, Isaac would disappear into it and not be able to function at all. "Hey Ike..." he got no answer and repeated himself a bit louder, "Hey! Ike!" Isaac cracked open an eye. "What." "Did you take something for that? Before it kicks your butt?" Ike shook his head, "Don't have anything here." "Well it's a hospital, for God sake, ask for something!" Isaac laughed, "It doesn't work that way, Tay, don't worry. It'll go away." He turned onto his side, so he could see Taylor."It's nice to hear you sounding like you again. I'm really sorry about all this." Taylor snorted, "Yeah, sure, what have you got to be sorry for?" Isaac's face went serious. "Tay, I kinda knew what was going on, I should've said something to someone. I was so worried about getting you into trouble if I was wrong... I guess it's kind of my fault." Taylor was out of bed in a flash, and in his brothers face. He took him by the arms, hard, and only barely managed not to just shake him. "Don't you ever say that! Not ever! You had nothing to do with this! This was me! All me! Ike, I swear by all that's...."
Isaac cut him off. "Tay, let go." His voice was quiet and the very softness stopped Taylor's ranting. "I know what you're saying, but you're my brother, and it's up to me to look out for you. You won't change how I feel, so don't try. But I'm glad you said it. Now go back to bed, you don't look good." Taylor's eyebrows went up at that. "I don't look good? You should see yourself. But you're right, I'm goin'" He climbed back into bed, and settled himself in. He felt better than he had in a long time.
Taylor had started to doze, when he heard Ike get up. Wondering if he was leaving, he opened his eyes, relieved to see he was only going in the bathroom. His relief became worry when he heard Isaac throwing up. He sighed. It went with the migraine, he knew that, but he also knew how much Ike hated it. He glanced up at the IV tubing snaked into his hand, and made a face. It would be a real pain to get up. He'd wait, and see if Ike came out soon. If he didn't, he supposed he could find a way to untangle himself and go help him out. He waited, watching the clock. The sounds of sickness he was hearing began to be shot through with mumbles. Isaac was talking to himself, and he didn't sound happy. Taylor sighed, and began unsnarling the tubing.
Isaac never heard Taylor come in. He had all he could do to hold himself up, and was grateful when a supporting arm was suddenly around him. He let himself relax a little, but it didn't help much. The pain in his eyes was beginning to wipe out the world. He'd stopped noticing the nausea some time ago. On some level he knew he was throwing up, but he really didn't care. He hurt too much to care. He heard Tay speaking to him, but he didn't understand anything he said. It was all a meaningless blur.
Taylor saw how out of it Ike was almost at once. He was right in the middle of the thing.
He knew his brother probably was to far gone to answer, but he gave it a try, "Ike! Ike, look at me now! C'mon, I just need to know what you want me to do." Isaac mumbled something unintelligible, dug a hand into his eye, and started gagging again. Taylor sighed. This was bad. He climbed to his feet, finding he had to hold on to the sink to do it, and raised his voice somewhat."I'm goin' to get mom. Ike! I'm goin' to get mom, okay?!" Again a faint mumble. Tay shook his head, worry etched into his face, and started down the hall to find his mother.