Walls - Chapter 3
Isaac walked back down the hall, toward Zachary's room. His head was spinning. He loved his brother. He and Taylor had always been so close. but now he couldn't stand the sight of him. It hurt, and it hurt a lot, to feel that way about Tay... as he fell into a chair near Zachary's bed, he let his thoughts wander...
One week previous
Isaac was losing patience. He banged on Taylor's door, loudly, and raised his voice, "Taylor!!! Come on!!! For God sake, let me in!!!"
Getting no response, yet again, he rolled his eyes heavenward, and kicked the door in disgust. He was sick of this. A week ago Taylor had asked for, insisted on, his own room. He'd been turned down of course, the three of them had always shared a room and there was no reason to stop now. He'd argued his case for an entire day, claiming his nerves just couldn't take the commotion, that he was having trouble sleeping, and didn't want to keep everyone awake all night with him. He'd pointed out that he was frequently sick, and that it disturbed everyone. He'd pestered and nattered, and irritated all day, and the response never varied.
"No Tay, you don't need your own room."
Finally he'd gone into hysterics, (in Ike's mind, carefully orchestrated hysterics, calculated to get him his own way) and they had relented. He was given a room connected to Ike and Zac's. The first move he'd made had been to lock the connecting door from his side. He'd more or less refused to let them in ever since.
Hurt that Tay would want to lock them out, Isaac and Zac withdrew into themselves, leaving Taylor to his seclusion. They talked about him a lot, but they drew no real conclusions. Ike knew something was up, and he had his suspicions about what it was, but he really didn't want to involve Zac, so he kept his worries to himself. He considered talking to his dad, but the thought, the hope, that he might be wrong, kept him silent. He didn't want to cause Tay any trouble he didn't need.
He sighed deeply, now, knowing his brother wasn't going to let him in. They'd fought the night before, and Taylor was still mad at him, he knew it. He gave the door one last kick, and walked dejectedly back into his own room. Zac wasn't there either, he'd gone out earlier and wasn't back yet. Ike flopped down onto the bed, utterly miserable. He thought back to the fight he'd had with Tay, wondering how he could have handled it differently. It had all started innocently enough.
Ike had noticed the connecting door between his and Taylor's room was open slightly. Surprised that it wasn't locked, and then sealed shut for all time, he pushed it open gently. His eyes lit on Taylor, sprawled out on the bed, sound asleep. Shaking his head at the amount of time his brother spent sleeping, and the weird times he chose to do it, he let himself in, and crept closer to the bed. He was just reaching out to shake him awake, when Taylor's eyes flew open and he bolted upright, grabbing Ike's wrist.
"What're you doing in here?!" he growled, open hostility evident in his voice. "What do you want?!"
The grip on Ike's wrist was painful, and he tried to pull his arm away, unsuccessfully. He glanced at Taylor, and for the first time in his life, felt fear when he looked into those eyes.
Taylor barely appeared to recognize him, and Isaac had never seen such anger. He shrugged helplessly, still attempting to pull away.
"I don't now" he stumbled over the words. "Your door was open, I wanted to check on you..." He shook his head, stumbling over his words. "I figured it was okay to come in, 'cause you unlocked the door..."
Taylor sneered at him, "I can't even sleep without locking myself in?! What is it with you people!" He flung Isaac's hand away from him, and stood up, advancing on Ike, who found himself backing up in spite of himself. Taylor reached out and poked his index finger, none too gently, into Ike's chest.
"This is my room! This is my bed! This is my space! You stay out of it unless you're invited." He was backing his older brother toward the door, intending to shove him out and lock it behind him, when something in Isaac finally snapped. He'd had enough. Weeks of Taylor being erratic, and uncontrollable, refusing to have anything to do with any of them, and shutting him and Zachary out. Added to that all the weird physical stuff, sleeping during the day, even dozing off during interviews, pacing all night, and throwing up at least once a day. It was baffling. Taylor was withdrawn, and zombie-like more often than not, and yet there were times when he was bouncing off the walls. Isaac new something was wrong, and worried as he was, he'd just had enough. He stopped backing up and grabbed his brother's wrists, hard, and pulled him close to him.
"Look," his voice was not loud, but there was no denying his fury "I have no idea what your problem is, but you are not gonna be like this to me. I haven't done a damn thing. What is it you're so worried about me finding, huh?"
Taylor gazed up at Ike, and to Isaac's amazement, his eyes began to fill up.
"I'm sorry, Ike, okay? I really am I just don't feel good right now..."
Ike nodded curtly. "I'm supposed to believe that?"
Taylor shrugged, and then nodded his head.
Ike gestured to the bed, "Go sit down, I have to talk to you."
Taylor was scared. He was in no way comfortable about the way his brother was looking at him. He knew he shouldn't have jumped on him the way he had, but he hadn't been able to help it. Come to think of it, there were a lot of things lately that he hadn't been able to help. He sat down, reluctantly, struggling to keep the anger and defensiveness he could feel rising in him from surfacing.
Ike looked at his younger brother, wishing he could believe the tears he saw in his eyes, but deep inside he knew better. Taylor was trying to manipulate him, and he knew it. He sat down next to him, determined to keep himself calm. He didn't want Tay to think he was being attacked. He took his brother by the shoulder, and gently turned him a little, to face him. Pushing away anger, he kept his voice quiet.
"I want you to tell me what's going on, Tay. Something's really wrong."
Taylor shook his head, and shook off his brother's hand.
"Nothing's wrong. I don't understand why you all think something's wrong."
Ike laughed, but there was little humor in it.
"You don't? Tay, stop and think about it."
Tay wouldn't look him in the eye.
"I have been. I really don't know what the problem is."
"Well for one..." and at this, Isaac's eyes darkened, and the gentle tone he'd been keeping became a little sharper "You're stealing my medication. Don't even try to deny it, I never even take the stuff, and it's disappearing right on schedule. four a day, every day. And I know mom's been giving you yours. So I know you're taking way too much of that stuff and lying about it for starters." "Really."
Isaac saw Taylor's body tensing, and knew this wasn't going to go well. Still, Tay wasn't the only one who could dig in his heels. He continued on, figuring he really didn't have much to lose.
"You're also hanging around down with Mike, even though I know mom told you not to and when you come back from there your all spacey and stupid, and you're eyes are all red, and nine times outta ten you just pass right out. I'm not dumb, Tay, I know you're over there gettin' high, just 'cause I don't do it, doesn't mean I don't know it when I see it. By the way, turning on the bathroom fan doesn't help, we can still smell it. THAT is why you asked for you're own room too, isn't it? Not 'cause of your nerves, 'cause you wanted to smoke your dope in peace."
Isaac desperately wanted to stop this flood of words and accusations that was pouring out of him, but for the life of him, he just couldn't, he'd been holding it in too long. This was his brother, and Ike couldn't watch him going down this road any longer.
"You never let us in anymore, you've completely shut us out. we can't talk to you, you just brush us off, you barely even say hello, anymore. You've never locked me and Zac out of a room in your life! We hear you in here, coughing your head off, and getting sick, and we can't even get in to help you, or see if you're okay!! You pretend we don't exist! "
He was almost shouting now, and stopped, taking a deep breath to try to bring himself back down. He didn't want Taylor to... well he didn't know what he didn't want Taylor to do, but he felt like he was walking on glass with him. One wrong move and he'd break.
Taylor was staring at him, eyes wide. For a few moments, more than anything in the world, he wanted to tell him what was going on. He felt horribly out of control of the whole situation, and couldn't really find a way to fix it. Ike already knew some of it anyway... but no. If he told Ike, Ike would tell his parents, and then God alone knew what would happen. He sighed, wondering how he'd gotten himself into this.
Isaac had managed to calm himself down somewhat, but he was having trouble. Part of him just wanted to take the kid and shake him, just scream in his face, "What is wrong with you?! Don't you see what you're doing to yourself?! And us?! Don't you even care?!" He held himself back, knowing that it wouldn't do any good, and that Taylor, in fact, probably didn't care. Probably couldn't care.
He sighed bitterly, and took his brother by the shoulders again, not as gently this time, forced him to make eye contact, and held him there.
"Taylor, you have to tell me what's going on and it has to stop, 'cause we can't keep going this way. You're coming apart Tay, and you're taking us with you."
For a second, he thought he'd gotten through. Taylor was staring directly into his eyes, and Isaac could see the fear, and confusion, and how badly he wanted to tell someone. But the moment passed, and the pleading look was replaced by one of anger. It came so swiftly, and so forcefully that Isaac never had a chance to back off. Taylor's hand came up and hit him in the head, hard enough to knock him onto the floor. He looked up at his brother, head spinning, and managed to scramble out of the way barely in time to avoid getting stomped in the stomach. Seeing Taylor was out for blood, and out of control, he quickly jumped to his feet, and backed away.
They stood there, each eyeing the other. Isaac knew, just looking at his brother, that if he let him get hold of him, he was going to get hurt. Taylor looked insane, his eyes were flashing, and he was breathing hard, and Ike could see him trembling all over. In the silence that had suddenly sprung up, he could hear little growling sounds coming from Taylor. He watched him warily, afraid to move, or speak.
The kid looked fully capable of murder. Whatever he was doing that was making him act like this, it was way beyond a little grass, Ike realized. Knowing that Tay was more than likely completely irrational, Ike started backing slowly toward the door. He didn't want this to happen. He had nearly made it when Taylor suddenly screamed at him, inarticulate and outraged, and launched himself at Isaac.
Taylor's charge, and the force of his body hitting Ike's, drove Ike into the wall. He grabbed his brother by the shirt and the hair, and spun him around, slamming him into the same wall. It took nearly no effort to hold him there, he was painfully thin, and seemed to weigh nothing at all. Ike was horrified, but furious. He kept him pinned there, his leg against Taylor's, his hand pushing his chest, the other hand gripping the hair on the back of his head. He was so mad he was shaking.
"Don't you ever, ever do that to me again, do you understand me?!" He was screaming into Taylor's face. "I don't care what you think your problem is, you never, EVER try that again! 'Cause I will fuck you up!!!" He was puntuating his screams by shoving his brother harder into the wall.
Taylor didn't react, just looked at him numbly. All the anger had drained out of him in an instant, and he just didn't care. Isaac, seeing his brother's dull, detached look, was suddenly overcome by revulsion. He let him go quickly, skin crawling at the thought even of touching him, and stepped back.
"Y'know what Taylor? I don't care. Do what you want. Kill yourself. I don't care. I don't know you."
He gave the smaller boy a shove, and somewhere inside, realized he'd knocked him down, but he didn't care. He had to get out of there before he got sick. He slammed out of the door, leaving Taylor dazed and defeated, sitting against the wall.
Diana sat watching Taylor sleep. Unable to get comfortable after nearly two days sitting in these chairs, by each of her childrens' beds, she'd finally opted for propping her feet up on his bed. She knew she'd be asked to take them down if one of these battleaxe nurses happened along, but she didn't much care. She'd about hit her limit, and was ready to just crawl in with him and go to sleep.
She watched him thoughtfully, wondering what his dreams were. She hadn't spoken to him since the night they'd come in. Every time she came in here, he was asleep. They'd told her he was fine, but she doubted it. People who are fine, in her opinion, didn't deliberately overdose. Her thoughts turned sarcastic...
"Must have been all the brightness and joy he couldn't take..."
She sighed. she knew why he'd tried it... he'd hurt Zac, and he couldn't live with that. She hoped that once his system had cleared, he'd be able to see that it wasn't really him that had hurt Zac, that he'd been out of control... still, she wanted him to take responsibility for it. No matter the circumstances, it just wasn't okay, and it wouldn't be. Zac was afraid of him now, and she didn't know how she could fix that. She'd been told not to try, that it wasn't her problem, but these were her kids, and as far as she was concerned, undoing this thing was nobody's problem BUT hers.
She was comforted somewhat by the fact that both of the boys had reportedly asked about the other, and had expressed concern... but neither of them had asked to see the other, and there was a debate now as to whether it would be allowed, if one of them should. She also had Isaac to deal with, who'd been alternating between despair over Taylor's condition, and murderous anger over what he'd done.
Sighing, she pulled her thoughts back to now. Taylor was asleep, and evidentially comfortable. She'd better go back to the ones who were awake and more apt to need her there. She kicked him a little, by accident, taking her feet down, and waited to see if he would wake up, but he turned over and continued to sleep. She brushed some hair out of his eyes, and kissed his cheek. Whatever he had done, she was sticking with him. She watched him a moment more, and then left to go deal with the others. She was nearly out the door when she remembered the note she had for him. She pulled it out of her pocket, eyed it dubiously, and thought about throwing it away. Still, she'd given her word that she'd deliver it. She laid it on his pillow and left the room.
Present day - Taylor
He didn't realize he'd fallen asleep until he suddenly found himself awake again. When his eyes opened, they lit on a note lying on his pillow. He picked it up, struggling to focus his eyes...
"Tay, just to let you know, I told them that it wasn't in any way your fault. It was all mine, and I thought you should know that too... There's really no chance I'll ever be allowed near you again so I won't see you later. I'm so sorry, if I'd known how this was going to turn out, none of it would have ever happened.
Take care, Mike"
Taylor lay back against the pillow, thinking. He wished he could stop thinking...
How was it Mike's fault? Mike hadn't made him do any of it.
He thought back, remembering the day it had all started to go out of control, he'd gone over and lit up as usual...
Five weeks previous
Forty minutes later, Taylor was feeling mighty fine. His head buzzed pleasantly, and the world had taken on a dreamy quality. He sat on the couch, half watching, half sleeping as Melrose Place played out it's saga on the TV screen.
He found he was unable to follow the timeline of the show. Things seemed to be happening in isolated jumps, but he didn't really mind... He was too sleepy to care.
Mike was in the kitchenette, preparing himself a snack. A sudden rapping on the door, caused Mike to slightly jump. He glanced nervously at the mess on the table in front of the couch, and then shifted his gaze to Taylor, who was seemed to be dozing off.
"Hey, wake up. Company", he called over.
Taylor looked up, confused. "What? Huh? Oh... you want me to leave?"
Mike shook his head, and headed for the door.
"No, you're fine."
"Oh, okay," Taylor let his head fall back against the couch again...
"Just put that stuff up, would ya?" Mike pointed to the small, red, Coca-Cola tray that sat on the table. "Just stick it under the couch."
Taylor grunted, leaned forward, grabbing the small tray that held a baggy, lighter, and rolling papers, and shoved it under the couch. He then resumed his original position.
Mike reached the door, which by now was being pounded on, and opened it.
"Hey guys, what' s up?"
"Hey Mike!" A tall guy about twenty, stepped into the room. He glanced around. "Nice pad they hooked you up with, huh?"
"Yeah, it's pretty cool. Jake, this is Taylor", he pointed towards the kid on the sofa. "Tay!" Taylor looked over. "Tay, this is a friend of mine, Jake."
Taylor nodded and resumed watching Heather Locklear.
"He's cool?" Jake asked, giving Taylor the once over.
"He's cool. Hey! Dara!"
A beautiful girl of about nineteen, bounced into the room, her long, curly, light brown hair, bouncing along with her.
"Mike!" She grabbed him in a hug, and tapped his back with the six pack she held in her hands. "You mind?"
"Nah, not at all. Frig is over there." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder indicating the small refrigerator in the kitchenette.
Dara quickly deposited the beer into the sparsely filled frig and walked back into the main room. She took her first notice of Taylor, sitting half in, half out of consciousness, on the sofa and went over to him. She stood in front of the TV, blocking his view.
"Hi there!", she said in an especially cheerful tone.
Taylor glanced up at her through half opened eyes.
"Hi", was all he said.
She stared at him a moment, her golden colored eyes drinking him in.
"Well hi Taylor."
Taylor just sat, debating whether it was worth trying to get his mouth to form the words "You are standing in front of Heather Locklear", decided it wasn't worth it, and just stared blankly at her.
Dara got the hint, and went back into the kitchen where Mike had resumed making his salami sandwich.
"Hey, who's your friend?" She looked back over at Taylor.
"What?" Mike smiled, and shook his head a little "Oh, him... that's Taylor."
"That doesn't tell me too much," she laughed. "He already told me his name." She seemed to be having trouble taking her eyes off of him.
"He's a little young for you Dara," Mike joked, noticing her interest.
"Mike!" She lightly slapped his arm. "That you'd think I had ideas on him... but he's a little young to be hanging around with you too, isn't he? So who is he?"
Mike looked over at Taylor and sighed. He lowered his voice and said, "Tay's actually one of the people I'm working for."
"The kids your boss?" Dara snickered at the thought. "How old is he?"
"He's fourteen. You know, they sing. He's the singer."
"Yeah Dara, you've heard them... "MMMBop"?"
"Oh, that song. Oh yeah, it's cute. So what's he doing in here with you?"
"Well, they're running him pretty ragged, and he's stressing out, kind of. He comes and sees me to relax, if you catch my drift."
Dara stared at him with wide eyes. "Mike, you're getting the bosses kid stoned?"
"The kid is the boss, and he ain't gonna fire me, take my word for it."
Dara looked back at Taylor, who was struggling to keep his eyes open.
"Well look at this." Mike reached over and pulled a schedule that was taped to the refrigerator off and handed it to her. "This is what he does everyday."
Dara quickly scanned the packed schedule. "Wow," she breathed and handed the paper back to Mike, who returned it to the frig. "I'd about die. Poor kid. He's happy though?"
Mike sighed. "Not really, no. Too bad, he's a cool kid."
Dara smiled. "I'm gonna go talk to him."
"Cool," Mike looked over at Taylor again, who had lost the battle with his eyelids and now appeared to be asleep. "You might have to wake him up though," he laughed.
"God Mikey, what'd you do to him." She shook her head and headed over to the couch.
Dara sat next to him on the sofa. His head was leaning on the back, and his eyes were closed, and to her, he appeared to be dozing... She turned sideways, tucking one leg under her body, and leaned in, whispering into his ear, "Hey."
Taylor jumped a little, blinked twice, rapidly, then slowly focused his bloodshot, blue eyes on her.
"He..." He lightly cleared his throat. "Hey," he said again.
She smiled at him. "Tired, huh?"
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "A little bit, I guess."
He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands between his legs. He hoped she wasn't going to expect him to carry on anything like a conversation. He was finding it hard enough just to keep his eyes open. He stretched a little, wincing at the unexpected stiffness in his neck. He reached up to rub away the ache, but another pair of hands was suddenly there instead. He glanced at her, uneasy, but she smiled reassuringly and continued to kneed his neck, trying to relieve the built up tension that was evident.
His head dropped forward and he grunted, as she massaged his sore muscles harder.
"How's that feel?" She asked.
"Good, thanks," he relaxed into it, enjoying the attention. His bliss was disturbed by a good natured voice, and a tap on the shoulder. He opened his eyes and saw a beer bottle inches from his face. Mike's friend Jake, with an amiable smile, shook it lightly at him, "Want this, man?"
Before Taylor could begin to respond, Mike pressed a coke into his hand and lightly admonished Jake, "No man, he can't have that, he's taking medications and stuff. Won't mix." He winked at Taylor, who seemed baffled by the whole exchange. At this point, the beer, the coke, Mike and Jake, were secondary to the fact that he was getting a killer backrub by a beautiful girl. He was a little disappointed when she drew her hands away, and sat back.
He smiled at her a little, hoping she'd continue, but the look in her golden eyes was quizzical. He sat back, eyebrows raised, waiting. She looked him over, and crossed her arms.
"Well, you look pretty healthy to me, what are you on medication for?"
He shook his head, completely distracted by her eyes, her hair, her proximity.
"What?" Somewhere in his mind he realized he was sounding like an idiot, but he really didn't care. She smiled at him, and he felt a silly grin breaking over his face. Again the little voice of his mind nudged him 'you look like a dork' but he ignored it. As long as she kept smiling at him like that, his world felt fine.
She laughed, reached out and tucked some flyaway hair back behind his ear.
"Mike said you were taking medication. are you sick?"
He shook his head, "No, I'm fine," he couldn't stop staring at her eyes...
She sighed and tried again. "Well what is it you're taking?"
He looked away for a moment, trying to remember the name of the medication in his pocket. For the life of him, it just wouldn't come.
A minute or so later, the strain of trying to think began to give him a headache, and he laughed, reached into his pocket, and pulled out the bottle, handing it to her with a sheepish grin.
"I really don't even know. Ignore me."
His mellow mood began to fade and alarm set in, when he saw her opening the bottle. He reached out and grabbed her wrist.
"Hey, stop! What're you doing? Those are mine." The strain in his voice and the force of the hand gripping her wrist, brought her up short.
She looked up at him instantly, alarmed at the tone of his voice, and her eyed widened at the anger in his face. She hurriedly relinquished the bottle into his hand, and reached out to touch his shoulder, stroking gently, hoping to calm him down. Her voice became soft, and soothing, as she spoke.
"Taylor, honey, I'm not taking them. I know they're yours."
She moved the hand from his shoulder to his hair, still keeping the same stroking motion, watching his tension gradually slip away. When he seemed to be calm again, she quietly got up and whispered to him, "I'll be right back, you take it easy."
He nodded absently, having been so entranced by her hand in his hair, that he'd never noticed her slipping the tabs out of the bottle.
Taylor had started to doze again, by the time Dara returned.
Mike had attempted to engage him in conversation, but Taylor, feeling shaky and drained after his panic over Dara opening his med bottle, had downed two of the tabs with his coke, and was calmed to the point of unconsciousness.
Mike was watching him, concern etched into his face, when Dara plopped herself back down on the couch.
"What's up with the kid?" Her voice held little worry.
Mike shook his head. "I don't know, I came over and lit him up and he just kinda zoned out on me. I really don't want to have to explain why he's passed out here."
Dara nodded. "I'll fix him up fine, Mikey, no fear."
His eyes narrowed. "Oh no you don't, you aren't speeding him up. He'll sleep it off."
She laughed, "Mikey, I'm not gonna hurt him, and he'll liven up a lot quicker... now you go play with Jake and let me worry about Taylor." She playfully pushed him off the couch, "Go, go... don't worry."
He eyed her dubiously, but his need to wake the kid up, overrode his concerns and he reluctantly got up, pointing a finger in her face, "You be careful. I don't want anything to happen to him."
She giggled. "Go on Mikey, he's fine." She turned her attention to the sleeping boy on the couch and gave him a hard shake...
Taylor didn't know what was happening. There were voices washing over him everywhere, but nobody seemed to be saying anything. He wished they'd all go away and let him sleep, God, he was so tired.
He'd almost succeeded in tuning them out when someone grabbed his arm, none too gently, and gave a rough yank. He struggled to open his eyes, but only managed to get them halfway. He couldn't really focus, but he thought maybe it was Dara, the girl who had given him the backrub. Taylor desperately wanted to wake up for her, and maid a monumental effort and sat himself up.
Dara grabbed him as he started to fall off the couch, and laughed...
"Pretty out of it, my friend, but I think I have something that will fix you up fine."
He giggled at her, bleary eyed and off balance, and mumbled "No, it's okay, I'm fine."
She shook her head, "Not so very, I don't think, how do you feel?"
He opened his eyes comically wide, and nodded his head...
"Fine, I'm fine, I feel good..."
He tried to look sincere, and she had to laugh. He dropped his head into his hands, and she slid closer and began rubbing his back again.
"I've got something else that will make you feel good."
Taylor lifted his head and turned to look at her, a quizzical expression painted on his face.
"Really... what's that?"
His gaze drifted to her low cut tee shirt, his eyes roving her cleavage. Unbeknownst to himself, a smile played on his lips.
She laughed at him and lifted his chin with her fingers.
"Not that Romeo, I have something better."
She playfully pushed him back against the couch cushions, and held him there with one hand against his chest, while with her other hand she fished around in her pocket, finally pulling out a small foil wrapped packet. She smiled at him and moved her hand from his chest, replacing it with her shoulder, as she leaned back against him, effectively pinning him.
He laughed, and poked her arm, "I'm not going anywhere, believe it, you don't have to hold me here."
She smiled back at him, "Maybe I just want to." Her smile, and her words, sent a rush through him unlike anything he'd ever felt. He felt himself starting to be out of breath. Dara glanced at him, and her eyes glinted. She could see his excitement.
She turned slightly, leaned in close, and trapped his eyes with hers. His world was filled with lovely gold, and the rest of the room receded. She gently stroked the side of his face, and his hair, and then held up two small pink pills.
His eyes moved to the tablets, then back to her face. He felt dreamy and detached, his only focus her eyes, her scent, her voice... when she whispered to him to open his mouth, he never thought to question her. He simply obeyed, ready to do whatever she asked of him.