Walls - Chapter 6

Present day

Taylor was beginning to feel sick. He didn't want to think about this. He didn't want to watch it all happening again, his minds eye having missed no details. He could feel his breathing beginning to speed up, and recognized the panic that was setting in. A completely wild and irrational thought slammed itself over and over through his head, that he'd killed him. That the reason nobody had let him see Zac, or come in to tell him what was going on, was because he had died. He'd asked and asked about Zachary, and gotten only noncommittal answers. Why wouldn't they tell him? His mind played out the horror movie of memory over and over, and panic overtook thought. He had to know. He climbed out of bed, heedless of the IV line snaking into his hand. It came up short and he pulled it out absently, not noticing, or caring about the blood flowing from the wound. He nearly fell, trying to walk, but ignored the difficulty, holding on the the walls and furniture for balance. He stumbled out into the hall, and all but fell into the arms of the nurse who was coming in to check on him. He pulled away from her, his eyes frantic... "I want to see my brother, you have to let me see him!" He was very nearly screaming the words, and the sound of his voice brought Isaac from the room a few doors down. He stared, wordless, and their eyes connected. Taylor's words trailed off then, and his eyes narrowed. Ike. There. So that meant... nodding to himself, he headed for the room, shoving off the restraining hand of the nurse. Ike looked to her and nodded.

"Its okay, had to happen sometime..." He stopped Taylor in the doorway, none too gently. I'm gonna let you in, and you can see what you did. But don't you touch him. don't even go near him. Because I swear, Taylor, if you lay a finger on him, I will kill you. Kill you. I mean it." His voice was cold, and horribly devoid of emotion, and Taylor didn't doubt him for a second. His heart was breaking. He didn't need to see what he'd done, he already knew, but he had to see Zachary. He looked into Isaac's eyes, and his voice was a whisper "I won't hurt him, Ike. I won't touch him. I just need to see him.". Isaac nodded shortly, and stepped out of the way. Taylor stepped into the room, and got his first look at his brother, since they'd been brought in, two nights ago. Zac looked up at him, and the full memory of what had happened sliced into both of them at once...

Two nights previous

"What the hell are you doing?"

Zac looked up at his older brother, never even noticing the menace in his voice... He saw two Taylor's and he became worried. "Tay?" He squinted, and tried to focus. The two Taylor's blurred together, and for one instant he saw his brother, staring at him, a frown on his face, before his eyes divided his Taylor again. He was getting scared. "Tay?" he again pitifully whimpered. The lights in the room swirled, and they appeared to vanish in a smoky haze. The room felt like it was getting smaller and Zac suddenly was having trouble breathing. His breath came out in rasps, and he gasped, trying to get air in his lungs. The only thing that kept him from panic was the thought that Taylor was here. Taylor was here. Taylor would help him.

"Why are you in my stuff??" Taylor didn't have time to play name games with his brother. He was seriously pissed. How dare Zac even think of coming into this room, let alone take his stuff. On top of that, he had Dara waiting in the other room. He was feeling antsy again and wanted to get back to her, but right now he was more concerned with teaching Zac a lesson. He never even noticed the younger boy's distress. His biggest concern was finding out how much of his stuff Zac had taken, so he could get more. That and the horrible fear that he'd be found out. Somewhere inside him he could almost hear a voice, "He'll tell. You have to stop him, he'll tell.".

Zac shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs. The room seemed to be spinning now, spinning out of control and Zac had to grab the wall for support. The TV was still on in the other room and it made a hollow echoing sound that invaded his mind, and he was afraid that maybe he was hearing voices as the noise filled his head. Where was Tay, where had he gone? What was happening to him?

Taylor was getting more upset by the second. He clenched and unclenched his fists, curling his fingers into tight balls. "How could you do this? How?" He stood there hating Zac more with every passing moment. He was ruining everything. His anger finally boiled over, completely out of his control...

"Tay, I..." Zac tried to form words, but everything was a jumble in his head. He was so scared. He wanted Taylor to tell him he was going to be okay, because he wasn't so sure.

"You are so dead!"

The sudden shout caused Zac's head to shoot up. His eyes finally focused, and they saw that Taylor looked dead serious and completely insane. His brother lunged for him, and Zac couldn't move fast enough. Taylor grabbed his wrist, twisting it. Zac cried out in pain, and tried to jerk free.

Seeing that Zac had something clutched in his hand, Taylor screamed, "DROP IT!" He twisted Zac's arm a little further, and Zac shouted again. Taylor slapped his brother's hand, and the four pills that he had been holding, dropped to the floor.

"Stay out of my stuff!" Taylor was beyond angry. He had to make Zac pay. Zac had to learn he just couldn't come in and take his stuff like this and get away with it. Sweat trickled down his face, dripped off his chin, and he swiped at a drop that slid into his eye, causing his vision to blur. His hesitation allowed Zac to squirm free of his brother's grip and back off. Taylor growled deep in his throat. His hatred for Zac was increasing with every passing moment. "You better run, 'cause I'm not finished with you!"

Zac's eyes grew wide. He turned and implored his feet to move. They did, clumsily at first but regaining strength with every step. Zac burst out of the room and ran for the stairs, Taylor hot on his heels. Taylor was yelling at him, but he ignored the cursing and practically threw himself down the last flight of stairs. The door swung open and Zac ran into the cold, rainy night.

"GET BACK HERE!!" Taylor was running so fast he thought his heart would burst out of his chest. He watched as Zac ran across the parking lot and started up a small, grassy incline. Zac's sneakers slipped in the wet grass and he lost his footing, sliding on his knees partway down the hill. Desperately he tried to grab onto the grass to pull himself up, but it was too late. Taylor was on him. He felt his brother grab him and flip him onto his back, and looked up into the eyes of a murderous stranger.

Taylor was completely out of control. He was looking at Zac and seeing everything he hated, everything that frightened him, everything he desperately wanted to end. He barely saw his brother through the rage that had taken him over. Screaming obscenities that were almost drowned out by the thunder, rumbling above, his fists flew out of control, pummeling Zac in the chest, arms, stomach, legs, a few blows smashing into Zac's head, leaving brillant colors in front of his eyes. Zac writhed in pain, crying, putting his arms over his head, trying to protect himself. Taylor couldn't hurt Zac enough. Nothing he did was enough. He stood up and stomped his feet into the boys chest, not caring that Zac couldn't breathe, not able to stop until he slipped in the wet grass and landed on top of his brother. He continued to ram his fists anywhere he could, stopping only when he suddenly realized that Zac was gagging and shoved him away in disgust. Zac rolled over on his side and vomited a mess of food, foam, and blood. Seeing the blood, Taylor's eyes grew wide, and a tiny bit of sanity returned. Lightning crashed and lit up the sky a brilliant white, so bright it looked like day. Taylor's breath caught in his throat when he saw what he had done to his brother. There was blood dripping down the side of his face, slowly darkening his already soaked hair. Zac's left eye was swollen shut, his lips were swollen and bleeding. Blood ran from his nose and mouth in a tide, too much bleeding... There were huge purplish welts and gouges on his arms. Horror sank into Taylor as he realized that he had done this, and that this was Zachary. Terror sliced claws into him, when he saw that Zac was no longer moving.

"Zac?" Taylor almost whimpered. He shook his brother, but Zac's eyes remained closed. "Zac!" He shook him harder. "ZAC! ZAC LOOK AT ME!" Taylor's cries became hysterical. "Zac wake up, please! Wake up!!!" Taylor tried to lift Zac, but ended up collapsing on the ground next to his brother's motionless form. Screaming, Taylor grabbed Zac, and pulled him onto his lap, wrapping his arms around him, not able to form words, just incoherent cries, rocking back and forth. Cradling Zac in his arms, he kissed the top of his brother's head, clutching him even tighter. "Zac, please," he whispered. "Please, please, please..." he trailed off the words still coming out more like moans. Rage had faded, leaving him alone with himself, and the battered form of someone he would have died to protect, but had instead very nearly killed. He sobbed into his brothers hair, "Oh God Zac, oh God I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry..."

When the hand suddenly gripped his shoulder, he screamed.

Mike looked grimly down at the boys, soaking wet in the grass. He'd know this was coming, Taylor's temper had been flaring up readily, at the slightest provocation. He'd been sampling Dara's cornucopia of chemicals, quite liberally, and his behavior had become downright frightening. Still, he hadn't for a minute dreamed it would be Zac who would catch the brunt of it. Taylor had done quite a job on him. He grasped Taylor's arm, none too gently. "Did you do this?"

Taylor's eyes dropped to the ground, all the answer Mike needed. He nodded, and squatted down next to Zac. "I'm gonna take him inside Tay, you have to let him go." He could see the panicky way Taylor was holding his brother, and knew it was going to be a struggle to get Zac away from him. For a moment he debated simply yanking him away, he could do it, but he also knew it would set Taylor off again, and above all he wanted to avoid more violence. He forced himself to relax, and to calm his tone of voice. "Tay, c'mon, he's gettin' soaked, I'm just gonna take him inside, you come too..." Taylor, beyond rational, never really responded. He clutched Zachary tighter, and a high, keening whine began to come out of him. Mike sighed. This was just going to be horrible all the way around. He reached out and gently stopped Taylor, who had begun rocking again, and firmed up his tone. "Tay. He is going inside. I'm not gonna argue. He needs help. Look at him." Taylor looked up at Mike, and the blankness in his eyes disappeared, replaced by emotion Mike couldn't identify. He stood up, dropping Zachary in the grass, seemingly having forgotten he was holding him. "I can't do this anymore..." his voice was a growl "You don't understand, I can't stand it, and there's no place to go!" Mike nodded, but took the opportunity to scoop Zachary up off the ground, and get to his feet. Wherever Tay was going with this, he didn't much care. Zac had taken God knew how much, of God knew what, and had had the hell beaten out of him. Taylor's wired out tantrum could wait. Ignoring the boys insane ranting, which was going on and on, he strode with Zachary into his room.

Taylor watched him go, the flood of words was shut off as if with a faucet. Nobody cared. There was an insane rage roaring in his head, and a nearly suicidal sadness. He sank back down onto the grass and dropped his head onto his arms. His hands gripped handfuls of hair, and he was rocking again. Beyond crying, beyond words, he stayed there. Alone and all but forgotten in the rain.

Two nights previous

He had to get away from them. It was all too much. There was no dealing with it, not with the way they weren't looking at him, or the way they weren't speaking to him. It wasn't his fault, was it? He hadn't meant it. Had he? Maybe he had. He just didn't know. He just knew he hated himself. There was nothing about himself he could live with. They were all right. They hated him now, and he agreed. He glanced at his mother, and she averted her eyes. Mental nod, she couldn't even look at him. His own mother hated him.

He couldn't take it anymore, he couldn't take their non stares.

He slipped away, knowing that they wouldn't come after him. Why look for someone who shouldn't even exist? He found a bathroom and drifted inside. Cold in here. Smelled like perfume. No matter. Who cared? He shut himself into one of the stalls and locked the door... deja vu... He'd done this before... who cared? He dug into his pocket, pulled out two crumpled plastic baggies, and sat down. For the most infinitesimal moment, the thought "Don't do this" flashed through his mind, barely registered and nowhere near enough to make him stop.

He dumped the contents of the baggies, about two dozen colored tablets and capsules, into his hand, and stopped for a moment, his eyes glazed and unfocused. He mumbled to himself for a moment, perhaps a prayer, and then tipped the tabs into his mouth. He chewed them, swallowed, and sat back, eyes dull. Beyond fear, beyond tears, numb... waiting. Soon nausea set in and he fought it, he wasn't going to let himself throw them up. Soon enough it faded, and he began to drift. His last clear impression was the smell of cheap perfume...

Present day

Taylor and Zachary stared at each other, neither of them able to speak. Taylor was nearly insane with conflicting emotion, he wanted nothing more than to go to Zac, and hold him and never let go. He wanted him to know he hadn't meant it, that he'd rather die than hurt him, that he wished he HAD died, that he loved him, that he was sorry. But he stood there, too afraid, and hurt by the fear he saw in Zachary's eyes, to go near him.

Zachary was in much the same state. He wanted Taylor to tell him it was all okay. He wanted Taylor to make it go away. He wanted Taylor. But he was terrified... He couldn't forget the hate he'd seen in those eyes, and the pain he had suffered at those hands. He stared at his brother, hoping against hope, yet terribly afraid, that Taylor would come over.

Nobody spoke. They stayed that way, each frozen in his own fear, and longing, for what seemed like hours. The spell was finally broken, when a hand gently touched Taylor's shoulder. He jumped, turned, and found himself looking into his mother's eyes. For a moment he was afraid to keep contact, afraid he'd read hate there, but when he finally made himself look, he saw concern, and love, nothing else. Everything in him broke then, and the tears he'd been fighting finally came. She nodded. Much as she hated to see him in pain, she'd been waiting for this, for some sign that he could care. That he could feel. The nurses had told her that other than hysteria when he woke up initially, he'd been very neutral, almost numb. They'd been waiting for it to break. She held him for a little while, letting him get this out of him, and finally led him to a chair near the bed, and sat him down. She waited a little, until he was calmed down somewhat, eyeing him, Isaac, and Zachary alternately. She didn't like the way Zac looked. He was too pale, and had edged as far away from Taylor as he could get. He was obviously scared to death, and she couldn't blame him. Ike was shooting death looks across the room at his brother, and she wasn't looking forward to what might happen if he snapped. She watched this for a few minutes, and decided it was high time to get Taylor out of there before all hell broke loose. The tension in the other two boys was just too high. She took Taylor's arm and gently pulled him to his feet. "Come on, you need to go back to your room now..." She nodded in Ike's general direction and gestured toward Zachary. Ike understood. She was worried that Zac wouldn't be dealing with this well. She had nearly made it out the door when Taylor stopped.

Zac saw his brother stop and turn, and the panic he'd been holding back suddenly burst out of him. He had to get away from him, he had too... he couldn't be hurt like that again. He bolted upright and was out of the bed and running...

When Taylor saw Zac suddenly scramble over the side of the bed, and run, rational thought left him. There was no anger left, he was terrified. He had to stop him, he couldn't live with this, Zac couldn't run from him...

It all happened too fast for Diana. One minute she was guiding Taylor out of the room, and the next he was gone, and Zac was screaming...

Isaac saw Zac run, and moved to stop him, not quick enough for Taylor, who intercepted Zac on his way by. Both boys were weak, and the momentum knocked them both off their feet. To Isaac's eyes, Taylor was after Zachary again and he yanked him up by the first thing he could reach, his hair... Taylor turned on him, eyes flashing, and screamed in his face... "You let me go!! You let go!!" he ripped his head away, and scrambled after Zac, who was desperately trying to get to his feet. He caught him and dragged him close to him, ignoring both Zac's screams and Ike's attempts to pull him away.

Taylor was oblivious to the others in the room, even Isaac's tugs, and blows, were something from another level. He was focused on Zac. Zac was afraid of him. He held the smaller boy in a deathgrip, unaware that he was frightening him more. He just couldn't let him go.

Isaac was powerless. He couldn't get Taylor off of Zac. he was close to losing control and seriously hurting him when Diana stepped in. She'd seen that Taylor was in no way hurting, or going to hurt Zac, but she was afraid that if the three of them kept struggling, someone would end up hurt... She took Isaac's arm, firmly, and pulled him away. He started to protest "You can't..." But she cut him off. "He's not gonna hurt him!! Look! Just look!" He tore out of her grasp, and started toward the boys, but he did look, and what he saw halted him in his tracks. "Tay, no! Let go! Please let go! I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! I don't know what I did, please let me go, please don't hurt me!" The flood of screams from Zac were breaking Taylor's heart. He wasn't going to hurt him. He'd never hurt him. He loved him. He didn't know what to do, but he couldn't let him up. He had to make him see, somehow that it was okay. That he hadn't meant it. He heard the cries from his brother and felt his eyes filling up. He didn't fight it, he couldn't, but anger rose up in him again, this time at himself. He had done this. He had done this to Zac. And now look at them.

Taylor sat up, still straddling Zac's legs, but he released his arms. He looked heavenward, again that nearly silent mumble, and then bracing himself, he reached down and took hold of Zac's head, in both hands. He stopped the younger boys thrashing and shouted directly into his face. "Zac I'm not gonna hurt you! Stop! I'm not gonna do anything!" His shout startled Zac, as had the sudden immobilization of his head, and he stopped screaming and stared... His eyes rolled wildly, he was too scared, he could feel his heart pounding... he had to make Taylor let him go. He nodded frantically. "Ok Tay, ok I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please let me go, I won't tell anyone, please, please..." Taylor overrode him "I'm not gonna do anything! Zachary I'm your brother!".

At that, all of the steel in Zac, and there was a great deal of it, rose up, and the anger he'd been denying finally flooded him. The words "I'm your brother!" were all it took. He sat up suddenly, unbalancing Taylor, and got right back in his face. "I know! And look what you did to me!!! I didn't even do anything!!!!" His fist shot out and connected with Taylor's head, knocking him to one side. Zac never even stopped for breath, a moment later his hand flashed out again, and this time he found a voice. "I never even did anything!! I was looking for you! Look what you did!! How could you do this?! How could you do this to me?! Look what you did!!" He was punctuating his words with blows, and Taylor was taking it, just letting it come. His hysteria had faded, and he was drained. He deserved what Zac was giving him, and he accepted it numbly.