Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 19 of 41
Summary: Taylor ends up traveling back in time to New York in the 19th century. There he meets Kathryn, Benjamin, Joshua and Grace among many others. The story follows both Taylor’s adventures in the past and Isaac and Zachary’s search for him in present (1997/1998) time.
Idly, not really paying attention, his fingers tapped out the rhythm of the MTV News theme. MTV news… you hear it… bam bam bam bam… first.
Smiling a little, he moved to switch the TV off
“Taylor Hanson has been gone for over four days now, what will happen to the music?”
“Huh?!” Startled, Ike swung around to look at the TV, not quite understanding what he’d just heard.
“Oh my God…”
He sank to the floor, in front of the TV, watching in horrified fascination as the MTV commentator showed clips of performances, clips of Taylor singing, interspersed with heartbreaking narration commenting on his energy in action, weaving a story of familial discord, of resentment and disagreement. A story of family discord… desperate unhappiness… mistreatment. “Oooh God no…” Isaac’s words rode out on a groan. Lies, so many lies, how could they do this?
“Did Taylor Hanson leave the band, leave his family, to escape his life of unhappiness? His lack of privacy? The constant family fights? Was it the lack of respect for his wishes, or control over his career? Did his families continual push drive this teen hearthrob over the edge? Or was it a chance comment? A comment made by his supposedly loving brother. “I’d rather see you dead than the way you are now…” Was it this that drove him to leave the safety and security he had grown used to? Drove him to face a world he’s not used to functioning in alone? Is he a runaway? Or worse… did Isaac Hanson get his wish? Is Taylor Hanson dead? Is Taylor Hanson, and the music of Hanson a thing of the past? Is the already existing music his only legacy? We’ll keep you posted as updates become available. More news next half hour, and every half hour. On MTV.”
Shaking, trembling so hard he could barely sit up, Ike felt pain rip through his body. His head rang unbearably, his chest so tight he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. His heart was pounding so hard, so loud, it was going to come through his skin, or stop completely. Gasping for air, clutching at his chest, an almost inhuman sound of anguish left his lips…
“He’s dead… he’s dead… he’s gone… oh my God those things they said! He’s gone… I did it…” The words ran through his mind, they wouldn’t stop. “The world thinks I made him leave… he’s dead… and I did it…” He stumbled to his feet, blindly walking to his bed. “No more Taylor… I drove him away…” Rational thought, hanging by a thread already, fled his mind and pure reaction took over.
“We need him, I need him, without him, I…” He looked up, tears almost blinding him, the small bottle on his dresser catching his attention. Migraine medication. Face blank, almost on autopilot, he reached for the bottle, unscrewing the cap, dumping the contents into his palm. Could he? “I drove him away… it’s my fault…” He laid back on the bed, looking at the handful of painkillers, heart lurching in his chest… it hurt, it hurt so much… what was there now? What was left for him, for all of them? Clutching the small plastic vial in one hand, the loose tabs in the other, he stared blankly, some deep survival mechanism blurring his thoughts, rendering him inert… too much pain, too much horror… in defense of self, his body took over, and he blacked out…
“You wanted him dead, Isaac, you did, you wished him dead, he’s gone…” Tabitha Soren’s smooth voice repeated the words, over and over, bringing him up.”Not dead, he’s not dead…” Not awake, yet not fully asleep, he moaned a response, moving restlessly in the bed.
Voices, Tabitha, Taylor, a woman, a man, clash of metal on metal, “God be quiet!!”
He thrashed in the bed, tangling his feet in the sheet, submerging again, his grip on the handful of tablets never loosening.
“Isaac, get up.” “No… no he’s not dead, be quiet…” “Isaac, get UP! Now!” “No, he’s not… he’s there… where…?” Isaac half turned over, hanging onto his pillow. He didn’t want to move, didn’t want to get up. “Come on, you have to come on.” “Go where…? what… I don’t wanna…” He rolled over, half fell onto the floor, and stumbled to his feet. Tripping over a T-shirt, he pulled it on, inside out, as he made his way, unwilling, but unable to stop, out the door. “Not big ‘nough…” Vague thoughts ran through his mind as he sleepily made his way to the living room. Hiking up his track pants, he dropped the empty vial, still clutching the pills in a deathgrip, unaware that he had them. “Where’m I goin’…” He found himself in the front foyer of the apartment. “Oh God…” He brushed sleep tousled hair out of his face, strands falling over his eyes. The shirt, too tight, inside out, strained at the seams, his track pants sliding to his hips, the drawstring lost long ago. That he was not at all attired to leave the apartment never dawned on him. He quietly opened the door to the hall, a sense of urgency moving him to the elevator, something else in control, something he could not halt, could not disobey, only follow.
The elevator doors opened onto a murky hall, and he moved to one side, knowing where to go, where to turn, what hall to follow, what door to stop at. Dimly aware of what he was doing, he tried to go back, sharp fear lancing into him as his feet continued forward, out of control. “No…” His voice nearly a whimper, he prayed it would stop, let him go, release him to the safety of his bed, and the oblivion he craved. His dazed mind tried once more to turn him around, as his body carried him onward, and the voice… insistent now, irresistable. “Isaac, come on…”
Woodwork, intricately carved, and a hand… who’s hand was that? The hand moved surely over the carved panel, fingers pressing here, sliding there. A ring on the hand’s finger caught his eye, and he realized with a dim dreamy horror that it was his own. “What am I doing, where am I?” His fingers worked the panel, and a small drawer moved slowly out of the doorframe, creaking, screeching. “Oh God…” Isaac breathed, as he looked into the small wooden box. A key. There was a key. “Don’t touch it, no… I’m going back…” He tried to pull his hand away, the voice in his head suddenly snarling at him. “Do it…” Helpless, he pulled out a key, a brass key, where had he seen it before? “Taylor’s… it’s Taylor’s…” It felt so real, despite the nightmarish quality of it all. He was asleep, wasn’t he? “No, I can’t go in…” His mind argued as his hand put the key into the lock, turned it, door, opening it wide. Suddenly vitally awake, nerves shrieking terror, he braced to run, adrenaline surging in him.
“You must. Please. Nothing will hurt you. Please.”
Blinking, blinking again, Isaac heard the voice. In his head, coming from the apartment, all around him. Soft, feminine, urgent, pulling him into the empty apartment, washing over the fear like oil over water, smothering it. Where was he? Before his glazed eyes, a door, beyond the door, shimmering, flickering light.
“There… there.” Benjamin slid his hands gingerly under a swatch of strands. “Look.” Taylor’s shoved his way past the man’s shoulder, eyeing the swath in his hands. Yes, strands, glowing silver, glowing red, two of them devoid of their glow, one carrying the sickish grey green he recognized from Josh’s, the other pale… nearly transparent but for pulsing black flashes.
“This is it. We have to do this now. Now. The boy was right. Look!” Kathryn nodded, a look of urgency on her face, taking Taylor by the shoulders. “Taylor, that is your brother’s strand. Take it in your hand, and let your mind relax. I’m going to show you what to do…”
Isaac’s eyes clouded as his feet carried him closer to the source of the light. “No…” The voice rang in his head. “No closer.” His forward motion stopped, and he slumped against the wall, all animation ceased. His eyes took in shimmering, silvery sparks, and his muted senses caught a faint whiff of ozone, as the floor dropped from under him, and a nauseating disorientation seized him…
Hands out to break his fall, his startled eyes watched the crumbling handful of pills skitter across the carpet, stopping his downward momentum his face bare centimeters from the floor.
“Oh my God…”
He shoved himself back to his heels, struggling for a moment with a wave of nausea, bracing one hand against the wall as the dizziness receded. “What in the name of God…”
He looked up, awake now, unable to shake the feeling he was dreaming. The dark apartment, empty a moment ago, appeared before him, softly carpeted, gently lit. Where was he?
Shaking his head, his hand found the wall, and he climbed to his feet. “Dreaming, I’m dreaming…”
Curiosity now beginning to intrude, he started hesitantly down the hall,
which now gleamed softly, from prettily covered gas jets mounted on the wall. Soft, almost silky material beneath his fingers, muted, pleasing colors. His eyes shot to the doorway ahead of him, as the voice came again. “Ike, come on…”
His bare feet sinking into the almost plush carpet runner, he went toward the voice, recognizing it now. “Tay?” he whispered. “Please God, let it be him. If this is a dream, let this dream go on forever…” He stepped from the carpeted hall, into coldly tiled kitchen, wondering at the detail this dream seemed to have. More soft lights reflected the glow of the brightly polished table, and another light shone… his brother’s eyes. Taylor. Sitting right there, looking more than a little perturbed.
“Geez Ike, it took you long enough to get here! I almost dislocated my brain, you unbeliever!”
“Uhmm… what?” Shock, disbelief, fear, relief… Isaac’s entire soul was a battleground as he took in the vision of his very much alive brother.
“Do you know what it took for me to get you here? You fought me tooth and nail, thinking you were crazy, thinking you were hearing voices… you were, moron, you were hearing ME! Are you going to sit down?”
“Taylor?” Isaac’s breath came out in a rush, and he did sit, barely in time to keep from falling. “Taylor I don’t… what did… Tay…” Words failed him and he shook his head, completely unraveled.
Sighing, Taylor reached for his brother’s hands, gripping them tightly. “Ike… I know you don’t understand. I don’t really understand it all myself, as well as I’d like to. But you have to listen to me.” He gently turned Isaac’s hand open, brushing at the white powder pressed into the creases. “You… I could feel you, Ike. You were going to die. You were going to kill yourself, WHY would you DO something like that?!” He rubbed the leavings from the tablets roughly out of his brother’s palm. “How could you ever think of doing something like that? Don’t you know it would kill us? All of us? To lose you… Ike…” He stopped, swallowing. He didn’t want to cry, not now. “You can’t ever do that again, Ike, you can’t ever even THINK about it! And over what?!”
Isaac’s eyes closed as he reveled in the warmth of his brother’s touch. “Over you…” “Over me? Why me? Ike, why would you kill yourself over me?”
Isaac’s eyes snapped open, and he yanked his hand away, suddenly angry. “Because I thought you were dead! Because I thought I drove you to run away, or to suicide, or to having been kidnapped and killed! Because you were gone, and none of us knew where you were!”
Taylor’s eyes widened in shock. It had occurred to him that his family didn’t know where he was, but the part of his mind that needed reassurance had convinced him that Kathryn and Ben must have done something, SOMETHING to cover for him. “You thought I was dead?! Oh, God, Ike they think I’m dead?”
“YES! Yes, dead and gone, and the FBI’s been dragging the river looking for your body! Zac thought I killed you!”
“Killed me?! Why would he think that? Why do they think I’m dead, Ike?”
“Because the last thing I ever said to you was…” His breath ran out and he sobbed a little taking in a new one. “…was that I wished you were dead. And then you were gone. He thought I killed you… the FBI thought I killed you… you just vanished Tay, just vanished, and we were so scared…”
To Taylor’s amazement Isaac’s eyes filled with tears, his brother, who never, ever cried, and he shoved his chair out in an instant, rushing to get his arms around him, holding him tightly. “No, Ike, no, NO! I’m okay, I’m right here… this is NOT a dream, Ike, I’m fine… I’m… Oh Ike, I’m so sorry… I had no idea…” He fell silent, knowing it only made sense. They’d taken him from his own time, and left nothing. No word or thought or breath of explanation. In New York, when a person vanished, they were more than likely dead, he knew that. “Oh Ike…” He knelt next to his brother’s chair, taking his hands again, looking up into his face. “You have to understand, I didn’t do this on purpose. I didn’t come here on my own. I was kind of… taken.”
Isaac, having had enough of crying, was struggling to get his hand back, to dry his face, to make some sense of it all. “Taylor, give me my hand!” He pulled up the hem of his shirt, wiped his eyes, and shook his head, pulling himself finally, once and for all, together.
Taylor sighed and got up, filling a very real looking glass with very real looking water, and setting it in front of his brother. “Here, drink this, the trip makes you feel kinda oogie. These people here… they needed my help. I’m still not sure why… but I can’t leave until I finish doing what they need me to do.”
“And what do they need you to do? Where is here, anyway??”
Taylor’s eyes lost some of the shadowed distress and he grinned. “Not where Ike, so much as when… c’mere.” He led Isaac out of the kitchen, and down the hall to his bedroom. The window there gave off on the spindly laugh that was Central Park West, in his time. “Look…” Isaac’s head dipped out the window, and yanked back in again with a yelp. “What the hell! I just went upstairs Taylor!” “Upstairs? Ike, we’re standing in the Dakota, IN the DAKOTA, ain’t it cool? In the year 1883.” “Ain’t it cool?! Taylor are you nuts?! The whole family thinks you’re dead, we’re all in fucking MOURNING, and you think it’s COOL?! You… 1883?”
“Yes, Ike, 1883.”
“You’re standing here. If I’m nuts, you’re nuts.”
“Well how? If this isn’t some funky dream, and I’m sure it is, tell me how then.”
“I can’t, I don’t know.” He winced a little as the bracelet around his wrist suddenly vibrated, shocking him. “Listen, you have to go back. But listen to me. You won’t remember much of this, but pay attention. This you have to remember. I am fine. I am not dead. I will be back, just as SOON as I’m done here. You can’t be grieving for me, I am going to be back. And you can never, never, EVER think again what you were thinking. Do you understand me?” Isaac nodded, eyes again glazed. “Ike, there’s so much I want to tell you… I’ve learned so much… Ike you were so right about me… I don’t know how you’ll ever forgive me… but just remember, I’m okay, and I love you, and I’ll be back. Alright? Now put your hand over this…” He slid his brother’s hand over the bracelet. “It’s going to give you a hell of a shock, but it won’t hurt you. You’re gonna go back now, okay?” “Tay, I don’t want to go…” “I know, and I don’t want you to, but you have to.” “Come with me…” “I can’t. Not until I’m done here… but it won’t be long. I know that. I love you…” “I love you too…” Isaac’s hand, thrumming with the warm vibration he felt from the strand, began to shimmer, and as he looked up in shock, he saw his brother’s eyes glowing with the same silver shine. “Oh my…” He grabbed for Taylor as he felt the floor suddenly drop from beneath him, falling, reaching, nothing to grab onto. Impact was hard, knocking the breath from him, and he sat up, gasping, tangled in the bedclothes. “Oh God…” He looked around, taking in the sight of his own room, looking over to the reassuring form of Zac, snoring gently in the bed beside him. Smiling a little, the pressure in his head inexplicably ease, he lay back, sinking easily and deliciously into real sleep, deep, dreamless, healing.
“Kathryn?” “What is it, Taylor?” Kathryn stood, submerged in shimmering strands. “Why doesn’t someone do something about my family? Do you have any idea how much they’re suffering?” “What would you have us do, Taylor, send a doppelganger in your place?” “Well something… they thought I was…” His concern faded as the energy of the strands filled him, a drifting detachment filling him. Was it the effect of the threads? He supposed it must be. “What’re those red ones, Kathryn?” “Those, Taylor, are the threads of the keepers.” “Keepers? You mean like you and Ben?” “Yes…” “What about the blue ones?” “Others…” “Others like you?” “No… others like themselves.” “But the red ones are you? There are so many!” “Yes… there are many of us, and many of us still to be.” “Is it a hard job, Kathryn?” “No… but demanding…”
He watched her working, almost weaving them, the detached calm eroding any annoyance at her vague answers. “Where are ours?” “Reach, you will find them…” “Can I?” “Yes, of course…” He glanced up at her, wondering why there was no admonishment. No “be careful”, no “but…” just a simple, “of course…” Sighing, he reached, his hands sliding rapturously through the texture of the shimmer, suddenly warming in recognition as a swatch fell over his fingers. “Here…” The woman looked up, finished her work, and nodded. “Yes…” She moved toward him, smiling warmly. He handled them so carefully. “How do I know who’s is who’s?” “Touch them…” He smiled, and slid a finger under one of them, winding it around the tip, the smile becoming a grin. “Zoe… she feels so nice…” “She does, yes…” Nodding, he ran his fingers over the others, feeling the taste of them slipping into his bloodstream, into his soul. They felt good, some of them resonating with a certain pressure, some kind of distress, but nothing that worried him. “They’re tense because I’m gone…” “Yes… temporary, we both know.” His eyes lit on Ike’s, still paler than the others, but rapidly regaining its glow. “He’s so…” A wave of love for his brother swept over him, and he glanced at her, helpless. “He’s a lovely soul, Taylor. Lovely.” “This is me?” “That’s you.” “Why is it ugly green?” “Do you not know? Can you not feel it?” He glanced sideways at her, uneasy, and dropped the thread. “Why doesn’t Zac have one?” He shifted them a few times, searching. “He does, Taylor.” “No… look.” He held the swath up, still running his fingers though them, blissing on the feel of his family. “Look again, Taylor.” He looked, shrugged, not understanding. “Kathryn, where is he?” “Put them down… now… reach, and look only for Zac. Close your eyes.” He did as she asked, reaching, finding it almost immediately, the thrill of Zacness that flew into his heart making it ache. God, how he missed him. He opened his eyes, searching for the sheen of silver, his face puzzled. He could feel him… but where was he? “In your hand, Taylor.” He looked down, shook off the errant threads that were clinging to it, and frowned. There was nothing there. “You dropped it Taylor.” “No, no I didn’t, I had one of yours.” “No… you didn’t.” His eyes shot to her face, and he reached again, finding his brother immediately, eyes now turning, filled with wonder and dismay, to the glittering crimson strand pulsing across his fingers.