Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 26 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.
Zac stretched, as far as he could, wishing he could just keep stretching forever. “Oh God, I slept good… weird dreams though.” Vague memories of voices, silver and crimson strands warming his hands, Tay’s hands? He rolled over onto his side, watching his oldest brother sleep. “He doesn’t move when he sleeps, he’s like the living dead.” The phrase echoed through his head, triggering the memory of another dream… Ike holding way too many pills…
“WHAT???” Sitting up abruptly, Zac probed his memory, looking for more information. He scowled, he just couldn’t remember any more than a vague visual of Ike, anguished pain on his face, holding white pills in his hand, staring at them. He got off his bed, heading over to Ike, worry on his face.
He felt his brother’s wrist, looking for life signs, scared of the pale face, the sweat darkened hair on the pillow, the faint movement of Ike’s chest, as he breathed. “Oh God, not you too, Ike, not you too…” He leaned closer, not sure what to do, not sure if Ike was alright, and suddenly, he found himself lying across the bed, in a headlock. Ike kneeling over him, laughing like a loon.
“Gotcha, Zac! How many times do you have to be taken down before you learn not to try to sneak up on me?”
“Lemme go you moron! I wasn’t sneaking this time, honest! Ike, PLEASE!”
Hearing a tone in Zac’s voice, a tone not usually there, Isaac released his brother. “What is it, Zac, what’s wrong?” He patted the bed, “Sit, what’s going on?”
“Ike, are you ok? Did you take the pills? Where are they now? WHY?”
“Whoa… one at a time. I’m ok. I didn’t take anything. How do you know this?” Ike looked searchingly at Zac, he reached out, rubbing Zac’s arm.
“Zac, talk to me…” His head down, Zac reached up, and wiped his cheeks.
“Ike, I dreamt that you tried to kill yourself.”
Isaac held his brother close, offering the comfort of familial love.
“It’s a long story, just listen.”
Diana looked at her sons, sitting on the couch, almost joined at the hip.
They’d spent the morning in their room, refusing offers of food or drink, saying only that they were talking. The air of serenity about them was almost eerie, considering the circumstances.
“Guys, are you ok? Do you need anything to eat?” They looked up from the laptop, almost surprised to see her there. They’d been lost in websites, surfing the net, looking for references to the Dakota of yesteryear. “Oh, mom, um, no, we’re cool, right, Ike? We’re gonna go out in a bit, to talk to George. We’ll grab something in the park, maybe. Is that ok?” Zac smiled at his mother, wishing he could lend her some of the comfort and ease that Ike had shared with him. He wasn’t all that sure he believed the whole story or dream, or whatever it was, but he was positive of one thing. Tay was okay.
Diana eyed them both, sure they were hiding something. Ike had been so upset the night before, now he was calm, quiet, serene. She sighed, her boys would share when they were ready, and not before, especially Isaac. He kept things inside, worrying at them until he’d figured them out. He would not gracefully accept help, not until he requested it.
“Fine, you can go out for a while, but take the cell phone, ok? I want to be able to reach you at all times.”
“Yes, mom, we will.” Ike closed up the laptop, setting it on the table. Getting up, he stretched slightly, grimacing at the stiffness in his muscles. “That was a rough trip last night…” He grinned at his complaining thoughts, at least now he was certain his brother would be home. He knew his mom would never believe the tale, though. He hugged her on his way past, already deep in thought, about what, she had no idea. “Let’s go, Zac, get a move on. I need to go for a run, gotta get rid of these aches and pains.”
“We gotta talk to George first” Zac reminded him, as they headed out the door, grabbing the phone off the table, and absently waving to their parents.
Walker put down the phone, and sat beside his frowning wife. “Well, I wonder what’s up with those two?” he remarked. “I’m not sure, but they’re acting too complacent. Like they know something…” Diana scowled, looking like her missing son. Her husband laughed slightly. “What could they know? All the FBI could tell me was ‘Sorry, Mr. Hanson, no news yet.’ What could the boys possibly find out?”
“Walker. You know those boys. God only knows what they’re thinking, or doing, especially with the laptop.” Diana eyed the black case on the table like it would bite her. She just wasn’t sure at all about the hours her kids spent online. “They’re gonna turn into cyberkinetic beings one of these days, I know it.” Walker laughed, almost choking, the look on Diana’s face was priceless. “My dear, they’re fine. Now, it’s lunch time, woman. Feed me.”
“Hey George!” Zac leaned against the wall of the guard house, and smiled at the older man. “Can I ask you some questions?”
“You certainly may, but don’t expect answers to all of them, alright? And where is Isaac going?” George watched Ike disappear down the street, his ball cap firmly in place, and turned back to Zac. “Just going to grab us some lunch someplace, he knew I wanted to talk to you.”
“What’s so important, then, Mr. Zac?” He smiled at the intensity on the boy’s face. He knew this was going to happen, he just hoped that he was up to this task. He’d been assured that he’d do fine, but he wasn’t entirely
“Well, ok. Um. I had a dream about you last night. And silver strands. And red strands. All shimmery and shiny, and warm. And a voice, telling me I was a red strand, and so were you. It was a lady’s voice, but I don’t know her. Do you? Are you? Am *I*?”
“How would I know someone in your dream, Zac?” Non-committal was the way to go, he knew that, but George was surprised at the details in this dream. And how perceptive Zac was.
“Was it a dream, George? Or is it real?” Zac knew that George wasn’t going to be real forthcoming with his answers, so he knew he’d have to ask just the right questions.
“Dreams often seem very real, don’t they?”
“Who lives in the apartment above us, George?”
“You don’t know them, Zac, and you’ll not ever see them about.”
“But they know us, don’t they, and Tay.”
“I’m not sure.” George was starting to sweat, he still wasn’t very good at this, and Zac was starting to get too close, too… just too.
“George, just look at me. It’s about time, isn’t it. Red shiny strands, I mean. And I’m one, like you.”
“Zac…” George’s voice trailed off, as Isaac returned, bag in hand. He pulled his eyes from Zac’s gaze with relief. “What did you find to eat, Ike? You weren’t gone very long.”
“Oh, just some burgers. George, maybe you can help us here, we have some questions about this place.” Ike looked at Zac, and at George, knowing he’d interrupted something, but not sure what. George looked way too relieved to see him, and Zac looked disappointed, but smug.
“Yes, Isaac, I know the history of this building, better than most, I suppose. What did you want to know?” Hoping that Isaac wouldn’t ask him things he just wasn’t allowed to answer, he started sipping at the coffee that Ike had handed him.
“Well, we were wondering if there were any photos of the building, in the year it was built, or any books, or anything like that. We’re interested in finding out stuff from it’s very first year. 1883.” Isaac watched in concern, as George half choked on his coffee. George waved off the boy’s hand, catching his breath. “How did these boys…” He sighed, knowing full well what had happened, but knowing that Ike shouldn’t remember as much as he obviously did. The bond between the brothers was much stronger than they had all realized, apparently.
“Well, there’s boxes of papers in the back room. But it’s nothing interesting, I’m sure. Just receipts from contractors, and delivery people, and such. I’m not aware of any photos, though.” He thought it safe to offer them the boxes of boring, mostly faded receipts. And it would keep them from asking him any more questions. “Feel free to dig through them, but be careful. The tenants are looking for someone to catalogue all this
The boy nodded. “We’ll come back after we eat our lunch in the park, then, is that ok?” Ike had a feeling, one he couldn’t explain, but he knew something was in one of those boxes. What though, he just wasn’t sure.
“Zac, let’s move, I see some of those girls heading this way. How’d they know…”
His voice trailed off as George waved them off. “Go. I’ll deal with them. Hurry now!”
The boys headed to the park, finding a quiet grotto, separated from the park by trees. They sat on the soft grass, leaned against the trees that hid them from view, and started eating. Silent thoughts whispered back and forth, neither boy aware of their communication, until Zac half whispered.
“Here, it was here he disappeared? Disappeared?” Ike dropped his lunch in shock.
“Oh God, you… how’d you… oh God.” His eyes wide, his mouth hanging open
in disbelief, he looked at Zac, not knowing what to say.
“Ike, just explain one thing. Why did you say ‘disappeared’? What do you mean?”
“I thought I saw him here, then he was gone. I’m just insane, don’t mind me, Zac. Think about it, how could he disappear?” Ike knew he could never explain what he thought he had seen, never in a million years, and he hoped Zac wouldn’t push.
“Ok, I’ll buy that. The only thing Tay can make disappear is food.” Zac looked at his brother, knowing there was more, but not willing to push it right now. “C’mon, Ike, lets go look at dusty boxes now. I’m done.”
He gathered up his garbage, packing it neatly into the bag, and hauled his brother to his feet. “I hope George got rid of those girls for us. I do NOT want them knowing where we are. In the past 6 days they’ve been such a pain, weeping and wailing all over the place. I swear, if I see one more black
armband, I’ll explode.”
Isaac laughed, the look on Zac’s face was comical. “They’re just worried, and grieving ahead of time. They’d do the same if it were you or me missing, you know. So would MTV.” His expression darkened, as he remembered the newsflash he had seen the evening before. “By the way, we need to call Christopher today, he has to do something about the lies MTV is spreading ‘cross the airwaves. That story has to be squashed, and now.” He pulled out the cell phone, determined to get this out of the way now.
Heading back to the Dakota, he told Zac what Christopher Sabec had said. He’d seen the newsflash too, and had already started dealing with it. MTV had received quite a bit of flak already, from fans who thought that they had crossed the bounds of good taste. A quiet word from a lawyer or two would bring a retraction, Christopher assured him. “And it will be aired as frequently as that damn newsflash was!” Reassured, the boys peeked through the trees, looking to make sure the coast was clear. Running up to George, they laughed.
“How’d you get rid of them? What’d’ya tell them, eh?”
“I was perfectly calm, I assure you. Just informed them that this is private property, and if they wanted to stand in the street, I’d make sure to call an ambulance, when I got a moment. I told them point blank that you were NOT here. Mainly because you were in the park.” George grinned at them, as the boys chuckled.
“Thanks George. Can we see those boxes now?”
Sitting on the floor, surrounded by dust covered boxes, and piles of faded brittle paper, Zac sneezed again. “Ike, are you sure about this? What ARE you looking for?” He wiped his nose on his sleeve, as Ike handed him a tissue.
“Geez, Zac, someone has to touch that shirt, to wash it, you know. That’s gross… I don’t know what I’m looking for. I guess I’ll know when I see it. Just keep sorting. If it’s not from summer of 1883, I don’t need to see it.”
Ike scanned the handful of papers he held carefully. Receipts from delivery men. Receipts from fabric merchants. He snorted with laughter as he deciphered one note, on what was once fine stationary. “Please, do not allow that ill bred man who wears only his undershirt to deliver anything to my apartment. I do not care to expose my delicate sensibilities to this kind of being.” Another note read “Could you please tell the young man living in apartment 806 that I do not appreciate his young friends traipsing in and out of our building? Thank you.” Ike stared into space, “That’s the apartment right above us… young man… I wonder…”
His concentration and line of thought was broken by another sneeze from Zac.
“God, Ike, did no one ever throw anything away? Look at this! An entire pile of receipts from some ice company! What’d’they need ice for, anyways?”
Explaining iceboxes, and how they needed to be filled, Ike started scanning the faded old papers. The entire summer of 1883 was detailed here, deliveries to each apartment. By the tenth receipt, Ike was getting the hang of quickly scanning apartment numbers, and signatures. By the sixieth receipt, he was starting to recognize names. Suddenly, he gasped, almost choking in surprise. He started to shake, his hands trembling.
“ZAC! LOOK AT THIS!” He handed the paper over, watching Zac’s face carefully.
“Ike… this looks like Tay’s writing… how… why… whoa…” Zac, wide eyed, stunned beyond belief, handed the slip back to Ike.
“He WAS there, here, then, he was, it wasn’t a dream!”
The boys looked at each other, and looked at the paper, the receipt that clearly stated that Taylor Hanson accepted delivery of one 30 lb block of ice, one summer day, in 1883.