Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 25 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.
“Just what do you think you’re doing???”
Grace was seething. What did this little wench think she was doing? And Taylor? Leaving her alone in there to come out here for this?
Indignant, she turned her attention from the annoyed Elize, to Taylor, intending to give him a thorough tongue lashing, changing her mind quickly as she saw him begin sliding down the wall. “Oh my…” She caught him under the arms, and hauled him back upright, pinning him against the wall, letting it take most of his weight. “Taylor, my goodness, are you alright?” He shook his head, thoroughly confused. Disorientation complete, he wasn’t at all sure who either of these people were, or why he was being yelled at. Tired and confused, he slung an arm around her neck and leaned his head on her shoulder. All he wanted now was someplace that held still. Nonplussed, Grace tried to back him off a little. “Taylor, wake up! What on earth is wrong with you?!” He groaned and pulled back slightly, still not able to focus. “Just quit yellin’ at me…”
“What the hell?!” Another voice suddenly broke in, and once again his support was roughly yanked away from him, this time too suddenly for him to keep his balance, and he felt the rough wall behind him scrape against his back as he slid down it, head spinning as voices shouted all around him.
“What the hell are you doing?! I thought you were here to be with ME!”
Josh, was that Josh? He pried his eyes open, getting a fuzzy sort of focus. Yep, it was Josh, yelling at Grace. What was he yelling at her for?
Grace, for her part, was having none of it. “Don’t be a boob, Josh!” “Well what’re you doing out here in a clinch with HIM?!” “I believe I was holding him up! After having removed some wench from him!” “Oh you expect me to believe that was all that was going on?!” “Josh…” Taylor climbed back up the wall, more awake with all the shouting. “Josh, she…” “You shut up!” Josh’s hand flashed out, connecting with Taylor’s chest, knocking him down again. “You…” His words cut off cleanly as Graces fist suddenly contacted his jaw… hard.
Goggle eyed, clutching his jaw, spitting blood from his bitten lip, he stared in amazement at the woman before him, eyes sparking in fury. “So help me Joshua Gage, you haven’t the sense God gave a billy goat! That you would think I would do ANY such thing!”
Taylor had managed to haul himself up again, shaking his head as the image in front of him wavered. Who was that? Ike? Who was that girl? His mind, barely functioning now, substituted the familiar for the confusing, and in Grace’s stead there stood one of the hotel girls. Unaware he was speaking his thoughts aloud, his voice, groggy and slurred, drifted into the silence. “Ike, I thought you didn’t like those girls…” Grace whirled on him, the phrase “those girls” having penetrated like a knife through butter. “Those girls?! And exactly what type of girl do you think I am?!” Her fist shot out again, knocking his head back against the wall, and sending him back down onto the sidewalk. Nodding, the pain a very faint taste in the back of his mouth, he curled up onto his side, electing now to simply stay down. It was easier.
Josh, recovering from his shock and seeing Grace readying for a kick at the helpless Taylor, reached for her arm. “Grace, Grace, calm down, he…” “You let me go!” He ducked her fist this time, pulling her into a bearhug hold. “Grace stop!” “Josh, let me go!” “No. Not until you calm down!” “Me calm down! You come out here accusing me of complete impropriety with HIM and then HE calls me no better than a tavern floozy!” “No, Grace, no…” “Josh, I’m warning you.” Josh laughed, the alcohol in his own system rendering him something less than bright. “And what are you going to do to me, huh?” In answer, Grace yanked her arm free and swung, landing one squarely in her intended’s eye, sending him reeling back, clutching the wounded area in astonishment. “I trust that answers your question? I always could beat you in a fight, and I see nothing’s changed.” She turned her back on him, reaching down and grasping Taylor’s elbow. “Get up off the ground, you look ridiculous.” He shook his head, rolling over onto his back. “N’way, somethin’s jus’ gonna knock me down again.” “Don’t be silly, get up…” She hauled on his arm, pulling him up in spite of himself, shoving him back against the wall. “Now just stand there.” “Yes ma’am…” He found himself grinning involuntarily, glancing at Josh. “Y’got a black eye, Josh…” “Not really! I do??” Josh felt of the place she’d hit him, looking to Taylor for confirmation. “Yeah y’do… she c’n take y’alright…” “And you…” “And me, yeah… look Gracie I’m sittin’ down so lemme alone…” He stumbled to the steps and fell more than sat, leaning his head in his hands. Josh laughed, shaking his head. “How much did you drink?” “Too much…” He sighed and closed his eyes. Sleep, all he wanted now was sleep. Josh laughed again, and turned to Grace, who was still fuming. “Grace, Grace, relax…” He reached for her again, and again her fist hit his face, causing him to pull her in close, pinning her arms against his body. “There. Now you can’t do much can you? Just why are you so mad?” She tossed her hair, now completely undone and hanging down her back in waves. “You… he…” she paused in confusion and he grinned. “I thought so, you have no idea…”
“I most certainly do! You thought I was out here doing… unMENTIONABLE things with Taylor!” Josh blushed, embarrassed at his foolishness. “Grace I’m sorry I got the wrong idea. I should have known better.” “Yes you should have!” “It’s just that I’m not used to seeing you like this and… and spending the night with you, having the chance to talk to you… I… well I…” He stopped again, unsure how to finish, and she giggled delightedly. “Joshua Gage you were jealous!” He looked away, ashamed of himself, but feeling defensive. Why shouldn’t he be? Grace was a beautiful woman, and she WAS his intended… he glanced back into her eyes, and suddenly the feel of her body against his imposed itself on his senses. Before he realized what he was doing, he leaned in, kissing her gently, if gingerly, half expecting a slap. Instead of the smack he was already flinching from, he felt her arms pull free, going around his neck, as she kissed him back. For the two of them, the world around them ceased to exist, as they lost themselves in each other.
Taylor looked up slightly, eyes falling on Andy.
“You ok, Taylor? You’re not sick are you?”
He shrugged, having no idea if he was or not.
“Well do you want to come back inside? They’re occupied…” He laughed as he glanced at Grace and Josh, still completely submersed in each other.
Taylor shook his head. He didn’t want to go inside. He didn’t want anymore to drink. He wanted to go home. He reached up and patted the younger boy’s face. “N’, I just wanna go home…” He pulled his hand back, suddenly confused again. Who was that? Zac? He didn’t look right. “Man, I can’t think…”
“You’ve had way too much to drink that’s why.”
“You know I don’t drink. What would our publicist say?” Taylor’s laugh was bitter. “In all the years you known me, you ever seen me drink? In my whole life?”
“Well no offense, but I’ve only known you a few days. Josh!” Andy’s clear voice rang out, and Josh looked over the top of Grace’s head. Andy pointed at Taylor. “Time to take him home, he’s had it.” Josh grinned, shaking his head. “He’s fine, he’ll be ok…” He turned back to Grace, who shoved him away roughly, turning her eyes to Taylor. “Oh my goodness…” She turned and shot a scowl at Josh. “Josh, don’t you think he’s done enough to help us, that it won’t hurt you to let go of me, and give him some help?” “But he doesn’t need help…” “Just help him get home, will you?”
Taylor looked up, laughing the same ugly laugh. “He can’t help me get home. Home is too far away.”
Josh sighed, shaking his head, and planted himself on the step next to Taylor. “Taylor, my son, we can get you home. I’ve gotten home worse off than you are many’s the time. If you think your home is too far, you can go to my house…” His words cut off abruptly as Taylor, head resting on crossed arms, suddenly gagged, bringing up a fair amount of the beer he’d drunk. Josh slid over slightly, raised an eyebrow, and shook his head. “Okay maybe not. Maybe we will go to your house…” Grace cuffed him lightly, hauling back on Taylor’s shirt to sit him up. He pulled away, putting his head back down, oblivious to the mess between his feet. Behind him, Petey barked laughter. “Waste of perfectly good beer! You better have some more, replace that!” Josh shot the boy a murderous look. “Shut up, Peter! C’mon Taylor, it is most certainly time to get you home…” “Josh…” Grace’s voice was worried. “Is he alright?” Josh laughed lightly, shaking Taylor slightly. “He’s alright, he’s just drunk.” “Well why is he ill?” “Because he’s had too much to drink. I’ve drunk myself sick lots of times… it’s not all that bad, you don’t usually even realize it until someone yells at you that you ruined their shoes…” He drifted off, eyes going distant, as his mind suddenly filled with the almost familiar visions of soaring buildings and screeching squealing metal monsters. Vertigo hit and he braced against the step as it passed, shaking his head.
“…drinking too…” Josh looked up, having missed most of what Grace had said. “I’m sorry, what??” She sighed, scowling again. “I said, am I likely to become ill, since I’ve been drinking too?” He smiled and slid an arm around her, somewhat awkward with her grip on Taylor as tight as it was. “Grace you’ll be fine, you haven’t had near as much as he did. Now help me get him up, once he walks a little he’ll be better.” Hopefully, he thought, with some trepidation, the flashes would cease, limited to just that one. He wasn’t sure he could take much more of that.
True to Josh’s word, the walk had done wonders for Taylor’s level of consciousness. By the time they’d dropped Andy, who Taylor had insisted on calling Zac for most of the walk, he was standing on his own, albeit a bit nerve-wrackingly, and had moved from mumbling incoherently, to near continuous ramblings. Unfortunately for Josh, who suspected he knew what those ramblings were about, he couldn’t seem to be made to shut up. Worse than anything he was saying, in Josh’s eyes, was Grace’s rapt fascination with his every word. This could bode only ill.
“…but you will never have to TOUR, Ike…” “I’m not Ike, I’m Josh…” “Whoever…” Taylor’s mind was sideslipping alarmingly, and he’d lost any grasp on when, who, or where he was, or who he was with. Josh, Ike, Andy, Zac, they all merged into one group face. “I’m dreamin an’way so it don’t matter…” “You’re not dreaming, my son, just keep walking.” “Taylor, what do you mean tour?” “Grace…” “Josh hush.” Taylor nodded, oblivious to Josh’s discomfort. “I mean, h’nt never have to do planes, trains and autom… auto… cars. He c’n play right here in NY until he DIES, but US , we gotta tour. We gotta travel, on ‘bus, d’jyou ever sleep in a wall? Nothin’ but a curtain tween me and insanity. ‘n y’ can’t fit in the plane bathrooms, you move the door opens up and you know you’re peeing on all peoples heads on ground…” He stopped, swallowed, and Josh jumped back. With people this drunk, you just never knew. Taylor only grinned at him mildly and continued his ramble. “Y’ know, time zones, y’ get there three hours b’fore y’ left.” Grace glanced at Josh, her gaze knowing. Taylor’s comments were clicking in well with her suspicions. “Taylor, shut up, would you?” Josh tried to keep his tone mild, but Taylor’s words were scaring him. The feeling that something horrible would happen, and soon, wouldn’t leave him. “S’rude t’tell people t’shuttup Ike…” “I’m not Ike! Taylor you don’t know what you’re talking about!” “S’I do… where we goin’?” “I’m taking you home.” “Y’can’t take me home. I got no home. I gotta get home, Zac’s prolly readin’ m’e-mail and wreckin’ m’stuff… But the borg ain’t got me now!” He giggled madly, and staggered into Josh, who straightened him up wordlessly. “What do you mean, Taylor?” “Grace…” “Tay awright? Take’s t’long t’hear Taylor… ‘cuz he’s not here w’that camera! The borg, got it stuck to his eyeball ALL’ time in m’face. Tryin’ t’play and i’s right there, like ‘G’WAY! but he’s always there…” Taylor’s face fell then, and a look of ineffable sadness came over him. “I miss’m though, they prolly think I’m dead ‘cept I got Ike to tell ’em… did you tell ’em?” Josh, giving up on trying to convince Taylor he wasn’t Ike, simply nodded. “Yeah Taylor, I told them. Will you shut UP please?” Taylor scowled and poked Josh in the chest. “YOU are not ver’ nice tellin’ me t’shut up all’time.” “Taylor, what is e-mail?” “Huh?” “You said Zac would be reading your e-mail. What is that?” Taylor’s look became baffled. “E-mail. E-MAIL! Y’know… e-mail?” “No, I don’t…” Taylor sighed and shook his head. “How can’y… E-mail. ElecTRONic mail. On comp… computer, like we got the lapdog… n’no… labtop…” He frowned, knowing it wasn’t coming out right. “LaPtoP… thasit… s’ y’can talk to y’friends when y’can’t call on phone, right?” “Phone?” “Phone… phone… y’know, phone… y’dial and say h’llo?” He stopped suddenly, a flash of clarity sending adrenaline racing through him. This was Grace! It was 1883! What was he talking about?!
The panic left him as quickly as it had come, the one moment of clarity suddenly disbursing, and he shrugged, having forgotten what he was talking about. “It’s so small, how come it’s so small?” “What’s small, Tay?” Josh breathed a sigh of relief. What could be dangerous about something being small? “All that…” He gestured widely at the skyline. “Th’s nothin’ there. I’s sposed to be so tall… Ike! The TRUMP is gone! It is! It is jus’ not there!” Josh rolled his eyes, knowing what the boy meant. The visions, the huge buildings higher than the eye could see. HIS New York, Josh was certain of it now. Insane as it was, he was sure. He groaned, and pulled the boy closer to him, leaning into his ear. “Taylor, you HAVE to be quiet now, please… you have to…” Taylor shook him off, irritated. “Leggo’me… leggo’s… I did eggo’s once, had m’pitcher on’ box y’know… lame lame lame” His eye lit on Grace again, and he stopped walking, squinting, puzzled. “What is it, Taylor?” “Who’r you?” “Well I’m Grace, Taylor…” “Y’look like m’cousin… which one… I got 500… no idea ’bout birth c’ntrol… breed like rabbits…” He shook his head in disgust. “Taylor, I’m not your cousin, I’m Grace. What’s the Trump?” Ignoring her, still hung up on rabbits, he stuck his hands behind his head, imitating rabbit ears, and stuck his front teeth out, sending Grace into paroxysms of laughter. “S’not funny, Ike doe’s better ‘mpressions, does Beavis ‘n Butthead… Ike!” Josh sighed, rolling his eyes. How long, he wondered, would he have to be Ike? “What Taylor…” “Do Beavis…” “Not now, Taylor…” Over it, his attention span of three seconds exhausted, Taylor dropped his hands, eyes turning back into the sky. “S’all gone… y’all are dead anyway!” Sudden fear flashed in his eyes and he froze, then backed up away from them. “Y’all are awready dead, I’m here w’dead people!” “Oh good Lord… Taylor!” Josh had about lost patience. “Obviously I am not dead. Will you please try to get a hold of yourself?” Taylor eyed him suspiciously, nodding. “Gedda grip yeah, gotta… why do I think you’re dead?” “I have no idea, but as you can see, I’m not… now come on, we’re almost home.” Taylor’s eyes narrowed, his look becoming ugly. “Home? N’where near MY home, Y’ can’t even FIND my home…” He shoved away the hand Josh rested on his shoulder, suspecting he knew very well how far Taylor’s home was.
He turned back to Grace, who persisted in her questioning. “Taylor, what, and where, is the Trump?”
“Grace!” Josh jumped in, having had quite enough.” You know he shouldn’t be saying this Grace, you know or you wouldn’t be encouraging him!” “But aren’t you the least bit curious, Josh?” “Well yes, but this isn’t fair! He doesn’t know what he’s saying. Please, leave him alone…”
She sighed, eyeing the boy who had lapsed from babble to humming, and nodded. Josh was right. Whatever was going on, Taylor was not responsible for his words. She slid an arm around him, smiling. “Taylor, I’m sorry if I was badgering you…” He smiled vaguely, completely clueless as to what she was talking about, and slid away from her touch, eyes raised to meet the facade of the Knickerbockers. Recognizing it, he lit up, grinning. “Hey this is your house, Josh…” “Saints be praised he knows my name. Yes it is, and it’s your bed for the night. Can you make the stairs?” “Hell yes…” Shaking his head, thinking it would be a long flight if he had to carry the kid, Josh followed him, Grace in tow.