Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 38 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.
Taylor lay quietly, focused on the faint breeze whispering through the leaves of the
tree above him. Quiet sound, soothing.
A strand of hair drifted across his face, desire to remove it drifting just as briefly, too comfortable to follow through.
Children’s laughter, faint and distant, and he smiled gently. He’d missed the little ones so much, only a week, a week away from all he loved, but it had seemed so much longer. A lifetime in a single week.
That week he had learned so much about himself, so much about what was important. And to care so much more than he ever could have imagined, for his family, for Josh and Grace, for a time gone long before he was even born. Now, home at last, he missed them, missed their quieter, safer time, just as he’d missed his family then.
Sighing heavily, Taylor rolled over onto his stomach, flinching as he hit his casted arm on the tree trunk beside him.
“Ow ow ow… can’t do this…”
Awkwardly, he sat, the sudden flare of pain reminding him how banged up he still was. “Broken ribs, broken arm, concussion, a lovely scalp wound… nice arrival home, yep, I do things in style…” His memories of that day were still foggy, all he really remembered was being cold, so cold, and Nessa. “I gotta e-mail her again…” his thoughts drifted to the young girl who had helped him that day, and sat with him and George until his dad had arrived.
Some guardian angel sent from heaven. Thoughts drifting on the fragrant breeze, he fell back to that day. It had been so hard to get used to, being back here. The smells alone had made him so sick. And everything had seemed so loud, so fast. He sighed, shifting a little uncomfortably, still locked in memory. Zac and Ike. They’d stared down at him, wordless, taking in the blood and the grime, the oxygen mask, the bandaging, simply looked down at him… and he back at them, moments immeasurable. Simply looking at each other, the threesome reunited, no need for words, hands clasping hands, the circle again unbroken. He’d looked past them then, into his dad’s face, startled to see tears falling down his cheeks.
He swiped at his own eyes now, memory taking him over, feeling again the blissful warmth as his dad had slipped an arm behind him in the bed, and pulled him close.
He sat up, gingerly leaning back against the tree, his thoughts roaming through the
next day… the questioning by the FBI and the police, their total frustration with his answers of “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember.” It hadn’t taken much to turn them off, though.
Once he admitted that he had been staying with friends for the week, that he had
not been kidnapped, that nobody had beat him up, or pitched him out of a car, the case was closed. He was back, there was no one to charge, or prosecute. They had stripped the suite at the hotel as efficiently as they had set it up, all the sound recording equipment taken away quickly and with dark looks, the FBI had left their lives.
“Thank God…. if they’d asked Nessa one more time just HOW she found me, she’d have ripped their faces off, I swear.” He smiled, remembering how indignant she’d been, she’d saved him from being road kill, and they had had the nerve to suspect her of “involvement in an abduction”
“I owe her…”
The smile left his face, as he remembered his homecoming, and seeing his mom. After the initial hugs, and kisses, and crying… came the questioning.
“The FBI could take lessons from Mom and Dad.”
Completely unable to tell them where he’d been, he’d settled with his party line, and he hadn’t deviated from it. “I was with friends, you don’t know them. I had alot of thinking to do, and some changes to make in myself. I was a total jerk the past while, and I had to go away to fix that. I’m sorry you were so worried, I really am, but I couldn’t help that. I came back as soon as I could, as soon as I was human again.”
Ike and Zac had just looked at him, their expressions unreadable, their faint memories confirming the honesty in his story. With a nod, they accepted his line, knowing that at some point in their lives, it would be hashed out between them. They could wait. He wasn’t going anywhere and they all knew it.
But Diana and Walker weren’t as forgiving. After two days of almost non-stop
questioning, combined with bouts of heartfelt joy at his return, he was grounded until they forgave him for causing them so much grief and worry, for everything he put NYC through; or for life. Whichever came first.
“Man, she hugs the breath outta me, then smacks me. A smile, then BIFF.”
Hardly blaming them for being angry, Taylor sighed, unable to stop pondering it. Would he change anything, if he could do it over? “No, not a thing. That week was just…
just…” Words couldn’t describe how he felt, the peace in his heart, the love he still felt for friends now long gone from this world. “I wish I knew how’d they made out…”
He sighed again, grimacing. The air here still smelled bad, by turns. Funny that a single week should throw him into such a feeling of culture shock. Still, George HAD warned him, warned him that the time in the void, where he’d been lost for so long “…and for never, how weird” had literally taken him apart and made him over. Physically he was uncontaminated by the toxins he’d grown so used to, as unconditioned as a newborn. “New, Taylor, you’re new… you look the same, but you are not the same…”
He sighed again, shutting his eyes. “It sounds so profound but all it really means is my allergies are kickin up a storm…”
So strange, the whole experience, and now he wasn’t sure what to do. Sure he’d learned the lesson he supposed, but what did it mean? It wasn’t coming naturally that was for darned sure. He had to bite back every snide comment that rose to his lips, remind himself to be considerate… “I haven’t changed, not really. I just am more careful not to let them see it…”
Still, deep inside, he knew that wasn’t true, and that he had changed. Oh, he hadn’t become a saint, not by any means, but the fundamental change was there.
The constant need to be kind and considerate was really overboard and he knew it. Part of it of course was guilt, he’d worried them so much… but guilt or not, unreasonable or not, he couldn’t at this junction even let himself get mad at them, argue any point, or so much as disagree.
“I’m a psychiatrists dream…”
Sighing, he got up, finally too restless to just sit around any longer.
“I don’t have anything to do…”
Bored, his mind roamed the possibilities, once again going back to his friends in the past.
“Did they miss me when I was gone? Probably not, probably breathed a huge sigh of relief…”
His thoughts froze for a moment, the seed of a memory suddenly sprouting. “Related to me… they’re related…” His memory flashed on the bible, old, so old, tucked onto the bookshelf, too old to be used his mother said, opened only at the occasion of a wedding, birth, or death, such events faithfully logged into the built in genealogy. “It goes back to your great great great grandmother…”
Faint voice from the past. His mother. Was it her side of the family logged in there? “Could they be listed?”
His steps quickened, aiming for the house.
Zac watched through narrowed eyes, as his brother, the weird one, tiptoed into the front room. Off limits, a formal parlor reserved only for special occasions, Taylor had no business being in there. Still, he was already grounded, so it probably made little difference.
“What’s he doing??” Zac observed, amazed, as Taylor gingerly pulled the antique bible from the top shelf, settling himself comfortably in his mother’s antique rocker.
“Yeah, just get comfy Tay, till mom comes and throws a hissy ’cause you’re in there.” And now what was he doing? The room was on the shade side of the house, dim even in broad daylight. Too dark to read comfortably. Taylor had snapped on the light, winced with an expression that crossed annoyance and pain, and flipped it off again, moving to pull the old hurricane lamps from the mantelplace.
“Yeah help yourself… boy are you gonna be in trouble…” He watched his brother light them expertly, smiling in satisfaction at the soft glow, and settle in to read. “It’s just the old bible, why’s he look like that?” The rapt concentration on his brother’s face caught him. Curious, more than curious, suddenly possessed of an irresistible need to know, an almost electric tingle suddenly surging through him, Zac left his own fear of his mother’s wrath in the dust, and quietly moved to his brother’s side.
Taylor sighed in something like relief, as the gas flames, lowered to a comfortable level, shed their flickering light on the book in his lap. It was so much more… normal… in here, he thought. His discomfort with all things modern, his affinity for another time, seemed perfectly reasonable to him, if not passing strange to his family. Of course George had explained that too, blaming it on the void. The last time Taylor had known, 1883, was the time his mind accepted. Everything else, while not driven out, had at least been suppressed, and the trappings of the modern world confused and irritated him. Electric lights were too bright, too harsh, and they hummed, the vibration making his head ache. He’d liberated some candles and used them in his room, enjoying the softer light, abhorring their artificially perfumed stench, but these lamps… these were better, this worked just fine.
His brow furrowed in concentration, eyes confused by the spidery, lacey handwriting that made up the first section of the genealogy. “Why do ladies think they have to write so fancy???” Still, he could at least establish that it was his mom’s side of the family. “Good…”
His finger trailed down, amazed at the sheer number of people who made up the family. “Prolific, weren’t we back then… back then, what am I talking about, look at us now…” He heard Zac’s stealthy approach, taking little heed other than a brief squeeze of his hand, eyes never leaving the book. The name changes with each additional marriage were mixing him up, and he sighed, rubbing his eyes. This wasn’t as easy as he’d thought it would be.
“What’re you looking for, Tay?”
Zac’s voice was soft, hesitant, and Taylor sensed his reluctance to intrude, appreciated it.
“Names… but I can’t find them…”
“I guess Gage…”
Taylor shook his head, unable to explain, and Zac set a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“Can I help you look?”
“Mmmhmm…” Taylor’s vague reply was distant, attention far more taken by the words in front of him, and he slid from the chair, taking up a spot cross legged next to Zac, on the floor, spreading the book between them.
Two sets of eyes flitted over the entries, a third set watching, unnoticed, from the doorway.
Diana gazed at the two, her first impulse, to tell them to get out of there, arrested by the dreamy, lost look in Taylor’s eyes. Where did he go, so often, that that look seemed almost his permanent expression? And why was he so much more comfortable in there? She’d caught him in there countless times, kicking him out, vaguely saddened at his wistful look, each time. Now not only Tay, but Zac as well, but what were they doing? That was the old bible, wasn’t it? And those oil lamps, smoking things up… what made him light those, rather than turn on the light?
She’d noticed the aversion to lights almost immediately, as well as his absolute horror of television. He’d jumped nearly a foot when they’d turned on the television his first day back home, and fled the room almost immediately. She knew about the candles he’d filled his room with, had gone by his open door once, seeing him in there, reading by the light of as many as he could cluster around himself. She’d almost questioned him, some unknown sense staying her tongue at the last minute, as it stayed her now. They weren’t supposed to be in there, but they weren’t hurting anything… sighing softly, she left them there, taking her confusion with her.
“Which name again, Tay?”
Zac’s eye had little trouble with the handwriting, and the maze of names pleased him. That there were so many people in his family, such a wide list, that people had meticulously recorded each and every birth and death, it was just incredible to him.
“Gage, Zac. I guess Samuel Gage… but I guess we’d find Sarah first but I don’t know what her last name was…”
“Why are you looking for ’em? Hey are we in here? Do mom and dad write it in too?”
Taylor nodded absently, stretching the stiffness from his neck. “I guess we must be, but right now we’re about a hundred years too far back.”
“So who are these Gage people?”
“Well, maybe people who are related to us, I’m not sure… listen forget it for now, I’m getting a headache.”
His dismissal was abrupt, unexpected, and Zac pulled away with a start as his brother snapped the book shut.
“Tay did I make you mad or something?”
Taylor shook his head, climbing awkwardly to his feet, slipping the volume back into its slot on the shelf.
“Nah, I’m just tired of looking.”
How could he possibly tell Zac of the unreasoning fear that had hit him, that he would find them in there, find the dates of their births, and ultimately the dates of their deaths? His rational mind told him they’d been gone forever, since before his birth, but his emotions in direct conflict, insisted that only a week ago they’d been young, vibrant, alive… it was too much, and his headache was no sham.
Zac, eyeing Taylor carefully, unconsciously looking for some sign of hostility, finally nodded, satisfied that he had caused no grief.
“You want to take your bike out with me?”
“No, I’m grounded, remember? ‘Sides I don’t think I could ride it… too fast.”
“Tay you’re a speed demon, what’re ya talkin’ about, too fast!”
“I don’t know Zac, I’m a freak. Go ahead, I can’t go anyway.”
“Well what’re you gonna do?”
“I don’t know, find some Advil… nothin’ much to do around here…” His voice trailed away, thoughts already receding into the past again.
“Yeah, ‘course. Go on, go ride, don’t hang out here.”
“Don’t need to tell me twice.” Zac grinned and headed out the door, one backward glance reassuring him that his brother was indeed okay