Roads: Chapter 12

Title: Roads
Chapter: 12 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: “Zac, what are you doing home?” Taylor asked as he made his way over to the couch.
The sound of Taylor’s voice startled Zac and he jumped slightly, his feet falling to the floor. Taylor. Taylor was here. He’d forgotten.
“Oh, Tay. Umm, I didn’t feel like going,” Zac replied slowly, now wishing with all his heart that he had gone. He didn’t want to be alone with Taylor.

Chapter 12

Taylor yawned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The sound of a cartoon blaring from the TV in the living room had awakened, and surprised him. His mom had said everyone was going out. She had asked him to go, but he declined saying he wanted to take a nap. He’d gone from total insomnia, to sleeping all the time. He wasn’t sure that was an improvement, but he did know he felt better. Seeing Tiffany, and seeing that she wasn’t judging him, had made a big difference in him. Thoughts of rejoining the human race now sounded bearable, almost appealing, rather than terrifying. If he could just stay awake for more than half an hour at a stretch. He stumbled into the living room, still a little groggy from his nap. To his surprise he saw Zac slouched on the couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table, watching Animaniacs. He was glad, he hadn’t really seen much of Zac since they’d been home. Somehow they never seemed to be in the same room at the same time, unless they were asleep. He missed hanging with Zac.
“Zac, what are you doing home?” Taylor asked as he made his way over to the couch.
The sound of Taylor’s voice startled Zac and he jumped slightly, his feet falling to the floor. Taylor. Taylor was here. He’d forgotten.
“Oh, Tay. Umm, I didn’t feel like going,” Zac replied slowly, now wishing with all his heart that he had gone. He didn’t want to be alone with Taylor.
He knew it was silly, but just thinking about it made his heart race. He’d noticed it as soon as they got back. He found himself in a panic, any time he was alone with Tay. Something in him just wouldn’t let go of it. He knew his brother wouldn’t hurt him. He’d thought he was fine. But since they got home, he’d avoided ever being anywhere alone with him.
He sank down lower into the couch cushions, hoping Tay would just go back upstairs, until whatever weirdness this was, went away.

Taylor, having no idea that his brother was upset, yawned and flopped down on the couch next to Zac. “Ohh, how come?” He crinkled his brow and frowned though, when he realized that Zac had scooted away from him, almost to the end of the couch, practically smashing himself against the arm rest.
“Geez Zac…” Sarcasm was heavy in his voice. “Thanks for the space, but you know, I’m not really taking up all that much.”
Zac sighed. “I just don’t want you to jostle me or anything. I’m a little bit sore.”
“Oh. Well why are you home? How come you didn’t go with everyone else?”
Zac sighed. “You already asked me that. I’m a little bit sore,” he whispered.
Zac cleared his throat and spoke a little louder. “I was sore. Mom gave me a Tylenol and said I could stay home.” He couldn’t take his eyes off of Taylor.
“Oh… okay.” Taylor didn’t quite know what to say to that so he simply began to watch the cartoon. Unable to follow, and so become absorbed in the show, he realized that Zac was not watching the TV, but staring at him very intently.
Turning to look at his brother Taylor reached for his hand. “What’s up? Are you okay?”
Zac jumped again, almost as if he hadn’t expected his brother to catch him staring and quickly yanked his hand away, averting his eyes. “Umm, nothing. I’m fine.”
Taylor just gave Zac a weird look and returned his attention to the TV. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he didn’t think it had anything to do with him. If Zac wanted to a freak, so be it.
“Umm, I’ll be right back,” Zac suddenly said, getting off the couch.
He couldn’t stand it anymore. He wasn’t sure why, but Taylor was giving him a real case of the screaming horrors. Calling himself every name in the book, and wishing it was possible to really kick himself, he headed out of the room, wishing he could run.

Taylor winced as he watched his brother slowly walking out of the room, one time putting his hand near his ribs and rubbing furiously at his side. Knowing there was nothing he could do about it,
Taylor’s attention went back to the cartoon, this time having more luck keeping track of it… It wasn’t until Animaniacs was over and he was halfway through Tiny Toons that he realized Zachary had never come back.
Wondering if Zac was alright, he turned off the TV and listened for a moment. He could hear shuffling from upstairs. He frowned, unable to identify the sounds, and went to see what Zac was up to. He climbed the stairs and headed for his bedroom. The door was partly and he stood in the doorway watching as Zac, his feet sticking out from underneath the bed, rummaged around, occasionally tossing an item out that had mysteriously disappeared months before and was now being recovered as Zac scrounged.

Zac had no idea what he was doing, it was killing his chest and side to be under here. But he had to do something. He had to forget that he was here alone with Tay. He knew it shouldn’t bother him. It never had before. Feeling like he was losing his mind, and quickly, he threw himself into cleaning out under the bed, and gradually his fear faded…
“I haven’t seen that shirt in ages,” Taylor commented as a green and blue striped t-shirt came flying out from under the bed.
Zac sat up at the sound of Taylor’s voice, heart jumping into his throat, bouncing his head as he realized he was still underneath the bed.
“Owww,” he grumbled slowly. Scotching out from under the bed, he rubbed at his sore head, then at his side, which was screaming at him from all of the extra activity.
Taylor watched as his brother scooted out, his shirt riding up to his chest. Most of the bruises were completely gone, and the worst ones had faded to a pale yellow. He wondered when the actual pain was going to go away, and felt guilt stabbing at him.
“You okay?” Taylor inquired.
Zac glanced over, saw Taylor looking at him and quickly fixed his shirt. “I’m fine,” he mumbled. He felt like Tay was looking right inside him, and he felt terrible.
Taylor, who was oblivious, continued trying to engage his brother in any sort of conversation. “Tiny Toons is on. You’re missing it. What the heck is possessing you to clean out under the beds?”
“I don’t know. I just felt like it. That’s all.” Zac stood up and looked at the pile of missing treasures he had recovered, frantic to find an excuse. “I wanted…” he kicked an old shirt aside and picked up a book. “I wanted to read this again.”
Taylor raised his eyebrows. “The Scarlett Letter? I didn’t know you ever read it a first time.”
Zac frowned. “Well, okay, so I didn’t. But I want to read it now, okay? So I’m gonna go read it.” He clutched the book to his chest and hurried out of the room.

Taylor just stood there stunned. “What the hell is up with him today?” he wondered aloud. He sighed and wandered back downstairs. Flopping back on the couch he watched the end of Tiny Toons.
When he heard Zac open the refrigerator his stomach growled. “Oh man, I’m hungry.” He got up and went into the kitchen, a little annoyed that it took a cue, the sound of the fridge, to make him see he needed to eat. “I’d probably just starve to death, because I’m too stupid to remember,” he thought “if things like this didn’t happen to remind me. I am so pathetic.
He came up behind Zac, as he entered the room.
“Did mom buy any of that cereal,” he asked Zac, who was holding a bottle of apple juice.
Taylor’s voice sent a bolt of blind panic through Zac. He jumped, dropping the bottle, which shattered when it hit the floor, apple juice and broken glass spraying all over the kitchen. Zac froze, unable to believe what was happening. He was beginning to lose the ability to think, adrenaline was driving coherent thought out.
Taylor couldn’t take this anymore.
“Zac what the hell is your problem? Every time I open my mouth you jump a mile! Why? What the hell is up? Look at this, now…” He stepped toward Zac, his intent to reach behind him for something to clean up the mess with.
Zac evidentially thought he had other ideas, and jumped back out of reach, colliding with a kitchen chair, toppling both the chair, and himself, to the floor.
Taylor’s eyes were huge. Zac had startled him out of his wits, jumping back like that, and now here he was on the floor, all wrapped up in a chair. What on earth was wrong with him? He walked over and held out a hand.
“Come on, Zac, get up.”
Zac shook his head. “No, I’m fine.”
Taylor scowled at him, “Zac, you are all tangled up in a chair, covered with apple juice, and lying on the floor. This is some new meaning to the word ‘fine’ that no one has told me about. Now will you get up please?”
His sarcastic expression turned to worry when Zac continued to hesitate.
“Zac you’re okay right? You’re not hurt, are you?” He reached down and took Zac’s arm. “Come on, lets see…”
Zac pulled away, and climbed to his feet.
“I’m fine, I’m not hurt, I… I have to make a phone call.”
He backed out of the room, not turning his back until he had the door between himself and his brother. Taylor stared at the empty space of his leaving for several minutes, finally beginning to catch on. The blind panic in Zac’s voice had been pretty hard to miss. He stood there, unable to decide what to do.

Zac paced, twirling the phone cord between his fingers. He felt so stupid. He was being ridiculous, he knew he was, but he just couldn’t help it. He listened to the ringing at her end, heart racing. She had to be home. He didn’t know who else he could call. She had to be home. 35 rings later, he was about to give up when the phone on the other end was finally picked up.

Tiffany heard the phone over the sound of her shower, but she ignored it. Whoever they were, they’d call back. She was more than a little annoyed when the phone continued to ring, and finally jumped out to answer it.
“Hello? This better be good.” Her voice plainly showed her irritation.
“Tiffy? I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, this is Zac…”
Hearing the panic in his voice, her annoyance drained away immediately.
“It’s okay, Zac, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know Tiffy, can you come over here? I really need to not be alone here. I don’t know who else to call.”
She wrapped her towel a little tighter around herself, shivering lightly.
“Zacky, I was in the shower. What’s wrong?”
His voice came back, shaky and shrill… “Tiffy, you have to come over! I can’t stay here alone! What are you doing that you can’t come over?”
She sighed, and began toweling off one handed. “If you must know, Zac, I’m trying to dry off and talk to you at the same time. You sound all freaked out.” She expected a giggle, and when it didn’t come, she understood how upset he really was. “Okay Zac, let me get dressed, I’ll be right over. But isn’t Tay there with you?” She wasn’t sure, but it sounded like he was crying.
“Yeah he is Tiffy, that’s why I can’t be here alone. I can’t be alone with him, I’m getting sick, please, please come over…”
She sighed, not knowing what was going on, but realizing that it was serious.
“Okay honey, I’ll be about ten minutes.” He hung up without another word, and she shook her head. This was not going to be pleasant.

Zac never saw Taylor standing in the doorway. He listened quietly to the whole thing, feeling his soul dying with every word his brother spoke. When he heard his brother’s tear choked voice utter the words “I can’t be alone with him, I’m getting sick…” he felt all of the defenses he’d been hiding behind crash down on him.
Zac was afraid of him. Still. There was never going to be a way to fix this. He’d thought that things were finally returning to normal. Things had felt better, lately.
Guess I’m just too far gone to even look at what’s in front of me,” he thought, sighing. He turned, silently, and crept out of the back door. He didn’t know where he was going. He just couldn’t be there anymore. Maybe the doctors had been right. Maybe he should have been taken away. He didn’t know. But he couldn’t deal with this. He ran across the backyard and into the woods. Six steps in, shadows claimed him and he disappeared.

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This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author, Sheryl.

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