Chapter: 15 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: From her seat at the kitchen table, Amanda could see the car careening wildly down the road. Largely ignoring the buzzing of her friends voice from the phone she held to her ear, she watched as the car sputtered, stalled, and veered off to finally stop, on her front lawn. Amazed, she remarked into the phone.
“Kim, some car just drove up onto my lawn.”
“What? What happened?”, Kim wasn’t sure of what was going on.
“I don’t know. it looks like a young kid.
Taylor just drove. He didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t care. Just away. Away from all of them. The feeling in his gut, when Isaac had said that, he’d never felt anything so horrible. Something inside him had died, he’d felt it. Not even knowing what he’d done to Zac had felt as horrible as hearing those words had felt.
Unable to think, unable to reason, eyes blinded by tears, he just drove, not caring where he went, not knowing if anything was in front of him, an incoherent plea in his soul, to whatever God was listening, to take him out of this, to finally end it, once and for all.
Whatever God was listening, was looking out for Taylor, because two hours later, when the car ran out of gas, he was still alive. Miraculously he’d avoided hitting any other vehicles, stationary objects, or people, and had stayed on the road.
As the car sputtered to a halt, he surfaced from the traumatized daze he’d been in, realizing that he’d been driving the car, that he was no longer driving the car, and that he had no idea where he was.
He managed to get the car pulled over, just as it rolled to a halt, and then sat, head splitting, back and neck screaming agony. How long he would have sat there, head back, eyes closed, wishing he were dead, he didn’t know. The world had narrowed to a pinpoint of pain, coherent thought had left him.
He never noticed the creeping cold, or the fact that his hands and feet had gone numb. He very likely would have frozen to death, but for the sudden nausea that welled in his throat, jerking him upright with a scream of pain in his shoulders.
From her seat at the kitchen table, Amanda could see the car careening wildly down the road. Largely ignoring the buzzing of her friends voice from the phone she held to her ear, she watched as the car sputtered, stalled, and veered off to finally stop, on her front lawn. Amazed, she remarked into the phone.
“Kim, some car just drove up onto my lawn.”
“What? What happened?”, Kim wasn’t sure of what was going on.
“I don’t know. it looks like a young kid. He looks like he ran out of gas. He’s just sitting there in the car. Should have seen him a minute ago, he was all over the road. I wonder if he’s alright? Hang on, I’m going to go see.”
“Don’t go out there Amanda, the guy could be dangerous.”
Amanda wasn’t really listening to her friend, she was too busy looking at the boy in the car. She couldn’t really see him clearly but he looked like he was in pain. The expression on his face told her that he was hurt.
“Kim, he’s just a kid, what’s he gonna do?”
“Just hang up and call the police to come get him. You don’t know who he is or what’s wrong with him.”
“Mmmm…” Was the absent response.
She continued to watch him, leaning toward Kim’s suggestion of calling the police, when she saw him suddenly open the door and fall out onto the ground.
Eyes wide, she watched him haul himself partway up on the open door. From her vantage point she could see clearly that he was very young, and definitely sick. Without another word to her friend, she dropped the phone, and ran out the door.
He pushed himself out of the car, more in a panic to get away from the feeling than to avoid making a mess, and grabbed onto the door as his numbed legs gave out. Holding on for dear life, helpless in the grip of the sickness that had claimed him, he never heard the footsteps coming up behind him.
When an arm suddenly slipped around him, he screeched, leaping back, lashing out, the blow knocking the other person into the car, and knocking him backward onto the ground. He scrambled frantically backward, animal terror driving him, still retching violently. Strong arms reached out and stopped him, this time pinning his hands, holding him tightly, and adrenaline surged. He had to get away. His struggles were futile, he was too weak, even with the rush of panic, he couldn’t escape the arms that held him. He struck out again, connecting with what he didn’t know, but this time the blow was returned, a hand connecting with the side of his face, pain shocking him into sudden stillness.
“Stop it!! Just calm down! I’m not gonna hurt you!!!” The voice was anything but gentle, and he tried to shove himself away. The hands tightened on him. “It’s okay!! It’s okay, just calm down!! Just calm down…”
Calm he wasn’t, but exhaustion was quickly replacing adrenaline, and he found he was beginning to relax into the arms of whoever had him, in spite of himself… As the tension went out of his body, the grip on him loosened, letting him find his own position. Cold and uncomfortable, he pushed away, hauling himself to his feet on the car. Dizziness and nausea swept over him, and black began to fill his vision.
Again an arm slipped around him, and the voice spoke again, this time close to his ear.
“Come on, come inside…” Startled again, he tensed and his hand came up, only to be roughly grabbed and held. “Don’t! Don’t hit me. I’m trying to help you. If you stay out here you’re going to freeze. Now stop that, and just walk. You won’t fall, I’ve got you.” He resisted briefly, and the voice raised a little. “I’m not going to hurt you, but you will freeze if you stay out here. Your car’s out of gas, you don’t have a coat, you’re obviously sick and I’m not gonna talk about it anymore, I’ll pick you up and carry you in if I have to. Now let’s go.” Too weak to resist any longer, Taylor let himself be led up the drive.
Warmth hit him the second the door opened. Grateful for it, he sank down onto the couch, head in hands, praying that whoever she was, and whatever she was going to do, at least she would let him stay inside.
Dizzy and drifting, he jumped out of his skin when something touched his face. His eyes flew open to see an object rushing at him. The hand he raised to defend himself was instantly grabbed, hard, and held.
“Don’t. Just don’t. One more time and you lose the hand. You hit me once and got away with it. Do it again and you’ll never have to strain to hit a high note again. Are we clear on this?” Her voice was firm, and he didn’t doubt for a moment that she meant what she said. Shocked, he yanked his hand away, mumbling under his breath. She nodded. “Did you call me a bitch? Well I’ve been called that before. Now look at me for a minute.” He complied, almost afraid not to.
Amanda saw him flinch when she approached again with the warm cloth she held in her hand, and felt a little guiltily for having snapped at him. “It’s okay, I’m not gonna hurt you. It’s only a washcloth.”
He nodded his head slightly, still edgy.
“What are you going to do with me?”
She knelt in front of him and started wiping away dirt, sweat, and blood from the lip she’d split when she hit him. As the grime washed away, evidence of existing cuts and bruises came into sight. Someone had already been at this kid, and at him good. She felt a chill down her spine. What had she gotten herself into? Added to that, she was very much afraid she knew who he was.
“I’m not going to do anything to you, Taylor. You are Taylor, right?”
He just stared at her, not quite understanding her, “Yeah I am. Who are you?”
“My names Amanda. Hold still now.”
Taylor looked at her, waiting for more information, but she had fallen silent. His eyes flitted around the room, looking for what he didn’t know, his thoughts racing. “I’ve really done it now, who is she? God, I don’t know where I am… So cold, why can’t I get warm? God everything hurts…”
Amanda’s hand came at his eye and he flinched a little. Her voice came again, the hard edge gone now, soothing, “No no, it’s okay…”
He looked into her eyes and wished he could believe her. “It’s not okay. It won’t ever be okay.” He looked away, his mind refusing to give him peace. “God I want to go home, I don’t even know where home is, who is she anyway?” Taylor accepted her ministrations wordlessly. Somehow the warm cloth against his face was soothing. Something had to be, his mind was jumping all over the place. “I want to go home, God I want to go home.” It was very nearly a prayer, replaying in his head. He was pulled from his reverie by a voice.
“I said… are you even old enough to be driving? Whose car is that, anyway?”
His eyes narrowed, irrational anger suddenly swelling in him. What business was it of hers? He was already in more trouble than he could stand. Thinking she was berating him, the anger in him took control.
“How is it any of your business!!! Think I stole it? It’s not bad enough that I’m a drugged out freak, now I’m a car thief?! Where the hell do you think you’re coming from?!” He had moved forward toward her, fists clenched, and she scooted back, out of range if he should strike out.
She was completely taken aback. He had been all but comatose two seconds earlier and now he was yelling at her, looking for all the world as if punching her lights out was the thing he most wanted to do.
She felt herself being sucked into his anger and snapped back, “I’m coming from my front lawn, the one you just crashed into remember?! You pull up here, fall onto my lawn, practically pass out out there, and it’s none of my business how you came to be here?!?!”
“Don’t pull that with me, you’re the one that brought me in here. I didn’t have anything to do with it. You should have just left me there!!”
Exhaustion suddenly replaced the fury in him, and he fell back against the couch cushions, too drained to continue, unsure even what he was yelling about.
She was too stunned to speak. Not suffering Taylor’s exhaustion and trauma, her anger was far less quick to back off and drain away.
Knowing that she was inches away from just smacking him, she climbed to her feet, storming into the kitchen, her mind a whirl.
“What the hell did he get himself into? What the hell have I gotten myself into? He’s insane, he has to be, people don’t just go off like that. God, what happened to him? There must be people looking for him, this is just great Amanda, just great. What the hell are you going to do with him?” She sat, brooding, on her counter, raiding her memory for anything she knew about him.
She had heard a few rumors about the band and Taylor’s emotional stability or lack thereof. She didn’t really pay attention to the rumors but now wished she had. It was something about Taylor and Zac and a drug problem but other than that she wasn’t sure.
The severity of the cuts and bruises on him pointed to some sort of abuse. He was obviously very unstable. The last thing she needed was another strung out junkie on her hands. Especially one that was world famous, probably worth quite a bit of cash, and just as probably being hunted for high and low by parents, police, the damnd FBI for all she knew.
She let her gaze fall on him again. It was hard to look at the boy sitting in her living room, and see him as the Taylor Hanson everyone knew. He was not the star that was world famous, the object of rumor and mystery. He was a broken child. And now, he was a child who was indeed her problem. Whether she liked it or not, he was here. And he was right, she was the one who had brought him here.
Sighing, she went back into the living room, approaching slowly. Despite her care, he still startled, this time cringing back into the couch, instead of striking out. Frowning at how erratic he was, she knelt in front of him. “I’m not going to hurt you but I need to put something on those cuts. They’re going to get worse.”
When he spoke, his face and voice were insolent.
“Oh why do you care? Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“‘Cuz, I don’t want you bleeding all over my living room, thank you.”
There was a tinge of self pity in his tone that brought out irritation in her. Whatever his problems were, they weren’t going to be helped any by falling into “Nobody cares” syndrome, and worse, it would stand right on her last nerve.
“I’m going to get something for you to put on them. If you’d rather do it yourself, since I don’t care and all…” He winced at the sarcasm. “…that would be just fine, since it doesn’t look as if your hands are in any way broken. I’ll be right back.”
She headed down the hall to the bathroom, absurdly close to laughter. Something about the annoyed look on his face when she dared to speak to him as if he were human. As she piled peroxide and band-aids into her hands, she wracked her brain for a way to get him talking. She really was curious to know how Taylor Hanson came to be on her front lawn, beaten and broken, driving a car that she knew damn well wasn’t his, but she didn’t think he was likely to come right out and say it.
Taylor didn’t know what to make of her. One minutes she was threatening to deck him, the next she was soothing, then she was making fun of him. He knew part of his confusion was his own rattled brain, and it really bugged him. Somehow he knew that holding his own with this woman was going to be hard, and he wanted his wits about him. He watched, amazed, as she trooped into the room and dumped an armload of first aid supplies in his lap.
“Here.” She handed him a small mirror. “Clean yourself up, so you don’t have to deal with my hands coming at you, and give me your phone number. I want to call your parents.”
She was unprepared for the reaction she got. She was suddenly showered with band-aids, first aid cream and peroxide, as he jumped to his feet, halfway to the door before she could get her act together to stop him. She caught him with his hand on the doorknob, grabbing him around the waste with a wince, knowing the contact was probably going to get her belted again.
“Come on, Taylor, it’s okay, I won’t call anyone.”
He pulled away from her, yanking the door open. “No you won’t because I won’t be here. I’m sorry, this is not your problem.” He tried to move through the open door, but met an obstacle that was Amanda.
She stood there, unmoving. “Nope. Go sit down.”
His frustration mounted, rapidly turning to anger.
“Get out of my way!! You can’t keep me here! This is kidnapping or something!!!”
She found herself laughing. “Good! If you think you’re being kidnapped, go call the cops and tell them where you are. Phones right over there. Otherwise go sit back down.”
He stood there, indecisive, her laughter having taken the edge off his panic and anger.
“Amanda, you can’t call them. You can’t. You have no idea what’s going on. Please. I know I can’t leave, I don’t even have any place to go… but please, don’t call them?” He was hanging on the door handle now, no longer trying to escape, but using it for support. She saw how close to collapse he was, and gently took his arm.
“Come on then. Sit down and tell me what I’ve gotten myself into. I won’t make any decisions until you’ve told me what’s up.”
Defeated, he nodded, and let her help him back into the living room. He settled back onto the couch, picking up the mirror and the peroxide, and silently set about patching himself up. Knowing he was stalling, Amanda sat on the floor in front of him, and plunged in.
“Listen, I’ve heard some stories and…” Amanda stopped for a second, “What happened? I don’t mean to pry but you look horrible. All I know is what I’ve heard on the radio, and to be honest, I wasn’t interested enough to pay much attention.”
He snorted derisively. “Well thank God I’m not shattering any illusions.” He took a deep breath in, “The stories you’ve heard are probably not that far from the truth.” He fell silent for a few moments. “A couple of months ago, I was on top of the world.”
She nodded. “And now?”
He laughed, but there was no humor in it. “Now I’m not.”
“Well, no offense sweetie, but that’s pretty obvious. Tell me what happened.”
He stared at her, eyes drilling into hers. He wanted to tell her. He didn’t know why, but the thought of getting it all out, to someone who wouldn’t be shattered by it, who might actually be able to say something that made sense, who wouldn’t cry… Suddenly it seemed of incredible importance, telling this woman. He silently set all of the first aid supplies on the floor, never breaking eye contact, and curled himself up on the end of the couch. He gestured for her to sit on the other end, he wanted her on his level. She got up and situated herself, careful not to touch him.
“I’ll tell you. But don’t say anything, okay? Not until I’m finished?” She nodded, and he sighed deeply. “Okay. This is what happened…” Playing absently with a string hanging from the quilt that was thrown over the back of the couch, he told her.