Chapter: 3 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Zac stared at him for a minute. He was just too pissed off. He really didn’t know why, but the urge to just whip something at Taylor was almost too much for him. It was Taylor’s fault they were back home. It was Taylor’s fault the band was ended. For all he knew it was Taylor’s fault he had the flu. And it was definitely Taylor’s fault that he couldn’t move without something hurting.
Taylor stood at the bottom of the stairs, gazing wistfully towards the top.
Jess tugged at his hand, impatient with him.
“Come on Tay, it’s just ten stairs, not Mt. Everest. Up and down, simple as that.”
He looked down at her, wondering if she had any idea. He shook his head, and sighed. “Jess, ten steps is a mountain. Trust me.”
Again her hands hit her hips. “Well, you’d better try, if you can’t get upstairs, how are you gonna sleep?”
“On the couch. I always liked it better anyway.” He looked up the stairs again, then down into her eyes, and nodded. “Okay. But I make no promises.”
Slowly he started negotiating the first step. As he climbed up, his head spun, and he nearly toppled backwards. “Well, crap.” He muttered aloud. He glanced up, sighing almost pitifully and then began to again ascend the stairs in the only way he could see fit to get him to the top with the guarantee that he wouldn’t fall and kill himself… on all fours, ignoring the persistent giggling coming from his sister.
He paused, at the top, sitting on the landing, wondering if climbing back upright was such a good idea. The way his head was spinning, he could see himself going right back to the bottom of the stairs, in a heap. Deciding that a compromise was the best solution, he crawled a few feet away from the landing, and hauled himself to his feet. He looked at Jess, who was sticking, limpet like, to his side.
“I’ll make it now, Jess, okay? Thanks…”
She looked doubtful, but nodded, “If you really think so. Yell if you need help.” She wandered off to her own room, hoping that her brother wouldn’t get weird and start staring at dust again.
Taylor pulled himself along the wall, toward his room. Whatever he’d come up here for, was now a distant memory. All he wanted was to throw himself into bed and sleep for a year. As he dragged himself through the bedroom door, he heard the unmistakable sound of an IM ding, coming from his computer. Zac was sitting, back towards the door, at the computer desk.
“Whatcha doing Zac?” Taylor asked, from his position in the doorway.
Zac jumped, startled, then groaned as pain seared through him. His ribs ached abominably. “Nothing, just online ’cause I can’t sleep. I’m too sore. I can’t breath. I keep coughing. I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”
“Gee Zac, anything else? You trying for a world record?” Taylor staggered across the room to the computer, his elbows resting on the desk.
Zac, somewhat annoyed at the lack of sympathy for his misery, turned away from the monitor and gave Taylor a look, somewhat crossed between a “What do you want” and a “What the hell are you doing” glare.
“Think you could get off the desk? It’s a little hard to type, with your elbows on the keyboard.”
Taylor shrugged. “Got to hold myself up with something.”
Zac rolled his eyes.
“Whatever,” he muttered, and turned his attention back to the keyboard. Unfortunately for him, Taylor showed no signs of moving.
“Who you talking to? And why are you using my screen name? You didn’t read my mail did you?” Suddenly Taylor, who had been in a semi decent mood before, felt himself growing irritated.
“No loser, I didn’t read your stupid mail. I just used your name ’cause it was the first one that came up, geez. Excuse me.”
Zac’s sarcasm hit a nerve. “Well, next time use your own damn screen name. That’s what it’s there for.” Taylor used the desk to haul himself the rest of the way up, and walked, somewhat dazed by the rush of dizziness that swept over him, towards his bed.
“What’s the big deal? Afraid one of your little online girlfriends will like me better than you?” Zac smirked.
“I don’t have any online girlfriends…” Taylor cut himself off. Zac snotty tone was just too much for him. “Why am I even answering you? Just get off my name, and get on your own.” He turned to get his blanket off the bed, thought better of it, and flopped down onto it instead.
Zac stared at him for a minute. He was just too pissed off. He really didn’t know why, but the urge to just whip something at Taylor was almost too much for him. It was Taylor’s fault they were back home. It was Taylor’s fault the band was ended. For all he knew it was Taylor’s fault he had the flu. And it was definitely Taylor’s fault that he couldn’t move without something hurting. He’d had all he could take of his brother’s face, after the nightmare trip home.
He knew he was being unfair, but he really didn’t care. He’d been so happy. Stopping and going home wasn’t something he’d ever wanted to do. He knew it wasn’t really Taylor’s fault, but exhaustion, trauma and illness had all combined to sap his patience, and turn his usually sunny disposition, sour and gloomy.
“Aren’t you going back downstairs?” he asked, in an exasperated tone.
Taylor cracked open an eye. “In a minute. Resting up for the journey back down. Got a problem with it?”
Scowling, and restraining himself, from giving the smartass comment that had risen to his lips, Zac turned back to the screen. He typed in a response to Tay’s friend, who he’d neglected to inform of his identity, and found himself pondering the name his brother was using. He didn’t like it.
Glancing back at Tay, he saw that his brother’s eyes were closed. Good. He quickly signed off, and onto their dad’s name, glancing again at Tay, to see if he’d noticed the log on tone. Nope. Still just lying there. He keyed into their screen-names, pulled up Tay’s, and, smirking for all he was worth, reached for the “delete” key. Just as he was about to press it, he paused. Glancing at Tay, who now appeared to be sound asleep, he thought back to the last time he’d messed with his stuff. Sure, he thought this was funny, and a few months ago, would have done it with not even a second thought, but the persistent ache in his side was a grim reminder, that this was not his Taylor. This was not the Taylor he could play with. This Taylor was potentially dangerous. Sighing, he exited the screen, and logged back on, this time to his own name. He surfed for a while, his sights finally landing on a game with the unlikely name of “Slap a Spice Girl.” Within minutes, he was thoroughly engrossed, forgetting his flu, forgetting his ribs, and ignoring the nagging cough that nothing seemed to get rid of.
Taylor was very nearly dozing, when he heard Zac’s muffled laugh, followed by a burst of coughing. Somehow he didn’t like the sound of either. He opened his eyes, and peered in Zac’s direction, but he couldn’t make out what the kid was doing. He was hacking his head off, though, and it was annoying. He stared absently at him for a while, lacking the energy to get up and see what was going on. A renewed burst of giggles from Zac got him motivated.
“He’s having way too much fun for a sick kid, and he’s on my name…” he thought. “He’s humiliating me, I’m sure…” sighing, he dragged himself out of bed, and headed for Zac. He’d just about reached him, when Zac suddenly doubled over, coughing violently. Taylor grabbed him just as he was about to fall out of the chair.
Zac had never even seen it coming. He was so engrossed in his little game, that he had forgotten his flu, and forgotten that Tay was even in the room. His nagging cough had barely penetrated his consciousness. When it suddenly went from a barely noticed irritant, to a debilitating attack, he wasn’t ready for it, and it nearly threw him onto the floor. He couldn’t stop coughing to take a breath, and his face began to go an alarming dusky purple. He didn’t notice that Taylor had caught him, he didn’t realize anything beyond his panicky struggle to breathe. His nails dug into Taylor’s arm, bringing thin blood. Taylor winced, but he didn’t let go.
He was getting scared now. He didn’t know if it was possible to cough yourself to death, but he was afraid Zac might just be about to test it. He tightened his hold on him, pulling him in close to his body. He didn’t realize that instinct was making him do it, pull him in to feel his breathing, he just knew he couldn’t let him go. He was scared. When Zac’s color started to darken to gray, he knew they were in trouble.
He hollered the first name that came to his mind.
Ike was arguing with his mother. She’d suggested to him what he considered the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. He was losing the argument, and was considerably less than pleased about it, when he heard Taylor’s yell. Hearing the panic in it, he was on his feet and up the stairs in an instant. Diana on his heels. He burst into the room to find a terrified Taylor, arms wrapped tight around Zac, who appeared to be choking to death. He hadn’t taken a step when the coughing spell suddenly let up. Zac sagged in Taylor’s arms, gasping for breath, eyes streaming.
He was shaking all over, and Taylor was afraid if he let him go, he’d fall.
More than a little shaken, he shot Ike a ‘help me’ look, and Ike nodded, taking Zac away from him, and leading him to Tay’s bed. Taylor, feeling about as shook up as Zac, sank down into the nearest chair. The thought that, no matter where they were, home, on the road, they were still just falling apart, wouldn’t leave his mind. He watched Zac struggling to catch his breath, and couldn’t help wondering when, or if, things would finally be back to normal.