Chapter Seventeen

About 2:00 a.m. the next morning

"You need some sleep, Tay," Zac said softly. He placed his hands gently on his brother's shoulders. "I don't want to leave either, but you're a mess. Sleep, food, shower...we can come back in the morning."
Taylor shook his head stubbornly.
"No. And that's final."
Zac sighed raggedly, tired and ready to agree with his brother.
"Fine. If you can stay, so can I." Having said that, he sat down in Taylor's lap. Tay almost pushed him off, but stopped when he remembered that the last time Zac had sat in his lap he'd been seven, and let him stay there. Tired and depressed though he was, Taylor still loved his little brother, and didn't mind if he wanted to sit in his lap. Wrapping his arms around Zac like he was still a small child, Taylor gazed at August. If it hadn't been for the constant whirring of an oxygen tank, he would have supposed she was dead. Her hair hung limply around her face in sweaty chunks, her skin pale and deathly to the touch, and her eyes closed and lips appearing to be swollen. Her face, the face that Taylor had thought so beautiful, now looked as though it had been dragged through a patch of rose thorns. There was a diagonal gash almost hidden by her hair line that had required about five stitches, and numerous small scratches along her neck and upper hair line. Taylor reached over and ran a finger lightly over her hand, over the two rings, (An Irish claddagh, (wedding band) and a gold band with blue and white saphires) and down one of her fingers. He suddenly buried his face Zac's hair, needing something to hang onto for the time being. Zac, knowing better than to shove him away, put an arm around Taylor's neck and let him shake.

When sunlight filled the room at nine-thirty the next morning, neither Zac nor Taylor were awake. Tay had cried himself to sleep, and Zac didn't want to get up after his brother was asleep so stayed in his lap. Zac himself wanted to burst into tears right then and there, but kept his composure. Tay was the first to wake up, yawning deeply and forgetting instinctively to stretch. He probably would have thrown Zac across the floor if he stretched in that position. Zac mumbled something, then slowly opening his eyes to look at his brother. They exchanged a glance, and Zac got up so Taylor could stretch. Zac then sat down on the windowsill and let Taylor have the chair to himself again. They sat like that in silence, neither speaking to each other or looking at anything in particular. This is probably why Zac fell off the windowsill and Taylor jumped three inches when August started coughing.
"Ow...shit, that hurt," Zac grumbled, rubbing his backside. He and Tay shared a hopeful glance at August, who coughed again, and opened her eyes. She looked around groggily, then let her gaze fall on Tay.
"I told you I had a purpose in this life," she croaked softly.

August had finally insisted that Tay go home, get some sleep, and come back. She wasn't allowed to go home for another day or two, anyway. Not with the shape she was in. It had ended up with a broken ankle, a concussion, three pulled ligaments, and a few cracked ribs. She'd be fine, give or take a week or two for her ribs to heal and an extra month for her ankle.
"Tay...please...I hate to see you like that. You're a wreck."
Taylor stood up, and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. She gently pushed him away.
"Don't kiss me good night," she whispered. He looked at her strangely.
"Why not?" He looked genuinely confused. She smiled slightly, almost ruefully.
"Because the last thing I did with my mom...she came into my room, right before going to the symphony, and asked for a goodnight kiss. So I kissed her cheek, and watched her go, thinking I'd see her in the morning. Except, when I woke up, she was now I have a serious thing against people kissing me good night. If you don't kiss me, then you'll have a reason to come back later."
Tay nodded, only half comprehending but letting it be anyway. If that was her fancy, that was what he would do.

She'd also been talking to Diana, who had stayed afterwards to take care of all the paperwork.
"I can't do this anymore," she said softly to Diana, who sat in the same chair her two sons had occupied for the night.
"Pardon, honey?"
August looked up.
"I said, I can't do this anymore. He's a monster. I guess my brother was right...I'd be better off with Aunt Meg."
Diana nodded knowingly.
"You're very brave, August...I don't know how you lasted as long as you did. You should have seen poor Tay...he was a nervous wreck. Though, I suppose at one point we all were nervous wrecks..." she held up her hands to show the bitten off nails, red and raw from bleeding after bitten past the quick. August just chuckled, finally feeling loved, for once in the past year.

Taylor was on his way back in, after a good power nap, shower, and hot meal, to see August, when he saw the police officers outside the psychiatric ward, talking to August's father, who was no longer drunk, but sober and pissed beyond hell.
"I swear, I didn't do it on purpose! The little brat didn't even move!"
Taylor felt an anger well up from deep within him, that hatred that had been growing since August had first told him about her father. Mr. Maguire turned, and seeing Taylor growling under his breath, shot at him,
"What are you looking at, you little punk? You didn't move, either..."
Taylor couldn't hold it in any longer.
"What am I looking at? I'm looking at a fucking monster! You could have killed your own daughter, and you couldn't care less! Bullshit you didn't do it on purpose!"
The police officers exchanged worried looks, and one started to say something.
"Kid, calm down..."
Taylor shook his head gravely.
"No. I'll go, I'll leave you alone, but not before I give you something that comes from both August and her mother..." he reared back, and with his better hand (that wasn't wrapped up in a Tensor bandage) he punched the man, right between the eyes, making a gush of blood come from his nose. Satisfied, he walked away, before the officers could do anything.

"My pen writes of a world that might have been, a world of my imagining."

-Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

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Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Eighteen