[HANSON STORIES]

In the Absence of Faith

Chapter Three



You make believe that nothing is wrong
Until youíre cryiní, cryiní on me
You make believe that life is so long
Until youíre dyiní, dyiní on me
You ruin everything and you kept fuckiní with me
Until itís over I wonít be the sameÖ



He knew they were discussing him, studying him, judging him in their minds like they had so often the past few hours; and he feared that maybe, just maybe, he was making the biggest mistake of his life. Gazing solemnly at the luggage carriage, Taylor drew in a shaky breath, wishing that his brothers would end their isolated conversation.

"What the hell is wrong with me? Why God, why are you DOING THIS TO ME?" Lifting his head heavenward, Taylor blinked back tears, running a hand slowly across his face and coughing painfully. Glancing back over at his brothers, he met Zacís eyes for a fleeting moment before both turned away, but in that time he saw betrayal, so strong it hurt him physically.

"Iím killing him," Taylor whispered, the haunting truth weakening his knees, "Iím killing everything between us, andÖand I donít know how to stop." Leaning against a support beam, he shivered, wrapping his sweatshirt around him tighter. "Why canít I tell them, theyíre my own brothers, they trust me to spill my guts, and Iím killing them. God, why canít I believe in them? Why canít I fucking believe in myself."

Suddenly tired, Taylor felt his eyelids grow heavy as he stood with his cheek to the cool metal post, reality letting way to the frightening subconscious world that he so hated, for he no longer found peace in dreams.

**********************

Confusion staring back at him, confusion so pain-filled that it chilled him to the bone, and he had to look away. "IkeÖIke, heís scaring me, he looks soÖso out of it."

"Zac, he obviously wants to be alone and think for a while, otherwise heíd be over here with us. So will you stop pestering him? God, I donít blame him for wanting some peace."

"Do you not care about him Ike? Do you not love him? He could be DYING and you wouldnít give one fuck about him!" Nostrils flaring, Zac glared at Isaac, his brother swallowing hard as he involuntarily backed up a few steps. Raising his hand, Zac fought desperately to regain control, at that point in time wanting so much to just haul off and punch his brother that it scared him. Lowering his arm, Zac slowly sat down in the middle of the baggage claim, tucking his knees to his chest.

"HowÖhow can you say that Zac? How can you say that to me? You know I careÖ"

"IkeÖI didnít mean it, Iím sorry, I just wish youíd listen to me for a change instead of walking around acting like God almighty!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Grasping Zacís collar, Isaac yanked him to his feet, eyes blazing. "Maybe you should watch what you say and keep your mouth shut if you donít mean it!"

"You never listen to me! You always have the last say in everything! Why wonít you listen to me for a change? Youíre not as smart as you think you are, Ike!"

"Forget it! All you wanna do is pressure him, he ainít gonna tell you that way, and you know it! You just donít wanna admit that youíre wrong!"

"What if Iím right? What if Iím right and by the time you agree with me itís too late? Then what will we do? Itíll be too fucking late and heíll be gone!" Breathing hard, Isaac pushed his brother away, running a hand through his sweaty hair timidly.

"I just donít know what to do anymore, Zac, I just donít know whatÖ" Feeling a tap on his shoulder, Isaac reeled around quickly, standing face to face with his father.

"Get Tay, our rideís waiting." Nodding his head at his fatherís tired words, Isaac watched him walk away, sighing as he motioned for Zac.

"Ike, heís asleep, do we hafta wake him up?" Unable to hide a small smile, Zac lightly brushed a strand of hair off Taylorís face, happy to see his brother peaceful for once.

"Fine, fine, Iíll carry him, God." Giving in to Zacís pleading look, Isaac gently scooped Taylor into his arms, resting his brotherís head against his shoulder. "Shit, heís lost weight." Biting his lower lip, Isaac glanced down at the sleeping form, shaking his head. "Heís so weak, Zac, heís so helpless."

"But why does he keep running away from us, Ike? How can we help him when he doesnít want us to?" Pushing open the door with his shoulder, Isaac left Zacís unanswerable question hanging in the air. Shuffling through the parking lot, fresh snow soaking his sneakers, he felt a tear trickling down his cheek, its trail freezing in the frigid autumn air. "Please talk to us, Tay, please, IÖI donít know what Iíd do without you," Isaac whispered into Taylorís ear, a small groan escaping his brotherís lips as he shifted slightly. "I miss you Tay, please come back to me."

**********************

Slowly opening his eyes, Taylor moved to stretch, moaning as the sore muscles in his abdomen constricted. Disoriented by his surroundings, he blinked as bright lights shown in his face before continuing on towards their destination and leaving him in the dark. "Hey, youíre awake." The voice coming from above, Taylor noticed for the first time against whom he rested, licking dry lips as his brother stared at him. "I know you can talk, Tay, I wouldnít mind if youíd at least show some sign that you acknowledge my existence."

Frowning at his Isaacís sarcastic tone, Taylor opened his mouth to speak, grimacing at the pain in his throat. Motioning for a drink, Taylor patiently waited as his brother dug through his backpack, grabbing the water bottle from his hands. Squeezing the cold liquid into his mouth, he swallowed greedily, refusing to stop even as he choked in his haste. Wiping his mouth, he handed the drink back to Isaac, drawing in a shaky breath. Gazing out the window, Taylor saw nothing save for the double yellow lines below, becoming hypnotized by their pattern.

"Are you gonna talk to me now?" Growling softly, Isaac repeated himself calmly, annoyed by his brotherís lack of response. Waving a hand in front of Taylorís face, he finally broke the trance, rewarded with Taylorís infuriated eyes burrowing into his own. Rolling over carefully, tears forming from the agony of the movement, Taylor continued to ignore Isaac, swallowing back a sudden feeling of nausea. Noticing the distress in his brotherís actions, Isaac shifted closer, gently stroking Taylorís head. "Zacís worried about you."

The statement striking a nerve, Taylor glanced at the front seat, his younger brotherís face illuminated periodically whenever a lone car chanced to pass them on the desolate road. Sighing, he turned his attention back to Isaac. "Are you?"

Caught off guard by his brotherís choice of words, Isaac angrily replied, "Why would you think I wouldnít be?" Awaiting an answer, Isaac studied Taylor closer, clenching his fists when he realized heíd already drifted back to sleep. "Fuck Tay, why do you hafta be this way?"

**********************

"ZacÖZachary, wake up!" Eyelids fluttering open, Zac blinked, rubbing his eyes so to clear the sleep and allow him to focus properly. "Help me carry the suitcases, try being useful for once." Slowly unbuckling his seatbelt, he glanced at his fatherís impatient face, frowning. Climbing out of the car, Zac stumbled through the freshly fallen snow to the trunk, rubbing his arms as the cold air bit into his flesh.

Pulling out each bag, Zac piled them off to his left, glancing around every so often at his new and strange surroundings. Slamming the trunk, he scratched his head, unsure of how to manage carrying everything alone. "Damn Tay, all youíre missing is the kitchen sink." Picking up a light blue duffel, he dropped it quickly, groaning at its weight. "Okay, so I found the sink."

"ShitÖZac!" Lunging at his brother, Isaac shoved him into a snow bank and scooped up his bag, hugging it to his chest as he glared across the way. Shivering, Zac wiped ice from his eyes, his clothes saturated. "Hell, when are you gonna learn to be more careful with my stuff? You couldíve broken my amp!"

Noticing the complete shock on his brotherís face, Zac burst out giggling, forgetting everything for the moment save how to be happy. "IkeÖIkeÖI doubt this place has indoor plumbing let alone electricity!" Unable to contain himself anymore, Isaac joined in his brotherís laughter, shaking his head all the while.

"ZacÖyou lookÖso stupidÖ"

"Dude not as stupid as you look for dragging an amp up here!"

"ButÖbut last time I left it at home mom used it as a doorstop." Wiping at the tears running down his face, Zac stood, brushing the remaining snow from his pants. Face flush, he fought to catch his breath as he proceeded to drag three suitcases towards the cabin, his thoughts drifting as Isaac continued to babble on about the dangers of using Windex near electrical wiring.

"FuckÖIke, whereís Tay?" One foot on the first porch step, Zac let the bags slip from his hands, watching them sink beneath the white blanket underfoot. Eyes wide, he awaited Isaacís answer, prompting him with raised eyebrows.

"Tay ainít my concern anymore. He thinks I could care less about him, and Iím sick of trying to prove otherwise." Jaw set firmly, Isaac climbed the rest of the stairs, shaking off Zacís desperate hands.

"IkeÖyou canít walk away from him! He loves youÖand you know he does! You canít just close your eyes and wait for him to fix everything. You promisedÖ"

"What I promised him is none of your damn business. Are you oblivious to what goes on around you, Zac? Are you too caught up in what others think of you to notice that maybe things arenít the same for me? Iíve always been there for him, Iíve seen him laugh, Iíve seen him cry, Iíve held him as he pukes his fucking guts out. And this is the thanks I get, you saying I donít give a fuck about him, and him believing you."

**********************

Head propped up against the door, his jacket serving as a pillow, Taylor lay silent, watching his brotherís outside the opposite window through blurry eyes. He longed to be apart of the family again, he longed to share in their laughter, in their sadness, in their love, but he knew he was becoming no more than a hindrance. A burden to everyone.

Soon after Isaac and Zac disappeared from sight, the outside lamp flicked off, leaving Taylor in complete darkness. As the minutes slowly ticked by, he felt the temperature steadily decreasing, frost forming on the windows. His breath forming clouds the drifted into oblivion, he rolled over, wrapping a tattered blanket tighter around his body. Hanging onto consciousness as long as possible, Taylor murmured a single prayer before the shroud of sleep engulfed him.

"God, if youíre out there, please, donít let me wake up in the morning."


************************************************************************* Musical credit given to Limp Bizkit for "Re-Arranged."


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