Ahh, chapter twenty-nine. The final chapter of this monstrous story :) Thank you all so much for reading this and reviewing and favoriting and...yeah! Everything! :) Without you, it wouldn't have come to be. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I hope you have enjoyed this story and all its drama. It wasn't supposed to turn out quite like this, and I suppose I could have written it better, but all in all I think it turned out okay, in the end :) It's also, thus far, the longest story I've ever written! 449 pages! Huzzah! Thanks so much, everyone, for reading and reviewing! You are to thank for this story!
I AM OFFICIALLY SICK AND TIRED OF THIS SITE MESSING UP! Seriously, either completely update it or stop updating it. It won't let me edit anything. The whole edit page won't show up and if it does, it doesn't have any of the 'B' 'I' 'U' or line stuff at the top. Does anyone know what is going on? Because I am not posting a single thing until this is fixed. It's a huge freaking hassle having to go about it like this, like I am to post this chapter. Sorry for the rant, but it's very freaking annoying and happens all the time. I'm at my rope's end. Sigh. Help?
Now, for the last time in this story...onward!
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Labels
Answers. He needed answers.
So far he hadn't found any, hadn't figured out why the emotion taster was unmoving with his eyes open. Alive, but…so still and quiet. He couldn't even hear Taylor breathing. He'd asked if he could close his eyes – had stated he was going to – but Corbin had said he shouldn't because they needed to keep him in the same position, eyes and all, for now, until they figured out what was wrong with him and how to fix it.
Lo wanted to fix it. He'd told Corbin to. He wanted things fixed.
He just didn't know how to go about doing it. Apparently it wasn't 'simple', as Corbin had stated. Why it wasn't simple, he didn't know. But he was determined to find answers, which was why a plan was already forming in his mind.
Currently, though, he was sitting next to Taylor, otherwise alone in the room. He might as well have been alone due to the fact Taylor was silent and unresponsive. Corbin had left earlier to attend to 'business', whatever that meant. It had better mean finding answers, that was all Lo knew, because if it didn't there would be hell to pay.
Taylor hadn't moved in the slightest since he'd been hit by that witch - and that had been hours ago. How many, Lo didn't know. Corbin had snatched his watch and phone to keep him from counting, from worrying, but damn it, what else was he supposed to do while his friend remained unresponsive and still as a statue?
He scrubbed a hand over his face and shifted his gaze back down toward Taylor. He was still pale but not as much as before. Then again, that might have just been the way the light was now splaying over him in the room. What the hell had that woman done to him? No one should have been this still and silent. Lo couldn't hear his breaths, couldn't see his chest moving…he looked fucking dead.
The damn picture Shelia had shown him flashed in front of his eyes all over again and he roughly shoved it back.
Taylor wasn't dead - he was just…unresponsive.
And very, very still.
He'd be okay, though.
Of course he would. Corbin was supposed to be tracking down answers. If he didn't, Lo himself would. One way or another, they'd figure this out and Taylor would be fine. They'd fix this, damn it. They had to.
There had to be a damn way to fix it.
Lo clenched his hands into fists and angrily got to his feet. What the fuck was taking Corbin so long? How long could it take to question a witch?
Let me talk to her for just two damn minutes, he thought with a sneer. I'll have her talking.
If she didn't talk, he'd beat her face in. He didn't care. She was to blame for all of this anyway. She was the reason Taylor was like he was now.
Lo glanced back down at the emotion taster and grit his teeth when he realized he had been unconsciously trailing his fingers over Taylor's forehead, just above his eyebrows. He didn't pull his hand away, though. Instead he tried to fight away the urge to close Taylor's eyes. He wanted to close them, wanted to stop seeing them open and unblinking, but Corbin had told him to keep them as they were, just in case. Just in case of what, he didn't know, but he didn't want to accidentally make things worse just by closing someone's eyes.
He pulled away from the emotion taster and growled lowly to himself. He wanted this fixed, damn it. Why couldn't he just go and talk to that bitch? She was in the damn building but Lo wasn't allowed to go to her. Corbin had told him to stay with Taylor in case anything happened, and hell, what was that supposed to mean? Did he think something was going to happen? Something like 'Taylor waking up' or something like 'get the defibrillators ready'?
He scrubbed a hand over his face and released a heavy sigh.
The door to the room suddenly opened and he jerked in alarm, his hands clenching into fists before he caught the whiff of Corbin's strong aftershave and allowed himself to relax somewhat. Corbin entered the room and shook his head at Lo's probing gaze.
Lo glared. What the hell was that supposed to mean?
"I guess we will just have to wait and see if it wears off," Corbin said calmly. "I will try to help as best I can, but unless I know exactly what happened…"
"Didn't she tell you? She shocked him!"
"Yes," Corbin said patiently, "but as I said before, that alone wouldn't cause this, Logan. Perhaps the handcuffs touched him as well."
Lo paused. A weight was forming in his stomach. "At the same time he was electrocuted?" he grunted.
"Yes or no."
"I think it likely."
"So what the fuck's wrong with him?"
"I don't quite know just yet. He seems to be either in a coma or a state of paralysis…or both."
"Both?" That certainly didn't sound good.
"Yes, Logan. Clearly his eyes are still open. Normally when one is in a coma, they are closed. I think his body might be paralyzed."
"And he's in a coma."
Holy shit, I'm killing that bitch.
He started for the door.
"Logan, violence solves nothing."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure it solves a lot. Just ask the world wars."
Now Corbin stepped in front of the door, blocking him. "Violence won't help Taylor."
Lo narrowed his eyes. "It will make me feel better."
"Stop saying that."
"What would you have me say?"
"I don't fucking know. Talk normally. Are you going to help him or not?"
"I'm not sure what I can do. I'm only an energy alter, Logan. This seems physical."
Lo felt like punching someone. "I know that," he hissed through clenched teeth. "But there's a way to fix this."
"It might wear off," Corbin told him. "I will try to help, but I really don't believe there's much I can do."
"Might wear off. So he could just fucking stay like this forever."
That pit in his stomach was growing thicker and heavier.
It was hurting.
That was it.
Lo swung his fist and punched Corbin right in the face.
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
Ten minutes. Ten measly minutes was all Lo had to talk to Evelyn and possibly beat the living daylights out of her even though Corbin had made him swear he wouldn't as part of the agreement so he could even go talk to her in the first place. Of course, Corbin wasn't even with him at the moment…what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
Oh, but it'd hurt Evelyn. Just like she'd hurt Taylor. Oh yes.
Lo closed the door behind him and entered the room. Evelyn was sitting at a table, her hands cuffed to a table leg in front of her. She looked up as Lo walked toward her.
"You," she hissed, eyes narrowing.
"Me," Lo replied, stopping on the other side of the table. "What the fuck did you do to Taylor?"
"You know damn well who," Lo growled, eyes narrowing into small slits. If she thought he wouldn't smack her down just because she was cuffed and was a girl, she had another thing coming.
"That guy? His name is Taylor. Hah! That's a girl's name."
"It's both," Lo snapped. "Now, what did you do to him?"
"I told you - I shocked him."
"The handcuffs touched him."
"Maybe they did. What's that matter?"
Lo growled. "How do we fix it?"
"What you did!"
"All I did was shock him. How was I supposed to know that he was so fragile a little shock would take him out?" She shrugged like it was no big deal, though it seemed a bit difficult with her slightly hunched over position due to her cuffed hands.
Lo fought the urge to dive across the table and claw at her throat. Corbin would definitely see those marks. "How do we fix it?"
"All I did was shock him. If something else happened…well." She smirked. "I had nothing to do with that. So you're barking up the wrong tree there, dog-man."
"Now, you don't get to call me that," Lo said, his voice surprisingly calm, even to his own ears.
"How do we fix it?"
"I don't know because I didn't do it. I just shocked him. That's all. Still barking up the wrong tree."
Lo glared at her. "Will it wear off?"
"How should I know? Didn't I just tell you I didn't do it?"
"Why should I? He attacked me. I don't care what happens to him. I don't care about answering you. You're holding me prisoner. Wrongfully, I might add. I have rights."
"Not in here you don't, bitch," Lo snapped. "Now tell me it will wear off."
"Wow," Evelyn laughed, "you really want it to wear off, don't you?"
Diving across the table and killing her will not help, diving across the table and killing her will not help, diving across the table and-
"Aw, is he your boyfriend?" she asked with a smirk.
Lo narrowed his eyes.
Boyfriend. That was what his and Taylor's last argument had been about - labels. He and Taylor had fought about labels - well, now as Lo reflected, it had mostly been him that had argued, not Taylor - and then one thing had led to another and they'd wound up in the bedroom.
Lo didn't like that he'd reacted badly afterward. He didn't like that he'd gone quiet. He knew it was wrong but he didn't know what else to, had felt so out of place and awkward afterward, like it was wrong and horrible, stupid and rushed, too personal and intimate and-
Who said that?
Oh, holy shit. It was him. He said that.
Evelyn watched him. "Yes?"
"Yes, he's my God damn boyfriend, now fucking answer me," Lo snapped, eyes flashing.
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
Tingling. Taylor's whole body was tingling, and it was painful. It felt like there were thousands of pins and needles being shoved into his skin, and he couldn't twist or move in the slightest. There was no way to relieve the pain. He couldn't even blink his damn eyes. They, too, were tingling.
At least he could hear clearly now. Nothing was muffled.
A door opened somewhere in the room and then closed. Footsteps plodded toward him and Lo's blonde head came into view. Lo appeared frustrated, his eyes narrowed, his teeth digging into his lower lip. Taylor couldn't taste any emotions right now, but if he could, he'd say Lo was perhaps a little worried about something as well. He wondered why he couldn't taste any emotions…but his biggest problem at the moment was the fact he couldn't even blink his eyes, let alone move his body.
Lo peered down at him slowly. Taylor wished he could say something, or at least freaking blink his eyes, but he couldn't. His body still felt frozen even though he could feel that tingling pain all over.
"Can you hear me?" Lo finally rumbled, frowning at him. Taylor wanted to answer him but his lips wouldn't move. The most he could do was stare. Lo shook his head and looked away. "You need to wake the fuck up and snap out of it."
Uh, hello - I'm trying, Taylor wanted to say. Did Lo think he enjoyed being like this? Hell no! He wished it would stop.
But it wasn't stopping and he didn't know what to do.
A door opened again, then closed. Footsteps approached him. He couldn't see the person but knew they were there when they stopped just short of his line of sight.
"Well?" Lo drawled, glancing at the person.
"I realize you want answers," came Corbin's calm voice, "but there isn't much I can do, Logan. We will just have to wait this out."
Wait this out, wait this out. That was what they'd said before. They'd also said something about him being in a damn coma, which he clearly wasn't. …Right? He could hear them. He was aware. He just couldn't move. He couldn't close his damn eyes.
Lo growled under his breath, clearly unhappy with Corbin's words.
Taylor wasn't too thrilled about it himself.
"And if it doesn't just 'wear off'?" Lo grunted.
There wasn't an answer to be heard, however there must have been a look sent Lo's way because the blonde's expression hardened and his eyes narrowed further.
"Why's he like this if the damn handcuffs touched him? What the fuck do they have to do with anything?"
"His necklace was there to balance him out. I made it a bit stronger than his last one to help him through all he'd gone through on your trip," Corbin replied easily. "The cuffs were strong as well. Normally it wouldn't have been a problem, but since he had not quite balanced himself out yet, it proved quite hazardous, as you can see."
"So fix it. If your damn energy is what caused it, then fix it."
Lo made it sound so simple. Taylor wished it was. He thought he maybe had to go to the damn bathroom but he didn't know for sure because his whole body was tingling. Other than that, he couldn't feel anything.
"It is not so simple, Logan."
Of course it wasn't.
"I don't know the extent of the damage done to him. It was a combination of the energy and electrocution that caused the state he is in now. Give it time to wear off first, and then we will pursue alternative options."
"Like what?" Lo snapped. "Why can't we 'pursue' them now?"
"Just trust me, Logan. Give it time to wear off Taylor before we try anything else."
Taylor hated that he was being talked about like he wasn't right there in the room, but he figured there was nothing he could physically do about it.
"One day," Lo growled. "We'll give it one damn day. No longer. Then you fix him."
I'm not a dog…I don't need fixed, damn it. I'm fine! Just…unable to move, Taylor wanted to tell him.
He'd settle for being able to say anything…hell, he'd settle for just being able to blink his damn eyes.
But at the moment, it appeared none of that was going to happen. He might as well have been a living statue. However, he hoped the tingling went away soon and he could feel things instead…
A guy could hope, right?
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
A day. Almost a fucking day. Lo scrubbed a hand over his face as he sat in the chair next to Taylor's bed. He'd been here for the majority of the time except for when he'd gone to speak with Evelyn. He almost growled at the thought of her. He wanted to slam her face into the ground and never stop, but he knew he couldn't.
This isn't working, he thought to himself.
Taylor wasn't waking…or whatever. Was he awake? He had no idea. All Lo knew was Taylor was still quiet and unresponsive. His damn eyes were still open.
He hadn't thought it would bother him this much.
Corbin had said he'd wake up. Obviously this wasn't working.
A coma. Paralyzed.
Who came out of a coma? Not many. This wasn't a normal coma, granted, but if Corbin said it was a coma…
He couldn't think about this right now.
Lo glared at the ground and thought of ways to get back in to see Evelyn. Corbin hadn't liked how he'd gone to see her before and had told him it wasn't doing him nor Taylor any good, but somehow Lo found the thought of ramming his fist into that bitch's face refreshing. He had upheld his promise of not beating her before, but maybe if he just snuck in…no one would notice…he could deny it was him…
Something moved out of the corner of his eye. He snapped his gaze up and over to focus on Taylor. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary - well, ordinary for the past fucking day. The emotion taster was still quiet and motionless, and-
What was that?
Taylor's fingers were moving somewhat, as though stretching, reaching for something, and Lo jumped to his feet.
"Taylor?" he rumbled, standing over his friend. "T? Are you with me?" He felt torn, unsure if he should reach out or stand back, so he stood there with his hands at his sides, clenched into fists. "Can you hear me? T? Taylor?"
Taylor's own hand curled into a fist before it went slack again. Golden eyes suddenly slammed shut after having been open for so long. Lo stared, startled.
"T? Are you okay? How do you feel?" he asked, this time reaching out to snag Taylor's shoulder. He felt a muscle jump in his grasp as Taylor shifted a little.
Taylor opened his eyes a little and peered at Lo. He said nothing and Lo's mind blanked momentarily as a thought penetrated his brain, a pit forming in his stomach.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked slowly. His tongue felt thick in his mouth and his words felt heavy as they came out. A coldness seeped into his bones.
Now Taylor's eyes narrowed before they rolled and glared at him.
"Just asking," Lo told him with a smirk, the coldness edging away. "How are you?"
Taylor just kind of scowled and tried to shift a little more.
"Maybe you should, uh…take it easy for a minute," Lo suggested.
After all, he was basically a statue a moment ago.
But he was awake now.
Not in a coma.
Taylor seemed to sigh before he went still again, his eyes closed this time. His fingers continued to move, stretching and bending. Soon his wrist joined and began to twist, popping and stretching, gaining movement.
A few minutes later, Taylor opened his eyes again and turned his head to peer at Lo.
"Feel better?" Lo drawled.
Taylor gave a faint nod. He didn't try to speak. Instead he quirked an eyebrow at Lo and looked him up and down in silent question.
Lo snorted. "I'm fine. You're the one who got electrocuted and did a nice impression of a living statue."
Taylor seemed to scoff before he looked up at the ceiling. Then he looked around the room and back at Lo.
"Yes, we're in the library. Where else was I supposed to take you?"
"The apartment? While you're doing an excellent impression of a breathing corpse?" Lo's lips twisted into a sneer. "No, sorry, that's not my idea of a good time."
Taylor sighed and averted his gaze. A silent apology.
"Yeah, you should be sorry. You're the ass who went and got electrocuted. Who does that? And Corbin specifically said not to touch the damn cuffs and what do you do? You go and touch the damn cuffs!"
Now Taylor glared at him.
"Yeah, yeah, you 'didn't mean to' and all that." Lo shook his head. "You gonna talk anytime soon or sulk in silence like the girl you are?"
Taylor just blinked at him and then shook his head. Lo frowned as a thought crept into his mind.
"You…can talk, right?" he asked, his voice quieter this time. There was definitely a reason Taylor wasn't talking. He had just assumed Taylor was waiting, as he had before, with his fingers, waiting and stretching, but now…what if he couldn't talk?
Taylor narrowed his eyes at him.
"Sorry, sheesh. I was just asking," Lo said.
Okay, so Taylor could talk. He just wasn't.
"So why aren't you talking?"
Taylor took in a breath and rasped, "Getting…there."
Lo nodded. "Oh, okay." He sat back in his chair to wait until Taylor felt well enough to talk. A part of him knew he should get Corbin and let him know Taylor had woken, but a larger part preferred he stayed where he was.
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
It took a bit, but finally, Taylor felt like he could talk again. He took in a breath and glanced at Lo. "Help me up," he said, knowing how stupid it sounded, but his body felt sore all over and he didn't even want to think about moving on his own right now. Maybe in an hour or so…if the soreness wore off like the numbness.
Lo glanced at him oddly but moved forward without a word and snagged his arm, helping him sit up. Ah, much better. He was tired of laying down. He hated the ceiling, hated staring at it for so long.
"How long was I, um…" he trailed off, unsure how to phrase his question.
Lo narrowed his eyes. "Like a statue?" he drawled, and then shrugged. "Long time. Over a day."
Over a day. Shit. Taylor sighed and nodded, scrubbing a hand over his face.
"You never answered me," Lo said suddenly.
Taylor frowned at him. "What do you mean?" he asked. His throat ached and his voice felt rough. He longed for something to drink. "Is there any water?"
A look passed over Lo's face, so quickly Taylor had no hope of deciphering it. He still couldn't taste anything. He wondered if his sense of taste would return as the soreness eased off.
"I'll get your damn water after you answer my question."
"What question?" Taylor asked, frowning.
"How do you feel?"
"Seriously?" Taylor stared. "That question? That's the question you're angry about me not answering? I'm fine. Okay? Can I have some water now, please?"
Lo narrowed his eyes at him but stood and moved toward the door. "Stay," he said before he left the room and shut the door behind him.
"Great…now I'm the dog." Taylor shook his head.
A few minutes later, Lo returned with a glass of water and Corbin hot on his heels. Taylor groaned.
"Lo, I said water, not Corbin. Those two don't even sound alike," he groused.
Lo rolled his eyes and held out a bottle of water. "Here's your damn water."
"Gee, thanks." He snagged the water and took a few long swallows before he felt satisfied. Corbin was busy checking his pulse and whatever else energy alters did. Honestly Taylor tried to ignore him.
"He seems fine," Corbin said before he pulled out a needle and stabbed it into Taylor's arm.
"I just need a blood sample," Corbin assured him as he pulled the needle out. "How are you feeling? Dizzy? Nauseous? Sore?"
"Sore," Taylor admitted. "Dunno about dizzy. Haven't tried to do anything except sit up."
Corbin nodded and then did something weird. He grabbed Taylor's shoulder and held it for a minute. Taylor stared at his boss.
"What the hell are you doing?" he asked, confused.
Corbin released him. "Checking your energy," he explained, and then smiled. "It seems your energy has pretty much balanced itself out, despite the setback."
Lo snorted. "When you were pretending to be a damn statue."
"So, I want to keep you here until I can run a few tests on your blood, but after that, you are free to go if you feel up to it and there are no setbacks," Corbin said.
"Hell yeah," Taylor said, because he hated staying in the library.
Corbin nodded. "Very well. I will go test this sample, then." He turned and left the room.
Taylor sighed and drank some more of his water. "So…did we get the witch? Evelyn?" he asked casually.
He wasn't expecting the dark look of anger on Lo's face. "We got her," he said.
"What'd she do to you?" Taylor asked. "You act like she took your last cookie."
Lo glared at him. "Drink your damn water and let's get the hell out of here."
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
"Ah, finally!" Taylor breathed as he and Lo entered their apartment. He looked around the place and remembered the heavy atmosphere of before they'd taken the job, of when Lo had barely been speaking to him. What had changed? Taylor didn't know but at the moment, he wasn't going to question it. "I'm going to take a long hot shower," he announced before hurrying off down the hallway.
Lo snorted and his usual irritated emotions followed after him, filling Taylor's mouth. Taylor wasn't sure if he was happy or disappointed his sense of taste had returned, but at least he could block it again since he had a new necklace.
He stripped and got into the shower, feeling the soothing hot water run across his skin and sore muscles. He still felt sore but not nearly as much. It just felt as though he'd gone through an intense workout and his muscles were still protesting each movement he made. Eventually it would go away and die down, but for now, he'd have to live with it.
He'd rather have soreness than paralysis any day.
And he was never staring at ceilings again.
He felt stiff from being on his back for so long. All his joints ached and his muscles were sore. The hot water felt great, hitting all the right spots.
Like all showers, it eventually had to come to an end and he climbed out, toweling off. He pulled on a clean gray shirt and blue jeans before he padded out of the bathroom, steam trailing after him.
"Lo?" he called.
"Kitchen," came the grunted reply.
Taylor entered the kitchen and froze, staring at the table. "Holy crap."
Steak sandwiches aligned the table. Three of them. The kitchen smelled amazing.
"Holy shit, how long was I in the shower?" he asked, eyes wide.
Lo smirked. "About eight minutes. Relax, I ordered these."
Taylor released a breath. "Okay…but how are they here so fast?"
"I ordered them from the library before we left."
Taylor nodded. "Oh." That made sense.
"Sit," Lo said.
Taylor sat at the table and was handed a glass of Sprite. "Thanks."
Lo grunted in response and sat down next to him.
"You didn't have to do this, you know."
"I mean, you didn't…why did you do this?" Taylor asked, because it wasn't really like Lo to surprise him with food. Sure, Lo had ordered food before, even fixed it, but never randomly while Taylor was in the shower, without telling him about it. It was surprising.
Lo gave him an odd look. "Can't I feed my boyfriend?" he asked innocently.
"Pfft, don't act all innocent, and - wait, what did you say?" Taylor asked as his brain latched onto Lo's words. "Did you say boyfriend?" He frowned and scanned his eyes over Lo's face. "I thought…we said no labels?"
He was so confused.
Lo shrugged, his expression somewhat guarded. "That was before."
"Before?" Taylor didn't understand. "Before what?"
"Just before," Lo said, clearly not intending to elaborate more than that. "Let's just say I'm okay with labels now."
"Are you?" Taylor quirked a brow.
Lo nodded. "Are you?" he asked in return.
Taylor smirked somewhat. "If you are."
Lo nodded again and then gestured at the sandwiches. "Eat your food."
End of Road Trip.
(Because it won't let me put anything else)
I was going to put 'story continues in...' but...I don't really know the name of the next book. It was going to be Waterlogged but I might have it be Soundproof. Which one would you guys prefer? They are different stories, it's not just different names. I was originally going to write both of them but they kind of wander away from the original plot a bit...so I don't want to stray from it too much, and two books in a row of straying...well. That wouldn't be too good, lol. So yeah. I will let you guys pick the name, I guess? Anyway, please let me know ;) And thank you all so much for reading this! Without you it wouldn't have come to be :) So thanks for reading and please review!