Here is the next chapter :) For those that don't know, my chip might be able to be fixed, so if it is, I will start writing my other stories again :) As of right now, though, I have 3 obligations - this story, a Christmas request I've yet to even start, and a book I've been working on with my friend for about 5 years now. Thank you for all your support, though! You guys are awesome :)

Onward!


Chapter Five: Release

~Taylor's POV~

Taylor wasn't sure where he was, but he wasn't coming down any time soon. He didn't often allow himself to enjoy the feel of the air brushing against his wings as he flew through the calm night sky. He wasn't sure how long he'd been flying but he didn't plan on stopping soon.

He knew, on some level, he should stop and land, registered the need, but ignored it because right now his soul desire was to keep flying. Words meant nothing to him here, and he didn't feel the urge to vomit, and fatigue was virtually non-existent here because he tapped into an energy he generally kept locked away.

Now he tapped into that energy and soared through the sky, high above the clouds. He wasn't sure how much time passed, but time didn't matter right now. Instead he focused on his breathing, and the beat of his wings as he flapped them once, twice, and soared higher, twisting through the clouds as though they were nothing.

As always, though, he had to come down. While there was bliss in flying, there was still that potential threat of losing control, and too much of a good thing wasn't great. He didn't wish to lose control ever again. He'd extinguish that part of himself if he could, but as far as he knew, there was no way to do such a thing. If Red knew, he never told Taylor, but he didn't expect much conversation from that maniac.

It was when he landed on the ground he realized how dizzy he suddenly felt and the fact his pocket was now vibrating. Perhaps it had been the whole time, but had been drowned out by the glorious rush of the wind. Wings sank back into his flesh and he coughed out a breath, wincing because no matter how fast he put them away, it still hurt. Bones still shifted and locked and jabbed.

Carefully, he leaned against a wall, panting, and pulled out his cell phone, suddenly relieved he'd remembered to grab it before leaving the hospital.

AMA. Lo was going to kill him.

He sighed and connected the call, bringing it to his ear. "Hey," he said quietly, because he didn't have to look to know who it was.

"Where the fuck are you?" Lo snapped with a huff. "I've been driving around for fucking hours!"

Taylor winced. "Sorry, Lo, I-"

"Where the fuck are you?"

He took in a breath and released it slowly, scrubbing a hand over his face. "I'm downtown, I think. Near the…" He looked around briefly. "Near the grocery store."

"On my way," Lo said, voice too clipped to be even the slightest bit forgiving, "don't fucking more."

Then the call disconnected and Taylor sighed. "Yeah…I won't fucking move." He dropped the phone from his ear and pocketed it once again. Then he slid down the cement wall until his ass hit the ground, knees curved, arms resting on the knees, back against the wall.

He wasn't sure how long he sat there, but suddenly Lo approached him, hands stuffed into his pockets, gaze somewhat downcast. Taylor watched him and got to his feet.

"Sorry I took off," he murmured quietly.

Lo shook his head. "Why'd you go?" Dark blue eyes peered into his own golden ones and he found he couldn't look away. Lo often had that affect on him, even though it meant generally always having to tell the blonde the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Taylor shrugged and took in a slow breath. "Stomach cancer," he murmured, ripping his gaze from Lo's, staring at the sidewalk instead. "I just…needed to get away for a bit, that's all."

Silence for a moment as Lo scrubbed a hand over his face. "Fuck, T, we didn't know where you were. It's been hours – hours." Lo growled and slammed his hand into the wall, creating a small indent. "Fuck!"

Taylor hurried toward him. "Lo, shit, you know you're not indestructible, right? You still get hurt, dumbass." He released a sigh. "C'mon – let's get back to the hotel and I'll patch you up."

"Not going to the hotel."

"I know you hate hotels, but-"

"No," Lo said, shaking his head, "I mean I gave Blaise our room and we're going the fuck home."

Taylor blinked at him like he didn't understand the word. "Home?" he echoed, but suddenly he could feel it – the longing, the temptation to return to their two-bedroom apartment, because all their memories were there. More than that, Taylor felt safe there, and right now he just wanted to hide away from the world for a few months.

"Yeah," Lo breathed, and Taylor startled because the blonde was suddenly right in front of him, the two of them facing each other, mouths just inches apart. "We're going home."

Then Lo's lips sealed over Taylor's own, swallowing any argument Taylor might have been able to make. Words were not spoken as they traveled toward Lo's car, but then, words weren't really needed.

Not in that moment.


The cozy restaurant boasted a joyous atmosphere of warmth and mirth. Taylor found himself grinning the minute he stepped foot in the place, with Lo in tow. Nearly an hour ago they'd climbed into the car near the grocery store, and had driven around for a bit before stopping at the hotel so Taylor could see Blaise briefly, and they'd finally come here.

It was a brightly lit Mexican place, and Taylor's mouth salivated as the scents wafted up his nostrils. His stomach growled, and for a moment, all he knew was hunger – no stomach pain, no vomiting, and certainly no cancer. In that moment all was well, and he led Lo after their waitress as she ushered them into a booth in the window, momentarily unaware he'd been dragging Lo by his wrist, and his hand had thus slipped into Lo's open palm. If the blonde noticed, he showed no sign of it, just positioned his hands under the table as Taylor pulled his own hand away.

Menus plopped down in front of them and Taylor quickly snatched his up. After order two Sprites, their waitress waltzed away and assured them she would return shortly to take their order.

"Okay," Lo said with a heavy sigh, thumb and forefinger pinching at the bridge of his nose as his eyes slid closed. "Say it."

"Say what?" Taylor asked, confused. Was he supposed to say something?

"You're humming to Mexican songs that aren't even playing," Lo said with a shrug. "So you're pretty spacey." A brief pause. "You're not…you're okay, right?"

Something heavy rolled across Taylor's tongue and he snapped his gaze toward Lo's face at the soft-spoken words. "I feel okay right now, just…hungry." He shifted somewhat uncomfortably and averted his gaze. "But if I bolt out of here real fast, don't be alarmed."

The taste in his mouth soured but Taylor tried to wash it down with a long chug of his drink. The waitress returned soon enough and smiled at them. She was pretty cute, for a girl of probably only sixteen or seventeen. She reminded Taylor a lot of Blaise, all wide-eyed innocence. The smile on her face seemed sincere, too – and Taylor would know.

They both ordered and sat back in their booth seat, Lo on one side and Taylor on the other. It was how they usually sat unless they had company – usually unwanted company on Lo's behalf.

Silence wrapped around them but it wasn't exactly awkward, or even really strained. It was more like they were just two friends enjoying the liveliness of the restaurant and the upbeat Mexican music roaring in the background. A few booths down from them sat a family, and the youngest girl, probably only two-years-old, was trying to sing along to the song and trying to dance, but she kept falling over.

Taylor shook his head and smiled at the sight. Kids these days.

Kids.

He liked kids, he really did. He hadn't liked them when he'd been younger, but kids could be assholes. He'd been raised, for the most part, by a man he barely knew, without a mother and without anyone to really give a damn if he came home at night or not. For all he knew, his 'dad' probably hadn't even put up missing-persons posters around town after his disappearance at the age of seventeen. He wouldn't put it past the guy.

Maybe things would have been different if people had actually been fucking looking for him. Maybe he would have been found, been saved before he was turned into this…this…monster.

There was little else which could be used to describe it. While he could control a lot of aspects of it now, that control only held out for so long, and only with the necklace's help. The necklace had been designed to balance his core energy and tune it to the necklace's, and it did that very well.

He sighed and came back to himself, blinking at the kid not too far away, full of life and loving every minute of it.

He thought at one point he might want kids – a family. Someone he could raise and right the wrongs done to him by doing everything just right for the kid. Someone would love him implicitly, and care if he didn't come home at night. A family.

For years that was all he wanted – a fucking family. Somewhere to call home, but instead all he got was a drunk voice slurring for him to fix his own dinner and get out of the house for the night because the 'guys' were coming over to watch the game. Instead of a family, all he got were shattered memories of people he didn't know, barely remembered, and yet they still somehow seemed real and more like family than the man he grew up with.

All he'd wanted was a family, somewhere he belonged, where he was wanted.

Instead he'd been taken by a maniac who could care less if he lived or died.

"Taylor?"

The quiet voice roused Taylor from his thoughts and he looked away from the family to find Lo watching him, silent, unspoken questions in his eyes, but thankfully all he did was nod down at the plates now on their table. Taylor blinked. Wow. How long had he been lost in thought?

They ate in silence for a couple of minutes before Lo sighed and looked at him. "It's…gonna be okay," he said, and the rough, uncertain tone of his voice had laughter bubbling up inside of Taylor, because, damn it, Lo was trying.

"I know, Lo," he breathed, smirking as he watched the blonde. "It's gonna be just fine – just the two of us."

After all, he already had a family.

Because Lo gave a damn if he didn't come home at night. Lo put posters up everywhere when Taylor was missing. He forced him to go to stupid hospitals when he was perfectly fi-

Dizziness and fatigue slammed into him, leaving a sharp pain stabbing behind his eyes. He dropped his fork to his plate and brought his hand to his head, snapping his eyes shut because fuck, that hurt.

"Taylor?"

His stomach churned and he released a low groan because he felt like shit. Hastily, he staggered to his feet and darted in the direction of the bathroom. He wasn't sure if he was going to throw up, but he had to get away from the smell of food because it was only serving to make him more nauseous, and make his head throb all the more.

He barreled into the bathroom and turned on the sink, splashing cold water on his face, hoping it'd help, but it seldom did anymore. Eyelids drooped and he was suddenly so damn tired…all he wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for a week. As the dizziness slammed into him again, he gripped tight at the sink to hold himself still and keep from staggering over his feet and toppling over.

A heavy hand landed on his shoulder. He released a quiet breath. "Lo," he murmured.

"Let's get out of here," Lo said quietly, and Taylor gave into a slow nod, too dizzy to do much else. "Can you walk?"

"Yeah, just…just give me a minute."

"You can lean on me, you know."

"Yeah, Lo," he breathed, "I know."

A few minutes later he felt steady enough to open his eyes and turn, releasing his hold on the sink as he faced Lo. The blonde frowned at him, concern a heavy, bittersweet taste in his mouth.

"I already paid," Lo said, watching him. "So we can leave."

Taylor nodded. "Okay." He bit down on his lower lip and averted his gaze. "Sorry."

"For what?"

"Just…sorry. Didn't mean to ruin dinner."

"You didn't ruin anything," Lo said. "I was full anyway. Okay? Hey." Fingers hooked under his chin and lifted, bringing his gaze back to Lo's face. "Okay?"

"Yeah," Taylor sighed, "okay."

"I'll go bring the car around," Lo said, watching him with wary blue eyes. Wary, worried, same thing really. "Okay? Don't move."

Taylor nodded numbly and turned back to face the sink as Lo left the room. Dizziness swept over him again and he took in deep breaths and released them slowly, trying to calm the sudden frenzied rhythm his heart gave into. His eyes fell closed. You're okay, he told himself. You're fine. Just tired, that's all. You'll sleep for a bit and you'll be just fine.

A moment later, the door to the bathroom opened and closed again. Someone stepped up behind him.

"Lo," he murmured, "think I might need to lean on you after all…"

There was a chuckle he didn't recognize, and he snapped his eyes open. "Not quite," said a voice, and he looked into the mirror at the person standing behind him.

Just as he was turning to face the guy, the man's hand landed on his forehead.

"Sleep," the guy said with a smirk.

Whatever energy Taylor had left vanished in that moment and his legs collapsed, sending him toppling to the ground. Heavy eyelids slammed shut.

The last thing he heard before he slipped into darkness was a familiar, very angry growl.


And there's that chapter :) Thanks for reading and please review!

~Averick~