Taylor couldn't sleep. His thoughts running straight to his parents and younger brother. Suddenly, completely, he had a need to see them, to feel the comfort which would come from sliding back into the normalcy of his family. I miss my bed and my computer. He wandered out of the small room he and Winston had been sent to sleep in, scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes. Found the attached bathroom. After washing his face and staring at himself for a bit, Taylor went in search of Sue-Ann or Isabel. To tell them he was leaving, for a little while.
But he couldn't find them. They weren't in their lounge upstairs. All the other doors on the upper floor were closed, locked. The HQ was empty. Helen's tidy little study in the hallway near Myth's lab was dark and empty. Taylor didn't even bother poking his head into it. Myth's lab was dark as well, even more unusual than any of the rest. Taylor had never known it to be so, when Myth was allowed inside it. On his way back towards HQ as he passed Helen's study, the door still wide open, he avoided looking into that darkness. Just as he was about to pass completely by it, someone spoke from within.
“Taylor?“ the voice was waveringly hoarse, old sounding and weary. If he hadn't known it must be only his imagination, he would have expected it was Helen's voice, but that couldn't be. Swallowing hard Taylor turned back and said, “Yes?“
“What are you doing?“ The voice said. Definitely female. A shape resolved itself out of the blackness in the room. The shape was taller than Taylor but by how much he could not tell at first.
He saw her.
It was Lou.
Taylor sighed with relief, he had been about to let his imagination run wild. “Oh. Hey, Lou.“ He tried to sound nonchalant, but as soon as he spoke she snorted. Taylor hoped she didn't mention Helen. He wasn't sure he wanted to handle that discussion yet.
“You're about to bail.“ She said. It wasn't a question.
Taylor hesitated for a moment, nodded. “I need to see my family.“ He felt horrible, saying something aloud like that to Lou. But if it bothered her she didn't let it show. Instead she nodded. It was amazing how easily she had gotten inside his head. “You shouldn't go alone. I'll come with you.“ Taylor hadn't thought of anyone coming with, but he wouldn't argue with her.
“We should leave a note or something.“ Taylor said. “For the others.“ He added.
As soon as they made it back to the HQ, they found they weren't alone. Izzy was just sitting down on the sofa, sipping at a cup of tea. “What are you two doing?“ she asked, not accusingly.
Taylor couldn't see any reason not to tell. After all they had been through it seemed wrong to hold back or lie to any of his friends now.
“I'm coming too.“ Izzy said when Taylor told her he was leaving for home. Taylor and Lou shared a look, both nodded at the same time. It seemed Lou felt the same. Like they had moved past something, dropped some kind of barrier which had existed prior.
“Where should we leave the note?“ Taylor asked.
“What note?“ Winston asked, yawning as he popped up drunkenly into the HQ. He plopped down on a sofa and stretched wide. Seeming to recognize something, he leaned forward, eyes narrowed. “Wait a minute! Where are you guys going? Wherever it is, I'm going too!“ Winston added, “I kinda don't wanna be alone, right now, ya know?“ He smiled more widely now, an uneven smile. As Taylor looked from face to face he realized it did feel better having them all around. Taylor knew they felt the same. Even being close to Izzy felt right. He wasn't nervous at all, for once.
“We should get Myth.“ Taylor said, as they walked out of the HQ.
“Get me for what?“ Myth said, yawning as she walked down the staircase. She looked fresher and more awake than any of the others, as though she had had a full night's rest, though none of them had had enough time to sleep much. Taylor told Myth and she immediately insisted she was coming along.
“Wait,“ Taylor said as they were almost out the front door, “What about the note?“
“I'm writing it now.“ Izzy said, typing into her iPhone.. “OK. Let's go!“
She tucked her phone away.
They walked down the street as a group, squeezing closer than Taylor could remember them ever being before. He looked at his friends, pausing as he took in each one, and realized if he had to be without his family, if he had to endure such, there wasn't a better group of people to be with. No one else he would choose. They're family, now, too. The thought made him smile, a big, wide, open smile.
We got this.