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Chapter 15 - Taylor

“Greg”

I was breathing hard as I wiped the sweat from my brow. I didn’t expect him to show up here since I didn’t tell him about this place. “What brings you here?”
He whimpered low in his throat as he walked up to me and tugged his head under my chin. Slightly bewildered, I slowly wrapped my arms around him. Slightly unsure on how to interact with him with the way he is acting.

The other guys in the room gave me all these curious looks as I slowly move Greg to a bench, intent on setting him down. Yet he refused to let go of me as he clutched my shirt tighter in his fists, shaking his head as I asked him to sit down. Instead, I wrapped his legs around my waist as I sat down on the bench with him on my lap. I rocked him slightly, rubbing soothing circles on his back. He buried his face in my neck as he whimpered his whole body shaking badly like he was having a very bad nightmare.

“Don’t leave me Taylor.”

I had no time to be startled as he tightened his body around mine, shaking harder than before.

“Only you can make them go away.”

Then it clicked in my head, his bad thoughts, I had noticed that whenever he had has a bad day his family comforts him through touch. I wrap my arms securely around him, pressing him in my sweaty chest. “It’s okay Greg I am here.”

Rising I look at Jose, he smiles a little before dismissing me. One of the guys hands me my gym bag as I walk past them. “Make sure you stretch properly when you get home Ty.” Was Jose’s only advice as I carefully made my way down the stairs and through the lobby, ignoring all the curious stares. Outside I rest my bag on the hood of my car as I fumble around with the keys to get the passenger door open so I can place Greg on the seat. I managed it, but every time I pull back to leave he whimpers loudly and won’t let go of my shirt. Somehow I managed to get my sweater from my bag and got him in it. I am not going to lie; the fact Greg wore my sweater made me feel satisfaction on some prime level. And it seems to calm him enough to let go of me so I can get behind the wheel. Casting one more look to the side I flip open my phone and make a call.

“Tiago Chambers speaking.” One of Greg’s dad’s answers the phone. “Taylor Thompson speaking,” I mumble before I lose my nerve “I have Greg here and he seems to be in a bad place. I am returning him home to you.” It is silent for a while on the other side of the line before Tiago sighs and tells me that he is grateful for me returning him home safely. Both of his parents stand on the front porch waiting for us as I turn up their driveway. Yet they don’t make a move to get Greg out of the car as I thought they would have. Zach visibly sags with relief as I carefully get a sleeping Greg out of my passenger side and walk up the steps.

“Thank GOD he’s okay.” Zach clutches Tiago to him and being this up close I can see that he is slightly trembling and he looks like he has been running his hand through his hair repeatedly. Tiago rubs the arms around him soothingly and steps aside so I can carry Greg up to his room. They follow me without a word, hovering at the back like most worried parents would do.

I lay Greg on top of the covers of his bed; he mumbles something I can’t make out under his breath. Yet he whimpers so I summarise that he is reliving some bad part of his past. I make a move to take of his shoes but Zach beats me to it.

“I will do that.” He gently pries my hands away and makes soothing sounds as Greg whimpers once more. When Greg is in nothing but my sweater, a shirt and his boxers Zach tugs back the covers and gently coax Greg to roll on his side so he can cover him with them. Zach brushes some of his hair from his face and kisses his forehead, wishing him a good night. His eyes look sadly at Greg before he turns to face me and Tiago at the door. There is some wordless communication between them and within a beat of my eyelids, they are embarrassing each other and Zach is shaking with repressed sobs.

Feeling awkward, I take this as my cue to leave. Just as I turn to leave a hand grabs my arm, stopping me in mid turn. Looking back, I see Zach’s slightly puffy eyes and grateful smile, even Tiago looked grateful at me.

“We wanted to thank you for bringing our baby boy back home safely. We hope you will continue to watch over him and be his friend when he has another episode.”

Episode? Is he epileptic or something? The question must have been all over my face since Zach smiled a little sadly as he turned to watch Greg sleep a little fitfully. “Let’s go downstairs to talk about this.” Sitting in their kitchen table with a bowl of damping chicken soup, courtesy of Tiago I wait patiently for Zach to say what he has to say. He fiddles a little with his hands as he thinks about the best way to start this uncomfortable conversation. He sighs deeply, looks me right in the eye and starts his tale.

“My guess is that you know that Greg biological parents weren’t the best parents the world?” My eyes narrow as I remember the scars littering Greg’s body and nod my head. “Then you know that Greg has spent most of his time in the cellar of their house before police and other institutes were informed of his poor condition. Needless to say, Greg has been beaten, abused, used as an ashtray and a boxing bag whenever his dad saw fit. His mother always acted like her nose was bleeding when it happened.” Zach bit his lip as he looked at his clenched hands; he was clenching them so hard I thought he might break the bones in his hands.

A hand on my shoulder pulled me out of my staring, Tiago smiled sadly down at me. “You should eat your soup before it gets cold.” Looking down I noticed there wasn’t much steam coming off it and picked up the spoon and started eating. Zach looked up at hearing the spoon clatter around the bowl and smiled. “Anyway, when we decided to have kids, we went to our local orphanage, we just recently moved here and saw Greg and knew he was ours.”

His eyes took on a softer expression as he probably remembered that particular day. “He was quiet, not shy quiet but more a thinking quiet. There we learnt a lot of other families tried to adopt him but in the end they couldn’t. When we asked about that, it turned out that he still had nightmares about what happened to him and they couldn’t deal with it. Yet we were determined to have him so we took him home.”

Zach took a deep breath and smiled gratefully as Tiago placed a damping cup of coffee in front of him and Zach took a deep gulp. “It took us a while but Greg was slowly trusting us and having less and less nightmares at night. He still had the odd one here and there but that’s normal considering what he went through. We were doing fine and Greg was doing pretty decent at school until his dad managed to escape police custody and threaten Greg’s life. Greg was walking home from school alone, he said he was old enough to walk alone now and we both were out of town for work. I still blame myself for not being there when he needed us the most.” His voice cracked a little at the end and his eyes hardened, his shoulders tensed. Tiago squeezed his shoulders “It’s not your fault Quierdo, and Greg knows it too. Greg knows we love him like our own.”

Greg shuddered a little but continued anyway after swallowing. “Greg had a relapse and coupled with the court date for his parents trail we weren’t surprised that he had a relapse. His parents went to prison for life for what they had done to him and Greg was calm once more. Yet he still has his dark thoughts about not being good enough to be loved or be treasured like he should by someone special. Greg didn’t have quite a relapse per se but I could tell his dark thoughts were very prominent, his father had requested to see him in prison. To comfort Greg we surrounded him with our scents, it always seemed to calm him, hence the reason he wore some of our clothes.”

A light went on in my head; the reason Greg wore clothes that didn’t really fit him on the first day of school. “The sweats and sweater he was wearing at the first day of school.” Both nodded their heads, “The reason we are telling you this Taylor is because we noticed that your touch albeit it be a casual one, it calms him like our scent or touches do whenever he feels anxious. It also means Greg trusts you, it might be on an unconscious level but he trusts you none the less. And if you hurt him you will be wishing for mercy if we find out.”

On the way home I couldn’t help but grin as the though spun around in my mind that Greg trusted me to take care of him. Gordo just raised an eyebrow but kept silent. I fell in my bed still grinning like a madman, just overjoyed that Greg liked me! I didn’t care the he wasn’t conscious doing it. It was progress and I was more than happy to take whatever I could get. I am pretty sure I fell asleep with the grin stuck on my face, disturbing anyone who came in my room in the morning.

“Fratello!!!” Syl’s enthusiastic shout had me jerking awake just as he bounded into my room. He jumped up on my bed, bouncing up and down on it. “Come on fratello! Let’s go! Lo called and said I could come over and play.” He whined at my slow reaction.

Meredith glanced into the room. “That is not entirely true, one of Greg’s father’s called and asked for you. But he got Syl instead and invited him over too. He said it had something to do with yesterday?” She looked a little confused as she said so, I am sure she is brimming with curiosity about what happened yesterday.

That had me rolling out of bed, do a full body stretch and tug on the first pair of clean pair of pants I came across together with the first clean shirt. After a quick breakfast we were off the Chamber house hold. Syl and Lo ran off together as soon we set a foot inside the door. Chuckling at their antics, Zach waved me in and to Greg’s room. “I am pretty sure he would want to talk to you as soon as he opens his eyes.” Kicking off my shoes and hanging up my coat I gingerly make my way up the stairs, to Greg’s room.

I knock before easing the door open and see that Greg is a wake and talking softly with Tiago. Who looked up as I knocked on the door, smiled softly at Greg before leaving us alone in the room.

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