No Way Back
Warnings: This chapter has a character in it afflicted with Alzheimer's and descriptions of childhood sexual abuse. If you have personal trigger issues with these things, you may want to tread lightly. There are also parts where Nicky treats Dave very roughly and makes threats of rape and violence. There is also a homophobic slur.
Kurt put a steadying hand on Dave's arm. "Dave, it's okay. We're safe. No one knows that I stole Len's keys. They won't look for us in here."
Still panting with fear and effort, Dave took the time to look around. They were in a bedroom that seemed to have been decorated by an older woman, with pastel-colored bedsheets and afghans over the furniture, and family pictures on the bedside table and windowsill. The grandmotherly woman sat near the bed in a wheelchair, a quilt over her lap and glasses low on her nose as she squinted at the TV guide from the newspaper. A bowl of steamy hot soup sat on a TV tray beside her wheelchair.
With a hairbrush in his hand, Nicky walked out of the attached bathroom.
Dave winced and gasped, holding Taylor tightly to him.
Kurt put up a hand, trying to calm him. "It's just a memory. They aren't aware that we're here. This happened long ago for Nicky; we weren't there when it happened, right?"
Unconvinced, Dave could not take his eyes off Nicky. He was near tears. "He wants to steal Taylor's body. He's trying to kill him."
Nicky began to brush his grandmother's hair, gently and slowly. "Do you want a bun or a ponytail today, Grandma?"
"Umm... ponytail is fine, dear."
Kurt pointed at them. "See? They have no idea we're here. Watch." Standing up, he shook his butt in the grandmother's face. "Woohoo, Grandma, kiss my ass. Kiss it."
Neither Grandma nor Nicky reacted. It was like he wasn't there.
Dave couldn't help but giggle.
"See? It's a memory. It already happened." Kurt put his arms under Taylor. Dave recoiled; he wasn't ready to hand his precious cargo over to anyone yet. "I'm not trying to take him, only to support you both. You're upset, okay? Let's put Taylor on the bed together."
"The grandmother's bed?"
"Yes. No one will ever know he's there. I promise." He nodded toward Nicky. "This memory loops at the end of their conversation. I've watched it several times. No one ever goes near the bed." When Dave was still reluctant to move, Kurt added, "Boddah and I will look after Taylor. We won't let Nicky get him."
Looking around the room, Dave noticed Boddah for the first time. The reaper stood in a corner near the bed, hood covering his face, barely moving and not saying a word. As creepy as the bird-thing was, Dave trusted him to protect them. He stood and let Kurt help him put Taylor on the grandmother's bed. Taylor immediately rolled over on his side and cuddled into the pillow.
Done with Grandma's hair, Nicky sat in a chair near her and started to crush oyster crackers into her soup.
"What kind have we got today?" Grandma asked.
"Chicken and Rice," Nicky replied.
"Mmm!" Grandma exclaimed, and rubbed her tummy. "I love soup!"
"I know you do." Nicky grinned.
"Leave me some whole ones," she said, indicating the crackers.
"Okay." Nicky threw a few complete oyster crackers into the bowl. "What's good on TV tonight?"
"Hmm." Grandma considered the book quietly.
Exhausted, Dave flopped down on the floor. "Kurt, I don't know what to do. How do I protect Taylor? We can't hide forever."
Kurt swallowed hard. He knew Dave wasn't going to like what he had to say. "You have to wake Taylor up."
"Me? How do I do that? I've already tried."
"There's something you have to say to him."
"What?" Dave asked.
Kurt swallowed again. He looked worried, stricken. "I can't tell you."
"Huh? What do you mean, you can't tell me?"
Sighing, Kurt rolled his eyes in frustration. "I'm not allowed to influence events that much. I've already done more than I should have. You have to figure it out for yourself. You have to break the spell, Dave."
Dave looked at Taylor, then at Kurt. "Please, if you don't tell me, Taylor may die."
There was a long pause before he spoke again. "Dave... if you don't figure this out... you'll all die," Kurt said.
Silent for a moment, Dave considered this, pushing his hair behind his ears and holding it there for a few seconds. "It's my nightmare, isn't it?" He lowered his hands. "If I can't wake Taylor up, it will come true. Nicky will kill me and Chris and then shoot Taylor in the head. No one will ever know the ghost was here. My family, Taylor's, everyone will think Taylor murdered his friends and then committed suicide. Our families will be destroyed."
Kurt nodded, tears standing in his eyes. "You can figure it out, Dave. I know you can."
His brow furrowed in a troubled expression, Taylor suddenly murmured, "Dave, he's got a knife."
Dave sighed, hearing that. What must it be like to be trapped in your own body, where you're not currently in control, helpless to do anything but watch what the controlling entity does with it? Taylor was having nightmares about what was about to happen to them all, what could happen, and couldn't do a damn thing to stop it. No, that responsibility had been left up to Dave. "Kurt, please tell me. Our lives depend on it."
Shaking his head, Kurt sat on the end of the bed and leaned his elbows on his knees, starting to curl in on himself. "It's not allowed. Please, if I could tell you, I would." He put his face in his hands.
Dave got on his knees in front of Kurt and touched his hands, trying to coax him out of his need to put up a wall, a cocoon. "Kurt, I don't want to die."
"Do you think I want you to die?!" Kurt sobbed, crying now. "I care very much about you and your family. Your youngest child is two! Taylor's youngest is two. If you both died, they wouldn't remember you. I don't want that to happen! If I could tell you, I would!"
At first, Dave didn't understand why Ophelia's age mattered so much. Then he realized what it was. When Kurt died, Frances was nearly two. She had no real memories of her father. His heart broke, and he moved in between Kurt's legs and took him in his arms. Kurt wept on Dave's shoulder, in his hair, against his cheek.
Nicky began to feed his grandmother her soup.
Kurt wept for a bit while Dave stroked his back. Eventually, he calmed down, sniffling, and hiccuped. Dave smiled fondly; the little hiccup was cute. He leaned in and kissed Kurt on the lips.
Now Kurt smiled. "Your moustache tickles me when we kiss."
They grinned at each other, sharing a moment. "Kurt, when we survive this, when, not if, I want to come back here and talk to you one last time. We need closure. You... you died without us getting a chance to talk." Dave swallowed a heavy lump of emotion in his throat. "We need to talk when we're not under so much pressure."
Nodding, Kurt said, "Okay," then leaned forward and whispered in Dave's ear.
Dave's eyes widened. "Really? Are you sure?"
Kurt nodded again. He looked at Taylor. "To figure out how you break this spell, you need to think about how much Taylor means to you. He's very important to you. Your emotional connection to him even predates your second marriage. What have you never told him?"
Dave sat back on his knees and gave it some thought.
For the first time since Dave had entered the room, Boddah moved, leaning slightly forward. "Auck, cronk cronk."
Kurt raised a quieting hand. "I'm not saying any more, Boddah. I know you don't want me to interfere."
The grandmother's bowl of soup had almost been emptied. "What are we watching on TV tonight, Grandma? Have you decided?"
She considered the TV book once more. "I'd like to watch 'Tales of Tomorrow.'"
"What channel does that come on?" Nicky held the other side of the book so he could read it.
"It comes on ABC."
"Oh... Grandma, I don't think that show is on TV anymore. I don't think it's even on in repeats."
"What's a repeat?"
Gently, patiently, Nicky asked, "What year is it, Grandma?"
"1952. What a silly question."
A troubled look passed over his face for a few seconds, then he pushed it down. "How could I be here if it's 1952, Grandma? Who am I?"
"You're my grandson, Nicky."
"Right," Nicky said with a smile of relief. "Was I born in 1952?"
"No, you were born in 1960." She seemed to realize what he was saying. Her eyes filled with tears. "Nicky, what year is it?"
"It's 1992." He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "I'm sorry you're having a hard time with this tonight. It's okay, I'm here for you. I'm not going anywhere."
Grandma began to cry. "What's... what's your sister's name?"
"Ericka. And my brother is - "
"Robin!" she cried triumphantly. "His name is Robin."
"Very good, Grandma!" He patted her hand.
Watching all of this, Dave scoffed. "I don't understand how he could have been so gentle and caring with his grandmother and at the same time, murdering men in his spare time."
"Isn't that how all serial killers get away with it for so long?" Kurt remarked.
Grandma leaned over now and kissed Nicky's fingers where they held her hand. "No matter what, I will never forget my Nicky. I promise. My perfect grandson who takes care of me."
He looked like he might cry in reaction. "Of course you won't, Grandma." Nicky lightly squeezed her hand.
Dave scoffed again. "'Perfect grandson.' This had to be shortly before he was caught by the police. His trial happened in 1993. I wonder what Grandma thought about him after finding out he was a killer."
"Dave, you don't understand." Kurt motioned toward Nicky and his grandmother. "She never did find out. She was dying of Alzheimers. Her son, Nicky's dad, kept the truth from her to spare her. And Nicky was the only person she never, ever forgot. She asked for him up until the day she died." He nodded to himself. "This is a very significant memory, Dave. We can use it against him."
"Like how we distracted Nicky with the sex memory?"
"Something like that, yeah."
"Just tell me what you want to..." Dave suddenly grinned and started to giggle. He put his hand to his chest. "I'm sorry, something's - "
"...tickling me!" Dave said out loud, waking up on the chaise lounge. He found Oogly standing on his chest, licking up the dollop of chili. "Oogly..." he scolded lightly.
She continued to lick it up greedily. Once it was gone, Oogly jumped down to the floor and started eating out of the overturned chili bowl.
"Oogly, don't do that. You'll make yourself sick."
The cat ignored him. The stolen treat was too attractive.
All at once, Dave realized where he was and what was happening to him. He'd left Taylor's soul with Kurt and Boddah. Oh God, please keep him safe. Where was Nicky now? Was he asleep?
Looking around, Dave saw Chris asleep and no sign that Nicky had been back down there since he caught them in the act of trying to escape. He listened for a while, very carefully. At first, all he heard was Chris breathing deeply and Oogly eating out of the bowl. But over several agonizing minutes, Dave realized he could hear music playing, somewhere. It was a song he knew, but he couldn't place it just yet.
Then the music got louder as the source of it approached the kitchen. It was "Do Re Mi," Kurt's last demo. The other sound he heard wanted to rip his heart out until he figured out what it really was. It sounded like Taylor sobbing uncontrollably, like something very bad and heart wrenching was happening to him. But that wasn't Taylor crying.
It was Nicky.
The blood in Dave's veins turned to ice when the sobbing turned into a scream of anguish and something made of glass broke. This was followed by the sound of one glass after another being hurled against the floor and the walls while Nicky screamed in anger.
Chris jerked awake at the sound of the first glass breaking. As the sounds escalated, he looked at Dave, his face growing terrified, and panted with fear.
The only good thing about the noise is it got Oogly to stop eating out of the chili bowl. She cried, "Meow!" and ran and hid under the couch.
The sounds eventually stopped. Nicky probably ran out of glasses, Dave mused. He had time to hope that Nicky didn't break any of the special dishes in the breakfront when he came butt-bumping down the stairs, too drunk to walk them. Nicky got close to the bottom before stopping. He had Dave's cell phone in his hand, and somehow he had figured out how to play music on it, probably by poking at the buttons that looked like they would do something. Dave had a few Nirvana songs, the more recently released ones, on his phone, and Nicky must have discovered them.
The entire time, Nicky fixed Dave with an accusatory death stare. That couldn't be good.
Obviously, he'd been drowning his sorrows; he smelled like alcohol. Nicky held the phone up, looking at it, listening for a moment, and then began to sob heavily again. This time, it did tear Dave's heart out to hear it and see it because it was Taylor's eyes doing the crying, Taylor's face crumpled in anguish and grief and Taylor's body shaking with sobs. "He had so much more music to give!" Nicky wailed. He put his fists over his eyes like a child and wept openly.
Dave held back the tears, swallowing them until they hurt to do so. How many times had he thought those exact words?
Part of the way through the sobs, the focus changed. Nicky looked at him again and cried, "Why did Kurt betray me? Why did you betray me? Do you know how much that hurts? Why did you have to do that? Why?"
Dave wondered if he could talk his way out of this one. "Nicky, you gotta understand that we didn't mean to betray you. No one likes to be chained or tied down for hours. We just needed some relief."
"And then you'd come right back and let me cuff you back up without an argument, right? Is that what you want me to believe?"
"I would have done whatever you told me, just like I did when I took my shower."
"You ran my head into the headboard and tried to escape!" Nicky yelled, laughing bitterly through his tears. No, Dave was not making it better. He stood up on the stairs. "You think I'm a fucking idi... ot, you..." Nicky wretched, putting a hand to his stomach. He dropped Dave's phone, which somehow triggered it to stop playing the song, and dove for the nearest place he could find to throw up. That turned out to be the big vase next to the stairwell.
Both Dave and Chris cringed. "That's a Lalique," Dave mumbled.
Once he was done, Nicky weakly slid to the floor and lay there breathing hard for a while, holding his stomach.
Dave tried again. "I'm sorry we hurt you so bad, Nicky. You're sick. Come here and let me comfort you. There's just enough room for you on the edge of the chaise lounge next to me."
Nicky wailed from his place on the floor. "I want to believe you so bad, Dave. But you're lying! You don't care!"
Somehow, Dave had to convince him he was sorry. Their lives depended on it. "Please, Nicky, it's killing me to see you like this. Please come here and let me comfort you."
Dragging himself to his hands and knees, Nicky crawled, sobbing, to the side of the chaise lounge. He managed to pull himself up and get his body in the narrow space next to Dave before laying his head on the side of his chest. Draping the top arm over him, Nicky cuddled against Dave and renewed his sobbing.
Dave leaned over and kissed Nicky's head. He rubbed his cheek into his hair. "I'm sorry we hurt you. I never wanted to make you this upset."
The sobs wracked his body. "You don't want to be around me, just like my dad. He never gave me a chance either."
Would it be better to lie, or be more truthful? "You haven't even given me a chance to know you, Nicky. In time..."
"No, you want me to go away, just like him." Nicky took a deep breath and howled, crying harder. "My dad never loved me. He hit me and pushed me aside and nothing I ever did was good enough. I got a medical degree. I became a nurse! But was it good enough for him?!"
Dave had expected this kind of thing in Nicky's past. A person didn't become this twisted without a tragic past. He rubbed Nicky's head with his cheek and chin. "I'm so sorry he treated you like that. I would have been proud of you."
As Nicky continued, he started to cry so hard that Dave couldn't understand everything he was saying. The parts he understood were, "When I was a kid, my dad caught me with a boy from down the street. We were curious and we touched each other. My dad, he lost it. He got this broom and he held me down... and he... it hurt, it hurt... the broom handle... 'Is this what you like, faggot? Is this what you like?' That was his favorite word for me when he was angry."
Dave meant it when he said, "I'm so sorry those things happened to you, Nicky. No child should have to suffer such abuse."
"Do you really mean that?"
"Yes. Of course I do."
With a keening whine, Nicky hugged Dave tight and cried with his face buried in his chest. "I love you I love you I love you," he murmured.
Dave again rubbed his cheek into Nicky's hair. If he could get back at least some of his trust, maybe they could escape the threat of the nightmare, the threat that Nicky could murder them all.
Dave's hope for taking back some control of this situation fell with Nicky's next demand, a demand he made when he'd calmed down a little. "Dave, I'm still not entirely sure that you're not playing me here. I want you to prove it to me."
His voice grew cold. "Tell me what you did with Taylor."
Dave paused for a long time. Finally, he realized he just had to be honest. Nicky wouldn't believe anything else. "I won't. You have to realize that I love Taylor, and have for a very long time. I'm not going to help you kill him so you can steal his body."
"Have you ever considered that if Taylor cared so much about you, he would have taken his body back by now?"
"No, because the statue has a spell on it that gives you the power to keep Taylor asleep. He's not capable of waking up until the spell is broken."
Nicky, suddenly angry, grabbed Dave by the hair and yanked as hard as he could manage. "How do you know so much? How?"
"Kurt." Dave winced.
"Who's feeding him information?"
Would it be dangerous to tell him about Boddah? Len already knew Boddah was there, so surely, Nicky did too. "Boddah."
"Hm. I guess I should have known that." Teasingly, Nicky kissed and nipped at Dave's neck, not letting up on his hair, holding it tightly in his fist. "I'm starting to give up on you, Dave. You're a hard nut to crack."
"I've hardly known you 24 hours yet. I told you, I need time."
"Maybe I don't want to wait any longer. Maybe I want to break you." Nicky yanked his hair again, getting in his face. "Maybe I want to hurt you like you hurt me."
Dave begged for his peace of mind, his very life. "Please don't do that, Nicky. I never wanted to hurt you so bad. I just wanted my freedom."
"Stop hurting him," Chris said, his protective inner lion coming out.
Nicky grinned, evil and vindictive. "You know what I want to do? I want to kill Chris and take you away. Take you someplace no one will ever find you."
Chris whimpered. "God, no, don't. Please." His inner lion, reduced to a mewling kitten.
"I don't have any real use for Chris, except as a plaything." He caressed Dave's stomach. "I should fuck you in front of him. Or as you'd put it, rape you." Nicky's hand followed the trail of hair down Dave's midsection to his crotch, lightly fingering the thatch of dark hair above his cock. "I can do whatever I want."
"I beg you, Nicky, don't hurt Chris."
"You're not concerned with yourself?"
"I am, but I can take being raped much more than I can take you murdering any of my friends," Dave replied.
Nicky nodded. "I suppose I can understand that. You can make it all end right now. Just tell me what you did with Taylor."
Dave laughed lightly; he couldn't help it. "I just told you, I don't want my friends murdered. I already know what you intend to do with Taylor once you find him."
Taking his hand out of Dave's underwear, Nicky leaned up on one arm and lightly shrugged. "Then I guess we're at a standstill."
"I guess we are."
Nicky dragged himself up off the chaise and rose up on shaky legs. "I'm gonna let you sleep on it. In the meantime, we'll be looking for Kurt and Taylor. If we have to find them without your help... well, you won't like what happens." With a disturbingly confident smile, he turned and made his way up the stairs, carefully and slowly, on unsteady feet.
Before he spoke, Dave waited until he couldn't hear Nicky moving anymore. "Boy, that Nicky is a weird drunk. Starts out all weepy and depressed and ends up mean."
"How can you joke like that?" Chris said, his voice cracking.
Dave let out a hysterical-sounding laugh. "I'm Dave Grohl. It's what I do."
Chris pouted for a moment before saying, "I'm sorry. I should have known you were worried." He sighed, then swallowed hard. "Dave, what are we going to do? He really means everything he just said, doesn't he?"
"Yeah, Chris. I'm sorry. Nicky means every bit of it. He tried to kill Taylor's soul. He thinks he can kill Taylor and take over his body." Dave held back threatening tears. "Nicky feels we've all betrayed him. He put a hit out on Kurt too."
"Is Kurt hiding with Taylor?"
"Yes. I think Nicky's already figured that much out. I'm not going to say any more than that out loud in case anyone's listening." He looked at the stairs, wondering if Nicky was up there, still and silent, pretending to be somewhere else in the house. "When you fall asleep, try to resist going to the place with the white bed. It's not safe now. If you do go there, see if you can find a safe memory to hide in." Dave said this last part very quietly, so even Chris could barely hear him.
Chris whispered, "The ice cream truck?"
Nodding, Dave said, "That sounds good."
"Dave, how come I'm no longer a spare? At first, Nicky said he was keeping me alive in case he needed someone else to possess. Now I'm just a 'plaything.' What changed?"
All Dave could do was shake his head. "I guess he thinks it's only a matter of time until he finds Taylor, and gets to keep his body permanently."
"I guess so." His voice shaking, Chris asked, "So what now?"
Dave lowered his voice again. "I have to wake up Taylor so he can take his body back."
Surprised, Chris said, "Why you?"
"I don't know, it has something to do with the spell keeping Taylor asleep. I have to say something to him that I've never said."
"What does that mean?"
Dave closed his eyes and laid his head back on the chaise lounge. "I'm going to do everything I can to figure it out, but... Chris, I don't know." Again, he choked back tears. Everyone's lives were in his hands. "I've done all I can to take control of this situation, but I can't control Nicky. He's loony tunes. He murdered people, for Christ's sake. Why did I ever think I could seduce him into letting us all go?"
"Don't doubt yourself, Dave. You'll figure it out." Chris tried to smile for him; Dave sounded like he was starting to lose it. "You're a very persuasive guy."
"I hope you're right, buddy."
Dave didn't want to fall asleep for anything after Nicky's threats, but his need to try to make sure Kurt and Taylor were okay got him to allow exhaustion to take him. He and Chris slept fitfully that night.