Breakfast in the hotel room. Doug had gone to pick something up from a store nearby. It was ten in the morning and the three of them sat eating silently. Taylor was cross-legged on one of the beds while Doug and Halloran sat in chairs.
"We should start thinking about what we're gonna do when we get home," Doug said, breaking the silence.
Taylor looked up, surprised. "What do you mean?"
"Well," Doug shrugged his shoulders, "are we gonna see if we can get our internships at the news station back? We had done this documentary for a school project, but obviously we might not be able to use it."
Doc Halloran nodded. "He has a point. Eventually you two are going to have to return to "real life", so to speak." He hooked his fingers in air quotations. The gesture struck Taylor as absurd to see from him but she didn't comment. Instead she looked at the breakfast sandwich on a croissant Doug had brought her. A month ago she would have been excited that he had remembered that she loved croissants but now it seemed inconsequential. It was hard to even think of returning to "real life" when her favourite foods were tasteless in her mouth.
"Doc," Doug put his food aside. "I think it's harder for Taylor, and for me, than you realize. We were friends with him—"
"—I loved him," Taylor blurted. She kept her eyes down, her face flushing red and not wanting to see the looks on their faces. "I... I love him still, I think. I don't know. I realized it the night he... the... He cried. He was so happy. I still didn't know he was serious about killing everyone. I thought he was a strange sort of artist or something, I don't know. A prank. But I loved him."
Doug rubbed a hand through his hair. He had suspected a long time ago that Taylor had a crush on Les. When they first started filming it had been kind of funny. Their first solo project and she had been acting like a thirteen year old girl when the camera was off. When everything went crazy, Les actually killing those kids, Doug felt like his heart had been squeezed in a fist. He couldn't believe his bro, goofy Leslie who loved magic tricks, had actually murdered two teenagers. On the wings of this initial feeling, he hurt for Taylor. He knew how she felt and he had seen the heartbreak and revulsion on her face as the sickly wet noise of Les' scythe could be heard from the next room.
And then the weird sense of dull unreality set in and continued until Taylor dispelled it by challenging them to go with her to try and save the kids.
Doc Halloran stood up, face pale. Taylor still had her head down and couldn't see the expression on his face but Doug caught it. "Taylor," Doc said, fighting hard to keep his voice level and normal, "maybe you should look into getting psychiatric treatment. You must be struggling terribly with guilt and confusion, especially if your feelings towards Leslie were that... complicated."
Taylor finally looked up but only Doug saw Halloran's stricken expression snap into one of kindly concern. "Can you help me?" her voice was quiet but firm. Not needy at all. "You're a doctor."
"I can try," Halloran's control over his emotions was impressive. Doug was curious about the doctor's reaction to Taylor's confession. It seemed out of character for him. Not that they had known each other for long.
Doc Halloran muttered something and darted out of the hotel room. Taylor frowned, taken aback. "Is he okay?" she asked, suddenly worried, "Did I offend him?"
Doug shrugged. He stood, stretched and patted Taylor's shoulder. "You finish eating, Tay. Go shower and get ready if you want. I'll go see what's up with him. Later we should call the station about our internships."
She nodded. Doug smiled reassuringly at her. "Are you gonna be okay alone for a bit?"
Doug left the hotel room. He turned a corner and began walking towards the elevators. Everyone was off, which was understandable. He had always thought that Doc Halloran was better grounded than he and Taylor were, but with this sudden flight from the hotel room, Doug wasn't so sure anymore.
He found Doc Halloran sitting with his head in his hands at a table in the hotel's restaurant. He slid into the bench seat across from him. "You okay?"
"No, Doug," he replied tersely. "I'm not okay." He dropped his hands and frowned at the younger man. "Is Taylor alone?"
"She said she'd be okay," Doug said defensively. "It's not like I abandoned her, Doc. She's just in the room."
Halloran sighed, his shoulders slumping. "I'm trying very hard to be strong for her, Doug. And for you. But it's hard. If I'm the only solid thing in your lives, what else can I do?"
"I don't need you to be strong for me," Doug told him. "I'm coping better than Taylor is, I think. I can't wait to get home and to start working again. I want to see my mom and brother. But I know how you feel. I don't want to leave Taylor and she doesn't seem ready to go home yet."
Halloran studied Doug's face. He could see the honesty in Doug's face. The plain, earnest caring the young man brought with him was extraordinary. Halloran was impressed with how true of friends Taylor had. Todd, poor guy, had sacrificed himself with the half hearted hope of getting away but also with the true intention to give his friends a fighting chance of survival. Doug had even stood up to Leslie. Yes, Doug had accidentally smashed him in the head with a shovel, but he had also put himself between Leslie and Taylor, face to face with the killer and took a hard hit.
"Doc," Doug started cautiously, "What are your feelings towards Tay?"
Doc Halloran waved away a waiter who had finally scurried over. His face had gone pale again but his eyes were steely. "I've developed some romantic feelings," he said flatly. "I am not planning on acting upon them."
Doug shook his head and held up his hands in a way that said 'whoa there'. "I'm not criticising. At all. What you choose to do with those feelings is none of my business. I just told Taylor I'd make sure you were okay. Don't worry," he added quickly, seeing a protest rising to Halloran's mouth, "I'm not gonna say anything to her, man."
In the hotel room Taylor was laying on a bed with her eyes closed. She was tired, despite having slept fairly well. She always slept better when Doc Halloran or Doug was there. Last night it had only been Halloran and herself. Doug had gone back to Glen Echo to pick up their van. The police said they could take it, since they had taken all DNA samples, finger prints and such that they could find. It wasn't like the police needed more physical evidence to prove Leslie had done it, especially since they had the body.
It was creepy to think that somewhere in Glen Echo; Leslie's body was sitting on a slab in a freezer. Everything that made Leslie unique was gone. Only the shell that housed his essence was left and it was cold and dead. The thought hurt and relieved her at the same time. The Leslie she had fallen in love with was wiped from the planet. The flip side of the coin was the Leslie that had killed so many was as equally buried.
Taylor could feel herself slipping into sleep. How long had it been since Doug and Doc Halloran had left? She wasn't sure. They would be coming back soon, she reasoned. She could have a quick nap. They'd wake her up before she was deep enough to dream.
She didn't know where the dreams were coming from. Doc kept telling her it was her subconscious rehashing the trauma Leslie caused. She was only skeptical because she didn't recognize anything from her dreams. The room she kept going to and the laugh she kept hearing where unfamiliar. The laugh definitely wasn't Leslie's or anyone she had encountered in her life that would have been considered an aggressor, like a childhood bully. The hissing steam she often heard only reminded her of the hot water boiler in her parents' house when she was a kid. Had something happened to her as a kid she had forgotten about?
Taylor suddenly sat up. She looked at the alarm clock on the bedside table. It was one in the afternoon. She jumped to her feet. Doug and Halloran had been gone for hours. They had left her there! Panic rose in Taylor's body, tensing her muscles as she prepared to flee. A sliver of rationality wedged itself into her panicked mind. She talked herself away from the urge to run through the hotel halls calling for her friends. They must have come in while she was sleeping and figured they'd let her rest. God knows they were all exhausted.
Picking up the key card from the bedside table, Taylor left the hotel room. She might as well go see if the guys were around somewhere. More likely than not, they were at the hotel restaurant drinking coffee. There wasn't much else to do in Springwood.
When Taylor got to the elevators, there was an "out of order" sign on them and an arrow pointing to the stairwell. Odd. It must have broken recently. Taylor stepped into the stairwell and started down the stairs. Their hotel room was on the second floor so there wouldn't be far to go.
Taylor suddenly came upon an unexpected set of stairs. They led to a dingy looking landing which had only one unmarked door. She looked behind her, thinking she must have missed something. This had to be a service stairwell for staff. The door was dirty and beaten up. It was obviously not for guests to be using.
A shriek tore from Taylor's throat. Behind her the stair case she had descended was gone. There was only a wall. She pounded on it with her fists, shouting. It was useless.
She pressed her forehead against the wall, panting. Think, Tay, it was Leslie's voice in her head, which made her feel better and worse simultaneously, there has to be a logical explanation.
"It's a dream," Taylor breathed. Feeling calmer, she reaches for the doorknob. It swung open before she could touch it. More stairs greeted her.
The laughter from her last dream floated up from where the stairs disappeared. Taylor couldn't see what was at the bottom. The stairwell either turned or the lights had given out. Only a dream, Tay, Leslie's voice said. Taylor could feel herself being drawn to the stairs. She took one step down and then another.
Soon Taylor was half way down before she realized it. The laughter rang out again, louder. It sent a shiver down her spine.
Click. Click click. Click click click clickclickclick.
Taylor couldn't stop walking. It was like she was watching the dream and not dreaming it. She found herself peering through darkness. Her feet touched metal and every footstep rang out. Soft light began to flicker from somewhere in the room and she suddenly felt terribly hot.
Click. Click. Click. Click.
Laughter again, only closer. Taylor spun, trying to source it. "Who are you?" She called out.
She turned once more, eyes widening and mouth dropping.
"Leslie," she gasped.
He grinned and swung at her with his right hand. His fingers glittered with metal.
Doug got a solid smack from Taylor's flailing hand. He grunted but ignored the stinging pain. He caught her wrist and called her name again. Taylor shook him off and continued to kick and scream.
Doc Halloran stepped around Doug and grabbed bold of both of Taylor's hands. He locked his fingers between hers and pushed down, forcing her to lie back on the bed. Her screaming stopped as she took a breath. Halloran took the opportunity to lean forward quickly and say "Taylor!" forcefully.
Her eyes flew open, pupils searching wildly. She finally focused on Halloran and burst into tears. He dropped her hands and pulled her into a hug. "It was him," Taylor sobbed, "Oh God, it was him. It was Leslie."
"Shh," Halloran hushed her, "It was a dream, Taylor, you were dreaming."
Doug draped his arms over her shaking shoulders too. "Tay, it's alright. We're here now."