Walking in Daylight Ch. 01byDanae72©
This part of the story will introduce you to the main characters in Walking In Daylight. There is no sex in this part, but I hope that it will help the rest of the story that should be posted without too much delay. Please feel free to tell me what works or doesn't, as long as any negative is done in a constructive manner!
For those who have read this before, I've changed the date error.
The little boy sat huddled on the grass by the stop sign. Ryan Sealey knew he should hurry and get home before his parents started to worry, but since the streetlights weren't on yet and he had his tracker on, he went over anyway. The kid looked vaguely familiar, probably lived nearby, although much too young to have really been noticed before.
"You lost kid?" Ryan was surprised at the way the boy hunched down away from him.
"No, just don't want to be home. Mum and Dad are fighting again, so it's best if I'm out of the way."
Ryan saw the other glance up quickly then look down again. That brief view of his face showed a rather large bruise on one cheek, along with a black eye. For some reason, the injuries made him angry. He wanted to sit and put an arm around the thin shoulders and give comfort. That was totally out of character for him. If his younger brother sat around looking so dejected, Ryan would cuff him on the back of the head and tell him to grow up.
"What's your name? How old are you?"
For the longest time, silence met his questions, until Ryan was sure he wouldn't learn the answer to either one. Finally a soft voice, thick with tears, whispered. "Penlan Taylor. I'm six tomorrow. You're Ryan Sealey and you're ten. You live over there and you have a brother my age called Benjie."
Taylor! Oh jeez, this was the Taylor kid. Ryan took a few steps backward and mumbled about having to get home. His last sight of Penlan was of him curling up on the grass, shoulders shaking violently. Shit, Ryan didn't want to hurt him, but he couldn't be seen being nice to any Taylor. The father was a known nightwalker. Sure, he was bound as harmless by his daywalker wife, whose blood had infected and neutralized the man, but that didn't mean people weren't afraid of them.
The information packet sent around every year or so, after Kylen Taylor's yearly testing, confirmed that he was still bound. It also revealed the almost pure daywalker status of Eleane Pritchard Taylor, and that their son, Penlan, was neither night nor daywalker, although he had very slight leanings to the direction of daywalker. All that meant was that, while he could not be turned into nightwalker, he also couldn't bind a nightwalker.
At his front porch, Ryan looked back and saw Penlan get to his feet and walk down the street, still hunched over. His clothes were loose and baggy. He still looked so very small, unlike Benjie, who was husky and looked like he was eight or so. Ryan almost decided to run over and offer to walk Penlan home, but his mother opened the door. She sniffed at the sight of Penlan and dragged him inside, warning him to keep a safe distance.
"Bad enough he's in poor Benjie's class, there's no need for any of us to associate with that kind in other situations. Get upstairs and ready for bed, Ryan. You should have been home half an hour ago."
Ryan pulled into the gas station on the way home from work. He gassed up and then went inside to pay and buy himself something to drink and munch on. His muscles ached from the long day of roadwork he'd done, a job that would last the summer under his uncle's watchful eye. Uncle Darrel firmly believed in not giving family a break. Even when the other guys took a break, he had to keep going.
As he debated between a sweet snack or a salty one, the clerk's harsh voice caught his attention. "I've told you before, daywalker, we don't serve your kind around here. Get out and don't come back!"
"Please, I just need milk and bread. I have money, so I don't understand why you won't let me buy them."
A daywalker shouldn't be refused service anywhere. Even nightwalkers, bound ones anyway, should not be refused. Ryan frowned and made his way towards the front. The clerk had his hand on the small daywalker's arm and was forcing him out of the store.
"Mr. Kelley. Shall I call my father to come in? Perhaps he will remind you that it is against the charter to refuse service to daywalkers. The Taylor family has lived in the area for at least ten years, if not longer. They need food and supplies just like anyone else."
The boy, who had to be older than he looked, turned around and looked off to the side. "It doesn't matter. I'll just go and get the milk and bread somewhere else. Thank you anyway."
Pen hurried out and looked up at the sky. It was already getting late. His mother would want him home before supper or there'd be hell to pay. Still, he now had to walk the 10 blocks to the grocery store, the only one that usually let him shop without any hassle. Sighing deeply, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his shorts and started forward, careful to keep his head down. Nobody would appreciate it if he accidentally met their eyes.
He didn't understand why people here were so against him. His cousin, Tania, had told him that in Riverton where she lived, she was able to go anywhere and do anything. The daywalkers there were welcome and treated well. Here, he was treated like dirt. Maybe it was because he and his mother were the only ones. Of course, if these people were basing their actions on his mother, then it was little wonder. She was a horrible person. Worse than his father, who was a bound nightwalker. The stories his father told him, and the things Pen himself had witnessed, showed that Eleane was an extremely dangerous person.
Pain flared up his legs and sides when Pen tripped on the uneven sidewalk. Yesterday's beating was a bad one. All because he was 20 minutes late in getting home from his afternoon walk. How bad would it be tonight? How long would he need to recover before he was able to get out for at least a few hours again? Why was his life so damned miserable? He was only 14 years old and he was already tired of life and living. Being at home was torture, being at school wasn't much better, and walking around town didn't bring him any comfort.
Pen felt his muscles tense when a car pulled up beside him. He knew better than to try and ignore it, so he stopped and waited to see if it would be a verbal or physical attack. "Hey kid, here, I bought your stuff for you."
Confusion poured through him and he dared a quick glance towards Ryan. "Why? I could get it from the grocery store."
This couldn't be good. People would see him talking to Ryan Sealey and things would be bad. Rumours might even reach his mother and that would cause trouble at home. Pen took a quick step back when Ryan seemed to appear out of nowhere on the sidewalk. He hadn't even noticed the other boy get out of his car and walk towards him. There was no need for him to look up. Too many times he'd watched the school baseball games and seen Ryan playing and laughing with his friends. Pen knew that the golden brown hair would be all messed up from both wind and hands running through it. He knew that the shoulders and chest would be barely hidden by the tight tees Ryan preferred. The broad but not overly muscles physique was one that attracted all the girls at school. He was everything Pen wished he could be.
It took a moment for him to realize that Ryan was talking to him and tried to focus. "It isn't right that he refused to let you buy this. My dad works at the police station, so I know what the charter allows and doesn't allow. Come on, take it, it's all right. You're Ken, right?"
"Pen, actually," Pen whispered even as he reached out for the bag with trembling fingers. "Thank you, but it would have been better if you'd just let it be. It will only make things worse."
Teenage voices began to shout taunts at Pen from across the street. Ryan looked over in annoyance and saw his brother and his friends there, who all scattered when they realised who he was. By the time he looked back, Pen was already running down the block towards his house. If one judged by his small stature, they would guess the boy was only 10 or 11 years old. Not only was he short, but he was also very delicate.
His blond hair was nearly white and was somewhere between curly and straight, falling just past thin shoulders. His eyes were nearly impossible to see, because of the way they stayed cast down during encounters, but they seemed to be green. Poor Pen seemed so desperately afraid and lonely and it didn't seem fair. The few times Ryan had seen the boy, the same thoughts came to mind, yet otherwise he never seemed to think of him at all.
His father needed to know about the treatment Pen got. Something had to be done, because no matter what his father was, Pen deserved to be treated like everyone else. Ryan hoped he would somehow be able to help at least a little more than he had today.
"Did you hear about the daywalker woman?" Ryan kept working, but kept his ears open to hear the men talking nearby.
"No. Tell me what happened. Her nightwalker husband break the binding and kill her and their kid?"
Bruce snorted at the thought. "Nah. Seems her kin came in yesterday and took her away. A sister or something took over the binding. Eleane Taylor was beating both the nightwalker and her kid. The binding kept the husband from fighting back, and the boy's just plain puny."
"That shouldn't have affected the binding. Once a nightwalker is bound, that's it for them, it can't change. Wonder what that's all about."
The conversation changed and Ryan stopped paying attention. Poor Pen! Not only was the town apparently against him and his family, but his own mother was abusing him. The long ago memory of the first time they'd spoken came to mind. 'Mum and Dad are fighting again, so it's best if I'm out of the way'. The beatings must have always happened, and because nobody liked the Taylors, nobody knew about them or did anything to stop them. Not even the school, which was supposed to watch for that kind of thing.
It just wasn't damned fair!
The coffee shop wasn't too crowded when Pen walked in hesitantly. He really didn't want to be there, but he also needed to talk to Ryan. Ryan was in town for just a few days, visiting his family. Pen had to talk to him because the man worked at a nearby office of the National Crimes Bureau. All Pen wanted was advice on how to proceed, because things were bad. Very bad.
The place was in a part of town he'd hardly ever been in before, so the staff treated him normally. It was kind of strange. Without the dark looks, the mumbled insults or the outright rudeness, Pen wasn't quite sure how to act. He'd even automatically smiled at the girl behind the counter. When he realized what he'd done, he almost felt like throwing up out of fear. A smile like that for Mr. Kelley at the gas station would likely result in a punch to the face.
In his entire life, only three people here in town hadn't shied away from him totally. His father was so kind and loving, even though he as a nightwalker. They would often spend part of the night together, talking and joking softly while his mother slept. It was just so difficult now, since he was gone all day while his father slept, and his father worked all night while Pen slept. Ryan Sealey had always been fairly nice to him, on those very few occasions their paths crossed. Then there was...no, that hadn't been real. So there were really only two people in town who were nice. His mother's family, especially Tania were great, but he saw them so rarely that they hardly counted.
Pen glanced up when the door opened and saw that Ryan had arrived. Pain squeezed at his heart and stomach at the sight of the older man. He walked in with such carefree confidence. Ryan smiled around and positively swaggered to place his order for coffee and a muffin. The man just knew, without really knowing, that he was welcome and accepted no matter what. Nobody would throw him out just for making an appearance. Nobody would call him names just for being alive and daring to walk with 'decent' people. No, Ryan was totally at ease and attracted the smiles and attention of everyone around him.
Suddenly Pen felt completely torn. He wanted to grab onto the man and hope that some of that acceptance rubbed off on him, and at the same time he wanted to run away so fast and so far that he somehow vanished from the face of the earth. Why had he called Ryan in the first place? Nobody could help him. By Monday morning, his life would turn into an even worse hell that it was now and it was his own fault for forgetting that he was a Taylor.
"Hi Pen," Ryan said with a grin as he dropped into the seat opposite. "Haven't seen you in a long time. I was kind of surprised to get your call."
"Yeah, well, you were off to college and besides, we don't exactly run around in the same social circles at the best of times." Pen offered a small smile to show that he was teasing a little. "Thank you for coming. I have a problem and I just don't know what to do. Or if there's anything I can do."
"Tell me what the problem is, and I'll do what I can to help."
It was obvious that Pen was nervous about talking to him. His hands gripped a folder tightly, bending it back and forth as he chewed on his lower lip. Ryan didn't push, waiting for the other to be ready, looking at the changes that had come since the last time they'd seen each other. The pale gold hair was a bit longer, but still waved, some parts almost curly. If it were shorter, it would probably all be a mass of curls. Even sitting down, Ryan could tell that he was small, probably no more than 5'5 and very slender. Other than a square jaw, Pen's face was almost delicate.
When Pen licked his lips in preparation to talk, Ryan found his attention drawn to the lips. They were pink and curved. A scar kept them from being perfectly smooth. It started just above the upper lip on the right side, just after the highest part of the curve, and ended a quarter inch below his lower lip. It was nearly mesmerizing, but Ryan pulled his eyes away. Pen's gaze was still locked on the folder, so he didn't notice how much his companion was staring, which suited Ryan just fine.
He had no idea why he was being so intent. So what if Pen's nose was straight and thin? So what if the lashes of the slightly angled eyes were more curved and long than most women's? Did it really matter that the eyebrows were arched, and colored a darker blond, along with the lashes? His throat cleared and it seemed to prompt the younger man into speech.
"Someone took some pictures of me. Pictures of an, um, intimate nature. They sent me copies, along with a message that said they would send them to the members of the sports teams of the high school over the weekend. It's probably already done. In general, this wouldn't be a problem, except that, well, those guys might not like who I was with." Pen turned a bright red and looked at Ryan for a moment. Ryan's frown immediately conveyed his confusion on why this was a problem. "The person's face isn't revealed, but that doesn't matter. It's painfully obvious that...I mean it's clearly...Oh damn, anyone could see in half a second that I'm not with a girl."
Understanding dawned on Ryan's face and Pen blushed furiously again. Ryan knew that while being gay wasn't that big a deal, for kids in high school, it could cause a problem. Especially in the showers after gym class, by those who were so intent on proving how macho and masculine they were. "Well, I can certainly understand how that could cause some awkwardness, and..."
"There's a bit more to this situation. Something that could be even more problematic." Pen took a deep breath, sipped at his cold coffee, and breathed deeply again. "Since my father is a nightwalker, I've inherited a particular trait. In certain circumstances, times where emotions are heightened, whether positive or negative, residual fangs make an appearance. They're nothing like those of a nightwalker," he was quick to say, nearly panicked, "and the instincts are not there but still. I've warned, um, partners about it so they wouldn't get scared. People seeing the pictures, though, might not understand."
"Jesus. Yeah, that could cause some trouble. So, the person you were with took these pictures and threatened to send them out."
"No, no, the person in the pictures is not the one who took the pictures. The one who took them told me who he was. It's possible, I suppose, that they were working together, but I doubt it. I just need to know, and I figured having training in law enforcement you might have good suggestions, what I can do to get through this. Stay away from school awhile? Inform the principal now about this so something can be done right away on Monday morning?"
Ryan wanted to help and leaned back in his chair thoughtfully. His first suggestions were both refused out of hand, which annoyed him. First was for Ryan to confront the sender and see if there was any way to prevent anyone from seeing the pictures. Maybe they hadn't been sent out yet. Pen vehemently refused to name the person, insisting that it wouldn't help, and would probably cause more problems. Second was for Ryan and Pen to go to the police station and talk to Ryan's father, who was now the chief. Again Pen refused, looking terrified, eyes wet with the tears he was trying to hold back.
It was very frustrating for Ryan. Instead of trying to think of other options, he began to push the younger man, insisting now to know who had took the pictures and threatened to expose the truth. Pen was suddenly reminded of his mother. She had a knack of trying to get him to admit to wrongdoing when she couldn't immediately find a reason to punish him. The moment she sensed a weakness, she would pick and push and manipulate him into saying something that would give her the excuse she wanted. The questioning might have started about whether his homework was done, or whether he'd snitched a cookie, and she would go until he said something that was against 'the rules'.
Panic caused Pen's heart to pound in his chest. He wondered that nobody seemed to hear it, especially Ryan. There was no escape, no matter how much he wanted to avoid it, he would tell the truth. At last, unable to take it anymore, he pressed his fists against his temples and blurted out that the person who took the pictures was Ryan's brother Benjie. Pen's fears came true after nearly 30 seconds of stunned silence.
"You're lying! There's no way in hell that Benjie would do something like that. What is this, some kind of daywalker trick? He's the son of the chief of police, for Christ's sake."
Pen felt sick. Here he'd come to speak to this man, then he was badgered into giving information he didn't want to give, and he was being treated like scum. Why was he so surprised? Everyone treated him like that. Just because Ryan treated him well in the past was of no consequence. It was nothing more than his desire to look good in front of others, act all kind and wonderful to boost his own ego and confidence.
With a hollowness that numbed him to all emotion, Pen gathered up the folder. When he spoke, his voice was low and flat. "I apologize for bothering you, Agent Sealey. Goodbye." He heard the other man call his name but ignored it, quickly leaving the coffee shop and then running towards home, using all the shortcuts he knew to get there quickly and without being seen.
Damnation! Ryan watched Pen run away from the coffee shop through the window. Watching the green eyes, that for once didn't stay locked down, turn empty had made him feel bad for his outburst. There was no way that Benjie could have done what Pen said. Maybe someone else was responsible and signed Benjie's name to divert the blame. That was certainly more plausible. Pen's reaction made Ryan certain that he hadn't knowingly lied. He truly believed what he was saying was the truth.