A Taste of HomebyDanae72©
Micah Taylor sat in the chair and looked at his boss even as his stomach dropped. After two years, in which he had received only high praise for his work, he was now being thanked and dismissed. He knew there was little use in arguing, they never changed their minds, but he couldn't help himself. Everything was going so well for him here until now.
"I don't understand. If there is a problem with my work, nobody mentioned it to me. All I've heard is that I do a good job, within the set deadlines and above the requirements."
"That is all true of course. Your work is above reproach." Samuel Jenkins hated having to do this, but his hands were tied. "After the recent attacks, the company feels that you are a liability. People are afraid to come to work, those in other departments. Your co-workers have no qualms at all, if that is of some consolation to you."
Micah uttered a harsh laugh. Oh yes, that was some consolation, except for the fact that he was still going to be out of a job. He needed the money to take care of his mother and sister and very few places hired nightwalkers, even a known half-breed such as himself. At twenty-three, this was his fifth job in three years, and he'd had such hopes for this one. It had lasted so long already that he'd become relaxed and content.
He should have been prepared after the first attack two weeks earlier, but he'd blithely assumed that it wouldn't touch him. These people knew him, after all. They worked with him, attended parties with him and would know that he was not at fault. There were other nightwalkers in the town, and he shouldn't be the one under automatic suspicion.
That wasn't quite fair. He was sure that the other two nightwalkers, bound just as he was, would probably also be dismissed. The thought brought his last possible argument to mind and he took a deep breath. It wouldn't change anything, but he had to try. His family depended on him and his income.
"Mr. Jenkins, please. You know that I'm bound. I get scanned every three months to keep my job, which is much more often than the once a year required by law. If I had attacked those people, I wouldn't be sitting here. I would have died right with the first attack."
"I'm sorry, but the decision is final. The company feels that there is no research to prove that a half-blood nightwalker would be constrained by a binding in the same manner as a full nightwalker." Now Jenkins began to feel uncomfortable as crystalline blue eyes narrowed on his face. He could almost see the thought process that zeroed in on the true unfairness of this dismissal.
"So. With that, I learn that you won't dismiss the other nightwalkers. How unfortunate that I can't prove the binding is effective. I mean, if I attack you and succeed, I'll be dismissed; if I attack you and don't succeed, I'll die a very painful death. I will be visiting lawyers, Mr. Jenkins. Please let the company know that they don't have a legal leg to stand on."
It was an empty threat and they both knew it. Micah felt childish for even uttering it but he had to say something. He didn't stay in the office, even when Jenkins began talking about a severance package. The money would help, but not for long. With all the recent attacks, and being let go from a job where attacks took place, nobody would want to hire him. They would see it as an unacceptable risk. He'd been through it before coming to work in the restoration department here.
The problem was that people knew he'd been born to a nightwalker father and full human mother. Never mind that this was how true nightwalkers existed. If he'd been born five years earlier, such a notation would not have been included in his permanent file. People believed that true nightwalkers were turned and he was part of some kind of new aberration. He couldn't explain the truth, so he kept his mouth shut against the injustice.
Having sold the family car a few months earlier to pay for new medicines after an unexpected hospital stay by his mother, Micah walked home in the darkness. He didn't worry about nightwalkers or other nighttime dangers; they couldn't bother him. There was that, at least. All he had to do was flash his fangs and everyone would leave him alone. Nightwalkers couldn't feed from him and the criminal element wouldn't dare accost him further in case he wasn't bound. They wouldn't take the chance. Besides, even a bound nightwalker could count on the assistance of regular nightwalkers, though they only used it as an excuse. The unbound welcomed any excuse for an attack.
When he next looked up, Micah saw where his feet had taken him. The house, lonely and small since rows of townhouses surrounded it, sat behind a small fence and gate. The tiny yard was the only one on this street. He remembered hearing how the builders of the townhouses tore their hair out when they couldn't buy the property from the elderly owner.
The elderly owner, a lady by the improbable name of Guinevere Lancelot Jones, was dead and buried now. The property had passed on to her grandson, Jack Lancelot Miller, about five years ago. Micah could probably walk through the entire house with his eyes closed he'd been here so often. Tonight would be the last night. He knew Jack wouldn't want him around if he didn't have a job. Best to get it over with. It would be a relief, really.
The front door opened before he was halfway up the walk and he froze in place. Right in front of him, Jack and Becky Harper, the woman who lived next door, were locked together in a passionate embrace. The woman who was married and whose two kids made Jack swear whenever he talked about them.
At least there's no need for a confrontation, Micah mused as he waited for the pair to see him. Once they did, Jack swearing slightly, Micah simply turned and walked away. It was nice to have someone in his life, but he had long ago lost any feelings for the man. He stayed because it was comfortable and it was easier to have someone than to go out looking when the mood struck.
The lights were on when Micah got home from his latest job interview. This one was for a factory that did not have a night shift but needed someone to act as security. The machinery was very valuable, as were the computer systems, and after three break-ins within two months, the owners wanted someone on the site around the clock.
As a nightwalker, even though he was small, he could handle anything that might come up. His strength was above average compared to non-nightwalkers, even if it was nothing like the old movies used to portray. This, coupled with his ability to see in the dark and move with speed and agility, helped him to pass all the tests the interviewers set up for him. So far as he knew, he was the only nightwalker to have applied, which should work in his favor. Another point in his favor was the lack of any other personnel on the premises after nightfall.
There was half an hour until sunrise, but Micah planned on spending a couple of hours with his mother and sister. Unlike turned nightwalkers, he could tolerate all but the strongest sunlight. He only needed to take cover between ten and three most of the year, except for summer, when it extended from nine to about four in the afternoon. He didn't advertise this to anyone, not even lovers, because it usually caused more problems than not.
"Mom? Jenny?" There was already a light on in the kitchen, which was unusual so early in the morning. His mother, Sarah Watson Taylor, often woke up when he arrived, but not before. Both his mother and younger sister sat in the kitchen, waiting for him. "What is it, is something wrong? Are you feeling sick, Mom?"
"I'm fine, Sweetie. Jenny opened up her letter from the university last night after you left. She got a full scholarship, plus the offer of a job at the campus library because of her exceptional grades."
Micah gaped for a moment, then let out a whoop of pleasure. "Jenny that's fantastic! I always knew you got all the brains in the family." He hugged his sister close for a long time. She was just like their mother, taller than he was, and had of course inherited none of the nightwalker genes.
They looked nothing alike, but were very close. She had black hair while his was blond. She had brown eyes while his were blue. Both of them loved old movies and blushed at the slightest provocation. Of course, his blushes were easier to see because of his pale skin, but she certainly blushed as well.
"You're no slouch in the brains department either, Micah," his mother admonished, disliking when he put himself down. "The only reason you didn't go to college is..."
"Because they wouldn't accept a nightwalker and they have no idea of the fabulous student they let slip through their fingers." He was well aware of what his mother thought. Truth was, he needed to work twice as hard as his sister to get the same grades and didn't really want to go to college or university. "Be that as it may, Jenny is smarter than anyone else I know."
"Whatever you say. Now, Jenny would like to move out there right away, since she can get an early start with a summer semester. With her gone, I think the time is right for me to move to an assisted living facility. My health is deteriorating rapidly and it would be for the best."
"No! I can take care of you even if I do get a job. I'll only be gone at night, while you're sleeping, and I can do a lot before I have to go to the basement for some sleep and rest. We can manage just fine right here, together."
The thought of his mother in one of those facilities bothered him. Weren't they just for the elderly? His mother wasn't old by any stretch of the imagination at forty-eight. She wouldn't be happy there, with nothing to do to keep herself busy.
"Micah, Sweetie, I didn't want to worry you, but I can hardly get around anymore, my bones hurt." Micah wanted to argue, but she held a hand up to stop him. "My mind is made up. I'm dying, simple as that. I need to be where I have easy access to doctors, day and night. I love you baby, but this really is for the best.
There is something you need to do, and now is the perfect time to get it done. It's time for you to go to Rutherford. Find your cousin and tell him the history your uncle refused to tell him. It's important; you and I both know that. Your father knew, may God have mercy on him, but he just didn't go in time. It's up to you now."
Micah didn't say a word. He got up and changed his clothes so he could go run in the park. Running was one of those things that baffled every other nightwalker of his acquaintance, including his father. It baffled them because he didn't run in the 'nightwalker way', with his great speed. No, he used his human muscles, pushing himself to greater speeds and distance in that way. A few times, when he ran longer than expected, he switched to nightwalker running, which wasn't really running at all, to get home on time. That didn't happen too often, though, because it felt like cheating to him.
As he ran, he tried to come to terms with all the changes in his life. He had no job, no boyfriend, his sister was going off to college and his mother had decided to go into assisted living. For the first time in his life, Micah was going to be alone. It was selfish of him to want things to remain the same. If his mother wanted to do this, it really was her decision. It didn't mean she didn't love him, nor did it mean that she didn't trust him to take care of her. All it meant was that she was ready to move on to a different phase of her life, the final phase perhaps. Only he seemed to be unable to move forward.
Micah started his third circuit of the park. He began to realize why he had such trouble accepting his mother's decision. He knew deep down that she was dying, but her decision really brought it home. The truth could no longer be denied. Although many cures and treatments were available for diseases that used to be incurable, his mother had one that still resisted all attempts. It was a relatively new disease, ironically caused by an over-the-counter medicine of the late twentieth century. There were other factors, such as health or an existing weakness, which explained why it wasn't more widespread.
The downward spiral of his life began when his father died a little more than two years previously. He wasn't foolish enough to think his father's death was the cause, just that it all started at about the same time. Ghislain Taylor had tried to go speak with his father about a disturbing rumor he heard. It seemed that Johan Taylor wanted to rid the world of the 'daywalker curse' and worked to that end. Ghislain tried to talk his father out of it, but in the end only succeeded in infuriating the man. Johan threw his own son out a window in the middle of the day, which caused him to burn and die.
Sure Johan regretted the action, he hadn't wanted to kill his son, but his letter of explanation did not apologize; only warned the family not to interfere anymore. Before going to see his father, Ghislain was preparing to go meet up with his brother, Kylen, who had bound himself to a woman and had a son. Micah wanted the meeting to go forward with him going instead of his father, but the time had never been right.
"Mom?" He knew he needed to tell his mother he was fine with her decision. She looked worried when she came out of the kitchen to see him, and then relaxed as she correctly read his expression. "You do whatever you have to do, Mom. I'll take care of selling the house and putting our things in storage before I travel to Rutherford to meet up with my cousin. What was his name again? Just in case Uncle Kylen's moved on from there and I need to find him."
"That's a good idea. We lost even the most basic contact when your father died. Your cousin's name...hmm, let me think a moment. If I'm not mistaken, his name is Penlan. Yes, Penlan Taylor, that's right."
Simon Rousseau leaned back in the chair of the pub and took a deep drink of the beer in front of him. He was winding down after a long week at work with a couple of guys from work. Jimmy Sparks, his occasional partner at the National Crimes Bureau, Donovan Andrews, also from the NCB and Ryan Sealey, from the Federal Daywalker Protection Agency, which had its offices in the same building. If a case required both agencies to work together, he was generally paired with Ryan.
"That hits the spot. It's been one hell of a week, that's for sure."
They had all been working on a string of bank robberies, carried out by a gang who only approached daywalker employees. The robbers allowed everyone but daywalkers to leave during the commission of the robbery. Twice the robbers had shot and seriously injured daywalkers, although thankfully there were no fatalities.
"At least we got them before anyone was killed," Ryan sighed, taking a pull off his own beer. "Pen and the ladies should join us soon. Carlie won't be here, though, her parents are coming into town for a visit."
Jimmy slumped down in his chair. He wanted the opportunity to hit on Ryan's partner but hardly ever got up the nerve when they were together. They all tried to push him into doing something, anything, but their efforts were wasted. Jimmy found himself tongue tied and nervous when in the same room with the beautiful woman.
Simon shook his head. "Well, Elisabeth won't be with them. She moved out this morning, swearing she didn't want to put up with my shit and long work hours anymore. Up until now, she always said she was fine with what I do for a living. Guess she finally decided it was too much for her."
The others all nodded their heads, knowing that not many outside the job could understand and accept the demands put on the agents. Only Ryan had someone really supportive and long term, his husband Penlan Taylor. The others had girlfriends. Simon and Elisabeth had been together four months and until that morning, she hadn't even hinted that she was unhappy.
Donovan caught sight of his old partner, who had moved on to another city. He dragged Jimmy with him after a quick glance at Ryan. Simon wondered what that look was for but figured he'd hear about it soon enough.
"Simon, I've told you this before, but I never did think Elisabeth was right for you. You need something else, and I wonder if you even know it."
It didn't take a genius to know what Ryan meant. He did not intend to make it easy, or give in. "I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Not sure I want to know what it is, either."
"You'd probably have much better luck if you went with what your heart really wants. I doubt what your heart wants is a woman."
There it was, now out in the open between them. Simon knew he was attracted to men, but he liked women as well. Men were not for him, though. He wanted a nice woman who would give him the kids he desperately wanted. If he couldn't find the right woman, that was one thing, but a man put kids out of the equation completely.
"It's not going to happen, Ryan. I like men just fine, but no, I have no intention of dating one or building my life with one." He drained the rest of his beer and looked around for a replacement. "You're happy with Pen, and it's easy to see the two of you were meant to be together, but that just isn't for me."
"I've seen the way you stare at Pen. You look like a kid who's seen that all the presents under the Christmas tree are for him but he can't touch them. I don't mind," Ryan hurried to say when he saw the appalled expression his words caused, "and I'm pretty sure nobody else has noticed. Well, maybe Donovan, though I sometimes think that he can read minds"
Turning his head away from those knowing, golden eyes, Simon had to wonder just how obvious he was. He didn't remember staring at Pen, not for very long at any rate, although he would have to be dead not to have noticed the beautiful young man. He couldn't deny that Pen was gorgeous. Small and delicate, with wavy pale blond hair and piercing green eyes, he nonetheless didn't look too feminine. There was enough angularity to his facial features to save him from that, along with understated strength in his slender body.
Dear God, he must have been staring to notice all that. Simon wondered who else might have noticed. The thought made him uncomfortable and he shifted in his seat. In this day and age, being gay didn't hold the same stigma as in his father's day, when people hid their sexual preference if it was different from the majority of the population. The term 'being in the closet' was almost unheard of, unless your name was Simon Rousseau and the only son of Antoine and Marie Rousseau. His parents' fondest wish was for him to provide them with at least three grandchildren to love and spoil.
He needed to do something to make sure Ryan believed his assumption was incorrect. Because Ryan's assumption was incorrect. He might stare at Penlan Taylor Sealey, but it wasn't in a way that said 'I want you'; more like 'You represent what I want, even if it isn't you'. Possibilities came and went, none feeling just right, until he said the only thing he could: Deny, deny, deny.
"I appreciate beauty in all its forms, Ryan, and I'll admit your husband is beautiful. It's nothing more than that, though, I assure you. My parents are artists and I trained as an artist for several years, therefore I see objects and people in the way they can be brought to canvas."
It was kind of weak, but he couldn't explain it any clearer, even to himself. When he looked at Pen, it was as though he was expecting something or someone else to be there. Ryan apparently didn't think much of his explanation either, although the arrival of Pen and the two other ladies interrupted anything else he might have said.
Simon and Carlie Simmonds, Ryan's partner at the FDPA, were keeping watch on a nightclub in the warehouse district. When the reports first came in, neither one of the agencies could pin down anything about such a club. Night and Day apparently only opened on certain days and at certain times, with no discernible pattern they could fathom. Most of their information came by way of an anonymous tipster, who always called them about an hour before the club opened its doors.