Walking in Daylight Ch. 04byDanae72©
I want to thank you all again for the wonderful comments I've received on the previous chapters. I'm pretty sure there will be only one more chapter after this one.
Please keep up with the comments, and anything negative, please keep constructive!
Every day since his dinner with Pen, Ryan checked the logs as soon as he got to the office, to see if anything came in that related to Pen. The note left in his apartment seemed to indicate that Pen felt obligated to, well, to service him. He thought about his words, and while he couldn't think of anything off-hand, perhaps all the wine he drank with dinner played with his memory somewhat.
Then there were the pictures. He knew that he often looked at them, but until they were gone, he never realized just how much it happened. At least twice a day found him reaching for the album and sometimes it was more often than that.
"Carlie, are you just getting in now?" Ryan saw that his partner still had her briefcase and car keys in her hand.
"Nah, I've been upstairs and logged in already. When this call came in though, I grabbed it. I knew you'd want to be the one to follow up." She handed over the request sheet from reception. "I'd say we should be the last ones to go, if I thought it would do any good."
The report said that Penlan Taylor was attacked outside an all-night restaurant some time after midnight. He went home after something scared away the attacker and called a friend, Joey Compton, who called it in to the FDPA in the morning, against the victim's wishes.
Ryan took a deep breath. He could handle this. It would seem strange for him to refuse to go after looking for Pen for a month. He just didn't really want their meeting to be in an official capacity. Carlie had their workstation clone in her briefcase, so he followed his partner down to the car.
The address was in an area of town he hadn't visited yet, other than his initial run-through to get acquainted. They pulled up to a duplex and Ryan was impressed. It wasn't very large, but it stood on a larger-than-average plot, which meant the neighbours weren't too close. Flowerbeds lined the front of both sides of the duplex, empty now even though spring was fast approaching. Everything was very neat and clean. It was a wonderful place for Pen to live.
Joey opened the door and smiled at him. "Ryan! I'm glad you're the one who came."
"Thanks, Joey. This is my partner, Agent Carlie Simmonds. Could we see Pen, so we can take his statement on the attack?"
"Yeah, the thing is," he paused and looked over his shoulder with a grimace. "The thing is Pen didn't want me to call. He really doesn't want to have anyone see him. Come on in. Maybe you'll have more luck getting him out of the kitchen."
Ryan looked around in interest. The apartment was very nicely furnished, colourful without being too much. They were currently in the living room, with a couch and armchair in brown leather, and a recliner in burgundy leather. Cream-coloured throw cushions sat on both the couch and chairs about. The pattern of the area rug, lying beneath the coffee table, contained those three colours. Pictures covered the walls, many different genres but somehow going together. An entire wall held shelves held books and various knick-knacks.
Joey gestured towards a door to show where the kitchen was, and where Pen was hiding. It was an old-fashioned door, with a crystal knob and keyhole underneath. It was entirely made of frosted glass panes, except for a six-inch border all around. Ryan could see shadows through it, but that was all.
"Pen? Pen, it's Ryan. I'm here with my partner, Agent Simmonds. Joey called us about your attack. Won't you come out here and talk to me? Us?"
"It wasn't really an attack. Nobody hit me or anything like that." Ryan heard a heavy sigh. "I just...it was late and I got nervous, so I called Joey to come over. It wasn't anything to do with me or because I'm a daywalker half-breed. I'm not injured, not even a bruise I didn't already have. Honest."
Joey stepped forward, speaking with a soft voice. "And what about what he took from you? That isn't right, Pen. Come on out, it's all right. Show them."
"Oh, well, yes, he took something from me, but really, it isn't that important in the scheme of things."
Carlie decided it was her turn to try. "Mr. Taylor, Pen, please come out here. I'd really like to know what's happened. Right now, it sounds quite mysterious and my curiosity is piqued. This person didn't really attack you, didn't harm you, and yet took something that makes you want to hide away. Please."
Pen asked for a few minutes, promising that he would be out soon. He inquired if anyone wanted drinks and they all asked for coffee. Making their drinks would give him the time to get ready to come out.
Ryan asked Joey what was going on, but he didn't get an answer. Joey just told him that it was something he had to see for himself. While it wasn't bad, he told them, it was just something personal that nobody had a right to take without asking. Even if no one was injured.
The kitchen door opened and Pen stepped out slowly, holding a tray with their drinks. He fixed his eyes on the floor as he approached them. Ryan saw a blush stain the cheeks that were normally pale and flawless. His breath caught in his throat when he realized what the attacker took from Pen. The memory of all their past encounters paraded through his mind as he simply stared.
"Oh Pen. He cut your hair."
The hair that had hung down the slender back was now a riot of curls that left the graceful neck bare. Ryan always knew that the golden white hair, previously a mix of straight and waved strands, would curl if cut short and this was the proof. It was clear that Pen didn't like his new look, appearing embarrassed.
Ryan smiled slightly and reached out a hand to gently touch the curls. "It doesn't look bad. Different, but it looks fine."
"I feel kind of. I've never had or wanted short hair. The shortest I've ever had it was at my shoulder blades, and I thought that was bad." The small man shrugged slightly, his eyes flickering up for a moment before returning to their study of the floor. "Hair grows back and it's really no big deal."
Carlie's phone rang and she stepped away to answer it. Ryan could feel the distress coming from Pen, even though it didn't show on his face. "We have another call, Ry. It's nothing major so I'll go handle it while you finish up here."
Joey said he had to call in to work to say he would be late, but Pen insisted he go in, that he would be fine. It wasn't long before the two men were alone. Pen broke the uncomfortable silence by setting the tray down on the coffee table and gesturing for Ryan to sit. He then talked about the incident. He left the MedLabs at just after one in the morning, since he was working there part-time during inventory. Some other people he worked with wanted to stop at a restaurant for something to eat, and he agreed.
He fell behind a bit because he needed to check his messages. His landlady was supposed to call during the evening, and his cell was off while he worked in the lab. A man grabbed hold of Pen's hair as he was about to enter the restaurant. Telling him not to fight, the man started to pull him off to the side. That's when one of his co-workers shouted from the doorway and his attacker cursed, pulled out a knife and cut his hair.
Pen felt so naked without his long hair. Every few minutes he had to stop himself from reaching up to twine his fingers in it. He looked cute for fuck's sake. When he bent his head forward, there was no curtain of hair to hide his face. Now he was alone with Ryan and he felt exposed. After quitting his job so Ryan couldn't find him, it didn't seem fair that this had to happen and bring the man right back into his life.
Every night he remembered the taste, feel, and sound of Ryan. With his past, Pen rarely felt the urge to touch himself or relieve sexual tension. That was all he could think about for the past month though. It wasn't just at night, either. If he thought about Ryan, or saw something that reminded him of the man even slightly, he felt himself harden. Dealing with a hard on at work was getting more difficult every day. Thank God, nobody had noticed. Or at least mentioned it to him.
While he related the facts of the attack, Pen tried and failed to keep his eyes off Ryan's face. The agent was being all business, thankfully, writing down his account in a small notebook. He actually used pen and paper, which kept his attention there rather than on where Pen's eyes were.
"Was the voice familiar at all?"
Pen felt like his face had caught on fire. Ryan looked up to ask the question and caught his eyes. "No. No, he didn't sound familiar." Damn, Pen didn't even recognize his own voice at the moment. It sounded both choked and breathy, which shouldn't even be possible.
Before he could make a fool of himself and throw himself at Ryan, Pen jumped to his feet and hurried to stand at a window. Why was this happening to him? Just because he acknowledged that he had a crush on the man didn't mean he didn't have any self-control. Ryan should remind him of all his past boyfriends, not banish them from his mind. He'd sworn to himself that he wouldn't even think of getting involved with anyone unless they were the total opposite to this man. Right now, he was definitely thinking of getting involved, and more, with hunky Ryan Sealey.
The warm weight of Ryan's hand on his shoulder made him whimper and try to move, but there was nowhere to go. Pen turned slowly and lifted his head, but kept his eyes fixed off to the side.
"I didn't expect anything from you, Pen. I'm sorry if anything I said or did made you think that."
"Y-you had pictures of me." Pen had to ask the question that had bothered him since the moment he opened that album, even though he'd barely acknowledged his fears to himself. It was almost the hardest thing he'd ever had to do. "Did you like...well. Tony used to like to have pictures of when I was hurt. It kind of, um, turned him on. Is that why you kept it?"
The confused expression on Ryan's face seemed to last an eternity. Pen then saw the man pale as the meaning sank in. "Oh! No! No, no, no that isn't why I kept it. Jesus! I kept it to remind me of my stupidity. Because of me, because I couldn't believe my brother would do something like that, you were hurt."
"It would have happened even if you had believed me. Benjie had already sent out the pictures. Believing me over your brother wouldn't have changed a thing. If they couldn't get me at school, they would have cornered me somewhere else. I'd pretty much accepted the way everyone in town treated me by the time I was ten, Ryan.
"Rutherford is a lot better, but I'm still not accepted everywhere. Daywalkers don't like me because I'm part nightwalker; nightwalkers really don't like me because I'm part daywalker; and the normal people don't like me because I'm a half-breed. I've learned by now where to go, and where not to go. It's my life, I've accepted it."
"You shouldn't have to accept it!"
Pen jumped back a bit at the way Ryan shouted. He knew that tone of voice. He knew the angry look that went with that voice, too. As unobtrusively as possible, Pen pressed back against the wall beside the window, hands flat on the surface and face turned down and to the side. Usually he would have his hair to cover his face, to hide that he wasn't really there in the moment. His mind disconnected from his body, waiting for what would happen to see how deep inside it needed to go.
Ryan didn't hit him or grab him. Pen moved his eyes slowly and saw Ryan just standing there, eyes sadly watching him. Had anyone ever looked at him that way? Maybe the nurses looked at him like that when he was in the hospital, but he hadn't felt it then. It was their job to be compassionate, so he regarded that expression as part of a mask they pulled on before entering a room. Here, now, the expression told him that his reaction actually hurt Ryan; that Ryan felt bad for having frightened him.
I'M SORRY! Pen didn't know if he screamed those words out loud or only in his head. Without thinking, he launched himself against Ryan, his entire body trembling. He didn't cry. He couldn't remember the last time he'd cried; just as he couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed or even smiled a real smile. Strong arms wrapped around him, warm and safe. The feeling made him shake even harder.
The next thing Pen knew, he opened his eyes to find himself lying on the couch, covered with the old quilt from the bedroom. Disoriented, he sat up and looked around, a bit disappointed to find himself alone. A glass of water sat on the table, with a piece of paper propped up against it.
Ryan apologized for having to return to work and asked if he could return for dinner, since his shift ended at six. Ryan actually apologized for leaving. There was a phone number at the bottom, with instructions to call as soon as Pen woke up. He knew he should throw away the note. He should stick to his resolve to stay as far away from Ryan as possible. It was the right thing to do, and yet he found himself reaching over for his cell.
In a last attempt to protect himself, Pen decided on a little test. He was actually pleased when a recorded voice asked him to leave a message. "Ryan, it's Pen. I think I'd like to have dinner with you. I feel like eating out tonight, so I'll head over to 'Popular Eats', at the corner of 14th and Granville, for seven. I hope you'll meet me there, but if not, that's all right too."
Now all he had to do was decide on what to wear.
Damn, damn, damn. Ryan quickly checked his watch and saw that, just like the last time he'd checked, he was nearly an hour late to meet Pen. Of all days for there to be a last minute meeting called, this had to be the worst. He couldn't even blow it off, since it was to discuss options on working with the local police.
There were still problems arising when calls came in about daywalkers or daywalker addresses. Ryan had brought up the problem, so he had to attend. A parking spot opened up just two buildings down from the diner and he pulled in, blessing this little piece of luck. He smoothed back his hair, wishing he had been able to run home to shower and change his clothes.
All afternoon he remembered Pen and the way he had reacted. The sight of the small, beautiful young man, just waiting to be hit, was like a kick in the stomach. Worse was that Pen didn't even show so much fear as resignation. Ryan stopped himself from grabbing Pen up in a hug only because he was afraid of really frightening him. He was pleased when Pen trusted him enough to seek comfort in his arms and then fall asleep. He'd stayed for nearly an hour, stroking the soft curls, feeling bad that their length was gone. He truly didn't mind, but Pen did and it was Pen's feelings that mattered.
Entering the diner, Ryan immediately saw Pen. He sat alone at a table, his back to the wall, just finishing his meal. Dressed in a loose green shirt and black jeans, Pen looked amazing. The top two buttons were undone to reveal pale skin and just a hint of a bruise. The younger man was so good looking he could be called beautiful. He also looked so fragile that Ryan again wondered how anyone could want to harm him.
Pen looked up as Ryan reached the table, his green eyes veiled of any emotion. "I didn't really expect you to show up, Ryan. Sorry, but I have to go now and change for work."
"They called a last-minute meeting at work. Just really bad timing."
"You don't need to explain anything to me," Pen shrugged. "A call might have been nice, but it doesn't mat.... Oh just fucking wonderful. Hello, Malcolm."
"Pretty Princess Penlan! My God, what the hell did you do to your hair? You should have left it long, gives a man something to grab onto while fucking your face." The blond man, taller than Pen but shorter than Ryan, turned cold blue eyes to Ryan. "Listen man, just a word of warning, from one guy to another. Our little princess here will work you up real good, but forget about getting into that tight ass. Fucking little prude is all promise with no delivery."
Pen blushed bright red in embarrassment at the words. "Shut up, Malcolm. Agent Sealey doesn't care about my tight ass one way or the other."
"Agent Sealey? What the fuck?"
"Agent Ryan Sealey, of the Federal Daywalker Protection Agency. Mr. Taylor, would you like to press harassment charges against Mr. -?" Ryan took out his notebook, wishing he could just use his fist on the smug bastard.
"His name is Malcolm Trent, and no, I don't want to press charges. He isn't worth the time or effort. If you'll both excuse me, I need to get to work."
Ryan was sure that only he and the woman at the register saw the shaking hand when Pen went to pay. Ryan stood and waited for him, while making sure the other man left and wasn't loitering outside to cause trouble. He couldn't help it if his eyes kept going to the sweetly curved ass encased in tight black jeans. Lifting his eyes didn't help, because he became transfixed by the sight of a slender neck usually kept hidden behind a cascade of light hair.
He had to get a grip on himself. Not only was his mind stuck on the fantastic blowjob Pen gave him a month ago, but now he had visions cupping and kissing the tight ass in question. Ryan knew he had never wanted anyone, man or woman, as much as he wanted Pen. Best to get outside in the fresh air before he completely lost control. Thank goodness his suit jacket was long enough to hide the bulge in his trousers.
While waiting by the car, Ryan cast his mind back to see if any of his past relationships ever made him feel this way. He was with Amelia the longest, but even at the beginning the emotions on both their parts was more friendship and comfort than lust and love. His most intense relationship, if short lived, was with Derrick. That occurred about a month or so after Pen's attack and disappearance. Of course, that was when he'd discovered he could have feelings for a man and the curiosity drove him. After almost two full days in bed, they parted company as friends and hardly ever saw each other again.
He was so deep in thought that he almost missed Pen. Calling out, he blocked the sidewalk so Pen would have to talk to him. "Let me give you a ride home so we can have a bit of time to talk. I'll even drive you to work after. Please."
"I don't know. I just don't know." Worried emerald eyes looked into warm golden ones. There were traces of pain and sadness there, but also of longing. "All right, Ryan. Take me home."
What was he thinking? Pen chewed nervously at his lower lip as they drove in silence back to his home. He should be trying to get rid of Ryan, not accepting his presence at every turn. When Ryan didn't show up on time for dinner, Pen once again vowed that he wouldn't give in again, that he would stand firm. Two minutes in the man's company and he let the man take him home.
He didn't want to fight anymore. Whatever happened would happen without his interference. Only with respect to Ryan, he amended to himself. Other men, if there ever were any, would have dark colouring and would have to prove themselves before he let his guard down with them. It might be unfair to some very nice guys, but he couldn't put himself in harms way anymore. He just couldn't do it.
Pen's thoughts wandered back to the encounter with Malcolm in the diner. That had been terribly embarrassing, having him say all those things to Ryan. What kind of person went around telling intimate details in such a crude manner? Pen knew that Malcolm, and all his other boyfriends, couldn't understand his reluctance to let them have his ass, and there was no way that he could explain it to them. He couldn't very well tell them that he was halfway in love with a man who looked like them and didn't even think of Pen in that way.