A Taste of Home Ch. 04byDanae72©
Note: After a small spate of discontented comments, anonymous of course, for the first chapter, *nearly* everything I've received since has been positive. I'd like to thank those who sent anonymous comments, both public and private, who have had nothing but words of praise and encouragement. Those of you who left me your 'names' or email addresses, I've tried to keep up and contact you directly with my thanks.
I enjoy writing very much, and I acknowledge that I'm not the best writer. If others enjoy my stories in the spirit in which they're offered, rather than based on perfect technique, then I find myself very happy and lucky as well.
A split second after the glass shattered against the wall, the bedroom door splintered, disintegrating into a pile of rubble. Nothing more was needed to tell anyone that the occupant of the room was seriously pissed. "I want him killed before he opens his fucking mouth, do you understand me?"
Blake Taylor, the third and unknown son of Johan Taylor stood at attention near the couch, refusing to flinch in the face of his father's rage. He'd spent his life living in the shadows. Neither of his half-brothers, and consequently their families, knew of his existence. He was the eldest, born six months before Ghislain, the product of an affair the old man had with some waitress. When the woman died giving birth to the nightwalker baby, Johan took him and gave him over to Sheila to raise. Sheila was one of Johan's youngest nieces, who lived nearby but was not part of the nightwalker community.
"I agree with you, but Jack is in the FDPA headquarters in Rutherford. We don't have anyone on the inside there, and nobody from the outside can get close enough." He prepared himself for the anger that would soon fall on his head. Johan Taylor wasn't anyone people wanted to cross, his son included. "The best we can hope for is that they move him somewhere before he tells them too much."
"I don't understand why I couldn't summon Micah properly." Johan frowned, disliking his failure, especially since he didn't understand it. "I was connected to Micah and he was moving out to where our man could grab him. All of a sudden, the link broke. It shouldn't have broken just because someone distracted him. Now I can't seem to connect again." Johan had read through all the ancient books and could find no clue to explain what happened. He knew he was able to whisper in the minds of any male descendent of his own line, and it was a talent very few were able to master.
Master it he had. Hadn't he prodded Kylen into attacking his own son, Penlan? That had been a stroke of genius on his part. Too bad the binding destroyed Kylen before he could take Pen along. Blake was also susceptible to the whispers, but there was no need. The only one he couldn't affect at all was Penlan, but that grandson of his was too tainted to be of any use.
Thrusting his hands through his hair, Johan growled his dissatisfaction. "I need Micah back here soon! Penlan was never acceptable, and now that any drop of nightwalker blood is gone, he can no longer even remotely be considered family."
Blake tried to soothe his father, pointing out just how close they were to his goals. "The final results of the tests for the formula should be sent to you some time in the next day or two. You won't be disappointed."
"Are we sure Freitag's formula is more effective than the one Silversmith made for us?" Johan paced back and forth between the bedroom and the living room, kicking at the remains of the door on each pass.
"All test runs point to Formula A being lethal to daywalkers, with no ill effects for nightwalkers. Formula B is complete and tests show it works, but it hasn't yet been tested on a human nightwalker. The lab results you'll get are encouraging. I've personally watched the process on rats, dogs, goats and one chimp. All of them died within half an hour of ingesting the formula. The good thing about this formula is that it's tasteless and can be mixed with any liquid. Solids don't seem to work as well, but we agreed that was not a problem."
Johan nodded and continued to pace. Blake knew what was bothering his father. The original formula to destroy daywalkers, created and developed by Dr. Silversmith at Rutherford MedLabs, had an unexpected side effect: that of changing the basic genetic structure of nightwalkers into full humans. Johan needed to know if it worked on common nightwalkers alone, or if it also affected what he called 'real' nightwalkers. He didn't consider Penlan's transformation to be a real test, since he also had daywalker blood to contaminate him.
Micah, however, was pure nightwalker, according to Johan's standards. What Johan wanted, more than anything else, even the destruction of daywalkers and sub-standard nightwalkers, was to live forever. The way old-time vampires and nightwalkers were reputed to do in movies and common misconceptions. It had been a dream of his for a long time, but without any way to make it come true. That dream turned into a real possibility when Penlan transformed into a full human.
Blake knew that his father was ready to implement the final testing phase of his personal goal: eternal life. If everything worked as he believed it would, Micah was the key. Johan would do all he could to get Micah into his clutches, keeping him as a prisoner.
Personally, Blake thought the old man was insane. Not that he would ever say anything to anyone, or even think the words too loud. He owed his father so much. Well, not owed exactly, but he had never wanted for anything growing up. Johan hadn't ignored him when he had his legitimate children at home. Johan visited him regularly, played with him, gave him anything he wanted almost before he could wish for it. His father told him the truth of his birth, and insisted that it didn't make him love his son less.
If he weren't loved, Blake reminded himself often during the past few years, Johan would have used him to test the formula. Hadn't Johan killed his legitimate son? Hadn't he turned his other son away, and then destroyed the mind of his daywalker wife by testing an early version of the daywalker formula on her? Back then, Blake had been happy to watch the woman's descent into madness, reveling in the way she abused her husband and son. Johan's only reaction to the effects on Eleane Pritchard Taylor was to be furious at the failure and kill the scientist responsible.
When did I finally get over the hero-worship and want out?
You know when it was. You changed your mind after the trial at the MedLabs, with all those dead bodies and the unexpected effect on your nephew.
That was the truth. Blake sighed silently, desperate to get away, but knowing there was one more topic of conversation coming. He remembered reading the reports on the crime, feeling sick in the pit of his stomach at the descriptions. It really hit home that Pen was his nephew when he read about the ordeal Pen went through, which lasted nearly two weeks. It wasn't Pen's fault that he was born to the Taylor family, yet Johan railed against it as though Pen came into being simply to annoy the old man.
The exact moment Blake felt that his love for his father might not be enough came after he delivered the results of the report. His father read through the pages in red-faced silence, then threw the comp into the wall. "Not only is the little shit contaminated by daywalker blood, but he's a fucking faggot too."
It wasn't until a few months later that Blake acknowledged the change in his feelings, but that was the moment it happened. Never in a million years would he ever let his father know, or find out, that he was also gay. He never once indulged his desires, but they were there, buried as deep inside his body as he could manage. He married the docile girl his father chose and did his duty as best he could. Luckily, he was away from home a lot, taking care of business for his father.
"Tell me, Blake. Tell me if your Mary is pregnant yet."
"I haven't been home for two months, Father, and she hasn't gotten in touch with me. I will certainly call you the moment she tells me if we've been blessed."
"You're young yet, although those two other sons of mine were quick off the mark." Johan grunted and seemed to be deep in thought. He came up with an explanation that satisfied him. "That's the reason their kids were defective. Both of them fags. You're almost sixty now and that's a good age to start a family. I wouldn't push you so much, but if anything happens, I'd like to know the line would continue through you. My oldest, and my best, son."
Self-loathing made Blake want to throw up or yell at his father. He did neither. Instead, he thanked his father as any good son would do and left the room. Mary waited for him, unaware that her husband felt nothing for her. She always greeted him with a smile and a shy blush. She was sweet enough, and he cared about her well-being, but he didn't love her as a husband should, and he certainly didn't desire her.
Fists clenched at his sides, he pushed away the thought that threatened to crush him. Let him die before he hurts anyone else. I'm in too deep to stop while he's alive, so please, let him die.
Simon arrived for work early, checked the messages at his desk and grabbed a cup of coffee before taking the elevator to the lower levels, where the holding cells were situated. He hadn't slept well, his mind wondering about the attack on Micah and waking him half a dozen times before the alarm sent him from his bed into the shower. Each time he told himself to forget about it, that whatever happened had nothing to do with him, but it didn't work.
He caught sight of Ryan, pacing back and forth in front of the briefing room. If Simon had to guess what Ryan was feeling, it would be rage and frustration. Fear that something very bad had happened to Micah nearly had Simon running to demand an explanation, but he managed to restrain himself at the last moment. He composed his face before making his presence known.
"Ryan. Is there something wrong? You look...pissed. Is it about this guy we'll be talking to?"
"Partly. His name is Jack Miller." Ryan took a deep breath, closing his eyes to calm down. "He's Micah's ex-boyfriend, came down on the order of Micah's, and Pen's, grandfather to take him home. I'll explain about the grandfather in a minute. When Micah didn't agree, Mr. Miller in there punched him in the stomach then kneed him on the chin. Micah's reaction was...well, it wasn't good, let's leave it at that. Understandable under the circumstances, but if I hadn't been there, I hate to think what might have happened."
Simon paled at the thought. He could imagine several scenarios of what Micah could have done because of the attack, but didn't like any of them. "I hate to think what else could have happened, if that's only part of the reason."
"Yeah. This next part is personal and has nothing to do with the investigation, but it's really bothering me. If I tell you about it, I'm repeating tales that I shouldn't even have heard in the first place."
"Hey, you know me; I won't breathe a word of it to anyone."
Ryan nodded, trusting Simon because as work partners, they needed to know the other had their backs. "Micah spent the night with us. Pen stayed up most of the night with him, because he was really upset and ashamed of what happened. I didn't mean to, but when I brought them something to snack on and drink, I kind of overheard their conversation. Seems Micah's been seeing someone since he came to town. If he told Pen who, I didn't hear, but I'd like to find this guy and teach him the right way to treat people; that nightwalkers are still people no matter what he might think."
Oh fuck. Had Micah told his cousin about their relationship? How much had Micah revealed to Pen? His name? More questions flowed into his mind and then suddenly he focused on what else Ryan said. Something about how he didn't treat Micah well. Simon didn't know what that was about. He might have kept their seeing each other a secret, but they still went out to eat, dining out in public and having conversations. Maybe Micah was complaining about something else.
Ryan's mention of nightwalkers meant that Micah suspected or accused Simon, whichever it might be, of treating Micah badly because he was a nightwalker. Simon had no clue why that might be. Didn't he let Micah feed from him? He didn't run screaming at the thought and never refused, so there couldn't be anything for Micah to complain about on that account.
Simon knew he couldn't think about this. He returned his attention to Ryan, who began pacing again, probably in an attempt to get himself back under control. He needed more information. Luckily, he knew how to ask questions without giving anything away. All part and parcel of the training NCB agents received at the Academy.
"Sounds like this Micah has had a rough time of it lately. So, this, um, guy he's been seeing is treating him bad because he's a nightwalker?"
"The guy treats him like some kind of prostitute. Apparently, he insists on having Micah feed, even though Micah tried to explain about feeding too often from the same person. Apparently, it can feel very good when a nightwalker feeds and this fucker likes it and won't take no for an answer. Then he just fucks Micah, without taking the time to get him ready or anything. He doesn't even ask if it's all right anymore or anything, just gets his rocks off, waits a bit for a blow, and then leaves."
Simon felt his face get red. That wasn't true at all...was it? He hoped Ryan decided the flush was for the reference to fucking rather than guilt. "If he's such an ass, I'm surprised Micah keeps seeing him."
"Pen asked him the same thing. Micah said that they do go out some, and he keeps thinking that things will change. I decided to go in and stop eavesdropping about then, and as I started to knock, I heard him say that he's going to cut off contact, since he saw the guy with someone else, and knows now that the behavior won't change. Then this Jack attacks him. In addition, before coming to Rutherford, they fired him from his job for being a nightwalker and his mother moved into an assisted living facility. Damn, he hasn't had it quite as rough as Pen did growing up, but I think it's bad enough.
"Shit, I've got to pull myself together. Here, let's go into the briefing room and I'll give you the facts about this investigation. That's something else that probably has Micah tied up in knots, along with Pen, since it involves their grandfather." Ryan paused and looked down at his shoes. He seemed to come to a decision, but refused to meet Simon's eyes. "Do you think I should try and find this guy? Run a check on Micah's phone and see if we can identify him?"
"I don't think that would be a good idea, without Micah's permission at least. If you do that and he finds out somehow..." Simon let his words trail off. He was so pathetic. Anyone else and he would encourage the man to investigate and get to the bottom of things. Here he was, protecting himself from discovery, at the expense of a young man who obviously felt pained by his behavior.
Now he remembered one of the first things Micah said to him in the club. It really isn't like me to do something like this. Proposition a man I've met in a club, I mean. He'd disregarded that and thought about Micah as someone who just wanted to feed and would take whoever came along. It was true, he had insisted when Micah tried to refuse to feed, thinking that it was a way to give him an out rather than because he didn't want to. How arrogant of him! The rest of it was all true; so clear now that it he heard it spelled out. After feeding, Simon couldn't wait to sate his lust and shoved into Micah's body, not speaking, doing nothing to make the encounter more intimate or personal, taking what he wanted and to hell with the rest.
Tonight, he would find Micah and do all he could to make it up to the young, beautiful man. Micah shouldn't suffer because he was suffering an identity crisis. Simon knew he was the one with the problem, unable to accept that he was gay, or at least bisexual, and treating the arrangement he'd created with Micah as nothing more than a side effect of the feeding. God, he'd created a fantasy that the behavior Micah showed with him was what he did with everyone and anyone he met.
Clearing his mind for the hundredth time since the night before, Simon settled in to hear the details of the investigation. They talked about how they were going to work this Jack character. It was almost a relief to submerge himself in the role of agent, becoming the affable, tolerant man who would help tease out the information they needed.
He was lost. The trees around him were vaguely familiar, tall and broad, half-hidden in the trailing mist. Someone was running through the trees, ahead of him but hidden in the darkness. He knew what he was supposed to do. He didn't want to; it wasn't how things were supposed to be. If he didn't, the pain would come swiftly to exact its vengeance. He knew, yes, he knew that no matter how lost and afraid he was, it could get worse if he didn't move forward.
The sounds of running faded then grew louder again. Whoever it was, they were also lost in the forest. No, it wasn't a forest but a home wood. That was what He called it. He told Micah to go into the home wood to...to...to do something. Why couldn't he remember his instructions? Maybe he was supposed to find whoever was running. Yes, of course, that was it, that's what he was supposed to do. He knew that, he'd always known, but only if he didn't think about it.
He ran, in that special way only he and his family could run. When he ran like this, there was no noise to betray him. He was as silent as the mist, moving effortlessly over the ground and around obstacles. The darkness was complete without the light of the moon, but he could still see. Eyes stared at him from all around, but they were unimportant. He didn't need to find who those eyes belonged to. They were nothing but animals and beneath his notice. Another time he might find joy in seeing those creatures, but not now, not tonight. Tonight was for...Again the blankness came. It wasn't his job to think. All he had to do was what he'd been told.
There was a clearing up ahead, and beyond that clearing was a hill. It sloped down from where he would approach. At the bottom of that hill, off to the left, was a shallow cave, about twelve feet deep. The cave was his destination. He knew that, even if he didn't know how he knew. Enough that he knew where to go. More eyes stared out from that cave, but those eyes he had to avoid until he was closer. Much, much closer.
No! Stop! This isn't right. You know it isn't right. Stop this instant and go back home.
Micah immediately froze. He looked around without moving his head, trying to find where the words came from. There was no sound anymore. Whoever was running earlier was now silent, waiting for him to get there. Cautiously now, Micah resumed his course, descending the slope easily and noiselessly. He could see the cave, clear as day, although anyone else would only see a faint shadow even in the brightest sunlight.
Within moments, he stood at the entrance. He stood off to the side so the occupants wouldn't see him. No need to cause a panic. There were no other people in or near the wood, but that didn't mean he could get sloppy and forget his instructions, even if he couldn't remember them consciously.
The person, no the people, were grouped at the back of the cave, eyes open wide in fear. He counted swiftly, automatically, and concluded that seven people waited for him to come. Strangely enough, there was also a large mirror. It covered nearly the entire back wall of the cave. What he saw in that mirror made Micah stumble back. He saw his own reflection, but he didn't recognize himself.