Summary:Pieces left broken and scattered on the ground. That is all Will Traveler believes his past is, but there's always more to a story then one thinks...This is the beginning. Before he was Will Traveler, but when he was Stephen Mailer.
So this is a fic I had an idea for. It's based on the Tv show, Traveler, and is basically about the main character, Will. There may be spoilers if you haven't seen the show, and most of the ideas from his past, such as his name and how he had no father came from David Giglios blog that answered questions about the unfinished show. There will be my own changes, such as the addition of Anne and other plot ideas. If this continues, it will probably go till Stephen is about 15 or maybe older. Please tell me if you enjoy it and if you have any ideas for it. I'm just making this up as I go along.
The show and its characters do not belong to me.
There was something comforting about swinging in an empty playground. It would be all silent except for the wind rushing at you and then with you, forwards and backwards, like an unending cycle. This, 8 year old Stephen Mailer decided, was the best thing in the world.
It was nearly dark, but it wasn't too late out. Stephen liked winter weather because he was allowed out after dark sometimes and the playground down the street from his house was usually unoccupied. He was bundled up so much it was difficult to breathe, though, and that was one thing he didn't enjoy. Jumping off the old swing set, he un-did the three top snaps and took a deep breath of the chilling air, his bluish green eyes staring at the darkening sky.
Stephen sighed deeply and stuck his hands in his pockets, walking over to the wooden bench. He had to climb a bit to get on, which irked him greatly. He was smaller then most kids in his class and they always made fun of his stunted height. Stephen hated that.
"What are you doing out here by yourself?" A kindly, unfamiliar voice broke into his thoughts. Stephen started and lifted his head to gaze up at a woman he'd never seen before. Her hair was short and brown, though it was obviously dyed with blonde. She was probably going grey, Stephen thought, though he wisely held this thought to himself. She was average in height, and looked like a mother. Yes, a perfect mother figure. Not someone to be afraid of.
"Nothing," he said in is timid, quiet voice, moving over for her to sit down. She did and glanced over at him.
"I'm Ann," she said with a smile. Stephen, unused to such kindness, didn't smile back but looked away.
"I'm Stephen," he replied in response, looking down at his gloved hands. Silence reigned for a few minutes, their breathing the only sound besides birds and the occasional shift on the bench.
"So what is it you like to do?" Ann asked after a moment.
"I like to draw."
"Really? What kind of things?"
Stephen, instead of answering, took his sketch book out of his coat pocket and handed it to her, jittering a little in nervousness. He'd never shown anyone his sketch book before, as he preferred to keep his drawings to himself. Something about the elder woman made him want to show her, made him want to hear her words of praise.
Stephen nearly jumped out of his skin when she gently laid her hand on his shoulder. He moved his head gradually to look up at her, his sandy brown hair peaking out of his hat and nearly covering his large eyes. There was a big infectious smile on her face, and Stephen's own lips twitched upwards slightly at the look of happiness. Her next words were music to his ears.
"They're all wonderful, but especially this one." She held the sketch book out to him, open to one of the first pages. A realistic illustration of one of his classmates with their father was drawn on the paper in pencil. Stephen usually avoided looking at that one because he'd always wanted a father to love him, and the image of a boy who looked a little like himself hugging their father was a perfect depiction of that lacking relationship. It made him realize his loss.
The little boy took the book from her and stared down at the page. He snapped it shut and put it away hurriedly, his lower lip trembling a bit, his hands clenched into fists.
Anne, perturbed by his reaction, moved closer and put her arm around his shoulder, feeling the heavy sobs even through the puffy, ragged coat. Stephen held tightly to her, his tears leaving stains on her khaki jacket. She didn't mind though. The poor boy was probably just emotional and lonely. He mustn't be more then seven or eight and he was all by himself at an empty park. That had been one of the reasons she had stopped to talk to him. Because he was alone.
"It's okay," she murmured, rubbing his back. She'd always liked that when she had been a young girl.
Stephen had never cried in front of a stranger before. He preferred to hold in his emotions and cry afterwards. But Anne didn't seem to mind, so he continued to let his tears fall, sniffling into her clothes. However good it felt to be hugged, he pulled back after a few minutes and wiped away the few remaining drops that hadn't fallen. It was embarrassing to know she was staring at him and wondering what on earth was wrong with him, so Stephen glared at the ground, his ears burning.
"Do you not have a dad?" she asked in that soothing, caring voice. Stephen shook his head shamefully, propping his elbows on his knees and nestling his chin on his palms.
"He left when I was 2 years old."
"So you live with your mother?"
"Yeah," Stephen was silent, and then he blurted out the words that he had been holding back.
"I'm really sorry for bothering you. I-I didn't mean to cry or anything," he mumbled, gazing blank faced at her. Her small grin made him feel a little better for being stupid enough to let go of his carefully built façade he wore in public.
"Don't worry about it. How 'bout I buy you some hot chocolate at that shop down the street and then I'll walk you home."
Stephen appeared startled at first, but finally nodded slowly.
"I guess," he said shyly, getting to his feet. She held her hand out to him, and he tentatively took her blue gloved hand with his black one.
On the way there Anne exclaimed how pretty the Christmas lights were and chatted about her daughter that was coming to visit the next day and how her other daughter was going to give birth to her second granddaughter in a few months. It was nice to hear all the family stories. Stephen felt himself wishing he had a life like that, but he remained silent as a stone, except for laughing at the funny things she said.
The café was packed with people, and Stephen had to clutch Anne's hand tightly so as not to get lost. It made him nervous with all the people crowding around.
"Do you want peppermint hot chocolate, or regular?" She asked, looking up at the menu. Stephen squinted up at it and then tried shouting over the din.
"Alright then. We'll have one regular hot chocolate and one peppermint hot chocolate to go, please," she told the waitress. The teenager nodded and accepted the money.
"Over there. Your number is 129."
"Thanks." Anne replied, leading Stephen over to the counter where drinks were continually popping up and being taken and numbers were called nonstop. Finally, 129 was called and Anne grabbed the drinks off the counter, handing Stephen his once they got outside. The warmth seeped through his gloves and he grinned contentedly just because. He hadn't done that in a long time.
Anne noticed this and wisely remained silent, while he started towards his home, beginning to slowly talk to her about his life. She'd hoped he would, and she'd been right. He wasn't shy, like she'd at first thought, but guarded. He looked like was used to being put down and pushed away, thought of second, and regarded as a boring individual.
Stephen was anything but, she discovered. He enjoyed to draw and make up stories based on his pictures. He was excited for Christmas since his Uncle would be coming and they could put a tree, and his favorite sport was running.
Anne liked the way his face would light up when he laughed and his multicolored eyes would brighten from their usual downcast expression. He was so caught up in telling her about what he'd learned in History the day before he nearly dropped his hot chocolate gesturing. This seemed to bring him back to earth and she watched the transformation occur from the happy young child to the sullen, lonely boy.
"My house is right up ahead," he said with much less enthusiasm, his cheeks reddening a bit. Anne guessed he was uncomfortable for opening up so much. The house he'd said was his was an old, broken down looking shack. It fit in perfectly with the rest of the shabby houses. There was a light on in one of the rooms and a half hearted attempt at Christmas decorations in the window. Anne sighed, despairing for the child's condition in life.
Stephen bit his lip before he spoke, "Uh, thanks for the hot chocolate, and for walking me home," he murmured. So he was back to the mumbling again, Anne thought sadly.
"Alright. Have a good Christmas!" She patted him on the head and watched him trudge up the stairs into his house. He waved at her before he shut the door behind him with a light bang.
Anne turned and started walking back to her house, which was on the opposite side of the park and definitely was better off then this neighborhood. She knew exactly what to get Stephen for Christmas. After all, it was only 5 days away and she wanted to get something for him, just to see him smile.
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