By Julien Gregg
Edited By Rob Hawes

Author's Note: This story does not endorse a way of life. It merely describes one. The reader is left to form his or her own conclusion and make their own choices. The characters in this story do not practice safe sex. I can't urge my readers enough to always be safe. Life is precious. Why chance it?

Chapter One:

The only thing he knew for certain was that his first name wasn't Ian. He'd seen the flyer on the Sergeant's desk with his picture on it. The picture was ten years old and he could barely remember being that five-year-old. The name at the bottom of the flyer wasn't Ian. He sat there staring at the table, thinking about all of the times he'd wished that he could have a different life. He knew that just about every kid in the world made that wish at least once. He just couldn't believe that his wish was about to be granted.

It started when he was at school that day. Two of his friends had stayed at his house for the night and neither of them were happy when they got to school. Ian didn't know what was going on, but he had a very good idea. The thought of what his father had done to his friends sickened him. He wasn't surprised when the first thing they did when they got to school was head for the Guidance Office. He wasn't surprised two hours later when he was called down to the Office himself.

The next thing that happened shocked him. They asked him all about his father. That much he'd expected. He'd had to lie to them a lot. He couldn't tell them all of the sordid details about how his father had been raping him since he was five years old and even about the men his father brought home with him from time to time. That would have been humiliating, but then there was the flyer. It was sitting on the desk and the counsellor uncovered it when he picked up the yellow legal pad he'd been writing everything down on and went in the other room to call the police.

Then things got really strange. He told the counsellor that he was the boy in that flyer, but he wondered why it said that he was missing. As far as Ian knew he'd lived with his father all his life. He'd been told that his mother was dead and he'd had no reason to question that. What he was beginning to think was that his mother was alive and that she was looking for him. What was really going on was something he'd never even thought of before.

He was taken from the school to the police station and that was expected. They brought his father in a few minutes later and even that was expected. His father had screamed at him when he saw him sitting there at the desk and threatened him as he was dragged away. That was all expected, but seeing the flyer there on the Sergeant's desk was not expected. That same picture of his five year old self smiled back at him, but this time he could see a name at the bottom of the flyer. The name was Matthew Keller. His name wasn't Ian Schultz after all. That had shocked him.

Things began to happen really fast after that. A social worker was called in to talk to him about his real family. Up until earlier that day Ian hadn't known that his father wasn't really his father. He supposed that he shouldn't think of the man as his father now that he knew the truth. It actually made him feel slightly better about what had been going on. Only slightly. The thought of it all still turned his stomach. He could only hope that no one found out about it. If they found out he'd never be able to live with himself. It was bad enough that he had to think about it at all.

"You understand that your parents never really gave up on you, don't you Matthew?" asked the social worker. She was an older woman with auburn hair and dark plastic framed glasses. Her charcoal shirt and jacket only made her hair stand out more.

"My name is Ian," he said as he looked at anything but the social worker. He was becoming more and more uncomfortable.

"Your parents named you Matthew," she said slowly. "Don't you think that you should start using your real name?"

"I don't know what to think," he mumbled, looking down at his folded hands in his lap. "Until today I was Ian Schultz."

"Well I understand that this is hard for you to comprehend," she said in a condescending voice.

"Do you?" he asked, finally looking at her. "Do you really? I'm about to meet people I don't know, but they're my parents. I just found out that I was kidnapped when I was five years old. What I still can't figure out is why I don't remember that? I don't understand why I don't remember my parents. I don't remember anything about them."

"Well, they remember you," she said dismissively as she opened the folder in front of her and began to scan its contents. "You were born in Bryarwood, Wisconsin. You are the first born child of Daryl and Sela Keller, your older brother's name is Alex. They're a middle to upper class family who own a diner in Bryarwood. They've been looking for you for the last ten years."

"Sounds like they have a great life," Ian said, trying to keep his voice low. He wondered just what they would think of him. He wasn't the average middle to upper class teenaged boy.

"They will have a great life when they have you home with them," said the social worker in a harsh voice. She gave him a reproachful look and he sighed.

"What do you want from me?" he asked, putting his hands up. "I found out today that everything I believed was a lie. I found out that I'm not who I thought I was and the man that I have lived with for what I thought was my entire life is a monster who kidnapped me when I was five years old. I don't understand what you expect me to do now. I don't know what to feel or even think at this point. So stop looking at me like that and have some compassion."

"Mrs. Welling," said a detective from the doorway, looking back and forth between them. He obviously sensed that everything wasn't exactly peachy between them. "The Kellers are here."

"Thank you, Detective Brandt," she said, smiling for the first time since Ian laid eyes on her. The sight of that smile made his stomach sour. "We'll be out in a moment."

"Yes ma'am," he said, closing the door and leaving them alone again. She turned to look at Ian and the plastic smile slid right off of her face.

"Now you're going to listen to me," she said in a hard tone. "Those two people have driven for six hours to be here this evening. You are going to show them respect. Stop sniveling and show some spine. Teenagers always think they're owed something. Well I'm here to tell you that no one owes you a damned thing."

He glared at her and said nothing. This woman didn't even know him and she'd already made up her mind about him. He wasn't going to bother trying to contradict anything she'd said. There was no point. Once he was off with his real parents he would probably never see her again. It was still hard for him to think of the Kellers as his real parents. He supposed he'd have to get over that for the time being. There was no way he was going to let this woman have another go at him.

"Now let's get out there and give your parents what they've been hoping would happen for ten years," she said, getting up from the chair and straightening her skirt. She glared back at him the whole time.

He stood on shaky legs and willed his stomach to calm down as she turned and headed for the door. He followed, thinking that this was the only way to actually get rid of her. It wasn't working though. He was a nervous wreck. What would they think of him? What would they be like? How would being with them make him feel? All of those questions ran through his head in the short amount of time it took to get from the chair he'd been sitting in to the door that would take him to the people that had been searching for him for ten years.

They were standing across the squad room from him, holding hands and huddled together. Experimental smiles were on their faces and their eyes were full of tears. The sandy-haired forty-ish man with the ample belly didn't look anything like him. His eyes were dark brown pools of eager anticipation; nothing like Ian's soft gray eyes. The raven-haired woman with his own eyes looking pleadingly back at him was where he got his looks. She was easily as tall as her husband though Ian was at least a head taller than both of them. Her china complexion matched his almost perfectly and he could see the little upturned left eyebrow on her face that plagued him for his entire life that he could remember. Yes, this was his mother. They looked so much alike that even his auburn color treated hair couldn't hide it.

His knees shook as he looked at them and he wondered if they could love him if they knew all of the things that had happened to him in the last ten years. Could this middle to upper class family from Bryarwood, Wisconsin who owned a diner and had a son named Alex love him if they knew? So many things ran through his mind in that first moment but the most important thing he could think of was if they could love him if they knew that the man who had taken him from them had used him as a sexual plaything from the very beginning.

"Matthew," the woman, his mother, half-whispered as tears ran down her cheeks. A feeble smile flittered across her lips and Ian could see hope in her gray eyes.

"My name is Ian," he said with a shaking voice as he took a few lethargic steps toward them.

Those few sluggish steps were met with more determined steps by his parents and his mother engulfed him in her arms as she sobbed. He could feel her chest heaving as she pressed him against her. Then he felt something he'd never known before and his arms slid around her, clutching her almost as tightly as she was clutching him. He could feel her love for him and a tiny bit of the hope he'd seen in her gray eyes tried to seep inside of him through the embrace. Could he, Ian Schultz or Matthew Keller, hope that everything in his life would change and get better all because this woman sobbing against him loved him more than life itself?

Going from the squad room to the waiting minivan was something he couldn't remember. It was as if some force had transferred them there and he climbed into the back of the van while his parents took their seats in the front. His mother asked question after question as his father drove in silence. It was that silence that worried him so much. He tried to answer his mother's questions without really answering them as he thought about his father's silence. Could it be that one of his parents wasn't so happy to have finally found him after ten years of supposed searching?

"Sela, let the boy alone," were his father's first words since he'd laid eyes on his missing son. "He's been through so much. Just let him be for a while."

"I just . . ."

"Sela," interrupted his father and his mother turned around to face the front of the van and said no more as cornfields sprung up on either side of the road and his father drove on.

They stopped in a town called Brunswick so that the van could be fueled and they could use the facilities. His mother went inside the station to pay for the gas and it seemed to buy out the entire junk food section. She had three large bottles of water and two plastic bags full of chips and snack cakes as she got back inside the van. His father took a bottle of water and a package of powdered donuts without comment. His mother handed him a bottle of water and then held one of her plastic bags of booty open for him to choose his sugar infested unhealthy snack. He thought for a second and then selected a package of powdered donuts. He didn't see his father's small smile as the man watched him from the rearview mirror.

He had nothing to leave behind. The few friends he'd actually managed to tentatively cultivate he'd lost when his captor had invited them to the back of the trailer to look at dirty magazines. He didn't know exactly what had gone on but he had an educated idea. He felt sick inside as he thought about the fact that those boys were trying to be his friend and he'd lead them straight into the lion's den for their trouble. The guilt he felt from being a part of destroying the lives of boys that wanted to be his friends turned the sweet powdered sugar on the donuts sour in his stomach.

They passed more small towns along their six hour trek from Illinois to Wisconsin and Ian wondered what it was like for the families that lived inside the sporadic houses along the highway. Were they happy? Were the children that lived within the walls of those sturdy farmhouses happy with the lives they were leading? Could he be happy like that? Could he be happy now that all of the pain and humiliation were behind him? Was it all truly behind him?

About two hours into the drive his mother started asking questions again. She asked about school and that was fine. He had answers for her about school. He was a good student if not a little lazy at times. He wasn't a member of any athletic teams or extracurricular activities of any kind. He was a student that liked to fly under the radar and keep his head down. No, he didn't have a group of friends, he usually kept to himself. It was pretty ordinary in his own opinion. He just didn't go into the reasons behind his loner status.

There was no girlfriend. He'd had to suppress laughter at the thought of a girlfriend. Who would date him with everything that was going on in his life? Did he even want a girlfriend? He'd never really thought about girls as anything other than other people he saw and sometimes interacted with at school so the answer to that question was probably no. That was probably another thing he'd have to keep hidden from his parents. He'd probably have to keep it hidden from his new brother and everyone for that matter. That was just another thing to hide. At fifteen he was sure he'd become a master at deception if he kept finding things he had to hide from everyone.

His hair was easy enough to talk about. He'd colored his hair to rebel against the man he'd thought was his father. This got a chuckle from his mother and a strange look from his father. He supposed he understood the look he got from his father. It would be hard for the man to hear his son refer to anyone other than himself as his father. He liked that his mother found his rebellion funny though. That helped a little with his nerves about being with his real parents after ten years of thinking that he was living with his real father.

His interests were harder to talk about. He'd been so sure that his life was set in stone that he hadn't really developed interests that he'd cultivated. Yes, he got good grades in school but that was mostly out of fear. He didn't tell them that the man he'd known as his father had threatened to castrate him if he failed to pass all of his classes. It wasn't easy to keep his grades up with the abuse he was suffering at home and the conflicting thoughts and feelings that raged within him most of the time. He didn't tell them that he was conflicted about living a life that was filled with torment and sexual abuse.

He didn't tell them that on several occasions he'd had more than just a passing thought about suicide. Ending his life seemed to him to be the best strategy of escaping the abuse that he was suffering. That brought him to question himself a bit. Did he think that his life was about to change for the better? He wasn't so sure about that. These were his real parents but what were they really like? He couldn't judge their personalities by what he'd seen of them so far. Would they hurt him like the man who had been raising him had? Would they accept him even though he was flawed and tainted by that man? What if when they finally found out, and he was sure they would learn the ugly truth in time, they hated him just as much as he hated the man who had done all of those ugly things to him? What would he do then?

Thankfully the questions stopped after the one about his interests. He didn't think he could handle more interrogation just then. He wanted to think about what life now had in store for him. So far he was just afraid of the future. He'd always been afraid of the future but now he had a whole new reason to fear the future. He found that he really wanted his real parents to love him, but he was sure they wouldn't. He'd been told so many times that he was unlovable that he now believed it. He was Ian and no one loved him. That's the way it was. He'd accepted it long before that day.

The rest of the drive was spent in tense silence with occasional questions or comments about this and that. His mother told him that Alex, his brother, was at home waiting for them to get back. She said that he was very excited about seeing his little brother again. Somehow Ian didn't believe that at all. He didn't know why but he believed that if anything Alex Keller would be resentful of his little brother returning after ten years.

He was actually nodding off when they pulled into Bryarwood. This was to be his home now and he woke up completely and sat up to look around at his surroundings as they drove down the street. They passed a lot of businesses and huge buildings. It was clear that this was a major part of the city and Ian could see ten story apartment buildings nestled in with all of the corporate buildings. It made him wonder what kind of city Bryarwood was.

His mother began a droning monologue telling him about points of interest to her along their route. When they passed into a neighborhood of nice two and three story houses she told him that they lived just three blocks from where they were. The time passed too quickly for Ian and before he knew it they were pulling into the driveway of a two story red brick house with a large front porch. He saw a porch swing and a memory of his younger years surfaced. He and his brother were swinging on the porch swing trying to get it to bang into the wall behind them. They were laughing and having a great time. As that memory settled in his mind Ian began to hope that maybe he and his brother might be close like that again.

The van came to a stop in front of a two-car garage with a basketball hoop over one garage door. He wondered if Alex and their father played a little one on one from time to time. Would he be able to make it two on one? He had no idea if he could or not. He'd never really liked basketball. He'd actually never been interested in any sports.

The house itself was nice. Once they were inside Ian saw pictures all over the walls of the living room. There were pictures of his mother and father and a teenaged boy that Ian recognized as his brother, Alex. They looked alike for the most part and Ian wondered how much more they would look alike if his own hair was streaked with blond instead of covered with red. The furniture looked nice and everything was in its place. His father went straight for the comfortable looking recliner in the corner of the room while his mother showed him through the dining room to the stairs.

The bedroom she took him to had two beds that were neatly made. One side of the room was covered with posters of basketball players and rock bands. There was a desk that held a computer and a lot of basketball trophies. Alex Keller appeared to be a very good basketball player. Ian just hoped that they didn't expect him to play basketball. He hoped they didn't expect a lot of different things from him. He wasn't so sure he actually belonged with this family. They looked like him and obviously shared his blood but that didn't mean he belonged with them.

As he pondered this the door opened again and the boy in the pictures on the living room walls walked into the bedroom. Alex Keller was only a few inches taller than Ian with dark hair that was riddled with blond streaks. His gray eyes looked happy and excited and the left corner of his mouth twitched a little bit. A tick, Ian thought.

"Alex, where have you been?" asked their mother.

"Next door," he explained Alex. "Tanner had to take someone somewhere so I sat with his parents. I hoped to get back before you guys got here."

"Well you're here now," said their mother with a smile as she looked back and forth between Alex and Ian.

"Matthew," said Alex with a big smile on his face. "Finally."

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