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 Two:

Family is a funny thing and Ian learned that the day he set foot in his parents' home. He'd talked with Alex for a while as his mother prepared supper and found that his older brother was funny and happy. He still wasn't so sure that Alex was as happy to have him back as he kept saying he was but that wasn't a real problem. He could live with it if he could at least be friendly with the boy. Being at each other's throats wouldn't be a great way to live together for any amount of time.

That first supper at the table with his brother, mother and father was strained and difficult. In spite of the tension in the room Ian ate everything on his plate having long ago gave up on flavors. Eating was just something you did to quiet the pangs of hunger in your body. The taste of the food was irrelevant. His mother watched him eat with a small smile on her face though. He imagined that she was happy thinking that he liked the flavor of her food when in reality he hadn't tasted anything at all. He'd put it in his mouth, chewed the proper number of times to soften the food and swallowed while mentally dismissing the taste of the food the whole time. He'd never tell her that though.

After supper was over his mother was pleasantly shocked when he began to clear the table. His father and brother looked at him strangely and he'd quietly explained that he was used to clearing the table and doing the dishes after every meal. His mother allowed him to take all of the dishes to the kitchen but then she shooed him out so that she could do the final clean up while he sat in the living room to watch television with his father and brother.

It was in the living room that night that he learned that he was to spend the day with his mother and father. He was happy about that until they told him that he would be seeing their cosmetologist in the morning to deal with his hair. He wanted so badly to protest but then he thought that he really didn't have anything to rebel against at the moment so he didn't say anything. Besides he hoped that they would make him look more like his brother.

"You'll need clothing as well," said his mother with a smile on her face. "We'll go shopping after we see Breck in the morning. You'll need school clothes."

"He'll need more than just school clothes, Mom," said Alex with a smirk. "We only go to school five days a week."

"Don't be smart," warned their father and Ian watched this exchange with interest.

"School supplies," said his mother as if her son and husband's exchange hadn't happened. "You'll need things for school as well."

"He'll need a uniform for the diner," said Alex, confusing Ian completely.

"Well we thought that until he is settled in he shouldn't work at the diner on Sundays," said his mother, confusing him even more.

"That's just great," sighed Alex. "You promised that I could stop working at the diner on Sundays and get a regular job. I got the job helping Tanner with his parents, but I still have to work on Sundays."

"This is not the time for this discussion Alex," said their father sternly, and Ian watched him carefully.

"Yes sir," said Alex, glancing sideways at Ian with another smirk. "Come on Matt, let's go upstairs."

Ian sighed in frustration. He hated being called Matt or Matthew. His name was Ian. Instead of arguing about it in front of his parents he followed his brother out of the living room and up the stairs. He thought about what he could do to make others call him Ian again. He didn't want to upset his parents because he had a bad feeling about both of them. Something strange was going on and he wasn't so sure that he wanted to know what it was.

"So you really didn't know about us?" Alex asked once they were upstairs in their room. He had a strange look on his face that Ian couldn't figure out. He wondered if Alex was really surprised by the fact that he didn't remember them or if he was just going to tease him about it.

"I really didn't know anything about any of you," he finally said with a sigh. "I don't know why. Maybe it was because I was so young when he took me. All I know is that he told me that my mother was dead, I was an only child and we were all there was for each other."

There was so much more that he could have said about why he thought he didn't remember them. He could have told him that he was always too worried about what was going to happen when he went to bed to think about anything else. He could have told him that every time his so-called father brought home a friend he was so scared that he nearly wet himself and that was probably why he didn't remember. He could have told him all about what life was like for the last ten years but he didn't. He didn't think Alex would want anything to do with him if he told him the truth about his past. He didn't think his parents would still want him if they knew what had been happening to him in the last ten years.

"I don't really want to talk about any of the time I spent with him," he finally said. "If you don't mind I'd rather talk about anything but that."

"Sure," said Alex. "I can't even think of what it would feel like to be in your shoes. I understand if you'd rather not talk about it."

They were silent for a while as Ian looked at anything other than his brother. Then Alex got his yearbook out of his desk drawer and started to show him pictures of his friends. Ian looked at the pictures and tried to listen to what his brother was saying about each person he showed him but all he could thank about was that soon he would be going to school with all of these kids and what if they found out about him? What would he do then?

They were both sitting there looking at the yearbook when their father called up to tell them it was time to go to bed. Alex continued to tell him about his friends as they got ready for bed. Ian was shocked that Alex stripped down to his boxers right there in the room with him. He didn't want to strip in front of his brother because of the state of his underwear. He was ashamed and mortified as he unbuttoned his jeans and pulled them down. As he feared Alex watched him.

"Oh," Alex said when he saw the state of Ian's ripped briefs. "Let me get you a pair of mine. Those don't look like they'll live much longer."

Ian watched as his brother went to his dresser and pulled out a pair of gray boxers. He accepted them and looked into his brother's smiling face. Was this a kindness or something else? He had to stop looking for trouble. That was behind him now. This was his brother not some friend of his so-called father's. He sighed when Alex turned and pulled the covers on his bed down. He used that time to quickly change into the boxers that Alex had given him.

"Just throw the others in the trash can," Alex said without turning around again. "Mom will buy you new underpants tomorrow along with everything else."

He did as his brother suggested and climbed into bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. Alex reached over to turn off the lamp beside his bed and the room was plunged into darkness. Ian didn't know how to feel now. This was all like a strange dream to him. It was as if he was in someone else's house, sleeping in someone else's bed. The fact that he was in the bed alone was wonderful and he almost let himself be happy about it for just a brief moment. Then he snapped back to the reality that the other shoe would drop soon and he wouldn't be happy much longer. He turned on his side and surrendered to a nightmare infested sleep.

Alex woke him at six the next morning. He was holding out a pair of jeans and a shirt as he said something that Ian couldn't begin to decipher in his current condition. He simply looked at his brother and blinked. Then the boy was laughing at him and Ian wanted to crawl back under the covers.

"You're not a morning person," chuckled Alex. "Sit up. I promise it helps."

"What time is it?" he asked, swinging his bare legs over the side of his bed and sitting up.

"Just six," replied Alex. "I've already showered but you'd better get a move on. Mom will have breakfast on the table and if you miss it you'll be hungry until they stop for something on your shopping trip."

"Yeah," he said, shaking his head and yawning.

"I'll meet you downstairs," said Alex with another chuckle.

Ian made it to the bathroom and into the shower on drowsy autopilot. He made sure to wash behind his ears and all of the important places before he stepped out of the shower and wrapped himself in the biggest towel he'd ever seen. As he dressed in his brother's clothes he thought about what kinds of clothes they were going to buy him on the shopping trip. He was still thinking about it as he went downstairs to join his family.

"Good morning, Matthew," said his mother as she beamed a smile at him. "How did you sleep?"

"Fine, thank you," he replied, trying to smile at her.

He sat across the table from Alex while their mother and father were at each end of the table. Their mother got up to put a plate of pancakes in front of him as well as a glass of juice, bowl of butter and bottle of syrup. He thanked her each time she put something in front of him and was rewarded by a warm smile from her each time.

"He's so polite," she said when she finally took her place at the end of the table.

"Alex, you could learn something from Matthew," said their father, making Ian grimace. He wanted them to call him Ian, but he didn't know how to make them do it.

"Give me time," laughed Alex, winking at Ian. "I'll have him acting just like me. You'll see."

"I hope you don't rub off on him," said their mother, but Ian could see the twinkle in her eye.

He didn't know what to say to any of this. He'd never had a conversation like this in the past. Meals were always silent in his old house. His so-called father spent most of every meal on the telephone with one friend or another describing the disgusting sexual act he'd forced upon him the night before. The thought of it made his stomach crawl but he forced himself to eat so that he wouldn't upset anyone.

"What time do you need to be with the Scotts this morning?" their mother asked, ending the discussion on their manners.

"Tanner asked me to be there at eight," he replied and then looked at their father. "Can Matt go with me?"

"I think it would be best if Matthew stayed with us this morning," replied their father. "Besides you haven't even told Tanner that your brother is home. Don't you think it would be better to introduce him to Matthew before you take him over to help take care of Tanner's parents?"

"We'll be leaving to get his school clothes and supplies soon anyway," said their mother. "There's also the appointment with Breck."

"I think his hair is cool," said Alex with a wide grin, confusing Ian. "He could be the talk of the school."

"Don't you think everyone will have enough to say about him at school?" snapped their father, wiping the grin off Alex's face.

"I'm sorry," replied Alex. "I wasn't thinking."

"Well you should start," grumbled their father.

Ian understood that they probably didn't like his hair. He'd done everything he could to make himself less attractive. He'd cut his hair himself and colored it bright red in spots. It had driven his so-called father crazy at first but then it had backfired on Ian when the man said it made him look even sexier. He supposed it wouldn't be so bad to get his hair cut right and have the red colored back out of it.

He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that the sudden silence didn't at first register for him. He looked up and saw his brother and father staring at each other and wondered what was happening. He didn't know what was going on between the two of them. The last he remembered was an apology from his brother. Had more happened while he was wrapped up in his thoughts?

"Well that's done," his mother said suddenly. "Alex, you'd better get next door before Tanner thinks you're not coming."

The spell was broken then. Ian watched his father for a bit longer before returning to his plate of pancakes. He was sure that something more had gone on but he didn't know what it was. His father suddenly returned to his newspaper and his mother began to take dishes from the table, patting him on the shoulder and telling him to eat up. He did get to eating as Alex got up and walked out of the dining room. He ate everything on his plate and then took it to the kitchen.

"You're such a thoughtful boy, Matthew," said his mother, taking the plate from him with a huge smile. "We'll get going as soon as I have these dishes sorted out."

He smiled at her and then went back to the dining room to sit at the table. He still wasn't sure what to say to either of his parents. His mother was the only one in the house that seemed genuinely happy that he was there with them. He hadn't figured out his father yet. He wasn't sure he wanted to figure the man out. So far he'd seemed gruff more than anything and there was some sort of strange power play going on between the man and Alex.

"All set then?" the man asked, lowering his newspaper.

"Sure am," he replied. "She's doing the dishes."

"I suppose we'll have to wait on her now," said his father. "She won't be long."

"No, sir," he replied, gaining a half smile from his father before the man went back to looking at his newspaper.

Ian just sat there and looked at the back of the paper for a few minutes. He really didn't feel comfortable at all. At least when Alex was around he felt like the spotlight wasn't directed at him completely. He felt out of place even with Alex around. He wondered if that would ever change. Would he ever feel at home in the house? Would he ever feel comfortable with his family?

"Right then," said his mother, coming into the dining room with her purse. "All set."

"Let's do it," said his father, folding the paper and placing it on the table. "We'll see to Breck first thing."

"It is close to his appointment time," his mother agreed.

They walked out to the van in silence. Once they were in the vehicle his mother started to tell him how much he'd like Breck. He noticed that his father snorted at that but didn't say anything. He wondered what that was all about. His mother only paused momentarily before continuing to sing Breck's praises. Ian began to think the man must walk on water as his father pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street.

All the way to the mall his mother talked about how great it was that Breck had an opening when she'd called. She told Ian that Breck had come up with the idea for blond highlights in Alex's hair and wondered aloud if he'd be able to do the same with Matthew's hair. Ian just sighed at the use of his birth name. He knew it was pointless to try and get his parents to call him Ian.

"When you're ready to come home just call the diner," his father said when they pulled into the parking lot of the mall.

"Yes, dear," replied his mother.

"And don't spend a fortune," the man said seriously, eyeing his wife.

"Yes, dear," she said, turning to smile at Ian. "Your father is going to the diner to check up on his staff while we do our shopping."

Ian got out of the van and followed his mother to the entrance in silence as she talked on and on about the clothes she was going to buy for him. He sighed inwardly as he thought about what she would pick out. Luckily the salon wasn't far from the entrance. He saw it as soon as they walked through the doors. It was so colorful that he couldn't have missed it unless he was blind.

The reception area was decorated with bright red and blue. The colors were so loud that Ian thought he'd have a headache if they had to sit there long. The woman who checked them in had curly bleached-blond hair and wore a lot of make-up. She actually grimaced at his hair when she looked at him and then told his mother that Breck would be with them in a moment.

Breck was with them almost as soon as they sat down. Ian got a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach when he looked at the man. He was easily six feet tall with short dark blond hair and eyes that were the brightest blue that Ian had ever seen. He had a five o'clock shadow and seemed to be muscular under his white dress shirt, and Ian couldn't help noticing that the man filled out the front of his black dress pants very well.

"You must be Matthew," he said, extending his hand.

"I like to be called Ian, actually," he replied, accepting Breck's hand and squeezing it as he shook. He heard his mother take in a breath at the mention of the name but decided to ignore it. Breck's quick glance at her wasn't unnoticed either.

"Well, Ian," he said with a smile. "Why don't you follow me?"

"I'll be right here when you're done," said his mother, but when he looked at her that famous smile was gone. He supposed that he shouldn't have asked Beck to call him Ian like that, but it had been a reflex.

"Yes, ma'am," he said before following Breck out of the jungle of red and blue and into the wilderness of greens and purples that was the back of the salon.

"We'll start with the color," said Breck as he indicated the styling chair furthest from the front. "How would you feel about highlights?"

"Fine," replied Ian, sitting down in the chair. "As long as they aren't blond."

He'd decided that he didn't want to look so much like Alex all of a sudden. His individuality was more important to him after the incident with his name. Breck only smiled at him and nodded before turning the chair to face the mirror and draping a plastic cape over him.

"Right," he said. "Not blond."

He started by brushing Ian's hair lightly and then used a comb to split it in four parts. Ian watched as he began to wrap sections of hair in foil. He explained that he was shielding those sections from the initial color when Ian looked at him in the mirror. The process took about five minutes and then Breck excused himself to get the color.

He was back in a flash and said very little after telling Ian that he was going to start by coloring the exposed sections of hair with a color as close to his natural as possible. Then he was silent as he began to apply the color. It smelled like mint and the scent quickly became strong as the man worked. Ian was surprised at how fast he applied the color. Then he began to color the hair that he'd sectioned off in foil with another color.

"This will deepen the red," he explained. "Your natural color is so dark that darker auburn highlights will give it just the right look."

He worked even faster on the sectioned hair and then set a timer and sat in the chair next to the station. He smiled at Ian as he sat and Ian couldn't help smiling back. He didn't know what it was about Breck, but he thought the guy was all right. There was a look in his eyes that almost screamed trust.

"You promise I'm not going to look like a dork?" Ian joked, smiling wider as he spoke.

"Swear," laughed Breck. "You'll look hot when it's all done. I've got the perfect cut in mind for you, and don't worry. Your hair won't look anything like Alex's."

They talked back and forth about absolutely nothing in particular after that. Breck's easy attitude made Ian relax and he was thankful for that. He hadn't even realized how tense he was until he actually relaxed. He liked Breck and thought that his mother hadn't realized just how right she was to sing the man's praises in the van earlier. They talked right through the time on the timer. Breck smiled at him when it dinged and then they were off to the shampoo bowls behind the bright green wall.

"Finally a room that isn't so bright," Ian laughed when they entered the shampoo room.

"Yeah the decor around here is a bit much," Breck agreed.

As soon as Ian sat down in the chair and was tilted back he smelled Breck. It was a mixture of aftershave, deodorant and cologne but there was another smell that was almost more powerful than the others. It was a musky smell that Ian instinctively knew was Breck. When the water was turned off after his hair was rinsed Breck began to massage the shampoo into his scalp. The effect was amazing but in a way that made Ian blush. Breck's touch was almost erotic. It was close enough that his body reacted to it and he was humiliated when his dick began to harden. He hoped that the cape hid it from Breck's view.

"Now that's a compliment," Breck said softly when he shut the water off after the second shampoo. "We can stay here for a moment while you compose yourself if you like or you can just hold the cape out a bit to hide it."

"Sorry," Ian said, mortified.

"Don't be," laughed Breck. "You're a very attractive young man and I'm flattered. Believe me."

"Thanks," Ian said as Breck winked at him.

A short time later they were back in the other room and Breck was cutting his hair. He dried it first and used clippers to get close at the neck and sides and then scissors to blend the top. The effect was awesome. Ian looked at his reflection and was amazed at the transformation. The highlights were barely noticeable and he loved that. The cut made him look completely different. He was happy to see that he looked less like Alex than he'd feared he would when it was over.

Then they were standing at the desk again while his mother handed Breck her credit card and told him to add ten dollars to the bill for his tip. She was smiling at Ian as she looked at him. He smiled back at her and hoped that she wasn't upset about his name anymore. He didn't like seeing her upset.

"Well I guess I'll see you again in about five weeks," said Breck as he handed the credit card back to his mother.

"Thanks so much, Breck," he replied, smiling at him.

"Any time, Ian," replied Breck with a smile of his own and an added wink that Ian hoped his mother didn't see. "Mrs. Keller, it was a pleasure as always."

"Thank you, Breck," she said, smiling at him. "I'll see you in about two weeks myself."

"The appointment is in the book," he assured her without even consulting the book at all.

Then for the next two hours they went from clothing store to clothing store. Ian was happy that she let him pick out all of the clothes himself. He made sure that his clothes weren't the same as Alex's but the styles were similar. His mother smiled at him and he was pleased that she was in favor of his choices. He was a little embarrassed when he had to pick out underwear in front of her but happy that she didn't protest when he wanted boxer-briefs instead of boxers.

"You've chosen wisely, Ian," she said as they left the last department store. He stopped at the sound of his name and looked at her.

"You called me . . ."

"Yes," she sighed before smiling at him again. "I understand that you know the name Ian more than the name Matthew. Your father won't go for it, but when we're alone I'll call you Ian."

"Thank you," he said.

"Come," she said, taking his arm. "Your father will be waiting at the entrance by the salon.

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