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 Three:

"You're hair looks great!" cried Alex when they got home from the mall. "Breck did a great job!"

"Thank you," replied Ian, feeling a bit uncomfortable under his brother's gaze. "Yes he did."

"Oh," said Alex, turning to their father. "There's a message for you on the peg board in the kitchen, Dad."

"Thank you," said their father as he walked through the dining room to the kitchen.

"So what all did you get?" Alex asked Ian, looking at the bags in his hands.

"Well why don't you help him put it away upstairs," interceded their mother with a small smile on her face.

"Right," said Ian as he turned and headed for the stairs.

"Wait for me," laughed Alex as he followed, taking two bags from Ian's hands.

They made it up to the room they shared and Ian put the bags and three shoe boxes on his bed. Alex started to help him when he began to take the clothes out of the bags. They took tags off of clothing in silence. Ian was happy to see that Alex neatly folded everything after removing the tags and stacked them in piles on the bed.

"You really got a lot," he said as Ian started to lace the two pairs of tennis shoes. "Good thing I made room in the closet."

He got off the bed and walked over to the closet. Ian saw that half the closet was empty. He wondered where the rest of Alex's clothes were, but he didn't ask. Once the shoes were laced he got up and put them in the bottom of the empty side of the closet. Alex helped him hang his shirts and dress pants on hangers but neither boy attempted to hang them in the closet. Ian was thankful because he wanted them arranged by both color and type. There were some shirts and pants that he wouldn't wear to school.

Then there were just the last two bags that held school supplies. Ian didn't think he'd need twenty spiral notebooks or five packages of lined loose-leaf paper. There were also three packages of pencils and three of pens as well. A leather binder took up almost the entire second bag. He took it all out and lined it up on the bed.

"What you need is a back-pack," Alex said thoughtfully. Then he was up and digging in the bottom of his side of the closet until he came out with a black leather back-pack. He held it out to Ian. "It's mine from last year. I don't know why they didn't buy you one. I get a new one every year."

"Thanks," Ian said, taking the bag.

He opened the binder and one package of paper. Once the paper was trapped in the binder he took six folders and put them on top of the binder with one package each of pens and pencils. Then he placed the stack inside the back-pack and was just setting it down on the floor when their mother knocked on the open door.

"Matthew, your father wants to speak to you," she said, looking at him strangely.

"Yes, ma'am," he said, looking at Alex who shrugged and sat down on his bed. He followed his mother back down the stairs wondering what he'd done wrong. Had they decided that what they'd bought for him was too much? He didn't think that was it. He just didn't know what to expect.

"Have a seat please," his father said when they reached the dining room.

"Alex stayed upstairs," said his mother as she sat down across from her husband.

Ian sat down beside her. He felt that if he'd bonded at all with either of them it had been his mother. He just hoped that whatever bond they shared would act as a buffer for whatever his father wanted to talk about. His stomach was rolling as he anticipated the discussion.

"Son, I need to ask you a question and I want you to answer me honestly," said his father. "Can you do that?"

"Yes, sir," he replied, swallowing.

"I just got off the telephone with Sergeant Brinkman in Illinois," said his father, and the rolling of his stomach stepped up a notch. "He told me they've found some evidence that they need to talk to you about inside the trailer you were living in with . . . Mr. Schultz. Do you know what it might be?"

He looked at the man for a silent moment and wondered how he could get out of telling him what he was sure it was. He was so sure that they would hate him if they knew what had gone on between him and the man that had taken him. He didn't want them to hate him. How could he live with them if they hated him?

"Yes, sir," he finally said just above a whisper. He lowered his gaze to the table and began to clutch his hands together on his knees. He jumped slightly when his mother reached her hand under the table and place it on top of his.

"Matthew, you don't have to be afraid," his father said. "Whatever it is I'm sure we'll deal with it."

"Yes, sir," he said without raising his gaze.

"Is it something that will get you into trouble with the law, Matthew?" his mother asked, patting his hands under the table.

"No, ma'am," he replied. "I don't think so."

"Well why don't you just tell us what you think it is?" his father asked, letting just a touch of impatience seep into his voice as he talked.

"Pictures," Ian said in a near whisper.

"Pictures?" his father asked.

"Pictures of what?" his mother asked at almost the same time.

Ian looked away from both of them and stared off into the living room. He had to tell them but he was so afraid of what their reaction would be. He suddenly felt sick to his stomach and he was sure that he would vomit soon. How could he tell them? How could he not?

"Pictures of me," he finally said, still not looking at them.

"I don't understand," said his mother. Her hand stopped patting his under the table. It rested on his clasped hands but she wasn't patting anymore.

"I didn't want it," he said suddenly, loosing his grip on his nerves. Tears ran down his face as he turned to face his father. "He made me."

"Oh sweet Jesus," whispered his mother, clutching his hands suddenly.

"Matthew," said his father, but he faltered and looked away for a second. It was just long enough to make Ian fear the worst before he turned back to look at him again with heart-wrenching compassion in his eyes. "How long, son?"

"For as long as I can remember, sir," he said in a pained voice.

Once he started it all came tumbling from his lips. He told them about the threats and taunts, the beginning of the sexual abuse and how it progressed to full on rape. He told them about how the man who he'd thought was his father took pleasure in his misery and brought friends home to abuse him. He told them about being forced to watch as the man raped and tortured other young boys while his friends took pictures and, finally, how he was the one being raped and tortured while one of the man's friend took pictures. These were the pictures he was sure Sergeant Brinkman had found in the trailer in Illinois.

He was nearly sobbing before his tale of vile abuse ended. He was so upset that he could barely breathe and he was even more certain that his stomach would expel what was left of the food he'd eaten at lunch at any moment. What was more horrible than the telling was the silence that came after. His parents were too sickened to even speak to him now. His mother had removed her hand from his and he'd winced when he felt her remove it.

"I'm sorry," he said, closing his eyes. He put his forehead on the table and silently wept.

"Oh, Matthew," his mother moaned and then her arm was around him. "You poor sweet boy."

"I'm so sorry," he moaned as she stroked his back. "I didn't want it."

"Of course you didn't," she said, looking up at her husband with tear filled eyes. "Daryl?"

"Matthew, listen to me," said his father, clearing his throat. "You have done nothing wrong. Son, look at me."

Ian slowly raised his head from the table and looked at his father with red-rimmed eyes. Tears streaked his face and his nose was running. His heart was pounding and he was afraid of what he would see when he looked into his father's eyes. What he saw made him cry harder. The man was crying!

"Whatever happened to you when you were with that man was not your fault," he said. "I understand that you were probably terrified that he would hurt you if you told so please don't think we blame you in any way. That man is sick, Matthew. He's sick and he's going to get what he deserves."

"Here, Sweetheart," said his mother, holding out a tissue and taking him into her arms after he'd wiped his eyes and blew his nose. "Oh you poor boy."

"I used to fantasize about being switched at birth a lot," he said once he'd managed to stop sobbing. "I would pretend that my real family was looking for me and they'd find me one day. I guess my fantasy was actually a strange sort of reality."

"With everything that was happening to you it's no wonder you didn't remember us," said his father. "Matthew, we searched for you every day for ten years."

"We've never stopped loving you, Matthew," said his mother. "Alex probably had life a bit harder than he would have otherwise because we were so afraid after you were gone."

"That's not important," said his father. "They're both safe and sound at home now."

Safe and sound. It sounded like a real fantasy to Ian. He hadn't dared entertain the thought so far and he didn't plan to any time soon. They were his parents and they'd proven that they really loved him after what he'd told them but he still wasn't sure that this whole thing wasn't some kind of dream that he'd wake up from and be back in the trailer waiting for his father's next sexual attack.

After a moment of silence his mother suggested that he go and wash his face while she got Alex downstairs and ready to go. His father announced that they were going to have supper at the diner that night. Ian wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing but he didn't want to say anything about it either way. He just did as he was told. He was just coming out of the bathroom when Alex came down the stairs. Their parents were already headed for the van.

"Did you get in trouble?" Alex asked as he came into the dining room.

"No," he replied, but didn't tell him what really happened. "They just wanted to talk to me about something. No big deal."

"Come on," said Alex, turning to head for the door. "We'll both get it if we keep Dad waiting."

He followed his brother out of the house and into the van. His mother gave him a look that he couldn't identify so he tried to smile at her. He thought he succeeded because she smiled and turned to face the front of the van. Once the side door was closed his father pulled out of the driveway.

He was too busy thinking about what he had told them and their reaction to it to even pay attention to the route they took to the diner. He hoped that they really did understand that nothing that happened in the time he'd been in Illinois was what he wanted. He didn't want them to think he was a sexual deviant. He also wasn't so sure that he wanted Alex to know about any of it. He wasn't so sure that he would be as understanding as their parents.

The Galaxy Diner looked like it had been transported from the fifties. The building itself was white with a red and black checked strip that ran along the middle of the building, broken by the double doors and huge windows in the front. It was shaped like a fifties diner as well with a bulging rounded front full of windows. A huge black pole held the neon sing that simply said "The Galaxy" in red neon on a black background. There were tables outside as well as in and Ian was surprised to see women and teenaged girls walking around dressed in red shirts and black hoop skirts, carrying trays. Their shoes even looked like they'd come from the fifties.

The inside of the diner was also a blast from the past. The black and white checked floor was polished to shine so well that reflections could see in it. The tables were covered with red and black checked tablecloths and the same strip that ran along the center of the building's outside ran across the center of the walls inside. There were twenty tables on the main level with a bar that had ten red and black stools in front of it. A half wall was behind the bar and behind it was the huge grill. The front of the diner was raised up. There were three steps on either side of the platform to get up there. There were at least fifteen tables up there as well as a music box that looked like it had come from past as well.

Almost every table was full, but there was a booth on the other side of the room that they went to and sat down. Ian was instantly aware of everyone looking at him when they sat down. He felt uncomfortable for a few minutes. His father noticed and smiled at him.

"I'm sure these fine people are just curious about you, Matthew," he said. "Word has to have gotten around that you're home after all this time."

"Yes, sir," he replied, trying not to feel so uncomfortable about it. He imagined he'd be staring if he was sitting on the other side of his own situation.

"Hey, Daryl," said a dark haired boy that had come up to the table.

His nametag said his name was Sebastian. Ian looked at him and for some reason he felt a little dizzy. This boy was probably the most attractive boy he'd ever seen in his life. His dark hair was cut short and parted to the left. Little spiky strands stood up here and there in the part. His eyes were dark brown with little golden speckles in them, making them appear to almost glow with an inner radiance. His smile was perfect and the sight of it made Ian's knees weak.

"Hello, Sebastian," said his father with a huge smile of his own. "What brings you to the table?"

"I just wanted to say hello, sir," Sebastian replied. "We weren't expecting you this weekend and I wanted to make sure that everything is all right."

"Thank you, Sebastian," replied his father. "Everything is right as rain. Our son, Matthew, has come home."

"I'd heard that he was home," Sebastian said with another killer smile. "I'm very happy for your family."

"Matthew," his father said, turning to him. "This is Sebastian Landry. He's our assistant manager. He and his friends have come to the diner since they were thirteen so he's kind of part of the family."

"Very nice to meet you, Matthew," Sebastian said, extending his hand. Ian wasn't so sure he should actually touch this beautiful boy. He was afraid that he'd make a fool of himself. He didn't want to appear rude though.

"Nice to meet you as well," he said, shaking his offered hand and feeling his stomach flip at the touch.

"It's good to see you, too, Alex," Sebastian said, releasing Ian's hand.

"Good to see you, Seb," said Alex with a smile. "Matt will be in school with us Monday."

"I'll look for him," replied Sebastian with another of those smiles that threatened to suck the air out of Ian's lungs and leave him gasping. "Can I get your order?"

"We'll have the special all around, Seb," said his father. "A pitcher of iced tea for drinks."

"Sounds good," said Sebastian. "I'll have that for you in just a few minutes. Sheila will be here with your drinks."

"Thanks, Seb," said his father with a smile.

"You're very welcome, Daryl," he said, smiling back at him. "I'm glad I met you, Matt."

"Thank you," Ian said lamely and watched as Sebastian walked away from the table, stopping now and then to say hello to other customers.

"He's such a nice boy," said his mother while he watched.

"Seb's one of the most popular boys in school," said Alex. "He's captain of the football team and dating the captain of the cheerleading squad. His friends are like the Gods of Bryarwood High."

So he'd met a high school God. That explained the feeling that ran through him he supposed. What scared him was the reaction Sebastian's perfect smile had caused in his body. He silently willed his erection to subside as he thought about what it meant that he'd been so effected by Sebastian Landry. Was he gay? Did that mean he was just as horrible as the man who'd kidnapped him?

An older woman with red hair that was pulled tightly back and pinned to her head came with a pitcher of tea and four glasses on a tray. She smiled at them and thanked his father when he complimented her on something that Ian didn't hear. She only looked at him once and it was as if he were just another customer. He was thankful for that. After Sebastian's effect on him he no longer wanted to be in a fishbowl.

It wasn't long after Sheila brought the tea that Sebastian returned with a tray of his own. He placed a plate of roast beef, mashed potatoes and corn in front of each of them. Next came napkins which he handed to each of them. Ian shivered when he took the napkin out of Sebastian's hand and their fingers touched for a fraction of a second. He was wearing that perfect smile again, and Ian was in agony.

"Enjoy," he said when his tray was empty.

"Thank you, Seb," said his mother with a smile of his own.

They all settled down to eat their food but Ian could see Alex looking at him out of the corner of his eye. Had he noticed the reaction Sebastian had elicited in him? His shirt was long enough that he didn't think Alex had seen the full extent but he must have noticed something because he continued to stare at him off and on as they ate. He was suddenly more uncomfortable than he'd been since they arrived at the diner.

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