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 Four:

"So this is your brother Matthew," said the mousy haired man when he answered the door to allow Ian and Alex inside the house. "I was wondering when I was going to finally meet him."

"Matthew Keller, Tanner Scott," said Alex with a smile.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Matthew," said Tanner, shaking his hand. "Or do you prefer Matt?"

"Actually, I prefer Ian," he said before he could stop himself. He noticed that Alex looked at him but he ignored it. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well."

"Well, Ian, Alex talks of nothing but you since you've come home," said Tanner, looking at Alex out of the corner of his eye. "I was afraid I'd have to come next door to meet you."

"Is it all right if Matt . . . Ian stays with me today?" Alex asked, stumbling over Ian's choice of names.

"Not at all," replied Tanner. "I won't be out long today. I'm just going to pick up a few things for Mrs. Kline. There's cake in the kitchen. Dalton's mother made it for us. Help yourselves to a piece. There's milk and tea in the fridge. Sorry, no soda."

"Milk or tea is fine, thank you," said Ian before Alex could say a word.

"Well well," said Tanner with a smile. "You are polite."

"Yes, sir," he replied, smiling back.

"Oh, don't call me sir," he laughed. "My father is 'sir'. I'm just an accountant."

"I'll remember that, Tanner," he said, smiling again.

"Well boys it shouldn't be too difficult today," said Tanner, dragging his eyes away from Ian and looking at Alex. "They're both napping. It was a difficult morning but they're fine now. They'll ring the bell if they need anything."

"No problem, Tanner," said Alex. "We'll be fine."

Ian watched him grab his keys from the peg board beside the door and walk out. Tanner Scott wasn't a bad looking guy. He mentally kicked himself for that thought but it did no good. He couldn't fight what he was he supposed. He was still thinking about that when he noticed Alex staring at him.

"What?" he asked.

"Why did you tell him you prefer to be called Ian?" Alex asked. "Your name is Matthew."

"It isn't easy to switch and stop using a name I've been called for ten years, Alex," he said. "I didn't know it would bother you. I'm sorry."

"Just don't let Dad catch you using that name," said Alex. "Come on. Let's get a piece of that cake."

He followed him into the kitchen of the house and whistles softly as he looked around. Everything in the kitchen was white from the floor to the ceiling. There were so many culinary contraptions around the kitchen that Ian thought Tanner must be a great cook or at least an enthusiast. The cake was sitting on a glass plate with a glass cover. Alex went straight to it.

"There are glasses in the second cupboard above the sink," he told Ian as he got saucers from another cupboard and placed a piece of the chocolate cake on each.

"You want milk or tea?" Ian asked, holding the door to the fridge open.

"Milk," replied Alex, so Ian got two glasses of milk and followed his brother out of the kitchen and into the dining room.

They sat at the small dining table and ate their cake in silence. Ian let himself taste the cake as he ate. Whoever Dalton's mother was had done a great job. The cake was moist and rich. The milk went great with it too. Ian loved it.

"So what do we do while we're here?" he asked once he'd finished his cake.

"We can sit in the living room and watch television," said Alex. "There isn't much to this gig, but Tanner's a good guy and I enjoy helping him out."

"All right," he replied, grabbing the empty saucers and glasses and taking them back to the kitchen. Alex sat at the table to wait for him.

There was a knock at the door as he came back through the dining room so he stopped to wait while Alex answered the door. He was shocked to find Sebastian standing on the porch when Alex opened the door. He smiled at them with that perfect smile and Ian swallowed hard. Not thinking about him would be impossible if he was going to show up all of the time. He'd had no idea that Alex and Sebastian were friends. Alex hadn't mentioned him when he was telling him about his friends the other night.

"Hi guys," Sebastian said. "Is Tanner here?"

"He had to do some things for Mrs. Kline today," said Alex. "What's up?"

"Oh I wanted to come by and see if he needed me to take care of the yard this week," replied Sebastian. "Could you tell him I stopped by?"

"You could come in and wait for him," Alex offered.

"I wouldn't want to do that without Tanner here," Sebastian said with a smile. "Please tell him to call me. I'm off today so I'll be home or at Dalton's."

"Will do," said Alex.

"Nice to see you again, Matt," Sebastian said, smiling at Ian and making his knees weak.

"Nice to see you, too," he replied with what he thought was a steady voice. He was aware of the fact that Alex was looking at him again.

"Well I guess I'll see you boys in school tomorrow," Sebastian said. "Later."

"Bye, Sebastian," Alex said before closing the door.

They went into the living room and sat on the couch. Ian could think of nothing but Sebastian's smile. Alex picked up the remote control and turned the television to a video station. Then he just looked at Ian for a moment which made Ian uncomfortable again.

"What?" he asked after a minute.

"You seem to have made an impression on Sebastian," Alex said. "He hardly ever talks to me at all."

"He's just being nice I guess," Ian replied, not wanting to discuss Sebastian Landry.

"I guess," Alex said. "There isn't much chance of you hanging out with him anyway. He's a senior and you're going to be a sophomore."

"Right," Ian said, masking his relief. He wasn't sure he could handle hanging out with Sebastian.

"I'll introduce you around at school," Alex said. "Don't worry."

"I'm not worried," replied Ian, wondering why his brother thought he would be worrying about being introduced at school.

"Well I'm sure that everyone is going to ask you all kinds of questions because of the situation," Alex said thoughtfully. "But I'll make sure that you hang with the right people."

They were quiet after that and Ian was thankful. He didn't like Alex thinking he had to choose his friends for him. Ian wasn't really interested in having friends at that time anyway but he really didn't think he needed his brother to find friends for him. That would be just as uncomfortable for him as trying to be friends with Sebastian Landry and keep his mind off of how attractive the boy was.

He was still thinking of Sebastian when Tanner returned an hour later. Tanner thanked them for staying and handed them both ten dollars and refused to take it back when Ian protested. Alex told him that Sebastian had been by to ask about the lawn and Tanner thanked him for letting him know.

They went back to their house in silence. Ian was still thinking about Sebastian when they walked in the back door and found a strange man sitting with their mother in the kitchen. The dark haired young man looked at them and fear passed over his attractive face. He kind of looked like Alex the more Ian looked at him.

"I think I should go," he said, getting up. "Thanks for listening."

"Evan, you don't have to go," said their mother, getting up from the table but he was already out the door.

"What was he doing here?" Alex asked hatefully and Ian looked at him.

"He's my brother and your uncle, Alex," she said quickly. "I expect you to treat him with respect."

"Right," sneered Alex. "Wait till Dad finds out . . ."

"You will not tell your father that Evan was here," she snapped. "If you do I'll make you sorry. I promise. Now go upstairs and get out of my sight."

Ian had never seen her like that before so he followed Alex out of the kitchen and up the stairs to their room. He sat on his bed and wondered what was going on. She's said that Evan was their uncle so he didn't understand why Alex was so hateful about him. Then there was the look of fear that crossed his face when he saw them come in the door. What was the guy afraid of?

"That's just great," sighed Alex as he slumped on his bed. "Mom lets that fag in here and I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut. Dad would go crazy if he knew that she's even still talking to him."

Ian sat there looking at him with his mouth hanging open. Evan was gay? That was why Alex was so hateful? He really had to make sure that Alex never found out about him. He didn't want the headache. He also didn't want their father finding out if what Alex said was true. But at the same time he'd lost every shred of respect he'd had for his brother. He no longer cared if they could be close or not. If he was so narrow-minded Ian didn't think he wanted anything to do with him.

"You're being quiet," Alex said after a long moment.

"Nothing to say," replied Ian, keeping his voice even.

"You don't think it's sick?" Alex asked, raising his eyebrows.

"I don't think I want to have this conversation," Ian said slowly. "It doesn't matter to me what Evan is or does. It shouldn't to you either."

"Wait a minute," snapped Alex. "Are you telling me that you don't care that he's gay?"

"I don't even know the man," Ian pointed out. "What difference does it make to me if he's gay? I don't care either way actually. It's none of my business."

"Whatever," sighed Alex, rolling his eyes.

Ian sat there and looked at him for a moment and then decided he didn't want to sit with him any longer. He got up and went back downstairs. His mother was still in the kitchen so he went in to talk with her. She looked up with fire in her eyes when he came in but her look softened when she saw that it was Ian and not Alex.

"I came to see if you needed any help with supper," he said softly.

"No thank you," she said, smiling at him. "But I'd enjoy the company while I cook."

"I'd enjoy the company myself," he replied.

"You and Alex have a fight?"

"He's upset about Evan," he said carefully. "I don't share his opinion so I guess we're on the outs."

"Don't let Evan's sexuality come between you and your brother, Ian," she said. "It isn't really worth it."

"Yes, ma'am," he said but still had no intention of trying to forge a relationship with his narrow-minded brother.

"You don't share his opinion of Evan?" she asked in spite of what she'd told him.

"I don't know Evan," he replied. "I don't form opinions about people I don't know unless there's too much evidence that they are bad people to ignore. I give everyone a fair chance."

"But you don't care that he's a homosexual," she said.

"That's not my business," he said. "I don't know what Alex and Dad think about that issue but it makes no difference to me as long as he doesn't try to interfere with my life."

"You're a very smart young man, Ian," she said after a long moment. "I wish I could take credit for that."

"Thank you," he said nervously.

After that she cooked in silence. He just sat there and tried not to think of what her opinion of him would be if she learned that he was gay as well. It seemed he already knew what his brother and father's opinion would be. He decided that he'd lived ten years of his life without a brother so it wasn't really going to be too difficult to not have him as a friend. His father was another matter. He just hoped that if the man ever found out he'd think about the fact that Ian was his son and not his wife's brother.

His father was coming in the back door as his mother was getting the dishes read to take to the table. He helped her carry the food and she smiled at him. He watched as his father went to the stairs and called Alex down for supper. He just hoped that Alex kept his mouth shut about Evan. He didn't know why but he really didn't want any more bad things said about Evan.

"How is everything at the diner?" asked his mother as they sat down.

"Running smooth," his father replied as Alex came to the table and took his seat. "They missed Alex today though."

"It was nice of you to let him stay and sit for Mr. and Mrs. Scott today," she said, eying Alex.

"Yes, thank you, Dad," he said quickly.

"Matthew, how was your day?" his father asked, turning to Ian.

"Fine, thank you," he replied.

Then they were quiet as they passed dishes of food back and forth around the table and began to eat. Ian was still waiting to see if Alex would tell their father that Evan had been in the house. He was fully expecting him to and that had him more than a little unsettled. He still didn't know why he was so worried about it. His relationship with his brother was over. That was for sure, but that really had little to do with Evan.

"Your homework is done Alex?" their father asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"Matthew, you ready to start school tomorrow?" asked their father.

"Yes, sir," he replied. "Looking forward to it actually."

"Good to hear," said their father. "We'll get you registered first thing in the morning."

"Yes, sir," he said.

And that was the last that was said until the supper dishes were being cleared from the table. Then their father wanted a private word with Alex. Ian went up to the room he shared with his brother and silently prayed that Alex wouldn't say anything about Evan being there when they came home from Tanner's. He supposed there was nothing he could do about it anyway but he still hoped his brother would keep his mouth shut. He was selecting his clothes for the next day when Alex came into the room.

"Don't worry I didn't say anything about Evan," Alex said, flopping himself down on his bed. "I still don't see why it's so important to you."

"I don't want to discuss Evan," Ian replied, putting the jeans and shirt on the back of the desk chair. Then he started getting his back-pack ready.

"You really only need six folders and notebooks," Alex said after watching him sort the items for a moment. "There are only six hours in our school day."

"All right," he said, selecting six of each and putting them in the bag.

"You nervous about school?" Alex asked.

"No," he replied, turning to look at his brother. "Should I be?"

"No reason I can think of," said Alex. "Like I said I'll introduce you around."

Ian didn't comment on that. He still didn't think it was necessary for his brother to find his friends for him. He could manage on his own if he decided he needed friends. He still couldn't think of making new friends without feeling guilty about what had happened to the ones he'd had in Illinois.

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