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 Five:

Ian got his first look at the three story brown brick building that was Bryarwood High School the next morning. The building sat on a campus that took up two city blocks. On the other side of the street behind the school were tennis courts, a football field and a track field taking up four more city blocks. There were busses and students in front of the building. The students were in groups as they headed inside the building. Ian watched them from the back of the van as Alex climbed out and took off for his own group of friends.

They parked in the visitor section of the parking lot and walked up to the front of the school. There were six sets of double doors at the main entrance of the school. There were metal detectors at the entrances and security guards took his pack as well as anything metal he might be carrying.

The main lobby of the school was very large. There were tables set up along the back wall with packets of papers in neat rows across them. The floor was covered in blue carpet while the walls were white with a dark blue strip going through the center of the wall. To the left and right were banks of lockers. The lockers themselves were blue. Ian followed his mother and father into a room off to the left of the lobby. Main Office was stenciled on the door.

"Mr. and Mrs. Keller," said a blond haired woman as she got up from behind the massive desk in the center of the room. "Mr. Harvey is expecting you. Come right in."

"Thank you," said his father as they followed her around the desk to the door behind it.

The inner office was decorated in blues and greens. The carpet was a minty green while the walls were a soft blue. The desk at the back of the room was dark wood and matching tall file cabinets lined the wall behind it. There were book cases along one wall made from the same dark wood and filled with books. Four high-backed chairs sat in front of the desk.

"Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Keller," said a balding dark haired man with thick glasses that magnified his brown eyes. He had a thick mustache over his lip and was dressed in dark blue suit pants, a white long sleeve dress shirt with a dark red tie. "This must be Matthew."

"Yes," said his father, shaking Mr. Harvey's hand. "We've come to get him registered."

"Well have a seat and I'll get the forms," replied Mr. Harvey. "Once they're filled out Matthew can meet with one of our counsellors and be tested for placement."

His father filled out the forms so he couldn't see what was on them. He supposed it didn't matter anyway. He didn't want to have much to do with anything from Illinois now that he was free of the place. He wanted to start over. He sat and waited while his father filled out the forms.

"So Matthew you're in the tenth grade, right?" asked Mr. Harvey.

"Actually I'm in eleventh," he replied.

"Great," said the man with a big smile. "A smart one then?"

"Yes, sir," he replied.

"Well why don't I give Pete Simmons a call and have him come to take you for the testing? He'll also help you pick your classes and put together a schedule," said Mr. Harvey.

"Yes, sir," Ian said.

He watched as Mr. Harvey hit a button on his phone and then picked up the receiver to tell Pete Simmons that Matthew Keller was sitting in the office and ready for his testing. Then he told them that it would be just a few moments and his parents would be free to go.

"He'll be staying here until the end of the school day," said Mr. Harvey. "We feel that getting right in there is the right approach. What do you say Matthew?"

"That sounds fine, sir," replied Ian. He supposed he'd have to get used to being called Matthew at school.

Then there was a knock at the door and a sandy haired man stuck his head inside. He smiled at them and then came into the room. He looked no older than Tanner and was dressed in khaki slacks, deck shoes and a dark blue polo shirt. He shook hands with Matthew and assured his parents that he would be well taken care of.

Ian followed Pete out of the office and down the hall to the stairs. He told Ian that his office was on the second floor as they walked. He asked questions about Ian's interests and what he thought of the school so far along the way to his office. Ian answered his questions as best as he could but he really didn't have many interests.

"Well let's get you tested," said Pete as he opened the door to his office.

The office was a lot smaller than the main office and a lot messier. There were papers all over his desk and the file cabinets against one wall were scratched and dented. There were two chairs in front of Pete's desk and he indicated that Ian should sit in one of them while he went to the file cabinets to locate the test he was to take.

The test turned out to be simple enough. Pete told him that if got to a section that he didn't know the answers to he should skip the section. However, Ian completed the test. He was checking his answers when Pete looked up from whatever he was doing on his desk.

"You finished the whole thing?" he asked with a smile.

"Sure did," Ian replied. "Just checking some of my answers now."

"All right," said Pete. "Just hand it to me when you're done and I'll go over it."

When he finished he handed the test back to Pete. He sat quietly and waited while Pete went over the answers and checked them against the key. It took a little bit but Pete finally looked up at him with a delighted smile on his face.

"You really are a smart one," he said. "Ok, now we've decided to let you challenge a few classes later on to gain credit for them even though you haven't taken the classes. Think that'd be all right?"

"Sure," he said.

"Well from this I'd say you're ready for a few of those tests right now," Pete said. "We'll give you a few weeks before we administer those tests though. When is your birthday?"

"I think it's May thirteenth," he said unsure.

"Easy enough to check," said Pete with understanding in his voice. "I'm just trying to decide if you should take Driver's Training classes or not. I know which other classes I'm going to put you in already."

"I was told I would pick my classes?" he asked.

"Well sure," said Pete with another smile. "You'll have a choice in some of them, but there are certain classes that are mandatory. Those you don't get a choice in."

"All right," Ian replied.

"Well, let's talk about the classes you do have a choice in," said Pete, getting a big binder out of his desk and opening it to the middle.

For the next half-hour they went over the classes he would take. After a quick call to the main office Pete decided that he would take the Driver's Training class the following semester. He handed Ian a piece of paper with the classes and room numbers written down and then took him on a tour of the school and showed him to his locker.

Once he'd been issued a lock and had his locker locked, Pete walked him to his first hour class and explained to the teacher, Mrs. Lightner, that he was a new student. Mrs. Lightner smiled at him and reminded him of a grandmother. Her hair was almost white and pulled into a bun on the top of her head. She told him where to sit and handed him a text book.

"I won't be expecting you to follow along today, Matthew," she said. "I'll have some assignments for you tomorrow."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, sitting in the seat she indicated.

"Andy, would you please see that he gets to where he needs to be?" she asked the blond haired boy sitting next to him.

"Sure, Mrs. Lightner," said Andy, smiling at Ian. He held his hand out. "I'm Andy Morlin."

"Ian Keller," replied Ian.

"Didn't she call you Matthew?" asked Andy as he shook Ian's hand.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "But I prefer to be called Ian."

"Well nice to meet you Ian," Andy said with a smile. "Can I see your schedule?"

Ian handed it over and waited while Andy looked at it. He tried not to stare at him. Andy Morlin was almost as attractive as Sebastian Landry. His blond hair was cut short and spiked on the top of his head. He had dark green eyes and a crooked smile. He looked like he played a sport. His arms were just a hair over slightly muscular and his clothes hugged his body.

"We're in almost all of the same classes," Andy said, handing him back his schedule. "You can just hang with me today. The only class we have that's different is Gym. I don't have Gym."

"All right," Ian replied as Mrs. Lightner asked them to face the front.

As it turned out Andy Morlin was asked to help him in almost all of his classes. There were two classes that Ian wasn't going to need any help with and of course Andy couldn't help him with Gym. When the lunch bell sounded Andy told him to follow him.

They went through a line in the cafeteria that served sandwiches and chips. Ian got himself a chicken salad sandwich and plain potato chips and followed Andy to a table filled with people. One of the boys at the table was Sebastian Landry. Ian wasn't exactly thrilled to see him.

"Guys this is Ian Keller," said Andy. "This is his first day here."

"Hey, I thought your name was Matt," said Sebastian, smiling that killer smile at him.

"Yeah, but I like to be called Ian," he replied, sitting next to Andy across from Sebastian.

"Well then, Ian, welcome to Bryarwood High," said Sebastian.

"We've got almost matching schedules so I'm helping him out," said Andy.

"Right," said Sebastian as his smile slipped from his face. Ian watched as a silent exchange went on between Sebastian and Andy. He didn't know what was going on but they seemed tense.

He was introduced to everyone at the table and couldn't remember half of their names before they were all getting up and heading off to their classes. He noticed that Sebastian watched him and Andy for a few minutes before Amy pulled his arm and tugged him out of the cafeteria.

After Gym class, Alex met him at his locker. He had two of his friends with him. One was really tall with dark hair that was kind of shaggy and blue eyes. He was introduced as David Miller while the other was shorter than Ian with red hair, a face full of freckles and bright green eyes. His name was Chet Myer.

"I saw you with Andy Morlin a lot today," said Alex as they waited for their father to arrive to pick them up. "You even sat with the jocks at lunch."

"Andy's in a bunch of my classes," replied Ian. "He's helping me get caught up."

"Ah," Alex said as the van pulled up. He said that he'd see his friends later and they climbed into the van.

"How was your first day?" asked their father as they got inside the van.

"Fine, thank you," said Ian as he fastened his seat belt.

"He's running around with one of the most popular boys in school," said Alex. "He ate lunch with all of the popular kids."

"It's good that he's making friends," said their father as he drove out of the lot.

"How is it that you and Andy are in the same classes?" Alex asked. "Andy's a senior."

"Those are the classes that Pete put me in after I took that test," Ian explained.

"Huh," Alex said.

For the next week Ian continued to walk around the school with Andy and eat lunch in the cafeteria with Andy and his friends. Sebastian talked to him for most of every lunch period and then Carl Potter started to talk to him. When their father told them that they'd have to start riding the bus the following week Carl Potter told Ian that he would pick him up every morning and drive him home on the days that he didn't have football practice. Andy said he'd drive him home on the days that Carl had practice.

When Ian told his parents about it, Alex got mad because they didn't offer to drive him back and forth to school. Ian was about to say that he would just ride the bus when their father jumped in to say that they had separate friends and that was all there was to it. If Carl and Andy wanted to take it upon themselves to drive Matthew around then that's what they were going to do. He told Alex to just get over it.

That Sunday, Alex had to work at the diner. Ian began to wonder when his time would come but his mother told him that he wouldn't work a day in the diner until he was sixteen. Alex snorted at that but didn't say anything. Ian noticed that Alex seemed to be giving him hard looks whenever he thought he wouldn't be seen. Ian didn't care though. He didn't really like his brother much at all.

He was gone no more than an hour when Sebastian and Carl came knocking on the door. Ian was shocked that they had come to the house, but his mother seemed pleased as could be to invite them in and offer them refreshments. She left them sitting in the dining room once she had gotten them glasses of tea and one for Ian, who she had patted on the shoulder and embarrassed him.

"What's up guys?" he asked when she was safely in the living room.

"Nothing much," Carl replied. "We just thought we'd come and see what you were up to."

"Don't take this wrong," he said, being careful to choose his words. "I'm only fifteen. You're both seventeen or eighteen. I'm not sure I understand why either of you would want to hang out with me. I would think Alex would be the one you would all want to hang around with. He's a year older than me, almost two."

"But Alex isn't our friend, Ian," said Sebastian. "Believe me your age has nothing to do with it at all. We like you because you don't act your age."

"Alex wouldn't fit in with our crowd very well Ian," said Carl, causing Sebastian to look at him sharply for a second.

"Why not?" Ian asked, not letting it go. He really wanted to know.

"Well for one thing we don't agree with some of the things he does," said Sebastian softly. "Your brother can be pretty nasty to people when he wants to be and we don't like that."

"Alex has shown me that he can be nasty to people," Ian said just as softly. He was thinking of their uncle.

"Well then, you should understand why we don't include him," said Carl. "We're not like that. We give everyone a fair shot until they prove to us that they don't deserve a fair shot anymore."

"And you think I'm different than my brother?" Ian asked.

"From what we've seen so far we know you are," said Sebastian and then smiled. "But we'll give you time to prove us wrong."

"Thanks," Ian said, smiling back. He had no idea how he was ever going to be able to get over the thrill he felt seeing Sebastian Landry smile.

"That's not the only reason we came to see you Ian," said Carl, looking at Sebastian for a second and then making sure his mother wasn't anywhere that she could hear what he was going to say.

"What?" Ian asked, looking from Carl to Sebastian and back again.

"Well we've noticed that you and Andy Morlin seem to be getting pretty friendly," said Carl.

"Yeah," he replied.

"We just want you to be careful with Andy," said Sebastian. "Don't let him talk you into anything you don't want to do."

"What do you mean?" Ian asked.

"If you don't know what we're talking about then there isn't a problem," said Carl. "Just trust us. Don't let him even try to talk you into anything you don't want to do. If he does just let one of us know."

"Yeah all right," he said, looking from one to the other of them and back again. He had no idea what they were talking about. Andy had been nothing but nice to him. He wondered if there was something about Andy that he needed to know but they were afraid to tell him.

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