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 Seven:

"I can't believe they're letting you hang out with fags," Alex said to him as they were walking into Tanner's house the next day to sit with Tanner's parents.

"I don't think now is the time to talk about this," said Ian as he looked at Tanner's shocked eyes.

"I don't think I want you to sit with my parents anymore," Tanner said. "If I had known that you were that narrow-minded I would have never asked you to sit for them in the first place. I'll just call Dalton and tell him that we'll have to do this some other time. I want you to leave Alex."

"I'm sorry about my brother, Tanner," said Ian as Alex stormed back out the door.

"Ian you have nothing to be sorry for," he replied. "I am a homosexual and I don't want people like your brother around me. I've heard nothing but good things about you from Sebastian so I'm assuming you don't share your brother's outlook on life."

"No I don't," he said. "I think I'm probably a homosexual too."

"Well, I want you to know that if you're confused, I'm here," said Tanner with a smile. "I know you don't know me at all, but I'll listen if you need to talk."

"Thank you," replied Ian, feeling his face warm with his blush. He couldn't believe he'd just blurted it out like that.

"And don't let your brother make you feel inferior," said Tanner. "People like him are a dime a dozen."

"Oh I would never let Alex make me feel anything," he said with a smile.

"You'd better run home and make sure that your parents know that I don't want Alex over here," Tanner said. "Make them understand that you are welcome any time."

"I'll do that," he said. "I guess I'll see you later."

"I'm hoping so," said Tanner before Ian left.

He could hear Alex yelling as soon as he got to the door to the house. He sighed as he turned the knob and walked in the door. He didn't really want this confrontation but he knew there was no way to get around it. He just wished that his brother wasn't so ignorant about the world and the people in it.

"And why did you stay over there so long after he told us to get out?" his brother demanded hatefully when he came in.

"He didn't tell us to get out," replied Ian. "He told you to get out."

"Oh!" cried Alex. "Another person thinks that Matthew Keller is God's gift. Perfect!"

"Alex that's enough," said their father in a hard tone. "You will go to your room for the remainder of the day."

"But that's not fair!" cried Alex.

"Not another word," said their father. "Now go."

Everyone was silent as Alex stomped up the stairs. Ian sighed as he watched. There would be no getting through to him now. He didn't really want to get through to him but he didn't want him to be his enemy either. He knew that they would never be close but at least they were usually civil.

"What exactly did Tanner say, Ian?" asked his father after Alex's bedroom door slammed.

"He said that Alex is no longer welcome over there," replied Ian. "He told me to please let you know that I am still welcome."

"And that's fine," said his father. "Andy Morlin called for you. You have his number?"

"Yes, sir," he replied. "I'll call him back."

Ian didn't know what was going to happen between his father and brother. He decided not to worry about it though. He went to the phone and called Andy. What Andy wanted was to come over. After getting his father's permission he told Andy he could come and sat in the living room to wait for him. He hoped to find out just what it was that Sebastian and Carl had warned him about.

When Andy got there Ian's mother offered to make them a snack before they went downstairs. They accepted and waited in the dining room. They didn't say much and Ian tried hard not to stare at Andy. He was finding that more and more difficult the more he was around him. Sebastian Landry was without a doubt the most attractive boy that Ian had ever seen, but Andy Morlin wasn't far behind him at all.

"These shouldn't make much of a mess if there are any accidents," said his mother as she returned to the dining room with a plate of sliced apples. "You should both grab something to drink before you go down as well."

"Thank you," said Ian as he took the plate from her. He heard Andy thanking her as he went to the kitchen to get to cans of soda.

"Your mother is a nice woman," Andy said when they were downstairs in the family room.

"Yes," Ian replied. "She's very nice."

"So what are you up to today?" Andy asked, looking around the room.

"Not too much actually," said Ian. "There was a problem with Alex so whatever we were going to do won't be happening now."

"What's wrong with Alex?" he asked, looking into Ian's eyes.

"That's actually something I shouldn't talk about," Ian said. "He's being punished."

"Well all right," said Andy. "So what would you like to do today?"

"We could watch a movie," he replied, looking over at the entertainment center. "There are a few of them over there."

"Which movies do you have?"

"I don't really know," admitted Ian. "I haven't looked at them."

"You've got all of this down here and you haven't used any of it?" Andy asked, looking at him incredulously.

"Well I'm usually studying or asleep when I'm down here," Ian replied, looking away.

"I guess we'll have to remedy that then," laughed Andy as he got up from the couch and walked over to the entertainment center. He started to go through the stack of DVD's, setting one aside here and there. "These are all pretty old but there are a few in here that are really cool."

"They were my uncle's," said Ian.

"Well what do you think?" Andy asked, holding up the two movies he'd set aside. "The Bourne Identity or The Day After Tomorrow?"

"I don't care," replied Ian. He'd never seen either movie so it didn't really matter. He hadn't seen a lot of movies actually. That wasn't something that his captor had allowed. They'd had no television so he didn't even know what was really popular on television. He wasn't going to tell Andy that though.

"Well I think The Day After Tomorrow has really awesome special effects," he said, putting the other movie back on the stack. "Why don't we watch it?"

"All right," he said with a shrug.

He watched as Andy turned on the television, keyed the remote and loaded the DVD into the machine. Then they were seated beside each other on the couch with the plate of apples and sodas on the coffee table in front of them. Ian was well aware of how close together they were sitting and his heart began to beat faster. He thought he'd have trouble following the movie with Andy so close to him but he was wrong about that.

The movie captivated his attention from start to finish. He watched as parts of the world were all but annihilated by tornadoes, floods and Ice Age snow storms. He was riveted by a scene where three characters had to leave the safety of a library in New York City to explore a ship that had gotten stuck in the flooded city to search for medicine and food. He gripped the the legs of his jeans when wolves appeared on the ship and tried to attack the three boys.

"Well what did you think?" Andy asked when the movie was finally over.

"I thought it was amazing," replied Ian with open wonder. "I've never seen anything like it before."

"It's a good movie," agreed Andy. "I'd seen it twice before but it's one that I'd watch again and again."

They talked back and forth about different scenes that they liked, but Ian was still in awe of the movie. He couldn't believe how great it had been. The movie had kept him on the edge of his seat almost from start to finish. He wondered if the other movies in the stack on the entertainment center would be as good as this one had.

They ate the rest of the apples and drank their sodas as they talked about the movie. Andy had a strange smile on his face the whole time they were talking and Ian wondered what was running through the other boy's head. He was really getting to like Andy Morlin and he couldn't think of anything that would cause Sebastian and Carl to warn him away from him. As far as he had seen Andy was a great friend to have.

Andy had to leave just before supper time but he promised to bring movies that he thought Ian would like from time to time and he said that after studying they could watch a movie now and then. Ian was really happy about that. He was sad to see him leave.

"I'm glad you had a nice time with your friend," his mother said to him after he'd seen Andy to the door.

"I did," he replied with a smile. "We watched a movie. I have to tell you that I never really watched movies or television until I came here. It was amazing."

"Well we'll have to see about getting you some more movies," she said, but he noticed that her smile slipped a bit. "The television downstairs has cable. You can watch any of the channels."

"Thank you," he replied.

He was happy while they sat around the table for supper. Even Alex's sullen look didn't alter his happiness. He answered his father's questions about how his studying was going and about the time he'd spent downstairs with Andy, leaving out the fact that he'd not watched television and movies before coming home. His father agreed with his mother about getting him more movies. He also said that Ian should feel free to invite friends over to watch movies or just hang out any time he felt like it as long as there was nothing going on with the family.

Over the next few weeks the house became very active. Ian had friends over quite often. His mother seemed happy enough to make snacks for everyone and she made everyone feel welcome. Ian got to see many movies with his friends. He'd seen every movie in the stack on the entertainment center, some of them twice.

He noticed that Alex stayed upstairs when Ian's friends were in the house. He never stayed long enough to say hello to any of them and he didn't even say that much when Ryan Jackson, Jason Oliver or Paul Tate came to watch a movie or just hang out. The boys didn't seem to care much about what Alex did or didn't say to them when they were over. Ian decided that it was just the way it was going to be and there was nothing to be done about it.

Ian got closer with each of his friends as they came to watch movies or just hang out with him. Several times they came in groups of threes and his mother was always thrilled to have them. They would sit around the family room and talk about nothing in particular or watch movies. There were always snacks for everyone and Ian noticed that his mother began to shop for more mouths when she went to the grocery store.

Monday morning he had to report to his counsellor's office instead of going to his classes. Pete took him to the AV room to take several tests. There were two other men in the room the whole time but he paid little attention to them as he got into the tests he was taking. They broke for lunch but he wasn't allowed to leave the room for anything more than a drink and bathroom breaks. He finished the last test just minutes before the final bell of the day and he worried about the tests as Carl drove him home.

"You think you passed them though right?" Carl asked as they pulled out of the school parking lot.

"I'm sure I passed most of them," he replied. "There were two that were tricky. I'm not so sure about those."

"Well at most you'd have to take those two classes in summer school or something," Carl said with a smile. "You'll still be able to graduate."

"I hope so," Ian replied, thinking about how awesome it would be to go to college and be able to decide what classes he wanted to take.

He didn't find out which tests he passed until three days before the Thanksgiving break. He and his friends had been growing impatient by that time but his mother and father were with him when he met with his counsellor and the principal of the school. He was so nervous he nearly forgot his manners twice.

"There are a few reasons that we've asked you both to be here today," said Pete as they sat down. "One of them is that we wanted you to hear first hand what his scores were and answer any questions you might have about what comes next. The second reason is the consent forms that have to be signed."

"Consent forms?" his father asked.

"We'll get to those in just a few minutes," replied Pete with a smile. "Let's first go over the test scores. Now Matthew has shown from his tests that he has a full understanding of the subjects that he was tested on. He scored very high on all but one test. The History test had a lower score than the rest, but he passed that one as well. I was very happy to notice that the United States Constitution portion was one that he made absolutely no mistakes on. What lowered his score was the Wisconsin Constitution.

"Now we understand that he has lived in Illinois for the better part of his life and he really had no way to study our state's constitution enough to pass that portion of the test. It isn't required that he pass that particular test to pass the Government class at all."

"So what you're saying is that he passed all of the tests but scored lower on that one test?" asked his mother.

"That's exactly what I'm saying," he replied. "Matthew showed us that he not only has a very high IQ but he grasped everything we asked him to read and study before the tests. He's earned the right to graduate with the class he's a part of at the end of this year."

"That's wonderful," said his mother with a huge smile as she looked at him.

"Now what about those consent forms?" asked his father.

"The consent forms are required for him to graduate so early in his life," said Pete as he gathered the paperwork in front of him. "Signing these forms allows the school to give him the credits for the classes that he was tested on as well as issue him a diploma at the end of the year. In reality you are giving consent for him to graduate this year."

"We've discussed this with Ian and we've decided to let him graduate," said his father. "He's agreed to apply to Whitmore University and stay at home if he is accepted."

"Well then all that's needed are your signatures on these papers," said Pete with a smile. "Congratulations Matthew."

"Thank you, sir," he replied, smiling back at him.

He'd done it. He would graduate at the end of the year and be allowed to go to college the following year. He didn't know what to say or think about it. He wanted to laugh but he didn't think that would be appropriate. He sat there and waited while they singed the paperwork in silence. He couldn't wait to tell Carl and Andy.

"Congratulations, Matthew Keller," said Pete once the forms were signed and handed back to him. "You're are now officially a senior in high school."

"Thank you, sir," he said with a smile.

He didn't see his friends that day because his parents took him to a restaurant to celebrate. Alex was still in school so it was just the three of them. His mother kept telling him how proud of him she was and all he could do was smile from ear to ear. He'd done it. He hadn't believed that he would actually pass the tests but he'd passed them and now he was going to graduate at the end of the year. He couldn't wait.

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