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 Ten:

"Welcome home, Matthew," Evan said when he and Jory arrived. "I'm so happy that you're finally home."

"Thank you," replied Ian. "I'm glad that you and Jory could come for dinner today."

"So are we," he said, smiling. "Your mother tells me that you're going to graduate this year."

"Yes," Ian said, smiling back. "I'm excited about that."

"I'm sure you are," he replied. "Will you be taking any college courses next year?"

"I'm going to apply to the university," Ian explained. "That way I can stay home and go to school."

"Sounds like you've got it all planned out," Evan said.

"Evan," said his father as he came into the dining room. "I thought I heard your voice. Happy Thanksgiving."

"Happy Thanksgiving to you, Daryl," said Evan, smiling from ear to ear. He put his hand on Jory's arm. "This is Jory."

"Nice to meet you, Jory," said his father, shaking Jory's hand. "I'm glad you could come."

"Thank you for having me," replied the brown-haired man.

Ian saw Alex standing in the doorway to the living room glaring at them. He wanted so badly to say something to him but he didn't want to spoil the day. He just hoped that Alex didn't spoil it himself. He was afraid that he would start spouting something evil any moment.

"Well come in to the living room and have a seat," said his father. "Ian, are you coming along?"

"Yes, sir," replied Ian, smiling at him.

"I'm going to go upstairs and read for a while," Alex said, brushing past their father and rushing up the stairs.

They each pretended to ignore Alex's rudeness and filed into the living room and took seats around the room. Evan and Jory sat beside each other on the couch while his father took the recliner. Ian sat on the other side of Evan on the couch. He couldn't get over how attractive his uncle was. His boyfriend was attractive as well, but Evan was gorgeous. His dark hair was cut short and parted to the left, and his honey-colored eyes were amazing. His smile made Ian feel funny in his stomach. Evan was even more attractive than Sebastian Landry and Ian hadn't thought that was even possible.

"I'm a little confused," said Evan once they were all seated. "Daryl, did you call him Ian?"

"That's the name he's used to," explained his father. "He doesn't always know that you're talking to him when you call him Matthew so we decided to make things easier for him."

"I see," he said, turning to look at Ian. "I've seen you next door to my house quite a bit with Andy Morlin."

"Yes," said Ian. "He's a friend of mine from school."

"Andy's a good guy," Evan said. "He's always polite and helps us with the yard when we're too busy with classes and work."

"He's been very nice to me," Ian said for lack of anything else to say.

"How are the other kids at school treating you?" he asked.

"Oh I've got a lot of friends at school," he said.

"That's good," said Evan. "I was worried that you'd have trouble making friends."

"So was I," he replied. "I was shocked when Andy introduced me to his friends that first day and they all accepted me as another friend on the spot. They're all older than I am so I really didn't expect them to like me."

"But they really seem to," said his father. "There's a steady stream of them through the house at any given time. One boy, Carl Potter, helped him study for the tests he had to take to let him graduate this year."

"Carl Potter," said Evan softly. "He's on the football team right?"

"Yeah," said Ian. "He and Sebastian both."

"Sebastian Landry?" asked Evan.

"Yes," Ian said, smiling in spite of his hope that he wouldn't make a fool out of himself talking about Sebastian.

"I know Sebastian's brother, Dalton," said Evan. "He used to come around and hang out with our cousin Pete when they were younger. I guess he still hangs out with Pete from time to time. You know Pete, I'm sure. He's one of the guidance counsellors at Bryarwood High."

"Pete is the one who made it possible for me to take the tests to begin with," said Ian. "He's a nice guy."

There conversation stopped there because his mother called them to the table to eat. She stood at the bottom of the stairs and called to Alex, but Ian wasn't so sure that he would come down. He remembered his father telling Alex that he would be civil to their uncle or he would stay in his room. Perhaps he'd decided to just stay in his room. Alex came down and took his place at the table beside Ian though.

Conversation was easy enough as the food was being passed around the table. Ian watched as his father carved the turkey and everyone passed their plate to him, telling him their preference for white or dark meat. Then they were talking about Evan's job and Ian paid close attention.

"I've accepted the assistant manager's position at Shop 'N Save," he said. "It isn't more hours but it's a lot more money. Jory and I were in need of it at the time."

"I've just started working at The Closet in the mall," Jory said. "I like the job more than I thought I would."

"That's great," said their mother as Alex snorted. "Problem, Alex?"

"No, ma'am," he replied and went back to staring at his plate. Ian noticed that their father was eyeing him though.

"We've just been able to make sure that there is enough money in Ian's college fund to cover the cost of Whitmore," said their father. "We're hoping he'll be accepted there next fall."

"Jory and I are both taking classes there," said Evan. "Hopefully you'll get accepted. If you do and you ever need help, just find one of us."

"Thank you," Ian said as Alex snorted again. Everyone looked at him but he didn't raise his gaze from his plate.

Conversation got slower after that until it stopped entirely while everyone ate. Ian noticed that his father continued to look at Alex hard from time to time, but Alex wasn't saying anything to anyone. He wasn't eating much either. He just kept moving food around on his plate with his fork.

As soon as everyone's plate was cleared but Alex's, their mother brought in the deserts. Ian and Jory both offered to help her, but she declined the help and told them to relax. Ian noticed that Alex was now glaring at him, but he did his best to ignore his brother.

Over desert Evan told them about a program he applied to be a volunteer for. It was called The Bryarwood Youth Assistance program and if he was accepted into the program he'd be assigned a young boy to mentor. Ian listened as his parents asked questions about the program and noticed that Alex's glare had switched targets. He was now openly glaring at their uncle.

"They're going to let you mentor a young boy even though you're gay?" Alex said. His mother gasped and his father looked at him with murder in his eyes.

"Well," said Evan, clearing his throat. "The program is for gay and lesbian teens. It was set up so that they would have someone to talk to about their lifestyle."

"Great," Alex spat.

"That's quite enough, Alex," said their father in a no-nonsense tone.

"I think it sounds like a great program," said his mother, looking at Alex out of the corner of her eye. "When will you know if you've been accepted?"

"They've told me that the list of accepted candidates will be posted on their bulletin board just next week," he replied. "I spend an hour at their offices every day as part of my psych work study requirement, so I'll see it when they post it."

After desert Evan and their dad settled in the living room to watch the football game. Ian was going to invite Jory to come downstairs and watch a movie but Alex went into the living room. So they followed. They were doing the pre-game show as they all sat down. Ian sat between Evan and Alex and got a glare from his brother for his trouble.

"Game'll start soon," said their father. Evan nodded.

"Surprised guys like you even like to watch sports," Alex said half under his breath. Everyone chose to ignore the remark but he went on. "Probably only like to watch because it's a bunch of guys tackling each other."

"Alexander Michael Keller, shut your mouth or go to your room," snapped their father, glaring at him. "Now I've put up with all I'm going to put up with out of you today. You will show respect or you will stay in your room every time anyone visits this house."

"I can't believe your taking up for fags, Dad," replied Alex boldly. "It wasn't so long ago that you were saying that they were immoral."

"Go to your room and don't come out of it for the rest of the day!" yelled their father.

"Didn't want to sit in a room full of fags and fag lovers anyway," snapped Alex as he stood to leave.

Before anyone could react, their father was out of the recliner and following Alex out of the room. Ian was embarrassed by his brother's hateful remarks and didn't know what to say to Evan and Jory once the two were out of the room. He just stared at the television.

"Jory, I think we should just go home," said Evan suddenly. "Ian, it was great to see you and I hope that we can spend some time together soon. Tell your dad that I'm sorry."

Before Ian could say anything Evan and Jory stood up and left the room. He heard the front door shut seconds later. A few minutes after that a car started and pulled away. Then his father came back downstairs and saw that they were gone and he looked even more upset than he had when he followed Alex out of the room.

"Evan said to tell you he was sorry," Ian said.

"I'm the one who's sorry," said his father as he turned and walked out of the room.

"Ian, what's happened?" asked his mother as she came into the living room a few minutes later. "Where are Evan and Jory?"

"They left," he replied. "Evan said to say he was sorry. Alex said some mean things and Dad made him go upstairs. Then Evan and Jory left."

"I'll wait a little bit and then call your uncle," she said, wiping her hands on her apron. "Right now I'm going to go upstairs and have a talk with your dad and brother."

Ian went downstairs to watch a movie. He was angry at his brother and worried about what his father was saying to him at the same time. He just didn't understand why Alex hated gay people so much. It did nothing but solidify the thought that he and Alex would never even be friends much less close.

Later he went upstairs for a turkey sandwich and some chips. His father was in the living room watching the game when he checked. His mother was still in the kitchen putting together Tupperware containers of food. She told him that she would take them over to Evan and Jory after she'd had a bite to eat.

As he sat at the small kitchen table his father came into the kitchen to make his own snack. He smiled so Ian thought he must be in a better mood and smiled back. He expected him to return to the living room with his snack but instead the man sat at the table across from him. Ian wondered if they were going to have a talk about what had happened earlier when Evan and Jory were there.

"Did you get enough to eat?" his father asked him as he sat down.

"Yes, sir," he replied with a smile. "The food was very good."

"I'm glad you liked it," said his father. "Things didn't go the way we'd planned."

"I'm sorry," he said for lack of anything better to say to that.

"I'm sorry that your first Thanksgiving at home with us was ruined, Ian," his father said. "I had hoped that the day would have been a good one for you."

"It wasn't completely bad for me," replied Ian. "I enjoyed the company and the food was good."

"Well we're going to try to make Christmas better than today was," he said. "First we need to know what you would like for Christmas."

"Oh," he replied, stunned. No one had ever asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He'd never gotten presents before. "I don't know what I want for Christmas."

"Is there a specific movie or anything like that?" his father asked.

"Movies would be fine," he replied with relief. "Thank you."

"Well we'll probably get you more than just a movie or two," his father said with a smile. "You think about it for a few days and then let me know if there's anything else you'd like, ok?"

"Sure," he replied, smiling back.

"You are such a remarkable boy, Ian," his father said. "I can't tell you how proud we are of you. You've managed to fit in so quickly and easily. We were afraid that you'd have a long and difficult adjustment period. You didn't though. I'm sorry that you and your brother aren't closer. He was so excited when he found out that we'd found you. I don't know what is going on with him. It's as if he's the one going through a difficult adjustment period."

"I don't know Alex well enough to speculate," replied Ian.

"Of course not," agreed his father, nodding. "I was trying to apologize for the way he acts toward you."

"You don't have to apologize for Alex," said Ian. "You make me feel very loved and welcome. I think Alex will come around eventually. I don't know how I would feel in his shoes, but I think I would probably be a little jealous."

"There's that maturity again," laughed his father. "Do me a favor. With all that's going on in your life don't forget to be a kid now and then."

"I'll try, sir," he said, making his father laugh harder.

When he was back downstairs and in front of the television in the family room again he thought about all his father had said at the table in the kitchen. He had no idea what Alex's problem was but from what his friends had said about him it seemed like he'd had the problem a lot longer than Ian had been home. He couldn't tell his father that though. He didn't really think his father was asking him if he knew anything anyway.

As for Christmas, Ian was looking forward to it but he hoped that it would go better than Thanksgiving had. He wanted Evan and Jory there. He just hoped that his father could rein Alex in by then. He didn't want them to be upset again. He supposed that since they lived next door to Andy he could visit them when he was over there. Maybe he could convince them to come for Christmas. They could sit downstairs in the family room. Alex wasn't allowed in the family room anyway.

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