If you are offended by male/male relationships, or male/male sexual relationships, then you shouldn't be here in the first place. If this conduct is illegal in your area, you must EXIT NOW. This story is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without permission from the author. If you are interested in a story about gay teenage males, then please take your time and enjoy. Feedback/comments/suggestions and even complaints are welcome at DomLuka@aol.com

The day I told my mom that I was gay, was probably one of the hardest in my life. I ran every scenario I could think of in my head. I imagined my mom... disappointed in me. I also imagined that she might be angry with me, even if it was something that I couldn't change about myself. I imagined that she'd look at me and see something... disgusting, see someone who wasn't her son. Of course, I really shouldn't have worried with my mom, and she proved that to me.

After she died, the fact that I'd not only been left alone, but left alone as a sixteen year old gay boy wasn't exactly a concern for me. But, that could have been because I wasn't really left alone with my secret. I'd moved in with my grandmother, who knew what I was and had no complaints about it. And the truth was, she'd always been supportive of it.

Moving away from home... that had been a lot more frightening than I'd ever been willing to admit. I think those first few days I was here, I masked most of that fear with all of the anger I was feeling. All that time, I was letting everyone know that I wasn't happy about being there, blaming Eddie, hating him for making me move there, hating him for existing... hell, I chose to see him as nothing more than a deadbeat dad and I liked hating him, because that made him the one with a problem. I was above him. And all of that anger towards him, it had been a way to mask the fear I felt, the fear of wondering what would happen if he ever found out about me.

I guess you could say, it was all about first impressions. I wanted to be the better person when it came to meeting the father I never knew. Notice, I didn't say the bigger person. I wanted to be better than him, and, it wasn't difficult to feel that way, when I thought he really was the ass who ran out on my mom. But, when I discovered the truth, that Eddie really was a nice guy, that he actually could have been a good father.... I felt like shit. Not only had a treated him badly, but I wasn't even worth his time as his son. I turned out gay, and I'd truly believed, that if Eddie knew that, he'd see me as worthless as I saw him a few days ago. If I was going to be completely honest, that type of rejection was frightening in itself.

But now... well, now I was waiting to wake up. I felt like I was having a dream. A really weird dream where I was sitting in a tiny deli with Aaron Keslin, gripping a package from my deceased mother and listening to the first boy I'd ever kissed tell me that my biological father was as gay as I was, and to quote Aaron, I lived in the house of queers.





All of them.

Weird. Definitely weird. Unless Aaron was making it up.... I'm not sure I'd put it past him to make it up... but the way he was looking at me like I was the one who was crazy, would suggest otherwise.

"Rory?" he said after a few minutes of me just staring at him. "You... did know that, right?" even as he asked it, I could hear in his voice that he already knew the answer. "I mean, you'd have to know..."

I abruptly stood up, and Aaron stood with me, watching as I held the package to my chest.

"Can you take me back home?" I asked.

"Sure... but, I thought you wanted to go meet Eddie..."

"I need to go back to the house." I said. Why did I need to go back to the house? Actually, I had no idea whatsoever. But, I knew that I couldn't go to Eddie's office. There was no way I could go talk to him at the moment. At least, there was no way I could talk to him rationally. I think the only reason why I felt as calm as I did was because of the shock and confusion I was experiencing. It was all slowly sinking in. So, while I was still thinking rationally, I decided that I should warn myself that there was no telling how long it would last. "Can you please take me back to the house, Aaron?"

"If that's what you want," he shrugged, "let me just finish my lunch..."

"There's no time to finish your lunch!" I suddenly snapped, making him jump and causing a few people look in our direction. "I have to go home! Everyone's gay, and if you're hungry I'll find something to feed you when we get there. Just hurry up."

Aaron regarded me with a bemused expression as I turned and walked out of the restaurant, not bothering to wait for him. I didn't have time to wait for him. I wasn't sure why I was in a hurry, or what I was in a hurry to do at this point, but I felt the need to move fast... or to just do something. Sitting there wasn't exactly appealing to me at the moment. Fortunately, Aaron, who was looking even more confused, and possibly a little worried now, didn't argue. He was back in the car with me a few minutes later and driving back towards the house as I continued to stare blankly down at the package.

I think I was overwhelmed with everything that had happened today. I also thought that I had a right to be. There was Aaron... the package... and now this. Gay. Everyone was gay. Seriously? Well, what the fuck? I mean, just... Damn it. I couldn't think straight. There were too many thoughts, all coming together. Like Luke, someone like him, not having a girlfriend should have been my first clue. Eddie and Jase... well, what the hell type of grown men, with no apparent mommy complex, successful careers, and I have to admit, good looks- live with their brother? The fact that they didn't even look alike wouldn't have really even made an impression on me before now.

But now... I felt so stupid. Yes, stupid. I felt like I'd been sitting here the whole time while they all just... played me for a fool. I mean, now that I was really thinking about it, it's not like certain things weren't obvious, and you would think that someone who was gay would have picked up on these things. I however, couldn't point out a homosexual from a foot away. So now, I felt like such an idiot, and that made me feel...shit, it pissed me the hell off.

And why shouldn't I be angry about it? It was bad enough that my mother withheld information about my father from me my whole life, now I was discovering that Eddie was withholding information from me too. Even after he knew how crazy it made me the first time he did it. Sure, I hadn't exactly been forthcoming about my own sexuality. But I was the teenager. You'd think I'd have more leniency in a situation like this. But Eddie... well, it sure would have been helpful to know that I was living in a house, as Aaron put it, full of queers.

And my grandma! I bet Alice knew about this. Nasty old woman. That's probably why she kept pushing me to tell Eddie that I was gay. But, why the hell couldn't she have just told me the truth about it from the beginning? Shit. I needed to stop asking questions like that. It was obvious that every adult around me had a knack for lying to me... and even Luke. I think more than anything, I was disappointed that Luke didn't tell me. But, I couldn't fault him as much as Eddie. Luke was supposed to be my friend, yes, and he could have told me, yes... but I knew that I could have just as easily told him the truth about me. Eddie, I saw differently, though. He was the adult. He should have told me.

Damn. This was all so... so much. I was beginning to feel like my head would explode if I found out that one more thing had been kept from me. On one hand I wanted to call up Eddie, or Jase, or Luke... it didn't matter. I just wanted to yell at one of them, letting them know that I knew. But, at the same time I felt like they should be telling me the truth. Especially Eddie. I wanted to hear it from him. I wanted him to fess up.

"They're gay?" I finally blurted, interrupting the silence and feeling exasperated, and Aaron looked over at me.

"You seriously didn't know?"

"No! But you know what? I'm getting used to not knowing! Seriously, does everyone around here make a habit out of withholding important information?"

"How could you not have known?" Aaron replied skeptically. "It's not like any of them really keep it a secret. Luke, especially. He came out at school a few months before it ended. He really didn't tell you?"

"No," I frowned, "and Eddie and Jase... shit, they told me they were brothers." I shook my head in disgust, but Aaron started laughing. It wasn't very helpful.

"Brothers? And you believed them?" he asked incredulously, with a look on his face that said he obviously didn't believe something that I was saying.

"I don't know." I glared at Aaron. "I just met them! What the hell was I supposed to think?"

Aaron's smile faded as he realized that I didn't think this situation was funny, and he let out a breath, obviously having no idea what to say as we fell into another silence. It was probably a good thing, that we hadn't made it very far into town before Aaron pulled over, because all I wanted to do was to get back to the house, and when we got there, I was out of the car before he even brought it to a stop.

"Rory!" Aaron called after me as he rushed to catch up, but I didn't slow down as I held onto the package and moved into the house. I went right to the living room and stopped in front of all of the pictures that I'd seen on my first day there. The sound of Chey, disgruntledly barking was the only thing that told me Aaron had followed me in. But, I didn't have enough of an attention span to pay attention to that at the moment as I tried to take note of every single picture.

No gay clues here.

There was the one picture of Eddie and Jase together, but just by looking at it you couldn't tell that they were anything more than friends, although now, I really was looking at it a little differently, and the idea of the two of them together was... weird.

"Rory," Aaron's voice came again, and this time I looked back to see Chey had him cornered, and he was beginning to look a little worried.

"Chey!" I called, somewhat impatiently, and the dog stopped barking to follow me to the kitchen, where I let her out the sliding glass door before I turned to face Aaron, who was watching me curiously.

"What are you doing?" he asked me.

"I don't know." I admitted. I passed by him, dropping the package on the kitchen counter before I left the room and headed for the stairs. Aaron followed me, but his presence was only slightly noticed as I moved up the stairs two at a time until I came to the hall and paused, trying to remember where Eddie said that his and Jase's individual rooms were.

Yes, I planned to snoop. Maybe I believed Aaron already, and the fact that my biological father was gay was starting to sink in, but in this situation I felt like I needed... proof. It was one of those needing to see it, to believe it issues. I just needed to know for sure. So I chose Jase's room first. I let the door swing open, and then I stood there for a moment before entering cautiously.

"What are you doing?" Aaron asked again, from right behind me now.

"This is Jase's room." I said, more to myself than to him as I looked around at the perfectly made bed, the dresser, the clear night stand with the phone and the fake plant, a few tacky wall hangings and an otherwise bare room.

"Okay," Aaron replied slowly as I moved into the room and looked around for a moment before I slowly moved to the dresser first and pulled the first drawer open. I must have stared at it for a full minute before I let it sink in that it was completely empty, and after that I lost some control as I began to tear open every dresser in the room. Empty. Empty. Empty.

"Hey... Rory!" Aaron placed a hand on my shoulder, but I shook him off and moved to the closet, pulling it open too. Empty, unless you count the old vacuum cleaner.

"He said this was Jase's room." I mumbled, as I passed Aaron again and went across the hall to open the door to Eddie's room.

I paused in the doorway and looked around, this time seeing something that actually looked like a bedroom that someone lived in. The bed was made, but it looked like whoever made it was in a hurry. The floor was clean and vacuumed, except for a sock that had fallen out of the clothes hamper- the first place I went. I lifted a red shirt right out of the dirty clothes and suddenly turned to face Luke as I held it up.

"This is Jase's shirt!" I announced. "He was wearing it yesterday. This is what he put on when we got home from the water park."

"So?" Aaron raised an eyebrow at me.

"So, they're sharing a room!" I said incredulously as I dropped the shirt and moved over to the closet to open it.

"Look," Aaron frowned at me, becoming more apparently uncomfortable as I opened the closet and looked in to confirm that both Jase and Eddie's wardrobes were in it. "Maybe we should get out of here, Rory. What are you doing, anyways?"

I just shook my head and left the closet before passing by Aaron again, this time to move over to the night stand where I pulled another drawer open. I really had no idea what I was looking for. The fact that Jase and Eddie obviously shared a room, should have had me picking up the phone, dialing Eddie... or even Jase, if I still couldn't reach Eddie, and demanding an explanation. But, I couldn't do that yet. I still felt like I was missing something, even with all the evidence that I wasn't living with brothers, directly in front of me. I really had no idea what I was looking for in that room- a bedroom I knew I had no business being in, in the first place. But, whatever it was that I was looking for, I was pretty sure that I found it when I opened the night stand drawer and lifted out the five by seven framed photograph that probably had a place right there on the night stand, next to the alarm clock... before I came into the picture.

I stared at the photograph of Eddie and Jase. It was one of those corny looking photographs, those self portraits where one person holds up the camera at arms length. In this case, it was Eddie taking the picture because Jase had his arms around him, and he was kissing Eddie's cheek... Eddie was smiling... I guess, the image took me off guard. They looked happy together... more importantly, they looked completely comfortable with each other. I'd never really seen anything like it. They made the fact that they were two men together look, natural. But, the image, as fascinating as I found it, was entirely disturbing as well. I'd developed a certain image of who Eddie and Jase were in my mind. This was not that image. Now, I wasn't really sure what to think of it as I stared hard at the picture, almost afraid to blink because I was still taking it in, as I slowly sat down on the bed and wondered how the hell I could have missed this. I hardly even noticed when the mattress dipped as Aaron sat beside me, although, I was aware that we were so close that our shoulders were touching as he leaned over to look at the picture I was holding.

"You really had no idea?" Aaron asked, but there was no longer any amusement or teasing in his voice.

"They didn't exactly go around advertising it," I replied defensively. I couldn't help it. I felt like I needed to defend myself for being so blind to my own surroundings.

"So... I take it they don't know about you, either." Aaron said after a moment, obviously not discouraged by my agitated tone.

"No," I admitted. "But like I said, I just met them... I can't believe he didn't tell me." I shook my head, feeling oddly disturbed that Eddie would hide his entire lifestyle from me... and not just Eddie, all of them. I mean, they'd hidden their lives from me, especially Jase and Eddie. They were a couple, as good as married, according to Aaron. And yet, they were hiding it. I suppose if I was thinking rationally, I would consider that maybe they withheld the truth because of the same reasons I had. Only, Jase and Eddie had done more than withhold the truth from me, they'd buried it, and it was difficult for me to understand why, which was probably the reason for some of my anger.

"But... it's not really a bad thing, right?" Aaron asked.

"Huh?" I frowned. How was this not bad?

"You know, I mean... you know now. You can tell them about you and not have to worry about it. It's probably better this way, right?"

"Better?" I repeated. "How is it better? It seems like everyone around me has lost the ability to tell the truth... and that's probably giving them too much credit considering that it seems like no one knew how to tell the truth in the first place. Not even my mom... she never even told me who my father was! She didn't even tell me that she was looking for him when she was dying. I found out about a month afterwards... and then I find out that he didn't even know about me! And Eddie knew that I couldn't take any more secrets and he still didn't tell me about this!"

"Wait," Aaron frowned. "Look, I know you're upset... but I have no idea what you're talking about."

I frowned at Aaron, feeling entirely inconvenienced that I was trying to vent on him and he really did have no idea what I was talking about.

"Eddie's my father," I explained shortly. "I only just met him when I came here. I didn't even know he existed until after my mom died, and apparently he didn't know about me either... and he should have told me... he knew I couldn't take anymore..."

"Eddie's you're dad?" Aaron asked, looking at me almost as if he thought I was speaking a foreign language.

"Yes, and apparently I inherited more from him than I thought," I shook my head, "maybe it really is genetic."

"But you said that Luke's your cousin." Aaron replied, still looking confused, and his comment made me stop and think.

Was Luke my cousin? Well, how the hell should I know at this point?

"Why don't you tell me?" I responded bitterly. "Obviously, you know more about it than I do. Is Luke my cousin? Hell, does it even matter? I'm sure he could be my grandpa at this point and no one would bother to tell me about it!"

"If Eddie's your dad then Luke's not your cousin,"Aaron replied calmly, obviously choosing to ignore my outburst. "Luke and Jase are cousin's, Eddie's not related to them... at least, I'd hope not... Hey, I bet you're relieved about that at least." he smiled.

"Huh?" what was there to be relieved about? Why was Aaron so calm?

"That Luke's not your cousin." Aaron smirked. "I mean, you know he's hot. I bet you feel a little relieved that you're not related. Seriously, if I lived under the same roof as Luke, every night I'd be...."

"Aaron! Just... don't." I cut him off, annoyed that he'd bring up something like that at a time like this. "You know what?" I shook my head, standing up and dropping the picture of Eddie and Jase on the night stand before I headed for the door. "You need to go. I have too much shit to deal with right now."

"Rory," he called, following me, "hold on, alright? Will you just calm down? I don't see what the big deal is."

"Of course you don't!" I suddenly turned on him in the hallway. "Just like you didn't see what the big deal was when you let Luke take the blame for stealing that car!" I was full of frustration that I needed to get out, and unfortunately for Aaron, he was the only one there who I could take it out on. But unfortunately for me, he wasn't having it.

"Hey, if you want to bring that shit up, fine." he retorted. "But we're not talking about me right now, we're talking about you. I really don't see what the big deal is, Rory. So they didn't tell you, I get that... actually, I don't get that. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but that's not the point. You know the truth now, so why let it get to you? I mean, it's not like you were in a hurry to tell them about you, was it?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" I argued. "Eddie should have told me! According to you they don't keep things a secret, but they've been hiding it from me since day one! How the hell am I supposed to react?"

"You could consider yourself lucky," Aaron replied after a moment, some of the edge leaving his voice. "Look, I don't really know what's going on here, Rory. But, if Eddie's your dad, then... you should consider yourself lucky. At least you can tell him you're gay now and not have to worry about whether or not he'll accept you. I could never do that with my parents."

"It's not the point, Aaron." I stated.

"Well, maybe it should be." he shrugged. "Maybe they had a reason for not telling you... and whether or not they did, you have to admit that this is a good thing."

A good thing? A good thing? How the hell was this a good thing? Okay, I admit it. If Eddie was gay, it really did relieve me of a lot of the fears I had regarding how Eddie would react if he ever found out about me. But, to me, that really wasn't the point. I couldn't look at this incident and see the good in it because I was too busy looking at the bigger picture, and that was, people didn't see the point in being honest with me. I didn't even want to hear their excuses, either. I didn't think I could take it if someone said it was for my own good, which I'm sure was the popular excuse.

"You don't understand," I said to Aaron, and then continued down the hall, with him following again. "You wouldn't understand... and you shouldn't be here. I left that message for Eddie and he could be home any minute. He's not Luke, but I assume he's not a fan of yours either, so you should probably go."

"I thought Eddie was in court. There's no telling when he'll be back here,"Aaron replied as we reached the bottom of the stairs, and I found myself turning on him again.

"Look, you still have to go. If you haven't noticed, I'm dealing with a little crisis here, and no offense, but I hate that you're trying to be the voice of reason. Just leave, Aaron."

I turned to head for the kitchen, where I'd left the package. I don't know why I expected Aaron to respect my wishes and just get out, but either way, it took me by surprise when he suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

"Get off!" I demanded as I spun around and pulled my arm away from him at the same time. He didn't hurt me, but the action had definitely taken me by surprise and I found myself getting defensive again.

"Will you just stop acting like a little bitch?" he shouted at me, and both his words and his voice made me jump. He had that aggressive edge there again, and it was one I found incredibly intimidating, and just like at the park, I suddenly felt like Aaron was towering over me, and I think I actually cowered. "I'm not fucking going anywhere until you talk to me! I'm sorry you weren't smart enough to figure out that you're dad's fucking around with another man, but stop fucking taking it out on me!"

"You..." I started in a tone just as aggressive as his, but before I could say anything he cut me off.

"You've been treating me like shit since I got here. I came over here to talk to you, Rory. I did that because I like you and I thought we could try to start over, not to be your chauffeur, or to let you turn me into your whipping boy. If you have a problem with Eddie or Luke, or Jase, take it out on them, not me."

"I plan on it!" I said defiantly, mostly because it was the only thing I could think of. I hadn't counted on Aaron confronting me over my behavior. "And I do have a problem with you. I don't want you here. I never asked you to come over, anyways. Just get out and stay the hell away from me!"

Aaron took a step back, looking obviously upset at that, but he at least tried to keep a straight face.

"You really want me to stay away from you?" he asked flatly.

"Yes." I said, although the word didn't exactly sound right coming out of my mouth. I knew I said exactly what I was supposed to say, but suddenly there was another knot in my stomach as my new dilemma involving my house mates floated to the back of my mind and I remembered running into Aaron yesterday, being kissed for the first time, thinking about it, and all the things that I wanted to ask him... and the fact that he'd just admitted that he liked me... and the fact that before I found out what he did to Luke I'd been developing my own feelings for him. Yes, I knew that it would be best if he just stayed away from me. But, no, I don't think I wanted him to. Not really. "You shouldn't have come over here. It's too complicated with Luke, and..."

"That's not what I asked." Aaron frowned, and I let out a long breath.

"Please, just leave now." I stated. No matter what, I really did need him to go. There was something I had to do, and I had to do it alone... and I needed to think. I needed to think and I needed to be angry. I wanted to be angry right now, it was the only thing keeping me from going crazy with all of the mixed emotions I was feeling. Aaron, being the voice of reason and pointing out the good things about this situation, just wasn't something that I needed.

"Fine," he replied coldly as he turned towards the front door and stormed away from me without another word. He didn't even look back. I guess, despite my mixed feelings, I was pretty sure that Aaron wouldn't be showing up again anytime soon... maybe that was for the best. I just wished that I didn't feel so bad about the way he left... and the way I'd been treating him for the last hour or so. But, I didn't take the time to dwell on it. I couldn't. There were too many other things I needed to focus on.

When I reached the kitchen, I went straight for the package again, but this time when I got to it, I didn't hesitate to lift up the closest knife. I cut along the tape edges carefully, but quickly, and soon, I was opening the box up one handedly as I carried it to the kitchen table and sat down.

I paused for a moment, not because I felt bad about opening it without Eddie, there was no way I was going to feel guilty about that now, but I paused as I thought about my mother again. I thought about the questions I had, about why she never told me about Eddie-or Eddie about me, and with this new information, which I was still trying to digest-Eddie being gay-my mind began to speculate all sorts of things, but mainly, I wondered if she kept it a secret because Eddie was gay. That alone was hard enough for me to understand. When I came out to my mother, she'd been nothing but understanding. She never once treated me differently, she never once showed disappointment... but now I thought, maybe that was a lie too. Maybe finding out that her son was gay hurt her, and she just hid it because she didn't want to hurt me. If that was the case, I wasn't sure that I could take it. I could go the rest of my life, regretting that I ever told my mother that I was gay, something I thought I'd never do. The idea that I'd hurt her, that I'd disappointed her before she died, was unbearable for me.

I wanted the answers to my questions, but at the same time, I was terrified of them. I needed to know regardless, though. I stared at the opened box on the table in front of me, and I wondered if any of those answers were inside of it. I guess it was time to stop wondering. I let out a breath, and for some reason, I felt sad as I started to unload the individual items, placing them on the table in front of me. I felt sad, and nervous, so nervous in fact, that I noticed my hands shaking as I sorted through this box from my mother.

I looked at each item carefully as I placed them down on the table. There were four items total. A sealed brown, unmarked envelope. Two letter sized white envelopes, which I prevented myself from tearing open right away as I placed on the table. They both had my mother's handwriting on the front, one addressed to me, and the other to Eddie. And then there was the last item. It was the size of a shoe box, wrapped in shiny red paper, and on the top it read: Happy seventeenth, Rory. Just this once, you have permission to open it early. Love, mom.

A birthday present? But, my birthday was months away. I never in a million years thought I'd see another gift from my mother. I can't even begin to explain how incredibly devastating that thought was. This would be the last one.

I moved my hand over the letters written there on the wrapping paper, written in permanent black ink, and it was as if suddenly as if all of the stress I was feeling caught up to, and the next thing I knew, I was breaking down. There were tears. There were those horrible choking sobs as I tried to hold them back. Then, there was acceptance that it was going to happen, and I let myself cry. I probably looked like a fool, sitting there at the kitchen table as I choked back sobs without any control over my emotions whatsoever, but I think it was one of those times that I really needed it. I allowed myself to feel my mother's absence... and my disappointment over the fact that no one seemed to trust me enough to tell me the truth. I just let myself feel it, and when it was over, I was silent as I placed the early birthday present aside and reached for the white envelope with my name on it.

I did take my time opening the letter, but I think it had something to do with the fact that in a weird way, I didn't want to damage anything with my mother's handwriting on it. That, and I needed my vision to clear as the last of my tears ran down my face. But when it was open, and I unfolded the letter to hold it in front of me, I could see the words written there perfectly clearly, and I felt frighteningly calm as I started to read them.

Dear Rory,

Every day, for the last sixteen years, I've watched you grow up. I suppose it doesn't matter how much time I have left, a day, or a hundred years, it would never be enough time to tell you just how proud I am of you. But, I want you to know that. I am so proud of you.

I know what you're probably thinking. I'm sure that if I was right there next to you, you'd be groaning about how morbid you think this note is, which is why you're reading it now, and not five minutes after I finish writing it... I'm sorry I'm not sitting there beside you, Rory. I can't know how you feel about that, but I do hope you're alright. I hope you're happy.

Wow, this is harder to write than I thought it would be. I guess you're right, it is a little morbid, isn't it? I feel like I could write this forever because of all the things I want to say to you, but I suppose no one has forever, and there are things you need to know. I think I'll start with something easy. I know it's early, but I wanted to make sure I got you a birthday present for when you turn seventeen. It's not something I bought in a store, it's not even something new, but I know that you probably have questions Rory. Maybe you'll always have questions about me. I'm so sorry that what I left with you is the only way you'll ever get answers to any of them. I hope it's enough.

Now for the hard part. If you're grandmother did anything I asked, you should be reading this just after the funeral. I'm sorry to use that word. It seems so strange, knowing that by the time you do read this I won't be there anymore. I don't want you to be sad for me. From the moment you were born, all I've ever wanted was for you to be happy. I hope it doesn't make me a neglectful parent that I never sat down and mapped out what dreams I had for you, or what kind of man I wanted you to grow up to be. I wanted you to have your own dreams, I wanted to watch you grow up, into whoever it is that you will be... that was my dream. If there's one thing that I regret, it's that I won't be there for all of that, but I wouldn't trade in the time we did have together for anything in the world. You are my greatest achievement, and there is nothing or no one that I love as much as you.

I know it's a little soon. Right about now you're probably wondering what's going to happen to you. You're not alone, Rory. I don't want you to be afraid. I've spoken to your grandmother. She'll be staying with you until you're able to get things at home packed up, and then, for the time being you'll be moving in with her. You'll still be able to attend your school, so you won't have to worry about changing that for right now. But, there's something I have to ask you to do, and I hope that after I explain it, you'll understand.

When I was your age, actually, a little younger than you, I had a best friend named Edward Soarda. We all called him Eddie. He was one of the kindest people I'd ever had the privilege of knowing, and every day that I've spent with you I've thought of him. He's your father, Rory.

I know that we never really talked about this. I also know that you were curious, and maybe I should have told you sooner, but when you never pushed me for information about your father I always thought that it would be best not to bring it up. But now, I feel that it's time for you to know who he is. This isn't easy for me, and I didn't come to this decision lightly. I hope you understand. The day I found out I was pregnant was the most terrifying of my life. I was still fifteen years old, and while I have never once regretted you, I have come to regret some of my decisions.

When I was fifteen I was convinced that I'd spend the rest of my life with Eddie Soarda. I won't say that I mistook young love for the real thing, because the truth is, even as I write this, I still love Eddie. It was a week before I found out that you were on the way when Eddie told me something about himself that changed everything. Eddie met someone else.

I don't want you to think that he was a bad person, Rory. He was always my best friend, and while he had feelings for someone else, he never cheated on me before he ended our relationship. I admit that back then, I was so angry with him. I was hurt, and when he told me who he had feelings for, I was confused. It was a boy named Josh Kemlar.

You once asked me how it was that I could sit there calmly while you told me that you were gay, and then without even having to think about it, tell you that I love you and nothing has changed. I guess the reason that I was able to do that had something to do with having practice with it, although, I'm sorry to say that the first time I got that speech I didn't take it as well. I want you to know that I never held it against Eddie that he was gay, and the truth is your grandmother helped me with that. She was the first person I went to when Eddie told me, and after a long talk with her telling me that it wasn't something that he could help, I was able to accept it, and still be his friend, because in the end, Eddie was always my friend.

But then I found out about you. You have no idea how hard it was for me not to run straight to Eddie and tell him that I was pregnant, but I had my reasons for not doing so. If there is one thing you should know about Eddie Soarda, it's that he always had a knack for doing the right thing. At the time, he had told me that he was confused about being gay. He was terrified to let anyone find out, and I knew that when he did tell his parents, they wouldn't exactly be understanding. I suppose you could say that I didn't want to make things harder on him. The truth is, as much as I loved him, I didn't want him to be someone who he wasn't just because he felt obligated to. So, I moved away. I went to live with a friend while I was pregnant with you. At first, I planned to come back and tell Eddie after you were born. I hoped that by then, he would have his own life straightened out and maybe he'd be able to deal with this. Unfortunately, by the time I returned Eddie had moved away, and I made the decision not to tell him. You and I were already adjusting, I was trying to finish school, and I didn't see any reason why Eddie should be involved, I was too afraid that I'd just end up messing up his life. I know now that I never had a right to make that decision for him. It was wrong of me, and for that, I owe you both an apology.

I know it might be a little late to try to make things right, but I can try. That's why I've started to look for your father, Rory. I want you to know who he is. Maybe I can't be there for you now, but I know that if I find Eddie, he will be. I wish that I was brave enough to tell you this in person, and if I find Eddie before I run out of time, I promise I will be, but right now, it doesn't seem that there is enough time. I'm so sorry Rory, and you have every right to be angry with me. I do hope though, that one day you will be able to forgive me.

I know that your father is out there, and when he is found, all that I ask is that you know him. I've asked your grandmother to make arrangements for you to live with him if it's possible. You may not like this idea, but I feel that it's best. Eddie deserves to know what a wonderful boy you are, just as much as you deserve to know where you came from.

I don't want you to feel completely helpless in this situation, so I've made sure that you will always have a place to go with Grandma Alice if things don't work out with Eddie. I do hope you give it a try, though. At least, give it a chance Rory. Knowing you, you won't like this idea at all, but please, try to get to know your father, I'm sure that there is so much you can learn from each other. . . please remember that it is not Eddie's fault that you never had the chance to know him. I'm afraid that I'm the one who has to take the blame for that.

All I can do now is tell you how sorry I am that I've never told you any of this before. I would be lying if I said that some of it wasn't selfish. You're my baby. Everything I've done for the last sixteen years has been for you. I won't say that I haven't made mistakes, I know I've made a few along the way, but there was never a time when I wasn't thinking about you. We were happy, weren't we? I won't say that I never wished that I could have given you more. I wished for that all the time. But, if there was one thing I can say I'm proud of, it's you, and I'd like to think that you were happy. Every day I've watched you, and I believe that I will always be watching you. I hope you can believe that too.

I said before that I've always wanted you to have your own dreams, but I do have a final wish for you. I wish for you to grow up, and be a good man, and you're already on your way there. And like every mother, I want you to fall in love, and build a life that you can look back on one day and say that you've never regretted a moment of it. I understand that after I'm gone, you will question me, and some of the decisions I've made, but please never question the fact that I love you. Your mother has always loved you. Nothing in the world could ever change that. Be proud of who you are, Rory. I am.

With all my love,


Five minutes. Ten minutes. I just stared at the paper in my hands. I read it again. And again. And again. There was so much there. Yes, the bulk of it I already knew, but this was from my mom. Her words, to me. I was touched, and hurt, and confused, and devastated, all at the same time. I think that if I hadn't broken down and cried before I read it, I'd be doing that now. Hell, I almost was.

She had a reason for not telling me about Eddie, or Eddie about me. Fear. She was afraid to tell him. She didn't want to ruin his life. I can't say that I agreed with her reasoning, but maybe... maybe I could understand some of it. Some of the anger and frustration towards my mother was gone, but that was probably because it had a new focus now. Alice. It was obvious, while reading it, that this letter had been meant to be in my hands long before I got it. Why the hell my grandma would keep it from me, was beyond my world of comprehension. My mother said I should have had it after the funeral. I guess I could understand why Alice wouldn't want to give it to me then. To be honest, I wasn't sure that if I had gotten the letter then, it would have had anything but a negative affect on me. I hadn't exactly been in the best place back then. But, I should have at least gotten it when Eddie was found. She should have given it to me then, so I wouldn't have to wonder what was happening, wonder what my mother was thinking. Alice should have known that it would be better to give it to me then. So why wouldn't she? It was just more questions that I didn't have an answer to. Later, I would be asking Alice what she was thinking. I could be sure of that, but at the moment, I didn't even have it in me to call her and ask. I probably wouldn't get anywhere if I did anyway.

After reading the letter from my mom once again, I carefully folded it and placed it back in it's envelope before I reached for the second envelope, the one with Eddie's name on it. I'm sure that his letter said something similar to mine. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the little fact that I was gay was in there. She'd told me about Eddie in her letter, why wouldn't she tell Eddie about me? So I guess... after he read it, he would know. Everything would be out in the open. That's what I wanted, right? So why did that thought bother me?

I placed Eddie's letter aside, curious to know what it said but unwilling tp open it. Even I knew that opening a letter from my mom addressed to him would be going too far, no matter what I suspected what was in it. I picked up the brown envelope next, curious over what was in it. I found out soon enough. It wasn't anything that I found very interesting. It was a folder full of documents. My birth certificate, social security card, and health records. I only flipped through the folder for a moment before I put it back in the envelope, and then I went back to my letter, only sparing a glance at the wrapped box in front of me.

Believe it or not, I was much more interested in reading my letter again than I was in opening that present. The letter, I could read over and over again, and although the words never changed, I admit that I had delusions that the next time I read it, it would be longer. Or maybe, I was missing something and I'd see it if I just read it one more time. I guess that was just wishful thinking on my part, and missing my mom.

After reading the letter again, I felt oddly calm, and incredibly tired. I think everything had finally caught up to me in an exhausting way, because the next thing I knew I was carefully piling everything back into the box and carrying it down to the basement, all of a sudden wanting to crawl into bed. It was strange, feeling that tired in the middle of the day, but all I wanted... was a nap.

I placed the box on the floor next to my bed, I crawled under the blankets without bothering to remove my shoes, and I fell asleep. At least, I think I fell asleep. I might have just laid there with my eyes closed. All I remember is that the events of the day continuously replayed themselves in my head, along with the letter from my mom, which I had practically memorized at this point.

But, it was thoughts of Eddie, Luke, and Jase that had me jolting up in bed about two hours later as reality suddenly hit me. Tonight, everything would be out in the open... especially when Jase and Eddie got home and saw that I'd ransacked the bedrooms upstairs.

I wasn't even sure why I was suddenly jumping out of bed, ignoring my pounding headache and running upstairs to clean my mess up. My mind was telling me to just leave it. They were going to find out what I knew, anyways. But, something else was telling me to clean up the evidence. I think it was the fact that deep down, I still wanted them to tell me the truth. I wanted Eddie to tell me the truth. This was something that had been bothering me since I first heard those words come out of Aaron's mouth. They're gay, Rory. All of them. It had bothered me when I read my mom's letter, too. I didn't want to hear it from Aaron. I didn't even want to hear it from my mom. What I wanted, was to hear it from Eddie. In fact, I told myself that I was going to hear it from Eddie.

I wasn't going to let him know what I knew. I wasn't going to let any of them know. I wanted them to tell me the truth. More specifically, I wanted Eddie to tell me the truth. Sure, it was probably childish. Actually, I was aware that it was pretty damned childish. But in a weird way... I needed him to tell me. I needed him to tell me about this, especially after he kept other things from me, like the fact that he never even knew that I existed. I'd just met him, and if I was going to have any sort of relationship with Eddie at all, I needed him to be honest with me... or at least, I needed him to trust me enough to tell me about the lifestyle he lived. Maybe if he trusted me like that, I could trust him too.

Of course, convincing myself that Eddie would tell me as soon as he got home was easier said than done, considering that I knew it would never happen, not unless I confronted him. But, this was the closest to rational thinking that I could do at the moment: if Eddie told me the truth, then everything would somehow be okay.

Even I knew that I was full of shit with that kind of thinking. But still, that didn't stop me from leaving one, small detail unattended to when I straightened up the bedroom that Eddie and Jase shared. I made sure that everything was right where I'd found it, except for one detail... that picture, the framed picture I'd found in the night stand drawer. I made sure that I'd left that out in plain sight.

It became apparent that I'd woken up from my nap at the perfect time after I headed back downstairs, when I heard the garage opening on the side of the house and froze in my tracks in front of the stairs. I listened to the sound of a car door open, and then the front door to the house, and then...

"Rory? Are you here?" I looked up as Eddie came around the corner to find me looking a lot like a deer trapped in the headlights. I'm sure I had that look, the same one that every teenager gets when they've been up to no good. It didn't help that Eddie was giving me a strange look. But then again, I'm sure that I was regarding him a little oddly too. This was the first time that I'd ever come face to face with my biological estranged, gay, father. "I got your message," Eddie said, "The package is here?"

"Hi Eddie." I responded blankly, and then shook my head, trying to focus. He'd asked me a question. "Um, yeah, it came today."

"Well where is it?" he asked anxiously, but there was a smile on his face.

"I didn't wait to open it." I admitted. I really wished that my voice didn't sound so blank. I couldn't help it, though. I suddenly had no idea how to respond to Eddie, knowing what I knew. I felt like I was meeting him for the first time all over again. It was sad, really. The one thing I didn't want was for people to see me differently if they ever discovered that I was gay. Yet, here I was, seeing Eddie completely differently than I had when he went to work that very morning. I only wished that I knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

"That's okay," Eddie insisted, and for some reason that surprised me. "I got here as soon as I could... so what was in it?"

Uh-oh. Okay, I knew that that particular question would inevitably come up, but I'd really hoped that by then I would know how to answer it. I really wasn't ready to let him know exactly what was in it.

"Rory?" Eddie asked, a little concerned when I didn't say anything.

"I'll go get it." I said, inwardly shaking myself. "Um, I sort of let Chey outside earlier..."

"Okay," Eddie smiled as he started peeling off his jacket and tie, "I'll let her in."

I just nodded and quickly turned down the stairs and headed for my room. When I reached the package, I felt a little panicked as I looked at the items in it. I really had no idea what I should do. I suppose I could give Eddie his letter... but I didn't want him finding out I was gay from a letter, and I didn't want to tell him because I was too busy waiting for him to come to me with the truth.

I lifted my letter, and then Eddie's, and before I could think about it, I shoved both into my pocket after folding them in half, and then I took the remainder of the box back upstairs to where I found Eddie waiting for me in the living room. He was standing up and coming towards me before I even entered the room, and without even thinking about it I handed him the box, which he sat on his lap as he took a seat on the couch, and I found myself taking the farthest seat away from him, which earned me another strange look from him.

"You okay, Rory?"

"Fine." I replied, probably a little too quickly.

"Okay, well, let's see what we've got here."

I watched nervously as he lifted out the brown envelope first, and I said nothing as he opened it up and started going through the documents. I couldn't help but notice the way that he looked a little disappointed as he did so, but when he looked up he was smiling again.

"This was smart thinking on your grandma's part. You might need these. There's a safe in the office, is it okay if I put these in there?"

"Sure." I shrugged.

"Okay," he replied as he began to put all of the papers away, looking into the box at my early birthday present at the same time. "Is this all that was in here?"

"Yeah." I lied, and he frowned at that before he lifted out the wrapped box and studied it for a moment before he looked up at me.

"You haven't opened this yet?" he asked, somewhat disbelieving.

"No," I admitted. "I... I wasn't really ready to."

Eddie looked between me, my birthday present, and the empty box.

"You're disappointed." he said. It was a statement, not at all a question.

"I guess you could say that." I replied honestly, and Eddie studied me for a moment while I avoided his eyes. I looked up when he stood up and crossed the room to take a chair closer to me.

"You know, you could open this." he suggested as he held out the gift, and I leaned away from it as if it were on fire. I really wasn't in a hurry to open it. It was from my mother. The last thing I would ever get from my mother. It was the last thing she'd ever wrap and write my name on, and I wasn't in a hurry to tear it open. "Rory? I know you probably expected more, I mean I... are you sure that this is all there was?" I just silently nodded, my eyes focused on the package. "Well, maybe there are answers in here... do you want to open it?"

"I can't." I frowned. "I'm not... I don't want to open it yet."

For a moment, Eddie looked both frustrated and confused, but it faded quickly and his expression turned into one of understanding.

"Maybe later, then." he replied, studying me closely. "Rory... Alice said that she was sending something from your mom... you've been kind of eager to find out..."

"I'm not ready to open it." I stated, cutting him off, and Eddie looked surprised.

"Alright... you don't have to." he nodded, although I'm sure he wanted to argue with me. He wanted to know what was under that wrapping paper about as much as I had wanted to know what was in the package. "Are you sure you're alright?"

I let out a breath, disliking the awkwardness that I was feeling. Of course I wasn't alright. The problem was, I didn't want to tell him why. I knew that I was being stubborn, but it was as if I couldn't help it. I wanted him to stop bullshitting me and tell me the truth. I wanted to hear from Eddie what I'd already heard twice today. I wanted the truth and I wanted it from him.

"Grandma Alice said there would be something from mom," I said carefully. "What do you think it is?"

"Well, you could open this and find out." Eddie smirked at me as he held up the package again. "Come on, Rory. I know this is probably a little weird for you, but don't you want to find out what's in this?"

I shook my head again, even though I really was curious to know what was in it.

"Alright," Eddie sighed, and this time didn't bother to hide his frustration as he passed the gift over and I was forced to take it. "Why don't you take a little more time, okay? Um... Jase and Luke should be home soon. I can... order something for dinner, and then maybe afterwards..."

"I don't know if I'll be ready to open it then, either." I said flatly.

"Rory, we need to..."

"I just... don't know what my mom would send me," I spoke up. "I mean, it would probably be about you, right? That's probably why Grandma Alice said that it was for both of us."

"Maybe... but if you want to find out, you can just..."

"So if my mom was going to tell me something about you, what do you think it would be?" I asked. There. Maybe now he'd take a hint and just tell me the truth on his own. That's all I wanted at the moment.

"I'm not sure." Eddie replied, although I did notice the way that he shifted slightly in his seat. "Rory... you've been waiting for this to get here... is there a reason why you won't open it?"

Yeah, because I already opened what I was interested in seeing right away.

"I'm kind of tired," I said, suddenly changing the subject, because obviously, he wasn't going to tell me anything. "It's been sort of a long day. Do you think I have time to lay down for a while before dinner?"

"Sure," Eddie frowned, suddenly looking alarmed. "Are you sure you're alright?"

"Fine," I said blankly, as I abruptly stood up with the wrapped box and headed back towards the basement without getting back, "I think I'm just tired of waiting for everyone to be honest with me."

"Rory," Eddie called, and it caused me to turn around and face him as he stood up and regarded me curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Nothing," I shrugged.

"Are you sure?" he asked, looking somewhat guarded.

"I said I'm fine." I replied.

"Okay," he nodded after a moment, but he was still regarding me somewhat suspiciously. "Let's try to talk about this later, okay? I really think you should open that up," he added, looking at the box in my hands as if he wanted to snatch it away from me and open it up himself. "It'll probably make you feel better."

"Maybe," I replied noncommittaly before heading to my room, wondering what the hell I was doing... and when the hell I would get what I wanted.


Even after my afternoon nap, I was able to fall asleep again after I left Eddie in the living room. I was that exhausted. I wasn't at all expecting the sudden weight to drop on my ass when I'd finally reached a peaceful sleep. I groaned aloud as I forced my tired eyes open and turned my head to see that Luke had jumped on me, and was now sitting on me with a goofy smile on his face, wearing nothing but a pair of jogging shorts, and his hair was still wet from his shower.

"Wake up," he laughed at the disgruntled expression on my face. "Dinner's ready. You're still up for going out tonight, right?"

I frowned as I shifted, pushing him off of me and I sat up on my bed, yawning as I looked at Luke... who wasn't my cousin... and somehow, I couldn't bring myself to be in a mood as cheerful as he was. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to be cheerful towards him at all. I definitely woke up grouchy. I suddenly wanted to scream at Luke. I wanted to tell him everything, and demand to know why he'd been lying along with everyone else, but I held my tongue.

"I don't know," I answered him as I got out of bed to stretch. "We'll see."

Luke's smile faded as he stood up and studied me with a concerned look.

"Eddie said the package from your grandma got here... do you want to talk about it?"

"No," I said flatly, as I headed for the door and he followed me, obviously confused by my standoffishness. "What's for dinner?"

"Itallian... you're in a shitty mood, did something happen?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary," I replied. "I'm getting used to everyone lying to me. What kind of Itallian?"

"Hey," Luke said as he suddenly reached out and touched my arm to get me to turn around. He didn't grab me the way that Aaron had earlier, but he definitely wanted my attention. I turned towards him, but I couldn't return his smile. "What do you mean?"

"What kind of food is it... " I responded. "Lasagna, spaghetti...."

"Rory, what happened?" he cut me off, turning serious. "Why won't you talk to me?"

"What's the point?" I replied. "You don't talk to me. In fact, no one does."

Luke frowned, obviously confused.

"Rory, what are you talking about? If something happened you know you can talk to me. Did something happen with what your grandma sent? Did you..."

Luke was abruptly cut off by the sound of a door slamming upstairs. The walls weren't exactly paper thin in this house, so it would have had to have been slammed hard for Luke and I to have heard it from all the way down in the basement. We both looked at each other, a little curiously before Luke turned and began to lead the way upstairs, and I followed him curiously. It was when we reached the main level of the house that my curiosity became concern because I realized that the sound of the door slamming, was accompanied by loud yelling coming from upstairs.

Luke and I paused, listening to the raised voices of both Jase and Eddie. Luke looked worried, while I just felt surprised. Eddie had raised his voice before, when he was frustrated with me, but it had been nothing like this. Even muffled through the house, the voices were coming through loud, clear, and angry.

"It's not a joke, Jase!" Eddie was shouting. "I need more time! Why would you do this?"

"If you don't calm down, I'll walk out of here right now, Eddie," Jase retorted. "I told you, I didn't touch it, and even if I had, you'd be completely out of line. I've given you time! You said it would just be for a few days, Eddie! Rory's been here over two weeks now and you still haven't talked to him. This is getting ridiculous! You should have done it that first night. I can't take this anymore, Luke's getting tired of it too."

"You're tired of it?" Eddie demanded. "So you did this? What if he saw this, Jase? No one was here to explain it to him!"

"I told you, it wasn't me, Eddie. It's just a picture! And no one would have had to be here to explain anything to him if you would have done it in the first place! I swear if I would have known that you'd have us all closeted I never would have agreed to him coming here in the first place!"

I inwardly flinched at those words, coming out of Jase's mouth. I'm not sure what exactly he meant by he wouldn't have agreed to me coming, but what it sounded like to me, was that he didn't want me there. Surprisingly, that thought actually hurt, but I shook it off as I began to realize exactly what Eddie and Jase were fighting about. That picture.

They were fighting because of me.

"He's my son!" Eddie argued.

"No, he's not!" Jase suddenly said. "He's not your son right now, Eddie. He's a confused boy who just lost his mother! He's not your son and he won't be until you start acting like his father! Enough is enough, already! I've been patient, now you talk to him, or Luke and I are out of here until you do!"

Luke suddenly turned and looked at me, the expression on his face alarming to me. It was a mixture of fear, concern, and anger. But, he said nothing before he turned and jogged up the stairs to where the voices were coming from.

When Luke was out of sight, I let out a breath and looked towards the front door. I wondered if it would be easier to risk sitting on a cactus again, instead of sticking around there, where I knew that as soon as everyone came down the stairs... I would have some explaining to do.

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