The Move

Chapter 35

By Doug Smith

I'm not sure what time I fell asleep but I was still tired when I woke up the next morning. Scott was lying half on top of me. I felt funny since I was hard, not because he was against me but because I typically wake up that way. I wish Dan was here. It was fun waking up with him like that, especially since he did too. I'm sure you can imagine how much fun that is. Fortunately Scott wasn't against that part of me and I gently pushed him aside and sat up. He woke up smiling. He was definitely way too cheery the first thing in the morning. He lost that once he remembered about Dan.

I still couldn't believe everything that happened the last couple of days. My conversation with the Michaels came back to me. It bothered me. They really didn't seem that excited about finding me. I also found it so hard to believe. I know Mr. J. wouldn't lie but what if there was a mistake? Either the test they performed years ago was wrong or the tests they performed now were wrong. Mistakes happen.

There was no denying the resemblance and Mrs. Michaels said 'mothers know' but maybe she just saw the resemblance too. One thing for sure, I wasn't going alone to talk to my father. I'm sure Jon would go with me. I also should talk to my aunt. She would know, wouldn't she? I assume she would but why wouldn't she have said something. How could she not know?

What if it is true? The Michaels live in Chicago. I don't want to go there. I wouldn't know anyone and Dan is here. Plus, after last night I'm not sure that's what they would want anyway. They had put things in the past. If I am their son I was never part of their life. They got over that. Plus the only son they knew had died a horrible death. They were putting that behind them and moving on. Why would they want another kid now? It's not like they'd be able to watch me grow up. I'm sixteen and in two years will be going to college. Why would they want me around to remind them of everything?

Both the Johnsons and the Michaels were having coffee when I walked into the kitchen. I smiled but didn't say much. Maybe I should have stayed home but I needed time to think. I wanted some time by myself so I made some excuse about having a test. I'm not sure anyone believed me. Mr. J. said it would be okay if I wanted to stay home. I could make up the work. I insisted on going though. Mr. J. gave me a funny look but said he'd drop me off at school so Jason could use the jeep to visit Dan.

"I'll drop him off," said Jason as he walked into the room. "I'm sure you want to stop by to see Dan on your way to work."

"Actually I'm taking the rest of the week off. We haven't seen Chris and Jackie since we moved here and we want to catch up. We're going out to breakfast as soon as everyone is off to school. Then we're going to the hospital. The doctors will have probably made their rounds by then and we can get more information. You're welcome to join us."

"Thanks but I'll grab something quick and go visit with Dan. I may not be as good company as Josh but he'll be pretty bored, he probably won't notice."

"He'd better," I said before I realized it. Everyone looked at me and laughed causing me to turn red. "That's not what I meant."

"You'd better stop before you dig yourself in any deeper," laughed Jason. "You about ready? Why don't you tell the munch to hurry up and I'll drop him off too."

After having a bowl of cereal Scott hugged his parents good-bye. He also gave the Michaels a hug. It was a little awkward when Mr. And Mrs. J. hugged me. It wasn't awkward because they hugged me. It was awkward because I didn't know if I should hug the Michaels or not. After staring at each other a few seconds Mrs. Michaels put her arms around me.

"It's okay Josh. It'll take time. You have a good day and we'll see you after school."

"Thank you," I said putting my arm lightly on her back. It was definitely awkward.

I showed Jason where Scott's school is and then gave him directions to the high school. He thought he could find the hospital from there.

"Are you okay?" he asked before dropping me off. "It must feel really weird. Two days ago you didn't even know the Michaels and now you find out they're your parents. You're doing better than I would. I don't know how I'd handle it."

"Yeah, well, my life has pretty much sucked the last few years. It's not like I really have a family. Dan's parents have been great but that's only recently. I've had to live with ...I don't even know what to call him ...other than that good for nothing drunk the last eight years."

"I remember him from the day I stopped at your house. I felt bad for you man. No offense but he seemed like a real piece of work."

"Piece of shit is more like it. I'm almost looking forward to seeing him and making sure he knows I think he's an asshole. Then I'll tell him I never want to see him again."

"I'm glad Dan found the balls to finally talk to you. I told him I was giving him a week and then I'd come back to drag his sorry ass to your house. He had it so bad for you. You sure you want to go to school? You could skip and come with me to see him."

"No, I don't want to go but I told the Johnsons I have a test. If I skip now they'd know I was lying. They trust me and I don't want to disappoint them. They've been really good to me. If I can't find a ride can you come get me after school?"

"Of course. Just text me."

Chris, Ryan and Randy were standing by Chris's car when we drove up. They were surprised to see me get out of the jeep. I introduced them to Jason. They wanted to know how Dan was doing and when he could have visitors. Jason said he'd call when he got to the hospital and found out what was going on. I reminded him that we'd be in class so he'd better text.

Jason walked in just as the doctor finished checking my wounds. I didn't like the way he touched me but he was just doing his job. There was nothing sexual but I couldn't help but think of Josh while he was checking certain things. I turned red when he felt around my crotch. He was good and just smiled.

"It's okay," he said. "It looks like you're doing much better than I anticipated. Your face is still a mess but I don't think there will be any lasting scars. Mainly you were hit by the bottom of his shoe and it just caused skin burns. It looks bad now but you'll heal. I don't think that young man who is always kissing you will care however."

I blushed. "He'll be happy that other things work too."

"Alright, knock it off Dan. Josh is at school and I've got the duty to keep you entertained and I don't care or want to know about that working," said Jason.

"What?? I was talking about my arm. Even though he kicked the shit out of Phil I still plan to give him more karate lessons."

"Yeah, right."

"Both will have to wait," smiled the Doctor. "You need to take it easy for a while. I'll be moving you to another room later this morning. You don't need all the attention you get in here."

"Hopefully it's a private room," laughed Jason. "Josh might be getting tired of sleeping with your brother."

The Doctor left saying he'd make arrangements. I told Jason not to make me laugh, it hurts. I did say I'll have to give Josh shit for sleeping with Scott.

"It's not like he'd do anything. You know that."

"I know. Scott thinks of him like a brother. Josh loves him too."

"Besides, it's not like you never slept with his brother."

"That's different asshole. I still can't believe that. How's he doing with it?"

"I think he's worried it will change how you feel."

"That's ridiculous. I told him that. Is he still worried?"

"I don't know. He mentioned it yesterday before you woke up. He's a little overwhelmed. You should have seen him leaving this morning. Your parents gave him a hug and then there was an awkward moment with him and the Michaels staring at each other. Nobody was sure what to do."

"And? How are the Michaels treating him?"

"Mrs. Michaels gave him a hug. He didn't know quite what to do but did hug her back, kind of."

Jason hung around the rest of the morning. We just talked about old friends, what they are doing, how he was and general things two friends talk about to catch up. It was really good that he came. Having friends like Jason is really what life is all about. Hopefully we'd always be close even though we were growing up and not living near each other any more. He was certainly making a good attempt at keeping in touch. I should probably do better.

I did doze off a couple of times. Jason just laughed and said not to worry about it. "At least Andrea doesn't think I'm boring," he laughed.

"Yeah, and maybe someday you'll get to sleep with her."

"If I knew I could have a live in boyfriend and sex as often as I wanted then maybe I would be gay," he laughed.

"First, it's not something you choose doofus and second, I'm taken and nobody else would put up with you."

He laughed. "Tell me," he said. "Did you ever have thoughts about doing anything with me?"

"What?? No, of course not. Well, not seriously anyway. I mean, you're good looking and all but you're straight plus you're my friend. It's pointless to crave for straight guys. Besides, your friendship is too important to me."

"So you have perved on me."

"No, not really. It's not like we haven't seen each other naked. We were in the same gym class but I never seriously considered it. I wouldn't."

"It's okay Dan. I just wanted to say that if I was going to do anything with a guy, I'd want it to be someone like you."

"There's nobody else like me."

"Then I guess it would have to be you."

I smiled. "Not that it's going to happen but have you ever thought about it? I mean about you and me?"

"Not seriously but if I was horny enough I might let you suck me off long as you wouldn't want me to do anything in return."

"You know I couldn't do that, right? That's not what it's about with me."

"I know. You need to feel the love and while I love you I couldn't do that. Plus I know you wouldn't have cheated on Aaron and you won't cheat on Josh."

"There's that but I also know that someday Andrea will do it for you and I wouldn't want you to know how much better it can actually be when she finally does," I said trying to smirk even though it was painful.

"You're still an asshole. You must be feeling better. Maybe you can give her a few tips."

"Yeah, I'll tell her no matter what you say you really like it when she uses her teeth."

"Never mind. I'll take what I can get."

I laughed. "Don't worry, I'm a good teacher. I taught Josh plus I've given him lots of practice. It was easy with him though, I gave him a good demonstration first. All he had to do was the same thing I did."

"Okay, that's gross. I love you man but the thought of you two doing that creeps me out. I mean, I don't care but I don't need the image."

"You're the one who brought it up."

Everyone wanted to know what had happened as soon as I got out of the jeep. Chris, Ryan and Randy were already there and Mike and Becky pulled in right after Jason and me. They all wanted to know how Dan was doing but they also wanted to know what had happened and more specifically how I was able to stop Phil. Even some of Phil's friends, or ex-friends, thought it was pretty cool I had kicked his ass. I wasn't going to admit I didn't really remember what happened or that I think I just got lucky. I just said the stuff Dan taught me came in handy.

Our immediate friends all wanted to know when they could visit Dan in the hospital. I told them he just woke up yesterday afternoon and really couldn't have any visitors until he is moved to another room. They were all anxious to visit him but understood he needed his rest too. I explained about the surgery, as well as the cracked ribs, arm, leg and other injuries he had received. Everyone was amazed that Phil could surprise him like he had.

We had a few minutes before class so I asked Chris and Ryan if they would come to the cafeteria. I wanted them to know what was going on. They were my best friends other than Dan and maybe Randy. I didn't want the whole school to know about me being kidnapped but I did think Chris and Ryan should know. They'd be hurt if they found out some other way.

"Okay guys, there is something I have to tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone. It'll all come out eventually but right now I want to keep it a secret."

"What's going on Josh. It sounds serious."

"It is but it's kind of cool too. At least it could be. You promise me? I want you to know because you're my friends. You've always been there for me so you deserve to know."

"Of course. You can trust us. You know that."

"Okay ...Tell me ...What would you guys do if you found out your life wasn't what you thought it was; that you learned you weren't who you thought you were?"

"What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense. What do you mean 'not who you thought you were'? What's going on?"

"Okay, we don't have much time. First period starts pretty soon. ...You know Dan's friend Aaron? The guy who looks like me?"

"Of course. Dan isn't being weird again is he?"

"No, Dan's fine with that. You're not going to believe what I found out yesterday. ...Aaron and me? ...I'm his brother. ...We're twin brothers."

"What???? What are you talking about? How can you be twins? You've lived here all your life. We've known you forever."

"Keep it down, okay? I know it's strange but it's true. At least that's what Mr. J. says. I know it's unbelievable but he and I are really brothers."

I went on to explain what Mr. J. told me, about how I was kidnapped at birth, how everyone thought I was dead, how my parents must have adopted me, about meeting the Michaels, the DNA tests, everything. They sat there speechless.

"Holy shit Josh, are you serious? You're not shitting with us are you? So your name isn't Sullivan? It's Michaels? You really believe all this? What if they're lying to you?"

"Why would Mr. J. do that? He's been helping me. Besides, I saw the DNA tests. It certainly explains why he and I look so much alike. We even have the same birth mark. Plus we have the same birthday."

"I guess he wouldn't. What about Dan? Didn't know Aaron had a brother?"

"No, he's as surprised as me. He said Aaron didn't know either. If he had he would have told him."

"So what are you going to do? Will you live with these people? Do you like them? You don't even know them."

"I don't know. I've been too worried about Dan. They seem okay but you're right, I don't know them. When we talked all they said is it's going to take time. They certainly didn't seem in a hurry to have another son not that it matters. It's not like I want to move to Chicago. I just hope Dan is okay with it."

"He loves you Josh."

"I hope that's enough. He says it doesn't matter but knowing my luck it'll change things. Just when my life was starting to turn around this happens. First Dan gets hurt and now I find out I've got parents I've never known. Do you know the other night Mr. Johnson told me not to worry about college? He said he thinks of me as a son and wants me to have the same opportunities as Dan and Scott."

"Shit Josh, that's great!!"

"Yeah, but that was before he knew I was Aaron's brother."

"Josh... chill. The Johnsons obviously think a lot of you, Dan loves you. We don't know Aaron's parents but Dan says they're okay doesn't he? Just relax. You're worrying that the worst is going to happen. It could be that good things are going to happen."

"Maybe, but knowing my luck I doubt it."

"What does your father say?"

"I haven't talked to him. I don't want to see him without my lawyer. I should call my aunt though. She should know something. I just don't understand why she never said anything.

The bell rang before we could talk more. On the way to class I reminded them not to tell anyone. I just told them because they're my friends and I needed to talk with someone.

"We're here for you Josh."

A nurse and an orderly came by around eleven to move me to another room. They told me the doctor said I was doing well and could be moved to a regular room. I took that as a good sign meaning I didn't need the level of attention I had been getting. Hopefully it also meant I could go home soon even though the doctor said that wouldn't be for a while.

The room they moved me to was actually the same room Kyle had been in. I was put in the same bed. That was kind of cool. I guess he had been released earlier that day. Phil was on another floor not that we'd be running into each other. Jason heard some nurses talking how he had both a broken leg and a broken arm. I was proud of Josh not that I liked anyone being hurt. Of course if anyone had to be hurt then he was a good candidate.

Jason called my parents and texted Josh to tell them I had been moved. I watched him standing by the door while the nurse got me settled. I thought how lucky I was to have a friend like him. This is twice that he dropped everything to come be with me. He wasn't really watching me as he talked on the phone which gave me a good opportunity to watch him. I know I shouldn't think it but he really did look good. He smiled when he saw me looking at him.

"What were you thinking?" he asked.

I smiled even though I still hurt. "Just how lucky I am to have a friend like you. Hopefully we'll get together sometime without you having to drop everything and hop on a plane."

"I like flying," he smiled.

"Next time I'll come see you."

"You better. It is your turn you know. Now you can bring Josh with you to Chicago no problem."

"I can't wait to talk to him. I can't imagine what he's going through."

"At least he has you."

"Yeah, a lot of good that did. I'm stuck here. I want to be with him."

"You will. You look much better today. It must be my healing effect."

Jason went to the cafeteria to get something to eat when they brought me my 'lunch'. Lunch was pureed meatloaf and broccoli. Yumm. The doctor had left orders he didn't want me to have anything solid because of my jaw. He didn't have to worry. There was no way that stuff would produce anything 'solid'. How did they expect anyone to get better when they forced them to eat crap like that and calling it crap is being kind. Fortunately they didn't give me too much and said I'd be back on real food before I knew it.

I didn't eat much. I was tired and I hurt. Not to mention the 'food' was disgusting. To be blunt it smelled like shit and I imagined it tasting about the same. It didn't help that it was brown and pureed. I did try taking a couple bites but couldn't do it. I just pushed it away and laid back. Before long I was sound asleep.

When I woke up Josh was sleeping with his head on my arm. He was so cute. I wanted to hold him but didn't want to wake him up. I thought he must be tired too with everything he was going through. I was also enjoying the peacefulness of watching him. His hands were under his head on top of my arm and he was facing me. He had such a peaceful expression on his face. I wondered what he was dreaming about.

I stayed like that for at least fifteen minutes just watching him. Every once in a while he would make a cute sound and stir a little but he didn't wake up. Eventually my arm was going to sleep and I had to move it. He was on my 'good' side, that is to say my side without the broken arm. I tried to shift in my bed without waking him but as soon as I moved he woke up.

He asked how long I'd been awake as soon as he saw me.

"For a while," I said. "I've been watching you sleep. You're cute when you sleep. Your nose crinkles up. I wanted to slide down and kiss it but it hurts to move. I didn't want to wake you up."

"You should have. I came to see you, not to sleep."

"You being here is enough. I know you've been through a lot too. You have to be tired."

"I'm doing okay. I'll catch up on sleep when you come home."

"I can't wait. Hopefully they won't keep me here too long. I miss sleeping with you beside me but I'll warn you, letting you catch up on sleep won't be the first thing on my mind."

"I miss you beside me when we're not sleeping too," he smiled.

"Where's Jason? He was here when I fell asleep."

"He left when I got here. Your parents were here too but they went to get Scott and have supper. Don't worry, they said they'd be back tonight."

When he didn't say anything for a couple of minutes I could tell something was on his mind. I reached over and took his hand. "What's wrong Josh?"

He smiled. "Nothing really. I talked with the Michaels. They seem like nice people."

"They are. I felt bad for them when Aaron died. I thought they'd blame me but they never did. They kept caring about me just like they always did. I don't know how you feel about them but if you had to be discovered by long lost parents then you couldn't have done any better. They really are great."

"I guess. I don't know how they feel about finding me though. They didn't seem too excited when we talked last night. I asked them what was going to happen and all they said was that it's going to take some time to get used to everything. It's okay. I've been too worried about you to deal with it anyway."

"Josh, I'm sure you misunderstood. I know them. They're good people. There is no way they aren't excited about finding you. Maybe it's their mid-western accent. You know you have trouble communicating with people from that part of the country when you first meet them," I said trying to be funny.

"It's not funny Dan."

"I know. Come here," I said reaching for him. "I know how to take your mind off it."

"Stop that. Your parents are going to be here any time. I haven't cum in two days and I don't want a stain on my pants when they get here."

I smiled. "Then pull the curtain around us and let me take care of you. I miss you."

"Forget it. Your jaw is wired and I can barely understand what you're saying."

"Then at least give me a kiss."

He smiled and leaned down. I put my good arm around him and pulled him closer. I knew my breath reeked from not brushing my teeth in I don't know how long but neither of us minded. For that matter I must have smelled pretty bad too. I felt kind of gross. He didn't mind that either. We held each other and just enjoyed the moment. We didn't kiss hard but it felt good. Unfortunately that was the time the everyone piled in to visit. Josh jumped but not before everyone had seen us. I just smiled and held his hand.

My mother looked at me and then at Josh. I know she had seen us but if she hadn't then Josh's red face let her know we had been up to something.

Any embarrassment was forgotten when Scott started crawling on my bed to give me a kiss. My parents tried to stop him but he was too quick. He ran to my bed and lifted himself up. I didn't care. I was feeling better. I was still sore and probably looked like shit but I missed Scott. He climbed up on my 'good' side and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then he made a face and said my breath stunk. That caused Josh to turn red again, especially when Jason smirked.

My parents were happy I was feeling better. They apologized for not staying earlier but said I was asleep and Josh was here. I smiled and squeezed his hand.

"He was here when I woke up. He was sleeping in the chair. We're like an old married couple."

"Hey, what are you inferring?" my father laughed.

"Nothing," I said trying to smile. "I hope he's beside me when we're old like you."

"Keep it up," my father laughed. "Maybe you can borrow my wheelchair when you get out of here."

I noticed Josh acknowledge the Michaels but he didn't give them a hug or anything. I was sure he had the wrong impression but by the way he was acting he was coming off as kind of a jerk. I know he was worried but he should make an effort, not that I'm a good one to talk.

My father said Lieutenant Henderson wanted to talk to me. He had stopped by earlier but I was asleep. He needs to get my side of what happened. My father said he wanted to be there too not that he thought there would be any problem.

He did say Phil tried to claim Josh and I had jumped him and it was my knife I got stabbed with. That was really funny. My father said Lieutenant Henderson let him go on with his story taking notes. He then asked Phil to sign his statement but reminded him if anything wasn't true then he'd be in more trouble. Phil was so cocky plus his father was there telling him to sign that he signed anyway. That's when Lieutenant Henderson showed them the DVD of the security cameras. My father said he heard Phil's father stormed out of the room.

Maybe I should have felt sorry for him. To a large extent he is like he is because of his father. Coach Landry told me how his father pressures him. It was hard to feel much empathy for him however. Josh's father was a piece of work too but look how he turned out. At some point people are responsible for their own actions.

My father said he will probably be charged both with assault on Kyle and assault with a deadly weapon on me. He said Josh shouldn't be charged with anything since the security video clearly showed he was defending me. He had talked to the district attorney who hadn't said one way or the other but with all the attention on bullying lately the DA wanted to send a message in this case. I didn't really consider myself the victim of a bully but I didn't care if that's how he played it.

We talked for a while longer. They said they were thinking of asking Aunt Carol not to come. They said the Michaels planned to stay through the holidays and they felt it might be too much on me. Josh's hand tightened when my father mentioned the Michaels staying but nobody noticed besides me. I told them I didn't care if Aunt Carol still came. I could put up with Jake for a few days. I said if he got too bad I'd have Josh take care of him for me.

I was holding Josh's hand when my mother said they should leave and let me get some rest. Scott had school the next day and needed to get to bed. She also said she was sure Josh had some homework that he was putting off. At least she said it with a smile.

Before leaving everyone gave me a hug, including Jason. He said he'd be back in the morning but was flying home in the afternoon. I would miss him but knew he already missed two days of school. I thanked him for coming and said we'd talk in the morning.

When Mrs M. leaned down to give me a hug I asked her what she thought of my new boyfriend. "He's quite a find, don't you think?"

She couldn't help laughing "Yes he is Dan. I can definitely guarantee you there isn't anyone else out there like him."

"He's great," I said giving her a hug with my good arm. "I need to talk to you ...alone," I whispered in her ear. I didn't want Josh hearing me. I felt her nod against my shoulder.

Everyone left, even Josh even though he didn't want to. I had to tell him I was tired anyway and wouldn't be very good company. He tried to say it didn't matter but my parents convinced him to leave.

Mrs. M. came back after about five minutes. "Dan, we only have a couple of minutes. I told them I forgot my pocketbook. What's on your mind?"

"How are you doing with Josh?"

"We're taking it slow. He's been kind of cool towards us but we don't want to push him."

"He said you talked to him but I think he got the wrong impression. At least I hope he did."

"What do you mean?"

"I know we don't have much time but he got the impression that you don't want him as a son."

"What?? Why would he think that? We said we understood it would take a while for him to get to know us before he accepted us. We didn't want to rush him."

"Did you use those words?"

"I doubt those words exactly. We just said we knew it was going to take time to get to know each other."

"Mrs. M., I don't know how much Dad has told you about Josh but he hasn't had it easy the last few years. He heard what you said and took it to mean that you need time to get to know him before you accept him, not the other way around."

"What?? That's not what we meant. We were concerned about him. We didn't want him to think we expected to be instant parents. We didn't mean we didn't want to be. Finding out he's alive is a miracle."

"I knew he misunderstood. I told him that but he wasn't convinced. I shouldn't say too much but you have to understand how his life has been to understand. He's pretty much been responsible for himself since he was eight. He has trouble thinking people can really care about him."

"I was concerned about his attitude tonight. I can't imagine how he's feeling. Thank you for telling me. Chris and I will make sure he understands. We're thrilled to have found him."

"He's also worried you'll make him move to Chicago."

"We'll deal with that too. Now I'd better be going before they come back looking for me. You get some rest. You have a boyfriend who misses you. Somehow I don't think sleeping with Scott is the same thing."

"It better not be," I said trying to smile. "Good night Mrs. M."

"Good night Dan. I love you."

As soon as we got home I went upstairs and closed the door. I wanted to call my aunt. I didn't know what to say and probably didn't handle it very well since the first thing out of my mouth when she answered was "did you know I was adopted?"

Needless to say she was speechless. She said that was ridiculous. She said that she hadn't lived nearby at the time but remember her sister calling from the hospital.

"What hospital? Mr. J. says he can't find a record of me being born where Mom told me I was."

"Josh, it was the one in Derry. That's what she told me. I can't believe this. Why would she lie? It does explain something though."

"What's that?"

"Well, I wasn't living in NH at the time. I was still in Colorado. We didn't even know she was pregnant until two months before you were born and when I told her I'd come to stay with her she told me not to. She said she was fine."

"So you don't know for a fact that she was pregnant? No pictures? Nothing?"

"Josh... Why would she lie about something like that?"

"I don't know but Mr. J. showed me the results of DNA tests. Plus you know I look identical to Dan's ...friend."

"It's okay Josh. I know Dan is gay. I've known all along."

"But you don't know we're boyfriends."

I could hear her smile on the other end of the phone if that was possible. "Not for sure but I do now and I'm happy for you. I need some time to think about this. I'll fly back early and we'll talk. We can have another DNA test done. It should show we're related. There has to be some mistake."

"Alright but I've already seen the results of two tests."

"Are you okay? Nobody is forcing you to do anything right away are they?"

"No, I'm okay. It's just strange."

"Josh ...I'm still your aunt ...and I still love you."

"I know Aunt Vera. I knew you wouldn't have kept this from me if you knew."

"I'll let you know when I'm flying back."

"Okay, don't worry. I'm fine."

"I love you Josh."

"I love you too Aunt Vera. ...Good Night."

At least she hadn't been keeping it a secret for me. I'm sure it was just as hard for her to believe. Maybe another set of DNA tests wouldn't be a bad idea. Maybe this was all a mistake. How could it be though? DNA doesn't lie. If it did they wouldn't use it as evidence in court. No... I am Christopher Michaels.

I was doing homework when the Michaels knocked on Dan's door. Scott was asleep and I was sitting at the desk using Dan's computer. Fortunately he had changed his background. While I didn't mind seeing pictures of myself I'm not sure how the Michaels would feel seeing images of their dead son rotate on the screen. I was probably enough of a reminder.

"Josh, we'd like to talk to you. Do you have a minute?"

I didn't really want to talk but wasn't going to be rude either. "Sure, I'm just finishing this assignment."

"Josh, I talked to Dan and think there has been a misunderstanding. ...Last night when we told you it would take time to get to know one another we meant that it would take time for you to know us and hopefully accept us as parents, not the other way around. Finding you alive is beyond a dream come true. There has not been a day in the last sixteen years that I haven't thought about you. I know it's been the same for Chris. I could always see it in his eyes when he looked at Aaron. ...When we said what we said last night we only meant that we understood it would take you time. We didn't want you to think two people you didn't know were coming in to be instant parents. Please don't think we don't want you as a son. There is no way we wouldn't want that. We just didn't want to come off as being too pushy."

I didn't know what to say. Dan had said I misunderstood and he was right. I tried to think when they could have talked and remembered when Mrs. Michaels went back to his room to get her pocketbook. My boyfriend was something else. I stood up and gave my mother a hug, a real hug. There were tears in my eyes. Even though I had loved my adoptive mother, I guess I should call her that, it felt right hugging the woman holding onto me.

"I'm sorry," I said holding onto her with tears in my eyes. My father put his arms around both of us and I felt the first family hug I could remember. I remember hugging my mother before she died but don't have any memories of hugging my ...whatever he is. I remember us being closer before she died but I don't remember him being affectionate. Mr. Michaels was holding me and I could hear him crying as well.

"What happens now?"

"Now we figure out what kind of family we are. We've missed sixteen years of your life. In two years you'll be off to college and starting a life of your own. That only gives us a short time to pack in what should have been a lifetime of memories. I'm going to do something I've never done before. I'm going to suggest you skip school tomorrow and we'll get started. We'll spend the day together, just the three of us. We can go out to breakfast and just do things together. We can do whatever you want. I know you'll want to see Dan and you can. We'll get you to the hospital at the same time you would if you had gone to school but instead of going to school the three of us can get to know each other."

"I'd like that. Maybe you can tell me more about Aaron. I wish I had known him."

"You two would have been good brothers although competing for the same boyfriend might have caused some problems."

I smiled. "I can't even imagine how different my life would have been or would be now."

"Josh, I don't know about your father but I believe your adoptive mother was a good person. I don't believe she knew you had been kidnapped. She obviously did a good job raising you and loved you very much. To turn out how you have after losing her and then living the way you did shows that. We don't want you to forget her."

"I won't. I did love her. I always thought she was my real mother."

"Josh, for all intents and purposes she was your real mother. She's the only mother you ever knew. I don't want to replace her but I would be honored if someday you thought of me as your mother as well."

"You are my mother."

"Technically that is true but there is a difference between knowing that up here," she said pointing to my head; "and feeling it in here," she said pointing to my heart. That will take some time. ...Now running the risk of sounding too much like a mother ...why don't you go to bed? It's been a long day and we want to be fresh for whatever we do tomorrow."

"Okay," I nodded. "I guess I don't have to finish my homework if I'm going to skip school. I think I could get used to parents that suggest things like that," I smiled.

"I see you've got a sense of humor too. That's good. You'll be able to keep Dan in line. ...Good night sweetheart."

I smiled. Nobody called me sweetheart. I'm not sure I'm a sweetheart type of guy but it felt good. "Good night Mom ...Dad."

"Good night Chris," my father said before leaving. His face turned red as soon as he realized what he said. "Sorry, he said. ...Good night Josh."

"It's okay. I like that name. I guess I'll have to decide what my name really is."

"It doesn't matter," they both said. "You're still our son."

I couldn't believe how I felt. I had actually called them "Mom" and "Dad". Wow. I went across the hall and got ready for bed. I borrowed another pair of Dan's workout pants to sleep in but changed in the bathroom. Maybe I was being overly paranoid but I didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression.

I grabbed my phone before climbing into bed. I had to text Dan even though he probably wouldn't see it. I didn't even know if he had his phone: 'Thanks ...I love you and wish you were here ...Get well ...please'.

When I climbed into bed Scott rolled over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Can I skip school too?"

"I don't think so."

"That's okay. I love you Josh. I love Chris too."

"I love you too munch. Now go to sleep."

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