Home Trained for You
Summary: Mark was only sixteen when he was kidnapped. He was still a boy when he was forced into a life that would change him from the sweet teenager to the scared man subservient only to his husband.
Warnings: Slash, Rape, Minor, Abuse
Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction. Any similarities to any real people, places, or events are purely coincidental.
It was my choice to break all contact with Joey – to protect him. Mom wanted to try him in court, her moral code conflicted with the devastating news of what had happened to me those five years. She thought he should be killed for what he did – to save others. Dad admitted at times he also wanted to see Joey tried but being put to death, he explained, would only be an easy fix to the problem. He needed to go to jail so he could be thoroughly punished for his crimes.
Jeffery advocated for Joey to seek help. Joey would be institutionalized until seen 'fit' and upon which a restraining order would be erected, keeping him away from me. I agreed to these terms because I didn't want Joey being hurt by anyone.
No one understood that this wasn't a kidnapping. I was twenty-one when those cops pulled me from the car and took me to their precinct. Everyone knew that if I so desired, I could go back and fight that all of it was voluntary. I had my own say in the matter of things. Only, if I went with Joey, mom would have filed charges. This way Joey can be safe and free.
Fiddling with my ring finger, I feel a sense of emptiness without the ring that had donned it for the last four years since leaving Joey's home. It sits before me on the psychologist's desk, just innocently watching me and her. It looks cold… "I bet you heard." I whispered, mostly to myself. "You always know."
Sylvia Monroe was from up north, according to all her diplomas on the way. She actually specialized in children and adolescents but had seemed eager to take my case when the first handful of psychologist was abandoned by me. So far she had lasted a year. "What do I know?" She folded her legs. I watched her facial expressions carefully. She wasn't like all the others. That stone cold look wasn't there, only one of concern. It made me think she didn't really know but I knew the truth. My parents were quick to set up this appointment when Joey called. They would have told her.
They had mentioned it being an emergency.
"That I tried killing myself."
I didn't think, ever, that those words could have escaped my mouth. I've been depressed, sure – hopeless and lost in an endless void of uncertainty as I waited for someone or something to come help me. I've never once actually attempted to take my own life, just imagined it. If my dad hadn't taken that gun away from me, I would have done it. I would have left this painful, lonely world.
Sylvia raised one of her fine brown brows. She was scrutinizing my answer. Of course she knew that, I had stitches on the side of my head where I had aimed and missed. "Is that the only thing I should already know? Because I knew that. No, let's talk about why you tried to kill yourself instead, Mark."
"Don't call me that!" I covered my ears, my body crouching. Aiden, Aiden, Aiden. I am his Aiden.
"Mark has never wanted to kill himself before." The psychologist exhales sharply. "But Aiden has. Aiden makes you do a lot of things you wouldn't normally do."
I never have a comment for that. It's not the first time I've heard her talking about Mark and Aiden as two separate beings. She was the only one to address the issue. The others just insisted my parents refrain from calling me 'Aiden' and enforce a response to 'Mark' while working on all the other issues but. Sylvia likes to address both as separate entities. Dissociative Identity Disorder, they call it. Similar to multiple personality disorder, I have created a split identity to 'protect' my main self.
When Sylvia first explained this to my dad, she put it in terms of a narrow road and one lone cop. If a person went down a road and was ticked every single time, for nothing but going down that one road (Mark, she call it), they would took an alternate route that escaped the punishment (Aiden). I developed "Aiden" at Joey's persistence, wanting to protect myself. When "Aiden" came to show, Joey reinforced it through praise and protection and, in turn, I found safety in it. Over five years, my time as Aiden grew more and more than my time as Mark, which solidified the alternate personality.
In other words, for five years Mark meant bad and Aiden meant good.
Mom was insistent then that Aiden should just go away. Dad suggested alternating the method and praising Mark and punishing Aiden. Sylvia's suggestion of simply ignoring (thus calling extinction to) my Aiden moments or having me sit when I want to be overly helpful fell on deaf ears.
I now live with an old friend from high school, Skyler. He gave me space and took Sylvia's suggestion, being patient with Aiden abut insisting on calling me Mark throughout it all.
Sylvia tapped her pen absently on the tip of her desk before setting it down. "Can you tell me the events that led up to you shooting yourself?"
"Dad wasn't supposed to be there."
"He was checking up on you."
I exhaled sharply. "I wasn't feeling good so I tried dealing with you. I told the other guy I wasn't going to do it again." I meant the staff at the hospital, after waking up restrained. It took a couple of days before they allowed me to leave the hospital and go home with Skyler, who fought me from my parents again. He's the one who is waiting outside patiently for me. "I'm going out to eat after this."
"Where are you going?" Sylvia smiles.
"That barbeque place, down by Café Brown." I stretch my legs.
"That's your favorite place." The woman notes absently.
Mark's favorite place, she means. I used to go there every year on my birthday since I was five. I loved it and used to try to sneak that as dinner whenever I could. "Yeah, I guess so."
The woman continued. "Did your attempted suicide have anything to do with the letter of notification?"
"No!" I glare out of the corner of my eye.
"Do you want to talk about that instead?"
"No!" I grip my fingers into the knees of my pants. I want the next thirty minutes to go by so I can just eat and hang out with Skyler. I want the day to be over so I can go back to my room and start my life anew tomorrow. My eyes begin to tear up thinking about those events that had led up to walking in the hospital. Visiting my parents, there was a letter for me from Ohio. My mom's accusing eyes burning into my soul as I read it excitedly (Joey's never written! We always snuck around to call each other, talking in secret for hours a month). I just remember leaving the room with heavy nerves, going to my dad's office and holding the gun to my head. I didn't know if it was loaded or not, all I wanted to do was end my eye that very second. "That letter…"
Thin words scribed out with so much nonchalance. They didn't care, they were doing their job. They just wrote it out for those who needed to know those who were told to be informed. It was like a slap to my face.
"I was hanging out with Skyler, the day before it all happened," I continued absently, watching the fluffy clouds pass her window. "The Yankees game – always used to watch with Skyler and the gang, just to see them lose. They never do, of course but it made the events all the more fun to get riled up. Well, it was just me and Skyler, like always and we were enjoying the game. He ordered pizza, he drank a beer I had some soda. It was a good evening. Yankees won and Skyler and I got cozy. I think I kissed him first."
I hadn't admitted that since it happened. I know our lips touched, our fingers brushed against one another. I know we parted and I was scared but Skyler's lips touched mine and all those cares disappeared. Then I went home to my parents, read that letter, and attempted to kill myself.
"He always knows when I misbehave. This was punishment. We can't live without each other." Those last words seem so unsure because even as I think about it, suicide seems so extreme for cheating on him. I wasn't really thinking though when it all happened. All I heard was this was a test, which I would get there (where ever "there" was) and he wouldn't be there. The gun had clicked and I woke up in the hospital with stitches and Skyler hovering over me.
"He couldn't have known before all that happened. The letter was sent out two days before the game." She knows, however, that sound reasoning means nothing to me when it comes to Joey. Even from Ohio he has a tight grip around my reason. I can't do anything because Joey wouldn't approve and it takes months for me to actually agree to put myself in obviously harmful situation. "Why don't we talk about that letter? It's caused you a lot of distress."
"Let's not." I don't want to think about it.
"The funeral was today." She comments absently. "I called up Jeffery Montgomery, he says he wishes you could have made it but he understands that you're not…ready… to go back. I disagree some, I think you're ready, at least to see the funeral. I think you need it. You were sort of ripped away from it all. Do you know who Aiden Young is?" She positioned herself carefully, watching me. I shook my head. "He was a young boy that Joey used to live with before you." She pulled out a yellow manila folder, pulling out some clean sheets of paper from it.
Joey's writing stared at me hard. His apologies to the world when he went about killing himself. He wrote about this Aiden as lovingly as he talked about me. How we were so similar but Aiden had needed him until the day he died but I hadn't. Behind was a printed image of a kid in an older picture. The boy staring back was almost like me, long dark hair, baby blue eyes, and a wide smile. Behind him, holding him tightly was a much younger Joey, who looked as happy as the man in his arms.
"He died a few months before your kidnapping. Jeffery never actually meet the boy, Joey apparently kept his 'little Aiden' a secret for years. The man's body was found a few years ago but the case was never solved."
I kept the picture in my hands, staring over the boy's face, like a ghost. He was me. No, I was him. That was Aiden. He was recreating his Aiden and I kept spoiling it with my Mark moments. I was just a replacement. I toss the picture on the desk. "I want to go home."
"Tell me what's upsetting you." The psychologist whispers. "Is it all this? Or is it still Joey's death."
"He loved me! He made it clear it was me he loved! He died because I was no longer with him!" I sob, no longer believing these words escaping my mouth. I know she's the only one being honest with me. Mom had told me that with Joey no longer around I could just go on with my life but Sylvia was making sure I knew everything that happened. There were no secrets; I had to know what had happened.
He told me we first meet when I was playing baseball and the ball slipped and hit the fence. Was that me or this Aiden? Was I supposed to start living this Aiden's life or was I supposed to become this Aiden?
"Did he ever love me?" I whisper solemnly.
"I don't think we'll ever know." She whispered. "We have another ten minutes if you want—"
"When's your next appointment?" I grab my knees.
"Not until one."
"Can we continue this until then? I have a lot I need to understand." She nods in understanding.
Hours later, I leave her office. Skyler perks up from the stiff chairs in the front office. ESPN plays quietly on the television in his line of view but I can tell his attention hadn't actually been on it. He pushes himself to his feet, tucks his hands in his pockets and walks with me out of these offices. The silence is comforting, it's not as pushing. My mom used to demand answers when I left with her but Skyler…he's different. He's content as long as I'm happy.
"I haven't eaten yet, still want barbeque or McDonalds?" Skyler remotely unlocks his car. He offers me the keys and I take them nervously. He always offers me the chance to drive, especially as I work towards my license. I took the driver's seat, cautiously fixing all the mirrors, double checked everything, and then put it in drive. I drove us out to the barbeque restaurant, parking as far away from the others as possible. Our silence was soothing, necessary as I got my nerves back under control.
Skyler lead the way into the restaurant, asking for our usual seats in back where it was less crowded. I settle in the furthest seat, ordering plain water while focusing on the national news on television. Skyler folded his hands. It's not usually this quiet amongst us. Skyler always has something to tell me, either it be his daughter, his ex-wife, or his work. He's full of stories and play-by-plays. I'm the quiet one, listening half-heartedly while contemplating the idea of being a hermit.
At least that was until we kissed.
"Things go bad today?' Skyler finally broke the silence when his diet coke was brought over. He took a swig from the drink before setting it aside, his eyes falling on the menu that was memorized already.
"They went." I admit absently. The perky meteorologist makes a swinging motion with her hands to talk about the recent heat wave. "I want to see his grave."
Skyler chokes on his soda. He's so comical while trying to get his lungs cleared. "You want to go to Ohio?"
"Just to check…to finish things." I played with the ring along my finger. "Sylvia and I got to talking if I was really still in love with him – if I ever was, y'know, in love. He did so much to manipulate me and I just want to see his grave site, to tell him I'm ready to move on." I roll the ring off my finger, setting it on the table. It wasn't something that was sentimental to me. I wore it because it was a familiar weight on my finger. Skyler has suggested I remove it for years, that it's a constant reminder of Joey's existence, a reinforcer of his rules in Mark's life, Sylvia had told me just minutes before. "I'm ready to move on – no, I have to."
Fingers in his pocket, Skyler pulls out his phone, sliding his fingers around the buttons. I raise a brow at the device, not fond of the item that Skyler seemed to have glued to his ears and fingers most days. He taps his index finger along the screen. "We could probably fly out for a few days, I just have to take a few personal days…huge dent in my savings but—"
"I can go alone – and pay my own way. Jeffery gives me money when I need it and I've been really good at saving." I shake my head. That's Skyler's biggest fault, he always needs to take care of me. He's like my mom in thinking that if I leave Colorado I'll go back to Ohio and I'll never return home. Skyler's right about one thing – I wouldn't have before. If I knew I could meet up with Joey and he'd make things return the way they had been, I wouldn't have returned. Things have changed. Joey's abandoned me and I no longer feel like following.
Suicide is no longer on my mind. The only thing encouraging me to drop it all is the knowledge that I wasn't the 'Aiden' Joey was initially in love with. I just looked like the man he fell in love with. He led me along because he loved this broken body.
Taking my hand, Skyler doesn't seem the least bit bothered that I stiffened; looking at his hand like it was fire. Will he kiss me again? Will I kiss him? Will it be magical? "I'm coming with you. I walked away the last time you needed help, I won't do it again."
"My parents…" Someone has to lie to them.
"Don't have to know." Skyler sipped his drink, grinning pleasantly at the server as she took our usual orders. When she leaves, he relaxes a little. "Seriously, we can tell them we're going on vacation and we can head to Ohio." He smiles politely. I actually feel excited that he's going along with this, especially since I know my parents would never agree to it. He understands me more than anyone else does. This really is my best friend… "You have to do two things for me, though."
Joey always put stipulations with his demands to but I know Skyler's aren't fully off sexual service. "What?" I am a free man, I have a choice over what I'll do.
"First, you must keep a journal of your thoughts on this trip. Second, you must share everything with Sylvia. I don't want you having some breakdown and no one helping."
Sylvia asked the same thing but if Skyler thinks it's a good idea… "Okay. And you'll be with me so…"
"Nothing bad will happen." Skyler's sweet smile makes me smile.
True to his word, a week later we're entering the cemetery where Joey was buried. I'm dressed somewhat nicely for the occasion in comparison to my companion. Grabbing Joey's ring from my breast pocket, I curl my fingers around the jewelry one last time before stepping out of the vehicle. Skyler stays back as I make my way through the tombstones, looking around for Joey's.
It feels all the more real when I stumble across the cold granite. Joseph Riley Montgomery, Loving Brother, Uncle, and Friend. If Skyler were here, he'd be laughing up a storm. Even I can't hide the small smile on my face. He was a loving brother and uncle but friend? I never meet any of his friends. It was all business and pleasure with him. "Hi…Joey…" I drop to my knees in front of his gravestone. A morbid thought crosses my mind, that I'm knelt over his body. What a familiar position…
Compared to Colorado, it's muggy out here in Ohio. I think I'm overdressed for this. "I can't come with you this time." I almost feel his presence, choking the air from my throat. "I, I tried to but…" I drop my gaze, to the ring in my hand. I was so happy when I received it, like I was on Cloud Nine. The truth is, this ring was never meant for me, I didn't really want it. This was the lock to my shackles. I put the piece of jewelry on his grave, letting the different materials contrast to one another. "Aiden's dead. Both of your Aiden's. I want to get better…"
The truth, you messed me up. You ruined me. I just received my GED, I work as a housekeeper at the local hotel, I am fighting to start my life. You took so much away from me. I want so hard to start a relationship with someone else but you even took that you…
"I hate you." I hid my eyes, waiting for something to hit me. I need his ghost, in the back of my mind, standing over me. I'm ready to be ripped from all this, to find myself back over the kitchen sink with Joey's hands at my throat. I expect to start drowning, with his voice in my ear telling me that if I hated him so much, I didn't need to stay here.
Without thinking about it, I slid back off his grave, trying to make myself feel better. His image disappears as I amend my statement, my vision blurry with tears. "I want to hate you so much. Let me move on."
I jump out of my skin, twisting around to see who had snuck up. Jeffery lowers his head in shame.
"Didn't mean to scare you." He drops next to me, his hands on his knees. "I heard that you tried to kill yourself. Was it because of Joey?"
"I don't need you to psychoanalyze me." I curl my fist. "I bet Sylvia told you I was coming."
"No." Jeffery shifts. "I swung in to think and saw you out here. I'm surprised you even came, not that it's bad you came or anything. I've been meaning to talk to you about Joe."
"How's Susan?" I took a blade of glass between my fingers.
Jeffery winces. The respect I had for Susan disappeared that night I was taken from Joey, when I learned that she had tricked me for my last name. Believed in her Uncle Joey, my ass. She knew that to get to me, she had to play as a friend. "She's okay. She's working on her doctorate. Mark, I…" Jeffery rubbed his eyes, looking more stressed than ever. "Joey left you everything." He frowned. "Well, he left 'Aiden' everything but we know he meant you."
"He could have meant his first Aiden."
"Frankly, never meet the kid. You were the first one he brought home so as far as the will goes, it's all left to you. The house, is assets, everything. Sylvia said she'd bring it up with you after you worked past his death but I think you need to know now." He tapped his knee. "It's to be used as you want."
"I don't want it." Because that would mean coming back here, living in that house with all those memories. "Money won't fix anything. It won't make me who I was then." I tucked myself into a small ball, shaking visibly. "Just give it to Susan, she'll need the money and stuff for her life after college." Jeffery's hand falls on my back, causing me to tense. I know that's what he's hoping I'd say. "…How far along was…it?" I finally find the courage to ask.
Jeffery winces. He knows what I'm talking about. "It was under control, like yours. I think, I hope. Uh…you have been seeing that specialist I recommended, haven't you?"
Nodding, I pluck the grass out from under me. "Yeah."
We fall into a comfortable silence, just watching the granite in front of us. Jeffery breaks the silence after a bit. "That your roommate? Does he…know?"
"Skyler, yes." I nod looking over my shoulder towards Skyler's car. He's learning against the hood, his phone in his hands and a smile on his face. It makes me smile because I know he's looking at pictures of his little girl, probably more images his ex-girlfriend sent him. "Why was your brother like this?" It's been a question plaguing me for years now. He was so tolerable when he wasn't trying so hard to hold onto me.
There're so many similar characteristics between Jeffery and Joey. That blonde hair, those golden eyes, and that way they bite their lip as they think of suitable answers. "I don't know. He's always been a little different, I think its how dad treated him. He used to torture Joey when we were little. Was always so tough on him. Used to look him under the stairs for weeks, would tell Joey he did it out of love. Joey just up and left when he was eighteen, didn't come back until dad's death, with you. It's so strange, when I saw him during the girl's birthdays and holidays he seemed so… normal and happy. I didn't think he was capable. No, I didn't want to believe that he would actually kidnap someone. I kept praying that I was wrong, that he was still my baby brother."
Joey never spoke to me much about his father. I remember that morning lying in his arms and he told me the bare minimum about his family. I didn't think his father was abusive but I always had my questions about the man's relationships with his family. He was just so distant from everyone. "I miss him." I admit suddenly, lowering my head. "Some days more than others. I hate him after my doctor's appointments because I know he's the reason why I'm sick. The problem is after a few weeks, I start to miss him. I miss someone holding me at night, telling me that I complete them. I miss having someone depend on me for their basic needs."
"I can't apologize enough—"
"There's nothing to apologize for." I smile. "I don't think Joey knew he was HIV-Positive. I doubt he knew what he was doing for the better part of the decade. Aiden made him happy and he didn't want to let go." I could almost feel Joey's soul enter me, thanking me for understanding all his sins. "Did you know he made me happy? He went out of his way when I was under lock down to make it bearable. All I had to do was ask for it and he got it for me. All those books, all those dog toys – anything I wanted, within reason. He bent over backwards and made me feel like prince. I wanted to leave during his bad days, yes, but those good days made it so much more bearable and… I miss him." I chewed on my bottom lip. "Can I let you in on a secret?"
"Hm?" Jeffery stares off in the distance.
"He and I were still talking to each other. He would call me up on his drives in town to get groceries and we would talk for several minutes. The last time we spoke… He was so excited about a job he'd gotten in Canada. Kept saying we should move in together again but I wasn't sure. I told him I wanted to think about it. I remember telling him all about Skyler and how he was letting me stay with him. I guess I spoke about him too much and Joey knew before I did. You know what he asked before he hung up?"
"What?" Jeffery seemed really intrigued.
"If I was wearing his ring. I hadn't been. I used to a lot but when I started to hang out with Skyler a lot I stopped and… He knew that it was over between us before I knew. Next thing I know he kills himself."
Jeffery sighed. "Mark…"
"Until recently I thought he had all this control over me. I woke up a few days before he died and realized that Joey was in Ohio and I was here. It didn't occur to me again until Skyler and I kissed. Joey wasn't controlling me. He had no power except in his words. And then he killed himself and I tried following."
"He only has control if you let him." The man pushed himself up, groaning softly. I hear his knees pop but don't comment. "Trust me, you're free. Joey, bless his soul wherever it is, can't control you unless you let him. Anyway, I have to head home. Are you sure you don't want any of his assets"
"You're still paying for my doctors?"
"Yea." The doctor smiled.
I tucked my hands between my knees, staring off in the distance. "Then I'm good. The part of me that was in love with him wasn't in love with his money." Mark was in love with his freedom, Aiden with his captor. I wasn't going to take any more part in his delusions. Instead, I wanted to be better and Sylvia always said the first step to that is me. "Can you send Skyler over?"
Jeffery nods, leaving the area. A few seconds later, Skyler comes over to me, dropping next to me. His long arm wraps around my back in a comforting hug and I lean into him. It feels so wrong to be this close to another man when my last one – my first – is buried near our feet. "I want to leave this place."
"We can go back to the hotel." Skyler helps me off the ground. I shake my head.
"I want to get out of Ohio." I start towards his car. I feel so much lighter with each step. Climbing in the car, I don't even turn my head to look back at the grave, I just stare forward as Skyler starts up his car and starts out of the cemetery. Without thinking about it, I reach over the console to grab his hands. "Can we stop at the leaving sign and take pictures?"
Skyler shrugs. "Sure, let's just check out of the hotel first and we'll head out."
"And can we do that with every state we cross?" I tight my hold on his hand.
He laughs. "I don't see why not; that sounds kind of fun anyway." His thumb brushes against the top of my hand, sending a shiver down my spine and a smile to my lips. Turning my head back towards the cemetery, now a speck in the distance, I can almost see a part of me left at the grave stone, staring off in the distance. Good bye, Joey. "Oh, hey! Kerry sent me a new picture of Naomi, see had a messy breakfast." His phone is out of his pocket in seconds, his thumb brushing across the screen while his eyes focused on the road.
I could only shake my head and smile. "I'm ready to be Mark."
Skyler's thumb slows down. His smiles shyly at me. "I'm glad. I missed you, bud."
"You'll stick around, won't you?" I tighten my hold on his hand. "Past all my faults?"
"Of course." He leans over, pecking my cheek. Leaning against his side, I can only think how bright my future looks for the first time in ten years.