Crossing Jordan - Part II The Aftermath

© 2016 by Teddy S Bower

By Teddy Bower

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When the weather permitted him, Jonathan had a favorite spot in his back yard that he retreated to during those times that occur in every teenager's life when they need to think or are feeling down for one reason or another. On this particular occasion, it was late on a spring Friday afternoon, and he'd been here for a while now, but the time spent had been productive. Certainly, he felt a good deal better than when he'd first come out to this spot after arriving home from school.

Whoever it was that said teenagers had life easy had obviously never been a teenager themselves, he decided. Life, as much as he loved living it, was decidedly not simple, but he would persevere as he always did. Life was too much fun to spend it moping for too long. Still, a person needed to be a bit introspective from time to time. He worried about those who didn't or weren't.

He sat comfortably in the shade of the gorgeous blooming plum tree enjoying the warmth of spring and the sound of the bees buzzing happily and frantically from flower to flower on every branch and twig in the tree above him. He was loathe to leave this spot but hunger pangs called, and at this point, he figured he'd been out here just about long enough when he heard the back door creak open. As he glanced that way, a tall, beautiful, redheaded girl emerged, calling out to him as she walked across the yard, "Jon-Boy! How are you doing?"

"Wow! Heather! When did you guys get here? What are you doing in Hillsboro? How long are you staying?" Jonathan could hardly contain his excitement at having his only cousin here for a visit.

"We're on our way to Seattle. Dad has a conference tomorrow, and Mom and I are going to visit the Experience Music Project. I can't wait! We thought we'd stop by to see you guys for a couple of hours so that the worst of the Friday traffic will have ended by the time we get into the city this evening. You know how tied up Seattle can get, especially on a Friday afternoon!"

Jonathan nodded his head in appreciation of her words as he stepped up to give her a big hug. Heather was a year older but they'd always been close. She'd been the sister he'd never had. It had been quite hard on him two years ago when his parents had divorced, and he and his mother had moved from Eugene to Hillsboro where his mom took a position with Tuality Hospital as a surgical nurse. The divorce had been hard, the separation from Heather had been hard, and life had generally sucked during that time. Thankfully he'd found a good friend in Jordan. He wasn't sure what he'd have done without the other boy's friendship over the last couple of years. Jordan was always such a rock of stability when Jonathan felt himself drifting.

"Uh... Jon? Hello? You in there somewhere, Boy?"

Jonathan looked up at his cousin, embarrassed to be caught daydreaming when she'd just showed up in his backyard, not more than a minute ago.

"Sorry, Heather," he grinned sheepishly, "I was thinking of something else when you came out and kinda got sidetracked back to it. Um... Dunno what else to say."

He watched as his cousin got this huge grin on her face and knew instantly he was in trouble. Sure enough, she opened her mouth and out it came.

"Oh, really now, Mr. Romeo? So what's her name?"

Jonathan loved his cousin, but right now he felt like he could strangle her. Romance was NOT what all this was about as far as he was concerned, and besides, his nonexistent love life just wasn't any of her business! Still, teasing or no, Jonathan was glad to see her. He just didn't want the conversation to go in the direction she was taking it, but he could already see that he'd taken too long to answer her and that she was gearing up for another salvo. He tried to open his mouth and respond before she set her own in motion, but as always she was too quick for him.

"Oh? Is it not a girl then? Someone's got to be getting you in this strange mood then, so what's HIS name?" He'd always loved her smile but jeez, wasn't anything sacred?

"Heather! Stop it! There's no girl. There's no guy. There's no one, okay? No one! Never has been. Christ on a cracker! I've never even been kissed, and I'll be seventeen soon! Jeez, already. Can we just drop it and talk like normal people?"

Heather stood, observing for what seemed to him to be about three minutes though in reality was probably only a few seconds.

For Heather's part, she debated continuing the taunting. It was, after all, what older, female cousins were for when it came to their male counterparts. Still, something about his mood caused her to decide that what he needed was a little caring, cousinly concern rather than further teasing. Still, she couldn't resist just one more jab before getting more serious.

"You sure there's no guy? Cuz that would be totally HOT!"

"Heather!"

"Yes, Jon?"

"There's no guy! There's no girl! There's no one, okay?"

She shrugged and walked toward the back gate where a low-hanging branch of a huge, old maple tree made a perfect seat both teens could sit on while they talked. It had been a favorite place for both of them during her family visits. It was a favored place when Jordan came over as well. They'd spent many, many hours together there when the rainy, Western Oregon weather permitted. It was also a very private place. Other than where the lower-height gate was, the fence blocked the area from the prying eyes of anyone who happened to be in the alley, and the various shrubbery and trees shielded it from the view of any of the surrounding houses, including their own.

Jonathan followed her, and leaning against the thick, butt high branch, looked out across the yard while his cousin straddled the same branch on his right, facing him.

"So tell me, Cousin, what is it that has got you so seriously stodgy today?"

Jonathan glanced at her momentarily, gauging her sincerity, before turning back to looking across the yard.

"I'm lonely, Heather. Most of my friends at school are all paired off with someone. I'm alone. Well, not alone because I've got friends but I don't have a special friend. I want someone. I believe that I deserve someone, but there doesn't seem to be anyone interested."

"No one?"

"Well, no one that interests me. There've been some girls who have tried to get my attention, but they're all so shallow. I just can't, no, I don't want anything to do with them. I don't even want to do a one time date, just for fun.

Besides, they've never been very nice to Jordan. It's nothing major, at least from the girls, just petty stuff. Their words and their looks and the way they act around him speak volumes. The shallowness by itself might not be much but together with the way they are always subtly bullying him? How could I even consider dating someone like that? I can't! I won't!"

"You've talked about this Jordan a lot since you moved here. When do I get to meet him?" Heather asked as she reached up and picked one of the big maple leaves from the tree and twirling it by the stem.

"Maybe this evening if you guys are here long enough," Jonathan responded hopefully, before taking the leaf from her hands and throwing it on the ground. "He said he was coming over later because he wanted to talk with me about some things."

"Talk to you about some things? Did you guys have a disagreement or something?"

Jonathan winced at the thought. "No. Nothing like that. We bounce stuff off of each other all the time. Things that are bothering us or homework problems, or just talking about stuff, that kinda thing, whatever. We're close like that. That's what friends do. He's been my rock since the divorce, and I guess I've sorta been his as well.

"Like I already said, the kids at school bullied him. Before I showed up, he'd get beaten up regularly, but I made them stop. Well, I made them stop the physical stuff, or at least most of it. I'm sure there's some still goes on that I don't know about, and Jordan isn't likely to tell me when it does.

Heather looked up through the canopy watching a pair of Robins that were busy building a nest in the fork of a large branch many feet overhead. "He sounds like a nice person, but with a low sense of self-esteem," she pondered aloud, "I'm sure though, that if someone as nice as you likes him, then he's worth liking."

"Yeah, he is, and he's a good friend. He's just a little more quiet and shy than most of us, but he's so smart and talented. He plays the piano like a professional. In fact, he actually got to do part of a concert with the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra a few weeks ago. They want him to come back for another guest appearance next year..."

Jonathan trailed off, lost in a moment of reflection before looking up at Heather and continuing, "Anyhow he's not had it easy at school, and I guess our friendship grew out of mutual need. He needed a friend and so did I, what with the divorce and then moving here where I didn't know anyone. I wish the other kids could see him as a person. I know it's supposed to be a Christian school and all, but honestly, the kids were nicer at the public school you and I attended in Eugene before the divorce."

Jonathan met Heather's eyes, and when he didn't continue with his train of thought, she directed the conversation back to him, "So... the loneliness you talked about. Do you think it's actually loneliness? It seems you've got friends. You're in a stable situation, etc., and while I know first hand that loneliness CAN be an issue for anyone at any time, I'm wondering if what you're feeling might fall into the category of longing or desire? You said that you'd never been kissed..."

Jonathan wasn't convinced that he really wanted to get into this subject, but Heather had always been a good sounding board for him and ultimately, he trusted her. While he was considering it, however, he left his place where he'd been leaning against the low-slung branch and wandered over to the trunk of the tree. Looking up, he briefly contemplated climbing it, before returning to lean once again against the branch where his cousin was still perched.

"I'm sure that's part of it, Heather," he said, picking up his thoughts once more, "Hell, I'm sixteen years old. I've got more sexual energy than is probably good for me and it DOES fill me with desire. I know that. I'm sure you're aware that us boys take care of our needs all of the time, if you get my meaning, as I'm sure you girls do, too. Still, I want to have someone to love. I'd like to hold them, kiss them, love them, touch them, and yes, I'd like to have sex with them but not in a cheap kind of way. I'd want them to be someone I really love and care about... Have you ever had sex, Heather? I mean... Oh, God...! Oh shit! I'm sorry!"

Heather laughed. "It's okay, Jon, Really. I don't mind you asking. Honestly."

Jonathan bowed his head in embarrassment for a bit before looking up at his cousin once more. She held his gaze for several seconds before smiling into his eyes and speaking again, "To answer your question, yes, I've had sex with four different boys. I won't date the jocks or guys in the popular crowd. I date the guys who might be a bit nerdy or shy and who have the courage to ask me out. I'm honest with them right up front that I'm not interested in exclusive dating and if they can live with that we'll probably have lots of fun getting to know each other. Experience has shown me that they're the guys who make the best friends and the most attentive lovers, not the jocks."

Jonathan didn't respond but nodded his head in understanding as he drifted momentarily into thought about what she'd said. It made a lot of sense. The guys that were so full of themselves, always on display, always needed to be the big men on campus probably weren't, and maybe never would be, the best of lovers. Same thing with the popular girls, the cheerleaders and whatnot.

"I'm curious, though, why did you ask?" Heather asked, interrupting his cogitations.

"I'm not sure really, he replied. I guess I just wanted to know what it's like..." Jonathan suddenly reddened in embarrassment again and exclaimed, "Oh, Jesus Christ on a bike! Please don't take that the wrong way! I wasn't asking you to... Oh, shit. No... I mean, not that I wouldn't... Oh, God! I'm just gonna shut the fuck up now, okay?"

Heather couldn't help but laugh at the discomfiture of her cousin, which only served to deepen his embarrassment to the point where he simply gave up and laughed at himself with her. There was no use fighting it, and anyway, if she was upset with him he knew her well enough to know she wouldn't be laughing.

Eventually, their laughter subsided, "Jon," she said, "In all honesty, there's no need for you to be embarrassed. I think I know you just wanted to talk about it, am I right?"

Jonathan nodded, "Exactly!" he exclaimed, "my intent was only to ask, not actually...!" he looked down again in embarrassment, suddenly having visions of himself and Heather writhing around in his bed.

She seemed to read his mind, "I know, Jon," she smiled, "I think I know what you were just thinking about and it is kind of hot to think about, isn't it? I know it's taboo and all that, but still, kissing cousins and all that? It's the stuff naughty fantasies are made of, you know?" She winked at him. He blushed. They both descended into a round of slightly nervous laughter.

When the laughter was over both teenagers were once again ready for the more serious side of their discussion.

"You asked what it was like," Heather said, "I think what I like when a guy and I make love is how totally into each other we are when we're in bed. I won't have sex with a guy on the first date, and I won't go on a second date with a guy if we're not feeling the vibes, and I certainly won't take him to bed with me if we're not. Friendship, relationship, sex, has got to be about the other person every bit as much as it's about ourselves, so if that ain't happening on the first date, there's never going to be another one, let alone any kind of lovemaking. It's about making love in the truest sense of the word, Jon. I could go on and describe the actual act to you and how awesome some of it is, but somehow I don't think that's what you're asking me, is it?"

"No, it really isn't. That's what I want, Heather. I want somebody to be as totally into me as I am into them. I want it to be all about love and tenderness and caring, all mixed up with sex and nakedness and eroticism and orgasm and making all those things happen for the other person because I love them so much and enjoy their enjoyment of it. I want all of that, but Heather, you know what I want right now more than anything?"

"No, what do you want, Jon?"

"I want to be able to hold someone's hand and maybe kiss them. I just want to be able to experience that closeness. I know it's strange, but It's like this huge need growing inside of me that I can't even explain."

As he spoke the last sentence, Heather jumped from her seat on the limb and stood in front of him as he leaned against it. Looking into his eyes, she reached out taking his hands in her own.

"It's not strange at all, Jon. I think what you're after is emotional intimacy as much as anything else."

Never breaking eye contact with him, she leaned forward to kiss him gently on the lips before pulling back and looking into his eyes once more.

Somehow Jonathan wasn't shocked by her action. To the contrary, he was touched by the kindness of the act. He gazed back into her eyes asking a silent question and receiving the silent answer in return, he reached up a hand gently to the back of his cousin's head and pulled her to him, rejoining their lips, this time the kiss was not quite as chaste or nearly as short as the last. Before long his other hand was on her lower back pulling her closer as her tongue entered his mouth and then his was entering hers. Both of her arms were wrapped around him, their bodies touching.

After a few moments Jonathan broke the kiss, "Well, that was interesting. Fun, but a bit like kissing my sister or something. It just didn't seem quite right.

"No, I didn't quite feel it either." Heather responded, "Do you think it's cuz we're cousins or do you think maybe you might be gay?"

Just then there was a call from the direction of the house that a meal was on and if they wanted to eat they should make plans to head on in. Jonathan glared at his cousin before throwing an arm over her shoulder and walking her toward the house.

"I'll ignore your incessant needling on that topic, My Dear Cousin, as not worthy of a response."

She flipped her curly, long red hair at him before pulling away and running, laughing into the house ahead of him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning being a Saturday, it had been Jonathan's intent, like any teenager, to sleep in till 9:00 AM or later. To his dismay, however, when he awoke it was still dark out, and the clock on his bedside stand read just after 5:00 AM. He lay there in thought while waiting for sleep to return but it would not, then he remembered that Jordan hadn't come by last evening like he'd said he was going to. It wasn't like Jordan to skip out like that, and he was momentarily concerned about his friend before deciding that such thoughts were silly. One miss in an entire friendship was nothing to worry over.

When forty-five minutes had passed, and he was still awake, he got fed up and grabbed his iPhone from the nightstand figuring to check his messages and email, perhaps do a little surfing for porn. While porn wasn't something he did habitually, after last night's adventure with his cousin, it seemed like it could be fun.

The screen flickered immediately to life, and once he'd entered the passcode, he checked his Facebook page which seemed totally uninteresting so he switched over to see if there was anything interesting in his email. At first, he thought there was nothing, other than the usual spam that had been missed by the spam filters but then among the many nothings he discovered one from Jordan. Using email wasn't one of Jordan's things. He seemed to much prefer texting or FaceTime, but on the occasion that he did send an email, it was usually something more lengthy, and therefore important.

Jonathan always enjoyed hearing from his friend whatever the method, and figured this message would be a better distraction from his sleepless morning than porn would be. Jordan's emails were always filled with his original humor mixed with his deep thoughts, both of which could easily keep Jonathan entertained or enthrall him with wonder at the wit and intelligence of his friend's mind.

He opened the email with anticipation and began to read.

"I came to see you earlier this evening..."

...Dang. I wonder how I missed him. I was here all afternoon and evening...

"Why didn't you tell me you have a girlfriend?"

...What? Girlfriend?...

"...when I saw you leaning there against the tree branch with your body all entwined with some stunning redhead babe..."

...shit! He caught me kissing Heather! Wait! She's NOT my girlfriend!!! Oh... Why do I feel guilty? I don't need to. It's not like I have to worry about it. Jeez!

"...my parents have never been supportive of me... I've never told you before is that they're abusive."

No... Huh! They've always been so nice to me. Abusive how...?

"...Dad took his fists to me. He beat me on my back and butt. I had huge bruises that hurt so much I couldn't sit or lay on them for a couple of days..."

WHAT??? That fucking bastard!!! I'll kill him!!!

Jonathan's body tensed in anger as a sudden shot of adrenaline entered his bloodstream. Without really knowing what he was doing he dropped his phone on the bed and leaping from it, charged out of his room, down the hall, into the kitchen where he found himself leaning on the counter in front of the sink, heart racing, hyperventilating as he sucked in huge gulps of air. His mind was awhirl, devastated at what he now knew his friend had been going through in his own home. Filled with self-blame and self-doubt for not seeing what was happening and doing something about it, he berated himself, which only served to exacerbate his panic.

Realizing what was going on, he reached in the base cabinet beside the sink and pulled out a paper bag. Balling his fist around the opening of the bag he brought it to his mouth, breathing the air within till his respirations slowed and heart rate returned to normal. Only then did he become aware of his mother, Katherine, sitting at the kitchen table staring at him, wide-eyed.

"Jonathan?" she asked, concern written in her voice and expression, "What's wrong?"

Still agitated he began heading for his room, "Got an email from Jordan, Mom. His dad's been beating him all these years."

By this time he was in the hallway, "I gotta read the rest of it. I'll let you know what else he says when I've finished," he hollered as he once again entered his room.

His heart filled with compassion as he read Jordan's words, describing his struggled to comprehend that which was incomprehensible. Tears came to his eyes as his friend told how much Jonathan's friendship meant to him, how much he'd come to care for him since they first met, and how the trip to Disneyland had solidified his regard for Jonathan.

"You've always been there for me Jon and what I am trying to say is that somewhere along the way I fell in love with you." ...I love your cute smile. I also think that you're incredibly hot..."

...He loves me? As in... what? ...cute smile...? he thinks I'm hot????? Oh, wow! Really? Cool! ...guess I'm glad somebody does...

"I know you probably find me disgusting right now..."

...Oh, see now... no, No, NO... See... that just ain't gonna happen. I... I... No!!!!

"...why do I feel so abandoned by God? Why hasn't he changed me like I've begged him to? ...Why can't I be normal like you?"

...Oh, my God! Jordan...!!! ...what kind of hell must you be living in...?

"That's why by the time you read this I'll probably be dead. I don't think I want to face living the rest of my life dreading hell in the hereafter. It'd be better to end it all right now and get on with it if that's the way things are going to be, than to spend the next sixty years living in that kind of fear."

Oh, Jordon... JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!! NO!!!

Panic was now filling Jonathan's heart as he continued reading, tears brimming from his eyes and spilling down his cheeks so thick he could no longer see to read.

Oh my God!!!!

"MOM! HELP!!! I need you... NOW!!! PLEASE!!!"

Within seconds Katherine entered the room on the run. As she did Jonathan hit the print icon on his phone and jumped from his bed pulling out the desk chair and gave her his phone, indicating she should sit as he pointed to the last sentences he'd read.

"He sent this like four hours ago, Mom! Call 911! I'm going over there! I'll email this to you." He informed her.

Jonathan quickly forwarded the email to his mom's account as Katherine picked up the landline phone from his desk to place the call.

He crossed to his dresser and pulled on a pair of sweats over his CK briefs. He jammed his feet into his running shoes. Grabbing the printout from the tray on his way past the desk he took off out of the room at a run, snagging a t-shirt on the way, and out the front door. He didn't yet have his driver's license so headed down the drive and onto the street at an easy lope. He'd made this run many times before but this time panic drove him onwards eating up block after block of the nineteen between his house and Jordan's.

By the time he'd gone five blocks, he could hear the sirens in the distance. His heart filled with panic as he contemplated what the emergency squad might find when they entered Jordan's room and his pace quickened, pushing himself to the limit of his ability.

Eventually, he rounded the corner into Jordan's block and saw the emergency vehicles; fire trucks, rescue rigs, police cars, parked helter-skelter in front of his friend's house, blocking the street, all with lights flashing. Men in uniform were visible, some looking officially busy, while others stood around, apparently with nothing to do.

Summoning his last bit of stamina, he bolted past all of them and up the front walk. Just as he was about to run through the open front door a very large police officer reached out and grabbed him around the waist, lifting him off his feet and arresting his forward progress.

"Whoa there, Champ! Not so fast!"

Jonathan had always been known by family and friends for assured demeanor under pressure, but when that burly officer prevented him from going to Jordan, he lost it. His face crinkled up, and the tears started to flow.

"But I have to see him!" he exclaimed, "I have to see him..." he trailed off, despair taking over his being as the tears flowed from his eyes, "I just wanted to see him..."

"Who did you want to see?" the officer asked kindly as he led his charge down the walk and back onto the street.

"Jordan... They beat him, you know? They abused him and destroyed his life. They've killed him..." Jonathan sniffed

The officer led him to a patrol car and opened the front passenger door, "Go ahead and slide on in there, and I'll join you then you can tell me what you know, Champ. Just hold on a few seconds while I go around the other side, okay?"

Jonathan slid into the patrol car while the officer got in on the driver's side, picked up his clipboard, and pulled a pen from his vest pocket. Over the next half hour, he answered Officer MacKenzie's questions and volunteered any information he thought might be useful. He gave him the printout of Jordan's email which the officer read through without comment and placed on the clipboard.

"Thankfully, your friend did not take his life last night, Jonathan," Officer MacKenzie said after he'd read the email, "The detectives are investigating what's been happening in the home that led up to this report being filed but I'm not on that team. I won't know any details till we debrief later back at the station. I can tell you that your friend is safe and currently speaking with Washington County CPS officers in the house. I can't tell you what the outcome of their investigation will be, but chances are he will be removed from the home at least on a temporary basis, pending the outcome of the investigation. I'd like to be able to tell you that you'll be allowed to talk to him this morning but realistically I'd encourage you not to get your hopes up. It's going to be all business as far as this investigation is concerned, and the CPS folks aren't going to be amenable to much in the way of visits until they've processed the case and made sure he's safe. You're welcome to sit here in the car or stand on the sidewalk across the street and wait if you wish. I've got some further work I need to do at this point so if you'll excuse me, I'll be getting to it.

The officer stepped from the car as did Jonathan who thanked him before moving to the sidewalk directly across from Jordan's home. Perhaps twenty minutes passed before he saw Jordan emerge from the front door accompanied by a man and a woman who took him to a white car with the Washington County logo on the door. The woman settled herself into the driver's seat while the man led Jordan around to the passenger side where he opened the front, passenger door for him, then climbed into the back seat himself.

Jonathan watched as all three buckled themselves in as the car started and slowly began pulling away from the curb. Jordan saw him standing there on the sidewalk. Their eyes met. Jonathan had never seen his friend looking so alone and beat down as he did at that moment. Each boy waved to the other, their eyes remaining locked till they could no longer see one another. When the car had vanished from view, Jonathan trudged homeward wondering when he'd get to see Jordan again.

His heart hurt, and his head was spinning as he tried to make sense of the events of the last ninety minutes. When he arrived home, he found a note from his mother telling him the hospital had called her to come in for a 48 hour on call shift. She wasn't required to work all those hours, but she had to be on the premises at all times, which meant that he wouldn't see her till Monday morning as he was preparing to leave for school, at the earliest. The news couldn't have come at a worse time because it left Jonathan with no transportation and no way of finding out what had happened to Jordan.

When he saw his mother again on Monday morning, she told him that she'd made some inquiries through her professional contacts, but had been unable to discover anything regarding Jordan's whereabouts. Jonathan was, of course, disappointed but she promised him she'd try to learn something while he was at school that day.

In discussing it further, they decided there was a possibility Jordan might actually be at school as usual. The thought brightened his morning, and he left the house for the bus with a lighter heart. His hopes were dashed however upon his arrival at school and Jordan was not standing in his usual place by the flowerpot under the entryway overhang.

The day dragged interminably from that point. Jonathan was unable to concentrate on his studies or class lectures. He was inattentive during phys ed and the coach marked him down on his attendance grade for the day due to his preoccupation.

At last the final bell rang and he was out the door like a shot barely pausing long enough to gather his books from his locker for his homework. He was impatient on the way home as it seemed the bus driver was dawdling at every opportunity and provocation. Upon arrival at his stop, he shot from the bus, up the drive and into the house.

"Mom!!! Where are you?" he yelled once he was in the door.

"Jon!" she said using her most stern "mother" voice. What have I told you about shouting in the house?"

"Sorry, Mom." he apologized, kissing her on the cheek. "Have you heard anything about Jordan? Where is he? Can we go see him? Can we maybe get a foster license so he can come here and stay with us?" He rattled on, anxious to hear what she'd learned.

"Jon, Sweetie, you need to settle down, okay? Why don't we sit in the family room and talk?" she said patting his cheek and ruffling his blond curls, "Go take care of your things and change your clothes and meet me in there, okay?"

Ten minutes later they were both seated in the family room sipping on a can of soda while Katherine prepared to tell him what she'd discovered. It took only a glance at the set of her mouth that the news he'd been hoping to receive was not what he was going to hear.

"Jonathan, Sweetie," She said sympathetically, "I wish I had better news for you but I don't. All I've been able to find out is that yesterday evening relatives of Jordan's took him to live with them in another state. Washington County will give me no information, now or ever, as to their identity or his whereabouts. Do you know of any relatives he might have gone to live with?"

Jonathan shook his head trying to recall anything Jordan may have said about relatives and, sadly, came up blank. Finally he looked up at his mother, completely defeated.

"One thing I was able to determine, son, is that his placement with these relatives is permanent. What that means is that he's gone. We don't know where and we don't know with whom. Short of hiring a private detective there's nothing more we can do, and we don't have the funds for that. I think our options are pretty much nonexistent outside of hoping that he contacts you or replies to any of your messages to him. I assume you've heard nothing back?"

Jonathan shook his head in the negative.

"I know of nothing else to do. I'm so sorry."

Jonathan hung his head and sniffed as his mother moved over on the couch beside him offering a hug which he gladly accepted. After a few minutes he rose and told her he was going to his room to do his homework.

He moved absently through the work completing it as best he could under the circumstances. As he worked, his mind drifted back to the email he'd received. In it, Jordan had come out as gay, and confessed his love for Jonathan. Far from being disgusted he actually felt good about it. Apart from that, however, his primary concern was for Jordan's happiness and wellbeing. He hoped that his friend would find the love he needed and deserved, but was also at a loss because it felt like a huge hole had been ripped in his chest and he didn't understand it at all. Jordan had become his closest friend, sure, but somehow it felt like the loss he was feeling went beyond what it logically should have.

He went through the motions of dinner with his mom and television after that. When bedtime arrived, he hugged and kissed her goodnight and headed for his room. Sleep was elusive. He tossed and turned, grieving the loss of his friend and, at the same time, hoping that, for Jordan, this was the beginning of brighter days. As he lay there, he decided to get up a few minutes early in the morning and shoot off yet another email to Jordan's address in the hopes that it would reach him. He knew of nothing else to do. When he finally fell asleep that night, it was with a determination that somehow, someway, someday he'd find his friend. He'd keep searching no matter how long it took.

Twenty-two months went by. Jonathan had all but given up any hope when one Sunday morning he and his mother were sitting at breakfast. He was texting with a friend. She was absently reading the Sunday Oregonian.

"Do you have any plans for today, Jon?"

"No, not really," He replied meeting her eye over the top of her paper, "Why do you ask?"

Before she could answer him, a headline on the back side of her newspaper caught his eye. Curious, he leaned closer, across the table scanning the short article while she spoke.

Later that day he contacted a family friend.

Stay tuned for Part III

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