Subject: The Hunters, chapter 22 The Hunters – Chapter 22 Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction which features sexual activity between teenage boys, as well as between teenage boys and adults. If you do not want to read such a story, or it is illegal for you to do so because of your age or where you live, then I recommend you go read something else instead. Feedback is very welcome. So, if you are enjoying this story, please do drop me an email at hoo If you can, please support Nifty with a financial donation – whatever you can afford – so that this archive of stories can remain free and available. Just go to fty/ *** Two hours later, Jon returned home, still fuming from his argument with Josh. What was Josh’s problem? Why couldn’t he see that Jon wasn’t trying to replace Will or to outdo Josh? Yes, he’d started going to the gym and had smartened up his image, but he wasn’t trying to copy Josh or be a clone of him. He just wanted to fit in; wanted to look like he was part of the family. So why did Josh suddenly want rid of him? He looked up at the apartment; the apartment Timothy and Jennifer had bought for him to live in. The apartment his parents had bought for him; his and Josh’s parents. Suddenly, he remembered the look on Josh’s face on Christmas morning when their parents had announced they had bought the apartment. Jen and Tim hadn’t noticed, but Jon had. At the time, he had shrugged it off as his brother simply being surprised. But not anymore; now he knew exactly what it was: a look of pure jealousy. As Jon stood there, he found himself looking forward to September, when he would start at Josh’s school. At that moment, he made a vow to himself to do well when he got there: ace his exams, get on the football team, maybe even become Head Boy. It would be perfect. That way, Josh would be forced every day to watch the twin he had tried to discard outshine him at every turn. Surely, that was no more than Josh deserved after what he’d said to Jon earlier. Jon felt used and betrayed. After such a betrayal there was no way he could forgive Josh. When his uncle had forced him into foster care he had thought he understood what betrayal really meant. Now he knew he had been mistaken. Before entering the block of apartments, he checked his post-box. There was just one letter. It looked official. After climbing the stairs, he made his way into the apartment and looked at the envelope in his hand again. Though it could probably wait until the morning, his curiosity was piqued. He opened it. It was a letter from the lawyers handling his grandmother’s estate; not that there was any estate to speak of, just the odds and ends she had had with her at the home, and which were now stored in a box in one of Jon’s cupboards. But the letter mentioned another, written by his grandmother a few years earlier before her memory started to fade, which she had instructed them to forward only after she was dead. He reached inside the envelope and found a smaller one with his name upon it. He recognised his grandmother’s handwriting. Sitting down on the corner sofa in the spacious living room, he tore it open and began to read: `Dear Jonathan, This isn’t an easy letter for me to write. A part of me doesn’t want to write it at all. It’s true what they say; what we don’t know can’t hurt us. But sometimes, in spite of the pain, we can feel grateful for having been told. Do you remember when you were nine years old and your parents took you and your sister to London? It was the first time you had ever been there. Your father took the two of you to the National Gallery. You brought me back a beautiful print of `The Fighting Temeraire’ by JMW Turner as a present. Turner has always been my favourite painter. You and your father hung it in my living room for me. Do you remember that? Your mother wasn’t with you at the gallery. She wanted to take you and your sister for tea at the Savoy just as her parents had taken her when she was a girl. She had gone on ahead to reserve a table…’ *** … The tea room wasn’t as crowded as Rebecca Wilson had feared. As the waiter showed her to her seat, she counted nearly half a dozen empty tables. She smiled to herself, remembering how her husband Paul teased her for being such a worrier. As always, he was right. The waiter offered her a menu. She explained that her family would be joining her shortly. To pass the time she lara kendi evi olan escort looked about her, thinking how much smaller it was then she remembered, before recalling that she had only been eight years old at the time. An elderly couple sat at the next table, both expensively dressed. The woman smiled and asked if she was from London. Rebecca explained that she was from a town called Belmont near Bolton. “My family and I are just visiting for the day.” “So are we,” the woman told her. “We’re from Warwickshire.” “That’s a lovely part of the world. Are you here sightseeing?” “If only,” the man said, ruefully. “It’s a half term treat for our grandsons,” the woman explained. “We were planning to take them to a museum but all they wanted was to go to Leicester Square and see some science fiction film.” Again the woman smiled. “They’re a pair of Philistines.” “My son is the same. He’s at the National Gallery with my husband and daughter but I’m sure he’d rather be at the cinema too.” “How old is your son?” the man asked. “He’s nine,” Rebecca answered. The woman beamed. “The same age as our grandsons.” “They’re both nine?” Noticing something, the woman began to wave. Following her gaze, Mary saw a handsome blonde boy stride across the room towards them. For a moment, she was sure she knew him, before realising he bore a striking resemblance to her nephew, Nick, except slightly younger, better looking, and with a much warmer expression. As the boy approached, Rebecca gave him a smile and received a lovely one in return. “This is William,” said the woman. “William, this is… I’m sorry, dear; I don’t know your name.” “It’s Rebecca. Rebecca Wilson.” William offered her his hand. “Hello, Mrs Wilson.” “Hello, William. I’m pleased to meet you.” “Where’s Joshua?” asked the man. “Still in the cloakroom,” William told him. “He’s being a real tart. He’s trying on all the aftershaves.” The man laughed. “William, don’t call your brother a tart,” the woman said. “Well, he is! He’s going to stink.” “He’s not the only one.” The woman grimaced. “Oh, William, how much of that stuff are you wearing?” “Loads. They were giving it out free.” William grinned at Rebecca. “I gather you and your brother are both nine,” she said. He nodded. “We’re twins.” “How wonderful. My son Jonathan is nine too. When’s your birthday?” “Christmas Day.” “Good heavens! That’s Jonathan’s birthday too.” “Well, what a coincidence,” the woman exclaimed. “Funnily enough, the boys were born in Bolton.” “Really? Which hospital?” “St Luke’s. I think that’s what it was called.” The woman thought for a moment. “Yes, I’m sure it was.” Rebecca was about to tell her that Jonathan had been born there too, when the very person entered the room. She opened her mouth to call out a greeting, until she saw that he wasn’t wearing the same clothes as he had been an hour ago, that his hair was shorter, and that he was waving not at her, but at the elderly couple. “There’s Joshua now,” the woman said. Rebecca blinked, as if trying to correct her vision. When she opened her eyes, however, it was still Jonathan that she saw. Suddenly, she was back in the maternity ward, waiting for Jonathan to be born. Her labour had started prematurely and she had been frightened for his safety. She remembered a nurse telling her there was nothing to be worried about, that her new baby would be fine. “There’s a woman down the corridor having twins,” the nurse had told her. “Now that’s where the problems can lie. They’ll be the first set of twins born here in months, so it’s a red letter day for us.” Rebecca’s heart stopped. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe. The boy Joshua was talking about the film he had just seen. He had Jonathan’s voice, but not his accent. He had some of Jonathan’s gestures, yet did them differently. Momentarily, he turned and stared at her. His eyes were blank, as if looking at a stranger… which, of course, she was. The air came rushing back. She gave a gasp. Joshua and his grandparents didn’t notice, but William did. He gave her an anxious look; this handsome stranger who looked like her nephew’s younger brother. She turned back to Joshua, desperate to believe this was just some chance resemblance, but unable to do so. He and Jonathan were clones of each other. They were identical; identical twins. The hospital lara otele gelen escort must have mixed them up. That was the only possible explanation. And that mean that William could be hers… was hers. The shock was too great. She couldn’t take it in. All she could do was leave. As she crossed the room, she heard the woman call out, but she just kept going. Reaching the entrance of the hotel, she rested her head against the door. Through it, she could see men in uniform helping people in and out of taxis. It all looked so normal, only it wasn’t. For her, nothing would ever be normal again. “Excuse me, Mrs Wilson.” William stood in front of her, holding her handbag. “You forgot this,” he told her. She took it from him. He turned to leave. She told herself to let him go, that if she couldn’t see him, she could try and pretend he didn’t exist. But she couldn’t; not like that, not without knowing… “William.” He turned back. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Your surname, I mean?” “Hunter.” “It’s a nice name.” “Thanks. Wilson’s nice too.” “Do you really think so?” “Yes.” “I’m glad,” she said. “Is it nice being a twin?” He rolled his eyes. She felt alarmed. “You don’t like it?” “No, it’s fun. You’ve always got someone to play with.” “Like a best friend?” “Yes.” “What are your parents like? Are they nice?” “Yes. Well, Mum is. Dad is too, but he’s always working. He’s an actuary.” “Do you want to be an actuary when you grow up?” “Dad wants me to.” “But what about you? What do you want?” “I dunno.” He glanced towards the tea room. “I’d better go.” Again, she told herself to let him go. Again, she found she couldn’t. “Do you like your life, William?” she asked him. “Are you happy being you?” He laughed. “Are you?” she repeated. “Yes. Yes, I am.” “I’m glad. Goodbye, William. It’s been a privilege to meet you. It really has.” For a moment, he just stared at her. Then, suddenly, he leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. “Goodbye,” he said, before running back to the tea room. She walked out into the concourse, heading towards the street. She kept waiting for the tears, but they didn’t come. Instead, she just felt numb. As she reached the street, she saw her husband standing on the corner. Her legs threatened to collapse beneath her. She couldn’t bear to see Jonathan; not after what she now knew. Her husband ran towards her. He looked upset. She tried to pull herself together. She couldn’t have him asking questions. He adored Jonathan, just as she did. The truth would kill him, just as it was killing her. “Jonathan’s gone missing,” he told her. She nodded, telling herself that she was going to be strong and that she was not going to fall to pieces. Then reality kicked in. “He’s what?” she asked. “He was with us in the gallery and then he just disappeared. We looked all over for him.” Again, her heart stopped. Again, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. “We looked everywhere,” her daughter Debbie told her, on the point of tears. “Mum, I’m scared.” “It’s all right, darling. It’s going to be all right. It’s going…” A series of horrific images flooded her brain: Jonathan in the back of a car screaming for her; Jonathan being molested; Jonathan being found dead… “He just disappeared,” her husband told her again. “He can’t have just disappeared, you stupid man! Someone’s taken him.” She turned on her husband, pounding his chest with her fists. “God, what were you thinking? How could you let him out of your sight? How could you let this happen?” “Mum!” It was Debbie again. “There he is!” Jonathan was marching up the street towards them, eating a hotdog with his trademark, impish grin plastered across his face. Letting out a cry of relief, she ran towards him. “Hi, Mum. I’ve been in Trafalgar Square. One of the pigeons pooed on a Japanese tourist. It nearly pooed on me too…” “How could you just wander off like that?” she screamed. “Do you know how frightened we’ve been? Do you?” He opened his mouth to speak. She slapped his face. He dropped his hot dog and burst into tears. Suddenly, she felt it; the most powerful emotion known to man: the all consuming rush of maternal love. Wrapping her arms around him, she covered his face in kisses, telling him she was sorry, that she had only hit him because she had been frightened, making him promise that lara rus escort he would never ever wander off again, while raising a silent prayer of thanks. She had him back: her Jonathan; her baby; the son that she would gladly die for; the only son that she would ever want. *** `… At first your mother vowed she would never tell anyone. But, eventually, she realised that your father had a right to know. She told him six months later, when you and Debbie were away on a school residential. She wanted him to have time to come to terms with the news, which he did. It didn’t change anything for him. You must believe that. He loved you just as much as he ever did. You were always his son, just as you were always hers, and just as you were always my grandson too. I know I should have told you all of this when they died. I want to say I didn’t because I was frightened the truth would confuse you, only I’d be lying. I kept silent because I was weak and selfish. You were the only family I had left, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you too. Your real family are called Hunter. They live just outside Manchester. Your twin is called Joshua and the boy they took instead of you is called William. I know it’s not much, but it should be enough. You could find them if you wanted. I’m sure you could. If you’re reading this letter then I’m now dead. I want to thank you for being the best grandson any woman could ever have. When your family died, I thought I’d never get over it, but I did, and it was all down to you. You gave me the strength to keep on going. That’s something your mother always said about you: that you had far more strength inside you than you ever realised. I think you’re going to need it more than ever to cope with this, but I know you’ll find it, just as you always do. Be happy my darling. God bless you. Try not to judge me too harshly. All my love for ever. Gran.’ For a long time after he had finished reading, Jon just stared at the letter, watching the words blur in front of his eyes. `She knew. All this time, she knew!’ He couldn’t control it. Hatred for his grandmother surged through him. How could she have kept the truth from him for so many years? If she’d only had the courage to be honest, he could have avoided having to live with his uncle and aunt. He could have avoided foster care. He could have reclaimed his identity. He could have grown up in a luxurious home. He could have had a first class education. She had stolen all that from him, and he could never forgive her! On the table beside him was a framed photograph of his family, taken when he was only three. He was sitting on his mother’s knee while his sister sat on her father’s, and his grandmother stood behind them. She was smiling at the camera. The hate became unbearable. Reaching for the picture, he prepared to hurl it against the wall. As he grasped it between his fingers, he saw his face reflected in the glass. Only it wasn’t his face; it belonged to someone else, someone no one in the photograph would have recognised. Someone who had happily watched Will being expelled from a family he had always believed was his. Someone who was planning to rule the world and enjoy watching Josh suffer as he did so. His parents and sister were smiling too. He could feel the love coming out of the frame. Had the mix-up at the hospital not happened, he would never have known them. They would have been strangers he might pass in the street without a second look. It was hard to imagine, but it wouldn’t have been hard to live with. After all, how could he miss people he had never known? Except that he would have missed them. They had been his life; they still were. They knew the truth, but it didn’t change how they had felt about him, how much they loved him; just as it didn’t change how much he still loved them back… even his grandmother. Suddenly, the hatred was gone. In its place was understanding… forgiveness… peace. `I am Jonathan Wilson,’ he told himself. `That’s not who I was born, but that is who I am. And I am grateful for that.’ When he thought of what he was turning into, he felt ashamed. Had his mother been there, she would have been ashamed too. The realisation hurt. Even though she was dead, her good opinion still mattered. The fact that she had not given birth to him didn’t change the fact that she would always be his mother. No one could ever take her place. His knuckles were sore from when he had punched Josh. Again he felt ashamed, remembering the things he had said and wishing with all his heart that he could take them back. He didn’t want to hurt Josh. He didn’t want to hurt anyone. All he wanted was to put things right. With understanding came clarity. He now knew what he had to do. 7

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