Chapter 3: Heart of the Matter

Fifteen minutes after I called Gabe, I stood face to face with the one person who knew who I was as both Alan and Adam. Gabe and I knew each other from church. He and his mother moved in with his grandfather, the church's senior pastor, when he was twelve when his dad died from cancer. Because of this, raised under the watchful eye of his grandfather, he gained a strong talent of perception, and always knew when people lied. I don't how else to explain it. It was only a short time after we started to get to know each other that he confronted me. He saw through my facade, and called me out. Left with no choice, I explained who I was, what I had done, and why I had done it. I feared he would rat me out, but he didn't. Showing grace that I had never felt before. He gave me a hug, told me he understood, and from that day on, he was my best and closest friend while I had been hiding.

His brown eyes showed concern, and I knew immediately he had seen the message the Hood had sent over the airwaves, "Alan...I just saw it, I think almost everyone in the entire world did. I just switched to the news, and they found that it was a complete take over of the airwaves. They have no idea how they did it! I know it probably takes serious hacking technology of global satellites and TV stations, but they haven't been able to track the signal! I honestly don't know how I will be able to help you, these guys are way out there...unless...no..." and he trailed off as soon as he saw my face change to one of guilt, and he immediately knew what I planned to do, "Alan you are not sacrificing yourself!"

Expressing my loss of will. I really had given up at this point, "Gabe, I have to. They've got Tin-Tin. I have family problems, and they caused me to leave her, but she shouldn't have to pay the price because I brought him down back when I was a kid. I-I have to-"

The pastor's grandson stared me down, a stern glare on his normally relaxed face, "Dude, do not dare finish that sentence or else I will tie you up to your office chair, and then sit on you so you won't run! None of this is your fault, so don't give yourself up because you blame yourself for her being captured! Knowing him he'll probably just kill her to spite you if you do..." and I shuddered at the thought knowing that what Gabe said was true. I may have left her behind, but I couldn't deny the crush that I had on her.

Desperate, I replied, "Well then what do you want me to do?! Just let her stay captured for the sake of my own safety?"

He took a deep breath, and I knew immediately that he was going to say something I wasn't going to want to hear, "Alan...I think you need to go back..." as expected I became absolutely furious.

My expected response was to jump up from the sofa, and attempt at bursting the twenty year old's ear drums, "WHAT?! NO WAY!"

Not fazed in the slightest, Gabe simply responded, "Alan, seriously...your family has the resources, you have the know how in order to find her. You really should go back!"

Regardless of reasoning, I was ticked at Gabe even suggesting that, no matter what I was thinking only fifteen minutes earlier, "There is absolutely no way I am EVER going back! They decided that they didn't want me in their life, so why in the world should I return the favor?!"

He answered me quietly, no anger at all in his tone despite the fact that I had gotten angry, "Because as much as you want to deny it, their approval is still what you desire most..." at that I honestly did not know what to say for a moment, but then I exploded into illogical anger.

"Shut the hell up Gabe! What do you know about anything regarding my family?!"

"Uh...pretty much everything..." Glaring at him, he merely glared right back, and he then continued as if I hadn't done anything.

"Don't deny it Alan. Alan I haven't said anything regarding your family problems because I didn't know really what to do. When I first met you, you were hurt emotionally. You were angry. You were aloof. You struggle even now with self righteousness and pride by holding onto this grudge with your family."

At this I went ballistic. I couldn't believe he would even think about calling me out on anything, "ME self righteous?! I've had to put up with bullying and teasing all my life! THEY DIDN'T CARE ABOUT ME! THEY NEVER NEEDED ME OR WANTED ME! NOTHING I EVER DID WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM!"

The brown haired twenty year old simply shook his head sadly, "You know that's not true. If that's the case why has your father spent the last three years looking for you? Whenever he talks about you in the news, he sounds guilty and upset. He wants you back."

Crossing my arms, I turned away, I fully intended to walk away from him at that, "He still didn't care back then, when it mattered!" but his next words stopped me.

"Then why do you refuse to forgive them, and give them another chance? Why does it not matter now?"

I turned back to face him, and I answered lamely, "Because nothing will change!"

"And how do you know that? If you never give them another chance, nothing will! And you still haven't answered my second question..." and I honestly still couldn't answer him because deep in my heart, as much as I hated to admit it, it still mattered to me.

Confirming my thoughts as if he read my mind, "It does matter to you...as much as you don't want to admit it. It matters and always has mattered to you, but because you are being stubborn you don't want to let it go."

At this, when I answered, my voice sounded broken, and I was at the point of becoming a sobbing mess, "Why should I? They hurt me so much Gabe..."

Coming up to me, he laid a hand on my shoulder, and he looked at me with a piercing stare, "And you think I get along with my family all the time? Granted, I will admit that my situation has never has been as bad as yours, but look at your life Alan! You are constantly lying about who you are and where you come from! You lie everyday to Tom, to the church, to my family, to your neighbors, and pretty much the entire world being Adam! I am one of the few people, if not the only person who knows you as Alan and Adam! Regardless of your reasoning, you're lying to people who have put their trust in you! Who care for you! Are you going to have that for the rest of your life?!" I shrugged off his arm, and walked a few steps away. He really was wearing me down with his speech.

"What about years from now when you have a girlfriend and get married, do you want your kids to be denied half of their family? Are you going to deny your wife the truth because you can't let go?" Frankly, I hadn't even thought that far ahead. I wanted to remain hidden forever, but the more I listened to him, the more I couldn't walk away.

"What about if your dad dies? Do you want the last words you said to him to be "I hate you!"? I know you... you would regret it even if you don't want to admit it now, but you would regret it! Could you live with yourself with that regret?" At that, I froze. I honestly didn't think of that. Gabe always had this ability of seeing the bigger picture. He was wise beyond his years, and it always could use it to set you straight.

Desperately, I replied as tears fell from my eyes, "Then what do you want me to do?! Don't you see that I can never go back! I..." I had no idea what he was thinking at my reaction. This was years and years of hurt finally being released. This was the hurt that I caused to my family by running away. How could I forgive them? How could they possibly forgive me? A few moments passed in silence as Gabe just stared in silence.

Finally, Gabe asked, "Alan...is Tin-Tin's life worth more to you than this grudge?"

At this, I was irritated again, "You are not being fair!"

And my pastor's grandson rolled his eyes at this, "And guess what? Life ain't fair. People get hurt. People hate. People are illogical. We do stupid stuff, and stupid stuff happens to us. You have to roll with the punches, and when you're knocked down, you have to get back up."

I pouted at this, and looked away,"That's not what I meant..."

Gabe sighed, "Do you understand why I asked you this then? You told me that Tin-Tin had always supported you..."

"Yes."

Raising an eyebrow at this, Gabe continued, "And you would do anything to keep her safe, right?"

"Yeah."

He laid his arm on my shoulder again, "Then go...if not for them, for her...I can't convince you to forgive your family, even though that's something I feel that you need to do, but Tin-Tin doesn't deserve being abandoned when she did nothing wrong..."

Finally, realizing that he was right, I replied in resignation, "I can't believe I'm doing this...fine. I'll go..."

Gabe smirked at this, glad that I finally came around, "And I will be going with you."

Frozen at this statement, I shook my head in the negative,"Uh-uh! No way!" There was no way, I was going to allow him to come along. I was not going to risk both his and my neck for however long this was going to take.

"Yes way because someone has to watch your back!" he slapped my shoulder and he grinned.

I protested, trying to think of a reason to get him to back down on his offer, "But what about school and work?"

He shrugged, "School's out, remember? I'm not taking summer classes, and my mom and grandpa will understand. They won't like it, but they'll understand. I'm not gonna tell them everything, but I will tell them I have to do this. Alan, you are not going in this alone. I won't let you." He smiled encouragingly, and I finally relented. Gabe would have made a great Tracy, he had the stubbornness down perfectly.

Finally, I breathed out a sigh, "Okay...let's do this."


Two hours later, Gabe and I made our way to downtown Pittsburgh. I could sense that the city was on high alert from the global airwave takeover. The police were out in force, and it reminded me of when I was really little when 9/11 happened. Nobody died from the Hood's attack, but everyone's sense of safety and privacy had been seriously violated. It was even worse when we got to the Tracy Enterprises R&D building. Security had been tighter than I had ever seen at any of the other offices that I had been to before.

As Gabe and I walked up to the front desk of R&D, security stopped us, "Stop! Only employee's are allowed inside right now! I know all of them personally, so I suggest that you turn around and walk away!"

Pulling something out from my pocket, "I'm Alan Tracy...and I need to speak to my dad. If he wants to talk to me about this whole situation, he's going to need my help, and yes I can prove it to you."

The Head of Security knew immediately it was a Master ID, which was only held by my dad, my brothers, Brains, me, and a select few executives which basically gave us unlimited access regarding the various Tracy offices, "That's...!?"

Pointing to Gabe who stood by me, in our united front, "He's with me. Get my dad on a secure line, and tell him if he wants anything to do with me in the future, I suggest that he drops what he's doing and comes here now. Tell him this is his last chance...or otherwise, he can forget ever seeing me again..."

The Security guards there looked at me in shock. Then seeing that I was serious, the Head of Security (Officer Dave) walked over to the phone and dialed the head administrator, "Sir...I need you to get Mr. Tracy to come to Pittsburgh. His son Alan is here..."