A/N: I own nothing, except for Aiden Novotny. Too bad, because I wish I had Ben and Emmett around.

Prologue- The Early Years

April 10th, 1980.

Aiden followed Michael out into the playground.

It was recess time. Aiden loved recess. Recess meant playing on the monkey bars and hanging upside down. She would sometimes attempt to do it the entire length of recess, and Michael would join her.

Today was no different as the two siblings hung upside down and stared at the sky.


It happened ten minutes later. Aiden had found a birds' nest the day before and wanted to see if it was still around.

"Wait up," said Michael.

They were chasing each other towards the location when Aiden realized Michael was no longer behind her.

"Leave me alone, Terry!" Michael yelled.

Aiden ran towards Michael's yelling to find Terry, a third grader known for bullying classmates, beating her twin brother up.

"Leave him alone, Terry!" Aiden yelled. "Stop it or I'll punch you in the nose!"

Terry laughed. Aiden then made good on her threat and punched him in the nose.


"This is the second time they've been involved in a fight," said the principal. "I have no choice but to suspend them both for three days."

"Michael did nothing wrong! And Aiden was only defending her brother!" Debbie yelled. "What about that Terry kid? What have you done about him?!"

"He will also be suspended for three days but boys will be boys, Ms. Novotny," said the principal.


"I'm sorry Ma," said Aiden.

"You did what you had to do to protect your brother," said Debbie.

"Will you be in trouble at work?" asked Michael.

"No. I called your uncle Vic. He'll be looking after the two of you until you're both allowed back in school," said Debbie.

When Vic arrived later that night, Debbie went back to the Liberty Diner to pick up an extra shift while Michael and Aiden watched Lady and the Tramp with their uncle.


August 8th, 1981.

Aiden wasn't sure what woke her up, but she noticed Michael walking around the hallway.

"We're supposed to sleeping. What are you doing?" Aiden whispered.

"I'm running away," Michael whispered.

"Why?" Aiden whispered.

Michael didn't answer. He was too busy sticking some comic books in his backpack.

"I'm coming with you," said Aiden.

"No you're not," said Michael.

"Yes I am," said Aiden. "You're my twin brother. We're doing this together."

Aiden quickly put some clothes on and grabbed her walkman. She went to the back door in the kitchen to find Michael waiting.

After leaving home they followed the train tracks and found an abandoned boxcar. Michael smiled. He could picture Captain Astro using it as a hideout.

The twins climbed into the boxcar. After Michael shut the door, they found a corner and fell asleep.


July 4th, 1983.

Aiden and Michael couldn't be happier.

Debbie had gotten a few days off work and had decided to take the twins to Atlantic City. Vic had joined them. Aiden was excited to see her uncle. He always had stories about his life in New York City and the people who lived there.

"I want to swim," said Aiden. "Michael, you coming?"

Michael burped.

"How much taffy did you eat?" said Aiden.

"Not sure," said Michael.

"I'll race you to the ocean," said Aiden.

The twins began running. They hadn't even gotten to the beach yet when Michael vomited. Chunks of taffy barely missed Aiden's feet.

"Gross!" Aiden yelled.

"I'm never eating taffy again," Michael muttered.

Aiden rolled her eyes.


August 30th, 1983.

Michael put his lunch into his locker, still shocked at what Aiden had done.

She had gotten up early that morning and used enough hairspray to tease her hair bigger than the wigs Michael had seen the drag queens wearing in Liberty Diner.

"Why did you do that?" said Michael.

"All the girls are doing it, Michael. It's the style now," said Aiden. "You look just as silly with that mullet."

"Uncle Vic has a mullet," said Michael.

Aiden laughed.

The bell rang, signaling the start of homeroom. Everyone ran to their assigned classrooms so attendance could be taken. The teacher was calling names when a boy the same age as the twins walked in. He had a mullet as well.

"You're late," said the teacher.

The boy rolled his eyes and sat down behind Michael and Aiden.

"I'm Brian. Brian Kinney," said the boy. "Are you two twins?"

"Yeah," said Michael. "I'm Michael, this is my sister Aiden."

"Least you two aren't dressed alike… that's so annoying," said Brian.

The three of them laughed.


October 4th, 1985.

"Now I know what I hate about high school," said Aiden.

"What?" said Michael.

"Biology," said Aiden. "I think we're supposed to dissect frogs today. Yuck!"

Brian laughed.

"Let me… entertain you both," Brian whispered.

Michael and Aiden both laughed as Michael blushed from the innuendo.

"Aiden! Over here!" said a voice.

Aiden rolled her eyes. It was Gina Moreno, the class gossip.

"Be my partner?" said Gina.

"Sure," said Aiden.

They sat at a table across from Michael and Brian, who had been partnering up together since the beginning of the year for the weekly experiments that were required to pass the class.

Brian and Gina readied the test tubes while Aiden and Michael began the unpleasant task of dissecting their assigned frogs.

"This is so gross," said Gina.

"I know," said Michael.

Aiden stabbed her assigned frog. Formaldehyde oozed everywhere.

"AHH!" Gina wailed.

Brian laughed then pursed his lips. Aiden noticed one of Brian's hands was under the table.

"Michael… test tube," said Brian.

Michael handed Brian a test tube. His eyes widened.

"What are you doing, Brian?" said Gina.

Aiden and Michael exchanged a look and snickered. Brian then brought up the test tube and put it back in the test tube rack. The test tube was filled with Brian's sperm.

"Holy shit! Michael, did he really just do what I think he did?" asked Aiden.

"Yeah," said Michael and Brian.

"EW! What is that?!" Gina wailed.

Aiden, Michael, and Brian burst into laughter as Gina ran out of the classroom.


July 4th, 1986.

Aiden was camped out with her mother and brother at the annual fireworks show along with scores of people who lived on Liberty Avenue. Other people from Pittsburgh were there too, but Aiden and everyone else from Liberty Avenue usually ignored the breeders.

After all, the breeders had voted Reagan into office. Debbie and Aiden weren't happy with how he was handling the AIDS crisis.

"Constitutional rights, my ass," said Aiden. "The longer Reagan stays quiet about AIDS, the more people that are gonna die from it."

Michael listened to Aiden as she handed him a sparkler.

"You look nervous… crap it's cuz I sound like Mom! I'm sorry," said Aiden.

Michael laughed.

"It's not that… really," said Michael. "Mom, Aiden and I are going for a walk."

The twins took off, watching a couple teenagers skateboarding to a nearby snack booth.

"What is it, Michael? What's wrong?" asked Aiden.

"Nothing's wrong," said Michael.

"Then why are you so nervous? Did the pollen cause your asthma to flare up? That's why I needed my medication adjusted a couple months ago," said Aiden.

Michael sighed. Both of them had been born with asthma. They had their good days and their bad days. He worried about Aiden more than himself because she was a student athlete.

She was on the crew team at Shadyside High School and was good at it. She could probably get a scholarship and make something of herself.

"I have to tell you something," said Michael.

"Sure," said Aiden.

"I… I'm gay," said Michael. "I like guys."

"I've known since you were ten," said Aiden. "Any boyfriends I should know about?"

"I like Brian," said Michael.

"And Brian's trying to go through all the guys at Shadyside High," said Aiden. "I don't care who you love, I just don't want to see you hurt."

"I'm glad you're okay with it," said Michael. "Let's get a snack."

"Alright," said Aiden.

They got in line for some fried dough and made fun of the breeders.


January 10th, 1987.

"What is that?" asked Michael.

"I know what it is – it's gross," Aiden joked.

Brian laughed. For someone without a cock, she had a good sense of humor.

"I have finally invented… synthetic cum," said Brian.

"What are you gonna do with it?" asked Michael.

"Put it in the teacher's lounge," said Brian.

"No way," said Aiden. "You'll need the keys."

"I've seen you pick locks, it's not that hard," said Brian. "Don't you have crew practice today?"

"Yeah," said Aiden.

"Then the two of you can leave me to my mischief," said Brian.

"Brian!" Michael and Aiden yelled.

Brian snickered and walked away.

January 11th, 1987.

Aiden and Michael were walking to class when Gina Moreno ran up to them.

"You guys! You will not believe what happened yesterday! Someone spread some sort of glue all over the toilet in the teacher's lounge!" said Gina. "Mrs. Renfroe sat on it this morning… she's still stuck on it!"

Gina ran off to tell someone else. Aiden and Michael snickered at what Brian's mischief had caused.


October 11th, 1987.

The minute Aiden got home from school, she knew something was wrong.

Debbie had taken a few days off work to go to a protest and march in Washington. Brian had used the opportunity to bring a suitcase to the house and camp out in a sleeping bag in Michael's room. Judging from the black eye Aiden had seen on Brian's face when he arrived, she surmised that his father had hit him.

The two boys were nowhere to be seen, so Aiden went into the kitchen.

Instead she saw her uncle sitting on the couch in the TV room.

"They took off," said Vic. "Not sure where."

"Uncle Vic!" said Aiden.

She ran into the TV room and gave her uncle a hug.

"What are you doing here?" asked Aiden. "Mom was so mad when she realized you weren't going to Washington to march!"

"I wanted to see you and Michael," said Vic.

"I'm glad," said Aiden. "Is something wrong?"

"No… yes… don't tell your mother. I don't want her to know… yet," said Vic.

Aiden could feel the color drain from her face. Something was wrong – very wrong.

"What's going on?" asked Aiden.

"It's nothing," said Vic.

"No it isn't," said Aiden. "I know something's wrong if you don't want Ma to know."

"I have it," said Vic.

Aiden was about to ask what he meant as she took a long look at her uncle, when the truth suddenly hit her.

He was thin. He had dropped a lot of weight since she had last seen him – that had been in Christmas. He also hadn't shown up for her last rowing match of the season, claiming he was down with the flu.

That had happened in May… which meant this wasn't the flu.

"How… how long have you known?" asked Aiden.

"Five months," said Vic. "Couldn't keep up with the restaurant… went to three different doctors before I was diagnosed but I haven't progressed to AIDS… yet. Been sick off and on trying to adjust to the drugs… finally felt up to visiting."

"Does Michael know?" Aiden whispered.

"No," said Vic.

Aiden gave her uncle a hug.

It was the only thing she knew she could do for him right now.

January 11th-18th, 1989.

Nearly four years of rowing on the Shadyside High School's crew team and taking AP courses with money she had earned from tutoring other students, looking after people's pets or kids, and selling jewelry she had begun making her freshman year of high school.

It was all beginning to pay off. Not only was she the current captain of the crew team, but her coach had informed her that scouts were sniffing around.

She wound up getting visits at home from people claiming to be from Duke and Boston College, and she was in disbelief.

Unfortunately, not everyone reacted with positive encouragement.


"I can't believe you're doing this!" Debbie yelled.

"I want to go to college, Ma!" said Aiden.

"You'll do perfectly fine going to community college and getting a job at the Big Q like Michael," said Debbie. "Your home is here on Liberty Avenue, not a residence hall with a bunch of homophobic snobs!"

"I won't do 'perfectly fine' at the Big Q. That's not who I am," said Aiden. "I can go to college on a full ride. I've worked hard for this."

April 15th, 1989.

The last three months had found Aiden studying like her life depended on it, and going through colleges with Brian – he had applied to several schools as well. He was almost 18 as well, and was beginning the process of moving his few possessions to the Novotny residence after he had put up with his parents for the last time.

"They won't accept that I'm gay, and neither will my sister. No point in telling them," said Brian.

"Who needs 'em anyway?" said Aiden. "You're going to get into a good school and make something of yourself while they're a bunch of idiots who use their religion as an excuse to hate other people."

"I got an acceptance yesterday," said Brian.

"Where?" asked Aiden.

"Penn State, full ride," said Brian. "Managed to get some scholarships and grants, they added up."

"That's great," said Aiden.

"What about you?" asked Brian.

"Haven't checked my mail yet," said Aiden.

"Chicken…" Brian whispered. "Bok-bok-bok-bok-bok-bok!"

"Fuck. You," said Aiden.

Brian ran to the mailbox. Aiden ran after him and eventually got there first, grabbing an envelope. It was thick. Brian then chased Aiden back into the house, trying to grab the envelope from her.

"Asshole!" Aiden yelled.

"Anti-Reagan!" Brian yelled.

"I thought that was meant to be a good thing," said Aiden.

"Course it is, I gave you that nickname because he's the worst fuckin' breeder on the planet, and you're the only straight kid I know whose goal in life doesn't include popping out a couple pups," said Brian.

Laughing, Aiden ran into the kitchen and opened the envelope.

"Ms. Aiden Novotny," Aiden read. "I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Syracuse University… and to the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications… holy shit! I'm in! I'm going to New York!"

"Upstate New York," said Brian.

"There's a nearby train station," said Aiden.

"Fuck. You," said Brian.

Aiden rolled her eyes and ran to the phone to call Vic and tell him the good news.


May 21st-25th, 1989.

Prom night had Brian and Michael ditching their dates for a night at Babylon, and Aiden had gone to New York to spend time with Vic.

She didn't need the prom or the pretentious people going there.

She only needed her family. Debbie had come to her senses and was doing everything she could to help Aiden get ready for the move to her dorm in August. They were drinking smoothies that Aiden had made before her mother got home from her shift at the Liberty Diner.

"I guess I was just worried you'd leave home and turn your back on everyone and everything," said Debbie.

"Never happen, Ma," said Aiden. "I love Pittsburgh, especially Liberty Avenue. Nothing will ever change that."

"What if you meet someone?" asked Debbie.

"Then he better understand what I'm about or he's out the door," said Aiden.

"Vic's right about one thing," said Debbie. "All the Grassis love cock."

Aiden had to fight the urge to cry. He still didn't want Debbie to know, and Aiden was still keeping that promise.

She didn't think keeping quiet was the right answer, as Reagan's silence about the AIDS epidemic had prevented people from knowing how to take precautions to guard against transmission of the disease. Unfortunately, honoring Vic's wishes was all Aiden could do for her uncle right now.

"A toast," said Debbie. "To your achievements… and to cock!"

They toasted their glasses and drank.