Christopher felt many things as he stood before Adam, calling him cousin for the first time in many years.
He would only admit it reluctantly, but Chris had a good upbringing as a child. His father was the younger brother of Adam's father, and as the only child in a rich and powerful family no expense was spared in his childhood.
Christopher's parents had been strict as he grew up but they were never distant. They forced him to study hard and participate in many things, but they were also forgiving enough. As the youngest child in their immediate family both of Adam's parents doted on him as well.
Christopher didn't have much to complain about but he did have one complaint he couldn't forget as he grew up. He always protested against everyone's expectations of him.
Even when they were children it had always been assumed that Adam would inherit his father's position as CEO at MK. Similarly, everyone watched, waited, and coached Christopher to eventually be able to take over his father's position at MK.
Chris had always been expected to become a responsible and stable support to his smart and capable older cousin. With that expectation strongly engrained in his mind, Chris had never considered another path for himself.
As he grew up he begrudgingly followed the path that had been tediously laid out for him. At the time, even though he didn't like the future he was told to reach for one bit, Christopher still followed in those steps anyway.
It was only much later on that he learned that other options existed for him. It was much later that Chris was finally able to decide that the life of a diligent businessman wasn't the life meant for him.
Christopher couldn't place the exact moment that he began to stray from his parent's dream for him. He had always been disinterested in it, but at one point that stable and certain road morphed from something tedious into something unbearable.
The classes and tutoring that he had once only found uninteresting became boring and dull. Following his father to work on the weekends became a chore. It was then, at the tender age of sixteen, that Christopher determined that he would take no part in it anymore.
With that goal in mind, and a new found determination, Christopher became quite the rebel.
He attended one of the most prestigious and most expensive high schools in the city but in his third year he began to skip classes during the day and stay out with his friends at night.
On the weekends Christopher would sneak out of his hour at dawn, and sneak back in late. He wouldn't go anywhere in particular, all that mattered was that he was out of the house. Anywhere would do as an escape from the constant lectures of his parents.
It was only at this rebellious point of Christopher's life that he finally became close to Adam.
Adam was a few years older than Chris, and at the time he had just finished university and had already begun working at MK.
Christopher and Adam had often played together when they were young, and they attended events together when they were old enough, but they had never been especially close. The two boys were as similar as oil and water. One was reckless, unambitious, and uncertain. The other was diligent, capable, and honest.
Christopher could recall hating Adam at one point in his life, though he would never admit it now. He could still remember feeling a faint resentment towards the older and more capable cousin that he was always compared to.
"Why can't you be more studious like Adam?"
"You know by your age Adam already had his own responsibilities at MK."
"Do you think Adam wastes his time away like this?"
Such were the relentless comparisons Chris had always heard. They may have been inappropriate comments to make to a young and impressionable child but even if it wasn't in the way that his relatives had intended, those comments had worked.
In the peak of Christopher's fit of rebellion he began to observe Adam more closely. Even Adam Hayes was only human. Chris was convinced that he was not the perfect person that everyone painted him as so he watched and waited, convinced that he would eventually find Adam's faults.
Funnily enough, the opposite happened.
The more Christopher watched, the more he realized that everyone was right. Adam was exactly as they all painted him to be. And the more Christopher watched, the more he grew to like his studious, responsible, and perfect cousin.
Their homes were close to each other so in that tumultuous period of Christopher's life it ended up becoming a habit that whenever he was in trouble he wouldn't go to his own mother or father, nor would he turn to his doting uncle and aunt, instead, he would always run to Adam.
Of course Adam wasn't that different from the other adults. He would still lecture Chris, but unlike the lectures of Christopher's parents, Adam's lectures were easy to take. They didn't feel like lectures really.
Christopher would sit awkwardly in Adam's room feeling rueful and embarrassed. Meanwhile, Adam would carry on doing whatever he was doing before Chris had arrived. Without looking up at him Adam would ask him questions; 'what did you do this time?' 'are you going to hide out here forever?' until Christopher finally admitted his own faults.
Adam would pretend to be disapproving but he would still let Christopher hide out in his room for the rest of the day without complaint.
With a faint smile Christopher remembered one time in particular. The one time that had eventually brought him to a fork in his carefully laid out road.