Bittersweet Promise by charming1, Lorie
Past Featured StorySummary:

Present day, post-episode 5.13. Justin has returned to Pittsburgh to build a life and future with Brian. When Daphne asks Justin for a favor, he agrees without realizing the effect it will later have on him, Brian, and their entire family’s lives.

Categories: QAF US, Reader's Choice Award Characters: Blake Wyzecki, Brian Kinney, Daphne Chanders, Debbie Novotny, Emmett Honeycutt, Gus Marcus-Peterson, Jennifer Taylor, Jenny Rebecca Marcus-Peterson, Justin Taylor, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Michael Novotny, Original Character, Original Female Character, Original Male Character, Ted Schmidt
Tags: 10k+ Word Count, Anal Sex (Lots of it!), Anniversary, Anti-Lindsay, Anti-Michael, Birthday, Bottom Brian, Death, Established Relationship, Family, Friendship, Hatred, Homophobia, Language, M/M, Masturbation , Minor Character Death, Oral Sex, Post-series, Raw Sex, Real Life Issues, Responsible Justin, Rimming, Sex Toys, Toppy Justin, Vacation, Wedding
Genres: Angst, Angst w/ Happy Ending, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Porny, Romance, Tragedy
Pairings: Brian/Justin
Challenges: None
Series: Bittersweet Universe
Chapters: 32 Completed: Yes Word count: 98688 Read: 196070 Published: May 04, 2016 Updated: Oct 01, 2017
Story Notes:

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story is a joint collaboration between charming1 and Lorie.

Banner by the wonderful Marny.


1. Sister Christian by charming1

2. I'll Stand By You by charming1

3. Beautiful Boy by charming1

4. You're My Best Friend by charming1

5. Bridge Over Troubled Water by charming1

6. That's What Friends Are For by charming1

7. Take Me Home by charming1

8. Love Will Keep Us Together by charming1

9. We Are Family by charming1

10. Baby Mine by charming1

11. Cats In The Cradle by charming1

12. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle by charming1

13. The House That Built Me by charming1

14. What A Wonderful World by charming1

15. Fire and Rain by charming1

16. Family Portrait by charming1

17. Tie Your Mother Down by charming1

18. Mr. Mom by charming1

19. Between the Cheats by charming1

20. What Goes Around... Comes Around by charming1

21. Family First by charming1

22. I Will Always Love You by charming1

23. You Are the Sunshine of My Life by charming1

24. Sweet Child O’ Mine by charming1

25. When Doves Cry by charming1

26. Purple Rain by charming1

27. Origin of Love by charming1

28. Love Me Like You Do by charming1

29. Rock the Boat by charming1

30. The Payback by charming1

31. Anything Like Me by charming1

32. I've Got You Babe - Final Chapter by charming1

Sister Christian by charming1


Daphne knew that she was driving too fast on the winding country road, but she did not care. She angrily wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her sweater before reaching into her purse sitting on the passenger seat beside her and finding the right number on her smartphone.

She sighed in relief when her best friend picked up after the third ring.

"Hey," Justin greeted in a cheery tone.

Daphne opened her mouth to speak, but all that came out was a choked sob.

"Daph, what's wrong?" Justin asked. "Are you okay?"

"No," she managed to answer before sniffling loudly.

"What happened?" Justin demanded. "Is it-"

Before Justin could finish his question, Daphne dropped the phone to grab onto the steering wheel, quickly turning it to the left to take the sharp bend in the road - a bend that Daphne had taken many times before but had managed to take her by surprise in her distracted emotional state.

Justin tightened the grip on his phone as he listened helplessly to the horrific sound of crunching metal and Daphne screaming in the background.

"Daphne!" he yelled into the phone, his heart rate picking up with fear.

One year earlier...

Daphne helped herself to a third glass of champagne punch - a recipe that she knew belonged to Debbie. However, unlike Debbie's famous brunch cocktail, which was made with orange juice concentrate, club soda, brandy, triple sec, and sparkling wine purchased at the Big Q for $9.99 a bottle, Daphne knew that this particular pitcher of punch was made with a bottle of bubbly that had come from Brian's wine cellar and had undoubtedly cost more than a hundred dollars.

She needed some liquid courage for the favor she was about to ask. She was really hoping that Justin would agree to her request.

Daphne took her seat in Britin's breakfast nook, which was built into an alcove off of the massive kitchen and awarded a view of the large garden. Although the ground was then covered in a layer of snow, she was looking forward to seeing the garden in full bloom in a few months, where Justin spent most of his free time lovingly attending to his flowers, vegetables, and herbs when he wasn't painting in his studio in the attic.  

Taking the hand of the man sitting beside her, her husband of nearly five years, Daphne took a deep breath before looking across the table into the eyes of their two hosts.

"So," she began. "I wish I could say that Curtis and I were here only for a social visit today-"

"We suspected as much," Brian mumbled.

"Not that we don't love having you over," Justin chimed in, bumping Brian's knee with his under the table, "but we figured that you'd have some news."

"Yes, we do," Curtis said, sadness evident in his voice.

Daphne had met Curtis Anderson when they had both been students at the University of Pittsburgh. Much like Justin, Curtis had blond hair, blue eyes, and a vibrant personality. Daphne was attracted to him from the first time she saw him during her biology class in their freshman year. It wasn't until they were juniors that they began to date, after being brought together through mutual friends. Curtis had proposed to Daphne soon after each had earned their medical degrees in 2009, and they married at Britin the following year.

By that point, Justin had returned to Pittsburgh from the Big Apple after a rather disappointing attempt at making it as a successful artist. Along with suffering from terrible homesickness, it turned out that Justin needed much more than one positive review in a magazine to be a successful painter in New York. Although he had hoped his partner would find success during his three years away, Brian welcomed Justin back with open arms. After returning, Justin had enrolled in the Carnegie Mellon School of Art, earned his degree in Media Design, and joined Brian at Kinnetik. The two spent their weekends and holidays at Britin, the home Brian had bought for Justin in the country, and they happily allowed Daphne and Curtis to have their wedding at their grand estate.

Once they had established their careers, Daphne as a dermatologist and Curtis as an orthopedic surgeon, they had begun to make plans to start a family. After trying for a year with no success, the couple had consulted with reproductive specialists to see what the problem was. Justin and Brian were well aware of Daphne's failure to become pregnant, since she shared everything with Justin and Justin shared everything with Brian.

"Well?" Justin asked after several seconds of silence. "What did the doctors say?"

Daphne, afraid that she would cry if she revealed the results of their tests, looked to her husband.

Curtis looked down at his plate before saying, "Well, Daphne is just fine... they see no reason why she shouldn't be able to get pregnant."

"So then, what's the problem?" Justin asked impatiently. "You guys have been fucking like rabbits for the past year-"

Brian couldn't help but gag as he chewed his Eggs Benedict. "Please, I'm trying to eat."

Curtis gave Brian a tiny smile. "My doctor called on Friday to tell me that my sperm have low motility."

"He said that we could continue to try to conceive naturally, but it may never happen," Daphne continued.

Justin frowned. He knew that Daphne had always dreamed of becoming a mother and never imagined that she and the man she chose to spend her life with would have trouble making it happen.

"But... there are other options, right?" he asked. "They can physically join your sperm and egg in a petri dish, can't they?"

"In vitro fertilization," Daphne said, nodding. "That could work if it didn't cost $15,000 per round and if it was covered by our health insurance."

"Christ," Brian said as he brought his champagne glass to his lips. "Those little fuckers are expensive..."

Justin gave his partner a side-eye glare. Despite the fact that Brian was the biological father of fourteen year-old Gus and godfather of ten year-old Jenny Rebecca, he still wasn't a fan of procreation even if they weren't his own children.

"Plus it doesn't always work the first time and they normally transfer multiple embryos into the woman's uterus, which increases the odds of having multiples," Curtis informed them.

"Yeah, you hear about couples that end up with like, six or more babies after doing that," Justin said.

"And I couldn't imagine having more than one at a time," Daphne said with a chuckle. "One baby is time-consuming enough and I wouldn't want to carry a whole litter of pups at once."

"Right," Curtis said before nudging his wife with his elbow. "So..."

Daphne tossed back the rest of her punch before saying to Justin, "We want to know if you'll give us your sperm."

Justin dropped his fork on his plate. "Say what?"

The three others at the table couldn't help but laugh at Justin's un-WASPish reaction.

"Don't worry, I'm not asking you to fuck me or anything," Daphne assured both men across the table. "We would use artificial insemination."

Justin looked around the table, seemingly confused.

"You know the mechanics of it, Sunshine," Brian said to the befuddled blond. "You do the jerkin' and someone else will do the squirtin'."

Daphne snorted out a laugh at Brian's graphic explanation.

"Thank you, Dr. Kinney," Justin said dryly before turning back to the actual doctors at the table. "You're asking me to be the father of your baby?"

"You wouldn't really be the father," Curtis clarified. "Not legally anyway; only biologically. Daphne and I will raise the baby together, just as we would if we had conceived it on our own. You won't have any legal responsibility whatsoever. We were thinking that we could have a lawyer come up with a Donor Agreement for you to sign, if you were to agree to donate your sperm to us."

"You mean that you'd want me to give up my parental rights?" Justin asked as he tried to hold back his disappointment, recalling the trouble that Brian and Michael had separately gone through with Lindsay and Melanie.

"Well, yeah," Curtis said, his tone slightly condescending. "That's the only way I could legally adopt the baby."

"You could visit him or her any time you wanted, of course," Daphne quickly added. "You and Brian could be the baby's godfathers."

"Would you plan on telling the kid the truth about who its real father is when it's older?" Brian asked.

Daphne and Curtis looked at each other questionably, making it obvious to Brian that they hadn't discussed that possibility before.

"Um..." Daphne said.

"Because although I'm Gus's biological father, he has known for many years that Lindsay and I didn't make him the old-fashioned way. Without going too far into the technical details, kids at least deserve to know where they come from, in my opinion."

Daphne nodded. "That's true... although it wouldn't change anything, I'd want to know if my father wasn't my real father."

Curtis nodded in agreement. "Me, too."

"Maybe a detail like that should be added to the agreement," Brian offered. "That you'd tell the kid the truth, once it reaches a certain age."

"Too bad Melanie is still in Canada, since she has experience with this sort of thing," Daphne said to Brian.

Brian refrained from commenting and instead drained the rest of his punch. No matter how much time had gone by, his relationship with Melanie was civil at best and hostile at worst.

"You don't have to decide anything right away," Daphne said. "This is a big decision to make... Brian, how long did you think it over after Lindsay asked you to father her child?"

Brian chuckled. "She pestered me about it for months before getting me to agree, talking about how cute our kid would be and repeatedly saying that it was either me or nobody."

"Well, we'll use an anonymous donor if Justin doesn't agree," Curtis said to Brian. "We just wanted to ask him first."

"And this is something that the two of you should discuss together in private," Daphne added.

"I want to do it," Justin blurted out, tired of feeling like he was no longer part of the discussion.

"Really?" Daphne, Curtis, and Brian said simultaneously.

"Of course," he said, taking Daphne's hands in his across the table. "You've wanted to be a mother for as long as I've known you... hell, you named your kids when you were like, eight."

"You did?" Curtis asked his wife.

"Well, the names have changed a few times over the years, but..."

"Last I heard, Keegan if it's a boy and Fiona if it's a girl, right?" Justin asked Daphne.

Daphne squeezed Justin's hands and smiled. "Yep."

"How Irish of you," Brian cracked.

"Are you sure about this?" Daphne asked Justin.

Justin looked at Brian, silently asking if he was okay with it.

"It's your call," Brian said to his partner. "Shit, this may be your only opportunity to dispense your genetic material."

Justin got up from his chair and walked around the table to Daphne. She stood up and wrapped her best friend in a hug.

"Let's make a baby!" Justin said, prompting Daphne to laugh happily.

Justin soon met with a lawyer to discuss his plans to draft a Donor Agreement with Daphne and Curtis. The lawyer, a very intimidating older lady who had Don't Fuck With Me written all over her deeply lined face told Justin not to sign anything until after the baby was born, specifically a Donor Agreement.

"Why should I wait to sign?" Justin asked.

"Trust me honey, I've worked in family law longer than you've been alive," the lawyer said in a gravely voice. "I've had more than one client over the years who signed a contract with someone that he personally knew prior to the birth of the child and later regretted it for one reason or another. The court handles these types of issues on a case-by-case basis. They don't always enforce the contract when it was made before the child was born because paternity had not yet been established. Essentially, the father has no rights prior to the birth, even if the baby is made the old fashioned way. He can't agree to give away what isn't legally his.

"Give me a call after the baby is born, and then you can file the Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights form if you still want to go through with it. The court will probably grant it, given that you're not the intended father, and then the mother's husband can petition the court to adopt the baby. If you ever change your mind in the future, it will be bitch to get the court to give you any rights to the child back, so you better be sure before you sign the termination form."

Not wanting to piss off the wise old lady with questioning her years of experience, Justin accepted her $500 per hour advice.

Justin later let Daphne know what his lawyer had said, and she was satisfied with that explanation, with Justin promising her that he would not change his mind. Curtis, on the other hand, wasn't thrilled with this informal arrangement but his wife, citing her years of friendship with Justin, ensured him that a Donor Agreement was really not necessary.

It took four tries, but the testing stick finally turned blue. For the first three attempts, Daphne was artificially inseminated in a doctor's office. Deciding that she was tired of paying for the very impersonal procedure with no success, she had Curtis inseminate her with Justin's semen in the comfort of their own home. Justin even went out of his way, with Brian's very valuable and happy assistance, to provide six separate loads over three days to increase their odds. One of those finally did the trick.

Aside from some initial morning sickness, Daphne's pregnancy progressed beautifully without any problems. With Curtis and Justin by her side, Daphne was thrilled to find out at her twenty week ultrasound that she was expecting a baby boy.

Brian and Justin shared a bottle of Dom that evening at the loft, with Brian toasting Justin's accomplishment of producing a son.

"You know, I really had nothing to do with it being a boy," Justin pointed out. "That's just how the genetic dice rolled... it could have gone either way."

Brian refilled his glass, never one to pass up the opportunity to celebrate with alcohol. "Shut up and enjoy this moment, Sunshine."

"Or rather, the way the genetic coin flipped, because there are only two options," Justin corrected, causing Brian to roll his eyes.

Brian was relaxing in his office several weeks later after another successful client meeting when his cell phone rang.

"Kinney," he answered, hoping that whomever it was would be quick, as he needed a few minutes to just sit and decompress. He hadn't even checked to see who was calling.

"Brian, it's Curtis. Do you have some time?" Daphne's husband asked, needing a friendly ear. "I really could use someone to talk to right now."

"Sure, Curtis. Do you want to come to my office or would you like to meet for lunch somewhere?"

"Could you meet me at the diner across from the hospital, Brian? I have a couple of patients in recovery and would like to stay close for the next couple of hours."

"Sure. I could meet you there in about thirty minutes. Is that good for you?"

"Perfect, see you then."

Brian genuinely liked Curtis and was happy that Daphne had found a good man to spend her life with. He thought that it was nice she fell in love with someone that looked like he could be Justin's brother, remembering how after Justin had helped rid Daphne of her virginity, she had gotten slightly clingy and strained their friendship almost to the point of breaking it. Knowing and loving his partner as much as he did, Brian could understand how that had happened. If Justin could have that effect on the Stud of Liberty Avenue, how could a young girl escape the charms of the sunshiny blond?

Brian drove to the diner, getting a parking spot right in front. It was early for the lunch crowd so he was able to get a table right away. Curtis soon walked in and sat down across from Brian. He looked a little tired and stressed, but Brian figured that it was because of the surgeries he had done that morning.

"Hey Brian, how are things with you?" Curtis asked, not really knowing how to bring up the way he was feeling about the rapidly approaching birth of the baby and how Brian would take what he had to say.

"Things are great. I just signed a new client and Justin has a show coming up in two months. He wanted to make sure he waited until after Daphne has the baby. You know she has never missed one of his shows, and she told him that she definitely wanted to be there for this one, since one of the paintings he did was her pregnant profile in the moonlight. She'd be pissed if she had to miss seeing it displayed."

Curtis nodded, remembering how Justin had told the gallery that he could not do the show until at least a month after his friend had her baby.

"So Curtis, what did you want to talk to me about?" Brian inquired, noticing that Curtis seemed to be fidgeting with his napkin and refraining from looking at him.

"Well, the truth is, I'm not sure about all of this... becoming a father, the responsibility, you know."

"Not sure? Now you're not sure?" Brian responded, stunned. "Two years ago when you and Daphne first started trying, that would have been the time to question whether or not you were sure. Hell, a year ago when the two of you asked Justin to help would have been the time to question it. Now, almost eight months into Daphne's pregnancy, is definitely not the time you should be questioning whether or not you are ready for this."

Brian almost couldn't believe that he was lecturing Curtis about his impending fatherhood, but he continued. "This is not some abstract, maybe, maybe not thing - this is a human being. You need to man up, get your head out of your ass, and accept the reality of the situation. Have you said any of this to Daphne?"

"No, I didn't want to upset her. She's emotional enough these days as it is," Curtis answered, surprised at how vehement Brian seemed to be about him taking responsibility for his son. He knew that Brian wasn't exactly a contender for "Father of the Year" himself, since he was lucky to see Gus more than twice a year.

"I'm just... I'm not sure if I'm ready for this. Work is stressful enough, and now I'll have a newborn to deal with."

Brian shook his head. "Now you have put me in the position of not being able to say anything to Justin, because I don't want to upset him, either. I don't like having to keep secrets from my partner. You listen to me Curtis, this child is real and it is coming, so you better talk to a shrink or whatever you have to do, because you will not take your doubts, fears, or anything else out on your son. You better be sure that he knows nothing but love, because that is where he came from and that better be the way he is treated."

With those parting words, Brian left the diner and headed back to his office.    

I'll Stand By You by charming1


A few days later, Justin was busy working on a painting in his studio at Britin that he planned to display at his upcoming show when his cell phone began playing "You're My Best Friend" by Queen, which was his ringtone for Daphne.

When he answered the phone, he heard Daphne crying. He knew that she was upset over something serious, as she was usually the rock between the two of them and rarely cried.

"What happened?" Justin demanded, worried that there was something wrong with the baby. "Is it-".

After hearing the sound of squealing tires, glass shattering, and metal being crushed, Justin screamed frantically into the phone.

"Daphne! Daphne, can you hear me? Daphne!"

All he heard in response was a scream and then Daphne groaning in pain.

"Holy shit," he said, tears now running down his cheeks. "Daphne, if you can hear me, I'm going to call 911 and come find you!"

Justin hung up his phone and called 911, but he quickly realized that he had no idea where Daphne could have been driving when she crashed. Luckily the police were able to ping her cell phone and found that she was on a country road that lead to Britin. Justin was speeding down the same road going towards Pittsburgh by that point, and he reached the crash site a couple of minutes later.

"Oh no... I found her. She's pregnant with my child. Please tell them to hurry," Justin whimpered into his phone before hanging up and pulling his car off of the road.

Daphne's BMW was facing the wrong direction and the passenger side was partially wrapped around a tree. As Justin ran over to the driver's side, he hoped that she was alright despite what the car looked like.

Justin found that Daphne was bleeding from several cuts on her face and hands from the broken windshield and windows. The airbags had been deployed but were now partially deflated.

"Daphne," he called out to her as he jerked open the driver's side door. He was relieved when she opened her eyes, although she looked completely spaced out.

He went back to his car to grab some clean rags from his trunk to try and see if he could stem the bleeding until the ambulance got there. Because of the rural location, Justin knew that it would take a while to get to them.

Daphne's eyes were again closed once he returned to her, but he was able to rouse her.

"Justin?" she whispered shakily, clearly in a great amount of pain.

"I'm here, Daph," Justin answered as he crouched beside the car and pressed a rag to a cut on her forehead. "You're going to be okay. It's just a few scratches. Help is on the way."

"The baby... I don't feel him moving," she said, prompting Justin to put his other hand on her belly.

He moved his hand around for a few moments before he felt the baby kick, as if the little one knew that Justin was summoning him.

"Did you feel that? He's okay."

Daphne nodded and tried to smile in spite of the pain she was feeling. Being a doctor, she knew that she was in very bad shape. The impact of the crash and the airbag slamming into her chest so suddenly had caused at least a few broken ribs.

"Justin," Daphne said as she struggled to breathe. "I don't want Curtis to raise our baby. You... and Brian... you take care of him."

"What are you talking about? Did something happen between you two? Is this why you were so upset? Is this why you crashed?" Justin asked, extremely confused and concerned.

"Keegan should be yours," she insisted. "If I don't make it... promise me that you'll take care of him."

"Daphne, you will raise the baby," Justin told his dearest friend, not wanting her to give up hope that she would pull through this. "Whatever happens between you and Curtis, Brian and I will be there for you. You know we will."

"Injuries... are bad... maybe... too bad."

Justin shook his head frantically. "Daph, don't talk like that. Keegan needs you. need you."

He couldn't face the thought of losing Daphne, his lifelong friend and the mother of his future child. He wanted to scream, cry, pray, anything that would make her better.

Finally, Justin heard the sound of sirens approaching several minutes later. Telling Daphne he would be right back, he ran to his car to get a flare gun he remembered having in a roadside emergency kit in the trunk. It was a winding road and the flare would show the emergency services where they were.

When the ambulance stopped, two EMTs jumped out. One rushed to Daphne with a cervical collar as the other one rolled a gurney over to the car. Since Justin had managed to stop the worst of the bleeding, the EMTs concentrated on getting Daphne out of the car and into the ambulance as fast as possible. A firetruck soon joined them, and the men on the truck helped to pull her from the car.

"How far along is she?" one of the EMTs asked Justin.

He had to think about it for a moment. "Thirty-five weeks. I felt him moving. They're going to be okay, right?" he asked desperately, needing some reassurance.

Once they rolled the gurney into the ambulance, Justin climbed in after and insisted he ride to the hospital with Daphne. Seeing how bad of shape she was in, the EMTs didn't bother to argue with him.

Both EMTs were very experienced in responding to car crashes and could tell from the damage to the vehicle that Daphne probably had a lot of internal injuries. Once the ambulance was moving, they started an IV and put an oxygen mask over her face, hoping that they could at least keep Daphne alive long enough for the baby to be saved.

Justin held onto Daphne's free hand and continued to tell her that she and Keegan were going to be okay. She continued to tell Justin that she wanted him and Brian to raise the baby in between gasping breaths.

"Why isn't the siren on?" Justin asked the EMTs.

They informed him that they actually were using it and explained that when you are inside the ambulance, you could barely hear it.

The ambulance arrived at the closest hospital nearly half an hour later, just outside of Pittsburgh city limits. Everything moved very fast once they had gotten into the building. Justin was stopped by a nurse outside of the treatment area who told him he had to stay in the waiting room.

With nothing else to do, Justin took his cell phone out of his pocket and called Brian. He frantically explained what had happened, and Brian said he would leave the office immediately to meet him at the hospital.

Justin did not look forward to his second phone call but knew that he had to make it.

Curtis picked up after the fourth ring.

"Hi, Justin," Curtis said, his voice already sounding tense as if he was expecting Justin to be angry with him.

"Curtis... uh, I don't know how to tell you this, but Daphne got into an accident on the way to Britin."

"What?" he asked. "Is she okay?"

"I... I really don't know."

Justin told Curtis what hospital they were at and hung up. He paced around the waiting area until a doctor came out to inform him that their small hospital was not equipped to treat a pregnant patient with the amount of trauma that Daphne had. Justin was soon back on the phone with Brian and Curtis to let them know that Daphne was going to be airlifted to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which had both an excellent trauma center and children's hospital. Daphne and Curtis had both attended medical school there, and it was where Curtis worked as a surgeon and Daphne was planning on delivering the baby.

It was a quick flight to the hospital, but Daphne seemed to be getting weaker by the minute. She was fading in and out of consciousness but came to just as she was being rolled into the emergency area.

"Justin, promise me," Daphne repeated, her voice muffled by the oxygen mask over her mouth and nose. "Promise... that you'll take care of the baby... please."

He hoped it wouldn't come to that, but he could not turn her down in her fragile state. "I promise."

"Love you," she said before being rolled to the trauma area.

Justin soon found a clipboard with a stack of paperwork on it shoved into his hands, which he filled out the best he could. He was trying to remember the last piercing or tattoo that Daphne had received when Brian rushed over to him.

"How is she?" Brian asked.

"I don't know. They haven't told me anything since we got here," Justin answered, getting more scared as time went on.

Noticing that Curtis hadn't arrived yet, Brian gave him a call that rang several times before it went voicemail.

"Where the fuck is he?" Brian asked as he tried to call again.

Justin flipped to another page, which was filled with more invasive questions about Daphne's medical history. He never recalled Daphne mention to him that she had black or tarry stool...

"I don't know. He was supposed to be off today."

Curtis must have picked up that time because Brian asked "Where are you?" into his phone.

Brian's eyebrows went up. "Home? What the fuck are you still doing at home? Your pregnant wife is in the emergency room! You should be here with her."

Justin grabbed the phone away from his partner and said, "Curtis, get your ass to Pitt now."

"I... I can't," Curtis answered. "I've been drinking."

"You've been drinking?" Justin yelled.

Brian took the phone back and told Curtis to call himself a cab and get his ass to the hospital. He then tried to get Justin to calm down before a doctor, who identified himself as Dr. Roberts, finally came out to give them an update.

"Daphne is in very critical condition. Her right lung has collapsed, and we believe that it may have been punctured by one of her ribs. We don't know how many of her ribs are broken at this point or if any of her other internal organs were damaged. We need to get her into surgery quickly."

"What about the baby?" Justin asked.

"His heart rate is steady but a bit shallow. The best thing for him and for Daphne would be to perform a cesarian."

Justin put his hand over his chest. "But it's too early!"

"Actually, babies that are born at this point in gestation often do very well. We won't know until after he's out how he is. I'll send word when I know something. Did you call Curtis? He really should be here."

"Yes, we called him. He said that he's been drinking, but we told him to call a cab, that he needs to be here," Brian answered, clearly upset at Curtis and at the situation.

Dr. Roberts nodded, having heard rumors about Curtis and one of the interns on his team, but he certainly wasn't going to mention that to either of these men. Neither looked too happy about the state that Curtis seemed to be in at that point. The doctor hoped that those rumors didn't have anything to do with what had happened to Daphne, who he had known since she had performed her residency at the hospital several years before.

Dr. Roberts then headed off to scrub for surgery, saying a silent prayer that he would be able to deliver good news when it was over.

Daphne's obstetrician had been called to surgery to deliver the baby. She and the other surgeons met at the scrub sinks and discussed what would need to be done. They determined that the first thing to do would be to deliver the baby and have a neonatal team standing by to take him. Once the baby was out, the work to try and save Daphne could begin.

Brian and Justin decided that it was time to call in the cavalry. Brian volunteered to call the members of "his side of the family" while Justin called Daphne's parents, Jennifer, and Molly. Everyone started trickling into the waiting area within the next thirty or so minutes.

An hour after Brian had called him, Curtis showed up appearing slightly intoxicated and smelling of alcohol. Brian and Justin took Curtis into the doctor's lounge for some privacy.

Justin turned to Curtis and asked, "Alright, what the fuck is going on? Why was Daphne so upset that she crashed her car?"

"And why were you drinking so heavily in the middle of the day that you couldn't even fucking drive?" Brian added. "Fuck, even I don't do that."

"Well, all of this was just getting to me. You know, with the baby coming, Daphne not being ‘in the mood' enough, and I just... well, I sort of... Istartedseeingoneofmyinterns... and Daphne found out today, and she got mad and left the house."

Curtis tried to rush through what he was saying because both Justin and Brian were looking very angry at the moment.

Justin put up his hand and said, "Wait just one fucking second. Did you just say that you started seeing one of your interns, and are trying to blame it on a woman who is eight months pregnant? Your wife, who is in an operating room fighting for her life as we speak?"

"Well yes, kind of, I guess," came the quiet reply.

Brian had to grab onto his partner before he could attack the husband of his best friend. He wanted to throttle the man too, but he didn't want to risk getting either himself or Justin thrown out of the hospital. They both needed to be there for Daphne and the baby.

Brian was still holding Justin and trying to help him stay calm when a nurse came into the lounge and told them that the baby has been delivered.

Justin cautiously asked her if the boy was okay.

The nurse happily replied, "He's doing great. His APGAR scores were 7 and 8, which is amazing for a premie. He weighs a little over five pounds and is seventeen inches long. He's a fighter and probably won't be in the NICU and the incubator for very long. You guys can go see him in the NICU if you'd like."

Justin then asked the question he was dreading. "How's Daphne?"

"She's still in surgery. I'm sorry, that's all I know," the nurse told them.

All this time, Curtis had not said one word in concern about either Daphne or the baby, which was pissing Brian off. To him, it seemed like Curtis couldn't have cared less about what happened to either one of them, recalling the conversation that the two of them had just a few days prior about the "stress" Curtis was going through regarding his impending fatherhood.

While they had been waiting for Curtis to arrive, Justin told Brian that Daphne begged him to take the baby and raise him with Brian if she didn't live through her injuries. In spite of the fact that he was more than hesitant about taking on the responsibility of a baby at his ripe old age of forty-four and that he never wanted to be a full-time father, even to his own biological son, Brian couldn't imagine letting Justin and Daphne's child grow up without all the love that he deserved.

He knew what it was like to be raised by people who didn't want him, and he wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially the child of the man that he loved with his entire being. Looking at Curtis's sorry ass, Brian doubted that the man could be a decent single father to a baby that wasn't even biologically his. He also feared if Curtis got together with the person he was having an affair with, how she would treat a child who had no biological ties to either one of them.

Justin sat down hard on the lumpy couch. "I don't want to see the baby until Daphne... oh God, what if she doesn't make it?" he asked for at least the tenth time. "What if she doesn't even get to meet her son?"

Brian sat down next to his partner and pulled him in close. "Need I inform you again that for three long, torturous days after the bashing, you were on death's door? Each time the doctors came out to talk to us, we all feared that they were going to tell us you were gone. They had to drill a hole through your fucking skull to keep you alive, remember? Then, once they finally decided that you probably weren't going to die, you were in a fucking coma for two weeks. You still looked dead, though. Look at you now: you turned out fine."

Justin made a fist with his right hand, which still cramped up on him from time to time. "Yeah."

"Daphne was amazing that whole time," Brian continued. "We were all a mess - your mom, Grandma Ruth, Molly, Deb, me - but she never once doubted that you'd pull through. That whole debacle was what made her want to become a doctor, though I didn't think she'd want to drain boils and inject middle aged ladies with botox for a living, but she's a doctor nonetheless. It was because of seeing what you went through that made her decide that she wanted to take care of people for a living. It's your turn to be strong for her."

The three men returned to the family waiting area. Not known for her patience, Debbie found a nurse soon after she and Carl had arrived and demanded to get an update on Daphne's condition. The nurse tried to tell Debbie that she didn't know anything and was not allowed to call the operating room to check just before Dr. Roberts emerged.

The doctor walked over and said to Curtis, "I'm sorry, but we lost her."

There was a collective gasp among the group.

"When we opened her up for the cesarean, we found that she had a lot of blood in her abdomen. As we tried to find the source of the bleeding, she went into cardiac arrest and flat lined. We tried to revive her for almost an hour, but we were unable to bring her back. I'm so sorry."

"No, no, no, no! Daphne!" Justin screamed, sinking to the floor on his knees. Brian knelt down and wrapped his arms around the younger man, trying his best to comfort his partner.

Everyone else grabbed onto the person closest to them, no one wanting to believe that the tough, sweet, bubbly girl that they all loved was really gone. Emmett was especially devastated, as he and Daphne had had many "Girls Nights" over the years doing each other's hair, makeup, and nails while watching the latest chick flicks whenever Curtis did overnights at the hospital. Debbie loved the feisty, spunky girl who wouldn't take shit from anyone, even the great Brian Kinney. The Chanders family was heartbroken over the loss of their youngest daughter and little sister.

After hysterically crying in Brian's arms for several minutes, Justin looked around the room. "Where's Curtis?" he asked, noticing that the man was absent.

"He said he needed some air," Carl, who was comforting his crying wife, answered.

Justin stood back up and headed towards the exit, Brian following after him. They found Daphne's husband pacing on the sidewalk outside of the emergency room entrance.

"Curtis," Justin said tearfully, "please tell me that I misheard what you said before, and that you did not cheat on Daphne and cause all of what has happened today."

"Yes, Justin, I did sleep with someone, but it's not my fault that Daphne got so pissed off that she wrapped her car around a fucking tree," Curtis spat out. "She only found out because she was snooping on my phone, and I had no choice but to confess. And besides, you're one to talk. You and Brian screw around on each other all the time like it's no big deal. I've heard all about your little affair with the violin player."

Justin was understandably appalled. "There's a big difference, Curtis. We weren't monogamous back then and had never promised to be, so it wasn't cheating. It's been almost fifteen years since that happened for fuck's sake, so you have no right throwing that in my face! When you and Daphne got married, you promised each other monogamy."

"And for your information, you son of a bitch, we've been monogamous for several years now," Brian proudly added.

"I imagine that she felt like she had a good reason to ‘snoop' in your phone, and she obviously did if you've been fucking around on her," Justin said. "Now you actually have the balls to try and shift the blame onto your dead wife, and then bring up my and Brian's ancient history to make yourself feel better about what you did? Jesus, I always thought you were so nice... when did you become such an asshole? Did you even bother trying to stop her when she left the house in such a hysterical state or did you just get started on your little bender instead? Whether you want to admit it or not, you fucking killed her, Curtis!"

Curtis mumbled something about it not being his fault that Daphne was pregnant, so it wasn't his fault that she was overly emotional in the first place and crashed her car.

Before Justin could make a rebuttal, Curtis got into a waiting cab that took him away.


Beautiful Boy by charming1

Justin watched the cab carrying Curtis pull out of the hospital parking lot before he turned to Brian with tears in his eyes.

"Will you come with me to see Keegan? I need to tell him about his mom."

"Of course I will, Sunshine. He needs to know what a great mom he had," Brian answered, having a hard time holding it together himself, but trying to be strong for his love.

Brian had liked Daphne from the moment he first met her and grew to love her over the years like a little sister he never had. He also loved her for how tremendous of a friend she had always been to Justin and also to him. She was never afraid to call Brian on his bullshit and he greatly respected her for it. He knew that losing her would forever change their lives, especially now that she had unfortunately left her son behind to grow up without his mother.

When they got to the NICU, a nurse showed them to the large sink and told them to wash thoroughly up to their elbows, and then they could open the side holes in the incubator and touch the baby. Once they had scrubbed their hands with stinky yellow soap, they sat on either side of the incubator and reached inside.

There were wires attached all over the baby's body, including an IV shunt in his head. Every newborn Justin had ever seen before was chubby and healthy, so he was shocked at how tiny and wrinkled Keegan was.

"My God..." Justin choked out.

When Justin reached in to touch the baby, Keegan grabbed his index finger and looked at him. Justin couldn't keep the tears from flowing as he looked into the beautiful gray eyes of his and Daphne's son.

Brian closed up his side of the incubator and came around to kneel in front of his Sunshine and comfort him.

"Talk to him," Brian suggested.

"What should I say?"

Brian shrugged. "You can start by introducing yourself, I guess."

Justin started speaking quietly to the baby. "Hi, Keegan... um, that's what your mommy wanted to name you. I'm..."

He looked at Brian, unsure of what to introduce himself as.

"Keegan, this is Justin; he's your biological father," Brian said.

"Yeah," Justin said. "And this is Brian, my partner. Keegan, your mommy is an angel now and she will always be there to watch over you. She loved you and wanted you so much. I will show you pictures and tell you all about her. She was my best friend and would have loved to be here to raise you, but God needed her to come and be with him. Just know that you will always be loved and wanted, my sweet little boy."

Brian had to bite his tongue, since he had never been a spiritual person and didn't believe that death had a divine reason or explanation. He and Justin had agreed to disagree on religion long ago. Whatever comforted Justin at that moment was fine with him.

Keegan continued to tightly hold Justin's finger, and Justin started to softly sing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beetles to the baby, a song he had always loved.

A nurse walked by and Justin asked her when he would be able to hold Keegan.

"Keegan?" she repeated. "Aww, that's a beautiful name. Probably tomorrow or the next day, as long as he stays stable. He's doing very well, he's just small. We're giving him some steroids to help speed up his lung development."

"Sunshine... I would really rather not bring this up at a time like this, but there is a tiny chance that Curtis could be his father," Brian pointed out after the nurse had gone to tend to another baby. "They weren't supposed to have sex while she was trying to get pregnant, but they may have, so as long as you and the baby are both here, maybe you should ask for a DNA test, just to be sure."

"You're right. In light of what has happened today, I'd rather know now, just in case," Justin agreed.

He knew in his heart that Keegan was his son, but he needed concrete proof for everyone's sake that he was truly the father of this amazing little creature who was holding onto his heart as tightly as he was gripping his finger.

Justin spent the next two days at the hospital, unable to tear himself away from Keegan, minus a few naps he had taken in a lounge area. Luckily the NICU permitted parents to visit twenty-four hours a day. He felt guilty for not being with Daphne's parents and siblings during this awful time, but Keegan was the only thing that was keeping him going after losing his best friend. Several of Daphne's family members had come by the hospital to peer into the NICU through the windows to see Keegan, and Justin hoped that they would soon be able to visit with him once he was moved into the regular nursery.

One person who had failed to make an appearance in the NICU was Curtis. Justin had hoped that maybe he had missed him during one of his naps, but the nursing staff told him that Curtis hadn't even called to inquire about the baby's condition, let alone visited in person.

The day before Daphne's funeral, Justin was informed that he indeed was Keegan's biological father. Because the paternity test confirmed what Justin already knew in his heart, he asked a nurse to get him all of the legal papers that parents commonly received after their baby is born. He filled out the birth certificate and the Social Security applications, listing Daphne as the mother and himself as the father.

The baby's name would legally be Keegan Mercury Taylor, not "Baby Boy Anderson" as the tag on his incubator had referred to him. Justin picked the middle name based on the fact that "You're My Best Friend" by Queen was his and Daphne's song, and Freddie Mercury had been the lead singer of Queen.

Partly to pass the time and because he wanted Keegan to hear his voice, Justin would often sing songs to his son that he and Daphne had enjoyed. One that he repeated many times was "You're My Best Friend." He and Daphne had randomly started singing it one day after school when they were teenagers, and after a few times of it happening spontaneously, it became "their song." Justin and Daphne had danced to it at her wedding to Curtis, and it was one of his fondest memories of her.

Visitation at the funeral home was that evening, but Justin chose not to go. He knew that it would be difficult enough having to see Daphne in a casket, but it would be almost as difficult to maintain his composure for two or even three hours while having to mingle with his and Daphne's friends and family. He preferred watching over his and Daphne's son instead, which was what he thought she'd want him to do anyway. Sitting through the formal ceremony and burial the following day was going to be the hardest thing he'd ever have to do.

Brian convinced Justin to come back to the loft that night, only after making sure that every nurse in the NICU had his and Brian's cell phone numbers as well as the land line number for the loft.

Brian went to the fridge and took out two beers. At first Justin started to protest, but Brian pointed out that one beer would not make either of them unable to drive to the hospital if they were needed. Brian turned on some soft music and they sat down on the sofa. He wrapped his arm around Justin's shoulders and pulled him close.

Justin finally started to relax and as he melted into Brian's embrace, he whispered, "Make me forget, Brian".

"As you wish," was Brian's quiet response.

Brian started by kissing the top of his Sunshine's head, then moved down to the spot behind his ear that was one of his lover's special spots.

Justin moaned. He had missed being with Brian the last few nights and couldn't remember the last time they had gone this long without having sex. He got up off the sofa and put his hand out to Brian, smiling as he pulled his lover up and into the bedroom. Justin started unbuttoning Brian's shirt, kissing and nipping as he exposed the golden tanned torso of the man he loved with all his heart. He then pulled off his own shirt, wanting to get naked as quickly as possible. They both slipped off their pants and embraced, rubbing their swollen cocks together.

In spite of their height difference, Justin and Brian fit together as if they were made as one and split apart, their souls reuniting time and again when they made love. They moved to the bed, Justin lying on his back and Brian stretching over him, kissing and running their fingers through each other's hair.

Finally, Brian broke the kiss and started his trek down the alabaster chest he loved to worship. He kissed and sucked on Justin's nipples making them rock hard. He continued on down, leaving love bites and hickies along the way. Justin was moaning and gripping the sheets but Brian wasn't nearly done with his foreplay. Kissing around the tumescent cock that lay dripping on Justin's belly, Brian took the sack into his mouth, rolling each ball around and humming.

Justin was now thrashing his head back and forth on the pillows begging Brian to get him off. Brian had other plans though and flipped the smaller man over onto his stomach. Starting at his neck, Brian kissed, nipped, and licked his lover's soft, clear skin. When he got to the swell of the hottest ass he knew, Brian grabbed and spread the baby soft cheeks, blowing softly on the tight rosebud. Justin keened and rose up, pushing his ass toward Brian. Brian responded by licking a path from Justin's balls to the base of his spine.

"More Brian, please," Justin pleaded.

Not wanting to make him beg more than necessary, Brian started licking at the hot little rosebud, alternating soft licks and slight stabs at the center. He finally stiffened his tongue and stabbed it into the hot little hole as far as he could, making it very wet with his spit. He then reached up for the lube wanting to make sure he didn't cause his younger lover any unnecessary discomfort.

Rolling his lover onto his back, Brian wet two fingers with lube and inserted them into his favorite ass, stretching him only slightly since he knew that Justin needed to feel the burn. Finally he lubed his bare cock and lined it up with Justin's tight hole. Brian started to push in slowly since he hadn't stretched his blond very much, but Justin was having none of that. He crossed his ankles behind Brian's hips and pulled while pushing his ass forward, impaling himself on Brian's steel hard rod.

Brian grabbed Justin's hips, stopping him from moving until he had adjusted. "I know you want to feel the burn Sunshine, but I don't want you hurt," he told his lover as he started rocking his hips slowly.

He loved being inside his beautiful blond raw. All the sensations were so much more intense, so much hotter, and he couldn't imagine ever wanting to go back to using condoms. They started out slowly but the heat between them increased quickly. Soon Brian had Justin bent in half and was pounding into that hot ass as hard as he could, and Justin was pushing up just as hard.

As they were fucking, their mouths locked and their tongues fought for dominance. Grunts and moans were all that could be heard throughout the loft. All too soon they both felt the tingling that signaled that this round would be coming to an end. With a final growl, Brian started shooting deep inside Justin's ass, while without being touched, Justin's cock exploded, covering both of them with hot, sticky cum.

The two men held each other as their breathing slowly returned to normal.

"Thank you," Justin quietly said.

Brian kissed Justin's sweaty forehead. "Any time, Sunshine."

You're My Best Friend by charming1


Justin went to the hospital early the next morning to visit Keegan, since Daphne's funeral was at ten o'clock and he couldn't be late for that. He was told by the nurses that Keegan was progressing wonderfully. He was slowly putting on weight from being tube fed and was breathing on his own with no episodes of apnea so far. They were going to try a bottle later that day and see how he did with it.

Justin had brought Harold And The Purple Crayon with him to read to Keegan that morning, which had been one of his favorite books when he was little. As usual, when Justin reached into the opening of the incubator, Keegan had grabbed onto his finger. That always made Justin tear up a little, as if the baby knew that he was his daddy and wanted to be connected to him anytime he was near. After Justin finished reading to his son, he sang his and Daphne's song to the baby.

When Justin finished singing "You're My Best Friend" to Keegan, he told his son that he needed to leave for a little while.

"Your mommy's funeral is today, and I need to go and say goodbye to her for both of us. I'll tell her how beautiful you are and that you love her. Brian and I will come back when we're finished, and maybe I'll get Grandma Jen and Aunt Molly to come with us to see you again. I love you my sweet baby."

Justin left the NICU to meet Brian downstairs. Brian drove them to the funeral home where everyone would be gathered to say their final goodbyes to the bouncy woman that was dearly loved by all of them.

Brian and Justin walked into the viewing room arm-in-arm. The room was filled with flower arrangements and easels holding pictures of Daphne taken throughout her life. "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, one of Daphne's favorite songs, was playing quietly over the sound system.

They slowly walked over to the casket, which was silver with a lavender liner. A spray of purple, pink, and white flowers was sitting on top. Daphne was lying inside the casket wearing a lovely cream-colored dress that Justin remembered picking out with her a couple of years before for her parent's anniversary party. She was also wearing her wedding and engagement rings, plus the diamond and amethyst tennis bracelet with matching earrings her parents bought for her when she graduated from medical school.

Justin looked down at his best friend, and although he hated seeing her in that state he had to admit that she looked very beautiful and at peace. The funeral director had done a wonderful job at concealing the cuts that Daphne had sustained to her face and hands during the accident so they could have an open casket service for her.

Daphne's father and older sister Delia were standing at the head of the casket, and Justin embraced both of them. He assured them that Keegan was doing well and that he would keep them posted on his condition.

Before taking their seats in the audience, Justin looked around to see who all from his and Brian's family was there. Debbie, Carl, Emmett, Drew, Ted, Blake, Ben, Hunter, Hunter's wife Erin, Jennifer, Justin's step-father Robert, Molly, Molly's fiance Shawn, and even Melanie, who Justin was not aware had traveled down from Canada to attend the funeral, were all seated. Noticeably absent was Lindsay, although Justin hadn't really expected either her or Mel to be there.

Also missing from the crowd was Curtis. His parents and a few of their family members were there, however.

After greeting the family and thanking them for coming, Justin told Brian to get them some seats before going over to Curtis's mother Sara.

"Hi, Justin," Sara said sadly.

"Where's Curtis?" Justin asked, foregoing pleasantries.

Sara's face went ashen. "Oh... um, Curtis won't be coming today."

Justin forced himself to remain calm, although he wanted to scream. "What?" he asked just above a whisper. "This is his wife's funeral. Of all people and of all days, he should be here."

"Curtis hasn't been doing well these past few days, as you could imagine," Sara began to explain. "He hasn't left the house and he wouldn't answer the phone or any messages. I had to yell at him through the front door yesterday that I would call the fire department if he didn't let me in before he finally opened the door for me. I've never seen him like this before... it's like he's completely shut down emotionally. He said he couldn't bear to see Daphne in a casket. The same thing happened when my father died back in ‘08, but it's worse this time."

Justin shook his head in disbelief. "Well, while your son has been hiding out at his house for the past three days, the baby that was supposed to have been his and Daphne's son has been lying in an incubator at the hospital. I've been the one keeping vigil over him while also mourning the death of his mother and my best friend of nearly thirty years."

Sara looked down at her shoes. "I know, I went to the hospital yesterday and looked through the window at him. You were in there, but your back was to me. The nurse at the desk told me that only parents and approved visitors can go in to visit, but I wasn't on the list."

"You're only allowed to put four people on the list and I put Brian, my mom, and Daphne's parents. Maybe you can come back to visit after he's moved to the regular nursery, whenever that is," Justin said, although part of him hoped that Sara wouldn't take him up on that offer since he was so angry with Curtis at the moment.

Sara nodded. "Okay, just let me know when."

Justin went to the other side of the aisle to sit between Brian and Jennifer in the fourth row behind Daphne's large family. Nearly every chair was filled by then, and Justin guessed that many of the unfamiliar faces were Daphne's coworkers and colleagues from the medical community. He recognized some of their old high school classmates and a few of Daphne's college friends he had previously met.

Seeing all of the people that were there to honor Daphne's life only incensed Justin further that her own fucking husband had chosen not to attend. He quietly informed Brian and Jennifer that Curtis wasn't going to be there, telling them he would explain later.

Many of Daphne's high school and college friends got up and spoke about how wonderful she was and how much she had meant to them. Daphne's sister Delia told a couple of stories about her vivacious little sister. Debbie talked about how much she admired Daphne's spunk and the fact that she wouldn't let anyone push her around. She commended Daphne for being such a great ally to the LGBT community and Vice President of their local PFLAG chapter.

With Brian's encouragement, Justin went up and told the story of how he and Daphne first became friends.

"When we were in preschool, some of the other kids would pick on me. Daphne saw them and came running over one day like she was going to save the world. She kicked the biggest kid in the leg and yelled at them to get away from me."

Several in the audience chuckled and nodded, since that sounded exactly like the Daphne they knew and loved.

"I had been terrified, since most of those kids were a lot bigger than me. After what Daphne did though, they got scared and ran off. She made sure I was okay, and then said to me that I should stay near her because I looked too delicate to be left alone. That had been the beginning of our lifelong friendship. She was always there when I needed her."

By the time Justin finished his story, many in their family were crying, especially Emmett.

The minister invited everyone to walk by the casket one last time to say goodbye to Daphne before heading to their cars for the procession to the cemetery for the burial. Justin chose to stay seated while everyone else paid their final respects, and Brian stayed by his side. Once everyone but Daphne's father, her two brothers, and a cousin who would all be acting as pallbearers along with Brian and Justin had gone outside, Justin finally approached the casket. He asked to have a minute alone with Daphne, which the others respectfully granted.

"Hey, Daph," he said to her quietly as he covered one of her hands with his. "I just keep hoping that I'll finally wake up and find that this has all been a bad dream, that you're still alive and Keegan is still growing in your belly. This just doesn't feel real. It breaks my heart that you didn't get to see Keegan before you died and you won't be here to watch him grow up... that he'll never know you."

Justin wiped his eyes and decided to cut to the chase, since he didn't have long. "We made a beautiful son together, but of course we knew that he would be beautiful. He's getting stronger every day and I already love him so much. I'll keep my promise, Daph. Brian and I will raise Keegan together, and we'll make sure that he knows what a wonderful person you were and how much you loved and wanted him. We'll put lots of pictures of you in his room so that he'll see what a beautiful mother he had. I promise that I'll love him for the both of us, Daph."

Justin bent down to lightly kiss Daphne's cheek as tears slid down his face. He then whispered a part from their song into her ear: "You're the best friend that I ever had. I've been with you such a long time. You're my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true. I really love you. You're my best friend."

Later that day after Daphne had been laid to rest, Justin headed back to the hospital with Brian, Jennifer, and Molly. When they got up to the NICU, Justin immediately saw that Keegan's incubator was empty.

Justin panicked, grabbing Brian's arm and crying out, "He was fine when I left this morning, Brian! Oh my God, what happened to him? Where is my son?"

Brian found a nurse and demanded, "What the hell happened? Where is Keegan?"

The nurse looked confused for a second before saying, "I'm so sorry. Keegan is fine, he was just moved into the regular nursery. I thought the doctor was going to tell you before he left. I'll take you to see him. You'll be able to hold him now."

She led them down the hall to the nursery where Keegan was laying in an isolette, looking around at his new digs. Gone were all the tubes, IVs, and wires.

Justin broke down crying as he picked up his son for the first time, kissing his soft little forehead and holding him to his chest.

Brian put his arm around his partner, kissing the top of his head. "They probably washed him already, Sunshine. I doubt he needs a shower," he told the drippy-faced blond.

Jennifer and Molly soon joined them, and they each took turns holding the tiny bundle and kissing the top of his head, contributing more happy tears of their own. Justin had warned them that kissing a baby's face could increase the chances of him or her developing whooping cough, so everyone carefully avoided kissing or breathing in Keegan's face.

"Your public service announcements do come in handy from time to time," Brian cracked to his partner who stuck his tongue out at him.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by charming1

Melanie came to the hospital that evening to visit Keegan for the first time. She had always been very fond of Daphne and loved Justin like a little brother, so she knew that she had to travel down from Toronto to attend the funeral and offer whatever amount of comfort and support that she could to Justin.

Since Melanie did not get a chance to talk to Justin at the funeral, she asked him if they could chat for a few minutes. The two of them were soon seated in the hospital's coffee shop in a corner away from anyone who might be listening.

"Where's JR, by the way?" Justin asked.

"Oh, she's home with Lindsay and Gus. I didn't want to take her out of school or make her sit through a funeral. Lindz needed to stay behind for the kids and work. I'm planning on staying in town through the end of the week, bunking with Deb and Carl."

Justin understood but would have loved to see the little girl, who was an eleven year-old version of her mother. If nothing else, seeing the adorably feisty and opinionated JR banter with Brian, whom she affectionately called "Uncle Pop," would have been entertaining and given him a reason to smile.

Getting to why she had requested this little meeting, Melanie began by telling Justin how sorry she was about Daphne. He nodded and thanked her, still having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that his best friend was gone.

"Justin honey, have you thought about what you are going to do about the baby? I talked with Brian over the phone before I flew down yesterday, and he told me about Daphne's last wishes and what had happened with her and her husband before the accident. You may want to get a paternity test performed just so you will have proof that you are the biological father."

"I already had the paternity test done, because Brian pointed out that there could have been a slight chance that Curtis was the father. The results came back yesterday morning confirming that I'm Keegan's father. I already filled out his birth certificate and everything."

"Great," Melanie said. "I love that name, ‘Keegan,' it's so cute. Another thing I want you to know is that I still have my license to practice law here in Pennsylvania and will act as your attorney if you want me to."

Justin smiled in gratitude. That would be one less thing for him to worry about if he were to run into any legal problems in making Keegan his and Brian's son.

"If we do need a lawyer, I would love for you to do it. The lawyer I met with last year when I was first going to give Daphne my sperm was too aggressive for me... honestly, I was scared of her."

"Who was she?"

"Martha Wilson."

Melanie shivered. "Yikes. I'd seen her around the courthouse a few times and she was fucking terrifying."

"Indeed, she was. Can I give you a check as a retainer?"

"Do you have a dollar, Justin?"

"Sure," he said as he reached into his pocket for his wallet, thinking that she wanted to buy a cookie with it or something. "Here you go."

Melanie took the dollar and smiled. "Thank you, sir. My legal fees have now been paid in full."

"Mel, I can't let you do that," Justin said, remembering how much the scary lady had charged him for a simple consultation.

"A deal's a deal, Justin. Now it will just be a waiting game to see if Curtis challenges you for custody of the baby."

"He hasn't even come to visit Keegan since he was born," Justin said. "I haven't seen him since we were told Daphne died. He was absent at the funeral today, if you didn't notice. He's acting as if he's the only one in mourning."

"I did notice. That's terrible, but although paternity has been established as to you being the father, Curtis could have legal claims to Keegan because he was Daphne's husband at the time of her death. It could get tricky, since it is usually presumed that a woman's husband is the father of her child and would be the one to care for the child if the mother were to die. Did you previously tell Daphne and Curtis that you would give up your rights after the baby was born?"

"Yes, but the scary lady told me not to sign a formal donor agreement, so I didn't."

"I'm glad to hear that, but you did have an oral contract which the court might decide was legally binding. Did anyone else hear Daphne say that she wanted you, and not Curtis, to raise the baby?"

"Yes, the two EMTs on the way to the first hospital they took her to before she was airlifted here.  Daphne kept saying it as they were getting her out of the car and into the ambulance, and then she repeated it on the way to the hospital. At first they looked confused by what Daphne was saying, but then I explained to them that I was the biological father but not her husband. I don't remember their names. Then she repeated it again after she was airlifted here, so maybe the EMTs in the helicopter heard her, too."

"That's fine, it won't be hard to find out their names. If necessary, they can corroborate your claim that these were Daphne's final wishes. I'm assuming that you'd want to petition the court to have Brian formally adopt Keegan?"

Justin looked down into his cup of coffee, which he had been living off of over the past few days. "I do, only I don't know how Brian feels about it... we haven't talked about that."

"Well, that's a talk the two of you definitely need to have, and soon," Melanie said sternly.

Taking Melanie's advice, Justin went to Kinnetik that night after office hours where Brian was still hard at work, having taken the morning and most of the afternoon off for the funeral. An empty container from a deli down the street sat on Brian's desk.

"Are you about ready to go home?" Justin asked as he sat on a chair in front of the desk.

"Wow, you're coming home two nights in a row?" Brian cracked as he typed something on his keyboard.

"Now that Keegan is out of the NICU, I figured it would be okay," Justin answered, trying not to be offended by his partner's biting tone. "Uh... so, Mel and I had a chat earlier-"

"Oh, I'm sure that was a rousing conversation," Brian said sarcastically.

"It was, in fact. She said that she'd be my lawyer."

Brian continued to type and stare at his computer screen. "What the fuck do you need a lawyer for?"

"Mel pointed out that Curtis might challenge me on Keegan's guardianship. We might both have legal claims over him and I need to do whatever I can to protect my parental rights."

Brian finally stopped typing and looked at Justin. "So, you're actually thinking about raising this kid?"

"Well, duh," Justin said rather condescendingly. "Where else is he supposed to go? With Curtis? My ass, he will."

"I... I don't know," Brian said with a shrug.

"I made a promise to Daphne!" Justin yelled, standing up. "I promised to keep our son away from that cheating bastard!"

"Yes, but Justin you never planned on being a father to this kid. You told them that you would just be the sperm donor," Brian reminded him. "I thought after what you saw me go through with the girls, you'd want to stay true to your word."

"Well, now things have changed. Daphne's dead, if you'll recall. We just buried her today!"

"Okay, okay," Brian said as he got out of his chair to walk over to Justin. Stopping in front of his lover, Brian began stroking his hands down the younger man's arms. "I'm sorry."

Justin smirked. "Brian Kinney is apologizing?"

"Yeah, he is. Look, I don't want to fight with you, especially after a day like today."

Justin nodded, still trying to grasp how his life had changed so much in just a few days.

Brian wrapped his arms around his blond. "You know I love you, right? We'll work this out. We can work anything out together."

Hearing this made Justin smile, happy that Brian was open about his feelings after being a tightly closed book for so long.

Brian looked at Justin, knowing exactly how to take his partner's mind off of anything negative, at least for a little while. He hit the remote for the stereo and put on the soft jazz that he knew Justin liked. Brian then started slowly stripping off his clothes, putting on a show for the younger man.

Justin's eyes started to glaze over and his pink tongue slid out, wetting his lips. He loved it when Brian stripped like that. His older lover was still just as sexy as the day he met him, licking his lips and moving his hips to the beat of the music. Justin started stripping his clothes off, wanting to feel Brian's skin on his.

When they were both naked, they held each other close and danced together like they had after the Pride Parade. They swayed together, letting their arousals build slowly. Brian captured the soft pink lips that he loved to kiss, rubbing his tongue across them, seeking entrance. Justin parted his lips and began sucking on Brian's tongue, moaning at how good it felt in his mouth. Very quickly they were both rock hard and needed more.

Brian pushed aside the papers that were on his desk and reached for the lube that he kept in his drawer for these occasions where he and Justin were able to get some alone time in the office. Kissing Justin softly, Brian laid back on the desk and handed Justin the lube, smiling. The desk was the perfect height for Justin to fuck him. That was one of the reasons he had bought this desk, not that he would ever admit that to his loving twink.

Justin set the lube next to Brian and knelt down. If Brian was willing to let him top, he wanted to open him up naturally, in a way that he knew drove Brian crazy. Brian smiled and pulled his knees up, loving what Justin was about to do. Justin put his hands on Brian's ass and parted his cheeks. Blowing softly on his hole, he watched it tighten up and then relax. He loved rimming the older man. Justin had spontaneously cum on more than one occasion just from rimming Brian, as the taste and smell of his lover was a very powerful aphrodisiac for him.

He licked softly at first, loving the way Brian responded, moaning and trying not to move. Justin stiffened his tongue and pushed it in, feeling Brian clench down around him. He kept fucking Brian's tight hole with his tongue, getting it as wet and as open as possible. Finally he added a couple of fingers, wanting to make sure he stretched him enough to accept his thick cock.

Brian was moaning loudly, needing more. "Sunshine, please... fuck me, now. I want... I need your hot, hard cock."

In his younger days, he would never have begged Justin to fuck him, but he had lost his reticence over the years and was unafraid to admit how much he loved taking it up the ass from his sexy partner. He also knew how much it turned Justin on to hear him beg for it.

Justin stood up, slicked his cock with lube, and slowly entered his older lover all the way without stopping. When he was balls deep inside, he waited so Brian could adjust.

Brian loved the feeling of Justin being inside him raw. He could feel every ridge and vein, but his favorite thing about it was that the mushroom head of Justin's cock was huge and dragged along his prostate in this position every time his sexy blond pulled back.

"Fuck me, hard," Brian moaned.

Justin pulled almost all the way out and slammed back in, causing Brian to groan loudly.

"Yes! God, you feel so good inside me. Fuck me, harder... faster... deeper."

Justin did as Brian asked, slamming in and out of his lover, hitting his prostate every stroke. He reached for Brian's cock, but Brian slapped his hand away.

"Don't need it. I'll come just from your cock... I'm so close."

Finally Justin felt the tingle in his spine and the tightening of his balls, knowing that this would be over soon. "I'm close, too. Oh, Brian... come with me."

"Yes... now, Justin, now!"

With loud groans they came, shouting each other's names.

As Justin gently pulled out a few moments later, he remembered why he went to see Brian in the first place. Not wanting to ruin their glorious moment, he decided to table the discussion of Keegan's adoption for another time.


That's What Friends Are For by charming1

With Keegan getting stronger each day and getting closer and closer to being released from the hospital, Brian, a person who liked order and control in his life, felt like things were spiraling out of his control. Not knowing who else to talk to, he called on someone who he hoped might be able to really put things in perspective for him and could give him an objective opinion.

Ringing the bell at the rectory, he hoped that Reverend Tom Butterfield still ran that church and was available. When the door was opened, both men look a little startled - Brian because he didn’t expect the person he was looking for to answer the door and Father Tom because he never expected Brian to come to the church on his own.

“Well, Father Tom, just the man I was looking for. Do you have time to talk?” Brian asked, hoping that he was doing the right thing. “You remember me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, Brian. Is everything alright? I certainly didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I kind of need some advice and was hoping that you could help,” Brian explained as the priest led him to an office down the hall.

“Okay Brian, what is it that you need advice about?”

“Well, Father…”

Brian told him about all that had transpired in the last week with Daphne’s death and Justin’s newfound fatherhood.

“... and what I’m concerned about is whether I’m cut out to be a full-time father, especially at my age,” Brian concluded. “I mean, I know I’m only forty-four, but… shit, that means I’ll be sixty-two when the kid goes off to college. If I’m lucky, he’ll be some kind of prodigy and graduate high school early.”

Father Tom chuckled. “First of all Brian, age is a state of mind. You are obviously still very active and take care of yourself. Do you have any friends your age who have young children?”  

“I do, actually. Ted and Blake have a son, Phoenix, who they adopted from Blake’s sister. He’s a year old and has mild Down Syndrome. Emmett and Drew have a six year old daughter, Lyla, that they adopted from Pakistan and a three year old son, Sawyer, that they adopted from South Korea.”

“Well Brian, I think the best thing you could do is talk to them, ask how they feel about being fathers in their forties and having such young children. Since I have never raised a child, that is probably the best advice I can give you. I wish there was more I could do for you.”

“You have helped, Father,” Brian answered honestly. “I never even thought about talking to Ted or Emmett about this; that is exactly what I should do. If those two nelly queens can handle raising young kids, then there must be a way I could, too. Thank you.”

The next morning, Brian called Ted, his trusted CFO and business partner, into his office.

“Theodore, I need to talk to you about something…”

At seeing the serious look on Brian’s face, Ted became concerned.

“What is it, Brian? You know I’m always here if you need anything,” he said to the man who had been there and literally given him his life back after Brian took a chance and hired the former crystal queen. Brian often joked that Ted was the Chewbacca to his Han Solo, owing him a life debt.

After Ted had lost everything, Brian had been his savior, making him a partner and the Chief Financial Officer of Kinnetik, after only one year as his accountant. Brian made Justin his business partner and Vice President of Kinnetik before the younger man had left for New York, and Cynthia was listed as Chief Operating Officer.

Brian wanted to ensure that Justin would have Kinnetik to fall back on without anyone being able to contest Justin’s rights to it, in the event that something happened to Brian. Brian and Justin owned controlling shares while Ted and Cynthia owned fifteen percent each. Even after all these years, Kinnetik prided itself on being a boutique company that focused on its client’s individual needs while making a shit ton of money for the four owners. After Justin had earned his degree in Media Design, they expanded the company from just doing old-fashioned print and television ads to online advertising and web design. All four of the partners benefited handsomely from the improvements.

“I want to know how you feel about being a new father at your age,” Brian said. “I was only a drop-in dad with Gus, even when I was in my prime during my thirties. Now that Daphne is gone, Justin intends for us to raise Keegan together. I just wonder if I can do it now, at this point in my life.”

Ted couldn’t help but smile whenever he thought about his sweet little boy. “Brian, I had the same worries when Blake and I decided to adopt Phoenix last year. Blake’s sister couldn’t handle the thought of raising a special needs child, but agreeing to adopt him was the easiest decision for us to make when she asked if we would take him. When I’m around him, I don’t feel like I’m too old to be his father. He is so much fun and loves it when we do silly things with him. He often makes me feel like a kid again. He is the best thing that could have come into our lives and has only strengthened our relationship.”

Brian nodded. “Thanks, Ted. You’ve given me something to think about. I guess I won’t fire you today.”

Ted moved to leave and got near the door before making his final comment. “You can’t fire me. I’m a partner, remember?”

The accountant laughed and got through the doorway just as a throw pillow came sailing across the room toward him.

Brian next called Emmett and asked if he would meet him for lunch at the cafe near Kinnetik. Emmett agreed to meet Brian after picking Sawyer up from preschool at noon. Brian arrived at the deli first and got a table, smiling when Emmett walked in, proudly holding his son’s hand while listening to his tales from school.

Emmett sat Sawyer in a booster seat and took a seat at the table across from Brian.

“Hi, Unka Brian,” Sawyer greeted.

“How's it going, rugrat?” Brian replied, smiling at the little boy he had always considered a nephew.

“Well Brian, this was unexpected. Is everything alright?” Emmett asked, wondering why Brian had wanted to see him alone.

“Why does something have to be wrong?” Brian questioned, shaking his head at the tall queen.

“Because it’s unusual for you to call and ask me to lunch, and especially with not wanting to meet at the diner.”

“I need to speak to you about something private, and if we talk at the diner I may as well stand in the middle of Liberty Avenue and shout it to everyone within earshot,” Brian answered, raising his eyebrows.                                                                                                                      

“Point taken. So, what is on your studly mind that I may be of help with, sir?”     

Brian took a deep breath and started telling Emmett what was going on in his head.“I want to know what you think of being a father at your age. You probably know by now that Justin wants to raise Keegan with me. I was hardly there with Gus and this is going to be much different, having a baby around all the time, not to mention that Gus is now fifteen years old. I regretfully recognize that I’m not as young as I was when he was little.”

Emmett smiled and carefully considered how to answer. “Well Brian, I know everyone sees me as just a silly, nelly queen, but with these two wonderful children, I would do anything, absolutely anything to make them proud to have me as one of their fathers. Other than Drew, our babies are the best, most important things in my life. We’re both so happy, and now that Drew has retired from football and gotten the job as the new sports guy at the television station, we both have time at home with the kids every day. Drew has also volunteered to coach a peewee football team next season, and I’m pretty sure he is hoping that Sawyer will want to play when he’s big enough. He loves going with his Papa to watch the games.

“Brian, children keep you young. There is nothing better than getting down on the floor and playing with a child to make you forget all the stress of being an adult. I have the best of both worlds, having a boy and a girl. I have tea parties and play dress up with Lyla, and then I get to be manly and play with trucks and blocks and cook in the play kitchen with Sawyer.”

Hearing his name, Sawyer said in his high-pitched voice, “I like playing with trucks, Daddy, and I like to do football with Papa.”

“I know you do, and Daddy loves playing with trucks with you, munchkin. Papa loves his football buddy, too,” Emmett said to his son before looking back at Brian. “As much as you love Justin, you will end up loving that beautiful baby just as much. That’ll probably make you love Justin even more, getting to share Keegan with him.”

“Thanks, Em,” Brian told Emmett sincerely. “I really appreciate your insight, and although I have a hard time imagining you wearing flannel and playing with trucks, it sure does give me something to think about.”

“Anytime, Brian.”

“Please don’t say anything to Justin about this. I don’t want to stress him out any more than he already is. I just needed to talk with someone closer to my age who has experience with this. Ted has been a lot of help, too. You may come off as a nelly queen, but you have always been a great friend to me and Justin. Hell, if it wasn’t for you, we probably wouldn’t even be together.”

Brian shuddered and blinked back tears at the memory.

“You are a lot stronger than you appear and can be a really tough butch when necessary,” Brian added.

Emmett put his hand over his heart. “Wow, Brian. That may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Even nicer than the toast you gave at my wedding last year when you congratulated Drew for finally making an honest woman out of me.”

“Alright, don’t get moist,” Brian said before a waitress came over to take their order.

Emmett continued to find himself in high demand after Justin called him that afternoon and informed him that Keegan would probably be ready to go home in a week or so. The new father was thrilled that his son would be well enough to leave the hospital soon, but had suddenly realized that he had nothing that was needed to take care of a baby - no crib, clothing, diapers, bottles... nothing at all.

Emmett was thrilled to shop for essential items and help set up a nursery for Keegan at Britin, and he promised to recruit Drew, Ted, and Blake to help. Justin had to remind him that evening when he stopped at Emmett and Drew’s house that Emmett would not be dressing a Barbie doll, like he did with his daughter. Justin was pretty sure that Lyla had more clothes and accessories than most teenage girls did. The six year-old even carried a purse. What she carried in it that she needed to bring everywhere, Justin had no idea.

Emmett rolled his eyes, but agreed.

The first thing Justin asked him to get was paint for Keegan’s nursery, which would be across the hallway from his and Brian’s master suite.

“We’ll need three gallons of Sky Blue and one gallon of Snow White. Would you and the guys please paint the walls and ceiling Sky Blue for me?” Justin requested.

“Then what do you need the white paint for, Sweetie?”

“It’s for the clouds, Em. I’m also going to paint a mural on the ceiling with Daphne looking down on our son, watching over him,” Justin explained with tears in his eyes.

Emmett hugged him, sniffling back tears of his own. “I’m sure it will be beautiful.”

Justin then took out his laptop and showed Emmett the furniture and other items he wanted, including a round crib, dresser, dressing table, cushioned rocking chair, car seat, stroller, and all the other things needed for a new baby. Justin printed out a list, and then gave Emmett his credit card so that he could go to the hardware and furniture stores the next day.

After he finished shopping, Emmett called to say that the furniture would be delivered in five days, giving them time to paint the room and Justin time to paint the mural on the ceiling, which would take at least one full day. They wanted to make sure the room had time to air out before Keegan came home.

Justin loved that he could provide a nice home and nursery for his son, but given a choice, he would rather have Daphne alive and taking Keegan home with her.

Emmett, Drew, Ted, and Blake, along with Lyla, Sawyer, and Phoenix, headed for Britin the following day to get the nursery painted and ready for Justin to work his magic on the mural. Emmett would keep the kids occupied while the other three men got the room painted.

Emmett had gone to Babies R Us and went hog wild buying baby clothes and other essentials. When they got to Britin, he put all of the new clothes in the washer so everything would be clean for Keegan, hoping that the premie-sized clothes he bought would fit him. He recalled having to buy premie clothes for Lyla, who had been a tiny little thing that was abandoned at an orphanage in Pakistan the day before he and Drew had arrived to find a baby to adopt.

After starting the laundry, Emmett set the kids up at the kitchen table with coloring books and crayons, telling them that they could color pictures for the new baby’s room. Emmett had fun with the kids, especially while watching over his two children who loved coloring like “Uncle Jussie,” as Lyla called her favorite uncle. Ted and Blake’s little Phoenix needed more help, so he sat on Emmett’s lap and held a crayon in his little hand with Em’s hand steadying it. Each of the kids colored several pictures for their new “cousin.”

Two hours later, with the laundry, artwork, and painting completed, minus Justin’s mural, the men and their rugrats headed home.


Take Me Home by charming1

The day finally arrived for Justin and Brian to take Keegan home from the hospital. He was almost six pounds by that point and was a hearty eater. His hair had even grown out quite a bit.

Curtis’s parents had come by the day before to visit. They knew that Justin intended to raise Keegan, but they just wanted to see the baby and tell Justin that they respected the fact that he was Keegan’s father.

Justin and Brian were dressing Keegan in a tiny blue bodysuit when they heard loud arguing coming from the nurse’s station just outside the nursery. Brian looked out of one of the glass windows toward the raised voices and saw Curtis arguing with the charge nurse about “his son” being released to Justin.

Brian opened the door to hear the conversation.

“I’m sorry Dr. Anderson, but since Mr. Taylor is the birth father and closest blood relative to the baby, he has the legal right to take him home,” the nurse explained.

“Oh, that’s bullshit!” Curtis yelled. “That is my wife’s child, so have every right to take him home with me.”

The nurse raised her hands palms up, clearly unable to help him. “My only suggestion is that you talk to a lawyer about this. The hospital has no authority to decide who has custody of a newborn, but all I know is that your wife is deceased and we can’t release a child to anyone else but the birth father.”

“How nice of you to show up, Curtis,” Brian interrupted. “Especially now that Keegan is being released today. You’ve only had almost two weeks to come and see him.”

Curtis curled his lip. “Jesus, Justin actually named him ‘Keegan’?”

“That was what Daphne wanted her son to be named,” Brian confirmed.

“So what? Daphne’s dead now and that’s a stupid fucking name,” Curtis said in a hateful tone.

Justin, having heard Curtis’s last statement, walked towards them with Keegan in a baby carrier. “It means ‘little fire’ which I think is perfect for him. You wouldn’t know, since you haven’t even bothered to come and visit him, even though you have been here on the medical campus working. Now, if you’ll excuse us, Brian and I are taking our son, Keegan Mercury Taylor, home.”

Brian had never heard Justin refer to Keegan as “our son” before then, and he didn’t quite know how to feel about it. Regardless, he stood beside his partner with his head held high, deciding that they needed to present a united front against Curtis.

Curtis let out a humorless laugh. “Oh, this is not over yet, buddy boy. I hope you have a good fucking lawyer.”

He turned on his heel and stomped away. Brian couldn’t help but notice that Curtis hadn’t even looked at Keegan, who had somehow slept through the commotion.

“Guess we’d better give Mel a call,” Brian mumbled.

Justin signed all of the release papers before taking Keegan over to the small photo area to have his hospital portraits taken. The handsome little boy was quite photogenic and held perfectly still for the photographer, probably because he slept through most of photo shoot.

Once they were ready to go, Brian brought his Audi sedan to the front of the hospital. They safely strapped Keegan into his car seat and hit the road for Britin.

Justin had spent almost two days painting the mural on the ceiling of Keegan’s new room, which had come out beautifully. He was thinking of doing a painting of it for his next show, if he could find the time. Justin and the guys had created the most beautiful nursery that Justin had ever seen, and he couldn’t wait to show it to Keegan and Brian.

Brian had been so busy at Kinnetik in Justin’s absence that he hadn’t yet gotten the chance to go out to Britin to see the completed nursery. Brian smiled at how happy Justin seemed during the ride out to the house, since he hadn’t had much to smile about lately other than Keegan growing healthier and stronger each day.

They had talked briefly about their living arrangements for the foreseeable future. Justin was going to work at Kinnetik part-time from home, suggesting that Brian hire another artist or two to pick up his slack. Since there was no room for the baby at the loft, Justin would permanently live at Britin. He didn’t want anyone else but the two of them to take care of Keegan, flat out refusing to hire a nanny.

Brian loved his partner more than he ever thought he could love anyone, but even after talking with Ted and Emmett, he was still nervous about the sudden changes in their lives and was very unsure of how to handle things without upsetting Justin. If no one else would be there to help with the baby, how would the two of them have any kind of life together that didn’t revolve around diapers, bottles, and not sleeping through the night when they actually did get to share a bed? He doubted that he would want to drive between Britin and the office five days a week, since it could be more than an hour each way depending on the traffic.

It wasn’t as if Brian didn’t love the baby; that was not even an issue. Keegan was the spitting image of Justin. The only things that he seemed to have gotten from Daphne were curls in his sunny blond hair and a slightly darker skin tone, and everything else was pure Justin. Watching Keegan grow up would be like getting to watch Justin grow up, except that Keegan would always have unconditional love from his father no matter who he grew up to love.

While Brian went through all of this in his head, Justin had been happily chatting away about the nursery. When Justin finally stopped talking long enough to turn in his seat and check on Keegan in the back of the car, Brian told him that he couldn’t wait to see what he had done at the house. Since it was a Friday, Brian planned on staying at Britin the whole weekend. He was hoping that Keegan would sleep well enough that he and his Sunshine could get some much needed alone time.

Brian had announced at the diner on Wednesday morning that they would be bringing the baby home on Friday and to spread the word that they would be unavailable until Monday morning. They did not want any visitors or phone calls at all during the weekend. Brian had done this so that they could get Keegan settled into the house and Justin could help Brian out with a very lucrative campaign for a client who always insisted that Justin work directly with Brian on their ads.

Once they had arrived at Britin, Keegan was awake and looking around. They brought the baby inside and proceeded to give him a full tour of the house, ending at the door of his nursery. Justin asked Brian to open the door, which the older man did.

Stepping inside, Brian looked around the beautifully furnished room and smiled. He then looked up and saw the mural that his loving partner had painted of the mother of his child.

“Sunshine, you know that I love all of your previous work and that I think you are absolutely brilliant, but that is the most amazing thing I have ever seen,” Brian said as he wrapped his arms around the younger man, who had Keegan in his arms. “Definitely the best piece you’ve ever painted. It’s like Daphne is really here watching over her child.”

The perfect moment was ruined when the doorbell rang.

“What the fuck?” Brian snarled. “Does anyone in this family listen? I said no one was to come here this weekend. Why don’t you show Keegan around his room Sunshine, and I will get rid of whoever that is.”

He walked downstairs and was confronted on the front porch by a scowling Michael Novotny, who started ranting the moment Brian had opened the door.

“Brian, what the fuck are you doing? Are you just going to let that little shit take over your life and make you raise a kid that isn’t even yours? What the hell does he expect you to do, just support him and his bastard kid so that he can sit on his ass and do nothing but use…”

Brian had been momentarily stunned to see his former friend at the door to his home. He looked at the man from head to toe, noticing that Michael had let himself go over the years, his boyish good looks now long gone. Michael had put on quite a bit of weight and his hair had grayed significantly, making him appear much older than his forty-four years. His vision must have gone as well, since he was now wearing glasses. He still dressed like a child, wearing a windbreaker, a vintage Captain America t-shirt, ratty blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Brian would have felt sorry for him if he didn’t despise him so much.

When Michael finally took a breath, Brian raised his hand and spoke up. “Uh, Michael? It's been almost eight years since I've had to hear your whining voice, and that is not nearly long enough after the shit you pulled. Get off of our property and forget where we live, otherwise I will call the police and have you removed in handcuffs. Go the fuck away.”

With that, Brian slammed the door in Michael's face and locked it. He then began to replay in his mind what had transpired at the hands of the shrill little man and how he and Justin had almost lost each other because of him.

Eight years earlier...

Michael had called and asked Brian to pick him up from the comic book store after closing to go to Woody’s for drinks. After months of careful planning and scheming, Michael had decided that now was the time for the final push that would separate his best friend from the young blond who had taken what Michael saw as his.

He had diligently been planting seeds of doubt in both Brian and Justin’s minds by subtly telling each of them that the other man had seemed to be getting on with his life. The fact that if his plan worked out the way he hoped would devastate his husband Ben and their son Hunter was totally inconsequential to Michael. The only thing that mattered to the little man was that he got what he had been wanting since he was fourteen: Brian all to himself.

When Michael saw Brian park his new Jeep in front of the store and get out, he turned his back to the door and pretended to be having a serious conversation on his cell phone.

Brian opened the door and heard Michael say, “Well, if that’s what you want, you really need to tell him.”

Michael then turned around and jumped as if Brian had surprised him, saying into the phone, “I… I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.”

Once he had pretended to hang up the phone and put it in his pocket, he looked at Brian guiltily and acted nervous.

“So, what’s up Mikey? Why do you look like you want to run away?” Brian asked, wondering why in the hell his friend was acting so weird.

“Umm… umm, what do you mean, Brian? I’m fine,” Michael claimed.

“No you’re not, Mikey. You know you’ve always had a terrible poker face. Who was on the phone and what the hell is going on?” Brian asked in concern for his best friend.

Calling up his inner drama queen, Michael wrapped his arms around Brian’s shoulders and started to fake-cry. “Oh Brian, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, but Justin is living with someone and he’s trying to figure out how to end things with you once and for all. I’m just so upset about all of this and I want to be there for you… any way that you need me to be.”

All of a sudden, Emmett stormed out from the back of the store screaming, “Michael Novotny, you God damned lying son of a bitch! I’ve been wondering why Justin has been so down lately, questioning if Brian even cared about him at all anymore. Now I know why.”

Michael had been so busy with his sneaky little plan that he had forgotten that Emmett came with him to the store earlier that day to help him do inventory before getting a headache and needing to lay down on the couch in his office.

Emmett continued, “I’ve been awake for a while, and I know that you weren’t on the phone with anyone when Brian walked in. Justin wouldn’t tell me why he thought Brian has been seeing someone else, but all he would say was that he felt like Brian was trying to get over him and wasn’t sure how to tell him. It’s been you all along, trying to break them up. How the fuck could you do something so nasty and underhanded? I have never been so ashamed to call someone my friend.”

Turning to Brian, the tall queen said, “Justin has been miserable without you. He wants to come home, but he doesn’t want to disappoint you and make you think he’s giving up on his dream of becoming a famous artist in New York just to come back here and be with you. You’re his dream, Brian. He cries himself to sleep at night because he’s so lonely without you.”

Brian felt like he was about to explode. “Is this true, Michael? Have you just been feeding both Justin and me lies to try and break us up? Is that why Justin barely talks to me when I call him; that is, when he even answers the phone? Because you have been telling him that I’ve gotten over him, that I’ve found someone else? How the fuck could you do that to us? I thought you were over this jealousy bullshit, especially since you’ve been with Ben for seven fucking years now!”

Michael looked like he was about to cry for real, telling Brian all he needed to know.

“Emmett, please call Justin right now,” Brian ordered. “If I try to call, he may not answer.”

Emmett called Justin, who answered the phone right away.

“Baby, you need to hear this. You are not going to believe what has been going on. Someone who loves you very much needs to talk to you,” Emmett said before handing Brian the phone.


“Brian?” Justin said, his voice cracking.

“Justin, Michael has something he needs to tell you.” Brian put the phone on speaker and said, “Tell him, Michael, all of it. Right fucking now.”

Michael, having no other choice, proceeded to admit what he had been doing to try and break up the couple in an attempt to get Brian to finally give himself to him. By the time Michael finished, he was bawling his eyes out.

“Brian, I am so fucking sorry,” Michael said. “Please forgive me… I could never live with myself if my stupid little plan ruined our friendship.”

Speaking loud enough for Justin to hear him through the phone, Brian said in the calmest tone he could handle at that moment, “Michael, don’t contact me or Justin again. We don’t want to hear from you or even know that you exist. You are dead to us. If you see us out somewhere, pretend you don’t know us. Goodbye, Michael.”

Walking away from his former friend, Brian again spoke to the one person who made his life worth living. “Sunshine, how long do you need to pack up and settle things there? I’m getting in the Jeep right now to drive to New York and bring you home with me where you belong. I’ve been so fucking lonely without you, and I don’t ever want to be separated from you again. I should never have let you go in the first place. We’re never going to let anyone else decide the fate of our relationship.”

Crying, Justin answered, “I’m going to start packing right now. The furniture isn’t mine, so I don’t have much to bring back. How fast can you get here? I love you and I just want to be with you.”

“I love you too, Justin. I’m leaving now, so I should be there in about six hours. Make sure the bed has sheets on it, because I need to be in that sweet ass of yours as soon as I get there. I’ll call when I reach the city. Later, Sunshine.”

“Later, Brian.”

Emmett had followed Brian out onto the sidewalk.

“You coming, Em?” Brian said as he handed his phone back. “I can take you home, and then I need to head out to bring Justin home once and for all.”

“Actually, my car is at Michael and Ben’s house. I may just wait there to make sure that Michael tells the hunky professor all about this.”

“Great idea, I’ll take you over there. And Em, thank you… so much. I know that this couldn’t have been easy for you.”

“I’m just sorry that I didn’t figure it out sooner. Three long years you two have wasted, being miserable without each other...” Emmett responded, shaking his head.

“Don’t blame yourself. Justin and I should have talked more to each other about our relationship and less to other people. We’ll be fine now, thanks to you.”

Brian grabbed Emmett in a crushing hug before they climbed into his Jeep. He dropped Emmett off at Michael and Ben’s, where Michael later came home and spilled the beans to his husband at Emmett’s insistence. Ben had been furious and told Michael to get the fuck out, filing for divorce the very next day. The entire family, minus Debbie who only put up with him because he was still her son, washed their hands of Michael. Debbie still had family dinners but Michael never attended, since no one considered him part of the family anymore. Melanie never let him see Jenny Rebecca again.

Brian had broken every speed limit to get to Manhattan to bring his Sunshine home.

Back upstairs at Britin...

Justin heard shouting while he was settling Keegan into his new room, pointing out to the baby Daphne’s face on the ceiling where she would always be watching over him. When he heard Michael’s voice traveling up the stairs, he wondered why the sniveling, whiny-voiced parasite was darkening their doorstep. He decided that he wouldn’t interfere and would wait for Brian to come back upstairs to find out what was going on.

Once his lover returned to the nursery, Justin looked at the older man and raised his eyebrows.

Brian shook his head. “I have no fucking idea what he thought he was doing coming here or who was dumb enough to tell him about Keegan.”

He told Justin what Michael had said during his rant. As he spoke, Justin’s face showed the fury that he felt towards the man who had almost destroyed their relationship, and if it had not been for Brian holding him and reminding him of how much he loved him, Justin would have taken off after the unwanted interloper.

Brian was glad that he had answered the door rather than Justin, because if Michael had started screaming at Justin the way he had at Brian, Justin probably would have beaten the nasty little prick to a pulp. Justin may not have looked like it, but he could fight like a pit bull. Wrestling with the blond a few times himself had convinced Brian of that, along with Justin having taken some self defense classes while living in Manhattan.

Justin had soon calmed down and Keegan was sleeping in his new crib, so Brian led Justin into the master bedroom, taking the baby monitor so they could hear if they were needed.

Once they were inside with the door closed, Brian kissed his blond and started stripping him of his clothes. When Justin was naked, Brian laid him onto the bed on his stomach and reached for the massage oils that were in the nightstand drawer. Starting at his Sunshine’s neck, Brian proceeded to massage out all the tension he could feel in his younger lover.  

Eventually Brian included licks and kisses to his massage, eliciting moans and wiggling from the pale body beneath him. Brian put some lube on his fingers and started to circle the hot little hole between Justin’s cheeks, smoothing his index finger over it before slowly dipping inside. He soon added a second finger, scissoring them to open up the rosebud so that he could make love to his partner.

Justin was so turned on by Brian’s ministrations that he told the older man, “If you have any intention of fucking me, you better get to it. I’m going to be finished soon and won’t need anything more from you, stud.”

Brian took the hint and quickly removed the rest of his clothes before adding some lube to his now very hard and needy cock. Flipping Justin onto his back, Brian wrapped the pale furry legs around his waist and slipped his steel rod into the tight heat of his lover.

They rocked together, kissing and looking into each other’s eyes, whispering words of love. Both started to feel the tingling of their impending orgasms. They sped up the pace of their coupling, soon shouting and shooting their essence, Brian into Justin’s tight ass and Justin all over both of their stomachs.

Brian rolled to his back, pulling his still-attached lover to rest his head over his heart. They lightly dozed as their breathing returned to normal.

They heard small cries coming from the baby monitor a short while later.

“Well Sunshine, at least your son is a proper WASP, waiting for us to be finished and not interrupting,” Brian quipped, knowing that they would most likely get interrupted often in the future.

Justin playfully slapped Brian’s chest before climbing off of him. “I’m sure that’s it, or maybe he just didn’t want to hear you grumbling about not getting laid,” he replied, getting up and putting on a robe before heading to the nursery to see what his son needed.


Love Will Keep Us Together by charming1


A little over one week after bringing Keegan home from the hospital, Justin was reading to him in the living room at Britin when the doorbell rang. He put the baby in his bouncing lounger seat and answered the door, finding a man standing on the porch who Justin didn't recognize.

"May I help you?" Justin asked.

"I'm looking for Justin Taylor," the man answered.

"I'm Justin Taylor," the blond replied, confused.

"You've been served," was all the man said before handing Justin an envelope and going back to his car to leave the property.

Justin closed the door and went back inside to see what the papers were about, though he could safely guess. Opening the envelope, he saw that Curtis Anderson was suing him for sole legal and physical custody of Keegan. The petition also requested that the court grant Curtis temporary custody while the case was pending.

Justin picked up his son and held him close.

"I'm going to fix this," he whispered to Keegan. "No one is going to take you away from me, my sweet little boy, I promise."

Justin wished that Brian had been there to help calm him, but he was at the office. He called Brian, who said that he should call Melanie up in Canada and have her start on whatever she needed to do to get this taken care of.

When Justin called Melanie to let her know that Curtis had filed for custody, she told him that she would make some calls and be back down to Pittsburgh the following week. They had thirty days to respond to Curtis's petition, so there was no huge rush.

"Do you think Brian will mind if I stay with you guys while I'm there?" Melanie asked. "I love Deb and Carl, but three adults sharing a bathroom is brutal, especially when one of them is an old man with an enlarged prostate."

Justin chuckled. "Sure. We have plenty of room here, and I know all about life at Deb's house. I lived there with her and Vic for a few months, remember?"

"Oh yeah, you did. Don't worry, sweetie, everything's going to be okay. Give that beautiful little angel of yours a kiss for me, and I'll see you soon."

Justin smiled, happy that he had Melanie on his side. No matter how ugly things had ever been between Mel and Brian, she and Justin had always had a special bond. "I will, Mel. Thanks."

Things had been particularly tense between Brian and Justin since Keegan had been home from the hospital. It stressed both of them to be apart so much. Brian had only gone home to Britin over the weekend and only one night during the week, claiming that it was too much driving back and forth when he had so much to do at Kinnetik without Justin being there. Brian complained that he needed to constantly babysit the art department, because apparently all he seemed to be able to find and hire lately were morons. Their sex life was suffering greatly, adding even more stress.


Justin called Brian's cell phone the day after receiving the notice of Curtis's lawsuit, but the call went straight to voicemail. He then called the office and learned that Brian took his private jet that morning to Atlanta to meet a potential client. When he was finally able to get in contact with Brian later that day, Brian made it sound like it didn't even matter that he had left without telling him, since Justin wasn't expecting him back at Britin for a few days anyway. Justin, exhausted from taking care of a rather grouchy Keegan all day, didn't have the energy to argue with his lover.

Once Brian returned from his trip, he went home to Britin for a long weekend knowing that he and Justin needed to get things worked out between them. Not communicating had ended their relationship more than once before and he was determined to not let it happen again.

Trying to start the weekend out on a positive note, Justin had made his signature jambalaya for dinner and opened a bottle of Brian's favorite wine. He had also fired up the hot tub for later. They needed to talk and come to a compromise on some things.

Neither one of them was willing to let their relationship disintegrate, since they had worked too hard and had been through too much to lose it all now. They would fix this somehow, and they both knew that together they were stronger than they were apart. The addition of Keegan to the equation only made it more important that they make their relationship work, and even more so now that Curtis had filed his lawsuit.

When Brian walked in the door, Justin wrapped his arms around his gorgeous partner and gave him a long, deep kiss to welcome him home.

"I thought we could have a nice dinner, and then relax in the hot tub and talk. We really need to work things out between us. I love you," Justin told the older man, adding in that last line to let him know he wasn't mad at him.

"I love you too, Sunshine. We'll fix this, there's no other choice," Brian replied, happy that the weekend seemed to be starting out well.

They kept the conversation light at dinner, discussing the family, local gossip, and some projects Justin needed to work on for Kinnetik. After they had finished eating and loaded the dishwasher, Justin fed Keegan and got him settled in his crib while Brian checked his email.

The men undressed, grabbed their robes, and headed for the hot tub. They never bothered with swim trunks when it was just the two of them, knowing that they would eventually take them off anyway.

Once they were relaxed with glasses of wine in hand, Brian opened the conversation. "Justin, I understand that you want to be here with Keegan and not have a nanny raise him. He needs you, but I also need you at Kinnetik. How about a compromise? Debbie is finally going to be retiring from the diner at the end of the month, for real this time. What would you say to working at Kinnetik two days a week and letting Deb watch her newest grandbaby at her house? That way you could get the art department running smoothly again and I will be able to spend some more time with my favorite blonds. With you keeping the art department in line, I won't have to work ten or twelve hour days anymore and will only spend the night at the loft when necessary."

Justin weighed what Brian was suggested before answering. "That could work. I'll only be a quick drive away if Keegan really needed something. Do you think that Deb would go for it? I love the idea because I really don't want him with strangers."

"Deb already said yes, because it was her suggestion. I was telling her about your useless fools that can't function without you when I went to the diner for lunch the other day, and she mentioned that she would love to watch Keegan so you could help keep me sane and the art department safe from me raging out on them."

"You know that I would love to be able to spend more time with you. I miss you and it's obvious that our current arrangement isn't working, especially when we don't even talk about things like business trips to Atlanta," Justin said, looking away.

He didn't want to start yelling like an enraged housewife, but he wanted Brian to understand that it had hurt when he took off without so much as a phone call or text message.

"You're right, Sunshine. I shouldn't have left town without telling you. I didn't know until the night before that I was going to leave. I know that I acted like it wasn't that big of a deal, since you weren't expecting me here until this weekend, but I realize now that it was. I promise I won't do anything like that ever again, no matter how lucrative the contract is."

"Did you get the account?" Justin asked.

"Of course I did. I'm fucking brilliant."

After their talk, they both felt better about things.

Brian started moving his neck around, trying to loosen up the tension he had been feeling. He seemed to be over-exaggerating his movements and grunted a few times.

"Come over here, old man, and I'll give you a massage to help you relax," Justin said, smiling at his partner's blatant attempt to get some attention.

Brian was so happy to get a massage from his Sunshine that he didn't even fight the "old man" remark.

Justin situated himself into the corner of the hot tub and Brian sat between his legs. He started massaging Brian's neck and shoulders, eventually adding soft kisses along the tanned neck of his lover.

Brian was moaning in response to the loving ministrations of his sexy blond. He arched his back and pressed his ass back against Justin's crotch.

"Hey Sunshine, you're hard." Brian whispered.

"What do you expect, Brian? We haven't fucked in almost five days and your hot, naked ass is pressed against me."

Brian raised said ass up before reaching back and pulling Justin's cock between his cheeks. He then pressed back, rubbing his lover's hard cock around the rim of his hole. Soon Brian had worked the head of Justin's cock past the first ring of muscle. He pulled Justin's legs around his hips, impaling himself.

As Justin was engulfed by the tight heat of his lover's ass, they both stilled, letting Brian adjust to the fullness. They started rocking together slowly, letting the pleasure build gradually. After many minutes, Justin sped up and reached around to jerk on his lover's throbbing cock.

Brian twisted his head around and captured Justin's mouth, twirling their tongues together as they came. Justin wrapped his arms tightly around the older man, leaning his head on Brian's back as the two calmed their breathing, staying connected until Justin softened and slipped out.  

After they separated, Brian turned around so he was facing his lover. They were sitting there holding each other and making out when they heard whimpers coming from the baby monitor.

"You know what, Sunshine? I'm really beginning to like that kid of yours. He is very polite and his timing is perfect."  

Justin smiled. "What do you expect? He is the perfect little WASP, holding his evening poop until after Daddy gets his rocks off."

With that comment and a wiggle of his ass, which Brian slapped when he stood up, Justin got out of the hot tub. He put on his robe and went up to the nursery. Once the baby was in a clean diaper and back to sleep, Justin headed for the master suite.

Brian was sitting in an armchair waiting for him. He got up, took off his robe, and helped Justin out of his.

"It's always better to share a shower and conserve water, don't you think Sunshine?"

Justin smiled and followed him into the bathroom, knowing that they were about to start Round Two.


Justin called Debbie the next day to check on when she would be retiring and when she wanted to start looking after Keegan.

"Shit, I can retire tomorrow if you want me to," Debbie said, thrilled over the thought of getting to take care of her newest grandchild.

They spoke about Keegan's schedule and what she would need at her house to take care of him. Brian and Justin decided that Tuesdays and Thursdays would be best for Justin to come into the office.


Justin was putting the finishing touches on dinner when he revealed that Melanie would be flying into Pittsburgh on Monday. After Brian seemed okay with that, Justin then announced that she would be staying with them.

"We have plenty of room here," Justin said to his grumbling partner. "Where do you want to put her?"

"How about in the garage? Or better yet, the stables?" Brian replied, smirking. "She may get a little bit lonely, since we don't have any horses, but..."

"Be serious," Justin said with a laugh.

"Okay, fine. We can have the cleaning service get the pool house ready for her. That way I won't have to live in the same house with her, which should make things more pleasant for everyone. She'll have plenty of room to do her Zumba or whatever the fuck she does to keep herself looking like a twelve year-old boy. We really shouldn't even call it a ‘pool house' though, since it's actually a small, two-bedroom home that just happens to be near the pool. "

Justin looked at him with his Sunshine Smile. "That's perfect, Brian. I'll call the cleaning service first thing in the morning and also have some groceries delivered before I go to pick her up from the airport. Mel can shop for more stuff when she gets here."


We Are Family by charming1


Justin was very surprised when he arrived at the airport on Monday afternoon and found both Melanie and Jenny Rebecca waiting for him near the baggage claim.

"Uncle Sunny!" JR screamed when she saw him.

Justin was glad that he was pushing Keegan in a stroller instead of hauling him around in the baby carrier, because the little girl launched herself into his arms.

"Hey, beautiful," Justin said as he hugged JR tightly.

Melanie joined in on their hug and gave Justin a kiss. "Hey, kiddo."

The three of them embraced for a few moments, almost forgetting about Keegan until JR asked to be let down to see him.

"This is so cool," JR said when she saw the baby. "I already have a brother that looks like Uncle Pop, and now I have one that looks like Uncle Sunny."

While JR looked into the stroller and cooed at the baby, Justin whispered to Melanie, "I didn't know you were bringing her."

"Uh... yeah, I hope that's okay," Melanie said uneasily.

"Of course it is," Justin said. "When I told Deb that you were coming, she insisted we come over for dinner this evening. I know she'll be thrilled to see both of her grandbabies. Isn't JR missing school, though?"

Melanie bit her bottom lip. "I'm going to homeschool her online until we make permanent arrangements here."

Justin immediately knew what that meant, but since they were in public, he just nodded and didn't press her further.

They headed out to Debbie and Carl's house where Grandma Deb was indeed very happy to see her granddaughter. Brian showed up in time for dinner, during which everyone tactfully did not mention the elephant in the room while they were eating.

Brian started grilling Melanie as soon as JR had excused herself to go upstairs and play on her iPad.

"Alright, who cheated on who this time?"

Melanie sighed. "Nobody cheated, at least I haven't and she hasn't admitted to it. Lindsay has turned into an unbearable cunt and I've been wanting to leave her for months now. She's been different ever since we moved to Toronto. At first it was very subtle, but lately it has gotten so much worse. When Justin called me last week to tell me about Curtis's lawsuit, I took that as my ticket out. I just couldn't take it anymore. This Lindsay is not the same person I fell in love with.

"I honestly think she might have some kind of mental disorder, but she refuses to see a doctor or even admit that anything is wrong. She thinks I'm just picking on her or trying to make her feel bad when I bring it up. I think she may have developed PTSD after the Babylon bombing and Dusty's death. I thought moving away would help, but it didn't. She really took it personally after Justin moved back here from New York, as if she had been living vicariously through him. It was like he was giving up on herdream of becoming a famous artist."

Melanie had more to say to both Brian and Justin about Lindsay, but would tell them in private later. One thing in particular was how Lindsay had made a photo album full of pictures of Brian and Justin, but Lindsay had photoshopped her own face in place of Justin's. Melanie had found it one day hidden in their closet when she was trying to find a pair of shoes but never confronted Lindsay about it. The level of her obsession with Brian and her jealousy of Justin had almost become scary.

"I wouldn't have ever gone to New York if it weren't for Lindsay blowing smoke up my ass, telling me I was going to make it big after one positive review," Justin admitted. "Really, I think she was just trying to keep me away from Brian. She has acted weird towards me ever since I've come back home. She hardly said two words to me when we came to visit you guys over Christmas. I know she's always held a candle for Brian, just like Michael."

"It's never been a secret that she always dreamed of having a family with you," Melanie said to Brian. "That's why she chose you to be Gus's father, like one day you'd suddenly decide that you wanted to be with her as a real couple. She'll argue that she's a lesbian until she's blue in the face, but she's definitely bisexual. When she found out that Justin wants to raise Keegan, it really sent her over the edge. He's not the famous artist that she wants to be, but he's getting to have the family with you that she's always wanted."

"That is so fucked up," Brian said, shaking his head. "She knows that she'll never be with me like that, no matter how much I love her and our son."

"I also recently found out that she has been keeping Michael informed about everything that goes on within the family all this time."

"What?" Justin, Brian, and Debbie asked simultaneously.

Melanie nodded. "Yep, I overheard one of their phone conversations when I came home early from work one day. Sorry Deb, I know he's your son, but after what he did to Justin and Brian..."

"No reason to apologize, honey," Debbie said. "I don't blame any of you for cutting him out like you did. I want all of you to know that I never mention any family stuff to him, even when he asks. I had no idea how he knew any of the things he would question me about, like if Brian plans to help raise Keegan. He says, ‘Since you won't tell me things, I have to find out somehow and I won't reveal my source.' I guess now we know who that source is."

"Why would Lindsay still talk to Michael when she knows that none of us, minus his mother, want anything to do with him?" Brian asked Melanie.

"She said that she felt like Michael deserved to have her in his corner after the rest of us disowned him, since he ‘so selflessly' gave up his parental rights to JR so Lindz could adopt her, and then gave us his consent to move to Toronto. I reminded her that you did the same for Gus, but it's as if she forgets that while giving more loyalty to him than to you. She actually said that it wouldn't have been the worst thing for you and Michael to get together, that it would have brought our family closer together since the fathers of our kids would also be a couple. She eventually confessed to giving him regular calls letting him know how JR is doing, along with sharing pictures and videos we take of her. Hearing that made me feel so... violated, so betrayed."

"Lindsay must have been the one who told Michael about Keegan being released from the hospital the day he showed up at Britin," Justin said to Brian, who was doing some deep breathing to keep calm.

Melanie nodded. "Lindsay told me that Brian demanded Michael leave the property and would call the police if he came back. I'm glad JR and I will be staying at Britin, so he won't come by in an attempt to visit her. He'll unfortunately always be her father, but I don't want him getting anywhere near JR. He's just a shitty human being, and I don't want my daughter to be around someone like him, someone so callous and selfish. She doesn't remember him and I would like to keep it that way."

"We just installed a new security system at the house, since I'm home alone with the baby so much," Justin told her. "There are a few cameras outside, and there are video monitors with panic buttons throughout the house and in the guest house. If Michael shows up again, it'll only take one press of a button to call the police without even having to open the front door."

"That's good. In the meantime, I'll probably be filing for divorce and full custody of JR soon."

"Wow," Debbie said sadly. "I'm sorry, honey."

"Don't be," Melanie answered quickly. "Sure, I'm going to really miss Gus, but I couldn't stay in Toronto or with Lindsay anymore. I'll still get to see him when he comes down here during the summers and holidays to visit. I don't know how I lasted over a decade up there. I never made as much money as I did at my old law firm here, since I was usually assigned court-appointed cases, and I never really felt at home. Even though it was my idea to move to Canada, I admit now that it was a mistake leaving all of you."

"Hell, the least you could have done is bring Gus with you, too," Brian mumbled.

"That's what Gus said, too, and I wish that I could have," Melanie affirmed. "He gave me more grief for leaving than Lindsay did, bitching at me for leaving him as the solo target in her crosshairs. Lindsay said, ‘If you're taking your kid, then you're leaving me mine,' as if suddenly DNA made a difference. I hated leaving Gus there alone with her, but there was no way I was leaving JR behind, too."

"Is she..." Carl began to ask Melanie, using his cop brain. "Has Lindsay ever gotten violent with you or one of the kids?"

"No. If she ever had, I would have brought Gus with me no matter what she had to say about it. That is, after I called the police and had her locked up."

Brian promised himself that he would speak to his son soon and make sure that he was safe, just in case Lindsay had started to get violent with him after Melanie had left.

"Anyway," Melanie said, "I shipped the rest of our clothes and some personal items to Britin, and the boxes should start arriving tomorrow."

"Just how long do you two plan on staying with us?" Brian asked, prompting Justin to pop him on the shoulder.

"They can stay for as long as they want," his partner answered. "They're family. Sharing our home with Melanie and Jenny Rebecca is the least we can do for them, especially with this lawsuit going on. Plus, Mel can help me take care of Keegan during the days when I'm home, right Mel?"

"Of course," Melanie answered, relieved that she wouldn't have to worry about her living situation for the time being. "I'm sure JR will pitch in, too. One of our neighbors has a two year-old that Gus watches once in awhile, and JR became an expert diaper changer."

Even though he loathed changing diapers and had to admit he was relieved that Justin wouldn't be home alone with the baby when he was at work, Brian wasn't exactly thrilled about gaining two indefinite lodgers. He figured he would just have to grin and bear it, and hopefully he and Melanie wouldn't end up killing each other before she found more permanent housing.


The following evening at Britin, Melanie and Justin were talking in the kitchen about his case with Curtis.

"Justin, I have a question," Melanie began, not sure if she was about to open up a huge can of worms. "Why have you and Brian not gotten married yet? I mean, you were going to symbolically get married before you moved to New York, so why haven't you guys done it for real? Lindz and I were expecting to get a wedding invitation within days of it becoming legal in Pennsylvania a couple years ago. We thought maybe you were holding out until it was legalized nationwide, like Deb and Carl were. Now it's legal everywhere, but still, no wedding."

"I honestly don't know, Mel," Justin said with a sigh. "Ever since I've been back from New York, we've never really discussed getting married, either symbolically or legally. You know how Brian feels about the institution of marriage, and his opinion hasn't changed since it's become legal for all of us. He's been supportive of our friends getting legally married, like you and Lindz after you moved to Canada, and then Ted and Blake after it was made legal here, followed shortly after by Emmett and Drew, but he hasn't caught the marriage bug. Why are you asking?"

"Well, courts seem to favor giving custody to married couples over unmarried, not that it necessarily makes sense. A piece of paper certainly doesn't show the love that two people have or don't have for each other. My marriage license proves that. Now, don't you tell Mr. Big Ego I said this, but anyone can see just by looking at the two of you how much in love you are. He absolutely adores you," Melanie replied, shaking her head at the reality of Brian I don't believe in love, I believe in fucking Kinney being so much in love with the blond.

"I'll talk to Brian about it later and let him know what you said. I'll leave out the nice part."

She smiled at that. "I wouldn't want the asshole to know how much easier he is to read these days, now that you two are together and better than ever. I'm really happy for you guys, Justin. You compliment each other so well, and you somehow manage to bring out the best in him. What you and Brian have together is something most people can only dream about."

When she finished that statement, there were tears in her eyes that she tried to quickly blink away.

"Do you know how soon we might get a court date? I really would like to get this settled as soon as we can," Justin asked, wanting to change the subject due to it obviously upsetting Melanie.  

"I called in a favor with a court clerk I know right after you called me last week, and we got a date a week from today."

Justin thought about it for a moment. "That would have been Daphne's due date."

Melanie patted his arm. "She had to rearrange the judge's schedule, but we'll have one hour for an initial hearing at eleven. The actual trial probably won't be for a few months, but we need to get a list of character witnesses for the two of you started. I'll need to get a kickass opening argument prepared for the first hearing. I don't know Curtis's lawyer very well, but from what I've heard, he likes to drag up any dirt he can on people to make them look as unfit as possible. He's going to personally attack both you and Brian, whether the points he brings up are true or not. We're going to have to counter that as much as we can and make Curtis look worse. Did Daphne ever say anything bad about Curtis that we could use?"

Justin thought for a moment. "He used to take Adderall during college to help him study, and it wasn't prescribed to him."

Melanie scoffed. "Who the fuck didn't? Unless he was ever convicted of anything related to that, it wouldn't do us any good. I already did a criminal records check of him online, and apart from a couple of speeding tickets, he's clean."

"Well okay, how about the fact that he admitted to Brian and me that he had been cheating on Daphne with one of his interns? Learning about his infidelity was what made her so upset she crashed her car."

"There we go," Melanie said, perking up. "The hospital may have a policy against that kind of thing, which could get him suspended or even fired. That would hurt his earning potential. We could say at the trial that a man who was cheating on his pregnant wife was obviously not putting his family first. If Daphne hadn't passed away on that day, do you think she would have left him?"

"Oh, definitely. She had a suitcase all packed in the trunk of her car. She wouldn't have put up with that shit. She was probably hoping she could stay here, and she certainly would have been welcomed with open arms."

Melanie jotted some notes down on a legal pad. "Alright. I think our main argument against Curtis's petition for custody is that there was no actual Donor Agreement between you, him, and Daphne."

"I didn't sign one because Scary Lawyer Lady said that I couldn't agree to give away what wasn't legally mine yet, since paternity wasn't established."

"She was right, but courts do honor those agreements sometimes because it establishes the intent of the parties. It will now be up to the court in our case to determine if an oral contract had been made and if it was binding. We can point out that any agreement you made was with your understanding that Keegan would be raised by Curtis and Daphne, not Curtis alone. Now that Daphne is gone, the terms of the agreement have changed.

"We'll also need to show the judge that you and Brian are the best ones to raise Keegan, that you can do a better job parenting than Curtis could. I had one of my old law friends file a subpoena for Curtis's employment records to see how many hours he works per week, and we will really push the fact that he would be raising Keegan as a single father. The court will ultimately make its decision on what is in the best interest of the child."

"Keegan's best interest is being raised by a father who loves him," Justin said, tearing up. "Brian hasn't said it, but I know he loves Keegan, too. I have been there for that baby since the beginning. Curtis never came to visit him in the hospital, and I practically lived at the hospital until he was well enough to come home. Then suddenly, on the day Keegan was being released, Curtis showed up at the nursery deciding that he wanted him, having zero attachment to him other than Keegan being Daphne's son. He obviously didn't love Daphne anymore, so why the fuck would he want to raise her child?"

"That's for him to answer in court," Melanie said. "What would you say to possibly granting Curtis visitation?"

Justin shook his head. "Absolutely not. I don't want my son around him. I promised Daphne that I would raise him, and I'm sure she wouldn't want Curtis to have anything to do with him. Having Curtis in his life would just confuse him."

"How about Curtis's family? Do you think they'll want to be involved in Keegan's life?"

"I don't know," Justin said. "I talked to his mother at Daphne's funeral, and then both of his parents came to the hospital to visit him once. They said they respected the fact that I'm Keegan's real father and that I want to raise him. I haven't heard a word from any of them since then. I'm sure they all know that Keegan went home with me and that Curtis filed his suit."

"Have you talked to Brian yet about whether he'll want to adopt Keegan if you win the case?"

Justin felt guilty. "No... every time I try to bring it up, I chicken out. We usually end up having sex instead."

Melanie cringed. "Well, I think you should do your son a favor and keep your pants on long enough to have a serious discussion about this with Brian, along with the marriage issue. Courts always favor two-parent households, and our judge has always run as a Democrat and probably has a positive opinion about gay people. If I can honestly tell the judge that if you're granted custody, Brian will adopt Keegan and you guys will eventually get married, that can really help our case. "

"You're right. Brian is in his office, so I'll go talk to him right now. It's a lot safer than trying to talk in the bedroom."

Mel shuddered, not wanting to think about them that way. She would never forget the day that she and Lindsay had walked into the loft uninvited and found an underwear-clad Justin being spanked by Brian. After that, they had never dared to enter without knocking again.

Justin walked down a short hallway and knocked on the door of Brian's office.

"Come in," came the voice from inside.

Justin entered, and Brian looked up from his work and saw the look on his partner's face.

"Why so serious, Sunshine?" Brian said in a bad impression of the Joker.

"Brian, do you have a few minutes to discuss a couple of things?"

"Sure, what's up?" he answered, setting aside the boards he had been going over to give Justin his full attention.

"Well, Mel and I were talking about the custody case, and she asked me a few things that I can't answer without your input."

"Like what?" Brian asked curiously.

"She wants to know why we haven't gotten married yet and if you're planning on adopting Keegan."

Brian took a deep breath as he gathered his thoughts. "Well, I thought we had decided that it didn't matter if we were married, because we know that we love each other and a piece of paper wouldn't change anything. And as for adopting Keegan, we should just wait and see how the court case comes out before deciding anything. Does that answer all of your questions?"

He wondered if there was more to this, based on the defeated look on his young lover's face.

"Melanie said that the court might be more willing to give us the baby if we were married and you wanted to adopt him," Justin said quietly.

"Our marital status is really none of the court's fucking business. A piece of paper doesn't make someone a better parent. I mean, just look at Jack and Joan; being married sure didn't stop them from fucking me and Claire up royally. Plus, we shouldn't get married just because society says we should be married to raise a child together."

Justin couldn't hardly breathe from the tightness he felt in his chest, so he just nodded.

"Okay," was all the blond managed to say before leaving the room, blinking back tears at feeling like he was being dismissed.

He went upstairs into his and Brian's bedroom, needing a minute to calm down before going across the hall to check on Keegan. He didn't want his son to feel how tense he was.

Brian came into the bedroom and walked over to where Justin was standing, looking out the window over their snow-covered grounds. He wrapped his arms around the younger man and tried to pull his shirt off.

Justin stopped him, turning around to face the older man. "What are you doing, Brian?"

"That should be obvious, Mister 1500 on his SAT," Brian quipped.

"I'm not in the mood. You can't fix everything with sex."

That said, Justin walked out of their room and into the nursery, taking a few deep breaths before picking up his smiling son to settle in the rocking chair and read to him.

Brian retreated back down to his office to sulk. Justin had never turned down sex, and he was beyond shocked.

Justin hadn't really mentioned getting married since returning from New York nearly eight years prior, and Brian figured that the blond was fine with being happily unmarried. Many of their gay friends had gotten married since it was legalized, and he had never once seemed jealous.

Brian knew that talking about him adopting Keegan before they even knew the outcome of the case was a waste of breath, but the real problem was if he even wanted to adopt the baby if given the opportunity.

He figured he had some serious thinking to do.

Baby Mine by charming1

The initial hearing for Curtis's lawsuit occurred a week later. Brian didn't think his appearance in court that day was particularly necessary, since he wasn't named as a party to the suit, but he didn't want to rock the boat by refusing to go. Things at home had been rather tense since he had basically refused to marry Justin or discuss adopting Keegan. Justin had told him that he understood and put on an indifferent act, but Brian knew that he was in deep shit, despite Justin eventually having sex with him after turning him down that one time.

Even though it was only an initial hearing and not an actual trial, several members of the extended family had showed up to offer their support to Justin. Jennifer, Molly, Debbie, Carl, Emmett, and Ted were there. Blake had offered to watch Keegan and JR that morning so Debbie could attend.

Also in the courtroom were Daphne's parents and sister Delia, who were solidly behind Justin's decision to raise Keegan after they had found out about Curtis's infidelity. Delia, who was just as tenacious as her baby sister, had gone to Curtis's house after Daphne's funeral to demand to know why he hadn't shown on that important day. Curtis, in his guilt, had confessed to cheating and recalled the last conversation he had with his wife. Delia later heard from Justin about Daphne's dying wish.

While Justin had all of those people sitting behind him, he immediately noticed that there wasn't a single person sitting on Curtis's side of the courtroom. He had assumed that Curtis's parents would be there in support of their son, since the Andersons had always appeared to be a close knit family, but even they weren't there.

Once the judge called the hearing to order, he asked Curtis's lawyer, a hotshot named Charles Turner, to give his opening remarks.

"Your honor, the foundation of my client's petition for sole legal and physical custody of the minor child currently known as Keegan Mercury Taylor is built on three things. First of all, the respondent, Justin Cole Taylor, made an oral agreement with my client roughly thirteen months ago that he would donate his sperm to my client's wife, Dr. Daphne Anderson. The fourth donation resulted in the conception of the minor child at the center of our case. The agreement explicitly included that Mr. Taylor would relinquish his parental rights to any children that resulted from that donation so my client could legally adopt the child and raise him or her as his own. The child was born on January 16th of this year at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center five weeks premature. My client's wife unfortunately succumbed to injuries she sustained in a car accident that had occurred just prior to the birth of her child by emergency c-section, passing away during the surgery.

"As nothing but a simple sperm donor, Mr. Taylor should have automatically given up his parental rights to the child after the birth. Instead, Mr. Taylor, without the consent of my client, had a paternity test performed while the child was in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital that established he was the biological father. Mr. Taylor then, again without the consent of my client, filed a birth certificate naming himself as the child's father and giving the child his last name. I believe that you would agree, your honor, that this is a clear breach of the oral contract. When the child was released from the hospital on January 29th, Mr. Taylor, along with his partner, Brian Aiden Kinney, took the child from the hospital and has been raising the child as his own son ever since in a home outside of Pittsburgh. My client tried to stop them from leaving the hospital but was told by hospital staff that Mr. Taylor was, by their standard, the child's father and was the only person allowed to take the child.

"Secondly your honor, once this case is set for trial and I have the opportunity to call character witnesses, you will see that Mr. Taylor and his partner Mr. Kinney, with whom Mr. Taylor has lived with as if they were spouses for nearly eight years, are in no way fit to raise a child. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney are very well known within the gay community of Pittsburgh, mostly due to the fact that Mr. Kinney is the owner of a gay nightclub called Babylon. The club encourages its patrons to engage in promiscuous sex and drug usage. Both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney are known drug users."

Justin and Brian both had to bite their tongues. Melanie had warned them that Turner would attack them personally, but it still angered them. Neither ever did drugs or drank to excess anymore. They had each quit smoking a few years before, after one of Brian's routine physicals showed that he was at risk for developing emphysema due to his pack-a-day habit. Neither had touched another man since Brian had brought Justin home from Manhattan.

They each also wondered who these so-called character witnesses could be, since they knew that no one close to them that actually knew them would ever speak out against them.

Turner continued, "Additionally, Mr. Kinney is the father of a fifteen year-old boy whom Mr. Kinney relinquished his parental rights to roughly six months after his son's birth. During those six months however, Mr. Kinney was a very poor parent and has been absent throughout most of his son's life.

"Our third point, your honor, is that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney, as you probably assume by now, are openly gay men in a romantic relationship. There have been several years worth of studies performed that show children do best when raised in a home with a mother and a father, and that it could be detrimental to a child to be raised by a gay parent. In addition, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney are currently not married and have no plans to get married anytime in the future, which would not provide the child with a stable home with two committed parents that children thrive in best. It is also unclear whether Mr. Kinney intends to adopt the child if Mr. Taylor is awarded custody. My client hopes to one day remarry and provide his son with a step-mother to help raise him, and my client would like to give his son some siblings in the future."

Justin wondered to himself if Curtis already had a step-mother for Keegan in mind, perhaps the intern he had been fucking before Daphne's death.

"In closing, your honor, my client requests that you order Mr. Taylor to relinquish the child to him before five PM today pending the conclusion of this case. We pray that at the conclusion of this case, you will give sole legal and physical custody of the child to my client and allow him to change the child's name to Curtis Logan Anderson Junior."

Justin knew that this request would be part of the hearing, but it still took his breath away. Melanie grabbed his hand under the table and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

Brian snickered and coughed at hearing the name change request, because of course the egotistical asshole would want to name the boy after himself.

Turner thanked the judge for his time before Melanie was given the opportunity to make her opposing argument. She had a speech of her own already prepared, but modified it slightly to refute each of Turner's three points.

"Your honor, much like the petitioner's case, our case is also threefold," Melanie began. "First, the oral contract that my client, Justin Cole Taylor, made with Dr. Curtis Anderson was made with the understanding that the child, whom I will refer to here on out by his legal first name ‘Keegan,' was to be raised by both Curtis and Daphne Anderson. The terms of the contact changed when Daphne died shortly after Keegan's birth, rendering it void. I argue that an oral or written contract such as a Sperm Donor Agreement, which promises before the child is even born that the father will voluntarily terminate his parental rights after the birth of the child, is against public policy and unenforceable due to paternity not yet having been established because, again, the child hasn't been born yet. Also, the insemination that resulted in Keegan was not performed by a doctor licensed to perform artificial inseminations, so my client therefore was not a ‘true sperm donor' under the law, and did not automatically give up any rights to a child born from that donation. Additionally, I plan to call two witnesses at the trial who will testify to hearing Daphne tell Justin before she died that she wanted him and his life partner Brian Kinney to raise Keegan.

"Our second point, much like the petitioner's second point, questions whether or not Dr. Anderson is equipped to properly raise Keegan. As Mr. Turner said, Dr. Anderson is now a widower which means if he is granted sole custody of Keegan, he will be raising him as a single parent. After subpoenaing and viewing Dr. Anderson's employee records over the past five years from UPMC where he works as an orthopedic surgeon, I found that Dr. Anderson works an average of fifty-two hours per week. He often works many overnight shifts, weekends, and holidays. My only presumption is that Dr. Anderson plans to have a family member, friend, or possibly hired help to take care of Keegan while he works those very long hours.

"My client, however, has a very flexible work schedule due to co-owning an advertising company called Kinnetik with Mr. Kinney as well as painting professionally. He is easily able to perform his work from home. He spends only sixteen hours per week at the Kinnetik office, during which time a very close family friend named Deborah Horvath babysits Keegan in her home that is only a few blocks away from Kinnetik. Otherwise, Keegan spends all of his time with Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kinney, and as of the last couple of weeks myself and my eleven year-old daughter at the Taylor-Kinney home outside of Pittsburgh.

"Furthermore, Dr. Anderson never once came to visit Keegan at the children's hospital during his fourteen-day stay, despite the fact that Dr. Anderson's employee records show that he was there on that same medical campus six out of those fourteen days after he had returned to work following his wife's death. The sign-in sheets at the NICU and the regular newborn nursery will show that my client was there to visit Keegan every single day for several hours at a time, sometimes staying overnight. Mr. Kinney also visited multiple times. Dr. Anderson has failed to establish any kind of relationship or connection with Keegan or even asked to see him since he was born five weeks ago.

"I will only briefly comment on the assertion that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney would be poor parents. Yes, Mr. Kinney owns a gay nightclub, but that does not automatically mean that either one of them engages in promiscuous sex or drug usage. If it would please the court, my client and Mr. Kinney would each happily submit to drug testing, immediately if requested. Both of them have clean criminal records. Also, the fifteen year-old boy that Mr. Turner mentioned Mr. Kinney signing his parental rights away for is my son Gus with my estranged wife Lindsay Peterson-Marcus. Mr. Turner must be aware of this fact. Mr. Kinney gave up his rights to allow me to legally adopt Gus, since Lindsay is the biological mother. The arrangement we had prior to Gus's birth was not unlike the one Mr. Taylor made with the Andersons. Mr. Kinney was under no obligation to be involved with Gus's life whatsoever, though he has always been there for him financially and otherwise despite the fact that my wife and I have lived in Toronto for almost eleven years.

"For my third point, I would also like to mention some studies that research how children fare being raised by a same-sex couple or gay person as opposed to one consisting of a man and a woman. From my understanding, the results of the study really depend on the group that performs the study. Those done by conservative groups usually conclude that children are harmed by being raised by gay parents, while those done by more liberal groups conclude that they're not harmed. I could cite numerous studies by reputable groups that show same-sex couples to be just as capable of parenting a child as opposite-sex couples. I will call at least one witness at trial who was raised by a same-sex couple, and I also argue that a child would fare better being raised by a loving same-sex couple rather than a single parent who works fifty-two hours per week in a very high-stress job.

"Your honor, I ask that my client be granted sole legal and physical custody of Keegan Mercury Taylor at the conclusion of these proceedings. It is undisputed that Justin Taylor is the biological father and that he has been raising Keegan since he was released from the hospital a little over three weeks ago. Keegan is very well taken care of and provided for, as well as much loved by his large family, many of whom are sitting in this courtroom today. I respectfully assert that the petitioner has failed to make a convincing argument that would compel you to order Keegan be taken from Mr. Taylor's custody and placed with the petitioner while this case is pending. In fact, he said nothing that would make you believe that Keegan is in any sort of danger while being under Mr. Taylor's care. Thank you."

The judge recessed the hearing so he could go back to his chambers to make his decision.

Justin rushed out of the courtroom and ran down the hallway to a restroom, not even able to shut the stall door before he lost his breakfast. He was still heaving when Brian walked into the room to check on him.

Brian leaned over and rubbed his partner's shoulder. "You okay?"

Justin flushed the toilet and nodded. "Yeah... days like this, I wish I still smoked. My nerves are fucking shot."

Brian chuckled and helped the blond to his feet. They walked out of the stall and hugged each other tightly.

"It's going to be okay, Sunshine," Brian whispered into Justin's soft hair. "There is no reason to move Keegan from the only home that he has ever known, and Curtis couldn't say that Keegan is in any danger being with us. Also, the judge saw that we have plenty of support on our side and no one, not even his parents, showed up to support him."

Brian put his hand under Justin's chin and angled his face up, then placed their foreheads together before looking into the worried blue eyes of his partner. "I love you, always and forever."

They returned to the courtroom a bit later and waited for the judge to make his decision. The man in the black robe came back in a few minutes before noon.

"Each side made very good arguments today," the judge began. "I'm sure everyone would like me to keep this short and sweet, since it's close to lunch time. Today I am only going to rule on Mr. Anderson's request to be granted temporary custody of the child. I must agree with Ms. Marcus in that Mr. Turner failed to convince me that letting the child remain in the custody of Mr. Taylor would be dangerous to the health and safety of the child. Therefore, the child will remain with Mr. Taylor pending the resolution of this case."

Justin cried quiet tears while the court and the lawyers compared their calendars. The trial date was set three months out, giving each side lots of time to prepare.

After the judge adjourned that day's hearing and left, Justin and Melanie stood up and hugged.

"Thank you," Justin said to her. "You were so amazing."

"We won today's battle," Melanie said. "The war is only just beginning."

Justin made sure to thank everyone who had come that day to support him before they all left the courthouse. Everyone, minus Daphne's family, went to the diner for a celebratory lunch.

It was one of Justin's usual days to go to the office, but he was too shaken up to get any work done. Brian wanted to go into the office for a few hours, saying that he would use a car service to get home. Justin and Melanie had ridden into town with Brian, so Justin drove Brian's new Audi Q7 SUV to take Melanie to Ted and Blake's house, where JR was waiting for her, as well as relieve Blake from baby duty.

Justin decided to take his son on a trip, telling Melanie that he would be back to pick her and JR up a little later. He then drove across town to the cemetery where Daphne was buried a few weeks before. He had not been out to visit her since the day they had laid her to rest.

He carried Keegan over to Daphne's grave, which was covered in straw since it was too early in the year to grow grass.

"Hey, Daph. I wanted to bring Keegan here to see you and let you know what was happening. I named our son Keegan Mercury Taylor. I figured that since Freddie Mercury was the singer of our song, that you would like that for his middle name. I did exactly what you wanted me to do. Brian and I brought Keegan home with us to Britin because the loft really has no room for a baby. You would love the nursery, it's even better than the one you had set up at your house, and I only had a few days to get it ready. I painted a mural of you on the ceiling, watching over our son. He's a tough little guy and only had to spend a couple of weeks in the hospital. Keegan is doing great and he is such a good baby. Even Brian thinks so, but I think that's only because he usually waits until after we're finished fucking to cry. I can see you shaking your head at that."

Justin chuckled before he continued. "Curtis is suing me for custody. Melanie moved down from Canada though, and she's my lawyer now. She and Lindsay split up, and it looks like it may be for good this time. She did so great today, convincing the judge to let me keep Keegan while the case is pending. She said that it was good that the EMTs heard you say that you wanted me to raise Keegan, and it should help when we go to the trial.

"I just wanted you to know that I am doing my best to keep my promise, and I will come back to let you know what happens. Curtis is going to have to put up one hell of a fight to try and get Keegan away from me. We love you Daph, and I miss you so much."

Justin bowed his head and cried for the loss of his best friend, as well as for the love of their son and the fear he had of losing him, too.  

After leaving the cemetery, Justin picked up Melanie and JR to head back to Britin. Justin was quiet all the way home, so Melanie made sure he was okay before she and JR went out to the guest house.

Justin fed Keegan and put him down for a nap, then headed up to his studio to paint. He needed to do something to take his mind off of the events of the day, plus he still needed to complete one more piece for his art show the following month. He had the baby monitor with him in case his son needed anything.

He started working on the painting of the mural he had done of Daphne for the nursery ceiling. He wasn't sure that he would ever be able to sell this piece or even put it in his show. He figured that the ceiling of the nursery would eventually be repainted, so he wanted to have it on a canvas.

Justin had been working on the painting for quite a while. He realized that it had become dark outside and he hadn't heard the baby lately. He started cleaning up so that he could get Keegan's evening bottle ready before it was needed. As he was washing out the brushes, he thought he heard something over the monitor. He shut off the water and listened closer.

Keegan was crying, and Justin heard Brian talking to him. Listening closer, he discovered that Brian was actually singing "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses to the baby. He rarely ever heard Brian sing and had forgotten what a nice singing voice he had.

"He's got eyes of the bluest skies as if they thought of rain. I'd hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain..."

Justin had tears running down his face as he listened to Brian finish the song. He then heard Brian talking to the baby.

"You are so beautiful, just like your daddy. I want everything to work out for us Keegan, and I really want to be your other father. It will be like getting to watch my Sunshine grow up. The only difference will be that you will have the unconditional love of both of your fathers, no matter who you fall in love with or what you want to do with your life. Just know that you will always be loved, my precious little boy."

Justin knew that Keegan needed his dinner, but he didn't want Brian to know that he heard anything, since those words were obviously only meant for Keegan. He stopped by a guest bathroom to splash some water on his face and headed toward the nursery. When he got just outside the door, he called out to the baby, "Sorry Keegan, I'm coming. The battery died on the baby monitor and I just realized you must need to eat."

He went into the nursery and found Brian rocking the baby in the rocking chair. He then walked over and gave Brian a kiss.

"When did you get home? I was painting and noticed it had gotten dark and I was coming to feed Keegan. I started on the painting of Daphne's mural."

Brian put a hand on Justin's cheek. "What's going on, Sunshine? You've been crying."

"I guess the stress of the day really hit me while I was in the studio. Keegan and I visited Daphne earlier before we came home, and that was the first time since the funeral that I've gone out to her grave. You know how my allergies act up."

Brian stood up with Keegan in his arms and kissed Justin on his forehead. "I've already changed him, so how about I feed him and we'll watch you make a feast?"  

Justin smiled and fake-complained, "So you get to just sit there and hold a bottle, and I have to slave over a hot stove to make you something to eat?"

Brian nodded, as if it had been Justin's idea. "Yeah, that works for me. What do you think, Keegan?"

He held the baby up to his ear as if Keegan was whispering to him. Brian then smiled and nodded again. "Keegan says it sounds good to him, too."

Justin looked at his two favorite people and laughed. "Fine then, I guess I'd better get to work."

Melanie came over to talk after they were finished eating. JR had tagged along and asked if she could play with her ‘little brother' until it was time to put him to bed.

When Brian looked at her with a puzzled expression, she explained, "Gus is my brother and Uncle Sunny is Gus's Papa, so that makes Uncle Sunny's baby my brother, too."

Brian thought about that for a moment. "I guess that makes sense, and yes, you can play with him. Just be careful."

"I wasn't planning on using him for target practice, Uncle Pop," JR said, rolling her eyes at Brian. "Don't worry."

Cats In The Cradle by charming1


Justin was reading to Keegan in the living room one day when the doorbell rang. He sat the baby in his lounger seat and went to the door. He was shocked to look on the security monitor and find Gus standing on the porch with a guitar case on one shoulder and a duffel bag on the other.

Justin opened the door and stared at the boy.

Gus opened his lanky arms wide. "Surprise, Papa J."

Gus looked exactly like his father, although he still had a few more inches to grow before catching up to Brian's height of six feet, two inches. Justin remembered Brian telling him that he hadn't reached his full height until he was nearly twenty, so he knew both Kinney men would tower over him someday. At that moment, he and Gus were roughly the same height.

The fifteen year-old was going through a hipster phase, which had been preceded by a punker phase as well as a gothic phase and a grunge phase. The kid changed his appearance so often, it was hard for anyone to keep up. On that day, Gus was wearing a light brown corduroy jacket, a red flannel shirt, and a pair of skinny jeans. The jeans were tucked into a pair of Doc Martens combat boots, a holdover from the previous phases. His chestnut-brown hair was long on the top and shaved short on the sides, sort of like a pompadour but combed over to the left. His beautiful hazel eyes were behind a pair of black-framed glasses, which Justin knew Gus wore ironically, since he had perfect vision. He had a whisper-thin mustache that he was very proud of. Brian had remarked at Christmas time when they had gone to Toronto to visit that Gus would have been a lumbersexual if he could only grow a beard. The teen was thin as a rake, having not yet developed his father's lean musculature.

Justin took the boy into his arms and pulled him into the house. "Gus, what the hell are you doing here? Not that I'm not thrilled to see you, but why didn't we know you were coming? Where's your mother?"

"Um... well... ah..." Gus hesitated, his voice cracking boyishly.

"Gus," Justin said sternly.

Gus put his bag and guitar case on the floor. "Papa J, I can't take it anymore. All Mom does is scream and cuss at me... that is, when she comes home at all. I don't know where she goes and she screams at me when I ask her, saying she's the mother and I'm the kid, so it's none of my fucking business what she does. She never cooks anymore, and I'm getting really tired of eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen noodles. That's all she ever keeps in the house."

Justin looked at Gus sympathetically. "Was she okay with you coming here?"

"Well, I... um... I didn't exactly tell her I was coming."

"How did you get here? Did you take a bus or something?" Justin asked, wondering why Lindsay hadn't called yet to say that Gus was missing.

The boy shuffled on his feet nervously. "Um... I hitchhiked."

"You did what?" Justin yelled.

"Relax!" Gus replied, holding out his hands in a defensive gesture. "I do it all the time."

"You..." Justin began to say before stopping to take a slow breath to calm himself down. "Gus, do you have any idea how dangerous that is? You could have been raped or killed. I was pretty fucking dumb at your age, but I wasn't dumb enough to hitchhike. I'm surprised your guitar and duffle weren't stolen."

"Please, if someone wanted to take Sylvia, they would have to kill me," Gus said proudly, referring to his prized acoustic guitar. "Besides, I couldn't have crossed the Canadian border alone without a parent's permission even if I had the money to take a bus or fly, so I had to hitchhike. Luckily I was picked up by some old stoner dude that let me hide in his trunk at border patrol, but he was only going to Buffalo. A couple of nice truckers brought me the rest of the way."

Justin shook his head. "Jesus, Gus... Mel and Brian are going to shit when-"

"No, Papa J, please don't tell them," Gus begged. "Just... I'll tell them I took a bus, okay? I had no choice but to come here. If I would have stayed at that house with herfor one more day, I would have lost my fucking mind."

"When did you leave your mom's house?"

"Two days ago. I snuck out in the morning, which was easy since Mom was still in bed and would have thought I had gone to school when she woke up and saw I was gone. Anyway, where's Ima?" Gus asked, "Ima" meaning mother in Hebrew.

"Out in the guest house with JR, probably doing school work. Hey, you should come meet Keegan before you go to see them."

They took Gus's things into the living room, where the baby was dozing.

Gus smiled at seeing the little sunny blond. "Can I hold him?"

"Sure, just be careful. He's very delicate."

Gus picked up the miniature Justin and hugged him to his chest. "Hey, Keegan. I'm your big brother Gus, and we're going to have lots of fun together."

Justin teared up, happy to have both of his sons home, and touched to see Gus accept Keegan so quickly. "Could you keep an eye on him for a few minutes? I need to go check on something."

Gus nodded and sat down on the couch, cuddling the small, sweet smelling bundle in his arms.

Justin went into Brian's office and called his partner.

"Sunshine," Brian answered.

"We have company. Care to guess who's here?"

"Not Michael again," Brian said, his voice filled with anger.

"No," Justin said quickly. "If he were here, I would be talking to the cops instead of you. Guess again."

"I have no idea. How about a hint?"

"Well, except for the outfit and silly haircut, it's someone that looks just like you."  

"What the hell, Gus is here? What about Lindsay?"

Justin proceeded to tell his partner about his conversation with their oldest son, minus the part about the hitchhiking. Brian was furious, but not at his son. He was happy that Gus was there. He would deal with Lindsay later.

"Well Sunshine, what's for dinner? I think I'll head out now, since I don't have anything pressing for the rest of the day and I'm missing my family."

Justin was finishing up with dinner when Brian arrived home. He had made roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables along with fresh dinner rolls.

Brian walked up behind his partner, wrapped his arms around him, and kissed his neck.

"Dinner smells great, Sunshine. Where's our wayward son?"

"I figured Gus could use a nice home cooked meal after what he's been eating lately. He's in the nursery playing his guitar for Keegan. You have time to take a quick shower before dinner if you want. It will be ready in about twenty minutes."

Justin turned around in Brian's arms for a proper kiss, having not seen him since the previous day.

Brian broke the kiss several seconds later and cracked, "If Gus is still as terrible on that guitar as the last time I heard him play, I'm sure poor little Keegan has his hands over his ears."

Justin laughed before saying, "Oh, Mel and JR will be joining us for dinner."

When Brian started to make a face, Justin added, "Gus's request. The girls don't actually know he's here yet and he wanted to surprise them."

Brian just nodded and headed for the stairs. He could hear someone struggling to play an acoustic guitar and singing. The singing wasn't too bad, but the guitar playing... well, maybe he could take some more lessons.

He found Gus sitting on an ottoman in Keegan's room with his back to the door. Keegan was laying on a beanbag chair in front of him.

"Come break me down, bury me, bury me, I am finished with you," Gus sang slightly off-key. "Look in my eyes, you're killing me, killing me-"

"Christ, Sonny Boy," Brian interrupted. "Why do you always have to sing such fucking depressing songs?"

Gus got up to give his father a hug.

"It's ‘The Kill' by Thirty Seconds to Mars, Pop," the teen informed him.

"It makes me want to slit my wrists," Brian replied as he embraced his bony son.

Melanie and JR were thrilled to see that Gus was there and he was happy to see them, having missed them both terribly. Dinner went very well, with no sniping or arguing.

"After you guys left, Mom used me as a sounding board whenever she was pissed, which was like, pretty much all the time," Gus informed Melanie. "I tried to stay out or locked in my room whenever she was home."

"I'm so sorry, baby," Melanie said to her son with tears in her eyes. "I was hoping she wouldn't take her anger out on you, but..."

Gus grabbed her hand. "I know, Ima. You had no choice. I understand why you had to leave and why you couldn't take me with you. I heard what Mom said, about how I had to stay if you were taking Sis."

Once they were all finished eating, Brian suggested that they go down to the basement and play pool and darts.

Gus and Melanie talked about Lindsay quietly, out of earshot of JR while they played a game of darts. Melanie wanted to know what had happened after she and JR left Toronto. He repeated what he had told Justin, and Melanie was appalled that her wife had treated their son so shabbily.

"What do you want to do?" she asked the teen.

"I'm not going back to Toronto," Gus answered sternly. "I had to leave most of my stuff behind, but I don't care. I can't live with Mom anymore. I want to stay here with you, Sis, Pop, and Papa J."

Melanie gave her son a kiss on his cheek and a tight hug.

Brian instructed JR in pool as they played a game against Justin. JR was a natural pool player, and she and Brian won their game.

"Way to go, munchkin," Brian said to the little girl.

JR scoffed. "Of course I won. I'm awesome."

He looked down at mini-Melanie with a sneer. "We won... you didn't even know how to play an hour ago."

"Oh, please, Uncle Pop," she replied, rolling her eyes. "As if you stood a chance without me. We all know who the talented one in this house is, and it's not you."

Justin, Melanie, and Gus laughed in amusement while Brian pretended to be offended. They all knew that he loved verbally sparring with the kid and he always let her win. Like her mother, she would make a great lawyer someday.

Gus and JR teamed up against Justin next for a game of pool while Melanie and Brian played a game of darts.

"What are you going to say when you call Lindsay?" Melanie asked Brian.

"I don't know... I can't believe she hasn't called either of us yet to let us know that he's run away. Surely she's noticed that he's gone by now, right?"

"All I know is that we have to do whatever we need to do to keep Gus here and away from her," Melanie said. "I talked to her briefly on the phone last week, and she's pissed because I refuse to give her any money. All the money you've sent for Gus over the years was always kept in a separate account that only she has access to. I have no idea how that money has been spent or if she was just saving all of it to send him to college, but I'm not going to give her more money to spend on whatever the hell she wants. She obviously hasn't been buying Gus any decent food over the past few weeks. He didn't have much weight to spare, but he's probably dropped a few pounds since I left."

Melanie threw a dart at the board, landing on the bullseye and winning their Cricket game.

"Yes!" she yelled victoriously.

Brian hated to lose, but he congratulated Melanie with a high five. "Great job."

Gus looked over at them and smiled. "I never thought I would see the day when the two of you would look happy at being in the same room for any length of time, let alone wanting to do anything together."

Brian returned his son's smile. "Yeah, me neither."

After another hour, the little noisemaker upstairs went off. Gus and JR argued about who would get to feed and change their little brother. They finally decided that they would do it together.

Lindsay failed to call the following day as well as the next. Brian gave her a call four days after Gus had left Toronto.

"Hey Lindz, how's it going?" he asked, playing it cool.

"Well Brian, how the fuck do you think it's going?" Lindsay said in an irritated tone. "Mel left to go take care of ‘Justin's little problem,' and I have no idea when she plans on coming back. She even took JR out of school! All our son does is sulk in his room, and he only comes out to go to school and eat everything in the house. That's how it's going."  

"Well Lindz, let me talk to the boy. Maybe I can straighten him out about some things," Brian said, trying to sound like a concerned father.

"Fine, maybe he'll listen to you."

Brian smiled and shook his head when he heard Lindsay yelling for Gus to come downstairs.

"He's not even answering me, Brian. I'll have to take the phone to him."

He heard Lindsay stomp up the stairs and open a door.

"He's not here," she said, seemingly unconcerned. "He knows he's supposed to come right home after school. I bet he's over at that little prick Brendan Jackson's house. They do nothing but play video games and smoke pot, and then he comes home expecting me to have cooked him a three-course meal, like I'm his fucking maid."

"When was the last time you saw him?" Brian asked, getting more agitated with his son's mother.

"Well, um... I didn't see him this morning, but I woke up late."

"So when did you last see our son, Lindsay?" Brian demanded.

"I'm not sure, Brian. Like I said, he's probably at a friend's house. I'll call around and look for him," Lindsay answered uneasily.

"Lindsay, why aren't you answering my question? When was the last time you saw our fifteen year-old son?" Brian demanded again, trying to keep his temper in check.

"I don't remember... maybe a couple of days ago. Do you think he may have run away? Maybe I should call the police."

Brian decided it was time to drop the bomb. "Actually Lindsay, yes, Gus did run away... four fucking days ago! He has been here at Britin for the past two days. Before that, he was on a bus from Toronto alone. He's been very vague as to how he crossed the border without a parent, but that's not important right now. Would you like to tell me what the fuck you've been so busy doing that you failed to notice that our son has been gone for four fucking days?"

"Don't yell at me, Brian! This is not my fault. You or Mel should have called me as soon as he showed up there," Lindsay said, obviously trying to turn things around and blame them for Gus running away. "I can't believe the school hasn't called me yet."

"No, Lindsay. You should have noticed immediately that he was gone and called me, Mel, or the police. It's not like he's a fucking chihuahua that escaped through a hole in the fence."

Lindsay huffed out a breath. "Well Brian, send him back to Toronto on the first bus out. A plane would be faster, but he should spend several hours on a bus to think about what he's done. Let me know when I should expect him."

"No, I'm not sending him back," Brian replied vehemently. "He said he was miserable there with you, and I'm not going to force him to go back if he doesn't want to. He wants to stay here with us, and that's what Justin, Mel, and I want, too."

"I really don't care what any of you want, least of all Justin. Why the hell would Justin have any say in this, anyway?" Lindsay sneered. "Fine. I guess that I'm going to have to fly down there and drag him home myself, kicking and screaming if I have to. I'm his mother and I will decide where he lives."

With that comment, Lindsay hung up.

Brian stared at the phone in his hand. He could not believe that the woman he had been friends with for twenty-five years and made a child with was acting like such a sanctimonious bitch.


The Hand That Rocks The Cradle by charming1

Brian, Justin, and Gus were enjoying dinner in the breakfast nook of Britin two days later when the doorbell rang. Justin got up and answered the door only to be shoved to the floor by a furious Lindsay.


“Where the hell is my son? Gus, get your ass in here now!” Lindsay screamed in the direction of the kitchen.

Brian and Gus ran to the foyer after hearing the commotion.

Gus looked down at Justin lying on the floor. “What the hell, Mom?”

Brian, after helping Justin to his feet and making sure he was alright, turned to his son’s mother. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Lindsay? This is our house, not yours. You can’t just barge in like a fucking freight train, shoving people around and screaming.”

Ignoring Brian, Lindsay turned to Gus. “Get your things, we’re going home. A cab is waiting outside.”

“No, Mom,” Gus replied firmly. “I’m not going back to Canada, ever. I want to live here with Ima, my sister, and my fathers.”

“Gus, you are coming home with me and that is final. Furthermore, you only have one father,” Lindsay nastily told her son.

“No, Mother, I have two fathers. Papa J is as much my father as Pop.”

Lindsay put her hands on her hips. “Gus, Justin is not your father. He is just your father’s current trick, and don’t you ever let me hear you call him anything but his name. I’d actually rather you never refer to him at all.”

Gus gave his mother a withering look and moved over to Justin. He put his arms around him in a gentle hug and loudly asked in Lindsay’s direction, “Are you okay, Papa J? How about we go up to check on my brother and let Pop handle this, huh?”

Gus lead Justin towards the stairs. Brian kissed both of his favorite boys on the forehead before they left.

Turning to Lindsay, Brian glared at her and spoke in a very clipped tone. “I think you’d better leave now, and do not come back to Justin’s and my house uninvited ever again. Call me tomorrow when I’m at the office, and we can meet somewhere in town. You had better adjust your attitude in the meantime.”

With that said, Brian opened the front door and pointed to the cab sitting in the driveway. Once Lindsay was back out on the porch, Brian slammed the door as hard as he could, armed the alarm, and went upstairs to check on his family.

Brian looked into the partially opened doorway of Keegan’s nursery. He saw Justin in the rocker holding Keegan while Gus sat on the floor with his head on Justin’s knee. Justin was reading Pat the Bunny to Keegan, taking the baby’s tiny hand and letting him feel the different textures in the book.

When Justin stopped to turn the page, Gus remarked, “I remember when you used to read that to me. It’s one of my earliest memories.”

Brian watched as his lover smiled and ruffled their older son’s hair, his blue eyes filling with tears.

Pushing the door open all the way, Brian stepped into the room and smiled at his little family. “Are you guys okay?” he asked, concerned for both of them.

Justin nodded and wiped his eyes. “I can’t believe that she would treat me like that, say those hurtful things about me. I always thought she liked me.”

Gus looked up at his Pop. “Now do you understand why I don’t want to go back?”

“I’m sure your Ima doesn’t want you to go back, either. I’m just glad she didn’t see that exchange downstairs or there would have been bloodshed. You don’t need a reason to live with us, Sonny Boy. We’re your fathers, and you are always welcome in our home. We love you.”

Justin reached down and squeezed Gus’s shoulder in agreement.


The next day, Lindsay called Brian and asked him to meet her at a park near Kinnetik to talk to him about Gus. It was the same park where they would often take their young son to play before she and Melanie had run off to Canada.

Brian headed into the park and found Lindsay pacing back and forth near a bench, talking to herself. Figuring that she was rehearsing what she was going to say to him, he called out to her.

“I’m here, Lindz.”

Lindsay turned around, startled after not having heard him approach. “Brian, I want you to tell Gus that he can’t live with you, that he needs to go back to Toronto with me as soon as possible.”

“Why would I tell him that? He has begged Justin, Mel, and me not to send him back to Toronto, and we would never force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Gus’s happiness and wellbeing are our main priorities. Justin and I have plenty of room at Britin and would love to have him live with us,” Brian answered, not understanding why she wouldn’t want Gus to be happy.

Lindsay lifted her chin in defiance. ”Because I’m his mother and it’s my decision, that’s why.”

Brian looked at her blankly. “Yes, his mother... the mother that did not notice her son was missing for four days until I called and asked to speak to him.”

Lindsay ignored his answer and went on with what she wanted to say. “Mel told me that Justin intends to keep that baby he made with Daphne and has told you that he wants you to adopt it. Why would you want to take on someone else’s child and have to raise it? It’s not even related to you, so it shouldn’t be your problem. Why does Justin even think that you should do that? If he wants the kid, let him take it somewhere and raise it by himself.”

“What if someone had said that to you about JR?” Brian countered.

“That’s different; Mel and I are a real couple.”

“You were a real couple, but she’s done with you,” Brian reminded her. “Justin and I are a real couple, as we have been for most of fifteen years now; monogamous for the past eight.”

“It’s not the same thing and you know it. Mel and I married and have a family, unlike the two of you. You and Justin are just playing house until one of you gets bored and leaves. How many times has he left you in the past, huh? If you adopt this kid, then you are stuck with both it and Justin forever. Hell, he will probably run off with someone and leave you to raise his brat on your own. Why the fuck would you want to do that? Justin will expect you to act like a father to it, to financially provide for it. You can’t let him do this to you Brian, to us!”

The longer Lindsay talked, the louder and nastier she became. At first Brian had just stared at her, not believing the vitriolic diatribe that was coming out of her mouth.

Finally, he put up his hand to stop her. “What is wrong with you, Lindsay? Justin has been a part of my life since the day Gus was born, certainly not a ‘trick’ as you referred to him last night. He is my partner and that child, whose name is Keegan in case you’ve forgotten, is his son. Hopefully soon, he will also be mine. If Justin is awarded custody of Keegan, why would I refuse to adopt him?”

Lindsay’s answer was quick and loud. “Why… why? Why would you want to take responsibility for someone else’s kid? It’s not yours, Brian. Adopting it will just tie you to both of them and make it harder to get them out of your life. Justin is just doing this to get more of your money, for himself and his kid. I know that you probably put in your will that Justin would get half of your money, all of your shares of Kinnetik, and your loft and house if you die first; how much more fucking money does he need? That should be mine and Gus’s inheritance, not his and his kid’s. Oh, and I do not want my son calling your boy toy ‘Papa’ or any other little endearing nickname, am I being clear enough for you?”

Brian was about to lose it. “Lindsay Peterson, how dare you? What I do with my money is my choice, not yours, and why you would expect to inherit any of my money or property is totally beyond me. Gus is my son too, and he can call Justin ‘Papa J,’ ‘Daddy,’ or anything else that he wants to call him. He doesn’t need your permission to do it. Justin has always loved and treated Gus as his own son, and you never seemed to have had a problem with that before. Why shouldn’t Gus consider Justin to be his father, too? And another thing, don't you ever refer to Justin’s son as ‘it’ again. How would you feel if Justin or anyone else referred to Gus as ‘it’?”

“That’s different, Brian. Gus is our son, and Justin only treated him well so that you would keep him around, spend your money on him and take care of him. You’ve always been nothing but his sugar daddy, and you only keep him because of his pretty face and tight ass. I doubt that he really cares about Gus like a real father would. I wish that you and Michael would have gotten together so Justin would still be in New York. That was one of the reasons that I wanted Michael to be the father of Mel’s baby after Justin had left you for that violin player and you refused to give Mel your sperm, because I figured it would give you a push towards Michael so that both of our kids’ parents would be together. Hell, maybe if Justin would have stayed in New York, he wouldn’t have made that baby with Daphne in the first place.”

“Lindsay, you have totally lost touch with reality. We all know now that you only wanted Justin to go to New York so he and I wouldn’t be together anymore. There once was a time when you adored Justin and constantly encouraged me to let him into my life. When I finally did and proposed to him, you did a complete one-eighty, because he could finally have me like you never could. And just so you know, I know about the photo album that you hid at your house in Toronto, the one where Justin’s face has been replaced with yours. Get this through your head right now: that will never happen.

“I don’t know where you have come up with these crazy ideas you have, but they are wrong. Justin is not after my money and he never was, unlike most of the other people in my life, including you. He earned his position with Kinnetik due to his education and talent, and he earned a place in my life because of his unconditional love and devotion to me and my son.

“Now, I’m done with this conversation. If Gus wants to live with his fathers, both of them, he is more than welcome. He’s old enough to decide who he wants to live with and I’m quite sure he would like to get to watch his baby brother grow up, as well as be close to Mel and JR.”

“Well Brian, when you realize how much Gus eats, you won’t want to have him live with you anymore,” Lindsay complained.

Brian scoffed. “Do you honestly think I can’t afford to feed a teenage boy? I could easily feed him nothing but lobster and caviar for every meal of his life, if he so pleased.”

“He will eat six full meals everyday if you let him. I can hardly afford to put food on the table for the two of us.”

“Is that why he complained that you don’t cook anymore, and you have hardly anything besides PB&J and Ramen noodles in the house for him to eat? The money I sent you every month should have adequately covered all of the food and clothing that my son needed. ”

“Brian, I needed that money for other things, too! Did you expect me to spend every God damned cent on Gus?”

“Yes! The money I sent you was to be exclusively used for Gus. I know he’s not cheap, because no kid is, and especially ours with his ever-changing wardrobe and hobbies. What else have you spent it on?”

Lindsay looked down at her shoes. “I… I have a bit of a shopping addiction, Brian. Much like yourself, I like wearing designer clothing and keeping current with styles. Selling my slightly-used clothes and shoes on eBay doesn’t pay for all new stuff.”

“That money should have been used for Gus and only Gus, not on your wardrobe! Besides, don’t you work?”

“I was working part-time at a small gallery, but then they needed to cut back on staff after an exhibit didn’t do as well as they’d hoped. All the newer people, including me, were let go and I haven’t had time to look for anything else yet.”

“Haven’t had the time?” Brian asked incredulously. “You’re unemployed! You have nothing but time to look for a job to provide for yourself and your son! What do you do all day?”

Lindsay ignored that last point. “Melanie is refusing to give me any money, since we split the kids and she’s threatening to file for divorce. Even if Gus does live with you, I expect you to continue with the current support payments to me, at least until after he graduates from college.”

Brian burst out laughing. “And why, pray tell, if Gus lives with me, and I’m the one who opened his college fund after he was born and have put over $200,000 in it over the last fifteen years, would I still give you money?”

“Because Brian, what do you expect me to live on? If you refuse, I will take you to court and get support ordered.”

He could not believe the words coming out of that woman’s mouth.

“On what grounds? Lindsay, do you realize that because I signed over my parental rights, I was never obligated to pay you any child support at all? I only did it because I love my son, and you and Mel have always had trouble making enough money to support your family. I know for a fact that Michael never gave Mel a dime for JR, even before he signed his rights over. No court in this world is going to order me to pay you support. Here’s a thought: go get a job to provide for yourself like an adult. And Lindsay, if you do take me to court, good luck on not getting laughed right out of there.”

“You know I have access to his college fund, right?” Lindsay said. “I could take every penny out of there if I wanted to, and I know you would still pay for his tuition, since I’m sure you’d like to see him get a college degree and possibly take over Kinnetik for you.”

Brian took a step back, blown away by Lindsay’s audacity. “You know that I could report you for theft if you actually did that, don’t you? You could go to prison.”

Lindsay sat on the bench and suddenly broke down in tears. “Brian, I need your help. I don’t think Mel will ever come back to me, and she took my sweet little girl from me, too. You and Gus are all I have left in this world. All I want is for the three of us to be a family, a real family.”

“You never had me Lindz, not the way you want. By the way, Mel told me how you’ve been feeding Michael information about all of us over the years, and I can’t begin to understand how you could do such a thing. The fact that you think I should have chosen him over Justin is unfathomable, and the disrespect you’ve shown my partner is something I will not tolerate. You know Lindz, you couldn’t get me on your own, so you had to use our son to get my love and my money. Now he doesn’t even want to live with you anymore, and you’ve got nothing.”

Brian turned to leave, but Lindsay grabbed him by his arm.

“Let’s make a deal: Gus can stay here if you throw out Justin and his kid, and become a real couple with me,” Lindsay offered. “That would fix everything. Justin is the only thing standing in our way now, and you have nothing legally tying you to him or his kid. Mel and I can get divorced, and then you and I can get married and give Gus the real family he deserves.”

Brian’s mouth dropped open, and he blinked a few times as he stared at Lindsay in disbelief. “Wow, Lindsay… just… wow.”

He walked away, ignoring Lindsay’s cries.

“Brian!” she called out. “Brian, please don’t leave me! I love you! We belong together!”

Brian went back to the office and tried to get some work done, but was too stressed and distracted after his confrontation with Lindsay. He decided to go home to Britin, looking forward to a nice dinner and a pleasurable night with his partner. The hour-long trip out to the house, along with blaring Metallica along the way, helped calm him a bit.

He let himself into the house, where he could hear yelling and Keegan crying upstairs. He followed the noise and went into the bedroom at the top of the stairs, which was Gus’s room.

“You can’t make me go!” the angry teen yelled at his equally-angry mother.

“You are going and that’s final!” Melanie yelled back.

“Hey!” Brian yelled, causing both of them to quickly turn their heads. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Gus has decided that he doesn’t want to go to school anymore,” Melanie informed Brian.

“I didn’t say that I didn’t want to go, period,” Gus clarified. “I said that I don’t want to go to that country-ass high school out here. Why can’t I do online homeschooling like JR?”

“Because you need to be around other kids your age, even if it is a rural school with less students than you’re used to going with,” Melanie said. “I’m enrolling JR at a local school here next week, like I plan to do with you.”

“You can say that we live at Pop’s loft or Grandma Deb’s house so I can go to a high school in Pittsburgh,” Gus said in an annoyed tone. “I could go to the same school that Pop went to.”

“Like I said before, that would be fraud, Gus!” Melanie answered impatiently, clearly having gone over this with him before Brian got home. “I’m not going to risk criminal charges or possibly losing my law license just so you can go to a different school.”

“Then Pop can enroll me!” Gus said, pointing to Brian. “He can say he’s a single parent and that we live at the loft, so it won’t fall back on you.”

“Oh, so it can fall back on me instead if they find out you live here and not at the loft?” Brian said. “Besides, I’m not even legally your father, so I couldn’t do that if I wanted to.”

“Then sue Mom for custody and get your parental rights back!” the teen insisted. “Fuck, do something!”

Brian looked between Gus and Melanie, who were each looking back at him as if they expected him to save the day. The sound of Keegan wailing down the hall broke through the silence.

“I… I’m going to go see what’s wrong with the baby,” Brian said before walking out of the room.

He walked into the nursery, where Justin was frantically rocking Keegan.

“Oh, thank God you’re home,” Justin said when he saw Brian come in. “He’s been crying for the past two hours, and I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with him. He’s not wet, he’s not hungry, he’s not running a fever…”

Brian held out his hands. “Here, let me have him.”

Justin happily handed the screaming infant over to his partner.

“What’s wrong, buddy?” Brian asked Keegan.

The baby responded by letting out an ear-splitting shriek.

“I need to go get some air,” Justin said before nearly running out of the room.

Brian sat down in the rocking chair and tried his best to soothe Keegan.

“Give me a break, little dude, please?” he asked the baby as he lightly patted his back. “Today has been a massive shit storm, and all I wanted was to come home and have a peaceful night with my family.”

Keegan clearly didn’t give a fuck what Brian wanted, continuing to cry his little lungs out.

Melanie came in a short time later to see what was wrong, and Brian passed the baby off to her wordlessly. Without telling anyone he was leaving, Brian changed into some casual clothes and headed back to Pittsburgh.

He found himself pulling into his parking space behind Babylon, figuring he should probably check out how things were going, having neglected his other business since Keegan was born. He went in through the back door and walked straight up to his office.

Brian opened a bottle of his old friend Jim Beam and took a seat at his desk. He logged onto his laptop and started doing some research on how he could get his parental rights to Gus reinstated. He knew that he could not use Melanie as his attorney, since she had a conflict of interest. The more he drank, the less he paid attention to the information on his computer screen, and pretty soon he was only drinking as he listened to the thumpa-thumpa coming from the dancefloor downstairs. He hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast earlier that morning, so the alcohol hit him fast and hard.

Brian stumbled downstairs some time later and got another glass of Jim Beam at the bar. He downed it in one gulp, then turned around to look out at his old playground. Desperately needing to let off some steam, he began to wade through the crowd on the dance floor. Before long, men started moving toward the dancing stud and it suddenly felt like old times for him, as if he had instantly shed at least a decade off of his age.

A young dark-haired twink started dancing close to Brian. Without even thinking of the consequences, Brian grabbed the twink by the front of his shirt and headed to the backroom. He found a deserted spot on the wall and leaned against it, pressing on the twink’s shoulder to get him on his knees.


The House That Built Me by charming1

Smiling and blinking, the twink looked up as he started to lower the zipper on Brian’s jeans.


“You’re Brian Kinney, aren’t you?” the twink asked. “Oh yeah, I’ve heard all about you… you’re a fucking living legend. I never thought I would get a chance with you. I’ll be a good little boy for you, Daddy. Use me any way you want.”

Hearing that word, “Daddy”, made Brian snap out of his drunken cloud. He shook his head, realizing what he was about to do.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Eighteen,” the twink answered proudly as he wrapped his hand around Brian’s legendary cock.

“Jesus, I am old enough to be your daddy,” Brian mumbled before he smacked the twink’s hand away. He then pulled his zipper up as he walked out of the backroom, leaving the confused twink staring after him, wondering what the hell just happened.

Ted, who had been taking inventory behind the bar, saw Brian come out of the backroom and head back up to his office. He waited a minute before following after him.

Ted knocked on the office door, calling out, “Brian, it’s Ted.”

He went inside after hearing Brian give him permission to enter, finding the boss sitting on the sofa with a glass of bourbon in his hand.

Ted took a deep breath before acknowledging, “Brian, I may be taking my life in my hands right now, but what the fuck do you think you’re doing?! You’re here drinking, visiting the backroom, and where is Justin? Probably home with the baby, wondering where you are and worrying about this lawsuit. You have a beautiful, loyal partner who absolutely adores you in spite of yourself. Are you just going to say, ‘Fuck it, I can be here getting my dick sucked, because I don’t have any responsibilities or obligations’? You need to get your head out of your ass and go home before you do something that can’t be repaired!”

Brian looked up at Ted and slurred, “I’m still not sure about being a father to a new baby at my age. I’m already a shitty father to Gus, and he’ll be eighteen in less than three years. What kind of father would I be to Keegan? I don’t want to fuck him up like my parents fucked me up.”  

“You are not a shitty father; you’re Gus’s hero. He’s a great kid. He said that he wants to live with you and Justin, right?”

Brian nodded.

“How would you feel if Justin said that Gus should go home with Lindsay, that he didn’t know if he wanted to be a father to a teenager right now? He just turned thirty-three, right? Shit, he still hardly looks older than the day you met him… your cum must be the fountain of youth.”  

Brian glared at Ted. “Justin would never say something like that. He has always loved Gus as much as he would if he were his own child. Gus is half of me, and Justin loves me with...”

He opened his eyes wide as he realized what he had just said.

“Oh God, Ted. I need to get home. I have been so fucking stupid and so unfair to Keegan. He’s my son, just as much as Gus is, and I love him. Shit, I can’t drive like this. Please, can you drive me to Britin? I have to fix this right now before it’s too late.”  

Ted nodded, relieved that he had gotten through to him. “Of course Brian, let’s go.”

He took out his phone and called Blake to let him know that he’d be home in a couple of hours after getting an inebriated Brian home safely.

Once they got to Britin, Brian turned to Ted. “Theodore, you may be my business partner and my best friend, but screaming at me like you did back there could end very badly, so don’t do it again. Just to put your little mind at ease, because I know you want to ask but out of fear for your life and your balls, you won’t, I stopped before anything happened in the backroom. Now, go home to your husband and give Phoenix a kiss from his Uncle Brian. And thank you, for everything.”

“I’m your best friend?” Ted asked in surprise.

Brian blinked slowly. “That’s all you heard me say?”

Ted smiled. “No, I heard everything loud and clear, boss. Go fix things with Justin. He loves you and he’ll understand.”

Brian, having sobered up quite a bit on the ride home, headed into the house. Unlike earlier in the evening, everything was very quiet and he hoped that Justin was still awake. He needed to speak with his partner tonight, knowing that what he had to say could not wait until morning.

He went upstairs and found Gus sound asleep. He next went into Keegan’s room and smiled down at the sleeping infant who looked so much like the man that owned his heart. Brian figured that the baby finally exhausted himself from all of his crying, and he hoped that he was out for the night.

Finally, he got to the door of the master bedroom and took a deep breath before opening it. He walked in and found Justin sitting in one of their lounge chairs reading a book.

Justin looked up at hearing the door open, appearing every bit as young and beautiful as he had the night Brian picked him up outside of Babylon all those years ago. His blond hair had darkened slightly with age, but he was still breathtaking.

Brian walked over and put his hand out to Justin, who took it and stood up. He looked into Brian’s eyes and waited for him to speak.

“I’m so sorry, Sunshine,” Brian began. “I went to Babylon, and-”

“But nothing really happened, Brian,” Justin finished for him. “Yeah, you drank too much… I can smell it on you. Otherwise, nothing happened.”


“How what?” Justin asked. “How do I know? Because I know in my heart, I can feel it. You would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship, like throw it all away for a meaningless fuck or blow job. Now, take me to bed and show me that I’m all that you want, all that you need. Show me that I’m the man you love.”

Brian chuckled as the walked over to their bed. “Both of the boys are asleep. I’m hoping that our youngest son keeps up his habit of waiting until his daddies are finished before he wakes up.”

This was the first time that Brian had referred to Keegan as “our son” when they were alone, and Brian knew by the tears that were building in Justin’s eyes and the Sunshine Smile on his face that the message had been received, loud and clear.

“Brian…” the blond whispered.

Brian lifted the younger man and placed him softly on their bed. He straddled Justin and held his head in his hands, and then started softly raining kisses all over his lover’s face. Brian then moved on to his partner’s neck, licking and sucking, leaving love bites behind Justin’s ears because he knew that it made him crazy. Finally, he pulled back and started opening Justin’s button-up shirt, kissing and licking the exposed skin.

Justin started to reach for him, but Brian shook his head. “You just lay there mon amour, and let me worship you. I want to show how much I love you, how much you mean to me.”

Justin put his head back on the pillow, blinking back tears of happiness.

Brian continued to strip his lover, using his lips and tongue to show Justin how he felt. Once the blond was naked, Brian stood up and looked at the alabaster skin of the only man that he wanted in his bed, in his life. He stripped off his own clothes, revealing to Justin how turned on he was just from kissing him. Brian laid down on top of his lover again, rubbing their leaking erections together, leaving a puddle of their combined essence on Justin’s pale belly.

When Brian reached for the lube, Justin grabbed his hand. “No Brian, we’ll make our own lube. Nothing but us tonight.”

Brian smiled as he started kissing Justin, tangling their tongues while they rubbed their rock hard cocks together. He couldn’t believe that he had nearly ruined it all just an hour before, had almost destroyed eight years of monogamy and condom-free sex by falling into his old habits.

Justin wrapped his ankles behind Brian’s knees so he could get some leverage. As the friction built up, so did the moans of the lovers. Finally they couldn’t hold back any longer and both exploded, coating their torsos in hot sticky cum.

They continued to rock slowly together to renew their erections. Brian needed to be inside of the younger man as much as Justin desired Brian to claim him.

Once they had both regained their hard-ons, Brian scooped up some of their combined fluids and coated Justin’s hole with it. When Brian started to open up his lover, Justin stopped him.

“Just make love to me, I’m relaxed. Go slowly and open me with your cock.”

Justin looked at Brian with so much trust in his eyes that Brian just bit his lips and nodded, blinking back tears and tried not to think of what he had almost done tonight.

Brian wrapped Justin’s legs around his waist, coated his steel-hard cock with their cum, and slowly entered the only man that he desired. Justin moaned loudly as the huge cock breached his ass, stretching him open slowly.

Once Brian was fully inside the bubble butt, he stopped so that the blond could adjust. They looked into each other’s eyes, and both saw and felt the love that bound them together.

Justin pressed his heels into Brian’s back and lifted his hips, silently telling the older man to move. They started slowly, Brian pulling most of the way out and then gradually sliding back in, letting Justin feel every ridge and vein in the huge cock that was all his.

The feelings soon became too intense and they needed to speed up. Brian raised up on his knees and grabbed Justin’s cock, milking it in time with his thrusts.

The older man could tell by his lover’s breathing and throaty moans that he was very close. Brian pulled harder on the stiff pink cock and aimed it toward his mouth. Justin watched as Brian caught his cum in his mouth while pumping his own huge load deep inside his ass.

Brian then pushed his tongue into his Sunshine’s mouth, sharing his cum with him. Finally sated, Brian rested his head over Justin’s heart, and the lovers relaxed as their heart rates went back down to normal.

They heard the beginnings of whimpers from the baby monitor a few minutes later.

“Sunshine, our youngest son still has the best timing,” Brian said with a smile. “I’ll go change him. Will you get his bottle so I can feed him?”

Justin smiled and nodded while reaching for his robe, afraid that if he tried to talk he would start crying, he was so happy.


Justin and Brian dropped Keegan off at Debbie’s house the next morning. They asked that she pay close attention to him, because the normally content baby was still cranky. Justin told her to call if Keegan got to be too much, and he would come right away to take him home. He had wanted to stay with the baby that day but needed to go into the office to finalize a project with his team.

Debbie shooed them off, telling them not to worry.

After the dads had left for the office, Debbie fed Keegan and put him down to nap in a small crib in the living room. She cleaned up the kitchen and put in some laundry.

When Debbie looked into the crib, she noticed that Keegan looked very flushed. She touched his forehead and realized that he had developed a fever. The baby suddenly started shaking and got very stiff.

Debbie called an ambulance, which arrived within minutes. She had called Justin’s cell while she was waiting to let him know what was going on.

Justin and Brian arrived at the emergency room at the university hospital just as the ambulance had pulled up. Justin insisted that Brian be allowed into the treatment room with him, and because he was so emotional, they let them both into the room as long as they stayed out of the way. Carl, who had been out playing cards at the local FOP lodge, took Debbie home with a promise from the boys that they’d call as soon as they knew anything.

Justin had been nearly paralyzed with fear, telling Brian that he was even more worried than when Daphne had gotten into her wreck. He blamed himself for leaving Keegan to go to work, but his partner and the attending doctor told him that this still would have happened if he had kept the baby home at Britin. In fact, it may have been worse, since they were much farther away from the children’s hospital out there and it would have taken longer to get him treatment.

Keegan was moved into a private room a couple of hours later. Brian sat down next to Keegan’s bassinet and pulled Justin onto his lap.

“Sunshine,” Brian began, “this may not be the most romantic way to do this, but I want to marry you. We need to be a real family for our sons. A piece of paper may not mean a whole lot to us, but it will show the rest of this fucked up world that we are a real family - you, me, and our sons. How about we get married and change all of your last names to Kinney?”

Justin narrowed his eyes. “Wait… you’re only saying this because you’re worried about Keegan. The first time you proposed to me, it was because of almost losing me during the Babylon bombing.”

“It’s not just because of Keegan,” Brian insisted. “Yeah, I am worried about him, but I’ve thought about it and I really do want to marry you. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and I want it to be legally binding. I want us to raise Keegan together. Do I have to buy you another fucking mansion for you to agree to marry me? I mean, I will if you want me to...”

Justin chuckled. “No, I guess not. One is enough. We don’t even use the whole thing as it is.”

Before Justin could give his answer, a doctor that had previously treated Keegan as a newborn came in to tell them what was wrong with him.

“We have run all the necessary tests on Keegan, and he only has a slight ear infection,” the doctor said, happy to be able to deliver them good news. “The seizure that he had is called a febrile seizure, which is caused by spiking a fever. It happens sometimes in babies and young children. The EEG we performed showed no abnormal brain activity. Just keep an eye on him in the future when he’s sick, but it’s very possible that this will never happen again. We want to keep him overnight to give him IV antibiotics. If nothing else happens and his fever doesn’t get worse, we’ll release him first thing in the morning.”

Once the doctor was gone, Brian wrapped his arms around his crying partner, holding him tightly. They were both relieved that their son was going to be okay. Brian sent Gus a text message on his new cell phone to update him of Keegan’s condition, knowing how worried he was about his little brother, along with calling Debbie as promised.

“So, what do you say?” Brian asked Justin after getting off the phone. “Will you be my lawfully wedded husband?”

“Yes, of course I will!” Justin answered happily before grabbing Brian and planting a kiss on him. “Wait, what did you mean by change all of our last names?”

“I mean you and our sons, both of them. You’re not too attached to ‘Taylor,’ are you? Plus, I want to get my parental rights to Gus reinstated, and he’s always said that he wished his last name was Kinney. Peterson-Marcus is a mouthful. How about it Sunshine, can we share kids and a last name?”

By the time Brian had finished explaining, Justin was crying so hard that he couldn’t even talk. All he could do was bury his head in Brian’s chest and nod.

Brian added, “Oh yeah, do you think Mel could get the adoption paperwork ready to file after you’re granted permanent custody of Keegan?”


Justin nodded again as he continued to cry tears of happiness. He couldn’t ever remember being this happy in his life, and he could hardly wait to become Justin Kinney.  

What A Wonderful World by charming1

Brian and Justin decided that they would be getting married on September 15, which was Gus’s sixteenth birthday as well as the sixteenth anniversary of the day they first met. The birthday boy himself insisted the couple have their wedding on that day, saying it was the best gift that they could ever give him… but if they also wanted to buy him a car, like a new Dodge Charger or Challenger, he wouldn’t be opposed. Emmett was hired to plan the grand ceremony and reception at Britin.




In the weeks leading up to the trial with Curtis, Melanie spent many hours preparing her case. She had tried to hold off as long as she could to file subpoenas for her witnesses to appear, waiting for Curtis’s attorney to file his and see who his witnesses would be. About six weeks before the trial date, Melanie received her copies of the opposing counsel’s subpoenas.

Melanie had to hold back her extreme outrage when she saw that Turner had subpoenaed both Lindsay and Michael to testify as witnesses for Curtis. She was hoping that the opposition wouldn’t stoop that low, since Turner knew that she had personal connections to those particular witnesses, but she knew that they were the only two people who could and would air Justin and Brian’s dirty laundry on the stand.

Melanie had no choice but to call in some help. She was Facebook friends with the founding partner of her old law firm, Albert “Al” Kurtzman, whom she was aware had retired a few years back but still took on pro bono cases. Two of his specialties had been family and contract law, so he would be perfect for their case. She hadn’t actually spoken with the old lawyer since she quit the firm prior to moving to Toronto, but she took a chance and sent him a brief private message.

Al replied to Melanie’s message almost immediately and they were soon on the phone with each other. Melanie explained what was going on, telling Al that she needed another attorney to partner with her on Justin’s case, primarily to cross-examine Lindsay and Michael. Luckily Al’s schedule was fairly clear leading up to the trial and he would be available for the trial itself, which the court had given three days to be held on.

Melanie, Justin, and Brian had a meeting with Al at his very fancy home in Pittsburgh a few days later. Al was well into his seventies but was still as sharp as a tack, and Justin liked him immediately. Brian wasn’t as quick to accept the old Jewish lawyer, but the scales were tipped in the right direction after Al confessed to never having a positive opinion of Lindsay.

“Now, I only met her maybe twice before at office parties, but I wasn’t very impressed,” Al confessed.

“Why, what was wrong with her?” Brian asked.

Al shrugged. “I thought Melanie could do much better. All looks, no brain, and very self-centered. Total bimbo.”

Melanie, Justin, and Brian laughed, and Brian decided right then that Al was the perfect addition to their legal team.

Melanie and Al decided that they would file subpoenas for the two EMTs in the ambulance who heard Daphne tell Justin that she wanted him and Brian to raise Keegan, as well as ones for Debbie, Ben, Emmett, and Gus. They would call Debbie, Ben, and Emmett to impeach Michael as a credible witness, though they may end up needing only one or two of them depending on what Michael had to say on the stand. Gus would be called to impeach Lindsay, along with having him testify to his experience of being raised by same-sex parents and as a character witness for Justin and Brian. Debbie would also make an excellent character witness. Of course, Justin and Brian would testify on their own behalfs.  A payroll person from the hospital would be called to introduce Curtis’s timesheets into evidence, which would really help to hammer home Curtis’s inability to properly raise Keegan due to his busy work schedule.

Melanie’s knew one thing that would undoubtedly hurt anything that her estranged wife would have to say against Justin and Brian: the fact that Brian had used his cellphone to secretly record the entire conversation/argument he had with Lindsay in the park. Brian had hidden his phone in his shirt pocket beneath his trench coat and it had picked up every ugly thing that Lindsay had said clear as a bell, since she had been standing very close to Brian and was shouting throughout most of their conversation. Melanie wished that she could have used the recording as her ace in the hole at the trial, she but was required by rules of discovery to provide a copy of the recording to opposing counsel. It would show Lindsay’s questionable mental state and her bias against Justin to the court.

After hearing what Lindsay had said in Brian’s recording, specifically the part where Lindsay told Brian that he should throw Justin out and marry her, Melanie wanted to file for divorce immediately. Unfortunately, in order to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, she would have to wait until she had lived in the state for a minimum of six months. She could file in Ontario, Canada anytime she wanted, but divorces were much harder to come by in Canada than they were south of the border. Ontario required that she be separated from Lindsay for no less than one year in order to file, since there had been no adultery that she knew about and no physical or mental abuse. Melanie’s obvious course of action was to wait a few more months and file the divorce papers in Pennsylvania.

Melanie learned through Debbie that Lindsay had not returned to Toronto and was instead living on Michael’s couch in a tiny apartment near his comic book store. Debbie, as a favor to Melanie, had gotten Lindsay on the phone and learned that she was hoping that Brian would come to his senses and do what she had requested, and she didn’t want to be too far away.

Melanie and Brian talked about Lindsay later that evening in his office at Britin after Debbie had dropped that bomb.

“She actually thinks that I’d leave Justin for her?” Brian asked. “I love Gus and would do just about anything for him, but is she out of her fucking mind?”

Melanie nodded. “I honestly think she is. She’s moved past desperate and straight into delusional. She doesn’t even seem to care about me and JR anymore; her only focus is on you and Gus. I guess she has forgotten that I am legally just as much Gus’s mother as she is, and I would throw a huge ax in her little dream family if you were crazy enough to actually do what she says.”


Once she was able to file for divorce, Melanie planned to request full legal and physical custody of both of the kids. This would allow her to ask the court to reinstate Brian’s parental rights to Gus if the court ruled in her favor, since Pennsylvania did not have third-parent adoption. Even if the court ruled against Melanie and awarded Lindsay joint custody, Brian still intended on exploring his options to become Gus’s father in the eyes of the law again.

When Melanie and Brian later told Gus about their plans, the teen came up with an idea.

“What if you adopted JR?” Gus asked his father.

Melanie chuckled. “Yeah right, like he’d ever do that.”

Brian was offended, since he had already been thinking about asking Melanie if he could adopt  JR and had previously mentioned it to Justin, who thought it was a great idea. “What? Why wouldn’t I want to adopt her?”

“Why would you want to adopt my daughter? You only just started tolerating me, so why would you even care if she had two parents?”

“For your information, I have always cared about JR and no matter how much she shit-talks me, we all know how much she loves me and wishes that I was her Pop, too,” Brian informed Melanie. “She’s my son’s adopted sister and it’s not her fault that her real father is a piece of shit. She needs two parents who love her. Besides, I’m her godfather, aren’t I?”

“Yes,” Melanie said. “But-”

“And I’ll have you know that I started a college fund for her shortly after she was born,” Brian added.

Melanie was stunned. “You… you did what?”

“It doesn’t look like you and she will be moving out of here anytime soon. According to my fiance, he of the hair and heart of gold, the two of you can stay here at Britin forever. He loves JR as his own and would be devastated if you girls ever left. If you’re successful in your suit against Lindsay and I’m able to have my parental rights to Gus reinstated, you and I will already legally share one kid… why not two?”

Gus threw his arms around his dad’s shoulders. “That would be so tight.”

“Yes… totally tight,” Brian agreed.

“And after you and Papa J get married, he’ll be our step-dad,” he added. “When you adopt Keegan, he’ll legally be our brother, too.”

Brian nodded before asking Melanie, “What do you say, Ima? Do you want to share these kids with me?”

Melanie, who was crying by that point, nodded her head and joined the boys in their group hug.

“Can my last name be Kinney?” Gus asked.

The two adults agreed that Gus could take Brian’s last name if he wanted to.

“Yes, and JR can be a Kinney, too!” Gus said happily.

“Oh, I won’t go that far,” Melanie said. “Marcus is a good, strong name.”


A social worker came out to Britin a month before the custody trial to check out the house and observe Keegan’s living environment. The social worker, a nice older lady named Charlotte, had been very impressed with the sprawling and tastefully-decorated mansion, which Brian informed her had originally been an engagement present to Justin over a decade before. They explained how they had not gone through with their original wedding but were planning a ceremony at the house later in the year on the anniversary of the day they met. Charlotte had found their love story to be very heartwarming.

They had shown Charlotte the nursery, and Brian proudly pointed out the mural of Daphne on the ceiling and bragged about Justin’s artistic accomplishments, including his recent art show where every piece had sold. Charlotte was impressed with the mural, remarking that it was beautiful and looked exactly like the photograph of Daphne sitting on Keegan’s dresser.

Gus and JR were both present during the visit, dressed to impress and on their best behavior. Gus had even shaved his scraggly facial hair and borrowed one of Brian’s ties, making him look even more like his father. The older siblings both told Charlotte about how much they loved Keegan and hoped that they would soon be a family, legally and permanently.

The home visit couldn’t have gone better, and Keegan had been happy and smiling the entire time as Justin carried him around the house.


Melanie and Al were confident that they could handle anything Turner threw at them, as far as trying to defame Justin and Brian and their parenting abilities. They only wished that they had more dirt to pin on Curtis. Daphne’s sister Delia was the only other person besides Justin and Brian to whom Curtis had confessed his affair during Daphne’s pregnancy, and they would call her as a witness to that confession if necessary. Brian planned to tell the court about his short meeting with Curtis just days before Daphne’s death where Curtis had told Brian that he was having cold feet about becoming a father. Curtis would be testifying on his own behalf, and Melanie couldn’t wait to get him on the stand and ask him why he wanted to raise Keegan.

Two weeks before the trial, Melanie received a private message on Facebook from a lady named Amanda Crawford. The message asked: You are Justin Taylor’s lawyer, correct?

Melanie looked at Amanda’s page and saw that she was a very pretty blonde who appeared to be in her mid-twenties. Melanie read that her occupation was listed as “student” and that she was attending the University of Pittsburgh. She had 523 friends.

Melanie replied to the popular student: Who wants to know?

Amanda answered that she was Curtis Anderson’s girlfriend and needed to talk to her about the custody case.

Melanie had Amanda on the phone a minute later and asked her to tell her story. Amanda explained to Melanie that she had been seeing Curtis since November of the previous year, having not known until a few weeks after their first date that Curtis was married and expecting a baby. She was a third-year medical student and an aspiring orthopedic surgeon, having been placed under Curtis’s instruction in September.

“I never planned on having a relationship with him, I swear,” Amanda insisted. “I had just broken up with my last boyfriend, so I was kind of lonely. He never wore his wedding ring at work or had any pictures of his wife in his office. Plus, Curtis is such an amazing doctor and is so… charming and handsome. He looks kind of like Ryan Gosling, who I’ve loved since The Notebook.”

Melanie rolled her eyes. “But you did start to have sex with him, right?”

“Yes,” Amanda answered shamefully. “He asked me out to coffee and I said no… at first. Eventually I said yes and things moved pretty quickly.”

Melanie continued to look through Amanda’s Facebook page on her laptop as she talked to her. Amanda was not friends with Curtis and had no pictures of him. Melanie assumed that Curtis had told her to keep their relationship private on social media so it would not hurt him professionally.

“And you continued to have sex with him after you found out that he was married with a baby on the way, right?”

“Yes… I had fallen in love with him by that point,” Amanda confessed. “I mean, I was pissed when I found out the truth, but Curtis said that he was going to leave Daphne after she gave birth.”

Melanie grabbed a nearby legal pad and wrote that down. “Did he say he was going to file for divorce after the baby was born?”

“Yeah, he promised me he would and that we could be together for real then. He even gave me a diamond ring for Christmas, sort of like a promise ring. I accepted it, but it kind of freaked me out since we had only been seeing each other for a couple of months at that point.”

Melanie left a note for herself to get Amanda’s address, so she could send her a subpoena. “Did he have any plans for his son with Daphne? Like, was he still wanting to be involved in the baby’s life?”

“He told me right from the beginning that the baby wasn’t actually his, that he was sterile and they had used a sperm donor. I let him have sex with me without a condom, since I knew I couldn’t get pregnant. He even showed me the results of his fertility test that showed his sperm had very low motility and concentration. It was still a stupid thing to do, since he could have given me an STD without a condom... God, I’m so fucking stupid.”

“But did Curtis say that he didn’t want anything to do with the baby after it was born?” Melanie said, trying to be patient as she plied the information she needed out of Amanda.

“He said that it was Daphne’s kid and that she could do whatever the fuck she wanted with it after they split,” Amanda finally said.

Melanie pumped her fist in the air, knowing that Justin’s case was as good as won.

“But why has Curtis changed his mind?” Melanie asked, trying not to sound too excited. “Daphne’s dead now, so why does he want to raise her son?”

“He said that he has his reasons and that he will tell the judge what they are. He made it sound like whatever he has to say at the trial would make the judge give him the baby.”

Melanie waited a few seconds to see if Amanda had anything else to offer. “That’s the only thing he said?”

She sighed. “Yeah, he doesn’t like to talk about it too much.”

“Tell me Amanda, what was Curtis like after Daphne’s death?” Melanie asked, digging for more.

“He didn’t talk to me for like a week after she died. He sent me a text letting me know about the accident before she had actually died. I called him to get more information, but he didn’t answer. I found out the next day at the hospital that she died during surgery and that the baby survived, and Curtis didn’t answer my calls or messages for a few more days. Then suddenly, he showed up back to work. He did seem kind of sad, but he refused to talk about her. After another week or so, he seemed like his usual self.”

“Did you know that he didn’t go to Daphne’s funeral? I was there, because Daphne was a friend of mine. His family, plus a ton of people from the hospital and people Daphne probably hadn’t seen in years were there, but Curtis wasn’t.”

“No, I didn’t know that. Wow… that’s really shitty of him. He must not have loved her very much, if at all.”

Melanie asked the question that was really bothering her. “Amanda, why are you telling me all of this? Has something happened between you and Curtis, something that has made you angry or vengeful?”

“He wants me to marry him and expects me to give up my career to raise the baby if he’s granted custody,” Amanda answered. “He says it’ll help his case, since you’re planning to say that he works too much to raise a baby as a single parent. I refuse to do that; not for him or anyone. I have worked hard to become a doctor and I’m not just giving it up. I don’t even know if I want kids and if I ever do, it won’t be for many years down the road. I especially don’t want to raise someone else’s baby; he’s not Curtis’s or mine. I don’t think I’d want to marry Curtis either, since he’s sterile and cheated on his last wife. If I do ever want kids, I’d want my husband to the father, you know?”

“That’s all very understandable,” Melanie agreed. “Are you still with Curtis?”

“Sort of… things have been really tense over the past couple of weeks. A social worker went by his house and he made me come over while she was there. It was so awkward. He introduced me as his ‘potential nanny.’ I had never even been to his house before, because he always came to my apartment. You can tell that a woman definitely used to live there, but he had taken down all of her pictures and gotten rid of her personal things. The nursery was all set up, which just felt so weird to see. His wife had made that nursery for her son and now she’s dead… it was creepy. There was a really pretty mural on the wall of jungle animals and the social worker asked who painted it. Curtis said that Justin did it and the lady just kind of nodded her head, like she already knew. There were a few other paintings and drawings on the walls around the house and Curtis said that Justin did those, too.

“After the social worker left, he asked me to move into the house with him, and I said that we should wait to see what happens with his lawsuit. Honestly, I could never see myself living there. The house is really nice, but I felt like I was intruding, like his wife was going to come home at any minute and demand to know what I was doing in her house. We had a fight last night and I told him I needed some time to think. I’m pretty sure he sees other girls than me, and that was the main thing we were fighting over.”

“Do you know if he was seeing other girls when you and he first started dating?” Melanie asked.

“I know he was,” Amanda answered strongly. “He has quite a reputation around the hospital… he’s been sleeping with other interns and nurses for years. It was actually one of the nurses who used to date him who told me about Daphne. He claims that he’d be faithful to me if we got married, but why would he be faithful to me when he wasn’t even faithful to his previous wife? He was even planning on having a family with her, but he still passed his dick around.”

Before getting off the phone, Amanda agreed to testify against Curtis at the trial. Melanie could hardly contain her happiness and immediately ran over to the main house to tell Justin and Brian about their new witness.

The three of them had a champagne celebration.




Fire and Rain by charming1

The first day of the trial finally came. Justin was a nervous wreck, but Brian, Melanie, and Al all assured him that they had a solid case against Curtis. It was technically Curtis’s attorney’s job to prove his case, since it was his lawsuit. Justin’s legal team didn’t even have to put on any kind of defense or call any witnesses, but they had an army of people ready and willing to testify for their side regardless.


As was the normal procedure in a trial, everyone that had been subpoenaed as a witness was barred from the courtroom until they were called to testify, so as not to have their testimony influenced by another witness’s testimony. Justin wished that Brian could have been there sitting behind him throughout the proceedings, but he had been subpoenaed by both sides.

He was happy to have Melanie there at the table beside him. They had gotten very close over the past few months while preparing their case and spending time with the kids. Justin knew that she had grown to love Keegan very much and that she was more than willing to fight like hell to make sure that Justin would be able to keep him.

Melanie and Al had both instructed Justin to stay calm and quiet during the proceedings, even if what a witness was saying was untrue or inflammatory. He promised to try his best.

Curtis’s attorney, Charles Turner, gave a short opening statement highlighting the case he would be presenting. He again brought up how Justin made an oral contract with Daphne and Curtis to voluntarily give up his parental rights to the baby so Curtis could adopt him, but Justin reneged on the contract after the baby was born and Daphne died. He told the judge that he would prove Justin and Brian to be “people of questionable character and unfit to raise a child” by calling two people who knew them very well, Michael Novotny and Lindsay Peterson. He concluded his opening statement by saying that at the end of his case, he had no doubt that the judge would make the right decision and award full legal and physical custody of the baby to Curtis.

Melanie and Al chose to wait until after Turner had rested his case before giving an opening statement.

Turner called Curtis to the stand first and asked him why he, Daphne, and Justin had never signed a formal Donor Agreement.

“Daphne and I had discussed this before ever asking Justin to be our sperm donor, and we decided that whoever we chose would sign an agreement,” Curtis said. “After Justin agreed to be our donor, he told Daphne that he talked to an attorney who told him not to sign anything until after the baby was born. Justin talked Daphne out of him having to sign anything.”

“Did you try to convince Daphne otherwise?” Turner asked.

“Oh yeah,” Curtis answered. “I fought her on it, but she said that Justin would never break a promise to her and that he promised he wouldn’t change his mind on signing over his rights. She assured me that Justin wouldn’t want a kid, because Brian didn’t want any kids. He didn’t even want his own son.”

“Now, when you say you fought her…”

“We had an actual fight. It wasn’t physically violent or anything, but it got loud and she cried. I said we should go with an anonymous donor so we wouldn’t have to deal with any legal hassles, but Daphne had made up her mind: it was Justin or no one. She said she’d leave me and have a baby with him anyway if I didn’t agree, and that she’d tell everyone she left because I was sterile. That wasn’t something I wanted to be made public knowledge, so I gave in. We were going to pretend like the baby was mine, so that made me feel better about the whole thing.”

Justin knew that Curtis was lying, because Daphne would have never threatened him like that. She had also told Justin that while Curtis expressed some concern over not having a written contract, he hadn’t given her any grief. Daphne certainly did not threaten to leave him.

“Were you under the belief that Mr. Taylor would still sign his parental rights over to allow you to adopt the child even if something catastrophic happened and your wife passed away, as she ultimately did?”

“Justin never said that he wouldn’t sign his rights over if something happened to Daphne,” Curtis said, looking at Justin accusingly.

Turner had no further questions for his client, so Melanie was allowed to cross-examine him.

“Dr. Anderson,” Melanie began, “when you, your wife Daphne, and Mr. Taylor made your oral agreement for Mr. Taylor to give his sperm to Daphne in order to conceive a child, did you ever explicitly discuss what would happen if Daphne were to die before Mr. Taylor signed over his rights?”

Curtis bit his lip. “No… not explicitly.”

Melanie restated her question slowly and deliberately. “So my client never explicitly stated that he would still consent to you adopting the child he conceived with your wife if she died, correct?”

Curtis shook his head.

“Please answer out loud for the record, Dr. Anderson,” the judge asked.

“No, Justin never said that I could still adopt the baby if Daphne died, but-”

“The agreement that Mr. Taylor made was with the assumption that you and Daphne would raise the child together, right?”

“I guess so, yeah,” Curtis said dejectedly, not able to look Melanie in the eye.

“And once your wife did unfortunately pass away just minutes after the baby legally known as Keegan Mercury Taylor was born, from injuries she sustained in a car accident, the terms of the agreement changed, correct?”

“Objection,” Turner said. “My client is not qualified to answer that question, due to the fact that he is not educated in contract law.”

“Overruled,” the judge said, meaning that he would allow the question.

Curtis asked Melanie to repeat the question and he hesitated before saying, “Correct.”

“I have no further questions for Dr. Anderson at this time,” Melanie said before taking her seat.

Turner also had no more questions for Curtis, so he was excused from the stand. The judge then recessed for lunch.

Melanie, Justin, and Al met Brian at a restaurant a few blocks away from the courthouse, and they let Brian know how Curtis’s testimony went.

“Oh, Mel made him look like such a chump,” Justin said. “Too bad you couldn’t be there to see it.”

Melanie chuckled. “Just wait until I get him back on the stand for direct questioning and ask about his affairs. He’s going to look like the world’s biggest asshole, especially since he knows that his little girlfriend is going to tell the judge all about it.”

“No, I think he may be tied for world’s biggest asshole with the next guy that’ll be testifying,” Justin said before taking a big bite of his cheeseburger.

After getting back from the lunch break, Turner called Michael to the stand.

Michael gave a fairly detailed history of his friendship with Brian. He told the judge how Brian had lost his virginity to their gym teacher at age fourteen and later became extremely promiscuous. Al probably could have objected several times due to irrelevance, but he let Michael talk and waited to see if Melanie would signal for him to object to anything.

When Michael began to talk about Jack and Joan Kinney, Al finally did object due to it being irrelevant to the case, and due to a promise to Brian that his childhood would not be discussed when he wasn’t even in the room. The judge agreed with the objection, prompting Turner to skip ahead in his narrative and ask Michael about Brian’s drug usage.

Michael said that Brian had previously tried nearly every drug under the sun, including copious amounts of cocaine and ecstasy. He also said that Brian was an alcoholic and often drove drunk and/or high. Michael then informed the judge about what a seedy place Brian’s nightclub was. When Turner asked Michael how Brian felt about having kids, Michael said that Brian hated children.

This was preceded by Michael’s tale of Brian’s rocky relationship with Justin, specifically how they had broken up on two different occasions due to Brian’s reluctance to commit to Justin. He also spoke about knowledge of Justin’s past promiscuity, drug usage, and general immaturity. He mentioned their past collaboration on the Rage comic and how selfish Justin had been throughout working on it together, complaining about how Justin had often monopolized the issues with his own ideas.

Turner ended his direct examination of Michael by asking whether he thought Brian and Justin would be good parents to a child, and Michael said that he believed that they would only provide a toxic environment for Keegan.

During his cross-examination, Al went after Michael and dissected his testimony.

“Mr. Novotny, isn’t it true that your first sexual experience was with Brian Kinney?” Al asked.

Turner objected due to irrelevance, but the judge overruled it.

“Um… yes,” Michael said uneasily. “We didn’t technically have sex, but it was sexual contact.”

“And you welcomed it, didn’t you?”

Michael admitted that he did and when Al asked why, Michael said that it was because he had a crush on Brian.

“And this crush… how long did it last?”

“A long time,” Michael answered, his head lowered shamefully.

“About how low long would you say?”

“Objection,” Turner said.

“On what grounds?” the judge asked.

Turner thought about it for a moment. “Badgering… uh, inflammatory?”

The judge raised an eyebrow, since Turner clearly didn’t know why he was objecting. “Overruled and overruled. Please answer the question.”

Michael suddenly became very interested in his fingernails. “I’ll probably always have feelings for Brian. He was my first love.”

Al couldn’t hold back from grinning. “Did Mr. Kinney ever return your feelings?”

“No,” Michael said sadly.

“In fact, aside from one time where you came to Mr. Kinney and Mr. Taylor’s residence uninvited a few months ago and were told by Mr. Kinney to leave and never return, you have not spoken to him in nearly eight years, correct?”


When asked why that was, Michael admitted that he tried to break Brian and Justin up, causing Brian to end his friendship with him.

The judge had to ask Michael three times to speak louder, due to him mumbling and talking very quietly.

“Why did you try to break them up?” Al inquired.

“Because Justin stole Brian away from me,” Michael said, his voice now filled with anger. “Brian and I should have been together, but then he came along and ruined everything. Justin should have been just a one-night stand, but he wouldn’t go away.”

“Mr. Novotny, you don’t have any first-hand knowledge of how Mr. Kinney and Mr. Taylor have lived their lives over the past eight years, do you?”

“Um… what do you mean?” Michael asked.

“Do know if Mr. Kinney and Mr. Taylor currently partake in sexual relations outside of their own relationship?”

Michael sighed, knowing that his efforts to make Brian and Justin look bad were probably fruitless. “No, I don’t.”

Al also got Michael to admit that he did not know if Brian and Justin still took drugs, drank to excess, drove under the influence, or even went to Babylon anymore. Al garnered that Michael was also unaware that Brian and Justin were planning to get married later in the year and that Brian had expressed his desire to adopt Keegan. At this revelation, Michael looked like he was about to cry before Al moved on to talking about Rage, which he was glad was brought up during direct.

“Mr. Novotny, you mentioned collaborating on a comic book with Mr. Taylor, which I believe you released five issues of in the early two-thousands, correct?”

“Yes, we did,” Michael confirmed.

“Is that comic book still currently being published?”

Michael shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “No, we published the final issue back in 2005 before Justin moved to New York.”

After Al pressed him to tell the judge why Michael’s professional relationship with Justin ended, Michael explained that they tried to keep the comic book going by working independently on their contributions to the comic - story by Michael and artwork by Justin - but ran into a roadblock when they could not agree on the story for the sixth issue.

“In the last issue of Rage, Rage and JT got married,” Michael said.

Al spoke up. “Were Rage and JT based on any particular living people?”

Michael let out another sigh. “Rage was based on Brian and JT was based on Justin. Anyway, when Justin moved to New York, I thought of an idea to have Rage and JT break up, and Justin was completely against it. He and Brian were struggling to keep their relationship alive at the time, so he would not agree to letting their fictional counterparts break up.”

“What would have been the reason for Rage and JT breaking up?” Al asked, prompting Turner to object due to irrelevance. The judge overruled and told Michael to answer.

“Rage would have left JT for Zephyr,” Michael said.

“And who was Zephyr based on?”

Michael closed his eyes and answered, “Me.”

“You and Mr. Taylor ended your partnership on Rage shortly after this, correct?”

“Yeah, Justin said he didn’t want to do it anymore and gave me the rights to the characters, if I wanted to continue it myself. I’m not an artist, so I had to replace him with someone.”

“Did Mr. Taylor expect you to pay him anything for his share of the comic?”

“No, he said he would just sign the papers so that I could continue the comic on my own. But I needed someone who could draw.”

“Were you actually able to find another artist and continue with the comic book?” Al asked with a smile, already knowing what the answer was and why.

“No, because the people I interviewed for the job all wanted to be paid upfront, and I could only guarantee fifty percent commission on sales. The publisher wasn’t very happy that Justin had left and only agreed to release half the amount of our previous issues. The commission would hardly have been worth the time it took to make the comic.”

“So, with Mr. Taylor’s departure from your business partnership, he ended up costing you money from lost future comic book sales, correct?”

“Yeah… several thousands of dollars,” Michael confessed.

Al looked knowingly at the judge before turning towards the opposing table on his right. “Your witness, Mr. Turner.”

“I have no further questions for Mr. Novotny,” Turner replied in a flat tone, clearly having regretted calling Michael as a witness.

Melanie wondered if Turner had even bothered to see if Michael was an impeachable witness due to his personal biases towards Justin. Her guess what that he had not, which reflected very poorly on Turner as an attorney who was undoubtedly being paid very well by his client.


Before Michael left the courtroom, he glared over at Justin and Melanie but did not say anything.

Family Portrait by charming1

Lindsay was announced as Turner’s next witness. She walked into the courtroom looking like a soccer mom dressed for church, swore to tell the truth, and took a seat. She immediately locked eyes with Justin and curled her upper lip slightly.

Turner asked Lindsay to tell the judge how she knew Justin Taylor. She explained that she met Justin the night her son with Brian was born on September 15, 2000 and claimed that she didn’t like him from the very start.

“He just didn’t seem very trustworthy,” Lindsay said as she stared daggers into Justin. “He was so young, and I knew he had ulterior motives for being with Brian rather than just the sex.”

Justin knew that was total bullshit. Lindsay once adored him and had been the head cheerleader for his and Brian’s relationship for years.

Turner next asked Lindsay about her relationship with Brian, and Lindsay proceeded to tell a tale of romance and heartbreak. She started to cry as she told the judge how she had fallen in love with Brian in college, although she had thought since she was a young teenager that she was a lesbian. They had a few fun nights together, but Brian had only seemed to use her to quash any curiosity he may have had about his own sexuality. She and Brian maintained a friendship after they had both declared themselves gay and she later asked him to be the father of the child she planned on raising with Melanie, whom she referred to as her “current wife” and barely even glanced at.

Lindsay then described how things had soured between herself and Brian once Justin came along and proceeded to insinuate himself more and more into Brian’s life. Although Brian had promised her that he would be there for Gus, Lindsay claimed that Justin monopolized all of Brian’s time and money.

“Justin tore my family apart,” Lindsay said as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “Brian rarely ever came over to visit Gus, and when he did, he would often bring Justin with him. Justin would be hanging all over Brian the entire time, and it made me uncomfortable to see. They would sit on my couch and make out, and Justin would practically sit in Brian’s lap even when he was trying to hold Gus.”

She recalled the rough patch she had with Melanie that eventually resulted in Melanie cheating on her, followed by Lindsay allowing a man seeking his Green Card to move into her home. She then claimed that she had hoped Brian would get so jealous of another man assuming the role of Lindsay’s husband and the father of her child that he would dump Justin and beg her to marry him. Ultimately, her plan did not work out as she hoped, but it did result in Brian signing his rights away and allowing Melanie to adopt Gus.

Turner asked Lindsay about the relationship between Gus and Brian after he had signed his rights away. Lindsay said that Brian became even more of a ghost in his son’s life, which was very confusing to the young Gus, who would often ask where his Dada was.

“Gus adored his father, but Brian was too busy with Justin to spend any time with our son,” Lindsay blubbered. “They broke up a couple of times, but then Brian would be too depressed to spend any quality time with Gus. He would either be out prowling around for sex or too high or drunk, so I certainly couldn’t allow him around Gus then.”

Lindsay then talked about the Babylon bombing in 2005 and how it had made herself and Melanie want to move to Canada, which was much more gay-friendly than America at the time.

“I don’t even know why I asked for Brian’s blessing for us to take Gus, since he didn’t have any legal say in the matter, but I didn’t want to just steal his son away,” Lindsay explained. “Brian told me that he didn’t want us to go, that he didn’t want to lose me or Gus. His friend Michael, who is the father of Melanie’s biological daughter and had already given us his blessing, had to talk him into it.”

Lindsay then concluded her story by saying that Brian has remained a drop-in dad to Gus over the past eleven years, only checking in or visiting when it was convenient for him.

“Gus looks up to Brian so much, although he really shouldn’t. Yeah, Brian is a brilliant businessman and is very financially successful, but he’s otherwise not a good role model. He always breaks promises and changes plans at the last minute. He’s always been very irresponsible and immature with his personal life. Still, Gus wants to be with Brian and have a relationship with him so much that he ran away shortly after Melanie moved here from Toronto to work on this lawsuit. Brian refused to send Gus back to me, and he and Justin have somehow convinced Gus that he’d rather live with them than with me. Yeah, Melanie lives with them too, but from what I understand she’s in a guest house on the property with JR. Gus has a room in the main house.”

Turner asked her why she hadn’t gone through any legal channels to get Gus back in her care, and she said it was because she was unable to provide for herself since Melanie had left her and was no longer providing for her financially.

“Brian, Justin, and Melanie have all the power and money,” she said tearfully. “Melanie has as much legal claim over Gus as I do, so it’s not like she’s kidnapped him. He’s fifteen, so he’s going to do what he wants. I called the police and talked to a lawyer who gave me a free consultation, and they all said that as long as Gus isn’t in any danger, I can’t get him back since he’s old enough to decide which parent he wants to live with.”

Turner moved on to the topic of Keegan and why she thinks Brian wants to raise the baby with Justin.

“Brian would have never decided on his own that he wanted to raise a baby, especially one that’s not even his,” Lindsay insisted. “I don’t know what Justin has told him or done to influence him, but this whole thing stinks to high heaven. Brian has always felt sorry for Justin since he was abandoned by his father when he came out and started dating Brian, and Brian basically stepped in as a father figure to him as well as his lover. Brian must feel like he owes the same kind of charity to Justin’s kid, since his mother is dead. He’s never been able to say no when someone is in need, but he’s not even helping me right now. I’m the one who needs help; Justin is more than capable of taking care of himself and his kid. Brian can give Justin a brand new car every couple of years, but he can’t give me-”

“Objection,” Al said, getting sick of hearing Lindsay’s woeful rambling. “Her continued narrative is irrelevant to the original question.”

The judge sustained the objection and told Turner to keep his witness on topic.

“Can you tell the court about the relationship Mr. Taylor has with your son Gus?” Turner asked Lindsay. “Is it a healthy or positive relationship?”

“Well, if Brian is a bad influence on Gus, then Justin is even worse,” Lindsay claimed, her previously sad tone now shifting to angry. “Justin is only seventeen years older than Gus, and I think Gus has always looked up to Justin as more of an older brother than any type of father figure, though Gus does call Justin ‘Papa,’ which I find disturbing. Justin has always been very immature, always unsure of what he wants in his life. He always claimed that he wanted Brian, but he never hesitated to drop him in a heartbeat for something better. First, it was a violin player who was much more open about his feelings than Brian was. Next, it was a movie out in Hollywood based on a comic book that he drew, which ultimately wasn’t even made. After that, it was because Brian didn’t want to marry him. Then, after Brian had proposed after the bombing and they had a wedding all planned out, it was a career in New York as an artist after only one positive review in a magazine.”

Justin balled his fists under the table and forced himself to take deep, steady breaths. Everyone knew he only went to New York because she had talked him into it and also pushed Brian into encouraging him to go.

“He moved back here impulsively too, dropping everything to come back to Brian after he called and begged him to come home. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else as impulsive as Justin,” Lindsay continued.

“Do you think Mr. Taylor’s impulsive tendencies could be detrimental to his son?” Turner asked.

“Oh, definitely. Justin decided to take Keegan on impulse. Before Daphne died, Justin never even thought about raising him. I fear for the day when… not if, but when Justin decides to leave Brian again. What if he just up and decides that he doesn’t want to be a father anymore? What if he meets someone who doesn’t want kids? Brian is almost twelve years older than Justin, and he might wake up one day and find that Brian is an old man while he’s still relatively young and able to find someone even younger than himself.”

Justin rolled his eyes, thinking that Lindsay must have been tired of waking up in a tiny apartment with Michael every morning. Brian had told him how unattractive and old Michael looked the day he showed up at Britin, and Justin had seen with his own eyes earlier during Michael’s testimony that he had not been exaggerating. Brian himself was probably the youngest-looking forty-four year old Justin had ever seen, and Brian only got more handsome as he aged.

“Do you worry that Mr. Taylor might abandon his son one day, leaving him with Mr. Kinney to raise?”

“Yes, I do,” Lindsay said, her tone shifting now to concerned. “That would not only be unfair to Brian, but it would be unfair to that baby, too. Brian has a very important job running his advertising agency, which I hope he leaves for our son to take over someday. He shouldn’t have to take care of a baby all by himself that isn’t even his. Justin used to say that Brian was the most important person in his life and loves him with all his heart, but I just told you how many times he’s left Brian before… why wouldn’t he walk out on his son, too? Justin knows how it feels for your father to abandon you.”

Justin didn’t realize how angry he was becoming until Melanie slid her legal pad over to him, which had Don’t let her get to you - that’s what she wants written on it.

“Why do you think Mr. Taylor wants to take care of this baby?” Turner asked.

Al could have objected to that question as well as the last few, due to them calling for Lindsay to conclude her answer based on her opinion rather than facts, but he wanted to hear what she had to say.

Lindsay licked her lips and looked at Justin in disdain. “I think that Justin wants to make this little family with Brian because he’s jealous of me.”

Justin had to roll in his lips to keep from bursting out laughing.

“How so?” Turner asked.

“Well, I was able to give birth to Brian’s child and of course, since he’s a man, Justin can’t do that. Now he has this kid who is biologically his, so maybe Justin thinks this is the next best thing. Justin knows that Brian and I have always had a special connection, apart from the one we have because of our son, a connection that Brian has never had with any other woman in his life. See, Justin has always been the ‘bottom,’ as it’s called, in their relationship. He basically assumes the role of the woman, due to him being smaller, weaker, and more submissive, while Brian is very much the alpha male - big, strong, protective, and dominant.”

Again, Justin had to hold back his laughter. If only she could see him assert his dominance over Brian in bed, making the big, strong man beg to be his bottom boy and enjoy every second that Justin’s cock was in his ass.

“Plus, I think he’s jealous of Curtis, too,” Lindsay added. “Daphne used to be in love with Justin, but they couldn’t be together because Justin is gay. You see, your honor, there are some gay people who actually wish they could be straight, either because it would make their life easier or because they hate themselves for being gay and wish they could just be normal.”

Justin and Melanie both wanted to introduce Lindsay to the kettle she was calling black.

“Justin even took Daphne’s virginity in their senior year of high school and turned her down when she wanted more, because having sex with her only confirmed to himself that he was indeed gay. Then Daphne met Curtis in college, who looks a lot like Justin… I think that’s probably what attracted her to Curtis in the first place. Now Justin has a chance to raise Daphne’s child without having any other strings attached to her. This’ll probably be Justin’s only chance to ever have a child of his own. It’s not enough that he’s appropriated my son, he had to take Curtis’s away, too.”

Justin could hardly believe the degree of Lindsay’s delusions.

“Thank you, Ms. Peterson,” Turner said. “I have no more questions for the witness, your honor.”

Tie Your Mother Down by charming1

Al stood up to begin his cross-examination of Lindsay, which he had been looking forward to for weeks. “It’s nice to see you again, Ms. Peterson,” he said as genuinely as he could manage.


Lindsay grinned at him. “I’m sure it is, Albert.”


Al smiled back at her, amused. “Ms. Peterson, you mentioned that you have been unable to provide for yourself since Ms. Marcus left your home in Canada, is that right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Where have you been living since Ms. Marcus left?”

“I’ve been staying with a friend here in town,” she said.

“Is that friend Michael Novotny?”

“Yes. Michael is just about the only friend I have these days and he’s been generous enough to help me while I get back on my feet, even though he has his own financial struggles.”

“What about the support payments that Mr. Kinney has sent you every week for your son since you moved to Canada in 2005, along with the other incidental payments he’s given you since your son was born?”

“Objection,” Turner said in annoyance. “Ms. Peterson’s personal finances have absolutely nothing to do with this case.”

“Your honor, Ms. Peterson claimed on direct that Mr. Kinney hasn’t ‘been there’ for their son,” Al pointed out. “I contend that financially providing for their son would constitute as ‘being there’ for him.”

“Overruled,” the judge said.

Al gave him a small smile. “Again, Ms. Peterson, have you been receiving support payments from Mr. Kinney?”

“That’s not enough to live on,” Lindsay claimed.

“How much were the weekly payments?”

“A thousand dollars,” Lindsay answered very quietly.

“I’m sorry, did you say you were receiving a thousand dollars per week, four thousand dollars per month in support from Mr. Kinney for a child that isn’t even legally his?”

Lindsay didn’t seem to have any problem with her answer. “Yes.”

“And you couldn’t live on four thousand dollars a month, in addition to the income you and your wife jointly brought in?”

Lindsay hesitated before she said, “Brian hasn’t given me any money since Gus ran away from me, which was back in March. Mel hasn’t given me any money since she left me in February, and I’ve been working as a cashier part-time at Michael’s comic book store for free in exchange for living with him. Before that, Mel and I were lucky to make ends meet some months. It’s been hard for me to maintain steady employment since we moved to Canada.”

“And what exactly did you spend that four thousand dollars per month on when Mr. Kinney did send it to you?”

Lindsay looked at Al like he was an idiot. “Uh, groceries, clothing, toiletries, school supplies… whatever my son needed. Teenagers are expensive, you know. You have, what, four grown kids yourself, Albert?”

Al ignored her question, since he was the one that was supposed to be asking the questions. “You stated before that Mr. Taylor didn’t seem very trustworthy when he first came into Mr. Kinney’s life nearly sixteen years ago, when he was only seventeen. Do you still feel that way about Mr. Taylor now?”

“Yes,” Lindsay confidently answered.

“Could you tell us why you feel that way? Specifically, is there something Mr. Taylor has done recently that would make him untrustworthy in your eyes?””

Lindsay bit her bottom lip as she thought about her answer. “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but... well, he did agree to sign over his rights to the baby and now he refuses. He also helped convince Gus that he doesn’t want to live with me anymore.”

Al chuckled quietly, knowing that she was grasping straws. “Ms. Peterson, are you aware that there is an audio recording that exists of you and Brian Kinney having an argument on March 14th of this year?”

“Objection, your honor,” Turner quickly said, standing up. “Mr. Kurtzman’s question goes beyond the scope of cross; I did not mention any recording in my previous questioning of the witness.”

Al addressed the judge again. “Your honor, this recording has the ability to impeach the witness and I would like to introduce it as an Defendant’s Exhibit One. Much of the recording directly relates to Ms. Peterson’s prior testimony.”

“And… and I object to the recording being played in this courtroom, due to me doubting its authenticity,” Turner said anxiously. “Ms. Peterson denies ever making a recording.”

Al introduced another exhibit to the judge, which was a notarized affidavit from Brian saying that the recording was made by him with his cell phone and was of himself and Lindsay Alice Peterson. Turner objected to it, claiming that the recording was obtained illegally.

“Mr. Kurtzman, how long is the recording?” the judge asked.

“About five minutes.”

“I will allow the exhibit into evidence and decide for myself whether to weigh its contents while deliberating my verdict,” the judge decided. “I will also accept the affidavit into evidence.”

“But I didn’t make any recording!” Lindsay shouted.

“Ms. Peterson, please do not speak unless you are asked a question by either myself or one of the attorneys,” the judge advised in a sharp tone. “I do not allow outbursts like that in my courtroom.”

“I’m sorry, your honor,” Lindsay said, bowing her head.

Al made sure that Melanie had her laptop plugged into the courtroom’s audio system and that the recording was ready to be played.

“Again, Ms. Peterson, are you aware of the recording of yourself and Brian Kinney from March 14th that was provided to Mr. Turner during trial preparations?”

Lindsay sat up tall in her chair. “Mr. Turner told me that a recording exists that you claim is Brian and some woman arguing, but I never consented to a recording being made and I doubt that it’s even me… it was probably just manufactured to make me look bad.”

“Well, in order for a recording to be used as evidence in a trial, one of the parties must be aware that their conversation is being recorded,” Al informed her. “As his sworn affidavit states, Mr. Kinney himself recorded it.”

“Brian would never do that,” Lindsay replied sternly.

Al tilted his head to the side. “How about we play it, and I’ll let you decide whose voices we hear? Melanie, if you’ll please begin the recording.”

I’m here, Lindz,” Brian’s voice rang out from the speakers.

Lindsay’s voice followed. “Brian, I want you to tell Gus that he can’t live with you, that he needs to go back to Toronto with me as soon as possible.”

“Pause it, please,” Al said, prompting Melanie to pause the recording. “Now, Ms. Peterson, was that Brian Kinney’s voice on the recording?”

Lindsay pretended to think about it for a moment. “I believe it might have been, but I’m not quite sure.”

“You do know what Mr. Kinney’s voice sounds like, don’t you?” Al asked in a slightly condescending tone.

Turner objected, claiming that Al was badgering his witness. The judge overruled.

“As you previously stated, you and Mr. Kinney have been friends for nearly twenty-five years, is that correct?” Al asked.

“Yes, we have been friends for about that long,” Lindsay haughtily replied.

“Well then, I would certainly hope that you could recognize his voice.” Al replied, trying not to smirk.

Lindsay sighed before admitting, “That sounds like Brian.”

“And do your friends and family, including Mr. Kinney, often call you ‘Lindz’ for short?”

“Sometimes, yes.”

Al continued, “And was that you who answered him, telling Mr. Kinney to tell your son Gus that he needs to go back to Toronto with you?”

“It’s a woman who sounds a bit like me,” Lindsay hesitantly admitted.

“Your honor, you’ve been listening to Ms. Peterson speak for the last several minutes, so it’s up to you whether you believe that the woman in this recording is indeed Lindsay Peterson,” Al said before he gestured to Melanie to hit play.

Why would I tell him that?” Brian asked Lindsay in the recording. “He has begged me not to send him back to Toronto…

The recording of Brian and Lindsay’s argument that they had in the park about Gus, Justin, and Keegan continued to play. All eyes were on Lindsay as her ugly words about Justin echoed throughout the courtroom.

Hell, he will probably run off with someone and leave you to raise his brat on your own.”

How much more fucking money does he need? That should be mine and Gus’s inheritance, not his and his kid’s.”

You’ve always been nothing but his sugar daddy, and you only keep him because of his pretty face and tight ass.”

Lindsay’s face slowly started to fall as she listened to her herself, and she looked very worried as she recalled what was coming out of her own mouth next.

Did you expect me to spend every God damned cent on Gus?”

I have a bit of a shopping addiction, Brian.”

Even if Gus does live with you, I expect you to continue with the current support payments to me.”

What do you expect me to live on? If you refuse, I will take you to court and get support ordered.”

You know I have access to his college fund, right? I could take every penny out of there if I wanted to.”

Gus can stay here if you throw out Justin and his kid, and become a real couple with me.”

By the time the recording cut off, Lindsay was crying hard.

Al walked over to her and asked, “Ms. Peterson, do you need a moment to collect yourself?”

Lindsay shook her head and took another tissue out of the box sitting on the bar in front of her. “No… I’m okay.”

“Are you upset because that was you in the recording?”

Lindsay nodded and blew her nose.

“Please answer out loud for the record,” Al said.

“Yes, that was me,” Lindsay answered, her voice cracking before she completely lost it, falling apart in wracking sobs.

“It’s not fair!” she suddenly screamed before directly addressing Justin. “Brian was supposed to be mine, not yours! You stole my family from me, you motherfucker!”

“Ms. Peterson, calm yourself immediately or I will hold you in contempt,” the judge ordered.

Instead, Lindsay stood up and yelled at Justin, “You’ve always been in my way! If it wasn’t for you-”

“If you do not calm down right now, I will hold you in contempt,” the judge yelled, banging his gavel.

All hell broke loose as Lindsay walked out from behind the witness stand screaming incoherently at Justin before beginning to charge towards him. The court bailiff who had been standing nearby grabbed Lindsay’s shoulders, yelling at her to stop.

Lindsay screamed and struggled against the large man’s grip, forcing him to roughly take her down to the floor and cuff her hands behind her back.

The judge told the bailiff to take Lindsay downstairs to a holding cell. Melanie watched as the man dragged her still-screaming and cursing wife out of the room.

Everyone sat in complete shock for several moments before the judge spoke up.

“Uh… I believe it would be a good idea to recess until tomorrow morning. Mr. Turner, please be prepared to call your next witness at nine AM sharp.”

“Your honor,” Melanie called out before he could go. “Could you please have everyone leave so you and I could have an emergency hearing concerning my wife?”

The rattled judge impatiently stated, “Once she calms down, I’m going to have her brought to my chambers and fine her one thousand dollars for her outburst.”

“I respect that,” Melanie said. “But I would like you to also order her transferred to a hospital to be evaluated as soon as possible. I have been concerned about her mental health for quite some time, and after what we just saw, you’d probably agree that she needs some professional help. I mean, she would have attacked my client if the bailiff hadn’t stopped her.”

The judge nodded. “I am inclined to agree with you, Ms. Marcus. I’ll call down to holding and have her transferred to a hospital for a minimum seventy-two hour psychiatric hold, for the safety of others and herself. It will be up to the hospital staff as to whether she requires further treatment.”

Melanie thanked the judge before he and his staff left the courtroom. Curtis and Turner left soon after, whispering to each other as they walked out. Al gathered his things and left a minute later, and Melanie and Justin stayed behind in stunned silence at what they just seen.

“Holy shit,” Justin finally said. “That… that was…”

“Yeah,” Melanie agreed.



Mr. Mom by charming1

After the emotional day in court, the residents of Britin headed home after having dinner at Debbie’s house. All three kids were spending their days at Debbie’s since Melanie had previously made a compromise with JR and Gus allowing them both to continue online homeschooling for the rest of the school year as long as they kept their grades up. They were each doing very well, better than either of them did when they had previously attended traditional schools. JR was even learning Hebrew in her spare time in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah the following year.

Justin and Brian left Keegan with Melanie, Gus, and JR at the guest house. Justin had been very tense and emotional since Lindsay’s testimony and attempted assault in the courtroom, and Brian wanted time alone with his blond. Justin had barely said anything since leaving the courthouse and allowed Melanie to give Brian the play-by-play of Lindsay’s testimony and meltdown before they went to Debbie’s house.

Brian took Justin straight up to their bedroom and slowly peeled his fiance’s clothes off. He then took him into the shower to help them both relax. Brian loved soaping up his man, as it always felt so intimate, so refreshing.

He remembered the first shower they had shared the morning after he had met Justin and taken his virginity. He had known immediately that there was something different, something permanent about this one, even if he didn’t want to admit it at the time. It partially had to do with Justin being there with him at the hospital after Gus’s birth. The only other explanation was that Justin was… special. Brian had always acknowledged the parallel of both Justin and Gus entering his life on the same day.

After finishing their shower, Brian lovingly dried off the blond and carried him to their bed. Lying on top of his lover, Brian held Justin’s face in his hands, kissing him with all the love he could manage. Justin finally started to relax and respond to Brian’s touch, kissing him back, whimpering and moaning.

Brian moved on to Justin’s neck, licking and sucking on the pulse points. Moving down, Brian sucked on the pink nipples, biting softly and causing Justin to arch his back in response. Continuing on down, Brian stopped to lick the bead of precum leaking out of his slit. He took the large pink head in his mouth and sucked gently, coaxing out more of Justin’s juices.

He reached his long arm up to grab the bottle of lube from under the pillow. Justin spread his legs open further, but Brian shook his head.

“Not this time, Sunshine. I want to ride my man’s hot hard cock,” Brian told him as he squirted the lube onto his fingers before reaching back to prepare himself.

Justin watched as Brian lubed himself, loving how hot he always looked doing it.

Brian got into position and lowered himself onto his fiance’s throbbing cock. Justin raised his knees and reached his hands up, linking their fingers together. He knew that Brian liked to lean back against his thighs, loving how it caused the head of Justin’s cock to scrape across his prostate at that angle.

After adjusting to being filled, Brian started moving. As he moved up and down, he told the blond, “I want you to know that I have never seen you as the woman in our relationship. You are a strong, confident, beautiful man and you are my man. I wouldn’t want you any other way. I love bottoming for you because I love you and you are an amazing lover. Your cock was made to fuck me.”

Justin was moaning loudly and raising his hips to increase the friction. They released their hands so that Brian could put his hands on Justin’s knees to increase the pace.

Justin started to reach for Brian’s cock, but Brian shook his head.

“Don’t need it. Your cock is enough, always enough.”

Brian growled and came all over the two of them. His release triggered Justin’s.

“I love you… so much,” Justin yelled as he released his seed deep inside his fiance.

Brian leaned forward and kissed his blond, turning them onto their sides carefully while they were still attached. Justin’s breathing soon evened out in sleep, exhausted from the day’s events. Brian slowly removed himself from Justin as the younger man slept.

He took one of the hand towels they kept in a nightstand drawer and wiped his cum off of Justin. He then covered Justin up before going into the bathroom to clean himself up.

Brian got dressed and headed over to the guest house to visit with the kids. He knocked on the door and was greeted by Melanie, who was looking upset.

“What’s up? Is the baby okay?” Brian asked, concerned.

“Yes, Keegan’s fine. It’s JR; she went into her room as soon as we got here and won’t come out. She didn’t even want to play with Keegan.”

“Let me try talking to her. Maybe what she needs is a real man,” Brian joked, trying to get a smile out of Melanie.

Brian knocked on JR’s bedroom door and called out, “Hey Munchkin, it’s your Uncle Pop. Can I come in?”

JR opened the door, and Brian saw that she had been crying. He picked the little mini-Melanie up and held her tight.

“What is it Princess, why the tears?” Brian lovingly asked her.

“Oh, Uncle Pop,” she whimpered. “Papa was so upset today. He wouldn’t even talk to me. I know he’s worried about Keegan, and I feel so sad for him.”

Brian knew he needed to reassure his little girl, since she never referred to her “Uncle Sunny” as “Papa” unless she was very upset, usually when they would be saying goodbye after visits to Toronto in the past.

“Princess, your Papa will be fine,” he whispered in her ear. “I helped him relax and now he’s taking a nap. I’m sure he didn’t mean for you to get upset. When he wakes up, I’ll ask him to come and talk to you. I know he wouldn’t want you to worry; it’s just grown up stuff. Just know that we both love you. Now, Ima is worried about you, so why don’t we go out in the living room and play with your little brother?”

JR smiled and gave Brian a kiss on his stubbly cheek. “Yeah, let’s go play with Keegan.”


Everyone was in the courtroom the next morning when the bailiff announced, “All rise, court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Jeremiah Dennis presiding.”

The air in the courtroom was thick, with Lindsay’s breakdown still being fresh in everyone’s minds. After the judge told everyone to sit, he advised both sides that outbursts such as the one they had seen yesterday would not be tolerated in his courtroom. The attorneys assured the judge that nothing like that would occur again.

Turner’s next witness was Brian, who was dressed in his “lucky” Armani suit.

Turner wasted no time with pleasantries and asked, “Mr. Kinney, were you physically present when my client and his wife asked Mr. Taylor to provide his sperm to them, in order for them to have a child?”

“Yes, I was,” Brian confirmed. “Daphne had called and asked if she and Curtis could come to speak with my fiance Justin about something.”

Justin smiled after Brian had called him “my fiance,” the words sounding like beautiful music to his ears.

Brian continued, “Curtis and Daphne came to the home that my fiance and I share, and we had a lovely brunch. Daphne asked Justin to father her child after they told us that Curtis was sterile.”

“What were the exact words that were spoken?” Turner asked.

Brian chose his words carefully. “It was over a year ago, so I don’t remember theexact words. Daphne said that she wanted to be artificially inseminated with my fiance’s sperm. If she got pregnant, the baby would be raised by Daphne and Curtis, and my fiance would give up his parental rights so Curtis could legally adopt the baby after it was born.”

“Was there a discussion over whether there would be a written contract?”

“Yes there was, but as we know, no written contract was ever made,” Brian said, a tinge of deprecation in his voice.

“We know that, Mr. Kinney,” Turner replied, giving Brian the stink eye before asking his next question. “Was there any discussion about what would happen if Mrs. Anderson was unable to care for her child, if she were to pass away before Mr. Taylor signed over his rights, for instance?”

Brian shook his head. “No, there wasn’t. That probably wasn’t a discussion that my fiance would have wanted to have, since Daphne was his best friend and he loved her like a sister. He wouldn’t have wanted to imagine a world without her, where she wouldn’t be alive to raise her child.”

Turner looked visibly irked by Brian’s answer, knowing that he was trying to pull at the judge’s heartstrings. “Mr. Kinney, isn’t it true that you voluntarily signed over your parental rights to your biological son, Gus-”

“Objection,” Al interrupted before Turner could finish his question. “That issue is irrelevant to this case, your honor. Counsel already knows why this took place, that it was not done out of neglect of the child, especially since he still voluntarily paid support to the child’s biological mother.”

The judge sustained the objection, meaning that he agreed with Al and Brian did not have to answer.

Turner took a few seconds to think about his next question, his game plan obviously disrupted. “Mr. Kinney, have you ever used illicit drugs before?”

“I must admit that I have, but it’s been a long, long time ago,” Brian said. “I was quite a partier in my younger days, but I have moved past that life. I went through a bout of cancer back in 2004, and I started taking better care of myself after that. It’s been at least five years since I’ve smoked marijuana. I don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore. I want to be around for my family for a long time.”

“What about alcohol?” Turner said, trying to pin something unsavory on him.

“I doubt I drink any more than the average person,” Brian said, giving Turner a smile. “We’re all allowed at least one vice, right?”

Turner looked dissatisfied with that answer too, but continued. “Mr. Kinney, is it true that you plan to adopt the child currently known as Keegan Mercury Taylor if this court denies my client’s petition for custody?”

Brian smiled at Justin. “Yes, it is. My fiance and I are getting married on September fifteenth, and we will raise Keegan together. Over these last four months of his life, I have grown to love Keegan very, very much. I couldn’t love him any more if he were my own child, and I am looking forward to watching him grow up. I didn’t have the best childhood, and I want to give Keegan everything that I didn’t: unconditional love, support, safety, and two parents who love each other.”

It appeared to everyone that Turner regretted asking that question, and he sighed before saying, “I have no other questions for the witness.”

Melanie was given the opportunity to cross-examine, but saw no reason to do so, being very impressed and satisfied by Brian’s answers.

“No questions,” she simply stated. “Mr. Kinney will be recalled for my direct.”

The judge called for a short recess, and Justin and Brian stepped outside in the hallway.

“You were so great!” Justin said as he practically jumped into Brian’s arms.

“I know,” Brian agreed before planting a big kiss on his fiance’s plump lips.

They were still kissing when they heard the courtroom door open, and Curtis walked out. He scoffed at them loudly before walking down to the restroom at the end of the hallway.

“Fuck him,” Brian said.

Since Brian was going to be recalled as a witness later, he wasn’t allowed to go back into the courtroom. Once court had resumed, Turner called Justin as his final witness.

Justin sat down on the witness stand and took a slow breath to relax. He reminded himself that he was fighting for his son and the promise he made to Daphne.

“Hello, Mr. Taylor,” Turner said, not sounding very happy to be talking to him.

Justin nodded once, trying to maintain a cool facade despite the butterflies in his stomach. “Hello, Mr. Turner,” he replied respectfully.

“I’m just going to cut right to the chase here,” Turner began. “Was there ever a discussion about what would happen if Mrs. Anderson were to die before you signed over your rights to the child you conceived with her?”

“The possibility of Daphne dying and what would happen in the aftermath was never discussed,” Justin simply stated. “As my fiance stated during his testimony, I never imagined the possibility of Daphne not being alive to raise her child.”

Turner narrowed his eyes at him a bit. “Okay… during the nearly twelve months in between the time you agreed to provide your sperm to the Andersons and the date of Mrs. Anderson’s death, did you ever discuss with her about what would happen to her son if she died?”

Justin leaned in closer to the microphone and spoke slowly so Turner would hear and understand him. “No, sir. We. Never. Talked. About. It. Ever. Daphne was a young, healthy woman, and we never thought she wouldn’t be alive to raise her son. We never assumed or foresaw that she would die in a car accident or anything like that.”

“Okay…” Turner said, pausing for several seconds while he thought about his next question. “If Mrs. Anderson had died after you signed your rights away and after my client had adopted the child, would you have sought custody?”

“Objection,” Melanie said. “Calls for conclusion.”

Before the judge could rule on Melanie’s objection, Justin raised his hand and looked over at the judge. “Um, I would like to answer that, if I may.”

“Go ahead, Mr. Taylor, but next time I suggest letting your attorneys decide whether or not you should answer a question,” the judge said.

Ever the WASP, Justin smiled at the judge. “I’m sorry, your honor, I will do that. But to answer Mr. Turner’s question, no, I wouldn’t have sought custody of Keegan, or whatever his name would have been, if Daphne had died after Curtis adopted him. I would have already given up my rights at that point. Keegan would have already been Curtis’s son, but I would have offered to help Curtis in any way he needed. I would have still wanted to be in Keegan’s life in some capacity, if Curtis would have allowed it, but I wouldn’t have tried to get my rights back.”

“Would you have wanted to raise the child if Mrs. Anderson hadn’t died, such as seeking visitation or reneging on your promise to give up your rights?” Turner asked.

Instead of objecting again, Melanie looked at Justin to see if he wanted to answer.

“No, I wouldn’t have,” Justin said to Turner. “Before Daphne died, I never intended to be a father to her child. I had every intention of keeping my promise to them that I would sign over my rights. However, if Daphne had left Curtis before having her baby and needed help raising him, I would have been there for her in every way she needed, no question. Even if she hadn’t been pregnant and had split from Curtis, I would have been there for her. She did the same for me in the past.”

Turner took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Mr. Taylor, why did you initially refuse to sign a written Donor Agreement?”

“Very soon after I said that I’d give Daphne my sperm and before she even became pregnant, I met with a lawyer who specializes in family and adoption law. She told me not to sign anything until after the baby was born, because I couldn’t agree to sign away what wasn’t legally mine yet, which were my parental rights. I called and spoke to Daphne about it later that day, and she agreed and didn’t think it was necessary to have a written agreement. She later told me that Curtis was fine with us proceeding without a written agreement.”

Justin looked over at Curtis, who looked like he just smelled something rotten.

“Did Mrs. Anderson decide not to have you sign a written agreement because she trusted that you wouldn’t break your word?”

“Yes, that’s exactly why.”

“How do you think she’d feel now, if she knew that you broke your promise?” Turner asked accusingly.

“I didn’t break my promise,” Justin nearly yelled. “My final promise to Daphne, after her car accident, was to raise our son with Brian and to keep him away from Curtis.Curtis was the one who broke his promise to her. She trusted Curtis to love, honor, and cherish her for the rest of her life, but he obviously didn’t because-”

“Thank you, Mr. Taylor,” Turner said.

“-he cheated on her!” Justin finished, speaking over Turner.

Turner addressed the judge. “I have no further questions for the witness at this time.”

“Ms. Marcus?” the judge said, inviting Melanie to cross-examine.

Just as she had with Brian, Melanie said, “No questions. I will call my client during my direct.”

The judge asked Turner to call his next witness, and Turner said that he had no further witnesses. With the plaintiff’s case in chief completed, the judge recessed for lunch.

Between the Cheats by charming1

Al's wife Sandra made a nice lunch for everyone, and Al, Melanie, Justin, and Brian all sat down at the Kurtzmans's dining room table and talked about how they would proceed with their case. It was quickly decided that they would not call Ben or Emmett as witnesses, since Michael had done an excellent job at impeaching himself as a witness the previous day. Melanie sent texts to both of the men, letting them know that they would not need to testify.

Once Al, Melanie, and Justin had returned to the courthouse and proceedings resumed, Melanie moved for Curtis's petition to be dismissed.

"Mr. Turner failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted," Melanie said to the judge. "He did not prove that there was any binding contract between his client and mine, and he also did not prove that his client would make a better parent than my client."

The judge shuffled through some papers in front of him. "Ms. Marcus, I see that you have subpoenaed several witnesses to testify, and I would hope that at least one of those witnesses could add something of value to this case. I don't want any possible evidence or testimony omitted. I think both sides can appreciate that I do not make child custody decisions lightly, since my decision ultimately affects the future and well being of a young life. Therefore, I deny the respondent's motion to dismiss. Ms. Marcus, you may proceed with your case."

Melanie nodded in understanding. "On behalf of my client and Mr. Kurtzman, we would like to thank you for taking a decision such as this so seriously."

She then began her opening statement, once again telling the judge that Justin only agreed to consent to Curtis adopting the child he conceived with Daphne with the understanding that both Curtis and Daphne would raise the child. She repeated her claim that Turner did not prove his case whatsoever. She assured the judge that she would prove that Justin, along with Brian, would be a better father for Keegan than Curtis and pressed the fact that Curtis worked too much to adequately raise Keegan as a single father.

Melanie continued, "Mr. Turner attempted to paint my client and his fiance Brian Kinney to be morally corrupt individuals who would be ill-suited to raise a child. He did a pretty poor job of it, in my opinion. I plan to call several witnesses who will prove my assertion that Dr. Anderson should not be given responsibility over the life of Keegan Mercury Taylor. One of those witnesses will be Dr. Anderson himself. I'll also call two witnesses who heard Daphne Anderson's dying wish for Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney to raise her son.

"I would also like to add that my two children, Gus and Jenny Rebecca who reside with Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kinney, and myself absolutely adore Keegan. They also love Justin and look up to him as a father figure-"

"Objection," Turner interrupted. "Your honor, Ms. Marcus is stating her own experience with her client, and she's only trying to toy with your emotions by bringing her young children into this."

The judge smiled in amusement. "Mr. Turner, you are aware that opening statements are not evidence, correct? Furthermore, I will decide whether Ms. Marcus is ‘toying with my emotions,' as you claimed. I will allow her to proceed."

Before Melanie could continue, Turner interrupted again. "Your honor, I move for Ms. Marcus to either recuse herself or be removed as counsel in this case, due to a clear conflict of interest. She is way too emotionally involved, which prevents her from competently representing her client."

"Mr. Turner, I'm sure you have been quite aware since the beginning of this trial of the close personal relationship between Ms. Marcus and her client," the judge said. "Why are you just now asking for her to be removed?"

Turner had to think about that for a moment. "I just now realized how emotionally invested Ms. Marcus really is."

"Must I remind you that you were the one who previously called not only the biological father of Ms. Marcus's daughter but also her estranged wife as witnesses in your case in chief?" the judge said in a slightly bitter tone. "Ms. Marcus maintained her composure throughout both of those testimonies, even after Ms. Peterson's emotional breakdown."

The judge turned to Melanie. "Ms. Marcus, would you like to recuse yourself from this case?"

"I would not," Melanie replied. "Yes, I am emotionally invested in the outcome of this case, but it does not cloud my ability to competently represent my client. I believe it's only strengthening me."

"Mr. Taylor, do you feel that Ms. Marcus is not able to adequately and competently represent you in this matter for any reason?" the judge then asked.

Justin looked at Melanie and smiled. "I believe she is doing a wonderful job, along with Mr. Kurtzman. I wouldn't want anyone else by my side while I fight for my son."

"Motion is denied," the judge said. "Please proceed, Ms. Marcus."

"Thank you, your honor," Melanie said, smirking at Turner. "As I was saying, my children love and adore both Mr. Taylor and his son Keegan. They consider Mr. Taylor a second father and Keegan to be their little brother.  

"At the closing of my case in chief, I will ask that you deny Dr. Anderson's petition for sole legal and physical custody of Keegan Mercury Taylor. Keegan is exactly where he belongs, with the two men who have raised him for the past four months of his life and with his two older siblings who want to see him grow up. I believe that you will agree, your honor, that this is the best environment for Keegan to be raised in and rule in our favor."

Melanie's first witness was a human resources representative from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where Curtis was employed. The rep was called in order for Melanie to have Curtis's timesheets from the past five years entered as evidence, supporting her argument that Curtis was too busy to adequately raise a child as a single parent. The judge accepted the timesheets as evidence over Turner's objection.

Turner had no questions for the rep.

Next on the witness stand were the two emergency medical technicians who treated Daphne in the ambulance on the way to the small regional hospital. Each of them separately stated that they heard Daphne repeatedly say to Justin that she wanted him to raise her baby. One of the EMTs specifically remembered hearing Daphne say it, because she recalled tearing up.

"She knew she was going to die," the EMT said. "She was thinking about her baby's future, and that really touched me. I have three children and wouldn't want to imagine being in her position. Even with all the pain she was in and how scared she must have been for her own life, she was putting her baby first. I don't remember every patient I treat, but I'll always remember her."

Turner had no questions for either of the EMTs.

Melanie then informed the judge that she intended to call Curtis as her next witness. It was getting late in the afternoon, and she was concerned that there would not be enough time to complete her direct questioning of him.

The judge said that he would keep the court open as long as it took for her to question Curtis.

"I'll try my best to not keep us here past the first pitch of the Pirates game tonight, your honor," Melanie said after Curtis was sworn in and took his seat at the witness stand.

The judge chuckled, as his love for the city's baseball team was well known. "I appreciate that."

"May I treat the witness as hostile?" Melanie asked the judge.

"Yes, you may."

"Curtis... may I call you Curtis?," Melanie began, not bothering to say hello or waiting for his response. "Curtis, did you love your wife, Daphne?"

Curtis was clearly surprised that she was questioning him about his marriage so soon. "Yes, of course I did."

"Prior to Daphne's death, was it your intention to raise the child legally known as Keegan Mercury Taylor with her as your own son?"

"Yes. Daphne and I tried to conceive on our own for a year before we discovered that I'm sterile. We really wanted a child, or else we wouldn't have ever asked Justin to give us his sperm. I still want children."

"Could you please tell the court about the very last time you saw your wife?"

"Um..." Curtis said, looking nervous. "She said that she was going out, and she got in her car and left."

Melanie smiled. "Okay, obviously I was too vague, so I'll be more specific. Your last conversation with your wife was a very unpleasant one, correct?"

"Yes," Curtis admitted. "We had a huge fight."

"In fact, it ended with Daphne packing a bag and saying that she wanted a divorce, right?"

Curtis bowed his head. "Yes."

Melanie only knew about the suitcase in the trunk of Daphne's car; she didn't know for a fact that Daphne had requested a divorce, so she was quite pleased with herself for unearthing that.

"And the fight started when Daphne discovered that you had been cheating on her, is that correct?"

"No," Curtis claimed. "It started when Daphne found a Hangouts chat that I'd been having with an intern from the hospital. She'd been looking through my phone while I was in the shower, and she misconstrued the situation and accused me of cheating."

"That chat was with a student intern under your supervision named Amanda Crawford, right?" Melanie filled in.

"Yes," Curtis said, clearly annoyed by being asked about his mistress.

"What was the nature of that Hangouts chat?" Melanie asked, waiting to see how much Curtis would admit to.

"Amanda, uh, Miss Crawford, had been asking me homework questions... completely innocent. Daphne was always jealous. She knew that I work with several women, but she couldn't stand it. I wasn't allowed to have any female friends or talk to any of them outside of work, even if they were married or had boyfriends. I never acted that way about the men she worked with, because I trusted her."

"So, the chat that Daphne found on your phone was professional in nature?" Melanie asked, forcing herself maintain an indifferent facade. "It didn't contain anything that Daphne would have found inappropriate or offensive?"

"It was purely professional."

Melanie nodded, although she knew that Curtis was full of shit. "Was your relationship with Ms. Crawford platonic?"

"Of course it was," Curtis said. "I was a happily married man and I would never risk my career by having an inappropriate relationship with someone from the hospital, particularly a student under my instruction."

Melanie reached into a filing box that she had brought with her to court that day and pulled out a three-ring binder with a thick stack of papers inside. "Your honor, I'd like to introduce into evidence a printout of Google Hangouts instant messages, or ‘chats,' between Amanda Crawford and Curtis Anderson from October 2015 through April 2016."

"I object to them, your honor," Turner said. "I was given those messages as part of discovery, and I find them completely irrelevant to this case. I also doubt their authenticity. My client denies that the Google account used by the person Ms. Crawford was chatting with was his. In fact, that account doesn't even exist anymore. I contacted Google and found that while the account cannot be recovered, the name of the person attached to that account was ‘Robert Chase.'"

"Your honor, these message are relevant to this case, and they can be used to impeach Dr. Anderson as a witness and greatly damage his character," Melanie argued. "I contend that ‘Robert Chase,' which was the name of a doctor on the TV show House MD, was an alias of Dr. Anderson's to keep his marital indiscretions separate from any real accounts under his name. Ms. Crawford calls ‘Robert' by the name of ‘Curtis' five times throughout the messages, and ‘Robert' tells her not to call him that three times. If you read these messages, you will see that a lot of their content matches facts about Dr. Anderson that have been garnered throughout this case. In earlier messages, you will see that ‘Robert' was married to a woman named ‘Daphne' who eventually died. The names ‘Daphne' and ‘Daph' are used fifty-six times throughout the messages. ‘Robert' was also expecting a child with ‘Daphne.'

"There are many references to this lawsuit in the last half or so of the messages, and you will see that the name ‘Justin' is used thirty-eight times, ‘Charlie,' as in Charles Turner, is used nineteen times, and ‘Brian' is used eight times. There are many references to the child at the heart of this case, with ‘Robert' often calling him ‘Junior.' You, Mr. Kurtzman, and I are also referenced, and not in a positive light. If you do decide to read them, I must warn you that a great deal of the messages are quite explicit, making it clear that the two people exchanging the messages were engaged in a sexual relationship."

"And I maintain that the person Ms. Crawford was chatting with in these messages is not Dr. Anderson," Turner insisted. "There is no way to prove that this ‘Robert Chase' has anything to do with my client. It could have been anyone."

The judge took several seconds to look through his paperwork. "Ms. Marcus, I see that you have Amanda Crawford on your witness list. Do you plan to call her to testify tomorrow?"

"Yes, I do," Melanie answered proudly.

"Do you plan to reference these instant messages during your questioning of Ms. Crawford?"

"I believe what she has to say stands on its own without the messages, if you reject them as evidence. Overall, the content of the messages are very damaging to Dr. Anderson's character, which is the main reason why I want to introduce them as evidence. If you recall, Mr. Turner spent a large portion of his case in chief attempting to damage the characters of my client and his fiance. If you agree that this so-called ‘Robert Chase' is in fact Curtis Anderson, you'll see Mr. Turner's client doing an excellent job of casting a dark shadow over himself."

The judge drummed his fingers on his chin as he thought about it. "I will allow the printout of the messages to be submitted... looks like I have some homework tonight."

Turner exhaled loudly, clearly angered by this decision. The bailiff took the binder from Melanie and gave it to the judge.

"Ms. Marcus, you may continue with your direct examination of Dr. Anderson," Judge Dennis said.

Melanie knew that Curtis would only continue to lie if she pressed him further about Amanda, so she changed topics.

She asked him how many times he had seen Keegan since he was born, and he said only once, on the day that Justin and Brian took Keegan from the hospital. When she asked him why he never visited Keegan before that day, Curtis claimed that he was mourning Daphne's death too deeply and that he wanted to avoid anything or anyone that reminded him of his dead wife. He confirmed that he didn't go to Daphne's funeral, saying that he couldn't bear to see her in a casket.

"If you don't want a reminder of Daphne, why do you want to raise her son?" Melanie asked, happy that he had set her up to ask that question.

"Because we were supposed to raise that baby together, and I want to honor her memory by raising her son right," Curtis said.

"What else do you intend to do if you are awarded custody?'"

He scoffed. "Well, if the court gives him to me, the first thing I'll do is change that stupid name that Justin gave him. Daphne knew that I wanted to name our son after myself."

"Okay," Melanie said. "What did you mean before when you said you would ‘raise him right?' Does that mean you think Justin and Brian will somehow raise Keegan wrong?"

"I meant that he won't be raised by a couple of cock sucking, fudge packing faggots, and I'll do whatever is necessary so that he doesn't grow up to be a disgusting faggot himself."

Everyone in the courtroom, including Turner, inhaled sharply at hearing Curtis's homophobic slur.

"It's bad enough that Daphne was friends with a bunch of fags and that I had to put up with them too, but that doesn't mean that her son should be raised around a bunch of them," Curtis continued, looking directly at Justin.

Turner raised his hand. "Uh, your honor? May I have a word with my client?"

"No, you may not," the judge answered.

"Curtis-" Melanie began, but he cut her off.

"You know, there are a lot of studies that show-"

"Dr. Anderson!" the judge yelled over him. "Do not speak out of turn."

Instead of apologising for running his mouth, Curtis crossed his arms over his chest and puckered his lips while staring absently at the wall in front of him.

"Curtis," Melanie said again. "You knew that your wife had gay friends before you married her, namely her best friend Justin Taylor, right?"

Turner objected for irrelevance, but the judge overruled.

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I like fags. I married Daphne despite her being a huge fag hag. She's dead now, so there's no reason why her son should be forced to be around a bunch of fags. They all just want to sweep us up in their gay agenda, because they hate straight people. They'd make every kid gay, if you'd let them. Justin probably wants to make that kid a big nelly fairy like him."

Justin was shocked at what he was hearing, as he had always thought that Curtis liked him and accepted his lifestyle. He could not count the number of times that Curtis had gone dancing with Daphne at Babylon, had gone for drinks and pool at Woody's, and celebrated holidays and events with the family over the years. He had even marched with the PFLAG group during the Pride Parade every year since he and Daphne had started seeing each other.

Melanie continued, "So, if you are successful in your suit and are awarded custody of Keegan, or ‘Curtis Junior' rather, do you plan to raise him to hate gay people?"

"Maybe not to hate them, but certainly not become one of them or ever associate with them." Curtis said.

"And if Curtis Junior came to you one day and said, ‘Dad, I'm gay,' what would you do?"

Curtis scoffed. "No son of mine would be gay; trust me, I'll make damn sure of that."

Melanie smiled. "No, of course not. Curtis, would you hire a nanny to raise your son if you're awarded custody?"

"Well yeah," he answered, his tone condescending. "You've hammered enough on the fact that I work a lot. Who else would take care of him while I work? I have to make a living. I have a very important job... much more important than drawing pictures all day, unlike some people."

Melanie looked over at Justin, who looked like he was about to blow a gasket. "Do you already have a nanny in mind... such as Amanda Crawford?"

"Why would I hire an surgical intern to be my nanny?" Curtis asked.

"Probably because you introduced Ms. Crawford as your nanny when the lady from social services, Charlotte Sanders, came to visit your home, remember?" Melanie answered.

"Your honor," Turner said. "She's arguing with my client."

"Do you have any other questions for your witness, Ms. Marcus?" the judge asked.

"No, I do not at this time," Melanie answered. "The witness is subject to be recalled, if necessary."

Judge Dennis told Curtis that he may step down, but Turner all but begged the judge to let him cross-examine his client before court was adjourned for the evening.

"Make it quick," the judge granted.

Turner got up and slowly walked over to his client. "Dr. Anderson... now, you don't actually hate gay people, do you?"

Curtis shrugged. "I don't necessarily hate them, but I wouldn't be sad if they all dropped off the face of the earth. What they do is disgusting and should not be tolerated. Whenever I had to spend any time with them, I always took a shower as soon as I got home. I just felt dirty, and any time Daphne had been anywhere near them, I would make sure she took a shower before I would touch her. She didn't know the real reason; she just thought that I liked everything to be very clean. I know from my medical training that it's nearly impossible to catch any diseases through casual contact, but still."

Turner cringed. "Curtis... Dr. Anderson..."

He then turned to the judge. "Your honor, I'd like to move for a mistrial."

"Why?" the judge asked impatiently.

"Quite frankly, Judge Dennis, I don't believe you will be able to make a fair ruling in this particular case, due to your bias towards the gay community."

The judge looked astounded. "My what?"

"You have run as a Democrat your entire judicial career, you officiated the first same-sex wedding in this county and many others, and I hear that you have a few gay friends," Turner said. "At the very least, I'd like you to recuse yourself from this case and have it transferred to another judge."

"Mr. Turner, I'll have you know that I have been married to two women in my life," the judge informed him sternly. "My current wife and I have been happily married for thirty-six years and have five children, all of whom are heterosexual. Couldn't a reasonable person claim that those facts make me biased towards the heterosexual community, too?"

Turner looked deflated. "I withdraw my motion."

The judge nodded. "Thought so. Do you have any more questions for your client, Mr. Turner?"

"No, your honor."

"Court is adjourned for the evening," the judge said. "Ms. Marcus, please be prepared to call your next witness at nine AM."

What Goes Around... Comes Around by charming1

Judge Dennis sat down in his den that evening to watch the Pirates game and read over the binder full of instant messages that Melanie had given him, to determine if they would be included as evidence in the Anderson v Taylor trial.

He knew he was supposed to remain professional and impartial during the proceedings, but it wasn't easy. Charles Turner was a slimeball, never afraid to play dirty in order to get a win for his client. The judge had presided over several trials in the past with Turner being on both sides of the case, as counsel for plaintiffs as well as defendants. Despite having ruled in Turner's favor on more than one occasion, Judge Dennis still disliked him on a personal level and had very little professional respect for him as a fellow attorney.

Curtis Anderson was no better, cheating on his pregnant wife and causing all this heartache for Justin Taylor and his family. There was also his vicious condemnation of gays during his testimony earlier that day, which did not score him any points in his favor. The more the judge got to know the egotistical doctor, the less he liked him. If he ever needed orthopedic surgery in the future, he would request someone other than Dr. Anderson, no matter how great of a doctor he was supposed to be.

As he read through the pages of messages, it became abundantly clear to Judge Dennis that the chats were most certainly between Amanda Crawford and Curtis Anderson. They would be entered into evidence first thing in the morning.

He shook his head as he read what Curtis had said to Amanda about him, Brian, Justin, Al, and Melanie. Curtis wasn't happy to have a liberal judge on his case, complaining that the "fag loving judge" would be biased towards Justin. Turner had tried to get Judge "Regular Roy" Russo to hear the case; unfortunately for him, that homophobic asshole's schedule was filled with felony trials through the end of the summer. Both Curtis and Turner hated Justin's "fucking Jew attorneys" and loathed "that faggot Justin and his old sugar daddy." Curtis had even accused the wealthy couple of paying off the judge, after Judge Dennis had ruled that Justin could keep custody of Keegan while the case was pending.

Curtis Anderson and his smug attorney would have no choice but to sit there and listen to a few people sing the praises of Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor the following day in court. The judge knew that it would really chap their asses, and he was going to enjoy every minute of it. Brian and Justin seemed to be very genuine people, and although the judge did not know them personally, he had heard from many people that not only were they a very loving couple, but they were very generous men. They reportedly not only financially supported their friends when needed, but also gave a substantial amount of money to many charities. Brian had established the Vic Grassi House AIDS Hospice and Justin almost singlehandedly kept the Pittsburgh LGBTQ Center afloat.

One thing the judge found strange was that Curtis never told Amanda in their messages the real reason why he wanted Keegan, no matter how many times she asked. All he ever said was that it was between him and his lawyer, and that Curtis would explain it to the judge during the trial. He wondered if Turner looking surprised during Curtis's rant against gay people was an act, figuring he must have known how his client felt about Daphne's son potentially being raised by two gay men.

Judge Dennis was looking forward to tomorrow's testimony.


Due to the fact that Curtis had lied about cheating on Daphne, the Melanie had decided to call witnesses that would prove he lied. Curtis gave her no choice but to call Delia Johnson to the stand.

"Good morning, Mrs. Johnson," Melanie said to the woman who looked a lot like her dearly departed sister.

Delia smiled. "Good morning."

"Could you please tell the court what your relationship is to the petitioner in this case, Dr. Curtis Anderson?"

"Well, Dr. Daphne Anderson is my baby sister, so that would make Curtis my brother-in-law," Delia said, still unable to refer to Daphne in the past tense.

"And could you tell the court about the last time you spoke with Curtis Anderson?"

"It was the day after Daphne's funeral in January," Delia recalled. "Curtis didn't come to the funeral and I wanted to know why. I had tried calling and texting him, but he wouldn't pick up or reply. I went to his and Daphne's house, and I had to ring the doorbell at least three times before he came to the door. He didn't even invite me inside; I basically just walked in. He looked awful and reeked of alcohol."

"What was the reason that he gave for not coming to the funeral?" Melanie asked.

"He said that he didn't want to see Daphne in a casket or put in the ground. I told him, ‘Well, neither did I or anyone else in my family, but we were all there.' We argued back and forth for a few minutes, and he eventually broke down and told me that he felt guilty for causing Daphne's death. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said that he made Daphne upset, causing her to crash her car on the way to Justin's house."

"Did he tell you why Daphne had gotten upset?"

Delia looked over at Curtis with pure hatred in her eyes. "He said it was because Daphne caught him cheating with one of his interns from the hospital."

"Now, did Dr. Anderson actually admit to cheating?" Melanie asked, waiting as patiently as she could for Delia's response.

"Yes, he did. He said that it had been going on for a few months."

Melanie turned to look at Curtis, who had his eyes closed and was shaking his head. She saw that Turner was looking down at some paperwork in front of him.

"Did Dr. Anderson say the name of the woman he'd been cheating on Daphne with?" Melanie asked.

"I don't think so," Delia answered. "If he did, I don't remember."

"Did he say why he had been cheating on Daphne?"

Delia waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, he tried to say that it was because he was stressed out with work and with the new baby coming, but I didn't want to hear his excuses. As you could imagine, I was very angry with him, and I still am. I won't ever forgive him for hurting my sister like he did, because she was nothing but good and faithful to him. I don't think it's ever okay for someone to cheat, especially when you're married; worse if you're expecting a child. I told Curtis that he was a sorry excuse for a human being, among other choice words, then I went around the house and grabbed a few of my sister's personal items that I wanted to keep before I left."

"Thank you, Mrs. Johnson," Melanie said. "I have no other questions for my witness."

Turner didn't even look up as he said, "No questions."

Since they still had a lot to cover before the day was through, the judge told Melanie to call her next witness.

"Your honor, I'd like to call Brian Kinney," Melanie replied.

Brian walked back into the courtroom and sat at the witness stand, looking as handsome as ever. Melanie had him recall the conversation he had with Curtis a few days before Daphne's death, where Curtis had confessed to feeling stressed about becoming a father.

"I told him that he needed to suck it up and take care of his responsibilities," Brian said. "It's natural to have cold feet over big life changes, but it was way too late for him to back out then. I lost a little respect for him that day."

"Now, let's skip ahead to the day of Daphne's car accident," Melanie said. "Did you have a conversation with Dr. Anderson at the hospital while Daphne was in surgery?"

"Yes. Curtis told Justin and me that he had been cheating on Daphne with one of his interns. He said that Daphne had just found out about it earlier that day, and she left the house very upset."

"Could you tell the court about the conversation you had with Dr. Anderson immediately after you were informed that Daphne had died?" Melanie requested.

"My fiance and I followed Curtis outside the hospital entrance, where he was waiting for a cab to pick him up. He had been drinking and couldn't even drive himself there. I was devastated after hearing that Daphne was dead and was trying to keep Justin calm, but I specifically remember Justin asking Curtis if he had actually said that he'd been cheating on Daphne. I guess Justin didn't want to believe that it was true. Curtis admitted that yes, we heard him right.

"Curtis then said that it wasn't his fault that Daphne was pregnant or that she was so emotional over finding out that he'd been sleeping with another woman that she had wrapped her car around a tree. He also threw in Justin's face, the fact that he had once left me for another man, as if he was trying to absolve himself of blame for cheating. The man's wife had just died and her son was born five weeks premature, but you wouldn't have known it by the way he was acting. He was lucky that the cab picked him up when it did."

Melanie thanked Brian and informed the judge that she had no more questions for him. Turner had no questions, knowing that anything he asked Brian would only further hurt his client.

Since Brian was finished testifying, the judge allowed him to stay in the courtroom. Brian took a seat directly behind Justin, so he could provide his fiance with comfort and support.

For her next witness, Melanie called Amanda Crawford to the stand.

Amanda walked into the courtroom wearing a navy blue pantsuit and stilettos, her blonde hair pulled up in a French twist. Even the two gay men in the room couldn't help but notice how strikingly beautiful she was.

Once Amanda was seated at the witness stand, Melanie asked her to tell the court who she was and how she knew Curtis. When Melanie asked her if she saw Curtis in the courtroom that day, Amanda positively pointed him out.

Amanda proceeded to repeat much of what she had told Melanie during their first phone call, including the details of how she and Curtis begun dating. She talked about her reaction after finding out through the hospital grapevine that Curtis was married with a child on the way, breaking down in tears as she admitted that she had fallen in love with the adulterous doctor.

"Thinking back on it now, I can't believe that I was ever in so deep with a man that I would turn out to be his mistress," the young woman said as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue. "My dad cheated on my mom and I saw how much it had hurt her. I felt so awful for Curtis's wife, but I didn't want my relationship with him to end. He was kind, romantic, handsome, and he treated me like I was worth something... not just a pretty face like most of the other guys I've dated."

Melanie had Amanda tell the court how Curtis had promised her that he would leave Daphne after the baby was born, that he did not want to be involved in the baby's life, and that he would marry her once he was divorced.

"When did Dr. Anderson first tell you that he didn't want to be a father to Daphne's child?" Melanie asked.

"It was when I confronted him, right after I found out that he was married. This was probably early November. He said that he would let Daphne and that..." Amanda paused and bit her bottom lip. "Now, I don't use this word, but this is what he said: ‘Daphne and that faggot can raise that kid.'"

"Did Dr. Anderson ever talk about his wife, Daphne?"

"Not very often, but he did tell me that he wasn't in love with her anymore. He said that she had really changed after they decided to have a baby, that she was obsessed with the idea of being a mom. It only got worse after she was finally pregnant. Daphne wanted Justin and Brian to be a big part of her baby's life, she wanted them to be the baby's Godfathers, and Curtis didn't like that. I told him that I'd heard I wasn't his first, that he'd messed around on Daphne before, and he said it was true."

Melanie reiterated, "Dr. Anderson admitted to you that he had other girlfriends while he was with Daphne?"

"Several," Amanda confirmed. "He said that I was the only one that he loved, that the rest were just to get off. He said Daphne never gave him enough sex. I asked him why he wanted me over her, and he said it was because I was smarter, more beautiful, and... hornier than Daphne. He promised to be faithful to me, but I knew he had other girls. I really don't know why I continued seeing him... I was such an idiot."

Melanie informed Amanda that the Google Hangouts instant messages she had with Curtis, which Amanda had gladly provided to Melanie, were now in evidence.

"Ms. Crawford, were those Hangouts messages in fact messages you exchanged with Curtis Anderson, the petitioner in this case?"

"Yes, they were," Amanda answered.

"You are aware that the username for the person you were chatting with in these messages is ‘Robert,' not Curtis, correct?"

Amanda nodded. "Curtis used a fake name, because he didn't want to use his real email account. He didn't want to be associated with me online; I wasn't even allowed to be friends with him on Facebook, because he didn't want anyone to see it. He didn't let me take any pictures of him, because he didn't want evidence of our relationship out there. I guess he felt like he was being sneaky, with a fake email, even though his wife did eventually catch him."

Melanie was permitted to give Amanda the court's copy of the Hangouts messages and she looked them over. She skimmed through several pages and confirmed that those were the messages she had exchanged with Curtis.

"These messages cut off roughly two weeks ago," Melanie observed. "What happened to have caused them to stop?"

"I broke up with Curtis," Amanda said. "The day after I had told you I'd testify against him in this case, I asked him to come to my apartment after work. I told him that I couldn't be with him anymore."

When asked why she had decided to end their relationship, Amanda said that she did not want to help Curtis raise Keegan, if he was successful in his lawsuit. She said that Curtis tried to bargain with her, claiming that he'd find a real nanny so they could still be together, but the young woman had stuck to her guns. She discovered that Curtis had deleted his "Robert Chase" email account a few days later, which must have been right after he found out that Amanda would be a witness for Justin's case.

"Did you hear from Dr. Anderson again after your break up?" Melanie asked.

"Yes, he called me last week and begged me not to help you and Justin. I told him it was too late, that I had already given you the copy of our instant messages. He said he knew, because his lawyer had shown them to him. His lawyer told him that the messages probably couldn't be used in court if I didn't show up."

"Did he offer you anything in exchange for not coming to court to testify?"

"He said he'd pay for the rest of my tuition and pay off my student loans with the money he got from Daphne's life insurance policy," Amanda said. "I owe several thousand so far, as you could imagine, and I'll probably be paying it off for many years after I get my medical degree."

"Since you're here today, I'm guessing that you turned him down?" Melanie surmised.

Amanda scoffed and looked over at Curtis, who hadn't dared to look at her from the moment she had walked in. "I told him never to call me again and hung up on him. I'm not for sale."

Melanie smiled at Amanda. "Thank you, Ms. Crawford. I have no further questions for my witness."

"Mr. Turner?" the judge said after the man had failed to speak up.

Turner sat silently for a few more seconds before he stood. "Ms. Crawford... is Dr. Anderson the first teacher you had a sexual relationship with?"

"Objection!" Melanie yelled. "Your honor, his question is highly inflammatory and irrelevant."

"Sustained," Judge Dennis said, agreeing with Melanie.

Turner sat back down. "No other questions."

Judge Dennis called a recess for lunch.


Family First by charming1

Melanie had received a very interesting call on her cell phone while the team was having lunch at a gourmet pizza shop a few blocks from the courthouse. She brought it to Judge Dennis’s attention once court resumed at one o’clock.

“Your honor, there has been a new development in our case. I got a phone call from Delia Johnson, telling me that she discovered some of her sister’s important documents after she had returned home from court earlier. Mrs. Johnson is out in the hallway with the documents, and I’d like to recall her to tell us what she found.”

The judge looked to his bailiff. “Please tell Mrs. Johnson to come back in.”

Delia walked back into the courtroom a few moments later carrying a large manila envelope. She sat down at the witness stand and placed the envelope on the bar in front of her.

“You’re still under oath, Mrs. Johnson,” the judge informed her.

Delia nodded. “Okay.”

“Welcome back, Mrs. Johnson,” Melanie said. “What do you have there with you?”

“After I left the courthouse earlier, I was really emotional, missing Daphne. I remembered saying how I’d taken some of her stuff from Curtis’s house when I went to confront him after her funeral. One of the main things I took was a large decorative storage box, kind of like a small trunk. I really hadn’t looked through it until today. I bought the box for Daphne when she was a teenager as a birthday present. I had one in my room similar to it and she wanted one. I knew she kept special things in hers, like pictures, concert tickets, and other mementos she had collected over the years. I also knew that the box has a false bottom, where you can put more private things underneath. That’s where I found this.”

Delia placed her hand on top the envelope.

“What’s in the envelope?” Melanie asked.

Delia opened it and removed some paperwork. “Daphne’s life insurance policy and her will. ”

“What are the dates on them?”

“The cover letter on the policy is dated June 29, 2015. The will is dated January 14, 2016, just two days before Daphne’s death.”

“I saw that the will is handwritten and signed by Daphne. Do you recognize the handwriting as belonging to your sister?”

“Yes,” Delia confirmed. “I also found her diary in the box. The last entry says that she wrote her new will because she was certain that Curtis was cheating on her. You can match the handwriting using her diary if needed.”

Turner spoke up. “Your honor, I haven’t been given an opportunity to view these documents, so I object to them being used in this trial.”

“I’ve known about them for less than an hour myself. I only had a few minutes to skim through them, but I request that they be admitted into evidence due to the importance of their contents,” Melanie said to the judge. “We can recess to allow opposing counsel to read them.”

“I will allow a fifteen minute recess in order for Mr. Turner to view these documents with his client,” Judge Dennis decided.

Turner and Curtis were permitted the use of a small conference room to look at the insurance policy and will. When they returned fifteen minutes later, both of them looked sick.

Once the judge was back on the bench, he asked Turner if he still objected to the documents being admitted as evidence.

“Yes… yes, I do,” Turner choked out. “For, uh... lack of foundation and irrelevance. Also, the will is not valid, since it doesn’t have any signed witnesses to it.”

“Actually, it is valid,” Al clarified. “An unwitnessed will is valid when it is handwritten by the owner of the will, which this one is. Perhaps Mr. Turner needs to brush up on his Wills and Estates law.”

Turner flashed Al a dirty look.

Judge Dennis asked for the will to be brought to him for inspection.

“Mr. Kurtzman is correct on the validity of a handwritten, unwitnessed will. This one looks perfectly valid to me. Why are these documents important to this case, Ms. Marcus?”

She walked over to Turner and pulled the insurance policy out of his hands, which the man nearly had a death grip on. “Daphne Anderson had a five million dollar life insurance policy that names Justin Cole Taylor as the trustee. The policy payout would double if Daphne were to die as a result of an accident; we know that she died as a result of a car accident, leaving the beneficiary of her policy with ten million dollars. The sole beneficiary of that policy was Daphne’s then-unborn child, which would now be Keegan Mercury Taylor. Her will includes very important sections about her child.”

“I will allow Mrs. Johnson to read the will out loud, and then I will determine if it and the life insurance policy should be admitted into evidence,” the judge said.

Melanie handed the will to Delia for her to read it.

“Last Will and Testament of Daphne Yvette Anderson. I, Daphne Yvette Anderson, now residing in the County of Allegheny, State of Pennsylvania, and being of sound mind and not acting under fraud, duress, or undue influence do hereby declare this to be my Last Will and Testament. I revoke any and all wills that were previously made by me.

“First, I declare that I am currently married to Curtis Logan Anderson and all references in this will to ‘my husband’ are to him. I further declare that any references in this will to ‘my children’ shall include any child of mine born from this day forward or legally adopted. I am currently pregnant with my first child.

“Second, Executor: I appoint Justin Cole Taylor as executor of this will. If Justin Cole Taylor shall for any reason fail to qualify or cease to act as executor, I appoint Brian Aiden Kinney as executor. I direct my executor to pay out of my estate all of my debts, hospital bills, funeral costs, taxes, and expenses of administering my estate after my death. I direct my executor to create a trust for any minor beneficiaries named in this will. I appoint my executor as trustee of said trust. Any assets bequeathed to a minor beneficiary in this will are to be held in the trust by the trustee until that minor reaches the age of eighteen.

“Third, Property Distribution: I hereby bequeath my property and estate as follows: To my husband, I bequeath our jointly owned property and one dollar.”

Melanie walked over to Curtis and placed a crisp one dollar bill in front of him, which had been paper clipped to the will.

“If my husband and I should die simultaneously, I bequeath our jointly owned property to my children, and said property shall be divided equally among them. I bequeath all monies in bank accounts, stocks, and insurance policies owned in my name to my children, which shall be divided equally. If my children do not survive me, I bequeath the previously mentioned property equally among my three siblings: Delia Yvonne Johnson, Duane Marcus Chanders, and Darius Michael Chanders. I bequeath all artwork gifted to me by Justin Cole Taylor to him, Brian Aiden Kinney, or their children. I bequeath all other personal property, including vehicles, jewelry, family heirlooms, etcetera owned solely by me to Delia Yvonne Johnson. She is then to distribute that property among our family members at her discretion.

“Fourth, Guardianship of My Children: In the event of my death, I direct Justin Cole Taylor to file for sole legal and physical custody of my minor children. If my husband and I should die simultaneously, I appoint Justin Cole Taylor as guardian of my minor children. If he is unable to act as guardian, I appoint Brian Aiden Kinney.”

Multiple sets of eyebrows raised after hearing that part.

“I have signed this will on the fourteenth day of January, 2016. Daphne Yvette Anderson.”

Everyone looked to the judge, who announced, “The insurance policy and will are accepted into evidence over Mr. Turner’s objection.”

Curtis smacked the table top with both hands before he stood up. “‘Not acting under fraud or duress,’ my ass! There is no way-”

“Dr. Anderson!” the judge yelled. “If you do not quiet down immediately, I will hold you in contempt.”

Curtis stood there with his mouth open for a few seconds before he sat down.

Melanie had no other questions for Delia, and Turner had no questions. Delia was permitted to sit in the courtroom with her parents, who had been in court each day.

Debbie was called to the stand as a character witness for Justin and Brian. She had on her “best” wig and a rather conservative black dress, out of respect for the court setting. Being Debbie, she had added a silk rainbow-printed scarf for flair.

“Mrs. Horvath, how you know Justin Taylor and Brian Kinney?” Melanie asked.

“I first met Brian when he was fourteen, after he became friends with my son. He was a handsome, charming young man, but troubled with a bad homelife. I tried to give him all the love that a kid deserves, since he didn’t get any from his own family. There have been many times where he has tested my patience over the years, but I’ve always looked at him like he was my own son and I love him dearly.

“I’ll never forget the day I met my Sunshine,” Debbie said, smiling at Justin before telling the judge, “that’s what I call him. I mean, just look at that kid’s smile. He walked into the diner where I worked, and I thought he was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. His smile lit up the room. It was no surprise that Brian had already gone after him. Sunshine came to live with me for a few months before he finished high school, after his homophobic father had thrown him out. Sunshine and Brian went back and forth for years, breaking up and getting back together, but I always knew that they’d work it out someday.”

Melanie smiled and nodded. “Can you tell us about Brian and Justin as a couple, today?”

“They have a very successful advertising agency together - Brian being the brilliant ad man and Sunshine being the talented artist. They have a beautiful life together, a gorgeous home, and apart from this lawsuit going on, I’ve never seen them happier. I am so proud of how much they’ve accomplished and how far they’ve come. You will find no two people who love each other more than they do. Their love is so pure, so perfect. They’re soulmates.”

“How are they with Keegan?”

Debbie placed her hand over her heart. “Oh, they love that baby so much. Keegan looks so much like his daddy, it’s amazing. You can see his mommy in there too, but there’s no doubt that he’s Justin’s son. I call him ‘Little Sunshine’ or ‘Little Sunny,’ like my granddaughter often does. Brian and Sunshine are wonderful parents to him. He lights up when one of them walks into the room. He is a very happy and healthy baby, and the boys have provided a wonderful home for him. Keegan is very, very lucky to have parents like them.”

“You babysit Keegan when Justin is at work, correct?” Melanie asked.

“Yes, I do, along with my husband Carl. Sunshine normally goes to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he brings the baby over to my house. I don’t live very far from Kinnetik, and Sunshine comes over for lunch when he’s not too busy.”

“Is it a hardship on you to take care of an infant?”

“Absolutely not. I’m retired now, so I have nothing but free time. I was the one who first volunteered to watch Keegan, so his daddy could go into the office a couple days a week. Carl is at home watching Keegan right now, and he adores him, too. I consider him to be my grandbaby, since I’ve always looked at Sunshine as one of my sons. I have several honorary sons, and I look at all of their children as my grandbabies. I’ve always been called ‘The Mother of Liberty Avenue.’”

Curtis sat there rolling his eyes as he listened to Debbie talk about Brian and Justin as if they were so wonderful and special.

When Turner was asked if he had any questions for the witness he said no, having heard enough from Curtis about the loudmouthed redhead to know better than to get her riled up.

Melanie had to tap Al back in, since their next witness would be Gus and she didn’t want Turner to have any reason to object to her questioning her own son.

“Could you tell the court who you are, young man?” Al asked the boy, although anyone with eyes could see that he was the seed of Brian.

“Well, that’s kind of complicated,” Gus said with a smile. “My legal name, at the moment, is Gus Peterson-Marcus. I am the biological child of Brian Kinney and Lindsay Peterson, and the legal child of Lindsay Peterson and Melanie Marcus. I consider myself the son of Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, and Melanie Marcus. I am the big brother of Jenny Rebecca Marcus and Keegan Mercury Taylor.”

“Do you think that Justin Taylor and Brian Kinney are good parents?”

Gus looked over at the two men and smiled. “They’re awesome parents.”

“I’m sorry Mr. Kurtzman,” Judge Dennis interrupted, holding up a piece of paper. “Gus wrote me a letter last month, and I would like him to read it for us.”

Gus visibly blushed before he took the letter from the judge and began to read.

“Dear Judge Dennis, I hope that you will allow the man whom I consider to be to be my second father, Justin Taylor, to maintain full and permanent custody of his son and my brother, Keegan Mercury Taylor. Justin and my biological father Brian Kinney have always been wonderful fathers to me. I have been fortunate enough to live with them and my adopted mother Melanie Marcus for the past month, and I hope it will become a permanent arrangement very soon.

“Anytime that I’ve needed help with something, someone to talk to, or just someone to be there, I knew that I could always count on my two fathers, despite the fact that I have lived over three hundred miles away from them for most of my life. Modern technology allowed us to be able to easily communicate every day. They have never told me that they were too busy or had something more important to do. Both of them have always put my needs ahead of theirs and made me a priority in their lives. If I ever do something wrong, their punishments are always fair and appropriate; there are never physical punishments. They always assure me that they will be there for me no matter what, and will always love me unconditionally.

“Please allow Justin Taylor and Brian Kinney to raise my little brother together so that he will always know love and acceptance, as I have from these two wonderful men. There are no better parents in this world than them, and I hope that you will make Keegan the luckiest kid alive by allowing them to raise him. Sincerely, Gus Peterson-Marcus (hopefully soon to be Gus Kinney).”

Gus looked up from his letter and found that Melanie and Justin both had tears streaming down their faces. Debbie, who had stayed after her testimony, was also crying buckets all over Brian’s suit jacket. Brian was just barely maintaining his composure, having to tense up his muscles and breathe slowly to keep the tears at bay. The Chanders family had also joined in with the happy tears.

“Well…” Al said before chuckling. “I guess my job is done. Thank you, Gus.”

Turner had planned to ask Gus a few questions, but he didn’t dare after hearing all of that and seeing the family’s reaction. He wanted to get home to his own children that night in one piece.

“No questions.”

After Gus left the witness stand, he received crushing hugs and was drowned in tears and kisses from his parents and grandmother. He took a seat next to his father, who put his arm across his shoulders.

“I love you, Sonny Boy,” Brian whispered in Gus’s ear.

“Love you too, Pop,” Gus replied.

I Will Always Love You by charming1

Melanie dried her tears and blew her nose before telling the judge that her final witness would be her client, Justin Taylor.

"Justin, could you please tell the court about your relationship with Daphne Anderson?"

The blonde had barely stopped crying after Gus's testimony, and the tears started anew as he recalled his best friend. "Well, she'll always be Daphne Chanders to me, because I've known her since I was five. I loved Daphne as much as anyone could ever love someone who you're not romantically involved with or related to by blood. She wasn't just my best friend, she was my family. Her family was like my family and vice versa; that's why they're sitting on my side of the courtroom.

"We talked to each other every single day, and I have felt so lost since she's been gone. There have been so many times that I've wanted to pick up the phone and call her, to tell her how much I love her, and miss her, and how important she was to me, but I can't. I am so heartbroken that Keegan will never know his mother, because she was an amazing lady. I don't know if I could have gotten through these past few months without Keegan in my life. He helped heal my heart, but it will never be completely whole again."

Melanie bit her lip and nodded before she started crying again, too. "Justin, will you tell the judge why he should allow you to maintain custody of Keegan?"

Justin looked at Judge Dennis and sniffled. "Your honor, I am begging you to let me keep Keegan. If I lose him, it will be like losing Daphne all over again... I don't think I could live through that heartache a second time. I love my son so much, more than anything in this world. Don't get me wrong, I love my fiance a whole hell of a lot, but I love Keegan just a little bit more."

He paused and mouthed "Sorry" to Brian, who smiled and nodded in understanding. The older man could no longer stop the tears from flowing for the love that he felt for his Sunshine and their beautiful son. He was also thinking of Daphne and how special she had been to him.

"By raising Keegan, I will be honoring not only the promise I made to Daphne on the day she died, but I will also be honoring her by making sure her son is raised to be the best person he could possibly be. I want her to have been proud of the man he becomes. I haven't had a relationship with my own father for over fifteen years, because he couldn't accept the person that I am, the proud gay man that I am."

Justin paused to look over at Curtis, remembering all of the ugly things he had said about gay people and how he'd make sure he would never have a gay son. Curtis was staring down at the table.

"Keegan will never, ever go through that if Brian and I were to raise him, no matter if he's gay, straight, bisexual, whatever. I will be very proud to give Keegan an excellent second father in Brian, who loves him like his own son and will be a wonderful role model to him. He will also have a big brother and sister who love him, too, and I'm sure Melanie will continue to be a big part of his life. She's a wonderful mother to Gus and JR, and I'm going to teach Keegan to call her ‘Ima' like they do."

Melanie literally could no longer talk, she was crying so hard. She waved to the judge to indicate she was done and took her seat next to Al, who patted her shoulder.

Turner was also looking down at the table, as if he regretted the day he was born and taking Curtis's case. "No questions."

Al offered to make the team's closing statement, but Melanie insisted she do it after Judge Dennis had allowed a ten minute recess.

"Your honor, I believe we have given you every reason to rule in favor of Justin Taylor," Melanie said. "Not only have we established that no legally binding contract existed between him and Curtis Anderson, but it is abundantly clear now that Keegan's late mother also wanted her son to be raised by Mr. Taylor and his fiance. I also believe that it is abundantly clear that Curtis Anderson is not father material to this child, due to his affair with Amanda Crawford and who knows how many other women during his wife's pregnancy, his statements to Ms. Crawford regarding plans he had to divorce his wife after her son was born and not be involved in her son's life, the lack of giving any compelling reason in this courtroom as to why he wishes to raise this child, and his disgusting homophobic statements.

"If you do rule in our favor, know that I have a petition for Brian Kinney to adopt Keegan ready for your signature. You have the sole power, your honor, to make the Taylor/Kinney family whole and ensure that Keegan Mercury Taylor stays where he belongs, with his biological father and future adoptive father who love him and will give him the life that he deserves. Thank you."

Turner and Curtis whispered to each other for several seconds, with Turner clearly saying "No... Curtis, no."

Turner stood to give his closing statement, but Curtis stopped him.

"Your honor, I would like to go back on the stand for a rebuttal," he announced.

Turner shook his head. "I will not call my client back to the stand, because he will only be hurting our case further. I have no idea what he could have to say at this point."

"If you let me go up there, I will tell you," Curtis said to his attorney through gritted teeth.

"Gentleman, please," the judge said, getting annoyed by their bickering. "Mr. Turner, do you wish to call any rebuttal witnesses before you make your closing?"

"No, your honor," Turner said confidently.

"Then I want a new attorney and a new trial, due to inadequate representation," Curtis demanded as he also stood. "My attorney is clearly not doing what I am paying him to do, which is represent me to the best of his abilities."

"Excuse me?" Turner said, putting his hands on his hips. "I have-"

"Enough!" Judge Dennis yelled. "Dr. Anderson, because you have not put in a written request to have your attorney dismissed, I deny your request for a new attorney. We are literally minutes away from wrapping up this case, so I am also denying your request for a mistrial. Quite frankly, Dr. Anderson, you're lucky that I'm not charging you with felony perjury after you lied under oath yesterday about your relationship with Ms. Crawford."

Curtis took a slow breath. "I was the one who brought this case to this court, so I believe it's only fair to allow me to make a statement before its conclusion, if I so wish. I recall you saying that you wanted to leave no stone unturned before making your decision."

The judge looked at his watch, seeing that it was getting rather late. He had a divorce trial scheduled the following day and several felony hearings scheduled on Friday, so this trial needed to end that day.

"Take a seat next to your attorney and make it quick. I don't want you back on my witness stand."

Curtis and Turner both sat, and Curtis thought about what he wanted to say for a few moments.

"Thank you, your honor. I meant no disrespect to you or this court when I... lied about my inappropriate relationship with Amanda. Not only did I cheat on Daphne with Amanda, but I admit that those instant messages from yesterday really were between me and her. I'm not the first man who has cheated on his wife and later lied about it. You can probably imagine that I feel very ashamed of myself for what I did to Daphne. I will have to live the rest of my life knowing that I may have been the cause of her death, indirectly. We all shouldn't even be here today; Daphne and I should be at home with our son, raising him together as we originally intended. But she's gone and there's nothing we can do about that.

"Ms. Marcus said that I didn't give a compelling reason for why I should be given custody. I'll give you one right now. I knew that the life insurance policy existed, because Daphne and I each started policies after we got married. Because we each had very high earning potentials, we decided to make them worth five million dollars, so we would be taken care of if one of us died. Originally, we made each other the trustee and sole beneficiary with a clause saying that any future children we had would become a second beneficiary. Daphne didn't tell me that she had changed her trustee to Justin and removed me as the beneficiary, and I didn't know that she had written a new will. I know why she removed me as beneficiary: that was around the time she had started to suspect that I was cheating, so she decided to financially cut me out as punishment. She was eight months pregnant and not in her right mind when she wrote that will, and we had been fighting a lot. I hope you take that under consideration while you make your verdict.

"Your honor, I need you to give me custody of Keegan because I need that money from the life insurance policy. I am several hundred thousand dollars in debt, left over from my student loans and credit card bills I accrued while I was in medical school and the house that Daphne and I bought. Things are much tighter now that I no longer have Daphne's income to help pay the bills. Luckily her student loans went away after she died. If I'm unable to use that insurance payout, I'll have to put my house on the market and move into an apartment, so I can start to pay down my debts.

"Also, no matter what I said in those instant messages to Amanda, I really did love Daphne. Telling Amanda that I didn't want to be a father was mostly for show, to try to convince her to stay with me after she found out I was married. I never really intended on leaving my wife. Yeah, Daphne and I had our problems, but..."

Curtis sat there for a few more seconds before muttering "Thank you."

The people on the defense's side of the room were all looking at Curtis in shock. Justin was shaking in anger, and Brian had reached forward to grip his fiance's shoulders in comfort.

Turner quietly asked Curtis if he wanted him to make his closing statement, and Curtis gestured for him to go ahead.

The attorney didn't bother to stand. "First of all, your honor, I ask that you disregard everything that my client just said, because I do not condone him making any statements unless it's on the witness stand and he is being questioned by either myself or opposing counsel.

"I want to finish our case by going back to my original argument, which is that Justin Taylor made an oral contract to give up his parental rights to the child he conceived with Daphne Anderson in order for Curtis Anderson to adopt him. There was no exception or clause to this agreement that included what would happen in the event that Mrs. Anderson passed away before Mr. Taylor signed over his rights, so therefore, I ask that this court honor the specific agreement that was originally made. Please do not let any sympathy or personal biases you may have for Mr. Taylor influence your decision. Thank you."

The judge gratefully exhaled. "Okay, both sides have rested and have given their closing statements. I will take the next few days to review the testimony and evidence from this case, as well as the laws pertaining to the issues at hand. I would like to see everyone back here on Monday morning at nine AM, where I will render my verdict."

Once everyone had gone outside to the parking lot, Justin couldn't help but run over to Curtis, who had parked his car beside Turner's on the opposite side of the lot.

"This has all been about money, you sorry sack of shit?" Justin yelled, crying angry tears. "That's all Daphne's son is to you, a payday?"

Brian grabbed Justin around his shoulders from behind, fearing that it may turn into a fistfight.

"He's not worth it. Think about Keegan," he said into Justin's ear.

"Hey, ten million dollars might be a drop in the bucket for rich fucks like you, but not for lowly people like me!" Curtis replied.

Debbie had caught up to them. "Yeah, you are lowly, you piece of shit! Putting this family through hell, treating that baby like a pawn! How can you live with yourself?"

"It's up to the court now," Turner said.

The other family members separated the opposing sides, letting Curtis and Turner get into their cars and leave.

"I hope you both burn in Hell!" Debbie screamed at the retreating vehicles.

Justin turned around and buried his face in Brian's chest.

"I can't lose him, Brian," he sobbed.

"We've done all we can," he said to his blond, holding him tight. "All we can do now is hope that everything will be okay."


The morning after the trial had finished, Melanie and Brian went to the hospital to speak with Lindsay's psychiatrist about her condition. The mandatory seventy-two hour hold would be up that afternoon, and they wanted to see what he recommended for long-term treatment.

When they got to the psychiatric ward, Dr. Fenton was waiting in his office to speak to them. He already knew who they were, having heard a lot about them from Lindsay.

"Ms. Marcus, Mr. Kinney, I'm glad that you both came."

He turned to Brian. "Lindsay is still very upset about things she perceives to be going on in her life. She sees a Justin Taylor, who I understand is your fiance, as a threat to her relationship with you. She believes that the two of you are meant to be together, to raise your son as a couple, and that Justin is keeping you apart."

Brian rolled his eyes. "I am well aware of her delusions. She knows that she'll never be with me."

Dr. Fenton then spoke directly to Melanie. "I seriously recommend that you, as her wife, have her committed to inpatient treatment for at least three months. Due to statements that she has made over the last three days, I am concerned that without long-term treatment, she could pose a very real danger to Mr. Taylor and possibly to herself. My initial diagnosis would be that Lindsay is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder."

"What the fuck is that?" Brian asked, ever the eloquent gentleman.

The doctor was slightly taken aback by Brian's language, but began to explain. "It's a mental illness where people have unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships. The causes of it aren't completely understood. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder, but BPD is distinguishable by the mood changes lasting for shorter periods of time. Lindsay has probably been suffering from this condition for many years."

Melanie nodded. "I've read about it online once or twice in the past, when I've tried to figure out what may be wrong with her. If that's what she has, it would explain a lot."

"Lindsay exhibits many of the signs," the doctor said. "Extreme reactions to abandonment, short periods of intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors such as excessive spending, and unstable personal relationships marked with extreme highs and lows. To put it into perspective, right now Lindsay sees Mr. Taylor as the devil and Mr. Kinney as her angel."

"What does she say about me?" Melanie asked.

"She acknowledges that you took her daughter away from her, but she seems to be fixated on getting her son back and being with Mr. Kinney, having a family with the two of them. You are merely a speed bump while Mr. Taylor is a roadblock, if you will."

"Well, can you fix her?" Brian asked. "Apparently she isn't safe to be around right now, but will she ever be? There are three children in our family, and one of them is my and Justin's young son."

"With medication and therapy, we can decrease her symptoms and stabilize her so that she will not be a danger to anyone. However, there is no cure for it."

"Have you discussed long-term treatment with Lindsay?" Melanie questioned.

"Yes, I talked about it with her during her evening session yesterday. She was not very receptive to the idea. She doesn't believe that anything is wrong with her and that all of her problems are caused by other people, namely Mr. Taylor. As her wife, you can sign her in for long-term care. We'll have to get a court order to keep her, but that shouldn't be a problem seeing as how she ended up here in the first place."

"She needs help, whether she likes it or not," Brian said. "I'll pay for everything, for as long as it takes for her to get better."

"Doctor, can we at least see her and try to explain why she should stay?" Melanie asked, not wanting the woman she has been with for all these years to feel totally abandoned.

"Ms. Marcus, I really recommend that you don't see her. She is very unstable right now, and because you have the power to keep her here, she may lash out at you. Mr. Kinney, it might be a better idea for you to speak with her, to explain to her why she needs to stay here. Knowing that you want her to get help and that you're worried about her might positively influence her."

"Alright, I'll go see her," Brian said. "Mel, is there anything you want me to tell her from you?"

"Just try to make her understand that we are doing this for her own good; not to punish her."

"I will, don't worry," Brian told her, squeezing her shoulder.

Melanie and Dr. Fenton stayed in his office and went over the commitment papers while an orderly showed Brian to Lindsay's room. He was pleased to see that the room looked more like a cozy hotel room rather than a cold, sterile hospital room.

Brian knocked on the open door softly, seeing Lindsay staring out the window and not wanting to startle her. She turned at the sound.

"Brian! I knew you'd come," she said, immediately bursting into tears and running towards him to give him a hug.

He stopped her by taking her shoulders in his hands. "Lindsay, Melanie and I have spoken with Dr. Fenton, and he recommended that you stay here for at least three months. We agree with him."

Lindsay shook her head. "No... Brian, I don't belong here. You have to get me out of here. It's been three days. If you guys are trying to teach me some kind of lesson, it worked. I'm sorry for what I said about you being a bad father in court; I'm sure Mel and Justin told you all about it. That attorney said that I needed to badmouth you, along with Justin. You're a great father, Brian... I was just angry about Gus not wanting to live with me anymore. Let's just go and get our son, and everything will be okay."

"Lindsay, you need to get some professional help, and this is the best place for you to be," Brian explained slowly, as if he were talking to a young child.

She reached up and placed her hands on top of Brian's forearms. "What I need is to be with you and our Gus. You can take care of me. I'll be fine if I'm with you. By the way, I forgive you for recording our conversation in the park that day. I'm sure Mel or Justin told you to do it."

The truth was that Brian had decided to do that on his own, without discussing it with Melanie or Justin first.

"Mel is signing the papers so they can keep you here and see that you get better," Brian said, pulling away from her. "Gus needs his mom to be healthy, and right now you're not healthy, Lindz."  

Lindsay's face crumbled. "Please Brian, just take me back to the loft with you. I'll be a wonderful wife to you and a wonderful mother to Gus, I promise. You can buy us a nice little house in the city, and I'll decorate it and keep it clean. I'll cook for us every night, whatever you and Gus want. I can be all you need me to be. You don't need him."

"Speaking of, you nearly attacked my fiance in court the other day, remember?"

She took a step back and glared at him. "Justin put you up to all of this, didn't he? He just doesn't want us to be together. This is all his fault, and he got Melanie to agree with him so that she would commit me. I told her weeks ago that I wouldn't contest the divorce... why is she trying to stand in our way? Why is she taking his side?"

Brian sighed, tired of sounding like a broken record. "Lindsay, Justin and I are getting married in a few months. You and I will never be together romantically. We will always have Gus, and we will always be friends, but that's all. I'm gay, remember?"

She continued as if she hadn't heard him. "He just wants you all for himself. It's not fair!"

"Lindsay, stop it!" Brian ordered. "Justin is not to blame for this. You have a serious condition, and once you get the help you need, you'll see things more clearly. Mel and I are doing this for your own good, and you'll realize it eventually."

"Fine, leave me here alone in the fucking looney bin!" she screamed, shoving Brian away. "Go home to your piece of blond boy ass, see if I give a shit, you selfish asshole! Soon he will find another sugar daddy and leave you all alone, and with that Goddamned bastard kid of his, too. Then you'll come crawling to me, begging for my help. You know I'm right, just you wait. Oh, and you can tell that cunt wife of mine that when I do get out, she will be sorry that she did this to me!"

Lindsay threw herself on the bed and cried into her pillow. Brian shook his head and silently left the room, hoping that the next time he saw her, she would be more stable.


End Notes:

You Are the Sunshine of My Life by charming1

Michael, as usual, was low on cash and headed to his mother’s that Sunday evening, hoping that she had made something good for dinner. He walked into his childhood home and found Debbie in the kitchen.

She turned around when she heard the front door open. Looking at her son, she remarked, “Oh, it’s you. What do you want?”

Michael scowled at his mother for giving him such a cold welcome. “I wanted to see what you were making for dinner.”

“Carl’s eating dinner with some friends before bowling tonight, so I’m just making myself a sandwich. I really don’t feel like having you for company right now.”

“Maaaaa, what did I do?” Michael whined.

“What did you do… what did you do?” Debbie yelled, flapping her arms. “I’ll tell you what you did, you vindictive little shit, since apparently you’re too dimwitted to remember. Melanie told me everything. You got up on that witness stand and tried your damnedest to cause Sunshine to lose custody of my grandson because of your petty jealousy. We’ll know tomorrow what the judge decides, and if it’s not in Sunshine’s favor, I will never forgive you for taking part in it. Hell, even if he wins, I still won’t forgive you. You have been out of their lives for the last eight years because of what you tried to do to them, but you still got up on that stand and lied about Sunshine and Brian. I am so ashamed of the man you have become, and I am so grateful that Brian wants to adopt JR and that Sunshine will be her step-father after they’re married. At least they’ll be good fathers that love her and will raise her right, along with Mel.”

Michael realized what his mother was saying about JR and he was furious. “What the fuck are you talking about? Brian is not going to adopt my daughter, and that fucking blond bastard will not be raising her. I won’t let them.”  

“You don’t have any say in the matter, Michael. You gave up your parental rights, remember? You haven’t even seen that sweet little girl since she was three years old; again, because of your petty jealousy. Mel is going to petition for full custody of both of the kids when she files for divorce from Lindsay, and Brian is going to have his rights to Gus reinstated and adopt JR if she’s successful. Brian has helped to financially support JR since she was born, sending money to Mel when they needed it. He even opened a college fund for her. You never contributed a cent for JR, not even before you gave up your rights. Brian has always been there for that little girl and it is high time he was recognized for his efforts. JR absolutely adores her ‘Uncle Sunny’, by the way, and considers Keegan her baby brother.”

Michael knew there was nothing he could do about any of this. He really didn’t want to hear his mother sing the praises of Brian and that fucking blond any longer, so he left.


Everyone gathered in the courtroom on Monday morning and waited for Judge Dennis to enter. The whole family had showed up except for Blake and JR, who were babysitting Keegan and Phoenix. Melanie had allowed Gus to come to court to hear the verdict.

Justin, Brian, Melanie, and Al were sitting at their table while the rest of the family was sitting behind them. Just as before, Curtis and Turner were the only ones on the other side of the courtroom.

Justin was very nervous, even after everything that had been said in his favor during the trial. He didn’t know what he would do if the judge awarded custody to Curtis, how he could possibly give up his precious son that he loved so much. That was the main reason Brian was sitting at the table with him and holding his hand for comfort. He knew he would fall to pieces if the verdict did not go his way, and he would need Brian to help him get through it.

When Judge Dennis entered the courtroom, he looked at Curtis and Turner with a blank expression. He didn’t even glance at Justin and Brian at all. When Justin noticed this, he squeezed Brian’s hand and barely held back his tears, terrified that it meant he was going to lose his son.

Brian leaned over and rubbed his nose on Justin’s cheek. “We’re going to be okay, Sunshine,” he whispered.

When the judge started to speak, Justin’s heart was pounding so hard he could barely hear what the man was saying.

“After carefully reviewing the evidence from both sides and reading the detailed report from Charlotte Sanders, the social worker assigned to this case, it is my decision to deny Dr. Anderson’s petition for legal and physical custody of Keegan Mercury Taylor. The child will therefore remain in the custody of his biological father Justin Taylor.”

When this was announced, Justin’s side of the courtroom erupted in cheers. Justin sat there with tears pouring down his cheeks.

Brian kissed his Sunshine and held him tight, saying into his ear, “It’s over… he’s ours forever.”

After waiting a few more seconds for the happiness to die down, the judge asked for quiet.  

“Additionally, in light of the fact that Mr. Kinney expressed his desire to adopt Keegan, I have taken the liberty of expediting the adoption. Mr. Kinney, is it still your desire to adopt this child?”

“Absolutely, yes,” Brian answered, crying his own happy tears.

“Ms. Marcus, do you have the petition ready to be signed and filed?” the judge asked.

“Yes, I do,” Melanie happily said, reaching into her briefcase on the floor beside her. “We are also petitioning that Keegan’s last name be changed to Kinney. Justin plans to take Brian’s name after they’re married.”

“Well then, Mr. Kinney, please approach the bench with the petitions.”

Brian took the paperwork from Melanie and walked up to the judge, a big smile on his handsome face. Once Brian had signed everything, the judge signed and stamped the orders.

Judge Dennis then announced, “Brian Kinney is now the legal father, along with Mr. Taylor, and the child’s legal name will now be Keegan Mercury Kinney. Are there any objections?”

Hearing none, the judge banged the gavel, ending the trial. Brian shook hands with the judge, thanking him.

There was more cheering and tears from their side of the courtroom.

Melanie broke away from Justin’s hug when she saw that Turner and Curtis were leaving. She followed them into the hall and called out to Turner to get his attention.

Curtis also turned when he heard Melanie’s voice. “Hey… uh, congratulate Justin for me, will you? Keegan does belong with him and Brian; it’s what Daph wanted. I won’t ever bother them again.”

Melanie addressed Curtis one final time. “I just want you to know, I’m going to send a transcript of all of your testimony to the head of the hospital. In case you were not aware, Doctor, it is highly frowned upon for a senior staff member to engage in relations with one of his students. In fact, it can constitute sexual harassment.”

Melanie took great satisfaction in the look the suddenly very pale doctor gave her.

Turner and Melanie both watched as Curtis walked down the hallway to the elevator, and Melanie addressed Turner when Curtis was out of earshot.

“God, I could just slug that piece of shit right in his perfect teeth…” Melanie muttered. “Why did you take on this suit, Charles? You had to have known from the beginning that it was a loser. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a shoddy, frivolous case with such flimsy testimony from plaintiff’s witnesses. You and that asshole client of yours made Justin’s life hell for the past three months over what, money? Give me a fucking break.”

Turner shrugged. “It was a lot of money. I get paid regardless of the outcome. I wouldn’t have gotten any of the insurance payout, but whatever. Curtis insisted every step of the way that we proceed, no matter how many times I told him that our case was shit. I can only work with the evidence and witnesses I’m given. Sorry about your wife’s flip-out, by the way.”

Melanie scoffed. “Oh, I’m sure you’re very sorry. That wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t called her as a witness.”

“Hell, you ought to be thanking me. Maybe this will make it easier to get your kids away from the crazy bitch,” Turner pointed out.

“You are scum,” Melanie said to the sneering attorney, although he wasn’t wrong about the part about Lindsay. “You could have given Curtis his money back and walked away at any time. Lawyers like you are why people don’t like lawyers.”

Turner smiled. “Maybe we’ll get to square off again someday, counselor. Hopefully I won’t have to call your wife and baby daddy as witnesses.”

Melanie curled her lip at him before turning to go back into the courtroom to rejoin her happy family.

All Justin and Brian wanted to do was hold Keegan and tell him that his fathers loved him, but they made sure to thank everyone individually for their love and support during the trial.

While they were preparing to leave, the court clerk came back into the courtroom and approached Melanie.

“Judge Dennis sent me to ask you, Mr. Kurtzman, Mr. Kinney, and Mr. Taylor to please come into his chambers so that he can discuss how he came to his decision.”

Brian, Justin, Melanie, and Al all looked at each other and shrugged before following the lady into the judge’s office. They found the judge sitting behind his desk wearing a shirt and tie.

“I just wanted to commend all of you on your behavior during these proceedings and to explain my reasons for not dismissing this case after you moved to dismiss,” Judge Dennis said. “I was very curious as to why Dr. Anderson seemed so determined to get custody of Keegan. Not once during Mr. Turner’s direct examination of him did he mention having any kind of feelings for the child, so I suspected there had to be another reason. I was very relieved when Mrs. Johnson found those papers and brought about the real reason.”

He then directly addressed Justin and Brian. “I also wanted him to hear Mrs. Horvath and your son Gus extoll your virtues, just to rub it in that you two would be exemplary parents to Keegan. I also wanted all of you to hear what Gus had said about you. I raised five children, including three boys, and I know that they can be very closed-mouthed about their feelings during their teenage years, especially towards their parents. I don’t mind telling you that I cried when I read his letter, because it was so beautiful and heartfelt.”

Justin nodded, feeling new tears threatening to fall. “It meant a lot to us to hear it.”

“I know that you must want to get to Keegan now, so I apologize for keeping you,” Judge Dennis said. “I felt that I really needed to explain why I did things this way, before you left. I have every confidence that you two are going to have a wonderful marriage and raise a great son together. I have no doubt that I made the correct decision today.”

Brian and Justin looked at each other, having another one of their silent conversations.

Brian then turned to the judge and asked, “Sir, would you be available to marry us on September fifteenth? We’re having the ceremony and reception at our home, which is about an hour outside of town.”

The judge smiled. “I would be honored to officiate your wedding. I’ll make sure that my calendar is clear on that date. You know, Mrs. Horvath was right when she described you two as soulmates... you can just look at each other and have conversations without a sound. It really is amazing to watch. Thank you for asking me.”  

Justin added, “We’d love for you to bring your wife and stay for the reception, too.”

“I think we will, thank you again. I told her about the two of you, and she said you sound like a lovely couple. She’s a sucker for love stories and you two have quite a special one. You can send our invitation to my office here, if you’d like.”

Everyone shook the judge’s hand before saying goodbye.

Back out in the courtroom, Justin assured Daphne’s family that they were always welcome to visit Keegan anytime they wished, since he wanted Keegan to know his mother’s family.

“Try and stop us,” Delia said before giving Justin a hug.


Blake had Keegan, JR, and Phoenix in his living room with Beauty and the Beast, JR’s current favorite movie, playing on the TV when his cell phone started vibrating. He saw that Ted was calling, so he went into the bathroom and closed the door before he answered it. If it wasn’t a happy phone call, Blake did not want JR seeing his reaction.

“He’s our nephew, forever!” Ted yelled excitedly into the phone. “And the judge immediately granted Brian’s adoption for him, too.”

Blake smiled, relieved. “That’s wonderful. I’m not going to say anything to JR. I’ll let them tell her the good news when they get here.”

JR had noticed Blake’s not-so-stealth exit and pounced on him as soon as he returned to the living room.

“Any news yet, Uncle Blake?” she asked, hoping that this ordeal was finally over for her family.

“Nothing yet Sweetie, but we should be hearing something soon. Keep Pheonix out of trouble, okay? I’m going to change Keegan.”

Blake took Keegan into Phoenix’s bedroom and put him in one of his son’s old t-shirts that he had outgrown. He had to cover it up with a zippered jacket until Brian and Justin got there.

The shirt said “I LOVE MY TWO DADS” inside a rainbow-patterned heart. It had originally been a gift to Phoenix from Emmett and Drew.

When the cars started to pull up in front of the house, the front door flew open and JR went running out.

“What happened?” the young brunette asked. “Why didn’t you call?”

When she saw that Justin had tears in his eyes, she started crying.

“Papa, no!” JR screamed before throwing herself into his arms. “No, they can’t take Little Sunny away from us!”

Justin cupped her chin and looked into her eyes. “It’s okay, Beautiful. Keegan’s ours forever - mine and your Uncle Pop’s. No one can take him away from us.”

“Yay!” she screamed, wriggling out of Justin’s embrace before grabbing his hand and dragging him into the house.

Blake had removed the jacket covering the shirt and held Keegan out for everyone to see.

Justin looked at the shirt and the tears started again. Taking his son in his arms, he covered his curly head in tears and kisses.

Brian came up behind Justin and wrapped his arms around both of them. “Hey, do you mind not covering my son with your snot?”

Hearing Brian’s comment, Justin looked up at his fiance and smiled his Sunshine Smile. He then looked at their son and said to him, “I guess your Pop would like to hold you, too. Both of your daddies love you so much.”

JR suddenly realized what they were saying.

“Uncle Pop, you adopted him? That’s so cool.” She then quietly added, “I wish that you were my Pop, too.”

Brian and Justin looked at each other, knowing they would discuss this with her at a later time.

Neither Justin nor Brian was willing to be away from their son when they got home that evening. They kept taking turns just holding the baby and telling him how much they loved him. It was as if they feared he would disappear if he was out of their sight for even a moment. When it was Keegan’s bedtime, they lay on their bed with their son between them, speaking quietly so the baby could sleep.

Sweet Child O’ Mine by charming1

Melanie and the kids offered to watch Keegan the following evening so the dads could go out and celebrate winning their case. After a nice family dinner made by Melanie and Gus, Brian and Justin dressed in their hottest club clothes and headed to Babylon.

Brian slowly drove his Audi down the street, each of them looking out the windows at their old stomping grounds. They were happy to see that not much had changed.

He parked next to the back entrance of the club and they went inside. The bartender saw them and handed each man a shot of Beam and a beer. Justin leaned on Brian while they drank their beers.

They looked around at the sea of dancers. There were many new faces, and they both nodded at some of the ones that they recognized. A few guys came over to congratulate them on the outcome of their custody case. The news had spread like wildfire throughout Liberty Avenue after the verdict, thanks to Debbie. Although retired from the diner, she was still the queen of the neighborhood gossip, mostly thanks to social media. She had more Facebook friends and Twitter followers than both Brian and Justin combined.

A song came on that was a favorite of Justin’s and he dragged Brian onto the dance floor. They couple danced and ground together, refusing anyone who tried to cut in or join them. After a few more songs, Justin whispered to Brian that he wanted to go to the backroom.

Brian looked at the blue lust-blown eyes and knew exactly what his lover needed. He would have been happy to receive a backroom blow job, but he instead took his fiance’s hand and led him upstairs to his office. Brian fiddled with his keys to find the one for the door while Justin rubbed himself on Brian’s leg like a cat in heat.

Brian finally got the door unlocked and dragged Justin inside, locking the door behind them. He pressed the blond against the door and attacked his plump lips.

Justin stopped a minute later and looked at the older man. “Why didn’t we just go to the backroom? Are you shy all of a sudden? You used to love fucking me in public.”

Brian shook his head before asking, “Do you have any condoms with you?”

“Of course not, why would I…” Justin paused. “Oh, yeah.”

Brian had a very strict policy of no barebacking in the club, no exceptions.

“I’m sure someone downstairs could loan us one,” Justin suggested.

Brian raised an eyebrow. “Do you actually want me to fuck you with a condom on?”

Justin crinkled his nose and shook his head no.

“Neither do I, so I guess we’re stuck doing it up here, if you still want it.”

In response, Justin started tearing his clothes off to reveal his hard and leaking cock. Brian answered Justin’s speedy strip show with a slow striptease of his own. As soon as Brian released his hard on, Justin was on his knees licking at the glistening purple head of his lover’s cock. Brian threw back his head and groaned at the sensation.

“Ahh... Sunshine… ahhh, I want to be inside you… please.”

Justin responded by grabbing the small bottle of lube from the pocket of his discarded pants and squeezing some onto his fingers. Leaning over the desk, he made a show of opening himself up for his partner.

Brian moaned, grabbing Justin’s hips and aiming straight for his favorite hole, sliding in slowly because he hadn’t given Justin much time to stretch. Justin, being very impatient, reached back, grabbed Brian’s ass and pulled him forward, impaling himself on the wet, hard cock that he needed.

Holding the blond’s hips, Brian grunted, “If you want me to last for more than two strokes, give me a second. Your ass is so hot and so tight… and so perfect.”

Justin stilled, having been on the other side enough times to know what Brian was feeling.

When Brian had calmed down enough, he started to slowly slide in and out of the hot ass in front of him. Justin moaned and pushed back, keeping the pace slow and steady to build the feelings. Finally after pausing several times, they both knew that this was it and sped up, slamming together and moaning loudly.

Brian reached around and squeezed the blond’s cock. Justin screamed and shot all over the desk, clamping down on his lover’s cock and receiving a huge load of hot cum in return. Brian lay over Justin’s back until they both calmed down enough to separate.

They cleaned up most of the mess, got dressed, and slipped out the back door. They decided to go to the loft, where they spent the rest of the evening making love and enjoying their rare childless night together.


Brian came home early from work the next day and found Justin sulking in the kitchen.

“What’s up Sunshine... although you don’t look very ‘Sunshiney’ right now,” he said before giving the blond a kiss.

“Well, the three grandmothers are here, because I was the idiot that invited all of them to come over at the same time. To hear our mothers tell it, Daphne and I were the spawn of the devil. Our child however is somehow the most angelic baby in the world.”

“What… what do you mean?” Brian asked, trying not to laugh.

Justin pushed a small serving tray into Brian’s hands. “Help me bring these drinks to them and you’ll see.”

When they took the drinks into the living room, the women were still discussing their children. The first thing Brian heard was Jennifer’s voice.

“Keegan is such a joy,” she said as she held her grandson in her lap. “After having Justin, it still amazes me that I even wanted another child. Between the colic, the allergies, the ear infections, the teething, and the constant crankiness, I hardly slept for at least two years. Potty training him was a disaster and he wanted to run around naked all the time.”

Brian whispered to Justin, “So that’s where you started your exhibitionism, huh? I thought that was just for me.”

That comment earned Brian a smack on the arm.

“Did he walk around with his hands in diaper?” Debbie asked Jennifer.

“Oh, all the time! You would have thought he had no toys to play with,” she answered, laughing. “It’s no wonder Craig and I waited nearly eight years to have Molly… now she was a great baby.”

“Yeah, right,” Justin muttered, remembering very well what a pest his sister was when she was younger. “Someone looks at her princess with rose-colored glasses.”

Deidra Chanders next started in on her youngest child’s antics. “Daphne as a baby could have been nicknamed ‘Birth Control.’ She didn’t sleep through the night until she was two and a half, and to get her to sleep more than an hour, she would have to sleep between me and Darnell. We couldn’t get her to sleep in her own bed until she was at least four. She’d never stay in a playpen or anywhere that she couldn’t get into things, and she would knock over or throw anything she touched. But look how sweet and wonderful her son is - he hardly cries, he takes naps without any fuss, and he started sleeping through the night at three months. If all my kids had been like him, I’d probably have my own TV show with a house full of kids. I got my tubes tied after having Daphne.”

Brian turned to his still-sulking fiance and whispered, “Well, I love what they’re saying about our son, and I’m glad he only got the good qualities from both of you. I feel bad that Jen and Deidra got stuck with the two of you. Maybe we should send the grandmothers on an apology trip.”

Justin glared at his lover and snarled in return. “Gee, thanks… Asshole.”

“Oh God, don’t even get me started on Michael,” Debbie began.

“Please don’t,” Brian loudly requested as he handed out the drinks. “Nobody wants to hear about how Michael’s circumcision got infected.”

Everyone in the room cringed.

“I’d much rather hear about what a joy my son is. He certainly takes after one of his fathers,” Brian said, smirking at Justin.

“Possibly, or maybe it’s just that one of his fathers was a baby so long ago that he doesn’t remember how awful he was anymore,” Justin countered with his own smirk.

The grandmothers all laughed, knowing that the teasing between them was all good natured and that their grandson was going to have a most amazing life with these two men raising him.


A week after being granted custody of their son, Justin took Keegan to visit Daphne’s grave. He knelt down and put some white roses, Daphne’s favorite flower, in the holder on the side of her headstone. He then sat down on the lush grass and put Keegan in his lap before he began telling her what had happened in court.

“We did it, Daph,” Justin said happily. “Keegan belongs to me and Brian now, officially. Brian has adopted him and we’re now legally a family. I hope it’s okay with you that Keegan’s last name is now Kinney. Curtis really didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the case, but it was you that really helped us win. Delia found your will, and no one could dispute that you wanted me to have Keegan after that.

“Brian and I are getting married on September fifteenth, which is of course Gus’s birthday and the day we met. I know how much you hoped that one day we’d finally get married, and I know how much you would have wanted to be there. I wish that you could be my Best Lady…”

Justin sniffled back some tears and unbuttoned his shirt.

“I got you a present… I designed it myself,” he said, pulling his shirt open to show off his new tattoo over his heart. It was a black and gray portrait of Daphne holding Keegan in her arms. Underneath the portrait were the words As one life ended, another began along with 1/16/16, the date of Daphne’s death and Keegan’s birth.

“You never got to hold Keegan, but now you’ll be holding him forever. I had it done on Friday. It hurt like a motherfucker - hell, it still does - but it was worth it. I didn’t tell Brian about it before I got it, but he really likes it.”

He looked down at Keegan, who was staring up at him and smiling. The baby then wrapped his hand around his daddy’s index finger, just like he had every day when he was in the hospital after his premature birth. This prompted Justin to sing “You’re My Best Friend” to both Daphne and Keegan.

“Ooh, you make me live. Whatever this world can give to me, it’s you, you're all I see…”

As he finished the song, Justin watched as a butterfly landed on Keegan’s shoulder, as if it were a scene straight out of a movie. He remembered that Daphne had a butterfly tattooed on her shoulder, which he had drawn for her.

Justin chuckled and looked up at the clear blue sky. “Thank you Daph, we love you, too. Don’t worry, Brian and I will make sure that Keegan always knows how much you loved him.”   


Once everything had settled down following the trial, Brian and Justin started making plans for their wedding. They picked out very classy invitations, blue vellum with silver writing. The entire extended family was invited, minus Lindsay and Michael. Also invited were all of the Kinnetik employees and some of their major accounts, including Leo Brown. They also invited Gardner Vance, whom Brian had bought out several years before, although they knew the invitation would probably go straight into the garbage.

The couple did not want or need gifts, so they put a card with the invitations requesting that anyone who wanted to could donate to the Vic Grassi AIDS Hospice in lieu of a gift. They included an envelope with the hospice’s P.O. box number on it. Hunter, who was the current administrator of the hospice, would certainly appreciate every penny.  

Brian and Justin talked it over and decided that they would ask Ted and Emmett to stand up for them as their witnesses and Best Men.

Justin invited Emmett to lunch at the diner. While they were eating and talking about the kids, Justin mentioned that although he and Brian wanted to have Emmett’s Fabulous Festivities organize the ceremony and cater the reception, they didn't want Emmett working that day.

The expression on Emmett’s face was like that of a confused puppy.

Justin laughed and took the tall queen’s hand. “I’d like you to be my Best Man, if you would do me the honor.”

Emmett’s eyes quickly filled up with tears, which started pouring down his face. “Oh, Honey! Oh my God, of course I will! You’ve made me so happy.”

The two friends stood up and hugged.

“Oh shit, what am I going to wear?” Emmett suddenly wailed.

Meanwhile at Kinnetik, Brian called Ted into his office. Ted walked in and Brian asked if he would like a drink.

Ted asked for a water, a little confused at the way Brian was acting, like this was more of a social visit. “Is everything okay, Boss? You seem… well, not focused on work today.”

“Well Theodore, to be honest, I did call you in here for something other than business,” Brian answered very seriously as he poured himself a shot of Beam.

“What is it, Brian? You know you can count on me for anything,” Ted replied, worried that his friend had some bad news.

“I was hoping you would say that, because I’d like you to be my Best Man at my wedding,” Brian answered with one of his famous smirks. “You are supposedly my best friend, after all…”

Ted pushed Brian’s shoulder. “You asshole! I thought something was wrong. Cynthia doesn’t call your office the ‘Bad News Bear Cave’ for nothing.”

Brian sighed and asked, “Well, are you going to answer me?”

Ted teared up as he answered, “Brian, I would be honored to be your Best Man.”

The two of them stood and hugged.

Brian pulled away a few moments later and said, “Good. Now that that’s settled, get your ass back to work. This is a place of business and I need to make a shit-load of money to pay for this wedding.”

Ted wiped his eyes. “Sure thing Boss, getting back to work.”      


One month after Lindsay had entered the inpatient treatment program, she was told that she had a visitor in the common room. Thinking that maybe it was Brian, she brushed her hair and put on some lipstick, not being allowed to have any other makeup.

She walked into the large room and saw Michael waiting for her. Making an annoyed face, she walked over to the other side of the small table he was sitting at and took a seat.

“Why are you here, Michael?” Lindsay asked haughtily.

“I heard through the grapevine that Melanie is going to be seeking full custody of the kids, and I wanted to tell you that you can’t let her do it.”

“That ‘grapevine’ being your mother?” she said with a snort.

Ignoring her remark, he continued. “If Mel, Brian, and that fucking blond get the kids, then Brian won’t give you any more money. We need money, Lindsay. I know that I haven’t gotten the blond bastard out of the way yet, but I’m still trying to find a way. After he’s gone, then you can get Brian.”

“How exactly do you plan on getting Justin out of the picture? You thought that testifying against him at that trial would do it, but it seems to have only brought them closer together. They’ll call the cops if you go on any of their properties. And since when do you want me to have Brian? I thought you wanted him all to yourself.”

Michael shook his head. “That ship sailed long ago. He doesn’t want me, but you still have a chance with him. You would get more money from him for Gus than I would alone, anyway.”

“Brian doesn’t want me, either; he never did. Gus doesn’t even want me,” Lindsay sadly admitted.

“Well, I also heard that Brian wants to adopt my daughter and that the fucking blond wants to be her step-father. You can’t let that happen, Lindz,” Michael whined in his weasel-like way.  

“Michael, it’s over,” Lindsay answered sternly. “I’m not going to use my kids as pawns. They don’t want to be with me and I can’t force them. I’m going to have to get a job when I get out of here, so you’d better find another way to support yourself, too. You’ll never see another penny of Brian’s money.”

Michael got up so fast that the chair fell over. “That’s not fair, we had a deal! I would try to get Brian away from the fucking blond and you’d make sure I have money. I need money! Don’t you have any more put away? What about the kids’ college funds, can’t you get to those?”

Two hospital guards had come in by that point, and when Michael started banging his fists on the table, they each took an arm and escorted him to the door, telling him that he was now banned from visiting.

Lindsay just shook her head, wondering why she had gotten mixed up with Michael in the first place.  

When Doves Cry by charming1

Several weeks after the custody trial had ended, Delia decided to finally read Daphne’s diary. She had previously only skipped to the end to see if it offered any insight into why Daphne decided to write a new will just two days before her death. Delia was glad she was on summer break from her job as a high school technology teacher so she could spend a day reading her beloved sister’s book of secrets while her husband was at work, knowing it would be very hard to read it in its entirety.

Daphne started writing the diary the day she found out she was pregnant with Keegan, which also happened to be Daphne’s thirty-second birthday. Delia noticed that the tone of the diary changed soon after she had started writing it, when Daphne begun to suspect Curtis was cheating. She was very surprised that Daphne had kept such important issues in her marriage a secret from her for so long, since she assumed Daphne told her everything.

Once she was finished reading, Delia decided Justin should have the diary, especially since her sister had mentioned a lot of things about him and their son. She called Justin the next morning and asked if she could come out to Britin to visit, telling him about the diary and how she thought he should have it.

Justin said she was welcome anytime and to come on out. While waiting for Delia to arrive, he made some blueberry muffins, her favorite. They had a very nice visit, and Delia played with her nephew in the nursery until it was time for his nap.

After Delia left, Justin curled up in a chair in his office in the attic and started to read his best friend’s thoughts about their unborn child and her life. Justin remembered June thirteenth very well, because he and Brian had been getting dressed to go to Debbie’s house for Daphne’s birthday dinner when Daphne called with the exciting news.


6/13/15 - I’M PREGNANT!!! Finally the test was positive after 4 tries. Best birthday present EVER! I’m so happy I’m finally going to be a mother after wanting this for so long. I jumped into Curtis’s lap while he was drinking coffee, telling him it finally worked and we’re going to be parents. He laughed and asked if I’d called Justin yet. I called the loft, Brian answered, and I started screaming that I was pregnant. I heard Justin ask what was going on and Brian said, “I think you knocked her up this time, Papa.” Hahaha. I can’t wait to go to Debbie’s for the party she is throwing me (she’s so sweet) and announce the news to everyone!

6/16/15 - I’m still getting used to the fact that I’M PREGNANT!! Aaahhhh!!! So fucking happy!!

6/18/15 - Okay, something weird happened today. Not pregnancy related but I just have to write about it. I decided to go to the hospital to surprise Curtis at lunchtime, since my schedule was clear for most of the afternoon. I went over to the nurses station in his unit. The girl at the desk must have been new, because I didn’t recognize her. When I told her I was Curtis’s wife, she acted surprised he’s married. I was like, “Uh yeah, I’m his fucking wife. Who are you?” The girl gave me a dirty look before she called Curtis to see if he was free for lunch. When he came out to meet me, he seemed angry I was there and didn’t call beforehand. He couldn’t get me out fast enough. What the fuck?? I used to visit him at the hospital all the time and now I’m not welcome?? As Emmett would say, that really burned my biscuits.

Justin tried to recall that time in their lives, shortly after finding out that Daphne was expecting. He talked to her or saw her every single day, and she appeared nothing but happy then. He wondered why she wouldn’t have told him about her odd experience at the hospital.

6/21/15 - Curtis has been acting really weird since the incident the other day. When I ask him what that was about, he either tells me “nothing” or plays dumb. Maybe I should just forget about it.

6/24/15 - Yesterday I broke down and called one of the nurses from the hospital named Rachel that I went to high school with. I know those nurses must talk and gossip, because it’s inevitable when you get a bunch of women together. I just can’t shake the feeling that something bad is going on. When I told her about the incident the other day and asked what the deal was, she said I should talk to Curtis. Practically hung up on me. He didn’t get home until almost midnight, but I stayed up to talk to him. I’m not even six weeks along yet but already I’m fucking exhausted. Can hardly stay awake past 8 PM. We ended up having a huge fight with him asking why I don’t trust him. It ended with me apologizing for being paranoid, although I don’t think I’m being paranoid. I’ve had suspicions for years that he cheats, but I’ve never had concrete proof. He slept on the couch, saying he didn’t want to sleep next to a hormonal pregnant lady. Well fuck you too, asshole!! I’m still crying as I write this the next morning.

6/25/15 - I hardly got any sleep last night. Curtis slept in our bed, but all I could do was lay there and worry. We barely talked after he got home from work. I didn’t have my first appointment until 10 this morning, so I decided to call the life insurance company to change my policy. It used to be that Curtis was the beneficiary and trustee, but I decided to change the beneficiary to all children of mine alive at the time of my death. Justin is now the trustee. Kind of scary to be planning for such a morbid thing, but better safe than sorry, right? The maternal death rate in this country is ridiculously high. Maybe I’m just being paranoid (again), but I have to do what’s best for this little baby growing in my belly. I already feel an overwhelming sense of protection for him/her. DON’T FUCK WITH MAMA BEAR!

Justin remembered June twenty-fifth vividly, since he had a few pieces in an art exhibition at the Bloom Gallery that evening. Daphne had been there, but Curtis had to work. Justin did not recall anything being out of the ordinary with his best friend. He thought she had looked very beautiful and happy, practically glowing as she admired Justin’s paintings. It was possible she was just putting her best face forward, since Justin was always stressed when he had a show, and didn’t want to add to his plate by telling him about her problems with Curtis.

6/29/15 - I did something kind of bad today. Curtis was at work (of course) and I was home alone. My busy hormonal brain was making it impossible for me to relax. I tried to get on Curtis’s computer but found it requires a password to get on. I don’t remembering it ever asking for a password before. I tried a few things he could have used as a password, but none of them worked. If I had gotten on, I would have snooped around in his email to see if I could find any clues as to why he’s been acting so weird lately. I’m trying not to feel too guilty about it. Can’t shake the feeling that he’s cheating.

7/5/15 - Yesterday Curtis and I went to Dr. Roberts’s annual Fourth of July barbeque at his house. He actually had the entire day off. Curtis was helping man the grill, so I roamed around and chatted with people. I started talking to a physical therapist named Becky, a total busybody. I told her about the weird thing that happened at the hospital a couple weeks ago. She admitted it’s not exactly common knowledge around the hospital that Curtis is married. When I asked her why Curtis wouldn’t want everyone to know about me, she scurried away to talk to someone else. I didn’t ask Curtis about it later, not wanting another fight.

7/16/15 - I’ve been too sick to write lately. I’ve only actually thrown up a couple of times, but I’ve felt like complete shit. Nausea, headaches, and exhaustion. Some days I can hardly make it through the whole day at work. I haven’t told them I’m pregnant yet, so I’ve just been feigning a summer flu. I have been very depressed, despite this supposedly being the happiest time of my life. Curtis has been spending more time away from home, claiming that he’s working. I don’t think he’s ONLY working. When he is home, there’s always an underlying tension between us. Things weren’t perfect before I got pregnant, but it was better than this. I don’t regret this baby, but I think he does.

7/27/15 - Went to the ObGyn today for my first prenatal appointment. Curtis and Justin both came with me. She confirmed that I am indeed knocked up and 10 weeks along. There’s no doubt that something is going on in my uterus. I’m showing a little bit, which is so cool. I can’t keep my hands off of my belly. I’m starting to actually look pregnant and not just bloated. Seeing it makes it feel more real. I have been craving citrus fruits and ate two limes with salt for breakfast. I also pee constantly and my boobs are HUGE!! My due date is Feb. 20. So excited!!

Justin smiled as he fondly remembered accompanying Daphne and Curtis to the hospital for her first appointment. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary between the married couple and they were both thrilled that their little bun in the oven was baking nicely. Curtis had even teared up a bit when the bean-like fetus was shown on the ultrasound screen, its heartbeat flickering steadily.

8/3/15 - Katie at the office pulled me aside today and asked if I’m pregnant. I’ve been trying to hide my belly with baggy shirts, but apparently it’s becoming more noticeable. I told her to keep it a secret for a few more weeks until I’m in my second trimester.

8/15/15 - I am 13 weeks today, the second trimester mark. You have a lower chance of miscarrying once you get past your first trimester, so I feel very relieved. Still have indigestion and am constantly tired, but I’m dealing with it. My new favorite snack is dill pickles and milk, which sounds gross but is actually really good! Told everyone at the office that I’m prego but nobody acted surprised. Either Katie told on me or they didn’t all think I’m just getting fat, haha. Whatever, they were all very happy for me.

8/24/15 - Curtis is being more distant than ever, but still claims that nothing’s wrong. I talked to him about Justin and Brian being the baby’s godfathers, and he just shrugged. Maybe he really is just too busy at work. We haven’t had sex in weeks, which is a bummer since the second trimester is supposed to be the “Honeymoon Phase” of your pregnancy. I really hope he’s not cheating on me, especially when I’m pregnant. I’m too chickenshit to just come out and ask.

8/26/15 - Had my 14 week appointment today. Curtis said he couldn’t get away to come over to the Women’s Hospital, although it would’ve only taken him a few minutes. Justin went with me. I’ve put on six pounds since my last visit (seems to be all in my boobs and belly, haha). Me and the baby are very healthy. I’m so relieved. We got to listen to the heartbeat and both cried. Justin already loves this baby so much. We met Brian for lunch after. He hadn’t seen me in a few weeks and freaked out about how big my boobs are. I can hardly stuff these bitches in a D cup bra anymore and need to go shopping for new ones. Brian yelled, “Holy Honkers, Batman!” It was so funny! For a gay guy, he has a strange fascination with boobs, LOL. He also rubbed my belly and called me Little Mama when saying goodbye… I loved the way that sounded.

8/30/15 - I felt the baby (who JR has nicknamed “Little Sunny”) move for the first time today, tiny little flutters. Aaahhhhh!! So fucking awesome!!! I was at work in the middle of an appointment and started freaking out. There I was talking to a teenage boy about his cystic acne and Little Sunny decides to say “Hi Mommy!” for the first time. Awkward but wonderful. Curtis dryly said “cool” when I told him about it. I called Justin, who cried and made me cry. That was more the reaction I was hoping for from my husband… Hell, the boy with the acne was more excited about it than Curtis was. Sometimes I feel like he doesn’t even care about this baby. He never asks me how I’m feeling while Justin asks me so much, it’s almost annoying. Even Mr. Don’t Give a Fuck Kinney sends me messages every few days asking how Little Mama and Little Sunny are.

9/8/15 - I love my husband… I really do… but he’s been acting like a COMPLETE BITCH lately. I’M supposed to be the moody one here (feeling very moody at the moment, obviously), but he has been a total twat, snapping at me and stomping off at the slightest provocation. He’s been spending more nights on the couch, if he comes home at all. He claims he’s been on call and doesn’t see a point in leaving the hospital, but whatever. I can hardly talk to him about anything anymore. I hate how this diary has become a “bitching about Curtis” diary instead of chronicling my pregnancy, but he’s been giving me so much to bitch about.

9/12/15 - We had dinner at Capital Grille for Sara’s birthday earlier. Frank asked if I’m going to take time off after the baby is born. I said I would probably take 12 weeks before going back to work. Curtis gave me an ugly look and said, “I thought we discussed before that you would quit your job after you had a baby.” Uh no, YOU discussed it before and I said no fucking way. With all the time and money I spent establishing my career (still paying for it), I am not going to give it up just like that, no matter how much I love our baby. As if we don’t already have money problems, he wants us reduced to one income in addition to having a child to raise?? Mama is retiring at the end of the year and offered to babysit for us, so childcare is covered. We almost had a fight right there in the restaurant before Frank reminded us that we were there to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Curtis is now giving me the silent treatment, which is fine since I don’t want to talk to his ass anyway.

9/16/15 - Justin surprised me at work today with a BLT with avocado, my new obsession. He could tell I was upset about something and nearly had a meltdown when he assumed something was wrong with the baby. I promised him the baby is perfect and I’m just very tired, which is true. My ligaments are stretching more by the day and I hurt everywhere. It’s hard to sleep with the pain and the baby moving so much now. Curtis and I are just existing in the same house together. I tried to get some sexy time going last night, since I’ve been so fucking horny lately (those glorious pregnancy hormones) and wanted to make peace, but Curtis said he was too tired. SERIOUSLY?? I’m the one growing a human being in my body and working 45 hours per week, but YOU are too tired??? Good thing I have a vibrator to keep me sane.

10/5/15 - Today we find out the baby’s sex. I’m so excited!! I’m twenty weeks along, halfway through. Curtis once again says he’s too busy to go to the appointment, since he has a surgical intern this semester. I’m a little disappointed, but Justin and Brian are going to be there. I have a feeling that it’s a boy, but I’ll of course be happy if it’s a girl. I’d like to have one of each. I’ve been calling “it” a “he” in my head for weeks.

10/5/15 (continued) - Well, now we know… IT’S A BOY!!! Curtis was able to run in just long enough to hear the news before having to go back to the surgical wing. Justin was bouncing around with his huge smile and Brian was trying to act like he didn’t want to be there, but when they started showing the ultrasound of the baby, you couldn’t have peeled his eyes from the screen. He cracked to Justin, “Look Sunshine, it has your penis!” LMAO!! I’m going to name him Keegan, a name I’ve loved for years. I know that Brian likes it, since it’s an Irish name that means “little fire.” Not sure about the middle name yet, there’s still time to figure it out. Maybe I’ll ask Justin if he has any suggestions. Curtis wants to name him Curtis Jr, but that ain’t happening.

Justin laughed and cried happy tears as he recalled that day in the exam room when he found out that he was going to have a son. Even the ultrasound technician laughed at Brian’s comment. Curtis, however, rolled his eyes before making his exit.

10/11/15 - Justin and I were out shopping for baby stuff today when I felt Keegan moving. It hasn’t been strong enough to feel from the outside… until today. I dropped everything I was holding and grabbed Justin’s hand. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he felt his son kicking against his hand. It was so cute how happy he was. He screamed “Holy shit, he’s moving!” loud enough for the whole store to hear. All I could do was laugh as he dropped to his knees and kissed my belly, then talked to Keegan for a minute in baby talk. God, I love Justin so much. Sometimes I wish Keegan was our baby. Yeah, he’s technically OUR baby, but he’s supposed to be my and Curtis’s baby. There was a time when I thought Justin and I would have a real family together.

Justin was really surprised to read that last part. Sure, he knew Daphne used to have a crush on him and thought she was in love with him after he had taken her virginity nearly a million years ago, but he had no idea she had once harbored a fantasy of them having a family.

10/20/15 - It’s official… I am 100% certain Curtis is cheating on me. I was doing laundry earlier and found a ticket stub in one of his pockets to the Bradley Cooper movie called Burnt. It’s a total chick flick. Curtis would NEVER see a movie like that on his own or with a guy friend. Plus, he was supposed to be at work during the show time. I know if I ask him about it, he’ll lie or get shitty with me. I don’t know what the fuck I should do. I’m already a mess as it is, unable to sleep for more than two hours at a time. Keegan enjoys doing backflips when I lay down and wakes me up. I have a constant headache. I still have 18 weeks to go, but I already feel big as a fucking house.

10/22/15 - I’ve been crying almost constantly for the past two days. I canceled lunch with Justin today because I don’t want him to see me like this. I want to tell someone just so I don’t feel so alone, but I can’t. If I tell Delia or Mama, they’ll flip out and want to kill Curtis. Mama has never really liked or trusted him since day one. I definitely can’t tell Justin. He’ll also be angry at Curtis, but I don’t want him to regret making this baby with me. Justin’s son deserves a family with two parents who love each other. I don’t see that as a possibility now.

Justin’s heart broke as he read his best friend’s words. He couldn’t believe Daphne didn’t tell him what was going on when she was obviously in so much agony. If she had confided in him, he would have insisted Daphne leave Curtis because she deserved so much better than that. He never would have felt regret for helping her conceive, no matter what happened. The fact that she felt like she had little choice but to put up with Curtis’s infidelity out of fear of how Justin would react made him hate Curtis even more than he already did. Curtis had turned the strong woman who didn’t take shit from anyone into a scared mouse.

11/2/15 - Went to the doctor today. Didn’t even tell Curtis about the appointment. Of course Justin was there. I don’t know what I’d do without him. My blood pressure was a tiny bit high, but it wasn’t anything to be too alarmed about. It has to be from the stress of knowing I’m living a lie. Every time I see Curtis, I want to confront him about his girlfriend or mistress or whatever the fuck, but I chicken out. I know it’ll just result in a huge fight and I can’t handle that right now. I’m just barely keeping myself together, pretending everything is perfect. I never understood women who stay with their cheating husbands, but now I totally get it. I can’t even tell Justin about this and I used to tell him EVERYTHING. I want this baby to grow up in a happy home, not with parents that fight and don’t want to be together.

Justin could hardly read at that point, the tears were falling so steadily. It tore him apart knowing Daphne had spent what was supposed to be the happiest time of her life in so much pain, especially since those ended up being the last few months of her life.

11/8/15 - I am so fucking angry right now. I’m going through an almost OCD-like nesting phase where I can’t get the house clean enough. I was picking up some stuff around Curtis’s computer desk earlier and found a credit card statement poorly hidden. Curtis opened a Mastercard in both of our names, which I never approved of. I sure as hell never signed anything, so I don’t know how he did it. We’ve always kept our finances separate, despite his protests. Yeah, we’re married, but we don’t have to marry together our bank accounts. We don’t even file a joint tax return. He has charged $3,834.74 on the card so far. Last month he used it at restaurants and stores all over town. He spent $348 at a liquor store, probably buying a fancy bottle of wine for one of his whores. Finances are tight enough as it is, with student loans and mortgage, and he goes on a fucking spending spree with my name on the card??? I called the company and asked when the card was opened and they said it was in August. How the fuck has he charged almost 4K in 3 months??? I know none of it was on me. I don’t know how we’re going to pay for this. I told them to cancel the card so he can’t use it anymore. Waiting for the rat bastard to get home...

11/9/15 - I asked him about the credit card last night. He gave a sob story about how he has maxed out his other cards and had no choice but to get one in both our names, because his credit is so bad. When I asked him what he spent all that money on, he yelled “I don’t ask you what you spend your money on” and then World War III nearly began in our living room. I told him I could report him for fraud, but he’s lucky I love him too much to put him through that. He ended up storming out. Part of me hopes he doesn’t even come home.

The episode with the credit card was news to Justin. They used to tell each other about every hangnail and papercut they had, so he was shocked that Daphne chose not to share such a major thing like that with him. He had no clue she and Curtis had been having such serious money problems and would have helped them if asked.

11/13/15 - I don’t know what to do anymore. Curtis has been acting so nice since the discovery of the credit card and it feels so fucking fake. He knows he’s in deep shit. I know it’s only a matter of time before the next argument happens. We had sex last night after I don’t know how long, but it felt so… strange. I had to initiate it and it was as if he was doing me a favor. He never even kissed me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant or what, but he’s not attracted to me anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m not pregnant with HIS child. Strangely, I’ve never felt more beautiful. I love looking in the mirror each day and seeing how my body is changing as Keegan gets bigger inside my belly. As Brian would say, I’d fuck me, haha.

11/28/15 - Well, we made it. Today marks the beginning of my third trimester. Only twelve more weeks before I finally become a mommy. This past Thursday was Thanksgiving. Curtis had to work, OF FUCKING COURSE. He had the balls to get mad at me when I said I wasn’t going to stop by his parents’ house for a visit. I already had to go to my parents’ and Deb’s. I wasn’t going to spend my day driving my pregnant ass around town all by myself. Gus came down for the holiday and I can’t believe how tall he is now. He shot up a good six inches since I last saw him. He’s nearly Justin’s height and looks exactly like Brian. He’s going through a gothic phase and Brian obviously hates it. He called Gus “The Creature of the Day” since Gus has a curfew. Gus talked to my belly and introduced himself as “your big brother.” I almost cried.

12/5/15 - Had my baby shower today at the Edgewood Country Club. Emmett’s company took care of it, meaning it was very fancy. It was so nice having everyone from our families there to celebrate the upcoming birth of our baby. The gifts were nice too, of course. We received nearly everything on our registries, which was great since we couldn’t afford to buy most of it ourselves. Curtis had tried getting out of going, saying baby showers are for women. I told him that many men, including both of our fathers, would be there and not to act like a jerk. Luckily Curtis acted very gracious throughout the party. I put on a fine performance, too. It’s beyond tiring acting like everything's okay.

12/13/15 - We had the biggest fight we’ve ever had yesterday. I still can’t believe it. Justin was over earlier in the day putting the finishing touches on the mural he painted in the nursery, which looks amazing. Curtis came home from work before dinner time, which rarely happens. He made a snide comment about how I didn’t have dinner ready for him, which I laughed off since we had an audience. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE HOME FOR DINNER!!! I wanted to scream. I told him it would be a great idea to take Justin out to dinner as a thank you for the mural, since he refused to take actual payment for it. Curtis said no (only “no,” no other words) and went to take a shower. I told Justin to go ahead home. After he was gone and Curtis came out of the shower, I asked him why he didn’t want to go to dinner with Justin. He said he didn’t want me to see Justin anymore. I was not okay with this, of course, and wanted to know why. Curtis said he didn’t want Justin or anyone else from his family to be part of our son’s life. He next went on a homophobic rant about how he didn’t want his son to be raised around a bunch of faggots. I had no idea he felt this way about gay people and never saw this ugly side of him before. I don’t even know this man anymore.

Justin slowly nodded his head as he read that part, since he later got to see that side of Curtis himself and had been just as surprised.

12/25/15 - Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve written. I’ve been so tired and busy lately, trying to get everything at work and the house ready before Keegan’s arrival. Of course it’s also been the holiday season, lots of decorating, baking, shopping, blah blah… Curtis said he needs to go into the hospital and catch up on paperwork today, on fucking Christmas. Whatever. I planned on spending the day at Britin with the rest of the gang. I guess I’d better go, since I don’t want them to wonder why I’m not there. It’s not that I don’t want to go, but I’d rather just sit at the house in my nightgown and eat cookies. I feel so fucking fat and ugly. Brian and Justin flew down from Toronto last night to spend the day with the Pittsburgh family, so I’d better be there, too.

Justin recalled his interaction with Daphne that day, the last Christmas they would ever have together. He and Brian gave her a day pass at a local spa, which she had been very happy to receive. Justin didn’t know if she ever used it. Daphne had looked fantastic in a green empire waist dress with black leggings and ankle boots. Everyone fawned over her, telling her what a beautiful pregnant woman she made and rubbing her big belly. She ate up the attention, laughing and smiling. There had been no outward indication that anything was wrong in her life. Apparently she had gotten a lot of practice acting like all was perfect.

Daphne had gotten better at keeping up with her diary after Christmas, but the entries mostly just contained more sad statements about her crumbling marriage and worry over possibly having to raise Keegan alone.

Several pages later was the last entry made on the day Justin’s world would be changed forever. Daphne wrote it just a few hours before her death.

1/16/16 - I can’t take this shit anymore. Curtis is practically flaunting what he’s doing in my face. He leaves his chats open on his phone and laptop. He used to have passwords on his devices but stopped using them at some point. I spent a few hours yesterday while he was at work reading his Hangouts chats. He has a girlfriend named Amanda, his intern. He told her he doesn’t want to adopt my son. He plans to divorce me after Keegan is born. Finding out he’s sterile hurt his manhood, and she strokes his ego constantly. They sext a lot and it’s gross. I wrote a new will a couple days ago leaving nearly everything to Keegan. I don’t want that cheating bastard to have anything of mine if I happen to die before we are divorced, including my son. I wish I could leave our house to someone other than him but it’s legally half his. I hand wrote the will since I read online it doesn’t have to be witnessed if it’s handwritten. I’ll have a lawyer look at it later and make it more official. I’ve already packed a suitcase to take with me today. I can come back to get the rest of my things later. I’m going to Britin and telling Justin and Brian everything. Hopefully I can stay in their guest house until I find something permanent. I can’t stay with Curtis anymore, it hurts too much to have him make a fool of me. I’d rather raise my son alone than have him grow up thinking that this is the way you treat people.

Justin closed the small hardback notebook and held it against his chest. He imagined Daphne putting that very notebook into her storage box, picking up Curtis’s cell phone from the nightstand, and confronting him with his chats with Amanda, proof of his affair. He was proud that Daphne had finally stood up for herself after all those months of suffering, but her victory had been short lived.


Purple Rain by charming1

Brian came home from work shortly after Justin had finished reading Daphne's diary. He found his fiance in the kitchen chopping vegetables, tears running down his face. "Purple Rain" by the late, great Prince was playing out of Justin's smartphone sitting on the counter.

"Funny, it doesn't look like you're cutting any onions," Brian cracked before giving Justin a kiss on his forehead. "Is it the song making you wheepy?"

Justin shook his head. "Delia brought over Daphne's diary today."

Brian pulled the chef's knife out of Justin's hand, sat it down on the cutting board, and gathered his blond up in his arms, knowing that he needed to be comforted. They swayed together to the slow song.

You say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain...

"Where is everybody?" Brian quietly asked as he rubbed Justin's back.

"Gus took Keegan to Mel's. She's making eggplant parmesan."

Brian shuddered, having had a hatred of eggplant since the first time he tried it at Debbie's house as a teen. "Blech."

Justin chuckled. "We all knew you wouldn't want any, so I'm trying to make a cobb salad for us."

"Want some help?"

Justin pulled back to look up at his fiance. "Since when do you cook?"

"Hey, I can cook," Brian said in fake offense. "I just don't like to cook. Luckily I don't have to, since I have a great little chef right here who loves to feed his man delicious meals. Besides, how badly could I fuck up a salad?"

Justin gestured to the cutting board. "Wash your hands and have at it, Bobby Flay."

As it turned out, Mr. Kinney knew how to use a chef's knife very well.

The men were laying in their bed later that night after putting Keegan down. Justin was still feeling very emotional after reading Daphne's diary and decided to read it to Brian.

The blond wiped his eyes after finishing the last entry. "Why didn't she tell me how bad things were between her and Curtis?" he asked Brian, his voice hoarse from crying so much. "The money problems, the cheating, the fighting... I just can't understand it. I thought their marriage was perfect, because she never told me otherwise."

Brian reached over and wiped away one of his fiance's stray tears. "I think she was ashamed."

"Daph had no shame with me," Justin said with a snort. "I took her virginity, remember? She literally used to tell me everything, even things I absolutely did not need to know. She even told me when she first started her period when she was like, twelve."

"It was different with her marriage," Brian began to explain. "I know my relationship with you is the most important thing in my life, and I imagine it was the same with Daphne's marriage. She said in the diary that she had suspected for years that he cheated. Did she ever tell you that?"

Justin shook his head.

"She was probably ashamed of herself, thinking that she wasn't enough to keep her man satisfied. Probably wondered what was wrong with her, what she didn't have that Curtis needed... I've been there."

Brian continued after seeing Justin's curious expression.

"The greasy, chinrat fiddlefucker, remember? When I first started to suspect that you were seeing someone, more than just as a casual fuck, I asked myself what this other guy had that I didn't. It turned out to be not one fucking thing, but I knew at the time you weren't being emotionally fulfilled with me. Nobody could blame you for feeling that way. I was as emotionally deep as an oil slick back then."

"I was an idiot," Justin said. "You showed me you loved me every single day, in all that you did for me and how you made love to me. I just couldn't see it and you were too scared to say the words, with good reason. Luckily, I eventually opened my eyes and you let yourself love me."

Brian took the diary from Justin and started to skim through the pages. "Daphne though, she probably felt like she failed at the most important thing in her life, her marriage. She didn't want to admit it to anyone, not even you. Once she was pregnant, she was terrified to tell you her marriage was failing, because she was carrying your child."

"Wow, you're probably right," Justin agreed.

"‘I don't want him to regret making this baby with me,'" Brian quoted from the diary. "She didn't want you to feel like you helping her conceive ruined her marriage or regret it because her child wouldn't have two parents. Daphne being pregnant with someone else's child, even if it was because he couldn't do it himself, probably caused Curtis to pull away from her like he did in those last few months. It was probably a major blow to his ego that he was sterile, and it hurt worse that you were able to do what he couldn't. That wasn't Daphne's fault, your fault, or the baby's fault, of course. He admitted to Amanda that he cheated on Daphne before they were even married, remember? Their marriage probably would have crumbled even if he could have knocked her up himself.

"Daphne's reasonable brain probably knew that you would have gladly stepped in to be Keegan's father and help her raise him, but she was doubting everything she knew after the man she had trusted her heart to had broken it. She'd been suffering for months with Curtis's abandonment of her after she got pregnant, and it caused her to fear that you or her family would abandon her, too. He ruined her trust in other people, until she finally decided she had enough."

Justin closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "That motherfucker...  I wish murder was legal, because I want to kill Curtis slowly and methodically to cause the maximum amount of pain."

"I know, me too," Brian admitted. "Just remember that Daphne's wish came true: Keegan belongs to us, and we're going to raise him to be the best person he can possibly be. Curtis is history, unworthy of our time and thoughts. We have nothing but good things ahead of us now."

Justin looked down at the tattoo of Daphne holding Keegan on his bare chest. "Yeah."

Brian leaned over and kissed the part of the tattoo with Daphne's face. Justin had done a beautiful job with the portrait and the tattoo artist transferred it perfectly onto his skin. Daphne would have loved it.

Moving back up, Brian captured Justin's lips, licking softly at his bottom lip before sucking it into his mouth. Justin held the back of Brian's head, loving the way Brian was devouring him.

Brian's long arms enveloped the younger man and he rolled them over, spreading his legs and wrapping them around the blond. Justin pulled back from the kiss and looked down into the hazel eyes. Brian looked back at him with such love and devotion, it nearly made Justin cry again.  

"Make love to me, Justin."

Justin loved it when Brian asked for it with those words, since he usually just said "Fuck me" when he wanted it. He moaned and kissed Brian roughly, forcing his tongue into the brunet's mouth. Brian reached under the pillow and handed Justin the lube.  

Justin stripped off his and Brian's pants, then carefully prepared his lover, wanting to build the feelings slowly because he knew that Brian enjoyed it when he took his time. Once Brian was ready, Justin slowly pushed himself into his man, loving the way Brian's ass grabbed onto his steel hard cock.

Rocking slowly, the two men stared at each other, all the love they felt showing through their eyes. Justin angled his hips, brushing lightly against Brian's prostate, sending shivers through his older lover. Brian arched his back, trying to direct Justin's cock to rub his sweet spot with each thrust, wanting more contact.

Justin was having none of it. He was determined to prolong their coupling, needed the connection and to be in control after such an emotional day. Brian could see this, so he let the younger man take care of him as he knew he would. Justin slowly increased the pace of his lovemaking over several minutes, hitting Brian's prostate more directly and causing the brunet to make the most erotic sounds. It was a good thing that the walls were insulated with sound dampener.

Finally neither man could stand the delicious torture anymore and sped up, moaning and shouting each other's names. They both soon erupted, Brian shooting ribbons of cum between them and his ass clamping down, which caused Justin to empty himself deep inside his lover.

They laid together while catching their breath. Brian ran his hands over Justin's sweaty back, pressing lightly up and down his spine the way the blond liked it.

"Love you," Brian whispered in Justin's ear.

Justin smiled. "I know."


Once she had been released from the hospital after her three month stay, Lindsay called Melanie and asked that she and Brian meet with her. After JR had gone to bed that night, Melanie noticed that the kitchen light was on at the main house. Hoping that it wasn't too late, she knocked on the back door.

Justin opened the door smiling. "Hey Mel, what's up?"

Melanie walked in and found Brian sitting at the breakfast nook. A Scrabble board was laid out in front of him on the table, and Melanie had to bite her lip to keep from commenting on how domesticated Brian had become. He was even wearing slippers, albeit crocodile skin Ferragamo slippers that cost more than a grand.

Looking back and forth between the men, Melanie told them, "Lindsay called and requested that Brian and I meet with her."

Brian looked annoyed. "If she wants to meet, Justin will be included or the answer is no."

"She specifically said that she doesn't want Justin there, because she doesn't think that he deserves an apology for anything."

"She has to accept Justin as a part of my life, a part of our family," Brian replied. "We have a son together now and we'll be married next month. If she doesn't like it, tough shit."

Melanie nodded. "I agree. Her decisions and how she's been acting have affected all of us, especially Justin. Gus and JR look to him as a father, too. I'll call her back and let her know the deal. Also, I think the meeting should be in a neutral place, not here. Maybe at Deb's house if we want privacy, or would you rather meet somewhere public?"

Brian and Justin had one of their silent conversations.

"Let's see if we can use Deb's," Brian said. "Everything in our lives is always the talk of Liberty Avenue, so we need to keep it private."

Justin called Debbie and she agreed that they could meet at her house. She even offered to drive to Britin and watch the kids so that they wouldn't have to be there, in case things got heated. Justin happily took her up on that offer.

Lindsay agreed to meet Melanie, Brian, and Justin at Debbie's the next afternoon. The three of them got to the house a little early, and they patiently sat in the kitchen wondering what it was that Lindsay had to say to them.

"If she makes one snide comment or gives us even one nasty look, Justin and I are out of here," Brian said to Melanie. "You're free to speak with her, and we'll come back to pick you up when you're done."

Melanie nodded.

When the doorbell rang, Melanie answered and invited her wife inside. Brian and Justin were seated next to each other at the kitchen table. Melanie took a seat next to Justin, and Lindsay sat across from him, trying to keep her distance.

Brian started, asking in a clipped tone, "Well Lindsay, you've got us all here, so what is it that you want to tell us?"

He was still very pissed at her for what she had done and said since coming back to Pittsburgh, along with how she treated Gus after Melanie had left Canada. Brian could also feel the tension in his fiance and took his hand, threading their fingers together and laying their joined hands on the table for Lindsay to see.

Lindsay took several deep breaths before she started speaking, having rehearsed what she wanted to say for the past couple of days. "I want to apologize to all of you for the way I have acted lately. As you know, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and while I know that does not necessarily excuse my behavior, I hope you will take that into account. I've known for several years now that there was something psychologically wrong with me, but I didn't want to get help. It was a way for me to stay in control, although I was anything but in control of myself. I've probably had this since I was a teenager, but I never sought treatment for my depression or mood swings. My parents always viewed therapy as a sign of weakness. I'm going to continue seeing my psychiatrist three times a week and I'm on medication to help keep me stable. I'm living in an apartment complex for mentally ill and disabled people, paid for by the county, until I can support myself again. I'm actually about to start working in the complex part-time as a housekeeper.

"Justin, I didn't want you to be here today because I'm still working through my issues, when it comes to my jealousy of you. I have to constantly remind myself that you are not my enemy. I'm genuinely very sorry for the way I have treated you and for the things I have said about you over the past few years. I'm sure you've gotten an earful from both Mel and Gus. I'm sorry for testifying for Curtis at your trial, and I'm glad that you were able to keep your son. You've done nothing wrong, and I appreciate the love you've given Brian, Gus, and JR over all these years. You're a wonderful role model to the kids. I hope that you can someday forgive me for how awful I've been towards you.

"Brian, I'm sorry for trying to get between you and Justin. I know that you and I will never be together romantically, and that you are building a family with Justin. I'm happy that his son will have you as a father. I am especially sorry for misusing all the money you sent me for Gus over the years. I know you never owed me a penny and were only trying to help with our son. I'm glad that you and he are getting to spend so much time together, now that he lives with you. What I said about you at the trial, about your parenting ability... it was so wrong. I was only angry about Gus not wanting to live with me anymore. He won't answer my emails or anything. He's even blocked me on social media and I don't blame him. I hope he gives me another chance someday."

Lindsay had started to cry as she thought about the impact her actions had on Gus, which was what she felt the most guilty over.

"And Melanie, I am so, so sorry about how my behavior has impacted our marriage and our family. I've been so unfair to you, and you didn't deserve any of this. You asked me so many times to get help for my anger and depression, and I ignored you. I don't blame you at all for leaving me and taking JR with you, and for not sending Gus back to me. Please let the children know that I love them and only want what's best for them. I've decided to voluntarily give up custody of Gus and JR, and I have a meeting with a lawyer scheduled tomorrow to get the process started."

Brian and Melanie looked at each other in surprise.

"I just hope someday that we can all be a family again," Lindsay said as she pulled a tissue out of her purse. "I want to be in our children's lives, but I need to make myself a better mother for them first. I would like to get to know Keegan, too. That... that's all I have to say."

Justin spoke up first. "Lindsay, I appreciate you coming here and apologizing, and I'm glad you're getting the help you need. For now, I really don't want to be around you and I certainly don't want you around my son. I also don't want you in my home or at our wedding. I'm sorry if that offends you, but that's the way I feel. Maybe someday that will change, but it will take time."  

Next, Brian said, "I feel the same way, Lindsay. As far as I'm concerned, if Gus or JR want to speak to you, they may, but I don't want you coming to Britin. If they want to see you and one of us is available, we'll bring them here to see you for a supervised visit. I'd prefer to do it here at Deb's, if it's okay with her. Right now, I just don't trust you."

Finally, Mel spoke. "I agree with everything Justin and Brian have said. I will be filing for divorce next week. I've been back in Pennsylvania for six months, which is the minimum time required for me to legally file here. I really appreciate that you're willing to give up your parental rights, and you should know that I will be petitioning for Brian to have his parental rights to Gus reinstated and for him to adopt JR. That means that Justin will be their step-father and will remain an important part of their lives. I only wish that this state had third-parent adoption, so he could also have legal claims over them. Hopefully someday we'll all three be able to forgive what you've done and accept you as our friend again, at least for the sake of the kids. I would like for you to have a healthy relationship with them in the future."

Lindsay nodded. She had not really expected them to be so harsh, but knew there was nothing she could say to just fix everything.

"Just tell the children that I love them, please. I'm glad that they have three great parents to take care of them."

That said, Lindsay left to think about all she had lost.          


Melanie filed for divorce from Lindsay on August twenty-fourth. Lindsay signed the papers right after being served, and the court would grant their divorce after the mandatory ninety day waiting period. Lindsay kept her word and filed to voluntarily terminate her parental rights to both Gus and JR. She also let the court know that Brian wanted legal rights to both kids.

Melanie was soon granted full legal and physical custody. The court took Brian's petition to have his parental rights to Gus reinstated and his petition to adopt JR under advisement.

Origin of Love by charming1

September fifteenth dawned as a beautiful day. Preparations had been going on for two days at Britin to celebrate the wedding of the century. Emmett's Fabulous Festivities was taking care of the ceremony and reception, but Emmett had to trust things to his employees since Justin had asked him to be his best man. Emmett had been very hands-on until the day of the wedding, making sure everything was perfect for the men he considered to be the perfect couple.

The ceremony would be held in the garden. The gazebo, which would be used as the altar, was decorated with white twinkling lights, mixed white and blue flowers, and golden gardenias. Chairs were put on the lawn for the guests to watch as Brian and Justin said their vows. A large tent was set up in the sprawling back yard for the reception.

Once all of the guests were seated, a silver runner was rolled along the center aisle in preparation for the wedding party to enter. A lady who played piano for the Pittsburgh Symphony had been hired to play during the ceremony, and she began to play Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major."

JR appeared first wearing a beautiful blue dress, silver sandals, and a sparkly silver princess crown that she insisted on wearing. She slowly made her way down the aisle dropping blue and white flower petals along the way.

Next came Blake and Cynthia. He was wearing a black tuxedo with a blue tie and vest to match Justin, while she wore silver palazzo pants with a matching fitted blouse. They were followed by Drew, whose tie and vest were silver like Brian's, and Melanie, whose palazzo pants and blouse were blue to match Justin.

The last to appear before the grooms arrived were the Best Men, Ted and Emmett. The two old friends walked arm-and-arm down the aisle together, Ted with a silver tie and vest and Emmett wearing blue. Emmett was already crying happy tears.

Brian was waiting for his cue, flanked by Gus and Debbie. The Kinney men were each wearing silver ties and vests and Debbie, who was holding Brian's arm so tight he thought he was losing the feeling in it, had on a lovely silver chiffon dress.

Brian smiled and leaned down toward the older woman. "Ma, I want this. I'm not going to run, so you really don't have to hold on so tight."

Debbie loosened her grip and looked up at Brian with tear-filled eyes. "Sorry, Honey. I'm just so happy for my two favorite sons. I love you both so much."

Brian smiled and kissed her cheek. "We love you, too."  

Gus looked over at Debbie. "Trust me Gram, if Pop tried to run, I'd kill him."

"Aww, I love you too, Sonny Boy," Brian said with a smile.

The three of them walked down the aisle together and everyone took their places. Brian waited at the altar for his groom to join him.

Justin had asked Jennifer and Molly to walk him down the aisle, with Molly carrying Keegan. The ladies were in matching blue chiffon dresses. The eight month-old was wearing a tiny little black designer tux and a blue and silver-striped bow tie.

"I'm so happy for you, Justin," Jennifer said to her son. "You're finally getting your happily ever after. No one deserves it more than you."

"Good catch, big brother," commented the younger Taylor sibling as Brian came into their view. "Hot and rich... maybe you could give me some pointers."

"Molly Taylor," Jennifer replied, rolling her eyes. "You have a fiance of your own."

"We're not married yet," Molly joked before they began to make their way down the aisle. She passed Keegan over to Gus before taking her seat next to her fiance, who was quite attractive and came from a very nice family.    

Judge Dennis started the ceremony with the traditional words: "Family and friends, we are gathered here to join these two men, Brian Aiden Kinney and Justin Cole Taylor, in matrimony. It is my honor to officiate this wedding today. Who gives these men to be joined in marriage?"

Gus and JR stepped forward, and Gus said, "My sister, my brother, and I do... and it's about time."

Chuckles and murmurs of "That's for sure" could be heard from the guests.

The judge continued, "Justin and Brian have written their own vows. Justin, please start."

Justin took Brian's hands in his and looked into his hazel eyes. "Brian, the first time I saw you sixteen years ago, crossing the street and walking toward me, there was something, like a spark that went off in my head. Somehow I knew you were the one, the one person who could complete me. It's taken a long time for us to get here and it hasn't always been easy, but it was all worth it. Everything we've been through has brought us to this moment, the moment that we pledge our love and commitment to each other forever. I want you to know that you are my best friend, not as a substitute or a replacement for Daphne, but my best friend in your own right. Brian Aiden Kinney, you are all I will ever want, all I will ever need, and all I will ever desire. You are my heart, my life, and my home. I love you."

A high-pitched sob came out of Emmett, and everyone laughed.

Emmett waved his hand in front of his mouth. "I'm sorry."

It was Brian's turn. "Justin, the first time I saw you, I saw an innocent, beautiful young man. I walked toward you, not realizing that I was finally on a path toward my future. I didn't believe in love then, and I certainly didn't ever expect to find it under a streetlamp. You opened my eyes and my heart, and I fought against it every step of the way. I never felt like I deserved to be loved, especially by someone like you. You have always been there to save me from myself. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. Sixteen years ago today, I received the two most precious gifts in the world: you and our oldest son. Today, we pledge ourselves to each other forever. Justin Cole Taylor, you are all I will ever want, all I will ever need, and all I will ever desire. You are my heart, my life, and my home. I love you."

Brian leaned toward his groom and whispered, "Your last couple of lines were so perfect, I just had to steal them."

Justin smiled and nodded. "It's okay."

Judge Dennis said, "Ladies and gentleman, Brian and Justin's oldest son Gus would like to play a song* for you."

Gus handed Keegan to his Uncle Ted. Gus's acoustic guitar was on a stand beside the piano, and he picked it up and took a seat.

"Pop, Papa J, this is my gift to you. Let's hope those lessons you've been paying for have been worth it," he said into a microphone before he began to sing.

"When the earth was still flat, and the clouds made of fire, and mountains stretched up to the sky, sometimes higher. Folks roamed the earth like big rolling kegs. They had two sets of arms. They had two sets of legs. They had two faces peering out of one giant head, so they could watch all around them as they talked, while they read. And they never knew nothing of love. It was before the origin of love. The origin of love.

"Now, there were three sexes then. One that looked like two men glued up back to back, called the children of the sun. And similar in shape and girth was the children of the earth, they looked like two girls rolled up in one. And the children of the moon was like a fork shoved on a spoon, they was part sun, part earth, part daughter, part son. The origin of love.

"Now the gods grew quite scared of our strength and defiance, and Thor said, ‘I'm gonna kill them all with my hammer, like I killed the giants.' But Zeus said, ‘No, you better let me use my lightening-like scissors, like I cut the legs off the whales and dinosaurs into lizards.' And then he grabbed up some bolts and he let out a laugh. Said, ‘I'll split them right down the middle, gonna cut them right up in half.' And then storm clouds gathered above into great balls of fire.

"And then fire shot down from the sky in bolts like shining blades of a knife. And it ripped right through the flesh of the children of the sun, and the moon, and the earth. And some Indian god sewed the wound up into a hole, pulled it round to our belly to remind us of the price we pay. And Osiris and the gods of the Nile gathered up a big storm to blow a hurricane, to scatter us away in a flood of wind and rain, and a sea of tidal waves, to wash us all away. And if we don't behave they'll cut us down again, and we'll be hopping ‘round on one foot and looking through one eye.

"Last time I saw you we had just split in two. You were looking at me, I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar, but I could not recognize, ‘cause you had blood on your face, I had blood in my eyes. But I could swear by your expression that the pain down in your soul was the same as the one down in mine. Oh, that's the pain that cuts a straight line down through the heart. We call it love. So we wrapped our arms around each other, trying to shove ourselves back together. We was making love, making love. It was a cold dark evening such a long time ago, when by the mighty hand of Jove. It was the sad story how we became lonely two-legged creatures. It's the story of the origin of love.

"That's the origin of love, oh yeah, the origin of love. The origin of love. Love, love, love, love. The origin of love."

Gus had been practicing the song for weeks and it showed. He did a wonderful job and everyone applauded. Both Brian and Justin gave Gus hugs to thank him.

"That was beautiful," the judge said to Gus. "May I have the rings, please?"  

Gus pulled the rings out of his pocket and handed them to the judge.

"Thank you. Brian, repeat after me: Justin, will you take this ring and wear it as a symbol of my love and devotion for the rest of our lives?"

Brian repeated the words to Justin.

Justin, with tears streaming down his face, answered, "Of course, I will."

Brian slid the ring onto Justin's finger.

The judge then said, "Justin, repeat after me: ‘Brian, will you take this ring and wear it as a symbol of my love and devotion for the rest of our lives?'"

Justin repeated the words to Brian.

Brian, blinking back tears of happiness, answered, "Forever, my love."

Justin slid the ring on Brian's finger.

Judge Dennis then concluded, "By the power vested in me by the state of Pennsylvania, I now pronounce you married in the eyes of the law. You both may now kiss your husband."

Brian loudly said "Finally!" as he grabbed his husband and gave him a toe-curling kiss. The audience loudly approved of their union.

When the couple finished their first kiss as a married couple, they threaded their fingers together and walked back up the aisle. Once they passed the last row of chairs, they opened the cages that were on the table in the back, releasing sixteen doves. They were followed by the wedding party to stand in the receiving line as the guests filed past, heading to the tent for the reception.  

Once the guests were enjoying champagne and hors d'oeuvres, the judge had several papers for Brian and Justin to sign. The most important one was the marriage certificate, which the new husbands signed along with Ted and Emmett as witnesses. Another was the order granting Justin's name change to Justin Cole Kinney. The judge had also brought JR's adoption petition, the petition for reinstatement of Brian's parental rights to Gus, and the petition for Gus's name change to Gus Anthony Kinney. When Brian was finished signing everything, Judge Dennis signed orders granting all of them, and each document would be filed the next day.

The wedding party then went into the garden to pose for pictures. After the photographer finished taking a few thousand pictures at every angle imaginable, in Brian's opinion, the wedding party finally headed to the tent for the reception.

Melanie hurried ahead of the group and grabbed a microphone so she could introduce them to the crowd.

"Attention everyone. Thank you for joining us this evening. My name is Melanie and I'm proud to present our brand-new family: Brian and Justin Kinney, along with their children Gus Kinney, Keegan Kinney, and Jenny Rebecca Marcus-Kinney."

After hearing her say JR's last name, Brian, Justin, Gus, and JR all looked at Melanie with stunned expressions on their faces.

Brian had signed whatever he was given without really reading everything like he normally would. He didn't notice that he had signed the adoption petition along with a petition that requested JR's last name be changed.

Melanie smiled and nodded before sincerely saying to Brian, "You deserve this, Pop. She's your daughter, too."  

Brian grabbed the woman he had grown to greatly respect and gave her a tight hug.

"Thanks, Ima," he whispered to her.

JR walked over to her mother in shock. "You... you mean...?"

Brian then embraced his new daughter. "You're half mine, Princess."

He was then temporarily deafened by the excited scream that JR let loose.

Dinner was soon served, followed by toasts by the Best Men. Ted went first, and he told the story of how Brian had saved his life following his crystal meth addiction and how they became "the world's most unlikely best friends." He thanked Justin for being a great partner to Brian, giving him credit for being so patient with "that stubborn old mule."

Emmett went next and boasted about how perfect a couple Brian and Justin were. He told everyone that he always knew this day would come, even when the newlyweds themselves didn't think it would. He somehow got through his speech without any tears.

The DJ announced that it was time for Brian and Justin's first dance. The couple chose "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran for their song. It had been Daphne's favorite song at the time of her death. In fact, all of the songs that would be played that evening came from Daphne's Google Play library.

Gus was not the only Kinney who had been practicing for his wedding performance. It was Justin's idea for him and Brian to perform the elaborate dance from the song's music video**, and they had been taking lessons with a dance instructor for several weeks. The instructor was there at their wedding as a guest.

Everyone watched in awe as the newly married couple nailed the routine flawlessly, many in disbelief at seeing how limber Justin was and how perfectly the two moved together. They stole kisses every time their faces were close. The guests gave them a much-deserved standing ovation when the song ended.

Justin needed a few minutes to catch his breath and put his shoes back on, so Brian picked up the microphone and invited Debbie onto the dance floor.

"Deborah Horvath, get over here," the brunette ordered. "Many of you may not know this, but I was never very close to my real mother. She passed away a few years back, but the woman who has been like a mother to me since I was fourteen is this beautiful lady right here. She is the strongest person I've ever met, and I want to thank her for putting up with me for all these years and for being a wonderful grandmother to my kids."

"It's been my pleasure, Baby," Debbie said, tears glistening in her eyes. "Even though you are a huge pain in my ass."

The crowd laughed before the DJ played one of Debbie's favorite songs, "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores. It had been her wedding song with Carl the previous year.

Next up were Justin and Jennifer, who danced to "The Perfect Fan" by the Backstreet Boys. Both mother and son were crying throughout the song, along with many of the guests. Even Brian, who had made fun of the song before because of how overly-sentimental it was, had to fight tears at seeing the two blonds dance together.

The DJ asked that all the couples come onto the dancefloor, and they all danced along to "Love Me Like You Do" by Ellie Goulding.

A few more songs were played before the cake cutting ceremony. Justin chose the classic "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" by the Four Tops to be played while he and Brian fed each other cake. Brian smeared frosting on his husband's cheeks and nose just so he could lick it off, causing Justin to giggle.

While everyone enjoyed their cake, a few more toasts were made. Debbie, Jennifer, Cynthia, Melanie, Gus, and JR all made short speeches about how much they loved Brian and Justin and how great a couple they were. JR called her Pop a "doofus" for waiting so long to marry her Papa Sunny, making everyone laugh.

The music started up again for the guests to get up and dance. Brian and JR were dancing to "Treasure" by Bruno Mars when Emmett came running over.

"Um, Brian? I was told that there is a delivery out front. I have no idea what it could be."

Brian thanked Emmett and gathered up the members of the Britin household. They all went out to the driveway, where a brand new black Dodge Charger Hellcat was parked. The man that was dropping it off handed the keys over to Brian, along with yet another paper for him to sign.

Gus immediately went into hysterics. "Holy shit! Is that...?"

"Happy Sweet Sixteen, Sonny Boy," Brian and Justin said to their oldest child.

It was now the birthday boy's turn to scream.

Foregoing any hugs or thanks, Gus ran over to his car, which had a black and red interior, and jumped into the driver's seat.

"Can I take it for a spin?" Gus begged his parents. "Please, please, please?"

"Uh, we have like, two hundred people in our backyard right now," Justin reminded the boy.

Melanie held her hand out to Brian. "I'm sure no one will miss us."

Brian gave the keys to her, grateful that she had been teaching their son to drive for the past few months. "Be careful."

After Gus and Melanie zoomed out of the driveway, Brian, Justin, and JR began heading back toward the reception. The fathers immediately noticed that their daughter looked a bit bummed out.

"What's wrong, Princess?" Brian asked.

JR shrugged. "Nothing."

He reached down and tilted her chin up to look at him. "Are you sad that you didn't get a present today?"

In fact, the parents would often give something to JR on Gus's birthday, so she wouldn't get jealous of Gus getting all the presents.

"No," she claimed. "I mean, I did get a present today - you're my Pop now and Uncle Sunny is now my Papa, too."

"So, you don't want any actual presents?" Justin said, goading her.

She looked at him inquisitively. "Why?"

"Because we may have snuck something into your bedroom when you were in the main house getting ready before the wedding," her step-father answered.

JR tried to take off running toward the guest house, but both men grabbed her by her shoulders and calmly walked with her.

"Alright, there's one condition to getting this present," Brian said. "You can't scream."

She agreed before the three of them went into the house. The men let her lead the way into her bedroom, where she found a red and white Pembrooke Welsh Corgi puppy in a crate.

JR gasped and slapped her hands over her mouth, no doubt to keep from screaming. She then turned around and hugged her fathers in rapid succession.

"Thank you! Thank you!"

"She's ten weeks old," Justin informed JR. "We've hidden her in the basement for the past two days."

"What's her name?" JR asked, tears glistening in her eyes.

"She's yours, so you get to name her," Brian said.

She didn't even have to think about it. "Sunny!"

Brian and Justin left JR alone with her new best friend to rejoin their wedding party. She didn't even notice they were gone.


End Notes:

* “Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch


Love Me Like You Do by charming1

Two days after the wedding, Justin woke up to find packed suitcases by the bedroom door and his new husband watching him wake up.

"Brian, what's going on?"

"Well Sunshine, I hear that it's customary to go on a honeymoon after you get married, so that's what we're going to do. We need to get in the shower and get dressed. We leave in two hours, come on."

Justin rubbed his eyes. "But what about work, and Keegan, and... and everything else?"

"Theodore and Cynthia will hold down the fort in our absence, and Keegan will be taken care of by Mel, Gus, and JR. Don't worry about anything else."

Suddenly, Justin was very excited, throwing off the covers and running to the shower while asking Brian questions.

"Where are we going, how long will we be gone, why didn't you say anything before?"

Brian smiled at his new husband's eagerness. "It's a surprise, two weeks, because you were busy enough planning the wedding and I wanted to surprise you."

Once in the shower, the now very bouncy blond was trying to get answers to his questions, hoping that if he distracted his husband with sex, he could get some answers. Justin passionately kissed his man and ran his fingers through his dark hair. He next started nibbling down Brian's neck and licking the dark nipples.

Brian was moaning and hard by then, so he pressed on Justin's shoulder trying to get him to use his talented mouth on his throbbing cock. Justin knelt down, licking at the slit of Brian's cock, coaxing out the precum.

"Ah, Sunshine... suck it, please."

Being a good husband - he still could hardly believe that he was finally Brian's legal husband - Justin complied, sucking and licking up and down the steel hard pole that he loved to have in his mouth. Using all his talents, he tried to make Brian as incoherent as possible.

"Oh, Justin... oh yeah... so good... don't stop," the brunet groaned.

Finally after a few more minutes, Justin reached between Brian legs and pressed his finger right behind his balls, making Brian scream out his release.

"Yes! I love you... so much."

Justin stood up, sharing Brian's cum with him. Justin next asked a very relaxed Brian, "Where are we going?"   

Brian was familiar his blond's little trick and had been prepared for it. He held Justin's face in his hands and whispered, "That was incredible and it's still a surprise."

Justin pouted.

After a quick shower fuck, the newlyweds got washed up and out of the shower.

"Come on Sunshine, we need to say goodbye to the kids and Mel. I know how long you'll want to spend with our youngest, and the car will be here in an hour."

"Where is the car taking us, Hubs?" Justin asked, batting his long eyelashes.

"To the airport, and that's the last question I'm answering about the trip," Brian told him, kissing his husband's nose.

"Well, I'll find out when we get to the airport," the smirking blond answered as he pulled on a pair of jeans. "They have to tell you where the plane is going."

Brian just smiled, knowing that it was going to be a very long day with his overly-curious husband.

Once they were dressed, the newlyweds took their luggage downstairs where Melanie and the kids were waiting with a quick breakfast for the departing couple. The new puppy was napping at JR's feet.

"Papa, you're going to have so much fun on your trip," JR happily told her step-father. "I wish we could come with you."

Melanie snorted. "Trust me Baby, your dads wouldn't make you feel very welcome."

"Do you know where we're going, Beautiful?" Justin asked JR, raising his eyebrows.

"Sure. Pop told us, but we're not allowed to tell you because it's a surprise. He spent a lot of time planning this, and we don't want to spoil it," she answered, grinning.

Justin looked at his new husband, who was standing behind JR and enjoying a cup of coffee. "She sure is your daughter."

"My little pride and joy," Brian answered before kissing the top of JR's head.

JR beamed, just like she did every time she remembered that she now officially had a father who loved her. "Yeah, you're very lucky to have me," the spunky pre-teen shot back.

Justin turned to his older son, silently begging him to give up the surprise.

Gus shook his head. "Sorry, Papa J. Pouting and puppy dog eyes might work for your little clone, but you're supposed to be an adult. You'll know where you're going by the end of the day, and I'm sure you'll last that long."

Melanie chimed in before Justin tried his luck with her. "All I will say is that you have an amazing husband and you will love what he has planned for you. Be happy, don't worry about the kids, and have a fabulous time. Remember that we all love you."

Justin smiled, secretly admiring the loyalty of his family members. He picked up his youngest son from the high chair and held him tightly.

"You be a good boy for Ima, Bubby, and Sissy, okay?" he said to his little blond angel, kissing his curly head. "Papa loves you so much."

"What are the rules?" Brian asked JR, gesturing to the little ball of fur on the floor.

"I am responsible for Sunny's messes," she answered. "Take her outside every hour and praise her when she does her business out there. Don't let her try to go up or down the stairs yet. Make sure she only chews on her toys."

"That's right, and?"

JR sighed. "Use the pooper scooper."

"And what's your rule?" Justin asked Brian's clone.

"Stay out of your room, because there's no pot in there."

Justin handed the baby to Gus and kissed everyone else goodbye before following his stud out the door and into the stretch limo.

Since it would be a long ride to the Pittsburgh airport, Brian figured he would distract his sexy blond from asking more questions with one of their favorite activities.

After raising the privacy partition behind the driver, the brunet knelt in front of his husband and started caressing his face. He kissed the strawberry lips slowly, running his tongue lightly along them. Justin opened his mouth and captured Brian's tongue, nipping at it lightly before sucking on it. Needing more contact, Justin scooted forward on the seat, wrapping his legs around the older man. Their hands were grasping each other's heads, running fingers through silky hair.

Both men were now hard and leaking. Brian pulled back, looking into the eyes of his young husband, dark with lust. He reached for the zipper of Justin's jeans, lowering it slowly. Reaching inside, Brian pulled out the swollen cock as he lowered his head for a taste of his blond.

As if they hadn't been going at it constantly for the past two days like a couple of sex-starved monkeys, Justin moaned loudly and pushed his hips up, trying to get more of his cock into Brian's mouth. The brunet complied, taking the hard cock all the way into his throat and swallowing around the thick, pink head. Justin gripped Brian's hair in his fists and arched his back, groaning as he shot a huge load a minute later.

"God, you're so good at that," Justin said breathlessly. "I love you. I need you to fuck me now, please."

"Anytime, Hubby," Brian said as he removed Justin's pants, since they were blocking him from being in that delicious ass. He got rid of the rest of their clothes while he was at it. Once the offending garments were removed, Brian scooted Justin's ass forward to the edge of the seat. He was at the perfect height to fuck his blond in that position.

Grabbing his carry on bag from the floor next to him, Brian found the bottle of lube and squeezed some onto his fingers. He ran his index finger slowly around the rim of Justin's rosebud.

"Come on Brian, I need you inside me now," Justin demanded.

Being the loving husband that he was, Brian complied, inserting two fingers and scissoring them to make his entry comfortable for Justin.

The twink quickly grew impatient. "Enough, please, just lube your cock and fuck me, dammit."

Brian did as requested as blond furry legs wrapped around his waist. He claimed Justin's swollen lips as he slowly pushed into his new husband, both men moaning at the connection.

Brian started a slow rhythm, enjoying the feeling of being inside the man who was his home and his world. Justin was keening at the feeling of being filled by his lover. They rocked together for quite a while, stopping when either one got too close, their lips never parting.

Finally they had no choice but to speed up, the urge to finish being too strong. Brian grabbed onto Justin's hips, holding him tight as he pumped his load deep inside his beautiful blond husband. Justin came all over their bellies. They held each other as they got their breathing and heart rates back to normal.

Luckily Brian had put some baby wipes and a hand towel in the carry on, so they cleaned up and put their clothes back on.

The driver called a few minutes later and said that they would be arriving at the airport in ten minutes.

Justin was watching out the window and saw that they had passed the terminal for Liberty Air. They were now headed toward the private plane hangers.

"Brian, where is he taking us? I thought our jet was in New York for maintenance."

"Patience, young one, we'll be there soon," Brian quipped, smirking at the blond.

Justin rolled his eyes and shook his head, annoyed that Brian seemed to be having too much fun with this surprise. Looking around, Justin realized that they were pulling right onto the tarmac. Damn, Brian really did plan on keeping their destination a secret until they got there. Since there wasn't much he could do about it, Justin figured he might as well relax.

When the limo finally stopped moving, Justin found that they were beside a rather large plane, the kind that could fly a long distance before refueling. The destination possibilities were endless in a plane like that. Brian had been watching Justin like a hawk since he had woken up, so he couldn't even sneak a peek into the suitcases to see what kind of clothing they would need on their trip.

Justin was awestruck once they boarded the plane. It looked more like the inside of a luxurious apartment than the inside of an airplane. There was a huge sectional sofa, several comfortable-looking chairs, a bar, and an eating area with a large table. There was a wall and door separating the front of the cabin from the back. All of the window shades were down, shielding his view from the outside.

"Go ahead and look around Sunshine, we're the only passengers."

"All of this for just the two of us?" Justin questioned.

"Well, there's the pilot, the co-pilot, and the attendant; but yes, it's just for the two of us. It's on loan from Remson Pharmaceuticals. Old Larry Remson bought it last year to impress his new twenty year-old wife."

The perky blonde stewardess appeared from the front of the plane and said, "Good morning, gentleman, I'm Jacqueline and I'll be taking care of you today. We're ready whenever you are, and we have priority take-off. You'll need to be seated with your seatbelts fastened until we reach cruising altitude."

"We'll settle in now," Brian answered. "I'd like to get going right away."

Justin spoke up. "How long is the flight?"

"It will be several hours sir, but you should be able to find things to keep you occupied during our flight. The televisions have a large library of movies," Jacqueline answered, disappearing into the front of the plane again.

"Sneaky Sunshine, but it won't work," Brian remarked. "Some people understand the concept of a surprise. No one on this plane is going to tell you where we're going."

"Oh well, it was worth a shot," the blond replied, shaking his head. "What'll you bet that old Remson has fucked pretty little Jacqueline?"

"That's probably future ex-wife number five," Brian guessed.

Once they had reached 41,000 feet, the men were told they could walk around and explore the cabin. Justin remembered that he had not checked the door at the back of the seating area and went to open it.

"Holy shit! There's a bedroom back here."

Brian chuckled. "I wondered how long it was going to take you to find it. Do you want to try it out?"

"Hell yes, I want to try it out! How often do you get to be in the Mile High Club without having to fuck in the toilet? Remember the first time we did it on a plane, going out to Vegas? It was so cramped and turbulent, it was like trying to fuck in a barrel plunging down Niagara Falls."

The blond headed straight for the queen-sized bed, tossing off his clothes as he went. Brian followed, eager to lay down and have some more Sunshine. Once they were naked and on the very comfortable bed, Brian climbed on top of his husband, grabbing his wrists and holding them above his head as he licked and kissed him hungrily.

Justin responded by raising his hips and grinding their erections together. He then wrapped his ankles around Brian's thighs and quickly flipped them over in a well-practiced move, silently telling his older lover that he would be taking the lead this time. Brian responded by spreading his legs apart.

Justin scooted down until he could hold Brian's legs up to get at the tight ass of the man he loved. Starting slowly, he licked softly at first, running his tongue around the rim, getting it good and wet.

Brian moaned and arched his back. "More, please. I need more."

Justin stiffened his tongue and stabbed it in as far as he could. He added a couple of fingers to loosen Brian up.

Brian reached under the pillow and grabbed the bottle of lube. It paid to think ahead, and Brian had made sure that everything would be just where they needed it to be during their long flight. Justin saw what Brian was holding and held his hand out.

Brian squirted some lube onto Justin's hand. Justin moved his mouth to the leaking slit of his husband's cock and licked off the precum gathering there as he lubed himself up.  

Once they were both ready, Justin put his arms under Brian's knees and lined up with the hot hole. Staring into each other's eyes, Justin slowly slipped his huge cock into his husband and both men groaned. Justin rocked slowly, letting Brian feel every inch of him.

They kissed and caressed each other as they made love. Neither man was in any hurry to end their connection. They moaned and kissed erotically, licking and nipping at each other's lips and tongue.

After pausing several times to draw out their union, Justin finally started nailing Brian's prostate on every instroke, causing the brunet to raise his hips and beg for more.

"Harder... faster," Brian panted.

Justin complied and they exploded together, screaming each other's names. Staying connected, the men lightly dozed for an hour before getting up and cleaning off.

When they headed back out to the seating area, Jacqueline was waiting for them and asked if they would like something to eat or drink.

"Yes, we would like our meal now, and some champagne," Brian answered the pink-cheeked lady.

Justin could only smile at her, realizing that everyone on the plane had to have heard them in the bedroom, since they had made no effort to keep it down. Jacqueline soon served them salmon with fingerling potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Brian handed Justin a jacket after the plane landed. "Here Sunshine, you're going to need this. It's about fifty degrees outside."

"Are you going to tell me where we are yet, Brian?"

"One more car ride, Mon Amour, and then all your questions will be answered.".

Brian quickly ushered Justin into a limo before the blond could see where they were. The ride was short and Brian distracted Justin by kissing him, not allowing him to look out the car windows.

The limo pulled to a stop and the driver opened the door. Justin quickly realized that they were at a cruise port surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and he looked at Brian questioningly. Brian just smiled and took Justin's hand, leading him to the VIP boarding area and telling him that he would answer all his questions once they got to their room. Justin nodded, not sure what to say and worrying that if he did try to speak, he would start crying.

A VIP host showed them to their room, and the plaque on the door said Platinum Honeymoon Suite. Brian picked up his husband and carried him into the suite, depositing him on the sofa in the sitting room, which had a walk-out deck.

Brian sat on the sofa next to his young husband and noticed the tears streaming down his face.

"How did you...?" Justin sniffled.

"How did I know you wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise?" Brian asked.

Justin nodded, the tears coming faster now.  

"Well, this trip was supposed to occur fifteen years ago. I had asked Daphne if there was anywhere special she knew that you wanted to go, and she said you wanted to take an Alaskan cruise, that you wanted to be able to sketch the whales, bears, and just the beauty of the landscape here. It was going to be your high school graduation present, although I wouldn't have booked us into the honeymoon suite, of course. I just wanted to do something special for you, and then..."

Brian reached up, trying to dry the tears that did not seem to want to stop. "Is this okay, Sunshine? If you don't want to do this, we can get off the ship before we leave port. We can go anywhere else you want, anywhere in the world. I just wanted to make you happy."

Justin smiled. "Oh, Brian, I am happy... I'm thrilled and amazed by you every day. I love you so much, and I'm happy that Daphne had a hand in this, too. It almost feels like she's here with us. I'll always miss her, but she gave us the most amazing gift before she left: our beautiful son. This is going to be a wonderful trip. Why wouldn't you have booked us into this suite before?"

"Twat, I could barely admit to myself how I felt about you; what would you have thought if I had led you to a honeymoon suite back then?" Brian replied, tickling his blond.

"I would have thought that you soooooo loved me!" Justin answered, laughing. "That Brian Kinney gave a shit!"

When they had finally calmed down, Justin was full of questions about the trip. First thing he wanted to know was if Brian had packed any sketchbooks and pencils. When Brian told him that he had brought a dozen sketchbooks, a whole box of pencils, a box of charcoals, and a new twenty-four megapixel digital camera so that he could get the colors just right, Justin was thrilled. He launched himself at his man, kissing and hugging him.

"You're the best husband in the whole fucking world!" Justin told him.

"I know, and lucky you, I'm all yours."

Justin stared at Brian before asking, "Are you happy that we're here, in Alaska of all places? I'm sure you'd much rather be honeymooning on the French Riviera, or Maui, or Venice, or..."  

Brian shut him up with a kiss. "I've known for years how badly you've wanted to get married, so I wanted to give you the honeymoon of your dreams. If you're happy, I'm happy."

"Brian, I love that you go to such lengths to make me happy, even though it isn't necessary. Just having your ring on my finger is enough. I hope that one day I can do something like this for you."

"Justin, the fact that you love me and put up with me is more than I had ever hoped I would have in my life. You are an amazing man, and you bring me such joy every single day. I don't need anything but your love... but of course, our three wonderful kids are icing on the cake. Now, why don't you have a look around the suite? I'm just going to sit here and relax for a few minutes as we ship out."

Justin gave himself a tour of the suite, which consisted of the sitting room and a separate bedroom with a king sized bed that was covered with a thick comforter and a lot of pillows. He noticed a chilled bottle of champagne on the nightstand. There was a covered dish next to it that Justin was hoping contained strawberries. Lifting the lid, he was happy to see that he was right, since he had plans for those.

When Justin was finished inspecting the suite, which also included a very nice bathroom with a jetted tub, he noticed that Brian was still sitting on the sofa, so he figured that he should get started on the honeymoon stuff.

Justin stripped off his clothes and moved some pillows out of the way so he could sit back against the headboard. Licking his hand, he started stroking his already rigid cock, pinching his nipples with his free hand. It felt so good that he couldn't help but moan loudly.

Brian, hearing what sounded to him like something he should be included in, walked over and leaned against the doorway. He licked his lips and drawled, "Sunshine, you realize that I could help you with that, don't you? Although you do seem to be doing fine by yourself."

"Well, I wanted to feed you strawberries with cream, but there wasn't any cream... ohhhh... so I figured I'd make my own," the very horny blond replied, moaning erotically.

Brian knew that if he just stood there and watched, his pants were going to get very sticky, very quickly. He peeled off his clothes, keeping eye contact with his young husband who was leaking precum and using it as lube, occasionally licking it off of his fingers.

Once he was naked, Brian stalked over to the bed and sat. He removed Justin's hand from his dark pink cock and replaced it with his, then wrapped Justin's hand around his own leaking cock.

"It will taste even better with cream from both of us," Brian commented. "Get on your knees, we'll need to aim".

They knelt, facing each other with the bowl between them, stroking each other's cocks. Finally Justin couldn't take it any longer.

"I need to come, Brian... please... ahhhh... so close."

"Me too, come for me... now," Brian groaned.

They came together, covering the strawberries in hot cum. Brian then grabbed the bowl so they wouldn't knock it over and sat it on the nightstand. The lovers collapsed on the bed, kissing and holding each other. Once their hearts calmed down, they ate the cum-coated strawberries and toasted each other with champagne.

Later that evening, the new husbands enjoyed dinner on the upper deck, talking quietly when they noticed an older heterosexual couple glancing at them. After a few minutes, the male half came walking over. Brian stood up and protectively blocked Justin as the man stopped at their table.

"Are you the couple staying in the Platinum Honeymoon Suite?" the man asked.

"Yes, we are, why?" Brian responded suspiciously.

"My wife and I had tried to get that suite for our anniversary but were told it was booked. We're in a smaller suite down the hall and saw you checking in earlier. We were just watching the two of you and talking about how much in love you look. We are so happy that you got that suite, and we just wanted you to know that."


Rock the Boat by charming1

Once the newlyweds got back to their room after dinner, Justin told Brian to sit on the sofa and wait so he could get things ready in the bedroom. He noticed that Brian had brought a few toys for the trip when he had unpacked earlier, and he wanted to do something special.

"Alright, stud," Justin called out a few minutes later. "Get your sexy ass in here, naked."

Just the tone of the younger man's voice made Brian tingle. He quickly stripped and entered the bedroom to find his husband wearing nothing but a white leather mask and thong, his favorite color for Justin to wear when he was playing Dom. The blond was holding a red and black riding crop. Attached to the bedposts were four red silk ties. Brian started to leak as soon as he took in everything.

"Lay on the bed on your stomach," Justin ordered, his voice authoritative. "Do you want a cock ring? You're not allowed to come without permission."

Brian licked his lips. "No, I don't need it."

"Okay, do you remember your safe word?"

"Yes, I remember it."

Brian got on the bed, and Justin tied the silk scarves around his wrists and ankles. Looking at his husband laid out for him made Justin's cock drip in anticipation.

Standing at the side of the bed, Justin bent over and kissed Brian's neck. "I got so hot when I saw what you had packed, I almost wanted to skip dinner," he whispered huskily in his husband's ear. "All I could think about when we were eating was how sexy you would look tied up, waiting for me to use this crop on your delicious ass."

Brian moaned. "Give it to me."

Justin started whacking the brunet's tight ass with the crop. Brian was moaning erotically and raising his hips up to meet every hit.

He stopped to run the crop down the length of Brian's spine, admiring the dimples above his ass before stopping at his tailbone.  "Do you want more... harder? Tell me what you want."

"Harder, mark me... please."

Justin struck him harder, marking his ass with hot, red streaks. Brian screamed into the pillow, hoping that no one outside of their room thought he was being murdered or something. When Justin was finished, he soothed the marks with his tongue, which caused more moaning from the older man.

Justin untied the scarves from the bed, telling Brian to turn on his back so that he could finish what he started. Once Brian was comfortable, Justin again picked up the crop and brought it down lightly on Brian's thighs. Brian's huge cock was straining and leaking on his belly, his back arching up. Justin could tell that Brian would need to come soon, his cock looking very purple and swollen.

Slipping off the thong and mask, Justin straddled his lover. He quickly lubed Brian up, careful not to stroke him too much. Grasping the glorious cock, Justin held it steady as he lowered himself onto his husband, moaning erotically at the burn.

Brian immediately grabbed Justin's thighs after he was fully seated. "If you move at all, it will be over. The things you do to me, Sunshine... you are so fucking hot. You only get better."

Justin could feel Brian's cock throbbing in his ass, and he smiled. "I love you so much, Brian."

They stared into each other's eyes as Justin gave Brian a minute to relax. Once they were both a little calmer, Justin started riding his beautiful stud slowly, building their pleasure. Every time one of them got close, they would pause, linking hands and kissing each other. After drawing it out for almost an hour, they exploded together, shouting each other's names and words of love.

They fell asleep wrapped in each other's arms.   

The next morning the men showered and dressed before heading to breakfast. Justin later grabbed some pencils and a sketch pad, and Brian took the camera. They walked around the deck of the large ship, looking for a good place to sit and watch for anything interesting.

They found seats on the bow, which gave them a great vantage point. According to their itinerary, they were passing by the Hubbard Glacier that day, which was made of 1,350 square miles of blue ice. Justin started sketching the glacier and Brian walked around a bit, using the high-resolution camera to capture several shots of the glacier and surrounding mountains that Justin would love when they were uploaded later.   

Justin woke up early the next morning, excitedly anticipating the tour they were booked for that day in Icy Strait Point while the ship was docked. It was early enough for them to make love before they needed to shower and eat breakfast. Brian rode his husband's substantial morning erection. Justin worked Brian's cock when he got close, catching the creamy nectar in his mouth.

They had a quick breakfast and waited at the meeting area for the guide and the other people taking the tour. While they were waiting, Justin scrolled through pictures of the kids on his phone. Justin, as thrilled as he was about their honeymoon, still worried about being away from his son after never spending more than one night apart since he was born.

When Brian noticed his Sunshine looking sad, he put his hands on the blond's cheeks and kissed the end of his nose. "You're missing Little Sunny, aren't you?"

Justin nodded. "Two weeks is a long time to be away. I'm afraid he won't remember us."

Brian chuckled. "Sunshine, Keegan will not forget his daddies in two weeks. When we get back to the room, we can video chat with Gus and ask him to get Keegan so you can talk to him. How does that sound?"

Justin looked into his husband's eyes and smiled his Sunshine smile. "That would be great. I miss him so much."

"Me, too... he's an awesome kid. Gus was a good baby, but I didn't ever take the time to get to know him when he was little like I have with Keegan. If I knew that babies could be as cool as him, maybe I would have wanted us to have one sooner."

Justin was very surprised to hear Brian say that, but their tour began before he could question him on it.

They decided to just take the camera on their tour since Justin couldn't sketch while walking. Justin had loved the pictures Brian took of the glacier the day before. He had taken a photography class in college as an elective and had a great eye and steady hands.

Justin had Brian take more pictures during their tour, which included an ATV ride and ziplining 300 feet above the forest. He had gotten shots of a mother grizzly showing her cubs how to catch salmon, wolf cubs playing together, and caribou running through the trees. Justin was thinking of painting a wildlife series for a future show and couldn't wait to transfer the images onto canvas.

The newlyweds dragged themselves back to their room later that afternoon, exhausted by their busy day. Brian wanted to take a joint shower, but Justin was eager to chat with the kids. The daily wifi rate on the ship was insanely high, but they paid for it in order to stay connected to the family back home.

Justin got onto his laptop and made a video call to Gus. The teen answered it on his smart phone a few seconds later, never too far from his laptop, tablet, or phone. Justin could see from the background that Gus was sitting in the game room in the basement, probably playing on his XBox.

"Hey, Papa J!" Gus yelled, as if Justin would have trouble hearing him because of the long distance.

Justin turned the speaker down as Brian sat next to him on the couch. "Hey, Gussy."

Brian and Justin attempted to tell their oldest child about what they had seen on their trip so far, but the boy was too busy rambling on about how awesome his new car was and how he couldn't wait to take his driver's test in a few weeks to get his license.

"Ima won't let me take her over seventy, but what's the point of having a supercharged Hemi V8 if I can't stretch her legs?" the teen complained. "Speed limits are so lame."

"Have you named her yet?" Brian asked, still in disbelief that he had a child old enough to legally drive.

"Rebecca," Gus said proudly. "She just feels like a Rebecca. JR claims that I stole her middle name, but I actually named the car after Rebecca Romijn. She's so fucking sexy... the woman and the car."

The men both nodded their heads in agreement. Sure, they were gay, but they could recognize a sexy woman when they saw one.

"Well, I'd love to hear more about Rebecca, but I'd like to see Keegan before he goes to bed," Justin said.

Gus carried the phone upstairs into the kitchen, where Melanie and JR were making some cookies. The girls said hello to Brian and Justin before Gus turned the phone for them to see Keegan. Justin's mini-me was sitting in his high chair having his evening bottle.

"There's my big boy!" Justin called out to his youngest son.

Keegan smiled at hearing his Papa's voice and seeing his face on the phone's screen. "Ah!" the eight month-old screamed.

Gus ducked behind the high chair while holding the phone in front of Keegan. "‘Ello, male parental units," he said in a terrible fake British accent. "‘Tis I, Sir Keegan of Britin."

Brian and Justin both laughed.

"Hello, Sir Keegan," Brian answered. "How unfortunate that your accent doesn't match your Irish name."

"Top o' the evenin' to ya, lads!" Gus said, switching over to a thick Irish accent. "I ‘ave to say, you two look positively knackered! Been doin' a bit o' snoggin', ‘ave ya?"

The men laughed again, causing Keegan to laugh and squeal happily. Melanie and JR could also be heard laughing in the background.

"Are you having a good time with your big brother, Sir Keegan?" Justin asked.

"Oh, Sir Gus and I have been havin' a grand ol' time while you and Da have been on holiday. He changed my nappy six times today!"

"Tell Sir Gus ‘thank you' for us," Brian said.

"Right-o, mates!"

The fathers were wiping tears from their eyes at that point, they were laughing so hard.

Everyone said their goodbyes before Justin closed his laptop. "Oh, that kid is a goofball."

"He must get that from you, because his three other parents are lame as fuck," Brian said.

"Yeah, you're the lamest dad ever, buying your son a bitchin' car for his sixteenth birthday and buying your daughter the puppy she's always wanted," Justin agreed sarcastically. "You have an amazing personality, a great sense of humor, and you love your family more than life itself. You adopted two kids that aren't even biologically yours, purely out of love for them. Who the fuck would want you as their dad? I feel sorry for those poor kids."

"You little smartass," Brian growled before attacking Justin's lips.

After making out for a while, Justin remembered that he wanted to explore some of the shops on board before dinner. The ship was like a small city and he loved to go to little shops while on vacation, unlike Brian who only wanted to shop if it was for designer purchases.

"What am I supposed to do while you burn up the credit card, Sunshine?"

"Relax, read, surf the web, watch a movie. Hey, you could always take a nap so that you won't be too tired later, old man," Justin said, giggling from the doorway and then ducking before the pillow that Brian lobbed at him smashed into his face.

"Fine, just leave me here all alone. I'll find something to do," Brian said, pretending to pout. "Maybe I won't even be here when you get back."

"Love you, stud. I won't be too long," the blond said with a smile.

Brian lounged in bed with a book for a little bit before he glanced over at the suitcase, deciding  to look through the toy bag and plan the evening's sexcapade. He found the Aneros, his favorite prostate massager. He didn't know how much longer Justin was going to be and decided not to wait.

Using lots of lube, Brian inserted the Aneros and put on a leather cock ring. He slowly rocked his hips, letting the sensations build slowly as he flexed his pelvic muscles. By the time Justin returned to the room, Brian was floating and his cock was an angry purple without even having touched it.

Justin heard his husband moaning as soon as he entered the suite and got hard instantly. He knew by the sounds coming from the bedroom what Brian was doing, having caught him using the massager more than once before. He started tearing off his clothes and was naked by the time he got to the bedroom doorway. Seeing his husband so out of it with pleasure almost made him shoot his load before he even reached the bed.

He quickly grabbed the lube and opened himself up. Justin then lowered himself onto Brian's throbbing rod. Brian only realized Justin was there when the blond leaned forward to capture his raspberry-colored lips for a kiss. They both moaned at the sensation of being one.

"I was hoping you'd join me eventually," Brian panted.

"I wouldn't have left if I'd known about the solo show you were performing," Justin answered.

Justin rocked on his husband's cock for a minute before reaching back and unsnapping the cock ring, causing Brian to scream and shoot a huge load inside of the blond, triggering his own orgasm. Staying joined, the couple kissed for several more minutes before it was time to clean up and go to dinner.

The newlyweds continued to enjoy their honeymoon over the next several days. They took in more sights from the ship, Justin sketching and Brian snapping pictures. There were more great photo opportunities during land excursions in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and Vancouver, Canada. Brian made sure that they worked off all the calories that they shoveled in at the restaurants and buffets, taking turns topping each night so that Justin would still be able to walk the next day.

The two weeks flew by and soon it was their last night on the ship before disembarking in Vancouver the following morning. They made love slowly, looking into each other's eyes and seeing the pure love that was always there between them.

They cuddled after they were done, sleepily whispering to each other.

"Brian, this has been the most wonderful honeymoon ever. I love you so much. Thank you for surprising me with this. I'll always remember it."

"Justin, you are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. Before you, I was just existing. You and your unconditional love finally made me live the life that I deserve. I love you so much. I'm glad you've had such a great time."    

The Payback by charming1

On their way to the airport after getting off the ship, Justin was leaning on Brian in the back of the car, thinking about their trip.

"Brian, are we flying home on the Remson plane?"

"Yes, unless you don't want to. I could call and get seats on Liberty Air, if you would rather."

"No. I loved that plane, especially the back of it, with the comfy bed."

"Good, because it's my turn to top on the flight home," Brian said with a smirk.

Wanting to save their energy for the flight, the couple just snuggled on the way to the airport.

Once they boarded the plane, Justin glanced toward the bedroom.

"You know we have to be seated until we reach cruising altitude. I'm sure you can last a little longer," Brian told his anxious husband.

Actually Brian was glad that he had a little more time to think about the discussion that he wanted to have with his young husband sometime during the flight. He was hoping that Justin would agree with his request.

An hour later, the couple was slowly making love in the big bed, both trying to hold off their orgasms as long as possible. Finally they gave in to the pleasure and came together explosively.

Lying in each other's arms afterward, Brian held his husband tightly as he started to speak. "Sunshine, I've been thinking about something and I wanted to ask you... how would you feel about... about having another baby?"

Justin pulled out of Brian's arms and sat up quickly. "What?"

"Well, I was thinking that if we had another baby, Keegan would have someone close to his age to play with and grow up with. Plus, I really like having kids around, more than I ever thought I would."

"Phoenix is only one year older than Keegan; they're the same age, as far as their developmental skills go," Justin pointed out.

"I know, but Phoenix doesn't live with us, and I'm sure that Ted and Blake want to keep their son at their house. Our new baby would be living in the same house as Keegan, a live-in playmate for him. Gus and JR would love a new little sibling."

Justin scratched his head, one of his nervous tics. "Have you really thought this out? I mean, Keegan is still so young. Sure, he seems fairly easy now, but just wait until he starts walking and potty training, while simultaneously dealing with a new baby..."

"Yes, I have thought this out. Have you ever known me to be spontaneous? Shit, it took me sixteen years to marry you. I've been thinking about this since we got engaged. That's part of the reason why I asked Deb and Carl to move out to Britin. Their cottage will be done in a few weeks, so they'll be there every day to help us with Keegan and our new son or daughter. I told Deb that I want more kids and she was thrilled. I'd really like to have a baby with you, Sunshine, one that was ours from the very beginning. We would make sure ahead of time that the surrogate would want to give up her parental rights, so we don't go through another custody battle. Think about it, please."

Justin smiled at his husband and wondered if this amazing man would ever stop surprising him. "I will definitely think about it, Brian. I would love to just say yes, but give me some time, okay? It's a really big decision."

Brian smiled. "Okay, I'll let you think about it."

From the look on Justin's face, Brian figured that another baby would be all Justin would think about until he realized they should do it.

The rest of the flight home was uneventful. Justin was seriously considering Brian's proposal and trying to come up with any logical reason why they should not add another child to their family.


Brian and Justin dragged themselves into Britin at almost midnight, exhausted from their full day of flying after their long vacation. All they wanted to do was go upstairs, check on Keegan, and go to bed, but Melanie stopped them when they walked through the front door, her tablet in her hands.

"Holy fuck, you guys, did you hear what happened?" the petite brunette nearly yelled.

"Nice to see you too, Mel," Justin cracked. "You make us feel so welcome to be back home."

"Did we hear what?" Brian asked in a stage-whisper, mindful of the sleeping children upstairs, unlike her.

Melanie was almost bouncing, as if she had been drinking way too much coffee in order to wait up for them. "You haven't looked at the local news, or gotten any texts, or..."

"Mel, what is it?" Justin questioned, a yawn escaping.

She turned her tablet around and shoved it in their faces. "‘Man Attacked by Jealous Husband'! At first I was like, ‘Wait, was he attacked by his jealous husband or someone else's jealous husband, but then I read it and..."

Melanie's voice faded as the men huddled together to read the news article.

"Curtis was attacked by one of his whores' husbands?" Justin said, his eyes wide in surprise.

"Yep," Melanie said, pulling the tablet away before either of them could finish reading the article. "He was leaving work yesterday when this huge man beat the shit out of him. Curtis has been waiting tables at Applebees since being fired from the hospital after I turned him in for dating his intern. There were a few witnesses in the parking lot, and they told the cops that this man was yelling at Curtis about not letting him get away with fucking his wife and that he was going to make sure Curtis would never fuck anyone again. The man had Curtis on the ground, kicking him in the balls before three men were able to pull him away."

The newlyweds both cringed, feeling sympathy pain in their three balls between them.

"I hate that motherfucker, but ouch," Justin said.

Melanie chuckled. "It couldn't have happened to a bigger asshole."


Brian and Justin had been home from their honeymoon for about a week when Brian was informed by his assistant, a cute little twink named Joey, that Amanda Crawford was in the Kinnetik lobby. Brian told Joey to let Justin know, and once his husband had joined him, Brian called for Amanda to come in. Justin, ever the gracious host, greeted her first.

"Hi, Amanda," he said, shaking her hand warmly.

"Hello, Mr. Taylor. I'd like to speak to you and Mr. Kinney, if I could."

Justin smiled. "Actually, Brian and I are both ‘Mr. Kinney' now. You can call us by our first names, to make it easier."

"Oh yeah, you guys got married recently, didn't you?" Amanda recalled. "Congratulations."

Brian stood proudly next to his husband. "It's nice to see you again, Amanda. Would you like some coffee or something?"

"Coffee would be nice, thank you, Brian."

Brian had Joey bring in some fresh coffee, then the three adults sat at the conference table.

Amanda spoke first. "I just wanted to come and thank both of you in person, and ask why you did it."

Brian rolled in his lips before saying, "We didn't have anything to do with that guy kicking Curtis's ass."

"No, of course you didn't! The guy that attacked him is married to a heart surgeon at the hospital, and Curtis has been fucking her for years, according to breakroom gossip. Apparently she never told Curtis that her husband is built like a gorilla on steroids. They were still seeing each other even after Curtis was fired, and the husband somehow found out. Curtis totally deserved that, if not worse for what he put you guys through with that stupid lawsuit.

"I'm talking about the money. I mean, who else would have anonymously shelled out thousands of dollars to pay off all eight years of my student loans? I nearly shit my pants when I received the letter from the bursar's office. I even needed a couple of days to recover from the shock before I could come here to thank you."

"Oh, yeah, that," Brian answered casually. "We just wanted to thank you for what you did during the trial. You didn't have to help; in fact, you stepped up and did the right thing without asking for anything in return. You knew that we have money and could have tried to extort us in exchange for your testimony, but you didn't. You were even risking your own future by confessing to your affair with Curtis. You could have been expelled. We just wanted to show you our appreciation. This way you can start your career after you graduate medical school next May without that debt hanging over your head."

"Are you sure? It's a lot of money," Amanda said hesitantly.

"We insist," Justin said. "You're not the first person that we've sent to college; in fact, Brian paid for my education, twice. All we ask in exchange is that you maintain that you keep your grades up and not sleep with any more doctors, at least until after you're a doctor, too."

Amanda smiled gratefully, blinking back tears. "I promise. I was afraid that I would be thrown out of medical school for confessing my relationship with Curtis, but I couldn't have lived with myself if he had gotten custody of your son knowing that I could have done something to help. I hated seeing what he was doing to your family, when he didn't even want the baby and only wanted the money from Daphne's life insurance. After Ms. Marcus filed the complaint with the hospital against Curtis, I got swept up in his investigation. I explained to the board of directors that Curtis could be very intimidating and that I was worried he would fail me if I refused his advances. They were surprisingly understanding and let me stay for my final year, in exchange for writing letters of apology to the head of orthopedics and the director of the internship program."

"We may have sent a letter to the director of the hospital back in August saying that we were going to donate a nice little chunk of change to the hospital, and we may have also mentioned your name," Brian confessed.

Justin bumped Brian's shoulder, silently pleading with him to shut up. "We were already planning on making a donation, after the wonderful care they gave Keegan. Also, we know how important the hospital was to Daphne, since that's where she went to medical school, too."

"How is Keegan?" Amanda asked.

Justin, the proud papa, pulled out his cell phone and showed Amanda tons of pictures of his precious son. She soon had to leave to go to a lecture.

"Thank you so much, again," Amanda said, this time giving both men hugs.

"If either of us ever needs a joint replacement in the future, we'll give you a call," Brian said.

After she was gone, Justin looked at Brian. "You're a good man, Mr. Kinney."

"So are you, Mr. Kinney," Brian replied, giving his husband a kiss. "So, um... have you thought about what I asked you on the plane?"

Justin smiled. "Yes, I have."

Brian waited a few seconds before asking, "And...?"

"... and I say ‘yes.' I'd love to give Gus, JR, and Keegan a new little brother or sister."

Brian called Joey and told him to cancel his lunch meeting so they could celebrate.


After winning Justin's custody case back in May, Melanie had set about establishing her own legal practice. Brian and Justin offered to loan her some money to rent some office space in Pittsburgh and hire a staff, but she refused, wanting to go at it on her own. She used her half of the money received from the sale of the Toronto home to buy Debbie's house, which she and Carl had since moved out of in order to move to the newly-constructed cottage at Britin, and turn it into an office. Melanie had acquired some clients from the LGBT community along with working as a public defender. She was able to hire a paralegal, a nice lady named Katie.  

Melanie was in her new office, Debbie and Carl's old bedroom, when Katie called her.

"Mel, there's a Dr. Anderson here. He doesn't have an appointment, but he insists on seeing you immediately. He claims you know him."

She snorted out an amused chuckle. "What the fuck... alright, send him up."

"Um... I don't think he'll be able to handle the stairs, because of his injuries. He barely got up the porch steps. We really ought to put in a ramp outside, especially if you plan to take on more personal injury cases."

"That's a good idea. I'll come down in a minute to see what the hell he wants. I'm sure it will be amusing."

In the waiting room stood Curtis Anderson, looking like he had come in after riding a horse all day, a grimace on his face. It had been a month since the attack, but he was still recovering.

Fighting the urge to laugh at the obviously hurting man, Melanie asked, "What are you doing here, Curtis?"

"I need a good lawyer. I'm going to sue the son of a bitch that did this to me for everything he has. He ruined my life."

"Well, good luck finding one," she said with a smile.

"Oh, come on, Melanie," Curtis said, turning on the charm. "We can leave the past in the past in order to work together. Justin got to keep the kid and live happily ever after with Brian in that big-ass house of theirs. You'll get like, forty percent of whatever I win in the lawsuit, right? You really can't afford to turn away clients while you're still building your practice."

"My rate is actually thirty-five percent with a contingency fee arrangement. You may actually have a winnable case, but I will not work for you. I can turn down whoever the fuck I want... that's the beauty of running a solo practice."

"I can never have sex, ever again!" Curtis screamed. "That bastard caused so much trauma to my testicles and perineum, my urologist said I may never be able to get an erection again, even with Viagra or a penile pump! I spent three days in the hospital, had to have surgery! My right testicle ruptured!"

"I'd say that man deserves a medal. Karma truly is a bitch. Now, I have work to do. Goodbye and good riddance," Mel replied, laughing as she went back upstairs to her office.

She then called Brian, wanting to share the news of her latest visitor. Brian and Justin were at Kinnetik going over a couple of problems with an important client, slightly stressed. By the end of the conversation, both men were laughing their asses off at her description of the disgraced doctor and how he tried to hire her.


Anything Like Me by charming1

Having decided to expand their family, Brian and Justin needed to find a surrogate to carry the baby. A test showed that Brian was still very fertile, following his testicular cancer and radiation treatments twelve years prior. Many late night discussions were had, trying to decide who would give his seed to make the newest Kinney.

"I want the baby to have your nose," Brian said as he stared at his husband's face in the moonlight. "And your cute little ears, and your cute hands and feet... and your smile."

Justin flashed that famous Sunshine Smile. "I want him or her to have your eyes, and your lips, and your skintone. If it's a boy, I want him to have your jawline and chin."

"This is a gorgeous kid we're building," Brian said, both of them laughing.

After speaking with a fertility specialist about their options, they decided to go with an anonymous egg donor with the right characteristics so that the child would hopefully look like both of the fathers. An anonymous gestational surrogate would be used to further separate the process. They wanted to do it that way to make absolutely sure there would be no way the woman who gave birth to their child could change her mind and try to take the child away from them.

Finding an egg donor was the easy part; finding a surrogate would be much more difficult. The couple signed up with five different agencies that matched people with surrogates. They wanted to get started on making the new baby as soon as possible, since they wanted the youngest Kinney children to be close in age.

Brian got home late one evening after having a dinner meeting with a prospective client. Justin was reading Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson to Keegan in the nursery and rocking him before putting him to bed. Brian stood at the doorway, smiling at the sight.

Justin glanced up, sensing his husband's presence. "Look Keegan, Dada came home just in time for goodnight kisses," he said with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.

Brian furrowed his brow, not knowing if his Sunshine was upset with him or something else. When he leaned down for a kiss and got a wet one, he knew that it had to be the latter option.

"How about I finish the story and get him tucked in, and you go run a B-A-T-H for us," Brian said, careful not to use the actual word since Keegan loved getting a bath and had obviously already had one.

Justin nodded and stood up to hand off the clean-smelling baby to his other father.

By the time Brian had Keegan down and got to the master bath, Justin had a scented bubble bath going with candles lit around the room and jazz music softly playing. He was leaning down checking the temperature of the water, and Brian walked in to find his favorite sight, Justin's naked ass swaying back and forth. He had started stripping as soon as he got into their room so the only thing he still had on was his briefs, and they were gone in a flash.

"The most perfect sight in the world," Brian announced as he walked toward his blond, grabbing the swaying hips and rubbing his naked cock between the globes of his husband's ass.

They climbed into the tub, Justin sitting between Brian's outstretched legs. Brian put his hand on Justin's chin, turning his head so that they could have a proper hello kiss.

"Do you want to talk?" Brian asked when they came up for air.

"After," Justin responded, reaching back to grab his husband's substantial erection.

As Justin did this, Brian reached under the bubble butt to rub the hottest hole he had ever had and open it up for his more than ready cock. Justin moaned, the warm water helping to loosen him for his husband.

"Oh, Brian... feels so good... more... I need more."

Justin grasped the cock that he needed inside of him and lowered himself slowly, savoring the feeling of every ridge and vein as Brian entered him.

"Justin... oh, so tight... so hot. You are the perfect way to end a day. I love you... so much," Brian panted as he stilled the blond's hips. He would never understand how Justin could make him feel so close to coming so fast, as if he were still a horny teenager with no control.

After calming down for a minute, Brian raised his knees to give them both some leverage. Justin rose up, riding his favorite cock while clearing his mind of everything he didn't want to think about. Brian gripped the sides of the tub and pushed up, angling into Justin's sweet spot, causing the blond to make the most amazing sounds and to further tighten himself around the huge cock he was riding.

Soon it became too much and both men were ready to release themselves. Justin turned his head so that their mouths could be joined in a moaning kiss as they came. Brian wrapped his arms tightly around his husband as Justin slammed down on his cock a final time. They came together, loudly, moaning out their release.

Leaning back in the tub as their heart rates returned to normal, Brian asked, "So, my darling husband, do you want to tell me what has you not-so Sunshiney tonight?"

Justin sighed. "I'm just disappointed. I looked through all of the surrogacy websites we've registered with, and nothing yet. I know it's only been a couple of months and that it's a big deal for a woman to decide to carry a baby that she won't even get to keep, but still. It just seems like we'll never find a surrogate."

"Sunshine, it's obvious that we're going to need a woman to make a baby for us, because as much as we've fucked raw over the years, neither of us has gotten pregnant yet," Brian said with a chuckle, trying to lighten his husband's mood. "Like you said, it's only been a couple of months. Things happen when they happen. Look how long it took me to find my other half. I want to get this going too, but we have to be patient. I'd rather not be in a nursing home when our youngest graduates high school, you know. There's a woman out there somewhere who will eventually decide to carry a baby for us."

Justin turned in Brian's arms, hugging him and nodding in agreement.


Brian and Melanie took Gus to the Department of Motor Vehicles on a Saturday morning for the teen to take his driver's test, in order to get his license. Gus had failed the test once before, for going too fast and failing to fully stop at stop signs. All three parents had been practicing driving with him over the past few weeks, and the boy felt he was ready to give it another go.

"I'm glad you were able to come with us this time, so you can comfort the kid when he fails again," Melanie cracked as the two of them waited back at the DMV for Gus to complete his test.

"I'm sure he'll do fine," Brian said. "He's listened to us bitch at him to slow down and stop correctly enough that's he's bound to do better. Of course, we don't normally keep to the speed limits or fully stop, either, but who the fuck does? He at least needs to drive correctly during the test."

They sat together silently until Melanie started chuckling.

"Can you believe that we're here?" she asked. "You and me, sitting here waiting for our son, whom we both have equal legal rights to, to take his driver's test?"

Brian shook his head. "I thought one of us would have killed the other by now."

"Me, too. We've come a long way, both together and separately."

"A lot of our fights were because of Lindsay, you know," Brian pointed out. "I think she liked pitting us against each other for her own sick pleasure. Since you've left her, you and I have had no problems."

"Yeah, you're right," Melanie admitted. "We're even friends now, which I never thought possible."

"How is Lindsay, by the way? Do you still talk to her?"

"We email back and forth every week or so, mostly about the kids. She seems to be doing okay, says that she's still doing well in therapy. She has a while to go before she can live independently, but she has a positive outlook. Oh, she really appreciated the wedding pictures you let me share with her."

"I thought she'd like them, since Gus and JR were in them," Brian said.

"She gushed about how cute Keegan looked in his little tux, how much he looks like Justin, and how beautiful the three of you looked as a family. She doesn't seem to hold any ill feelings about Justin anymore, which is major progress."

Brian smiled. "We're actually wanting to add another little one to the brood."

"Really?" Melanie asked, smiling happily. "What, are you thinking about adopting?"

"No, we want to use a surrogate, but so far we haven't had any luck finding one."

"You'll find someone eventually. I'd offer to carry a baby for you, but my fertile days are over. Even if we used an egg donor, I don't think I'd be a good candidate. I had enough trouble carrying JR and that was twelve years ago. Being pregnant was really rough on me."

"I know," Brian said, patting Melanie on her arm. "That's why we haven't asked you. We didn't want you to feel bad for being unable to help us."

"Have you called Al yet? Since he dealt with family law, I'm sure he probably knows someone who has contacts with surrogacy registries. Plus, it would be wise to talk to him about any potential legal issues."

"That's a good idea. I'll give him a call when we get home. In the meantime, please just keep this between us. Neither Justin nor I want to deal with anyone's opinions or pressure."

Melanie nodded in agreement.

Before they could speak further about it, Gus and his driving instructor came in through the door. Unlike the last time he took the test, Gus had a big smile on his face.

"Oh, no," both parents said, flashing fake smiles to their son.

"As if we don't have enough gray hairs to dye," Melanie added.


Ten days before Christmas, the Chanders family had their annual party at their home and invited Brian, Justin, and the rest of their extended family. Everyone was very relaxed and having a great time.

Keegan's grandparents were enjoying having their grandson there. The eleven month-old was very mobile, hanging onto everything and everyone he could reach so he could walk instead of crawl. The little ham was the hit of the party, happily going to anyone who wanted him. There was a friendly bet going around for when Keegan would start to walk on his own.

The guests started leaving as the evening grew later. The kids were all in the basement playing video games, leaving the adults to sit and talk. Daphne's parents, Deidra and Darnell, Delia, her husband Lamar, Melanie, Brian, and Justin were in the living room, Keegan having conked out on Brian's shoulder.

"Why do you look so sad, Sugar?" Deidra asked Justin, noticing that he looked depressed despite the cheerful holiday season.

He tried to sidestep the question. "Oh, it's nothing... I'm just tired."

Deidra stood in front of him and took his face in her hands. "Justin, I have known you since you were four years old, so I know when something is bothering you. If you want me to mind my own business, just say so; otherwise, please let us help. You know we love you."

Justin looked at his husband, and Brian nodded. They hadn't told very many people about wanting another child, outside of a small handful of trusted family members and friends.

"Well, Brian and I have decided that we want to have another baby, partly so Keegan will have a sibling close in age to grow up with and because we want to add to our family. We have some egg donors in mind, but we haven't had any luck finding a gestational surrogate."

"Why are you looking for an egg donor and a surrogate separately?" Delia questioned.

"Because we don't want there to be any reason why the ‘mother' would want to keep the baby, and we don't want another custody fight," Brian answered, hugging the sleeping bundle in his arms. "If we use separate people, the surrogate would have no genetic ties to the child, which would make it more difficult for her to claim any parental rights. The egg donor automatically gives up her rights at the beginning."

Justin added, "We would definitely have a written contract in place with the surrogate."

"I would carry their child myself, but I'm not a good candidate," Melanie said.

"What about Molly?" Delia asked.

"We thought about her, but she just got married and has never been pregnant before," Justin said. "We would want a woman who has had at least one healthy pregnancy, to be safe. Anyway, most of the family doesn't know about this, so please don't say anything, especially to the kids."

The others agreed to keep it a secret.

"We wish you luck," Deidra said. "Hopefully it will happen soon. You two certainly deserve all the happiness that children bring."


Keegan's first birthday was on January sixteenth. It was also the first anniversary of Daphne's death. Wanting to make some happy memories of the day, Brian and Justin threw a big party for their son at Britin, after having gone to visit Daphne's grave earlier that morning. There was a huge chocolate cake, a mountain of presents, and the fathers hired a clown for entertainment. Even the adults seemed to have a good time, including Daphne's family.

After all of the presents had been opened, Delia and her husband Lamar asked to speak to Brian and Justin privately in the home office. Once they were sitting down, Delia handed Justin an envelope.

He opened the envelope and found a card inside, which Delia had made at home on her computer. On the front of the card were the words "Womb For Rent." Both men looked at Delia curiously before Justin opened the card.

The inside of the card said, "Dear Justin and Brian, We have all the children that we want, but you do not. We would be honored if you would let us help you expand your family. Not only would Delia like to carry your next child, but she would also like to provide the egg. This way, your new baby would be related to Keegan, as a biological cousin, regardless of who the father is. We have been talking about this since the Christmas party and really want to do it for you. Love, Delia and Lamar."

Brian and Justin looked at each other and knew that this was what they had been waiting for. Justin could only nod as the tears started falling.

"Thank you both so much, this is so wonderful of you to offer," Brian answered for the both of them.

The couples stood up and hugged.

Delia spoke next. "I don't know how quickly you want to do this, but if you want to get started on this little project of ours soon, I have always been very regular and my most fertile time is next week. We can also set up a meeting with a lawyer, too."

"The sooner, the better," Justin happily answered, tears still running down his cheeks.

"We'll need to do IVF, because I had my tubes tied after I had Jordan three years ago. I've already talked to my doctor, and he said I'm a great candidate for the procedure, since I'm only thirty-five. Next week, we can try to knock me up. The egg harvesting procedure is pretty simple, and they'll put one or two fertilized eggs in me three days later. Hopefully at least one of them will attach, but we can try as many times as it takes. The success rate is about fifty percent per cycle."

Justin beamed. "Next week it is. We'll be ready."  

"I can hardly wait," Delia said, bouncing joyfully. "Even though we decided to stop at three kids, I always loved being pregnant. There's no one else I'd rather do this for than you guys."    

End Notes:

The next chapter will be the last!

I've Got You Babe - Final Chapter by charming1

Brian and Justin went to the fertility clinic the following week to make their sperm deposits for their hopeful future Kinney baby. They got a few strange looks when they insisted on going into the "deposit room" together, but they didn't really care. They figured if they were going to raise their child together, they should help make it together.

The plan was to join the eggs that were harvested from Delia with sperm from both Justin and Brian. One fertilized egg from each of the men would be implanted into Delia's uterus, and hopefully at least one would attach and become a baby. Any extra embryos would be frozen and saved, in case the first round wasn't successful.

Gus and JR were watching Keegan in the living room that afternoon while the adults were all out of the house. Keegan had been getting stronger and could walk using only one hand to hang onto something.

The oldest Kinney child had been trying to teach Keegan how to walk on his own, but their sister was more interested in getting Keegan to talk. He was doing well with "Dada", "Papa", and something that sounded a bit like "Ima," but she really wanted him to say her name.

"Come on, Little Sunny," JR said to her younger brother in baby-talk. "You can say it... say ‘JR.'"

"Some sounds are harder to make than others," Gus informed her from his spot on the floor. "He's only capable of babbling right now; that's why sounds that repeat are easier for him, like ‘Dada.'"

"If he hears it enough, he'll eventually say it," JR replied in a smartass tone.

Gus could only watch and shake his head, which was his usual response to his saucy sister. He hoped that Keegan wouldn't pick up that quality from her, although he had heard of both Justin and Daphne being prone to theatrics in their younger days. The kid might be doomed either way, even though he was a very easy-going baby, so far.

Gus then held his hands out to his brother, who was about five feet away. "Come here, little man. I know you can do it."

Keegan heaved himself up to stand. He would normally fall down to his knees if he didn't have anything to support him, but this time he took his first staggering steps over to his big brother before tumbling into his waiting arms.

Gus looked at JR in amazement as he held Keegan. "Did you see that? He walked for me!"

JR feigned indifference, but she was also very proud of her baby brother. "You always win."

When the dads got home, Gus walked into the foyer with Keegan.

"Go to Papa," Gus said, standing the baby a few feet from his fathers.

Keegan put out his arms for balance and walked right to Justin. The older blond crouched down, tears running down his cheeks, and grabbed his son in a hug. Brian grinned and leaned down to kiss both blond heads.


Three weeks later, Brian and Justin were at the office working on a presentation when Joey buzzed in, announcing that they had a visitor. Not expecting anyone, Brian went to the door to see who it was. A smiling Delia walked in with a tall brown bag in her hands.

"Hey, what's up?" Brian asked, kissing her cheek.

Delia pulled a bottle of champagne out of the bag. "Guess who's pregnant?"

Justin ran over to hug her. "Already?"  

"Yep, I just left Dr. Tanner's office. I am officially up the spout."

When the men got home that night, they invited Melanie, JR, Debbie, and Carl to come over and eat pizza with them. After dinner, Justin brought out a cake that had Our Family is Growing written on it. Everyone looked at each other and then at the smirking couple.

JR started jumping up and down. "I really want a girl this time!"

Gus shook his head. "It's not like ordering Chinese food, Squirt."

Melanie hugged the couple. "Congratulations, guys. Who's carrying the baby?"

"Delia is, that way Keegan and our new little one will be related," Brian answered.

"Who's the father?" Debbie asked, looking between the two men.

"Either of us could be," Justin said. "We don't know, we don't care."

"We're not telling anyone else about this," Brian instructed. "We want to wait a couple of months, okay? It's a family secret."

Everyone nodded in agreement.


After Delia had given them the happy news, Justin started painting in what would be the new nursery. He and Brian decided to go with a colorful mural based on the "Jolly Holiday" sequence in Mary Poppins, a movie they both enjoyed as kids. It would be perfect, whether they had a boy or a girl.

The new nursery was across the hall from the master bedroom, next to Keegan's. It had a connecting bathroom, so that when the kids were older, they could share it. Justin was excited, getting to do a whole new kid's room. He wanted to redecorate Keegan's room at some point, but wasn't sure what to do with it yet. He knew that he wanted to leave the mural of Daphne on the ceiling alone, as long as Keegan still wanted it there. He would often tell Keegan stories about Daphne, and the child would point to the ceiling and say "Mama".

Since beginning to walk, Keegan had been nearly unstoppable and rather strong for his small size. Everything was child-proofed so he wouldn't hurt himself and baby gates were put in doorways throughout the house. They would use the same baby furniture in the new nursery that they had used for Keegan. They had to buy the little climbing monkey a toddler bed and matching furniture, since it would be much safer than him practically flinging himself out of the crib on a regular basis. The rocking chair was removed, heavy furniture was bolted to the walls, and the toybox had a special lid that would not slam closed on inquisitive little hands.

Keegan had started to wake up very early in the mornings, but just like when he was an infant, he would find something to amuse himself rather than cry for attention. His fathers still kept the monitor on so they could hear if they were needed, but they would often only hear their son babbling to his stuffed animals as if he were really having conversations with them. Sometimes they would just listen to him for a while before going in to let him out of his room, only for the hearty eater to ask for his breakfast.

When they were on their way to the hospital for Delia's first ultrasound, Brian commented that he hoped their new baby would be as good as Keegan.

"Well, that'll depend on which sperm got in, my good one or... yours," Justin replied smugly. "We'll know it's yours if the kid is sarcastic and a picky eater."

"Yeah, and if the kid never shuts up or stops eating, we'll know it's yours," Brian answered his husband.


Delia finally went into labor early in the morning on October seventeenth. Brian and Justin joined Delia and Lamar in the delivery room. Lamar was sitting next to Delia's head, kissing her forehead and coaching her through her contractions like he had when she gave birth to their three children before. Brian and Justin were on either side of the bed holding her hands. Lamar figured he had gotten his hands crushed by labor pains enough times in the past that it was someone else's turn.

Brian noticed that his husband was looking a little green.

"You okay?"

Justin nodded. "I've just never seen a baby being born before."

"Oh yeah, and I have? Three kids between us, and it's the first time we're witnessing childbirth."

"It's a beautiful thing," Lamar said.

"Beautiful, terrifying... same thing, right?" Brian snarked.

"This is it Delia, when the next contraction hits, push," Dr. Tanner instructed.

Delia yelled "Here it comes!" as she crushed both men's hands and pushed hard, delivering the head and shoulders. Another contraction, a deep breath, and one push later, Kelton Theodore Kinney made his grand entrance into the world.

"Who wants to cut the umbilical cord?" the doctor asked.

Justin pointed across the bed to Brian. "My hands are shaking too much."

After Brian cut the cord, the screaming infant was held up for everyone to see before being taken away by a nurse.

"Okay, Delia, relax," the doctor told her.

"Not yet Doc, the other one's coming... now," she answered.

Looking down, he answered, "This one sure is in a hurry. Okay Delia, you know what to do."

"Aahhhh!" Delia yelled as she pushed and squeezed Brian and Justin's hands tightly in hers. Head and shoulders out, she knew the hardest part was over. One more push and Kira Daphne Kinney was out.

It took Kira several seconds to start crying, but she was soon wailing along with her brother. That time, Justin cut the cord at Brian's urging.

"Ooh, that feels weird," Justin remarked as he cut through the thick cord with surgical scissors.

After both babies had been examined and cleaned up, they were placed next to each other in an isolette while Delia delivered the placentas. She had carried the twins to nearly thirty-eight weeks, so they were both fully developed and very healthy. Neither would have to spend any time in the NICU.

The babies turned to each other, opened their eyes, and touched hands, as if they knew they were born with a special bond.

Brian and Justin gave Delia hugs and kisses.

"Thank you," Justin sobbed on her shoulder.

She patted his head lovingly. "It was my pleasure, Daddy."

Dr. Tanner went to look at the babies after his job was done. "Oh, wow," he exclaimed a little too loudly.

Justin rushed over. "What's wrong?" he yelled, worried.

"Nothing, I'm sorry," Dr. Tanner replied. "I'm just kind of shocked. I've never seen anything like this before. The boy has Brian's hair and your eyes while the girl has your hair and Brian's eyes. Genetics are fascinating. I swear, it looks like you and your husband are their only parents. They look nothing like Delia, at all."

Delia had tears running down her face. "That's just the way it should be. Those babies belong to their daddies."

Dr. Tanner looked at Brian and Justin, who were looking at their twins with big smiles. "I thought that it would be easy to tell which baby each of you fathered, but I think you're going to need to perform paternity tests to find out."

"It doesn't matter to us. We don't want them tested," Brian answered for them.

"At least we know they're not mine," Lamar said, which made everyone laugh, seeing that he and his wife were both black and the babies were very light-skinned.

Justin watched while the babies were weighed and measured. Brian took a few pictures of his new children with his cell phone, then went to share the good news with the family.

"They're here!" he announced as he walked into the waiting room.

The room erupted with cheers. Gus, JR, and Melanie came over to him first, wanting to know how things had gone.

"The boy came first and then the girl soon after. They're both big and strong, nearly six pounds each."

He showed them the pictures he had taken.

JR spoke first. "Pop, they look just like you and Papa. That's so awesome."

"Spittin' images of their fathers," Melanie agreed.

The close family members had already been told that one baby was Justin's and one was Brian's, while the rest of the extended family would probably never know unless the kids each started to resemble one father more as they got older.

Delia and Lamar's children, Cameron, Raven, and Jordan came over.

"Is Mama okay?" Cameron asked.

"She's doing great," Brian happily reported. "Your mom is a superhero."

"Cool," the boy replied with a smile.

Debbie looked at the pictures of the twins and congratulated the proud father. "You and Sunshine did good, son. They're adorable. Are you finally going to tell us their names?"

"Their names are Kira Daphne and Kelton Theodore," he answered before looking over at Ted, who had tears in his eyes.

Brian walked over to his best friend and hugged him. "We figured it would be nice to name the boy after his godfather."

"I would hope so, since Phoenix's middle name is ‘Brian', you asshole," Ted said with a friendly slap on Brian's back.

Brian soon went back into the delivery room, where he found Justin holding Kira and Delia holding Kelton. She passed the baby boy over to Brian, and Lamar started taking pictures of the new Kinney family.

"I swear, those have got to be the palest half-black kids I've ever seen," Lamar cracked. "Baby, are you sure you're the mother? Because I think these white boys may also be the mothers, too."

"They're perfect," Delia said as she looked at the four of them together. "They're a beautiful family. I just wish that Daph were here."

They all nodded, knowing that Daphne would have wanted to celebrate that wonderful day with them.

Delia was soon moved into a regular room for her to recover for a couple of days. The rest of the family members filtered in and out to visit her and the babies. Lamar later took his and Delia's kids home after their long day at the hospital, and soon it was just Brian and Justin left in the room, each holding one of their sleeping newborns. They could hardly wait to take them home.

Delia had been dozing throughout the evening, but she woke up a bit later and smiled over at the babies.

Justin noticed that she was awake. "Hey, Dee... we've been meaning to ask you something."

"Haven't you asked enough of me? Damn," Delia joked as she rubbed her swollen belly.

The three of them chuckled before Justin said, "We've already asked Ted and Mel to be Kelton's godparents, and we were wondering if you and Lamar would be Kira's godparents."

Delia teared up and put her hand over her heart. "Of course, you guys. We'd be honored."


Brian and Justin brought their new babies home from the hospital two days later. Much like they had when bringing Keegan home the first time, they asked the family to wait a few days before coming over to Britin to visit, to allow them to have time alone with their new additions.

After the grand tour of the estate, they each carried a baby up the stairs and into the nursery. A second crib and dresser had been added to the room after finding out that Delia was having twins during her first ultrasound at six weeks.

Justin shook his head as he recalled the shock they had all felt when two sacs and heartbeats were found on the screen. "Seems like only yesterday, we were trying not to pass out when we found out we'd be bringing two of these little pups home."

"Yeah," Brian agreed as he picked Kira up out of her carrier. "We knew it was possible for both embryos to attach, but we didn't think we'd be that lucky."

Justin gathered Kelton into his arms and smiled at Brian. "Lucky... yeah, we certainly are lucky."

Apparently, someone didn't get the memo that the fathers wanted privacy, because Keegan came toddling into the room a few moments later.

"Baby?" the sweet little blond asked.

"Yeah, Sonny Boy," Brian said. "The babies are home."

The men laid the twins down in one crib, and Justin picked Keegan up so he could see his new little siblings, who were both awake and looking around.

Justin felt his eyes welling up, and he kissed Keegan's curly head. "This all started with you, my son. I never thought I'd be a father, but then you came crashing into my life. Everything changed on that day... I lost your mama, my best friend, but I got you. You're the best thing that's ever happened to us. You made us a family."

Gus and JR joined them at the crib, having been eavesdropping at the doorway.

"You've got us, too, Papa J," Gus said, putting his arm around his kid sister.

"And now we have..." Brian paused, as if reality had just hit him. "Jesus, five kids. What the hell were we thinking?"

Gus put his other arm around his Pop's shoulders. "It'll be alright."

"We'll get through it together, Pop," JR assured him.

Justin gave his husband a kiss. "As long as we have love and each other, we can do anything."

~The End~


End Notes:

Mary Poppins, “Jolly Holiday”

This story archived at