(Pittsburgh, June 2016 - present)
"This is stupid!" Justin suddenly blurted out and in all seriousness.
"What makes you think that, Justin?"
"Because this isn't going to help me."
"Then why are you here if you don't think it's going to help?"
"Well for starters, because my whole family thinks I'm crazy and they're probably right… and I've got to get my life together if I don't want to lose everyone."
"So the reason you're here is them?"
"Yeah," he said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Yes. Well, I mean… I want to get my life back together. I want to get myself back together. But I don't think it's possible. When Brian died… the whole world as I knew it turned to dust. And I've been just surviving ever since... because I just don't know how to live without him... and I don't even want to. So I really don't think therapy will help me... no offense."
The therapist just smiled to herself, probably used to such remarks, "Justin, this is the third time you've been here and the first time you've said more than a few words to me... trust me, this is the beginning of getting yourself and your life back together."
Justin didn't know how to feel about that. Sure, she's the therapist, while he has a total mess in his head. But he couldn't even imagine that this little nervous outburst of his had anything to do with a 'good start'. But it's true that today was the first time he actually said something. He basically just sat through the first two sessions, although he had to admit that even that was kind of therapeutic, just sitting here and relaxing. But the only reason she knew anything about the situation he was going through was because Michael told her. He was the one who recommended her to him. But the first two sessions were completely wasted because he simply didn't know how to talk to this woman, whom he was seeing for the first time in his life, about Brian and the worst thing that had ever happened to him. But he had promised Michael that he would do everything in his power to get his life back together... so here he was, ready, though not really, to face it.
"Tell me about Brian, Justin."
"Why?" Justin could feel his stomach tighten.
"Because if you want to move forward in your life, you have to be able to talk about him."
If he didn't count his drinking with Cynthia and how they reminisced about Brian together, it had been a really long time since he'd talked about him to anyone… like really talked. It's just hard for him. Because talking meant reliving the worst day of his life and that usually meant a lot of tears and a feeling like his life really had no meaning anymore. But that's what he was here for, and no matter how uncomfortable this was for him, this was his last chance before he hits rock bottom... even though he may have already hit it and this was his way how to slowly climb back up.
And he really wanted that.
"Um, well... Brian was... I mean he is the only man I've ever loved."
"What do you mean why?" Justin felt offended that she was even asking him that.
"What made you fall in love with him?"
"Well, he was… special," he breathed out softly with a little smile. "Of course he could be an idiot and drive you crazy and make your blood boil because he just didn't want anyone to know he cared. But he did. More than he could ever express. He wasn't good with words, it took me a while to figure that out, but when I realized that his actions spoke louder than his words... everything changed. I read him like an open book... and the lines and chapters were just... beautiful," Justin's smile widened, he closed his eyes and immediately saw Brian's face.
"How did you feel when you were with him?"
"Like the happiest guy in the world. Of course he could give me a hard time, no doubt about that and there were times when I thought we could never work... I even left him a few times because of it... but at the end of the day I always found my way back to him. I just couldn't be without him. He was kind of like my drug. But not the nasty kind that kills you slowly and has total control over you. He was the reason I got out of bed every day. He helped me with everything he could. He helped me find myself, he helped me follow my dreams and he loved me in a way I didn't even know was possible."
"He was your epic love."
"Yeah," a tear found its way down Justin's face. "Everything was just better with him. I mean, he made me the best version of myself. He made me a better man. And he helped me become the best homosexual I could possibly be. But now? I don't even know who I am anymore. I just feel... lost."
The therapist jotted down some notes and then looked back at Justin. "And do you think Brian was the best version of himself with you?"
"Um… I guess so."
"I know he was. He changed… he changed for me, but mostly for himself. At first it scared me, I was afraid he was throwing away who he was just to make me happy. But I was wrong. He wasn't throwing away who he was... on the contrary, he finally took off his mask and accepted who he really was and who he was afraid to be - the most selfless, caring and loving man you could ever find."
"Why do you think he was afraid to be that way?"
"Because he didn't want to have his heart broken. You know, Brian he had a really rough childhood and it affected him so much that even though he desperately needed and wanted to be loved, he didn't want to go through that pain of having his heart ripped out of his chest again, that he simply deciced not to believe in love..." Justin chuckled softly. "But then he met me and I was persistent... I refused to give up on him and even though he kicked and screamed at first, he eventually took a chance on love."
"I see," she smiled. "You made each other better."
"Yes. We did."
"And that's why you think you can't live without him?"
"Uh… I… I don't know. Life without Brian just doesn't make sense to me. Without him I'm nothing."
"Why do you think that?"
He was getting really frustrated with her questions. "Like I said, he made me better. I used to be so optimistic and full of hope, always smiling, enjoying my life because I had him by my side... but the guy I was when I was with him is gone now... he died that night too."
Again - she wrote down some notes. And it was getting annoying.
"Justin, what you've been through is a very traumatic event that you still haven't been able to process, so your feelings are completely normal. But you're still the same person you were with Brian... you just buried it under the grief. And it's up to me to help you find that person in you again. You have to learn to be that person without Brian, you have to believe that you can do it. And the first step is to accept the fact that what happened that night was not your fault."
"How would you know? You weren't fucking there," he said angrily.
"So take me there. Tell me what happened that night."
Justin could feel his throat tighten, his heart pounding uncontrollably, and a cold sweat running down his back. He wasn't ready... he just wasn't ready to talk about it. And luckily he was saved by the timer that suddenly went off to remind them that their session was over.
"Guess we're done for today," Justin got up to leave feeling incredibly relieved.
"Justin?" her voice stopped him.
"I'll give you homework."
"Homework?" Justin chuckled.
"Yes. Every time you look at yourself in the mirror, I want you to say these words out loud... 'It wasn't my fault'."
"What?" he arched his brows in amusement.
"People around you can tell you this all the time, but you won't believe them because the only person you need to hear it from is yourself."
"And this is supposed to help me? Talk to myself? I thought you were supposed to help people not do that."
"You'd be surprised how effective this method can be. You might have to say it a hundred times before you actually believe it, but you'll get there… and eventually you'll get much further. You just can't give up."
Justin wanted to repeat himself and say how stupid this all was, but he decided to swallow it and trust that the damn woman knew what she was doing, even though he highly doubted it.
"So next Friday at the same time?"
"Yeah sure," Justin nodded and then left her office happy to be done for today.
He decided to walk to Michael and Ben's house, he really needed to think and a long walk in the fresh air was perfect for that. When Michael confronted him that morning, Justin promised him that he would do anything to get his life back together, so he decided to stay in Pittsburgh longer while going to therapy, spending time with his family, and trying to figure out how to live in this world without Brian. And they even gave him a key to their house, officially making him a member of their Novotny-Bruckner family.
"I'm home!" he announced when he arrived and couldn't help but laugh.
But surprisingly he got no answer. He took off his jacket and shoes and headed straight to the kitchen because he felt like he was going to pass out from hunger at any moment. But as soon as he entered the living room, he regretted his decision…
"Oh my god! Jesus Christ," he quickly covered his eyes so he wouldn't see more than he already did, which was more than enough and he knew instantly that it would be burned into his memory forever. "I had no idea!" he shouted apologetically as if it was his fault that they decided to fuck right on the couch.
"God... we are so sorry!" Michael exclaimed, trying to gather up all his clothes that were scattered all over the room.
"We thought you'd be back later," Ben added. "Though that doesn't excuse us obviously."
"Can I look now?" Justin looked through his fingers hoping it was safe and thank god it was. "You don't have to apologize. You're not the first people I've ever seen… you know. Don't forget who I lived with and how much I've seen because of him," Justin chuckled, not even realizing it was the first time he'd talked about Brian without tears welling up in his eyes. "Besides, this is your house… and I'm glad it's working for you again," he smiled sincerely.
"Yeah… well. We're trying," Michael chuckled. "And actually, your presence helps us quite a bit."
"Am I so hot that it spiced up your sex life?" Justin laughed.
"What? God, no!"
Justin tried to look offended, but he wasn't far from laughing.
"You know what I mean," Michael rolled his eyes. "Helping you brought us closer together again. And we realized how much we love each other," Michael glanced lovingly at Ben who nodded. "And that we don't want to lose each other. I mean, I haven't been the best husband lately… probably lost in my own grief, which has affected our marriage," he looked down sadly. "But I'll do anything to make it work," he reached for Ben's hand.
Justin smiled, truly happy for them. But to be honest, it only reminded him how lonely he actually was. "I'm really glad to hear that," he said and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving them to have their romantic moment… and to save himself from the pain.
But as expected, Michael soon joined him, "We're really sorry."
"You don't have to."
Michael smiled but realized that this probably wasn't easy for him, so he decided to change the subject. "And how was the session with Dr. Brown?"
"It was… okay, I guess," he shrugged.
"You just sat there again?"
"No... actually I said quite a lot. About Brian and our relationship. She wanted to know why I fell in love with him, how I felt when I was with him... all of a sudden I was just pouring it out and I didn't even know how..."
"Well, that's great news."
"Yeah, until she asked me to tell her what happened that night. I instantly froze."
"Give it time. She's really great and I know she can help you. I mean, she helped me too."
"Can I ask why you were seeing her?"
"Of course you can. I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the Babylon bombing."
"Really? I didn't know that. Brian never mentioned."
"I wasn't very proud of it at the time, I was kind of like you... I didn't believe it was going to help me. So I didn't even want him to tell anyone, but it was actually his idea for me to start therapy."
"Really?" Justin was surprised.
"Yeah. He wanted me to fight it and do everything I could to get through it. And he was there for me every step of the way."
"That sounds like Brian."
"Yeah," Michael agreed. "And then when he died... I went to her again. She helped me deal with the grief. I'm not saying it's gone, I mean it probably never will be, but I learned to control it instead of letting it control me."
Yeah, Justin would definitely need that too, but he still had some work to do before he gets there.
"Anyway... wouldn't you like to go out today? Ever since you're here, you've pretty much only been going to therapy or sitting on the porch. And the guys have been calling… wanting to see you."
"Uh, I don't know..."
"Come on, it'll be fun. Plus you'll make us look younger than we really are," Michael laughed.
"Oh, that's what you need me for," Justin laughed too.
"They probably won't even let us in without you."
"Well, what kind of person would I be to spoil your fun, right?"
"Does that mean yes?"
He knew he wasn't ready for it, but he also knew that if he keeps avoiding everything all the time, he will never be ready, "Yeah, it does."
"Yes!" Michael was really excited and immediately ran to call the boys to tell them. There was a time when Justin would never have thought that Michael would even accept him, and now he was closer to him than anyone else.
Justin quickly ate something and then ran to the shower to get ready for tonight, he wanted to feel at least a little bit normal after a really long time. And after the shower he decided it was time to finally shave his beard. But when he looked in the mirror, he immediately remembered his homework… it felt stupid, but what did he have to lose? So he took a really deep breath and just said the damn words…
"It wasn't your fault," exactly as he expected it had no effect on him so he decided to try again, this time in a firmer voice, "IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT."
He kept staring at himself for a while, waiting to see if the words would sink in and he would feel at least a little relief or something... but instead he ended up laughing at himself because saying words he didn't believe in the slightest felt really stupid.
"What are you looking at?" The last thing he needed right now was another conversation with imaginary Brian, but he'd be lying if he said it wasn't damn good to see him.
"You," he smiled.
"So you could see me go completely crazy? God, I don't know what's worse, talking to you… or myself," Justin laughed.
"You're not crazy, just sad."
"How would you know? You're not here. Not really. You're gone and I'm the one who's still here and I hate it," tears began to form in his eyes. "You shouldn't have left me, we were supposed to be together… for the rest of our lives. Damn it!" he was so angry.
"I know, Sunshine," Brian sighed and reached out to stroke his hair, but Justin pulled away.
He really didn't want to deal with this right now, he needed Brian to leave and thankfully he did. And once he felt strong enough, he finally got ready for the night.
"Oh, you shaved," Michael said in surprise.
"Yeah, I thought it was about time."
"It suits you."
"Thanks," he smiled.
"So you ready to go?"
Justin took a deep breath and nodded. "As ready as I can be."
Michael smiled and then they headed to the car. Justin could feel his heart racing all the way there. And the moment Ben pulled up in front of Babylon, he was just waiting for it to jump out of his chest.
It was so strange for him to be back there, years ago he spent almost every night there, thanks to Brian he discovered things he didn't even know existed, danced with him on the dance floor for hours and had the best sex experiences there. It was unbelievable how many memories it brought back. But one memory had a much bigger impact on him than the rest... that street lamp... that fucking street lamp... where they met for the very first time...
And Michael noticed right away that something was wrong. "Justin, what's going on?" he asked, but when he saw where Justin's eyes were looking, he immediately understood. "Shit. I'm an idiot, I didn't realize that, Justin… are you okay?"
Justin didn't answer, his mind was lost on that day 16 years ago... it seemed so unreal... 16 years... to him it felt like yesterday, he was walking down Liberty Avenue, aimlessly, but for some reason he ended up right here and right under this street lamp where his whole life changed because Brian Kinney chose him... and not just for that night, but ultimately for life.
"Justin?" Ben's voice was a bit more forceful and he managed to bring Justin back to reality.
"Um, I just… it's like it happened yesterday… it feels so real."
"Yeah, I know," Michael looked at him sadly. "I still remember it so perfectly, he chose you over us, left us standing here like three idiots and just drove off with you… God I was so pissed off that night," he laughed and Justin couldn't help but laugh too as he remembered how they stood here yelling at Brian who just didn't give a shit because he wanted him.
"I was sure you'd give him a hard time later, but I couldn't care less… I just wanted to go with him."
"I know, you were a determined and persistent kid… and my personal pain in the ass."
Justin chuckled. "Yeah, but things change."
"They do," Michael smiled, placing a hand on his shoulder. "So do you still want to go there or do you want to go home?"
Justin thought about it for a few seconds, but then he just took a deep breath and said, "No. I can't keep running away from everything. I can handle this."
Michael and Ben nodded and assured him that all he needed to do was say the word and they would leave immediately. And then they finally headed inside. As he looked around, some memories of his time here began to flash before his eyes… memories that felt like they happened yesterday, yet happened so long ago.
He immediately remembered how confidently he stole the two men from Brian and danced with them right in front of him, determined to give him a taste of his own medicine... and it worked, Brian didn't even hesitate and pulled them away from Justin so he could dance with him himself.
He also remembered Brian leaning against the bar with that sexy smirk of his just eyeing the hot guys around him. He hated it so much back then, but looking back, all he could see now was how hot Brian actually was when he was looking for his next prey, and at the end of the day, it really didn't matter how many guys pulled his pants down for Brian because he always came back to him... he always found his way back to Justin who meant the most to him.
"Emmett and Ted are over there," Ben nodded towards the dance floor where, as expected, they were dancing like they were still in their twenties.
"Of course - on the dance floor," Michael chuckled.
"They definitely still know how to move," Justin acknowledged with a laugh.
Then he looked around again, Babylon was still the same but somehow different, the times were different and most importantly the owner was different. Brian sold it sometime in 2011 when he realized that it no longer fulfilled him as it used to and preferred a more domestic life. That's when he really freaked Justin out. Brian Kinney being a domestic husband. Justin suspected that he was doing it for him again, but the truth was Brian had just gotten to the point where he simply had grown out of it and knew that within the walls of their home he could find much more important things in life. And it wasn't like they stopped going to Babylon overnight, it was just never the same.
"Justin, oh my god!" Justin didn't even realize Emmett was running towards him until he was crushing him in his arms. "I'm so glad you're here, sweetie!"
"Um, Em, me… me too… but it's getting really hard to breathe," he said through gritted teeth.
"Oops, sorry," Emmett chuckled. "You look amazing, by the way," he winked at him as if it was a candy he'd like to eat.
Justin just smiled, blushing. He had almost forgotten what it was like to be around Emmett's crazy nature.
"I'll skip the choking," Ted said before hugging him like a normal human being. "It's really nice to see you."
"You too, Ted. Both of you."
"I hope you're ready for the best night ever," Emmett clapped happily.
"Em, go easy on him," Michael warned him.
"Of course, I know, baby steps," he smiled innocently.
But Justin suddenly realized something, "Where are Blake and Drew?"
"Oh, Blake just wasn't feeling up to it today," Ted explained.
"And Drew had other plans," Emmett added.
"Uh-hm. In other words, you've decided it's better for me not to witness you being madly in love because my heart might not be able to handle it?"
They both tried to look offended, saying that it definitely wasn't true, but soon realized that they weren't going to fool Justin: "Yeah… something like that."
"Well, next time I'll be happy if you take them with you… trust me I'm not made of glass," even though Justin was saying that there was a part of him that was really grateful to them, he really wasn't sure he would be able to stand the sight of everyone being happy and in love, while he knows he will never experience those feelings again.
However, if he was ever going to feel normal again, he needed others to treat him normally, so he was glad they both agreed.
Then they went to order drinks, Justin knew he would definitely need one if he was going to relax. Of course, Emmett and Ted couldn't sit still for long and were basically glued to the dance floor… just like all those years ago.
And Justin couldn't help but think of his moments on this dance floor, the moments of happiness that seemed endless back then...
"You should go dance too, you don't have to babysit me."
"What? We're not doing that," Michael protested.
"Yeah, we're happy to keep you company," Ben smiled.
"Please, you're basically dying to go dance… so go! Now! I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes I am, Michael."
"Well then... just one song," Michael chuckled excitedly, already dragging Ben onto the dance floor.
Justin had to smile, he was glad they were happy again… just a few weeks ago it looked like they weren't far from a divorce and now they couldn't get enough of each other.
And Ted and Emmett? They just danced like crazy. Neither of them were distracted by the stares of the much younger boys dancing around them.
"You should be there with them," he suddenly heard Brian's voice.
"No, not now," Justin whispered desperately, the last thing he needed now was to be seen talking to himself. "Go away."
"I can't. You want me here."
"Yeah, I do… but the real you. Not... this."
Justin tried to speak really quietly, but luckily most of the people here were drunk or on drugs so they didn't really think he was that weird.
"Just go dance Justin, you need it."
"Not without you."
"I'll be right here... watching you," he smiled.
"I just… I can't."
"Yes you can. Just one dance... let me go for now and live a little. Please. I want to see you dance."
Justin was definitely losing his mind, there was no doubt about that, but these conversations he had with Brian were the best thing he had right now, and even though they weren't real and they seriously drove him crazy at times, he knew that if Brian was here now, he'd say the same thing to him... and that's why Justin had to do it. For him. And especially for himself. So he finished the rest of his drink and went straight to the dance floor to be with his friends, determined not to worry about anything tonight.
And it brought back so many memories and so many feelings at once, but for the first time in a long time, thinking about Brian didn't make him sad, quite the opposite, his sunshine smile spread across his face and he just felt... free. And he enjoyed every second of it.
Then he simply closed his eyes and let his body move in perfect sync with the music. He immediately remembered how easy it was to melt into Brian's arms right on this dance floor and forget the world around them.
And suddenly he could feel Brian's body press against him from behind and his strong arms wrap around him. It felt so real and so intense and he completely surrendered to it. His eyes were still closed and their bodies seemed to become one, together in sync with the music... the way it always had been... and should be.
But of course all good things must come to an end, so it didn't take long for Justin to realize that this wasn't just in his head and that there really were arms around him, body pressed against him and lips kissing his neck... but unfortunately none of it belonged to Brian...
"You're so fucking hot," said a horny voice near his ear.
And Justin immediately froze and was completely paralyzed. The last person to touch him like this was Brian. But now he stood here, with this stranger's hands around him... and all he could feel was panic spreading throughout his body and a cold sweat running down his back. Even his breathing got faster.
But for some reason, he was suddenly able to find the strength to fight it and defeat that horrible feeling of helplessness... and the next thing he knew he was yelling at whoever was holding him to stop fucking touching him...
"Are you crazy or what?"
Probably, Justin thought. But the moment he was freed from his grip, he didn't wait for anything and just ran and didn't stop until he was outside.
"Justin! What's going on?" Michael rushed after him, confused. "I turned around and all I could see was you running away… what the hell happened?"
"Can we… can we go home please?"
"Yeah yeah, I'll just go get Ben, okay? Wait here."
Justin nodded and Michael went back inside. And it seemed like forever before he and Ben came back. And when they were finally in the car, Justin just stared quietly out the window and didn't answer to any of their questions. He was completely numb. And when they finally parked in front of their house, he just hurried inside and ran up the stairs to his room. He immediately took off his clothes because he felt like he couldn't breathe in them and he didn't feel safe until he was in bed and hidden under the blanket. He suddenly felt like a little boy hiding from a monster under his bed... although he was actually hiding from a monster... but this one was much scarier and more real than the one from his childhood.
When Justin woke up in the morning and realized it wasn't just a dream, he wished the floor would just open up and swallow him whole. And he immediately swore that for everyone's sake he would never leave this room again. But of course it wasn't long before someone knocked on his door.
"May I?" Michael asked.
"Well, you're already here, so..." Justin sat up on the bed with a sad look on his face.
And Michael sat down next to him, "Are you going to tell me what happened yesterday?"
"Well, there must have been a reason for the way you reacted."
"I overreacted… really, it's not that big of a deal."
He could see that Michael was really dying to know, so he figured it would be better to just tell him.
"I know, I know, I'm crazy.
"No. You're definitely not. Your reaction was completely normal. Trust me, if it were me… I would have reacted exactly the same way you did."
Justin couldn't decide if Michael really meant it or was just saying it to make him feel better, but he was definitely grateful.
"When is your next appointment with Dr. Brown?"
"Next Friday, why?"
"Maybe you should go sooner."
"So you do think I'm crazy."
"No. But I want you to get better."
"Yeah, I want that too, but I just... I don't know how. And I know therapy is supposed to help me with that, but... I can't just run to therapy every time I'm having a bad day, Michael. I'll be fine, trust me."
"Okay, do what you think is best. But…" Michael's voice trailed off.
"I've been thinking and… don't you think it's time to go see your mom?"
Justin's heart stopped for a moment. Not talking to his mother was another hard thing in his life, but it was his choice after all. She was a reminder of the worst moment of that night and to this day he couldn't forget the words that came out of her mouth that absolutely broke his heart… and after that he just couldn't bear to look at her. And as much as he hated himself for it, he couldn't even imagine that he would just knock on her door now.
"No... I-I can't..."
"Justin… she's your mom… don't you think it's time to make things right with her?"
"I just can't, not after the way I treated her… she probably wouldn't even open the door for me."
"I'm sure she would and I bet she misses you a lot."
"Okay, fine. I can't force you. Just think about it, okay?"
"I will. I promise."
Michael smiled and then left his room and Justin immediately sighed in frustration. He knew Michael meant well, but he simply wasn't ready for it. Not that he didn't want to see her, but he knew that if he faced her now, he would completely fall apart.
But he also knew he definitely needed to talk to someone - someone other than Michael, his therapist, or dead Brian, so he picked up the phone and called the person he should have called a long time ago.
And exactly an hour later he was sitting in a cafe, waiting...
"Hey," he suddenly heard a familiar voice behind him.
And he immediately stood up with a huge smile on his face, "Daphne," he breathed out. "I'm so glad you came."
"Of course I came," she smiled back at him.
They immediately hugged, so happy to see each other after such a long time, and then sat down. First they both ordered and before they knew it they were dying of laughter as they reminisced about the craziest things they had ever done together.
"God, those were great times," Justin said, still laughing.
"Yeah I know," Daphne agreed. "And how are you, Justin?" she looked at him with a curious face.
"Yeah, I'm good…" Justin trailed off as he realized there was no point in lying, "Well, that's not true. I'm not good at all."
"Justin," Daphne placed her hand on Justin's. "You know I'm here for you, right?"
"I know. And I'm sorry I just disappeared and didn't call."
"I don't blame you. After what happened, you just needed to get out of here… if it were me, I'd do the same thing."
"Yeah, but instead of helping me, it did the exact opposite. I stopped talking to everyone and tried to deal with the grief all by myself… and three years later, nothing has changed, I'm still stuck."
Daphne suddenly looked at him completely devastated and it didn't take long for tears to find their way down her cheeks…
"I'm so sorry, Justin…"
"Daph. What's wrong?"
"That night was my idea. My fucking idea..."
"What?" he breathed out. "Daphne, come on. You did what any friend would do… you wanted to help me because I screwed up."
"Yeah and look how that turned out…" she wiped away her tears.
And Justin was completely taken aback by how guilty Daphne felt about what happened that night. He had never once considered blaming her… well, how could he? She was just trying to help him.
"It was just a stupid accident Daphne… we had no idea this was going to happen."
And exactly in that moment it seemed to finally dawn on him - the meaning of the word accident - to this day everyone around him was telling him that what happened was just a terrible accident, but he refused to believe it because he just couldn't stop blaming himself for it... but saying that word out loud for the first time had a bigger impact on him than he ever thought it would. Almost as if he was slowly starting to realize that he wasn't the one to blame...