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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.

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