This is a sexually explicit story (at times) involving homosexuality. By continuing to read, you affirm under penalties of perjury that you are not a minor or in the company of a minor and are entitled to have access to this story.
The following is a fictitious story with no real basis or credibility. It is solely for the enjoyment of the reader. Its all just fun. It does not imply anything about the sexual preferences or lifestyle of Justin Timberlake or any other celebrity mentioned in the story.
The man walked with a grace and nobility that marked him as a man of serious convictions.
"Hello everyone. I am Gregory Stavros. I am here to offer my condolences on behalf of the entire Stavros family. Would Helena's grandson Michael be here?"
Justin moved aside, Gregory looking at the man sitting on the couch.
Michael stood up, staring at Gregory.
"I am Michael Tavarro. Welcome Gregory."
Everyone saw the shocked look on Gregory's face.
"The golden eyes of forgiveness. You do have them."
Michael looked at Justin, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.
Gregory was staring at Michael, lost in his own thoughts.
It's true. He has the eyes. It's a miracle. What of the other signs? I must know.
Gregory recovered his emotions, walking up to Michael, staring into his golden eyes.
In them, he saw much love and much grief.
"Your grandmother was a phenomenal woman, Michael. She saw much truth in the world. For that our family will always be thankful."
Michael relaxed a bit, extending his hand.
Gregory took it, shaking his hand.
"It's a pleasure meeting you, Gregory."
Gregory nodded, suddenly feeling a warmth flow through his body.
He looked down at his enclosed hand, gasping.
On Michael's right hand was a blue and gold ring.
The ring given to him in love from Justin. His golden engagement ring.
Gregory sank to his knees, sobbing with deep emotion.
"I didn't believe her! I thought she was mistaken! But it is you!"
Everyone looked confused, Michael staring at Gregory.
Gregory leaned forward, kissing Michael's ring.
"You've finally come. Our prayers have been answered. I give my life to you, my sovereign. Blessed are you, our holy Warrior of God!"
Michael stared at the young man kneeling in front of him.
"Please get up, Gregory. I don't know who you think I am, but I am only myself."
Gregory rose, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"For centuries, my family has devoted their lives in prayer and patience, waiting for this moment!
For the Warrior of God to proclaim himself! Are you such a man?"
Michael pulled his hand away, backing up a bit.
"Is this another devotion to me, another harbinger of faith to test me? Does everyone want a piece of my soul?" Michael said, Justin picking up on the tiredness and anger brewing in Michael.
"I beg your forgiveness. I shouldn't have acted so disrespectfully toward you. Please forgive me." Gregory said, sincerity and concern in his voice, Michael's demeanor changing.
"I'm sorry, it's been a trying, emotional day. I'm just on edge. I beg your forgiveness for my anger."
Gregory smiled, the smile adding beauty to his face.
"Your grandmother's loss will be felt in every heart of the Stavros family. She was loved by everyone. Her wisdom, love and courage were legendary. She was a wonderful lady. She brought grace and beauty to the soul of the Stavros family. You should be proud of your Greek heritage."
Michael smiled a tired smile, looking into Gregory's brown eyes.
"I am proud of both my Greek and Spanish heritages. I am of mixed blood, with a giving soul. A soul of faith and love. Both traits coming from both sides of my family."
Gregory stared in fascination at Michael, lost in the powerful words he spoke.
"You are an exceptional man, Michael. Your words fill my soul with love."
Michael blushed, then sighed, sitting back down.
Justin sat beside him, Gregory sitting on the couch beside them.
"How are we related, Gregory?" Michael asked, everyone seeing Michael's tired gaze.
"My grandfather Hercos and your grandfather Augustus were brothers. We are third cousins. Augustus was the elder son, becoming head of the family. Early in his life, he was found to be true in the faith, becoming the Lord of Devotion also. When he died, my father became head of the family, being the eldest son and Augustus having no male heirs. But no other Lords of Devotion have been named. No one has been found worthy of that high standing. The cycle has ended. Your grandfather was the last of our line of spiritual leaders. That in itself was a sign of the coming revelation."
"I'm tired, Gregory. I can't focus on what we're talking about just now. I'll deal with whatever it is you're saying after this is over. After you've said your farewell to the Lady of Devotion."
Gregory teared up, hearing that title.
"As you wish, Michael. But as the head of the Stavros family, I will be here in any way you need. This shall be a moving tribute to your grandmother's loving soul. We would like to play a part in that final tribute. If it's not too hard for you, I'd like to discuss how we want to show her our devotion and love. And you can tell me your requirements."
Michael nodded, everyone quietly listening, Gregory beginning to talk.
The discussion was over in about half an hour, Gregory asking Michael questions, jotting notes down on a pad Zach had brought him.
"I'll discuss this all with Silas, and contact Father Gabriel, the parish priest. I'll set everything up as you've requested. And I'm glad you've allowed my family a say in this tribute."
Michael smiled, Gregory shaking his hand.
Michael stared at him, Gregory lost in those golden eyes again.
"Faith, trust, love and courage. They are the cornerstones of the devotion." Michael said, Gregory's face going white.
Justin looked between the two men, sensing some shocking revelation.
The silence was broken by Justin's family walking into the living room.
Michael stood up, Lynn pulling him into her arms.
"Oh, my beautiful Michael! Mom's here now! I'll take care of you!"
Justin was in tears, hearing the deep love in his mother's voice.
Michael was in tears again, Gregory standing quietly to the side, watching the touching scene.
Silas looked at him, the two gazing at each other with mutual respect.
Randall, Paul and Lisa all hugged Michael, Lisa sensing his tiredness.
"You look exhausted, Michael." Lisa said, kissing his cheek.
"It's been a hard week."
Jonathan and Stevie both hugged Michael, Michael feeling his brothers' love.
Justin guided him back to the couch, Silas introducing Gregory to everyone, Michael quietly watching him.
"I sensed something between you two, Mico." Justin said quietly in Michael's mind.
"I think something's going to happen in regards to the prophecy, Jus. The Stavros family play some part in it. But I don't want to think about all that right now. I just want to be here with my family."
Justin teared up hearing Michael's love for his family.
Justin snuggled a little closer, Michael remaining quiet.
Jim and Sharon walked in, informing everyone that lunch was ready.
Gregory bowed out of an invitation to lunch, saying he had things to organize.
He thanked Michael again, Justin remaining at his side.
"You will come for dinner tonight?" Michael asked, Gregory nodding, Silas remaining quiet.
Gregory took his leave, Silas walking him outside.
When the two men were outside, Gregory turned looking into Silas' grey eyes.
"It is him, Silas. The one that we've waited for."
Silas looked at him, his gaze sure and determined.
"I won't let you hurt him, Gregory. He's more that just what you seek. He's so much more. That's why Helena waited so long to inform you all. She wanted him to be strong, to be his own self before you marked him as what you believed him to be."
"Why didn't she tell me of the ring? Does he know what he wears?"
Silas looked into Gregory's troubled eyes.
"He wears a ring given to him in love. It's his engagement ring. Justin and Michael are getting married."
Gregory froze, staring at him.
"Yes, Gregory. It was given to him in love, like it had been originally given to its first wearer. He is whom you seek."
Gregory's eyes teared.
"I will respect the sanctity of this solemn occasion. We will say goodbye to the Lady of Devotion. But after that, Michael needs to know who he is."
Silas laughed, Gregory surprised by his laughter.
"I think you, and all your family are the ones who'll be surprised. Michael is somewhat unbelievable."
Gregory stared at him, then smiled, hugging the older man warmly, Silas hugging him back.
"I see why Augustus saw such friendship in you. You are a courageous man, Silas."
"Right now, Michael is my greatest concern. He means everything to me. Almost as much as Helena did."
Gregory nodded, breaking the hug.
"I know how hard all this must be on you. It's heartwarming to know she had love all those years after Augustus passed on. You'd both been truly blessed, Silas."
Silas nodded, wiping his wet eyes.
"The Warrior is among us. We will honor his wishes in all things." Gregory said, making the sign of the cross over his heart. Silas did the same.
Gregory walked down the walkway, getting into his car.
Silas watched him leave, a tear falling down his cheek.
"Oh God, Helena! Why have you left me to walk this path alone?"
After lunch, everyone quietly spent time with Michael, all feeling his tiredness and his hidden grief, which still threatened to erupt.
Lynn was worried, seeing the sparkle and beauty gone from his tired face.
Justin was by his side, rubbing his back, Michael sighing.
"I think you need to lay down again for a while, love." Justin said, Michael nodding.
Justin led Michael back upstairs again, Justin sensing his exhaustion.
"You need to rest, Mico. I feel your tiredness so much."
Michael laid down in his bed, Justin snuggling up against him.
"Are you okay, love? Need a blanket?"
"I'm fine, Jus. I just don't know if I can sleep."
Justin lay against him, thinking quietly.
Then he smiled, beginning to sing.
Michael turned his head, laying it on Justin's chest, closing his eyes when he heard Justin's soft voice fill the room.
Who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows?
And who can say if your love grows,
As your heart chose?
Dee dah day, dee dah day, dee dah day
Dee dah doe day doe, dee doe day doe
Who can say why your heart sighs,
As your love flies?
And who can say why your heart cries,
When your love lies (dies)?
Dee dah day, dee dah day, dee dah day
Dee dah doe day doe, dee doe day doe
Who can say when the roads meet,
That love might be,
In your heart.
And who can say when the day sleeps,
If the night keeps all your heart?
Night keeps all your heart...
Dee dah dah dah
Dee dah dah dah
Dee dah dah dah
Dee dah dah dah
Who can say if your love grows,
As your heart chose?
And who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows?
Justin's voice faded out, Justin looking into Michael's sleeping face, which was now laid back on the pillow.
Justin snuggled up against Michael, closing his own eyes.
Two hours later someone gently shook Justin's shoulder.
Justin opened his eyes, looking into two golden orbs.
"Hello, grandfather." Justin said, Alberto smiling back at him.
"Hello, Justin. How is my Michael?"
Justin looked over at Michael seeing him still sleeping, Justin thankful for that.
Justin quietly got up, hugging Alberto.
"He's doing okay, Alberto. But it's been a hard day. He's so emotionally exhausted."
Alberto nodded, Justin guiding him to a chair, Justin sitting down beside him.
"Paulo told me everything, Justin. I feel so much love and worry for my special grandchild. Nana meant the world to him. And she was such a wonderful person in her own right."
"Yes she was, Grandfather. I don't know how he's going to get over this. He's been so grief-stricken. He's buried it again, but I still feel it, deep in his soul. I have to destroy that grief."
Alberto put his arm around Justin, watching him staring at Michael's sleeping form.
"Your friends arrived just before me. Their all waiting downstairs. How about we let Michael sleep for a while? You need some warm friendship and love yourself, Justin."
Justin nodded, helping Alberto up, Justin pulling a blanket over Michael.
Alberto stood quietly watching, moved by this act of tender love.
"Paulo will come up and sit with him."
Justin nodded, the two men walking out of the room.
Downstairs, Justin was greeted with hugs from Lonnie, Josh, Lance, Joey, Kelly, Chris and Vicky.
Paulo went upstairs to be with his brother, Alberto hugging him before he left.
"How's Michael?" They all voiced together, Justin feeling their love and worry for his Mico.
"He's finally sleeping, he needed the rest." Justin said quietly.
"And how are you doing?" Lynn asked, wrapping her arms around her son.
Justin immediately burst into tears.
"I'm so worried about him! He's buried his grief deep in his soul! How do I destroy that??"
Lynn held her son tightly, Randall putting his arm around him as well.
"You can destroy it with your love, Justin. Inside Michael is your love. And I believe it's stronger than his grief. Your love will do battle against it, and win." Randall said, Justin hearing the truth in his father's words.
"Your right, Dad. I love him, I'll do all it takes to make him smile again."
Silas stood up, walking up to Justin.
"Justin, my friend. There's a lot going on here that Michael doesn't know about. I know you're smart enough to sense that out. Gregory must have piqued your interest. What he talked of."
Justin nodded, looking into Silas' grey tired eyes.
"What's going on, Uncle Silas? Is this something that's going to upset my Mico?"
"I can't say how Michael will react to it. We'll just have to wait and see. As for the Stavros family, they are lost in a time of change. Holding onto an old ideal, waiting for something to ignite their faith. For now, they won't interfere with Michael's mourning. Only time will reveal the trueness of their faith."
Alberto stared at Silas, his face showing concern.
"Can you tell us what's going on?" Lance said, looking at Silas with compassion.
"Michael's grandfather's family is important to Michael. In time, all will be known. Right now, we won't talk of it. It's something that can wait until after this."
Justin put his arm around Silas, sensing his tiredness also.
"Uncle Silas, I sense that you need some rest ,too."
"I am tired, Justin. I'll beg your pardon. I need to take a nap also."
Lynn put her arm around the older man, guiding him quietly upstairs.
"What's going on, Jus? Who's Gregory?" Josh asked, confusion etched on his face.
Jake quietly told everyone about meeting the young man, and his reaction to Michael's presence, as if Michael was some kind of saviour or something.
"It appears that both sides of Michael's family are special." Lance said quietly, Josh snuggling up to him on the couch.
"Yes, there's something going on here, and after all this is over, I'm going to find out what it is. I won't let anyone hurt my Mico." Justin said, his fingers stroking the chain around his neck, the one Michael had given him.
Everyone quietly talked, Lisa and Randall talking to Justin, being there for their son.
Two hours later, a more refreshed-looking Michael walked into the living room, Justin on his feet immediately, hugging him as soon as he entered.
"Feeling better, love?"
"Yes, Jus. I feel better. Hi guys." Michael smiled, everyone hugging him gently.
Alberto hugged his grandson, Michael crying against his chest.
"I love you, Michael. As did your grandmother. We've lost a very special lady. Her love will shine in all of us."
Michael parted from his grandfather, looking at everyone.
"Thanks to all of you for coming here. You don't know what this means to me." Michael said, everyone seeing the happiness in his face that they all were here for him.
"You're our friend and brother, we wouldn't be anywhere else." Lance said, hugging Michael again.
Michael sat down beside him on the couch, Justin on his other side.
"Trevor, Nick, Seth and Tomas, as well as Kevin and Father Derrick are all flying in tomorrow for the wake, Michael. They all want to be here for you too." Josh said, smiling at his friend.
Michael teared up, Justin rubbing his shoulder.
"I feel so loved. I feel so loved." He said quietly.
Everyone smiled, Michael looking up at them all.
"I've a favor to ask some of you." Michael quietly said.
Everyone nodded, Michael sighing.
"Josh, Lance, Jake and Paulo. My four brothers of love. Would you, along with Seth and Tomas, be Nana's pallbearers. I want her carried to her final rest wrapped in the love of my loving friends."
The four men were in tears, all of them getting up, hugging Michael, who'd stood up.
"We'd be honored, Michael. She had a place in all of our hearts." Paulo said, looking at his brother with love.
Michael sat back down, Justin kissing him tenderly.
The front door bell rang, Zach answering it.
He came back into the living room smiling, with an older man, who wore a priest's wardrobe.
Gregory followed them.
Michael smiled, getting up, hugging the older man tightly.
"Michael, my young friend. I am so glad to see you. I'm deeply sorry about Helena. She was a loving, giving woman, who had the love of God inside her. My deepest love and condolences, my friend." The man said, Michael smiling.
"Thank you, Father Gabriel. " Michael said, smiling. He turned, introducing the priest to everyone, everyone shaking his hand.
"How goes the work of God, Papa Gabe?" Zach said, everyone looking surprised at his forwardness with the priest.
Father Gabriel laughed, tussling Zach's hair.
"I see our Zacky hasn't changed."
Michael smiled, Justin relieved that something was finally making him smile. Justin immediately liked the older man.
Michael looked at everyone smiling.
"Papa Gabe has been our friend, and our family priest, for years. Zacky and I sang in his choir and were altar boys at our church. And we both went to his summer camp. He's part of my fondest memories of this place."
Father Gabriel smiled, then looked at Michael with concern.
"I've read all that's happened, Michael. I've talked to Paul's mother. It was such a tragedy. You never deserved that kind of pain and hurt."
"It's over now, Father. I've gone on with a cleansed heart, and I'm truly happy with my life. Up until now."
Michael's face fell, Justin putting his arm around him. Michael looked at the priest again.
"Papa Gabe, I'd like the choir to sing again."
Father Gabriel smiled, looking at Zach.
"Already arranged, Michael. When I found out about Helena, I knew you'd want to get the choir together again. I've called everyone. Sister Jacqueline will conduct, although she'll never replace Helena's finesse."
Michael smiled, remembering so many Sundays singing with his grandmother guiding the choir.
"I want to do this as a tribute to her love for music. And I'll be singing a special song."
Everyone looked surprised, Justin looking at Michael.
"Are you sure, babe? It's going to be a rough time for you."
"I need to do this for her, Jus. And for myself. It's my way of saying goodbye." Michael's eyes full of tears.
Justin tightened his hold on him, kissing his cheek.
"We all understand, love."
Father Gabriel smiled seeing the love the two showed each other.
"I have another friend. Father Derrick. I'd like him to play a part in the service as well. He's arriving tomorrow."
"Certainly, Michael. I'll talk with him tomorrow."
"Everything's been arranged, Michael." Gregory said, walking up to them.
"The viewing begins at one tomorrow afternoon. A mass will be observed tomorrow evening. The funeral is at eleven Friday morning. The family is ready for their vigil."
Michael nodded looking at Silas.
"She'll be laid to rest beside your grandfather, in their crypt. They'll be together forever." Silas said, tears flowing again.
Michael walked up to him, hugging him tight.
"I've forgotten how much you loved them both, Uncle Silas. You'll be beside them, when your time comes. I promise you that."
Silas wiped his eyes, staring into Michael's tearing golden ones.
"I'd be honored, Michael. Her love was all I had. And I made her a promise to always be here for you."
"You always have been, Unky."
Justin was tearing up, as were a lot of others, including Gregory.
Silas broke their hug, looking at Father Gabriel.
"Will you stay for supper, Gabe?"
"Yes thank you, Silas." The priest replied.
Lynn and Sharon got up, heading into the kitchen.
"Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes." Lynn said.
"You should know, Michael. There are reporters snooping around, from New York." Gregory said, looking at Michael with concern.
"Guess the California press contacted the New York affiliates." Josh said, Justin looking concerned.
"Don't worry, Michael. Let me handle the press. I have connections. They'll respect your wanting to mourn in private. I'll see to that." Gregory said, Justin seeing determination and truth written across his face.
"Thank you Gregory. I can't handle that right now. I just want to be with my family."
Gregory nodded, smiling at him.
Everyone sat down, watching Michael sit down at the piano that stood in the corner of the room.
Michael strummed along the keys, looking out the window at the encroaching darkness.
Justin sat down beside him, putting his arm around him, Michael smiling.
"She taught me how to play this piano, Jus. She ignited in my heart my love for music. I couldn't say goodbye to her without showing her my love in music."
Justin smiled, Michael looking down at the keys.
"Play something, my love. You know I love to hear you play."
Michael smiled looking into Justin's blue eyes, seeing the love shining bright.
Michael looked out the window for a moment, then placed his fingers on the keys.
Everyone's attention was on him and Justin sitting together, having heard the conversation.
"This song was one of Nana's favorites. I sang it for her whenever she was feeling blue, when she was thinking of my grandfather. The words mean more to me now because it's how I feel about her."
Justin leaned in closer to Michael, sensing his sadness.
Michael began playing the music, then his rich voice filled the room, everyone lost in its haunting beauty and the meaningful words.
Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memories so clear
Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be?
That you are mine
And you are watching over me from up above
Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen
As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
'Cause you are mine
Watching me from up above
And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave
Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
Everyone was in tears when Michael finished the song.
Gregory looked totally shocked, staring at Michael.
To him, it felt like he'd just heard an angel singing.
Lynn and Sharon were wiping their eyes, having walked back in when they'd heard the music playing .
Paul put his arms around his wife, as did Jim.
Justin looked into Michael's golden wet eyes.
"That was beautiful, my love. She's heard it from heaven, I have no doubt of that."
Michael felt Justin's arms go around him. Michael laid his head on his lover's chest, closing his tearing eyes and softly crying.
"Dinner is ready if everyone would like to come into the dining room." Lynn said, people getting up, leaving the two to be alone.
Josh and Lance looked at Justin and Michael.
"We'll be there in a few minutes." Justin said quietly, both men nodding.
After everyone had gone, Michael looked up at Justin.
"I'm okay, Jus. Let's go eat."
Justin leaned in, kissing Michael tenderly on the lips. Michael felt Justin's love flow into him, lost in the kiss of love.
They parted, the two walking into the dining room.
An hour later, dinner now finished, Michael was quietly talking with Gregory and Father Gabriel about the service and arrangements.
Justin sat beside Josh and Lance, continually looking over at Michael.
"So what's the story with Gregory? We heard about his scene earlier." Josh asked quietly, looking at the breathtakingly beautiful young man.
"I don't know, Josh. But I have a feeling it's not going to be good. That it means more trouble for Mico. And that's not what I want, especially now."
Lance put his arm around Justin, feeling his concern.
"We're all here for him, Jus. We're not going to let anyone, or anything hurt him." Josh said, Lance looking at the determined look in Josh's eyes.
"Thanks, guys. That means a lot to me, and even more to Mico."
Both men smiled, Zach and Jake walking up to them.
Father Gabriel left around eight thirty, saying a moving group prayer with all of them before he left.
"I should be going also, Michael." Gregory said, Michael smiling at him.
"Where are you staying, Gregory?"
"At the Bathurst Inn." Gregory said, having flown in from Boston, where he lived.
"I want you to go back to your room, check out and come back here. You're family. There's plenty of room here."
Gregory smiled, then nodded.
"Thank you, Michael. I just wasn't sure that I was welcomed, after my undignified outburst this morning."
Michael put his hand on Gregory's shoulder.
"You are my family. You'll always be welcome. What happened today doesn't matter. I sense greatness and goodness in you, Gregory. Soon I'll know all about you, and what's destined for both of us. Until then, you're more than welcome to be my friend."
Gregory teared up, hugging Michael.
Justin, and the others remained quiet taking in all they saw.
"I'll be back shortly, cousin."
Gregory left, Michael hearing the front door closing.
He turned seeing everyone staring at him, Silas looking concerned.
"He's part of my family. As are all of you. Welcome him into your hearts. He's already in mine, for other reasons."
Michael walked out of the room, grabbing his coat off the hooks on the wall, as well as Justin's.
Justin walked out of the room, Michael smiling at him.
"Care to go for a walk, Jus? I need to get out of here for a while."
Justin smiled, Michael helping him on with his coat.
Justin popped back into the room, telling everyone where they were going.
Michael walked down the road, Justin's hand in his.
The darkness was deep, Justin not sure where they were headed.
Street lights were lit, but not too numerous.
"The air is so cool, the refreshing breath of night." Michael said, Justin remaining quiet.
He sensed Michael wanted to talk.
And talk he did.
They walked for a long time, Michael talking about his life here, reliving special memories.
Justin felt Michael's soul lighten, as if this talking was therapeutic for him.
"I loved this place so much, Jus. It just made me feel so free, so at peace. After my tortured childhood, I was able to live here in happiness. This place gave me that. My Nana gave me a life of love and happiness. I owe her so much. I am the man I am today because of her."
Justin smiled, hearing Michael's deep love for his grandmother.
"I thanked her for that, Michael. The day she left after Easter, she came up into our room. I was changing and she said she wanted to talk to me."
Michael looked into Justin's eyes in the shadowy darkness, stopping.
"She told me that she saw so much happiness in your eyes now, so much love. And that I was responsible for that. I told her that her being there for you, her loving you made the man that I met so easy to fall in love with."
Michael leaned in, kissing Justin's cool lips, warming them up immediately.
"Thank you for saying that, she would have appreciated that."
"She did. She started crying. She told me to always be there for you, to always love you. I think she knew her time was short. I sensed something was on her mind."
Michael broke their hug, looking down.
"Yes, Jus. I know she now knew it was all coming to an end. That she'd known for a long time. I just wish she would have told me. I could have spent so much more time with her, I could have loved her so much more!"
"Michael, you loved her with all of your heart. She knew that, as did I. Don't beat yourself up over what you could have done. Remember all the good things that you did do, and how much she loved you."
Michael nodded, looking ahead of them.
They'd walked for almost a half hour, finding themselves in front of the local high school.
Michael walked over, walking through the chain link fence, entering the football field.
He looked around, finally looking at one spot.
He walked over to it, Justin following.
He stood still, looking around at all the bleachers, his memory flooding back to a sunny day.
He turned, looking into Justin's blue eyes, Justin staring back.
"I've come full circle, Jus. On this spot seven years ago I was hit with a football. And on this spot I met Paul. My life changed from that day onward. I looked into his eyes and thought I'd found love. I was wrong, tragically wrong. But in those seven years, I've learned a lot about myself. And the greatest moment in all that time was that first night opening my eyes and looking into yours. I love you, Jus. I don't know how I could get through this without you."
Justin's smile lit up his face, Michael kissing him deeply.
"I'm free from my pain, I'm free from my past. I can now face my future. I love you, Jus. That's all that matters to me."
Justin kissed Michael again, Michael seeing him shiver a little.
"Let's go home, Jus. You're freezing, my love."
"I'll always be warm, wrapped in your love." Justin said, Michael smiling.
The two walked back, hand in hand.
Justin awoke to the light of a dawning sky.
He moved in the small bed, finding himself alone.
He sat up, looking around the room.
Michael wasn't in the room.
Justin stood up, pulling on a t-shirt and his jeans.
He walked out of the room, the house silent in the early morning hour.
He looked at his watch, seeing five o'clock.
He quietly walked downstairs, finding it quiet also.
He walked through the downstairs, finally seeing a light coming from under the door of what Justin remembered as being Augustus' office.
He quietly opened the door, looking in.
Michael sat on a leather couch, staring up at a portrait of his grandfather that hung above his desk.
In Michael's hand, and on the couch were numerous books, most looking very old.
"Mico, I woke up and you were gone. How long have you been in here?"
Michael looked up at Justin, Justin seeing the tiredness in his golden eyes. Justin sensed that Michael had been up for a while.
Justin walked over to him, clearing a spot on the couch beside him, sitting down, Michael kissing him tenderly.
"I couldn't sleep. I needed to do something, so I came in here to read."
"What have you been reading?"
"Some of my grandfather's books. Most of them are of religious or historical backgrounds. But I've found some interesting things to read."
Justin smiled, laying his head on Michael's shoulder.
He stared up at the portrait of Augustus Stavros.
The picture was of Augustus standing in front of his desk. His left hand lay on a cross that hung from his neck, his fingers on the golden cross, which had Jesus hanging from it.
His other hand was on top of a globe, which sat on his desk. Which still sat on his desk.
The look in Augustus' eyes was one of deep faith and determination.
"Your grandfather was a striking man, Mico. He looks so determined and forceful in that portrait."
Michael looked up, smiling at the picture.
"I only wish I could have met him. Nana told me so much about him. How loving, giving, and determined he was. How to him family and faith went hand in hand. He was a kind, giving leader, and one of the greatest spiritual men that his family had ever known."
"The Lord of Devotion?"
"Yes, the Lord of Devotion. I now know what that means. I've found part of the answer in these books. But I've always known, due to Adrian's insightful teachings."
Justin looked at Michael, feeling Michael's calmness and respect. But behind all that, Justin still felt that stone of grief, embedded in Michael's soul.
"You should have slept some more, love. I still feel the tiredness in you. Today's going to be a long, emotional day."
"Jus, I'll handle what I need to do today because you'll be right there beside me. Thank you for that, for loving me so much. I know this last week has been hard on you also. I know it's been a while since I have showed you our center of love."
Justin leaned in, kissing Michael deeply.
"It's an emotional time, Mico. For both of us. I am wrapped in your love, the physical side can wait. Until we've weathered this storm. I love you, Michael. I'm here in all ways."
Michael smiled, kissing him gently.
"Then I can get through this. With your love, I'll get through all of this."
Justin smiled, sitting up straighter.
"How about I make you breakie, Mico? It's been a while since I pampered my man."
"I'd love that. But first I have to tell you something."
Justin sat quietly, waiting for Michael to talk. He sensed Michael was weighing his words carefully.
"There's a direct link between the Stavros and the Tavarro families. I'm sure of it. What that link is, I haven't quite figured out yet. But I sense that after I've learned what's going on, I'll be forced to make a decision. And that decision could affect a lot of people. Myself included."
Justin took Michael's hand in his.
"Whatever happens, I know in my heart that my Mico will never change. He'll always be the man that I love. And I'll always be the man he needs to love."
Michael teared up, kissing Justin's moist lips.
"I'll always love you, my darling."
Justin smiled, kissing him back again.
"Let's get some food into my man."
They got up, Justin guiding Michael to the kitchen.
They remained together, touching and kissing each other, being close.
Justin made Michael an omelet, Michael sitting, watching his man cook.
They sat down together, just being alone.
After they'd eaten, Justin looked at his watch.
"Six thirty. People should be getting up soon."
"How about we make everyone breakfast?. It's going to be a long day." Michael said, Justin nodding.
He felt that if Michael was busy, he'd keep his mind off Nana.
"Sure thing, sweetie. I know everyone would love one of your hearty breakies."
Michael smiled, getting up.
A half hour later, the house was filled with the rich aromas of breakfast cooking.
Joey walked into the kitchen, followed by Chris.
"Ah, looks like our plan worked, love. They've sent out the scouts first. Although Chris couldn't find his way down a four lane highway." Michael said.
Justin burst into laughter, Michael smiling widely.
"Morning, guys." Joey smiled, Chris giving Michael the finger.
"Seems Snookums isn't a morning person." Michael said, Justin smirking.
"Tavarro, I'm hungry, and I'm tired. Give me some grub."
"Love ya too, Snookums."
Chris sighed, leering at Michael.
"Where's the coffee?" Chris yawned, not looking at anyone now.
"It's on the counter, in the coffee pot, oh wise Snookums."
"God damn it, Tavarro! Would you stop calling me that. Vicky's the only one who calls me that! Why don't you go and preform some miracle or something, ya freak." Chris barked, Michael stepping back.
Michael's face changed, Chris realizing he'd barked at Michael. And then he realized what he had said.
"Excuse me." Michael said, walking out of the room.
Chris lowered his head, not wanting to look into Justin's burning eyes.
"Thanks a lot, Chris!" Justin said, Joey looking on quietly.
"I'm sorry, Jus. I don't know why I said that." Chris said, looking at his friend now, tears starting in his eyes.
Justin stopped at the doorway, turning back to look at him.
"He's on edge, he's tired, and he's an emotional wreck. Thanks for hurting his feelings." Justin said, walking out of the room, right past Paulo and Jake.
"What's going on?" Jake said, Joey sighing.
"Michael's upset. Chris said the wrong thing to him. Right, Chris?"
Chris looked up, tears in his eyes.
"Yes, I yelled at him. God, how could I be so insensitive??"
Joey put his arm around Chris, looking at his tearful face.
"We're all on edge, no one more than Michael. I don't know why you said that, but I think Michael's the one you need to talk to. You need to make this right between you two."
Chris nodded, looking up at everyone, Josh and Lance, as well as Justin's parents now walking into the kitchen.
"Excuse me, everyone. I have to talk to someone."
Chris walked out of the room, Vicky walking in through the other doorway.
"Where's Chris going?" She asked, Joey putting his hand on her shoulder.
"Sit down everyone, I'll tell you what happened."
Chris walked outside, into the lush back yard, seeing Michael and Justin sitting on a bench under a large elm tree.
Justin looked up at Chris, his eyes a mask of anger. But Chris saw love there as well.
Chris walked over, standing in front of the two men, seeing Michael's head lowered.
"Could I talk to you alone for a moment, Mike?"
Michael looked up, Chris seeing tears in his golden eyes.
Justin looked like he didn't want to leave, wanting to be there to protect Michael.
"This is between myself and Chris, love. I'll be okay."
Justin stood up, looking at Chris.
"I'll be standing over there if I'm needed."
Chris blushed, seeing the look Justin was giving him.
The "hurt my Mico again, and I'll whoop your ass" look.
Justin walked over toward the house, sitting down on the porch steps, Chris sitting down beside Michael.
The two remained silent, Chris looking around the backyard, then up into the tree.
"This is a beautiful spot, Michael."
"Yes, I always came out here to think, and reason things out. Nana and I had a lot of wonderful talks here."
Chris teared up, looking at Michael.
"I'm sorry I said that, Michael."
"Why are you sorry? It's how you feel, isn't it? I'm a freak to you."
Chris teared up.
"I was wrong to say that, Michael. It's just I've never met anyone like you before. Maybe I do feel strange around you at times. You have to admit, you're one of a kind. What with all the magic stuff and such. But you're not a freak, Michael. You're a kind, loving, giving man. I was just tired, I didn't sleep much last night. I'm sorry I said that. I didn't mean it."
Michael looked up into Chris' tearing eyes.
"Why didn't you sleep last night?"
Chris looked away, Michael turning his face back to his with his hand.
"I'm scared, Michael."
"Scared? Of what?"
"I'm scared of death. I've never been around it much. My family's all still alive. I don't see death much. And here now I have to deal with the loss of someone I knew. Your grandmother was a special, wonderful lady. I only knew her for a short time. But she was so special. Just like you, Michael. I don't know how you're getting through this tragedy. I'd be destroyed."
Michael put his arm around Chris, realizing how special he was himself.
"Death is a part of life, Chris. I've seen lots of it. And I'll see a lot more. But I like to think of it as a passing, from one stage of our existence into another. I'm not afraid of death. I know it will capture me one day, as it does everyone."
"What's heaven like, Michael? I've wanted to ask you that since the day you were shot."
Michael smiled, hugging a tearful Chris against him.
"Heaven is beautiful, Chris. It's the place you've always dreamed it would be. All the love and beautiful music, all the wondrous sites. It's simply breathtaking. In its beauty and its simplicity."
"Heaven is what we want it to be. That's its secret. Your idea of heaven is different from mine. That's the way God intended it to be."
"Then we'll all be happy when we go there?"
Michael smiled, Chris staring at him.
"Oh God! Of course!!"
Chris looked at Michael, seeing a look of revelation on his face. As if something had just dawned on him.
"Thank you, Chris. You've just made me realize that I've been looking at this all wrong."
"At what, Michael?"
"At Nana's leaving me. I was so hurt, so mad at myself for that. So mad at her for leaving me. But I never realized what this means to her. She's out of pain, she's wrapped in God's love now. She'll always be happy, she'll be with those that need her the most. My Mom and my grandfather. She'll be with me always, but I don't need her like they've needed her. I have my Justin to love me. I have all of you guys, my dearest friends. I'm going to be okay. I'll get through these next two days and the days after with your love. Thank you, Chris. For showing me that I have to live life."
Chris smiled, lost in the beautiful reasoning that Michael had revealed.
"I'll be emotional, so emotional, tomorrow when I have to say goodbye to her. I'm glad all my friends will be beside me. With all of you, I will survive this."
"Thank you, Michael. For forgiving me, and for helping me see the same thing. I love you, my friend."
The two hugged, getting up from the bench.
Justin who'd been standing a few feet away, had heard everything.
His face was covered in tears, walking up to Chris, hugging him tight, kissing his cheek.
"I'm sorry for being mad at you, Chris. I just didn't understand."
"You heard everything, didn't you?" Chris said blushing.
"Yes, the acoustics out here are phenomenal. I love you man."
Chris smiled, hugging Justin, then smiling at Michael.
Chris walked back into the house, going to find Vicky. He had to talk to her.
Justin turned as Michael pulled him close to him.
"You okay, babe?"
"Yes, Justin. You heard my reasoning, my own feelings said. I loved Nana, and always will. It's time for me to say goodbye to her. She'll always be with me, as will my parents."
Justin smiled, kissing him tenderly.
Justin still felt the grief in Michael's soul, but it no longer was concentrated, it was dissipated, floating around on the edges of their love.
Justin knew he could now destroy it.
"I heard a car pull up. That's probably Seth and Tomas."
Michael smiled, taking Justin's hand.
"Let's go and love our friends. And be loved by them."
Justin smiled walking into the house with Michael.
They found everyone in the kitchen, Seth and Tomas in tears as they hugged Michael.
"We loved her so much, Mikey! She was so like a grandmother to us both. Why'd she have to leave us so soon?" Seth said, sobbing against Michael, Michael hugging him tightly. Kevin stood beside his brother, seeing the grief in Seth's sobbing body.
Michael guided him to Tomas' open arms, Tomas holding his lover tightly.
"She was tired, Seth. She wasn't able to fight on any longer. She's in God's hands now." Michael said in tears, rubbing Seth's shoulder.
Father Derrick walked up to Michael, hugging him tight.
"God loves all his children, Michael. You have a special place in his heart."
Michael sobbed against his old friend, Justin rubbing his back.
Justin felt the grief flowing out of Michael now, unabated.
Tomorrow Michael would cleanse his soul of it, in a final farewell to the woman who'd been his rock for so long.
His loving Nana.
Michael broke the hug, wiping his eyes.
"I have so many people who love me now. So many rocks to cling to. I'll never sink below the water of loneliness and grief ever again. Thank you all for bringing your love here for me."
Everyone was in tears, Michael in the center of their love.
End of Chapter 108
Michael has come to terms with his grief, his love for everyone stronger than ever.
He'll need all their love to get through the coming months.
And so the next chapter deals with Nana's final farewell.
It will be emotional, and surprising, in its beauty and in Michael's loving touch.
I wanted it to be special, I hope I can live up to your expectations.
Together we'll cling to each other's love as she leaves our center stage.
But her wisdom, and her love for Michael, will resurface again.
And after that Gregory's revelations will surface, with some surprising results.
Read on faithful readers, and forgive me if this drama wasn't what you wanted.
In faith's center.