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. It's 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.
Raphael stopped at the entrance to the courtyard, looking into his father's eyes.
"For you, my Father. For you and for our family, I went on a trek of faith. To find the binding artifact of our faith in God. I give this to you and to our family, my Father. It shall be a sign to the world of our faith in him."
Adrian felt a greatness of faith and joy in Raphael's heart.
They all walked out into the courtyard, all of them stopping in silence.
Adrian stared at what stood in the center of the yard.
A wooden cross stood there, alone in its nakedness.
Adrian walked forward, his family remaining still.
He walked up to it.
He looked up at it, seeing the darkness of the wood, seeing the marks of truth upon it.
"It cannot be!" he softly said, his hand gently laying against it.
He felt an instant recognition, an instant energy flow through him.
He fell to his knees, bowing his head in deep love.
"The cross of our Lord! The cross of truth!" he said, all his family kneeling behind him.
"Praise be to you, our Lord! Praise be to this symbol of our devotion!"
Michael moved his head around, feeling all the eyes of his family upon him.
He also felt the shock in all of them.
Father Nico rose up, staring at his cousin.
"It cannot be, Michael! That is impossible!"
Michael rose up, standing in front of all of them.
The final truth was about to begin.
"Yes, children of Tavarro. The wooden cross hanging on the wall of St. Aurelia's is the True Cross."
The Walk of Truth
Michael felt the silence on the terrace, the whole group taking in his words.
Hell, to his own mind it seemed unbelievable.
That their ancestor had found the cross of Jesus, the one true cross.
But the voice in his mind told him the truth of that revelation.
Raphael had indeed found the cross and it now hung in St. Aurelia's.
Father Nico walked up to Michael, his eyes full of tears.
"It is the symbol of our faith, the greatest artifact our world could ever find! And to think it's been right here with us for so long!"
Michael felt his cousin kissing his cheek, the priest's tears touching him.
"Yes, Nicholas. The secret of St. Aurelia's. Visible to all of us, but hidden in history. Its greatness was lost through time, perhaps on purpose. It's greatness now dwelling as a symbol of our faith. When in reality it is faith's true cross. The cross upon which our Lord was crucified."
Alberto and his family were in tears, their heads bowed, as were the Stavros'.
"The greatness of God's love in his trusting us with such a treasure! It truly is the work of God!" Alberto said, crossing himself, others doing the same.
"Do you know what this means?" Chris said, Joey and others looking at him.
Chris stood up, trembling, walking over and kneeling in front of Michael.
"I doubted the truth and the validity of your family's claims, Michael. I somehow thought that it was fanciful hope and wishful dreams. But God, Mikey! Your family has been chosen by God! Singled out for a higher purpose!" he said, his eyes full of tears.
Michael put his hand on Chris' shoulder, smiling at him.
"To believe in him is to be chosen, Chris. We all believe in him and are all chosen to spread his love and faith. That is God's purpose for all of us. To show his love, to give it freely. My ancestors did that with all their hearts. My family will do the same. The evil shall pass, the greatness of their destiny shall come to pass."
Chris stood, Vicky putting her arm around him.
"So much faith, and so much love. You are the one, Mikey." Chris said, wiping his eyes.
Michael smiled up at him.
"Took ya long enough, Snookums."
Chris laughed, as did Vicky and others as well.
Michael's humor defusing the awed wonder wrapped around everyone.
"What lays in that church, the holy cross of faith, shall stay there. It is there for a purpose. Raphael was sent on that quest, guided to that cross by God. For what we now stand ready for. For the final confrontation between good and evil. Please come on out, Kona."
Everyone looked surprised, looking towards the terrace doors.
Kona, Mayo and Lini were standing in the just opened doorway all staring at Michael.
"Welcome again to the Villa, my Hawaiian brethren." Michael said, standing up, Justin taking his arm and guiding him towards them.
Everyone was staring at Michael, wondering how he knew they had been there.
Kona smiled widely, walking up to him, hugging him gently.
"How are you, cousin? Are you okay? You don't seem worse for wear."
Michael smiled, laughing lightly.
"Takes more than a flying leap of faith to slow me down."
She smiled widely, Mayo now beside them.
"Hello, Michael. It's Mayou." he softly said, looking at his cousin.
"I know, Mayou. And I feel Lini as well. Welcome to the time of destiny. So glad you are here, more brethren of my Stavros family."
Kona looked at Gregory, the man bowing.
"The Stavros and Tavarros together at last. Guided by faithfulness and love. Your faith and love, Warrior." Kona said, Gregory now hugging her with a smile.
Justin guided Michael back to his seat, Gregory and Julius quietly conversing with their Hawaiian relations.
The three new guests looked at Michael, their eyes wide with wonder.
"Do not be shocked, do not be awed. God's hand has been in all of this, from the moment Adrian knelt first in front of that same cross. His life he gave to God's love, as did all of his children. Raphael was the greatest and most devoted of them, living his life for God and for family. But Raphael was something more. Something wonderful and deeply moving. If everyone is settled, I shall get to the end of his tale. Or his beginning."
Justin looked confused, snuggling against Michael.
"His beginning, my love?"
Michael's hand was upon the stone again, his fingers caressing it and the cross around his neck.
"Yes, Jus. His beginning. The beginning of his destiny. I am not the only one destined to follow a path of destiny. He followed his own. Two weeks after Raphael returned from Judea, he had a vision. A vision of truth. Raphael found out what his destiny was. And who he was."
Father Nico stared at his cousin, sitting on the edge of his seat.
"What do you mean, Michael? He was Raphael Tavarro, Adrian's youngest son."
Michael smiled, folding his hands in front of him.
"For all purposes and all meaning that's true. But Raphael was something else. Raphael was a weapon."
Everyone looked confused.
"A weapon? A weapon for whom?"
"A weapon for goodness. A weapon for love. He was born into Adrian's family for a single purpose. To protect them all. To protect their goodness. And that he did that first time, until his death at the age of ninety three."
Michael removed the stone from around his neck, sighing quietly.
"Raphael became patriarch after Adrian's long life of goodness ended. He led his family with deep love, faith and goodness. When Raphael was nearing the end of his own life, he made a visit to the Room of Life. He and his parents were the only three who knew how to enter the room after the family had completed it. The secret of its entrance vanished with Raphael and Arturo."
"Arturo? He stayed with Raphael?" Marco asked, looking at everyone.
"I think you all sense the meaning in that." Michael said, smiling.
"They fell in love." Randall said quietly, with deep feeling, everyone looking at him with surprise.
"Yes, Dad. Arturo and Raphael fell in love. They were together for almost seventy years. Their family loved him as a brother, as a son and loved one. Arturo found peace and happiness in Raphael's arms. He died two days after Raphael, unable to go on without his love. I sense how great that love must have been between the two of them. I feel the same for my Justin."
Justin teared up, his arm going around him.
"On that final visit to the Room of Life, Raphael found the Stone of Vengeance sitting upon the marble altar. The prophesied stone of destiny, left there by God. He himself carried it into St. Aurelia's, giving the people the prophecy handed down to him by his father. It must have been a moving sight to see Raphael walking into that church with the stone in his hands, the cross on the wall, the faithful following him. The man was love at its best. That was why God chose him to be the Protector."
"The Protector, Michael?" Alberto said, Michael moving his head in his direction.
"Yes, Grandfather. Raphael Tavarro has been the Protector of the Tavarro clan for over two thousand years."
Everyone looked surprised, Michael lowering his head.
"For every generation, he has returned when the threat of evil manifested itself. Each time he was born anew, as a new child of goodness. A new Tavarro clansman, to fight the evil of that generation. A man of protective love. Guiding his family with that love. An angel let into their midst to destroy the evil incarnate."
Alberto looked totally stunned, as did Paulo and Marco.
"Is Raphael here at this time?" Alberto asking the question on everyone's mind.
Michael raised his head, looking around.
Michael looked at his grandfather.
"As in every generation Raphael wanders among us. Each lifetime a new Trek of Faith. That is his destiny. I could name you every giving heart he has given to the Tavarro, and yes, Stavros, generations. And in this generation, his youthful love shows greatly. Isn't that correct, Samuel?"
All eyes turned in shock towards the young man, sitting quietly on the terrace's stone railing.
His head was lowered, it now raising upward.
He stared around at everyone, his eyes settling on Michael.
He smiled, everyone staring at him with awed faces.
For his once dark brown eyes were now a light shade of gold.
Jonathan stood beside him, staring with awed wonder at his friend.
Samuel stood up, walking slowly to Michael, seeing the smile on his blind face.
"You have the greatest love, our Messenger."
Michael's hand went forward, Samuel taking it.
"It wasn't hard to feel your specialness, Samuel. To feel the deep love resonating off your heart. I can feel Raphael's love shining in your now golden eyes. And the stone guided me to its master."
Samuel smiled, leaning forward, kissing Michael's cheek.
Julius stared at his son, Barlow standing beside his brother.
"It is true, Father. I am he. I am Raphael. His spirit, his heart and love resonate through me. I've known since the beginning of my life. I see in my mind's eye all that I have lived, all that I have seen. But no greater love have I shared than yours and our family's. I have watched it grow through generations. And now it ends soon for me. My destiny ends with the Messenger's. For all of us shall be healed. I've waited so long for this, and now I see it here today on the threshold of tomorrow."
Michael stood up, Justin standing with him, Justin staring at Samuel.
"A greater love I haven't seen than both of yours. Not since my Arturo." Samuel said, his eyes glistening with tears.
"He waits for you, my friend. He shall be with you forever." Michael said, Samuel smiling and looking at the necklace in Michael's hands.
His fingers went forward, lightly touching the stone, Michael's hand on his shoulder now.
Michael smiled, moving the necklace forward, his hand open.
"I believe this belongs to you. Adrian left it in the Room of Life so that I one day could give it back to you. You made it for him as a sign of your love, the love of a son for his father. He copied it, giving one to each of his sons, grandsons and great grandsons. He returns it now to you as a sign of his love."
Samuel teared up, Michael placing the stone in his hands, Samuel's eyes glowing brightly, their goldenness sparkling.
Samuel placed the necklace around his neck.
His eyes brightened, a white glow surrounding him.
Everyone looked on in awe, staring at him as if he was a heavenly angel brought among them.
The glow dissipated, Samuel's eyes returning to their now golden hue.
Samuel turned, looking at his father and uncle.
"I am Raphael. I made this necklace myself, carved out of a piece of blue onyx. I made it for him. For my father of love."
Samuel walked over to Julius, seeing the tears in his brown eyes.
"I have walked this earth for over two thousand years, returning every generation to begin anew my protective love. You are my father, Julius. As was Adrian. The two of you have given me the greatest love. At the start of my existence I felt great love. And here at the end of it I felt your love. Thank you for loving me, for giving me so much. And now the time of Redemption and Faith is here."
Julius hugged the young man to him, Samuel hugging him gently.
"It's alright, Father. It's alright." he said, rubbing his back.
The two parted, Samuel hugging his uncle, Barlow in tears.
Samuel looked around at everyone, his golden eyes showing so much love.
He walked back to Michael, sitting down beside him and Justin.
"You were in the Room, weren't you Michael? The day of Artanga's entombment. My father and mother and I stood in silence seeking out God."
"Yes, Raphael. I was there. I saw all that came to pass. All of your future and all of your past."
"Where is this Room, Samuel? I mean Raphael. What is its purpose?" Justin asked, looking into his golden eyes.
Michael remained quiet, Samuel sighing.
"The Room of Life is hidden, its location will be known tomorrow. As to its purpose, I think I finally realize what it is. What I sense it will be. Time shall show that truth. For it shall house the beauty of life, the center of love. My father carved the truth upon its central altar. Follow his words to their end. And he shall stand over all of us in his deeds and actions. And love shall rise again in all of us. Destiny shall be done."
Samuel took Michael's hand, Michael smiling at him.
"It's been a long journey for both of us, Michaelangelo. Mine so much longer, but no more truthful. Tomorrow is almost at hand. And here at the approaching end I feel a sense of happiness. For what the world will witness tomorrow."
Michael smiled, kissing the young man's cheek.
"God's beauty will shine brightly for all of us. I know all those around us have a thousand questions for you, Raphael. A thousand inquiries about your past lives, Tavarro and Stavros. Let's have lunch everyone, and our shining star shall share what he can with us."
Samuel smiled, helping Michael stand, Justin's arm around him as well.
The three walked back into the house, Darian and Shauna now in Justin's arms, followed by their family.
Throughout lunch Samuel/Raphael enthralled them with tales of love and wonder.
Everyone stared and sat quietly lost in the greatness of his life.
The young man showed a wisdom of experience and optimism.
Alberto was in tears when he spoke of seeing Alberto's own grandfather Arasmus Tavarro's birth, Samuel having been the man's older brother.
Samuel has wandered both sides of the families.
He spoke of seeing Augustus Stavros' great grandfather fighting against Napoleon.
The young man had seen all the greatness of history, and all its tragic events.
Michael sat quietly, his mind on other things.
Justin and he had talked together, alone in their minds.
Their angels sat in their laps, eating heartily, listening quietly to all their spoken words to each other.
"Michael, this is beyond belief! That Samuel is the re-incarnation of Raphael! It's just so out there!"
Michael smiled, helping Shauna cut up her salmon.
"Raphael is the protector of the families of Aurelia and Adrian. It was his destiny. He exists for that purpose. But there is also inside that man a greater love. The real Raphael is the real Samuel. Raphael created him in his own image. Every human being is a soul, Justin. Samuel's is loving. "
Justin smiled, the two listening to Samuel.
Michael quietly listened, his mind on something else.
Samuel was just finishing a tale of seeing Mozart play in Vienna, when Michael finally spoke again.
"It was you, Samuel. You gave Augustus the wooden box."
Everyone's eyes moved to Michael's calm face.
Samuel lowered his head, the room in silence.
He raised it again, his eyes full of tears, looking towards Michael, who sat across from him.
"How did you know that, Michael?"
"I feel a deep hurt in you, a sense of some connection between you and both sides of the family. There's a sense of guilt, or loss, in you. Whatever it surrounds it would have happened twenty years ago. Around the time that Fredrick murdered his own brother and sisters."
Alberto looked at his grandson, and then at Samuel.
"You were here then, Samuel?" he said, the young man reluctantly looking up at him.
"Yes Uncle, I was."
Alberto looked confused, Michael's hand going in his grandfather's beside him.
Samuel looked around the room, his golden eyes returning to Alberto's.
"My name at that time was Natharius."
Alberto's face took on a look of great shock, his fork falling out of his hand.
Paulo was on his feet in a moment, at his side, holding him.
"Are you alright, Grandfather?"
Alberto recovered, staring at the young man.
"No, that's so unbelievable!"
Michael squeezed his grandfather's hand, Alberto feeling his love.
Everyone saw the tears in Alberto's eyes, Doris' hand in his other hand.
"Are you alright, Bertie? I sense deep sadness in you."
Alberto released their hands, pulling out his handkerchief, wiping his now tearing eyes.
"Natharius Alberto Tavarro was my nephew. The only child of my sister Teresa. I named my own daughter after my loving Teresa. Teresa, my sister, was a loving angel, and her son Natharius was love at its best."
Samuel smiled, looking at Alberto.
"My mother was indeed an angel, Uncle. She loved you deeply. It was because of her love that I took the road to the Stavros'. Ramon's final wish I delivered."
Michael's head raised at the mention of his father.
Alberto stood up, staring at the young man.
"What are you talking of, Samuel?" he said, Samuel looking at Michael.
"I was your nephew, Uncle. I lived here with you and my mother. Your love was always in my heart, and so was my mother's. As were Ramon, the girls and little Matthew."
Alberto walked around the table, looking into the young man's eyes.
"Is it really you, Natty?"
Samuel smiled, kissing the older man's cheek.
"Yes, Uncle. It's really me. You always call me and Matthew those special names. Natty and Matty. It was kind of a special pact between us three."
Alberto smiled, hugging the young man tightly.
"Oh, Natty! My two mischievous desperados have come home to me!" he sobbed, Samuel holding him tightly.
A sound of laughter bounced off the walls, everyone looking around.
"You back, Natty?"
"Yes, Matty. I have returned." Samuel said, hearing more happy giggling.
"We plays our games?" the soft gentle voice said, Samuel tearing up.
"Another day, Matty. Rammy sends his love."
They all heard a tearful gasp, Michael looking upward.
"It's alright, Matty. He loves you." Samuel said, the voice above them quieting.
The room went silent again, Michael looking towards Samuel and Alberto.
"Our Matthew has gone, we can talk freely. I think you need to tell us what happened."
Samuel nodded, guiding Alberto back to his chair, standing beside him.
"It all came down to your father, Michael. To what he sensed was going on. He knew that Fredrick was the evilness that had invaded your family. That truth, like his younger brother, cost him his life. Ramon came to me the night before the bombing, Uncle. I had returned that morning from Madrid. He told me the whole story of Felicia and of his brother's deceit. Of Michael and what Ramon sensed in his own son. He knew that you were the chosen one, Michael. He told me that he sensed that from the moment of your first words."
Michael lowered his head, Justin's arm going around him, their two little angels looking up at him.
"My father knew?"
"Yes, Michael. He told me that you would be the guiding light. And he sensed that he would fail you."
"He didn't fail me. His brother took him from me." Michael said, Alberto looking at his grandson.
"He took him from all of us, Michael." Alberto said, his hand again in Michael's.
Samuel saw the deep love between the two men.
"Ramon asked me to do one thing for him. To give the box to Augustus if anything bad should befall him. I just didn't realize how bad things would get."
Samuel looked into Alberto's eyes.
"Do you remember the voyage I took to America three weeks after Ramon's death? You had sent me there to see to the affairs of Ramon's family. And to find them. That it was I that told you of their disappearance. I did something more while I was there. I visited Augustus Stavros and told him everything. It was I that opened his eyes to the truth about Michael."
Samuel's hand went to Michael's shoulder.
"Your grandfather was shocked beyond measure by the realization of who you were. In regards to both prophecies. He felt a deep sense of failure in not realizing the truth. He was too ashamed to seek you out, to ask your forgiveness."
"There was no forgiveness necessary. All I wanted was his love." Michael said, everyone quietly looking at him.
Michael looked up at Samuel, his dark shades staring at him.
"Why did my father want my mother's father to safeguard my teddy bear?" Michael said, Samuel looking a little surprised.
He looked thoughtful, as if sensing out something.
"You have it all wrong, Michael. It's more than just a bear. It's a beacon of love."
"A beacon of love?" Justin said.
"Yes, Justin. That bear, that little beautiful bear was made by Ramon's own hands. It was given in love."
"Of course! I see it now!"
Justin looked at Michael, sensing happiness in him.
"See what, my love?"
"It's my father's protective love. His love is in that bear."
Samuel quietly looked at Michael.
"Yes, Michael. Rammy's love is in that bear. And it's there for a reason."
Everyone sensed a knowledge between the two of them.
"So what does that mean?" Chris said, Vicky looking at him.
"I'm sorry, Chris. That will not be voiced here today. That is for destiny to reveal." Samuel said, Michael nodding again.
Everyone sensed no further explanation coming forward.
"What happened to you after that, Natharius?" Marco asked, Alberto's eyes lowering.
Samuel put his hand upon his shoulder.
"I searched America for Michael and his mother, finding them nowhere. Fredrick was clever in his staying one step ahead of all of us. My uncle called me home, to return to my life with him. I never made it." Samuel said quietly.
"Your plane crashed going across the Atlantic, you were never found." Alberto said quietly, tears in his eyes.
"It didn't crash, Grandfather."
Alberto looked up at him, Samuel staring at him.
"Fredrick leaves no loose ends, Grandfather. He knew I was following him. He knew I would never give up on finding him. For Ramon's sake. So he sent one of his minions to silence me. He silenced me with a bomb on that final flight."
Everyone gasped, Samuel looking around.
"You must understand the evilness in Fredrick's heart. He didn't care if others died, just as long as I did. For I stood in his way. He is given over completely to the darkness of that evil. As my own brother Thadius once was."
Michael put his hand in Samuel's.
"That evil shall be destroyed, Raphael."
"I should have done as Stavros asked one day long ago. We should have sought out our brother and rid the earth of that tainted ring of evil before it disappeared again. We failed all of you so long ago. For that I asked forgiveness. I am so sorry!"
Michael stood, taking the now crying young man into his arms.
"No forgiveness needs to be given, Raphael. You were a child of youth, so deeply hurt by your own brother, a brother in the grasp of evil. All through the generations that evil festered and grew, the red ring of Dracarius the instrument. Tomorrow is the ending of that evil. Your destiny was to go through those years, to help as you could. To be the protector of the faith. The defender of goodness. Until you saw the final outcome. After this is ended your destiny shall be fulfilled."
Samuel smiled, looking at his descendant.
"Father's light shines in your heart, Michael. You talk as great of words as he."
Michael smiled, touched that Raphael associated him with Adrian.
"His son is pretty great himself."
Samuel smiled, looking around.
Michael felt a need to close this.
"All the key players are assembled. The Messenger and Warrior. The Protector. My four cornerstones, the Guardian, Carrier, Commander and Singer of Truth. My twelve brothers and sisters of the rings of love. It is all in place. Everything is ready save one final journey. It is time, Lance. Time for you and I to walk together. The time of our own Trek of Truth."
Lance stood up, walking over to Michael, placing his hand on his shoulder.
"After all that we have seen, after all that I have felt here today, I am ready. Lead on, friend of love."
Michael felt Justin's hand tighten in his, knowing his concern.
"This is destiny, my love. We cannot stop the path of life."
Justin teared up, Michael kissing his cheek.
Their two little angels looked up at Michael.
"No be sad, Papa and Dada. We's be okay." Darian said, rubbing Justin's cheek.
Shauna snuggled against Michael's chest, her little hand going to his golden cross.
"Unky Lance saves you, Papa. And we's never stop wuving you."
Michael hugged her close to him, Darian climbing out of Justin's lap and into Michael's.
"Yep, Papa. We's famwie now. You be with us heres and in our dweams." Darian said, Justin smiling and tearing up.
"Always my angels. Always." Michael said, both little ones kissing his lips.
Lance looked towards Josh, he and Noah looking at him with deep love.
Josh stood, Noah in his arms.
"I'm ready, Michael. For all that needs to be seen." Lance said, still staring at his lover.
Justin and Alberto took the two little ones out of Michael's lap, Michael taking Lance's arm.
Everyone stood, all looking at the two men.
"You go with all our love, Michael." Paulo said, Jake's arm around him.
Michael looked around, smiling.
"Stay here, everyone, and finish your lunch. You shall not see us again until late tonight." he smiled, everyone remaining quiet.
Justin, Josh, the three little ones and Alberto all followed Lance and Michael out of the room.
Julius looked at his son, Samuel looking around at everyone.
"Our Messenger walks now with God."
Lance and Michael stood in front of the fireplace, standing between the lions.
"Do you need me to help you open it again, Mico?" Justin said, standing beside the two men.
"No, Jus. I have the power to open it unchallenged now. It opens always for only me."
Justin looked at Josh, Alberto sitting on a couch behind them all, the three little ones beside him.
Michael turned, taking Justin's hand, Josh taking both of Lance's.
"Do not worry, my love. Lance is with me. As is your love. Always."
Justin smiled, kissing his husband deeply.
"We'll be right here waiting, my love."
"It will be a long journey, my angel. The kids need entertaining. We shall be back late tonight."
Justin nodded, his hand on Michael's cheek.
"I love you, Mico."
"I love you more, Jus."
Lance and Josh kissed deeply, Josh looking into Lance's green eyes.
"I love you, my Lancy."
Lance smiled, kissing him again.
"Watch over our seeing angel, my love." Lance said, Josh nodding.
The three little ones climbed off the couch, running up to their fathers.
"Bye, Papa. See yous soons. Says hi's to him." Noah said, hugging Lance's legs.
Lance looked at Justin and Josh, Michael remaining still.
"Goodbye our angels. Have fun with your Daddies today. See you this evening." Michael said, bending and kissing all three little ones.
They all smiled, running back to Alberto.
"See you soon, Jus. See you soon, Josh. Don't worry, we're safe in each other's arms."
Josh and Justin smiled, stepping back, standing beside their kids and Alberto.
Lance took Michael's arm, picking up the lantern that Alberto had given him.
Michael nodded, his hands going out in front of him.
Everyone heard the movement of stone, the lions again beginning to growl.
They moved; the stairway into darkness opening before them.
Everyone remained quiet, watching the opening appear.
Lance looked down into the darkness.
"Forward to destiny, Michael."
Michael nodded, Lance guiding him down the steps into the darkness.
A short ten minutes later, they stood at the doors to Adrian's room.
Michael stopped, Lance feeling a shudder run through him.
"Are you all right, Mico?" he said with concern.
"Here on the edge of destiny I suddenly feel scared, Lance. I'm scared about what you might see."
Lance's arm went around him, Michael leaning against him.
"It's going to be okay, Michael. No matter what I am shown, or what I learn of you and all this, nothing will change between us. I love you."
"I don't want you to think less of me, Lance. You have this preconceived notion of the man I am. You need to know I'm not what you think I am."
Lance smiled, his fingers on Michael's chin.
"Oh, Mico! I feel all your uncertainties and doubts. I love you so much. You are my best friend, my guardian angel. Nothing shall change my love for you."
Michael relaxed in Lance's arms, Lance rubbing his back.
"Whenever you are ready, my angel."
Michael smiled, stepping back.
"Thank you for loving me, Lance."
Lance smiled, leaning forward and kissing Michael deeply.
"An easy thing to do, Mico."
"Let's go in, Lance."
Lance nodded, opening the door.
They walked into the dusty darkened room, Lance's lantern casting shadows everywhere.
"It looks like no one's been here in centuries."
"I was here, Lance."
Lance looked around, seeing dust everywhere.
"There are no foot tracks in the dust, Michael."
Michael sensed around, Lance lighting a torch on the wall.
"Strange, it feels different." Michael said quietly.
Lance looked around, guiding Michael to a couch.
He wiped the dust off it, Michael sitting down.
Lance looked at the walls, seeing the old paintings.
He saw the platform, the table standing empty.
He saw the portrait of Adrian and Aurelia, walking up to it.
"So the stories were true, Aurelia was here."
"Yes, Lance. All I said was true."
Lance nodded, looking at other portraits, no faces registering with him.
He walked around, finally spotting the two statues that faced each other.
He saw the mirror hanging on the wall between them.
"So this is the mirror to the Hallway of Truth."
Michael nodded, moving his head around.
"Yes, Lance. Behind it is the path."
Lance walked up to the statues, looking at both, then looking into the mirror.
He saw his own reflection, nothing startling.
"It looks like just any other mirror."
"It is a portal to truth, Lance."
Lance looked at Michael in the mirror's reflection.
"Come here please, Lance."
Lance turned looking at his friend.
He walked over, seeing Michael's hand extended out.
In it, lay his golden cross.
"You need to wear this, Lance. It is the beacon of my life. Of my love. With it around your neck, you shall not see your life unfold on the Hallway of Truth, you shall see only mine."
Lance quietly looked at him.
"So it is your life I shall see, not mine? Would it surprise you to know that I was hoping for my own?"
Michael touched Lance's cheek, Lance sitting down beside him.
"Why would you want to see your future, Lance? The present is so beautiful."
Lance bowed his head.
"I just need to know the truth."
Michael's hand went into his.
"I'll tell you the truth, Lance. So you can put those doubts to rest. You don't need to see what shall come to pass. Joshua loves you. Completely. That first vision of you and he that I had so long ago was a dual vision."
"It was? You never told us that, Michael."
"I know, Lance. I did that for a reason. Because I knew somewhere down your path of life you would have doubts. I've felt those doubts. So I'll now tell you the second part of that vision."
Lance stared at Michael, his eyes looking at the dark glasses.
"I saw you and Josh, Lance. You were both standing together, and you were both older, a lot older. Both of you had golden rings on your fingers, and you were surrounded by children. A lot of children."
"We're going to have more kids?"
"No, Lance. I don't think that's what it meant. I think they were grandkids. You and Josh are going to be together for a long time, Noah giving you grandchildren. That's the truth of your destiny, my friend. You will always be Josh's only love."
Lance sobbed, Michael letting him lay against his chest.
"Oh, thank you Michael! Thank you for destroying the last doubts in my heart! I love him so much! He and Noah are everything to me!"
"And they always will be."
Lance sat up, smiling at Michael.
Michael's face changed, a sigh coming from him.
"Now we have to go, Lance. Before this starts, I want to thank you."
"For what, Michael?"
"For loving me, for being my friend. My heart is filled with so much love. And yours is a big part of it."
Lance teared up, kissing Michael gently.
"Let's get this over with, Lance. I hope you are prepared for all you now will see."
Lance started to speak again, Michael standing up.
"I think no more words need saying, Lance. The truth will speak for itself."
Lance nodded, standing and taking Michael's arm.
The two men walked over to the statues, standing between them.
Michael leaned forward, Lance staring at the mirror with wondrous awe.
Michael touched the mirror, the wall immediately moving upwards.
Lance looked into the darkness ahead, seeing picture frames lining one side of the stone wall, a gloom masking what they were.
"Welcome to my life, Lance. Walk through its tragic existence."
Michael moved forward, Lance walking beside him.
Justin lay on the bed, staring at the crib beside it.
The three little ones were snoring softly.
Josh walked into the room, smiling at him.
"Our treasures have finally gone down." he said, Justin nodding at him.
"Five hours of swimming, playing and laughing. It finally took its toll." he softly said, Josh sitting on the edge of the bed.
Justin wore no shirt, or pants, sitting in only his boxers.
He'd settle the kids down, then showered, awaiting to dress.
Josh scanned his muscular smooth body, Justin smiling at him.
"See anything you like?" he said, Josh smiling.
"Looks all good to me. Mikey is one happy man."
Justin smiled wider, leaning against Josh.
Josh wrapped his arm around his best friend, Josh holding him.
"I love him so much, Josh. He's all of me. He's my existence."
Josh nodded, looking into the crib.
"I know the feeling, Jus. Lance is the same to me."
The two men looked into each other's eyes.
"You are just as important, Joshy. I love you almost as much as Mico."
Josh leaned forward kissing Justin deeply, Justin wrapping his strong arms around him.
"I love you too, Jus. You are a big part of my soul as well. As is Mico."
The two gently kissed, Josh's hands on Justin's smooth chest.
They stared into each other's eyes.
They both felt the love in their souls, and they felt something more.
They felt Lance's and Michael's love.
"I still feel his love, that hasn't disappeared." Josh said, softy, his fingers rubbing Justin's nipples.
Justin smiled, looking into Josh's blue eyes.
"Yes, I feel my Mico's as well." Justin said, his hands on Josh's neck.
Justin pulled Josh's head forward, their lips meeting again.
Both men became lost in the intensity of the love flowing through them.
They both felt their own, each other's, as well as their missing soulmates'.
Justin fell backwards, Josh falling with him.
Josh lay on top of Justin, Justin's arms around him, their lips separating.
They stared into each other's eyes, both men smiling.
"Isn't this wonderful, Jus? I feel so content and happy! I feel my love's deep giving love. I feel Michael's as well."
Justin smiled, Josh's fingers still rubbing his chest.
"And what about mine?"
Josh smiled, his body still on top of Justin.
"I feel yours most of all. Perhaps because it's closest. Here I am, laying on top of my best friend. A handsome, beautiful man. And I still love my Lance. This isn't about sex, Justin. It's our love."
Justin nodded, Josh shifting his weight, Justin's head going against Josh's chest.
Both men felt the other's deep love.
They knew that they could easily give in to the temptation in front of them, but they both felt no need for that.
They were joined as they'd been when younger.
Two best friends, holding each other to be safe.
Neither felt what they felt when with their soulmate.
That love was singular, only for themselves.
"I'm worried, Joshy."
"Tomorrow is the day, Josh. The day I may lose him."
Josh hugged Justin tighter, Justin's hand on Josh's stomach.
"There's no way that will happen, Jus. Michael will be with you always."
"I know his love and soul will be with me, but what about the physical him? I love making love to him, to having him in my arms. His touching me, kissing me, it drives me wild. Our center of love is so unbelievable!"
Josh nodded, his mind on something that popped into his head.
"To be in my center is to be loved forever."
Justin raised his head, looking at Josh.
"Those words just popped into my head. They sound so beautiful."
Justin looked into Josh's blue eyes.
"Michael will not leave you Justin. I think he just told me and you that."
Justin nodded, his head returning to Josh's chest, Josh hugging him close.
Josh looked towards the crib, seeing three sets of eyes quietly looking at him and Justin.
The three little ones looked at each other, Noah nodding, the three closing their eyes again.
Josh watched them for a moment, his mind on his lover and Michael.
A half hour later, Justin sat up in his bed, Josh looking at him.
"They return. I feel Michael's walking love."
Michael sat on the floor, Lance in his arms.
His friend had been sobbing for almost a half hour, Michael gently holding him.
They'd walked the path of Michael's life, Lance looking into every portrait, telling Michael all that he saw.
Some pictures ripping through Lance's heart.
Lance had seen the truth with his own eyes, the truth of Michael's existence.
From the joyous moments of his early childhood, through the years of hurt and pain.
Seeing the abuse and evilness with his uncle.
The death of his mother, the loneliness of that moment in Michael's soul.
And through those first heartbreaking years, one thing stood out in Lance's eyes.
One thing about Michael, that seemed so unreal.
And then Lance saw the portraits of Michael's teen years.
The meeting of Paul, the destined tragedy surrounding that moment.
The night of the cliff, Michael's most heartbreaking moment.
And the resulting moments after that.
Lance felt and saw the beginnings of Michael's loving heart when he was looking into Justin's eyes that night on the edge of life.
Then he saw all the moments of their opening hearts.
The last picture Lance had looked at was the portrait of the present.
Seeing himself sobbing in Michael's arms had started Lance crying for real.
Michael gently rubbed his back, his friend slowly gaining control on his emotions.
Michael remained quiet, waiting for Lance to calm down.
Twenty minutes later, Lance raised his head slowly.
"Oh, Michael! Can it be real? Can all that have happened?"
"It all happened, Lance. You walked my life, from start to now. For my life was...." Michael lowered his head, Lance pulling him close.
"Now you know the truth, Lance. The truth of what I am."
Lance felt the emotions of his friend, the deep heartfelt emotions.
Michael raised his head, Lance staring into Michael's dark glasses.
"How can I tell Justin what really happened? That I am not who he loves!" he said, tears falling down his cheeks.
Lance took him in his arms, Michael sobbing against him.
He held him for a few minutes, thinking of what he needed to say.
"You have not asked me my thoughts on all I have seen, Mico."
Michael's head moved up, Lance looking into his tearing face.
"You hate me, Lance?"
Lance leaned forward, kissing Michael's lips, Michael tasting his love.
"Never, my dearest friend. Not now, not then, not in any moment of your existence. Because of what I feel, Mico. Because of the love I feel. The love that radiates off of you. Off the real you."
Michael remained silent for a moment, his hand touching Lance's cheek.
"You still love me?"
"Yes, Michael. You saved me, you saved me from my own pain. I wish only that I could have returned the favor those years ago. Your only fault was not being loved enough. No one deserved love more than you, my angel. And you've found that in your Justin."
"And what of him, Lance? What will he say when he learns my deepest truth? Will his love be so strong? Will I still mean as much to him?"
Lance gently got up, guiding Michael to his feet.
"Michael, my friend. You have charged me with the duty of being the Guardian of Truth. I shall guard this truth and the others for the moment I sense they need to be revealed. I feel in my heart you must tell Justin this truth yourself. Then, and only then, will you see the depth of Justin's love. Come my friend. The day grows late."
Michael nodded, Lance looking forward.
"Do I walk forward, Michael? Do I see the future?"
"Yes, Lance. I was told you would now follow a path of God's choosing."
Lance nodded, walking forward.
The two men stopped at a new frame on the wall, its colour golden yellow.
The picture changed, Lance looking upon a moving scene.
His eyes took it all in, seeing the truth of tomorrow's destiny.
"Oh, my God! It cannot be!"
Michael remained silent, Lance looking at him.
"Tomorrow's moment. The greatness of it."
Michael nodded, their hands entwined.
"Yes, Lance. Such has been the destiny of all of them. Look now on your part."
Lance looked back at the picture, seeing himself standing behind the whiteness.
He saw what he was about to do, watching with awed wonder.
He also saw what he wore, and what Michael wore.
His eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, Michael. No!"
Michael's arm went around him.
"Watch onward, my Lance."
Lance trembled, then gasped.
His legs nearly gave out, Michael holding him tight.
"Do not fear him. Do not turn away. Look into his hazel eyes."
Lance stared, seeing what he couldn't believe.
He calmed, feeling a sense of wonderful love flood him.
"Yes, Lance. It is the truth."
Lance looked away from the picture, seeing all that would come to pass.
He looked ahead, seeing one more painting hanging at the end of the path.
"The last picture."
Michael stopped their progress.
"That picture you cannot see, Lance."
"Why, Michael? I have seen all the rest."
"No, Lance. That last one is for me alone. I have seen the blueness in that one. The blueness of my fate."
Lance put his arm around him.
He looked beyond the portrait.
He saw a stone wall and two empty shelves upon it.
Then Lance noticed something that Michael hadn't spoke of being there before.
"Where does that corridor lead, Michael?"
Michael looked confused.
"Corridor, Lance? There is no corridor at the end of this."
Lance let go of Michael's hand.
"Stay here, Michael."
Michael remained still, Lance walking past the stone wall, seeing a corridor past it.
It disappeared into the darkness.
Ahead in its darkness, Lance thought he saw a light.
Above its entrance, three words were etched into the stone.
The Final Truth
Lance looked back at Michael, Lance suddenly hearing a voice in his head.
"You remain here, Michael. I am going to see where this leads."
"Alright, Lance. I can't understand what this path means. Be careful."
"It doesn't look very long. I won't be gone but a moment."
Michael nodded, leaning against the wall.
Lance looked at him for a moment, then walked forward.
He walked through the entrance seeing ahead of him a faint light.
He walked for a few minutes, the light suddenly in front of him.
He stood in an open room, seeing a stone bench in front of him.
Sitting on the bench was someone who surprised him.
"Hello, Lance. It's time you as the Guardian know the truth."
Lance nodded, sitting down beside the man.
"This is Michael's truth isn't it?"
The man put his arm around Lance, smiling at him.
"Yes, my angel. The truth of my son's fate."
Lance looked into Ramon's golden eyes.
"Tell me the truth, Ramon. Tell me what's really going on here."
Ramon smiled, lifting his hand.
In it was the little teddy bear.
The bear with the embroidered initials.
"It began with this bear......"
End of Chapter 173
And so, Lance is hearing the final truth of this story.
And Michael is kept from it.
What does the bear mean?
Why is Ramon telling Lance?
I hope you liked the realization of Samuel's identity.
That an angel had walked among the families for centuries, helping against the evil.
Raphael could do no less for his family.
What is his part in this Final Confrontation?
And what will he reveal when he leads them to the Room of Life?
Up next, we begin the final chapters of this Trek of Truth.
I hope it will surprise you.
I'm surprised and I'm the narrator!
Or am I?