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.
Justin laid his hands upon the white lid, his tears falling upon its whiteness.
"Here, at this end, how can I say goodbye, Mico? I love you so much, my angel. I know you're in the clearing always for me, but you're here also. Justin's angel is here, about to descend into darkness for eternity. Never shall I hold the real you against me again. Oh, Mico! My love and life! For them, for our two angels, I shall go on. They need my love, and they need yours. I love you, my Mico! I love you!"
Justin laid his head against the smooth surface, sobbing.
Lance and Josh were beside him in a moment, their arms wrapping around him.
"He's not gone, Jus. Our Mico isn't here. He's somewhere else. In time, you'll see the truth in that truth, Jussy. I am certain of that." Lance said, Justin raising his head.
"Your angels need you now, Jus. Their father needs them."
Justin nodded, stepping back, walking to Vicky and Chris.
They both gave Justin his little ones, the two friends' arms around the family.
"Come on, Justin. Let's go home." Chris said, his eyes filled with tears.
Justin looked once more at the white tomb, then walked out of the chamber, everyone following.
They walked across the walkway, all standing on the stone patio, looking at the center of the pool, at the chamber now in its center.
The pool was surrounded with the Tavarro?Stavros faithful.
They all heard a lion's roar.
The walkway moved, moving towards the center of the pool, sinking under the water.
The entrance to the chamber closed, its doorway disappearing on the stone surface.
Etched into the marble wall where the doorway had been were three words.
Love Conquers All
Everyone stood in silence, gazing upon the eternal tomb of Michael Augustus Tavarro.
"Goodbye, Mico." Justin said, walking back to the house, his two angels in his arms.
Michael's Final Truth
Lance Bass sat in the office, tapping his pen against his knee, the phone cradled against his neck.
On the other end of the line in Rome was Father Nicolas.
The two men had become fast friends in the almost twelve months since Michael's death.
It had begun on the day of Michael's funeral, Father Nicolas having a private conversation with Lance in the bedroom.
Their own truths making them partners in destiny.
The Guardian and the priest, now this day a Cardinal.
His Excellency Cardinal Nicolas Barosa, patron servant of the newly-revealed Aurelian Order.
The seer of truth and the believer in truth.
"It's all been finalized, Lance. The church has accepted the truth. The Aurelian truths shall be upheld. All can now be vindicated. The Tavarro-Stavros alliance has been victorious."
"That's wonderful news, Nico. I'll inform everyone. We'll see you on the twenty-sixth?"
"God and life would not keep me from that place, Lance. But are you sure it's the right moment?"
"Yes, Nico. Joseph's moment is at hand. How is he?"
"He's the same, Lance. Not much has changed."
"No, Lance. No words since his first."
Lance remained silent, his mind on so many things.
"Alright, Nico. I'll let you go. And congratulations on this day's news, Your Eminence."
Lance could feel the joy in the priest's heart.
"Thank you, Lance. It's a honor I was not prepared for. But a devotion I shall uphold all my life. A prayer for him I shall speak tonight."
Lance teared up, knowing who the 'he' was.
Lance sat in the home office chair, his mind on all that had happened in the last year.
The year since Michael's departure.
But was it really a departure?
Lance had met Michael often with Josh and Justin, and the kids.
Always in the clearing.
And Lance had met him alone.
The last year had seen great changes in the family's dynamics.
The Aurelian Order was revealed, the sacrilege of its devotion shown to the world.
An Order of goodness fighting for faith and against evil.
Father Nico had met with all the church leaders, even private meetings with the Pope.
The miracles of St. Aurelia's could not be reputed.
A day of faith, a day of God's love, had been witnessed in a small village in the heart of Spain.
The world became wrapped up in the phenomenon of Michael's sacrifice.
A new religion–deeply entrenched in his philosophies and in his courage–had risen out of the ashes of his sacrifice.
His sacrifice upon the cross.
Scientific analysis of the cross had proven its age, carbon dating it to the time of Jesus' existence.
It truly was the True Cross.
All faiths were conceding to its existence.
The Faith of God's love.
Lance's own life had changed as well.
Josh and Lance had moved in with Justin, needing to keep their love close to him, on those long days of loneliness.
And there had been many.
Justin's calmness and loneliness was felt by everyone.
The three men had made a pact among themselves.
A pact of love.
Each being there for the other two.
Josh and Lance had married in late October, married on the shores of Lake Tavarro.
That spot is a heavenly sight of Michael's love.
Justin had been best man for Josh, Chris standing in for Michael for Lance.
It had been an emotional, loving moment, Lance looking at the golden ring on his finger.
The ring of Josh's love.
He smiled, sensing his lover close.
Josh and Justin were out now with the kids, having spent most of the morning in Josh's studio.
*NSync's new album had been a thunderous success.
It had hit quadruple platinum in a short six months, shattering a lot of records.
The first three singles had been instant number one hits.
They'd held twelve concerts across America, each one completely sold out.
All shattering box office records.
Five friends had united in front of the world.
But for now, it was enough for all of them.
They sang for their own joy, for the joy Michael's music gave each of them, and gave their combined soul.
Their love and togetherness showed at every concert.
The truth of *NSync's soul bared for the world to see.
Michael's music had touched a chord in the country's heart.
Lance and Josh especially sensed the romantic significance of some of those songs.
Treasures that would last a lifetime.
Lance looked along the bookshelves, seeing many photographs.
Wedding pictures of Chris and Vicky, their Hawaiian nuptials witnessed by them all.
She'd given birth in February to a beautiful little boy named Joseph Michael.
Chris was a picture of parental joy.
It had seemed to lighten his mood greatly.
All his bandmates had sensed the deep loss that Michael's leaving had left in Chris' soul.
Little Joe-Mikey, as Chris called him, had freed Chris' heart of mirth again.
Christina and Zach had welcomed the arrival of Michael and Justin Warren on the previous Thanksgiving Day.
The two twins had soft, glowing golden eyes.
Justin had been there at their delivery, seeing them both come into the world.
He'd held both in his lap, welcoming them both into their world of love.
Becky had been in his lap as well, rejoicing at her new little brothers.
Everyone saw the bond Justin held with the little girl and the new twin boys.
A bond cemented with Michael's love.
Justin's face that day was a vision of extreme joy.
How he'd changed.
Lance had never known his friend to be so loving.
A lot of Michael's love radiated out of this special man.
And Justin showed that love to so many, in so many ways.
It was as if he were two men together.
As if he were speaking and doing for both him and Michael.
Everyone had been stunned when they'd returned home and seen the revealing surprises that Michael had left.
Everyone but Justin.
The first surprise had been Michael's will, read to all of them by Harry.
The vast empire of wealth that he'd been given by his grandparents had been allocated to some wondrous deeds.
Michael had left Father Derrick an immense fortune, to build new schools and orphanages.
All set up under the Father Derrick O'Hara Children's Fund.
He'd also willed the far banks of Lake Tavarro for a new Children's Retreat.
The place would be a retreat for all Father Derrick's children.
A summer camp and nature facility.
All the plans had been finalized before Michael had left for Spain.
Harry had overseen its beginnings two weeks before Justin and Michael's wedding.
It was opened in the spring, Father Derrick and all his charges deeply moved by the generous heart of Michael.
Father Derrick saw Michael's love behind all of it.
A place he'd lived in his childhood, children doing all the things he'd done with Silas and Nana.
It was called Nana's Retreat.
Michael had also set up personal trusts for Darian, Shauna, Noah, Steve, Becky and Jonathan.
Each would have the opportunity to achieve scholastic and personal goals.
Other foundations of immense opportunities and devotions were also set up under one umbrella corporation.
The name of that organization given by Justin.
Michael's International Children's Organization.
And Michael had put Trevor in charge of it all.
Lance smiled, looking at a picture of Trevor and Nick.
The lost quiet Trevor was gone.
His courageous heart had opened in a surprising way.
He'd openly defended Nick on a live television interview.
The reporter had been roasting Nick over the coals on his involvement with the Tavarro clan's absurd revelations and also Nick's personal life.
Trevor had lost it, Nick seeing it in his eyes when Trevor walked out onto the live stage.
"That's my man you're attacking, you sorry excuse for a journalist! And Michael Tavarro was my friend! I'll defend him until the end of my life! God flowed through him! I think it's time God flows through you!"
Nick had sat in stunned silence, Trevor outing him on national television.
At the last moment Trevor had realized it, then looked at Nick.
Nick wore a smile of pure happiness, pulling his lover down into his lap.
"Yes everyone, Trevor Bolton is my lover, my heart and my soulmate. And we're both loving devotees of Michael's faith."
The reporter had been shocked into total silence, the two men then standing up and leaving.
"We only talk to those who have open minds. That's all we'll say on either matter."
Both men were immediately thrust into the spotlight.
Everyone had called the two afterwards, Nick the most proud.
His man had stood up for him, showing the world his love.
And now Nick was free.
Free to love his courageous Trevor forever.
There had been some sadness throughout the year, some moments of sorrow.
Betty had passed away in early March, her heart giving out in the end.
Justin, Christina and Zach had been there at the end, to comfort Fred.
The next morning, Justin had walked into their small home to find Fred gone as well.
He'd died in his sleep, lost without his eternal lover.
Justin had called all those that had known the loving couple, explaining the significance of their going together, and how he found it to be a sign that they were deep romantic soulmates.
Lance stood up, walking to the shelf, his fingers caressing three books that lay there.
The three novels of Michael Tavarro.
His third and last book had been released about a month after his passing.
They'd all realized that Michael had planned it all out.
The dividing of his wealth, the release of his final book.
The scope and magnitude of its weighty story not lost on anyone.
It was the story of Michael's life.
Nothing had been changed, it was all laid out for the world to see.
The world learned the truth of Michael's existence and destiny.
And the truth of his deep love for Justin.
Lance smiled, knowing his own passages in that tale.
And one final passage left unwritten.
He sat down, hearing laughter coming down the hallway.
The office door opened, three little bundles of joy rushing into the room, followed by two large hyper kids.
"And I take it you've all had fun?" Lance smiled, Noah climbing into his lap.
"Yes, Papa. Unky Jus and Daddy took us all to the zoo! So many big animals! Me feel so small!"
Justin grinned, leaning against Michael's old oak desk.
It still remained in the corner, nothing changed upon it.
Lance had been sitting at it, talking on the phone.
This office was now all of theirs, one corner respectively left for Michael.
As if Justin felt someday Michael would need it again.
"How goes the day, sweetie?" Josh said, leaning down and kissing his husband.
"Goes well. Just finished talking to Father Nicolas. The church has adopted the laws of St. Aurelia. The truth has been vindicated. And he's now Cardinal Nicolas Barosa. The Vatican has honored him for his leadership of the Aurelian Order."
Justin smiled widely.
He knew in his heart that victory belonged to Father Nicolas, Paulo and Tomas.
The three had been unrelenting in uniting the family and spreading the news of the miracles and visions within the sacred church.
The old church had become a place of pilgrimage for a rising number of faithful worshipers.
Michael's church was increasing, a new faith developing.
Someone–a Catholic scholar–had named it Michael's Truth, or Michaelism.
The Tavarro-Stavros alliance issued no response.
Their only concern was the spreading of God's love.
And they were spreading it far and wide.
Tomas' soul had brightened once he had taken up the call to faith.
He and Seth had a new garden to seed, a flourishing crop of hope and love.
The gang had only seen them once or twice in the past six months.
The last time had been at the lake.
They'd all journeyed there together in the late days of June, a family outing.
Everyone had come at Justin's request.
He'd brought them all together again.
They had all felt Justin's need for them all to remember Michael and what he'd given them in that special place.
Alberto, Doris and Samuel had come, Samuel now a permanent fixture around Alberto's home.
For it was Raphael's childhood home; Samuel's father, Julius, realizing that.
He wouldn't deprive his son of something that made him happy.
For Raphael still remained as himself, living in the body of the young man Samuel.
Raphael was fulfilling his devotion to God.
He would remain on earth as Samuel.
And he again would have a life of happiness, loved by two families.
He was himself a joining factor.
They'd all spent a week at the lake, each of them making a journey to the clearing.
And they'd all felt in their hearts that Michael was indeed there.
Justin had wanted them to feel that, to feel Michael's still flowing love.
They'd all left with joy and happiness in their heart, agreeing to spend Christmas there again like they had last year as a group.
Justin sat down in Josh's lap on the couch, the three little ones giggling.
"What else did Father Nico say? I mean Cardinal Nico!" Justin smiled.
Lance quietly looked at him.
"He said he'd see us all on the twenty sixth. I hope that includes you too, Justin?"
Lance and Josh both looked at Justin, Rachel walking into the room, as if sensing the kids needed to leave.
"Okay you munchkins! Who wants doggies?"
All three gleefully screamed, climbing down and following a smiling Rachel out of the room.
The three men smiled, looking at the young lady as she'd left.
She and Lonnie were newly engaged, Lonnie popping the question on her thirtieth birthday, the last day they'd been at the lake.
Everyone had been there to congratulate the happy couple, including her newly married brother Jonas and Byron.
Lonnie had stood as Jonas' best man, Justin standing as Byron's, the young man totally in awe of Justin's giving heart.
It had been a small, family only affair, the couple married in Justin's back yard.
Lance and Josh had organized all of it.
Lance's eyes turned back to Justin.
Justin stood up, going to Michael's desk and sitting in its chair.
"I don't know if I want to go back there, Lancy. There's so much pain there for me. It's where he left me."
Josh got up, walking over to Justin, putting his arm around him.
"He didn't leave you, Jus. He's been right here with all of us."
Justin looked up at Josh.
"I haven't seen him in a week, Josh. Neither have the kids."
Josh looked surprised.
Justin nodded, looking at the mirror hanging on the wall.
"The last night we spent together, we spent alone. We talked for hours. He told me he was going away by God's wish, and that he had to leave for a while. But that God had told him we would join again, as we always were."
Lance had sensed Justin's soul shrinking into itself the last few days.
Justin lost without any Michael connection.
"He's coming back, Jus. Michael's words are always true."
Justin smiled, looking at the photographs lining the desk shelf.
"You don't have to tell me that, Lance. I just miss him so."
Josh's arm tightened around Justin's shoulders, Josh kissing his cheek.
"You always have me and Lance. We're here for you."
Justin smiled, kissing Josh's soft lips.
"I know, Josh. We sleep together, remember."
Josh smiled, Lance smiling as well.
"Justin, you need to go back to Spain. You need to see the Villa again. Trust me on this. I sense this will be very healing for you. I don't think this is all over yet."
Justin nodded, looking into Lance's green eyes.
"Alright, Guardian. Your truths have never steered us wrong."
Lance smiled, Justin standing up.
He pulled off his shirt, smiling.
"Who's up for a swim? I promised our three fishies a race."
Josh laughed, heading with Justin out of the room.
Lance smiled after them, walking across the room.
He stared at his reflection in the mirror, brushing his now normal coloured hair.
The white streaks of faith had long since shaded in.
"It's all in motion, little one. Your time is near."
The family all arrived together, seven cars driving away from three white jets.
The warmth of the Spanish day beaming down on all of them.
They were all present.
They'd all come for Justin, his love and Michael's.
For their love for him, and for Michael making everything else seem menial.
Tomorrow was a day of recognition.
An anniversary of sadness, and yet, a day of renewing faith.
They drove through Zamora, finding the village alive with people.
For the faithful knew of the day at hand also.
One year to the day when the world's heart soared again with God's love.
The limousines drove through the village, some people respectfully bowing, as if sensing who drove through their midst.
The cars crested the hill, the gates of the Villa Tavarro in sight.
A scene of chaos and pandemonium for all to see.
Paparazzi were everywhere, as were onlookers.
Their cars encircled, the heavily tinted glass hiding the inhabitants.
A guard of men appeared, spreading out, allowing the vehicles to drive through the gates, the iron gates closing behind them.
Justin sat between Josh and Lance, all three little ones on all their laps.
"Home to see Papa, Dada?" Shauna smiled up at her father from Josh's lap.
"Yes, angel. Home to see Papa and Poppa."
Darian giggled, Noah laughing with him.
"What's so funny, little soldiers?" Randall asked, sitting in front of Justin, looking at his grandkids.
"Us kids going to bring him back, our Grandpa." Darian said, smiling widely.
Alberto stood on the front steps of the Villa Tavarro, watching the cars coming up the driveway.
His family was finally home.
The last year had been a test of strength for Alberto.
Many days he walked his gardens, usually ending at the pool, staring at Michael's statue.
And reading the three words etched in the marble wall.
Three words that somehow unlocked the key to all of this.
He smiled, seeing the first car stop right in front of him, hearing the laughter of the little ones even before its doors were opened.
One door opened, two small missiles of happiness running right for Alberto.
Darian and Shauna were in his kneeling arms in a flash, the older man laughing with teary eyes.
"The flying angels are home!!"
Justin laughed, he and everyone with him stepping out of the car, the other vehicles beginning to disembark.
Alberto let the little ones down, Doris picking them both up, smothering them with kisses.
She'd missed them so much, she staying to be with Alberto.
"Hi,Gamma!! We missed you!" Shauna said, the lady weeping, Lynn kissing her cheek.
Alberto smiled at the touching scene.
"Ready for tonight, blushing bride?" Lisa smiled at Doris, Alberto smiling.
"Yes, all ready. My Bertie is going to make an honest woman of me." she smiled, Alberto kissing her cheek.
Alberto and Doris were going to be married that evening, Alberto wanting to do it in the midst of all his loving expanded family.
Justin had thought the idea was wonderful.
Alberto and Doris rushed everyone into the house, lunch already prepared.
Justin hugged a smiling Samuel, walking into the home with his arms around the young man, Jonathan walking beside them.
After lunch, everyone tried to relax; the house in lively wedding preparation.
All the ladies were helping, all the men awaiting their commands.
Justin and the kids stayed out of their way, all playing out on the south lawn, the men sitting on the terrace, watching.
Justin sat beside Alberto, watching Noah and Darian running around with Stevie.
"They seem completely happy, Justin. No worried dreams?" Alberto said, puffing on his pipe.
"None, Poppa. Mico has been there for them every night."
Alberto teared up, nodding his head.
"How about you, Poppa? Has Matty been here for you? Is your soul at peace?"
Alberto looked into Justin's blue eyes.
"I haven't seen or heard Matty since before the final confrontation. I don't know what's happened to him. Perhaps he's gone to heaven with his brother and sisters. Maybe God has granted his dreams."
Justin nodded, Samuel looking quietly at Justin.
Samuel voiced his concerns.
"Something is going on, Justin. Something's happening here. For the last two weeks, strange things have been taking place. Voices echoing in rooms, lights being left on, strange apparitions seen in the darkness of night. It's as if my father's old house is awakening. I feel a sense of change. Of truthful awakening."
Lance looked on quietly, his mind on something else.
One key word lifting his mind's thoughts.
He looked around at the troubled faces.
Yes, an awakening.
This time it will be because of love.
In the early evening, two souls of mature happiness were united on the south terrace.
Doris and Alberto became man and wife.
Alexander stood for his brother, Lynn standing for Doris.
Cardinal Nicholas with joy and happiness married his grandfather and Doris.
Alberto's smile seemed to radiate into everyone's hearts.
And Doris' face seemed to get younger and brighten with deep happiness.
Justin stood at the gathering, remembering her once traumatic past.
Michael's love had given her a new hope and faith.
He smiled, knowing his husband's love had worked another miracle.
The two newlyweds spent the evening entertaining their guests and families.
Everyone had attended, all of Alberto's grandchildren, including Gina.
Justin saw the happiness and joy on her now kinder face.
Tanisa had been a great strength for Gina.
Her loving faithful sister had guided Gina to a new purpose in life.
Gina was a teacher, by career.
It would help immensely in her newfound field.
She was joining her sister's Order.
The two sisters were going to be Sisters of faith.
Antonio and Jarod showed their love openly now, having just been engaged about a month.
Marco and Emile, along with Jake and Paulo and Kevin and Gregory arrived late, just before the wedding, having flown in from Greece.
The family was far spread, but all had come for Alberto's moment of love.
And for what tomorrow would bring.
In the background, Justin felt all their worries for him, and for what tomorrow meant.
He felt all their love as well.
They all waved goodbye to Alberto and Doris, the newlyweds staying in the small cottage at the Villa's end.
The same cottage that Michael had stayed in the night before their wedding.
Josh and Lance walked with Justin upstairs, the three sleeping angels in their arms.
Everyone awoke the next morning to a wonderful breakfast, lovingly prepared by Justin, with help from his mothers.
They all gathered in the dining room, sitting down to breakfast.
Justin didn't eat much, rather spending time with three new angels.
He sat at the table, Christina's Justin and Michael in his lap, the two little boys cooing and giggling.
Chris sat beside him, Joe-Mikey in his lap.
"Three strapping new sons to widen our family." Justin smiled, little Justin looking up at him with his golden eyes.
"Their eyes are so unbelievable." he softly said, Alberto smiling.
"The golden eyes of the Tavarro clan. You truly are a Tavarro, Christina." Doris smiled, looking at her new granddaughter.
"Yes, my brother's love flows through me and into my children."
Justin smiled at those words, Christina seeing his glistening eyes.
"Michael would love all three of them. He always loved being an uncle." Justin said, Chris' arm going around him.
"I wonder what he'd say seeing me with kids. He always found so much happiness in making us all laugh." Chris smiled, Vicky kissing his cheek.
"He'd say how could a troll and a tramp make such an angel?"
Chris' and Vicky's eyes zeroed in on Joey.
Everyone burst into laughter, Joey smiling at the two parents.
How they missed Michael's humorous touch.
After breakfast, the family got ready, the service at the church scheduled for ten thirty.
The Tavarro-Stavros clan would be at the service, a devotion to God's love.
The group left together, Justin and the kids driving with Cardinal Barosa and Alberto.
They arrived at the church of St. Aurelia, seven limousines pulling up in front.
People stood on the steps, their forward motion stopping, their eyes upon the honored guests.
Paulo was the first one out of the second limousine, people removing their hats, bowing to their Commander.
Paulo walked up to the first limousine, opening the door.
Cardinal Nicolas Barosa stepped out, followed by Alberto and Doris, the little ones in their arms.
Last to step out was Justin.
Justin scanned around the church, seeing everyone bowing or kneeling, their hats removed.
In their hearts he was a sacred individual, the soulmate of their Messenger.
"Welcome again to our lady's church, Justin. Your heart of Michael's love radiates here once again." Cardinal Nico smiled, a tear in his eyes.
"I feel his unending love here, Nicolas. Come, let us go inside."
The service was moving, tender and wondrous in its deep loving soul.
Words of joy and adulation were spoken by the Cardinal, Alberto, Paulo, Gregory and Father Derrick.
Michael's truths, his giving soul, and the realization of their faith entered all of their hearts.
Everyone felt as one, one heart healed by their Messenger.
The cross stood where it had always stood, its leaving never in their minds.
It was a part of their heritage, it was a part of their faith.
Aurelia's statue stood as it always had, a treasured patron of their faith.
The day after the final confrontation, Father Jericho was thunderstruck with reverence upon finding something remarkable.
The two carved crosses that were inlaid in the marble floor were now completely gone.
The markers of the tombs of Adrian and Aurelia had vanished.
Their eternal peace now final.
Towards the end of the service as the time approached twelve, Josh stood upon the altar, singing The Destiny of Us All.
That song still moved everyone with its truthful love.
When Josh had finished, Cardinal Nicholas walked up upon the altar.
"My children, our devoted messengers. That song is a part of our faith now, given to us by him. But it is a moment of revered silence we must now respect. I ask all of you–all present, his family and friends–to take a moment of solitude to remember our Messenger. To remember him alone. His smile, his golden eyes, his courage and hope. Let us join in that moment."
Everyone in the church stood, their heads lowering.
Justin stood in the front row, his mind on the man of his dreams.
His loving Mico.
Towards the end of the silence, Doris gasped beside Justin.
Justin opened his eyes, looking up to the altar.
Every eye in the church was staring at it.
The two beams of light were moving across its floor, the ritual of the church's roof lighting continuing as always.
But there was no Stone of Vengeance in its center anymore to ignite their light.
It had disappeared on that day of deliverance.
Both beams continued, then united, a flash of brightness meeting everyone's gaze.
Standing now in the united beams of light in the center of the altar, in front of the table where lay the prophecy, was a tall, regal looking woman.
You didn't have to move your gaze to the right to look at a statue to see who she was.
Standing before all of them was St. Aurelia.
Everyone went to their knees, Justin staring at the beautiful woman.
She appeared to be slightly transparent, as if she were an apparition.
In one hand she held a rosary; and in the other, something closed tightly in her palm.
"Come forward, he of loving heart, he of his true love." her voice that of a soft breeze, but heard by everyone.
Alberto looked at Justin, nodding.
Justin moved forward, Darian and Shauna's eyes upon their father.
"Bring thy children as well, the triad of his love."
Darian and Shauna climbed off the pew, running to their father's side, each taking one of Justin's hands.
The three walked as one to the center of the altar, standing in front of Aurelia.
They all saw the beauty of her face change when a wide smile appeared upon it.
"Children of his love, treasures of his heart. That is what you three are. He is love, as are you. A singular love given by our Lord. I know of the hardness of this time, of the long days of loss. Fear not your sadness, God's love is unending. He is here. He walks with all of us. This I give you, loved one. Give it to him from all of us. Then shall his trueness be real."
Justin watched as Aurelia's hand went forward.
It opened, inside it laying on her palm was a chain, and hanging from it was a pendant.
The pendant was golden, with a blue onyx heart and a golden cross inside it.
Justin saw the small chip on one edge, realizing what this was.
The same pendant that Justin had laid around Michael's neck before closing his coffin.
He let Aurelia put it in his hand, Justin's eyes moving to hers.
"This is more than a pendant, Justin. This is a symbol of the Aurelian Order. Created by Adrian himself. It symbolizes the true self with God's love in its heart. But this one here was created by someone else. Given to a man of deep love. Within it lays something special. Within it lays the truth."
Justin nodded, looking again at Ramon's pendant.
Given to him by his father on his sixteenth birthday.
"When you laid this upon his breast, he sensed the truth of who he is. Of who he was. That one moment has sealed your fate, my son. Sealed it for what God decrees must happen. Look not to the souls of the past, look now to the soul of the future. Love shall be at hand. Love for all of you. Go now, return to the lions and seek that which your heart needs most. Love."
The apparition moved, slowly walking to the right of the altar, everyone following her movements.
She stood in front of her own statue looking upwards to it.
"Adrian's vision was remarkable. He sees all in the right light."
She turned then, looking across the altar at the hanging cross.
"For him, for life and love, we all shall carry his faith."
She knelt, her apparition disappearing.
Justin walked down from the altar, everyone staring in silence at him and the two little ones.
"Let's return to the Villa. The service has ended." he softly said, Alberto nodding, seeing the pendant in his hand.
Cardinal Nico bowed to Justin, walking back to the altar.
"The wonders of God's light! She has returned! Her words given to our brother! Let us leave this sacred house, let us spread the word of our faith! Go with God, my children! Go with our faith!"
Everyone bowed, the people beginning to leave.
Justin picked up the kids, Darian and Shauna smiling at him.
"Papa's happy, Dada. We sees him soon." Darian said, Justin looking at him quietly.
"Let's go find him, my angels." Justin said, walking forward.
They'd returned to the Villa, lunch ready for all of them.
Justin and the kids had gone upstairs to change.
Lance excused himself and the Cardinal, the two men walking back outside.
Lance walked to Cardinal Nico's car, the priest looking quietly at him.
"She and they all know the truth, Lance. I think it's time our family did as well. You know it, all of it. Please tell us, Lance." Nico said, Lance hugging the priest.
"Yes, Nico. I've got it all right now, I think. I think you realize the significance of Joseph."
"Yes, Lance. I think I know."
Lance quietly talked to the man, Nico's eyes widening.
"I'll leave you to your task. You have my number."
Nico nodded, his hand going to the cross around his neck.
"A moment of deep love is at hand. It is his will."
Lance smiled, the priest getting in his limousine, driving out of the Villa.
Lance looked upwards, catching a glimpse of someone looking downward.
"It's time, little one. You have to come out."
Everyone sat around the resting room, lunch having been finished.
Samuel and Jonathan had volunteered to take all the kids outside to play.
They'd all discussed the morning's revelations, Justin having remained fairly silent through the meal.
Lance looked at Justin, seeing his eyes turned downcast.
Lance sat down beside him, placing his hand on his knee.
"What's wrong, Jus?"
Everyone quieted down, seeing the young man's wet blue eyes.
"I'm scared, Lancy. I'm scared I'm losing Michael. This could be the end for him. I think God's calling him back to heaven. I think that's what Aurelia was trying to tell me. My Mico's going to leave me."
Lance put his arm around Justin's shoulder, Josh sitting down beside him as well.
"I need to tell you something, Jus. Something as the Guardian, I was sworn to keep secret. Now I know I can tell you."
Justin's head came around, looking into Lance's green eyes.
"Remember when Daniel told you to look to the man with the green eyes? That he would be Michael's salvation?"
Justin nodded, looking into Lance's green eyes.
"That man is me, Justin. I'm the one who can save Michael."
Josh looked at his husband.
"What do you mean save?" Josh said tenderly.
Lance looked around the room, all eyes looking directly at him.
Lance stood up, walking between the lion statues, running his hand along the head of the blue-eyed one.
"This was always something more than just Michael's loving goodness, Justin. More than God's loving destiny. There's another story behind all of this. The story of two people's love for each other."
Justin looked towards his friend, his blue eyes staring at him.
"Mico's and my unending love?"
Lance smiled, folding his hands in front of him.
"As wonderful and unbelievable as that love is–which we have all seen–that's not the love behind all this."
Lance sighed, looking at the blue-eyed lion.
"This love began with one small child. That child did something very wrong. And Michael, unfortunately, was the victim in all of this. For because of this Michael became lost."
Justin stood up, confusion on his face.
"Lost? My Mico is lost? Is that why he's not in the clearing?"
Lance looked all around the room.
"Michael had been lost all of his life, Jus. Since the day he was born."
Everyone looked stunned, staring with disbelief at Lance.
"What are you talking about , Lance? We've all known and seen Michael, I since he was a child of ten." Uncle Silas said, Nora putting her arm around him.
Lance raised his head, looking upwards.
"The man we've all loved, the man we've all known with such courage and kindness wasn't in essence the real Michael. He was in a sense a personification of that man's courage. The courage Michael has shown in his trying to break through."
Lance walked over to Justin, staring into his blue eyes.
"You yourself said that when you first kissed Michael you felt down deep inside him a wondrous love, a love you'd give anything to have. You yourself freed that love Justin. You woke Michael up."
Justin still looked confused, looking into Lance's eyes.
"I woke him up? What do you mean?"
"Michael has been trapped, Justin. For all of his life, he was trapped in darkness. A darkness not of his making. I found part of the truth on my walk down the Hallway of Truth. I saw part of its truth in the first painting."
Lance walked over to Alberto, the older man looking up at the Guardian.
"What color were Matty's eyes, Alberto?"
Alberto looked surprised, staring at Lance.
"My little boy's eyes were golden, a bright golden identical to Michael's."
Lance smiled, everything now falling into place.
"Yes, they were identical to Michael's. That's because they were one and the same."
Alberto looked stunned.
Lance looked at Justin.
"The first painting I saw hanging on the Hallway's wall was a picture of Michael, when he was a small child, before the pain and abuse began. That little boy's eyes were blue. The same blue I saw in the clearing with you Justin. That's the real Michael."
Justin sat down, his face motionless, Josh's arm going around him.
"What's going on, Lance? What does all this mean?"
"Let's ask he who's at the center of all this. I think it's time he showed himself, his real self." Lance said, looking towards the fireplace.
"It's time for your truth, lost one. Come here, young man."
Everyone stood up, seeing the fireplace moving, the lions separating.
Both lions roared loudly, the floor opening.
Justin's mind thought back to Michael's words.
"Look to the lions, Jus. For they shall roar one last time."
Lance stood in front of the now opened floor, waiting.
They all heard footsteps rising from the stairs, then a small head appearing, the head of a young boy.
This boy wasn't the soft apparition they'd seen of him before, this boy was solid and real.
The boy was around seven, black haired, curly like Michael's, his eyes golden like Michael's.
Alberto was in tears, as was Alexander, seeing the lost child before them.
"My Matty!" Alberto sobbed, Alexander's hand on Alberto's shoulder.
Matty smiled at them, then his golden eyes turned to Lance's green ones.
"Hello, Lance." the boy said softly.
"Hello, Matthew. It's alright. You don't have to hide anymore. We're not mad at you. None of us are, especially Michael."
The boy shyly smiled, walking towards Lance.
His small arm came out from behind his back, a small teddy bear in his hand.
He snuggled it to his chest, holding onto it tightly.
"I see you've found your bear. It is yours, isn't it?"
The boy nodded, smiling.
Everyone now understood the initials embroidered with love on its belly.
Not meaning Michael Tavarro, but Matthew Tavarro.
"Yes, Lance. It's from my Rammy. My own Rammy made it for me himself. He said it was his love that I could carry. I lost it in the pool when Freddy took me there. I was so lost without it. I've been so lost without it. I'm sorry."
Lance smiled, hearing the heartache in the small child's voice.
Alberto walked up to Lance, the little boy looking up at his father.
"I'm sorry, Poppa. I'm sorry for whats I done."
Alberto knelt down, the little child rushing into his arms.
Alberto held him, tears flowing from his own golden eyes, feeling in his arms his lost son.
"It's okay, Matty. My little Matty. Whatever you did, I know you did for love."
Lance smiled, putting his hand on Alberto's shoulder.
"Come, sit down with him. I think I've puzzled it all out. Ramon helped me."
Matty's head raised, looking into Lance's emerald eyes.
"You talked to my Rammy?"
Alberto stood, sitting down beside Justin and Josh, Matty in his lap.
"Yes, Matty. Ramon told me most of it. What you've done."
Matty lowered his head, holding tightly to Alberto.
"I loved him so much. All I wanted to do was be with him."
Everyone remained quiet, sensing a story of love about to unfold.
Lance pulled a chair up, sitting down in front of them.
"Let's start at the beginning, Matthew. The day you died."
Matty raised his head, looking around.
"Freddy killed me. He drowned me in the pool because I saw him with the knives. I saw him with the bad knives. He was bad, Poppa. He was real bad. He was going to hurt all of yous. I never got time to tells you. He killed me."
Alberto kissed his son's cheek, the little boy smiling.
"I woke up in the garden all alone. I was angel, Poppa. I walked all arounds this place, watching all of yous, none of you seeing me. I saw my Rammy so sad, so hurt. I knew he loved me so much. My being gone hurt him so much. I loved him so much. I wanted to be with him so much. When he left home, I went with him. I'm sorry, I left yous. But I couldn't let my Rammy be alone."
Alberto nodded, seeing in the small boy's eyes his love for his older brother.
"It's alright, Matty. Ramon needed your love also."
Matty smiled widely, Justin smiling at him.
Matty's smile faded a bit, his head lowering again.
"So you went to America with Ramon. Being with him always. I know you loved him so much, Matthew. So much that you found a way you thought could give you another life with him. Didn't you?" Lance gently said.
Matty nodded, looking over at Justin.
"Rammy fell in love. He met that beautiful lady, Diana. She was so beautiful. They loved each other so much. She reminded me so much of Mommy."
Alberto smiled, hugging the little boy closer.
"Then they were going to have a little boy. They would love him so much. Rammy would love him just like he'd once loved me. I thought why could it not be me again?"
Justin looked at the little boy, suddenly sensing what was becoming clear.
Matty looked up at him.
"I was there the day he was being born. I saw the angels bringing his soul. It was so white, so bright and loving. That when I decided it."
Lance looked at the tears in the little boy's now wet eyes, knowing what he'd done.
"You took Michael's place, didn't you Matthew? You jumped into his body before they could give him his soul. You became Michael."
Everyone gasped, the little boy nodding his head.
"Yes, Lance. I became Rammy's child. It was me that would be loved. I wanted his love again. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I took my Rammy's love away from Michael."
"So Michael became the lost soul. You became Rammy's son." Lance smiled, looking at the little boy.
"Yes, I was Rammy's again. I felt all his love. His and Diana's. They were so loving, so gentle."
"But you felt guilty, didn't you? And you knew it would only be a matter of time before God found out."
Matty nodded, his face showing deep sadness.
Lance extended his arms, the little boy climbing into his lap, Alberto looking at his son with deep love.
"The angels came back, didn't they?"
"Yes, Lance. They told me in a dream that what I did was wrong. But that it could now not be changed. Rammy and Diana didn't deserve to be robbed of a child because of what I had done. They told me that when I was seven I would be hurt. And that while I was unconscious Michael could come back to be himself. And I would go back to the Villa for my punishment."
Lance nodded, kissing the little boy's cheek.
"Why seven, Matthew?" Josh said, looking at him.
"Because I was seven when I died. I was seven when Freddy killed me. So God said I could have seven years again of Rammy's love. But only seven."
Lance looked at his husband, seeing the kindness in Josh's eyes for this misguided child.
"And when Freddy came back to you from Spain, in disguise as Ramon you knew didn't you?" Alberto said, looking at his son.
"Yes, Poppa. I knew it was Freddy not Rammy. I knew then that Rammy must be hurt or dead. That's when Freddy began to hurts me. He hit me so much. Then he threw me down those stairs. I woke up in the clouds. Michael was with me. I knew it had to be him. His blue eyes were so filled with love."
Justin smiled, hearing of the deep loving soul that Michael had always had.
"Why did he do it, Lance?" the little boy asked.
Lance looked around at everyone, then back at the little boy.
Matty looked into Lance's moist, green eyes.
"Why did he let me stay?"
Justin's eyes met Matty's, the two both thinking of Michael.
"He let you stay, Matty?" Justin softly said.
"It was the day that his Nana came. We met in the clouds somewhere. I didn't know where I was. He was standing there, looking at me with those blue loving eyes. Then he just hugged me. He told me it was all going to be okay. That he would make it all okay."
Matty was crying, Lance rubbing his little shoulders.
"He told me he wasn't mad. That he'd been okay being lost. That he'd been with someone else, another little boy. That the little boy was happy with him. With his Pippy."
Justin's face went white, as did Lynn's.
"Oh, God! That's impossible!" Lynn said.
Randall's face was looking shocked as well.
Everyone stared at the Timberlakes, Randall looking at Lance.
"Pippy was Justin's imaginary friend when his was a small child. That's so unbelievable!" Randall softly said, everyone looking in surprise.
"Michael was with you even when you were a child, Justin?" Vicky said in awed wonder.
Justin was in tears, remembering the little boy who'd played with him, his wonderful smile and happy joyous laughter.
The little boy seemed to appear whenever Justin needed a friend.
His parents had never seen him, making Justin, in the end, believe that he had been imaginary.
"I remember him now, his looks and smiling face, and deep blue eyes. He was real. Mom and Dad said he had to be imaginary. But he truly was real to me. He was the one who first got me to sing. He made me so happy. Then one day, the little boy said he had to go meet another angel.... but not to be sad. For one day we'd meet again. He knew even then, my Mico knew I was his forever."
Lance and Josh were in tears, hearing the truth in Justin's words.
"Yes, Justin. You remember he told both of us that he always knew he'd been destined to find you?" Paulo said, Jake's arms wrapped around him.
Justin smiled at him, then looked again at Lance and the little boy.
"Go on, Matty. Let it all out." Lance said, again kissing his cheek.
Matty looked around, staring into each set of staring eyes.
"Michael said I had to stay. That this was part of my punishment. The years ahead would be hurtful and painful. That everyone who'd loved me, my Rammy and Diana would go away. That I would be alone."
Justin was in tears, seeing now the judgement of God in regards to what Matty had done. He'd remain as the young Michael, but all he'd love would be gone. It wasn't a punishment against Michael, it was a punishment against Matthew.
Matty got up, walking in front of Justin.
"You love him don't you, Justin?"
Justin smiled, staring into the golden eyes staring at him.
"You know the truth of that Matty. You've seen my love for almost a year."
Matty smiled, kissing his cheek.
"You don't know the fullness of his love, Justin. The sacrificial being of love he is. I was never an angel, he always was. At that moment, at that moment when I returned to his body for my beginning punishment he did a totally selfless thing."
Justin felt a tear falling down his cheek.
He saw an identical one falling down Matty's.
"He came with me."
Alberto sobbed, as did a few others.
In those four words they felt Michael's true love.
"Michael and I joined together, everyone. It was then the two of us together. We both went into one body, the body now laying in that hospital bed. My body was now in that bed. His body had vanished, where to I never knew. We awoke in that hospital bed as one person, two beings joined together. And his love, that totally beautiful love surrounded me. He became me, I became him. And he pushed me back whenever the pain was shown, so that he could feel all the pain. All the hurt that he endured for me. I never felt any of it. I saw it all play out, but I never felt any of it. He became to me more of a brother than Rammy had been. His love for me was even greater. He loved me and he forgave me."
Little Matthew was crying, Lance's arms around him, rubbing the small boy's back.
Lance looked around, seeing in everyone's eyes their realization of Michael's sacrificing love.
Even then, at the tender age of seven, he took away the pain of Matthew's loneliness, and took in the pain that God had meant for him.
"So you and Michael were joined, in all ways?"
"Yes, he took on my memories. He came to believe that his life was his own. In time, I sank further back into him, he taking all the pain and sorrow. It was he alone that held his mother the night she died. It was his true love and heartache that God felt that night. I just blended into the background. I became lost again, the only thing remaining of me was my golden eyes."
Everyone looked at the little boy, his golden eyes full of tears.
"Until the night of Michael's despair. The night in the clearing."
Justin stood up, lifting the little boy out of Lance's arms.
He sat down again, the boy in his lap.
"You felt Michael's pain that night, you felt his heartache?"
"Yes, Justin. That hurt ran deep into his soul. I felt not much of it, he still protecting me from the pain. But I was in his mind. I saw all of what happened with Paul and those monsters. What they did to him, to my loving Michael." Matthew said, tears falling, Justin kissing his cheek.
"And I saw him on the edge, felt the deep hurt in his heart. I was so overcome with heartache, so destroyed with my own part of his hurt, I couldn't stop him. I couldn't stop him from jumping."
Justin tightened his hold on the little boy, letting him feel his love.
"I awoke in the clouds again, I was myself again. This little seven year old boy. And standing in front of me was a blue eyed young man. I know it was Michael. His eyes hadn't changed since last I'd seen him when we were both seven. His love radiated out of those eyes. He smiled at me and told me that I was forgiven. That God had forgiven me the innocence of my youth. And that my love for my brother was the most moving part of God's forgiveness. He told me that I was to come back, to you Poppa. To the Villa. That I was to watch and be here for you."
Alberto teared up, remembering the nights he'd heard his little boy's voice comforting him.
"I asked the man about Michael. Where he was. I begged him not to let Michael hurt anymore. He told me that Michael's love was echoing into life as we spoke. That Michael was given a task of God's love. And that I would play a part in it. For through the heart and love of a child shall thy angel return to us. Through my innocence and love shall he rise again."
Matthew stood up and walked to the fireplace, looking at the blue-eyed lions.
"I heard your voices, I heard all of you, calling out for him. And Michael's soul calling out for you. That's when I knew that God was guiding Michael, and that I was to watch it all. God had given me a gift. I was to return to Michael, and I was to be here. I separated in two in a way, part of me joining again with Michael's new being, part of me returning to this house. That's why I was only a shadow when here, most of me was with Michael. And with him. His hazel eyes of love surprised me. His love was just as great as Michael's, but different. His love felt totally beautiful, totally pure. Michael's love felt giving, loving and courageous. The three of us walked together to Michael's destiny."
Matty turned his golden eyes, looking at them all.
"Michael's destiny was to bring all of you God's love. To carry the soul of our Lord into all of your hearts. On that day of his standing upon that cliff, he made a second sacrifice. He gave his life and eternal happiness for all of your souls. He traded his own for all of you. As he did that first time with me. Michael's love is greater than all of us. And now he's given the final sacrifice. Himself for all of you. The moment he died upon that cross, I was pulled out of him. I woke up here in this house, as I am now. Jesus went back to heaven, I came here. I have no idea where Michael's gone."
The little boy looked towards his father, Alberto opening his arms.
Matty ran across the room, jumping into Alberto's arms, sobbing.
"I didn't want him to go! I never wanted to lose his love!" the little boy sobbed, Justin wiping tears from his eyes.
"His isn't gone, Matty." Lance said, everyone looking towards him.
Justin stood up, Lance standing as well.
"You know where he is, don't you Lancy?" Justin said, a tremble in his voice.
"Yes, Justin. I know where he is. He just doesn't know that yet himself."
Cardinal Barosa's limousine pulled up to the house, Nico looking at the young man sitting beside him.
"Where are we, Father?" he said quietly.
"We are at my grandfather's home, Joseph. He wants to meet you, as does my family."
"Why? I am of no consequence. I am of no matter." the man said, staring ahead.
Nico sighed, the chauffeur opening his door, walking around and then opening the passenger door.
Joseph reluctantly got out.
"It will be alright, Joseph. No one here shall hurt you."
"I should have stayed in the darkness. At least there no one could hurt me."
Nico teared up, guiding the young man towards the front doorway.
"Father Nico!! I mean your Excellency!"
Cardinal Nico turned, seeing Hidalgo the groundskeeper standing on the lawn.
"Yes, Hidalgo? What is it?"
"It's the tomb, sire. It's disappeared!"
Nico's eyes furrowed, looking at the gardener.
"What are you talking about?"
"Come, let me show you."
Nicolas looked at Joseph, the man quiet and calm.
"Come Joseph, I want you to see his resting place."
The young man nodded, walking across the lawn with the priest and gardener.
"Where is he, Lance?" Justin said, now with deep concern.
"Matty said that when he was seven, he and Michael returned to the unconscious body of Michael. That the body was now the body of Matthew. Matthew didn't know what happened to Michael's body. If you look at Matthew and remember what Michael looked like when he was seven in the photos back home you'll see that they are almost identical in their features. They were related as well. So when Michael awoke in Matthew's body, his parents–well Diana–and the concealed Fredrick didn't notice any difference, other that Michael's now golden eyes. "
Justin nodded, looking at Lance, Lance putting his hand on Justin's shoulder.
"What happened to Michael's body, Lance? Where did it go?"
Lance looked into Justin's blue eyes, then around at everyone.
"I will tell you what Father Jericho told me , and what Cardinal Nico later showed me."
Lance smiled, Justin feeling happiness in his heart.
"Over twenty years ago in the alcove of St. Aurelia's church, a small child was found unconscious and abandoned. That child was a small boy, with black curly hair and a beautiful face. He was in a state of unconsciousness. Father Jericho found that child, he telling me this himself. That child was taken to the hospital and then moved to the Hospice when he remained in a coma. For over twenty years, he remained in a coma, never moving, never opening his eyes. Not until the day of Michael's sacrifice. The young man opened his eyes on that day. His incredible blue eyes."
Everyone looked stunned, Justin looking into Lance's green eyes.
"He's awake! He woke up? Can it be Michael?"
Lance smiled, kissing Justin's cheek.
"Yes, Justin. They never knew his name so they always called him Joseph. a young man hidden in darkness for over twenty years woke up at the moment of Michael's passing out of this world. I believe with all of my heart that he's Michael. That he's the real Michael."
"Why didn't you tell me? I need to see him! I need to know!!" Justin said, everyone feeling the excitement in his voice.
"Listen, Justin. You need to know something. He doesn't know who he is! Father Nicolas and Sister Agatha have been with him all year, and his mind has remained silent, his voice almost silent. He doesn't know who he is. You can't go running in there and make him remember you. I think this is the last part of the prophecy, Jus. About a child's innocence and love making him rise again. Making him rise out of the darkness his mind has been in."
Justin calmed down, nodding his head.
Josh stood up, putting his arm around Justin.
"You've known all year, Lance?" he softly said.
"Yes, Josh. Cardinal Nico and I have talked about all of this. We agreed that today might be the best day for Joseph to be introduced to all of you. For our Michael to return to us. We both believe with all our hearts that it's him. That it's really Michael. If you only look into his eyes." Lance said, tears now falling.
"Where is he, Lance?" Justin said, kissing his cheek.
The door of the resting room flew open, Cardinal Nicolas rushing into the room.
"Lance, Justin! It's a miracle! Please come quickly, you have to see this!"
Everyone followed the excited priest, the man heading towards the pool.
"Hidalgo came running up to me, excited about this. Please, it's so unbelievable!" the priest said, his eyes filled with tears.
They all walked into the clearing, standing in shock at what lay before them.
The Room of Life was gone.
The only thing remaining in the pool was the statue of Michael.
The stone building had sunk under the water.
The statue still held the cross in his upturned hand, the child still in his other.
But what took everyone's breath away was the child's face.
The child in his arms now was Matthew.
"Matthew, that's you!" Alberto said, looking down at his young son.
"Yes, Poppa. It's me, but I don't know what it means?"
Cardinal Nico looked around for Hidalgo.
"Now where did they get off to?" the Cardinal said.
"Hidalgo and Joseph!" Nico replied, Justin's eyes widening.
"Joseph is here?" he said, taking the Cardinal's arm.
Nico looked at Lance.
"They all know, Nico. Matthew's told his story, and Joseph is who we think he is."
Nico nodded, looking into Justin's blue eyes.
"He doesn't know who he is, Justin. I'm sorry."
Justin smiled, everyone taken aback by this smile.
"Listen." Justin softly said, everyone quieting down.
They all heard it now, the soft sound of laughter, of childlike laughter.
"It's coming from the garden, from Ramon's garden." Alberto said, Justin walking toward the sound.
The all quietly walked down the pathway, passing the quiet tombs of Alberto's sons and wife.
They followed the path, walking into a clearing that opened into a beautiful garden, filled with blossoming flowers and beautiful landscaped trees.
But what stood in the center of it was more beautiful.
A young man stood in the center of a ring of children.
His back was turned to everyone, Samuel and Jonathan standing away from the children.
Jonathan ran up to Justin and everyone, his eyes full of tears, and a smile upon his face.
"It's Michael. I know it's him. He's different but I know it's him!" he said, Justin smiling at his brother.
They all stood, watching the five children moving around the young man.
Darian, Shauna, Noah, Becky and Stevie.
They were joined in hands encircling the young man.
All five children were smiling, singing a song.
"Come back to us, our dear.
Come back to us, so near.
Don't be lonely, don't be lost.
Our love is the only cost."
The five kids stopped, looking at everyone who'd walked into the clearing.
Noah smiled, looking up at the young man.
"They's here now. He's here."
The man turned, everyone gasping.
The mans looks were different from Michael, but just slightly different.
His hair was the same styling, same length.
His face was the same, although his cheek bones were longer.
His height was the same, his body type almost identical.
Justin stared at him, the young man staring back, looking at everyone.
His eyes were the bluest of blues, a soft baby blue, with sparking irises.
"Hello." he softly said, his voice light and airy.
Noah smiled up at him.
"Just a minute, Joseph. I gets him."
Noah ran from the circle running towards Justin.
Justin's gaze left the young man's, Justin sinking to his knees.
Noah ran into Justin's arms kissing his cheek.
"He's almost here, Justin. We just need the right child!"
Justin looked into Noah's brown eyes, Noah's brown seeing eyes.
He saw so much love in them, so much joy and happiness.
"It's me, Justin."
Justin turned, looking at Matthew.
"It's me that needs to do this. It's my fault, it's my responsibility to end this. To give Michael back himself."
The little boy smiled up at Alberto, Alberto looking into his golden eyes.
"I love you, Poppa. And I loved Rammy. I need to fix this."
Matty walked forward, Noah smiling at him and taking his hand.
"Come on Matty. We's going to sing him backs to us."
Matty laughed, the two running to the other children.
All the adults stood in silence seeing six children join hands around the young man.
The young man smiled, looking down at each small child.
"Don't be worries, Papa. We wuvs you." Shauna smiled, Joseph looking into her blue eyes.
The six children began dancing around the man, their voices resuming again.
"Come back to us, our dear.
Come back to us, so near.
Don't be lonely, don't be lost.
Our love is the only cost."
"I took your heart, and left you alone.
I took your soul, and made you my own.
You were lost in the darkness, far from some.
But you freed my soul, and brought me home.
The time is here, it begins now
You are here, Michael, our love
I return your soul now,
Given by the angels from above."
Matthew stopped as did the others.
A soft glow came from Matthew's golden eyes.
Then it glowed in the other five children's eyes.
It was white, a whiteness of breathtaking beauty.
The light moved above all six children intensifying after it passed each one.
Tomas stood in silent wonder, remembering those five children standing at the bottom of the stairs in the Villa the day Michael left for the church.
He sensed in his heart that day, when he'd knelt before them, he gave them his soul.
That was the white light flowing from their hearts.
Justin's eyes were in tears, something Michael had said coming to his mind.
It was on the day he'd saved Seth from hanging himself.
He'd said it himself, staring at the garden surrounding that tree.
"In a garden of beauty, his love shall shine bright. And at death's door a soul shall be pulled back from the endless night. Young at heart shall be set free."
Justin smiled widely, finding the truth in those words.
The light began to move, then sank into Joseph's chest.
The young man gasped, falling to his knees.
The garden was in complete silence.
The young man's head was lowered, his body motionless.
Matty released Noah's and Darian's hands, walking forward.
He stood in front of the man, the man's head slowly raising.
His blue eyes came into view, both filled with tears.
Matty's were wet also, staring at the young blue-eyed man he'd seen in heaven.
"Welcome home, Michael. Welcome to your truth."
Michael smiled, pulling the small child into his arms, Matty's face buried in his chest.
Michael's eyes were upon one man.
One man standing in the garden, looking into his blue eyes.
"It's alright, my little angel. I told you so long ago I'd make it all okay."
Justin smiled, beginning to walk forward.
Michael stood up, waiting for him to shorten the distance.
Matthew was set down, the boy wiping his eyes, Noah's arm going around his waist, Noah smiling at him.
Justin stood in front of Michael, staring into his blue eyes.
"Yes, Justin. It's me. The real me. I hope you can live with that real me."
Justin smiled, hearing Michael's familiar self-doubt.
"I've lived with him from the moment I stared into his eyes. That first day I saw their true blueness, hidden behind the gold. I saw the real you, Michael. I fell in love with you then, and today I love you just as much. I love you, Mico."
Michael smiled, the two joining, a kiss of interlocking faith.
The applause shattered the quiet garden.
Michael felt a tug on his pant leg, looking down.
Two sets of blue eyes stared up at him.
"Hi ya, Papa!" Darian and Shauna grinned.
Michael's smiled widely, sweeping up his two angels.
"Hello, my darlings. It's Papa. It's truly me."
"We knows, Papa. We always knows. You backs with us. We wuvs you."
Justin was in tears, hearing the unchanged love from his children to their father.
The four were suddenly surrounded by everyone, Michael smiling into all their tearful faces.
"It's you, Michael! It's really you!" Lynn said, her eyes filled with tears.
"Yes, Mom. It's the real me."
Everyone hugged him, kissed him, and patted his back.
Lance and Josh both took Michael into their arms, both kissing him deeply.
"Welcome home, Michael."
"To not be with my Singer and my Guardian was never an option. I need all three parts of my heart."
They were both in tears, Michael wrapping his arms around both of them.
He then turned, seeing his grandfather quietly waiting to hug him.
Michael pulled him close, kissing his cheek.
"I'm back, my Spanish grandfather."
"Oh, Michael! Oh, you're back!" he sobbed, Michael rubbing his back.
"Yes, Poppa. I'm back. I'm really back."
Everyone smiled, Michael smiling back.
Through all of it, Justin's hand had remained in his, the touch unbreakable.
Justin looked into Michael's blue eyes.
He'd swore that in their deep irises he'd seen a golden glow.
"I'm back Justin. And I'm not leaving for a long time."
Justin sobbed, Michael kissing his moist lips.
"Let's go home, Jus. I want to return to our life. To our happiness and love."
Justin smiled widely.
"I've never wanted anything else."
Justin kissed him gently, a sudden feeling overcoming their joined soul.
They both turned, looking towards the garden's entrance.
"Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves."
The group silenced, looking towards the garden's opening.
There, standing on the clearing's edge, was Ramon Tavarro.
His smile was so beautiful, so loving, his words said with deep meaning.
He smiled at all of them, his eyes looking at his little brother.
"It's time, Matty."
Michael smiled, looking down at the small boy standing beside Noah.
"Rammy?" the boy said softly, his eyes widening.
Ramon knelt down, opening his arms wide.
The little boy was crying, flying across the garden.
He flung himself into Ramon's arms, Ramon's eyes filled with tears.
"It's time, Matty. Time for us to be brothers forever."
Alberto was in tears, Michael gently walking him towards his sons.
Ramon stood up, Matthew in his arms.
Matthew gradually calmed down.
"There, there, little Matty. Where's your bear?"
Matty smiled pulling the bear out of his jacket pocket.
Ramon smiled, looking towards his father and Michael.
"God has forgiven Matty. And Matty has shown his love in releasing you, Michael. All is right again."
Alberto smiled, looking at his two sons.
"I love you, Dad." Michael smiled, his blue eyes tearing.
"And I love you, my son. My real son. As I've loved my brother and my father."
Alberto smiled, as did Michael.
Doris and Justin walked up to the two men, their arms circling their spouses.
"I see love in both your hearts, the love of soulmates. I see your loving lives, they're just beginning. Our love is with you always, Michael. Your mother and I will always be watching. Come on, Matty. Let's go have some fun."
The little boy laughed, looking back at Michael.
"Bye, Mikey. And thanks for giving me a life. I'm living again. And I'll live forever."
Michael smiled, watching the man set the little boy down, taking his hand.
"Farewell, Father and son. My heart fills with your love."
Alberto and Michael smiled, watching the two walk into the shadows, their images disappearing.
Michael turned, looking into Justin's blue eyes.
"Our lives of living begin. Welcome to the new adventure."
Justin smiled and then laughed, kissing Michael, wrapping his arms around him.
Michael felt all of their returned love, smiling and looking around.
"I hear Chris is a daddy! I hope that angel doesn't look like a troll!"
Everyone burst into laughter, Michael's humor shattering the emotional moment.
Chris smiled widely, then folded his arms.
"My son is a vision of beauty."
"Must take after his mother." Michael smiled, looking at Vicky.
Vicky was smiling widely, seeing her loving pencildick back.
Chris looked stunned, then burst into laughter.
"I am so glad you're back, Mikey!!" he laughed, hugging the man tightly.
Michael laughed, hugging a dear friend.
Justin stood beside the crib, looking down at the three sleeping angels.
Lance and Josh had begged off sleeping in this room tonight, feeling the need in Justin's soul for only his Mico.
Michael had felt their giving love as well.
They'd all parted in the hallway with tender kisses, Noah climbing into Michael's arms, to sleep with his friends.
Justin looked down at all three now sound asleep, adjusting the blanket around them.
He heard the bathroom door opening.
Michael walked out, wrapped in a robe.
Justin smiled, himself standing in a robe, having showered before Michael, while Michael put the kids to bed.
"They're all asleep, tucked in for the night."
"That's wonderful, our angels are in God's hands."
Justin smiled, Michael staring at him.
"Come, Justin. Let's go out onto the balcony. We need to talk."
Justin nodded, checking on the kids, then following Michael out onto the balcony.
He was surprised to see candles lit everywhere, and a bottle of wine in a bucket of ice.
"While you showered and the kids sat quietly, I fixed it all up. I wanted a moment of love between us."
Justin teared up, Michael opening the wine, pouring two glasses, and handing Justin one.
"Here's to the new beginning, Justin. The beginning of our real true love."
Justin smiled, tapping his glass against Michael's, both tasting the sweet wine.
Michael sat down on a comfy sofa lounger, patting the seat beside him.
Justin smiled, sitting down beside him.
They sat quiet for a moment, then Michael leaned forward, his head going to Justin's chest.
Justin put his arm around Michael, feeling that instant contact and familiarity.
It was Michael against him; his scent, his feel, his body, it was really him.
"You really are back, my love. You came back to me." Justin said, emotion in his voice.
"I never left, Justin. Our love never was separated."
Justin smiled, Michael raising his head, kissing him deeply.
Justin and Michael both felt the love of their soulmate.
They kissed and nibbled, feeling their flowing desires.
Justin smiled, something shiny catching his eye from inside the bedroom.
He realized what it was: the pendant from the necklace Aurelia had returned to him.
Justin broke the kiss and walked back into the bedroom, returning with the necklace.
"Mico, this was returned to me by Aurelia. She knew you couldn't be without it."
"Thank you my love. I guess Aurelia knew I'd be returning."
"I guess so." Justin said.
Michael returned the necklace to its rightful place.
Justin smiled, seeing the necklace around Michael's neck.
The pendant returned to him, Michael now wearing his father's love.
Michael moved back a little, looking into Justin's lustful eyes.
"Before our desires flood us, I need to tell you all of it, Justin. I didn't know, the truth was hidden from me."
"I know, Mico. You didn't know that of which you carried. Of God and of Matty. And you didn't know of your lost self. Or all the love that enshrined you. Matthew told us all of what happened between you two, and of your sacrificing heart."
Michael nodded, looking into Justin's eyes.
"I remember being with you as a child, Justin. Of looking into your blue eyes. Your loving heart was so beautiful. I wanted to be with you always. And then I had to go, you lost to me forever, I thought."
Justin leaned forward, kissing his lips tenderly.
"God would have none of that, Mico. God brought us together again, here today. Our love was always destined to be ours."
Michael teared up, kissing Justin's lips.
"I love you, Justin."
"I love you more, Mico."
"The air is chilling my love. I need your warmth to light my soul. Let's go to our bed." Justin said, giving Michael his hand.
Michael took it, standing up, walking back into their bedroom.
They both walked around to the crib, looking down into its loving center.
Three angels slept in silence, both men lost in their beauty.
"I have a life, Justin. I can go on living it every day."
Justin smiled, kissing his cheek.
"Love does conquer all."
They both smiled, kissing deeply.
They walked to the bed, their robes leaving their bodies.
They sank down, their arms wrapping around each other.
Love united again, a heartsong began to echo through their center of love.
A song to be sung for all their lives.
Two sets of eyes opened in the crib, looking towards each other.
Both sets of blue orbs glowed brightly, two smiles shining in the darkened room.
They moved together, a small boy between them, his own golden eyes glowing as well.
Noah smiled, closing his eyes as he was kissed on both cheeks.
Inside his loving heart, Daniel's soul smiled.
"Let their music guide our lives. Let their heartsong ignite their love."
End of Justin's Angel.
And so my heartsong has ended.
I hope its music has filled your soul.
And I hope the final verse was worthy of its words.
I hope the end did justify the means.
Michael and Justin I leave with a true heart and soul.
I know it's only fiction, but I feel their love rings through my own heart.
For it's there that it was created.
Today, I find fitting for this final chapter.
Today is Justin's birthday.
And Mico's, lol.
I hope you've all enjoyed this small tale of wonder, love, faith and hope.
I've an epilogue to post, for next week.
A summing up of the future and perhaps a befitting end.
I want to, at this time, acknowledge one person who helped me through all of this.
He was a taskmaster at times, but his heart is so giving.
Thank you, Michael, my editor of friendship and justice.
Your sword of truth saw through all my grammatical atrocities.
Thanks, my new friend.
The one thing that will continue from this is your friendship.
That in itself made this journey well worth the task.
And the friendship of some diehard fans will continue in my heart as well.
I also need to thank all of you, my fans, all of you.
Your kind words and thoughts make me still think I'm not that great a writer.
But your tenacity and unflinching support perhaps make me think I really am.
Up next: the Epilogue to Justin's Angel.
And in the near future, a new story.
I'll give you a taste of it at the end of the epilogue.
Hugs, and thankful kisses, your beleaguered narrator, Angel.