good or bad is needed.
The good feed back, strokes our ego.
The bad feed back, strokes
the delete key. <grin>
This story can also
be found on my web site at:
"Morning, Joey," Lance said looking up from the morning paper.
"Morning," Joey mumbled. "Where is everyone?"
"Chris and Josh left about a half hour ago. They said they were going to meet a couple girls they met last night. I don't expect to see them until tomorrow. And Justin just went to his room for something."
Justin came bounding into the room and stopped short when he saw Joey. "Damn, Joe. You look like shit,"
"Good morning to you too, Justin," Joey sarcastically replied.
"Sorry. . . . Morning, Joe. You look like you didn't sleep all night," Justin observed.
"I didn't get much sleep. I was waiting for Matt to call but he never did."
"That's not like him," Justin said. "Did you try his apartment?"
Nodding, Joey said, "I tried it a little while ago. No answer. And I can't get him on his cell, he has it turned off."
"That's strange. Joe, what was Matt doing last night?" Lance asked.
"He said he was headed back to Joliet when we talked. He had one more stop to make at one of the casinos in Joliet. He said it was just a spot check and that he was going to be home late last night."
"Maybe his spot check turned up something and he ended up doing a full inspection," Justin offered.
"That's possible," Joe agreed.
"Joe, did you try calling the Inn? Maybe someone there knows what's up with Matt," Lance said.
"Good idea," Joe said as he dialed the number.
"Good morning. Lincoln Way Inn, this is Sharon; how may I help you?"
"Morning, Sharon, this is Joey Fatone. Is Mr. Biggs in yet?"
"Ah, he sure is. Let me transfer your call," Sharon said as she put Joey on hold. Sticking her head into the office, she informed Will. "Ah, Mr. Biggs. You have a phone call on line one. It's Joey Fatone."
Looking at the phone with dread, Will picked up the phone. "Ah, Joey."
"Morning, Will. Have you seen Matt this morning? I've been trying to get hold of him all morning."
"Ah, Joey where are you?" Will asked.
"I'm in New York. Why?"
"Joey, you need to get here as soon as possible," Will said.
"Why, what's wrong? Has something happened to Matt?" Joe asked with his heart racing.
"Joey, Matt was involved in a head-on crash last night," Will said.
"Nooo!" Joey wailed.
Lance and Justin looked up at the ashen face of Joey.
"Is. . . Is. . . Is he," Joey stammered trying to get out the one dreaded question.
"Joe, what happened?" Lance asked.
Looking up with brimming eyes, "Matt's been in a accident. . . . I got to go.," Joey said as he dropped the phone. Looking around the room, not sure what to do, as tears ran down his cheeks. "I've got to go to Matt."
Lance picked up the phone. "This is Lance Bass. Can you tell me what happened?"
"Yes, Lance. I don't know everything, but Matt was on his way back to Joliet when a van lost control and crossed the median and hit Matt head-on," Will said.
"Shit! How bad is he?" Lance asked.
"I talked to Matt's sister an hour ago. They had Matt in surgery for over eleven hours. She said he's in critical condition. I think Joey needs to be here," Will said.
"We'll get the first flight out," Lance said shakily.
"Let me know what flight you are coming in on and I will be there to pick you up," Will offered.
"K, I'll let you know as soon as we know our flight," Lance said before he hung up.
Joey looked up at Lance, "Is he?"
"Marc is still with us. Marc's sister told Will that he is listed as critical.
Lance called the airline and arranged for their flight, then helped Joey quickly pack while Justin rushed off to pack his bags. Not wanting to leave Joey alone, Justin brought his bags to Joey's room while Lance likewise packed.
Lance came back to the room with his bags. Joey was sitting in a chair staring out the window.
"How's he doing?" Lance softly asked.
"He's just sitting there not saying anything," Justin said caringly.
"I tried calling Chris and Josh, but their cells are off," Lance said. "I left a message on their voice mail."
"What did you tell them?"
"That Matt was in a car accident and is in the hospital. I told them we didn't know much only that he is critical. And that we'll call them to let them know what's going on."
"Are we ready to go?" Justin asked.
"Looks like it," Lance said as he looked around the room. Going over to Joey, Lance placed a hand on his shoulder. "Joe, it's time to go."
Joey looked up at Lance with red eyes and nodded. Putting on his coat Joey headed for the door.
"Joey, you going to take your bag?" Justin asked.
Speaking for the first time, Joey answered in a raspy voice, "I don't need one. I have everything I need at Matt's."
Lance was able to book a commuter flight from New York to Chicago's Midway airport arriving mid-afternoon. As they exited the jet way, Joey spotted Will waiting for them.
"Any news?" Joey asked anxiously as they approached Will.
"Sorry, nothing new," Will said as they walked through the terminal.
Entering the hospital, Will asked at the information desk about Matt. They were directed to the seventh floor Cardiac Care Unit.
The elevator opened onto a large waiting area. Lance went to the information desk and said, "We're here to see Matt Morgan."
"Are you a family member or friend?" the receptionist asked.
Looking to Joey, Lance answered, "Friend
of the family."
"Do you know where his family can be found?" Justin asked.
"Yes, they are in Family Room 3," the receptionist said as she indicated a door across the room.
"Thank you," Justin said.
Entering the family room, they found several small groups standing around the room talking. Jessica was sitting with her dad when she saw Joey, Lance, Justin and Will enter.
Jess went to Joey, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tight. "I'm so glad to see you," she softly said.
"Have you seen him yet?" Joey asked.
"Only mama and grandpa have been allowed to see Uncle Matt. They're in talking with the doctors now," Jess said.
Matt's father and sister came back into the waiting room. They stopped briefly to talk with a group of people across the room.
Tom Morgan looked across the room and saw Jessica standing talking to William and three young men.
Joey looked up to see Matt's father staring at him. After a long moment, Matt's father made his way over to the group. "Joseph," he said with a nod of his head as a greeting.
"Mr. Morgan, these are my friends, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake. Guys, this is Matt's father, Tom Morgan.
Handshakes were exchanged all around.
"Grandpa, what can you tell us about Uncle Matt?" Jessica asked.
Tom indicated the nearby chairs. "We might as well sit down."
"How is he?" Joey softly asked.
Taking a deep breath Tom said. "Mathew is not doing well. His injuries are quite extensive. . . . The air bag in his car didn't deploy as it should. He hit the steering wheel with his face. He broke his nose, jaw and also broke off five teeth when he hit. He has a broken collarbone and broke both arms just above the wrist. Mathew also suffered internal injuries. They had to remove his spleen, his liver is badly bruised and then there is his heart."
"What's wrong with Matt's heart?" Joey asked his voice showing the strain.
"A piece of metal, we think it came from the wiper blade was driven into his chest, piercing his heart."
"Oooh, God no!" Joey moaned.
"The rescue squad didn't know about it at first. They had to cut Mathew out of the car and they didn't know about it until he leaned forward and they saw it sticking out his back."
"Was Matt conscious during all this," Lance asked.
"The EMT's said he was awake and aware of what was going on around him. His problems didn't start until he was laid on the stretcher. His blood pressure dropped. They had life flight waiting to rush him to the trauma center.
As they sat talking, a "code blue room 14," could be heard over the loud speakers. Joey looked at Tom, whose face had gown pale. "Is that . . .?" Joe asked.
Tom nodded before closing his eyes to pray.
With a ragged sigh Joey reached out, took Tom's hand and joined him in prayer. Justin took Joe's other hand as did Lance join hands with Justin and Jess. Jess took her grandfather's hand completing the prayer circle.
Time stood still for them; the only thoughts were for Matt.
A hand on Tom's shoulder brought him back. "Papa," Beth softly said.
Everyone looked up to see Matt's sister and a doctor standing next to her father.
"Doctor, is he?" Tom shakily asked.
"Matt is still hanging in there," the doctor said.
A sigh of relief came from the group.
"We will be taking Matt back up to surgery. He is bleeding internally, and we need to stop it."
"Is Mathew awake?" Tom asked.
"Yes he is. We will be moving him in about ten minutes," the doctor said.
"May I see my son?" Tom asked.
"Yes, of course."
Tom got up to go with the doctor. "Tell Matt I'm here," Joey said.
Tom turned back and looked deep into Joey's eyes. "You can tell him yourself, son," Tom said as he reached out to Joey.
Tom and Joey entered CCU and were stopped by a nurse. "Mr. Morgan, only members of the family are allowed in CCU," the nurse firmly stated.
Tom looked the nurse straight in the eye and said, "This is my son. And he will be allowed access to Matt without any question. Am I understood?"
"Yes sir," the stunned nurse said. "There will be no problem at all."
Tom and Joey walked around the nurses' station and moved toward Matt's room.
"Joey, I need to warn you about Matt. Right now he is one big bruise. There is not a part of his body that is not swollen or discolored," Tom said.
"I understand," Joey replied.
Tom and Joey stood outside Matt's room watching as the last of the nursing staff finished getting Matt ready for his move.
Joey softly said, "Oh, God," after seeing Matt for the first time.
As the staff left the room Tom placed a hand on Joey's shoulder and said, "Come on, son, you have to be strong for Matt."
They entered the room and each stood on either side of Matt's bed. Tom reached out and touched Matt's right shoulder, "Son."
Matt slowly opened his eyes and looked at his dad. "Papa," Matt softly said through clinched teeth. "I'm scared."
Tom leaned in and softly kissed Matt's forehead. "I know, son. I'm scared too. But we don't need to worry. We've got help now and everything is going to be all right," Tom reassured Matt.
Joey reached down and took hold of the fingers that extended from the end of the cast on Matt's left arm. Matt slowly turned his head to look at who was touching him. Seeing Joey, Matt smiled and made an effort to hold on to Joey's fingers.
Joey leaned in close and softly said, "Hi, love."
With drooping eyes Matt said, "You're here."
"Were else would I be?"
With difficulty, Matt managed to say, "I'm so sleepy."
"Just rest, Matt."
"Joe," Matt said softly
Leaning close, Joe replied, "Yes, Matt."
"I. . . Will. . . Always. . . Love . . . You," Matt said as his eyes closed.
Tears ran down Joey's cheeks as Matt's statement fully hit him. `Was Matt saying goodbye?' Joey thought.
Matt sucked in a big breath and fighting his way back to consciousness, "Will. . you. . be. . here. . when I. . . get back?"
Smiling, Joey answered, "Of course I'll be here when you wake up."
"Good," Matt said as he lost his battle with consciousness.
Leaning in, Joey kissed Matt's forehead and said, "I love you, Matt. Come back to me."
Tom and Joey followed Matt as he was moved to the elevator. Placing his arm around Joey's shoulder Tom turned them back to the waiting room.
As they entered the waiting room, Beth came up to Joey. "How are you doing?" she asked as she gave him a hug.
"I'll be all right. It's Matt that I'm worried about."
Everyone was sitting around talking softly when a distinguished looking man entered the room. Tom got up and went to greet the newcomer. "Jack, it's good of you to come by."
"Tom, how is Matt doing?"
"Not too well. They've taken him back up to surgery."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Tom, we need to talk," Jack said.
"Jack, we're not ready to start thinking about legal action," Tom said a little irritated.
"Tom, it's not about the accident. Do you know a Joey Fatone?" Jack asked.
"I'm Joey Fatone," Joey said.
"Joey, this is Jack Bisby, Matt's attorney," Tom said in introduction.
Joey and Jack shook hands. "Is there a conference room we could use?" Jack inquired.
"I'll see," Tom said. Checking with the CCU nurse, Tom returned. "This way," Tom said indicating a room marked Doctors Ready Room.
Entering the room, Jack let out a sigh of relief when he saw the tv/vcr combo sitting in the corner. As they took seats around the table Tom asked. "Jack, what is this all about?"
Opening his briefcase Jack removed a video. "I think this will explain everything better than I can," Jack said as he loaded the video into the VCR.
The video started with Matt looking out at them.
"If you are viewing this tape something bad has happened to me. Dad, Joey, I assume that you both are watching this. . . . Dad, I love you. And I know you love me. I am hoping you have a little more love to share with Joey. Joey is the love of my life and I hope you can accept him as another son."
Tom and Joey looked at each other smiling slightly, knowing Matt's wish had already come true.
"Joey, baby, I want to thank you for coming into my life. I love you and trust you more than you can ever imagine.. . . . Because of that love, I am making this request. Joe, I'm giving you full power of attorney and naming you as my trustee in all matters of business, and my personal affairs."
Joey was surprised at Matt's action.
"Dad, I'm hopping you will understand my decision. And I hope you will help Joey through this. He will need your support and counsel."
"Joey, I know how irritating my dad can be; overlook him calling you Joseph all the time, it's just his way. You will need his input in the time to come.. . . Joe, Dad, I need you to understand what I'm about to say. . . . Since you are seeing this tape, I must assume something has happened to me. And medical decisions will need to be made. There is one decision that has already been made. If for any reason it looks like I may not make it, please let me go. I don't want to be kept alive by machines."
"Joey, baby, I realize this kind of decision will be unthinkable. But I hope you love me enough to not let me suffer hooked up to some machine."
"The two of you are the most important men in my life. I love you both. Please love me enough to do what is right. Draw strength from each other and be supportive of each other."
Matt's face faded from the screen. The room remained silent for a long time.
Tom cleared his throat, "Jack, when did Matt record that?"
"Last month after he returned from vacation," Jack replied.
"Is there any paperwork involved?" Tom asked.
"Yes, I just need Joey's signature on this document. And, Tom, I need you to sign as a witness."
Joey looked at the paper before him. Slowly moving to pick up the pen he said, "I don't know if I can do this."
"Son, I'm praying that it will never have to come to that decision. We must believe Matt is going to make it through this. But if it comes to that, I know our love for him will let us do what is right," Tom assured Joey.
With a sniffle and a nod, Joey signed the document then pushed it over to Tom to witness.
Lance stood at he window of the waiting room looking out over lights of the city. Darkness comes early this time of the year, Christmas and a New Year are only weeks away. A slight movement caught Lance's attention. Noticing for the first time Jess' reflection, Lance smiled. Turning to Jess, he asked, "How you holding up?"
"I'm doing ok. I'm just worried about Uncle Matt," Jess softly said.
"Is there anything I can do?" Lance asked.
Jess nodded, "Will you hold me?"
"Sure," Lance said as Jess stepped into his open arms.
Jess wrapped her arms around Lance's waist and laid her head on his chest.
"Lance, . . . What will I do if Uncle Matt doesn't make it?"
"You don't have to worry about that. Matt's going to get through this. He has too much to live for."
"I hope you're right. I'd really be pissed at Uncle Matt if he messes up with Joey and goes and dies."
Chuckling, Lance said, "Now that is a reason for Matt to get well, if he doesn't want you to be pissed at him."
"And I would be too," Jess said with a laugh.
Tom and Joey came back into the waiting room. Spotting Lance and Jess, Tom stopped. Joey followed Tom's gaze. "Is there something going on with those two?" Tom asked.
Joey sighed. "We're not sure. Matt hopes it is just friendship. But I think it may be the start of something more."
"He's too old for my Jessica," Tom said.
"Matt already had a talk with Lance. He pointed out that Lance is nine years older the Jess," Joey said.
"That's more than enough reason for them to stay away from each other."
"Matt understood that. He also realized if we try to keep them apart and forbid them to see or talk to each other that would make matters worse. They would be forced to sneak around behind our backs. Instead of keeping them apart we would force them together," Joey said.
"Did my son have a solution?"
Nodding, Joey said, "Matt laid down some rules. The first is that until Jess turns 18 she is a minor and if anything happens Matt said he would find Lance and beat the shit out of him before turning him over to the police. And second that Jess is to finish school. And third, he invited Lance to come along when ever I came to visit."
"Why would he do that?" Tom asked perplexed.
"To control their time together. Matt felt it was better to know where they were and what they were doing, than having them sneak around and get into trouble."
Tom sighed. "I guess Matt knows what he is doing. Matt must trust that Lance will keep his word. Now I agree, keeping them apart would only throw them together."
"Who knows, nothing may develop. We may be worried for nothing. A long distance relationship is very hard. And with so many local boys around, Jess may fall in love with someone else."
Tom scanned the room. "It looks like we've misplaced Justin," Tom said.
Lance and Jess parted as Joey and Tom approached. "Is there any word?" Jess asked.
"No, it's too early," Tom replied.
Justin came back into the waiting room. "Where have you been?" Joey asked.
"Checking out the cafeteria," Justin said. "They're still serving food."
"Why don't you all go get something to eat," Tom suggested.
"No, I want to be here when Matt comes out of surgery," Joey said.
"Joey, you haven't eaten all day," Lance said.
"Son, you're not going to be of any good to Matt if you become sick. Go get something to eat. I'll let you know when Matt is in recovery."
With a heavy sigh, Joey agreed.
Food was not what Joey wanted. But he did manage to get a ham sandwich and a chocolate shake down. Only Justin seemed to have an appetite; the others just picked at their food.
"Has anyone heard from Chris or JC?" Joey asked.
"No. I tried calling them again," Justin said.
"They're going to try calling and they won't be able to get us as long as we're on the CCU floor," Lance said.
"Why did we have to turn our cells off?" Justin asked.
"Cell phones interfere with the equipment in CCU," Lance answered.
"In a way I prefer it that way. I'm not up to explaining what is going on," Joey said.
Jess spotted Will as he entered the cafeteria. Jess gave a wave that Will spotted. "Hi, guys. Tom said I'd find you down there."
"Any news on Matt?" Joey asked.
"No. They still have him in surgery. . . . I wanted to drop off this set of keys. It's to the Inn's van we came over here in. The remote to the garage is on there along with a key to Matt's apartment. I thought you might want to keep a low profile. You should be able to come and go with out being noticed," Will said.
"Thanks, Will. How will you be getting home if you leave us the van?" Joey asked.
"I've got a ride waiting for me," Will said. "Joey, tell Matt we are all praying for him."
"I will," Joey said. "Thanks."
Returning to the family waiting room Joey saw Tom with a smile on his face.
"Any word?" Joey asked as Tom came over.
"He made it through surgery with no problems. He's in recovery and doing good. They'll be bringing him down soon."
Joey and Tom stood outside Matt's room watching as the nurses fussed over Matt after his move from recovery.
"He looks so pale," Joey softly said.
The doctor came out of Matt's room.
"How is he doing?" Tom asked.
"He's doing fine. He's still a little drowsy. We need him to take deep breaths, in order to clear the anesthetic from his lungs. Once he is alert we can let him get some rest," the doctor said.
"Thanks, Doctor," Tom said as they entered Matt's room.
Joey stood at the side of Matt's bed. Leaning over, Joey softly said, "Time to wake up, Matt."
Matt's head turned slowly toward Joey's voice. Matt's eyes half opened. Smiling up at Joey Matt softly said, "Hi, I'm baaack."
Laughing, Joey said, "You sure are. . . . Matt we need you to take some deep breaths."
Matt nodded and attempted a deep breath then winced in pain. "It hurts."
"I know, baby. But you need to clear the anesthetic out of you system."
"Can't," Matt cried.
"Matt, you must. Do it for me. Do it for your Joey."
Matt took another deep breath, his face showing the pain. But Matt kept his eyes on Joey and continued to take deep breaths.
The CCU nurse came in to check on Matt. Noticing the deep breaths she said, "Good job there, Matt." Seeing the pain on Matt's face she reached up and pushed a button cycling a medication pump. Within seconds, the pain left Matt's face. "That should help the pain," the nurse said.
Matt continued taking deep breaths and as the drugs fully kicked in Matt said, "Wow! Good shit."
Jess was allowed to see Matt briefly before she headed home with her mom and dad. Tom sent Lance and Justin off to the Inn for a good nights sleep. Joey was going to spend the night beside Matt's bed.
Entering the apartment with bags in hand, they were met with a ringing phone.
"Hello," Lance answered.
"Lance, thank god," JC said. "I've been trying to reach you guys for over an hour. Why is your cell off?"
"We had to turn them off while on the CCU floor," Lance explained
"How is Matt doing?" JC asked.
"He's doing better. They had to take him back into surgery tonight to stop some internal bleeding. It's just wait and see how things develop. We should know more in the next couple days."
"How are you guys holding up?"
"Other than being dead tired we're doing okay. We came back to the Inn to get some rest."
"Is Joey doing alright? I know how close he has become to Matt."
"He's hanging in there. He's at the hospital sitting with Matt and his dad," Lance said.
"We will be on the first flight out in the morning," JC said.
"Do you want one of us to pick you up?" Lance asked.
"No. We'll get a rental. We'll see you all at the hospital around noon."
"K, see you there," Lance said. "Bye."
It was after 2 a.m. when the nurse came into Matt's room to check on him. Matt was awake. "Do you need any pain medication?" the nurse asked.
Matt shook his head, "No. . . . Blanket."
"Sure," the nurse said as she reached into a cabinet for another blanket. As she started to put it over Matt he said, "No not me." Indicating the sleeping Joey, who's head was resting next to his left shoulder, he said, "On him please."
The nurse smiled as she placed the blanket over the sleeping young man.
"Thank you," Matt said with a smile as he dozed off.
Justin and Lance arrived early the next morning.
"Good morning, boys," Matt's dad greeted them.
Good morning. How is Matt doing?" Justin asked.
"He's doing better," Tom said.
"Is there any chance we can see him?" Lance asked.
"Sure, come on I'll take you to him."
Matt lay awake with his head turned looking at the sleeping Joey. Someone entering the room shifted Matt's attention. Looking up, Matt saw the smiling faces of Justin and Lance.
"How you doing?" Lance said softly.
"I've been better," Matt softly replied.
Chuckling at Joey, Lance asked, "Has he been like that all night?"
Matt only nodded.
"He's going to be so sore when he wakes up," Justin said.
"I am awake," Joey said with his head still resting in the bed. Slowly lifting his head, Joey winced with pain from his stiff neck and back. Seeing Matt's bright eyes Joe smiled and said, "Good morning, love."
"Morning, Joe," Matt answered with a slight smile.
Looking around the CCU Joey sighed, "I wish I could give you a kiss right now."
Matt wrinkled his nose, getting a whiff of Joey's strong sent. "I'm glad you can't. Joe, you stink."
"Matt's right, Joe. You are kind of ripe," Justin laughed.
"Lance," Matt said.
"Take Joey home and get him cleaned up and gets him to eat something," Matt asked.
"But I don't want to leave you," Joey protested.
"I'm not going anywhere," Matt wearily said.
Joey slowly walked into CCU to find Matt's room filled with doctors and nurses. Tom was outside the room watching. "What's going on?" Joe asked.
"Matt's temperature us up. Doctor says he is fighting an infection," Tom said.
"That's not good. Is it?" Joey asked.
"He was doing so well," Tom said with a sigh.
Joey returned to the family waiting room as Chris and JC entered.
"How's Matt?" Chris asked.
Lance and Justin came over to the group.
"He's not doing too good. He has a high temperature, doctor says he is fighting an infection," Joey said solemnly.
"Can you fill us in on what's happened?" JC asked.
Looking around the room Joey realized they had the room to themselves. Indicating nearby chairs, they all sit down.
"I'll tell everything I know. . . . . .
Chris listened to Joey's story. Finally looking up from his folded hands he sniffed and wiped a tear from his cheek. "How long before we know anything?" Chris asked.
"There's no way to know. They are working on getting his fever down now," Joey said.
"Guys," JC said. "We are going to have to contact management and let them know where we are and try to work out something with our schedule."
Joey sat back in his seat running his fingers through his hair. With a heavy sigh Joey said, "There is going to be a problem. I'm not leaving Matt until he gets better."
"Why?" Chris asked.
"Because I need to be here."
"I don't understand. Why do you need to be here?" JC asked.
"Because Matt has made me his turstee."
"What?" Chris almost shouted.
"Matt has given me power of attorney and named me as his trustee until he is able to function on his own."
"Why the hell would he do that? JC asked. "He has a family that could take care of him."
Joey sighed, knowing the time had come. "Guys, Matt has a good reason for making me his turstee. Matt named me trustee because he knows how much I love him."
"You what?" Chris asked a little stunned.
"I love him. Matt is my boyfriend. And yes, I'm gay," Joey calmly said.
"Damn it, Joey! You know what you just did?" JC shouted.
"I just told you I love Matt and that I'm gay."
"No! You may have just put an end to Nsync. If this ever gets out we are dead," JC said as he paced the floor.
"It's not going to get out. Unless we want to let it out." Joey said.
JC looked at Lance and Justin, "You two knew about this, didn't you?"
"Yes," Lance and Justin said together.
"Shit, shit, shit," JC said as he walked around the room.
Justin got out of his seat and went to JC. Grabbing him by the shoulders. "What the hell's the matter? Why are you acting so pissed off?"
"Why am I pissed off? Well for one, three of my best friends have been plotting behind my back. Or was Milwaukee not what it seemed? I think you guys did a good job of making me think taking Matt along with us was my idea. Talk about being used.. . . . And someone I consider one of my best friends, can't manage to tell me he is gay."
"I just didn't know how to tell you," Joey said softly.
"Well you didn't have too much of a problem just now!" Josh said on the verge of tears.
"And my newest friend, almost gets himself killed in a car accident. Who just happens to be the boyfriend of another one of my friends," Josh said as he turned away and looked out the window.
Joey came up behind JC. "Josh, I'm sorry I didn't tell you and Chris about Matt and me earlier," Joey softly said. "And I can understand how you are feeling. I just hope in time you can understand the feelings I have for Matt and accept the fact he will be a part of my life."
JC let out a large sigh. Turning to Joey, "I'm sorry for the way I just acted. I'm not really piss at you. I think I'm just hurt that I'm the last to find out about you two."
"You're not the last to find out," Joey said. "I still haven't told my family."
"Let me get this right," Chris said. "All the times you disappeared on us you were coming to see Matt?"
"Yeah," Joey confirmed. "How do you feel about it?"
"I have no problem with it," Chris said. "In fact when I see Matt I want to thank him. After each of your mystery visits you are so much easer to live with."
Joey laughed for the first time since this conversation began. "Matt does put me in a good mood."
"Well let's pray that Matt sticks around for a long time," JC said. "You are a lot easier to live with when Matt is in your life."
"It sounds like you are all right with this?" Joey inquired.
"Of course I'm ok with it. Joe, you are my best friend and brother. And I hope you know I love you and that will never change."
"Thanks, Josh. I love you too, man," Joey said as he pulled Josh into a hug.
Jess and her mom showed up mid-afternoon. Spotting the guys sitting in the corner Jess was all smiles as she gave each a kiss and hug. "How is Uncle Matt this morning?" she asked Joey.
"Not too good. He's running a high fever," Joey answered.
`Is Grandpa with him?"
The door to the CCU opened. Tom and the doctor came over to the group.
"How is he?" Joey inquired.
"The fever has broke," the doctor answered.
"Can we see him?" Joey asked.
"Only if you make your visits brief," the doctor said. Turning to Tom, "And you my friend go get some rest."
"You heard the doctor, Dad ," Becky said. "Let's go see Matt for a bit, then I'm taking you home to get some rest." Turning to Jess, Becky asked, "You want to stay for a while?"
Nodding, Jess asked, "Can I?"
"We'll keep an eye on her," Joey offered.
"Well if she becomes too much of a pest you know where to drop her off," Becky said. "We'll be back this evening." Tom and Becky went to visit Matt.
"Joey, we need to make some phone calls," JC said.
Joey nodded, "Josh, will you go with me back to the Inn to make the calls?"
"What calls?" Jess asked.
"I need to let our management know where we are at and what's going on between me and Matt," Joey said.
"Ah, that you are friends?" Jess nervously asked while stealing glances at Chris and JC.
Smiling, Joey said. "Jess, they all know about Matt and me."
Joey and JC went in to see Matt next. Joey reached out and brushed the hair out of Matt's face. Matt slowly opened his eyes and smiled. "Hi," Matt managed to weakly say.
"Hi," Joey said with a smile. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired," Matt answered. Turning his head toward movement on the other side of his bed Matt smiled. "Josh!"
"Hi, buddy. How are you doing?"
"I've been better." Matt said weakly.
"Why don't you get some rest. We're all going to be sticking around for a while," JC said.
"K," Matt said softly. Turning back to Joey, "Come back later."
"I will," Joey said as he leaned in and softly kissed Matt on the lips.
Matt's eyes shot wide open at the kiss, turning his head to Josh who was grinning at him.
Joey leaned into Matt's ear and whispered, "Relax, I've told them about us."
"You know?" Matt asked Josh.
"Yeah, the lunkhead finally told us," JC said. "Now you get some rest so you can get out of here. Something tells me Joey is not going to leave you until your are alright again."
"K," Matt said softly. "Josh, thanks."
Matt slept the rest of the day and through the night. Each of the guys took turns sitting with Matt. Joey arrived around midnight to relieve Matt's dad. "Is he still sleeping?" Joey asked.
"Yes. He only woke up when they came to change his bandages."
"How did that go?"
"Not well at all. He screamed when they removed the bandages. I think he fell asleep from exhaustion." Tom sighed.
"Damn, I hate to see him have to go through this," Joey said.
"Well you missed that one. But you can look forward to your own little adventure. The doctors want to get Matt up and walking a little in the morning," Tom said as he gave Joey a pat on the back as he left.
JC arrived in the family waiting room to find Joey standing at the window watching the falling snow. Walking up to Joey, placing a arm around his shoulder, JC asked, "How's it going?"
Joey looked at JC not saying a word.
"Joe, what happened?" JC asked with concern.
"Josh, I don't know if I can do this," Joey said on the verge of tears.
JC pulled his friend into a tight embrace. "What happened?" he asked softly.
"They got Matt up and had him take a few steps."
"That's good isn't it?" JC asked.
Shaking his head Joey said, "No. As soon as they had him sitting up you could see he was in pain. And by the time they had him on his feet he was screaming bloody murder."
"Didn't they give him anything to help control the pain?"
"Yeah, a pillow. Matt was to hold it against his incisions for support."
"And Matt couldn't do it?"
"Not with two broken arms. When he tries to put pressure on the pillow he also puts pressure on his broken arms causing more pain. . . . After Matt took a swing at one of the nurses, I steeped in and put a stop to it. Josh, after getting him back into bed he cried for almost an hour. I really don't know if I can go through that again."
"Joe, I understand how hard it was to watch Matt go through that today. But I also know you can get through it again and do you know why?" Josh asked.
"Because I love him," Joey answered.
"That's right. Your love for Matt and his for you will help you both get through all the pain that is to come," Josh said. "Your love will chip away at the pain and before you know it only your love will be left."
"Man, that is deep," Joey said with a chuckle. "Have you been reading fortune cookies again?"
"Hey! Where do you think I get my best ideas for songs?"
The afternoon shift arrived. "How is he?" Beth asked Joey.
"He's doing better. They're moving Matt out of CCU now."
"Grandpa said Uncle Matt was going to take a short walk this morning. How did it go?" Jess asked.
"Not well at all," Joey answered. "He was in a lot of pain."
"What kind of mood is he in now?" Lance asked.
"As long as you are not a doctor or nurse he seems to be in a good mood."
"What's with the doctors or nurses?" Beth asked.
"They hurt him when they got him up to walk," Joey said.
"I've never heard such language come from someone with their mouth wired shut," JC laughed. "The names he was calling them came out quite clear."
As they were talking Jess noticed someone new come into the waiting room. "Jeff!" Jess shouted as she ran into the arms of the new arrival.
"Hey, short stuff," Jeff said as he swung Jess around. "Shit, Jess you've grown up."
Lance leaned into Joey and softly asked, "Do you know who that is?"
"From his tan I'd say it is Jeff Morton. Matt's best friend from Hawaii," Joey answered.
Beth was the next to greet Jeff. "Jeff, it's so good to see you."
"How is Matt doing?" Jeff asked.
"He's hanging in there," Beth said. Turning to the guys. "Jeff, I want you to meet some people . . . . . Jeff, this is Joey Fatone and Lance Bass, two of Matt's close friends."
"Ah, the Nsync connection. Where is the rest of your group?" Jeff asked with a grin.
"They're at the Inn," Joey said. "We're taking shifts helping with Matt."
Looking Joey in the eye., Jeff said with a mischievous smile, "So. . . You're the one who stole Matt's heart."
Joey raised a questioning eyebrow. "Has Matt told you about us?" Joey asked.
"Has Matt told you about his first kiss?" Jeff countered.
Joey grinned, "It seems we have a problem."
"Yeah," Jeff answered with a grin. "The guy we both love can't keep secrets."
Everyone erupted in laughter as Jeff and Joey embraced, instantly liking one another.
"Is there any chance I could see Matt?" Jeff asked Joe.
"Sure. I'll take you to him. They should have him settled in his room by now," Joey said as he escorted Jeff to Matt's room.
As they neared Matt's new room, a nurse came out. "How was the move?" Joey asked.
Shaking her head the nurse said, "Not quite as bad as this morning."
"Is he still upset?"
"No, he calmed down as soon as he realized
he didn't have to do anything for the move. I hope you have better
luck getting him to do his exercises. If he ever wants to get
out of here," the nurse said.
"I'll see to it," Joe said.
As they went into Matt's room, they found him dozing. Joey leaned in and softly said, "Matt."
Matt instantly smiled at Joe's voice. Opening his eyes Matt said, "Hi."
Jeff was a little stunned at Matt's appearance. When Beth had called him in Hawaii, she had told him how badly Matt was injured but it didn't prepare him for what he saw on the bed.
Joey looked across the bed at Jeff and said, "You have a visitor."
Matt turned his head and shouted, "Jeff!"
"Hey, buddy," Jeff said not sure how to greet his friend. "Shit, Matt. You look like you've been run over by a truck."
Matt started to laugh but quickly grimaced in pain. "Don't make me laugh. It hurts too much."
"Sorry," Jeff said as he leaned in close to Matt. "Since I can't give you a hug, maybe this will do," Jeff said as he leaned in and gave Matt a kiss on the lips.
Looking up at Jeff, Matt smiled. "I have been waiting five years for you to kiss me and all it took was a car accident. You straight boys are sure strange."
Jeff smiled, "There was no way for me to hug you." Looking at Joey, Jeff warned, "If anyone ever says that I kissed you I will deny it."
"Did Sue and Kammy come with you?" Matt asked with a chuckle.
"No, not this time," Jeff said.
"Well, did you bring pictures?" Matt asked.
"Sure did," Jeff said as he pulled a small photo album.
Seeing the Matt was in good hands, Joey bent close. "I'm going to head back to the Inn. I'll see you tonight." Leaning in Joe gave Matt a parting kiss. "I love you," Joe said softly.
"Love you too," Matt said.
"Jeff, do you have a place to stay?" Joey asked.
"Not yet. I came from the airport."
"Come around to the Inn," Joey suggested. "There is plenty of room at the apartment. And you can meet the rest of the guys."
"K, I'll be by later."
Joey wandered into the apartment finding Chris doing the lunch dishes.
"Hi, Joey. How's Matt doing?" Chris asked.
"A lot better," Joey said wearily. "What are the others doing?"
"Justin is in the pool, and JC is talking to Johnny again."
"It's not safe for Justin to be in the pool this time of the day," Joey pointed out.
"Will locked the pool area and posted a sign telling everyone that the pool is closed for maintenance."
Going into the living room, Joey found JC staring off into space. "What's up?" Joey asked as he sat down next to JC.
"They're putting the pressure on us to get back to work," Josh said with a sigh.
"I feel bad about bringing you all into my problems," Joey said.
Justin came in from the pool locking the door behind him. "Hey, Joe. How's Matt doing today?"
Smiling slightly, Joey replied, "He's doing better. His best friend from Hawaii flew in to see him. You'll meet him later, he will be staying here with us. His name is Jeff Morton, and you will know him by his great tan."
"Ah, does he know about Matt and you?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, it seems Matt had told Jeff about me."
"Did you know about Jeff?" JC asked.
Nodding Joey said, "Jeff was Matt's first kiss. They had been best buds since sixth grade and one night Matt kissed Jeff."
"So Jeff is gay too?" Justin asked.
"No. Straight as they come. He is married and has a little girl. Kammy I believe her name is. And Matt is her godfather."
Joey walked onto the CCU floor as he passed the nurses' station the nurse said, "Good evening, Mr. Fatone."
"Good evening. How is he doing?"
"A lot better," the nurse said with a smile. "He's been good all day."
Joey was met in the hall by Tom. "He's been waiting for you, son."
"Is there something I should know?" Joey inquired.
"Nooo, nothing special," Tom said with a smile. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Sure. Goodnight," Joey said as an uneasy feeling overcame him.
Joey entered Matt's room to find Matt not in his bed but sitting in a chair.
"Hi," Matt said looking up into Joe's surprised face.
"Look at you. How?"
"My idea. My speed," Matt said.
"And all the stuff hooked up to you?"
"I asked the doctor to remove all the lines," Matt said with a deep sigh.
"What about your medication?"
"It was making my head fuzzy. I can control the pain better without it."
Joey knelt next to Matt, "I'm so proud of you. This was a big step." Spotting the food tray next to Matt's chair, "I see you've had your supper."
"Yeah, my liquid diet. It's a bitch when you can't chew," Matt chuckled.
Joey reached up and brushed the hair from Matt's face.
"Joe, will you help me do something?"
"Sure, what do you want to do?"
"I stink. Will you give me a shower?" Matt asked.
"If you are sure you are up to it,"
Joey helped Matt out of the chair and slowly walked him to the bathroom. "What about your casts?" Joe asked as he removed Matt's gown.
Pointing to a small roll of plastic wrap Marc said, "We need to wrap them to keep them dry."
"You are prepared for this."
Nodding Matt said, "Doctor said I could take a shower. Just waiting for you. . . . . Joe, you need to come in with me and wash me."
Joey quickly undressed and started the shower, adjusting the temperature. Helping Matt into the shower. "What about your bandages?"
"They will have to be removed," Matt said, moving into the spray soaking the bandages. Turning back to Joey, Matt asked, "Will you remove them?"
"Are you sure?"
Nodding, "Just go slow."
Joey slowly pealed back the bandage revealing Matt's incision.
"Not too pretty, is it?" Matt asked.
"It's not as bad as I thought it would be. They even managed to match up your freckles."
"Good, I don't think I could live with mismatched freckles."
Joey started to wash Matt, gently washing Matt from head to toe. Joey took extra time washing Matt's hair. Joey knew Matt was enjoying having his hair washed from the low moans coming from him.
After rinsing the shampoo from his hair, Matt leaned back against Joey's chest and enjoyed the feeling of the warm water flowing over his body. Joey gently wrapped his arms around Matt holding him.
"Joe," Matt said softly.
"Will you do something else for me?"
"Will you nibble on my ear?"
Joey smiled and leaned in and softly chewed on Matt's ear. Within a minute, Joey felt Matt shutter and goose bumps form all over Matt. "You all right?" Joey asked.
Matt nodded. "Perfect, I just needed to know if it still worked."
`What worked?" Joey asked.
Following Matt's downward gaze, Joey spotted Matt's erection and began to laugh. "Well we know that still works."
Turning off the water Joey helped Matt out of the shower and dried him off. As Matt leaned against the wall Joey quickly dried off and put his pants and shirt back on. After helping Matt back into his bed, Joey opened the door to Matt's room. In less than a minute, a nurse arrived to put fresh bandages on Matt's wounds. Only the wound on Matt's back was bandaged. The incision on Matt's chest looked so good the nurse decided not to put the bandages back on. "Will you be needing anything for pain or to help you sleep?" the nurse asked.
"No thank you. I'm fine," Matt said with a smile.
As the nurse left, she closed the door.
"You ready for some sleep," Joe asked.
Matt nodded. "Will you lay with me?"
"Sure," Joey said as he climbed in next to Matt. . . . "Now get some rest."
"K, love you, Joe," Matt said sleepily.
"I love you too, Matt," Joey softly replied.
The night nurse quietly went in to check on Matt. Smiling at the sight of Matt snuggled up to Joey's chest, both sleeping soundly. After checking Matt's vitals, the nurse pulled up the rail by Joey and left the room. The nurse quickly jotted down a note; 'Patient resting well. Do not disturb until breakfast."
Joey returned to the Inn in a great mood. Jeff and Justin had shown up to sit with Matt. Walking into the living room, Joey stopped short when he saw his brother Steve sitting on the couch with JC and Lance.
"Steve. What are you doing here?" Joey asked.
Getting out of his seat Steve said, "I'm here to find out what the hell is going on with you."
"Wha, what do you mean?" Joey stammered.
"Joey, management is royally pissed that you all have canceled so many appearances. And it turns out for some reason they are blaming you for the whole thing."
Joey looked at JC and Lance, "Guys, can I have a few minutes with Steve?"
The guys nodded and quietly left the room. Joey indicated for Steve to have a seat.
"You've heard that Matt was in a bad car accident," Joey said with a sigh.
"Yeah, how's he doing?"
"He is doing better. It was shaky there for a while, but he's going to make it."
"What's going on, Joe?" Steve pleaded.
"Nsync won't be doing any appearances until I'm sure Matt is on the road to recovery."
"I don't understand. What does Matt have to do with Nsync?"
"Matt doesn't have anything to do with Nsync. But he does have something to do with me. I will not leave Matt. Steve, Matt is my boyfriend. . . . I love Matt very much. . . . And your brother is gay."
Steve slumped back into his seat looking at Joe in astonishment.
"Matt is your boyfriend?" Steve quizzed.
"Yeah, he's my boyfriend. . . . Steve, what are you thinking?"
"Well, you lay on me that you are gay. . . I can live with that. . . .Then you tell me that you are in love with Matt and he is your boyfriend. . . Were you two together in St. Louis?"
"Yeah, we were," Joey confessed.
"Joe, I like Matt a lot. He is a wonderful guy. My only question is why has it taken so long to tell me?" Steve asked.
"I was afraid. I didn't expect you to take the news so well."
"Joe, I think you need to tell mom and dad."
"Yeah, you're right. Do you think they are both home?" Joey asked.
Matt was sitting up in bed watching TV when Steve and Joey came strolling into his room.
"Steve!" Matt said with joy at seeing his new friend.
"Hey, Matt, I hear you are doing better."
Joey leaned in and said, "Hi." Then gave Matt a kiss.
Matt's eyes shot wide open with surprised and panic.
Steve started to laugh. "I think it is going to take some time to get use to seeing you two kiss."
"He knows?" Matt asked Joey.
Nodding, Joey said, "The whole family knows."
"Joe, you did it. I'm so happy. . . . I take it, it went better than you thought?"
"Yes, it was a little rough at first. But after they calmed down and listened to what I had to say, they came around. They're going to come up and spend Christmas week with us. They can't wait to meet you."
Matt turned to Steve and asked, "You are all right with this?"
"Sure. But you both know this puts a lot more pressure on me," Steve said. "Now it is up to me to carry on the Fatone name."
A few days before Christmas, the guys headed back home to spend Christmas with their families. Joey's parents arrived the day before Christmas and Matt was a instant hit. Joey's mom prepared a big Christmas meal and brought it in to the hospital. Everyone on Matt's floor ate well that day.
Joey and Matt saw the New Year in together. With only the light of the TV, Joey held Matt as the slowly danced to Auld Lang Syne.
Mom and Pop Fatone headed home right after the first of the year. Justin and Lance reappeared about the same time. Matt continued to improve daily.
One night after Matt had sucked his supper through a straw, Matt, Joey, Lance and Justin were watching M-TV when the story broke, linking Justin to Matt as his gay lover. There were photos of Justin leaving the hospital. Justin was devastated at the report. Calls from their management quickly came in. Options were discussed and a news conference was set for the next morning.
Early the next day Joey arrived alone. He looked like hell; Matt could see he had been crying. Leaning in close, he kissed Matt softly then whispered, "Matt, I love you so much."
"I love you too," Matt managed to say .
"Matt, will you marry me?" Joe asked softly.
With tears running down his cheeks Matt asked, "How can we? What about your career?"
"Right now you are the most important thing in my life. Will you marry me?" Joey asked again.
With tears flowing Matt nodded and said, "Yes, my love. I will marry you."
Taking a chain from around his neck Joe held it up so Matt could see a gold ring hanging on it. Placing the chain around Matt's neck he leaned down and softly kissed Matt. "This is until you get out of the casts. Then I will properly place the ring on your finger."
Joey stayed with Matt for the next hour. Not much was said; he would just caress Matt's cheek or run his fingers through his hair. Contact in any way was enough. Lance and Justin stopped by to get Joey for the news conference.
Matt watched the conference on his TV, the plan was that Justin was going to make a statement denying any connection to Matt other than just friends.
But instead of Justin approaching the microphones, Joey stepped up.
"Ladies and gentlemen. I have a statement I want to read to you. And afterward I will take your questions."
Looking out over the crowd of reporters and TV cameras, Joey stated, "Over the last few days, unfounded rumors have arisen linking Justin Timberlake and Mathew Morgan as lovers. This is not true. Justin and Matt are just good friends and nothing more."
There were murmurs of disbelief from the crowed.
Clearing his throat, he continued, "And I am happy to announce my engagement to Matt Morgan. This morning I asked Matt to marry me and he has accepted."
The stunned faces of Justin and Lance were clearly seen behind Joey. It was clear they had no idea that Joe was going to make that kind of announcement.
Joey was amazing; he calmly took the questions being shouted at him and answered each truthfully. If the question became too personal, he just said that the question was personal and none of their business.
Joey returned to Matt's room with Justin and Lance in tow.
Leaning in Joey asked, "Did you see?"
"Joey, what have you done?"
"I told the truth. Nsync will survive this. And we will survive this. You know why?" Joey asked.
Matt smiled and nodded. "Because our love is so strong it will see us through this."
"Right!" Joey said with a big grin. "Matt Morgan, I love you."
"Joey, love. Shut up and kiss me."