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Lance hung up the phone, the man seated on his living room couch, alone and feeling exhausted.
That had been the last of them.
Adam had notified everyone rather quickly, Lance sitting through several phone calls of threatening anger and worrisome truths this morning.
His ultimatum had sunken into all their souls.
And they'd all agreed to abide by it, although several had voiced threatening exchanges of anger and reluctant fear.
The man set the phone down on the end table, slowing rising up from his seat, moaning as he felt the dull pain echoing through his body.
Adam had been vicious and ruthless in his anger last night, in his taking that anger out on Lance's body.
After a couple of hours the man had left, frustrated at Lance's stillness and emotionless attitude.
Lance had said hardly a word, the man taking him again and again, Lance fighting against the pain, his inner screams near their end, but silent within his soul.
He wouldn't give the man the satisfaction of hearing him cry or sob.
And in the end Adam had left, one last fist hitting Lance in the face again as a parting gesture, the man dressing and leaving Lance laying on his bedroom's floor.
Lance knew he couldn't justify it as rape, the man having done the same thing to Lance willingly before, often over the last few years.
Lance had given in to it all, the man on the edge of emotion every time.
Whether it was with Adam or with his other domineering friends.
Lance had indeed become a passive, submissive slave to all of them.
It had taken a long time for Lance to realize the depth of his submissiveness.
Seeing Justin that night in the same position had clarified that truth in his soul.
Lance walked over to his balcony's sliding doors, the man passing the mirror on the wall, stopping and staring at himself.
He then moved, that vision before him not to his liking, the man walking out onto the balcony, the morning's light well above the horizon.
Lance had crawled into bed after Adam had left, sleeping fitfully all night until nine that morning, when the phone calls had started.
He stared out into the late morning sunshine, a single tear running down one cheek.
You've taken me for the last time, Adam.
You and your friends have no hold on me now.
I'll never let you do that again.
The next time you come at me like that I'll be the one with the fists.
I hate you for what you just did to me.
For what you've made me feel like for these last few years.
But. . .but I had to do it.
I couldn't let you tell Justin the truth of what I. . .of what I was.
I had to give into your bravado one last time.
But that life is behind me now.
You were the last.
Lance stared out into the sunshine.
Its warmth didn't penetrate Lance's cold, lonely soul.
What am I trying to convince myself of?
How can I ever have a chance with him?
Not if Justin ever finds out about my past.
About how much of a cowardly man I really am.
He could never love a man like me.
He's. . .he's met that other guy now.
He seems so. . .so happy.
His happiness floods my soul.
And it rips it apart.
Everyone I've wanted to love me hasn't.
When can I find that love?
Lance heard someone hitting his front door buzzer, then knocking.
The man sighed, walking back into his condo, glancing at the mirror again, then walking across his living room.
He leaned against the door, looking out through the keyhole.
He sighed, seeing a familiar face staring back at him.
Lance leaned his head against the door in silence, a louder knock hitting the door.
"You there, Lance? Let me in, Lancy. I hear you." a loud voice said, Lance sighing.
Lance unlocked the door, taking a deep breath, opening it.
Two brown eyes stared at him, the man's face registered in shock.
"My God, Lance! What the hell's happened to you??!!" Joey said, Lance releasing his hold on the door, walking back to his living room couch, Joey walking into the condo, shutting the door behind him.
Lance sat down on the couch, the man lowering his head.
Joey stared at his friend, his face showing total concern, the man's eyes moving over Lance's bruised, lowered face.
"Who the hell did that to you, Lance? I'll rip him a new one!" Joey said, Lance looking up towards his friend, seen the anger and protective concern on his face.
"I. . .I did it to myself, Joey. I took on the pain, justly so."
Joey looked concerned, the man moving to his friend, seeing the tears showing in Lance's green eyes.
"What. . .what do you mean, Lancy? Who did this to you? You look like you've been beaten!" Joey said, his arm going around his friend, Lance gasping, Joey's eyes moving over Lance's body, the man releasing his hold on his friend.
"You need to see a doctor, Lance. I'm taking you to the hospital!"
Lance's arm grasped Joey's.
"No, Joe. I. . .I can't let you do that. I'll. . .I'll be alright. I just met someone who was a little too wild. We went. . .we went a little too far."
Joey stared at Lance, seeing the emotion on his bruised face.
Joey looked over his face, seeing his left eye swollen with bruising, his cheeks showing bruises and swelling as well.
His lips looked bruised, Joey thinking there was more involved here than a rough sexual encounter.
"This is more than too far, Lance. That's downright gay bashing!"
Lance looked at Joey, the man beginning to break down.
"No. . .it. . .it wasn't that, Joe. We were both consensual. It. . .it just got out of hand." Lance said, Joey now tenderly putting his arm around his friend.
"Stand up, Lance. I'll guide you to the bathroom. You need to shower and get cleaned. I can smell the sex off you. Who was it?" Joey said, Lance hearing the protective authority in his friend's voice.
"It was just a guy I met. . .a one night stand. It's. . .it's over." Lance softly said, Joey gently guiding Lance to his feet, gingerly guiding him down the hallway, guiding him into his bedroom, then into its bathroom.
Lance stood in silence in front of the vanity, not looking in the mirror.
Joey stood behind him, his arms folding.
"Do you need help, Lance?"
"No, no Joe, I'll be alright."
"Take your shirt off, Lance." Joey said, Lance seeing the man wasn't moving.
"No, please, Joe! I. . .I can't."
Joey's face softened, his hand gently going to Lance's waist.
"It's alright, Lancy. I won't overreact."
Lance looked at his friend, Joey's eyes filled with tenderness and compassion.
Lance remained still, Joey gently removing Lance's sweatshirt, the man's smooth torso coming into view.
Joey's eyes widened, taking in the bruises on Lance's ribcage and on his midsection.
Joey smiled at his friend, his eyes focused on not spooking Lance, on keeping him calm.
"Pants next, bud." Joey said, Lance's hands going to his sweatpants, pushing them down, Joey smiling at him, taking the pants from him and setting them on top of the clothes hamper.
"I'll let you do the briefs, Lancy. And I'll leave you to shower. You going to be okay, alone?"
"Yeah, Joey. Thanks." Lance said, seeing the caring love in his friend's face.
Joey nodded, the man quietly walking out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Joey stared at the door, his hands balling into fists.
I'll destroy whoever did that to you, Lance.
How could anyone be so ruthless?
That's more than just wild sex, that a beating he gave you.
Or did he do more?
If he. . .if you were. . .I'll kill him!!
Joey heard the shower starting, the man walking over to Lance's unmade bed, looking around it.
He smelled the scent of sex, and anger.
He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, the man's face burning with concern.
He punched in some numbers, waiting.
"Justin? It's Joey. Get over here to Lance's. Now! Yes, I said now! Lance is hurt!"
Joey listened to his friend, the man talking into the phone, his eyes looking towards the bathroom door.
"I'll be waiting. Thanks."
Joey hung up the phone, his eyes scanning over the bed again.
He caught a glimpse of something, his hand reaching beside a pillow, picking it up.
He stared at a cell phone in his hand, not recognizing it.
He opened it, staring at the picture showing on it.
Joey's eyes darkened, staring at the picture.
He focused on it, his fingers pushing buttons, looking at the phone's contents.
His eyes darkened more, images flying past his eyes.
He scrolled through the phone's address book, names registering in his mind.
He shut the phone, putting it in his jacket pocket, Joey removing the jacket, looking at the bathroom door.
He walked over to it, hearing the shower had shut off.
"You get dressed, Lancy. I'll make us some tea." Joey said, a soft voice replying back to him.
"Thanks. . .thanks, Joe."
Joey's eyes teared up, the man hearing the softness and emotion of Lance's quiet voice.
"No prob, Lancy. Meet you in the kitchen."
Joey stared at the door, rubbing his jacket pocket.
His eyes focused, the man's face showing a rising anger.
Joey answered the door on the first buzz, his brown eyes meeting Justin's blue.
"Where is he, Joe? Is he okay?" Justin said, his face showing concern.
"He's getting dressed. He'll be out in a few minutes. You
need to know what's happened." Joey said, Justin nodding.
Joey closed the condo door, Justin following him into the kitchen.
Justin sat down at the table, looking around, Joey placing a teapot on the table, grabbing three cups off the counter.
He sat down with Justin, pouring both of them a cup of tea.
"What happened, Joe? You said Lance's hurt? What's he hurt about?"
"It's a physical hurt, Justin. And emotional as well. You need to focus. He'll be out shortly and you need to know what's happened. I want you calm and focused." Joey said with authority, Justin nodding, seeing the concern and hidden anger in Joey's calm face.
"Alright, Joe. Tell me."
Joey stared at his friend.
"I don't know the total truth of it, but to me, it looks like someone beat the crap out of Lance."
Justin looked stunned, his face going white.
"He's that hurt? We need to get him a doctor! I'm going to see him!" Justin said, beginning to get up, Joey's hand pulling him back down.
"I already offered that, Justin. Lance said no. He's terrified of something, or someone. Whoever did this to him was very forceful. Lance said it was just a one night stand that got a little too rough. I'm not buying that."
"You mean. . .Lance was beaten by a sex partner?"
"I'm not sure, Justin. But I think sex was involved, but I'm
not sure how consensual it was. Lance said it was."
Justin's eyes widened, his face showing deeper concern.
"You mean. . .you think. . .you think Lance may have been raped?"
"I didn't say that, Justin. But I'm thinking it wasn't
totally consensual. We need to find that out from Lance."
Justin nodded, Joey rubbing his shoulder, seeing the emotional state Justin was getting into.
"Calm and focused, Jus. We need to be calm and help him. He's
our friend and we need to protect him."
"I know, Joe. Lance means the world to me. Whoever did this is going to pay. Big time. No one hurts our friend."
Joey nodded, the man hearing someone outside the kitchen.
"He's coming, Jus. Remember, keep calm. Don't be too shocked,
or show it."
Justin nodded, the man taking a deep breath.
The door of the kitchen opened, Justin's blue eyes meeting two tired, painful green eyes, those green eyes widening.
"Jus? What. . .what are you doing here?" Lance said, Justin staring at his friend, his face showing all his emotions.
"Oh, Lance! Oh God, your face!" Justin said, on his feet in a moment, Joey rising as well, the man's hand going onto Justin's arm, stopping him from going forward to Lance.
Lance backed up a bit, Justin staring at his friend.
"I have your tea ready, Lancy." Joey said, smiling at his friend.
"Thank.. .thanks, Joe." Lance said, Joe smiling and pointing to a chair at Lance.
Lance quietly walked over to the table, Justin following his every move, the man sitting down slowly, Justin seeing a soft grimace cross his face.
"You're hurt, Lance. Are you. . .are you sure you don't want to go to Emergency?" Justin said, sitting beside his friend, Lance's green eyes meeting his blue.
"I'm. . .I'll be alright, Jus. You. . .you shouldn't have made the trip across town." Lance said, lowering his eyes, Justin's hand gently going to Lance's shoulder.
"What happened, Lance? Who. . .who did this to you? Joey and I'll make sure they never touch you again."
Lance's head raised, Justin staring into his green eyes, seeing the emotion hidden behind those loving eyes.
Lance sighed, Joey quietly staring at him.
"He won't ever touch me again, Justin. I've seen to that. And he won't. . ." Lance stopped, Justin staring at him.
"He won't what, Lance?" Joey said, staring at him.
Lance stared at his friend, his green eyes going back to Justin's blue.
"He won't hurt either of us again, Jus."
Justin stared at Lance with surprise, their eyes locked on each other, Joey staring at both of them now.
Justin stared at Lance, a sudden realization flooding his soul.
"Lance, he didn't. . .he couldn't have. . .?"
Lance lowered his eyes again.
"I told you I'd handle him, Justin. That I'd handle them all. I've found a way. He wasn't too happy about it, but it's over. You're safe, and I will be too. We all will."
Justin's eyes showed tears, his hand rubbing Lance's shoulder.
"Oh, Lance. What. . .what have you done?"
"You're free, Justin. Free to find happiness and love, perhaps with Sheridan." Lance said, his eyes lowering again.
Justin stared at his friend, the truth settling into his soul, the truth of what Lance may have done.
"Lance, did you. . .did they. . .?"
"I bargained against humiliation with humiliation thrown back. Mirrored images can sometimes reach the most domineering soul. It's over, Justin."
Justin's eyes lowered, his mind filling with a sudden worry, worry for his friend's hurting soul.
"What are the two of you talking about?"
Both men raised their eyes, two brown pools staring at both of them.
"Why do I feel like I'm walking blind here?" Joey said, Justin and Lance averting his gaze.
"Okay, I guess I'll remain in the dark for a while longer. Right now we need to face life." Joey said, the man calmly staring at both of his friends.
Lance softly sighed, his green eyes looking at Joey.
"Let it go, Joe. I'm going to be okay. We all will be okay."
Joey stared at his friend.
"I'll be okay, Lance. I'll be okay when I meet him face to face. When I protect those I love with the truth." Joey said, his hand going into the left pocket of his jacket, which hung on the back of his chair, the man pulling out a cell phone, setting it down on the kitchen table.
"Call him, Justin."
Justin looked confused, staring at the phone.
"Call who, Joe?" he said, Joey staring at him, then his eyes focusing on Lance.
"Call the owner of this phone, Jus. He fortunately left it in your bed, Lance."
Lance froze, staring at the phone, having not seen it before.
Joey's calm eyes stared at Lance, Lance's green pools seeing a reflective, protected light of love staring back at him.
Joey's brown pools focused on Justin again.
"Call Adam Levine, Justin. Get him over here so I can break his face."
Reverend Lewis dropped the book from his fingers, the man softly cursing under his breath.
He felt around the bed's blankets, his fingers finding the cover's edges.
The man tried grasping them, a soft gasp issuing from his mouth, his hand inadvertently pushing the book off the bed, the book landing on the floor.
"Saints preserve me! God give me the strength to not scream in madness!" he grumbled, the man hearing a soft laugh somewhere before him.
"Ever the giving man of ardent wonder, of lewd merriment, my dear old friend."
The minister froze, the voice edged with emotion, and soft giving love.
"Vi. . .Vivacious? Vivian. . .is it. . .is that really you?" the man said, his bandaged eyes covering the tears welling up in their damaged pools.
He heard the woman walking forward, a soft weight setting down on his bed, two hands gently guiding the book back into his hands.
The minister felt the warmth of their giving love, a soft wetness touching his cheek, the man feeling the love flowing around him from the kiss, the reverend sitting back against the pillows.
"This bible can give you no solace, Lewis. When you cannot see its redeeming words." Vivian said, the woman seeing his face take on a soft sorrowfulness.
"I. . .I did not want you to see me. . .not here. . .not like this."
"Oh, Lewd. Our ever giving, ever kind and loving Lewis. I
never. . .they never wanted this. . .not this. . ."
The minister's hand raised, touching her shoulder, the woman staring at him with tear-filled eyes, the man hearing the emotion in her soft voice.
"How did you find me, Viv? I had asked him not to divulge to any of you my condition or whereabouts. Your viewing my accidental incapacitation sorrows my heart."
"This was no accident, Lewis. This was premeditated evil!
That man meant to kill you."
"By God's grace I survived, Vivacious. I have met my tormentor and God has doled out my penitence. I must abide by the path I now walk." the man said, softly moaning and laying back farther into the pillows.
"God had no say in this, Lewd. This was evil, wanton
"I faced that evil, Vivian. And now I face God's path."
The woman lowered her head, wiping her eyes.
"I talk to him in the darkness. Would it be unusual if he talked back? I have heard voices, soft voices. Words of hope and love. The darkness holds a greater comfort for me now." the man softly said, Vivian's hand squeezing his.
"We will treat you with the best doctors, Lewis! Grayson has
hired the best."
The man softly smiled.
"Miracles happen only in stories, bright sunshine of my past. I have accepted the truth of my ailments. I will live as God's sees fit. The darkness of my life gives me solace."
Vivian lowered her head, the man's fingers rubbing her shoulder.
"I came here to give you comfort, old friend. Your comforting words enter my emotional heart."
Lewis softly smiled, the woman staring at his bandaged eyes.
"I'm sorry, Lewis. I'm sorry that you paid so high a price for them."
"I blame neither of them, nor you, old friend of our searching youth. You know we did all for love."
Vivian smiled, nodding her head.
"Yes, Lewd. For them and their love we did all that was asked."
"Have you heard from them? Have you seen. . .?"
"I have seen another apparition, Lewis. And this time it was Tristan."
The man's fingers tightened their hold on her shoulder.
"Tristan is. . .he's dead? Was all this for naught?"
"I do not know the truth in his existence, Lewis. As you well know he and my sister were guided into the void."
Lewis patted her shoulder, Vivian seeing his ever giving compassion.
"The void of God's love. What did he tell you?"
"That they are safe. That my sister lays protected, surrounded by love. That both are surrounded by a protective love."
"His and someone else's."
"There is more going on here than what lays in the past, Lewis. And I believe my own son is right in the middle of all of it."
Vivian's eyes teared up, the injured reverend rising up a little in the bed.
"Tell me all of it, Vivacious. Unburden your soul under my love."
Vivian nodded, the woman beginning to talk to her old friend.
Lewis Saunders held his old friend in his arms, Vivian's head laying upon his injured chest, the man's steadfast love calming her trembling soul.
"Savannah and Tristan's son. A being created out of their love. The two in the end giving him to our loving Vivacious, the child wrapped in family love. It's all so remarkable." the man said, Vivian raising her head.
"He is. . .he is love, Lewis. I raised him as my own, and he still calls me mother. After all the hidden lies, after all the secrecy he still calls me Mom." Vivian said, Lewis smiling and rubbing her back.
"He has felt and seen the love that we all know you give so easily, Vivian. To him you'll always be his mother. And the unknown love of his parents I truly believe he'll come to know. Your Lucas sounds like a giving child as well."
Vivian smiled, her thoughts on her son.
"He is, Lewis. And all of this worries me so much."
The man nodded, resting back against his pillows, Vivian sitting up again.
"Have you told him of our past? Of what we saw? Of what we had to do?"
"No, Lewis. I cannot bring myself to tell him. For he would see all of us in a not so giving light."
The man's hands went in hers again, Vivian staring at the injured man.
"We did what our hearts and souls required of us, Vivian. We gave a greater sacrifice to their love."
"Frenchie is dead, Lewis. He gave the greatest sacrifice."
Lewis lowered his head, nodding.
"Yes, so Grayson informed me, days before my own sacrifice. I believe that it, your house's destruction and subsequent kidnapping, and Frenchie's murder, were the results of the same man."
Vivian looked at the man, the minister squeezing her hands in his.
"He's dead, Lewis. Your tormentor is dead. In the end he perhaps escaped a greater justice. They found him dead in jail, an apparent heart attack."
The minister nodded, Vivian staring at him.
"God's judgment he most indeed shall face. Comeuppance comes to those who hurt others."
Vivian nodded, staring at her old friend.
"I am here on a mission of mercy, dear friend. You're coming home with me."
The man looked around, Vivian seeing a look of soft surprise on his face.
"I. . .I cannot be a burden on you, Vivian. You have your own family, your own life to live."
"You would never be a burden, Lewd. Your love shined through all our trepidations. The joy of your whimsical love will fill all our hearts again. I want my children to know you." she said, she now squeezing his hands gently.
"I. . .I am a broken man, Viv. My soul still fills with God, but I am powerless to lead a life of any purpose."
"Your life is purposeful, Lewis. It has had a purpose through all of it. You are still a servant of God, and a friend of true giving love."
The man softly smiled, patting Vivian's hand.
"Alright, Vivian. I shall relent to your request. In fact, I think I would greatly love to meet your son, and Savannah's son."
Vivian stared at her friend, a soft smile crossing the man's face again.
"Paths move with God's intervention, Vivacious. I think we
all walk a destined path. And your son sounds like he is the nexus of the path.
Yes, I'd greatly like to meet him. If only to bring him the truth. The truth you
are afraid to tell him."
Vivian's head lowered again, the man's hand finding her shoulder again.
"You shall have to tell him, Vivian. I will stand by you when
you do. I'll make the man see the love behind all of it."
Vivian nodded, voicing her agreement.
"Puck still remains unanswered for his consequences. And I believe it was he that followed my sister and Tristan. It was he who set that monster on our paths."
Lewis rubbed Vivian's shoulder gently.
"All paths circle back to the past's truths. He will stand against the past and face its truth."
Vivian raised her head again, staring at the injured man.
"That would mean our return to Kurucu's Haven. And to that man's web."
"Yes, Vivian. Your son sounds like he has already decided upon that. On meeting his grandfather. We will all need to be there to protect him. And perhaps the truth shall rear its head again."
"I will not let my son be endangered as we once were. You know the sacrifice she made then."
"God tested us, Viv. And we continued on the path we chose. Lucas, I believe, may be the foundation upon which our unanswered hopes stand upon. It will find him one way or another."
Vivian leaned forward, kissing her friend's cheek.
"He is my world, Lewis. I don't want him hurt."
"I have given a lot to protect them, I will give what's left to protect him." the man said, Vivian's eyes filled with tears at the protective love she felt coming from her friend for her son he'd never even met.
"First we have to get you well, Lewd. We'll move you in the morning."
"Then I must rest to gather my strength. I haven't been to
Wales in years."
The man softly smiled, Vivian moving off his bed, her hand remaining in his as she sat down in a chair beside the bed, the minister relaxing back into the pillows.
She sensed he was slipping into sleep, his face showing a soft smile as she held his hand.
She stared at his face, seeing the bandages, knowing the sacrifice he gave to protect all of them.
Grayson had told her that Lewis hadn't revealed anything to the assassin, the man's torture after the result of that.
You gave all for us, Lewis.
As great a sacrifice as Jacques gave.
I will give all to see you smile again.
And I shall pray for God's mercy in healing you.
We shall laugh again, my old friend.
Her eyes stared at him, her heart hardening.
We shall walk again into the past.
Into that mansion of horror.
And I'll give all to see my son's soul saved.
New York City
Lance stared at Joey, the man staring back.
Justin's eyes were wide with surprise, the man staring at Lance as well.
"Adam. . .Adam did this to you, Lance?" Justin said, his voice trembling with shock, Lance's green eyes moving and meeting Justin's blue.
Lance's eyes lowered, Joey stared at both men.
"You. . .you weren't supposed to know, Justin. You shouldn't have been called."
Justin's hand went forward, resting on Lance's shoulder, their eyes meeting again.
"Oh, Lance. What did you do? Why did you let him. . .? I'm so sorry." Justin said, tears showing in his blue eyes.
Joey's brown eyes went between both men, seeing both in an emotional state.
"Okay, what the hell's going on here?" Joey said, his voice filled with determined love, the man wanting answers.
"Why does Adam Levine's name keep popping up around here? First that deception with Lucas, the man behind that. Now he's here beating you up? And what's going on with you, Justin? What's Adam done to you?" Joey said, the man looking at both, their eyes meeting each other's.
"Would someone clue me into what's happening? Or do I have to go and beat it out of Levine?"
The two men remained silent, Joey standing up.
"Fine! I'll rip it out of him then."
Joey meant to move, Lance's hand going to his arm, the man standing up.
"No, Joey. I don't want you going there filled with anger. I took care of it. I did what I had to do. To all of them. For all of my friends." Lance said, Justin standing up and staring at Lance.
"What did you do, Lance? Why was Adam so angry that he took it out on you?"
"Move, Lance. And I'll find out for myself." Joey said, his anger showing easily.
"No, Joey. Sit down. It's time you found out what's going on around here. It's time you knew how foolish your friend's been." Justin said, Lance's eyes meeting his.
"You weren't foolish, Justin. You were played and you know
"Oh God, Lance. What have you done?" Justin said, his face showing deep emotion.
"I said I'd take care of it, and I did. Adam wasn't too happy I did it, but I did it nonetheless."
"What did you do, Lance?" Justin said, his arm going around him, Lance moaning a little, Justin realizing his friend was hurt more than he let on.
"I blackmailed him, Justin. And I used myself to do it."
Justin stared at Lance, the man lowering his head, unable to look into Justin's blue pools of love.
"Blackmailed him with what?" Joey said, staring at his friend, Lance remaining silent.
Justin looked at Lance, then into Joey's concerned eyes.
"Sit down, Joey. I'll tell you what's going on. And then we'll both have a talk with Adam." Justin said, Lance raising his head and looking into Justin's blue, love-filled eyes.
"I. . .I took care of it, Jus. He's gone out of our lives." Lance said, tears beginning to show in his green pools.
"No he isn't, Lance. Not as long as he's in our souls. And nightmares." Justin said, the man gently returning Lance to his seat, Justin joining him.
Joey sat down again, staring at his friends.
"Alright, Justin. Tell me the truth. And then we'll decide how much I'm going to hurt him."
Justin's blue eyes met Joey's brown, Joey seeing a determined look in Justin's pools.
Justin began to speak, Lance sitting quietly beside him, his own truths hidden under growing fear.
Joey stood beside the table, Justin in his arms, the younger man sobbing against Joey's chest.
Joey had pulled the man out of his chair, his protective love surrounding him.
"I'm glad Lance was there to pull you out of that madness." Joey said, looking down at Lance, the man remaining emotionless.
"You're. . .you're not mad at me for being so stupid in getting myself into that position?" Justin said, emotion in his words.
"Oh, Justin! You were played. Lance was right. Adam played you and forced you into that situation." Joey said, holding his friend, Justin wiping his eyes, their eyes meeting.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you the truth about my secret life. About my bisexual life." Justin said, Joey smiling at him.
"You're still you, Justin. The gangly, loving, giving person I've always thought of as another brother. That won't ever change between us, no matter who you love or want."
Justin smiled, hearing Joey's unchanged love in his words, the two hugging now.
Lance smiled from the table, his smile soft and giving.
"Thanks, Joey. I love you as a brother as well."
Joey smiled, his eyes looking down at Lance.
"You showed a lot of courage removing Justin from their grasps, Lance."
Lance looked up at Justin, the man's hand going to his shoulder.
"He's my brother too, Joey. I'll always try and protect you all as well."
Both men smiled, Justin staring into Lance's green eyes.
"You did that again last night, didn't you? What did you do to him Lance?" Justin said, Lance lowering his eyes, Justin and Joey looking at each other, both men returning to their seats, Justin's hand going to Lance's shoulder again.
"It's alright, Lance. I know whatever you did you did for my protection and for the others as well. Josh and Lucas too, right?"
Joey looked surprised, Lance looking towards him.
"Adam has his sights set on Lucas now. The man's nothing but a lewd man of conquest. To him it's the conquest, the game of seducing someone. He's seduced all of us. Justin, myself, and even Josh years ago. Josh had the sense to see what he was doing and didn't fall into Adam's trap of sharing seduction."
Justin stared at Lance, the man not looking at him.
"Lucas is his latest conquest. What his plans are for him I don't know. I only hope that I've thwarted them. I have to let Lucas know." Lance said, Justin rubbing his shoulder.
"What happened last night, Lancy?" Joey said, Lance sighing, both of his friends waiting for him to talk.
"I invited him here. I had a plan." Lance said, staring down at the table.
"What plan, Lance?" Justin said, his voice edged with calming love.
Lance lifted his head, staring at Justin.
He felt his soul letting go, his hidden truths about to be revealed.
He couldn't not tell Justin the truth.
The moment of his emotional downfall was at hand.
"You aren't the only one that Adam's played, Justin."
Justin and Joey both looked surprised, Lance rising from his seat, moving back and leaning against the kitchen counter, a distance now between him and his friends.
Joey looked at Justin, his look one of calming direction.
He knew Lance needed space, and he was making sure Justin gave it to him.
"Adam, he. . .he played you, Lance?" Justin said, Lance staring into Justin's surprised eyes.
"Yes, Justin. And it wasn't only once."
Justin looked stunned, Joey staring at Lance.
"What did he do to you, Lance?" Joey said, his eyes showing their protective love.
"He controlled me, Joe. He used me and controlled me. I've. . .I've never been strong like you guys. You know how easily manipulated I can be. You all manipulated me when we were together, albeit with love and no malice. It was different with Adam. In him. . .in him I felt a greater submissiveness. In him I found a master."
Lance lowered his head, unable to look at his friends.
"He gave me to so many. I was. . .I was nothing but a. . .a slave."
Justin stood up, beginning to move towards Lance.
"No, Justin. Don't come near me! I let it happen. I wanted it to happen!" Lance said, tears showing in his eyes now, Justin stopping, Joey standing up now as well.
"Lance, you can't have wanted that? You're so filled with love, giving love. You can't have wanted all those men to touch you?" Justin said, tears showing in his eyes.
"I. . .I thought I did, Justin. I really thought I enjoyed it. Being their slut, their whore. But when I. . ." Lance lowered his head again, Joey looking at him.
"When you saw what they were doing to Justin, the truth came into your heart?" Joey said, Lance's head raising, staring at his friend, then moving and meeting Justin's blue tearful eyes.
"When I saw you in that room, when I saw you laying there in pain and fear, I. . .I saw myself, Justin. I saw the truth of what I had been, of what they'd made me into. I couldn't. . .I wouldn't allow them to do that to you. That's why I pulled you out of there. I wanted you to have a better life than I had. I wanted you to find love, to find happiness. A love or happiness I can't ever have." Lance said, his voice edged with emotion.
"Oh, Lance. What you did for me. . .how can I ever. . .?" Justin said, the man staring at his lost friend.
"You owe me nothing, Justin. I should thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes."
Joey moved forward, stopping before Lance, staring at his friend.
"Opening your eyes to what?" Joey said, Lance staring at him, unable to look at Justin again.
"I'm a whore, Joey. Nothing better than a whore. They used me and I liked it! But the liking turned to fear, to emotional loss. The last time I let them all use me was here. But I knew that I had to do something to get out of their grasps. So I. . .I set up cameras, I taped our last session. I showed Adam that tape last night. I blackmailed him into walking away from all of us. I won't let him do to you or others what he did to me, Justin."
Justin moved again, this time standing beside his friend.
"Oh, Lance. You are not now nor never have been a whore. You're the most loving, giving man I know. And yes you've been manipulated all your life. That's how you so easily fell into Adam's clutches. But that doesn't make you a whore or a bad person. He used you like he tried to use me. You didn't have a true friend to save you from his control. I did. I had you. And you have me now, Lance. I'm here as a true friend. There's more to you than a manipulated slave. There's a heart of goodness and a heart of love. Any giving, loving man would easily love you. Adam Levine is nothing more than a ruthless controller. You and I are out of his control now. We're free to be loved."
Lance was in tears, Justin's words sinking into his soul.
"I let him. . .I let him take his anger out on me last night. He. . .he threatened before to tell you all about me. I couldn't let him do that! I couldn't let him let you know that I'm a whore." Lance sobbed, Justin pulling the man into his arms, Joey tearfully staring at him, Justin wrapping his arms gently around his friend.
"You aren't that, Lance. You never were that as I already said. You're the man we've called friend. You're a giving soul of giving love. Today begins the next part of your free life. A life of freedom, of happiness and love. We'll all stand by you forever."
"I'm sorry, Justin. I'm sorry I let him trap you like that. I should have seen the signs."
Justin kissed Lance's forehead, Lance's head against his chest.
"He's a conniving individual, Lance. He lures and traps. But we're free of the traps, as Josh is. And we'll make sure Lucas is on his guard."
Lance raised his head, Justin's fingers gently wiping the tears from Lance's bruised face.
"It took a lot of courage to stand against him, Lance. To fight for our freedom. I'll always respect you for that. And I'll always be your loving friend. You aren't the person you think you are, Lance. You're only you. The you we all love."
Lance softly smiled, Joey smiling at him as well.
"I'm so tired. I didn't sleep well last night. Adam was. . .he was very angry."
"It's alright, Lance. He'll never touch you again." Joey said.
"I've already voiced that truth in my heart, Joe. I'm free of
all of them. And I'll fight anyone who ever tries to take me like that again."
Joey smiled, leaning forward and kissing Lance's cheek.
"You've grown, Lance. Your more focused and determined. I
think you'll find your happiness in a giving, loving man. Anyone would and could
truly love the real you."
Lance smiled, his eyes meeting Justin's blue.
"I'd give anything for that happiness." he softly said, Justin smiling at him.
"Come on, Lance. I'll walk you to your bedroom. Sleep you indeed need."
Lance smiled, Justin gently guiding him out of the kitchen, Joey watching his two friends go.
Joey sat down at the table again, staring at the cell phone laying on its surface.
A few minutes later Justin walked back into the room, Joey smiling up at him.
"Lance was out the moment he hit the bed." Justin said, Justin sitting down beside him.
"He was emotionally exhausted. I'm going to stay the day here with him." Joey said, Justin nodding, seeing Joey's protective love in his eyes.
"What he told us. How he let him. . .I hate him so much!" Justin said, Joey's hand going to Justin's shoulder.
"I know, Jus. I hate him as well. The man's a bastard and he's hurt so many." Joey said, staring at the phone.
Justin stared at it as well, the man's hand going forward and picking it up.
"What are you going to do, Justin? You need to stay away from him as well." Joey said, Justin's blue eyes meeting his.
Joey saw a lot of determination and protective love in his blue eyes.
"I'm going to talk to him, Joey. You stay here with Lance. I'm going to voice more than Lance did. I'm going to give my own ultimatum."
"No, Justin. You need to go nowhere near him. Lance has blackmailed him, he'll stay clear of you."
"No he won't, Joey. I know the man. And I'm going to find out what he's got planned for Lucas."
"Lucas is a together guy, Justin. I know he won't be duped by Adam."
"I know that too, Joey. But I won't let my friend go blind."
Joey nodded, staring at Justin.
"Okay, Justin. But I'm going with you. Lance will sleep all afternoon."
Justin's eyes met Joey's, seeing their protective truth.
"Alright, Joe. But you have to remain calm. Let me handle this."
Joey nodded, the two men standing up.
"His place isn't far from here. I think we should pay him a
Joey nodded, his anger hidden from Justin's searching eyes.
End of Chapter 33
So Lance has voiced most of his truthful past.
Justin now knows how manipulative Adam Levine is.
And the sacrifice his friend gave to protect them all.
Will Joey remain calm or will his hidden anger explode when he faces Adam?
I think you better hide, Adam.
Justin's coming and he's bringing a guard dog with him.
Vivian has found her lost friend, Lewis now under her protective love.
What secret lays hidden between them about their past?
And Vivian indeed knows that Haven Marlowe is behind Lucas' parents' forced disappearance.
Kurucu's Haven sounds like a menacing place of evil!
Is it really that or is it something more?
I, as the author, am filled with knowledge of those truths.
I think I'll let you in on the secrets.