Chapter 17 - Love Will Always Win - Epilogue.
Daphne and Matt had many people stopping by their house in the weeks after Shayna's birth. Brian and Justin had moved into the loft for the time being, and Shayna spent almost as much time with them as she did with Daphne and Matt. Brian and Justin thought it would be easier for everyone if they lived at the loft, so the separation would get easier.
Mel came by the first week and brought Daphne all the legal papers, making Brian and Justin the sole guardians of Shayna. The papers covered everything in case something should happen to any of them.
The only person who hadn't stopped by the loft to see the baby was Lindsay. Jennifer was over the moon and so was Debbie; her Sunshine had a baby. Corinne was talking to Mel about having another child, but Mel told her it would be difficult. Blake, who was listening from the other side of the room, told them that he would like to have children too, but hadn't found the right Mom. Ted smiled and knew that he would probably be a father sooner than expected.
Brian made fun of Daphne, telling her that she started a whole new trend... making babies.
Life was nice for all of them.
Nine years later. - Gus's graduation party at Britin.
May 2020, Gus stepped into the garden, where his fathers agreed to host a party for his graduation...most of his family was there. He was graduating two years earlier than most of his friends and doubling up on classes, so he could finish four years worth of work in only two.
Debbie and Carl were still together; they had moved from Debbie's old house three years earlier, after Rage went national and Michael made loads of money.
Tucker had married Jennifer three years ago, and they were still living at Jennifer's condo. Molly was dating some handsome young man.
Hunter had married Callie, and they were expecting their first baby. They'd gone for an anonymous donor and artificial insemination. After Debbie and Carl moved out, they took over the house, and made some changes to fit their style.
Melanie was still with Corinne; they had one more member of their family, Mark, Corinne and Blake's three-year-old son. As with Michael, Blake kept his parental rights.
Drew and Emmett were still together. They had some problems but they were still together. They were living at Drew's house but Emmett often slept in the guestroom at Hunter's.
Michael and Ben were still living in the suburbs; they had a young boy living with them, Chris. Hunter had brought him home one night. The young boy had hit on Hunter in front of their house. Hunter thought that since he'd been given another chance, that he could give one to Chris. The boy was living between Ben, Michael, and Hunter's home.
Mrs. Stevenson was still living with Brian and Justin, even if she spent more time at Daphne's, taking care of her babies. Unexpectedly, Daphne gave birth to twins on her third pregnancy... a boy and a girl, Wyatt and Alyssa. Two beautiful babies delivered at term. Daphne got pregnant on her wedding night. She had married Matt a few days after Shayna's second birthday.
On Daphne's wedding day, after everyone left, Brian and Justin, cornered father Tom who had performed the ceremony and asked him to bless their union. Without a fuss, Father Tom accepted, knowing that those two men were bound together long before they exchanged vows and rings.
Daphne's wedding song was 'Save the Last Dance for Me' and if Justin had needed over seven years to remember the prom, they just needed one song to get back all the emotion. Daphne danced with Matt, and Brian danced with Justin as if it was that very first night.
When people saw the look on Brian's face, they didn't have to think twice about saying the word 'love'.
One person was always missing from every important event, despite living in Pittsburgh, and that was Lindsay. She chose, after losing custody of Gus, to stay in the city. She now owned the Sidney Bloom Gallery, which she renamed the Peterson Gallery.
She had a standing invitation at both Debbie's and Brian's house, but never used it. She declined Daphne's wedding invitation; she even declined Shayna's christening. She'd cut off completely from the family.
Over the years, Brian learned that she was living in a new house, and had a regular visitor, Sam Auerbach. Not once, since that day after Shayna's birth, had he seen Lindsay going out with another woman. That day, she came by the hospital, praised the new mother, cooed over the baby, and spoke to everyone. As she left, she kissed Corinne on the cheek and Mel on the mouth, telling her how many regrets she had in her life.
Somehow, Lindsay wasn't part of the family anymore.
When Gus had soccer, Lindsay was on the sideline watching him play and taking some pictures. However, most of the time, she left before Gus had finished in the locker room. She sent cards and gifts for the important moments in his life, but never tried to see him.
After two years, Gus asked his father to see her, and the meeting had been awkward. Gus didn't say a word for two days, then asked his father if he could go see her again. Since then, Gus tried to spend at least one afternoon, every two weeks, with his mother.
Tonight, Brian and Justin had organized a party at Britin for everyone in Gus's honor. He had invited most of his friends and all his parents. Emmett had organized the party, a big barbecue, with a variety of salads, fruits, and fresh foods.
Lindsay had been invited, and she was expected to arrive at any moment. Brian knew the second she had arrived, because Gus had a big grin on his face. She didn't attend alone; Sam was at her side. Sam greeted Melanie, Justin, Brian, and Corinne. Over the years, they'd gotten to know him... more or less.
He owned a big gallery in Philadelphia, and had hosted Justin's shows twice both had been huge successes. Justin sold everything the first night, and the commission he got from the shows covered most of the renovations on Britin.
They kept half the stables and turned the rest into a guesthouse for Matt and Daphne, creating a path from the new guesthouse to Mrs. Stevenson's house. They also renovated the apartment over the garage; they intended to give it to Gus for his graduation, and because he was now just over 19.
Over the years, Brian and Justin realized that Gus graduating early hadn't anything to do with the pretty girls, even if Maeven was his best friend, it was because of Lucas. Over the years, Lucas seemed to get closer to Gus, but one evening, loud voices and a shiner on Gus's eye, proved to the young man that his friend wasn't interested in him; at least, not in the way that Gus wanted him to be.
After being apart for over six month, Lucas came to Britin with a bag of pastries and excuses. They were friends again.
Over the last year, Gus had spoken a lot about Shane, finally bringing him to Britin. Brian caught the two boys in the pool, kissing. He didn't interrupt them and smiled. Shane was three years older than Gus, despite the fact that they were both juniors, majoring in the same field. Gus was two years ahead of kids his age, and Shane had dropped out of school for a year, after his parent's death.
Over the last year, the boys had gotten closer, and Shane often spent the night in a guestroom at Britin. Until last month, when Brian went to his son's room, to wake him up, and saw both boys sleeping in the same bed; the covers were tangled around their limbs, with condoms and condom wrappers in the trashcan.
Brian went from anger to acceptance in less than five minutes. When he came to the kitchen, he told Justin, who only nodded. He'd known for a while that the boys wanted to sleep together; he just wasn't sure when they'd get around to it. Well, it seems they had last night.
They prepared breakfast together, and waited for everyone to wake up.
Shayna was the first up, both men heard her footsteps running to Gus's room.
"No, no, no, that's not a good idea." Justin bolted out the kitchen and up the stairs. Too late, Shayna was already in the room, sneaking in Gus's bed.
"Shany, no!" Justin said as he reached the top of the stairs. "Shit."
Justin knocked on the door, before stepping in. Gus sleepily answered, "Com'in." Justin stepped into the room and saw his daughter sitting on the middle of the bed looking down at her brother and his lover.
Shayna patted Gus's cheek and dropped a kiss on it. "Why are you naked?" she asked Gus who didn't stir at all at his sister's intrusion.
"Oh Shany," whispered Justin from the doorway. Shayna turned around, looked at her father, and returned to her task, waking the boys up. She patted Shane's cheek too, and the young man opened an eye, looking startled when he saw Shayna sitting between him and his lover.
"Sorry, she loves waking her brother," said Brian from behind Justin.
"Shany, it's too early to wake up," grumbled Gus, turning around and reaching over to Shane.
"Shany, come down for breakfast," said Justin.
"Shit," swore Gus, now wide-awake.
"You said a bad word," said Shayna. "You didn't answer, why are you naked?" asked Shayna again.
"Shayna Taylor-Kinney!" came Justin's warning.
Shayna turned around hearing her father's warning. "I'm coming."
She made a move to scramble from the bed, but stopped and looked at Shane. "I love you, you're pretty."
She moved from the bed and ran to her fathers. "Sorry, I just wanted to wake him up."
"I know, go to the kitchen, I'll be right with you." Shayna nodded and walked down to the kitchen.
Justin walked into the room and looked at Gus; Brian was still at the doorway. "You should learn to lock the door, Gus," said Justin.
"I forgot," came Gus's sheepish answer. "Won't happen again, Dad."
"I know," replied Justin. He turned around and walked to the door. "Breakfast is ready, and I'll make pancakes, if anyone says yes."
"Yes," mumbled Brian as Justin passed him. Justin smiled and walked downstairs.
Brian stepped into the boy's room and closed the door. Instinctively Shane reached for the sheet to cover himself a little more than he already was.
"I don't want Shany to walk in on you two in action. It never happened with Justin and I, and I don't want it to happen with you. All right Sonny boy?"
"Yes, Mister Kinney."
Brian looked at Shane and raised his eyebrow. "Since when am I Mr. Kinney to you?"
"Okay, forget the Mr. Kinney; that was my father. Brian, will be enough."
Shane nodded. Brian walked to the door. "I'm glad you took your time - you didn't, well that you knew each other before…" and Brian gestured to the bed.
Gus smiled. "Yeah I'm glad too."
Brian nodded and finally left the room. Once alone, Shane looked at Gus. "Is the wake up always that way?"
Gus nodded. "For the last seven years, since Shany learned how to walk, she wakes me up every morning."
"Well it's nice," whispered Shane, as he moved to wrap his arms around Gus. "I could get used to it."
"Yeah, but then I think we have to make sure to tell her to knock before bolting into the room."
"Yeah. Now come on. Dad is making pancakes," said Gus.
Shane nodded and followed Gus into the bathroom.
Thirty minutes later, they stepped into the kitchen just as Shane asked, "I don't know how keep it straight, calling both of them Dad; it's pretty confusing."
"You think?" asked Gus.
"Here," said Justin as he pushed a plate filled with pancakes over to both men.
Shane smiled and shook his head; he would never understand how Gus managed to call both his fathers 'Dad'. Shane sat near Shayna. "Do you mind, miss?"
"Nope, nobody call me miss."
Shayna shook her head. "Nope. They usually call me Shany, sweetie, Sunny, or Sunshine, like my Dad."
"If you want, I will call you miss."
"I like that. I really like that," she said as Shane reached for a new cup of coffee.
Brian looked over at Justin and smiled. He reached for the coffee pot and refilled his cup too.
That evening, Brian came home early to find Justin, Gus, and Shane in the kitchen cooking dinner. Shayna was in her room doing her homework.
He went to the bedroom, took a quick shower, and changed into something comfortable. On his way down, he stopped at his daughter's room, looked over her homework and they both went downstairs.
Dinner was excellent, especially when Justin and Gus were doing the cooking. .
Justin looked at Brian, who shook his head and mouthed, "After." Justin nodded and dinner went smoothly.
Shane, Gus, and Shayna left both Dads in the kitchen, cleaning the rest of the dishes. Once that was done, Justin went to the garage, and Brian went to the media room, where 'the kids' had congregated.
"Can you come with me? I have something for you," said Brian.
Gus moved from the sofa, with Shayna on his heals. Brian smiled. "You can come too Shane."
"I can?" Brian nodded.
Gus frowned when he saw where his father led them. "Dad?" Brian took the stairs to the first floor, and then followed the hall until he reached Justin's studio. On the left, was a new door. Brian opened it, and the light went on. Justin was standing in a brand-new apartment.
"Surprise, Sonny boy," whispered Brian.
Gus look stunned.
Justin smiled broadly. "I think we really surprised him."
"We finished it last week; it's your graduation and 19th birthday gift. We didn't know what to give you, so…"
"It's, It's … "
Gus was wandering around the little apartment, appreciating the hardwood floors, the crimson and black décor, and the dark gray furniture.
Gus opened a door, discovering the bedroom. Between the bedroom and the kitchen was a bathroom, which had both a bath and a shower.
The apartment was exquisite; a mix of Brian's and Justin's tastes.
"We moved your things in here today, or rather, Justin did," Brian pointed out.
"You did?" whispered Gus.
Justin nodded. "I also took the liberty of moving Shane's things too. I hope you don't mind."
Shane shook his head.
"I hope you will be ok here," said Brian. "The wall between the house and the apartment, and even the door are all soundproofed. So we won't be disturbed with your music or anything else."
Gus turned crimson. "Dad!"
"Dad, can I live here too?" asked a little voice from the bedroom doorway.
"No, Shany. It's Gus's and Shane's new apartment. You will stay with us in the main house."
"But…" the young girl frowned. Then, she walked to Gus and grabbed his hand. "Don't leave."
Gus moved to the couch, sat down and looked at his sister. "I won't leave; I'm just in another room...that's all."
"But now I won't be able to come and wake you anymore, if you close the door."
Gus looked at Justin and Brian, but Shane saved the situation. "You know, I'm sure Gus will still come and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with you, in the main kitchen."
"Will you live here with him?"
"I don't know, we haven't talked about it yet." Shane looked up at Gus, "Do you want me here with you?"
Gus nodded. Shane looked at Shayna. "I guess I will be living here with him."
"Yay!" cried Shayna. All four men laughed. Shane continued, "How do you wake your fathers?"
"Then you have to do the same when waking Gus, now."
"But I never knocked to get in Gus's room."
Gus smiled, holding her hands and said, "But now, I'm not alone anymore."
Shane looked at Justin. "She's easy."
"If only she was that easy every time and everyday. It would make my life easier," chuckled Justin. Brian moved behind his lover and wrapped his arms around Justin's waist.
"Shany?" asked Brian.
"I think, it's time for you to go to bed."
Shayna, moved to the door, changed her mind, and walked back to Gus. "Love you."
"Love you too, Sunny."
They kissed, but before she left, she stopped in front of Shane. "I love you too."
Shane knelt and kissed her too. She wrapped her little arms around his neck and kissed the boy on the cheek. "I will share Gus with you, but you have to be nice and love him a lot, because if you don't, I will punch you in the nose. You won't hurt him?"
"No I won't," whispered Shane, with misty eyes.
"Okay," Shany nodded her curly hair, brushing Shane's cheek. "Love you."
"Love you too," whispered Shane.
Shany ran to her Dad, and before they left the room, Shane stopped them. "I… I wanted to say thank you. You've welcomed me into your home since day one, and…"
Brian waved his hand. "It's all right, and you don't have to say anything."
"I have, because, because, I love Gus, and I love being here and well …" his breath hitched, and Gus wrapped his arms around his waist.
Shane leaned his body against Gus's, and Gus whispered, "It's all right." Shane nodded.
Brian, Justin and Shayna finally left the apartment, closing the door behind them.
They put Shayna in bed; then, Brian and Justin moved to their own bedroom.
Justin was drawing small circles on Brian's taut stomach, as Brian breathed deeply. "That was fucking hot."
"Thanks," whispered Justin.
"Where did you learn that?"
"You know, I happen to know this stud."
"There was a stud on Liberty Avenue. He picked me up that first night, and brought me back to his loft. He fucked me until six in the morning."
"He did?" asked Brian.
"Yeah, he did. Christ, I remember I still felt him inside me the next day."
"I remember you were really gifted."
"Yeah. You were one of the few I let spend the night," said Brian.
"Why didn't you tell me then?" asked Justin.
"I had a reputation." Brian shrugged, running his hand over Justin's back.
"Pfff. And what kind of reputation was that, fucking everything that moved?"
Brian didn't say anything and Justin continued, "How many had the luck to spend the night?"
"And come back?" whispered Brian.
"And come back," added Justin.
Brian inhaled deeply. "Only you. You were the one who came back every time I pushed you away. You were the only one who called me on my bullshit. I liked that from the start. You didn't take anything for granted; you just thought that you had to fight for me."
Justin nodded and smiled.
"I … You … Christ." Brian cursed. "Okay I will begin again. I loved the feeling you gave me, when you'd fight me. I liked the way you expressed your opinion, and you're still doing it. I'm glad I picked you up that night. I felt, wait what did Gus ask me once?" Brian furrowed his brow. "Oh yeah, he asked me if my heart fluttered, and I told him yeah it was something like that. In fact, you took my breath away, looking right at me. You didn't turn your gaze when I looked back, and I loved that!"
"You didn't either."
"Yeah, but I knew I would have you. What I didn't know was that 19 years later, you would still be here."
"Do you regret it?" whispered Justin.
"No, I don't regret it at all."
They felt silent for a moment before Justin moved and propped himself on his elbow. Brian lifted his eyebrow, in a silent question.
"You did it," whispered Justin while caressing Brian's cheek with his free hand. "You became the best homosexual you could possibly be. You succeed in everything you do."
Brian took his lips into his mouth, and looked away. "No," whispered Justin back. "Never be ashamed of your success, that's what you taught me. You told me to embrace my destiny, and you should do the same. You are the best homosexual you could possibly be, and I am proud of you."
"I am proud of you too," whispered Brian. "Because you taught me so much more than you really know."
"Yeah, it's something Gus said to me during the party, and I have to agree that he's right."
"What's that?" asked Justin.
"He said that no matter what the consequences, finality or life choices, love would always win. He also said that we had proved to him time and again, over the last 8 years, how right those words were." Brian stopped, looked at Justin and pulled him into a kiss. He stopped and looked at Justin again. "I'm 47 years old, Justin, and for the first time in my life, I'm really and truly happy."
Justin nodded, and Brian continued, "I have the life I dreamed of having when I was 17. I have the family I feared to have, and you know what, I'm not scared like I thought I would be. I never thought I would..." Brian gestured to the room.
Brian inhaled and looked down at Justin. "I'm happy," he whispered, nodded and kissed Justin's forehead.
"Thank you, for sticking up for me, for always coming back even after I shoved you away, and for giving me so much."
"No thanks to you, for letting me in and allowing me to stay," answered Justin.
"You were pretty insistent. I could hardly fight, and honestly, I didn't want to," replied Brian.
Justin sighed deeply. "I'm glad you gave me the key to your heart."
"I gave it to you that first night."
Justin looked up and smiled, and Brian continued, "It just took me longer than you to understand."
Brian took Justin against him and kissed him again, moving over to Justin's ear. "I love you," Brian whispered."
"I love you too," whispered Justin.
Brian wrapped his arms around Justin's body, and shifted both of them so that Justin was on his back with Brian on top. Justin opened his leg to give some room to Brian, and pulled him into a tight hug.
Brian lifted his head, and looked down at Justin. "Do you remember the last time I looked down at you this way?" Justin nodded, and added, "It's only time."
Brian smiled. Justin shifted when he felt Brian's hard-on poking him, placing Brian's erection at his entrance. Brian looked down, and pushed in slowly. Justin arched his back off the bed, throwing his head back, and opening his mouth in a silent gasp. When Brian was fully buried inside, he paused. Justin looked at him, and Brian wrapped his mouth over Justin's and kissed him. Brian began to move, slowly at first, and then a little faster. Every time one or the other was near climax, he stilled his movements. Justin smiled up, and reached for Brian's hair, running his hand through it.
"I love you so much," he whispered.
"I know," replied Brian.
"Promise me that no matter what, no matter what the consequences, finality or life choices, you will come back to me, no matter how long it takes."
"I promise," whispered Brian. "No more pushing, and no more running away."
Brian began to move again, and Justin met each thrust.
"Yeah," answered Brian.
Justin reached out, grabbed Brian's head, and pulled him toward him, crushing their mouths together, as they both came, echoing their moans into their kiss.
Brian began to move, but Justin grabbed him on his shoulders. "Don't go."
Brian reached for Justin's hair, and put his head in the hollow of Justin's neck. He turned his head, putting his mouth on Justin's ear, and whispered, "I won't."
Justin wrapped his arms tighter around Brian, feeling complete for the first time in the last 19 years. He heard Brian's regular breathing, knowing the man had drifted off to sleep. He closed his eyes and let sleep take him. Brian and Gus's words were running through his head. "No matter what the consequences, finality or life choices, love will always win."