They said he might remember one day or maybe not. Somehow, we never lost hope, but at the same time, we never expected him to fully recover any memory of that night.
It was sixteen years ago and so much had happened since then.
In 2005, Justin left for New York to be a big success in the art world. He needed six months to get settled, before he took New York with panache, having solo show after solo show for two years.
He made me promise to visit him for all the grand openings, and I never missed one. We were together in our own way.
After two years and not less than eight shows, he showed up one night at my door.
"Hey," he said to me, with a smile.
"How long are you staying?"
"How does for good sound?" he asked with a smile lighting up his beautiful face. I pulled him toward me and kissed him deeply. It had been two months since I had seen him.
Later when I asked him what happened, he simply said, "I lost my inspiration."
His inspiration …
Three weeks after his return, I took him to Vermont for a whole week without family or any other interruptions … just us. When we returned, we were both wearing our rings on our left hand.
Like expected, everyone tried to get information from us, but we answered nobody. It wasn't any of their business. We decided a while ago to keep our lives between us without everyone trying to interfere.
His birthday was coming up that year, and I decided it was the right time to move on, so we finally moved to Britin.
The house was finished in time for his birthday, and I threw a party that night; it was a housewarming and birthday party all together. At some point during the night, I pointed out it was an achievement, and no one said anything different.
That same year, Melanie and Lindsay moved back to Pittsburgh. Lindsey inherited the gallery, where she had once worked, from Sydney Bloom. Melanie was happy, because after only two weeks, her former associate called and offered her a new job.
Gus spent most of his weekends at Britin with Justin and me. I can't believe I ever thought I was happy before those two came into my life.
Shortly after they moved back, the munchers finally broke up. Melanie went her way and so did Lindsay. She began to visit me at work and even spent some weekends at Britin Then one day I heard Justin and her yelling at each other; I knew I had to do something quickly.
Justin was yelling at her that what happened in our relationship and in our home wasn't any of her business, and she was arguing that she had a reason to know everything, because I was the father of her child.
I'd heard enough for me to intervene.
"And that's all I am, Gus's father, nothing more, nothing less. I'm not your husband, lover or wooer. I'm Justin's … partner, not yours, never will be."
She looked into my eyes, opened her mouth, and finally left the house without another word. It took her over a year to get over it and visit us again. She had settled down, this time with Sam Auerbach who'd come back to Pittsburgh. I never knew how it happened but they've been living together for the last ten years.
I looked down at my hand. Next week, it will be ten years since we went to Vermont and came back legally married. Me married, who would have thought it possible? Not me, that's for sure.
The people who had the hardest time accepting it were Michael and Lindsay.
I got an explanation from Lindsay the day she moved in with Sam, but Michael, I thought we were past all that… never mind, we are real friends now and that's what matters.
I rubbed my hand over my face and looked at the sleeping form in front of me. They said it was a coma, and we could only hope for the best.
I heard the door open and looked around to see Daphne, Kevin, Taylor and Gus walking in.
"Any news?" whispered Daphne.
I shook my head. "No."
"Here." Gus handed me a cup of coffee.
"Mom called," said Gus and I nodded. "She told me I should spend the night, but I said no." I looked up as he continued, "Do you really think Tay and Kev will get away from Phoebe once they get home?"
I smiled at that. No, Taylor and Kevin wouldn't let Daphne take a breath once they get home. Never understood why my son called her Phoebe, but that's just how things were.
When Daphne, Justin and I decided to have a baby, we each fertilized an egg resulting in Taylor and Kevin. They will turn 5 tomorrow. Destiny is strange sometimes. They came into the world on the very same day that I almost saw Justin die, eleven years before.
We were at home alone with all the phones shut off when someone banged on our door. It was Ben and Michael. Daphne was at the hospital and the labor had already begun. We arrived just in time to see our son and daughter.
We named the babies Kevin and Taylor. I smiled at them.
After spending three years away in Chicago when Justin left for New York, Daphne came back to Pittsburgh, got married and got a divorce in the same year.
She made that decision, when her husband took his frustrations out on her one night.
The following months were important for her - she got a divorce and a restraining order against her ex-husband. She moved out of their house and into one of our guest suites. Finally, she was offered a high level job at Allegheny General... General Surgeon for the Pediatric Unit. She accepted.
She lived in the carriage house now, the one were the butler should live. She made all the renovations and paid for everything.
What could I say? I love that girl, and Justin was great to her.
Christmas 2009, she handed us a letter. She said it was our decision, but she wanted to have a baby and didn't want to go to the sperm bank, when she knew two men who would be exceptional parents.
The letter was short.
"What do you think about becoming a parent or a parent again? I want a baby, or babies, depending upon your decision. I thought, maybe you could both donate and let Mother Nature do the rest. And once the baby comes, you will be the parents, and I will be the drop in mother.
We talked it over and over. Justin and I finally agreed, under one condition, she would never be a drop-in mother. We jerked off into the same cup and took it to Daphne.
May 21st 2011, the night Ben and Michael banged on our door, Daphne was at the hospital. She sent them, because she knew all the phones would be turned off. No one was to disturb us that day … no one.
Well except those two. They were on time, healthy, and beautiful.
Taylor had light-brown curly hair, green eyes, and Justin's smile. Kevin was a beautiful boy and had dark brown eyes with gold flecks in them, short curly, dark blond hair, and a smile… a killer smile.
Daphne always said they had the best from each of us. They are just great and turning five tomorrow.
They were playing on the floor at the moment with Gus. Daphne was sitting with me.
Justin had fallen into a coma that morning, while we were shopping for the kids' birthday presents.
We were at the mall, yeah the mall, and Justin was walking ahead with Taylor. They were laughing. Justin was dancing with her. Those little steps you do with your kid while holding hands… twirling and everything.
I was walking behind with Daphne. She was pushing the stroller with Kevin sitting in it. He was being punished, because he didn't listen to her earlier in the parking lot. So Taylor had the right to walk with one of us, and Kevin was stuck in the stroller.
Justin lifted Taylor from the ground and began to waltz with her. He was even humming and singing with the song that was playing in the background.
I looked at him; he looked beautiful and amazing.
I looked at him, right at the moment, as he was singing and dipping our daughter backwards. It reminded me of another time, another day sixteen years ago; I had done the same with him.
He put her back on the ground and looked up, still smiling. I smiled back, and he walked toward us. I looked at him and saw his smile falter. He stopped walking, looked up with a haunted look, and became whiter than a sheet. In two long strides, I was near him just in time to catch him.
He collapsed into my arms, barely breathing, barely alive.
We rode to the hospital in silence. Justin in a coma, and me too shocked to say anything. The paramedics said Justin's vitals were all right. His blood pressure was good, he was breathing on his own, and he was reacting to the pain.
When we arrived five hours ago, his neurologist was there. They wheeled him directly to the MRI and scan unit.
Less than an hour later, Justin was in a private room. The doctor said his brain hadn't suffered any damage. The scan didn't show any sign of swelling, and the extensive exam proved his brain was working correctly; for the moment, his brain was working more than necessary, because he seemed to be dreaming. At Brian's puzzled look, the doctor told him they knew Justin was dreaming because he had rapid eye movements.
The word echoed into my head almost a thousand times.
I remember the song that was playing at the mall; the one Justin was singing. It was Michael Bubble's new version of the old song, "Save the Last Dance for Me."
Couldn't it have been another day? Another time.
I looked up, and Taylor handed me a piece of paper. "It's for Dad." I nod.
Daphne stood up. "I'm heading home with them do you need anything?" she asked softly.
I shook my head.
"Want me to stay?" Gus asked.
I shook my head again.
They left after both kids kissed me. Gus looked at me one more time and followed Daphne.
I know they are worried, but I'm sure Justin will be all right.
I closed my eyes, thinking I should call the rest of the family.
It was after 8 pm when I opened my eyes. It took me a good minute to remember why I was asleep on a chair.
Hospital, Justin, coma.
I looked over at the bed, and there he was, looking at me. Piercing blue eyes and a smile on his face.
"It was the best night of my life," he whispered.
I stood up, walked to the bed, wrapped my arms around him, and whispered, "Even if it was Ridiculously Romantic?"
I inhaled deeply. He was all right.
"I love you," I whispered.
"I know, you told me that loud and clear that night."
I could only nod. I looked at him again, making sure he was ok. Someone cleared their throat. I turned around and saw the doctor.
Justin sighed, and before the doctor began to ask him any questions, he said, "I'm Justin Taylor Kinney, today is May 20th, and tomorrow it's Taylor and Kevin's birthday. No headache, no nausea, nothing, see." Justin flexed his hand. "No problem there either."
The doctor smiled.
"Good, we are keeping you overnight."
He finished writing something on the chart and said to me, "I can't convince you to go home?"
I shook my head. No, not even a million dollars could send me home now.
I took the phone, dialed Britin, and told Daphne he was awake… lucid and fine. I never got a chance to call anyone else.
Justin moved and made room for me on the hospital bed. I took him in my arms, and we both drifted into a much needed sleep.
It was ten when we finally left the hospital. It was around noon when we arrived home. The party with the kids was planned for 3:00.
I told Justin to take a nap. Around 2:00, I joined him in bed.
It was past 3:00 when Daphne knocked on the door and told us to go downstairs. Of course everyone was already there, and the 'family' figured out what we'd been doing upstairs.
We didn't say a word.
We tucked the children in around 9:00 and had a late dinner with the family. Daphne and Jennifer were serving the coffee, and Emmett had put on some music.
Justin stood up and extended his hand. Before long, everyone was dancing. I caught Jennifer's gaze on her son and smiled.
At the end of the song, Daphne called out that the ice cream would melt if we didn't come back to the table. I left the room for a minute and came back with two bottles of Champagne and glasses.
Everyone looked at me strangely.
I opened the bottles and poured the Champagne. Daphne passed the glasses.
Once everyone was served, I lifted my glass, and Justin said, "To the second best night of my life."
"To the best nights of our lives," I cheered back.
Emmett looked at Justin, and Justin only said, "I should have known back then that he loved me, but I lost a whole part of my life that night. I recovered it yesterday, and today, it's the best night of my life."
I leaned down and kissed him.
Sixteen years ago, I went to prom and told the person I loved how much I loved him, without saying a word,
Tonight, in my bed, I lowered my head, kissed his hair and told him, "I love you."
He was right; May 21st is now a good day.