There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. ~ Louis L'Amour
15 months later….
"No!" Gus wiggled in his fathers lap and folded his arms across his chest while mustering up the most intractable expression he could on his handsome little face.
"Sonny boy, listen to me. Are you listening?" Brian tried once again to reason with his son, which he was finding was very difficult. His son was way to willful and stubborn. He wondered where he inherited those traits from. Probably his mother.
"No!" Gus once again said emphatically.
Brian pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand while his other hand remained wrapped around Gus's waist, steadying him on his lap.
"What's the problem?" Joan said, coming up to her son and grandson, witnessing the clash of wills from across the lawn. It was a scene so familiar to her.
Brian looked up at his mother.
"Gus doesn't want to go back to kindergarten." He informed her.
Joan frowned at the boy, though it did not reach her eyes. She found very little to be miserable about these days.
Her health had improved over the past year. The pills had stopped the progression of her disease, and though she now had to wear a wig, since her hair was all gone, she felt much better, most days, and was able to be with her grandchildren.
It was a year of healing for her, both physically and emotionally. She and Brian had been able to forge a 'real' relationship.
It started with their common love for the children, but somewhere along the way, it turned into their love for each other. She had always loved her son, though she never knew how to show it, and Brian had come to love her. Though she was not going to win any mother of the year awards in this lifetime, she was content with the fact that Brian had true affection for her, and was happy she was with them, sharing in the joy of being part of his family.
"Well I'm not surprised. You and Lindsey spoil him." Joan announced.
"Mother, you are not helping the situation here." Brian complained.
Joan sighed. "Why don't you want to go back to school Gus? You've only been there two weeks. And just last week you were so excited about the field trip your class is going on. What happened?" Joan inquired.
"Mrs. Beenard is a tattle tale! She told Mama and Mommy that I pushed Robbie." Gus said pouting.
"Well, did you?" Joan asked in the Kinney 'no bullshit' manner they were famous for.
"Well he pushed me first!" Gus said defensively.
Joan threw her hands up. "Stubborn as a mule! Why am I not surprised? Now you know what I had to go through with you!" She announced.
Fran walked up to the threesome sensing trouble. It was never good when three Kinney's congregated. One was bad enough, three was explosive.
"Hey Gussie, you're missing the party! Don't you want a ride on the pony?" She asked.
Joan practically sneered at her. "You know Fran, it's a children's birthday party. Could you NOT find something more suitable to wear?" She asked accusingly.
Fran looked down at her attire. She was wearing bright red pedal pusher pants, with a bright yellow short sleeve blouse that she had tied in a knot just above her belly button. She shrugged not seeing the problem. Even Emmett thought it was a conservative look for her.
"When are you going to accept the fact I'm not Marry Poppins Joan! If it were up to you I'd be wearing a habit!" She defended herself.
"I don't want a pony ride!" Gus interrupted Joan and Fran's banter.
It was often like that with the two of them, but Joan had to admit, Fran turned out to be one hell of a Nanny. Often times, Brian and Justin turned to her for help with one of the children. She truly had a way with teenagers. But what surprised Joan the most was how good she was with babies.
Fran looked to Brian. Brian shrugged.
"It seems Gus doesn't want to go to school anymore because Mrs. Beenard told his mommies that he pushed Billy." Brian explained.
"Robbie! Geesh Dad, you never get names right!" Gus complained and rolled his eyes.
The adults laughed.
"Oh, well then Brian don't send him there anymore. We'll just find him another school. Of course Gus, you'll have to leave all your friends behind. And you'll have to miss the field trip… Oh, and you won't be able to be dropped off at Daddy J's, art studio after school anymore, cause the new school will probably be to far away…."Fran trailed off.
Gus's eyes grew wider in horror with each of Fran's prediction.
"Well then, that's all settled!" Brian said picking up on Fran's ploy.
"We'll get you enrolled in the new school on Monday. You won't ever have to see your old school or friends again." Brian said.
"Um, I don't know…"Gus faltered.
"What's the matter sonny boy?" Brian asked, desperately trying to hide his smile.
"I don't want to miss the field trip Dad. And you know Daddy J will be mad if I don't show up for my art lessons. Maybe we can talk about the new school after the field trip?" Gus suggested.
Brian laughed at his boys' manipulations. Now that he knew he got from his mother.
"Ok sonny boy. What ever you want." He said then kissed the top of his head.
Gus smiled, kissed his dad, and hopped off his lap to take his turn on the pony.
"Come on Joan, lets go get some cake before it's all gone." Fran said.
Joan rolled her eyes but followed.
"Hey stud, you hiding out?" Justin came up behind Brian and put his arms around his neck.
"Hmmm.. Nice thought, but no such luck. Gus had a little 'moment." He said turning around to his lover and pulling him down into the patio chair with him.
Justin shifted so that he was facing Brian. "Moment over?" He asked seductively.
"Keep looking at me like that Sunshine and I'll drag over to those rose bushes and fuck your brains out." Brian threatened lustfully and nipped at Justin's bottom lip.
Justin laughed. "I wouldn't mind the roses, but I think the thorns will be hell on my ass." He purred.
"Fuck the thorns, I'LL be hell on your ass." Brian growled and pulled Justin in for a heart-stopping kiss.
"Ok you two, knock it off. There are children here. A few of them are yours in fact. Actually more than a few." Rena said wobbling over to them.
Brian reluctantly released his blonde and turned to his sister.
"You know Re, I just had a brilliant idea for a campaign for John's new Birth control pill. It will just feature a picture of you holding up the disc of pills with the words, "Cock blocker" written underneath.' Brian quipped.
"haa hahh. Very funny." Rena said.
"Hey, no picking on the pregnant women." John said coming up behind Rena.
"What do you mean 'women?" Brian asked.
Rena and John, having just gotten married 6 months ago, were already expecting their first child. The procedure she had apparently worked. Rena was 4 months pregnant.
Her wedding cost him a fucking fortune, but he didn't care. It was truly a grand affair. He refused for John or Rena to pay for any of it, feeling it was his responsibility as it was his responsibility, and honor, to walk her down the aisle and give her away, according the ritual of the Catholic church. It was the first time Brian Fucking Kinney shed a tear in public. In a fucking church no less! He had to spend the next three nights cleansing himself of that lesbianic moment carousing the floors of Babylon 7.
"Shit! I thought she told him." John said to Rena.
"Who told me what?" Brian asked again.
Justin got up from his lap.
"PLEASE tell me you knew nothing about this." Brian asked.
Justin gave him a face. "Fuck no!" He said.
"Calm down! Shane wanted to tell you herself, but not till after the party. She's pregnant again." Rena said.
"Oh my God, that's fantastic! Where is she?" Justin asked scanning Rena's expansive beautifully manicured back yard.
It truly was the perfect place to have the children's first birthday party. Currently, it looked like a marvelous carnival with colorful banners and clowns, and ponies. And the weather couldn't have been more cooperative. It was a warm sunny fall September day with intervals of soft breezes breaking through.
"There she is!" Justin announce spotting her over at the punch table talking to Emmett and James.
Brian put his hand on Justin's arm, stopping him from calling out to her.
"Let her tell us in her own time." Brian said.
Justin smiled and turned back to Rena. "Adam must be ecstatic!" He said.
"He is. But today is just for Anna, Maria and Andy. They don't want anything to take away from their special day. It's not everyday a kid turns one you know." Rena said.
"Speaking of the prince and princess, where are they? Last time I saw our babies Nana and your mother practically ripped them from my arms to show off to some waspish relatives of yours." Brian snorted.
"Oh leave them be. It's the very first time my mother is a grandmother, and my grandmother is a great grandmother. Didn't you know this is more about them, then it is about our children?" Justin teased.
It was true. Everyone in the family took special pride in their babies. It came as a shock to everyone when Lucy delivered twins. Fraternal twins. One girl, who looked like an angel with her blond curly hair and cherub cheeks, and no Brian was NOT bias just because she was the spitting image of Justin, and a boy, who was more handsome than Brian could ever dream of being with his piercing hazel eyes and dark auburn hair. Some said he was the spitting image of Brian, but Brian knew he could never be that good looking.
They named their children Andy, as promised to Lucy, and in memory of his beloved brother, and Maria, in honor of the woman who raised him. At first, he thought his mother would take offense, but she didn't. She was very happy Brian named the little girl after the woman who was able to give her son the comfort she was not able to.
As fate would have it, Shane and Lucy went into labor the same day. Shane gave birth to a beautiful baby girl they named Anna. Today, the three babies were celebrating their first birthday.
It had been a blissful, stressful, sleepless year, one that Brian and Justin would gladly relive over and over again given the chance. Fran was truly amazing with the babies. And Lizzy was the ultimate mothers helper. Joan was the doting grandmother and Johnny, Peter and Jagger each learned how to change diapers. Even Brian changed a diaper or two, though only in the privacy of their loft with Justin there. He had his image to uphold after all.
Viv, Tom and Margot flew in when Shane and Lucy gave birth and stayed three months. Brian relented when they insisted on taking the twins to New York to buy each the new Glamajama haute couture line of baby clothes. Provided of course that he tag along. He had to admit, he actually enjoyed Viv and Margot's company. Yes, they were vicious cunts, but vicious cunts that knew how to shop.
As promised, after a six-month separation period, Lucy and her children were once again part of their lives. It was hard on Lucy those first few months, but God bless the Munchers, (did he really just think that?) they were an amazing support system for her. Lucy was now engaged to Mark. Soon, Brian new, he would be another addition to their extended family.
Emmett and James had moved in with each other 3 months ago and were now an official couple. Brian never thought he saw Em happier. And James was finally comfortable in his own skin, and had come to terms with his own ugly past. Emmett was truly a soothing balm to James. Brian was very happy for them both.
Ted and John's brother Robert had also moved in together. Though that was no surprise to anyone. Brian thought they were perfect for each other. Robert was deaf, and Theodore boring as shit. Theodore was smiling way too much at work these days Brian mused. He'd have to find a way to torture the man. Hey, a man had to have his hobbies…
Mikey and Ben had registered with Angelmatchers, the same agency Brian and Justin went to find their surrogate and was scheduled to meet with a prospective surrogate next week. Of course Michael would be the donor.
Ben was doing amazingly well these days. Still no viral load detection and his t-cells were good. The cocktails were really working for him. Remington pharmaceutical was just months away from launching a new anti-viral drug that would help HIV patients' immune system block the AIDS virus. It was good news for Ben, but not Vic.
They were still a long way off from finding a cure for AIDS. Vic's health seemed to be deteriorating, Brian feared, though Vic gave no sign he was feeling ill. Brian looked over to where he stood, snapping away photos of the guests. He and Deb went out when the babies were born and bought new cameras and video recorders. They were the family's official photographers. Everyone in their extended family had tons of pictures of the babies. Vic was pretty good with a camera. The pictures were great.
Of course they couldn't' hold a candle to Justin's paintings. The loft, and his studio, "The T.K. School for Young Artists", which already had twenty-five students registered for the fall semester, were filled with paintings of their children. There was one in particular though that was Brian's favorite. It was a portrait of him and Justin, holding the twins, with all their other children standing behind them. It was a fucking Norman Rockwell painting, but Brian liked it. A lot.
Everyone loved the painting so much, that when Justin first revealed it to them, it brought up the discussion of Lizzy, Jagger, Peter and Johnny's guardianship. Justin had wanted to adopt all the children, but was reluctant to bring the subject up with the children. He didn't want to offend the memory of their parents. Brian decided to broach the topic one night as they were looking at Justin's newest creation. The family portrait.
I"Sunshine you outdid yourself this time." Brian said
"We really do look like a family, don't we?" Johnny commented.
Brian looked at all the kids gathered.
"We ARE a family." He said.
"In fact, Justin and I would like to ask you children a very important question." He ventured bluntly.
"Brian…" Justin started to object; afraid it would upset the children.
"No, Justin, it's what we want." Brian said.
"Dude, you're freaking us out, spill." Peter said.
Brian took a deep breath. "With no disrespect to either of your parents, my sister Claire, or my Uncle Aidan, it is our desire to adopt all of you. We want to make us a family legally. If you don't want to, we'll understand. No matter what, we are, and always will be family. We just want to make it official. Look at it this way, you'll all then be entitled to fight over our estate when we die." Brian said.
Jagger snickered at that.
"Hey, it's cool with us." Jagger said speaking for himself and Lizzy. She nodded her consent.
"We never knew our father, and you and J have been like fathers to us. We'll never forget our mother. Though for different reasons." Jagger snarled that last part.
Lizzy remembered her mother fondly, choosing, as she always did, to recall the good things and not the bad. Jagger however, was still very bitter. His memories of his mother were of drugs, booze and men that constantly took precedence over her own children.
"Dude, do you really think I would want to keep my fathers name?" Peter said.
Justin's eyes glazed up at Peter's admission. It had been a while since the subject of Peter's abuse at his fathers' hands was broached. Peter still went to therapy, but his sessions were cut to just once a month now. He'd been doing remarkably well. Though Justin was sure it was due mostly to Emmett's influence, and the support of his family. Peter finally felt safe, and secure. Not threatened any more by men, especially gay men.
Johnny just ran up to Brian and hugged him tightly as tears streamed down his face. Poor little guy never felt wanted. Claire had always favored Peter. Probably because she knew what his father did to him, and felt guilty over not being able to do anything about it. If it weren't for Joan, Johnny would have received no attention. Except for the rare times Claire allowed Brian to see him. Brian had always had a soft spot for Johnny.
"I gather you approve too." Brian said hugging Johnny back./I
It was a very emotional day for them all, and today Jagger, Lizzy, Peter and Johnny all carried "Taylor-Kinney" surnames.
Yes, they were family. They were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, stealing each others desserts, hiding shampoo, baby sitting their siblings, borrowing money, locking each other out of their rooms, inflicting pain and then kissing it away in the same instant; loving, laughing, defending, and the sharing a common happiness, that only could be found in being part of a family.
Brian got up from the patio chair and grabbed Justin's hand.
"Come on Sunshine. Lets gather the troops. Time to go home." He said.
Justin smiled up brightly at Brian.
"What? No detour to the rose garden?" He asked suggestively.
Brian's nostrils flared lustfully. He bent over and captured Justin's mouth in a kiss that promised so much more.
"Re, do me a favor." He said breathless as he pulled his mouth from Justin's.
"Cover for us." He said dragging his blonde towards the gardens.
Rena threw her head back and laughed.
"You got it Bean!" She yelled to the retreating pair as they disappeared into her garden.
"You know we could follow them…" John suggested seductively.
Rena leaned back into him and sighed rubbing her belly.
"We could, but then someone is bound to come looking for us." She said smiling.
John rested his chin on top of Rena's head.
"You're probably right. Besides, they could use the time alone. Seven kids! Jesus, do you think they'll survive?" John mused out loud.
"Oh yes, they most certainly will survive. It's what they do best." Rena said.
Sitting on a cloud, smiling down at the beautiful image of his family and their happiness, sat Andy.
"So, are you ready now?" Gabriel the Angel came down to ask him.
Andy looked softly upon the Angel.
"I wish it were time. But I fear, I'm still needed." Andy said.
Gabriel smiled at the beautiful boy who chose to stay behind to watch over his siblings.
"Very well." He said then reached out to brush Andy's cheek.
Andy immediately felt the strength of all-powerful love that Gabriel's touch infused into his soul.
"Thank you." He said when Gabriel pulled his hand away.
The Angel smiled then turned and ascended back up into Heaven.
He knew this young soul would need the strength that comes from pure love to be able to help the two souls down on earth in the years to come.
For indeed, there would come a time when once again Andy would have to intervene on behalf of his earthly family.