The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 138: Justin’s Epiphany

Jean-Francois lay in Henri’s arms, thinking about everything he had learned about the guys today.   Greg and Cory’s experience with their Dad had shaken him to his core.   He couldn’t imagine how a parent could turn against their own flesh and blood.   It was in complete contrast to his mother, who had always been very accepting and supportive of him.   He had come out to her, when he was fourteen years old.  He had also come out to his cousin, Jean-Michael, at the same time.   It had been a good thing he had a safe harbor at home, because he didn’t have it in school.  

Jean-Francois hadn’t come out to anyone at school.  In fact, he had tried to hide the fact he was gay.  At some point, he had slipped up and word had got out he was gay.   The jocks at school had harassed him constantly, whenever Jean-Michael wasn’t around.

After he had graduated from Falls High School (École secondaire des Chutes), he met Henri through some friends.  He smiled as he remembered their first face to face meeting.

Jean-Francois (J.F. to his friends and family) stood in front of the mirror in his room, primping.   His dark brown hair was spiked, and he wore diamond studs (a gift from his mother).  He was very nervous about going out on his first blind date.  His friend, Martel, had set him up with Henri.   He wore tight-fitting jeans and a white mesh muscle shirt with an unbuttoned, blue plaid, long sleeve shirt over the top.  He had rolled up the sleeves of the shirt nearly to his elbows.  Jean-Michael had helped him shave off all of his body hair earlier in the day.   Jean-Michael had teased him about being a twink. 

His chocolate brown eyes met his cousin’s eyes in the mirror.  “Do I look okay?  I don’t’ want to look like a slut.”

 Jean-Michael looked at his cousin, and said, “J.F. you look great!  Stop worrying about how you look.  Henri already thinks you’re super hot from the photos you sent him!”

J.F. turned to his cousin, and said, “I want to make a good first impression.  What if he doesn’t like me?”

They heard the doorbell ring.  J.F. was off like he had been shot.  Jean-Michael followed him at a more sedate pace.   He arrived in the foyer, in time to see his Aunt Loren opening the door to admit Henri.

She said, “Welcome to our home, Henri.”

He replied, “Thank you, Ma’am.”  His face lit up with a huge smile, when he saw Jean-Francois.

J.F. came forward to take Henri’s hand.  “I’m Jean-Francois.”

Henri said, “I’m Henri Girard.”

“Come with me, please,” J.F. said, leading him into the front room.  He sat down on the loveseat, with Henri joining him.

Jean-Michael and Loren followed them into the front room, and seated themselves on the couch, opposite the two young men. 

Loren asked, “Henri, are you from around here?”

“Yes, I’m from Trois Rivieres,” he responded.   “I’m the oldest of three children.  I have two younger brothers.  My Mom and Dad are very Catholic, but are very open minded about gays.  I came out to them when I was in high school.

Loren stated, “How old are you?”

J.F. said, “I already told you how old he is, Mom.”

“I know, dear, but I’m just confirming what you said,” she said, smiling at Henri.

“I’m 22 years old.  I hope you don’t mind me dating your son, Mrs. Fortin.”

“Please call me Mom, Henri, and I’m fine with you dating my son,” Loren said.  “I just wanted to know more about you, before you take my most prized possession out on the town.”

Henri smiled.  “I promise to bring him home safe.”

Loren said, “I’m sure you will.”

J.F. stood up, and turned to pull Henri to his feet.  Henri liked the feel of J.F.’s small hands in his.  He gave J.F. a quick once over, and smiled, broadly, at his date.  J.F. returned Henri’s smile.  He liked what he saw.  He had already given Henri the once over, as he waited to introduce himself to him in the foyer.  Henri was everything he thought he would be – tall, dark, and extremely handsome.

He was brought back to the present by Henri’s soft touch on his cheek.  “What are you thinking about, J.F.?”

“I was thinking about the first time I saw you,” J.F. responded, reaching up to take Henri’s hand in his.

Henri smiled, “I’m glad to see you smile.”

J.F. said, “I’ve been thinking about Jean-Michael’s roommates.  They have been through so much.”

Henri said, “Yes, they have.  I think they can help you, J.F., because they know the pain you’re going through.”

J.F. nodded his head in agreement.  “Yes, they do know.”

Henri said, “I think Peyton has been through some terrible things.  I was watching him, as Justin narrated his story.  It’s easy to see he is still suffering from what happened to him.”

J.F. said, “I sensed that, as well.  Jonathan is very protective of him, just as you are of me.”

Henri smiled, and said, “You’re right, J.F., I did notice how Jonathan and Peyton interact with each other.”

“Whatever happened, it must be recent, because no one spoke of it, tonight,” J.F. said.  “I think all of them are protecting Peyton.”

Henri thought for a moment about what J.F. had said about Peyton.  He went over in his mind the little things he had noticed about Peyton and Jonathan, specifically how the others acted around them.  He had overheard Greg asking Peyton how he was doing.  He hadn’t heard the response, but when he walked into the room, they had suddenly stopped talking.

“I think you might be right, but I think it’s because Peyton is very fragile and needs to be sheltered,” Henri said.  He explained what he had overheard.

J.F. said, “When I first met Peyton, I wanted to reach out and help him.  I could see he was suffering much more than I am.”

They both went silent for a while, until they both started talking at the same time.  Henri laughed, and said, “You go first.”

J.F. kissed him, and said, “Thank you, mon cher.  Je t’aime (I love you).  I think we should move here.  Maybe we can even become roommates here.  Justin told me he and his husband want to move to their own place.”

Henri looked at J.F. in surprise, and asked, “Why do you want to move here, J.F.?”

“I just feel comfortable here.  I think we could be happy here,” J.F. said.

“What will we do?” Henri asked.  “I don’t have work, and neither do you.”

“We can find work.  Justin is a businessman and I’m sure he has connections,” J.F. said, confidently.

“I don’t know if we should take advantage of our friends in that way,” Henri said.

“Let’s, at least, ask them what they think,” J.F. said.

“Okay, but I don’t like the idea of leaning on them for a job.  If we can find our own work, I’ll agree to move here.  Plus, did you think about what we need to do, before we can move here?” Henri asked.

“Yes, I have.  We can apply for student visas, just like Jean-Michael.  I would like to go to school, here,” J.F. said.

Henri looked at J.F., and asked, “Are you okay, J.F.?  I think you’re not in your right mind.”

J.F. laughed.  “I’m in my right mind, Henri, I assure you.”

J.F.’s laugh was a good indication he was feeling better, but Henri wasn’t sure he was quite sane, at the moment.  Moving to Minneapolis was the last thing he wanted to do.  He wanted them to be married, first, before they made any big decisions about where they would live.

He ran his hands over J.F.’s baby smooth skin.  J.F. grinned, and said, “That tickles.”

“Good, I want to tickle you somewhere else,” Henri said, kissing his lover.

J.F. looked deeply into Henri’s eyes.  “I want you in me, now.”

As he complied with J.F.’s request, Henri said, “I love you, Jean-Francois.”

Jonathan held Peyton in his arms, and kissed him.  “What do you think about our friends from Quebec?”

Peyton rubbed noses with his husband, and said, “I like them, especially Jean-Michael.  He’s really hot.”

Jonathan said, “I agree.  He seems like a pretty standup guy, but what about his cousin, J.F.?”

“I think Justin is right about him.  J.F. needs a lot of support right now, just as I do.”

Jonathan asked, “Are you saying you want to share your experiences with them, like Justin, Greg and Cory did?”

Peyton pondered the question for a few minutes.  “I’m not sure about that.  I wanted us to start fresh, without the issue of my jail time hanging over our heads.  I’m afraid sharing my experiences would only serve to remind me of what I want to leave behind.”

Jonathan said, “I think we should wait, Babe.  We don’t know these guys very well, and you don’t know how they will react.”

Peyton said, “You’re right, as always, Jonathan.”  He kissed his husband, and said, “I love you.”

“Speaking of love, I want you to make love to me, Peyton,” Jonathan said.  “It’s your turn to fuck me.”

Peyton smiled, running his hand over Jonathan’s six-pack abs.  “It would be my pleasure.”

Afterward, they lay in each other arms, enjoying the euphoria that follows fantastic sex with someone you love! 

A short time later, Peyton asked, “Are you still awake?”

Jonathan mumbled, sleepily, “Yes, Babe.”

“We need to make an appointment with Dr. Hansen, tomorrow,” Peyton said.

Jonathan said, “Okay.”

“All the talk about being abused and beaten has brought back bad memories,” Peyton said.

Jonathan, now wide awake, said, “Do you need your sleeping pills?”

Peyton nodded his head, as his body started to tremble and shake from the memories of being beaten and sexually assaulted flooding his mind.  Jonathan got up, and left the room.   He made his way to the kitchen.   He was surprised to see the light was on.  He entered the kitchen to find that J.F. sitting at the kitchen table. 

J.F. looked up, and his eyes went wide, as he looked over Jonathan’s naked body.   Jonathan smiled, “Do you like what you see?”

J.F. nodded his head, and grinned.  “Yes, you look wonderful.  Do you guys always run around without your clothes?”

Jonathan said, “I can’t speak for the other guys; but we aren’t nudists, so we don’t walk around naked all the time.  We sleep naked and I didn’t stop to pull on my underwear.  I didn’t expect anyone to still be awake.  Peyton is having a rough night, so I came down to get his medication and a glass of water.”

J.F. asked, “What happened to Peyton?”

Jonathan said, “You will have to ask Peyton, but I can tell you it was as bad as what you heard from the others.  Peyton is still recovering from what happened.”

Jonathan walked over to the sink.   He opened a cupboard and grabbed a glass and turned on the cold water, letting it run a minute, before filling the glass.  He opened another cupboard and retrieved a prescription bottle.  Opening it, he shook two pills into his hand.  He put the lid back on, and returned the bottle to the cupboard.

J.F. admired Jonathan’s bubble butt and well-muscled shoulders and back.  Jonathan turned around and met his eyes.  He smiled, and said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

J.F. said, “Thank you for the fantasy material.”

Jonathan laughed.  “I’m glad to be of service.”

He padded back up the stairs, and entered their room.  Peyton looked up, as Jonathan turned, sat the glass on the nightstand and turned on the lamp.  Peyton covered his eyes with his hand.  “Here’s your meds, Babe.”

Peyton sat up, taking the pills and the glass of water from his husband.  He tossed the pills in his mouth, and drank enough water to wash the pills down his throat.  “Thanks, Babe.”

Jonathan took the glass from Peyton’s hand, and sat it on the table.  He shut off the light and climbed into bed, taking Peyton into his arms. 

“It’s okay, Peyton,” he said, gently rubbing Peyton’s back.   Peyton’s trembling gradually subsided, as the medicine helped him relax.  He drifted off to sleep, feeling safe and warm in his husband’s strong arms.

J.F. sat at the kitchen table after Jonathan left, thinking he needed to stop feeling sorry for himself, after hearing about his friends’ stories.  It was comforting to him to know that Jean-Michael’s roommates not only were gay, they also understood what he was going through.  For the first time, he really felt there were people in the world he could relate to, who had similar life experiences.  He didn’t feel so alone, as he had for so long, despite Henri’s constant love. 

His therapist didn’t really understand the trauma he had suffered.  He helped J.F. learn coping mechanisms, but he just didn’t get it.  As much as Henri wanted to understand, he didn’t get it, either.  Meeting Jean-Michael’s roommates and hearing their experiences convinced him he could beat the depression sapping his strength and his will to live.  Watching them interact with their spouses, J.F. learned they had successfully been able to form a close bond with another individual.  J.F. had been trying to remain close to his boyfriend, but he just couldn’t seem to keep from retreating from the world, including Henri.

J.F. decided he wanted to have what his new friends had – a loving marriage to a wonderful husband.  He knew it would be hard work for him, but he was determined to make things work between him and Henri.  He stood up from the table, feeling much better.  His decision gave him hope and a reason to fight back, to live his life the way he wanted it to be.  He climbed the stairs, and entered the bedroom where his cousin and his boyfriend were still sleeping.  He walked, quietly, over to the bed and climbed in beside Henri.  Henri automatically reached for J.F., pulling him close.  J.F. drifted off to sleep, with his head on Henri’s chest.

The next day, J.F. woke up to find he was alone in bed.  He looked over to see that Jean-Michael was also gone.  He wondered what time it was.  He rolled out of bed, and walked over to pick up his cell phone off of the dresser.  He looked at it, in surprise.  It was nearly one in the afternoon.  He had slept nearly 12 hours.

He stretched and yawned, widely.  He walked into the en suite, and looked at himself in the mirror.  He noted the big black circles around his eyes had receded significantly.  It had been weeks since he had been able to sleep through the night.  He felt like a huge burden had been lifted off of his shoulders.  He quickly showered and dressed for the day.  He walked down the stairs and entered the kitchen, where he found Justin seated at the kitchen table.

Justin looked up from the book he was reading, and said, “Good afternoon, J.F.”

J.F. smiled.  “Hey, where is everyone?”

“They went out for pizza.  I volunteered to stay behind, and wait for you to wake up.  I figured we could use the time to talk,” Justin said.  He stood up, and walked over to the fridge, pulling out a ham and turkey sandwich and some milk.  He brought them to the table.  “I made you a sandwich, when I heard you get into the shower.  I’ve already eaten, since I didn’t know when you would wake up.”

J.F. said, “Thank you.”

Justin walked over and retrieved a glass for the milk, and turned to hand it to J.F.  “You’re welcome.”

J.F. said, “I’d like to say grace.”

Justin sat down and joined hands with J.F.  When J.F. finished, Justin asked, “How are you feeling?”

J.F. replied, “I’m much better than I was yesterday.  Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.  I feel honored you would trouble yourself to relive those memories, to help me get a grip on myself.”  He took a bite of the sandwich, and said, “Hmm…this is good.”

Justin said, “I’m glad you like it.  I’m happy our experiences have helped you to understand you’re not alone, and we know what you’re going through.”

J.F. nodded his head, as he chewed another bite of his sandwich.  He swallowed and took a drink of cold milk.  “You guys are so awesome!  I never imagined I would meet anyone I could use as a role model, until I met you guys.”

“What about Henri?” Justin asked, with raised eyebrows.

“Henri is wonderful and I love him very much, but he doesn’t get it, sometimes.  You, Greg and Cory know what it’s like to be beaten for being gay.  You know the impact it has on a person, both mentally and emotionally.  I’ve watched how you guys have been able to cope with what happened to you.  I want me and Henri to have what you guys have.”

“What is it you think we have?” Justin asked, raising an eyebrow.

“You guys have loving and caring relationships with your spouses.  You have managed to overcome the fear and the paralyzing depression that comes from being the victim of abuse,” J.F. said.  He saw Justin’s doubtful look, and paused.  “At least, it appears that way.”

Justin said, “We have come a long way; but, don’t be fooled into thinking everything has magically returned to the way it was before Alex started abusing me.  As for Greg and Cory, they have rough days, just as I do.”

J.F. said, “I didn’t mean to imply things were back to normal, but you guys have managed to have meaningful relationships with your husbands.  I’m so afraid of letting Henri get close to me.”

Justin said, “Don’t drive Henri away, J.F.  He loves you very much.”

J.F. said, “I know.  That’s why I agreed to marry him.  I’m afraid I’m too broken to be a husband for him.”

“You’re not broken, J.F.  You’re just bruised a little,” Justin said, looking deeply into his eyes.  “I can sense you’re much stronger than you think.  Don’t let your fears keep you from having a wonderful marriage and a great family with the one you love.” 

He paused, rubbing his chin.  He wondered if he dared share his deepest spiritual experiences.  He knew how most gay guys felt about God and religion; but, despite his own negative experiences, he had a deep abiding faith in God. 

He decided to risk offending J.F., and asked, “Are you religious?”

J.F. looked at Justin, wondering where this question was going.  “I was raised Catholic.  I still go to mass with my mother every Sunday.  Mom is religious, but she accepts me for who I am.”

“After my parents disowned me, I was angry with God.  I blamed Him for my parents’ actions, as well as my brother’s.  I stayed as far away from anything religious for a long time.  While I lived with Alex, I started to read the Bible, again.  I was convinced being beaten by Alex was God’s way of punishing me for being gay.  Alex, also, had me convinced it was all my fault he was gay, and I deserved to be beaten.”

“So, how did reading the Bible help you?  Didn’t it just make you feel worse about yourself?” J.F. asked.

Justin shook his head.  “It helped me to remember how I felt when I was younger.  I was 14 when I did something I’m not proud of, and I felt a lot of remorse.  I mean I really felt bad.  My parents had taught me to pray to God for forgiveness of my sins.  So, one night, I got down on my knees to pray.   I really poured out my soul to God in heartfelt prayer, asking for his forgiveness.  After a while, I heard a voice say, ‘I forgive you, my son.’  I’ve never felt as happy as I did that night, knowing God had answered my prayer.  I learned that night there is a God and He knew who I was.”

J.F. looked intently at Justin’s face.  He could see the tears in his eyes and heard the sincerity in his voice.  “So, if you really knew God was aware of you, why did you think he was punishing you?”

Justin said, “I had been taught all of my life being a homosexual was an abomination in the sight of God.   My father often expounded on the Scriptures that seemed to condemn homosexuality.  I was totally convinced I was damned for having sex with a guy.  I was so sure of it, I felt Alex was justified in beating me.”

“I kind of feel that way, too.  The Catholic Church teaches much the same things about gays as the Baptist Church,” J.F. said.   “I’ve struggled with how they view gays.”

“My parents taught me we are all children of God, and He loves each of us.   They also taught us there isn’t a single person who doesn’t commit sin.  Dad used to say we were all sinners in God’s eyes, but He loves us anyway,” Justin said.  “After I moved here to live with the guys, I was at a point where I felt I wasn’t of any value to anyone.  I attempted to hang myself, but Glenn found me before I did any real damage to myself.  He helped me down, and the guys got me the help I needed.  But, I still felt God hated me.  One evening, Glenn came to my room to check on me, and we had a great talk.  He reminded me nearly all religions teach we are children of God.  Glenn challenged me to seek out God to get an answer of my own and to find out if God loved me.”

Justin choked up, and couldn’t speak.  J.F. waited until he had his emotions under control, before asking, “What did you do?”

“After Glenn left my room, I got on my knees and begged God to let me know if he loved me.  I didn’t expect an answer, because I knew God hated me.  I was totally overwhelmed, when I heard His voice, ‘I love you, my son.’  I had a feeling of peace come over me, and I knew I mattered to God; and, even though I might not be perfect, He still loves me.”

J.F. had tears in his eyes, as Justin finished speaking.  “Do you really believe God loves us?”

“I do.  I talked to the pastor at our church, and he confirmed what I had been taught as a child - God loves us all.  He counseled me to forgive Alex and to forgive myself.  He said it was the only way I would truly begin to heal,” Justin said.  “It has taken me a long time to forgive Alex for what he did to me, but I’m finally there, I think.  I’ve written to Alex, telling him I forgive him, and I want him to lead a happy life.” Justin said.

“What did Brian say to that?” J.F. asked.

“He wasn’t happy about it, but I’ve felt so much better, since then.  I don’t have to worry about that, anymore.  But most of all, I feel like I can love who I am, now.  I couldn’t do that, before,” Justin said.

J.F. said, “My therapist is working with me on my self-esteem issues.  She says most of my problems stem from my own religious beliefs.  She has been encouraging me to rethink some of those things.”

Justin said, “I know how hard that is.  Glenn was the one who helped me to get back to basics, and to remember I’m a child of God, just like you are.”

J.F. finished his sandwich, and said, “Thank you for the food, and the encouragement.  My week here has been a huge blessing in my life.  I’ve been very depressed for weeks.”

Justin said, “Both Jean-Michael and Henri hinted at that.”

J.F. met Justin’s eyes.  “I know Henri has been very worried about me.”

Justin said, “Let him take care of you, J.F.  I’ve learned to let my husband take care of me, as well as my friends.  I’ve learned to trust them.  You must learn to do the same.”

J.F.’s eyes were bright with tears.  “I know I need to learn to trust Henri, but I’m afraid to let anyone get close to me.”

Justin nodded his head.  “I understand that part.  I had some pretty high walls built around myself, after Alex was put in jail.  I didn’t dare trust anyone.  Susan and her sons were great friends, but I couldn’t let them into my inner-sanctum, so to speak.”

J.F. asked, “How did you manage to break down the barriers you had built around yourself?”

“I had two very persistent teenage boys who wouldn’t leave me alone,” Justin said, smiling at the memory.  “Adam and Robbie had to be the horniest guys around, and they wanted sex every minute of the day and night.  Their desire for me was like balm on a wound.  The most important thing to me was knowing their lust for my body was coupled with an even greater love for me as a person.  They knew exactly what I needed, and when I needed it.”

“Henri told me last night he wants to do for me what the guys have done for you,” J.F. said.

Justin smiled, and said, “Then, I think you should let him.”

J.F. nodded his head.  “I’ll try.”

“Do more than try, Jean-Francois.  It’s going to require everything you’ve got, so you can’t just give it a try,” Justin said.

J.F. held Justin’s gaze, and said, “I’ll do more than try, Justin.”

“Good, because I intend to hold you to it.  I expect a phone call every day from you to report how you’re doing,” Justin said.

J.F. looked at him in surprise.  “Do you really expect me to call you every day?”

“Yes, I do,” Justin said, seriously.  “I want a report every single day, no exceptions.”

“You’re beginning to sound like my mother,” J.F. complained.

“I’m not your mother, but I expect an honest accounting of how you’re doing, each and every day,” Justin said.  “I want you to evaluate yourself, and provide me with a brief synopsis of what you did during the day to strengthen your relationship with Henri, as well as how you’re working to maintain a positive attitude toward life.”

“Is that what you do?” he asked.

“Yes, I do.  I report to Adam and Robbie.  They are my guardian angels.  That’s what I call them,” Justin said.

“So, you’re offering to be my guardian angel?” J.F. said.

“Yes, I am; however, I won’t be the same kind of guardian angel they have been for me.  Their guardianship included a fantastic sexual relationship.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to provide you with that kind of physical support, but you have Henri for that part,” Justin said.

J.F. looked disappointed.  “But I thought you were still intimate with them.”

Justin shook his head.  “We’re not physically intimate, anymore.  Brian has taken over that part of their guardianship.  We tried the foursome thing a couple of times, but we’ve found it works better for us to maintain a monogamous relationship with our spouses.”

“Was it because Brian was jealous of them?” J.F. asked.

Justin nodded his head.  “Yes, and he still is, but only to a small degree.  That is why he wants us to move into our own home.”

“How do Robbie and Adam feel about Brian?” J.F. asked.

“They’re okay with him, because he’s my husband.  We lived as a threesome long enough for them to know I will always love them,” Justin said.

“They don’t resent Brian’s jealously?” J.F asked, curiously.

“I didn’t say that,” Justin said, smiling.  “But, they have each other, and I have Brian.”

J.F. said, “Does Brian’s family know he’s married to you?”

“No, they don’t.  Brian’s family owns several different companies in Hyderabad.   Two of them were associated with computer technology:   one is a technical support company for several different companies here in the United States, and the other is developing new applications for various software companies.   The others are textile manufacturers – mainly clothing.” 

Justin paused for moment, before continuing, “One of Brian’s gay friends, Vijay, was discovered having sex with his boyfriend by his family’s private investigators.   They tried to have them both murdered.  Brian overheard his father talking with Vijay’s parents about the shame he had brought on the family and they thought they had no choice but to hire someone to kill them.   His father agreed, and said he would do the same if he ever found out he had a gay son in the family.  Brian warned Vijay; so he and his boyfriend were able to escape and move to England.  So, as you can imagine, he has never told them about me.  He’s afraid they would not only disown him…they would send someone to murder us.”

“That’s pretty serious stuff,” J.F. said.

Justin said, “It’s pretty sobering, to think his parents would hire an assassin to kill us.  They are filthy rich and can pretty much do as they please.  They keep pressuring Brian to return home, but he won’t, as long as we’re married.”

J.F. asked, “Aren’t you afraid that Brian will up and leave you someday?”

Justin shook his head.  “To be honest, I’ve never given it a thought.  I believe Brian loves me enough he would never leave me; but, one never knows what will happen in the future.  It is one of those things I prefer not to think about.  It’s how I manage to cope, J.F.  I don’t worry about things that may or may not happen.  Otherwise, I would be a basket case.”

J.F. nodded his head, in understanding.  “I can see, now, how you keep your focus on the present, so you don’t get overwhelmed by all that could happen.  I have an overactive imagination, and it gets me all worked up, because I start to worry about things that will never happen.”

They heard the guys returning from getting pizza.  Henri was the first one to enter the kitchen.  He smiled, when he saw his boyfriend.  He walked over to J.F., and pulled him to his feet, and into his arms.

“I missed you, J.F.  I hope you’re not mad at me for leaving you with Justin,” Henri said, worry creasing his brow.

J.F. kissed him, and said, reassuringly, “It’s okay, Henri.  I enjoyed talking with Justin.  I’m glad you went out with the boys.”

Henri smiled, relieved that J.F. wasn’t upset with him.  He felt this week with Jean-Michael and his roommates had been the best thing they could’ve done to get J.F. back on the road to recovery.  He released J.F., just as the rest of the guys appeared in the kitchen.

Brian immediately went over to Justin.  “Are you okay, Babe?”

Justin took Brian’s hand in his, and said, “I’m fine.”

J.F. said, “Brian, thank you for letting Justin stay behind with me.”

Brian looked over at J.F., and smiled.  “Justin said he needed to talk to you, alone.”

Justin said, “Thank you, Babe.  We had a good discussion.”

J.F. said, “Thank you for letting him be my therapist these last few days.”

Henri took J.F.’s hand in his, and looked around.  “J.F. and I would like to move in with you guys, if you everyone is okay with that.”

Jean-Michael said, “You guys could room with me, if you don’t mind the cramped quarters.”

Robbie and Adam looked at Justin and Brian.  Brian said, “I’m good with that, because Justin has promised to move into a home of our own by the end of summer.   Then, you guys could have our room.”

Greg said, “I’m good with that.   It would mean we wouldn’t have to find new roommates when Brian and Justin move out.”

Robbie spoke up, “I’m afraid you would still need to find new roommates, because Adam and I are going to move to Toronto at the end of this semester.”

“What will you do about school?” Greg asked.

“We’ve already applied for admission to the University of Toronto,” Adam said.  “We’ll stay with Zach and Todd, until the lease is up on our house.  Then, we’ll live next door to them.”

Cory asked, “Then, who will take your place?”

Robbie shrugged.  “We don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll be able to find some really cool guys to take our place.”

Brian said, “I think we can put the word out with the guys from the gay men’s chorus.”

Justin said, “I’ve already have someone in mind.”

Brian looked at his husband, and asked, “Who?”

“Mihail Velev,” Justin said.  “He’s from Bulgaria.”

Brian grinned.  “He’s really hot, and he’s on the swim team.”

Jean-Michael asked, “Is he single?”

Justin laughed.  “Yes, Jean-Michael, he’s single.”

Jean-Michael asked, “Can you introduce me to him?”

Justin said, “Sure, but you have to agree to audition for the gay men’s chorus.”

Jean-Michael looked at Justin in surprise.  “I’ve never thought about singing.”

“Do you know how to sing?” Brian asked.

“Yes, I was in the choir in high school,” Jean-Michael said.

“Well, then, it’s settled,” Justin said.  “We’ll introduce you to him next week.  The auditions are at the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church.”

Jean-Michael grinned.  “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Justin said, laughing at Jean-Michael’s excitement.

They spent the rest of the afternoon talking about their plans for the next few months.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Previously published as Our Band of Brothers Chapter Three