This story may occasionally include explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adult males.  If you are underage or it is illegal to view this for any reason, consider yourself warned.  If you find this material offensive, I have to wonder why you came here in the first place.

 

This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entirely a coincidence. As author, I retain all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me.  This work is copyright Fitz, 2013-2014.

 

I love to hear any feedback you have, be it positive or negative.  Send me an email with any comments or questions at movingonstory@gmail.com

 

My wonderful husband gets a shout out for being so supportive and allowing me to bounce ideas off of him. I would also like to thank my editor, David. All errors that remain are mine, and mine alone.

 

I also now have a mailing list. You can sign up for it at my website, www.movingonstory.weebly.com, or by emailing me.

 

~Fitz

 

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Chapter 11

 

I picked Zach up from school on Wednesday, and drove straight to the family psychologist's office. I had done my best to try to prepare Zach, but all I had to go on was the one session with Scott and me. I knew dynamics would be very different with Zach, but I really didn't have a good idea exactly what to expect.

Unlike me, Scott only had to go from the office to the psychologist, so I wasn't surprised when he was already in the waiting area. I was planning on sitting near Scott, but with the way Zach tried to burrow into me when he saw him, I decided to sit further away. Despite being eight, Zach immediately crawled up in my lap.

"You know you're going to have to sit in your own seat when we go inside, right?" I asked him quietly. He just nodded in response.

We waited about ten minutes before a young, blond woman, probably in her mid-twenties entered the waiting room. She looked like a walking blond-joke, and I immediately questioned what Will had been thinking by recommending her.

"Hi, you must be Zach!" she said, bending down to Zach's level, and cheerfully extending her hand. Zach looked at me, and I could almost feel him roll his eyes before he reached out to accept the handshake.

"It's so very nice to meet you. My name is Dr. [Smith], but you can call me Janet."

For the record, I know I chose Smith for the second time to name a psychologist. Yet again, I don't remember her last name, and apparently I'm not good at creative writing. Good thing this is all grounded on what really happened, or I'd be screwed. Anyway, her last name isn't important anyway. From the beginning, she always insisted we all call her Janet.

"Now, why don't you have a seat here in the middle, and then your dads can sit on either side of you," she said, as she ushered us into her office and pointed to the middle of three chairs, each spaced about four feet apart.

"He's not my dad no more, and I don't wanna sit next to him," Zach said defiantly.

"Well, we'll definitely talk about that in a bit, but first we have to sit down. Tell you what, if you let me decide where everyone sits today, you can decide where everyone sits next time. Will that work?"

"There's gonna be a next time?"

"Yes, and you can either choose where you sit this time or next time, but not both."

"You mean you choose which chair I sit in?" I immediately caught his word choice, and knew he was up to something.

"Yes, but then next time, you can choose your chair."

"Ok, fine. I'll take the middle chair like you want me to choose."

"Great, then next week, you can sit in any chair you want."

"Awesome! Now I'm just going to move the chair you chose to the other side of Dad's. It's still the chair you chose for me, so I still get to choose next week."

Neither Scott nor I could suppress grins. I had to admit, I definitely felt a sense of pride that my boy had already outsmarted this lady. Of course, it raised even more doubts as to her effectiveness. She glanced back and forth between us, her mouth slightly agape, but I could tell she was processing what had just happened, and probably trying to determine what caused his outburst.

"Face it, doc, he got you," I told her.

"I guess he did. You know you're quite the little rascal for being so adorable looking," she told Zach with a smile.

Once we were all seated, she once again continued to focus on Zach.

"Before we get started, I just want to know if you know why you acted the way you did just now with the chair."

"I don't know. I just didn't want to sit next to him."

"That's ok, but you can just say that instead of acting disrespectful. In my room, it's very important to me that we all respect each other."

"Whatever," Zach mumbled, rolling his eyes.

"Now, Zach, do you know why you're here?"

"Yeah, Dad wants Scott to come back and live with us again, but I don't want him to."

"And why don't you want Scott to come back?"

"Because he is a fuck-face."

"I... um... well... That's not a very nice thing to say about someone, Zach. Why do you feel that way?"

"Because he promised he'd never leave, but then he did."

"So how does that make you feel?"

"I hate him."

"So you're mad at Scott?"

"Yeah, I hate him, like I told you."

"Again, Zach, that's not a very nice thing to say. Do you think that might hurt Scott's feelings?"

"So? He hurt mine."

"Does that make it right?"

"I don't care."

"But I do care. How about this? I want this room to be a safe place where all three of you feel ok talking about what you are thinking and how you are feeling. In order to do that, we all have to be honest with ourselves and with each other, but we also have to be respectful of the other people in the room. While you're in my room, I really want you to try not to say things that aren't nice about other people. You can say how they made you feel, but I don't want you to call them mean names or use angry words for them. Can you do that for me? I would really appreciate it if you could."

"Do I have to?"

"Zach, if you don't, you'll be grounded. She's an adult, and it's her room, so she gets to make the rules," I told him firmly. "We agreed to do what Dr. Janet says, and see if we can find a way to be a family again. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but it can only happen if you try. You and I are already going to be talking about your recent language."

"Ugh, fine," Zach responded grumpily, crossing his arms and sulking.

Then Janet changed the topic completely. Instead of continuing to talk about our family dynamics, she began to ask him basic questions about himself. It took me a moment to realize she was finding ways to be able to connect with him, and Zach was completely oblivious to it. Try as he might to stay hostile, within ten minutes, Janet had Zach in the palm of her hand. It was brilliant, and made me immediately dismiss any notion that she might not be competent.

With Zach now cooperative and on board, she got Scott and me involved in discussion as we began to talk about Mia. Like earlier in the week in our couple's session, she seemed to purposely steer away from points she thought would create the most division. We would have to deal with the issues eventually, but I understood that she was trying to create an environment where we felt safe discussing painful moments.

As the session finished, Janet told us that we had homework.

"All of you seem to know that Mia's death was responsible for setting everything in motion in your family. I want you three to put together items for a memory box. The items can be anything that holds emotional significance and reminds you of Mia. They can be anything at all a photo, a toy, a trinket, anything."

"Actually," I cut in, "the hospital put one together for us while Mia was in the NICU."

"Great, then you're already a step in the right direction. But I want each of you to pick three things that make you think of her and bring them, and that box with you next week. We'll go through the memory box together, and then add the items. You'll probably also have to get a larger box to hold everything. I'd recommend something made of fabric, in a print you think Mia would have liked. If you can't find one, you can always attach fabric to the outside of a box.

"Oh, and I have one more thing I want Zach to do."

"What's that?" Zach asked.

"I want you to spend time with Scott one day this week, just the two of you."

"Do I hafta? I don't wanna," he whined.

"Tell you what, bud," I told him. "What if Scott lets you hold onto his phone when you spend time with him? That way, all you have to do is call me if you're not happy, and I'll pick you up."

"Hmmmm..." he pondered, tapping his chin. "I guess that will work. Of course, if you bought me a phone like Tommy's mom did, then I wouldn't have to borrow his!"

"Nice try. We'll talk about it, but no promises."

"Ok, then, so everyone knows what needs to be done this week, right?" Janet asked rhetorically. "Scott, Noah, is it alright if you step outside for a minute? I'd like to have a few words with Zach. After that, I'll talk to you each individually for a moment. You're free to pass on what I tell you, if you want, because you're all going to hear the same basic thing."

Scott and I agreed, and waited for Zach. When he came out a few minutes later, he was wiping tears from his eyes. Immediately I knelt down.

"Is everything ok, bud? Did she upset you?"

"No. I think I upset me. She wants to see you next, Dad."

I went back inside and closed the door behind me.

"Ok, what the hell did you say to my son?" I asked, jumping on the offensive.

"Huh. I actually expected that reaction from Scott, not you. Of course parental instincts can override our usual personalities. Relax, Noah. All I did was ask him if he thought part of the reason he might be so mad at Scott is because he blames Scott for Mia's death. Rationally, he knows it was no one's fault, but he's looking for a scapegoat to blame all of the problems in his life on. He has a legitimate issue with Scott breaking his promise, but I don't think he would be reacting so strongly if it was just the one thing. Based on his reaction, I'm pretty sure he agrees with me.

"For the record, I'm positive he feels that he needs to exert a level of dominance regarding Scott. He knows he's very important in your life, and I think he's trying to prove that he's more important to you than Scott. He's also struggling with the loss of his sister, the abandonment by Scott, and I expect as we get more into everything, he's also dealing with the loss of his mother, even though I'm sure he's not aware of it. I wanted to say something as soon as he acted out with the chairs, but I knew it would have put him on the defensive, and I wanted to make sure he didn't shut down before we had a chance to really begin.

"It's going to take time for him to let go of all his anger. Don't force him to do it at a pace he's not comfortable with. Based on what I witnessed today, he's definitely much more receptive to patching things up than he's letting on.

"Now, on to you, I want you to focus on how you spend time with Zach. Unlike Scott, you're in a better position to interact with him. Make sure it's more than watching him play, or turning on the television. He trusts you, but he's so untrusting of Scott, you're going to want to be careful to maintain that trust."

"And with Scott?"

"Keep doing what you're doing. I can tell you two have what it takes to get through this, but you're just getting started. It may seem easy now, but you're going to feel like giving up at least once. Keep working on it, and you'll make it through. Maybe your relationship will even be better for it."

"I don't know about better; I just want to get back to what we had."

"I hate to tell you, but it's never going to be the same as before. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, but the dynamics will be different."

"Yeah, I get that."

"Is there anything else you wanted to talk about one-on-one?" Janet asked me.

"No, I think we've just about covered everything for today."

"Great. Can you send Scott in, then? I'll see you next week."

I went back to the waiting area. Scott told me we didn't have to wait on him, but I decided to do so anyway.

"Do you want to spend some time with Scott tomorrow?" I asked Zach while we waited.

"Do I hafta?"

"You heard Dr. Janet. I think it'll be good for both of you to spend some time with each other. Besides, you don't even have to talk to him if you don't want to. You can also use his phone to call me if you need him."

"But Daaaaaad, just buy me a phone and that won't be an issue."

"I'll think about getting you a phone, but I'm not going to do that for one outing."

"I'll use it all the time, I promise. I can text Tommy, and you'll always know exactly where I'm at."

"Like I said, I'll think about it. So you're ok with Scott picking you up after school tomorrow?"

"Fine," he said, sulking a bit.

"Who knows, maybe you'll have fun?"

"I doubt it."

Scott came back out to the waiting area, and I asked if he could pick Zach up from school the next day.

"Sure, that'd be great! What do you say, Zachy? Wanna get some ice cream after school?"

I could almost hear my son roll his eyes as he responded, "Yeah, whatever."

Scott reached out to ruffle Zach's hair, but stopped himself, realizing Zach wasn't quite ready for physical interaction. He then came over to me, and stood awkwardly for a moment before reaching out his hand. Instead I pulled him into a brief hug.

As we pulled apart, Scott said, "Thanks, Noah. I really needed that."

"Me, too."

"So... uh... I guess I'll see you tomorrow at work," he told me. "And I'll be waiting for you in front of the school," he added to Zach.

Of course, we then had that awkward moment where we had said our goodbyes and then proceeded to follow each other out to our cars. I took Zach home, and whipped up a quick dinner. As we finished eating, I decided it was time to talk to Zach.

"Alright, bud. I want to talk about your recent language. You know there are certain words you're not supposed to say, but I've heard you using them a bit recently."

"Yeah, but only about Scott. So what?"

"How would you feel if I called you a 'fuck-face'? Would you like that?"

"No. Like you always said, it's not nice to call people names."

"So why should it be ok to call Scott that?"

"Umm... because... I don't know, but it just is."

"If you can't give me a better reason than that, I may as well start calling you 'fuck-face' instead of 'buddy'."

"But that's not fair, Dad!"

"Why not? You called Scott that 'just because', so why can't I use the same reason to call you that?"

Zach pondered the question for a while, before sighing and admitting, "I guess that makes sense. I won't call him that anymore. Do I have to call him Papa, though?"

"No. You don't have to call him anything you don't want to. All you have to do is show him the same courtesy you would give any other person. If you ever want to start calling him Papa again, that's entirely up to you. It's not just about calling Scott names, though. I heard you say 'fuck' several times the day he came by the house."

"Sorry, Dad. I got so upset seeing him, though. Am I in trouble, or anything?"

"No, you're not. If I was going to punish you for last week, I would've already done it. I just realized we needed to talk about it. I know you know lots of bad words. It's not like Scott or I really tried to keep you from hearing them. I wanted to remind you that it's not ok for you to repeat them. I know you were angry, and it wasn't on purpose, but I want you to really work at not using curse words anymore. Can you do that for me?"

"I'll do it on one condition. Every time I hear you curse, you owe me a dollar."

"Oh, I see," I said with a grin, "you're just looking for a way to make some money off your old man."

"Well if you won't buy me a phone, I'll need to save up. Speaking of which, it applies to Scott, too."

"Ok, I can agree to that, but you're going to have to tell him about it tomorrow. However, it's also going to work the other way. If I hear you cuss, you'll owe me a dollar, and if Scott hears you cuss, you'll owe him one. So basically, if you cuss around both of us, you pay out two dollars. Are you ok with that?"

"Yeah, I just won't swear no more."

"Damn, you are only in it for the money!" I exclaimed. He calmly put his hand out. I sighed, and reached into my wallet.

"You got that right," Zach said with a grin, shoving the bill into his pocket.

"So should I start giving you less allowance, since you're going to be hustling me?"

"Nope. That's the money you give me to teach me how to be responsible. Think of the cuss money as a stupidity tax. 'Cause you're supposed to know better than to say words like 'fuck' in front of me."

I tried my best to keep a straight face as I held out my hand, but I nearly fell out of the chair because I was laughing so hard. Zach handed back the dollar I'd just given him, and said, "totally worth it," before breaking into laughter himself.

"You know, we usually just watch tv after dinner. What do you say we play a game or something? See if you can find something while I take care of the dishes." I told him when we'd both calmed down a bit.

"Sure thing. But do we even have any games?"

"I don't know. See what you can find, and we'll figure something out."

While I was finishing up the dishes, Zach came into the kitchen with two board games.

"Ok, so I found Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, but that's all I could find," he said.

"Which one do you want to play?"

"Candy Land is a kid's game, Dad. I guess the other one."

Once I was done, we started playing, and only a few minutes in, Zach started complaining.

"This is a kid's game, too. Can't we just play video games together, or something? This is boring!"

"Yeah, sorry, I thought this would be more fun. I think there's a deck of cards somewhere. We'll figure something out. Maybe this weekend we can go to the store and get some new games."

We ended up settling on a game of War, which Zach won. Maybe it's the fact I just wrote about reading Scott's story, but I feel I have to emphasize that I didn't throw the game, either. He won the luck of the cards, fair and square, which was a shame, because I was totally kicking his ass at Chutes and Ladders when he gave up.

* * *

The next day, I was on pins and needles once Scott left work to pick up Zach from school. I found myself checking my phone compulsively, just in case Zach felt the need to call. I was finishing dinner preparations when the front door opened.

Zach walked through the doorway, and turned back to the street. He was carrying two large shopping bags, which he set down to excitedly wave goodbye, before shutting the door.

"Did you have a good time?" I asked, as he walked into the kitchen.

"It was ok, I guess," he responded simply. Any hint of the enthusiasm he'd had a minute ago had vanished. It made me wonder if he thought I hadn't been watching when he waved to Scott.

"What all did you do?" I asked, hating that I felt like I had to pry the information out of him.

"He picked me up, and we got ice cream. I told him about how we needed new board games, and he took me to the store to get some."

"Well that was nice of him. What all did you get?"

As he was pulling the boxes from the two bags, he tried to hide the remaining contents. However, several chocolate bars and assorted candy tumbled out of the bag.

"And what's that? Those don't look like games..."

"That's my candy," Zach said simply.

"Scott bought you a bunch of candy, too? That doesn't sound like him." Scott had been the one to successfully introduce Zach to healthy alternatives to candy, so it didn't mesh with me that Scott would buy them for him.

"Well...he gave me the money, and that made it my money, so I bought me the candy."

"And why did Scott give you the money?" I asked him suspiciously, although I'd already figured it out myself.

"Because he's got a filthy mouth. But he seemed to cuss even more than usual after I told him he owed me a buck each time he did. I think he was doing it on purpose."

"Now that sounds like Scott."

"I'm not in trouble for buying candy, am I? Scott said I could get anything I wanted with it."

"No, you're not. Why don't you put it in the pantry? I promise I won't steal any. However, you can't have any until after dinner."

"Ok. Can we play a game after dinner?"

"Sure, bud. Which one do you want to play?"

He looked at the four new purchases thoughtfully for a few minutes, before pointing to one I'd never heard of before.

"That one."

"Alright. I've never played it, but we can figure it out together. Sound good?"

"Yep. Scott said it's a lot of fun and he's played it before."

I looked at the game box, and frowned.

"What is it, Dad?"

"We might not be able to play this tonight, bud. I'll call Uncle Tom and Aunt Tina and see if they can come over, but it says it's for three or more players."

Without any hesitation, Zach said, "We could always play with Scott."

I thought for a second before replying. "Is that really what you want?"

Zach responded, excitedly nodding his head and sporting a big goofy grin.

"Alright, I'll give him a call. He may already have plans, though. If he can't come over, we'll figure something out."

I grabbed my cell and walked out of Zach's earshot.

"Hey Noah," Scott answered. "That was even quicker than I expected."

"That was slick. You bought him that game and planted the seeds of having you come play as the third person, didn't you? How'd you know he would take the bait?"

"It's like Janet said, he just needed a little prodding to open up to me again. I'm not under any illusions that he's forgiven me, by any means, but he's definitely open to it."

"So, yeah, do you want to come over and play a board game with us tonight?"

"Nah, I got better things to do... Of course I'll be there! What time do you want me to come over?"

"We're just about to sit down for dinner. Say, what are you doing for dinner, anyway?"

"Whenever I get around to it, tonight, I'm having a fancy dinner. Chicken noodle soup. Don't be fooled, though. This is high-class shit. It's not even from concentrate!"

I tried to not laugh at his idiocy, but I couldn't help it. "Step away from the can, and come on over. There's enough food, and it'll be nice."

"Are you sure? I wasn't actually fishing for an invitation or anything."

"Yeah. Do you even cook anymore?"

"Not really. That requires pots and pans."

"Ok, so get your ass over here. I'll hold dinner for you."

"Alright. I'll be there in like ten minutes."

I walked into the kitchen, about to ask Zach to set a third place setting, but he already had.

"How did you know we needed another plate?" I asked him.

"'Cause I got good ears," he said with a grin.

"You have good ears. I don't pay that much money for school so you can butcher the English language."

"Whatever," he replied, rolling his eyes. "Oh, and you owe me a dollar."

"Why is that?" I already had a suspicion as to why, but I wanted to make sure I was correct, and hopefully trip him up.

"Because you said 'ass'."

"Huh. I guess I did, but you just did, too. So I owed you dollar, and now you owe me one, so I guess we're even."

"Daaaaaad! that's not fair; You tricked me!"

"I did, and it worked," I said with a laugh, ruffling his hair. "Now go wash your hands. Scott will be here soon."

The doorbell rang while Zach was in the bathroom, and I let Scott in. The three of us had a nice meal together, and had fun playing the board game. However, there was a lot of tension between the three of us. Sometimes, it would feel like old times for a moment before an awkward silence would settle upon us. I had known on an intellectual level that it would take a lot of time for the three of us to get back to 'normal' before that evening, but that was when the reality of the situation sunk in.

* * *

Over the next few weeks, we were in something of a holding pattern. Outside of work and therapy, I didn't see too much of Scott. We got coffee after our Monday sessions together, and Scott came over Friday evenings for dinner and a board game. The therapy sessions were exposing more raw emotions than they were 'fixing' at the moment, and we understood we had to just keep working at it. Going through the memory box with Janet had proven to be cathartic, and helped us think more about Mia's short life instead of her death, but it was only a start to providing closure for us, and there were so many other issues we needed to work out.

After about a month, I asked Scott while we were getting coffee after a session with Dr. Smith if he would take me to see his apartment. I was curious to see how he had spent the past six months.

"How about you come by next week? It'll give me a chance to clean the place up."

"C'mon, it can't be that bad," I responded. "Besides, you've seen how Zach and I have been living. Why can't I do the same?"

"It's just... it's a mess, Noah. I told you I haven't really been taking care of myself. I mean, I'm doing a lot better, but I just haven't gotten around to dealing with the apartment. But if you really want to see it, I'll show it to you. I promised myself I wouldn't say 'no' to any of your requests, but just realize it's not something I'm proud of."

"I understand that, Scott. I'm sorry if I'm pressuring you. I just realized I have no clue how you have been living, and I'm curious. I don't want to force you to show me. If you really don't want me to see your apartment, that's fine."

"No. You're right; you should see how I'm living. Just don't judge me too harshly, please."

I followed Scott in my car to his complex. Outside his door, he reminded me once again that he had not done a good job taking care of himself.

"Like I said at the coffee shop, I'm doing a lot better now, but I just never got motivated to clean up."

I agreed, and he opened the door. I tried to remain composed, but I couldn't help but gasp. It looked like something out of an episode of Hoarders. Actually, that's not fair. I'm sure if he'd been living there for another six months, that's what it would have looked like.

"Yeah, it got away from me a little," he admitted.

"A little? Scott... this is..."

"Yeah, I know."

It was a studio apartment, so his entire living space was visible from the doorway. There were piles of trash bags in the kitchen. Empty soda cans and trash were on the floor. There was space enough on the couch for one person, but a giant mound of clothes took up the rest of the space. The bed was a disarrayed pile of sheets, and the closet floor was filled with another mound of clothes.

One thing I quickly learned when I moved in with Scott was that he was a bit of a neat freak. He would never leave dirty clothes on the floor, or leave dishes in the sink. Trash was promptly thrown out, and the bags were taken out every day, whether they needed to be or not. He was even the type who made his bed every morning. He liked things to look neat and clean. To say I was shocked by what I saw would be a massive understatement.

"Scott... what happened? How did you let it get this... bad?"

"Let's go inside. I can explain. It's not a good explanation, mind you, but it is what it is."

We went inside his apartment and he grabbed the bundle of clothes and carried it to his bed.

"There. Now you have a spot to sit."

"How are you living this way?" I asked incredulously. "No, wait... why are you?"

"Well, to start with, I wasn't planning on being here for more than a month or so when I moved in. It was just supposed to hold me over until I figured out what my next step was. Since it was going to be a fairly short stay, I just didn't care. Then, as I slipped further and further into depression, I really stopped caring. Now, though? Now I don't even know where to start. It's gotten so overwhelming; I just can't even concentrate on cleaning it up. I want to focus on repairing things with you and Zach so I can move back into the house."

I pulled out my phone to check the time.

"Well, I have a few hours before Tom and Tina are expecting me to get Zach. Let's get started."

"Noah, you don't have to help me clean up this shit-hole. It's my mess, and I should be the one to take care of it."

"You still don't get it, do you?"

"Get what?"

"You're not on your own. If you need help, I'm here. I know how much you used to freak out if I forgot to pick up my dirty clothes for more than a few hours. I can't imagine how you're managing to stay sane surrounded by this. The least I can do is help you get rid of the trash and get the clothes taken care of. Are they even clean?"

"They're clean. The pile in the closet is dirty."

"You never even had this many clothes. What happened?"

"I didn't feel like doing laundry for a long time, so when things got too dirty to rewear, I just went out and bought more."

"Scott...that's disgusting."

"Yeah, I know, and I felt gross the entire time. But now the biggest problem is laundry has become such an ordeal I never want to put the clothes away, so they just stay in piles."

"How about if I tackle the trash, and you go through the clothes and figure out what you can donate."

"I don't even know how to begin to thank you."

"I haven't said it much in a long time, but I love you, Scott Hudgins. Part of me wants nothing more than to tell you to pack up your crap and move back in, but I know we're not at that point yet. We need to continue with what we're doing, but you deserve to have a clean place to come home to. One that won't drive you crazy."

I ended up filling up six bags with trash in addition to the several bags that had already piled up. I hadn't really been paying attention to Scott while I cleaned. After I had taken all the trash to the dumpster, I noticed he had filled several trash bags with clothes he wanted to donate. The new, greatly reduced pile of clothes was once again on the couch, and Scott was working on folding them. He had even made the bed. The apartment was still in a bit of disarray, but a good vacuum and scrub would fix most of the issues.

"Come here for a minute," I told him from the doorway, as I took the room in.

"What's up? Are you heading out?"

"I do need to leave soon, but I just wanted you to step back and take another look at the progress we've made."

He gazed over the room, his eyes wide.

"Wow. It does look a lot better, and that wasn't as much work as I thought it would be. I still have a ways to go, though."

"You do, but you can do it," I said, wrapping an arm around his waist.

Scott turned to face me, and slowly brought his lips to mine. The first kiss we had exchanged in nearly six months. It started gentle, but passion quickly swept over us. Way too soon, he pulled back.

"Wow," he said, breathless.

"Yeah, wow."

"So how much longer can you stay?"

"Maybe twenty minutes, why?"

"I was just thinking it'd be a shame to have to mess up the freshly-made bed all by myself. Want to help me?"

"That sounds like fun, but I don't want to be rushed. I'd much rather take the time to do it right."

"I don't want a quickie, either. I just don't want to stop kissing you anytime soon."

"That I can definitely agree with," I said, as Scott led me to the bed.

Twenty minutes later, I was unsatisfied and still yearned for more, but I had to leave. I buckled my pants back up and grabbed my shirt from the corner it had been flung to in our passion. Scott continued to lie on the bed, clad only in his bulging boxers. With his hands tucked under his head, his entire body was on display, and it was a struggle to force myself away from him.

As I pulled the shirt over my head, Scott let out a sigh. "That was always one of the most disappointing parts of my day."

"What was?"

"When you covered up your body with clothes. I wish you didn't have to go."

"Me too, but I need to get Zach. Say... why don't I take you out on a date this Friday instead of the usual game night? If you say yes, I can even see about having Tom and Tina watch him for the night," I said coyly.

"But that's so far away... maybe you can come over tomorrow and, um... help me clean?"

"Nope. As much as I want to strip down and jump back in bed with you, we've made it this long. You can last until Friday. Besides, you know me. I want it to be a special moment."

Scott pouted, but climbed out of bed and walked over to me, wrapping his arms around me.

"Fine, you're right. Not that you ever had to provide much romance to seduce me."

"Yeah, but it just makes it that much better."

After a few more kisses, I finally made my exit.

Friday night, Scott and I went out for a nice dinner, before going back to his place, where we fell into a passionate embrace on his bed. It wasn't long before we were naked, our limbs intertwined as we kissed passionately. For hours, we explored each other's body as if we were just discovering it for the first time. Not an inch of flesh went untouched or untasted. Of course, the ultimate pleasure came late in the evening as he slowly penetrated me for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. Before he reached his climax, I flipped him over and made sure he experienced it as well. I didn't even look at the clock, when we finally reached our final climax of the night. For the first time in six months, I fell asleep with the man of my dreams in my arms.

* * *

Time seemed to pass fairly quickly. Scott became more of a regular staple at our house, even dropping by unannounced to spend time with Zach or me. After about nine months, we agreed we were at a place where he could move back in. Zach proudly helped 'Papa' pack up his belongings and come home.

On the first anniversary of Mia's death, we planted a crepe myrtle in the backyard in her memory. Every year, it would explode with bright pink flowers, and served as a permanent and visible memory to our daughter's short life.

Scott and I continued to see Dr. Smith for several months together, until the three of us agreed that she had taken us as far as she could. We continued to see Janet with Zach until Zach was nearly ten. We had assumed that a lot of his experiences with Willow were forgotten since he had been so young, but as we started going to therapy, we realized that he had actually repressed those memories. What came out of those later sessions is a whole other story. I was just happy to have my husband back in my life for good.

Of course, I've come to realize that every minute detail of the period between Mia's death and when Scott and I finally reconciled seems to be permanently etched into my brain. The many years we shared together after that seem to have blended together somewhat, so I feel like I'm left with fragments of memories instead of the memories themselves. Maybe it's old age; I don't really know. What I do know is I want to keep telling the story of our lives together. I'm just not sure what form it will take as I keep writing.

 

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The trio has managed to make it through a lengthy reconciliation process (although most of it implied and not shown). Believe me when I say this is DEFINITELY not the end of Moving Forward, let alone the Hudgins Saga. I'm hoping to have at least ten more chapters of Moving Forward before I begin to undertake the still-unnamed third book in the series!

 

Sorry for this chapter taking so long! Editing the questions and answers video took a lot longer than I expected (I had 45 minutes of raw footage to go through!!), but it's finally done. You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q23BK9CnZC0.

 

Let me know where you're from! I have a map of readers from around the globe. I currently have readers in 36 states and territories, and 21 countries on 5 continents. I'd love to fill the map in some more!! (Anyone from South America?!)

 

My story is also hosted at http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/story/fitz/moving_on, and on my story website, http://movingonstory.weebly.com. The map of readers and the signup form for the mailing list are on the website for all who are interested. My website is always updated first, and the mailing list notification is sent out before I update any other site. Nifty is always at least a few days, and sometimes as long as week behind the other sites.

 

The story's Facebook group, 'Moving On' is a good place to communicate with me and fellow readers. It is a 'closed group', meaning nothing posted in the group is visible to nonmembers, and the group does not show up on your timeline for others to see.  The downside is that you receive a message that you joined a 'closed group', and have to wait until I approve adding you, which I do as soon as I am able. Several times, by the time I get the chance to add someone (even immediately after getting the notification), the person has removed their request. I have not, nor will I deny someone from joining the group, although I reserve the right to remove someone if necessary (spammers or people who are rude). All content will be kept at a PG-13 level.  All are welcome to join by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226097850809679/.

 

Don't forget to send me any questions or comments to movingonstory@gmail.com.