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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 have a mailing list you can sign up for on my website, www.movingonstory.weebly.com, or by emailing me.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I can't help but feel like I've made it sound like reconciling with Scott was an easy, if long, process. We wanted it to be easy, and we both tried to make it that way, but the anger and lack of trust that had settled on me was far more difficult to get over than I had anticipated. As Dr. Smith pointed out (after the fact, I might add), us getting intimate as 'quickly' as we did, simply helped to make the entire process more emotionally convoluted. To be fair, sex always has a way of messing up plans.
There were plenty of times where we thought we had moved past an issue, when something would set one of us off. Suddenly, we'd go from jovially bantering back and forth to screaming at each other. Fortunately, that situation rarely occurred. It was far more frequent for our outbursts to happen while in therapy, so we at least had someone to help talk us down. At least we were thinking clearly when we decided early on that even when we had sex, it was not an indication we were ready to live together again. By the time we decided we were ready, most of those issues had finally been put to rest.
Zach wasn't always as amenable to taking Scott back as I made it seem, either. Even after Scott moved back in, there were days where something would set Zach off, and he wouldn't talk to either of us. A tiny perceived violation of his trust was all it took, and it was often nearly impossible to get him to explain what we had done.
As far as telling our story, though, it's hard for me to look back, all these years later, on that process and concentrate on the bad times. Even remembering the struggles we went through brings a bit of a smile to my face. While I remember how angry I was at the time, that anger is long-gone, and all that remains are the wonderful years we continued to spend together. Honestly, it is difficult for me to spend much time thinking about the tough times. We survived them, and that's what is important. Whenever I spend too much time dwelling on them, my mind immediately jumps to happier memories. Don't get me wrong, I would not change a thing about our relationship. As difficult as Mia's death was, the end result was my relationship with Scott became much stronger. It took a long time, but by the time he moved back in with Zach and me, we were both completely aware that we were capable of weathering any storm that came our way. As expected there were both ups and downs, but the low points were not nearly as extreme as the death of our daughter and Scott bailing on Zach and me.
Anyway, getting back on topic, the last several months of family therapy were concentrated on Zach's first years. After everything his mother put him through, it's no surprise my son had some emotional baggage. As Dr. Janet delved deeper into it, though, I was surprised how much he actually remembered. On top of that, he was now able at nearly ten to actually understand the significance of the continuous stream of men coming to see his mother. To an innocent four-year-old, he had no idea it meant his mother was engaging in prostitution in exchange for cash and drugs. Zach didn't remember any of that until Dr. Janet pulled it out of him.
As soon as he remembered those men, he looked at me, and asked, "Dad, was Mom getting paid to have sex?"
"Yeah, she was."
"That's gross. Doesn't she know sex is only supposed to be between people who love each other?"
"I don't know, bud."
Scott and I never held back from telling Zach the truth, and he had asked more than once where he had come from. He understood I wasn't attracted to women, and he also knew it took a man and a woman to make a baby. We never fully explained that Willow had drugged and raped me, but he did understand that the only time I had sex with a woman was the time he was created. To me, he was worth the experience, even if I barely had any memory of the event. Zach understood the birds and the bees, and he even knew what prostitutes were. Of course, living in Midtown Atlanta, it would be impossible for him to never see them. Then again, most of those were cross dressers, but not the point.
It became clear over several sessions that most of Zach's issues stemmed directly from his mother. While we already knew that was the case, we had never really addressed the issue. I guess we were concentrating on clearing up the symptoms instead of removing the cause of the problem. Dr. Janet asked many times, and in several different ways, if he would be interested in meeting his mother, who was still in jail for arson, prostitution, and child abuse charges. Every time, he adamantly turned her down.
Even though Dr. Janet was positive that Zach confronting his mother would be psychologically beneficial, she understood we weren't going to push Zach. He knew we would take him if he wanted to see her. She thought it would be therapeutic for Zach either way Zach would either no longer view his mother as some monster, or he would finally be able to confront her, and say the things he was too afraid to say when he was four. Instead, we continued to work through our issues without the confrontation.
In the end, it was extremely successful. We kept up the family sessions longer than couple's therapy, and only ended because none of us continued to feel there was much benefit. Scott, on the other hand, continued to see Will for individual sessions. I never pried about them, but I always felt he treated the sessions as a sort of penance for allowing his issues to get so out of hand it nearly ripped our family apart.
* * *
A couple weeks after Zach's tenth birthday, we were sitting around the table, playing a card game. For some reason, he kept asking basic questions about Willow things he already knew the answers to, after having heard them many times before. One of us would answer as succinctly as we could, and try to return to the previous discussion.
After beating around the bush, and continuously bringing her up several times over the course of an hour or so, I finally came straight out and asked, "Zach, do you want to go visit your mom?"
For a moment, he looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. He blinked his eyes a few times, before nodding yes.
Scott and I gently probed a little, trying to understand why he had never shown any interest in seeing her, even when Dr. Janet had continuously suggested it. Apparently his new fourth-grade teacher had made repeated comments about his mother, according to Zach, and it had made him think a lot about her.
We agreed to make plans to visit Willow at the jail the following weekend, but that didn't stop me from contacting the school and setting up a meeting with his teacher and the principal. Scott decided it was best to sit that conversation out, because he was furious and wanted blood. We didn't actually know what comments she had made, but I was at least willing to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. Zach's principal was fully aware of Zach's life story, but unless it came up, we hadn't explained it to his teachers, since we figured it was none of their damn business.
It turns out I was right; she had made a few completely innocent statements. In fact, when I explained why I was meeting with her, she immediately looked like she would burst into tears. She knew Zach had two daddies, and she had casually asked if he knew who his mother was. When he said he did, she had simply questioned if Willow had any role in his life. Zach clammed up, so she had tried to see if there was something she could help with.
The teacher was extremely apologetic, although she admitted she had crossed the line by prying more than she should have. I think she was just trying to learn a bit more about Zach, in order to find new ways to help connect with him, and the conversation went further off track than she realized. She also had no idea she was opening up an emotional can of worms for my son. In the end, her passing comments served to help Zach get some of the closure he so desperately needed. Dr. Janet had never been able to get Zach to consider the idea of visiting Willow, and it was probably good that someone was finally able to.
That Saturday, we drove to Macon to visit Willow. Scott and I tried to keep light conversation going, but Zach was lost in thought and brooding in the back seat. In the end, we found ourselves talking back and forth loud enough for Zach to hear, if he chose to participate, but I don't think he uttered more than a few grunts. Visitation was limited to two people, so Scott chose to just wait in the car. I had suggested he stay at home, but he insisted on coming to lend Zach some support.
Zach and I were lead to a small visitation room to wait for Willow. When she was led into the room, I barely recognized her. In some ways, she looked better than she had right before her arrest. She looked healthier, although I suppose that was likely because she was no longer on drugs. The orange prison jumpsuit was hardly flattering, but she only had herself to blame for that.
"What the fuck do you want?" she spat out when she sat down.
Zach just stared blankly at her, eyes wide in shock at the sight.
"Your son wanted to see you. You did agree to meet with us after all," I responded.
"Yeah, well it beats the shit out of sitting in my cell all day staring at the fucking wall."
"You're my mother?" Zach asked with a hint of incredulity in his voice.
"Damn straight I am, and watch your fucking tone before I teach you some goddamn respect," she snarled.
"Wow. You're pathetic," Zach said, a grin forming on his face. "Dad, can we go home now? I'm done here."
"You ungrateful piece of shit!" Willow screamed, launching herself across the table at my son.
I don't know what came over me. I didn't think, just reacted. I grabbed Willow by the neck and threw her to the ground, pinning her by her shoulders as guards rushed in. She tried to get a few punches in, but her fists barely grazed me.
"Alright, Hollins, you've earned some time in solitary. Again," one of the guards said after pulling me off Willow as other guards restrained her, while she screamed obscenities the entire time.
"Sir, would you like to press charges against her? We witnessed her assault on both you and your son."
"He's my son, asshole!" Willow shrieked, as she attempted to escape the grasp of two guards.
"Will it do any good?" I asked, ignoring the raving madwoman.
"Well, it's not like she's a model citizen here, so I doubt she's likely to make parole anytime soon. This incident will go in her file regardless, so it's up to you."
"As much as I'd like to take the opportunity to teach my son about there being consequences for actions, I think I'd rather get him out of here. I had hoped Willow would have grown as a person since I last saw her, but she's still the sad and vindictive person I knew."
"I'll show you vindictive, motherfucker!" Willow cut in, once again struggling in vain to break free from her guards.
"Might as well, Dad. She deserves it," Zach chimed in.
"Sure I'll press charges," I told the guard. "She makes it hard to refuse, doesn't she, bud?"
"I'll say. I think we should throw the book at her! Wait... do we really get to throw a book at her, Dad, or is that just one of those weird sayings that don't make no sense."
"It's one of those things that doesn't make any sense. It's just an expression."
"Whatever. That's no fun."
As the guards started dragging Willow out of the room, she began screaming again.
"I'll kill you motherfuckers! Don't you fucking take me away from my goddamned kid! You piece of shit little brat! I should've had a fucking abortion!"
Instinctively, I wrapped my arm around Zach and pulled him close to me.
"Ignore her, bud. You know Scott and I love you very, very much, right?"
"Of course, Dad. 'Sides, she may have given birth to me, but she's not my mother. Like you always say: sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. You know that makes no sense, right? Words can still hurt."
"I know they can. Did her words hurt?"
"Nah. Screw her."
"I did; that's what caused this whole mess," I said, ruffling up Zach's hair, which caused him to giggle.
"Eww, Dad. Don't be gross," he said, continuing to giggle.
We wrote down statements of what happened, not that they were really necessary with the cameras and witness statements from the guards. Finally finished, we walked back out to the car, where Scott was getting frantic.
"What took so long? I was getting worried! I tried to text you, but then remembered you left your phone with me. I may have ended up having your side of the conversation for you. You may not want to read it until after Zach's not around."
"Sorry. Willow is still Willow. She lunged at Zach, and we had to give statements."
"Yeah, she's a real bitch," Zach said.
"Hmmm... wouldn't that make you a son of a bitch?" Scott asked with a grin.
"Damn straight. I'm the meanest son of a bitch you'll meet in your whole damn life!" Zach exclaimed excitedly, not missing a beat.
"Oh, and Dad, Willow was right about one thing. You are actually a motherfucker, when you think about it."
It took me a second to make the connection he was going for. "I guess you're kinda right, bud. I did, in fact, have sex with her, but it was nine months before she became a mother, so I'm not sure it counts as me being a 'motherfucker'."
Zach's hand immediately shot out, expecting his money.
"You got it completely wrong if you think I'm going to pay out for one swear after that little rant of yours. You better start forking over your money, buddy," I replied with a grin.
"Shit!" he exclaimed before immediately clamping his hands over his mouth. "That's a lot of money. I forgot all about that."
Scott was counting on his fingers and mumbling to himself, until he just randomly blurted out, "Shit, damn, asshole, fuck, bitch, and cunt. There. Now we're even. Consider that my gift to you, bud."
"What the hell, Scott?"
"Way to ruin it, hun. Now you owe Zach a dollar. I was just balancing the scales for him."
"We could've just called it even," I responded.
"Yeah, but where's the fun in that?" Scott retorted.
"But we're not even! Dad, you owe me two, and Pops owes me one," Zach cut in cheerfully.
"No, I think Pops owes you two for the 'c' word. That one should count double."
"Ok, that works for me," Zach replied with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Don't I have any say in this?" Scott asked.
"No!" Zach and I retorted in unison, before the three of us broke into laughter.
"Say, I'm hungry," Scott said after we'd regained our composure. "Who's hungry?"
Immediately, and no surprise to anyone, Zach's hand shot up. That boy was always hungry. When Scott and I first got custody of Zach, he was short for his age, and definitely underweight, but since then, he'd been on what seemed to be an unending growth spurt. At ten, he was the tallest kid in his class, and he showed no sign of slowing down. He also wasn't scrawny by any means either. For a kid whose only exercise was running around the backyard with the dog, he already had pretty good musculature. I knew he got his build from me, and he probably wouldn't even have to work out to maintain it until he was in his twenties. My boy was going to be a heartthrob, no doubt about that. But all that meant he needed a lot of food. If he wasn't sleeping, it was a safe bet he had a snack somewhere within arm's reach. I was grateful Scott got him to mostly stick to fresh fruits or veggies.
"You want some pizza?" Scott asked. If there's ever a rhetorical question around kids, that's the one. I immediately knew what he had planned.
"Oh, no," I mumbled.
"Oh, yeah," Scott replied with a wink. "While you guys were inside, I had a lot of time to think. I thought it might be kinda neat if we relived the first, and only, time we came to see Zach."
"Isn't Zach a bit old for that?" I asked quietly, but Zach heard me.
"Too old for what, Dad?"
"Do you remember the time your dad and I took you to Chuck E. Cheese when we came to visit you? You would've been really little."
"Hmmm..." Zach replied, tapping his chin thoughtfully which was almost as adorable at ten as it was at eight, by the way. "Is that the place with the giant rat? I remember a giant rat."
"Yup, that's the one. What do you say? Wanna go there?"
"Sure, why not. I remember having a lot of fun, I think."
So we pulled out of the parking lot of the jail and headed over to Chuck E. Cheese. Unlike last time, there was no meltdown as we went in, nor thoughtful innocent questions by Zach. Instead, he was looking around, trying to decide if he should be having fun or making fun of it. He almost said something a few times about the animatronic show, but Scott was really into it for some reason, and kept shooting him looks whenever Zach looked like he was about to be a smartass.
Of course, when the pizza came, Zach couldn't hold back after the first bite.
"Yuck! This tastes like cardboard. Pops, can we get real pizza when we get home?"
"You think we're going to have pizza twice in one day?" I asked teasingly, already knowing Scott's answer, and in full agreement.
"Yeah, but that would require this to be pizza, and it's not. Pleeease? I'll even let you guys pick a gross one with all the weird shi- stuff on it."
"Oh you'll let us?" Scott piped in, eyebrow raised.
"Yep. I won't even complain."
"That works for me. We'll get extra anchovies just for you," I said.
"No. That's gross," Scott said. "You're the only one that likes those."
"Buzzkill," I responded with a wink.
"It's what I do best," Scott replied with a shrug.
Despite complaining about the quality of the pizza, Zach still managed to put away most of it, leaving only a few slices for Scott and me, but that was fine. It was disgusting, after all. Then came the fun part. We gave him a bunch of cash, and told him to go crazy. Unlike last time, he was big enough to play the games by himself, so Scott and I just continued to sit at the table and talk.
"Ahhh," Scott sighed dramatically. "Our little boy is growing up, and we've already made him a little foodie. I've never been so proud," he said, wiping a fake tear from his eye.
"You are such a goofball," I responded with a grin. "What brought on the idea of coming here, anyway?"
"While I was waiting, I was thinking about how lucky I am to have you and Zach in my life."
"You weren't still beating yourself up over leaving were you? You remember what the therapist said. We can't continue to dwell on it, or it will continue to be an issue."
"No, nothing like that. I don't mean I'm lucky to still have you in my life. I'm just so damn lucky to have met you, and gotten to know you, and opened up to you. And fallen in love with you. And then there's Zach. I can't even think what my life would be like without him."
"Me neither. He's a great kid. Still cusses almost as much as you, but he's a good kid. You are still making him pay up, right?"
"Of course! It's the only way I have the cash to pay him," Scott said with a laugh.
"Anyway, while I was sitting there, thinking happy thoughts to keep from freaking out about what he was going through, I kept thinking back to the first day I met this timid little kid and watched as he slowly came out of his shell around me that first day. I fell for you pretty damn quickly, but with him, it was love at first sight."
"Yeah, it was. I thought I talked about my kid a lot, but that night at dinner, you wouldn't shut up about him," I responded.
"Stop interrupting and let me finish," he said with a wink.
"Sorry, go ahead."
"So anyway, by the time you two came out, I was really craving Chuck E. Cheese. I mean I know he's not four anymore, and we're not about to have a showdown with the mascot again, but I just wanted to relive that day. Despite leaving him with Willow for the evening, it was one of the single greatest days of my life, getting to know the kid who would one day be my son.
"Oh, so how did it go with Willow? I assume pretty well based on how Zach acted, but I was really worried about it."
"I was too, but you know Zach. She came out and started cussing almost immediately, and was basically acting like she always acted in the past. Any hope his mom might be a good person was instantly shattered. She only got in a few things, before Zach called her pathetic and said he was ready to go."
"No shit?! He did? That's my boy!" Scott exclaimed, just loud enough to get us a few looks. He immediately apologized for his outburst.
"Yeah, I was so proud. I want to take him back to see Dr. Janet a couple times, just to make sure it doesn't stick with him, but I think it just confirmed his expectations and made it easy for him to wipe his hands of her. It's not like he really remembered her anyway. We're really the only parents he's ever known. He didn't even call her 'mom' when we got back out to the car."
"I know. Speaking of parents, when are we going to tell Zach? I was thinking of breaking the news while we were here."
"I don't know. Let's give it until next weekend. I think this weekend should be all about Zach."
"Yeah, that's probably better. We still have about five months anyway."
"Hey, why don't we continue to relive that first trip before we head home," I said, abruptly changing the subject.
"Drop him off at a trailer and set it on fire?"
"No, idiot, get him a phone."
"Oh that's a great idea. He's been complaining about the crap one we got him for a while."
"Yeah, but I'm not sure, though. We agreed not to get him a new one for his tenth birthday because he hadn't been doing his chores," I reminded my husband.
"He's been doing so much better. Honestly, I say we get it, just to shut him up. I'm so damn sick of hearing about how much he wants one."
"Of course we're going to put all sorts of parental controls on it."
"Duh, he's ten. I'm not giving him carte blanche."
"Speaking of, we should probably at least go check on him."
As soon as we'd gotten near the games, Zach came running, his hands loaded with tickets.
"Dad, Pops, can I have more money? I wanna play the racing games."
"You already blew the money we gave you?" I asked.
"Yeah, it was easy. There's this one game that gives you a lot tickets and all you have to do is hit the button at the right time; piece of cake. I figure I got enough tickets to get whatever I want, so now I can do the fun stuff, c'mon, pleeeeeease?!"
He may not have been quite as good at giving us 'the look' as when he was four, but it was just as effective as it had always been. However, we forced him to compromise and he could only play two-player games with one of us. All of us had fun racing, and I swear I wasn't even holding back, but he easily beat me every time.
Once we decided we'd had enough (that's Scott and I, by the way; Zach was nowhere near ready to go, and would've blown through every penny we had if we had let him), we went to the prize counter. Despite the fistfuls of tickets he'd earned, he immediately realized it was a racket. He could get a couple nice prizes, but he had expected to have enough to get anything he wanted.
He picked a couple prizes, but I could tell he was a little bummed out as we walked back to the car.
"I should'a played that lame ticket game some more. I thought I had enough."
"Well, was that game more fun than beating me on a racetrack and shooting aliens with Pops?"
"Of course not!"
"And you had fun, right?"
"Yeah, but I wanted better toys."
"Do I need to sing the Rolling Stones to you right here in the parking lot? I'll do it."
"Ugh. No. You're so embarrassing, Dad! I get your point, but I still wanted something better."
"I know, but you can't always get what you want!" I started to sing loudly and intentionally off-key.
"Ok, fine. Why don't we go to the store and get you a new toy, then. Will that make up for it?"
"Wait... that actually worked?"
"Not on your life, buckaroo. We were already going to make a stop. From what I understand, you need a better way to be able to contact us."
"You mean it?! If you do, you can sing the whole song as loud as you can for as long as you want. I don't care if you're getting me a new phone."
"Don't give him any ideas, Zachy," Scott said.
I took a deep breath and braced myself as if I was just about to belt into song, but at the last second, I scooped up my son and tickled him mercilessly. It didn't last long. He was definitely getting too big to pick up.
We got in the car, and went to the same big box store where, six years earlier, Scott had bought him a prepaid phone on a hunch Zach might need us that night. I've wondered many times if that simple action may have saved his life, since Willow became more violent than usual after we left in the evening. It's hard to say, though, since the most dangerous aspect the fire didn't happen until after Zach called 911 from his new phone. It doesn't really matter, however, since that night resulted in Willow going to jail and us gaining custody of Zach.
Zach practically ran back to the section of the store with the cell phones. Scott and I decided to walk at a casual pace, instead of trying to keep up. Of course Zach was frustrated having to wait by the time we got there, but quickly launched into spiels of the various features of each phone on display. I kept him talking while Scott got the phone set up. Scott and I had already decided what phone he was getting, so his input really wasn't required.
Once finished, Zach unhappily carried his new phone, still in the box, back to the car. Scott told him he wasn't allowed to use it until we were on the road and could plug it in to charge.
"Remember, Zach, this is not a toy; it's a very expensive phone, so you have to be careful with it," Scott said as we walked through the parking lot.
"Duh, you already told me. I'll be careful with it, I promise. Oops!" he exclaimed as he dropped the bag.
"Your Papa and I have been talking about getting you a phone for a while, bud, and we think you're ready for it, but it is expensive. We want you to pay for half of it."
"I know, 'it's not fair', but it is. We have to work to make our money, and we spend it on things we want to spend money on. You get allowance for doing your chores and helping out around the house, so it's only fair you contribute your money to help pay for it. We were thinking about taking two dollars from your allowance each week to pay your half . Right now, you owe us a hundred dollars, so you'll pay off your share in a year."
"Can I give you money earlier?"
"Great. I got nearly a hundred at home."
"You do?" I asked, surprised he had stockpiled that much money. We made him help pay for most things he wanted, but when I thought about it, he didn't ask for much.
"Yeah, you guys cuss. A lot. Especially Pops."
"Well damn," I said with a chuckle shaking my head. Scott elbowed me, so I reached for my wallet.
"Naw, keep it. Now I owe you ninety-nine. This is going to be easy!"
We got in the car, and began the ride home. Zach immediately programmed his best friends' numbers into his new phone, and most of the ride home was punctuated by giggles and the sounds of incoming texts. That night, after Zach went to bed, Scott loaded parental monitoring software, and set up a ton of restrictions on the phone to help keep Zach safe. As mature as he could act at times, he was still ten, and the world of the internet could be a very dangerous place for a naive child.
Of course, after he finished, Scott and I proceeded to do all the dirty things he had texted to himself, pretending to be me, while I was inside the jail with Zach. All in all, it had been a fantastic day for all three of us, as dramatic as it had been.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Willow has really changed, hasn't she?! I doubt you really expected much personal growth from such an awful person, anyway! Noah and Scott are more or less back to 'normal', and there's a few little hints at what will be coming in the next few chapters!
Let me know where you're from! I have a map of readers from around the globe. I currently have readers in 47 states and 2 territories, and 33 countries on every continent (except Antarctica, but I'd really like to think that I have some penguin readers lol) As full as the map has become, I'd love to fill it in even more!! I'm still missing New Hampshire, Wyoming, and South Dakota, so if you live there, I'd LOOOOVE to hear from you.
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 email@example.com.