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.
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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.
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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I was stunned to see my husband walk onto the stage at karaoke. I had neither seen nor heard from him in five months, ever since he walked out of my life, also abandoning Zach without a word, or even a note.
Scott looked good, and I don't know how that made me feel. He looked like he was in slightly better shape than when he left, and his hair was styled to perfection. His confidence as he took the stage disarmed me. It was as if it was just another day for him.
"A while back, I walked away from the best thing that ever happened to me. Noah Hudgins, I made the biggest mistake of my life, but I'm here to make it right. Hit it Miranda!"
I was stunned by the arrogance of his words. He disappeared without warning from my life and devastated Zach and me. Now he thought he could stroll onto the stage and suddenly everything would go back to the way it was.
He started off by singing "The Reason" by Hoobastank. Like years ago, when we witnessed Suze propose to Solice, he must have spent a lot of time on the music track, since it was much higher quality than standard karaoke versions tend to be, and it transitioned almost seamlessly into "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake. If I wasn't so overwhelmed, I would have applauded the transition, since I would have thought it an impossible undertaking, but somehow he did it. When he finished the second song, he walked to the edge of the stage.
"I'm not done yet, but I'm going to venture away from the concept of karaoke for the last song," he said into the mic as he picked up a guitar. He slung it over his shoulder and put the microphone back on its clip. "You may have to bear with me a little, since I only learned guitar to play this song."
With that, he began singing "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz. I'll admit it; he was pretty good. In hindsight, the most praiseworthy thing was there were a few times he messed up a chord, but whenever he did, he never broke stride and just kept going. Scott has a perfectionist streak, and I really would have expected him to show frustration or to start a phrase over again, but he seemed to take it in stride.
I say 'in hindsight' because by the time he started the third song, I was getting angry. I was angry at Will for not telling me what was going on, but I was more angry at Scott. He disappeared for five months, only to show up and make a big spectacle about airing our dirty laundry. This was something that should have been done privately. But it was more than that. While all of his songs had an element of an apology written into them, the message in all three was more that he 'belongs' with me, so I should take him back. There was a selfishness and arrogance to his song choices that I just couldn't ignore.
I was lost in my thoughts, trying to reconcile the sweet and caring Scott I knew so well with the self-centered bastard standing in the front of the crowd, when I heard enthusiastic applause from the neighboring tables. Scott had finished. A quick glance around my table showed no one was clapping. Will was pale, and looked like he was about to throw up, Tom was clearly in shock, Mike looked sad, and Jason was too busy trying to comfort Will to show much of anything.
"So what do you say, Noah? Will you take me back?" Scott said into the microphone. There was applause after his question, mostly from non-regulars, as well as a few catcalls, but I was seeing red.
Before I could answer, Suze came on the stage.
"Sugar, you jus' dropped a bombshell and a half on yo' man. I say you give him some time to think about it, and he can give you an answer a bit later. Why don't you come sit over here with me an' my gal, and give him some precious time to think about what he wants to do."
The look on Scott's face told me this wasn't part of an act, or anything. He honestly expected me to take him back right away and act as if nothing had ever happened. Fortunately, he agreed, and I was given some time. I thought it might do some good. I was angry, and knew what my answer would be in that moment, but maybe that wasn't the right answer. I wanted Scott back in my life, but I didn't know if could ever let him back in. He didn't give any indication as to why he left, just that I should give him a second chance. I wasn't sure that was good enough for me.
Scott left the stage, and Miranda put on some house music.
"Noah, I..." Will started, a barely audible whisper.
"Don't talk to me," I replied angrily.
"Please, I just..."
All I saw was red, as anger coursed through my body. In a heartbeat, I was out of my chair and on the other side of the table. Jason and Mike were out of their chairs almost as quickly, grabbing me as I lunged at my best friend.
"How the fuck could you do that to me?" I snarled.
Will broke down sobbing, repeating "I couldn't, I'm sorry" over and over.
"C'mon, bud, we're going for a walk," Jason said, turning me towards the door by my shoulder. "Tom, you're coming with me. Mike, please stay with Will. He needs some support right now, too."
Jason must have given him a look, since he stopped talking and sat back down. Jason guided me toward the exit with Tom close behind. I didn't put up much of a struggle. While I was furious at Will for not telling me he had talked to Scott, I'm not a violent person, and I was also mad at myself for losing my cool like I did.
As we approached the door, I heard Will cry out, "Leave me alone, asshole! Haven't you done enough already?" I didn't need to turn to see who that was directed at.
Jason sighed. "Tom, on second thought, can you give Will some more company?"
I glanced behind me, and it was clear Tom was torn between the two unwinnable situations.
"Go," I told him. "We'll talk later." I tried to give him a smile showing I was ok, but I failed.
"Well, shit, my plan was to have a little more support than just me, but I guess we're spread a little thin tonight," Jason said as we stepped into the brisk March night. "Oh well, let's just walk for a bit."
We'd made it two store fronts down, in front of the gym where I met Scott five years prior, when a voice called out from behind us.
"Hold up, y'all! You ain't getting away from me that easily!"
We stopped and waited on Suze. Once she caught up, Jason directed us to a bench.
"First off, I hope you can find it in you to forgive Will. Trust me, the only reason I know anything is I'm a damn good detective. I don't know how long Scott has been Will's patient, but it's been eating him up inside that he couldn't tell you. Like I said earlier, it's a professional dilemma. If he told you he's seeing Scott, he could lose his license. If he didn't, he could lose his best friend."
"But Scott's my husband; don't I have access to his medical records as his husband?"
"Not if Scott says you don't. Privacy rules are very strict. Look, I'll be honest; I don't think Scott chose Will out of malice, or anything. It was a dipshit move, but I really think Scott wasn't thinking about anyone other than himself when he chose Will."
"But doesn't Will have to agree to take on a patient? Couldn't he have turned Scott away?" I asked.
"That's something you'll have to take up with either of them. Like I said, Will's never mentioned anything about it to me directly, and I didn't ask. He probably wouldn't have told me anyway. If I had to guess, it's probably like all of other Will's mistakes. He's got a great heart and always wants to help people. He probably figured it'd be an easy task to help Scott, and either get you two to reconcile or send Scott on his way. Of course, then Scott went and did this."
"Speaking of 'this', whatcha gonna do, Sugar? I vote you jump right up on that stage and give him the same treatment he gave you. Whatever you decide, sing him a song that says what you're feelin' about the situation."
"I don't know... Some things are private, and this is definitely one of them. This is between me and Scott, not me, Scott, and a bunch of onlookers. All I wanted from tonight was to figure out if I was ready to move on and possibly pursue a relationship again, and if I was, whether or not Mike was the right person for that."
"And did you get your answer?"
"Yes... no... I don't know. I don't want a relationship with Mike, I know that much. But that's all I'd really figured out when Scott took the stage. Now I just don't know."
"Well, then I got my answer. Figure out what you want to tell Scott, and get up on stage and sing it to him."
"Wouldn't that just be feeding Scott's ego, or something, though? I mean, he got up on stage and practically demanded I take him back. There was no heart-felt apology; just that he feels lonely without me. Fuck! I feel like he's trying to just walk in and reassert that he's the main character in my life's story, and I'm trapped in some weird musical."
"And what's wrong with that, Sugar? Every gay man has dreamed, if only for a moment, what their life would be like if it were a musical, and here's your chance. Don't lie to me, doll-face, you've thought about it, haven't you?" She asked, this time directed at Jason.
"Once or twice," he admitted. "There's something about everything being cheerful and choreographed. And then there's the happily-ever-after that always goes along with it."
"Yeah, but I'm not sure I want to give him a happily-ever-after," I responded.
"Ah, but that's the kicker, ain't it?" Suze said, with a cackle. "You said you thought he was trying to come back in as the star of the story, but you're wrong. You will always hold the lead role in your story. So it's not so much a question about giving him a happy ending, but more a question of figuring out which answer will give you one."
"Ok, I concede that, but wouldn't it still be better to do this in private?" I asked.
"Honey, that ship has sailed. For better or worse, your dirty laundry has been aired publically, and there ain't much you can do about it. 'Sides, I love stirring up some drama, and whoo-ee if this pot ain't full of it!" She exclaimed with another cackle.
"So you'll sing a song whatever you decide, Sugar?"
"Fine. I guess you're right. It's not like doing it in private will undo what's already been done in public, so sure. I'll sing a response."
"Fantastic. I know you need some time to think, but in case you need any suggestions, I heartily recommend you sing "Again" by Janet Jackson if you decide to take him back, and "I Learned from the Best" by good ole' Whitney if you kick him to the curb."
"Figures, you'd recommend two divas," Jason said with a chuckle.
"I stick with what I know, and I do diva damn well," she replied fiercely, a few snaps thrown in for emphasis. Even I couldn't hold back a smile.
"That you do," I said.
"Now if y'all will excuse me, I feel the sudden inspiration to put in a request of my own. Don't worry; I'll make sure to wait until you get back in there to go on stage."
"You're going to do what I think you are, aren't you?" Jason called after Suze as she walked back to the coffee shop.
"You know me too well. I can't help but stir the pot!" She replied with a cackle.
"So anyway, I get that you're mad at Will. If I were you, I would be too. I just wanted you to know he's feeling trapped in a no-win situation."
"Yeah, I guess, but that doesn't change what happened."
"No, it doesn't, but he is your best friend. You should talk to him."
"I'm not sure I can right now. I'm too angry," I admitted.
"That's understandable, and I don't mean tonight. Take a few days, and gather your thoughts, but you need to talk to him. If you can't forgive him, I'll understand, and I know that's what he's expecting will happen. Why do you think he's been apologizing all night long?"
"I can see that. Yeah, tell him I'll call him this weekend at some point."
"Are you ok?"
I chuckled in spite of myself. "My best friend is colluding with my estranged husband, who just showed up after five months to publically demand I take him back. How do you think I am? Can't I just have a quiet drama-free life for a change?"
"You married Scott, and you really expected to have no drama in your life? I'm not sure he can get through breakfast without something earth-shattering occurring."
"Heh...you'd be amazed how many times the world came to an end while we were together. Then he left, and it felt like it actually did."
"I know, bud. Maybe that's your answer. It's not as simple as giving him what he wants if you take him back. Think about what's best for you."
"Speaking of, I need to talk to Mike. He was stuck comforting Will. He doesn't even know him that well."
"I know, but I did that on purpose. I didn't think it would be fair to him to sit through a discussion about whether or not you should take Scott back. Do you want me to go get him?"
"Yeah, that'd be great. Oh, and thanks, Jason."
"No problem, that's what I'm here for."
Jason stood and returned to the coffee shop. While I waited for Mike to join me, I gathered my thoughts. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long.
"Hey," Mike said as he sat beside me. "How you doing?"
"How you think?"
"Touchι," he replied with a grin. "I can't believe Scott just showed up out of the blue and made such an ass out of himself."
"That is my husband you're talking about," I said defensively. As soon as I said it, I couldn't believe I was defending Scott's behavior.
"Sorry, it's just that it's been so long, and he never once tried to even talk to you. He just showed up and made a spectacle out of what you've been going through."
"It's not like I ever worked up the nerve to talk to him, either," I replied. "Maybe he thought he had to make some grand gesture."
"But he should have realized he burned that bridge and just give you the chance to move on with your life."
"Speaking of that, we need to talk, Mike."
Up to this point, his voice had been chipper, but I could almost feel him deflate beside me.
"Is it because of Scott?"
"No... well, yes, but only because everything in my life always seems to revolve around Scott. Ever since my birthday, I've been in a bit of a funk. I haven't been able to get my recent past out of my head."
"Since your birthday? You mean because we slept together, right? I wasn't the one who made the first move if I remember right. I was really careful not to cross that line first."
"Yeah, I think it all started after we had sex. And you're right; I was the one who kissed you first. While we were going, I never had a second of doubt, but once you'd fallen asleep, I couldn't get out of my head. I mean, I cheated on my husband. I never even looked at another guy lustfully since meeting Scott."
"I don't think you can call it cheating, though. I mean Scott walked out of your life without a word and you hadn't heard from him in several months. Besides, you told me how he acted after his first husband died. For all you know, he's been whoring it up around Atlanta."
"Don't make this about what Scott has or hasn't done," I responded caustically, again kicking myself for defending Scott. "All I know is I can't keep doing this. Not with you."
"So why are you ending things between us if not for Scott? I think I at least deserve to know."
"That's just it, Mike. There is no 'us', and there never really was. We are or at least were friends. I knew you wanted more from me, but I was never sure I wanted it. At first, I just thought it was because I wasn't ready, but over the past few days, I've realized I couldn't reciprocate what you feel for me.
"While you were singing "Paparazzi", I had an epiphany."
"Oh, God. Please don't tell me you're reading into my song choice. I just picked a fun song to sing. There was no deeper meaning."
"You're in love with me, aren't you? I saw the way you looked at me every time you sang the chorus."
Mike didn't respond. After a minute of silence, I asked again. "Are you?"
Despite being less than a foot from me, I barely heard his response, as he hoarsely whispered, "Yes."
"That's why we need to stop seeing each other. I'm sorry, but I don't love you, and I'm pretty sure I would never be able to. Of course Scott coming back hasn't helped at all, but I already knew I had to stop being chicken-shit about this and actually make it clear how I felt. You deserve to know that it's just not going to happen, and a relationship between us was never in the cards."
"Can we still be friends? You're such a great guy, and I'm not sure I can imagine my life without you in it at all," he replied. For the first time since I knew him, his voice cracked, and I could tell he was fighting back tears.
"No, I don't think so, and that's my fault. Whenever I think of you, I think about what we did. I don't blame you for it, but you're a constant reminder of my moment of weakness."
"So you're getting back together with Scott?"
"No... well, maybe. Fuck. I still don't know what I'm going to do. Like I said, though, I've been through hell for the past two days trying to make peace with what we did. I'm sorry, Mike. I really am. You're a great guy, and you'll find someone who's right for you. It's just not me."
With that, I stood up, and walked back to the coffee shop. I never even looked back. I felt bad for what I'd done, but I felt worse for stringing him on for as long as I had. If I had been more forthcoming with how I felt, we probably never would have slept together, and maybe Scott's sudden reappearance would have been much easier to deal with. If there was ever a time I needed my best friend, it was now. I was intent on burying the hatchet despite my anger, just for his advice. However, just the sight of him when I approached our table was enough for my feelings to begin to overwhelm me again. Instead I walked up to Tom.
"Can we talk?"
"You're going to have to wait a minute," he said with a wry smile. "Suze instructed us to make you stay still long enough to hear her song whenever you came back in."
Sure enough, as soon as the singer on the stage finished, Suze took the stage. Fittingly, she sang "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion. Of course it wasn't only memories of the good times that were resurfacing. And then there was the way he left, leaving me alone to cope with the death of our daughter.
Once she finished, Tom and I stepped outside. I glanced over to the bench I had recently vacated, and was a bit relieved to find it vacant.
"What should I do?" I asked him as we sat down.
"I don't know. I want to punch him in the face, though."
"Yeah, he's the best friend I have, but he dropped off the face of the earth. I never told you I went to see him, did I?"
"No, but I figured you've talked to him. You are his friend after all."
"That's just it. The asshole slammed the door in my face. Is it bad I got a bit of satisfaction in seeing that he looked like crap, though?"
"No. It hurt a bit when he looked better than I remembered. I wanted him to look like me like he's gone through hell and back the past few months. So you haven't talked to him at all?
"I tried. I stood outside the door asking questions for over an hour, but he never answered me. I even went back a couple times, but he never even came to the door. I could tell he was home, because he cranked up the volume on the stereo."
"I told Suze I would sing a response."
"Sounds like something she would suggest. I have to admit there's something poetic about that, whatever you choose."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Do you have any idea what you're going to sing?"
"No, but I think I know what my decision is."
I told him what I was thinking.
"I'm not surprised. That's what I wanted to suggest. I just wanted to avoid telling you anything concrete. I didn't want you to regret it later on, and blame me for putting the idea in your head. Ok, let's talk songs."
We went back and forth on ideas for what song to sing, both of us looking up ideas on our phones.
"Hey, what about this one?" he asked, showing me his recent find.
"I don't know... the lyrics don't really fit."
"That's just it; apparently, he wrote over eighty verses for it over the years, and rarely performed the version you know. I bet with the right verses, it'll be perfect."
"Yeah, but if I'm going to piece it together, I can't use the karaoke version, can I?"
"Well, we can choose the same number of versus, and it'll work, but it wouldn't be the same."
"Can you play guitar?"
"Me? No more than you can, but I can go inside and ask around. Of course the likelihood of someone having a guitar at karaoke is slim."
"Scott has one. I'm sure he'll let me borrow it for this."
"There's a certain irony in that," Tom said with a grin.
"Yeah, and it's not lost on me."
"Go ahead and figure out what lyrics you want to use, and start memorizing. You won't be able to rely on a prompter for this. I'll find someone who can play guitar and send them out."
Tom went inside, and I began piecing together my response to Scott. I had figured it out and was working on getting the lyrics down when Will walked out, Scott's guitar in hand.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," I replied gruffly.
"You know I would've told you if I could. I still can't actually say anything. I've begged him, but he won't let me. I'm so..."
"I know. Just give me time. We'll talk when I'm ready. I forgot you knew how to play guitar. Can you learn the song fast enough?"
"That's why I'm here and not Jason. He volunteered, but he's not too familiar with the song. I tried to explain that it's right there in the lyrics, but he didn't get what I was saying. Are you sure that's what you want to sing?"
"I warned him this might happen."
"Well, maybe we should practice it a few times before we go back inside."
We went through the song a few times, just enough for me to feel confident with my selection. Before we walked back inside, Will stopped me.
"You know I'm here for you, always. Just call me, and I'll drop everything to come over. Do you want me to stay in Atlanta this weekend? This is the last weekend I'm planning to go to Macon, but I can stay if you think you'll need me."
"No, I'll be fine. Besides, I'm still mad at you, remember?"
"Yeah, I guess there's that. But if you need me, call, and I'll be there as fast as I can. I'll even make Jason abuse his authority to get out of speeding tickets."
In spite of everything, I chuckled. "I'll keep that in mind."
I walked up to Miranda, and told her I was ready.
"What song do you want me to put on, sweetie?"
"No song. I'm going old school tonight."
"Suze told me to bump everyone and put you on next whenever you were ready, but if you don't mind, I'm going to clear the current roster first. I have a feeling this will have to be the last song of the night."
"That's probably a good call," I told her.
I went back to the group and sat down. The four of us sat in silence, knowing what was coming. Tom and Jason occasionally tried to pay attention what was happening on stage, but reality inevitably sunk back in. Finally, I was called onto the stage.
"First, I want to call my husband, Scott onto the stage. Obviously, this song's for you, and I want you up here when I sing it."
I honestly couldn't tell if he looked smug or relieved when he joined me and had a seat on a stool. I then invited Will up to provide my musical accompaniment.
As I sang "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, I tried my best to keep my emotions in check, but that went out the window almost right away. I did make it through the famous first verse without incident. I skipped the usual second verse, but I wasn't able to keep the anger out of my voice when I sang about 'a cold and broken hallelujah'. I began to cry when I sang about the loss of intimacy, and how 'every breath we drew was hallelujah'. By the time I sang about shooting 'someone who outdrew you', it was all I had to keep going. I tried to get through the fifth I'd chosen, the one that cemented in my mind that "Hallelujah" was not a love song, but a song about finding peace in your life, but I just couldn't. I managed to get through the line, 'even though it all went wrong', before I broke down completely. Will stopped playing, and sympathetically rubbed my back.
[Authors Note: Please listen! I recorded this version myself!!]
"What... but... I don't understand..." Scott said.
I looked at him, wiped the tears from my face, put the microphone back in front of my lips.
"Let me spell it out for you. You walked out on me and our son without a word. Then you storm in and publicly demand I take you back. I'm done. I quit. I want a divorce."
I expected my tears to return, but my eyes stayed dry. Scott on the other hand immediately burst into tears. He slumped onto his knees, and began to beg.
"No, please, give me another chance. Just pick a different song or something, just please. Don't end it like this," he wailed.
Seeing the change in him probably should have made me feel bad, but it didn't. In fact, it egged me on and steeled my reserve.
"I can think of a ton of songs I could sing, if you want me to sing another. How about "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri, or "Say Something" by A Real Big World? Want me to sing either of those?"
"No, please. I'm so sorry, Noah. I wish I could take it all back. Please, take me back, please," he wailed.
"I'm sorry, too. I didn't want to do it this way, but you didn't exactly give me an option, did you? You'll be hearing from Richard. Goodbye, Scott."
As I walked off the stage, I was met by Solice, Miranda, and Suze, who immediately wrapped their arms around me. That's when I broke down. Will reminded me to call him if I needed anything, and I gave him a hug.
"I'm still mad at you, asshole," I sobbed into his ear.
"I know, and I can deal with that. I thought I was helping. I'm sorry I didn't."
"You did. I needed to do this. You were right in the beginning."
I gave Jason a hug, before Tom led me to the car. When we got back to his house, I told Tina what had transpired. More hugs followed. I picked up my sleeping son and carried him home. I tucked him into his bed before going through my nightly ritual.
* * *
In the morning, I told Zach I was calling him in sick.
"I saw Scott last night."
"Is he coming to see me?"
"I don't know. I told him I want a divorce. He hurt us both so badly, and I just can't have that in my life anymore. Do you want to see him?"
"No. I hate him. He broke his promise and he made us both sad. Can I still go to school?"
I thought about it. He seemed fine with the news, but I had a feeling there would be emotions coming, and I didn't want him to break down at school. Since we had never discussed it, I had no idea if he really knew what 'divorce' meant. Sure, he knew a couple classmates whose parents were divorced, but that didn't mean he had a grasp on the concept. On the other hand, he'd already gone five months without seeing Scott, so it's not like this revelation actually changed anything.
I decided to call the principal and ask her advice. She had given me her phone number after I told the school Scott had left, and told me to call if I needed anything. Up until this point, I hadn't felt the need. Since it was Friday, she told me to keep him home, giving him a long weekend to process everything.
I called Tom and told him I wouldn't be coming in. He told me he was expecting as much, and that he'd cover for me.
"Alright, bud, we both got the day off. What's say we have a TV marathon?"
We cuddled up on the couch, and watched the television all morning. At lunch time, I got up to make us some sandwiches. The doorbell rang, which sent Beso into hysterics, but I knew better than leave the meal unattended.
"Zachy, can you get that?"
I heard the door open, followed by Zach screaming, "What the fuck do you want? Leave us the fuck alone! I fucking hate you!"
The door slammed closed, and Zach stormed up the stairs, sobbing. Even though I never saw who was at the door, I knew it was Scott. My heart immediately broke for both of them. I knew my boy was hurting, and even though I wasn't exactly a fan of Scott, I knew how much those words spoken by his son would rip him apart.
Without hesitation, I followed Zach upstairs. Before I even got to the top, Beso raced down the stairs, not one to miss out on unattended food. For once, I ignored the dog. My son's pain was much more important.
I sat down beside Zach, who was sprawled on his bed, sobbing into his pillow. I rubbed his back and tried to soothe him. I thought back on my time with Scott. Other than him leaving and the situation with Mia, it'd been pretty idyllic. He was a great father, usually better than me.
*** *** *** ***
About a month before Mia was born, I was out doing work on the front lawn when the car started up in the garage. I figured Scott was running out to the store, and didn't think much of it. However, as the car lurched backwards down the driveway, I realized it was Zach behind the wheel. He had been fascinated with cars and kept asking for us to let him drive. I raced over and put the car in park and pulled him out of it. I was so angry at him for doing something so stupid and dangerous that I lost my head. It was the only time I almost hit my child. After everything he endured with Willow, I promised myself I would never raise a hand to Zach in my life. Scott's the only reason I kept that promise. He heard the commotion and came running.
"What's going on?"
"Zach tried to take the car for a spin," I replied angrily.
"You want to drive cars, Zach?"
"Y-y-yeah?" he said fearfully.
"C'mon, let's go drive cars."
Zach immediately jumped into the driver's seat.
"Nice try. Get in back."
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Go-karts," he said simply.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"It's certainly better than hitting him. Trust me, I got this."
They were gone three hours. When they came back, Zach went up to his room without a word and returned with his favorite toys.
"Here, Daddy, these are for you. I told Papa I would give you my toys for a month for trying to take the car out. I'm sorry, and I won't do it again. Also, I'm not going to watch TV for a month."
That night I questioned how Scott had convinced him to accept a month-long grounding so readily.
"It was his idea. I told him he needed to figure out what he needed to do to make it up to you. I figure if he can go a week, we'll give them back for good behavior."
"You really are perfect, aren't you?" I asked as I kissed his cheek.
*** *** *** ***
I looked down at my son, who was beginning to drift off to sleep.
"I'll be outside if you need me, ok?"
He nodded, and I went back downstairs.
I looked out the front window, and was not surprised to see Scott sitting on the front porch, sobbing with his head in his hands.
I opened the front door and sat beside him.
"I didn't realize until Zach yelled at me just how badly I screwed everything up. I approached everything all wrong, and I should have listened to Will and just come to talk to you."
"Why didn't you?"
"I don't know. I felt like I had fucked everything up so badly, the only chance I had to make it right was to make a huge gesture. I really didn't think you'd react like that."
"It was so unexpected it took me by surprise. It was also a little too public for my taste. Grand gestures are nice and all, but our relationship is too personal to ask me to take you back that way after you've been gone for so long."
"Yeah, I realize that now. I really fucked up."
"Yeah, you did. But you're here now, so let's talk. If nothing else, it'll be good to get a little closure."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An emotional chapter is only fitting for Scott's return! Thanks to Michael, Alex, and Ashton for song suggestions for his chapter. I've already gotten some emails asking if this is the end of Moving Forward. It is not. I'm currently writing Chapter 9. I also made a special thank you video and put it on my YouTube channel. You can view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goDdGEA5bDI.
Let me know where you're from! I have a map of readers from around the globe. I currently have readers in 33 states, and 15 countries on 4 continents. I'd love to fill the map in some more!! I really want some Latin America, South America, and mainland Asia (but I'm not picky, I'll take anything!)
My story is also hosted at http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/story/fitz/moving_on, http://saberpeak.com/st_fitz.php 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.
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.