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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"Closure? So there's no chance in us getting back together? Why do you want to bother talking then?" Scott asked, with a tinge of anger in his voice.
"Scott, you came here to see me. I assume because you wanted to talk. Anyway, even if there's a chance at us working things out, you have a helluva lot of explaining to do."
"I know I do. And that is why I came by. I figured maybe if I told you what happened you would change your mind. I should've done it this way first."
I sighed. "Yeah, you should have. The way you showed up just pissed me off. Look, why don't we get off the front porch so we can talk. I've had about as much publicly airing our shit as I can handle."
We stood up, he grabbed his bag, and I held the door, allowing Scott to enter first. He immediately headed over to the couch, but I stopped him.
"Why don't we talk out back? Zach's up in his room, and you're not exactly his favorite person at the moment. It's a little chilly, but as long we don't start yelling, it's private."
I looked over at Scott, and realized he wasn't wearing a jacket.
"Didn't you bring a coat?"
"No. I didn't think about it. I called Tom and when he said you were at home, I just rushed over here."
"I don't know if we can, but I guess this is a good first step. Let me grab one of your jackets. I threw them in that random closet we never used because I hated seeing them whenever we went out."
"Um... they're not there."
"Of course they are; I put them there."
"And I came and got them when it got cold."
"Are you the reason I've come home a few times and discovered the alarm wasn't set when I was positive I had armed it when I left?" I asked, suddenly realizing I had not been forgetful.
"I guess. I could never remember to turn that damn thing on," he said with a chuckle, which irritated me more than anything. For a split second, I saw red.
"So you had no problem walking out on me and our son, without even the courtesy of telling me why, only to come back and let yourself in whenever the hell you felt like it?" I almost forgot Zach was upstairs, and had to stop myself from raising my voice too much.
I took a breath and cut him off before he could respond. "No, no. Don't answer that yet. I want an answer, but there are other things I need to know, too. Here... you can use one of my jackets."
As I handed him a jacket, I realized I would probably need to have it dry-cleaned to get rid of the inevitable stench of stale smoke. It was a small price to pay to get the answers I had wanted for so long.
We walked out back, and sat on the patio. Scott started to speak, but again, I cut him off.
"Hold on, let me grab the ashtray for you. I put it away after you left."
I started to get up, but Scott reached over and grabbed my arm.
"Don't bother. I quit."
"You did? When?"
"About three months ago. I'm using the gum. It's working pretty well so far. I'm also really motivated," he said. There was a little twinkle in his eyes as he said that last part.
"Scott... I hope you didn't quit for me. You tried that in the past, and the first time we got in a minor argument, you raced off to the store to buy a new pack."
"No. I quit smoking because I wanted to. I needed to. I always did my best not to smoke around you and Zach, but it was inevitable one of you would walk through my cloud of smoke and start coughing. I can tell it affects my endurance and I get winded easily. Hell, I've been smoking for half my life now, and I needed to stop. Don't get me wrong, part of the reason has to do with you, but I'm doing it for me at least as much as I am for you."
I took a second to digest what he said. It was a far cry from what he'd always said when I would encourage him to quit. He would mope or complain. I understood the addiction aspect, which was the biggest reason I never did more than try to nudge him towards quitting.
"Good for you. I'm proud of you, Scott, I really am."
We sat there in silence for a moment. Any form of small talk I was willing to engage in had occurred, and I wanted answers. Since he didn't seem willing to start, I decided to grab the bull by the horns.
"Now start talking. Were you planning on walking out on me or was this a more of a spur-of-the-moment thing? When I called your parents, Fey told me she had just talked to you that day, and you said things were getting better. Then you left. What the fuck, Scott?"
"Shit... You think I planned this? Fuck... I... No. I never meant to do any of this..." he choked out, the tears already flowing again.
The soft-spot I had for Scott returned with a vengeance. I always hated to see him in pain, and despite my anger, part of me wanted to wrap my arms around him and soothe him. I knew the closure I needed so desperately would be harder than I thought. I managed to steel my reserve, and only comforted him by going inside to grab a box of tissues.
"Ok, so tell me what happened," I said when he finally began to calm down.
"You left for your meeting, and I decided to call Mom. I didn't lie to her. Well, not completely. But please, leave that alone for now, because that's more relevant later. I was beginning to feel better. After I hung up, I felt like I had to get out of the house. I had barely left the bedroom in so long, and I suddenly felt cooped up.
"I was just going to go for a drive. I thought maybe seeing a bit of the city would help. It did, and I realized I didn't go see Steve for his anniversary. Hell, I hadn't been since his birthday."
"Shit. Tell me you didn't, Scott."
Scott merely nodded, and began to sob again.
When Mia was diagnosed, and we decided to keep her, Scott and I talked extensively, and began to make plans for our eventual mortality. Before Steve died, Scott had wanted to be cremated. However, our relationship was inextricably linked to Steve. Scott took me to visit him on our first date, and it was at that spot where I proposed to him. Scott still loved his first husband, and I was fine with it. In fact, I was the one who suggested we buy the plots next to Steve's grave. Scott loved the idea of being surrounded by his two 'true loves' for eternity. Of course, when plans had to be made for our daughter, that was where we chose to have her interred as well.
I didn't push Scott, and just sat silently while I waited for him to regain his composure.
"When I saw Mia's grave, I just snapped. I've tried really hard to remember what happened, but the next thing I knew, I was parking the car at the airport. I swear I don't remember returning home and packing my clothes, but I know I did, since I had the suitcases with me."
I tried to cut in, but he stopped me.
"No, please, let me at least finish. I don't know what I was thinking, and it was completely irresponsible. I knew running away would only cause more problems, and I had no where I could go. I was immediately ashamed of how I acted, and I sat in the car for over an hour, trying to convince myself to come home."
"Why didn't you?"
"My mind was all fucked up. I kept thinking about how you and Zach seemed to be laughing and joking and acting like life was normal. I felt like I was holding you back. I also kept thinking of Steve. First Steve died, then Mia, and the irrational thoughts kept insisting that everyone I loved did, so it would be better for me to just disappear."
"Why didn't you call me, or at least answer when I called you?"
"Again, irrational mind. If I was thinking clearly, I would've called you in a heartbeat. I didn't know what to say. I also figured you had been upstairs and figured I'd left with no plans on coming back. I knew if that had happened, there was no going back. Of course, part of me thought you were better off without me, too."
"No. It gets worse. I realized I needed to find somewhere where I could think. Alone. I left the airport and checked into a hotel. I tried to convince myself I wasn't running away from my problems, and I just needed space."
"If you needed space away from us for a bit, you could've just told me. I would've understood. I was walking on eggshells around you. I knew you were devastated, and I didn't want to make things harder for you."
"That's just it. Even then, I knew I was pulling the same shit I did when Steve died. Anyway, I lay on the bed, sobbing, for hours. I was devastated by what we went through with Mia, and what I had just done to you. Eventually, I fell asleep.
"I woke up around eight in the morning, and if anything, I was in a worse place emotionally than when I fell asleep. All I could think about was how I walked out on you and Zach. I tried to rationalize it by telling myself I was either protecting the two of you or setting you free. I knew the reasons were bullshit, though."
"Again, you could've called me."
"No, I couldn't have. I'd broken our wedding vows and I'd left you. I felt like I had burned that bridge, and I couldn't go back. My mind was spiraling out of control, and I had completely lost the ability for rational thought. Remember my sleeping pills I always refused to take?"
"I did. I washed the bottle down with a couple of minis from the minibar. The bastards at the hotel even had the nerve to charge me for them," Scott added, trying to make light of the situation.
"You tried to kill yourself?!" I almost yelled.
"Yeah, I guess I kinda buried the lead there a bit," Scott said sheepishly. "Actually, I was really lucky with that. I hadn't put out the 'Do Not Disturb' sign, and I probably passed out about ten minutes before a housekeeper came by. They shoved me in an ambulance and raced me off to the hospital."
"How the hell did I not know about this?"
"I came to a bit as they were wheeling me into the ER. They asked who to contact, and I told them not to contact anyone. Anyway, they pumped my stomach and held me for a couple days on suicide watch. I had a few forced therapy sessions, and I told them just enough to convince them I wasn't actually a threat to myself or other people.
"Since I spent so much time just sitting in my hospital room, I had a lot of time to think about how to move forward."
"Again, you could have just called me, and told me what happened!" I exclaimed. "I wouldn't have been happy, but I would've understood, Scott. I would've been able to forgive you."
"See, that's just it, even though I thought it was too late to come home hours after I left, I was convinced of it by the time I was out of the hospital. Hell, I'd been incommunicado for three days by that point. When I turned on my phone, I was bombarded with voicemails from everyone asking where I was. It was so damn overwhelming. Anyway, I felt like I couldn't go back. I didn't want to just move away, since my life was here. I could almost deal with the fact I abandoned you, knowing you were only a few minutes away. So when they let me out of the hospital, I found a small, furnished apartment off of Highland to rent. It's not much. Hell, I think it's smaller than the one you were living in when we first met."
"I know about the apartment. I kept watching our finances to see if you were going to empty it and run. On Richard's advice, I've actually been slowly transferring funds out, just in case you did."
"That explains why the balance has been shrinking."
"That and you haven't been getting a paycheck for the past three months," I told him.
"Why not? It's my company!" Scott almost whined.
"Because you haven't been doing your work. Bernice has been busting her ass to get your games online. You may have been the founder, but when we restructured, you technically left yourself off the letterhead and named me as CEO. So, unfortunately for you, it's my company to run now."
I let my words sink in a bit, before realizing it may have been a little harsher than intended.
"Let me rephrase that. Tom and I hoped that if you happened to discover that you were no longer being paid, you might resurface. It's not like I was trying to force you out or anything. I kept hoping you'd walk back into the office."
"Yeah, that makes sense. Sorry, I keep forgetting I'm here to eat crow and explain myself."
"Two things you've never been very good at doing," I added pointedly.
Silence fell over us for a few minutes.
"Ok, so you got an apartment. That's day three, or maybe four. What about the next five months?" I asked.
"Oh yeah, so I found a place for me to crash. The goal was to just stay there long enough to figure out what I wanted to do next. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to come back, but I was absolutely convinced you were better off without me, and that you would be so angry you wouldn't take me back."
"You've said it a few times, but I still don't get where this idea that Zach and I would be better off without you came from."
"Because I'm fucking broken. Yes, part of me was angry at you after Mia died. You kept acting like it was business as usual. I was convinced you should be as devastated as I was. I would hear you and Zach laughing and joking around, and it made me mad for a second. Then I realized I was holding you back."
"Oh, Scott... you have no idea how destroyed I was inside when Mia died. I wanted nothing more than to lie in bed and have you hold me all day. However, there are other things that also had to be dealt with. Someone needed to comfort Zach, who didn't really know what was happening, and someone needed to go into work to make sure the company was still operating. You'd hear me joke with Zach, but you didn't know it was just because the only thing that kept me going at all was knowing that my boy was still smiling. I did my best to try to comfort you, too, but it took all I had to keep my composure around you. I thought I needed to be strong for you, to show you that it'll get better."
"Ok, maybe I should just continue my story, since I know a lot of this now, I just didn't know it then."
"Ok, go on, then."
"So I was just going to try to get my thoughts together, and form a way to explain everything to you that didn't make it sound like I had lost my mind."
"But you did lose your damn mind! You panicked, don't remember actually packing up your stuff, and tried to kill yourself. Those are not exactly actions taken by someone thinking clearly," I snapped.
"Do you want me to explain, or not?" Scott asked angrily.
"You're the one that wants another shot at a relationship. I'd suggest you either get to your damn point or leave and never come back."
Scott slumped back in his chair. I took a few breaths to calm down.
"Scott, I'm sorry. You're trying to explain. It's just that some of the things you're saying make no sense to me."
"Yeah, I know. That's why I just want you to bear with me while I'm telling you what I was going through. I know my reasons and rationales suck ass, but that's all I have."
"Ok, just keep going. You wanted to figure out how to explain yourself."
"It's not only that. I also wasn't sure if I wanted to come back. No. That's not right. I wasn't sure if coming back was the best thing for me. I was worried that coming back would bring back everything with Mia.
"Realize, it's not like I was doing good by any stretch of the imagination. When I met you, you were that final push it took to get over the death of Steve. You weren't there when everything fell apart. And it's not like I'd recovered from Mia's death at all, either. Basically, I was using all those thoughts as an excuse to keep myself from actually coming to terms with anything."
"Yeah, but I've heard the stories."
"Hearing my parents tell you how I barely functioned and was in a catatonic state for a few months is a far cry from actually witnessing it. Even I knew that. Besides, when Mom and Dad talk about it, they do it lightheartedly, almost turning it into a bit of a joke. All of us were miserable when we were actually living through it.
"Anyway, I guess it was a good two or three weeks after I moved into the apartment that Tom came by unannounced. I hadn't spoken to him, or anyone for that matter, since I'd left. I never even knew how he found me until just now. Up to that point, I thought I had been doing better. When I saw him, I panicked, and slammed the door in his face. I realized I hadn't done a damn thing to fix anything.
"I started sliding deeper and deeper into depression. When Steve died, I probably thought about killing myself once or twice in passing, but never more serious than that. When I actually tried it in the hotel room, there had been no planning or buildup. I just hit the point where I felt like I couldn't take anymore and needed a way out."
I tried to cut him off, but he wouldn't let me.
"I know what you're going to say. 'Killing myself isn't a solution.' Yeah, I get that now. But I entered into a tailspin after Tom visited the first time. Especially when he kept coming back. Realize I was no longer actually suicidal, but I couldn't stop myself from thinking about it constantly. Finally, I came to the realization that if I didn't actually get help, I would probably end up killing myself, which terrified me. When I started seeing Will, he told me that was actually a good thing. He told me the worst thing when you're having suicidal thoughts is when they stop scaring you."
"Speaking of Will, why the fuck did you choose my best friend as your psychologist? And then refuse to even allow him to tell me that you were his patient?"
Scott went pale for a second. "Umm... well there's honestly not much that happened after I left that I'm particularly proud of, but choosing Will is definitely one of my lower points. I knew it was a douche move when I made it, but in my defense you know how I feel about shrinks."
"Yeah, which never made any sense. It's ok to ask for help when you need it."
"I'm finally learning that. I know people tried to explain it to me before. I guess I always thought that some shrink would try to change who I was, or something like that. Having actually gotten help, I can attest to how much it can help.
"Anyway, I knew going to see Will was a bad idea, but I didn't exactly trust anyone else. Don't be mad at him. He refused to see me at first, and offered me several names that he recommended. Even when I told him I would only speak to him, he still refused. Until I told him about the suicide attempt, that is. I know I manipulated him. He agreed to see me once or twice, just to help get me willing to see someone else. I refused to let him tell you anything at first so that you wouldn't know what was going on. I didn't want you to worry about me. I figured you were moving on with your life just fine without me."
"I wasn't though. Neither was Zach."
"I had no way of knowing that, though. For the record, Will was never very agreeable to helping me, but I didn't really give him an option. I knew when I told him about my suicide attempt he wasn't going to turn me away. I was also hoping he'd be able to fill me in on what was happening with you, but he always changed the subject when I asked. When did he and Jason get engaged, by the way? Last night was the first I'd heard about it."
"Last weekend, from what I understand. Stay on topic, Scott."
"Sorry. Anyway, I was surprised how much talking to him really helped me. We spent a lot of time focusing on how I cope with my emotions, especially negative ones. Did you know I have a problem keeping my emotions under control?" he asked with a sly grin.
"You don't say," I deadpanned sarcastically.
"So we worked on me controlling my emotions. You always called me a drama queen, but I think a bit better now."
"Scott..." I said in disbelief. "You showed up after five months to karaoke and demanded I take you back from the stage. If that's not a perfect example of 'overdramatic', I'm not sure what is."
"Ok, so I'm a work in progress. We spent more time focusing on how I deal with grief than anything. He was also the reason I realized I was the one who hurt you and Zach, and that it was my responsibility to fix it. Honestly, that happened pretty early on, but I wanted to make sure I had everything just right before I showed it to you."
"Showed what to me?"
"Hold on, I'm getting there. Anyway, sometime after I started seeing Will, I noticed a few times there were things I'd forgotten that I'd left behind. Like my coats. The first time, I went back because I wanted to grab my journals. I always came when I knew you were gone. I wasn't really trying to be sneaky, but I also knew you'd flip out if you saw me. I swore I always left the house with no trace I was ever there, but that damn alarm! Sorry if you thought you were losing your mind."
"You're sorry you confused me by forgetting to reset the alarm, but not for breaking into the house?"
"Ok, now you're being overdramatic," Scott said, sticking his tongue out at me. "It's still my house, too."
"I'm not being overdramatic. Yes, it's still your house according to the title. The fact you had to come when I wasn't home only proves you knew you weren't exactly welcome."
"Yeah, I guess you're probably right. Sorry, I should have thought of it that way. It's just that I didn't want to disturb you, or anything. I knew I would eventually have to talk to you, but I wanted to make sure my head was right and I could explain myself easily. Of course I finally got my chance, and I can't stop rambling.
"I knew I needed to come by and talk to you, and I decided to do so on your birthday. Happy Birthday, by the way."
"Thanks," I said. "When did you come by? I never even heard you knock, or anything." I had a sinking feeling in my gut that he may have seen more than he bargained for.
"I stopped by, but I never even knocked. When I got up to the door, I saw Tom playing with Zach. I watched for a few minutes through the door, but I quickly realized you weren't home. I realized you must have gone out with Will, or something, for your birthday. I felt like shit for missing your thirtieth. You gave me one helluva party, and for years, I was looking forward to returning the favor."
"You didn't miss much. How did you go from coming to talk to me on my birthday to the scene at karaoke?"
"I had been working on that for a while. I figured if I made a huge romantic gesture and begged you to take me back, you would love it."
"Scott, you're the giant-romantic-gestures guy."
"I don't buy that. You've gone out of your way to make them for me in the past."
"Yeah, but that's because they were for you. I knew how much you loved them."
"I do. I really do," he said with a grin.
"Besides, you didn't really beg me to take you back. None of your songs were very apologetic, and you almost came across as cocky."
"I never meant to act that way. I was just so positive it would work. I spent a lot of time trying to decide what song I wanted to sing. I loved how those songs were all about working to make a relationship work, and how the person being sung to completes the singer. But you're right. I guess they weren't the best songs I could sing. I almost chose "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, or "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" by Elton John. Neither of them felt right to me, though."
"They would've been better choices," I pointed out. "You just don't like to sing anything other than Top-40."
"That's not true. All those songs are a few years old. Hell, I remember the Hoobastank song blowing up when I was in college. I think the biggest problem is that I didn't really take your feelings into account. I just wanted to make it clear that I was willing to work on our relationship. I didn't think about making it clear I was sorry. I really am, by the way."
"I'm jumping back because I just remembered something," I told Scott. "You came by a few times. Why did you come by yesterday? When I got home from work, the alarm wasn't set. What did you forget that time?"
"Umm... yeah, actually, I came by to talk."
"You let yourself in when I was gone to wait for me so we could talk?"
"Yeah, that's what I realized almost as soon as I got here. I didn't even stay five minutes. As soon as I realized how creepy that was, I was gone. I waited around in the car for a bit, but I decided to just come again later."
"Why didn't you just wait on the doorstep or something?"
"I don't know. Will told me repeatedly that's what I should do. I told him about my plans for karaoke yesterday morning in our session, and he tried to talk me out of it. He thought it was a stupid idea, and that I needed to just come talk to you. I thought he was wrong, but it turns out I was. I was so confident my way would be successful. That's why I didn't wait around to talk.
"After karaoke, I tried to get Will to talk to me and give me help. He told me he'd see me at my next session, but until then, he wasn't going to speak to me. I really screwed up. I even tried to call Tom, but he keeps sending my calls to voicemail. I'm not sure anyone I know wants to talk to me anymore."
Scott buried his head in his arms, and let out a sob. Without thinking about it, I scooted my chair over and rubbed his back. I was still mad at him, there's no doubt about that. At the same time, I really felt for him. I'd forgotten how rambling his stories became, and how endearing I always found it despite my unending desire for him to just get to the point. Having heard everything he had to say, it just made sense to me. It turns out it wasn't just one reason Scott left. His mind overloaded and overwhelmed him. I could understand that.
The problem was I could understand every single individual thing that happened, but I had a hard time accepting the entirety of his story. However, he gave me hope that maybe I might be able to with time.
"Do you think you can give me another chance?" he asked quietly, pulling me from my thoughts.
"I don't know, Scott..." I said, trailing off as I thought over everything he revealed. The fact Scott had quit smoking and was seeking therapy made me think that maybe my husband was beginning to... I don't know... grow up? He seemed to be taking positive steps to better his life entirely on his own accord. I know part of the reason was to win me back, but he was also doing it for himself. To me, Scott's biggest fault was that he always viewed himself as perfect and was unable to acknowledge any shortcomings. But now...
"Noah, I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I'm already in therapy with Will for myself, but I want us to see someone together. Hell, it might even be good for us to see someone as a family you, me, and Zach. Despite how I acted last night, I'm not under some delusion that everything can just go back to how it was. I know we need to work to get back there, but I'm more than willing to. If you are, that is."
As much as I wanted to believe him, the way he left destroyed any trust I had in Scott. Even though I was fairly confident everything he said was sincere, and he actually did want to make things right between us, part of me couldn't shake the idea that Scott was willing to say anything for another chance. I didn't think my heart could take being broken by him again.
Fortunately, he gave me several minutes to think.
Finally, I said, "I want to talk to Will first."
Confusion filled Scott's face. "What do you mean? You want his advice on what to do? Just listen to your heart."
"I'm too conflicted right now, Scott. What I mean is I want to be able to talk to Will about you. I want you to waive doctor-patient confidentiality so he can give me his professional opinion."
Relief visibly washed over my husband. "I guess the cat's out of the bag when it comes to seeing him, anyway. If that's what it'll take, then I'll do it in a heartbeat. When did you want to do this?"
"Right now," I replied, pulling out my phone, and making the call. I knew he was leaving the office early to head to Macon.
"Hey, Noah. Is everything ok? I'm just leaving the Perimeter now. He hasn't done anything stupid has he? I can still turn around and come back if you need me."
"He's either done something very stupid or very brave. I'm not sure yet. Speaking of which, here he is," I said, handing the phone to Scott.
"Hi Will," he said.
Obviously I wasn't able to hear Will's response, but based on the fact Scott quickly replied with, "Sorry, Dr. Drake," I was pretty sure Will was rebuking Scott and insisting on nothing more than a professional relationship. The next few minutes were followed by a series of short responses from Scott, rarely more than two words. Finally, Scott did as I requested.
"Look, Noah wants me to waive privilege so you can talk to him... Yes... No... No, it's what I want to do as well... Yes, I'm aware that's what you told me at the beginning... Yes, I know... I'm sorry... I said I was sorry... alright, thank you. Here's Noah," he said, handing me my phone back.
"I'm here now, but give me a sec to get some privacy," I said into the phone. "Do you want coffee or something?" I asked Scott.
He nodded, so I walked inside. As soon as the door was closed, I was ready for Will's side.
"So what can you tell me, bud?"
"First off, are you still mad at me?"
"I don't think so. Scott told me how he basically guilt-tripped you into taking him on."
"Yeah, when he told me he was suicidal and wouldn't talk to anyone but me, I couldn't just ignore him. I hoped he'd come to his senses quickly enough, but I forgot just how stubborn he could be. Anyway, I can easily give you the highlights and probably answer most of your questions right now, but anything specific and I may need to look at my notes. I brought them with me. Do you want me to find a place to stop so I can use them?"
"No. I just want your opinion as to whether you think he's legitimately turned a corner, or if I'm always going to have to worry that looking at him the wrong way will cause him to run again. I'm not sure I can deal with him hurting me again."
"I get that, but in my opinion, he's definitely improved. I could see the progress after the first couple sessions. That's why I stopped pushing you for a divorce, and started trying to encourage you to go talk to him.
"The big thing is he never really processed his grief after Steve died. He suppressed it successfully for a long time to the point he thought he had processed it, but the second his life was shaken again, everything came back. Not only was he grieving the death of his daughter, but also Steve. I'm pretty sure he would have snapped even if he had only seen Steve's grave that day."
"Do you think we can make a relationship work?"
"I can't answer that for you. I think Scott's motivated to do his best, but it's a two-way street. It's going to take a lot of work on both sides for there to be a shot at getting back to what you had. I believe Scott is at a place where he is willing to do what it takes. The question then becomes are you willing to do the same?"
"Thanks, Will. I'm going back out to Scott now. You've told me all I need to know."
"Are you sure? You didn't even answer my question."
"I don't need to. I'll call you again at some point this weekend."
"Alright. Oh, and ask him about his writing. I've only seen a little bit of it, but he's really proud of it."
"Ok, I will. Have fun with Jason this weekend," I told my best friend.
"I always do," he replied.
"Remember, you have to pack, so you can't spend the whole time in bed."
"There's always the shower, the table, the couch, the counter... We'll find a way," Will joked.
I hung up and grabbed the pot of coffee I brewed while talking to Will. I carried two coffee cups and the pot out and set it on the patio table.
"So did he tell you I was certifiably insane?" Scott joked, trying to ease the tension.
"No, but I already knew you were," I retorted.
"Can I take the fact you brewed an entire pot as a good sign?" he asked hopefully.
"Yeah, I think so. I think we can make this work."
"Me too. We've been through so much together. I was a fucking idiot, and I do want to spend the rest of my life with you. I'm not naοve; I know it will be hard, but we can do it."
"Scott, I just don't want to give you any false hope. You hurt me really badly with your actions, and it's going to take a lot of work on my part to completely forgive you."
"Yeah, I know."
"You're going to keep seeing Will, right?"
"Yes. He's helped me so much, but I know I have a long way to go. I didn't expect therapy to help as much as it has, and I want to keep working at it."
"Good. I also want us to start seeing couples counseling."
"Actually, Will already gave me a couple names of people he recommends. I can call and make an appointment for Monday, if you want."
"That'd be great. Also, the three of us are going to do family counseling. I've done a shitty job with Zach, and he's just beginning to get back to his old self. He's really hurting, and needs some therapy as well.
"Oh, and while I'm thinking about Zach, I want you to be aware that even if everything goes smoothly for you and I, if you can't patch your relationship with Zach, it's a deal-breaker. I'm not going to force him into a situation where he'll be unhappy. I'm not trying to scare you off, or anything; I just want to lay everything out on the table."
"I understand. I never really thought about how my actions would hurt you guys."
"I know you didn't. That doesn't make it easier to deal with, but I'd like to think if you were thinking more rationally, you would've just called me."
"Me too. Any other ground rules moving forward?"
I thought for a minute before responding.
"Let's see... start coming to work. Just so you know, Bernice may be pissed at you because I offered her your job if she gets the game ready for launch ahead of schedule. For now, I think it's best if we limit our interaction to the therapy sessions and work. I'm not jumping ass first into this relationship again. It's going to take a lot of time to get back to where we were."
"Yeah, that makes sense. By the way, even if you offered for me to move back in, I was going to wait until we're in a better place. I'm not sure the two of us around each other all the time is a good idea yet. There's too much between us at this point."
"Shit. I completely forgot. Before we go any further, I have a confession to make," I told him. "A few months ago, I met this guy, Mike. We got to know each other, and he actually took me out for my birthday. One thing led to another, and we ended up sleeping together. It was just the one time, and I've already told him I couldn't see him anymore. I'm sorry, Scott, I really am."
"That's fine," was his entire response.
"That's it? 'That's fine'? I cheated on you."
"No, you didn't. I left. It's not like you were hitting the bathhouses after I went to bed every night. I forgive you, if that's what you want to hear. Just so you're not left wondering, I didn't have sex with anyone."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, Will warned me that it might happen, and that if it does, the only one to blame is me. I know you, and you wouldn't have slept with someone else if I hadn't left."
We sat in silence, sipping our coffees for a few minutes.
"So what do you think of everything we've talked about?" I asked, broaching the silence.
"I think all the stipulations make sense. There might be more that come up as time goes on, but we'll just have to play it by ear."
"Good, and I agree. I think it's important we take our time and do this right. When we first met, we jumped head-first into a relationship, and things got serious very quickly. Hell, we were living together after just a week."
"To be fair, a lot was thrown at us early, and we just rolled with the punches. Anyway, I should probably get out of your hair. You probably have to talk to Zach. I'll send you a text later today with the details for Monday's appointment," Scott said, standing up.
"That sounds good. Oh, before you go, Will suggested I ask you about something you wrote."
"Shit, I completely forgot about that. I even told you I had something to show you."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, Scott finally got the chance to say his piece. For the record, this is not Noah blindly saying 'yeah, we're good'. The two of them still have a long road ahead of them. Of course, there's also Zach. We'll find out how he'll react to all this next chapter!
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