This story occasionally includes 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, 2011 and 2012.

This is my first attempt at writing a story, so I would love to hear any feedback, be it positive or negative.  Send me an email with any comments or questions at movingonstory@gmail.com

I would like to thank Jay Gordon at jaygordonstories.com, for much of the inspiration to write this, in addition to the many amazing stories that I've read by a wide number of authors.  Jay's stories may have given me the inspiration, but all the excellent writers have created a desire in me to write.  Thank you all.

Finally, my wonderful husband gets a shout out for being so supportive, allowing me to bounce ideas off of him and for taking the time to edit for me.  He is apparently a glutton for punishment, as he keeps volunteering to look at the newest chapter for me.  They have been amazing, and any errors that remain are mine and mine alone. Thank you!

It feels amazing to not only set a schedule for posting, but to actually be able to keep it! I'm going to stick with posting every other week, which will allow me to keep posting chapters through the beginning of 2013, based only on what I've written!! There's still a lot more to the story to unfold, though, so keep reading!!

~Fitz

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

OUT WITH ZACH

 

 

As Noah pulled the car into a shopping center, I noticed the telltale neon sign of every child's favorite mouse-infested pizza restaurant/arcade. That's right, Chuck E. Cheese. Zach, strapped in his booster seat, was far too engrossed delivering pizzas to faraway places with his space-traveling fire truck to notice until the car came to a stop. For the first time since we left, he looked up from his truck.

 

"Scott? Are we there yet?" he excitedly inquired.

 

"Yes we are. Are you excited?" I asked, ignoring the look of jealousy that Noah was trying to hide. I knew the answer, but the little boy's squeal confirmed it.

 

He then looked around the parking lot.

 

"But where is it? I don't see Pizza Hut, Daddy. Are you losted?"

 

"No, buddy. We're going to a special pizza place in that building right over there," he said, pointing to the storefront. "They have all sorts of fun games and rides we can do after we eat."

 

"Oh. Ok." Noah's face fell a little at the less-than-expected reaction from his son. I knew it wouldn't be until we got inside and Zach actually saw everything that he'd get excited. For the moment, he was just taking Noah's response as an explanation for why we weren't at a Pizza Hut.

 

Noah and I got out of the car, and Noah quickly came around and unstrapped Zach from his car seat. The boy held his father's hand as we walked across the parking lot. As we got close the door, Zach froze.

 

"Daddy? I don't wanna go anymore." His eyes were wide and tears were beginning to well up. His lower lip had distended and was trembling a little.

 

Noah crouched down and took both of the boy's tiny hands into his own.

 

"Why's that Zachy? Tell me what's wrong."

 

"I don't like mouses. They come in and take our food and eat our house. Mommy's always yelling at them. I don't wanna go someplace that has mouses that will eat my pizza."

 

I was out of Zach's line of sight, but I still struggled to suppress a smile. I was impressed that he made the connection between the anthropomorphic mascot that was plastered on the window and real mice. I then realized the implications were that his home-life was even worse than I had previously thought. I hadn't seen any signs of an infestation while we were there, but the fact wasn't too much of a surprise.

 

Noah looked up at me with a bewildered look on his face as he struggled to come up with an answer that would appease the four-year-old's concerns.

 

After a moment, he explained, "This mouse is a special mouse. He's our friend, and his name is Chuck E."

 

The tears that had threatened seemed to dry up immediately as Zach hopefully asked, "So the mouses won't eat my pizza?"

 

"No buddy. But you'll have to share with me and Scott. Is that ok with you?"

 

"Of course I'll share with you, Daddy. Don't be silly," the boy responded with a giggle. He still didn't look completely sold on the idea, so I bent over and addressed him.

 

"Zach, can I tell you a secret? Noah, step away for a second. This is just between me and Zach."

 

Noah looked a little confused, but did as I requested. After a short whispered conversation by me and Zach, I beckoned Noah back over just as Zach responded loudly with a 'YEAH!'. I whispered to him that I'd explain when we sat down, and he simply nodded. With that, we walked into the hell that is Chuck E. Cheese for an adult, both of us holding one of Zach's hands.

 

Immediately upon entry, Noah and I hit critical mass of sensory overload. Flashing lights, sound effects, and music filled the entire room. I was glad it was still early on a Friday, and the place wasn't very full. Hopefully, we wouldn't have to worry about crowds or lines and Zach would have the time of his life. Speaking of, his eyes were wide with amazement as he struggled to take everything in. Anytime he tried to focus on something, a new thing would catch his eyes.

 

They stamped Zach and Noah right away with invisible ink, so that they could ensure that Zach left with the right adult. He was disappointed that he couldn't see his stamp, but they showed him how it looked under a UV light and that got him excited because now he was 'magical'. The poor girl gave in and stamped my hand too. According to Zach, it wasn't fair that he and Noah were magical and I wasn't. He even turned her logic around on her.

 

"How can you be sure that Scott leaves with the right person? I don't want him to get losted and go home with a stranger."

 

We were led to the tables, and quickly ordered a large pepperoni for the three of us. According to Zach, it's the only 'real' way to eat pizza. I made mental note that if I ever had the opportunity, I'd eventually challenge him on that, but today was all about the little guy. He sat there drinking out of a crazy straw while staring at the creepy (at least to me and Noah) animatronic band that was 'playing' really bad music. But he loved it, and it gave Noah and I some time to talk amongst ourselves.

 

"So what is it you told him outside?" Noah asked. I think he was a little frustrated that I had shared a secret with his son that he knew nothing about, but he didn't convey it. His tone was simply one of curiosity. I laughed.

 

"I told him that I was a little afraid of mice, too, but if he could be brave and face his fear, then I'd be able to as well. I also told him that you didn't know about my fear and that I was concerned you wouldn't like me anymore if you found out!"

 

"Wait, are you afraid of mice?"

 

"Of course not. I might scream like a little girl if one jumped out when I opened a drawer or something, but after the surprise wore off, I'd catch the little fuc...um... bugger," I quickly amended, glancing at Zach, "and make sure it never bothered me again."

 

"Nice save."

 

"Thanks. I'm not really used to censoring myself, not that Zach hasn't heard all the words before, clearly. But I don't feel right saying them in front of him."

 

"I know what you mean. Back to the point," He said, with a malicious twinkly in his eyes, "I see how you are, manipulating my son to get in my good graces."

 

I giggled a little at that, before winking. "Well, is it working?"

 

I could tell that Noah decided to interpret my question as a serious one, and I could already hear the spiel about how I didn't need to do anything to make him like me and that he just wanted me to be myself. I put my hand on his knee to preemptively cut him short.

 

"Sorry, I was trying to be coy. Besides, I think Zach gave me the four-year old equivalent to what you were about to say: he told me that he could tell that you already liked me just fine, and while my secret was safe with him, you would like me even if I was afraid of 'mouses'." Yes, I even used the air-quotes.

 

"That's my boy," Noah said after a hearty laugh that managed to even draw Zach's attention for a moment before he returned to staring at the robots and bopping in his seat to the crap blasting through the stereos. "You have to admit, he's a real smart cookie for a little guy."

 

"That he is." I responded with a laugh. I reached over and ruffled Zach's hair, which only got him to glare at me for a second and try to smooth it before returning to what he was doing.

 

We didn't get the chance to talk further, as our waitress brought us our delicious steaming-hot pepperoni-and-cheese-covered cardboard. Zach seemed to like it, though.

 

I was surprised at how neat of an eater Zach was. He managed to only get sauce on his cheeks, nose, hands, and one spot on his shirt. He quickly ate a slice of pizza and a few bites from a second slice before promptly informing us, "I'm full. Can we go play games yet?"

 

"Not yet, little buddy," Noah told him. "Let Scott and I finish eating first, then we'll all go over together.

 

"Ok," was the boy's entire response, as he quickly returned his attention to the music. I expected him to get upset, whine, and make a scene until he got what he wanted. I continued to be impressed that such a well-mannered and easy-going kid was the result of Willow's parenting.

 

After a few minutes, we had eaten our fill, and we all got up and walked over to the games. I was shocked when he came over to me and took my hand as we went. Noah gave me a little smile, but I could tell there was just a twinge of jealously beneath the surface. We gave Zach a small bucket of tokens and told him to have fun. With that, he was off. We watched with amusement as Zach played the arcade games and skeeball, and just about everything else that he could do. Wait. Let me try that again. While Zach kept getting frustrated at not being able to win tickets, Noah and I frantically pumped token after token into machines in a mad-dash attempt to win as many tickets as possible for Zach to trade in.

 

For Zach's part, he quickly tired of the games that gave prizes and began riding the little mechanical animals and playing in the tubes. Those sort of attractions were more his speed anyway, so it wasn't a big shock that he gravitated towards those. They no longer have ball pits, which made me a little sad for him, because those things were always my favorite when I was a kid. Since it wasn't crowded, we just let him do his thing as we continued to work towards allowing him to trade-in for a cheap prize. Fortunately, despite the din from the arcade games, there weren't many people, so we didn't have to deal with crowds around any of the games, and Noah and I were easily able to continue talking.

 

"He really is a great kid. I can see why you want to devote every moment of your weekends exclusively to him," I said, adding on a 'Yes!' when I managed to drop the last skeeball into the hole worth the highest number of points. The light flashed, and a buzzer sounded, apparently indicating that I had 'won'. I excitedly ripped off the five tickets that popped out as Noah hip-checked me out the way for his turn.

 

"Yeah, he is," Noah responded, managing to successfully miss all the holes on his first throw. "But to be honest, it's been even more fun sharing my father-son time with you as well. I keep getting a little jealous at how quickly he's taken to you, but that's my issue, and it's not really a big deal. I know it's still REALLY early in our relationship, and I hope this doesn't freak you out to much, but I really do think I love you. I know you don't feel the same way, but I just had to tell you how I feel."

 

I sighed. "I know you do. I'm not really sure how I feel yet. This is all so strange to me. As you know, despite all of my experiences, I'd never really dated anyone before Steve. Everything just happened so naturally between the two of us. I know I really like you, and I know I haven't felt this way about anyone in my life other than Steve. Just give me time to figure it all out. Besides, you have to admit that going with your new boyfriend to Chuck E. Cheese with his son is a little strange for a date," I finished with a chuckle, hip-checking him right as he went to throw a ball, which caused him to miss his target altogether. He did manage to get 50 points for the ramp next to ours, which I thought was particularly impressive.

 

We both burst out in uncontrollable laughter for a few moments, which drew the attention of all of the workers and the few customers.

 

"See?" Noah said, barely able to speak while laughing. "Between what you just said and the way you acted. That's why I love you."

 

"I know," I responded, matter-of-factly, as he threw his last ball. The bulb didn't light up, and the buzzer didn't go off, yet out popped five tickets. I felt bamboozled, but I wasn't really surprised. I've played enough carnival games and gambled enough to know that the house always wins.

 

Noah grabbed his winnings and turned to me, putting his hands on my waist. He leaned in slowly to kiss me, just as Zach shouted, "NO!!! STOP!!!"

 

We looked over, and the little guy was running towards us. We were both confused, but he just went by in a blur. We turned to follow his course. He ran straight to the mascot, which had apparently been walking our way, and stood in front of him defiantly.

 

"You can't come down here! My friend, Scott, doesn't like mouses. I'm gonna protect him from you!"

 

I stifled a laugh at the scene I was witnessing. Apparently my ploy had backfired, and now Zach was trying to 'save me'. Noah leaned over and told me, "Look what you did."

 

With a chuckle, I responded, "Yeah, but since I'm supposedly afraid of him, you have to be the one to figure out how to diffuse this."

 

"Damn. Oh well, just follow my lead. Try to look a little apprehensive, but I doubt that Zach will really notice."

 

With that, we approached Zach from behind. Noah startled him a little when he put his hands on the child's shoulders, but Zach simply responded with a 'Hi Daddy!'

 

"Hey buddy. Remember when I said that Chuck E. is our friend? We don't need you to protect us from our friends. But I'm sure Scott is grateful that you wanted to keep him safe, aren't you Scott?" He added the last part with a nudge to my ribs.

 

"Sure thing. Now that I know you'll protect me from him, if I give him a hug, will you give him one too?"

 

Zach tapped his chin in thought for a moment before simply responding with his patented, "Ok."

 

While hugging the mascot, I whispered, "I'm so sorry about this. He's afraid of mice and didn't want to come in until I told him that I was afraid, too and needed him to be brave for me."

 

I was a little surprised when a teenage girl's voice came from the costume with a laugh, "Guess that backfired on you, huh?"

 

Zach took his turn hugging Chuck E. and we got a few cute pictures of the two together. He then tried to talk to the mascot, but got frustrated when the mouse wouldn't respond. Then he decided to try to show 'him' his new favorite rides. I quickly explained that I was sure that Chuck E. had other friends to spend time with, relieving the poor woman of the boy's attention.

 

Zach watched us play games for a few minutes, and we both took turns playing racing simulators with Zach on our laps so he could steer. The three of us eventually went to the prize window and Zach excitedly handed over his tickets. He chose a blue monster finger puppet that we could have probably bought in a store for two dollars, but it made him happy. He also got three little green soldiers.

 

As we walked away from the counter and towards the exit, he stopped and gave one of the soldiers to Noah, gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, and said excitedly "Thank you, Daddy! You're the bestest!" Then he turned to me, and gave me one of his soldiers as well. "Thank you, Scott! You're the bestest, too." With that he unhesitatingly gave me a big hug and kiss as well.

 

We each held one of Zach's hands as we walked out of the restaurant. Noah had insisted on paying for everything. His wallet may have been much lighter, but both of our hearts were much fuller. I noticed that the shopping center had one of the big box retail stores, so I suggested we go in and replace his busted car seat with something new. Noah agreed, so off we went. It turns out that I was right. Zach should have been using a booster seat. They had several different styles so we let him choose the one he wanted to ride in. Of course he chose the most expensive one with all the bells and whistles. Hell, it even had a cup holder. I could tell that Noah wasn't too happy with the choice, so I quickly offered to pay, thinking nothing of it.

 

We walked back to the car, and quickly put the new booster seat in. Zach happily jumped in, and Noah secured him. We climbed in the front, and Noah suggested we get some ice cream. My stomach churned slightly at the thought, as I was still processing lunch, but the squeal in the back of the car was enough to signify our next stop.

 

The entire drive, Zach sat in his seat playing with his new soldier and finger puppet. I have no idea what they were doing, despite the fact that Zach was chattering excitedly the whole way. He was in his own world the way only a young child (or crazy person) can be. I was just content to hold Noah's hand during the short drive.

 

He stopped playing as soon as we pulled to a stop and the toys were quickly forgotten. He was temporarily frustrated because he was ready to get out but couldn't really move because of the straps. I quickly released Zach, and picked him up out of the car. I went to put him down, but he asked me to carry him. I gave Noah a look, shrugged, and tossed the boy over my shoulder in a fireman's carry. He giggled the entire way in.

 

Still holding Zach upside down, I ordered a small chocolate cone for me, Noah ordered a butter-pecan, and then I turned around so Zach could place his order. He got a large chocolate waffle cone. He wasn't nearly as successful eating this neatly as he had been with the pizza. Pretty much every exposed part of him was covered. It helped that Noah covered him in napkins before he ate, but only a little.

 

"Oh, crap," I said suddenly to Noah. "You still have to call Richard. You want to step outside and call now?"

 

Noah let out a loud sigh, before saying, "I guess I'd better. I'm just worried because this will probably be one of the most awkward things I've ever done."

 

I patted his leg supportively. "I know it'll be awkward. But he's a damn good lawyer and a true professional. He may have a problem with me meeting someone new, but he's not going to be too difficult, because he knows that it's not about you and me, but about you and Zach."

 

"I know, I know, but thanks for saying it out loud, Mr. Rational." Then, to Zach, he added, "I need to go make a quick phone call. Can you stay with Scott and keep him company?"

 

Zach just nodded - his content apparent beneath his gooey mess of face.

 

With that, Noah slid out of the booth after giving me a kiss on the cheek. He ruffled Zach's hair, carefully avoiding the spots that had somehow come into contact with chocolate.

 

I watched with amusement as Zach somehow managed to eat the entire ice cream cone, and tried my best to scrub him clean while he squirmed. I was grateful he didn't shriek or anything. Instead he just giggled as he tried to wriggle away from me.

 

I could see Noah was still on the phone with Richard when I had finished cleaning up his son. He appeared to be doing more listening than talking, which I interpreted as a good sign. Suddenly Zach asked me a question.

 

"Do you like my daddy?"

 

Great, now I was being given the third-degree by a child.

 

"Yes I do. I like him very much. Is that ok?"

 

Zach once again tapped his chin, as if he was contemplating the meaning of life. After a moment he responded.

 

"I guess. He's a lot happier than usual."

 

Psychoanalysis from a four-year old. And I hate shrinks. At this point, I was committed to the conversation, so I asked, "Is he usually sad?"

 

"No. He's just happier."

 

I decided to turn the question around on the boy. "Well, do you like me?"

 

He giggled at that. "Of course I do! You're fun." His face fell for a second, and he asked me with sad-eyes, "Do you like me?"

 

"I think you're just about the greatest little guy I've ever met."

 

He immediately scowled at me.

 

"What?"

 

"I told you! I'm not little anymore! I'm FOUR!" As if to emphasize this, he held up four grubby little fingers.

 

I laughed at that, and mussed his hair, to which he giggled. "I'm sorry. You're the greatest BIG guy I've ever met. Is that better?"

 

He nodded, got off his seat, and climbed in my lap, laying his head on my chest.

 

"Zach, can I ask you a question?"

 

"Yeah," he replied sleepily.

 

"I know you said you're mommy is mean sometimes. Does she ever hurt you?"

 

"Most of the time I play 'hide' when she starts yelling, but some days I'm too slow," was all the tired boy could muster before his eyes fluttered shut.

 

I made a mental note to talk to Noah about that, and knew someone would have to talk to Zach in more detail about that later. I just held Zach against me while he slept for about ten minutes, or so, until Noah walked back into the store with a big smile.

 

"You were right about being a professional. He started out by apologizing in advance if he ever steps out of line, but made it clear that this is uncharted territory for him. That closest the conversation ever got to dealing with your past with Steve, and that made me feel a lot more comfortable.

 

"Anyway, he managed to look at a lot of the previous custody hearings and even got his hands on some of the findings from Child Services. Apparently they've been suspicious, too. Those photos you sent him seemed to have really helped to open doors on this case.

 

"The bad news is that no action can be done immediately. Child Services is going to do a surprise visit tomorrow while we're at the trailer. Since they don't usually show up on Saturday, I doubt she'll be able to clean up her act in time."

 

I put my hand up, to let him breath, and let me take in everything he was telling me.

 

"Well, that's all understandable, I guess. I'm glad things seem to be progressing in our favor. Does that mean there's good news?"

 

Noah didn't seem to catch my Freudian slip, and I wasn't about to point it out after I realized what I had said.

 

"Yeah, there's great news! In the event that Child Services feels that Zach needs to be removed from the home, I've already been extended emergency custody. Oh wait. There's an issue with that."

 

Noah's eye's darkened a little and his brow furrowed with worry. "You'll have to agree to it to. Since I live in an efficiency, Richard suggested that I use your home as my temporary address. Please don't be mad at me. I agreed to it without thinking, then realized that would mean that I just moved in with my new boyfriend, child in tow, without even asking if that was ok. It would only be for a few days. As soon as we get back to the city, I'll find a larger apartment for me and Zach to share."

 

I just smiled. "Of course you can move in. I mean, this isn't exactly the timeframe I expected before we discussed moving in with each other, but this is a special circumstance. BUT," I put a little too much emphasis on that word, and Zach rearranged himself slightly in my arms before relaxing again. I waited until he was fast asleep again before continuing. "I'm not saying you're 'moving in' with me in the same capacity as we might discuss in the future. We'll figure out the best arrangement, but you're welcome to use either a spare room or the couch if need be."

 

Noah seemed surprised by my response.

 

"What? You expected me to say 'no'?" I said with a grin.

 

He laughed his response off. "No. I expected you to have to think about it first. I expected you to have questions about sleeping arrangements. I didn't expect you to already know the answers I was planning on giving. Even while I was on the phone, my mind was in overdrive trying to find a way to sell it to you. The way I see it, Tom and Sarah pretty much share a room, so there's practically one unused bedroom and the couch. I'll take the couch and we can put Zach in the bedroom. Are you sure that'd be ok, though? He'd be right next to you while I'd be further down the hall."

 

"You, my dear," I said with a chuckle, "are thinking way too hard about this. Zach needs a place to stay that's child-appropriate in case Child Services determines he needs to be removed from Willow. I can provide that. We'll figure everything else out as needed."

 

Noah leaned over and kissed me gently on the lips. We were met with a few uncomfortable looks from other patrons. I was quickly reminded why I preferred to stay in the city. I picked up Zach and carried him to the car, and strapped him in his seat. As I climbed in the passenger seat, I asked Noah to take us back to the retail store we'd been in earlier.

 

"Why? Do you need something?"

 

"I just had a thought, and want to look into something," was my entire reply. I had a nagging feeling that Child Services couldn't inspect Willow fast enough.

 

I climbed out of the car in front of the store, and told Noah to just wait for me. Zach was still asleep in the back, so it would just be easier go alone, anyway.

 

I walked in and went straight for the electronics area. I grabbed the cheapest disposable cell phone they had. After paying, I used my phone to activate it while standing there, while a bewildered employee was clearly thinking I was a drug dealer or something. I programmed my phone number in it, and put it away for the moment.

 

Noah was carrying Zach into the store very quickly as I walked out. I shot up my eyebrow in a questioning look, but he just mouthed 'bathroom'. I nodded and walked in that direction. I guess the ice cream and drinks had worked their way through the boy's system already. Fortunately, an accident was avoided.

 

Returning to Willow's trailer, we found it vacant. She must have stepped out. I breathed a sigh of relief because I had been fortunate enough to avoid any confrontation with her. The three of us played games for a while and just kept busy. Zach took another nap, during which time I called Richard and told him that it was fine if Noah used my address temporarily. Apparently, he had assumed it was because he had already submitted the information to Child Services. He asked to speak to Noah again, so I went inside to get him. I was surprised that Zach was up again.

 

"Hey buddy," I said, after Noah had stepped out. "I thought you were asleep."

 

"Not anymore! I'm awake," Zach said, proudly.

 

"I see that. Hey, I got something for you." I slipped the disposable phone out of my pocket and gave it to the boy. "This is just in case you REALLY need help. Just press the green button and it will call me. Ok?"

 

"COOOOOL! Ok, Scott."

 

"Don't tell anyone I gave you that, especially your mommy, you promise?"

 

"I promise!" And with that, he walked into his bedroom and hid the phone under his pillow. It would be discovered if someone cleaned the room, but I doubted that would happen anytime soon.

 

Willow stumbled back in around five, clearly high. I was introduced to her as Noah's 'friend'. Surprisingly, she didn't seem fazed at all, but it could have been the drugs. She was definitely much calmer than when we were there earlier. We weren't there too much longer before Noah announced that we needed to go for the night. Zach seemed confused and started to cry. Willow didn't even seem to notice.

 

I knew that Noah usually slept on the couch while he was there, but insisted we stay at a nearby hotel this weekend. Separate rooms, of course. He explained as best he could to Zach, and it took nearly an hour before the boy calmed down enough that we felt ok leaving.

 

He gave each of us a big hug before we did, his bottom lip still quivering slightly and his eyes red from crying. I made a big deal of whispering in his ear that if something happened and he needed us, he just had to call. He simply nodded and squeezed me tighter.

 

We left the trailer, and I could tell that Noah was conflicted. I offered to have him just drop me at the hotel and he could go back, but he refused.

 

"No. It's best for us to get away for the evening, I think, we need some grownup time. And some real food. It also doesn't really make sense for me to stay anyway. Zach will be asleep most of the time. Besides, I wouldn't feel right bringing you out here and ditching you for the night. Since I'm here every week, it never made sense to constantly spring for a hotel when I can crash for free on the couch. But it's never good sleep, just convenient. I know Zach was upset when we left, but he'll forget all about it when he sees us in the morning."

 

"Ok, if you insist. I just really don't want to take away the little time you get with your son."

 

"Don't think of it that way. Besides, based on my conversations with Richard, I really think that I'm going to have custody by the time this weekend's over," Noah said, excitedly.

 

"I think you're right, so we should definitely celebrate, or at least eat. Just no pizza or ice cream," I groaned, clutching my stomach.

 

With a laugh, Noah quickly agreed. We went to a nice Italian place he'd seen before. Over two heaping bowls of pasta and glasses of good wine, we chatted about everything under the sun. Somehow the conversation kept coming back to Zach, and I was certain it wasn't just Noah directing it there.

 

"So how come you've never been here before?" I asked at one point. "The food is amazing."

 

"That it is, but it's usually me, Zach, and Willow. I'm not sure they'd even let her in, and you saw how Zach fared with ice cream. Just imagine him with spaghetti sauce! Usually I just order a pizza and have it delivered."

 

"Well if Zach comes to stay with us, we'll have to fix that. Granted, I can only imagine the messes that will ensue, but I look forward to it." My voice had taken on a wispy quality as I imagined a future with Noah and Zach in it.

 

"I know you really like Zach, but do you think we're moving too fast? I mean it seems like you've already moved us in completely in your mind."

 

He raised a good point, and I thought for a few minutes before responding.

 

"Honestly, I don't think we are, at least from my perspective. I still don't know exactly where our relationship is going, but I definitely want to find out. I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for, but I'm not interested in something casual, if that's what you're implying. I mean, I know that I want something long term, if that clarifies anything. I know you're interested in a more long-term relationship, too, so if I'm moving too fast let me know. I just know that I've already learned the lesson of going for what you want, and if the next chapter in my life involves you and your son, I'm only too happy to share it with you."

 

"You know how I feel about you, Scott," Noah responded, wiping a tear from his the corner of his hazel eyes as they sparkled gently in the candlelight. "I'm not going to say it again, because I know you're not ready for that, but I'm definitely in this relationship for the long haul. You are the single most amazing person I've ever met. Shit, you're almost better than me with Zach, and you've only known him one day. He really loves you already, and that means even more to me than anything I feel towards you."

 

"I gathered as much when he asked me sadly if I liked him, after I told him that I liked you a lot. That was just before he crawled in my lap and took an impromptu nap while you were on the phone."

 

"Fuck. I should've gotten a picture of the two of you. It was so adorable seeing the two of you like that. He was completely at ease, and you looked so happy."

 

I reached over and patted his hand gently. "Hopefully, there will be plenty of opportunities for pictures galore in the future. Now I'm stuffed, and honestly worn out after today. You ready to go back to the hotel?"

 

He agreed, so I paid and he drove us to the place we were staying. It was a basic, no-frills motel, but I was pleasantly surprised that the rooms were quite clean. We even had connected adjoining rooms. We cuddled on my bed for a while and kept talking. Finally, around eleven, Noah wandered back to his room, and I changed and crawled into bed.

 

-  -  -  *  *  *  -  -  -

 

I had just fallen asleep when my cell phone rang. My heart leapt into my throat as I saw it was Zach.

 

"Zach, are you there? Is everything ok?"

 

I was trying to keep my voice calm, but I was in the midst of a full-blown panic attack. I could hear Willow screaming in the background for a few seconds before a small, scared voice came through the speaker.

 

"Scott? Help me."

 

And then the line went dead.

 

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I'd like to thank my readers for all the wonderful comments I have received. A very special thanks to those of you have emailed me. Please, keep them coming!!!!

As I've posted in every chapter, and in the majority of emails I've responded to, my story is also hosted at http://fitz.thestorycloset.org.  If you register for the website, you can subscribe to "Fitz's Subscribed Readers Forum", which is located at the bottom of the forum.

The story's Facebook group, 'Moving On' is a good place to also receive updates on the story. Mostly, it seems to be used for me to provide teases or vent mild writing frustrations, but it's welcome to all for whatever purposes that come. It is a 'closed group', meaning nothing posted in the group is visible to nonmembers, and the group does not show up on your profile.  However, searching for the group will bring up the name and the members of the group, so it is not completely safe from prying eyes.  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/.

My story is also available at http://movingonstory.weebly.com. Not only does it host all current chapters of Moving On, but I just added character bios! I haven't finished writing them all, and I still need to find pictures of the characters. If you have any suggestions for ANY NAMED CHARACTER, please email them to me!

Alright...enough meaningless rambling!  Don't forget to send me feedback, sign up for the Facebook group if you want, and please visit my new site!!

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