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!

Wow! I'm so sorry to everyone. I made this file two weeks ago but somehow forgot to actually submit it to Nifty!! SORRY EVERYONE!!!! (I was wondering why I'd received fewer emails than usual recently!)

~Fitz

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

FIRESTORM

 

 

Adrenaline hit me, and suddenly I felt like I could and would move entire buildings if Zach needed me to. I quickly dialed 911 on my phone and started banging on the connecting door to Noah's room frantically. He opened it groggily, wearing a gray t-shirt and a pair of black shorts.

 

"Get dressed. Now!" Was all I managed to get out before the emergency call was answered. To the man on the other end of the phone, I blurted, "Look, I don't know exactly what's wrong, but you need to send police and possibly an ambulance to Green Acres Estates. I just got a frantic call from a young boy living in trailer 17. His mother is a drug addict and I could hear her screaming in the background."

 

Noah, who hadn't moved since he opened the door, had gone completely pale and his mouth hung open. I frantically gestured for him to put on clothes. Instead, he grabbed his keys and wallet, and practically dragged me by my free hand towards my door.

 

"Sir, police are already on the scene, as are the paramedics. A fire truck is on its way."

 

"A fire truck?! Can you tell me what the fuck is going on?!"

 

Noah stopped dead in his tracks as we were halfway out the door. He looked like he was about to completely lose it. I pulled him into a hug with my free hand and he buried his face in my neck as he began to sob.

 

"Sir, all I can tell you is that the proper emergency personnel have already been dispatched and that the situation is under control."

"What about Zach? Is he ok?"

 

The operator took a deep breath, and when he spoke, I could tell that his professional detachment had faded.

 

"Look. I don't know. All I know is that all of our circuits are filled with calls coming in about that trailer. I wish I could tell you more, but even if I DID know anything, I wouldn't be allowed to tell you until that information is released publically."

 

"Fuck! Well, we'll be there in ten minutes, so hopefully, we'll know soon."

"Sir! I don't recommend you go over there."

 

Without responding, I hung up. I quickly dialed Richard. Unsurprisingly, I woke him up. I didn't have time to beat around the bush, so I immediately started barking at him.

 

"Dick! Shit's going down at the trailer. 911 wouldn't tell me anything, but we're on our way over there now. Tell me what to do!"

 

"Whoa, Scott. Breathe. Are cops and/or paramedics on their way there? If the situation is that bad, I don't want you guys going in there without the police. "

 

"They're all already there, but apparently a fire truck is on its way too. What do we do about Zach?"

 

"Well, first off, we don't know how bad the situation is yet. My guess is they'll take care of him, and hold him at the police precinct until Child Services gets contacted, but at this hour, who knows how long that will be. Tell you what: if you go and as Noah's attorney, I'm not actually sure if you SHOULD go but if you do, just keep me informed. For now, I'm going to hang up and call the director, who I've talked with about Zach several times today. Hopefully, if I bring them in earlier the whole situation will be just a little bit less complicated."

 

"Ok."

 

With that, I rudely hung up. I realized immediately afterwards that I should have been more gracious, but shrugged it off. If Richard had a problem with it, I'll apologize later. I was under duress, after all.

 

Noah was a wreck, which was understandable, but I was a little worried about how he was holding up under the pressure.

 

"I'm going. Do you want to stay here? I can find the place again if you're not sure you can handle it."

 

He just shook his head, seeming to strengthen his resolve. "No. I need to be there. I just...what if it's too late? I'll never forgive myself if..." He was unable to finish the sentence, and just buried his head in my neck again, sobbing.

 

I half-led, half-carried him to the car. I helped him into the backseat, where he immediately curled up, clutching himself, muttering "Oh, God. Oh, God." Over and over again.

 

I pushed the car to its limits. Had I obeyed the speed limit, stopped at stop signs and red lights, it would've taken us ten minutes. I made it there in three. Part of me had wondered why I hadn't encountered any cops on the way, but that was answered as we pulled into the trailer park. Red and blue flashing lights lit the entire complex. A flickering orange glow from the direction of Willow's trailer nearly stopped my heart, but I forced myself to continue. It didn't do any good, as we were quickly stopped by a police perimeter.

 

Seeing this barrier seemed to spring Noah to life. Immediately he was out of the car. Despite his attempts to beg, plead, curse, and threaten, they wouldn't let us through. Nor would they give us any information about what was happening. I heard other onlookers complaining that this was all "the drugged-out whore's" fault, but no one knew any specifics that would help us find out about Zach.

 

Fortunately, we were saved by the arrival of a black sedan and a van labeled Child Protective Services. A woman in her late fifties climbed out of the sedan, and walked right up to us. She looked like she was still trying to wake up, and I hoped that it was the director that Richard had spoken of.

 

"You. Officer. What's the situation?"

"Ma'am the primary situation is under control. There's a fire in one of the trailers that's nearly contained, but I have strict orders not to let anyone in the perimeter. Period."

"Fine. Get me whoever is in charge here. I need to find out the status of a little boy. Now."

 

"Yes Ma'am." He quickly patched the request through.

 

Without hesitating, the woman turned to us.

 

"Now I'm assuming you two are Scott Hudgins and Noah Abrams. Which one of you is Mr. Abrams? Oh, sorry, I'm Dr. Saunders, Director of the regional branch of Child Protective Services."

 

I pointed to Noah. She held out her hand, but I'm not sure Noah knew what to make of it. I could tell that he was in shock again. I quickly shook her hand.

 

"If we were meeting tomorrow, I'd say it's a pleasure to meet y'all, but under these circumstances...Let's just say that this is the worst part of the job.

 

"For the record, I've never met your son personally, Mr. Abrams, but rest assured that I'm up to date on everything that's been happening. However, before I say anything more, I need to know what's going on. I'm sure you don't know anything new since your lawyer called me, but he said he didn't really know specifics. Can you fill any details in for me?"

 

I told Dr. Saunders about the cell phone I'd given Zach in case of an emergency. "I just had a bad feeling that I couldn't shake," I explained. Then, I detailed the short call I had received, emphasizing that I could her Willow screaming in the background, but couldn't make out anything she said.

 

"Ok. Well that does help some. Now, for the record, I have to tell you Mr. Abrams, that I can't order any action take place until I get a lot more details. But, I'm the one who signed off on the emergency custody agreement, so if I feel it comes to that, there will be no issues."

 

Noah simply nodded. Then said, "Noah."

 

"Excuse me?" the woman responded, confused.

 

"Call me Noah," he said. I noticed that he seemed much calmer and more composed than he had been just moments before. Even when he came alive when we first approached the barricade, he was nothing like this. Then, he was just reacting.

 

He stuck out his hand, which Dr. Saunders accepted.

 

"Sorry. I'm tearing myself apart trying to figure out what I should be doing. And I'm so scared."

 

"Noah, look at me. You're doing great. If it was my son in this situation, I'd be acting just like you. Possibly even worse. I promise that as soon as I have any information, I'll pass it on to you. For now, just remember that Zach needs you to be strong for him, ok?" She glanced up. I followed her gaze and saw a man approaching the barricade. 

 

"Ah, Detective Martin. I should have known it was your crime scene. It has a little more big-city feel than most around these parts," Dr. Saunders said, reaching out her hand to shake the detective's, as he grinned and shook his head.

 

"Pardon me asking, ma'am, but what are you doing here? As far as I know, we just called your office a few minutes ago, and I've never seen you respond personally to an emergency call like this," the detective asked.

 

"I was made aware of how bad the boy's living situation was earlier today. When I got an frantic call from an old friend about an emergency involving him, I mobilized the troops and got here as fast as I could. Now, please, fill me in on exactly what the situation is."

 

She turned to us and excused herself, and the two moved down the police tape, out of ear shot.

 

I didn't know exactly what to do, so I just stood close to Noah and wrapped my arm gently around his shoulder.

 

"I don't know what to do. I feel so damn helpless," Noah confessed after a moment.

 

"You're doing all you can right now. When Dr. Saunders gets back, I'm sure we'll get some more answers." I rubbed his back, and he rested his head on my shoulder.

 

One of the other onlookers approached us. He was the epitome of the trailer-trash stereotype bald, thin as a rail, except of course for his sizeable beer-belly, and he was wearing nothing more than a ratty pair of boxers and a wife-beater. His face was covered with wrinkles, and when he began to speak, I noticed that he only appeared to have a few of his teeth remaining.

 

"Hey, you dat city fag always coming 'round lookin' after tha whore's boy, ain't ya?"

 

I wasn't looking at Noah, but I assumed that his face hardened just as quickly as mine did.

 

"Now, don't go getting' any wrong ideas here. I don' mean no disrespect, just don' think fags are right with God and all, but the Good Book says it ain't my place to judge. I just wanted to tell ya that I hope your boy's alright. If he is, you's best take him from here fast as you can. I know people, and he sure as hell don't belong in this cesspool with the rest of us. 'Sides, there no way some fag can be worse with kids than tha whore. He's a good kid. Deserves a shot at a real life."

 

I was certain that somewhere in there was a compliment, but before either of us had a chance to process what he said, the man had already wandered back into the rest of the crowd. I was beginning to wonder if the crowd was viewing 'city fags' with as much interest as the scene in front of them.

 

Shortly, Dr. Saunders and the detective rejoined us shortly.

 

"Ok, I've heard everything I need to hear. I'll have to actually walk through everything for my official report, but Detective Martin, here, will lead us in. He's assured me that things are under control enough."

 

Detective Martin officially introduced himself to us, addressing us as 'Mr. Hudgins' and 'Mr. Abrams', which we both quickly corrected, and then lifted the police tape. Dr. Saunders quickly ducked under it, and Noah followed with only the slightest bit of hesitation. I paused, unsure what to do. After all, I was not related to Zach, and at least legally speaking, had no business being there.

 

Sensing my hesitation, Detective Martin addressed me. "Scott, I assure you, it's quite alright for you to come back here. In fact, there's someone who's been asking for you almost as much as he's asked for Noah."

 

Noah almost knocked over the detective. Just what we needed. A charge for assaulting a police officer.

 

"Wait, Zach's ok? Why didn't you say so?!"

 

Detective Martin just patted Noah on the back with a laugh. "Why don't you go see for yourself? Follow me."

 

He did have to stop Noah a few times, as he kept trying to break into a run. As we got closer to the flashing lights, the three of us being led let out a gasp as we saw the smoldering ruins of Willow's trailer. Actually, only the front half was completely destroyed. It looked like the firefighters had been able to save the bedrooms, although I wasn't sure how much was actually salvageable.

 

 As we approached the nearest ambulance, we could clearly hear Willow yelling from the back of a squad car.

 

"Those are the fuckers! They're the ones who did this! They're trying to ruin everything! Let me out of here! I'm gonna fucking kill those goddamn faggots!"

 

Noah and I stopped in our tracks for a second, unsure what to do. Again, Detective Martin just looked at us and laughed. "Relax gentlemen. We have her dead to rights. We found crystal meth and marijuana on her when we arrested her. Actually, when the first officer showed up, she lit the porch on fire to try to keep from being arrested. She's been spouting off like that the whole time. Another officer broke in Zach's window and pulled him out before subduing Willow. So far, we're charging her with arson, child endangerment, drug possession, assaulting an officer, and resisting arrest. We still haven't actually been cleared to enter the trailer, so it's very possible that there could be more charges filed once we get inside. Now come on. There's a little boy who wants to see you two."

 

Before we'd gotten much further, we heard a little voice from the back of the ambulance. "Daddy? Scott? Is that you?"

 

Noah broke into a sprint, and I was only a few steps behind him. Still unsure how the boy was, I was bracing for the worst. At first glance, he seemed to be surrounded by several paramedics tending to him. As I neared, however, it became plain that they were merely doting on him.

 

Zach smiled a big grin when he saw his father. "Daddy! You came!" His face was covered with soot, but he didn't look any worse for wear. Noah quickly engulfed his son in a bear hug, and began sobbing.

 

"Daddy, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"

 

"Oh, God," Noah sobbed. "I was so scared, baby boy. I thought I lost you forever."

 

"But I'm not losted, Daddy. I'm right here!"

 

"I know buddy, I know. And I'm so happy you are," he said, finally putting the boy down.

 

Without hesitation, Zach ran to me, and I picked him up and hugged him tightly.

 

"You scared me with the phone call. I'm so glad you're ok, litt- big guy."

 

"I was scared, too. Mommy was really mean, so I knew I had to call. I also called the 911 number like Daddy told me to do if I was ever in trouble."

 

"That's very good. You were very brave," I said proudly. I kissed his forehead and ruffled his hair, which elicited the usual giggle from the boy.

 

Suddenly, he seemed to get a lot more serious. "Scott, what's going to happen now? The nice ladies said that mommy was going to the big house. Am I moving there too?"

 

In spite of everything, the innocent question of a child made me laugh. "You're not going to the 'big house', buddy. They're talking about jail, which is where they send people who do bad things. But I don't know exactly what's going to happen next."

 

I pointed to Dr. Saunders, who was deep in discussion with Detective Martin. "Do you see that woman over there?"

 

He just nodded in my arms.

 

"She's a very nice lady, and she'll be the one who will let us know exactly what's going to happen. But I promise you that neither me, nor your daddy, are going anywhere until we find out. Is that ok with you?"

 

"Yeah. Can I go play with the nice ladies in the am-boo-lance? They let me turn on the siren, but only for a second."

 

I put him down and said, "Go right ahead."

 

As if he needed any prompting from me, he was off. I walked over to Noah, who looked like he was lost in thought. I slipped my arm around his waist, and he jumped, startled by my sudden presence.

 

"Is everything ok?" I asked, worried about his sullenness. Again, I seemed to startle him.

 

"What? Oh, everything's fine. They want to take him to the hospital, just to make sure he doesn't have any smoke inhalation, or anything, and to check for signs of abuse. I just can't get over what happened here, as well as what might have happened..." he trailed off.

 

"Me too, hun. By the way, he apparently called 911 after he called me. Zach made a big deal that it was you who taught him that. He certainly acted well under pressure."

 

"That's my boy. Why didn't you tell me you got him a cell phone in case something happened?" His tone wasn't quite accusatory, but I could tell he was hurt by being left in the dark.

 

"I'm so sorry about that, Noah. I should have told you, but I just kept having a bad feeling. I knew I was being paranoid, and didn't want you to worry, too," I explained.

 

"I know that. At least rationally. I guess it's like your 'secret' of being scared of mice. I just feel like you're doing stuff with my kid, and I'm left in the dark about it. It's stupid, because I know you're just trying to help, but it's there, nagging at me just a little."

 

"Oh, Noah. I didn't think about it that way at all. I promise, I'll definitely keep you in the loop in the future. He IS your son, after all. I guess I'm just the wicked step-mother," I said with a laugh, which managed to rouse Noah from his funk as he joined me in laughter.

 

"You couldn't be wicked if you tried, and you know that. No. Situations may come up where you need to act in Zach's best interest, and you shouldn't have to worry about how I feel. I'm just so overwhelmed with everything that happened tonight. Besides, you're a natural with him. Even if it backfired on you, the 'mice' thing was a stroke of brilliance, and it convinced him to go in. Today was definitely the best day of my life. Well, not counting this," he finished, pointing to the trailer.

 

"At least promise me that you'll let me know each time I step out of line."

 

"It's a deal," he said, jokingly putting out his hand for me to shake, which I did. "But we shouldn't be getting too far ahead of ourselves. I know we were told that Willow's going off to prison, but until I hear it from Dr. Saunders, I just don't want to completely assume I have custody. For all I know, they're just going to load him in the van and take him somewhere."

 

As if on cue, Dr. Saunders shook Detective Martin's hand and began walking over to us. Zach noticed this as well, and hopped out of the back of the ambulance and ran over to his father, clutching his leg.

 

When she approached, she immediately crouched down and addressed the boy. "Hi! My name is Rebecca, you must be Zach."

 

For the first time, I saw a scared and shy boy. With his left hand, he clutched the bottom of Noah's shorts, while he stuck three of his fingers from his right hand into his mouth and nodded.

 

"Well good. I'd hate to talk to the wrong boy in the ambulance."

 

Shy Zach immediately disappeared as he giggled. "No! I'm the ONLY boy in the am-boo-lance," he announced. His eyes widened and his lower lip trembled a little as he asked her the same question he asked me earlier. "They say mommy's going to a big house, but Scott says I don't have to go too. Is that right?"

 

"Well, that's why I'm here. You're not going to 'the big house'. In fact, if you want, you can go live with your daddy and Scott. Would you like that?"

 

Without any hesitation, he loudly exclaimed, "YEAH!!!" several officers and the paramedics, who had been talking to themselves all turned to look momentarily at the outburst. "Daddy's the bestest ever. Scott is too."

 

"Now I have to talk to your daddy and Scott for a few minutes. Do you want to play in the ambulance some more?"

 

He tapped his lower lip before responding simply, "Ok," and off he went.

 

Dr. Saunders stood up and said, "The thing I hate most about this job is having to make visits like these. There is absolutely no question in my mind that Ms. Hollin is an unfit mother, and the fact that she's about to be incarcerated for a long time makes this a whole lot easier.

 

"This part of the job is my favorite part. On behalf of the state of Georgia, I officially grant both of you emergency custody of Zach. There are a few papers that we have to fill out, but you can come by the office tomorrow. Lord knows, I'll be there most of the day doing my own paperwork from tonight. I do have a legal notice in my car that I'll bring over before I leave. Now do y'all have any questions for me?"

 

Noah looked so happy that he was about to burst, but I was just shocked.

 

"Wait? I have custody of Zach, too?"

 

"Yes. When I was talking with Richard, we agreed that things would simpler, at least for the emergency custody agreement, if you were both granted custody. That's especially true since Noah is using your address as his temporary domicile. Now, there will be a hearing in the near future to determine official custody, and it's quite possible that they'll take away your custodial rights even if they extend them permanently to Noah.

 

"If you don't want to have custody rights, I can amend the papers tomorrow. The arrangement I have with me is already set, but we can discuss that then."

 

"But you do know that both Noah and I are gay, right? I mean we don't exactly live in Massachusetts."

 

Dr. Saunders chuckled before saying, "I'm aware, but there's nothing in the law that says same-sex couples can't share full custodial rights. As far as emergency custody goes, I'm the one with the authority to determine who gets it, so what I say goes.

 

"Now, let me get that notice, and try to get some sleep before I come into the office tomorrow." She looked down at her watch. "Oh my, already after three. Please don't come in before noon. I'm sure I'll be there before then, but I know y'all need to rest as well. And from what I understand, you still have another visit to make before you can rest."

 

With that, she walked off towards her car. We stood there silently while we waited. Noah was beside himself with glee, while I was still in shock from the news. Dr. Saunders returned quickly, and handed Noah the papers. She reached a hand out, but he just pulled her into a hug.

 

"Thank you so, so, so much. You don't know how happy you made me," he said, breaking the hug, and wiping a tear from his eyes.

 

She turned to me, and, with a little twinkle in her eye, she said, "Congratulations, you're now a father." I grinned at that, still slightly worried that Noah might not be happy with sharing custody with me. I shook her hand. With that, she walked out of the crime scene, and drove off.

 

This time, it was my turn to be startled when Noah wrapped his arm around me.

 

"What's wrong? I thought that this is what you wanted?"

 

"It almost is. I think. I don't know. I was expecting that they would grant you custody, and you were just using my address since you don't even have a bedroom. I just feel like I overstepped my boundary as 'boyfriend' by accepting custody of Zach."

 

Noah just laughed. "Is that all? For the record, you're not the only one who can scheme. This was my idea. I brought it up to Richard when we were on the phone at the trailer. He asked me like three times if I was sure, because he knew we hadn't been dating long. Like you said at dinner, I'm in this for the long-haul. To top it all off, you're a natural with Zach. It just seemed like a no-brainer."

 

"But you mentioned finding a new apartment. Wouldn't that be made more difficult if we both have custody?"

"Maybe, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Besides, this is just the emergency custody. Consider it a trial-run at fatherhood."

 

"What if I'm not sure I'm ready for this step? I don't want to hurt you."

 

"Scott, look." He looked me straight in the eyes. "Today you were a father. Maybe not in name, but you were in action, and that means much more than the title. If you're not sure you want the responsibility, I'll understand. It'll hurt, but I'll understand. Just think about it, and realize that in no way do I think you're stepping on my toes by also having custody."

 

Suddenly, we were interrupted by Zach, who ran over to me first, and began tugging at my pants.

 

"Scott! Scott! The ladies want to take me for a ride in the am-boo-lance now. Can I go with them?"

 

Just as he finished, a paramedic trotted over.

 

"Sorry, he moves fast. We've just been informed that they're opening up the scene. We still need to get Zach to the ER just to check him out a little better. Are you ready to go?"

 

"See? He came to you first, and asked for something. And you think you're not ready?" Noah asked, teasingly.

 

Zach and the paramedic just looked at him confused. I laughed.

 

"Ok, ok. I get the point. I agree, at least for now."

 

Zach then looked to me for clarification. "Don't worry about it, buddy. You have a ride waiting."

 

To Noah, I added, "Why don't you ride with him? I'll follow in the car and meet you there."

 

Noah, Zach, and the paramedics got in the ambulance, while I returned to the car.

 

Since it wasn't an emergency, I was surprised that the ambulance's lights stayed on enroute to the hospital, but they did obey all the traffic lights, which caused confusion for the few cars on the road at the early hour.

 

We pulled into the hospital, and I found a parking spot, while the ambulance carrying Noah and my new 'son' went to the emergency bay. I quickly went inside, and thanks to my new custody, I was taken to the room where they were about to check out Zach.

 

"Scott! They left the lights on for me! It was so cool! Did you see?" the boy said excitedly as soon as I walked in.

 

"Yes, I did," I said, trying, but failing, to match his level of excitement.

 

"They wouldn't turn on the noises though. They said it was too early. Sometime can I ride in one again when it's making noise?"

 

Noah fielded that one. "I don't think you want that, buddy. They only turn the sirens on when someone is really badly hurt. Is that what you want?"

 

Zach looked conflicted as he tapped his finger against his chin. "No. I guess not. But it'd be fun if I wasn't hurt."

 

"Yeah, it would," I told him. "Now that we're all ok, I need to make a phone call. I'm going to go outside, but your daddy will stay right here with you, ok?"

 

I ruffled the boy's hair and gave Noah a quick hug before stepping out of the room to call Richard. He answered the phone on the first ring.

 

"About damn time. It's after four. How is he?"

 

"Zach's fine. We're at the hospital right now, but they're just checking him out. Apparently Willow set fire to the trailer when cops showed up, and they're a little worried that he may have breathed in some smoke. They also want to check him out for any signs of abuse, but otherwise, he's a perfectly happy four-year old. He was actually disappointed that the paramedics wouldn't turn on the siren."

 

"Well, that's great news on two fronts. It sounds like Willow's going away, and Zach's ok. What did Rebecca do?"

 

"Who? Oh, Dr. Saunders. Sorry, my brains slowing down. I think the adrenaline is wearing off. She gave both of us emergency custody. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that."

 

"I told Noah that I wasn't sure how you'd take that, but he insisted. Is it something that you really don't want?"

 

"No, I really do want it. I'm just worried about overstepping boundaries in our relationship and in his relationship with Zach."

 

"Don't be. Like I said, Noah insisted. It's possible that it might cause minor tensions here and there, but it's also only temporary.

 

"Now that I know everything is ok for the night, I'm going to hang up and get some sleep. Tomorrow, I'm going to need to get up to speed on custody law and maybe see if I can find a way to speed up the official custody hearing. I have a few favors I can call in if need be, and will try to make it happen as fast as possible. That will be just one less thing you have to worry about."

"Ok. That works for me, and I don't see why Noah would have a problem with it. I'll let him know. Get some rest, and thank you so much for everything."

 

We hung up, and I went back inside Zach's room. He had his shirt off and the doctor was examining some faded bruises on his back.

 

"How did you get these?" he asked the boy.

 

"Because I was too slow. I was trying to hide, but Mommy found me. I was bad."

 

"How were you bad?" he pressed, after making a notation on the chart.

 

"I left my fire truck on the floor and Mommy tripped on it. I didn't mean to forget it. Honest!" Zach said, beginning to cry.

 

Noah quickly held his son. "It's ok buddy. While you should always put your toys away, that doesn't mean that Mommy was right to hit you. I promise that as long as you're with me, you may get punished for breaking rules, but I'll never, ever, hit you. Hitting is much worse than what you did."

 

"So is Mommy going to be punished?" Zach asked.

 

"Mommy did a lot of bad things today, and she's going to be punished for those, but I'm not sure about this one. That's up to the doctor, and the police. Ok?"

 

"Ok," he said with a sniffle.

 

The doctor quickly finished up his evaluation before pulling Noah out of the room to talk.

 

"Scott, I forgot to show you what the am-boo-lance ladies gave me." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his toy soldier and finger puppet. "I thought I losted them, but they told one of the men with hoses to find them for me."

 

"Awesome, Zachy. I still have the soldier you gave me back at the hotel, and I know your daddy does too. Maybe you can play with them all in the morning."

 

Zach let out a yawn. "Ok. I'm sleepy now. Can you hold me?"

 

"Sure thing, buddy."

 

I picked him up, and set him in my lap. I'm pretty sure that the boy was asleep before he'd even touched my lap. I could only imagine how tired he was. Actually, I was beginning to get really tired myself.

 

Noah and the doctor walked back in, and I immediately signaled for them to be quiet due to the sleeping tyke in my arms.

 

"Doc, does that answer your question? We're going to take Zach with us back to the hotel. I know you want to be able to observe him a little longer, but he's been through so much today, and you didn't find anything wrong," Noah quietly told the doctor.

 

"I understand. Technically you're leaving against my advice, but you just have sign a waiver and you're free to go."

 

Noah filled out the requisite form, then we gathered up our stuff went back to the car. I was still carrying Zach while he slept. We put Zach in the other bed in Noah's room and quickly said goodnight. I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow.

 

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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.