This story 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 2013.

 

I love to hear any feedback you have, 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.

 

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.

 

~Fitz

 

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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

THE HEARING

 

Five in the morning came far too early for my taste. Noah and I climbed into the shower together, but we were, however, far too tired to consider doing more than fondling each other's genitals briefly. We were awake enough to take turns washing each other, and we both enjoyed the intimacy. Once dried off, we got dressed. While I opted to go ahead and get fully dressed, Noah just threw on a pair of dress pants and an undershirt for the moment. It was quite a look for him, with his muscles bulging in all the right places. Now that I was a little more awake, it definitely had me aroused. With no time for fun, I woke up Tom while Noah started the requisite vat of coffee.

Tom came into the kitchen as Noah and I were finishing up a bagel. He was wearing a polo shirt and a pair of khakis, more casual than Noah or I, but he also didn't have to face a judge. Tom and I sat in a half-awake silence while Noah grabbed Zach's suit and a change of clothes, as well as his own shirt, tie, and jacket and put them in the car.

I put some cereal in a bag in case Zach couldn't hold out until we stopped for breakfast and grabbed my jacket while Noah carried the pajama-clad boy to the car and strapped him in without waking him. By the time we got on the highway, Tom had fallen back asleep, leaving Noah and I to talk.

"Do you think I did the right thing by giving you that money? I really just want you to feel like you can contribute. Maybe this whole Sarah thing is just messing with my head," I asked Noah.

"I think she was just trying to manipulate him. As far as I'm concerned, you did. I know once I finish school, I'll feel a lot less like a bum. Having the money just makes me feel like I can buy things for you without being concerned about the bottom line as much. I guess if I really wanted to, I could still think of it as your money, but I understand the sentiment behind what you did, and it really helped put my mind at ease."

The conversation turned elsewhere, and we chatted aimlessly about everything other than the custody hearing. Eventually, the conversation turned to the gym equipment.

"Did you happen to check delivery dates? I just realized we ordered stuff, but then made plans to go out of town."

"Everything but what I ordered yesterday, and the Bowflex, will be here before we leave. The new machine, we don't need to worry about; apparently it's on back order and will take several weeks to ship. Should I try to call them to delay the shipping for the Bowflex?"

"I'll be at the house, so I can sign for it or whatever," Tom said from the back seat. Noah and I jumped a little, startled since neither of us realized he was awake.

"That'll work if you don't mind," I said. "Actually, with you being in the house, would you mind watching Zach a few mornings this week? I'm sure Noah's going through gym withdrawal, and I need to get back to getting rid of my gut!"

"Neither of those would bother me. I love spending time with Zach."

The three of us continued to chat idly to pass the time. Eventually, we arrived in Macon. I pulled into a greasy spoon for some breakfast. Zach woke up as I pulled him out of his seat.

"Where are we, Papa?"

"We're stopping for breakfast. After we eat, we'll go to the courthouse and get you dressed."

"I can wear my pajamas inside? Oh boy!"

The amount of joy children can find from such trivial things will never cease to amuse me. I had questioned Noah's decision not to dress Zach until the last minute, but he was right. While in the middle of eating his breakfast of hash browns, eggs, and oatmeal, he somehow managed to get pancake syrup all over his chest.

We got to the courthouse around nine. Noah pulled on his shirt and tie in the parking lot. I hated to see his muscles get covered, but he looked like a million bucks. He grabbed Zach's suit and took the boy to get changed while Tom and I headed to the courtroom to wait.

Richard was already outside, pacing. I was surprised to see Lydia sitting on a nearby bench. Her hair was almost back to its regular hue, but it lacked the high- and low-lights to make it appear natural. She jumped off the bench and embraced Tom in a hug the second she saw us. The commotion was enough to pull Richard from his thoughts, and he came over and shook my hand before giving Tom an awkward hug.

"Is everything ok, Dick? You seem shaken," I asked him.

"I hope it's nothing, but Willow's lawyer is here. He told me they're challenging the custody. It makes no sense, and I can't figure out the angle they're trying to play."

"How concerned should we be?"

"Honestly, I don't know. I always over prepare for court, so I'm pretty sure I can handle anything they throw at us, but I expected this to be uncontested. Willow is still in jail, and to the best of my knowledge her parents are both dead. There doesn't seem to be a viable next of kin to take custody other than Noah."

It wasn't long before a tiny blur wrapped itself around my legs and Noah was walking up to us.

"Papa, look at me! Daddy says I'm wearing a pen-gin suit. Do you have my mask?"

I looked at Noah for an explanation, but he just shrugged his shoulders. "All I said is that he looked like a little penguin in his suit."

"I don't have a mask for you right now, Zachy, but maybe you can make one when you get home," I suggested.

"Ok! Can I make ones for you and Daddy to wear, too?"

"I think that'll be perfect," I said, suppressing a laugh. Noah and Tom didn't fare so well.

"Hi Grandma, hi Grandpa!" Zach said cheerfully, disentangling himself from my legs and running over to each one for a hug.

Richard updated Noah on the new information regarding the trial, but he was surprisingly unfazed.

"Bring 'em on. This time, I'm not going to back down, and I'm going to fight for Zach every step of the way," he said strongly. "We've gone over every little thing that could come up, so there's no way they'll be able to win."

"I appreciate the strength of your convictions, Noah, but try not to get too smug. I've seen supposedly airtight cases get undermined from within. It's best to be confident, but not cocky. Still, I think you're right," Richard responded.

Tom, Lydia, and I sat on one bench, Zach bouncing restlessly on my lap, while Richard and Noah sat on another bench nearby, going over their strategy one last time. Shortly before it was time to go into the courtroom, Richard came over and knelt in front of Zach.

"Remember what I told you on Saturday; when we go inside I need you to be on your very best behavior. Don't talk unless you are asked a question. When asked, tell the truth, even if you are worried that you'll get in trouble. In a courtroom, it's very important that you never tell a lie. Can you do that for me?"

Nerves had set in for the poor boy, and all he could do was shyly nod his head. Noah was pale as a ghost, and I couldn't stop shaking. It was the moment of truth, and all of us were on edge.

Tom and Lydia stayed behind as the four of us walked into the courtroom, since family court isn't open to the public. We sat at our table, Richard on one end, with Noah next to him. I sat on the far end, our son positioned between Noah and me. This arrangement, we had decided earlier, would give the best appearance of us already being a cohesive family unit.

As we were getting settled in, Richard shuffling paper around the table to make it look like we had more going on than we actually did, a slick man in an expensive suit and greased-back hair slithered behind the other table.

Zach saw that each of us had a legal pad and pen ready to pass any notes back and forth and asked Noah if he could take notes, too. Richard was more than happy to pass him a legal pad, and I handed the boy crayons that I just happened to have in my bag. I chuckled, thinking back to the Baby Blues comic strip's long-running 'It's apparent you're a parent' gag. Without hesitation, he began to scribble and doodle, looking important.

It was about five minutes before the bailiff announced, "All rise, the Honorable Judith Gould presiding."

As the five of us in the room rose to our feet, a woman in her sixties walked behind the judge's podium, her black robe flowing. I heard Zach gasp beside me, and had to admit she had a certain sense of regality to her. She sat and banged her gavel.

"Please be seated. There is no need for extensive formality today, gentlemen. We are here today to examine the custody of Zacharias James Hollin. I see that custody is being contested today," she said glancing over to the other lawyer.

"Yes, Your Honor. Bartholomew Jackson, representing the interests of Willow Hollin, the custodial mother of young Zacharias."

"Yet all my paperwork shows that the biological father was granted custody of the boy on Saturday, August fourth, 2012."

"Your Honor, I intend to prove that this was the malicious work of an employee of Child Protective Services overstepping her duties."

"I see, so the system is corrupt and has unfairly taken this child from his mother. If Miss Hollin is so interested in the wellbeing of her son, may I ask why she is not present for these proceedings?"

"She would like to be, but she is currently unavailable."

"And why is that?"

"She is currently in jail, Your Honor, denied bail for an unrelated incident."

"Mr. Jackson, I've read the police report. She was arrested for beating her son then lighting her house on fire with him in it! I hardly call that unrelated."

"Your Honor! This is supposed to be an unbiased hearing. I move you recuse yourself immediately!"

"Motion denied, counselor. I'm simply trying to understand her interest in the matter. The records do not show her to have the best interest of a child in mind."

"I am aware of how the record looks; she has not yet faced trial for her alleged crimes. I'm certain she'll be acquitted once all the facts are brought to light."

"As long as you remember that this is not a trial. All we are interested in today is determining what is in the best interest of Zacharias. And who is acting on behalf of the acting custodial guardians?"

"I am, Your Honor. Richard O'Neil, acting in the interests of Noah Abrams and Scott Hudgins. All we are asking is that the custody of Zach, granted due to exigent circumstances be made permanent."

"Mr. O'Neil, I have to admit there are some irregularities here. It's quite unusual for CPS to extend emergency custody to be granted to a person unrelated to the child. I see here that this was done at your request. Why?"

"There are several circumstances that were unusual, Your Honor. Mr. Hudgins contacted me due to the conditions in which Zach was forced to live."

"Objection, Your Honor! There is no proof of these alleged conditions. Much of the trailer was destroyed by the unfortunate fire before Child Services could verify this claim."

"Except we have photographic proof, which was enough for CPS to open an investigation into the matter. The events later that night simply expedited the custody process,"

"The photos in question are not admissible, since they were taken by a camera phone and could have been manipulated digitally. I demand that these photographs be examined by an expert to determine their legitimacy, and move this hearing be delayed until that time."

"Mr. Jackson, be quiet! This is not a trial; there is no need to grandstand before a jury. Motion denied, objection overruled. Please continue, Mr. O'Neil."

"Thank you, Your Honor. For the record, the photographs proved unnecessary as events unfolded. The timing of the emergency meant that Child Services had to act quickly in the best interest of the child. On top of that, Mr. Abrams, the boy's biological father was living in a one-room efficiency apartment at the time. I mentioned in passing that it would be easier to convince CPS to grant custody to him if his living arrangements were more suitable. He asked me if it would be easier still if he and Mr. Hudgins had joint custody. Giving him my opinion, I told him it would, but I also recommended against it. My client insisted I pass the request on. Honestly, I was surprised they agreed to it."

"Do you have copies of the photographs you mentioned?"

I do, Your Honor," Richard said, handing a folder of the photographs to the bailiff.

"Let the record show that I continue to object to this line of inquiry."

"So noted."

Judge Gould spent several minutes looking over the images before continuing. "Mr. Jackson, I recommend you look at the photographs before reassessing your objections to their validity," she said as the bailiff carried the folder to the lawyer.

After looking through it, he looked unimpressed. "You Honor, this does nothing to sway me from carrying out my clients wishes."

"You do know I cannot grant someone custody of a child if they are currently a ward of the state, correct?"

"Yes, Your Honor, I'm aware. That's not why I am here. Miss Hollin believes it is in the best interest of young Zacharias if he were to be placed into foster care until the charges against her are dropped."

My heart fell in my chest when he said that, and Noah visibly slumped in his chair. That was why he was here. If she couldn't have Zach, then she was going to make damn sure we couldn't either. At that moment, I was willing to overlook my position on the death penalty. I wanted that bitch to fry.

"Let me get this straight; you want me to remove a child from a home where he has two guardians, to one of whom he's biologically related? Both guardians want to provide a loving and nurturing environment for Zacharias."

"Excuse me," a quiet voice beside me piped up.

"Yes, dear," the judge responded.

"Daddy said I wasn't supposed to talk unless I was asked a question, but my name isn't Zacharias. It's Zach."

"Well, my apologies, young master Zach. I appreciate you bringing that to my attention. I'll try to remember in the future. I may have to refer to your full name on occasion, though. Is that ok with you?"

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you."

"I should also add that Zach shows manners that come from responsible parenting, and seems to hold what his biological father says in quite high regard. So why should I consider your request to have him placed in foster care?"

"It's quite simple, Your Honor. Miss Hollin is a woman with traditional values. She believes a child should be raised by a loving mother and father. Barring that possibility, being raised by his mother is the only logical choice. Miss Hollin is currently unable to care for her child, but expects to regain her freedom in the near future. Since his birth mother is unavailable, the only viable recourse, we believe is, that Zacharias be placed in a foster home until her freedom is restored. Additionally, Mr. Abrams and Mr. Hudgins are, in fact, homosexuals, and in a 'relationship' of sorts. Obviously it's in the best interest of the child not to be surrounded by that lifestyle choice. Additionally, homosexuals are known sexual predators, and Miss Hollin is worried they are corrupting and sexually molesting her son."

"Your Honor, the claim that either of these gentlemen would sexually molest a young child is preposterous!" Richard said indignantly.

"While I agree with you generally, and would like to believe you in regards to Mr. Abrams and Mr. Hudgins, I must err on the side of the safety of Zach, Mr. O'Neil. I will take this claim into consideration when I talk to Zach in my chamber at a later point."

"But Your Honor "

"I'm not saying that what Mr. Jackson is accusing your clients of holds any weight, Mr. O'Neil; it's just a valid concern when determining custody. Even if Mr. Jackson had not brought it up, rest assured I would be asking Zach about that very issue. Mr. Jackson, if you have nothing further to add, I would like to question the two legal guardians."

"Actually, Your Honor, I have one additional reason as to why Miss Hollin is requesting that Zacharias be placed in foster care."

"Let me remind you, the child has specified that he wishes to be referred to as 'Zach' for these proceedings. While it holds no legal merit, the fact he was brazen enough to interrupt me to ask that we refer to him as such, I think it's only fair we abide by his request, if you don't mind. What is your final objection?"

"Miss Hollin's sexual history is currently a matter of public scrutiny. The fact that her son is aware of her promiscuity and misunderstood what was going on due to his young age is to blame for some of her current legal problems. Barring lack of proof that Zachar... er, Zach is Mr. Abrams's biological son, I move that these proceedings be postponed until DNA evidence proves his paternity."

"That is a valid motion. Mr. O'Neil, do you have any proof as to Mr. Abrams's paternity?"

For the second time during the hearing, I felt my heart stop in my chest. Was it really possible that Noah wasn't actually Zach's father? Could my boy be taken away from me so soon after I fell in love with him due to a technicality like DNA? I couldn't even bring myself to lift my eyes from the table and my breath was caught in my lungs, waiting for the hammer to drop.

 

 

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Yes, a cliffhanger, and apparently a particularly nasty one. I once planned on no 'real' cliffhangers, other than light teases to keep readers interested in finding out what happens next. I always hate when a chapter I'm reading ends with a 'NOOOOO I HAVE TO KNOW!!!!!!!' moment. However, when gifted with the foresight to know how it's going to play out, cliffhangers are surprisingly fun to write in! Don't worry, there's more where that came from!

 

Bobby is entirely responsible for the idea of questioning paternity. Actually, I believe all he asked was "Will the issue of paternity come up during the hearing?". My initial answer was 'no', then maybe, so long as I could make it work. Then it became my goal to make it into a cliffhanger. Some have suggested that Bobby no longer contact with me ideas. I say bring it on! I apologize that this chapter is a little on the short side, but the scene was so epic that it had to be divided up, and it became a question of where it was best to do so.

 

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!!!!

 

My story is also hosted at http://fitz.thestorycloset.org, http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/story/fitz/moving_on, and on my story website, http://movingonstory.weebly.com. Not only does it host all current chapters of Moving On, but all characters have bios except a few minor characters! I still need to find pictures of the characters. If you have any suggestions for ANY NAMED CHARACTER, please email them to me! (There are now two for Noah, since I liked both suggestions!). My personal website also has the short, Our First Christmas, which is about the first Christmas that Scott and Steve spent together.

 

I tend to update all sites at the same time, but because of the way Nifty works, new chapters tend to show up on the other three sites a day earlier (sometimes two depending on how backlogged Nifty gets with updates) than they do here.

 

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 timeline for others to see.  However, searching for the group by name 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/.

 

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

 

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