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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Moving On - 33. Chapter 33 - The Hammer

The trial continues....

My mind was numb at the thought that Zach may not be Noah's biological son. He had just come into my life, and I'd fallen so hard for the little boy. I was on the verge of a panic attack at the thought of him being placed in the foster system when Noah and I were more than capable of taking care of him, and he viewed himself as ours anyway. What difference should DNA make? My eyes were filling with tears when Richard spoke.

"Of course we can prove paternity, Your Honor. First, I have a photocopy of Zach's birth certificate, where Miss Hollin indicated that the father of her child is one Noah Abrams. Second, I have a paternity test, completed shortly after Miss Hollin first approached Mr. Abrams claiming he was the father of her child. Finally, I have a second paternity test, conducted on behalf of Child Protective Services, from when Mr. Abrams first petitioned for full custody of Zach," Richard said strongly, handing the documents to the bailiff to pass on to Judge Gould, who skimmed over them quickly.

I let out a deep sigh and calmed myself immediately. As I glanced over to Noah and Richard, I noticed they didn't seem fazed in the slightest. They must have prepared for the possibility of paternity being questioned. As Richard said, he always over-prepared. I kicked myself for being too impatient and leaving them to the preparations; I could have saved myself a couple heart attacks.

"Well, everything certainly appears to be in order. Congratulations on being a father, Mr. Abrams."

"Thank you, Your Honor?" I could tell Noah wasn't sure if he should respond to the statement or not.

"Motion to postpone denied, Mr. Jackson. Was there anything else?"

Not at this moment, Your Honor."

"In that case, Mr. Abrams, please take the stand."

Noah moved to the witness stand, where he was sworn in.

"Now the goal here is simply to help me make an informed decision about what is in the best interest for Zach. Normally, I would be the only one asking questions, but since Mr. Jackson has a different agenda than usual for a custody hearing, I'm interested in hearing what questions he has for you. In fairness, if Mr. O'Neil has any questions he would like to direct to you, he may do that as well. Do you understand, Mr. Abrams?

"Yes, Your Honor," Noah replied, his nerves evident as his voice wavered slightly.

"I can understand your nerves. A lot is at stake here, but try to relax. Please state your name, age, and occupation for the record."

"Um… Noah Abrams, I'm twenty-five, and currently unemployed."

Mr. Jackson leapt out of his seat. "More proof that he's hardly capable of providing for a young child."

"Sit down, Mr. Jackson! I already said you'd have a turn to ask questions. What was Miss Hollin's occupation before being incarcerated?"

The man mumbled something unintelligible after flipping through some notes.

"What was that? I didn't hear you Mr. Jackson."

"She was on welfare and receiving disability due to chronic back pain."

"Yet you contend that she was able to spend most of her free time on her back, while her son sat in the same dwelling. Mr. Abram's occupation is irrelevant at the moment."

"Actually, Your Honor, I'd like to address that. I've always wanted to go back to school and get a degree, but I was worried it would take away the limited time I already had with my son. I didn't want to miss out on anymore of his life if possible, so I put my ambitions on hold. In the past week, I've applied for a graphic arts program online, which will allow me maximize time with Zach and still work towards accomplishing my dream."

"May I ask how you are paying for school?"

"Scott Hudgins, my boyfriend, offered me a loan for my education."

"I see, and how long have you and Mr. Hudgins been dating?"

"Despite the fact it seems like forever, I've only known him for three weeks."

"Yet you trust him implicitly with your son, and you're not concerned that he will use you to benefit, financially or otherwise?"

"Yes, Your Honor. It wasn't really love at first sight, per se, but both of us knew very quickly that we had a connection. We're both realists and know this relationship may not last, but we both come in with baggage - mine being my son, which I initially tried to hide from Scott.

"The decision to request that Scott share custody was made impulsively, I have to admit, but it was not made lightly. I wanted to make sure he was aware the level of trust I had in him, and the commitment I had to our relationship. I love him with every fiber of my being, Your Honor, and I wanted to share every aspect of my life with him, including my son."

"I see you have petitioned several times to remove custodial rights from Miss Hollin. Why?"

"Because I wanted to be a part of my son's life. The only reason she even told me about him was to try to get child support, but without a job, there wasn't any money to give. I helped out where I could financially, but I was watching the money I gave her go to drugs. I could tell how unfit she was, but since custody had already been established it was a losing battle to get it overturned. I had essentially given up on being able to rescue my son when Scott and Richard intervened on my behalf."

"Describe the current living situation, please."

"Let's see… Sorry, Your Honor, there's been a decent amount of changes recently. Scott and I share a bedroom, there's a guest room – where, I guess, a friend of ours is currently staying. Zach has his own bedroom, there's an office, two full bathrooms, and an open kitchen and living space. Oh, and we're currently in the process of converting part of the basement into a home gym."

"And you've been spending lots of time with Zach this week? How's he adjusting to all the changes?"

"Very well, for the most part. He has a bit of separation anxiety when he's away from me, and he's developed it for Scott as well. I never realized how much my visits upset him when I left, and he's so used to me leaving that he's been worried all week that I'm going to leave him again. Scott and I have spent as much time as possible with him, making sure he feels loved and that his current situation is permanent."

"Very well. Thank you, Mr. Abrams. Any questions, Mr. Jackson?"

"Yes, Your Honor. Mr. Abrams, is it fair to say you love your son and want to do right by him?"

"Of course! What kind of question is that?"

"Then why is he not in school today? As I understand it, today is the first day of school throughout the state."

"Mr. Jackson, I believe it's safe to assume that Mr. Abrams decided this hearing was more important and excused Zach from school today."

"Yet we couldn't find any record of a 'Zacharias Hollin' registered at any school. Why is your son not registered if you are supposedly fit to be a parent and have his best interest at heart?"

"He's only four. Preschool's not mandatory… is it?"

"No, but he should be entering kindergarten this year. His birthday is August 29, 2007, correct?"

"Yes… but –"

"The cut-off for enrollment is that students have to be five by September first."

"Mr. Jackson, enough!" Judge Gould said loudly. Noah looked like he was about to break down in tears. "Kindergarten is not mandatory either. He only has to be in school from ages six to sixteen."

"True, but he claims to have the best interest of Zach at heart. If he's so concerned, why hasn't he done so? It would be unheard of for foster parents to withhold the opportunity to educate their charges."

"I said enough, Mr. Jackson. Many parents who have children close to the cutoff date opt to hold them back a grade so they are less likely to be picked on or because they aren't quite ready for school. Is this part of the reason, Mr. Abrams?"

"Honestly, Your Honor, with all that's been going on, I hadn't thought about school. I didn't realize it began this early, and it hadn't occurred to me that Zach was even old enough to consider it. I'll have to talk to Scott, assuming you allow us to maintain custody despite my lapse in judgment, but I'm not sure he's quite ready. From what I understand, he's small for his age, and he has trouble understanding that we will be back for him when we both go out."

"Ok, fair enough. Mr. Jackson, anything else?"

"No, Your Honor."

"Mr. O'Neil?"

"During the past week, while you had custody, where all did you take Zach?"

"Umm… well, we did a lot of errands. We also took him to the zoo and the aquarium."

"While you were out with him, did you take the opportunity to teach him about what he was seeing, or did you just look at the animals?"

"Scott did more than I, but he knew a lot more about them. Zach was full of questions about what everything he saw – why the flamingos were pink, what did the monkeys eat, why do tigers have stripes, why were gorillas grooming each other, and so on. We were both patient, and answered every question he asked as best we could. Heck, we were shopping for new clothes, and Scott had the idea of helping him work on his numbers by telling him how many shirts he could pick out."

"So even though you were unaware about needing to register him for formal education, you were taking steps to ensure his life is full of activities where he has the opportunity to learn new things?"

"Yes, sir. As another example, he really wanted a handheld videogame system he saw in a store, but we got him a different one that focuses on learning games."

"No further questions, Your Honor."

"Mr. Abrams, you may step down. Mr. Hudgins, your turn."

Nervously, I stood and took the seat Noah had just vacated. The bailiff swore me in.

"Mr. Hudgins, please state your name, age, and occupation for the record."

"Scott Hudgins, I'm twenty-nine, and I own and operate a web design company, Hudgins Design."

"Describe your relationship with Mr. Abrams."

"Well, like Noah said, he's my boyfriend. We haven't known each other long, but we're very serious about making this relationship work. He has helped me come to terms with a whole variety of issues, and I know I bring a lot of baggage into the relationship. Noah has been nothing but supportive and considerate of me. I plan on being there for Noah, and for Zach, with anything they need. I love him, a feeling I never thought I'd get the opportunity to experience again."

"Both you and Mr. Abrams have insinuated that you come into the relationship, with 'baggage', as you put it. While it seems like a personal question and possibly none of my business, I have a duty to make sure – if I leave Zach in your custody – that these issues won't be detrimental to him. May I ask what they are?"

I chuckled at that. "Actually, Zach is fully aware of what I bring into the relationship. Well, as aware as a four-year-old can be. A little over a year ago, my husband, who I had been with for nine years, was killed in an attempted burglary. Since that –"

"Objection, Your Honor! The state of Georgia does not recognize homosexual relationships as 'marriages'. It's inappropriate and incorrect for him to refer to his relationship as such under oath in a court of law."

"I have a valid marriage license, issued by the Superior Court in Washington DC at home. Even if the marriage was not recognized by the state of Georgia, that doesn't change the fact that we were married," I retorted, ignoring decorum.

"Mr. Jackson, again, this is not a trial, and I don't want to have to remind you again. I don't care what Mr. Hudgins calls their relationship; I just need to understand what effect, if any, it may have on Zach's wellbeing. Mr. Hudgins, please allow me to address any objections. Now, you say Zach is aware of the loss of your husband? Do you believe that is appropriate?"

"Well, I didn't really have a choice but try to explain it to him. My house hadn't changed much since before Steve died, and when Zach came in, he saw a picture of Steve and me. He was confused, because he already knew I was with Noah. Actually, there's more I have to explain. Richard, our lawyer, is actually Steve's father, and Steve's twin brother, Tom, was also living with us. All Zach knows is that Steve was very important to me, but he died. He knows I miss Steve immensely, but he also knows I love both him and his father very much. I'm not sure how much he understands about romantic love and dealing with the death of loved one, but I've tried to explain it in ways he can grasp. For example, he didn't understand what I meant when I said Steve had died, so I told him Steve was hurt so badly that doctors couldn't make him better. I didn't want to say he went away or anything, because I didn't want him to worry that Steve might come back and I'd leave him and Noah."

"Can you think of any effect the death of your husband may have on your current relationship, or how it might affect your relationship with Zach?"

"For starters, I know what I want out of life. I'm looking for someone to spend my life with; I'm not looking for Mr. Right-Now. I've also learned all too well that my whole world can be overturned in an instant. I believe I've found Mr. Right in Noah, and I'm not going anywhere unless I find out for sure that he's not. Zach is like a ray of light that can brighten the darkest soul."

"I see," Judge Gould said. From my seat, I could see her write something down, but I couldn't tell what. From the table, I hadn't noticed that, and it made me fidget nervously in the seat a little. "How did you feel when you were told you had custody of Zach?"

"I was shocked, to say the least. I initially tried to turn it down, but was told to sleep on it first. I had a change of heart by the time we went to see Dr. Saunders several hours later. It may sound a little conceited, but I've discovered I'm something of a natural when it comes to parenting, and the ease with which Zach took to me surprises me in hindsight, knowing what he went through."

After taking another note, the judge asked, "Mr. Jackson, I assume you have questions for Mr. Hudgins?"

"But of course, Your Honor. Mr. Hudgins, Did you and your supposed-husband wish to have children before his unfortunate demise?"

"Yes, we had talked about it extensively, but what does tha –"

"And you never had any children with this gentleman before his life was taken?"

"No, but –"

"Is it possible that in your grief, you are simply forcing yourself into a position to be able to gain the son your dead lover would have wanted?"

By this third blatantly rude reference to Steve, I was struggling to hold my tongue and was apparently visibly upset.

"Stop it!" a tiny voice yelled forcefully. "You're upsetting Papa!"

"Zach, it's ok," I told the upset boy. "Didn't your father tell you to not speak unless you were asked a question?"

"Yeah, but he was being mean to you!"

Noah glared at his son for not taking the hint.

"What, Daddy? He asked me a question that time! … Oops, you didn't ask me a question. Sorry, Daddy."

Noah and I shared a mortified glance while trying not to grin, at least until the judge let out a chuckle.

"Young man, I understand your desire to protect Mr. Hudgins, but I assure you I'm well aware of everything that goes on in my courtroom. I don't appreciate a lawyer specifically trying to emotionally bait a witness – something I see far too often in family court, unfortunately – especially in a hearing such as this. Zach, can you try harder to not speak unless asked a question?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'm really, very, very, really sorry,"

"It's quite alright, young man. Now Mr. Hudgins, despite the wording of Mr. Jackson's question, I am interested in hearing your answer."

"When I first met Noah, I didn't even know he had a son. Actually, we had a big fight when he came back from visiting Zach because an… acquaintance told me about Zach, but portrayed him as a lover, rather than a son. I have to admit that I was probably less put-off by the idea of being involved with a father thanks to my desire to have children of my own, but it had nothing to do with Steve. At that point, I had told Noah many details about my relationship with Steve, and I was more than willing to accept the baggage he brought into our relationship, something of a quid pro quo, I guess. Of course, then I met Zach. He's such an amazing little guy; I knew I loved Zach before I even realized I was in love with his father."

"Mr. Jackson, you are finished with this witness. Mr. O'Neil, your turn."

"But, Your Honor, I still have more questions!"

"I'm sure you do, but in attempting to uncover whatever demons you think are there, you've managed to upset the very person that we're here to determine what's best for, the boy. Since I allowed you to question him, it's only fair I give Mr. O'Neil an opportunity to do the same. After he's concluded, I will question Zach before making my ruling. Now, Mr. O'Neil, if you'd please."

Richard hesitated before asking his question. "Excuse the informality here, Your Honor, but, Scott, I'm sorry for what I'm about to ask. It's incredibly unfair to ask, and personally I don't want to know the answer, but I think it's necessary. Do you have any reason to believe the feelings you had for my so… Steven in anyway contribute to the feelings you have for Mr. Abrams?"

It took me a second to figure out how I wanted to answer the question. I knew what Richard wanted to hear as Steve's father, but I also knew what he was getting at.

"Absolutely not! I loved Steve with everything I had. I was completely devastated when he died, and I was certain I'd never again be able to feel love – or even happiness again. When I found myself attracted to Noah, it terrified me, and I tried to fight the growing connection between the two of us. It took a lot of soul-searching before I realized that Steve would want me to be happy. And I am happy. Honestly, I can't say it's the happiest I've ever been, nor can I say I love Noah on the same level I loved Steve, but when I'm with Noah, my only thoughts are on the budding relationship I have with him. They're on the future I hope to have with him. Most importantly as far as you're currently concerned, they're also on what that future holds for the three of us; for Noah, me, and Zach. I can't imagine my life without Noah. Nor can I imagine my life without sharing Zach with his father. I'm sorry, Richard, that's probably hard for you to hear."

"Thank you, Scott. No more questions, Your Honor."

"Mr. Hudgins you may step down. At this time, I would like to talk to young Zach in my chambers. My court reporter will be present, and all present will receive a copy of the transcript before I make my final decision. Zach, please come with me," the judge said, standing.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but can I talk out here like Daddy and Papa did? That looked cool!"

Judge Gould appeared flustered, unaccustomed to a young child challenging her, but she quickly regained her composure.

"If that's what you want, but I will be asking you questions, and you have to tell the truth, even if you think it will get you, your father, or Mr. Hudgins in trouble. In my experience I've found that young boys, such as yourself, are more honest and less scared in my chambers."

"I'm not scared. 'Sides, I'm almost five. I'm not little no more!"

"Then I'll allow you to remain out here. However, if I feel like we have to, you and I will go back into my chambers to complete this talk. I don't want you to question me if it comes to that. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Zach excitedly ran over to the witness stand, and climbed into the chair. Like he witnessed Noah and I do, he put his hand on the bible the bailiff offered to swear him in. He clearly didn't actually understand the significance, because he said "I do" before the bailiff had even finished his spiel.

Trying to repress a smile at his enthusiasm, the judge asked, "Do you know the difference between the truth and a lie, Zach?"

"A lie is something that's made up. Daddy says it's bad to tell a lie. But sometimes, isn't it good to lie so you don't hurt people's feelings? Daddy said it wasn't nice to tell Tom he smelled bad when he did."

"It's only a lie if you tell him he smells good when he doesn't. It's best to just not say anything."

"Oooh, ok."

"But while I'm talking to you, it doesn't matter why you are lying. Even if you think it'll hurt someone's feelings, I need you to tell me the whole truth. Don't leave anything out, no matter what. It's very important to do that when you are sitting in that chair."

"Is the chair magical or something? Does it have a truth-spell cast on it?"

Judge Gould smiled and chuckled lightly before responding, "No, nothing like that. But courts are set up to find out the truth, and it's very, very important for you to tell the truth. If you lie, and I find out, I might have to do something that's not very nice."

"Oh… I guess I won't tell a lie then. I like you; you're nice."

"Well thank you! I think you're nice, too. Why don't we start at the beginning? Tell me about when you first met Mr. Hudgins."

"You mean, Papa, right?"

The judge glanced over to me. I shrugged my shoulders and nodded my head.

"Hmmm…" Zach said, tapping his chin. "I was really happy 'cause Daddy was coming to visit, and Mommy was yelling at me, and I was a little scared. Then Daddy showed up, and Mommy yelled at Daddy, then Daddy knocked on my door and picked me up. He took me out to the main room and I met Papa. Daddy'd never brought anyone with him before, but he didn't seem mean to me like the men Mommy had over.

"Papa was really nice to me, and we got pizza, and I played games, and I met a friendly mouse, and then got ice cream. I really liked him. He was funny. After the fire, Daddy asked if I wanted to go and live with him and Papa, and I was happy, but a little scared. I like Daddy a lot more than Mommy, but I didn't wanna move."

"How did you feel when you first arrived at his house?"

"It was really scary! It was this great big house, with lots and lots of rooms. I was scared I would get losted, but Papa held my hand and we walked around everything and he showed me everything. He even helped me find lots of good spots I could hide in if I got scared!"

"You keep calling Scott 'Papa'. Did he ask you to call him that?"

"No, I asked if I could call him 'Daddy', but he said I already had a daddy, and that I needed to choose a different name for him. I chose 'Papa'. He calls me 'little buddy', but he's only allowed to do it until I get bigger than him. When I'm all growed up, I can call him 'little buddy' if I'm taller!"

"I see; I guess that's only fair! Has either Scott or your father asked you to keep any secrets? Have they told you anything you're not supposed to tell the other one?"

Zach fidgeted in chair, looking uncomfortable for the first time.

"Papa did, once," he said quietly.

"What was this secret? Remember, it's important that you tell the truth."

I glanced over at Noah while Zach shifted around, and I could see his grin, knowing exactly what my 'secret' had been.

"May I say something to Zach, Your Honor?" I asked, standing.

"Go ahead, as long as I can hear it as well."

I approached the stand, and whispered loud enough for the judge to hear, "It's ok, buddy. I promise your daddy won't be upset at you for telling the truth today. You've done a very good job keeping my secret, and I'm very proud of you. He would have found out the truth eventually, so you might as well tell him now. Can you do that?"

Zach nodded, and I walked back to my seat.

"Thank you, Mr. Hudgins. This is the reason I prefer to question children in my chambers. They don't feel pressured by their parents to give only wanted answers. Now, Zach, what was this secret?"

"We were at the pizza place with the mouse. I was scared to go in, because mouses ate my food at my house and I didn't want to share my pizza with them. Papa told me he was scared of mouses too, but if I was a brave boy, then he could be brave, too. When the big mouse came up to us, I protected Papa, but they gave each other a hug and we're friends now. I'm sorry Daddy, Papa asked me not to tell you because he was scared you wouldn't like him anymore!" Zach said, a little upset by the end of his confession

Noah and I exchanged glances and chuckled, since he'd been in on this 'secret' almost from the beginning.

"Mr. Abrams, do you want to say anything to your son?" Judge Gould asked, trying to conceal the smile on her face.

"Zachy, I'm very proud of you for telling the truth. I promise you that I love Scott just as much as I did before you said that. You're doing very well. Just keep doing what you're doing."

That immediately cheered the little boy up.

"I have to agree with your father, young man, well done. Now I need to ask you a few more questions for you that might upset you, but I need you to tell the truth. Can you do that?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Does your Daddy or Scott ever touch you where your underwear is?"

My heart rate quickened with this question. I knew she was just trying to make sure there was no abuse, and that neither Noah nor I would ever do that, but it is Zach. It's impossible to predict exactly how he'd answer a question.

"Of course! Why wouldn't they?"

Fuck.

"When do they touch you there?"

"When they're picking me up, they put a hand under my butt to hold me in place, and when I'm getting a bath, they use a washcloth to clean me down there, duh! Papa also gave me a special shower the other day."

Oh my fucking God.

"Why did he give you a shower?"

"Because I got really dirty, of course! He got in with me and rubbed me really good all over to make sure I was clean. It was a lot of fun! After we were done, he and Daddy rubbed this funny oil all over me. After that, we took another shower together, too."

What the fuck was he thinking?!

"Thank you Zach," Judge Gould said firmly, the pleasant tone gone from her voice. She glared at Noah and I before continuing. "I've heard more than enough, and I'm ready to make my decision. Before Zach began, I was under the impression that the two of you were upstanding gentlemen, but after hearing how you clearly have Zach under your thrall while you take advantage of the poor boy, I have no option but to immediately remove him from your care. Effective immediately, Zach will be placed under the care of Child Protective Services, and I will recommend they find him a safe home with a foster family that will ensure he is never molested again!"

I was in shock at this turn of events. We had never considered that Zach could be our undoing in this hearing by simply being his usual innocent self. My entire body went numb as I slumped back in my chair.

"Noooooo!" Zach wailed.

"It's for your own protection, young man."

"I don't need protection from Papa! He was just trying to un-purple me!"

"What on earth do you mean?"

"I got purple all over me. Papa was just cleaning me off!"

"I don't understand, young man. What was he doing to you that caused to become purple?"

I realized we had proof that this whole thing was innocent and just a misunderstand. I quickly scrawled 'PICTURES' and slid my legal pad over to Noah. He looked at me for a second, confused, and I pantomimed taking a photo. He pulled out his phone and jumped to his feet.

"Your Honor, I can show you exactly what he means. We were painting his room purple – we let Zach choose the color – and he had the bright idea to help by dipping his hands in the paint and putting them on the walls. He managed to cover pretty much his entire body. All Scott did was climb in the shower with him to scrub it off. The 'oil' he's talking about is paint thinner, which we used to get the spots that wouldn't scrub out and to get the paint out of his hair. The second shower was just to get the paint thinner off of him. Here, I took pictures on my phone, look!" Noah said in a panic, practically shoving the phone in Judge Gould's face.

"Wait, so Scott was wearing a bathing suit and you were in your underwear when you showered with him?"

"Yeah, and he had to scrub really hard to get the paint off. It hurt a little, but he was nice about it. And it was fun in the shower. I wanted to wear shorts too, but Papa said my underwear was good enough," the boy explained.

"Your Honor, when we bought clothes for him, we never thought to buy him a bathing suit, so Scott just had him stay in his underwear. I would never allow someone to touch my boy like your implying, and I know Scott wouldn't either!"

The judge slumped back in her seat a little, and her face softened somewhat. She sighed. "Perhaps I was a little hasty at jumping to conclusions, but I have heard all that I need to hear. The court is adjourned for thirty minutes while I consider everything. When we return, I will have reached a decision regarding the custody of Zach."

With that, she rapped her gavel on the desk, and quickly left the courtroom. I stood up and glanced over to Richard.

"What just happened?"

"Well, she didn't summarily strip you both of your custodial rights like she was about to. I've never seen a family court judge act like that without clear evidence of wrong-doing before, so I don't really know what's going on. All we can do now is wait, hope your testimony, and Noah's, was strong enough, and that Noah managed to undo the perceived damage that Zach inflicted." Richard told me honestly.

"Should we be worried?" Noah asked quietly from his seat. He was white as a ghost and looked like he was about to pass out.

"Worrying won't help right now. Be strong for Zach, because you know he'll be terrified by this turn of events. If this all goes south when she gives her ruling, we'll fight it. I know you didn't do anything wrong, and Zach deserves to be with you," Richard said, placing a hand on Noah's shoulder.

I realized Zach was still sitting in the witness stand. I looked over to him, and saw that he was crying. Without hesitation, I went over to him and tried to pick him up, but he squirmed out of my grasp.

"It's ok, Zachy," I told him soothingly.

"No it's not! I ruined everything! You hate me!" he wailed.

"I don't hate you at all, little buddy. You did exactly what we told you to do. You got up in the seat and you told the truth, even if it would upset us. I've very proud of you," I told him, rubbing his back.

"You promise?"

"My very best promise, little buddy. Now come here, and we'll go sit with your daddy. I bet he could use a hug from you right now."

This time, he allowed me to pick him up, and he gripped my neck so tight it was hard to breathe as I carried him back across the room. He loosened his clutches as we neared Noah, and he allowed his father to take him into his arms.

"Why don't you three stay here and just relax as best you can? I'm going to go out in the hallway and fill Lydia and Tom in on what's happened so far. I'll be back by the time the judge returns," Richard told us.

The three of us sat there, not saying a word for several minutes, just holding each other in a tight embrace. Eventually, Zach piped up.

"I'm a Zach sandwich!"

Noah and I looked at each other, confused, before Zach explained, "I'm the meat, and Daddy and Papa are the bread!"

Both Noah and I laughed at that and tickled the little boy, who squealed happily.

"I guess you are," Noah said. "It's my new favorite kind of sandwich."

"Mine too!" Zach agreed happily.

Before long, Richard rejoined us. The four of us sat, talking amongst ourselves and anxiously awaiting the return of the judge.

See, I can be a reasonable person. This isn't the chapter's original intended ending. It originally ended when Zach screamed 'Noooo!'. You're welcome :) Oh, and Sorry to David for changing it from his suggested ending. There's enough of a cliffhanger as it is, and I finally decided that the original was just too much after last chapter's cliffhanger.

Special thanks to hubby for allowing me to bounce ideas off him, and for quickly checking to make sure the chapter worked the way I intended. Thank you David, as always, for editing. All errors that remain are mine, and mine alone.

Moving On is © Copyright Fitz, 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved.
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As hard as that was to hear Zach's innocence is probably what will save them. Simply by being truthful and giving answers as he saw them without careful wording or bypassing stuff says right away he's safe. He knows what molested means cause he explained right off the bat with details. The fault is the judge jumping to conclusions.

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Little (or not so little as he himself says) Zach is a lovely character and I hope the judge will let him stay with his dads. I´ve enjoyed reading this story....the beginning was incredibly sad but Noah, Scott and Zach make a great family and I hope they´ll stay happy together :)

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Who knew that when Scott and Noah were cleaning paint off of Zach, it would come to bite them in the ass? My heart was in my mouth when Judge Gould stated her ruling. Thank God Zachy spoke up! And better yet, thank God Noah took pictures!

 

And that other attorney, Willow's attorney, what an ass! I wanted to bitch-slap him upside his head.

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On 06/07/2013 10:14 AM, Lisa said:
Who knew that when Scott and Noah were cleaning paint off of Zach, it would come to bite them in the ass? My heart was in my mouth when Judge Gould stated her ruling. Thank God Zachy spoke up! And better yet, thank God Noah took pictures!

 

And that other attorney, Willow's attorney, what an ass! I wanted to bitch-slap him upside his head.

I knew! *looks around innocently* why do you think he insisted on taking pictures :P

 

Yeah, the lawyer is a douche. Actually, Zach jumping to Scott's defense wasn't expected on my part. The brat even interrupts me! hehe

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On 06/07/2013 04:39 AM, atorusandanode said:
That was wicked of you! I'm certain they'll be fine. <_<
I'm glad you're certain! You'll find out next chapter if you're right or not! (sorry, couldn't resist!)
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On 06/06/2013 02:58 PM, Suvitar said:
Little (or not so little as he himself says) Zach is a lovely character and I hope the judge will let him stay with his dads. I´ve enjoyed reading this story....the beginning was incredibly sad but Noah, Scott and Zach make a great family and I hope they´ll stay happy together :)
You'll just have to wait and see. All relationships (even those that stand the test of time) are filled with ups and downs, and you never know what might be a breaking point for a relationship.

 

For many years, I've been interested in writing a love story, but never had any idea where to even begin. While reading a fairly depressing story, I began to dwell on what I would go through if something happened to my husband. As thoughts kept coming to me, I kept wondering if I'd ever be able to be happy again, and ideas of what that life might be like kept coming to me.

 

All that said, things can change in a heartbeat, as Scott's already found out. Just because things are happy now, it doesn't mean that Scott's story has a happy ending. (so you'll just have to keep reading and hope for the best!)

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On 06/06/2013 02:34 PM, Daithi said:
As hard as that was to hear Zach's innocence is probably what will save them. Simply by being truthful and giving answers as he saw them without careful wording or bypassing stuff says right away he's safe. He knows what molested means cause he explained right off the bat with details. The fault is the judge jumping to conclusions.
but remember, it is entirely within the judge's discretion to do pretty much whatever she pleases, even if it's a result of jumping to conclusions. (of course they can probably appeal, and hope that someone overturns the ruling, but still!)
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The judge was rightfully concerned, over reacted, and it will no doubt have an effect on her ruling. Very well played by Fitz. Considering what kinds of stories family court judges hear day in and day out I'm kinda surprised at her reaction. Hopefully Fitz will let us know why she reacted so strongly without finding out exactly what happened. She's gotta know that a child's recounting of an event often needs some de-coding. Can't wait to read what happens next.

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On 06/08/2013 08:01 AM, KaimukiMan said:
The judge was rightfully concerned, over reacted, and it will no doubt have an effect on her ruling. Very well played by Fitz. Considering what kinds of stories family court judges hear day in and day out I'm kinda surprised at her reaction. Hopefully Fitz will let us know why she reacted so strongly without finding out exactly what happened. She's gotta know that a child's recounting of an event often needs some de-coding. Can't wait to read what happens next.
I guess my 'big city' mentality kinda bites me a little on this one. Macon is actually a pretty decent size, so she probably has heard a little of everything. It's still a conservative town in a very conservative state. Despite gay-friendly Atlanta, there's a LOT of homophobia and bigotry rampant in the state. Sometimes cooler heads don't always prevail.
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