Can't Go Back

by: Romano | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 24, 2015

Chapter 6
Change Your Life

A/N: Some of you mentioned that you felt the ambiguity of Zach’s age was taking away from the story, and that’s actually a really fair point. At this stage, I sort of wanted you to wonder, but it will be cleared up real soon. Like, really soon. To give you some idea, though, Zach’s previous age would’ve been about twenty-five, whereas Eric is in his late thirties.


1. Quit avoiding the problem. A.K.A stop being such a stupid-head (crossed out) wimp.

The mirror is not his friend.

For the past month, Zach has assiduously shirked away from any external markers of his journey backwards in time, fleeting glances here and there in the mirror felt like following a map that only leads to a dead end. Or a compass that points towards North and nowhere else.

Yet now, he stands in the bright-lit bathroom studying his face and wonders what it is that Eric sees - or more accurately, how he can’t see.

A boy stares back at him, no older than fourteen.

He seems unbelievably small, but is probably of an average height for his age, and his scrawny body only makes him look so much younger, all awkward elbows and lanky limbs. His hair is dark, though is still shades lighter than he remembers, while his face is horribly cute. In spite of the distinct jaw-line and angular chin, there is enough leftover babyfat that he’s the kind of boy that girls will crush hard on, but ultimately describe first and foremost as ’dreamy,’ or, gag, ’adorable.’ Miles away - years away - from ruggedly handsome or even hot.

But it’s the eyes. The eyes are what hold his attention.

Strikingly blue, they are impossibly bright, and innocent in a way Zach’s never been.

Uncomfortably aware of the arm hanging limply by his side, fingers gripping a soft, cuddly wolf like it’s a life-line, he doesn’t know whether to consider that a good thing.


2. Be more positive.

It began with the best of intentions, as these things always do.

What will you do with it?

What does Zach want to do?

It’s a tricky question, one he thinks long and hard on. After his confrontation with his reflection, Zach crafts a list - a plan of action, a means to an end.

He is practical, factual, this-is-what-it-is-esque. But Zach knows that unless he changes his prevalent, pessimistic outlook, he’s never going to get anywhere. So he starts reading self-help books for as long as he can stomach it, and attaches merry, luminous sticky notes covered with inspirational quotes to his dresser.

Everyday is a second chance.

You’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you’d rather be.

Think positive and positive things will happen.

They all sound so cheesy and vapid, and it feels as if Zach’s starring in his own, low-budget sit-com, plastering on a blinding smile and waiting for the laugh track.

Look on the bright side - that’s elementary school stuff.

He sees his shrunken body and smooth, soft skin, and it’s hard to quit focusing on all that he’s lost and acknowledge everything he has gained.

Then comes his Mum’s anniversary.

Every other year, Zach would retreat to his apartment to get high in peace, vodka bottle in hand and eyes rolling in the back of his head, almost killing himself trying to escape the pain.

But for the first time in years, he’s staying at Eric’s place rather than his own with no alcohol in sight (Eric’s stash of scotch having long ago been hidden).

Zach slogs through work in a haze, numb and stranded in his own personal hell. He slowly punches holes in a plain piece of paper for over half an hour, just watching the remains flutter away and listening to the deadening crunch. He grinds tacks into his desk, yellow, green and blue, and coldly staples sheets together. When his thumb gets trapped between the silver teeth, trickles of intelligent red, he can’t tell if it was an accident.

His heart feels heavy. He feels so very old.

He doesn’t realise he was due at his boss’ office over forty-minutes ago, until a hand reaches out and snags his own, stilling his movements, and Eric’s blurred face appears in his vision.

Crouched in front of him with the distinctive slope of worry in his dark eyes, Eric wraps a handkerchief around the open wound, which Zach unfeelingly observes has grown, and searches for words when none are in the offing. His steady gaze promises, It’s okay. His tight mouth asks, why?

What had been two, small punctures are now long, raw cuts. There’s dried blood in his fingernails and crimson smeared across his palm.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened.

Blood gurgles from the deepened slashes and Zach is suddenly stiffly ashamed of his behaviour.

He didn’t mean to, he never means to.

Overwhelmed with a rush of could’s and maybes and if only I’d done’s, he chokes, "I miss her, ’Ric. I miss her and she’s gone and it’s today." He roughly swipes under his nose. "It’s today and I just miss her so much."

That’s all it takes. That’s all it takes for the Eric to see the cuts for what they really are - a cry for help, an overflow, a punishment to fit the crime.

"Aw, Zach," Eric whispers. "Come here."

He draws Zach into a hug right there in front of everyone, and it’s only then that the associate becomes conscious of the fact that he’s sobbing, shoulders shaking as he buries his face in Eric’s chest, while the other man pats his back and makes vague noises of comfort.

"Shh…it’s okay, it’s okay."

It’s the farthest thing from okay.

Eventually, his boss calms him to the point where he can peel the kid away from him long enough to usher him towards his office, but once there, there’s no hope of dislodging Zach from his side. He rests his head on the lawyer’s shoulder and sucks on his other thumb, sniffing and whining every so often. Mumbling inarticulately, Zach plays with Jellybean’s fur, who was handed to him around the same time Eric bundled him up in his blankie that he’d been crying out for.

He’s neither teen nor toddler.

He’s not even really Zach until about three hours later.

Eric’s clutch on the book he’s been reading has gone slack and his eyes have fallen shut, head dipping towards his chest.

It is then that Zach, half-dozing himself, finds the courage to murmur, "She was a painter. My mum. Not a very good one, maybe, but she didn’t care. I remember how I’d come home and every day almost without fail, she’d have paint staining all of her clothing. When I asked her why she didn’t wear an apron like we had to in school, she’d laugh and tell me getting so messy was her favourite part." He yawns, snuggling closer to Eric. "I remember one time she painted the three of us together. My Mum and Dad and me. It’s the only picture we had where we were all smiling and it wasn’t even a real one."

His voice fades, thinking, and moments later, he’s dead to the world.

After barely making it through the rest of the day, all the while clinging to Eric, Zach wants nothing more than to put the incident behind him. And it isn’t until a week later that he’s forced to think about it again.

Flinging open his bedroom door and chucking his messenger bag on the bed, Zach is yanking off his tie when he freezes in place.

There, quietly hung on the wall, is a painting. The painting.

Soft smiles and crinkled eyes.

Zach can hardly believe it. Someway, somehow, Eric tracked down one of his fondest memories and brought it to life. He listened when Zach was scared of talking, felt the weight of all of his word’s importance.

All of a sudden, Zach remembers all the times Eric has played with him, encouraged him to use the race-car tracks Cory bought him and didn’t laugh when Zach had a little too much fun than is probably normal. He remembers how Eric always makes his waffles just the way he likes them and never complains when Zach begs to watch the Lego movie for the thousandth time.

All of the smiles and hugs and hair ruffles - they all come flooding back.

He doesn’t know how he ever took Eric for granted, but he vows not to do it again. Suddenly, it’s not so hard to feel fortunate.

It still doesn’t feel quite like a blessing, but he knows it’s not a curse.


3. Update wardrobe. (Translation: buy clothes that actually fit.)

Every time Zach sneaks out, it’s for a perfectly good reason.

The first was an essential trip to see Dr. Slater, timed expertly during one of Eric’s meetings. The next equally fundamental.

He’s been having an off morning. Not only have he and Eric slept in, but his pants keep falling down and he has to create a new loop in his belt to hold them up, if only just. The hem has to be rolled up at the bottom as do the sleeves of his jacket. He looks ridiculous.

Like a child playing dress-up.

Zach’s frustration only increases ten-fold when he struggles to knot his tie. Most days he can manage with only a little difficulty, but for now it looks like he’ll have to bring in reinforcements.

"Eric, my tie’s being a dumb-ass," he exclaims upon bursting into his boss’ bedroom.

Buttoning up his own vest, the lawyer sighs, "Let’s have a look."

Squirming while Eric deals with his twisty disaster, Zach doesn’t notice at first the way the older man’s head tilts, speculating, seizing him up.

Then their eyes meet and for a moment the associate thinks there might be a question hidden in their depths.

For a moment it looks like maybe Eric’s wondering why the kid is so much shorter than him, when did his clothes get so big, where his masculine frame went.

Zach holds his breath. He waits for it.

But then that moment is gone.

Something holds his tongue. And instead, Eric shakes himself and says, "Good try, buddy. Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time." Then he playfully tousles his hair and pecks his forehead, before walking over to slip on his watch and jacket.

But Zach’s had enough and, later that very day, he swoops in during her lunch break and hacks Cory’s computer. With a single glance, he memorizes Eric’s upcoming schedule and cunningly devices his next breakout.

When Eric leaves for court two days after, Zach casually strolls out of the building and into the mall about fifteen blocks down the street. He estimates that he has approximately two hours, which is not enough to get everything he needs, but it’s a start. He purchases three suits from their formal wear, nothing too shabby, and then grudgingly heads to the adolescent section to scope for socks, converse, shirts, tees, hoodies, underwear, jeans… the list goes on and on. Afterwards, he catches a cab to the condo and unloads the goods in his room, making it back just in time to see Eric waiting for the elevator.

He has to lie and say he’d just grabbed a bagel from the stand on the steet, which then results in a five minute baby-lecture on healthy eating habits, but hey, it’ll be nice to have clothes that don’t feel like they’re trying to eat him.


4. Clear out apartment.

Debatably one of the most crucial things on his agenda is Zach’s wish to tie up some loose ends.

One of which being his apartment.

Whatever the future holds, that desolate dump is not going to feature in it. Of this, he’s positive.

He gathers a hoard of cardboard boxes, black bags, yellow gloves, and cleaning detergents. In one commendable exertion, he dedicates an entire day just to his bathroom, scrubbing his shower, toilet and sink, taking care just to wipe the faucets - he even uses an old toothbrush to remove the grime in the trickiest of places.

Zach dusts the medicine cupboard and cleans the mirror, being incredibly thorough.

It’s tough, especially once he has to start deciding what and what not to throw out, but he’s sure it will be worth it.

It’s therapeutic, almost.

Like with every stroke and swab and scrub, he’s purging himself of the man he used to be.

Stripping away the dirt of his past and polishing the potential to be something more.

Something greater than ever before.


5. Give in, not up.

His work rate does improve, but Zach finds he concentrates best with his fingers in his mouth.

His emotions aren’t entirely out of control, but only because Zach lets them do whatever they please.

He’s not perfect, but Zach’s removed the rose-tinted glasses and is beginning to accept that he never really was and thus, never will be.

Zach regularly checks in with Dr. Slater, who keeps record of his ’progress’ (he’s not a damn science project, he’s not) and advices him on many different things. It does help, to an extent. So, Zach’s not surprised that on one particular day, the man calls on his way out the door, "Oh, and Zach? One more thing…"

Although not overly interested, he’s willing to hear him out.

"What’s up, Doc?" Zach grins, his much-loved phrase.

"Some of the…the others-" he doesn’t have to clarify who, "-meet up once a month," he nervously divulges, scratching his neck. "They have a meeting this Friday. You should go."

"To… what? Meet people my own age?" he scornfully questions. "Uh, I think I’ll pass."

"It would be good for you," Slater insists. "Just promise me you’ll consider it, okay?"

"Sure," he says easily, "Whatever."

But he has no intentions of actually following through, until a few days later when Zach automatically reaches for his razor only to remember that he doesn’t need one for another two or three years - he doesn’t even patchy facial hair to look forward to anytime soon.

So he goes. To support group. He needs to know he’s not the only one.

But when the time comes and he’s stood surveying a room of teenagers, - pre-teens, even - cheerfully playing scrabble, Zach is quickly bombarded by second thoughts.

"What a bunch of losers," he mutters, turning to go.

"I know, right?" a voice chimes from beside him, making Zach jump back in alarm. "I mean, Scrabble? Really? Least they could do is whip out some good-old Operation. Or Cluedo..." he reconsiders, "I’d make a great murderer."

"Sorry, dude," he apologises on instinct, trying to catch his breath. "Didn’t see you there."

"No problem," the boy grins, "You’re Zach Holden, right? I’m Pierce. Slater said you might show."

Zach rolls his eyes. "He also said it wouldn’t suck."

"You don’t know the half of it, man," Pierce laughs. "These guys are hardcore."

"Hard-core milk and cookie consumers?"

"Something like that," he answers. "Though, to be fair, you kinda caught ’em on a bad day. They’re not always this…" he searches for the right word, "..tame."

"But still bad, right?" Zach guesses.

Pierce smirks, "We’re all a little bad, I think."

Zach doesn’t know what it is, but there’s something about this guy that makes it hard not to like him.

"So why’d you come?"

He shrugs, "Mom makes me. Something about ’fitting in’ and ’making friends.’ Personally, I think it’s bullshit."

That’s…interesting. Zach quirks a probing brow and asks without thinking, "Mom?"

"Eh, sister/mom - what’s the difference?" Pierce comments, seeming amused by the line of questioning. "No-one here really cares about that kinda stuff anymore. You got girlfriends turned mother-hens and brothers that are now uncles. Then there’s just your regular old mother to, well, mother, dad-to-dad - that kinda thing. Family dynamics shift," he shrugs, "Not much you can do. Some people have one parent, some have two. We’re all used to it by now."

Impressed despite himself, Zach admires his blasé, what-can-you-do attitude.

"You don’t feel kind of weird about it?" he asks, genuinely curious.

"Nah," he waves off, "Not anymore. I mean, at first you don’t really want to label it, ’cause it’s a little too much to begin with. Beginning’s always rough. But then, for appearance’s sake, you go along with it, and after a while, it’s just natural, I guess."

"You don’t mind?" By this stage, Zach is positively bewildered.

"Like I said, I’m past that now. But you…" Pierce flicks a glance over him, considering, "You seem pretty stuck on it, yeah?"

"It’s.. it’s complicated," Zach confides, stuffing his hands into his pockets. And for the first time since this whole ordeal started, he finally admits, "He was my boss… now I can’t tell who he is."

Pierce whistles.

"Boss?" he grimaces, rocking back on his heels, "Ouch. That’s a combo we ain’t seen before.

"Yeah, I didn’t imagine it was all that traditional. Even here."

"It’s not the worst I’ve heard of, though," Pierce tells him. "There’s this one chick, and trust me, I thank God every damn day this didn’t happen to me, that had to go into foster care because all of her living relatives had passed away. Last I heard, she was getting on okay, found a nice home and all that, but still. To have to go through all that alone…" He shudders. "I can’t even imagine."

Turns out, support group isn’t such a waste of time, after all.

Pierce seems like a pretty cool guy, and they exchange numbers with vague commitments to ’hang out.’ Zach strikes up a several more conversations with a couple others and leaves feeling more hopeful than he ever would’ve thought.

It’s then that he gets an idea. And it’s then that Zach’s inner battle starts to slowly dissolve.


6. No more excuses.

Zach’s feeling pretty pleased with himself by the time he arrives home.

After spending the past two hours scrubbing down his greasy oven and revolting refrigerator (which was encrusted with black mould and reeked of spoilt milk) and throwing out all of the junk in his cabinets, he wants nothing more than to collapse on the couch and watch any trashy TV that requires no functioning brain cells. The kitchen is more or less perfect, the majority of his belongings having been boxed away, and all that’s left to do is sweep, then mop the floor. After that, it’s just a matter of tackling his old bedroom and then his apartment will be fit for the next loser to move in.

Maybe it’s his sluggish mind, but Zach doesn’t recognise that anything is out of the ordinary until he hears, "Where’ve you been?"

Zach stills, turning slowly to face Eric who is standing with his arms crossed and looking positively fuming.

The kid’s stomach drops, cursing himself inwardly. He was supposed to be working late.

Still hoping to salvage his innocence, Zach shrugs, "Just out. No big deal."

"Oh?" Eric cocks a inquisitive brow. "That’s what you said last time."

"Yeah, so?" He’s closing down, getting defensive. He knows it won’t help his case.

"Well, see, that’s funny," the older man replies with abnormal airiness. "Because I talked to some of the associates and they said you’ve been leaving the firm pretty often. Like, during every single one of my meetings. Pretty amazing coincidence, right?"

Oh, man. He is so screwed. "I don’t know what to tell you, Eric."

Dropping all pretences, Eric scornfully suggests, "How about the truth?"

He knew all of the ducking out during work hours and narrowly avoiding his boss, while pitching flimsy excuses every time he gets caught would come back and bite him in the ass someday, but Zach just didn’t figure it would be this soon.

"Gee," he begins, slowly backing away. "I’d love to stop and chat. But I’ve kinda got stuff to do. You know the stuff? So many stuffs."

"Nice try, kiddo, but you’re not getting out of this one," the lawyer persists. "I want a straight answer. Where were you?"

Tell the truth or lie? It’s his decision.

He blurts, "Our underground headquarters in Brooklyn."

His boss gazes at him in total bewilderment. "What?"

"I’m an undercover agent working for the British intelligence and I’ve been sneaking out to report back to my supervisor."

Pressing a finger to his lips with exaggerated shifty eyes, he dramatically confides, "Nolan is secretly a hardcore drug dealer."

Exhaling in exasperation, Eric has to compose himself before biting, "Zach, I’m not fooling around."

To his knowledge, Eric has ever looked so pissed when speaking to him, but there’s a first for everything.

"No, I kid," he half-chuckles, though inside his heart is hammering. "Actually, I’m a rogue robot who needs to be reprogrammed every forty-eight hours precisely or else I’ll go insane and self-destruct."

The older man’s jaw tics. "You are really pushing your luck-"

"Okay, I’ll give you that one. It’s a bit far-fetched," Zach blathers, "The truth is, I lead a double life, wherein I’m really a part-time superhero who is jaded after the loss of my best friend, the only one I couldn’t save-"

"For your information," Eric butts in irately, "When I asked you what you’ve been up to, that wasn’t a free pass to Stupidville."

Without missing a beat, Zach announces, "Stupidville is my alter-ego."

Taking a deep, calming breath, his boss squeezes his eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose and muttering, "You are the most difficult, irritating, infuriating moron I have ever met."

Zach really can’t help himself. "Well, you know what they say - takes one to know one."

"Zach," Eric is very clearly losing his patience, "I am only going to ask this one more time." Pushing a hand through his hair, he repeats, "Where have you been going?"

But Zach can be just as stubborn. "I’m going to my room in a moment."

"It’s a simple question," he persists.

"It’s none of your business."

"Too bad," Eric angrily counters. "I’m not dropping this. You might as well be honest with me."

He wouldn’t even know where to start.

"You have got to stop treating me with the kid gloves, Eric," the associate gripes. "I’m not up to anything immoral or perilous or reckless. You just have to trust me. I am asking you to trust me. Is that so hard?"

"At this moment in time, don’t hold your breath," the man harshly relates. "You’ve been lying to me for weeks. How the hell can you expect me to be cool about this?"

"I don’t," Zach responds bluntly. "I’m half-waiting for you to strap on a collar and leash and lug me around all of eternity."

"Watch it, rookie," Eric growls. Another name he hasn’t heard in a while. "You are out of line."

Raising mocking brows, the youngster questions cockily, "Or what?"

"Or nothing," his boss tells him. "Because you’re grounded. Starting now."

"What?" Zach reels back. "You can’t do that!"

"I can and I am. That’s a week’s worth of sitting in my office with me, taking lunch with me, and oh, going to all of my meeting’s with - you guessed it - me. Believe it or not, kiddo, I don’t want to be spend my day worrying that you’re out doing God knows what. So if this is what it takes to ensure you don’t get into any trouble, then I guess you leave me no choice."

"No way! That is so unfair!"

"I don’t give a rat’s ass what’s fair," Eric declares. "It’s happening. Deal with it."

And that was it. All of Zach’s protests fall on deaf ears.

Strangely though, it’s almost like only his teen self is being punished. Anything the kid in him wants, he gets. Toys, Jellybean, blankie, night-time lullabies - they are all acceptable in Eric’s books. Cell phone, video games, TV and movies, on the other hand, are entirely forbidden. Zach doesn’t know if this is a conscious decision on Eric’s part or not, but he doubts that the man is aware what he’s doing. He sees no reason why he would be.

What Eric fails to account for, unfortunately, is the neediness which swiftly engulfs the youngster.

Zach is soon dominated by his toddler counterpart, and surprises himself by enjoying all of the time he gets to spend with Eric.

The downside of course being that Eric has other obligations and cannot fritter away all of his time entertaining the restless boy. The youngster asks question after question, why after endless why’s, and starts acting out when he doesn’t get said attention.

Zach throws pens at Eric’s head.

He refuses to nap, rips up his briefs, stomps on every juice-box, and breaks his favourite toy car in half out of pure spite. Then cries like it’s somehow Eric’s fault.

Eric is at his wit’s end.

Eventually, exhausted and feeling close to tears himself, he has no other option than to decree, "That’s it. I think we should have a little Quiet-time."

"No!" Zach unsurprisingly protests. "I don’t wanna!"

"Come on, puppy. No more arguing." Eric pulls him up, grabbing a cushion and leading him to the corner. "Alright, now sit down, take a deep breath and stay here until you’ve cooled off a bit, okay?" he says gently but firmly. "I know you must be feeling frustrated that I’m too busy to play with you right now, but that doesn’t excuse your behaviour."

"No!" he scowls, sitting down but kicking one of his legs in anger.

"Zach. That’s enough," the older man warns, with a steady, unrelenting gaze. "It’s time for you to be quiet until you feel a little better, got that? Just ’til you settle down."

The boy kicks once more. "No!"

"I’m not going to talk to you until you’ve calmed down," Eric explains, simply returning to his desk and leaving Zach to his whining. It takes a further twenty minutes of tears, airborne pens, and a lot of grumbling, but eventually Zach’s cries taper off. When all that remains are hoarse, self-pitying whimpers, Eric finally stops ignoring him and crouches down in front of the now sleepy kid.

"Okay, are you ready to stop throwing things at me?"

Nodding shyly and hiccupping, Zach chews on his thumbnail.

"Good. You wanna fill me in on what that was all about?"

He stares at the man’s shiny shoes and half-shrugs.

"Come on, puppy," Eric murmurs, rubbing the boy’s shoulder comfortingly. "What’s got you so upset?"

"Just-just miss you," he mumbles, bashfully peeking up from under his lashes.

"Miss me?" the lawyer echoes, frowning faintly. "But I’m right here."

"You’we-you’re working."

Scrubbing his forehead with one hand, Eric sighs. "Well, yeah. I have meetings and responsibilities and lot’s and lot’s to do, but I’d never let that get in the way of spending time with you, you know that."

"Just miss you," Zach repeats, bottom lip trembling.

Eric pulls him into a hug, tucking his head under his chin and saying simply, "I know, puppy. I always miss you too."

Regardless of their heart-to-heart, during the next four days, Eric instigates a lot of Quiet-times. He is predictable, always consistent in his enforcement, but so is Zach, and it isn’t long before Eric discovers a pattern. Which is why, on the Saturday morning in a hopeful bid to make a dent in his sizable paperwork, his father-figure concocts a cunning plan.

He mixes together plain flour and salt, then boils hot water and adds in both vegetable oil and blue food colouring, before combining the wet and dry ingredients and slowly stirring. Once thoroughly blended, Eric allows this to cool, then kneads the sticky clump, sprinkling an extra dash of flour, so that he’s left with his own, homemade play-dough.

Then all he has to do is gather some blunt utensils, cups and bowls, step back and let the intriguing new substance work its magic.

Well… for all of five minutes.

At first, Zach excitedly pushes and prods the squishy slab, rolling it out with his fingers and flattening it with his palms. But that loses its appeal pretty quickly, and Zach is forced to stretch his imagination, gradually becoming more and more inventive.

Before long, the youngster calls, "Look! Look, ’Ric! I made a starfish!"

"That’s great, puppy," he remarks with a patient smile, glancing over briefly. "I see it."

After a few minutes, Zach begins cramming squashy handfuls into a plastic cup and then hacks at it with a fork, beating and slicing and poking, bright blobs of blue sparking everywhere. Eric stops reading to watch the frantic movements, eyes crinkling in amusement. Finally, he asks, "Uh... whatcha doing, kiddo?"

"I’m making ice-cream!" he announces proudly.

Eric’s lip quirks. "Really?"

"Uh-huh!" He nods eagerly. "It’s blueberry."

He represses an eye roll. How original.

"Sounds fantastic, puppy."

Thrusting the cold lump under the lawyer’s nose, Zach demands, "Smell!"

Playing along, Eric screws up his face and exclaims, "Ugh, that’s disgusting!"

Zach’s big blue eyes shine with pleasure. Giggling madly, he gives the crumbling play-dough another stir, before placing a hand over the top and shaking the container. "How about now?"

Eric leans forward and pretends to cautiously sniff. "Mm, much better," he hums, warmth rising in his chest as Zach’s face breaks into a delighted beam.

When the ’ice-cream’ is served up in a plastic dish shortly after, Eric picks up a spoon and fake slurps the gloopy mixture up, grinning at Zach’s ensuing, jubilant laughter.


It’s Thursday afternoon and Eric has just left for the day to take Zach to his dentist’s appointment.

Cory is collecting some forgotten files from his desk that she intends to drop off at his place later when she pauses, spotting a torn piece of paper half-hidden under the couch.

Bending down, she scrapes it off the floor and squints at what is undeniably Zach’s scrawl.

Scanning the page, her eyes are naturally pulled towards the heavily underlined note at the bottom.

She frowns.

7. Tell Eric.

Slipping the sheet into her binder, Cory casts a look towards her boss’ empty chair and bites her lip, sensing that she has stumbled upon something big as she tentatively muses, "Tell Eric what?"



End Chapter 6

Can't Go Back

by: Romano | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 24, 2015


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