35: Addiction

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Pre-Chapter Warning:
This chapter contains mention of drug use and addiction. If it's a trigger for you, please feel free to skip to the bottom of the chapter where I have a chapter summary.
Thank you for reading.

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We sat across Scott's father in the livingroom of his apartment. He didn't know how or where to start, so he decided to bring out their family photo books as a way to ease the tension in the room.
That didn't help.
I squeezed Scott's hand and assured him that he was okay, only to have Seth frown. "How is your anxiety?"
"What?" Scott asked, clearly shocked. There are few people in Scott's life that know about his anxiety and depression. I was one of them, of course, and so were Kirstie and Kevin, but outside of our little family, Scott's therapist was the only other person that knew. Scott hates talking about his feelings so him finding out someone else knew was probably a major slap to the face. "How did- how did you know about that?"
"I'm your father, Scott. I raised you, I— I was the one who tried to get you to talk to a therapist at a young age to help you learn to cope and grow from it,"
Scott scoffed, "I didn't see a therapist when I was a kid,"
"That's because your mother didn't want you to. She— she refused to admit that you weren't like the other kids. She— god, I loved her so much," he sighed, sitting back. "Not a day went by that I didn't look at her and fall in love all over again,"
"Then why did you leave us?"
"Your mother— Amy was.. troubled. We were high school sweethearts and I proposed the day after graduation and we were convinced we'd be together forever. It wasn't until we moved in together, did I realize she wasn't who I thought she was."
"Cut the theatrics, Seth," Scott hissed. "What are you talking about?"
"Your mother was addicted, Scott. She— I came home one day and I saw her sitting in the bathroom with a glass pipe in one hand and a baggie of methamphetamine in the other."
Scott's eyes went wide and his face was pure white. His hand tightened around mine and I could feel him start to sweat. This was such a slap to the face for the both of us, that while Scott was trying to process it, I refused to let myself even begin to think about it.
Right now, all I could think about was Scott.
"She— she said she started in freshman year to help her study for some test. After that night, I tried to stop her from smoking it, but it got to the point where she'd become violent if she didn't have her fix."
"So you let her take meth?"
"I didn't know what else to do," Seth mumbled. "Either I let her take it in the house and keep an eye on her, or I refuse it and she goes and does it with some druggie on the street. I— I managed to convince her, however, to stop when she got pregnant. She stopped using for years and I was so, so proud of her." His voice cracked. "I thought she stopped and I thought she moved on and turned her life around."
"But she didn't," Scott replied, his eyes watering as he shook his head.
"I told her I was going to take you and leave if she kept using. She threatened me and I told her I didn't care what she did and that I refused to leave you with her,"
"But you left me—?"
"I know. She- she was drunk and high and told the police I was beating you. I- instead of staying and fighting her claims and figuring shit out.. I ran. I- I ran because I was scared she would hurt you if I stayed. She hated me, Scott. She hated anyone who stood in the way of her drugs,"
"So you left me to deal with her addiction at ten years old? You're no better than her!" Scott yelped suddenly, his anger growing until I pulled him back. "What if she did hurt me, huh? You weren't there- you didn't know-"
"Just because I left the house, it doesn't mean I left you." Seth cut him off, reaching foreword and turning the pages of the photo albums to show Scott pictures of himself when he was younger. "See? I was there for everything, Scott. I- I wanted to make sure you were okay and she didn't hurt you."
"You- What?" Scott looked up. "You- she said you were an addict and you left and- and she said you were homeless and in jail— why would she lie to me?"
"She tried so hard to keep you from knowing about the drugs, but— but I told her there was no point to it because you were smart. You are smart, Scott. I mean, you're a lawyer! That's incredible and I'm so, so proud of you."
"Where- Where is Mom now?"
"I haven't spoken to her since your high school graduation. But I can try to find her, if you'd like?"
Scott nodded, squeezing my hand again. "Yes please. I- I'm sorry I painted you as the monster, Seth."
"You don't have to apologize for anything, Scott. I understand why you're mad at me and I understand how my actions impacted you growing up."
"But why- why wait so long?"
"I was going to come see you after your high school graduation, but you and your friends were out having fun and I didn't want to ruin that. I decided then that you were okay and that you didn't need me around anymore. When I heard that you were back in town.. I had to come and see you. And- goodness, Scott. Wesley is so beautiful," he smiled shyly. "He looks just like you,"
I smiled then, nodding. "Doesn't he? He has my curls and eyes, but there's no denying he's Scott's son. His laugh is exactly like Scott's,"
Seth's smile grew. "He truly is a beautiful child. And congratulations on the one on the way," he nodded my way. "Having two children, as it is, is hard; let alone being so young.. I'm very proud of you both."
"You— Thank you for the money," Scott started. "But we cant take it,"
Seth shook his head. "I'm not taking it back. It's the least I could do to help you both; I missed out on so many birthdays and events that I want to try to catch up. I know a few thousand isn't much, but I'm hoping it will help a little. Do you have a name chosen?"
Scott nodded, "Her name is Arden Declan Hoying,"
Seth's eyes seemed to light up. "That's— that's such a beautiful name, guys. I'm so happy for you!"

As we were about to leave, hours later, Scott stopped and met Seth's, now happy, eyes. "Would you— would you be interested in coming over for coffee sometime?" Scott asked, surprising both Seth and I. "I— we want you to meet Wesley."
Seth looked like he almost broke down into tears as he looked my way for confirmation. I nodded and gave him a reassuring smile, earning a nod from the older man. "I- I'd love to. Thank you."
Scott nodded, his hand squeezing mine. "Cool. I'll.. I'll text you?"
Seth nodded and, after a moment, they hugged. "Thank you for letting me back into your life, Scott," Seth started. "I promise I'm not leaving again."

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Chapter summary:

Scott and Mitch go to Seth's apartment and learn about why Seth left when Scott was 10 years old. They find out Scott's mother was battling drug addiction since high school and eventually find out that Seth left the home, but stuck around and made sure Scott was okay. He realized when Scott graduated high school that his son was going to be okay, and eventually moved on. When Scott came back to California, Seth wanted to see him again and rebuild their relationship.
The chapter ends with Scott and Seth hugging, and Scott asking Seth if he wanted to meet Wesley, surprising both Mitch and Seth.

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