Chase pulls up the driveway, turning the key off as he sits in the car taking a deep breath.
After a series of thoughts heading many directions, he found himself fixated on one person in particular to talk to. He realized just how much he was able to let out that past weekend, combined with the fact it was a fresh slate so no re-judging from past meetings. Though, he still found himself questioning whether he was doing the right thing.
He knew he was just questioning himself once again to try and avoid it as he grabbed his phone and stepped out of the car. He made the short walk up the driveway, hoping this went as smoothly as envisioned in his mind. He just needed to speak of some details, and start relieving himself of the pressure on his mind.
He knocks on the door, before taking a step back as he waits for it to be opened. His eyes fall to the ground as he debates turning and running – though his eyes immediately flash forward when he watches the door open.
“Come on in,” Tony says simply, before stepping back to let Chase in the house. Tony closes the door behind him, before leading him into the living room and gesturing towards the couch. “Do you want a drink or anything?” Chase shakes his head no as he sits down, nervously. Why was he suddenly feeling nervous? This was just a discussion between friends. “That’s fine.” Tony then takes his seat beside Chase, eyes fixated on the young man before him. “I’m all ears, Chase. I told you that I’d be here to listen to you whenever you wanted and I’m here to listen.”
“I want to thank you for helping me for starters,” Chase starts off, knowing simple would get him talking and maybe lead to complicated. “I want to thank you for the advice about Alyssa – that really helped towards our small discussion we were able to have. I know we’ve got more to discuss, but we’ve got started at least.” Tony shakes his head, glad to hear it. He had wondered how smoothly things went when Alyssa went to see him before anybody else.
“That’s good to hear, Chase. I’m glad that you’re making progress with her – and I told you, you don’t need to than-”
“You don’t understand, though. Your belief in me that day and reminders that it’ll work out, and somehow I’ll find a way to do this – finding strength, the right people – it was perfect in that moment. With that in mind, it sort of started a wave of momentum for me. I spoke to Regan about a couple details on Demi and let him in to my faults. I let him understand that I feel lost at times, that I can’t work out in my mind how to deal with this, and his thoughts on when I do decide to come back raci-”
“First and foremost, you need to focus on you, and your mental health. Everything else can be worked out later. That first statement there is the key, Chase. Don’t let racing and everything else cloud your judgment.” Those words reminded him of the discussion with Jeff and Rick that week, too.
“I know – and I’m sticking by my word that I’m not returning back to racing till I’m absolutely healed – just cause I know that’s my best way to deal with this. Hence why I talked to Jeff and Rick, and they’re both supportive.” Tony wasn’t surprised by that, based on how well he had gotten to know both through the years. “I also talked to Ella a bit, as well as Dale. To be honest, I think last night made me realize more than ever that I need to get things under control as I snapped at Alyssa, by accident. We talked it out, and she understands, but it scared me. It really forced me to take a step back further than I had been and figure something.” Chase looks up at Tony, knowing there was no way to avoid it anymore. “That’s why I called you.”
“I’m all ears, Chase. I told you that I’d be willing to hear you out whenever you need it.” Tony knew how much having someone to talk to meant through tough times – having spent time with Kevin and others previously. It was why he was willing to give Chase the benefit of the doubt here and listen.
“I spoke to Alyssa about things. We came to the understanding in our words that it wasn’t my fault, and we’d both be okay. But Tony, I still worry about her. I find myself wondering about her more than ever. I keep relieving the image of her getting hurt over and over in my mind and cringe every time. She also keeps saying that the arm thing is no big deal, but I can’t help but look at her and feel bad immediately. there’s so many things that she won’t get to do her way now because of that. We try act like nothing has changed, but so much has.” Tony could understand Chase’s feelings as he had some reservations from what he’d seen from Alyssa so far.
“You’re only having all these thoughts because of how much you care and love her. When you care about someone so much, you want to take the pain and anger away; you want to make them feel better right away. I know the image haunts you daily, and that’s understandable because you want to make that never happen. And of course you want to fix what she’s faced because you want things to return to before like nothing happened. As her boyfriend, you feel you’re her protector and that’s why it hurts because there’s shame in not doing what you’re set out to do.” Chase shakes his head, knowing that fit his feelings exactly.
“There’s time I try to help her – with some of the simplest tasks as that. She immediately blows me off, saying that she has it handled. It hurts because I just want to help, make that go away. I can’t erase what happened so I can’t fix the mistake, but I can make it better by helping her handle it.” Tony understood the perspective, knowing there were plenty who wanted to help him when he dealt with his broken leg.
“She’s stubborn – you know that from spending time with Dale. That doesn’t surprise me. I get that you want to help her and I can see the therapy in doing that, Chase. But you have to understand that she’s dealing with it, too. She doesn’t want people to look down on her, see her as weak, see that she’s changed from what happened. By being able to accomplish those simplest tasks as you call them, it gives her strength to know she can handle what life throws her way. It gives her independence, assurance. There’s got to a balance in that for both of you so you can both heal.” Chase knew that Tony was right, as much as he didn’t want to admit it – since he wanted to be there for her.
“It’s kind of like when I got stabbed. I wanted to do everything – walk around, get back to racing immediately, and not have anybody doubt me. I think it’s why I may have pushed myself a little too far at that late model test so I could get Dale’s approval.” Tony chuckles, remembering when he heard details of the test. He was betting money that Cindy was going to kick Dale’s ass.
“So you get where she’s coming from. We’ve all done it. We’ve stubborn to a fault, not wanting anybody to see weakness as we feel that’s going to bring our world crashing down. Now if you combine being attacked and feeling helpless, you have to get where she’s coming from.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.
“See, that’s the problem. I understand it too well with her. I look at her and see a reflection of the way I was at times. I remember going back to racing so quickly. Well, you know how that turned out as I didn’t handle things like I am now and I ran away to try and escape it. I’m scared that she’s going to do that because she’s not handling it accordingly. I feel that she’s gone back too soon.” Tony shook his head, knowing otherwise by what he seen out of Alyssa thus far. However, he could see the similarities as discussed by Chase.
“It’s obvious to have that fear because you’ve been there and know the situation from your shoes. However, each person handles things differently and I don’t think you have a single thing to worry about. Has she talked to anyone about things?” Chase had heard rumblings of that nature, but couldn’t confirm them.
“Her dad a little, as well as myself. She’s slowly divulging details.” Tony then looks at Chase, eyesbrows intrigued.
“Different than someone else we know?” Chase looks over and shakes his head, letting out a sigh. Perhaps his worry wasn’t needed.
“Okay, so I don’t have to worry about her in that regard. I just wish she didn’t have to deal with this at all, Tony. I thought this was done and gone and never to be thought of again – but yet, here we are. She doesn’t deserve it, just like Marie and Dale don’t either. I remember when Randy had us in separate rooms, all I wanted to do take her pain away, make it stop for her, let her go. It tore me apart more than anything to hear her screaming, feeling as though she couldn’t do anything and in so much pain.” Chase then takes a deep breath, wiping a couple tears as Tony scoots closer, wrapping an arm around him.
“I know it hurts. I know it’s the worst feeling you will know, Chase. But you have to remind yourself that it’s okay now, you both made it through that, you’re both strong to move forward, and your happily ever after will come eventually.” Chase smiles as he hoped those words played true, remembering his joke with Dale the night before.
“You know, I have to thank you more than anything beyond this. You were one of the first people to truly believe in Alyssa and I together. I remember you came to the track one week to try and keep Cole out of his constant trouble, and made mention to us that you believed in us. That meant a lot, Tony.” Tony rubs Chase’s shoulder as he lets out a sigh.
“Everybody deserves to be happy, no matter who they decide to do it with. I could see the smiles on both of your faces, and how easily you could talk to each other. I wasn’t going to stand in the way of your happiness. And Chase, you’ll get happiness completely one day without a thought of this.” Chase looks up at Tony, a bit of hope fulfilling him in those words.
“I hope you’re righ-”
“No – I know that I’m right. Just promise me that you’ll both invite me to the wedding.”