Moving Forward – Chapter 44: “Best Man”

Marie opens the door and smiles, as she motions for TJ to enter the house.

“So I’m not allowed here for like a month and a half, and then now I’ve been here twice in two days,” he starts as Marie rolls her eyes. She hadn’t planned on calling TJ, but Dale wanted to talk to him after the conversation with Steve.

“Look at it this way – it means Dale is healing nicely, right?” She questions and TJ smiles, shaking his head yes. While he enjoyed working with Alex, he couldn’t wait to have Dale back in the car. He also wanted to see his friend get better, for his own good.

“So do I want to know the reason for the call?” Marie shrugs her shoulders. “You know, don’t you?”

“Of course because he told me to expect you.” TJ then crosses his arms as he looks back at her.

“Well, do I get any warning?” She shakes her head no, knowing Dale deserved full rights on telling him. “Can I play clue?” She shakes her head no. “You’re no fun.”

“Just go see him. He’s downstairs.” She then continues to the kitchen as TJ makes his way down the steps to the basement.

He remembered coming down this very set stairs just a few years back and entering a personal night club, named Club E, featuring a dance floor and bar. It was their hang out spot for years with the Dirty Mo Posse and where the craziest chaos happened among the fans.

Though, he remembered a couple years ago when Dale changed everything around, fitting his grown up mode. While the bar and pool table remained for a small hang out, the majority was turned into a gym for Dale to work out as need be.

TJ smiles as he stands up, watching Dale take a couple shots on the basket, making a couple while missing others. He remains quiet, watching him go through the familiar drills that he had been put through for the therapy process as set in by Mickey. TJ found himself impressed by how some went, however cringed a couple other parts. No doubt they were right close back to where he needed to be, but small bits were still off.

He watches as Dale walks over towards his direction, catching his attention.

“How long have you been standing there?” Dale asks as TJ shrugs his shoulder.

“Enough to see that you’re making great progress,” he answers with a smile. “What’s next?” Dale points to the light switch, knowing the process that he’d go through.

“Shut the lights off, and let me turn on the strobe lights. I need to walk around, certain steps, and not let myself get thrown off.”

“So the party lights finally came in handy for something good?” Dale rolls his eyes as he watches TJ’s hand reach for the switch.

“You know what? Let’s talk, and then I can finish what I need to do.” TJ then looks over, surprised.

“Scared of me watching you now?” Dale shakes his head no as he grabs a bottle of water out of the fridge.

“It’s more like I want to have the discussion while it’s on the mind.” TJ looks on confused as he walks over, climbing up on one of the bar stools. There were few times that he saw Dale get this serious before him.

“Should I be nervous?” Dale shakes his head no as he climbs up on the stool beside TJ.

“How would you like to be my best man for the wedding?” TJ looks over shocked. He hadn’t expected anything like that, especially since he heard Dale’s reasons for Steve just yesterday.

“What about Steve?” Dale knew it was fitting to have Steve, but knew how much the change in plans meant to Marie and made sense.

“Marie didn’t want to walk down the aisle by herself, and she asked Steve to walk her down. It makes sense for all he did for us, how he saved Alyssa, and….just everything, TJ. It made sense more than I could explain as Marie put it perfectly.” TJ shakes his head, accepting. He could understand the reasoning seeing how close the three were.

“And you’re okay with this?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“It makes perfect sense, honestly. Besides, how long have we known each other? I have few best friends that I am as close to as I am to you, and we even joked about this a couple years ago that when I eventually got married you’d be the best man. Well, forget about joking – it’s a fact. You’re my best friend, and I’d be glad if you’re standing with me there that day.” TJ smiles as he wraps an arm around Dale. He wasn’t expecting that offer, but he was easily able to accept.

“I’d be my honor. Besides, someone has to make sure you go through with this fully and don’t get cold feet.” Dale chuckles as he looks over at TJ.

“I don’t think that’d ever happen, to be honest. I love her so much and can’t wait to be married.” TJ shakes his head in disbelief as he looks around the basement.

“It’s strange hearing you say that after all the times we came down here, both single, and you kept telling me you’d settle for no girl. Plus, there’s also the crazy antics that we got into. Now look at us. I’m married with a daughter, and you’re set to be married with two girls. I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined that happening.” Dale knew he was right, remembering those crazy parties, too.

“You don’t know what love means till you’re touched by the right person and they change your life forever. As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew there was something special with her. I know she’s flipped my world every which way over the past year and a half, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.” TJ reaches over to one of the books on the counter and picks it up.

“Even learning all this official marital announcement bullshit and orders?” Dale laughs. “You do realize that she named you king and you can dump this out. I could burn it for you.”

“I do realize that, but I also respect her request for tradition and some things to not change.” Dale then snatches the book from TJ and opens it to where he left off. “Hence why I’ve been reading it when I need a break, and so far, it’s not too bad.” TJ looks on surprised as he reads over the page opened before him.

“I still can’t believe you’re fitting a test at Darlington, Christmas, a wedding and this in before the season. Do you plan to sleep?” Dale chuckles as he snatches the book from TJ.

“Will you stop making it out to be more than it is? We’ve got this. It just takes balance and time.” TJ smiles as he watches Dale stand up and put the book back where he had it.

“As long as you’re taking care of yourself and doing what you need to do, it doesn’t matter to me. Now, how about that exercise?” Dale then looks over at him.

“You really want to see me do that?” TJ crosses his arms as he looks around the room, before back at Dale.

“I say $20 you don’t want me to see it because you’re going to mess up and hate for that to happen in front of my eyes.” Dale looks on surprised as he walks over to the light switch.

“$20, huh?” TJ shakes his head yes. “You’re on.”


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