Cabin Fears – Chapter 59: The Afterthought

Tuesday morning

 

Regan knocks on the door, glancing around. He had been over here too many times to count through the years – almost too much it seemed. However, he was willing to do whatever it took.

He watches the door open, immediately smiling as he sees Marie standing there. She backs up, easily letting him inside as she was expecting him.

“Dale is out back with Tony,” she states simply as he nods his head.

He makes his way through the house, giving Robby and Elsa a quick wave along the way. He takes a deep breath as he opens the door, walking out onto the porch as he catches the boy’s attention.

“How are you?” Dale questions as Regan takes his seat with the group.

“I’m alright,” he answers. “The bigger question is how you are.” Dale knew the answer to the question was simple.

“I’m fine; that’s not why we’re here, Regan.” Regan shook his head, knowing exactly why Dale had called them. “So as I told you both on the phone, he had a bit of an episode yesterday. He snapped at Alyssa, and then I had a good discussion with him. A lot of mixture of thoughts from anger to frustration to blame to….well, the usual that he always get with Randy. But it was heightened more than I’ve ever seen it. That’s when I suggested he go to see Eric and he did, and Eric gave him a mild anxiety drug till he figures it out.”

“Glad that he finally listened to that advice,” Tony comments, remembering his discussions with Chase. “I told him that he should seek out help if he needs it. I mean, I know the feeling…”

“So do I,” Dale says, remembering the time he looked towards help after his experience with Marie’s family. “From what I get, this isn’t the first time he’s almost snapped, is it?” Regan shakes his head no, remembering their discussion at Bristol. “I don’t want to get overly crazy but we all agreed that we’d watch out for both him and Alyssa because we care. I think Alyssa is handling it slowly and right, as I know she’s taking steps in talking to people and getting her feelings out there.”

“She talked with me twice about things, actually,” Regan announces, remembering their discussions clearly. He remembered her concerns expressed about Chase.

“But what about Chase, guys? Should we be more concerned than we are? I mean, we’re trying to give him space and let him handle as he may because yes, he is taking steps slowly. But what if this is worse than that?” Regan thought back through the years, remembering his late night confessions with Chase and seeing all the signs of breakdown with him. He found himself comparing them to now.

“I think the emotions are worse, but I think we’re still handling it accordingly. He is slowly taking steps and he’s accepting advice when it is given to him. He’s doing more than he did before. If we keep seeing that, I’m going to lay off and let him do this the way that he wants. However, if we start backtracking with nothing done, you can hit the panic button and I’ll be there with you.”

“I haven’t been around him in other times like you both have,” Tony starts. “So I don’t know what he gets like. However, hearing the words that he wants to give up at times and he’s right at his edge, that’s concerning. If you’re going to get better, you have to believe in yourself without a shadow of doubt and focus on the steps to improving. If you have any doubt, where’s the effort coming from?” Dale and Regan both shook their heads, understanding what Tony was saying.

“I think that was the anxiety talking though,” Regan comments. “That’s why I feel what Dale did in making him go see Eric for a mild-anxiety drug will help keep that at bay as he works through the rest. Once he comes at peace with what happened, he typically stops panicing and worrying. So I think we let him get through it, and then see where he stands with regards to the other.”

“And what If our wait and see approach doesn’t pan out?” Dale didn’t want to think about that. He knew the previous two runaway activities by Chase had gone totally wrong.

“Let’s just not picture that, plea-” Dale pleads.

“It’s a possibility, and something you should consider if you’re going to do what you’re doing,” Tony cuts him off. “I know you hate the thought, but come on Dale…” Dale lets out a sigh as he looks out to the field.

“It’s not going to come to that, Tony,” Regan says as Tony looks over at him. “I’ve helped him through everything in the past. I know how he is. It won’t come to that. We just have to make sure he keeps making progress, slowly, whatever that may be. Keep making sure that he’s talking to people, working through his thoughts. If that happens, we’ll be fine.”

“100%?” Regan shakes his head yes, believing his words fully. He always knew to give Chase more credit than perhaps others would because he had seen what he’d been through.

“Alright, fine. But just promise me that you’ll keep watch and make sure it doesn’t go further.”

“100%,” Regan and Dale say together without a shadow of doubt.

While the boys were talking on the back porch, Alyssa had made her way over and met with Marie in the living room.

She remembered her own words last night of not wanting to make conversation. She remembered her own thoughts of avoiding what was going on. However, in the same thought, she was pushing Chase to talk about what was going on with him. So it was only fair that she actually did something instead of doing nothing.

“So what do you want to talk about?” Marie questions as Alyssa takes a deep breath.

“I’m having my nightmares again,” she confesses as Marie lets out a sigh. She hated the thought of her daughter suffering from anything.

“Well, that’s understandable with what you went through.” Alyssa looks down, remembering everything clearly. She could think through the trail of events without panicing now, thanks to careful conversation with some people.

“I’ve talked through that. I’ve handled that. I can look back at that and not worry a single bit. I talked to Regan, Ella, and a couple others. I’ve come to grips with what happened. I get that I couldn’t had done anything different and it is what it is. There’s no doubt there.” Marie was proud of the progress her daughter had made, knowing how much that meant to her. However, she was still concerned.

“But the nightmares….” Alyssa looks over at her mom, taking a deep breath.

“There’s nights that I close my eyes, and I see an assortment of scary images. Some of them are trying to kill me, or I’m watching someone I love be killed. There’s pain other nights. There’s also repeats of a plane crashing, or images of what happened like a movie.” Marie lets out a sigh as she reaches over, rubbing her daughter’s back.

“The last time you had these, it helped to talk through each nightmare that you were having. Have you done that, yet?” Alyssa shakes her head no. “Do you want to do that this afternoon?” While she loved her mom, she was never good at breaking everything like that down with her.

“I’d prefer to not do that with you, actually. It’s just…..I can’t explain it….I can’t tal-”

“It doesn’t come easily because you’re more comfortable with your father or Chase?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s fine, sweetheart. You have nothing to worry and I’m not offended. I understand being closer to someone else more. So, have you talked to Chase at all?”

“I admitted to them, but didn’t push the topic any further. With everything that’s going on for him right now, I didn’t want to make those thoughts worse.” Marie shakes her head, understanding.

“That’s fine, sweetheart. Just remember that you need to take care of yourself. So before sooner than later, you need to have that necessary discussion. Whether it’s with Chase, or if you feel that’s not ready then with your father or someone else. You need to work through this as it’s not healthy and we know that you need your sleep. You got a busy schedule coming up….” Alyssa knew that was for certain with plans to race for the championship and win it.

“I know. That’s why I’m trying to figure out the best thing to do….” Marie gives her daughter a pat on the back.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do. Keep believing in yourself; everything will be fine.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 54: “That sucks….”

After waiting for what felt like forever, Alyssa’s car is pushed into the garage area with her still sitting in it. She just shakes her head as she climbs out, laying her head on the roof.

“That sucks,” was all she could manage, before she turned around to face the media.

Everybody stood back, allowing her to handle the questions asked of her from the various media members. Once the last question was asked, Regan was the first to walk over, wrapping both arms around her.

“I hated to see that,” he comments. “I told Kevin he should do a better job at calculating gas mileage.” Alyssa chuckles a little as she glances over his shoulder at the crew chief.

“Kevin does an awesome job on the pit box so I couldn’t trade him in,” she replies. “Besides, he had no idea that there’d be an overtime.” Regan looked back at the crew chief, before facing her.

“I’d rather be prepared than left out to dry.” Alyssa lets out a sigh, knowing he’s right as she leans back against the car.

“Oh well. Nothing we can do now, right?” He shakes his head yes in agreement before walking away, allowing the rest of the hugs to continue for her.

Once the hugs were complete, she headed into the hauler with Chase in toe to change, set to return home as soon as possible as she just wanted to leave the day behind. She emerges from the trailer shortly after, giving a hug to Graham and thanking him for coming.

“I’ll be in touch once your season is over,” he tells her with a wink and she could only smile.

“That’s a deal,” she replies as she watches him walk away. She then looks over at Chase. “Should I tell him that Marco has also offered me a ride with his team, too?” Chase could only look over in surprise.

“You’re serious about this open-wheel thing, huh?” She shakes her head yes.

“Is that okay with you?” He shakes his head yes, knowing that she’d be careful and safe – despite concerns from other parties. “I’d like to do the double one year, and I’d like to try Iowa and a street course. I need to start somewhere so might as well start with a test. It’s just a matter of whether I accept Graham’s offer or Marco’s.” Chase thought it over, knowing both sides had positives.

“I say that you should accept whatever you feel most comfortable with. Given how Graham helped you with tips this weekend, that may be a good spot.” She shakes her head in agreement, though wondered how Marco would handle the news once it got back his way.

With everything set in place, the group boarded the plane to go home, each taking their respective seats. It was a quiet initial ride, with each person busy with a book, or a game on their phone – even some sleeping, too.

Alyssa glanced over, seeing Chase had closed his eyes and was getting some much needed rest. She knew that he needed it with stressing himself on some things, and still continuing to push through what happened.

As he sleeps, she slowly stands up and makes her way back a couple rows, sitting down beside Regan – who gives her a cautious glance.

“I thought you’d be curled up with the boyfriend tired from your day,” he comments as she shakes her head no with a sigh.

“Don’t feel like sleeping actually,” she replies. “I just want to say thank you for that discussion before the weekend. It helped, in a small way.” Regan puts his phone down, focusing on her as a small smile forms.

“Glad to help, and you know the line of communication is always open.” She shakes her head yes as she glances forward, wondering whether this was a good idea.

“I was hoping that was the case, actually. I admit that I’ve talked to Elsa, Karsyn, Cindy and Chase about a lot of the details into what happened. But – there’s the thought of when I was by myself. I haven’t really said much.” Regan knew it was odd to be having the conversation while flying in the air with everybody, but he wasn’t about to say no.

“If you want to talk about it now, I am willing to listen…” She then takes a deep breath, knowing the sooner she got it out, it was better.

“If you don’t mind, actually.” He focuses his eyes on her, ready for her to continue. “I was over at JR Motorsports that day. I was just there for a normal, usual scheduled day. Heck, it was supposed to be like any other day. But anyways, I got done and headed outside, ready to head home. I had parked in my usual spot and headed out of the shop.” She then stops, glancing down as she takes a deep breath. “I walked through the parking lot, walking up to the car, easily set to go home….”

“Then what happened?” Regan reaches out, placing his hand on hers as he could see her tensing up.

“Before I knew it, he showed up behind me, arm wrapped around my waist, other hand on my mouth. I tried to bite, kick, scream – but yet I felt light headed immediately…” Regan could already tell what they did.

“Chloroform.  It’s the oldest trick in the book.” She shakes her head, having already assumed that.

“I woke up awhile later – I don’t know how long, or whatever, but it must’ve been awhile later. I was sitting in a room with bright lights. Nothing in the room – bright white light, bare walls, a rough bed. That was all the room contained. I stayed awake for as long as I could from the first time that I woke up, trying not to fall asleep as I didn’t want to chance anything. But I did, eventually.” Regan could only wonder as to the events that she was going to tell.

“Did they do anything?” Alyssa looks over, shaking her head no.

“I woke up in the very same spot, no attention given, just a simple room. I walked around for a bit, but knew I had to conserve energy so I sat back down. As I was in there, I could hear the voices outside – Randy and Kassandra. I heard her wondering whether they were doing the right thing. He then said something about needing a reason to make them worry more before asking for something.” Regan felt his stomach turn at the thought of what they could’ve done.

“Did they do anything to hurt you?” Alyssa could only  shrug her shoulders at the thought as she knew the true pain only came once they had both her and Chase.

“Not really much before Chase got there. I mean, they know how to scare the crap out of someone and torment them, but  there wasn’t anything too physical.” Regan lets out a sigh. He knew that was part of Randy’s appeal, given the previous times he had sat down and talked things through with Chase. It was why it made it so hard for Chase to talk about things, his own thoughts twisting in confusion.

“Go on….” She then takes a deep breath, wondering how to begin.

“He entered the room shortly after, saying hello and telling me there was a plan for me. That was when I found out that he had a gun, as he pulled it out and pointed it at me. He then told me that I had to come with him or else he was going to shoot me. I reluctantly agreed.” Regan felt his stomach twist more in wonder as to what was to come from her, knowing what Randy was capable of.

“Anybody would’ve done the same thing….”  She knew that, but it didn’t make her feel any better.

“He led me down a hall to another room – same bright white light, but yet there was a bigger bed in this room, and this was a torturous spot as it had everything to strap you down to it. He made me lay down on the table, and immediately Kassandra began strapping me down.” She then feels a lump in her throat, quickly swallowing it. “As she was strapping me down, Randy took the gun and tucked it in my pants.”

“Oh gosh….” Regan then wraps an arm around her shoulder, seeing how she was getting choked up by the discussion.

“He removed the gun shortly after, instructing Kassandra to take photos. He then let me drink some water, which I immediately grabbed chance to because I was so thirsty. They then left the room. He returned twice a day to give me water, but that was it – other than that, he left me to my own thoughts till Chase came.” Regan found himself letting out a small sigh, glad that it wasn’t worse for her by herself.

“I imagine you had a lot of thoughts during that time…” She shakes her head yes.

“Regan, it’s not like he did anything during that time. He didn’t hurt me. He just restrained me. But yet, I feel scared and shiver at the thought.” Regan pulls her a little tigher as he thinks it over.

“You’re right that he did nothing physical – but fear is so powerful sometimes. It makes you do and feel things that you never would otherwise. Look at Chase and what he did. Sure, they didn’t hurt you per se – but they made you feel things. They made you imagine things and feel fear. He made you uncomfortable with no lack of control, touching you in that spot, and vulnerable. The feeling of vulnerability and knowing that someone can so easily overpower you is worse than anything.” She shakes her head, understanding as she looks over at him.

“So it’s okay to feel like I am about this?” He shakes his head yes.

“Absolutely. Anybody would in your position. Just ask your parents and Chase. It’s easily reasonable.”  She then glances down, feeling a couple tears, before looking back.

“How do I make it go away?”

“You just got to assure yourself that you’re safe and everything is okay. Keep reminding yourself of the good things, and the fact that you survived. Keep reminding yourself that you can overcome obstacles. Make yourself feel that you can outpower that next evil guy that should step in your path. Also, know that your loved and you have people that would do anything for you, no matter the day or time. It’ll be okay…” A small smile creeps on her face as she lays her head back.

“Thanks Regan.”

“You’re welcome. Now, you better go back and sit up with lover boy or he may get worried if you’re not there when he wakes up.” She then chuckles as she stands up. “You have my number…”

She then makes her way back to her seat, sitting back beside Chase as she lays her head against him.

“Are you okay?” He whispers, as she looks at him surprised. “I know you left. I know you went to see Regan. It’s okay…” He then lifts his arm up, allowing her to get a little more comfier against him.

“I’m fine,” she answers. “I just needed to talk to him for a bit about everything.”

“I know, and I understand. I’ve done it plenty of times. But know that you’re always safe in my arms, okay?” She shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 50: A Trip to SHR

Thursday

Chase waits patiently, glancing around the foyer.

It felt weird to be standing in the gift shop of another race team’s shop. It felt weird being at another team’s shop, period. After spending the past several years between Hendrick, GMS and JRM, walking into a shop that ran a different manufacture just felt strange.

However, he was there for a reason. He knew there was something that he needed to do before he and Alyssa boarded the plane together and headed off to Road America for the race that weekend.

“Mr. Stewart will see you now,” he hears, catching his attention. “Just go through the doo-”

“Is his office in the same spot that it’s always been?” Chase cuts her off, remembering one of the few times he had walked through the halls before SHR switched to Ford. The female shakes her head yes. “I’ve got this. Thank you, though.”

He walks through the store, catching a few curious glances from fans who were there shopping, before going through the set of doors. He walls up the steps and takes the walk down the hallway, glancing around in surprise of some of the changes made to the shop since his last visit there.

He reaches the office door he wants, glancing into the office and knocking on the door.

“Come in,” Tony says as Chase follows instructions, walking up to the desk. “You better not be here to steal secrets, and I’d be damn surprised if you were here asking for a ride. I mean, I know Jeff and Marshall can be crazy, but that’s extreme.” Chase chuckles as some days, he wanted to fling Marshall across the room.

“Negative on both of those actually,” he states. “I’m leaving for Road America in a couple hours, but I wanted to stop by and say thank you.” Tony then looks at him, surprised. “I’m serious, Tony. Our discussion at Bristol may have been by random chance, but it’s shoved me in the right direction quicker than I probably was going myself. It forced to take a step back, put things into perspective and do something. That’s something that I’ve never done, ever.”

“Chase, you don’t need to thank me. I’ve known you my whole life. You’re an amazing ki – well, I can’t say that anymore as you’re actually an amazing man. You’ve grown to be a great guy.  I did that out of courtesy and friendship for you. You were one of those who stood by me through everything that I did, despite some people’s comments, and I simply repaid the favor. I know what it’s like to go through hell and come back stronger on the other side.  I wanted the same for you.” Chase smiles as the hope for the future was nice to hear, especially considering at times it was tough to just take one step each day.

“Well, regardless, thank you. I appreciate it.” Tony couldn’t help but smile as it’d only been a week since their discussion, but he saw the change before him.

“You’re welcome. I wish you and Alyssa the best – just make sure my wedding invitation doesn’t get lost in the mail.” Chase laughs as he could only smile at the thought of marrying her one day down the road.

“I’ll make sure to hand deliver it when the day comes.”

“And I don’t want to hear of any crazy incidents this weekend. Know your limits, don’t test them, and take things at whatever speed is necessary – whether that’s time by yourself, how you spend your days in the garage, or anything.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. He knew there was going to be no self trips through the garage this weekend or any till he got the anxiety and nerves under control. He wasn’t willing to repeat that incident, again.

“Yes sir.”

“By the way, how have you been dealing with that anxiety, if you don’t mind me asking?” Chase didn’t mind the question, knowing that he could trust Tony with everything he said.

“I haven’t really gotten to dealing with that yet. I’ve dealt with fears, remembering what happened and worries.  I haven’t touched the anxiety. I think it’ll start to settle as I deal with everything else so I don’t think it’s something I necessarily need to focus on. However, I know if it doesn’t then I need to express that to someone, and maybe go see Eric again.”  Tony shakes his head, understanding. He could see where Chase was coming from in the steps that he was taking.

“Well, I wish you the best and know that you can always talk to me. You’ll figure it out.” Chase smiles and shakes his head in agreement.

While Chase was at Stewart-Haas Racing, Alyssa was also doing her own work. She made a phone call to Regan while getting ready to go, asking for him to come over. The pair then made their way down the backyard, climbing the steps up into the treehouse.

“When I was younger, I’d come up here when I needed a spot to think or be alone, and it just seemed to always calm me down,” she states as they walk inside. “I’d come up here, just lie on the floor, and put my thoughts in order.” She then goes to her usual spot, sprawling out as Regan sits on the couch.

“It’s a peaceful spot so I can’t blame you,” Regan tells her. “I used to go to this nature conservation area with these winding paths and hike through them when I was younger. Nature just has that calming effect.” She shakes her head in agreement as she looks over at him. “So you called me because you wanted to talk?”

“Yeah, if you don’t mind. I mean, I know that you and Chase talk all the time and we’ve known each other a long time. I’ve heard you’re good for advice, and I just thought this topic was perfect for you.” Regan wasn’t sure about that assumption, but was willing to go with it.

“I’ve always said the door is wide open to talk whenever you both need to.” She was glad for that assumption.

“You know Chase pretty well, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from with what I’m going to talk about. I mean, I hate that this is bugging me because it doesn’t feel right due to how well I know him. But, I can’t stop thinking about it as it’s been on my mind all week.” Regan felt his nerves growing with her words, wondering what could be going on as the possibility was endless.

“Okay….”

“He snapped at me on Monday.” Regan takes a calming deep breath, remembering Chase had mentioned something about that in a brief exchange they had. According to Chase, everything was worked out – but  Alyssa’s demeanor said otherwise.

“What happened to cause it?” Alyssa thinks it over, shaking her head now. It felt ridiculous looking back on it.

“Elsa called me to ask how he was doing, since he tripped over a rock in the Hendrick parking lot. I said fine because he hadn’t said anything otherwise. I then asked him about it, and he brushed it off immediately. I then pushed the issue, knowing there was something on his mind and he kept denying it. I kept pushing, though, and he then said he was going to go for a walk.  I then pushed again, and he snapped – just telling me to leave him alone.” Regan shakes his head, understanding. He got where Chase was coming from in snapping, and knew that was typical response for him when pressured from experience.  However, he also got how that’d make Alyssa feel.

“Have you guys talked about it since?” She shakes her head yes, remembering the conversation afterwards.

“I immediately began crying, feeling hurt. He then reached out to me, immediately apologizing.  He then explained that he didn’t mean to hurt me, and how he doesn’t like to talk about what happened and avoid it. Instead, as you probably know, he bottles it up and tries to avoid the topic – as he was with me. He brought up how he made himself so sick one time, and then when he ran away. I then  instantly felt fear, demanding he never run away, which he said he never could do that to me.” She then stops, glancing away, as she didn’t want to think about that being a possibility.

“I know how much he loves you, Alyssa. He cares about you so deeply.  Hence why he apologized immediately and why he immediately explained why – wanting you to feel better. You don’t need to worry about him running away or anything – trust me. And as far as what happened, I know he didn’t mean it.” She looks up at Regan, shaking her head in agreement.

“I know he didn’t mean it, and I don’t hold it against him, Regan. I could never do that, really. I mean, we talked about it more in developing the right ways moving forward. He expressed the want to change how he handles things, and I apologized for pushing him knowing that I was wrong. We worked it out, perfectly.” Regan then sat there confused as it seemed everything was fine – which he was glad to see. However, it didn’t explain why he was sitting in the treehouse.

“It’s great that you worked it out and got through that. I applaud you both. But if everything is okay, why did you call me?” Alyssa knew the exact reason as she sits up, pulling her legs close to her body.

“I know he’s hurting. I know what he’s like when he’s hurting. I know this is difficult.  Regan, I want to help him. I don’t want to see him suffer through this pain and everything. You’ve always been there, great for advice and seemed to help him move forward on a variety of topics. How do I help him?” Regan knew the answer without even thinking.

“Be there for him. When he feels the need to cry, be there to hold him. When he feels the need to lash out or talk about things, listen to him. When he wants some space, let him have it but assure him that you support him and love him. All you can do is be supportive. When the time is right, he’ll come around and work his way through this. But you can’t force or push him –he needs to do that on his time. Till then, you need to be supportive.” Alyssa wanted to scream as it seemed like nothing. She could only wish there was a magic button to hit and make everything better.

“And what about when he is talking, though? What about the advice or response to tell him?” Regan knew that at times it could be difficult to come up with a response, having been there before.  However, it was another easy piece of advice.

“Speak from the heart. Tell him the truth and tell him what your heart tells you. It may scare you at times or not feel right, but it is right. I’ve always just been honest with my responses and it has worked. That’s all that you can do. Tell him advice based on your own experience, and be honest. If you really get stumped, then you can then suggest speaking to someone who may be better to talk to. I’ve done that a couple times.” She shakes her head, understanding.

“Thank you.” He then smiles as he pats her shoulder.

“But in the same way, remember to take care of yourself. You can’t just focus on making his world perfect. We all know that you went through a lot as well, and you need to work through that too. Make sure you take time for yourself, and work on things, okay?” She shakes her head yes.

“And you’ll always be here to listen if I need you?”

“Absolutely.” She then stands up and walks over, giving him a hug.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 36: Night Wanderer Con’t

Chase and Regan walk back to the motorcoach, stopping as they reach there.

“Thank you,” Chase says and Regan simply shakes his head in response.

“You know what I told you, right?”  Regan questions and Chase shakes his head yes.

“So Chase, are you going to explain this little adventure?”  Chase then faces forward, surprised to see Cindy sitting there right before him. Even though he was a grown up now, he still felt a lump form in his throat. “I got a phone call from Alyssa that she awoke in the middle of the night, alone, nowhere as to your whereabouts, wondering if you came to see me. I told her that wasn’t the case. Bill is in there right now, but what about you?”

“I should’ve left her a note – I apologize,” Chase replies, feeling bad as despite his own feelings, he knew there was also a lot going through Alyssa’s mind. “I couldn’t get to sleep and decided to go for a walk to clea-”

“What did we say about being alo-”

“Mrs. Elliott, I already gave him the lecture,” Regan cuts her off, knowing where this was going. He knew they didn’t need to go this far right now. “He gets our concerns and worries, and has made certain that he won’t wander off again. For the time being, he wasn’t by himself as I joined him and we had a talk. I should’ve thought of Alyssa, but I was focused on his wellbeing.” Cindy simply shook her head, accepting Regan’s explanation. She always liked the relationship that Chase had with him.

“Is everything okay now?” Cindy questions and Chase just lets out a sigh.

“If I’m being truthful, it’s far from being okay,” he starts. “I still got a lot to work through and a lot to figure out. But Regan helped me brush the surface, get some perspective, and work towards taking the next step. I’ll be fine for tonight.”

“You know that I love you, care about you, and am here right?” Chase shakes his head yes as he reaches out, giving his mom a hug.

“I know I’m still your little boy, even all grown up. I’ll be fine, Mom.” He then heads inside, set to see Alyssa. Regan takes a deep breath, turning on his heels and set to walk away.

“Regan?”  He freezes immediately, turning around to face Cindy. “What’s your take?” Regan wanted to be fully open with her, but remembered the promise he kept to Chase always.

“The discussions that Chase and I have are between us only,” he starts. “That was our agreement always. I was only supposed to say something if I felt there was an extreme need. By what I heard tonight, it’s what he said.” Cindy simply shakes her head accepting, but was frustrated with the lack of details.

“Can’t you tell me anything?” She questions as Regan takes a deep breath. He debated what to say from the conversation.

“He admitted that he’s got quite a bit to work on and the rough details. He admitted that he isn’t sure where to start, who to talk to – but knows that he has options. It’s just figuring out the best first step to take. He admitted that amongst that knowledge, there are times that he feels lost in trying to work it out. That’s when I reminded him that he has me, others, and never hesitate to get in touch to talk. We then finished it off with a small discussion about Alyssa and them moving forward, together. Happy?” Cindy shakes her head yes, though couldn’t help but let out a sigh. There were certainly concerns based on those comments from Regan.

“Regan, is it ever going to be normal again?”  Regan didn’t know the answer, for sure. The truth was that things like this changed you. However, he had a strong belief.

“He’s gotten through it before, he can do it again. Despite his own thoughts, he’s strong deep down and can overcome anything. Cindy, I know you worry and I know it breaks your heart, but I can tell you that he’s amazing and it’ll be fine. Be patient.” She then smiles as she walks over and gives Regan an unexpected hug.

“Thank you.” He simply accepts the hug with a smile.

“You’re welcome. Now, can I head back to bed?” She shakes her head yes as he heads off. She then waits for Bill to come out before heading off herself.

Inside, Chase apologized to Alyssa for running off without leaving a note or anything, before explaining brief details as to why he went for a walk and the discussion with Regan.

“You know that you can always talk to me, right?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “I mean it – no matter what it is, I’m here for you, just as you say you’re here for me. We’re in this together, forever. I love you.” She then kisses his lips lightly.

“I love you, too, and I’m sorry,” he replies before lying back down in the bed with her. He lets her cuddle right back up against him as he wraps an arm around her. “Back to needing cuddles again?”

“I don’t sleep as well unless I’m in your arms. I start thinking about other things…” He then runs a hand through her hair.

“We’ll work it out.  We’ll figure out what’s bugging you the most now to cause this, and work it out. For now, though, I don’t mind being able to hold you close to me.” She smiles as she lets herself get comfy before closing her eyes. “I love you, and I’d do anything for you.”

“I know. I love you, too.” Chase then lets out a sigh, before closing his eyes.

He knew that the conversation with Regan that night had been worth it.

It was just to be able to start somewhere for a change, rather than bottle up and fight against it. He knew he had friends, but it was nice to hear the words spoken out loud to him. He knew he’d repeat those words anytime he felt like he was lost without any hope of figuring this mess out.

Now, it was about figuring out the rest of the steps. What was bugging him? What was the most important? Who was the right person to discuss this? How long did he feel that it’d take?

Though he knew he could worry about that in the days to come. For now, that night, his eyes were closed and set to sleep, dreaming of a fairy tale future with his princess.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 35: Night Wanderer

After the conversation with the mixture of friends, Chase couldn’t help but admit that there was a lot on his mind.

The question about his return to racing stirred up some thoughts, as he didn’t even know how to answer himself. It was why he had given them the answer he did. Of course, it had caused concern on their faces with even Ryan reminding that he’d be there if need be. Chase knew his friends would be there, they were always there, but it was a matter of figuring out how to go about this.

Letting out a sigh, he kicks up a small stone on the ground as he walks through the motorcoach lot by himself. It was middle of the night, Alyssa was fast asleep inside, but he couldn’t find a way to close his eyes. It was why he was walking through the motorcoach lot by himself, thinking things over at four in the morning.

“What are you doing out here by yourself?” Chase hears and glances over his shoulders, seeing Regan Smith rushing out of his motorcoach and coming over. “I thought it was discussed that someone should be with you 24/7 till you get things sorted out.” Chase lets out a sigh. There was no hope of getting alone time with everybody’s guard up after the Tony incident.

“I couldn’t sleep and I decided to go for a walk to clear my head,” he starts. “Is that a crime?” Regan was set to yell back in response, frustrated for the reasons stated. However, he knew that would get him nowhere with Chase.

“I supposed not as sometimes a walk in the night air can do some wonders.” Chase then kept walking, eyes focused on the ground with each step, as Regan quietly followed. He wondered whether they still had the chemistry to easily talk about things, still. “What’s on your mind, Chase?”

“I’d rather not talk about it right now, Regan. Like I said, I’m taking a walk by myself to clear my head.” It was that moment that Regan worried there was no chance of having the full discussions as they used to. However, he also knew how Chase hated to talk about things.

“Hey, that’s fine. You can talk about it when you feel like it. I just offered incase you wanted to sound it out – like we used to. You know, those times did help.” Chase glances over as he knew that Regan was right, no matter how much he wanted to avoid this discussion. Maybe it’d good to start somewhere, more than he had with Tony.

“Elladee asked me earlier tonight when I was coming back to racing. I told her that I wasn’t sure as I’d be healed physically soon, but I had a lot of other things to take care of.” Regan shook his head, understanding. He was glad to see Chase taking the steps this time around, versus repeating the past where he didn’t handle it and found himself sick due to lack of sleep, or running off to some strange place. Shaking his head, he didn’t want to think about that experience again. However, the thought was fresh in his mind no matter how much he looked at Alyssa, too.

“Hey, the first step is to admit that there’s a problem so you’re partway there already. That’s better than other times with you , I know. Now it’s figuring out the best way to deal with it. What are you thinking?” Chase had no idea how to answer the question as he didn’t have a plan. Perhaps he was still trying to avoid what he needed to do.

“I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I’m wandering around tonight – hopeful of finding a way to put things together.” Regan could understand that, however he also knew the answer was right in front of Chase. He just wished he’d step up and take that first step.

“So we know that you’re having these odd flashbacks and not remembering experiences. Those are very serious, and obviously mean that there’s some traumatic going on. Do you see have Eric’s number?” Chase knew that Regan was referencing the physiatrist that he had spent months with previously, going through what happened. However, he didn’t know if he could truly divulge everything to Eric this time around.

“Yeah, somewhere. I don’t know if that’s the way to go about it. I know he can help with strategies to avoid that helping, and Tony even suggested that there’d be a mild-anxiety drug I could take till I got everything under control. It’s just the whole talking it through deal. This isn’t like before, Regan.” Regan shook his head, understanding. It was obvious that he was carrying the weight of what happened to Alyssa on his shoulders, even with Alyssa having a heart-to-heart earlier with him.

“Well, there’s other people that you could talk to. You know that you can turn to me as we made some substantial ground other times together. Dale has always been able to understand exactly where you’re coming from. Darrell and Ryan have been there for you, too, and you’re not too old for your parents. There’s also Alyssa as I know she’s going through some of her own stuff, but it may be worth it if you both talk through things together. Chase, you have options. It’s just you figuring out what will work best.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew that Regan right about that. However, it still didn’t make this any easier. What direction was he supposed to go?

“It’s not just what happened, though. I find myself waking up freezing cold at night despite under the blankets because I am thinking about falling in the ice hole. I was rubbing my leg the other day, thinking that there was a sensation of pain there. The simplest person walking up behind me and touching my shoulder makes me recall Mariela trying to strangle me.” Chase then stops, takes a couple deep breaths, before looking up at Regan. “There’s also the factor that no matter what Alyssa says my brain keeps telling me, and that’s the fact that I let this happen. I know what you’ll say and I get the truth; but how do I convince myself of that otherwise? I feel like every bit of progress that I made is ripped away right now. I feel lost at times. I don’t know what to do.”

“Chase, you never have to feel that you’re lost or alone.” Regan walks over and pulls him into a hug, rubbing his back. “I mean it. You’ve never lost or alone – you have all of us in your corner and we’ll do whatever the hell it takes for you. I’d do anything for you.” He then pulls back, keeping his eyes locked on Chase’s. “Never feel like you can’t do this because you can do this, somehow. And if you ever feel that way, you damn call me and I’ll be there immediately to be with you.”

“I know, and I thank you for that friendship. It’s just….” Chase then glances away, trying to keep the tears at bay. “I don’t know how to say this, but it hurts. It hurts more than anything physically or anything I’ve been through. I hate this feeling.”

“I understand, and that’s why you need to figure what’s going to work for you and start taking those steps forward. You can do this – one step at a time. Pick a night, pick a friend, and start talking. That’s what it’s going to take. Explain everything that fully happened with Randy. Go through what bugs you from the past.  Do what you need to.” Chase shook his head, knowing Regan was right. But where was he supposed to begin?

“I’ve made my mind up that I’m not coming back racing till it’s fully settled this time. I know it’s insane, but I just feel comfortable doing that because I don’t want to repeat the past. I know others say that you could do it in stages, but I just wouldn’t feel comfo-”

“It’s fine, Chase. Everybody that matters will understand. Jeff is in your corner fully so you know that he won’t screw you outta Hendrick because of this. He’ll make something work till you’re ready and then your ride will be. Your friends will be understanding, having seen what you went through before. The best thing you can do for yourself is to do what’s comfortable and feels right for you, what works in getting better. If this is what works for you, then go with it.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It was comforting to hear those words in his decision as he had to admit he was worried before.

“Regan, can I ask you something?” Regan shakes his head, knowing the door was wide open between them. “I know I don’t have to worry about this for a good bit as it probably won’t come up for some time till Alyssa is ready – maybe in a couple years, maybe sooner. I’m nervous about the first time.”

“Is this in relation to Demi, again?” Chase wished it was that simple but he shook his head no. “Is it your own nerves? I mean, if say they’re there and she says that she’s ready, then I’d just suggest explaining to her that you’re nervous and worried and why you are. She’s an understanding girl, so I’m sure she’d help you out with that or give you the time you need.” Chase walks a couple steps, before sitting down on one of the random picnic benches, glancing at Regan.

“What if I told you that it had to do with Kassandra?” Regan then looks at him confused. He had heard a little bit about Randy’s helper, but not a lot of details to date. Perhaps it was ‘cause Chase and Alyssa hadn’t discussed the happenings too much, yet.

“Chase, what are you getting at?” Chase then glances back towards the ground as Regan walks over, sitting beside him. “Did she rape you?” Chase glances away, before looking back over at Regan.

“I thought she was going to. She made every intention to make me believe that was coming.” Regan then watches his friend intrigued as Chase ponders how to go about this. The only person he had discussed this was with Alyssa. “Randy was putting Alyssa through a lot of pain, so I said that I’d do anything to stop it. He then asked me if I was certain on that and I said yes. He then sent her in, and she placed her hand on my leg, running it up lightly, questioning once again if I was certain. I told him as long as he left Alyssa alone, I didn’t care. I just wanted her to be okay…”

“You were doing what you felt was right as the big protective boyfriend. Nobody can blame you in that situation for subjecting yourself to the possibility of that, either. I mean, I’d do anything if I was in your situation, too. That’s what we do for those that we love, right? It’s how Mariela was able to manipulate Dale and Marie that time, too. But you said she didn’t rape you, so what happened?” Chase then takes a deep breath, feeling his mind argue back and forth in saying something.

“She didn’t rape me, but she did touch me. She reached her hands into my pants, and squeezed me as hard as she could. Worst pain, ever….or I thought. The lights got turned out, followed by the light on the camera. He had cameras so I could see Alyssa and she could see me, and we could hear each other in the rooms that we were in. It was his sick way of us being able to know what was going on. But that moment, he turned the light out.” He then closes his eyes, remembering the discussion with Alyssa at the hospital when he woke up.

“Alyssa thought that it happened, right?” Chase shakes his head yes, as he remembered her words.

“She said it was her fault and she felt bad that she put in that position, and rambled on till I told her otherwise. We made a commitment then that we’d get through this. I don’t know abou-”

“What did I tell you about saying that?” Chase then freezes and looks over at Regan, taking a deep breath. “I know it’s hard, but you have to stay confident in yourself. So are you worried due to her reaction and thoughts?”

“That’s part of it. I’m also scared that I’m going to quiver from his touch due to fear, as a result of Kassandra grabbing me and sticking the needle there.”  Regan couldn’t help but make a smile at that thought as he glanced away for a second. “Yeah, that hurt worse than anything else. I screamed probably the most that I have ever in my life. I think that’s where I got the rashes on my ankles and wrists because I was trying to break out the bounds, despite her tightening them so I was held in tighter.”

“Alyssa knows what happened though, right?” Chase shakes his head yes, remembering when he told her. “Well that’s the first step. So therefore if say that happens, she will understand why and you guys can talk about it. You guys can work through it, just like everything else that you’ve already worked your way through.”

“I guess.” He then kicks his feet back a little. “Thanks for the advice, and hearing me out – again. That was just one thing that was awkward for anybody to hear.” Regan then wraps an arm around him.

“I told you I’m here for you, always. Just give me a shout when you need to talk to someone. I’ll hear you out again. Even if it’s just a couple hours each week, it’d be progress. You’ll work your way through this.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 29: The Meeting

Tony Stewart walks outside, turning the corner and making the quick work down to the next hauler, meeting face-to-face with Kevin Harvick. He was surprised to still see him racing, but had to chuckle as it reminded him a lot of himself. For some, there was no way to get the racing out of them.

“You  know, it’s a lot harder than you may think to wrangle up that group and get them to stay in a room calm without many details,”  Kevin starts as Tony crosses his arms. “Between the questions to the worry to the demanding of answers, to what the heck is going on – I give up with them. Why did you put me in charge?”

“Because I knew you could handle it as best as anybody here, and thank you,” Tony tells him. “Besides, I couldn’t say much or else they’d be stomping down the doors till they found him.” Kevin then looks at Tony curiously, stopping Tony as he goes to walk inside.

“Is he alright?” Tony stops, looking at Kevin with a sincere smile.

“He’s good right now, let me put it that way. It’s just going to take time working through everything, and I want to make sure that these people know what’s going on.” Kevin shakes his head yes as he understands, allowing Tony to enter.

Tony walks through the trailer, up the small set of stairs and opening the door. He glances around the room, seeing the group – including a face he didn’t text message – before stepping inside and closing the door.

“What the hell is going on, Tony?” Alyssa demands first, catching Tony’s attention.

“Where’s my son?” Cindy asks as she crosses her arms, giving Tony the equivalent to a stare down.

“Why haven’t you told us much of anything?” Dale questions as Tony sits back in the one open seat, spinning around the chair before looking at the group.

“Any other questions that you have?” He asks as he glances around. “No? Okay, then maybe I’ll start talking. For the record, Alyssa, I am going to explain what’s going on. Cindy, your son is currently having a well-needed in one of the other haulers in the lounge, at my request. He kind of appeared to look to need it. And Dale, that’s because I wanted to do it this way rather than in pieces over text message and make you go looking for him. Happy? Okay! Now that I’ve answered those, I will say what I called you here for.” He then looks over at Regan. “But wait, why are you here?”

“Dale told me to come,” Regan states with a glance towards Dale.

“When Chase is going through something and needs someone to talk to, most of the time he goes Regan,” Dale starts. “I figured it’d be fitting that he heard this.” Tony shakes his head, completely understanding. He figured the kid had a support system and tried to message those he knew were probably part of it, but figured he’d miss one or two. He was glad that Dale picked up on the fact to call Regan.

“Quite fitting indeed,” Tony comments as he takes a deep breath. Where was he supposed to begin? “So I was making my way back to the hauler after having met with some of the team in the garage to discuss things and I heard someone let out a sound, so I looked with curiosity – and it was Chase. He had tripped over a rock, causing him to let out a curse of word of his choi-”

“Was it fuck or shit?” Ryan questions, catching Tony’s attention. “That boy doesn’t say a lot of bad words. Cindy and Bill raised him really well.” Tony had expected a remark of question in that regard from Darrell, not Ryan.

“It was fuck, but who cares on that small detail, okay? Anyways, I called out his name, simply looking to ask if he was okay. I got an odd reaction, as he jumped back surprised, perhaps even worried. Anyways, I stood my ground and just simply said for him to look at me and got his attention. Seeing how startled he was –not by just me, but perhaps everything going on, I figured it’d be best to give him space to relax so I brought him in the hauler and got him a bottle of water, wanting to calm him down.”

“Anxiety, fear, worry – it’s common with him after something,” Regan starts, remembering some of their conversations. “There was one night he made me stay there over night to be with him because he was worried, I guess you could even say scared. We dealt with a good bit of that when Randy originally attacked him. You could also say that Alyssa being missing resparked that as I noticed it in a couple conversations we had before he got kidnapped. Tony, if that’s why you called us all figuring we didn’t kno-”

“I figured that you guys knew something, but you probably don’t know everything that I’m going to say,” Tony starts. “That’s why I called you guys – because of the unknown facts that I know. However, it’s great to see that you’ve recognized what’s going on and have spoken with him. I just hope that continues, and big time.” The comment throws a curveball through the room, as minds began to wander as to everything that Chase either said or did to spark this conversation out of Tony.1

“Why do you say that?” Jeff Gordon asks curiously from his perspective. Tony then takes a deep breath, figuring it was worth continuing with what else he sad to say.

“As he was drinking the bottle of water, you could tell that he was in pain – his stomach –just by his motions and expressions. I offered to go get someone, or do something, and he told me that he left his pain pills in the 24 hauler when he was there earlier today seeing the gu-”

“That’s why he probably didn’t come up for practice, because he went to get the pills and ran into you?” Marie questions and Tony shakes his head yes. “Yeah, he told Kevin (Meendering) that he had to do something and then was coming back. It caught Dale and Kevin off-guard when he didn’t, but we figured maybe he got tied up talking to someone.” Tony could understand that explanation. However, he knew that wasn’t a fitting reaction based on what he had seen out of Chase. It was why he knew this conversation was necessary.

“Totally easy assumption to make in figuring nothing is wrong,” Tony starts. “But to be honest, I think for the next bit everybody should be a bit more careful, know where he is and who he with and everything. Why? Trust me, you’ll understand if you let me finish saying what happened.”

“And you said that he was fine now, so we don’t have to worry at this very moment, right?” Bill questions and Tony shakes his head yes.

“He’s calmed right down, enough to grab some sleep in the trailer. I have a crew member there and as soon as he wakes up, the crew member will text me so I can go back and make sure he’s fine. Trust me, I took care of all angles.” Bill shakes his head in approval, glad that it was Tony who had found Chase and gone through the motions. He wasn’t sure if the same type of reaction would’ve happened with just any fellow driver or owner in the garage. “Anyways, I offered to go get them but he didn’t want to be left alone – sort of what you were talking about, Regan. So I sent a crew member, easily got them, and he was able to take one, which started working instantly. I waited quietly, just seeing where his reaction would go and what to do next as I wasn’t sure how to handle this. He then told me that he thought he could simply go get the pills, take one, return back to the trailer to watch Alyssa with ease. However, he then goes ‘then it happened, again.’” The group looks at each other, slight confusion entering the spectrum as Regan glances at Dale, remembering the discussion they had shortly after Chase had gone missing with the airplane.

“Can I guess?” Regan asks, catching Tony by surprise. “I’m guessing that he had a total panic alarm set off in his mind, blanking out logical thinking, just going through the wheel of motions till everything caught up together without clearly knowing what he was doing.” Tony was surprised that he heard the right guess made, as it made him question even more why Chase was left alone.

“Yeah, that’s what happened,” Tony answers as Regan lets out a sigh. Perhaps he should’ve moved forward on his original thoughts then. “If you guys knew of this happening, why did you leave him alon-”

“We didn’t know of it being an actual occurrence; it was a random mind guess after he went missing looking for Alyssa. It was a theory that I had put together, but quickly dismissed due to nothing said by him in the days that followed.” Tony felt anger boiling as he just thought nobody had any idea. However, how could you avoid thought when you had an idea?

“Well, since you know of it, I guess why I’ve called you all here. Listen, the kid is got a TON going on emotionally, on a variety of scales. I just wanted to warn you based on what I saw so that way those closest to him to make sure to be there with him, and perhaps – as I said earlier – make sure someone was with him at all times – just so that way they can handle when these happen, till he figures it out.”

“Maybe I did come back racing too soon….” Alyssa thinks out loud, as she thought back to Chase’s thoughts on her return over the past several days. She had been selfish, stuck on her own goals of racing and dealing with her feelings. However, was part of the apprehension actually due to his feelings and needing her to deal with them?

“Alyssa, you can go back racing and we can still handle this,” Darrell starts. “We’ve got a bunch of us here that are tied up and available at different times so we can help when we’ve got time. This doesn’t fall on your shoulders and don’t think your decision has bought this on more.” Tony was glad to hear Darrell giving that piece of advice to Alyssa, especially with what he had to come. He had debated not saying what was said between him and Chase about Alyssa, but knew it was worth her knowing so everybody knew just where Chase was mentally.

“Chase was only giving you those warnings based on his own experience of coming back early, not because of this,” Dale adds. “However, if you felt that you handled it enough to come back racing, and handle the rest while racing, then don’t hold a single thought back on coming back.” Alyssa lets out a sigh as that was a thought she had continued to toss back and forth over the past couple of weeks, as well as during the day with what was said earlier at the press conference.

“Beyond that comment, I think you have word from the rest of us that we’ll be there and help him, and I appreciate you letting us know,” Ryan states, figuring they were near the conclusion of Tony’s discussion period. Besides, there was another XFINITY practice coming up that some of them had to get to.

“I know that I have your word because I know that you guys love him and will do what it takes,” Tony states cleanly, and that wasn’t a question in his mind. “I just have one other thing I think you guys should know, and I hope it doesn’t cause another issue.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the discussion. “Chase blames himself for what happened. He says because of letting his fear control him, he wasn’t there for Alyssa. He wasn’t able to save her, prevent it from happening, or be there for her today. it’s a ton of guilt that just seemed to pour out of him unexpectedly. I spent a good bit convincing him otherwise in telling him that he was an amazing guy, great for Alyssa, and the fact his attempt to come out this weekend despite everything going on was beyond brave. I told him that he did a great job at the press conference, that he’s proven the odds surrounding the relationship, and mistakes are bound to happe-”

“He’s a ultra perfectionist,” Bill cuts off Tony, catching his attention. “He doesn’t believe in mistakes. To him, mistakes are the cause of things that he could’ve changed or done better to change what happened. He’s always been that way. It’s why he kept playing the previous attacks in his mind over and over, trying to see what he could’ve done differently. It’s why this is eating at him, again, and perhaps more because of how much he loves and cares about her.” Tony shakes his head, having picked up on his own theory around that.

“I also told him that he could bounce back from this, in which he didn’t believe me at first. However, I reminded him how he was able to before, followed by everybody who is here to support him, including Alyssa. I reminded him of the strength that we know he has, and there’s always a way to move forward. I told him it’d be okay, and to be honest, I think I got somewhere as we had a good session of tears before I let him go to sleep for awhile.” Tony then takes a deep breath. “I’ve been in those darkest moments and I know it takes a lot of work. However, with this group, I know you guys will help him.”

“It’s going to work out,” Ryan comments. “It’ll take time, it’ll take each of being patient with him and helping – but it’ll work out. I hate to go through this again with him, but I’d do a 100 times over because of how much I like my best friend.”

“I have no doubt,” Tony states as he reaches for his phone, seeing a text message. “That’s Chase…” The group goes to move, but Alyssa holds her arms out as she stands up.

“I want to go see him before any of you, please,” Alyssa starts. “He blames himself for what happened to me. As Tony said, the first round of feelings that poured out was all about me. Let me go see him. Let me have a heart-to-heart with him, show him I love him, show him it’ll be okay. Maybe with that out of the way, we can work through the rest.”

She then makes her way towards the door, glancing at Tony for directions as to where to go. She knew that she had practice coming up, but she in no way could think about the car or the race later on that night. There was only one thought on her mind, just as he had been in the hospital.

She had to make sure he was okay before she could take her own next step forward that weekend.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 17: Hospital Visit

Once the initial hugs were out of the way and the pair were back being comfy in their cuddle together, the group of visitors figured out their spots around the room, whether in a chair or sitting on what was supposed to be Alyssa’s bed, or a couple even choosing to stand.

“The obvious question – how are you both feeling?” Bill broke the silence in the room as the pair glanced over.

“Pretty sore,” Chase answered honestly. His stomach constantly ached – thankfully, just dully due to the pain meds being given, but enough that it caught his attention and made him want to curl up.  He knew he couldn’t do that, though, needing to lie on his back, straight due to the stitches. “It just constantly aches, with a nauseous feeling here and there. Everywhere else is just a little sore, though. It’s not the worse.”

“Sometimes I want to scream, sometimes I want to cry, sometimes I just wish I could rip away my entire side,” Alyssa explains, in reference to the burns up her left side. “They’re just evil. The pain killers are taking the edge off, but they still hurt a good bit.”

“Don’t need to tell me as I know that experience,” Dale offers, reflecting back to Sonoma awhile ago.

“You’ll get to see how we all felt when we were changing your bandages,” Kelley quips, remembering how disgusting the burns looked in the first couple of weeks afterwards.

“I’m not pushing against you too much by placing my hand here, am I?”  Chase questions, having wrapped his right arm her. She immediately shakes her head no, knowing he was careful of where to rest it.

“I’m not pushing against you either, right?” Alyssa asks and Chase shakes his head no. Alyssa had been careful when climbing into the bed not to push too much against his side, knowing the amount of pain he was in.

“Any tingling feeling at all in your arm?” Marie asks, not believing the doctor’s words about permanent damage.

“Not a single thing. I smacked it earlier and I pinched it earlier, watched the skin turn red, but felt not a single thing. I can’t even feel against Chase’s body right now. It just feels like this odd dead weight attached my elbow.”

“Well, if someone pisses you off, you can just swing it at them like a bat and not feel a thing,” Darrell comments, causing a small laugh and smile to follow from Alyssa. “Remind people not to wreck Chase because he’s got his own special security guard.”

“Hey now, it’s going to be awhile before I’m driving again,” Chase comments, remembering what the doctor told him about the healing process. “4-6 weeks, at least.” Ryan then thought it over, doing the math his head as he smiled.

“Even if it takes six weeks, you’re healed for the Chase,” he says as Chase just rolls his eyes. He knew other years, he would’ve been doing the math himself. However, that was not him today. Instead, he was focused on getting himself better, as well as Alyssa. He also knew the racing discussion wasn’t perhaps the best topic for Alyssa right now.

“You know, it’s not the end of the world – as I told you earlier. There are plenty of things that I know you’re good at, and I’m sure you’d make a great crew chief or a great helper in running the race team with your dad.”

“Can I hire you as my driver coach?” Ryan questions, as Alyssa looks over. The comment from Chase about her possible future had gone completely over her head, for now. That was a thought for when she was feeling better.

“Are you admitting that I am a better driver than you?” She asks as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.

“Nah, I know I’m better – but I need to figure out some of that guy’s secrets.”

“She’s not giving those up no matter what,” Chase states as he gives her another kiss. “I have the golden key to keep those locked up. Good try, through.”

“I know you don’t want to talk about it, Alyssa, but you can tell us about your thoughts on the whole racing thing,” Dale starts as he focuses on his daughter. That was his little girl and it seemed in more ways than one she was exactly like her daddy. She picked up on his love for racing, and ways of handling certain situations. That’s why he knew that the racing dream being ripped away from her would affect her, from losing her passion to anger over not being able to decide the end, to the anxiety and nerves. It hadn’t happened to him, but he knew the feelings associated when it almost happened following a concussion and doctor discussion. “I know the feelings that you must be going through. If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to open up to someone.”

“Actually, that goes for both of you on everything that happened,” Regan adds, his eyes locked on Chase. He knew what his friend was like when it came to events happening.

“I don’t really have anything thoughts or anything to say on that right now,” Alyssa starts carefully. “I haven’t thought about it much. My priority right now is getting better, and making sure Chase gets better. I’ll worry about that down the road, and I’ll remember what you said.”

“By the way, Chase – the cops said the $2 million has been returned to your account upon Kassandra’s arrest and Randy’s death.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It didn’t matter to him, though, as the money wasn’t the huge importance. The bigger thing was they were both going to be okay, and Randy was gone.

“What were you bloody well thinking when you did that?” Cindy spits out, shocking half of the room in her reaction. However, it was something that she had been holding back since learning about it.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Chase starts quietly. “I let my fear, being worried, scared, need for Alyssa to be okay force me to go through a series of events that I wasn’t thinking clearly. Somehow I rationalized with myself that I could save her by easily dropping the money off with no problem. I was going to make everything alright, get rid of those feelings that I was having just in a flicker of two fingers.  Obviously, if I was thinking, I would’ve said something to the police and we could’ve come up with a better strategy.”

“Did you have any thought to speak to someone?” Regan wonders and Chase shakes his head no.

“As soon as I got that text message, I was on my way to the airport, set to find her.” Chase takes a deep breath, calming himself down. He could feel some of that anxiety and fear still sitting there, and knew it’d be a battle to get it to go away again. “Knowing that she was missing, it sent me through a warp speed reminder of everything that happened through the years, causing my mind to go into overdrive. Stuck in my own world, I was thinking about anything else – except getting her, ending those feelings. There was no rational thought to speak to someone, or do the right thing. To be honest, it scared me once I realized what I had done.”

“The main thing is that you’re going to be okay over time,” Bill states as he gives his son a pat on the shoulder, eyes locked on Regan.  He knew there was a want to push the discussion and help Chase through it all in one sweep. However, it was obvious to Bill that this went deep and another strategy was going to be needed. It was why he wanted to play assurance, and then work on the rest once Chase was feeling better physically.

“We all know that feeling Chase,” Dale adds as he leans back against the wall with a sigh. He felt the same thoughts- panic, anxiety, fear. It was why he forced so much of his energy through the past three days on taking care of everybody else, not wanting to focus on his own emotions and cause them to eat at him.  “You had your way of handling it, and I had mine. Mine wasn’t much healthy as I let it eat at me insider while forcing myself to focus on other people’s needs.”

“Well everybody can relax now, because we’re going to heal from this – and be okay,” Alyssa interrupts the discussion. “We’re going to heal physically, and we’re going to get through all the fears and anxiety that comes with it. We’re even going to deal with my racing issue as it’s been worded.”

Marie watched the group interact, keeping quiet in her corner of the room where she had chosen to sit.  It pained her to hear of the emotions from Dale, Chase, and Alyssa. It pained her to hear about the amount of pain that Alyssa and Chase were in. it pained her to hear that Alyssa’s racing dreams were all cut short.

She blamed herself for everything, too. They had only met Randy because he was working with Mariela when she was trying to kill Marie as a result of the sisterhood going bad following a disagreement with their dad. It also didn’t help that she killed her own father, either.

She knew it was wrong to do that – it wasn’t her fault that Mariela and Randy did what they did, but she couldn’t help but blame herself in times like this. She had brought them in their lives by marrying Dale.  Without her influence, Dale and Chase wouldn’t have been through everything they experienced. Of course, she wouldn’t have a daughter, either, but those down times – she wished someone else was Alyssa’s mother to avoid this.

Marie’s silence was more telling than anything as Dale and Kelley picked up on it immediately, knowing what she was telling herself. Dale knew the feeling, having done the same after one of Chase’s attacks.

“What have we said about blaming yourself, Marie?” Kelley questions, catching the rest of the room’s attention.

“I know it’s not my fault – my brain knows that,” Marie answers as she glances over at Kelley. “It’s just telling my heart that in this moment. I’m working on it, trust me. I’ll be fine.”

“Don’t blame yourself mom,” Alyssa then speaks. “It’s fine. We can work our way through this.”

“I know. I just hate-”

“What have I told everybody else about the racing factor? I’ll deal with it. There are plenty of things that I can still do, involved in racing and in other parts of life.”

“There are also plenty of people out there who have defied the odds before,” Jeff finally speaks up. “Sam Schmidt and Alex Zanardi are both great examples. They were able to go back driving, at a high rate of speed, after their accidents and being told it’d be practically impossible. I’m sure where there’s a will, there’s a way.”