Two Harts can make a Home
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Here's a nice long chapter for you all.
Zoe tapped her fingers against the rim of her wine glass, as she lifted her eyes from her book to the road again. The porch light shone down on the pages as she waited on her comfy chair. It was new, along with another table and a matching chair.
Ever since Wade had sat down on her old porch furniture and it had collapsed underneath him, he insisted that she buy new ones. That trip to the store had resulted in Tyler and Wade nearly getting kicked out of the building because they wanted to sit in every single chair to 'test them out'.
Now she was reading a book, pretending that she was not waiting for Wade to return from the city.
She glanced down at her bag, still sitting on wood, where she had left it when she had gotten home from work. That was thing about Bluebell; you could leave your handbag on your porch and no one would take it. Normally that thought brought a smile to her face. But instead, when she looked at her bag, she remembered that her letter about the fellowship was gone. She must have dropped it somewhere but she couldn't find it, even though she looked everywhere.
Zoe sighed and took a sip of her wine. She had actually forgotten that she had applied for the fellowship a year ago. A year. A whole year in Bluebell, Alabama.
A year ago, she couldn't think of anything worse. A year ago, she just wanted to return to New York. A year ago, she was a broken puzzle of missing pieces and she didn't even know it.
Now, it was different.
She couldn't just pack up and leave Bluebell. Brick needed help in the practise; no matter what he said, he couldn't handle it all on his own. Lavon always needed her help with campaigns and fundraisers and who else would invade his kitchen for breakfast? Tyler certainly hated living in the city and he was so involved in Bluebell High School now. He was even talking about joining the baseball team.
And Wade. She couldn't leave Wade. She couldn't leave his smirk or his jokes. She couldn't stay away from his kind words and support. Zoe tossed the glass back on the table, nearly toppling it over. How could someone who she never needed before, be so important now?
Car lights caught her attention and she look up to see Wade driving to her house. She smiled and stood up, walking towards the steps. He got out of the car after parking it, and walked slowly towards the steps. He climbed up the first few stopping on second from the top and leaned against the rail in front of her.
She smiled at him and asked, "How did it go?"
He shrugged and Zoe saw how tiered he was. "Well, I got Travis sighed in and he'll be there for a couple of weeks. But he's willing to try."
Zoe took his hand and squeezed it. "You're a good brother," she said and Wade shrugged again.
"No, I mean it!" she insisted, "You're probably one of the best men I've ever met. You're so giving and kind, to everyone. I never met another person like you and I don't want to leave you or Tyler or anyone else-."
She caught herself and stopped rambling, but the damage was done. Wade's tiered face suddenly turned to one of concern and he moved to the top step, so that he was towering over her and was close enough for her to smell the softener from his clothes. She would know; she had bought it.
"What are you talking about Zoe?" he asked, "Are you sick? Is there something wrong?"
Zoe shook her head and felt him place his warm hands on her arms. "Zoe?" She raised her eyes to look at him, big, brown, tear-filled eyes.
He was looking at her with such concern as if he would do anything to make it better. "What is going on?"
"She got the fellowship in New York."
They both turned to see Tyler standing in the doorway. His brown eyes were holding back concern and fear as he held up the missing letter.
"Tyler," Zoe gasped, "Where did you find that?"
Tyler walked forward and said, "You dropped it in the bar and Travis found it. He didn't read it; he gave it back to me. But when I checked to see if it was junk, I really didn't expect it to be about the fellowship."
Zoe sighed and glanced at Wade. His jaw was set and he was glaring at the page in Tyler's outstretched hand, glancing over the words. "So," Wade said, "You're going back to New York?"
"No!" Zoe said, "I mean yes-no!"
She closed her eyes and took a breath. When she opened her eyes, she turned to Tyler. "Travis left this morning. Why did you wait all day to talk to me about this?"
Tyler frowned and replied, "I had to wait for Wade to get back. I mean, this wouldn't be family meeting thing if he wasn't here."
He said that like it was obvious. Zoe and Wade looked at each other.
They were family. They were Tyler's family.
They were the people who ate breakfast with him, who drove him to school and helped him with his homework. They ate dinner with him and made sure he was alright. They taught him right from wrong and made him feel like he belonged for the first time. How she could she disrupt that?
But...but the fellowship was everything to her. It was what she always wanted.
"So?" Tyler asked, "Are you going back to New York?"
Zoe sighed and replied, "This fellowship had been everything that I have been working for my entire life. It's all I've ever wanted."
"Are you sure about that CZ?"
Zoe frowned at her cousin. Tyler shrugged and replied, "People used to say that same thing about me. Is getting the fellowship what you want or is it what your dad wanted for you? Or maybe it's a way to feel close to that asshole even though he's a-."
"Tyler!" Zoe said, frowned and the young boy closed his mouth. Tyler always had a way of saying things she didn't want to hear, even if they were the truth.
"I just...need to think this through. And I need to go to New York at the weekend anyway. It doesn't matter if I turn it down or not, the doctor that was mentoring me needs to interview me anyway. It's all part of the procedure."
"So this guy is going to convince you to go back to New York?" Tyler asked, folding his arms and Zoe smiled.
"Actually, he was the one who told me to work in family practise for a year. I'm here because of him and Harley if you think about it."
During all this, Wade stayed silent and when Zoe looked at him, he barely met her eyes. "What do think about all this?" she asked quietly.
Wade cleared his throat and said, "Well, I'll look after Tyler while you're in New York. We can have a boy's weekend."
"Wade," Zoe said, "That's not what I meant. What do you want?"
Wade sighed and looked at her finally. His eyes were conflicted but he managed to say, "Just follow your dreams, Doc. Don't let anyone hold you back from them."
With that he turned and walked back to down the steps, leaving two Harts with shocked looks on their faces.
The next day, a Friday, Zoe was all packed and ready to get on a plane by the time Tyler got home from school. He was sat on the porch, sulking slightly when Lemon and George drove up.
"What's with the long face?" Lemon asked him kindly when they had gotten out of the car, "I thought you would be excited about spending the whole weekend with Wade."
Tyler sighed and replied, "He's not doing anything to stop her. He's just letting her leave."
George placed a hand on Lemon's shoulder and replied, "Tyler, he just doesn't want to feel like he's holding her back."
"He wouldn't be!" Tyler exclaimed, standing up.
"Wouldn't be what?" They turned to see Zoe, walking out of the house with a suitcase. Tyler just shook his head and leaned against the porch rail. She walked down the steps and turned to him.
"Behave for Wade and do not get in trouble. I want this town still standing when I get back."
Zoe turned to see Lavon's car making its way down the road to her house, when a flash of blonde caught her eye.
Wade had walked out the back of his house and was marching towards the group. She stared at him for a moment, but turned back to Tyler.
"Can I at least get a hug before I go?" Tyler reached out and hugged her tightly. When they pulled away, Lavon was honking the horn and Wade had nearly reached them.
"In case it wasn't obvious, I am running later, so I'll see everyone on Sunday," Zoe said as she walked towards the car, pulling her small suitcase behind her.
Lemon wrapped an arm around Tyler and said, "Don't worry, she'll be back soon."
Tyler sighed and replied, "But there has to be something that'll make her want to stay when she gets back."
As he said that, Zoe reached the car and Wade reached Zoe. She turned to him to say goodbye but he cut her off by wrapping his arms around her and kissing her soundly on the mouth. Zoe's dropped her suitcase and the group stood there in silence.
"Well," Lemon said after a moment, "That'll about do it."
Zoe had kissed Wade before, back a year ago. But a lot can happen in a year. Wrapped in his arms, she literally felt like she could stay there forever. He tasted like apple pie and his lips were so soft on her own, that she felt like she was walking on air. He pulled away finally, when air became necessary, and he stared down at her.
"This is what I want Zoe," he said huskily, "I've been thinking things over in my mind and I'm sure now. I have wanted this since the moment you stormed into my house and yelled at me for blowing the fuses. You were like a brunette hurricane in shorts. But it's changed a bit since then, just like you and I have changed. I want you and Tyler. The three of us. And I know that this fellowship is your dream and I would never want to take that away from you, but I also know that you have changed in this year and I just want you to know what'll be here for you."
With that, he sighed and placed a kiss on her forehead, before pulling away. "Don't worry about Tyler," he said, "He'll be fine."
Zoe was still unable to speak. "Um, Zoe?" Lavon called, "You're going to miss your plane."
Zoe didn't say anything, and Lavon frowned.
"Can you move?" he asked her.
"Huh?" she said, snapping out of her trance and looking at him. "Oh right, yes," she finally said. She looked around to see that Wade had already put her suitcase in the car for her and all that was left was for her to sit in.
After she did just that, she looked out the car window to see Lemon and George waving her goodbye while Tyler and Wade stood side by side at the house. They both smiled at her and she couldn't help but watch them until the car had driven out of sight.
Tyler sighed heavily and turned to Wade. "So," he said, "What are we doing this weekend?"
"Anything to keep our minds off Zoe and New York."
"Sounds like a plan."
She had forgotten how loud New York was.
As Zoe stood at the entrance to her mother's building, she took a moment to appreciate where she was. Cars were going past her, of every colour, not to mention the yellow taxies with advertisements splattered on them. She had to stand right near the wall so that the mass of people rushing up and down the sidewalk didn't crush her. There were so many sounds and smells. There was even a cafe across the street that was her favourite when she had lived in New York. And even when it was dark, the city was lit up like a beacon.
Here she was, finally, in the city of her dreams. A small smile came to her face at this thought. The long flight was worth it. She moved her stiff muscles and sighed.
The problem with all this was, she just wanted to be back on her porch sipping a glass of wine. The Annual Bluebell Town Picnic was being held tomorrow as well. She had just caught it when she had arrived in the town last year and she was kind of looking forward to being there since it was Tyler's first Bluebell Picnic. Rose was also making her brownies.
Zoe shook her head and marched towards the door to her mother's building. Reaching the top floor, she knocked on the door, only to have to thrown open by her mother, who was looking far too excited for Zoe's liking.
"Zoe! Welcome home!"
Her mother hugged her; which was a good thing considering that she was about to blurt out "I'm not home."
Her mother dragged her into the apartment and steered Zoe to the couch.
She smiled at her. There was a second of silence and then Zoe said, "Ok, Mom, what's going on?"
Her mother's smile didn't move. "What do you mean? A woman can't be happy to see her own daughter?"
Zoe stared at her.
"OK, Peter and Caroline are coming to dinner tomorrow."
Zoe's jaw dropped. "WHAT! Do they know I'm going to be there?" she said, sitting up straight.
Her mother shook her head slightly and replied, "No. But you have no idea how difficult it's been the last few months. All they've been doing to trying to get me to convince you to change your mind about the custody application."
Zoe folded her arms and said, "Well, the extent of conversations between me and the two of them have been shouting at each other down the phone. Mom, they have practically abused Tyler. They left him on his own but still acted like puppet masters, pulling the strings in his life. He suffers from panic attacks at the sound of his father's voice!"
Her mother sighed and leaned back on the couch. "You spent a lot of time away from us and you were just fine."
Zoe froze. Fine? She was just fine? Oh yes, she was doing well in her life. She had a good career, great friends and happiness...in Bluebell. And she had gotten all of that by herself. Neither her mother nor her father had helped her get there. In fact they had nearly steered her away from there.
"You really have no idea," Zoe said quietly. She stood up and walked over to her suitcase, which had been left at the door.
As she walked towards the hallway and to her room, she heard her mother asked, "At least tell me, are you still with that bartender? Walter or something?"
Zoe stopped and turned to her mother. "First of all, his name is Wade. And secondly, you can tell Peter and Caroline that I'm not dropping the custody application." She turned around but then spun around again. "Oh and by the way; Tyler relaxes at the sound of my voice."
With that she made her way down the hallway.
"Oh come on! You've got to be kidding me!"
Tyler threw another piece of popcorn into his mouth as he watched the football on the TV and listened to Lavon shout at it. Wade was sitting on the armchair, nearly as into the game as Lavon. Tyler, meanwhile, was seated on the couch with the mayor. His phone buzzed and he pulled it out of his pocket to see a text from Zoe.
"Hey! How are you guys? Everything ok?"
Tyler typed back. "Yup, everything's cool. We're just watching football. Good luck for tomorrow by the way."
"Thanks. Good night. And tell Wade not to throw things at the TV."
Tyler looked at Wade and said, "But the way, Zoe says don't throw things at the TV."
Wade frowned while Lavon laughed. Wade sighed and replied, "You break one little TV and she gets all bossy on me."
Zoe yawned for the fifth time in five minutes as she waited outside the office of her old mentor.
She hadn't really slept well. The noise from outside the apartment was so loud and she was starting to miss the sound of Alabama. She had hurried over to her meeting with the head surgeon at the hospital that used to be so familiar to her.
She sat up in the metal chair and straightened out her black trousers. Just then the door opened and Dr. Tanner, looked out. He was just as she remembered him, with the white hair and glasses.
"Dr. Hart," he said "Come on in."
She smiled at walked into the office, taking a seat on a slightly more comfortable chair while Dr. Tanner sat behind his desk. He pulled out a file that she realised was her own and he looked at it.
Then he looked at her and said, "Well, I'm glad you took my advice about the family practise. Was it as bad as you thought it would be?"
Zoe smiled and replied, "Actually, no."
Dr. Tanner looked at her in surprise. He was expecting a Zoe Hart eager to get back to work in New York.
"Working as a family doctor was...the best experience of my life. You were right when you said I needed to get to know my patients. It makes all the difference."
She said this with a small smile and a far off look in her eye. Dr. Tanner frowned at her and asked, "If you don't mind me asking Dr. Hart, but have you changed your mind about the fellowship?"
Zoe let out a shaky breath and replied, "Dr, Tanner, last year, you told me that if I wanted to be a heart surgeon, I needed to work on my own. And you were right. I went down the Alabama and met some people who fixed and filled my heart with such a friendship and love, which I didn't even know I was missing."
Zoe sighed and said, "And I think I left my heart there with somebody who could really take care of it."
Dr. Tanner sat there, listening to her. He waited a moment and then leaned forward. "Dr. Hart, if I'm being honest, I think this hospital would lose out on a great surgeon in you. But...I've also seen many doctors and surgeons in my time that had gone into this profession for one reason; because it's what their parents wanted. And I wouldn't want that for you."
Zoe thought about this for a moment. Her father had always encouraged her to be a doctor and her mother never thought she would be anything else. Suddenly Harley popped into her head. She knew what he would have wanted; for her to be happy.
"What is it that you want, Dr. Hart?"
Zoe looked at Dr. Tanner. "I want...to know my patients like friends and neighbours. I want to walk down a street and know everyone on it. I want to spend my Friday nights watching football in my friend's house and take some time on Saturday for my cousin's baseball games. I want Sunday church fundraisers and bake sales. I want to have a house that is my own and to be in town where I am wanted."
She paused and took in everything she had just said. "I want to live in Bluebell."
Dr. Tanner smiled at this and closed her file. "In that case Dr. Hart, I think you know where you need to be." She smiled at him and they stood up to shake hands.
When they let go, Dr Tanner frowned. "Bluebell? Bluebell, Alabama? I never thought I would hear that name again."
Zoe frowned slightly and asked, "You know Bluebell?"
"Not personally. But when I was doing my training, there was another doctor that was from there." He chuckled slightly, "At first we all thought he was nobody from nowhere but when he talked to his patients and cured them, wither it was with a scalpel or medicine, we all could see what a great doctor he was."
Dr. Tanner looked at her and asked, "Is there a Harley Wilkes still in Bluebell? We all thought he was crazy for turning down his own chance to work here."
Zoe stood there, not really being able to say anything. Tears pricked at her eyes but she cleared her throat and said, "Um, he died about a year ago. But all I've ever heard about is good things."
Dr. Tanner nodded, "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. But yes, he was a lucky man. That whole town loved him. But anyway Dr. Hart, thank you coming all the way here. I wish you the best in your career."
Zoe smiled at him and walked out of the door. She walked in a daze for a while, her feet taking her to a taxi, which she took to her mother's apartment. Zoe couldn't help but smile at Dr Tanner's news. Maybe she was more like Harley then she had first thought.
It was only when she had reached the door to the apartment, did her father's face appear in her mind. He was back in New York wasn't he? And there was no way that someone like her mother didn't have that information. Zoe took a deep breath. She had just made a big decision in her life; why stop when she was on a roll. She opened the door and shut it behind her as she marched over to the kitchen where she could see her mother standing, ordering the cook around.
She turned and smiled at Zoe.
"What is Dad's address?"
-Bluebell, Saturday Afternoon-
Wade was stretched out on a picnic blanket in the middle of the town square right by the gazebo.
Through his sunglasses, he could see Lavon making the finishing touches at the barbecue while Shelly was picking up glasses from the crowded tables. George and Lemon were seated under a large tree near Wade while Brick was chatting to Mrs Lewis and her husband.
He spotted Tyler with Rose and Matt near the cake table. Matt had a baseball bat throw over his shoulders while Tyler and Rose each had a mitt; Tyler also had a ball in his other hand. The whole town had made their way to the Bluebell picnic and the general feeling was of happiness, community spirit and a wonder of why Zoe Hart wasn't there.
Getting up, Wade dusted off his jeans and made his way over to Tyler. The three of them spotted him and Matt said, "Hey Wade." Rose waved at him and Tyler threw the ball to him.
Wade caught it and asked, "And what are you three suspicious looking teenagers doing?"
Tyler shrugged and replied, "Oh just planning some breaking and entering and underage drinking. You know nothing interesting."
Rose and Matt laughed at this and Wade said to Tyler, "You are a terrible influence on these two. They were all innocent and nice before you."
Tyler smirked and Matt replied, "We were just talking about baseball try outs. Tyler here is worried about his catching."
Tyler frowned and said, "You yourself said I can't catch for sh-."
Rose cleared her throat and Tyler caught himself. Wade grinned and replied, "No need to swear in front of the lady, Tyler."
Rose shook her head, "Oh no I'm fine. It's just that three of Bluebell's biggest gossips are standing right there and their ears are tuned to catch swear words so they can give out to you about using them."
The three guys turned to see the three old ladies, still seated on their bench. Wade turned back to Tyler and said, "Look, kid. Don't worry about catching; I can work with you on that. But you've got to at least try out. According to Matt here, you nearly broke the record on that ball that you hit in gym."
Matt was nodded to hard at this stage, Wade was starting to worry. "Stop that," he said and Matt stilled.
Tyler sighed and replied, "Alright, I will then. But if I mess up, it's both your faults."
Wade just grinned and tossed the ball in the air to catch it again. "Mess up? With me as your coach? Never."
Rose frowned and replied, "Weren't you the one who smashed Mr Smith's car window just last summer?"
"Not the point, Rose."
-New York, Saturday evening-
Ethan Hart raised his head from the medical records on his desk, when he heard a knock on his office door. Strange, his secretary would have told him if someone was coming to see him.
"Come in," he said and the door opened to revel a woman with dark hair and brown eyes, in her twenties and wearing a black suit.
"Can I help y-."
He stopped when he realised who she was. It had been many years since he had seen Zoe but she had changed so much. Ethan was speechless, and the only thought that came to his head was the one he spoke.
"Where is my secretary?"
Zoe frowned and closed the door behind her. "She's in lunch. And nice to see you too."
She sat down across from his desk in a chair and folded her arms. "I am here because there are some questions that I need answered. You have one chance to answer them truthfully."
Ethan stared at her and he saw the first sign of fear in her eyes when she asked, "Did you really think that abandoning me with Mom was the best thing for anyone when you found out about her and Harley Wilkes?"
Ethan sighed and sat back in his chair. "Zoe...finding out what your mother did broke my heart. And I was so angry about it all that, every time I looked at you I saw that Dr. Wilkes!"
Ethan snorted, "If you could even call him a doctor."
"I can," Zoe said, surprising him, "A whole town in Alabama can! The many people he has looked after can!"
Zoe let out a breath through her nose slowly. "I idolised you," she said quietly, "In my eyes you were the best person I knew. But now I know the truth."
Ethan frowned at her and she said, "No matter which way you spin it; you left me. You left a little girl confused and angry because of something that wasn't her fault. But I am done trying to fix something that isn't mine to fix."
Ethan replied, "Zoe, I am sorry for leaving you. I admit that I went about things the wrong way. That's all I can say."
Zoe nodded, "Oh I know. And I accept your apology. But if you want to be a part of my life anymore, then you are going to have to make the effort. I am done trying."
With that she stood up suddenly and turned to the door.
She turned her head to look at him. He was sat in his chair, looking taken aback at her sudden confrontation.
"This isn't going to be easy for me," he said.
Zoe laughed slightly. "I don't know wither you know this or not; but this meeting wasn't about you. This was for me, so I can finally realise what I want in my life. What I deserve."
With that she threw open the door, and marched out, brushing past a surprised secretary on her way out.
She made it all the way to the elevator and waited till the doors were closed to let out a shaky breath. She had just told her father exactly what she had been holding in a long time. It felt...really, really good! She smiled slightly and when her phone beeped, she quickly opened it to find a text from Wade.
"Don't freak out," it said and she instantly started to panic.
"Brick had to give Tyler a few stitches in his arm after a minor fishing accident."
Zoe quickly typed back a "How is he?" response while two people got into the elevator when it had stopped.
By the time it had reached the lobby, Wade had replied. "Oh he's fine. I was teaching him how to fish with Lavon and the hooks got in the way. Plus Lavon was not happy when Tyler accidently caught Burt Reynolds."
Zoe snorted at this as she walked out of the building and down the street. She could just imagine Tyler trying to fish and getting caught up in the wire. Wade would be trying to untangle him while Lavon consoled Burt Reynolds.
Suddenly, Zoe felt a pang of home sickness. "Hum", she thought "Which sounds better; an uncomfortable dinner with Peter and Caroline or getting the late flight back to Alabama?"
-Bluebell, Saturday night-
It was night time in Bluebell. The moon was out and the porch light at Zoe's house was on, shining down on the people sitting at the table. Wade and Tyler were playing cards, empty packets of chips and sweets littering the table.
"I still don't get why we have to bet with cookies," Tyler said, "We can use really poker chips."
Wade shuffled the deck and grinned. "If you think I am letting you anyway near any sort real gambling, you are sorely mistaken. Zoe would have my head."
Tyler smirked and squinted slightly when a flash of light shone in his eyes. Both of them looked at the road to see a car drive up to the house. Realising it was Lavon's, they both stayed where they were.
Lavon stopped the car and got out but before they could ask him what he was grinned about, Zoe got out of the other door. They both stood up quickly from their seats.
"CZ! You're back early," Tyler stated as he walked over to the steps to meet her.
Zoe shrugged and replied, "Well, I guess I just couldn't stay away from Bluebell."
Tyler picked up on her tone and asked, "Does that mean what I hope it means?"
Zoe glanced at Wade who hadn't moved from his place on the porch, before turning back to Tyler and smiling, "Let's just say, when I get custody of you, we'll be staying right here in Bluebell."
Tyler smiled widely and picked his cousin up in a huge bear hug. Zoe laughed and hugged him back.
When Tyler set her down on her feet again, he said, "We have to celebrate!"
"I think you still have those beers that I dropped over the other day," Lavon said as he and Tyler made their way up the steps with Zoe behind them.
"You are not having one," Zoe said to her cousin who just smiled.
"I'm just glad your home, CZ." Lavon and Tyler walked into the house but Zoe stopped and turned to Wade.
She could tell that he was holding back the wave of emotions that she herself was feeling as well.
He slowly walked over to her and Zoe said, "You know that offer you made me before I left?"
Wade stopped right in front of her and tilted his head slightly. "I think I remember. And?"
Zoe smiled, trying not grin as widely as she wanted to. "I just think it's time I took you up on it." She looked into his eyes and, taking a step forward, took his hand in hers. "I'm just really sorry I didn't realise how great it was until now."
Wade smiled at her and wrapped his arms completely around his waist. "It's alright, Zoe," he said, "We're just going to have to make up for lost time."
With that he leaned down and kissed her.
She had been drained from the long flight but that one kiss filled her with a new energy. She put her arms around his neck and when he bit down on her bottom lip, she practically purred with happiness.
As for Wade, he was just ecstatic to finally have her in his arms.
Neither of them noticed Tyler and Lavon walking out onto the porch, only to go back inside when they saw the two of them. They stood in Zoe's hallway for a moment and then Tyler said, "I'm going to have to start knocking on doors before I enter a room now aren't I?"
Lavon nodded and replied, "We all will...and it's about time."