Moving On

John sat in Granny's contemplating the chess pieces set out on the board in front of him. Kathryn had given it to him this morning, saying that it had belonged to his grandfather and was something he treasured; maybe it would trigger a memory. He had decided to come to Granny's diner, mostly to get away from the oppressive atmosphere of the house while attempting to see if the game brought anything back. Since then, he had been sitting at the booth with a cup of coffee like this for nearly four hours, and still nothing. He took a sip of his coffee, then set it down and picked up one of the elegantly crafted white knights from his side of the board; he ran a thumb over the face of the horse.

"Hey, John."

He looked up to see Sean standing by the booth with a mug of coffee, grinning at him; John gave him a warm half-smile in return. "Hi, Sean," he nodded to the other side of the booth, "would you like to sit?"

"Yeah, I've got time to kill." He slid into the booth and eyed the chess set. "Do you play?" he glanced up at the older man.

John shrugged. "According to Kathryn I do."

Sean grinned, "Would you like to test that theory?"

John shrugged. "Why not?" He reached out and moved a pawn forward. "How's it going?" he inquired of the younger man.

The young man shrugged, smiling; he moved one of his pieces. "Good, Dad's adjusting…actually," he smirked, "I think being a grandfather is really starting to grow on him; he's started to voluntarily pick up Alexandra and I'm pretty sure I caught him baby-talking to her the other day."

They both laughed as John moved another piece.

"So," Sean continued, making a move, "how're things with you?"

John contemplated the board. "Frustrating, mostly." He advanced a bishop.

Sean nodded, as he eyed his choices. "Ashley and I ran into Mary yesterday." He lifted his eyes for a moment, to look at the other man, before looking back down. "She said you were struggling in therapy." He shifted a rook. "She seemed worried."

John frowned; he didn't like the idea of Mary having to carry even more of a burden of worry than was already placed on her thin, overburdened shoulders. "Physical therapy is trying – tiring mostly really – the memory recovery…" he trailed off grimacing. "Well, that's just not going anywhere and some days I'm not sure – " he broke off. He slid a piece across the board, capturing one of Sean's.

"Not sure of what?" The younger man looked up at him.

John debated finishing his thought. He hadn't meant to say so much; he hadn't voiced the thought to anyone and he really didn't know Sean that well, but…for some reason sitting here, playing this game and talking to this man felt…familiar, as if they had done this hundreds of times before. John wrapped his weaker hand – his therapist had been pushing him to use that hand more – around his mug of coffee and, supporting it with his right hand, took a sip, allowing himself a few more moments to contemplate finishing the thought. When he set the mug back down he figured, what could it hurt? He looked Sean straight in the eye; the young man didn't flinch, just met him head on. "I'm not sure if I want to remember. But at the same time I feel like my life is on hold until I do remember."

Sean looked back down at the game, moved a knight; then looked back up, leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table and loosely lacing his fingers together, leveling the other man with an equally intent look. "Why don't you want to remember?"

John thoughtfully looked down at the game. He slid his queen forward. "Because," he tried to properly phrase what he was thinking, "I don't…feel like David Nolan."

"Thus why you prefer being called 'John'," Sean supplied, taking one of John's bishops.

He nodded. "In part at least." He moved a knight with hardly a thought, taking one of Sean's. "David Nolan made choices, promises that I don't agree with and I don't think that I would have made. He had a life that doesn't feel like it's mine." He watched Sean make a move, then countered it quickly.

Sean contemplated the board. "And in the meantime while people are trying to get you to remember that life you have begun building a different one as John, with your own choices, hopes…" he pushed a rook forward, "and desires."

John's eyes snapped to the younger man's, their gazes locked for several moments. John finally sighed. "You've been talking to Emma as well." He shifted a piece to take one of the black pieces.

Sean smirked, taking a pawn. "Even without talking to her it's a little hard to miss."

John scrubbed his good hand over his face. "Hell." He glanced at the board and made a move.

The younger man chuckled as he studied his options. "So, you have these feelings and wants and you're worried about the possibility of regaining your memory and that interfering with them or at least confusing them." He slid a piece back to defend. John met it with his own move. "It also makes you reticent to take action on any of these." Sean captured one of John's pieces.

The older man nodded, eyeing the pieces; then making a move. "That sums it up."

Sean looked down at the table, ignoring the game for a moment; then he looked back at the pieces, shifted one and readdressed the other man. "John, I think…I think that if you really loved Kathryn – truly loved her – you wouldn't really ever forget that, not entirely; you'd feel something for her with or without your memory."

John stared at the board, absorbing what Sean had said; it echoed what he himself had been thinking. He moved his bishop.

"And," the younger man continued, moving a rook, "didn't Kathryn even say that you were leaving her when you ended up in the coma?"

The other man hmm-ed a confirmation as he advanced a knight.

Sean took a few moments, considering his words and choices before his queen took one of the white pieces; then he leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table in front of him. "Here's what I know, John." The older man made a counter move and looked up, meeting the other man's stare. "You can't live with your life on hold. There isn't a pause button on the world." His expression tightened and there was regret in his eyes. "All of those months without Ashley, feeling Alexandra move for the first time, kicking, being there for Ashley through morning sickness, hearing Alexandra's heartbeat for the first time, holding Ashley's hand during the birth…I can't get any of that back. And I have to live with those regrets, but I plan on making sure that I add as few onto those as I can."

John found himself looking at the young man across from his with respect and admiration for the maturity and insight that he was displaying. He slowly nodded.

"Here you are, Sean."

Both men looked up to see Ashley approaching the table, pushing a stroller with baby Alexandra inside.

"We were just looking for you," she continued. "Hi, John," she cast him a warm smile, which he returned with a nod.

Sean's face lit up at the sight of his fiancée and daughter. "I stopped in here for a coffee and decided to join John in a game of chess."

She gave him a chiding look before turning to look at John. "Has he been showing off his chess skills again?"

Sean ducked his head.

John gave her an inquiring look.

"Not only was he captain of the football team, but also the chess team in high school," she elaborated.

His expression lit with comprehension. "Ah." He leveled a look at the younger man who pointedly ignored it while he slid out of the booth to stand next to the young woman.

"Ready to head home?" he asked.

"Mm hm," she nodded.


John extended a hand to the younger man. "Thank you," he said meaningfully.

Sean accepted the handshake. "You already knew what you wanted," he countered, "you just needed someone to talk it through with." He began to turn away but then turned back. "Oh, and John," he pointed at the chess game, "if that's how you play when you're distracted," he used the finger he was pointing with to gently knock the black king on his side of the board over, "then I'm almost afraid to see how good you are when you're actually focused." He smirked and walked off beside Ashley.

John looked down at the board; his normally muddled mind for some reason was able to quickly and easily analyze the positions of the pieces and the remaining likely moves to find that he had indeed been only three moves away from checkmate and winning the game.

John stepped through the door of the sheriff's office. Emma looked up from where she was leaning back in her chair, feet propped up on her desk, working on the crossword in the newspaper. "Hey, John," she greeted as she kicked her feet off of the desk; she set down the paper and pencil as he headed over to her. Her ponytail swayed over her shoulder as she leaned her elbows on her desk, gesturing for him to take a seat in the chair across from her.

He smirked at her. "How very official," he nodded to the desktop with the finished and half-finished reports sitting off to the side along with her badge and gun as he took the offered seat.

She rolled her eyes, sitting back and crossing her arms. "What do you want?"

His expression became more serious; he leaned forward, bracing his forearms on the desk and clasping his hands together. "I need a lawyer and I thought that, being a former bail bonds person and now a deputy you might be able to recommend one."

She frowned in concern. "Are you in trouble?"

"No, no nothing like that," he reassured her, his expression lightening a bit.

Her worry cleared, but she was still frowning in confusion, she tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. "Well, what do you need one for?"

He met her stare head on. "Divorce." Her eyebrows shot up. "I'm ready to move on."

I just had such a strong image in my mind of John and Sean playing chess and talking; it is also something that I could imagine them doing in Fairy Tale Land. Thank you so much for reading! I can promise more very soon!

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