This story occasionally includes explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adult males. If you are underage or it is illegal to view this for any reason, consider yourself warned. If you find this material offensive, I have to wonder why you came here in the first place.
This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entirely a coincidence.
As author, I retain all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me. This work is copyright © Fitz, 2011 and 2012.
This is my first attempt at writing a story, so I would love to hear any feedback, be it positive or negative. Send me an email with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll try to respond promptly to all emails, but any flames will be ignored.
I would like to thank Jay Gordon at jaygordonstories.com, for much of the inspiration to write this, in addition to the many amazing stories that I've read by a wide number of authors. Jay's stories may have given me the inspiration, but all the excellent writers have created a desire in me to write. Thank you all.
Finally, my wonderful husband gets a shout out for being so supportive, allowing me to bounce ideas off of him and for taking the time to edit for me. He is apparently a glutton for punishment, as he keeps volunteering to look at the newest chapter for me. NCRaider has taken on the task of proofing drafts for me, and my good friend Kai has stepped up to the plate and has been indispensable in the editing process. They have been amazing, and any errors that remain are mine and mine alone.
My story is also hosted at http://fitz.thestorycloset.org, which will likely be updated more frequently than here. Registered users (free) also have access to discussion forums and a chat room where you can talk to me and other authors from the site. I have a Subscribed Readers Update thread in the forum for anyone who would like to be on a mailing list.
Sorry this chapter took so long. My mind has been off for the past few months, so I've had a difficult time focusing on writing. Fortunately, chapters 12 and thirteen ARE written and will follow soon. Of course my editor has had a series of unfortunate setbacks of his own (most recently the power cord on his laptop has blown and he hasn't had a chance to replace it), and he is in the process of wrapping up his coursework for graduation, so I am not placing any deadlines on him (other than as soon as he is able). Also, don't miss the announcement at the end of the chapter!!
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"I just want you to keep an open mind. You don't have to participate if you don't want to. But if you do, I want you to really put in an effort."
Noah's comment really threw me for a loop, and I couldn't help but ask the first thing that came to mind: "Hopefully this is going to sound really stupid, especially since you said that I could bring anyone I wanted. You're not taking me to an orgy or something are you?"
Noah just doubled over laughing, and it took him several minutes to regain his composure. Even I couldn't resist joining in. I knew it was a ridiculous idea, but it was the only conclusion I could draw based on his cryptic statement. Eventually, he was able to respond.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Noah said, "NO!! God, it's nothing like that! I really didn't think about what I was saying before I spoke, I guess. I'm still not telling, but it's nothing along those lines. For the record, that's not something I'd ever consider doing."
That was enough to set fears to rest. I agreed that I would keep an open mind. Maybe whatever he had planned really would help.
– – – * * * – – –
We resumed our workouts the next morning. Conversation seemed to come easier than ever before, and I found myself chatting idly with him for the entirety of our sessions together. I could tell he was still a little worried about how I might react to things; I caught him watching what he said a few times. I don't know if it was my self-discovery over the previous weekend or the fact that he was completely understanding of everything that I've been through, but I wasn't being careful in the slightest.
I wasn't necessarily trying to flirt with him, but there were a few times when I might have unintentionally let a hand linger on his shoulder or arm a few seconds longer than necessary, and it's entirely possible that I may have made a mildly suggestive comment or two. He never gave me any indication one way or the other how he felt about my actions, but it would have been impossible for him not to notice.
Back at home, life was continuing to settle into a new normal. The new floors looked amazing; I was surprised that even with The Spot a thing of the past, my longing for Steve's presence during the day was very bearable. I still hadn't been in Steve's office, but I was making good progress repairing relations with my clients, and they had begun to request additional services from me. I still wasn't back to my normal workload, but I was extremely proud of all the work that I had accomplished in the past few weeks.
Before I knew it, it was Thursday morning. After Noah and I had finished working out, he reminded me once again about the plans for 'therapy'. He said it every time with a sarcastic emphasis, and I couldn't help but smile every time he did it.
"Remember, Scott, You promised to keep an open mind. I think you're really going to have a good time, whether or not you decide to take your turn."
"If you say so. I'm still not sure, but then again, you've been extremely vague as to what's going on," I responded. I was skeptical, but I knew deep down that anything Noah was planning would be a good time.
"And remember to bring Tom and Sarah with you. I still haven't met them, and I'm sure they'll have a lot of fun, too. If there's anyone else you want to bring, feel free to have them tag along as well. The more the merrier."
With that, we parted. I really was looking forward to seeing him again in a few hours, even if I had no idea what I was in for.
– – – * * * * * * * * * – – –
"Dr. William Drake speaking."
"Hey Will, it's Noah. I knew you were at work, so I didn't bother with trying your cell."
"Hey buddy. What's up? Haven't heard from you since Monday. Is everything ok?"
"Everything on my end is good, but to be honest, I'm a little pissed at you after hearing Scott explain things from his perspective. I don't believe for an instant that you misread his actions. I truly believe that you were just hoping that once you got him in bed, he'd develop feelings back."
Will didn't say a word in response, and for a moment, Noah was too angry to say anything.
"Will, I'm sorry. I didn't want to unload on you when I called. It's just that I don't feel right venting this anger around Scott; the only other person I would normally want to do that with is you. And we both know that's not a good idea.
"Anyways, even though I'm mad, I really hate what I'm about to ask of you. Is it possible for you not to come to our usual thing tonight? Like I said..." Noah was cut off by an angry Will.
"Why? Are you taking him there?"
Noah was shocked by Will's tone. He had practically snarled when he referred to me. Noah immediately realized that he had taken the wrong tone with Will, which had clearly put his friend on edge.
Taking a more conciliatory tone, Noah responded, "Actually, yes. And before you say anything, I want you to know that it was not his idea. Because of everything that has happened between the two of you, I thought it might be best for him to avoid any awkwardness tonight. I think that it's really going to help him."
Will couldn't help but chuckle at Noah despite his anger. "I really don't understand how you can find it therapeutic. Fun, definitely, but you do realize that he's going to think it's a ridiculously cheesy idea, right?"
"Actually, that's my goal. He'll be disarmed by the sheer ridiculousness of the situation, and then without realizing it he'll find a way to let down his guard and he'll feel a little bit better.
"Will, I need to ask you something, and I really don't want you to take this the wrong way, especially after my tirade earlier. Did Scott ever seem to flirt with you, other than the last night he was in town? I'm just trying to understand some..."
"Look, Noah, I already told you. I just misread signs. I know he didn't try to flirt with me. I know he wasn't ready to do anything. Hell, I know that he didn't feel the same way about me at all. I just lost my focus for a second. That's all."
And with that, Will slammed the phone down, ending the call and leaving Noah more confused than before.
– – – * * * * * * * * * – – –
That evening, I actually managed to arrive before Noah for once. Tom and Sarah were definitely excited about finally meeting Noah – if not a little on edge that they had no idea what the night would entailed. Neither was as nervous as I.
It would have been impossible for them to not realize I had developed a full-on crush for Noah. They had witnessed firsthand the progress I had made in the past few weeks, and I'm sure that I had talked their ears off about Noah all week long. They never said anything about it either way, but I didn't get the feeling that they had any problems with it. After all, Tom had given me his blessings to date Will hours after burying Steve, even though that had been the last thing from my mind at the time.
We only had to wait about five minutes for Noah to arrive. He was dressed in tight clothes that showed off his physique and accentuated his bulging arms. Like me, he had clearly spent some time styling his chestnut-brown hair, something I hadn't seen him do before tonight. Without putting forth any effort into his appearance, he was easily a 'nine', but tonight, he looked like an 'eleven', and I couldn't help but stare for a moment. I caught his eyes, and the golden shimmer almost seemed to explode like fireworks into the calm summer air.
I quickly introduced Noah to Tom and Sarah, and the four of us engaged in small talk for a few minutes until the anticipation for events to come became too much for Sarah to take any longer.
"So, Noah, where exactly are we going for this therapeutic non-therapy? Scott hasn't told us anything, but he said it was because you've kept him in the dark as well."
"Actually, we're going to the coffee shop," Noah said with a grin.
I was definitely confused, and a quick glance at Tom and Sarah made it clear that I wasn't alone. I couldn't understand how hanging out at the coffee shop with a few people could count as therapy by any definition, or why it had to be tonight, when we could've just come any time this week. Sarah was the first to make the connection after staring at the storefront.
"Wait. It's karaoke night. Is that really your plan? I figured we were going to a spa, or getting drunk or something like that."
As soon as she said that, I couldn't restrain a laugh.
"Really, Noah? After all of the anticipation and avoiding questions, it's just karaoke? Why all the buildup for something so cheesy?"
As soon as I said that, he looked a little hurt, and I regretted my choice of words. He still had a smile on his face as he responded, though.
"It's not cheesy, I swear! But I knew you might think that it was. I really do think that if you come in with an open mind, you'll find it therapeutic, and I was worried you wouldn't want to do it at all if you knew what we were doing."
"I have to know how karaoke is supposed to be therapeutic," Sarah cut in. "I mean, all you do is get up and make an ass out of yourself in front of a room of strangers. And when you're not singing, you have to deal with great songs being slaughtered by horrible singers."
"Have you ever actually done karaoke before, Sarah?" Noah asked. He wasn't rude, but I could tell that he was a little frustrated that the three of us hadn't reacted the way he expected. I felt like my reaction was understandable. After all the buildup to this night, learning that we were just having a karaoke night felt almost anticlimactic.
"Of course I have. My sorority sisters and I went out several times in college and always made complete fools of ourselves. We always sang "Don't Stop Believing", and went a little bit crazy," she answered.
"Well, that is one of the things that I love about karaoke. The experience is whatever you want it to be. You can just sit and enjoy the company and conversation, or on the other extreme you can make a complete fool out of yourself. What I find therapeutic is taking the time to find the perfect song to express how you feel and then letting all of your emotions out on stage. I've found that the release is extremely cathartic. I've also found that the best performances you'll hear are from the people who are doing the same. They are singing for themselves and that definitely comes through in their performance."
"Okay, Mr. Smarty-Pants," Sarah sad with a chuckle, "I guess I can see where you're coming from. So you have a song picked out already, I take it?"
Any tone from disbelief about tonight was gone, and Noah's previous statement had made it clear to me what he expected from me and his cryptic comments on Monday made a lot more sense.
"I do, but I won't tell you what it is. You'll find out when I take the stage."
Noah stuck his tongue out at Sarah when he said that, catching Sarah off guard. She thought that her 'Mr. Smarty-Pants' comments would be sufficient juvenile one-upmanship, but he had proven her wrong. Since I hadn't been in jovial moods during much of my time since I'd met Noah, this was a side that I hadn't seen much of, but I was already beginning to enjoy it.
Before we went inside, Noah reminded us again that we didn't have to sing if we didn't want to, and that he wasn't going to force us to spend lots of time deciding on songs. We also didn't have to focus on picking songs that perfectly fit our emotions, even though that's what he had already done.
"I want you all to have fun, if nothing else. I find the whole experience to be incredibly relaxing, other than the small wave of nervousness that hits right before you begin to sing. If you find the night therapeutic, then great, but I'm not going to try to push anything on any of you," he explained.
Despite, or possibly because of his remonstrations, I was determined to pick the perfect song, if for no other reason than to make him happy.
– – – * * * – – –
Inside, we ordered our drinks and found an empty table. I sat down on one side, and Sarah and Tom sat on the other as Noah went ahead and submitted his song request with the DJ. I was surprised that the coffee shop was as busy as it was, but then again, I'd only been there a few times, and hadn't even known that they hosted a karaoke night.
As soon as Noah returned, Sarah got an evil grin on her face, jumped up, and went to turn in a submission of her own. Tom, for his part, was taking Noah's words about finding the right song to heart. He was looking through the catalog of songs almost as if he were reading a book. I hadn't had a chance to look, nor was I necessarily thinking about a song yet. I just wanted to enjoy the night and let it progress on its own.
The four of us sat there for awhile in relative silence, just listening to the other singers. As would be expected a few were horrible, but most were passable, and we were definitely enjoying ourselves. One woman even sang a very powerful version of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" that I felt was even better than the original.
Immediately after she had finished, the entire room was on their feet in a rousing round of applause, us included. She was clearly a regular and a crowd favorite. After everyone had settled down again, the DJ got on the microphone to call up the next singer.
"I always feel bad for whoever has to follow Suze, but someone has to. Fortunately, next up is someone that I know can hold his own. Give it up for Noah!"
We all wished Noah luck as he headed up to the stage. The audience's reaction to Noah's name being called was subdued compared to the reaction that the previous singer had gotten, despite the cheers from the three of us.
Before the music started, Noah addressed the crowd through the microphone.
"I would like to take a moment to dedicate this song to Scott, along with anyone else who feels like they've hit rock bottom."
With that, the familiar first chords of James Taylor's "You've got a Friend" filled the room. I suddenly realized that I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation. Noah sat on a stool on the edge of the small stage and began to sing.
[LINK TO SONG]
I couldn't believe my ears. I figured that Noah's voice would be decent, but I was wrong; it was amazing. The smooth, sultry tenor that emanated from him fit the song perfectly, and I was completely enraptured. My shirt could have caught on fire, and I wouldn't have noticed.
By the time Noah had gotten to the bridge, I had tears streaming down my face. A quick glance to the other two showed me that they were just as moved. Sarah was dabbing her eyes with a napkin, and Tom was trying to casually dry his eyes with his sleeve. He saw me notice, and managed a meek grin in embarrassment for being caught.
When Noah finished, I was the first audience member on my feet but definitely not the last. The reaction from the rest of the audience was on par with the one they gave the previous singer, as Noah had filled the classic with all of his heart and soul.
When Noah returned the table, I pulled him into a deep embrace. I gently whispered a 'thank you' in his ear before sitting back down. Sarah and Tom also gave him quick hugs before he returned to his seat.
Without thinking about it, I pushed my chair a little closer to Noah's and allowed my leg to touch his. Even through our pants, I could feel a jolt of electricity, and I saw Noah visibly tense. I made no efforts to pull away and was happy that Noah didn't either. I'm sure that he thought it was entirely accidental, and it took all of my effort to not lean into his body.
Tom was still studying the catalog like there was going to be an exam on the song selection, and I still hadn't bothered to pick out a song yet. I realized that I needed to do so, and soon. When the next singer was finished, Sarah was called up. She stood with the same evil grin she gave when she went to submit her song. Tom burst out laughing, so I realized that he had figured out whatever her scheme was, but a glance to Noah let me know that I wasn't the only one in the dark.
Like Noah had, Sarah spoke before the music began. "Scott, listen carefully to the words in the chorus. And anyone who thinks that karaoke can be therapeutic can suck it!"
Noah let out a loud laugh, indicating that I was now the only one still clueless. That lasted just long enough for the first few chords of the famously overplayed Journey song came out of the speakers.
[LINK TO SONG]
Noah laughed the entire time that Sarah sang. It didn't help that she kept making faces at him the entire time. By the time she got to the end of "Don't Stop Believing", I am ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears. In my defense, she had done so much for me since Steve had died, and this was just one more way of showing how much she cared. That was what moved me to tears, not the cheesy 80's power ballad. As Sarah left the stage, the DJ sarcastically thanked her for such an original choice.
When Sarah returned to the table, we all gave her a hugs and offered praise. She made it clear to Noah that she wouldn't give him the pleasure of admitting that it was somewhat therapeutic, which made all of us laugh. All of us knew that was as good as her telling everyone that Noah had been right, and she was wrong.
By that point, I really needed to pick out a song. I knew what I wanted to sing about, but didn't have a clue as to what song. I grabbed the catalog from Tom, who was still reading it as if it held lost secrets within. Before he could even object, I opened to a random page, and picked a song at random. There must have been some level of divine intervention, as the song was even more perfect than anything I would have normally chosen. Granted, I knew I'd make a complete fool of myself, but I wasn't sure that could be helped.
I quickly handed the catalog back to Tom, and walked up to submit my song. Tom still hadn't found the perfect song, and kept reading the catalog as if it were a user's manual.
Since the coffee shop was busy, I had a while to wait before it was my turn to go. The four of us just continued to talk and listen to the other singers. My leg kept contact with Noah's the entire time. I was tempted to move it and see if he would move his to reinitiate the contact, but I was worried that he wouldn't. I was really enjoying the closeness to him, and didn't want to lose it.
I began to get really nervous, knowing that it was nearing my turn to sing. Shortly before the DJ called my name up, I spoke to Noah.
"I have to warn you, I'm not a very good singer. I'm really worried that my performance won't be any good."
Tom, who was the only person in the group who had ever heard me sing before, let out a chuckle, which I interpreted as agreement with my assessment of my vocal abilities.
"Scott, like I said before, this isn't about how well you sing. I know you, just put your heart into it, and it'll show in the song. Besides, I'm sure you're much better than you realize."
For a moment, I wondered if he was referring to something more than just my singing ability, but I didn't have a chance to dwell on it. The DJ was calling me up to sing.
"Okay, next we have Scott. Interesting choice; I hope you know what you're doing."
I hoped so, too. Noah patted my leg as I stood up and wished me good luck. I felt electricity shoot through me as he did that, and as I tensed, I saw him blush. I really hoped I was doing the right thing.
As I climbed the steps to the stage, I began to feel really nervous. I grabbed the microphone from the DJ and said in a very weak and shaky voice, "I'd like to dedicate this song to my husband, Steve, because I know that he's always there, watching over me."
Just before the music started, I glanced over to Noah. I noticed that he was still smiling, but his face looked pained. His eyes weren't twinkling. I didn't have a chance to fully process it, however, before the music began.
As soon as the first notes came out of the speakers, I could hear the crowd gasp. I'm sure they thought that the DJ had put the wrong song on. They had no idea what they were in for.
As I was about to sing, it was as if the entire room went black.
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I'd like to thank my readers for all the wonderful comments I have received. A very special thanks to those of you have emailed me. Please, keep them coming!!!!
Again, I am very sorry for the delay. As I've posted in every chapter, and in the majority of emails I've responded to, my story is also hosted at http://fitz.thestorycloset.org. If you register for the website, you can subscribe to "Fitz's Subscribed Readers Forum", which is located at the bottom of the forum.
To answer any questions about why I did the karaoke this way and not actually include the lyrics, it's simple: Song lyrics are copyrighted material, and technically I'd need the permission of the owner of the rights (meaning the person who wrote the song, and an some cases the artist who performed it AND the record label) in order to legally use them. However, use of their music on YouTube constitutes 'fair use' and can be replicated, with few exceptions – readers in a few countries in Europe will not be able to hear 'Don't Stop Believing' by Journey.
I also have a few announcements. I have added a Facebook group. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going to go with it, but I figure it'll be a good place for people to socialize about the story (or whatever else). It is a 'secret group', meaning nothing posted in the group is visible to nonmembers, and the group does not show up on your profile. However, searching for the group will bring up the name and the members of the group, so it is not completely safe from prying eyes. The name of the group is 'Moving On', and all content will be kept at a PG-13 level. All are welcome to join by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226097850809679/.
The second major announcement is that I've rolled out my own site (well my own free site, but whatever). I originally made it to make proofing easier, and I'll probably continue to post chapters there a few days prior to posting to TSC and Nifty with no announcement, and possibly riddled with errors. If you see any, please feel free to let me know. Despite the website's address, it also hosts the half-complete dummy chapter I started for a new story I'm currently brainstorming. A large part of the reason I haven't been working on Moving On as much as I should is that I've been working on that. What's posted is rough and has not been edited (hell, I didn't even bother finishing the last sentence). What's there will probably make it into the final story, but I'm not sure yet. We'll have to wait and see! Consider this your reward for being so patient! Anyways, my stories can also be found at http://movingonstory.weebly.com.
Alright...enough meaningless rambling! Don't forget to send me feedback, sign up for the Facebook group if you want, and please visit my new site!!
Don't forget to send me any questions or comments to email@example.com.