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 email@example.com. I haven't been doing well responding to emails in a timely manner recently, but hopefully I'll do better.
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. They have been amazing, and any errors that remain are mine and mine alone. Thank you!
I don't really have an excuse this time for the delay. Time got away from me, and a lot of life happened. All I can do is work to keep providing chapters in a timely manner as way of apology.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
EARTHQUAKES AND CONFRONTATIONS
Without even thinking about what I was doing, I pulled back and punched him as hard as I could. I'd never done that before, and I couldn't believe how much it hurt. It always looked so easy in movies. Before Will even realized what had happened, I was already out of the coffee shop and heading back to my car, tears streaming down my face. I don't know what had happened to cause such a dramatic change in Will, but this was not the Will that I thought I knew.
I was a wreck by the time I got home. Tom and Sarah tried their best to console me, but I could barely force myself to function at all the entire weekend. I tried calling Noah a few times over the course of the weekend, but the phone always went straight to voicemail. When his message came on, I hung up, even hearing his voice prerecorded hurt me deeper than I would have expected.
Friday night and Saturday night, Tom and Sarah insisted that I join them in bed. I think they were worried about how badly I had slipped backwards, considering everything I had through over the past few weeks was, at least in part, due to my burgeoning feelings for Noah.
I slept in my own bed Sunday night, despite the protestations by Tom and Sarah. I'm sure that they were getting frustrated by my lingering presence in their personal bubble, even if they never said anything about it, especially now that their relationship was out in the open. Besides, I knew that I needed to work through things on my own. I did sleep on Steve's side, and I could still feel his presence, even if it didn't feel quite as warm and comforting as it did before we said our goodbyes.
I awoke to a light knocking on my door. I hadn't even quite become alert enough to answer the door when Tom poked his head in.
"Sorry for waking you, Scott," he started. Even through my bleary vision, I could see the concern etched in his face. I rubbed my eyes, and forced myself to sit up in the bed.
"Considering that you only do things like this when they're important, I'll hesitantly forgive you in advance," I replied, with only a hint of a half-smile. When he didn't respond in kind, I could only assume that whatever was going on, the situation really was that dire. Because there was no way that my razor-sharp wit had fallen flat.
"Look, I woke up early and was deep in thought. This whole thing with Noah and Zack just seems fishy to me. I'm not sure that Will was entirely honest with you. Every aspect of how you described the encounter just screams manipulation. I just think..."
"Don't tell me that you think I should go play kissy-face with Noah and pretend nothing ever happened!" I said, my voice quickly beginning to rise in anger.
Tom quickly threw up his arms.
"Whoa! That's not what I mean at all! What I was going to say was that I think you should meet up with him today. Ask him where he was. I wouldn't suggest that you pry, since you guys are really just starting down a path together, but you can at least judge his reaction to your questions and be able to ferret out the truth.
"That's the important part. Just listen to him. Neither you nor I have witnessed or heard of any reason why Noah has not been completely forthcoming. So pay attention to what he has to say. Don't let your anger get in the way and ruin something that could be great. With that said, if Will's accusation was accurate, I call dibs on seconds for kicking his rear."
"Thanks, Tom. That really means a lot. You know, it's been a while since you've given me really good brotherly advice. I miss that. Now what time is it?" I quickly glanced at the clock. "Shit! I gotta hurry and get ready if I'm going to be ready for a throw-down in the gym." I immediately knew that my wit had returned when Tom cracked a smile, despite every effort to not.
Tom left, and I quickly showered, shaved, styled my hair, and dressed to kill. If I was going to be ending my first relationship post-Steve only a few days after it began, I was going to do it in style. I may jump to conclusions and manage my emotions poorly, but I am not generally a jealous person. Still, I don't share. If I wasn't enough to be the only man in Noah's life, I wasn't going to be in it at all.
Sarah stopped me on the way out the door to give me a hug, and wish me luck "confronting the two-timing bastard", in her words, and on that note, I was out the door on my way to do just that.
* * *
As had become the norm, I parked and walked to the gym. I saw Noah as I approached, and for a second our eyes met. His eyes sparkled, and I felt my knees go weak for a moment before I forced my eyes away. I'm not sure if he noticed or not, because I was purposely avoiding looking at his face and his hypnotic gaze.
Anger began to course through me, and despite the fact that I spent the entire drive repeating Tom's words over and over again, I found myself losing my cool. Noah had just raised his arm to embrace me when I shouted, "Where the FUCK where you this weekend?! I thought you cared about me, but what am I? Just another notch on your fucking bedpost?"
I knew I was making a scene, but I didn't care. I did care about the look of confusion and hurt on Noah's face as I went off, but I was too riled up to stop.
"I don't know what you're so upset about! I'm sorry I didn't return your calls, but what the fuck are you talking about? It's not like we've even had sex or anything! I know we've only known each other for a few weeks, but I really thought you knew me better than that!"
"Then who the fuck is Zach?"
Noah immediately went pale and froze with a look of shock like he'd just been slapped.
"H...h...how do you know about Zach?"
"That's completely irrelevant, but despite how screwed up Will has been acting, he at least has been honest and forthcoming. How could you start a relationship with me while you were seeing some other guy? Did you really think that I'd date someone who was seeing other people?"
"Scott, look: this is all one big misunderstanding. And I've really screwed this whole thing up. Maybe working out isn't such a good idea after all today."
"Oh I see how it is. I won't go along quietly with your little game, so you're just gonna brush me aside. I opened myself up to someone for the first time since my husband died, and you're just looking for a new addition to your harem! I've had about all I can take of this shit. I'm out of here"
As I turned to leave, Noah grabbed my arm. I tried to shrug him off, but he spun me back around to face him.
"No. I meant that we should get
some coffee so I can talk to you and explain some things I should have told you
before I even kissed you. That wasn't fair to you. Just let me explain, and
then you can decide if you still want anything to do with me, but I hope to God
I took a breath and felt the anger dissipate as Tom's words entered my mind again. I decided that it couldn't hurt to listen to what he had to say and decide from there if his explanation was believable or not. I took a deep breath before saying, "Yeah, I guess it's only fair to hear what you have to say."
We walked next door to the coffee shop. As I walked in, I saw Will sitting by the door. He looked shocked when he noticed the two of us walking in together, but he no doubt could feel the tension radiating between Noah and myself.
We got our coffees with no words passing between us before choosing a quiet table in the back of the shop. We were silent for a few minutes before he cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry, Scott. I'm not really sure where to start. I know you deserved to know all this before we started seeing each other, but I just couldn't figure out the best way to bring it up." He chuckled slightly. "In hindsight, just about any way would have been better than this.
"Anyway, let me start from the beginning. When I was still in school, I knew this girl named Willow. Honestly, I'm not even sure if she was a student or not, but she was a lot of the same parties I was. We were somewhat friendly, but I could tell not as friendly as she'd like, if you get my drift."
"She wanted a relationship with you?"
"Yeah, but the whole 'being gay' thing kinda precluded the idea of dating a girl in my mind. One party, we were talking, and she offered to refill my cup. The beer tasted funny, but she warned me that she thought the keg might have gone skunky or something, and I had already had a couple, so I didn't really think much of it.
"I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure she slipped something in my drink. I don't remember much more of that night, and the next thing I remember is waking up naked in bed with her. She was all over me, and I was completely disgusted with myself."
I was so enthralled with the story that I didn't notice Noah get out his wallet or pull something out of it.
"I told Willow off, and she acted like I was breaking up with her. I didn't see her for nearly a year. But then she showed up at my apartment with a lawyer. Apparently more came out of that night than me losing my virginity to a woman."
Noah held up a small piece of paper. "This is Zach. I should have told you about him from the beginning, but I was too worried about what you'd think or say."
With that, he slid a photo of a young boy across the table to me.
"Zach isn't my boyfriend. He's my son."
I heard the words he said, but I was unable to make sense of them. I wasn't even sure he'd even said something in English.
"I have a son. Zach. He's four."
"Yeah, that's what I've been saying," Noah responded. I noticed that he was trying to hold back a grin at this point, and I realized that I was being incredibly dense and acting like a broken record.
"Why didn't you tell me that you had a son?"
"At first, I didn't tell you, because I wanted you to be able to control where the conversation went. As we got closer, I didn't tell you because I was afraid it would scare you away. I didn't even know how to start. I should have told you, and I'm very sorry that I never did."
I couldn't stop myself at this point. I grabbed his hand in mine.
"No. I understand. It's a lot to take in. I guess that's part of the reason I didn't tell you about Steve at first, either. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry I blew up at you earlier."
"Actually, I don't think you have any reason to apologize. Will manipulated your emotions and you reacted the same way that I'd probably react based on what you were told," Noah said with a genuine smile as he squeezed my hand to show that there were no hard feelings.
Getting back to the topic at hand, I asked, "So that's where you go every weekend? Why didn't you at least return my calls when you heard my messages?"
"Yeah, I only get to see him Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and even then it's only supervised visitation. After our wonderful night, it completely slipped my mind to remind you I'd be gone. I turned my phone off so I wouldn't be disturbed, and completely forgot about it. It's something I do every time I go, and I didn't think about telling you. I forgot to turn it back on until this morning. I got your messages, but since I was going to be seeing you soon, I figured I could just wait until I saw you to apologize for leaving without telling you. I also figured I'd come clean about him today. I still hadn't figured out how. This might not have been the best way of you to find out about Zach, but at least it's in the open now."
We sat in silent for a few minutes while I digested everything that Noah had just told me. His story made perfect sense, and I know how hard I avoided the subject of my husband while we were getting to know each other better. If I had been in his place, I can't say that I would have done anything differently. Sure, he probably should have told me about Zach, but he never actually lied about it. For that matter, neither did Will, but Will deliberately misconstrued the information and led me to believe that something far more nefarious was underfoot.
I quickly knew exactly what I needed to know. "Can I meet him?"
Before Noah could even respond, a commotion from the other side of the coffee shop distracted us. Will had stood up so quickly that he'd knocked his chair over. Noah and I watched as Will dashed out the door, wiping tears from his eyes.
"It's like I don't even know Will anymore. I've never seen him act this vindictively. It wasn't his place to tell you about my boy, and it certainly wasn't his place to portray him as someone that I was involved with. I know he had feelings for you, but I just don't understand why he's doing this," Noah said angrily.
"I'm beginning to think that he's not nearly as over me as he claimed to be. Maybe he's even jealous of you. He saw an opportunity to possible break us up easily, and he fought dirty. I'm not sure why he'd think that would improve his chances, but maybe it's just the idea that if he can't have me then no one can...I guess..." I said, trailing off a little at the end.
"Is meeting him something you actually want?" Noah asked, returning to the subject at hand. "I'd be more than happy for you to, but only if it's what YOU want. I'm not going to stop seeing him as much as I can, but if you want to stay out of that part, I'd understand. Guys get really weird when they find out I'm a father."
I quickly reached across the table and grabbed his hand again.
"It's part of being in a relationship. He's important to you. That means he's important to me. Besides, I love kids." I felt a brief wave of sadness wash over me. "We had always planned on having kids one day. Me and Steve, that is." I diverted my eyes and lowered my head a little. It was hard to bring up future plans that Steve and I had made to Noah. It almost felt like I was being unfaithful to Noah. I felt Noah's fingertips on my chin as he gently lifted my head.
"Don't do that. Don't be ashamed about your relationship with Steve. You were together a long time, and to say it ended unexpectedly would be a massive understatement. You two made all sorts of plans together. It's inevitable that you'll think of him, and those plans, from time to time. I can't promise to never be even the slightest bit hurt by them, but I can promise to always be understanding.
"Anyway, if you want, you can come with me this weekend to meet him. If that's not too soon, I mean."
"That sounds great! He won't have a problem with me?"
"He won't. Willow probably will, though. I should warn you: she is completely unfit. I don't know how she managed to con the judge during the custody hearings. Maybe it was just the fact that I'm gay. But she's a junkie, possibly a whore, and I keep thinking that maybe she's hurting Zach. I couldn't prove anything enough to keep her from getting custody, and despite the efforts by my lawyers, I got stuck with supervised visitation. Not that Willow usually pays any attention when I'm around. After fighting for anything for so long, I'm just grateful for anything I can get."
I leaned across the table and gave Noah a gentle kiss on the lips. "Well, I can't wait to meet him."
Noah and I stayed at the café for several hours just talking and getting to know each other more. He told me story after story about Zach and warned me repeatedly about how unfit Willow was to be a parent.
* * *
On Tuesday, we resumed our morning workouts. While we were working out, the conversation was always kept light, but each evening we spent time at my house talking. Those conversations weren't nearly as light, but we'd both realized that our relationship was getting serious fast. We both had baggage that we needed to discuss, even if the biggest pieces we each carried had already been revealed.
Wednesday Night, Noah revealed a lot of his past to me.
"I'm an only child, and I grew up here in the city. My parents were both in 10th grade when Mom got pregnant. They dropped out, got married, and worked hard to keep the utilities on and the family fed, but they made sure that I never lacked anything I needed. They loved each other very much, and if they ever regretted the life we had, they never showed it. My mom's parents disowned her when they found out, and my dad's parents died shortly after I was born. For as long as I can remember, my mom had dreamed of visiting Rome. When I was 17, Dad surprised her on their anniversary with plane tickets he had been saving up for years to be able to afford." A tear slid down his cheek as I recalled reading about a flight to Rome.
"No..." was all I could say, but he just nodded his head and wiped his eyes before continuing.
"Yes. They were both on Air Italy Flight 115. It crashed about 20 minutes after takeoff due to improperly maintained equipment. No one survived."
We sat there in silence with my arm around his back. Eventually, he continued to unravel his past.
"The airline was quickly subject to a class-action lawsuit, and Mom's parents were suddenly very interested in being a part of my life. About the only good thing they ever did for me was make sure that I got the wrongful death settlement for both of my parents. I didn't really want the blood money, but I sure as hell wasn't giving a penny to my grandparents. I'd never even met them before the plane crash! By the time the check arrived, I was already 18, so they weren't able to control the funds at all. Once they realized that I wasn't giving them any money, they disappeared from my life as quickly as they had entered. I haven't heard from them since.
"I finished high school, and went to college in town. I was offered a football scholarship, but I turned it down. I didn't care about football anymore. I was very depressed and had more money than I knew what to do with. It wasn't a good combination, and it wasn't long before the school decided that it was probably better if we parted ways. I rented a studio apartment across town, and I've been there ever since. I blew a good bit of the money early on, but since then I've become pretty frugal. I keep waiting for some inspiration to strike and motivate me to take charge again, but until, I can keep living off the settlement money.
"Someone once asked me how I could stand living off the blood money. The way I see it, they wanted me to have as much of a life as possible, and as morbid as it is, their deaths gave me the economic freedom to live without any cares. I do want to be inspired to do something with my life, but I just haven't been. It's not that I'm still depressed about their deaths, even though I do miss them greatly. I just haven't figured out what I want to do, and the benefit and curse of the money is that I don't really have to. Hopefully that doesn't make me sound like a lazy and unmotivated loser!"
I chuckled. "Maybe a little, but I understand. Having this insurance money from Steve has left me feeling the same way: I have the money to keep life as normal, why shouldn't I only do things that make me happy? Then I remember that I really do love my job. And I'm surprised you actually have a place to live. I haven't been invited over, but you've certainly been around here a good bit!"
Now it was Noah's turn to laugh. "It's an efficiency, you dolt. You see one one-room living-space, you've seen them all. Hell, those model rooms in Ikea feel larger than my place!"
"Dolt, huh?!" I said, giving him a playful shove. He retaliated by unfairly leaning in and kissing me. Talk about cheating!
We sat in quiet companionship for a while, before he took the dangling carrot. "I know you are a web designer, but what is it Steve did? You mentioned insurance money, so I'm imagining that he made sure that you would be taken care of if anything were to happen."
"Steve was a lawyer. A damn good lawyer. He could talk his way out of anything if he had his mind set about it. As a result, he never lacked for clients. I used to make very good money as a web designer, but I lost most of my clients when I was too depressed to function. Only the most loyal remained. Things are slowly starting to pick up again, though."
"Anyway, back on point, Steve was excellent at managing money and playing the markets. He had invested wisely, and we profited greatly from his talents. He was also paranoid. As soon as we started to make solid gains on our investments, he took out a five-million dollar life-insurance policy on each of us." Noah's eyes bulged when he heard the number.
"Wow. That's a helluva lot more than I got from the airline! I've been frugal with my money, and don't have a lot of things to spend it on."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Part of the reason we were able to start saving up so much money is that we were never big spenders. Even when our income grew, our budget barely changed from our college days. Regarding the insurance, it's all been invested well, and so far I've only touched the principal to pay for funeral costs. Everything else has been from the interest. I don't really have any plans to use much of it. Not because of where it came from, but because I just don't need to.
"Anyway, I know what you mean about blood money. I know I'm supposed to feel bad about getting this money from Steve's death, but even in my grief, I always knew that he wanted it to be there to make life just a little bit easier for me to deal with."
We continued to sit on the couch and chat a little longer that evening. Thursday, Noah came over and cooked dinner for the four of us. Before I knew it, it was Friday morning, and the time had come to meet Noah's son.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.
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 'closed 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/.
I also have my own basic free site where I've also been posting my story! The address is http://movingonstory.weebly.com. Not only does it host all current chapters of Moving On, but it also is the only place where you can get a sneak peak at Angels Among Us (which to be fair, I haven't really worked on much, and I even ended what's posted midsentence...oops!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.