This story 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.
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 www.jaygordanstories.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. He has been amazing, and any errors that remain are mine alone.
My story is also hosted at fitz.thestorycloset.org, which will likely be updated more frequently than here. Later chapters may require you to register with the site, which is free. They also have discussion forums and a chat room where you can talk to me and other authors from the site.
I have several chapters finished, but I will be slowing down to posting about once a week here on nifty to allow myself to continue to stay ahead. If I start to fall behind in my posting, I'll be sure to let people know.
Enjoy the story! ~Fitz
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Soon enough, my plane landed, and I took my time returning to the main terminal. I wasn't trying to dawdle in hopes of blowing off Tom, although I have to admit that I considered it. I hoped that by stalling, my head would clear a little. I wasn't ready for this, but I didn't have much choice. Besides, I knew that that I would probably never be ready.
Tom met me as soon as I walked up the stairs from the security area. He had already gotten my bags. I was struck by the fact that I immediately noticed the ways that Tom differed from Steve, and only then took into account the many ways that they were similar. I was seeing Tom as Tom and not as a surrogate Steve. Maybe this wouldn't be as hard as I thought. I suddenly realized that I must have been staring at him.
"Is everything okay? First you take forever to get from your plane, and then you just stare at me."
"Sorry, I was just trying to clear my head. And right now, I was noticing all the ways that you're not Ste...him."
"That's good enough for me. I was really worried how you'd react. Are you hungry? We might as well get some food before we get out of here. I'm not sure I'll want to stop once we leave, and neither one of us will be hungry after..." Tom just left his voice trail off.
We both knew what he was going to say, and neither one of us really wanted to vocalize that thought.
We grabbed a quick bite at one of the sit down restaurants in the main terminal. We chatted, not really talking about ourselves. It was actually really nice. Tom and I had been really close before Steve died. Sometimes Steve would joke that it was because I was hoping to bag both of them. Either way, I really missed having my good friend by my side.
"Scott, I'm actually planning on staying a while with you, if that okay."
"Yeah, that should be fine. It feels good to have you back in my life. Is everything okay?"
"For the most part, but I just miss having you around. You were always my other best friend. Besides, I know that a part of you needs me there, whether or not you'll admit it."
We kept talking for a while after we finished. I know the waiter was getting irritated, but both of us were avoiding our next stop. Before we left, we did have a minor confrontation.
"Scott, I just wanted to let you know that I've been talking with your parents, Dustin and Michelle, and Ethan and Emma. I know what all went down everywhere. I know the destructive ways you tried to avoid coping with your grief. I also know that you're doing a little better. What I need you to realize is that I need you as much as, if not more than, you need me. You have no idea how much pain I've been in."
"What the hell do you mean by that? I lost the love of my life that day. And you think that I have no idea how much pain YOU'VE been in? What the fuck would you know about it? You've never been in love." My voice kept getting louder, as I let my anger take control.
"Yeah, and you've never had a twin," he said quietly, wiping a tear from his eyes.
My jaw just dropped. While I had been almost yelling by the end of my response, his rebuttal was almost a whisper. I slumped back in the chair as reality hit again.
"Look, I think that we're just both really tense about this afternoon. We both had an extremely special connection to an extraordinary person. Neither of us know how to put our feelings into perspective. Tom, I didn't mean it."
"Yes, you did. Or at least part of you did. But I know what you're saying. That part of our brains that censors our irrational thoughts seems to be on the fritz for both of us. You especially, no offense."
I just offered him a thin smile, which he returned. We grabbed my bags and began to walk to the car. We drove in silence to the cemetery.
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It didn't take us long to reach the cemetery. After Tom parked, we just sat in the car for several minutes. Neither of us were quite ready to get out of the car. Just as I had done in the airport, we were simply delaying the inevitable.
Tom eventually got out of the car, unable to put it off any longer.
"I'll be there in a few minutes. I just need to gather my thoughts. And my courage." I told him quietly.
"That's fine. I'd like to have a few minutes by myself anyways, so I'll see you up there whenever you're ready. Remember, I'm here for you."
About ten minutes later, I summoned the nerve to join him. I slowly walked up the hill to Steve's headstone. My knees were weak, and it took all the strength I had to just put one foot in front of the other.
As soon as I approached the headstone, my knees finally gave out. I just lay there, clutching Steve's headstone, sobbing uncontrollably. All of the emotions that I had tried to bottle up came rushing out of me.
I'm not sure how long I lay there before I felt a warmth surround me. Suddenly, I heard Steve's voice speak to me for the first time since I left town all those months before. It was different than when he came to me in my dreams, more disjointed. It almost seemed like it was a rush of statements all spoken at once.
"I'm glad you're here."
"I forgive you for everything."
"I need you here."
"I need you to be strong."
"I still love you."
"You need to stay."
Just as suddenly as Steve's voice had appeared, it was gone. It was almost like a gentle breeze that stops suddenly. I realized that Tom was holding me.
"Did you just hear that?" I asked him, hopeful that I wasn't the only one who could hear Steve's voice.
"Hear what? I was just holding you and telling you that Steve still loves you and he forgives you for everything. I said a few other things too, but nothing important. I was just trying to comfort you."
That really was all that I could think of to say. I didn't know if Steve had spoken to me or if it was really Tom. Their voices are similar enough anyways, that it was possible that my mind confused them. But I couldn't understand how I had heard different words than the ones that Tom said he spoke. I might have questioned my sanity, but I already knew my mind wasn't working the way it should.
Besides, Steve had already appeared to me twice since he had died. I decided that it would be better to just not dwell on it. The sentiment was the same from either of them, so there was no harm either way.
We just lay there a little bit longer, not speaking, or even moving for that matter. Eventually, we got up, and slowly walked back towards the car.
"You know, I've been wondering about something ever since the funeral. I've always wondered where you went when you ran out."
"I wasn't really paying attention, but I ended up at a coffee shop about two miles from here. But you knew that part, didn't you? That's where I ran into Will."
"Do you want to walk it? I feel like moving around to clear my head. I just can't seem to shake this foggy feeling."
The whole idea of this walk seemed weird to me. It seemed out of character for Tom. I did like the idea of wandering and clearing my head, but I didn't know if I wanted to go back to the coffee shop in case Will was there. I wasn't sure I could deal with randomly running into him right now. Besides, Tom's car was here.
"What about your car? If we walk, we'd have to walk the two miles back."
Tom thought about it for a second. I began to think he had abandoned the idea.
"Nah, we can just take a cab back to the car if we don't feel like walking back."
"Why the coffee shop? It just seems like too specific of a destination for a random wander."
"It's a perfect destination. We just visited Steve, and now we are retracing the steps you took on the last day you were here. I'm not sure if it's closure, or what, but you probably were so far in your head that the run was not enjoyable"
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly in shape for a two mile run in the summer."
I just pointed at my gut.
"Hence why I suggested we walk. Besides, you haven't noticed where we are yet. We're now closer to the coffee shop than we are to the car. Now we might as well keep going."
I was surprised to notice that we had already walked about a mile.
"What the hell. We might as well keep going. I could definitely use an iced coffee or something, anyways."
We continued the rest of the way in near silence. Occasionally, we would utter a few words back and forth, before the silence once again engulfed us.
As we walked into the coffee shop, I immediately noticed that Will was sitting at a table facing the door. He looked surprised to see me, but not nearly as surprised as I was to see him. Will stood up, then was suddenly unsure as to whether he should hug me or shake my hand. I solved his dilemma by giving him a curt nod in acknowledgement.
"I didn't know you were back in town. What brings you back?" Will asked, clearly ignoring my attempts to be rude and dismissive.
"I know you know why I'm here." I responded icily.
Will looked hurt for a moment, and then it was as if a light bulb went off above his head. The hurt in his eyes changed to compassion.
"Has it been a year already?" He asked me.
"Today's the anniversary of his death. I really can't believe it's been a year since Steve died. It really just..."
I was going to keep talking, but that's when I realized what had slipped out of my mouth. I covered my mouth with my hands, as if I could prevent other words from slipping out as well. Will's face grew into a big grin.
"I'm really proud of you. It may not seem like much, but you're making progress. Trust me, it's a big deal."
I actually did believe him. As soon as I realized what I had said, I had expected a surge of pain and sadness to overwhelm me. Instead, I actually felt almost...well, good. Not entirely, though, and there was some pain. I began to realize why Will had pushed me from the first time we met to try to get me to say that Steve had died.
"Anyways, now that you know why I'm here, I'm curious as to why you are here. I remember you told me before I left that you rarely came here."
"Actually, I was supposed to meet Tom. He called and asked if he and I could talk this afternoon, and suggested that we meet here. I never expected him to bring you, though. Please, Scott, I'm not trying to --"
I was beginning to get angry at both of them. Tom had known about the stunt that Will pulled on me. I couldn't fathom towards what goal they were conspiring.
"Scott, listen," Tom began, "Will really didn't know you were coming. I'm not sure that he would have come had I told him my plan to get you to talk. I know you won't even consider seeing anyone officially, but Will was able to get you to come to life a little, from what Sarah has told me. It would be great for you to have someone to open up to again."
"I'm not sure I can do that after what happened."
I realized that I was talking to Tom about Will as if he wasn't standing right next to us.
I didn't know what else to say at the moment, so I just let my voice trail off. Tom jumped right back in.
"Well, maybe you can get a sense of closure, if nothing else. Sit with him. Talk about what happened, your feelings, whatever. Just don't run off. I'm going to go ahead and catch a cab back to my car. Do you want some money for cab fare for yourself?"
I just shook my head.
"Ok, I'll see you back at your house," he called over his shoulder, already half-way out the door.
"Scott, please believe me. I really didn't know you were coming. Had I known that, I would have called you or something. Please tell me that you know that I wouldn't try to hurt you more than I already have."
"I do believe you. Why don't we at least sit down or something before people start staring at us."
We both took our seats and then just sat there staring at our hands. I don't think that either of us really knew how to start the conversation we needed to have. Finally, I took the initiative.
"Look, Will. I don't hate you or anything like that. I hope you know that. I just never thought of you that way. I'm not sure if I could ever think of you that way. Suddenly it all just became too much for me to handle. I just HAD to get the fuck out of this city."
He seemed surprised that I wasn't still angry. Sure, what he did had really messed with my mind, but that was nothing compared to what I did to myself while I was visiting my Dustin and Michelle.
"Scott. I really don't know what came over me that night. I thought you had been possibly moving on. You had been doing so much better, you were talking about Steve less and less, and you were smiling regularly. If I remember right, I think I even got you to chuckle, if not laugh, a few times. I really thought at the time that you were making your intentions clear when you held my hand the whole way home from the play."
I could feel myself begin to get angry, and was about to cut in, but Will held his hand up, indicating that he wanted to at least finish his thoughts before I tore him a new one.
"I realize now that I had misread the signs altogether. In fact, I think in hindsight that I may have just been looking for an excuse. I'm really sorry for taking advantage of your trust in me."
He looked at me, and I realized that he expected an answer. With what he had just confessed, I really didn't have an answer, nor was I prepared to give one.
"Me too," I said after a few moments. It was really the only thing I could think of to say.
"Do you think that you'll ever be able to forgive me? Or trust me?"
Again, I had to think briefly before I could come up with a response.
"Honestly, after what you just told me, it will take a while for me to forgive you, but I think I can. Eventually. Had I not known that you may have known at the time that it was wrong, it would be easier for me to do so, but I'm glad I know. It's better than if I had found out later. But as far as trust...I'm just not sure about that one."
"No, I understand. And honestly, it's completely fair. I'm just glad that you seem to be moving on, though. You were in so much pain"
"I'm not sure that I'm moving on. I'm still not entirely convinced that I want to."
Whatever had happened in the cemetery earlier seemed to have altered my mood a little. Those words, which only a few days before had incited a panic within me, just seemed to really scare me. I remembered that Steve said there was a relationship between forgetting and moving on, but I didn't quite know how to interpret it yet. Since they were treated separately by Steve, I was beginning to wonder if they should be treated as separate concepts as well.
"After you left, I spent a lot of time thinking. I really was deluding myself. Scott, I really like you. I tried to put those feelings aside, but I just can't. I know you could never return those feelings, especially after I fucked everything up, but is there any way you can see us continuing to be friends? If I can't have you in my life at all, it'll make me very sad."
Will cast his eyes down towards his lap. I noticed that he was blinking quickly, trying to keep tears from forming. I wanted to feel bad for him, but I really couldn't. It took my several minutes to form my thoughts. To his credit, Will seemed to know that I needed some time to think, and never pressured me.
"I don't know if we can ever be good friends again, Will. I really did view you as a brother and confidant, and you shattered that view."
He had looked up hopefully when I started talking, but now he could no longer try to blink away the tears.
"I think we might be able to salvage some level of friendship, though it will be hard work on both of our parts."
Will's hopeful look had returned, adorned with an air of confusions.
"I get what I would have to work hard on in order for a friendship to work between the two of us, but what would you have work on?" He asked.
"Just being your friend. That will be very tough for me. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be harsh, it's just the way I feel right now." I explained.
"No, I understand," Will replied shakily as he wiped another tear from the corner of his eye.
We sat there quietly for about twenty minutes, just staring at our coffee cups, neither of us really sure what to say. I probably would have just left, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this conversation wasn't over yet, and I knew that both of us owed it to each other to see the conversation through until the end.
Finally, it was Will who broke the silence.
"You know, I have a good friend who I turned to talk to after you left. He's a really good listener, if you're interested in meeting him."
"This isn't an attempt to set me up with a shrink is it?" I couldn't help but crack a small smile as I asked.
"Not at all. I'm not sure why you hold us in such low regards, but I actually met him at the gym a few years ago. We worked out together for a while and then started hanging out. He's actually become one of my best friends. Especially since you..." Will's voice trailed off.
"After I left." I finished for him.
I looked back down at my coffee mug. I knew that my leaving would hurt him, but I had hoped that Sarah would have explained it better than I could have at the time, and that he would understand. I figured that he would hate me for it, but I never thought that he would blame himself as badly as he clearly had been. Granted, a large part of me blamed him, but that's not the point.
"I appreciate the offer, I really do. But I have to think about it. I'm not looking to be set up, or to really meet any new people at this point. I just want to try to pull my life back together."
"I understand, but don't think for a moment that I'm trying to set you up. I remember how much you opened up to me, and I really think a lot of that had to do with me being a stranger. I didn't know you, had no idea of your pain, and there was no way I could directly relate to your feelings. Anything you told me stayed with me, if for no other reason than I didn't know anyone you knew. Who could I have told? Besides, as a psychologist, I take doctor/patient confidentiality seriously, even if you were never my patient.
"The offer to meet my friend stands. Just think about it."
Now it was Will's turn for his eyes to drop to his coffee cup.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you might want to consider going to the gym. However you were coping while you were away has led to you becoming a little soft."
I couldn't help but get a little angry. I know he was trying to be a friend and offer some advice, but it was far too soon for me to be able to take it. I'm glad he didn't let me cut him off before I said something I would eventually regret.
"You still look great, don't get me wrong. But you've told me how much you and Steve used to enjoy going to the gym. I'm not trying to replace him in any way, but I usually go to the gym in the evenings if you're interested in coming with me. I know you're not ready to be friends, but maybe we could be gym buddies. You wouldn't even really have to talk to me."
I sighed. I knew he was right about my body. Ever since I had packed on 20 pounds at Emma and Ethan's house, I had hated my looks. Especially considering that Steve would have been on my case to get back into shape had he still been alive.
"I guess I can give gym buddies a shot. No guarantees that I'll continue it, but I'll meet with you once and then we'll take it from there. Does that work for you?"
"That'd be great. Maybe pumping up the adrenaline a little will also make you start to feel more normal, too. Tomorrow is Sunday, so why don't we meet up on Monday in front of the gym. It's just a few doors down the street if you hadn't noticed it before."
"I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have to know something. I need you to swear that you have no intentions of trying to make a move on me, and will let any friendship that might develop take its natural course. No interference."
"None, whatsoever. I really appreciate you giving me a chance to continue to be a part of your life. I really wish that we had met at a different point in your life. You are a great guy, and I think we could have become really good friends, and I know that I fucked it all up. I'm just grateful for any chance to try to rectify my errors."
One look in Will's eyes told me everything I needed to know. If the fact that his voice was wavering and straining hadn't been enough, he's eyes made it clear that he was being as sincere as he could be. I really liked the idea of working out, and maybe I could find a way to forgive him. Will really was a wonderful guy, and I was beginning to appreciate how much he had helped me in the months that followed Steve's death.
I stood up, and held out my hand for Will to shake. He looked slightly disappointed that I didn't offer a hug, but I just wasn't there yet. He took my hand and shook it firmly.
"I should really head back to my house to make sure that Tom hasn't destroyed anything. But I will meet you at the gym on Monday evening. I do like the idea of shedding some pounds of flab," I said quite honestly, with a little bit of a grin.
"I'm glad we had the chance to talk again, Scott. You're a great guy. I really hope I can prove that I just want to be friends."
"Me too," I said as honestly as I could.
With that, I walked outside and managed to flag down a cab without difficulty before heading back to my house for the first time in nine months.
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