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. My good friend Kai has also stepped up to the plate and is making his first appearance as my editor in this chapter. They have both 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. 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.
I apologize for the delay! I really thought that I had everything down to a science and then real-life happened. Between things getting chaotic at home and Kai's computer crashing, it's taken a little longer than I thought to get the new chapters ready for submission. I'll try to keep updates about once a week, but I refuse to make any more promises in case I can't!
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When the cab arrived at my house, I quickly headed up to the front door. It didn't look any different on the outside from when I left, although I had noticed that the grass was mowed and the shrubs had been tended to. I made a mental note to thank Sarah and Chris for taking care of the outside appearance while I was gone. They probably only did it because I'm sure my other neighbors were concerned with their property values. Most of my neighbors were not the caring types.
I braced myself before I walked in the door. I could already picture that the inside looked like something out of a suspense film, with everything blanketed with inches of dust and covered in thick cobwebs. I opened the door and walked in.
I was shocked. Absolutely floored. The place looked as good, if not better, than when I left. There were no traces of dust. The floors even looked like they had been waxed, something I had never bothered to do. It looked fantastic. I made another mental note to wax them more often. I set my bags down and shut the front door just as Sarah walked into the living room from the other room.
"SCOTT!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!! YOU'RE HERE!!!!" She squealed, jumping into my arms for a hug.
For such a petite person, she could make a lot of noise. I hugged her, and then set her back on the ground. Feeling myself smiling, I realized just how much I had missed her. I'm not even sure that I had really thought of her at all during my time away.
Tom walked in before I could say anything.
"You look like you're doing better than earlier," he said to me.
"Thanks. I actually think that I am."
"So, asshole, are you going to tell me the details? I want to know EVERYTHING that went on while you were gone. I missed you so much!" Sarah said, as she started dragging me to the couch.
The three of us sat down, and I proceeded to tell her of all of the events that unfolded when I was at my parents', Dustin and Michelle's, and Ethan and Emma's houses. I didn't bother to leave any details out, because I just knew that Sarah would find any holes in my story and demand that I fill them in anyways. Tom already knew most of the details from having heard directly from my friends and family. He just sat there as he listened to everything from my perspective.
Surprisingly, Sarah didn't have any questions for me, nor did she admonish me for my activities. I guessed that Tom had probably already filled her in, but she wanted to hear it all from me.
"So tell me all about your conversation with Will. I want to know all the juicy details," she asked after I had finished catching her up on everything that happened prior to the current day.
I felt my temper rising slightly. I couldn't figure out how she already knew that I had met with him.
"Tom, did you already tell her about you blind-siding me with a forced run-in with Will?"
Tom's eyes dropped to his shoes.
"Um...I didn't exactly have to..." he mumbled, allowing his voice to taper off at the end.
"Wait. You orchestrated this whole thing, didn't you?" I asked, redirecting my anger towards Sarah.
"Please don't get mad. I just suggested that Tom get the two of you together. When Tom came back without you, I knew that he had succeeded. I truthfully don't know anymore about it than that. I'm sorry for trying to push you to talk to him, but he's the only one that you've ever really opened up to about your problems. We just want to help. We know he screwed up. Hell, he knows he screwed up. Now tell me what happened!"
I just sighed. When Sarah had her mind set on something, I had yet to find a way to distract her. I've found over time that it's usually just better to give in and give her what she wants. I told her everything that happened in the coffee shop. I was glad she didn't ask about the trip to Steve's grave. I knew I couldn't tell her that I thought Steve had talked to me. I had never told her about the times that he had come to me while I was asleep. Even if I had, she would think that I had gone crazy. I still wasn't convinced that I hadn't.
"So you're not sure if you can trust him?" She asked when I was done.
"No. Especially after he told me that he knew I wasn't ready for a physical relationship, nor was I interested in one. And yet, he still pushed one on me."
"Then it's settled," she said with a certain degree of finality in her voice.
"Tom and I are going with you to the gym on Monday, obviously."
"I can't ask you guys to do that."
"I'm not asking. I'm volunteering us. You're not sure you can trust him. You may be right, but I'm not sure. Either way, you'll feel better if we're by your side," she explained.
"Don't I get a say in the matter?" Tom asked.
"Nope. We're both going with Scott. Besides, he's not the only one with a little extra flab," Sarah said with a laugh as she poked Tom in the side, causing him to jump a little. After a moment, her face darkened.
"What's wrong?" I asked her.
"I'm just a little pissed at Will. Obviously, I knew about his crush on you, but he swore he would watch himself. I flipped the fuck out on him after you left for doing something so stupid. I had hoped that meeting him today would help make it easier to transition back into your routines, such as they were, but it sounds like he still has deep feelings for you. I really don't think he's stupid enough to try something again, though. He was devastated when you left."
"Whether or not he plans on trying something, I'm not going to give him the opportunity. I'm willing to work on developing a friendship, but if that doesn't work, I will just wash my hands of the whole mess. That shouldn't be too hard to do, considering how much anger I still have towards him. I know it's stupid, but he just betrayed me so badly."
"It's not stupid, Scott. I'd feel the same way," Tom piped in.
I took the moment to try to steer the conversation back to lighter subject matter. Besides, I needed to thank Sarah.
"You've done a great job taking care of the place. Thanks to both you and Chris, it hardly even looks like I was ever gone."
"Actually, it was all me. Shortly after Steve died, when I was spending lots of time over here, Chris started to get jealous that I was ignoring him. It wasn't intentional, until he brought it up. Then I started avoiding him. You know, just out of spite. That was around the time you were spending more time with Will, so you really didn't need me. Of course, I never told him that.
"Anyways, we legally separated a little over a month ago. The bastard started to get too damn clingy. Actually, I filed for divorce a few weeks ago, so assuming he doesn't try to contest it, everything should be settled soon.
"To make my long story short-ish, I've been taking care of the place. Actually, I've been staying here. Now that you're back, I can find someplace else, if you'd like."
I really didn't have to think about it. I knew that Tom was staying with me. And Sarah was there for me so much when I needed someone. There was no question in my mind that she was always welcome in my house.
"No. I want you to stay here. There are two guest rooms, so it's not like we would be cramped. It might be nice for the house to feel more lived in. Besides, you've done such a good job. It'd be a shame to lose my new maid so soon."
Sarah just looked at me blankly for a moment. I was worried that I had said something to offend her, but I couldn't imagine what it had been.
"Wait. Was that a joke? Did you just crack a joke? Tom, did Scott just make a joke?"
Tom just gave a big, toothy grin and nodded emphatically. Sarah, for her part, gave out a loud laugh. All that I was able to manage was a slight grin that may have slightly exposed my teeth, but it felt great.
"I know you're not entirely back with us, but it's good to see a little bit of life in your eyes," she said seriously, once she had calmed down. "Now you just relax. Tom, help me fix dinner."
Once they left the room, I got off of the couch and walked over to The Spot. I could still feel Steve's presence coming from it. While I was waiting for dinner, I decided to sit down on it while they worked on dinner. This was different than previous times. I didn't feel the urge to curl up in the fetal position, or try to clutch the floor. I just sat there, feeling comforted by the closeness to Steve's presence.
After dinner, I was feeling completely drained from the emotional toll that the day had taken, in addition to the strain of travel. I was terrified of the idea of going to sleep, because I hadn't had a restful night since I left. The nightmares had gotten better towards the end, but they never went away. Part of me was hoping that Steve might come to me again, but both of his nocturnal visits had made me feel even worse after he had left, so I was also dreading the idea.
Finally, sheer exhaustion won out, and I bade goodnight to Tom and Sarah before getting ready for bed. Without much thought, I climbed into the bed on Steve's side, and quickly fell asleep. It was the first night since late October that I didn't have a nightmare. I didn't have any good dreams, but I certainly enjoyed a restful night without bad ones.
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I awoke Sunday morning feeling better than I had for a long time. I got out of bed, showered, and got ready for the day. When I walked out of the bedroom, Tom and Sarah were already sitting at the kitchen table, chatting and drinking coffee. They both seemed surprised to see me up, let alone looking rested.
Other than the fact that Sarah wanted to go to the store for some groceries, none of us had any plans for the day. I sat on The Spot and did some work on my laptop. I had managed to work just often enough to keep a few of my bigger clients satisfied, but most of them had terminated their contracts with me. I couldn't really blame them.
Since I was doing better today, I pushed myself hard. I figured if I could get people to notice any effort that I put forth, maybe they would request additional work or even recommend me to others who needed some work done.
I sat there for several hours as I worked. I felt very accomplished when I set the laptop aside and joined Tom and Sarah in the kitchen to help with dinner preparations. After dinner, we just sat on the couch and chatted for a while before we all headed to bed. Once again, I slept on Steve's side, and once again, I didn't have any nightmares. I could really get used to this.
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Monday morning arrived without fanfare. Like the day before, I woke up feeling very refreshed. I showered, got dressed, and met Tom and Sarah in the kitchen. Even though it'd only been a little more than a day, the house felt so much livelier than it had since Steve's death. Even when Will had practically been living with me, the place hadn't been nearly this active. Tom and Sarah were constantly talking, and often were successful in pulling me into the conversation. Sarah was constantly making jokes and trying to get either Tom or I to laugh. She was usually successful on Tom, but she even managed to get me to chuckle a few times as well.
After breakfast, I sat for about an hour more or less meditating on The Spot. Since I had returned, it had seemed like less of a place to escape the world in order to be near Steve and more of just a place of comfort. After I finished, I pulled out my laptop and worked for several hours.
After a late lunch, the three of us relaxed and talked for awhile, chatting comfortably on the couch. Eventually, it was time to go to the gym. We all changed into some gym clothes. I felt a little self conscious because my gym shirt clung tighter than it used to. I felt like my gut was hanging out for the entire world to see. I knew that going to the gym was important to make me start feeling better about myself.
Before we left, I reminded them that Will was not expecting them to be there.
"Do you think I should have called Will to let him know that you two are coming with me?" I asked as we were walking out of the house.
"Not at all," Tom responded.
"Besides," added Sarah, "what better way to get true insight into his motivations? I just figured that he had made a mistake and misread signs, but after what he told you, I'm beginning to think that he had purposefully crossed the line and taken advantage of you. With us there, he has to see you as no more than friends, and his initial reaction might show if he has any ulterior motives."
"I guess you're right," I conceded, as we climbed into Tom's car.
Before long, we had parked and were walking to the gym. Will was waiting out front. At first he looked excited, but that expression changed briefly to disappointment when he noticed Tom and Sarah with me. He quickly recovered before we'd even gotten close enough to greet each other, but I couldn't help but think that maybe Sarah was right.
Even if Will hasn't gotten over any feelings that he has for me, I hoped that he was able to realize that he doesn't have a chance at a relationship with me. Maybe he would have at another time in my life, but even if he had given me all the time in the world before I left, I still wouldn't have been able to think of him that way.
"Hey gym buddy," Will said as we got closer. He stuck out his hand before I even had the chance to think about how to greet him.
"I'm sorry if I looked a little disappointed when I noticed you, Tom and Sarah, I just wasn't expecting you. If I hadn't known before, I know now that all I can really hope for from you is friendship. I mean, I knew that, but I think somewhere in my mind, I hadn't allowed that to sink in."
"As far as I'm concerned, it's all good. Just don't screw up again." Sarah said, greeting him with a hug.
Tom and Will shook hands before the four of us walked into the gym. At first, we all worked out near each other. Eventually, Tom and Sarah broke off to use some of the other machines on their own while Will and I continued working out with each other. There wasn't much talking between the two of us, as we were focused more on the task at hand.
After a while, Will brought up the subject of introducing me to his friend.
"Have you given any more thought into meeting my buddy? It would be good for you to have someone to talk to. With our history, I doubt you'd feel comfortable talking to me about your problems. Hell, I'm partially the cause of them."
His tone was a little cautious, and was tinged with a little regret, but I didn't sense any feeling of ill-will towards me.
"I've been thinking about it a lot since I left the coffee shop the other day. I think I'd like to, so long as you're certain that he's not going to think I'm interested in anything other than someone to talk to. I don't know if I can handle another misinterpretation of my feelings at this point."
"Don't worry; I'll make sure that he knows. That shouldn't be a problem anyways. I've talked to him a lot since you left. Never about you specifically, but he knows that I screwed up by doing that."
"In that case, there's no harm
in meeting him. If I'm not comfortable with the situation, I can just walk
away. Especially since it's not like I would actually know him."
"In which case, you want to plan on meeting him a week from today? We'll meet at the coffee shop, if that works for you."
"Yeah, that sounds fine. I'd say that I'm looking forward to it, but I'm not sure if that's entirely true. It'll be good for me though. Steve and I didn't have too many friends in the city, and sometimes I just feel so alone."
"Perfectly understood," Will said, looking at his watch. "Shit! I really need to get out of here. I didn't realize how long we've been here. We still on to continue this tomorrow? It was nice to spend time with you. I really hope we can be friends again."
"Me too. And no worries. I'll be here."
"Great, I'll see you tomorrow!"
With that, Will hurried to the locker room to change and leave. I glanced around, and saw Tom and Sarah running on adjacent treadmills on the far side of the room. I knew I wasn't ready to leave, and clearly they were still enjoying their workout as well. I walked over to the free weights section, and put some weight on the bench press. Since I didn't have a spotter, I didn't put too much weight on the bar.
As I started to lift the weights up above my chest, I felt myself enter the zone. I felt calm and relaxed. I was beginning to wonder why I didn't return to the gym earlier. Of course, going to the gym had been something Steve and I had always done together, so it was something that I always associated with him.
I have no idea how many reps I had been doing. My eyes were squeezed shut as I just allowed myself to be lost in the workout. Suddenly, I heard Steve's voice in my head.
"Remember what I said."
Suddenly the bar seemed much heavier, and I realized that I was struggling with it. My eyes shot open, just as someone helped me put the bar back into its holder. Embarrassed, I stood up from the bench, and turned to face the person that helped me.
I didn't even get a chance to get a good look at him. All that I saw were his eyes. I just stared, gazing into the most enchanting hazel eyes that I had ever seen. They were so rich and bright that it was almost like staring into two golden orbs. I felt myself slipping away as I became lost in those eyes.
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