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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Moving On - 7. Chapter 7 - Homecoming

Scott returns home for the first time in nine months.

Revised: 10/2013. No major content changes

Chapter Seven



When the cab arrived at my house, I quickly headed up to the front door. It did not look any different on the outside from when I left; I noticed the grass was mowed and the shrubs had been tended to. I made a mental note to thank Sarah and Chris for keeping up appearances while I was gone. I figured they probably only did it because my nosey neighbors complained about the unsavory types that might be attracted to a vacant house. Most of my neighbors were not the caring types.

I braced myself before I walked in the door. I could already picture something out of a suspense film on the other side, everything blanketed in inches of dust and covered in thick cobwebs. Holding my breath, I opened the door and walked in.

I was absolutely floored by what I saw. The place looked as good as when I left. There were no traces of dust, and the floors even looked like they had been waxed, something I had never bothered to do. In short, it looked fantastic. 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 such a petite person, she could make a lot of noise. I hugged her, and then set her back on the floor. I realized just how much I had missed her as I felt the corners of my mouth pull into a smile at her antics. I doubt 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," he said to me.

"Thanks, I actually think I am."

"So, asshole, are you going to tell me the details? I want to know everything that went on while you were gone!" Sarah said, dragging me to the couch.

The three of us sat down, and I proceeded to tell her everything that unfolded while I was away. I did not bother to leave any details out. I knew Sarah would find any holes in my story and demand I fill them in anyway. Tom already knew most of the details, but he just sat there as he listened to everything from my perspective.

Surprisingly, Sarah did not question me further, nor did she admonish me for my activities. I guessed Tom had probably already filled her in, but she wanted to hear it directly 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 my return.

I felt my temper rising. I could not figure out how she already knew I 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, his voice tapering 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 he had succeeded. I truthfully don't know anything more. I'm sorry for trying to push you to talk to him, but he's the only one you've really opened up to recently. We just want to help. We know he screwed up. Hell, he knows he screwed up. Now tell me what happened!"

I sighed. When Sarah had her mind set on something, I had yet to find a way to distract her. I found over time it was just better to give in and give her what she wanted, so 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 I thought Steve had talked to me. I had never told her about the times he had come to me while I was asleep. Even if I had, she would think I had gone crazy. I still was not convinced of my sanity.

"So you're not sure if you can trust him?" She asked when I was done.

"No, especially after he admitted that he knew I was neither ready for, nor interested in, a physical relationship. Yet he pushed one on me."

"Then it's settled," she said with finality.

"What's settled?"

"Tom and I are going with you to the gym on Monday, obviously."

"I can't ask you guys to do that."

"You’re not asking. I'm volunteering us. You're not sure you can trust him. Even if you're wrong, 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 hoped meeting him today would help make it easier to transition back into your routines, but it sounds like he still has deep feelings for you. He's not stupid enough to try something again, though; he was devastated when you left."

"Whether or not he plans to try something, I'm not going to give him the opportunity. I'm willing to work on rebuilding a friendship; I'll just wash my hands of the whole mess at the first sign of ulterior motives. It won't be too hard to do, considering how much anger I'm still holding. I know it's stupid, but he betrayed my trust so badly."

"It's not stupid; I'd feel the same way," Tom piped in.

I took the moment to try to steer the conversation back to lighter subject matter.

"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 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 when you were spending most of your time around Will, so you really didn't need me. Of course, I never told Chris that.

"Anyway, we legally separated a little over a month ago. The bastard started to get too damn clingy. I filed for divorce a couple of 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 did not have to think about it for a second. I knew 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 will 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 I had said something to offend her.

"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 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 back in your eyes," she said seriously, once she had calmed down. "Now relax. Tom, help me fix dinner."

Once they entered the kitchen, I got off of the couch and walked over to the Spot. I could still feel Steve's presence emanating from it. While I was waiting for dinner, I decided to sit down on it. Unlike in the past, I didn't feel the urge to curl up in the fetal position or try to clutch the floor. I just sat there, comforted by the closeness I felt to Steve.

After dinner, I was feeling completely drained from the emotional toll the day had taken on me, but I was terrified of the idea of going to sleep; I had not had a restful night since I left. The nightmares had become more bearable towards the end, but they never completely went away. Part of me was hoping Steve might come to me again, but both of his previous nocturnal visits had made me feel even worse in the long run, 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 Steve's side, and quickly fell asleep. It was the first night since October I did not have a nightmare. There were not any good dreams, but I certainly enjoyed a fairly restful night without bad ones.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

I awoke Sunday morning feeling better than I had for a long time. I got out of bed and got ready for the day. When I walked out of the bedroom, Tom and Sarah were already sitting at the table, chatting and drinking coffee. Both seemed surprised to see me up, let alone rested.

None of us had any plans for the day, so I sat on the Spot and got some work done. I had managed to work just often enough to keep a few of my bigger clients satisfied, but most others 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, and I felt very accomplished when I finally set the laptop aside and joined Tom and Sarah in the kitchen to help with dinner. After eating, we sat on the couch and chatted for a while before heading to bed. Once again, I slept on Steve's side, and once again, I didn't have any nightmares. A man can really grow accustomed to a decent night's sleep.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

Monday morning arrived without fanfare. Like the day before, I woke up feeling refreshed. I showered, dressed, and met Tom and Sarah in the kitchen. Even though it had 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 was never 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, and she even managed to get me to chuckle a few times as well.

After breakfast, I sat for about an hour on the Spot, more or less mediating. Since I had returned, it seemed like less of a place to escape the world to be near Steve and more of a place of comfort. I still felt the connection but no longer felt the need to obsessively cling to it. 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, and I felt a little self-conscious when my gym shirt clung much 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.

"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 figured he had made a mistake and misread signs, but after what he told you, I'm beginning to think he purposely 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, where 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 got close enough to greet each other, but I could not help but think that maybe Sarah was right.

Even if Will had not gotten over any feelings for me, I hoped he knew he did not have a chance at a relationship with me. Maybe if we had met at a another time in my life things would have been different, but even if he had given me all the time in the world before I left, I still would not 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 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 quite allowed it 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, but 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 the past few days. I think I'd like to, so long as you're certain 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 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 how badly I screwed up."

"In that case, there's no harm in meeting him. If I'm not comfortable with the situation, I can just walk away. It's not like I would actually know him, or anything."

"In which case, you want to plan on meeting him at the beginning of next week? We'll meet at the coffee shop, if that works for you."

"Yeah, that sounds fine. I'd say I'm looking forward to it, but I'm not sure if that's entirely true. It can't hurt, though. Steve and I didn't have too many friends in the city, and sometimes I just feel so alone."

"Perfectly understandable," 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."

"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 was not 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.

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 I always associated with him.

I have no idea how many reps I did that day. 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 struggled to hold it up. 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 who helped me.

I didn't even get a chance to get a good look at him. All I saw were his eyes. I just stared, gazing into the most enchanting eyes I had ever seen. They were so rich and bright, it was almost like staring into two golden orbs. I felt myself slipping away as I became lost in those eyes.

Revised 10/2013. There's been a lot of minor clean up, but no real changes other than for grammar, flow, or style.

I have heard so many moving stories that people have shared with me about their lost loves and their personal attempts at moving on. Some have happy endings while some are tragic. Either way, if you'd care to share those stories with me, I would be honored to hear from you.

Any comments, suggestions, or criticisms that you would like to share would also be greatly appreciated! If you have criticisms, please be specific, so that I can try to address them in the future!

Thank you to all my wonderful readers!

Moving On is © Copyright Fitz, 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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