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    Fitz
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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 - 8. Chapter 8 - The Struggle Within

Scott meets someone new

Revised: 10/2013. No major content changes.

Chapter Eight

The Struggle Within

 

I stood there, staring up into the beautiful almost-golden orbs in front of me. I am not sure how long I was standing there like an idiot before I heard a cough that pulled me back into the real world. I blinked and for the first time, I noticed the entire person standing in front of me.

I was looking at one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen. He looked to be around twenty-five, a few years younger than me, and stood taller than me, closer to 6'3". His chestnut hair was short, but not crew-cut short. His body looked amazing. His arms were large, with well-defined biceps. His shirt clung to his built chest, and he had a flat stomach, but the shirt wasn't quite tight enough for me to know how defined it was.

My gaze slowly drifted further south before I even realized what I was doing. I could feel my shorts begin to constrict. I hadn't felt this way about anyone since… well, since I met Steve. I forced my eyes back to his face, and was immediately drawn back into his eyes.

He cleared his throat again. I blinked and forced myself not to gaze back into his eyes. He had an amused look on his face.

"I… um… sorry about that. Thanks for the help," I said, referring to the near-disaster the man had saved me from on the bench press.

"Not a problem. You just lost track of what you were doing for a moment."

His voice was a very sexy tenor. The beautiful man standing before me stuck out his hand, which I took.

"I'm Noah. So what are you doing on the free weights without a spotter? That can be dangerous if you're not paying attention."

"I'm here with some friends. Two of them are over there on the treadmills," I said, pointing to Tom and Sarah. "The other one was working out with me, but he had to leave. I really didn't think I was pushing myself too hard. Oh, I'm Scott, by the way."

"Just promise me that you won't try it again unless I'm here to save you," Noah said with a laugh.

I couldn't help but crack a smile at that. His eyes seemed to sparkle when he laughed. I felt my knees weaken slightly. I made myself look away before I got lost in his amazing eyes again.

"Um… I've been going through a lot, and am just starting to get back into going to the gym. I want to get myself back into shape. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's about time to gather up my friends and head out. I don't need a repeat of the bench press."

"That's cool. Hey, I normally workout in the morning, but I missed it today. Do you want to join me tomorrow? It never hurts to have someone to workout with. We can push each other a little harder, too."

"I'd like that… but I can't tomorrow; I have other plans," I said, kicking myself immediately for how excited I was about the idea of seeing this good-looking stranger again.

"Well, how about Wednesday, then? C'mon, it'll be fun."

The idea that this gorgeous stud was actually interested in spending time with me was enough for me to be unable to find my voice. I just nodded my head.

Noah chuckled. "Well, great, I look forward to seeing you Wednesday morning," he said with a smile. Once again, his eyes sparkled, and I had to fight myself to keep from becoming lost once more.

We shook hands again; this time, I felt like a jolt of electricity shot into my hand when we made contact. I turned, and gathered Tom and Sarah from the treadmills. Within minutes, we were back in Tom's car heading back towards the house.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

I spent the entire ride trying to figure out the feelings towards Noah that kept swirling through my mind. Tom and Sarah kept trying to engage me in conversation, but I was too lost in my own mind. It really bothered me that I felt anything towards Noah, let alone found myself so strongly drawn to him.

Steve's last word to me kept popping back up in my mind. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the hell he meant by 'don't'. Obviously it was very important, otherwise Steve would not have acted so cryptically when I tried to make him explain. I could only hope he would explain it to me soon.

Part of me thought he was trying to tell me that he did not want me to feel these feelings, but he had also told me to follow my heart. Granted, it was not my heart that was drawing me toward Noah. Rather, another part of my anatomy seemed to be in control. I was feeling so conflicted between those two statements.

Ultimately, I could not help but feel incredibly ashamed about my instant attraction to Noah. At the same time, I found myself extremely excited at the thought of seeing him again. The confusion and dissonance in my mind was so damn frustrating.

When we pulled up to the house, I walked in and immediately sat on the couch. I wanted to be close to Steve, but the thought of being so close to him while I was thinking of Noah made me feel somehow dirty. Sarah and Tom were immediately concerned. For the past few days, my first – and usually only destination – in the house was the Spot. They quickly sat on either side of me.

"What happened at the gym? You seemed really happy when you came to get us, but once we got to the car, you just shut down. Are you okay?" Sarah asked.

"I don't know. There was this guy I met after Will left. I can't stop thinking about him, and what Steve would think."

"You're being much too hard on yourself…" Tom said, trying to comfort me. ""Steve would want you to feel like you could move on if you found someone you were interested in."

"I can't just move on. Steve and I were together for nine years! I can't just forget everything he meant to me and start seeing someone else."

"Well, no matter what you decide regarding this mystery guy, Tom and I will support you. Do you think that you'll run into him at the gym again?" Sarah asked.

"Actually, we agreed to get together Wednesday morning and workout."

"What do you think about that?"

"I'm not entirely sure yet. I think I really like the idea. There are just too many things going on in my mind right now."

"Well, I think you should go. Besides, you need all the exercise you can get," Sarah said, poking me in the gut.

"Anyway, it'll be really good for me. He's in much better shape than any of us. Hopefully it'll rub off on me."

If I hadn't been so deep in thought, I would have noticed the knowing smirk that spread across Sarah's face. Tom didn't miss it, and grew one of his own.

"Do you want us to come with you?" Tom asked me.

I thought for a minute. I hadn't really considered it. It had been good to have Tom and Sarah with me today, if only to ensure Will understood the new dynamic of our relationship, but this was different. I would have felt… I guess embarrassed… if they came along.

"No, I think this is something I need to do by myself. I really appreciate you guys coming with me today. Are you guys planning on coming tomorrow evening?"

"Yeah, it'll feel nice to get some more exercise. Besides, I'm sure you still want some support when you're around Will. Am I right?" Sarah asked.

"That would be nice. I really appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I hope you know that."

"Scott, that's what friends do. We're here for you, no matter what happens."

With that, we all decided it was time for bed. I quickly showered to remove the sweat and grime from the gym before getting into bed. I may not have really understood my new feelings for Noah, but I still managed to feel incredibly guilty about them. As much as I still wanted the closeness of Steve, I couldn't bring myself to lie on his side of the bed. It just felt wrong. After a while, I was able to fall asleep.

I wasn't asleep very long before I found myself engulfed in a nightmare. I jolted awake. I was now clutching Steve's side of the bed, screaming. There was a small pair of arms wrapped around my chest. I freaked out and jumped out of bed, causing Sarah, who had been trying to comfort me, to fall off the other side of the bed.

"What the hell are you doing? This is his bed! You don't get to use it!" I screamed.

Sarah just walked over to me and gave me a big hug, as I broke down, sobbing into her arms. I'm not sure how long she stood there with me blubbering into her shoulder, but eventually the tears began to fade.

"C'mon, you big lug. You're sleeping with me tonight."

I just nodded, and she guided me back to her room. I was surprised to see Tom lying asleep in her bed. She noticed my confusion.

"Remember you're not the only one hurting right now. Sometimes, everyone needs someone to hold them and comfort them," she said a little bit cryptically.

"Besides, it may be a little bit of a squeeze, but we'll all fit. Think of it as one big slumber party."

I was too tired and distraught to put up any resistance. Before long, I fell back asleep with Sarah's arms wrapped around me. I didn't have any more nightmares that night, and managed to get a few hours of somewhat-peaceful rest.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

I awoke the next morning still wrapped in Sarah's arms. Both she and Tom were still asleep. I carefully extracted myself so as not to disturb them and headed into the bathroom before pulling on some clothes.

I was still feeling incredibly guilty about my feelings for Noah. I knew Steve was dead, but I still felt like I was being unfaithful. That did not make sense, either. Steve and I always enjoyed checking out other guys together. Not that it meant anything, because we had each other. It was not like we ever brought any hot guys we found home with us. Well, that's not entirely true, but also not the point.

After spending the entire evening and night guiltily trying to avoid Steve's presence, I simply couldn't handle it anymore. After dressing, I headed directly over to the Spot, and curled up. As soon as I arrived, I started crying softly, which continued through most of the day.

When Tom came out to the living room, he tried to get me to move, or at least talk to him. I think I managed to tell him I just needed to be close to Steve and that I felt guilty, but I truly do not know if I ever was able to vocalize anything. Either way, he and Sarah whispered back and forth most of the morning.

They managed to get me to at least sit up and eat a sandwich, but couldn't convince me to leave the Spot. They tried a few more times throughout the afternoon to get me to open up, but for the most part, they just left me alone, which was more than fine as far as I was concerned.

About an hour before I was supposed to meet Will at the gym, Sarah came over and sat down beside me.

"Scott, we're really worried about you right now. I really think you are overreacting, but that's not important. We all do things in our own way and on our own time."

I couldn't say anything in response. I knew she was right. These feelings were completely natural. I just hadn't experienced anything like this in years; not in nearly a decade.

"Do you want to still go to the gym? I can always call Will for you and say that something came up. Or we could just blow him off. I'd have no problem with that."

I was unsure at first. Working out had felt great, and it was nice to spend time with Will again, even if I couldn't yet bring myself to trust him. Initially, I was going to say no, on the off chance that I saw Noah there, but then I remembered he said he usually worked out in the mornings. Besides, he would have asked me to workout with him this evening had he been planning on coming, I rationalized.

I was looking forward to meeting Noah tomorrow morning. I was freaked out by the idea, but not as much as I was excited by it. But that was tomorrow, and I still was not ready for it yet. I was still lost in my thoughts after realizing that Noah almost definitely would not be there today that I did not even realize that I still had not answered Sarah's question.

"Well, are we going to the gym?" she asked impatiently.

I just nodded. I still couldn't quite find my words.

"Good. Get up. You need a shower or at least wash your face, and put on your gym clothes. We need to leave soon." With that, she stood up and walked into her bedroom to get changed.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

Like the previous day, when the three of us arrived at the gym, Will was already waiting out front.

Tension was high between Tom, Sarah, and I while we were working out. I think they were worried I was going to break down in the middle of the gym. I felt better, but I think a lot of that was the fact that I knew there was no chance of running into Noah today. They didn't know he wasn't going to be here. No one had asked, so I never mentioned it. Like the day before, they worked out with Will and me for a while before breaking off to do their own things.

I am sure Will noticed the tension between us, but, to his credit, he never said anything about it. We did not really talk while we worked out. After a while, we moved over to the free weights, and took turns spotting each other. I told Will I hit the free weights the day before after he left, but left out my near-accident. He chastised me, saying I could have hurt myself, but I did not respond.

The two of us finished before Tom and Sarah were ready to go, so we walked over to the coffee shop while we waited for the two of them. While there, Will asked if we would be joining him the next day.

"I don't think so. I'm really glad you got me back into going to the gym, but I think I'm going to start going earlier in the day."

"Did I do something to upset you? I'm trying really hard to make amends here and rekindle our friendship," he asked. I couldn't tell if he was hurt or just concerned about my change of plans.

"No. It's nothing you did. It's just…" I paused, trying to find the right words, "It's just something I have to do."

I left the statement vague. Even if he no longer thought of me in a sexual manner – which I still was not convinced was the case – I was not about to explain that I was beginning to think of someone else in that way. I knew it would hurt him deeply, and I did not want to deal with any anger that I found myself attracted to someone else.

"Besides, it is surprisingly difficult to see you. It has me constantly thinking about what happened between us, and everything that happened after I left as a result of that night."

"You never told me about what happened after you left. Do you want to?"

"Not really, no. Sorry, it's just that I went through a lot of shit. I know it's not really your fault, but in my head, I can't help but place some of that blame on you. I really do want to try to be friends again, but I'm just not sure that I can.

"I know, rationally, what happened that night was not completely your fault, even if the first move was. It felt good and I couldn't stop myself, even though I wanted to. Sorry."

"No, I understand. I've spent the last nine months trying to push my feelings for you to the side, but it's really difficult. You have no idea how amazing of a guy you are, Scott."

"I know those feelings are still there. I really wish they weren't, because I just don't think of you that way. Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could. I've told you so many times that I really think of you as a second brother. And even though it's not entirely your fault, I just can't help but continue to feel betrayed by your actions that night.

"I am still interested in meeting your friend. I wish I could feel comfortable opening up to you again, but right now I don't. That night is still just too fresh in my mind to reconcile with the great friendship we had before that. However, I do know if this friend of yours is someone you can trust, then I can trust him as well."

"So I take it we're still on for Monday then?" Will's voice was shaking a little as he asked, and his eyes were moist with unshed tears. I knew what I had said had hurt him and made him feel guilty all over, but I needed to be blunt.

"Yeah, we're still on. Anyway," I said, standing up, "I should go gather up Tom and Sarah and head back home. I really am looking forward to meeting your friend."

Will stood up as well, and stuck out his hand. Instead of shaking it, I pulled him in a brief hug. It almost felt like we were saying goodbye, even if for only a week. I think both of us knew there was little chance to rekindle our friendship in my current emotional state.

Sarah and Tom were walking out of the gym as I approached, so we just met at Tom's car. On the ride home, Sarah asked me how my talk with Will went.

"Well, I told him I wasn't going to work out with him anymore," I started.

"You didn't tell him about the cutie you're going to be working out with did you?" she cut in.

"Of course not, he wouldn't have understood. Besides, I'm not meeting up with him because he's cute. I'm meeting up with him because he's going to help push me back into shape," I said, defensively.

Tom and Sarah just chuckled.

"Keep telling yourself that," Tom said with a grin.

I just glared at the two of them.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

When we returned home, I spent some of the evening on the Spot, and relaxed, deep in thought. I realized my growing attraction to Noah was not a big deal; I was not going to act on my feelings, or anything. I just wanted to have someone to work out with and talk to. I rationalized I was merely making a new friend, not replacing Steve in anyway. I found a certain level of comfort in that thought.

As I walked past Sarah's and Tom's rooms the next morning, Tom's door was open. It was obvious he had not slept there the night before, which meant he must have slept in Sarah's room again.

I was getting really excited about meeting up with Noah. I kept kicking myself for being so worked up about it, but I could not hide the bounce in my step as I walked into the kitchen to get a quick breakfast before putting on some gym clothes and heading out to meet him.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

I parked my car and walked towards the entrance to the gym. Noah was outside waiting for me. When he saw me, he grinned and his eyes twinkled a little. For a moment, I felt my knees go weak again. It was almost embarrassing the power this man had over me, even though I had just met him.

"Hey, Scott. How are you doing this morning? I hope you're not planning on going crazy on the bench press again today," Noah said jokingly.

"I'm feeling great this morning. And I'll be fine, as long as you're there," I responded, with a smile, which immediately faded when I realized what I had just said.

'Shit,' I thought to myself. 'Did I just flirt with him?' I quickly ran my last statement through my head again, and hoped Noah didn't interpret it that way.

"Everything okay?"

"Huh?" I asked, shaken from my thoughts.

"Your face got a little dark there for a second," Noah said. I could almost feel the concern oozing through his words. His eyes had lost any semblance of the twinkle that had been there moments before.

I felt better. I realized my comment had not been misinterpreted. Or correctly interpreted. I wasn't really sure what I had meant. I gave him a small smile while I tried to push the concern out of my mind for good.

"No, I'm fine. I just spend a lot of time stuck inside my head lately. It's not a big deal."

"Alright, if you say so," Noah responded hesitatingly.

Clearly, he didn't believe me, but he was nice enough to let it go. With that, we went inside and started working out. We chatted idly for a while, and he gave me tips and pointers as we went to help get more out of each exercise. Even though I had regularly gone to the gym with Steve, we never really knew what we were doing. We simply hopped from one piece of equipment to another and pushed each other. Noah, on the other hand, really knew his way around the equipment, and I was grateful he was giving me some advice.

After a while, Noah asked me why I was so interested in getting as many tips as I could.

"Oh, nothing major. I just realized I needed to get back into shape," I told him.

It was not necessarily that I did not trust my new workout buddy, but we had just met, and it did not seem like the right time to open up. Besides, we weren't exactly in the proper venue for me to go into details of the past year, considering the emotions I knew would be evoked. If I was being completely honest with myself, I was also worried I would scare him off if he was actually interested in me.

"If I may ask, how exactly did you get out of shape?" Noah asked. I could tell he was eyeing me up and down, but I didn't think he was checking me out. He was probably just checking out all the problem areas I saw when I looked at myself critically in the mirror.

"Let's just say I've had a very rough year, and I spent a lot of time coping in several self-destructive ways. The last one I engaged in was over-eating. I've put on about twenty pounds, and I'm really hoping to shed them. I really miss the flat stomach I used to have."

I pointed to my gut as I said that last part. I was proud of myself for summing up the past year without going into any major details. In fact, I almost made it sound like small talk.

Noah chuckled slightly when I was finished. I gave him a questioning look, unsure what part came across as amusing.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh or anything. I just have a hard time imagining you twenty pounds lighter."

My look of confusion quickly changed to one of dejection. Before I could even form a coherent thought, though, Noah continued, "Shit. That didn't come out right either. What I mean is you already look pretty good."

My mind completely froze. It seemed like events in my life were repeating. I was beginning to wonder if Noah was just another Will, waiting in the wings for a chance to make a move when I least expected it. I suddenly felt the need to get out of there as quickly as possible.

"Noah, I'm sorry, but I… uh… I think I need to leave." I began to quickly walk towards the front of the gym.

"Scott! Wait!" Noah called, jogging to catch up with me.

I stopped and waited for him. When he arrived, I tried to brush it off, telling him I needed to get some fresh air.

"It's nothing personal, I promise. I'm still interested in working out with you tomorrow if you are."

"Yeah, I'd really like that," he responded.

Noah didn't offer anything in the way of an apology for his remarks, but I should not have really expected him to. The rational part of me knew he had no clue what caused the change in my behavior, but I did not feel like explaining it to him. I only wanted to try to clear my head.

After I left, I did not know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. My feet decided for me, and without even realizing it, I found myself wandering aimlessly through the city. I had no idea where I was until I noticed familiar surroundings. I glanced at my phone, and realized I had been walking around for nearly two hours. My feet had directed me to the cemetery.

I figured this was my subconscious' way of forcing my hand, so I quickly crossed the street and walked up the hill, approaching Steve's grave.

Revised: 10/2013. The biggest change was the removal of crying emanating from behind Sarah's door. It was supposed to be for a Tom subplot that never materialized. Noah also now asks if Scott wants to work out the following day, only for Scott to suggest the day after, since it seemed awkward for Noah to magically know what days Scott is available.

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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Chapter Comments

Wow, two chapters in one day! :)

 

I know a year isn't a whole lot of time to go out and start living again. I actually don't think Scott will be able to see anyone romantically until he speaks with someone. He needs to feel in his heart that he CAN let go. He knows deep down that Steve would want him to move on. But he has to feel ready. A year may not be enough time. Two years may not be. But he needs to work on it. I'm looking forward to his meeting with the therapist next week.

 

I think Noah was pretty cool, ok, no, he was hot. lol But he had no idea what Scott had been thru; Scott needs to give him some slack. He should at least feel flattered! :)

 

Great two chapters Fitz! =)

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