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Finding Nico

by c m

Chapter 17

Downstairs, I'm confronted with a pile of post that's arrived for me while we've been away. The most important thing is a whole bundle of information from Bristol Uni confirming my place, my accommodation, and a whole host of other things.

'I hope we're not miles apart on campus,' I say.

'I expect the same info will be waiting for me when I get back home. I'll check – and if we are, maybe we can arrange a swap or something?'

As I'm sorting through the paperwork, I hear the front door open. It's Jules.

'Nico! Josh! You're back…'

She gives both of us a kiss.

'My God…did you spend all day in the sun? Look at you…'

'And it's all over, sis.'

'All over…you mean….?'

I push the side of my shorts down to expose my hip. Josh does the same.

'No way. You sunbathed nude?'

'Piers and Zak did…so we joined them – and it's OK, we haven't turned into exhibitionists, the villa was very private.'


'Apart from the staff,' adds Josh.

'The staff!? You had servants? And you went nakie with them around?

'I wouldn't call them that, but there was cook, a gardener and a kind of Mr. Fix it. And Piers said they were used to it. Guests being naked, that is. And we didn't go naked all the time, just in the pool and sunbathing.'

'And you had a good time?'

'The best.'

We spend the next half an hour telling Jules all about it; the villa, the grounds, the olive grove, the trip to Florence, the food and wine…everything.'

'God, I am SO jealous. And everything was fine with your hosts?'

'Zak and Piers were kindness itself – and very much in love with each other.'

'God, two couples going gooey over each other all the time…'

We laugh.

'Actually, it wasn't like that. It was just a lot of fun. We kept the gooey stuff behind closed doors. Well, most of the time.'

'Most of the time?'

'Nico and I were gooey with each other one afternoon in the forest…or we were distinctly gooey by the time we'd finished anyway…' says Josh.

I snort with laughter, and Josh joins in.

'GOD! Boys are SO disgusting….and you're as bad as he is, Josh Brimacombe.'

He just grins at her.

'And how about you, sis? How have things been with you?'

'Pretty good actually.'

There's something in her voice.

'OK…so who is he?'

'How did you….?'

'Being twins works two ways…'

'I suppose so. OK. You know my friend Emma?'

I nod.

'Well, her family know this Swedish family, and the Swedish family includes a son who wants to be an English teacher – in Sweden. He's starting his teaching qualification in January, and in the meantime he's come over here to perfect his English. He's staying with them. And he's drop-dead gorgeous. Called Bjorn. And we've…been going out.'

'And Emma is OK with this?'

'Emma's with Ru, so she's not in the hunt – as it were.'

'I see. And have you?'

'Have I what?'

'Hmm…now what was it you called it…ah, yes…played 'hide the sausage' with him?'


I just look at her.

'No…well, not yet at least. He's a gentleman.'

'So's Alex, but that didn't stop you with him.'

'That was…different.'

'If you say so. So when do I get to meet him?'

'Maybe tomorrow. Provided you promise to behave yourself.'

'What does that mean?'

'No suggestive comments. His English is well up to knowing if you do.'

'I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing.'

'Hmm…you seem to forget that I know you all too well. He's going to pick me up and we're going to the cinema. I'll introduce you.'

'Great. And what have you told him about me?'

'That you're my idiot twin who, god help me, I quite like.'

'Does he know I'm gay?'

'Yes. And also that you have a disgustingly lovely boyfriend who you don't deserve.'

'So true,' says Josh.

'Don't you start, I've enough to put up with from her.'

Jules laughs.

'Does Alex know you've found someone?'

'No. We haven't been in touch. And anyway, I'm off to Uni in a few weeks like you, so I don't suppose this thing with Bjorn will last – although I suppose it might. But I'll tell Alex if and when it does. Or if and when I find someone at Uni. And anyway, it's not as if Bjorn and I have slept together.'

'But you'd like to?'

'It's an option. He's certainly very fit.'

'I bet he'd like to sleep with you.'

'He's a boy. All boys want sex.'

'From the way you hop into bed with Alex every time you see him, I'd say you weren't exactly averse to it yourself.'

'OK. So I like sex too. But that doesn't mean I'll go with just anyone. And it's probably hereditary.'

'What is?'

'Liking sex. I mean, you two are at like rabbits as far as I can gather, and have been for ages. And how long had you known each other before you were in bed together? 24 hours? At least I've known Bjorn for a few weeks.'

'She has got a point, Nico,' says Josh.

'Oh, great. You're on her side. Just what I need…'

Josh just laughs and gives me a kiss.

He heads home at lunchtime the next day. We're both going to focus on learning to drive before University term starts in around six weeks' time, but he'll arrange for me to go down and stay at some point before it does.

That evening I meet Bjorn for the first time. He is everything you'd expect of an archetypal Swedish boy. Blond and blue-eyed with fresh, open features. He's about my height, but with a slimmer frame. He has a lovely smile.

'I'm pleased to meet you, Nick – Jules has told me a lot about you.'

His English is excellent, with only the slightest of accents. He looks me straight in the eyes as he squeezes my hand with a firm shake.

'Nice to meet you, Bjorn.'

'So, you didn't tell me your twin was so handsome, Jules.'

'Don't say that. His head's big enough already.'

Bjorn shrugs and holds out his hands in a 'what can you do' gesture. I laugh.

'You're very kind, and I look forward to getting to know you better – if you can keep stomaching going out with my sister.'

It's his turn to laugh.

'So, an equal relationship between you, I think.'

Jules and I look at each other.

'Pretty much,' we both say together.

'OK. I'll maybe see you later after the film.'

'Maybe. Have fun.'

I'm not sure what time they get back, but I don't see either of them; I'm suddenly feeling very tired and opt for a reasonably early night at around ten o'clock.

My parents have booked me in on a 'crash' driving course – if that isn't an unfortunate choice of words. I've already passed my theory test, and this intensive course consists of thirty hours of lessons over three weeks. There's a test booked for a couple of weeks after that – just before I go off to Uni. My first lesson is today – and I love it. My instructor is complimentary about how quickly I pick things up and I can't wait to get back in the car tomorrow.

My parents have put 'L' plates on my mother's VW Golf, and she's agreed that once my instructor says he thinks I'm ready, she'll let me drive her on local journeys. My instructor thinks this will help even further.

I catch up with Jules later in the day and ask her if she enjoyed the film.

'It was great.'

'I liked Bjorn.'

'He said the same about you. Oh, and he asked if he could play squash with you. He's very keen and I know you've played a bit.'

'A bit is all it is. I'm not that good, and if he is, it's going to be very one-sided. I don't mind for me, but it might not be a lot of fun for him.'

'OK. I'll tell him – but if he still wants to, you'd be OK with that? And it would be good for him to have a male friend – even if it was only you.'

'And I love you too. And it's fine.'

When I speak with Josh that evening, I ask him how his driving's going.

'OK for a first lesson. You?'

'I love it. '

'Great. And the paperwork for Uni arrived. It looks like I'm in the Hall of Residence opposite you but on the same site. That's OK, isn't it? It can't be more than a couple of minutes' walk between the two buildings.'

'Not as good as having you down the corridor, but it could be a lot worse. Any chance of seeing you before term starts?'

'Mum says to come down any time. I guess we've both got driving courses for the next three weeks, but any date after that. No need to plan it – just let me know and come on down.'

'OK. Will do. And…I miss you.'

'I miss you too. Having those four weeks together was just so wonderful.'

'Utterly amazing. Love you.'

'Love you too.'

Jules says that Bjorn is happy to see how the squash goes, and would the day after tomorrow work.

'Tell him I'll see if I can get a court at the local leisure centre, but yes in principle.'

'OK…and thanks.'

'You know he'll probably thrash me, don't you?'

'I'll be there to watch.'

'Oh, great.'

The centre does have a court, and I book a slot. I root out my racquet and find some kit to wear. It's been at least three months since I've played, and I fear the worst.

The day comes, and Bjorn is waiting for us outside the leisure centre when we arrive. He gives Jules a kiss. She goes upstairs to the gallery while he and I make for the changing rooms.

'Thank you for this, Nick. Jules told me you don't play regularly, but I just need some exercise – and I hate running.'

'That's OK, Bjorn…just treat me gently.'

'Let's see how we get on.'

The warm-up doesn't fill me with confidence. He's clearly a good player – and better than me. The first game is almost embarrassing as he races to an 8-0 lead, but I am slowly brushing the rust off. He wins 11-2, but the last few points are at least more closely contested.

The second game is better – but still not very close. He wins 11-4.

The third game goes his way 11-6. And after the run around that he's giving me, I'm starting to breathe heavily.

'If you played regularly, I think we would be very close,' he says.

'If I played you regularly I think I'd die,' I gasp.

He laughs.

'One more?'

'OK…go for it.'

In this game, my serve starts to work at last, and we get to 6-6. But I'm exhausted and although Bjorn is at least dripping with sweat by the end of it, he's got more in reserve than I have. He wins 11-7.

Jules applauds from the gallery. 'See you in the coffee shop once you've changed,' she says.

Bjorn claps me on the shoulder as we leave the court.

'Thank you very much, Nick. I really appreciate you doing that for me. And if you start off next time the way you did towards the end, I think it will be close.'

'You mean…you want to put me through this hell again?'

'Only if you want to,' he says with a smile.

In the changing room we both strip off our sweat-soaked shirts. He's smooth-chested like me with the faint outline of a six-pack without it being all hard and ridged. He kicks off his shorts, grabs his towel, and heads for the shower. I follow. In the shower we perform the ritual of checking each other out. He's got a wiry bush of very pale, straw-coloured hair in his groin. He's a little smaller than me, with a foreskin that doesn't quite cover the very tip. He hasn't brought any shower gel, so I throw him mine after I've soaped myself up.


He washes himself thoroughly and unselfconsciously, tugging the skin back to clean inside it, and running his hand up and down the length of his cock to rinse all the soap off. It's mildly erotic.

'Jules says you have a boyfriend, yes?'

'Yes…he's called Josh.'

'You are together long?'

'A year now.'

'Ah, good. And he lives a long way away, yes?'

'Well, not that far. Bristol. About an hour's travel.'

'Ah, OK…not too far.' He pauses for a moment. 'Nick – I hope you don't mind me saying – but you are tanned all over. No white lines...'

He indicates his own waist with his hands.

'…so, you always sunbathe nude?'

'No. First time. We were staying at a villa in Italy with very private grounds. And the guys we were staying with didn't bother with clothes for swimming or sunbathing…so we…do you know the saying…'if you can't beat them, join them'?'

'Ah, yes, I have heard that. And it looks very nice, brown all over. Maybe I'll have to try sometime – though I burn quite easily in the sun.'

'Yes, we had to be careful. Burning these bits,' I say, pointing to my groin, 'would be very painful.'

He laughs.

'Yes very.'

'You have a girlfriend at home?' I ask

'No. No-one particular And I am…bisexuell…bisexual, that's the word, yes?'

'Yes,' I say.

'We are relaxed about these things in Sweden. And about sex. It's not such a big deal as over here. If you meet someone and you like each other, then once you know them for a bit…going to bed is normal. And for me, that means boys or girls. I know it is not quite the same here'

He smiles at me.

'I like Jules a lot and if she wants to sleep with me then I would like that very much, but it is her choice and not mine. We may be relaxed about sex in Sweden, but we have respect too. Sex is something you both choose – or not.'

He pauses and looks straight into my eyes.

'Though her twin is very nice too.'

I smile. And he smiles back.

'It's OK. I'm not…I don't know the word…suggesting you?...and you have a boyfriend…and I have very strong feelings for your sister. But it's OK to find someone sexy without having to feel guilty, yes?'

'The word is 'propositioning me' I think. And yes, it's fine to find someone sexy…and for what it's worth, you're pretty good-looking and sexy yourself.'

'Well, thank you.'

We get changed and then go and meet Jules in the coffee-shop.

'That was great to watch, boys. Let me buy you a coffee.'

'Just water for me please, Jules,' I say, 'this guy has run me off my feet.'

'I thought you did very well…'

'Yes, he did,' says Bjorn. 'I told him that next time will be closer.'

'Next time?' says Jules

'Yes, the Swedish sadist here wants to do it all over again.'

'Excellent. Be good for you, Nick. Body and ego. Coffee for you Bjorn?'

'Yes please – but some water as well if I may.'

Our drinks arrive, and we chat for a bit. Bjorn and Jules flirt with each other. It's fun to watch.

'OK, guys,' I say, standing up, 'I'm going to head home; I assume you two want some time on your own.'

'See you back home in a bit, bro.'

'And thanks again, Nick.'

'No problem.'

Bjorn stands up and gives me a hug. A long, warm hug. I saw him squirt himself with some deodorant spray as we were getting dressed, and he smells of pine and moss and something I can't place. It's rather lovely.

'Again in a week?' he asks, as he releases me.

'Sure. Look forward to it.'

And I realise that I genuinely am.

The driving continues to go well – and my second round of squash with Bjorn is better than our first meeting, although he still wins. I take one of the games to a tie-break and my competitive urge makes me say 'yes' to a third match; I'm determined to take at least one game off him.

He and Jules continue to get ever closer. I haven't said anything to her about him being bi; first, it isn't any of my business; second, he seems perfectly genuine in the attraction he feels for her, and third, for all I know he may have told her anyway.

And the moment comes a couple of weeks later when, instead of going home at the end of an evening together, he stays over. And unlike Alex, Bjorn is very vocal about how much he, quite clearly, is enjoying himself with Jules. Or with what Jules is doing to him. I know this because I can hear it all through the wall.

And he's refreshingly unembarrassed about talking about it – and sex in general. As I find out.

'Your sister is amazing,' he tells me as we change before our third match. 'I've had sex with two other girls but they were nothing like her. Such energy, such fun...such stamina!'

'Yes,' I say, 'I was next door and…heard.'

He laughs.

'Oh my God, of course. I hope we weren't too noisy?'

'Quite noisy. But you were obviously both having a very good time.'

'The best.'

'May I ask, you say you've slept with two other girls, have you slept with many boys?'

'Of course you may ask. Two boys. So…two boys, two girls. Properly bi, yes? Except now it's three girls. And you and Josh have sex?'


'Many others?'

'None – he's my first.'

'OK. And you've never had sex with a girl?'

'No. I've been sure I was gay since I was fourteen.'

'And same for Josh?'


'I like both. But they are very different.' Then, with barely a moment's pause, he says, 'Right. Ready to play?'

'Let's do it.'

And I finally win a game.

Later that day I quiz Jules about her night of passion with Bjorn.

'From the sounds of it,' I say, 'you were having a pretty good time.'

'God, he was SO noisy, but I suppose that was quite a turn-on in its own way.'

'Guess you'd learned some stuff from Alex.'

'Bjorn certainly seemed to enjoy some of the things I'd picked up, it's true.'

'Was he as good as Alex?'

'NICO! That's not a question you should ask.'

'I know...but…?'

'Actually, the word would be 'different' rather than better or worse. Alex did things to me - made me feel things - that Bjorn didn't, but Bjorn was so bloody enthusiastic and uninhibited. Sex with him was…more joyous…than with Alex. And the fact that he was a bit smaller…well, quite a bit smaller actually, made things less of a stretch when it came to, well, you know…'

'Did he taste nice?'


'Well, did you let him?'

'No. I'm still not ready for that. Whatever you say about it being alright. And he was certainly less of a fountain than Alex, too. But as well as more joy he had more…stamina…he just wanted to keep going. Which was wonderful, because so did I.'

'That's what he said about you.'

'You and he talked about it??'

'Oh, yes. He's very matter of fact about sex. And you got top marks versus the other girls he's slept with.'

'He said that?'

'Yep. And when you say 'keep going', what exactly does that mean?'

'I think it was four times. What's your record with Josh?'

'Hmm. Same. In one session. But we did it again in the morning.'

'Marathon man, huh?'

'Just lust.'

'Lust's great, isn't it?'

We grin at each other.

'So, you and Bjorn going to sleep together regularly now?'

'I think we'd both enjoy a repeat performance. But there's not long 'til I go off to Uni.'

'Let me know if and when you do – I'll get some earplugs.'

Jules just laughs.

With my intensive driving course now complete, I call Josh and arrange to spend a few days with him before coming back for my test which is still a week or so away.

His parents now treat me like another son, and it's a wonderfully relaxed time. We are totally comfortable with each other. Sex is, of course, still high on the agenda, and we expend a lot of energy satisfying our mutual lust for one another, but it's now a celebration of our time together rather than the main reason for it. We spend one morning visiting the University campus and checking out exactly where our Halls of Residence are. As we suspected, they are on opposite sides of the same square and no more than two minutes' walk from each other.

And talking of university plans, I get a text from Zak saying that Piers has managed to switch his place to the University of London, so they will continue to be able to be together as well. Josh and I couldn't be happier for them

I also tell Josh about Bjorn, and his uncomplicated, not to say inconsequential, attitude to sex. I also ask him not to say anything to Alex.

OK,' he says, 'but I don't think Alex would mind. I'm pretty sure he's not been totally celibate either.'

I ask what Duggie's doing.

'Oh, he started doing some live stuff on YouTube soon after our party. I meant to tell you. He's got quite a following. He's booked to play at some clubs and pubs when they re-open properly. And there's a couple of labels sniffing around, apparently. Here, let me see if I can find it…'

He opens up YouTube on his computer and there are maybe half a dozen videos of Duggie playing and singing different tracks. Two of them are songs that Duggie played at our party. I notice that the videos have already been viewed tens of thousands of times.

'That's amazing.'

'I know. I'm really pleased for him.'

'Me too.'

When we part, it's in the knowledge that in less than two weeks we'll be at University together and within virtual touching distance of one another all the time. It's an exciting prospect.

The day after I get home is the day of my driving test. I feel ready – and my instructor says I'm ready. I have the same nerves as I feel before the start of a rugby match. But that's good. It's adrenaline, and it makes me feel sharp. I have a final 'refresher' lesson which finishes at the Test Centre.

'Good luck,' my instructor says, 'and see you in about forty minutes.'

He goes inside the centre to wait, just as my tester emerges.

It all goes well until he asks me to reverse around a corner. I realise that I've got into a bad position and I don't know whether to stop and start again or just keep going and risk doing it wrong. I ask my tester what I should do.

'Mr. Cummins,' he says, 'doubtless one day you'll be driving by yourself. You need to make the decision as if there's no-one else in the car.'

My heart sinks, but I decide to start again – and this time I execute it perfectly. The test comes to an end.

'If you'd switch the engine off, please.'

I do, and he makes some notes and then searches for and finds, then signs, a bit of paper. He passes it to me. I don't even bother to look at it. I know I've failed.

'Well done, Mr, Cummins. I'm going to pass you.'

'What? Really?!'

'Yes. What we want to see are drivers who are not just competent, but remain clear-headed and deal with things calmly when they go wrong. That's what happens in real driving situations. And you did that. Congratulations.'

I look at the piece of paper. It's my 'Pass' certificate. I step out of the car in a daze. My instructor comes over.



'I should hope so too. Terrible waste of money if you'd failed. And well done. Now, I'm going to drive us home because euphoric teenagers are not what we need at the wheel of a ton of metal.'

On the way back I tell him what happened.

'You made a good choice because you're quite a natural driver. Don't take that as too much of a compliment. You are about to join the club of those drivers most likely to have an accident or be killed: teenagers who have passed their test within the last year. You've passed a test but you have virtually no experience of driving. There is, in fact, one lesson left and during it I'll take you on the Motorway. Motorway driving is a skill all of its own – and one you need to have. In the meantime, remember how vulnerable you are and drive safely, got it?'

'Yes. And thank you.'

'My pleasure. It's always rewarding to have a successful pupil.'

As soon as I'm home – and after Mum and Jules have congratulated me – I call Josh.

'Hi sexy,' he says, 'so…how did it go?'

'Was going very well until I screwed up my reversing.'

'Oh no!'

'I asked the tester if I should start the manoeuvre again and all he said was 'someday you'll be driving on your own, I'm not here to help' or something like that.'

'Oh, Nico…I'm so sorry. Can you get a re-test soon?'

'I'm not going to.'

'But you can't give up…loads of people fail first time.'

'I'm not going to, Josh, because…I PASSED!'

'What? Really? But…ooh, you…how could you DO that to me…?'

I'm laughing.

'Sorry, Josh. It was mean. I apologise. But the point is, one mistake isn't terminal. So if something goes wrong for you, don't give up. He said that starting again from scratch - which is what I did – was fine. The important thing was that I kept calm.'

'I'm so happy for you, Nico. Let's hope things go as well for me in two days' time.'

'I'm sure they will. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.'

'And if I fail, at least you'll be able to drive me everywhere. In fact, I might just go out and buy you a chauffeur's cap…'

'Oh, very funny. But you won't fail. I know it.'

Two days later it's his turn to call me. He's passed.

The day to go to Bristol arrives. I load Mum's car up with all my stuff and give Jules a goodbye hug. She's off to Loughborough to do Sports Science, but her term doesn't start for another two days.

'See you at Christmas.'

'Will do. Look after yourself, bro. At least you'll have Josh there with you.'

'And I have no doubt that there'll be dozens of boys throwing themselves at your feet in Loughborough – unless Bjorn is still in the frame.'

'We'll see.'

Mum has agreed that I can drive. I turn out of our driveway and head for the ring road. It's a quick trip down the A34 towards Newbury, and then a right turn onto the M4. We're in Bristol little more than an hour later.

The campus allows cars into the square in front of the Halls of Residence for two days at the start of term, so I manage to park reasonably close to my room. It's on the first floor, and it takes three trips – with my mother helping with some of the lighter stuff – to get all my things transferred. Quite a few others are arriving at the same time and I meet the boy in the room to my left during our unloading. We introduce ourselves and promise one another coffee once we've settled in. With the car emptied, I give my mother a hug and a kiss.

'Look after yourself, Nick, and if you need anything, just call.'

'I'll be fine, Mum. I've already met my neighbour and Josh is only over there,' I say, pointing at the Hall opposite mine.

'It's nice that you're both here.'

'It's wonderful.'

'Well, give him my love when you see him.'

'I will.'

And with that she's on her way. I give her a final wave and make my way back to my room. It takes me a little while to unpack, and then I message Josh. He messages back to say that he should be arriving in about ten minutes. I go down and wait outside, keeping a look-out for his mother's car. Almost exactly ten minutes later I see it, and walk over to where they park. We hug each other.

'Seems silly to drive such a short distance,' he says, 'but there's no other way to get all this stuff here.'

I help him unload – and it gives me a chance to see exactly where his room is. He's on the ground floor, and more or less in the middle of the building. Once we've got everything unloaded, we see his mother off. And we're left standing there, side-by-side.

I look at him.

He looks at me.

We hug.

'I'll pop over and see your room once I've unpacked,' he says.

'I'll go and fill the kettle.'

'See you in a few.'

We each head for our rooms.

He turns right.

I turn left.

But our lives are headed in the same, single, unshakeable direction as we both embark on this, the next chapter of our journey together.


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