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Knowing Noah

by c m

Chapter 5

We wake to an overcast day; there is little incentive to stir so we just have a bit of a lie in, each enjoying the warmth of the other's body. Inevitably we end up with our hands in each other's groins, taking hold of the hardness we find there and bringing each other to a slow and enjoyable climax. Reluctantly we get up, shower and dress. We've just made some coffee, when there's a tap on the door. I open it, and Tim's standing there.

'Come in, we're just having coffee.'


I get a third mug off the shelf, fill it, and hand it to Tim. I motion him to sit on the sofa, and sit beside him. Noah squats on the floor beside us.

'Sorry about last night,' says Tim.

'You have nothing to apologise for, Tim.'

'I think maybe the combination of the beer, you guys being so open and all the frustrations that have been boiling up inside me…'

'It's OK, Tim. What matters is are you alright?'

'Well, yes and no, I guess. It's sort of a relief to have it out in the open – though I have no idea how I'm going to deal with it – being gay that is – and I certainly have no idea how I am ever going to tell my parents.' He pauses. 'Do you think I need to?'

'I don't think you HAVE to, Tim. I mean, it's not compulsory…but if and when you find a boyfriend…'

'Yes…I see what you mean. Well, maybe I have to cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime…I know this sounds really stupid…but how do I...go about meeting…people like me? Do I need to use Grindr or something?'

'It's up to you, but I think that's the last thing you should do. Your chances of having a bad experience are very high. Grindr is for people who…just want to have sex. If that's what you want, then that's fine but I suspect that you are looking for a bit more than that.'

'God, yes. I mean…that is…I'd love to find someone to…explore all that stuff with…but…'

'Do you mind my asking if you've any experience at all, Tim?'

'No. Pathetic isn't it? Not even a fumble with a friend.'

'In that case you definitely need to take your time and find the right person, Tim.'

'Yes. Easy to say but hard to do, I'm thinking.'

'The University has a LGBT group…might be worth going to few meetings, see if you meet someone you like there?'

'I guess. I'm still having trouble with the whole idea of coming out.'

'Well…you've already done that – to us.'

'Yes, but that's different – and I did it in the heat of the moment. Not that I regret it, but it feels all a bit different in the cold light of day.'

'I understand. Look, there's no rush. And if we can help you in any way…'

'Oh, you've already helped more than you can know. And it's so good to know that I'm not alone; that there are other real people, people I know, who are having the sort of relationship I want. It makes it all feel like it might actually be possible for me too.'

'You'll find the right person, Tim. You're a good-looking and thoroughly nice guy.'

'Thanks. It's good to have friends like you.'

'If you ever need anything, you only have to ask.'

'Thanks. And thanks for the coffee….but I have a lecture to get to.'

'That's OK. Pleased you're feeling a bit better. Drop in anytime.'

I show Tim to the door. As he's about to leave, he turns and gives me a huge hug.

'Thanks, Ollie. And Noah's lovely. You're lucky.'

'I am that. Take care.'

'You too.'

He disappears down the staircase and I shut the door.

'I ought to be going too, Ollie,' says Noah. 'Thanks for a lovely evening – and a wonderful night, as usual.'

'I wish we could be together every night.'

'We'll get our own place next year. Just the two of us if we can.'

'That'll be great. See you later – or tomorrow?'

'Tomorrow, Ollie. I have lectures, then rugby this afternoon and I need to do some work this evening.'

'That's fine. I ought to do the same.'

'And our bodies could probably do with a night off too.'

'Hah! Mine maybe – you seem to be able to go on and on.'

'Call it a gift.'

'Did I say I was complaining?'

He kisses me and goes over to the door.

'We'll catch up Wednesday. I'll call you.'

'Can't wait.'

'Bye for now.'


I can't help the feeling of emptiness that assails me as he goes down the stairs. Stupid, of course. I'll be seeing him in only twenty-four hours – and I can call or message him anytime I want. But there it is. It's how I feel.

I go and sit at my desk and look at the reading list for this week's essay. I need to go to the library. My phone buzzes. I smile. I guess Noah's missing me already. But it isn't Noah, it's a message from Mark, the boy at Esther's party.

'Hi Ollie. Is it still OK to chat about history?'

'Sure,' I text back, 'would be easier to do on the phone not as messaging. Am about to go out, but call me later – after 5.'

'Will do. X.'

He's sent me a kiss. Oh well, that's something to talk about later as well. Then a thought strikes me; I don't know him well – or at all, actually - but I wonder if he and Tim might get on…and Tim's studying history as well…maybe I should try and find out more about Mark. I send Esther a text.

'Hi Esther. Great party and lovely to meet you. Forgive the odd question, but how well do you know Mark, the boy at your party? What type of guy is he? How old? Girlfriend/boyfriend? Thx. Ollie. X.'

I press send. I figure if she's in class, it may be a while before I get a reply. In the meantime, the library's calling me. And phones have to be turned off there anyway.

I manage to get a couple of hours work done in the library before lunch. When I turn my phone back on, there's a message from Esther.

'Hi Ollie! Nice surprise to hear from you. Mark is a very nice guy. He's 17 – just. I'm sure you realise he's gay and fancies you rotten. I've put him str8 about that but we wants to talk anyway. Hope that's OK. He's near top of the class and sweet natured. No boyfriend as far as I know. Why do you ask?'

I reply:

'Thx. Will tell you all later. Too complicated to message.'

There's a pause, then:

'How all very mysterious. Must run. Bell's just gone.'

'OK. Bye. Thx again.'

Promising, I think. I need to talk to Tim and see how he'd feel if I suggested Mark talks to him and not me.

As luck would have it, who was entering the dining hall as I did so, but Tim.

'Hi, Tim. Could I have a chat?'


We both pick up a plate of fish and chips and sit at one of the long tables in the dining hall.

'So…what did you want to chat about?'

So I tell him the story of my weekend with Noah at Esther's party and how Mark approached me and what he wanted – and the fact that he obviously fancies me. I also share the texts I've exchanged with Esther. Tim listens and absorbs what I say.

'So, you're saying that I could help him with his interest in history and maybe, if we like each other, then…there might be more?'

'There's no pressure either way. And if you don't want to take on the talking to him to about history and Uni, that's fine as well. But is seems to me that he's a nice guy according to Esther; he's obviously bright, he's gay, he doesn't have boyfriend at the moment, I can vouch for the fact that he's pretty good-looking…and the fact that he's in London maybe might make it easier for you than going to clubs and things here if you do get together and if you're still worried about being out.'

'He's only 17.'

'And you're 18, right? Can't see the problem there. If things DO go well, then a distance relationship may have its problems - but maybe that's a bridge to cross if and when you come to it.'

I can see him thinking.

'Would it be horribly shallow to ask if I could have a picture of him.?'

We look at each other and burst into laughter.

'Yes…horribly shallow – but I'd have said just the same thing.'

'Look, Ollie, I'd be happy to talk to him about history and all that - assuming he wants to talk to me and not you. As for the rest…why not? What do I have to lose?'

'Cool, Tim. I'll talk with Mark later this afternoon and we can see how it goes.' A thought strikes me. 'Tell you what, why don't you come to my room just before 5, and you can be there when I call. If he likes the sound of things, we can video call and you can take a look at each other and…well…if it works out, you can take it from there.'

'OK…might as well. Wow. Things are moving really fast, aren't they?'

'Are you OK with that, Tim? I don't want to rush you into anything it's just this is an opportunity that's there….'

'I know. As I say…what do I have to lose. Let's do it.'

I spend the afternoon back in the library, and, though I find it hard to concentrate, I make good progress. I get the seed of an idea about the approach I'm going to take to this week's essay, and I know from experience that once I have that, the rest is much easier. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I head back to my room shortly after 4.30 and put the kettle on for a cup of tea. I want a few minutes to gather my thoughts before Tim arrives and Mark calls. Right on time, at 4.55 Tim appears.

'Ready for this?' I say.

'Ready as I'll ever be.'

'Cool. Help yourself to a cup of tea – or coffee if you prefer.'

'Tea would be great.'

He settles down on the sofa beside me just as my phone rings.

'Hey, Mark. Good to speak to you.'

'You too, Ollie, and first of all I know I owe you an apology.'

'You do?'

'For coming on to you. Sorry. I truly didn't know that you and Noah were an item...fuck…I didn't even know Noah was gay, so sorry.'

'That's OK, Mark…and if it's any consolation, if Noah and I weren't together I'd have been flattered.'

'Oh, well, that's nice of you to say.' There's a pause. 'Umm…would it still be OK to help me with my history applications to Uni?'

'Sure…but I have an alternative suggestion for you to consider.'

'Really? OK…what's that?'

'I have a good friend here at Uni called Tim. He's also studying history and he has the same things in common with you as I do.'

It goes quiet. Mark is clearly working out what I mean.


'Not only is he a better historian than me, actually, but he's a really nice guy, and he'd be more than happy to help if you'd like to talk to him and see if you get along. He's pretty good looking too, and unattached if that's of any interest.'

'Golly, sounds perfect. OK…how do I get hold of him?'

'He's here now if you'd like to chat. I can put you on video if you'd like to do the same…that way you could see him as well as chat.'

'Wow…OK. Hold on.'

The screen flashes and I press 'accept video'. And there he is. Mark. Blond and looking good enough to eat. I pass the phone over to Tim.'

'Fuck!' Tim clearly can't believe his eyes, but he quickly gathers himself. 'Ummm…that is…hi Mark, I'm Tim.'

'Hi Tim. Thanks for offering to help.'

I look over Tim's shoulder and I can see that Mark has a big smile on his face. Tim is grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

'Ummm…if you mean it, I'd really like to talk with you, Tim. You look really nice by the way.'

'Sure I mean it…and so do you.'

I lean over so Mark can see me.

'Look, why don't you two exchange info and then talk to each other direct. I'm sure you'd rather chat without me being around.'

'OK. Thanks Ollie. And thanks for introducing me to Tim.'

'That's fine. Let me know how you two get along.'

'Will do.'

Meanwhile, Tim has got his phone out and is busy sending Mark his details. Tim's phone buzzes as Mark returns the compliment.

'I'll call you in five minutes when I'm back in my room,' says Tim.

'Great…look forward to it. Thanks again, Ollie.'

'No problem.'

Mark ends the call.

'Well, what do you think?' I ask.

'He looks and sounds really nice. Thanks, Ollie. Umm…if you'll excuse me, I ought to go and call him.'

'Sure thing, Tim, thanks for offering to do the mentoring bit. Have fun.'

Tim disappears at a rate of knots. I smile. I hope it works out; it would be great for both of them if they hit it off. And I can't wait to tell Noah how I hope I've solved my problem and Tim's all in one go.

I bump into Rob on the way in to dinner.

'I don't know what you've done to Tim, but he's bloody dancing on air.'

'Well, I may have helped with half his problem. But, if you don't mind, I think it's up to him to tell you the details if he wants to.'

'Ah…OK…well, well done anyway. I was a bit worried about him last night to be honest.'

'Fingers crossed.'

'Right…now what's for dinner?'

I don't see Tim at dinner, so afterwards I go round to his room and tap on the door. There's a short delay, but I can hear voices inside - so I wait. The door eventually opens and when Tim sees it's me he invites me in enthusiastically.

'Sorry for the wait, but I was talking with Mark.'

'What? Since 5.30 this afternoon?'

'What? Oh, no…well…we talked earlier and we got on so well, Ollie. He's a really, really nice guy and we talked about…everything…and I told him how I'd only just come out to you two and all about my parents and all that and he was really sympathetic and he's only been out for a year and he hasn't done stuff with anybody either, or well not much, and he's really keen on history and he's clever, Ollie, and he seems to really like me and I tried to answer all his questions and we agreed that we'd like to meet up and he's going to talk to his parents and tell them who I am and why he's talking to me though he isn't going to say anything about me being gay or anything and if his folks think it's a good idea he's going to come here on a Friday in ten days time and stay over to get a flavour of the University and then he'll go home on the Sunday and I can't wait to meet him and I've only just got off the phone because his parents say that's fine and I'm going to talk to them tomorrow to arrange the details…'

All this comes out in a single non-stop stream.

'Whoa, whoa, Tim…slow down. So I take it you're telling me that things are good?'

'Good? They are fucking FANTASTIC – and all thanks to you.'

He comes over, grabs me in a massive hug and gives me a big kiss, smack on my lips.

'Gee, thanks Tim. Well, I'm pleased for you.'

He slowly starts to calm down.

'Oh, Ollie…it's so…exciting…sorry about the kiss by the way.'

'That's OK.'

'God…it will be alright, won't it? Him coming to stay?'

'Sure. Look…he doesn't HAVE to share your bed if you guys want to take it slowly. The college has spare rooms, or he can sleep on the couch…or if he does share your bed , you don't have to do stuff. It's down to you two to work out what you want. There aren't any rules – except the ones you make for yourselves. Just don't rush things. And if you do decide to…do stuff…then only do the things you're both comfortable with. If what Mark says is true, it sounds like it will be a bit of a joint voyage of discovery anyway.'

'Is that how it was for you and Noah? If it's OK to ask.'

'Sort of. He was a bit more experienced than me, but that made it even more important not to rush things. He didn't put any pressure on me. We only went…all the way…when I was ready.'

'Does it…do you…isn't it…that is...oh God, there's so much I want to ask…but it's embarrassing.'

'You can ask me anything you want, and I won't be embarrassed – but you don't have to do it all now, OK?'

'No, no…of course not. I just can't get him out of my head…and the fact that he's coming to stay.'

'Well, that's normal. I still can't get Noah out of my head most days and he's around whenever I want – more or less.'

'Thanks again, Ollie. Have you started work on this week's assignment?'

'Yeah…I spent some time in the library today.'

'You inky-fingered swot, you.'

'Well, Noah's working today so we try to match each other, that way when we want time together neither of us is under pressure – or that's the theory.'

'Does it work?'

'Sort of. Trouble is we're still at the 'can't keep our hands off each other' stage – but that's probably too much information.'

'Actually it sounds wonderful.'

'It has its compensations. Right, I must leave you and call Noah. OK if I tell him how things are with you?'

'Yeah…that's fine. Thanks for popping round…and thank you SOOOO much for introducing me to Mark.'

'Pleasure. Catch you again soon.'

'Sure thing. Night Ollie.'

I'm tempted to stop in at the bar for a drink, but in the end I decide against. Back in my room, I call Noah's number, but there's no reply. He has a habit of listening to music - loud music – through his earphones if he's working. It would distract me, but each to his own. But it does mean he sometimes doesn't hear his phone ringing. Oh well, it will keep 'til tomorrow. I do a another hour's work on my assignment and then call it a day. Although I miss him, I'm actually grateful for a night on my own. I bury my face in the pillow. It smells of Noah's cologne. I find it comforting - and unexpectedly arousing. I take care of business, Noah's name on my lips as I do so, before promptly falling soundly asleep.

I wake to the insistent ringing of my mobile. I look at the time; 8.45. I've slept much later than I intended. I pick the phone up; it's Noah, on video.

'Morning gorgeous…eww…maybe not so gorgeous,' he says as he clocks my bleary eyes.

'Thanks – and I love you too.'

'Late night?' he asks

'Not really, just tired I guess. And quite an emotional day yesterday.'

'Really? Tell me more.'

I explain about Tim and Mark.

'Wow…way to go. Counsellor, dancer and now matchmaker.'

'Fuck off,' I say with a smile.

'Hmm…someone's woken up grumpy. Look, I have favour to ask. Did you play rugby at school?

'Err…yes,' I say warily.

'Were you any good?'

'Well…they kept picking me but I hated it.'

'What position did you play.'


'Ummm…I don't suppose you'd consider a one-off comeback?'


'We've had a late drop out for this afternoon. The usual suspects aren't available for one reason or another. Please Ollie?'

'Are you out of your mind? I didn't enjoy it at school and you're asking me to take part with a bunch of hearties all of whom will doubtless be six foot two and seventeen stone and wanting nothing more than to tear me limb from limb.'

'You'd be on the wing. That's pretty much out of the way of the really big lads.'

'Do you love me, Noah?'

'Of course I do.'

'Then why do you want me beaten to a pulp? Look, I'm not one for stereotypes, but I should have thought that one of the fringe benefits of being avowedly gay is that I'd be excused rugby.'

'I'm gay and I play.'

'Yes, but that's because you're mad. And built like a brick shithouse. I'm not, you may have noticed.'

'Please Ollie?'

I sigh. I can't refuse him anything. Even this madness.

'I must be out of my fucking mind. Where do I get kit from? And when and where?'

'I'll come and get you. About 1.30. Game starts at 2.30. Kit at the ground. Have you got a jockstrap?'

'No...nor any boots.'

'OK…I'll sort that. Least I can do. What are you doing this morning?'

'From the sound of it, writing my essay while I've still got fingers that work.'

'Oh stop making a fuss, Ollie. You'll be fine. And think of all those naked bodies you'll get to see in the shower.'

'I've seen all the naked bodies in showers I ever want to at school thank you, and anyway, the only naked body I'm interested in now is yours.'

'Well, you'll get to see that too.'

'I get to see that anyway. You owe me big time for this.'

'Anything you want Ollie, anything at all.'

I shower and get dressed. I can't believe I've agreed. I'm too late for breakfast in college, so I head for the high street and get a bacon and egg sandwich at the local café, before returning to my room. I've no sooner opened the door than my phone buzzes.

'Could we have a chat later today?' It's from Tim.

'Sure…if I'm still in one piece. Agreed to play rugby for Noah. Must be mad. Should be back around 6.'

A pause.

'Sooner you than me. I'll pop round at 6. I'll bring painkillers.'

'I suggest plaster casts and gin. See you later.'

Although I meant it as a joke, I do spend the morning putting together the outline of my essay…and, modesty aside, I'm pleased with it. When I check the time I see that it's already nearly 1 o'clock. I'm hungry – but I don't think anything too substantial would be a good idea before rugby. I go to the dining hall and settle for a salad before heading back to my room. I put a towel, some shower gel and shampoo, a comb and my cologne in a bag and wait for Noah. He turns up just before 1.30.

'Hi Ollie…I am SO grateful for this. Here.'

He throws me a box containing an athletic support.

'What about boots?'

'Hey…we have the same size feet; I have two pairs, one's yours.'

'Do I really have to do this?'

He comes over and wraps me in his arms.

'Look, if you really don't want to that's fine. I wouldn't make you do anything you don't want to do.'

I hate him. He's said the one thing that guarantees I'll play.

'OK, Noah, let's do this.'

'You're a superstar, Ollie.'

'Yeah….remember to tell the hospital nurses that later today.'

'You'll be fine. I know you will. Your only problem is that you always underestimate yourself.'

And there's truth in that. Though I'm certainly not going to admit it. Not to him, and not now.

'Come on then, lead me to the slaughter.'

We walk down to where I keep my bike. I unlock it and throw my bag over the handlebars. Noah has left his at the gate, so we walk up there and then cycle to the ground which is about fifteen minutes away. The sight of the posts and the changing rooms bring back powerful memories – none of them good.

I follow Noah inside and into the 'home' dressing room, where he introduces me.

'Hi guys, this is Ollie who's kindly stepped into the breach at the last minute. He played for his school but will tell you he's a bit out of practice. Ollie, this is Mike, the captain.'

Contrary to my expectations, Mike isn't a hulking Neanderthal. He's a curly-haired, fresh-faced boy who steps forward and shakes my hand. Although not huge, he's clearly very fit. He has piercing green eyes that look straight into mine.

'Hi Ollie, we are so grateful you've stepped into the breech. I understand you're a winger?'

'Yes…after a fashion,' I say.

'Terrific. Don't worry about being out of practice, I'm sure it will all come back to you.'

If only he knew, I think.

Noah finds me a set of kit and produces a set of what look like nearly new boots.

'Where are these from?'

'We have the same size feet, remember? So this is my best pair and I'll wear my old ones.'

'Don't be daft. You need to wear the better ones – I'll be fine with your old ones.'

'Well, if you're sure.'

'I'm sure.'

I strip off and put on the jockstrap, followed by a hooped shirt, blue shorts and striped socks. Noah's boots are a perfect fit and I'm good to go.

We all trot out onto the pitch where the opposition are already running around and throwing balls to each other. They look massive. Noah comes over to me.

'Right, Ollie, let's do a bit of a run with a ball.'

Noah gets a ball and we run down the touchline, passing it from one to the other. To my relief, some of what I know does, indeed, seem to be still there and I catch and throw without making any mistakes.

'Way to go, Ollie. I told you.'

Next we stand maybe forty yards apart and he hoists the ball high into the air, I position myself underneath it and, miracle of miracles, make a clean catch. I kick the ball high in return…and Noah drops it.

'Don't say a word,' he says.

'Never crossed my mind,' I say.

We continue to practice for another five minutes and, all in all, it's OK. Whether or not that will transfer to the game itself is another matter. Then the referee appears from the dressing room, blows his whistle, and we're all ready to start. Mike calls us all into a huddle and gives us the pre-game pep talk.

'Right guys, hard from the start. Let's do the simple things well. No over-ambition and we'll see where we are fifteen minutes in. Get the ball wide when we have the chance – stretch their defence and don't miss tackles. OK?'

There are mutual grunts all round.

The other team have won the toss and are going to kick off. As a winger, I know it's my duty to take the touchline. I hope the fuck that the first kick doesn't come my way.

Inevitably, it does. It's a high kick that comes straight to me…with three opposing forwards barrelling down on me. I catch it safely enough and – out of pure survival instinct – sidestep the first thug who's headed for me, and manage to pass it sideways to another team member. That doesn't stop the second of their players from crashing into me a split -second after I've released the ball. I go down like a sack of potatoes and so am only vaguely aware of the celebrations going on. My pass has released the centre and the fact that three of the other side have targeted me means that there's a big gap that the three-quarters take advantage of and run the ball over the line in the corner for a try.

Meanwhile I'm struggling to breathe under the weight of the mountain that's lying on top of me, and my ribs feel like they've been punched by Mohammed Ali. The mountain eventually gets up and Noah is there, holding out a hand to help me to my feet.

'Brilliant catch and pass Ollie…are you OK?'

My breathing is still ragged but I sense that I haven't sustained any permanent damage.

'I'll be fine, Noah.'

I see Mike look across at me and give me the thumbs up. I give him a wave of acknowledgement. We miss the conversion, and then it's time for them to restart the game. This time, fortunately, they kick the other way and the game dissolves into a messy forward tussle – which suits me just fine. In fact. I only get to touch the ball once more that half, from which I make a respectable run of fifteen or so yards before being bundled into touch.

In the second half, both sides kick a penalty and the game ebbs and flows without either team really getting on top. I'm only called on to do three things in the entire half. First, I have to tackle my opposite number as he comes charging towards me. More by luck than judgement, I pull off a tackle that would have made my rugby master at school proud - even if it's at the cost of getting his knee in my neck. Second, the ball is thrown to me and I make perhaps ten yards before passing it back inside as I get tackled and third…ah, third…the ball goes loose and by instinct I fall on top of it to secure it. Had my brain been working at even a fraction of its normal capacity, it would have told me not to be so stupid, as a second later it appears that the whole world has fallen on top of me. My legs and arms are trapped under a mass of heaving, sweaty bodies. I can't move and I can scarcely breathe. I hear the referee's whistle and slowly the pressure's relieved as, one after the other, the players get back to their feet. I'm in considerable pain – not least from my lungs which I thought were about to burst from lack of air. I lie there, face down, gasping for breath with nerves sending messages of pain from seemingly every part of my body.

'Ollie, Ollie…are you alright?'

Noah's voice seems to be coming from a long way away. I feel hands lifting me up to a sitting position and then his face is close to mine.

'Tell me you're OK, Ollie.'

I nod weakly, but though my lungs have regained their ability to breathe, the rest of my body simply doesn't seem to work. I feel myself being lifted to my feet, supported by Mike on one side and Noah on the other. They help me painfully off the pitch, and Noah puts his track suit top round my shoulders.

'Where does it hurt, Ollie?' asks Noah – and I can hear genuine concern in his voice.

'Every fucking where, ' I growl and then, bizarrely enough, I start laughing – which is a mistake because it makes my chest hurt even more. Then Noah's laughing – more out of relief than anything else, I think.

'You be OK here?'

I nod and Mike and Noah return to the game. It only has a few minutes left to run, but by the time the final whistle sounds the pain has resolved itself into one or two particular spots. My ribs hurt and my left thigh is throbbing and it hurts to turn my neck, but otherwise I seem to be functioning normally. The players come off the pitch – apparently we've won although I can't say I care much one way or the other – and Noah comes over with Mike to check how I am.

'I'll survive,' I say.

'You were brilliant, Ollie,' says Mike, 'thanks so much for playing…and sorry you got caught in that pile-up at the end.'

'Brilliant' seems a bit of an overstatement to me, but I let it pass.

'My own fault for diving on the ball. I wish I could control my instincts better.'

I'm still a bit wobbly on one leg where my thigh doesn't want to take the pressure of my weight, so Noah puts an arm over his shoulder and helps me back to the changing room.

'A hot shower will help, Ollie.'

'Several paracetamol would help more.'

It takes me time to strip. Getting the shirt over my head is a very painful process even with Noah's help, so we are almost the last into the showers. It's an old fashioned single room with lots of shower-heads – none of the single cubicle arrangements that are more common in modern set-ups. Despite what I said to Noah about not being interested in naked bodies, it's only human nature to check other guys out.

It never ceases to amaze me that a single piece of male anatomy can come in so many different shapes and sizes. Long ones, short ones; fat ones, slim ones; pale ones, dark ones; straight ones and ones with a bend in; long foreskins, short foreskins, and no foreskins (although there weren't many like that on show). And some with a massive bush of pubic hair, others trimmed like me and some shaved like Noah. I take the shower next to curly-haired Mike. He turns to me.

'How are you feeling now, Ollie?'

'A bit battered and bruised, but I'll survive.'

'Good. Here, use this.'

He offers me his shower gel as I've left mine in the changing room.


I see his eyes flick briefly down to my groin; like I say, you can't help it. And I can't pretend I haven't done the same. His cock is pretty much a mirror image of mine, although his pubic hair is still a full bush where mine's trimmed.

'So how do you know Noah?' Mike asks through the hiss of the water.

'Met at an audition for a play.'

'Oh…you both act?'


'I did some at school, but nothing since.'

'Well, if you want to give it a go, why not come along? There's always room for one more.'

'Maybe…seem to have a lot going on already, though.'

'Yeah – so many options aren't there?'

'You said it.'

I walk out of the shower and grab my towel. Noah's right; the hot water has helped but I can feel myself rapidly starting to stiffen up; even where I haven't been battered, I've used muscles that haven't been used for a while and they are starting to complain.

Noah follows me into the changing room and we both get dressed – somewhat gingerly in my case.

'I'll give you a massage later, Ollie.'

'I think I'm too sore for that, Noah.'

'We'll see.'

We all go into the bar for a drink, but I'm aware that I agreed to meet Tim at 6 so I don't stay long. Noah offers to come with me, but I can see he's enjoying the company of his other friends so I tell him to stay and we'll catch up later.

'Ok…if you're sure, Ollie.'

Mike comes over and thanks me again.

'Maybe you'd consider turning out for us again sometime?'

'Thank you for the compliment, but does the phrase 'hell freezing over' mean anything to you?'

He laughs. 'Well thanks anyway. Hope you're not feeling too sore in the morning.'

For a moment I wonder if he's saying he knows about Noah's and my relationship, but I realise I'm reading too much into it. He holds out his hand, and I shake it as our eyes meet; green eyes boring into green eyes.

If I wasn't already with Noah, I'd be tempted.

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