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Making Nico

by c m

Chapter 4

After maybe twenty minutes, I pull myself together. I think of all the positive things he's said about loving me and wanting us to be together. And he's right about giving each other a little space. And maybe the whole sex thing was just him being hypothetical. And even if it wasn't, he's right that we should be able to discuss it. And he's right that we have, in fact, already crossed that bridge even if it's in a limited way. And he's right that I have feelings for Piers but that doesn't make me love him any less. Even if I'd never want to go it with anyone else ever again. I realise that I've made a huge mess of things. I need to go and find him and apologise.

He's in the buffet car, sitting at a table on his own, nursing what looks like a very large G&T. He looks up and sees me. He says nothing and just turns his head back down to look at his drink.

'May I join you? 'I ask.

He shrugs his shoulders. 'I can't stop you.'

'I'm sorry, Josh. I was being very stupid and very unkind and you were being sensible and honest and it was...or should have been…a good and important conversation which I fucked up. Please would you forgive me?'

He looks at me and shakes his head. I feel my world start to disintegrate.

'I….you won't…?'

He holds up his hand to stop me. And looks up. His eyes bore into mine.

'I'm not shaking my head because I won't forgive you, I'm shaking my head at the fact that two boys who love each other could create a row over something I think they basically agree about. Yes, you said something fucking stupid – and it WAS fucking stupid – but that doesn't justify my walking out in a temper which was equally fucking stupid.'

'Sorry…I'll try not to be so fucking stupid in future.'

'We're all fucking stupid from time to time….now, wanna G&T?'

'Yes please, Josh.'

He comes back not with a G&T but with a couple of straws.

'I think this one is probably big enough for both of us. I'll fall over if I drink it all myself.'

I go to take a straw from his and he wraps his hand round my fingers.

'I love you, you stupid fucking idiot. Nothing will ever change that.'

'And I love you too.'

He leans over the table and kisses me.

We make short work of the G&T and make our way back to our cabin. He closes the door behind us.

'You're forgiven on one condition,' he says.


'Yes. You're forgiven provided that you're naked in bed beside me in less than thirty seconds.'

'Oo, er…well, I can't risk not being forgiven.'

We both shed our clothes in a flurry of shirts and shorts and then we're lying on the somewhat narrow cot. The only way we can fit is for Josh to be on top of me. Which is just fine as he proceeds to take me as only he can, buried deep inside me, as we move intuitively, instinctively together until he finally reaches his climax.

'Mmm,' he says, ' it feels so-o-o-o-o much better with you than with Zak. Now…how about I ride you since we're in the perfect position?'

'You read my mind.' I say with a smile.

Our make-up sex is not only good, but it also clears the way for us to talk again about what giving each other a bit more freedom means.

'For instance,' says Josh, 'I fancy getting involved with the Balloon Club, but I know you're not keen on anything involving heights.'

'That is true,' I say, 'and I…this probably sounds weird…would like to have a crack with the Archery Group.'

'Oh, yes...that's what that Mikey does, isn't it?'


'OK. Well, that sounds like a good start. And both those things will probably involve events that mean going away for a day or a weekend without each other. Now, to clear the air, let's talk about sex again. First, I meant every word I said about that not being the point of us having a bit more freedom. Freedom is principally about all the other stuff we've discussed.'

'And I accept that.'


'And when it comes to sex, whilst I know the circumstances were a bit special, I accept that we've sort of crossed that bridge, haven't we?'

He smiles. 'Yes…but you're right, it was in a very particular way and over a very particular bridge. And, for further clarity, I'm not suggesting that we should ever feel free to sleep with anyone we may just have met for a one-night stand. But let me ask you a hypothetical question. And it is hypothetical, right? If – and it's a big if, and it may never happen – either of us gets to know someone well enough to trust, and if they are aware that you and I are still together so there's no long-term relationship at stake, and if it gets to the point where going to bed with them feels like what we'd do if we weren't with each other, and if you and I have told each other how we feel and if, and only if, we're both OK with it, then, and only then, and with all these conditions satisfied, we gave each other permission to do it, how would you feel about that?'

'It's a lot of 'ifs'…'

'Exactly. That's the point.'

Truth is, the more I think about it, the more I hate the idea of it. I'm OK with giving each other some space to do things by ourselves, but not this. We agreed to have sex with Piers and Zak because we both admitted that we were curious about what having sex with someone else would be like. But my curiosity is now satisfied. It sounds as though Josh's isn't. But I don't want to disappoint Josh. Not if this is what he wants. Even if it feels like a trapdoor is about to open underneath my feet.

'Sounds…OK…I guess.'

'You don't sound sure.'

He knows me too well. And I can't lie about this. I can't.

'I…it's just…I know we don't own each other, and I know we slept with Piers and Zak, but this…this feels like much more of a big deal…even with all those 'ifs'. We slept with Piers and Zak because we agreed we were curious about doing it with someone else, and we had a chance to do it in safety with people we knew and loved. But that's over now. Or it is for me. My curiosity is satisfied. I love you, Josh and I'm happy for us to have space to do our own things but…not this…I don't want to…share you…in that way…with anyone else ever again. Sorry.'

He smiles and ruffles my hair.

'I love you too. And don't be sorry. It's nice. It's just something I thought it was worth exploring…talking through. Hypothetically. But if you're not happy – and you're not - then we won't mention it again.'

A wave of relief washes over me.

'Thanks, Josh. And…I promise…if you ever feel like having sex, there's a boy available who will never ever say no.'

'I know,' he says with a smile, and he gives me a kiss.

In bed that night I ask him if he's truly OK with us being exclusive to each other.

'I don't want to tie you down, Josh. Not if this is a freedom that matters to you. I mean, there were a lot of 'ifs' in what you described.'

'Nico, I suppose I just wanted to know where you stood. And I'm pleased you said what you said. I'm totally OK with us not sharing each other. I don't want or need the freedom to sleep with anyone else. You're right that what happened at the villa was an experiment and one we can draw a line under.'

I hug him to me.

'I'm sorry, Josh. It's just been my stupid insecurities speaking. And I know I have no need to feel that way, not with you, it's just…how I'm made.'

'I know, Nico. It's just part of what makes you the wonderful boy that you are. And I should have realised. It's me who should be sorry. And for the record, my curiosity is satisfied too. You are all and more that I could ever want.'

And we fall asleep in each other's arms.

Once the new academic year starts, our new accommodation turns out to be everything and more that we hoped. Ollie, Mikey and Nikki fit in perfectly – and everyone is very good about taking their turns at the various jobs on the rota. The second year of my course is more interesting than the first and I find I'm working harder and enjoying it more. Josh – and Ollie – as medics work long hours and often all Josh wants to do when he has some time off is to relax with me…which suits me just fine.

Everything seems to be going perfectly until I'm sitting writing an – overdue – essay one Wednesday afternoon, when my mobile rings. It's my Mum. She and Dad are in Singapore on a combined holiday and business trip, so I wonder what's up.

'Hi, Mum, what's up?'

'It's Jules, love. She's had an accident and is in hospital. Don't worry, she's OK, but I thought you ought to know.'

'In hospital? What happened?'

'She was travelling to an away match with a couple of the other girls in the team, and a lorry pulled out in front of them. Jules was trapped in the car. She's got some nasty cuts and bruises, a punctured lung and her left leg's broken.'

'Oh my god. Which hospital is she in?'


'How long will she be there?'

'They think about a week.'

'I'll catch a train and go up there.'

'Do you have the time? It would be wonderful if you could. There's no way Dad and I could make it back for at least 48 hours.'

'Don't worry. It's fine. I expect Josh will come with me.'

'OK. We'll pay for your hotel while you're there. Just let us know the details and Dad can phone and pay by card. And call us once you've seen her. We're so worried.'

'OK, Mum. Why don't you let me go and see her before you make any arrangements? I'm sure she's in good hands and it's silly for you to rush back if she's being taken good care of. I'll call you as soon as I've seen her. I'll just go and tell Josh and then let you know our arrangements.'

When I tell Josh what has happened, he's all concern, but when I say that I'm going up to see her and does he want to come too, he looks a little flustered.

'I'd love to, Nico but I have a big medical seminar tomorrow. It's compulsory to attend. I can see if they'll give me leave to miss, but….'

'No, no, don't worry Josh. I know you medics. And I'll be fine on my own. Don't worry.'

'Well...if you're sure.'

'I'm sure. And I need to go right now so no time to get a pass anyway.'

'OK. Give her my love.'

'Will do.'

I take the train up to Loughborough and take a cab direct to my hotel where I drop off my bag, before taking an Uber to the hospital. The receptionist tells me where to find Jules. She's been put in a side room following the insertion of a drain in her chest and having her leg reset.

When I get my first sight of her, she looks a mess; her face is a mass of bruises and a couple of cuts have clearly been stitched. Her leg is in plaster and I can see the tube coming from her chest into a drain. When she sees me, she does her best to smile.

'NICO! What a lovely surprise. How come you didn't tell me you were coming?'

'As soon as Mum and Dad told me what had happened and where you were, I jumped on a train. Sorry, I should have called.'

'I probably wouldn't have been able to answer anyway. Wow, it's great to see you. How are you?'

'Never mind me, how are YOU?' I say, giving her a light kiss on one of the few places she doesn't seem to have a bruise.

'I've been better,' she says with a little smile, 'but it's lovely to see you. Thanks so much for coming.'

'How could I not? Especially with Mum and Dad away. Is there anything I can get you?'

'I'm fine, thanks. Being very well looked after. And it probably all looks worse than it is.'

'Have they said how long you'll be in?'

'A week, But that's down to the punctured lung. And it will be a few weeks after that before the thing has fully healed.'

'Have you got someone to help look after you when you're back in College?'

'I've got lots of friends – and Aston's been great already.'


Even under her bruises, I can see Jules blushing.

'Ummm….yeah…Aston's my…boyfriend.'

'You've kept him a secret. How long have you two been together?'

'About six weeks. Though we've known each other longer than that. He's lovely. You'll like him.'

'I'm sure I shall. Anything you want to tell me about him?'

'If you hang around, he'll be here in about half an hour and you can meet him.'

'Oh, OK. Cool.'

'And how is the ever-lovely Josh?'

'As ever-lovely as ever,' I say with a smile, 'he would have come too, but he has a medic seminar that's compulsory.'

'No problem. And I love the way your eyes just light up when you talk about him. I take it you're still hopelessly in love?'

'You bet.'

'Give him my love when you see him.'

And we just fall into our routine of talking about anything and everything until, almost exactly half an hour later, the door opens and a tall, good-looking black guy walks through it.

'Hey Jules,' he says in a voice that is pure chocolate. He sees me. 'And this must be Nick?'

He holds out a hand which I take. 'Good to meet you, Aston,' I say.

'And you too. Jules has told me so much about you.'

'Should I be worried?' I ask.

Aston laughs. 'No. All good. And I hope I'm not intruding. I didn't know you'd be here.'

'Absolutely not intruding, and even Jules didn't know I was coming, so no prob.'

'Ah. OK. You're at Bristol, right?'


'And you have a very handsome, very lovely boyfriend who you don't deserve – according to Jules,' he says with a grin.

I give Jules a look.

'Thanks, sis,' I say, then, '…and yes, that's about the height of it. I'm very lucky.'

'As am I to be going out with your sister,' he says.

I make vomiting noises at which they both laugh. I reckon it's time to leave the two of them to have some time together.

'Look, sis, I'll leave you two to it. I'll pop back in tomorrow before I go back to Bristol.'

'Where are you staying?' she asks.

'Premier Inn round the corner. Mum and Dad are paying. I'll give them a call and update them now I've seen you. And nice to meet you, Aston. Don't let her boss you around.'

'Easier said than done,' he says with a big smile,' and good to meet you too.'

I give Jules a kiss and then make my way back to the hotel. Once there, I call Mum and tell her that I've seen Jules and that though she's a bit of a mess, she seems to be fine and is being well looked after and that I don't think they need to come back in any hurry. I don't say anything about Aston. That's down to Jules as and when she's ready. I also try calling Josh, but he's either out or busy as it just goes to answer.

I have a meal in the restaurant attached to the hotel and then go for a drink in the bar. I'm aware of a middle-aged guy giving me the eye. He comes over.

'Can I buy you a drink?' he asks.

'And why would you want to do that?'

'Because I like the look of you,' he says.

'I've got a drink thanks.'

'Would you like another one?'

'No. Thank you.'

'No need to be so unfriendly, it just looks as though you're on your own and I wondered if you'd like a bit of company. I'm Brian.' He holds out a hand which I ignore.

'Look…Brian…you're wasting your time. If you're looking for some easy pick-up I suggest you try somewhere, or someone, else.'

'I don't mind if it's not easy. You look like you're well worth the effort. And my place is a lot more comfortable than here.'

My patience is now exhausted. I've tried to be polite. But enough.

'Brian, go fuck yourself. I know what you're after, and I wouldn't sleep with you if you were the last person in the world. Now leave me alone or I'll report you for harassment.' I say this in a voice loud enough for the barman and one or two other customers to hear.

'Your loss,' is all he says before finishing his drink and walking out.

'Are you alright?' the barman asks me.

'Yes. But allowing sleazeballs like that in here doesn't do this place any favours.'

'I'm really sorry, but there's not much we can do about it. Can I offer you a drink on the house?'

'That's kind, but no thank you.'

I drain my glass and make my way upstairs to my room. I feel somehow dirty, so I shower and then lie on the bed and watch TV for an hour. I try calling Josh again but there's still no reply. I crawl under the covers and into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning I have breakfast and then go back to the hospital. Jules looks a little less tired today.

'Aston seemed nice,' I say.

'He's lovely. A real gentleman too.'

'And good in bed?' I ask with a grin.

'NICO!! What sort of a question is that?!'

'I'm waiting…' is all I say.

'Hmmph. Very good, as it happens. Not that that's any of your business.'

'Indeed. But I'm pleased you've met someone nice. It's been a while since Bjorn, hasn't it?'

'Ah, the lovely Bjorn. Yes, yes it has. One or two mini-disasters in between, but I think I've struck gold with Aston.'

'Good. Right, well I'm going to head back to Bristol. I'll come up and see you again once you're out of here. Probably with Josh.'

'That would be lovely – and give Josh my love. Look after yourself, Nico. It's been great to see you; really cheered me up.'

'Just take it easy, OK? And see you soon.'

We embrace carefully and give each other a kiss.

'Love you, sis.'

'Love you bro.'

Having seen her, I'm a lot more relaxed on the journey home. And I'm looking forward to being back home with Josh.

When I get back to the house, I make my way up to our room to give Josh an update. It looks as though he's been busy tidying up.

Josh looks a little flushed, but his face cracks in a smile as he sees me, and he gives me a big hug.

'Sorry Nico, just been tidying up a bit. I had a bit of a party back here with a couple of my fellow medics last night after the seminar. Well, more than a bit of a party actually. Come on in and tell me all about Jules. How is she?'

'She's…OK. She looks a bit of a mess with all the bruising, but they've reset her leg and the treatment on her lung all seems to be going well. They hope she'll be out within a week, but her leg will be in plaster for six weeks and it might take that long for her lung to heal properly too.'

'That'll slow her down,' he says with a smile.

I laugh.

'Yes...she'll be hell to live with. I pity her housemates. But it could have been so much worse.'

'What's happened to the lorry driver?'

'The police are involved. Jules has given a statement, but the car she was in had a dashcam so it's all on video.'

I go over to dump my bag on the bed, and catch a half-empty glass of water that hasn't made it through Josh's clean-up process. It falls to the floor and I bend down to pick it up. There's something sticking out from under the bed and I pick that up too.

'Leave that…' says Josh, but it's too late.

And what I have in my hand is an empty condom wrapper.

'What's this doing here, Josh?'

'I have no of the guys must have dropped it last night.'

'Dropped it? It's empty. Josh…please…tell me the truth.'

He collapses onto the side of the bed and sighs.

'I'm so sorry Nico. I…we…got very drunk last night and after the others had left, it was just me and Ollie left. And…well…Ollie asked if he could…if we could…and I told him he knew that I was with you and he said yes but you were away and you'd never know and we both knew that we liked each other a lot and it would just be a bit of fun, and that he fancied me like fuck and then he kissed me and groped me and…I lost control…and well...we…we… I was drunk, Nico. Very drunk. I'm so sorry. It wasn't planned. It just…happened.'

'And he just happened to have a packet of condoms with him?'

'Yes. Well, he must have done....'

'And you had sex with each other?'

He nods.

'Full sex that needed a condom?'

'I don't know. Genuinely. I was very drunk. And…I'm so sorry.'

I'm stunned. I've been away for two days visiting my smashed-up twin, and Josh has taken the chance to have some casual sex with a housemate. I feel numb and hollow…and sick.

'I think I…need some time, Josh.'

'I'm sorry Nico…it was a terrible mistake…it didn't mean anything…and it won't happen again, I promise.'

'Until the next time you get drunk, maybe - or perhaps the fact that we had sex with Piers and Zak means you think it's alright to do it with anybody now…' I say, as I walk out of the room.

'No, Nico…it wasn't like that…Nico?…please? Nico…!'

His voice follows me down the stairs but I end up running into the kitchen and then out into the garden before the tears that are running down my cheeks become too obvious.

I'm in a fug of total misery. I need to talk to someone. I'd normally go to Jules, but she's in no condition for me to burden her with my problems. The only other person I can think of is Piers. I call him.

'Hi Nick, how nice to hear from you,' says Piers' friendly voice as he picks up my call.

'Hi, Piers. I need to talk. Is there any chance I could come up and see you?'

'Need to talk? Of course. Your voice…Is everything alright?'

'No…no, not really, that's why I need to see you.'

'When do you want to come?'

'Could I come now…like, right now.'

'Of course. But what's wrong, Nick? Is it about Josh? Is he coming too?'

'Yes, it's about Josh and no he won't be coming too.'

'Have you two…split up?'

'No…yes…I don't know…I…I don't know what to do.'

And then I'm all tearful again.

'It's OK, Nick…everything will be OK, I'm sure. Just get on a train right now and I'll meet you at Paddington. Hold on and I'll check times for you. Don't go anywhere, this will take me thirty seconds…right….yes…here we go…what's the time now…OK…how long will it take you to get to Temple Meads'

'About…ten minutes.'

'Then you should be able to make the 16.10. That arrives at…17.45. I'll meet you above the escalator that takes us down to the Tube, OK? Do you want….are you able…to stay for a couple of days?'

'I don't know. Yes. Probably.'

'Then bring an overnight bag.'

'I can't…it's in…' and I'm crying again.

'Then just come as you are. We can supply all the basics. And don't worry. '

'Thanks so much, Piers. Will Zak be OK with this?'

'He'll be fine. I'll tell him now.'

'Thanks, Piers, and I'm so sorry to burden you like this.'

'It's no burden. I love you and it'll be great to see you again whatever the circumstances. Now go, go, go.'

I quickly grab my jacket and call for an Uber. They say they'll be with me in three minutes. I wait outside. I don't want to see Josh.

In exactly nine and a half minutes I'm at Temple Meads. I buy an open return and make my way to Platform 2. The train pulls in two minutes later. I find a seat in a quiet carriage and curl myself into a ball against the window. My phone beeps repeatedly. I see I have seven missed calls from Josh. I'm not in the mood to speak to him. I turn it off. All I can think about is Josh having sex with Ollie. So much for his curiosity being satisfied. So much for me being everything and more that he could ever want. How stupid have I been.

The train arrives on time – a minor miracle in itself – and my heart leaps with pleasure as I see Piers waiting for me by the escalator, just as he said. We embrace.

'It's so good to see you, Nick. Whatever the circumstances. Now, come with'll take us twenty minutes or so to get to my place. We can talk there.'

'Thanks, Piers…it's really good to see you again too.'

Piers guides me down to the Bakerloo line. Fifteen minutes later we're on the road outside St. John's Wood station. I'm shaking. Piers puts an arm around my shoulder.

'It's about a five-minute walk from here,' he says.

His parents' house is impressive. Zak and he share a self-contained apartment within it, originally used by Zak's grandparents when they were alive.

Once inside his apartment, he takes me through into the kitchen and sits me down.

'Tea, coffee, beer, wine or gin?'

'I think I need something strong. Would a G&T be OK?'

'Perfect. I'll join you.'

He busies himself with a couple of bottles and then comes and sits beside me.

'Here. Get this down you. Now…what's all this about?'

So I tell him. And I ask him what he thinks.

'I think Josh made a big mistake while he was drunk… a mistake that he regrets.'

'But…we've never cheated on each other.'

'I know.' He takes hold of my hand.

'Do you ever feel attracted to other boys, Nick…boys other than Josh?'

'Umm…sometimes, I suppose.'

'So it's not the attraction that's the problem, it's what he did?'

'Of course. No-one can help occasionally finding other people sexy, but they don't all go and sleep with them.'

'And is…Ollie, is it?...someone Josh has known for a while?'

'Oh yes. They're fellow medics. He's a fucking housemate, for god's sake. '

'And did you…do you…both know Ollie's gay?'

'Yes. And the stupid thing is that Josh knows I have a jealous streak and he told me, really early on, that Ollie wasn't a 'have them and leave them' type, he said that Ollie had told him he was looking for a long-term relationship, and Josh said that as Ollie knew that he and I were together, Ollie knew that Josh wasn't available for the type of relationship Ollie wanted and so I had nothing to fear. That's why I was fine with him becoming a housemate. Fuck, I knew the guy and liked him. Nothing to fear, huh? How blind must I have been?'

'And is Ollie good-looking?'

'Kind of. I suppose.'

'So…someone Josh has known for a while and works with, who's gay and who's quite attractive, gets very drunk with him and they end up in bed together.'


'And does Josh regret it?'

'He said he does – but he would, wouldn't he?'

'Maybe. OK…so how does it leave you feeling…walking away from him like this?'

'It hurts like fuck.'

'Do you still love him, Nick?'

'I…don't know. I want to. He's my…he was…my life, Piers. My first. My only. So how could he do this to me? I just feel so…empty…like my heart's been ripped out.'

I'm in tears again.

Piers puts his arms round me and holds me to him. It's warm and comforting.

At this point, Zak walks in. He takes in the scene.

'Hi, Nick.' Then, 'Shit. Is he OK, Piers? '

'Not completely, no.'

'What's happened?'

I'm still too upset to speak. Piers fills him in.

'Oh shit,' says Zak.

'Can you leave us to talk for a minute, Zak,' Piers says, 'in fact, why don't you use the time to order us all a takeaway?'

'Sure. Good idea.'

He takes a beer out of the fridge and disappears into the living room. Piers lifts my head from his shoulder.

'I think maybe things will look different in the morning, Nick. I'm not excusing what Josh has done, but sometimes when we're drunk we do things we really, really regret. We nearly did, remember? And this feels right out of character for him. Now, how about we have another drink and something to eat, and then you need to get some sleep. We'll talk again in the morning.'

I nod. 'A drink maybe, but I don't think I'm hungry.'

'OK…see how you feel when the food arrives.'

And when it does – a whole selection of delicious Chinese dishes – I find, unexpectedly, after a mouthful, that I'm starving. I realise I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast. We clear the last remnants of it between us.

'That was wonderful. Thank you.'

'Our pleasure. Now, it's off to bed with you. It's late.'

Piers shows me to a lovely room in the main house. The bed is enormous and is made up and ready for me.

'My folks are away at the moment, so no-one will be disturbed. The bathroom's through there,' he says, pointing to a door in the corner of the room. 'It's not huge but there's a shower and a toilet. I'll bring you a cup of coffee in the morning. Here's a toothbrush and some toothpaste and everything you need for a shower is in the bathroom. I'll bring you something fresh to wear in the morning…you're about my size. And don't worry. I'm sure things will all work out fine.'

He embraces me and gives me a kiss.

'Thanks, Piers. Thanks for all your kindness…both of you.'

'Hey, it's our pleasure.'

I strip off and have a shower before brushing my teeth and climbing into bed. Even though I feel emotionally exhausted, sleep won't come. I toss and turn. Thoughts of Josh and Ollie together…doing what they did together…fight with Piers' words in my head; have I judged too harshly? Would I really never do the same thing if I was drunk? What do I really want? Do I still love him? I try desperately to banish these thoughts from my head, but they go round and round. Round and round. Round and round.

Then there's a tap on my door.

'Who is it?' I say.

'It's me, Piers. Can I come in?'

'Of course.'

He's dressed in a light robe.

'Having trouble sleeping?' he asks.

'Yes…I can't get…thoughts…out of my head.'

'Zak and I reckoned maybe that might be the case – and we thought that perhaps you shouldn't be alone tonight. That maybe you needed some company. So here I am…some company for you…if that's what you'd like.'

'Thanks, Piers, and yes…I think I'd like that a lot.'


He slips off the gown he's wearing and slips in beside me. He's naked, and his body is warm and soft against mine.

'I know your head must be full of stuff. But the small hours of the morning are no time to be thinking about it. Everything is worse and everything is insoluble at 2am. Would a hug help?'

'Yes…yes please, Piers.'

He snuggles up to me and puts an arm over my chest.

'This is like being in Italy again, isn't it,' he says with a smile.

Memories of the villa can't help but make me smile...but they also arouse me and that doesn't feel right. I turn onto my side away from him but pull his arm tighter around me. I feel his lips gently brush against my neck.

'I love you, Nick…you know that. And I'm here for you. To help you feel better. And…well…if you're getting aroused the way I think you are, that's just fine too.'

He presses his groin against my bottom…and I can feel that he's as hard as I am.

'We don't have to do anything, Nick. Unless you want to. Unless there's anything you'd like us to do. Anything...'

And I suddenly want him more than I can say. If I can't have Josh's love, then I want his. At least for tonight.

'I…I think I want you…need you…inside me, Piers. Is that OK?'

Of course it's alright, silly. I'm here to do anything that makes you feel better.'

'It is…OK…to do this, isn't it? I mean if Josh can fuck some boy he barely knows, it's alright for us to have sex isn't it?'

'Not if it's just to get your own back, Nick, no it wouldn't be. But it's OK if it's because it's what you want.'

I realise that he's right. And I'm ashamed of myself for even thinking of justifying what we're about to do that way. That would have been no more than using Piers. And that's wrong.

'Sorry, Piers. That was a shitty thing to say. I apologise.'

'That's OK, Nick. I can understand where it came from.'

'I want you Piers because you're kind and you're lovely and because you always make me feel better.'

He smiles. 'Then that's all good.'

'Be gentle with me, Piers, really gentle please. I want to feel cuddled and loved more than anything else.'

'Of course,' he says.

I suddenly have a thought.

'Will Zak be OK with us…doing this?'

'He told me that whatever happened, whether I came back or stayed with you, he was fine with it.'

'That's very kind of him…more than kind.'

'He loves you almost as much as I do…now…where were we…'

Piers kisses my neck before entering me slowly and carefully. I'm lying on my side, and he is gentler with me than he's ever been. As he moves slowly in and out of me, a warmth slowly spreads up through the whole of my body. He reaches round to take hold of me, and strokes me softly in time with his gentle movements. My mind empties of everything except the joy of what I'm experiencing. It's as if the weight of the world has been taken off my shoulders. I relax…and fall asleep.

I wake up to find I'm alone. There's no evidence of my having had sex…no stains or soreness or stickiness, and I wonder if I dreamt it all.

There's a knock on the door.

'Come in.'

Piers is there carrying two mugs of coffee.

'Morning lovely, how are you feeling this morning?' he says.

'Umm…fine…if a little confused.'

'Confused? About what?'

As he says this, he comes over and gives me one of the mugs of coffee. I pull back the covers and he slips in beside me. I take a sip of coffee and turn my head to face him.

'Umm…sorry if what I'm about to say sounds weird – and great coffee by the way - but…did you…were you…in bed with me last night?'

'Yes…yes I was.'

'And did you…did we…have sex?'

'Well, that's a good question. Yes and no.'

'What does that mean?'

'Well, let's just say that were someone to fall asleep as I was making love to them, I would normally take that as a fairly severe criticism of my technique, but in your case, I think it was probably a compliment.'

'You…I…? Oh God. So it wasn't a dream.

Then what he's said hits me.

'I fell asleep while you…while we were….?'

'Yes. And it was rather lovely actually, one moment you were being all lovely yummy you, telling me how good everything felt, and the next you'd gone out like a light.'

'Oh God. I'm so sorry.'

'Nothing to be sorry about. You were emotionally drained. It was the best thing for you.'

'I don't mean to doubt you, but are you sure? I mean, it's just…there wasn't…there isn't any evidence of, you know, of…either of us having…come.'

'That's because neither of us did.'

'You mean…you didn't…finish off…you know…you didn't come inside me or…?'

'Of course I didn't. You'd fallen asleep. I'd done my job. To have carried on would have been…molesting you. And I wouldn't do that to anyone…least of all to a friend…to someone I love.'

'That's amazing, Piers. I don't think I'd have had the self-control to stop. Even if you'd been snoring.'

That makes Piers snort with laughter. 'Now there's a picture.' And that makes me laugh too.

I take another sip of coffee.

'Well,' I say, 'I think the least I can do is give you the climax you missed out on.'

'No, you really don't need to do that, Nick. It was lovely to be snuggled up to you and to be inside you – however briefly. It was the comfort you needed. And I had a perfectly satisfactory climax with Zak afterwards. Several, in fact,' he says with a smile.

He leans in and gives me a kiss and seems to instinctively understand that I'm yearning for the comfort of being held. He pulls me close to him. He is warm and soft and he wraps his arms round me and strokes my hair. I want nothing more. He holds me like this for a while, then says,

'Nick, I hope you're OK with this, but Zak has been talking to Josh. How about we go and find him and see what he has to say?'

I feel a sudden surge of bile in the pit of my stomach. I both want and don't want to know what's been said. But deep down inside, while I may hate what Josh has done, I know that the flame I hold for him is still burning - even if it's flickering slightly - deep inside me.


My voice comes out as a croak. Piers notices.

'It's OK, Nick…I'm sure everything will be fine.' He pauses. 'You still…love him, don't you?'

I nod…and I can feel tears coming. Why do I always have to bloody cry?

'That's good. That's very good. So come on then, let's go. I expect Zak'll be having a swim in the basement. How about we join him?'

'I don't have any swimmers…' I start to say.

'We swim skinny here just like we do at the villa,' says Piers, 'so come on.'

He sees a tear trickling down my face.

'It will be OK, Nick. And those tears just prove that you love him…and love can conquer everything.'

He puts an arm around my shoulder as we make our way down to the basement, and I put an arm round his waist. Two naked boys, holding each other close. Anyone who didn't know would think we were a couple.

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