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Making Nico

by c m

Chapter 16

All six of us on the Archery team travel up to Edinburgh by minibus – which takes ages. Mikey sits next to me on the back seat and falls asleep in the course of the journey, his head falling onto my shoulder. I leave it there. When he wakes up he realises what he's done.

'God, sorry Nick, I didn't mean to…'

'Hey, it's fine. Your head's not heavy...well, let's face it, there's nothing much inside it, is there…'


And then we're both laughing.

The match goes sort of OK for a first-time experience. Our top team under Ally win, but we lose – although only just, and I have the best score of the three of us in the second-string team. Our opponents are a lot of fun, and we all go out for the evening before, at the end of it, retiring to our cheap and cheerful – but thoroughly clean and comfortable – Airbnb accommodation. Whether the message got lost or confused somewhere along the way I don't know, but it turns out that the room Mikey and I are sharing has one - albeit large - double bed rather than the twins we were expecting. I ask him if he's OK with that.

'Sure. Are you?'

'Yup. I promise I'll try to keep my hands off you,' I say with a smile.

He smiles back. 'Pity. I rather hoped you might give my shoulder a massage,' he says, 'it's stiffened up something rotten since this afternoon.'

'I'm sure I can do that. But I need a shower first.'

I wonder if the massage is an excuse for a prelude to something more. And Josh said to go with the flow. I'm not going to push it, but…well…let's see.

I strip off unselfconsciously. Being naked in front of other guys has never phased me…well, not since I was twelve. Mikey makes no attempt to hide the fact that he takes a good long look.

'If it's not inappropriate to say so, you've got a great body, Nick,' he says.

'Always happy to take a compliment, Mikey…so, thanks. Won't be long.'

I shower and dry myself and then wrap the towel round my waist before going back into the bedroom. Mikey is lying on the bed in his briefs. When he sees me, he swings his legs off the bed, shucks his briefs off and stands up. He's clearly not worried about being naked in front of another guy either. And it has to be said that he has a body that's very easy on the eye.

'Shower's all yours,' I say.

He disappears for ten minutes, before re-emerging, a towel draped loosely around him.

'Still want that massage?' I ask.

'If you wouldn't mind,' he says.

He lies, face down, on the bed and I work my fingers into the muscles of his right shoulder. His skin is soft under my fingers. I think it's time to see if this is really what it's all about.

'So…how's it going acknowledging you're bi, Mikey?'

'It's…OK, I guess. I've chatted with one or two guys on an app. Met up with one of them, just for a chat, you know, but it's early days. And your fingers feel great, by the way.' He pauses. 'Nick…when you met a guy, the first time…before you'd…done anything with them…were you nervous?

'A bit. Sort of scared and excited all at once. And maybe just a bit worried that they'd be all experienced and I'd look stupid and naive.'

'That's exactly how I feel.'

'And you've never done anything with a guy?'

'Nope. Nothing. Not even a mutual wank.'

'But you'd like to change that?' I ask.

I feel him go tense under my fingers. Then he turns over to face me.

'I…well….that is…'

'If you had the opportunity to…explore a little…try some stuff with someone you trusted…so you were less nervous, less worried…is that something you'd want…something you'd like?'

'Yeah, I guess...'

'Do you trust me?'

'Yes of course, but…what…you mean…you and me?…but I thought you...I mean, you're with Josh….'

'Yes, I am. But we talked about how...if…there were any ways we might help you.'

'You talked to Josh about…me doing…stuff...with you.'

'Yes. If you wanted to. Just an introduction.'

'Omigod. Do you really mean that?'

'Yes; I can't give you the relationship you're looking for, but if what I can do would help, then….'

'I think…I think I'd like that very much.'

'Then let's do it.'

We both throw our towels on the floor. He's already aroused, and as we take hold of one another I'm not far behind. We just use our hands the first time, and then I show him how to perform oral. He's a quick learner, and there's no doubt that he is very into what we do. Afterwards, as we lie there, he just sighs.

'What was that for?' I ask.

'I just feel…so good. What we've just was…it felt…natural. Makes me wonder what I was worried about. And I can't wait to do it for real with someone I love. Sorry…I didn't mean that the way it sounds. Nothing could have been more real, and I do really, really like you…just….

'It's OK. I understand exactly what you meant. And I'm pleased you feel good. '

'And what about…the next step?'

'You need to take that with a boy you love. And only when you're ready. Giving someone your virginity will be a gift you must choose to give, not just lose as an experiment. I'm certainly not the one to do that with, even if you were ready to do so. I can give you some hints and tips if you want, but nothing more; I hope that's OK.'

'Yes, of course. And thank you.'



We climb under the covers. I sense him shuffling closer to me. Then he puts a hand on my chest.

'Thanks, Nick. I never dreamed I'd end up in bed with you beside me. I'll treasure it as a special memory.'

Then he rolls over and falls asleep. It takes me a little longer to drift off. I'm happy to have helped him, but a little part of me is saying I did it for me as much as him. And that makes me feel guilty. I wish Josh was here with me.

In the morning, Mikey is still asleep when I go and take a shower. He has one arm thrown above his head showing the little tuft of dark hair in his armpit, and a soft smile on his lips. I wonder what he's dreaming of. By the time I emerge from the shower, towelling my hair, he's awake and sitting up in bed.

'Please tell me I didn't dream about…what we did…last night,' he says.

'No dream,' I say.

He just smiles, then gets up and stretches before walking slowly into the bathroom. I get a perfect rear view of him. He has a great bum. Very pert. I stop myself. Last night was last night. End of.

Once he's showered and dressed, we go down and get some breakfast before meeting the others at the minibus. And then it's the long drive back to Bristol. I ping Josh a message with our ETA.

Mikey and I get dropped off close to our house. When we get inside, Josh is waiting for us.

'How did it go?'

'We lost our match – just,' I say.

'But Nick was the highest scorer,' says Mikey.

'Well done you,' Josh says, giving me a kiss.

'But I feel like I got the biggest prize,' says Mikey, 'thank you, Josh, for letting Nick show me…what he showed me. I can't believe that you guys discussed it and...well…just thank you.'

A smile spreads slowly across Josh's face.

'I'm glad. I didn't know if you would, but I'm pleased you did.'

'I can't thank you enough. You're both amazing.'

'And so are you; more than perhaps you know, Mikey.' I say.

He blushes. 'Well, thanks.' And he disappears into his room.

'Come on then,' says Josh, shouldering my archery bag, 'come upstairs and tell Uncle Josh all about it.'

Once in our room, he sits down next to me on the sofa. 'So…tell me all.'

So I tell him about the massage and the conversation we had and what followed. What we did, and what we didn't do.

'Sounds perfect,' he says when I've finished. 'And it sounds like it was enjoyable as well as educational.'

'It was. There's no doubt that he's truly bi…he was very…enthusiastic.'

'Threesome material?'

'I don't know, Josh. Much too early to tell. He needs to fly solo first.'

'Umm...and are you…totally…used up or…do you think we might….?'

And Josh and I proceed to do all the things Mikey and I didn't do the previous night.

With finals approaching, my course is still going well. My tutor still has every confidence I'll get my First, and asks, if I do, whether I'd be interested in staying on to do a Masters. I talk to Josh about it.

'It would mean that we'd still both be here at Bristol together. You've still got another two years to go and maybe I might want to do a PhD after my Masters,' I say.

'Sounds good to me, Nico. Unless you'd rather get out into the workplace.'

'I'd like to do a Master's at least. I can think about what happens after that as I go along.'

'Perfect. Anything that means we're still living together is just fine by me.'

'What will we do with the rooms Nikki and Mikey will vacate? I know they aren't planning to stay on.'

'Good question. Maybe find another medic or two?'

'Could do,' I say, 'but I was wondering whether Jase and James might be a possibility?'

'That's a great idea. Why don't you ask them? Would they want to share one room or have both?

'Guess they'd need to make that call.'

In fact, the situation becomes more complicated, as Ollie announces that he would like his current boyfriend, a postgrad student called Boris, to move in. Ollie's been with Boris for six months – which is the longest he's been with anyone - and he certainly seems to be serious about him. And he reckons that as he's already a housemate, he should have first call on Nikki's or Mikey's room. The problem is that neither Josh nor I like Boris very much, to put it mildly. Ollie has invited him over a few times, and when he comes, he never clears up after himself, he helps himself to stuff from the fridge without offering to replace it - and he does the same with our beer and wine – he makes no effort to engage with either me or Josh, he's a smoker, we're both certain he does drugs, and there's something about him that neither of us trust. In fact, he's pretty much all the things that would make him a terrible housemate. Josh and I discuss it.

'Look, Josh, this place works because we all like and trust each other. No matter how much we may like Ollie, if Boris moves in things just won't be the same. And it's not that I mind change per se, I just don't want to be in the same place as someone I'll end up trying to avoid and who I'm bloody certain we'll end up having stand-up rows with.'

'I agree with you, Nico. And the fact that Ollie's here doesn't give him the right to have first dibs on who moves into Nikki or Mikey's room.'

'Quite. This is actually your Dad's place and so, if push comes to shove, it's who you want that matters.'

'I'll talk to Ollie.'

'Want us both to do it?'

'That's kind, Nico, but I think this needs to be a one-to-one discussion if, well…you know, I end up pulling rank because this is Dad's place – rather than him thinking the two of us are ganging up on him because of our relationship.'

I nod. He's right.

'OK, but I hope he sees sense.'

Unfortunately, Ollie throws his toys out of the pram when Josh talks to him. And then he makes the mistake of coming to talk to me to see if I can talk Josh round.

'Sorry, Ollie. I like you, but I agree with Josh. Boris would be a terrible housemate.'


'Because I don't trust him. Not to mention that he's untidy, unhelpful, uses other people's things and does drugs. You know he does.'

'Only for his own use.'

'Ollie, nobody else in this house does drugs. Call us old-fashioned, but Josh and I don't want them anywhere near the place. Particularly not what he's using. Are you saying that you don't use either?'

'Only if I'm with Boris.'

'Then maybe it would be better if you moved in with him, find a place between you, rather than him moving in here.'

'But this place is great. There's nowhere else like it. And what if he and I break up?'

'Exactly. Which is another reason for you to think about what you're suggesting. And I think just maybe he's using you to get a room in this place.'

'He wouldn't do that. We're properly together. You're just doing this because Josh and I had sex. You've never really forgiven me.'

This makes me seethe inside, but I'm determined to keep my cool.

'You know that's not true, Ollie. Do you think we'd have invited you to stay here if that was true?'

He's about to say something, but stops and considers my words.

'I suppose,' he says grudgingly, 'And sorry.'

'Look, Ollie, you're perfectly welcome to stay, but Boris is a 'no'. Why don't you just keep seeing each other the way you do now?'

'Because I want to sleep with him every night. Like you and Josh do. Look….what if he shared my room?'

'You know it isn't big enough, and that's not the point. It's Boris himself that's the problem.'

'So you won't talk to Josh?'

'No. Because I agree with him.'

'It's a fucking stitch-up.'

'No, Ollie, it really isn't. And you do have a choice.'

'Some choice. I should have known you'd take his side.'

Interestingly enough, when Ollie tells Boris that he can't move in, their relationship folds less than a month later.

And Ollie has the good grace to come and apologise.

By contrast, Jase and James are over the moon. They want to take a room each, but ask if they can rearrange things so one room is their joint bedroom and the other is a joint study. Josh and I have no objections – it's only a case of changing some of the furniture round – and that's what we agree to do once they move in.

In the meantime, Mikey has become brave enough to take himself off to a gay-friendly bar where, so he tells me one afternoon, he's met a lovely guy called Francis.

'He's a couple of years older than me and works as a librarian in the University library. We've been seeing each other for nearly a month now. He was in a relationship with a PhD student from New Zealand studying Oceanography until about six months ago, but when Lance – that was his name - completed his PhD, he went back to New Zealand because he had a job waiting for him there. Fran's needed some time to get over him, but…he's a really sweet guy. He's still living with his parents, so would it be OK if I brought him back here from time to time?'

'Sure, Mikey…to stay over?'

'No…well…maybe at some point…we haven't got that far yet, but just to hang out for now.'

'I look forward to meeting him.'

And when Josh and I do meet him, he's every bit as nice as Mikey said. Very gentle and easy-going. Ordinary looking but with a nice smile. He and Mikey are very sweet together. I wonder how long it will be before they start sleeping together – not that that's any of my business. What's particularly lovely is that meeting Fran makes Mikey absolutely blossom. He's almost a different person and is a total ray of sunshine around the house.

One afternoon, as he and I are comparing revision notes, he suddenly stops in the middle of our conversation.

'Nick…sorry to change the subject, but there's something on my mind. You know that night we had up In Edinburgh?'

'How could I forget,' I say.

'Yes, well…do you remember you said that you might be able to give me some hints and tips on…you know…going the whole way with someone.'

'Uh huh.'

'I think maybe I could use those tips….'

'I see. Does this mean….?'

He blushes. 'Umm…yes.'

'I'm happy to talk, but maybe Fran should be the one you're asking? I mean, I assume that he and Lance….or am I making assumptions?'

'I don't actually know. I haven't asked. Maybe. I can't pretend I'm not curious, but it's kind of an awkward thing to ask. I think it might make it look like that's what I want to do with him and maybe he isn't ready to or doesn't want to…and I don't want to do anything that might spoil what we've got. But… yesterday we talked about...sleeping together for the first time and...well…I thought maybe there were things I should know.'

'Ah, OK. But you haven't…done anything yet?'

'Umm, just hands. Yesterday. We were in his car giving each other a goodnight kiss, and, well, …things got a bit steamy and…anyway, that's why the subject of sleeping together came up.'

'Got it. But…you don't have to go all the way…the first time you sleep together.'

'I know. But if Fran wanted to go all the way, I'd…well…I'd quite like to. Is that bad?'

'Not in the slightest. If that's what you both want. But isn't this a good appropriate moment…to discuss how experienced he is?'

'I guess…'

But I can hear the hesitation in his voice.

'Look, Mikey, does Fran know that this is your first gay relationship?'

'Yes. He knows I'm bi. And that I've only had girlfriends so far.'

'Then he'll pretty much know you're a virgin. My advice would be to have the conversation about what he's experienced he is…maybe start it by telling him just how inexperienced you are. Don't be embarrassed. It's important. And talk about everything. Not just what you've both done or not done, but condoms, HIV, STDs…the lot. I'm sure he'll understand - probably be grateful you want to talk about it. And if it turns out that he's…been there…then you won't need any advice from me.'

'OK, that makes sense.'

'And if turns out that you still want some advice, then...I'll still be here.'

'Thanks, Nick. I hope you didn't mind me asking?'

'Of course not. What are friends for?'

And I guess they have the conversation, and I guess Fran is able to answer all Mikey's questions, because that weekend Fran stays over with Mikey and we barely see them. And when I ask Mikey how things are between them the next time we're at the Archery club, he just smiles.

'They're just great, Nick. I mean, I guess you know we've taken things…to the next level. And he's just the best. '

'That's wonderful. So he knew what he was doing?'

'Yes. He told me that he and Lance had been sleeping together for a while before Lance left. Lance was his first, just like Fran is mine. Although Lance was a good bit more experienced than Fran, so yeah, Fran knew what he was doing. Which was great. Umm...can I ask you something, though?'


'Is it usual for one guy to be like…almost completely passive and the other to be active...if those are the right words?'

'Active and passive, or top and bottom…people use both, and the answer is it depends. Some guys – like me and Josh – enjoy both roles equally, while others can be totally, or almost totally, one or the other. Why?'

'Because…Fran is, like, almost totally passive. He wanted me to be the active one. Which is fine…it's great actually, but I just wondered.'

'There's no right or wrong.…no normal. What matters is if it suits both of you. I mean, if, say, you wanted to be totally passive too, then things might be difficult...though if you're really attracted to each other then you'd probably find a way…' I look at him. 'Are you saying that he didn't…that you wanted…?'

'Oh, no…that is, he asked me if I wanted on the receiving end, and when I said I wanted to try everything with him he was happy to oblige – and it was great - but he said he preferred to be passive and was I OK with that. And I am. I just wanted to know….'

And then we go back to our practice.


Finals finally loom. I'm not only revising, but focusing on finishing my dissertation, and several times Josh has to come and tell me to stop working and come to bed. Our sex life suffers as I'm tired and when I come to bed I just want to sleep. But Josh is utterly brilliant. He doesn't complain, and on the occasions when we do make love he's at both his most sensitive and most sensuous, making me shiver with delight and banishing all my tensions with his touch. And it's worth it. The exams come and go, and I know I've done well…and once they're over I'm free to do whatever I want for a few glorious weeks before the vacation formally starts. Which includes having a lot of catch-up sex with Josh.

Josh and I have been invited back to the villa, but we've both decided we want to do something different this year. And we've also decided that 'Villa rules' is something we're putting into the past. I'm sure we could go to the villa and Piers and Zak would be fine with us not sleeping with them, but…it feels like we need to make a break with the past – however wonderful it's been.

When we tell them, they're disappointed that we're not coming, but understanding. I ask if Karim is going to be there.

'No…he's going travelling with Orlando, his boyfriend,' Piers says.

'Have you met the boyfriend?'

'Yes, Karim brought him up to London to stay with us for a weekend.'


'Very. Posh but not snobby or arrogant. Looked a bit like you, Josh. Blond, curly hair and blue eyes. And ripped…as we saw when we all shared the sauna,' says Piers.

'And that wasn't the only thing we noticed when we were in the sauna,' adds Zak with a grin, holding his hands about nine inches apart, 'and they were obviously devoted to each other, it was lovely to see.'

'I'm really pleased for Karim. He deserves someone nice,' I say, 'did they meet at Oxford?'

'Yes…a fellow lawyer. Different college but apparently their eyes met across the lecture theatre and that was that….'

'How romantic.'

'According to Karim, they sort of danced round one another dating-wise for a bit…Orlando was quite shy at first… but eventually he plucked up the courage to ask Karim if he'd be his partner at his College Christmas Ball and it's been a hundred miles an hour ever since…Karim said to be sure to tell you that Orlando has no trouble at all keeping up with him…whatever that means.'

I smile. I remember our conversation. I know exactly what that means.

A few weeks later, the exam results are published and I get my First, meaning that both my Master's place is confirmed, and that Josh and I will continue to share the house for at least another year. We have a party to celebrate, to which Ollie brings his new – and much nicer – boyfriend, Christian. Mikey and Fran are there and so is Nikki with her now long-term boyfriend Miles. Jase and James come too - along with a few of our other friends, including Piers and Zak. With whom we have a great – but sex-free – weekend.

And we also get to meet Orlando, Karim's boyfriend, when they both arrive unexpectedly. We'd invited them but they said that they already had another commitment. So when the doorbell rings and there they are, I am at once surprised and delighted.

'Hi,' says Karim as I open the door, 'I hope you don't mind us changing our minds. Lando and I both wanted to be here, so we've managed to change our plans at the last minute.'

'I am so happy you did,' I say, embracing Karim, 'and very good to meet you, Lando.'

'You too,' he says, 'I've heard so much about you and Josh. It's great to meet you.'

And he wraps me in a bear hug. He smells lovely...all bergamot and sandalwood. And what Piers said about him is right; he has the same sort of looks as Josh, and I'm not in the least bit surprised that Karim has fallen for him.

Once term has ended, Josh and I do the 'travelling through Europe' thing that we've been saying we'll do for the past two years, and it's great. It might not be as luxurious as going to the villa, but we have a wonderful time meeting all sorts of interesting people and seeing all sorts of interesting places.

And we do end up going to the villa – just for two days. We're in Rome when a heatwave strikes, and the temperature becomes unbearable. We give Piers a call and ask if we can come and stay for two nights and he and Zak are delighted to see us. Antonio picks us up from the station and we have forty-eight hours of blessed relief from the heat in the air-conditioned luxury of the villa. And no, we don't all sleep with each other. That was, and is, firmly in the past.

And back home, at the end of the holiday, lying in Josh's arms in his big comfortable bed at his parents' house, we look back on our first three years at Uni and talk about just how far we've come. We've shared a house together, we've slept with other boys and decided that we don't want or need to do so ever again. We've been through the pain of Josh's drunken mistake and come out of it stronger. We've been through Josh's cancer scare together – and all of his follow-up tests have been negative. We've made friends that we'll have for the rest of our lives. Josh is halfway to becoming a doctor, and I've got a First Class Honours degree.

A lot of things have changed. But one thing hasn't. One thing we know with even greater certainty. He's my forever guy, and I am his.

We are made for each other.

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