Knowing Noah

by c m

Chapter 3

When we get back to the flat, Noah's father is back from work.

'Pops, may I introduce my friend and boyfriend, Ollie'

Mr. Diouf looks me straight in the eye. He's a good-looking man in his mid-forties with a full head of short-cut, crinkly hair. He's about my height and carries no spare weight. His eyes are dark brown.

'Welcome, Ollie. Josephine has already been telling me all about you. You seem to have made quite an impression. And clearly quite an impression on my son as well.'

He says this last sentence with a ghost of a smile playing round his lips.

'Pleased to meet you, Mr. Diouf. And believe me, it's Noah who's made quite an impression on me.'

'All good, I hope.'

'All very good. Except for his coffee.'

'Ollie!'

'Sorry, Noah, but I think your father needs to know about your one serious short-coming.'

'His coffee?' says his father.

'Yes. It's truly terrible. But I have to say that that appears to be his only fault.'

Mr. Diouf laughs.

'Well, in that case, either he's changed or you are being forgivingly blind to his many faults.'

'Oh thanks, Pops!'

'Well, Ollie, it's nice to meet you and we look forward to getting to know you better.'

'You too, Mr. Diouf.'

'Please, call me Kofi.'

Josephine appears from the kitchen. 'Ah, good, perfect timing boys. The girls are both getting ready, so would you mind escorting them to the church hall later? Kofi and I ned to get down there now to make sure everything is in order.'

'Sure thing, Mama,' says Noah.

While Noah's parents get their coats on and head out to the car, Noah and I make our way through to the lounge. I flop down in the big, comfortable sofa while Noah puts the television on.

'Knowing the girls, we could be waiting some time, Ollie.'

'Ahh…OK. So what are we going to do at this party, Noah, I mean…I'm happy to be there for your sisters, but…?'

'Relax, Ollie…we'll be there as long as is polite and then we can leave and come back here. It's fine. I talked to Esther about it a few days ago. She's really happy that we just came back to be part of it. We don't have to be there for the duration.'

'Oh, cool.'

At that point the door's flung open, and both Noah's sisters are there in full party mode…and I have to say that they look spectacular.

'Whoa!...is this my sisters I'm seeing?' says Noah, 'or are you two aliens who've stolen them and are trying to get away with replacing them?'

Both girls dissolve into giggles.

'Hey…before you go, I have a present for you, Esther.'

Noah gets up and heads for his room. I follow.

'It's OK, Ollie, I'll be back.'

'Maybe I've got Esther a present too.'

'Really? Ok…amazing.'

In his room, I unzip the front pocket of my bag, and take out a small package wrapped in what I now see is not very appropriate birthday paper. I see Noah look across at me.

'Wow, Ollie…you really didn't need to do this.'

'No, Noah…I really DO need to do this. It's her sixteenth birthday. She's the sister of the boy I adore to distraction. And it's nothing much anyway.'

Noah has taken a parcel out of his bag while I'm talking. He puts it on the bed and comes over to me.

'Do you really adore me to distraction?'

'For fuck's sake Noah. Since I met you I can't think about anything but you. I don't want to be with anyone but you. You make me feel things I've never felt before. I have to focus like you wouldn't believe to be able do my work. I'm a control freak but you make me feel entirely out of control… and yes…I adore you to distraction.'

'Is that good or bad?'

'It's good…and bad…and oh fuck, I don't know…no…yes…I do know…what I know is that when I'm with you I feel more…me…than I've ever felt in my life.'

I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Noah puts his arms round me.

'If it helps, Ollie…I feel just the same.'

'Really?'

'Really'

I sniff back the tears.

'What's happening, Noah?'

'I think two boys have found someone...maybe THE one…that they really care about. And that's wonderful. And scary. And it's the sort of thing that, no matter how bright you are, fries your brain.'

I look up into those eyes. Those liquid pools.

'I love you, Noah.'

'And I love you too, Ollie'.

He hugs me a little tighter. It feels wonderful.

'Now…we need to go back and give Esther her presents.'

We return to the lounge.

'Hey, Esther, happy birthday,' says Noah, giving her a his present. It's beautifully wrapped in silver paper with gold raffia tied round it and a lovely silver bow. Esther undoes it carefully. Inside the paper is a small box. She opens the box and takes out a beautiful silver chain with a little cross on it.

'Oh, Noah! It's beautiful!...thank you so much.'

She gets up, comes over to Noah and kisses him.

'I'm pleased you like it. I think Ollie has something for you too.'

I feel a little awkward as I hand over my gift. It's not as carefully wrapped as Noah's, and the paper is all I could find at short notice. It's pink with a swirly pattern on it and it feels like it should be for someone younger.

'You bought me a present?'

'I've been invited to your birthday party,' I say with a half-smile, '…doesn't everyone bring a gift?'

She opens it with the same care she did for Noah's present. Inside, wrapped in tissue paper, is the little leather wristband with a silver clasp that I'd brought back from a trip to Morocco with my parents the previous year. I'd bought it for a friend's sister but never got round to giving it to her. I hope it's suitable – I really have no idea what to give a sixteen year old girl.

'Oh wow, Ollie, this is amazing.'

She puts it round her wrist and snaps the catch. By pure luck it seems to be a perfect fit. She holds it up for Noah and Ruth to see.

'I love it, Ollie. And it fits perfectly.'

She gives me a kiss.

'Isn't he clever, Noah, to pick something so lovely and in exactly the right size?'

'Yeah…he's pretty special, Esther.'

And now he kisses me. Right there in front of his sisters. They scream with delight.

'OH Noah! You kissed him! Do it again! I want a photo!'

'Not of us kissing, Esther, but you can take a pic of us both together if you want – if that's OK with Ollie?'

I nod, and Noah puts an arm round my shoulder as Esther gets out her mobile and takes a shot.

'Ooh..you two are sooo cute together, I can't wait to show all my friends.'

'OK, Esther but just be careful…you know there are some round here who don't approve of boys having boyfriends.'

'Our church doesn't mind, Noah.'

'No…but the fundamentalists down the road don't feel the same way. And some of their sons and daughters go to the same school, So please, just…well…you know.'

'I'll choose who I show it to, Noah. And I'll be careful.'

'And at the party…just introduce Ollie as my friend, OK?'

'OK, Noah.'

'Good. Right, sis,…time to head for the party.'

It's about a fifteen minute walk to the church hall. When we get there, the disco is already set up, and there is a load of food on the side tables. The room has been decorated with streamers; it looks great. Fifteen minutes later, Esther's friends start to arrive. Thirty minutes after that, the room seems to be full. More girls than boys but a pretty even spread of black and white faces. One or two of the boys seem to know Noah quite well; they come up and ask him about life at Uni. Noah introduces them to me. Some of them just politely say hello, but some want to talk. One in particular, Michael, is very chatty.

Then the disco gets going. Esther dances with a couple of boys before coming up to me.

'Come on, Ollie…come and dance with me.'

Noah has already been grabbed by Ruth. I know there's no escape – and actually I love disco dancing. I follow her onto the crowded dance floor and give it my best.

'Wow, Ollie…you're really good at this.'

A couple of other girls make approving signs to Esther and I'm conscious of Michael's eyes on me as well. I do my duty for three dances. And then I beg a break. As I head for the tables where the soft drinks are, Noah comes up and claps me on the back.

'Wow, Ollie…you've got some moves, don't you? You've really impressed Esther twice now. She always said that white boys can't dance.'

'I've always loved dancing, Noah.'

'So how come you've never said?'

'I don't know really. I guess we've been…too busy doing other stuff.'

Noah tries hard to suppress a snort of laughter.

'Yeah, well,…I guess that's the truth.'

We both laugh. And again I'm conscious of Michael watching us.

'Noah…how well do you know Michael?'

'The boy who talked to you earlier?'

'Yes.'

'Not at all, really. I think he goes to the same school as Esther. Why?'

'I'm probably being paranoid but he seems to keep looking at me.'

'Hey, Ollie, if it were me, I'd sure be looking at you. You're the cutest thing in the room. Maybe he fancies you.'

'Is he gay?'

'I have absolutely no idea. What did you talk about earlier?'

'Oh…Uni life, acting, playing tennis, that sort of thing.'

'Well…if it's bothering you, ask him what he wants.'

'No, it's OK. Like I said, I'm probably imagining it.'

'OK. Fancy a coke? I'm thirsty.'

'Coke sounds good.'

We grab a tin each and go and sit at the far end of the room, where it's a little quieter. We talk and laugh. Eventually, I realise I need a pee.

'Back in a minute, Noah.'

The toilet has a series of seven urinals against the back wall. I unzip and have just started to flow when I'm aware of the door opening and then Michael is standing at the urinal next to me. Now, anyone who knows anything about the etiquette of male toilets knows that, if at all possible, you do not take a the urinal immediately next to one that's being used. But here, with a choice of six others, Michael had chosen the one next to me.

I glance across at him. 'Hi, Michael.'

'Hi, Ollie.'

I notice him glance down, checking me out. He's making no attempt to hide his own cock. I'm subliminally aware of the fact that he's circumcised.

'Ollie…could I talk to you?'

'Umm…sure. Here?'

'Is that OK? It's a bit…personal. I don't want anyone else to hear.'

'OK. If someone comes in, we can go somewhere else.'

'Thanks.'

'Let me just finish up here.'

I do the whole final shake and rezip thing and go and then go and run my hands under the tap. Michael does the same.

'So…how can I help?'

'Ummm…are you gay?'

'Wow. That's direct. Do you mind if I ask why you want to know?'

He looks awkward. Embarrassed.

'It's just. Umm…I'm Nathan's cousin. The boy who shouted at you and Noah in the street.'

I feel the hairs on my neck start to prickle.

'If you're going to threaten me…'

He looks horrified.

'What? Oh, no…no, no, no…that's not it, not it at all.'

'OK, so what is it?'

'Look…you heard Nathan. He hates gays…and, well…' His voice drops to a whisper, 'I'm gay….and I am so scared of what Nathan will say and do if he finds out.'

'You're gay?'

He nods miserably. I can't help but put an arm round him.

'OK, Michael…so how can I help?'

I hear voices approaching down the corridor outside, and quickly take my arm off Michael's shoulder.

'Come on, let's go and talk somewhere else.'

We leave as three other boys come into the toilet chatting and laughing. I don't think they are even aware of us leaving.

Michael leads me to an empty office. We sit on two rather uncomfortable chairs facing each other.

'To answer your question, Michael, yes, I'm gay.'

'And is Nathan right, are you and Noah….'

'Yes, Michael, we are. Noah is my boyfriend.'

He manages a weak smile. 'Good. I like Noah. It gives me hope.'

'Hope?'

'Yes. You see…it's not just Nathan, my whole family doesn't approve of homosexuality. They say it's against God's law and against nature.'

'Well, I think they're wrong, Michael.'

He looks at me.

'I'm not a church-goer, Michael, but I've been brought up in a family that is. Shall I tell you what I believe?'

He nods. 'Yes please, Ollie.'

'I believe that you are born with the sexuality you have. You don't become gay – you're born that way. Gay, straight or somewhere in-between. It's the way you're made. And if you believe that God made each and every one of us, then he made us that way. And he made us sexual animals. I don't believe for one moment that he would have made us gay and then said we weren't to enjoy the sexual urges he's given us. That it's OK for straight people to enjoy sex but not gay ones. He might expect the same standards of his gay creation as of his straight one – strictly monogamous relationships – but that's as far as the constraints go. And while I may not be a believer, I personally wouldn't dream of cheating on Noah anyway. Sex is an expression of our relationship, not the reason for it. We love each other and, in our morality, that means we don't sleep with anyone else. I guess the fact that we share these same basic values is one of the reasons we love each other.

I pause for breath. That all came tumbling out of me – I don't know where from. Michael is smiling.

'That's amazing, Ollie. Thank you. What you say makes sense. I know my family won't share that – but it gives me a way to live my life that doesn't put my beliefs at variance with my sexuality. And…I'm pleased Noah is with someone like you. I hope I can find someone like you too.'

The door has opened as Michael says this last bit. It's Noah.

'So this is where you've got to. And what does he want to finds someone like you for?'

'Can I tell him, Michael?'

Michael nods.

'Michael is Nathan's cousin.' I see Noah's eyebrows rise. 'It's OK…Michael's not like him. In fact, he's like us.'

Noah's face briefly clouds and then clears as he realises what I'm saying.

'Gay? Are you gay, Michael?'

'Yes, Noah.'

'And that's what you wanted to talk to Ollie about…why you were looking at him?'

'Yes.'

'And are you OK?'

'Oh yes, Noah…Ollie's been amazing.'

His eyes are shining as he says this. Noah looks at me quizzically. Michael realises what he's said. He blushes. 'Oh no, nothing like that. He wouldn't anyway. He says he'd never…' He stops, realising he's gone too far.

'Never what?'

'That I'd never cheat on you, Noah. Let's start from the beginning.'

I repeat what I said to Michael about God and gays and morality. Noah smiles.

'Well, that's pretty much what I believe too, Michael.'

'And that's why I hope I can find someone like Ollie.'

'I hope you do too, Michael. He's pretty special.'

'Would it be OK to have a hug?'

'Sure'.

Noah stands behind Michael and I stand in front of him. I put my arms round him, and Noah puts his arms round both of us. I hear Michael sigh and then feel him lay his head on my shoulder. His hair smells of almonds.

'Things will work out for you, Michael, I know they will,' says Noah.

'Thank, you,' he says.

And then we break the embrace and Michael heads back into the hall. Noah looks me.

'So…counsellor as well as dancer. Is there no end to your talents?'

' I just wanted to help him. And all I did was tell him how I see things.'

'I think we see the world pretty much the same way.'

'I agree. That's why we have what we have…and that's what I told Michael as well.'

'I love you, Ollie.'

'I love you too Noah. Now…is there any way we can escape and go and be just the two of us?

'Yeah. Why not. We've done our duty. Come on.'

We go back into the hall. I suddenly realise I'm hungry.

'Can we grab something to eat before we go, Noah?'

'Sure. Just leave room for the dessert I've got waiting for you….' He grins.

I pile my plate with sausage rolls, spicy chicken wings and a really nice-looking rice salad. I take it over to a corner where there are a couple of chairs and a table. Moments later Noah joins me. A good-looking, blond-haired boy comes over.

'May I join you?'

'Sure.'

'Thanks. I'm Mark. You're Noah, aren't you, Esther's brother?'

'Sure am. Nice to meet you, Mark. And this is Ollie, a friend from university.'

'I hope you don't mind, but it's Ollie I'd like to talk to?'

'Hey, aren't you the popular one tonight,' says Noah, looking at me.

'It's just…Esther said you're studying history at Uni. I'd really like to do the same. I wondered if I could maybe email or chat with you from time to time over the next few months?'

'Why not? I'd be please to help in any way I can. Give me your phone and I'll put my details in it.'

Mark hands me his mobile; it's the latest iPhone. I put my email, Whatsapp and phone number in.

'Cool. Thanks. Let me do the same for you.'

I hand over my – rather less glamorous - S7 and he enters his contact details.

'I know it's not the best place to talk tonight, but would it be OK if I call you in a day or so?'

'Sure thing Mark.'

He sits down beside me and his knee brushes accidentally against mine – but stays there. I move my leg away. He's cute and if I weren't attached I'd be interested…but I am attached so I'm not. I smile at him and focus on eating. Minutes later, and plates cleared, Noah and I both stand up.

'Nice to meet you, Mark. Look forward to hearing from you.'

'Thanks, Ollie. I'll be in touch.'

He holds out his hand and I shake it. He holds the touch a little longer than is absolutely necessary. I figure this is something I'll have to deal with. But not tonight.

Noah and I go and make our apologies to Esther and her parents. They understand completely. And Josephine makes a point of saying that they won't be back until after 11. Noah and I look at each other and almost run out of the door. And once out of the door, we do actually run all the way back to his parents flat. Noah unlocks the door, slams it behind him and then grabs me and pulls me up the corridor and into his bedroom. He locks the door.

'We have one hour, Ollie. How many times do you think we can do it?'

We both start to giggle helplessly as we tear off our clothes. I lie on the bed and Noah lies on top of me. His eyes are sparkling with love and lust.

'Fuck, I want you, Ollie.'

'Good…because I want you too.'

It turns out that 'three' is the answer. He takes me twice, with me returning the favour in between. It is uncomplicated, energetic, and immensely satisfying.

'Hmm…I think we have time to shower before anyone will be back.'

He unlocks the door, grabs a couple of towels from the airing cupboard, and leads me across the hall – stark naked – into the bathroom. The shower is large and has a powerful jet. We clean each other thoroughly, wrap, ourselves in the towels, and pad back into the bedroom. Our timing is perfect. No sooner have we done so than we hear the front door open and the voices of Noah's parents and sisters echo down the hall. Noah and I both put on a shirt and a pair of trousers, and go out, barefoot, to say hi.

If they have a pretty good idea of what we might have been doing, they are tactful enough not to mention it.

'So…you have a good evening, Esther?' asks Noah.

'Wonderful thank you. And thanks for coming. Everyone loved seeing you – and Ollie.' She turns to me. 'All my friends said what a nice guy you are, Ollie.'

I blush. 'Oh, well…thanks. I enjoyed meeting them.'

'And you HAVE to let me dance with you again sometime.'

'I enjoyed myself. Thank you.'

'And Michael told me to say a special thank you. What was that all about?'

'Oh…I just gave him some advice, that's all.'

'Well, whatever it was, he was very grateful.'

'My pleasure.'

'Now,' says Josephine, 'Does anyone want some hot chocolate before bed?'

Hot chocolate sounds perfect, (even if I I'll have my own brand of hot chocolate curled up beside me all night). Josephine disappears into the kitchen, while the rest of us go and sit in the lounge. Ruth notices my bare feet.

'Gosh, Ollie, you've got big feet.'

'Ruth…don't be personal about our guest,' says Kofi

'Oh that's all okay. She's right, I do have enormous feet. I take size 11 shoes – same as Noah.'

'Means we can swap shoes,' says Noah.

'Excuse me,' says Kofi, 'I'll just go and lend Josephine a hand.' And he disappears into the kitchen.

'I thought big feet indicated something else,' says Esther, her eyes alight.

'Esther, don't be rude,' says Noah.

Esther apologises at once. 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…'

'It's OK, ' I say, 'and it's not true. Noah and I may have the same size feet, but……'

'Ollie!'

'Sorry Noah…just trying to correct ignorance.'

Esther is giggling.

'And anyway, Esther, as you will one day discover, size doesn't matter. Not that Ollie has anything to be ashamed of in that department. Now the topic is closed.'

Esther looks across at me. I can't resist. I put my hands about a foot apart and flick my head at Noah. Then move them about nine inches apart and look down at my groin.

She bursts into laughter.

'Believe that ' says Noah, 'and you'll believe anything.'

At this point, fortunately, Josephine and Kofi arrive back with the hot chocolate. It's creamy, dense and delicious. As I drain the last mouthful, Noah pats me on the knee.

'Bedtime for us, if that's OK with the rest of you.'

'That's fine, love,' says Josephine. 'No rush in the morning. Breakfast at 9.'

I stand up.

'Goodnight, all. Thank you for your welcome Josephine and Kofi, and thanks for a lovely party Esther. And 'night to you too, Ruth.'

'It's been a pleasure, Ollie. Sleep well.'

Noah and I head back to his room. We strip and get under the covers. Noah pulls me to him.

'They all love you, Ollie. Almost as much as I do. Ready to sleep?'

As he says this his hand is in my groin. I feel myself respond.

'Mmmmm…maybe one last time before we sleep?'

'Maybe,' I say.

'69?'

'Heaven'

Noah scooches round until his head is buried in my groin and his rampant erection is brushing against my lips. We enjoy each other slowly and quietly.

'Now that's what I call a nightcap, ' he says as he comes back up.

We kiss. And for no reason at all – other than that my face has been buried there for the last few minutes – a question pops into my head.

'How long have you been shaved – down there- Noah?'

'Ummm…well…actually since I was with Peter. He was shaved and he liked me to be. And I got kind of used to it. Is it OK with you?'

'Yes…I really like it actually. Would you like me to be shaved too?'

He smiles. 'No, Ollie. I love you fuzzy. It's part of what makes you Ollie. And why would I want you to be like Peter? You are so much more than he ever was or could be.'

I smile and snuggle up closer.

'Night Ollie.'

'Night Noah, sleep well.'

'With you beside me, how could I not?'

I lie on my side and put a hand on his chest. And that's how I fall asleep.

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