Knowing Noah

by c m

Chapter 4

I wake to find the sun streaming through the curtains. I'm on my own and I wonder where Noah is. The answer arrives seconds later as the door opens and Noah, dressed in a white towelling robe, comes in bearing two mugs of coffee.

'Mmm…coffee. Perfect. I knew there was a reason I liked you.'

He comes over, puts the coffee down beside me and gives me a kiss. I pull myself up the bed and prop myself back against the pillows.

'What time is it?'

'Just after 8. Time for coffee and a little smooch before we have to get up.'

'A little smooch?'

'Yeah…a little smooch.' He undoes the belt on his robe and lets it fall to the floor before getting back into bed beside me. His cock is in that wonderful state halfway between soft and erect.

'Is that what it's called?'

'I don't care what we call it. But I like the word smooch.'

'Then smooch it is… but coffee first.'

The coffee is hot, strong and altogether excellent.

'Did you make this?'

'I might have had some help.'

'Well, whoever helped you, it's delicious.'

'Mama was already up.'

'Well, here's to Mama.'

I clink mugs with him before draining the mug to the last drop. I put it on the side and then slide back down under the covers.

'Smooch?' asks Noah.

'Wanna go back to sleep,' I say.

He slides down beside me and runs a hand over my chest and then down over my stomach to my groin.

'Oh yeah? So what's this doing all big and stiff then?'

'It's out of control.'

'You can say that again.'

He starts to stroke me. I've always loved being masturbated. I mean, I love full-blown sex and oral as much if not more, but there's something about someone who loves you and who really knows what they are doing that makes this most simple of pleasures absolutely exquisite. It's also almost impossible not to take hold of the other person at the same time. And that's what we do. In the quiet stillness of the bedroom, with the sun shining through the window, we bring each other to a slow but intense climax using just our hands.

Noah licks some of the residue off his hands.

'Right. I am now officially ready for breakfast. Quick shower? '

'Sounds good. You go first.'

'Not together?'

'If we go together I'll get all horny and things will get out of control. And the girls are next door.'

'Fair point. OK. I'll be quick.'

And he is. Less than five minutes later he's back, smelling of the citrus shower gel he likes. He throws the bottle to me.

'Thanks. Won't be long either.'

I take a bit longer in the shower than Noah. I make sure I'm clean inside and out. I dry myself thoroughly and use some moisturiser on my face. I use some on my cock as well where my foreskin has become a little dry from the attention it's been receiving from Noah. And I give myself a squirt of Acqua di Gio. As I leave the bathroom, I pass Esther, bleary-eyed, heading into it.

'Hi Ollie. Ooh…you smell nice.'

'Morning Esther. Thanks.'

Back in the bedroom, Noah is already fully-dressed. I drop the towel and pick up my shirt. Noah comes over and puts his arms round my waist.

'I love seeing you naked, Ollie. I'll never tire of it.'

He runs a hand down my back and over my buttocks and then he kisses me.

'You are so beautiful.'

He lets go of me and I get dressed as he watches.

We've only come back for the one night. I wonder what he wants us to do with the sheets. Despite our trying to be careful, they are clearly stained with the results of our love-making the previous evening.

'What do we do with the sheets, Noah?'

'Ah, yes. Ok, we'll strip them and I'll put them in the washing machine.'

Which is what we do. There's already some other stuff in the machine, so Noah fills the little plastic measure with liquid soap, adds conditioner and switches the machine on. Josephine appears as we finish.

'Thank you for doing that, Noah. Nice to see you're training him properly, Ollie.'

'Mama!'

'And since when did you ever turn on the washing machine? I think this boy is very good for you.'

'Hmmph.'

'Now, what do you boys want for breakfast? I was thinking of doing some bacon and eggs.'

'That would be lovely, Josephine.'

'Nice manners. Watch and learn, Noah.'

Noah rolls his eyes.

'Why don't you go down to the store and bring your Pops back a paper while I get things ready? We could do with some more milk too.'

'OK, Mama. Come on, Ollie.'

We make our way to the store. On the way, Noah tells me that the guy who runs it is one of the Elders at the fundamentalist church; he believes homosexuality is wrong and those of us who indulge in it are heading for hell.

'So if he wants an introduction, you're just a friend, OK?'

'Got it.'

Noah pushes the door open. It rings a bell. As we enter, the man at the till at the front looks up.

'Oh, hello, Noah. Home from University?'

'Just for Esther's sixteenth. Back later today.'

'Enjoying university life?'

'Totally. It's a great place.'

'And is this a friend?'

'Yes. May I introduce Ollie. He's studying history but we're both acting in a play together.'

'Pleased to meet you, Ollie.'

'Likewise,' I say.

'Let me know if you boys need help with anything.'

'Will do.'

The store is like a cavern. The shop front is tiny, but it seems to go back and back and back. And there's a another level down some steps. The milk is at the back in a big upright fridge, and the papers are near the front in a rack. We pick up what we've come for, and Noah pays.

'Bye, Noah.'

'Bye Mr. Kanye.'

On our return to the flat, as we open the door, we are assailed by the smell of frying bacon. Is there anything quite like it? My stomach rumbles in anticipation.

'Hi Mama, milk and a paper as ordered.'

'Thank you, Noah. Your father will be here in a minute. The girls are sleeping in. Long day for them yesterday. One egg or two, Ollie?'

'Two…if I may, Josephine.'

'Now that's what I like to hear. And for you, Noah?'

'Same please Mama.'

Five minutes later, plates of bacon, eggs and toast appear in front of both of us. They look and smell wonderful – and I'm suddenly ravenous.

'Some orange juice, boys?'

I nod vigorously, my mouth full of bacon. It seems to take only seconds for me to clear my plate – and Noah is not far behind.

'Hmmm, hungry boys, I see. Some more?'

'Could I just have some more toast, Josephine?'

'Of course you can. You too Noah?'

'Yes please Mama.'

As the toaster pops up, Kofi appears.

'Morning boys. Sleep well?'

'Very well, thank you, Kofi. Noah's bed is incredibly comfortable.'

'Excellent. Sorry to be a little late. I see you've already eaten'

'It's OK, Pops, we're both going for a second round of toast.'

'Ah. OK.'

Josephine brings over a plate of bacon and eggs for Kofi, and a rack of toast for Noah and me. Noah gets up and takes a pot of marmalade out of the cupboard.

'Marmalade OK…or you prefer jam?'

'I'm a bit of a traditionalist; marmalade is perfect.'

We crunch our way through the toast – and another cup of coffee.

'More toast, boys?'

'Not for me,' says Noah.

'I think I'll go off bang if I eat another thing, thank you,' I add.

'Good. Now…when are you boys planning on heading back? There's no hurry, but will you be here for lunch?'

'I think we ought to head back in a couple of hours, Mama. We'll make sure we see the girls before we go, though.'

'OK…you do what you need to. Your dad and I will be running a coffee morning at the church… and we need to go and check everything has been cleared up from last night.'

'Do you want us to help. Mama?'

'No…you two boys enjoy yourselves. We'll be fine.'

Noah and I help clear the table. He asks me if I've ever been to a street market.

'No, never…they don't have many of those in the countryside.'

'Want to see one? There's a big street market just round the corner every Saturday – and we've got a bit of time.'

'Sounds great, Noah.'


The market is extraordinary. A riot of colours and smells. Stalls with a mixture of the familiar and the unknown. It's busy, and people jostle to get served – but it's all done with a smile and a laugh. Racks of gaudy clothes stand shoulder to shoulder with vegetable stalls and displays of bread and cakes. Street food from apparently every nation in the world is being prepared. It's an assault on the senses.

'What do you think, Ollie?'

'It's amazing, Noah. I've never seen anything like it. I mean, I've been to the bazaar in Morocco but that was mostly rugs and brass and stuff like that…this is so colourful and noisy.'

We walk up and down the rows of vendors. One or two of them know Noah and we stop for brief chats. Noah introduces me to some of them. One of them, a Jamaican, asks me if I've ever tried Mamey Sapote. I've never even heard of it.

'OK…you're in for a treat.'

He picks up what looks like a giant brown almond and breaks it open. Inside is pinky-orange flesh surrounding a black stone. He gives me a piece. It tastes creamy, smooth and sweet.

'Wow...that's really nice. What do I owe you?'

He waves me away with a flick of his hand.

'Nothing. On me. ' He turns to Noah. 'Nice to see you bro, you take care, now.'

We walk on down another row of stalls.

'Fancy a cup of coffee, Ollie?'

'Why not?'

'There's a nice place at the top.'

As we walk slowly towards our destination, I see Michael coming towards us with another boy maybe a year or so older. Michael sees me and quickly turns his face away, not even acknowledging my presence. The other boy scowls at Noah. As they go past, the other boy spits on the ground. I look questioningly at Noah. He just shakes his head.

'The boy Michael is with, Ollie. It's his brother. He hates gays as much as Nathan does. You understand.'

And I do. And I am so sad for Michael. What must it be like to know you're gay and have to grow up surrounded by people who hate everything that means about you?

The coffee stall is run by another family Noah knows. There are half a dozen chairs and a couple of small tables to sit at. The coffee is strong but smooth. The girl who serves us is pretty, and she greets Noah like a long-lost friend.

'Heyyy…Noah! What you doing here? I thought you were at Uni.'

'I am, Naomi. Just back for Esther's birthday yesterday. How are you?'

'I'm good. And who's the cutie here?'

'Him? Oh, that's Ollie, a friend.'

I see Naomi surveying the two of us. She bends down so that her mouth is close to Noah's ear.

'More than just a friend if I'm not mistaken,' she says in a whisper.

'I never could hide anything from you could I, Naomi?'

'I know. And you'd have been my ideal boy if only…but there we go. We are all what we are. And it doesn't stop me from loving you, Noah. You two been together long?'

'Since the start of term. We met at an audition.'

'Well, I guess he passed,' she says with a big grin.

Noah laughs. 'Yes, yes he did. He passed with flying colours.'

'Well I'm pleased to hear it. He obviously makes you very happy. Nice to meet you Ollie, and you look after Noah – he's one of the good guys.'

'He's one of the very good guys, Naomi. And thanks.'

Naomi moves over to the other table and takes their order, before stepping back behind the stall and reloading the machine.

'She seems nice, Noah.'

'Naomi? I've known her a long time. I think she'd always assumed we'd be boyfriend and girlfriend until….well, you know. But she's amazing; when I told her I was gay, she just sighed, said 'what a waste' and then everything carried on as normal – she accepted we were just friends.'

'That's some friend.'

'Yes. I love her to bits.'

Noah looks at his watch.

'Time to head home and say goodbye to the girls. Mama and Pops may be back, or we might need to go to the church to say goodbye to them too.'

'Fine. Great coffee, by the way.'

'Is that a hint?'

'Oh! No…it's just…it was very good.'

'Hmmm…come on then 'cutie''

We wave to Naomi as we leave and make our way back to Noah's apartment. The girls are up and about and are pleased to see us.

'Can't you stay for lunch? You've hardly been here.'

'We need to get back, Ruth. We have lectures and tutorials tomorrow, and I have some work to do before that,' says Noah.

'Me too,' I add.

'OK…well…when will you be back?'

'Term has only got a couple of weeks to run. I'll be back then.'

'Will you be coming too, Ollie?'

'I'll be going home to my family, Ruth. But I expect Noah and I will meet up during the holiday sometime.'

'OK.'

Noah and I go and pack up our few things and get ready to head for the station. As we do so, we hear Noah's parents arrive home – which will save us a walk to the church. We go out into the hall to meet them.

'Hi Mama, Pops. We need to be off.'

'Ah, OK, Noah. Well, it's been lovely to see you – and to meet Ollie.' She gives me a huge smile.

'You come back soon, you hear me – and keep teaching Noah those nice manners of yours.'

'Mama!'

'No…you look after him, Noah. He's a keeper.'

Noah smiles. 'Yeah, well, I agree with you about that, Mama. Bye, Pops, good to see you.'

'You too, Noah. And work hard.'

'Will do, Pops.'

I step over to shake Josephine's hand, but she bats it away.

'Don't be so silly. You get a hug like Noah.'

Once again I'm enveloped in her embrace, and she plants a kiss on my cheek.

'Lovely to meet both of you,' I say.

'I hope we'll see you again soon.'

'If Noah invites me…'

'He'll be in trouble if he doesn't. Now you have a safe journey.'

We give the girls a kiss too, then make our way down the stairs, across the yard and out towards the underground. From Paddington, it's barely an hour back to Uni.

On the train I tell Noah about Mark and how I think there's more to his interest in me that the fact I study history.

'I admire his ambition, Ollie. What will you do about it?'

'I'll tell him how things are. I'm happy to help him if he still wants me to, but he needs to know that anything else is off the table.'

When we get off the train, we give each other a hug. We both have work to catch up on and we both know that if we end up together at one of our rooms or the other then the likelihood of any work getting done is negligible.

'When will I see you again, Ollie?'

'Tomorrow evening, after dinner? I'm going to be needing a break after the tutorial.'

'Great. You come to me, or me to you? Or do you want to meet up somewhere?'

'Why don't you come to me? The College bar is quite nice, and it's about time I let my other friends meet you. Then, if you want to stay over….'

'Sounds perfect, Ollie. 'Til tomorrow, then.'

'See you, Noah – and thanks for a lovely couple of days.'

'I'm pleased you met my folks – and I knew they'd love you.'

We part with a wave and I make my way back to my rooms. All I can think about is how and when to tell my parents that I'm gay…and then introduce them to Noah.


The reason Noah hasn't met my friends yet is that I've been reluctant to tell them I'm gay. But with my relationship with Noah as advanced as it is, it's time to bite that bullet as well. I've convinced myself that telling my friends will be a good dry run for telling my parents. When Noah comes over the next evening, I bring him up to speed.

'You haven't told anyone you're gay…or about me?'

'No, Noah. I…it's just…it's not that I'm ashamed…just maybe a little scared.'

'It will be fine, Ollie, you'll see.'

In the bar, I see Tim and Rob, both fellow historians, sitting at a table in the corner. Tim's from York and Rob from Sheffield. Yorkshire boys - and I like them. Tim has a lovely dry sense of humour and Rob is a bluff, blunt, typical Yorkshire lad.

Tim waves a hand at us. We go over to their table and the moment has arrived. I can feel my heart beating in my chest.

'Hi guys…this is Noah.'

'How do, Noah,' says Rob.

'Noah…Rob and Tim.'

Noah reaches out his hand and they shake.

It's now or never.

'Noah's my boyfriend.'

Tim looks up at me.

'Blimey, you kept that quiet. I didn't even know you were gay.'

'It's always the quiet ones surprise you,' says Rob.

And that's it. No other comments. No raised eyebrows. Nothing. It makes me wonder what I've been worried about

'What would you like to drink,' I ask, 'pints all round?'

'Aye, thanks. That would be lovely,' says Rob.

By the time I get back, they are all laughing at something Noah's telling them. It's some kind of gift Noah has; people just like him.

'So, Noah tells us you met each other at an acting audition.'

'That's right. I saw his ugly mug and felt sorry for him and so we got talking.'

'Funnily enough, that what he told us…except he said it was you had the ugly mug and HE felt sorry for YOU!'

We all laugh and everything is as it should be; we are four boys who enjoy each other's company and nothing else matters.

'Fancy a game of darts?' says Rob.

'Sure,' says Noah.

'I'm total pants at darts,' says Tim

'Me too,' I say.

'Right…Yorkshire against the actors, then.'

Rob goes and gets two sets of darts from behind the bar.

'Right. 501, double to finish, OK?' he says as he returns.

'You're on,' says Noah.

'Right, seeing as how you're the guest, you can go first.'

Noah's first dart lands in the 20. His second in the treble 20, and his third in the 5.

'85. I see we have a pro amongst us.'

'Beginner's luck,' says Noah.

Rob scores 60. Three darts all in the 20. My turn. I aim at the 20 - and hit it once. The other two go one either side – a total of 26. The fact that Tim does the same makes me feel a bit better. With his next three darts, Noah scores 100…I begin to suspect he's played a bit.

'By 'eck...you're a bloody ringer Noah,' says Rob.

'Pure luck, I assure you.'

Rob scores another 60. I score 45 and Tim scores 7. That leaves us with 245, and Rob and Tim with 348, still needed.

The next few throws are pretty unimpressive from all of us, but eventually we get to the point where we need another 60 and they need 135. Noah's up. His first dart hits the 20. We need a double 20 to win. Noah's second dart rests against the wire. His final one goes straight in the middle of the double 20.

'Bloody 'ell…that's some darts, Noah. Well done. Right…that makes it my round. Same again?'

Rob heads to the bar and Tim goes to give a hand to carry the drinks back.

'You were good,' I say to Noah.

'Ohh…we used to play in the sixth form common room at school. Guess some of it has stuck. I like Tim and Rob…they're nice…and you see? They couldn't care less if you're gay or not.'

'Yeah, I know. I was worrying over nothing, wasn't I?'

'It's normal to be worried…but maybe it won't feel so bad the next time you tell someone.'

He means my parents. And although I know he's right, it still feels like that's going to be a bit different.

Rob and Tim return with the drinks.

'So,' says Rob, 'if you don't mind my asking, have you lads always known you were gay? I mean, oh god this is going to sound terrible, but it's not something I've come across much up where I'm from. Not that it makes any difference, mind, I like the both of you.'

I know he's asking out of genuine interest in his typical 'say it how I see it' way.

'Well,' says Noah, 'I think I've known since I was about thirteen, though I didn't come out to my parents until I was sixteen.'

'And they were OK with it?'

'Yes…pretty much. Not what they wanted of their only son, but they accepted it and now they're absolutely fine with it – despite them having met this sorry apology for a boyfriend.'

Noah grins, and Rob laughs.

'Aye, well, they're obviously very tolerant!'

'Hey!' I say.

'And you, what about you, Ollie? Same for you?'

I'm embarrassed. And I think my awkwardness shows.

'…if you don't mind me asking, that is.' He can see my hesitation. 'No, I'm sorry, it's personal, I shouldn't have asked.'

'No, no…it's OK. It's just, no…it's not the same for me. I've known I was attracted to boys and not just girls from maybe when I was fourteen or fifteen. I guess that makes me bi. Or I thought it did. But then I met Noah and…well…it made me realise. But until a few minutes ago, nobody but Noah knew I was gay. You're the first two I've told. Not even my parents know.'

I can feel tears welling up in my eyes. Rob sees my discomfort.

'Oh, shit…I'm so sorry I asked. Me and my big mouth.'

And then he puts an arm round my shoulder. Big, bluff Rob is giving me a hug. He suddenly realises and turns to Noah.

'Ehh…is it OK for me to give your boyfriend a hug?'

Noah laughs. 'Yes, it's fine.'

'I'm sorry, Ollie. I didn't mean to make you feel awkward. I just open me mouth and say what's on my mind…'

'It's OK, Rob…it's one of the things I like about you. And thanks for the hug.'

'Bloody 'ell…what would me mates say if they knew I'd got me arm round a gay lad.'

Noah cuts in. 'They'd say you had very good taste.'

Rob looks at him, then bursts into laughter.

'Aye…and I reckon they might at that! He is proper good looking I suppose. Mind, they'd never know you were gay, Ollie, I mean, you don't act all gay like.'

Then he realises what he's said.

'Oh fuck. I've done it again, haven't I?'

By now I'm laughing, and so are Tim and Noah.

'Bugger it. I'll just keep me mouth shut in future.'

Tim roars. 'That's a particularly unfortunate choice of word, Rob….'

Noah and I are almost helpless with laughter as we see Rob mentally review what he's said.

'Oh shite.'

He puts his head in his hands.

'So,' says Noah, completely straight-faced, 'how long have you known you were straight, Rob?'

Rob looks at him – and then it's his turn to laugh.

'Aye, fair enough. I apologise. And thank you for answering my questions like you did. I guess I let my curiosity get the better of my manners. Forgive me.'

'Nothing to forgive, Rob.'

I realise that Tim, apart from when he was laughing, has been pretty silent during the whole exchange.

'You OK, Tim?'

'Oh…yes…thanks.'

I sense a hesitation.

'If you've a question, it's fine to ask.'

'Well…I was just wondering when…or if…you were going to tell you're parents – and how you think they'll take it.'

'OK. Well, I'm certainly going to tell them. I want them to meet Noah and I want to be honest about what our relationship is. And that means I need to tell them pretty soon. I'm going to do it when I get home at the end of term. As for how they'll take it…I think…I hope…it will be fine. They're pretty tolerant people. Why?'

'It's just I've been thinking that if I was gay and particularly if my boyfriend was black – forgive me, Noah - my parents would have a fit. They're absolutely not very tolerant people. In fact, I don't know which they'd think was worse; me being gay or being with a coloured boy.'

'Wow. Are you sure?'

Tim nods…and I can see he's getting upset.

'It's just the way they've been brought up. My grandfather was a miner. He had no time for what he called 'poofters', and my dad has inherited the same views. You should hear them talking when there's news coverage of a Gay Pride march or something like that. Mum's no better. And they think immigrants have taken all the jobs. When the mines closed, there was massive unemployment- and it's still bad all round where my grandparents live. It's nothing to do with immigrants, but I suppose it's human nature to want to blame someone.'

'I'm sorry, Tim. It must be hard to be surrounded by those sort of views.'

'It is. So how the fuck am I going to tell them that I'm gay?'

He's said it in the emotion of the moment. And then he's on his feet and rushing out of the bar. I go to get up, but Rob says,

'No, Ollie…leave it to me. I'll go talk to him. Mebbe you two will be some help later, but right now I know him better.'

Rob gets up an follows Tim out of the bar. Noah just looks at me.

'Poor bastard. Makes our lives look pretty simple, doesn't it?'

I nod.

'Let's go back to my room. Rob knows where to find us if he wants us.'

'Sounds good to me.'

Noah takes my hand as we walk back across the quad to my room. There are one or two of my fellow students around, but I don't care. I'm proud of Noah – and given what Tim is having to deal with, it feels wrong to hide what I am and how I feel. I put some music on and make us some coffee. And then I start to laugh.

'What's so funny, Ollie?' asks Noah.

'It's just struck me…there's Rob, asking us blunt questions about our sexuality…and it turns out he's the only straight one there! He must be wondering if he's in a dream.'

'Or nightmare.'

Sitting beside one another on the sofa, we become aware of the tension that's built up in our bodies with the events of the evening. Noah puts an arm round me and I lay my head on his shoulder. I feel his fingers exploring the muscles running across the top of my shoulders.

'You need a massage.'

'I'd love one…but Rob might come knocking.'

'That's OK. You can keep your clothes on – for now anyway.'

He smiles and gets up and walks behind me. He puts one hand on each of my shoulders and I feel his fingers start to knead the muscles there. It is at once painful and relaxing. I can't help but groan with a mixture of the pain and the pleasure. He's about ten minutes in when there's a knock on the door. Noah goes to open it and there's Rob standing there.

'Oh..sorry…I didn't know if you were…in the middle of something.'

'No, come in.'

'Thanks…it's just…from the noises I wondered….'

I start to giggle.

'No, Rob, don't worry…Noah was just giving my shoulders a massage.'

'Yes…he doesn't make those noises when we have sex…during sex he squeaks.'

'Noah!!'

'Well you do.'

'Bloody 'ell. Seems my 'say what's on your mind' approach is catching.'

'How's Tim?' I ask, trying to change the subject.

'He's…OK. Not great, but OK. He apologises for rushing away. I think he'd like…maybe will need…your support over the coming days and weeks, but right now he just wants to be left alone.'

'OK…thanks for letting us know, Rob. And of course we'll be there for him if there's anything we can do to help. How are you feeling?'

'Me?…I'm fine. Bit surprised to find I appear to be the odd one out, but then life is full of surprises…and you're all top blokes, and I now know you all a whole lot better – so that has to be good, in't it?'

And that's Rob. Straightforward approach to life.

'It's been grand to meet you, Noah,' he adds, holding out a hand.

'Do you know me well enough for me to give you a hug?'

'Aye, well….'spose…why not?'

Noah gives him a quick hug and I do the same.

'Christ, what me mates would say I have no idea – but they'd be wrong. That I do know. Night both of you.'

'Night, Rob.'

As I shut the door behind him, I feel Noah's arms round my waist.

'You know I said you could keep your clothes on earlier?'

I nod.

'Well…I think the time has come to rethink that option.'

'You do, huh?'

'Mmm-hmm.'

'Whatever you say, Noah.

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