Finding Nico

by c m

Chapter 12

We set off for Pizza express just after 12.30; Josh says that he's arranged to meet Duggie at 1 and it's about a twenty-minute walk. He turns on the sauna before we leave. The route seems almost familiar to me now – down the road, turn left, then make our way past the bakery and Luigi's. We pass a hardware shop and a couple of galleries, a men's outfitters, and a Vietnamese restaurant before coming to a building that has shades of Art Deco about it. Josh pushes open the big swing door and leads the way inside. It's already quite busy, but a hand waves at us from the far corner.

We make our way over.

The boy who stands up to greet us is a little shorter than me, with long, dark-blond hair that's in dreadlocks with coloured beads in the ends of some of them. He has a broad, open face with a generous mouth and eyes that seem to hover between green and brown. He's dressed in a grandad shirt with a T-shirt underneath and a multi-coloured kind of jerkin over the top. He has a couple of studs in one ear and a variety of leather and woven bands around one wrist.

'Hi Duggie,' says Josh.

'Hey Josh.'

They bump fists.

'Duggie, this is Nick.'

His mesmerising eyes take me in.

'Good to meet you, Nick. Josh has told me a lot about you. Well, he's told almost everyone a lot about you. In fact, he's talked of almost nothing else since he got back from his holiday. It must be that you're like Superman or something.'

I remember Josh's words. I reckon I'm going to be tested before I'm accepted.

'Better Superman than Spiderman. I can't stand spiders.'

I see the hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

'And you're gay.'

'I know it's not a pre-requisite for being Josh's friend, but it's pretty much a prerequisite for being his boyfriend.'

'So you're the boy who's stolen his soul.'

'I hope not. Maybe a piece of his heart. But he's got a very big heart so I think there's plenty to go round.'

'And you're a rich boy.'

'Guess that depends on your measure. I wouldn't say rich, but it's true that my family are a lot better off than many, and I probably count as pretty privileged.'

He nods.

'I'm Duggie.'

'Good to meet you.

'You too. Sorry for the questions but I like to do an asshole test before getting to know someone.'

'Ah, sorry to disappoint you, but not even Josh has got to do that.'


'An asshole test on me. Or not yet.'

Duggie looks at me and then bursts into laughter.

'That's funny. You're OK.'

'Told you he was OK, Duggie,' says Josh.

At that moment, Alex comes through the door of the restaurant. We wave at him.

'Sorry, Duggie,' says Josh, 'I meant to say…Alex is joining us, I hope that's OK?'

'That's fine. Be nice to catch up with him.'

Alex comes over and sits down beside me.

'Alex has spent the weekend with Nico's twin sister; you know Alex came on holiday with me, right?' says Josh to Duggie. 'So I met Nico and Alex got to know his sister Jules.'

'Very cosy.'

'Just seemed to work. They liked each other almost as much as I liked Nico, but thought of it as just a holiday romance…until they got home and realised that it felt like a bit more than that. So he's been up to see her while Nico came down to me. That's about right, isn't it, Alex?'

'Pretty much.'

'And how did it go?' I ask him.

'It was lovely to see her, and we had fun together…'

I can sense a 'but' coming…

'But it somehow wasn't…quite the same. We've agreed to stay good friends – and I know that we will be – but there's no more to it than that.'

I'll clearly have to get the full story from Jules on my return.

'Sorry to hear that,' I say.

'Don't be. We genuinely enjoyed seeing one another and we genuinely had a good time and we still like each other very much. And it's good we've sorted out how we feel.'

'Then that all sounds OK,' says Josh. 'Now, let's order.'

I go for a La Reine, as does Alex, Josh for a Sloppy Giuseppe and Duggie for a Fiorentina. Sprite for me and Coke for the three of them.

The conversation over lunch is focused mostly on the people and events that the three of them are involved with – which is fine. It gives me a sense of context – and it's clear that the three of them are friends in much the same way as I am with Will and Clarissa.

As we finish, Josh says,

'Nico and I fancied using the sauna this afternoon. Would you two like to join us?'

'Love to,' says Duggie.

'Why not,' says Alex.

Back at his house, we get ready to use the sauna. Josh suggests that Duggie and Alex use one of the other bedrooms to change in, and use the robes from the back of the ensuite door. Five minutes later, we are all ready and waiting to go.

In the sauna itself, I sit next to Josh, and Duggie and Alex sit on the bench facing us. The contrast between them is stark.

Duggie has a pretty good body. It's wiry with no spare flesh, and he's smooth - like me. He has a tattoo on his lower abdomen, just above the biggest bush of pale brown pubic hair I've ever seen. The tattoo is of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Alex I've seen before, of course – albeit not totally naked. He's built on much bigger lines than Duggie. The generous coating of hairs on his chest contrasts with his groin which is, I see, completely shaved. But it's what's between their legs that really separates them. Duggie's cock is of the small, stubby variety, and the mass of hair from which it pokes out makes it look smaller than it probably is. Whereas Alex is as generously equipped as I'd assumed from the shape and size of what I'd seen in his swimming shorts. And being shaved only serves to maximise the impression of size. The one thing they have in common is that they're both uncut.

And they, of course, are giving me the full once-over as well.

Duggie sits back and spreads his legs wider.

'What's the tattoo about, Duggie?' I ask.

'It's a metaphor. For how the world can rise again out of the ashes it's headed for unless we do something about climate change. Have you got any tattoos…I can't see any.'

'No. If someone wants to draw, they can use paper or canvas to do it on, not my skin.'

'You don't like tattoos?'

'Personally, I hate them. I've nothing against people exercising their freedom of choice to have one, but I've never understood why.'

'Says something about you. Makes you an individual.'

'I don't need a tattoo to do that. In fact these days NOT having a tat probably makes me more of an individual than having one.'

'Maybe. But I'm the only one of us three to have one, aren't I?'

'True,' I say. 'Josh said you were a bit of an eco-warrior, is that right?'

'Yup. Well, I hope we all are because we all need to be. I mean, it's good that these things are being talked about now, but the trouble is talk is all it seems to be. We need action. Serious action. I mean – and no disrespect Josh – it's great that Josh's parents have an electric car – but they also still have that gas-guzzling Range Rover. And that's how governments seem to be operating too; a little gesture here and lots of words there and they think the job's done. Look, I don't agree with all the things that Extinction Rebellion do, or rather the way they go about some of them, but they're right. When your house is on fire, you don't throw a cup of water over it and talk about phoning the fire brigade in thirty years' time. And you don't keep sitting on the expensive, comfortable sofa you're on just because you haven't been sitting on it as long as some of your housemates - you throw all the water at it that you can get your hands on, and if the furniture gets ruined, who cares? And we all – everyone – have to make the sacrifices required. I'm certainly not going to learn to drive, as one small example.'

'Not even an electric car?'

'NO! Think of all the carbon emissions from making the car! And the energy involved, and the finite resources it uses up.'

His passion reminds me a bit of Will when he was talking about the oceans.

By now, we're all sweating profusely, but Duggie goes over and throws a ladleful of water over the rocks. A blast of steamy heat envelopes us.

'Imagine if that wave of heat we just all felt was the permanent condition in here? We'd all be outside in a moment, wouldn't we?' he says. 'Well, that's what's happening to the world.'

After another five minutes, I'm feeling as slow-roast as I want to be. I stand up.

'I'm going for the plunge. See you outside.'

'I'll come with you,' says Duggie.

We both climb the steps to the edge of the pool, and both jump in together. It's every bit as much of a shock as the first time.

'Geez!' he says.


I climb out and offer him my hand to help pull him up. His grip is firm and he's light enough for me to almost pull him all the way out. We both towel ourselves down vigorously before wrapping the towels around our waists. As we're doing so, Josh and Alex emerge from the sauna – and seconds later it's their turn to utter squeaks of shock at the impact of the cold water on their bodies.

Back in Josh's room, and still in our robes, we settle down in two teams to play Counter Strike. I play with Josh against the other two. We get trounced. So we change partners. I'm with Duggie. We get trounced.

'I think we can all see who the knobhead at this is,' I say.

They all laugh.

'Duggie,' I say, 'as well as the ecowarrior thing, Josh said something about you being an LGBTQ activist.'

'Activist might be a bit strong, but I strongly support their aims and ideals.'

'Can I ask why? I mean, it's great that you do…'

'It's partly that I'm a natural supporter of underdogs; it's partly that I hate prejudice; it's partly that I know and respect Josh, and it's partly that although I think of myself as straight right now, I'm not sure I know myself well enough to be absolutely certain that it's impossible I might not one day meet a boy to whom I find myself attracted. It hasn't happened yet, and it may never do – but how can I be sure? And if I do, I want to be able to have the same sort of full-on relationship that you and Josh have without being subject to some of the shit that's out there.'

He looks at me. 'Sorry, when I say full-on relationship like you have with Josh, that was being a bit assumptive. If you aren't, I apologise.'

'Nothing to apologise for. I'm sure Josh wouldn't be in the least bit worried about saying that we have sex.'

'A lot, actually,' says Josh with a smile.

Duggie smiles. 'You can't shock me. You know that.'

'No…but maybe make you jealous.'

Duggie laughs.

'But I'm intrigued by what you say about not ruling out the fact you might one day find a guy attractive,' I say.

'Well, I don't feel sexually attracted to either of you, but I recognise that both you and Josh are good-looking guys…even sexy in your own way…with attractive personalities…'

'What about me,' Alex interrupts with a smile.

'The only thing you've got is an enormous whanger – and it'll take more than that to attract me to someone.'

That makes us all laugh.

'…and if we all sit somewhere on the spectrum from totally straight to totally gay,' Duggie continues, 'it may just be that there's a part of that spectrum that only lights up, as it were, when you meet someone who ignites it. I'm not saying that's true, but it seems to me to be a possibility, so it's as well to be open to it. Or it is for me at any rate.'

'I think that's a really interesting way of looking at things,' I say.

'Thanks, Nick. And for what it's worth, while you and Josh both know you're gay, I think you've also found that something that's ignited your relationship – and it's more than the things you have in common…good looks…being gay…intelligence…and it's certainly more than lust – though I'm sure there's plenty of that as well - it's something indefinable, something transformative that could only happen when your two lives collided. And if it's transformative, then if the person I meet who does the same for me turns out to be a boy, the transformation it will cause is that I'll find I'm attracted to a guy.'

'Well, we'll be ready and waiting to welcome you to the club if it happens, Duggie,' says Josh.

Which makes us all laugh again.

Later that evening, when they've gone, Josh asks me what I think of Duggie.

'I really, really like him, Josh. You were right when you said he's bright. He thinks…differently...I found it stimulating and thought-provoking. And he's right about the eco-stuff too. And he can paint pictures with words.'

'Good. I agree…and I'm pleased you liked him. And sorry for the test he ran you through – it's just him.'

'That's Ok. I think we came out of that even.'

'Yeah, you did.'

Tuesday is our last day together; I go home on Wednesday morning. We get up in good time so that we can be at the foodbank for 10.30.

'We'll just stay for an hour so you can see what it's like; I want to be with you today,' says Josh.

'I'll be with you at the foodbank.'

'I know, but I meant…JUST with you. I can't believe how fast these past few days have gone. I wish you could stay.'

'Me too. But it won't be long 'til Christmas. We can arrange some time together for then, I'm sure.'

'It doesn't get any easier, though, does it?'

'What doesn't?'

'Facing up to saying goodbye. I hoped it would get easier each time but…these last few days…being with you has just made me realise how much I love you. How much I to want to be with you...all the time.'

'Come here.'

We embrace.

'Duggie was right,' I whisper in his ear, 'there's a fire that's been ignited between us. And the great thing about a fire is that it keeps burning even when there's no-one there to tend it – provided you keep coming back to feed it from time to time. Which is what we're going to do until the day comes when we never have to leave it again.'

'I love you, Nico.'

'Love you too, Josh.'

'C'mon…we better get on our way to the foodbank.'

His mother kindly drops us In Bedminster, and we make our way into the foodbank through the side entrance.

'Morning boys, good to see you,' says Michael, the older man who was helping stack the shelves with us on Saturday. 'We open in five minutes so stand by to repel boarders!'

'What do we do?' I ask Josh.

'We're 'fulfillers'. When the vouchers are presented, the people at the desks will see how many people the voucher is for; ask if there are any allergies or special dietary requirements, and then the boxes can be filled accordingly. There are already boxes prepared with some of the basics, but we'll need to add other things to them.

Michael unlocks the door, and we're open for business.

A steady stream of people come through the door over the next hour. And Josh is right. They are all sorts. Old and young; men and women; singles and couples; black, white and Asian. I notice that while we're fulfilling the boxes, the receptionists – for want of a better word - talk to the people about their situation and other possible sources of help.

Although we only intended to stay for an hour, time seems to pass very quickly – and it's busy work taking all the various items off the shelves, or finding suitable replacements for things we run out of, and assembling them all together. It's almost two hours until there's a lull in visitors and we feel that we can be spared. Josh goes to tell Michael that we're leaving, while I go and wash my hands. Josh comes into the washroom as I'm drying them.

'Michael says thanks very much – and that you're welcome anytime! Right. Let's go and catch a bus home.'

It's only a short walk to the bus stop. We need a number 8 which, Josh says, will get us to Clifton in about twenty-five minutes. He checks the timetable; we have a fifteen-minute wait. A huge black guy and a frail-looking old lady are already waiting. The contrast between the two makes me smile. A few minutes later we're joined by a shaven-headed lad wearing a football shirt and Doc Martens. He has a tattoo of a spider's web on his neck.

What happens next is entirely my fault. Josh says something to me that results in me, without thinking, giving him a kiss. The shaven-headed boy notices – and I can see the look of disgust on his face.

'Are you fucking homos?' he says.

'Sorry, I say,' I've never fucked a homo, you'll have to find someone else to help you out.'

I see the black guy smile while my words percolate through the Neanderthal's brain. It was a smart Alec answer that I didn't need to give…in fact, I realise, I should just have ignored him, because the next thing I know he's stepped across and raised his fist.

'You fucking little fairy, I'll…'

'You'll do nothing,' says the black guy. He's caught the youth's fist in his own considerably bigger one. 'Or maybe you have a problem with blacks too?'

The boy looks daggers at him, starts to say something and then changes his mind. Instead, he walks off. Ten yards further on he turns and flicks us a V-sign, before continuing on his way.

'Thank you,' I say to my saviour.

'Don't mention it. Ignorant little shits like that hate all minorities…coloureds, gays, Jews, you name it…and nice reply, by the way, even if a little ill-advised.'

'Yes, I know, it was stupid...I didn't think.'

'We all make mistakes. Provided we learn from them then no harm done.'

Two minutes later the bus arrives. I offer to help the old lady into it with her shopping trolley.

'Thank you, young man. It's nice to see that manners aren't entirely dead. And I thought it was lovely seeing you kiss your boyfriend.'

'Not at all…and thank you.'

'My grandson's gay, and I love him to bits. I have no idea why people like that horrid yobbo have such a problem with it.'

And with that she makes her way to the back of the bus and sits down.

Josh and I take a seat nearer the front.

'God, Nico, I thought he was going to thump the living daylights out of you.'

'Me too. Thank God that guy was there – and ready to help.'

'It can be a bit like that in the rougher areas of Bristol. I should have warned you.'

'And I shouldn't have been a smart-arse.'

Josh giggles.

'But it WAS quite funny. Especially as he was working out what you meant…'

'But lesson learned.'

The bus drops us about a ten-minute walk from Josh's house. It's now half-past one, and we're both hungry.

'There's a really nice sandwich shop around the corner…we could pick up something there - or I'm sure there'll be stuff in the fridge at home,' says Josh.

'What would you prefer?' I ask.

'Maybe get home…?'


'But maybe pick up a loaf of fresh, crusty bread from the baker on the way past?'

'Sounds good.'

We call in at the bakery and buy a loaf of malted granary bread. Back at Josh's s house, his mother has left a note on the kitchen table.

'I expect you'll be hungry. There's smoked salmon or ham in the fridge if you want a sandwich, or you can get a pizza out of the freezer. I'll be back about 6.'

'Smoked salmon or ham? Or there's cheese.'

'Tough choice…' I say.

'Why don't I make a couple of smoked salmon and a couple of ham?'

'Sounds yummy.'

He takes the loaf of bread out of its paper bag, gets a bread knife – and then looks at me.

'Are you any good at slicing bread? I'm hopeless, the slices always seem to end up different thicknesses at one end from the other.'

'No problem.'

I cut eight slices from the loaf, all perfectly even - one of the benefits of my slight OCD. Josh makes two sandwiches with smoked salmon - adding a squeeze of lemon and some black pepper - and two of ham, with a thin smear of mustard. We take them into the family room and sit down to eat.

'Good bread,' says Josh, with his mouth half-full.

'And very good smoked salmon,' I add.

We munch in companionable silence.

'Mmm…that's better,' says Josh as the last of the sandwiches disappears. 'Coffee?'

'Yes please.'

We take the coffee upstairs with us.

'So…any plans for this afternoon?' I ask.

'Would it be VERY terrible if we spent it in bed? We've got three hours before anyone will be home, and you're leaving tomorrow…'

'I think I could force myself to do that if that's what you'd really like….'

'Oh, very big of you…'

'I know. I bend over backwards to please you.'

'Now that's a picture…'

'Do you want us to be… we can…?'

'Why not? We've got time to indulge in a bit of everything…in fact, maybe we should shower first anyway, I'm a bit sticky from running round the warehouse earlier.'

'Good idea.'

We shower, and we use the bidet and then we go to bed. And we do all the things we love to do with each other – which now includes using our fingers inside each other. I discover that if I insert my finger just as Josh is about to erupt, it sends him absolutely crazy. He kicks, and bucks and shouts with the sheer intensity of it.

'Oh my GOD…oh fuck, Nico… the hell did you discover that?'

'Happy accident,' I say, 'but one for the book of keepers, I think…'

'You can say that again.'

We end up pretty much drained, and then just cuddle up together.

'How long have we known each other?' Josh says.

'Hmmm…three months.'

'It feels like I've known you forever.'

'I know.'

There's a pause.



'I'm still in no rush, but…how do you feel about…you know…the prospect of…us…I mean, we're used to using our fingers…and I wondered…well, I just want to know what you think about….'

'Using a bit more than our fingers?'

'Yes. In principle.'

'In principle, I think that would be the logical next step.'

'Logical, yes.'

He pulls me closer to him and runs his fingers through my hair.

'And does the idea…excite you?'

'Sort of…but it scares me a bit too.'

'Me too.'

'I don't see how it can't hurt…a lot.'

'I'd never hurt you, Nico.'

'But you might have to. At first. If we do it. And I might hurt you too.'

'Maybe we can do something to...prepare?'

'More than fingers?'

'Uh huh. Maybe we should…each buy something to use on ourselves...while we're apart…so it's easier when…if…we…decide we want to…you know…go further.'

'You mean…a dildo?'

'I guess.'

'I'm not sure I could face going into a shop and…buying one. I don't even know f there's a shop in Oxford where I could get one anyway.'

'Umm…there is another way. Amazon.'

'No credit card. Have to be eighteen to have one.'

'I've got some Amazon vouchers. From my last birthday. Haven't used them. Fancy a bit of research?'

He grins at me. We go over to his computer and start searching. The variety is bewildering.

'Nothing too ambitious, I think. Some of these look like they'd split me in two. Hmmm...this looks more like it.'

It's pink. About six inches long and with a circumference, according to the description, of three and a half inches. It's hard to translate that into how thick it is.

'Divide the circumference by pi…I think, if I remember my maths correctly,' says Josh.

'Then that would be a diameter of just over an inch. That feels like it's smaller than our cocks when erect, but bigger than two fingers. Sounds about right. But…why don't you get hard so we can check? Better safe than sorry,' I say.

'OK then…over to you….'

I do my best to get him hard, but we both start to giggle helplessly and that, combined with the fact that we're drained from the sex we've just had, means that Josh doesn't get further than a semi.

'Let's come back to this later. But I think we have a solution in principle,' he says.

And when we try again at bedtime, it turns out that Josh is just over four and a half inches in circumference when hard – so three and a half inches sounds perfect for something to start with. Josh orders the dildos, organising for one of them to be delivered to me.

'But Nico,' he says, 'just because we're doing this doesn't mean we have to do the real thing until we both want to, OK?'


In bed, he wraps his arms round me, his body soft and warm against mine. And that's how we fall asleep.

'Parting is such sweet sorrow,' according to Shakespeare. And it has to be admitted that the old bugger knew what he was talking about. Those are exactly the emotions I'm feeling as Josh's Mum goes to get the car out the next morning, ready to take me to the station.

Josh and I made love together for the last time before Christmas when we woke up this morning. We showered together and cried together with the pain of our upcoming parting. And now we're standing, stiff-lipped, ready to put my bag in the car. I feel him reach for my fingers. I close my hand around his and squeeze.

My bag goes into the boot of the Tesla, and Josh and I cuddle up in the back as we make our way to the station. At the ticket- barrier, the moment comes for us to say goodbye.

'Thank you so much for having me, Tamara,' I say.

'A complete pleasure, Nick. You know you're welcome any time.'

For Josh, I have no words. I can't trust myself. We just hug.

'See you near Christmas,' I say, the words hoarse in my throat.

'It's just a few weeks, Nico. And I can't wait.'

'Me either.'

'I love you so much.'

'And I you.'

I put my ticket into the machine. The gate clicks open. I walk through and head for platform 3. At the bottom of the escalator that will take me up and over to where I need to be, I turn and wave. Josh is still there. He kisses his fingers, then opens his hand and flicks his fingers towards me. I send him a kiss in return, then step onto the moving stairs that take me up and away from the boy I love.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead