“See you after school, Chris,” my dad said as he closed the door to my room. I moved from the bed, where I'd sat for our chat, and over to my desk chair which my father had just vacated. I spun in the chair slowly, letting my eyes wander and becoming mildly dizzy as I turned over the conversation we'd just had.
The last six months or so had been really upside down for me and it wasn't something I was used to. When my old school closed I'd lobbied my parents hard to go to a regular school—I was sick of uniforms and prayers and the restrictive ideas people had about me because of my sexuality. My parents had wanted me to have a better education and it was something of a gamble to have sent me there, but they could see I wasn't happy.
I'd had a string of failed relationships that were sometimes due to the neurosis of the religion the school bathed in, but some of it was just that things didn't work out. With the school closing, I saw my chance and asked to get into the large local high school and my parents relented. I knew it would be weird starting where I likely knew no one, but Leighton—my cousin—went there, and he and I were always close.
I'd made a friend or two on the soccer team as the season had progressed—and more recently made a good friend in Corbin Daniels—but my world was really focused on just one guy. I'd thought Noel Robideau was exactly my type the moment I saw him, but experience had taught me that I was probably wishing him to be gay when he wasn't. As luck would have it, he actually was gay and he was now my boyfriend. On the unlucky side, his only relationship prior to me had been poisonous.
He'd dated an upperclassmen and trapped himself into a relationship where he was used and discarded on a regular basis. By the time I came into his life he was regularly beating himself up over it and it made him something of a basket case. Of course, that was before he'd met Leighton who drew him out of his shell by just being himself.
It didn't take me very long to fall in love with Noel. I don't know if it was because of any one thing, exactly. Maybe a combination of how different dating him was compared to the relationships I'd had before. Maybe some of it was his hurt and how I'd catch it in his eyes as he'd try to gloss a situation over and not 'ruin things'. He was self-conscious about not being a constant prisoner to the things that still pained him from his old relationship, and it wasn't always easy. I think, though, in the end it was that Noel is a really sweet guy who is just afraid.
Leigh often said that Noel was amazing, and he was right. Leigh has such a man crush on Noel and it's cute to watch. Noel always seems befuddled by Leigh's enthusiasm about him and does his best to be a good influence. But the important part was, really, how big a part of my life Noel was. Is.
After dating about a month and a half I realized that Noel is going to be the one. I don't mean marriage or soul mate or something like that; no one knows what will happen that far away. But I knew that I wanted Noel to be the guy I lost my virginity to; the problem would be getting him to take it.
After Lyle Henderson, his ex, had used him for a year or so, Noel was really gun shy about sex. He warmed up to cuddling and could do it like nobody's business and it was the way I preferred to see my movies, TV shows, read books or just hang out on a rainy day. Even though I was a good two inches taller than Noel, there was no question we fit together like peas and carrots, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly—you pick the cliché, we personified it. There had been a big wall when we transitioned from cuddling to making out, though.
I did a great deal of thinking about the subject and tried my best to look at things through the lens of his experiences, as much as I could imagine of it. I knew he liked the making out—or at least his body sure did. His mind, though, would pull him back from me. He'd apologize, he'd get clumsy and I'd pull him in and cuddle until he could relax. That was hard to do because my body certainly didn't relax. After he'd leave I'd practically race for some privacy and masturbate violently, usually more than once. It was maddening to have such a hot boyfriend with the issues that he had.
It had happened on one of those gloomy days when heavy gray clouds simply hovered oppressively. The stove at my house had died and my parents were out shopping for a new one and Noel and I were avoiding that weighty gray beast outside by cuddling under a blanket and listening to music. Actually, it was sillier than that. The radio station had a contest for early movie tickets to something and we were trying to be caller whatever in order to win. It was just mindless fun, and we figured if we both used our phones to call in, we'd double our chances.
That degenerated into taking pictures of each other. I admit, I started it, because Corbin had texted to ask what I was doing and I took a picture of Noel. I thought it was kind of cheeky of me, playing with words like that and Corby had a sufficiently dirty mind to figure it out. He also knew, through some side conversations he and I had had, that there wasn't much happening on that front.
The cue to call in came over the radio and we were both preoccupied with dialing in but then, oddly, we were both trying to foil the other's attempt to call in. It devolved quickly into wrestling, squeals and tickling. Then it turned into kissing and a make out. Both our bodies responded, but this time I didn't want to just let him go home and then run to my room to jerk off, thinking about what could have been. Instead I managed to slide down and hook his jeans with my fingers.
“Uh.” He coughed out awkwardly and his hands jerked as if to reach for mine, but fell short. I tilted my face up to look at him and locked my gaze to his.
“Can I? Please?”
He made a series of small motions: a hand rubbed across his face, a shudder rippling through his body followed by another awkward breath and his body shifted under me.
“Chris...” he said and then stopped, his voice soft and shaky. He wet his lips.
“I want to, Noel. You don't have to do it back.” I paused and swallowed. “I want to know what it feels like, what it...you taste like.”
His lips drew down to a thin line and he closed his eyes before opening them slowly.
“Are you sure you want to?”
“Noel, I've been daydreaming about blowing you. Just...tell me to do it. Tell me you want me to.”
“What? No, if you want to that's one thing—”
“You're in charge, Noel,” I said and licked my lips. “Tell me you want me to suck you.”
Our gazed locked. Even though I hadn't planned for this to happen here and now, I'd guessed that placing Noel in control was the way to go; I trusted him, so it wasn't a difficult decision for me. Time stretched out, the gray began to feel more oppressive as if it were pressing on the windows and walls. I imagined I could feel it slithering into the room and increasing the pressure on my eardrums, my eyeballs, my—
I let a breath out and vaguely wondered when I'd stopped taking breaths. “Tell me, Noel.”
“Chris...” he said, trailing off and a blush entering his face.
“Tell me, babe.”
He blinked a few times and opened his mouth. Wet his lips. Opened his mouth again, “Chris I want you...I want you to...s-suck me.”
I smiled at the memory and adjusted myself. As blow jobs went, it probably wasn't that great since I had no experience. I did, however, have a lot of desire and there was the undeniable fact that I really enjoyed it. I should mention, in case it wasn't obvious, that Noel enjoyed it as well. It didn't make our intimacy issues go away; in fact it made some things worse.
As I said, I tried to look at things through the lens of his experiences. We did talk and the upshot was that he was worried that, having taken that step, he knew what the next one was. I reassured him that we didn't need to take that stop, yet, and we should be free to enjoy each other. It took a few more weeks before Noel came to me and said he wanted to even the score. Now that he was open to this, though, there was no way I was getting one and he wasn't.
That was really our only drawback as a couple, though. We went out together, we texted endlessly and just enjoyed being around each other, even if we weren't cuddling or making out.
As I thought on that, though, I realized—or decided, I'm not sure which—that in order for him to sleep with me, I'd have to bottom. I spent a great deal of time thinking about that because I was a little conflicted on my reasoning. I felt like I was pretty easy going and not putting a great deal of pressure on him, but I also tried to remind myself to look at things through his eyes—and his view was constricted by his experience with Lyle Henderson.
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the idea, but my ambivalence departed quickly because I knew that plenty of people bottomed and liked it and Noel would know what didn't feel good and he wouldn't hurt me, not intentionally. I found a wealth of information online—if the NSA was monitoring my searching they must have thought I was a raving slut!
The upshot of my research was practice and patience, so I used a gift certificate and bought a dildo online. Even though my parents were very forward thinking, I couldn't quite bring myself to ask for such a thing and I sure as hell didn't want them getting the box before I did. The toy wasn't exactly impressive; in fact, compared to Noel or myself, it was pretty slender. However, it was a starter and something to get me used to the idea, to let me test it all out.
Honestly, it was an eye opener for me. I think that, maybe, guys think about topping because we all have dicks and can freely play with them. The idea of putting something in our asses isn't the first thing that occurs to us, is my guess, and so it takes a little getting used to. But, following instructions I'd found online and taking my time I discovered that bottoming wasn't such a bad idea. I mean, yeah, I still had to jerk off to get off but the sensations from the toy hitting my prostate, when my aim was on, was a really nice addition.
It didn't take long for me to pretend the toy was Noel, to close my eyes and fantasize about my boyfriend screwing me. The next step, I realized, was to turn fantasy into reality.
“Morning, babe,” I said, greeting Noel as I slid into the seat next to him. We shared a quick kiss before the back door opened and Leigh clamored in.
“Hope you guys brushed this morning,” he grumbled.
We rode into school, talking about this and that, and before we knew it we were in the school parking lot. Leigh hopped out, calling that he'd see us at lunch, and headed off to meet up with his friends. I lifted my bag from the floor but Noel placed a hand on my forearm to still me. I looked up at him in curiosity.
“What's up?” I asked.
He smiled and said, “I know you said no birthday presents, but...” he shrugged and said, “I wanted to give you something.”
“You're my gift, silly,” I said as I grinned at him. “You already said you'd come for the weekend. I can't wait!”
He colored and his smile suddenly looked like it were painted on as opposed to filled with the genuine emotion he'd displayed moments before. His fingers trembled slightly as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. His gaze had drifted down to the box in his hand and he said softly, “I didn't want to get something common or...cheesy. Anyway, I hope you like it.”
Handing me the box I said, “Thank you, babe. I'm sure I'll love it.” Opening the box I found a charm in the shape of a soccer ball, the white pentagons in sparkling, clear gems and the black pentagons in a similar dark gem. It glittered in the morning light and, conscious of how much the gift meant to Noel, I made sure to pull it up by its chain and examine it in the morning light.
“Oh, Noel,” I said breathily. “This is too much! It must have cost a fortune!”
“Cost isn't the important part,” he said quietly. “Look on the back.”
Sparing a glance at my boyfriend, I turned the charm over and noted the tiny inscription, just a date. I turned to look at him, a question clear on my face.
The corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. I lifted the charm toward him in question and his grin spread across his face.
“That's the date I fell in love with you.”
My face grew warm and my heart galloped forward as I looked at the date and then back at his face.
“Oh my God! That is so damn romantic!” I groaned and leaned into him, kissing him deeply. I felt him smiling against my lips, secure in the moment. Once we parted I put the charm around my neck by its chain and opened the top of my shirt an extra button to show it off. It got several compliments throughout the day and I delighted in telling people it was a gift from my boyfriend.
In fact, I was sitting in a morning study hall that I shared with Corby, daydreaming about the weekends possibilities—and my fervent hopes for those possibilities—when Corby shoved me.
“What?” I asked, mildly annoyed.
“I've been asking you about your party and you just stare into space. What's on your mind?”
I grinned and glanced away from him. “Just having impure thoughts about my boyfriend.”
“Oh, so, the usual,” he said, laughing and I joined him. “Seriously, though, I think Dec and I have been farther than you two.” Dec, or more properly Declan McClain was his boyfriend and Leigh's best friend.
“Well,” I said, lowering my voice and leaning toward Corby, who mimicked my movements, “You know why it's an issue, but I'm hoping to get through that this weekend.”
“He said yes?” Corby asked, breathless.
“He did,” I confirmed.
“Wow,” he replied. He leaned back and shook his head, “I hope it goes the way you hope. Every time I look at Noel, all I can feel is bad for him.”
“He doesn't want to be pitied, and don't let him hear you say that,” I said softly. “He likes having you as a friend, but it would really hurt him to know that.”
“I know that,” Corby replied, shaking his head at my words. “And I like him, too. I could probably forget about shit if it weren't for Jerry fucking Pinman.”
“Someone needs to kick his ass,” I grumbled as I leaned back in my chair. I didn't realize how close my words were to being prophetic.
After study hall we had lunch. Corby and I waited for our boyfriends to join us before getting in line, and when they did there was plenty of chatter. Leigh got in line with us, pleased with himself for getting a boy's phone number that he was interested in and that's when things went a little weird.
It started with Jerry fucking Pinman, who walked up behind Leigh and slapped him in the ass and asked, loudly, “Hey, Noel. You fuck him yet? Lyle fucked you by this time last year.”
“Screw you, Pinman! Keep your hands of him!” Noel replied, heatedly. I clenched my fists in irritation; itching to punch that asshole.
“Aww, poor Freshie! Noel's a big old bottom, didn't you know? If you're tired of waiting, or if you'd like a real man to break you in, I could help you out.” he paused and eyed Noel, “Give you what you need, too.”
Noel stepped forward and, I was sure this would be the last time Jerry said anything near him when Leigh suddenly launched a punch that landed straight in Jerry's crotch.
“Leave Noel alone!” Leigh screamed and swung wildly, hitting Jerry on the shoulder in a glancing blow, due to Jerry having doubled over from the first blow. Leigh was drawing back for another punch when, simultaneously, Noel grabbed Leigh and pulled him back just as Jerry was yanked away by a big guy whom I didn't know, but who Corby later identified as Nelson Salisbury. Nelson shook Jerry like a Terrier shaking a rat. His voice boomed, filling the busy hallway outside the cafeteria.
“Jerry! Why are you picking on freshman and getting your ass kicked?”
Jerry, for his part, looked a little green in the face. Leigh pulled himself free of Noel's grip and began to growl threats at Jerry, all for naught as Nelson steered the ill-looking Jerry away. Glancing around I saw that Noel was headed down the hall and I hurried after him. He ducked into the first bathroom he came to and I followed. He was leaning on a sink, his gaze flicking to the mirror when I came in and, seeing it was me, his gaze dropped back to the empty sink.
“I hate that prick,” he said, his voice thick. “I hate that I never stand up to him. I hate how I feel after he opens his mouth. I hate that...little bit of truth—”
“No, no, fuck that,” I said forcefully. Noel's head jerked up in surprise and I closed the distance between us. “Jerry can say anything he wants, but none of that is true. You bottomed for Lyle? So what. Lost of guys bottom—some of them make a living at it. I have no idea why he's obsessed with you, other than you're devastatingly handsome—” Noel snorted “—but no matter how envious he is, he can't have you.
“You're mine,” I said as I turned him toward me and held him close. He shook in my arms, but returned the embrace.
“Thank you,” he mumbled into my shoulder. I smiled to myself. It's kind of silly, but I'm a few inches taller than Noel and when he hugs me, he usually turns his face sideways and, if I stand on my toes, I can put my chin on his head. In some ways, like right now, it feels like I can give him more comfort and affection just having his face turned sideways and pressed to my chest.
We stood like that in silence for a minute or more. I was suddenly struck with a funny thought and began to chuckle.
“What's so funny?” he asked, pulling back to look at my face.
“Well,” I said, snickering. “First, Leigh is just ferocious about protecting you.”
“Yeah,” he said, smiling faintly. “Little guy likes me, I guess.”
“And second he...I can't believe it,” I said, my laughter bubbling up. “He punched him in the dick!”
Noel's face spread wide and he began to chuckle and then to laugh with me. It was a good sound.
“Come on, let's go eat before all the crap they serve is gone.”
Noel nodded, wiped his face and we left to go find our friends.
My family had always made a big deal out of birthdays. It was always cause for a cook out or dinner somewhere and a lot of teasing and chatter. With my seventeenth just a day away, my sister had come home from college and my brother, away in France on a work visa, sent his regrets. The family was gathering to take me out to dinner – the meal was always the biggest part of birthdays for us—kind of like Thanksgiving, which was my favorite holiday because it was all about the meal and getting together, not buying gifts and focusing on all that other stuff. In fact, gifts were usually minimal at best. My parents always said that the meaning of a birthday was to celebrate the fact you were born and joined the family rather than a requirement to give a gift.
I know that may sound odd, but in many ways my family wasn't typical. For instance when it came to issues of sexuality or sex period, my folks were quite progressive. There was never any issue with me being gay and my parents had never asked or batted an eye when I'd expressed interest in my own gender. In fact, it was the same way they treated my brother and sister—who were both straight—who you were attracted to was who you were attracted to and nothing else really needed to be said.
I finished knotting my tie and took stock of myself in the mirror. Noel liked my hair long enough to run his fingers through and so did I. My black button-up contrasted nicely with my skin tone and the warm gold tie brought out some of the brown of my eyes. The black slacks and matching shoes completed my look and I took the time to twist side to side, checking myself from every angle.
My door burst open and my cousin, Leighton, charged in and then stopped as he took me in. A grin spread across his face and he said, “I guess Noel said yes, huh?”
I stuck my tongue out before looking back at the mirror. “Yes, he did.”
“Man,” he said, groaning and dropping his butt heavily on my bed. “I hope I find someone as amazing as him.”
“Don't you go pining over my boyfriend, Leigh.”
“Who wouldn't?” he said and then burst out laughing. “He's too old for me. But I wish I could find someone just like him in my grade.”
I glanced at his reflected image, our gazes meeting. “I don't know if you'll find someone as good as he is, but the right person is out there for you. What about that phone number you got today?”
“Grady Reed,” Leigh said, pretending to swoon. “He's got this cute accent and the most pale blue eyes.”
My lips curled in a smile. “When did you meet him?”
“He's in my wood shop class,” Leigh said, leaning back and propping himself up on his elbows. “His dad is a carpenter and he knew what some of the tools were called and what you use them for.”
“Sounds like you checked him out thoroughly,” I teased.
“Noel says the outside is to get your attention, the inside is what keeps it.”
I smiled widely, “That sounds like something Noel would say.”
“So I thought Grady looked cute, and when I talked to him he was really nice. He's kind of shy and awkward, but I like that. I feel like I can be myself and not try too hard, you know?”
“Sure,” I nodded. “It's more comfortable if you can just be yourself.”
“Yeah. Well, do I look nice enough to go out with you guys tonight? You approve?” he said and stood up, holding his arms out and turning in place.
I smiled at him. “You look great, Leigh.”
“So you guys have been together for, what, four months now?”
“Yeah, about that,” I replied. With a final glance at the mirror I turned toward Leigh who'd resumed his seat and was grinning widely at me. “What?”
“Is he a good kisser?”
The edges of my lips curled into a smile. “I'm not telling you anything. You probably whack off about my boyfriend as it is.”
“I can neither confirm nor deny that statement,” he said in his best 'serious' voice. I put a hand on my hip and he dissolved into giggles.
“That's all the confirmation I need. Goof.” I crossed the room and ran my fingers along the dark blazer that went with my pants. Did I want to wear that tonight?
“Well,” he said as he gained his feet. “Just don't forget he's my friend, too, and I'm going to need some soccer lessons this summer.”
I half turned to face him. “And did you forget I play soccer too?”
“Nope,” Leigh replied, a smile blooming across his face. “But Noel says goalies are a breed all their own so I have to work with actual soccer players.”
“He did not,” I said, laughing as I turned back toward my closet. “You're just angling to get time with my boyfriend.”
“Well, I wasn't kidding—he is my friend, too,” Leigh said. Any further conversation was cut off by a tap at the door and my sister poking her head in.
“Hey, Chris are you—hey! Check you out!” she said, fully entering the room upon seeing that I was dressed. “Wow! People might think you're out to impress someone!”
“It's his amazing boyfriend,” Leigh said in an offhand way. I shot him a look of amusement.
“Leigh is just jealous he's not seeing my boyfriend more than I am,” I replied.
“Little weird to be fighting over a boyfriend, you guys,” she said, snickering and leaning back against the wall my my door.
“There is no fight,” I said firmly. “Noel is my boyfriend and I claim as much of his time as I can.”
“But Chris!” Leigh whined, his voice breaking into laughter.
“Leigh!” my sister said in a scandalized tone. “Are you after your cousin's boyfriend?”
“No!” he said, scowling and laughing all in one. “He's my friend too, though! In fact, he was my friend first!”
“Yeah,” I said, pulling the blazer out. “And I know all about your attempts to make him your first boyfriend. You're not fooling me, Leigh,” I teased.
“Just wait till you meet him, Mallory,” Leigh said. “You'll want him all to yourself, too.”
Mal just laughed at him and Leigh pretended to leave in a huff. I held up the blazer and asked my sister, “Yea or nay?”
“Depends. Funeral or you want to get laid?”
I paused. “Without revealing which one...”
“Leave the jacket, Chris. Now,” she said, taking Leigh's vacated spot on my bed. “Tell me about this guy before I meet him.”
I couldn't stop a smile forming on my face as I turned and put the jacket back. Turning to face my sister I said, “Leigh's right, he's amazing.”
“Well, give me a little more than that!” she said, humor bubbling through her voice.
I smiled wider and tilted my head from side to side. “Well, it would be easy to say he's cute—hot, even—but even better is that he's got a great heart and a lot of courage. He actually proved what a good guy he is before I even met him, to be honest.”
“Do tell,” she said, encouraging me.
So I told her all about how Leigh had conned Noel into making Leigh a better soccer player and how Leigh had some aborted romantic designs on Noel and how Noel had put a stop to it. “I don't want to discuss Noel's private life, but he knew what he could have gotten from Leigh and he also knew firsthand what a bad thing that would have been for Leigh. Trust me, he's a good person.”
She shook her head and chuckled. “So Leigh really does have a thing for your boyfriend?”
I titled my hand side to side. “Yes and no. He really does like and look up to Noel, but I think it's more of a crush than a real romantic interest—plus Leigh likes to bust my nuts. Noel's been good to him and good for him, actually. He's sure taken some of the pressure off of me when it comes to Leigh's endless questions.”
“Interesting,” she replied. “So...pretty special, this Noel?”
“Yeah,” I said with a nod. “He really is amazing.”
The doorbell chimed and I made a quick glance at the mirror before dashing out the door. My mother was headed toward the front door and I hurried to catch up and waive her off. Getting Noel to come stay for the weekend hadn't been hard, exactly, but it hadn't been a sure thing, either. The last thing I wanted was for everyone to make a fuss and leave him feeling overwhelmed. The first time we'd hung out alone he'd assured me he wouldn't break, but I know he's more sensitive than he likes to think he shows.
Opening the door I found him standing there looking a bit nervous. He wore a green button-up that made his eyes sparkle and his earth toned tie offset his light brown hair very well. He wore dark pants and shoes—and my smile couldn't have been wider at seeing him. He returned the smile, a little shyly, and flapped his arms a little as if he wanted to ask if he looked all right but was afraid to ask.
“You look phenomenal!” I said and, glancing down the hall at my waiting mother, stepped onto the front stoop out of her sight and kissed him. Immediately hugging him I whispered in his ear, “I can't wait to show you off; thank you for coming.”
“Well, it's your birthday,” he said a little nervously. “I didn't want to let you down.”
I leaned back and kissed him lightly before telling him, “Not possible. Come in!” I took his hand and led him into the house and took his bag in my other hand. My mother made all the appropriate noises, cooing over how nice he looked. Leigh high-fived him and then took a selfie of them, making faces in their nice clothes. No doubt it would be on Leigh's Instagram in seconds. Leigh's folks, my aunt and uncle, were also present and then Mallory was hugging Noel. Leaning back and holding him by the shoulders she spared a glance at me.
“Well, yes, he does look pretty amazing, Chris!”
Noel bore it with good grace, his face going a little red with the attention. I ran his bag to my room and, by the time I got back, Leigh was talking animatedly to him. Noel was far more comfortable interacting with Leigh than he was with my parents, but I'd guess that's pretty normal. We crammed in front of Leigh's phone and he took a few more shots before my mother started with the picture taking as well.
We took two cars and went out to dinner at a small Italian restaurant all the way in Binghamton called Fratelli Eposito and had a great meal. There was a lot of lively discussion and everyone was included—even Noel was relaxed and seemed to be having a good time. Periodically I'd reach under the table and take his hand and he'd smile at me, and his smiles always made me melt.
Mallory updated us on life at college, my aunt and uncle talked work and shared news of their oldest who lived far out west. My parents asked Noel a lot of questions about what he wanted to do for college, if he'd be playing soccer next year and so on. The food was served family style and it just kept coming! Finally, when we were all full and the adults were sipping coffee, dessert came out in the form of slices of the most heavenly Tiramisu. All in all, the whole thing was a great success.
On the way back I sat in next to Noel, full and happy as I held his hand and leaned into him.
“Did you have a good time?” I asked.
“Yeah, I did. You?” he murmured.
“It was wonderful; you made it perfect, though.”
He shook his head and smiled at me. He didn't smile all that much, but it was a treat when he did. He was still kind of stand-offish with most people, and that prick Jerry Pinman was a constant thorn in his side. Pinman liked to spread shitty rumors about Noel, but I smiled thinking of this afternoon and Leigh having heard enough.
Leigh was quite proud of himself about that and no one could tell him differently—not that I ever would. Jerry had that and a lot more to answer for. The ride back to the house was quiet, just the mutter of quiet conversation and the radio in the background. Leigh was riding with his parents, not that it mattered much since we were neighbors, but he was busy texting his friends and updating his various social media accounts with our dinner out I was sure. That left Mal talking to my folks and Noel all to myself in the back seat.
“Is the shirt new?” I asked him. “I don't remember seeing it on you, before.”
“Uh, yeah,” he replied, self-consciously running a hand down the front of the material. “You like it?”
“Makes your eyes pop,” I said.
“You look pretty remarkable yourself,” he replied and, as is typical for him, brushing off the compliment. “I don't think I've seen you dressed up before.”
“I don't have much reason to,” I agreed. “But tonight is special.”
“Yeah, seventeen tomorrow. You have a schedule for the big day?”
“Sort of. I told everyone no presents, it's just some food and hang out time all together.”
“Who did you invite? And what kind of birthday has no presents?”
“People are my presents,” I told him, shaking his arm. “I get you for the weekend and all my friends in one place tomorrow. We'll have food and hang out, play games or watch a movie—it's not about buying crap.”
Noel looked at me skeptically. “So you really think everyone will show up empty handed?”
“No,” I replied, truthfully. “There's always someone who thinks I was joking or who just can't accept that I just want to include them. It's okay, but it's not the point.”
“I guess I can return my present, then,” he said, trying to tempt me. I just chuckled at him and kissed his cheek and fingered the charm around my neck.
“You're my present, Noel. A whole weekend of boyfriend time—Leigh is probably green with envy!”
“Stop,” he said, laughing. “Leigh is so weird. Isn't the older guy supposed to be protective of the younger?”
“Be honest,” I said, “the kid gets a huge amount of credit for popping Pinman.”
Noel stifled his laughter, but managed to say, “Hysterical how he likes to tell people he punched him in the dong.”
“I know,” I giggled. “He's so proud of himself.”
Noel shook his head. “I wish I'd done it. All the things he said...I should have stood up for myself.”
“Except you'd have gotten in trouble. I'm sure you'd never have been satisfied with just one punch. Right?”
“Maybe,” he conceded.
“I wouldn't have either.”
We lapsed into silence until we got home. It was relatively early and we chatted with my parents for a few minutes before making popcorn and retiring to watch a movie in the TV room. Mal said her good nights as she headed back out to hang with her friends. Noel and I watched some TV and I thoroughly enjoyed knowing that he wasn't going back home that night. When it got to be about ten thirty I stretched, arching back against Noel and asked if he was ready to turn in. He nodded, mumbling a reply and we set about picking up our mess and turning things off.
My parents were turning in as well and, after we exchanged good night wishes, Noel and I were finally alone. I leaned back against the door as he milled uncertainly next to the bed.
“I thought this part would never come!” I said as I pushed off from the door and crossed over to him. He looked a bit uncertain but I was brimming with excitement.
“It was a nice evening. Did you have fun?” he asked.
“I did,” I confirmed as I unbuttoned my shirt and tossed it toward the hamper. “It was special to have you there with me.”
He cocked his head to one side. “I want to ask why, but... I'm thinking your family has unusual traditions for birthdays.”
I smiled at him. “Birthday dinner is for family. This is the first year I've had someone with me.”
“Um,” he said, his uncertain look settling in again. I unbuckled my pants and lay them over the back of my chair and then sat down to pull my socks off.
“I've never dated seriously around the time of my birthday. Including you was a way of...I don't know, letting everyone know how important you are to me.”
He blushed and a smile played about the corners of his mouth. “You're really important to me, too.”
“I'm going to brush my teeth,” I said to him. “Did you bring a brush?”
“Oh! Uh, yeah,” he said, suddenly in motion. He dug in the side pocket of his bag and pulled out his toothbrush and I led him down the hall to the bathroom. Once we were done brushing and washing faces and all that sort of thing we headed back to my room. Once more I closed the door and leaned against it while Noel crossed the wooden floor, then onto the fluffy shag that surrounded the bed and to his bag. He paused again and then pulled his shirt off.
As I leaned against the door, I watched my boyfriend like the freak I know I am. Don't get me wrong, I have all kinds of deep emotional reasons I love my boyfriend. I'm also seventeen and dating a guy that pushes so many of my buttons I can't even name them all. He placed his shirt over his bag, and then unbuckled his pants. I watched as they descended his legs, and then as he neatly folded them and lifted his shirt to place it over his pants. He bends and removes his socks and, at last, he is in the same state of undress as I am.
He looks up at me shyly. In some ways it always strikes me with awe that Noel isn't cocky about his appearance. I know that not everyone would see him and swoon like I do—he hits my buttons, not everyone else's. Even though I've seen him nude before I was looking forward to spending the entire night sleeping with him and waking up to him. Yet, I knew, this would be the difficult part of my plans for the evening. Damn you, Lyle. Damn you to hell for what you did to Noel.
I walked over to him slowly and reached for his hand. He allowed me to lift it and place it over my heart, which was pounding enough I was sure it was visible on my chest, outlined on my skin with each mighty thump. I spread his fingers out and made sure his palm was flat over my heart so he couldn't mistake what he was feeling.
“That's because of you,” I told him.
His gaze flicked up to mine and a nervous smile crossed his face. He let out a short sigh and said, “When you asked me to stay over, I knew what you really meant. I know...” he paused and licked his lips. “I know it won't be the same with you. But I can't help...I know how it felt, before. I...just, take it slow, okay?”
I felt confused for the briefest of moments and then I shook my head at him. “Noel, I'm not asking you for that.”
He looked at me, his face again showing that uncertainty. “But...you asked me to stay the weekend. Why else...?”
I smiled. “I do want to have sex, Noel.”
He nodded slowly. “Well, like I said...I kind of figured. I thought about it and I know you've been really patient with me and so reasonable. I figure you must be frustrated, sometimes. It's not that I don't want...that I don't get turned on by you—”
“Thank goodness,” I replied.
“But,” he continued, “Every time I think about it, suddenly there's Lyle. And it hurt, Chris. It hurt every time. I...” he paused and sighed deeply. “I don't want to disappoint you. I know a healthy relationship includes physical love and I want to give that to you. I'm just...just go slow, okay?”
“Noel,” I said softly and reached out to cup his face. “I told you, I'm not asking that of you.”
“But..look, Chris, I won't break, okay? I told you that.” He pulled back slightly and grew agitated. “I know how it goes, Lyle was pretty clear about how the bigger guy does the fucking, okay? You're taller and have a few more muscles so...yeah, I accept that. I'm just asking that...you take it easy.”
“Noel,” I said firmly, and closed the distance between us. I took his hands in mine, mostly to keep him from backing away again, and pulled him closer to me. “I'm sick of Lyle being part of our relationship. That...rule, it's bullshit.”
Noel was already shaking his head. “I've seen it, even in porn. It's always the bigger guy topping the smaller one.”
“This is not porn. It's reality,” I state. “Whatever Lyle said about anything, you have to throw that out. This is not Noel and Lyle anymore—it's Chris and Noel. Believe me, I've thought about this moment for a long time. I've dreamed about it and now that it's finally here, I'm not letting that jackhole ruin our moment.”
Noel was back to looking uncertain, but he wasn't arguing or trying to pull back, so I took that as a good sign and pressed on.
“Look, babe. I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate Lyle Henderson. But like I told you the first time we hung out together, just us, the only thing he got right is how beautiful you are. I told you I won't apologize for being attracted to you.”
He shifted on his feet. “You're better looking.”
“You think I look good? You should see my boyfriend,” I teased and took a half step closer to him. “Because, babe, every time I jerk off I'm thinking of you, wishing you were with me. I think I understand how Lyle has ruined sex for you. I've thought about this a lot and I think I know what needs to happen for you to be comfortable so I planned for it.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked, truly mystified. I closed the distance between us again and slipped my hands from his and let my fingertips trace the skin on his sides all the way around until my hands met behind him and I pulled him, gently, toward me. Pressed together I kissed him and then leaned back so he could see my face.
“I want you to take my virginity, Noel.”
His mouth opened as if to respond, but then just stopped. His eyes flicked over my face, and he seemed unable to respond. I smiled at him and decided to press my advantage.
“I bought a toy online and I've been practicing with it.” I leaned in and lowered my voice, whispering into his ear. “Every time I use it, I pretend it's you. Even though I love your heart and your mind and your soul—I'm pretty wound up by your body, too.
“Make a man out of me, Noel.”
He backed up a step before hitting the nightstand. He shook his head and pulled his hands back from me. “I don't want to hurt you. Chris, it hurts!”
“Babe, babe,” I said soothingly and lifting my hands out flat before me. “I know you wouldn't hurt me, not intentionally. I know what I'm getting into—you're thicker than the toy I've been using, I know that. I know it'll be different with the real thing. But like you were just saying, we go slow.” I stepped in close again and touched his face. “Babe, I want this. I want you.”
He pulled his lips inward in a look of consternation. “You are offering because of my past. Not because you want to.”
This was going to take a little longer than I'd hoped, but I knew he'd be worth it—and it would be worth it for our relationship. For too long Lyle had been the third wheel in our lives and I was casting his ass out tonight. I backed off a step and sat on the bed, patting the space next to me. Noel sat, turned sideways to face me and I mirrored him. I took his hand and made sure his gaze was on my face before I spoke again.
“I want to try everything with you, Noel. I'm even willing to do kinky stuff because I trust you. From everything I've been able to find out, plenty of people are versatile. Do I want to top you? Duh. Do I want you to top me? Duh. The difference is, unlike you and Lyle, I want this from you. I'm actually pretty nervous, if you want the truth.”
“Because you know it hurts,” Noel said, pouncing. “If you've been practicing, you know. You're only doing this because—”
I reached out and placed a finger over his lips. “Please, babe, let me finish, okay?”
He looked slightly abashed and then nodded.
“I'm nervous because I'm a virgin and I'm asking my boyfriend to change that. I know it's going to be uncomfortable at first, but I also know that you know exactly what not to do. I know you'll take care of me because I trust you. I'm sick of Lyle deciding what we get to do, that much is true, but it's not because I'm frustrated or disappointed with you, like you said a minute ago. If Lyle had never happened and I asked you for this, you'd be more willing. Because he did everything so selfishly, you're trying to protect me—because you love me.
“It isn't difficult for me to not be frustrated or disappointed with you because I think you're amazing. But,” I said, ducking my head and smiling, “you're also right that I want to express my love and attraction to you physically. The way I want to do that is...I want you to take my virginity. I want to give myself to you. I only get to give this away once and I want it to be you.”
We were quiet for a few moments while Noel digested this. I continued to hold his hand and tried not to feel like there was tension so thick as to nearly be made physical. At last he lifted his gaze to mine.
“I can't shake the feeling that you're doing this because of Lyle. Because he fucked me up.”
“You're not fucked up,” I chided him. “I've been fantasizing about you doing me—I promise you, Noel, this isn't some kind of weird pity or something. This is because you're sexy and amazing and I want you in me. I mean it.”
He bit his lip and glanced away for a moment. “If I'm not ready? What then?”
“Then...you're not ready. At least you'll know where I stand.”
“You won't...be mad?”
I shook my head slowly. “My ego will take a hit.”
“Noel, babe!” I said, chuckling and shaking his hand. “I'm offering up my body to you, knowing I'm a clumsy virgin and I'm asking you to ravage me and you think saying no won't give me a complex?”
“I wouldn't...I mean...Chris!” he mumbled and slapped his free hand over his face. Lowering that offending hand he said, “If you're sure—”
“I am,” I said immediately. He lifted his gaze quickly, surprised at my firmness perhaps. Moments ticked by in silence and I waited, letting my gaze roam over his face and his upper body, lean from his sports but not built. Time passed and I waited, not moving closer and not putting pressure on him. I knew his considerate heart was weighing my words, wanting to believe me but being dragged down by Lyle and his bullshit.
Noel sighed heavily and then he moved toward me, tentatively.
I cuddled in close to his body, his naked heat soothing against my skin. My head rested on his chest and my hand lay splayed across his stomach. The steady rhythm of his breathing kept me in an odd state of torpor. It was new and exciting to have nothing between us in such a casual way; to not even feel cloth around his hips as I pressed my flaccid penis against him. He stirred, and then slowly moved under me, extricating himself, and sitting up on the edge of the bed. I watched him in the dim light as he stood and then bent to retrieve his underwear from the floor. It was erotic to watch the flesh of his butt slowly disappear under the waistband.
He padded across the room, my eyes tracking him, and put his head out into the hallway, glanced either way presumably for others who may be up and see him in his state of undress, and then he closed the door quietly. I glanced at the clock, noting it was closing in on one in the morning. I moved over just a few inches and took in his scent, still on his pillow and the warmth still present from where he'd lain. My sheets felt unfamiliar to me, given my lack of clothing, yet I was pleased. Perhaps it was something I would be given the chance to grow used to, especially with Noel to warm me.
Moments later the door handle tilted down and Noel crept back into the room. In the distance, before the door closed, the sound of the toilet tank filling confirmed my thought that he'd just had to make a run to the bathroom.
“Hey,” he said softly. “I'm sorry if I woke you.”
I shook my head slowly. “If you're going to come in my room like this every time, by all means, wake me.”
He smiled crookedly and crossed the room. He paused at the edge of the bed and I held a hand out to him, growling my frustration that he was out of reach. He had that uncertain look on his face again and I paused in, what I thought, were innocent actions to get him back in bed with me. I wasn't sure what the issue was, but Noel and I had an agreement to communicate and, so far, we'd stuck to it pretty well and always been well served by it. I had to admit to myself, having him so near and yet out of reach wasn't making me feel very charitable, however.
“What's wrong, babe?” I asked.
He glanced away, seemingly unable to meet my gaze and asked, “Are you okay?”
“I'm wonderful,” I replied and held my hand out to him again, wiggling my fingers in frustration.
He turned his head and his gaze roamed my face. “I mean it, Chris. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am. Honest.”
“It aches a little,” I admitted. “But I like it.”
“You like it?” he asked, his tone one of utter disbelief.
“Yeah. It's a reminder that my boyfriend is amazing in bed. It's a reminder that I lost my virginity to the right guy, a guy I love. I guess, too, it's sort of like having a sign on my ass that says 'Noel was here',” I said and chuckled.
He smiled at me uncertainly. “Are you—”
“Noel,” I said firmly. “I'm definitely fine, great even. I'm happy you were the guy and, yes, you definitely were amazing. Now, will you please take off that ridiculous pair of underwear and come back to bed?”
He glanced down at his underwear in confusion. “What's ridiculous about them?”
I rolled my eyes. “You can't wear them when you're in bed with me. They'll get in the way, of course.”
He smiled, something much closer to a genuine smile, and pushed them off his hips where they dropped, out of sight, to the floor. I pulled the covers back and said, “Now. Come amaze my brains out.”
“What?” he asked, laughing. I snuggled up to him, feeling my skin ignite as I molded my body to his.
I kissed him, pulling him on top of me and putting my hands behind his head. He returned my affections enthusiastically and soon we were both in quite a state. Breathlessly I told him to take me again. He stopped dead, placing his hands to either side of me and pushing himself up while bringing his gaze to mine.
I brought my hand up to his face, caressing his cheek and said, “I said I want you to make love to me again. Then, tomorrow, I want you to wake me up the same way.” I smiled slyly and continued, “Then, after everyone goes home and we're alone together, I want you to do me again. Amaze my brains out, Noel.”
“Amaze your...” he said, his voice trailing off as his length pressed against my leg, pulsing with the beat of his heart.
“It sounds so much nicer than fuck, don't you think?”
In the morning I was awoken by a knock at my door, followed by my mother poking her head in the open doorway.
“Breakfast, guys!” Then she was gone.
“Oh my God!” Noel groaned from beside me. We were tangled together, perfectly so, and I was frankly shocked we could sleep wrapped in each other's arms. Still, you won't find me complaining.
“What's the matter, babe?” I asked, my voice scratchy.
“Your mom just saw us in bed together, Chris! They probably think we had sex!”
I giggled. “We did! And it was amazing.”
“Chris!” he said, struggling to sit up but I stubbornly held fast to him. “Babe, don't you care that your parents—”
He stopped struggling and I dragged him back, bit by bit, under the covers where we could be completely pressed together once more.
“You don't care?”
“What if they don't want me to come back?”
I blew air out of my mouth and kissed his chest.
“Chris, isn't this serious?”
I pulled him closer, if that were possible, and kissed him. “That was serious,” I told him.
He dropped his head back on the pillow and just stared at me. I smiled and snuggled against his warm body, pushing my leg over his until my thigh grazed his balls. I ran my fingers over his stomach and decided I should probably not let my poor boyfriend twist in the wind too long.
“Noel, they knew when I asked if you could stay for the weekend.”
He started and then asked, “What?”
I nodded, idly rubbing my face against his chest as I did so. “My family has always been really open about our bodies and sex. When my brother lost his virginity, my parents just wanted to meet the person that my brother cared about enough to share his body with. For my sister it was the same thing. Sex isn't something to be ashamed of; it's supposed to bring us closer together.”
“So, you're saying your folks knew you planned to have sex...and they still said yes?”
I nodded, relishing the feel of his skin and his scent filling my senses. “Going to my birthday dinner let them know you're the one for me. My parents won't tell us not to have sex anymore or anything—at most, they'll remind us to respect each other and be safe.”
His arm slid around me and pulled me closer. “You always tell me you think I'm amazing, but you're the amazing one.”
“You can think that all you like, mister,” I replied, lifting my head and kissing him. “You're entitled to your opinion, no matter how wrong it may be.”
He brought his hand to my cheek, which I leaned into and he rubbed my cheek with his thumb. “Chris, because of my experience and because...well, I worry and...I guess, basically, because I'm neurotic...”
“You were amazing, babe,” I said, cutting him off. “I loved it and I want to do it more.”
He smiled, genuinely. “Yeah? I mean, you don't hurt?”
“Still aches. It's not going to stop me from getting some more loving from you.”
His face took on several emotions, each one shed quickly: relief, fear, anxiety but his smile ended up back in place.
“I love it when you really smile,” I told him.
“Like I have fake smiles or something?”
“No,” I replied. “You just don't smile very much. It's such a treat when you do, though. You go from cute to gorgeous in a heartbeat.”
“Liar,” he said, chuckling.
“You can downplay it all you want, Noel. And, actually, I'm glad you're not all full of yourself and I think that you could be. Hell, guys who don't have your looks sure are.” I put my head back on his chest and stroked his stomach as I continued. “That's just the outside, though. Knowing what happened to you, the real you is the one that wants to make sure I'm okay. That's who I fell in love with.”
“I'm...a little speechless.”
“That's okay,” I said softly. “You don't have to say anything. I'm happy just being with you.”
I continued to let my hands caress his skin and he pulled me snugly against him. It took very little time for us to become obviously aroused, but neither felt the need to act on it. There was a delicious tension, completely unlike the one we'd endured the night before. This was pregnant with desire that didn't need to be said aloud, love that warmed us both and lust that was slowly making his hip slick from my wet erection.
There was another knock and a reminder about breakfast. I called out that we'd be out in a few minutes, but the knock had been a pin in the balloon of desire in the room. Reluctantly I let Noel get up and we pulled on shorts and tee shirts. After a pit stop to the bathroom, we appeared at the breakfast table. Dad had cooked, and the table was covered with waffles with bacon inside them, eggs and toast as well as jam and butter. We greeted everyone and took seats, and I handed Noel a plate. We dug in and joined the general chatter around the table.
Noel seemed a bit rigid at first, but when there were no comments about him splitting me in half, he seemed to realize that our having had sex wasn't going to be a big deal or a specific topic of conversation. I mean, I'd told him that but I guess you just have to experience some things yourself.
Noel went to shower and that's when Mallory sidled up to me and said, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “I'm surprised to see you both sitting this morning, Chris.”
I lifted an eyebrow at her and shrugged. “My boyfriend knows what he's doing.”
“You guys were quiet,” my mother said. “Remember Rob's first time?”
Mallory laughed. “Chris, if you ever wondered why your headboard is attached to the wall, Rob is why.”
There was a round of laughter and, once that had stopped, my father asked, “He's a great guy, Chris. He's been around for a while and he always seems respectful and loving toward you. It looks like you made a wise choice.”
“Totally amazing, Dad,” I replied. “Best thing that ever happened to me.”
Mallory leaned back in her chair with a thoughtful look. “You did go all the way, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, sipping my orange juice. “Why?”
“Well, I'm just curious is all. I always heard that guys couldn't sit down after that.”
“Like I said, he knows what he's doing,” I replied. I wasn't going to tell her about that sweet ache—there's open and then there's just blabbing your business!
After breakfast I showered as well, and it was already nearly noon by then. Noel and I had a great deal of fun baking two sheet cakes for the people coming that night. We made a big mess and had to start again after Leigh got there and reminded me one of the guys was on some gluten free diet thing, so we made cupcakes for him from a special mix. We set up a table with snacks and drinks and had a good time with everyone. As I knew would happen, someone brought a gift which I thanked them for, but it always makes folks awkward. At one point Corby—whom I'd grown very close to—pulled me aside.
“What is up with Noel?” he asked, a knowing smile playing about his lips.
“What do you mean?”
“He's a different guy,” he replied, shaking his head. “Look at him smile and talk to everyone. He's like a new person. What, did he actually get laid or something?”
I smiled but didn't reply. Corbin turned to look at me when I didn't speak and my face must have given it away.
“No way! Dude!” I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face as Corby punched my arm lightly. “That's great! Congrats, bud.”
“Thanks,” I said, nodding and still smiling widely. “It's good for both of us, but now that you mention it...he does seem different, doesn't he?”
“He's reborn,” Corby declared softly, snickering as he did. “I've never seen him so animated. You must be great in bed, Licardi!”
“Hmm,” I demurred. “I have a great partner.”
He chuckled and the moment was over, but I continued to note Noel's more relaxed and confident attitude throughout the evening. I wondered if having an experience that redefined what sex meant to you, if it had, could cleanse bad memories? It certainly seemed like something major had changed for Noel, at least right now. He might regress in the face of Jerry or, God forbid, if Lyle ever makes contact with him again. But I couldn't help feeling that that part of Noel's soul had been healed by our lovemaking, that some tear in his psyche that revealed fear and pain had been mended. Time would tell how solid that mending was, but I hoped that staying steady and giving him the love as he could handle it would finish making him whole.
That might sound silly to some people, that a night of good—amazing—sex could have such a profound effect. But Noel didn't have a broken ability to love, to laugh or to play sports. He didn't have a hearing loss or a physical defect. Someone had made him feel that the only thing about him worth having was his ass. For a time, I think he believed it. I was undeniably pleased that he was mending and relieved that my desire for physical love hadn't made things worse. I was sure, though, that this wasn't a magical cure, despite the evidence in front of me.
Next time, he may still hesitate. Monday he may wonder if it was all real, if he can place his trust in it after so thoroughly having his confidence destroyed. The thought is depressing, but when it comes to people and our feelings, things are messy. He was okay right now, and it was a joy to watch. I feel ready to do the work to bring him to this place over and over until he really does understand that he's worth it.
People did finally drift home, except for Leigh, and we cleaned up the mess and put away the leftover cake. We chatted away as we did so, working together effortlessly, and Noel happened on a tube of chocolate chip cookie mix in the fridge. Noting it, he mentioned that his favorite cookies were oatmeal raisin and, before you knew it, we decided to make a batch together.
We made as much of a mess as we had with the cakes, but it was so much fun. Leigh was covered in bits of oatmeal and flour. He was taking pictures of us and posting them to his Instagram, and his friends were making comments. It was all just perfect.
“Hey, Noel, birthday parties must be your thing, huh?” Leigh asked.
“What do you mean?” Noel asked around the cookie he was stuffing into his mouth.
“Everyone could see it—you were like a new man, tonight. Talking, joking; I liked it!”
Noel glanced at me with his eyes wide in question. I nodded knowingly and smiled.
I knew as soon as I could politely get Leigh to go home, we'd be going to bed. I have no doubt that Noel will not mind one bit, either. It won't matter if we have sex because what everyone, including me, can see is that the guy who went to bed with me the night before wasn't here anymore. Oh, yes, the same heart and soul was there, but he'd dropped that third person that had been hanging around his neck and haunting our relationship like a specter. Tonight, there would be a far purer version of us in my bed and no matter what happens...it will be amazing.