Technicolor Daze

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eighteen.

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Noah hadn’t sent him any more messages.

Theo stared blankly at the screen of his phone, waiting for the desired message, telling him he could see his inamorato. He received a couple of messages on Grindr of guys hitting him up, wanting to engage in some recreational carnal activities, only to be completely ignored by the grey-eyed man. He sometimes wondered if he should uninstall the app and delete his account, but he still hadn’t gotten around to doing it. Even though he was still on the app, there was only one man on his mind. A man who had been the protagonist of his every fantasy ever since he had first laid eyes upon him, who made him afraid of how strongly he felt towards another person.

“Earth to Theo?” Alice waved her hand in front of Theo’s face, blocking his view of the phone. He had been so immersed in his thoughts that he hadn’t noticed that his friend, who had just joined him on the balcony, was talking to him. His forgotten and abandoned cigarette had been reduced to a long cylinder of ash carefully balanced on the small indentation of the ashtray.

“What’s up?” Theo looked up at his flatmate, all dolled up and ready for a night out. Jamie stepped out of Alice’s room, looking at her phone, probably texting her friends, before joining them on the balcony. Theo recalled that Alice had mentioned an outing with Jamie’s friends, but unbeknownst to his housemate, his mind had drifted away to linger on thoughts of a pair of bewitching hazelnut eyes and a knowing mischievous smile.

“We’re heading to Cubic in a bit. We’re going out with some of Jamie’s friends. Ivy and Yoyo will meet us there. Wanna join us?” Jamie pocketed her phone and wrapped her arms around the petite American brunette, nestling her chin on Alice’s shoulder. Theo noticed that Jamie was wearing a small black dress and Alice was wearing a small white dress. Yin and Yang, Theo smirked, amused by that train of thought.

“Yeah, come with us!” Jamie urged before kissing Alice on the cheek. They had both already been pre-drinking a bit and were gleefully tipsy.

“Nah, I’ll pass, but have fun,” Theo said before stealing another glance at the silence emanating from his cellular device.

“He’s whipped,” Alice teased, using her hands to gesture the act of cracking a whip, “I bet you he isn’t even listening to us right now.”

“I am,” Theo deadpanned, not even glancing away from his smartphone, even though all he could see whenever he glanced back at his device was radio silence.

And he kept on stealing glances at it throughout the night, even as Alice and Jamie left the apartment. Even as the night progressively grew darker and quieter as the neighborhood slowly succumbed to the surreal world of dreams. And yet, hope is always the last to die, so Theo remained expectant.

The universe still had time to grant his wish.

Time slowly dragged on. Minutes turned into hours, as Theo lay on his bed, scrolling through his phone, plugged into the charger, looking at his social media, watching a couple of videos, finding different sources of entertainment to keep him awake. His eyelids kept involuntarily fluttering shut out of drowsiness. He glanced at the time.

It was already 3 am.

As he looked out his window, he noticed that most of the other residents had their lights turned off. The whole neighborhood was immersed in peaceful slumber except for a small constellation of fellow night owls thriving in the nyctophiliac serenity, their windows twinkling in the sea of urban darkness like stars in the night sky. It was such a lovely sight to behold. He decided to go out on the balcony to look at it and smoke a cigarette.

If he doesn’t message me by the time I finish my cigarette, I’ll go to sleep, Theo thought to himself.

He stepped out onto the balcony, wearing nothing but his boxers, feeling the night breeze against his bare chest. The smoke soon left his parted lips, enveloping his body, as anxious thoughts infiltrated his mind. Had he done something wrong? Why was Noah distancing himself from him? Was he just hyperbolizing the whole situation? These thoughts were consuming him, the remaining hope that lingered in his spirit slowly dissipating along with the smoke.

He tried to grasp onto the last tokes of his cigarette, hoping that they would last just enough time for Noah to send him a message. However, as soon as the cigarette was extinguished and lay amid the ash that had accumulated in the ashtray, Theo accepted that there was no point in waiting up any longer. Noah was probably still at work or maybe his battery had run out. As he stepped out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth, Theo kept making excuses for Noah’s silence in his mind so that he could keep his concerns at bay.

He placed his phone on the bedside table and plugged it into his charge before closing the curtains in his room. He was about to get into his bed when his phone started buzzing on his bedside table. He glanced at the screen to see who was calling him at that time.

“Noah”, it read on the caller ID.

Theo didn’t even hesitate. His hand darted towards the phone, his swift movement likening that of a cheetah running to its prey. He swiped right to answer and put the phone against his ear in record time, “Noah?”

“Theo?” Noah’s voice sounded hoarse and cracked. He also sounded like he was sniffling a bit as if he had been crying, “Did I wake you?”

“No, I’m still up... Is something wrong?” Theo couldn’t hide the concern in his voice. He knew something bad had happened because he’d never heard Noah crying before.

“I’m at the garden where they have that... that festival... Lusofonia festival, I think... I forgot the name...” His voice was slightly shaky and slurry as he rambled into the phone, his accent coming off a bit stronger than usual.

“The Carmo Garden?” Theo asked. Suddenly feeling alert, he grabbed the first t-shirt and pair of pants he saw and put them on, wanting nothing more than to go to his hurting lover and ease his pain.

“Can you meet me here?” Theo’s heart ached at the sound of Noah’s voice sounding so broken, so vulnerable, as he bitterly chuckled, “I would head there, but I’m a bit drunk and I got lost.”

“I’ll be there in, like, ten minutes. Where exactly are you at the Carmo Garden?” Theo put his phone on loudspeaker so that he could put his pants and t-shirt on.

“I think this is the area where they usually have the stage, not sure what it’s called.”

“Just stay there, I’ll be there soon, okay?” Theo grabbed his keys and put on his flip flops before leaving his apartment, being careful to lock it before calling the elevator.

“Okay, I’ll see you in a bit,” Noah said before hanging up.

The elevator was taking forever and Theo didn’t want to wait any longer to see Noah. He tapped his foot and kept clicking on the button to call the elevator as he watched the numbers of the elevator go up until they reached his floor. He was fully aware that doing so wouldn’t make the elevator appear faster, but all he could think about was getting to the Carmo Garden as fast as he could. As soon as the elevator arrived and the doors opened, Theo stepped into the elevator car and pressed the ground floor button before impatiently clicking several times on the button to close the doors. Come on, he thought, willing the doors to close faster. Once the doors had finally closed, Theo’s thoughts were engulfed by a medley of questions. What had happened to Noah? Why had he been crying? Why hadn’t he told Theo he was dropping by before coming to Taipa?

When he arrived at the ground floor, he sprinted out the elevator doors and dashed to the Carmo Garden, his mind fully fixated on getting to the amphitheater as fast as he could. There weren’t a lot of cars circulating at that bewitching hour, so Theo didn’t have to worry about the oncoming traffic as he jaywalked across the streets of Taipa. As he went up the small cobblestone street that led to the Carmo Garden, he was running out of breath, so he slowed his pace to catch his breath, jogging instead at a more leisurely pace.

Soon enough he could see the amphitheater. His eyes were straining themselves, trying to catch sight of the young man his whole being desired. It almost scared him how much his whole body and mind connected with the endearing brunette in such a short amount of time. It was only a matter of time before his soul followed in their steps and surrendered.

After taking a couple of steps forwards, his eyes landed upon a lone man sitting in the center of the amphitheater area - a single island in a lake of vacant seats. Theo noticed that Noah was holding on to a can of beer and had five other cans beside him. He climbed down the steps and sat next to Noah, who hadn’t noticed Theo’s arrival until the man had sat down beside him.

“You came,” Noah gave Theo a plastered smile. His hazelnut eyes were puffy and tinged with pink and red.

“Of course, I told you I’d stay up late to meet you after work if you were free,” Theo was kind of beating around the bush. He wanted to know why the man had been drinking a whole six-pack of beers, why he had been crying, why he was in Taipa at 3 am without any prior warning...

Before he could formulate any of his questions into spoken language, Noah asked a question he was not expecting, his voice sounding so small and frail, his eyes drifting away from Theo’s to look at the empty stage, “Why did you come all the way here to meet me this late at night? I’ve been an asshole all day...”

“I wanted to see you,” gazed at Noah’s side profile. His hair was messier than usual and his trademark mischievous smile was not present on his face. This was an entirely new layer of Noah’s that he was witnessing.

“But why me?” Noah’s voice was a bit coarse and shaky, hinting at a bit of disbelief on the brunette’s part that someone would dash all the way there for someone like him, “Why do you even want to spend time with me?”

A Portuguese Jesuit priest once said about the Japanese that they were crafty in their hearts, making them difficult to understand. He claimed that the people of Japan had three hearts. The first one in the mouth, the words they wanted society to hear. The second one in their breast, displayed only to those who were close to them, those whose souls were entwined with theirs. The final one in the depths of their heart - the raw and unfiltered version of each person that was hidden away from everyone, forever a mystery to every other individual.

Theo was getting a bite-size glimpse of Noah’s third heart.

He pondered carefully on how to answer that question, trying to find the right words to express his reasons for something purely based on emotions. Why did his pulse increase whenever he talked to the mysterious brunette dancer? Why was his mind consumed by thoughts and images of Noah?

“Well, not gonna lie, when I first saw you, I felt this spark... And now, saying that out loud, it sounds a bit weird,” Theo awkwardly smiled at the realization as he rubbed his neck, “It kind of caught off guard that night... Which is why I was kind of tongue-tied when you hit on me at D2 that first night.”

“I thought it was just lust at first, ’cause you’re pretty hot,” Noah chuckled shyly at the compliment, “But after talking to you when we went walking around the city at night and you showed me a different side of this city and told me about your dreams and ambitions that I realized that I wanted to get to know more about you. I feel at ease around you even though we haven’t known each other for very long,” Theo gave Noah a meaningful glance and a small smile. He wanted to say more, but he was afraid he could be rushing things. Noah’s eyes shone ever so slightly, as he smiled softly at Theo, his shoulders relaxing a little bit after hearing Theo’s words.

“You’re also pretty hot,” Noah admitted with his trademark mischievous grin, earning a snort from Theo, before his expression softened a bit and he gave the other man a sincere smile, “I feel at ease around you too.”

Noah looked away and finished what was left of his beer. The sixth can was placed next to the other ones littered on top of the step in front of them. There was a brief lull in the conversation before the young brunette fished out his packet of cigarettes and asked Theo, “Want one?”

Theo nodded and accepted the cigarette Noah handed him. They lit the Winston Blue tobacco encased cylinders and looked at the glimmering lights of the Cotai Strip. When looking at the opulent and grandiose hotels, it almost felt like you were on the Vegas strip. It was such a stark contrast to the old village part of Taipa, with its uncanny colonial heritage, dotted with small pastel-colored houses and painted with narrow cobblestone streets. The old charming town against the backdrop of the modern colossal gambling and hospitality structures.

Looking back at the man beside him slowly exhaling smoke into the air, a pensive look on his face, Theo’s mind was filled with questions. He wanted to know what had happened to Noah. It pained him to see the other man in pain.

“What happened tonight?” Theo asked, his voice soft and void of judgment.

Noah glanced at Theo as he took a puff, a cacophony of emotions flickered through his eyes, wanting to spew out and reach out to Theo, but being kept under control by the mysterious dancer. He looked down at the floor, nervously biting at his lip, before closing his eyes.

Noah blew a little whisper into the wind.

“I’m afraid to tell you.”

The soft sounds of psithurism tried to blow away the anguish in the words Noah had muttered. The gentle breeze in the trees and the rustling of the leaves filled the silence that had fallen between the pair of almost lovers.

“If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen. I won’t judge,” Theo looked at Noah’s side profile, concern emanating from his gentle grey orbs. The brunette kept his eyes on the empty stage in front of them, tapping his foot on the step nervously.

Hesitant and stormy eyes finally landed on the clear and protective ones - a peaceful shelter in the eye of the typhoon. Theo wanted nothing more than to ease the tempest within the other man.

“Fuck! I didn’t want you to see me like this... But I wanted to see you,” Noah’s words warmed Theo’s heart.

“I’m afraid if I tell you, you’ll no longer want to see me,” the dancer admitted. Theo knew that Noah wasn’t holding back as much as he usually did because of all the beer he had consumed, giving Theo a peek at the darkness that lurked within him, secretly eating away at him, “I’m afraid you’ll see the real me and decide you don’t like it.”

Theo put his hand on top of Noah’s reassuringly. He had meant his words - he was there for the other man and he wouldn’t judge. Noah looked away from the perplexed man sitting beside him, taking a deep breath before uttering in a broken voice, “I made a huge mistake a couple of months ago when I went out with some friends and it keeps coming back to bite me in the ass and I don’t really know how to make it stop.”

“Does it have anything to do with why you’re here at 3 am?” Theo hesitantly asked, his voice soft and kind. Noah nodded but didn’t say anything.

“Do you want to talk about it? Maybe I could help...” Noah’s arms tensed up as soon as he heard Theo’s question.

“I can’t... I can’t tell you any more than that now... It’s too hard. You’re the first person I’ve told about this... I ditched my friends that night, so they don’t know what happened...” Noah quietly admitted, leaving Theo dumbfounded, before groaning ”Scheiße! I don’t even know how to talk about this...”

Noah had trusted Theo with what was going on in his mind. A flash of hope ignited within Theo. His feelings could potentially be mutual. It was, however, a bittersweet feeling, as he couldn’t help but feel the pain in Noah’s words. He offered a shoulder for his lover to lean on, “You don’t have to tell me what it is if you aren’t ready... But, if you ever need someone when it comes back to bite you, I’m here if you need me, okay?”

Noah gave Theo a brief thankful smile before glancing away again. A light mist still enshrouded the earthy hues of his eyes, as he fought hard to keep his demons at bay.

“I’ll tell you one day, I promise. I don’t want to talk about it anymore today. I just want to forget it for a moment,” Noah leaned his body to the side, nestling his head on Theo’s shoulder. A bitter chuckle escaped his slightly parted lips, “I’m such a mess.”

“Hey,” Noah looked up to meet Theo’s eyes, “nobody is perfect. We all fuck up, no point beating yourself up.”

Noah looked away again, glancing once again at the stage before bluntly asking, “Am I a coward for not wanting to talk about it?”

“I don’t think so,” Theo shook his head, “It’s normal to be afraid at times. I’m sometimes afraid of telling my housemate some things, ’cause she just sasses me off,” Theo added to lighten the mood, earning a chuckle from the man leaning on his shoulder.

“Really? What are you afraid of telling her?” Noah asked, a mischievous grin slowly appearing on his face.

“Well, let’s just say I fucked up a bit in the last couple of years. Remember how I mentioned my asshole moments not too long ago?” Noah thought back for a second not seeming to recall in his drunken state, “Anyway, I’ve had some one night stands that I regretted and led some people on... And, like, I knew I was making stupid decisions, but I felt like doing reckless things to punish myself.”

“After some years of therapy, I stopped having many of those impulsive moments, but the last one I had was pretty bad,” Theo said as he leaned his head on Noah’s.

“What did you do?” Noah curiously asked.

“I basically hooked up with a guy who I knew had feelings for me, but I was drunk and frustrated that I couldn’t come... So, I stopped and told him to finish off on his own,” Theo admitted, feeling ashamed about his actions but also felt lighter after sharing it with the dancer.

"Boah, krass! That was pretty shitty,” Noah’s words were harsh, but his eyes were not condemning the man sitting beside him.

“Not my finest moment. Not really sure why I shared that with you. Now you probably think I’m an asshole,” the thought hadn’t occurred to Theo as he shared his story, but the longer he went over what he had just revealed to the man who had captivated his heart, the more he started worrying that he had scared his lover off.

“It’s like you said - we all fuck up,” Noah lifted his head and gave Theo a reassuring smile, almost as if letting Theo know that he wasn’t running away, that he was staying beside him.

The two men sat beside one another as the sound of the breeze rustling in the leaves once again filled the silence, each man with an array of thoughts running through his mind.

Noah fished out another cigarette and offered one to Theo, who accepted it. As Noah lit up his, Theo noticed a couple of bruises on Noah’s neck. A concerned question was at the tip of his tongue but he held back to respect Noah’s wishes.

“So, how was your day today?” Noah asked Theo before exhaling some smoke.

“It was pretty normal. Just worked, texted you, had dinner at home, and watched a couple of videos. My housemate asked me if I wanted to go out at night, but I didn’t feel like it,” and he was kind of hoping that Noah would message him, but he kept that part to himself.

Noah smiled as he gazed longingly at Theo, his shoulders looking more relaxed.

“What?” Theo asked.

“It’s nothing. It’s just that I didn’t get to text you much during the day, so I’m doing it now,” Theo smiled as he read between the lines.

Noah asked Theo what his job was like if any of his colleagues flirted with him, and what kind of videos he enjoyed, listening intently to the other man’s answers, almost as if being lulled by Theo’s answers. Theo sensed that Noah wasn’t too keen on talking much about himself that evening, wanting instead a distraction from his dark thoughts.

Soon, half an hour had elapsed and Theo was feeling sleepy. He checked his phone and saw that it was almost 4 am.

“Want to head over to my place? It’s getting pretty late,” Theo suggested.

“Sure. Can you help me up?” Noah asked as Theo stood up. Theo then gathered all of the empty beer cans and disposed of them in a nearby trash can.

The walk home was pretty quiet as Theo was feeling quite sleepy and Noah was lost in thought and completely spent after having cried a lot that night. After arriving at Theo’s empty apartment, both men took their shoes off and went straight to the bedroom, forgoing a quick trip to the bathroom in favor of stripping their clothes down to their underwear and collapsing on top of the bed.

Just before Theo drifted off, he felt two arms wrapping around his waist, clinging tightly onto his body.

A couple of hours later, Theo had to get up to use the bathroom. He could see the light shining through the small gap between the curtains. It was already morning, but he had gone to bed very late, so he still wanted to sleep some more. As he looked to his side, he noticed the space next to him was empty. He checked his phone and saw that it was almost 8 am. Where’s Noah? He thought.

He reluctantly got up and walked half-asleep to the bathroom to do his business. Before returning to bed, he looked at the balcony and noticed that Noah was standing there smoking a cigarette, gazing at the view with a pensive look on his face.

Theo stepped out onto the balcony and leaned on the doorframe, looking at the man he was quickly growing attached to, only wearing his briefs.

“Morning,” Noah turned around to face Theo after noticing his presence on the balcony, “Have you been up for a while?”

“Morning,” he exhaled some smoke into the air, “I got up like an hour ago to use the bathroom... maybe more than an hour, not sure. Couldn’t fall back asleep after that, so I came to the balcony to watch the sunrise.”

As much as he tried, Noah couldn’t fully hide the pained look in his eyes from Theo. He could easily pretend around other people, but Theo saw right through him.

Theo wanted to know what had happened, and why Noah was in Taipa alone at 3 am, but with one glance at the other man’s eyes, he decided he’d wait for Noah to feel ready to talk about it. Instead, he said, “Well, we’re both up now. What do you say we go have yum cha for breakfast and have a walk?”

“Well, I have to be at the bookshop around 11 am, so we don’t have much time,” Noah extinguished his cigarette before giving Theo a small smile, putting his defenses back up, “Have you ever been to Lung Wah?”

“Lung Wah? I don’t think so... Where’s that?” Theo stepped back inside, followed by Noah.

“It’s a really cool yum cha place near the Red Market. My flatmate took me there and even though it is a bit pricier than some other places, it has a cool old-school vibe,” Noah said as they headed to Theo’s room.

“Sure, we still have three hours which should be enough time to go there, have yum cha, and then walk to the bookshop,” Theo calculated in his head. He also grabbed a towel, a t-shirt, and a pair of pants and handed them to Noah, as the clothes he had worn the previous night reeked of beer and tobacco, “You can take a shower if you’d like and you can put these on. I think I also have a spare toothbrush in the bathroom.”

Theo went into the bathroom, found the toothbrush, and handed it to Noah who took a quick shower first. Theo soon followed. Once both of the men had showered, brushed their teeth, and gotten dressed, they left the apartment and hopped on a bus to go to the other side of the bridge.

It was a quarter past nine when they arrived at the yum cha restaurant Noah had suggested. If Theo didn’t know about the old tea house, he would’ve never guessed there was one by the entrance of the place. He followed Noah up a flight of stairs and took in his surroundings after arriving at the restaurant. The boss of the establishment greeted the two men with a cheerful good morning, ”Zou san!”

It was an old fashioned tea house adorned with beautiful wooden bird cages by big airy windows, allowing for a pleasant breeze inside the restaurant. The windows were framed by intricately written Chinese calligraphy banners, and the pastel yellow and green decor, the mosaic tile on the floor as well as the Mao Tse Tung poster displayed on its wall made Theo feel like he was stepping back in time as if a time machine had taken him all the way back to the 1960s.

“Woah, this place is really cool!” Theo said to a smiling Noah.

“I know, right? Wanna sit over there by the window?” Theo nodded and followed after Noah.

Noah chose one of the wooden four-seat booths next to the window and the two men ordered a pot of oolong tea. After the waiter brought over the tea, they got up to get some bamboo steamers from the trolley by the staircase, where a small assortment of dim sum dishes was laid out in bamboo steamer baskets on top of one another. They grabbed some har gao, chicken feet, steamed pork ribs, steamed char siu bao, and siumai - all perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch.

Theo poured a cup of tea for Noah before pouring one for himself and tried some of the har gao, instantly moaning at the delicious taste. “Oh, this is good,” Theo spoke with his mouth full.

“Glad you like it. It isn’t the cheapest yum cha place, but I really like this place,” Noah tried one of the chicken feet, “Oh, I love chicken feet. My friends at the Gymnasium in Heidelberg found it a bit strange.”

“Yeah, my grandparents aren’t big fans of chicken feet either. I don’t think they are that common in America and Europe. I’m used to it though,” Theo tried one of the chicken feet as well, “Oh, these are good!”

“Try the steamed pork ribs! They’re also really good,” Noah grabbed one of the ribs and bit into it, his eyes closing as he savored the taste. Theo tried one and agreed with Noah’s assessment.

“This is more of a home-cooked style dim sum. Very different from the stuff I usually have,” Theo commented, “Did you miss this kind of food when you were in Germany?”

“When I lived in Heidelberg, yeah. You could find Chinese food, but it wasn’t really the same. In Berlin, I found a couple of good places. It is a much more international city, especially in comparison to Heidelberg,” Noah took a sip of his tea.

“I’d love to visit Germany. I think my dad has some German heritage, but I’m not sure,” Theo said before trying out some of the char siu bao, his favorite dim sum dish as a child. It wasn’t the best one he’d had, but it was still pretty tasty.

“You do have this kind of Germanic Nordic look to you with your light brown hair and blue eyes,” Noah smiled, “The only German thing I have from my dad is my height. My dad is about the same height as me.”

“Yeah, we’re almost the same height. You do have some slightly German features to you though. You don’t look one hundred percent Asian,” Theo noted.

“Yeah, I’ve been told. When I was a baby, my hair used to be light brown and my eyes were kind of hazel, according to my mom, but they got darker as I grew up.”

“Really? Do you have photos of that?” Theo was suddenly curious to see what Noah looked like when he was younger. He wanted to know more about the enigmatic man sitting in front of him.

“My mom definitely has a bunch of photos. I mean, she’s a professional photographer, so you can imagine the number of photos she took of me when I was younger... ”

“Oh yeah! I bet! Were you camera shy as a teenager?” Theo had hated it when his parents took photos of him when he was in his early teen years. He didn’t look back at those years with fondness, having had to deal with acne and a belated growth spurt.

“I loved being photographed by my mom. Whenever she clicks the shutter on her camera, she creates magic. But everyone else... It’s like I almost looked like two different people in photographs taken by my mom and other people...” Noah shook his head as he grinned at the memory.

“Puberty years were not kind to me, so I avoided cameras, but my parents loved to document my embarrassment and also got me in the worst angles. Luckily, they didn’t have social media back then, so there aren’t many photos online of those dark times,” Theo admitted.

“I’m sure they weren’t as bad as you think. I’m sure you looked cute,” Noah gave Theo a mischievous smirk, “I for one would love to see them.”

“I’ll make sure to hide them very well,” Theo leaned back, roguishly smiling back at the apple of his eye.

“Aww, you spoilsport,” Noah playfully pouted.

The two men carried on eating the contents of the bamboo steamer baskets, talking about anything but the events that had taken place the night before, occasionally teasing each other, before Noah got up to get two more baskets, one containing a spongy sort of cake and one with meatballs. After finishing all of the items they had grabbed, they felt stuffed to the brim and decided to get up and pay at the counter where the boss was. He asked the two men how many baskets they had eaten and calculated the price on an abacus - a somewhat rare sight in the modern technologically dependent society. The boss gave them a couple of postcards, after Theo paid for their meal, insisting it was his treat. They thanked the kind old tea house owner and headed out of the restaurant.

“Wanna go for a short walk at Lou Lim Ioc before you go to work? We still have some time...” Theo suggested when they were back on the street.

“What time is it?” Noah asked, fishing his phone out to look at the digital clock on his lock screen. He smiled at Theo, “Oh, it’s only ten. We have an hour, so we can go to Lou Lim Ioc for a bit.”

They walked side by side all the way to the traditional Chinese garden in the heart of the residential and commercial area. A small refuge from the hustle and bustle pace of the city.

The twelve-minute walk flew by in an instant, as both men were fully immersed in their conversation on the ending of Breaking Bad. They found out that they liked the same show when they saw a Chinese guy wearing a T-shirt with a picture of half of Walter White’s face next to a poorly spelled out quote from the TV show. It read:

“I AM NDJ

DO TANGE

I AM THE DANGRRJ

A GUY OF ENS HI

DOOR AND

GETS SHOT

AND YOU

THIMK THAT

OF ME?

NO. I AM

THE ONE

WHO

KMODNIS”

Both men were reduced to tears.

After recovering from the laughter attack and discussing the ending, they decided to talk about some more other episodes they really enjoyed. It didn’t take long before they stood at the entrance of the garden.

“Shall we?” Theo asked.

"Los geht’s," Noah answered with a grin on his face.

“Is that ‘let’s go’ in German?” Theo asked as they walked into the garden.

“Yeah, I sometimes can’t help but slip into German or Thai,” he gave Theo an apologetic smile.

Theo approached the brunette man and whispered in his ear, “I think it’s sexy when you speak in German or Thai,” he relished the way Noah reacted to him before putting an angelic expression on his face, pretending he hadn’t just turned his lover on inside of a peaceful public garden.

Noah met Theo’s eyes in a challenging gaze, “Is that how we’re playing? Well, in that case,” Noah grabbed onto Theo’s wrist and dragged him into one of the caves right beside him, catching him completely off guard before crashing their lips together.

He was dominant, grinding his crotch into Theo’s, making the other man moan into his mouth. And then he released Theo and smirked at him, “That was also really hot.”

Theo felt so incredibly turned on. He enjoyed relinquishing control and letting Noah dominate. He wondered what it would be like to bottom with the mischievous brunette...

When they heard some voices approaching and saw some elderly Chinese women walking along the trail of the garden, both men tried to contain their giggles, finding it amusing how they always appear to be caught in compromising situations by older Chinese aunties.

After walking around for fifteen minutes, they decided it was time to head to the city center where the bookshop was located. As they made their way through Tap Seac, Theo noticed Noah’s mood was lighter and his demeanor more relaxed.

Maybe Noah wasn’t ready to tell Theo what had happened the previous day, but at least Theo managed to make his day a little bit better.

Conversation flowed naturally between the two men as they walked past shops, the Portuguese Consulate, and some street food stalls, before arriving at the entrance of the bookshop.

“Thank you for walking all the way here with me and... well...” Noah looked away, rubbing slightly at the back of his neck as if conflicted about finishing his sentence, “thank you for picking me up last night and for today. I mean it.”

“No need to thank me. I’m here for you. I also mean it,” Theo gave Noah a sincere grin, “By the way, are you free for dinner?”

Noah didn’t even hesitate as he answered, “Yes.”

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