Technicolor Daze

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twenty-one.

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Warmth. That was the first thing Theo felt when his eyes first opened the next day. There was an arm wrapped around his torso and he could feel Noah’s smooth chest pressing against his back. This feels nice, Theo thought. He’d forgotten what being intimate with someone was like. Theo and Noah had often slept together, but this had been the first time he’d woken up with Noah cuddling up against him.

He turned his body around, trying to be gentle so as to not wake his lover up. The light coming in through the cracks in the curtains was enough for Theo to be able to relish in the sight of Noah sleeping. His lips were parted ever so slightly and his expression was serene - almost more youthful when in that relaxed state. Theo sometimes forgot about how Noah was four years younger than him because whenever they talked he sensed a lot of maturity from Noah. His eyes also held a lot of stories.

As he studied the younger man deep in slumber beside him, he felt this intense desire to protect that beautiful man from the pain and hurt he’d experienced. He wanted to care for Noah and stick by him through thick and thin. It was a strange realization for Theo, as he’d never felt that way about anyone before.

In the darkness, Noah’s hair looked jet black, but sometimes when the light hit it, it turned into a smooth melted chocolate color that warmed Theo’s heart and invited him to run his fingers through those silky locks.

His fingers gently grazed against Noah’s hair and he felt Noah’s body leaning closer to him.

So precious, Theo thought.

Suddenly, Theo heard a loud clatter coming from the kitchen, causing Noah to stir a bit before opening open his eyes. When he noticed Theo’s face looking at him with a gentle smile, he sleepily grinned back at the other man.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Theo teased Noah who was yawning.

"Morgen. Have you been up long?” Noah’s eyes fluttered shut and his voice was raspy with sleep.

“Not really. I woke up a couple of minutes ago,” Theo couldn’t help but feel smitten when he noticed that Noah was still cuddled up against him, even though he was already awake.

“What time is it?” Noah asked, looking once again at Theo, who stretched his arm out to the side to grab his phone.

“It’s,” he clicked on the home button, “12:15.”

“Oh wow, we definitely slept in,” Theo chuckled at Noah’s remark, “by the way, I really enjoyed last night.”

Theo smiled, “Me too.”

He then noticed the remnants of the sticky mess he had created on his chest and on his sheets the previous night. With a chuckle, he said, “Guess I’ll have to change the sheets.”

“I can help you with that later. I’m partly to blame for the mess as well,” Noah gave Theo a sleepy mischievous smirk.

“Yes, you are. I was completely spent after that so I fell asleep right after you.”

“Oh yeah, sorry about that. Sex was amazing but it left me in such a relaxed state that I ended up falling asleep,” Noah stretched his arms up, slowly looking more awake.

“It’s fine, I fell asleep a few minutes after you,” Theo wanted to talk about what had happened the previous night, but he felt hesitant about broaching the topic at that moment. How would he know if it was the right moment? What if he ended up ruining things between them?

In the end, cowardice won his mental tug-of-war and he asked, “Shall we go shower?”

“Sure, but isn’t your flatmate outside?”

“Oh yeah,” Theo had forgotten that little detail. He got up and walked to his closet to grab some sweatpants and a t-shirt, limping a bit due to the soreness he was experiencing after the acts he and Noah had indulged in during the early hours of the morning. He threw the clothes at a chuckling Noah, “You can wear these after we shower.”

“Are you alright? Hope I wasn’t too rough on you last night,” Noah’s demeanor switched from slightly amused to concerned.

“I’m fine. Last night was amazing, but it’s just been a while since I last bottomed,” Theo smiled shyly at Noah before turning around again to grab some briefs he’d recently bought and hadn’t worn yet, “And you’re fairly well endowed.”

“Am I?” Theo could almost hear the smirk in his voice.

“Yes,” Theo found the pair of briefs and threw it onto the bed, “You can put those briefs on after you shower. They should fit and I haven’t worn them yet.”

Noah nodded and got up as Theo grabbed two clean towels and some clothes for himself, before putting on some shorts that he was going to put in the washing machine that day anyway just to avoid walking naked to the bathroom. Noah put on his underwear as well. They took the bedsheets off the bed and threw them into his laundry basket to be washed and Theo grabbed some fresh sheets from his closet to put on his bed.

“And that’s sorted. I’ll do the laundry later on,” Theo said to Noah as he walked towards his bedroom door.

They walked out of the room and noticed that Jamie and Alice were in the kitchen cooking something that smelled delicious. They were so deep in conversation that they didn’t notice Theo and Noah as they stepped into the bathroom and locked the doors. The bathtub wasn’t very big, but they tried to shower in it together, splashing each other with water and scrubbing each other’s backs. A mischievous smile meets a playful smirk with an undercurrent of sexual tension. All it took was one look at Noah biting his bottom lip and Theo could no longer resist. They ended up making out and using their hands to give each other pleasure and release. The cascading water drowned out the sounds of their moans.

They ended up having to clean up twice.

After the shower, they dried themselves up and wrapped the towels around their waists before heading back to Theo’s room. This time, however, they didn’t go unnoticed.

“Hey, loverboys! Nice limp you have there, Theo,” Theo turned around to look at his petite friend with a knowing grin on her face, “It sounded like you had fun last night.”

“Hey,” Noah shyly waved at the two ladies, wanting to put on some clothes before engaging in a conversation with them.

“Hi Allie, Jamie, we’re just gonna get dressed and we’ll talk to you in a sec,” Alice laughed as blushing Theo opened the door and held it open for Noah to step in.

“Wanna join us for lunch by the way? Jamie made chicken adobo,” Alice said before Theo had a chance to close the door to his room.

Theo looked at Noah, silently asking him if he was up for it. Noah nodded his head. “Sure sounds good. Just give us a few minutes,” Theo said as he closed the door.

“Sorry about that. Alice doesn’t really have a filter,” Theo ran his fingers through his damp hair as he looked through his room to see where he placed the outfit he’d selected for himself. They were on top of his desk.

“No problem. She seems pretty cool. Well, they both seem cool,” Noah grabbed the clothes Theo had given him before the shower and started slipping on the sweatpants.

“I think they also liked you,” Noah smiled at him as he put the t-shirt on. Theo couldn’t help the warm feeling in his chest when he saw Noah wearing his clothes. They suited him.

“And also,” he stepped closer to Noah after slipping a pair of pants on, “My clothes look great on you.”

“They look much better on you, I’m sure,” he said before placing a light peck on Theo’s lips, “Are you going to stay shirtless? I mean, I’m not complaining if you decide to not wear a shirt.”

Theo laughed before slipping on his t-shirt, “I would, but I’d prefer if you are the only person appreciating the view and not the two ladies in the living room. Shall we head out?”

“Yeah, I’m starving,” just as Noah said that his stomach grumbled.

“Same. Let’s go join them then.”

The two men stepped out of Theo’s room and saw the two girls sitting at the dining table that Theo and Alice hardly ever used.

“There you are. I was wondering if you guys would keep us waiting,” Alice winked at Theo. She loved teasing him.

“Get your mind out of the gutter, Allie. It smells delicious by the way, Jamie,” Theo sat next to Jamie, “You can sit here, Noh,” he nodded to the chair beside him.

“Yeah, it smells so good. Not sure I’ve ever had adobo before,” Noah said to Jamie.

“It’s my specialty,” Jamie boasted proudly, “I learned it from my mom. Her adobo is still the best.”

“I get that. I also learned how to cook with my mom and grandma and their cooking’s still much better than mine,” Noah added as Theo served him a plate of rice and some chicken. Alice and Jamie had already started eating.

“Oh? What do you cook?” Alice asked curiously.

“Thank you,” Noah said to Theo as he handed him his plate back before answering Alice’s question, “Mostly Thai food, but I also learned to cook some other stuff while I lived in Berlin. And I can cook Käsespätzle too. It’s my dad’s favorite comfort food.”

“What’s that? The ‘spetzel’ thing?” Alice asked before taking a bite of the chicken and rice.

“It’s kind of like German mac and cheese,” Noah had his first taste of Jamie’s cooking and instantly moaned at its taste, “By the way, Jamie, this is so good!”

“Yeah, Jamie, this is really delicious,” Theo added after having a taste.

“Thank you,” Jamie smiled, “Glad you guys like it.”

“I’m so lucky,” Alice gushed as she looked lovingly at Jamie, “I’m dating such a wonderful cook.”

“Someone has to use your kitchen. You and Theo never make use of your kitchen and it’s such a shame,” Jamie playfully teased Alice.

“We wouldn’t have a kitchen if we cooked,” Theo joined in, making Alice laugh and Noah smile, before Theo turned to Noah, “No, seriously, if we cooked, we’d have to call the fire department.”

“No joke! I once tried to make some spaghetti and it caught fire,” Alice added before bursting out in laughter.

“How does that even happen?” Noah asked in shock.

“Don’t ask me. I’m not as helpless as Allie here. I can cook spaghetti, but I sometimes forget to set timers and my food ends up burning. I also have no idea how much seasoning to use. It’s either too bland or too much. The only things I don’t suck at are cooking steak and making salads,” Theo said as he shrugged his shoulders.

“How did you two survive living together all these years?” Jamie amusedly asked.

“Take out and eating out,” Alice and Theo said almost in unison, no shame present on their faces.

“Really? Every day?” Noah was shocked.

“I mean, sometimes we drop by Theo’s parents’ house for lunch or dinner. Lily cooks some amazing southern comfort food. Speaking of which, Theo, you haven’t visited your parents in a while,” Alice looked at Theo.

“I had dinner at their place last week. I invited you but you were staying at Jamie’s. She keeps asking me when are you coming over,” Theo raised his eyebrow at Alice.

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I do miss your mom. I’ll call her tomorrow to invite her out for coffee,” Alice got a second serving of the chicken, “Does anyone want some more?”

“Yes, please. This is really good,” Noah said, handing his plate over to Alice.

“Is that okay?” She asked after scooping up a chicken wing and some sauce.

“Perfect, thanks. So, Theo told me you’re a teacher, Alice?” Noah asked.

“Yeah, I teach English at Sam Yuk,” Alice said, “in the English secondary section.”

“Oh, that’s pretty cool! How about you, Jamie?”

“I also teach English, but I teach at Santa Rosa de Lima, an all-girls school in Macau,” Jamie answered.

“Oh, I’ve heard of that school. One of my students graduated from that school last year,” Noah explained.

“Really? What do you teach?” Jamie asked.

“I’m a dance instructor,” Noah said before clarifying, “Well, that’s one of my jobs. I work at a bookshop during the day, teach dancing at night, and dance at D2 twice a week. And I sometimes participate in some of my friends’ art projects.”

“Oh, wow! You’re a busy man! How do you even find time for Theo?” Alice asked bluntly.

“Well, we find some time,” Noah glanced shyly at Theo.

“Good! I’m glad you’re in Theo’s life now. Hearing him bitch about Grindr was getting old,” Alice teased Theo, earning a glare from him.

“Ha ha, very funny. Don’t listen to her,” Theo told Noah, who just laughed, before getting a second serving of the food. Theo couldn’t help but notice how easily Noah got along with his friends. It warmed his heart.

“You know you love me,” Alice said, “But you’ve been demoted to number two. Jamie over here is now my number one person,” Alice kissed Jamie on her cheek, making her blush slightly.

“Not now! We’re eating!” Jamie playfully shoved Alice away before finishing her first serving and getting a second one.

“You girls are cute together,” Noah said bluntly, “How did you meet?”

“I like him, Theo. Keep him,” Alice nodded in approval, “And well, Jamie over here also is an artist. A photographer. An amazing one at that! She was looking for a model for a photoshoot and I volunteered.”

“Oh, really?” Noah asked Jamie.

“Yeah, I do some photography projects here and there when I have time,” Jamie shyly explained. She wasn’t fond of being the center of attention, so she was modest in her description, but Noah could see that she seemed passionate about it.

“That’s really cool! I model for a friend of mine sometimes, but I’m terrible at taking photos,” Noah chuckled.

“You’ve modeled before?” Theo asked and Noah nodded, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me much.”

“Oh, why’s that?” Noah gave Theo a smug knowing grin.

“Do I really have to spell it for you?”

“Yes,” Noah was clearly pretending to be oblivious to the reason.

“You’re hot as fuck. Happy?” Theo rolled his eyes.

“Very much so,” Noah’s smile was genuine, even though he was only teasing Noah, “You’re also very attractive. If I knew how to take photos, I’d definitely ask you to model for me.”

“Okay, guys, enough flirting while we’re eating. Only I can flirt with Jamie,” Alice winked at Jamie before a thought crossed her mind, “Oh, by the way, we’re meeting the gang later up at Cineteatro to watch a movie. Wanna join us?”

“Which movie?” Theo asked. Alice looked over at Jamie, whose phone was on the table. She quickly checked her phone to see the name of the movie.

“It’s ‘The Eternal Zero’. Ivy told me it’s a Japanese movie about kamikazes,” Jamie said.

“What do you think? Wanna go?” Theo asked Noah, hoping he’d accept the invitation so that they could spend more time together, even though he wasn’t that interested in the movie. He wasn’t sure about how Noah felt about meeting more of his friends, but he wasn’t opposed to the idea of introducing Noah to them.

“Sure, I’m free today,” Noah smiled at Theo before turning to the girls and nodding his head. Theo smiled. He felt relieved. Maybe Noah was just as serious as he was about their relationship.

“Great!” Alice finished her food and sat back on the chair, “Well, Jamie and I are heading out in a bit to go to the Venetian.”

“Venetian? Why?” Theo didn’t really enjoy going to the hotel where he worked on his days off.

“Yeah, we’re going to do some shopping!” Alice said enthusiastically, doing a little dance to show her excitement. Jamie just giggled and looked lovingly at her girlfriend before Alice added, “but we’ll meet up at the cinema at five. Is that okay? The movie’s at five-thirty.”

Theo looked at Noah to see if he still wanted to back out. Noah just said, “Yeah, we’ll be there.”

Jamie finished her food and looked at Alice with a meaningful look. “Fine,” Alice said as she stood up and grabbed her and Jamie’s plates, “It’s only fair. You cooked so I’ll do the dishes. Do you guys want anymore?”

Noah and Theo shook their heads and Theo said, “I think we’re good.”

Jamie got up as well and grabbed the serving bowls with the leftover rice and chicken. “I’ll keep you company,” she said as she followed Alice to the kitchen.

“We’ll wash our own dishes, so you girls don’t have to worry,” Theo said as Jamie and Alice headed into the kitchen.

“I never said I’d wash your dishes. You’ve got hands,” Alice said with a snort. Theo just laughed. Even though he and Alice had always been like that to each other, at the end of the day, they had each other’s backs.

Noah and Theo quietly finished their food when the girls left, the sounds of Jamie and Alice’s chatter and water splashing against the dishes filling the silence that had fallen between the two men. It wasn’t an awkward silence though, but a comfortable one.

“You’ve got some cool friends,” Noah was the first to break the silence.

“Yeah. Alice is quite a handful, but she’s always been there for me,” Theo said with a small smile. Noah smiled back before looking down at his empty plate.

“So,” Noah looked at Theo’s also empty dish, “what do you wanna do today before the movie? Wanna go for a walk around Taipa?”

“Yeah, sounds like a good idea. I’ll just wash the dishes once they’re done and put some clothes in the washing machine.”

At that moment, Alice and Jamie stumbled out of the kitchen laughing about something. “The kitchen’s all yours,” Alice said as she tried to keep her laughter under control and dragged Jamie along with her to her room before closing the door.

Noah gave Theo a confused look. Theo just said, “Don’t ask. I don’t know what that was either,” before getting up and grabbing both of their plates and cutlery, “I’ll wash these really quickly so we can head out.”

“I can help you,” Noah followed Theo into the kitchen, “You can scrub the dishes and I’ll rinse them. That way we’ll take even less time.”

“Good idea,” Theo smiled at Noah, who grinned back at him.

Just as Noah had predicted, it didn’t take them long to do the dishes together. After they’d laid everything on the dish rack to dry, the two men headed into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Noah had spent many nights over at Theo’s that he even had a spare toothbrush at his place. Theo also had one at Noah’s.

Theo also put his dirty clothes in the washing machine, so that he could hang them to dry when he arrived from the cinema, while Noah used the bathroom. Theo also took the opportunity to pee before knocking on Alice’s door to say, “We’re heading out! See you at five!”

They didn’t get a reply from the girls. They were probably too busy having some fun of their own.

Noah and Theo grabbed their stuff and headed out. When they were in the elevator, Theo kept wondering what was going through Noah’s mind. Did he want to date? Did he still want to take it slow? He looked at Noah, who seemed deep in thought as well. When Noah noticed that Theo was looking at him, he looked up and asked, “What’s up?”

Theo thought about asking the questions on his mind, but, instead, he just said, “Nothing.”

The timing just wasn’t right.

Noah grinned mischievously at Theo, a playful glimmer in his eyes, “You just can’t keep your eyes off of me.”

Theo chuckled and shook his head, “Cocky bastard.”

“And yet, you didn’t deny it,” Noah raised a challenging eyebrow at Theo.

“Fuck off,” a blushing Theo playfully shoved Noah who just laughed at Theo’s reaction. His laughter was infectious and soon Theo was also laughing right when the elevator doors opened as they reached the ground floor.

“So... where do you wanna go?” Theo asked as they walked out of the building.

“Wanna stroll around Taipa village? I haven’t been there in a while,” Noah suggested.

“Sure,” Theo nodded and followed after Noah.

The two men spent the afternoon walking around the historical center of Taipa, through its narrow streets and alleyways, which were fortunately not too crowded, strolling past pastel-colored colonial buildings - walking around that part of Taipa always felt like traveling back in time. The weather was fresh and pleasant - quite a rare occasion for such a humid city like Macau. It was an afternoon filled with laughter, ever-flowing banter, and stolen glances at each other.

Around four in the afternoon, they were sitting at the Carmo gardens, drinking some bubble teas at the same spot where Theo had found Noah crying at 3 am one night. Theo had been meaning to ask Noah what had happened that night, but it never felt like the right moment to ask. As he glanced at Noah, whose expression was serene and blissful, he once again decided against asking.

“You know?” Noah suddenly said, bringing Theo’s mind back to reality, “When I was in high school, I had my first kiss here.”

“Really?” Theo asked as he placed the empty cup of bubble tea beside him.

“Yeah. At the Lusofonia Festival. I came with a couple of friends the year before I left. I knew it was going to be my last year and we managed to get a few caipirinhas and sangrias,” Noah’s eyes looked at the view in front of him, almost as if going back to that moment, “My best friend now - back then she used to have a crush on me. I had no idea, but that night we were both drunk and she kissed me.”

“Oh? And how was it?” Theo was curious.

Noah glanced at him and laughed, “Well, it was sloppy because we were both drunk.” Theo chuckled at Noah’s comment on the kiss before Noah added, “But it also was a turning point for me. Before that, I’d already thought I was gay, but I wasn’t sure. My friend is pretty hot, not gonna lie, but when she kissed me, I didn’t feel attracted at all. Instead, I just wished I was kissing this other friend of mine at the time. He was really cute.”

“Oh... Did you end up telling her that you didn’t feel the same way?”

“Yeah. After the kiss, she told me she liked me. It was a bit awkward, but I told her it was an accident and that I didn’t feel the same way. She was a bit angry at me for a few days, but we cleared things up a few weeks after and I came out to her.”

“How about your other friend? The one you had a crush on?”

“Oh, he didn’t really take it well when I told him I had a crush on him before I left. I was kind of expecting it to be honest, but I guess a small part of me still hoped I was wrong. We didn’t stay in touch after I left,” Noah shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh, that sucks...”

“It was a long time ago. It was just a small crush, I got over it pretty fast once I was in Germany. I was pretty much out to all of my classmates there.”

“That’s cool,” Theo really liked hearing Noah’s stories from when he was younger. He wanted to know more, “And what was your first kiss with a guy like?”

“In my first year in Germany, I went to a party with some of my friends. I had no idea how to flirt with guys. I was pretty shy back then.”

“You? I can’t imagine that!” Theo teased Noah.

“Well, I was. So, anyway, I was at the party and this hot guy from my school came up to me. He was a senior, two years older than me, and he started flirting with me. I was so flustered,” Noah chuckled as he recalled that moment from his past, “He was pretty blunt and asked me if he could kiss me. I said yes and we ended up making out at that party.”

“Ooh! And what happened after that?”

“Well, he was moving to München to study, so he wasn’t looking for anything serious, but we hooked up a couple of times before he left. We kind of drifted apart after that, but I didn’t allow myself to get too attached, so it didn’t hurt much when it ended. He was actually the first guy I had sex with.”

“Really? How was it?”

“It wasn’t too bad. A bit painful at first because he only liked topping, but he was more experienced so I just followed his lead.”

“Sounds better than my first time,” Theo laughed, “my ex and I were both virgins so we had no idea what we were doing. It was messy and painful. Over time we kind of just figured out how it all worked. Thank God for Google!”

Noah laughed at Theo’s story, “Was that the same ex you mentioned on our first date?”

Theo nodded, “He was basically my first everything. It’s funny though... In retrospect, he was a terrible kisser. I had nothing to compare him to at the time, but now, wow.”

“How about me? How do I fare in your ranking of kissers?” Noah mischievously asked.

“Hmmm I think you may need to refresh my memory,” Theo playfully suggested with a smirk.

Noah grabbed the back of Theo’s neck, uncaring of their surroundings, and planted a kiss on Theo’s lips, teasing Theo’s tongue with his own, leaving him yearning for more when he pulled away.

“So?” Noah breathlessly asked as he raised an eyebrow at Theo.

“Definitely in the top three.”

Deep down, Theo knew Noah was number one, but he didn’t want to admit that to the other man.

“I’ll take it,” Noah smugly said as he let go of Theo’s neck. Theo just chuckled before glancing at his phone.

“By the way, wanna get going to Macau? It’s almost four-thirty,” Theo suggested.

“Sure, let’s go,” Noah finished his bubble tea and got up. Theo followed after him.

They walked back to the busy streets of Taipa to get the bus to the Macau side. They got on the first bus number 33 that appeared, shortly after they arrived at the bus stop and Theo texted Alice, letting her know they were on their way to the cinema. Alice texted back, letting him know that they’d gotten the shuttle bus to MGM and they were already crossing the bridge.

“It seems like Alice will actually arrive on time for once,” Theo commented with Noah.

“Is she normally late?” Noah asked.

“Always, except to her classes. She’s punctual to those. But everything else - nah.”

“Even though I lived in Germany and Germans are usually known for being punctual, back in Germany, I was a bit like Alice,” Noah mentioned, “I only arrived on time when it was something important.”

“Really?” Theo asked.

“Yeah. But when it mattered to me, I made sure to be on time,” Noah gave Theo a small smile.

You were always punctual with me, Theo thought.

He kept that thought to himself.

For the rest of the ride, Theo gave Noah a rundown of his friends, so that Noah could know what to expect. He also warned Noah about Eric’s flirtatious nature. He did notice that Noah seemed to tense up a bit when he mentioned that Eric had at some point been interested in Theo, but he assured his lover that there had never been anything between him and Eric.

By the time they left the bus, they only had five minutes to get to the cinema - just enough time. Theo was feeling a bit nervous about introducing Noah to his friends. He’d never introduced a guy to the gang.

When they arrived at Cineteatro, Ivy and Yoyo were already waiting at the entrance.

“Theo!” Ivy yelled, “Long time no see!”

“Hey, Ivy, Yoyo. This is Noah, by the way,” Theo introduced Noah to the girls.

“Hi,” Noah waved. He seemed a bit more shy than usual. It appeared that Theo wasn’t the only one who was nervous.

“Are you the reason Theodore here has ditched us?” Yoyo bluntly asked.

“Please don’t call me that,” Theo groaned, “And I didn’t ditch you. I’ve just been busy with other things...”

“Yeah, busy, I see that,” Yoyo didn’t seem convinced, “Nice to finally meet the man Theo’s been talking about.”

“Oh God,” Theo blushed in embarrassment. Noah gave him an amused look.

“Nice to meet you too. I’ve heard a lot about you as well,” Noah said.

“Theo, he’s so cute! Please keep him!” Ivy said enthusiastically and Theo just gave Noah an apologetic glance before Ivy asked, “Where’s Alice by the way?”

“She should be arriving soon. She texted me five minutes ago, telling me she was near Hotel Lisboa.”

“Speaking of the devil,” Yoyo said.

“Hey, guys!” Theo heard Alice’s voice behind him. He turned around and saw Alice and Jamie who had just arrived, “Have you already bought the tickets?”

“We were waiting for you guys,” Ivy said, “Eric bailed last minute.”

“Yeah, ditched us for a booty call,” Yoyo added. Theo noticed that Noah seemed to perk up after hearing that Eric wouldn’t be joining them.

“Yoyo, you need to get laid instead of whining about everyone else getting some but you,” Alice was the only person in the group who could challenge Yoyo.

“Who said I don’t get laid?” Yoyo raised an eyebrow and smirked, “Ivy and I went to Cubic last night.”

“Ooh, fresh gossip that I don’t know?” Alice perked up.

“We’ll tell you after the movie. Let’s go buy some tickets first,” Ivy said and started dragging her friends to the ticket line. Not many seats were taken for the movie they were going to watch, so they managed to score the seats that they wanted in the back row.

“Let’s get some drinks and snacks at 7-eleven,” Ivy suggested. They all agreed and headed to the closest convenience store just around the corner. As they walked to the shop, Theo turned to Noah and said, “Sorry about that. My friends have no filter.”

“Don’t worry. They seem pretty cool, Theodore,” Noah teased Theo.

“Fuck off, not you too,” Theo playfully shoved Noah away.

Noah just laughed and said, “I’ll stop, I promise. I just couldn’t resist.”

Theo pretended to be annoyed but in reality, he didn’t mind it so much when Noah used his given name. It sounded different coming from Noah.

Once at the convenience store, the group of friends bought some chips, drinks, and Pocky to enjoy while watching the movie. Alice and Ivy volunteered to hide the snacks and drinks in their bags, so they could sneak them in.

They headed back to the cinema where they showed their tickets and headed to one of the smaller showing rooms. Noah sat next to Theo at one end of the back row and Alice sat beside him. Jamie sat next to her and Ivy and Yoyo sat at the other end of the row. Alice and Ivy passed the snacks and drinks around so that they could snack on the chips before the movie began, so as to avoid annoying other spectators with the noise. There were only a few people in the room, but more and more people were entering the showing room. By the time the lights dimmed, the room was half full.

Although the movie wasn’t boring, Theo couldn’t help but be more interested in looking at the man sitting beside him, constantly stealing glances to watch Noah’s reactions. Halfway through the movie though, he managed to focus on the story and ended up enjoying it.

“That was interesting. I had no idea about what the perspective of the kamikazes was,” Noah told Theo as they stepped out of the showing room.

“Me neither. Most war movies I’ve watched were from the American perspective, so it’s interesting to see the other side,” Theo noted.

“Hey guys,” Theo turned around when he heard Ivy’s voice, “We’re going to have dinner together at the Vietnamese place. Wanna join us?”

Theo looked at Noah who said, “Sure, if you want.”

“Yeah, we’ll come along,” Theo said to his friend.

The restaurant was a short walk away. They walked through the São Francisco Garden and followed along the street behind the cinema as if they were going to Tap Seac. They weren’t too far from Jamie’s house actually. Noah and Theo walked at a slower pace, staying a bit behind the group as they exchanged impressions about the movie.

“Hurry up guys!” Alice yelled once she was standing in front of the hole in the wall dining establishment.

Theo and Noah sped up their pace and were soon stepping into the restaurant. All six of them managed to squeeze into two of the tables by adding additional benches. Theo and Noah sat beside each other with their backs facing the door, Alice and Jamie sat in front of them, and Ivy and Yoyo sat at the ends of the tables.

They all ordered different kinds of noodles before Ivy turned to Noah asked, “So, Noah, what do you do?”

“Well, I work at a bookstore during the day, teach dancing after hours, and dance at D2 twice a week,” Noah explained.

“Oh, wow! Sounds like a lot of work! Where do you teach?” Ivy seemed intrigued.

“It’s a small dance school not too far from here. Macau Dance Factory,” Noah answered with a smile on his face. He always seemed to perk up whenever he talked about dancing, “My friend opened it last year and invited me to work there.”

“Wait! Is your friend Mia? Mia Lau?” Ivy asked in surprise.

“Yeah. She’s my best friend from high school. Do you know her?”

“Yeah! We go to the same yoga place. What a coincidence!”

“Yeah, small world,” Noah smiled, “And what do you do?”

“I work at Galaxy as a secretary at the executive office. Not that exciting, and Yoyo here works in IT at Galaxy as well,” Ivy said pointing at Yoyo.

“As you can imagine, it’s a very exciting job,” Yoyo said in a monotone manner.

“I bet, those computers must always be up to no good,” Noah played along, speaking in an earnest tone, humoring Yoyo and making her smirk a bit. It made Theo happy to see all of his friends getting along with Noah.

The noodles arrived shortly thereafter and words were replaced by the sounds of noodles and broth being slurped and chopsticks clinking. Theo’s eyes kept drifting towards the side profile of his lover, admiring the shape of his lips as he slurped the noodles, the sparkle in his eyes as he smiled at something one of his friends said, the little mole on his temple that he hadn’t noticed before - he was always discovering something new about Noah.

He desired to hold onto Noah and never let go.

He wanted Noah to be his.

But did Noah want to be with him?

Theo wasn’t sure.

After dinner, Theo and Noah bid farewell to Theo’s friends, and Theo walked Noah home. Those thoughts kept playing over and over in Theo’s mind.

“The noodles there were great. I’d never eaten there before,” Noah interrupted Theo’s incessant thoughts.

“Yeah, we go there once in a while. Jamie introduced us to that spot,” Theo gazed down at Noah’s hand. He wanted to hold it, but he wasn’t sure how the other man felt about it.

“You have a pretty cool group of friends,” Noah’s hand bumped against his.

“Yeah,” Theo smiled, “I think they liked you as well.”

His hand brushed against Noah’s to see how the other man would react. To his surprise, Noah’s hand reached out to grab Theo’s and he laced their fingers together. It was the first time they were holding hands outside. Noah looked at Theo with a small smile which warmed Theo’s heart.

Who’d have thought that at twenty-seven I’d get butterflies in my stomach because I’m holding hands with someone? Theo thought. Did he ever experience it with Jason? He couldn’t recall. The more time he spent with Noah, the less important those memories seemed.

They walked silently side by side along the quiet streets of the old part of the city center, as they headed towards the Camões Garden. Noah started whistling a song that Theo didn’t recognize, yet he couldn’t help but find the melody bewitching.

“What song was that?” Theo asked when Noah stopped whistling.

“‘Lili Marlene’. It’s an old German song from, like, World War II. My grandma used to sing it to me whenever I’d visit Germany as a kid,” Noah explained, as he looked at Theo.

“It sounds beautiful.”

Under the streetlights, Theo noticed a faint blush on Noah’s cheeks. His heart skipped a beat every time he got a glimpse of the usually blunt and confident dancer’s timid and nervous side. He wanted to uncover every layer, every story, every ounce of Noah. Breathe in Noah.

“Are you free tomorrow?” Theo couldn’t contain his desire to spend as much time as he could with Noah.

“Another dancer at D2 asked me to take over his shift and in return, he’ll take over my Saturday shift,” Noah looked apologetically at Theo, “And I will have a photoshoot at night after work on Tuesday.”

Theo couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment, “And you’ll also be working on Wednesday...”

“Yeah,” Noah’s shoulders also seemed a bit dejected at the idea, “But, because I have Saturday night off, so I was thinking of taking the whole day off. So I can be all yours on Friday night and Saturday?”

Noah’s offer to make up for his busy days of the week cheered Theo up after the initial disappointment. He gave Noah a small grin, “Yes.”

They arrived at Noah’s building. As they stood side by side in front of the entrance, Theo didn’t want to go home. He wanted to stay a little bit longer with Noah, but it was already getting late and he had to be up early the next day for work. He also had to take his laundry out of the washing machine before it started to smell.

“So.. . I guess I’ll see you on Friday?” Theo asked, his hand still in Noah’s.

“Yes,” Noah smiled at Theo, who grinned back at him, but he noticed Theo still seemed a bit sad. Theo looked away, glancing instead at the door of the building, almost as if hiding his vulnerability from Noah, “Hey, look at me.”

Theo looked back at Noah as the latter man leaned in close to Theo, pressing his forehead against Theo’s, and whispered, “I promise I’ll call you if I have any time off this week before Friday. If I do, I definitely want to see you.”

Noah backed away a bit and added with a mischievous and cocky grin, “I may not be able to meet you for a few days, but you won’t get rid of me so easily. I’ll text you whenever I can.”

Theo chuckled, feeling a lot more reassured after hearing Noah’s words, before pressing his lips against Noah’s. Noah deepened the kiss, showing Theo that he was also the object of Noah’s fervent desire. They both could feel it. This undeniable unspoken bond that they hadn’t labeled yet. It was real. A bright spark. Powerful. Magnetic. Almost electric.

“I don’t want to leave yet,” Theo whispered as soon as their lips parted.

“You could always stay over,” Noah suggested.

“Can’t. I wish, but I only have clean clothes for tomorrow. Need to take care of my laundry when I get home,” Theo pouted.

“We can talk on the phone before you sleep if you want,” Noah offered.

“I’d like that,” Theo smiled.

Noah pecked his lips lightly before playfully shoving Theo away, “Now go before I grab you and keep you hostage at my place.”

“You know? That honestly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea,” Theo smirked at Noah, who just chuckled at him, “but I’ll have to take you up on that next time. Goodnight, Noh, and thank you for these last two nights.”

“I really enjoyed spending time with you today and yesterday as well. Good night, Theo.”

Theo walked away, waving at Noah before walking back to the busier streets of Macau to catch a taxi. He ended up being lucky and spotting a taxi near the Saint Paul Ruins.

On his way home, he grabbed his phone and searched for the song ‘Lili Marlene’ on YouTube. He grabbed his earphones from his pocket and plugged them into his phone to listen to the song, the city disappearing behind him as he crossed the bridge on that misty evening.

As the voice of Lale Andersen melodiously serenaded Theo on his way home, he couldn’t help but feel that although the song definitely had its charm, it was nowhere near as endearing as Noah whistling along to its tune under the streetlamps of a quiet street of Macau at night.

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