Monday, May 19th, 2014
“Good afternoon Elaine,” Theo typed on the keyboard as he responded to the last email of the day. It was already five past six and Theo had finally completed all of his tasks for the day. He’d spent the whole day somewhat distracted, texting Noah whenever the other man was available and thinking back to the time he spent with Noah over the weekend.
After arriving home the previous night, he put his laundry up to dry on the balcony before calling Noah and talking to him until he eventually fell asleep. They just talked about everything and nothing at all, but Theo lived for those moments. He yearned to feel close to Noah, even if it was just listening to his voice.
It had been a long time since he dropped his guard with someone. Since he allowed himself to be fully vulnerable around a lover. He’d forgotten how much he enjoyed relinquishing control and being completely intimate with someone like he’d done with Noah.
He’d surrendered himself to Noah.
But had Noah surrendered himself to him?
Theo wasn’t sure and that question was eating at him.
It also didn’t help that he still wondered what had exactly happened the night he found Noah crying at the Carmo Gardens at 3 am. Noah had never mentioned it again. What secrets was he hiding? Theo wasn’t sure if he was too much of a coward to bring it up again or if he was more afraid of what he’d discover.
Stop thinking about it, he thought to himself.
As soon as the last email was sent, he logged out of his account and grabbed his things before bidding his colleagues a lovely evening and leaving the office. His phone buzzed in his pocket while he was waiting for the elevator.
It was a text message from Joel, ”Hey, wanna meet at 7 at Café Catedral?"
"Make it 7:15. Only leaving work now. I’ll text you when I’m on the bus," Theo quickly replied to the text message before the elevator doors opened. He stepped into the elevator and pressed on the button going to the ground floor. He was deciding whether he’d catch the team member shuttle bus or if he’d walk to the Taipa village and get a bus there. He checked the time and he knew he could still make the team member shuttle bus if he walked fast.
"Ok, I’m nearby, so just let me know and I’ll head there when you’re close by,” Theo received a reply from Joel as soon as he stepped out of the elevator, but he didn’t reply. Instead, he pocketed his phone and dashed all the way to the pick-up location for the team member shuttle bus.
He made it just in the nick of time. The bus would take about forty minutes to get to the city center and he needed an extra ten minutes to get to Café Catedral from the drop off location. He checked the time and saw that it was twenty past six, so he was sure he would make it on time.
Once the bus was almost done crossing the bridge, he sent Joel a message, letting him know he was arriving at the city center.
"Okay, I’ll head to the café now. See ya!" Theo pocketed his phone after reading the reply.
The shuttle bus soon stopped near the Sintra square and Theo got off it and made his way to the café located near the Senado Square. He walked at a leisurely pace as he smoked his first cigarette in hours. He hadn’t had one since his afternoon break and had been craving the sweet taste of nicotine the whole bus ride. By the time he arrived at their meeting spot, Joel was already standing outside the café.
“Hey, man. It’s been a minute,” Joel hugged Theo tightly.
“Geez, no need to smother me,” Theo said with a hint of sarcasm.
“Shh, just accept the hug,” Joel said before letting go.
“You’re in a good mood today. What’s up?” Theo noticed the wide grin planted on Joel’s face.
“I’ll tell you all about it in a sec, but first, wanna grab a bite to eat? Or a beer?”
“Sure, I’m starving,” Theo said before following Joel into the restaurant.
They sat down at one of the tables and ordered some food and beer. As soon as the waiter left, Joel said, “Man, work’s been intense ever since I got back from vacation, so sorry if I’ve been MIA. We had a couple of tricky cases to handle, but this week is finally lighter.”
“It’s all good, man. I’ve also been a bit busy myself,” Theo said, as the waiter returned with two glasses of draft beer. The two men thanked the waiter before clinking their glasses together, ”Prost.”
"Prost? What’s that?” Joel asked with a curious eyebrow raise.
“Oh, it’s cheers in German,” Theo hadn’t even noticed he’d said the German word. He’d gotten so used to hearing Noah saying ′prost’ instead of cheers that he’d also grown the habit of using the word himself.
“And why would you be saying cheers in German?” Joel asked Noah as he drank some beer before taking a sip from his own glass.
“Remember the dancer I mentioned?”
“The one you saw at D2 once?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“What about him?”
“Well, we’ve sorta been seeing each other,” Theo shyly clarified.
“Hold up! When did this all happen?” Theo had really kept Joel out of the loop.
“So, the weekend after we last met, like a month or so ago, I ran into him at Nam Van Lake when I was getting some liquid courage to go to D2. We ended up walking around and talking all night long and we’ve been spending most days together ever since then,” Theo gave his friend a brief summary of the things that had been happening in his life over the course of the last few weeks.
“Wow, that’s insane! And, so... How’s it been going?” Joel leaned in, curious to hear what his friend had to say.
“I feel like I’m a fucking teenager again when I’m with him. Like, what the hell is up with me? I’ve never felt this way, not even with Jason,” Theo felt good in voicing his intense feelings for Noah to his best friend. Unlike Alice, Joel had seen Theo in his awkward teen years and had heard him gush about Jason at the start of their relationship.
“Woah, you’re smitten! I haven’t seen you gush about a guy this much since high school. When will you make it official?” Joel asked.
“Well, here’s the thing...” Theo pauses, trying to think of the right words to say.
“Why do I smell a but?”
“It’s not really a but. It’s just, he seems to be holding back. I think he’s got some baggage that’s still haunting him and he’s afraid to tell me. But I know there’s something there. I can feel it.”
Joel’s eyebrows furrowed deep in thought, not exactly sure what to make of what information, before finally settling on a question, “Why do you think he’s hiding something from you?”
“So, like two weeks ago he called me at 3 am and asked me if I could meet him at the Carmo Gardens. He seemed like he needed help, so I quickly made my way there and I found him crying. He didn’t tell me exactly what happened, but he said a past mistake kept coming back to haunt him. He told me he would tell me everything once he was ready,” Theo explained without giving too many details.
“I see,” Joel’s expression was pensive.
“Yeah. I’m not sure if I should bring it up or if I should just wait for him to be ready. I also don’t know if I’m rushing things by asking him to be my boyfriend. All I know is I can’t stop thinking about him.”
Before Joel could say anything, the waiter brought over their food. They thanked the waiter before Theo said, “Woah, this looks good!”
“Have you never eaten here before?” Joel said before drinking a sip of his beer.
“Nah, I’ve only come here for drinks,” Theo said as he grabbed his cutlery and prepared to dig in.
“The food’s pretty good and decently priced,” Joel said, “Anyway, going back to your little dilemma, I think you should ask him how he feels about the two of you. Given what you’ve told me, he also seems to be interested. The worst he can say is that he isn’t ready for something too serious yet and you can then decide if you’re willing to wait.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But enough about me. All we’ve done so far is talk about my love life. What’s up with you? You look pretty chipper today,” Theo tasted some of his African chicken. It was incredibly flavorful and delicious, “Oh wow, this is really good!”
“I know, right? I came here once with some work colleagues and we really enjoyed the vibe of this place,” Joel explained after taking a bite of his own food, “But anyway, back to your question. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, especially after my trip to Malaysia with Michelle.”
“Didn’t you think much before then?” Theo teased his friend.
Joel snorted, “Dude, I’m trying to be serious here.”
“Sorry, couldn’t help it. Go on.”
“I’ve been thinking about asking Michelle to marry me.”
Theo’s jaw dropped at his friend’s revelation, “Really?”
“Yeah, I mean, I know I’m still young and I know we haven’t been together that long, but I can’t really see a life without her,” Joel had a dreamy look in his eyes whenever he mentioned Michelle. Theo could see that his friend was completely and utterly head over heels in love with his current partner.
“Well, I can see that she makes you happy, so if you’re sure about it, I’m happy for you,” Theo’s words were genuine.
“Thanks, man. And of course, when we do tie the knot, you’ll be my best man,” Joel couldn’t wipe the grin off his face after getting his friend’s approval.
“I’d be honored,” Theo smiled back at his friend before teasing him again, “Does that mean I can do a drunken toast where I roast you during the reception?”
“Oh, fuck off!” Joel laughed at his friend’s question, earning a chuckle from Theo, “But, in all honesty, I couldn’t ask anyone else to be the best man. If it weren’t you helping me out and picking me up when I hit rock bottom, I probably wouldn’t have met Michelle and I probably would’ve given up on being a lawyer.”
“Hey, you’re my bro. I’m always here for you.”
“And I’m always here for you too, even though it seems like I’m super busy all the time. If you’re ever in trouble or need some legal help, just give me a call and I’ll be there for you. And I promise to offer you a friendly discount,” Theo laughs at Joel’s reference to an inside joke between the two of them. Ever since Joel had decided to pursue law, he always joked around and told Theo that he’d help Theo in all of his legal matters and would even offer him a discount.
“Come on, doesn’t my best man status bestow me with free legal services?” Theo tried to bargain with his friend.
“I’ll consider it if your best man toast is good enough,” Joel smirked at Theo.
The two friends carried on eating their meal, exchanging some stories about work, Noah, Michelle, and their friends, catching up on several weeks’ worth of conversation. By the time they had finished eating and had had two beers each, Joel got a call from Michelle, so he excused himself from the table to answer the call.
While Joel was outside, Theo noticed he had a Facebook messenger notification. He checked it and saw that Noah had sent him a few messages.
MON AT 7:55 PM
Noah sent a video.
Just thought i’d show you a peek at what i’m doing before my class begins
The video showed Noah dancing in an empty dance room. Theo could tell that Noah was freestyling it, just following the rhythm in a way he hadn’t seen before. He was dancing along to a rap song in a different language, which Theo assumed was German. Noah looked free and his expression was blissful. Theo wondered what the song was about, as he couldn’t really understand the lyrics, but he liked the beat. He couldn’t help but replay the video before typing out his reply, loving the sight of Noah just grooving along to the music.
MON AT 8:32 PM
You’ve just made my day
I could watch you dancing all day
What song is that?
He knew Noah taught a class at eight, so he probably wouldn’t get a reply until much later. Shortly after replying, Joel returned to his seat and said, “Do you want another beer or shall we get the bill?”
“I’ll pass on the beer. I gotta get up early tomorrow after all.”
“That’s true, let’s pay the bill. Do you have to head home now or do you wanna come over for a bit? Michelle sends her regards, by the way.”
“I should get going home. I still have to shower and check some stuff online before I sleep. But I’ll take you up on your invite next time, I promise!”
“Alright, I’ll hold you to that. Michelle misses you too.”
“It’s been a while since I last saw her. Maybe next week, if you’re free,” Theo suggested.
“I’ll get back to you on that. I’ll check with her. And I wanna meet Noah too. Kind of jealous that Alice and the rest of your gang got to meet him before me,” Joel pouted before raising his arm to call the waiter over.
“You’ll meet him soon, hopefully.”
“Yeah, you better or I’ll revoke the best man status,” Joel playfully threatened.
“You wouldn’t dare,” Theo raised a challenging brow at Joel.
“You’re right, I wouldn’t. But I still wanna meet him. And let me know how your talk with him goes!”
“Will do,” Theo said as the waiter appeared by the table with the bill.
The two friends split the bill and left a little tip for the waiter before leaving the restaurant. They walked together all the way to the bus stop where Theo would get his bus to go to Taipa. Theo asked Joel questions about how he was thinking of proposing to Michelle. Joel still wasn’t sure, he only knew he would do it sometime soon.
When Theo spotted his bus approaching, he turned to his friend and said, “So, I’ll see you next time. Let me know when you guys are free so I can drop by for dinner or something.”
“Sure, will do, and don’t forget to tell me how it goes with Noah!”
“Yes, sir,” Theo jokingly saluted Joel, who rolled his eyes at his friend, before getting on the bus.
On the way to Taipa, he opened his Facebook messenger app and plugged his earphones in before replaying the video Noah had sent him again. His heart fluttered as he watched his lover move along to the beat of the song. It had only been one day since he last saw Noah, but Theo already missed being in his presence.
As he was replaying the video a third time, it was suddenly interrupted by a call. It was his mom.
Theo answered right away, “Hi, mom.”
“Hi, Theo. How are you, sweetie?”
“I’m fine. Just had dinner with Joel,” Theo leaned his head against the window of the bus, looking at Taipa in the distance as they crossed the bridge.
“Oh, that’s nice! How is he? I haven’t seen him in a while!”
His mom also loved Joel. Joel would often spend his days at Theo’s place when they were younger. She had seen him and Theo grow up together and had also welcomed Michelle with open arms when Joel brought her over the previous year for Thanksgiving.
“He’s good. He’s thinking of proposing to Michelle.”
“Oh wow! That’s amazing! Michelle’s a lovely woman!”
“Yeah, I’m happy for him. And how are you and dad?”
“We’re good. We were actually wondering if you’re free tomorrow night for dinner.”
“Sure, I’m free. What time do you want me to come over?”
“Is seven-thirty okay for you?” His mom suggested.
“Yeah, that works. Want me to invite Alice as well?”
“Yes! Please do!” His mom enthusiastically answered.
“I’ll check with her when I get home, but just in case, can her girlfriend come over too?”
“Sure, we’d love to meet her,” his mom had always been very welcoming of Theo’s friends ever since he was young. She made his friends feel at home. He wondered what his mom would think about Noah. He hadn’t mentioned Noah to his parents yet, but it was getting harder and harder to conceal it from them. He would probably tell them about him over dinner the next day if Alice didn’t beat him to it.
“I’ll check with her later on and I’ll let you know if they can make it,” Theo said as he set aside his thoughts about Noah and his family.
“Great! I’ll talk to you later then! Love you!”
“Love you too,” he said before hanging up.
After exiting the phone app, he noticed he’d received a notification from Facebook messenger and his heart skipped a beat.
MON AT 9:03 PM
It’s called fühlt sich wie fliegen from max herre
Here you go
And i can dance for you anytime you want :)
Gonna get something to eat before I meet my friend for the photoshoot
How was dinner with your friend?
Theo couldn’t help but smile like an idiot as he read Noah’s messages. He quickly typed out his reply.
MON AT 9:04 PM
I’ll check it out when I get home
Dinner was nice. My friend is a bit jealous that Alice got to meet you before he did
What are you gonna eat?
The two men kept exchanging messages the rest of the way home. Theo was so engrossed in the conversation that he almost missed his stop. After getting off the bus, Theo kept texting Noah as he made his way to his building. However, as soon as he got to his building, Noah told him he had to eat quickly as he was already running late. Theo was hoping to talk to Noah a bit more and was a bit sad at the idea of having to stop the conversation, but wished Noah luck on the photoshoot.
When he stepped into his apartment, he saw Alice and Jamie cuddling on the couch, watching TV.
“Hey,” he greeted the two women who briefly glanced at him before returning their focus to the screen.
“Hey, how was dinner with Joel?” Alice asked, still looking at the screen.
“It was good. By the way, my mom called and she’s inviting both of you to dinner tomorrow. Wanna come?” Theo said as he took off his shoes.
“Oh, yes! Can we?” Alice turned to Jamie with a smile on her face.
“Are you sure it’s okay with your mom if I come too?” Jamie asked.
“Yeah, she invited both of you.”
“Then sure,” Jamie said with a smile, “do you wanna watch Skins with us?”
“I’ll pass for today. I gotta shower and check some things on my computer, but enjoy,” Theo said as he walked to his room.
He called his mom to let her know that they’d all be coming over for dinner before grabbing a fresh towel and going to the bathroom to take a shower.
As he rinsed the soap off his body, he caught himself humming along to the song Noah had been whistling the previous night. He’d googled the song at work to find out what it was about and it was based on a poem a soldier wrote dedicated to his lover, promising her that they would meet at the same spot by the lantern at the entrance of the barracks once the war was over. Knowing the meaning of the song made Theo wonder about the intensity of Noah’s feelings towards him.
He recalled the link Noah had sent him of the other German song and decided he would check it while checking his emails and his bank account online.
After the shower, he headed back into his room and got dressed before sitting at his desk and turning his laptop on. As he waited for his computer to boot, he wondered what Noah looked like when he posed as a model. He made a mental note to ask Noah for some photos.
He quickly checked his emails and read the ones that mattered before logging into his bank account to check his bank statements. He was thinking of opening a savings account, so he wanted to check his financial situation. He needed to go to the bank to get some more information about that. After finishing both of those tasks, he logged onto Facebook and scrolled up in his conversation with Noah until he found the link.
The song had a cool beat and Theo enjoyed the flow of the rapper. Before meeting Noah, he’d never thought of listening to German rap, but Noah had definitely changed his mind regarding the German language.
He decided to check the lyrics of the song, curious to see if it could give Theo any hints as to what Noah was thinking. He copied and pasted the lyrics into Google Translate. He felt his pulse increase and warmth in his chest as he read the translation of the chorus:
I let myself fall
I fall into you
It feels like flying
Love must be that easy
Love must be that easy
Theo smiled as a thought popped into his mind.
So that’s what Noah looked like when he was dancing.
He looked like he was flying.