Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
"Hey, are we still down for later?"
Theo read Liam’s message as he smoked a cigarette during his afternoon cigarette break. He and Liam hadn’t been talking as much in the last few days as Liam had been quite busy with farewell parties and family gatherings as well as sorting things out before his trip. He’d also been on a few dates and told Theo about them, having no one else in Macau with whom he could talk about those experiences.
He’d actually forgotten about their plans to meet that evening, but luckily he was available, so he replied with, ”Yeah, where do you wanna meet?"
Liam’s reply was quick, ”How about at the Old Tavern?"
Theo typed out his reply, ”Sure, is 8:30 pm okay for you?"
"Perfect :) See you later!"
Theo stubbed his cigarette out on the overflowing ashtray of the team member smoking area before going back inside the building and returning to his office.
Noah had texted him some more photos from the photoshoot earlier that day and they’d left Theo in a good mood all day, but they also made Theo yearn even more for Noah. Only one more day, he thought, looking forward to surprising Noah at the book shop.
The rest of his shift flew by and soon he was clocking off and leaving the office. He texted Alice to see if she was around Taipa to have dinner with her, but she replied, “No, I’m having dinner at Jamie’s.”
He decided to eat something on the way to the Old Tavern after going home to shower and change his clothes. By 8 pm, he was having dinner at a small noodle restaurant not too far from the Old Taipa Village.
Noah was teaching a dance class, so he wasn’t replying to Theo’s messages. Theo sometimes wondered how Noah had the energy and time to work out, work at the book shop and dance school, cook, and still dance at D2. Noah had mentioned to him that he eventually wanted to leave his D2 gig because working at night was getting draining and he wanted to try dancing at other places. Deep down, Theo liked that idea, as he knew Noah could do better than D2.
After finishing his meal, he paid and walked to the Old Tavern, which was only a ten-minute walk away. He arrived five minutes early and texted Liam, letting him know he’d already arrived.
“Hey, Theo,” he heard someone call from behind him. He turned around and saw Liam walking towards him. Liam had a big smile on his face and looked happier than ever. He’d also grown his beard out, compared to the stubble he’d seen the last time. It had been a while since Theo had seen him, as he’d been so busy with Noah, but he was glad to see his friend in such high spirits.
“Hey, Liam. Long time no see,” he suddenly noticed a slight bruising on Liam’s neck, “Is that a hickey?”
Liam blushed a bit when Theo pointed it out, “Is it that noticeable? I met up with a guy last night and he really liked biting.”
“You horny dog,” Theo teased his friend with a playful grin, “was it good at least?”
“Really good. Definitely a nice way to celebrate my last day at work,” Liam smiled, “Man, I’ve missed out on Grindr all this time. It’s been quite a month.”
“I can imagine. You’ve sure been busy,” Theo could see just how much Liam had changed in the last month. He seemed younger, almost as if exploring his sexuality had revitalized him, “shall we head in and get some beers?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
They went into the bar and bought a pint of beer each before heading back out to the outdoor tables and sitting on the stools. Theo fished a cigarette from his packet and Liam asked if he could have one as well.
“So, how does it feel to be a free man?” Theo asked as he exhaled a smoke cloud.
“Amazing and scary,” Liam said before lighting his cigarette up.
“I can imagine. When’s your flight to Mexico again?”
“This Saturday,” Liam exhaled some smoke and took a sip of his beer.
“Oh wow, time flies. Can’t believe you’re already leaving so soon,” Theo said. He felt sad about having to part ways with his friend, but also happy that his friend was chasing after his dream.
“I still can’t believe I’m doing this, to be honest. This whole month I’ve been wondering if I made the right choice. I kept thinking that maybe I could just talk to my boss and stay and cancel my flight, but now that it’s almost time, it’s finally hitting me that I’m going to Mexico! Like... I can’t believe I’m finally going to Mexico after all these years.”
“I’m excited for you, man. It’s going to be amazing,” Theo gave Liam a reassuring smile.
“I hope so. I’ve been learning some Spanish on Duolingo to get by when I get there and I’ve already found a place to stay for the first two weeks while I look for an apartment.”
“That’s great! You can always use Grindr to meet some locals who can show you around,” Theo playfully suggested before stubbing his cigarette out on the ashtray.
“Oh, that’s definitely the plan!” Liam chuckled before finishing his own cigarette.
“Ooh look at you being all thirsty!” Theo teased, making Liam laugh.
“I have you to blame. If I hadn’t met you through Grindr, not sure if I would’ve wanted to experiment more, so thank you for being my first Grindr experience,” Liam clinked his glass against Theo’s.
“Well, given that I’ve introduced you to the wonderful world of casual hookups, you’d better keep in touch while you’re there in Mexico. Send me a postcard if you ever visit an interesting place.”
“Of course I’ll keep in touch. And a postcard? Why a postcard? Nobody sends postcards anymore,” Liam seemed curious.
“Call me old fashioned but I enjoy receiving postcards. It’s like receiving a bit of the country the person is visiting. Much more personal than a text message,” Theo explained.
“Oh, never thought of it that way... Sure, I can send you a postcard,” Theo smiled at Liam’s words, “Anyway, we’ve only been talking about me. What’s been up with you? How are you and Noah doing? It’s Noah, right?”
“Well, I don’t know actually,” Theo had told Liam that he’d been spending most of his free time with Noah but he hadn’t expanded much beyond that, “I mean, I really like him and I think he feels the same way, but we haven’t made anything official or really talked much about what we are. Kind of afraid to bring that up.”
“You? Afraid? But you seem so confident!” Liam seemed surprised by Theo’s revelation
“Yeah, well, with casual sex it’s easy, but with Noah it’s different. I haven’t had feelings for someone in years. And... God, I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I bottomed for him,” Theo fished out another cigarette.
“Oh, wow. You must really be into him.”
“So much it kind of freaks me out a bit. I know how to handle Grindr hookups but feelings for someone? I feel like a teenager in high school crushing on someone and not knowing what to do about it,” Theo bitterly chuckled.
“Well, he also seems interested in you, otherwise he wouldn’t be spending that much time with you,” Theo knew Liam was right. Just like Alice and his sister had been.
“I know, but I also know he’s holding back. I know he has some baggage he doesn’t want to talk about, but I’m too much of a coward to ask him about it. He told me he’d talk about it when he’s ready.”
“So, just wait. He might also be afraid of scaring you off with his baggage,” Liam suggested.
“But I want him to know that he won’t scare me off that easily. Everyone has baggage. I just... Fuck, I don’t even know. I just know I want him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone in my life.”
“Well, you can either wait for him to open up or tell him what you’ve just told me,” Theo had to admit that Liam had a point.
“You’re right. I guess I’ll decide on the spot this weekend if I want to talk to him about it. But I’ve already talked a lot about this with Alice, so let’s talk about your last month here.”
“Alice is your flatmate, right?” Liam checked and Theo nodded, “what did she say about your situation with Noah? Has she met him?”
“Yeah and she’s certain that he feels the same way and that I should talk to him, but she’s not one to talk. She took forever to make things official with her girlfriend.”
“Well, the way I see it, if he likes you, even if he isn’t really for something serious now, he may be open to it in the future. Either way, he’s one lucky guy,” Liam smiled reassuringly.
Theo blushed at the compliment, “You’re also quite the catch and you’ll hopefully make one Mexican guy very happy.”
Liam laughed at Theo’s retort before raising his pint up and saying, “Cheers to new beginnings. You with Noah and me with Mexico.”
“Cheers to that,” they clinked their glasses and drank some of the beer.
They spent the next hour talking about Liam’s final month in Macau, his adventures on Grindr, and his parents’ questions about his whereabouts. They also talked about Theo’s plan to visit the US the following year for his sister’s wedding. Liam mentioned that he could visit the States when Theo was in Colorado for the wedding. Overall, it was a pleasant evening, but it went by too quickly. Soon, it was already time for Theo to head home and get some sleep as he had to get up early for work.
After finishing their drinks, they got up, getting ready to part ways. Theo couldn’t help but feel sad to see his friend leave Macau. He knew that he probably wouldn’t see Liam until he visited the US the following year and that was only if Liam could make it to Colorado when he went there.
“So...” Theo started once they were at the spot where they would go off on their separate ways, as their buildings were in opposite directions.
“So, before I go, I just wanted to say that I’m really glad we met on Grindr. I honestly wouldn’t have decided to just go to Mexico if I hadn’t met you when I did,” Liam said with his hands in his pockets, giving Theo a bittersweet smile.
“I’m glad I met you too. You reminded me that I should allow myself to be happy. And I really hope you find happiness in Mexico,” Theo smiled back at his friend.
They quietly stared at each other before Liam looked down, seeming a bit nervous, “Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, because I definitely wouldn’t trade our friendship for anything else, but I kind of wanted to get something off my chest before I leave.”
Before Liam even uttered the words, Theo already had an idea of what Liam was going to say.
Liam took a deep breath before uttering, “If I hadn’t just broken up with Ray and if you weren’t already into Noah when I met you, I probably would’ve fallen for you. I know we haven’t known each other for long and I know it’s stupid, but when you told me we were going to stop fooling around, I felt a bit sad and almost jealous, because even though I told you I didn’t want anything serious, I guess I got a bit attached.”
Liam looked away, seeming embarrassed to reveal that but Theo could understand where he was coming from. He himself had seen Liam as more than a friend. Had Noah not been in the picture, he was sure he would’ve chased after Liam, even if he had to wait for him to heal first. But his heart had been captured by Noah since the first time he laid his eyes on him that night at D2, “Hey, look at me.”
Liam’s misty eyes met his, “Believe me when I say this... If our circumstances had been different, I’m sure I would’ve chased after you. You’re easily the best decision I’ve made on Grindr. And I definitely will cherish our time together, however brief it was.”
Theo smiled reassuringly, his own eyes a bit misty, “And I’m sure that in time you’ll find someone who’s even better for you than I could ever be. And when you do, you can gush to me all about him.” Liam chuckled at Theo’s final remark.
“When that happens, you’ll be the first to know,” Liam smiled brightly at Theo, “And I hope you manage to talk to Noah and find happiness with him as well. You deserve it.”
“Thank you. I’ll text you my address later on and I’ll be expecting a postcard from you in the next few months.”
“And we’ll keep in touch on Facebook in the meantime. I’ll let you know my first impressions of Mexico City.”
Theo felt a strong desire to hug his friend and decided against resisting that urge. He wrapped his arms tightly around his friend and said, “Have a safe trip to Mexico.”
They hugged for a minute, neither of them wanting to let go yet, but Liam’s ringtone suddenly started playing, bringing both men back to reality. They slowly let go and stepped away from each other.
“Well, I’ll hopefully see you in Colorado next year,” Theo said, knowing it was time to say goodbye.
“Yeah, definitely,” his phone was still ringing.
“I’ll let you go now so you can answer that,” Theo said.
“Alright. I’ll see you soon,” Liam said, his eyes not leaving Theo’s.
“See you,” Theo took the initiative to turn around and walk away. He and Liam had at one point in time been two wandering lost hearts seeking someone who could be an anchor, someone to give them strength. And for that, Theo was forever grateful to Liam. Saying goodbye always sucked. Luckily, in the modern-day and age, it wasn’t as painful as they could easily keep in touch via social media.
By the time Theo arrived home, he noticed it was already almost eleven. He couldn’t believe he would finally see Noah again the next day. He missed him a lot even though it had only been four days since he last saw him. He saw that Noah had texted him earlier, asking him what he was up to, but he’d been busy talking to Liam and, on his way home, he’d been too distracted by his thoughts to look at his phone. He texted Noah, asking him if he was still at home. Noah quickly replied with a, “Yes.”
Theo laid down on top of his bed and called Noah, yearning to hear the other man’s voice rather than just type words onto a screen. It only rang once before Noah answered, “Hey.”
“Hey, Noh. Are you still at home?”
“Yeah, just finishing getting ready. I dance at 2 am tonight so I still have some time.”
“Oh, so that means we can talk for a bit?” Theo was hopeful.
“Yeah, I can talk for a bit. You didn’t reply to my message earlier,” Theo could hear Noah sitting down on a couch.
“Yeah, I was having some drinks with a friend who is leaving on Saturday, so I only saw your message now.”
“Oh? A friend? Who?”
“Liam, you don’t know him. He’s moving to Mexico this Saturday so we just had a little farewell gathering.”
“Oh, you’ve never mentioned him before...” Noah’s tone seemed a bit off. He almost seemed jealous.
“What’s wrong? You seem a bit annoyed,” Theo asked curiously. Part of him wanted to confirm his suspicions.
“Well, you’ve talked about several friends, but you’ve never mentioned a Liam. I was just wondering why.” Theo was sure Noah was jealous. He’d noticed a similar tone when he’d mentioned Eric in the past.
Theo had never mentioned Liam to Noah, because he knew it was very unlikely that Noah would meet Liam, given that he was about to leave soon, but technically he’d talked about Liam on one of their first dates without mentioning Liam’s name. He’d never had the intention of hiding Liam from Noah.
He decided to be honest with Noah about who Liam was, “Okay, so Liam was a guy I met on Grindr before I met you. We hooked up a couple of times when he’d just ended a ten-year-long relationship and I was feeling like shit about myself. I helped him decide to chase his dreams and he helped me see that I should chase my happiness too. We stopped sleeping around the moment I met you and we’re just friends now.”
“Oh,” Noah paused to think a bit about the information he’d just been given, “so, you guys have never dated or had feelings for each other?”
“Noh, Liam and I were never more than friends. I won’t lie to you and say I wasn’t extremely fond of him because he helped me out of a dark moment I experienced recently, but I always knew we wouldn’t be more than that.”
“And why’s that? Why did you know that?”
“Because deep down I was hoping I’d meet someone else again. Someone I saw one night at a club on a Saturday night,” Theo said, hoping Noah would catch on to what he was implying.
“Oh,” Noah had been caught off guard by that answer.
“And luckily I did,” Theo added with a stupid grin on his face.
“Yeah,” Noah’s voice had changed. He seemed to feel more reassured and relaxed after Theo’s admission, “I also wanted to see a handsome man in the audience again, but he never showed up. Fortunately, I got to bump into him by the lake one night.”
Hearing Noah say that made Theo’s heart flutter. He wanted to be beside Noah to kiss him and feel Noah pressed against him, feel his scent, feel his skin, feel his presence. “I wish you were here with me now.”
“Come to D2 tonight and you can see me,” Noah teased and Theo groaned.
“You know I can’t. I wish I could, but I gotta be up in like eight hours,” Theo whined into the speaker.
“Well, on Friday I can definitely spend the night at yours and I’ll be yours all of Saturday. Next week, I promise I’ll have more time off,” Noah said reassuringly.
“You’d better,” Theo said. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought that he’d see Noah the next day, even though Noah wasn’t aware of his plan, “Anyway I should get going to sleep.”
“Yes, you should. I’m also heading out in a bit.”
“Okay. Hope your performance goes well.”
“I’m definitely going to own that stage,” Noah confidently stated, earning a chuckle from Theo, “Good night, Theo.”
“Good night, Noh.”
After hanging up from the call, Theo smiled as he looked at the screen, feeling more and more certain that his feelings for Noah were reciprocated by the bewitching dancer.