Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
As the light shone through the blinds, bathing the two men in a subtle golden glow, Theo looked at Noah’s blissful sleeping face. His inviting slightly pouty lips, his tousled chocolate hair, his relaxed eyebrows. He wished he could capture that moment and stare at it forever.
It was already half-past eleven. It was quite late by the time they’d fallen asleep. Theo had woken up a bit earlier with Noah’s arms wrapped around him and just remained at Noah’s side for a few minutes watching his beloved in a peaceful slumber.
Eventually, the urge to pee took over and he carefully left Noah’s warm embrace to go to the bathroom. As he’d already gotten up, he thought about preparing a delicious brunch for him and Noah. He’d bought some things at the supermarket the day before, so he decided he’d check a recipe online that he could make with the ingredients he had and hope for the best with his subpar cooking skills. He’d try to do his absolute best to impress Noah.
After using the bathroom, he headed into the kitchen and looked at the ingredients he had in the fridge. He’d bought some eggs, potatoes, red onions, garlic, and bell peppers the previous day, and he noticed he had some leftover chorizo that Alice had bought earlier that week. He could make a potato hash with those ingredients. It couldn’t be too hard, could it?
He grabbed a knife and a chopping board and started chopping the potatoes, red onions, garlic, chorizo, and bell peppers and cracked some eggs into a bowl to whisk them. After preparing his mise en place, he grabbed a frying pan and drizzled some olive oil in it before turning on the stove.
He wasn’t sure what ingredients should go in first so he put the chorizo, onions, garlic, and bell peppers in first, hoping for the best, before adding the potatoes. He seasoned it with salt, pepper, chili powder, and Italian herbs, trying his best to nail the seasoning. Once one of the potato cubes was crispy, he gave it a taste and saw that it lacked some seasoning so he added a bit more of the spices he’d added. As soon as the potatoes were to his liking, he scrambled the eggs in the same pot, mixing them with the potatoes. When the eggs were cooked, he transferred the breakfast hash to two clean plates.
Hopefully, he likes it, Theo thought to himself as he looked at his creation with pride. It was a simple recipe, but it was one of his best attempts at cooking. Just as he was about to head into the bedroom to wake Noah up, he heard Noah’s voice coming from behind him, ”Morgen, smells good in here.”
“Morning, I’ve made us some brunch,” Theo gestured at the plates. He noticed that Noah wasn’t limping anymore. His heart ached whenever he saw Noah in pain, so seeing him feeling better made him feel relieved.
“Oh wow! This looks so good! I thought you didn’t know how to cook,” Noah raised an eyebrow at Theo suspiciously.
“I hope it tastes good ’cause I just chucked it all into the pan and hoped for the best,” Theo chuckled nervously.
“If it tastes as good as it smells, I’m sure it’ll be tasty,” Noah gave Theo a sleepy lazy smile. Theo loved seeing Noah’s smile. Whenever he smiled, it was as warm and as beautiful as a summer sunrise.
“I guess you’ll have to wait and see. By the way, what do you wanna drink? We have coffee, milk, orange juice, and water,” Theo asked.
“I’ll have some coffee, thanks,” Theo added as he yawned a bit.
“One coffee coming right up! Can you take these to the table while I make us some coffee?” Noah nodded and carried both of the dishes to the living room.
Theo quickly prepared two mugs of coffee, pouring some milk into his before asking Noah if he wanted his coffee black like the last time, to which Noah replied with, “Yes, please.”
After preparing both mugs, he carried them as well as some cutlery over to the living room and set them on the dining table, “Here you go.”
“Thank you. You really didn’t have to go through all this trouble to cook this,” Noah said with a grateful expression on his face.
“Well, you’ve cooked for me. It’s only fair that I cook for you as well. It probably won’t be as good as your cooking though,” Theo chuckled nervously.
“I’m sure it’s good. It smells so good, I can’t wait to dig in,” Noah said excitedly.
“Well, shall we?” Theo asked as he handed a knife and fork to Noah and grabbed one of each for himself as well. Noah just nodded and immediately scooped up some of the breakfast hash onto his fork and tasted it.
“Well?” Theo asked, wanting to hear the verdict before having a bite.
“It’s really good! You’re not too bad of a cook! You and Alice lied!” Noah seemed genuinely pleased with the food. Theo had a bite and confirmed what Noah had said. It was probably the best thing he’d ever cooked.
“Oh wow, you’re right,” Noah gave him a look, almost as if saying ‘I told you so’, before Theo added, “But I shit you not - most food I cook isn’t nearly as good as this! I swear!”
Noah chuckled at Theo’s comment, making Theo smile, before eating some more big bites of the hash. It warmed Theo’s heart to see Noah doing a lot better and enjoying his cooking. It showed him what a potential future for the two of them could look like - one where they share their lives under one roof. Theo quickly caught himself before going too deep into that train of thought. However, he couldn’t help but give Noah a meaningful look and shyly add, “I guess I was extra motivated today... There was someone important that I wanted to impress.”
Noah blushed as he looked up at Theo and stopped eating for a moment. Although he didn’t say anything, his eyes were uttering the words he dared not speak. The grateful mist shrouded his chocolate orbs, as they thanked Theo for his help in his moment of despair, for being an anchor in troubled seas, for distracting him and keeping him grounded. Noah didn’t need to speak for Theo to listen to the unspoken words uttered in that comfortable silence.
He then looked back down at the food and carried on eating before muttering in a small voice, “I’m telling Alice you definitely don’t suck at cooking.”
“Please don’t or she’ll make me be the one cooking all the time,” Theo playfully whined.
“Nah, she has Jamie,” Noah smirked at Theo, “and we can cook for each other. You can handle breakfast or brunch and I can handle lunch and dinner. Deal?”
“Deal,” Theo smiled at the promise of having more of those domestic moments with Noah.
They finished eating pretty quickly and Noah offered to do the dishes, but Theo said he’d take care of it, so Noah excused himself to smoke on the balcony. Theo didn’t take long washing the dishes as he hadn’t made much of a mess in the kitchen. When he got to the balcony, Noah was lighting up another cigarette.
“Can I bum one off of you?” Theo asked as he leaned against the door frame of the balcony.
“Sure,” Noah handed Theo a cigarette from his pack and his lighter.
Theo lit it up and leaned against the rail of the balcony next to Noah, who was absent-mindedly smoking his cigarette as he stared at the view, his stream of thoughts seizing control of his mind. Theo could see flickers of different emotions in Noah’s eyes, even if the man tried his best to shield them. An idea suddenly occurred to him, “Hey, Noh?”
“Mmm?” Noah glanced at Theo, his mind still partially elsewhere.
“Do you wanna go for a walk in Coloane? It’s a nice day out and it could be a good and relaxing distraction,” Theo suggested.
Noah took a long pensive puff from his cigarette as he considered the idea before nodding and exhaling, “Sure, I guess we can go for a walk. I haven’t been to Coloane in a while.”
Theo smiled before taking a puff from his cigarette, “Guess it’s my turn to show you a new spot.”
Theo’s statement had two different intentions: he truly wanted to show Noah a place he’d never been to before for a change, but he also meant it figuratively - he wanted to show Noah that there was life beyond his traumatic experience. It would take time, but Theo was patient. Noah looked at Theo with a knowing smile. He just knew.
In a way, the two of them had always been like that, they’d always been able to speak with a single glance and understand each other without uttering any words. Even when Noah was hiding such a dark secret from Theo, Theo had sensed that something wasn’t right from the troubled sea in Noah’s eyes.
When both men had finished and extinguished their cigarettes, Theo turned to Noah and asked, “Wanna head out now after taking a shower?”
Noah nodded and Theo said, “You can shower first. I’ll grab you a fresh towel from the bedroom.”
Theo headed to his room and grabbed two towels from his cabinet - one for Noah and one for him. He only had one fresh towel left, so he decided he would take care of the laundry while Noah showered. He left a towel for Noah in the bathroom while he showered before heading back to his bedroom, where he laid out some fresh clothes and underwear on the bed for Noah to wear. He then placed some clothes and towels into the washing machine and set them to wash and dry, so that he could fold them and keep them after the walk.
Noah didn’t take long. He soon left the bathroom with the towel wrapped around his waist. “You can take a shower now,” he said.
“Alright. I left some clothes and briefs on the bed for you, by the way,” Theo said as he grabbed his towel and went to the bathroom.
“Thank you,” Noah gave Theo a small smile.
“Don’t mention it. I won’t be long,” Theo said before closing the bathroom door to shower.
After showering and getting dressed, both men headed out of the apartment. They walked to the bus stop where they took bus number 25 heading towards Hac Sa Beach.
“Where are we going?” Noah asked once they were seated and the bus started moving.
“It’s a surprise,” Noah playfully rolled his eyes, making Theo chuckle and concede, “Okay, I’ll give you a hint - we’re getting off at the Seac Pai Van Park stop.”
“That doesn’t really help me,” Noah countered.
“Then you’ll just have to wait and see,” Noah snorted at Theo’s comment.
They rode mostly in silence for the rest of the ride. Noah seemed to have a lot on his mind. He would on occasion glance at Theo before glancing away again. Theo didn’t feel like asking him what was up while they were on the bus, but he would ask him later on.
Once they were approaching the right stop, Theo rang the bell and the bus stopped. They got off and Noah followed Theo up an uphill road. When they reached a street sign saying ‘Estrada do Alto de Coloane’, Noah noticed that there were a few people gathered at the bottom of that road they were now on.
“We’re going to wait for a shuttle bus here to take us to the place we’re going to,” Theo explained.
“Oh, okay,” Noah seemed distracted by his thoughts, only half present. Theo hoped the walk would help him clear his mind a bit.
The shuttle bus arrived and they got on along with some tourists. The drive didn’t take long and soon they were near the A-Ma Goddess statue at the top of a hill. They walked up to where the Goddess stood and Theo said as he pointed at a sign pointing at the start of a hiking trail, “This is one of the starting points of the Coloane trail.”
“Oh, cool. I’ve been here before but I’ve never done that trail,” Noah said as he followed Theo to the start of the hiking trail.
The two men walked along a dirt path, surrounded by trees and fresh air, a rare feature of that densely populated city, occasionally encountering some small Chinese pavilions and vast granite boulders along the way. At first, they were mostly silently walking side by side, taking in the views and breathing in the fresh air, but after walking for a bit, Noah’s mood seemed lighter and he and Theo started engaging in some banter. Conversation and laughter just naturally ebbed and flowed between them.
“This place is pretty cool. My family and friends here were never too into hiking, so I’ve never really hiked much in Macau, mostly in Hong Kong or in Germany,” Noah said when they stopped at a pavilion to smoke and admire the view.
“My sister loves hiking, so when she lived here, she’d make me hike with her every so often. Her heart’s never really left the mountains. Unlike me, she never really fit in here, so she moved back as soon as she got the chance,” Theo explained playing with a tiny pebble under his foot before taking a puff.
“Colorado must be amazing. I mean at least from what you see on TV. I’ve never been to the States though, so I wouldn’t know,” Noah glanced at Theo and shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s a beautiful state. You should visit if you get the chance,” Theo smiled at Noah as he finished his cigarette. Noah extinguished his as well before tearing up the foil part of his cigarette pack and placing his cigarette butt inside it. He asked Theo for his cigarette butt so he could keep them wrapped in that piece of foil until they spotted a trash can.
They carried on hiking and sharing more stories about their families. Theo learned that Noah’s grandma visited on occasion and would spend a few months in Macau at a time and that he and his grandma got along really well because she helped his mom and dad raise him when he lived in Thailand. He also admitted that he missed her dearly when he was in Germany, but he’d talk to her on Skype whenever he had the time. Noah also talked about his parents but didn’t mention his anxiety about heading to his parents’ for dinner later that week.
Theo shared some stories about his grandparents and his sister, mentioning to Noah, “by the way, she definitely wants to meet you.”
“Oh, you’ve talked with her about me?” Noah had a smug smile on his face.
“Yeah,” Theo admitted shyly.
Noah smiled but instead of teasing Theo further, he said, “She seems cool from what you’ve told me. Does she visit often?”
“She tries to visit once a year, so she might still visit this year. Not sure. She is a bit spontaneous when it comes to her trips,” Theo chuckle
“I’m a bit like her,” Noah smiled, “but luckily you humor me on those occasions.”
“It’s always a pleasure,” Theo said genuinely as they stopped in front of a giant boulder overlooking Hac Sa Beach.
Noah was a bit speechless for a moment, just gazing at Theo’s eyes, before gazing away and rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. He then looked at the boulder and back at Theo, “Wanna sit over there and look at the view for a bit?”
“Sure,” Theo said, not sure what Noah’s reaction was all About. Theo extended his water bottle, which he’d brought along with him, to Noah, offering him some water. Noah accepted the offer and drank a bit before returning it to Theo and fishing a cigarette out of his pack.
“Want one?” He offered Theo, who accepted it.
They sat in silence, smoking and feeling the light breeze blow against their faces, watching the waves as they rolled in down at the beach. Theo’s eyes couldn’t help but linger on Noah, who seemed to be looking at the sea for the right words to convey whatever was on his mind at the moment.
To Theo’s surprise, Noah sat closer to Theo and leaned his head on Theo’s shoulder, his gaze still pointed at the sea, avoiding Theo’s eyes.
“I really, really wanna give this... us a try... but... I want to be okay first,” Theo’s heart started beating faster when he heard Noah’s confession.
“I’ve had feelings for you from the start, but I was afraid you’d hate me if you knew the truth of my past, but you’re still here and...” Noah was sniffling a bit as he spoke, so Theo knew he was probably tearing up, “just thank you for being here...”
“Of course I’m still here, Noh. I care a lot about you,” Theo whispered into Noah’s hair, as Noah was still avoiding his gaze.
Noah straightened up and looked at Theo, having gathered some courage, “I’m still a mess even though I’m pretending to be okay. I’m not, and I’m not sure how long it’ll be until I’m okay, but asking you to wait seems unfair... ”
“Hey,” Theo looked Noah in the eyes, “I don’t care how long it takes. I just want you to be okay. I’ll be here for you every step of the way.”
Noah nodded and gave Theo a relieved smile as tears rolled down his face before breathing out a sigh of relief. At that moment Theo noticed a small bruise on Noah’s neck peeking out from under the hem of his shirt.
“What is it?” Noah asked, noticing Theo’s gaze. When he noticed that Theo had been staring at a bruise, he tried to cover it.
“Don’t hide it,” Theo said and he extended his arm out, slowly and gently, “Can I?”
Noah nodded and Theo touched the bruise, trying not to put too much pressure on the bruise to not hurt Noah. He caressed the bruises and looked at Noah’s misty eyes as he said, “You’re still beautiful. Don’t forget that.”
He approached Noah and leaned in closer before looking at Noah’s eyes for permission. Noah nodded once again and Theo placed a small butterfly kiss on Noah’s bruise.
“Still so beautiful,” he whispered as he pulled back from the kiss and saw some happy tears appear at the corners of Noah’s eyes.