Saturday, July 19th, 2014
Nervous. Extremely nervous. That’s how Noah was feeling at that precise moment. Theo could tell by the speed at which Noah was talking.
“Should I buy something on the way home to bring over to your parents’? You told me your mom loves wine and they have a nice selection of wines at San Miu, so I could just head there and get something. Or should I buy something else?”
He had just finished his appointment with his therapist and was almost arriving home when he called Theo. Theo felt a warmth in his heart when he saw his boyfriend worried about meeting his family. It showed him just how much Noah cared about him.
He’d had asked Noah at the beginning of the week if he wanted to have lunch with his family that Saturday. Noah was hesitant at first because he’d never dated anyone seriously and thus never met any of his partners’ parents, so he didn’t know what to expect. After Theo reassured him that his parents would love him and that they were excited to meet him, he accepted the invitation. His mom was over the moon when Theo told her over the phone.
“Relax, I’m at Park N Shop right now buying some wine. You just have to head home and get ready,” Theo was browsing the shelves of the liquor aisle at the supermarket, looking for the bottle he wanted. He knew his mom was a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, so he kept his eyes peeled for that specific bottle.
“Are you sure? I’m standing in front of San Miu and I can buy something...” Noah insisted.
“Noh, don’t worry. I’m already sorting out the wine and my mom told us that we don’t have to bring anything else. Just take a deep breath, go home and I’ll be there soon,” Theo said in a reassuring tone of voice.
Theo heard Noah taking a deep breath before saying, “Okay, I’ll see you at your place. I should be there in five minutes.”
“Found the wine,” Theo said as he grabbed the bottle he sought, “Just gotta pay and I’ll head home. See you.”
"Tschüss," Noah hung up.
Theo was looking through his wallet to check if he had enough money for the wine as he walked towards the cashier. However, as he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening around him, he ended up bumping into someone.
"M hou ji si,” Theo apologized to the person in Cantonese, but as he looked at the man he’d bumped into, he froze.
“Theo?” In front of him stood a man he hadn’t seen in months - Flávio.
“Hey, Flávio,” Theo awkwardly said, “Long time no see.”
A beat of uncomfortable silence.
Both men just looked at each other unsure of what to say. They hadn’t seen each other since that shameful night. The night when Theo took his drunken frustrations out on Flávio, treating him like a mere whore. Once his eyes met Flávio’s, the feelings of repulsion and regret that he’d buried deep in his heart rose to the surface once again.
Although Flávio looked apprehensive about engaging in conversation with Theo, he seemed to be doing well. In fact, Theo had to admit that he still looked amazing. He hadn’t lost his exotic boyish charm that he’d found attractive when he first met Flávio and his eyes had recovered the glimmer he had stolen that wretched night. His hair was much shorter than the last time he’d seen him and Theo thought it suited him.
Seeing as Flávio was still standing in front of him and hadn’t turned and walked away, Theo decided to ask a simple, “How’ve you been?”
“Good. I’ve been good. And you?” Flávio shifted the weight of his body onto his left foot, looking slightly uncomfortable and almost itching to leave the conversation, but not wanting to be rude. He’d always been too nice for his own good.
“I’m doing fine as well.”
Another beat of silence.
“Are you still working at that restaurant?” Theo asked to break the silence.
“Fogo Samba? Yeah. Still there”
And another uncomfortable silence.
Flávio didn’t move, looking at Theo with a somewhat expectant look.
Theo was trying to find the right words he wanted to say. He knew he owed Flávio more than awkward small talk questions, but he didn’t know how to go about it.
Flávio got impatient and sighed before breaking the tense silence, “Well, it was nice to bump into you, but I gotta go find my boyfriend. He’s waiting for me.”
“Oh, you’re seeing someone?” Theo asked. He knew it was none of his business, but he couldn’t help but be curious.
“Yeah, we met two months ago,” Flávio rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, but Theo noticed that he had a small shy smile on his face.
“Oh, that’s great! I’m happy for you,” and Theo meant it. Although he hadn’t treated Flávio well, he genuinely wished him well.
“Yeah, thanks. Anyway, I gotta get going,” Flávio just wanted to get away as quick as he could. He’d been polite and cordial, but Theo could still sense remnants of bitterness in his demeanor.
Theo knew what he had to do.
Just as Flávio was turning around to leave, Theo called out, “Flávio?”
Flávio turned around to hear what Theo had to say.
“I know I was an asshole to you last time we met up. I really am sorry.”
Flávio looked Theo in the eyes and crossed his arms, almost as if telling Theo to go on. Theo felt a bit awkward about having that talk in the middle of a busy supermarket, but he didn’t know if he would get another chance in the future, so he seized it.
“I was not in a good mental state when we were seeing each other, but it’s not an excuse for how I acted. I used you and you have every right to hate me. But I wanted to properly apologize to you and wish you all the best,” Theo uttered looking Flávio in the eyes.
Flávio didn’t answer at first. He just looked at Theo in surprise for a moment, not having expected to hear those words from Theo, before finally smiling and saying, “Yeah, you were an asshole, not gonna lie. I was kind of hoping to hear those words from you when I saw you.”
Theo smiled, the tension felt between the two of them slowly dissipating into the air.
Flávio looked down for a second as if to think about his next words, before he looked back up at Theo, “Look, I don’t hate you. I never did. I was hurt at the time, but it was the wake-up call I needed to move on from you, ’cause I was whipped at the time.”
“And I’m glad to see that you have moved on. I’ve always known you could meet someone much better for you than me,” Theo said.
“Yeah, I didn’t expect it would happen so soon, but it’s always when you least expect it, isn’t it?” Flávio smiled, no longer holding any resentment towards Theo.
Theo could tell that there was something else Flávio wanted to say, so he waited to hear the other man’s words, “Thank you for apologizing to me. And don’t beat yourself up for the past. It’s in the past and from what I can see, you also seem to be doing better.”
He smiled at Theo before adding, “It was nice seeing you again. All the best to you too, Theo.”
“It was nice seeing you too, Flávio,” Noah said as he waved Flávio goodbye.
And just like that he turned around and walked away.
Maybe they would never end up being friends and maybe it was for the best, but Theo felt a bit lighter after that unexpected encounter. It was as if an invisible knot he had guarded deep in his heart had finally untangled, freeing him from the guilt and the shame from a past regret.
He paid for the bottle and headed home. Noah was probably wondering what was taking him so long.
As soon as he got home, he saw Noah smoking on the balcony without a shirt. “Noh? I thought you were getting ready?”
Noah turned around, a cigarette dangling between his fingers, “I was going to take a shower, but I was craving a cigarette, so I’ll just finish this before showering.”
“Nervous?” Theo walked up to Noah, who turned around once again to face the view from the balcony.
“Is it too obvious?” Noah asked with a chuckle.
Theo wrapped his arms around Noah’s waist and placed his chin on Noah’s shoulder before kissing Noah on his neck, “You don’t have to be nervous. My parents are pretty chill and they are excited to meet you.”
“It’s just that... It’s the first time I’m actually dating someone long enough to meet their parents. Most guys I dated in the past were more like friends with benefits or not really serious boyfriends...”
“I’m glad I’m the lucky guy who gets to see this side of you. And I’m sure my parents will love you,” Theo said, hugging Noah tightly, feeling his bare back against his chest, before uttering in Noah’s ear, “If it helps in any way, my mom already thinks you look pretty handsome and she has a soft spot for handsome guys.”
Noah chuckled once again and Theo could feel the tension leaving his body. “Like mother, like son,” Noah smirked as he glanced at Theo.
“What can I say? I have a soft spot for one specific very handsome dancer who looks amazing without his shirt on while smoking a cigarette on the balcony,” Theo dragged his hands up and down Noah’s torso before whispering in Noah’s ear, “And if we didn’t have to leave soon, I’d definitely want to do some naughty things with you.”
Noah shivered with Theo’s raspy invitation, before playfully shoving Theo away, “You fucking tease!”
Theo just gave Noah a coquettish grin as he looked down at the bulge in Noah’s pants and Noah whined, “Fuck! Now I’m going to have to take a cold shower or we’re gonna be late.”
“We still have thirty minutes before we have to be there. We could make it quick,” Theo suggested with an eyebrow raise.
“Behave, Theo! This is the first time I’m meeting your parents, so I don’t want to be late,” Noah extinguished his cigarette and walked into the living room.
Theo just laughed at Noah’s remark and looked at the view from the balcony as he tried to contain his own arousal. He’d already showered and gotten dressed before going to Park N Shop, so he was only waiting for Noah.
Noah didn’t take long and fifteen minutes later they were both ready to leave the apartment. They arrived at the building where Theo’s parents lived with a few minutes to spare and Theo pressed on the button of his parents’ apartment on the intercom system.
“Theo? Is that you?” He heard his father’s voice ask.
“Yeah, dad. We’re here. Can you open the door?”
Theo heard the sound of the building door unlocking before his father’s voice said, “It should be open now.”
“Yep, we’re going in now. See you in a sec,” Theo opened the door and gestured for Noah to step in. They stepped into the elevator and Noah pressed on the button of his parents’ floor.
Noah still looked nervous, but he didn’t seem as panicked as he was when they talked earlier on the phone. Theo reached for Noah’s hand and held onto it, giving Noah a reassuring squeeze.
“You read me like a fucking book,” Noah nervously chuckled.
"You notice things if you pay attention,” Theo quoted a line from a Wong Kar-Wai movie he’d watched with Noah a few days prior.
“Isn’t that from that movie we watched the other day?” Noah asked.
“Yeah... But it’s true though,” Theo gave Noah a small smile.
“It is. I’ve also always paid attention to you. I noticed how nervous you were when we first met,” Noah smirked as he added, “After I saw you when I was on stage, I was hoping to bump into you after my shift. So when I saw you in the bathroom in my tipsy state, I couldn’t resist. I winked at you and I could tell you were blushing. I thought you were so cute. I really wanted to see what other reactions I could get out of you.”
Theo laughed as he recalled that night, “Unbeknownst to you, with that wink you cast a spell on me and I couldn’t stop thinking about you for weeks.”
“I’m glad I did though because I knew I wanted you the moment I laid my eyes on you when I was dancing on stage,” Noah admitted with a smile just as the elevator doors opened.
Theo smiled back before stepping out of the elevator, his hand still in Noah’s. They walked hand in hand to the door of Theo’s parents’ apartment before Theo rang the doorbell.
It didn’t take long for Nathan to open the door and greet both men with a warm smile as the comforting smell of Lily’s cooking wafted in the air, “Theo, come on in. Your mom is just finishing up in the kitchen.”
He hugged Theo before glancing at Noah, “And you must be Noah! I’ve heard so much about you!”
“Yeah, nice to meet you, Mr. Edwards,” Noah politely greeted Theo’s dad, seeming like a very different person from his usual blunt and laid-back self.
“Oh, please call me Nathan or Nate. No need to be so formal,” Nathan leaned in to give Noah a hug, which Noah found surprising. Although his own parents weren’t exactly formal, they weren’t as affectionate as Theo’s parents.
“Have the boys arrived?” A cheery voice asked from the kitchen.
“Mom, we’re here,” Theo responded.
His mom left the kitchen, a wooden spoon in her hand, and rushed to give Theo a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Mom, you just saw me last week.”
“One week is too long, you should drop by more often,” she playfully scolded her son before looking at the shy man standing next to Theo, “And is this your beau?”
“Mom, this is Noah. Noah, this is my mom,” Theo briefly introduced them.
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Edwards,” Noah greeted with a timid smile.
“Oh, Theo, he’s so precious! And so polite! Call me Lily,” she wrapped her arms around Noah and gave him an equally tight hug.
“Nice to meet you, Lily,” Noah corrected himself.
“We brought over the wine you asked,” Theo handed the bottle over to his mom.
“Thank you. Oh, Sauvignon Blanc?” Lily admired the bottle.
“I know it’s your favorite and it’s a special occasion,” Theo smiled at his mom.
“Aww, y’all are so sweet! Thank you,” Lily thanked Noah and Theo before calling her husband over, “Nate, Theo and Noah brought some Sauvignon Blanc! Can you open the bottle for later on?”
“Oh, Sauvignon Blanc? Theo, you spoil your mom too much,” Nathan said as he grabbed the bottle and looked at it.
“Shh, let him spoil me once in a while,” Lily playfully nudged her husband, who gave Theo and Noah and smirk before heading back into the living room.
“What are you cooking? It smells amazing!” Theo could almost drool at the smell.
“I made gumbo. Have you ever tasted gumbo, Noah?” Lily asked.
“No. What’s gumbo?” Noah seemed intrigued.
“It’s the most amazing dish ever and my mom makes the best gumbo,” Theo explained to Noah.
“I swear this boy only comes over for the food,” Lily raised an eyebrow at her son.
“You know I love you, mom,” Theo kissed his mom on the cheek.
“This time you’re forgiven because of the wine,” Lily winked at Noah.
Theo’s parents were just as Theo had described to Noah - very warm and welcoming, but Noah couldn’t help but still feel surprised, not being used to the Southern hospitality.
Some more voices were coming from the living room. “Do we have any other guests?” Theo asked his mom.
Lily gave Theo a knowing smirk, almost as if hiding a surprise, before saying “Why don’t you head into the living room to see?”
After her cryptic answer, she went back into the kitchen. Theo walked into the living room with Noah following after him and the voices grew louder before he finally recognized them. “Katie? Rob?”
“Surprise!” His sister got up from the couch and leaped into Theo’s arms, “Long time no see little bro.”
“When did you get here? Why didn’t you tell me?” Theo asked.
“Well, I wanted to surprise everyone, so I only told mom and dad yesterday when we landed and she invited us over for lunch,” Katie explained. She then noticed Noah standing next to Theo, “And you must be Noah. Theo couldn’t stop gushing about you when we FaceTimed!”
“Katie!” Theo whined as his cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
“Yeah, Theo also told me a lot about you,” Noah was slowly getting more comfortable around Theo’s family.
“Hopefully good things,” she smiled at Noah before stretching her arms out and offering a hug, which Noah accepted. Once Noah pulled back from the hug, Katie turned to her fiancé, Robert, and introduced him to Noah, “And this is my fiancé, Robert. Robbie, this is Theo’s boyfriend, Noah.”
“Nice to meet you, Noah,” Robert shook Noah’s hand, “And nice to see you again, Theo.”
“How was your trip here?” Theo asked as he shook Robert’s hand.
“Tiring, as per usual. And we’re so jetlagged we didn’t manage to sleep all night. We’ll probably head to the hotel to sleep right after lunch,” after Katie explained, Theo noticed that they both seemed more tired than usual.
“I can imagine. Will you be staying at a hotel the entire time?” Theo asked.
Katie shook her head, “Nah, we booked two nights at the Sheraton, but we’ll be checking out tomorrow and coming to stay here for the rest of our stay.”
“How long are you staying this time?” Theo asked.
“We’re here until the first week of August. We leave on the 3rd,” Robert answered, earning a pout from Katie.
“We couldn’t get any more days off, so we’ll not be here for too long,” Katie quickly shifted her mood though, “But until then, you guys are going to have to join us so we can get to know Noah!”
“I’d be glad to join you,” Noah said with a small smile.
“Yeah, Noah has shown me spots in Macau even I didn’t know,” Theo said beaming at Noah.
“That isn’t too hard. I was always the one dragging you around to different spots in Macau. If it weren’t for me, all you’d know is the house, TIS, and a bit of Taipa,” Katie laughed as she playfully teased Theo.
“That’s because you left before I went to university. Things changed a bit after that,” Theo retorted.
“Sure, little bro. Whatever you say. So, Noah, Theo told me you’re from Thailand. Whereabouts in Thailand?” Katie switched her attention to Noah.
“Bangkok, but my mom’s family is from Surat Thani in the south of Thailand, near Krabi,” Noah explained.
“Oh, we’ve been to Krabi, right dad?” Katie asked Nathan, who had just stepped out of the kitchen, carrying a large serving dish onto the table.
“Yeah, we traveled around that area one summer. Are you from Krabi, Noah?” Nathan asked.
“Surat Thani, it’s quite close to Krabi,” Noah said.
“Oh, yeah, we’ve been there but Theo was quite young at the time. I think he was like six or seven,” Nathan explained.
“Yeah, I don’t remember much about that trip,” Theo frowned a bit, wishing he could recall visiting the place where Noah’s family came from.
“Well, we can always go there again and I can show you around,” Noah nudged Theo and gave him a warm smile. He always knew how to say the right things.
“I’ll definitely take you up on the offer,” Theo said just as his mom stepped out of the kitchen carrying another serving dish.
“Lunch is ready!” She called everyone to the table and sat everyone down. Noah and Theo sat next to each other in front of Katie and Robert. Lily and Nathan sat at the ends of the table.
They all helped themselves to a bit of gumbo and rice before Nathan turned to Noah and asked, “So, Theo told us you’ve lived in Germany. My great grandmother was from Germany actually.”
“Oh really?” Noah was surprised to hear that as Theo had never mentioned.
“Yeah, her surname was actually Schmidt. I believe she was from...” Nathan looked up with his eyes closed, trying to recall the name of the city, “Oh, Mannheim, that’s it.”
“Mannheim? That’s not too far from Heidelberg where my dad is from! I’ve been there! It’s a nice town,” Noah smiled at Nathan.
“Oh, do you speak German?” Lily asked.
“Yeah, my dad taught me ever since I was a kid, but I moved to Germany when I was 16 to improve it and be able to study at a German university,” Noah explained.
“And you studied dancing, right?” Katie seemed particularly curious about it, “Theo told me you’re a great dancer!”
“Yeah, I studied contemporary dance in Berlin before moving back here,” Noah smiled and his eyes twinkled when he mentioned dance.
“Oh, right, Theo told us you first met at D2,” Lily said all of a sudden.
“Yeah, I was dancing there and I bumped into Noah after my performance. But we only really talked when we met one night by chance at Nam Van after my shift,” Noah said
“Yeah, he told us that he’d been thinking about going to D2 again that night to see you again. He couldn’t stop gushing about your performance,” Lily teased her son, making him blush in embarrassment.
“Mom!” He whined.
“Yeah, I’ve never seen Theo talking about a guy the way he talks about you. He was all shy and smiling like an idiot on FaceTime,” Katie joined in.
“And then you guys wonder why I haven’t brought Noah over until now,” Theo looked down, sulking as he ate. Noah was amused by the exchange that had just taken place, “Rob, are you sure you want to deal with her for the rest of your life?”
Robert laughed and said, “Well, I was sitting next to her when you FaceTimed once and she isn’t exactly wrong.”
“I can’t even count on you, Rob,” Theo went back to pretend that he was sulking.
Noah noticed that Theo was feeling embarrassed, so he leaned in and whispered to Theo, “It’s actually super cute that you did that.”
Theo looked at Noah and felt a bit less annoyed when he saw Noah’s beautiful smile.
“By the way, Theo wasn’t lying - this gumbo is delicious,” Noah said to Lily after eating half of his serving.
“Have some more! There’s more in the kitchen, so don’t be shy!” Lily warmly offered.
“Are you still working at D2?” Nathan asked.
“No, I quit my job there a few weeks ago. I had an interview two weeks ago at the House of the Dancing Water and I’m waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I also teach dance classes at the Macau Dance Factory,” Noah explained.
“Oh wow, that’s pretty cool! I’ve seen those performances at the House of the Dancing Water and they’re amazing, right Rob?” Katie enthusiastically said and Robert nodded his head in agreement, “I hope you get that job!”
“Thank you,” Noah smiled, “if you ever wanna try a dance class let me know. The first lesson is usually free, so you can get an idea before deciding to join a class.”
“Oh, yes, please! When do you teach?” Katie was always keen on trying new things.
“This week I teach every evening from 8 pm to 10 pm. Each class is an hour long. I also will teach two classes later on at 5 pm and 6 pm.”
“Oh, let me adjust to the time first but maybe next Saturday?” Katie thought out loud.
“Sure, just let me know,” Noah grinned.
Theo’s heart warmed at how easily Noah was getting along with his family. He could tell Noah still felt a bit shy but as the lunch progressed, he felt more and more comfortable around Theo’s family, laughing at their jokes, sharing some of his own stories, and making plans for future visits.
Katie and Robert had to leave after eating as they were feeling sleepy, but they promised to join Theo and Noah the next day for a walk around Taipa.
Theo and Noah stayed a bit longer to chat with Lily and Nathan after finishing their meals. Noah and Lily got along particularly well and Noah began relaxing and showing his more blunt and straightforward side, which Lily appreciated. Noah also shared some photos he’d taken in Mannheim with Nathan, whose eyes were sparkling as he saw the city his great grandmother was from and even suggested traveling to Germany with Lily after Katie’s wedding. Around half-past three, Noah noticed the time and realized he had to leave to still have time to head home and get some things and make it to his dance class on time.
“I have to get going now. I have to be in Tap Seac at five,” Noah got up from the couch followed by Theo.
“Noah, thank you so much for coming! It was lovely to meet you and you’re always welcome to come over for lunch and dinner!” Lily said as she gave Noah a tight hug.
“Thank you so much for having me. You have to teach me how to cook gumbo! It was super delicious!” Noah hugged Lily back just as tightly before pulling back.
“Sure thing! I tried to teach Theo, but he isn’t as patient in the kitchen,” Lily playfully teased Theo.
“In his defense, Theo does a decent steak and salad,” Noah smiled at Theo.
“He’s just like his dad,” Lily glanced at Nathan.
“I don’t know how to cook a lot of things, but I can definitely cook a mean steak,” Nathan agreed before hugging Noah, “It was lovely to meet you, Noah. Please come over again soon! I’d love to hear more of your stories from your trip around Europe!”
“I’ll definitely drop by soon!” Noah gave both of Theo’s parents a genuine smile.
“Thanks for the gumbo, mom,” Theo hugged Lily.
“Drop by this week if you have some time. I’m thinking of making some barbecue shrimp,” Lily said.
“Yes! I haven’t had that in a while!” Theo smiled before turning over to his dad, “Thank you for having us.”
“Thank you for coming over. It was lovely to finally meet Noah after hearing about him for weeks,” Nathan smiled at both men before they stepped out of the apartment and waved goodbye.
“I really like your family,” Noah said once they were in the elevator heading down.
“They really liked you too,” Theo gave Noah a toothy grin, feeling incredibly happy after having seen Noah getting along with his parents after lunch as if he’d known them for years.
“Your mom is hilarious,” Noah smirked at Theo.
“I told you you’d get along,” Theo raised an eyebrow at Noah, “And you were so nervous about meeting them.”
Noah chuckled, “I didn’t expect your parents to be so chill. Your sister is also pretty cool.”
“Yeah. It sucks that she lives so far away. When we were growing up, we were pretty close, but now she lives on the other side of the world and she’s getting married soon, so it feels like we are growing further and further apart,” Theo looked down.
“I guess that’s a part of life as you grow up. You end up building your own lives, just like your parents did when they moved here,” Noah uttered.
Theo smiled as he looked at Noah, “How did I meet such a wise man?”
“I charge ten patacas for each word of wisdom,” Noah smirked at Theo, an amused glimmer in his eyes.
“Oh, fuck off!” Theo laughed before leaning in close to Noah’s ear and whispering, “I’ll pay for your words of wisdom in bed later on.”
Before Noah had a chance to respond, the elevator doors opened and Theo stepped out with a smug and knowing grin on his face.
“You fucking tease,” Noah muttered under his breath, earning a chuckle from Theo.
They walked back home at a quick pace, as Noah didn’t have much time before his lesson at the dance school. When they got home, Noah’s phone started ringing.
Noah looked at the number and seemed confused by it before answering it, “Hello? Yes, it’s Noah Eichwald. Yes.”
Theo watched as Noah’s eyes widened in surprise at first and then Noah started pacing around the living room as he heard what the person on the phone was saying.
“Yes, I’m free to start as soon as possible. When? Next Thursday? Yes, I can be there. Thank you very much, Mr. Wong. I’ll see you on Thursday,” Noah hung up and looked at the phone in a daze for a moment.
“Who was it?” Theo had a feeling he knew what it was about, but he wanted to confirm it.
Noah looked up, tears of joy appearing in the corners of his eyes, “That was Mr. Wong, who is in charge of human resources at the House of the Dancing Water. He told me I got the job. I got the fucking job!”
A/N: The movie mentioned in this chapter is “In the mood for love” by Wong Kar-Wai. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it! It’s a masterpiece.