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    Ethan
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Noah and Jordan - 12. Chapter Twelve

*** NOAH ***

Fate in all its cruelty.
Teasing our desires,
Toying with our emotions,
Torturing our souls ...
Allowing us to believe.
Believe that dream,
Just a touch away,
Is within our grasp.
Yet as we move,
As we dare to hope,
It fades away.
And darkness,
Returns.

Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think anything would happen. That a night like this would even be possible. I don’t even really believe it just happened. Jordan kissed me. He actually kissed me. And then he said he wanted to be with me. It seems too bizarre to even be true. And yet it is.

Every fibre of my body is screaming at me to turn back around, to run right back into his arms. To kiss him again. But I can’t. I have to walk away. I have to leave the guy who has captivated my thoughts, fueled my desires, taken refuge in my dreams. Whose smile melts my heart. I have to walk away. I have no choice. His feelings aren’t real. None of this is real. It may be fun at first. But it will only end in pain and heartache. Everything will just end in pain and heartache.

I don’t even know who I can trust anymore. Is Jordan real? Or is he too just playing with my emotions. I don’t know. And I don’t want to know. I can’t do this again. I don’t have the strength to do this again, to be betrayed again. I can’t let myself get hurt. I have to be smart.

Then there’s Jenn. I betrayed her trust. I should have walked away sooner. I shouldn’t have let Jordan kiss me again. I should have pushed him away. I should have … but I didn’t. For just a second, just one stupid second, I was weak. I let my emotions get ahead of me and I kissed him back. I just … in that moment I felt good about myself. I felt wanted, like I actually mattered. I should have known better. I should have known I don’t matter. I shouldn’t have been so selfish.

How can I now show my face to Jenn? How do I tell her I let her boyfriend kiss me, and that I kissed him back? She’ll never trust me again. And like everything, I will lose her too.

When I arrive home, I throw myself onto my bed and let go of everything I’ve been holding inside of me, everything I’ve tried to ignore, and I cry. I didn’t cry the night I left Sebastian’s house. I was too consumed with anger. But this is different.

It’s all sort of cruel. If this was any other night, under any other circumstances, right now I’d be dancing with joy. I would be thrilled. For the past few weeks all I’ve wanted was for Jordan to look at me the way I look at him. For him to want to kiss me just as badly as I’ve wanted to kiss him. Tonight, he did look at me that way. Tonight, he did kiss me. It all surpassed even my wildest dreams. I should be happy. I should be thrilled. And yet, here I am, tears running down my cheeks. Here I am, in bed, crying, broken and defeated.

——— 

I'm not sure what time I actually fell asleep. I wake up feeling groggy and tired. I make myself a cup of tea, and then jump into the shower. Maybe a nice warm shower will cleanse my body, soothe my soul. As the warm water washes over me, my mind begins to drift back to last night. I remember how it felt to finally be in Jordan’s arms. The warmth from his body. How it felt to have him kiss me. The feel of his lips. But the moment doesn’t last. I’m brought back to reality by an awful banging sound. I turn off the tap, hop out of the shower, and walk over to the washroom door.

Hello? I yell.

“Noah! Open this god-damn door right now!” Jenn yells back.

Shit. Jenn.

Ah, I'm just in the shower. Give me two seconds, k?

Hurry up!

Crap! What the hell is she doing here so early? I quickly dry myself off. I run to my room and grab some clean clothes.

“Any day now!” Jenn yells from the hallway.

Coming!”

NOAH!

Shit. I'm here, I'm here,” I say as I open the door. Wow. She looks pissed. Hi. If her eyes were daggers, I would have been bludgeoned to death by now. That is one intense stare. “Do you want to come in?”

She huffs, and walks past me. This is not going to be fun. I close the door and turn around.

“You look really pretty this morning,” I say. I have to at least try. Silence. “So … how are you?”

“I want to kick the fucking crap out of you right now! Thats how I am!”

“I’m glad you’re well,” I say calmly.

“Where the fuck were you for the last two days!?”

“I was here. I just kind of lost track of time and

“Bullshit. I came to your apartment. You were not here. Or, you were here and you just decided not to open the door. Which is it? It better not be the second part.

I’m actually scared of her right now. “I did leave my apartment at times. I just kind of lost track of time. I wasn’t feeling too good

She cuts me off. “You look absolutely fine. I tried calling you. Nothing. I texted you. Again, nothing. You could have called or texted me back! I freaked out when you didn’t show up to class. I looked everywhere, EVERYWHERE that I could think of. I even called your mom. Jordan checked with local hospitals. I thought something happened to you. I thought you were dead,” she yells. For the first time I see something I’ve never seen before. Jenn begins to cry. I’ve never seen her this emotional before. “I thought I lost you forever. I was about to go fucking file a fucking police report! And then you turn up on campus. Did you not think people might be worried about you? I can’t believe you would be so selfish.”

Oh shit. I really screwed up. “I’m so sorry, Jenn. I never meant to cause you so much trouble and pain. Honestly, you have to believe me, I didn’t realize that you’d be this upset. I was selfish. You’re right. But it wasn’t because I don’t care about you. Something happened …” I might as well tell her. “Something happened between me and Sebastian.”

As soon as those words leave my lips her expression changes from anger to concern. “What do you mean something happened?”

“We should sit down. She had been pacing back and forth while on her rant. We broke up.

“I’m sorry, Noah. You should have told me. It doesn’t mean you should just disappear!”

“You’re right. I didn’t say anything because I was ashamed. He wasn't the guy I thought he was. When I found out the truth, I realized that I had made a huge mistake.”

“What exactly happened?”

I tell her about my night with Sebastian and how determined he was to have sex. I don’t tell her all of the details, or just how forceful he was. If I did, I fear Jenn would go after him with a bat. But I do tell her how he admitted he was sleeping with other guys, and how he lied about Jordan. How all he wanted from me was sex. How he thinks I’m worthless.

“So, I quickly grabbed my stuff and ran as fast as I could,” I say.

Fuck. Oh, Noah,” she says giving me a hug. “I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve any of that. Sebastian is a fucking asshole! I’m going to beat the living shit out of him. Are you okay?”

“I think so.

“You don’t have to be strong for me. It’s okay if you’re not.”

“I’m a lot better now. I’m just confused. I don’t understand why. Why would Sebastian go to so much effort to lie to me, to get close to me, just to sleep with me? He said so himself he was sleeping with other guys, that he could easily find someone else, so why me? Why be so forceful with me?”

“I don’t know, Noah. Sometimes people are just awful humans. I wish I had a better answer.”

So do I. I just should have known better. Guys like that don’t date guys like me.”

“What do you mean a guy like that? You mean a fucking asshole? He doesn’t deserve you. You are so much better than him in every possible way! He was the fool to think a guy like you would go for a douchebag like him. Honestly, I’m so angry I want to break something.”

For the first time I smile as I move my glass bowl on the table away from her. “I’m just going to put this over here, out of your reach.”

“You're allowed to be angry too, Noah!”

“I am. Or I was. I’ll never forgive Sebastian for the way he acted. Or for how he treated me. But I also don’t want to hold on to the anger that I felt that night. It was suffocating. It’s not healthy. It was weighing me down. And in the end if I stay angry, he wins. He wins if I let this consume my life, or change who I am. And no, I refuse to let that happen. I’m going to learn from my mistakes, I’m going to be smart, and I’m going to move on.”

“I agree you shouldn’t let this consume you, or change who you are. But sometimes you need to work through your emotions. You can always talk to me. But maybe you should see someone?”

I grab hold of Jenn’s hand and smile. “Honestly, Jenn, Im okay. But if that changes, and I too want to break something, I promise, I’ll call you, okay? We can break stuff together. Preferably at your house because your stuff isn’t as nice as my stuff.

Deal.”

We talk for a while longer. Jenn doesn't believe me that I am okay. But I honestly do feel better. Am I back to normal? No. It will take more time. But I did mean what I said about letting go of that anger inside of my soul. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want this to define who I am. I’m stronger than others realize.

“Im really sorry for not telling you earlier,” I say to Jenn. “I understand if you’re still angry at me.”

“It's not that I'm angry, well okay, I am … It’s just I thought something terrible happened to you. I thought maybe you were gone from my life forever. And the thought of that … honestly, Noah, it scared the shit out of me. I just can’t picture my life now without you. Who would keep me sane?”

“If it was my job to keep you sane, then clearly, I’ve failed.”

“Promise me you’ll never disappear like that again?”

“I promise.”

“And that you’ll call me if you ever need help.”

“I will, Jenn.”

“I know everything right now seems awful, and I’m not trying to say what happened isn’t, but in a way, there is one good thing that came out of all of this: you came out to me.”

“I did. Even though he turned out to be an ass, Sebastian did help me confront a part of my life that I was hiding for too long. But it doesn’t really matter. Clearly, I’m not ready for any of this. It was all a mistake. I ruined everything.”

You didn’t ruin anything. The ass ruined everything. And I think you should be proud of just how much you’ve grown in the past few weeks. I think you finally know what you want. That doesn’t mean you have to rush and jump right back in. Take your time. Recover from all of this. And then we can figure it out together, okay?”

“Okay.”

Jenn is a phenomenal friend. She deserves better than me. I should tell her the truth, tell her what happened last night with Jordan. He kissed me. I kissed him. But I can't bring myself to do it. I can't break her heart. It was a one-time thing and it will never happen again.


*** JORDAN ***

The sour sting of rejection vibrates deep within my core. I went for it. Despite my fears, I knew what I wanted, and went for it. I put everything on the line. Yet, I was shot down. Rejected.

I would have understood if he wasn’t interested in me. Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he also has to like me that way. I would have been crushed, but I would have understood. But that’s not the case. He likes me. He really likes me. There was no denying it. From the way he held onto me, the way he kissed me. But, still, he rejected me.

Maybe Noah’s right. Maybe I don't know what I’m doing. Maybe this is all just one stupid mistake. I’m not even sure I can be gay. He was right when he dismissed my argument that we don’t need labels. We live in a world where everything is labeled. And I’m not sure I can be labeled as gay. I don’t want the uncertainty of people judging me, of them throwing me out of their life. I'm not sure I can handle being rejected by the people I love.

But that said, if that means I get to be with Noah, then it’s worth the risk. It’s worth it if I get a chance to explore a part of my life that I didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago. It’s worth it if I get to be with him.

It doesn’t really even matter though how I feel. He said no and there really isn’t anything I can do. I can’t force him to say yes. I can’t force him to want to be with me. I have a feeling he’s not easily going to change his mind. I honestly don’t know what to do.

I spend the day trying to be productive. I fail, miserably. All I do is just sit on my bed and think about Noah. I know I should study. Midterms start this week. But I barely look at my books. At night I go to work for a couple of hours. Now that my foot is better, I’m back working at the grocery store. I have to say I’m also quite unproductive at work too.

It would help if I had someone to talk to, someone who can give me advice. I can’t talk to John or Caleb. They won’t understand. I don’t want to talk to anyone here either. They’ll ask too many questions. That’s when I remember Aiden. It’s night here, which means it should be morning in Australia. No harm in trying. I call him on FaceTime.

“Hey, Jordan!”

“Aiden! How are you?” I’m so happy to see his face!

“I’m good! I’m surprised to hear from you. You never call.”

“Yeah, I know. I thought I would see if you got back okay.”

Yeah, I got back a few days ago. Still a bit jet-lagged. The flight is way too long. How are things with you?”

“They’re okay. Just rolling along.”

We talk for a while. I want him to bring up that other ‘girl’ I mentioned last time. But he doesn’t. Instead it feels like he is about to bring this conversation to an end. I’ll have to bring it up myself.

“So, do you remember how I told you about that other girl … the one I wanted to be with but it was complicated?”

“Yeah, yeah, cryptic girl, sure. You finally man up and do something?”

“I did. I kissed her.”

“Finally! Took you long enough.”

“Yeah, but it didn’t go so well …”

“Do you not know how to kiss a girl?”

“Screw you. I know how to kiss a girl! I’m a better kisser than you! The kiss was fine! It was great, actually. But when I asked her out, she said no.”

“Oh. That sucks. Sorry, man. Did she say why? Didn’t you say she has a boyfriend?”

“Turns out they broke up. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I don’t think it ended well. I think he was cheating on her, so she has some trust issues at the moment.”

“That’s fair.”

“Plus, I’m still dating her best friend.”

Yeah, I’m starting to see why she said no. You’re such an idiot. Why didn’t you break up with the other girl before?”

“Because I didn’t have the time. It was sort of impulsive. I just decided on the spot to kiss her.

“So then now what are you going to do?” Aiden asks.

“I don’t know. I tried talking to her. But she wouldn’t change her mind.”

“You may be out of luck, dude.”

I thought so too … but then I kissed her again, and she kissed me back.”

“She kissed you back?”

“Yeah. And she was really into it.”

Well, then she probably likes you too.”

“She admitted as much, I say.

“Wait, she told you that she likes you?

“Yeah. She really likes me.”

“Then I say fight for her. I know the friend thing can get ugly, but if this other girl is really her best friend, she should understand.”

I don't know Aiden ... if you stole a girlfriend from me, I think I would be pretty pissed.

“What the hell are you talking about? Do you not remember Emily Grant in Grade 11?”

“That's not the same thing …” I say.

You knew I liked her.

“Yeah, but you weren't dating.

“You knew I was about to ask her out,” Aiden says.

Is there a point here?

“My point is I'm still your friend.”

Yeah, not a really good one. And the circumstances are really different …”

Jordan, what do you really want?

To be with her.”

Then fuck it all! You're not one to quit, never have been. You're a stubborn jackass. Trust me, I know.

Thanks, I guess.

You know what I mean. There has to be a way. You're a creative guy. And her friend will get over it.

It might be over.”

“It's your life. Just don't come whining to me when you’re a horny 90-year-old wrinkled lonely man.

I can't guarantee anything.

“That's my opinion. The rest is up to you.

“Okay, so what would you do? How would you get her to trust you?”

“Well, first, I would break up with her friend. And second, I would try to find a way to remind her of what attracted her to me in the first place. You have to find a way for her to trust you. You need to show her you’re not like her other boyfriend, that you wouldn’t cheat on her. You know her better than I do. Think of what brought you two together in the first place, and build on that.”

“You’re not so bad at this whole advice-giving thing,” I say.

“It’s just one of the many perks of being my friend. But for now mate, I have to run. Let me know how it goes.”

Did you just call me mate?

“Yeah. So?"

“Nothing. Talk to you later. Don’t get kicked by a kangaroo.”

“Right, because they just randomly kick people here. You stay away from those geese; they’re after you, dumb ass. Bye!”

“Bye, Aiden.”

Okay. That makes sense. I just need to find a way to convince Noah that he can trust me. That shouldn’t be too hard. Right? Right? Dammit. I’m screwed.

——— 

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I was awake trying to come up with a plan, a plan to win Noah back. It’s not perfect. It’s actually kind of crazy. The first part takes Noah out of his comfort zone. I know that sounds counterproductive. I should be trying to make him feel comfortable. But if I do that, he may realize my plan (he’ll probably realize anyway), and say no. If it’s something he doesn’t expect, he may be more open to it.

Step one – calling Noah.

The phone rings for quite some time. He could still be sleeping. It’s only 7 in the morning on a Sunday! I should be sleeping! I’m just about to hang up when he answers.

“Hello?

“Morning, Noah. I hope I didn’t wake you.” I’m pretty sure he wakes up early.

“No, I was up. But I’m surprised to be hearing from you this early. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything is fine.”

“Okay. What’s up?” His voice is neutral. He doesn’t sound sad, angry, or happy to hear from me. He’s perhaps a bit curious because of the time of day.

“I actually was about to go for a run outside on the school track, and I was hoping you would join me.”

“Um, why?”

“What do you mean why? Because exercising is good for you. And you always say you need someone to motivate you to work out. So, here I am motivating you to work out.” It’s true he did say that before.

Yeah, I’m not really much of a runner.”

“So? I wasn’t either. I started going before I hurt my foot and I actually really enjoyed myself. Now that my foot is better I thought I would try again.”

“Yeah, that’s okay. I think I’m going to pass. But thank you.”

“Noah, I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“I’m really out of shape. I don’t want to slow you down. Plus, it’s kind of cold outside.”

“Dude, one, it is not cold outside. And two, I’m out of shape too. We can struggle together. It's always better when you have a friend suffering with you.”

Jordan I know what you’re trying to do. This is really about what happened on Friday, isn’t it? I told you already —”

I knew he would bring that up. But I have a plan.

I cut him off. “It’s just about getting out of the house, exercising, getting some fresh air, and maybe, just maybe, having a little bit of fun. And yes, to be honest, it’s about Friday. You’ve always been there for me when I was down. Now it’s my turn to help you. As your friend, I owe you this.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

“I do. I know you said it’s not my fault what happened, but it is. And I’m not going to be okay until I know you’re okay. So, let me make it up to you. Let me help you.

“You don’t have to make up for anything.”

“Fine, then just come for a run. What do you have to lose? Well, besides a few calories.”

“What about the other thing that happened on Friday?” He’s referring to your kiss.

“I promise I will be on my best behaviour. I won’t bring that up again. We’re meeting as friends. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

He doesn’t answer right away. That’s a good sign! Usually when Noah pauses it means he is trying to say no, but can’t find a reason to.

“Fine. I’ll see you there in half-an-hour. But we’re only doing one lap. And we’re going to run slow … or maybe just walk.”

“Or maybe just crawl?” I ask sarcastically.

“Maybe,” he says.

“Alright. See you then.”

YES! Part one of my plan is a go. I didn’t think it would actually work. Okay, don’t screw this up now Jordan!

*** NOAH ***

I don’t know why I said yes. I don’t even like to run. I kind of actually hate it. Yet, I still agreed. I know what Jordan is trying to do. But it won’t work. I’m not going to change my mind. Rather, I think I need to help him change his mind, help him see reality. He’s not gay. He doesn’t want to be with me. He’ll realize that eventually. Perhaps I just need to help nudge him in the right direction, before he does something really stupid.

Jordan is already there stretching when I arrive. When he sees me he gives me the biggest smile. Oh, that smile.

“You made it!” he says.

“Yeah. I’m here, ready to make a fool of myself.”

“Oh, you’ll be okay. We’ll start slow. Jog for a bit. Get warmed up. You ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

At first, it’s actually not too bad. I make it around the entire track. Jordan yells out encouragements the entire way. Walks funny. Does weird lunges. Runs backwards. He also makes silly jokes. I tell him to stop. I can barely breath while running; it is so much harder when I’m laughing! I forgot how goofy he can be.

“See, you got this,” Jordan says again with the same wide smile.

In the second lap we start to pick up some speed. That’s when I realize just how out of shape I am. I’m out of breath in no time. By the fourth lap I start to slow down and fall back. Jordan tries to encourage me to keep going, but when he realizes I’m done, he slows down too.

“You go,” I say breathlessly.

“We’re a team. I’m not going to ditch you,” he says as we slow down basically to walking speed.

“Sorry, I’m in such bad shape,” I say.

“You’re fine. It just takes time to get back into a routine,” he replies.

“Okay, I got this,” I say as I try to be heroic and pick up speed. It lasts for maybe half a lap.

“It’s not a race,” Jordan says, “we can take our time.”

“God, I’m really hot,” my face is flush. Wearing layers was not a good idea.

“Yeah, probably not a good idea to wear thick sweatpants,” he says.

“I was cold.”

“And whose sweatpants are those? They’re like ten times your size!”

“They’re just a little loose,” I say. “And you’re one to talk. You’re literally wearing skin tight pants!”

“They’re running pants! And they’re not skin tight. They’re meant to be fitted.”

“Sure. You need to stop shopping at stores for tweens,” I say. “There are adult clothing stores you know.”

I had no idea. Maybe one day you can take me to one of these magical stores.” Again, there is that smile. “We’re almost back at our stuff. We can stop to grab some water.”

“Okay.” My lungs are burning. My legs, aching. Drinking water helps. “Alright, I’m good.”

“You sure? We can rest for a bit.”

“No, no, I don’t want to ruin your run. I’m okay.”

“How about we just walk the last lap,” he says.

YES! “Thanks.”

We start to walk in silence. There is so much I want to say to Jordan. But I don’t know where to start. How do I convince him he’s not gay? Though after seeing him literally prance like a gazelle earlier, I’m not sure he was ever straight.

“So, um, I wanted to tell you this in person first,” Jordan starts, but I’m going to break up with Jenn.”

Shit. I was afraid of this. “If this is because of Friday —”

“No,” he says cutting me off. “Well, partly. Jenn is a great girl, but if my heart is not fully in the relationship than I’m not sure its fair to her.”

“But you’ve only been on like one date. Give it some time,” I say. I don’t want him to break up with her. Being with Jenn will remind him that he likes girls!

“I don’t think anything is going to change,” he says.

“Just give it some more time. Think about it for a few days before you make a decision. For me, please.”

Fine. If you say so.”

“Plus, Jenn has a really hard midterm on Tuesday and she’s already really stressed, so it would be good if you don’t say anything before that.”

That’s fine. I won’t.”

Silence again. Neither of us says anything as we continue to walk around the track.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” he says as we finish our final lap.

“Surprisingly, no. It was actually really nice. Just what I needed. Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank your friends,” he says.

I don’t know if he does it on purpose, or absent mindedly. But Jordan takes the edge of his shirt, lifts it up, and wipes the sweat off of his forehead, before slowly letting it fall back down. For a brief moment though he exposes his torso, showing off his taut abs. Damn! I’ve always wondered what was under that shirt. Now I know. And wow. I quickly look away.

“Alright, I’m going to head home. I’ll see you around,” I say.

“Before you go … I was thinking … do you want to get together to study for our English midterm?”

Why are you making this so difficult!

“I can’t. I have to study for one of my history classes. The test is Tuesday, the same one Jenn is taking, that I told you about.”

“Oh, right. How about after your test on Tuesday?”

“I don’t know, Jordan.”

“Look, I was just going over my English notes ahead of the midterm, and realized I’m missing some days. And I know you missed class on Friday, so I thought you might need my notes. We can swap notes.”

“Sure, let me know what days you’re missing and I can take a pic and send them to you. If you could send me Friday’s notes that would be great.”

“Or, crazy idea, we could just meet and study together. Just as friends. I was good today. I didn’t say anything. Plus, I could really use your help with all of this stuff. I’m a bit confused. An hour tops. We can meet at this really cool coffee shop I discovered. I think you’ll like it. What do you say?”

Oh God, it’s so hard to say no when he looks at me that way. He was good today. Plus, I didn’t really convince him he isn’t gay. I kind of failed on that front.

“Fine. An hour. I’ll see you Tuesday.”

*** JORDAN ***

Well, that went much better than I planned! The idea was to just hang out with Noah. Do something fun, and different. Distract him from everything that’s going on inside of his head. Remind him why he likes hanging out with me. Remind him why we became friends. And, just to keep things interesting, give him a sneak peek of what he can expect if we got together. I tried to be really subtle when I pulled up my shirt. I had to wait for the perfect moment when I knew he would notice. I just figured, flaunt the assets that you have, right? I saw him looking at me. I saw his face. He so liked what he saw.

Now, moving on to phase two. Again, the idea is to hang out with Noah. But now I need to dig just a bit deeper, and try to find a way to convince him my feelings are real. This part is going to be tricky. But I can do it. I’m just waiting for Noah at the coffee shop so we can study for our English midterm.

“How are your legs?” I say to Noah when he arrives.

“A bit sore,” he says. “Why is it that when I hang out with you I either have bruised arms, or sore legs?”

“Because you’re fragile,” I say. “But don’t worry I’ll toughen you up.”

“Or I just need to hang out with people who aren’t crazy,” he says.

“Crazy is where all the fun is at,” I reply.

We go grab some drinks. They have a lot of funky and creative creations. I had a feeling Noah would like it. And he does.

“This place is great,” he says as we sit down.

“Yeah. It’s quirky. Just like you.

“Says the guy who pranced around a track.”

“God gave me long, graceful legs. It would be a crime not to use them,” I say laughing. “So, how was your midterm?”

“Brutal. It was really hard. It's not that the questions were hard, it’s that it was long. I had to write really fast. My hand was hurting. The last page honestly just looked like chicken scratch.”

“I’m sure you did well and made the nerd inside of you proud,” I say.

“I’ve gotten bad grades before, you know,” he responds.

“Really? What’s the worst mark you’ve ever gotten in university?”

“An A minus …”

“Wow, how horrible. Honestly, I hate you.”

“What about you?” Noah asks.

“That would be a B plus.”

“That's not too bad,” he says.

“Yeah, whatever, nerd.”

“Well we should study so that you do well tomorrow on the English test. You wouldn’t want another B plus.”

For the next while we actually study. I know how serious Noah is about school and I don’t want to screw that up. Besides, I need to study as well! We go over some of the books we read, the themes we covered.

“You clearly know all of this,” Noah says to me at one point. “You don’t need my help.”

“Yeah, but it’s good to bounce ideas off of another person,” I say.

“Well, I think you’ll be fine tomorrow.”

“I hope so!” I say as I start to pack up my books. “You know I only give you a hard time about being a nerd, right? I actually think that’s the coolest thing about you.”

“I know. Nerds are cool. And you’re not that different! You may act like you’re not serious about studying, but you clearly are. Heaven forbid you ruin your image, right?

“Exactly! You get it. But seriously, that’s what really drew me towards you. And when I think back, I think that’s when it all started.” Time to seduce Noah.

“What started?” he asks confused.

“My feelings for you.”

“Jordan, I thought we agreed we wouldn’t —”

“I said I wouldn’t say anything on Sunday. And I didn’t. But aren’t you kind of curious? Curious to know how it all happened? How you turned me?

He doesn’t say anything right away, so I continue.

“I make friends pretty easily, but with you it was different right from the start. It was always so easy to talk to you. You took me to the hospital. You brought over food even though you hadn’t eaten yourself. You give so much without ever asking for anything in return. Then getting to know you in English class, I realized you have a great personality that you hide. I love your humour; it's a bit dark and sarcastic, but it's very you. I always felt I could be myself around you, free to be as goofy as I want to be. I don’t just prance in front of anyone. And that made me feel good inside. And then I started having dreams with you in them …” Now it’s time to draw him in.

“What kind of dreams?” I can tell I’ve piqued his curiosity.

“Uh, well, x-rated dreams actually …” I pause to let that sink in.

“What does that mean?”

“It started when I came over to your place to discuss the book. We were talking about sexuality. That night I had a pretty vivid dream. I pictured you and me together in a very intimate way. Then I had another dream. And another. And every time the dream became more intense. The night I saw you kiss Sebastian, I went home and I had a dream that I was kissing you instead. And I was seriously aroused … so much so that I … you know. This continued for a while. And when I started having those dreams I started freaking out. I was really confused as to what was going on. That's part of the reason why I started dating Jenn. That’s also the reason why I went back home for Thanksgiving … I just needed to sort through everything. But as the weeks went on, I knew I had feelings for you. And then the night I thought I lost you, I realized just how much you mean to me. And the rest you know.”

“And are you still having those dreams?”

No. I actually haven’t had one for a few days now.”

I guess you got over it. It was just a phase. You’ll move on.”

Oh, Noah. We’ll see, I guess. But that doesn’t matter. Right now, I’m here for you as a friend. Your study buddy.”

“Jordan, we can be friends … but you have to let all of that go. You can’t tell me all of that. Otherwise, it’s not going to work.”

“I understand. But I’m sure you know it’s not easy. I’ll try.” I’m so not letting anything go.

I get that. So …” He just looks at me. Clearly, he wants to say something.

So?

“Does that mean you’re going to break up with Jenn ... or are you going to try to make it work?”

“You know how I feel. I was just waiting, like you asked.”

“She really is a good girl, Jordan.”

“I know.”

“And you could be happy together.”

“I didn’t say we couldn’t be,” I respond. Time to change the subject. “Can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. But what happened between you and Sebastian?”

“Nothing,” he says staring into his cup. We broke up.”

“I get breaks up suck, trust me I’ve been dumped before. But you’re not like most people. You’re surprisingly strong and resilient. Yet you disappeared for two days. That’s not like you. Something happened and it really affected you.”

“It’s in the past now.”

“I have a feeling he cheated on you.”

“He did.”

“He’s an ass for doing that. Clearly, he didn’t realize how lucky he was to have you. Did he hurt you … physically?”

Noah looks up at me. He’s trying to be strong, I can tell. But his eyes, they tell a different story. “No.”

“Youre lying. He did hurt you.” That fucking ass.

“Not physically … emotionally, yes.”

“I’m really sorry, Noah.”

“It’s okay. It’s not your fault. And besides, as you said, I’m a pretty strong guy. I’ll be okay.”

“Look, I don’t know what exactly happened. If you ever want to tell me then I’ll be here for you. But I do want to tell you Noah, I would never hurt you, physically or emotionally. I will always be here for you as a friend. I hope you know that.”

“I do. Thank you, Jordan. Anyway, I should get going. I have a lot of work to do.

“Of course. See you tomorrow.”

I’m not sure if I can call that a success or a failure. But I think I did make some progress. I just needed to plant an idea in his head. Now I just have to wait and see if it takes hold.

*** NOAH ***

It was a bad idea hanging out with Jordan again. Instead of me convincing him that he’s not gay, he’s convincing me that he is! He’s drawing me in. And like the fool that I am I’m letting myself be drawn in. But I can’t because I know how it will end. I have to be strong.

I need to spend all my time, energy, and focus on school. I feel so unprepared. I barely studied for my last exam. My mind was just so consumed by a million thoughts. I have my next exam, my English test, in a few minutes. I need to focus on that. It doesn’t help that Jordan will be there too. I just have to power through. I can do this.

I purposely arrive just before class starts. I don’t want to run into Jordan again. I sit at the front. I focus on my exam, and when I’m done, I hand it in and walk out of the classroom. I’ve seen enough of Jordan for a week. I need to keep my distance.

Of course, he actually finished before me and is waiting in the hall. Great.

“Hey, how did it go?” he asks, his signature smile plastered across his face.

Is he always happy? “I thought it went well. Easier than I expected.”

“Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. I thought it was going to be much worse. Which way are you going?” he asks.

“To the student centre to meet Jenn.”

“Oh, I’m headed that way too. I’ll walk with you.”

Great. My plan of avoiding Jordan clearly isn’t going to work. I can’t say I don’t want to walk with him. That would be rude. We talk primarily about the exam. As we approach the student centre, I notice Jenn. She is waiting outside on a bench. The three of us make small talk for a few minutes. I wish Jordan would just leave.

“It’s good we’re all here together. I actually have a question I think you two can help me answer, Jordan says.

Great. I have a feeling he’s up to something again.

“What's up?” Jenn asks.

“Alright, so you know my friend John, right? Well, we had a little bit of a disagreement, and I wanted your opinions. I was arguing that if you truly are someone’s best friend than you would give up something that makes you happy, in order for them to be happy. That’s what friends do, right?”

Yeah. I know what he’s trying to do.

“Yes, but it depends,” Jenn says. “What exactly are you being asked to give up?”

“It’s hypothetical,” he says. “Like, if there was something that you had Jenn, that you knew would make Noah really happy, would you not give it to him?”

“I don’t know, probably,” she replies. “It helps to know what this object is.”

Time to play devil’s advocate. “Wait. Why does one friend have to give something up?” I ask. “If this object also makes Jenn happy, why should I take that away from her? Why does my happiness trump her happiness? How am I a better friend?”

“True, my happiness matters too,” she laughs.

“That’s a fair point,” Jordan says. I guess what I mean is that sometimes as a best friend you make a personal sacrifice to make those around you happy. That’s part of being a friend. Right?

“I agree, it is. In terms of us, I know I’ll be alright, but this guy,” she says patting me on the shoulder, “he is the way he is. He needs all the help he can get. And I know if the tables were turned, he would do the same for me.”

“That's the thing Jordan, in a friendship sometimes you win,” I look directly at him, “and sometimes you lose.”

“Fair point,” he says. “Thanks guys.”

“I hope that helped,” Jenn says.

“It did. Also, I wanted to ask you Jenn, are you free tonight. I was thinking we could hang out?”

“Sure,” she says. “That works for me.”

I guess he decided to make it work with her after all. Good for him. I knew he would eventually realize he’s not gay. After they firm up their plan Jordan leaves. Finally.

*** JORDAN ***

There comes a time in your life when you have to make a choice. The status quo is not an option. You either go for it, or let it all go. I can try again with Noah, or I can take his advice, focus on Jenn, try to be straight.

If I fight for Noah, I will be going for something my heart wants, but my mind fears. It won't be easy, but I'll have a chance at being happy inside. It will make life so much more difficult. But if I have Noah by my side, does it really matter? That is of course if I can convince him to be with me.

The other option: Jenn. She's a great girl. I can learn to be happy with her. She's safe. Life with her is easy and drama free, well it's Jenn, so maybe not drama free. But I won’t have to face the same challenges that I will if I go with Noah.

Tonight's the night I take action. I can't keep dragging Jenn along if I am not interested. I can't keep going through these feelings with Noah; I will drive myself crazy. Tonight is the night. There is no looking back. Whichever path I chose will be my destiny no matter what. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and exhale.

I know where I have to go.

As I walk my heart jumps wildly inside my rib cage. I’m nervous. As the building comes into view I start to have doubts. No. Push them aside. This is it. Within moments I am there. I make my way inside and find the apartment. This is it. I knock on the door and step back. It opens.

Hey, Jordan.

Hi, Jenn.

Come on in.

Thanks.

This is the right thing to do. No backing out now. I just have to stick with my decision.

“I’ll be ready in a moment,” she says.

Um, actually, I was wondering if we could talk first.

Okay.” A look of concern creeps across her face. About what?

Okay, just do this. I have to. It's the right thing to do. It's only fair. The problem is my mouth is dry. I think there is more moisture in a desert.

Jenn, I think you're an amazing person.

“Okay …”

“But … I’m sorry. I don't think we should see each other anymore. I don't look at her directly. I feel too guilty to look her in the eyes. I’m a horrible person.

You're breaking up with me?

I know this sounds like a line, but it really is me. I'm just not at the right place in my life right now. I don't think it would be fair to you if I drag you along.

You're really breaking up with me. I don't understand, I thought things were going well between us?

They are … they were. I hope in the future I can explain all of this to you. I promise one day I will. I can't right now, but I will. I think then you’ll understand.

Does this have something to do with Noah?

Shit. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Did I say fuck yet? If not, FUCK!

“Jenn, this is about me.

“I don't understand. I ...” she takes a deep breath. You know what, that’s fine. If you feel that way then there is nothing left to say.”

I hope we can still be friends Jenn, I really, really do.

Right now I don't really want to see your face.”

I completely understand that,” I say backing up towards the door. “I’m going to go. Again, I'm sorry, Jenn.

When the door shuts behind me I let out a big sigh. I feel like a horrible person, the worst person, but I've made my choice. I had to do this. I had to break up with her first. It was the right thing to do. In the future, she will understand. I really hope she will.

I don't have much time. I have to get to my next destination before she calls him. That could ruin things. I start to run - and I mean run - cross the city. I only have to go a few blocks. I dart in and out of traffic. I almost get hit once; I need to be more careful. I just need to get there, now.

I see his building and run up the stairs; there is no time for the elevator. By the time I am upstairs I am huffing like never before. I am out of breath. I try to relax but my heart is going a mile a minute.

This is it. I put it all out there once before. Here goes try number two.

I knock on the door and step back. It opens.

Jordan …” He looks surprised.

I hold my phone out in front of him.

“Say the word and I’ll tell everyone. I’ll change my Facebook status right now, I’ll message John, my mom. I’ll tell everyone any anyone that I’m gay. That I like you. If that’s what it takes for you to realize I’m telling the truth, that I’m serious, that my feelings are real, that I want to be with you, that I won’t run away then I’ll do it right now. Just say the word.”

“How about you come inside and we talk,” he says stepping out of the way.

As he closes the door, I turn around, boxing him in.

“So, should I send the message?”

Jordan, we can't keep doing this.”

“Be honest with me Noah. Tell me you don’t want me to step closer and kiss you right now. Tell me you don’t want to be in my arms. Tell me the truth.”

The silence is broken by the sound of his phone ringing.

“I should get that, he says.

But I don’t move. Instead, I step closer. I look into his eyes. I want him to see inside my soul.

I broke up with Jenn.

You what?

“I broke up with her because I know who I want to be with - you. Look, I don't know how everything is going to end. I don't know if it will be perfect or if we will be easy. I don't know any of that, but it doesn't matter. None of it matters. Only you matter.

“I don't care what problems I have to, sorry I mean, we have to face. We can face anything together. As long as you’re by my side that's all I need. I don't know what all of this is, or why I feel the way I feel. I just know I like you. I really like you. I’ve never felt this way about another person before - girl or guy. There is something here between us and you can't deny it. I know you feel the same way. It will tear you apart inside if you keep fighting this. Lord knows, I've tried. The thing is as long as you are with me that's all that matters.

“I know you may not think you can trust me after how I treated you – after how Sebastian treated you – but you can. I was a jerk at times. But that was the old Jordan. This is the new one standing in front of you, my heart before you. I've changed. Before I was confused so I pushed you away, but Noah I'm not confused about my feelings for you anymore. I know they’re real. They're not going away, and more importantly I'm not going away. I won't run out on you. I promise. I won’t hurt you. I give you my word. I will do everything in my power to keep you happy ... to not break your heart. I'm real, my feelings are real, and I'm here. All I need to know is if you’re with me.”

The phone stops ringing. The room goes silent. I'm still looking deep into his soft hazel eyes.

After a few seconds he finally speaks. It's not going to be easy.”

I know, but as long as you're with me, it doesn't matter.

“You're sure about this? This is huge. It changes everything.”

“More than I’ve ever been in my life. This is what I want. I need to do this. And I know it's what you want too.”

I can't believe this is real.

Well, let me help you.

I lean in, tilt my head, and kiss him. I wrap my arms around him as I drive into his body. He moves back, hitting the door. I suck on his lip, savouring him, savouring every moment. I bring out my tongue and explore his mouth. The passion burns within me. The heat between us rises. Our bodies are tangled together, a mess of limbs, intertwined together. I find his hands as we lock them together over his head. I press into him. I feel him start to relax as his body melts into mine. For once I can feel the real Noah - raw, free, bare and vulnerable. I can feel the shy, insecure, nerd I’m falling for, fall for me. That's all I need.

FINALLY! Took the two long enough, eh?

At the last minute, I decided to rewrite this entire chapter.

I wanted to flesh out Jordan's thought process.

I hope you guys don't think it was too fast for Noah to agree to be with him.

 

It took me hours to write this chapter. So, take a minute, and let me know your thoughts/comments below.

Or, send along an email. As always, thanks for reading!

Copyright © 2018 Ethan; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



Wow!  Good for the two of them. But this is going to be so messy. Jenn is gonna go ballistic and when Sebastian finds out he's going to act on Jenn to fuel her anger. Hope i'm wrong. Anyway, great chapter.

Edited by Tonyr
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I'm glad Jordan did the right thing and broke up with Jen as fast as he could, although I think he should have done it in front of Noah (after the exam), so she could have had him to console her immediately.

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23 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

I'm glad Jordan did the right thing and broke up with Jen as fast as he could, although I think he should have done it in front of Noah (after the exam), so she could have had him to console her immediately.

I desagree. I think Jordan should've told Jenn after he broke up about his feelings for Noah. I guess my way works out in real life, but this is a novel, and that's all about  drama and cliffhanging. Eventually everything will work out but not before some time.

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It will be interesting to see how Jenn, and perhaps others mentioned in the comments, react. 

 

@Tonyr the way I originally wrote the chapter, it made sense why Jordan wouldn't tell Jenn the reason for the breakup. But with the rework, you're right, there was a much higher chance he would tell her why. Though, if I did that I would have to rewrite a lot, plus where is the drama in that (as you correctly point out)! That all said, there is a reason why he didn't elaborate and you'll get a sense of that a bit later. 

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Took a few long awaited kisses but the penny finally dropped, they both deserve the best.

 

Love the story keep typing away...... hopefully few cliffhangers and some twists to come.

 

 

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1 hour ago, frigidjason said:

Love the story keep typing away...... hopefully few cliffhangers and some twists to come.

I can't guarantee much in life, but I can say there will be more twists, and definitely a few cliffhangers, too. 😁

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2 hours ago, Onim said:

This was done soooooooooooo nicely...thought provoking, suspenseful, anxiety-laden, tears of joy...and pain for Jenn...but she'll love to see Noah happy and after all, it wasn't like she and Jordan were a long standing couple! How many dates did they actually go on (counting on my ONE hand...😜 )...she'll be just fine!! So happy you didn't make Noah go through a long drawn out "I don't really know" drama :2thumbs:...EXCELLENT CHAPTER!!:thankyou::heart:

Thank you so much @Onim! I'm really glad you enjoyed the chapter. In reality Noah may have waited longer, but I didn't want to delay it any further. I felt like 12 chapters was long enough! It's now time to see them together!

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7 hours ago, Ethan said:

 the way I originally wrote the chapter, it made sense why Jordan wouldn't tell Jenn the reason for the breakup. But with the rework, you're right, there was a much higher chance he would tell her why. 

 

I think it still makes sense Jordan doesn't tell her. He doesn't know whether Noah will reject him again, or if they have to be friends only for a long time before they can move on. Plus Noah should be the one to decide how best to tell Jen.

 

And honestly - what does she have to be furious about ? They've been on a couple of dates, no more. Has he even kissed her ? It's not like he's strung her along, lied about his feelings, slept with her or anything. She'll be disappointed and upset, but she's much to honest and level-headed to have fallen head over heels in love or even pretend to herself she's been cruelly jilted.

Edited by Timothy M.
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Such a fan of this story and really loved this chapter. Jordan seems like a stand up guy, just the guy who can help Noah with his confidence and trust issues. It’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to his first same sex experience. One thing I don’t understand - and I’ll admit to long being out of high school/college - I’ve never considered someone a boyfriend until a period of time and conversation to confirm we’re on the same page. I’ve never considered one date as grounds for bf/gf status. 

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We start to walk in silence. There is so much I want to say to Jordan. But I don’t know where to start. How do I convince him he’s not gay? Though after seeing him literally prance like a gazelle earlier, I’m not sure he was ever straight.”

 

That was the funniest line in the chapter, 😆.

Jordan is a boss!!  Granted, he needed advice to go after what he wants but when he got it he ran with it.  

It may have been a tad soon after Sebastian (and Jenn) for this to happen but fortune favors the bold.  I suspect Jenn already has an idea about Jordan's feelings-why would she ask about Noah during the breakup?  

To know something is one thing, to have it confirmed is another, I don’t know what Jenn will do once she finds out about the guys.

I’m glad they’ve taken this step and there will be challenges (aren’t there in most relationships?) We’ll see if they get happily ever after or even happily for a time.  They are both good guys and I’m rooting for them.  

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It is great to see that Jordan has admitted to Noah about his feelings, I hope that it works out for them. Noah needs to explain to Jordan what happened with sebastard and Jordan needs to keep a level head about it all, if Noah does

not say anything it could affect their sex life as Noah may have issues when it comes to having sex as what seb did may bring back bad memories. 

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It is great to see that Jordan has admitted to Noah about his feelings, I hope that it works out for them. Noah needs to explain to Jordan what happened with sebastard and Jordan needs to keep a level head about it all, if Noah does

not say anything it could affect their sex life as Noah may have issues when it comes to having sex as what seb did may bring back bad memories.

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Everything about the chapter was wonderful. I can see the hard work you put into it. The dialogue, both internal and aloud, was sharp and engrossing. And what a way to woo one's love! Jordan was quite a force to be reckoned with in his quest to win Noah. I don't think Noah caved too quickly. Everything was believable. It was indeed time to get to them actually being together (i.e. sex hopefully) and whatever challenges may lie immediately ahead. Bravo!

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The time you spent on this chapter was absolutely well-spent.  This was the best chapter yet, and Jordan is really taking shape as a genuine and believable 3D character.  Great work!

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Yes!  Jordan handled the situation well. He broke up with Jenn as the first step (but I think he should have told her why, as she would have had a better understanding of the situation and could see that she was not to blame. As Jordan told Noah that he would publish his gayness to the world, it was certainly not meant to remain a secret). The second step--baring his soul to Noah and agreeing to go public--is just what Noah needed to hear. As to how Jenn will react to Jordan and Noah as a couple:  I think that she will come around fairly quickly, as she really wants what's best for Noah, and seeing them work well as a couple would seal the deal for her. Great chapter!

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Yay! They finally got there. 

The sad thing is that Jenn would have been happy to give up Jordan for Noah's happiness, as a true friend. 

I really wished when Jordan was breaking up with Jenn that he had answered her question properly. She asked Jordan if this was because of Noah. He needed to say 'yes' and then Jenn would have understood, I'm sure. As it is, Jordan left her heart broken and he didn't need to.

For some reason, I feel we need to consider the net happiness of this group of three, and as happy as I am for Noah and Jordan, I feel that there is a net loss where there needn't have been.

I hope Jenn can forgive Jordan, in time but he may have just lost the right to be considered a trusted, friend ever again. Jenn's best friend was and hopefully will remain Noah.

Edited by Bard Simpson
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Well I'm of the opinion that Jenn will be pissed but eventually happy when she learns the whole story!!  Noah is her best friend!!

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