Patrick was glad, when he returned to his room, that his roommate had gone home for the weekend. He sat down on his bed, and then he was crying, burying his face in his hands. They weren’t enough to muffle his sobs, so instead he lay down on his stomach on the bed. The pillow did a much better job than his hands.
He hadn’t fallen in love with Dave, not quite. But he had really, really liked him. And he had loved his body. His soft, golden skin. His heartbeat, calm when they were just kissing but rapid when they were pressed together, whether naked or not. The scent of his blonde hair, and the taste of his lips. And the feel of his cock in Patrick’s hand, in his mouth. In him. He had never imagined that he would love it so much.
And then he was angry. Angry with Dave for stringing him along, even if Dave hadn’t known that he was doing it. Even though Patrick had told him that he was okay with being his rebound. He was angrier still with Nick, whom he had never met, had only briefly seen in that club. He was angry with him because Dave loved him. Angry because he had hurt Dave in the first place. Ruined him so Patrick couldn’t truly have him.
The anger subsided quickly, though. Because he had known from the start, really, that Dave wasn’t over his ex. Had known that this would inevitably end, even when Dave had asked him to be his boyfriend. He had known that Dave would never really be his. It softened the blow some. He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t upset, but he could count himself lucky that he had been granted this time with Dave. Not only had he turned out to be extremely hot, and fantastic in bed, but he had been kind. So kind. Even just now, when he had broken up with Patrick, had he been kind. Held his hand. Granted him one last kiss when Patrick had asked. He almost regretted it. Almost, but not really. It had been a good ending.
There was one thing Dave had given him that he couldn’t take back. He had taught Patrick to accept himself. He had given him the courage to try. To come out. To own up to the truth, his truth. And for that, Patrick would always be grateful.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, the door opened. Patrick sat up quickly, tried to wipe the tears from his face. Ali didn’t usually return until evening, and it was only two in the afternoon. Patrick sniffed, hoped he looked normal. ‘Hey,’ he said, smiling. ‘You’re back early.’
Ali sighed and put his bag down on his bed. ‘Yeah. It was . . . Yeah.’ He looked up at Patrick and frowned. ‘You okay?’
Patrick shrugged. ‘Yeah. Just, been sick, you know. I mean I’m better, but . . .’
Ali cocked his head to one side. ‘Were you crying?’
Patrick looked away, worked his jaw. He hadn’t wanted anyone to see him like this. But then, Ali would find out eventually anyway, so he let out a slow breath and said, ‘Dave and I broke up.’
Ali was silent for a while. Patrick looked at him again, and found sympathetic honey brown eyes looking back at him. ‘What happened?’ Ali asked.
‘What I always knew would happen.’ Patrick leaned back against the wall. ‘He realised he was still hung up on his ex. I went for it anyway, so it’s not even his fault, not really.’
Ali nodded slowly. ‘I’m sorry. I know you . . . I mean, you cared about him.’
Patrick really hadn’t thought Ali would be as okay with his coming out as he had been. His family were Muslims, which didn’t necessarily mean they were homophobes, but it was reasonably likely. Not because they were Muslims specifically, but because they were religious, and Patrick knew a thing or two about that. But when Patrick had come out to him, because coming out to your roommate is kind of a necessity when you have an actual boyfriend who may drop by at some point, Ali had just shrugged and said, ‘Okay.’ And that had been it.
Now he looked at Patrick with such a kind expression on his face that Patrick just wanted to hug him. They weren’t really hugging friends, though.
Ali was, for lack of a better word, cute. His large eyes were set into an earnest brown face with a sharp jaw, yet delicate features. He had full, soft looking lips, and a mop of dark curls, and Patrick had found him absolutely adorable from the moment he had met him. There didn’t seem to be a hint of mutual interest there, though, and he assumed Ali was straight. Which, he reasoned, was a good policy; straight until proven queer.
Ali kept mostly to himself. He was friendly enough, but he and Patrick didn’t really have any mutual friends, and no real reason to spend time together, other than the fact that they shared a room. Patrick realised that he didn’t actually know much about Ali at all.
‘You okay?’ asked Ali after a little while, and Patrick realised he must have been staring and looked away again.
‘Yeah. I mean, not right now, but I’ll be fine. Thanks, Ali.’
‘No worries,’ said Ali.
* * *
It was strange seeing Dave in maths the following day, but Patrick found he could endure it better than he’d thought. And as time passed and Christmas approached, it became easier and easier, until one day he approached Dave. It was at lunch, and Dave was sitting with Mandira as usual.
‘Hey,’ said Patrick.
Dave gave him a look of surprise. ‘Er, hey.’
‘Okay if I sit down?’
‘Yeah, sure, of course!’
‘Yeah, go ahead, Patrick,’ said Mandira with a smile.
‘Thanks.’ Patrick smiled and sat down. They were silent for a while, and Patrick took a sip of his drink. ‘So,’ he said after a moment, ‘how are you two?’
‘Not bad,’ said Mandira. ‘Looking forward to the holidays, though.’
‘Yeah . . .’ Patrick made a face. ‘Me, not so much. Not too keen on spending more time with my family than I have to, if I’m honest. I mean, I don’t go home on weekends unless I have to either.’
‘Yeah, Christmas isn’t really my idea of fun either,’ said Dave. ‘Especially since it’s just me and my parents this year.’
‘Your mum’s nice, though,’ Patrick pointed out.
‘Yeah, she is. She is now, anyway. But with Dad . . . It’ll be okay, I just feel like it’ll be really tense.’
They changed the subject and chatted about other things while they ate. This would be fine, Patrick decided. They could be friends.
Like he had told Dave and Mandira, Patrick didn’t much want to go home for Christmas. He avoided going home on weekends as much as he could. He was out at school, but he knew he couldn’t come out to his family. He had three older brothers. They would never, ever accept him.
Still, he didn’t have much choice but to go home for Christmas, and so he went, reminding himself that it was only for a couple of weeks.
* * *
Patrick sat on the bed with his knees pulled up to his chest. If he had considered coming out to his family before, he knew now that it was completely off the table.
As it turned out, his cousin Jenny had come out as a lesbian just before Christmas. Patrick’s father had talked at length about how, had she been his child, he would have immediately disowned her and kicked her out of the house, even though she was just sixteen years old. He said his sister, Jenny’s mother, was too soft when she didn’t ostracise her daughter.
What would he do if Patrick came out? Kill him, as likely as not.
The door opened and Ali walked in. ‘Hey, Patrick,’ he said, smiling. ‘Everything all right?’
Patrick shrugged. ‘Yeah, all right. You?’
‘Oh, you know . . .’ Ali paused. ‘You look sad.’
Patrick uttered a short, humourless laugh. ‘Yeah. Sorry.’
‘Don’t be sorry.’ Ali sat down on his own bed. ‘Do you want to talk about it?’
Patrick gave him a lopsided smile. ‘I’m okay. You don’t have to—’
‘Well, what if I want to?’ Ali interrupted him, before averting his gaze, looking a bit embarrassed. ‘You can talk to me, you know. If you want. I mean, you don’t have to, but you can tell me what’s wrong. I’d like to be your friend.’
Patrick felt a surge of affection towards his quiet, unassuming roommate. He knew by now that Ali was a genuinely kind and caring human being, but he still hadn’t expected him to be this blunt.
‘It’s my family,’ Patrick said at last. ‘They, er . . . I’m not out to them, and I don’t know how I ever could be.’ He sighed. ‘They’re very Catholic. By which I mean they don’t approve of birth control, much less homosexuality. So.’
‘That sucks.’ Ali looked thoughtful. ‘Hey, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you . . .’ He seemed to hesitate.
‘What?’ Patrick prompted, with a smile. ‘You can ask me whatever you want.’ He patted the bed next to him, and Ali came over and gingerly sat down.
‘Yeah. Okay. I just . . . How did you know? That you were gay, I mean.’
Patrick thought for a moment. ‘I dunno. I just kind of knew, I guess? Never really felt anything for girls, just thought about other guys. Then, when Dave came out last year, I think that’s when I really started to accept it. The truth of it. Took me months to tell anyone, though.’
‘And then you told Dave and Mandira.’
Patrick looked up at him in surprise. ‘Er, yeah. How did you—?’
Ali shrugged. ‘You started hanging out with them a lot. And then, few weeks later you were with Dave, so I figured he’d probably been the first to know.’
‘Yeah.’ Patrick licked his lips. ‘Why are you asking?’ He thought he already knew the answer, though.
Ali took a deep breath. ‘I think . . . I think maybe I’m gay, too.’ He looked down, long dark eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks when he blinked.
Ali nodded. ‘My family’s like yours. They . . . They wouldn’t accept me, if they knew.’ He sighed. ‘How do you deal with it?’
‘I don’t know. I guess . . . I’m eighteen now. Come autumn I’ll be leaving for uni and it won’t matter anymore. Might tell them then. I don’t know.’
‘Yeah.’ Ali looked embarrassed, and had yet to meet Patrick’s gaze again.
‘It’s okay, you know,’ said Patrick after a while. ‘There’s nothing wrong with us. It’s just something we are. It doesn’t have to define you, unless you want it to. And you don’t have to be sure.’
‘I know. I’m . . . pretty sure, though. Like you say, I’ve never really liked a girl that way. Guys, though . . .’ His face flushed. ‘I’ve liked a lot of guys.’
Patrick laughed. ‘Yeah, me too.’ He reached out, put his hand on Ali’s shoulder, and gave it a gentle squeeze. ‘You’ll be okay, Ali.’
* * *
It was a couple of weeks later, on a Sunday, that Patrick walked into their room, and it was Ali sitting on his bed, expression vacant and dejected. He had clearly just gotten back from a weekend at home, bag still packed on the floor next to his bed. He looked up when Patrick entered.
‘Hey,’ said Patrick. ‘Welcome back. Is . . . is something wrong?’
Ali looked up at him, swallowed. ‘I . . .’ And then he was crying, burying his face in his hands.
Uncertain of what else he could do, Patrick sat down next to him, put his hand on his shoulder, and gently massaged it, rubbing circles with his thumb. ‘Shh, it’s okay,’ he said softly. ‘Whatever it is, it’ll be okay.’
‘It won’t,’ Ali sobbed. ‘My brother, he . . . he found out. Figured it out. I don’t know, maybe I said something, but he asked and I couldn’t lie. He told my dad, and my dad . . .’ Ali swallowed, let out several shuddering breaths, before he took hold of the hem of his shirt and lifted it slightly. A large, purple bruise was blooming just above his hip. Patrick gasped.
‘He hit you?’ Ali only nodded, and before he could stop himself, Patrick had put both arms around him and hugged him close. ‘Fuck. I’m so sorry, Ali.’
Ali shook his head and sniffed. ‘He said I’d better forget about it. “There are no gay Muslims,” he said. Which is bollocks, because there demonstrably are. So I told him I’d stop. Stop being . . . as if I fucking could!’ He sobbed again, and Patrick rubbed his back.
‘It’s okay. It sucks. I know it sucks, but he can’t change who you are.’
‘Wish he could . . . It would be easier, wouldn’t it? Why would anyone choose this if they had a choice?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. It’s not so bad. I mean, people’s reactions, yeah, but I’m kind of glad I’m gay.’
Ali laughed through his tears and pulled out of Patrick’s embrace a little bit, looking at him. ‘Thank you. For . . . for being here.’
‘Of course, you don’t need to thank—’ But Patrick didn’t get further than that, because suddenly Ali was kissing him, his lips just as full and soft as they looked, and with a soft groan, Patrick kissed him back. After a few moments he pulled away, however. ‘Ali . . . are you sure you want this? You’re hurting, I don’t want to . . . I don’t want to take advantage of that.’
‘But you like me,’ said Ali. ‘Right?’
It was surprisingly direct and Patrick felt himself blush, because of course he did. He’d liked him for a while, and even more now that he knew Ali was gay and they had bonded over their similar family situations. He’d be more than happy for the kissing to continue. He took a deep breath. ‘I do,’ he murmured. ‘But . . . do you like me?’
‘Of course I do.’ Ali frowned. ‘Would I have kissed you if I didn’t?’
Patrick licked his lips, and found himself reusing the line Dave had given him, in the kitchen at his birthday party, all those months ago. ‘And are you sure it’s not just cause I’m the only other gay person you know?’
Ali smiled. ‘I’ve liked you since we moved in here. I thought, “Fuck me, he’s hot. Wish he was gay.” I’ve thought about this. A lot.’
Patrick nodded, the tip of his tongue slipping out of his mouth again to wet his lower lip. ‘Okay, then,’ he said, and they were kissing again, lying down on the bed. Patrick tangled his fingers in Ali’s curls, kissed his lips and his cheekbone and his jaw and his neck, sucked his earlobe into his mouth, and listened to Ali’s voice, deep and melodious, releasing a soft moan.
‘God, you’re hot,’ Patrick breathed against his neck.
‘You . . . so are you . . . Ah!’ Ali gasped when Patrick scraped his teeth over his pulse point. ‘Fuck, I’ve wanted this for a really long time, Patrick . . .’
‘Me too,’ said Patrick, and meant it, cause it wasn’t like he hadn’t thought about it. He’d thought about it quite a bit, as it happened. He grasped Ali’s hip, found his lips again, kissed him deeply.
‘Your . . . your skin,’ Ali murmured. ‘Can I . . .?’
Patrick sat up, straddling Ali’s thighs, and pulled his t-shirt over his head, and Ali pulled a sharp breath of air, staring up at him. He reached up, slid his hands up Patrick’s sides, massaged his skin, brushed a thumb over his nipple, and that made Patrick close his eyes for a moment and stifle a whimper, because he really, really liked having his nipples played with.
‘This . . .’ He cleared his throat. ‘This isn’t fair, you’re still wearing your shirt.’
Ali sat up as well, discarding his shirt and putting his arms around Patrick so they were skin to skin. He was so warm, and Patrick kissed him again, because that was what he wanted more than anything right now. When next they came up for air, Patrick looked down into Ali’s honey brown eyes and tucked a curl of his hair behind his ear. ‘How far do you want to take this?’ he asked softly.
‘I . . . I hadn’t really thought about that,’ Ali admitted. ‘I just, I wanted to be near you. To touch you. It . . . it feels good.’ His cheeks flushed and he looked away. ‘I’m sorry, that sounded really stupid . . .’
‘No,’ said Patrick. ‘It didn’t. I just . . . I don’t want us to do anything you’ll regret.’
Ali raised his hand to Patrick’s face, stroked his cheek, and weaved his fingers into his hair. ‘I could never regret being with you,’ he whispered.
Patrick captured his lips again, pushed him down onto the bed, let his hands explore soft, brown skin, followed by his lips as he kissed his way down Ali’s chest and stomach, following the trail of black hair, while Ali propped himself up on his elbows. He was hairier than Patrick, and much hairier than Dave had been. Patrick found that he liked it. Then he looked up, met Ali’s honey brown eyes, and found in them all the confirmation he needed. He unbuckled Ali’s belt and undid his trousers, pulling them down, followed by his pants, to reveal his cock.
He kissed Ali’s hip, and licked down to his inner thigh before mouthing at his balls. Ali released a soft sound of pleasure and Patrick looked up at him again. His pupils were blown, his cheeks red. Patrick took him into his mouth and heard him moan. He reached up to cover Ali’s mouth with his hand. The walls were thin. Ali kissed his palm. Then, as Patrick began to suck, he uttered a muffled, ‘Fuck . . .’
Ali took Patrick’s hand, drew two of his fingers into his mouth and sucked on them eagerly. Patrick groaned around Ali’s cock, and Ali all but whimpered around Patrick’s fingers. Then he released them from his mouth and said, ‘Patrick . . . fuck, I’m gonna come if you don’t . . .’
Patrick took his mouth off him for a moment, stroking him slowly instead. ‘Do you want me to stop?’
Ali licked his lips. ‘I . . . No. I’d like you to keep going, I just . . . You’re gonna make me come.’
‘Don’t you want that?’
‘Well . . . yeah . . .’ Ali blushed deep crimson.
‘Then you can come. It’s okay.’ And Patrick took him back inside his mouth, swirled his tongue around the head of his cock, and took him as deep as he could. It didn’t take long before Ali came hard in his mouth with a soft grunt.
Ali took a few deep, ragged breaths. ‘Holy shit . . .’ He laughed, and then reached for Patrick, pulled him up next to him so he could kiss him. ‘I’m . . . not sure I can do that for you,’ he admitted. ‘But . . . I’d like to touch you. Please?’
Patrick closed his eyes and groaned, because Ali begging him to let him touch him was one of the hottest things he could think of. Eagerly, he undid his trousers and pulled them off along with his pants. Ali reached for him, took him in his hand, and brought him off while they kissed.
Afterward, they lay naked, facing each other on the bed, just looking at each other. Ali reached out and combed his fingers through Patrick’s hair. ‘You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do that,’ he murmured. ‘I mean, I’d imagined it a bit more . . . I dunno, romantic, I guess. But . . .’
Patrick smiled. ‘It was perfect. We can do romantic later, if you like.’
‘So, there’ll be a later?’ said Ali, and Patrick could hear the hope in his voice.
‘If you want there to be.’
‘I really, really want there to be.’ Ali’s smile lit up his entire gorgeous face, and Patrick thought that this, this could really work.
I always fall in love with my supporting characters when writing a story. I fell more deeply in love with Patrick than most, and I really wanted him to have a happy ending.