This is a story about a gay male and may involve sexual activity
males, so if this is likely to offend you, or is illegal where you live
do not read any further. All the events and characters in this
are fictional and any resemblances to real people are purely
The story is copyright of the author and may not be distributed or
placed on any web sites without written permission from the author.
I would like to thank my editor, Richard Lyon, for his encouragement
moral support while this story was being written and for his hard work
seeking out errors after it was written.
If you enjoy this story or have any comments about it, please feel
free to send me an email .
or visit me at
Although the satisfaction of our sexual appetites was the basic reason
for our meetings we didn't spend all our time together having sex, nor
did we jump into bed as soon as he entered my room. After we'd had a
dozen or so meetings there wasn't such a sense of urgency and we became
more relaxed, knowing that it would only be a day or two until we met
again. The quality and excitement of our sexual activity did not
deteriorate with time, though on rare occasions we had enough energy
for only one brief session, even when he was staying overnight.
Matt would sometimes arrive while I was still writing up lecture notes
or doing course work and he would then wait, not always patiently, for
me to finish. Occasionally, usually when one or both of us had a tough
day, we would have a drink and slowly unwind before getting down to
business. On one such occasion he arrived bearing a bottle of wine, the
contents of which we drank as we lounged, fully clothed, on my bed.
Usually when he arrived I was listening to music, though I always
turned it off before we started getting physically intimate because I
found that background music spoiled my enjoyment of sex. In any case,
Matt did not share my tastes in music and soon after we first met he
searched my small collection of CDs, trying in vain to find something
he wanted to listen to.
"Why do you have so much old music?" he asked, not even trying to hide
his displeasure, "It's mostly classical stuff like Beethoven or lots of
retro stuff like Pet Shop Boys. You should get up to date and start
listening to music composed this century."
"Just because something was composed a long time ago," I countered
archly, "doesn't mean it's out of date. In fact if it's lasted so long
then it must be good."
Despite my efforts on several occasions to educate his musical palate
he never got to enjoy any of my favourite pieces of music, or if he did
enjoy any of them he didn't admit it. Shortly after Matt told me about
Harry I confided in him that many Pet Shop Boys songs seemed to reflect
certain experiences in my life. On a couple of occasions after that he
asked me to play those particular tracks while I explained their
significance. He listened with interest to my commentary and he must
have enjoyed at least some of their music because he occasionally
borrowed one of their CDs.
We sometimes discussed movies and it turned out that was one area in
which there was a considerable overlap in our tastes. One evening,
about six weeks after our first meeting, he asked me if I liked the
Harry Potter movies.
"Well, it's good, entertaining escapism," I said, then with a sly grin
I added, "And I rather fancy the Scottish actor... ya know, the one who
plays the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team."
"Hey, hands off!" Matt responded, "He's mine."
"Mmm, I s'pose we could fight for him or..." I said, then paused for
dramatic effect before continuing, "have a kinky threesome!"
"I thought you were too prudish for kinky stuff," he said mockingly.
"You've corrupted me," I replied, trying unsuccessfully to appear
"Yeah, but you enjoyed it, didn't you?"
"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't," I said coyly, then added, "Anyway, why
did you ask if I like Harry Potter movies?"
"Oh," he said, remembering how the conversation had started, "The
latest one's been out for a couple of months but I've not seen it yet
and I wondered if you wanted to go to see it with me."
"Are you paying?" I asked flippantly.
My question was intended just to wind him up so I was surprised that he
took it seriously.
"Yes, okay," he said, "I hate going to movies alone."
The following Sunday afternoon he drove us to the big multiscreen
cinema on the edge of the city and paid for our tickets while I bought
us some snacks. Afterwards, as we were making our way across the car
park and chatting about what we'd seen, the happy atmosphere was
ruined. Matt put his arm over my shoulder and I immediately pulled
"What the fuck are you doing?!" I hissed.
Panicking, I looked around to see if anyone had seen us. Fortunately,
it was getting dark and although there were a lot of people around,
none were particularly close and none appeared to be looking in our
"What's the matter?" Matt asked.
From the expression on his face it was clear that he was puzzled and a
little hurt, and I immediately realised that I'd overreacted. However,
instead of calming down and behaving more rationally I grew angry at
him for triggering my panic. Then, perversely and even more
irrationally, my overreaction increased, as if in some way that
escalation might justify my first response.
"Touching me like that in public," I replied quietly so that only he
could hear, "What if someone saw you?"
"They'd see one friend putting his arm round another friend," he said
He looked at me as if he thought I'd gone crazy, and if he did hold
that opinion it was probably not totally unjustified, because at that
moment I actually felt as if I were two different people. A small
rational part of my mind helplessly watched in horror, like a bystander
watching as car crash, as my emotions took control.
"They'd see two queers," I said angrily, "Do you want to be
queer-bashed? Is that one of your many kinks?"
The expression on his face quickly went from disbelief to anger.
"Don't be so fucking stupid, Ian," he growled, "Friends, even straight
friends, do that sort of thing all the time. You're not just a prude,
you're a paranoid prude."
"Never mind what I am. Let's just get out of here," I said, and stormed
off toward his car.
By the time I got there he'd caught up. He unlocked the doors, we got
in and we drove off, all without saying a word. During the twenty
minutes or so that it took us to get back to Hall the silence was
maintained, and as my emotions calmed down I began to feel a little
foolish. Although I still believed that Matt's action in the car park
had been stupid and potentially dangerous, I also realised that my
reaction was unwarranted and that I should have handled the situation
When we reached our destination he didn't park the car but just stopped
outside the entrance and left the engine running. The original plan had
been that we'd grab a pizza, take it back to my room and spend the
night together, but it was clear to me that in Matt's mind that plan
had changed. He was a much better sex buddy than I'd ever hoped for and
I was afraid that I might lose him. Although I didn't think I could
bring myself to actually apologise, I realised that I needed to build
"I thought we were going to get pizza," I said, just to get things
At first he didn't respond, his gaze remained fixed forward and for
several seconds his only movement was the clenching and unclenching of
his grip on the steering wheel. Eventually he spoke, quietly but with
an angry tone, and he still didn't look at me.
"I didn't think that you'd want to eat with a kinky pervert," he said.
"Look," I said soothingly, "I know that I overreacted and said things
that I shouldn't have done. I didn't really mean what I said and I'm
sorry that I hurt your feelings."
That apology, though small and only partial, was much easier to make
than I'd expected it to be, and it was also totally genuine.
"Then why did you say it?" he said, looking at me for the first time
since we'd got into the car.
"I was scared and I panicked," I said, simply stating what I thought
would have been obvious to him.
"But why?" he asked, "I thought we were friends, so why did you behave
like that when I was just being friendly?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure that I can answer that properly because I
guess it's not really logical," I said, then sighed and continued, "If
you want I'll try to explain, but sitting here in a car isn't a good
place for that. Let's get a pizza and some beers and then eat and drink
in my room while we talk about it."
"Okay," he said, somewhat mollified.
When we eventually got back to my room we were both feeling less
emotional, and as we ate and drank I tried to explain to him why his
public display of affection had scared me so much. As I knew it wasn't
totally rational and as I didn't completely understand it myself, that
explanation was really more like a listing of certain events in my
life. So I told him about how I felt when Simon said my feelings were
queer, about his queer-bashing brother and about my encounter with the
From his comments during my exposition and the way he looked at me when
I'd finished it was clear to me that he didn't agree with my feelings,
though he now partially understood them and had some sympathy for me.
"You can't spend the rest of your life being terrified of people
finding out that you're gay," he said, "Things are better now than they
used to be, society is more accepting, there are lots of famous people
who are openly gay and you can't turn on the TV without seeing some gay
"Yes, I know all that," I said, a little irritated at the way he seemed
to be lecturing me, "I never said it was totally rational. But people
still get queer-bashed in real life and even on TV. And it's not just
the risk of being beaten up, there's all sorts of ways people can make
life a misery. I just feel safer and more comfortable if most people
don't know about me."
"Not even your family?" he asked, "surely you don't think they'll make
your life a misery ?"
"Probably not. But I'd rather they didn't find out until I tell them.
And I'll wait until I'm not so dependant on them before I do tell
Matt sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
"Okay, suit yourself," he said, "Personally, I think you're screwed up,
but at least now I think I understand why you're screwed up."
About a week before the end of term I woke up one morning with a sore
throat. At first it was quite mild and when I thought of it at all I
surmised it might be related to Matt's visit the previous evening. We'd
been together from just after eight o'clock until he left a little
before midnight and for part of that time I'd been trying to
deep-throat him. He was very skilled with that technique but even after
several lessons from him I still couldn't quite manage it.
During the course of the morning, however, not only did the soreness in
my throat get worse but I also developed a headache and a fever. A
little after noon, by which time my nose was dripping like a tap, I
decided to miss the rest of my classes and go back to my room to lie
down for awhile. After taking some paracetamol I spent a miserable
couple of hours before I managed to doze off. Some time later I was
awakened by my phone and saw that Matt was calling.
"Hello, Batt" I croaked, my nose now completely blocked.
"Are you okay?" he asked..
"Got a cold," I replied.
"I just called to say I'm on my way over to your place now."
My head was so throbbing and fuzzy that I'd completely forgotten the
arrangement we'd made to meet up that evening.
"Better not," I said, "you don't want to catch my cold, and anyway I'm
not in the mood for having fun just now."
"I think if I was going to catch it then I'll already have it," he
said, "After all, less than twenty four hours ago we had our tongues
down one another's throats!"
"Well hopefully you won't get it and I'll be better in a couple of days
so we can get together then."
"Have you taken anything?"
"Nothing else?" he asked.
"Don't have anything else."
"Just a sec," he said, "I'll call you back in a minute."
He hung up and about five minutes later he called again.
"Sorry, took a bit longer than I thought," he said, "Have you eaten
"No, I'm not really hungry and in any case my throat is so sore I doubt
that I could swallow anything."
"Okay," he said in a businesslike manner, "it will take me a bit longer
than I thought. I'll be there in about an hour, or maybe a bit more."
Before I could say anything else he'd hung up, so I curled up in my
duvet and waited for him to arrive. When he turned up about ninety
minutes later he was carrying two large shopping bags. In one was a
large box of tissues and an assortment of cold remedies, including
decongestants and pastilles for sore throats. The other bag contained
two large thermos flasks.
"Sorry I was so long," Matt said as he unpacked the contents of the
bags onto my desk, "The soup took longer to defrost than I thought."
"Soup?" I asked, my voice rasping.
"You sound awful," he replied, ignoring my question, "Your throat must
be really bad. Here, suck on one of these and hopefully you'll be able
to enjoy the soup in a few minutes."
He handed me the pack of throat pastilles, which I noted contained a
local anaesthetic as one of its ingredients.
"Soup?" I said as I removed a pastille from the pack.
"Mum's home made chicken soup. She always keeps a supply in the freezer
just in case I get ill. Full of goodness, easy to eat, and great
comfort food. Even if it doesn't actually make me better it always
makes me feel better."
"Your mum must keep a large stock," I said, looking at the two large
"Only one is soup," Matt said, following the direction of my gaze, "The
other is Mum's special home made lemon and honey drink."
"Erm, I don't like honey," I said, rather ungraciously.
"Well you can hardly taste the honey with all the other ingredients,"
he responded reassuringly, "It's very good for you, and in any case you
should make sure you drink lots of fluids."
"Yes, nurse," I said, smiling despite my discomforts, "Thank you,
Somehow just the idea of someone caring enough to be there with me and
to go to all this trouble for me was sufficient to make me feel better,
regardless of efficacy of the cold remedies or the soup.
Although my sense of smell was considerably desensitised by the cold, I
could smell the soup as soon as he opened the flask. Until I smelled
that wonderful aroma I hadn't thought that I was hungry, but as soon as
he poured some into a bowl I realised that I was ravenous. The soup was
delicious and the lemon drink turned out to be much more pleasant that
I expected. While I was propped up in bed eating and drinking, Matt sat
on the edge of the bed looking at me benignly and obviously pleased
that I was enjoying his gifts.
"Feeling a bit better?" he asked as I finished.
"Yes, thank you. Much better," I replied, my voice much smoother now,
though still sounding rather nasal.
He took the empty bowl from me and went to rinse it in the sink.
"You look tired," he said when he returned to my bedside, "Would you
like me to stay or do you think it would be better if I left you to get
"Yes, I'd like you to stay, but I think tonight I'd sleep better on my
own," I said, suddenly feeling very fatigued.
"Is there anything else I can do before I go?" he asked.
"No thanks," I replied with a smile, "But thanks very much for
everything. I really appreciate it."
"My pleasure," he said.
Taking me by surprise, he leaned forward and kissed me gently on the
"Watch out," I said, concerned, "We don't want you catching my germs."
"Like I said," he replied with a grin, "It's too late to worry now.
After last night either I've already caught them or I won't be catching
"Okay," I said, still a little concerned, "but call me tomorrow just to
let me know how you are."
"Alright, but I'll be around tomorrow night with more soup and stuff."
"You mean I haven't already exhausted your supplies?"
"Well, there's not much left in the freezer but Mum had already started
making more before I left to come here. Tomorrow I can bring you some
that's freshly made."
"Oh," I said, feeling guilty that his Mum was going to so much trouble
on my behalf, "So your mum knows about me and you?"
"Well I had to tell her when I wasn't going to be home or she'd be
worried. All I told her was that you were my friend and that you were a
student at the university. But she's not stupid and she'll know that
we're not just holding hands when I stay with you overnight."
"And she's okay with it?" I asked.
"Yeah, she's fine. In fact it was her idea to make a fresh batch of
soup for me to bring tomorrow."
"Oh, okay," I said, "Well tell your mum 'thank you' from me."
"I will," he replied, "you try to have a good night's rest and I'll see
We said our farewells and he let himself out.
After three days my cold had completely gone, though it took a couple
of days after that for my sinus to become completely clear. That was
probably the quickest I'd ever recovered from a cold. Although a sample
of one didn't constitute a real clinical trial, I was convinced that my
speedy recovery was due in no small part to the soup and lemon drink
made by Matt's mum.
After I'd recovered from my cold there were only three days left until
term ended, and I had to get lecture notes for classes I'd missed, as
well as catching up on course work. Thus Matt and I didn't have much
time for fun together, but the quality of the sex we had partially made
up for the lack of the quantity. However, by the end of the first week
of the Easter vacation I was feeling very horny and from his text
messages and phone calls it was clear that Matt felt the same.
The situation was made more difficult by the fact that I had very
little privacy in the shared bedroom where I spent so much time
studying. I was getting anxious because my final exams started only
about six weeks after the beginning of the new term. During the second
week of the vacation the pressure was piled on even further by
something Matt said in one of our phone chats.
"Gawd," he said, "I'm dying for a shag!"
"Me too," I replied, "I wish I was with you now so I could give you a
good seeing to."
"Promises, promises!" he said and gave a little laugh before continuing
in a more serious tone, "But you're not here, are you, and you won't be
back for almost three weeks."
"I guess we'll just have to wait," I said sadly.
"Maybe I can't," he replied after a brief pause, "Three weeks is a long
time when you're as horny as I am. Maybe I should get in touch with one
of the other guys who contacted me on the dating site."
Matt sounded serious, but he usually sounded serious when he was
winding me up, so I wasn't sure whether or not he was just teasing me.
"You don't mean that," I said confidently, deciding to call his bluff,
"You said you didn't really fancy any of the others."
"That's right, I didn't fancy them as much as you, but a couple of them
were shaggable, and if I get really desperate I suppose it's a case of
any port in a storm, a bird in the hand, and beggars can't be
"But you can't be that desperate yet," I said, not quite so
confidently, "It's not even two weeks yet since we did it."
"It's almost two weeks with more than two weeks still to go," he said,
"And over the past few months with you I've been got used to frequent
shags, much more frequent and much better than I had with Harry."
My ego was boosted by his last comment, which was spoken in the same
serious tones as the rest of what he'd just been saying. Then it
occurred to me that if the compliment was serious, maybe he was also
serious about finding someone for sex. On the other hand, maybe he
didn't really mean it when he said sex with me was better than with
Harry. Sometimes Matt's twisted humour could be very frustrating and I
was started to become irritated. However, if he were indeed winding me
up and I showed my irritation then he'd know that he'd won the little
"You said you weren't into one night stands," I countered in as neutral
a tone as I could manage.
"I'm not, but there'll be time to spend several nights with a guy
before you get back," Matt said cheerfully, then after a brief pause he
added, "And we didn't say that we'd be exclusive, did we?"
"Erm, no, but we never said that we wouldn't," I pointed out, "I just
assumed we were... and I'm not going to be seeing anyone else."
"But living with your family you probably couldn't if you wanted to,"
he said, "And in any case you've already been with lots of guys and
I've only been with you and Harry, so maybe I need to catch up."
If Matt was winding me up then he was being very convincing and this
particular teasing session was lasting longer than most previous ones.
I was beginning to get rather concerned.
"I'd rather be exclusive... wouldn't you?" I asked.
I fervently hoped he would agree without needing to be persuaded
because all the arguments I could immediately think of might be
interpreted as implying something more than just a sex-buddy
"Yes, okay," he said, sounding slightly unsure, then he laughed and
added "As long as I don't have to wait too long for a shag."
Although I still wondered how serious he'd been about the whole thing,
I breathed a sigh of relief . The way he'd laughed before his last few
words made me feel that he'd just been teasing me, but I couldn't be
That telephone conversation moved on to other topics and the subject of
exclusivity didn't arise again during the following few days. However,
a slight residual doubt continued to itch at the back of my mind and I
couldn't completely eradicate it. The problem with Matt is that he'd
grown to know me too well and he'd probably already discovered the
basic feelings of insecurity that I managed to hide from others.
What made me feel worse was that I couldn't explain why the idea of
non-exclusivity bothered me so much. He and I always used condoms, so
if he behaved equally safely with others, why should I care if he
shagged someone else while I was away? Of course it was possible that
he'd find someone he preferred to me, and so stop seeing me. However,
after graduation I'd probably be moving away from Linchester, so in any
case our sex buddy relationship would probably end in a few months,
though I hoped to remain friends.
Despite all the logic and arguments I deployed to dispel my unease I
couldn't shake it off entirely. By the third day after our disquieting
conversation I decided that it might be best to try to return to
Linchester a week or so early. Before announcing that decision to Matt
or my family I phoned the Bursar to ask if I could return before the
start of the new term.
During vacations the residences were usually used to host conferences
and students were expected to store away their belongings between
terms. However, my room was never used by conference guests so I had
been fortunate in never having to clear out my room for the Christmas
and Easter vacations. So I knew my room would be free, but I didn't
know if the Bursar would allow me to use it or how much it would cost.
As it turned out, although she was surprised by my request she agreed,
pointing out that until term started my room would not be cleaned and
food would not be provided.
She also informed me that she would let me have the room for half the
term-time cost, and after a quick mental calculation I decided that I
could afford that. So I thanked her and arranged to go back ten days
before the start of term. Then I told my parents, who didn't seem to be
very happy with the arrangement, and informed Matt, who appeared to be
extremely pleased. The main reason I gave to my parents was that it was
easier to study for final exams in Linchester, not least because of the
university library. I even managed convinced myself that studying was
the main reason for my early return to Hall because I could study
better if I wasn't sexually frustrated.
When I returned to Linchester Matt came round as soon as he finished
work and even before he'd eaten dinner. It was clear that satiating his
sexual needs had even higher priority than food. Then we got pizza and
beer and sat in my room, eating, drinking and chatting. After finishing
the last slice Matt grinned at me.
"I'm glad you're back," he said, "Now I don't need to go to the hassle
of finding someone else to shag."
"I thought you were just teasing me about that," I said with more
confidence than I felt.
"I was," he said and laughed.
"Bastard!" I said.
I tried to be annoyed and wanted Matt to see that I was annoyed, but
his laughter was infectious and my attempt at a frown was a complete
"And I think I had you going, at least for a bit," he said.
"Possibly," I said neutrally, then added, "But one day you may wind me
up too far."
There was a brief silence, during which Matt's expression became more
serious as he seemed to be undecided about something.
"Well, I wasn't just teasing," he said eventually, apparently having
reached a decision, "I wanted to see how you'd react."
While I was still trying to work out exactly what he meant and what my
response should be, he changed the subject completely.
"As you're not getting food in Hall for a few days," he said, "Won't
you get bored of pizza and burgers and stuff?"
"Well, I s'pose for variety there's always the Indian and Chinese
"That's going to be expensive," he responded, "and as you're just a
poor student maybe we should eat together every night until term starts
and I can pay for both of us."
"You don't need to do that," I said, "But thanks for the offer."
"I mean it," he said seriously, then he grinned and added, "That way
you can pay for your food by shagging me every night after we eat."
"I'm not a fucking rent boy!" I said, pretending to be annoyed.
"I know that," he said, forcing his words through his laughter, "For a
start you're not pretty enough to be a rent boy!"
"Well if I'm not," I retorted, trying to suppress my own laughter,
"then you're certainly fucking not."
"Right," he said when we'd both calmed down, "It's decided. We meet up
when I finish work and I buy you a meal."
Although I didn't remember that decision being made I wasn't going to
argue about it.
"Okay," I agreed.
So it was that every night that week we ate dinner together and all
went smoothly until the Friday of the last weekend before the start of
term. That night we were merrily munching our way through a selection
of our favourites from the local Chinese takeaway when Matt took me by
"Mum's invited you to Sunday lunch," he said.
"Why?" I asked, startled.
"She wants to meet you," he replied in a tone that implied he was
stating the obvious.
"But why?" I persisted, "She doesn't think I'm your boyfriend, does
"I've no idea what she thinks," he said as if it didn't really matter,
"All I told her was that you're my friend. That's true, isn't it?"
"Yes, of course," I said.
My brain went into overdrive as I feverishly tried to find a plausible
excuse to decline the invitation. The problem was that Matt knew me too
well, so he'd easily detect a lie and he'd not be placated by any of my
"You'll go, won't you?" he prompted, "She does a great roast lunch and
she'll be very disappointed if you don't go."
"Erm, well," I mumbled, stalling for time.
Unfortunately, Matt knew my weaknesses and was usually quite prepared
to exploit them to get his own way. He had me on the ropes and from the
faint smile on his face he knew it, so then he went for the knockout
"It wouldn't be very nice to disappoint her, would it?" he said,
"Especially when she went to so much trouble before Christmas to make
her special chicken soup just for you."
Thus I had a choice which was no choice at all. I could accept the
invitation and the inevitable embarrassment involved or I could decline
the invitation and thereby prove that I was an ungrateful cad and a
bounder. Matt's smile broadened as he read my expression and knew that
he'd got what he wanted.
"Yes, of course I'll go," I said, trying to sound as if I were in fact
eager to meet his Mum, "What time?"
Matt, magnanimous in his victory, pretended to be convinced by my faked
"I'll pick you up here at one o'clock," he said.
By the time Matt came to pick me up on the Sunday I had adopted a
similar attitude to the one I had before an exam. It was a necessary
task which I had to perform to the best of my abilities even though it
wasn't something that I expected to enjoy. At least it was an
opportunity to thank his mum for her kindness when I'd been ill, so
despite my nerves I was determined to make a good impression. I decided
that the best way to do that was to maintain a low profile and to avoid
saying or doing anything that might possible be regarded as
controversial or contentious.
After parking his car outside the small, modern, two-bedroom house,
Matt took me inside and introduced me to his mum. She certainly didn't
match the mental image I'd constructed from what he'd told me. I'd been
expecting a severe woman similar to the female school teachers at my
primary school, but instead found that she was jovial and very
welcoming. She was quite short and slightly chubby, with dark brown
hair and deep brown eyes,. Overall she seemed to exude the essence of
motherliness and the welcome she gave me was so effusive as to be
Lunch was roast beef with roast potatoes, assorted vegetables and the
most delicious gravy I'd ever had. That was followed by a home made
chocolate pudding with vanilla custard, and everything was supplied in
very generous portions. After a week of takeaway foods and snacks this
excellent food was very welcome and by the end of the meal I was
extremely full. Perhaps ungallantly, it occurred to me that it was no
wonder that Matt was a little plump if his mum usually provided him
with such meals.
While we ate, Matt's mum did most of the talking, much of which could
be described as a mild interrogation. Matt, unusually for him, didn't
say much except to accuse her of being too inquisitive when he
considered her questions to be a little too personal. For my part I was
grateful that none of her questions related directly to sexuality or my
relationship with her son. However, some of the things she said implied
that she thought that Matt and I were more than just platonic friends.
Overall, I was relieved that she seemed happy with my responses ,and
she appeared to be particularly pleased that I was continuing my
education at university.
"I keep telling Matty," she said, looking pointedly at him, "that he
should get back into further education. He could easily get A levels
and get into a university."
Matt smiled wryly at me and rolled his eyes upward, and at first I was
surprised that Matt didn't make any attempt to challenge what she'd
said. Then it occurred to me that he must have heard her say the same
sort of thing many times and he realised that there was nothing to be
gained by further argument on the subject.
"Maybe you'll be a good influence on him," she continued, "and persuade
him not to waste his potential."
For some inexplicable reason that apparently complimentary remark
irritated me. In fact it irked me so much that I forgot my earlier
resolution to keep a low profile and avoid anything contentious.
"But if someone is doing what they enjoy, and if they're successful at
what they're doing then they can't be wasting their potential," I said,
hiding my emotions behind a calm and logical tone, "And as far as I can
see Matt is enjoying working his way up the management ladder in his
store. In fact he might even end up running the whole business from
Both Matt and his mum looked very surprised at my outburst, though in
Matt's case the surprise was mixed with pleasure whereas his mum seemed
to be also a little annoyed. However, she apparently quickly recovered
from her displeasure and moved to a different topic of conversation.
"What are your plans for after you graduate?" she asked.
"At the moment I'm concentrating more on actually graduating rather
than thinking too much about what happens afterwards," I admitted, "But
if my degree is good enough I might be interested in doing a further
degree and maybe going into some sort of research career."
She seemed to be reasonably happy with my response and at that point,
much to my relief, Matt suggested that perhaps he'd better take me home
so that I could do some studying. So after thanking his mum for the
wonderful meal, we set off back to Hall. During the journey Matt didn't
say very much but he seemed to be very cheerful and I wondered if his
mum's cooking always made him so happy.
The new term started off much as the previous term had ended, with the
same routine of lectures, lab classes and tutorials. At lunch times on
Mondays that routine also included departmental seminars which final
year students were required to attend. For the most part I found those
seminars boring, especially when it was obvious that the speaker was
there reluctantly and only because it was expected of them. It was even
more tedious when the only thing that the speaker wanted to communicate
was their own opinion of how clever they were.
On rare occasions the seminars were actually interesting, and one of
those took place on the second Monday of the new term. That particular
talk, given by a senior lecturer in our department, really captured my
imagination, although when I first saw the title of the seminar I
didn't think it was particularly interesting. However, the enthusiasm
of the speaker, Dr Robertson, and the obvious care he'd taken to
communicate his ideas grabbed and then held my attention.
By the end of the seminar my mind was full of questions but I was
reluctant to ask them in front of everyone so I waited until the room
was almost empty before I approached the Dr Robertson. Much to my
surprise he didn't seem to think that my questions were too stupid but
after answering a couple of them in detail he looked at his watch.
"I'm sorry I have to cut things short," he said, "but I have an
appointment in ten minutes."
"Oh, okay," I said, only mildly disappointed.
"Wait a second" he said as I was turning to leave, "If you're
interested in this you can look at a review I wrote recently, and if
you have more questions just get back in touch."
The idea of reading material not directly relevant to my impending
exams wasn't particularly appealing but I didn't want to flatly refuse
his offer. Therefore I thanked him and accepted the document he handed
to me, although there seemed little possibility that I'd get time to
As it turned out Matt had to work both Saturday and Sunday the
following weekend and by late afternoon on the Saturday I'd become
bored with studying. However, with the exams so close the idea of
wasting time doing something like just watching TV made me feel guilty,
so as a sort of compromise I decided to look at the review. To be
honest, much of it was too advanced for me to fully comprehend but what
I did understand was very interesting.
One thing that I did note was that the review appeared to be part of an
application for funding for a graduate student. I wondered if Dr
Robertson had received the funding and, if so, whether the studentship
had been awarded. It occurred to me that such a position could be just
what I wanted. Not only would I be working on an interesting project
for a research degree but I would also be able to stay in Linchester
and continue spending time with Matt.
Of course there was a large fly in that little jar of ointment.
Although I expected to get a reasonably good degree and hoped it would
be good enough to get into a postgraduate program, there was no doubt
that there were many others, more academically gifted than I, who would
be getting better grades this summer. So, even if the position was
still vacant, why should Dr Robertson offer it to me?
After much thought it occurred to that Dr Robertson, being obviously
very enthusiastic about this research topic, would probably value a
similar enthusiasm in a potential postgraduate student. Provided that
my degree was of an adequate standard, perhaps he would believe that my
keen interest in the subject might make up for any lack of academic
brilliance. Thus my cunning and devious plan was hatched. I would study
the review in detail, read some of the key references and make up a
list of questions that would hopefully show the depth of my interest.
Although my plan required considerable effort and took up much of the
remainder of the weekend, its execution wasn't too onerous because I
was in fact genuinely interested in that area of research. Then, having
made an appointment with Dr Robertson and obtained directions to his
office, I went to see him on the Wednesday afternoon.
"Did you enjoy that little bit of light reading I gave you?" he joked
as I entered his office.
"I enjoyed the parts that I understood," I answered honestly.
"So it didn't answer all the questions you were going to ask after the
"It answered some of them but it also gave me more questions to ask."
"Yes, research usually raises as many questions as it answers," he said
and smiled, "Why don't you take a seat and tell me what questions
you've come up with."
We then spent almost half an hour going through my list and generally
discussing his research, and what impressed me even more than his
knowledge was the fact that when he didn't have an answer he freely
admitted it. Eventually our discussion wound up and there was a brief
silence while I wondered how I might bring up the subject of the
studentship. Then, looking at me speculatively , he was the first to
break that silence.
"It certainly seems like you've done your homework," he said, "And with
your final exams so close I'm amazed that you took so much time on
It occurred to me that my devious and cunning plan hadn't been subtle
enough to avoid raising some suspicions in Dr Robertson's obviously
agile mind. The look he gave me then reminded me of the look that the
Bursar had given me almost three years earlier when she'd asked why I
wanted a single room. My reaction this time was similar to the one I
had on that previous occasion, and again I decided that honesty was the
"Well, I'm very interested in your research," I said and then a little
sheepishly I added, "And, erm, I wondered if you were looking for a
"Ah," he said and laughed, "And let me guess, you were observant enough
to notice the review was part of a funding application?"
"Erm, yes," I said, blushing and looking down at my hands on my lap.
"No need to be embarrassed," he said reassuringly, "I believe your
interest is genuine and you've shown that you are not only observant
but also prepared to work to get what you want. As it happens, the
studentship has been advertised and I've already interviewed some
"Oh," I said, not even trying to hide my disappointment.
"However," he continued, "None of the applicants who already have
degrees are satisfactory, and I'm not going to make any definite
decisions about the others until they get their exam results."
Lifting my eyes I saw that he was looking at me with a pensive
expression on his face.
"If you want," he added, "I can add your name to the short list and we
can discuss it again when you know what sort of degree you've got."
"Yes, please," I said, grinning eagerly, "that would be great."
"Good," he replied, apparently satisfied with my response, "I've just
got time to give you a quick tour of the labs before I have to go to a
While we went round the labs he not only described what was going on
but he also found time to interrogate me about the courses I'd taken
since my arrival at Linchester.
That evening, as soon as Matt got into my room the first thing I did
was to tell him about the possibility of me staying in Linchester to do
"That will be convenient," Matt said.
He seemed vaguely pleased but I'd expected him to be as happy and
excited as I was, so his comment about convenience was definitely
disappointing. Although we were only sex-buddies it made me a little
sad to think that it was merely a 'convenience' for him.
"Just convenient?" I said, unable to hide my disappointment.
For a moment he looked at me blankly, then a grin spread across his
face and he burst out laughing.
"Gotcha!" he managed to say between gasps of laughter.
I punched his arm and pushed him backwards onto my bed.
"Bastard!" I said, barely suppressing my own laughter.
"Of course it's good news," he said when he'd recovered his composure,
"And it gives you an incentive to study harder, but it's not definite,
"Not definite," I admitted, "But my gut tells me that I'm in with a
"And if it does work out," he said, "it will be convenient."
"Convenient?" I echoed, still not happy with his choice of words.
"Well, yes," he said as if stating the obvious, "I'd already thought
about what would happen if and when you left Linchester, and I'd
realised that wherever you went there'd probably be one of our stores
nearby. So I could transfer to that branch, but of course it would be
more convenient if I didn't need to."
That little speech amazed me and left me with ambivalent feelings.
Although I was flattered that he was prepared to move just so we could
keep seeing one another, I was concerned by the amount of commitment
that he implied. That wasn't quite what I expected from a no-strings
sex-buddy relationship. Before I could respond and while such
conflicting thoughts were still buzzing around my head Matt pulled me
down on top of him and began kissing me.
Matt was working on the Saturday after I told him about the possibility
of getting a postgraduate studentship, so the plan was that I would
study all day, he'd come over in the evening and then we'd spend the
night together. We also planned that on the Sunday we would spend part
of the morning together before he went home to clean his car, have
lunch with his mum and take her shopping. That would leave me with lots
of time to study before he came back to Hall, where we would spend the
Unfortunately, even the best laid plans don't always work out, and in
fact it's my experience that the more detailed or convenient a plan
happens to be, the more likely it is to go wrong. This particular plan
started to go awry on the Saturday night, shortly after a long,
energetic, and very enjoyable sex session. Matt, who for the last
couple of days had seemed quieter and more pensive than usual, broke
into my post-orgasmic doze.
"Do you love me?" he asked.
As often happened after a long lovemaking and a particularly good
orgasm, I'd been drifting half way between sleep and wakefulness for a
few minutes. Although his voice was quiet and his tone was unusually
hesitant, his mouth was just a couple of inches from my ear so I heard
the words clearly. However, it took several seconds for their meaning
to reach my consciousness and even then my mind tried to pretend that I
hadn't really heard the question I'd learned to fear.
"Ian? Are you awake?"
My comfortable content was replaced by a mixture of dread and anger. I
dreaded the consequences of the question and I was angry at him for
asking it, thus breaking our agreement by mentioning the L-word. I
tried hard not to allow my muscles to tense and thereby betray the fact
that I was indeed awake. Unfortunately my efforts were in vain and I
couldn't prevent a slight twitch in my limbs. A barely audible moan
escaped my lips .
"Are you okay?" he asked, sounding a little worried.
I felt him move away from me slightly, and then after a couple of
seconds there was a more substantial movement on the mattress.
Realising that any pretence at sleep was futile, I opened my eyes and
in the dim light saw that he was propped up on one elbow and looking
down at me with a slight frown furrowing his brow.
"Mmmm, yeah, I'm fine," I mumbled, "I was just dozing off."
Although I knew deep down that he wouldn't abandon his question I
closed my eyes again and hoped that just maybe he'd at least postpone
it to another day. As the silence between us dragged on I began to tell
myself that perhaps I might have a few more days or even weeks of
happiness before he asked the question again. However, it appeared that
he'd used this quiet time to summon up the courage to ask again.
"Did you hear me, then?" he said, trying unsuccessfully to hide the
tension and emotion in his voice, "I asked if you loved me."
A feeling of resignation began to grow in me when I realised there was
no escape, either mental or physical, from this situation. My mind
raced to try to come up with a response for him but although my mental
wheels were spinning frantically they found no traction. As the silence
between us lengthened the tension began to build, but still I couldn't
decide what to say. I knew I couldn't lie to him but I couldn't give
him a truthful answer because I myself didn't know what the truth was.
Eventually Matt broke the silence but that didn't decrease the tension.
He sighed deeply before speaking.
"I know we agreed not to bring up the L-word," he said, a note of
determination in his voice, "But just because you don't want something
to happen doesn't mean it won't happen."
"What?" I said, confused by his cryptic words.
"Well, if love was easy to control you wouldn't be so keen to avoid
It took me a few seconds to digest his words and then it occurred to me
that there might be a way to at least delay answering his question.
"Just because you can't control the weather doesn't mean you can't
avoid the rain," I said, pleased by my quick and clever response.
"You think you're sooooo clever, don't you?," Matt said disparagingly,
"Well maybe you are, but you're using the cleverness to avoid living
when you should be using it to enjoy life."
The thought occurred to me that I could turn this into one of our
heated discussions about our different attitudes to life and thereby
avoid the topic of love. However, I wasn't in the mood for an argument
and in any case I didn't think the tactic would succeed, so I just
"You're not going to answer my question, are you?" he said, his tone
indicating that it was as much a statement as it was a question.
He sat up, leaned back on the headboard and looked down at me as if he
were trying to read my mind. I just lay there and, unable to bear the
weight of his gaze, turned my head toward the ceiling. There was no
answer to give him because for months I'd been deliberately suppressing
even the mere idea of any emotional involvement. Of course I'd felt
emotions relating to Matt, but I'd purposefully avoided trying to
analyse them. Now he was asking me not only to examine them but to put
a label on them, and I just couldn't do it.
"I suppose that the fact you're not saying anything is a sort of
answer," he said, sounding disappointed and hurt.
Still I didn't say anything, not only because I couldn't answer his
question but now also because I was annoyed at him for bringing up this
"You must know by now that I love you. I thought you felt we were more
than just..." he said, his voice breaking with emotion as he tried to
find words to express himself, "I hoped... well, I suppose that doesn't
He sounded hurt and upset, which shocked me because I'd never heard him
like that before, not even when he'd talked about his break-up with
Harry. With a huge sigh he moved away from me and sat on the edge of
the bed, his face turned away from me and his shoulders hunched. After
remaining like that, apparently deep in thought, for what seemed to be
a long time, Matt sighed again, stood up and reached for his clothes.
As he got dressed, a part of me was screaming inside my head, telling
me that I should say something, anything to stop him leaving but the
words that came out of my mouth were totally inadequate.
"I thought you were staying overnight," I said, managing to sound both
pathetic and childishly petulant, "Can't we talk about the L-word
"Like when? Tomorrow? Next week? Next year?" he said doubtfully,
realising that my suggestion was really just a delaying tactic.
"Maybe after my exams?" I said hopefully.
"I don't think so," he said with a regretful determination, "If you
won't answer the question now then the answer is obviously not the one
I want to hear. I don't want to go through what Frank went through. I
prefer a quick, clean break rather than having things slowly festering
I was so stunned by his words and the finality of his tone that I
couldn't think of a response .
"Good-bye, Ian," he said as he put on his coat and picked up his
Although he tried to hide it, his voice, his face and his posture
revealed his inner pain and evoked the mental image of a wounded
animal. The inner voice screaming at me to say something grew more
insistent, but despite that I just lay there silently on my bed as if I
were paralysed. He opened the door and looked back toward me.
"Look after yourself," he said, then with a hint of bitterness he
added, "But I'm sure you will."
Then he was gone.
If you enjoy this story you might like to take a look at my other
"Not Always Easy"
Road Not Taken"
"Timing" (nifty/gay/college/timing.html) .
Visit my website...