Noel phones Julian in the middle of the night, he's upset. Julian rushes to his aid.


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Julian was driving faster than he should have been, but he needed to get to Noel’s quickly. Besides, it was three o’clock and there was no one on the roads anyway. In his mind he replayed the conversation he’d had with Noel on the phone a few minutes earlier.

“Noel?” Julian mumbled groggily.
“Julian, thank god!” breathed Noel.
The strong bonds of sleep left Julian with a jolt.

Julian ran a red light.

“What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know what to do anymore…”
The desperate sound in Noel’s voice made Julian’s stomach tense.

He turned a corner sharply.

“About what?”
“My life.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“I can’t cope anymore.”
Noel sounded like he was on the verge of tears.

The car screeched to a holt outside Noel’s apartment.

“Can’t cope with what?”
“Everything, it’s just too much!”
“Ok, calm down.”
Noel took a deep breath.

Julian pushed through the door to the building.

“I’m afraid, Ju.”
“What are you afraid of?” said Julian softly.
“Myself,” Noel said weakly.

He took the stairs two at a time.

“Yourself? Why are you afraid of yourself?”
“I’m afraid I might do something… stupid.”

He ran down the corridor

“Noel, what exactly are you saying?”
“I’m afraid I’m going to hurt myself.”
“Listen to me Noel, I’m coming over! Don’t do anything until I get there!”

Julian stood in front of Noel’s door panting. He knocked loudly but there was no answer.
“Noel?!” Julian shouted.

Julian was panicking. He tried the handle, but the door was locked. Julian rammed his shoulder against the door again and again. His shoulder would have burned but the adrenaline numbed it.

Finally the door flew open and Julian thanked all the gods out there that the wooden doorframe was rotten.

He rushed inside, bellowing Noel’s name. Julian searched all the rooms and could find Noel nowhere. Then he noticed that the bathroom door was closed.

Julian tried to open the door but it too was locked. He banged his fist on it.
“Noel, are you in there?”
Julian could hear the faint sounds of someone crying.
“Please Noel…”

“Julian,” Noel gasped between sobs.
“Noel, let me in!”
“I need help, Ju.”
“I can’t help you unless you let me in.”
“I’m scared.”

When the phone call to Julian had ended, the silent waiting had been too much. The noiselessness created a vacuum in Noel’s head and each second felt like an hour. With Noel’s sense of time warped, it had been easy to convince himself that he was truly alone.

Noel was now sitting slumped against the bathroom door. His face was pale and streaked with tears. His mobile lay discarded on the floor and clutched in his hand was a knife; the fluorescent light glinted threateningly off its newly acquired dark red droplets.

“Why are you doing this?”
“I’m just so unhappy.”
Julian sat down and lent against the door.

“Why are you unhappy?”
“I don’t know,” said Noel in a shaky voice, “I shouldn’t be. Technically my life is great. I’m desperate for this feeling to end.”
“Noel, you need to be logical about this. You need to identify why you are unhappy if you want to fix it.”
“I feel like something is missing from my life… and, and…. And I’m trapped in the void that’s left. I feel worthless.”
“You know you’re not worthless.”
“I…I…” he stammered, “I just feel so unloved.”
“I might not be the right person to say this, but I love you. It might not make any difference, but there you go.”

Julian heard some sort of metal, which he assumed was a knife, clatter to the floor. He heard the tears erupt from Noel like broken dam, unstoppable. He was sobbing violently and it was probably the most pitiful sound Julian had, or would ever hear. It was heart wrenching to witness that kind of absolute and relentless pain burst out of Noel and not be able to comfort him, locked out of his cold, isolated prison.

Julian’s words grasped at Noel’s heart and reverberated in his head. In those two simple, bumbling sentences he realised something; he loved Julian. All the emotions welled up inside of him and broke out in brutal tears that stung his eyes. Noel shook as he wept, his chest felt tight and he gasped loudly between each equally loud sob. The large salty tears felt to Noel like they were cleansing him, healing his wounds. It was like bathing in the ocean, it stung all your scrapes and sores but you felt free and knew that the wounds would heal faster that way.

Julian hoisted himself up off the floor and knocked tentatively when Noel’s wails became whimpers and sobs became sniffles.
“Please let me in.”

Noel reached up from the floor, turned the key and shifted away to allow Julian to open the door.

Julian opened the door slowly. He knelt beside Noel, who had his hands in front of his face. Julian stroked Noel’s hair. Noel removed his face from his hands and looked up. His face was ghostly pale and his eyes were red, making the blue stand out startlingly.

A glint on the floor caught Julian’s eye. The knife lay on the discoloured linoleum, its edge a deep crimson. He grabbed Noel’s hands and turned them over. Each wrist had three very shallow cuts across the width. He wouldn’t need stitches, Julian was relieved to see.

Noel looked guiltily upon Julian’s shocked face. Julian looked up, his eyes sad, almost pleading.
“Why?” he whispered
“I guess I just thought that it would numb the loneliness. I thought that maybe I’d feel better if I…I…” he choked.

Julian pulled him into a strong hug.

Noel rested his head into Julian’s chest and wrapped his arms around his waist tightly, as if afraid to let go. He sighed deeply, breathing in the reassuring scent of old, musky deodorant.

Julian rubbed Noel’s back comfortingly and soon felt Noel relax into him. Noel was clearly exhausted.

Julian picked Noel up and carried him into his bedroom. Noel clung, childlike, onto Julian’s neck. He was placed softly onto his bed and as soon as he felt Julian’s warm hands move away he grasped for them.
“Don’t leave me.”

Julian removed his shoes and looked down at Noel, his eyes soft and caring.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
He climbed onto the bed and wrapped Noel in his arms. Noel felt completely safe and strangely calm.

“No problem.”

Julian ran his hand along Noel’s arm, wriggled it into his tight fist and squeezed his hand firmly. They lay there for a while listening to each other breath.

“I love you too, y’know.”
“I know, little man.”
“This probably isn’t the best time to do this, but if I don’t, I never will.”
“I think I’m in love with you.”
Julian’s heart gave a flutter and his mouth went dry.

Noel turned around to face him.

“It’s ok if you don’t feel the same, but I needed you to know.”

Julian took Noel’s face in his hands. He lent in and lightly kissed Noel’s forehead, then nose. His gentle mouth found Noel’s stunned yet eager.

Julian pulled away and looked deeply into Noel’s vulnerable eyes.

“I think I’m in love with you too.”

Noel’s face broke out into a broad smile and he snuggled into Julian. They both soon fell asleep, dreaming the same dream of devotion and intimacy.

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