“Hey, good afternoon.”

I turned, caught the eye of the guy who had just spoken to me from across the counter at work, and instantly fell in lust. He was still talking, and so naturally, my stare drifted down to the most gorgeous thing God had ever created – his lips. They were full, a slightly darker hue than his skin colour, and carved so sensuously, you just know that God made them especially for the pleasure of a kiss.

It was with some effort that I pulled my attention from that centre of attraction to the words that were asking for service. He was not a happy customer, and his displeasure was etched on a face that was much too beautiful to be surly. I turned on a smile, ever so solicitous, wanting to be helpful in any way I could, wanting to make an impression. In that moment, I wished I possessed the flirtatious skills of one or two friends of mine, who can be wickedly humorous in the face of company, straight or gay, new or old. With this beautiful young man, I had nothing to say, no quick wit to offer, no scintillating quip to render. We were doomed that afternoon to be the customer and the service provider, nothing more.

But I came out of that encounter with one bit of success; I had his name (Akan Essien, for the purpose of this writeup). So, when he was on his way away from me, I quickly went to the one place where all thirsty people go to quench their thirst – the social media, specifically Facebook. I typed in the name, clicked Search, and a microsecond later, Zuckerberg handed over my beautiful stranger’s online persona to me. I got busy, clicking open his profile and perusing his pictures, soaking in the bright beam of his smile and envying all those males and females in those pictures who were basking in the warmth of his company.

I wanted to be them. I wanted to be in their place. I wanted to be with him. With Akan.

So I sent him a friend request.

Now what?

Wait fest na, let him accept the request.

I logged off Facebook and returned to work.

A couple of days passed, a couple of days filled with wistful thoughts of Akan, the owner of those lips that simply begs to be kissed and skin the colour of smooth cocoa that beckons the adventure of your tongue. I wanted him! But by God, how could I get him?

Then he came back.

“Good evening,” he said as he drew up to my work station.”I need some service.”

“I’d love nothing more,” I quipped oh-so-salaciously.

The innuendo bounced off him, because of course, male customers do not expect male service providers to flirt with them. He was all-business, brisk and straight to the point, although he responded to my solicitous smile with one of his own.

Oh sweet heavens!

Oh let thy living waters flow!

As we rounded up our business, I wanted o ask him about Facebook. So hey, did you happen to see any friend request from a so-and-so with a cheeky grin on his profile picture?

But I didn’t. I was too tongue-tied to cross that line. And he was too fine for me to gather that liver.

He left again, and I returned to my daydreaming. Of Akan. Of me. Of me and Akan. Skin against skin, sliding through sheets, intermingled cries of satisfaction. In my dreams, I orgasmed several times over, and Akan took me on every one of those journeys.

Then a few more days passed. And a Facebook notification dropped in. Akan Essien has accepted your friend request.

Hallelujah!

Okay, now what?

Erm…er…

I navigated to his inbox. Hello, I typed.

Now, we wait.

I waited and waited, until time passed, and sex happened with other people, and other beautiful people came and passed through my work station, while my ‘Hello’ remained Sent but not Seen.

The day came when I uploaded a particularly hilarious meme on Instagram, one which pulled in a hefty number of Likes and comments. And then, right there, a notification dropped in: Akan Essien liked your photo.

What!

I clicked on the name. The profile opened with a new page. And there he was. It was truly him!

I quickly followed him, liked a few pictures, asked for a follow-back. He followed back. And moments later, over in Facebook, his reply pinged into my inbox: Hi, what’s up?

I was elated. Oh my God! He’s here! He’s saying hi! It’s all happening so fast!

I responded. He replied. And there followed a light-hearted conversation that eventually veered off into Whatsapp.

I was attracted to Akan, too attracted to hold back on being forthright with him. I didn’t even know if he was gay or straight, but over time, he’d shown what a good heart he had. So I figured I’d out myself to him, complete with my desire for him, and either get turned down but retain his friendship or be received as a lover. I refused to consider that he might turn me down and turn his back on our friendship.

So I took in a deep breath and ripped off the band-aid.

He was flattered, but “…I’m sorry but I’m straight.” He was gracious about it. And he was intrigued with me, this gay friend he suddenly realized he had. He encouraged our friendship, encouraged me to be real with him, and never once judged. With him, there was no prejudice, just humour and a frank interest in my life and journey as a gay Nigerian. I provided education and he learned. I introduced him to Kito Diaries and he could not believe such a world existed. I talked about love and heartbreak, and he was astounded by the parallels we shared in our relationships, gay and straight. I slipped into darkness and he shed some light. I looked to laugh, and he was ready with the humour.

Somehow, this stranger I’d started out desiring became the straight friend I’d honestly never had.

Several months passed, and peppering our conversations was this intention to meet again, to spend some time in each other’s company. He lived in Ibadan, and for the longest time, the right weekend for a visit just couldn’t happen.

Eventually it did, and he asked me over. I travelled light, sat in the front passenger seat of a cab that seemed to fly over the road with an urgency I felt. About three hours later, I was walking into the fastfood where Akan said he’d be waiting for me. I stood at the entrance and looked around, seeking the familiar face. And then, there he was, rising while flashing a smile at me. As I walked over to him, I took him in, molecule after molecule. I had almost forgotten how tall he was. I had almost forgotten what a bright beam his smile was. And I had almost forgotten how, in spite of the steady hum of our friendship, he was the beautiful man I’d fallen in lust with.

Be still, my beating heart.

Several moments later, we were in his abode. He was a delightful host, very considerate, almost surprised that I wasn’t high maintenance. We bantered a lot, our laughter and teasing more unrestrained without the inhibitions of phone calls and chat messages.

He worked out, and panting, he dropped the dumbbells and gasped, “Fuck me.”

To which I deadpanned, “Anytime.”

He laughed hard at that. The chemistry of our friendship was just right.

When the sun sank in the West that day and the darkness rose over the sky, we huddled together on the bed to watch another beautiful man, Omari Hardwick, do his thing on the TV series, Power.

My fatigue took over soon, and I turned away from the laptop and slipped into slumber. It was a deep, undisturbed sleep, but I drifted ashore at separate times – when he turned off the laptop, when the night got cold, and when he moved his lying position from being half on the bed and half on the floor to fully stretched out beside me on the bed.

And still I slept.

The chill heightened when it began raining, and the shivers running through my body woke me up and caused me to instinctively seek the comfort of the nearest warmth – Akan’s body. He was lying with his back to me, and so I curled into a ball behind him. But I wasn’t wearing any top and the cold was assaulting my bare back and legs. Emboldened by my desperation for warmth, I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. He didn’t resist; he moved, turning so he was now lying on his back, and giving me the opening to burrow against him. His right arm lay uselessly under my head as I engaged my legs with his.

“Hold me,” I growled impatiently, tugging at the useless right hand.

His laughter rumbled through the chest beneath my head. “I’ve never held a guy before,” he said.

“Well, it’s the same as holding a girl,” I muttered, dropping the hand over my shoulder.

The hand stayed in place. He remained unresisting beside me, not even recoiling when I snaked my hand over his midriff to clutch him close to me.

“You’re cold,” he observed. “Do you want me o get you a wrapper?” He was fully clothed.

“No,” I demurred and held him closer.

“I should get you a wrapper,” he said when I shivered again.

“Don’t worry. This is fine.”

And so we laid there, bodies mashed together, limbs entangled, no sleeping. I noticed that his left hand was placed over his crotch, and his heart beat was a rapid tattoo beneath me.

Now what?

Now…I don’t know.

A lot of things flashed through my mind, emotions that were tugging this way and that, feelings and reason clashing for supremacy. I wanted him so much; in those moments, my entire nerve endings were fired up with need for this man lying this close to me. I had an erection, full and throbbing, and I wondered if he could feel my dick’s spasms through our clothes. I wanted to know if he had an erection, to know if I’d given him one, if I could give him one. All I had to do was slide my hand down, displace his hand and grab at his crotch.

But I couldn’t. I felt both desirous and afraid. I feared that I might damage something irreparably if I invaded him that way. I feared that he might put a stop to my amorousness, that he would say no, that he would push me away back into the cold. I feared that he would say yes and yield to the lust that would kill our friendship the morning after. I feared the risk of the unknown.

So now what?

Now…I still don’t know.

I thought about all those gutsy gay men with their outrageous stories of boldly seducing straight men. I wondered why I didn’t have such gumption. I wondered what was more important to me, forcing his passion now and damning the consequences, or letting him be and preserving what already is.

Lying there, cuddled up next to him, the beat of his heart serving as a rhythm to my ear, I made my decision when I murmured, “You’re not asleep, are you?”

“No,” he murmured back.

“Can we talk – you know, just talk about stuff?”

“Sure,” he answered.

And for the rest of the night till the bleary wink of dawn, all we did was talk.

Written by Pink Panther

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