Hiding Out (CHO/HBTC Novella)

Chapter Two:
In a Spin

The bus was late, and Noah was getting agitated, although Matty could only tell because they were standing so close to each other. With the March winds in full effect, the bus shelter wasn't doing its job very well. Matty shivered; Noah sighed deeply again; Matty checked the time on his phone.

"It won't make it get here any quicker," Noah grumbled. Matty bit his lip, tempted to point out that huffing and sighing wouldn't help much either. Arguing with Noah when he was in one of those moods - which was nearly always - was even more pointless than checking the time, sighing and the bus shelter put together. He'd likely only say 'stop bugging me' and then they'd sit in silence for the whole hour on the bus. Well, they'd probably do that anyway.

Matty took his phone out again, saw Noah look skywards, and quickly opened a game, sneaking a look at the time while he waited for the game to start up. They were going to be late for uni.

"I'm going to book another driving test," Matty said, keeping his focus on his phone's screen. Noah nodded and said nothing. "Sol offered to give me some extra lessons, so I only need to find the money for the test."

"And a car."

"I'll get more hours at work."


"Ooh, you really are grumpy this morning."

Now Noah took his phone out, along with his earphones.

"Yeah, so," Matty continued, ignoring Noah's attempt at ignoring him, "if I get a cheap little car - not too little, or you won't be able to fit in it, and that kind of defeats the purpose, because I'm only doing it so we don't have to stand around in the wind and rain waiting for buses that might not ever get here. A little engine, I mean. The insurance is less then."

Matty stepped away to peer down the road: still no sign of the bus. He was going to miss his warm-up and end up going straight into rehearsing. Using the bus stop pole to steady himself, he started doing some stretches. Noah glanced up and sighed again.

"Sorry, got to warm up."

"Right here at the bus stop?"

"There's nobody around." Matty wrapped his arms around the pole, along with one leg, and spun through ninety degrees, leaning back and giving Noah an upside-down smile. "See? I can totally do Down Under."

In spite of his previous glumness, Noah laughed. "You're crazy, d'you know that?"

Matty righted himself, walked back over and put his foot up on one of the little plastic seats, bending to stretch his hamstring. "It's going to be a long day. I've got rehearsals till twelve, counsellor at two, then tech run at four, show at seven. Should be good though. Did I tell you what the third-year group are doing?"

"A Midsummer Night's Dream? Yeah. Only about sixteen times already."

"Honestly, Noah, it's amazing. They've got this one routine, where Puck - Nick, who's a postgrad, is playing him, and he's classical ballet - he does the most brilliant pirouettes, like they go on and on, and then he comes out of them, and I just know if it was me, I'd be - " Matty put both feet on the floor and staggered from side to side, acting dizzy. "But not Nick. He just heads straight on. You'd have to see it to believe it. Must be about ten in a row, well, maybe not that many, but - "

"Bus," Noah announced, kind of glad, because it would stop Matty yattering for a minute or so, although it was also good to see him happy.

The bus slowed and Noah followed Matty on board, both heading for the back, so that Noah could sit in the middle with his legs in the aisle, or else he'd be bunched up in his seat.

"What time are you in till?" Matty asked.

"About one."

"Want to meet up for lunch before you leave?" What Matty really meant was 'before my counselling session', which Noah understood. Talking about his parents was still so difficult for Matty, and he dreaded it, only going through with it because the counselling was making him feel better in the longer term. But on the day of the session, he fretted beforehand and felt like he'd been in a fight afterwards. At least today he had the dance show to distract him.

"Sure," Noah agreed, with not even the slightest hint of a sigh.

"Thanks." Matty's voice wavered. He blinked a couple of times and rubbed his eyes.

"You OK?"

"Yeah. Lens trouble."

Noah nodded. "So I was thinking, I'll get the bus home after lunch, and see if Adam will bring me back this evening. Seven, you said, right?"

Matty suddenly stopped blinking and rubbing and stared at Noah. "You're coming to the show? My show?"

"Well, yeah. I said I would, didn't I?"

"I just thought you agreed because..."

"You were nagging me? I did, but I do want to."

Matty sat back and stared out of the window, overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that he stayed quiet for the rest of the journey to Norwich, and managed little more than a mouse-like 'see you later' when Noah headed off for his Lit. lecture.

As Matty made his way to the dance studio, he kept replaying what Noah had said. He wants to come to my show. Without Noah around, he let the tears flow a little more freely, not that he ever stopped them out of shame. Noah was an enigma to most people - even his own brother - but deep down inside that six foot five of muscle and toughness was a delicate heart with so much compassion. When Matty cried, it hurt Noah; he could see it in his eyes. So he tried not to as best he could.

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