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Owen was still apprehensive; still noticeably unnerved; the salty taste still prominent at the back of his throat getting him hot and filling him with confusion all at once. How he managed to do what he’d done, how he deeply enjoyed it, was beyond him. Noel soothed him with a wary hand to the side of his neck, which was sweaty from exertion, and pressed their lips together softly, taking away every bit of anguish that clouded his mind.
“How was that, was it alright?” Noel tried to sound as casual as he could, frightened that he had inadvertently forced him to do something he didn’t like. Owen could only nod frantically.
“Good.” He smiled, and thumbed the little patch of blood that collected under the skin of his lip.
“Was I good?”
They sat on his bed, drinks in hand, and Noel leaned to open a little drawer. He shook off the hesitation of his hand as it motioned towards the handle, and pulled out a large sketchbook with a struggle. It was almost as long as his forearm vertically, slightly shorter horizontally, and quite thick. A green hard cardboard cover protected it. It looked neat despite the dog-earing that formed in one of the corners. With a nervous smile, he handed it over to Owen, who could swear he saw a hint of a tremor in Noel’s hand as he proceeded to flip through.
Unlike the neat cover, the pages kept inside were anything but. They were dishevelled and wrinkly, as if they had been crumbled, folded into a ball and then flattened again. Some had two deep perpendicular creases along the middle lines, and some had that unfortunate irreversible waving of dried liquid on paper. The pages were ranging between different shades of white and yellow, clearly not belonging to the same sketchbook, with the remnant of where they’d been torn at the top or the side.
What really fascinated him, however, was the content of the book. First page had a pencil drawn tree. One tree with the main trunk to the right side of the page, and a main branch stretched over to the left, the end of which was not on show. There were no leaves, just large branches trailing into smaller and smaller ones, detailed dents and knobs of the bark like Earth cracks after years of drought. It was gloomy, dark for the most part, and at the bottom left corner, the words “Greeneville, TN, 2008” were scribbled.
The next page also had a tree which was abundantly green with blossoming orange flowers, and the sky was sprayed with the red and yellow clouds of sunset. Bottom was signed “Rowlett, TX, 2008”. Owen flicked through in amazement, taking painting after painting in with his eager eyes in the mixed hastiness and lingering of the awestruck. Each painting was of trees; sad trees, happy trees, dying trees, colourful, dainty, and pleasant, or sharp, grotesque, and dreary trees, and at the bottom of each page there was a different date and place.
He studied them closely with his eyes wide open, devouring each stroke of a pencil, and blotch of colour, impressed by how different shades blended harmoniously in some areas, and collided in others for contrast. The ones that had absolutely no colour at all struck him as pale and lifeless at first, but the more he looked at branches intertwining, entangling, and breaking, he could sense what he could only describe as energy. It was like each painting had its own energy; was its own entity, and gave different vibrations. It felt to him that looking wasn’t enough, so he tried to connect through touch. He traced each line with the pulps of his fingers, trying to absorb those vibrations into his core; pressing over dents, crushing fallen leaves, and cutting his skin over splinters.
It had been just a few moments, and Owen was in a trance. He flipped the last page just as Noel placed his glass carefully on the nightstand -a sound that was like a snap of fingers to the hypnotised. He raised his gaze, and realised he hadn’t tasted a sip of his own drink, and that he was far too indulged in the paintings to give Noel any sort of feedback -as if the look on his face was not enough.
The look on Noel’s face, on the other hand, was the most alien and unexpected thing he could imagine. Noel had always come off as the strong and confident type, but at that moment he looked guarded. He had one leg underneath him and the other drawn close to his chest, and, most surprising of all, he was wringing his hands. Although he remained quiet, he was biting his tongue -both literally and figuratively- to hold back the words he wished to scream, pleading with Owen to say something.
He was lucky that Owen knew that look too well, however, not lucky enough because Owen never knew what to say when confronted with vulnerability that seemed so out of place -out of character. Owen cleared his throat, and uttered the only observation he avcılar escort was able to vocalise.
“You travel a lot,” he said.
The bottom left corner had different cities in different states up until 2010. After that, it became international. Starting with Guadalajara, Mexico, 2010; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 2010; Nottingham, England, 2010; Limerick, Ireland 2011; Prague, Bucharest, Tarragona, Geneva, Milan, Machu Picchu, Izmir, and on and on he went, occasionally going back to an American state, just to leave again and capture another tree from another side of the planet.
“I move around a lot, yes.” Noel said. His voice was strikingly hoarse, even to himself. He cleared his throat, and continued, “This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere, actually. Nearly two years in New Jersey now. Here, look.” He flicked through the sketchbook with nervous, trembling hands until he found the page he wanted. It was a line of trees over some hills. There was a body of water, and, in the distance, a row of non-detailed tall buildings. At the bottom, it read Passaic, NJ, 2014. “I drew this the day I arrived. I’d love to take you to this spot. I think you’ll like it.”
There was a pause as Owen smiled awkwardly, and Noel finally said, “I mean, I did travel since then, but only for a few days and then I come back here. But, ever since I was fifteen, I don’t think I’ve lived anywhere for more than… six, maybe seven months.”
“How can you afford it?” Owen felt ridiculous, lingering on a topic he wished he hadn’t started, but went on with the momentum.
“You’d be surprised how much money you can save up if you stop paying The Big Man.” Noel said with a smirk, “plus, all I need is a plane ticket. As soon as I get there, I can find my way around.”
“You’re brilliant.” He uttered almost as a reflex.
Noel smiled, and some colour rushed to his pale cheeks. “Thank you.”
“No, I’m serious. This… Have you been to art school?”
“Oh, god no!” he fired back immediately, “Art school is where art goes to die.”
“I thought that’s where they teach people art.”
“That’s what they tell you. But, they slowly stifle your soul with all their rules, and sculpt you into whatever block they want.”
Owen shrugged at the automatic response. It seemed to be another argument that Noel had either rehearsed or done to death, and those were the kind of arguments he never bothered to get into.
“Well, art school or not, this shouldn’t be in a drawer.” he traced a tree branch lightly, “Look at all the detail. The feelings. The… waves.” He said, for lack of a better word, “This should be in an art gallery!”
“Owen! Please, don’t say that.” he said firmly, and frowned. Owen’s fingers froze in place, dumbfounded by the unusual reaction, and Noel grabbed his empty glass, turned it in his hands a few times, and put it back.
“Sorry. I went to art galleries before, and… No, art shouldn’t be displayed in such a devaluing manner. It shouldn’t be judged, just felt -experienced.”
“But, if Michelangelo had said the same thing-”
“Yeah, and Michelangelo’s dead!” he snapped, “What good did any of it do him?”
Owen shrugged again at another Noel Stock Response. It seemed to him, at times, that when Noel opens his mouth it was like pressing play on a record.
“I’ve sold paintings before,” Noel said, calmly, “When I go around Europe, people love getting portraits of themselves, or their dogs, or whatever. Easy money for me, and they’re always happy taking it home. But this- This is like my diary. There’s too much of me revealed in there.” He trailed off at the end before maintaining his low tone, “I’ll be hanged on a wall before any of those paintings are.”
“That’s a bit much, isn’t it?” He chuckled nervously, and Noel smiled in a way that showed he meant every word he’d said.
“Art is healing to me, Owen. I don’t want it to be another source of distress.”
“Are you scared of negative comments? Is that it?”
Noel’s smile didn’t falter, “Much more scared of positive ones.”
The odd familiarity of Noel’s philosophy was not lost on Owen. He often, himself, would go through periods of time when showing anyone the music he’d written, especially something far too personal, was too overwhelming. He knew that, if it weren’t for his father’s support and David’s brutal honesty, all his songs and notes would wind up in a ragged notebook in a drawer by his bed, too. But even then, years after learning to grow thick skin and take feedback with a pinch of salt, it was still nerve-wracking to be exposed, and that was exactly what he held in his hands -Noel, exposed; unadulterated, unedited. A peek into Noel’s soul.
He gathered himself, and asked the question he’d been meaning to ever since Noel handed him the book, “why are you showing this to me, then?”
Noel saw it coming a mile away, but he still paused for what seemed like a lifetime. Owen hoped to dig around for an answer to his musings. avrupa yakası escort Perhaps Noel trusted him more than anyone else, or he actually meant something to him -something more than just the singer at the bar. Maybe he wished to share his secret after Owen had shared his own. It was all wishful thinking, and he didn’t want to get hyped over nothing. Noel finally gave him a shrug, and a hesitant smile, and then he took the sketchbook back into his drawer.
The dismay in Owen’s face was evident as his hopes were in ashes, so Noel felt that he deserved more than just a shrug.
“I don’t know.” He said, redundantly, “I- I don’t know, really. I never thought anyone would care. Anyone else, I mean.”
Owen’s face didn’t light up until he’d heard the last sentence. “Are you kidding me? A working class artist going around the world and painting trees? People would be all over this kind of stuff.” He said, getting more cheerful, “It will be like Bruce Springsteen meets Stanley Donwood!”
Noel had no idea who any of those people were, but was flattered nonetheless. He turned to him, all hints of defencelessness gone, and replaced by flirtatious, lustful boldness that caught him off guard.
“There’s something else I really wanted to draw.”
Owen raised his eyebrows. He was once again under the mercy of the blue eyes that shattered him to pieces. Noel took the full glass off him, and placed it next to his empty one, then reached for his neck with a fearless hand, and grabbed his necklace.
“This.” He held the butterfly between his thumb and forefinger. A warm smile spread across Owen’s face.
“Maddie would love that,” he said, “My little sister, Madeline. She’s the one who gave this to me.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“She loves butterflies, and… drawing, and…”
He drew him forward by the chain, and Owen bucked back gradually. The final bit of composure within him dissipated, and he was weak again, laid on his back by the weight of Noel’s body, and the gentle force that he’d never seen on anyone else; the one that made him feel safe and endangered at the same time, with nothing to hold on to but trust.
One of his arms was trapped under Noel’s body, and his head rested on the arm that wrapped around him and dangled over his chest. Noel’s free hand tightened the chain around his neck until it left a red line, and Owen yelped, supplicating, although he didn’t wish for the material stinging his skin to stop. He was overtaken by Noel’s sudden determination, stripping him of all his power and good senses, leaving nothing but the need for more.
Noel leaned closer, and Owen froze, his eyes shooting rays of agony, and he swallowed hard. At that moment, he physically needed to feel Noel’s lips on him, but he was too powerless to say it; beg it; scream it, and Noel found it too amusing to tease him.
“Don’t get all coy, now, Matthews.” He said, “You had me pinned against the wall earlier!”
Owen blushed and nearly stammered, “Sorry about that.”
“No, you’re not.” They both chuckled, and Noel drew him in closer with a desperate, breathy ‘come here’, and captured his lips in a kiss that brought a moan out of both of them. The kiss was slow and sensuous then switched to steady licks to soothe the quiver of Owen’s chin that coincided with each rasp of his breath. When he felt Owen calm down a bit, he curled his fingers behind his neck and took him deeper, while his tongue explored the inside of his mouth, tasting both of them in there, and just to drive Owen a little more wild, he thrust his hips against his side. He was already getting hard, but the noise Owen made got him fully erect in a second.
If there was one way to describe Noel’s attitude it would be ‘rough’. The way he kissed, groped, fondled, or simply stroked were all tinged with a bit of force. He didn’t intend to hurt him, not at all, but was doing it hard enough to show who was in charge, swaying between impatient, calm, and ravaging; the way he caught Owen’s already tender bottom lip and chewed on it between his teeth, or how his fingers groped their way through his skin until they found a nipple to torment. Not to mention the scratching and scraping of nails and teeth against pale skin leaving raw red trails, making Owen wrinkle the sheets in his hands, wailing and begging for more. He was being rough, completely and utterly, with every meaning of the word, and if Owen thought he had dominated him earlier by shoving him against a wall, he was mistaken; it was nothing compared to how Noel did it; so effortlessly as if it were second nature.
Owen’s skin was well fired up. Every touch, pinch, and scratch had him gasping, wanting, or better yet needing something he couldn’t yet determine. Whether he needed him to go harder or to slow down, he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he didn’t want him to stop, and that handing himself over to Noel was the most devastatingly sexy thing he’d ever experienced. He submitted to him without question, bağcılar escort relinquishing all his will with every grunt and whimper he so charmingly let out, every time he opened his mouth wider to accept more of his tongue deeper inside, and every time he arched his body just to push his skin a bit harder against anything it could reach. He was his, and they both knew it.
The delicious sound of a belt unbuckling registered itself in Owen’s head, and before he knew what was happening, he felt his jeans and boxers being snatched down, and he raised his arse off the bed involuntarily. His free hand ended up gripped in Noel’s, and a similar, familiar grip was placed around his rock hard cock. Despite bracing himself against the anticipated crushing of Noel’s unyielding clasp, he still couldn’t manage to suppress a loud gasp which then was followed by a plea to keep going.
Noel’s grip only got tighter as he moved up his shaft until his thumb brushed against the head, and Owen thought he was going to come right then. The tingling that went up and down his spine was becoming more and more pronounced, and he tried to keep his breath steady, and focus on Noel gently kissing the corner of his jaw, and the pots of plants arranged neatly over a white windowsill. Everything in Noel’s studio was so neat that the discarded t-shirts and pair of jeans by the door seemed annoyingly odd.
“You know,” Noel croaked, clearly out of breath himself, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that wasn’t your first blowjob.”
Owen laughed and moaned at the same time. The hand around him was moving slowly, just enough to make him want nothing else.
He could feel the bones in Noel’s fingers through his skin, and was certain that there were four red streaks or even more around his cock.
“Loved it.” Noel’s voice was barely audible. His teeth sank in Owen’s earlobe, and he moved his hand faster, making him growl and thrust up into him, careful to stop just before Owen was past the point of no return. He wasn’t done with him yet.
Owen writhed underneath him, squirming and twitching, begging him in all ways but verbal not to stop, but it was too late; Noel’s hand had been removed, after giving him a tight squeeze below the crown, and torturing him with a thumb over his weeping slit. A frustrated sigh broke out of Owen’s throat as his cock, over-sensitised now that it wasn’t being touched, fell heavy over his stomach.
Nails were digging into the front of his thigh, and he was slowly coming back to his senses. Noel’s hands roamed, glided, and fondled everywhere except where he wanted them to, and his body snaked and squirmed for the right touch at the right place, but it was always teasingly just beyond reach. He wished, for the life of him, that he could free even one hand, or that he had the courage to say how desperate he was for a touch, just one touch, but he knew that, right there in Noel’s bed, there was only one person in control and it wasn’t him.
It finally dawned on him what Noel was doing. With each stroke, he felt him getting closer and closer to an area he himself had never been brave enough to explore, although, he wouldn’t lie, he’d thought about it many times. He held his breath, terror stricken, but Noel didn’t stop. Instead, he buried his face further into the crook of his neck, leaving gentle kisses, while his hand moved attentively up his inner thigh. The former balance between threatened and safe tipped over towards threatened, and Owen chanted ‘No’ repeatedly in his head, hoping it would work as some sort of spell, or even telepathy.
Noel’s wicked hand was relentless, moving firmly between his legs towards its cowering goal. Just as he reached Owen’s puckered skin, he felt tingling over the back of his hand. It wasn’t a touch of encouragement, it wasn’t deterring, either; it was a touch of sheer fright.
Neither of them knew what he was pleading for, nor how he managed to free his hand. He was scared, and they couldn’t proceed any further before he got over his fear. Noel smiled warmly at him, then drew his hand up and planted a kiss on one of his knuckles.
“Please, let me.” He took Owen’s wrist back into his grip, making sure not to let go again, “You’ll like this. I promise.”
His voice was soft and sweet, echoing in Owen’s head and assertively luring him out of his nest. The cocoon he had created around himself was dissolving at an incomprehensible speed, and he couldn’t wrap his head around what went on, but the manner in which Noel spoke, and his overall assertive attitude had him give a nod, signalling to do with him as he pleased.
The tips of Noel’s fingers danced over his body, tracing a line from ribs to navel, making him tighten and draw sharp breaths. Despite him agreeing to this, his body was putting up a fight. All his muscles hardened, he was stiff as a board except for his wrist caught in Noel’s hand -it was twisting and turning too much that it started to burn.
Noel stroked lightly towards his cock, which, surprisingly to both of them, didn’t go down one bit. He moaned then stiffened again when Noel moved south. There was gentle pressure on the little lump of muscles and nerve endings just below his balls. It felt nice, but he could only clench and close his legs. He wasn’t making it easy for either of them.
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