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A Ship No One Asked For

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Over a week had passed since Arjun catching Jakub attending himself in the bathroom. For an event as painfully awkward as it was, it strangely drew the two of them somehow closer instead of driving them farther apart. Arjun didn't think they were quite "even," as Jakub had suggested, but he came to realize slowly that Jakub wasn't a horrible monster. Horribly misguided? Yes, but Jakub had respected Arjun's boundaries since then and so Arjun felt it was tolerable to un-cancel Jakub (while still keeping him on probation). Their chats were friendly and light-hearted. The topic of that afternoon on the terrace was never brought up, much to Arjun's relief. He didn't want that one moment to sully his memories of the Villa. They both had ups and downs with the women, and had each come close to being kicked or voted off. It was true that time passed much slower here, the terrace almost felt like ancient history. The gossip about the two of them had completely died off--moving onto other victims, as it always did. But Arjun couldn't help but wonder if Jakub was still bicurious. Each time that Arjun was tempted to mention it however, he held back. Helping Jakub come to terms with his sexuality would mean talking about what began the discussion in the first place. And they'd already made it past the tension of those first couple days--he didn't want to go back to that. So he kept his mouth shut. And hoped Jakub would find someone else to discuss it with whenever he was ready.

 

Jakub, Arjun, Gary, and Ibrahim were bantering off one another at the firepit after a particularly scandalous recoupling. Jakub was consoling Ibrahim, while Gary continued on making some good-spirited jokes at Ibrahim's expense. Arjun got in a few quips here and there, mostly just happy to enjoy the merry atmosphere and keep the drinks flowing. But it was getting late. "Rahim," Gary lamented. "Seriously mate, we should get you to bed." Arjun lightly jabbed Ibrahim with his elbow. "Oh how lucky you get to share the bed with Gary instead." The guys all laughed as Gary coaxed Rahim into standing up. "Right," said Gary, taking Ibrahim's arm around his shoulders to help him walk. "See you lads in the morning, then. Come on, Rahim." Ibrahim slurred slightly from the alcohol as he waved goodbye to Jakub and Arjun. "Night!" Jakub and Arjun chuckled as they waved back. Gary and Ibrahim disappeared eventually into the dim glow of the Villa lights. The fire in the pit was dying down, and Arjun reached for the lid to snuff it out.

Jakub grabbed Arjun's arm. "Wait."

Arjun grinned. "I'm trying to prevent an island fire, mate!" His smile vanished as he realized the serious look on Jakub's face. "What's wrong?"

Jakub released Arjun's arm and sighed, his palms together between his knees. "I don't know what I'm going to do about this recoupling. I spent all night trying to make Rahim feel better that I didn't get time to vent about my shit." Arjun shifted in his seat to face Jakub. "I take it you're not keen on the girl you ended up with?"

Jakub grimaced. "I mean, she's fine. It's just-." He looked down, and then up at Arjun. "I can't stop thinking about you."

Arjun didn't notice at first he was holding his breath. Not this again. Jakub must've guessed his thoughts, because he went on nervously. "I know, I know you're not interested, I just figured you should know what I've been feeling. So...I've had a really good time getting to know you, but it's just making it harder to not think of you that way, and I think I..." He trailed off.

Arjun closed his eyes. "I think we should just not talk to each other for the rest of our time here," Jakub finished. Arjun opened his eyes. Jakub was clearly crestfallen. He wondered how long he'd been holding onto this confession, waiting for the right moment to reveal it.

"Can I say something, Jakub?" Jakub nodded somberly. "Good," Arjun went on. "I've really enjoyed getting to know you too, and I think it'd be a shame to throw that away. I think I should get a say in this too." Jakub looked at Arjun with growing confusion.

"Now if I may be frank, you're not my usual type. And I don't make it a habit to go after guys who started off thinking my body was theirs to experiment with-." Jakub winced. "But I've been thinking too. And...you're at a crossroads." Jakub shrugged. "No you are," Arjun insisted. "Maybe you are straight, or pan, or bi, or what have you." 

"No. You don't understand, Arjun," Jakub cut in. Arjun was mildly intrigued by the underlying ferocity of Jakub's outburst. "I don't know what you call what I am, but it's only for you, and..and maybe there'll be some other guy down the road who will make me feel the same way and then I guess I can give myself a label then. But I've...I've looked at other guys trying to see if I feel anything and there's nothing there. It's. Just. You." 

They sat in silence for only a minute or two, but it felt like eons. His voice barely above a whisper, Arjun leaned in to Jakub. "Can I try something?" Jakub turned to face Arjun, their noses centimeters apart. Arjun hovered in that spot, waiting to see if Jakub would make the first move. He didn't. Arjun could see sweat forming on Jakub's forehead, his eyes darting frantically. Arjun took this time to take in Jakub's face. The cleft chin, the heavy-set brows, the strong nose. His lips looked inviting. Arjun hadn't really had the opportunity on the previous occasion to properly assess their softness. Arjun then closed the gap between them.

Jakub smelled of some aftershave Arjun couldn't put his finger on, and a bit of the smoke from the fire. He ran his left hand along Jakub's left thigh, and could feel Jakub's body stiffen, unsure of how to respond. It seemed as though Jakub's lips were frozen, warm but motionless. Finally, Jakub appeared to snap out of the initial shock and opened his mouth slightly to receive Arjun's touch. But after a few moments of that, Jakub was the one now who pulled away. 

"Not as good as you'd hoped?" Arjun smirked.

"Better than I'd ever imagined," Jakub retorted. This caught Arjun off-guard, sure that he had satisfied Jakub's curiosity so he could go back to living a heterosexual life. That would be way less complicated.

"I just have one last confession to make," Jakub said breathily. Arjun frowned. "What is it?"

Jakub half-chuckled, embarrassed, yet bold. "I was thinking of you when I came in the bathroom."