Chapter 1: Cold War
It was another steamy day on the Villa, and Arjun was relaxing by the pool. His soft, tan skin glowed in the warmth of the Spanish sun, his feet playfully splashing the water in the pool to cool himself off.
An unexpected shadow was cast over his spot on the grass. Arjun peered over his sunglasses at the intrusion. Jakub loomed over him, in that Neanderthal stance of his.
Arjun sighed and looked back out at the horizon. "Hey Jakub." Jakub grunted.
Arjun uncrossed his legs and sat up straight. "Can I help you with something?"
Jakub shifted his weight on his legs. "I need your help with an issue on the terrace." That raised Arjun's eyebrows. What could a big guy like Jakub possibly need help with?
Arjun laid back down. "Sorry Jakub, I'm kind of busy right now." Jakub stepped closer and knelt down.
"Please, Arjun? I need this." Arjun rolled his eyes, but his curiosity was spiking. "Okay fine, let's get whatever this is taken care of quickly so I can get back to my very important business." He got up, and Jakub smiled, gesturing for him to follow up to the terrace.
Jakub stepped into the blazing light of the terrace, with Arjun right behind. Arjun cast a cursory glance at the area. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. "Alright, what's this about then?"
Jakub hesitated. "You...you're like--", he lowered his voice into a whisper. "--bi, right?" Arjun folded his arms. "So that's the big issue you had to resolve? Trying to figure out my sexuality? It's none of your business who I chose to fuck or not fuck." Jakub rubbed the back of his neck, looking at the ground. "No, no that's not why I asked. I mean, I guess it kind of is..."
Arjun's chest puffed out and he pointed at Jakub. "Do you have a problem with people being bi? Because I have a problem with that." "No, that's not it." "Then what?"
Jakub closed the remaining space between them and planted a sloppy kiss on Arjun's lips. Arjun's eyes widened in shock before recoiling, and pushing Jakub away. "Dude, what the FUCK?" He wiped Jakub's saliva off his lips. "You can't just go around sexually assaulting people! Who the fuck do you think you are?" Arjun's face flushed with rage, fists at the ready to launch at the stupid bastard's face. "You think just because I'm bi that I'm less of a man? Well newsflash for you, bitch, I've taken down homophobes like you before." Arjun didn't consider himself a violent man--at the end of the day, he just wanted to pet doggies at his job. But growing up with others questioning his orientation had taken its toll on his nerves, and he hated giving people a reason to confirm their biases of Desi men as barbaric, but who else was going to stand up for him?
Jakub sat down on the sofa, head in his hands. "I know, look--I'm sorry. I just didn't know how else to--"
"How else to not be an asshole?"
Jakub's voice was low, but tense. "Let me finish, okay?" Arjun scowled, but he relented.
"I um...I never really..," Jakub faltered. "I don't know if feeling like this is normal? I've honestly never felt this before." Arjun's expression softened slightly, and he sat down as well on the other side of the sofa. He cleared his throat. "Felt like what?"
Jakub looked up at him, somewhat relieved. Then just as quickly, retreated into himself again. "I just always assumed I was you know...straight." He left a long pause. "Until I saw you walk into Casa Amor." Arjun attempted to hide his surprise, but ended up blushing. He wanted to slap himself--why was he blushing at this guy who'd just forced himself onto him?
Jakub continued, "So..I don't know a whole lot about this stuff and..I know a couple of the other guys had talked about, about..those kinds of experiences and-." He shook his head. "I thought it was probably just a man crush or something like that and it probably is but." He bit his lip and glanced at Arjun. Arjun's face had since steeled itself, not giving anything away.
"Anyway," Jakub exhaled. "I just wanted to see if there was anything to it. But I royally fucked up, bruv, I'm so sorry. There's no excuse." Arjun nodded. "You can say that again."
"Yeah...I know. You don't have to forgive me but please just know I'm not like that usually, I swear."
Arjun took a deep breath. He wasn't quite sure what to make of this. Jakub's pain seemed real, he knew it all too well. He extended his hand across the sofa. "Mate, just promise me you learned your lesson and won't go around doing anything like this ever again." Jakub's eyes became misty. "Thank you, I really don't deserve a second chance, but I truly appreciate it." Arjun laughed. "None of us are perfect, we're all cunts at one point or another. Although, you could just like, ask someone who's already shown interest next time?"
Jakub smiled sadly. "Yeah, huh, I should've thought of that." They both stood up and moved towards the stairs. Arjun clapped Jakub's back encouragingly. Jakub went downstairs first, but not before lingering on the steps to turn back and smile up at Arjun. "See you around."
Arjun stayed behind a moment, letting Jakub walk out of eyesight. He put his hands in his swimsuit pockets, and looked out at the view of the Villa. His right foot tapping, he decided he could resume his sunbathing up there.
Chapter 2: Armistice
Arjun: Hit or miss, yeah I bet they never miss, huh? You got a boyfriend/I bet he doesn't kiss ya!
A few days had passed in the Villa since Jakub tried to have his way with Arjun on the terrace. They had largely avoided each other, save for the passing awkward glances and nervous smiles. Arjun had tried to put the incident out of his mind, and focus on grafting with the girls. He had no way of knowing if the exchange between them would be aired on television or not. He was out to most of his family and important people in his life, but bi men don't get endorsement deals after their time on the show. He turned up the hetero to compensate for the murmurs going around of what had happened. It was nearly impossible to keep a secret on this island. One of the girls he'd been romancing straight up asked him if he was sure he was into girls, and he had to swallow his pride to keep from calling her out and storming off. The fury he'd held onto towards Jakub in the moment had largely dissipated, but he hadn't quite forgiven him, despite his outward display of goodwill.
It was the mid-day lull between breakfast and the afternoon challenge, and Arjun had to use the loo. As he got closer to the door, he thought he heard the occasional slapping sound, followed by moaning. He stopped just before the bathroom entrance, contemplating his choices. The noises could be totally innocent? Nah, this is Love Island. He could go piss in one of the bushes? Yeah but what if the film crew caught that? Then he'd still have to wash his hands. Arjun huffed, whoever was doing the devil's tango in the restroom would just have to suck it up. They shouldn't be fooling around in a common area anyway. He slid into the room cautiously, trying to remain silent while he could ascertain the source of the noises. Nobody in the showers, nobody on the sinks. He approached the stalls by the urinals, the sounds growing louder. He bent down and peeked under the stall doors, someone was sitting on one of the toilets. Of course. Even in a place with an assortment of attractive women, there would be some guy too horny to contain himself. He stifled a chuckle and stood in front of one of the urinals. The sounds abruptly stopped upon Arjun beginning his business. "Oh don't let me stop ya, fella," he called out bemusedly. He shook it off and went to go wash his hands. A thought occurred to him that made him grin childishly, as he lathered his palms. He couldn't tell which one of the white guys it was--normally he didn't pay close attention to random mens' legs--so he thought to cover his bases. "You know," he tried to project his voice over his shoulder while still looking in the mirror in front of him. "Some girls don't like it when their partners jack off without them. Might wanna bring that up to her to check." No response. He laughed softly and rinsed off his hands.
Suddenly, a loud, shuddering groan pierces the quiet. The sticky sound of semen drips onto the bathroom floor from behind the stall. Arjun bursts out laughing, clutching his stomach. The sound of toilet paper furtively being rolled out sends Arjun to the floor by the sinks, his breathing becoming labored from the hilarity. "Oh man," Arjun manages to get out the words between peals of laughter. "I'm so sorry, bruv--didn't mean to give you a fear-gasm!" He slaps his thighs a couple times, trying to control himself. The stall door swings open.
Arjun stops laughing.
Jakub stares down at him with a mixture of indignation and intense embarrassment. "Oh, oh my God," Arjun stammers, as he hurriedly stands up. "I swear on my life I didn't know it was you in there." Jakub pointedly looks away. "Hey man, look," Arjun reaches his hand out to Jakub's shoulder but Jakub shrugs it off. "We all have needs, right? No judgment here, I just really had to take a leak and thought I'd have a laugh with ya, that's all." There's an excruciatingly drawn out silence. "Well," Jakub starts morosely, still looking away. "Are we even now?"
Arjun had to blink a couple times to understand what Jakub had just said. He lightly pushes Jakub back at the shoulder and bends over in uproarious laughter. Jakub's face is still white as a sheet. "Stop laughing, it's not that funny." This makes Arjun laugh even harder. Jakub can't help but begin to giggle as well.
Chapter 3: Diplomacy
Arjun: I'm about to do what's called a pro-gaymer move.
Jakub: *happy gay sounds*
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."