“Sheesh! Do you have to always do that?” an irritated Joby asked Will as he was walking inside the bathroom.
Will was surprised at the outburst. “Do what?”
“Use different towels every time! I always put your towel in this rack.” pointing to the second hook.
“I always thought that was your towel. Your gym towel.”
“My gym towel has always been here.” as Joby points to another hook. “I put it far from the other two so you won’t get confused.”
Will was getting annoyed, too. “Excuuuuse me. I didn’t realize!”
“Look! There are now four towels hanging. Four used towels! I don’t even remember which one is mine.”
“Then just throw all those fucking towels in the bin and get a new one!” snapped Will.
“That’s precisely what I was avoiding! Do you know how much detergents are harming the environment? We have to do our part!”
“You sound like the fucking hotel. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I hate it that you keep on just using and using new towels. And we keep on wasting money on laundry and just fucking the rivers up.”
“Since when were you Green Peace?”
“Dude! You know this matters to me.”
“Sheessh. If it’s such a big deal for you, I won’t ever change towels!”
“Good!” and Joby shut the bathroom door.
He looked at the mirror, still visibly irritated. He thought about how annoying Will was. And how insensitive to his issues. He wondered how he could have kept up with this all this time.
They’ve been having more of these spats lately. Little things just set him off. The other time, it was Will’s snoring. He just couldn’t take it. Then there was the dishes left for the next morning. He hated that.
After the shower, he hurriedly dressed up and was deliberately ignoring Will. And Will was ignoring him, too. It was cold treatment all the way.
The only thing that made him smile was the message from Benedict as he was laboring through the worksheets at work.
“Hey dude. How’s your day?”
“It started bad. Another row with Will.”
“Oh. Have you cooled down?”
“Well, focused on work. And chatting with you helps. :)”
“Glad to be of service. :)”
“How was your exam?”
“Rotten. All that late night studying didn’t seem to help.”
“Sorry for that.”
“No worries, dude. I’m sure I’ll find a way to charm the prof.”
“You always do.”
“Aww. Sweet aren’t you? hahaha”
“I wonder how life would be if we were ...”
“We were what?”
“If you were really mine. And I’m yours.”
“But I’m yours.”
“At the rate my thing with Will is going, you’re going to get 100%.”
“Don’t say that.”
“I’m sure you’ll work things out.”
“Do you want me to? Do you want us to work things out?”
“Don’t ask me that, dude. Not my place to want anything.”
“But I’m making it your place. Come on. Wouldn’t you want things between Will and myself to fall apart?”
“Job, that sounds really bad. I don’t want to wish ill of you two.”
“So you don’t want that? You’re happy the way things are?”
“Dude! Don’t ask me these things.”
“Why not? I want to know, Ben. I want to know how you look at this thing we’re doing.”
“Now? You want to talk about it now? Are you serious?”
“You bet I am. I want to know if you see a future to this.”
“You’re asking me? You’re the one in a relationship with another! How could I even dare to want a future.”
“But you want one?”
“Why don’t you answer your question, dude? What do you think of this thing?”
“I asked first.”
“Ok! Fine! Dude, I love you. I want to have not just a part of you but all of you. But I know I can’t. Because it would mean destroying what you have with Will.”
“So you want this to be real, to be exclusive.”
“Yes, Joby, yes. I’ve been wanting it so long. So what’s your answer to your question?”
“Ben, I’ve fallen for you. I have dreams of us being together. Give me time.”
“Time to do what?”
“Time to think this through.”
“So you are deciding? You’re actually planning to make a decision?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to get your hopes up.”
“Fine. Look, I’m not going to pressure you either way, dude. I love what we have. Even at 50% or less.”
“Ok. I appreciate that.”
The next few days were weird days for Joby. That conversation with Benedict opened his eyes to what was happening. As sure as he was falling for Benedict, he was also slowly finding reasons to get out of his relationship with Will. All this petty quarrels and annoyances were just symptoms of this deeper crisis.
But as that has cleared his mind, so did the air between Will and him. He was less and less irritable. And it almost seemed like Will was also nicer and sweeter to him.
There was the surprise tickets for the big basketball game which Will got for both of them, even if he knew that Will was going to suffer throughout the game. And there was this new blazer, something Will knew he had always wanted.
Why this sudden sweetness? Could he be suspecting? But Will is not the type. Will is very confrontational. If he suspected anything, he would have raised hell.
The gestures was not lost on Joby. Even as he longed to be with Ben and hold him again, he began taking stock of his relationship with Will. And all the memories between them. Is he ready to push all of that aside and take the plunge with Ben?
Will texted that he would be late tonight. And though that usually meant more chat time for Ben, he wasn’t so excited to chat that night. He decided to fix Ben something for breakfast. But it wasn’t long before Ben was texting him to get online.
“Hey. You busy? You’re not online the usual time.”
“Sorry, dude.” as he thought of Will. “Yeah just busy.”
“Nothing much. Taking a break from the books. You are such a welcome distraction.”
“How was your day?”
“Good. Same same, I guess. Work’s cool. Yours?”
“Classes were fine and boring. I haven’t stopped thinking about what you said.”
“Huh? Which one?”
“Well, about your... decision-making.”
“Oh that.” Joby kicks himself for having even mentioned it.
“I know I shouldn’t pressure you or anything. But I can’t help but just fantasize life with you.”
“Look, I’m still based here.”
“I know. But at least I can call you mine. And I can visit you as often as I want. And no more hiding.”
“Yeah, that would be nice.”
“And we could do so much traveling.”
“When you are done with your studies, dude.”
“Yup, yup. I intend to take a year off before starting residency anyway. If... and when it happens, I can spend that entire year with you.”
“Haha. You sure you want that?”
“Hey, I gotta get back to what I was doing.”
“Ok. Sure. No problem, dude. I love you.”
He paused for a while before replying. “I love you, too.” Was he suddenly having a change of heart? Joby just left his laptop and got himself a beer.
God, he is just so confused. He knew he needed to simplify his life soon. And that meant making a decision. Choosing between two people - Will and Ben. William and Benedict. He never imagined what he started with Ben would go this far. But he couldn’t help himself. Ben was just so refreshing and sweet. So young and different. Sex was mind blowing. While Will, well yeah, it was settled and even boring. But he owed him so much. Will had always been there for him. And even with the passing of time, he knew that Will gets his fair share of lookers. He was still proud of being Will’s partner.
A few more beers did not do anything to clear his head. He didn’t go back to the laptop.
He went back to his preparations for the breakfast. And soon after, he just went to sleep.
Will arrived that night late. He surveyed the kitchen and saw the unwashed mixing bowls. He knew Joby prepared something and that made him smile. He saw the cans of beer in the trash can. And his laptop, still blinking.
He opened the laptop to turn it off. And the message chat window was still active. He opened to check.
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