It’s not that he doesn’t like Ibiza, because he does. Mesut likes it here; he just thought that maybe he’d like it a bit more. That maybe the sun wouldn’t burn so much as shine, maybe the sand wouldn’t get everywhere, and maybe the girls in skimpy swimsuits would seem beautiful instead of just cheap this time. He keeps waiting for it to get better, but it never does.
“Hey, we’re heading to Sant Antoni. You coming?”
Mesut shakes his head. “Kind of wiped out from earlier.”
“What, you’re that wasted from one cig? You’re supposed to be a fucking athlete, man!”
His friends laugh at him, but they do leave eventually. The door clicking shut after them, their voices echoing down the hotel corridor. Mesut stares up at the ceiling and and considers getting up from the bed. Considers showering and changing out of his t-shirt and swimming trunks and actually going to sleep. Except it’s still light out. Maybe he can watch TV. Or read a magazine. Or start in on the pile of music that Nese sent him. He still hasn’t figured out how to tell her that her taste in hip-hop is crap. Doesn’t want to figure it out, actually. He’s pretty sure you’re not supposed to say things like that to your sister. Still, sometimes, he wonders.
He reaches for the remote on the nightstand and knocks his hand against a pack of cigarettes. Someone must have left it there earlier. Mesut picks it up. Just to see what brand, and whose it is, maybe. He tilts the box sideways and taps it against his palm. A couple slide out; he catches one, tips the rest back in. He doesn’t even know if there's a lighter around. Which is fine, because he doesn’t want to smoke. The cigarette feels light as air, slim and papery as he rolls it between his fingers.
A knock sounds on the door. Mesut sighs as he uncurls from the bed, padding over to undo the locks and let whoever it is this time back in to get whatever it is he’s forgotten. “I swear, you guys are always—” He looks up and the rest of the sentence dies on his lips.
Sami grins at him. “Hi.”
Mesut stares. Sami arches one eyebrow.
“Hello, Sami, how was your vacation, you look extremely handsome as always, I missed you, I’m so glad you decided to come see me. Is that what you were about to say?" Sami waits a moment, then shrugs. "Okay, you just keep staring. I can totally read your mind."
“Did you seriously fly out from Germany just to see me?” Mesut blurts. He feels his ears grow warm when Sami’s lips curl into another amused smile.
“I was in Mallorca.” Sami’s eyes flicker over Mesut’s shoulder. “You busy?”
"Um." Mesut glances back reflexively, hands tightening—and remembers that he’s holding a cigarette. Unlit, but still. He clasps his hands behinds his back. “No, it’s fine. Come in.”
Sami closes the door behind him. Mesut walks back into the suite, hears Sami drop his backpack on the floor. “While we’re on that subject, though. Who’s your new girlfriend?”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Mesut snaps. Then he frowns. “And like you’re one to talk.”
“Actually, yeah, I take that back. I got a girlfriend. You found yourself another cougar.” Sami’s smile is crooked as he touches two fingers to Mesut’s lower lip, silencing the half-formed protest. “Oh, come on. You might as well just take me as your date next time. Tall, dark, older than you—I think I fit all the criteria.”
“You’re not a girl,” Mesut mutters. “Where does Lena think you are anyway?”
“I told her.” Sami is suddenly solemn. His hand slides down to catch Mesut’s wrist. “She’s okay with this. She...I don’t know, seems to think being bi means I need two people in my life. Anyway, I didn’t want to lie to her.”
Mesut snatches his hand away. “You know it doesn’t work like that.”
“And you don’t have to lecture me.” Sami reaches for him again. Glances down when Mesut stiffens at his touch, curling the fingers of his left hand. He still hasn’t put the cigarette down. The ensuing pause is just a tad too long for Sami’s next words to sound casual, “So how’s your vacation been? Enjoying Ibiza?”
“Yeah,” Mesut manages. “It’s nice, not having to worry about anything.”
Sami tightens his grip, pulling him closer. “Really? Because you seem kind of tense.”
“I'm not.” Mesut takes a half step back; Sami moves with him. He breathes into what distance is left between them, “Not tense in a bad way.”
“That’s a start,” Sami says, and kisses him. Mesut feels strong fingers prying his fist loose, plucking the cigarette from his palm, lacing together with his. Fitting neatly into every empty space. Mesut breathes him in. And if Sami tastes the tobacco on his tongue or the salt-sweat bitterness of his skin, he doesn’t comment.
“This okay?” is what he does say, eventually, when there’s pause enough for him to get the words out.
“Yeah.” Mesut fists his hands in Sami’s t-shirt and pulls him in again. Skates his hands over Sami’s hips and flattens them against the small of his back, presses into the heat soaking through the thin layer of cotton between them. Sami catches Mesut’s lip in his teeth, not quite biting, and the rest is familiar.
They’ve done this before. More than once. And each time Mesut had thought maybe it would be the last, maybe his conscience would finally catch up to him. Because it’s not that Sami makes him forget. It’s just that he feels the patterns Sami traces over his skin more than he feels the shame, tastes desire more than guilt in the recesses of his mouth.
Afterwards is when it’s worst. After is when he lies in bed—or against the wall, or the counter top, or that one time in the backseat of Sami’s car—and waits. Holds very still, just waiting...
“You’re doing it again,” Sami mumbles, watching him through half-hooded eyes.
"Overthinking." The afternoon is fading, sunset drawing deep shadows over the planes of Sami’s face. His voice is soft. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Mesut whispers back, and it’s true. And that’s the worst part. That he waits and waits, but nothing ever comes of it. He doesn’t change. It doesn’t get better.
He lets out a long breath. The sun peeks through a crack in the curtains, blinding. Mesut throws his arm over his eyes. Grimaces at the way his skin sticks. The way everything smells. Rolling over, he swings his legs over the side of the bed. The cigarettes are still on the nightstand. He snatches them up, suddenly irritated, and casts his eyes over the room for a trashcan.
A touch at his elbow. Mesut turns his head. “Where you going?” Sami asks softly.
“To take a shower.” Mesut catches Sami’s gaze flicker down and up again, adds, “I’m throwing these out, not smoking them. And even if I was, it’s none of your business.”
“How is that none of my business?” Sami sits up. “Look, I’m just worried about you—”
“Then maybe you should stop cheating on your girlfriend with me.”
For a moment, Mesut thinks he's done it. He's crossed the line. Anger passes over Sami’s expression—but then his eyes soften. Into something sad, almost.
“I was actually thinking of it the other way around," he says. "But if that's what you want.”
And this is why, probably. This is why it’ll never get better: because Sami is like this. Because Sami is here. Because Sami is. Mesut’s throat feels tight.
“I just want to know where to draw the line."
“Why do you even want to?” Sami asks. There’s something sharp in the edge of his voice. “It’s either wrong or it’s not, Mesut. Do you really think there’s some arbitrary number of times we can fuck before you’re damned or struck by lightning or whatever it is that you’ve got it in your head?”
“No, I don’t, and you know I don’t, because—” He bites down on his next words so hard, he tastes blood. Presses his lips together, breathes. “I don’t,” he says, and his voice only shakes a little. “But sometimes I wish there was.”
Sami watches him—just looks at him. Watching. As if waiting for something. The light fades to dusk. Finally Mesut pulls himself away. Shuts the bathroom door firmly behind himself, and the blast of the shower drowns out every other sound.
When he steps back out again, Sami is gone. The pack of cigarettes is still on the bed, where he dropped them, forgotten. On the nightstand is a scrap of hotel stationery bearing Sami’s handwriting:
Flight’s in two hours, sorry to leave like this.
But seriously I wish you wouldn’t be stupid.
You don’t have to prove anything to anybody.
And it’s not that he’s trying to prove a point, Mesut thinks; because he’s not. Because he already knows, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. Because they will care, though they might never understand, and they will have enough shame and conscience for him to share, even if he never finds any of his own.
He throws out the cigarettes and curls up in bed with his laptop, the note crumpled in his fist. Puts Nese’s playlist on and turns up the volume. He watches the sky outside go purple then dark. The pillow smells like Sami’s shampoo. The edges of the paper dig into his palm, and he tells himself that he’s not a bad person, that it’s okay. That eternity will wait. That there is grace enough if, sometimes, he just wants to stay here, like this, for a little while longer.