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Those, who could not hear the music.

Chapter Text

*

Up until his early adolescence, Isak had been convinced he had mastered pirouettes when he was 9 years old, which was not actually true, but it was not completely wrong at the same time. ‘Mastered’ is a pretty big word and Isak figured that out eventually. Nonetheless, he had been a talented dancer even as a child or so his mother used to tell him. It is funny how the significant words of that statement became ‘used to’ over time.

He could still remember how he had tried relentlessly, how he had practiced until he all but aimlessly spun in countless circles, not even doing it right anymore, sooner or later becoming light-headed, if not a little bit delirious, and ending up throwing himself to the floor in a fit of giggles. He could still not explain why exactly, but he liked it.

Pirouettes always made time pass faster while the world around him became fuzzier.

 

*

“Keep going, keep going.”

Rising from a plié into a demi-pointe, the muscles flexing in his legs, Isak went into the rotations with a powerful swing, keeping track of the non-supportive leg in retiré derrière, remembering to control his spinning with the weight on his other leg instead of trying to help himself with the force of his arms. The arms, he always reminded himself, they only follow. The legs lead the way.

Sharp spotting helped maintain a steady balance as he turned several rounds of fouetté en tournant en dehors, the working leg extending forward and whipping around to the side with the foot retracted to the knee of the supporting leg in retiréOne more, then he spiralled out into an attitude turn derrière before lowering himself from demi-pointe to move across the polished floor in quick steps, feet practically gliding on the surface of the ground.

“That’s it, Isak. Now push with that leg to go,” Ms Ellefsen motioned with her own limbs by softy hitting the extending leg as she regarded him in the wall of mirrors while he executed a brisé. “You need to be faster. One, two, chin up.”

He brought his non-supportive leg closer to his body, bent it more, when moving back across the length of the floor for smaller consecutive jumps that ended in an arabesque, his leg extended behind him in a high arch while his arms took care of additional balance. Lowering said leg, he did a simple half-turn that went into a position on one knee, his upper body curving slightly backwards, with arms held in a graceful attitude.

“Hold position,” Isak heard professor Ellefsen’s voice from somewhere behind him, where he could not see her. “And relax.”

Isak dropped his arms and stood up from his stance on the floor with a sigh that got oxygen to fill his lungs. He was still catching his breath, feeling the perspiration already start to cool on his skin, when the professor walked up to him. She smiled reassuringly, placing a soothing hand on his shoulder.

“You’ve got your turns almost down to perfection, but your arms need more work,” she said, looking at him for affirmation regarding the advice. Ms Ellefsen was a relatively easy-going woman in her 30’s with a mop of disorderly hair that she always kept in a messy bun and an all-around quirky look to her. Despite her appearance, she was very well respected by all her students. “Remember, you have to hear my voice in your ears guiding you in your steps, even when I’m not there.”

Isak regarded her for a moment, taking in the information, and answered her with a simple nod of the head, his lungs still trying to pump in some additional air. He knew he had to work on his arms, sometimes more then he would like to admit.

 

*

By the time the second week of preparations for the play rolled around, everything seemed to be going relatively well. 

Their first meeting determined their schedule, practices for individual groups, all of the estimated work load and gave them an overall idea of the play, a “modern rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with only minor changes to be taken so that the mythical theme would be preserved” or so they were told. The entire cast would have one dance rehearsal per week at the beginning before extending that to two, depending on the progress of the groups. The groups were necessary for dancers that were meant to interact intensely on stage in order to get familiar with their dance partners and work on their most relevant parts. That is why the ‘leading’ groups had to have separate rehearsals at least twice a week from the very start.

Similar to the The FairiesThe Lovers that consisted of Emma, Sonja, Even and Isak himself had to put in the most effort on their own, although each group would work with an instructor of their own and their practice hours would be determined according to their arrangements, so that was good.

The Lovers had no problem agreeing on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

 

*

Music filled Isak’s ears as he lay there, on the cool parquet floor of the dance studio in only a T-shirt and sweatpants, ear buds of his in-ear headphones tucked into his ears. It was a Tuesday, which meant he was waiting for the rest of his group in the otherwise empty practice room, mainly because he always finished earlier on Tuesdays. He had some time to spare, so what?

Isak did not mind it at all. Some time, some well-deserved trivial time, where he was allowed to do nothing and just shut off. Forget everything, and literally everything, if only for a few minutes. Isak considered it a blessing to feel the music as it washed over him, build within him with each beat until all his thoughts faded away and what remained was the music. The music that kept him sane between all the classical tunes he was surrounded day in, day out.

As a child he did not need any music other than the compositions he had for dancing, because it was enough. Now, it was never enough anymore. So Isak indulged in his music whenever he could, even during the time spent waiting in the dance studio on that particular day. Though, after a while something felt off and Isak could not really put his finger on it.

You know how you can sometimes tell that someone is watching you? That eerie feeling that someone is there, but you cannot see them, because you are not looking. Because you are simply minding your own business, lying on a cool parquet floor of a dance studio and listening to music with your eyes closed. It was pretty similar to that.

In order to convince himself that nothing and no one was actually there, Isak dared to open his eyes and almost jumped out of his skin, his heart clenching in sudden fright as he managed to tug his ear buds out of his ears with an embarrassing shriek falling from his mouth, because there was Even, his face hovering above him at a close distance, looking directly at him.

“Fucking hell,” Isak sighed and ran a hand over his face, when he heard Even’s rich laugh fill the spacious room. Then he remembered that he had just screamed like a little girl. Great, how mortifying. “That is such an asshole move, man.”

“Isak Valtersen, I had no idea you have such a dirty mouth,” Even said, feigning an excessively appalled but clearly amused expression and Isak could see right through it, even as he made an effort of rising to a sitting position. “Do your parents know you speak like that?”

Isak immediately tensed up.

It had been a while since someone had asked him, sincerely or rhetorically, about his parents, but it still left a sour aftertaste in Isak’s mouth. Most people did not know better, but that did not mean he did not feel at least a little bit uneasy, when speaking about them. He disliked it to put it lightly. The answers were always extremely stilted, because he had nothing good to say, so he tried to avoid it as much as possible.

Even must have noticed Isak’s unresponsiveness or the uncomfortable expression he was sporting, the brightness of his smile fading rather quickly, a mildly flustered look setting into his features. Especially the eyes, as Isak observed.

“Sorry, I didn’t know calling you out on your coarse vocabulary would be a sensitive topic,” he remarked, biting his lower lip rather distractedly. Isak was thankful that he came to such a conclusion, maybe even on purpose, maybe because he knew better. Whatever the case, Isak was not about to correct him. “If it makes you feel any better, apparently I make these funny wheezing sounds, when I sleep. It’s horrible. And really annoying, from what I hear.”

To the surprise of both, Isak snorted in laughter almost instantly, because what a random thing to say, the awkward tension that had fallen over them lifting. And, if it returned a genuine smile onto Even’s face all the same, Isak did not pay attention to it. Not at all.

The few times they interacted during the couple of dance rehearsals up until that point proved to not be much since that consisted of several polite remarks at first and a bunch of good-humoured banter back and forth from then on. It was not much, but somehow it was pleasant and easy. Oddly familiar.

“What are you even listening to?” Even grabbed Isak’s phone of the ground and stuck an ear bud in one ear before Isak could fully register what he was doing.

“Uh, that’s not―”

The way Even looked at him then, mouth morphing into a grin baring the other’s teeth, had Isak rethink his choices for the playlist currently on replay. Scratch that, he should have definitely changed it. Like yesterday.

“You’re full of surprises, aren’t you?” Even was scrolling through the list of songs while a particular piece continued to play and could be heard through the ear bud stuck in his ear. “Isak Valtersen, a fan of Shawn Mendes and Years & Years.”

“Shut up, like you’re better,” Isak weakly defended himself, his face now probably flushed several shades darker. “I bet you secretly listen to Halsey or something.”

“Well, she’s not bad. But I’m more devoted to the 80’s. You know, Eurythmics and A-ha,” Even pointed out casually with a shrug of the shoulder to which Isak raised a disbelieving eyebrow.

“Seriously, the era of fashion disasters and hair bands? That’s what you’re going with?”

With a smile that was as radiant as ever, Even pulled out the ear bud and returned the device to the other boy before retrieving his own, complete with ear buds, out of his pocket. Something they apparently have in common, Isak guessed. Phone with ear buds always at hand. It had to be a dancer thing.

“You shouldn’t judge the book by its cover.” Isak could not argue with him there. He knew that all too well. “Have you even tried listening to any of it?”

In all honesty, no. Isak was not particularly familiar with 80’s music, apart from maybe being able to recognize some of the more popular tunes by accident, and obviously knowing who A-ha were, but that was the extent of his knowledge regarding 80’s music. He was born almost 10 years after the 80’s ended, so it should not be much of a surprise that he was just never interested in looking into it, especially with all the other music out there nowadays.

Before Isak was able to catch any of it, Even had already scooted closer to him so that their arms were almost touching and stuck an ear bud in Isak’s ear while he put the other in one of his own. He grinned at him, his pearly white teeth showing, and Isak had to remind himself how to properly breathe to not make a fool out of himself. Yet again, apparently.

“Be prepared to be amazed.”

Even pressed play on a song that Isak saw was titled Don't You (Forget About Me) by someone called Simple Minds, which seemed to ring a bell but did not tell him much otherwise, and suddenly an old-school beat filtered into his ear. It was okay. And by the time the chorus rolled around, Isak had to admit it was pretty good. Especially the view in front of him.

Considering that the view consisted of Even, sitting so close to him that Isak could feel the soft hairs on their arms brushing, sense the other’s body at such a proximity in general, watch the delicate arch of his neck and the fluffy locks that curled at the nape of it as the other continued to stare at his phone. And, like on that gloomy Monday at the beginning of his second year, standing in front of the indoor windows of the dance studio, he could not look away. When Even finally looked up at him, a tender smile gracing his lips, Isak became fully aware of how much more handsome Even was up close.

“Not bad, right?”

Isak did not respond and Even did not question him further. He just stared some more at Isak, the same way Isak kept staring right back at him, both seemingly taking in the other’s face in detail as the song continued to play. Isak realized Even had unusually kind eyes, strikingly blue in a way his never would be.

Somehow, and as cliché as it sounds, Isak felt like time had purposefully slowed down for them, their breathing becoming deep yet remaining calm, surprisingly in sync as they continued to look at each other from only inches apart. He was not completely convinced, but Isak thought he could also sense one of Even’s fingers faintly brush over his own right before the sound of the door opening disrupted whatever that was between them, female voices seeping into the enclosed space.

Isak and Even managed to bring some distance between them just as Emma and Sonja came into view, greeting the two boys as they made their way further into the room. Both of them rose to their feet to join the girls and when Even curled an arm around Sonja, bending down to give her a peck on the lips, ‘whatever that was between them’ was gone like it never even happened.

Like nothing of it had been real.

 

*

After the rehearsal, Isak ended up at the end of the hallway outside the practice room, where he collapsed against a wall and slid to the floor, remaining there for what seemed like at least fifteen minutes, ten of which were spent staring at the empty message bubble he had opened, trying to convince himself to not be a coward, trying to talk himself out of thinking it was being pointless. It did not seem to work.

All that had transpired over the course of the last four years in particular was more than mere bad memories Isak would be able to bury with time, instead all the pieces and bits kept coming back to him in vivid details, all of them reminders of how the people that meant the most to him fell apart right in front of his young, ignorant eyes and how maybe he had played a big part in it. He hated that it made him feel guilty, when it should not have, when he had been the one suffering the most in the aftermath of stupid decisions. Still was.

At some point he had no choice other than to sever all ties, if he did not want to end up like them.

Isak ran a hand through his hair, wondering how long he was going to keep this up, this stubborn pretence of being completely indifferent, drag it out until there would not be a way back anymore. Maybe there already was no way back.

“Are you okay?” Isak lifted his eyes to Even, who was all of a sudden standing before him, clad in his olive green military windbreaker with a beanie already pulled over his head, obviously ready to head home for the day.

It took Isak more than a moment to understand what the other boy had meant by it, especially with the whirlpool of thoughts still spiralling out of control inside his head.

“Yeah,” he answered him, although not really convincingly. It was half-aced and, if Isak was positive it sounded exactly like that, then Even would probably see through it too. “I’m fine.”

The look on Even’s face told him he did not buy it. Great.

“I don’t know whether I can take your word for it. You’ve been staring, I’d say between accusingly and dejectedly, at your phone for quite a while now.”

“Are you stalking me?” Isak asked rather indignantly or was at least doing his best for it to sound that way, particularly because he hoped he could divert the conversation into another direction, getting the other flustered enough to make him change the topic and leave promptly. However, because Even’s facial features only softened some more, his eyebrows scrunching together just mildly enough, Isak was convinced it had not worked. 

“No. I’m making sure you’re okay.”

There was something in those words and the way they were said; the way the boy, who said them, was looking at him in that particular moment that had Isak feeling so much smaller and more vulnerable. And so, so, so sick and tired of it all. Tired of pretending that he was fine, whatever that meant.

“It’s complicated, I guess,” he exhaled a specifically heavy breath, gesturing to his phone by waving it through the air. “Let’s say that I fell out with someone really special and haven’t been able to bring myself to fix it. It’s kind of bothering me, that’s all.” A lot, really. But Isak did not say as much. Even did not need to know that.

“Is there a reason for not being able to amend said relationship?”

Isak found it difficult to look at Even right then, so he chose to glare at his phone instead, moving it from one palm into the other a few times to buy himself some additional time.

“I feel like it’s too late.” It felt odd saying it out loud. It was the one thing he never told Jonas regarding the whole situation and what he thought about it. It just made it all the more real.

When Isak dared to lift his head in order to peer at Even, trying to distinguish the expression on the other’s face, the boy in question seemed to be shuffling from one foot to the other, which was barely noticeable, while gnawing at his lower lip like he had done earlier in the studio.

“Do you want to hear my opinion?” Isak thought about it for a second, but nodded his head in quiet approval for Even to continue. It could not hurt to hear his thoughts on it.

“The way I see it, time is no man’s friend. That is pretty much a given,” Even eventually said to Isak. “But as long as you have it and are able to use it, there is always room for correcting the mistakes you made or at least trying to. And, if that person is as special as you say they are, then they will sooner or later recognize your efforts, as long as you make them.”

While Isak was busy contemplating what the other had said, Even brought one of his hands in front of Isak’s face, a can dangling from its grip on the item. Isak blinked in surprise at it, automatically taking a hold of its lower part just before Even released his hold on it completely.  

“What’s this?” Isak stared at the canned beverage, turning it around in his hand.

“Coffee from the vending machine.” Even stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking down at Isak a little longer before turning half to the side, presumably ready to head down the corridor. “I think you could use it more than me. Which also reminds me,” he seemed to have remembered something important and turned fully back towards Isak. “What do you think about meeting up with me before or after our rehearsals for a little one on one for half an hour, one hour tops? You mentioned you have some trouble with the position of your arms sometimes and lifts in particular. I could give you a few pointers, show you some tricks that might help you, if you’d like.”

Excuse me? Isak did a double take and immediately thought he must look like a big fool right then and there due to the way he was behaving. Shit, I’m this close to turning into Magnus in front of this guy. But hold on, did Even just offer to help him with ballet by proposing to have an additional practice of their own?

“Yes.” The words could not have left his mouth faster, Isak was sure of it. “Are you serious? That would be absolutely fantastic. I mean, I already have something before our rehearsal, so I guess afterwards, if that’s not a problem for you?”

“It’s a deal.” Even winked, actually fucking winked, and turned to walk down the hallway before the colour could fully rise to Isak’s cheeks, which he was awfully thankful for. “See you Friday, Isak.”

Isak observed his strides across the polished vinyl floor only for a moment before taking a second glance at the can of cooled coffee still in his hand. He allowed himself a small, infatuated smile. Just for him. Nobody needed to know.

“Thanks,” he shouted after Even’s retreating back, a playful but mostly grateful quirk to his lips by the time the older boy turned around to look at him. “And, just for the record, I prefer chocolate milk.”

The way Even’s cheeks dimpled, when he smiled was nothing less than breath-taking.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

*

“How was your day, sweet summer child of mine?”

That day, Isak came home to an apartment smelling of some sort of exotic spices and Eskild running around their small kitchen in an apron covered with various stains. He had so many questions, particularly because Eskild never cooked.

“What’s going on?” Isak asked as he dubiously eyed the state of the room, dirty pots and pans staked on one side and something appearing to be burning on the stove on the other, if the smell was anything to go by. “And should I be getting the fire extinguisher?”

“Funny,” Eskild remarked as he peered at him over his shoulder while attempting to stir the contents of the cooking dish. Isak would definitely think twice before trying whatever his crazy roommate had concocted. “I’m having someone over for dinner, I hope you don’t mind.”

That was a first. Eskild had never brought anyone over to their shared apartment before, but then again, neither had Isak or their other roommate. To Isak, bringing someone over to where you lived, your home and sanctuary, meant giving that person access to something very personal of yours, and Isak did not do personal. Not since Chris.

Isak made sure his ‘escapades’, if you could call them that, remained outside of the apartment, his room and, most importantly, his bed.

“It’s not my room that your room shares a thin wall with. What did William say to all of this?”

Whereas Eskild was the loud, obnoxious roommate with no sense for personal space and a weird maternal instinct towards Isak, William was the quiet, brooding handsome one, who was secretly a closeted poet and a really decent guy. And then, there was Isak.

All in all, they were quite a sight to behold. But somehow they made it work.

“Oh, he immediately packed a bag and went to crash at a friend’s place,” was Eskild’s nonchalant response, to which Isak only snorted in amusement.

“Figures.”

Just as he was about to remove himself from the doorway to the kitchen, he heard Eskild’s gentle voice, a voice that spoke of parental concern. Isak found it annoying and endearing at the same time.

“You are okay though?”

Isak thought about it. For once, he was absolutely sure he did not need to pretend with an answer.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he said and departed to his room, leaving Eskild to deal with his cooking.

By the time he got ready for bed and crawled underneath his covers, he was able to fully comprehend the extent of his exhaustion, so instead of watching a film, Isak decided to look up some 80’s music playlists on his laptop to see what the fuss was all about. Needless to say, less than an hour later he fell asleep to Eurythmics’s Sweet Dreams and the verses “some of them want to use you, some of them want to get used by you”.

What a coincidence.

 

*

“I don’t get it,” Isak complained, throwing his arms in the air for extra emphasis and flailing with them in large strokes. “Why is it so important how you hold these bloody things? An inch higher or an inch lower, upward or downward. It essentially doesn’t matter.”

They were going at it for almost half an hour, minus the minutes the two of them needed to switch to another room after their group’s rehearsal that Friday afternoon, and Isak was starting to grow restless, mainly because they had been going through several position with the sole purpose of trying to work on the stance of his arms, sometimes even hands, which he obviously could not get the hang of. It was absolutely frustrating.

That did not seem to derail Even, who merely laughed at Isak’s rants, observing him with his hands on his hips from where he stood a few feet away.

“It actually does. It’s the finer details that make all the difference.”

“It literally doesn’t,” argued Isak as he wiped a hand over the sheen of sweat on his forehead. Albeit he appeared annoyed, he was more than slightly amused, because Even kept beaming throughout the whole ordeal with smiles that spoke not of mockery or contempt, but of pleasure, comfort even. It was surprisingly contagious. “And screw the finer details.”

“How about we move onto the lifts then?” Even suggested, raising an eyebrow at the other boy. Isak was more than grateful for the proposition, which he made clear with a guttural groan of relief.

“Yes, please.”

“Okay, and just to make things clear, it’s not that you don’t know how to lift. The problem is that you’re going to be lifting Emma,” Even commented as he stepped closer to Isak until he stood directly in front of him. Isak vaguely noted that he had to look a little higher in order to meet his eyes, which for an undefinable reason made a small shiver run through his body.

Apparently, there was something about tall guys that made Isak all the more susceptible to them.

“Are there special precautions to be taken, when lifting her?” Isak fixed the other boy with a disbelieving look, scrunching up his nose in the process. It took Even a second to register what Isak had said, bursting into a full out laugh right after, with his mouth wide open and eyes crinkling at the corners.

“No, no. I didn’t mean it like that,” he clarified, when the laughter subsided. “Emma is practically the same height as you, which means she can’t weigh that much less, hence proving to be a problem for you, when trying to lift her. She may look like she’s light as a feather, but don’t let that fool you.”

The general opinion of ballet dancers being easier to lift, because they were primarily on the skinnier side, was in reality not all true. Of course, dancers and especially female dancers were expected to take care of their weight, keeping it at the lowest digits still normal for their body type, but they could not afford to starve themselves. They needed the energy and they needed the strength. But above all, they needed the muscles more than they needed that extra loss of weight.

Although they appeared extremely thin to the outside world, they were actually full of muscle, which was not really that easy to lift sometimes.

“Dude, one word of that to her and you’ll be done for. Finished,” Isak dared to tease, because both of them knew girls were still sensitive, when it came to their weight. Ballet dancers or not.

“Which is why this will remain a secret between you and me, right?” Even cocked his head sideways, looking at him with intent while a hint of amusement tinted his expression. When Isak smiled conspiratorially and nodded, he simply returned the gesture and moved to Isak’s left.

“Stand so that your hips face the wall of mirrors on one side.” Isak did as he was told without questioning as to why he had to do so. He trusted Even to know what he was doing, because he had that much more experience than Isak. Talent too, probably.

“In classes you’re always pared up with partners that more or less compliment your height, now you’ll just have to work with what you got. This is how it works in real life. You either own it or not.” Isak gave the other a doubtful look that said much more than he thought it did, since Even shook his head almost immediately to reassure him otherwise.

“Don’t worry, Emma knows what to do to make it easier for you, but it won’t do any harm to know what you can do to ensure you don’t accidentally drop her or lose your balance. This way you don’t need to simply rely on her.”

“What about Sonja?” Isak inquired, remembering their other female dance partner.

“You don’t really need to worry about her. Sonja is quite shorter than you, so you shouldn’t have that much trouble with lifting her, but either way, you’ll have the same tricks at your disposal.”

Okay, simple enough. Isak could definitely work with that. Especially, if Even assured him he could. It seemed that Even was good at coaching someone through a workout. He was calm and reassuring, not pressing, but above all, he knew exactly what he was talking about. His words gave Isak much more confidence than he thought they could, considering they came from someone barely two years older than him.

“Now, do an arabesque and hold the position.” Isak followed the instructions, raising himself to the tips of his toes on his supportive leg with the working leg turned out and extended behind his body, both legs held straight.

“We should start with the fish dive lift, which means you’ll have to go into a poisson,” Even said as he disappeared from Isak’s view entirely.

For a fleeting moment, Isak wondered where he had gone to, when he felt one of the other boy’s hands grab at the ankle of his extended leg. He put light pressure on it to indicate to Isak that he had to bring the leg closer in, bend and curve it more behind himself. “I’m going to need you to extend this leg outward as soon as I’ll lift you and you’ll bring the other one in to bend at the knee, okay?”

It was precisely then, in that exact instant, that Isak became aware of what they were doing, of what they were about to do, and he froze immediately. Shit. Shit. Freaking shit.

Even proceeded to place his other hand at his hip on the side of Isak’s supportive leg, his palm creating a welcoming pressure on his skin, the warmth of it sipping through the thin material of his dance attire, so Isak could not do much more than nod his head while trying to swallow the lump that got lodged in his throat. It was a good thing Even could not see him, because he was probably wearing an unbearably strained look on his face. What was he thinking agreeing to this? He should have known this was going to be a part of their practice session.

“Now, instead of holding the leg here,” Even went on like there was not suddenly an additional tension to the room, like he was not just touching Isak in what could be considered intimate, in what Isak considered intimate, his other hand curving around his working leg, where it settled in one spot for a moment before he moved it a little higher up his thigh. “You are going to anchor your grip here.”

Ballet dancers of both genders were used to getting touched like this during partnering without feeling anything remotely sexual. That was normal. The older you got and the more experience you had, you realized there was nothing to feel embarrassed about, nothing to make you assume that any of it could be more than dancing. Most of the time. There were exceptions, especially when you were attracted to your dancing partner, and that was the worst. This was one of those exceptions.

Isak felt goose bumps rise to his skin in an approximation of a tidal wave, heat starting to build in the pit of his stomach. He knew it was not a coincidence.

Even had managed to advance closer to his backside accordingly, which meant that Isak was more conscious of Even’s proximity than ever before. His warmth, his skin. The simple idea of Even’s body being this close to his. Something made Isak believe that the other’s movements seemed to have slowed down, soft touches that lingered before progressing, but maybe that was just his imagination. Maybe it all just appeared so unhurried and tender to his sluggish mind that would turn to mush soon enough.

Or maybe not. Because, the next thing Isak knew, Even had pressed himself up against his back very deliberately, with the other’s chest at his shoulder blades, abdomen at his lower back. A solid reminder of the attractive dancer touching him, feeling him in places he should not be feeling him. Isak was certain he had stopped breathing altogether the second he felt Even dig his fingers that were still splayed on his hip into his flesh, just briefly enough for him to recognize the touch. The desperation in it.

“And then, you’ll have to secure your other arm around her middle exactly like this,” Even uttered, his voice rough and reduced to almost a whisper against Isak’s ear, where the other’s breath was currently gently grazing the side of Isak’s nape. Right there. Even’s palm, fingers now spread out and pressed flat against his skin, was venturing across his lower belly until he had almost curled his entire arm around Isak’s midsection, unbelievably hot and burning an imprint into Isak’s flesh. “Do you feel it?”

He did. Sucking in a shaky breath, he was careful not to let out a sound that would surely betray him. He was definitely feeling it. Isak allowed himself to close his eyes in order to revel in the sensation of the other’s touch, his body unable to stop the involuntary shudders it underwent, and he was afraid Even would soon notice his physical reactions. It was not until he was hit with that familiar arousal full force, fierce and severe like a blow to the abdomen, that he broke out of his trance, tearing himself away from the other boy so quickly that he stumbled forward before catching himself, and instantly began to cross the floor in huge strides. Fuck.

“Isak?” He heard Even’s confused voice, tinted with just the tiny bit of concern, but Isak could not bring himself to spare him even one look. Not even a single glance in his direction. “Isak, wait!”

“I completely forgot that I have this other thing I need to be at,” he managed to blurt out, verbalizing the first thing that popped into his mind while desperately trying to keep his nerves under control. He grabbed his bag and towel on his way to the exit as fast as he could. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.”

Breaking through the door, Isak sprinted to the closest changing room. Once inside, he took shelter in the bathroom and locked himself in the first toilet stall he was able to reach, leaning against the door with his entire weight while closing his eyes and pressing the heels of his hands against his eyelids.

Stupid. You’re so stupid. Isak was beginning to panic and he had to will himself to calm down.

This is Chris all over again.