At midnight Even woke up.
At about fifteen seconds after midnight, Even kicked him out.
Isak was lying on the couch trying not to cry at 2 in the morning when he heard the sound. He didn’t lift his head, because he’d seen the horror movies and he wasn’t keen on dying, thank you.
Then there was a figure at the door, picking up a shoe and untying Even’s boots and Isak sat up instantly, reaching over and turning on the lamp.
They both squinted and made uncomfortable noises, then Even was still putting on his shoes and Isak was standing, heart rushing twice his head.
“Even? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He shoved his foot into the other boot, not looking up and the dread was so heavy in Isak’s stomach he couldn’t breathe.
“Then why are you leaving?”
“I just need out, okay. I’m fucking suffocating.”
Isak somehow ended up on the other side of the room, stepping close enough he could dive and grab but he was just trying to read the shutdown of those fragile cheekbones, downcast eyes, only he couldn’t tell anything and his heart was pounding too loud to hear.
Even glanced up, took one look at his face and scoffed bitterly.
“I’m not gonna kill myself.”
A fraction of the weight lifted off his chest but not enough he could make his lungs work again.
“Can I come with you, then?”
“Please? Baby, you haven’t eaten a lot, your strength isn’t up, I don’t want. I don’t want something to happen.”
“I can take care of myself,” he said, shrugging into a coat, bitter and dark.
“I know that,” Isak whispered. He wasn’t trying to suffocate, he wasn’t, he wasn’t. He knew Even didn’t need to be babied, he knew, he knew-- “You haven’t needed me, I get it.”
Even paused, looking up from the zipper. “That’s not.”
“It’s fine.” Isak had no idea he’d been so close to crying until the rapid blinking splattered tears onto his cheeks he couldn’t wipe away fast enough.
Even dropped his head and groaned.
“I just need some fucking space to think, okay, it’s not about you.”
Isak nodded and nodded and tried to swallow. He knew it wasn’t about him, he couldn’t let this be about him, he had to be here and supportive and understanding and.
Isak inhaled once, sharp, only it still came out teary. Even made a quiet frustrated sound.
“Dammit, you can come.”
“Are you sure, I don’t want--”
“You’re not overstepping, I said you can come, just stay quiet?”
“I can do that,” Isak promised, grabbing a jacket and throwing on his shoes before Even changed his mind or left without him. Even didn’t, Even waited.
“It’s not that I don’t need you, Isak.” Quiet and unreadable.
“Why would you?” Isak asked, wiggling his foot the rest of the way into a boot. “You’ve done this without me enough times, I don’t know what made me think I would make it any different--”
The sudden touch was so fucking cold and unexpected it made him startle into nearly twisting his ankle in his shoe. Even’s hand was closed around his lifted wrist, fingers wrapped and freezing, standing close and the grab wasn’t hard but it was the first time he’d reached for Isak like that in a long time and Isak was staring.
“I need you. I don’t know what I would fucking do without you. But I also can’t do this to you. Do you understand?”
He stood still, searching frozen light blues and finding near nothing, but if he knew one thing, it was that being honest was the only thing that mattered anymore.
“A little,” he confessed. Not much, please just--
“Okay. That’s gonna have to be enough for now.”
Isak just looked at him.
Even let go and opened up the door. Isak followed him outside and didn’t say another word. His wrist rushed warm and pounded all the pulse he hadn't felt.
They went to the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere significant and Even sat down in the grass and it was fucking freezing, soaking wet, hard as a rock, so of course he laid all the way down in it. Staring up at the stars.
Isak sat a few feet away, drawing his knees up into his chest. His ankles were cold and they were gonna catch pneumonia or some shit, it’d been vaguely raining which made no fucking sense because the weather was either at 0 or barely above and it should’ve been snow but it was nasty and not and.
“I had a dream about you,” Even said into the quiet.
Isak stared at the dark blades of grass. Blue and gray and gray and green.
“What did I do?”
“The boy in the sweatshirt, the boy on the bridge, the sandwich cut in half on the plate.”
Isak looked over at him. Even was looking up at the sky and Isak followed his gaze. That was a lot of stars. A lot of dark.
He leaned back a little, digging his phone out of his pocket and squinting at the brightness, lowering it all the way as he pulled up google and typed in everything Even had just said, with the word Siken afterwards cause he had a feeling.
Now Even was lying there with his eyes closed. Isak looked at him for a moment before he laid down too, soaking in the saturated wet and lifting his voice quietly over the sound of the stars.
“All the cows were falling out of the sky and landing in the mud. You were drinking sangria and I was throwing oranges at you, but it didn't matter.”
Even had stopped breathing beside him and Isak’s voice dropped into a whisper.
“I said my arms are very long and your head's on fire.”
He turned to the side, studying the profile of Even’s face for a moment before he looked back at his phone.
“I said kiss me here and here and here and you did.”
“Please don’t,” Even said and the stars were screaming so Isak locked his phone screen and shoved it back in his pocket and away.
“Okay,” he whispered.
He sat back up, running a hand through the frozen grass, the wet blades. Everything that shouldn’t be.
Isak folded his legs underneath himself and closed his eyes to shut out the stars. I’m fucking suffocating. If he ran through Even’s words enough times, maybe he’d understand a little more.
I need you. I don’t know what I would fucking do without you. But I also can’t do this to you. Do you understand?
“You can take first shower,” Isak said under the last streetlight and Even looked at him with his eyebrows knit. “There’s grass in your hair, I don’t mind waiting.”
“Don’t worry, you will eventually,” Even said and Isak shook his head once.
“I don’t mind waiting.”
By the time they got home and went their separate ways, to couch and bed again Isak thought, maybe, just maybe he got it now.
Isak was doing homework on his stomach on the floor in his bedroom. It was eerily quiet, and Even didn’t know he was in here because Even was sleeping again but Isak didn’t care that Even didn’t want him here, he was here, god fucking dammit.
Although that was big talk considering he kept sneaking in and out so Even couldn’t tell him to leave again. His phone vibrated loudly against the ring of his binder and Isak’s head snapped up, heart skipping a beat cause if Even heard that woke up and kicked him out--
Even’s lashes didn’t even flutter.
Isak breathed out slow and picked up his phone. It was a text from Jonas, telling him to come let him in. He used to have a key to Isak’s parents place - not that Terje knew that, he’d flip shit, Isak just said he lost his and got a new one to give to Jonas - but now that he was coming over all the damn time and Isak had to get off his ass to let him in it was annoying, frankly.
But like, he also couldn’t give Jonas a key when Even didn’t even have a key and it wasn’t like Isak could just ask his roommates if he could give all of the important people in his life keys to a flat they were overcapacity with by two people already and yeah, he could just get off his ass and go let in Jonas instead.
“Hey, how are things?” Boots toeing off and Isak was already headed for the couch, shoving his pillow and blanket aside and plopping down with a sigh.
“That bad?” Dark curls tipped for the makeshift bedding and Isak raised his eyebrows, tongue caught between rolled in lips.
“Ja, that bad. It’s been...rocky as fuck, honestly.”
“You look like you haven’t slept in days,” Jonas commented cheerily, plopping down on the floor in front of the couch, leaning back against it while Isak stretched out his legs and sighed up at the ceiling.
“We took a two am adventure and it sucked, it was fucking freezing and he wants nothing to do with me, so.”
“I don't get that part, man. Wouldn't he want the comfort?”
“Where are you supposed to put your hands on someone who hurts everywhere,” Isak said quietly and Jonas leaned his head back against the couch, bumping it against Isak’s leg.
“On the bright side you turned into a poet.”
“Shut up it's a quote it’s not mine.”
“Ah hah, that explains it.”
“Fuck off,” Isak suggested, nudging Jonas’s head off his leg. “Serr though...thanks for being here.”
Jonas furrowed his eyebrows, curls shaking once axiomatic.
“Ja, always.” Then he was shoving back up, headed across the room for the guitar case propped by the door, plopping back down on the ground with it. He’d left it here after Even’s birthday party two weeks ago, and they didn’t have any plans, so.
Isak slid off the couch, plopping down next to him on the floor and Jonas opened up the case before he suddenly remembered and glanced for the direction of Isak’s bedroom.
“He’s sleeping. He’s like, completely out you’re totally fine.”
Jonas nodded and pulled out the guitar, situating it in his lap and Isak scooted a little so he didn’t get whacked with the brunt end of it, putting his shoulder against the couch so he could lean his head on the cushions and watch Jonas play.
He pulled a pick out of his wallet and Isak smiled to himself. Jonas was keeping picks on him again.
“You been working on anything new?”
“I dunno.” He strummed a chord, plucking through a couple beats before shifting into another one. “I’ve considered writing again, or something, haven't really decided.”
“I think you should,” Isak offered and Jonas glanced over, pausing the strings.
“I can’t write without a lyricist, y’know.”
Isak scoffed, mouth tipping up in a side smile as he rolled his head on the edge of the couch.
“I’m not a lyricist. Or a poet.”
“Bullshit, have you heard you rap?”
“Have you?” Isak laughed, mouth open and Jonas smiled wide, turning back to the guitar and slipping back into an easy chord pattern, strumming undercurrent as the smile faded out a little, light eyes glancing over at him again.
“I mean, it has been awhile, maybe you actually improved.”
“I didn’t,” Isak told him sincerely and Jonas laughed this time, fingers twinkling brighter over the strings with it.
He settled back against the couch, a quiet soft smile as Jonas played, messing around with a few chords and dabbling melodies. Nothing fancy, nothing even recognizable but it was nice, to just sit here and listen and not think.
His childhood wasn’t all bad, wasn’t all chaos, but all the best parts of it he remembered were still the quiet times he and Jonas didn’t do much of anything at all. Coloring, laughing, playing cars. Sitting in trees, swimming in the river, sending each other songs on Spotify. On a bench somewhere chatting about the constructs of society, smoking weed, guitar string soundtrack while Isak just sat and thought and listened until he got bored and rapped along to make Jonas laugh.
The guitar stopped and Isak lifted his head, kinda surprised.
Jonas furrowed his eyebrows, looking down at the guitar, strumming his bare thumb down the strings once before he looked back over, knit and up as simple as any question he’d ever shot Isak’s way.
“Can we be best friends again?”
Isak looked at him for a moment, studying the expression and the sincerity and the patience, as quiet and serious as he’d been when Isak came out but this question was on the opposite end of the spectrum of silly than the is it me.
Isak huffed, smile crooking up honest on one side, digging one dimple in deep, teeth showing as he kinda beamed.
“Ja.” He nodded, nodded again. “I’d like that.”
“Cool,” Jonas said, then he was looking back down, pick strumming quick as he started playing again.
It was recognizable that time.
“Oiiii,” Isak said and Jonas smiled, then Isak was tipping away from the couch, knitting his eyebrows and lifting his voice to sing while Jonas smiled wider than the river.
“Oh, you done done me and you better felt it--”
Jonas’s voice lifted with his, “...I tried to beat you, but you’re so hot that I melted--”
and Isak’s chest was bubbling and tight all at once and the current downstream was finally sparkling clear.
“Fell right through the cracks. Now I’m trying to get ba-a-ack…”
And they were back, they were back, they were back.
The week Even was manic was the week Isak’s life fell apart.
And Even hadn’t been there for him once.
He didn't feel like screaming today. He didn't feel anything actually.
He spent the day lying there thinking. He drank the water Linn brought him, and the tea two hours later. He ate half of the grapes and crackers she brought him and he didn’t answer any of her questions.
So she left again and Even went back to lying there thinking.
Then Isak got home.
Isak was here and soft.
“Hey baby. How are things?”
Even didn’t say a word.
Their eyes met and Even looked at him and thought about everything he'd thought about.
“Can you give me something? Anything?”
Isak was trying to talk to him and Even was absolutely nothing.
“Can I lie down with you?”
Even just looked at him. It wasn’t a glare but it wasn’t blank either.
Isak threw up his hands (surrender defeat annoyance none of the above) and said okay (understanding hurt some sign of love) and went out to sleep on the couch again.
He was fucking sick of this couch.
He was sick of the twist in his stomach every time he laid down to another night apart.
He was sick of thinking about how sick he was when it wasn’t even him who was sick.
And he was fucking sick of this motherfucking assignment.
Isak made a frustrated noise and scribbled out yet another line of mistranslated adverbs.
He was fucking attempting to do homework only he was pissed and he was pissed at himself for being pissed but it hurt and he didn’t know what he was doing wrong or why he kept making this about him, it probably had nothing to do with him but what if it did--
Eskild barely made it a step in the doorway before dad mode kicked in and he was getting grilled.
“Isak, how are you?”
“Fuck this,” Isak replied, scratching out a paragraph of German aggressively enough it snapped off the end of his pencil.
He fought back the growl and jammed the eraser end of his pencil into lengthening the lead again.
Too patient landed on the couch beside him.
“You need air?” Eskild asked and Isak sucked in a shaky breath and tossed his books and stupid pencil aside, shoving to his feet.
“Do you mind keeping an eye on him for a little while?”
“Of course not. Go.”
There was that whole line about how fog was supposed to make your mind seem clear but the dark clouds didn’t spell disaster the way lightning did.
It was still probably lachesism that led him here, staring at cropped height of buildings that led up to the edge of brick columns too big to wrap arms around.
A heavy halo of fog pouring over the angled outcrops of the roof.
The light gray of the fog looked so stark white behind the dark gray of the towering roof and Isak couldn’t believe he was here but he was here.
It was stupid, honestly, and he stopped like seven times walking up the stairs but eventually he landed at giant doors and he’d come this far, might as fucking well go inside.
Two steps further from land.
And kept going, taking off his coat and brushing his curls aside nervously as he turned the corner out of the coat room and down the little hallway, then he was stepping into the chapel and his heart was on his toes, every step he took inside.
It was the seventeenth day of the second month that the world flooded Noah’s ark and the floodwater was still lapping at his ankles all these years later from another seventeenth day of the second month but here he was.
It was too late to turn around so Isak started down the aisle instead, slow enough he could feel the stare of every dark wooden pew as he stepped past.
There was someone in the back row, head down, so Isak kept walking. He didn’t want to be anywhere near them, he didn’t want to be here either, only fuck. God could probably hear that, all of this, if this whole thing was real then how deep were the sins that were making his knees shake--
He finally just slid into a pew near the front, staring at the candles flickering up by the cross for a moment.
Just when they’d been warming up, it’d all turned so cold.
The last time he’d been in a church he’d been with Even, he’d told Even he loved him and he’d cried in the boys bathroom and now here he was, sitting with his hands clasped frozen in his lap and his heart pounding too nervous and unsure to sit here forever and what, dip his head, whisper to the silence of someone he was pretty sure wasn’t there, let alone listening, let alone able to help--
Isak sucked in a breath and pushed right back to his feet, taking two steps out into the aisle, staring at the carpeted rug beneath his shoes.
He’d just been raised to believe it as a kid, was all. There was some part inside him that wondered, that would always wonder if it was real and he knew fucking firsthand that even if it was, praying to God right now wasn’t gonna do a damn thing, it never stopped anything from happening to his mom and it wasn’t gonna help Even but then tell him,
why twenty one seconds later he was on his knees at the altar with his clasped hands to his forehead and a prayer on his lips.
Because he loved a boy and he had no idea what else to do, that was why.
In a strange twist of events and parallels, Even was the one who called Jonas this time.
They set a meeting time, date and place. Tomorrow, 15:00, skatepark, the bench.
Even held Isak’s gray pillow pitifully in his arms and tried to breathe in what he smelled like but it’d been too tainted and he couldn’t place it anymore and he just ended up staining Isak’s limp pillow with salt water instead.
When Isak got home, it was late and there was a note on the pillow on the couch.
It was a drawing - Even had been drawing - of Even in the ocean on one panel, at the same time in a different universe. He was being swept away in the water, drowning, a silent scream drifting through bubbles to the surface.
Then there was Isak with him in the other panel, holding his hand and Even’s head was barely above water and turned to face the other way but he was holding onto Isak’s hand tight, and the waves weren’t crashing over his head.
You’re more than everything, was all it said.
Isak cried and held the piece of paper to his chest, rocking for a moment or two. Breathing in, breathing back out.
Even was drawing again. Even was drawing for him again. There was something Isak was doing, something that was okay, something that somehow helped. He’d thought he was making things worse.
He’d thought he was making things worse but here was Even’s drawing over his heart, pounding with him and he wasn’t making things worse, he hadn’t ruined everything yet.
Isak left the note on his pillow, in case he ended up right back out here again.
But he needed to check on his boy first.
After he collected himself enough and wiped the tears from his face. All of this water.
Isak peeked his head into the bedroom and Even was laying awake, glancing up at him as he stepped inside. Glanced right back away again. That was okay.
Isak crossed the room and dropped to his knees again, the second altar tonight as he dipped to press a kiss to Even’s fragile cheek.
Light blue haunted eyes slipped closed, then Isak was leaning back, feet propped up beneath him, running a hand through Even’s hair once before he pulled his hands back for his lap.
“You want me in here or on the couch?” He asked softly and Even glanced up at him, over at the door. Looked back down.
“Couch,” Even said.
“Okay,” Isak whispered, leaning over to kiss his cheek again. Then he pushed to his feet and headed for the door.
He had a hand on the knob, opening it wide when he heard the quiet whisper, barely barely fucking audible behind him, if the door had creaked the slightest he would’ve missed it.
“Here,” Even whispered. Isak turned around.
Even’s eyes were closed, afraid to look at him, concession so quiet it wasn’t meant for him. Isak slowly pushed the door back closed.
The moment the handle clicked Even’s face squinched up in pain, shoulders lifting up by his ears--
“Here?” Isak repeated aloud and Even’s eyes shot open instantly, staring wide eyed at Isak.
Isak looked back simply, door still closed. Waiting for the quiet confirmation he knew was there.
Another moment and a half and Even nodded, once, which was enough for him. Isak walked back over for the bed, forcing himself to keep the smile in his chest as he laid down right on the edge of the mattress, duvet half a foot away.
“Over here?” He asked the curved spine.
Even straightened and rolled over, looking at him with his eyebrows knit a little in question, what was Isak talking about.
Isak scooted an inch, hopping a bit with it. “Or over here?”
Even’s eyebrows furrowed all the way.
Isak scooted another inch, mouth open, eyebrows up, a dangling pause before he said it again.
“Or maybe here?”
And the icy statue finally broke a little, the corner of his mouth curling up just a twitch, the tiniest of smiles.
Isak couldn’t help it, he couldn’t keep up the pounding in his chest when Even was looking like that, he was beaming now because Even had a tiny tiny smile on his face and Isak was alive, they both were.
He hopped one last time, covering half the mattress and scooting up close with it, smiling at Even with his eyebrows up.
“What about here?” They were inches apart now and Even was looking at him a little fond a little exasperated and Isak had never known happiness before this moment in his entire life.
He tapered down the energy just a little, tipping his head up so their noses bumped. Even was looking down at him beneath slow lashes and Isak smiled boyishly up at him.
“Is here okay?”
“Here’s okay,” Even said quietly, and Isak’s smile crinkled up into dimples too. He shook his head a touch, rubbing their noses just slightly. Even’s eyes fluttered shut over a shaky inhale and Isak flopped back down to the pillow, a few inches between their faces now so they could breathe.
God, Even wanted Isak back beside him, and Isak had caught it in time. So barely barely in time but they’d nearly passed each other by a thousand times, their sails were just parallel enough he’d probably missed a dozen but he didn’t miss this one, the waves were rocky as hell but he didn’t miss this one.
Maybe he should just stay quiet and count his blessings but it was the first fucking time he’d been hopeful since before dinner with his parents and sue him, he couldn’t contain it all.
“Can I hold your hand?” Isak asked and Even opened his eyes again, studying him a moment, looking tired.
“Aren’t we sleeping?” It was raspy and Isak wondered distantly how long it’d be before Even was smooth talking and laughing again.
“I’ll be gentle,” Isak promised.
Even huffed and slid his hand up the covers. Isak took it, heart pounding, and wove their fingers loosely. Laid their barely entwined sideways hands on the covers between them.
“No pressure, but if you roll over in the night you might accidentally launch me off the bed from this tight grip on our hands--”
Even lifted one eyebrow, just a little, and Isak was smiling again.
“Okay, okay, I’ll quit playing, and let you go to sleep. Let us both go to sleep.”
Even blinked at him and Isak rubbed his thumb over the length of Even’s pinky.
“I love you.”
That time when Even blinked his eyes cut down and away. Isak lifted their hands to press a kiss to the back of Even’s, then he plopped them back down to the bedspread and settled into the cushions, fingers warm enough he could feel it in his stomach.
“Good night, angel,” Isak whispered and Even swallowed, lifting a whisper over the dark.
Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me.
Isak got out of bed, and all the water Even kept storing up and shoving down between his cells instead of over Isak’s bed was freezing in his limbs, making him stiff.
Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me.
Isak got dressed and put on his backpack. Even was so stiff he couldn’t feel anything but the cold, the cold settling into his bones.
Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me.
Isak got his curls tucked away under a snapback. Even had slept so warm and cozy for the first time in a week last night and now Isak was taking it all right back out the door with him, leaving Even here so cold he couldn’t move, completely stiff and staring at the wall.
Don’t leave me.
Isak leaned over the bed and kissed him on the jaw and Even closed his eyes. No, Even’s eyes were already closed. Isak was already gone. Where was the kiss on his jaw, the fading mark, the last thing to keep him from freezing.
God, don’t leave me I’ll--
The door to the apartment closed.
Even tried to curl up in the duvet that just whispered and slid over his skin, perfectly snowy cold.
This time when he whispered stay it was too late and Isak was already gone.
It'd been awhile since she got to do anything this spyish and cool so Sana felt pretty much exactly like a badass as she grabbed the unexpecting arm and hauled the unexpecting boy into an empty classroom.
“What the-- Sana??”
“Yes, it’s me, the only badass in a hijab you know,” she offered brightly and Mahdi knit his eyebrows, looking very confused. She let go of his arm.
“What's…what's this about?”
“I have a very important question I'm fairly sure you have the authority and class to answer honestly without involving the rest of the boys or causing drama.” Sana smiled, tight and dimpled and Mahdi’s eyebrows knit harder.
“So...just like that, you're gonna answer it,” she said slowly and now his eyebrows were shooting up, head shaking once.
“Depends on what it is.”
“Well first of all, you know I…” she trailed off, eye twitching as she stared painfully at the empty classroom. Fuck.
“I care about Isak very much,” she rushed all at once and Mahdi softened, nodding, which she didn't need anyone to be soft right now this was very clandestine important top secret official business here.
“And I...care about Even too.”
“Yes, you have a heart, a lot of us guessed, we weren't sure but--”
“I will still destroy you if need be,” Sana pointed out and Mahdi rolled his eyes, waving a hand at her.
“Continue, what question are you dying to ask.”
“There’s been a lot of speculation and worry between the girls, so I figured I might as well clear it up once and for all.”
“And the black eye Isak was sporting last week to match the split lip, was that from Even?”
Mahdi’s jaw dropped open.
“Is that what...is that what everyone is thinking?”
“I don't think anyone really knows about Even besides us girls,” Sana said slowly. “But between the girls there’s been a pretty heated debate about it, yes.”
Mahdi shook his head once, fast.
“Fuck. The bruises weren’t from Even - Isak was completely fine Saturday morning, but Even’s parents were trying to keep them apart so the idiot went out to Grønnland and picked a fight to get his ass beat cause he handles conflict and strife like shit, apparently.”
“Wow,” Sana offered and Mahdi scoffed.
“Yeah, I know.”
“...I'm guessing the week he had leading up to that had a lot to do with him picking the fight too,” she sighed and Mahdi knit his eyebrows again.
“It. It probably did, yeah. Shit, I don't think any of us thought about that.”
Sana smiled triumphantly, dimples popping again.
“What would you boys do without us.”
“Not get pulled into secret meetings in empty classrooms.”
“Hey, none of us were the ones called for help, or informed on the matter at all, and we have a right to know, okay.”
“You can take that up with Isak.”
“I agree with you! Take it up with Isak.”
“I will,” Sana told him haughtily and Mahdi shook his head at her.
“Okay. Have a good day.”
“You too. Bye.”
The dread in his stomach was unreal. He considered not going. Not showing. Texting that he didn't feel well enough. It was a lie. He was Well Enough to go outside. Probably needed the air.
Every hour counting down until when he left was longer and built up the knots in his stomach more. Weighing him down instead of tying him to anything secure.
He texted Isak at 12:15 - lunch - to tell him he was going to go see his mom this afternoon. Don't be alarmed if he wasn't here.
Then he informed his caretaker - Linn today - to tell her he was going to go see his mom this afternoon. Don't be alarmed when he left.
He was alarmed when he left and wasn't there but he left anyways.
The entire bus was staring at the boy stacked in layers. The windows were staring. The world was trying to crush him in its palm and Even leaned dead against the glass and let the bus rattle his brain.
He got to the bench first. Stared blankly at the graffiti. Waited.
Then Jonas was walking out from the tunnel and Even lifted his head and saw him.
All wrapped up against the cold, curls tucked away under a dark beanie. He looked soft. Kind. Worried.
He'd never turned any of those emotions on Even before and Even turned away, ignoring how sick his stomach clenched.
Jonas sat down beside him. It was quiet for a few moments and Even wondered distantly, if they would ever in a million fucking years be able to find a friendship between them.
There was potential. They both loved film. They both got excited about things they loved. Or well, Jonas could at least be the chill to Even’s excited. Or maybe teach Even how to chill out a little more. They could be really good friends potentially.
When Even wasn't a hollow skeleton, that was.
But now, there was a million things between them in the shape of a beautiful boy with golden curls and a smile so bright they were caught in a tug of war over the burn of the halo.
“I know you don’t want me to be with him,” Even started to the colorful walls.
Jonas looked up sharply, mouth opened to protest. Even shook his head, twice as layered up with beanies and hoodies and said it scratchy and simple.
“You don’t have to lie. I get it. If our positions were switched I’d feel the exact same fucking way.”
Jonas went quiet. Even stared at the murals and wondered which ones Isak had leaned up against and laughed and how long it was gonna fucking be before the boy knew how to laugh again.
The boy beside him had to be wondering too. Even stared down at his hands now. All he was wondering was why Jonas suggested they meet here, of all places.
I know you don’t want me to be with him, but I need to ask you,
Jonas shifted on the bench beside him, a moment’s pause before he lifted his voice, quiet, afraid to shatter things.
“...it’s not because you’re bipolar, Even.”
“It’s not. It’s because Isak’s in too deep to see anything clearly anymore.”
Even turned his head to look over at him. Jonas looked back. They’d had so many clandestine phone conversations, but they’d never once talked serious face to face like this.
Too deep to see anything clearly anymore.
Storms and clarity--
"Isak would literally run himself into the ground before he left you," Jonas said and yes, Even was starting to get that, that’s why he’d called the other boy with the curls, "...and that terrifies me. Yeah, now that some time has passed I get it, it wasn’t as bad as it felt. The worst part of the whole thing was how much Isak was freaking out. It really wasn’t that bad."
Jonas’s parent’s house, flashing lights and screeching beds and bruises and broken sobs and it really wasn’t that bad?
Even shook his head once and Jonas pinned him with eyes lighter than his own, silver and white instead of blue, sticking him like a squirming beetle on the wall and lined up, then swung a silver hammer right into his gut.
“But Even. What happens when it is?”
Shell splattered with woozy insides and their gazes were locked, across this skatepark bench with all of the colors swirling around them like a hurricane and here they were, polar opposites on opposite ends of the universe with only one thing spilled out in the dripping fear they both shattered in.
Jonas just kept looking at him, really looking at him. Him. Not as Isak's boyfriend or some fucked up version of competition or a 97’er transfer or hell, even one of the boys in the squad group chat.
Jonas was looking at him like he was all and none of those things, like those things didn't matter, not for the moment. Just looking at Even and seeing him, Even Bech Næsheim, not through but all, understanding him in a flash moment in a way Even wasn't sure anyone he'd ever met in his life did, because of that one fundamental truth.
The one thing Jonas understood that no one else would ever come close to beginning to get.
But what happens when it is.
That was the fundamental question at the core of his being, of every moment, every kiss to Isak’s mouth, every time he turned into his arms and spun out of them when the conversation came up. This time Isak was fine. This time Isak wanted him.
This time Even wasn't too much. This time it wasn't too bad. This time it didn't ruin everyone's lives, this time Isak’s bruises weren’t from his hands. This time wasn't the deal breaking time.
But what happens when it is.
Jonas asked it so simply and Even blinked at him from underwater.
Jonas saw the white capped waves and heard the crash on the shore and didn't wait for an answer. He knew it didn't exist.
But what happens when it is.
“He’s not ever going to be in a strong enough position to leave you, Even.” Jonas leaned back against the bench and Even’s eyes followed but he couldn’t give up anything else, he was frozen. “He’s never going to be able to. You have to be the one to do it.”
Even looked away and he was crying when he looked back. This wasn’t what he came to talk about. Well, not really, but it made what he came to ask hurt that much more.
He was crying on a skatepark bench in the territory of his boyfriend’s best friend, to his boyfriend’s best friend, and this wasn’t how the world spun, where the tide was supposed to take him but Jonas was looking at his tears steadily and Even dropped open his mouth, dragged free the only other fundamental truth waiting to tie him down to the bottom of the swimming pool.
“What if he's only with me to prove his dad wrong,” Even whispered.
To the only person on the planet who’d tell him the truth.
The boy Isak loved first. But more importantly, the boy who loved Isak first, before, over everything else in the world. Jonas, Jonas would know, Jonas had to know and this was the only way Even could know and he had to, he had to know now, right now, he--
The moment he said it out loud the past two weeks smacked him in the chest. The wavering moments the hesitant split second decisions where he almost said it. Almost told Isak - babe help I'm spiraling I need you and I need you to go I don't know what to--
But he hadn't because he'd been fucking paralyzed. Isak’s parents looming over them. His dad left his mom cause she was fucking nuts. Isak was pissed enough to stay with Even cause he was fucking nuts.
Jonas was just staring at him. Eyes wide mouth closed staring. Even sealed his lashes back shut, blocking away the salt stinging his eyes but you couldn’t keep your eyes open underwater that long. Here he was, the explanation the condemnation burning holes through his tongue before he so much as opened his mouth to whisper it.
“His dad left his mom because she was sick.”
“I know why Terje left Marianne,” Jonas interrupted, voice flat. “I was there.”
“Then you get it,” Even said too desperately, lashes heavy with the water now, throat destroyed. “He told Isak he had to, that he couldn't help her. What if that's the only reason Isak has stayed, to get back at his dad, do what he couldn't? To prove something. What if it's not even about me? What if it...what if it never was?”
Jonas was quiet.
Even was tearing up enough he had to wipe at his eyes, whole streaks of wet on the backs of his hands and it was cold, it was cold his hands were freezing his cheeks and his eyes were freezing and his nose was bright red and Jonas wasn't saying anything because it was true.
It was true, Isak needed to get back at his dad in some fucked up twisted way and Even was the only way to do that and that was why he stayed, that was why he refused to leave, that was why Jonas couldn’t convince him to, because it wasn’t about Even it was about Terje and Marianne Valtersen and how royally they’d fucked up their son and--
“That's not like him,” Jonas said quietly.
Even lifted his head and inhaled shakily enough silver eyes shot to him instantly, suddenly aware of how much Even was crying and pushing away, pushing away as the four words drifted and barely sunk in.
“That's not like him. He wouldn't do that.” Jonas sat up, instantly, leaning forward, catching Even’s teary red eyes and quivering bottom lip and saying it so sure and sudden and sharp that it stung. “Even, Isak wouldn't do that. He's a conniving petty bitch and used to be a snake, but he'd never fucking do that.”
It was swirling in like the colors seeping into his shoes from the pavement and the shouting words on the walls and Jonas shook his head, staring at the bench and at the bowl and at the sky and back at him.
“Not even subconsciously,” Jonas said, harder, more sure. “His parents are literally too far removed from his life to make him think that way. This has nothing to do with his dad. Fuck his dad, and his mom, this isn’t about them. You’re not about them. Everything he’s doing? This is all about how much he loves you.”
Laid out like bricks into his skin and Even stared at Jonas, soaked deep in the words and the look on his face.
This is all about how much he loves you. Isak wouldn’t do that.
Isak would never do that.
Even opened his mouth and inhaled oxygen instead of water for the first time in weeks.
This wasn’t his parents. This wasn’t about his parents. This wasn’t about his parents, this wasn’t about--
“You really thought that was it, didn't you.”
Jonas was staring at him on dry land. Even stared at the orange words on the wall, sucked in another broken breath, and nodded.
Yeah, he’d really thought that was it. All of it. The end of it. He’d thought--
Jonas sat back against the bench again, blinking a few times.
A few snowflakes fell with the silence.
Even snorted softly. Fucking understatement of the year. He’d been so fucking terrified that…
And Jonas was so sure. He trusted Jonas more on Isak than this, because Isak wouldn’t necessarily tell him the truth about that. And on the off chance it was subconscious he’d deny it like hell.
But Jonas was sure. Jonas was fucking sure Isak wouldn’t think like that, not even the back of his mind would think like that and Even had never been more fucking grateful for the depth of their friendship in his life.
Isak loved him. It wasn’t about his parents. Isak stayed because he wanted to, not because his dad hadn’t.
Isak stayed for him.
Even exhaled a thousand pounds of pressure and wiped both hands over his face. Fucking hell.
“How long did you think…?”
“Since I found out why Terje split.”
Jonas puffed out his cheeks and blew out slow, all of that wow on his face and lifted dark eyebrows and Even wiped a crooked finger over the corners of his eyes. Yeah.
“Fuck, that had to suck.”
“Oh it did,” Even assured him and Jonas huffed, smiling a little as Even exhaled again slow, heart still pounding way too fast. Fuck.
The next thing he knew Jonas was digging in his pocket and pulling out something small familiar and white, glancing his way.
“I know you're not supposed to, but.”
“Fuck it,” Even said and they smiled twin and small then the flame was flicking up and Even remembered what it felt like to actually breathe.
Their fingers brushed as Jonas passed it to him and Even nodded a quiet thanks that Jonas nodded back, then he was inhaling smoke into his lungs and burning with fire that wasn’t his own fucking demons for the first time in forever.
Then he was passing it back to Jonas and Jonas blew out a ring, another to chase inside the little circle, both of them scattering at the puff of his breath as his voice lifted again.
“I care so fucking much about him, y’know. Not the way he used to for me, but...I don't know, what would've happened if I'd known.”
Even looked over at him, settling in the feeling of his head starting to lighten.
“I didn't think you felt anything for guys.”
“I don't,” Jonas confirmed, glancing his way, joint to his lips. “Literally zero attraction. But we were really close.”
A lifted shoulder and he inhaled more smoke, looking off blissfully across the park, words drifting out visible on the exhale.
“I was jealous of you. Took me awhile to figure out jealousy could be platonic.”
Even nodded and Jonas let it settle for a moment before he held out the joint again. Even took it, turning a little on the bench to face Jonas as he spoke.
“I had to be sure, that it wasn't heteronormativity or compulsory heterosexuality or some other nasty shit society and capitalism shoves down people’s throats since childhood. I had to figure it out for myself and wonder, if there was ever anything more on my end.”
Of all people, Jonas Vasquez sure was an interesting one to have as a best friend. Isak may have drawn the shortest sticks in the parents department, but he drew a longer one than Even had ever known when it came to his best friend.
“Spent the past month questioning everything I fucking knew cause I love him so fucking much and, well.” Jonas lifted a shoulder. “It’s Isak.”
“It’s Isak,” Even agreed.
“My best friend…” Jonas trailed off, smiling a little to himself. Looking off over the slopes of the park they’d been coming to for years.
They were okay now. And he knew now, that he could love that kid with his entire fucking heart and just cause for Isak it had been a crush too, at some point, didn’t meant they couldn’t fucking love each other now.
It wasn’t eros. It was the deepest philia, storge he had. Maybe agape, but that was okay. They loved each other the same now, and that was the only thing that counted.
“Fuck, that felt heavy as hell before you confessed yours,” Jonas said and Even laughed, tired but real, smoke billowing from his mouth.
“I mean, for a little while there, when I was wrestling with everything, I thought maybe. I probably overanalyzed…everything we’ve literally ever done. And I think...there could’ve been a chance maybe, once. To being something more than the everything we were to each other.”
Jonas leaned back against the bench again, thinking of summer days with Isak barefoot on his bed, the New Year 2016 Isak kissed his cheek and Jonas drunkenly slung an arm around his shoulders and laughed.
Smoking on Valentine's Day, high as hell as they confessed this was way better than any date with some girl.
Isak patching him up, Jonas skirting a careful thumb over the split on Isak's cheek.
There were ten thousand times to run back over. Analyze how he was feeling. Wonder how much all of it meant to Issy.
What would've fucking changed If he'd known that's what that look meant. That look. So many fucking times he saw that look and he never fucking put together what was right in front of him.
And because he never had, he’d slowly rotted away at Isak’s soul. Didn’t matter that Jonas didn’t feel the same, if he hadn't been blind, he could’ve at least done something about it.
Saved Isak from it.
That was the worst of all of it. Not that he didn't feel the same. But that he'd been so blind he hadn't been able to save Isak from him.
Figured it out half a year too late. Or maybe right at the right time.
“If I’d known how he felt I'd like to think I could've. I dunno. Saved him a lot of pain at least. I'll probably feel guilty about that for the rest of my life. Maybe I even feel guilty I never felt the same. Who knows.”
Even was studying his shoes and Jonas was studying the somber profile for the moment he had the chance. Even looked a hell of a lot younger than Jonas had ever seen him, all red nosed and bundled up with smoke pushing between parted lips. The kid who loved the best friend he loved.
In such different ways, fuck.
“...but we’re not meant for that here. Maybe some other life,” Jonas said quietly and Even nodded too much, took the joint with shaky fingers, inhaled too sharp. Jonas sighed and looked down at his empty hands. “Maybe I did it right in one of his parallel universes.”
The swivel to him was sharp and sudden enough Jonas drew all the way out of nostalgia guilt land, lifting an eyebrow over the smoke as Even asked.
“His parallel universes?”
“Yeah, he's always been into the idea of like, an infinite number of parallel universes, where just like one thing is different in each of them, I guess?”
“I know.” Jonas glanced over at the tone of voice and Even looked down, tapping ash off with his finger. “I just didn't know you did.”
“We've been friends our whole lives,” Jonas said, strained and Even shook his head.
“Yeah, I know. I know that.” Joint lifted back to his cracked lips and the inhale was heavy enough Jonas would have to be stupid not to know he'd stuck a chord.
“I don’t want you to think-- I would never try to take him from you. I can’t be what you are to him. I don’t know how to look at him that way. I’d die for him, but I couldn’t be with him, not the way you are. And even if I could?” Jonas studied the sloped profile, Even’s sharp gaze on the graffiti across the basin. “…he’s happy with you.”
“No, he’s not,” Even replied instantly and Jonas shook his head, taking the joint back and fighting the urge to grab Even’s hand with it, squeeze and shake his shoulders until he got it through his thick skull that he had no fucking clue how miserable Isak had been before him.
“He’s in love with you, Even. At the kind of depth he never came fucking close to feeling for me, or anyone else. Wow, that's a punch to the gut to say, but it's fucking true. Hell, if even I, jealous best friend, can see that?”
It was a joke at the end but Even didn’t laugh, Even crumbled a little. Teary eyed as he turned back weakly to Jonas and the fire he was inhaling down his throat, putting out all the chill with the water back on his long lashes.
“I don’t fucking know what I’d do if he left me.”
“He won’t,” Jonas repeated. “I told you, he won’t.”
“How could...how could I possibly ever leave him, though, Jonas?” Even looked so watery and desperate and torn apart, begging at him like he somehow had the answers to the universe but he didn’t, he was so fucking far from being able to answer that. “Could you?”
“Nei,” he replied, shaking his head with it. “If he carved a crater in your heart, he’s carved a ditch through my lifetime so far. But I get it. The crater’s deep.”
“Really fucking deep,” Even huffed, hurt and true and so in love with Isak. Jonas watched him in his peripherals, wondered how he’d ever let himself hate a boy who loved his boy like that. “Fuck those angel curls, huh?”
Jonas laughed and the world went foggy in front of him. “Ja.”
There was at least one thing to be glad for, that at least through all of this hell, Isak had found somebody who appreciated his stupid golden curls as much as they deserved to be appreciated.
Little things. They had to be grateful for the little things.
He smiled to himself and glanced back over at Even, but Even wasn’t smiling anymore. Even was staring at his hands and curling and uncurling his fingers, watching the bones click or his skin move or whatever. Hands that held Isak and slid through his hair and bruised his shoulders deep and dark--
“But if I had to,” Even whispered and Jonas wondered if he knew about the bruises. Probably not. Jonas should probably tell him. “If I was somehow ever strong enough, if it ever got that bad that--”
He stopped and Jonas got it. Jonas got it and they both just breathed for a moment, air cold enough it kinda puffed up regardless of the smoking joint resting between Jonas’s fingers.
If it ever got that bad.
No more secrets.
Even needed this joint a lot more than he did right now. Jonas passed it over and Even closed his eyes as he inhaled, letting all the poison in his brain and yeah there was definitely some guilt in the smoke around their ankles but it was smoke or crushing waves right now and Jonas would take the hit to let Even take a hit of calm with it.
Then he was breathing out puffs of white, but he was breathing and that was what counted. If it ever got that bad.
“You bruised him,” Jonas said before he could keep his mouth shut.
Even looked up so sudden and so fast Jonas could hear something snap.
It was dead and quiet and absolutely destroyed and not a question at all and so lost it was the only screaming question Even had ever asked, Jonas could feel it.
“When you were holding him still, Friday, on the edge of my bed, trying not to hit him or freak out or whatever, right before your dad showed up. His arms, they were bruised, dark purple handprints.”
The smoke was trying to strangle them both now but Jonas had to tell him and now Even was staring so dead the joint was centimeters away from dropping out of his fingers.
Jonas reached over and took it carefully, they still needed that, thank you. More now than ten seconds ago because Jonas had just said that and fuck.
Even looked like he was being strangled to death and Jonas took a quick numbing inhale. Fuck.
“I’ve never seen him so unrepentant,” Jonas said and Even was just staring, water in his eyes burning them red. “I was kinda freaking out about it and Isak told me he wasn’t sorry, he could’ve gotten out if he wanted to.”
Even still couldn’t speak.
“And I think that part’s true, because he did eventually get out. I know you’d never hurt him normally, I know that, we’ve actually had that conversation after a couple of the bruises he’s had in the past, but. But Even, I needed you to know. In case it were to happen again, that Isak really isn’t seeing this clearly. He didn’t care about the bruises, and I don’t know how far he’d let you go when you’re manic and I’m sure that scares you even more than it scares me.”
“What the fuck,” Even managed strangled and Jonas stuck his tongue in his cheek.
“He doesn’t care if you hurt him, because that’s how much he loves you, but that’s not. I can’t get on board with that.”
“Neither can I,” Even whispered, lower and darker and broken into fucking shambles.
“And this time it wasn’t too bad, he’s okay. But if he keeps handling it like this, I. That’s why I said. That it’d have to be you, to be the one to leave when it got bad because Isak doesn’t know how to leave you, he’s never gonna know how to do that.”
“Okay,” Even nodded to himself, tears all over his face now. “I...okay.”
He looked positively devastated and Jonas felt like shit but on the bright side now Even understood, now all of them were on the same page and Jonas was gonna fucking keep it that way.
Even had a hand over his face, was trying to breathe and Jonas gave him a little space, staring down at his shoes and flipping the joint around in his fingers as the silence dug.
He knew if their roles were switched right now, if he’d been the one to hurt Isak, he would literally never forgive himself so he felt it, the way Even was reeling.
He felt that in his core.
But he’d sit here until Even had words again, and past that, because Jonas got it.
He was probably the only person on the planet who really fucking got it. He wasn’t gonna drop something like that and make Even deal with the fallout by himself. Yeah, you hurt him, but it’s about how Isak didn’t care, that was the part that counted.
So he sat and smoked and let Even work through it in the silence of his mind, offering him little glances every few minutes as Isak’s boyfriend wrestled through the idea of hurting him.
Jonas didn’t really know what to expect on the other end of that mental torture session, but by the time the pretty head was lifting again, looking over at patient Jonas, looking back down at his hands, he was streaked up and broken and didn’t contain an ounce of bitter, nothing but quiet, hurt, grateful.
Even wrung his hands and whispered quietly to the immovable bench.
“At least he’s got you.”
Jonas was in the middle of inhaling and coughed dramatically instead. That was not what he’d thought he was gonna hear.
Last person who said that was Eva.
He'd been proud, when she'd said it, that day first semester after Terje left the first time, standing on Isak’s parent’s porch, at least he’s got you.
Jonas had replied honored, ja. Ja, he does. Always.
Today Jonas coughed and there wasn’t a place to pull pride from when he said it.
“Ja.” Jonas shook his head, holding the joint back out without looking over at Even. He wasn’t looking at anything. He’d always been there for Isak, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t let Isak waste away for a fucking year of his youth hating himself, didn’t mean he hadn’t been able to protect him when it came down to it. “Some good that's done him.”
“You’re the only consistently good thing he’s ever had in his life.”
Jonas’s head snapped to the side and Even looked at him completely seriously, hadn’t reached over to take the joint, he was just looking and real and dead serious and he meant it, he completely meant that statement. That Jonas was the only good thing Isak ever had.
Fuck. And he supposed now they were both thinking about the text. (Not the suicide note text, the one that stopped anything that terrible from happening again.) The text Jonas sent.
Anything, whatever you need. I’m yours.
Yeah, okay. Maybe. Maybe he was the only consistently good thing Isak had ever had in his life.
And here was Even, telling him that, after Jonas just verbally kicked his ass and brought rain down on every corner of his world.
“Jesus fuck, this got sentimental,” Jonas lifted for one more puff before he was blowing out slow and holding it back out again. Even laughed lightly, rolling his head to look over at him and shaking the whole world with the hint of a smile, a real one.
Jonas glanced over out the corner of his eye, shaking his hand for Even to take the weed, smile tipping up on his face in return. That was probably the first time Even had laughed in a long time. Because things were terrible and his world was shattered but Jonas was looking out for him and more importantly, Jonas was looking out for Isak. He always would.
He could feel, the comfort that was giving Even right now. Still, he flicked a piece of ash off his jeans and smiled at the warmth between them, the sentimental, dropped the second half of the joke. “Let’s never do this again, ever.”
“Great plan,” Even agreed, blowing out smoke over the skatepark with a resident smile curled up.
The skatepark. Jonas put his hands in his lap and wondered distantly if he ever thought he’d be here, talking to Isak’s boyfriend the way Isak used to talk to his girlfriend, confessing secrets on the bench while the rest of the world was quiet.
But Even was a little more than Isak’s boyfriend now, wasn’t he.
“I'm glad you...asked to talk, though,” Jonas told him quietly and Even glanced over, eyebrows shooting up a little.
Taking a heavy, shaking drag through all of the ice Jonas had just dumped over his head in a wakeup call. Fuck.
But he was exhaling steady, shaking his head and looking down at his feet with it.
“Yeah, me too.”
“Despite if it got way too deep way too heavy way too fast.”
“Blame the marijuana,” Even said and Jonas laughed lightly, tipping over to take it back.
“And I know I just said….but anytime you need to talk--”
“Ja, Jonas, you too.” Even handed it over, lingering a moment before he let go and Jonas knit his eyebrows, studying Even’s profile while the watches ticked.
“Ja.” Even turned his head, looking completely serious, offering to be his confidant, maybe offering to be his friend and Jonas pursed his lips, nodding to himself. “I mean, I don't ever have pot, Isak would murder me.”
“Yeah, maybe don't tell him about this.” Fingers lifted to indicate the white curl of smoke and Even huffed.
“Wasn't planning on it.”
“I'm a terrible best friend,” Jonas sighed.
“I'm a terrible boyfriend,” Even followed.
“Ehh, debatable.” Jonas waved a hand back and forth and Even reached across the bench and shoved his shoulder.
Jonas smiled and tipped with it, pulling his beanie down a little further over his forehead. This didn’t turn out too bad after all. Whatever he’d been expecting.
They both found out a lot about what the other was and had been thinking, they’d like...comforted each other in their place in Isak’s life and. And they’d both found out that maybe they could talk to each other like this, in more ways than clandestine phone calls over things they didn’t want their boy to hear.
He really hoped Even took him up on that offer, though. That the next time he had no idea what to do - or hell, the next time he couldn’t decide what damn color flowers to bring Isak - that he was comfortable enough with Jonas for him to be the one he’d ask.
But what he hoped a lot more? For them to get to a place where Even was bringing Isak flowers again instead of calling up Isak’s best friend to cry over how he had no idea what to do.
Did fucking any of them, at this point.
Honestly, they were way too fucking young to be going through any of this. But here they all were, a boy loved a boy who loved a boy and some of those hearts were bloody but maybe they could all make it through to the other side.
“I hope you figure this the fuck out,” Jonas offered quietly and Even’s gaze settled over the swirling colors one more time, voice distant and wistful as his own.
“Ja. I fucking hope so too.”
And well? Jonas would be here to fall back on however long it took.
He was 95% sure Isak wouldn’t check up on his story, but Even ended up visiting his parent’s place anyways. Mainly to take a shower and sober up before he went back to Isak’s. And because he hadn’t seen his dad in a week and a half, and his parents would probably both appreciate a few hours.
He owed a lot of people a lot of things, he could do that much. He was exhausted by the end of it, and ready to go home, which was fucking awful because technically he was home, should be less exhausted, his parents did nothing but take care of him but this wasn’t where everything was quiet and right anymore and.
Either way it was past nineteen by the time Isak opened the door to his apartment and Even tried not to faint his way inside.
“Hey you,” Isak offered warmly, warm enough Even’s toes were curling in the boots he was tugging off. “How was seeing your mom?”
“Okay. She's a little less worried now. Dad too.”
At least Bjørn wasn't bruised anymore. At least it didn't show anymore.
At least his dad went in knowing what to expect. Isak hadn't.
If he'd given Isak bruises instead--
“Good. And how are you?”
Oh wait. He did.
Even straightened up, hanging his outer coat on the hook and turning to Isak, waiting, beautiful, patient Isak, head tipped up to look at him.
“I'm doing okay.”
“I'm glad,” Isak hushed, reverent and pretty as a hand reached for Even’s arm and Even let him stroke down from elbow to wrist, pulling warmth into his skin, dragging life back into his body as fingertips wrapped around the inside of his palm, over his wrist.
Nightmares, Isak’s mouth pressed to the inside of his wrist over his pulse over the bloody place Isak’s brain had twisted him to believe Even had tried to leave him--
The screaming sob.
Pulse pounding beneath weak fingertips now.
“How about you?” Even dared to ask, hating himself for every word, gaze falling for his socks and the carpet so he didn’t have to see the heartbreak in brilliant, throbbing green. Were there still bruises under his sleeves?
It’d be cruel to lie and crueler not to, so Even filled it in for him first, understatements to sweep under tired feet. “I know the past few weeks have...sucked.”
Isak shrugged, fingers wrapping a little tighter. “Ja. They have. But I've still got you, so. I'll make it through.”
Even tried not to twist his face up pained but Isak saw it anyways, if the palm pressing to his cheek was any indication. His lashes fluttered closed and warm, callused, real pressed against his bare skin, once chilled.
You can coax the cold right out of me.
“Wanna come to bed?” Isak’s voice drifted over his skin and Even tried not to sway on his feet. The last summer, the winter nightmare and how many times had Isak shot up gasping and terrified on that couch this week, how much did Even not get to see because he couldn’t take it, closed his eyes in sleep.
The black eye hadn’t been from his hands but it might as well have been.
He wavered, one foot stepping backwards. Isak’s hand on his cheek didn’t break free, curling a little hard, desperate, trying, voice lifting, please, don’t let him sleep out here again.
Even had never felt so cruel.
“I can sing you to sleep,” Isak offered, a final straw, something anything just let me be in there with you and Even had never felt like a more despicable human being.
“Please god no,” Even said tiredly, a bit of smile left in his bones from the way dark curls had lifted his heart and now light curls tipped as Isak laughed, a little light and beautiful and all because of him and Even’s soul was fucking reborn in his chest, let his metal legs crumple all they pleased.
The boy he bruised still wanted him, so desperately, he hadn’t ruined him entirely but Even still couldn’t breathe.
“I can play you guitar, then? Jonas left his over here the other day.” The hand on his face kept stroking and Even kept letting his poison heart pound under Isak’s fingertips. Hadn’t been able to find the strength to keep it from pounding yet.
Focus. Jonas left his over here the other day. You have to be the one to do it. He’s not strong enough. Isak wasn’t strong enough.
“I didn't hear you guys playing,” Even tried, so he was saying something and Isak was rocking a little on his feet. This was everything to him, every word Even was offering he was hanging onto like a prayer and Even was fucking sick of being called angel.
“You were pretty deep asleep. We're just that good.” Isak gave him another little smile.
Isak wouldn’t stop fucking giving. How many more pieces of his soul would he let Even destroy.
Even tipped his head and attempted a push up of one of the corners of his mouth and Isak took his hand properly, stepping up beside him and weaving their fingers together.
These were the hands that hurt him, and Isak was clinging to them. Was it his fucked up parents, was it how many times he’d been abandoned that he was just scared now, was it that Even was the only thing he knew about love so he didn’t know love wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it that he just didn’t care, he had enough bruises from Even that they didn’t register as bad anymore but Even couldn’t live like this, he couldn’t live knowing he’d hurt Isak and Isak didn’t hate him for it, he--
Isak squeezed his hand.
It made his heart pound in his chest but Isak just smiled up at him and lead him quietly for the bedroom.
When they got there Even didn't let go of Isak's hand, he couldn't, he’d promised Jonas but he didn’t know how. He didn’t know how. God save them, he didn’t know how.
Isak huffed happily and followed him down to the bed, legs stretching out. Then Isak was pulling Even sideways to lay his head in Isak’s lap, letting go of his fingers to pull up the duvet over Even’s shoulders and put his heavy hands in Even’s hair.
“I love you,” Isak whispered down at him.
Even inhaled and curled in against him, one hand shoving under his thigh, ear pressed against the top of it. Isak swooped down and kissed the side of his nose and pulled the blanket higher over his shoulders, wrapping him in the sky itself, hand smoothing them warmly.
Palm rubbing back and forth over tired tired muscle and broken promises and unfading guilt and Even fell asleep broken in Isak’s lap while Isak sat against the wall and watched the moon outside their curtain-free window.
A tear rolled down his cheek in the moonlight and his hands were too busy holding Even’s beautiful head to wipe it away.
Jonas thought he was prepared for everything that might happen to him in the five minutes it took to walk from his first class to his second but he was wrong.
He was hella unprepared to suddenly get grabbed on the arm and dragged into an empty classroom, by motherfucking Christoffer Schistad of all people.
“Woah, uh. Hey, Chris--”
“Sorry to be clandestine and weird but I don't want Isak getting the wrong idea and I figured you know so.”
Apparently he was the authority on everything nowadays, when the fuck that happened, he would like to know but. Jonas furrowed his eyebrows, glancing around the classroom and back at the ‘97’er who was chewing his lip.
Did Chris Schistad have human emotions in his body that ran in the same strain as nervousness??
“...okay,” Jonas said slowly and Chris ran a hand through his hair, looking wildly distracted.
Not the kind of upset from the time he shoved Jonas and got into a physical fight with him in the hallway though.
Or the time he and his friends went to war in physical fights with him to defend his friend either.
Just. Worried. Which was a really weird look on somebody so...confident.
“So I don't wanna pry, and you can tell me to fuck off, but. Is E.Bech - sorry. Even, is he okay?”
Jonas’s jaw actually dropped open a little.
“Hva faen, are you worried about him?”
Maybe it was a little insensitive but he was in more than a little shock okay.
“He’s my lab partner,” Chris defended. “I just wanna make sure my grade isn’t gonna flop.”
It was so transparent even Jonas could tell it was a lie.
Huh. Even made legit loyal friends. Out of the last people Jonas would've expected. He also made a sunshine boy out of the saddest one on earth and.
He shook his head once, recalibrating. Chris was worried about Even and obviously Even wasn't gonna be responding to any of those worries and god knows how long it was until Even was back in school and.
“Uh. He’s going through a tough time right now,” Jonas said, slower still. Actually he wasn't sure what the excuse was that people had been told, if it was illness or family issues or what so it looked like vague was gonna be the answer.
Chris twisted up his mouth to the side, nodding to himself.
“Is there like...anything I can do?”
Jonas pointedly did not say there was nothing anything any of them could do including Isak which was actually slowly destroying Isak, if lunch yesterday was any indication, so.
“You’d have to ask him.”
Chris nodded, shrugging back into a little rougher demeanor.
“Cool. uh...takk, I guess.”
Jonas was still standing here with ten dozen question marks over the top of his head. This was the last conversation he would've seen himself having but here he was.
“So I guess. Enjoy the rest of your day?”
“And if you see Even tell him to text me back.”
His head wasn't pounding.
Isak kissed his forehead and his cheek goodbye this morning and waited with him until the last possible second before he'd be late.
He took a shower and he kept thinking about Isak’s warm hands in his hair. He’d lifted the edge of Isak’s sleeve this morning and his arms had been clean, bruise free.
This is all about how much he loves you, Jonas had said.
Even was going to talk to Isak about it, he was, about the bruises and how that didn’t get to be an okay thing, no matter whether Even was manic or not. That Isak didn’t get to be nonchalant about pain anymore. They were going to talk about it and talk through it because it was them and everything was going to be okay.
Isak loved him and Even loved him back and Even had done so much to hurt him but Isak was here here and here and that meant Even had the chance to fucking fix it.
Isak smiled at him this morning like Even was the most beautiful thing in the world and Even scrubbed himself down in the shower with light hands and the sparkle of Isak’s warmth under his skin.
That beautiful smile permeating his mind.
Beautiful hands wrapped around his head like there was nothing in this universe that mattered more.
Washing him clean.
He didn't deserve this, dear god he didn't deserve much more than the ditch he'd narrowly dodged last week but Isak was sleeping at his side and whispering him nonsense about love and holding his hand and letting him fall asleep with warm hands in his hair and Even was starting to forget about the ditch.
The shower water was starting to forget it was supposed to be drowning him.
What a fucking terrifying turn of events.
Isak was still looking down at his phone waiting for Even’s red heart to come through - it fucking better, he’d seen the three dots erase and reappear like six times now - when speak of the same three dots, someone unexpected swept down beside him at lunch.
“Hey,” a female voice chirped and Isak glanced over, straightened up in surprise.
“Sorry to interrupt, boys,” she addressed to Magnus Mahdi and Jonas but they all threw up vague hands. It’d been pretty idle chatter anyways.
“We were just watching Isak get frustrated texting his boyfriend,” Magnus offered and Isak flicked him off.
“Oh no, is Even doing okay?” Eva knit her eyebrows, looking over sudden enough her hair swung.
“He’s fine,” Isak said, glaring at Magnus a little. Magnus lifted an unapologetic shoulder and took a bite of sandwich. Isak turned back to Eva. “What’s up with you?”
“Do you have some time to chat today after school? I can buy coffee,” she offered, a bit of a smile. Isak smiled back, they hadn’t had much of a chance to talk since everything but it was really sweet she was going out of her way to make sure they connected again.
“I would love to, but can we shoot for next week instead? I really do need to get home to Even.”
“Yeah, of course,” she said, nodding reassuringly. “No problem at all.”
“Thanks, Eva.” He gave her a smile and glanced back at his phone - no heart yet. She nodded again, pushing up from the table and Isak suddenly dove over for her hand. “Oh, don’t go yet though, I was gonna propose some summer plans, it’d be great if you stayed. That way it’s less texting for us both later.”
“Yeah, sure,” Eva smiled simply and sat back down, looking between him and the rest of the boys. Isak took his hand back and Eva opened up her lunch bag. “What have you got so far?”
“This is the first we’ve heard of it,” Mahdi informed her and Eva rolled her eyes over at Isak. Isak threw up his hands, bread in his cheek.
“What, I said gonna propose, I hadn’t gotten around to that part yet.”
Jonas shook his head at him and Eva smiled down at the table.
“Isak the romantic.”
“Not that kind of propose!!! Jesus!!!”
Everybody broke into giggles at the look on his face and Isak sighed, propping his head on a hand.
“Anyways. Mahdi, do your parents still have the key to that swimming pool?”
When he got home from school, he took two steps into the apartment and there was Even, in the living room, on the floor. All wrapped up in Isak’s clothes, strands of haphazard blonde all over and fingers wrapped around a monopoly piece, hopping it around a board spread out between him and Noora.
“You can't have Parkway, there is absolutely nothing you can sell me to get it,” she was saying and Even was smiling a little, one corner of his mouth tipped up.
“Halla,” Isak said, heart in his throat. Even looked up.
Shit, he was beautiful.
“Hey. How was school?”
“Good. It looks like you two are having fun.”
“Noora’s cheating,” Even informed him, too soft and Noora’s red mouth popped open too dramatic but it was okay.
“I am not. I just happen to be…really good at Monopoly.”
Isak set down his backpack and leaned over Even to give him a kiss on top of his head. He smelled like Isak’s shampoo and something soft.
“You can be on my team if you like,” Even offered. Isak’s heart did leaps and bounds and tried to kick its way out of his chest but he managed not to sound strangled in his reply.
“That sounds nice.” He scooted up behind Even, legs spread out on either side of Even’s hips, hooking his chin over a gray shoulder and wrapping his arms around a quiet, too-thin sternum.
Even seemed a little surprised at the closeness of their bodies, looking over his shoulder at Isak but he was smiling softly again when he turned back to the board.
Isak angled his chin, rolling it on Even’s shoulder to watch the side of his face instead of the game he couldn’t care less about.
“Are we winning?”
“No,” Noora said at the same time Even interjected lightly,
Isak laughed and squeezed his arms around Even’s stomach a little tighter. Squeezing all of him in with it.
Even was standing at the bathroom mirror brushing his teeth when Isak opened up the bathroom door and hip-checked him for room at the sink.
Eyebrows went up in the mirror. Isak put a toothbrush in his mouth and shot his eyebrows up right back. What.
Even shook his head and spit in the sink. Isak smiled.
A hand trailed over his lower back when Even walked past him, then he was leaning on the bathroom door and waiting for him.
Isak’s spine tingled the entire rest of the time it took him to brush his teeth and wash his mouth out.
They walked back to their room together and the backs of their hands brushed twice.
“Can I beat you at Fifa?” Isak asked as Even closed the door behind them and those pretty eyebrows went up again.
Feeling, expression, things Even hadn’t had in what felt like forever and a half.
“I don’t think you can,” Even said slowly and Isak dipped his head, mouth dropping open.
“Excuse me, that sounds like a challenge.”
Even shrugged lightly, but he was sitting down on the edge of the bed and pulling out controllers, so.
He was right though. Isak didn’t manage to beat him in Fifa.
He did manage to get invited to spend the night in bed again though, so it sure as hell felt like a win.
He’d take falling asleep curled up around Even’s spine over any other victory he knew.
Isak’s hand was on his waist. His nose squished sideways on his shoulder, curls tickling the back of his neck.
Even laid on the blue pillow and looked at the wall all the way across the room.
It wasn’t as dark in here as he remembered.
Isak was so very beautiful.
His body possessed by light. Light he’d come so fucking close to snuffing out with fists that swung for the week he’d had, for the things Even said, for the way Even was, coming back bloody and bruised only that part was hidden now, hidden and healed and the hands on his body weren’t broken anymore but Even wasn’t forgetting. He wasn’t sporting bruises from Even’s hands anymore but Even wasn’t forgetting. All of that light, so fucking close.
Even wrapped his fingers over the loose ones on his waist and closed his eyes tight and prayed they’d never get used to it.
It wasn’t birds in the morning.
He woke up because Isak stubbed his toe on the shelf and broke off in a string of curses.
“Fucking hell Jesus fucking fuck-- fuck, sorry, baby I didn’t mean to wake you, shit.” Isak was staring down at him as Even peeked open an eye and squinted at the room.
“It’s fine,” he mumbled and Isak dropped to a squat beside the bed, pressing a warm kiss to his cheekbone.
Even rolled over and curled back up in the covers. Isak was beautiful but he was exhausted and not really in the mood to watch Isak leave.
That was the worst part about letting Isak sleep in here again. Even could count on him leaving every morning without him and he was sick of it.
“Have a good day,” Isak whispered, rubbing a hand over his spine. Even kept his eyes closed. He was going to try, because he was supposed to be having a good day.
He’d woke up yesterday and felt okay, he was supposed to keep feeling okay, better actually. Fuck that today he wanted to bury his head under the covers and stare at the dark until his head went quiet.
But that wasn’t an option, they expected more from him now, his allotted two weeks of Feeling Bad time were drawing to a close and he was supposed to be on the up and up he had to keep himself on the up and up there wasn’t supposed to be anything but up and up, control it.
All he had to do was plaster a smile on and do everything they asked and in theory his head would catch on to it all too.
“I love you, sweetheart,” Isak whispered at the door and Even fought the urge to pull his hand out of the covers and flick him off on his way out.
Yes, all he had to keep doing was say yes and that would be enough for them to leave him alone.
He spent as much of the day in his head as they were letting him but it wasn’t dark enough in there to be comfortable, someone had left the blinds cracked and light kept streaming in uncomfortably and Even kept squinting at everything and telling himself things were supposed to be looking up.
Things had been good. Really looking up good.
Even ate both breakfast and lunch. Took a shower, chatted with Eskild for awhile in Eskild’s room before he left for work.
Then Linn took over shift and said things were fine, she asked Even how he was feeling and he got kinda fussy but he seemed to be doing really well other than that.
When Isak got home from school they went out for food.
Even was quiet through a lot of it but not bad, more like he was thinking through a lot of things.
On the walk home Even let him hold his hand but he looked drained as hell by the time they finally got back to the apartment.
Isak asked if he was alright and he was a little curt then he took off for the bedroom while Isak sighed and made them tea. And texted Liv.
Only now he had an answer - ask Even and. Well.
Isak sucked in a breath and sat down next to Even on the bed.
“Baby, can we talk?”
“I hate it when you say that,” he sighed and Isak blinked a little wide.
“No, can we talk. It freaks me out.”
“Sorry, I…” Isak stumbled a moment, setting down their mugs of tea a few feet away on the carpet. “I don’t know how else to say that.”
“It’s fine,” Even dismissed, locking his phone and looking up at him. “What’s up?”
“It’s a really personal question and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
“I mean it, and I’m not trying to imply anything by asking, or say you should, or anything like that--”
“Isak, remember how I just said I was already freaked out? This isn’t helping.”
“Sorry, sorry, I just.” Isak worried his thumbs over the edges of his sleeves, wondering for the thirtieth time today how the fuck he still couldn’t do this right. Fuck, the longer he sat here the more he fucked up and he sucked in a breath, looking up at Even and exhaling all at once. “Why aren’t you on medication?”
Even blinked at him. “Fuck.”
“I don’t wanna pry--”
“I knew it was gonna fucking come up eventually.” He threw up a hand and collapsed down dramatically on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. Isak hesitated a moment. Even rolled his head to raise pissy eyebrows up at him.
“I’m not gonna fucking bite you, you can lay down next to me.”
Isak laid down, crooking an arm under his head and looking across the duvet at Even’s lifted eyebrows, heart still pounding in his wrists.
“Were you already upset? I wouldn’t’ve brought it up if--”
“I’m not upset at you.” Even readjusted his head, looking up at the ceiling, all light eyes and flickering mouth. “I’m just pissed I can’t get over this.”
“What?” Isak asked quietly and Even looked over at him wildly.
“The whole fucking depression thing? That’s what. It’s just infuriating, that I spend fucking two weeks in bed, that I get behind in all my fucking school work and ruin everyone’s fucking lives around me all because my fucking brain can’t--”
Screeching halt as Even stopped himself, mouth still open a moment while Isak looked at him silently and patient. Even breathed out slow, rolling his head and pushing a hand for the sky, fingers curling and uncurling, falling back to his side with another rushed exhale.
“Sorry. I just...really fucking wish I had control sometimes, I don’t wanna take it out on you, I just get really frustrated and.” He inhaled deep and exhaled deeper, hand waving in Isak’s direction this time. “Which brings us to your question. Why aren’t I on medication.”
“...yeah. We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want.”
“I don’t ever want to talk about my brain but we have to at some point, so.” Even chewed the inside of his cheek, looking over at Isak again. All deliberating and Isak just looked back as blankly as he could manage.
Maybe he’d really miscalculated how Even was doing, it did not seem like this was a good time for any kind of conversation, but well. It was too late now.
“Do you know what medication does?”
“Um. It balances the monoamines in your brain?” Isak tried.
Even’s eyebrows shot straight up again. “Someone’s done their fucking homework. I wasn’t talking about scientifically.”
“...how much have you researched me?” It was slow and prying and Isak was fucking trying not to get emotional and tear up but Even was looking at him betrayed and suspicious and he’d barely looked at Isak at all in weeks and it was just a lot and.
“I wasn’t trying to upset you,” Isak whispered, eyes a little too shiny. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“Fuck. Fuck, Isak, I’m not. None of this is coming out right.” It sounded so frustrated and Even screwed his eyes shut, jaw clicking with it and Isak’s heart was breaking. “Don’t know why I’m being so fucking confrontational, I don’t. I don’t fucking know how to talk about this.”
He threw up both his hands that time, he was upset now too and Isak didn’t know what to do about that beautiful brain but he knew the wild heart and he took the grasping fingers right out of the sky, pulling on the right one to tug Even up on his shoulder as he drew them in.
Isak tucked both of those beautiful shaky hands in against his chest, so Even could feel the beat of his heart, the piece of Isak he so completely owned. Connecting them to each other again and pulling him out of sea he would stop trying to drift on alone.
“We don’t have to talk,” Isak told him quietly and Even glanced up at him, looked back down at his hands on Isak’s chest.
“You want to know why I’m not on medication.”
“But we don’t have to talk now, Even, I really don’t wanna make you upset.”
“I really wanna stop being upset,” Even hushed back, more hurt than anything else.
Isak just looked at him, the both of them curled up on their sides now. Even looked back.
Their knees were bumping and walls were thinning and his shaking hands were slowing, curling around Isak’s fingers. Isak just held on and looked at him. And kept looking. He didn’t say a word, watching the flickers across Even’s face and holding his hands over the steady pound of his heartbeat and didn’t say a single thing.
Even’s curled fingers pressed a little harder against his heart. Pushing him away or into him, he couldn’t tell but Isak would forever let him do either, both, holding on tight through all of it as he wondered distantly if Even felt the pound against his fingertips and knew it was only beating for him and just him.
“It makes you numb,” Even’s parted lips shaped. The silence slipped away and the fingers over his squeezed. “They always tell you it won’t and it always does. It sounds fucking cliché, but I can’t live as a drugged up zombie, Isak, I can’t. There are ways to manage it without it, with therapy and other things especially since I’m young and I’ve been trying some of those but I just got really busy and stopped paying attention to myself. And I was scared, of what would happen, of what it would do to us, to you. And it blew up in my face, because I fucking knew avoiding it wasn’t gonna help anything but I did it anyways because I was too fucking scared to do anything else.
“But I can’t be on medication, Isak. I can’t do that to my brain. To live like that, to be fake--
“It doesn’t give you control. It gives doctors and pills control and I have to figure this out on my own, I can’t get addicted to something like that, or end up on lithium or some shit cause what happens when one day I take too much and--”
His head shook, broken strands tumbling, light blue eyes slipping closed and it was so serious, shaking and shaking and already so completely made up.
“I won’t do it. I won’t do it. I won’t.”
“Okay,” Isak said. The depths of these waters he could do. “Okay.”
“There's a lot of reasons and I. I I've tried it once and I know it works for a lot of people but. But I can't, I’m sorry,” Even tried and Isak shook his head once, cutting off the apology and running his thumbs over Even’s skin.
“I just wanted to know. You don’t have anything to be sorry for. Thank you for telling me.”
It was too jilted, watery, all of this was and they were stumbling like fuck but they were talking and that was the only thing that counted, they’d get better at this with time, they always would.
Even was just staring at him.
Isak blinked. Even tried to pull his hands back retreat and Isak held on tighter, his whole torso rocking with it. Even gave up and let Isak keep his hands, sighing to himself and looking down, lashes blocking Isak from seeing all of that tumultuous emotion.
Oceans and oceans of waves, all that guilt Isak didn’t know how to assuage yet but he’d figure it out, they’d figure it out.
“I don’t deserve you,” Even cursed under his breath and Isak shook the hands on his chest.
“Don’t say shit like that. What makes you think you have anything to apologize for?” Even looked up at him dully - c’mon, really - and Isak looked back just as axiomatic, eyebrows shooting up - hello.
“Even, I'm not gonna change my mind about you when you're depressed. I'll be there when you want me through it and when it's over I'll be waiting to hold you tight again. You don't...genuinely think anything you do when you're depressed is gonna change us, do you?”
“...I don't know why it wouldn't,” Even said flatly and Isak scoffed, a little high and offended but who the fuck did Even think he was?
“Even. I love you. All of you. It's that simple.” Isak shrugged and Even started to roll away. Isak tugged him back again, hard enough his shoulder jerked and Even was narrowing his eyes but Isak stared back defiantly. “I know that's not easy for you to believe when everything sucks but. Doesn't mean I ever stop believing it for a second.”
He tipped his head back and forth with it, duh hello, and Even was tearing up now so Isak flattened the hands over his chest, pushing Even’s palms over him before he was sliding his touch up bare arms and underneath the sleeves of his dark tshirt, fingers skirting warm skin.
Even pressed his hands hard on Isak’s chest and shuddered at the touch of his fingertips and blinked too rapidly at the tears in his eyes, staring down with sweeping dark lashes while Isak looked all over his beautiful face.
“It's really simple. You and me, we’ll take it easy, okay?”
“Okay,” Even rasped, eyes fluttering shut. Isak rubbed his thumbs over silky skin stretched on softening muscle and studied the pain in that pretty face. Even shut himself into the dark like Isak was the blinding sunshine. Like he didn’t know how to deal with someone who didn’t treat him like he was crazy.
But Isak was just waiting and happy to have his boy and eventually, Even would get it. Isak was here, forever, and that better be what was going through that beautiful mind right now because he fucking meant it.
Let Isak be the light he came home to. Let him be the world waiting for Even on the other side of the dark. He was here and fucking here.
“I love you,” Even whispered faintly, words barely forming from parted lips.
The corner of Isak’s mouth tipped up in a crooked smile and he lifted a hand to Even’s cheekbone, sliding it back into his hair.
“I know you do.”
He rubbed his thumb through the soft strands and Even’s lashes fluttered back open, watching him watch.
They both laid there for a moment, Isak’s mouth closed on a pout and Even’s eyes searching his face, back and forth between his eyes, all over his skin, down to his mouth. Flicking back up to meet his gaze and Isak tipped up the corner of his mouth higher, sparkling a little with it.
Even said he loved him, Even was slowly getting better to the point he wasn’t numb anymore and yeah, he was frustrated at some things but Isak wasn’t one of them, he was finally starting to get it through his pretty head that things weren’t over, weren’t anywhere near over, they were just beginning.
“I love you too, you know,” Isak reminded, in case he hadn’t said it enough times today and Even picked up his head, hand sliding up Isak’s chest to cup his neck. Gaze still flicking between his eyes, down to his mouth again.
Even leaned forward, tongue darting out to wet his lips, then his eyes slipped shut and he was closing the distance between their lips, pressing them quiet slow tentative to Isak’s.
The kiss was light and a bit nervous and Even’s lips were chapped and it sent a whole flood of sparks down Isak’s spine. He tipped his chin up and kissed Even back, pressing a little.
Then their lips were lifting apart and taking his whole soul with it.
Even laid his head back down, heart racing and so did Isak, heart racing.
Lips parted around all of the air he was breathing, disbelieving and elated and.
And okay, maybe he was also kinda torn between smiling wider than that day at the pool or tearing up again because Even kissed him, Even reached for him and kissed him and was now searching his eyes and rubbing his thumb over Isak’s cheek and.
“I really love you,” Isak whispered, Even’s kiss imprinted on his mouth as he searched back and forth between the blue.
Even’s fingers tightened against his neck. Isak looked at him and tried to say it all without opening his mouth again.
You’re not an up or a down. It’s not like I have you in my head as Even’s fine, Even’s high, Even’s low. You aren’t a rollercoaster. There’s just you.
He was here to see past the highs and lows and ups and downs and yes and no’s, Isak just saw Even. Even, underneath it all, that was the boy he was blushing over kissing.
“Can you kiss me again,” Isak whispered because he was weak and breathing too hard and Even was so close and holding him hard and looking at him like that.
Even lifted his eyebrows and scooted a little closer on the pillow. Isak’s pulse picked up and the thumb in his neck pressed over it, soaking in the beat and the heat on Isak’s cheeks and Isak couldn’t tear his eyes away from Even’s face.
Then Even was picking his head up again, nose slotting in next to his and eyes falling shut as he tipped their mouths together, pursed lips pressed and caving and Isak’s chest expanded ten sizes with the warmth. He clung a moment too long, pushing back against the cautious mouth. Reveling in closeness and intention he'd missed so fucking much. Their mouths, connected.
It was still simple and short but it was something, maybe everything, then Isak was pulling away and letting Even go, falling back to the pillow in front of him again and smiling wide, dimples under Even’s skirting fingers.
Even was watching him, tracing him quietly and thinking too hard and Isak kept a hand in Even’s messy hair and scooted forward so their noses fell in the crooks of each other, lining up close enough Even closed his eyes and breathed him in instead.
Isak closed his eyes and decided this was the best Thursday he’d ever known.
When he woke up to the shivering cold, it took him about one and a half seconds to notice Even wasn’t beside him in bed.
Isak went through the entire range of emotions within the mini seven second heart attack before he remembered not only how to breathe, but how to walk across the room and throw open the door and see the light on in the kitchen.
It was just that Even hadn’t had enough energy to try to kill himself last week. It was when you were starting to get better that everything got really fucking dangerous. Because his head could still be low but he was up and walking around and leaving in the middle of the night now and Isak hadn’t slept on the couch since Sunday so there was no one watching the door and.
He turned the corner into the kitchen and rubbed his eyes and tried not to fall over as his knees went weak at the sight of Even at the kitchen table.
With his wrists fully intact, and his fingers wrapped around a pencil.
“Sorry, did I wake you?” Even asked, glancing up and Isak shook his head once, curls bouncing over his forehead.
“The cold did,” he replied kinda gravelly, sliding out the chair across from Even and plopping down. Even glanced up at him again and Isak folded his arms over the table, laying his head back down, temple to forearm as his eyes fell back shut.
The scratch of the pencil paused for a moment, then Even went back to drawing and Isak dozed on the kitchen table.
About forty minutes later Even was tapping Isak’s shoulder, warm mouth against his ear, breath dancing over his skin and words sinking through his dreams.
“Hey baby, don’t make me carry you back to bed.”
“Hm?” Isak lifted his head groggily, the side of his face red with the imprint of his arm as he squinted at the kitchen lights and the hair on the back of his head stuck up in ten different directions.
“Oh yeah,” he mumbled and Even smiled, leaning in to press a kiss in his curls.
It warmed him down to the toes. Isak mmm’d so Even pressed another kiss, nosing in close to send shivers down his spine. Isak pushed up off the table, reaching sleepily for him.
Even smiled soft in the kitchen light and Isak wrapped his arms around a long pretty neck, clinging close while Even held him with an arm around his waist.
“I’m so happy you’re mine,” Isak murmured into his neck, lips dragging over the heated skin. The arm barred over his spine swayed them side to side as Even’s head tipped against his.
“Ja,” Isak whispered, following it with a little sticky kiss.
Even held him there in the kitchen for a few more wonderfully warm comforting moments, then Isak was pulling back and yawning as he wrapped their hands together.
The hallway was cold but he didn’t notice because Even let himself be lead all the way back for bed. There was graphite on the side of his hand and splattered over Isak’s fingers but everything was perfect now.
They curled right back into bed and Isak was asleep inside of minutes, holding on tight.
It’d been a long time since Even woke up first, but he’d never been gladder for it. Isak’s body was trying to wake him up and he kept sending himself back to sleep before he could break the surface.
Inhale in the back of his throat, head turning over then his body followed and rolled over too, exhaling over a quiet drawn out sound then he was settling right back into the pillows. Curls all over the place, duvet shifting with every rise and fall of his ribs.
He was precious and mesmerizing and the fact that Even was allowed to lay right here and watch him felt like an honest to god miracle.
Then Isak’s phone was going off its sixth warning and Isak’s lashes fluttered open groggily.
He blinked at Even, doing a little double take at the fact that Even was already awake, looking at him from the other pillow.
“Halla,” he whispered in the space between them. Isak squinted at him before flipping over onto his spine, blinking, rolling his head back to look at Even.
Even scooted over close and pressed a little kiss to his nose.
Isak crinkled it up, all these lines scrunching up his face and it was super fucking cute and the little smack of his mouth was so bitchy and sweet and Even missed him so much.
“Feeling better today?”
“Mmhm. You’re really pretty when you sleep.”
Isak squinted at him again, smile tipping up just a little. “Tusen takk.”
Even kissed him again, on the mouth. It was short, hardly more than a peck but Isak was smiling dimpled on both sides when he pulled back. Even’s heart kicked in his chest, hard enough he leaned back in and kissed Isak again, pressing this time.
He’d been doing nothing but making Isak sad, if he could make Isak smile even a little he was going to do that and keep doing that and do more, until he never stopped smiling again.
Isak kissed back, soft and barely, mouth moving a little under his before he was tipping his chin down, pulling away with a wide, real sunrise on his face and a thumb rubbing over Even’s cheek.
It was strange and surprising and way too short and a little unsure but really nice.
“You’re really pretty all the time.”
“You think so?”
“I do,” Isak told him, then he was smiling even wider, somehow. “You up to me bringing back homework for you?”
“I’m up to going to school,” Even said cheerily back and the smile dropped instantly.
No no no, he needed Isak to be--
“Are you sure?” Isak’s hand stopped, lifting his head to look down at him seriously. “Even, you don’t have to push anything. You can take your time with this.”
“I’m really sure, babe.” Even looked up at him sincerely, stroking slow through the messy golden curls. “I want to get back into doing things, y’know? As much as I love your apartment, I need to get back into like. Life.”
“Yeah, I get that. But school?”
“If I’m getting out of the apartment, I might as well be where I’m supposed to be.” He lifted a shoulder, this was logic and it wasn’t irrational and he was trying to do the right thing here.
“You’re supposed to be home,” Isak corrected quietly. “As long as you need to be.”
“I know,” Even said, and it was balanced and level and what he wanted to hear enough that Isak’s defenses were melting a bit. A bit. The smile was almost coming back. He needed the smile back.
“So then why do you wanna go?”
“It’s only one day, it’s Friday, so. It’s a good day to go.”
Isak was looking disbelievingly at him and Even was fucking desperate to make everything okay again, he needed that pretty face to work with him right now.
“And if it turns out to be stressful or some shit, I’ll come back here, okay? Or go to my parent’s house.”
“Do you really think you’re ready?”
“Nothing happens on Fridays. And I need to at least pick up my stuff and show my face in genetics.”
“I’m...not convinced,” Isak told him cutely, head tipping dramatic and yes he was teasing but not about the convinced part. Teasing was a first step but he needed Isak happy, he needed to start fixing that right now, he couldn’t spend another day knowing he was destroying that boy, he couldn’t.
Even propped up on an elbow, tipping his head right back, c’mon.
“Baby, I’ll go home the second it’s too much, okay?”
“...okay,” Isak said dubiously, leaning back a little and squinting suspiciously at him. “Promise?”
“Promise. I think it’s what I need right now, but I'll leave if I need to.” Even lifted his eyebrows, promise and Isak’s hand found his, fingers weaving and making his mouth tip in a smile that Even’s followed, chased after.
That mouth, healing, coaxing all the cold free and Even was going to feed the sunshine until the clouds disappeared from green forever and ever.
Isak let Even kiss him again, eyes open the whole time as he looked down his nose at the peck just a little suspiciously.
Even shot his eyebrows up. What.
“Just let me know if you do, okay? I don’t wanna be running around Nissen looking for you.”
Isak didn't know enough of what was happening to call him on it.
“I will.” Even promised, hard. Tipping forward to pull their mouths together again, another quiet simple kiss that left Isak’s lashes fluttering and his hand squeezing Even’s tight.
Had to dip back to teasing before the feelings swept him under. “Where would you look for me first? The film lab?”
“The windowsill,” Isak corrected, prying his eyes open and looking a little emotional, overwhelmed, intoxicated, gaze flashing down to Even’s mouth again. They were supposed to be drying off from the pool now.
“Ooo, good one.” Even smiled to himself and pushed up from his elbow to sit all the way, running a hand through the mess of his hair. “You know me well.”
“I’d like to think so,” Isak sat up too, giving him that pretty little smile.
This time when Even leaned over Isak leaned over too and they met in the middle, kissing kinda giddy and it was still short and new and the most familiar thing he’d ever done and Isak smiled to himself the whole time they got dressed.
Eskild made a lot of suspicious faces at them as they put on their shoes at the door but Even leaned against Isak as he hopped into his boot and promised Eskild he’d be completely fine.
They held hands on the bus and Isak walked him to genetics lab and went up on his tiptoes to kiss his cheek goodbye at the door.
“You need me to talk to any of your teachers?”
“They all know. Thanks though.” Even smiled down at him, stroking his cheek, fingers up through his hair around the circle of his ear and he pulled Isak forward into another kiss, on the mouth this time. Isak leaned up into him needy and trying not to be but the shudder down his spine gave him away. Even let them draw apart slow, reveling in it before he let go of his hand slow enough their fingers dragged and dropped like Michelangelo’s ceiling.
The whole class was staring as Even opened the door and walked for the back of the class, but it was easy to ignore all of their confused faces when Christoffer’s was suddenly lighting up in the back of the room.
“Well look who it is.”
“Hey Chris,” Even offered with a smile and Chris stood up, pushing his chair aside to clap Even’s hand and pull him into a one shoulder hug. Even huffed a light surprised laugh and Chris leaned back, one hand still on his shoulder.
“You don’t look half bad for a guy back from the dead.”
“Am I back? From what it says on the board looks like I’ve stepped right back into hell.”
“You wouldn’t believe the shit we’re doing in this class right now. Man, our plants have like. Grown up without you, they’re gonna have daddy issues.”
Even laughed again and Chris clapped his shoulder, pulling out his chair for him.
“At least they still had you.”
“You’re damn right they did, I haven’t gotten to skip a day thanks to your sorry absent ass.”
“Chris Schistad, perfect attendance? I should drop off the face of the earth more often.”
“Hell no, don’t you dare pull that shit on me again. Teach over there tried to eat me alive.”
“Still got a six though?”
“Oh hell yeah. That asshole can pull my perfect grade from my cold dead hands.”
Even smiled to himself and Chris slid over a notebook. “Here’s two weeks worth of notes, princess.”
“What would I do without you.”
“Fail this class.”
“You’re probably right.”
“I’m definitely right.”
Chris smiled over at him and Even looked down at the notebook. Fuck, there was a lot. He knew there would be.
It was nice to see Chris again but jesus fuck, he’d never been more grateful for a teacher to start talking. Everything was just a lot to take in all at once and he was still trying to process how he was supposed to keep a complacent smile plastered on his face for an entire hour when the prof started going off about chi squared tests and Even just ended up staring wide-eyed at a lot of numbers that came from fuck knows where.
Chris kept glancing over at him a little concerned, offering smiles every now and then as he leaned over and pointed out things.
Even didn’t know what they told him was going on, but they actually did a lot in lab so there wasn’t a lag to find out and honestly he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know but then the bell was ringing and people were packing up.
“Are you back for good, now?” Chris asked and Even nodded, pulling on his bag and waiting for Chris to put the rest of his things in his own.
“I think so.”
“I’m guessing you wanna wait a bit on the gym though,” Chris extrapolated and Even lifted his eyebrows a little. Chris shouldered on his bag and threw up a hand at the look on his face. “What, you look tired, I dunno, sue me for being a friend.”
“I’m not surprised you care,” Even told him and Chris shoved him lightly on their way for the door. Even smiled, looking down at his feet and letting the rock take him out of his head a little. It was just that there was already so much happening and it was just one class, he wasn’t sure what happened to the do nothing on Friday policy.
But he lifted his head when he got to the door Chris was holding open, because those were Isak’s shoes.
Even blinked and smiled at the waiting, patient pretty green eyes at the doorway and Isak took his hand.
“Hey sweetheart. And hey, Chris!”
“Hey Isak, what’s up?”
“You know me, ready for the weekend,” he parroted, so Schoolish and fine and Even had kinda forgotten how much work this whole society thing was.
“I feel you,” Chris laughed, clapping a hand carefully on Even’s shoulder. “Uh, I’ve gotta get to work but. Hit me up if you guys go out this weekend okay, I’d love to join.”
“Thanks Chris,” Even smiled, tried not to make it too worn and Chris shot him a little salute, taking off down the hallway with a great to have you back, man thrown dramatically over his shoulder.
Isak took him for his next class, kinda tugging him along through hallways that all looked the same, coming to a stop outside another wooden door. Even turned to him and lifted his eyebrows as Isak reached up on his tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek again.
“Do you want me to walk you to your next one, too?”
“Isn’t yours on the other side of the school? I don’t want you to have to come all the way over here.”
“It’s no problem,” Isak insisted and the whole point of coming to school was to stop being a burden for a little while so Even tried for as genuine of a smile as he could and squeezed Isak’s hand with it.
“I’ll be okay babe, thank you.”
Isak gave him a cute little wave as he stepped into the classroom and headed for his seat and Even returned it, smiling to himself as the curls disappeared again.
It was sweet, Isak was so sweet and school was more than he remembered but Even sat there and tried to take notes and make any of this matter anyways.
When he stepped back out of the classroom after the longest hour ever, Isak wasn’t there, like he’d asked.
But he took three steps into the hallway and there was Magnus, who was almost convincingly just happening to be walking down this hallway right now.
“Even!!!” Magnus said, too surprised to be real and Even laughed a little as jacket-bulky arms wrapped around him and crushed him into a bright hug. Even smiled over Magnus’s shoulder and hugged him back, mouth still tipped up when Magnus leaned back and held him at arm's’ length.
“Hey, how have you been my friend?”
“Not too bad, takk.” Even gave him a real smile and Magnus returned it twice as wide, popping his gum once.
“Yeah, man.” A solid clap to his shoulder and Magnus was looking off down the hall, eyebrows knit. “Where you off to?”
“I’ve got one more class before lunch.”
“Does it happen to be this direction,” Magnus pointed and Even looked at him a little amused.
“Awesome, cause that’s where I’m headed, too.” Shoulder bumping his as they started walking and Even let them go at least around one corner before he asked.
“How many of you did Isak text?” He glanced over and Magnus didn’t miss a beat, looking back and filling him in as honest as if it’d been any other question on the planet.
“Just us boys, but if nobody was in the area he was gonna text the girls too, I think.”
Even smiled a little to himself. If there was anything the kid was, it was smart. Isak and his loopholes.
Magnus was studying his profile.
“Let him take care of you, if only for him now, okay?”
“Yeah,” Even said.
“Really.” Magnus’s voice fell quiet, real, that sudden drop into he knew what the fuck he was talking about and Even’s smile faltered. “Cause as much as it sucks watching you go through what you’re going through...it sucks more that he can’t do anything about it. The helplessness is the worst part.”
Even was nodding and trying not to cry and his emotions were apparently through the fucking roof, he had no idea he was so fucking fragile today but Magnus just said that, was being gentle and simple and maybe it wasn’t the best idea to come today.
“I think he feels like he hasn’t done enough, let him do this.”
“He’s done so much,” Even told him kinda tearily and Magnus nodded.
“I figured. He’s like. Hella in love with you.”
It brought a smile to his face and Magnus bumped his shoulder again, tipping up brightly.
“Can’t blame the guy.”
Even laughed that time and Magnus was smiling and they walked all the way to Even’s next class together.
He hugged Magnus goodbye at the door, and there was a smile on his face as he sat down again.
It lasted even shorter this time.
It was just really boring and it was so hard to focus on everything and he wasn’t really in the mood to go sit in the loud cafeteria and eat but he was here and he was trying because he should be, he felt good this morning and he didn’t wanna keep fucking missing class and letting himself be pampered at Isak’s apartment.
It was so frustrating because it wasn’t even lunch and he was exhausted, he didn’t wanna be here, he should be, here was where he was supposed to be but he wanted to be home and not deal with the questions and the looks and the silence and the loud and.
The teacher didn't say a word when he grabbed his things and stepped out of the back of the classroom.
Even kept his head down the entire length of the empty hallway.
He'd dramatically spun them around and kissed Isak on the mouth last time he'd been in this hallway. In front of a homophobic teacher apparently.
How much was that affecting his grades right now?
Even shoved into the first swinging door that said boys and went straight for the sink, slamming on the water.
Isak cared so much about his grades. He was so smart, and he was dating a boy who couldn't even make it through a day of school.
Even dipped over the sink and splashed two handfuls of freezing water over his face.
It made him gasp and covered any of the tears in his eyes but he wasn't managing the numb like he should be able to and he didn't know why he couldn't get a fucking grip this time and.
The bathroom door opened.
Even lifted up, shutting off the water and reaching for the paper towel dispenser, face dripping.
The door swung open again and Even stayed angled for the dispenser, refusing to look up at either of the whoever just came in.
He snagged a tissue and unfolded it, splaying the whole thing over his face with open palms to get all the water at once and hide for a moment then he was reaching out to grab another and a quiet hand landed on his right before it could close around a towel.
Even’s eyes shot open and he crinkled the paper down away from his face and there was Jonas, hand on Even’s, silver eyes quiet.
“Hi,” Even managed and the door to a stall banged.
Some random guy came out and started washing his hands and Even dropped the paper towel in the trash can, taking a step backwards to clear space for the random guy.
Jonas followed his step, moving out of the way too or maybe caging Even into the bathroom more.
“You wanna tell me why you're in school?” Jonas said quietly and Even looked sharply between the guy and Jonas.
The water shut off and rando slid his hands over his jeans then he was headed back out the door and Even didn't have anything else to look at so he had to look back down at Jonas.
“I'm feeling better,” he started and Jonas shook his head once, curls bouncing.
“You're not, so try again.”
“I'm supposed to be here--”
“I...I don't have to explain myself to you,” Even finally tried and Jonas shook his head again.
“Dude, fate brought us together in the boys bathroom, you can't not like tell me what's going on now.”
It was so simple and chill and Even sucked in a heavy breath, eyes slipping closed as his head dropped. Fuck.
“I'm supposed to be getting better,” Even told the tiles quietly and the sink was leaking in the background.
“No one’s got a timeline written up,” Jonas reminded him quietly.
“I was better by Friday last time.” Even lifted his eyes and Jonas held the gaze, eyebrows knit, eyes kinda wide up at him.
“Last time nobody had bruises. Last time was a whole different thing, okay?”
Even pursed his mouth in an exaggerated pout and Jonas shoved his shoulder lightly.
“You should go home, man.”
“I can handle lunch,” Even insisted. “I just need food and then I've only got a few classes after, I've made it this far.”
“You're hiding out in the bathroom.”
“Are you always this blunt?” Even complained and Jonas tipped up in a hint of a smile.
“With people I care about, ja. I am.”
Even sighed. Jonas lifted a shoulder.
“I don't wanna go home,” Even told him. “I'm fucking sick of that bedroom. Of everyone taking care of me. I want it to be over now I just wanna be me again.”
“Then you have to be patient and give yourself time, Even.” Jonas knit his eyebrows up high, looking at him with this wildly exaggerated duh face. “You're not stupid, don't pretend you don't know that. You know exactly what you're doing and you know you shouldn't've come today.”
“Isak was smiling,” Even confessed and Jonas’s eyebrows shot up.
“I just couldn't keep him sad for another day, surely you can understand that.”
“I think he'd be sadder that you were freaking out in the boys bathroom than if you were safe in his bed another day.”
“I was not freaking out.”
“Okay man, whatever you tell yourself.”
“I wasn't! And Isak can't know about this anyways.” Even crossed his arms over his chest, glaring down a little at Jonas.
Jonas threw up a hand. “I wasn't gonna tell him. But you should go home.”
“I'm not giving up,” Even told him, pushing past Jonas’s shoulder and scooping up his backpack. “I'm gonna go sit through the rest of class and learn something then I'm gonna have a great time at lunch and the rest of this day and you're going to keep your mouth shut all of lunch and not mention or hint at any of our clandestine meetings once.”
“Okay,” Jonas said dubiously behind him and Even threw his backpack on, spinning around at the bathroom door.
“I mean it.”
“Okay,” Jonas repeated even more unconvinced and Even shoved out the door, shouting over his shoulder.
Okay, Jonas was right, class was stupid and he wasn't learning shit and he didn't want to be here and he was being stupid and he'd known better than this but he was here anyways and now he was stuck with his head propped in a hand while he stared down uselessly at his desk until the bell rang.
Apparently that's how things were gonna be.
But the bell did finally ring and he couldn't skirt out of there fast enough.
He was gonna glare at Jonas all of lunch. For being right. Fuck him.
Trying to be a good friend and shit. Who did he think he was.
Definitely gonna glare the whole time.
Except Even only actually made it two steps into the cantina before there was an arm snaking around his waist and Isak’s warm pretty smile lead him all the way outside.
They stepped into the courtyard and Isak put two hands on his chest and reached up on his tiptoes to press a soft kiss to his mouth. Even’s lips tugged as he fell back to his feet, his heart under Isak’s hands while he smiled up at him beautiful in the outside sun.
“Are we going somewhere for lunch?” Even asked and Isak’s mouth tipped up again.
“You're going home,” he said, then he was reaching up and pressing a glowy warm kiss to Even’s cheek.
Even leaned back. “What? Why?”
“You promised you would if it got to be too much.” Isak’s eyebrows furrowed, looking up at him, hands still on his chest. “So of course you were planning on telling me soon, right?”
There was this expectant pretty look on Isak’s face, the waiting, completely sure look like Even really was about to tell him any moment.
He did promise. Even sighed heavily and looked down at his shoes. Isak’s feet were between his, crease at the laces from where he kept going up on his tiptoes.
To kiss. To hold him. To smile against his neck.
He’d be sadder that you were freaking out in the boys bathroom than if you were home safe in his bed for one more day.
Fuck Jonas Vasquez for always being right, that’s what.
The hand on his chest drummed fingers lightly over his hoodie.
“Linn’s already making you a sandwich,” Isak said, tapping the same way he’d pointed a finger and said none for you, it’s not good for you.
Even looked back up with a little smile, met the green eyes and the pursed mouth and the eyebrow crooked up high. Isak made plans for him to go home before they talked, but they needed to talk. About a lot of things, yes, he was being stupid but Isak couldn’t--
“I really am glad you're taking care of me, baby but.” Even rolled his lips in over his tongue, looking out over Isak’s shoulder for a moment before he popped them back out and looked down, eyebrows lifting a bit, trying to figure out how to say this without breaking things. “I know how I feel, remember?”
“I know,” Isak insisted. Hands on his chest rubbing up to his collarbones, fingers curving over and sweeping up to his neck. Looking at him for a moment, just studying him with those sparkly green eyes under the casual backwards snapback and the mess of curls over his ears.
“I told her to only make one and eat it herself if you didn't show up in 20.” Isak smiled a little, dimple flashing on one side as he lifted a shoulder and looked up at Even in the sunlight. “It's still up to you.”
The smile grew a little wider and Even nodded to himself. Expectations and soft smiles and there wasn’t a timeline, people weren’t expecting anything, no one was forcing or pushing or controlling and he didn’t know what to do about that.
He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting. It wasn’t that, but it should’ve been that.
Constantly surprising, surprisingly constant, beautiful sweet Isak. His beautiful sweet Isak.
Even dipped down, the hands on his neck cupping warm and he kissed Isak, kissed his beautiful sunshine caring boyfriend who’d refused to leave his side for the past two weeks and it was still too much too soon to pour everything he felt into Isak’s mouth with his own but he kissed him real and sincere enough Isak was beaming when their mouths broke apart, foreheads tipped together over twin smiles and Even’s thumb rubbing Isak’s soft sweet cheek.
Everything was perfect now.
He didn’t have a single reason to stay chained to the bottom of the swimming pool.
“Text her to make two.”