It was Friday night and yet again Isak felt too lazy to film, let alone upload a video. He had spent the day alternating between the fridge, the bed, and the desk where he had set up his enormous gaming equipment, and as a result he didn't feel tired even when it had been hours since Eskild had called a good night from the living room. Instead of taking his roommate's advice and getting some “much needed beauty sleep”, Isak stocked up on chips and cold pizza and started loading his new favourite game. He already knew it would keep him up all night again, but filming himself whilst playing? Way too much work.
As euphoric as his viewers were about rare new updates on his channel, they also hated Isak passionately for his notorious lack of ambition. He had ended his last three videos with a halfhearted promise to update more frequently, but the only thing he had shared in two weeks was a marginally requested virtual tour through his gaming station and the hardware he used.
As Isak sank into his desk chair, by far the most expensive and most used piece of furniture he owned, his eyes caught on the list he had taped onto the far side of his screen, consisting of his viewer's suggestions for new games he should try. It was growing longer day by day, and Isak wouldn't even be able to only go through the ones that he actually liked without seriously getting his shit together.
Setting up his webcam would require putting on a shirt though, which was why Isak didn't even consider filming tonight. He would do it tomorrow right after he had gotten out of bed, which would probably be some time in the afternoon.
While the game was loading on one screen, Isak logged into the chatroom he used to talk to his online friends on another screen. After staring at the connection sign for a few seconds, he grew impatient and opened his youtube channel in another window, checking for new notifications out of habit. When he had first uploaded his initial attempt at a video, he had been reading through every comment he got, taking in everything people had to say to him. But now that it had been a bit over a year and he had reached 100.000 subscribers a few weeks ago, he couldn't possibly keep up with everything that was going on.
He didn't know how Eskild did it. Eskild was easily one of the most popular youtubers in the country, and when it came to the lgbt community, there wasn't even a competition there. Still, he managed to keep everyone updated, chatting with followers nonstop on his countless social media accounts, always nagging Isak to come pose for a picture or pop in as a surprise guest when he next did a live stream. The fact that Isak's channel was gaining popularity continuously was mostly Eskild's doing, as he mentioned him every now and then, complaining publicly about his dirty, nocturnal roommate, just to post a selfie with an annoyed Isak minutes later, filling the caption with rainbow colored hearts.
Isak's channel had also initially been Eskild's idea. He had claimed that Isak might as well put his countless hours spent online to good use, and after a drunk promise, Isak had been introduced to the world of social media. He still didn't understand half of the things people told him in the comment section, but with Eskild as a roommate and his youtuber friends who had also become Isak's friends over time, he was slowly catching on.
His privileged position would have been a great starting point for a successful career, as Eskild usually put it when Isak was sipping coffee in the morning, still half asleep, listening to Eskild's daily monologue about wasted potential. What he lacked was the motivation to actually keep up the little work he had put into his channel so far. He enjoyed what he was doing but he wasn't as dedicated to the whole thing as Eskild was. His roommate was using his popularity as a platform to make important changes in society while Isak hadn't left the house in about four days and had only changed out of his pajamas once, when Eskild's friend Noora had come over for his weekly live stream.
Once the chatroom had finally loaded, Isak immediately typed a greeting to his best friend Jonas who he saw was already online. It only took a second for Jonas to answer with the peace sign emoji and Isak got comfortable in his chair while he waited for his other online friends to enter the chatroom. He reached for a slice of cold pizza from yesterday and went back to check his channel's notifications. His endless scrolling abruptly came to a halt when one of them caught his eye.
Even Bech Naesheim had followed him yesterday afternoon. A tiny gray check mark followed his name, spelled with several numbers instead of letters, indicating the verification of his account. Isak knew Even's name but had never seen a single video of his, as he usually didn't follow other youtubers apart from the ones he knew in person. He had heard Eskild talk about him more than once though. Eskild talked about a lot of people, most of which he never mentioned twice, but Even's name had come up in their one sided conversations multiple times now. Apparently, he had only signed up to youtube a good half of a year ago, but his channel was already well known enough for even Eskild to obsess about it.
Suddenly interested, Isak clicked the profile picture accompanying the notification, which was so heavily edited that he couldn't even make out Even's face anymore. It was a wild blur of color and reminded Isak of the kind of pictures in which different colors represented different temperatures. His eyes shot wide open when he saw the number next to Even's distorted face. In less than a year, Even had already hit a million subscribers and uploaded over two hundred videos. No wonder he had caught Eskild's attention.
Eyebrows furrowed, Isak began typing into the chat window connecting him with Jonas.
“even bech naesheim just followed me. wtf?”
The interaction made him aware of the increasing number of participants in the chat, as he immediately received three question marks from three different people, and a gif from Jonas, indicating his confusion. Isak had no explanation though. He was asking himself the same question he knew his friends were asking. Why?
Just to be able to put a face with the name, Isak clicked the first video on Even's channel which was also his most recent one. It was dated two days ago and already had a massive amount of views. The title said something about Even celebrating his one million subscribers mark and the thumbnail showed a blurry male nipple. After a second of buffering and Isak cursing silently at the screen, the video showed Even, wrapped in a white bathrobe standing next to an inside swimming pool.
He was gorgeous. Isak's stomach dropped at the first sight of him and he instinctively looked around his room as if to make sure he was alone, regardless of his reaction having been completely internal. On screen, Even's eyes were actually sparkling, almost closed by how bright he was smiling. He was holding a finger to his lips playfully and then started whispering into the hand held camera while moving his fingers through his blond hair.
“Hey guys! As you all voted for this, I promised that once I hit a million subscribers I would break into my neighbors basement to go for a midnight swim. Watch me.” He actually winked at the camera as he set it down somewhere further away from the water, making Isak cringe in secondhand embarrassment. At the same time though, he couldn't look away. Even was radiating self confidence and joy, and besides he was taking his robe off. Underneath he wore nothing but black swimming trunks that went down to just above his knees, and Isak was sure he lingered near the camera for a few seconds on purpose, pretending to make sure the pool was in focus when really all he did was show off his flat stomach and slightly toned abs.
Then he turned around and ran towards the almost too blue water, jumping in without hesitation. He resurfaced almost immediately, shaking water out of his eyes and hair sticking to his forehead. His fingers went through it again so that it stuck out from his head while Even climbed out of the pool.
Isak caught himself checking out his bare chest again and blushed, not caring about the fact that he was alone in his room and no one would ever know. He was convinced though that none of his friends would deny his observation that Even was good looking, even if he wouldn't ever share it.
“Well wasn't that exciting?!” Even whispered, taking the camera in his hands again. “Now all we gotta do is climb out the window with a camera in hand.” The images that followed were blurred, alternating between Even's glowing face and the window, and Isak could hear him laugh to himself in the background. It took him a few tries to actually make it out the window and he only closed his bathrobe once he was out in the yard, giving his viewers a last good look on his almost naked body to which his trunks now clung in a seductive way.
Isak knew at once why this idea hat been voted for by his viewers, as the video in itself wasn't very interesting. It stopped a few seconds after Even had made it over the yard and back to his bike, and a look through the recommended video section told Isak that none of his other videos seemed to make any more sense.
Most of them were Even doing ridiculous things, not even remotely interesting, and for no apparent reason. There were a few challenges with other youtubers Isak didn't recognize and some interviews and reviews of ridiculously useless products, but apart from that it all centered around Even following through with dares and promises he had apparently made.
The fact that Even now followed him, would have made at least a little bit of sense if Even were a gamer, but their content didn't overlap in the slightest which was why Isak suspected Eskild to be involved. A quick search through youtube told him that Eskild and Even already followed each other.
While he watched his online friends begin the game on his right screen, he typed a quick “brb” and opened facebook in yet another tab. He knew Eskild would be asleep which was why going over to his room wouldn't make much sense, but he still wanted to ask tonight before he forgot. When he had scrolled down far enough to find Eskild among his messages, he saw that their last online interaction had been a week ago and Isak had never clicked the message he had received.
As he read through it now, he wished he had done so sooner, just so he could have stopped Eskild from doing what he suggested to do. Eskild was planning a collaboration between himself, Isak, and Even and wanted to film this upcoming Sunday. He ended his message saying that if Isak didn't say no, he would take it as a yes and invite Even over. It now made sense that Eskild had chosen facebook messenger, as he knew that Isak hardly ever used it.
Frowning, Isak searched for Even among Eskild's facebook friends and only needed a second to find him. He wanted to find out where Even was from, to know whether the collaboration would take planning on his part or whether he lived close enough to simply come over for an afternoon. Knowing Eskild, he had probably already offered Even the couch for the weekend either way.
It turned out that Even lived about an hour outside from Oslo, which made Isak almost certain that he would stay over at least one night.
Isak had never done a collaboration except for the few times Eskild had forced himself into one of his videos, sitting down and grabbing a controller mid filming without asking. He didn't feel comfortable with the idea, but he knew he wouldn't be able to stop Eskild if he had his mind set on it. Annoyed with his egocentric roommate, he turned back to his game, pretending the news didn't occupy his mind.
Isak spent about two hours chatting and playing with his friends, but wasn't able to shake off the thoughts of the upcoming filming session. He was wondering what kind of videos Eskild had planned and was growing more anxious by the second, considering what a hard time he had talking Eskild out of the things he usually had planned for Isak.
So far, Isak had been able to reject the dress up challenge, only just avoided body painting with rainbow colors, and gotten out of playing twenty one questions on screen. The only two times he had been in Eskild's videos on his own volition had been a video about pride in which Eskild had used him as a prime example of why people needed to be educated more about it, and a video with puppies which Eskild had taken in for a weekend. It was still Isak's favorite memory of their time as roommates, spending 48 hours on the floor with Eskild, rolling around and getting their faces licked.
Isak's mind was still running wild when he heard footsteps in the hallway at around two am. He paused his game immediately, stretched his stiff limbs quickly and went down the hall to wait for Eskild in front of the bathroom. It only took a minute until he emerged, wearing rainbow coloured boxers.
“Jesus, Isak! You gave me a heart attack, seriously!”, Eskild yelled and clutched his bare chest in a rare attempt at decency once he spotted Isak in the shadows and Isak mumbled an apology.
“I read your message. About Sunday.”
Eskild ran a hand through his short hair and rubbed some sleep out of his eyes. “Seriously, Isak? It's 2 am? Do you ever sleep?”
“Is there any way I can get out of it?” Isak asked, sounding almost desperate, as Eskild had already begun walking towards his own room again, scratching his butt as he went past.
“No. Good night, Isak. I'll wake you up at eight tomorrow to go to the market, we're out of avocado and we're gonna do a face mask before Even comes over. Have you seen the guy, by the way?”
Isak grumbled an affirmation and followed Eskild to his room. “Why do you need me there?”
“Let me ask you this: Why would you not want to be in a collab with two of the most successful youtubers in the country?” Apparently Eskild was waking up now, as he had enough energy to throw his hands up in the air and look at Isak exasperatedly. “Seriously, do you have any idea how lucky you are? I don't even know why you have all those followers of yours, you never do anything! Well, no, I do know why. You're cute, that's all. People love to watch you, they are crazy about you. With your little curls and dimples. Damn. Same with Even. Do you know how amazing that is? What a chance you have there? You're young, you're beautiful, and you're popular. Use that to your advantage, why won't you?”
Isak would have flushed had anyone else complimented him like that, but he was used to hearing these kind of things from Eskild. He had felt uncomfortable in the beginning but by now he knew Eskild called everyone young and beautiful, including himself.
“Seriously, why do you not want in on it? Is there a reason? Cause I'm counting on you. You're not letting me down, are you?” Eskild pouted, and Isak shrugged his shoulders in a slow response. He wasn't sure why exactly he wasn't keen on the idea. Too much work, mainly. Also the fact that Eskild was loud off camera but even louder when it was on. It was almost unbearable, and with guests over, Eskild would bounce off the walls all weekend. Also, Even seemed to be the kind of person to play right along with it, and they would drain Isak's energy in no time.
“It's alright”, he told Eskild nonetheless, because he guessed it would have to be. “What are we gonna do?”
Eskild smiled widely at him and moved in for a tight hug, rubbing his chest against Isak's in a way that almost made Isak push him off again. “It's a surprise, baby”, he mumbled into Isak's hair. Isak tilted his head to pull it out of Eskild's face, growing annoyed with the other boy's late night affection.
“Is Even gonna stay over the weekend?”
“He hasn't said yet. He sucks at texting back, almost like you. No, not really, you're worse.”
After Eskild had gone back to bed, Isak spent another two hours online until his eyes began to hurt and he finally told his friends he would go to bed. He never made it there though, but ended up falling asleep at his desk with Even's channel back up on screen and his videos running on autoplay.