Chapter 1: just a touch of your love
Wednesday, October 12th, 8:19
“You do know the coffee in the cafeteria's cheaper, right?” Jonas asked when Isak met him in front of the school building, eyeing the paper cup in Isak's hands. Isak didn't really have the money to spare, as Jonas well knew. He had considered emptying and then chucking the cup before he got to school, because sooner or later Jonas was bound to notice he'd started buying daily coffees, but the walk from the coffeeshop to school just wasn't long enough for that. It'd just make Isak feel silly. It wasn't like he was doing anything illegal, or all that suspicious. It was just coffee, for crying out loud!
Isak shrugged as nonchalantly as he could.
“It's on the way,” he said. When one of Jonas' eyebrows crept steadily upwards toward the hair curling out from under his beanie, Isak added, “It keeps my hands warm.”
“Uh-huh,” Jonas said, like he wasn't the least bit convinced.
Isak swallowed any other attempt at defending himself. It'd only raise suspicion, he knew. Jonas could sniff out whatever Isak was trying to hide like a bloodhound on a mission. Well, usually. There were maybe one or two things Isak had successfully kept to himself. That ill-advised, possessive, half-jealous crush he'd had on him a year ago for one. The fact that he had crushes on boys at all for another.
He bumped his shoulder against Jonas' instead of heaving the sigh he wanted to, and jutted his head in the direction of the school building.
“We probably shouldn't be late again,” he pointed out.
Jonas groaned. “How are we already on eight percent?”
“I blame Magnus and Mahdi,” Isak grinned. “And I don't hear them protesting.”
Jonas laughed and nodded, falling into step beside Isak. “You're a little shit, you know.”
Isak shrugged, unrepentant. “You decided to be my best friend.”
“A decision I regret every day,” Jonas said, clapping Isak on the back to take the sting out of his words.
“Sure, asshole,” Isak drawled.
In the classroom, Mahdi and Magnus were sat leaning over either one of their phones, laughing at something, but they looked up at the “hey!” Jonas called out to them. Isak reached out a hand to return the greeting they each offered in turn, slapping his palm against theirs in a lazy imitation of a handshake.
“Did you get the essay finished?” Jonas asked, setting his bag down and starting the process of peeling all outer layers off.
Isak slipped out of his jacket and sprawled in his chair next to him, pulling the hood of his sweatshirt down from over his own beanie before rifling through his bag in search of said essay.
“Yeah,” he said. “It was fucking hard though.”
It was a little crinkled when he pulled it out of his bag, but mostly fine.
“Wait, that was due today?” Magnus asked, slightly panicked.
“Yes, you idiot. Why do you think I texted you about it yesterday?” Mahdi asked, looking about one second away from slapping either Magnus or himself in his frustration.
“Oh, shit,” Magnus groaned. “I already forgot the last one, this is definitely not going to go over well.”
“You're an idiot,” Jonas said and sat down in his own chair, running a hand through his hair as though to straighten it out after pulling his beanie off. It didn't ever look any different to Isak's eyes, but what did he know. His own was usually an irreparable mess anyway as soon as he put any kind of headgear on, so he just left it covered. It was warmer that way as well.
Wrapping one hand back around the paper cup he took a small sip, glad the coffee was still warm.
It really did keep his hands nice and toasty on the walk from the tram station to school, and it really did taste a lot better than the one from the cafeteria, but it was also, sadly, as Jonas had pointed out, more expensive. Isak supposed he could always just switch to tea, because there was one other distinct advantage the Kaffebrenneriet on the corner by the tram station had over the school cafeteria – the heart-stoppingly cute barista.
He was a good bit taller than Isak, though at least five centimetres of that were hair, and Isak might still grow a bit. He was presumably older than Isak, if he was stood behind a bar serving coffee while Isak went to school, but he didn't seem that old. His smile had literally made Isak forget everything else for a good few seconds the first time he'd walked into the coffee shop – on a whim one freezing morning. He'd seen Barista Boy with what looked like felt tip pen stains on his fingers, so maybe he liked to draw. He was always friendly, and remembered Isak's order only a few days after he first came in.
And that… that was pretty much all Isak knew about him, aside from how he made Isak's cheeks heat, and his mouth dry, and his heart stutter, and an entire butterfly colony erupt in his stomach every time he smiled or did that stupid eyebrow raise of his that accompanied almost every “good morning” he'd ever given Isak, like there was something to those words other than just customer service.
So, expensive though it was, it was definitely worth having one less beer or kebab every now and then if it meant Isak got to see that smile every morning. Sure, there's been maybe a handful of boys Isak had enjoyed looking at and listening to, and he'd kissed his fair share of girls, and that had been nice, all of that. (Though even just looking at those boys had generally been a little bit nicer than kissing any of the girls, which… was something Isak should probably address, at some point.)
Nothing though had ever exploded in his chest the way that barista's smile had. Nothing had ever filled him up with gasoline and set him on fire like that. Nothing had ever made him feel like he would vibrate out of his skin if he got lucky enough to have one smile, one word, one touch from someone.
So, there was that.
The bell rang, their teacher walked in, and Isak set the cup down.
Thursday, October 13th, 8:18
Isak tried his best to fight down the blush when Barista Boy smiled at him as he handed over his cup of coffee and said, “I'm Even, by the way.”
“Even,” Isak repeated, dumbstruck.
Even smiled brightly. “Yeah, I thought it was time to introduce myself, since we see each other every morning.”
Isak didn't note that he hadn't ever heard him address any other customer by name, though he knew some of them were regulars as well.
“I'm Isak,” Isak managed to say, and finally remembered to grab his coffee.
“Nice to meet you, Isak,” Even said, smiling just a tad more brightly.
Isak felt rooted to the spot by that smile, and he'd gladly stayed there to stare at it some more, if he hadn't caught sight of the clock behind the counter that showed him he'd better get his ass to school.
“Well,” he said, with a shaky smile of his own, taking half a step backwards.
“Have a good day, Isak,” Even said.
Isak smiled back and found himself nodding. “You too, Even,” he said, the name feeling foreign and sweet on his tongue.
The door to the coffee shop fell shut behind him with a final clatter, and the cold bit at his heated cheeks immediately, but Isak hardly noticed as he made his way towards school.
His name was Even. Even. Even.
Friday, October 14 th , 8:27
“You're coming out with us tonight, right?” Jonas asked. “Eva's mother is out of town, so she's having a party.”
“Oh, right,” Isak said, “Yeah. Yeah, sure.”
“What's up? Not in the mood?”
“Eh. Just… nah, I guess not really.”
“Mahdi's bringing some stuff, he said.”
“Stuff?” Isak asked, lips curled in amusement even as he frowned.
Jonas rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you know.”
He widened his eyes at Isak significantly and then waited for the penny to drop. Oh, right. Mahdi had been so excited to tell them that he'd found his own dealer, and didn't need to keep begging Jonas to hit up Ingrid's brother for some greens.
“Oh, alright. That'll be pretty chill,” Isak said.
“Yeah, and who knows? Maybe you're gonna find a girl again. I haven't seen you with anyone in ages; it's weird.”
“Weird?” Isak asked, and resisted the temptation of clearing his throat when his voice came out a little squeaky, as the back of his neck ran hot immediately.
“Yeah, cause you're usually always the one pulling.”
Isak had probably never been happier to hear the bell that signified the beginning of their morning maths class. Instead of making himself answer, he turned forward and opened his notebook just as their teacher walked in, his tie as always streaked in dry erase marker where it lay over his pot belly. While he got out his materials, Isak reached out to twist the cup of coffee on his desk, thinking of the curve of Even's lips when he smiled. It had been a while since Isak had hooked up with a girl at a party. If he wanted to, he could probably count down the days.
Sunday, October 16th, 14:43
Isak rolled over from where he'd been staring at his ceiling, his gaze landing on the mug of by-now cold coffee from earlier this morning. His mother had given him the mug for his last birthday. Some days Isak wished he were less attached to it. Other days he wished he could pick up the phone to text his mother, and hope to receive something other than a Bible verse.
He really wasn't much of a coffee person, actually. It was fine, sure, but Isak neither wanted nor needed to drink it every day, as evidenced by the mug he had let go cold, that he knew to be half full at least.
Tea. On Monday, he'd switch to tea.
Monday, October 17th, 8:09
“Good morning, Isak,” Even smiled when Isak stepped up to the counter.
Isak tried to bite his answering smile down to something that wouldn't give the butterflies in his stomach away immediately.
“Good morning. I'll have an Earl Grey, please,” he said.
Even's face fell for a moment before he rearranged his features into something cheery again.
“I guess I won't be needing this then,” Even joked, pulling out a cup of what Isak assumed was his usual coffee order, complete with Isak's name on the side of the cup, as though he'd made sure not to accidentally hand it to anyone else.
“No!” Isak said, when Even turned to pour it out.
Even froze, arching one eyebrow in question.
“I'll, um. I'll have it,” he said, mind full to the brim with the thought that Even had made Isak's coffee in anticipation of Isak showing up. He'd been thinking of Isak. Of Isak.
“You don't have to do that,” Even said with a little laugh. “You wanted tea.”
“I'll have the tea tomorrow,” Isak said, balling his hands to fists beneath the counter so he wouldn't reach out to grab the cup.
“Well, if you're sure,” Even said with a shrug, and slid the cup over the counter towards Isak.
Isak pulled it a little closer still, just in case Even changed his mind, and then went to dig his wallet out of his backpack.
“No, it's on me,” Even said.
Isak looked up from his backpack, frozen in his movement.
“For being so presumptuous.”
“No,” Isak said, letting his backpack swing back around onto his back. “It was really nice of you. Thank you.”
Even blinked at him, features a little slacker than his usual smile, and Isak found himself stuck in his gaze. He wasn't sure how long their eye contact lasted, but he could feel his cheeks heat slightly as it went on, and his heart thunder a harsh beat as soon as Even smiled and briefly looked to the side, running a hand through his hair before he looked back at Isak.
“Well. You're welcome,” he said.
Isak managed to dig a smile up from somewhere and grabbed the coffee.
“See you tomorrow, Even.”
“Yeah. See you tomorrow.”
Tuesday, October 18th, 8:12
“Earl Grey,” Even said as Isak walked up to the counter and set down a cup. The tag of the teabag was hanging out between the cup and the plastic lid.
“What if I wanted, um, rooibos today?” he asked, teasing a little and in slight disbelief that he dared tease.
“Must you insist on making my life difficult?”
“Earl Grey is fine,” Isak said, pulling out his debit card.
“Thank you for you patronage. Do come back,” Even simpered.
Isak couldn't help his laugh, even when it came out sort of half-breathless. God damnit, Isak was good at this with girls; at saying the right things and laughing the right laugh in the right moment. With Even he felt like an awkward baby deer, stumbling his way through every interaction.
“Well, the service leaves a bit to be desired,” he teased.
Even took a step back in exaggerated mock offence.
“So you're saying I'm not all that you desire?” he asked, voice heavy with sarcasm.
Isak's heart threatened to beat out of his chest, and his nervous laugh sounded even weaker to his own ears than the last.
Even held his gaze for another beat or two, just a touch too long for it to be easily dismissed, and grinned.
“You'd better get to school,” he said.
Isak's eyes flitted over to the clock, and he could almost feel himself pull back together from where that one joking – joking, he knew that – comment had pulled him apart completely.
“Right. Have a good day, Even,” he said.
“See you tomorrow!”
Wednesday, October 19th, 8:25
“So… are they out of coffee?” Jonas asked, eyebrows and lips quirked in amusement.
“What?” Isak asked, letting go of the paper cup where he'd been twisting it around. It had become somewhat of a habit.
“You're having tea for the second time today. Since you're going in because their coffee is better than the cafeteria's…”
Isak swallowed and plastered on a mocking grin. “And to keep my hands warm.”
Jonas rolled his eyes at him.
“So, if it's not the coffee…” he said, trailing off, clearly waiting for Isak to fill in the gap.
Mahdi and Magnus were talking rather loudly about the maths homework Mahdi forgot to pack and was trying to copy off Magnus, but Isak glanced back at them over his shoulder anyway.
“The barista's really cute,” he said to Jonas, quietly.
Jonas' face broke into a grin, but at the imploring look on Isak's face, he reigned it in and only nudged Isak's knee with his own.
“What, you like her?” he asked.
Isak hesitated for a moment, cheeks hot, tips of his fingers icy cold. It'd be so easy. So easy to just say a few words, he could get away with one word even, correct the assumption, tell Jonas, but. But.
Isak shrugged and nodded.
“What, and you don't want Mahdi and Magnus to know?” Jonas asked, the look on his face almost insulted on their behalf.
“Not yet. I just. I don't want you all to march in there with me and. I just.”
Isak shrugged again, hoping Jonas would just accept it for what it was.
Jonas looked at him like he wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation.
“You really like her?” he asked.
“Does she like you back?”
Once again, Isak found himself saved from further conversation by the bell. Jonas tried to pass him a note, but Isak ignored it and stuffed it into his pencil case unread, and eventually Jonas gave up, though not before shooting Isak another disbelieving look.
Thursday, October 20th, 12:35
Isak knew it was silly.
Upon waking up this morning, he'd realised he'd forgotten to do a biology assignment, so he'd wolfed down a bowl of cornflakes, and then sat down with his laptop to finish the assignment. It had made him miss his usual tram, and had left absolutely no time at all to stop by Kaffebrenneriet.
It was, honestly but ridiculously, bumming him out. He was sulking over it. There was really no better term to describe his dejected attitude that morning. So when Magnus and Jonas left for lunch, and Mahdi left for French, Isak announced he was going to go for a walk, clear his head.
“Oh, come on, dude. The waffles'll cheer you up,” Magnus protested.
Isak wavered on the spot, unsure of what excuse to give, but then Jonas said, “Go on, let him. Maybe the fresh air'll sort him out.”
“Alright, but you better come back. I'm pretty sure Vilde and them are planning something for the weekend, and I need you to see if you can get anything out of Sana in bio,” Magnus said, pointing a stern finger at Isak.
“You won't even notice I'm gone,” he promised.
Less than ten minutes later he walked into the coffeeshop, the sound of the door making Even look up from where he was hunched over scribbling something. Even smiled brightly when he recognised Isak.
“I missed you this morning!” Even said with a charming lopsided smile when Isak was stood in front of the counter.
Isak felt himself flush as he smiled back.
“I missed your tea,” he said back.
Even sighed and dramatically pressed a hand over his heart, staggering a little as if he'd been hurt, before he grabbed a cup of Isak's usual size.
“Earl Grey?” he asked.
Isak grinned and nodded. “Yes, please.”
Even turned away to grab a bag of tea from the back and fill Isak's cup with hot water, and Isak's gaze fell down onto the sheet of paper Even seemed to have been doodling on. It was mostly covered in nonsensical symbols and swirls, but in the middle sat a cartoon drawing of an old lady, a cup of what a caption proclaimed to be “enough caffeine to fuel three fully grown men; robot?” in her hand. Without thinking about it, Isak reached out and swiped it from the counter, stuffing it into the pocket of his jacket before Even turned back.
“Here you go,” Even smiled, setting down Isak's cup of tea.
“Thanks,” Isak croaked, then cleared his throat with a grin when Even laughed at him, and quickly dug out his wallet.
“See you tomorrow,” Even said when Isak grabbed his cup and took a step back.
Isak looked up, surprised, and met Even's gaze, staring perhaps a bit too openly and for a bit too long.
“See you tomorrow,” he replied.
He was almost sure that was a small, genuinely pleased smile on Even's face.
Friday, October 21st, 8:01
“You're early today,” Even said when Isak stepped into Kaffebrenneriet the next morning. Isak shrugged as though he hadn't made doubly sure all his homework was done, and his alarm set an extra ten minutes early last night, all the while feeling supremely silly for it.
“Good morning to you too, Even,” he said, instead of trying to explain himself. The best way to hide something, he had found, was to never address it at all. “One cup of Earl Grey to go, please.”
“ One of these days you won't love me and leave me,” Even proclaimed dramatically, as he reached for the cup.
When Isak leant against the counter, waiting for the tea and pulling out his wallet, he caught sight of another piece of paper that seemed to have been doodled on, tucked away under the register. There was another figure on it, but Isak couldn't make it out clearly, and it was too far away to stealthily grab.
“ You draw?” he asked instead when Even turned back.
Even's eyes widened a little bit and flicked to the sheet of paper for a brief second, before he smiled at Isak.
“ Badly,” he said with that easy grin of his.
“ I'm sure that's not true,” Isak said, taking his cup of tea from Even.
“ That’s very kind of you,” Even said, motioning for Isak to swipe his card . He hesitated for a moment, then grabbed the drawing.
“ Do you want to have it?” he asked, holding the drawing close to his chest , as though he wasn't quite sure if he really wanted to give it to Isak.
Isak carefully didn't curl his fingers around the paper cup too tightly, and nodded, putting what he hoped was a normal, appreciative smile on his face.
“ Yeah, sure, if you don't want to keep it?” he said.
Even smiled, and seem e d to have made a decision, handing Isak the drawing.
“ No, I don't need it,” he said.
Isak took the sheet of paper carefully and looked down at it with a slight twinge of guilt for having stolen that other one. This one wasn't covered in doodles, only one half-done, cartoon figure in the centre of it. It showed the back of a person, backpack over a jacket, a hood up and covering the head.
Heart thundering, Isak stared for a second, trying to convince himself it didn't look like him, or at least not just him, that Even saw hundreds of kids in backpacks and hoodies under jackets leave the coffeeshop every day, and just because he'd drawn something familiar didn't mean he'd drawn Isak.
“ This is really good,” he said, looking up at Even. It felt a bit like he'd looked at the drawing for too long, but Even's face wore the same smooth smile as always, giving away no hint of what he might have been thinking or feeling.
“ Thank you,” Even said. “I'm glad you like it.”
“ I do,” Isak said, cheeks and stomach hot under Even's gaze. “I'll put it up o n the wall by my bed, so I can look at it always.”
Even grinned brightly.
“ Just as it deserves,” he said.
Isak grinned back, a little helpless and still unsure of what he was supposed to make of the drawing. Had Even hesitated because he had drawn him? Or was Isak just so infatuated he read too much into everything?
“ I'll be very careful with it,” Isak promised, only teasing a little as he swung his backpack around to slide the drawing in between the pages of a textbook.
Even nodded gravely, eyes twinkling with amusement.
“ See that you are, it might be worth something some day,” he said.
“ I'll sell it when you're famous and tell everyone about how you used to be a lowly barista. I'll get rich.”
“ Glad to be of service,” Even said, and then looked up at the door as it swung open. The noise that followed the chattering group of girls inside tore Isak out of his Even-induced haze, and reminded him they were stood in a coffeeshop. Where Even worked. And where Isak needed to leave to get to school.
“ Have a nice weekend,” he said, stepping aside to let the girls step up to the counter.
“ You too,” Even said with a smile just for Isak, before turning to the girls to smile at them as well.
“ Hello, ladies, what can I get you?”
Monday, October 24th, 8: 08
“So am I going to meet your barista today?” Jonas grinned when they were only one stop from where they would have to get off, forcing a decision Isak had been trying to make since Jonas had asked to stay over the night before. They'd gotten caught up playing video games, and sleeping over was just easier than trekking home late at night.
“ I guess,” Isak said, heart hammering in his chest. Not taking Jonas would just raise too much suspicion about what Isak was trying to hide, and anyway, Isak sort of wanted Jonas to know. He wanted to be able to ask him about the drawing Even had given him, and how he volunteered his name .
“ Be cool,” Isak said, tongue feeling too big for his mouth as they got off the tram. Wanting it to happen didn't really make it any less terrifying. If anything, it made it more so. Isak really, really wanted this to go well. He didn't just want Jonas to be okay with Isak liking Even, he wanted Jonas to like Even. It was ridiculous, Isak knew that. They weren't even dating. They most probably never would be dating.
“ Cool, but not too cool. Wouldn't want to steal her from you,” Jonas grinned, elbowing Isak in the side.
Isak could already see the shop window, imagining the movement he could see behind it was Even, and kept his gaze stubbornly trained ahead of himself.
“ If he doesn't like me, it hardly matters why,” he said, voice a little thin.
If Jonas had caught the pronoun and was surprised by it, he didn't show it, just followed Isak inside when he pulled open the glass door.
Even was serving a lady in a pant suit her drink, but his eyes glanced over at Isak and he flicked his eyebrows up with a small grin when he saw him. The woman took a bit of a while to stuff her wallet back into her purse and juggle all of her belongings so she could grab her cup, but when she did, she smiled a tired smile at Jonas for holding the door open for her.
“Good morning, Isak,” Even said, leaning against his side of the counter.
“Morning,” Isak grinned.
“Earl Grey as always?” Even asked, and then, when Jonas stepped up behind Isak, added, “I'll be with you in a second.”
“Oh, er, no, I'm with him,” Jonas said, pointing at Isak.
Even almost seemed to falter for a moment as he reached for Isak's cup, and then smiled at Jonas.
“Oh, sorry! What can I get you then?”
“Nothing for me, thanks. I'm just tagging along,” Jonas said with a smile.
Even smiled back and then busied himself with the tea, turning his back on them. Some days he poured the water facing Isak, and when he didn't Isak had never thought anything of it, but today Isak couldn't help the rush of disappointed worry. Having Jonas here made everything feel more important, and he couldn't help wondering if he'd done something wrong.
“Not doodling today?” Isak asked when Even slid the cup of tea over the counter.
“The morning rush is generally a bit too busy for that, but hang on,” Even said, grabbing Isak's cup back and a pen he'd stashed underneath the till, and carefully drew something onto the cup while Isak paid. “Here you go.”
Isak beamed possibly a little too widely, incredibly over-aware of his expression with Jonas stood beside him, even if he was busy staring down at his phone, and turned the cup to look at the drawing.
“One can never have enough sunshine, right?” Even asked.
“Definitely,” Isak said, looking up from the quick doodle of a sun, a child-like circle and rays of varying lengths with the obligatory sunglasses perched on the sun's non-existent nose. It had a smiley-face-grin as well.
“Have a good day, Isak,” Even said with a smile, and then turned to the person stood in line behind Isak, dismissing him.
“Um, yeah, you too,” Isak said quickly, and shuffled aside. He hadn't even noticed anyone else come in, too caught up in the hammering of his heart over Even's smile, and Jonas seeing his reaction to Even's smile.
Outside, Jonas put his phone in his pocket and waggled his eyebrows at Isak.
“Well, he's handsome,” he said.
Isak broke out into a relieved laugh, and then shrugged a little.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said.
“You guess. Right,” Jonas mocked, jostling Isak a little with his shoulder.
“Fine, he's really fucking hot,” Isak said, feeling like his cheeks must've been as red as a traffic light by now.
“What's his name?” Jonas asked.
“Even,” Isak said, smiling when he did, the way he always seemed to where Even was concerned.
“Well, he's totally into you too, if you're still unsure,” Jonas said.
“You think?” Isak asked, thinking back to the easy dismissal earlier. Sure, he'd drawn that sun for Isak, but that was only after Isak had basically prompted him to. Sort of.
“Dude. Like. He was so thrown when I said I was there with you,” Jonas said.
Isak felt as if his entire brain stopped in its tracks.
“You think he thought…?”
“I bet you one thousand crowns that's what he's trying to work out right now,” Jonas said. “He's definitely interested.”
“...yeah?” Isak asked, staring at the sun on his cup. It was fitting, he supposed, for Even to have inadvertently chosen to doodle a sun for Isak, since his smile lit up Isak's mornings like it did.
“Absolutely,” Jonas said, throwing an arm over Isak's shoulders.
Wednesday, October 26th, 09:15
“I see you brought tea again,” Jonas grinned. “How's Even?”
Isak stared at the paper cup on his desk for a moment before answering.
“His girlfriend is hosting a Halloween party. He said to bring friends,” he finally said.
“His what?” Jonas asked, turning to stare at Isak.
Isak stared back and shrugged helplessly.
“His girlfriend,” he repeated.
Jonas stared at him as though he wasn't quite sure he'd understood Isak correctly, then deflated in his seat.
Isak shrugged again. He didn't really know how to feel about this new information. Devastated, yeah, but then again nothing was ever going to happen, was it? Even had always been a daydream. A crush. A pretty boy to look at and an infatuation to indulge in. Despite Jonas' claim that he was interested in Isak as well, he'd probably only been polite. Aware, maybe, of Isak's school boy crush and too kind to reject him outright.
“Are you gonna go?” Jonas asked.
Isak grabbed his snapback from his head to run his hand through his hair before setting it back down again.
“I don't know. He… he invited me to pre-drinks at his place? Just us two? To hang out?” he said.
“What the fuck?” Jonas asked, wrinkling his brow. “So he flirts with you, and he invites you over to pregame just the two of you, and then he's taking you to his girlfriend's party?”
“You don't know that he was flirting,” Isak objected.
Jonas looked like he wanted to press his point, but then he sighed instead and shrugged a little as well.
“I guess you're right,” he said. “I really thought he was though. Like, from what you told me, and what I saw.”
Isak shrugged again.
“But, like, are you gonna go? To his, I mean?”
“Wouldn't that be really silly? He has a girlfriend,” he said.
“Maybe you guys can be friends though, if that's something you want,” Jonas suggested.
“I want to kiss him,” Isak mumbled.
Jonas pulled a sympathetic grimace.
“I know it's not, like, the same thing, but when Eva and I broke up… it was really hard being friends with her, at first. But I'm really glad we actually made an effort to be friends, you know? She's great. I don't want to miss out on that,” he said.
“Yeah, no, I get what you mean,” Isak said with a sigh. “I guess I'll go? Maybe he'll turn out to be really boring and I'll get over it.”
“That's the spirit,” Jonas grinned. “If you need an out, just text me and I'll call with a family emergency or something.”
Isak snorted indelicately and then sighed deeply, twisting the paper cup around in its place on his desk.
“Yeah, thanks,” he said.
Friday, October 28th, 21:21
Isak was nervous about going over to Even's, there was no use pretending he wasn't. The worst part was that every time he caught his nerves flipping over into excitement, he had to squash the impulse. Yes, it was a little bit exciting that he would get to see where Even lived, what his room looked like, whether he had posters on his walls, and if he did whether Isak would recognise any of them. But he couldn't let himself get too excited, couldn't let himself look forward to it too much. He was invited to a pregame to Even's girlfriend's Halloween party.
Getting dressed had been a nightmare. He wanted to look good, because whether or not Even was into him like that, he didn't want to look a mess in front of him. But then he also didn't want to look like he was trying too hard. Yet he was supposed to go to a party, so trying a little was expected, wasn't it? In the end he went with a grey pair of skinny jeans and an equally grey henley under a red hoodie. The colours looked good on him, he knew, yet it was still relaxed enough to look casual. He hoped. That's what he'd heard Noora tell Eskild when she was helping him get dressed for a maybe-a-date-maybe-not-a-date the other day at least.
When Even swung open the door to let him in, he was wearing a long white tunic, and what appeared to be white leggings underneath. There was a long, white wig in his hand.
Isak blinked at him.
Even blinked back.
“What are you supposed to be?” he asked.
“Um,” Isak said, not sure what Even was getting at. “On time?”
Even snorted a laugh that made the skin by his eyes crinkle a little. Isak smiled back automatically.
“No, I mean, your costume,” Even said.
“Costume?” Isak echoed, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“Yeah, did I not tell you it was a costume party?” Even asked, eyes a little wide.
Isak shook his head. Maybe he should've asked, it was a Halloween party after all, but amidst all the fretting about what to do, and what to wear, and how to feel, it hadn't even occurred to him.
“That's okay. We'll find you something,” Even said, and then stepped aside to allow Isak into the flat.
The flat was smaller than the flatshare Isak himself lived in, but it looked… nice. There were shoes and coats and all the usual miscellany by the door, photos clipped to strings strung along the wall in the entryway, most of them of people. Groups of people Isak assumed were Even's friends, given they looked around his age. There was one that showed Even with his arm around a pretty girl with short hair, both of them laughing at something off camera.
“That's Sonja,” Even said.
When Isak looked up at him, feeling like he'd been caught doing something he shouldn't, Even was looking at him with a small furrow in his brow. Isak swallowed and smiled.
“She's very pretty. You make a good couple,” he said and turned away from the photos, slipping out of his shoes, intent on letting Even lead him further into the flat.
Instead, Even grinned, mischief dancing in his eyes.
“Are you saying I'm very pretty? Why thank you, Isak,” he teased.
Isak rolled his eyes and hoped to god the heat in his cheeks wasn't visible.
“Oh, you know what I meant,” he tried to play it off.
“Yes. That I'm exquisitely beautiful,” Even grinned.
“The fairest of them all,” Isak agreed, as sarcastically as he could, because if you can't beat them, join them. “You look ridiculous, actually.”
Even glanced down at himself as if he'd forgotten he was currently dressed like… Isak didn't know, actually. A hermit?
“Right! We've still got to find you a costume!” Even said. “Come on, I'm sure I've got something lying around.”
Even turned on his heel and strode further into the flat, so Isak followed him, letting his glance flit around the flat quickly.
“Are we alone?” Isak asked, hoping he didn't sound too happy about it.
“Yeah, my flatmate's, um… helping Sonja set up,” Even said. “We all know each other from back in school.”
“Oh,” Isak said. Then why wasn't Even…?
“I was supposed to help out as well, but she only told me about the party earlier this week. Not my fault I'd already made plans,” Even said, swinging open the doors to the floor to ceiling closet in his room.
Already made plans? He'd only invited Isak for drinks when he'd invited him to the party. So had his other plans fallen through and he'd invited Isak to get out of setting up for the party? Or… or had he already planned on asking Isak over before Sonja had told him about it?
Even looked over at Isak as though he waited for him to say something to that, so Isak smiled at him. It made Even smile back at least, before he went back to rummaging through his closet, so Isak supposed it must have sufficed, whatever reaction Even had been looking for.
“Aha!” Even exclaimed triumphantly, pulling a golden something out of his closet and tossing it at Isak.
“Um,” Isak said, fumbling the catch a little.
“We're gonna dress you up as Julius Caesar,” Even announced.
Isak lifted the wreath of golden ivy and studied it.
“Pretty sure the ancient Romans wore laurels,” he said.
“Beggars can't be choosers, Isak,” Even chastised, wagging a mocking finger at him.
Isak rolled his eyes again, but grinned. He settled the wreath on his hair, brushing a few strands out of his face and sort of tucking them underneath so the wreath wouldn't push them down into his face. Even smiled at him.
“Come here,” he said, and Isak went.
“Give me your hoodie and hold your arms out,” Even instructed, so Isak handed it over and stuck his arms out to the side, frowning only a little bit. Even widened his eyes significantly at him in response and then tied the hoodie diagonally across his body. He even managed to do a knot on top of Isak's shoulder that didn't look entirely obnoxious. For a costume thrown together in less than five minutes, it was probably as good as it was going to get.
“There,” Even said, stepping away from Isak to take in his work, and giving a decisive nod.
“Very statuesque,” he pronounced.
Isak couldn't help the amused snort.
“Yeah,” Even said, grin bright, and eyes focused on Isak in such a way that made it feel like Even thought him the only thing worth looking at.
Isak could feel himself blush, and tried to remind himself of pretty Sonja and the comfortable way Even's arm was wrapped around her in the photo. It was hard to do with Even looking at him like that, and even harder when Even's smile softened, and he pulled a pre-rolled blunt from somewhere within the closet.
“Up for it?” he asked.
Even moved over to the window and opened one side of it, before he sat down on the bench covered in cushions that stood beneath it, and lit the joint. When Isak hesitated for a bit, he gestured for him to join him, so Isak sat down and made himself cross one leg onto the bench, the other one dangling off of it. There was no point in tiptoeing around. Whatever his reasons, Even had invited him to hang out. He wanted him here. Isak might as well get comfortable with that.
Even copied his pose opposite him, their knees touching just the slightest bit. He took a long drag, clearly practised, before he handed the joint over to Isak.
“So, young Isak, tell me about yourself,” Even invited, smoke spilling from his lips as he spoke.
Isak took his own drag, held the smoke for a couple moments, and then blew it out in a controlled breath, before he answered.
“What do you want to know?”
“Anything. You go to Nissen?” Even asked.
Isak nodded, and handed the joint back over.
“Yeah, second year,” he said.
“A 99er?” Even asked, lips curled in a smile even as he wrapped them back around the joint and sucked. Isak tried not to stare.
“Yeah. You?” he asked.
Even breathed out a ring of smoke and sent the rest of it straight through it. When Isak rolled his eyes, begrudgingly impressed but hardly about to show it, Even waggled his eyebrows at him.
“97,” he said. “I graduated last summer.”
“Where did you go?”
Isak snorted with amusement. For some reason, Elvebakken wouldn't have been his guess.
“Surprised to see you at Kaffebrenneriet then. Do they roast their coffee beans harmonically enough?” he teased.
“Oh, yes. Three virgins hand-pick and cry over every bean, didn't you know?”
Isak laughed, taking the joint from Even when he held it out.
“So which media nerd type are you then?” he asked.
“The director kind. Or writing,” Even said with a grin, unbothered by Isak's comment.
There was something about the open way he spoke about it, the way his eyes twinkled as he tilted his head to the side and looked out into the darkness, that made Isak soften.
“Yeah. I think all of life is like a film, maybe, and you get to direct it. A little bit, at least. But with a film you can direct every part of it, and make it exactly the story you want to see, you know?” he explained.
Isak nodded and turned to the side to exhale the smoke out of the open window.
Even nudged his knee.
“You made me talk about me, and I wanted to hear about you!” he accused.
Isak laughed and handed the joint back over, already feeling heavier, warmer, lighter.
“Alright, alright. I… think what's fascinating about life isn't the control we have over it, it's the infinity of it,” he said.
“How do you mean?” Even asked, eyes focussed on him now instead of whatever it was he'd seen outside before.
“I mean… there's a whole universe out there. And not just this one, probably, but a whole infinity of universes for everything possible. Anything that can happen, will happen. Is happening, actually. For example, there's a universe out there with an Isak and an Even sitting by the window smoking, only, like… you dressed me as something else,” Isak said, pressing his lips together to halt the rush of words tumbling from his mouth.
Even didn't seem put off though, he just looked Isak over, a small smile tugging at his lips.
“Like what?” he asked.
Isak shrugged. “I don't know, it's your alternate self.”
Even grinned and nodded, as though Isak made perfect sense. He took another drag before handing the joint back to Isak.
“Maybe I'd have given you a crown of flowers instead,” he said, eyes bright and heavy on Isak at the same time.
Isak swallowed and barely resisted the urge to lick his lips, breaking eye contact to take another hit.
“And, like, there are infinitely many of these universes, yeah? There's one for every tiny change. One where this wreath has one less leaf, one where you're sitting here, and I'm over there, one where your… fuck, I don't know. Your curtains are blue. It's not all grand changes, just. A universe for every possible version of reality,” Isak barrelled on once he'd exhaled the smoke again.
Even hummed contemplatively.
“I don't like it,” he decided.
“What? Why?” Isak asked, handing the blunt back over when Even held his hand out for it. “It's fascinating, don't you think? The vastness of it and how insignificant and self-centered we are.”
“Maybe,” Even conceded, taking another drag. “It freaks me out a little though. I like being significant and self-centered.”
There was a teasing grin on his face as his eyes flicked over to Isak briefly, but also something that looked a lot like… exhaustion. Isak swallowed heavily, heartbeat picking up, wracking his brain for a way to turn the conversation back around.
“I don't know, it's like a hardcore version of that 'the brain is alone' feeling, right?”
“'The brain is alone'?” Isak asked, frowning.
“Yeah, like. It's only you and your thoughts, in the end. The only thing that's for sure, and that you can't get away from. Your thoughts are always going to be there. Except in death, that is,” Even said.
“That's a bit dark,” he said.
Even laughed. “I suppose. It's true though.”
“I mean, yeah,” Isak said. He fidgeted a bit, trying to find something to say to that. “But, like, does it matter?”
“How do you mean?” Even asked. “You're essentially alone in the universe – in an infinity of universes, according to you. Doesn't that matter?”
“Only you can think what you think, or feel what you feel, for that matter, true, but,” Isak said, then halted, licked his lips. Even was watching him attentively. Isak's heart was still beating a bit too heavily for the stoned rambling he was used to doing.
“Only you can see what you see as well, right? Like, we'd both call this red,” he said, pointing at the hoodie wrapped around him in an approximation of a toga. “But there's no way of knowing if what you see and what I see are actually the same colour. We just learned that this shade, whichever one we're actually seeing, is called red.”
Even laughed a little. “How does that make that better?”
“Well, because we both call it red. What you see and what I see doesn't really matter, does it? Because it's red. And we know what we're talking about. We're not alone,” Isak said.
Even hummed thoughtfully, passing the blunt back over to Isak.
“Maybe,” he said.
Isak took another hit and smiled.
“Make a movie out of it,” he suggested.
“A movie?” Even asked.
“Yeah. Tell the same story in like, five different versions. Five different universes. And then it turns out this guy's just been going through possibilities in his head or something.”
“That's been done, I think,” Even laughed. “But why not do it again.”
“Great. You'll make movies and win Oscars, and I'll, I don't know. Find a new particle,” Isak grinned.
“A new particle?” Even asked, laughing.
“Yeah, like, at CERN. Particle physics?”
“Is that what you're into?” Even asked, dropping the bud of the blunt into a glass he'd taken from Isak-didn't-see-where and looking over at Isak with a focus Isak thought he shouldn't be able to pull off through the haze of the smoke clouding his own mind.
“I don't know, really. Maybe. I like science,” Isak said.
“So, how does that work out with your parallel universes?” Even wondered.
Isak shrugged, relaxed smile playing about his lips.
“Well, the multiverse is part of physical cosmology, sort of. I mean, it's debatable, and a lot of people say it's not really science cause it doesn't allow the application of the scientific method, but-”
“The what is part of what now?” Even interrupted with a laugh. “Wow, I had no idea you were such a nerd.”
“Shut up,” Isak said, blushing a little. “It's physics that deals with what the universe actually is and how it works. Big bang and that.”
“Ah, okay,” Even said, nodding a little. “I think I prefer movies.”
Now it was Isak's time to laugh.
“I bet you hate anything with an explosion.”
Even exaggerated an offended huff, but he was still grinning.
“Well, we can't all be into big bangs,” he said, prompting Isak into even more giggles.
The heavier mood from earlier had dissipated like the smoke between them, and when Even asked him about what kind of music he liked listening to, Isak didn't even mind the subsequent teasing when he tried – and failed – to pretend to know who Nas was too much. As long as they were having fun, it was all good.
The munchies drove them into the kitchen sooner rather than later, and Even made Isak sit on the counter and watch, because “You're a guest and it's rude not to provide food and drink for your guests. Beer?” So Isak found himself sipping from a bottle of beer, watching Even slice cheese rather lopsidedly and slop it onto toast.
“Did you forget to put that cheese back into the fridge?” Isak asked, watching the way Even struggled to keep the cheese solid enough to cut.
Even huffed and rolled his eyes.
“Yes, I did,” he said.
“That always happens to me too,” he said.
Even grinned when he looked up at him from his work, eyes sparkling brightly.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Isak confirmed, toes curling around the squirming feeling in his belly. “Noora always yells at me for it.”
“Noora?” Even asked, turning back to the cheese.
“One of my flatmates. I took her room when she left for London with her boyfriend, but she, uh, recently came back,” Isak said.
“Oh,” Even said, a small frown on his brow. “Is she okay?”
Isak shrugged. “I think so. It's a bit crowded in the flat now, but she's mostly at Eva's anyway.”
Even hummed his acknowledgement and then turned to put the cheese into the fridge with a waggle of his eyebrows at Isak.
“Don't forget the cardamom,” Isak said when he turned back.
“Cardamom?” Even asked.
“Yep. It's essential for a good cheese toast.”
Even studied him for a moment, a wary frown on his face.
“I can't tell if you're joking or not,” he finally said.
Isak laughed, and then shook his head.
“I'm not! It's really good, trust me!” he insisted. “What do you usually put on?”
“Nothing? It has cheese. That's the point of cheese toast,” Even said.
“Amateur,” Isak scoffed, rolling his eyes playfully, and hopped down from his perch on the counter.
“No, no, no,” Even protested immediately, setting his hands on Isak's hips and pushing him back with an exaggerated frown when he tried to step up to the toast.
Isak felt the edge of the counter bump into his back, gently, because Even was moving him so gently, but it hardly registered against the firm warmth on his hips. His breath caught in his throat and it took a moment for him to remember to close his mouth and blink his eyes back to a normal size. Even's Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed, and Isak had to very deliberately move his eyes further up to Even's face, and then even more deliberately past his plush, pink lips up to his eyes. Not that Even's eyes were any easier to look at than his lips, dark and glittering in a way that tripped Isak's heartbeat up. For a second, Isak swore they flicked down to Isak's own lips.
“You are my guest,” Even said, voice lower and rougher than just a moment ago. The sound of it made heat shiver along Isak's spine, heating his cheeks and making his stomach glow warmly.
Isak could only stare, but Even didn't say anything else. He shifted his weight a little and it couldn't have moved him closer by more than a centimetre or two, but he might as well have been pressed all along Isak's body with the way his presence loomed over him.
“Okay,” Isak found himself saying, not even sure to what he was agreeing. With Even this close, holding him like that, and looking at him with those eyes, Isak would have probably agreed to anything.
Even ducked his head just a bit, and Isak wasn't even sure he'd done it on purpose, or with any specific purpose in mind, but he tilted his own up just a little in response anyway. For a moment they were frozen like that. Then, Even stepped away.
Isak's knees locked against the rush of weakness that gripped him, as though Even had taken Isak's center of gravity with him when he moved back.
Even pulled open a cupboard door, his face vanishing behind it for a moment.
“So, cardamom?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Isak said, and turned away to compose himself, grabbing the bottle of beer to take a large gulp. The bitterness settled on his tongue more heavily than before.
When he turned back around, leaning against the counter in an imitation of casualness, Even had come back out of the cupboard, looking, for all intents and purposes, as though nothing had happened.
“How about some rosemary?” he asked, holding the glass bottle up.
Isak found himself smiling despite the tight coil of nerves in his stomach.
“Sure,” he said.
“I don't really have anything else to offer, other than chili salsa,” Even said with a grin.
“Well, we can always put that on when they're done in the oven,” Isak suggested.
“I like the way you think. We should go all in,” he said.
Isak nodded, watching Even sprinkle rosemary and cardamom onto the cheese toasts, both a little too liberally.
“Yeah. No, turning back now,” he said.
“Only forward,” Even agreed, with a quick glance and smile at Isak, and slid the tray of toast into the oven.
Despite the liberal spice application courtesy of Even, and the liberal chili salsa application courtesy of Isak, the toast turned out edible enough that they both finished their share.
“There was something wrong with that,” Even said, nose wrinkled adorably, even as he licked the residual fat off his fingers. “I'm blaming your cardamom.”
Isak scoffed. “Just because you don't know how to do it properly.”
“Whatever you say, Isak,” Even laughed, and leaned back onto his hands.
“Hey, what time is it?” he asked then.
Isak twisted his hips to get his phone from his pocket, and illuminated the screen to check.
“Um, quarter to nine,” he said.
“Shit, really? We better get going,” Even said, getting up from where they'd been sitting on the floor of his room.
“Oh, okay,” Isak said, scrambling to follow Even into the kitchen with his own plate, trying to ignore the sinking disappointment. Even took the plate with a smile and put it in the dishwasher next to his own. Isak felt a shot of something despairingly sad at the thought of all the evidence of him being here being washed away so easily. Of course he knew it was absolutely ridiculous, but he had… god, he had such a crush on Even, and he couldn't figure out what Even wanted from him. He just wanted to leave a mark somewhere.
Even breezed through the flat like a whirlwind on two legs, laughing at the slightly shocked expression on Isak's face as he watched him flit from room to room, collecting his wig, his wallet, his phone, his keys.
“Come on, we'll take my bike,” Even said, slipping into his shoes. “You can sit on the rack.”
“Oh, um. Sure,” Isak agreed, tying his own shoes and then almost tripping over the threshold as Even waved him out enthusiastically.
Isak tried to hold on to the front of the rack to keep his balance, but it was already hard enough keeping his legs off the ground, so eventually he just took a deep breath, grabbed one of Even's hips and one of his shoulders, and held on. Even took one hand off the handle bars and patted Isak's hand on his hip.
“You okay back there?” he called.
“Just trying not to fall off,” Isak called back, making Even laugh and attempt to look back over his shoulder. He only ended up spluttering when the wind blew the white wig into his mouth.
“Look ahead, idiot!” Isak laughed.
“Live on the edge, Isak!” Even yelled through his own laughter.
“I'm too young to die!”
“And far too pretty!”
“Exactly!” Isak yelled back without missing a beat, while his heart probably missed several of them. Too pretty? Too pretty? Even thought he was pretty? What did this mean? Did this even mean anything? Isak had thought he might have been flirting before, Jonas had been convinced of it, and then… Sonja.
Isak took a deep breath, glad the general noise would hide how it shuddered, and that Even wouldn't be able to see his blush.
Could Even feel the trembling of his hands?
Then they stopped, rather abruptly, and Isak could barely keep himself from falling forwards into Even's back.
“Whoah,” he mumbled, squeezing Even maybe a little too tightly in his attempt to avoid a collision, and put his feet back on the ground.
“We're here,” Even announced.
Isak grabbed the rack in front of him to steady himself while getting off, rather than Even, and looked up at the unassuming building. He wasn't sure what exactly he'd been expecting, but now that he was faced with the utter banality of just another apartment building, it seemed silly to feel… disappointed. Like the universe should have provided something more sinister looking for the moment that would send all of Isak's buried hopes and dreams off into the afterlife.
“I'm guessing it's the one with the flashing lights?” Isak asked, plastering on a grin.
Even tilted his head to the side, glancing up at the building.
“And the thumping bass? How did you guess?” he teased.
“I'm incredibly smart, didn't you know?” Isak mock-bragged.
“I'm starting to realise, yeah,” Even said, voice and smile a little too soft not to throw Isak off again.
“Better late than never,” Isak said, nerves coiled too tightly for silence.
“Hey, what time is it?”
“Um, hang on,” Isak said, fishing his phone out of his pocket to check. “21:21.”
“Seriously?” Even asked, with a slight grin.
“Yeah,” Isak said, holding up his phone for Even to see.
“Do you want to go to a party right now?” Even asked, face too blank for Isak's searching eyes to find a clue to what the right answer would be.
Isak swallowed, stretching out his fingers when he realised he'd curled them into fists.
He shrugged, helplessly aware of the precipice he was standing on, metaphorically speaking. Though to be fair he probably stepped onto that precipice the moment he crossed Even's threshold for the first time. So he might as well take the plunge.
“I want to spend time with you,” he said.
For the longest moment of Isak's life, Even only looked at him. With every passing second Isak became more and more aware of his entire body. The way his feet were turned inwards a little. The way his shoulders were a little hunched. The way the ivy wreath was slipping down a little on one side. The way his hands had gone icy cold, and not just because of the late October air. The way blood was rushing in his ears, and the way his belly tingled as though in free fall.
Then Even let go of his bike, taking a step towards him, and Isak flinched at the crash as it fell, then flinched again when Even touched the side of his face with one hand and leaned down to press their lips together in a firm kiss. Isak stood stock still as the first touch raced through him like an electric spark. Then, with a breath more like a sigh, he melted against the heat of Even's mouth, hands finding a position on his neck, in his hair, without even having to think about it. Even's second arm came up to wrap around Isak's waist and pull him closer, the fan of his warm fingers feeling huge against Isak's back. When the thumb resting against Isak's face swiped over his cheekbone just before Even opened his mouth to lick into Isak's, Isak was quite sure he was swooning a little.
He never wanted to stop kissing Even.
So, naturally, Even pulled back, though Isak only had a second to panic, his eyes not even all the way open again yet, before Even leaned back in again to press another lingering kiss against his lips.
“Let's get out of here,” he said, hot breath washing over Isak's lips with how close they still were. Isak leaned up for another kiss.
“My roommates should be out,” he offered.
“Good,” Even said, voice back down in that register that set Isak's blood boiling, and kissed Isak again. “Let's go.”
Chapter 2: is enough to knock me off of my feet
Saturday, October 29th, 1:01
Isak had never felt blood pulsing in his lips before. He'd never kissed someone so much that he was relatively certain he'd tasted something metallic earlier. He'd never pressed his body so close to someone else's.
“Tired?” Even asked, fingers drawing soothing shapes over Isak's shoulderblade.
“No,” Isak insisted, though the movement of Even's fingers on his back and arm had lulled him into a sort of half-drowsy state.
Even pressed a kiss to the crown of his head, and Isak couldn't help his grin. Even was warm and solid underneath him, dressed in a pair of Isak's sweatpants and one of Isak's hoodies over his white t-shirt; cuddly, and tangible, and here.
They'd stumbled into Isak's room a good few hours ago, falling onto the bed and kissing, kissing, kissing until Isak couldn't have separated up from down no matter how hard he tried. The arousal in Isak's blood had come and gone with the intensity of their kisses, making him frantic and giving him impulse to run his hands all over Even's arms and back and chest, but never intense enough to demand attention Isak didn't want to divert from the heady feeling of Even's mouth on his. Even, it seemed, implicitly agreed, even though his thin leggings hadn't done anything to hide the bulge of his thickening cock where Even pressed it against Isak. They also hadn't done anything to keep him warm, in the end, so somewhere around eleven, Isak had pushed him off and offered a change of clothes. Even had blinked at him, laughed, and then pressed a sweet kiss to his mouth.
“Yes, please,” he'd said, and they'd spent five minutes getting changed before tangling their limbs up again, Even on his back, and Isak splayed half on top of him, his head on Even's shoulder. It was a bit strange, to have to look up at someone to look them in the face, and Isak supposed he could always just move up, put his head on the pillow by Even's, but it was also… nice. It kept a low heat glowing all along his spine, sticky and sweet like honey, and making him tilt his chin up every now and then just for the pleasure of seeing the smile on Even's face before he ducked his head and kissed Isak.
Somewhere around eleven, Even's phone had stopped ringing. And somewhere around half past midnight, it had started again. Even had ignored it, and so Isak had too, but then it seemed to ring one time too many, and Even stretched to grab it from the floor by Isak's bed, sighing deeply as he watched the call drop.
“Sonja?” Isak couldn't help but ask.
The thought of Even's girlfriend sat in the back of his mind like a particularly sour smell. He knew he should feel guiltier than he did, but it was hard to do when it had been Even who had started talking to him in the coffeeshop, Even who had invited him over, Even who had kissed him first, and Even who had kept kissing him and ignoring his girlfriend's calls.
“I'm so fucked,” Even said.
Isak pressed his lips together and swallowed heavily before looking up at Even, who was staring into the middle distance, but smiled weakly at Isak when he felt him looking.
“What are you going to do?” Isak asked, heart racing.
“Break up with her,” Even said. “We should've broken up months ago.”
Isak felt his jaw go tight with tension, ducking his head again in an effort to not show the relief on his face. This wasn't a moment for celebration.
“We've been dating since we were, like, fifteen, you know?” Even said.
“Oh,” Isak said, swallowing heavily. Four years. Suddenly he felt too close to Even, but there wasn't a way he could roll off his shoulder without it being obvious, and he curled his toes against the sudden tension in his back.
Even's arm tightened around him as though he knew what Isak was feeling.
“I used to love her, but. Us being together now, it's not because of that. It's… convenient. Safe. We know each other so well,” Even went on.
Isak bit his lip and let Even talk.
“I know it, and she knows it too. It's just that neither of us have taken that step yet. It's scary, you know? The thought of losing that. Sometimes I think no one in the world knows me as well as she does,” Even explained.
“It is scary,” Isak agreed quietly, staring at the blue of his own hoodie on Even's chest. He was lucky, he supposed, that Jonas was straight and wouldn't have reciprocated Isak's feelings even if he'd known. He'd never had to face the possibility of losing the person who knew him best in the world over a breakup.
“Is she your best friend?” he asked.
Even sighed again, fingers loosening on Isak's shoulder and going back to drawing indistinct shapes there as he thought it over.
“I don't know. I never really thought of it in that way. She's always been my girlfriend,” Even finally said. “It's just she's been with me through some tough times, you know?”
Isak hummed his agreement.
“Still, I shouldn't have done this to her. Or you. I'm sorry,” Even said.
Isak frowned and looked up at Even again.
“To me? You didn't do anything to me,” Isak said.
“I shouldn't have put you in this position,” Even said, a frown of his own tightening his brow.
Isak scooted up a bit, bringing up his hand to put on Even's neck, thumb stroking along the line of Even's jaw just once as he brushed their noses together and pecked Even on the lips.
“I could've turned you down when you kissed me,” Isak said. “This was my decision.”
“So there's a parallel universe out there where you turn me down and I awkwardly go to the party alone?” Even asked, a bit of a teasing grin on his face.
Isak grinned back.
“And one where you don't kiss me in the first place and we awkwardly go to the party together,” he said.
“So how many universes are there where we don't end up lying in your bed?” Even asked.
“Infinite, I suppose,” Isak said. “But there are infinite ones where we do as well.”
“Just with blue curtains?”
“Yeah,” Isak said, and kissed Even again. “And green, and white, and orange, and all colours and patterns you can think of, and then a few you can't.”
Even gasped dramatically and moved his head back a little.
“You think there are patterns I can't think of? I'll have you know I'm incredibly inventive,” he said.
Isak laughed. “But you're human. And I'm talking about infinitely many patterns. Your brain can't comprehend infinity.”
“Maybe yours can't...” Even pouted.
“Unless you're immortal, neither can yours.”
“Well, maybe I am. You don't know that.”
Isak rolled his eyes, and tugged at Even's neck with his hand. Even smiled and acquiesced, leaning back down for more kisses.
Isak could really get used to this.
Saturday, October 29th, 10:39
When Isak blinked sleepy eyes open next, he was rolled over onto the pillow Even had slept on, the blanket half covering his legs, half held to his chest with one arm. Isak had always been a snuggly sleeper. Most importantly, the other side of the bed was empty. For a few moments Isak didn't want to move, waiting to see if Even had maybe only gone to the bathroom, but the longer he laid still and waited, the more his heart sank. Finally he let go of the blanket and rolled over onto his back to stare at the ceiling.
He hadn't… misread last night, right? Even had definitely literally, explicitly said he'd break up with Sonja. Granted, he hadn't said he wanted to be with Isak instead, but Isak had assumed it was implied by all the cuddling and kissing they'd been up to.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he took a deep breath, opened his eyes again, and then made himself sit up.
The clothes he'd given Even the night before were folded neatly on the floor by the side of his bed, and on top lay a piece of paper that looked like it had been torn from one of Isak's notebooks. With a curious frown he bent down to snatch it up.
It was a drawing. A sort of comic in two panels, the left showing a stylised cartoon version of Even at what Isak assumed was Sonja's party, given the can of beer in his hand, and the music notes floating all around. The one on the right was a drawing of cartoon Even and a cartoon Isak lying in bed together, just as they had last night, with Isak's head on Even's shoulder. It was captioned “at the same time, in a different universe”.
Underneath the two panels Even had scribbled a short note. “You're pretty when you sleep,” and then a string of numbers that Isak assumed was Even's phone number. Isak very barely managed to refrain from doing anything as silly as kissing the piece of paper, and instead grabbed his phone and added the number to his contacts.
Thanks for the drawing and thanks for last night. I had a great time.
Sunday, October 30th, 15:15
Me too. Sonja called in the morning, so I had to go.
Isak looked up from his biology homework, glancing over at his phone lazily as it beeped with a message. When he saw who it was from, he dropped his pen in his haste to grab it, heart beating almost frantically. He'd almost thought maybe Even had changed his mind about them when he'd failed to reply all of yesterday and today, but here he was, telling him he'd enjoyed Saturday just as Isak had.
Chewing on his lip, Isak typed a reply.
Good as can be. It's over with her.
Did that mean… that Even regretted it? That he'd told her about Isak and she'd broken up with him but Even hadn't wanted it anymore? Or that it was just not the ideal way to end a four year relationship and one couldn't expect that sort of thing to end painlessly anyway, but definitely not if you threw another person into the mix?
Isak bounced his knee absentmindedly, not sure how to reply to it. When more than a minute had already passed and Even must have been wondering why Isak wasn't answering, he grit his teeth and typed out a reply.
If that makes you sad and it's my fault then I'm sorry.
And then Isak's phone was ringing, 'Even Kaffebrenneriet' written in bold letters across his screen. Isak fumbled with the phone a bit in surprise, but finally managed to pick up and lift it to his ear.
“I'm not sad, you silly boy,” Even said, laugh audible in his voice, before Isak had the chance to mumble so much as a hello.
“I'm glad,” Isak said, a smile pulling at his own lips.
“Yeah?” Even asked.
Isak balled his hand up into a fist against the butterflies threatening to spill out of his mouth.
“Yeah,” he said.
For a moment they were both quiet on the line, and even though Isak couldn't see or hear Even, it somehow felt intimate. Like he was right there. Like more than just a phone line connected them at that moment.
“So...” Even then started, and Isak bit his lip in anticipation, heartbeat spiking. “What would you say if I asked you out on a date?”
Isak grinned so hard the slightly dry skin of his lips pulled tight, and bit into his fist for a moment.
“That'd be chill,” he said then.
“Yeah?” Even asked, voice going up with excitement as though he'd somehow doubted that Isak would jump at the chance to spend time with him, go on a date with him. The idea that Even might have been nervous asking Isak out, when Isak felt like his infatuation must have been visible from space, softened his feelings a little. It was easy to forget sometimes, when Even was so tall, and handsome, and seemed so confident, but really he was just a boy. Just a person.
“Yeah, I'd like that,” Isak said.
“That's chill,” Even echoed, making Isak laugh.
“When… when did you have in mind?” Isak asked, not wanting to seem overly eager but even more unwilling to let Even hang up without some sort of concrete plan.
“What are you doing tomorrow after school?” Even asked back.
“Homework,” Isak said. “Nothing too important.”
Even laughed. “Well, I've got work till three, but maybe I could see you sometime after that?”
“I'm done around two tomorrow. I… could come do my homework at the coffeeshop? Then we could do something after?” Isak suggested, heart beating wildly in his chest. The idea felt so surreal, like something that should only happen in movies. Boys like Isak didn't sit in coffeeshops doing homework, waiting for their barista boyfriend's shift to end to walk off into the sunset together. And, fair enough, Even wasn't exactly his boyfriend (yet?), but Isak's point still stood.
“Sounds perfect,” Even said.
“I'll see you tomorrow then,” Isak said. He really didn't want to hang up, but if he didn't want to fall behind, he really needed to finish this stupid biology thing. Especially if he wanted to spend tomorrow afternoon with Even, instead of with a textbook.
“Will you still come in in the mornings?” Even asked.
Isak grinned down at his desk.
“Of course. I need my tea, don't I,” he said.
“Of course,” Even said with another laugh. “I'll see you tomorrow morning then.”
“See you then,” Isak said, and then, after a brief second of silence in which neither of them seemed to want to hang up first, Isak lowered his phone and tapped the red button.
Monday, October 31st, 8:02
Isak couldn't even pretend his smile hadn't been wide enough to attract a few amused looks ever since he got on the tram earlier and Even had texted him that red heart. But when he pulled open the door to Kaffebrenneriet and Even looked up and at him with a smile that easily rivalled his own, he couldn't be bothered to care.
Isak bounced on his toes a little while he waited in line. It was one of the busier mornings today, and Isak was trying to think of what he'd say to Even in the brief moment they'd have together, but when it was his turn, Even leaned across the counter and grabbed his face to press a kiss to his mouth instead. Isak stood frozen and blinked at him when he pulled back and pushed Isak's cup of tea across the counter. The cup was littered with doodles.
“I can't wait to see you later,” Even said, and when Isak tried to pay for the tea, he waved him off.
“On me, today,” he said.
Isak nodded, and just as Even made to turn to the person in line behind Isak, Isak snatched the front of his apron and pulled him into another quick kiss.
“See you later,” he said, and turned to leave with an apologetic (but slightly smug) grin at the man in a suit stood behind him, who thankfully only rolled vaguely amused eyes at him.
Tuesday, November 1st, 8:11
The coffeeshop was blessedly empty when Isak entered it on Tuesday, but a girl around Isak's age came in just after him, so he stood aside and motioned for her to go first while he pretended to look for his wallet in his backpack. Even shot him a look like he knew exactly what Isak was doing, but the girl hardly paid him any attention beyond a brief smile, batting her eyelashes up at Even. Even smiled at her politely, and Isak couldn't help the slow spread of a smile curling over his lips, a pleased heat curling in his belly knowing that he wasn't the only one who came in here and fell prey to Even's charm, but he was the one Even had picked to fall for back.
As soon as she turned around to leave, Isak stepped up to the counter and leaned halfway over it, tilting his head up in expectation of a kiss.
“Morning, baby,” he said. If he wasn't sure if the girl had left the shop yet or stayed long enough to hear him, that was neither here nor there. Even's grin when he leaned down to meet him for that kiss was infinitely more important.
“Jealous?” Even teased when he pulled back again, grabbing another be-doodled paper cup.
“Smug,” Isak corrected with a shrug and a bit of heat in his cheeks.
Even turned to grin at him and leaned in for another kiss.
“That I understand,” he said, carding a hand gently through the hair curling at the side of Isak's head.
Isak laughed a little, watching Even pull back and dump the customary Earl Grey tea bag into the paper cup before pouring the hot water.
“Jealousy you don't understand?” he asked.
Even shrugged. “No, I understand it, but there's no reason for you to be jealous.”
“I know,” Isak said.
It wasn't ideal, that they'd had their first kiss(es) while Even was still technically with Sonja, but Even hadn't delayed breaking up with her, hadn't lied to Isak about anything, and despite his paranoid doubt on the weekend, Isak was sure that Even wasn't about to change his mind again. He wasn't fickle. He'd been with Sonja for four years. Who stayed with their middle school girlfriend for four actual years? Of course there was no guarantee he'd stay with Isak for the next four, but Isak was rather sure he could hope for the next four months, at least.
Even studied him for a moment and then smiled.
“Good,” he said, and kissed him again. “That'll be twenty-three crowns.”
“For the kiss?” Isak teased. “I'll have another one, then.”
Even laughed and kissed him again. “Sure you can afford it?”
“I'll just skip my tea tomorrow,” Isak said with a grin, lips still hovering close by Even's.
Even pulled back immediately.
“Nope. I won't allow it,” he said. “How am I going to get through my day if I don't see your pretty face in the morning?”
Isak laughed, heat bright in his cheeks and heart, and the butterflies in his belly squirming happily.
“I'll send you a selfie.”
“Not good enough,” Even insisted, and pushed the cup of Isak's tea over the counter.
Just then, the door behind Isak opened, admitting a group of chattering students. Isak sighed, but quickly paid, and then dug out twenty-three of his change to drop onto the counter, winking at Even. Even laughed and quickly pecked him on the lips again.
“You know, I've only paid you for one of those,” Isak mused.
“The first one was a promotion event to get you to interested. The second one your free trial. You paid for the third,” Even said, with a shit-eating grin, ticking them off on his fingers.
“I see. And the fourth one?” Isak grinned back.
“A thank-you gift, for your patronage,” Even said, eyes wide as though the answer was obvious.
Isak laughed, but an annoyed huff behind him kept him from leaning in for another kiss. Instead he took a step to the side and shrugged at Even, tea carefully cradled in his hands.
“See you later?”
“I'll be here,” Even said with a soft smile.
“See you later, then.”
Thursday, November 2nd, 11:34
“Even does these?” Jonas asked, turning this morning's to-go cup slowly on the cafeteria table between them, inspecting the doodles on them. Most of them were just silly little things; rainbows, kittens, skateboards, blunts, the occasional ejaculating dick. But some of them were sweet; meaningful. The 21:21 Isak had found on every cup this week, the conversation love hearts with things like 'ur cute' written in them.
“Yeah,” Isak said, small smile pulling at his lips.
“Cool,” Jonas said, snorting a laugh when he found one of the ejaculating dicks. He looked up and waggled his eyebrows meaningfully at Isak, who rolled his eyes and kicked him lightly under the table. There had been no ejaculating dicks so far, and Isak was pretty sure that wasn't why Even was drawing them anyway. They were just funny.
“Do you keep all of them, then?” Jonas asked.
Isak shrugged and tried not to blush.
“Um, yeah. I bought, like--” he started, and then cut himself off, feeling his cheeks go even hotter. God, saying it out loud seemed a little bit pathetic all of a sudden.
“You bought what?” Jonas asked, intrigued now.
“I, um. One of those, like, fixing sprays? For artists? That you put on a drawing so it doesn't smudge?” Isak said.
Jonas nodded along, mirth sparkling bright in his eyes.
“Shut up,” Isak whined, pushing at his shoulder. “Anyway, I got one of those, and I spray them with that at home.”
“That's disgusting,” Jonas said with a shit-eating grin. “I've never even really seen you two together, but I bet you're absolutely revolting.”
“Who's revolting together? Has Isak found himself a girl?!” Magnus asked, eyes bright and excited as he fell into the seat beside Isak.
Isak froze a little, swallowing heavily and catching Jonas' sheepish gaze, while Mahdi sat down by Jonas' side.
“Guys?” Magnus prompted, when Isak and Jonas held the gaze for a moment too long.
Jonas gave a quirk of his eyebrow, and Isak released a deep breath. It'd be fine.
“Um, yeah,” he said, and then, before Magnus could ask any of the four hundred questions Isak could see springing to life in his mind, tacked on, “His name's Even.”
It was almost a bit funny, watching the train of Magnus' thoughts screech to a halt.
“I don't know an Even; does he go to Nissen?” Mahdi asked, pulling a sugar packet from his pocket and briefly looking up at Isak before sprinkling it over his waffle.
“No, he, er, graduated from Elvebakken last summer,” Isak said, heart still in his throat.
“Oh, cool,” Mahdi said, at the same time as Magnus said, “What the fuck, are you a homo now?”
Isak flinched a little, but Magnus only gaped at him with wide, surprised eyes. There wasn't any malice in his expression, but that didn't mean it wouldn't kick in once the surprise had worn off, and Isak felt his heart beat in his throat.
“Is there a problem with that?” Jonas asked, tightly.
“What? No, of course not, it's just he always has all the hottest chicks staring at him,” Magnus said, whining a little.
“Well, maybe he's pansexual,” Mahdi said with a shrug.
“What's that?” Magnus asked, brows furrowed.
“It's when you like both,” Mahdi explained.
Magnus' eyebrows furrowed deeper. “I thought that was bisexual?”
“Yeah, I think that's bisexual,” Jonas chimed in.
Isak's eyes jumped back and forth between them, biting the inside of his lip in disbelief at the conversation unfolding before him. He told his friends he was seeing a boy, and all they did was discuss the nuances of sexual orientation?
“Well, pansexual's also when you like both, I'm sure,” Mahdi said.
“Let's ask Isak. Is it, Isak?” Magnus asked him, three sets of eyes suddenly turning to him, though Jonas seemed mostly amused.
“Fuck, I don't know. I've never heard of it,” he said.
“What? How have you never heard of it? Are you bisexual then?” Magnus asked.
“They don't exactly hand out a guidebook, do they? Fuck, I don't know,” Isak said, a little incredulous laugh in his voice and small ball of nerves still curled in his belly. “I think I'm, like, pretty gay.”
“You think? You don't know?” Magnus asked, still seeming confused.
“No, I-- I like Even. I've never liked a girl,” Isak said, shrugging, suddenly remembering they were having this conversation in the middle of the cafeteria and had a tendency to get quite loud when all of them were together. His cheeks heated at the thought of being overheard, but who really gave a fuck. His boys knew, and they seemed cool with it, so what did Isak care about anyone else? Maybe if he thought it loud enough he'd have an easier time believing it.
“Sounds pretty gay,” Magnus confirmed, making Jonas and Mahdi laugh.
“Oh, well, there you have it, Isak,” Mahdi drawled. “Magnus says you're gay.”
“Phew,” Isak said, pretending to wipe sweat off his forehead. “It's really been bugging me.”
It was meant to be a joke, but by the sudden silence and soft smiles that fell over his friends' faces, Isak guessed he'd let that sound a little bit too true. He ducked his head against the blush he was sure was visible on his cheeks by now.
“Anyway, why were you talking about this mysterious Even before we got here?” Magnus asked.
“Because Issy's disgustingly gone for him,” Jonas teased, earning himself a shove in the shoulder across the table.
“Even doodles on Isak's coffeecups in the mornings and he's keeping all of them,” Jonas went on, undeterred.
“He's only been doing it this week,” Isak clarified. “It's not like I have a hoard of to-go coffeeshop cups at home.”
“Not yet,” Jonas said. “But if he keeps doing it, you're going to by the end of the month.”
Isak stopped short at that, because. Yeah. He probably would. That was true.
“Maybe I won't keep them all,” he said instead.
“Right,” he said. “Face it, Isak, you're a sentimental little shit.”
Isak only rolled his eyes, and took a sip of water from today's cup.
“So when do we get to meet him?” Magnus asked, eyes bright. “I wanna meet the guy who can get Isak to pay attention to something that isn't science.”
“Oi,” Isak complained, but grinned, and then went on, “Not any time soon, anyway. He still thinks I'm vaguely cool, so.”
“Are you saying we cramp your style?” Magnus asked, affronted.
“Well, maybe not Jonas and Mahdi...” Isak allowed, collecting high-fives from both of them.
“Oh, bullshit. I bet you kinda want to bang me,” Magnus said.
Isak immediately wrinkled his nose at the thought, before hastily smoothing it out into a sort of smile that he hoped wasn't too condescending. Sure, making fun of Magnus was part of their whole group routine thing, but he didn't actually want to really hurt his feelings. Jonas, it seemed, had caught Isak's knee-jerk reaction, grinning into the sleeve of his sweatshirt.
“Um, no,” Isak said.
“What? Come on,” Magnus said, wounded puppy eyes not really going with the topic at hand.
“Sorry, Mags, but, er, you're not my type,” Isak said.
Jonas was hiding an ever bigger grin in his sleeve and Mahdi's head was ducked suspiciously far over his waffles.
“Bullshit,” Magnus repeated. “Okay. Out of us three, who would you fuck first, if you had to?”
Isak stared at Magnus for a second, then stared at Mahdi and Jonas, who had both turned to him with expressions of vague curiousity. Right. He wasn't getting out of this, then.
“Jonas,” he said, pushing down the embarrassed heat at memories of his former crush on his best friend.
“Obviously,” Jonas grinned, giving Isak another high-five.
“Alright,” Magnus said with an eyeroll as though he was convincing himself Isak had only said it because Jonas was, after all, his best friend. “But second?”
“Aw,” Isak said, laying a careful hand on Magnus' arm. “That would be you…”
Magnus beamed, and Isak turned to Mahdi.
“… Mahdi,” he finished.
Mahdi laughed and pointed a mocking finger at Magnus before throwing up a self-satisfied peace sign.
Magnus huffed and crossed his arms.
“You're being mean. Why doesn't anyone want to fuck me?”
“You're just not my type, Magnus. It's fine,” Isak laughed, patting him on the arm a little awkwardly. “And you're a little too desperate.”
“What the hell? Desperate? I'm super chill!” Magnus insisted.
Isak turned wide eyes to Mahdi and Jonas.
“You're not that chill,” Jonas said.
“You're not even a little chill,” Mahdi said with a shake of his head. “I can't count the number of times you've mentioned Vilde today on both my hands, and it's only lunch.”
“Well. But. She's, like, really hot,” Magnus insisted.
“I'm gonna run out of toes soon,” Mahdi warned, earning a grin and a laugh from Isak and Jonas.
“You just need to calm down a little, then you're golden,” Jonas assured him.
Magnus turned his questioning glance on Isak, mouth twisted as though he was thinking something through.
“I mean, you're not into girls, so I don't know how good your advice would be, but you're also the only one of us seeing someone right now,” he said and then nodded at Isak as though encouraging him to dispense some advice.
“I say chill a bit, but who knows? Vilde's quite intense. Maybe she's into it,” Isak said, feeling like anything else would just be kicking Magnus while he was already down.
“Huh,” Magnus said, and leaned back in his chair, staring off into the middle distance. “Maybe you're onto something.”
Friday, November 3rd, 7:50
I have the flat to myself this weekend – want to stay over?
No pressure either way. I just want to spend time with you.
Sap. I'll have to do some homework though
Aw, that's fine. You're so studious. ❤
All these 6s don't fall from trees
My boy's smart
You're a dork
When are you done at school?
13:10. I'm already out the door so I'll come get my stuff after school and then come pick you up?
See you in a bit
Saturday, November 4th, 15:15
“So, how did you end up in a shared apartment?” Even asked, carding a hand through Isak's hair where his head was pillowed on Even's stomach.
They'd spent almost all of the day in Even's bed, alternating between making out and talking about any- and everything. Currently, Even lay sprawled out, and Isak was curled up on his side, head on Even's stomach, facing towards Even's head, who was staring at the ceiling above them.
“It's, um, a bit of a story,” he said. He wasn't sure he really wanted to shared the details of that with Even yet. At least not all of them. They weren't pretty details, after all.
“Is there an abridged version?” Even teased, tilting his head so he could look down at Isak.
“One night last spring I was out at a bar, completely hammered, and Eskild found me. I refused to go home and he took me back to the flat. Then… bla bla bla, and now I live there. The End,” he said.
“Wow, that really was abridged,” Even said, tracing a fingers along the contours of Isak's face. “Why didn't you want to go home?”
“It was just shit. My dad had just left my mum and it was just… stress,” Isak said, trying to keep his face neutral and hoping against hope that Even wouldn't ask any further questions.
Even hummed thoughtfully, and then sat up to better be able to press a kiss to Isak's hair, Isak's head slipping down onto Even's thighs at the movement.
“Sorry you went through that,” Even said. “We don't have to talk about it.”
“I just… not yet, yeah?” Isak said, looking up at Even.
Even nodded and leaned down to peck him on the forehead. “Do you still see your parents?”
“Not much,” Isak said, and pulled Even down with a hand around his neck to better kiss him.
Even took the hint and stopped the questioning in favour of more kissing.
Monday, November 6th, 7:06
“You really didn't have to leave with me,” Even said, for about the fourth time.
Isak rolled his eyes at him and shoved his hands deeper into his pockets to stave off the cold.
“What, was I supposed to laze around another hour in your bed by myself?” he asked.
Even waggled his eyebrows at him.
“Can't say I don't like the thought of you in my bed.”
Isak laughed, and hoped the cold hid the heat in his cheeks.
“Even when you're not even there?” he teased.
Even's eyes darkened a little and his tongue poked out of his mouth to moisten his lips as if on instinct. Isak felt his entire body light up with heat at that look, and his mind raced trying to figure out which of the sudden myriad of options Isak could think of put that look on Even's face. He half expected Even to … do something, but instead he turned to face ahead of himself again and swallowed deeply.
“I always like the thought,” he said, voice sunny and expression relaxed, glancing only shortly at Isak.
Isak wasn't sure if he felt relieved or robbed. On the one hand, there was something about Even's confidence and seemingly easy sensuality that made Isak freeze in over-awareness of his own inexperience. On the other hand, that very same thing made Isak feel more relaxed, and, frankly, sexier than he'd ever felt before. There was power in being looked at the way Even looked at him sometimes when they kissed a bit too long, a bit too wet, a bit too close, with their shirts rucked all the way up or thrown off. It made him want to luxuriate in the feeling of their skin touching, their tongues sliding together, Even's breath hot on his face, or neck, or chest.
“Well, I can always come over after school, and you can look at me lie in your bed for a bit,” Isak suggested.
“Don't you have homework?” he asked.
“So I'll lie on my front,” Isak said with a shrug, and this time Even didn't spare him the high arch of his eyebrow as he shot him a look.
Isak resolutely did not look away, even as he could feel his cheeks heat at the unintended double-entendre.
Even's grin grew slowly, until he finally shook his head to himself.
“You're a menace,” he said.
Isak nodded with faux gravitas. “I've been told.”
“By whom?” Even asked, head cocked to the side in interest.
“Oh, just about everyone,” Isak replied, vaguely.
“Everyone? My, my, Isak,” Even teased, and Isak winked at him in return.
Even laughed, and bumped their shoulders together.
Looking up at his face lit up with that smile that seemed to sit there almost constantly, Isak felt the desire to lean up and kiss him itch from the tips of his fingers all the way down to the tips of his toes. There was still a bit of that cold, familiar fear churning low in his gut, making him hesitate, and shrink inwards, but there was also the brightness burning around every memory of having kissed Even in the coffeeshop before. So Isak leaned up and pressed their lips together and then pulled his hand out of his pocket decisively, and grabbed Even's, lacing their fingers together. He held on maybe a little too tightly, but Even squeezed his hand back.
Tuesday, November 7th, 8:12
Not coming in this morning, sorry :(
Got some biology stuff to take care of before class. My partner will literally actually kill me if I don't show up in time.
Don't die ❤
Wednesday, November 8th, 7:59
Isak really should probably cut down on his tea-buying, now that the cute barista behind the counter was also the cute boy he was dating. His budget wasn't exactly a fan of his spending habits, but it seemed strange to walk into the coffeeshop and then get in line, as he often had to, only to lean over the counter to kiss Even and then leave again. Even was at work there. The least Isak could do was not make a spectacle out of them, probably. It was one thing for Isak to sit at an empty table and for Even to come over to sit with him when he had a moment in the afternoon, but it was another for Isak to hold up business, wasn't it?
So, Isak came in early, lingered by the counter when he could, and kissed Even as much as time permitted. And, without fail, he drank a cup of tea every morning. Even was still doodling on the cups he prepared in anticipation of Isak stopping by as well, and he always seemed so proud of himself when he handed it over and Isak looked the doodles over quickly before pecking him on the lips. It was their thing, and Isak didn't really want to stop doing it.
“You're early today,” Even said, lips brushing Isak's as he talked.
“I wanted to see you,” Isak mumbled. Even had had plans for the previous afternoon, and while twenty-four hours weren't a long time to go without seeing someone by anyone's standards, Isak still wanted to make sure he'd have time for at least one proper kiss this morning before school.
So he got up early, kissed Even firmly over the counter, and then let him pull him behind it for another, even firmer kiss.
“I'm glad,” Even said and kissed Isak again. “I wouldn't mind if you made it a habit.”
Isak grinned, and pushed Even away a little when he saw someone enter the coffeeshop over Even's shoulder.
“Do your job. I can stay another fifteen minutes.”
Thursday, November 9th, 14:36
“You look a bit stressed,” Even said, startling Isak out of his contemplation of his mother's latest text.
“What?” he asked, putting his phone down and attempting to smooth out his expression as he looked up at Even.
“Are you okay?” Even asked, setting down a glass of water for Isak, the same way he always did when Isak sat down and seemed to settle in for some studying. There were only twenty minutes of Even's shift left, but that wasn't a reason for Isak not to look over his English assignment.
“Yeah, I'm okay. Why wouldn't I be?” Isak asked.
Even shrugged. “Well, your phone was seconds from bursting into flames with the way you were glaring at it.”
“Was I?” Isak asked, feigning surprise. “I didn't notice. It was just Jonas about homework.”
“Wow, you must really hate that homework then,” Even laughed.
It was easy to grin back to a sound as wonderful as Even's laugh, so Isak did.
“I do. German is the worst.”
“It is,” Even agreed. “That's why I took French. Which, to be honest, isn't much better. What's the point of a grammar rule if you're going to have a thousand exceptions?”
“I bet French and German kids don't have to struggle with Norwegian class,” Isak complained.
“We can rub it in their faces. We know all the languages they do plus Norwegian.”
“I'd rather just never have to do German homework again,” Isak said.
Even patted his shoulder in commiseration.
“Drink lots of water,” he said, and then ambled back over to the counter.
“How is that going to help?” Isak called after him.
“Hydration, Isak! It's important,” Even called back with a grin.
Saturday, November 11th, 13:13
“I can't believe you've finished all your homework for the week during the actual week,” Even said for about the third time.
“I have better things to do on the weekend,” Isak said, kneeling down on the bed beside Even and handing him one of the glasses of water he'd fetched from the kitchen.
“Yeah?” Even asked with a grin, taking the glass and then a sip of water.
Isak nodded as he set his own glass down beside the bed.
“Yeah. Why would I want to do homework when we can just lie in bed instead and make out?”
“I mean, far be it from me to deter you,” Even said, setting his own glass down and then drawing Isak back down to lie beside him on the bed. “Oh, and your mum texted.”
Isak felt his body tense, freezing halfway down onto the mattress to lie beside Even. There must've been something in the look he had fixed on Even that made him shrink a little.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to, like, snoop or anything. I just heard the text tone and leaned over to check which one of us it was for, and it was right there on your screen, so…” he explained. “But I didn't read it or anything!”
“No, no, I know. It's fine. Sorry,” Isak said, pulling a smile onto his face from the depths of his racing mind. Even hadn't read it. It couldn't have looked too odd at first glance, otherwise he'd probably be asking about it. “I was just surprised.”
Isak made himself lie down and snuggle up to Even, rubbing his face on the fabric of his hoodie to calm his nerves.
“Yeah, it's fine,” Isak said.
“You're not gonna text back?” Even asked next, arm coming up to wrap around Isak's shoulders again.
“No, I'll do it later,” Isak mumbled, the line of his spine still too tense and rigid not to be a tell-tale sign of how things were, against his assertion, Not Fine. He sort of wanted to turn to Even and kiss him into distraction again, but he was sure it wouldn't work this time. If he tried, he'd only make Even suspicious, so he'd just have to convincingly pretend it was all no big deal and hope that Even went with it.
“You don't think it might be important?” Even asked, clearly trying to coax more information out of Isak.
He was only being kind, Isak knew that. There was no way for Even to know anything about Isak's relationship with his mother, or his father, or his mother and father. He hadn't told him anything about them. And he'd done it deliberately. They weren't any of Even's concern. He didn't want them to be any of Even's concern. Even had enough on his plate with his job and breaking up with his girlfriend of four years for some schoolboy he'd known for all of a few weeks. What was Isak supposed to say? “By the way, I think my mother is literally insane and I have no idea how to have a relationship with her without running myself into the ground, and my father abandoned us both”? Hardly.
“No,” he said, a bit testy. Please, please, just let it go.
“But, you don't speak to her much, right? So--” Even started, but Isak felt his gut twist one too many sharp turns around itself and sat up, staring down at him, gaze and mouth set. He grabbed his phone and tossed it at Even, letting it smack him in the chest.
“It's never important, okay? Because my mother literally texts me nothing but Bible verses. Because she's actually, genuinely crazy,” he said.
Even stared back at him, calm and guarded under Isak's glare, the tight set of his mouth, and the curled fists at his side. Isak wished he could be more calm about this, but this was too soon, Even wasn't supposed to find out about this, Isak didn't even know how to deal with all of this by himself, let alone let someone else in on it.
“Crazy how?” Even asked, looking at him instead of taking Isak up in the implicit offer of looking at the phone himself for proof of what Isak was saying.
Isak deflated a little. That wasn't the worst reaction he could've gotten.
“Crazy like she thinks angels are about to whisk us away to atone for our sins and also Donald Trump is my uncle,” he said, quietly, looking at Even from underneath his lashes and trying to gauge his reaction.
Even looked back, as though he was maybe waiting for more. Or maybe just thinking about what to say.
“Donald Trump's not my uncle, by the way,” Isak felt the need to joke, but it came out weak and half-hearted. Even did him the favour of smiling a little.
“Phew,” he said. “That would've been a deal-breaker.”
“I should hope so,” Isak mumbled without thinking, and that got him a slightly firmer smile.
“So you don't talk to her at all?” Even asked, hesitating slightly.
Isak shrugged, trying to project more conviction than he really felt.
“I tried, at first. But she's not really there. She doesn't really respond. There's just no point with her like this,” he said.
“Okay,” Even said, quietly.
Isak sighed and let his shoulders slump.
“Can we not talk about my mother, please?” he asked, feeling smaller by the moment.
“Okay,” Even repeated, and opened his arm for Isak to lie down with him again.
Sunday, November 12th, 9:14
Sorry for running out on you. My mum called, I totally forgot I have this thing with her today!
Okay. Have fun with her! ❤
Monday, November 13th, 8:03
Hey, you're not at work? Are you okay? ❤
Monday, November 13th, 11:07
Yes, I'm fine. Just a family thing.
Tuesday, November 14th, 8:25
“He wasn't there today either?” Jonas asked, clocking Isak's empty hands shoved into the pockets of his jacket.
“No,” Isak said and forced a shrug.
“You really think he's avoiding you?”
“I don't know,” Isak said, falling into step beside Jonas on the way to their first class of the day. “Saturday was weird after what happened with my mum texting. And then he wasn't there on Sunday, and I know he gave me a reason, but, like, he completely blanked me on Monday, right?”
“Yeah,” Jonas hummed in agreement, eyebrows furrowed in contemplation. “But it doesn't make sense. You were super loved up before that.”
“I don't know what's going on,” Isak said. “Maybe I'm just overreacting. Maybe he really does just have family stuff going on. I mean, I should know about how that can fuck you over.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Jonas said, sounding about as convinced as Isak felt.
Shit. Had he really messed this thing up so quickly?
Wednesday, November 16th, 10:07
“I get that Jonas is your best friend, but Magnus and I worry about you too. You can tell us if something's bothering you,” Mahdi said, standing by Isak's locker as he waited for him to get his books for his upcoming German class.
Isak froze in his movements, stunned.
“I'm just saying,” Mahdi said with a shrug and a bit of an embarrassed smile when Isak looked over at him. “We know something's going on with you, and, just, if you wanted to rant, or more than just Jonas' perspective, we're here for your too, bro, yeah?”
Isak smiled as a rush of warmth overcame him at the offer.
“Yeah, thanks,” he said.
Mahdi grinned back.
“It's just stuff with Even,” Isak said, finally pulling his German stuff out of the locker and pushing it shut maybe a little too forcefully.
“You two not good?” Mahdi asked, setting off down the hall.
Isak sighed. “I don't know? He's been avoiding me, I think. But he gave me a reason so I can't figure out if I'm being paranoid or justified.”
Mahdi hummed contemplatively.
“Maybe give it a couple days, and then reach out to him? See how he reacts then?” Mahdi suggested. “You don't wanna come off as that paranoid, clingy type.”
Isak sighed deeply and then grimaced at Mahdi.
“But what if I am the paranoid, clingy type?”
Mahdi laughed. “Then you've gotta work on that. Chill, bro.”
Thursday, November 17th, 8:13
Isak had almost not expected to see Even this morning, so when Even was stood behind the counter, looking exactly like he always did, Isak faltered for a moment. Then Even looked up from the customer he was serving, no smile, but a shadowed sort of recognition on his face, and Isak steeled himself and walked up to the counter.
“Hi,” he said, quietly, when it was his turn.
“Hi,” Even said back, pushing a be-doodled cup of Earl Grey across the counter towards Isak like a peace offering.
Isak couldn't help the small relieved smile at it, and when he looked up at Even, his face seemed softer than just a moment ago as well.
“On me,” Even said, before Isak could even try to pay.
Isak wanted to protest, because this felt too much like they were fighting, like Even was giving him gifts instead of explanations, but someone cleared their throat pointedly behind Isak, so he took a step to the side and let Even do his job.
Friday, November 18th, 8:25
“Tea only again?” Jonas asked, when Isak slumped down onto the seat next to him.
“Ugh,” Isak confirmed.
“Rough,” Mahdi said from his place at the desk behind them. Magnus nodded with wide, round puppy eyes.
Despite everything, Isak couldn't help smiling a little and thinking that only a month ago, he wouldn't have had this. He could have, certainly, but he'd denied himself the sort of easy camaraderie that came with not lying to your friends about what shit was weighing you down. Even if the whole thing with Even wouldn't work out, it felt good that he'd made the right choice by coming clean to them, at least.
“Listen, I know I don't know the dude, but, like, don't let him play you, yeah?” Jonas said.
“Play me?” Isak asked, both eyebrows up.
“Yeah. He's been blanking you for a week now, but he still gives you these lovey-dovey art cups? He's gotta make up his mind.”
“Well, I can't make up his mind for him, can I,” Isak sighed, tapping a finger against one of the kittens on the cup. It was licking its paw. There was a bow on its head, like the girl one from Aristocats.
“Yeah, no, but you can let him know that your mind's made up,” Jonas said.
“Yeah, that's true,” Mahdi chimed in. “Tell him you want to talk it out, whatever this is. That you're not playing this silent waiting game.”
“Yeah, exactly,” Jonas said. “Just straight up. 'If you wanna talk about something, talk to me, dude.'”
“Talk to me, dude?” Isak mocked, making Jonas roll his eyes.
“Well, not those exact words, maybe,” he said.
Isak sighed. “Yeah. Okay. I see what you mean.”
Friday, November 18th, 16:46
Thanks for the tea. Can we talk again soon?
Sunday, November 20th, 18:27
I know it's down to me, but maybe we went into this a bit quick. I'm sorry, I just need some time to figure this out.
Monday, November 21st, 16:47
“What do you mean, he needs time to figure this out?” Jonas asked, disbelief clear in his face as they all walked down to their respective tram stations after school.
“That's what he said,” Isak said, shrugging and kicking at the ground a little.
He'd turned the text over and over in his head. It just didn't make any sense. Even was right, it was down to him that they'd started this whole thing at all. He was the one to ask Isak to the party. He was the one to invite him to pregame just the two of them. He was the one who kissed Isak first, and he was the one who broke up with his girlfriend. Sure, Isak had at no point protested, but he hadn't pushed for it either. So why did Even suddenly need time to 'figure this out' now?
“But, like, he's had a week,” Magnus pointed out, strolling along on Isak's other side. “It's not that hard, right? Either he wants to bang you, or he doesn't.”
“Thanks, Mags,” Isak said with a roll of his eyes, while Mahdi shoved Magnus' shoulder.
“What?” Magnus asked, stumbling a little before righting himself again.
“This isn't about a hook-up, dickhead,” Mahdi said. “Isak wants this guy to be his boyfriend.”
“I know that!” Magnus insisted, flustered. “I'm just saying, what else is he gonna figure out by himself? If he's got things he's wondering about, it'd be much better to actually ask Isak about them.”
Isak blinked, feeling a bit mean for being so surprised by how much sense that made.
“Wow, Magnus, I'm impressed,” Jonas said. “You're actually quite cool.”
“Well, duh,” Magnus said. “Are you just figuring this out? Why else have you been hanging out with me?”
“Pity, Magnus,” Mahdi said with a shit-eating grin and slung an arm around Magnus' shoulders, who squawked in outrage.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 7:32
Only you can think what you think, but only I can think what I think. So if what you're trying to figure out is about us, you won't be able to do it alone.
I'm not coming in today.
Can we talk? What are you doing this afternoon?
Alright. I can come pick you up at work? 15h?
Yes, alright. Thank you.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 15:15
Even had waited out front the coffeeshop with two cups in his hands. It was incredibly unfair, Isak thought, that even though he could see that Even was nervous himself, was shifting his weight from one leg to the other as he waited, and his hair was less perfectly arranged than usual, he still looked so striking. He still took Isak's breath away and for a moment, he made Isak forget all about the nervous snakes slithering around inside his belly.
“Hi,” he said when Isak came to stand next to him, offering him one of the cups, along with a tentative smile. “It's hot chocolate this time.”
Isak carefully raised one eyebrow, but took the offered drink, hoping his hands weren't shaking.
“Is this going to be a chocolate kind of conversation?” he asked, nerves pulling tighter in his stomach.
“Chocolate is always nice,” he said, vaguely, and then nodded his head to the side. “You wanna go sit in the park to talk?”
“Its freezing and it'll be dark in, like, ten minutes,” Isak pointed out.
Even only shrugged again.
“Ah, fuck it. Fine,” Isak said, and fell into step beside Even.
It was only a ten minute walk, but it was possibly the most awkward ten minutes Isak had ever spent, or so he thought until he sat down next to Even on the park bench, silent for another few minutes. Or maybe it wasn't actually that long, but it felt like an eternity.
At least the hot chocolate was thick and warm; comforting in the way it scalded Isak's tongue a little.
“I'm sorry,” Even finally said. He was looking straight ahead, but Isak could make out the tense line of his mouth even in the last moments of twilight.
He carefully took another sip of his drink and looked at the side of Even's face for a moment or two before replying.
“For what exactly?”
“Pushing you away. That wasn't fair. I should have… I should have just talked to you,” Even said.
Isak nodded, even though Even still wasn't looking at him and sighed deeply. This sounded like they could work through whatever happened, at least. It didn't sound like Even wanted to break up with him, a thought he'd been trying really hard not to have over the past week.
“I don't understand,” he said. “What happened? What did I do?”
Even took a deep breath and released it slowly, tilting his head back to stare up into the darkening sky. His breath fogged in front of his lips like smoke, and Isak couldn't help thinking back to sitting in Even's room and talking about any- and everything that came to mind. There had been something about Even that day, about their conversation, that had seemed odd. Maybe if Isak had paid more attention to that instead of the butterflies in his belly…
“I'm bipolar,” Even said, turning his face back down and towards Isak.
The street lights flickered on, shadows made harsher, but the light brighter than the last vestiges of natural twilight had been. Even's lips were chapped, and his forehead pimply and irritated. His hair looked messy, and his eyes kept flitting over Isak's face like he was waiting for a reaction. His shoulders were tense, like he was bracing for one.
Isak didn't know what to say.
“Is that why…?” he asked, carefully, trying to smooth out the furrow he could feel forming in his brow.
“No,” Even said immediately, sagging a little. “I wasn't having an episode.”
“Okay. You're okay?” Isak asked.
Even looked at him for a moment longer, and then huffed another sigh and turned away. This time Isak frowned. Was that not an okay thing to ask?
“I can't tell what you mean by that question,” Even said, staring down at the drink in his hands.
“I mean 'are you okay'. How are you feeling?” Isak said, still frowning. He couldn't shake the feeling that Even and he were having two completely different conversations.
“Yeah, but do you mean right now? In general? Am I still a functioning fucking person because my brain is a little messed up?” Even pushed, fixing Isak with what was almost a glare.
“What the fuck? I never said that,” Isak protested, feeling his cheeks go hot with it. “I literally just wanted to know how you're doing! In case you're wondering, I'm hurt. And confused. And I really like you but I still don't understand what's happening here!”
Even wiped a hand over his face and then looked at Isak again, taking a moment to study his face before he spoke.
“When I was at yours, that Saturday. When your mother texted,” he started, waiting for Isak's nod to confirm he was following before he went on. “You said there was no point talking to her when she's 'like that'. Like me. It struck a nerve, Isak.”
Isak deflated instantly, shoulders sagging, and falling back against the backrest of the bench, staring up into the dark sky for a few moments. It was always strange, looking at the sky in between street lamps, Isak thought. They were so bright your eyes couldn't even see all the way up to reach the darkness of the sky. Everything always felt smaller. More caged in. Like the inside of a snow globe.
“Fuck,” he said.
Even huffed a breath that may have been a laugh.
“It just seemed so… easy for you to dismiss her. And she's your mother,” he said. “I'm just some boy you kissed a little.”
Isak sat back up, bristling a bit, but trying not to. The last time they'd talked about his mother had obviously gone as wrong as it possibly could, so this time he needed to. Whatever. Be less defensive. Not try to keep anything from Even, which he probably should have known to do in the first place.
“Let me explain,” he said. “It's not like that, okay? I'm sorry for what I said, about her. And I'm sorry for how much that must've hurt you, but that's not what I meant. Okay?”
Even shrugged and made a vague gesture as if to invite Isak to continue.
“My mum isn't like you,” Isak said. “You… you have a diagnosis, yeah? You know what it is you're dealing with?”
Even nodded curtly when Isak waited for confirmation.
“And you're doing something about it. Not, like, to make it go away. I understand that's not how it works. But you're trying to live with it. Integrate it into your life instead of letting it run your life for you,” Isak said, and then suddenly thought back to their first evening together again, corners of his mouth moving a little. “You're the director of your life.”
Even blinked at him, taken aback, and then smiled – small, but soft and sincere. The one that Isak hadn't seen yet today. The one that had made him trip over his feet for weeks before Even even talked to him. The one that always pulled one of his own to the surface.
“Yeah,” Even said softly, and then shrugged. “It was hard, you now. To get to this point. I almost fucked everything up last year.”
“So we agree that last year was shit, then,” Isak said, earning himself a half-amused snort.
“Yeah, last year was shit,” Even confirmed.
“Yeah, so. My mum, she… she's not diagnosed. She refuses to get help. And my dad refuses to get her help,” Isak went on.
A shadow of understanding crept in on Even's expression, and Isak bit the inside of his cheek hard as he tried to pick the right words to go on explaining.
“I know that it's not her fault she's like this, but. I couldn't live with her by myself after my dad left. I couldn't do it. I never knew who she would be when I saw her next. Sometimes she'd stand by my bed in the middle of the night and start chanting prayers, and I know that sounds harmless, but it's terrifying, actually,” Isak said, shrinking it on himself. He'd never actually told someone all of this at once. Jonas had learned it bit by bit as it was happening, and since then Isak had always avoided talking about it. Saying it all out loud like this, one thing right after another, made it sound, if possible, more intense. Or maybe just like he was realising how intense it really was.
Even seemed like he wanted to reach out, but didn't. Isak was oddly glad for it. He needed to say all this first.
“I couldn't sleep anymore, like to the point where I wouldn't sleep more than two or three hours a night. I got sick, I got into fights, my grades dropped. This one time I came home and she was carving up her arms with the kitchen knives, ranting about needing to let the angels know that she was ready for them, and I had to call an ambulance 'cause she was bleeding so much.”
“Shit,” Even said quietly.
“Yeah. It was,” Isak agreed. “At least dad agreed I couldn't live with her alone after that. I was just… overwhelmed. Google's only so helpful when you're sixteen and trying to figure out what the fuck is going on with your mum, you know?”
“You shouldn't have had to do any of that by yourself,” Even said.
“Yeah,” Isak said. “And, like, when she agrees to get help, I want to be there for her, but at the moment, she's hardly ever… I don't know. Lucid? I don't know if any of what I say even makes it through to her. Sometimes I feel like it does, but most of the time... Anyway. That's why I said there's no point answering her ranty texts.”
“Fuck,” Even said. “I really should have just talked to you.”
Isak couldn't help the bout of laughter at the dry tone, but he shook his head regardless.
“No, I get why you pulled back. I shouldn't have said what I did regardless. I felt pushed into a corner, but still. If it had gone the other way around I would've been terrified too,” Isak said, and then reached out to grab one of Even's hands.
Even looked down at it and then up at Isak, curling his fingers around Isak's.
“The thing with my mother is… she's my mother. She's supposed to take care of me, you know? You're not my mother, you're my boyfriend. You and me, we're supposed to be on equal footing. And I want to support you how I can, and I want to be able to lean on you if shit gets heavy, but it's not the same. And you're dealing with it; she isn't. This is a completely different situation.”
Even let the words sink in for a while before he spoke again.
“I'm your boyfriend, am I?” he said, eyes sparkling a little again.
“That's what you took from all of that?” Isak asked, faking a little more disbelief than he felt to cover up the harsh beat of his heart. He hadn't really meant to say that part, but now that it was out there he didn't want to take it back either.
“Well, I've wanted to be your boyfriend since the first time you walked into the coffeeshop, so excuse me if I get a little excited,” Even said.
“Seriously?” Isak asked, no ounce of his disbelief faked this time around. The very first time? The thought that all the time that Isak had been sneaking shy glances at the cute barista behind the counter, the barista had been looking back at him just seemed a little too good to be true.
“Yeah,” Even said simply.
“Well,” Isak said, at a loss for words. “Congratulations?”
This time it was Even who laughed, and the smooth sound of it settled something in Isak. He felt his shoulders drop as though a huge weight had fallen off them, and suddenly the tightness in his stomach started to feel like hunger, instead of the impossibly tight knot of impending doom.
“Yeah. I got lucky,” Even said, smiling softly.
“I'm really sorry for dragging this out so much. I worked my ass off last year to get to where I am, to be the director of my life," he went on, giving Isak a significant look. Isak couldn't help but smile back. They were finally on the same page. "It was scary, how much that one comment of yours shook me up, how scared I was of losing you.”
“You're gonna have to try harder than that to get rid of me,” Isak promised, fingers firm where they were wrapped around Even's still.
“I might,” Even said, chewing on his lip. “It's not pretty when I'm in the middle of an episode. Either version of it.”
Isak nodded and bit his lip a little.
“Is it selfish if I ask we shelf that talk for, I don't know. Just twenty-four hours maybe?” he asked.
Even grinned and squeezed his hand.
“No, that's fine. We'll take this one day and one mental illness at a time,” he said.
“Okay. I can do that,” Isak said, relieved. “I want to understand, and to learn, but I'm--”
“Exhausted?” Even suggested.
“Yeah. And I've still got a fucking German assignment to do,” Isak complained.
Even laughed and got up from the bench, one hand still holding on to Isak, the other one bringing up his by now probably cold chocolate to take a sip.
“Come on, I'll walk you home,” he said.
“You don't have to do that,” Isak said, but got up and let Even start walking them back out of the park.
“Let your boyfriend walk you home, Isak, come on.”
Isak smiled to himself and ducked his head into his own cup of lukewarm chocolate. Boyfriend. He hadn't ruined this.
“Yeah, alright. I can do that.”
Wednesday, November 23rd, 12:44
cat hook-up and friends
Jonas: Isak update: still grinning
I have a boyfriend and he's hot and sweet. You're not ruining this for me.
Saturday, November 26th, 11:11
“Good morning,” Even said when Isak blinked sleepy eyes open, face close enough it should have startled Isak but somehow didn't. Instead it only made him smile.
“Morning,” he said, tilted his head to brush his nose against Even's, grinning back at the big smile that lit up Even's entire face. He smiled so openly, every muscle in his face rearranging to accommodate his joy. It was beautiful and infectious, and Isak felt a twinge of pride every time he made it happen.
Even tilted his head down and kissed Isak softly, both of them still sleepy enough to spare not a single thought to morning breath.
“You want to get up? I'll make us breakfast,” Even suggested.
Isak hummed thoughtfully, still a little too comfortable in the warm bed with Even so close to really want to get up. But his stomach was pulling tight at the mention of food, and his bladder was waking up to let him know he should probably really get with the whole idea of being conscious soon.
“Alright,” he said. “But under protest.”
“Of course,” Even grinned, and kissed Isak again.
This one dragged on a little, Even's hand landing on Isak's cheek with his thumb stroking over the highest arch of it, and Isak's hand inching forward underneath the duvet to touch the sleep-warm skin of Even's chest.
“This isn't really convincing me to get up,” Isak mumbled when Even relinquished his lips again.
“Well, I'm gonna go take me and my kisses into the kitchen now,” Even said, laughing when Isak grumbled.
“Convinced yet?” Even asked, slipping out of bed and grabbing a pair of sweatpants from the floor to pull on. They were Isak's, actually. Grey, and just a touch too short on Even's legs, not the black pair Even had brought with him when he came over yesterday. Isak leaned over and snatched up Even's burgundy red t-shirt before he could pull it on, grinning at him when Even rolled his eyes.
“You like me in your clothes?” he teased.
Isak shrugged and sat up to pull the t-shirt on before he kicked off the blanket and deliberately flopped back down onto the bed, hair messy and shirt rucked up over his hips just a little from the careless movement.
“You don't?” he asked, clocking the way Even's eyes trailed up over his legs and boxer briefs with a pleased smile.
“I do,” Even said, when their eyes met at last. “Red looks good on you.”
Isak sat back up and tilted his head up, lashes falling over his eyes a little, and lips parting in anticipation. He'd never expected it to be so easy to let his face go soft and ask for kisses without words.
Even smiled and leaned down to kiss him again, letting Isak wrap his arms around his neck, but pulling away when he attempted to pull him back into bed.
“Nuh-uh. Breakfast first,” he insisted.
Isak sighed, but then reached for Even's black sweatpants.
“Fine,” he conceded, watching Even pull on his Simpsons t-shirt while he put on Even's sweatpants. It was a bit ridiculous, probably, and showy. But Isak's chest still felt swollen with all the affection and smug pride at being able to call Even his now, truly, so he couldn't quite bring himself to mind.
He grabbed his phone and then padded out of the room after Even, steering him through the flat with a hand low on his back, while he checked his phone for messages.
Hi. I've bought tickets to the Christmas concert at Sagene church next week. I was thinking you and I could take mum, that would mean a lot to her.
“You okay?” Even asked, looking over his shoulder at Isak.
Isak smoothed out his frown, shut off the screen of his phone and sighed.
“Dad,” he said. “He wants me to go to a Christmas concert at church next week with him and Mum.”
Even raised an eyebrow at the news, but busied himself grabbing eggs from the fridge while Isak plopped down onto one of the chairs.
“Can I use these?” he asked.
“Sure, yeah. I'll just replace them,” Isak said.
“Is your shelf the empty one then?” Even teased.
“Shut up,” Isak said with a grin. “We can go shopping later, if you want. If you're staying the weekend we'll have to anyway.”
“Grocery shopping? Very domestic,” Even teased.
“You're literally making us breakfast right now,” Isak pointed out, getting up from the chair to make his way over to Even by the counter. He left his phone on the table.
“I am, aren't I,” Even hummed and smiled when Isak kissed him on the cheek before hopping up on the counter.
“How am I supposed to work when you're taking up the work space?” he complained.
“Be creative,” Isak shrugged, unrepentant. “Or you can pay me in kisses, and I might leave you alone.”
“Terrible idea,” Even said immediately. “Why would I want you to leave me alone?”
“Hm, I thought you were going to make breakfast?” Isak asked.
“You'll have to choose. Kisses or breakfast.”
“Terrible idea,” Isak echoed with a grin. “I choose both.”
“Insatiable,” Even said with a fake put-upon sigh, but let Isak wrap his arms around his neck again to pull him in between his legs for another kiss.
One of Even's hands curled around Isak's hip, fingers slipping up under his t-shirt to brush over his skin before settling, lips smacking together over and over as he leaned forward until the back of Isak's head bumped gently against the overhead cabinet behind him. They stayed like that, trading chaste and deep kisses as they pleased, the eggs and breakfast forgotten in favour of the soft heat between them.
“Far be it from me to tell you to stop, under different circumstances, but Isak you know how Noora feels about people sitting on the kitchen counter,” Eskild suddenly said into the quiet, startling them apart.
“She lets Eva sit here,” Isak complained, ducking his head down so his forehead rested on Even's shoulder. Even brushed his nose into the side of Isak's hair and then pinched his hip playfully.
“Hop off and I'll make those eggs; how about it?” he murmured.
“Fine,” Isak agreed, leaning in for a final peck before he gently pushed Even backwards and slid off the counter. Even turned back to the eggs, and Isak turned to Eskild, who was looking Even up and down and then gave Isak a grinning double thumbs up.
Isak grinned back. That about summed it up.
Sunday, November 27th, 16:25
Even though they'd spent an entire weekend together before, maybe, in a tiny little corner, far in the back of Isak's mind, he had been a tiny little bit worried that they would get bored of each other, sticking together that much without any real interaction with other people, safe for the brief trip to get groceries and occasionally running into Eskild or Noora. But it was late Sunday afternoon now, and they were sitting on the floor of Isak's room with big grins on their faces, trash talking each other terribly badly over FIFA, and Isak still felt like he had swallowed a helium balloon and was perpetually on the verge of lifting up off the ground. Even was taunting Isak about having won the last two out of three matches, but all Isak could really concentrate on was how radiant the blue of his checked shirt that Even had thrown on earlier made his eyes.
“What?” Even finally asked, when he noticed Isak's concentration wasn't exactly on his words.
“You look good in my clothes,” Isak said.
Even grinned and tossed his head like he had hair to flip over a shoulder.
“I look good in anything,” he insisted.
Isak laughed. “Yeah, true.”
Even preened under the praise and got up onto his knees to be able to lean over to Isak for a kiss. When he sat back down, Isak grinned at the spit-sheen on his lips.
“Take a picture, it'll last longer,” Even teased.
“Okay,” Isak said and reached for his phone, snapping a photo just as Even looked back at the TV, about to start another game.
“Great, now come and let me beat you again,” he said.
Isak made an indignant noise and tossed his phone onto the bed behind them before taking his seat by Even's side again.
He'd post the photo to instagram later, maybe, if Even was cool with it.
Monday, November 28th, 7:40
“Have you talked to your dad about the concert yet?” Even asked, rearranging coffeecups while Isak tried not to be in the way behind the counter. He still felt awkward about being here, but Even pushed him into the corner by the till where he wouldn't block his way and kissed him in between customers. Definitely worth getting up earlier, Isak thought.
“No,” Isak sighed.
“Do you want to go?” Even asked, throwing him a look over his shoulder, only turning back to his task when Isak shrugged.
“I don't know. Sort of. Sort of not. I'm mad at him but I also want to see Mum, and if Dad's willing to do something with her that's probably good,” he said.
Even hummed in contemplation and then turned back around to Isak when he'd arranged everything to his satisfaction. He put a hand on Isak's hip, but kept his distance. Isak sort of wanted to pull him closer.
“We don't have to, but if it made it easier, I could come with you?” he suggested.
Isak shrugged a bit helplessly, but then smiled softly at Even.
“Thanks. I'll think about it, yeah?” he said.
“Yeah,” Even said with a smile of his own, putting his second hand on Isak's hip as well, and stepping up into his personal bubble, brushing their noses together.
Isak hummed pleasantly, tilting his head into the kiss he knew was coming. Even after a full weekend of this, the wonder of it hadn't worn off. Kissing Even felt equally as wonderful every single time. Isak supposed that was the honeymoon period, but he couldn't help but hope that this feeling would stay with him beyond that.
Tuesday, November 29th, 12:55
Isak! That's it! I've tried getting a hold of you for days now. I know you're mad at me, and that you probably think I'm a coward for leaving mum, but I couldn't help her. One day I hope you'll understand. I'm trying my best.
Isak took a deep breath, reading his dad's message over twice and chewing on his lip. He probably shouldn't have left his reply so long, but he still wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He could feel the need to pull back, retreat, not confront this, but then he thought of Even, and the good confrontation could do.
Fine. I'll come to the concert with you, but I'm bringing my boyfriend. His name's Even.
His dad's reply came almost too quickly, and Isak felt his stomach go sour with it.
I can't tell if you're joking.
If you've gotten a boyfriend, that's wonderful, but you know how mum is. You wouldn't want to upset her.
The bell rang and Sana sat down next to him, but Isak angled his body and phone to hide it under the desk as long as the teacher was still distracted starting the class and typed a quick reply.
Too bad. I'm there with Even or not at all.
Sana gave him a look when he forcefully shoved his phone back into his pocket, but didn't say anything, as the teacher called them to attention.
Friday, December 2nd, 20:47
“You don't owe it to anyone to come out to them,” Even said gently as he watched Isak turn his phone around and around in his hands. They'd gone out for kebabs, and for some reason it had struck Isak as the right moment to tell his mother. Or maybe the moment he wanted to tell her would be more accurate. He'd felt so happy here, with Even next to him, and warm, slightly greasy food filling his belly, he just wanted her to know. That he was good. Happy.
Isak smiled weakly.
“I want to tell her, though,” he said. “It's just hard, not knowing how she'll react. I knew dad would be okay with it, generally. It's just so much more complicated with Mum.”
“Because of…?” Even started, still guarded about the topic. Isak couldn't exactly blame him.
“Because she's so religious. I don't really understand that, how her belief works. Which parts she's gonna take on and which she isn't,” Isak explained.
Even nodded slowly.
Isak took a deep breath, and then brought up his phone and opened the messaging app.
Hi Mum. I've started seeing a boy. I know that you believe in God and that the Bible says it's a sin, but you don't have to worry, because it also says that God created us all in his image and that everyone is of equal worth. I'm sorry if it makes you sad. Hugs, Isak.
It took him about five times longer than a text of that length should, probably, but Even didn't say anything for the entire time Isak was haltingly typing each word out, only reaching out for his hand when Isak put the phone back into his pocket.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
“Eh,” Isak said, smiling weakly.
Even smiled back and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. He smelled of raw onion.
Isak smiled back.
“Home?” he asked.
Even nodded and got up, pulling Isak along by the hand. He held the door open for Isak, letting go of his hand briefly to let him step through ahead of himself, but as soon as they were back outside, jackets zipped up against the cold and huddled into their scarves and beanies, he reached for it again.
“Your hand's cold, want me to hold it for you?” he asked with that fail of a wink that made Isak melt like ice cream in the sunshine.
Isak laughed, and closed his fingers around Even's.
“Yes, please,” he said.
Saturday, December 3rd, 10:57
Isak woke up, once again, to Even's pretty face on the pillow next to his. He was still sleeping this time though, and since there wasn't any particular measure of light filtering in through the curtains, Isak couldn't tell what time it was. He carefully rolled over to grab his phone to check the time, only to see he'd received a reply from his mother. Heart beating loudly enough he worried about waking Even, he unlocked the phone and opened it.
To Isak, my son. From the first second I saw you on June 21st 1999 at 21:21 I have loved you and I will always love you for all eternity.
Isak squeezed his eyes shut and pressed the phone to his chest, smile pulling at his lips and a tear running over his temple into his ear. He'd deal with that in a minute. For now, he needed to bask in this weightlessness.
“Isak?” Even asked, sleepy.
Isak opened his eyes and wiped the tear away, setting his phone back down on his night stand before turning back onto his side towards Even.
“Everything alright?” he asked, fingers brushing underneath Isak's watery eyes as if to catch any tears before more might escape.
“Perfect,” Isak said.
Friday, December 9th, 20:20
“I feel like you're more nervous meeting your parents than I am,” Even attempted to joke as they walked from the tram station towards the church. They'd taken extra care to get dressed earlier, especially Isak, who'd dug an old, white knit jumper out of the back of his closet that Even had eyed with interest when he'd seen Isak pull it on. They'd both layered up and chosen to go with hoods over beanies after a good ten minutes had been spent teasing each other for how much they both cared about their hair.
“Well, they're strangers to you, but they're my parents,” Isak said. “I'm gonna date you whether they like you or not anyway.”
“Are you?” Even asked, perking up slightly at that.
“Yes. Were you worried?” he asked.
Even shrugged. “They're still your parents.”
“Yes, and they and I have exactly the kind of relationship where their input on my boyfriend matters very much to me,” Isak said, with a teasing grin before his expression slipped back into something a bit more sombre again. “It matters that I have a boyfriend at all, because that would be a rejection of a fundamental part of me. You're just… coincidental.”
“Wow,” Even said, faking hurt with a mitten-ed hand over his heart. Isak couldn't quite get over how adorable he thought those mittens were.
“And here I thought you cared about me,” Even said.
Isak bumped their shoulders together with a grin, but at the look on Even's face, mostly teasing, but also a touch nervous, it softened into a sweet smile.
“I do care about you. A lot,” he said. “I just don't care much what my parents have to say about you. And they're going to love you anyway, charming as you are.”
“You think I'm charming?” Even asked, delighted.
“Hardly,” Isak countered. “But I'm sure others do.”
“You're a prickly little thing,” Even said with a sigh, but he beamed at Isak and leaned in to press a kiss to his lips.
The walk to the church was a short one, and Isak looked around the people standing out front before moving into the building, hand firmly locked with Even's, the wool of his mitten a little scratchy but warm in his own bare hand. He scanned the people taking their seats quickly, almost faltering when he caught sight of his parents. He hadn't seen them in months, especially not together. It was almost surreal to see them here, only weeks before Christmas, the way he'd see them any other year when it was so very obviously not any other year.
“Here goes nothing,” Even said quietly, smiling when Isak looked up at him.
Isak smiled back and nodded his agreement.
“Here goes,” he said, pulling Even over to them.
Well, there we have it. That was it. I hope you enjoyed this little journey into a parallel universe! :)