Isak was sitting at the cafeteria during lunch break with Jakob and Lynn, drawing small circles with his index finger on the lid of the water bottle sitting in front of him.
“We could ask Mari? She’s really nice,” said Lynn.
“We don’t need nice, Lynn. We need fierce. We need ruthless! We need someone hot and charismatic,” said Jakob.
Isak rubbed his eyes and sank further into his chair. Who gives a shit.
“What about André? He’s talented. What do you think, Isak?” said Lynn.
“Uh. Yeah, André’s cool. Whatever,” Isak shrugged.
“What?! André is a fucking know-it-all! He’ll cost us this whole project with that big ego of his. Isak, are you even paying attention?” said Jakob.
Not really, no.
“I don’t really care who you guys pick, honestly,” said Isak.
And he meant it. Isak couldn’t care less who the fourth member of their intern team was going to be.
“What about the tall guy, the blond one?” said Lynn.
Isak suddenly sat up.
“Oh, you mean the summer host dude?” said Jakob. “You guys are friends. Right, Isak? Although the other day during the sync-up-”
“Fuck no!” Isak interrupted.
“Fuck no you’re not friends, or fuck no you don’t want him on our team?” said Jakob.
“Fuck no to both,” said Isak.
“Why don’t you want him on our team? I heard Even’s really good at what he does,” said Lynn.
“Even!” Jakob snapped his fingers. “Yes, that’s his name! Even Bech something.”
Bech Næsheim. Fucking Bech Næsheim.
“Yeah, there’s no fucking way I’m working with that guy!” said Isak.
Because fuck him. That’s why.
One week earlier
Isak woke up twenty three minutes before his alarm. His stomach was in knots and his thoughts in a jumble.
Day one. Fuck.
He stumbled out of his room with his eyes half-shut, already dreading the morning small talk.
“Good morning, Roomie!” said a loud and cheerful Eva. “Ready for day one?”
“Piss off, Eva.”
“Good morning to me, too. I guess.”
Isak washed up, stared at his reflection in the mirror for a good thirty seconds, then made his way back to the kitchen.
Eva was sitting at the table, looking like she was ready to walk out of the front door. She even had makeup on.
“Jesus, when did you wake up?” said Isak.
“Like two hours ago?” said Eva, not looking up from her phone. “It might take you two seconds to get ready because you don’t care about your looks, but I do!”
“Excuse me!” Isak scoffed.
“Whatever. I’m leaving in three minutes. I can’t be late on my first day. Want me to wait for you?”
“Eva, I’m still in my fucking shorts and I haven’t had breakfast yet,” said Isak.
“So grumpy! Ugh. Fine. I’m leaving!” Eva threw a bag over her shoulder, and headed for the front door. “And don’t wallow when they fire you for being late on the first day!”
Isak rolled his eyes.
Pfft. So dramatic.
He had just opened the crappy instant coffee container when he heard Eva’s fast footsteps approaching.
“Forgot something?” he asked without turning around.
But then Eva’s fingers curled around his jaw with and her lips were suddenly on his cheek.
“It’s for good luck! Oh, and I made you lunch. It’s on the counter over there! Bye! You got this, Isak!”
Eva ran out of the apartment and Isak waited to hear the elevator door close to smile.
You got this, too, Eva.
Summer was around the corner and Isak had managed to do the unimaginable: score an actual internship.
“No way!” said Magnus. “You! An internship? What the hell? How? You’re like the laziest guy I know.”
“Shut up, Mags!” said Isak.
“Oh, wait until he tells where his internship is,” said Jonas.
“Huh where?” Magnus brows furrowed.
“Fucking NRK? Are you shitting me? Do they even offer internships? What? How?”
Most people he knew from university were either traveling, taking summer classes, or working in retail or at a restaurant. Eva, however, had also managed to get an internship through her mother’s connections.
Isak knew that she felt bad about it. He was aware that some people thought she hadn’t worked hard enough for it, and that it had been handed to her on a silver platter. But Isak also knew how little she had slept for an entire month preparing for interviews.
So when a bunch of obnoxious kids from Eva’s program started bringing it up sarcastically at this stupid party Vilde had manipulated him into attending, Isak couldn’t help but call them out. Eva became even kinder to him after that night. She made sure he ate regularly and even did his laundry sometimes. She also guilt-tripped him into visiting his mother and offered to go with him.
Isak never really planned on becoming Eva’s roommate. They simply ended up at the same open house at the exact same time, after which Eva harassed him for days until he accepted. They had a third roommate, Nils, who mostly kept to himself. It was good. Things were good.
Isak nearly fell asleep on the bus.
Pull yourself together. Dammit.
He was nervous but excited at the same time. He had no idea how the day would play out. He had no idea how he’d be feeling during his commute back home at the end of the day. It was both terrifying and exhilarating.
Isak arrived at Marienlyst ten minutes before orientation and made his way to the building from his e-mail.
So far, so good.
There were people around his age waiting by the lobby already, and Isak guessed that they were the other interns. He quickly made his way to an empty spot and stood there awkwardly while avoiding making eye contact.
Things went rather smoothly, and he managed to stay awake through the generic orientation presentations. He suddenly felt stupid for staying up until two in the morning the previous night. But some habits died hard.
By noon, he had met random interns and he already knew a few of them by name. Jakob, the guy who sat to Isak’s right during the powerpoint rundown was particularly outgoing, and it only took him an hour to establish a house name.
Isak was almost relieved that he ended up sitting next to him because people were now approaching him without him having to make an effort.
Well that was easy. At least I won’t be a loner this summer.
“So, anyone catch your eye, yet?” said Jakob.
“What do you mean?” said Isak.
“You know. Girls. Or boys . I don’t judge. Anyone you wanna bang?”
What the fuck.
Isak looked at him for a moment.
“I’m not here for that,” he said.
Jakob broke into a huge grin then tapped him on the shoulder.
“Fuck yes! That’s the spirit! Literally every guy I asked replied with something like ‘yeah I’d tap that ’. I like you, Isak!” said Jakob.
“You’re testing people?”
“Well, I’m here to eventually get a full-time offer. I need to know who’s a waste of my time and who I can actually work with.”
Isak liked Jakob.
Isak was having lunch with Jakob and five other people in the cafeteria when he first saw him.
Him. A ridiculously tall blond wearing a denim jacket, a white shirt, and dark pants. Ray bans were sitting on top of his perfect hair, and his long legs were propped on one of the tables.
He was smiling at someone, and his face was perfect, perfect. Isak nearly choked on his bread.
He kept staring until the boy’s eyes locked with his.
Isak quickly looked away and laughed along with the other people around the table at some joke he hadn’t even heard.
By two in the afternoon, Isak had found his desk and gotten introduced to his team.
He spent a couple of hours resetting his password, making sure his voicemail worked, checking how the e-mail system worked, reading the materials his mentor had handed him, and simply clicking around on the computer.
Around four in the afternoon, he decided to take a well-deserved break.
Isak spent fifteen minutes on the toilet seat checking his phone, answering texts, and facebook messages.
When he finally left the stall to wash his hands, there were no more paper towels in the dispenser.
He was looking around for something to wipe his hands with when someone spoke behind him.
“Here,” said the boy from the cafeteria, handing him what looked like used paper towels. “My bad. I panicked and took all of them out.”
His voice was so deep. Isak was taken aback.
The boy smiled, then fished for something in the pockets of his denim jacket. A joint.
What the fuck.
“You coming?” said the boy.
“I imagined getting fired at some point this summer but not over smoking a joint at work,” said Isak.
They were sitting on a bench outside, three buildings away from the main one, and the boy kept smiling at his lame jokes. Isak felt like punching something whenever the boy’s eyes crinkled.
“Relax. I don’t think NRK would mind. You know with its values being ‘openness, courage, and credibility’” said the boy. “We’re being very open and courageous right now.”
“The hell! Did you memorize the NRK values?” Isak scoffed. “I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that doing drugs in the workplace is a big no.”
“Well if that’s the case, they never mentioned it in the thirty eight powerpoint presentations we had to sit through today.”
“You were in orientation? You’re an intern?” said Isak.
“Yeah. Sort of. Summer Host.”
“Oh wow, so like you’re a public face? You’re on radio or TV?” said Isak.
“Radio, but you can see my face on the website. What about you?”
“Uh, I’m in IT,” said Isak.
“Really? So you’re a programmer? Wouldn’t have guessed that,” said the boy.
“Uh, yeah I mean I’m in the Bioscience program at uni, but I can code so I thought what the hell,” said Isak. “What would you have guessed?”
“Uhm. TV or something where people would see your face,” said the boy.
“Huh, my face? Why?”
The boy turned his head to look at Isak, and he could almost feel his eyes burning through his skin.
“Cause it’s cute as fuck.”
Isak’s eyes widened a bit, and he was suddenly having a hard time maintaining his cool ‘bro’ act. He nearly choked with the joint sitting between his lips.
The boy laughed.
“You okay?” he asked with a grin.
“Yeah, yeah. Took a long drag.”
“You know you’re supposed to take drags and not suck on the joint, right?”
“Oh piss off! I did not do that,” said Isak. He was flustered and the boy was having a blast.
He laughed and Isak felt it reverberate through his chest.
Shit. You are not here for this shit.
“Isak!” Jakob’s voice suddenly popped out of nowhere. “What are you doing here?!”
Fuck fuck fuck.
He quickly threw the joint on the ground, hopped off the bench, and stepped on it.
“Uh, hey man! Just taking a break,” said Isak, very awkwardly.
“I see that you’ve made a friend,” said Jakob, looking at the boy who was still propped on the bench.
“Uh yeah, uh, this is, uh-”
“Even,” said the blond boy while extending his hand to Jakob. “Summer Host. Nice to meet you.”
The two boys shook hands while Isak carved his name into his brain, Even.
“Wait, were you guys fucking smoking weed?!”
Isak was standing by the bus stop when Even joined him.
“We meet again,” he said.
Even stood too close to him on the bus and kept staring and smiling. Isak was way too flustered.
Looking back at all the scenarios he had thought of on his way to work that morning, this hadn’t even crossed his mind.
“This is my stop. Bye,” said Isak.
“We should do this more often,” said Even, smiling.
“Uh, yeah,” Isak smiled but it was too awkward. “See you.”
“Oh, you’ll see me. Trust me.”
“Why are you smiling to yourself? What the hell happened at NRK?” said Eva on the other end of the couch.
“Piss off,” said Isak.
“Is your manager hot? Is that what this is about?”
“I’m going to my room.”
“Come on! Tell me things. Why don’t you tell me anything.”
Isak sat on his bed and looked for ‘Even’ on Facebook and LinkedIn. He then felt stupid and quickly closed his laptop.
What the fuck.
Isak was walking by the pantry to get coffee the next morning when he heard his voice.
“Let me guess. You don’t check your LinkedIn messages,” said Even, smiling.
“I can’t believe you messaged me on LinkedIn,” said Isak, smiling right back. “Like who are you?”
“By the way, I hope you know that LinkedIn tells you who’s looking at your profile. Just some advice for your future stalking activities,” said Even.
“Excuse me! I was just trying to get a feel of the competition. I looked up the entire intern class,” said Isak.
Even walked a bit closer and Isak felt himself getting flustered.
“Ouch. I thought I was special,” said Even.
Is this guy flirting with me, what the hell.
“Yeah sorry,” Isak mumbled. “I have to go. I’m late.”
Isak grabbed his coffee from the counter and was about to walk away when Even stopped him.
“Wanna grab lunch with me today?” said Even.
“Uh, yeah sure, bro.”
“Forget it if you’re gonna call me that though,” said Even.
“I’ll stop by your desk at noon,” said Even before brushing past him.
“You don’t even know where my desk is.”
Even turned around and smiled.
“Oh, I do, Isak. I do.”
Isak was trying to concentrate on setting up his environment and getting Visual Studio to compile, but all he could think about was his lunch date with Even.
It’s not a fucking lunch date. You’re not here for this shit.
Around 11:47, Jakob stopped by his desk.
“Hello friend! Lunch? Cafeteria?” said Jakob.
“Uh. I kind of have plans,” said Isak.
“What? It’s day 2 and you already have someone to eat lunch with? I’m impressed.”
“It’s not a big deal. Besides, I’m still working on some stuff right now.”
“It’s cool. I had to step away from my desk. My team is working on a piece on mental illness, so I spent the morning reading about stuff. My head feels like it’s going to explode,” said Jakob.
Isak couldn’t help but flinch upon hearing the words ‘mental illness’.
“Oh cool,” said Isak.
“Bro, that stuff is intense. Like my mentor, she’s been interviewing people who take care of mentally ill people like you know husbands and wives who look after their significant other. And I actually cried watching the unedited version. And I never cry!” Jakob rambled.
“Sounds interesting,” said Isak.
“Why are you being skeptical?”
“I’m not. I just have a bit of an opinion on this stuff,” said Isak.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. But I don’t mess with that. I know interviews are inspiring and stuff. But honestly, don’t get involved with mentally ill people if you have a choice. If you care about yourself at all, you’ll run in the other direction,” said Isak.
“That’s kind of fucked up, Isak,” said Jakob. “Why would you say that?”
“Well let’s say I have first hand experience with that stuff.”
“What kind? Wait, were you in a relationship with a mentally ill person?” Jakob was now sitting on Isak’s desk.
“No. But my dad was,” said Isak.
“What? Your dad’s girlfriend?” Jakob seemed confused.
“Ugh, no. I mean my mom.”
“What about your mom?”
“She’s fucked up,” said Isak. “And she basically ruined everything in my family.”
Why am I telling this dude my life story.
Even never showed up to his desk, and Isak was only pissed for about forty five minutes before giving up and eating lunch in front of his computer screen.
Isak didn’t hear from Even for a couple of days, and he eventually started thinking that he got caught smoking weed and got fired.
But then he heard some girls talking about him, so he figured that the taller boy had simply lost interest or was bored of making Isak squirm.
The interns were gathered in one of the big rooms for a sync-up with one of the coordinators on Friday, and Isak couldn’t help but glance at Even who never looked in his direction. Not even once.
Whatever. Forget it.
“So how was your first week, guys? What’s everybody working on?”
They went around the room and everybody said a few words about their first assignment.
“Isak, your turn.”
“Uhm. I’m working on geoblocking this show on one of the p3 websites,” said Isak.
“Oh, which show?” said Lynn.
“Uh. SKAM,” said Isak.
“Oh, are people still tuning in from all over the world?” said some guy.
“Yeah, it’s fucking hell. They keep finding ways to watch it and download the videos,” said Isak. “And next week, I’ll work on a tech doc to determine all the VPN stuff people use to access our domain.”
They quickly moved on to other people. And when they got to Even, Isak couldn’t help but stare and pine. He was supposed to ignore him and resent him for standing him up without ever explaining why. But he couldn't.
Even had his very own radio segment in the evening. And everyone around the room wanted to hear his playlist, and come to one of his shows, and visit the studios, and just be his friend overall.
Of course, Jakob talked for ten minutes about his project.
“So yeah, my team is doing a segment on mental illness. If you guys could point me to anything I’d really appreciate it,” said Jakob.
“I can help out,” said Even. “We can sit down later or Monday morning if you want.”
“Oh, sure, bro. Thanks! That would be cool,” said Jakob. “I hope you’re not weird about mental illness like Isak.”
“Hey, why are you bringing me into this!” Isak groaned.
“Because you’re an insensitive dick, man!”
“Why does me saying I don’t want mentally ill people fucking up my life make me a dick?!” said Isak. “Like what the fuck?”
“Okay, let’s bring the conversation back to the main topic,” said the nervous coordinator who couldn’t have been more than two years older than Isak.
“Yeah, let’s keep our daddy issues out of work,” said Even.
Daddy issues? What the fuck?
“Excuse me?” said Isak, his cheeks now properly flushed.
“You heard me,” said Even. His eyes all but boring into Isak's.
Oh, you're looking at me now?
“Dude, you don’t even know me!” said Isak, feeling slightly embarrassed for getting worked up in front of the entire intern class.
“Oh, I do, Isak. Trust me.”
Isak was fuming. He was angry and agitated and could barely concentrate on work after the meeting. His hands stayed curled into fists until he left for his bus.
He was so angry that he didn’t have dinner.
“What’s wrong? Is the SKAM project driving you nuts?” said Eva.
“No! Piss off!”
“You can talk to me, Isak. I hope you know that.”
“What? What the hell, what a dick!” said Eva.
“Yeah. I’m guessing he heard me talk about my parents with Jakob,” said Isak.
“What the fuck? That’s just so mean. You don’t say shit like that in front of everyone.”
So when Isak got a LinkedIn notification a few minutes later, he furiously typed out a reply.