Chapter 1: Friday I'm In Love
Isak can’t sleep. It’s not like he was expecting to - most nights are the same; he “goes to bed” around 11 and lies awake on his phone scrolling through twitter, instagram, facebook, snapchat. Twitter, instagram, facebook, snapchat. Again and again and again, until he feels his eyes start to sting, which is when the real misery begins.
His phone now relegated to the floor, Isak tries to go to sleep. He tosses and turns, and stares at the ceiling, his bedside table, the ceiling again, caught in a circle of just… being And being, and being, constantly and it is… exhausting. But his brain won’t rather, can’t- shut off. So here he is at 4 in the fucking morning hunkered over scribbling frantically in his lab notebook. Just when he was about to fall asleep, he’d jerked his eyes open and sat bolt upright, remembering his lab on agarose gel electrophoresis (whatever the fuck that is) was due tomorrow (ok well, today technically). Uttering curses under his breath, Isak had grabbed his lab book from his backpack and begun to work on his report. Isak had gone from irritated from lack of sleep to downright angry when he finally finishes his conclusion, slamming his lab book closed and throwing it dramatically on the floor. He flops over onto his side, and cocoons himself in his duvet. Normally, he can clock in a couple hours each night if he focuses on his breathing enough, his thoughts consisting merely of in, out. In, out. It was starting to work, and he could finally feel the glue of drowsiness start to stick his eyelids shut, when…
“Oh, what the fuck,” Isak groans, twisting onto his side and pulling the duvet over his head.
The muffled, obscured, but very much audible deep bass throb and jangly piano of Abba’s Dancing Queen filled his room. Isak flings the covers off of him dramatically, and fumbles for his lamp. Eventually he flicks it on, and immediately he winces at the sudden blinding light filling his small bedroom,
“Fucking hell,” he scowls, as he grabs a jumper from the floor next to his bed and makes his way over to the door, pulling it over his head as he does so. Being careful not to wake his flatmates (although he doubted anyone could sleep through this fucking racquet), he slips out the door of his apartment and into the hallway. He knows what apartment he’s looking for - anyone who isn’t completely deaf could probably suss it out. He raps angrily on the door labeled 6B and hears no response. He knocks again, huffing, crossing his arms and putting on his best scowl when he hears footsteps approaching.
The door swings open and a tall boy, taller than Isak, looks down at him.
“Hey! Something you need?” He chirps, too jovial for Isak’s liking, but, Isak notes, in a completely genuine tone. His light smile feels warm, and it makes Isak relax a bit. Isak’s shoulders unsquare as he takes the boy in. His hair is a mousy blonde, sticking up at ridiculous angles. His big blue eyes sparkled slightly as he waited for an answer, and Isak notices his dark circles. This guy had obviously had as much luck with sleep tonight as Isak did. Isak sighs dramatically, “Uh, yeah? Can you keep the shitty music down before you wake up all of Frogner? I don’t know if you knew, but here in Norway we like to be asleep at 5 in the morning.” Isak juts his head out indignantly as he says this, gesticulating probably more than he needed to, expecting some sort of retort from the guy, but only getting a soft chuckle in response.
“Sorry man… didn’t realize it was that loud. I was really on that 70s disco vibe tonight and needed something to keep me awake writing this fucking film essay.” He lifts up a hand and scratches the back of his neck, turning his head away slightly and leans on the door frame. “Did I wake you up with my shitty music?” He smiles, turning his head back to Isak and saying “shitty music” with dramatic air quotes, “no, actually…” Isak admits, looking sheepishly at the floor. He catches himself. Why did he say that? He could’ve just lied and been Classic Indignant Grouchy Isak, but part of him… part of him wanted to tell this guy the truth. Isak shook the feeling off, bringing his head back up to look at the boy, who was now leaning forward through the door frame. Isak was suddenly hyper-aware of how close they were.
“Well, I doubt either of us are going to be sleeping much tonight so how about I invite you in for a late night 70s jam session?” he quips, looking at Isak eagerly and leaning away from the door.
“A stranger inviting me into their house at 4 AM to listen to terrible swedish disco music on a school night? Sounds like a real treat,” Isak deadpans, “I don’t even know your name, Neighbour With Bad Music Taste And Strange Sleeping Habits.”
“No stranger than yours,” he retorts, and Isak once again glances down at his feet when he realizes the truth in this, “and it’s Even.”
“Hm?” Isak whips his head back up at the boy as he’s stepping back into his apartment.
“My name?” the boy chuckles again, sleepily rubbing his eye, “It’s Even.”
Even stops at the end of the hallway and looks back at Isak expectantly, and Isak falters before stepping over the threshold and shutting the door gingerly behind him. Before he turns around to follow Even, he takes time to breathe. In, out. He turns around, smiling slyly at Even before extending his hand.
Chapter 2: Friday I'm In Love Cont'd
This is the rest of chapter 1 because this was originally a drabble so it's p much just a continuation of chap 1! Even manages to unlock Isak's Tragic Backstory and Texting antics ensue of course.
I know this is short but it's supposed to be the other part of chapter 1. Future chapters will be around 3-4k so yep!!! Also I do all writing for this fic at ridiculous times in the morning so while chapters may be posted at seemingly regular times in Europe don't be fooled it's 2 AM in philly :~) comment & kudos if u likey!
Even’s apartment was modest, but not scant. Isak eyed the posters lining the white walls of the living room. Even must have noticed his eyes lingering on them, “Nas. Illmatic. GREATEST album of all time. You’ve heard of it?” Even raised his eyebrows expectantly.
“Uh, yeah...I’ve heard of... Nas.” Isak spluttered. He had never heard of the guy in his life, or maybe he’d heard Jonas and Mahdi talking about him once, but he’d tuned it out. Even seemed amused, “ Ok. ” Even scoffed, “What’s your favourite song of his?” He’s grinning now, arms folded and hip cocked as he waits for an answer. Isak’s caught.
“Uh, well,” Isak stalls, “I can’t really pick one, they’re all so good in different ways...you know?”
Even raised his eyebrows again. Do this kid’s eyebrows have a fucking gym membership? Isak thinks to himself.
“Nice save.” Even laughs and turns to lead Isak past the living room and into his room,
“I listen to more than just shitty 70s europop, you know.” Even kicks the door closed and turns to face Isak.
“Really?” it’s Isak’s turn to cock an eyebrow, “what type of music do you listen to then?” Even’s face lights up. Kid must really like music . There’s a beat where Even’s thinking, and then says, “good music.” Isak smiles, “that’s a little vague. What is,” Isak holds up air quotes, “ good music ?” There’s another beat.
“Anything that you could see as the soundtrack to one of those epic love story movies, I think.” Even’s thinking deeply about this, his eyes squint a little, “like Romeo and Juliet.”
“Romeo and Juilet?!” Isak scoffs, “epic? They both die in the end!”
“Yes!” Even’s eyes shoot up to meet Isak’s, “exactly! They had to die for each other, for love- that’s what makes it epic.” He’s really animated, a grin encompassing his face, “don’t you agree?”
“No! Well, I don’t think so.” Isak genuinely considers this, “I think they should’ve communicated with each other. The whole thing could’ve been sorted out if they just fucking talked to each other.” Even nodded his head in consideration, “yeah I guess so, but imagine saying you died for love...died to be with eachother.” His face had gone a little dark, “That’s a little grim don’t you think? Plus you can’t really say anything when you’re dead” Isak offers.
“Yeah, guess so” Even’s eyes flicker to the floor. Isak notices they’ve just been standing in the middle of Even’s room the whole time. Even starts as he most likely comes to the same realization.
“Sit down if you want. Mi casa es su casa .” His grin is back, and he gestures to a slightly faded green couch under the bunk bed in the corner of the room.
“Interesting. Didn’t pin you as a bunk bed kind of guy.” Isak says as he flops down onto the couch.
“Didn’t pin you as an anti -bunk bed kind of guy” Even quips back, crashing down on the couch next to Isak.
“Hungry?” Isak feels his stomach growl, as if on queue.
“All-nighters’ll do that to you.” Even reaches over the side of the couch and produces a huge bag of popcorn.
“Sustenance.” he grins at Isak, who gratefully takes a handful.
“So, tell me about yourself Isak. Where do you go to school?” Even turns to face Isak and Isak is once again aware of how little space there is between them. He gets caught a little in Even’s eyes, sparkling and blue. He shakes himself, “uhh…” his brain skips like a broken record in its sleepless state, “nissen. Second year. I’m a second year at nissen.” He finally gathers his thoughts and continues, “I live in a shared apartment with a classmate and her friend and her friend’s friend. Yeah.” He nods his head with finality.
“Oh? Why don’t you live with your parents?” Even prods.
“Shitty situation at home, overall. Had to get out. My mom’s….” Isak rubs the sides of the top of his nose and tips his head back, a little pained at the recollection, “yeah...crazy. Thought it was the second coming of christ or something. Dad left us on our own and I couldn’t take care of her y’know? I was sixteen. What the fuck kind of sixteen year old knows how to deal with his psycho mom? Anyway I got drunk off my ass one night and next thing I knew I was at a…” Isak catches himself before he lets the next word slip, censoring himself, “...bar. A bar. Eskild, one of my roommates, found me and took me to the apartment. I actually lived in the basement for a while and it was chill. I just needed somewhere to crash for a while. Noora, the classmate I was talking about who’s another one of my roommates, moved to London with her shitty boyfriend so I moved in after she left. Poor judgement, if I’m honest, but it’s what I uh...needed.” Isak catches himself, “I’m sorry I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.”
“No! No, no it’s fine.” Even smiles at Isak reassuringly, and Isak thinks he can maybe even detect a hint of fondness in his smile.
“Venting is good. You can vent to me.”
“That’s about all there is. What about you? Where do you go to school?” Isak laughs to himself, slightly embarrassed about how long a tangent he’d just gone on.
“Well,”’ Even leans back, slinging a hand across the couch back, “University of Oslo. First year. Thought I’d have to repeat third year at Bakka but luckily I managed to save my ass from that. No fucking clue what I want to major in because I love film and music but apparently those won’t get me shit in the ways of money. So I’m taking film courses but my mom’s insisting I take econ. I wouldn’t say I’m uh,” Even chuckles “any modern Einstein. But Cs get degrees! And yeah, I’m living here instead of in university housing because this place used to belong to a friend of a friend and it just happened to be rent controlled, so it’s cheaper than living in university housing. Small victories.” Even concludes, cheerfully. He then reaches back behind the couch and rummages for a few seconds, finally brandishing a joint and holding it out triumphantly.
“Eh?” he grins cheekily.
“Jesus christ it’s almost 5. Don’t you have class today?” Isak exclaims, exasperated.
“Yeah, but not until 1. I can afford it. How about you? Don’t tell me you’re one of those perfect attendance nerds.” Isak shifts his eyes sheepishly, “Oh no” Even smirks, “I didn’t peg you as the nerd type but here you are, Isak uh… um”
“Valtersen” Isak supplies, “and I’m not an attendance nerd . I just don’t want to waste my 10% on getting stoned with some dude i barely know.”
“Wow.” Even huffs, feigning offence, “I bare all to you and we’re suddenly back to square one? I thought you were different, Isak Valtersen.”
“Maybe you don’t know me, Even...uh,” Isak looks to Even hopefully, and Even catches on, “Bech Næsheim. Even Bech Næsheim. And I’d like to think I know a little about you now. I’m making a mental list: grumpy, attendance nerd, narc...shitty taste in music.”
“You could always add my number to that list?” Woah Isak thinks, where did that come from? Isak’s not sure what exactly he’s feeling, but Even moves something in him he didn’t know could be moved. Something about him felt...easy. Like liking him was innate. The way they could just fall into conversation, shooting comments and prolonged stares back and forth for almost an hour. Isak realizes the sun is rising. The peachy pink light filters through Even’s window and splays out over his face, now smiling.
“Sure.” He sticks out a hand, and it takes Isak a couple seconds to realize he’s asking for his phone.
“Oh! Yeah. Right. Hang on…” Isak fishes his phone out of his hoodie pouch and hands it over. Even puts his number in and throws Isak’s phone back into his lap.
“Ok, if you’re not gonna have any of this jay you should probably get going. The sun’s rising. Try to get some sleep yeah?” Even clamps a large hand to Isak’s shoulder. Isak is caught off guard by the physical contact, but plays it off, “yeah. Thanks, man.” Isak heaves himself off of the
couch and makes his way to the door of Even’s room. He swivels back around and grins at Even, waggling his phone in the air, “I’ll text you?”
“Yeah! See you soon?” Even asks expectantly.
“Definitely” Isak nods, and walks out, closing the door behind him. He’s at the doorframe of his own apartment when he notices Even’s put himself in his phone as “Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim). He opens up a text conversation.
TO Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): That’s quite a name you’ve got
He smiles even wider when he sees the writing bubble appear almost immediately.
FROM Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): Yeah my mums couldn’t decide on a name so they just went ham I guess
TO Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): Mums?
FROM Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): Yeah I’ve got two mums. It’s pretty chill, but mother’s day is maybe the most stressful day of the year.
TO Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): Do you think they’ll mind if I shorten your name to Even in my phone? It has to fucking scroll for almost a minute to show your full contact
FROM Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): I’m high maintenance baby
FROM Hot Guy in 6B with Great Music Taste (Even Bech Næsheim): And I think they’ll let it slide as long as a couple quality emojis are thrown in there for compensation
Isak adds a camera emoji, a cigarette emoji, a cross emoji next to a music emoji and the closest thing he could find to a weed emoji.
TO Even: Done
FROM Even: Have you captured my essence?
Isak pauses, finger hovering over Even's contact. He adds a blue heart emoji for good measure.
TO Even: yeah
Chapter 3: What Would You Do?
Parties! Girls! Alcohol! Deep conversations about human impulse! The classic teen experience. Featuring Broody Even and Nerdy Isak.
Sorry about the hiatus! School is pain and everything hurts. I didn't realize the last chapter didn't fucking upload fully so I fixed that a couple weeks ago. Here's a full length chapter finally! Most chapters from here onward will be around this length and I'll try to keep them frequent once exams stop. Hope you enjoy!
“Dude… are you okay?” Magnus says thoughtfully while shoving a forkful of...something...into his mouth. Isak sniffs and rubs an eye sleepily, “yeah I was just… up all night writing those fucking labs.” He rolls a tomato around his plate with his fork. Jonas squints quizzically.
“You’re normally on top of that shit. The last time we had a lab you did it the night she assigned it?” Isak slumps over and rests his head on his arms folded on the table.
“Yeah well I forgot until 4AM last night or….this morning I guess. It’s not a problem. I got it done. I’ll just nap in my study hall and then I’ll be fine.”
“Fine enough for the party at Emma’s tonight?” Mahdi pipes up, grinning.
“Dude...she’s got to be THE hottest girl in the first year. In the school, even.” Magnus replies, eyes lit up. Jonas scoffs, “uh, no. You’ve just got the lowest standards in the school. She’s pretty though. Isak,” Jonas elbows Isak softly, jolting him out of his daze, “you should talk to her. Chat her up- you’ve got game... unlike these idiots.” Mahdi and Magnus mock offense,
“I’ve totally got game bro!” Magnus scorns. Jonas, Mahdi and Isak (somewhat sleepily) cast gazes of derision laced with the usual fondness his way.
“Seriously bro, if any one of us stands a chance with Emma, it’s you.”
Emma . Isak knows he should like her. He wants to like her. She was friends with all the popular people and went to all the right parties. She’s attractive, Isak guesses, or at least other people say she’s attractive. Isak doesn’t fucking know. Girls are exhausting . Isak sighs laboriously, propping his head up on his hand.
“Maybe, guys.” Isak hopes this will get the guys off his trail so that they could forget about it. He fails.
“Scared she’ll reject you? Worried the Isak Valtersen Charm won’t get you anywhere this time?” Magnus teases. Jonas casts a scornful glance his way and turns to Isak, looking him dead in the eyes.
“You got this dude. You’re great with girls!”
Fuck. Fuck . Isak stares at the ceiling and tries not to think about what’s happening. What if she finds out . Not 10 minutes ago he was standing in the kitchen with his friends, thinking maybe if I just avoid her it’ll be fine . But everything was decidedly not fine . Not after Emma had practically hunted Isak down and backed him into a bathroom. And now, here Isak is, with a first year girl latched onto his neck like a fucking leech and absolutely no desire for her to move any lower yet sensing she would like to do exactly that . He tries to feign desire because isn’t this what he should want? What all his friends won’t ever shut up about? But Isak feels nothing. If anything, he feels cold. Devoid. He runs his fingers through her hair, and it’s soft and silky and..nothing. It’s nothing. Isak’s seen porn - or at least tried to watch porn. He knows what he should be doing, but he doesn’t want to do it at all. Emma detaches her mouth from Isak’s neck to look up at him with her big brown doe eyes and smiles, before dropping to her knees. No . Nope. Isak falters, then pulls away. Emma looks up, confused.
“What? What did I do?”
“Nothing… nothing, I’m just…” Isak wracks his brain for an excuse, “...really fucked up.” It was technically true. Isak laughs nervously, “I think… I think I’ve gotta go.” Isak blurts out, swaying a little. He reaches for the door before Emma can reply and makes a bee-line for a door. Any door. Anything to separate him from what just happened. He finally finds the back door and stumbles out onto the grass. Isak looks around, squinting in the darkness. The garden’s empty - it’s far too cold for anyone to be outdoors. He pauses. Shit . Jonas is his ride home. He hasn’t seen him since the kitchen, and he can’t go back in there. Not when Emma might cause a scene. Isak purses his lips and stares into nothing as the whole shitstorm of that day circled his brain. He pulls out his phone.
TO Even: Hey
He immediately locks it and flips the phone around in his hands anxiously. The dull throbbing of the music inside the house pounds behind him.
FROM Even: Hey
Isak can’t help but smile a little.
TO Even: I’m at a party in sogn. Really fucked up and I lost my ride.
Even starts typing immediately as soon as he reads Isak’s text.
FROM Even: txt me adress im comgmng
Isak frowns at the typo.
FROM Even: Sorry I was getting my coat and texting. Multitasking’s not my thing I guess. I’m coming, text me the adress
“What were you doing all the way up in fucking Sogn without a ride home?” Even flits his eyes to glance at Isak, slumped in the passenger seat of the small hatchback.
“I don’t even know really. Trying to hook up with some fucking girl that my friends think is hot. Jonas was my ride home but I lost him” Isak slurs a bit. Even bites his lip and Isak notices his brow furrow. For a second, he seems almost...jealous. But he was probably just focusing on the road.
“Do you think she’s hot?” He asks after a while, pulling into the car park of their flat.
“Uh...no.” The two boys climb out of the car. Even quirks his eyebrows up. The moonlight filters through the slits in the ceiling and outlines Even’s face, and Isak’s breath catches. He trails a heavy-lidded, alcohol-laced gaze over Even’s features. It’s as if his face were carved from marble, high smooth cheekbones and plush lips and the cupids bow just above them sparkling like a cut crystal.
“So… do you know anyone you would be…” Even trails off, pausing, “interested in?” he finishes, tone heavy. Isak gazes up at Even, swaying on feet. This time he knows it’s not just the alcohol compromising him. Isak looks up into his glassy blue eyes, and he feels. Different. He feels… glittery. Like his heart had set off a party popper and the confetti was ricocheting through his veins. His heart was pounding, his head spinning, and he doesn’t break eye contact. He steps forward and suddenly the hard wet cement is rushing up to meet him.
Isak blinks awake, the hazy fog of his surroundings slowly coming into focus around him. He digs the sleep out of his eyes and wipes the drool from his face. He is suddenly made aware that he is not in his apartment. He looks around and sees the white, poster-plastered walls of….Even’s apartment? Oh Fuck. The memories of the previous night flood back and Isak groans, flopping back over on the grey couch. He hears footsteps, and Even appears in the door frame of the bedroom, smiling as brightly as ever.
“Morning.” Even’s voice is deep and gravely, and Isak shivers a bit under the boy’s icy gaze.
“What..” Isak pauses to crack his neck, “what happened? Last night. Why am I here?” Even remains where he is, propped on the door frame, “What do you remember happening last?” He says, incredulous but tinged with a little concern.
“Uh..” Isak scratches his neck and props himself up, “I was at Emma’s…” Ugh. Right. That. “and… I lost Jonas. I texted you to come pick you up.”
“Yeah, I did. Drove all the way from frogner to sogn to get a teenage boy who can’t hold his liquor.” Even laughs, feigning annoyance. His face twitches with something Isak can’t quite discern.
“Anything after that?” Isak shakes his head.
“Nope. Woke up here.”
“What a treat to wake up to me” Even smiles, and swivels around and out of the door frame into, presumably, the kitchen, as he returns two seconds later. Isak takes this as a request to follow and rolls off the couch. He pads into the kitchen, trying to fluff up the patch of his hair flattened by sleep. Even is at the stove, poking something with a spatula with a slightly humourous focused intensity.
“I hope you like Omelettes, they’re my specialty.” Even flashes a blinding smile at Isak, who is suddenly very conscious of how scruffy he must look. Even’s hair is styled perfectly and he looks effortlessly cool in a denim jacket (the only jacket Isak’s ever seen him wear… he’s starting to doubt he owns any other outerwear) and skinny jeans. Isak looks down at himself; he’s wearing the same clothes from last night: black jeans that he’d outgrown months ago, a crumpled white t shirt with a beer-scented yellow stain on it and a red hoodie that had definitely seen better days. Whatever, this guy’s already seen me at my worst.
“I’ll never refuse free food.” Isak grins.
Even passes the joint back to Isak, and looks pensively over the landscape in front of them. They’re on the roof of the flat per Even’s suggestion and Isak’s subsequent “yeah sure.” This was probably not safe at all, as all there was separating them from the cold pavement that Isak had tasted the previous night before was a small one metre wall.
“This is my favorite place to go and think.” Even says, gaze not wavering from the city in front of them.
“Think about what?” Isak asks, taking a drag of the half-finished blunt.
“Just… how at any moment, for example… if you wanted to, you could just jump off of here. Eat shit in that car park, if you wanted to. And it’s just be over- everything.” Even’s eyes glaze over, “Anyone can do that. That’s one of the few things anyone can just… do. One moment they’re here… tweeting and… eating omelettes. The next, they could be at the bottom of a flat complex in frogner and then it’s just over.” The two boys sit in silence for a while.
“But isn’t that how life is?” Isak finally says, looking over at the still spaced-out Even, “Impulse and chance, I mean. We constantly have so many options and opportunities to take and we have to decide what we’re going to do. You’re right, I guess. You could jump off of here, but you’re not going to because you don’t want to. You handle your own life.” Even’s eyes go dark, but Isak doesn’t notice as he continues, “It’s kinda cool to think about really. Especially when you consider parallel universes.” Isak’s eyes brighten at this and Even breaks from his daze to chuckle softly.
“Yeah… how when you make one choice, you know an infinite amount of other yous in an infinite number of universes made a different one. Like… take last night. In this universe, I ate shit in the car park at two am and you took me up to your place but…” Isak’s gesturing now, too into his story to notice Even’s clear amusement, “let’s say you caught me instead. What would you do then?” Silence again, as the question hangs in the air, still and yet echoing through both boys’ heads.
“I would’ve still dragged you up to my apartment. You were a fucking mess. ” Even finally says, laughing. If Isak weren’t high as balls he would’ve detected the hint of nervousness in his laugh, but in his state he barely notices it. What Isak does feel is a slight twinge of...hurt. He doesn’t dwell on it, but can’t ignore the slight tightness in his chest and throat afterwards. Isak knows what he would’ve done.