Isak’s second least favorite thing to do is grocery shopping.
His first is cooking, mostly because he’s always been horrible at it, so much so that over time, he’d just given up trying to copy recipes and lived off of ramen noodles and garbage carbs.
He’s not sure why anyone would find the task of grocery shopping fun, because Isak spent the entire time groaning until it was over and he was checked out and could finally leave.
It was now reaching around 20 minutes of him being inside the large building and underneath its ominous florescent lights, and Isak’s grocery cart was already half full of various types of foods. It’d been about 2 weeks since he’d gone shopping, and today was the day he decided it was probably high time he stocked up his apartment again.
Why anyone let him—a suffering college student—live on his own, he had no idea.
Especially since Isak is pretty sure every time he steps foot into a grocery store, it may be the last time he ever takes a step at all.
No grocery store is equipped without at least a few aisles of screaming children, spilled food, or obnoxious middle-aged women yelling into their phones about whether their husband is cheating or not.
It might literally be Isak’s own, personal hell, but he always sticks it out until he reaches the freezers that contain tubs of ice cream, just because he knows he eats his weight in ice cream throughout the week and it’s honestly what gets him through the many late nights he spends studying.
Last time he bought four gallon sized tubs, so it’s been awhile since he’s been in this neck of the woods, and for some reason he can’t remember where they keep the damn cookie dough ice cream. Needless to say, as his eyes scan the freezers, his patience is wearing thin.
If it weren’t for the cold temperature radiating off of the glass, he wouldn’t be able to feel the warmth that suddenly appears next to him, and it’s a little too close for his comfort, so he darts his head in its direction to see where it’s coming from.
Only, he’s met with possibly one of the most beautiful human beings he’s ever seen, and his breath catches in his throat.
A guy, who is somehow taller than him, with blond hair styled into a pleasant mess atop his head, is gazing into the same freezers as Isak, concentrating his eyes on the shelves as if he too is looking for something.
The man is wearing a jean jacket, and some really nice—tight—skinny jeans, and even though Isak usually isn’t one for hipsters, he’s finding it really hard to ignore how radiant the man is, and how enticing it would be for Isak to just run his fingers through that thick mass of hair.
“Can I help you with something?” the man asks, and it takes Isak a few seconds to realize that he’s just been standing there, staring at him. Way to be transparent.
And, like the dumbass he is, he quickly spurts, “Uh, no. Do you work here?”
Which would be a well enough question if the man didn’t look like he’d never touched a name tag or a pair of cheap khakis in his entire life.
What kind of grocery store employee wears a fucking jean jacket? Honestly, Isak should just not talk ever, ever, ever again.
The man just chuckles lightly besides him, “No, I just saw you walk back and forth down the aisle about 4 times so I figured you were looking for something.”
“You were watching me?”
The man smiles and closes his eyes for a brief moment.
“Half the store was watching you. It was actually pretty entertaining, to be honest.”
Well, fuck, if Isak wasn’t embarrassed before, he sure as hell is now. Which isn’t doing anything to prevent the rosy flush that’s now encroaching on his cheeks.
“Yeah, well, I hate grocery shopping,” Isak spits out bitterly.
He hadn’t meant to sound so harsh, but the angry teenager that lives inside Isak’s body wasn’t doing a very good job of staying hidden, like maybe it probably should have been to someone he’s only just fucking met.
Luckily, the guy didn’t seem to dwell on it. Instead, he looked over Isak’s shoulder at the pile of food in his grocery cart.
“Looks like you hate yourself, too,” the guy muses, raising his eyebrows.
“Do you actually eat half the shit that’s in your cart?”
Isak takes that as an invitation to follow his gaze as he lands on the ‘Isak from 20 minutes ago’s’ choices of food, which has consisted of microwave meals, sugary cereals, bags of chips, popcorn, and…well, the list could go on.
Yeah, Isak’s not a master chef, he’s established that to himself already, okay, and he’s about to comment on the guy’s own food choices when he notices he doesn’t seem to have a cart or even a basket with him. Hmm.
“I’m a college student. I’m allowed to eat garbage,” Isak replies, half trying to defend himself and half agreeing that he doesn’t always make the best decisions.
“You’re just not doing yourself any favors,” the guy answers, clearly amused.
He’s still looking at Isak with a glint in his eye and Isak is looking back until he hears a shout come from behind him.
Isak knows that voice. He spent a good part of six months living around that voice. And fucking fuck, of course this would happen to him today, no less, at a grocery store, his least favorite place in the world.
Isak turns back around again to confirm his previous notion that yes, the world does in fact hate him as his ex-boyfriend rounds his grocery cart and stands between him and the ‘guy with the good hair’. Isak notices he’s carrying a single gallon of milk in his left hand.
Isak struggles to find words, because seeing his face still hurts, even though it’s been a month since they parted, and his voice dies in his throat.
“Can’t believe I’m running into you here!” his ex enthralls.
Isak is shockingly able to get out a soft “Yeah…” before his ex is speaking over him again.
“Yeah, I’m just out to pick up a gallon of milk, Alexander and I were in the middle of baking chocolate chip cookies when we ran out, so…” he clicks his tongue as he trails off.
When Isak only nods back at him, his ex tilts his head, and the gaze in his eye changes as he leans just a tad bit closer to Isak.
“You know? Those chocolate chip cookies we used to make together?”
And fuck, Isak goes rigid at those words and it’s like he can feel his heart breaking all over again, even though he knows that he’s just doing this to get a rise out of him. That’s what he always did, and despite the fact that they aren’t together anymore, it’s still no different.
The ‘guy with the good hair’, Isak notices, has been watching this little altercation go down beside him and he clears his throat, which causes Isak’s ex to turn his attention to him.
“Uh, who are you?” his ex asks, squinting his eyes, his voice in an accusatory tone.
And Isak is angry. He’s fucking pissed, and he’s suddenly seeing red, because his ex fucking took his heart and stomped on it until it was left in pieces, and he doesn’t get to do this to Isak after all the shit he’s pulled.
So, before the guy can answer, Isak smiles curtly and says, “He’s my boyfriend.”
Which, of course, has his ex reeling backwards a bit and blinking rapidly, which satisfies Isak enough to not think about the fact that he doesn’t even know the ‘jean jacket wearing’ guy’s name. Or, whether or not he’ll play along. And Isak is praying to god right now that he does.
Isak looks over to him, hoping he’s not about to run in the other direction, or call him a homophobic slur, or what have you, because fuck, for all Isak knows, the guy is as straight as a fucking toothpick.
Only, to Isak’s unexpected shock, the guy moves closer to him and smiles before wrapping an arm around the back of Isak’s waist, which causes him to jump a little in surprise. He’s suddenly so close to Isak, and Isak can’t help but look up at him for a moment, if only to focus on the tiny hints of stubble on his chin and the little scar on his cheek and—
His ex is speaking before Isak can continue his thorough observation.
“It’s nice to meet you, um…”
“Even,” the guy finishes, and holds out his hand, “And you must be…?”
“Christian,” Isak’s ex spits out angrily, shifting his attention back to Isak.
“Oh, sorry! Isak hasn’t really talked that much about you,” Even smiles, his voice humorless.
And now it’s Christian’s turn to look like he’s just gotten punched in the stomach.
Isak glances up at Even again and Even looks at him from the side of his eyes and winks lightly enough that Christian doesn’t notice it. It was a horrible wink, really, but Isak momentarily relaxes into Even’s side, and it’s scary how natural this feels to him.
“Right, well, I’d better be getting home to Alexander…” Christian announces, deflated.
“You do that,” Even answers shortly, drawing Isak just a bit closer with his hand squeezing onto Isak’s hip, and Isak has to bite his lip from yelping.
Christian nods at them once before walking away.
As soon as he’s down the aisle and rounding the corner, Even lets go of Isak and positions himself so that he’s standing across from him again. Isak is all too aware of how incomplete he feels without Even holding onto him.
Then, he remembers how he’d completely subjected Even to a massive lie, possibly the biggest lie he’s ever told. And it was all because his ex had riled him up to that point, the point where Isak became the type of person who would do such things.
He doesn’t want Even to see him this way. He doesn’t want this to be the impression he gives him, even though they are only strangers to each other. He most likely won’t ever see Even again, and this will all be in his past, so he’s unsure of why apologizing feels so important to him right now.
“I’m sorry about…well, all of that,” Isak blurts out, before he can overthink it and turn on his heels and run, forget the goddamn ice cream.
Even nods and offers him a small smile, and Isak is just waiting for his face to distort and for him to start yelling. Anyone else would do just that.
“It’s no problem at all,” Even says, as if that just excuses everything, and Isak’s mouth hangs open a bit.
Even is ridiculously attractive, and he’s leaning onto the edge of Isak’s cart, telling him everything is just fine, and Isak’s having the same breathing problem as he was before.
“Thank you for stepping in like that,” he squeaks, tilting himself onto his toes and then back onto his heels.
The air is awkward as it hangs around them, but Even hasn’t stopped looking at Isak, not once.
Isak, on the other hand, has tried as best as possible to look anywhere BUT at Even. Because if he does, he’ll have to confront certain thoughts, and he’d rather not do that right now.
“Anything for my boyfriend,” Even answers sweetly, and that causes Isak to finally look up at him and bite out a laugh. Isak thinks Even’s a very accepting guy for someone who is likely straight.
“Yeah, right,” Isak snorts, “You saved my ass. My ex—,”
Even cuts him off before he can continue.
“You don’t have to tell a stranger anything you aren’t comfortable with. It’s cool.”
Isak closes his mouth, before saying, “How are we strangers if we’re dating?”
“Good point,” Even chuckles, “But we should do this the proper way.”
“Uh, the what?” Isak puzzles.
Even steps forward a bit and offers out his hand.
“Hi, I’m Even.”
Isak blinks his eyes a few times as he slowly reaches out to take Even’s hand in his. And my, does he have some soft hands.
Their hands feel good as they fit together, and Isak almost immediately begins to think about where else Even’s hands would feel good and—
He needs to shake those thoughts off right now.
So, he does, and he shakes Even’s hand too, and says, “Hi, I’m Isak.”
Even smiles a warm smile and Isak returns it just as warmly, even though, honestly, this entire situation is completely fucked up.
“Nice to meet you, Isak,” Even says.
And maybe it’s the tone of Even’s voice, or the fact that their hands stick together a bit longer than they really need to, but Isak finds himself blushing again and the hair on the back of his neck is starting to sweat.
This is very, very new, and that worries Isak, because he’s used to guys really not giving a shit about him, and from Isak’s first impression, Even is just way too kind to be like everyone else.
He feels like, somehow, everything in his life is already different from the moment he’d walked through those automatic doors.
Nothing is said between them for a few seconds, which seem to last forever in Isak’s mind, until Even speaks again.
“So, what flavor were you looking for?”
“Flavor?” Isak muddles, unsure.
Even laughs exasperatedly.
“Yeah, of ice cream?”
“Oh!” Isak almost shouts, and if it were socially acceptable for him to slap his forehead, he would be doing exactly that right now.
How many times can Isak be stupid in one sitting? He’s pretty sure he’s about to hit the max limit.
“Uh, cookie dough,” Isak tells him, and Even raises his eyebrows at that, clearly shocked.
“Wow, what a coincidence! Me too,” he says.
“Wait really?” What kind of fate type of bullshit is this?
“No!” Even laughs, throwing his head back, “Cookie dough is way too boring, I’m a double chocolate brownie type of person.”
“And you’re yelling at me for the shit that I’M eating.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I can date someone who likes cookie dough ice cream. Sorry,” Even smirks, doing a weird thing with his eyebrows.
Isak learns all too quickly that he very much likes that weird thing he does with his eyebrows.
“You’re breaking up with me already?” Isak says, playing along. My god, this man is intriguing.
“Yup. It was nice while it lasted,” Even chortles, placing his hand on his heart.
It seems that, if the two of them were truly dating, this would be the moment where Isak would playfully push him and call him ‘babe’ or something, but the harsh reality is that Isak didn’t even know an Even like him existed less than an hour ago, much less an Even that could be his boyfriend.
And the question as to whether or not Even could be his boyfriend is what bothers Isak the most, because if he was straight, then it was just never going to happen.
Not to mention the fact that Isak himself is coming out of a toxic six month relationship and is undoubtedly a little, if not a lot, fucked up from it. But Isak’s little spat with Christian hadn’t really kept that a secret from Even, now had it?
Was it impolite to straight up ask a person about their sexuality? Yeah, probably.
No matter how much he wants to, he’s not going to do it, and he’s going to let the question torture him probably until the end of time, because as soon as he walks out of those automatic doors, he’s never going to see “Even with the good hair’ ever again.
And that makes him sad, because having a fake boyfriend right now is becoming more and more inviting. If only the circumstances were different, if only they had done this properly, like Even had said not so much earlier.
“Can I have your number?” Isak hears in the distance from the back of his mind, a place he’d assuredly gotten lost in for a good few moments.
Even’s speaking, and—did he really just?
Isak focuses his gaze on Even’s face, and Even is still as solid and bright as ever, and—
Yes, he really did.
“My number?” Isak returns, confused. Why the hell would he want that?
“You know, in case you need me to be your fake boyfriend again or something,” Even says, and now he’s lowering his own head and shifting the weight between his feet. Almost like he’s unsure—or maybe nervous?
Whatever it is, Isak is baffled at how generous Even is, and how well he played along and kept himself guarded from asking too many questions, and if nothing else, he seems like he’d make a very great friend.
Which is probably why Isak hands his phone over to him almost too quickly, and why Even offers his phone to Isak, and Isak notices his fingers trembling as he types the numbers into Even’s phone.
They seem to finish typing at the same time, as they exchanges phones again, and this time yet another silence falls over them.
Even, just like always, is the one to break the tension.
“So, I’d better get going…” he says, as he trails off. And Isak is still aware of the fact that Even has no groceries in his hands, no basket, no cart, nothing at all. And this is yet another question Isak is left torturing himself with.
“Yeah,” Isak just replies shortly, not trying at all to mask his slight disappointment.
“I’ll see you soon,” Even muses, some sort of strength behind his statement.
Will he see me?
Isak just nods as Even begins to walk away, only he takes his first few strides backwards.
“Oh, and Isak?”
“Cookie dough is in the fifth freezer from the south end of the aisle.”
Even’s words are like an affirmation as they drift towards Isak’s ears, and as soon as Isak processes them, Even is giving him yet another warm smile that fades as he disappears from Isak’s point of view.
This might have been Isak’s first time grocery shopping where he didn’t hate absolutely everything about it.