“You’re always working late, Isak.”
Isak sighed, his phone between his ear and his shoulder, while he was sorting through some files on his desk:
“I’ll be there in like half an hour, I’m going to get changed right now.”
There was nothing but silence on the other end, and Isak closed his eyes, trying to compose himself:
“Okay? I’m going home right-“
His beeper went off. Fuck.
“Yeah. I’m so sorry, baby, I really am”, Isak promised, already walking out of his office and through the halls.
“I’ll put your food in the oven. Just come by when you’re done.”
“Thank you. You’re the best fucking boyfriend in the world”, Isak promised, relieved that he didn’t have to deal with any arguments tonight.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll make you pay for that, just so you know.”
Isak chuckled, and was about to whisper something seductive into his phone, but he had just reached the OR.
“Anything for you”, he said quickly, “see you later?”
“Yeah. Bye sweety.”
Isak dropped his phone into the pocket of his coat before entering the small room right before the OR, getting out of the coat and started to wash his hands with disinfecting soap.
One of the nurses was already there, holding his operation gown and helping him put it on, while Isak got one of the caps to hold his hair back and a mouth cover.
“What do we have?”, he asked, as the nurse tied his operation gown.
This was still pretty new to him, handling operations all on his own. But ever since his former boss had gone on maternity leave, they were short on surgeons and Isak happened to be the one who spend the most time here. He pretty much took care of all the emergencies all by himself now, even though it hadn’t been too long since he started working here.
“Male, maybe late 20s, didn’t carry an ID. Was hit by a car. Broken ribs, lots of internal bleeding, his left hand needs some work, a lot of crushed bones. Punctured lung. His heart frequency shows irregularities, but we’re not sure why. Unconscious. The driver called, he’s in surgery, too.”
“Okay, thanks”, Isak said, got his rubber gloves and went into the OR. The smell of fresh blood mixed with a lot of disinfecting smell used to get to him, now it was just the most normal thing in the world.
“Scalpel”, he ordered one of the nurses and went to work.
He was good at fixing people. And he knew it.
The operation took three hours and they had to revive the patient after his heart had just given up. Isak felt sweaty and exhausted and was all too happy when he got home to his boyfriend.
“Hey”, he murmured, tired, when he entered the kitchen.
Adrian looked up at him and gave him a warm smile: “Hey you. Everything good?”
Isak didn’t say anything, instead just moved closer and let Adrian hug him for a couple of minutes.
“Had to revive a patient today”, he told him quietly, while Adrian ran his hands over Isak’s back.
“Mh. It was pretty close, I think, but he’s stable now.”
“You’re a good doctor”, Adrian praised and kissed Isak’s cheek.
“So you’re not pissed at me anymore?”, Isak asked, moving away a little.
Adrian turned on the oven, where Isak could see some leftover lasagna, and said:
“I’ll lay off you tonight. You do owe me a blowjob though.”
Isak grinned at him, nodding: “That’s fair.”
“Well, good afternoon, Dr. Valtersen.”
Isak rolled his eyes at his colleague, Sana, who was grinning at him with that suspicious look. He had known her for a really long time, ever since they had saved each other’s asses in biology class. There was not a single person that could read him like she could.
Most of the time, when she had that smug look on her face, he wasn’t even sure himself what it was that he did. But she always made sure to remind him of it.
“Hey Sana”, he replied, taking a look of the files on the counter.
“You look rather radiant”, she teased.
“Radiant?”, he repeated, leaning against the counter, grinning at her, “if you want to know if I had sex this morning, you are welcome to just ask.”
“I don’t have to ask”, Sana reminded him, “I know your I-just-had-sex face by heart. It was pretty much the only face you had all through our third year.”
Isak rolled his eyes, picking up the files of his patients: “So not true.”
There it was again, the smug, knowing expression on her face and he just shook his head slightly:
“You and Yousef should really come over sometime. It’s been a while.”
“Yeah, we should do that. How about- what?”, Sana interrupted herself when Isak frowned at one of his files.
“Just… I had an emergency last night, and I transferred the case, because I have too many patients already. Obviously didn’t happen.”
“The guy that was hit by a car last night?”, Sana asked.
“Yeah, he refuses to talk to people. Apparently he was a pretty big jerk to Elise last night, when he woke up from the anesthesia. And they told me that they don’t have an ID or anything, so they really don’t know how to provide any medication, because he could easily be allergic or something. Seems to be a real pain in the ass. I guess that’s why they sneaked him back into your care.”
Isak rolled his eyes: “Why the fuck would they do that?”
“Because you can’t say no”, she told him, giving him a smile.
“What makes them think that I’m the right person to take care of some weird guy that bitches at everybody?”, Isak complained and they started walking towards their patient’s rooms.
“Maybe they were just trying to do you a favor?”, Sana suggested, stopping in front of one door.
“Well, if I heard correctly, the guy is supposed to be, and I quote ‘so fucking hot’”, Sana winked at him and entered the room without another word, and Isak rolled his eyes and got into the next room.
Isak ordered Elise, one of the nurses, to try again, and after she came out of the room pissed off and frustrated, and told Isak that his patient was just not capable of any social interaction. Isak then passed the case on to two of his med students, who were determined to deal with it all on their own to impress Isak. It didn’t work, though, because even though they didn’t receive and snappy comments, the patient apparently didn’t talk to them at all. Isak then passed the case on to one of his older colleagues, telling him that this patient was so difficult that he felt like it was better if somebody more experienced took over. Apparently it didn’t go well, either, because when Isak was done for the day, he found the file sitting on his desk with a note that the patient had been transferred back into his care and needed checking up ASAP.
Isak spend half an hour complaining to Sana, who listened patiently before she shrugged and told him that since he had his night shift tonight anyway, he might as well try.
Isak didn’t know how to argue against that, so he just rolled his eyes, and hugged her goodbye before making his way to the mysterious patient’s room.
It was around eight pm when Isak entered the room of the patient in question. He put the papers that he had brought on the table. He had to grade some papers for a class he started teaching, and his night shifts were perfect for that, at least when there were no emergencies that needed to be taken care of.
He walked up to the bed and looked at his patient. He was sleeping, so Isak took the time to look at him. He was really handsome, Isak had to admit, even though right now his good looks were kind of shadowed by the pale skin, the dark circles underneath his eyes, the messy hair and the scratches and bruises on his face. But Isak knew what people looked like after accidents and he knew that underneath all of that, yes, that dude was probably really hot.
He studied the file of the patient, his dose of pain killers, his blood results. Then he studied the pretty sleeping face for a second, before he sat down on the small table next to the window, and started working on the papers he had to grade. He was teaching Anatomy right now, because the same colleague that went on maternity leave had left him not only with too many patients, but with an actual class full of students. He liked teaching, actually, even though it could get kind of embarrassing, because not too long ago he was sitting in classes like that, and he knew a couple of his students from drunk parties. Luckily, that only made them like him more, and they kept the teasing to a minimum. Mostly.
Isak was still buried in work when he heard his patient cough. He got up and walked over to him:
The guy just stared at him, frowning, and Isak smiled at him:
“I’ll get you some water. Be right back.”
He got him a bottle of water, poured some of it into a glass, holing it up to his patient’s very beautiful lips and helped him drink a few mouthfuls of water, which involved a little coughing and grimacing on the guy’s part, but Isak was used to it. He set the glass down and took the file, so that he had something to look at, to give his patient a few seconds to orient himself.
“So. I didn’t introduce myself yet. I’m Dr. Isak Valtersen. I’m the operating doctor on your case. Are you feeling okay right now? You know, considering.”
That earned him something that looked like an almost smile, and his patient nodded. He looked so tired and exhausted and sad, that Isak almost cared. And he never cared. It wasn’t healthy. Caring about his patient’s blood pressure, yes, about their broken bones and their heart frequencies, yes, but never about them being sad.
Isak ran his hand through his hair, which probably looked like a complete mess by now:
“I won’t force you to talk to me, or anything. But I do have to ask you a few questions. Just because if you don’t tell me your name or your age, we can’t really know if you suffer any memory loss or amnesia. And if you were, we would have to know. Okay?”
“I also need to know if you take any medication or if you have any allergies. It’s important for me to know that, because sometimes different medication doesn’t work together and I don’t want to give you any medication that doesn’t work for you. Okay?”
“Okay. Thank you. I’m not doing this to invade in your life or to piss you off, it’s just important to know for medical reasons. I get that you don’t want to talk, really. And I won’t bother you after this, I promise. Can you remember your name?”
Then, he cleared his throat: “Even. Bech Næsheim.”
He had a nice voice, too, Isak realized, deep and soothing. It sounded kind of weak and hoarse now, but Isak still liked the sound of it.
“Thank you. Is it okay if I put it on your file? I don’t have to if you don’t want me to.”
“Nobody is going to be able to read it anyway, trust me”, Isak grinned, and Even shot him another one of those tiny almost-smiles.
“How old are you?”
“Mhm. Any allergies that you know of?”
Even shook his head, looking more and more exhausted.
“Okay. Do you take any medication?”
Even closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
“Everything you tell me is doctor-patient-confidential. That means that I am not allowed to tell anybody what you tell me. So even if you have taken some illegal drugs, it’s okay. I won’t judge. And I can’t tell anybody about it.”
Even shook his head: “No, it’s-“ Another deep breath.
“I take Tegretol.”
“Okay. Do you remember what dose you usually take?”, Isak asked.
“Um. 400mg per day.”
“Good. Perfect. Thank you so much for talking to me. It really helps a lot. I’ll get you your medication for tomorrow morning, okay? There shouldn’t be any side effects, with benzodiazepine and the antibiotics and painkillers you’re getting. If you still feel weird, like dizzy, nauseous, whatever, you should tell me. Okay?”
Even frowned a little, staying quiet, then cleared his throat again.
He looked at his hands when he asked: “You’re not going to ask why I take them?”
Isak shrugged: “No. You’re welcome to tell me, but you don’t have to.”
Even nodded and closed his eyes again, remaining quiet for a few seconds. Isak just waited.
“I have bipolar disorder. I mean- just in case that’s important for you to know.”
He didn’t look at Isak when he said it, but still looked up to see Isak’s reaction.
“Thank you. For telling me”, Isak said, giving Even a smile, “if you want to talk to somebody, I can get you a psychologist for tomorrow.”
Even just shook his head.
“Okay then. If you change your mind, you can always tell me. Just one last thing, do you want me to call somebody? Or do you want to call somebody yourself?”
Even hesitated, cleared his throat again: “Maybe my parents?”
Isak nodded, taking out his phone: “You want to call yourself or do you want me to call?”
Even shrugged and gestured towards Isak, who nodded, handing Even the phone: “Can you dial their number?”
“What will you tell them?”
“Just that you were in an accident and that you’re fine. Do you want them to visit you?”
Even shrugged again, and nodded a little, looking away again.
Isak waited for a woman with a really nice voice to pick up and informed her about Even’s accident, his current state and his location, told her the visiting hours and answered some of her questions. This was a pretty basic routine for him.
“She says hi. They’ll come by next week, they’re still in Denmark.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Okay. Anybody else?”
Even shrugged again, and Isak just smiled at him: “Maybe we’ll just take this one phone call at a time, okay?”
Even nodded, seeming relieved, and Isak nodded in approval.
“Okay then. Do you want me to leave you alone or is it okay if I stay and grade my papers here in your room?”
Even frowned: “Why?”
“I don’t know, sometimes it’s nicer to have company. I don’t really like to hang with the nurses all the time, too many nasty comments on all the annoying doctors”, Isak explained, “I’ll leave though. If you want me to.”
“No, I- it’s fine”, Even said quietly, “what kind of papers are you grading?”
“I teach anatomy at the university.”
“You seem to be really young, though”, Even said, looking Isak up and down.
“Yeah, I’m just filling in for a colleague. She’s on maternity leave, and I had to take over.”
Even squinted his eyes: “How old are you?”
Isak hesitated for a second, and Even raised his eyebrows: “Doctor-patient-confidential.”
Isak smiled at him: “27.”
Even nodded, giving Isak another one of those almost smiles, and let his head fall back into his pillow, looking exhausted again.
“Just let me know when you need something”, Isak assured him, and Even nodded again, closing his eyes and shifting around until he was comfortable.
Isak went back to his desk, and kept grading papers until it was almost midnight.
Even had fallen asleep at some point, and Isak couldn’t help to stare at him for just one tiny second before he left.
“I just have to check on one more patient, then I’m out”, Isak promised, holding he phone between his cheek and his shoulder while he organized some files on his desk.
“Yeah, then they’ll beep you and you have to do another operation. It’s already eight, Isak. Can’t you just come home now?”, Adrian pleaded, and Isak took a deep breath.
He hated disappointing his boyfriend like that. He felt so guilty for never being there, for always working late. But he had to check up on Even before he left. He still wasn’t sure about some of the medication, the stitches could still become infected, there was a lot that could go wrong, and Even still didn’t talk to the nurses, so nobody really knew if he was in pain.
“I already changed, they can’t beep me, I’m off my shift, so”, Isak explained, as he started walking the halls towards Even’s room.
“If you’re off your shift, why can’t you come home?”, Adrian asked.
“Because I can’t. I’m sorry. I’ll be there in an hour, okay?”
“Please don’t be mad”, Isak said, “I’m sorry, okay? I don’t work on the weekend, though. We can do something then.”
“Wow, a free weekend?”, Adrian said ironically.
“I’m sorry”, Isak repeated, as he got to Even’s room, “can we just talk later?”
“Sorry. See you later.”
“I love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Isak entered Even’s room. Even was awake, looking at the ceiling, turning his head to see who was bothering him. Isak imagined that his face lit up just the tiniest bit, but it could just be his impression.
“Hey”, he said, taking Even’s file and looking at some of the results.
“Hi.” His voice still sounded hoarse, and Isak still liked it.
“How are you? Doing okay with the medication?”, Isak asked, looking down at the file.
Isak nodded, putting the file away again: “Okay. Any pain?”
“Just, you know, everywhere, all the time.”
Isak chuckled, even though he was sure that Even was pretty serious.
“Sorry”, he apologized, “can I look at your stitches?”
Because the nurses had told him that Even refused to let anybody touch him, and Isak really wanted to check if there were any infections. Also, Even needed new bandages on them, so that everything would stay clean.
Even shrugged, looking away again, and Isak wasn’t really sure if that was a go-sign.
“Can I… lift up your shirt?”, he asked, suddenly feeling weird for some reason.
It was no big deal. People got naked in front of him all the time. He didn’t care. He wasn’t even allowed to care. And this wasn’t even naked. This was a bare chested, it was even less than no big deal. It was no deal at all.
Even pulled his shirt up quietly, which didn’t really work because he couldn’t use his left hand.
“Is it okay for me to touch you?”, Isak asked quietly, and Even just looked at him, confused, before giving him another nod. Isak stepped closer, taking the shirt out of Even’s hands, his own hands brushing against Even’s chest when he pulled his shirt up all the way.
Then he grabbed some disinfection gel from the nightstand, rubbing it on his hand:
“I’ll take off your bandages now. Is that okay?”
“Tell me when something hurts or when you’re not comfortable with something.”
Isak hummed and went to work. The stitches over Even’s stomach looked good, the ones over his ribcage looked even better. Isak couldn’t help but brag a little:
“You know, you’re lucky I did that. I’m like the master of stitches. If you’re lucky, you won’t even see a scar. Everything looks really good.”
“Master of stitches? Really?”, Even asked.
Isak grinned at him and crossed the room, getting disinfecting spray and new bandages.
They remained silent while Isak disinfected the stitches, putting two bandages over them, and finished by taping them onto Even’s body, before gently pulling his shirt down:
“All good”, he told him, soft and quiet, like he would speak to a child.
Even nodded, which Isak interpreted as a Thank you, so he smiled at him while disinfecting his hands again.
“You’re not wearing your coat.”
Isak shook his head: “Already done for the day.”
“Why are you here, then?”
“Can’t get enough of the smell of disinfecting spray”, Isak joked, and it earned him another almost-smile.
“I’ll let you sleep now, okay?”, he said, pushing his hands into his pockets, “unless there is something else I can do for you?”
Even shook his head: “I’m fine.”
“Okay. Have a good night. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
Even nodded, and gave Isak a small smile, which Isak returned, before he turned around and left.
“Hey”, Isak said as he walked into Even’s room during his lunch break the next day.
Even didn’t say anything back, but he smiled at Isak and Isak felt like seeing the sun rise for the first time.
“How are you?”, Isak asked, and Even shrugged: “Okay.”
“Great.” Isak took Even’s file and studied the numbers, words, short terms for meds and notes.
“Everything looks good. I’d like to do an ultrasound on your heart in the next few days, though, just to make sure we’re not missing something. And I’ll have them do an MRI on you, just to see if everything is still looking good. Okay?”
“Um, why are you doing an ultrasound on my heart?”, Even asked.
“There were some irregularities in your heart frequency when you were brought to us. Nothing major, just something I wanted to check out when you’re feeling better. You don’t have to worry, it’s just routine”, Isak assured him, giving him one of his winning doctor smiles.
Even just nodded along, and Isak made a note on the file: “Okay, great. Um, do you need me to call somebody else for you? Just asking.”
“My roommate. But I’d like to call him myself, so… is there a phone I could use or something?”, Even asked, not looking at Isak.
“Um, yeah, I could try to get you a phone to use. But it can take a few hours sometimes”, Isak said, before reaching into his pocket: “Here, just take mine.”
“You’re giving me your private phone?”, Even asked again.
“It’s actually my work phone, so there’s nothing personal on there. Well, nothing too personal, anyway”, Isak grinned, “if you find something embarrassing, ignore it.”
Even smiled a little: “Doctor patient confidential.”
Isak laughed: “Absolutely. I’ll be in the next room, and I’ll come back for the phone when I’m finished, okay?”
Even nodded, and Isak left to check on his other patient.
When he came back into Even’s room, he was still holding Isak’s phone, not talking, but doing something that Isak wasn’t sure he was happy about. He did have some private messages on there, because Adrian wasn’t really good with boundaries and called or texted him on that phone sometimes. Normally, Isak didn’t mind, but normally he didn’t hand out the phone to patients and let them check his messages.
“Hi”, he greeted Even, who looked at him in disbelief:
“You’re in level 1306?”
“Candy Crush. You’re in level 1306.”
“Mh, yeah, I’ve been stuck there for like three month now. It’s the worst level ever”, Isak admitted, and Even gave him another smile.
“Did you get a hold of your roommate?”, Isak asked, not taking the phone away from Even, who obviously continued to play.
“Yeah. He’ll come visit me in a few days.”
“That sounds good.”
Isak watched Even, who was still playing on the phone, and waited patiently for him to be finished, laying back onto his back, rolling his eyes: “It really is the worst level”, he said, handing Isak the phone.
Isak took it and laughed: “I know.”
He put his phone away and ran his hand through his hair: “I better get going. I’ll come by tonight, change your bandages, okay?”
“Yeah”, Isak smiled at him, “see you later.”
Isak was pretty tired when he got to Even’s room that night.
“Hey”, he said, and Even just looked at him for a moment before looking back at the ceiling.
Isak didn’t take it personally. He asked if he was allowed to change Even’s bandages, if he was allowed to pull up his shirt, touch him. Even still seemed confused that Isak was asking at all, but every request Isak made was met with a short nod or a shrug.
They didn’t talk, and Isak didn’t feel the need to. There were very few people that he felt comfortable being quiet with, he realized. Most of the time, he felt the need to fill the silence, and he had picked up really good smalltalk skills while working here, because situations like these always made him uncomfortable.
Today though, it seemed completely okay. Maybe it was because he was just tired, maybe because he knew that Even was probably not in the best place right now, and was not in the mood to talk to anybody. He didn’t really care, why, but he enjoyed the silence surrounding them, and took a little longer to change the bandages than he really needed.
“Okay, all done”, he said, reaching for Even’s shirt to pull it down with slow motions.
Even shot him an almost smile before looking back at the ceiling.
“Can I… do something? For you, I mean?”, Isak dared to ask, even though he already knew the answer to it.
Even shook his head.
“Okay. I’ll let you sleep now, okay? Thank you for talking to me today, and for letting me change your bandages. I know this can all be kind of… annoying. You did really good.”
Even looked at him, confused again, before smiling at Isak a little, giving him a tiny shrug, as if to say ‘You’re welcome’.
“Good night, Even”, Isak said, voice calm and soft, and turned around to leave.
He was almost at the door when he heard Even’s low voice: