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Til Kingdom Come

Chapter Text

AUGUST

We were strangers, starting out on a journey

Never dreaming, what we'd have to go through

Now here we are, I'm suddenly standing

At the beginning with you

 





Even could barely walk through the door. He just heard it close behind him, and stood glued to the floor. Marianne had warned him carefully about how tiny and fragile Isak looked. It was worse than he imagined. He felt his throat close up, he couldn't breathe. He wanted to turn and run away from this. He couldn't do this. He just couldn’t.

 

 

 



Even sat up in his bed, covered in sweat, feeling like he couldn't breathe. A nightmare. He reached out for Isak… but he wasn't next to him. Maybe this wasn't a nightmare then. Maybe it was real? He tried to look around the room, but it was so dark. Glancing at the clock next to the bed, the digits lifting up, he realised why he was alone. Isak was working the nightshift. Of course. It had been only a nightmare. They were fine. Isak was fine. Even was fine. Everything was just fine. He just needed to breathe, take deep breaths. It had just been another nightmare.


It had been six years since that night. Isak had started studying medicine the year after, when he had been in remission for a year. He wanted to become a doctor. Even was so proud of him. This autumn he had started specialising in the field he wanted to work in; oncology.

Even had found that a bit morbid at first, Isak wanting to work with the very thing that nearly killed him. But then Isak had sat him down and explained that he wanted to work against the thing that nearly killed him. He wanted to learn more about it, learn how it worked and how to fight it. Even could understand that, he could. And Isak working with cancer meant that he was extra careful of any signs of the cancer coming back. But it had been six years and Isak had been healthy. He was fine. He was good.

Same thing could not be said about Even. He was a freaking mess. He still went to his therapist twice a week, and a few months ago they had to put him on stronger meds. He had been at a point of total collapse, having panic attacks and breakdowns regularly. Isak had been the one to prescribe the stronger meds after a particularly heavy panic attack during one night, making Even feel even more hopeless. But he was still grateful for Isak’s caring. He never got angry at his husband, or disagree with him. Even knew Isak only meant to help.

But Isak didn't meddle in Even’s therapy. And he had only prescribed the drugs at request from Even’s therapist. Even appreciated that. The fact that Isak trusted him enough to not meddle, despite the fact that Even just didn't get any better.

Even sat up, groaning. He was a freaking mess. A sorry asshole who only burdened Isak and his parents. They were living in their own apartment now, he and Isak. But he often went home to his parents on the nights when Isak worked, not wanting to sleep alone. Even having his dog, Buddy, didn't help all that much anymore. It helped a little. Just not enough.

He had given up his dream of being a director. He was a fucking mess after what had happened with Isak and the cancer. So he had to quit. Now he worked part-time in a coffee-shop, being a barista. He only worked four hours, three days a week. Isak told him it was fine, that he was proud of Even for trying. Even felt like a failure. Isak had to pay for almost all their regular expenses, as Even made so little money he could barely pay for his meds. His parents supplied some, but he hated asking them for money.

Even knew that no-one blamed him for being sick. But he had been sick for years before Isak got cancer and he always managed to function. Now all he could do was lay in bed, holding his dog and try not to panic. He woke up in the middle of the night, screaming in terror, being back in that hospital room, the pain so strong he couldn't even breathe.

Most nights Isak would be there, holding him, telling him it was okay. Telling him that he was there, he was fine, they were fine. Even knew it was true, but his body betrayed his head. He couldn't control it. He could repeat it over and over, that things were fine. He still got panic attacks and nightmares.

He had to find a way to change this, to break the cycle.

He gave up sleeping, it was five o’ clock anyway. He got dressed and tok Buddy out for a walk. The dog was a bit tired, but still went with him happily. They walked around for an hour, a bit long for a morning walk but Even didn't have any plans today and it was nice outside. It was a nice day.

When he got back inside, he decided to make some pancakes. It was around six thirty and Isak would be home by seven. If he didn't have to work overtime again. Hopefully not. Even knew how tired Isak had been for the past few weeks.

Finding all the ingredients, he started making pancakes, turning on the radio and singing softly along to it as he worked. He wasn't a particularly good cook. He could make a few things and he had learned some over the years. But he could make a decent breakfast at least.

Lost in thought, he didn't hear the door open, or Isak getting in. He didn't realise his husband was home before he felt strong, warm arms wrap around his waist and Isak whisper “Smell’s good.” in his ear.

Even turned around and smiled at Isak happily. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Isak said, kissing Even quickly before pulling away to sit down and pet Buddy. “Why aren't you guys in bed still? I was planning to sneak in and join you.” Isak smiled, laughing when Buddy flipped over, belly up, expecting a stomach scratch.

Even shrugged and turned back to his cooking. “Woke up early.”

“Even. Nightmares again?”

“Yeah.”

“Baby…” Even could feel Isak’s arm wrapping around his waist again. “Are you going in for a therapy session tomorrow?”

“Mhm.”

“Maybe I should come.”

Even pulled the pan of the stove, turned the stove off and turned around in Isak’s embrace. “Why?”

“This is getting worse. We need to do something Even.”

“Do what? What is there to do? They have tried everything and I’m still a fucking freak.”

“Don’t. Don’t you dare say stuff like that about yourself.” Isak pulled away, and turned his back to Even, started to walk across the floor. Turned around again, his face radiating with sadness.“But we can’t live like this Even. I don’t mind you staying home while I work, that’s not the problem. The problem is knowing how horrible you're feeling when you're here alone all day. It messes me up. I just want to help you. Please.”

Even had heard it all before. And he couldn't help but feel like a burden to Isak. The problem was; there wasn’t anything more to do, or try. His therapist had tried everything. Even was a lost cause. She hadn't used those exact words, but he knew he was a lost cause. But he replied what the knew Isak would want to hear. “I know. You can come, maybe she has another idea, I don’t know. Maybe you two can come up with one together.”

“Thank you.” Isak just said, and like that, the talk was over. They sat down at the table and ate pancakes in silence. Isak said he needed a few hours of sleep, but maybe they could take Buddy for a walk in the forrest later? Even had just nodded and told him to go to bed, he would clean up in the kitchen.

Even washed the dishes, and started cleaning the rest of the apartment. He didn't use the vacuum, not wanting to wake up his husband. But he washed every room apart from the bedroom, and even did some laundry. When he was finished it had been two hours, and he figured Isak needed more sleep than that. Grabbing his sketch book, he walked silently into the bedroom and seated himself on the windowsill.

Taking a few minutes to study his sleeping husband, Even found himself smiling. Isak was so beautiful, so peaceful. Grabbing his pen, he started sketching.

He was nearly done when he felt a hand on his shoulder. “You’re amazingly good at drawing babe. You’ve always been. And somehow you just keep getting better.”

Realising that Isak was standing next to him, Even looked up at his smiling husband. His smiling, naked husband. “What time.. is it?” he managed to whisper a little brokenly, his throat suddenly dry. They had been together for 8 years now but Even still felt like a love sick teenage girl whenever Isak undressed in front of him. Or kissed him. Or simply flirted with him.

“Noon. Wanna join me in bed?” Isak’s voice was a little deeper than normal, sending shivers down Even’s spine.

“I thought we were going for a walk…” Even tailed off, pretending to not understand what Isak wanted. But his body betrayed him, making Isak chuckle softly.

Isak just took Even’s sketchbook and pen and placed them down on the windowsill before grabbing his hands and dragging Even over to the bed. It was going to be light out for a while, they had time…


——————-


“Buddy, don’t drag me!” Even was laughing. Isak laughed with him. They were in the forrest, and had found a path with no other people on. “That’s it, I’ll take his leash off.” Even took the leash of the dog, who ran along happily, sniffing at everything. Even turned around, facing his husband. “I love you Isak.”

“I love you too Even.”

 

Even smiled, grabbed Isak’s hand and they started walking again. Despite his bad morning, he was feeling a bit better now.

“Is this one of the places you and Jonas run?” Isak asked after a while. Even nodded slowly. He was still running with Jonas a few times a week. Jonas had also pulled his life together, working in politics. It had surprised them both. Well, mostly Even, Isak had knows that Jonas was passionate about the politics.

“Are we still going to that party at his place tomorrow?” Isak asked. Even nodded again. Jonas was having a party the last Friday of every month, and they always went. So did all their friends. Well, almost all. Noora had moved to London again, now married to William. They had found back to each other a few months after Isak’s transplantation. She had come to visit a few times, and joined a few of the Friday gatherings. The rest of the original gang were coming.

They walked for a while longer before Even decided to sit down on a rock. Isak just sat down next to him. They sat in silence. Even had been thinking a while now, and decided to tell Isak what was on his mind. He had been debating this back and forth for a few weeks. Isak never pushed him to talk, he was always patient and kind with him. Even often felt like he didn't deserve Isak. He probably didn’t.

“I have to start making some changes Isak. Going to that appointment tomorrow won’t be enough. I have to figure out what to do with my life. Working in a coffee shop and spending the rest of my days home, trying not to panic. Most days I can’t even gather myself enough to help around the house. It’s not fair to you.”

 

“Even… I don’t mind-“

“I know you don’t. But I do. And I don’t want to keep living like this. I need to get out of this shit. I have to figure my life out.”

“You don’t want to be with me anymore?” He could hear the hurt in Isak’s voice. Shit. He hadn't meant it to sound like that.

“Of course, that’s not what I’m saying, not at all! Shit. This is all coming out wrong.” He buried his head in his hands. “I just need to figure my life out without help. I need to find a way to fix this mess in my head, and I think the only way to do that is by doing it alone, without help. It has nothing to do with you Isak, or anyone else. I just need to find myself, so I can be better for you.”

“What exactly are your plan Even?” Isak just asked. He didn't sound upset, or angry. Maybe a little sad or hurt. Mostly he sounded genuinely curious and concerned.

“I want to go travelling. Europe. For a month at first, maybe longer. Draw. Visit places. Try to find out what I wanna do with my life. But I have to go alone. I have discussed this a few times with my therapist. She think now is a good time. I’m not on the verge of an episode and the new meds are working fine.” He turned around, looking at his husband. Searched his face for a reaction.

 

Isak looked like he wanted to cry and Even regretted telling him this now. He wasn't getting the message out the right way. He made it sound like Isak was the reason of his problems, that he had to get away. Escape. Well, it was partly true, but it wasn't Isak’s fault. “No, just forget it. I’m sorry.” he added quickly.

But Isak shock his head. “No, no Even. Of course you have to go! If you think this can help, then go. I support you. I will wait for you. Just go, figure out your life!” Isak was actually smiling a little. There were tears in his eyes, but he was smiling at Even.

Even couldn't believe this. He couldn't believe that Isak would be so understanding. He couldn't believe that he himself was so selfish and kept taking and taking from this generous, wonderful man. But this was the reason for him going on this trip, right? So he could get a grip on himself, start being an actual normal person again, instead of a angsty mess. “Are you sure? Like, really sure?”

“I’m sure Even. I will wait for you. Til kingdom come.”


———————

Telling his parents had been just as hard as telling Isak. And they weren't as easily convinced. He was actually glad Isak had been called in to work and couldn't come with him to see them, because it turned into a screaming match. Like, literally.

“EUROPE? ALONE!?!?!?”

“Mom.”

“ALONE?? EUROPE??”

“Mom.”

“EVEN BECH NÆSHEIM!”

“You know that’s not my name anymore, I’ve changed it, please use my actual name when you are screaming at me.”

“IT’S THE NAME YOU HAD AS A CHILD AND NOW YOU ARE ACTING LIKE ONE SO I WILL USE THAT!”

“MOM!”

“EVEN!”

“STOP FUCKING SCREAMING YOU TWATS!” Anders broke in and the kitchen fell silent. Like, awkward silence, until Anders started laughing. “You two are ridiculous. The kid wants to do something with his life Lisa, he wants to try to get better and you are screaming at him? And actually, he isn't even a kid anymore so yeah.”

When Even smiled, his father turned to him. “And you, springing this on us the day before you leave is shitty. You should have given us a lot more time to digest this. Like minimum a month.”

Even just nodded at his dad. He had given this a lot of thought, and the reason he wanted to do this on the spur of the moment, was that he feared he would back out if he planned it ahead. He feared his psyche and angst would get the better of him and keep him from doing this at all. But he needed to do this.

His mother seemed to have calmed down a bit, so he dared to speak again. “I’m sorry mom. But I need to do this.” It’s this or the psychward.

His mother looked at him for a long time. He could feel himself crumble under her glare. She didn't look happy. She looked furious. So he expected more yelling. “I know.” she finally said, and the anger was gone from her eyes. “But what about Isak?”

“He’s fine mom. He has his life together. He had a good job, friends, and no mental problems. He has been in remission for six years and he never talks about that period anymore. But I can’t seem to leave it. I can’t escape it. So I need to get away and try to find a way to move on, so I don’t manage to drag him down into this black hole where I’m headed. I need to get better, find myself, figure my life out. Not only for myself but also for him. I want us to be able to start living, instead of him taking care of me and my problem.”

“Fine. Okay, go. Fine. But you call us every day and you take your meds and you take care of yourself properly, okay?”

“Yes. Thank you mom.”

“I love you Even.”

————

 

Even’s therapist had said some of the same things. She was glad he had decided to go. They talked about making a plan or not, but Even decided against. He wanted to pack a bag and board the plane, go to Paris first and then go from there. His parents had agreed to fund the trip, and Isak insisted on helping out economically as well. Even had accepted, knowing it was Isak’s only way to help him, and had the roles been reversed he knew that he too would have wanted to do anything and everything to help his husband.

Now they were standing in Jonas’ kitchen, sipping beers and talking. Well, Isak and Jonas was talking about their jobs. Even didn't have anything to talk about and just hung out, listening to the younger men talk. He studied his husband, who was wearing a dark grey button up shirt, and light grey jeans. He had filled out a lot since they were younger, with strong muscular arms and nice abs, but he was still quite slim and lean. Even himself was wearing a dark blue button up shirt and black jeans. He had folded up the arms and was now looking down at his wrist. The ugly scar was still there. Maybe he would get a tattoo while he was traveling. He had talked about it with Isak before, but Isak was against the idea. He told Even that he should be proud of his scar, like Isak was proud of his. But Isak’s scar was from a kidney transplant and showed that he had survived cancer. Even’s scar was from a moment of weakness and despair. He hated it.

“So, I’ve heard you're travelling Europe man? That’s awesome.” Jonas’ voice brought him back to reality.

Even nodded quickly. Adjusted his grip on the beer. Of course Isak had told Jonas. “Yeah, I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon.”

“That soon?”

“Yeah. I have to figure my life out, you know?”

“I know. Good luck Even. I hope you find what you're looking for.” Jonas left them there in the kitchen, going out in the living room to talk to Magnus. Who was still by some miracle dating Vilde.

Isak walked over to Even and put a hand on his waist, smiling. “I’m proud of you.”

“For leaving you?” Even couldn't help but snort.

“For being brave enough to try this. It’s a long shot, yeah, but it beats taking more drugs or having to be admitted to a psychiatric-ward.” That had been the only option left, the only thing they hadn't tried. Or even discussed. And neither of them wanted that, because they knew there would probably be no coming back from that.

“I really hope this works out Isak. I can’t keep being a burden to you.”

“You’re not.”

“I feel like it.”

“I know. And that’s why I’m okay with you doing this.” Isak’s smile was so genuine, so happy, so filled with pride. It made Even’s insides clench with love.

“I love you Dr. Isak Valtersen Næsheim.”

“I love you too Even Valtersen Næsheim.” Isak smiled softly and kissed him.

Even kissed his beautiful husband back and for a moment he wanted time to stop, the night to never end. He didn't want to leave Isak behind. He didn't even know if he could manage to be on his own. But he had to try. He just had to.


————-


Standing at the airport in Paris Even really wondered what he had thought with this. He couldn't do this, could he? None the less, he gathered his backpack and walked out of the airport, getting on a train and following the other travellers. He pulled out his cellphone and debated calling Isak, hoping that his husband’s voice could soothe him. Mentally scolding himself for being so weak, he just sent a text instead to let his husband know he was okay.

 

 


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Arrived in Paris, safe and sound. I love you. E <3



Then he walked off the train and started walking. This was the first day of his new life, and if he succeeded, he would be able to go back as the husband Isak deserved.

But that wasn't the only reason he wanted to do this. He wanted it for himself. He wanted to find himself. He wanted to be more than bipolar and PTSD. He wanted to become the Even Bech Næsheim he was before Isak got sick. He was going to find out who Even Valtersen Næsheim really was. So with that in mind, he walked forwards, going where his heart lead him.

Chapter Text

Isak would be lying if he said he wasn't sad. Of course he was sad that Even had left, and on such short notice. But he also understood how much Even needed to do something like this. It was just really bad timing…

Isak had stayed behind when they were in therapy yesterday and talked to Even’s therapist. They didn't talk too often, only when Even wanted them too or about prescriptions and whether Isak needed to keep an extra eye on Even for a period of time or not.

“Is this a good idea? Letting him out in the unknown like that, in his condition?” He had asked her bluntly, as the door had closed behind Even.

“Honestly? I don’t know Isak. But I agree that he needs for something to change. It’s been six years, and he is only getting worse. This medication he is on now, it’s not good for him. We need a new approach, and why not this. He can call you if anything goes wrong, and worst case scenario is that we need to call someone to keep an eye on him if it seems like he’s slipping. But honestly, I think he will be fine. He just needs to get out of this bubble of hurt he has put himself in.”

“Yeah. I know we need to do something, but this?”

“Give him a chance Isak. It’s this or the psychward. You know it as well as I. We have no more alternatives, we’ve tried everything.”

“I know. Fuck.” He buried his face in his hands for a few seconds, trying to gather himself. “You know, this is all my fault. Had I just left him when I got sick all those years ago, stayed away from him, he wouldn't be like this. He would have been heartbroken yes, but he wouldn't have been this broken. I don’t know how to fix this. I could have fixed heartbreak. But this?” he shook his head.

“Don’t blame yourself. He would probably have been more broken if he had to watch you be sick from the sidelines, unable to be close to you or help you. Face it Isak, as much as that boy loves you, he would never have accepted being pushed away when you were sick. This was not your fault, you didn’t get cancer on purpose. No-one does.”

“I know that.”

“Yes. So stop blaming yourself.”

“I’m trying. Every day. But it’s so hard, watching him fall apart. I thought we were past this, that he was on the road to better. But then two years ago he just turned around and got worse. And I don’t know how to help him.”

“I don’t really either. I’ve tried everything. I even consulted all my colleges. So I think this is something we need to let him do. If it doesn't work we will try to deal with it. But if by a small chance this can help him? I say it’s worth it.”

“Okay. We’re doing this then.”

“That we are.”


————

 

 

Still, Isak felt a little abandoned laying in their big bed alone. Well, not entirely alone, Buddy was there. But he felt lonely without Even. They had slept next to each other for nearly eight years, a little on an off the first two, but yeah. He didn't like sleeping alone. Or being alone. He was off work for a few days, having logged so much overtime that he needed to take a few days.

His mind was racing a million miles per hour. He had stuff nagging him, and he had wanted to tell Even about it that day when they were on a walk. But hearing about Even’s plan, he realised his husband couldn't take it. He sat up in bed realising he wouldn't get any sleep anyway, and called Jonas.

“Hey!” He heard a happy voice on the other end. He hadn't woken Jonas then.

“Wanna come over?” he just asked, not bothering with the hallo or anything. They usually didn't anyway.

“Be there in 15.”


————


They were sitting in the windowsill, sharing a joint. It felt really scandalous to do that now, with Jonas working in politics and him being a doctor, but old habits die hard and a few times a year they did this. It wasn't healthy, but it wasn't all that dangerous either. So they Sitting in one of their windowsills, smoking a joint and talking about life.

“I was waiting for your call. I knew you would call me.” Jonas smiled.

“You always knew be better than I did myself, huh?” Isak gave his friend a small smile. “I just feel so lonely. I know I said I was fine with him leaving but I just…”

“I know Isak. I get it. Despite how right it is, it’s still gonna hurt.”

“Yes. I know he needs to do this, and I want him to do it, but the timing wasn't the best.”

“The timing? Why?”

“I… You can’t tell anyone about this Jonas.”

“What is it?”

“Promise you won’t tell a soul.”

“I promise. You know me. I won’t tell anyone. Now spit it out.”

“I got some blood tests taken a few days ago.”

“But you don’t have regular check ups anymore?”

“Yeah I know, but I feel weird. There is something not quite right, you know? But I didn’t wanna alarm anyone, least of all Even.”

“Isak… Fuck, is it back?”

Isak slowly shook his head.

“Then what is it?”

“It’s not leukaemia. They think it’s a tumour.”

“Isak…”

Jonas just threw the joint out of the window, bent over and embraced him in a hug. Isak welcomed the embrace. “Where is it?” he heard his best friend whisper.

“I don’t know yet. Going in for a scan on Monday. Come with me?”

“Always.”



———————



The blood work had shown it probably was a cancer tumour. Probably, not definitive. That’s all he knew. But he had a nagging feeling that had been there for a few weeks. He had been getting these wicked headaches, and forgotten a bunch of stuff lately. He had his suspicions but he hadn't told anyone, before now. He had went in to his doctor, the same one who had treated him last time. Dr Alexander Lunde. He had told Isak six years ago that it was a probability, a small chance, that he would have a relapse, that the cancer could come back, but that they were optimistic. That he would probably live a long and happy life. Probably.

When he came in for those blood tests, Dr Lunde’s face fell the more Isak explained his symptoms. Isak, being a doctor himself, and studying to become a oncologist, knew why. He also had a bad feeling. When he had gotten the results back and dropped by Dr Lunde’s office during his shift early Thursday morning, they shared a look of knowing, before Dr Lunde booked him an MRI appointment. They needed to know for sure that it was a tumour and where it was.

Isak had debated telling Even that morning. But then Even had seemed like he had en exceptionally bad day. So Isak proposed the walk, hoping it would cheer Even up enough for him to handle the news. But he knew, deep down in his gut, that Even wouldn't be able to handle this no matter how good of a day he had, no matter how gently Isak told him. And then Even sprung the news on him, the travelling across Europe to try and find himself. And Isak knew, he couldn't tell him.

Keeping things from Even felt like lying. He hated keeping his husband in the dark about even the smaller things, and this was a big thing. But Even’s psyche couldn't handle this now. And Isak needed to figure out how bad this was before he told Even. It could turn out to be something small and easy.

But it nagged him that Even hadn't been the first to know this time either. He should have been. Just like he should have been the first to know last time.

And part of him couldnt help but feel relieved that Even had left before all this. Because if this did turn out to be as bad as he suspected, he would lose Even into that deep black hole that already threatened to steal his husband away.

 


Isak didn't cry this time. He didn't fall apart. He didn't sob into Jonas’ shirt that night. He appreciated the hug and then the moment passed. He could see in Jonas’ eyes that this troubled the other boy. He hated doing that to him. He even apologised about it, but Jonas seemed to be angry about that. Jonas said that of course Isak should tell him this and to stop being stupid.

Isak switched the topic to Jonas’ job, and they talked about that for a while. The conversation was a little strained, the air heavy with the news Isak just had shared. When they got tired Isak asked Jonas to stay and he happily did. They crawled into bed, but Isak couldn't sleep. Looking over at Jonas, he saw that the other boy couldn't either.

“I can’t believe this is happening all over again. It’s been six years, but it feels like yesterday.” Jonas said. Isak just nodded slowly, not knowing what to say at this moment.

“Fuck, Isak. This is so fucked up. Why you, of all people? Haven't you suffered enough?” And then the dark haired boy broke down in tears. Isak pulled Jonas into his arms and held him tightly. He had hugged a lot of people getting this kind of news lately. He had gotten good at distancing himself from it. But this time he was the sick one. Again. After six years in remission, he was back in that place again. Jonas was right. This was so fucked up.


————

The first two years after Isak was declared to be in remission, against all odds, he and Even lived life to the fullest. They went on holidays, experienced the world. Maldives, Hawaii, Rio, Key West, California, South Africa, Thailand. They travelled all the places they both wanted to go too.

They went camping, went on skiing trips, backpacked in Asia, explored their hometown, spent time with friends and family, and sometimes relaxed at home. Isak went to med school, Even got himself a job working at a coffee shop, and every time they had days off they travelled somewhere. They didn't waste a single day. But then Even suddenly got worse, and they stopped the travelling and rushing lifestyle. Isak said he didn't mind; he had done so much living the last two years that it would be fine just having a normal day-to-day life for a while.

But the worse Even got, the less Isak knew how to help. Suddenly it wasn't enough with tender care when Even was having down time or kisses and embraces when he woke up from nightmares. Most nights when Even woke up drenched in sweat, Isak had to follow him to the bathroom and help him shower, and then give him some heavy sleeping medication and tuck him back into bed.

He got a lot of help from Lisa and Anders, but even they were at a loss with Even now. His own father and mother tried helping as well. His parents had moved back in together and his mother were doing so much better now. She still had times were she was so bad they had to admit her, but the frequency between admissions were dropping.

Still, whenever Isak had problems, he still went to Lisa and Anders. That’s why he was now standing on their doorstep, with a bottle of wine and Buddy on a leash next to him and had invited himself over for dinner.

The first thing Lisa said when she saw him was “Did you drive here?” and when he nodded she insisted that he “Stay the night” and “Give me your keys”. He laughed at her but gave them to her none the less. He knew that she was partly joking, and probably just looked for a reason to kidnap him for the night. She often did this with both him and Even.

“Even’s car?” she asked, looking at the key. Isak nodded. When Anders parents died a few years ago Even had inherited a lot of money. Seeing as Anders parents were homophobic, Even didn't even refer to them as grandparents and wasn't sad about them passing. He had celebrated instead by switching out his toyota with a Tesla. Isak had bought himself a Volvo V60 when he graduated med school. It was more practical for long drives. But they mostly used Even’s, since it was more environment-friendly.

“Yeah, dropped mine off for service Friday and didn't have the time to go pick it up again. And Even’s is more ‘environment-friendly’ as he likes to remind me. But I always tell him mine is a hybrid and then we start that stupid thing were we never agree.” He laughed. Lisa did too, she had heard them banter for an hour before she just had to intervene. Isak was pretty sure he could remember her yelling at them both, shouting that she “ENJOYED HER DIESEL MERCEDES VERY MUCH THANK YOU!” Which had pissed Even off so much that he had stopped arguing that his car was better than Isak’s.


It seemed like a life time ago. It was in reality just a few weeks ago. It had been a good day for Even. Except the part were he had to let Isak drive due to the fact that he couldn't find a charging spot for his Tesla the previous day and the car argument had started. Other than that it had been a really good day.

Isak entered Lisa and Anders apartment and removed his jacket and shoes. He let Buddy of the leash and the dog immediately went searching the apartment for Even. Isak felt bad for the dog; he didn't understand why Even was gone.

“Dr. Valtersen!” Anders shouted from the living room, appearing in the doorway. “How’s work buddy?”

“You know it’s Dr. Valtersen Næsheim, and it’s fine.” Isak grinned at him, before accepting a hug. He liked to think about Anders like a second dad. Anders was like the cool dad he never had. But his own father had gotten better and better after his cancer. He had worked really hard on becoming a good father. Isak appreciated it.

“Good, thats good.” Anders said, releasing him from the hug. “Let’s go sit down, dinner is ready.”

They walked into the kitchen and sat down. They chatted a bit about Even and his trip, all of them in agreement that this was a good idea. Isak poked a little at his food, suddenly nervous about telling them. He could have waited until after his MRI, but for some reason he couldn't quite figure out he wanted to involve them from the beginning. And he wanted their opinion on his decision to keep Even in the dark about it.

“Isak? You sounded a little troubled when you called me yesterday. Is everything okay?” Lisa saved him from having to break the cozy atmosphere by giving him that gateway.

“I… No. I had some headaches and were feeling bad for a while so I had them take some tests earlier this week.”

“Isak, no… Is it back, the leukaemia?” Lisa whispered, and Isak could see the tears in her eyes.

“It looks like it’s a tumour of some sort, not leukaemia.” he answered. “I’m going in for an MRI on Monday. If they don't find anything there they will do a CAT scan and a CT as well. Jonas is coming with me. It might not be that bad, I just wanted to tell you, because-“

“Even. Because of Even.” Anders broke in. They all knew it. They knew he couldn't take this.

Isak nodded. “Even. I haven't told him. I was debating it on Thursday, but then he told me about this plans and then… I don’t know. It might not be that bad and I can’t have him freak out now. He can’t take this shit, not again and not now.”

“So you don’t want to tell him?” Lisa asked, and Isak looked her in the eye as he shook her head. “I hate to say this, but I agree.” she said, before looking at Anders.

He was silent for a few minutes. “We’ll talk about this when the results are back. If they’re really bad, like last time, he needs to know so he can come back and be here.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” Isak argued.

“You don't want him here?” Lisa asked.

“Don’t get me wrong, I want my husband here. I really do. But he can’t take this. It’s been seven years since I was sick and he still can’t let it go. It tears him apart still. His biggest fear is me getting sick again. I don’t want to tell him unless I have to, this will kill him.”

They sat in silence for a long time. Isak didn't know if he should say more. Or what he should say if that was the case. He was usually good at delivering these kind of news. But this was different. Telling Even would be like killing him. He couldn't take it, Isak was sure.

“You’re right.” Anders said at last. Isak looked at him an nodded. Then he looked at Lisa who were also nodding.

“So we keep Even in the dark.” Isak just said, and they nodded again. It felt wrong, but it was also right. They couldn't burden Even with this. And this may be nothing.

It may be nothing.

—————————-

Going in for the scans on Monday morning, Isak was trying to avoid meeting any of his coworkers or old classmates. He didn't want anyone to know about these tests at all. Not even if he was really sick. It would ruin his reputation, he just knew it. A oncologist with cancer; oh, the irony.

He and Jonas walked into the hospital and whenever Isak saw anyone he knew, he hid behind Jonas. The walk to Dr. Lunde’s office had never been longer.

Then, when they had met up with him, the walk to the MRI room was even longer. And this time they managed to run into one of Isak’s coworkers.

“Dr. Valtersen Næsheim. Dr. Lunde.” his coworker, Jenny smiled at them. “Isak, I thought you had the whole week off? Since you couldn't take Anna’s shift?”

Isak didn't know what to say. He just froze like a deer in headlights. He had told his coworkers he couldn't take any shifts because he had to take obligatory time of. It was sort of true, he had to take some time off. But he hadn't told anyone about the blood tests or the scans or anything.

“I called him in for a consult.” Dr. Lunde saved him.

Jenny looked suspicious but nodded, until her hand landed on Jonas. She raised an eyebrow and painted at him. “And he is?”

“The one I needed a consult on.” Dr. Lunde replied. Hopefully Jenny didn't know who Jonas was, he wasn't exactly much in the media yet.

When she nodded and left with an excuse of being paged, Isak could feel himself releasing a breath he didn't knew he was holding.

They continued to the MRI room, and Isak undressed down to his t-shirt and boxers and walked towards the machine. He was ready to know, but at the same time he wanted the time to stop, the clocks to rewind. He had a bad feeling and he didn't want to get it confirmed.

Dr. Lunde ended up taking more tests, draw more blood and his brow furrowed higher and higher. Isak just knew, like he had ever since before he took that first blood test. Something had to be wrong. This had to be something bad.



——

It was something. It was metastatic melanoma. It was the worst thing it could have been. Jonas held his hand as they talked about the results in Dr. Lunde’s office. They had taken all these test under the radar, not wanting any of Isak’s coworkers to know he was sick. But this would be hard to hide. He would need multiple surgeries, radiation therapy and chemo. Fuck he hated chemo. It had been six years and the word still makes him nauseous.

They found a mole under his foot. So of course he hadn't seen it. He had mets in his liver, lung, abdomen and brain. The last one was the hardest to operate. They were going to try and get rid of it by radiation and chemo and operate the ones in his abdomen and liver first. Isak just nodded, agreeing to it all. He knew that Dr. Lunde knew what the best approach was and had this been his case he would have suggested the same plan.

But he also knew the survival rate was around 15 percent. As they walked out of the office an hour later, the surgery scheduled for the next day (Dr. Lunde wanted to attack this as fast and hard as possible, giving Isak a better chance), Jonas had grabbed his arm and looked him in the eye. “You have to call Even.”

“No.” he said it before he could think. But he knew why he said it. He couldn't tell Even. This would break him. Even hadn't been gone a week yet, he needed more time. So Isak wasn't going to tell him.

“You’re keeping him in the dark? You could die on the table tomorrow. Call him.”

“No. Not yet. Not until the timing is right.”

“And when is that?”

“I don’t know yet.”

They walked out in silence and found Isak’s car. It was his car this time. They got in and sat in silence for a while. “What now?” Jonas asked.

“Can we go visit Eva?”

——————

Eva was the only one of them who still lived in the same house. She didn't live with her mother - she had bought herself an apartment downtown and Eva had bought the house from her. Noora was married to William. Chris and Vilde lived with Eva and Sana had married a nice man named Allan. Mahdi was living the sweet single life. All their friends had gotten good jobs and were happy with their lives. The only one in their friend group not having succeeded was Even, but everyone knew why and no-one judged it.

Eva had kept her bedroom instead of moving in to the master, feeling it was creepy to take over her mother’s old room. Sitting on her bed, Isak felt like he was back in the first year at Nissen. It was such a long time ago. Only this time they had used the front door to enter, not her window.

“So to what do I owe this pleasure?” Eva asked them.


“We wanted to visit you?” Jonas supplied, and Isak nodded slowly.

“The two of you haven't visited me like this for over six years. We only see each other at gatherings with everyone else. What’s up?” She asked, and before they could respond Isak could see her eyes darken and instantly knew that she realised what it was. “No.” she whispered.

Isak didn't feel like saying it out loud, that awful ‘yes’ to confirm, so he just nodded at her.

“The leukaemia is back?”

“No.” Isak said, and shook his head slowly. “It’s actually worse.” he managed to get out with a dry laugh, before he had to bend forwards and bury his face in his hands to stop himself from crying.

“Worse?” Eva hiccuped, eyes wide in terror.

“Metastatic melanoma.” Jonas said. Knowing that Eva worked as a nurse, he didn't need to say anything else. She knew what it meant.

Eva and Isak ate lunch sometimes. Sometimes she worked at his unit, but mostly they passed each other in the hall, saying hi. At parties they hung out a bit more, and Isak knew that she often invited Even over when she had the day of. It helped him a bit, and Isak was grateful for anything that made Even smile.

“I feel like I’m back in third year.” Eva stated, and sat down on the floor.

The boys just nodded, and then the trio sat in silence.


------------


None of them had cried yet. Apart from Jonas’ break down on Saturday, but they hadn't spoken about that. Isak wasn't going to mention it either. It wasn't just that they were older. It was that they knew more now. They knew that this was only the beginning and there would be plenty of times to cry later. And there was this tiny chance that it would be fine. Tiny, but it was there.

Eva had forced them to stay for dinner and a movie. The other girls came home and the trio told them the news. Soon the living room was filled with all their friends. Magnus, Vilde, Chris, Sana, Mahdi, Eskild, Linn. Everyone but Noora and Even.

As Eva served them all some wine and beer, Mahdi asked the question everyone was wondering. “Are you going to call Even?”

Silence. Every eye in the room turned to Isak, who had been texting a coworker, saying no to take an extra shift without giving a reason. He put down his phone, and was about to answer Mahdi as it rang. It was work. He picked up the phone and walked out of the room, glad to be distracted.

When he came back in the group had agreed to not watch a movie but talk instead. Isak was fine with that, he missed them all.

“You didn't answer earlier Isak.” Magnus spoke up and the silence fell again. Isak took a sip of his wine and looked at his friends. “No.” he simply said.

“No you didn't answer?” Mahdi supplied, not catching on.

“No, I’m not calling Even.”

Utter silence for about three seconds and then everyone was talking at the same time. Isak raised his hand and they fell silent again. “No, I’m not calling him, because he can’t take this. He has been so much sicker than he has let on. He can’t take this. He won’t survive it. So please, no one is telling Even anything about me being sick. Okay?”

They tried to argue with him for a while, but in the end they all agreed. No-one was telling Even until Isak decided it was time. And now wasn't the time.

 

—————-

 



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Hope you are okay. I love you baby <3

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I’m fine, met some people to travel with! I love you too my prince <3

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

JONAS

 

—————

 

They had visited Isak’s parents before they went to Eva. Marianne was really bad right now, at a point where Terje and Isak had agreed to have her committed again. Sitting in the kitchen now, watching Isak tell his parents, Jonas focused on Marianne. Her reaction was just blank. It looked like she didn't register what Isak was saying.

“But, you’ve been getting checkups all the time?” Terje said, still in shock.

Isak had just shook his head. “Not the last year. After five years in remission they didn't think it was necessary.”

“Fuck. How bad is it?”

“It’s in my lungs, abdomen, liver and brain.”

“Brain?”

“Yeah. They will try to shrink that one before they operate, to minimise the risk of damage.”

“Shit, Isak… I don’t know what to say, or do, or… Is there anything I can do?”

Isak had just looked from his father to his mother, who still had this blank expression and whispered a soft “No.” He looked like he was about to say something more, but then Marianne had started to sing. A song they hadn't heard since that day in the hospital room, when they were waiting for Isak to die.

“Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on"

Terje and Isak just grabbed one of Marianne’s hands each and sat there, listening to her sing softly, tears streaming down her face.

Jonas knew right then, that Isak wouldn't let his parents help him this time either. And with no Even, Jonas knew it would be either himself or Lisa and Anders taking care of Isak this time. He wanted to help his best friend. So he decided he was gonna do this, no matter what.

————

 



Jonas had been running regularly for the past six years. Not to escape the pain anymore, but to clear his head and keep in shape. But now he was running from the pain again. The pain from six years ago was all coming back in one big wave. Like a tsunami. He couldn't outrun it, but he damn well tried.

It was five o’ clock in the morning. Isak’s operation wasn't until noon. Which is why he was running with Jonas right now. Jonas couldn't for the life of him understand why Isak would want to come for a run now, with everything thats going on, but he found himself enjoying the company. They were running on a gravel road in the forrest, side by side and quite quickly. Isak seemed to have no trouble keeping up with him. Jonas decided to up the speed a little.

They had been running for an hour when Jonas finally stopped and sat down on a rock, Isak sitting down next to him. They didn't say anything, only drank some water from the bottles they had been carrying. Hadn't said anything to each other all morning. Sitting there in silence, Jonas felt like crying again. So he did. He put his head on Isak’s shoulder and let the tears fall. No sobbing, just… angry, bitter tears.

When he was all out of tears, they got back up and Jonas prepared to turn around to run home.

“Where do you run to you know… scream? Is it close?” Isak asked, looking a little nervous.

Jonas looked at him in surprise, and nodded slowly. He didn't know that Isak remembered him talking about that. But he and Even had done it a bunch of times over the years and maybe Even had told him. “It’s right up here, by a lake. Wanna go there?”

“Please.”

And so they did. And Jonas showed Isak the place he and Even had found, where you could stand on a rock, slightly out in the water, without getting your feet wet. Jonas suddenly felt shy and just motioned for Isak to take the “stage”. Which he did.

“And then, what do you do?” Isak turned his head and looked at Jonas briefly.

“I scream?”

“Like words or?”

“No, I kind of just scream as loud as I can, thinking about everything that bothers me and screaming at it, to let it out. It’s kind of hard to explain… Like, think of something that really makes you angry, or sad, or something that hurts you. And just scream at it.”

Isak looked skeptical, but then he tried. “AHHHH” It sounded half hearted and Jonas cringed.

“You have to put your heart into it. Take a deep breath, let the pain or hurt or whatever reason you scream fill you up, and then you have to start from the bottom of your soul, and put your entire heart into it.” Isak nodded, like he had gotten the concept, and Jonas could see him concentrating, before taking a deep and long breath.

And then Jonas watched his best friend scream. And scream. And scream. And Jonas joined in. And they screamed together until they couldn't scream anymore. Isak then turned around, walked back to Jonas, and wrapped his arms around Jonas’ neck. Before Jonas could even lift his hands to hug him back, Isak started crying. Jonas hugged his best friend tight and cried with him.

He felt like a teenager again, and he hated it.


——-

Jonas had taken a few days off work for this. The whole week actually, with a note that he may need longer. His boss understood, having lost her son to cancer a year ago. She said he could take all the time he needed. He appreciated it.

Sitting next to Isak’s bed now, as they waited for someone to come and take him to surgery, Jonas really wanted to call Even. This was all kinds of wrong. Even wasn't just Isak’s boyfriend this time, he was his husband. He had a right to know. But he knew why Isak refused. He knew how sick Even was, he often dropped by the two boys and tried helping Isak out. Some days Even was so bad they had to hold him down so he wouldn't hurt himself. Some days Even didn't even register that they were in the room. Most days Even was sleeping the entire time Jonas was visiting.

He knew Even couldn't handle this. Jonas could barely handle it himself and he had his life together. So he was going to keep his promise to Isak. No calling Even. But he really really wanted to.

When the nurses came to get Isak, Jonas walked out to the waiting room and joined their friends and Isak’s double set of parents. And then the waiting started.



———————-


The surgery went fine. It was fine. No complications, Isak woke up and looked fine. Well, maybe a little drugged and in some pain. But fine.

They were going to start radiation and chemo straight away. Jonas could see the colour fade from Isak’s face, could see his eyes go blank and he knew why. He had been there the last time. He could remember the throwing up and the part were Isak got sicker and sicker and how much pain he was in. He remembered it vividly, and he knew Isak did it too.


When Isak was in the hospital Jonas used his time to catch up on some work so that he could be able to take more time off later if it became necessary. He had liked his job ever since he started, but now he really appreciated it, because it made him think about something else, something besides his very sick best friend.

He had started running twice a day now. Both before and after work. And the few hours he had left of free time every other day, he spent with Mahdi, smoking weed. Which was what he was doing right now.

“Dude, I still think it’s wrong you know. Even not being here. Or at least been given the choice whether he wants to be here or not.” Jonas said.

“We have to respect Isak’s decision Jonas.” the other boy answered, passing the joint back. They were sitting on Mahdi’s balcony, enjoying the sun.

“I know. I just… I feel like he should know. They are fucking married.”

“I know. I don’t disagree with you, I just don’t want to meddle. It’s Isak’s choice.”

“Yeah. But I think he’s making the wrong choice, doing this alone.”

“He’s not alone. He has you.” Mahdi smiled at him. Jonas wanted to smile back.

Yeah, he though. He has me. A best friend who seriously can’t handle this again. He knew he couldn’t. Last time the chances had been better and Isak still got to the point of near death. This time the chances were less. And Jonas couldn't even accept this in his mind, let alone talk about it without feeling that panic, that pain, raise up in his chest again.


“He has all of us.” Mahdi added, clearly sensing Jonas’ struggle.

Jonas didn’t stay long after that. He couldn't talk about this longer. But at the same time he felt like venting, or rather, screaming. So when he got home he changed his clothes, and went for a run. He just ran and ran. Like he had done that first time when Isak was sick. And he ended up at the same spot where he met that stranger girl. The one with the words that helped him last time. Keep moving forward.

But he was. It just didn’t help this time. He started screaming. It did nothing to lessen the pain. He screamed louder, more forcefully. He screamed with every fibre of his body. It didn’t numb the pain.

Jonas felt at a loss. Running didn't help. Screaming didn't help. Nothing helped. He slowly started walking back home, letting the pain just consume him. When he arrived home he found a bottle of vodka and started drinking. It didn't take long before he passed out on the couch, more from exhaustion than drunkenness.




Waking up the next morning he had several texts.

FROM MAHDI TO JONAS

You okay bro? You got so silent right before you left. I know this thing is hard, it’s hard on us all. We just have to lean on each other, okay? Call me.


FROM EVA TO JONAS

Mahdi called me, are you okay? Please come and talk to me Jonas, we have to lean on each other if we’re going to be able to help Isak though this.


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

Can you pick me up tomorrow afternoon? I can go home after my chemo but they want me to be picked up incase I get sick. No driving…



Jonas groaned, rubbed his forehead and got of the couch. Drinking a glass of water and taking an aspirin, he put on his shoes and went for another run. Looking quickly at the clock before he left his apartment seeing it was only eight am, he decided to take a long run.

Just keep moving. He just ran, not having set a destination. He just let his legs decide the direction,  his head filled with the past weeks events and conversations. Don’t tell Even. It’s cancer. Low chances of survival. Respect Isak’s wishes. We’re in this together.

Jonas couldn't for the life of him figure out how Even had survived this the last time. But then it suddenly hit him; the older boy hadn’t. No, he hadn't died, but he had actually tried to commit suicide, because of the pain. Just keep moving forward.

Jonas knew Even was sick. But he was still angry at the older boy for not being here. He knew it was absurd. Even didn't even know. But Jonas hated this. He knew Isak was laying in the hospital alone, been giving a death sentence and Even was enjoying his life having fun in Europe. It wasn't right. Marriage was in sickness and in health, right? Keep moving.

The surroundings started to feel familiar, and Jonas realised he had run really far. He was only five minutes away from Eva’s house. Eva. He still loved her. But he was too much of a coward to tell her. He had treated her like shit. Accusing her of stuff that was untrue. He didn’t deserve her.

But none the less he found himself standing on her doorstep, ringing the bell and when she opened the door he pulled her into a hug. She just hugged him back, no questions asked.

Later, after a shower, he was laying on her couch, head in her lap, as he sobbed his feelings out. The pain still didn’t lessen. It was constant. It was overwhelming.

“It’s going to be fine Jonas.” he could hear in her voice that she knew. She knew what was going on in his head. It made him sob harder. He didn’t deserve her.

“I know this is so hard on you. Isak is your best friend. He’s my best friend too. And I know it’s hard. But we can do this. We can be there for him. Just be there for him. And if it becomes too much, you call me. Just take one day at a time. We can do this. You can do this.”

She then hugged him silently, and he accepted the embrace, his sobs slowly but surely fading, until the heavy tears stopped running. He could pull himself together. And take one day at a time. He could do this. Just keep moving.

Hours later, when he had to leave to go pick up Isak, he desperately wanted to tell her how he felt. Ask her to come with him. Ask her to love him back.

But instead he quietly thanked her for the shower and pep talk and left.


Keep moving.




————————



Arriving home, Jonas put Isak’s bag on the floor in the bedroom, unsure where to put his own. He was moving in temporarily, but he didn't know if Isak wanted him in here or in the guest room. Probably the guest room, taking over Even’s place in the bed seemed a little weird. But when he started walking out of the bedroom to go over to the guest room, Isak stopped him.

“Can you… stay in here?”

“I… Are you sure that’s okay?”

“Why wouldn't it be?”

“Feels weird to take over Even’s place, you know.”

“Jonas. You are a straight guy and I’m a married man. And you've been my best friend for like… ever. Even won’t mind if that’s what you're worried about.”

“I’m worried about it being weird for you, sleeping next to a man who’s not your husband.”

“You’re my best friend. I want you here. I don’t want to sleep alone… Unless you don’t feel… comfortable with sleeping next to me?” Isak suddenly looked so uncertain, so young… something in Jonas’ broke.

“Of course I do.”

“Then stay.”

“I will.” Jonas reached out and squeezed Isak’s shoulder carefully. “I’ll stay.”

They unpacked their bags in silence, only speaking when Jonas questioned where he should put his stuff. When the finished, Jonas told Isak to sit down in the living room and wait while he made some food. Isak complied.

Jonas was not a chef. He was actually useless in the kitchen. Which meant they ended up with a pizza he had found in the freezer. He could do that, making a pizza. He needed to google some simple recipes. Learn how to cook something semi-healthy.

Isak had turned on the television when Jonas entered the room with the food, and they sat and ate in silence.

“Can we go to your cabin?” Isak suddenly asked.

Jonas, who had curled up in the corner of the sofa, opposite of Isak, looked at his best friend. Cabin? Jonas hadn't been there in several years, not since he and Isak and Eva went there during first year at Nissen. His mother and father had given him keys and told him to use it whenever. He never did. He knew Thea used it from time to time.

But if Isak wanted to go to the cabin, Jonas wasn't going to say no. It actually sounded like a good idea. Do something together, maybe they could invite a few friends and just get away for a few days.

“Of course we can. When do you want to go?”

“If we go tomorrow we can stay for a week, I don’t have another round of chemo in a while but I have a checkup next week.”

“Let’s do it. Want to invite some of our friends?”

“All of them.”

“All of them?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. I’ll make some calls.”


———————


The next morning they piled into cars and drove to the cabin. Isak had leant Jonas his car and Eva was driving Even’s. Everyone was coming. Noora and William was home on holiday and had decided to join them. Eva, Linn, Eskild, Magnus, Vilde, Sana, Allan, Mahdi, Chris and Kasper. Everyone was coming.

Dividing into rooms wasn't that easy. It was three rooms and fourteen of them. Luckily there were plenty of madrases and blankets and pillows, so all the girls ended up piling into one room, leaving the guys to figure out their own arrangement. They decided to all sleep in the biggest of the two rooms and keep luggage in the smaller one.

Jonas could tell that Isak was worried about William and Allan and Kasper not being comfortable with sleeping in the same room as him (and Eskild) who was gay, but they didn't seem to mind at all. They were really nice to him. Everyone was. Jonas was so glad.

Noora was making dinner and Eva was helping her. Everyone got seated in the living room and started debating whether they should watch a movie or start straight on the drinking games.

It ended with a compromise. A movie as they ate and then the drinking games.


———



“Never have I ever… kissed a boy!” Eva was laughing, knowing that all her girlfriends and the gay boys had to drink at that. They were drinking wine, pretending to be grown ups. Isak had a glass as well. Jonas had lifted an eyebrow at that, but he decided that Isak was able to make these decisions himself.

Back to the drinking game, all the girls drank, Isak drank, Eskild drank…. and so did Magnus and Jonas.

“WHAT?”

“It was a dare!” Magnus exclaimed and held his hands up. “We played truth or dare and Vilde dared me to kiss Eskild. It was like, five years ago. Most of you were there, you were just too drunk!” Everyone laughed, and switched their focus to Jonas.

“Ehm.” he started, before looking at Isak. Eva yelled a shocked “what” again.

“Spin the bottle at a party we had a few months ago. He had to kiss me. Even has a video of it I think.” Isak laughed.

“Was he any good?” Eskild asked eagerly, getting more laughs.

“Nah. To straight.” Isak said, taking another sip of his wine, grinning at Jonas.

Jonas rolled his eyes. “My turn!” he looked at his friends, trying to come up with a good one. But he knew almost everything about these people. Well. Maybe not everything. “Never have I ever had sex in a public place.”

Everyone except Sana and Allan drank, and Jonas barked with laughter. This flock of dirty bastards. He loved them all.


—————


The morning after, Jonas woke up early and turned to look at a sleeping Isak. He studied his best friend, memorising his face. The shape of his eyebrows and the paleness of his skin. He was going to get paler, thinner. Probably lose that soft blond hair again. Jonas could feel his stomach clench. He hated this. He hated that Isak had to go through this again. He hated that Isak had chosen to not include his husband in this.

He understood why. He understood that Isak wanted to spare Even from the pain of doing this again. But like he had been thinking during his run the other day; they were married. In sickness and in health. Isak was there for Even’s sickness. Then Even was there for Isak’s sickness. Now Isak had taken care of Even for years, but he didn't want him around when he was sick again himself.

Hadn't Jonas known and loved them both he would have protested more. He settled for not liking it in silence. But he couldn't stop thinking about it.

Looking at his best friend now, Jonas just wanted to hold him and hug him. He wanted to try to lessen Isak’s pain. He wanted to do something, anything. But all he did was laying there, watching over his friend.


—————

They ended up sleeping in, eating breakfast and then playing games for most of the day. Jonas went for a run, William joining him. It was kind of awkward in the beginning, but after a while he found himself enjoying the company. William didn't bring up Isak being sick. Or Isak at all. He just asked Jonas about his job and told Jonas some about his own. Jonas appreciated the distraction.

When Eva suggested a bonfire later that evening, they all agreed. Jonas brought his guitar on request from Isak and Eva, and they all walked down to the water.

They had brought hotdogs and marshmallows and sat around the fire. Jonas played a few songs, Noora and Eva sung along to some of them.

Jonas looked at his friend. He looked so happy. This trip had been such a good idea.

“Can I play a song?” Isak asked just as Jonas finished playing ‘More than words.’ Isak reached for the guitar and Jonas handed it to him. When they were younger, Isak couldn't play guitar for shit. Jonas figured that Even must have taught him, for now Isak played with sure hands, the melody beautiful and yet heartbreakingly sad.



“Hold this heart when I go

sing my song when I go

sing it loud when I go

sing it proud when I go

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly

but I know they'd all be yearning to fly

when my, when my, when my soul

takes leave of this world

when I leave this flesh and these bones

oh I swear to you that you wont have to go alone”



Isak had a beautiful voice. Jonas always liked hearing his best friend sing. But now, it sounded clearer and softer and more wonderful than ever. The song broke his heart though. He had never heard it before. But it was sad and beautiful and wonderful.

 

“Hold this heart when I go

sing my song when I go

sing it loud when I go

sing it proud when I go

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly

but i know they'd all be yearning to fly

the first time my heart collided with yours

I know I felt the ocean tickle the Earth's sandy shores

but changes come and we all know that we can't, we can't stop them

but I hold these memories and I will never drop them

and I'll watch over you

 

I'll watch over you

oh my care will cover you just like the moon can do

I'll watch over you

I'll watch over you

oh my care will cover you just like the moon can do

 

Hold this heart when I go

sing my song when I go

sing it loud when I go

sing it proud when I go

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly and

some people are learning to die and some people are yearning to fly

but i know they'd all be yearning to fly

oh the thought of death has yet to make me afraid

'cause I will march right off this world into the next like its a grand parade

but if you feel lonely just like you want to run and hide

then I'll wrap my wings around you and give you strength and I wont leave your side

and I'll watch over you

I'll watch over you

oh, my care will cover you just like the moon'll do

I'll watch over you

I'll watch over you

you know I'd love to get to heaven

you know I'd love to see the view

but first I think I'll stay and watch over you

oh, I'll watch over you

I'll watch over you”


It was a goodbye. It felt like Isak was telling them goodbye. Jonas felt like the clock had rewinded six years. He could feel himself sweating, getting dizzy, nauseous. He couldn't take this. He couldn't accept this. He couldn't handle Isak saying goodbye now, when it was still hope. Jonas needed the hope, he needed to have it himself and he needed Isak to have it.

Standing up, he left the bonfire, storming of, ignoring his friends, who where yelling at him to come back, to stop, to tell them where he was going.


He just had to get away. Away from his friends, away from his feelings, away from Isak.

He walked up a hill, faster and faster until he was running. When he got to the top, he could see all the way down to the water, seeing his friends. They looked like tiny little ants from here, that’s how far away he was. Jonas sat down on the grass, leaning forward and placing his head on his knees, closing his eyes, and put his hands around his legs. And he sat there, trying to force the tears away. He wasn't ready for crying yet, just like he wasn't ready for Isak to mention death.

This could all be fine. They could be lucky. He could only be sick for a few months and then he could be just fine. No, the possibility wasn't the greatest, but there was still a chance. And Jonas wasn't ready to give up hope just yet.

Lifting his head slowly, he could see the sun starting to set. It was beautiful. Perfect. Just like his life had been for the past six years. After Isak had gotten well again, so had Jonas’ life. He had gotten a good education, a good job, a nice place to live. The only thing he didn't have was a girlfriend. And there was a reason for that.

He had known it since they broke up; his one true love was Eva. It had always been her. He just couldn't get over her, no matter how many girls he hooked up with or went out on dates with. He was still in love with Eva. But he didn't deserve her.

Feeling like fate was after him today, he spotted Eva walking up the hill, towards him. When she came closer, she just smiled and sat down next to him. She stayed silent for a little while before she started speaking.

“Isak didn't mean to upset you, you know. He’s just as heartbroken about this situation as you is, and he wanted to sing that song because, well. He knows he can die from this and he wanted us to know that he will always watch over us if that happens. But he was so devastated when you left, saying he should have never sung it.”

“It was a beautiful song. I will tell him he has nothing to apologise for. I just needed to get away from that situation.”

“I know.”

“I can’t take this. I can’t take him being sick again. And I certainly can’t take him dying. I know I have to be realistic and accept that this time it’s worse and more deadly. I mean…. after almost losing him last time I know I can’t do it again! And him not wanting to call Even, to involve him, to get him back here, makes me so… I can’t describe it. It’s like I’m angry but I’m not, because I know why he doesn't want to call Even. It makes me sad, but at the same time not. I don’t know what I feel. Desperation maybe?”

“Because it’s up to you now, taking care of him?”

“Kind of. But no. Not really. I’m not doing it because I have to, but because I want. I just don’t want him to be sick at all.”

“Me either. I hate this so much. The past week I have been laying in bed at night, wishing it was someone else instead. I know it’s horrible, but I just… I-“

“I wish it was me instead. I have been wishing that ever since we learned the diagnose. I wish it was me instead.

Eva grabbed his hand, and they sat there in silence, watching the sun go down and everything going dark. They just kept sitting there, in the dark, holding hands.

 

 

 

 




So if I only could

I'd make a deal with God

And I'd get him to swap our places

Be running up that road

Be running up that hill

With no problems

Chapter Text

ISAK

—————


Going to chemo sucked. Just like last time. This time was actually worse. He was getting a stronger kind of chemo, but the main reason why it was worse, was the the lack of company. He was sitting there alone, no Even to distract him.

He fucking hated this. And he was pretty sure the guy to his left was one of the cases he had been working on before he got sick. He tried to make himself invisible, but no such luck. A few minutes after the nurse left him, the guy turned towards him.

“Hey, you used to be my doctor, right?” Isak studied the guys face. He looked a little older than himself, but not old enough to have really lived life yet. 

He just nodded slowly, trying to smile at the guy. “Yeah, I was.”

“I’m Ian, if you didn't remember.”

“Sorry, I didn’t. But your name rings a bell, brain tumour?”

“Spot on. What happened to put you here? You were fine a few weeks ago.”

“Metastatic melanoma.”

“That sucks man.”

“I know. Yours too.”

“Yeah.” Ian smiled at him, and Isak wondered how someone with a possibly deadly brain tumour could smile like that. So genuine and full of life. Isak felt like he was already dead. He realised that going through this alone wasn't giving him anything to fight for. Last time he had fought for Even, mostly. Even on the hardest days. This time he was doing it alone and he didn't even feel like fighting. Yes, he still had Even. But it wasn't the same. Even wasn't here.

“Why are you alone?” Ian asked him, bringing him out of his train of thoughts.

“My husband is traveling the world and I feel a little to old to ask my parents for company. And besides, it’s just chemo, I can do it by my self.” Isak shrugged. He sounded a lot more confident than he really felt.

“Traveling the world? Why doesn't he come home now that you're sick?”

“Because he is sick too. I nearly died of leukaemia seven years ago, and he could never get past it. Gave him PTSD, on top of having a bipolar diagnose. He’s… he’s really bad right now. He doesn't need the stress of knowing I’m sick again.”

“Wow. That’s really-“

“Fucked up?”

“Sad. Heartbreaking. Awful.”

“Yeah.” Isak just nodded absentmindedly. “And you? Why are you alone?”

“My girlfriend cheated on me because I don't have the stamina to have sex with her anymore, due to the chemo and stuff.”

“What a bitch.” Isak blurted out, not able to contain himself.

“I know.” Ian said, laughing bitterly. “So I guess we’re going to have to keep each other company then?”

“I guess so.” Isak said, smiling a bit himself. “In that case, tell me about yourself, anything to distract me from this needle in my arm.”

“Well, I studied psychology and worked with abused children before I got diagnosed. I’m 29 years old. I love dogs and my hobby used to be running. Now I can’t even do that. What about you?”

“Well, I’m 25 years old, most of my life is, or was, dedicated to my job. I have a dog, well it’s my husband’s, but yeah. Anyway, my hobbies… Haven't had any of those in years. It has only been work, spending time with my husband and friends and family.”

“Maybe we should start a hobby together. Knitting or something.”

“Knitting? Are we eighty years old ladies? How about no. We can talk about movies or celebrities or something.”

“Fine. Celebrity crush?”

“Oh. Hard one. Gale Harold in Queer as folk. And Liam Hemsworth. You?”

“Keira Knightley.”

“Yeah, her too.”

“I thought you were gay?”

“She is beautiful, no denying that.”

“True.”

When it was time for them to leave, they exchanged phone numbers and agreed to keep in touch. Having someone to talk to, who was going through the same ting was comforting for Isak. He pulled out his phone and saw that Even had tried calling him again. Walking out of the hospital he decided to call back.

“Hey baby!” a happy Even answered him. He hadn't heard his voice this cheerful in years. It made Isak smile. This had been a good idea.

“Hey yourself. You're in a good mood.” he commented, smiling for himself as he reached his car.

“Yeah, I have sold sooooo many drawings today. People seem to really like my stuff here!”

“That’s so good honey, I’m glad. Was it London you guys went to?”

“Yeah. It’s just like I imagined it, I love it here. We have to go together one day.”

“Sure.” Isak may not live to do that, but he wasn't about to ruin Even by telling him that now when he sounded so much better.

“Were you at work, since you didn't pick up earlier?”

“I was at the hospital yeah.” Little white lies. It was really good that he was a doctor he realised, because then Even wouldn't get worried about him being at the hospital.

“Back to work then, no more holiday?”

“Nope. But I have to go honey, I need to go home and pick Buddy up before I head over to you parents for dinner.”

“Are they inviting you over a lot now that I’m gone?”

“Only six days a week.” Isak joked, and hear his husband laugh in response. He did really love hearing that laugh. “I love you Even, please be careful.”

“I love you too Isak. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Isak started the car and begun driving. The dinner wasn't a lie, Lisa had insisted he should come over tonight. So he drove home to get the dog and then headed towards his mother in law’s house.


———


Walking up the stairs to Lisa and Anders’ front door, he sent Jonas a message saying he would come home late tonight. Or maybe not at all if he became sick from the chemo while he was here. Jonas responded that it was fine, he had to stay late at work and it was good that Isak wasn't alone if he did get sick.

Isak snorted a little. Of course he would be sick, it wasn't a matter of if, but when.

He knocked on the door and it got opened almost immediately. “I saw you park outside.” a smiling Anders greeted him, and pulled him in for a hug.

“Hey.” Isak coughed out, feeling the air being squeezed out of him, but laughing none the less.

“Hey honey.” Lisa called from the kitchen, and Isak followed Anders in there.

“Hey Lisa.” he said, sitting down at the table. Buddy walked around for a few seconds before he just laid down and fell asleep.

“That dog is way to lazy to be a shepherd kind of dog.” Anders remarked, shaking his head.

“I agree.” Isak nodded his head, and sighed. “But I kind of enjoy it now, I don’t have the energy for a crazy dog so don’t encourage him please.”

“Honey, if you feel it’s too much we can take him you know.”

“I know. I’ll let you know. Thanks.”

Lisa served dinner and they sat down in silence, eating their food. When they were finished Isak tried to help clearing the table, but they forced him to go and relax on the couch instead.

He complied, knowing there would be no point in arguing, and sat down on the couch, Buddy curled up next to him.

When Lisa and Anders joined him, he got a feeling that they wanted to talk about something.

“Isak? Are you living alone or is Jonas there with you?”

“He’s there.”

“Does he work late often?”

“Sometimes. Why?”

“We were wondering if you two would move in here. So that we don’t have to worry about you being alone when he’s working and, well… we worry about you.”

Isak considered it. It would be nice to live here again. But he also knew that he would feel like a failure if he had to move back “home”. So he shook his head. “No. No, but thank you for the offer.”

“Are you sure honey? You know Even wouldn’t-“

“Even isn't here. But if it gets really bad I promise to reconsider, okay?”

“Okay honey. Just please, let us help you if there is anything.”

“I will.”

 

 


Isak didn't feel sick as the hours ticked by, so he decided to go home. It was a Friday night and the city was buzzing with life. He knew that some of his friends were at Magnus’ having a party right now. When he walked into his apartment he considered going. Walking into his bedroom he almost crashed with Jonas.

“Hey!” Jonas said. “I was thinking about going to Magnus’ party, wanna come?”

Isak opened his mouth to answer as the first wave of nausea hit him. He turned on his heel and ran for the bathroom, making it just in time.

“I take that as a no.” he heard Jonas said behind him. The dark haired boy walked into the bathroom and sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall.

“You can go.” Isak breathed out, between fits of vomiting.

“Nope. Staying with you.”

“I’m fine alone.”

“Nope. I said I would stay with you, like Even did last time.” Jonas removed his jacket and got to his feet, walked over to the sink and started wetting a towel. “I’m not leaving you like this. Jesus Christ Isak, do you really think I would leave when you're clinging to the toilet, puking your guts out? I would like to think I’m a better friend then that.”

Isak waited for the waves of vomiting to stop. He accepted the towel Jonas handed him and wiped his mouth, sitting back down on the floor with his legs crossed.

“I didn't mean to call you a bad friend. I just meant that I am a grown man and if you want to go out then you go. I’ll be fine, it’s just nausea from the chemo.”

“I know it’s just that. But I’m staying anyway.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“No need to thank me Isak.”

Isak watched Jonas’ face for a while before he slowly slid down into a laying position on the floor, looking up at the roof. He still felt like shit, but he had no more in his system to throw up. He tried to focus on breathing, fighting the nausea. “If you’re staying you can at least distract me from the tragedy that is my life.” he moaned, then proceeded to bark a laugh.

“Isak, don’t-“

“I know. Just distract me. Please.”

“Fine. Uhh. What should I say. I… Uhm.”

“You suck at this.”

“I think I might still be in love with Eva.” Jonas blurted out.

Isak turned his head and looked at his best friend with a raised eyebrow. He studied him for a while, taking him in. He looked nervous, like this actually was a big deal to him. Like he had just told Isak this big secret. He looked a little like Isak probably had looked himself all those years ago, when he had told Jonas about him being in love with Even.

Isak debated his answer. He had known for years that Jonas wasn't over Eva. He also knew she wasn't over him; she had told Isak one drunken night a few months ago. He didn't feel like faking surprise. “Yeah, I know.” he said, turning his head back to look up at the ceiling again.

“You know?”

“Dude, you're obvious.”

“I am?”

“You can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a week, you only hook up with girls at parties when you see Eva hooking up with other guys and most importantly of all; you keep staring at her when you think no-one is looking.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. I think you should talk to her man.”

“I don’t know… after what happened between us I feel like… I don’t know, maybe she’ll just laugh at me and I don’t know if I can handle that.”

“Jonas. Life is short. Take it from a dying man. Just talk to her.”

“Not cool. The dying part. Not cool.”

“Sorry. Too gloomy and pessimistic?”

“Way.”

“I’ll keep it down.”

“As oppose to the contains of your stomach?” Jonas laughed, and Isak sat up, grabbed the toilet and started vomiting again. While flipping Jonas off, of course.


Isak winched as his stomach clenched. This was going to be a long night.


———


“Dance with me.” Jonas said, grabbing Isak’s hand and getting to his feet.

Isak let Jonas tug him to his feet, feeling a bit dizzy. “What? Are you high?”

“No? But when you mention it, we should get some weed.” he laughed. “We couldn't go to the party, so let’s have our own.”

Jonas pulled out his phone and put on a song, before placing it on the counter. “Dance with me Isakyaki.”




I got this feeling inside my bones

It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on

All through my city, all through my home

We're flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone



Isak shook his head slowly, deciding Jonas must be having a mental breakdown. Jonas started dancing, trying to get Isak to join him, singing along to the lyrics, messing around. Just like Even did with that stupid gabrielle song all those years ago, and at that gay bar the night Isak turned 20. Even and Eskild had insisted that they had to go out and party now that Isak was legally allowed to get into a club. It had been such a good day for Even, and the way Jonas danced now combined with the pulsing music, brought back the memory. It made Isak smile.

 

I got that sunshine in my pocket

Got that good soul in my feet

I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops

I can't take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally

Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don't stop

 

And under the lights when everything goes

Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close

When we move, well, you already know

So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine



Jonas’ dancing was infectious, and Isak just had to join him. He started shaking his hips and danced to the rhythm, following Jonas’ lead. This was fun. It made him laugh. He actually felt happy right now, forgetting his troubles and just letting himself go to the music.

 

Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance

A feeling good, good, creeping up on you

So just dance, dance, dance, come on

All those things I shouldn't do

But you dance, dance, dance

And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing

I can't stop the feeling

So just dance, dance, dance

I can't stop the feeling

So just dance, dance, dance, come on


Isak looked at his best friend. Smiling. Laughing. Dancing. And he knew that Jonas was trying his best. Jonas wasn't the one to take care of him last time, so he didn't know how bad things could get. But still, Isak found himself enjoying Jonas’ attempt at making the situation better. Yes, kisses and hugs from Even was nicer, but this actually made him forget. It made him smile. Jonas made him smile.

Just as the song ended, Isak was hit by another wave of nausea and bent over the toilet again. A long night indeed.


—————-


Jonas had some weed in a bag. Of course he had. Isak had just breathed out in relief when Jonas had pulled it out.

Now they were laying on the floor of his and Even’s bedroom, having dared to leave the bathroom, and they were smoking a joint, looking at the ceiling. Isak had put some of Even’s drawings up there some time ago, so that he would have something nice to look at when he was laying on the floor. Or in bed, for that matter, but mostly he looked while he was on the floor. He had been doing it for years, even when he wasn't sick. He liked laying like this. It was nice. Comfortable. Safe.

Isak’s phone kept buzzing but he ignored it, not feeling up to speak to anyone. Jonas was scrolling through his, looking at photos from the party. Soft music was filling the room. Jonas had put his music on through a bluetooth speaker.

 



We don't talk anymore, we don't talk anymore

We don't talk anymore, like we used to do

We don't love anymore

What was all of it for?

Oh, we don't talk anymore, like we used to do




The song made Isak think. He needed to do something, make something for Even. If he did indeed die, he needed to say goodbye in some way. A letter or a video or something. He had to think of something. But right now, he didn't want to think about that. He wanted to enjoy this moment and he wanted to live in Jonas’ fairytale world where there was a chance of him surviving this thing. He wanted to pretend. Just for a little while longer.

The phone kept buzzing angrily at him. He kept ignoring it.

“Aren’t you going to take that?”

“Nah.”

“What if it’s Even.”

“He’ll know I’m high. And sad. And I don’t want him to know either.”

“Gotcha.”

Isak looked at his phone. Even indeed. The display read:

Even <3
Missed call (9)

Isak groaned and just put his phone on silent. They listened to another song, more upbeat this time. It was catchy, but Isak couldn't remember the name of the song, only that he had heard it before.

“Can I play a song?” Isak asked.

“You always put on depressing shit.”

“I am a depressed shit.”

“You’re not. You just have a bad day.”

“Bad life.”

“Shut up you melodramatic fuck. Things will be okay. But not when you're set on making everything sad and awful and depressing.”

“Be nice to me, I have cancer.”

“Fine. One song.”

Jonas handed him the phone and Isak searched spotify until he found the song he wanted.


If I die young bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh uh oh


Isak could feel the other boy tense up next to him. He knew Jonas was in denial about him dying, but he needed Jonas to accept this, so he could talk about it. They needed to talk about this. They were adults now, they weren't teenagers anymore. Isak looked at Jonas, or more like stared at him. The dark haired boy didn't meet his eyes.


Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother

She'll know I'm safe with you when

She stands under my colours, oh and

Life ain't always what you think it oughta be, no

Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

The sharp knife of a short life,

Well, I've had just enough time

Isak reached out and touched Jonas’ hand. Jonas withdrew it, pulled away. Isak could see him blinking away tears. It made him feel bad. But he wanted to have this conversation now. It was time, if the met in his head grew he would probably be affected by that and he wanted his head to be clear when they talked about this.

 

 

If I die young bury me in satin.

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song


Jonas grabbed his phone back and stopped the music, not putting on anything else, just stopped it. And they sat in silence for a while. It was slowly becoming a little darker outside.

“Jonas.” Isak tried. The dark haired boy shook his head.

“We need to talk Jonas. I need to talk.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Why? We aren't there yet Isak. So stop it.”

“We might get there, and I want you to accept it now rather than being shocked by reality when it does get to that point. And I need to talk to you about this-”

“I CAN’T TAKE IT, OKAY?”

Isak was taken aback. He hadn't predicted Jonas screaming at him. He hadn't expected him to react like this… like… kind of like Even.

“I-“

“You what? You think that Even is the only one who would feel pain if you died?!”

“Jonas-“

“No. You don’t get to ‘Jonas’ me. Shut up about the dying crap. I can’t take it. I can take you being sick and I can take hearing the doctor telling us stuff but I can’t take you sitting here talking about dying like it’s no big deal!”



They were silent for a long time. Isak was searching his mind for the words, the right words. He was suddenly feeling exhausted. He hated chemo. He needed to talk to Jonas. That wouldn't happen right now he realised. Jonas wasn't in the right mindset and Isak was exhausted from chemo and throwing up.


“It’s a big deal. That’s why I wanted to talk about it. But I’ll wait until you're ready.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, please help me off the floor and into the bed, I feel like shit.”

Jonas gave him a nod and a smile, but it was forced. He got to his feet and helped Isak into the bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow he fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

——-

Waking up next to a snoring Jonas, Isak realised it wasn't morning yet. The room was dark, and being late summer meant it was no more than four o’ clock. He checked the time; he was right. But he felt like he couldn't sleep anymore, so he got out of bed. He wanted to go out, see the sunrise. He and Even used to do that a few times over the past years, when Even couldn't sleep.

He tiptoed around the room, trying not to wake Jonas. It worked out fine until he tripped over Buddy, who yelped, and Jonas sat up in a hurry, startled. “What’s burning?! Who’s that dying- What are you doing?”

“Watching the sunrise?”

“… why?”

“Can’t sleep.”

“Oh.”

“Wanna come?”

“Sure.”


They walked in silence until they reached the nearest hilltop. There they sat down on the grass, next to each other. Isak debated saying something. He decided against. He could tell Jonas was thinking. Suddenly the dark haired boy pulled out his phone, scrolling through it for a few minutes.



When I was six years old I broke my leg

I was running from my brother and his friends

And tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass I rolled down

I was younger then, take me back to when I

 

Found my heart and broke it here

Made friends and lost them through the years

And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I've grown

But I can't wait to go home

 

I'm on my way

Driving at ninety down those country lanes

Singing to "Tiny Dancer"

And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real

We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

 

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes

Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends

Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don't reckon that I did it right

But I was younger then, take me back to when

 

We found weekend jobs, when we got paid

We'd buy cheap spirits and drink them straight

Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we've grown

But I can't wait to go home

 

I'm on my way

Driving at ninety down those country lanes

Singing to "Tiny Dancer"

And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real

We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

 

Over the castle on the hill

Over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes

One works down by the coast

One had two kids but lives alone

One's brother overdosed

One's already on his second wife

One's just barely getting by

But these people raised me and I can't wait to go home

 

And I'm on my way, I still remember

This old country lanes

When we did not know the answers

And I miss the way you make me feel, it's real

We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

Over the castle on the hill

Over the castle on the hill




Isak listened to the song, trying to understand how Jonas was feeling. Whether he wanted to talk or not. Isak decided to let Jonas choose when to speak. And then they watched the sunset in silence after that.



Chapter Text

JONAS







If I give up on you I give up on me

If we fight what's true, will we ever be?

Even God himself and the faith I knew

It shouldn't hold me back, shouldn't keep me from you

 




“I know you might die. I know that.” Jonas started. He waited for Isak to say something, and when he realised that Isak wasn't going to do that, he continued. “But all that pain, from seven years ago, it’s coming back every time you talk about it. Every time you mention dying, I feel that pain rip my chest open. And I’m just not ready for that pain again. I haven't even gotten over the fact that you're sick again. Again!”

He took a break, gathering his thoughts. It was easier said than done. His head was a mess. And it was four in the morning. “And I don’t know what to say. I will never be fine with you dying whenever it happens. But I will need some time to accept it before you start talking so casually about it, okay?”

“Okay.”

Silence fell over them once again. The sunrise was beautiful. Jonas took a picture of it, considering whether he should put it on instagram or not. He decided against it, having a better idea. “Take a selfie with me.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“But-“

“We’re doing it.” Jonas just flipped the camera, raised his hand and leaned closer to Isak. He waited until the blonde haired boy smiled and then he snapped a couple of photos. Examining them, he made a face. “Come on you dork, you can do better.” he grinned at Isak.

“I’m not a dork.”

“Yes.” Jonas said, poking Isak softly in the side. “You’re my dork.”

Isak laughed, and Jonas snapped a couple of more selfies of them both. After picking out the nicest one, he posted the photo with the caption: “Sunrise with sunshine (@isakyaki) :D”

When Isak saw it, he could see the other boy smile. Jonas felt a little happier. His chest a little less heavy. Making Isak smile made him happy. And he wanted to forget the depressing stuff right now, at least for a little while.

“You’re the dork, you know.” Isak said with a smile, but he still liked the photo from his own account. A few minutes later Jonas saw that Even texted Isak, telling him that he looked cute in Jonas’ photo. Jonas laughed loudly, “he’s stalking you on social media because you ignored his call all last night. It’s funny, we’re all still acting like teenagers.”

“I know.” Isak answered, and joined in the laughter. “And speaking of that; stop reading over my shoulder!”

“Never.”

“Jerk.”

“I know. But you love me anyway!”

“Unfortunately I do.”

They started laughing again, and Isak leaned his head on Jonas’ shoulder. They watched the sunrise for a while longer, before they got up and walked back to the apartment. Neither wanting to cook breakfast, they dropped by deli de luca and got something to eat.


————


After making sure Isak was going to be fine alone for a while, Jonas changed his clothes, got in his car and drove to Eva’s house. They had agreed to go for a run together this morning, and he had texted her after they left deli de luca and asked if she was ready.

She was, and now, at six am in the morning, he was outside her house, waiting for her to come out. Sitting on the curb beside his car, looking at the sky, his mind wandered to the moment he shared with Isak just a few hours earlier. It was a good moment. He wished they would get more moments like that.

“Hey.” He heard a voice behind him. Turning around he saw Eva walking towards him, smiling.

“Hey.” He attempted to smile back. She looked really beautiful today and if his head hadn't been filled with thoughts about his best friend dying, he would probably have been a lot more focused on her looks. But he was distracted. “Let’s go, yeah?”

They started running slowly, side by side, taking some time to fall into a pace that fitted them both. Jonas used each step to try and push the awful feelings away. Pushing away the pain, the reality. He focused so hard he almost ran in front of a car. Eva pulled him back the at the last second.

“Jonas? Where’s your head today?” Eva looked at him, the shock of what almost had happened apparent on her face.

“Sorry. Just lost in thought.” He said, and they started running again. Following Eva’s lead, they ran down a path, leading to a forrest trail.

“Yeah, I figured that.” Eva snorted “But you know you can talk to me? Instead of keeping this all bottled up.”

“I know. It’s the Isak situation.”

“I kind of figured that too.”

“I just don’t know what to do Eva. I’m at a loss here. I can’t handle thinking about him dying. It feels like the clock reversed and I’m back where I was seven years ago. And I don’t ever wanna go back there. And he just keeps talking about it like it’s a casual thing, no big deal.”

“Yeah, I know. I have spoken with him a few times.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, and he’s just trying to come to terms with this himself. This was a shock. It was kind of expected, but since so many years passed with no fallbacks, we all believed everything would be just fine. Happily ever after and fluffy rainbows and all that shit, you know?” She smiled sadly. “Joke aside, I think the hardest part for him doesn't seem to be the cancer in it self, but having to keep it from Even.” Eva said.

“But he doesn't have to. He could tell him. He just keeps lying to him!” They had stopped now, standing in a clearing. It was really beautiful. And so was Eva. But Jonas couldn't look at her, because if he did, he knew he would cry.

“No Jonas. He can’t.”

“Why not? Why the hell not? To spare Even’s feelings? Fuck that, cause no-one else gets to escape this fucking hell that is our lives.” Jonas spat. He didn't mean to be so angry and harsh, but it was self-defence. He couldn't help it.

Eva didn't seem affected by his harsh tone. She kept her words soft and calm. “Because Even would be so consumed by his pain and despair, his brain will shut down on him and he will never recover. He is in such a headspace Jonas, he couldn't handle Isak having a cold. Much less cancer. He needs time, and distance, so that maybe he can find himself again, heal, build himself up. He needs time to get out from under all this sickness holding him down. I work with people like Even. Usually they are normal and functional and from time to time their disorder messes with their personality. That’s how Even used to be, before Isak got sick, do you remember?”

She waited for him to nod before she continued.

“The last few times I hung out with Even, there was barely any piece of Even left. There was bipolar disorder and PTSD and depression. But very little Even, if any at all. He has lost himself in this black hole of sickness and he can’t get out. You don’t know this, because you haven't spent as much time with Even as I and Isak have. And you're not working with sick people. You haven't read book after book about the subject. You don’t have mentally ill family members. So I understand why this doesn't make sense to you, and I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I just- please stop acting like Even is an asshole for not being here, because if someone tells him and he comes back, it will end with Isak losing the love of his life. Letting Even go on this trip was the last way out Jonas. It was that or the psychward. And being forced to admit your husband to the psych ward is not something I wish on anyone, especially not Isak.”

“Why must Isak admit him? Why didn't his psychiatrist just do that, like, months ago, if he’s that sick? Huh?”

“The system is faulty. You either hospitalise yourself; which makes it possible to just sign yourself out again, or your family have to do it. If you are married, it’s up to your spouse. So, since they are married, Isak would have had to do it.”

Jonas waited for her to continue. But she seemed to be done. He felt like an asshole. He knew she didn't mean to make him feel like that. But he did none the less. “Fuck.”

“What?”

“I’m still that short tempered, egocentric prick I was when we where younger.”

“You were never any of those words.”

“Maybe not in the beginning. But I have turned into one now.”

“I disagree.”

“Why? What am I, if I’m not a prick for acting like this? Being mad at Isak for wanting to talk about his feelings, being mad at Even for not being here?”

“You're still his best friend. You're just concerned and scared and you feel like you have to carry this alone. But you don’t. We’re all in this with you, if you would let us.” Eva grabbed his hand. Jonas finally dared to look at her, his breath caught in his throat.

“I-“

“And you should talk to someone. A therapist maybe. You're going to get sick yourself if you don't get help sorting these thoughts out every now and again. Or you could talk to me. I’m here Jonas.” Eva smiled so softly at him, so comforting, Jonas couldn't help it; he loved her. Even when he wasn't loveable, she had loved him. He knew she probably didn't love him anymore, but she still cared enough to be his friend, no matter how despicable he acted. He didn't deserve her. But he didn't say that out loud, in fear of her realising the same thing and leaving him forever.


Jonas swallowed. “I know. And I know I shouldn't be mad at Even. I just… I see how much Isak miss him right now, but you're right. Even is in no position to take care of Isak. You can’t care for someone else when you're sick yourself.”

“Exactly. But we can take care of him. All of us. We’re in this together.” Eva gave his hand a squeeze, and Jonas couldn't help it, he had to smile a little.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Eva nodded her head asking if they should keep going further. He nodded yes and they started running again. Jonas kept looking at Eva for a few seconds every now and again, realising how much she had grown and matured since high school. All the things she now knew, all the wisdom she possessed. How could he ever have let her go?

A few of the times he looked at her, he found her already looking back at him. They both smiled and looked away, kept running in silence for a long while. It was beautiful out here. The trees. The fresh air. The sun. And Eva. His mind kept going back to what Isak had said, about life being short. And life was short. Short and messy and at times; awful. He didn't ever want to waste another day, because life? Life was now.

“Eva?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m still in love with you.” he blurted out. He immediately regretted it, he hadn't meant to tell her like this. He had meant to tell her in a more… romantic way. But he did mean it.

She stopped, and turned to look at him. He searched her face for rejection, laughter, annoyance, pity. Anything. But all he saw was a shy smile and glittering eyes. And then she kissed him. And he kissed her right back.

When they pulled away, she whispered “I’m still in love with you too.”

And then she started running again, leaving a dazed Jonas standing there by himself. It took him a couple of seconds to realise what happened, and as soon as he snapped back to reality, he started running after her, yelling at her to wait for him.

She just laughed. The prettiest laugh in the world. And Jonas felt like his heart was going to leap out of his chest.


———

They ended up back at her place, Jonas borrowed her shower and some sweats that barely fit. He didn't care. Laying on her bed, with her curled up in his arms, made everything worth it. Even getting his balls squeezed by the tight pants didn't bother him. They had kissed a couple of more times, but they hadn't gone further than that. They had time. There was no rush.

“I’m glad you told me. About Even. I needed that.” he confessed. He could feel her moving, sitting up. He wanted to pull her back down.

“I know. I know you needed to hear it. You're a good friend Jonas, you really are. But this thing, with Isak and Even, it’s heavier than what one person can carry alone. You need to let the rest of us help, we need to be in this together.”

“Yeah. I know.” He smiled at her. “You’re amazing, you know that?” he tugged her back down, feeling his heart flutter when she laughed and kissed his cheek. He needed this. He needed her. They needed each other.

Jonas felt his phone buzz in his pocket, and pulled out his phone.


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

Coming home soon?


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

Yeah, are you okay?

FROM ISAK TO JONAS

I’m fine. Can we invite some friends over for dinner and a party? No, I won’t drink. I just want to hang out with our friends. Me and Buddy are bored. Like, “we-cleaned-the-house-twice-already”-bored.



Jonas laughed at the last text and showed it to Eva, who smiled and whispered “yes” before she pulled out her own phone, sending a mass text to all their friends.

Jonas just smiled and looked at her. He knew stuff wouldn't just become perfect between them right away, but he knew she still cared for him, loved him. Right now that was all he needed. They could work out the rest later.

 

 

 


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

Eva is inviting everyone. Any food preferences? I’ll either pick something up or force Noora to cook.

 


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

Pizza is fine, less trouble when you invite that many and please no forcing Noora, she is not your personal cook you asshat. Talked to Eva, since you left for a jog at six am and it’s now one pm?

 


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

Yes. I’ll tell you later. Be home soon.

 


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

<3


—————

 

Sitting in Isak and Even’s living room, eating pizza and drinking beer with their friends, Jonas could almost pretend everything was normal. But maybe it was. Yes, Isak was sick, but right now he was fine. Jonas could see him laughing at something Sana said, looking happy. They were happy right now. He decided to try and push it all away.

Isak was happy. Him and Eva was trying to figure it out. All his friends were happy. Right now life was good. It was fine. It wasn't perfect. It was fine.

When they finished eating he volunteered to clean up along with Eskild, and they washed the plates and tidied up the kitchen in silence. When they was nearly finished, Eskild grabbed him by the shoulder. “Hey Jonas, how is Isak? Like, really.”

Jonas thought about it for a second. He turned his head and looked out into the living room, at Isak, who was laughing. Then he looked back at Eskild.

“He’s fine.”

“Jonas, he has cancer,”

“Yes. He has. But today he is fine.”

“Shouldn’t we call Even? I mean, it’s a terminal decease.”

“No. And they haven't actually told him it’s terminal yet, so please don’t go around saying that.”

“Sorry. But why not telling? Even’s his husband.”

“Even…” Jonas sighed. He had been of the same opinion as Eskild just hours earlier. Now he was arguing against it. Because he knew Eva had been right. This was Isak’s decision. They had to accept it. “Yeah, he is. Even is Isak’s husband and Isak said no. We need to respect that.”

“Yeah, I just-“

“No Eskild. No Telling Even. We just… Let’s just try and be there for Isak, yeah?”

“Yeah. Okay. Yeah. But I don't like it.”

“Me either. But it’s not our decision.”

“I know.”

Jonas gave Eskild a pat on the back and they exchanged a smile before the older boy walked back into the living room. Jonas stayed in the kitchen for a little while.

Less then twelve hours ago he had been thinking like Eskild, and now he wasn’t. At least not completely. He felt like an asshole, for being so angry at Isak, at Even. They were both sick and didn't deserve his bullshit.

He pulled out his phone, and sent a quick text.


FROM JONAS TO EVEN

Hey man. How’s Europe? We’re having a get together in your apartment now, can i borrow your guitar? Forgot mine at home.


It only took a minute or so before he got an answer.


FROM EVEN TO JONAS

Sure thing. Have fun! Is Isak doing okay?


Jonas bit his lip, thinking. He didn't like lying. He despised it. But twisting the truth, or rather tell only parts of the truth, would be okay.


FROM JONAS TO EVEN

He’s doing fine, don’t worry.


Because Isak was fine, at least tonight.

Jonas walked into the bedroom and found the guitar. Bringing it back into the living room he got cheers from his friends. That did enjoy sing-alongs. He sat down, and started tuning the guitar slightly, while his friends kept suggesting songs he could play. He looked at Isak, and smiled.

Then he started playing, knowing Isak new the lyrics and nodded at his friend to sing with him.

 




Hope when you take that jump

You don't feel the fall

Hope when the water rises

You built a wall

Hope when the crowd screams out

It's screaming your name

Hope if everybody runs

You choose to stay

 

 

 

He wanted to tell Isak it was okay. That he was sorry about being angry. But mostly that he hadn't given up hope, hope that Isak would make it through this. That they would all be okay.

 

 

 

Hope that you fall in love

And it hurts so bad

The only way you can know

You give it all you have

And I hope that you don't suffer

But take the pain...

Hope when the moment comes

You'll say



And he knew that unlike the last time, this time Isak had lived, really lived. Not enough, no-one in their twenties had really lived enough, but he had at least lived some. He had experienced the world. And he was stronger for it. He could fight it. But not if Jonas kept fighting him. They needed to fight this together. And Eva had been right. They all needed to fight with Isak.

 

I...I did it all

I...I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give

I saw so many places

The things that I did

Yeah, with every broken bone

I swear I lived



If Even couldn't be here, they would have to fill his place for him. Be Isak’s support system. Give him reasons to fight. Help him every step of the way.

 

 

Hope that you spend your days

But they all add up

And when that sun goes down

Hope you raise your cup

Oh, oh

I wish that I could witness

All your joy and all your pain

But until my moment comes



In order to do that, Jonas realised he needed to sort himself out a little first. He looked eyes with Eva, who was nodding at him. He decided then and there that he would try to talk to her about this, but he would also make himself an appointment with a therapist. Running and screaming had worked fine last time, or so he thought. But now, being back in this situation, he realised it hadn’t. Because the pain was rushing back with full force every time he thought about Isak dying. And he needed to find a way to deal with it. For Isak. He needed to be better for Isak. And Eva. And maybe most of all, himself.

 

 

I'll say

I...I did it all

I...I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give

I saw so many places

The things that I did

Yeah, with every broken bone

I swear I lived

 

 

 

——————-

The next morning Jonas got up, got dressed, put on his shoes and took the dog with him. He started running, taking some time to get used to run with a dog. They fell into a rhythm and soon reached the forrest. Choosing a path were he knew there wouldn't be any one else, he let the dog of leash, letting it run free, and picked up his pace. He had become so much more fit these past few years. Before he could barely run thirty minutes. Now he could run for hours.


“Oi!” Suddenly he was snapped out of his thoughts, nearly running into someone else. A girl. And Jonas realised that she was the girl he had met seven years ago. “Hey.”

“Hey!” she smiled at him.

“Guy with a best friend with leukaemia, right?”

“Yup. Girl with awesome advise right?” he smiled right back at her.

“Awesome advise? Really? What did I say?”

“Keep moving forward.”

“Did it help?”

“For a while.”

“Did your friend…”

“No. But he got sick again.”

“Ah. Shit. Sorry.”

“Yeah. It just feels worse this time. i think we were so naive last time we didn't fully realise the seriousness of it all. It’s so much harder this time.”

“I know. The older you get the shittier life gets.”

“Yeah… I mean, last time I got through it by running, screaming, and repeat your advise in my head. This time it’s just not enough.”

“How about talking with someone?”

“What good does that do?” he snorted, despite already having decided to talk to someone. He just couldn't help it. The word therapist sounded so… well it made him feel like a freak. A screwed up person. It made him feel ashamed.

“People need people.”

She handed him a note with a phone number on. “This is my number. I’m Julie. You can call me or text me or whatever. Or you can burn the note. Just know that I will listen if you need to talk. People need people, especially in situations like these.”

Jonas accepted the note. “I- Thank you. Really.” Only then did he realise she didn't have her dog with her. “Where’s your dog by the way?”

“He died. Accident, got hit by a car.”

“Shit, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you.” She looked so sad, Jonas could almost feel her pain. Then she smiled sadly and continued: “I got a new one though, but he’s home with my mother. He’s to young for running and mom needed company. I see you got one?”

“Well, no. He belongs to my friend’s husband actually. Long story.”

“Sounds interesting. You can tell me if you ever decide to call.”

“I will. Tell you if I call I mean.”

“Do that. It was nice meeting you again-“

“Jonas.”

“Jonas. It was nice meeting you again Jonas.”

“It was nice meeting you too Julie.”

Then they started running again in opposite directions, neither saying bye. Maybe because it was such a final word and they both feared more final endings.

When Jonas came home he pulled out the note and found his phone. Quickly he added the phone number to his phone and typed a text.

 

 

 


FROM JONAS TO JULIE

Thank you for listening earlier. And thank you for that advise all those years ago. And thank you for offering to talk to me. Please feel free to talk to me as well if you need it.
- Jonas



FROM JULIE TO JONAS

Anytime. And thank you for your offer. Call me if you ever want to share that long story.



FROM JONAS TO JULIE

Maybe I will.



FROM JULIE TO JONAS

:-)


 

 


He put down his phone, and took a shower. Getting dressed he walked into the kitchen, finding Isak awake already. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“You okay?” Jonas asked, finding himself something to eat.

“Fine. Going out Noora and William for a walk in the park and lunch soon. Wanna join?”

“I was kind of planning to go to Eva’s, but if you need me-“

“No. Go be with Eva.”

“Isak.”

“Jonas, for the love of everything holy, just go be with Eva. You guys have been pining over each other for so long, just go and have sex with her already and get back together and all that shit. Please. Be happy. i need you happy.”

Jonas watched his best friend rant with a gaping mouth. Then he quickly pulled himself together. “I need you happy too.”

“Then be with Eva. It would make me happy.”

“Really?”

“Really. And you can ask her to move in here. Would be nice with some company when you're at work. And I miss her.”

“Okay. I will.”

Jonas ate, helped Isak clean the apartment (Jonas cleaned and forced Isak to stay on the couch) and then after asking a hundred more times if Isak was okay, he headed out the door and drove to Eva’s place.

 

—-

She greeted him at the door with a huge smile and a kiss, and pulled him into her house.

They sat down on her couch, after she had made them both a cup of tea.

“I met that girl again. The one I met years ago in the woods, when Isak was sick the first time.”

“Did she have any words of wisdom this time?” Eva smiled at him, and took a sip from her tea.

He looked at her, and took in her beautiful face, her sparkling eyes. The way she smiled at him. He hated himself for ever letting her go, ever being bad towards her. She was too good for him then. She still was. He didn't deserve her. But still, she wanted him. He wondered for how long. He wondered if he should just break this off before he got in to deep. Because she would figure out he wasn't good enough one day. He just knew it.

But for now, he couldn't make himself do it. He needed her. It sounded selfish and it probably was. But he did. He needed Eva. And a small part of him wished she needed him too.

“People need people.”

He could see the obvious surprise in her face. She hadn't expected that answer. But then he saw that she was smiling. Approvingly. And nodding. “I know.”

He was about to ask how, but then it hit him; he knew it himself as well. He had known it all along. And she, who worked with people, mostly sick people, knew that people needed people.

“Isak want’s you to move in.” he said, feeling the moment fitted. People need people and Isak needed them.

“Okay.” she answered. No question why. Just an ‘okay’ and a big smile. And then she kissed him like there was no tomorrow.


——


They debated whether to ask Isak to move into Eva’s place instead, seeing as it was bigger, but Isak’s place was closer to the hospital and it made it easier for Eva to come and go to work. And for Isak to get to and from chemo when Jonas or Eva couldn't come with him.

So they moved into Isak’s flat. Eva took the spare room, Jonas stayed with Isak. The blond haired boy argued that Jonas could stay with Eva if he wanted too, but Jonas used the excuse that their relationship was too fresh to start sleeping in the same bed. In reality he didn't want to leave Isak’s side incase Isak ever needed help. And he didn't want Isak to be lonely. He was pretty sure his beast friend was. He could see it in his face. Isak missed Even.


One Friday night when both Eva and Jonas had worked during the day and Isak had been to a check up, the latter broke the news.

“They have set a date for my brain surgery. The mets have shrunk everywhere except in my head, so they want to remove it incase it grows and starts affecting me.”

Jonas didn't know what to say. He had known this was coming. He had known Isak would need more surgeries. He just couldn't help feeling panicked, feeling like he was back in that waiting room seven years ago.

“What part of the brain is in danger of being affected Isak?” Eva asked. Jonas looked from her to Isak. He hadn't even thought to ask the other boy that question before. Not even that first day when they learned the diagnose. He felt so selfish. All he had been focusing on was his own pain. He had refused to talk to Isak for weeks. He could see Isak looking at him now, unsure about answering while Jonas was there. It hurt, knowing he made his best friend feel like this.

So Jonas grabbed Isak’s hand, giving it a squeeze and smiled comforting, trying to tell him that he was willing to listen now.

“Memory center.” Isak simply said, looking away from them. Eva didn't answer. Neither did Jonas. Imagining Isak loosing all his memories was hard. If that happened, he wouldn't even know who Jonas and Eva was. He wouldn't know who Even was. “I have written a letter to Even, it’s on my desk. If something goes wrong, if I lose my memory, or… you know… then I want you to send it to him. Could you guys please do that?”

Isak looked so small, so vulnerable. Jonas felt his heart clench in his chest. He had made Isak doubt whether or not Jonas would respect his wishes, do things for him. “Isak…” he said, feeling his voice break. “Of course I would do that. I would do anything for you.”

The other boy pulled his hand out of Jonas’ grip. “Except talk to me.”

“Isak.”

“I know. You can’t. You made that perfectly clear-“

“I was wrong. I am sorry. I was selfish. I was an asshole. I was a sorry excuse for a friend. But I promise I will listen now. I promise.”

“Jonas-“

“I love you Isak. You're my bro. I’m here for you. I can take it.”

Isak flung his arms around Jonas in a hug. Jonas hugged his friend back, his eyes meeting Eva’s as he did. She nodded approvingly, smiling at him. He smiled back.

He just wished the words have been true. That he could take it. Because right now he wasn't sure if he could.

 





I will tell your story if you die

I will tell your story and keep you alive the best I can

I will tell them to the children

if we have some, if we have some

But I've always felt a feeling we would die young

Some die young

Some die young

 

I will tell your story if you try

but how long will your thoughts

of valleys stay green

when the world you were born in

changes with seasons

Will you run with this dream, will you run along

or will you run against and finally reveal

why some die young

Why some die young

Why some die

 

Some die young

but you better hold on

you better hold on

So many things i need to say to you

Please don't, don't let me go

and we said we would die together

Some die young

but you better hold on

So many things i need to say to you

Please don't, don't let me go

and we said we would die together

you said we would die

together

Chapter Text

 

 

 




EVEN

 




Even walked around Paris for half a day before he decided he needed to get some lunch. Paris was everything he had imagined it to be, and more. It was beautiful, inspiring, and really romantic. He found himself wishing Isak was there, and made a promise to himself; he was going to become better, he was going to heal, and then he was going to take Isak here. One day. He really was.

Sitting down at a table, choosing to sit outside in the sun, he ordered food and looked around at the city around him. He felt so calm, for the first time in years. It was warm outside, the air smelled of delicious food, and people were chatting and laughing. Across the street he spotted a musician. He played beautifully on a guitar, singing in what Even assumed was french.

The guy had dark brown, curly hair, and a beard. He looked like a relaxed and laid-back guy, slightly hipster style but not quite. And he played like he had never done anything else his entire life.

It was mesmerising.


After finishing his food, Even ordered a coffee and pulled out his sketchbook. He decided to draw the scene in front of him - the musician, the street, the beauty. He used his pen, capturing it all.

Over the years, Even had gotten better and better at drawing. It had been his favourite hobby, the thing he did when he couldn't sleep, when his mind was racing. He drew buildings and landscapes and people and animals and everything he wanted to. Mostly he drew Isak. Sleeping Isak. Working Isak. Isak watching TV. Isak cooking. Isak playing with Buddy. Isak in general.


Focusing so hard on drawing, he didn't realise the musician had stopped playing until he felt a hand on his shoulder. Shocked by being touched by someone, he jerked and snapped his head around, looking at the person.

It was the musician. “Hey man. I saw you drawing me and came to check it out. Sorry if I scared you. ” The guy laughed. He spoke english well, but with a small hint of some kind of accent, suggesting he wasn't english.

Even considered to hide the drawing away and make up an excuse and leave, but something made him do the opposite. He showed the man his drawing.

“Woah dude, you got mad skills.” The musician said. “I’m Adam, freelance musician.”

“Even. Don’t know what to do with my life.”

“Does anyone?” Adam smirked.


———————


Adam was going to move on to another street corner and invited Even to join him. He said there was this really beautiful fountain over there that Even could draw. And maybe they could talk about life? Even accepted. They walked over, chatting on the way.

“What brought you to Paris?” Even asked.

“The women. Hah, kidding. No, I don’t know. I’m an artist and Paris is beautiful. And I wanted to see the world, you know?”

Even nodded. “Me too. The seeing the world part at least.”

“I get the feeling it’s a deeper story.” Adam said, and Even froze for a second. Was he that easy to read? He contemplated telling Adam everything, but they had met less than an hour ago. But at the same time, why not. If Adam didn't want to hang out with him when he found out about all Even’s troubles and his disorder and stuff, they could just go separate ways. He had nothing to lose.

So Even started telling him the story. Starting with him being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, to meeting Isak, to the cancer, to nearly loosing Isak and then the aftermath. The not sleeping, the nightmares, the panic attacks, the never getting past it. And then the idea of this trip. Why he wanted to do it and hat he hoped to accomplish.

Adam stayed quiet through the whole story. He listened quietly and didn't interrupt. When Even was done talking they had arrived and sat down in the spot Adam wanted to be.

“I think it’s a good idea. Your trip.” Adam said at last.

Even raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? You think leaving your husband to just travel the world without plan, not knowing when you’ll return, is a good idea? Because I started doubting it as soon as I left the plane.”

“You have to think about it differently. You’re 27, right? And you got married at 20. You haven't really had time to just be you. You have to give yourself some time to be you. Find out who you are. Yes, being bipolar isn't something you can change, so that’s something you just have to accept. Same with being gay-“

“Not 100% gay, I dated girls for years before Isak. I like to think of my self as pan, but yeah..”

“Never mind. My point is that permanent stuff can’t be changed, but finding out who you are and figure out what you want to do in life is something you can do. Now tell me. What, besides drawing, can you do?”

“Well. Not much. I can serve coffee.”

“There has to be more than that to Even Valtersen Næsheim.”

“I like reading books. I love movies. At one point I wanted to direct movies, when Isak got sick I actually had a job in the tv-industry. I can make breakfast. I can play a little bit of guitar, but nowhere as good as you.”

“You can play guitar? Let me hear some!”

“No, no this is your thing. I can draw while you play.”

“Shut up and just play me something. Come on!” Adam placed his guitar in Even’s lap, and Even raised an eyebrow slowly.

Then he figured; why the hell not. This was why he had gone to Paris. Started travelling at all. To try new things and experience something different. So he started playing a song he had played a few times before, when he and Buddy were home alone, and when Adam nodded in approval, he started singing.

 


“Can you lie next to her

And give her your heart, your heart

As well as your body

And can you lie next to her

And confess your love, your love

As well as your folly

And can you kneel before the king

And say I'm clean, I'm clean

 

Tell me now, where was my fault

In loving you with my whole heart

Oh tell me now, where was my fault

In loving you with my whole heart

 

A white blank page and a swelling rage, rage

You did not think when you sent me to the brink, to the brink

You desired my attention but denied my affections, my affections

 

Tell me now, where was my fault

In loving you with my whole heart

Oh tell me now, where was my fault

In loving you with my whole heart

 

Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life

Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life”



“Dude you’re great.” Adam said as he handed the guitar back.

“Nah. I can only play some stuff. It’s not my thing.”

“You played that one perfectly. The lyrics, they reflect how you feel, right?”

“I… yeah. They do.”

“I think that is part of your problem if you don’t mind me saying. You focus your whole life around another person, and it consumes you. You need to find out who you are without him. Who is Even Valtersen Næsheim, without Isak?”

“I…” Even hesitated. Did he know? All he could think about when Adam asked him that question was Isak. His life did truly revolve around Isak. And he didn't think it was such a bad thing. But maybe Adam had a point. Even didn't know who he was without Isak. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to figure it out?”

“I… I do.”

“Want my help?”

“Would you do that? I mean, why?”

“It will be an adventure! I’d be happy to try to help. We can help each other?”

Even wondered what Adam would possibly need help with. The guy seemed so at ease with himself, like he had it all figured out. But he figured that was a question for another day, “Deal.”


——-

They worked their way through different streets of Paris that day, Adam playing and singing and Even drawing places and people and some times Adam and his guitar. When night fell, they checked into a cheep hotel, deciding to share a room to save money and to keep talking. They requested twin beds though, sharing a bed with a stranger was not on Even’s bucket list. Not that he had made a list. He only had one goal, and that was to live life and grab every opportunity.

“So, where are you from?” he asked as they put down their bags.

“Italy. You?”

“Norway.”

“Cool, I’ve always wanted to go there.”

“Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Italy.”

“Maybe we could travel together? Play and draw our way through Europe?” Adam suggested, a laugh in his voice but his eyes suggesting him being serious.

Even considered it. He partly wanted to go alone. He had figured he would stay with Adam while he was in Paris and then move on alone. But travelling with someone else, someone with a different backstory and different mindset, sounded better, funnier. And Adam had accepted Even being bipolar (and pansexual) and could maybe help him on the road to figure out his life.

“Yeah. Yeah, okay. Let’s do it.”

“Awesome.”



Before he got into bed, he tried calling Isak, but got no answer. Figuring the younger boy (or should he say man?) probably was either at work or sleeping, he decided to send a text instead.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Paris is beautiful, but not as beautiful as you. I miss you. Give me a call when you can. <3



Then he fell into a deep and resting sleep, for the first time in a long time. He had no nightmares. Maybe this trip was a good idea after all. He just hoped Isak would forgive him for leaving. He hoped this wouldn't break them apart. He hoped Isak would still love him.


———-


The next day they ate breakfast at a bakery and walked around the city for a while discussing favourite movies and actors, trying to decide on a place to sit down. They had surprisingly many favourites in common. After walking for a while, Even spotted a beautiful church and asked Adam if it was okay for him if they sat down here for a while. Even wanted to draw it.

Adam complied and soon the soft tones of the guitar filled the air as Even drew the church. People stopped by now and then to leave money for Adam.

Even took his time to capture all the details, putting his soul into the drawing. He managed to forget about his problems for a few hours. It was nice.

Suddenly one of the people leaving money for Adam stopped in front of them and spoke. “Hello young man, do you sell these drawings?” she asked, her english broken by heavy french accent.

Even looked up, seeing a little old lady with a sweet face looking down on him. Then he looked down, seeing that he had dropped a few of his other drawings on the ground next to him while he was working. As he was about to answer that he didn’t, that it was just a hobby, Adam answered for him.

“Yes he does.”

Even wanted to be annoyed at the way Adam took charge of his life like that, but the happy look on the lady’s face changed his mind. He decided to force a smile and nod.

“Can I perhaps buy that one?” she said, pointing at the one he was currently drawing. Or, he was actually just finished. The lady continued to speak, “Me and my husband got married in that church. And when he died two years ago his funeral was there too. Your drawing of it is so beautiful, I’ll pay whatever you want for it.”

Even just nodded dumbly, signing his name on the bottom and said she could have it for ten euros. He didn't really want to take money from her, knowing her sad story. When she tried to protest, he said it was a gift, because “losing someone you love is a terrible thing”.

When he handed her the drawing she gave him two hundred euros, saying it was way too good for her to pay any less. “I’ll spread the word about you to my friends Even Valtersen Næsheim, I’m sure they’ll want to by some of your works as well. You are truly an amazing artist.” Then she left, giving him no chance to protest.

Watching her leave, Even just held the money in his hand, gaping.

“Dude, I knew I should have suggested you selling of those drawings earlier!” Adam exclaimed happily. Even just smiled a little sheepishly.

“They’re not that good.” he tried to argue.

“They’re great dude, don’t sell yourself short.” Adam smiled, and pushed his arm in a friendly bump. “Maybe this is the real Even, huh? An artist?”

Even just laughed. “Maybe.”

And just like that, they started displaying Even’s drawings in front of them wherever they sat down. Adam played, Even drew and they formed a routine.


————

“Even. I have leukaemia. I have cancer.”



Even sat up in his bed, bathed in sweat, feeling his heart beating and the panic coming over him. He took in his surroundings. He wasn't back in Oslo. Isak wasn't next to him. He wasn’t on that bench hearing the love of his life being sick. He was fine. They were both just fine.

“Hey man, are you okay?” he heard a sleepy Adam ask from the bed next too him.

“I… nightmare. Sorry I woke you up.”

“S’okay.” He could see Adam sitting up, stretching and rubbing sleep out of his eyes. “Wanna go for a walk? I guess you won’t be able to sleep anymore anyway.”

“Would you do that, for me?” Even was surprised. Why was Adam so nice to him? They had known each other less than a week.

“Sure thing man. Come on. We’ll go for a walk. I’ll share my dark secrets and maybe take your mind of your nightmare.”


.


The air was colder than it was during the day, but still warm enough for them to wear only t-shirts. They walked in silence, watching the streets by night. Reaching the fountain where Even had played the first day, they sat down. And after a few minutes of silence, Adam just started talking.

“My sister died when I was younger. She was killed by a drunk driver. She made it to the hospital but the damage to her brain was so severe, they declared her braindead. It broke my family apart. Especially since my father was the drunk driver.”

“My mother tried to kill herself multiple times. Finally got committed to a care home. My father ended up in prison where he provoked one of the other criminals to beat him to death. i ended up being raised by my grandparents. I was ten when my sister died.”

“Growing up, I had very few friends. My best friend’s name was Darren. He was half american and also an outcast at school. We made all these plans to become famous musicians one day. We started a band together. Got a deal with a agency that wanted to produce our music.”

“The night we graduated, we were driving home from a party. Neither of us had drunk anything, as we had plan to leave for Paris the next day. It was a warm summer night. We were happy one second. The next our car got hit by a meeting car. A truck or something.”

Adam was silent for a long while. Even just waited, knowing this was bad.

“Darren died on impact. I broke eight ribs, both my legs, my clavicle, an arm and had major internal bleedings. But I lived. I survived. It took five year for me to recover, not only for my injuries to heal and but mostly for the mental scars to fade. I felt like life wasn't worth it. Like there was no point. Like I didn't deserve to live. Everyone I loved just died. I felt like I was cursed. That I didn't matter. I even tried to kill myself. But then, talking to Darren’s mother, i realised one thing; I needed to do something with my life. I had to honour Darren by not wasting my life.”

“So our reasons for coming here are quite similar you know. I search for my place in the world. To find a meaning in life, to figure out my purpose, and I try to have a positive impact. I play to get my emotions out, but also to make other people’s days better. I kind of feel like that’s why you draw too. The getting the emotions out part. But like you saw that day by the church, your art made that woman happy. You have the ability to make people smile.”

Even looked up for the first time since Adam started talking, and met the other man’s eyes. “So, what you’re saying is that we both matter.” he said slowly.

“We do. Or we try. Let’s keep trying, yeah?”

“Yeah. Let’s.”

“And I want to impact more than the people in Paris. I want to travel the world, spread my music. I think you should do the same with your art. It is really really good Even.”

“I-“

“One day at a time, okay?”

“Like, we just get up each day and just make it up as we go?”

“Something like that.”

“I’d like that.”

“Then we do it?”

“Then we do it.”



Walking back to the hotel, Even tried to process everything Adam had just told him. He couldn't imagine losing so many people he loved. He thought back to the night when he thought Isak would die. How horrible he felt. He couldn't imagine going on if Isak had died. He couldn't imagine being that strong. But that was different. Because it was an imaginary situation. Adam had actually lost someone. He had just gotten it thrown at him. Twice. And he was still breathing, living, not having nightmares. Adam was functioning.

He hoped Adam could teach him how to move on. Even had to move on. He couldn't keep living in fear of stuff that didn't happen, of a loss that wasn't real. Isak was healthy and fine and would live for many years. He was going to learn how to be as strong as Adam, to keep living. Living happily and making the most of life.


Just as he could feel himself falling asleep, Adam spoke. “Why do you sketch? Just, do you do it for fun or relaxation or just… why?”

Even thought about that for a while. He had been sketching and drawing for years. Whenever he needed to express himself and couldn't find the words or when he needed to escape reality. He had drawn stuff for Isak back in the day, when they were at the beginning of their relationship. He had drawn when he was down, when he was high. He had always liked drawing.

“To escape reality sometimes. To capture the beauty. To express what words can’t. To relax. To clear my head. Because I love it.”

“I feel that way about music as well.” Ada was silent for a few minutes before he continued. “I wanted to be a lawyer when I was a teenager. Follow my dad’s footsteps. But then I started playing more and more, and fell in love with music.”

“I wanted to direct movies.”

“And you don’t anymore?”

“I… Not really. It was my obsession around the time Isak got sick, and whenever I think about it now I picture him sick. So I think I need to just find something else. Like drawing.”

“I agree. But you should try painting as well. I bet you would be great at it.”

Even had never considered painting. But it sounded fun to try. “Maybe.”

“Think about it.”

“I will.”

———-

As they walked out of the bakery the next morning, he called Isak again.

“Hey babe.” he heard a sleepy Isak answer.

“Hey you. Are you sleeping? On a Tuesday? I thought you worked afternoon shifts this week?”

“Got some time of.” Isak yawned. Even could hear someone talking in the background. “Sorry, your highness, I’m on the fucking phone.” he heard Isak snap back.

Even laughed. “Who’s that?”

“William. We’re at Jonas’ cabin, reunion trip. Wish you were here.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“How is Paris? Are you still hanging out with that musician guy?”

“Adam. Yeah, we still hang out. He’s showing me Paris and keeping me company.”

“And keeping tabs on him, making sure he takes his meds and sleeps at night!” Adam yelled over Even’s shoulder.

Even could hear Isak laugh at that. “That’s really good Even. I’m kind of glad you found him, even if I’m jealous of you hanging out with another guy. I didn't like the thought of you being all alone.”

“I know. But no need to be jealous baby, Adam is straight as an arrow. And I only have eyes for you.” He knew Isak wasn't he jealous type, he was just joking. He could almost see Isak smile too.

“I love you Even.” Isak whispered, his voice low and filled with emotion. And sleepiness.

“I love you too Isak.” he smiled a bit. “Now get some more sleep, you sound exhausted. Reunion trip sounds like it’s wearing you out.”

“Thank you. I am pretty exhausted, sharing a room with so many people makes sleeping harder. I’ll call you soon.”

“Please do.”

They hung up and Even put his phone in his pocket. He looked at Adam, his eyes asking the question they started each day with. ‘Where too?’

“How about London?” Adam said. He hadn't expected the suggestion to change countries, just going to a different part of town or something. But they had agreed to see Europe, and they had seen a lot of Paris now. Time to move on. Even nodded. “Sure. I want to draw big ben.”

So they got to the train station and got on a train to London. Looking out the window as the train went on, he suddenly felt the urge to smile again. He wasn't fine yet, he wasn't ‘fixed’, but he felt like smiling just then. So he did.



————


London was everything he had imagined, but at the same time it wasn’t. He loved it. They went through the city, riding the bus, walking the popular shopping street, and visiting big ben.

 

 

Even had always wanted to draw it. Focusing intently on his sketch, he was so lost in thought he most tuned out Adam’s singing. The other boy alternated between singing his own songs, and sometimes he sung cover songs. Songs most people had heard for the most, sometimes songs he had memories about. Even sometimes asked about his song choices. Sometimes he just realised the reason without having to ask.

 



“And if you're in love, then you are the lucky one

'Cause most of us are bitter over someone

Setting fire to our insides for fun

To distract our hearts from ever missing them

But I'm forever missing him”

 

 

 

Even looked up from his drawing, meeting Adam’s eyes. He could read the pain. And he knew Adam could read his pain. The song meant different things for them, but it brought out the same feeling in both of them; pain.

 

——-


They worked their way through London the next few days. Played on street corners, did tourist-y stuff. Visited the London eye. Rode a ferry. And when Adam asked if Even would like to go on one of those tourist busses, Even agreed, happy about the chance to see more of London, more stuff he could draw.

They got on and climbed to the top floor, so they could see better. They listened to the guide tell them about all the things they saw. Even half listened, as he had begun sketching some of the sights. Just one big drawing with a bunch of tiny pieces from different parts of London. Therefor he didn't notice that Adam had gotten up and walked up to the guide before she had handed him the microphone and Adam started speaking.

“Hey everyone! My name is Adam and the reason I am interrupting this awesome tour guide of ours is that me and my friend Even are traveling the world trying to make a impact on people’s lives. So we were wondering if it would be okay with you guys that we played you a song?”

Even glared at Adam, open mouthed. He couldn't believe this. He could see Adam motioning him to come forward as a few people called out ‘yes’. He debated refusing. He didn't like the attention of so many people on him. But then that little voice in his head came through. ‘You went on this trip to try new things. Leave the comfort sone’. So he did. He got up, grabbed the mic from Adam so Adam could get his hands free to play the guitar, and when Adam started playing and singing, Even sang along.

“I seen the look in your face

Telling me a story

You don't have to be alone

I love to see you smiling

Why you try to hide it?

Don't you know you've got it all?

 

I know when you're gone

You do your thing

And you live like you want

I know when you're gone

You're just looking for a little sign of love

 

I said hey

Won't you come with me?

I said hey, hey

Hey, won't you stay with me?

I said hey, hey

I said hey

Won't you come with me?

I said hey, hey

Hey, won't you stay with me?

I said hey, hey

 

See the way you moving

No need for introducing

You're everything a man could want

You and I, we both know

Only one with this course

Baby let me take you home

 

I know when you're gone

You do your thing

And you live like you want

I know when you're gone

All you're looking for is a little sign of love

 

I said hey

Won't you come with me?

I said hey, hey

Hey, won't you stay with me?

I said hey, hey”


The got a standing ovation, and before they got of the buss, Even had sold all his remaining drawings and they had both gotten tons of cash and praise from the people on the buss.

Later, when they had gotten of the bus and started walking into Hyde park, Even asked Adam why he had done that.

“We need to find a way to spread our art faster. I have realised, after telling you about Darren, that I still want to produce music, get it out to as many people as I can. And I think you should do the same with your art.”

“I don’t know. I just went on this trip to find myself.” Even replied, biting his lip.

“I think you have. I think you’ve known who you are all along. You're an artist. You just needed time and space to figure that out without your demons dragging you down. Now you just have to find a way to believe in yourself, and there is no better way than to get praise and recognition and having other people telling you that they believe in you.”

Even didn't have any comeback to that. He just nodded slowly, thinking about what Adam had said. Maybe he should try to make it as an artist. It wasn’t easy. It wasn't a secure job like his husband had. But it was something he was good at, passionate about. And if he failed, he was kinda good at serving coffee as well. Following Adam into the park, he grabbed his sketchbook harder and decided to give it a try.

Because why the hell not.

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

How are you baby? I miss you.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I’m fine. How are you? Are you getting better? Miss you too.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Not quite yet, but I think I’m maybe getting there.





And he truly felt like he was.


Until that night, when he woke up from yet another nightmare. It turned out that following Adam around Europe and drawing wasn't enough to completely cure him. But he never thought it would be either. But like he told Isak; he was getting there. He hadn't had a really bad day since he left Norway, only the nightmares and occasional feeling of hopelessness and sadness. No black hole swallowing him. No deep depression dragging him down. No panic attacks. Not in nearly three weeks.

He prayed it would continue to be like that.



——

 


Of course that didn't happen. Three days later, sitting in Hyde park and sketching Adam who was playing, he suddenly overheard someone talking behind them. He heard the words “leukaemia” and “died” and he suddenly felt like he was back in that hospital, watching his husband die. He couldn't breathe. The pain was rushing back, hitting him like a tsunami.

He didn't know he had blacked out before he could feel Adam shake his shoulder. “Hey man, you okay?” He looked genuinely worried, and Even would have made up a lie about being fine if he could just manage to fucking breathe. “Even? Focus. Just mind your surroundings. Listen to the rush of the traffic. Count slowly to eight. You can do this.”

Adam kept repeating this over and over, and finally, Even could breathe again. He took some deep breaths, before nodding when Adam asked whether he felt better now or not. When he felt like he had control again, he met Adam’s eyes. “Sorry. I thought I was done with the panic attacks.” he couldn't stop the tears from dripping down his cheeks.

“Don’t apologise. Just tell me what triggered it, and maybe we can work on that, yeah?”

“Those people, talking about leukaemia and death. Brought me right back to that hospital room. To that pain, the uncertainness. The monitor beeping angrily. Isak’s mother singing that song. I can hear it all, loud and clear in my head. Everyone crying quietly. But the pain was the worst. The pain of knowing I might not ever see those beautiful green eyes again.” Even shuddered, the tears kept running.

Adam squeezed his shoulder. “But you did. He survived. And you guys had such an amazing life for years. What triggered you getting worse?”

Even thought about it. When it had turned around, when he had gotten worse again. When his life had started shattering and he had started spiralling down, becoming more and more illness and less and less Even.

“Isak got appendicitis. It was a bit serious, since he refused to go for so long that it almost burst. But the surgery went without complications and he barely spent four days in the hospital. A lot of people get appendicitis, i know it’s no big deal. But that’s when the flashbacks started. And then it just got worse.”

They were silent for a while. Adam played a little on his guitar, not singing or playing anything in specific, just messing around a bit as he was thinking. Even slowly started drawing again.

“You mentioned a song. You said his mother sung a song in the hospital.”

“Yeah. Haven't listened to it once since that day.”

“Lets start there. Lets sing it together. We’ll try to do it once a day, until it doesn't make you panic anymore. As for the rest, I think we should talk about and research cancer and leukaemia. Try to talk about it a lot, until it stops triggering you. Overexposing, you know.”

“I… I don’t know.”

“We can start with the song?”

“I…” What did he have to lose, by trying Adam’s approach. Avoiding things hadn't worked out so far. “Okay.”

“Okay. What’s the song called?”

“Depth over distance,”

“I know it. It’s a great song.”

“Yeah. I don’t know if I can do this Adam.” Even panicked, feeling his pulse raising again.

“That’s fine. I’ll just start and you can join in whenever you feel like it. Okay?”

Even just nodded, every fibre in his body willing him to shake his head instead.


“Depth over distance every time, my dear

And this tree of ours may grow tall in the woods

But it's the roots that will bind us here

To the ground”


Even felt like he was back in the hospital room all over again. He tried to focus on Adam’s hands, watching him play, trying to ground himself. He felt his pulse keep rising, his chest tightening.

 

“Depth over distance was all I asked of you

And I may be foolish to fall as I do

Still there's strength in the blindness you fear

If you're coming too

If you're coming too”


He could hear Marianne’s voice so clearly in his head. He could feel the pain grabbing hold of him. He could hear the beeping of the monitor. He could smell the antiseptic. He could feel Isak’s bony body in his arms-

He took a deep breath, looked at Adam and started singing. Softly at first, barley audible, then a little louder, feeling more confident that his voice wouldn't just crack and break.

“Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on”


He could feel the pain lessening slightly. He could breathe, barely. With every word, his breathing became easier. He felt the hospital room fading, Hyde park coming back into vision.

 

“Depth over distance was all I asked of you

And everybody round here's acting like a stone

Still there's things I'd do, darling, I'd go blind for you

If you let grow sometimes, let it grow sometimes, let it grow

Just let it grow sometimes

 

Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on”



He could do this. He could sing this song. It was after all, just a song. He could breathe. He he could control his panic. He picked up his drawing again. As he sang along, he continued on his drawing.

 

“Depth over distance every time, my dear,

And I may be foolish to fall as I do

Still there's strength in the blindness you fear

If you're coming too, hmm

If you're coming too

 

Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

To know this ride we're on

To know this ride we're on”


Him and Isak had been so young seven years ago. This song had hit him so hard back then. It still did. He was still young, but the song wasn't that impacting anymore. It was a really sad song, but it was only a song. And at 27 he was still young. He was young enough to start over. To start again. Finding out who he was. But he needed to get over the panic attacks and the nightmares and the feeling of despair and destruction. He needed to recover first, and then find himself.

Looking at Adam, who was smiling at him, he managed to smile sincerely back at him. He had found a friend, and even if their problems was different their goal was the same. To find themselves and figure out their lives.

“You wanna do it again?” Adam asked.


And this time, Even meant it when he nodded.

Chapter Text

ISAK

 

 



The days passed slowly. Isak went to chemo. Eva and Jonas worked. Some days the three of them went for walks with the dog together. Most days Isak went alone. One day he was out wandering around he decided to drop by his parents house. It was quite a walk but both Isak and Buddy enjoyed it.

It was a good day. Isak felt pretty good today, despite having lost a lot of weight and puking his guts out for days. The only thing he could keep down was a little coke and a dry cracker.


When he walked up to his old house he felt a wave of nostalgia. He remembered growing up here. He remembered moving out at 16. He remembered coming back home to tell his parents about the cancer the first time.

He petted Buddy on the head for comfort and pressed the doorbell.

“Isak!” His mother beamed at him, and hugged him. She seemed to be good right now. They had given her meds that worked a little better apparently. He was happy for her.

His father was home as well and they ate lunch together. Isak told them about the upcoming operation and saw his mother space out. She often did this. If life was hard she kind of zoned out. He was used to it by now, but he still hated it. He suddenly regretted coming here. He should have just called.

“Mom?”

No reply.

 

“Mom, It’s going to be fine. It’s a simple surgery. Don’t you worry.”

Still no reply. He exchanged looks with his father, and they both knew. Marianne would probably not answer any of them for the rest of the day. She might get sicker again now. Isak decided to leave, letting his father try to deal with it. He had gotten so much better at it over the years.

His father told him to call if he needed anything. Isak said he would.

As he left, he heard his mother singing softly in the kitchen, to low for him to hear. But he had a feeling he knew the song anyway.


————

 


Walking back home with a happy Buddy beside him, Isak suddenly started feeling panicked. Yes, he had prepared for days. He had written Even a letter, drawn up the documents. He had prepared. But he wasn't ready for this. Yes, he had lived these past years, but was he fine with dying at 25? Not really.

When he came home he started dinner to keep himself busy, knowing the other two would be home soon. He prepared some pasta and did a bit of cleaning around the kitchen. When Eva and Jonas arrived home, they ate pasta in silence, cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie and Isak enjoyed being cuddled again. He missed his husband. He missed Even so bad it hurt.

 

 

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I love you <3

 

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I love you too baby <3

 

 


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

1-10?

 

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

5 I think.

 

 


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

That’s good. Or at least better.

 

 


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Yeah. Getting there. Miss you though.

 

 


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Miss you too.

 




Going to bed that night Isak watched Jonas and Eva brush their teeth together. He smiled at them, their happiness. He knew things were far from perfect between them, but they were together again, and he was so happy for them.

Watching Jonas snuggling into the bed, he turned to Eva who was headed to the guest room. “Eva?”

“Yes?”

“Will you join us tonight? The bed is big enough for three and… And I just really need some cuddling.” he smiled sheepishly at her.

She beamed at him, threw her arms around him and hugged him tight. “I’m gonna cuddle you all night Isak Valtersen. I’m gonna cuddle you forever.”

Isak felt his eyes fill with tears. And he just let them fall, and collapsed in Eva’s arms. He was a sobbing mess in a matter of seconds and did barely register Eva and Jonas carrying him into bed and snuggling into him on each side. He fell asleep crying, not only because he had cancer and was sad and scared and missed his husband, but also because he had the absolute best friends in the entire world.

——-

 

Even if Isak hated chemo he enjoyed talking to Ian every time he went. They had become friends, sort of. Chemo-buddies. They had chemo together twice a week and they talked mostly about impersonal stuff to distance themselves from the situation they were in. Isak had learned that Ian was religious, and used to play football. And that he felt strongly about politics. Today Ian looked a little distracted as they talked.

“What’s on your mind?” Isak asked him, after Ian had spaced out for the sixth time.

“My next brain surgery is in three days. They want to try again.”

“Oh. So it has grown?”

“Yeah.”

“Shit, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks.”

They sat in silence for a little while after that.

“I’m having one too. Same day as you.” Isak said.

“What?”

“They have to remove the met in my head before it grows so much that it will affect my memory centre. The operation in it self may affect it too, so… what can I say.”

“I’m sorry Isak.”

“Yeah. So I guess our days suck equally bad?”

“I guess so.”

Isak eyed the other boy skeptically. He knew that Ian’s case was tougher than his own. Ian had a brain tumour who just kept coming back. Observing the other boy, he could see him struggling. Ian’s hand was cramping, moving without his consent. And Isak knew he got these sudden temper tantrums, also due to the tumour.

He really hoped they would be able to get the entire tumour this time, so that Ian could start healing, getting better. Get to live a life.

He thought about his own life. It was good. He had it good. He was almost done with school. He had a great job. He had a beautiful and wonderful husband. His life was good.

He knew Ian had none of that. And he felt so bad for the other boy.

“Good luck Ian.”

“Thanks, you too.”

“I mean it. I really hope it goes well for you this time, so you can get your life back.”

“What life?” Ian laughed bitterly.

“The life that’s waiting for you. Just imagine it, when you get better, you can do anything.”

“You really believe that?”

“I know that. I was there seven years ago. I beat cancer and I lived life to the fullest. You’re going to do that too.”

“I… Thank you.”

Isak smiled softly. “Don’t thank me. Just, don’t give up Ian. Keep fighting. Keep living.”

“You too Isak. You too.”


———-


Isak had been observing Jonas and Eva for several days. He could tell they were happy to be back together, but at the same time something was holding them both back, something was left unclear. He felt the tension every night when they got into bed. Eva had slept with them for the past few nights. But tonight she was working a nightshift, so after dinner the boys would be on their own.

The silence around the table was a little awkward. Maybe the tension was because Isak’s operation was tomorrow? But looking from Eva to Jonas, he figured it might be about something unrelated to himself. He decided to just ask Jonas later that night.

Eva left soon after dinner, and the boys stayed up watching some TV for a while. When Isak felt his eyes starting to drop, he announced he was going to bed. Jonas promised to join as soon as he had done the dishes.

Crawling into bed next to Jonas, he decided it was best to just ask, so he did. “What’s going on?”

“Going on?”

“Between you and Eva. You guys seem so in love, but there is this thing… I don’t know, it seems like it’s a wall between you sometimes. A shadow, making the blue sky a little grey.”

Jonas was quiet for a long time. Swallowed hard a couple of times. Isak could see him fighting the tears, and reached out to comfort his friend.

“I don’t deserve her.” Jonas whispered.

“Bullshit.”

“I don’t. I’m an asshole.”

“You’re not.”

Jonas sat up quickly “But i am!” And then, before Isak could react, he got out of the bed and walked quickly over to the drawers, pulling out a lighter and a joint, and seated himself on the windowsill. Isak slowly got out of bed, stretched his stiff joints, and followed him, sitting opposite Jonas and just watching his friend. Jonas was shaking, taking quick drags of the joint. Isak slowly reached out his hand and Jonas passed him the joint.

And then Jonas just told him about that day in the woods, what he had said and what Eva had said to him and Isak just listened. And the more he heard the more he realised how broken Jonas had become. How bad this was for him. This time, it was Jonas bearing the burden instead of Even. But the effect was the same. Isak realised he needed to stop it before it became to late.

“Jonas. Please don’t beat yourself up over this. I’m not mad. And I love you. And I understand why you thought and said that stuff about Even. This is hard. I know. And I’m sorry you have to be caught up in all this mess. But I love you for being here.” And I wish you didn't have to be…

And when the dark haired boy broke down in tears, Isak crawled over to him and held him tight, letting him cry. He needed to find a way to help Jonas. Knowing both Linn and Sana worked as therapists, he decided to call them the next day, before he went into surgery. Jonas needed help. Before it was too late.

————

“Are you ready for this?” Eva was sitting by his side. After Jonas’ breakdown last night they had dropped him of at Sana’s place on the way to the hospital. Jonas had protested some, but they could both see he was grateful for not having to come with them to the hospital.

“As ready as I can get I guess.”

“It will be fine Isak. I believe it, so should you.”

“Yeah… They're removing the one in my lung as well. If they succeed then I will be met free. No cancer.”

“That’s good.”

“But it will come back. With metastatic melanoma, it always comes back you know.”

“Might not. If the chemo works like it’s supposed to, it might not come back.”

“Yeah. Maybe.”

“Please have faith Isak.”

“I’m trying.”

“Still sure about not calling Even?”

“Positive. Send him that envelope if I don’t make it, okay?”

“Okay.”

 

“Or if I lose all my memories, or become a vegetable, or-“

“I will Isak. I promise.” Eva smiled softly at him, grabbed his hand. Isak tried to smile back, but it was halfhearted, and the tears started rolling down his face.

“I love you Eva.”

“I love you too Isak. See you on the other side, okay?”

“Okay.”


And then the nurse came to get him, and he tried to relax, and do what Eva had asked him to.

 

 

 

Have faith.



———


The operation went well. Isak woke up, feeling drowsy and like he had the worst hangover. His head was pounding, everything was spinning, his whole body hurt and he was sure he would throw up if he moved a muscle.

The doctor started by making him follow his finger with his eyes, lifting his arms and then answer the standard questions. “What’s your full name?”

“Isak Valtersen Næsheim.” Speaking turned out to be a little hard, but he could manage.

“Date of birth?”

“21 june 1999.”

“You know this girl beside you?”

“Eva Kviig Mohn.”

“You know where you are?”

“Ullevål Hospital.”

“The name of your husband?”

“Even Valtersen Næsheim.”

“I think your memory is just fine. We will check up on you regularly over the next 48 hours but this looks good.” Dr. Lunde said, looking pleased.

“Did you get it all? The tumour?” Isak had to know. He needed to know.

Dr. Lunde smiled so big, Isak knew it was good news even before he spoke. “We got both. We got it all.”


——


“Hey bro, Even had been calling your phone none stop the past three days, you want me to write him a text saying you worked back to back shifts or?” Jonas was sitting beside him, actually giving him a smile.

Isak didn’t know what Sana had told Jonas to make him change his attitude towards Even. He didn't care. He just appreciated it.

“I can call him.”

“You feel up for it?”

“Yeah. Well enough.”

Jonas handed him the phone and Isak dialled Even’s number. His husband answered almost immediately.

“I’ve been so worried, why haven't you picked up the phone?” was the first thing Even said. He sounded so worried, so stressed, Isak felt a little bad. He should have gotten Jonas to text every day, make him less worried at least.

“Sorry. I was at the hospital, long hours.” It wasn't exactly a lie, was it?

“Oh. You just didn't answer any texts or calls or anything, so I just.. I assumed the worst.” Even sounded like he might cry, and Isak couldn't handle that right now.

“Even. I’m sorry. I left my phone in my locker and then the battery ran out because I didn't take the charger with me from home again and.. I’m sorry honey. I’ll make sure to keep my phone on me from now on. How are you?”

“Better day by day.”

“That’s really good.”

“Yeah… Look, the reason I called was because me and Adam have gotten an opportunity. We have been offered to travel to Berlin. A gallery there wants to display some of my works and Adam has gotten a gig at a small concert hall. We’ll be staying for at least a few weeks.”

So Even was going to be away for a while longer. Isak felt both sad and happy. Sad because he obviously missed his husband, but glad that Even wouldn't come home and find him like this. At least not until he was completely fine.

“Oh.” he said, trying to sound neutral.

“You’re not mad?”

“Of course not Even. Go. Live your dream. Be happy. Just come back to me. Some day.”

“I will come back! Of course I will Isak.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

They talked a little more about life, but after a while Isak felt so exhausted, he made up a lie about having to go back to work and they said their goodbyes.

When he hung up the phone, he could see Jonas studying him, probably trying to figure out what to say. He just shook his head at his friend. “It’s fine Jonas. He sounded happy. He’s traveling to Berlin. He sounds better. More himself. More like Even. My Even.”

“It’s fine Isak. You can talk to me. I can take it.”

Isak bit his lip. Debating it. Jonas looked better today than he had a few days ago. Maybe Sana really helped him.

“I just. I miss Even. But I don’t want him to come home now, because I miss Even like he used to be before. It sounds horrible, and I love him regardless of how he is, but I miss those days when he was pure Even. When he was himself. When all we worried about was managing manic episodes and the depression following. When that was our only trouble, and he was just… himself between all that. I love him with all my heart, I do. I just want that Even back. The happy, smily, charismatic, charming Even. I miss my husband but I don’t want him to come home before he’s himself again. Did any of that make sense?”

“Yeah.” Jonas answered, no hesitation. “Sana told me a bunch of stuff, made my brain into mush and I cried the entire night, then went back to her the next day and did the whole thing one more time, which I didn't come to visit you sooner. But most importantly, she helped me se this situation from your side. And I’ve been a shitty friend Isak. And before you start protesting, Sana agreed. But I’ll try to be better. And maybe I’ll fuck up from time to time, but I’ve learned that I need to ask for help now, instead of just trying to run away from it. I still believe the girl in the woods was right about the ‘keep moving’ part, but I think at the same time, I need to talk to someone about how I feel. So I’ll keep going to talk to Sana and I’ll try to be a better friend.”


Isak smiled at Jonas, reached out for his friend and bent forward slowly. Jonas took the hint and carefully gave him a hug. He didn't think Jonas had been a bad friend, but he decided against arguing with him. He settled for hugging. Hugging seemed fine now.


——-

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I love you


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I love you, till kingdom come




FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I'm on my way, can't stop me now

And you can do the same, yeah



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I’m so proud of you Even. And I can’t believe you remember that song. We danced to that like five years ago.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

It was the only time you have ever danced with me. Ever. Of course I remember the song.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Maybe it’s our new song then.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Never. Ours will forever be “Til Kingdom Come”.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I know. I love you Even Valtersen Næsheim, til kingdom come <3


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I love you too, Isak Valtersen Næsheim, til kingdom come <3

——


Going back to chemo a week after the operation, he noticed Ian’s chair being empty. They could be on different schedules now, Ian could have been here earlier or he was coming in later, but something deep inside Isak told him that something was really wrong. He saw the look the nurses gave him when he stared at the empty chair and felt his gut drop. Taking deep breaths he mustered up the courage and asked the nurse about his friend.

“No-one told you? I assumed they had. Ian… Ian didn't make it thought the surgery. I’m sorry.”


Now there are days when I'm losing my faith

Because the man wasn't good he was great
He'd say "Music was the home for your pain"

And explained I was young, he would say

 

Take that rage, put it on a page

Take that page to the stage

Blow the roof off the place

I'm trying to make you proud

Do everything you did

I hope you're up there with God saying "That's my kid!"

 

 

 

——————-

Going to Ian’s funeral felt wrong but at the same time right. Isak hadn't known him that well, but they had shared a connection none the less. Eva came with him, Jonas said he needed more time to deal before he could be so close to the reality of cancer. Isak didn't mind. He would have gone alone, but he was glad Eva came with him. It helped having friend to share this with, lessened the pain he felt a little.

He had lost a friend. A companion. Someone who knew, who understood. The one person he had become reliant on in this whole mess.

After the funeral, he handed Eva the keys and asked her to drive back home. He turned on the stereo and chose a song. He could see her giving him a pitying look, but he ignored it. He wanted to wallow in this pain a little longer, before he had to pull himself together again.

It was only three more days before he was going in for scans to see if there were any new mets. Isak had a bad feeling there might be.


Step one, you say we need to talk

He walks, you say sit down, it's just a talk

He smiles politely back at you

You stare politely right on through

 

 

 

Some sort of window to your right

As he goes left, and you stay right

Between the lines of fear and blame

You begin to wonder why you came

 

 

 

Where did I go wrong?

I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

 

 

 

 

Let him know that you know best

Cause after all, you do know best

Try to slip past his defense

Without granting innocence

 

 

 

Lay down a list of what is wrong

The things you've told him all along

And pray to God he hears you

And I pray to God he hears you

 

 

Where did I go wrong?

I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

 

 

As he begins to raise his voice

You lower yours and grant him one last choice

Drive until you lose the road

Or break with the ones you've followed

 

 

 

He will do one of two things

He will admit to everything

Or he'll say he's just not the same

And you'll begin to wonder why you came

 

 

 

Where did I go wrong?

I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 


Who can say where the road goes

Where the day flows, only time

And who can say if your love grows

As your heart chose, only time





Going to Berlin was exciting. Both seeing a new city and knowing that someone there wanted them to come. People wanted to see Even’s art. They wanted to hear Adam’s music. It was exhilarating.

They met up with the people at the concert hall first, Even watching Adam being all excited and bouncing around while talking to the management. The concert was going to be the next night.

When they walked out of there, Even observed how happy Adam was, how passionate he was about this. He hoped he would ever manage to feel that way about his own art. He was feeling better day by day, and him and Adam working on his triggers helped some. He was just not there yet, where he could feel the pure joy in things.

Meeting up with the manager of the art gallery, Even felt nervous. She praised his works, his technique and told him his sketches were ‘simply magnificent’.


“Have you ever tried to paint instead of just sketch?” she asked him.

Even had though about it. He had debated it once of twice, but he wasn't sure he would be any good at it. “Well, yeah, but I’ve never tried it”.

“You should.” she smiled. “Just give it a try, because if you're as good at painting as you are at sketching, you could do big. Not only here in Berlin, I’m talking world wide.”

When their meeting was over, they agreed that the gallery would display Even’s sketches in three days, Adam dragged Even to the nearest store to buy paint and brushes and canvases.

“But what if I suck?” Even protested as they picked the items.

“Dude, you are amazing at drawing. I bet you would be even more amazing at painting! Give it a try tomorrow, we can find us a street corner and hang out for a few hours. What’s the harm in trying?”

So Even agreed, they bought the stuff and then went to their hotel for the night.



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Just arrived at our hotel here in Berlin. My gallery show is in three days!
Wish you could come and see it, but you’re probably busy at work.
Love you <3



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

That’s amazing baby! I wish I could come too, but I have a shift that night and an exam the morning after. Wish you the best of luck, I love you <3



The manager at the gallery had told him to get an Instagram account, telling him it would help spreading his art. Adam had been nagging him to do just that for weeks. This time he caved. After creating it and posting a picture of the first drawing he drew in Paris (he had taken pictures of all his drawings, so that he’d still ‘have’ them when he sold them), he texted Isak his username.

It took less than three minutes before his phone chimed. ‘@isakyaki started following you’.

 

‘isakyaki liked your photo’

 

Even smiled. He scrolled through Isak’s instagram, and found a few photos of the two of them, liking those. The last photo Isak had posted was of Buddy, four weeks ago, the dog sitting on the kitchen table looking ashamed with the caption ‘caught this naughty dogger sleeping on the kitchen table while I was out!’

Even couldn't help but laugh, and liked that photo too.


——-


The next morning Adam chose a street corner for them to stay on and Even tried to paint. At first it felt weird, but then it started flowing naturally, just like sketching. He tried to capture the buildings, the people, the light, the feelings. He lost himself in his work, and by the time he was finished the sun was starting to set and they had to leave to get ready for Adam’s concert.

“Dude, I told you! This is amazing!” Adam kept praising. Even looked at the painting, feeling proud of it. Snapping a photo, he posted this on Instagram as well. In just 24 hours he had gotten a 1000 followers. The manager at the art gallery had been right. This had been a good idea.


Going to Adam’s concert that night, Even felt happy. He felt like maybe he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Like he could get out of the mess his life had become. Like he could be somebody.

Looking at Adam living his dream, he thought back to his own. He wanted to be a movie director since he was a kid. And then his focus changed when Isak god sick. His dream was for Isak to survive the cancer, everything else stopped mattering. And when Isak was fine again, Even didn't move forward. He had been stuck in that moment for nearly seven years now, and it was time he found himself a new dream.

Adam had been right about painting. Sketches was something he was comfortable with. Painting wasn’t. But after pushing himself out of his comfort sone, he felt lighter somehow. Like he was free somehow.

Taking a mental picture of the concert in his head, as well as snapping one with his phone, he decided to try and paint some more when he got back to the hotel later.

After the concert Adam wanted to go out and get something to drink. Even joined him, and they found a cozy looking bar.

“How was I?” Adam asked, taking a big gulp of his beer.

“Amazing dude. It sounded so good. And the atmosphere was amazing. I actually wanted to try and paint it later, if you don’t mind.”

“Go for it.” Adam beamed. “So you decided to keep painting?”

“I’ll try it a few more times, then we’ll see.” Even smiled.

He checked his phone. Isak hadn't liked his last photo, or been active on any social medias in twelve hours now. Maybe he was sleeping. Even wasn't sure what the time was anyway.



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I miss you. How’s life at home?


————

It took four days before Isak replied.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I miss you too! I managed to forget my phone on a bench in the locker room at work (Again!) and they put it in the lost and found. Took a while before I thought to check there.

It’s fine here, mom’s a bit off again, but you know how she is. It will sort itself out. You mother misses you so call her please!

And how did your gallery show go?

I love you Even <3




Even laughed a bit at the lost phone part, felt a pang of guilt that Isak had to deal with his sick mother alone and smiled at the rest. He had been a little worried when Isak hadn't answered him for such a long time, but he knew his husband was busy at work and sometimes had a habit of losing his phone.



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I will call her, promise. Sorry about your mom.

The gallery went well, they actually sold all my sketches. Adam and the gallery manager talked me into painting instead, so I started doing that. It’s actually quite fun and I think some of them turned out fine. I’ll send you some photo’s of them!

I love you too Isak <3


 

————

 

Even woke up when it was still dark out. He peeked out of the window, seeing that it was almost sunset. He grabbed some of his stuff, left a note for Adam saying where he was going and went out to paint.

He found the spot he had planned, and started painting. It was soothing, the quiet of the streets, the chilly air. He loved it. He painted the sunset,  taking his time capturing the beauty.

And when he was finished, and there was daylight, he grabbed another canvas and turned around to paint the street, the town, the people rushing to work. An old lady shopping for flowers, a tabby cat sleeping on a windowsill in the shadows. A young woman on a bicycle.


He didn't even realise how long he had been sitting there until Adam tapped his shoulder carefully.

“Hey man, what’s up.” Even smiled.

Adam looked a little concerned, his brow furrowing. “It’s five pm Even. You've been here for twelve hours… And obviously painted four paintings. Have you even taken a break to eat?”

“Nah. It’s cool man, I was feeling inspirational.”

“Let’s bring the paintings back to our hotel and get something to eat, okay?”

“Yeah, sure, okay.”

And as they walked back, Even caught Adam looking at him funnily several times. He didn't quite understand why, but he shrugged it of. This was a good day.


They went to an okay restaurant, got something to eat and went out to a club. Adam was sceptical for some reason, wanting to go back to the hotel instead, but Even wanted to have fun. They ordered drinks and danced.




She asked me if I do this every day, I said often

Asked how many times she rode the wave, not so often

Bitches down to do it either way, often

Baby I can make that pussy rain, often

Often, often, girl I do this often

Make that pussy pop and do it how I want it

Often, often, girl I do this often

Make that pussy pop and do it how I want it

Often



Even was dancing with a girl. She looked a bit like Sonja, but her hair was longer and black. She kept rubbing up against him. He had no memory of ever starting to dance with her. She was just there. Rubbing her butt at him. It made him uncomfortable, but somehow he wasn't able to make his body stop dancing. He felt dizzy, and started stumbling away from her. She dragged him back in, and he started shaking his head. It made the entire room spin like a carousel. “Who are you?” he tried asking but the music was so loud she probably didn't hear him. She was laughing, and kept rubbing against him. He pushed her away firmly and forced his feet to cary him away.


 

Infatuated by the fame status

She wanna ride inside the G-Class Grain, matted

I come around, she leave that nigga like he ain't matter

That girl been drinkin' all day, need to change bladder

She's just happy that the crew's back in town

She 'bout to go downtown for a whole hour

If I had her, you can have her, man it don't matter

I'm never sour, I'm just smokin' somethin' much louder

 



Pushing his way through the dance floor, he searched for Adam. Searched for him everywhere. Getting more on more desperate as the seconds ticked by. He couldn't find him anywhere. What time was it? How long had they been here? And hadn't he just had one drink? Why was he so dizzy?


She asked me if I do this every day, I said often

Asked how many times she rode the wave, not so often

Bitches down to do it either way, often

Baby I can make that pussy rain, often

Often, often, girl I do this often

Make that pussy pop and do it how I want it

Often, often, girl I do this often

Make that pussy pop and do it how I want it

Often

 

 

 

He was confused, and decided to go outside, getting fresh air and maybe try to call Adam. The bass was pulsing inside the club. It filled his whole body. He suddenly felt nauseous.

Stepping out into the cold air, he looked for Adam again. No such luck. He steadied himself against the wall, taking a deep breath. The dizziness faded a little. What the fuck had happened in there?

“Hey man, you okay?” a friendly voice asked. Even looked up and saw a young man, probably Isak’s age, looking at him.

Even nodded slowly. “Just needed air.”

“Yeah. Me too.” The young man, who was red haired and quite short, reached out his hand. He had a joint. “Want some?” He asked.

Even just accepted it without thinking. In the back of his mind a tiny voice told him to stay away from the weed. He ignored it and just took a deep drag. Handing it back, he thanked the man.

“No worries. I’m Tom.”

“Even.”

“Nice to meet you Even. Here on vacation?”

“Something like that.” Even mumbled, while looking up and down the street for his friend. “How about you?” he asked, merely to be polite.

“Live a couple of blocks away. Wanna come home with me?”

Before Even had the chance to respond, tell Tom he was married, he felt someone pull on his arm. “Even! I’ve looked everywhere for you!” It was Adam. He looked so panicked, like something really bad had happened.

“I looked for you as well!” Even smiled at Adam. Why was the dark haired boy looking so worried? They were clubbing, being separated wasn't exactly a crisis. But on the other hand, he was confused about how long they had been separated. And how much he had to drink earlier.

“Can we go back? I think we’ve had enough.”

“Agreed.”

They walked back to the hotel, Adam having to support Even a few times as he was quite drunk.


———


They made it back to the hotel at last, crawling into their beds.


But when Adam fell asleep, Even couldn’t. He felt restless, he wanted to move around, do something. He grabbed his paint and started painting the room, Adam sleeping. He started painting other stuff in the room. But when he ran out of inspiration he figured he needed to go outside. Dropping the note this time since he was just going out for a quick trip, he pulled on his jacket and went out the door.


Roaming the streets for the perfect motive, Even felt lighter, happier than he had in a long time. He pulled out his phone to text Isak.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

The town is so beautiful by night, you should come see it one day!


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Why are you awake? It’s three am.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Why are you awake at three am?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Touché.



Even laughed, and suddenly his mind filled with pictures of Isak. He just sat down in a park, and started painting from his memory, mixing memory with what he saw in front of him.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Shadows settle on the place, that you left

Our minds are troubled by the emptiness

Destroy the middle, it's a waste of time

From the perfect start to the finish line


INCOMING CALL FROM ISAK

 


He ignored it, kept painting instead. It was perfect. The light, the air, the smell, the feelings. He was trying to paint it. The feelings! And the smells!


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Even? Are you okay?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I’m fine. Painting. Call you later



INCOMING CALL FROM ADAM

 



Even pushed ignore. He wanted to paint this painting first. He had to capture the smells! He muted his phone and started humming happily as he worked.


The sun rose and then set again. Even ran out of canvases. Getting up and ready to leave, gathering his things, he checked his phone.

ISAK
Missed calls (5)

ADAM
Missed calls (18)

ADAM
Text message (20)

He didn't bother checking a single one.

—-

 


He went back to the hotel, finding a hysteric Adam.

“Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick!”

“Why? What’s up?” Even looked at Adam in confusion. He didn't get the hysteria, he had only been out painting for a few hours, what was the problem?

“Even. You've been gone for two days.”

And then it hit him. He must have been having a manic episode. He could only remember bits and pieces of the last 48 hours. He could remember painting. Walking around. Had it really been 48 hours?

Even sat down. “Shit.”

And just like that, he felt the energy leave him, and all he wanted to do was to curl up in bed. Adam walked over to him, handed him a glass of water and his meds. “Even. Get into bed. Sleep. I will go out and get some food for you, and we’ll talk when you wake up.”

Even didn't answer. He just curled up on the bed.


———-


When he woke up again it was light outside. The room was bathed in sunlight. Adam was looking at his paintings. Even felt like his whole body was made of cement. He felt heavy and tried and he wanted to cry but he couldn’t.

He must have forgotten his meds at one point, but he couldn't remember. He didn't have the energy to even think about it now. He closed his eyes again, immediately fallen back asleep.

————

The next time he woke up it was dark. Adam was shaking his arm, handing him food. He didn't want it, but the other boy kept insisting. Even complied, just to end the nagging.

“You’ve painted twenty-five paintings in the last three days Even. I think you might have been manic.”

“I have.” Even just answered. He finished the food, curled back into the bed and slept some more.


——-


It took him an entire week to leave the hotel room again. He didn't know whether Adam had stayed with him the entire time or if he had been out in the streets, playing his guitar. It didn't matter. Even had just slept.

Getting out of bed, he waked into the shower and let the warm water wash away the past week. Disgusted with himself he scrubbed his skin harshly, until it turned red. He felt a little better exiting the shower, and when he walked out into the hotel room wrapped in just a towel he found Adam waiting for him.

“You feeling better?” the dark haired boy asked.

“Slightly.” Even said, grimacing as he found himself a pair of clean boxers and pulled them on. “Look man, I’m really sorry about this-“

“Don’t sweat it. It’s fine.” Adam waved it of. “I gave some of your paintings to the gallery and they sold them all. You've been asked to come display your work in Miami.”

“Miami? USA?” Even stopped in his tracks and just gaped at Adam.

“Yeah. I’ve got one gig over there too, and with all the money I have saved up now, I want to enjoy the beach. Maybe we can see Key West?”

“Ehm.” Even thought about it. He had been away for four months already. He was actually beginning to feel better. (Except for this past week and a half, but that was a permanent part of him. The bipolar part.) But then again, maybe he needed a few more months. Just to be sure. “Give me a minute.”

“Sure.”

Even pulled out his phone, calling Isak.

“Hey babe.” Isak answered, sounding cheerful.

“Hello handsome.”

“Berlin good? Haven't heard from you in over a week now. You never called me back.”

“Manic episode.”

“Yeah I figured. Wanna talk about it?” Isak sounded sad. Even wanted to smack himself.

“Didn’t run out naked this time. Just roamed the city and painted like a crazy person.”

“So…”

“So it’s wasn't that bad. Just some gaps in time I don’t remember.”

“Ah. Adam took care of you I hope?”

“Yes he did. I… Listen, I’ve been invited to display my work in Miami…”

“Yeah?” Isak sounded enthusiastic. Even felt himself letting out a breath he didn't knew he was holding.

“I know I have been away for four months already, but-“

“Even, go. Go to Miami!” Isak was laughing slightly. “Oh my god, you have to go, it’s a once in a lifetime chance!”

“Maybe I will make it as an artist over there.”

“I know you will, Even. You are wonderful. You just need to realise it yourself.”

“I love you Isak.”

“I love you too.”


After the phonecall with Isak, Even told Adam that he was in.

And four days later, they left Berlin, heading to another continent.

Even started to feel more like his old self, but at the same time not. He felt good. He felt like he was finally finding his place in the world. He felt he finally had a purpose, a meaning. He felt happy.


————


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Push me out to sea

On a little boat that you made

Out of the evergreen that you helped your father cut away

Leave me on the tracks

To wait until the morning train arrives

Don't you dare look back

Walk away

Catch up with the sunrise

 



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Who can say if your love grows

As your heart chose

Only time

And who can say where the road goes

Where the day flows, only time

 




FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I love you so much. I miss you so much. I’m sorry about being away so long.
I’m a shitty husband.





FROM ISAK TO EVEN

You are the best husband in the world!
I love you Even. Now and forever. I will wait for you til kingdom come.
I’ll always be yours. Forever. Just focus on getting better, making what you want of your life.
I’ll be here when you come back. I promise.


 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

I keep going to the river to pray

'Cause I need something that can wash all the pain

And at most I'm sleeping all these demons away

But your ghost, the ghost of you, it keeps me awake



Miami was just like he had imagined after looking at the pictures; A paradise. Even had visited Key West before, but they had never gotten around to rent a car and drive to Miami; too busy enjoying their holiday with days on the beach and nights in the sheaths.

 


Adam had insisted on them renting a Mustang. “Of course we need to drive an american muscle car Even, we’re in freakin’ Miami!” Even had just let him make the decisions, not having any preferences on which car they rented.

Driving to he hotel, the two boys decided to drive a bit around the town before heading over to their hotel to check in and unpack. Adam had arranged for all of Even’s paintings to be sent over to the gallery while Even was resting some more the last few days in Europe.

The hotel was amazing, the beds were huge and Even found himself looking forward to this stay. They were planning to stay here for a month. And since the gallery had said they wanted to have his works on display for a month and that they would take care of everything, he practically had a whole month of vacation. Adam was playing a few shows, but they didn't have any major plans.

“Can we drive down to see Key West?” Adam asked as they unpacked.

“Uhm.” Even said. “I kind of went there with Isak a few years ago…”

“Oh. We don’t have to go, I just-“

“I- Never mind, let’s go.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Yeah I want to.”

“Tomorrow then?”

“Sure.”

They finished unpacking, changed their clothes and decided to go out and get dinner. They down the “main” street on south beach, and found a nice restaurant. They sat down, ordered food and drinks.

“So. What do you want to do?” Adam asked him, taking a sip of his beer.

“Like, tonight?” Even answered.

“No. With your life. Have you figured it out yet?”

Even thought about it. Had he figured it out? He thought about the last few weeks. How peaceful he felt while drawing and painting. How happy he felt like when people appreciated his work. How proud he was of himself for not having any bad days in so many months. Yeah, he had a manic episode followed by a depressed period, but that was normal for him. He had ups and down. But at least he didn't have panic attacks and the dark hole sucking him in was gone. No. He wasn't fixed. He still feared that he would lose Isak. He still feared Isak becoming ill again. But the nightmares was gone. The feeling of drowning, of not being able to breathe, was gone.

He and Adam had talked a lot about Isak and his cancer, and cancer in general. People with cancer often got cancer again. He knew that, and before it was what had terrified him. The uncertainty of never knowing whether it would come back or not. It had made him panic just thinking about it before. Now, he still worried, but he knew that whatever happened, he felt more calm, more grounded. Like he could take it. It would probably mess him up, it would tear him apart and hurt like the last time, but he knew deep down that he could handle it better if it would ever happen again.

He wouldn't be okay with it. He could never be okay with Isak being sick or worse, dying. But he would be able to stand by him again, be better this time. With help he would probably be able to get over it afterwards, too. He wouldn't sink back into that hole he had been in a year ago.

Even looked back at Adam, trying to form his answer. He kept it short. “Yes.”

“Okay? Care to elaborate?”

“I just. I feel like I’m a different person than I was when I first started on this journey. I’m not “fixed”, but I feel better. I feel like I know who I am. I feel like I have found something to do with my life. I feel like I know who “Even” is.”

Adam just smiled at him. And Even realised that Adam hadn't asked the question because he was curious. Adam had already known. He had asked to make Even think. And he loved him for it.

“So, are you ready to go home, after the gallery show is over?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I am.”

———

They decided to forgo the clubbing and took a walk on the beach after dinner instead. They discussed their upcoming trip to Key West and decided to stay there for a few days, so that Even would get the chance to paint the sunset a few times and Adam to try and play some of his stuff on a local place there.

Going back to the hotel, Even felt lighter. Happier. He was going home soon, he was going to see his husband. Taking out his phone he sent Isak a text.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I love you <3


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I love you too <3
Miami living up to the hype?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Very. Going down to Key West tomorrow.
Going to paint the beautiful sunsets down there.
Wish it was you I was going with though.

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Paint one for me?
We’ll go again one day <3


————

Even let Adam drive down to Key West. He used his phone to snap a few photos on the road, of things he found interesting or pretty. Maybe he would paint them later. When they parked he snapped a photo of the car as well.

“What for?” Adam asked him.

Even shrugged “You love that car, so I figured I would paint it for you. Give you a parting gift when we both go home.”

“About that…” Adam smirked. “I’m coming with you to Norway. You promised to show me your hometown and stuff.”

Even grinned at his friend. “Yeah, well, then I’ll have lots of time to paint it then.”

“True.”

They found a hotel they could stay at for a few days and walked down to the beach. Even wanted to paint it both in sunlight and at sunset, so he begun working. Adam pulled out his guitar and sat down next to him, started playing. Some people who walked by tossed him a few coins, but mostly they were uninterrupted.

“'Cause, I'll be better, I'll be stronger

For the truth, I know takes longer

I've the cunning of the tiger and the

Wisdom of the trees. I won't be sad

Refuse the sorrow

I look forward tomorrow

I'll release my anger

'Cause I'm proud to be a dread

I'm kissing you

Our pride can stand a thousand trials

The strong will never fall

But watching stars without you

My soul cried. heaving heart is full of pain

Oh, oh, the aching

'Cause I'm kissing you, oh

I'm kissing, oh

Touch me deep, pure and true

Gift to me forever

'Cause I'm kissing you, oh

I'm kissing you”


The song brought back so many memories for Even. Good ones. About his and Isak’s first kiss. About how happy he had been when Isak kissed him back. About how lucky he felt when Isak looked at him so lovingly. About all the evenings spent in bed watching “Romeo and Juliet” and all the nights discussing the art behind it. Or, Even was telling Isak all the details he missed, mostly.

He stopped painting for a little while, just listening to Adam sing. The memories made him happy. It brought him back to the day after their first kiss. Their talk about parallel universes. How relaxed and happy they were that day. Laying in bed all day and enjoying each others company.

The song ended and he started painting again. And he thought, soon. He would soon see his beloved Isak again. They would be able to lay in bed for hours again. Things would be perfect. He could barely wait.

—————

 

 

“Horsebackriding?”

“Yes.”

“Really Adam? Horses?”

“It’s listed as a tourist-y thing to do!”

“But horses? They’re so big!”

“Shut up you big baby. They are regular sized horses and we’re going on a guided ride.”

“But-“

“We are going.” Adam said firmly. “We have to live a little, grab the day. Carpe diem and all that shit. So you will put away that panicked look and join me for a horsebackride. That’s final.”

“This better not kill me.”

It didn't kill him. I nearly killed his balls though, and he was stiff for three days after that, but it had been beautiful, seeing the island from horseback. Even had kept ranting about not wanting to die and Adam had just laughed at him. “They got you their nicest horse now relax.” Adam had apparently done this before, he looked so natural while doing it.


Their ride resulted in four different paintings, all from Even’s memory as he couldn’t take any pictures - he was too goddamn afraid of falling of that scary animal. (…who had turned out to be a really gentle and kind horse. Just not towards his balls.)

 

 


———-


When they came back to Miami a few days later, Adam was going to play a show. Even had promised to come and watch, because of course he would. He had been to every show so far, hadn't he?

Standing backstage this time, watching Adam out on that stage, playing and looking happy and sounding amazing, Even’s mind drifted back to Isak again. He had sent him a text a few days ago but gotten no reply. Which was fine, what he had sent didn't really require a reply anyway. It was just odd. He pulled out his phone and sent another text.

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Creator of my awful mind

You crossed the line this time

It's been a long time

Since the phone rang and it was you


The reply was almost instant


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I’m so sorry I haven't answered before, I just read the text while driving and then I got called into a consult and then… well. Things got hectic. I’m sorry. How are you?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Missing you.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Figured out when you're coming home?



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Hopefully soon. How are you?


And then he didn't get another reply. He checked his phone every two seconds the rest of the concert. No answer. When Adam left the stage, looking at him with a bright happy smile, Even pushed his phone into his pocket and they walked into the backstage room together. As Adam was excitedly telling Even about his nice save when he almost sang the lyrics wrong, someone knocked on the door, and three men in suits and a woman came in.

“Hello. Adam, right?” they all shook hands with him.

They were from a record company. A rather big one. They offered Adam a deal, to record with them. And if his first record sold well, they would offer him a bigger deal. Their studio was in New York. Adam agreed on the spot. Even was so incredibly happy for him.

When they walked back to the hotel later that night, Even brought it up.

“So you're not coming with me to Norway after all.”

“Maybe I can come visit after I’m done producing my record?”

“Of course you can-“

Even was cut short by his phone ringing. Recognising the number as the gallery’s number he answered, figured someone probably had made an offer on a painting or something.

“Even? I have some people from a gallery in New York here. They were wondering if you're willing to display some of your paintings at their gallery. They want to ship the paintings directly from us when our display is over to theirs. It means one or two months in New York. Are you in?”

Even was baffled. The coincidence was… a huge one. Adam getting a record deal in New York and a gallery in New York wanting to display Even’s works, both happening in one night. Even partly believed someone was pulling a joke or something. But he knew the people from the gallery was as serious as they come.

He thought about what to say. He was ready to go home. He wanted to go home. But if he made a name for himself in New York, it would be easier to be able to live of being a painter. It would give him a more solid career, more security in the future. He wanted to say yes, and he wanted to say no.

“Even, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I won’t tell you what to do, but I will advice you to say yes.” she pressed on.

“Yes.” he blurted out. Then he regretted it. And then he didn’t. He wanted this, he did. But two extra months without seeing Isak? He discussed a few details about it with the gallery manager, and when he hung up he told Adam about it.

“That’s awesome Even!” Adam responded as they entered the hotel room.

“But… Isak.” Even said.

“Isak said he would wait for you, right?”

“Yeah, but-“

“If you make it in New York you're pretty much guarantied to be able to paint for a living for the rest of your life. Think about it. If you make a name for yourself in New York you can paint for a living for the rest of your life, meaning your bipolar diagnose will never impact your work and you will be able to work like we have the past year: free to travel whenever you want. Free to decide your own hours. Free to be yourself.”

“I know.”

“Isak will understand. And missing you a little while longer will probably make him even happier when you finally come home.”

“Maybe. I hope so.”

“This is a good decision Even. You're making the right decision.”


He hoped Adam was right.


———


Days later, sitting on a cafe on Miami beach, Adam talked him into singing with him again. Even had been doing this several times over the last few months now. They moved out in the middle of the street, who was more like a mall of some sort, and Adam started playing



“I'm hurting, baby, I'm broken down

I need your loving, loving

I need it now

When I'm without you

I'm something weak

You got me begging, begging

I'm on my knees”



At one point this had been Even. Long before the cancer, he remember hearing this song, around the time when he still didn't know if Isak would ever love him, with all his faults. He remembered all those sleepless nights, after hearing Isak say the words. “I’ve decided that my life is better without mentally ill people in it.”

He knew now that Isak never meant it. That it was a side comment to get out of talking about his mother. That it was the words of a seventeen year old with a narrow perspective on the world.

 

 

“I don't wanna be needing your love

I just wanna be deep in your love

And it's killing me when you're away, ooh, baby,

'Cause I really don't care where you are

I just wanna be there where you are

And I gotta get one little taste”



When he finally had decided to go back to Isak after all, he had meant to tell him about his illness. He had so many opportunities. And then he had that episode. And he felt his world crash. He had been certain that Isak would leave him forever now.

But then he hadn’t.


“Your sugar

Yes, please

Won't you come and put it down on me?

I'm right here, 'cause I need

Little love, a little sympathy

Yeah, you show me good loving

Make it alright

Need a little sweetness in my life

Your sugar

Yes, please

Won't you come and put it down on me?”




Singing in front of people had made Even uncomfortable the first twenty or so times. But after a while he realised that his voice wasn't that bad and that people actually seemed to like him singing along with Adam. Their voices fit nicely. But he was nowhere as good a singer as Adam. And he would never be either. And that was okay. He was fine by singing for fun.

 

“My broken pieces

You pick them up

Don't leave me hanging, hanging

Come give me some

When I'm without ya

I'm so insecure

You are the one thing, one thing

I'm living for”


When he had started this journey a year ago, he had never expected to end up on South Beach, singing a Maroon 5 song with a curly haired Italian boy who not only had taken care of him while being manic and depressed, but helped him find his way in the world.

Thinking about it now, he wasn't really sure what he had expected when he had left Norway. He had just known he had to do something, anything. He couldn't keep going the way he had, and he couldn't force Isak to sign him into the psych ward because the dark hole swallowed him. He had needed to get out. That had been his only plan. But now he had gained so much more. A friend, a passion, a way to earn money. And most importantly he had found himself.

 

“I don't wanna be needing your love

I just wanna be deep in your love

And it's killing me when you're away, ooh, baby,

'Cause I really don't care where you are

I just wanna be there where you are

And I gotta get one little taste

 

Your sugar

Yes, please

Won't you come and put it down on me?

I'm right here,

'Cause I need

Little love, a little sympathy

Yeah, you show me good loving

Make it alright

Need a little sweetness in my life

Your sugar! (sugar!)

Yes, please (yes, please)

Won't you come and put it down on me?”



They had managed to gather themselves a bit of a crowd. Some cheered. Even looked at Adam. The other boy was on fire. Even imagined that the look on Adam’s face was similar to the one on his own when he was painting. Even felt like Adam looked right now, when he was painting.

But he also felt good singing. He felt good entertaining. He felt good about making an impact on other people. Okay, so maybe he would never become a movie director. But maybe he should try acting, singing, dancing? Alongside his painting.

 

“Yeah

I want that red velvet

I want that sugar sweet

Don't let nobody touch it

Unless that somebody's me

I gotta be your man

There ain't no other way

'Cause girl you're hotter than a southern California day”




As they finished, the crowd started cheering for more. Even held out his hand, asking Adam for the guitar. He had a song in mind. Adam just laughed and handed him it, without questioning it.

He really liked that about Adam. He was so causal and cool about everything. He just went with it, when Even had a whim. Sometimes Even would just stop abruptly and sit down to paint and Adam never questioned it. And the other way around, Adam would just pull out his guitar and start playing, forcing Even to stop somewhere random. Or do stuff like this; force Even to sing. Well, force wasn't needed anymore. He did it willingly now. He never would have done that a year ago.



“Steal my heart and hold my tongue.

I feel my time, my time has come.

Let me in, unlock the door.

I've never felt this way before.”


Adam didn't join him. He just sat down and watched him. Even raised his eyes in question, but Adam just shook his head and mouthed ‘keep going’. So he did.


“The wheels just keep on turning,

The drummer begins to drum,

I don't know which way I'm going,

I don't know which way I've come.”


This song reminded him about his wedding, with Isak. But also every good memory they had after that day. Every travel, every dinner, every moment wrapped up in each others arms.

Laying in bed at night, sharing thoughts and stories of their youth. Talking about the future and how much they loved each other.

 

“Hold my head inside your hands,

I need someone who understands.

I need someone, someone who hears,

For you, I've waited all these years.

 

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come.

Until my day, my day is done.

And say you'll come, and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.”


And Even knew, that no matter what he ended up doing in life, the most important thing would always be his marriage to Isak. Isak was the most important person in his life. And he was going home to him. He just needed to do this one last thing first. He needed to go to New York. And then he would return home. Home to his husband.

 

“In your tears and in your blood,

In your fire and in your flood,

I hear you laugh, I heard you sing,

"I wouldn't change a single thing."

 

The wheels just keep on turning,

The drummers begin to drum,

I don't know which way I'm going,

I don't know what I've become.

 

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come,

Until my days, my days are done.

Say you'll come and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.”


When he got a standing ovation, he realised that he had done this all by himself. There was probably around 70 people gathered around them. And he hadn't thought about it once, because he had been thinking about Isak.

Even looked over at Adam, who looked cheerful but at the same time thoughtful. He wanted to ask him about it, but the crowd demanded more, so Even handed the guitar back tot he other man and they did a few more songs together, before going back to their hotel.

As they walked back to their hotel, Even smoked a cigarette and Adam kept looking at him weirdly. After twenty minuted he couldn't help himself and just blurted out: “What?!”

“Nothing, I just…”

“Spit it out Adam.”

“Have you ever considered becoming a singer?”

Even raised his eyebrows. “No. Not really no.” he shook his head.

“You should. You're good.”

“I have never written a song in my entire life.” Even deadpanned. “And I don’t really like entertaining.”

“Do covers then. And you like singing with me don’t you? You liked singing right now?” Adam smiled.

“I’m not like you, I’m not a really great singer. Too make it you need to be a great singer.”

“But you are. When you sing songs that mean something to you, like Depth over distance and Til kingdom come, you bring out this emotion in your voice and I’m just so amazed. How have you never considered singing before?”

Even thought about it. Then he shrugged. “I never felt this strongly about any song before… before Isak. Isak brings out these feelings in me. I dunno.” He shrugged again.

They spent the rest of their walk in silence.

-



When they got back into their room Adam disappeared and started doing something on his computer. Probably sending emails or something. Even left him too it and found an empty canvas, started painting from his memory, trying to capture the feeling of the crowd they had played in front of earlier.

He didn't know how long he had been painting when he heard Adam walk up behind him.

“Even?”

“Yes?” he answered without turning around. He kept painting, he was almost finished and didn't want to get out of his “mojo.”

“I made some calls and sent some emails. And… And i wondered if you would like to do a song with me. On my record.”

Even turned around. “Adam… I… why?”

“Because you're a good singer.”

“But I’m not like you. I’m not a great singer.”

“Like I told you earlier; you are better than you think.” the other boy bit his lip. “I kind of recorded you playing that song today. Bits of it. And my producer has made some calls and they want you to record it. They have to get some legal work in order since it’s a cover, but they want to produce it, both as a single and as a track on my record.”

Even dropped his paintbrush in shock. Here he had been debating to maybe sing for fun, try and see if he could handle songwriting and maybe find some places with open-mic nights when he got back home. And now Adam was asking him to record a song. A song that would be produced and probably played on the radio. It would end up on Spotify. This was surreal.

“Even. Talk to me. Or blink. Or at least breathe.” he heard Adam telling him.

He hadn't realised he was sitting, open mouthed, unblinking and holding his breath.

“Sorry. Just… shock.”

“That’s okay. As long as you say yes.” Adam joked.

“I…” Even didn't really need to think about this. “Yes.”


————


The producers had wanted them to do another song on the record together. They had gotten suggestions on which songs they could get the rights to cover. Adam had suggested one of his own, but Even refused. He wanted Adam to take credit on all of those alone.

They discussed it on the plane to New York. Even had been listening to the songs a couple of times and one in particular had hit a spot with him. And he realised, the reason he probably did “til kingdom come” so well was because he felt something when he sung it. And he felt something when he listened to this song.

“Here.” he said, handing Adam his headset, to show him which song he wanted.

Adam only needed to listen for three seconds before he just nodded. They agreed.

 

We might kiss when we are alone

When nobody's watching

We might take it home

We might make out when nobody's there

It's not that we're scared

It's just that it's delicate

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've known

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to you

Why do you sing with me at all?

 

We might live like never before

When there's nothing to give

Well how can we ask for more

We might make love in some sacred place

The look on your face is delicate

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've known

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to you

Why do you sing with me at all?

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've known

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to you

Why do you sing with me at all?

Chapter Text

JONAS’S POV  

 






I refuse to look back thinking days were better

Just because they're younger days

I don't know what's 'round the corner

Way I feel right now I swear we'll never change

Back when we were kids

Swore we would never die

You and me were kids

Swear that we'll never die






Knowing that Isak wanted his company when he had to go in for scans, Jonas decided to go and talk to Sana the day before, getting her help to handle the situation. He wanted to be there for Isak, and he wanted to be able to actually be clear minded and be there for Isak, incase the news weren't great. They all hoped that the news would be good, but after talking with Eva and Sana he knew that he needed to be realistic.

The possibility of Isak recovering this fast was next to zero. The chance of him surviving at all was slim. He knew it. He forced himself to come to terms with it. He still hated it.

He still ran twice a day. He still screamed now and then. But most days Eva ran with him. Some days she screamed with him. And afterwards they talked about it. She let him get it all out and gave him a different perspective on the situation.

And so did Sana. Which was why he was standing outside her door now, ringing the bell.

Allan opened, and smiled at him “Hey Jonas. She’s in her office, just go on in.” Jonas thanked him, toed of his shoes and walked down the hall to Sana’s office. He opened the door and she turned to face him.

“I had a feeling you would come today.” she said, smiling softly.

“Yeah.” Jonas said, before sitting down in one of the chairs. Sana moved from there desk to the chair opposite of him. He pulled at his hair. “He wants me to come with him tomorrow.”


“Do you want to go with him?”


“Yes. I really do.”


“What’s stopping you?”


“I’m afraid I won’t be able to actually be there for him. If he gets bad news I… I don’t know how to support him because I don’t know if I can hold myself together if that happens and just-“


“Jonas.” Sana bent forward, looking him in the eye. “You can do this. You don’t have to do anything else but be there. And if you cry or break down, or say something stupid; it won’t matter. What matters is that you're there. You being there is what Isak needs. He doesn't need you to be perfectly fine at all times. He doesn't need you to tell him wise words or be a rock. He needs you to be by his side and he needs to know that you care. That’s all he needs.”


“Yeah, but-“


“Remember what we talked about? You can only be yourself. In every situation. It’s okay to feel things Jonas. It’s okay to express those feelings. Have you been talking to Eva?”

“Yes.”


“And she’s coming tomorrow?”


“Yeah, I think so.”


“Then talk to her, if it becomes to much. Just be there for Isak, hold his hand. Show him your feelings. Show him that you're there and that you will be there no matter what.”


Jonas bit his lip and looked carefully at his friend. “You think that will be enough?”


Sana smiled warmly. “It will be enough. You are enough Jonas. You are a great friend, and feeling pain and heartbreak and having difficulties to deal with your very best friend having cancer won’t make you a bad friend. It just makes you a person.”



———


Even though Sana didn't actually tell him that much, Jonas felt better leaving her house. Driving back home, he sang along to the radio, and suddenly a song he hadn't heard in years came on.


“Depth over distance every time, my dear,

And I may be foolish to fall as I do

Still there's strength in the blindness you fear

If you're coming too, hmm

If you're coming too"



He remembered the night in the hospital Marianne’s broken voice. The heartbreak. Had this been a few weeks ago, hearing the song would have broken him down. Now he managed to appreciate the beauty in it. Turn the memory around. It was a song from the night Isak beat cancer. Jonas decided to put it in his spotify list.

But he had to admit, he still shed a tear every time he heard it.

——-


“We are having a party tonight.” Eva and Isak announced as he walked in the door. He looked up at them, both wearing sweats, big grins on their faces. Isak wore a snapback. He always had something on his head these days, after having to shave off his hair again. Jonas had a feeling Isak did it to spare Jonas for the reminder. He made a mental note to tell Isak he didn't have to do that. Jonas could take it.

“A slumber party?”

“YES!” Eva squealed.

Jonas couldn't help but laugh and kiss her.

“Hello, what about me? All lonesome over here!” Isak joked, so Jonas laughed and gave him a quick peek on the lips, making them all burst out in a hysteric laughing fit.

“Oh my lord I can’t believe you did that!” Isak laughed, but his eyes sparkled with happiness and love. Jonas just hugged him tight, too filled with emotions to say something or do something else.

Noora, William, Magnus, Vilde and Mahdi came over, with blankets and pillows and snacks and movies. And they rearranged the living room, dragging all the madrases and stuff out there so they would be able to sleep in the same room, all of them. They watched sappy movies like The Notebook and The Vow, ordered pizza and watched The Avengers and Grown Ups.

It was a really good night.

And when Eva curled up at his side as they went to sleep, Jonas felt like maybe things would work out.



————-




“The scans are worse than we initially thought. There is a new one in your liver, but the most concerning part is these two in your brain.” the doctor pointed at the scan as he talked.

Jonas watched Isak. Isak didn't flinch. He didn't react at all. He just sat there, mutely. Like he had expected this, like he already knew it. Like it didn't bother him. Maybe a bit like he didn't even hear it.

Jonas just put an arm around Isak’s shoulder and pulled his friend close. Taking deep breaths he tried to ground himself. It worked for a few seconds, and then he was crying. And Eva, joining in on the hug from Isak’s other side started crying too. But Isak didn't cry. He remained unresponsive.

This meant more chemo, more radiation but worst of all; another brain surgery.

 

-

 


“Can we go for a drive?” Isak asked as they left the hospital. Jonas just nodded. Eva had to work a shift but she wished them a good drive and told them to be careful.

They drove in silence; Isak had turned of the stereo. Jonas thought about what the doctor had said. About the odds not being in their favour. About Isak’s case now labeled as terminal. About how Isak had a 5% chance of survival.

He heard Sana’s voice in his head, telling him how to react, telling him to breathe, to keep calm, to think about the positive sides to everything. He had a hard time doing that now. 5 fucking percent.

He turned on the radio. Isak didn't stop him.


When I was young I knew everything

And she a punk who rarely ever took advice

Now I'm guilt stricken,

Sobbing with my head on the floor

Stop a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice, no

 

 

I can't be held responsible

'Cause she was touching her face

I won't be held responsible

She fell in love in the first place

 

 

For the life of me I cannot remember

What made us think that we were wise and

We'd never compromise

For the life of me I cannot believe

We'd ever die for these sins

We were merely freshmen

 

 

My best friend took a week's

Vacation to forget her

His girl took a week's worth a

Valium and slept

Now he's guilt stricken sobbing with his

Head on the floor

Think somebody now and how he never really

Wept he says

 

 

I can't be held responsible

'Cause she was touching her face

I won't be held responsible

She fell in love in the first place

 

 

For the life of me I cannot remember

What made us think that we were wise and

We'd never compromise

For the life of me I cannot believe

We'd ever die for these sins

We were merely freshmen

 

 

We've tried to wash our hands of all of this

We never talk of our lacking relationships

And how we're guilt stricken sobbing with our

Heads on the floor

We fell through the ice when we tried not to

Slip, we'd say

 

 

I can't be held responsible

'Cause she was touching her face

And I won't be held responsible

She fell in love in the first place

 

 

For the life of me I cannot remember

What made us think that we were wise and

We'd never compromise

For the life of me I cannot believe

We'd ever die for these sins

We were merely freshmen

 

 

For the life of me I cannot remember

What made us think that we were wise and

We'd never compromise

For the life of me I cannot believe

We'd ever die for these sins

We were merely freshmen

 

 

We were merely freshmen

We were only freshmen

 


Jonas pulled over and stopped beside the road. Before Isak could ask him what he was doing he got out, slammed the door and started screaming. They were in the middle of nowhere, there where only trees in every direction. So he screamed at the trees. He screamed at the road. He screamed at the unfairness. He screamed at the world. He screamed at the universe. At God, if there even was one. He refused to believe that now. A God that just sat by idly and let Isak get cancer would be a cruel God. So he refused to believe, really. But he just screamed at God anyway. And then he kept screaming until he could feel the pain lessen in his chest. And then he got back into the car and pulled back on the road.


Isak slowly put a hand on his arm. Jonas didn't take his eyes of the road. He just whispered “I love you.” and by the squeeze Isak gave his arm, he knew the blond haired boy had heard him.



They drove for hours. Up into the mountains. Got out, took pictures. Stopped for food and fuel. And kept driving. And when they were both too tired to drive anymore, they parked by the road, laid down the seats and found some blankets. Then they locked the doors and went to sleep.


—-


They didn't arrive back home for another three days. They just kept going like that for three days. Returning home the first place they went was Lisa and Anders house.

The look on their faces told him they knew before Isak had to speak a single word. But after a quiet dinner he did anyway. He told them everything. And Jonas focused on not breaking down. Trying to  be there for Isak. Sana had kept telling him it was okay to break down. And he had broken down. For four days now. He needed to collect himself again. So he grabbed Isak’s hand as the other boy talked, and held it, to let him know he was there.

Lisa reacted as suspected. She broke down crying. Anders shed some tears as well. They talked the boys into staying the night. Jonas and Isak complied.

“Have you talked to Even in a while?” Isak asked Lisa. Jonas knew that Isak had very little contact with Even. Probably because it was easier that way.

“He’s enjoying Miami. They visited Key West a few days ago. His travel buddy, Adam, have been offered a record deal with a company in New York. A gallery there wanted to display some of Even’s paintings too. They're leaving in a few days. He sounds good Isak.” She hesitated. “I think it may be time to tell him.”

“No.”

“What if-“

“Then he will have had more time to get better before he comes home and finds out what happened.”

“Isak… Are you sure this is about Even getting better, or is it just you not wanting him here?” Anders asked. He didn't sound unhappy or anything. Just genuinely interested in the answer. Jonas had wanted to ask Isak the same thing a thousand times. He hadn't mustered up the courage.

“A combination.” Isak answered.

“How so?” Jonas heard himself asking. He knew he was treading thin ice, meddling in this. But it had just plopped out of him.

Isak turned to look at him, but where Jonas had expected anger he saw some form of relief. Isak needed to talk about this. He had probably wanted to talk about it for a while. But Jonas had kept refusing to listen. He hated himself for that.

“I want him here because I love him, which is the same reason I don’t want him here. We all saw how he ended up last time. How this broke him down. And I want him to be happy and live his life and don’t ever return to that place he was in before he left on this trip. I love him too much to be so selfish that I put him through this again.”


Jonas looked at his best friend. He suddenly felt like he understood Isak’s point of view. It wasn't just to spare Even’s feelings. It was to spare Isak’a own. Isak loved Even so much he couldn't bear to watch him fall apart again.


Jonas placed his arms around Isak and just pulled him into a hug, without saying anything else. There wasn't more to say. This time silence spoke louder than any words could.

-

 


When Jonas carried Isak into Even’s old bedroom later that night, Anders held the door open for him.

“Are you okay with this?” Jonas asked the older man. “Even’s your son and well… are you okay with this?”

“To be honest? No. Not really. I don’t like keeping my son in the dark. I have spoken to him a few times over the past weeks and he sounds like himself. He is our Even again, not just illness and darkness. Yes, he should keep getting therapy and medication, probably for the rest of his life, but… He is happy, healthy, and he really really loves Isak. And I can’t imagine how he will react if he comes back and Isak is… and he will find out he could have had ten more months with Isak but he spent them away from him.”

“I agree. I really agree. But I also realised why Isak doesn't want him here.”

“And why is that?”

“Because he loves that boy of yours so damn much he can’t bear to see him break down again.”

They were both silent for a while. Jonas thought about the past eight months. How badly he had acted. How much time he had wasted being angry and selfish and stupid.

“You’re right Jonas.” Anders said at last. “You know, the last time Isak was sick, you kind of kept in the background, leaving it up to Even and him. You seemed kind of angry at everyone, especially Even. But you were kids back then. Just kids. This time you have really stepped up, been there. You have grown so much, and I’m so proud of you. All of you.”

————

 

 

 

The morning after Jonas drove Isak home and made sure Eva kept him company before he went out running. He texted Julie, asking her to meet him. He needed a neutral perspective on the situation.

When they met up, they ended up sitting in silence for a while. It was a sunny day and quite warm. Jonas concentrated on breathing. Calm himself down.

And then he just started telling her. About the past week. About how bad the situation was now. About the chances. About how he finally had realised why Isak wanted to keep Even away.

“You know, I could have told you that the first day you told me that Isak didn't want to tell Even.”

“Why didn't you?”

“You weren't ready to hear it.”

And she was right. He hadn't been ready to hear it. But now he was. He was ready to be there for Isak. To the end, if it came to that.

“Where you there?” he asked her.

“There?”

“When your sister…”

“Oh.”

She didn't answer him for a while. That was fine. He just wanted to know, how it would feel like, if it ever came to that. He wanted to know what to prepare for. He needed to know.

It suddenly felt colder. Jonas considered apologising for asking and prepared to get up and leave.

“I was there.” she suddenly said. “It was like watching her fall asleep. Only the heart monitor told us that she wasn't just sleeping. That she was gone. And in that moment, time stood still. And I can’t really remember ever leaving the hospital. The whole week between that heart monitor telling us the truth and the funeral is kind of blank. I think I just locked myself into my room and cried and slept and blocked the world out.”


He didn't say anything. He didn't know how to answer her. He remember the night in the hospital room, nearly eight years ago, when they were just waiting for that machine to tell them Isak was gone. But it hadn’t. Isak had lived. Against all odds.


Jonas wasn't a believer of miracles, but he desperately wanted one right now. He knew he couldn't go through another night like that. He knew he couldn't take it.

“Jonas. I won’t lie to you. It will be absolute hell. You will feel pain beyond what you ever imagined. Just remember that it’s okay to break down. Remember that it’s okay to cry and to fall apart. Remember that something like this breaks the best of us.”

“I know. I keep trying to work on accepting my feelings, alongside accepting Isak’s choices.”

“I think you’ll make it Jonas. No matter which way this ends up going. Just remember to breathe, let your feelings out and accept Isak’s choices. You don't have to like them, just be his friend and accept him.”

“And keep moving?”

“Yeah. Just keep moving.”


————-


Isak wanted to talk to his parents. He wanted to tell them about the last scan. They both knew that it would break Marianne. Jonas just hoped that Terje would be able to soothe her.

Terje probably knew what it was about. Isak had called him and asked him to bring Marianne home from the hospital so that they could talk. She had become slightly better over the last few months. She would probably be coming home again in a few weeks. If the news of Isak’s illness didn't completely break her.

When he parked the car outside, Isak asked if they could sit there for a while longer. He wasn't ready just yet. Jonas just nodded. It was fine. “It will be fine.” he tried saying.

“No it won’t. But they need to know.” Isak said, and they sat in silence for a few minutes. Then he got out of the car. Jonas just followed.

No matter how many times they sat in Isak’s parents kitchen, it felt just as stiff and uncomfy and stressing. And he could see that Terje knew. And maybe Marianne too, on some deeper level, buried under her psychosis.

He watched their faces turn from knowing to devastated.

 

Marianne started screaming. Or, more like wailing. It was this haunting, desperate noise that spoke of true heartbreak.

 

It got so bad Isak had to go into the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and find a syringe and something to sedate her with. Seeing how badly Marianne reacted, Jonas knew that this was why Isak kept Even in the dark from the beginning. The reaction would have been the same, only it would be harder for Isak to cope with.

They left soon after.


—-

Laying on the floor of Isak’s and Even’s bedroom, they shared a joint that night. And another. And then another.

“Jonas?”

“Yeah?”

“You can talk to me. Tell me what you're thinking.”

“I can talk to someone else. I don’t want to burden you. You have enough on your plate.”

“I want you too. I want to know what you're thinking. I want you to trust me.”

“I do trust you.”

“Then talk to me.” Isak lighted up another joint, took a drag and passed it to Jonas.

Jonas accepted it and considered what to tell Isak. Some things? Everything? Nothing? He wanted to talk to Isak, but he didn't want to upset him. Isak had enough too be upset about now. But again, this might be one of their last times to talk. The doctor had told them that the tumours would probably start effecting Isak’s brain at some point.

“I’m terrified.” he stated. And when Isak didn't reply, he just passed him back the joint and continued. “I’m terrified of losing you. I’m terrified of the pain of losing you. I don’t know how I would recover from that. I don’t know how Eva would recover from that. After that day in the doctors office she hasn't spoken to me once if you're not in the room, you know? And most of all I am terrified of Even’s reaction when he comes back home and finds out that you went through all of this alone. I am not telling you to call him, I know you don’t want that. I know why you don't want that. But I feel so bad knowing you're alone in this, that you have to go through this without the person you love.”


They finished the joint in silence. Jonas waited for Isak to be mad or upset at Jonas’ selfishness. He waited for a reprimand that never came.

“I’ve got you.”

“What?”

“You said I’m going through this alone. But I’m not. I’ve got you. And Eva. And Lisa and Anders and all of our friends. I’m not alone. I have you.”

“But you don’t have your husband.”

More silence again. Maybe Jonas had pushed this conversation too far. Maybe he should have dropped it entirely. But at the same time it felt like a heavy weight was lifted from his chest as they spoke about it.

“I don’t need him.” he could hear Isak sigh, and they both turned their heads to look at each other. “I love Even with all my heart, but right now I need him to be happy. That’s what’s holding me together. I don’t need him to be here since I have you. And I know it’s a lot to put on you, and I’m sorry about that. I really appreciate you been here Jonas. Because you're exactly what I need right now. You support me when I need it and question my decisions when you think I make bad ones. And I need that.”

“Yeah? You don’t think I’m being intrusive and annoying, asking you about Even all the time?”

“No. Sometimes it annoys me. Sometimes I wish you could think and feel what I do. But mostly I like it, I like my thoughts being challenged. I love that you care about me. About both me and Even.”

“I do. I do care about you. I love you Isak. You're my best friend and I love you and I hate that this is happening too you and fuck.” Jonas sat up, taking a deep breath. Then he finally said it. The one thing he really wanted Isak to know:


“I wish it was me. I wish it was me instead of you.”


—————————


Isak insisted he wanted to spend the next day with Lisa and Anders. He insisted that Jonas should spend the day with Eva. He insisted he was fine.

Jonas just agreed, drove him over and when he came back, Eva had made them lunch and was waiting for him.

“Jonas?” she said as they poked at their food.

“Yeah?”

“Why do you keep pushing me away?”

“I’m not pushing you away.”

“You are."

And he had been. He knew why. He knew why he pushed her away. He needed her too much. He needed her so much he was afraid of it. He was afraid of turing into Even. Afraid that if he let himself starting to depend so much on Eva, it would break him apart if she left him. Because she eventually would. He just knew it, deep down. He wasn't good enough for her.

“My best friend is dying.”

As he said the words, he started crying. The tears streamed down his face. The more times he spoke the words, the harder the truth hit him; Isak was dying. It was real. This wasn't like last time, where a transplantation was the answer. This time there was brain surgery. And the risk of anything going wrong was high. The risk of Isak dying even if the surgery worked, was high.

“My best friend is dying.” he repeated, breaking down in sobs. And Eva just walked around the table and embraced him.



When the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can't replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

 

 

Her touch was soothing, but he couldn't stop crying and he couldn't stop thinking it, once he started. “You’re going to leave me.” he sobbed.

“What?” she sounded shocked.

“You’re going to leave me. Maybe not today or tomorrow or the next month. But eventually you will. And If Isak dies now, and I lose you too… I can’t handle it. I can’t handle any of this Eva! I CAN’T FUCKING HANDLE IT.”

She pulled away. Stayed silent until he looked up at her. He could see that she was crying as well. It made his heart twist in his chest.

“Jonas. I’m not leaving you. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

“Of course you will!”

“What makes you think that?”

“I’m not good enough or you.”

There is was. The ugly truth. He said it out loud and it made it even more real, even more true. He was a mess. He wasn't good enough for Eva. He just pulled away from her when things got hard. He had lied to her i the past. He had made her feel bad about herself. He was a bad person.

“Jonas. You're more than good enough for me.”

“No. I’m an asshole. I’m a selfish lying prick. Remember how I treated you during first year?”

“You were a kid. We were both kids. We’re not kids anymore. You have grown in to a wonderful, kind, caring and strong person. Yes, this thing with Isak has fucked you up. But it has fucked us all up. You are a wonderful person and I love you Jonas.”

He looked at her. He tried to read her facial expression, trying to see if this was true or not. She looked sincere. He wanted to believe her. He really wanted to.

“I love you too, but-“

“What do I have to say to make you believe me Jonas? I love you, and I think you're wonderful.”

“I’m not. And you're gonna stop thinking I’m wonderful after a while and then you will leave me and then I will be all alone and-“

“Marry me.”

Jonas just stared at her, mouth open in shock. “What?” he managed.

“Marry me. I’m serious Jonas. I love you, I always have and I always will. If you're so afraid of me leaving, then marry me.”

Jonas didn't know what to say. He was in shock. He wanted to say yes, but instead, what came out was “marriage didn't stop Even from leaving Isak.”

“But we’re not Even and Isak. We’re Jonas and Eva. And we will make it.”




Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

 

 

 


Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

ISAK’S POV

 

 

 

Yeah when there'll just be silence

And when life will be over

Don't think you will forgive you

 

 



Isak woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of his phone ringing. He could hear Jonas groan beside him, annoyed at the loud sound. Isak scrambled out of bed to find it. Maybe it was Even. Or his mother. But when he found it, the display flashed “Dad”.

Confused, he answered the call. “Dad?”

“Isak? You need to come to the hospital.”

“Why?”

“Just… Just please come Isak.” His dad was crying. His dad never cried.

“What’s going on dad.” Isak demanded. “Are you hurt?”

“Just… Just come.” his dad whispered, before he hung up.

Isak’s mind was raising. Had his mother gotten another episode? Was his father sick? What was going on? He ran around the room, trying to find some clothes.

“Isak, what’s going on?” Jonas’ sleepy voice stopped his train of thoughts.

“Dad called. Asked me to come to the hospital.” He hesitated for a few seconds. “Can you drive me?” He felt dizzy, getting chemo the day before had weakened him to the point where he wasn't even sure if he could walk down to the car.

Jonas just scrambled out of bed, already pulling on his pants. “Of course.”

——

The drive to the hospital had never been slower. Isak was panicking. What could possibly had happened? He could feel himself breathing faster and faster, his hands shaking and he was cold sweating. Why did the drive take such a long time?

When Jonas parked he practically bolted from the car, running in to the emergency room, the nurses telling him where to go before he even asked. He found his father pacing back and forwards in front of a closed door.

“Dad.” he said. It looked like his father didn't hear him. He looked lost in his own mind. Isak reached out a hand, touched his father’s arm. His father turned to look at him, and before he knew it, Isak found himself wrapped up in a tight hug while his father sobbed. Actually sobbed.


Isak was afraid now. Something was awfully wrong. He was afraid to ask his father the question. But then he did anyway. He had to know. “Dad what happened?” 

And then there was a silence. A moment where time stood still. Seconds and minutes and Isak wanted it to last an eternity.

But you don’t ever get eternity. You get day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Second by second. And then reality kicks you in the face with full force, tearing you down and letting you know that nothing is infinite and nothing is ever fair.

“She’s dead.”

And just like that, the moment was over. And time just wouldn't stop running.


————


She had hung herself. In the middle of the night she had just gotten out of bed, quietly going into the living room and tied a rope too an old hook in the ceiling. His father had woken up as he heard her kick the chair away but that had been to late. She was already gone, her neck snapped, she died instantly.

They were offered emergency grief counselling. Isak asked them to call in Sana and Linn. Linn took care of his father while Sana and Jonas sat with him. He didn't say anything. They didn't either for a while.

Jonas got him some water and a toast. He drank the water and refused the toast.

“Why didn't I see this coming?” he asked, hours later.

“Because she was never depressed, Isak.” Sana answered calmly.

“Then why would she-“

“You have terminal cancer. Again. You told her you need another brain surgery. She was in an unstable period. The meds might have played with her mind. Any number of things could have happened. Just one thing Isak.” she grabbed his arm, made him meet her eyes. “This was not your fault and don't you ever dare think that.”


“She was mentally ill. I know that. I know it’s no-one’s fault. I just can’t believe there was no signs.” he buried his face in his hands. “My dad. My dad is going to blame himself for this. Shit.”

He bolted out of the chair, getting a little dizzy as he did. “FUCK!” he screamed, starting to pace the floor. He wanted to yell and yell and yell but then the nurses would come running and sedate him and he didn't want that. So he kept it in, at least for now.

He turned to Sana, throwing his arms up in frustration. “How the fuck am I supposed to react? I don’t even know how to react!”

“Maybe you should call Even.” Jonas suddenly said.

Isak looked at him, feeling himself bursting. He couldn't hold it back anymore. He’d had it. “CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT EVEN? I DON’T WANT HIM HERE, I DON’T NEED HIM HERE, I DON’T WANT TO CALL HIM HOW FUCKING HARD IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND?!”

“Isak, I just-“

“YOU JUST WHAT? THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING BETTER THAN ME JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A FUCKING BRAIN TUMOUR? GUESS WHAT, I CAN STILL THINK. I DON’T WANT MY FUCKING CRAZY HUSBAND HERE ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE, AND GUESS FUCKING WHAT JONAS?!? I. AM. GOING. TO. FUCKING. DIE! ACCEPT IT OR GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! JUST GET OUT!!!!!”

“Isak-“

“GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!”


He didn't realise he had been screaming until the door flung open and Eva came in alone with two other nurses, looking worried. He ignored them, still looking at Jonas.

Jonas looked shocked,and a little like a kicked puppy. He didn't say a single word. He just stared back at Isak for a few seconds, before he got up from his chair and bolted from the room.

“I guess that’s one way you could react.” Sana said calmly.

Eva just walked over and hugged him. He tried to protest at first, but then he fell against her chest, crying. And then the crying turned into sobbing. And then the world suddenly went black..


———



Waking up in a hospital bed, his head throbbing and his whole body screaming in pain, Isak started hyperventilating. What was going on? Why was he here?

Suddenly he remembered his father’s call. His mother was dead. He had screamed at Jonas. He looked around. There were IV’s in his arms. He was in a hospital gown.

“Hey, you're awake.” he heard a voice. Eva. She was sitting next to him. She grabbed his hand. “You had a seizure. They needed to operate on the mets in your head right away. Since Even’s not here they had to make your dad sign the forms. He lost it after that. He’s been sedated and in the psych ward since then, sleeping almost 22 hours a day.”


“How… How long since…”


“You’ve been out 8 days. They… They were afraid you wouldn't wake up at all. They managed to get it all. You’re… My god Isak, you were so lucky!” Isak snorted at that. He doubted luck had anything to do with it. The neurosurgeon on staff was one of the best in his field. He was the reason Isak lived. This time.

Eight days. Which meant that Even would probably be worried about him. He just prayed his husband hadn't been so worried that he was returning home for this. He looked at Eva.

“Even?”

“I told him you had the flu. That you had first worked a 48hours shift and got the flu from a patient. He sounded worried but I talked him out of coming home. Him and Adam are in New York. Something about him having his works displayed at a gallery and Adam getting a record deal. I think they have made it over there, Isak.”

“Yeah. I know. They made it weeks ago. I just told him to continue working over there.”


“He’s still not fine?”



“I think he is. But I don’t want him to come home to this.”


“Isak. I think you might need him now. I think it’s time for you to call him.”


“No.”



“Isak.”



“No.” his voice was firmer this time.


“Okay.”


“There is an envelope on my desk back home. I need you to bring it here. I need to write an address on it and then I need you to mail it.”

“Okay.”

———

 

“I don't even know if I believe

Everything you're trying to say to me

 

So open up my eyes

Tell me I'm alive

This is never gonna go our way”

 

Going to his mother’s funeral was the hardest thing Isak had ever done. He couldn't help but feel like it was his fault. Sana and Eva and Linn and all of his friends told him it wasn’t. He hadn't spoken to Jonas since before his surgery, since that day.

The reason for him feeling this was his fault, was his visit with his father a few days after waking up from the surgery. His father have been heavily drugged. But he had stared at Isak for a few seconds. And he had said six simple words. Six words that were enough to break Isak completely.

“Why didn't you see this coming?”


Due to Isak and Terje both being hospitalised, they had postponed the funeral until they could both attend. His father hadn't spoken a word to him since that day. He refused to look at him now.


The priest held a beautiful speech about Marianne. It was the same priest who had wed Even and Isak all those years ago. The same priest who had comforted Marianne countless times over the years. It made Isak felt a tiny bit better, knowing that this wasn't just a routine service for her. That it meant something.

When it was time for speeches, Isak let his father go first.

“I wasn't always the best husband to Marianne. At one point I was a shitty husband and a shitty father. And she deserved so much better.

Marianne was a great person. Like us all, she had flaws, but she was a wonderful mother and a beautiful woman, inside and out. I lost so much time with her, being ignorant and stupid and refusing to take care of her when she got sick.

But the last six years I tried to make up for it. I tried so hard Marianne and I’m so sorry I failed you.”

At the last sentence, his eyes flickered to meet Isak’s. And Isak understood the message. His father hadn't meant what he had said a week ago. He hadn't really meant it was Isak’s fault. But Isak still felt that way.

“Marianne had a lot of favourite songs, but I wanted to play one of my own. We listened to it when we were on a road trip once, the whole family, the summer before she started getting really sick. It’s a happy memory and I want remember her as she was that day. Happy and enjoying life and having fun.”

 



Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes

But it's the only thing that I know

When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes

It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

 

We keep this love in a photograph

We made these memories for ourselves

Where our eyes are never closing

Hearts are never broken

And time's forever frozen still

 

So you can keep me

Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans

Holding me closer 'til our eyes meet

You won't ever be alone, wait for me to come home


When Terje stepped down, Isak slowly got to his feet. He walked up to the podium with heavy legs. He had never done anything harder than this in his entire life. And he realised; his friends and his husband and everyone he cared about would end up feeling like this. Maybe not next week or next month or next year but it was inevitably. He would die and he would leave people behind, and they would feel like this.

He took a deep breath to steady himself. He hadn't written a speech; he simply couldn’t. But he had to say something. He had to try at least.

“My mother was a wonderful woman. And I loved her so very much. Ever since I was a little kid, she would be there for me. No matter what. Despite her religious beliefs she accepted me being gay. She accepted my husband. She stood by my side as I got married. And she stood by my side as I had cancer.

But in the end, she couldn't take it anymore. And I don’t blame her for that. She had a hard life. Life is though when you're mentally ill, not only because of the illness itself but because of the prejudice. A lot of people don’t understand how someone can look healthy but be sick. And for a while, I was one of those people. But then I met my husband, and got a hard life lesson from a friend of mine-“ he smiled at Magnus “about how I had been acting. Prejudice is just ignorance. And I luckily learned that quickly enough to get more time with my wonderful mother.”


“But that’s just it. Time. It’s a horrible thing no-one can escape. We can never get enough of it. I really wish I could stop time now. That I could go back. Just for another minute with my mother. But I can’t.”


“Mom had this favourite song, that I started singing to her when she was sick, and that she sung to me when I got cancer. So I decided that I would sing it for her now, one last time.”

Just as he walked over to the guitar standing next to the podium, Jonas joined him. “I got you.” Jonas said, grabbing the guitar and Isak just nodded.

 


“Depth over distance every time, my dear

And this tree of ours may grow tall in the woods

But it's the roots that will bind us here

To the ground

 

Depth over distance was all I asked of you

And I may be foolish to fall as I do

Still there's strength in the blindness you fear

If you're coming too

If you're coming too

 

Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

 

Depth over distance was all I asked of you

And everybody round here's acting like a stone

Still there's things I'd do, darling, I'd go blind for you

If you let grow sometimes, let it grow sometimes, let it grow

Just let it grow sometimes

 

Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

 

Depth over distance every time, my dear,

And I may be foolish to fall as I do

Still there's strength in the blindness you fear

If you're coming too, hmm

If you're coming too

 

Hold on, wait until that lone sun

Breaks from the arms of the Lord

Hold on, though we may be too young

To know this ride we're on

To know this ride we're on

To know this ride we're on”

 

————


Watching them put his mother’s casket down into the ground was even harder than the service itself. His father just grabbed hold of him, and then they held onto each other, sobbing. His sister came over and joined in the hug.


She hadn't spoken in the funeral, but Isak didn't care. He just cared that she was there. “Hold on, wait until that lone sun, Breaks from the arms of the Lord, Hold on, though we may be too young, To know this ride we're on.” she whispered quietly. Isak just grabbed onto her harder and kept sobbing.

 

 

 

———

 

 

Sitting on his father’s couch later, watching people walk around and talk about his mother, Isak felt empty. Jonas came and sat beside him, but they didn't speak. Isak just appreciated the company. They would need to talk soon. But just not now. Later.

When Lea came over, Jonas left without a word, knowing the siblings needed to talk.

“I’m going back home in three days.” Lea said.

Isak looked at her in shock. “You can’t.”

“Isak, I live in England. I study there. I can’t just stay here.”

Isak could believe this. He couldn't believe her. She had escaped the house before him, living at a friends house until she was done with high school and then she had fled to England. She hadn't even once reached out last time Isak was sick, even after their dad had told her.

“You have to. You have to take care of dad, until he is okay on his own.”

“You can do that.”

“No I can’t.”

“Why not?”

He looked at her like she was stupid. He felt like she was. But she had managed to get into a good school and live on her own without any support, so he knew she wasn't stupid. His sister was just fucking selfish. She had always been, ever since they were younger.

“Because I’m fucking dying!”

They had attracted a few stares, but Isak didn't care. He couldn't believe how selfish Lea was now and he just had to call her out on it. He was done keeping quiet about it. He had, for years, for his mother’s sake. But now she was gone.

“They removed all your tumours.”

“Lea. Fuck. I just keep getting cancer, can’t you see that? I. Am. Going. To. Die. Maybe not next week, but the cancer will just keep coming back. You need to be here for dad.”

“But my studies-“

“Can wait. Postpone them a year. I don’t care. You should have fucking been here last time I got sick to help out with mom, but you just fled then too. This time you have to stay. Stop being a selfish bitch!”

“You’re being unfair now Isak. You have your degree, you can’t blame me for wanting to get mine.”

“I can’t believe you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re such a selfish twat. I have cancer. Mom just died. And all you think about is yourself and getting a fucking useless degree in acting. You're not gonna make it anyway, so what is the fucking point Lea! You will never ever be good enough, you know that right? Grow the fuck up and take some responsibility. I’m tired of your shit!” he realised he was yelling again, and that everyone was staring at them, so he got up, and stormed out of the house.

Okay, so maybe he had been a little harsh. But his sister was selfish and naive and he just couldn't deal with her right now.

Outside he found Eva and Jonas on the stairs, Jonas smoking a joint and Eva holding his hand. When they saw Isak, Jonas just opened his arms and Isak fell down into his lap. Eva grabbed Isak’s hand with her free hand, and Jonas passed him he joint.

And then they sat there, until people started leaving. When they entered the house to help tidying up, they found Lea already doing it.

Isak didn't speak a single word to her. They left soon after.

And Lea got on that flight and left three days later.


————-


Laying on his bedroom floor, Jonas and him smoking and Eva just keeping them company, they were all staring at the ceiling. It was a week after the funeral. Isak had just hung up new photos there. It was photos of Even’s paintings, and a photo taken of them two years after they got married. Since Isak was so sick when they got married, they took the wedding photos two years later, when he looked like a person again.

“What was in that envelope I mailed for you?” Eva asked.

“Just some documents for Even.”

“What kind of documents?”

“When does your shift start?” he asked, switching the subject.

She let him. “Around three. Are you going back to work if your scan comes out clean?” He was going in to have new scans in about two weeks.

“I don’t know. They keep telling me that my job is waiting for me. That I can keep specialising me too. Just pick up where I left of.”

“You don’t sound like you want to.”

“Right now I don’t know what I want. Other than laying here and smoking this joint.”

“We can do that.” Jonas smiled, passing it back to Isak.

“Maybe some pizza and a movie tonight?” Isak suggested.

—————-


His scans came back clean. He was currently in remission. It could still return. But it was looking promising. The doctors told him it was a miracle. He knew they were right. He had never even dreamt of this happening. But at the same time, he couldn't let himself be happy - the cancer would just come back anyway. Still, right now, things were okay. At least better than they had been a month ago. And being a cancer patient had taught Isak one thing; Take all the good days you can get. You’ll never know if it will be your last.

 

When the three of them walked out of the hospital, Isak proposed a drive.

“Where are we going?” Jonas asked, as they got in.

“Anywhere.” Isak replied, smiling for the first time since his mother’s death. Turning the radio up as they pulled out of the parking lot, he opened the window, held his arm out and closed his eyes.

They could go anywhere.

 

 

 

Yeah, you never said a word

You didn't send me no letter

Don't think I could forgive you

 

See our world is slowly dying

I'm not wasting no more time

Don't think I could believe you

 

Yeah, our hands will get more wrinkled

And our hair will be grey

Don't think I could forgive you

 

And see the children are starving

And their houses were destroyed

Don't think they could forgive you

 

Hey, when seas will cover lands

And when men will be no more

Don't think you can forgive you

 

Yeah when there'll just be silence

And when life will be over

Don't think you will forgive you

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

EVEN’S POV

 


You miss the feeling when you step outside

And then your mind comes all untied

And then you open up your eyes

And you don't feel lonely





Even walked down the streets of New York. He had almost refused to believe it. But here he was. Even Valtersen Næsheim. Artist and musician. Two things he had never even considered before he started traveling nearly a year ago.

 

 

The gallery had such a positive response on his paintings they wanted to keep them for as long as he would let them. He just said they could keep them there until they got sold and agreed on letting them have 10% of every painting they sold.

The the record studio things had gone very well. They had recorded both “Til Kingdom Come” and “Delicate” last week, and when he had listened to the tracks, he had to admit they sounded really good.

Adam’s producer wanted him to think about producing a full record. It could be only covers if he wanted to. He had promised to think about it. Adam pressed on, said he should do it. That he should at least record Depth over distance. Even just answered he would think about it again. He wanted to go home to his husband as fast as possible. He had been away long enough.



He felt his phone buzz in his pocket and pulled it out to check.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Could you send me the address you're staying at? I need to mail you something.




Even frowned. Why would Isak need to send him anything in the mail? Why not an email or just call him, what was this? He quickly typed back.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Mail me something? Why?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Address, please?


Even furrowed his brow at the strange request, and sent Isak the address. Isak was never this… shortly worded and demanding. Even had talked to him four hours ago, and he had been happy and laughing. They hadn't spoken for over a week because Isak had been sick. The flu. Even told him to drink some tea and relax. This was so weird. He considered calling his husband and asking what was up. Then he looked at the clock, realising he was late for lunch with Adam and the producer. Again. Shit.

He stuffed his phone back into his pocket and speed up his walking. He could call later.


——-


The gallery kept selling his paintings, sometimes two or three a day, and Even couldn't believe it when he heard how much money he was getting. He nearly fainted then and there. Texting Isak about it, he expected an eager reply. He got none.


Not until two days later, and it was short.

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

That’s great honey



When Even called Isak later, he sounded tired but happy. They talked about the art gallery, about how well it went and Isak sounded genuinely happy for him.

After hanging up, Even realised he was truly happy himself. He had been fine for months now. He never got any panic attack anymore. He enjoyed life. He felt good. He and Adam went out every now and then, going clubbing and Even helping Adam score chicks.

He went to all of Adam’s concerts and came with him from time to time in the studio. Life was good.  Even was good. Even was feeling like himself again. Well, not exactly. He felt like he had figured out who he was, who he wanted to be. He had found his place in the world, his meaning. He needed to stay in New York for a few more months; wanting to paint a few more paintings, a few more sights he needed to see. And he was still debating that record-deal.

“Adam?”

“Yeah?”

“How much more time do you need to finish your record?”

“Give or take six weeks?”

“Still want to see Norway?”

“Absolutely.” Adam sat up on the couch, passing Even the joint they were sharing. “Does this mean you're ready to go home?”

“Yeah. I have accomplished my goal. And I’m ready to go back to my husband. He has been waiting way too long now.”

“How long has it been mate? I feel like it’s a lifetime ago since I met you in Paris.”

“Ten months. We’ve been travelling for ten months.”

“Time to go home then?”

“Time to go home.”


——

 

The next day he was sitting in a sofa at the record studio, watching Adam record one of his songs. The producer sat down next to him.

“Thought about it yet?”

“A bit. I think that, however tempting your offer is, I need to go back home. I have been away so long.”

“I had a feeling you would say that.”

“Yeah. Sorry. Your offer was really kind though.”

“Kind? Hell kid, you would have done me a great favour if you’d said yes.”

“How so?”

“You have magic. Whenever you sing a song you feel something about, it’s mesmerising to listen. Those tracks you did record? They're so good I’m sure we’re talking making it to the top of the billboard list.”

“You’re joking.”

“I wish. Which is why I’m making you another offer. It’s a unlimited one. If you ever decide to change your mind, if you ever want to do it; give me a call. I want to produce a record with you. I think we could be talking big money.”

“You already have Adam.”

“Yes, and he’s great. But haven't you ever heard the saying; the more the merrier?”

Even laughed a little. “Yeah… I have, actually.”

The producer stretched out his hand, and Even shook it. “Call me Even. I mean it.”

“Maybe I will.”

“I hope so.”




“He keeps asking me to do that record.” Even told Adam as they were walking back to the apartment they were renting that night.

“Yes, I told you! You have to do it!”

“I have to go home to my husband Adam.”

“And you will!”

“I want to go now.”

“You’ve been away for ten months, what’s a few more weeks? You already have a list of songs you do well, all you need to do is record them. Come on Even!”

“I will keep thinking about it.”

“I hate that answer.”

“I know”

“Then give me another one.”

“Nope.”

“Ass.”

“Dork.”

“Wanna go and grab something to eat?”

“It’s nearly one am.”

“We’re in the city that never sleeps!”

It was true. They were. So they went to a nice looking place and got something to eat. And then they wandered around the streets, Even snapping some photos both of the scenery and of Adam. The one’s of Adam he posted on instagram and tagged the other boy, much to his annoyance. Adam did the same thing to Even, but he just laughed about it.

Even spent the next few days painting, and occasionally texting with Isak.



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

This city is so full of life. Just like you. I miss you <3


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Dork. I miss you too.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I’m planning to come home soon. Just have a few more things to wrap up here.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

What sorts?



Even decided that texting about the record-deal stuff was to much work and called instead.

“Hey,” Isak’s voice was sleepy. Or sad. He guessed sleepy. It was late in Norway. Or early He had lost track of the time difference.

“Hey babe.”

“Why you calling?”

“Wanted to hear your beautiful voice.” Even cooed. “And I didn't have the patience to text all that I wanted to say.”

“Hah. Knew there was an actual reason for your call.”

“So you don’t believe that I would call you just to hear your voice?”

“I knew you would.”

“I love you Isak.”

“I love you too Even. Now tell me.”

“The record company producing Adam’s music wants to produce one with me as well.”

“What?”

“Just cover songs. I don’t write stuff. But they have heard me sing thanks to the dork I’m traveling with-“ Adam gave him a finger from where he was laying on the couch at that “and they want me to record some songs and produce them.”

“Even… That’s really amazing.”

“Yeah. But I want to come home to you now, I miss you like crazy.”

“I miss you too Even! But this is a wonderful opportunity! We have made it this far, haven't we? What’s a few more weeks right?”

“You’re right. I’ll consider it. I just really wanna come home to you.”

“Not only consider it Even. Just do it. Life is now. Live it.”

“You’re very wise to be so young Isak.”

“I’m only two years younger than you.”

“I know. I love you Isak Valtersen. Now get some sleep.”

“Næsheim. You forgot to add Næsheim.”

“I did.” Even laughed. “I love you Isak Valtersen Næsheim. Now go to sleep and we’ll talk soon.”

“Okay. I love you too.”

 

 

 

——-

Even got back to their apartment a few days later after being outside to paint all day, and walked into the living room. He saw Adam laying on the couch, watching some TV show. The other boy looked tired, but since he played a concert last night, Even didn't blame him. “You got something in the mail, it’s on the kitchen table.” Adam said, his voice a little scratchy.

Even walked into the kitchen, finding a massive convolute. He recognised the handwriting on the front as Isak’s. Curious about what it could be he tore it open. He pulled out a bunch of documents and a letter. He couldn't help but notice the title on the first document. Separation agreement.


Opening the letter with shaking hands, he couldn't for the life of him figure out what had happened. He had talked with Isak on the phone two days ago and everything seemed just fine. Isak would have sent these papers by then, so why? What was going on?


Dear Even.

My love. My partner. My husband. I am so sorry. But I have to send you these papers. These past months apart have made me realise one thing; I am the reason you were sick. Look at how good your life is now, without me! I know you love me and I really do love you. But you being around me makes you sick. You're gonna worry for the rest of your life, about me dying. And it will break down everything you have built up these past ten months if you come back to me.

I love you with all my heart. I love you so bad it hurts. I would give you anything and everything I have to offer. Which is why I am now doing this. I am setting you free. You need to do this final thing, you need to move on completely, so you can live happily and enjoy life.

Maybe one day in a different life things will be different, and we will meet again.

Until then, just live minute by minute. Remember that I’ll love you til Kingdom Come.


Yours forever, Isak.



Even fell to his knees. Eyes scanning the documents he saw that Isak had already signed them. There was a return address to a lawyer who Even was supposed to mail the papers back to when he signed them. That was all he managed to grasp before his head started spinning and the tears started pressing. Adam came rushing in, asking what was wrong. His voice sounded far away despite him standing right next to Even. He obviously saw the papers because he then said ‘oh shit’, and before he knew it Even was being pulled into a hug so tight he could barely breathe. But he couldn't anyway, so he didn't care.

Isak didn't want him anymore. He was probably tired of waiting for him. He probably wanted to move on. Even didn't know what to do. So he cried into Adam’s arms for hours. When he finally gathered himself it was the morning. Sunlight was filling the room.

 

 



Even got to his feet, walked into the bathroom, took a long shower. He had been so selfish, being away this long. He was better weeks ago. Hell, he had been better before leaving Europe. These past few months had been to enjoy life mostly. He should have just gone home and been with his husband. Soon to be ex-husband.

He got dressed, walked back into the kitchen, finding Adam making breakfast. They didn't talk about it. Adam didn't ask him about it. Even was glad. He sat down and stared at the food in front of him. He realised he couldn't eat. He tried to take a small sip of orange juice. It tasted awful. He excused himself and went into his bedroom.

He couldn't breathe properly. It wasn't like before. It wasn't like the panic attacks. It was just this pain filling his chest. He wanted to scream. He wanted to throw things. He wanted to jump on the next flight home and find Isak, ask him why. But he felt like he already knew. Isak had been waiting nearly a year. And now he had decided he didn't want to wait any longer.

Even pulled out his phone, debating to call Isak, asking him why. He knew there could be multiple reasons. He just wanted to know which one. But he couldn’t, he didn't trust his voice.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Why?



He never got an answer.

 






I woke up this morning

And I heard the news

I know the pain of a heartbreak

I don't have answers

And neither do you

I know the pain of a heartbreak

 

This isn't easy

This isn't clear

And you don't need Jesus

Til you're here

Then confusion and the doubts you had

Up and walk away

They walk away

When a heart breaks

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 



EVA’S POV

 

 

 

 



She had been serious that day, asking Jonas to marry her. And he had said yes. But they had agreed to wait. They had been rushing into their relationship, and wanted to stay engaged for a while. They had time. With Isak in remission, they suddenly felt like they had all the time in the world.

They didn't tell Isak right away. They waited until a few weeks after his mother’s funeral. When they told him he looked slightly happy. As happy as a boy who lost his mother could look.

Jonas had asked him to be his best man. Isak had relied “If I live that long.”

Eva knew it was his way of coping. But it still hurt, hearing him speak like that. Seeing him everyday, the spark of life completely gone from his eyes. She hated it.

She had finally gotten him to tell her about the documents.

“Separation agreement.”

“What?! WHY?” She hadn't meant to squeal. But she couldn't stop herself. She had accepted him not wanting Even to come back while he was sick (well, barely, she hated lying to Even) but this, this was beyond anything she could ever have imagined. Isak hadn't once said he wanted to divorce Even or that he felt their relationship wasn't working anymore.

“Because I can’t put him through me becoming sick again.”

“Isak. You're in remission.”

“I can get cancer again.”

“He can take it.”

“What if he can’t?” There was a sudden spark of anger in Isak’s voice. At least that was an emotion, Eva concluded.

“Then we’ll deal with it.”

“No. I don’t want to put him through that.”

“But you want to push him out of your life, just never see him again?”

“Easier that way.”

“Isak… what is the real reason for this?”

He fell silent for a long while. Eva just let him. She had climbed into bed with him and slowly pulled him into an embrace now. He let her, a bit tensely at first, but then he relaxed.

She studied him. He was pale, thin, had no hair, but he didn't look as bad as he had with the leukaemia. Probably because he had been healthier and stronger before he got sick this time. And he had scars, two of them, on his head. So he mostly wore a hat of some sort all the time. But not right now. She stroke her hand over his head. He tensed again, before relaxing. She hated how uncomfortable Isak had become with being touched and being close to them.

“The real reason is that… I’m afraid Eva. I can’t go through something like what happened to mom again. I can’t take that happening to Even. I love him so so much, that I can’t watch him sink back into that black hole and eventually….” he trailed of, but she could fill the blank herself.

“What if he’s strong enough now? What if he can take it? What if he wants to be here?”

“That may be. But I think he’s better of without me. And he may not realise it at first, but after a while he will. And it will be better for him.”

“And how about you?”

“I’ll be fine. I have you guys.” he turned his head, and for the first time since Marianne’s death, she saw a small, but genuine smile on his face. And in the blink of a second, it was gone again.

——

Eva was torn between Jonas and Isak. They hadn't actually spoken since that day in the hospital, when Isak had screamed at Jonas. Jonas had comforted Isak at Mariannes funeral, they had exchanged a few words whenever Eva was around, but they weren't on speaking terms. And Eva just didn't know what to do.

“Jonas. You and Isak need to talk.”

“You heard him at the hospital. My opinions are just annoying him.”

“He had just lost his mother. He had a brain tumour. Talk to him. Let go of your opinions for a few minutes and just be his friend. He needs you.”

“Needs me?” Jonas snorted a little. Then he stayed silent for a few minutes, deep in thought. Eva just waited for him to say anything else. He did. “And besides I think.. After that night my opinions changed. I won't bring up Even again. I know he want’s to protect him from this. I just… I just blurted it out and it was fucking stupid.”

Eva bit her lip. “He sent Even separations papers.”

“What?” Jonas gaped at her.

“Mhm.”

“Why? Why would he do that?”

“Because he believes he will just keep getting cancer and that Even will spiral down the same road Marianne did.”

“Fuck.”

“Like I said. Please talk to him. He needs you. He needs his best friend.”

“But what if he doesn't want to talk to me?”

 

“I think he might will. He is just scared that you're mad about the screaming in the hospital.”

“Of course I’m not mad.”

“I know that. You have to make sure he knows too.”

“But whenever you tell him I’m coming over he bolts out of the house Eva.”

She thought about it. “How about if I invite him to go to the cabin and you just meet us there?”

“He might be mad at you.”

“Maybe. But I doubt it.”


——


“Cabin? Why?” Isak asked, suspiciously. She had just walked into his room on a Friday right after he returned from the hospital and announced that they were going to the cabin. She jingled the keys and said he had 15 minuted to pack.

“Because all you do is sulk in this room and we need to get out.”

He looked like he was about to protest for a few seconds, before he shrugged. “Fine.”

“What did the doctors say?”

“That I’m fine. Or at least no more tumours. Which they mean is the definition of fine.”

“And you disagree?” She crossed her arms and watched him start packing.

“No. I mean, it’s good that they're gone. No more chemo and stuff. But I know they will come back. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but they will eventually return. And I just don’t want to get my hopes up, you know?”

Eva knew what he was saying was realistic. He sounded like the toned down version of a doctor. But then again, he was a doctor. And she also knew he would very likely get cancer again. She just didn't like thinking about it.

“I know you're right. But at the same time I want you to keep living, keep moving forwards. You may not get any more cancer and even if you do, you can’t just live your life waiting for the next catastrophe to hit. You have to figure out what you want to do with your life now. You're healthy again. You can do whatever you want. Right now, in this moment, you're fine. You have to grab that opportunity.”


He turned to her, finished packing. “I know. Which is why I’m going back to work next week. Just two hours a day until I feel strong enough for more. And I will find myself an apartment if you want me to move out of here.”

Eva saw the sad look on his face as he mentioned the apartment. “Of course not. You can stay forever Isak.”

“Don’t promise that. You and your soon to be husband might want to fill this house with kids you know.” she was almost sure she had heard a giggle.

“Then we’ll just adopt you as one of the kids.” she joked, before pulling him into a hug. “Now lets go.” she realised him again. “We’re taking your car, mine keeps breaking down.”

“That’s because it’s junk… hey, does that mean I have to let you drive MY car?”

“Shut up you dork. You know I can drive.”

He just laughed and handed her the keys, and she smiled. She liked hearing him laugh. It was nice. He looked better. She just felt like he wouldn't ever be happy again, not without Even. She could see it in his eyes. They never sparkled anymore.

——-

When they arrived at the cabin she started unpacking. She and Jonas had agreed that he would come later, giving them time to settle in first. She had packed a boombox and hooked up her cellphone to it, put on music.

 


The club isn't the best place to find a lover

So the bar is where I go

Me and my friends at the table doing shots

Drinking fast and then we talk slow

Come over and start up a conversation with just me

And trust me I'll give it a chance now

Take my hand, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox

And then we start to dance, and now I'm singing like

 

 

Isak peeked out of his room, looking at her and she started dancing, motioning for him to come over. He just shook his head, but she went over, grabbed his hand and dragged him with her, forcing him to join.

 

 

Girl, you know I want your love

Your love was handmade for somebody like me

Come on now, follow my lead

I may be crazy, don't mind me

Say, boy, let's not talk too much

Grab on my waist and put that body on me

Come on now, follow my lead

Come, come on now, follow my lead

 

 

When he finally accepted it and danced with her, Eva felt a small victory. He was smiling, laughing, shaking his hips and looked like he was having fun. Mission accomplished.

 

I'm in love with the shape of you

We push and pull like a magnet do

Although my heart is falling too

I'm in love with your body

And last night you were in my room

And now my bedsheets smell like you

Every day discovering something brand new

I'm in love with your body

Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I

I'm in love with your body

Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I

I'm in love with your body

Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I

I'm in love with your body

Every day discovering something brand new

I'm in love with the shape of you




There was a short knock on the door and then Jonas was standing there, a bag slung over his shoulder. Eva could see Isak tensing up. Maybe this had been a mistake. Maybe she was pushing it, by doing this.

But then Isak walked over to Jonas and threw his arms around the other boy. Jonas dropped his bag and hugged the skinny boy back, his eyes telling Eva ‘thank you’. She just nodded and turned down the music.

Then she excused herself, telling them she would make some food. The boys didn't answer, just kept hugging. She could swear she heard Isak sniffling.

When she came back into the living room with a big bowl of pasta and some dishes, they were seated on the couch, Isak curled up in Jonas’ lap. Isak appeared to have been crying, confirming her suspicion about the sniffling. Eva gave Jonas a questioning look, asking with her eyes if they had talked. Jonas shook his head slightly.

They ate in silence, and then Eva cleared the table. Jonas appeared in the kitchen door.

“We’re going out for a walk.”

She just nodded at him, smiling. “I love you.”

“You too.” he said quietly. They he left. She heard them leave the cabin, and started washing the dishes.


She never figured out exactly what the two boys had been saying that night. She could see them from the cabin window, sitting down by the water and talking. But in the end, when they came back, things were back to normal. As normal as they can be when one of them had just fought cancer for a second time and the other one was mentally scarred by it.

They all shared one bed that night, Isak in the middle. She thought back to that night all those months ago when Isak had asked her to come and join them in bed.

This time though, things weren't as sad. No-one was dying. But looking at Isak, he looked like he was. Maybe not from cancer, but definitely from heartbreak.

She raised her eyes, met Jonas’. She could see him thinking the same thing. He could also see him shaking his head. Mentioning Even was something they shouldn't do. And they both knew it.


———


The next morning they let Isak sleep in. Leaving a note, Eva and Jonas went for a morning-run.

“He needs Even.” Jonas said, when they had been running for a while.

“I know.”

“But we can’t force him.”

“I know.”

“We just have to wait for him to realise it himself.”

“I know.”

 

“You only have one response to everything today.”

“I-“ she laughed, bitterly. “Yeah. Sorry.”

“It’s fine. How are you?”

“Fine. Worried about Isak. You?”

“Fine. Happy to be here with you. And worried about Isak.”

They ran in silence for a while longer. It was really beautiful here. Eva stopped and snapped a photo of the view, and then another of Jonas. He laughed a little. Then they kept running.

“Have Even returned the papers?”

“No.”

“Have he called you?”

“No. You?”

“No.”

“He messaged Isak. At least once. I think he tried calling a few times too. Isak have blocked his number.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. I just wish Even would come home and try to talk to Isak. I’m sure he would change his mind then.”

“Me too. But we promised Isak to not call Even. And we’re keeping that promise.”

Eva looked at her boyfriend. Correction; fiancee. And she was so proud of him. He had become so much stronger this past year. He had started talking about his feelings. Mostly with Sana, but sometimes with her. He had stopped blaming everyone. He had stopped pressuring Isak about Even. He had stopped resenting Even. He had grown. And she just loved him more and more every day.

“Race you back?” she proposed, and he accepted the challenge.

-


They even managed to both shower and cook breakfast before Isak got out of bed. He looked sleepy, but happy. “Something smells nice.”

“Bacon and eggs.”

“Yum.”

They sat down, ate breakfast and talked about going for a drive. When they came back they ate lunch, played some games and watched some movies. And at least for that weekend, life was good.

—-

Isak returning to work seemed to be hard on him. Eva watched him look exhausted after only two days. When she spoke to his boss (who happened to be her boss too) about it, he said it was normal. Isak was in bad shape and it would take time to get back into the daily routine.

She talked Isak into only working every other day instead, until he felt better. He agreed with her. He just worried about not being able to pay her rent. She said he didn't have to.

And whenever the topic rose, she always refused him. She told him to focus on getting better, and taking care of himself. And it looked like he did. But his eyes still told her that he was just as sad.



———-


Coming home one day she found Isak sitting by the kitchen table, looking at some papers, his brow furrowed. She walked into the kitchen slowly. “Hey.”

His head snapped up, and he nodded at her. “Hey.”

“Did Even…” she trailed off.

He shook his head. “No. No it’s from my dad’s lawyer. It’s a copy of his will.”

“Oh? Why would he send you that.”

“Because he changed it. He have apparently left everything to me.”

“Everything? He wrote Lea out entirely?”

“Looks like it.”

“Wow. I. Isak, I don’t know what to say.”

“Me either. I guess I should go and talk to him about it.”

“Yeah. Wanna go today?”

“No. Just came from work. Have to take a nap. Maybe this weekend. His always better during the weekends anyway.”

Isak’s father had become much like his mother. There, but not there. Only he wasn't the same kind of ill she had been. He had become deeply depressed. He was on heavy antidepressants and went to a therapist three times a week.

But most days he just ignored the world and didn't even respond when they visited. Eva knew it broke Isak to see his father like that. Like a ghost of his past self. Like a ghost of his mother.

“Okay.” she answered. “Shall I wake you for dinner in a few hours?”

“Yes, please.” he got up, let the documents lay. He started walking, hesitated. “You don’t have to care for me if it’s any trouble to you Eva. I can start to help around the house again.”

“If I want you to do something I will ask, I promise. Now get some rest.” She smiled at him, and after watching him go she moved over to look at the documents on the table.

Terje had really left everything to Isak. And it was a lot too, if the numbers were right. Eva had known that Isak’s dad was pretty well of, but this well of? She hadn't known that.

And also, she found the timing for this a bit suspicious. Was Terje suicidal? Since he had decided to do this now.

She pulled out her phone and texted Sana, telling the other girl briefly about what happened and asking if she could go pay Terje a visit. Just to make sure.


An hour later she got a text.


FROM SANA TO EVA

He’s fine. Well, he’s not good, but he doesn't show any signs of wanting to die.
He just said that anything can happen and he wanted to make sure Isak got everything.
He wanted to make sure Isak know how much he loved him.
He’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.



When Eva went down to wake Isak up for dinner, she showed him the text. She could see him relax and almost smile a bit. “Thank you.” he just said, and she responded by hugging him, before telling him to get his butt out of bed and come eat dinner with her.


——


“What kind of wedding do you want?” she asked Jonas one night as they laid in bed. He was staying over more and more now. They talked about putting his place up for sale. Or rent it out. They hadn't decided. And he had his own room at Eva’s place. Some nights he slept there. Some nights he slept next to Eva. Most nights he slept next to Isak. Just to make sure the other boy was fine.

Eva knew Jonas still worried about Isak. About the cancer but also about the decision he had made, filing for separation. They often talked about it with each other. They never talked to Isak about it.

“Small. Kind of like Even and Isak’s. How about you?” he answered, looking up from his phone.

“Same.”

“We need to find ourselves a song. Our song.”

 

“Let me guess; cliche is not an option?” she giggled.

“Maybe. Depends on which one.” He pulled her close and kissed her cheek.

“My heart will go on?”

Jonas frowned and pulled away from her. “You hate that song. Like, despise.”


“I know. I’m messing with you.” she smirked, then got an idea. It had been her favourite song for a long time when she was younger. “How about Chasing cars?”

“Yes.” he said, immediately. Then he kissed her, and put the song on.

 

 

We'll do it all

Everything

On our own

 

We don't need

Anything

Or anyone

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

I don't quite know

How to say

How I feel

 

Those three words

Are said too much

They're not enough

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

Forget what we're told

Before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life

 

Let's waste time

Chasing cars

Around our heads

 

I need your grace

To remind me

To find my own

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

Forget what we're told

Before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life

 

All that I am

All that I ever was

Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

 

I don't know where

Confused about how as well

Just know that these things will never change for us at all

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

EVEN’S POV

 

 

 

 

Even didn't look at the papers for another six weeks. Not because of any panic attacks or anything like that coming back.

 

He got a manic episode. He remembered mostly flashes of it, and from what Adam told him he had apparently gotten up on the roof of their building, sitting on the edge and painting and smoking weed, nearly falling over the edge and keep insisting he needed to ‘make something perfect so Isak would love him again’.

He came down quickly and then spent two weeks in bed. He ignored the world. Had no energy for anything. He wanted to escape his own mind but he couldn’t. He considered killing himself but he couldn't muster up the courage or energy to move.


Now, he was a little better. He was just heartbroken and sad, like a regular person. Maybe it hurt him a little harder than it would have hurt anyone else. But he got up every morning, and started living again. Adam didn't interfere or nag him or told him what to do. He just was there for him and kept him company.

At least, he realised bitterly - his trip had served it’s purpose. Even had healed. Grown. Built himself up. And apparently lost his husband in the process. Some days Even just cried. Some days he blamed himself for leaving. Somedays he was angry at Isak for giving up on him.


The day after he had gotten out of bed again for the first time in two weeks, he went to the record studio with Adam, telling the producer he was taking the deal. He was going to do the record. He had no reason to go back home now.


After another three weeks, he picked the papers up again. He read and re-read the letter and tried to find a reason there. He couldn’t. Picking up the separation papers, he read through them carefully.

Since Even had been travelling they’d had separate bank-accounts, so there would be no sharing equally - Isak knew Even had more money than him now and had specifically written down that he wasn't interested in splitting funds; Even could just keep everything. He had also left Even the apartment.

Maybe Isak had gotten a better job offer in another town and decided to move. Even still couldn't figure out why Isak never told him anything. Why he had sounded so happy only days before Even got the papers. Maybe Isak had found someone else? Even had been away for over ten months. Nearly eleven now.

Still, he felt like he had missed something. A sign. Anything. But Isak had sounded happy and as in love with him as ever.



——


The night after Even’s last recording he had gotten a call from the gallery. They had sold everything he had left, absolutely every painting and even the leftover sketches from London and Berlin. Adam had played a small concert, he had gotten a request and being bored he had said yes. The boys had agreed to meet back home. Adam had finished his record the previous day, and they had planned to go out tonight to celebrate.

Even came home to find Adam reading the separation papers. “Sorry dude, but you left them laying here and I just… Well, I don’t understand shit anyway, I don’t speak Norwegian, but I just saw that he already signed? That sucks.”

“Actually, I wanted to talk about them with you. He has left me basically everything. Everything we own is in there, he left everything but his car to me. I don’t understand what’s going on at all, and two days before I got these he was happy in the phone and told me he loved me. He would have already sent these by then. I don’t understand anything.”


Adam nodded. “If he had been unhappy about you being away for so long, why didn't he just say so? You guys seem like you have such good and honest communication. Something just seems so off.”

“I know, I just. What the fuck do I do?”


Adam was silent for a while; thinking. It was probably just seconds, but it felt like an eternity to Even. He wished he could read minds. He wished Adam would just hurry up and say it. Then he spoke.



“We’re need to go to Oslo.”

 

 

———————————



Even walked out of the airport, taking a taxi straight home. Walking into the apartment, he found it empty. Not only was there no-one there, all of Isak’s stuff was gone. It looked like he had never lived there at all. And his wedding ring was laying on the kitchen counter along with his set of the house keys.

Even fell down on the floor. Before, it hadn't been real. Yes, he had held the papers in his hand. But now, being in the apartment alone, seeing the ring and the key laying there, all of Isak’s stuff gone, it was so much more real. It was over. It was really over.

Adam, who had walked in after him, sat down next to him and opened his arms, inviting Even in for a hug. Even accepted, and sobbed his heart out.

He had found himself, but he had lost his husband.


———


He tried calling Isak. Jonas. Eva. Sana. Magnus. He tried everyone. No-one picked up. No-one texted him back. He found his car keys and walked down, finding his car in the parking garage. The parking spot that had been Isak’s was filled by a car he didn't recognise. Isak had probably rented out his parking space. Adam decided to stay in Even’s apartment, not wanting to come with when Even visited his parents.

On the way there, Even decided to stop by Isak’s parents first. Maybe they had some answers.

He parked his car, walked up and rang the bell. Terje opened. He looked tired. Actually he looked a little drugged to be honest. “Even.” he simply said, shock spreading across his face. It took him sometime to regain his composure. “Why are you here?” Terje asked.

“May I come in?” Even asked.

Terje just stepped aside, letting him in. They ended up in the kitchen, drinking coffee in silence.

“I tried calling Isak but he won’t answer my calls, so I just…” Even trailed off.

Terje nodded slowly. “I… A lot happened while you were away Even. I think that Isak would prefer to tell you most of it himself.”

“He won’t talk to me Terje. He sent me freakin’ separation papers.”

“When?”

“Two months ago.”

“And you didn't try to talk to him about it before now?”

“I’ve tried every single day. He wont respond to my messages. I can’t get any contact.”

“Why didn't you come home right away?”

“I… I don't know. I just. Getting those papers was like a giant slap in the face. I needed time to digest it. So I wouldn’t…. You know. When I came home and had to hear him say the words.”

“Yeah.” Terje took a sip of his coffee. “I know why he sent them two months ago, I don’t know if he still wants you to sign them, we barely talk. I have a feeling he don’t, he just… It was really shitty two months ago.”

Even tried to think what could possibly have happened. Did he miss any signs? Had he said something wrong? He looked around, suddenly realising that Marianne wasn't home. Had she been admitted again? He was afraid to ask. “Terje… What happened two months ago?”

“Marianne killed herself.”


And just like that, it all fell into place. That’s why Isak had stopped talking to him. Because Even should have been here for him, and he wasn’t.


———-


Leaving Terje’s house, he drove straight to his parents house. His mother looked surprised but happy to see him. He didn't bother with hello. “Have any of you spoken to Isak the past two months?”

His parents exchanged looks. Even knew they knew something he didn’t.

“Oh come on. NO-ONE WILL TELL ME ANYTHING!” he threw his hands up in frustration as he walked into the apartment. Buddy came running, greeting him. He petted his dog.

“Even. It’s not our place to tell.” Anders said softly.

“I know Marianne died.”

“Oh.”

“Terje told me. He wouldn't tell me anything else.”

“Yeah.”

“You know Isak sent me separation papers?”

“Yeah.” both his parents answered.

If they had fucking known why hadn't they told him anything? “You know why?”

“Yeah.”

“But you wont tell me.” It wasn't a question. It was a statement.

“I… Fuck Lisa, he needs to know.” Anders said. “I’ll make a call.”

Then his father disappeared, and when he came back they sat down in the kitchen. His mother kept offering him stuff, the only thing he accepted was coffee.

The doorbell rung and his father went to open. He could hear quiet voices in the hall and then his father reentered the kitchen, with Jonas and Sana. Even looked at them, wondering why his father had called them.

They all went to sit in the living room, and after what felt like forever, Jonas started talking.

“The week you left, Isak got diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. It’s a cancer that spreads, growing small tumours around in the body. He refused to call you from day one, he refused the rest of us too. He have been through a lot of chemo, radiation and operations.”

Even felt his heart sink. He had been traveling around Europe and America while Isak was fighting terminal cancer. Again. He didn't really know how to react right now. Jonas didn't give him time to, before he continued.

“The night his mother… died, Isak had a seizure due to one of the large tumours in his head. They had to rush him into surgery and he barely made it. And after that, when he woke up, he… he had changed. They didn't do anything wrong during the operation, but… he just closed himself off and refused speaking to us all. That’s when he sent you those papers. We all tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined. He said that he would probably never stop getting cancer and he didn't want that life for you.”

Jonas and Sana exchanged a look. “He had another scan the other day. He is currently cancer free.”

This was a lot to take in. Even didn't know what to say. What to do. He should have been here. He should have never left. “I should never have left.” he whispered.

“How do you think it would have been, you being here with him sick again, while you were sick yourself? Could you have handled it?” Sana asked him.

“I… No. I couldn't have.” he said. Because if was true. He needed time to process all they had told him, but he knew one thing for sure; he wasn't capable of being there for Isak, and Isak had been right to ask for a divorce. They probably shouldn't ever have gotten married in the first place.

He pulled the separation papers out of his bag, gripping a pen, and signed them. His hands were shaking, but he knew it was the right choice.

Handing them over to Jonas, he met the dark haired boy’s eyes. “Even… You should talk to him before you do this. When he sent these he was an emotional wreck.”

Even stood up and grabbed his things.”But so am I. Which is why this is the right decision.”

And then he turned around and walked out of the house.


-


Getting in his car, he just drove and drove and drove until he reached an empty parking lot. He turned of the ignition, got out of the car and started pacing back and forwards.

Isak had cancer. Again. And this time he hadn't even told Even. He had kept him in the dark the whole time. He hadn't even called Even when his mother died. He hadn't reached out to Even, because he knew that Even wasn't capable of being there for him. Even was a mess, he would always be a mess. And Isak didn't need that in his life. Isak’s life was hard enough already.

Even screamed. He kicked the wheel of his car. He screamed and screamed and screamed. He should have never gone on that trip. But would you have survived the news of Isak having cancer? Would you have survived being there through all of that again? He wouldn't have. He would have been a mess. He would have made it worse for Isak, not better. Isak had Jonas. Eva. Sana. Even’s parents and his own parents. He hadn't needed Even.

It hurt. He couldn't deny that. It hurt so bad, he had trouble breathing. But this time it wasn't a panic attack. It was just pain. And he could manage it. Because he had found himself again.

And lost Isak in the process.

And now he had let him go. His plan coming home was to try and talk to Isak, change his mind.

But hearing everything Isak had been through, alone, the right thing had been to let Isak go. So Even would. He would let Isak go. Because Even was a fucked up nut case and Isak deserved better.

 

 

Wish that you could build a time machine

So you could see

The things no one can see

Feels like you're standing on the edge

Looking at the stars

And wishing you were them

 

What do you do when a chapter ends?

Do you close the book and never read it again?

Where do you go when your story's done?

You can be who you were or who you'll become

If it all goes wrong

Darling just hold on

 

The sun goes down and it comes back up

The world it turns no matter what

If it all goes wrong

Darling, just hold on

 

Darling, just hold on

 

It's not over 'til it's all been said

It's not over 'til your dying breath

So what do you want them to say when you're gone?

That you gave up or that you kept going on?

 

What do you do when a chapter ends?

Do you close the book and never read it again?

Where do you go when your story's done?

You can be who you were or who you'll become

If it all goes wrong

Darling just hold on

 

The sun goes down and it comes back up

The world it turns no matter what

If it all goes wrong

Darling, just hold on

 

 

Darling, just hold on

If it all goes wrong

Darling just hold on

 

 

If it all goes wrong, darling just hold on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

ISAK’S POV

 

 

 


I felt for sure last night

That once we said goodbye

No one else will know these lonely dreams

No one else will know that part of me

I'm still driving away

And I'm sorry every day

I won't always love these selfish things

I won't always live...

Not stopping...

 

It was my turn to decide

I knew this was our time

No one else will have me like you do

No one else will have me, only you

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine

 

Amazing still it seems

I'll be 23

I won't always love what I'll never have

I won't always live in my regrets

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine…


 

 

 


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

What do you do when a chapter ends?

Do you close the book and never read it again?

Where do you go when your story's done?

You can be who you were or who you'll become

If it all goes wrong

Darling just hold on

 

The sun goes down and it comes back up

The world it turns no matter what

If it all goes wrong

Darling, just hold on

 

 




Isak kept staring at the text message. He had gotten it weeks ago, shortly after the one with the “why”. Like the one Even sent before this one, the one where he asked why, Isak hadn't replied.

When he heard from Lisa and Anders that Even was back, he first felt relief. He missed Even so much. He wanted to just melt into his embrace, he wanted Even to hold him forever. But he knew that couldn't happen. He knew that he was no good for Even. He knew that despite how much he loved Even, letting him go was the right decision.

 

 



So he sent Jonas and Sana over to talk to Even. And when they came back with the separation papers signed, when he read Even’s neat signature, “Even Valtersen Næsheim” on the papers, he broke down crying in a mixture of relief and sorrow. Relief because now he wasn't responsible for ruining Even anymore, sorrow for losing the person he loved.

But it was the right choice. It was.

Jonas held him and Isak welcomed the embrace.

It was over. It was done. They were no longer married. They were separated. They could both move on.

Move on, Isak though bitterly. He would just start living his life again, and in a few months or a few years, he would have cancer again. And he wasn't sure he wanted to survive another round.



He sent in the papers the next day.

-

 



Linn came to talk to him sometimes. Today was one of those days.


“Isak.”


“Isak talk to me at least. Tell me what you're thinking.”

“Isak.”


“What’s the point? Can’t I just lay here and enjoy feeling good until I die?”


“Isak-“


“I will, you know that right? I will get cancer again and die.”


“Is this why you sent Even those separation papers?”


“Yes.”


“Do you still love him?”


“Of course.”


“Then don’t do this. Let him back into your life. You're healthy now. Yes, you may get sick again but you also may live to be a hundred.”


“No. And he doesn't need me anyway.”


“How do you know that?”


“He signed the papers.”


“Have you seen him since he came back?”


“I haven’t seen him since he left.”


“Maybe you should meet?”


“No. It’s better this way.”


“I think you should talk to Even. I think you two should work things out. I think you need each other.”


“Linn?”


“Yes?”


“Please just leave.”


And she did.


——-


He got back to work full-time after his fourth month in remission. His hair had started growing back and all his coworkers welcomed him with smiling faces. When he had been working two hours shifts in the beginning, he hadn't worked at his old unit but at another unit. A few weeks back at work, everything fell into a normal rhythm again. No-one treated him like the cancer guy. They just treated him as “doctor Valtersen Næsheim.” He hadn't changed it. He was about to do it several times. But something always stopped him. It felt so final he just couldn't do it.

So he kept it. He decided to keep it until they could sign the final divorce papers.



———

Going back to work with cancer patients was hard. But at the same time, he found it easier to talk to them now, having been there twice himself. He felt more sure, more confident, more relaxed. But also more dark and gloomy and probably not giving his patients the best hopes.

But cancer was like that. It was best to not get your hopes up, because it would just crush you down again. So Isak decided to not get his hopes up ever again.

The cancer would just keep coming and the next time, he didn't even want to fight it.

Some days he laid in bed thinking about Even. Thinking about what could have been. And what could never be.

 



“How many Isaks and Evens do you think are laying just like this right now?”

“Infinite.”

 



But like Even once said; the only way to have something forever is by losing it.

Their love would last forever, because it was now lost.


———-


His friends had talked him into going to a concert. The guy Even had been traveling with was performing. Isak was skeptical. He just wanted to avoid everything that had to do with Even. But Vilde had been the one to talk him into it.

“This guy is so freaking good and we have managed to score free tickets! Isak. You are in remission. Time to live a little. Please?”

The argument wasn't even that great, but he just didn't care to argue. He didn't have the energy to argue, or the will to. He just let her boss him into it.

And the show was really good. Isak found himself enjoying it.

Until they got about halfway in. The artist, Adam, grabbed the mic and started talking.

“I wanted to introduce you to another artist from my record company, and also a dear friend of mine! His name is Even and he is an amazing cover-artist. I have talked him into doing a few songs with me, hope that is okay with you guys!”

As Even walked onto the stage, Isak felt his heart stop. Even was just as breathtakingly beautiful as Isak remembered him. The crowd went wild; Even had become quite famous in this industry too it seemed.

Isak watched him accept a mic from a stage crew-member with a relaxed attitude and then Adam started playing on his guitar.


“I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house

That don't bother me

I can take a few tears now and then and just let 'em out

I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while

Even though goin' on with you gone still upsets me

There are days every now and again I pretend I'm okay

But that's not what gets me”



The combination of the two boys voices was mesmerising. And Isak was just so impressed, he hadn't known how good of a singer Even really was. He had known he was good, but not this good.

“What hurts the most was being so close

And havin' so much to say

And watchin' you walk away

And never knowin' what could've been

And not seein' that lovin' you

Is what I was trying to do”


For a short moment, Isak was sure Even had seen him, like they had seen each other. Time stood still and Isak had trouble breathing. Those blue eyes… they brought back so many memories. Of them together, of the life they had shared. All the happiness and joy. The good and the bad. But then the moment passed, and Even was looking away.

 

“It's hard to deal with the pain of losin' you everywhere I go

But I'm doing it

It's hard to force that smile when I see our old friends and I'm alone

Still harder gettin' up, gettin' dressed, livin' with this regret

But I know if I could do it over

I would trade, give away all the words that I saved in my heart

That I left unspoken”


Isak’s mind was racing. He felt his chest tightening. He wanted to get out of here, but he felt paralysed. Like he was stuck. Glued to the floor. His mind told him to bolt but his body betrayed him.

 

“What hurts the most was being so close

And havin' so much to say

And watchin' you walk away

And never knowin' what could've been

And not seein' that lovin' you

Is what I was trying to do, oh

 

What hurts the most was being so close

And havin' so much to say

And watchin' you walk away

And never knowin' what could've been

And not seein' that lovin' you

Is what I was trying to do

 

That's what I was trying to do, ooh”

 

 

The cheering was unbelievably high. When it died down a little and before Adam started speaking again, he felt Jonas grab his arm. “We can leave if you want to.” The dark haired boy said.

Isak debated it. He wanted to go. But he also wanted to stay. He wanted to be able to observe who Even had become without him. He wanted to know. He needed to know.

They stayed for another song. And then another. And then Isak decided to just stay the entire show. He was so proud of Even. And with every song he felt more and more that he had made the right choice. Letting Even go. He had felt that way before too, but now he was even more certain. Even was better without Isak.

“Ready for another one?” Adam yelled. “We have another one together, and then Even will close this show with a special song.”

 


Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need

We get a little restless from the searching

Get a little worn down in between

Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes

Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

 

Brother, let me be your shelter

Never leave you all alone

I can be the one you call

When you’re low

Brother, let me be your fortress

When the night winds are driving on

Be the one to light the way

Bring you home”



Isak had heard the song once before. Even had played it on Spotify one night they were out driving. He remembered the feeling. The freedom. The happiness. And the message behind it. That they would always be there for each other.


But time is a funny thing. Sometimes ‘always’ just ends.

 

“Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart

I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were

Now my hands can’t reach that far

I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone

I know that in my weakness I am strong, but

It’s your love that brings me home”

 



When the cheers died down and the boys on stage sat down on stools, Isak felt a moment of panic. He was sure Even would sing Til Kingdom Come. He knew that he had recorded it. And Isak couldn't hear him sing it. He just couldn’t. He started looking for a way out of the concert hall. He needed to leave.


“Well I came home

Like a stone

And I fell heavy into your arms

These days of dust

Which we've known

Will blow away with this new sun

 

But I'll kneel down

Wait for now

And I'll kneel down

Know my ground

 

And I will wait, I will wait for you

And I will wait, I will wait for you”


Looking up, Isak was sure Even was looking at him this time. He didn't know how to interpret what Even wanted to conway. He had said these word to Even over and over both when the older boy left and while he was travelling. Was Even mad at him for breaking his promise? Or was he saying he was waiting for Isak to change his mind?

 

“So break my step

And relent

You forgave and I won't forget

Know what we've seen

And him with less

Now in some way

Shake the excess

 

'Cause I will wait, I will wait for you

And I will wait, I will wait for you

And I will wait, I will wait for you

And I will wait, I will wait for you”



Isak felt his heart break over and over again with every word. He had promised Even to be here when he came back. But when he had made that promise, he hadn't known he would be through nearly dying twice and losing his mother in the process.

Which was why he had to be strong and stand by his choice. Because Isak would probably just get cancer again and then what happened to his mother, would happen to Even. And Isak couldn't live with that.



He needed to keep staying away from Even. He needed to be strong and for that to happen he couldn't meet Even.


-



But he bought his CD on the way out. To support Even, of course.


-


Sitting in Jonas’ car on the way home, he read through the track list on the back of the cover. The front was a painting of the sunset on Key West. Their favourite place.

 


1. Til Kingdom Come
2. Depth Over Distance
3. White Blank Page
4. No Matter Where We Are
5. Gone, Gone, Gone
6. I Will Wait

7. Just Hold On
8. Almost Everything
9. Proud



He knew all the songs. But he wasn't ready to hear them yet, not ready to hear Even’s voice. So when he got back home he put the CD on his nightstand.


And it stayed there for months, untouched. Only collecting dust.


——

“How have you been Isak?”

“Fine. Work is fine. Living at Eva’s is nice. Jonas moved in too, finally rented out his place.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah.”

“But I was referring to your feelings. Have you spoken to Even yet?”

“No.”

“You plan to?”

“No. We will get the final divorce papers in a few months. Once those are signed we can both move on with our lives.”

“You don’t think you will change your mind?”

“I haven’t so far.”

“Because you have decided to not change your mind or because you don’t love him anymore?”

“I don’t want to talk about this.”

“This is why we’re here Isak. To talk about your feelings.”

“My feelings about the recovery and how I cope with my illness yes. Not about my ex-husband.”

“They connect.”

“How so?”

“Your mental state is worse because of your choice to let Even go. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I still believe you need him. At least you need to talk to him.”

“I can’t. I can’t have him in my life because I can’t watch him go through me becoming sick again and again and again. I can’t watch him fall apart because I love so him god damn much.”

“You know part of what you said their contradicts itself? You love him but you don't ever want to see him again.”

“Yeah, well. I heard this quote once.”

“Oh? Do tell.”

“It doesn't take a lot of strength to hold on, it takes a lot of strength to let go.”

“I know you are strong Isak. You're one of the strongest people I know. But I’m telling you that you don’t have to be.”

“Yes- Yes I do. I’m not going to change my mind.”

“Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t.”

“And maybe we can drop this subject for now?”

“Sure. Are you joining the trip next week?”

“Yes. Are you?”

“Yes.”

“Then I will request a seat far away from you so you can stop questioning me about my ex.” he joked, a slight smile on his face.

She just laughed back.



They were going to Thailand for two weeks. Him, Jonas, Eva, Noora, William, Sana, Allan, Magnus and Vilde. The rest of their friends had to work and couldn't get time of. Isak had just told his boss he was going, without asking if it was okay. And his boss just wished him a good trip and got someone to cover his shifts. Cancer perks.

Standing in the airport, Isak remembered the last time he sat foot in this place. When he had driven Even here. The last time they had seen and touched each other. It was nearly two years ago. It felt like a lifetime had passed since then.


Getting on that plane, sitting down next to Noora and William, he felt excited. He wanted to go on this trip. He looked forward to enjoy time with his friends. Most of all he looked forward to not having to see stuff that reminded him of Even every goddamn day.


When the plane took of, he found himself smiling. He found his phone and got out some earplugs, putting the music to shuffle.


I'm leaving your town again

And I'm over the ground that you've been spinning

And I'm up in the air, so baby hell yeah

Oh honey I can see your house from here

If the plane goes down, damn

I'll remember where the love was found

If the plane goes down, damn

You keep me high minded

You get me high


————————

During their stay in Thailand Isak was extra careful to always wear cloths and snapbacks and a LOT of sunscreen. He was after all prone to get cancer. He may be on the verge of debating suicide some days, but a small part of him still wanted to live. He didn't know why.

One of the days on the beach, it was too hot for clothes. So he had to remove his shirt. He asked Jonas to put some sunscreen on for him, but the other boy was just about to go swimming.

“I’ll do it.” he heard a voice behind him. William.

Isak just nodded. He and William seldom spoke. They saw each other only because of Noora, and were pleasant towards each other. But not really friends beyond that.

As William started putting sunscreen on him, he also started talking. “You know, when I first heard about you and Even getting that separation, I didn't get you. But after hearing from Noora some of your reasons, and talking to Even-“

“You speak to him?” Isak hadn't meant to sound so eager.

“Yeah. I mean, he has kind of no-one. He had that Adam guy, but after he left Even was alone. And the only one in our group reaching out to him is Magnus. Everyone else has picked your side.”

“I never asked anyone to pick sides. I don’t want them to do that.” Isak whispered, suddenly feeling bad. He had never considered that their friends would drop Even out of their lives too.

“But they have. And that’s how life goes.” William finished and handed him back the bottle. “But what I was saying, is that; I get it now. I understand why you did it.”

“And why is that?”

“You’re scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“You have watched him building this life for himself, becoming this great person, without you. You have watched him get better by leaving you. You’re scared he has changed so much that your relationship won’t work out anymore.”

“Maybe.” Isak bit his lip. “But I don’t plan to find out.”

“I have gathered as much. But let me give you one advice Isak; People change all the time. We grow, we evolve. But if you really love someone, you will always be able to make it work. Even might have changed. So have you. Doesn't mean that the love you have for one another has.”

“That’s not my reason you know.”

“I know, you’ve said it is because you can’t stand the thought of watching him fall apart. But you and I both know that he is stronger now. He can take it. You're the one who can’t."

And then William got up and joined the others in the water. Isak just sat there, trying to take it all in.

Was it true? Was he afraid to be with Even because Even might not love him anymore? He shook his head. No. He was doing this because he couldn't put Even through that situation again. And he couldn't watch another loved one die.

That was what he was afraid of. Losing another loved one.

————————-

 

The week after he came home from Thailand, he was forced to cover a shift in the ER. He hated that. It was either boring with no patients or crazy with patients who was pretending to be sick. Colds. Tummy aches from eating to much dairyproducts. Head aches. Or people with broken bones.

“Dr. Valtersen Næsheim to room three please” the speaker called and he got up from the chair he was sitting in.

Just as he was about to open the door to room three, the nurse came out. She looked really embarrassed. “I’m so sorry Dr. Valtersen Næsheim, I shouldn't have paged you, I just didn't check the patient info first.”

“Who is it?” He knew it must be a relative or something, since she said he shouldn't have been paged. Had his dad broken something? They were in the area for broken bones.

“Erhm… Your.. husband actually.”

“Oh.”

“Sprained wrist. Just need someone to put a cast on. I’ll page someone else.” she stuttered, hurrying to say the words.

Isak took a few seconds to think it through before he let out a breath, saying “You can page that med-student, Kaja. She needs the practice.”

“But-“

“I’m allowed to supervise, just not treat family.”

“Okay… Sure.”

He waited outside until Kaja came, told her what to do and say and just followed her into the room. Even looked as dreamy as ever, but maybe a bit tired.

“Hello mr Valtersen Næsheim. I’m Kaja, I’m a med-student. I will be putting a cast on that wrist of yours, and my teacher here will just be in the room to supervise. Any questions?”

He saw Even shaking his head, eyes never leaving Isak’s. Isak held his gaze the entire time. But they never exchanged a single word. The only words he spoke was to answer Kaja’s questions about how to do stuff. She was relatively fresh, but a quick learner and a natural.

When they finished, he was so glad when his pager beeped before the situation became even more awkward. “You’re fine to follow him out and find the follow up documents and such yourself?” He asked Kaja, watched her nod, and was out of there faster than lightning.


——


“I saw Even today.” He told Eva and Jonas at dinner.

“Where?”

“At work.”

“He came to see you?”

“No. Had sprained his wrist. They paged me by accident. But I ended up supervising the med-student who put on the cast.”

Eva and Jonas exchanged looks. “How did it feel, seeing him again?”

“Just as horrible as last time. Just… more intense this time.”

“Isak…” Eva said.

“Don’t. I know you mean well, but don’t. We have both agreed to this decision. It’s for the best.”

“You never actually talked.” Jonas pointed out.

“But he signed the papers.” Isak said, shrugging.

“Just because he thinks he isn't good enough for you.”

Isak paused at that. Of course that would be Even’s reaction.

“And I signed them because I wasn't good enough for him.” he simply said, and before they could argue anymore, he got up and just left the table, going into his room.

It wasn't the entire truth. But when he had said it, it felt true. He wasn't good enough for Even anymore. Even was an artist. A musician. A celebrity. And Isak was a mid-level doctor who kept getting cancer. They didn't fit anymore.

—-

The phone rang in the middle of the night. The number was from the hospital. Somehow Isak just knew before he answered it. He knew what it was about. He picked up with shaky hands.

“Yeah.”

“Can you come in Isak? Something has happened to your dad.”

“Coming.” he said calmly.

And on the way there, he didn't rush. He didn't panic. He didn't hurry. He took his time, trying to prolong this, trying to escape reality. He needed more time. He wasn't ready. But time always runs out. And you don’t get to stop it.

Walking into the hospital this time, knowing where to go, he saw the sympathy in his coworkers faces. The nurses hugged him. He didn't feel any of it. He felt numb.

Going into a room to talk to the doctor on call, Isak just asked point blank “Is he dead?” before even sitting down or giving the other a chance to speak.

“Yes.”

And then Isak thought he would crumble and fall, cry and scream. But the feelings never came. He felt empty. He felt nothing.

“How?”

“Car accident. He was drunk and drove off the road. Died on impact.”

“Anyone else hurt?”

“No.”


 

And then Isak asked to be left alone.


———

The hospital called in Sana and Eva, knowing they were on the list of emergency contacts. He had removed Even a long time ago. Jonas came along too.

And the four of them sat in that room. It felt much like the day his mother died. Only different. He wasn't panicking this time. He didn't scream. He didn't feel anything at all.

“It was probably an accident. Mixing those pills with alcohol probably made him make a bad judgement-call.” Eva tried to reason.

Isak knew she was wrong. He knew it wasn't an accident. He knew it was deliberate and he couldn't blame his father. Losing the one you loved like he had would destroy anyone. And with the guilt Terje had about not always being there… Isak got it.

 


Someone had called Lea to tell her about their father’s passing. She never called Isak. She just texted him.

 




FROM LEA TO ISAK

I won’t come to the funeral. He wouldn't have wanted me there anyway. I know you don’t either. I am sorry though. You were right. I should have stayed with him.


FROM ISAK TO LEA

Go fuck yourself




And that was it. They never spoke again. And Isak didn't care. He didn't fucking care about anything anymore. Everyone was dying and it was his fault. Soon he would be dead too. What was the point of all of this?


Some days he seriously considered killing himself. That way it would go quickly, and less painful than letting the cancer take him. But that tiny part of him, buried deep inside his chest, wanted to live. So he kept living. Or, more like existing.


—-

His father’s funeral wasn't as hard on him as his mother’s. Probably thanks to the numbness. The fact that he had suspected that it would happen for months before. He listened to people talk. His fathers friends. The priest. He decided against speaking this time. He didn't have to courage. Or any words. He only had the numbness.

But Anders, of all people, spoke.

“I didn't know Terje Valtersen for that long or that well. But I knew he loved his wife and son deeply. And I know he was a great man. I also know he carried a lot of guilt about leaving his wife for a period while she was sick. But he was coping the only way he could. Like all of us do.

Terje once came to speak to me a few years ago, about how he felt he had failed his son. That he wasn't a perfect parent like I was. But he was. And wasn’t. Same goes for me. No-one can be perfect parents, and being parents to a sick child is harder than anything else. I told him he did a great job. And he did. He raised an amazing son. And he was there for him when it mattered.

Terje also loved his wife deeply. So deeply that it consumed him in the end. He told me that’s why he left her all those years ago, and stayed away for so long. He loved her so much he couldn't handle seeing her like that. But then he learned a lesson from his son, about being there for the person you love, no matter how hard it is. And he went back to her.

Marianne and Terje had many good years together, and some bad. That’s how a marriage works. It’s expected. What’s not expected was that they both died this young.

What we can learn from this is that time is a precious thing. One day it runs out. So hold on to the ones you love while you can; one day things may be to late.”

 
As Isak exited the church, he swore he saw Even. But he quickly tore his eyes away, and glued himself to Jonas’ side.

What Anders had said about time made him think. It really was a precious thing. And he probably didn't have any left.


As they left the grave, having watched them put the casket in the ground, his eyes found Even’s. They held their gaze for a moment, before they both turned and walked their separate ways.


You only know what I want you to

I know everything you don't want me to

Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine

You think your dreams are the same as mine

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

I always will

 

I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back

The less I give the more I get back

Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise

I don't have a choice but I'd still choose you

 

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

 

I always will

I always will

I always will

I always will

I always will


 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Eva?”

“Yes Isak?”

“Can you check with Sana if she has any available time today?”

“Sure, what for?”

“I need help.”

 

——————

He was sitting in Sana’s office. Staring at the walls, hearing the clock tick. He looked out of the window. It was snowing. He looked down at his lap. His pants were still a bit too lose, but he was getting there.

“Isak. Why did you come here?” they had been sitting in silence for twenty minutes or so.

Isak didn't know where to begin. He didn't know what he wanted to accomplish. He just knew that the small piece inside his chest told him to keep living, keep fighting, not end up buried next to his parents. But everything was dark and faded and nothing seemed to matter. “I can’t feel anything.” he admitted at last.

“Do you want to feel anything?”

“I don’t know. I just… Everything is like… I feel that I see the world through a blurry camera or something. Nothing matters and I don’t feel anything.” he struggled with the words. “Some days I want to die. I even make plans to kill myself.”

“What’s holding you back?”

“This tiny piece inside of me, telling me I need to fight. I need to live. At least as long as the cancer doesn't come back.”

“And what do you think that is?”

“I don’t know.”

She was quiet for a little while, thinking. He was to. He hated feeling this numb, but at the same time the numbness saved him from feeling all the pain and hurt. Did he really want it to go away? Did he really want to feel the pain?

“For most people, the tiny piece you talk about, is connected to a loved one. That’s always the answer they get me. When I ask them what’s holding them back in the darkest moments. It’s always a loved one.”

“So you think my love for Even is the only thing holding me back?”

“Your words, not mine. But it might be. Question now is how do you feel about that.”

“I have decided to let him go. I decided for a long time ago. When I saw how much easier his life became when he was without me.”

“And how did your life become without him?”

“Harder.”

“So why did you push him further away?”

“Because it would be selfish of me to ask him to come back.”

“Why is that?”

“Because being around me, being around someone as sick as me, will destroy him again.”

“Why are you so sure about that?”

“Because it happened last time.”

“You were teenagers Isak. And besides, I think this is something you should let Even have a say in. What he can and can’t handle is something he needs to decide. Not you.”

“He won’t be honest if he can’t handle it. He will just stick by my side and let it destroy him.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because I know him. We’ve been married for seven years and I know him.”

“Still, knowing he loves you so much, and knowing your love for him is all that is keeping you together, you still want to divorce him?”

“It’s better that way.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re toxic to each other.”

 

——————

Isak kept going to Sana a few times a week. They didn't talk about Even much more. They talked about techniques, how he could find five positive things every day and focus on them.

She also told him it was okay to let his feelings out. If he screamed or cried or just ranted; didn't matter. But he needed to get things out, stop holding them in. He wasn't so sure about it.

Talking to Jonas about it, the dark haired boy suggested they go out into the woods and try screaming. Yelling. Ranting. Anything.

Isak hesitated but accepted it.


The walk was hard on Isak. He was in terrible shape. But just having had cancer and several surgeries, some of them on his brain, made that quite understandable. When they got there they sat down next to each other. Jonas didn't nag him. Didn't pushed him. Isak appreciated it.

They looked out over the calm water. Isak picked up a rock, threw it in.

“I wish I was dead.” he started. And then, when he first had opened his mouth and said the words, they kept coming:

“I wish I could have stopped mom.”

“I wish I could have stopped dad.”

“I hate having cancer. I hate the universe for giving me cancer.”

“I hate that I can’t talk to Even about anything. I hate that I still love him. I hate that I sent him those papers. I hate that I can’t be with him.”

“I hate that life is so fucking unfair.”

“I have no family left. No-one. I’m all alone.”

At that, Jonas interfered. “We’re your family.”

“Yeah sorry. I know.” Isak gave Jonas’ should a squeeze. Then he continued.

 

“I hate cancer.”

“I FUCKING HATE CANCER!”

“I HATE IT!”

“I can’t take this. I can’t take any of this Jonas. I have tried to stay calm, collected, and I have kept myself strong on the outside to spare everyone’s feelings. But what did it get me? NOTHING!”

“MY MOTHER AND FATHER IS DEAD! AND IT’S ALL MY FAULT! JUST BECAUSE I GOT FUCKING CANCER THEY ARE BOTH DEAD AND I’M ALONE AND I WILL GET CANCER AGAIN AND I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THIS AGAIN! I KNOW CAN’T DO IT AGAIN!”

“I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN!”

“I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN!”

“I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN!”

“I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN!”


“I WANNA DIE!”



And then he started sobbing. And screaming. And sobbing again.

And when he stopped screaming, Jonas just pulled him into his arms and held him until he stopped crying. When Jonas tried to pull away, Isak begged him to hold on. Just a little longer. He needed to be held just a little longer.

 

 

-

 



As they walked back, Isak didn't feel much different. It hadn't magically removed the numbness. Not that he had believed it would.

“It’s probably because I came with you.” Jonas simply said.

“How so?”

“The reason it works so well for me is that I get it all out, no holding back, because it’s just me and the woods and emptiness. No witnesses. I think… I think you will find it easier to do alone. At least the screaming part. Because you were kind of holding back.”

“And the rest?”

“The rest I would be more than happy to help you with.”


Isak started going out to scream in the woods alone after that. And at night he told Jonas about everything he thought. Mostly about wanting to die. He had decided to not fight cancer again if it came back. Jonas cried a lot at that. Isak started apologising. But Jonas told him to keep talking about it. Maybe it would help. Maybe it would go away if they talked about it enough.




With every session and every week, Isak started feeling a little better. He felt the heavy numbness lift a little. But the pain of losing his father he had feared coming, never came.

———

 


“I think I have figured it out.” he said one day when the had as session.

“Figured out what?”

“Why the pain of losing my father never surfaces.”

“Do tell.”

“It doesn't exist.”

“Elaborate.”

“I loved my father, just like I loved my mother. But I think I kind of reasoned that him dying was better for him.”

“How so?”

“He was suffering terribly. Ever since mom died he was depressed, drugged and miserable. He had sunken into this hole he couldn’t dig himself out of. He had lost all hope, all will to live. And now that he is dead, he finally have peace.”

“But you don’t mourn the loss of him?”

“In a way. I do. But I also feel some relief.”

“Why is that?”

“Because now he won’t have to be forced to bury his own child.”

 

———

Studies and work started kicking Isak’s butt. He enjoyed it still. He liked it, he understood it. And he felt more focused, more interested in his field now than ever. He had beat cancer’s butt twice. He might not the third time, but for now he could learn and work with it. Help other people beat it.

One afternoon he got called in for a consult on a case. Presented with the papers he saw that the case was much like his own. Metastatic melanoma. Just at a later stage which meant lower chances. Walking into the room to meet with the doctor who initially had the case and the patient, he felt like someone had kicked the air out of his lungs.

The boy in the hospitable looked so much like Ian that it was freaky. He double-checked the name. They weren't related. Pulling himself together as quickly as he could, he introduced himself.

“Hello. My name is Dr. Valtersen Næsheim and I will consult on your case.”

 

-

 



Walking out of that room with his coworker, they stopped as soon as the door closed.

“What was that? You freezing?” the other man, Rob, asked.

“He looked like he could be Ian’s twin. Ian was a boy I got chemo with. He died. Brain tumour.”

“Shit, I’m sorry. I just paged you because well… You have a lot of insight in cases like his.”

“Don’t worry Rob. I can take it.” Isak reassured him.

And as they parted ways, Isak heading for the locker-room to change and go home, he realised it was true. He could take it. He could do this job. He was good at this job.

Checking his watch, he found out he was late for a meeting with Sana.


——


“Why didn't you ever put me on drugs?” he asked as he sat down in front of her.

“Why should I have?”

“The first day I came in to talk to you. When I told you I wanted to die.”

“I knew you wouldn't do that. I didn't feel like you were at risk. And I don’t like prescribing drugs to patients unless it’s the absolute last way out.”

“Not at risk? I told you about wanting to die. Normally therapist get you admitted after talking like that.”

“But you told be about that part holding you back.”

“The tiny one.”

“Tiny but mighty. I saw a spark in your eyes as you talked about it. I felt that was all I needed to work with, that you didn't need drugs or to be admitted.”

“Are we going to end up discussing Even again?”

“You’re the one bringing him up again.”

He fell silent at that.

“And why do you think that is?” she pressed on.

He fell silent again. He knew it. She knew it. Everyone probably knew it.

“Because you can’t move on.” she finally said. “You have to talk to him. Either you will both find closure from it, or you will find your way back together-“

“I told you I don't want this life for him.”

“Sometimes you don’t get to control other people Isak. Even is an adult and can chose for himself what kind of life he wants. It’s time you let Even make the choice whether he wants this life or not.”

“But I can refuse to stay married to him. I can refuse to have him in my life.”

“But is that really what you want?”


Honestly? He didn't know anymore. He was starting to doubt himself.

———-

He sold his parents house and put the money in a saving account. He told Eva he could buy himself someplace to live if she wanted him to move out. She kept insisting he stayed.

So he just paid her rent despite her refusals.

Emptying out the house as one of the hardest things Isak had done. Digging up old memories, finding stuff that reminded him of his mother and father. Of happy days. He kept some things. Like their wedding rings and a favourite necklace of his mother’s. A few books. Some other stuff.

Eva packed down everything in Lea’s room for him and sent it to her. He was thankful for that. He didn't want to be reminded of her. He packed down his own room. Some things he kept, most things he gave away or threw away.

It took them nearly two weeks to empty the house, seeing as they were all working full-time and had very little free time to do it. Isak was taking extra shifts this month too. Not because he needed extra money, he just needed less time to stay at home and think about his life.


———-

Isak managed to lose his phone on the ground as he was rushing to work one day. The screen broke and he cursed. After work he went to buy himself a new one. The guy behind the counter transferred everything from his old to his new.

When he scrolled through his contacts to see if every number he needed was there, he saw his mother and father’s numbers. He deleted those. Lea’s as well. His finger lingered over Even’s.

Quickly, before he had a chance to change his mind he deleted that one as well, then he stuffed his new phone into his pocket and walked out of the store.


But he kept their wedding picture as his background picture.

 

 

 

—————

 

Go throw the key away

no matter what they say

all for a better day

you will always be the same

that's what I've been told

since I was six years old

duck down and count to ten

 

I'm gonna hit the Lotto

I'm gonna place my bet on every step I take

go tell everyone under the sun

I'm on my way

 

And If I hit rock bottom

I'm gonna smile and dance with every step I take

go tell everyone under the sun

I'm on my way

On my way!


Jonas had insisted they should have a boys night. Eva was going over to Noora’s place. She and William had just moved back to Oslo. The girls were going to have a girls night there and Eva had talked the boys into letting William, Allan and Kasper come over as well.

It was kind of awkward in the beginning. But as the music got louder and the alcohol intake escalated, things became more comfortable.

“Maybe we should go out clubbing?” William suggested.

“I work tomorrow” Isak protested.

“You work the ER. How sober do you have to be to do that?” Jonas laughed.

“Hey, I may have an old lady with a broken hip, needs to be sober for that.” Isak laughed.

“Come on man. Just stop drinking now then and just come dancing with us or something.” Mahdi egged on. “I’m the only single one here, you guys kind of owe me some help here.”

They waited for a comment from Magnus, but the blond haired boy was deeply lost in something on his phone.

“Mags. Yo. Where you at.” Jonas hollered, making the boy jump.

“Uh… Texting a friend.”

At his tone, Isak instantly knew. “Even?” he asked. He knew Magnus had decided to stay friends with both Isak and Even. The others hadn't exactly chosen sides, they just never made an effort to reach out to Even. Isak had told them he didn't mind.

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“No worries. You guys can invite him out, and I can turn in early.” Isak said, finishing his beer and making a motion to get up.

“No way man. You're going to be my wingman. You have the best game of everyone here.” Mahdi complained.

Isak hesitated. “I… I can't come if you invite Even. I can’t see him.”

“Fine.” Magnus said. “I won’t.”


And so they went out.


————-


“What the hell Magnus?” Isak said as they exited the club a few hours later. “I told you not to invite Even and you did?”

“You were the one dancing with him.” Mahdi pointed out.

“Didn’t mean anything.” Isak insisted, huffing. It was true, he had danced with Even. The music had been so loud, the bass pulsing through them. Isak had been pleasantly buzzed from the alcohol, but not drunk. So he couldn't use that as an excuse. They had just gravitated against one another, like magnets. And they had danced, fitting each other perfectly. Moving in sync. It could have been only for a minute, they could have danced for hours. He didn't know. He only knew that when Even had leaned in to kiss him, Isak had managed to break the spell and push away quickly, bolting for the exit with the rest of the boysquad on his heals.

“Looks like it did.” William said.

 

“What do you mean?” Isak challenged the older boy.

“I could see it in your face. I still see it now. You're not over him and you never will be. Just talk to him.” William answered. “Remember what I told you back in Thailand? Maybe it’s time for you to face your fears.”

Isak wanted to make a comeback. But he realised he had none. So he turned on his heel and just walked away from the group. Ignoring them calling his name, he kept on walking. He kept walking until he reached the hospital, and taking a nap in one of the on-call rooms there, he fell into a restless sleep.


————

His shift at the ER turned out boring. He did indeed get an old lady with a broken hip though and she was awfully chatty.

“You’re a handsome young man.” she smiled. “Are you married?”

“Separated, actually.”

“Pity. Poor girl losing you.”

“I’m gay actually.” Isak admitted, done with hiding his sexuality.

She didn't bat an eye. “Poor guy then. Is he handsome?”

“Very.” Isak admitted, smiling at her

“May I ask the reason for the separation or am I prying too much?”

“We just… aren't good for each other.”

“How so?”

“I keep getting cancer and he has bipolar disorder.”

“That’s a silly reason to give up on love.”

“Maybe we don’t love each other anymore.”

“That’s bull. I saw it in your eyes the minute I asked if you were married. You still love that man of yours.”

“Maybe.”

“Then go be with him.”

“Things are a bit more complicated than that.”

“No. They're not. You fight for love. Look at me. I did what you did, years ago. I decided against marrying a man I loved because I was afraid we wouldn't make it because of my lifestyle not being compatible with his. Also my mother didn't approve, seeing as he wasn't from the same ‘class’.”

“But you still love him?” Isak asked her, curiously.

“With my whole heart.”

“What is stopping you now?”

“He died in a car accident 20 years ago.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“So was I. Sorry that I wasted time. I could have had so much time. But I was a coward.”

“I keep him away because I love him.” Isak admitted. “If I get sick and die he will never recover.”

“From what i gather he wouldn't recover even if you're not married anymore. So why not let him have time with you, as much or little as you have left?”

“I… I don’t know. I used to know. Now I don’t.”

“Figure it out son. But first, do me a favour and get me something for this damn pain. Stupid old body falling apart.” She huffed the last part and Isak couldn't help but smile at that.

He gave her some painkillers and sent her up to surgery to have the hip fracture set right.



And then he was sitting by a desk, bored the rest of his shift, thinking about her words.

“Why not let him have time with you, as much or little as you have left?”


Because he was a coward.


————


“I saw Even last night.”

“What happened?” Sana asked him.

“We danced. In that club I went to with the boys.”

“Did you talk?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because then I would have broken down right then and there.”

“Why?”

“Because I still love him. And I always will.”

“Maybe you should talk to him then.”

“No.”

“You just said you love him.”

“Things aren't always black and white. Just because I love him doesn't mean I want to go back to him. I can’t be with him. I can’t bear the responsibility of breaking him down when I get cancer again.”

“You might not get cancer again.”

“But it’s more likely I will.”

“Maybe. But are you going to live your life based on that?”

“It’s what I’ve been doing for nearly eleven months now.”

“And how does it make you feel?”

“Nothing. I get by. I live. I go to work. I hang out with friends. I exist.”

 

“And you don’t miss Even in your life?”

“I miss him every day.”

 



———————

 


One evening he came home from a particularly hard shift at work. He found Eva and Jonas already on the couch, looking tired. Jonas had a long day at work and Eva had been arguing with her mother.

Eva’s mother didn't particularly support Eva’s decision to marry Jonas. It was hard on Eva. So now she was cuddled up in Jonas’ lap, looked like she had been crying. Isak stopped in door opening. Looked at them. Watched how Jonas cared for her, held her. Him and Even had used to be that way with each other.

“Shall I order takeout?” he asked. He could see how much Jonas and Eva appreciated it, when they both nodded. Neither of the three had any energy to make dinner but they needed to eat,

When the food arrived, he sat down next to them, on Eva’s side, and they started eating in silence. He could see Eva just picking at her food and tried to find the right words to comfort her. Then he just pulled her into a hug, and she started crying again.

“You have to chose what is right for you Eva. If she can’t accept it, then she’s the one at fault, not you. Your happiness should be more important to her than her idealistic thoughts about what kind of person you should marry. Time’s to short to do what people expect of you. Do what you want to. Love who you want to. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back.” It just fell out of him. He didn't know where the words came from. Or maybe he did. He just didn't want to think about it.

He could feel her relax, the sobs quieting down. He looked over at Jonas, who was smiling.

“And when are you going to take your own advise?” the dark haired boy asked.

“Do what I say and not what I do, isn't that the saying?” Isak laughed. The others joined in.

They finished their food and watched a movie together. It was nice. They had a nice time.

Observing Jonas and Eva, how they acted around each other, making up for all their lost time, Isak realised that maybe he should give this another chance. Maybe he should talk to Even.


Just not yet. He wasn't ready yet. Because it had nearly been two years. They had changed. He was afraid, just like William had said. He was afraid to find out that Even didn't love him anymore. That they didn't fit together anymore.


——-


A few days later Isak had some time off work. He got in his car and drove down to centrum. Finding a parking spot, he parked his car, got out and went over to the door. He rung the bell and waited for the door to open.

It finally did.

“Isak?” Eva’s mother said.

“Can we talk?” he said, and she nodded and let him in.

Sitting in her living room, drinking tea, Isak nearly lost the courage he had mustered up while driving over here. But he had to do this. For Eva. For everything Eva had done for him.

“Eva loves Jonas. And Jonas loves her back.”

“They’re rushing into-“

“They’re not though. They have loved each other ever since high school. They never stopped loving each other. It just took me almost dying twice for them to realise the same fact I just realised; Life is short. For some of us it’s shorter than for others.”

“Isak. I’m so sorry about everything that happened to you, but you can’t compare your situation to theirs. Neither of them are sick.”

“Did you think me and Even rushed into marriage?”

“No. You were dying.”

“Imagine if Jonas would die in three months, getting killed by a car.”

“You can’t go around and base life on that-“

“But life is like that. And Eva and Jonas have realised this. Our time is limited, and none of us really knows how much time we will get. They have loved each other from afar for years. They have decided they want to have as much time as possible together.”

“But what if it doesn't work out, what if they don’t make it?”

He knew her scepticism came from her own divorce. He didn't know the details, only that it was messy. “Then they can get a divorce. And it might get messy, it might not. Look at me and Even. Our divorce isn't messy.”

“You’re still divorcing him? Eva keeps hoping you’ll change your mind.”

“Just waiting for the final divorce papers to come in the mail now.”

“It’s a shame Isak.”

“Why is that?”

“You sit here and talk about making the most of time. But you're not doing it yourself.”

“I know.”

“So why aren't you? Why are you divorcing Even if you don’t really want to?”

“Because it’s easier. It’s better in the long run. It’s a cowards way out and I am one.”

“You’re not. You're sitting in here, in my living room, scolding me about not accepting my daughter’s choices. You're far from a coward. You should go talk to your husband. Before it is to late.”

“I… Maybe. Maybe not.”

“Have you listened to his record? Have you watched his paintings?”

“No. Or I have seen some paintings. He’s really good.”

“That he is. And also he loves you so much. His art shows it.” she smiled. “Be brave, Isak.”

“If I consider talking to Even, would you consider accepting Eva’s decision?”

“I just did, minutes ago. You made me see reason almost the second you entered the room. I’m just being paranoid and stupid. But I will support her. Of course I will. She’s my daughter.”

“Good.”

“And you? Will you consider?”

“I will.”

———



He stopped by Lisa and Anders as well. He didn't stay long as they informed him that Even would be coming over for dinner. He had just needed to see them.

They had kind of become the only parents he had left.

And once those documents came in the mail, and he signed, they wouldn't be anymore.

Lisa looked sad when he left, but she didn't pressure him. He hurried down the stairs and got into his car, and just as he pulled out of the parking lot he saw Even coming. He didn't stop, or wave or look at him. He just drove home.


—————

 


FROM UNKNOWN NUMBER TO ISAK

Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you

And long after you're gone, gone, gone

I love you long after you're gone gone gone




———



He got paged in at work. His patient with the metastatic melanoma had been rushed into the ER. They needed to do an emergency surgery, but when they opened him up his liver was so full of tumours he needed a transplant.

They couldn't find any in time. He died on the table.

Isak ended up sitting on the floor of the operation room, covered in blood, not knowing what to do next. He hated this part. He hated losing patients.

Rob sat down next to him. “We should have chosen to specialise in plastics. Lower death rate.” he tried to joke.

Isak just nodded mutely.

“You okay Isak?”

Isak hesitated, before shaking his head.

“What’s up?”

“He died.”

“It happens all the time. What else is nagging you?”

“I have a scan in two weeks. What if it’s back? What if I’m just as..” he trailed of.

Rob put an arm around his shoulders and gave him a squeeze.

“Then we will do our very best. Like we always do.”

“Yeah.” Isak didn't bother telling him that he would accept treatment if it came back. He just nodded.

 


———-


Coming home he found Eva had left for a nightshift and Jonas sleeping on the couch.

There was mail for him on the table. A few bills and a huge envelope from a lawyers office.

He opened it. It was the final divorce papers. They had been separated for a year and now all they had to do was sign these papers and it would be over. Final.

He was too tired to think about it now. He grabbed the documents, went into his bedroom.


He spotted the CD laying on his nightstand and grabbed it. Getting out his computer, he put the CD in and put in some earplugs, pressing play.

And he listened to every single song, his heart bursting with a combination of pride; because Even was so good, and had been so successful, and heartbreak; because it made him miss Even more than ever before.

He listened to the record twice before he closed his laptop, placed it beside the bed and fell into a restless sleep.

-

When his alarm woke him the next morning he got in the shower and got dressed for a new day. Walking back into his room to gather his phone before he left, he caught sight of the divorce papers again.

He pulled out his phone, typing in a text. He knew Even’s number by heart. Deleting it from his phone didn't erase it from his mind.


FROM ISAK TO UNKNOWN NUMBER- 09.30

Can we meet?



FROM UNKNOWN NUMBER TO ISAK - 09.37

Of course. When?


FROM ISAK TO UNKNOWN NUMBER - 09.40

I get of work at eight pm.


FROM UNKNOWN NUMBER TO ISAK - 10.01

Bench at Utsikten*?


FROM ISAK TO UNKNOWN NUMBER - 11.09

See you there.

 

 




(*a place with a view over Oslo, William took Noora there in season 2)

 

 

—————

 

 

 

I felt for sure last night

That once we said goodbye

No one else will know these lonely dreams

No one else will know that part of me

I'm still driving away

And I'm sorry every day

I won't always love these selfish things

I won't always live...

Not stopping...

 

It was my turn to decide

I knew this was our time

No one else will have me like you do

No one else will have me, only you

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine

 

Amazing still it seems

I'll be 23

I won't always love what I'll never have

I won't always live in my regrets

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine

 

You'll sit alone forever

If you wait for the right time

What are you hoping for?

I'm here I'm now I'm ready

Holding on tight

Don't give away the end

The one thing that stays mine...

Chapter Text

 


EVEN’S POV

 



Just lay down with me before you go

It's the wrong thing I know

But I don't know when I will see you again

And it gets so lonely

 

You'd be be foolish if you stayed here now

Maybe if you leave we can work it out

Cause I know the city only breaks you down

And it gets you lonely

Yeah, it's gonna get lonely

 

You miss the feeling when you step outside

And then your mind comes all untied

And then you open up your eyes

And you don't feel lonely

 

And it feels bad now but it's gonna get better

Someday

 

 

 

Even didn't know what to do next with his life. He had money, for every record the record company sold he got more and more. And after selling all his paintings he had enough for a lifetime.

He got a deal with a gallery in Oslo who wanted to display his works. Adam dragged him out of the house everyday, wanting to see Oslo. And then they went on longer trips, seeing Norway, like Even had promised him.

But he felt his spirits sink. He had been working towards a goal before. Getting better so he could be with Isak. And Isak didn't want him anymore. It hurt. It also left him feeling empty.

He had to find another goal. But he didn't want to.


——


The first time he saw Isak was at a concert he played with Adam. He was in the crowd. Which is why he changed his plan about the closing song. He had planned to play “Til Kingdom Come.” But seeing Isak there made him change his mind. He couldn't play it knowing that the man he loved, the man that inspired him to sing it, was standing there, not loving him back.

So he decided to play “I will wait” instead. Adam didn't question him about it.

Seeing Isak that night hurt. He had looked so tiny, so fragile. So broken. Even wanted to jump of the stage and go over to him. But he didn’t.

He should have worked up the courage to go and talk to Isak the first day he got back. He should have demanded answers. But he couldn’t. He realised he had no right to demand them. He had left Isak. He hadn't even realised something was wrong when he should have. Isak had been calling and texting less and less. He had sounded more and more distracted. Sometimes it had gone over two weeks between their communications. Even hadn't once realised it.

He had been a crappy husband. And he didn't deserve Isak. And he didn't deserve the answers, even if he really wanted them. He wanted to know why. That’s it. That’s all he wanted.

But he couldn't demand an answer, not after all Isak had been through.


————

Second time he saw Isak was in the ER. He had managed to fall during a run with Buddy. The dog had pulled the leash and Even had lost his balance. He sat in the ER for a long time, waiting for an x-ray. When they had taken the pictures a nice nurse came and led him into another room, saying the wrist was just sprained but he would need a cast. They needed a doctor to come do that, but she had already paged one.

“Dr. Valtersen Næsheim to room three please” the intercom called out.

Even froze. “Erhm, are we in room three?” he asked the nurse.

“Yes, why?”

“Family can’t treat family.” he said shortly.

She looked at him dumbly, before looking down on his chart and then her jaw dropped. “Oh crap.” She rushed to the door. “I’ll fix this.”

She left the room and the door stayed closed for another ten minutes or so.

A tiny brunette entered the room, accompanied by… Isak. “Hello mr Valtersen Næsheim. I’m Kaja, I’m a med-student. I will be putting a cast on that wrist of yours, and my teacher here will just be in the room to supervise. Any questions?” she was so cheery.

He just shook his head, eyes lingering on Isak. He looked a bit thinner and a bit worn out, but still as gorgeous as ever. And the way he stood there, answering the med-student calmly and professionally whenever she had a question, Even felt so proud of him. Isak had become someone so strong and dependant. Someone who didn't need Even in his life. 

When they finished, Isak’s pager beeped. “You’re fine to follow him out and find the follow up documents and such yourself?” He asked Kaja, who nodded, and then Isak was out of there faster than lightning.

“Okay Mr. Valtersen Næsheim. Let’s get you those documents and we’ll set up an appointment to a check up, okay?”

He nodded.

“Your husband is the greatest teacher by the way. And he is quite handsome.”

“I know.” he said, not bothering to correct her and tell her that they were separated.

He followed Kaja out to the reception, signed the papers and left.


————-

 


When Adam announced he was returning home for two months until he was going on a tour, Even asked if he could come and see Adam’s home.

He had painted a lot over the past few months, painted the Norwegian nature and cities as they had been travelling. He left them all at the gallery, told them to sell if they got any good bids, and packed a bag.

Leaving Norway this time felt easier. Because he wasn't actually leaving someone behind.


————

He enjoyed Italy, he painted a lot, but when it was time for Adam to go on tour and him to go home, he was kind of glad. He wanted to spend some time alone, think. Be with his parents.

On the flight back home, he found himself sketching Isak. The image of Isak, leaning against the wall, that day in the ER, was glued in his mind. So he sketched it.

He almost ended up sending it to Isak. Like he would have done when they were younger. But he didn’t. He just put it up on the wall when he came home.

—————-

When he heard about Terje dying, he really wanted to call Isak. He called Adam about it.

“Don’t. He sent you those papers. You chose to sign them. He needs to make the next move. You have to let him come to you.”

“Why?”

“Because I have a feeling he is kind of in the place where you was when I met you. Not with the bipolar disorder or PTSD, but a place where he needs to figure stuff out by himself.”

Even didn't have a comeback.

“Besides, you said he has really great friends?”

“Yeah.” Jonas and Eva had apparently been filling Even’s ‘role’ in Isak’s life. He was both thankful and jealous.

“Then he will contact you if he needs you too. Give him time, like he gave you time.”

“And if he signs the divorce papers when they arrive?”

“You have to accept his wishes. Just like he has always accepted yours.”

Even took Adams advice. But he still went to the funeral, with his mother and father. He watched his father make that speech, and knew it was more for Isak’s sake than for Terje’s.

He remembered Isak and him discussing funerals all those years ago.



“I feel like funerals are for the living. To give them a closure. Letting them grieve. Reminding them that they had the privilege to love someone.”

“Yeah. Maybe.”

“You will attend mine, right? Not that I plan on dying anytime soon, but when I eventually die, you know.”

“Of course. So that I will be able to say what you just said.”

“What part?”

“I’m going to walk up to the podium, and I’m going to say: ‘I had the privilege of loving Isak Valterson’, and then I will probably break down in tears and sit back down. Or die right there on the spot.”




When then had lowered the casket into the ground, he caught Isak’s eye for a few seconds. He wanted to go over to him. Hug him. Tell him he was there for him. Instead he turned around and left.

Respecting Isak’s wishes.



—————


He went back into therapy. His therapist was so happy for him when he told her about her trip. All the way up until he told her about Isak and the separation and the cancer.

“Why did you sign the papers Even?”

“Because it’s what Isak wanted.”

“But did you want to?”

“I… No. But I wanted to respect his decision, like he respected mine.”

“Even-“

“A mutual friend of ours, who's also a therapist, asked me a question the other day, right before I signed.”

“And what was that?”

“If I could have handled it. I said I should never have left. And then she asked me if I would have been able to handle it if I didn’t. And I realised I couldn't have. I’m still not sure if I could handle another round of him having cancer. Which is why I signed. I’m a nutcase and he doesn't need that.”

“You’re not.”

“Yes.”

“No Even. You're not a nutcase. You have your issues, but you are a perfectly normal person with extraordinary talents and and illness that sometimes messes you up a little. But you're not a nutcase.”

———-

He often meet Magnus and William for coffee. They talked about life, their jobs. Never Isak. It was nice, having friends other than Adam.

He also spent a lot of time running with Buddy or staying at his parent’s place. And painting.

——


FROM MAGNUS TO EVEN

We’re going clubbing tonight. Isak will be there though. But you can just hang out with me and William, with any luck you and Isak won’t even see each other.


FROM EVEN TO MAGNUS

Where? I’ll consider it.


Magnus texted him the address. He debated back and forwards, trying to figure out if he should go or not. In the end, he decided to go. Maybe he could get a drink with Magnus and William and just stay away from Isak.

Entering the club, the bass was pulsing. People were standing along the walls to talk, dancing in the middle of the room. He spotted Magnus and started walking over.

“Hey man.”

“Hey!” Magnus cheered and pushed a glass of beer into his hands. “Have a sip!”

Even laughed, took a sip and handed the glass back. Just as he was about to go over to the bar and buy his own glass, he spotted Isak out on the dance floor, dancing alone. 

 


I look into the window of my mind

Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind


Even didn't believe in faith. But the chances of this song getting played, just as he and Isak locked eyes, was next to zero.

 

 

I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I'm on my way, can't stop me now

And you can do the same, yeah

 


Even walked over to Isak and Isak walked over to him as well. They met in the middle of the dance floor. Neither said a word. They started dancing, slowly at first, then faster as they realised their movements fit perfectly.

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

It's never too late to try

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

Still so many answers I don't know (there are so many answers)

Realise that to question is how we grow (to question is to grow)

 

 

 

They danced closer and closer. So close they were almost touching. But they never did. Isak turned around, kept dancing close but not touching.

 

 

 

So I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I'm on my way, can't stop me now

You can do the same, yeah

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

It's never too late to try

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

(Yeah) We need a change (yeah)

Do it today (yeah)

I can feel my spirit rising

(Change, yeah) We need a change (yeah)

So do it today (yeah)

'Cause I can see a clear horizon

 


He desperately wanted to reach out, grab Isak’s hips. Turn him around and kiss him. But he didn’t. Maybe if he had drunk a bit more first.

Respect Isak’s wishes.

Isak turned around again, and their eyes met again. They had danced to this song once before. The setting had been different, but somehow he still got deja vu feeling from it. Last time had been more touchy, but this time still felt more intimate.

 

 

 

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

(To make you feel proud, yeah

Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya)

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

'Cause you could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

What have you done today (to make you feel proud?

Yeah, let me hear ya, What have you done today, What have you done today)

What have you done today to make you feel proud? (oh yeah, yeah...)

You could be so many people

Just make that break for freedom

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?


When the song ended Even automatically leaned forwards to kiss Isak, but Isak pushed away and vanished into the crowd. Even turned around to see his friends follow him. He felt so confused right now. The look in Isak’s eyes, the way they had dances, he could still feel the love between them.

But Isak has asked for a separation. Isak didn't believe Even has strong enough to handle it if Isak got sick again. Isak didn't believe in him.

And he was probably right. Yes, Even was rid of his panic attacks and nightmares, but he was still bipolar and he still had issues with accepting that he almost lost Isak to cancer.

And now he was losing him for real. They were getting a divorce. It had been almost a year and Isak hadn't reached out to him once. William and Magnus said he was still set on the divorce. It was really over.

The papers wasn't signed yet, but standing there in the middle of the dance floor, Even realised it. It was really over. Isak wouldn't change his mind.

He decided to go get that beer now.


———————

Going to dinner at his mother’s was becoming a regular thing now. He was pretty sure she just wanted to make sure he didn't do anything stupid, or forget to eat.

Puling in to the parking lot outside his parents building, he saw Isak’s car leaving.

When he questioned his mother about it, she simply shrugged, not telling him anything. Turning to his father, he raised his eyebrows.

“Isak have no parents left but us. Soon your divorce papers will be arriving and then he won’t even have us. I think he just needed to see us one last time.” Anders said calmly.

“But he can keep seeing you even if we’re not married anymore.”

“I don’t think he feels like that would be okay by you.”

“I-“

“Even. You two need to talk. I think the both of you have your own version of what is going on between you and why. Just… try and reach out to him?”

“Yeah. I. Yeah. Okay.”

“Good.” His father patted him on the back. “Let’s eat.”




After dinner he decided to send Isak a text message. He didn't know what to write. He never seemed to do. But then he remembered these song lyrics, to a song Isak had introduced him to a long time ago.



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you

And long after you're gone, gone, gone

I love you long after you're gone gone gone




Just to let Isak know that he still loved him, no matter what.


———————


Four days later he got the papers in the mail. Divorce papers. He looked at them, and then just put them on the kitchen counter. Next to Isak’s ring and keys. He still hadn't moved them. He didn't think he ever could. He just pushed them from side to side when he was cleaning, and putting them carefully back where Isak had left them.

He stared at it. The papers, laying next to the ring and the keys. And then he broke down crying. It was final. Two tiny signatures was all that’s left to do, and nearly ten years of relationship was over. Just those tiny signatures left to end Isak and Even.

Then it would be just Even. Alone. Without Isak.

-

He stayed up all night. Painted the image of the papers and the ring and the keys.

Painted their wedding ceremony from what he could remembered. Walked the streets with Buddy for hours, visiting the spots that used to be his and Isak’s favourite spots.

He knew Isak was right to ask for this divorce. He knew he was no good for Isak. Isak needed someone strong, someone who could take care of him if he got sick again. He didn't need to take care of Even on top of being sick.

Still, it hurt. They had spent two years apart and Even still loved Isak with every fibre in his body. Yes, he had learned who to be on his own. Who he was and what he wanted to do in life. And part of that was being with Isak.

But you can’t force someone to love you.


—————




The next morning he woke up to the buzzing of his phone.




FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 09.30

Can we meet?


Even was surprised at this, but at the same time not. He suspected Isak had gotten the papers at the same time as he did. And they had to meet to sign the papers.

And maybe, if Even was lucky, he would finally get the reason, the answer to why. But in his head, he was pretty sure he had figured it out. It was because Isak needed someone stronger than Even. Because Isak needed someone he could depend on. Because Isak didn't love him anymore.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 09.37

Of course. When?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 09.40

I get of work at eight pm.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 10.01

Bench at Utsikten?


They had been up there a few times. William had showed him the spot once, telling him that he took Noora to their first date there, drinking hot chocolate.

Even and Isak often went up there to watch the city sleep when Even couldn’t.

They had used to do a lot of things together. This would be the last ting.



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 11.09

See you there.


————


When Even got there, Isak was there already. Even had brought the divorce papers; he could see Isak had as well. This was it then.

He walked over and sat down next to Isak, not too close. They sat in silence. Even waited for Isak to speak. For a long while he didn’t. And Even’s head raced a million miles per hour. Why didn't Isak say anything? Maybe he was waiting for Even to say something, to be angry? But Even wasn’t. He was just sad. And he didn't know what to say. So he sat there, breathed in the scent of Isak and let if consume him.

If this was the last time Even would see Isak, he was going to cherish the moment, remember it well. He wanted time to stop. He wanted to linger in this second forever. Them sitting here, on this bench, in silence. He wanted Isak to never speak. Because when he did, it would be final. It would be over.


But the thing about time is; it never stops. You can’t stop it. And suddenly the moment passed, and Isak just turned his head to Even. “I’m not ready yet.” he said shorty, before tearing his copy of the documents in two and getting up from the bench.

Even was surprised, to say the least. Wasn't this why Isak had texted him? Because he was ready to sign the papers? He felt so confused. But then, for a moment, he locked eyes with Isak, and he saw pain and love and desperation there as well, like a mirror of his own feelings. And he realised, maybe Isak wasn't so sure after all. Maybe there was a tiny peck of hope for them.

“I need some time. I’ll text you.” Isak said softly, hesitating before he bent forwards and placed a soft kiss on Even’s cheek. It was the closest they had been in over two years. Even wanted to linger in the moment forever. He closed his eyes, breath getting caught in his throat. He was about to say something, anything, but he just didn't know what. He opened his eyes, ready to ask the only question that had been on his mind this past year.


But then Isak was gone and Even was sitting there alone, on that bench, holding his own copy of the divorce documents.

What had it meant, Isak ripping them up? Was he willing to give them another chance? Or was he just not ready to sign because of something else? Even looked down at the documents. He despised them.

In a fit of rage, he tore them to pieces. If Isak really wanted a divorce they could just print out new ones. Even knew he didn't want a divorce. But if Isak wanted it, he would sign the papers. He would do anything for Isak.

Including waiting.





And he did.






It took two months before he received the text.

 



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 18.16

Can we meet at lunch tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

 


With shaky hands he typed out ‘yes’.

 

 

 



You only know what I want you to

I know everything you don't want me to

Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine

You think your dreams are the same as mine

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

I always will

 

I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back

The less I give the more I get back

Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise

I don't have a choice but I'd still choose you

 

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

Oh I don't love you but I always will

 

I always will

I always will

I always will

I always will

I always will

Chapter Text

 

 

EVEN’S POV

 



It's been a long day without you, my friend

And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again

We've come a long way from where we began

Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again

When I see you again






FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 18.16

Can we meet at lunch tomorrow?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 18.26

Yes.

———-


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 10.30

Got pulled into an emergency surgery I can’t get out of, so can’t make lunch.
When can we reschedule?

FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 10.32

Tomorrow?

FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 10.33

Teaching all day :(

FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 10.34

How about dinner tonight - whenever you get off? Just text me when you know what time you get off and I will have dinner ready.



He knew it was a bold move. Asking Isak to come over to his place. But if the answer was a simple no, he would know. He would know that Isak was going to sign the papers and that it would be over. They would be over. Forever.

Isak didn't reply for a long while. Even got nervous. Had to do something. He started a painting, but lost motivation. Checked his phone. Still no reply.

Fuck it. He took Buddy with him and went for a run. Leaving the phone at home, so he wouldn't obsess the entire run.

It was a nice day out. They took the longer route, enjoying the day.

First thing he did when he got back home was check his phone.

 

 


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 13.17

Sounds perfect. I get of at eight. Text you if that changes.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 15.12

The parking spot next to mine is vacant, you can use that.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 15.20

I don’t have any keys to the garage


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 15.50

… I forgot that part. Call me when you're outside and I’ll open it from inside.

FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 16.01

:)

 



————-

 


Even had learned to cook a few things these past two years, but he settled for something simple he knew that Isak liked; Pasta.

When the clock came closer to eight and Isak still hadn’t texted him about being late, he started setting the plates and finishing up the food. He debated lighting candles, but he feared that would be too bold of a move. He had already pushed it by inviting Isak to come to his house. Who had used to be their house.

His phone rang at 20.06.

“Hey.”

“Hey. Outside. Let me in?”

Even was almost to mesmerised by Isak’s voice to answer. “Yeah” he breathed out, and pressed the garage opener on the wall. “Did it open?”

“Yep. See you in a flash.” and then Isak just hung up.

Three minutes later the doorbell rung. Even opened the door, feeling some strange kind of deja vu. Back before they became a couple, they had been standing just like this. Only reversed; Even had stood outside Isak’s door.

And they didn't end up kissing this time. Even just stepped aside, Isak entered, and after removing his jacket and shoes, they walked into the kitchen together.

“Wine?” Even offered.

“I’m driving remember?”

“Right.”

“This is the part where you offer me the couch so I can say yes.” Isak joked.

Even wasn't sure what to respond. Isak was flirting with him. Or wasn't he? After all this time, it felt like nothing had changed, but at the same time; everything had changed.

“Well, you can, but I figured that would be too forward of me.” Even managed to reply.

Isak responded by lifting his wineglass, saying he would accept a glass. “When we’re done talking the alcohol will have left my system anyway.” Isak simply answered at Even’s raised eyebrows.

They finished the meal with smalltalk. About the whether and the news and some small stuff about Isak’s job. About Even’s splinted wrist and if it had healed nicely (it had) (Isak double-checked, just to be sure, and Even could feel butterflies in his stomach when Isak touched his skin).

They ended up walking into the living room, sitting on the couch and drinking more wine. Isak said he could just take a cab home.

After a while, Even grew bored of the small talk. Restless. He loved talking to Isak again, but he wanted to do the talk they needed to. He wanted to know certain things and he wanted to know whether Isak intended to sign the papers or not.

“What I want to know Isak, is why.” he just said, breaking out from the topic they just were talking about.

“Why what?” Isak asked, naturally not keeping up with the sudden jump Even had done.

“Why did you send me those papers?”

Isak looked like a kicked puppy. “Even-“

“Look.” he calmed himself, because he needed to say this, without raising his voice in frustration. “I get why you never told me you were sick again. I mean, when I first heard about it I got really frustrated. But then Sana told me some words of wisdom.”

“What did she say?”

“I said I should never have left. She asked me whether I would have been able to handle being here. And I realised I wouldn't have. Not in that state of mind I was in back then. So you not telling me? I feel selfish to say this, but I’m thankful. I wouldn't ever have been able to recover if I had stayed or if you had called me and told me.”

Isak didn't say anything this time.

“But after your mother died, I wished you would have called me instead of sending me those papers. Because by then I was better, I could have handle hearing it all. Yes, I would have reacted to the fact that you kept it from me for so long, but I would have been able to handle it and stay by your side. I could have been there for you. But instead you filed for separation. And I’m not mad. I haven't been mad once. I just want to know why.”

He could see Isak struggling to take this in. Probably struggling to come up with a version he deemed ‘safe’ for Even to hear. “Isak? The truth please. No sugarcoating. I can handle it. I’m okay.”

He saw Isak take a deep breath and nodding slowly.

“My mother dying-“ he begun, and Even saw tears in his eyes at those words, saw his breath hitch in his throat, “it- it made me realise one thing. It made me realise that I couldn't watch that happen to you.”

“You think I would kill myself?”

“The place you were in before you left made me think of that as a possibility. I’ll probably keep getting cancer my entire life Even. And seeing how badly it broke you the first time… I knew that I couldn't put you through it again and again and again. When she killed herself… I just lost it. And I knew that this cancer, it would ruin you too. And I didn't want that. So I don’t actually have one single reason, one easy explanation for you. Other than this; I loved you so much I couldn't bear the thought of watching what happened to my mother, happen to you too.”

Even waited for him to say more, but he didn’t. He though about what Isak had told him. Then he realised one thing. “You said loved. Does that mean you don’t me anymore?”

“I… I don’t really know Even. I haven't seen you for two years, but still my heart does this weird thing. I know I care for you. I know I’m not ready to give us up after all. But I need time to find out whether I still love you.”

“I get that. I understand it. I would say I feel the same, but i don’t. I know I still love you. I probably always will.”

“Even…”

“Sorry. I just. I still don’t get it. Why you didn't even try to contact me once the past year. Not a single time. And you just assumed I wouldn't be able to handle it. You never once gave me the chance to try. You never gave me the chance to decide whether I wanted to be there or not. You just shut me out, completely. And yes, I could have reached out too. But you were the one filing for separation, so I figured that you didn't want me to reach out. But it hurt Isak. It still hurts.”

“I needed to find out if I could do it on my own. Life. Without being sick and needing care I mean. I needed to figure out if I could live on my own, without you.” Isak said softly. “And I realised I could.”

 


Even felt his heart drop. Isak had used the year to do some of the same things Even had done himself. Figure out his life. Only that Even had ended up figuring he didn't want a life without Isak, whereas Isak obviously had realised the opposite. He felt like he couldn't breathe. He got a sudden urge to bolt from his place on the couch but he found he had frozen. So this was it. Isak had come over to sign the divorce papers. He had come over to end it.


“Even.” Isak’s voice brought him back to reality. “Even, you kind of spaced out on me there.”

Even blinked hard to force back the tears and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, I just-“

“Did you hear that last part?” Isak said, putting his wineglass on the table and leaning forward, placing a hand on Even’s face. Even’s stomach did that butterfly-thing again.

Even just shook his head quietly. If he had missed something or if he hadn't didn't matter, he needed Isak to repeat it, to know it was real. He needed to hear it one more time.

“I said, I realised that I could live without you.” Isak’s voice was soft. Too soft for such harsh words.

Even felt the tears pressing harder and tried to withdraw from Isak. But Isak grabbed his face with both hands.

“But I don’t want to.” Isak whispered, kissing Even’s cheek softly.

“W-What?” Even gasped as Isak pulled away.

“I don’t want to live without you, Even.”

“I-“

“We need to work on our way back to each other, but I have realised one thing these past two years.”

“And that is?”

“Time is precious and I don’t want to waste another minute being separated from you.”


———


Isak ended up staying the night. They both slept on the couch, fully clothed and wrapped up in each others arms.

They woke up the next morning by Isak’s cellphone ringing. Even groaned when he had to move so that Isak could reach his phone.

“Dr. Valtersen Næsheim speaking.” he could hear that Isak was just as grumpy over the phone call as him, his voice thick with sleep. “Yeah. No. If it’s emergent you need to call someone else. Why? Because I’m in no condition to drive for another three hours or so. Oh so he’s demanding now? Then it will have to wait. Yes. Sure. Be there around two.” then Isak hung up and collapsed back onto Even’s chest… only to sit up quickly again, eyes wide in terror. “Shit!”

When he scrambled to his feet, Even felt his heart sink. Had it been the wine talking last night? Maybe Isak hadn't meant any of it?

“I forgot to call and say that I wouldn't come home!” Isak squealed and as Even realised that his reason for reacting like that only was because he hadn't called and let Eva know he wasn't coming home, he couldn't help but laugh. “Stop laughing!” Isak said, grabbing his phone again, texting someone. Probably Eva.

Even got to his feet, and started walking towards the kitchen. Halting for a minute, he turned around and looked at Isak. “Breakfast?”

Isak looked up from his phone and gave him one of the brightest smiles Even had ever seen. “I’d love some.”


———

They ate breakfast. After sheepishly asking to borrow some clothes Isak went into the shower. Even tidied up while Isak showered. He was glad he had left Buddy at his parents place the day before. Meant he didn't need to have any bad feelings about them sleeping so late.

When Isak came out of the shower, Even couldn't help himself. He just went straight over and kissed him. Isak just kissed him back and for a few seconds it felt like things were back to normal. Back to how it was years ago. When Even wasn't sick and they were still Even and Isak.

But when the kiss ended so did the delusion. He opened his eyes, expecting to find Isak pulling away. He didn’t. He hugged Even, and Even hugged him right back.

“We need to talk more Even. We have been absolutely horrible at communication these past two years, probably even before that. I don’t suggest we do couple therapy, but I think we need more talks like the one last night. We need to figure out where to go from here.”

“I know. And I want that. I want us to talk. Whenever you're ready.” Even said, hugging Isak tightly. He smelled like Even’s shampoo, but he still smelled like Isak as well. He never wanted to ever let go again. But he had to.

“I need to leave for work. But one last thing before I go…” Isak tailed off.

“Anything.” Even breathed out.

“Can I have my ring back?”


——-


Before Isak had left, they had a short but serious talk.

“You know we can’t just jump back into things, right?” Isak had said.

Even had nodded. He knew that. Of course he knew that. They had been apart for two years.

“And it might not work out this time. We have changed.” Isak continued.

Even felt pain hearing him say those words. But they were true. Maybe that’s why they were so painful.

“But you're willing to give us a chance?” Even asked carefully, his voice sounding weaker than he had intended.

Isak held up his hand, showing him the wedding ring as he smiled. “Yes Even.”

Then Isak’s phone had beeped again. “I have to go. But maybe we can talk again tonight?”

“Isak Valtersen are you asking me out on a second date so soon?” Even teased.

“Technically it would be a first date since we only talked after dinner yesterday. And you know that’s not my full name. And talking at your apartment isn't really a date.”

“I know.” Even laughed, but then stopped. “It’s still our apartment. Unless you have signed the papers..”

“I haven’t. And I won’t. Not until we have given us another chance.”

“Neither will I.”

“I’ll text you when I’m done. It’s technically my day of, but I have learned to accept that I never really have free time.” Isak laughed, rolling his eyes.

“Do that. Drive carefully.” Love you, he wanted to add. But it was soon.

“See you.” Isak smiled, and with that, he was out the door.


It was only after Isak left that Even realised that none of Isak’s smiles had reached his eyes. There was something more, something else Isak hadn't told him. And he got the feeling it was heavy and hard.


————-


For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come.

Until my day, my day is done.

And say you'll come, and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

Chapter Text

 

ISAK’S POV



Just lay down with me before you go

It's the wrong thing I know

But I don't know when I will see you again

And it gets so lonely

 

You'd be be foolish if you stayed here now

Maybe if you leave we can work it out

Cause I know the city only breaks you down

And it gets you lonely

Yeah, it's gonna get lonely

 

You miss the feeling when you step outside

And then your mind comes all untied

And then you open up your eyes

And you don't feel lonely

 

And it feels bad now but it's gonna get better

Someday



Isak stared at the papers in front of him. Was he really doing this? Was he really signing?

He had been sitting at his desk, staring at them for an hour now. Debating back and forwards.

There was a knock on his door. “Dr. Valtersen Næsheim? We need you in consult room five.”

“Coming.” he said, signing the freaking document and folding it, putting it in an envelope and leaving it with the mail in the reception on his was to consult room five.

 


———



Things with him and Even was up and down. Even had a new perspective on the world now, and some days Isak felt like he didn't know him at all. Other days he was like his old self. Isak found himself kind of liking this. Learning new things about Even every day.

But he still had this nagging feeling, like he was going to ruin Even again.

 

They had gone out to dinner four times now, and lunch every now and then (if Isak could get out of this goddamn hospital. Having picked up extra shifts for so long had backfired, now they paged him all the time).

Even came with him to visit his parents gravestone. Isak cried and Even held him. It was nice, to have someone hold him as he cried. Someone other than Jonas and Eva.

Afterwards, Even came home with him and ate dinner with him, Eva and Jonas. Eva was chatting away with Even, asked about his travels. Jonas was quiet, but he looked happy for them.

“You’re coming to our wedding?” Jonas asked when there was a break between topics.

“You guys are getting married?” Even asked with excitement. Shit, Isak had forgotten to tell him.

“Yeah. In four months.” Jonas smiled.

“I… forgot to tell you.” Isak said sheepishly. “Can I blame the fact that they cut my head open twice?” he joked, and the other three flinched. “Okay, no cancer joke then. Sorry. Not sorry.” He laughed, and after exchanging weird looks, the other three shared a forces laugh.

“But yeah, I’ll come.” Even said.

“You’re my plus one.” Isak smiled.

“So I don’t even get my own invitation?” Even joked with him.

“You can share one.” Eva said, smiling at them.

“That we can.” Isak said.

It was a good day.

———-


A few days later they were arguing. “You can’t just say stuff like that Isak!”

“What? That I might die?”

“Yes!”

“Why not Even?”

“Because you sound like you want to!”

“Maybe I do!”

“… what?”

“Some days. Some days I want to. Just so I won’t get cancer again.”

“Isak.”

“Whatever. I need to go back to work now. Thanks for lunch.”

And then he stormed out of Even’s apartment, hurrying back to work.


———

He got the papers back in the mail. The request was granted. He pushed them into his bag as he left for work. They were eating dinner at Even’s parents place today. And he was late.

But he had a valid excuse, having a patient rushed into emergency surgery. She had made it, luckily. But he had needed to stay an extra hour until another surgeon could come and take over the post-op watch.

“Sorry I’m late.” he said as he walked in the door and got tackled by the dog. Petting it while he took of his jacket and shoes, he put his bag down and pulled out the document. He placed it in the middle of the table so Anders, Lisa and Even could see.

 

 

 

 

 


NAME CHANGE GRANTED


From:
ISAK VALTERSEN NÆSHEIM

 

To:
ISAK NÆSHEIM

 


“Isak-“ Even started, and Isak held up his hand.

“I needed to do that. Every time I hear Valtersen it reminds me of the parents I lost. Makes me wanna curl up and scream.”

“But-“

“Your mother and father already said I could so shush.” Isak smiled at him.

Lisa and Anders were smiling too. “Now you're an official Næsheim.”

“I have been that for nearly eight years.” Isak argued with a laugh.

“Yeah, but no double name then.” Lisa laughed.

“Should have added Bech.” Anders joked.

“But.” Even said again. He looked a little shocked. “I. What. Why didn't you tell me?”

“Because you would have argued and I wanted to do this.” Isak said softly.

“I wouldn't have. I won’t.” Even said quickly. “But I just-“ he stopped himself. Maybe he realised that they weren't back at the stadium where they discussed these things yet. “I’m fine with it.” he said instead. “But can I have some time to think about changing mine?”

“Of course.” Isak smiled. He knew he couldn't force Even to change his name. But he wished he would, so that Isak wouldn’t have to see the Valtersen name everywhere.

“Okay. Over to another question. Are any of you having an early morning tomorrow?” Lisa asked.

“On call. Always on freakin’ call.” Isak grumbled. At their curious looks he added “have a critical patient. She might not make it though the night… the surgeon on call now isn't capable of emergency surgery if it comes to it. So I am technically both free and on call.”

He could see them nod. Maybe they though about the night where they were waiting to see whether Isak lived or not.

“So.. I was going to bribe you boys to stay for wine and a movie but then I guess that’s a no?” Lisa said, putting the awkward silence out of it’s misery.

“Yes to the movie and no to the wine?” Isak suggested.

“Yes to both.” Even laughed.

“And will you both stay here?” Anders asked.

Even and Isak looked at each other. They hadn't technically shared a bed in two years. Only that one night on the couch.

“Erhm-“ Even said, and Isak saw him looking unsure. Like he wanted to say yes but was afraid Isak would say no and that it was too soon. And maybe it was.

But he just said “Yes.” anyway, and grabbed Even’s hand.

Isak didn't get called in. He got a text when they were halfway through the movie from his coworker, saying the patient had woken up and was fine. He didn't have any wine anyway. Just in case. But he shared the good news.

-



Laying in Even’s old bedroom together later that night, they laid close but not close enough to touch. Isak realised Even was afraid to touch him. Probably because he was afraid to be rejected. So Isak crawled slowly over to Even, snuggling into his side. He felt Even relax immediately and put his arms around him.

“I’ll change it.” Even said.

“What?”

“My name. I’ll change it.”

“You don’t have to.”

“But I want to. For you.”


Isak smiled, and kissed Even’s cheek. “I love you Even Næsheim.”

“I love you too Isak Næsheim.”



“Why did you say that, about wanting do die?” Even asked him.

Isak thought about it. Debated whether or not Even would be strong enough to hear this. But they had argued about just that a few days ago. About Isak not trusting Even. About Isak keeping the truth from him.

But he had seen it these past few weeks. Even had been slowly becoming more silent, more careful, more sad-looking. Isak knew it. He was toxic to Even. But he had promised to give them a chance. Maybe Even just needed some time to readjust to the situation. Maybe he would be fine this time.

So he decided to just say it straight out, no sugarcoating it. “I can’t do it again.”

“Do what?”

“Have cancer. I can’t do it one more time.”

“What exactly are you trying to say Isak.” He could hear Even’s voice tremble. He probably already knew what Isak meant.

Isak told him anyway.

“If it comes back I won’t have any treatment. I’ll go to Switzerland, to one of those clinics that offers to help you end your life.”

————-


Even had reacted by blocking him out for an entire week. Then he had turned manic.

Lisa had called Isak in the middle of the night, telling him that Even had been found on the highway and brought into the hospital. She asked him to come. And he did. Of course he did.

But Even refused to let him enter the room. At least while he was awake. But seeing as Isak worked In the hospital, he snuck in from time to time while Even was sleeping.

One day, after his shift ended, he went into the room and crawled into bed next to Even, pulling him into his arms.

“Don’t.” Even just whispered. “Don’t make me love you more when you plan on leaving me anyway.”

It broke Isak’s heart. Hearing Even being this broken again. And it was his fault. And this was exactly why he had sent Even those papers in the first place. Because Even had been so much better without him and just a few weeks of them being in each others lives again and here they were; Even breaking down.

Isak debated just leaving the room. Leaving Even alone.

‘In sickness and health’

They had said those words years ago. When he watched his husband now, he thought about those words. About loving each other to the end and til kingdom come. And maybe this was it, for them. Maybe they were at the end. Maybe it was time for them to go separate ways. Maybe that would be better. Maybe it was the right thing.

Isak watched Even. He had realised he still loved him. He had been ready to make this work. But seeing Even now, seeing how bad Even got by being around Isak, made him change his mind again. Isak wasn't good for Even.

So he held Even tight, despite his protests, until he fell asleep, and then he left the room.



——————


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I’m sorry for how I acted in the hospital. Can we meet and talk?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Can’t right now. Busy at work.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

When are you able to? I can make dinner?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Don’t think that’s a good idea.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Why not?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Not over text. We need to talk about it in person. Text you when I’m free.



Isak knew they needed to have this talk. He just wasn't ready.

———-

He got a call one night. The patient that had made it the night he was on call was rushed into an emergency surgery. Isak entered the hospital to find her husband and daughter in the waiting room, eyes bloodshot from crying, but lighting up a little as they saw him.

“She just started throwing up blood.” he husband whispered. Isak knew this wasn't a good sign and he knew from looking at the husband that he knew too. The little girl just cried and asked if her mommy would survive.

Isak promised to do his very best.




The patient died on the table.

———


“How are you today Isak? You and Even finding your way back together?”

“Actually no. I thought we were. I realised I still loved him. Then he got that manic breakdown because of me and I realised that we can’t go back. We can’t go back to being together. We need to sign the papers and move on.”

“Why is it your fault that Even got manic?”

“I told him about my decision. About not fighting if it comes back one more time.”

“You know I don’t approve of that idea either.”

“I know.”

“But for someone like Even, someone who feels so deeply, it would be natural that something like that would happen. He is bipolar Isak. He get’s manic episodes. And maybe you were the trigger this time, but that doesn't mean you should just stay away from him. He needs you. And most importantly you need him.”

“But I don’t. I can do it on my own.”

“You can. But I have watched you these past few weeks. You are so much happier now that you and Even are reconnecting.”

“But I make him sick. And when I get cancer again, and decide to end my life, he will end his to.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Maybe not. But I have a feeling it will happen.”

“Still. Are you going to deny yourself happiness because of things that might not happen?”

“Time is precious right?” he spat at her.

“Yes Isak. It is.”

“And his time is too precious to be wasted like that. Can’t you see it too? He was fine, for two years! Two freakin’ years, and it was only because I wasn't in his life. And now I have been back in it for under a month and this happens. I am toxic to him! So I need to let him go.”

“I think you're scared.”

“Pardon me?”

“You’re scared. You're falling in love with Even again, but you're scared of getting cancer and dying. So you pull yourself away from the situation, in hopes of making it easier on both him and yourself.”

“I-“

“But guess what Isak? Life is scary, and messy, and sometimes really shitty. And we all have to deal with it. I think you should too. Instead of just running away from it.”

Isak didn't answer her. He just got up and left.


———-


“Dr. Næsheim to the ER.” the intercom called. Isak groaned in frustration. He had been working for 20 hours now, and really wanted to go home and just collapse in his bed.

When he got there, one of the nurses pointed him to a room. Someone with a broken bone of some sorts then, since it was one of the orthopaedic rooms. Why couldn't someone else put a cast on an arm or leg or whatever. Isak was tired. And not an orthopaedic surgeon. “Why me?” he asked grumpily, grabbing the chart.

“He refused anyone else.” the nurse answered, looking a little scared.

He looked down at the chart. Even Næsheim. Fuck.

“Family can’t treat family.” Isak said, pushing the journal back.

“I said that. He refuses anyone else to touch him. His parents are in there with him. Just please Isak.”

“It’s against the ethical guidelines Amelia.” he was growing frustrated with her. He wanted to go home and he wanted to stay away from Even.

“Isak. Please. For the love of god.” his boss came up behind him. “Your husband needs you, and I’m approving it. He needs stitches and a cast and do you really want me to have to sedate him in order to do those things or can you please just control your attitude and go do what I ask?”

Isak turned around, and gaped at the man. He had never heard his boss speak like this to him before. “What?” was the only thing he managed to respond.

“We have been arguing with him for hours. We even called in his parents. He is refusing us to treat him, he only wants you. And he needs those stitches and that cast. So please. I am up to my ears in people with injuries already, can you just handle this one?” his boss looked possibly even more exhausted than Isak felt.

“I. For the love of- FINE.” he grabbed the chart. “But if someone reports this and they want to revoke my license, I will blame you.” he hissed at his boss, and started towards the room.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself before he got in, he closed his eyes for a second. He had been avoiding Even for three weeks now. Ignoring calls, texts. Hiding out in his room pretending to be sleeping when Even tried coming over. Eva covered for him, but scolded him about it later.

He figured he should just get it over with, and opened the door. The first thing he saw was his parents (in law) looking worried sick. The second thing his eyes landed on were his husband.

“What the hell Even.” he just blurted out. Even’s wrist was broken again, and he had a nasty cut on his other arm.

“He fell while running.” Anders said shortly.


Isak kept looking at Even. Taking only a second to gather himself, he went over to the cabinet, pulled on gloves and pulled out stuff for stitching up the wound. He told Even to lie down and the other man complied. “You know I can lose my licence for this right? Why the hell are you making a fuss? And why are you running so hard you end up hurting yourself?” Isak couldn't help the harsh tone in his voice. He just had a really bad day.

Or maybe it was the cancer. It had changed him, he knew that. His temper was shorter, making him lash out. He sometimes forgot stuff, stuff he knew how to do before. But mostly it affected his temper and filter. He got angrier easier, he got sad easier. He said stuff before thinking. He hated it.

“I’m sorry.” Even whispered, and then he was crying.

Isak couldn't stand Even crying, and quickly changed his attitude, mentally scolding himself. “Hey. It’s okay. Just breathe, okay?” he started cleaning the wound. “I need to stitch this up, and your other arm needs a cast, but I am off work after this and I will take you home and we will talk. Okay?”

Even nodded, and Isak begun working quickly.

“Isak.” he heard Lisa behind him. He turned his head quickly and faced her. “Thank you.” she whispered, but she wouldn't meet his eyes. He just nodded, then continued his work.

When Even was both stitched up and had gotten a cast on, Isak just made them wait in the room while he filled out the paperwork.

He placed his boss as the doctor doing the work, because of the ethical reason. And then he went and changed, before going back to get Even and his parents.

Only to find out they had left.

He pulled out his phone, finding a text from Lisa,

 



FROM LISA TO ISAK

Your behaviour right now confuses him Isak. We took him straight to his therapist. Maybe you should figure out what you want before you talk to Even again. He loves you so much but this back and forwards thing is killing him. Please call me if you need to talk. I love you.


 



He stuffed his phone back into his pocket and went outside.

Getting into his car, he drove right to Sana’s place.

 

 

—-

 



“I have decided what to do.” he told her as soon as he entered the office.

“About the divorce?” she asked calmly.

“Yeah.”

“And what is your decision?”







Wish that you could build a time machine

So you could see

The things no one can see

Feels like you're standing on the edge

Looking at the stars

And wishing you were them

 

What do you do when a chapter ends?

Do you close the book and never read it again?

Where do you go when your story's done?

You can be who you were or who you'll become

If it all goes wrong

Darling just hold on

 

The sun goes down and it comes back up

The world it turns no matter what

If it all goes wrong

Darling, just hold on

 

Chapter Text

 

LISA’S POV

 

 

I n our family portrait we look pretty happy

We look pretty normal, let's go back to that

In our family portrait we look pretty happy

Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally






Lisa had decided ever since Even went on his trip, that she would not interfere between her son and his husband. They were both her children, but they were also adults. She hadn't interfered when they had signed the separation. She hadn't interfered when Isak kept the cancer a secret. She hadn't interfered when Isak and Even didn't speak for an entire year.

But now, she had to. Coming home after work, finding her son in the bathroom, a razor slicing his wrist open, the one without the cast on, blood everywhere and tears rolling down his face.

Next to him was a bundle of documents. She made out “Divorce settlement” on the top and Isak’s neat signature on the bottom. And then she bolted into action, calling the ambulance at the same time as she tried to press the wound closed. Even was conscious, barely, mumbling over and over that Isak didn't love him anymore and that this was the only way to remove the pain.

She held his hand the entire ride to the hospital.


——


Sitting in the waiting room, waiting for news, waiting for Anders to come, she was holding onto the divorce papers. They were covered in blood. Just like her own clothes. She had worn white that day.

The nurses asked her if she wanted them to page Isak when they first came in. She had refused. But now, after sitting here for a little while, she realised it was time for her to interfere.

It Isak wanted a divorce that was fine, but why had he gone back to Even, made him a promise to try and work it out, and then suddenly filed for the divorce after all? He knew Even couldn't take stress like this.

Granted, Lisa hadn't expected Even to try and kill himself. He had been so much better this past year. She grabbed hold of a passing nurse, asking if she could page Isak after all, so she could talk to him.

 



Twenty minutes later, the same nurse came back and asked Lisa to follow her - Isak had just came out of surgery and was in his office.

When she walked in, she wanted to yell at him. But when he saw her, blood all over her clothes and the papers in her hand, she realised he didn't need her yelling to understand the situation, understand how badly he had fucked up right now.

“Is he-“ Isak started, but couldn't finish.

“In surgery.” Lisa answered.

He motioned for her to sit, understanding that she was there to say more than just this.

It felt weird. Sitting opposite him in this office. He looked so strong, sitting on the other side of this desk. But when she met his eyes, she could see this wasn't the case. Isak was only strong on the outside.


They sat in silence, both waiting for the other to speak. Or maybe Isak was trying to process what had happened. Lisa figured she would have to be the one to speak first. After all, she was the one who had wanted to have this talk.

“Why?” she begun, and held up the papers.

She could see the pained expression on his face. The guilt. The sorrow. The heartbreak. “I thought you guys were going to give it a try, and then you just signed?”

He was shaking his head. “I- It’s not exactly like that Lisa.”

“Then what? Can you please give me whatever other explanation there is for this?”

“I’m toxic to him.”

“What do you mean?”

“We have been on speaking terms for a month now. Seeing each other a few times. Shared a bed once. And I already see him spiralling back. You probably have too. Being with me makes him sick. All he thinks about when he sees me is the cancer and how awful things were. I figured it would be better for him this way, but I never anticipated…” she could see how distressed he was. Probably just as bad as her. Neither had expected this.

“But you can work your way through that Isak. He is in a better place now, with some help he can overcome it-“

“I told him I wouldn't fight the cancer if it comes back a third time.”

“You- What?!”

“I told him I can’t do it again. Because I can’t, Lisa. If it’s back when I have my scan tomorrow, I will refuse treatment, and when I get sick enough, I will go to Switzerland and end my life.”

“Isak.”

“I can’t do it again Lisa. I have been over and over this with Sana. She doesn't approve - I know you won’t either. But I can’t keep living like this. If the cancer doesn't come back I want to live - I’m not suicidal. But if it comes back I don’t have the strength for another fight.”

She didn't know what to say to him. She was completely blindsided by this. She had never expected those words. But it all clicked in her mind. The divorce made sense now. Of course Isak wanted Even to move on and forget about him so that if the cancer came back and Isak died, the impact on Even wouldn't be as strong.

But on the other hand - she knew that wouldn't work. She had just witness her son nearly die - because he had gotten divorce papers. Papers he probably had been expecting. But really getting them had just pushed him over the edge.

She had thought Even was better. And for the most part, he was. But with Isak, he was so consumed by love if was tearing him apart.

“I… i don’t know what to say Isak. I won’t tell you what to do. But whether you divorce him or end up dying - both will destroy Even. He loves you with his whole soul. He can’t handle you rejecting him, or leaving him. Willingly or not. I know this is a though choice for you. But he is laying on an operation table in this building now because you wrote your name on this papers-“ she waved with them “so I think it’s safe to say he won’t live through losing you for real. You dying - he can’t take that.”

Isak just nodded mutely at her. “That’s why i signed.”

“But why didn't you wait until after your scan? There’s still a possibility you won’t get cancer again, and what is holding you back from Even then?” She knew he had postponed the scan several times now. She couldn't even remember when it was now.

“The fact that he get’s sicker and sicker every minute he spends with me. The fact that we have both changed. The fact that all those brain surgeries have messed me up - I can’t be the person he needs anymore-“

“Of course you can!”

“No. I can’t Lisa. I get snappy, irritated, I have crazy mood-swings and I blurt stuff out, stuff he can’t handle hearing, because I have changed. I have become someone else. I have become someone Even doesn't need in his life.”

She looked at him. Really looked at him. He looked so vulnerable, broken. He had no spark in his eye anymore. But he was still Isak.

“You have both changed. People change, grow, evolve and adapt. You have spent two years apart. It will take time to figure each other out again. I know you’re afraid of getting cancer again. But you might not. And Even needs you.”

“He needs the person I used to be.”

“He needs any version of you.” she got up from her chair. She didn't think they were getting anywhere in this discussion, so it was time to leave. “If you scans comes back clean - or if they don’t, please call me at least Isak. You're kind of my son you know.” When he nodded she placed the papers on his desk.

“As for Even - I want you to think this through. He loves you. You love him. The rest will work itself out. I know it will. You just have to want it enough.”

And then she left his office, and went out to the waiting area, finding her husband. He opened his arms for her, and she melted into his embrace, crying.

When she gathered herself, she told him about everything. The papers, Isak’s decision to not fight a third time. And Anders just held her, and said that thing would work out. They always did.


————-

They let her and Anders come into Even’s room as soon as he was out of surgery. He had been lucky - they had managed to get to the hospital just in time. Stitches and blood transfusion and now he was in the psychiatric unit, on a 72 hour suicidal hold.

They had even cuffed him to the bed. Just in case, they had told Lisa. She was confused; they had pumped him so full of drugs that he wouldn't be able to try it again. Not anytime soon.

Anders left around midnight, one of them had to go home to the dog and Anders had an important meeting in the morning. He didn't want to leave but Lisa forced him. Even was stable for now. They would call him if anything changed.


Lisa must have fallen asleep at one point, because suddenly she was awoken by the sound of someone entering the room and when she checked her watch, she could see it was four am in the morning.

She looked to see who was in the room an was surprised to see Isak reading of the monitors and making notes in Even’s chart.

“I thought family couldn't treat family?” she said, somewhat sarcastic. She couldn't help it.

Isak turned around quickly, meeting her eye. “Huge car crash, every hand on deck in the ER. I’ve been working for 20 hours so I can’t operate on any more patients. And taking down vitals and doing a suicide checkup on a drugged down patient isn't that complicated.” he shrugged and turned back around.

She understood his tone of voice; she hadn't exactly been very nice to him now or earlier.

“Isak-“

“Save it Lisa. I’m sorry I woke you and if you don’t want me in here anymore I can find someone else. I get it, it’s fine.” he put down the chart and made his way over to the door. She could see tears in his eyes. He never wanted this to happen, she knew that. But she was so angry at him.

“Wait.” she blurted out. When he stopped she motioned to the chair beside her. He sat down, hesitantly.

“I have more patients, can’t stay long.” he said, his tone softer this time.

“Isak.” Lisa begun. “I know you love him. I know he deeply loves you.”

“Lisa, I can’t. It will break him into tiny pieces and this time a trip around the world wont fix him.”

“It might not come back Isak.”

“I have a feeling it will.”

“Don’t give up yet. Don’t give up until the end.”

“I’m trying not to.” Isak’s pager started to beep. “I need to go.”

He got up, hesitated, before walking over and kissing Even’s forehead. Then he left, and soon after Lisa fell back asleep.


————


When sunlight filled the room she woke again, to find her son awake this time. He was staring out of the window.

“Hey Even.” she said, getting to her feet, walking over to him.

He didn't reply. He didn't move. He didn't even register that she was there.

She sat down next to him. Tried to grab his hand. He quickly withdrew it.

“Even, is there anything I can do for you?”

He turned his head slowly, looking at her. His eyes were blank, his expression feelingless. “Not unless you can magically cure Isak of cancer and make him love me again.” Then he turned his head back again, and no matter what anyone said for the rest of the day, he just kept staring out of that window, unresponsive.


————

Isak did the night check again. He had probably heard about Even’s state of mind and didn't try to speak to Lisa. He just handed her a new copy of the divorce settlement, this copy signed as well, and gave her an apologising look before he left.


————-

While sitting in the hospital, Lisa had a lot of time to think. And the more she thought about it, the more she realised that Isak was so much like his father. He was completely convinced that he was the reason for his spouse being ill.

She remembered one time she and Anders had been talking with Terje, during the years when things were good. It had been a family dinner and they had probably been drinking a bit too much. Marianne and the boys had gone to bed. But Lisa, Anders and Terje had sat up talking.

And suddenly, he had just started talking about why he had left Marianne and Isak all those years ago. He said it was because he could feel it, he could feel how he affected Marianne. He felt like he was the one making her sicker.


She knew how hard this had been on Isak. It had formed him in ways that couldn't be undone. He had moved out at 17. Well, more like ran away. He had been raised in a broken home, not only because his father left, but because things had been unstable between Marianne and Terje ever since the kids were little. “We should never have had kids.” Terje had admitted. Lisa felt her heart sink just thinking about this.



I ran away today, ran from the noise, ran away

Don't wanna go back to that place, but don't have

no choice, no way

It ain't easy growin up in World War III

Never knowin what love could be, well I've seen

I don't want love to destroy me like it did my

family



But after Isak got sick, he realised that while he might have been part of the reason she was sick, she still needed him, and he needed her. She had really bad days around him, but when things were good they were really good.

He had regretted losing so much time with her, especially in the end. And she could see it in Isak now, that he was heading down the same path. Only difference; Isak is also sick. Which makes the setting slightly more complicated. But love is complicated.

Life is complicated.

 


In our family portrait we look pretty happy

We look pretty normal, let's go back to that

In our family portrait we look pretty happy

Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally

 


—————


They had decided to prolong Even’s psychiatric hold. When the 72 hours ended they decided to keep him for another 72 hours. Lisa was kind of relieved. She wasn't ready to take him home yet. He still hadn't spoken a word anyone since that first morning.

His therapist came by once a day and sat with him for an hour. She couldn't get him to talk either.

Lisa didn't know what to do. She was at a loss. She needed someone to talk to, other than her husband. She needed a new perspective.

Pulling out her phone, she called a number she hadn't called in years.

“Hello?”

“Hey. Can we meet? I need your help. It’s Even.”


——————




Sitting at the coffee shop, waiting, Lisa debated if this had been the right call or not. But before she had the chance to change her mind, a body sat down across from her. She looked up and meet her brother’s eyes. They were the exact same colour as Even’s.

 

Growing up, Lisa had two brothers. They were twins. One of them, Tom, died when Even was young. Kim was now sitting in front of her.

They had become estranged a few years after Tom died. Kim had tried to tell her that there was something about Even, long before he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She had refused, gotten mad and cut him out of her life. But years later it turned out he had been right. She had just never been strong enough to admit she had been wrong.

“Hey Kim.”

“Hello sister. So. I have to say I was surprised to hear from you.” he smiled, but when he took another look at her, the smile fell. “What’s going on Lisa?”

And then she told him everything. From when Even first got diagnosed, to meeting Isak, to Isak almost dying, to everything that had happened since then. They sat there for hours, Kim never interrupted her. They got coffee and refills. And Lisa told him every single thing.

She had expected an “I told you so.” about the bipolar. But her brother remained silent for a long time after she was finished talking.

“Lisa. I have never met this Isak kid, but from what I gather, both you and Even love him very much. And he loves you guys back. But put yourself in his shoes for just a second. He has fought cancer twice. It might come back. His husband left him for a year, and then they spent another year separated because of it. Seeing Even getting sick again the minute they got back together - I understand why he feels like he is toxic to Even. But that’s how it is with bipolar disease. It’s ups and downs and changes in routine escalate that. And hearing that the person you love with your entire soul doesn't want to fight to live anymore is hard enough on a person without bipolar disorder. So I can see Isak’s view.” he took a sip of his coffee.

“But you should hold on to those papers and wait. Wait until that scan, wait until they know for sure whether the possibility of the cancer coming back is real. If it is, then you just forge Even’s signature. He will maybe be angry at you for it, but he can’t handle signing those papers himself right now. He will forgive you, eventually. But if Isak is healthy, if the possibility of getting cancer again isn't as high, you need to try again. You need to sit down with him and talk to him. Tell him that he knew what kind of person he married and that part of the vows read “in sickness and in health”. Even needs Isak, and if Isak actually loves him he should fight for him and with him.”

“But how do I make him change his mind? You can’t force someone to love someone.”

“From what I’ve gathered, the problem isn't the lack of love, but the overflow of it.”

“So you mean that I should play on his feelings for Even to get my way?” Lisa snorted. She didn't like this idea.

“Whatever you need to do to get them back together. Even sounds like he wont make it without Isak. You said the hospital prolonged his hold. Twice. They only do that if they deem the case hopeless. Even has given up hope. He doesn't want to live. You have to bring him the only thing that can change his mind.”

“A healthy and cancer free Isak.” Lisa mumbled. “But I can’t magically fix it. I can’t make him well. I can’t force him to fight cancer a third time if he doesn't want to.”

“You can. You just have to find that part of him that makes him want to fight, pull it out and shake it.”


————


When they took Even’s stitches out and he was physically healthy enough to leave the hospital, Lisa made Isak sign the papers to have him committed to the longtime psychiatric ward in the hospital. He was crying as he signed them, his hand shaking and his chest heaving with sobs. She ended up holding him.

“Did your scans come back?” she asked him nervously, not even remembering if he had taken them yet.

“Yes.” Isak whispered.

“And?” she was afraid of the answer. She wanted time to stop, she wasn't ready to hear it. She wasn't ready to hear him saying the words.

“There’s a new tumour in my lung.”

And just like that, Lisa’s world collapsed.




In our family portrait we look pretty happy

We look pretty normal, let's go back to that

In our family portrait we look pretty happy

Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally

 

 

Chapter Text

 

JONAS’ POV



You may call it in this evening

But you've only lost the night

Preset all your pretty feelings

May they comfort you tonight

And I'm climbing over something

And I'm running through these walls





When Jonas first heard about the scan results, he cried. And then he ran out of the house. And when he ran far away enough from the surrounding houses he screamed and screamed at the world.

And when he came back home he found Isak and Eva bundled together on the couch, under a blanket. Crying. And he joined them, quietly.

“How long?” he just asked.

“They want to remove it surgically, but without chemo it will just come back so-“

“How long?”

“Maybe two months.”

“Are you doing the surgery?”

“Maybe. But not the chemo.”

“Why not the chemo, Isak?”

“I can’t do it again.” Isak’s voice was shaking.

“But you can. We’ll get you through it.”

“There is no point Jonas. I will just end up dying in a few months anyways. It will never stop coming back. It will always come back. And I can’t do it anymore.” Isak started sobbing once more.

And then Jonas was crying again.


———-

When he had learned about the divorce papers and Even’s suicide attempt weeks earlier, he had been yelling at Isak. Yelling at him to keep having faith. Yelling at him for doing this to Even, things had been going so well?

But when Isak calmly repeated himself over and over that he was the reason Even got sick, Jonas gave up. He could see that Isak had just made his mind up, and no matter what anyone told him at this point; he would stick by it.


———

Driving Eva to work the next morning, they were sitting in silence. She turned the radio off and he let her. As he pulled up outside the front door, she turned to him. “We need to move up the wedding.”

He just nodded. He hadn't even thought about the wedding. Right now it just felt wrong to him. But he could see it from her point of view. She wanted Isak to be part of her wedding, and he wanted her to have that.

“Yeah.” he just breathed out.

“But we need to talk to him Jonas. Someone needs to talk to him. Anyone. We can’t just let him give up. If they do the surgery and he goes back on chemo he has a real shot at getting well. And staying well. It’s only one tumour this time. The chances of survival is higher. We- We have to make him fight Jonas.” she was sobbing, and he unbuckled his seatbelt, bent over and wrapped her up in his arms. Tightly.

 

She sobbed into his shoulder for a good twenty minutes, and when she finally released her grip on him Jonas went inside, told her boss she needed to take a sick day and drove her back home.


———


When he carried her into the house, he met Isak in the door. “What’s going on?” the other boy asked, as he helped Jonas getting Eva into bed. When Jonas closed the bedroom door, he motioned for Isak to follow him into the kitchen.

“You dying. That’s what’s going on.” he could help but sound bitter. He was bitter. He didn't support or accept this decision. But he didn't know what to say to Isak, to make him see reason.

“Jonas-“ Isak started, but Jonas could feel the anger rising and suddenly couldn't hold it in anymore.

“No Isak. Don’t you ‘Jonas’ me! You are WILLINGLY DYING. You have a shot at living, there is just one surgery and a bit of chemo and then you will be FINE. But NO you choose DYING instead of FIGHTING? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN’T YOU SEE HOW THIS AFFECTS ALL THE PEOPLE WHO LOVES YOU? WE ALL LOVE YOU, AND YOU JUST DECIDE TO LET THIS FUCKING CANCER KILL YOU? NO, I WON’T ACCEPT IT. I WON’T SUPPORT IT. AND I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND IT!” He didn't even realise he was yelling, until he stopped and the kitchen fell so quiet he could almost hear Isak’s heartbeats.

“It’s not that simple Jonas and you know that-“

“THE HELL IT ISN’T! ONE SURGERY, ONE ROUND OF CHEMO THERAPY.”

“AND IN A MONTH OR TWO OR FIVE IT WILL JUST COME BACK AGAIN!” Isak yelled back at him.

“YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!”

“YES I DO! I WORK CASES LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME JONAS! THE MORE TIMES THE CANCER COMES BACK, THE LESS CHANCE OF SURVIVAL IS IT! I DON’T WANNA SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE IN THAT CHAIR GETTING CHEMO AND SLOWLY WITHERING AWAY!”

Jonas could see his point. He could. But the cases Isak referred to had worse chances than Isak to begin with. Isak had a chance to live and he chose not to.

“AND WHAT ABOUT US? WHAT ABOUT ME AND EVA? WHAT ABOUT EVEN? YOU’RE JUST GOING TO WILLINGLY LEAVE US BECAUSE YOU’RE SCARED OF ANOTHER ROUND OF CHEMO?”

The look on Isak’s face told him he had pushed it too far. He expected Isak to hit him. Say something nasty. Anything.

But Isak just whispered “What about me? Why can you never see how this kills me?” turned around and left the house.


And he didn't come home that night.

 

I don't even know if I believe

Everything you're trying to say to me

 

 

——

 

He got a text from Isak a few days later, saying he was doing the surgery in three days. But no chemo this time.

 

Jonas didn't know if he was happy about it or not. He was glad Isak was willing to do the surgery, but he knew that it wouldn't matter much since he was refusing the chemo.

He needed to try something else. He had tried yelling. He had tried crying. He had tried begging. He needed to find something else to try.


——

He had tried this once before and failed miserably at it. But here he was again. Trying. It was his last hope. He stood in the doorway, knocked softly on the open door. He didn't get any response. He entered anyway.

Even was laying with his back to the door and his face to the window. Jonas chose the chair next to the window, so he could see Even’s face. It was blank. Emotionless.

Lisa had warned him that Even hadn't spoken in nearly three weeks now. Not even his therapist has been able to get a single word out of him.

But Jonas had to try. He had to at least give this a try.


“Even?” he begun. Not getting any response at all. He had been expecting that.

“Lisa told me that you didn't speak, so I figured I would.” he begun.

“I know you and I haven't seen eye to eye. We have never really spoken and we are very different. And also I’m an asshole.”

He registered a movement in Even’s eyes. It was slight but there.

“I kind of blamed you, you know? When you were away, travelling, and Isak was alone. I know you didn't know and that it was irrational of me to think that way. But Isak having cancer alone, being alone with it…. He had us, but he needed you. But I have learned a lot these past years, about how to be more accepting and open minded.”

He could see Even shift his gaze, look straight at him.

“And I have figured out that it doesn't matter what any of us says or does. In the end, the only person able to change Isak’s mind will be you. And the only person able to change yours is him. But you are both stubborn as mules, so… I am here. Begging.” Jonas waved his arms up and down, illustrating how hard it was for him to go to this extreme. “Begging for you to go talk to him. Begging for you to refuse to sign those papers. Begging for you to help me save Isak’s life.”

Even responded by lifting his hand, who was chained to the bed.

“Right.” Jonas said. “Well, I can’t exactly make him come to you either, because he is in surgery right now.”

Even’s eyebrow’s raised at that.

“Yeah, we managed to talk him into the surgery. But he won’t do the chemo. And he needs to. It’s one more round of chemo and then he has a real shot of becoming cancer free.” he took a deep breath. “And yes. It might come back. But life is filled with “maybe’s”. We could all get killed in traffic. Another world war could happen. Anything can happen. He might live to be a hundred or he might only have another year or two. But if he doesn't fight he won’t have more than two months. And I’m not ready for him to…” he felt tears pressing. “I won’t ever be ready for that.”


“So I’m here to ask you to fight for him. And I know I am asking a lot, because there is no guarantee it will work. But I’m asking you to find the strength you need to pick yourself up and get out of this place and go and fight for him before it’s too late.” he swore he could see tears in Even’s eyes. “You and I are so different Even, but we share one thing; we love Isak, in our own ways. And I need your help in this. So whatever you need to do, just do it, and if I can help you in any way, tell me. Because we need to be in this together.”

He hesitated, before he carefully put his hand on Even’s shoulder and gave it a tight squeeze. “You’re amazing, Even. Both as an artist and a musician. But mostly you're an amazing husband for Isak. And I believe in you. You need to do that to.”


And then he left. And despite the fact that Even hadn't said a single word, Jonas was feeling slightly more hopeful.



On the outside of the room he almost collided into another person. Tall, dark hair, having a beard. Thinking quickly, he realised this was that guy they had been to see play that concert, Even’s friend. Adam.

“Hey.” Jonas said.

“Hey.” Adam answered, before nodding towards Even’s room. “How is he?”

“Won’t speak a single word.”

There was an awkward silence.

“I would have been here sooner. I just didn't know, because no-one told me.” Adam blurted out.

Jonas shook his head. “Don’t sweat it man. It’ our fault for not thinking about telling you. The important thing is that you're here now. Please go talk to him. I’ve tried, but he wont answer me, and we’re running out of time-“

“Out of time?”

And then Jonas realised that Even had kept Adam in the dark about everything from the divorce papers to the Switzerland-plan, so he told him. And he watched the other man get paler and paler.

And then Adam collected himself, told Jonas he would do his best, and walked into Even’s room.

Jonas didn't stay and watch. He just walked down the hospital corridors, until he found Isak’s room.




So open up my eyes

Tell me I'm alive

This is never gonna go our way

If I'm gonna have to guess what's on your mind

 

 

—————

 

 

 

 

Isak refused to speak to him as well. He told Jonas he wasn't up for an discussion, that he was feeling like a semi had just run him over. Jonas accepted it and just sat there with him, holding his hand until visitor hours were over.

He promised to come back the next day, and wrote down a list of items Isak said he wanted from home. He carefully kissed Isak’s forehead and then he left, biting back the sobs that threatened to escape him.

 

 

-

 

 

Getting home he found Eva in the living room, papers all over the table and phone in her hand. He knew that she was thinking the same thing as him.

Their eyes locked, and in unison, they said, “We have to cancel the wedding.”

And then Jonas walked over to her, sat down on the couch and pulled her into his arms as they cried together. 

 


———

They visited Isak together the next day. He wasn't very talkative but who would be, considering?

That’s it, until they told him about cancelling the wedding. “WHAT? WHY?”

“Because you're here. Even’s in psychiatric, and it just feels wrong right now.” Eva answered.

“Don’t let our shit get in the way of your happiness.”

“Shit?” Jonas could hear the anger in Eva’s voice. Through this whole cancer thing he had seen her sad and depressed, mad at the world but never once angry at Isak. Now she was. “YOU have undergone major surgery, countless of times now. YOU are refusing to take the medicine to get better. YOU are refusing to stay by Even’s side. EVEN is laying in BELTS Isak. Fucking BELTS!” she looked furious.

“In the end this will be-“

“DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT THIS WILL BE BETTER FOR HIM!” she was yelling now.

“I’m doing it because I love him!”

“Love?” She spat. “You don’t love him, this isn't love Isak. You don’t destroy the person you love.” Eva was so angry she was shaking. “He NEEDS you. You know that. Yes, he can probably survive on his own, but the shitty timing you chose for those divorce papers? It’s ruining him. You need to get you SHIT together and help him out of this. And yes, that means another round of Chemo and honouring your vows. Your WEDDING VOWS. In sickness and in health. Whether you still love him or not.”

Before Isak had a chance to respond, she stomped out of the room. Jonas looked at Isak, unsure what to do. Should he follow Eva or did Isak need him here now?

“Go.” Isak said. “I… I’ll be okay, but she needs you. So just go and… comfort her I guess?”

Jonas looked at his best friend. He looked tired. Skinnier. There was no spark in his eye. He was exhausted from this life. And Jonas finally realised that he understood why Isak wanted to just give up. He could see Isak’s perspective in this case.

He just couldn't accept it.

He got up, and giving Isak a quick and careful hug, he left to go find Eva.


———


“Why won’t he fight?” Eva was crying in his arms later that night.

“He’s exhausted.”

“We all are.”

“None of us have been through all that he’s been through.”

“But he has a chance of living. He can make it. He can’t just give up, not when-“

“When we all need him?” Jonas finished. When she nodded, he continued. “Isn’t that kind of selfish of us? To expect him to fight this extremely though battle because WE need HIM?”

“I didn’t-“

“Think about that? Yeah, me either. But it’s what we have told him over and over you know? ‘What about us, what about Even’. Well, what about how Isak feels? What about how this affects him? What about respecting his wishes?”

“Jonas? Are you lecturing me?”

“No. I’m lecturing myself. I just needed to say the words out loud. I needed to hear them spoken. Fuck, I’ve been a shitty friend these past few months. How do I make this right? Can I make it right?”


Eva didn't answer. She just held him, as they both cried.

 

 

 

 

Say something, say something,

Something like you love me

Less you wanna move away

From the noise of this place

 

Well I don't even know if I believe

I don't even know if I wanna believe

Anything you're trying to say to me

 

 

Chapter Text

 

ISAK’S POV

 

At every occasion I'll be ready for the funeral

At every occasion, once more, it's called the funeral

At every occasion, oh, I'm ready for the funeral

Every occasion, oh, one billion day funeral









Isak was shaken by Eva’s sudden angry outburst. She was actually not that angry about him wanting to die, but more about his treatment of Even.

But Isak had truly believed he had done the right thing by sending those papers. He thought Even was in a good place at the time. That he could handle it.

He had obviously been mistaken.

You don’t love him.

The words had stung, hard. He did love Even. He did. That’s why he had decided to let him go. It was.

He felt restless. It was in the middle of the night. He decided to sneak out of bed.


Walking the hallways slowly, he met some of the nurses. They all smiled softly at him, instead of demanding that he had to return to his bed. They probably figured out where he was heading. Before he even realised it himself, he found himself walking into Even’s room.

The other man was belted to the bed, and it looked like he was sleeping. Isak just padded softly over to the bed and crawled slowly in next to Even.

“Why are you here?” he could hear Even whisper softly. No anger this time. No sadness. Just a mild curiosity.

“To make sure you know how much I do love you.” Isak whispered back, his arms around Even. Even melted into his embrace.

“I know. I mean, I doubted it a few times, but deep down I know.” he whispered back.

“Good.”

“How was your surgery?”

“Fine. Hurts a bit. But they got it all.”

“That’s good.”


Even didn't pressure him about the chemo. He didn't ask about anything. He just tried to hug back, unable to because of the belts. Isak knew he could get trouble for this but he didn't care. He undid the belts and the two boys wrapped up in each others embrace.

“Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.”

“Isak, did you just quote a movie to me?”

“Partly. I think the poem was originally written by Robert Frost.”

“Still.”

“I know. I love you Even. Til Kingdom Come. Even if that might be sooner than what we expected.”

“Til Kingdom Come.” Even repeated.

“I know you wanna stay in bed

But it’s light outside

It’s light outside

So know I'm gonna stay right here

You saved my life once

You saved my life

 

And I

Will try

To get you up

Cause it’s beautiful outside

And we’ll fall

But we’ll try

We’ll do our best

And I’ll love you all the while

Because you saved my life once” Isak quietly sang.



Even responded by kissing him softly, then snuggling closer. And then they fell asleep.


-

Isak stayed until morning and crept out when the nurse came for the morning checkup. She didn't scold him about releasing Even from the belts. She just carefully put them back on and gave Isak a weak smile, whispering that this probably had been good for Even.


Isak nodded, but he wasn't so sure. He was dying and Even would end up alone anyway.



I'm coming up only to show you're down for

And coming up only to show you're wrong.

—————


They kept him for another week. He kept sneaking into Even’s room at night. On the last night, he came in and found Even being released from the belts already, sitting crosslegged in the bed and waiting for him.

“How-“ Isak started, and Even shrugged.

“I started talking again. Decided that I wanted to live. My therapist declared me to no longer be a hazard to myself. I guess that’s something.”

“That’s great baby.” Isak said, and suddenly stopped. He hadn't meant to add the “baby” part. But he had just blurted it out. It had felt natural.

Even responded with a small smile and opening his arms, indicating for Isak to come over. And he did. He melted into Even’s embrace and they laid down, holding onto each other.

“I have decided not to sign.” Even said after a while.

“What?”

“The divorce papers. I’ve decided to not sign.”

“Why?”

“Because then you can’t do it.”

Isak didn't quite understand what Even meant and turned around in his arms, so he was facing his husband. They locked eyes and Isak lifted an eyebrow.

“As long as we are still married you will need my signature to get them to help you with assisted suicide. And I won’t sign. I will keep fighting for you till the end Isak.”

Isak sat up in the bed. “What?!”


“I won’t let you take the easy way out Isak.”

“Even…” Isak pleaded. He couldn't believe this. He couldn't believe that Even would want him to suffer.

“You’re strong Isak, you can fight the cancer.”

“No. I can’t Even. Not again.” Isak got out of the bed, started pacing the floor.

“You are stronger than you think Isak.”

“I can’t do it. i won’t do it. So basically now, you are forcing me to die a painful and slow death.” Isak couldn't help the bitterness and resentment in his voice.

“I’m forcing you to fight.” Even countered.

“You know what? Fuck you.” Isak spat, before leaving the room.


Even didn't call his name or try to follow him.


————

The next day, Isak got changed into his own clothes and signed the release forms. As he was leaving he saw a little girl sitting by herself. He needed a few seconds but then he recognised her as the daughter of the woman who had died a few weeks ago. She was eight or nine. He waked over to her and sat down next to her.

“Hey.” he said.

“Hey doctor Isak. Why are you not in your work clothes?” she smiled at him.

“I’ve been committed to the hospital, had a surgery.”

“And now you will have chemo just like my mom?”

“No, I won’t.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t do it one more time. I have done it so many times now, it makes me so ill, and it doesn't work.”

“But it might work this time?”

“Maybe. But I won’t do it.”

“That’s stupid.”

“How so?”

“You have the chance to live but you chose to die because you think the medicine makes you feel bad. That is stupid. Which makes you stupid.”

“Maybe you're right.” Isak admitted. To be only eight years old, she was kind of clever. But then again, he had heard the saying before; the only people who are completely honest are drunk people and children. “Why are you here Anna?” he asked, changing the subject.

“My daddy. He didn't wake up. i couldn't wake him up. So I called the number, and when we got here they just told me to wait. Do you know what’s wrong with my daddy?” she was teary eyed, grasping at his arm.

Isak had a dreadful feeling. He asked her to just wait there, and walked over to the nurses station. His suspicions were right. The father had overdosed and was dead before the ambulance even got there. Isak asked them about the child.

“She had no relatives, and social workers are overbooked. There are no available foster homes or anyone who can take her in. We just have to put her in a hospital room and keep her here until they can find something.”

“You can’t be serious?” Isak asked, in total shock. Were they going to keep an eight year old girl who just lost both her parents in a hospital room, for God knows how long?

“We have no other option Isak. One of our psychiatrist are going to talk to her, but we can’t do much more.” she was apologetic.

Isak understood. In cases like this it was impossible to do anything, really.

“I can take her.” he blurted out.


———

An hour later he was sitting in his office, talking with a social worker.

“You know that taking on a child, one that has lost both parents, is a huge commitment?”

“Yes.”

“You’re getting a divorce?”

“Yes.”

“And you have cancer but won’t get treatment.”

“Correct.”

“You know they will reject your application for adoption right?”

“I’m filing for temporary guardianship.”

“You still have to either have a partner or get treatment for cancer for them to grant your application.”

Isak looked at her for a while. Of course the universe would have some sick way to punish him for wanting to give up this endless fight. So he gave up. “Then I guess I will have another round of chemo then.”

The woman studied him for a while. “You’re making a huge sacrifice, you know that? Doing something like this, it takes a lot of strength.”

He nodded, took some time to think. “When I saw here sitting there, all alone, I felt like I was watching myself. Both now and when I was her age. No, my parents didn't die until recently. But they might as well have. When I was young, my family was a mess. Despite having two parents it felt like I had none. But the last few years before they died, they became the parents I had needed all along. But then they died and I ended up alone again. And seeing her sitting there, seeing her alone, made me feel that heartbreak all over again. And if I can help her, only for a little while… I want to try and take some of her pain away. If I can.”

She nodded. They sat in silence. Then she got up. “Let’s go se Anna.”

They entered the room where Anna was. They had called in Linn as an emergency psychiatrist, on Isak’s recommendation.

“Isak!” Anna yelled as he entered the room and ran over to him.

And in that moment, exchanging looks with the social worker, Isak knew his request was granted. He would get temporary custody of this little girl.

———

He knew the discussion that was going to happen the minute he stepped into the house, a child in hand. He walked into the house, finding Eva and Jonas at the table, and watched their faces filled with surprise.

“Who is this?” Eva asked, her voice friendly.

“I’m Anna.”

“Nice to meet you Anna. Maybe we can go into the living room and I can show you the house?” Eva said, giving Jonas and Isak a look.

Anna let go of Isak’s hand, hesitantly, and followed Eva. When they were out of earshot, he turned to Jonas. “Look-“

“What the hell Isak?”

And then Isak told him. About his patient dying and then the father dying last night and his rash decision to file for temporary custody for the kid.

“And they let you? With having no husband and refusing to fight cancer?”

“I kind of made a compromise.”

He could see Jonas’ eyes spark up. Hopeful. “And that is?”

“I’m starting chemo tomorrow.”

And then Jonas was hugging him tightly.

And they moved an extra bed into Isak’s room, since Anna was afraid to sleep alone. They promised she could get her own room of she wanted to, but she didn’t.

That night Isak woke up when Anna crawled into his bed. He let her, and she crawled into his arms.

“Can I stay with you forever Isak?”

It broke Isak’s heart. This girl had lost so much. She would probably lose Isak too. This was a terrible idea. “I hope so Anna. I really do. But if I don’t make it, Eva and Jonas will take care of you. They told me that earlier, when you were brushing your teeth.”

“And your husband?”

“He’s not really my husband anymore.”

“Yes he is. He loves you and you love him. You are just being stubborn. Eva told me.” Isak had to laugh at that. Under twenty-four hours with this child and he could feel his perspective on things shift. Maybe he needed this. Maybe this was what he needed in his life. Someone who depended on him.

He had fought the first time. For Even. The second time he had fought for himself. This time he had no-one to fight for. Until now. Now he had Anna to fight for. And he wanted to fight for her. He wanted her to have a better life than he had himself. He wanted her to have parents who cared about her when she grew up.

Even. This circled back to Even. He had been the one talking about children, about wanting them. But at the same time, concluding that he would never be able to care for one. But Isak had disagreed every time. He had never wanted a kid. But he wanted Even to have everything he wanted in life.

But right now, he wasn't ready to forgive Even. For what he had said the last time they spoke. For being so selfish.

But then again, hadn't Isak been selfish too? And what was the point of all this back and forwards?

He remembered what he said to Even all those years ago. That an atomic bomb could drop on them tomorrow and that this was a waste of time. To take things chill, to take things minute by minute.

As he held onto the sleeping child in his arms, he made up his mind. The next morning he would call his lawyer and annulate the divorce papers. And then he would find a way to fight for his relationship. He would find a way to make things right. He just didn't know how.

——

Getting chemo was hard. But having Jonas, Eva and Anna there with him, helped. They joined him every session and Anna made it her mission to keep his mind occupied, drawing him stuff and asking him to read to her and talking to him.

And he really started to love the girl. She was so alike him, yet she was so much stronger than him. She only cried at night, about her parents. She was so brave.

But no matter how grateful he was about having her there, he missed Even. Every day. And he had been angry at him for the whole refusing to sign thing. But now, he could see why Even had done it. Because Isak had a chance. After his first checkup, his doctor said it looked really good this time. No more tumours. The chemo wasn't making him so sick this time. Things were looking good.

Question was for how long.

——

Eva and Jonas had put the wedding back on. They had wanted to do it sooner, now. Next weekend actually. So they made arrangements and called every guest and stressed around the house.

Isak and Anna helped them by cooking and cleaning.

While he was making dinner, Eva came into the kitchen. “We can’t get a priest.” she said, looking devastated.

Isak squeezed her shoulder, pulled out his phone and asked Anna to stir the soup while he was on the phone. Five minutes later he hung up. “I’ve got you.” the priest that had wed him and Even, and buried both his parents, were willing to do it.

Eva hugged him, and he laughed. Things were looking better. Every day.


—-


One night, after holding Anna until she fell asleep, he couldn't stop himself. He texted Even. He had saved his number in his phone again.



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 01.28

I think I always knew you would be

The greatest

 

Because you saved my life once




He hesitated for a few seconds, and sent another one.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 01.29

I miss you.



 

 

 

 

 

Really too late to call,

So we wait for morning

To wake you is all we got

To know me as hardly golden

Is to know me all wrong, they warn.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

EVEN’S POV

 

 

 

I used to be

Overwhelmed by every little thing

Torn apart, unraveled at the seams

I think it rooted in the way I breathe

 

Seems nothing could

Take away this tasteless haze

And nothing overtakes me

And I think I'm going crazy

But bad or good

Seems nothing could

Take away this tasteless haze of mine

 

 

 

 


From the moment he chose to put that razor against his arm, thing were kind of a blur to Even. He vaguely remember saying something to his mother in the hospital, but after that he decided to not speak again. What was the point.

Isak didn't want him. Not only didn't Isak want him, Isak wanted to die. So Even did too.

His therapist stopped by. He refused to speak to her. He knew she would try and provoke him to speak. So he blocked out the sound of her voice when she was there, not hearing a word of what she said. He didn't care either.

Days became weeks and Even lost track of time. He only registered that they had belted him to the bed. He had different IV’s, probably because he refused to eat and they needed to feed him nutritions. He didn't even have it in him to care about protesting.

His mother pleaded and pleaded with him. He didn't care.

Then one day, Jonas showed up in his room. And sat down in front of him. And started talking. And at first Even blocked him out, but then he found himself listening.

“I kind of blamed you, you know? When you were away, travelling, and Isak was alone. I know you didn't know and that it was irrational of me to think that way. But Isak having cancer alone, being alone about it…. He had us, but he needed you. But I have learned a lot these past years, about how to be more accepting and open minded.”

Even shift his gaze, looked straight at Jonas.

“And I have figured out that it doesn't matter what any of us says or does. In the end, the only person able to change Isak’s mind will be you. And the only person able to change yours is him. But you are both stubborn as mules, so… I am here. Begging.” Jonas waved his arms. “Begging for you to go talk to him. Begging for you to refuse to sign those papers. Begging for you to help me save Isak’s life.”

Even responded by lifting his hand, who was chained to the bed. Hello, what could he do? He was belted down.

“Right.” Jonas said. “Well, I can’t exactly make him come to you either, because he is in surgery right now.”

Even’s eyebrow’s raised at that. Surgery? But his mother had told him that Isak had gotten another tumour, but refused treatment this round. He was set on the Switzerland thing.

“Yeah, we managed to talk him into the surgery. But he won’t do the chemo. And he needs to. It’s one more round of chemo and then he has a real shot of getting cancer free.” Jonas took a deep breath. “And yes. It might come back. But life is filled with “maybe’s”. We could all get killed in traffic. Another world war could happen. Anything can happen. He might live to be a hundred or he might only have another year or two. But if he doesn't fight he won’t have more than two months. And I’m not ready for him to…” saw tears in Jonas’ eyes. Felt the pressure behind his own eyes build up. “I won’t ever be ready for that.”

Even would never be ready for that either. Which is why he was here.


“So I’m here to ask you to fight for him. And I know I am asking a lot, because there is no guarantee it will work. But I’m asking you to find the strength you need to pick yourself up and get out of this place and go and fight for him before it’s too late. You and I are so different Even, but we share one thing; we love Isak, in our own ways. And I need your help in this. So whatever you need to do, just do it, and if I can help you in any way, tell me. Because we need to be in this together.”

He hesitated, before he carefully put his hand on Even’s shoulder and gave it a tight squeeze. “You’re amazing, Even. Both as an artist and a musician. But mostly you're an amazing husband for Isak. And I believe in you. You need to do that to.”


And then he left. And Even was left with the feeling of wanting to do something, anything. He wanted to help Isak. If he could help Isak, he wanted to do that. No matter what.



Minutes later, someone else entered his room. A person he hadn't expected to see. Adam.

He tried to figure out who might have called him. Must have been his mother. He didn't say hey to him. He remained mute. He had decided to remain mute and was staying by it.

“Hey.” Adam said, and sat down in the seat Jonas just had vacated. “They tell me you refuse to speak, and that’s bullshit Even. What the fuck are you doing? Killing yourself because your husband had cancer, because he sent you divorce papers? You must have known, ever since you chose to sign the separation papers, that it was a huge possibility that he would sign those? And you must have know, that since his cancer came back, it might come back again? The only thing I can understand, is that you got manic when he told you about assisted suicide. But Even. You have your whole life ahead of you.” Adam grabbed his hand.

“You are amazing Even. You are a great painter, a great musician and a great friend. You have family and friends who love you. I love you.”

At that, Even couldn't help himself. “I thought you were straight as an arrow.” His voice was hoarse from not speaking in so many weeks.

Adam smiled at him. “You can love someone in a non-romantic way Even. It’s called platonic love. I’m not in love with you, but I do love you.” he mocked, smiling

“I-“

“And you don’t have to say it back, but just please do me a favour?”

Even just looked at him, raising his eyebrows in question.

“Get out of here. Start talking to that shrink of yours. Find something to live for. Because you have so much to live for.”

“But Isak-“

“Isak will probably die, yes. Because he is very very sick Even. And refusing treatment.” Adam bit his lip. “But you can stop him from taking the easy way out. You can force him to either get treatment or wait for the cancer to take him. And I’m pretty sure he will chose treatment then.”

“How can I stop him from going to Switzerland?”

“You never signed those divorce papers, did you?”

Even shook his head. He knew his mother had them, somewhere.

“Good. Because then you are technically still married which means he has to get your signature for them to go through with it.”

“What?”

“You are his husband, legally they need you to sign.”

Even suddenly felt a small spark of hope. He could refuse to sign. He could stop Isak from killing himself. But then he realised, that it would mean that he would have to force Isak to go through chemo or dying of cancer. And wasn't that just selfish?

“But. Isn't that selfish of me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Forcing him to a life of pain?”

“He is 27 years old Even. He has his whole life in front of him. He have a chance to survive, I talked with Jonas. If he does the chemo he could make it.”

“But-“

“No. You married him because you love him, right?”

“Yeah, but what-“

“Then you have to fight for him. He is making this choice based on the fact that he was alone last time, based on going through hell alone. But you have to show him that you will be there this time. I know you can Even, if you just pull yourself together. Focus on the positive things in your life. Draw. Paint. Play music. When things get though, talk to me or your therapist or get it out by painting or singing. I know you can do it. If you really love him, show it. But in order for you to help him, you need to help yourself first.” Adam checked his watch. “I need to go, have to check into a hotel.”

“You can stay at my place.” Even said quickly, his mind busy with processing Adam’s information already. “Mom has the keys, and is probably outside.”

“Cool.” Adam said, and got up to leave.

“Adam? How did you know so much about the legal rights around assisted suicide?”

“I once knew a girl who did it. She had terminal cancer, on top of having early onset Alzheimer’s. Her brain started detonating when she was 26. She signed while still lucid, and her husband had to sign too.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, it was a long time ago.” Adam moved over to the door. “Get some rest Even. I’ll come back tomorrow. Need me to bring anything?”

“I would ask for a pencil but I’m not allowed sharp items… Maybe you can bring your guitar and play me something?”

“Sure thing man. See you tomorrow.”

And when he watched the door close, he found himself smiling.

———

That night, Isak came to his room.

 

“Why are you here?” Even whispered softly.

 

“To make sure you know how much I do love you.” Isak whispered back, his arms around Even. Even melted into his embrace.

“I know. I mean, I doubted it a few times, but deep down I know.” Even whispered, biting his lip.

“Good.”

“How was your surgery?” He asked.

“Fine. Hurts a bit. But they got it all.”

“That’s good.” Even decided not to push the subject of chemo. Not right now. They needed a good moment, and asking about that would ruin the moment. Even needed this. He needed to lay next to Isak and just exist. Just lay there.

Isak loosened all of his restraints so that they could wrap their arms around each other. Even was sure it was against the rules. He didn't care.

“Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.” Isak whispered.

“Isak, did you just quote a movie to me?” Even asked, finding himself almost smiling.

“Partly. I think the poem was originally written by Robert Frost.”

“Still.”

“I know. I love you Even. Til Kingdom Come. Even if that might be sooner than what we expected.”

Even’s heart fluttered at that. Isak loved him. And he loved Isak. And no matter how much time they got together, they had to cherish it.

“Til Kingdom Come.” Even repeated.

“I know you wanna stay in bed

But it’s light outside

It’s light outside

So know I'm gonna stay right here

You saved my life once

You saved my life

 

And I

Will try

To get you up

Cause it’s beautiful outside

And we’ll fall

But we’ll try

We’ll do our best

And I’ll love you all the while

Because you saved my life once” Isak quietly sang.



Even responded by kissing him softly, then snuggling closer. And then they fell asleep.

———-


The next morning Isak had left and a nurse had put the belts back on. But Even felt much better. He agreed to eat breakfast, spoke a few words with his mother (told her to tear up the divorce documents) and when Adam came, he was actually smiling at the other boy.

“What do you want me to play?”

“Anything.”

Adam shrugged, and started playing


“She'll lie and steal and cheat

And beg you from her knees

Make you thinks she means it this time

She'll tear a hole in you, the one you can't repair

But I still love her, I don't really care”


Even found himself almost laughing. He loved this song. He loved hearing Adam sing. And he loved the feeling he got when he sung along. So he did.

 

 

“When we were young

Oh oh, we did enough

When it got cold

Ooh ooh, we bundled up

I can't be told

Ah ah it can't be done

 

It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all

The opposite of love's indifference

So pay attention now

I'm standing on your porch screaming out

And I won't leave until you come downstairs”


It was true. It was better to feel pain than nothing at all. The numbness was horrible. He had thought it would be better, but now, having let the feelings of pain back in, he realised it was better. Because he could also feel the love last night, the love between him and Isak. And he needed it.


 

“So keep your head up, keep your love

Keep your head up, my love

Keep your head up, my love

Keep your head up, keep your love”


And he would. He would keep loving Isak, keep fighting for Isak. Til Kingdom Come.

——-

Adam kept visiting him every day. Isak kept visiting every night. And Even was feeling better and better. He started to talk to his therapist. Told her he regretted it. That he wanted to live. That it had been a stupid mistake. That he had figured out he had things to live for, with or without Isak. He still wanted to live with Isak, but after Adam’s pep talk he had realised he could live without him too. He had done it for two years. He could do it. He just didn't want to. He didn't ever want to. After a week he asked his mother and the nurses for paintbrushes and a canvas. They agreed, under the condition of him being supervised. He didn't mind.

 

 


When Isak crawled into his bed that night he was free of the restrains. He was sitting crosslegged, waiting for his husband. He knew it was Isak’s last night in the hospital.


“How-“ Isak started, and Even shrugged.

“I started talking again. Decided that I wanted to live. My therapist declared me to no longer be a hazard to myself. I guess that’s something.”

“That’s great baby.” Isak said, and suddenly stopped. He looked like he regretted the “baby” part, like he hadn't meant to say it out loud.

Even responded with a small smile and opening his arms, indicating for Isak to come over. And he did. He melted into Even’s embrace and they laid down, holding onto each other. Even wished the moment could last forever. He wanted to lay like this forever. But he had something to say and he needed to do it now. He knew Isak would probably be angry at him. He needed to do this anyway.

“I have decided not to sign.” Even said.


“What?”

“The divorce papers. I’ve decided to not sign.”

“Why?” he could hear Isak’s confusion, but at the same time some form for relief. Isak didn't want to divorce him, he realised. He had only done it to spare Even from the pain.

“Because then you can’t do it.” Even said, swallowing hard.

Isak turned around in his arms, so he they were facing. Even looked at the ceiling for a few seconds, before looking at Isak. They locked eyes and Isak lifted an eyebrow.

“As long as we are still married you will need my signature to get them to help you with assisted suicide. And I won’t sign. I will keep fighting for you till the end Isak.” Even said, and the second he stopped speaking he wondered if he probably should have eased into this a little softer.

Isak sat up in the bed. “What?!” he all but screamed.

“I won’t let you take the easy way out Isak.”

“Even…” Isak pleaded.


“You’re strong Isak, you can fight the cancer.”

“No. I can’t Even. Not again.” Isak got out of the bed, started pacing the floor.

“You are stronger than you think Isak.”

“I can’t do it. I won’t do it. So basically now, you are forcing me to die a painful and slow death.” Isak’s voice was filled with bitterness and resentment. Even had expected it, braced himself for it. It still hurt him.

“I’m forcing you to fight.” Even countered, standing his ground.

“You know what? Fuck you.” Isak spat, before leaving the room.


Even didn't call his name or try to follow him. He just let him leave. They could talk about this more when Isak had calmed down.

That night, Even slept restlessly, feeling lonely without Isak next to him.



And we once also had a story too

You can see that good men only come in few.

Even in our greatest moments we may win or we may lose

Every song's got it's rules, you've got to learn to make it through.

 

 

————-

They started letting him walk around the hospital, as long as someone went with him. Adam, his parents, a nurse. Sana came a few times.

Two times he saw Isak. One time he was standing at a nurses station, filling out some papers and looking oh so handsome. But Even had made up his mind. He was going to wait for Isak to come to him. He weren't going to beg for forgiveness. Because it had been the right choice.

A few days later, walking with Sana, they walked by the oncology department, and he caught a glimpse of Isak. In a chair. Getting chemo. Next to him was Eva and a young child. And Even stopped, gaping at what he was seeing. Had he actually changed Isak’s mind?

He turned to Sana, and she smiled. “He changed his mind yes.”

“What made him change it?” Even asked.

“I am kind of breaking patient confidentiality now, but it was a combination. Eva. Jonas. You. And that little girl over there.”

“The child?” Even asked, confused.

“Her name is Anna. She’s the daughter of one of Isak’s patients. Well, was. The patient, the child’s mother, died on Isak’s surgery table. The father killed himself around the time Isak got out of the hospital. Isak decided on a whim to apply to be temporary guardian. I think he felt a connection to her. Losing both his parents, he just… had to help her.”

“And they granted him custody because?”

“He agreed to get treatment. And also Eva and Jonas signed to be guardians if Isak should suddenly… you know.”

“Yeah.”

“But he’s getting treatment Even.”

Even just nodded, and watched Isak and the child talk for a little while. The child looked so attached to Isak. Isak was smiling so brightly at her. Even felt both happy about Isak getting treatment, but also sadness. Isak had decided not to tell him this. Isak had pushed him away.


—————-

He got out of the hospital a week later. He had to go to therapy every day for a month, and Adam had to sign papers saying he would stay with him for that whole month, but they let him go.

As Even entered his apartment, the first thing he did was walking into the living room and setting up a canvas. He wanted to paint.

Adam didn't disturb him and Even was glad.


As he was finishing up, the sun was setting and Adam was asking him kindly to take his meds and go to bed.

Even complied.


The next morning he woke up, finding two texts from Isak.



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 01.28

I think I always knew you would be

The greatest

Because you saved my life once



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 01.29

I miss you.





He took a few seconds, before typing out a text himself.

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 08.17

Still so many answers I don't know

Realise that to question is how we grow

So I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I am on my way

Can't stop me now

And you can do the same


The response was almost instant.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 08.20

See you at Jonas’ and Eva’s wedding next weekend?



FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 08.21

Yes. Of course.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 08.22

<3


 

 

 

I met a boy

Who never knew the taste of haze

To him the whole world is a stage

While I am fifty shades of beige

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

EVEN’S POV

 

 

 

Turn around and you're walking toward me

I'm breaking down and you're breathing slowly

Say the word and I will be your man, your man


 

 

 


The week before the wedding moved slowly. He wanted to talk to Isak. Debated calling him a dozen times. His parents and Adam talked him out of it. Told him to wait, give Isak some time and space.

So he did.

Instead, he painted. Ran with Buddy (And Adam). Went to therapy. Spent hours on the couch, watching his favourite movies and eating all his favourite food with Adam. Sometimes they played and sung. Other times they talked about their travels.

Sometimes they talked about traveling again. Even wasn't sure if he wanted to. Last time cost him Isak. Adam told him he meant for a shorter trip this time. And maybe even Isak and Anna would come with. Even just nodded his head, despite doubting this would ever happen.

 

 

———-



“How are you Even?”

“Good.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I feel good.”

“Talked with Isak?”

“Not much. But it seems like he’s willing to give us another try.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah.”

“And you can live with it, live with the possibility of him getting sick again?”

“I… Yeah. I mean, I don’t want him to become sick again. But I know now that I can be there for him. I know that I can handle it. And if worst case scenario happens, I think I will be able to cope. But not alone.”

“You’re not alone, Even. You have your parents, your friends. People who love you.”

“I know.”

“You told me Isak was getting treatment after all. What changed his mind?”

“I don’t know exactly, but according to Sana I played a part in it. But also he kind of adopted a child.”

“How do you feel about that? The child, I mean.”

“Honestly? Shocked.”

“How so?”

“He never mentioned wanting kids.”

“You know what changed his mind?”

“Sana said she’s the daughter of one of his patients. Who died. And then the father committed suicide. So he probably feels a connection to her. And also social services were unable to get her a temporary placement. So he volunteered to be a temporary foster parent.”

“Have you met her?”

“Not yet.”

“Do you want to?”

“Yes.”

“Because you want kids, right?”

“Well. I used to. But with my bipolar and his cancer, we probably aren't the best people in the world to raise a child.”

“Even. Being sick doesn't make you a bad parent. I believe you have to capacity to be a wonderful parent. And Isak might not get anymore cancer. And from what I’ve learned about him through you, he sounds like he would be an excellent parent for this girl. Question is, do you want this? Do you want this life? Do you want the responsibility of a child?”

He took a few seconds to think about it. Then he nodded. “Yes. I do.”


————-

FROM EVEN TO ISAK

What colour will your tie be?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Are we colour-ordinating?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Yes. We must. Married people do that.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Married people can wear different coloured ties


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Colour?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Fifty shades of grey


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

The one in the movie or just generally one shade of grey I have to guess?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

;)

——————

 



ISAK’S POV

 

 



The following week, they had their hands full. Not only with the wedding, but Anna. They needed to do something about her parents house. The bank wanted to sell it to pay down loans, and they needed to empty out whatever Anna wanted.

Isak offered to just buy her new stuff, but she wanted some of her things. Since Jonas and Eva was busy, he asked Magnus and Vilde to help. They were glad to. And brought Noora and William as well.

Packing down the house brought back the memories of packing down his own parents house. Anna cried a lot. But they managed to get the things she wanted to keep and left the rest behind. Keeping photos and some toys and clothes and her mother’s blanket. Some jewellery. The rest they sold.

Anna’s parents had a bit of a debt, so there wasn't much left after the bank got their share. But what was left they put in a account in Anna’s name. Since Isak wasn't technically her legal guardian, the social worker had to sign of on it. Anna got terrified when she saw the woman, hiding behind Isak, not wanting to be taken away. He assured her she wouldn’t.

The social worker didn't say anything, but Isak could see it in her face; He might not get accepted as a legal guardian, to adopt her. He knew he had to be realistic about this. But he desperately wanted to. He wanted to give this little girl a safe home, a home like the one he had longed for when he was her age.


—-

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

You’ve probably heard, but I’m temporary guardian for a child. Just wanted you to know.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Sana told me


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Can I meet her?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

She will come to the wedding with me


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

You didn't technically answer my question


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Of course you can meet her


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

:)

———



EVEN’S POV

 

 



Adam got requested for a concert in Copenhagen the weekend of the wedding. He wasn't going to the wedding anyway, but this meant that Even had to stay with his parents while Adam was away. Suicide-watch and all that. Even didn't mind.

He put his bag down in his old bedroom, walked around and watched the drawings and stuff hanging on the walls. He and Isak had done some redecorating while they lived here the first time Isak was sick. But some old drawings and the printout of “Alt er love” still hung there.

He smiled, and snapped a photo of it. Sent it to Isak.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

<3


He smiled at that. It was such a small thing, a emoji heart. But it meant so much.

 

—————

 



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Everybody's gotta love someone

But I just wanna love you, dear

Everybody's gotta feel something

I just wanna be with you, my dear

I know it's hard, I know it's hard

I know it's hard to be in this position

If they stop loving you, I won't stop loving you

If they stop needing you, I'll still need you, my dear

 

 

 

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

And love

Is not the easy thing

The only baggage

That you can bring

And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage you can bring

Is all that you can't leave behind



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I can't keep going, can't keep going on like this

They make me sick and I get so sick of it

'Cause they won't let me, they won't let me breathe

Why can't they let me be?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

You okay?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Just a bad day. Somedays are harder than others. But I’m getting there, you know?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I’m so proud of you. If there is anything I can do for you, please tell me. I want to help you, make this easier.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

You have enough right now. And we need to talk properly soon.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I know. And we will. After the wedding?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

After the wedding.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Adam staying with you?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Yes. But not this weekend. He has a concert in Copenhagen. Staying at my parents.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Tell them I say hey. And that I promise to visit soon.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

I will.

Come take my heart of glass

And give me your love

I hope you'll still be there

To pick the pieces up

'Cause baby I'm fragile, fragile, fragile

'Cause baby I'm fragile, fragile, fragile


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

It get’s better Even. Believe me, it does. Just fight it.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I should say the same to you.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I am fighting. I promise.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Good.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

<3



———-


ISAK’S POV


Isak and Anna came with Eva for dress shopping. Along with Noora, Vilde, Sana and Chris. They were all going to be bridesmaids. They had asked Anna if she wanted to be a flower girl, but the young child had shaken her head, saying she didn't want to. She did however want a pretty dress to wear at the wedding.

Isak agreed to get her one. So here he sat, watching Eva try on wedding dresses, her friends trying bridesmaids dresses and Anna trying on pretty dresses. She wanted one in the same shade as Isak’s tie. Isak smiled, thinking about his earlier conversation with Even about that.

“You can just pick the one you think is prettiest and I will change the tie Anna.”

“No. What colour is your tie?”

“Grey.”

“Boring.”

“I told you.”

The young girl then turned to the staff working in the shop. “I guess I will try a grey dress on then.”

Isak laughed. Anna reminded him of himself in so many ways. They were stubborn, funny and sometimes sad. They had lost their parents but coped with it.

“If I hadn't known I would have guessed that child was your actual biological daughter.” Vilde told him.

He smiled fondly. “I know.”

“Are you adopting her?”

“Depends.”

“On what?”

“On Even. On social services. On my cancer. On a lot of things.”

“But you want to do it?”

“I think I do.”

“Then you will find a way.”

“I hope so.”

He truly did.

———-


FROM LISA TO ISAK

Can I and Anders come to the wedding? I know we’re not invited, but Even needs to be chaperoned because of the suicidal watch thing… But I think he is over it. It’s just a formality now.


FROM ISAK TO LISA

Of course you are. Eva and Jonas says their happy to have you.


FROM LISA TO ISAK

Thank you Isak. I mean it. Not only for this, but…


FROM ISAK TO LISA

We have a long road ahead Lisa. For this to work.


FROM LISA TO ISAK

I know. But at least you're on the road.


FROM ISAK TO LISA

And life is a highway. You never know where it get’s you, only that it moves you forwards.


FROM LISA TO ISAK

I love you Isak. Like a son. You know that right?


FROM ISAK TO LISA

I love you too. You and Anders both.


FROM LISA TO ISAK

<3
I heard you’ve become guardian for a child. Even told us she would be at the wedding. Is it okay if we meet her then?


FROM ISAK TO LISA

Of course :)

———-

EVEN’S POV


“How are you today Even?”

“Not so good. Bad day again.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“I…”

“Get it out. That’s the only way to process things. We have talked about this.”

“I just have this feeling, about me and Isak.”

“And what feeling is that?”

“That he will chose that child over me.”

“Why does he need to chose?”

“Because I’m not fit to be a parent.”

“Because you're bipolar?”

“Yeah.”

“We talked about-“

“It would end up like Isak’s family. With one unstable parent. And then the other would eventually give up and leave and the child will suffer.”

“You think just because Isak’s dad left him and his mother, that Isak would do the same?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I just know that I will understand it, if he chooses to leave me ten years from now. If he lives that long.”

“Why is that, Even?”

“Because I’m a nutcase who will never stop being a nutcase. And yes, you all remind me how greatly talented I am in painting and singing and all that. But when it all comes down to it, I am bipolar. I will always be bipolar. And that’s something a child shouldn't have to live around.”

“I disagree.”

“Why?”

“Because having a bipolar parent doesn't mean that the parent isn't loving and caring and capable of caring for a child. Being a drug addict or a drunk or a violent person is bad for a child. As long as Isak’s there, to tell her why you behave like you do whenever you get an episode, she will be fine. Children adapt easily. They accept easily. And they love unconditionally.”

“Doesn’t mean she will like me at all. She hasn't even met me.”

“Then why are you jumping to conclusions on this now Even? You told me that you and Isak agreed to talk. Why not wait and see what he has to say?”

“I guess…”

“Don’t give yourself bad days by letting this eat at your brain. Enjoy each day, find one positive thing each day, just like we talked about.”

“Okay.”

“And today’s positive thing is?”

“You talking some sense into my head.”

She laughed. He laughed with her.


——-

Coming home, he went straight to his room an started sketching. He usually painted these days, but right now he wanted to do a sketch.

His fingers worked over the paper, and before he knew it he was done and his mother called him for dinner.

“Coming!” he yelled, and snapped a picture of the drawing, sending it to Isak.


————-

 


ISAK’S POV

 




Isak’s phone pinged. He had gotten a picture from Even. Opening it, he smiled brightly. It was a sketch, of himself, Anna and Eva, having chemo. And below, Even had written in neat letters;


And if the darkness is to keep us apart

And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off

And if your glass heart should crack

And for a second you turn back

Oh no, be strong

 

Walk on

Walk on

What you got, they can't steal it

No they can't even feel it

 

 

 

He hadn't known that Even had seen him that day, but it somehow made him happy knowing he had. Knowing that Even knew that Isak had decided to fight.


They had a long road ahead. And they might not make it.

But they were going to try.





Isak had bought new stuff for Anna’s room at Eva’s house. A bed and a desk and everything she needed. But the young girl refused to pack out the boxes she had gotten from her old home.

“Why not?”

“Because I like sleeping in your room. And we are going to move again soon.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, back to your husband and your apartment.”

“Anna… It might not work out. And even if it works out with me and Even, it will be a while until we move back in there.”

“But-“

“Things are complicated Anna. But for now, how about I help you pack out of these boxes and then we can make dinner?”

“Okay.”


————

 

 

FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Anna have decided she wants to move in with you. Well, you and me. She haven't even met you yet and she wants to live with you


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Are you asking to move back in?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN.

No.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

So you don’t want to move back in?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

We have to talk, remember? But If the guest room happens to be empty I’m sure Anna would love to move in there, if things work out.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

My door is always open for you. And Anna.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

See you tomorrow at the wedding?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

You want us to speak tomorrow?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Not the talk we need to have, no. But I want us to be able to celebrate Jonas and Eva together. And I want to talk to you. And I want you to meet Anna.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

<3


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

<3

 

 

 

Come across, you're lost and broken

You're coming to, you're slow and waking

You start to shake

Still haven't spoken, what happened?

I'm coming back and you just don't know when

You want to cry but there's nothing coming

They're gonna push until you give in, say when

Now we're here and it turns to chaos

Hurricanes coming all around us

Another crack throws you back from the window

You stay low

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Take me to church

I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death

Good God, let me give you my life

 

 

JONAS’ POV

 

 



He had never been more nervous in his entire life. He wanted this, he really did. He was just so nervous about it anyway.

He loved Eva. She loved him. Question was; is love enough?

He had looked at Isak and Even. Their love was so strong, and they might not make it. They were on the road to making things better, but they have a long way to go.

Then again, the only reason for their problems was major sickness. And himself and Eva was fine.

For now. No-one knew what could happen. They could die tomorrow. One of them could get cancer. Anything was possible. Could he handle it? In sickness and in health? Was he strong enough?

He looked in the mirror. Saw for a second the scared teenager who smoked too much weed and partied every weekend. Who drank too much and made stupid mistakes.

Then he saw the person he had become. He was still scared sometimes. But he was stronger. More put together.

He still doubted that he was good enough for Eva. He knew she was too good for him. He could still not believe that she chose to love him. To marry him.

He straightened up, took a deep breath. He was ready.

He might not be good enough for Eva, but he loved her with his whole soul. And Eva loved him back. And whatever bumps in the road they might hit, they would face them together.

 

 

“You ready?” he heard a voice behind him and found Isak standing there. He looked good, despite being back on chemo. The hair hadn't started falling out yet. He was smiling.

Jonas knew he had been texting with Even this past week. He knew they were planning to talk. He hoped, with all his heart, that they would manage to work it out. Isak deserved some happiness for once.

“Are you?” Jonas countered.

Isak laughed, and then shook his head. “I’m ready to watch my two best friends get married. I’m not quite ready to try and save my own marriage.”

“Isak-“

“I have messed up so much Jonas. Left him when he needed me the most. Broken him down over and over. And still I find myself needing him. It’s selfish. I have nothing to give him.”

“You have.”

“What? What can I give him? A life in suffering and pain?”

“Love. You can give him love.”

“But will that be enough?”

“For the most of us, it is. Love is enough. Love can concur almost anything, Isak.”

“When did you become so wise?”

“Pft, I always were.”

“True.”

And then they walked out of the room together.

 

 

—————-




ISAK’S POV


Sitting in the same church he sat in losing both his parents, but also the same church he married Even in, gave him mixed feelings.

He was going to be Jonas’ best man. Of course he was. When the ceremony was about to start he stood up, and told Anna to go sit by Eva’s mother. The little girl refused to leave his side. She had barely met Eva’s mom before, so he understood. He just got a little frustrated.

“Wanna sit with us?” he heard a deep and familiar voice behind him.

He turned around, finding Even, Lisa and Anders.

“Who are you?” Anna asked point blank, like any eight year old would. Isak could see Even debating the answer.

Not giving him the chance to answer, Isak put his arm around Anna’s shoulders and said “Anna, this is my husband Even and my parents in law, Lisa and Anders.”

“This is Even?” Anna asked, looking at him like he was stupid. “Boy, you really are stupid.” she added, and Isak couldn't help but laugh. He saw Lisa snickering as well, Anders fighting a laugh by coughing. Even just raised his eyebrow, before holding his hand out to Anna. She grabbed it, and Isak could hear her asking him questions as they walked away.

Even looked back over his shoulder, giving Isak a small smile. Isak returned the smile.

They had a lot to talk about. And he had a feeling things would work out this time.

But right now, Eva and Jonas getting married were the most important thing.

——

 


EVA’S POV

 



Walking up the aisle, seeing her soon to be husband waiting for her, was a memory Eva knew she would never ever want to forget. It was magical, beautiful. The church was filled with friends and family. Loved ones.

Had anyone asked her eight years ago if she thought she would ever do this, ever marry Jonas Vasquez, she would have laughed. Told them it would never be anything but a dream. But here she was, marrying her high school sweetheart, the man she had loved since she first met him.

She walked up and stood beside Jonas, smiled at him, before throwing a quick glance at Isak. She was so happy he was here. And he looked so happy.

And in that moment, Eva felt like things might work out. For all of them.

“I, Jonas Noah Vasquez, take you, Eva Kviig Mohn, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”

 

“I, Eva Kviig Mohn, take you, Jonas Noah Vasquez, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”


They had debated writing their own vows. But they decided against. They wanted the traditional ones. Whatever else they wanted to tell each other had already been said.

When the priest announced them husband and wife, Eva smiled so brightly she was sure they could have seen it from the moon.


———



ISAK’S POV



The ceremony was beautiful and reminded Isak of his own wedding. What he remembered of it, anyway.

Anna ran over to him as they were leaving the church, clutching to his side. He held her close and smiled at her. “Where they nice to you?”

“They were very nice. But you are stupid Isak.”

“How so?”

“Even is great. And soooo pretty.”

Isak chuckled. “I know.”

“And you still want to divorce him?”

“I don’t think so, no.”

“Good. Because I want you and him to be my new parents. I don’t want to have to live with strangers.”

“Anna, we talked about this. If I can’t adopt you, Eva and Jonas will try.”

“I know. And I like them. But I want you. And Even.”

Isak smiled at her. “I want that to.”

When they arrived at the reception, Isak found out that Eva, the sneaky bitch, had placed him and Anna at a table with Lisa, Anders and Even. And he didn't mind one bit.

Speeches were held. Isak had prepared one of his own. This time Anna didn't make a fuss about him leaving her. She just crawled into Even’s lap. Isak had a feeling she did it to demonstrate. He found himself smiling anyway.

“When I first got to know Jonas and then Eva, I instantly knew that they were meant to be. They were, and still are, soulmates.

They have had a few bumps in the road. More then some, less then others.” He exchanged a look with Even, before looking back at Jonas and Eva.

“But what I wanted to talk about today, is how wonderful they both are. Not only together and with each other, but also with others. They have taken care of me for two years now, helped me fight for my life, and I can honestly say that I would never have made it without them.

Standing here today, I am so proud of them both. For the people they are, the people they have become. And I am so grateful to be able to stand here today, to watch these two get the happy ending they deserve. Jonas. Eva. I love you guys. May the odds be ever in your favour and may your love last forever.”


When he sat back down, Anna remained in Even’s lap, but reached for his hand. He held her hand, and exchanged another look with Even. His husband was smiling at him. Isak smiled back.

——-

Speeches and cake-cutting and dances later, Lisa and Anders asked Anna to come dance with them, telling her that Isak and Even needed to talk.

Isak was taken aback. He wasn't prepared to have this talk here. But then again, he reasoned, this would be as good a place as any.

“So you adopted a child.” Even started, smiling.

“Temporary custody.” Isak corrected him. “But if I stay in remission I want to adopt her. But Even, we-“

“We have stuff to talk about. I know. But we don’t have to talk about all of it now. How about we take it bit by bit, day by day, minute by minute?”

 

Isak nodded.

“Come by my parents house one day. They can watch Anna and we can talk.”

“Sounds good.” Isak gulped. He wasn't ready to talk. He knew they had to. He just wanted to prolong it. He grabbed his champagne glass, took a sip.

Even laughed.

“What are you laughing at?”

“You remember our wedding?”

“Uhm.” Isak said, making a face. “I remember the ceremony, vaguely. And I think I remember parts of the reception but it… I was so sick.”

“I know.” Even’s smile fell a little and he took a few seconds before he spoke again. “Anyway, I was laughing because you were so grumpy about not being able to drink champagne.” he said, nodding to the glass Isak now was holding.

“Oh. Right. Now that you say it, I kind of remember that part.” Isak smiled. “Technically, I’m not supposed to drink this time either.”

“Yeah. But one glass is probably okay you know.” Even took a sip of his own glass.

“I wish I hadn't been so sick during our wedding.”

“I know.”

“Maybe we could have a do-over?”

“Another wedding? Are you asking me to marry you again Isak, because we aren't technically divorced you know.” Even joked with a smile. Isak loved that smile.

“No, another reception. Or wedding party. Or yeah. One where I can actually stand on my feet long enough to dance with my husband and have champagne and enjoy it properly.”

“We’re not getting divorced then?”

“We’re not. Unless you want to?” Isak asked, biting his lip nervously.

“Never.” Even whispered, before leaning forward and kissing him softly. Isak grabbed the back of Even’s neck and deepened the kiss.

When they pulled apart, Isak let himself get lost in Even’s eyes. And he knew, in that moment, that they would be fine. Cancer or no cancer, arguments or no arguments. They would find a way together. Til kingdom come.

“A child, huh?” Even smirked, sipping some more champagne.

“I probably should have run that by you, is that what you're implying?”

“Maybe. But I don’t disapprove, and you know that.”

“I know. She will need some time to get to know you. Before we move back in.”

“So you’re moving back in?”

“If you’ll let me.” Isak said, hopefulness in his voice. “But not yet. I need some time.”

“Of course. I told you my door is always open for you.”


They emptied their glasses, and figuring they had talked enough for now, went out on the dance-floor.


Settle down with me

Cover me up

Cuddle me in


He saw Even looking hopefully at him before holding out a hand. Isak hesitated. Slow dancing wasn't exactly the ‘right’ thing for them to be doing right now. It was a little to intimate right now. But then again… They had been married for eight years, and what harm could a slow dance do? After all, they hadn't gotten to do this during their own wedding. Not properly. He grabbed the hand, and let Even pull him close. A little closer than necessary. Isak didn't mind one bit.

Lie down with me

And hold me in your arms

 


Isak inhaled the scent of Even. He closed his eyes and let Even control their movements. He could feel Even’s breath in his hair, close to his ear, and it made butterflies rise in his stomach. He wanted to grab Even’s hair, and pull him into a kiss. He knew he shouldn’t. So he didn’t.

 

 

And your heart's against my chest, your lips pressed in my neck

I'm falling for your eyes, but they don't know me yet

And with a feeling I'll forget, I'm in love now

 

 

Even pulled him a little closer, and now their chests were touching. Isak wondered if he should say something, to make this less awkward. Or just pull away. But then he realised it wasn’t. It wasn’t awkward at all.

 

Kiss me like you wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

This feels like falling in love

Falling in love

We're falling in love

 

 

Maybe it was the champagne. Maybe it was the way Even’s scent made him dizzy and maybe it was the closeness that played with his head. But Isak suddenly pulled back, gazed into Even’s blue eyes, and kissed him.


It was a brief kiss, and the second their lips met, all Isak could think was how right it felt, at the same time how wrong.

It wasn't wrong because he didn't have those feelings anymore or because he wasn't planning on giving their relationship a try. It was wrong because he had feelings for Even. Because he wanted to make this work. And for this to work, they needed to talk first, and not just jump back into things.

“Sorry.” He pulled away quickly.

“Don’t be.” Even breathed out, tried to pull him back in. But Isak slipped out of his grip and ran of the dance floor.


-

Eva came to find him in the bathroom soon after. He was crying, and trying to wipe the tears away.

“Isak? Isak what happened?”

He just shook his head. Refused to let her hug him, saying it would ruing her dress and makeup.

“Isak I don’t care. Why are you crying? I saw you dancing with Even…”

“I love him Eva. I love him so much.”

“Isak-“

“But I’m so bad for him. And I might die. Oh my god, Eva, I don’t wanna die. I really really don’t wanna die.” he was now full on sobbing and she pulled him into her arms, despite his protests.

“Isak. I know there is no help in me telling you this, but you may end up being in remission after this round, and then there is an actual possibility of it never coming back. And you are not bad for Even. That boy loves you so damn much, he would go through hell and high water for you. And I know you would so the same for him. You just need to take one day at a time, and most importantly you need to talk to him. You and Even need to talk.”

He nodded slowly against her chest.

“Now, dry those tears, because I can hear our song playing so we have to get out there and dance! No more crying tonight, okay?”

He nodded, accepted the paper tissue she handed him, and dried his eyes. And then he followed her out on the dance floor, dancing with her.

I'm in love with the shape of you

We push and pull like a magnet do

Although my heart is falling too

I'm in love with your body

And last night you were in my room

And now my bedsheets smell like you

Every day discovering something brand new

I'm in love with your body

 

 

And the whole time he was dancing, his eyes were on Even. Even, who were sitting with Jonas, talking with the other man and occasionally meeting his gaze with an unsure smile.

—-


EVEN’S POV

 



He hadn't quite understood what had happened on the dance floor between him and Isak. Did this mean Isak didn't feel anything for him after all this time? Or just that it was too much too soon? He hoped for the latter.

He watched Eva running after Isak and made his way over to Jonas. They never really understood each other. But Jonas understood Isak. So Even sat down next to him, and asked him point blank “Did I do something wrong?”

Jonas slowly shook his head. “I just think he got a little bit overwhelmed right now.”

“How so?”

“He has so much on his plate. Cancer. Losing his parents. That kid. But worst of all, he feels like he had lost you. Failed you. And he loves you so much Even. But right now he needs time. And you need to talk, the two of you. Time to stop this dance where you ignore and avoid each other and do crazy stunts.”

“Hah. Too soon.” Even replied dryly. “But I admit it, it was stupid.”

“Yeah. You love him, he loves you, the rest you can work out. But you can’t work it out without talking.”

“I know. But tonight is not the right timing, Tonight is about you and Eva. And about joy and happiness. And parts of our talk is not going to be happy. So tonight is not the night.”

“I know. But it better be soon.” Jonas said, emptied his champagne glass. “Looks like your husband is dancing with my wife.” he said, nodding to the dance floor.

Even turned his head, and looked at Isak, meeting his eyes. He smiled, not sure what Isak was thinking and feeling right now. Isak and Eva looked happy, shaking their hips and dancing to the upbeat song. Turning back to Jonas, he got an idea.

“Hey, do you mind if I play for you guys?”

“Dude that would be awesome if you could!”

“What’s your song?”

“Our song?”

“All couples have a song Jonas!”

“What’s yours?”

“Til Kingdom Come.”

Jonas was thoughtful for a while. “Oh. Right. We agreed on it months ago. I just forgot. How could I forget?”

“Because you're so in love with that wife of yours all you can think of is her. Easy. What’s the song?”

“Chasing cars.”

Even threw another glance at Isak, again meeting his eyes.

“Ready to go and dance with your wife Jonas?”

“Yes.”


Even walked up to the guy who controlled the music and asked him to borrow a mic and a guitar.

People stopped dancing as the music stopped, so Even grabbed the mic and put it on a stand.

“Hey everyone. I am Even Næsheim. I asked my friend Jonas here if I could play the newlyweds a song, and he was kind enough to let me.” Some laughed. He could see Eva and Jonas smiling broadly, Isak smiling a bit unsurely at him, his arms around Anna.




“We'll do it all

Everything

On our own

 

We don't need

Anything

Or anyone

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

 



He could see Jonas and Eva dancing together, looking so in love. Just like he and Isak had used to look.

Isak was dancing with Anna, the little girl all smiles and laughs as she tried to learn how to slow dance.

His parents danced too, looking up at him, smiling so broadly.

 

 


“I don't quite know

How to say

How I feel

 

Those three words

Are said too much

They're not enough

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

Forget what we're told

Before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life”



Despite this being Eva and Jonas’ song, it somehow fit him and Isak too. He almost felt tears pressing. Blinking them away, he concentrated on singing. And looking at Eva and Jonas, smiling at their happiness.

 

 

 

“Let's waste time

Chasing cars

Around our heads

 

I need your grace

To remind me

To find my own

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

 

Forget what we're told

Before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life

 

All that I am

All that I ever was

Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

 

I don't know where

Confused about how as well

Just know that these things will never change for us at all

 

If I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”


While he had been singing, watching Jonas and Eva dance and laugh and smile, he had gotten an idea. And before he got he chance to change his mind, he grabbed the mic and looked at the crowd. “I just want to play you guys one more song. It’s for my husband, it’s our song.” he locked eyes with Isak and started playing.



“Steal my heart and hold my tongue.

I feel my time, my time has come.

Let me in, unlock the door.

I've never felt this way before.”


He never looked away from Isak. And Isak never broke the eye contact either. He couldn't read Isak’s facial expression. But he wasn't smiling. Maybe it made him sad?

 

“The wheels just keep on turning,

The drummer begins to drum,

I don't know which way I'm going,

I don't know which way I've come.

 

Hold my head inside your hands,

I need someone who understands.

I need someone, someone who hears,

For you, I've waited all these years.

 

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come.

Until my day, my day is done.

And say you'll come, and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

 

In your tears and in your blood,

In your fire and in your flood,

I hear you laugh, I heard you sing,

"I wouldn't change a single thing."

 

The wheels just keep on turning,

The drummers begin to drum,

I don't know which way I'm going,

I don't know what I've become.”


He could feel a tear slowly dripping down his cheek. This song always reminded him of Isak. Of their marriage. Of their love. But also of that terrible time where he thought Isak would die. He could see tears streaming down Isak’s face as well. Maybe this had been a wrong choice. Maybe he should have left the stage after singing Chasing Cars. But something in Isak’s face told him that Isak had needed this, probably more than Even.

 

“For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come,

Until my days, my days are done.

Say you'll come and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.”


When he stepped down from the stage after returning the mic and the guitar, and the DJ put on more music, Isak was gone.


Give me love like her

'Cause lately I've been waking up alone

Paint splattered teardrops on my shirt

Told you I'd let them go

And that I'll fight my corner

Maybe tonight I'll call ya

After my blood turns into alcohol

No, I just wanna hold ya

 

Give a little time to me or burn this out

We'll play hide and seek to turn this around

All I want is the taste that your lips allow

My, my, my, my, oh give me love



He couldn't find Isak or Anna anywhere. When he finally went and asked Jonas and Eva, they exchanged a weird look and told him that Isak had decided to take Anna home because it was late.

When he turned to leave, Eva grabbed his shoulder. “Things will work out Even. Just give him some time. He loves you, so so much.”

He nearly broke down crying right then and there. “I love him too.” he whispered. Then, lifting his voice a little, he said “Enjoy your night, you guys look so amazing right now.” and hugged them both, forcing a smile, before he left to go find his parents.

As he approached them, he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket.

 

 


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Can we meet tomorrow? We need to talk and I can’t stand waiting anymore. Maybe your parents could watch Anna for a few hours?



Even just showed his mother the message, not finding his voice right now. She nodded quickly, smiling broadly and started chatting about where she and Anders could take Anna.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Yes to both. Meet at their place?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Sounds perfect. Any preferences on when?



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

You actually have a day of? Whenever is fine btw



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Hah. It’s Sunday tomorrow and I REFUSED to be on call this weekend because of the wedding. Be there around noon.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Sounds good.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

And Even?



FROM EVEN TO ISAK

Yes?



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

I love you. Til kingdom come <3



Even and his parents left the wedding soon after, taking a cab. He smiled the whole way home, and kept re-reding Isak’s last text until he fell asleep. He had responded with a ‘<3’.

Because it felt right.



 

If I'm a pagan of the good times

My lover's the sunlight

To keep the Goddess on my side

She demands a sacrifice

 

Drain the whole sea

Get something shiny

Something meaty for the main course

That's a fine-looking high horse

What you got in the stable?

We've a lot of starving faithful

 

Take me to church

I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death

Good God, let me give you my life

 

 

 

Chapter Text

ISAK’S POV

 

I'm sitting eyes wide open and I got one thing stuck in my mind

Wondering if I dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life, oh

 

 

 

“I’ve been stupid.” Isak said.

They were sitting in Lisa and Anders living room. They had taken Anna on a walk with Buddy, going to feed the ducks. Giving Isak and Even time to talk.

“Isak-“

“No. I need to say this. Please.” he pleaded.

Even nodded at him, saying he would listen.

“I’ve been stupid. I have been thinking that I know what’s best for you. I thought if I pushed you away, if I let you live your life without me, you would be fine. And also, I did it to spare myself of the heartbreak, knowing that I might push you over the edge or cause you to suffer. But I know now how stupid that was. I totally underestimated you. I didn't even take you opinion into consideration. I never asked you what you wanted. If you wanted this life or not. And also, I realised, I need you Even. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t keep fighting this battle alone. And I like I said once before; I can live without you. But I don’t want to. I don’t ever want to.”

Even was quiet for a long time. But he grabbed Isak’s hand, and held it. Took a sip of his coffee, then carefully put the cup down.

“Isak. I can’t argue on any of that. I don’t think you ARE stupid, but shutting me out when you actually needed me WAS stupid. And like I said before, I am grateful for you not telling me when I was working on healing myself. But when you sent me those papers, just because I had a manic episode, it hurt. And I knew why you did it and I kind of hated you for it. The same with your Switzerland idea. I understood it but hated it. And in the hospital, those first few weeks, I wanted to die. I thought you didn't want me anymore, my mind kept making up all these reasons, and you didn't visit-“

“I did.”

“What?”

“I visited you every night before my surgery. I did your night check.”

“Why didn't you ever try to come during the day?”

Isak shrugged. “Lisa thought it would make it worse, the condition you were in at the time. I agreed. Your therapist agreed. I was the reason you were in there. I was the one who caused your pain. And I was still set on not fighting at the time, so… I kept away.”

“But then you started coming at night, after the surgery? But you still hadn't changed your mind about fighting then?”

“Eva yelled at me. And Adam.”

“Yelled at you? ”

“They made me realise how badly I treated you. Yes, I have cancer. I am the sick one and it gives me a lot of free passes. But how I treated you… there is no excuse. Adam told me, point blank, that he didn't believe that I love you, because you don’t destroy the person you love. Eva said the same. And I realised then, that it was exactly what I had been doing, by sending you separation papers, pushing you away despite knowing you were well enough to handle it. Sending you divorce papers. I treated you so badly, and I am so so sorry about that Even.” Isak was crying now.

Even tried to pull him into a hug but Isak refused. “I don’t deserve you.” he sobbed.

“Isak. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. You reacted and acted as you found right at the time. And I understand why you did all those things. And I love you, despite everything that has happened between us. I forgive you. And you have to forgive yourself.”

“It’s going to take time Even. I need time to do that.”

“And I will give you all the time you need. Just promise you’ll come back to me when you’ve found yourself again. When you have forgiven yourself.”

“I don’t want to leave. I want to stay. Not- not move back in right away, but I need to see you. I need to be with you. I need to stay in your life.”

“Then stay.”

“I… I need to get help, to learn how to be myself again. To forgive myself.”

“I’ll be here for you, Isak. But I think that you should probably keep going to Sana.”

“You know I’ve been going to her?”

“She let it slip.” Even smiled at him.

They sat in silence for a while again. Then Isak felt the tears pressing and suddenly he was sobbing again. Sobbing for all that had happened to him. Sobbing for having to fight cancer. Sobbing for the loss of his parents. Sobbing for the way he had treated Even. Sobbing for everything he had kept to himself these past two years.

And this time, he let Even pull him into his arms and hold on tight.

 

I've been here before

But always hit the floor

I've spent a lifetime running

And I always get away

But with you I'm feeling something

That makes me want to stay

 


————

 

FLASHBACK - THE NIGHT IN THE HOSPITAL

After Eva and Jonas had left, Isak had tried and failed to get some sleep. An hour or two later, someone came into his room, a person he knew who was. But they had never officially met. He looked at the man standing next to his bed.

“Adam.” he said, plainly.

“Isak.” the other man answered, his accent showing he wasn't Norwegian.

“What brings you here?” Isak asked him, in English.

“Even.”

“Ah. You're here to yell at me? Because all my friends already have done that. It won’t make a difference. Say whatever you want to say, but I won’t change my mind. I won’t do more chemo and I will die and Even will be better of without me.”

“Isak. I don’t really care what you choose to do next. I just came here to tell you that I think you treated Even really shitty. You knew this could push him over an edge. But you did it anyway. And yes, I understand that having cancer sucks. But you don’t hurt the people you love just because your sick and feel bad.”

“I love him, I really do, that’s why-“

“You didn’t love him. You just didn't want to be alone. Or maybe he was good for your ego. Or maybe he made you feel better about your miserable life. That’s why you tried to mend things, only to break it of again in the most ruthless way ever. But you didn’t love him, because you don’t destroy the person that you love.”

Adam turned around to leave, leaving Isak to cry in peace. Did he love Even? Maybe he didn’t? Because Adam was right, you don’t destroy the person you love. And he had just destroyed Even.

“One more thing Isak. I used to like you. I rooted for you and Even. I understood you needing space. But doing this to him? You lost my respect. And you probably don’t care about that. And frankly, neither to I. But I’m willing to give you one more chance. If you truly do love Even, then prove it.”

And then he left, leaving Isak sobbing and alone, alone with his thoughts. Alone with his guilt. Alone with not a single person left in the world.


————-

 

 

 

“Isak. You know that the only way for these feelings to go away is to talk about them.”

“I know Sana.”

“You have to forgive yourself. You said it yourself, Even has forgiven you.”

“I think I need some more time.”

“That is perfectly normal. Just promise to talk to me whenever you feel to overwhelmed.”

“I promise.”

“Good. Let’s switch subjects for a while. How is Anna?”

“As well as any eight year old who has lost her parents.”

“Has she accepted Even?”

“Yes. Right away. She spends a lot of time with Lisa and Anders too.”

“That’s good. Are you and Even adopting her?”

“We’re not quite there yet.”

“How so?”

“We need to work on ourselves, both in therapy and together. Spend time together. Find out if we can get past all of this, everything that has happened.”

“It sound to me that you're the one who needs to work on it. Even doesn’t. He has forgiven you. He knows what he wants. You're the one who have to figure it out.”

“I know. But I need to do it with him, not without.”

“That, I agree on.”

 


————

 

 

How do I live? How do I breathe?

When you're not here I'm suffocating

I want to feel love, run through my blood

Tell me is this where I give it all up?

For you I have to risk it all

'Cause the writing's on the wall

 

 

 

 

Isak convinced Anna to stay with Lisa and Anders for a weekend and he and Even packed up Isak’s car and drove up into the mountains. It was a place he and Jonas had found on their trip earlier. This time Isak packed a tent, so they wouldn't have to sleep in the car.

As they set up the tent, which Even was good at but Isak sucked at, they talked a little about their two years apart.

“Okay. I have to ask this and you get to be mad, but… You spent two years with another man. Did you once, like ever, feel anything for him?”

“Beyond platonic affection and gratefulness? Never.” Even answered easily.

“And you never met someone, never thought about finding someone easier to live with”

“Never.” Even said quickly. “Why? Did you?”

“No. The only one I wanted, the only one I still want, is you.”

“Me too.”

They shared a smile and finished putting up the tent in silence.

Making hot-dogs over a campfire and sitting together under a blanket, watching the stars, Isak felt himself relax a bit. Maybe, given enough time, they could find their way back to each other.

If only he had time.


—-

“When is your next scan?” Even asked as they crawled into separate sleeping bags. They had agreed to stay married, and work on their relationship, but Isak still felt like they were teenagers all over again, at the beginning of a relationship.

“Next week.” Isak answered. And before Even had a chance to speak, he added “Wanna come?”

“I’d love to.”


Isak moved closer to Even and rested his head in the crook of his husband’s neck.

“I will fight. For you. For Anna. And for myself. No matter the results, I will keep fighting Even.”

He heard the other boy breath out in relief. “Thank you.” Even whispered.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Til kingdom come.”

“Til kingdom come.”

 

They talked for the rest of the weekend, and when they returned home, Isak felt like things would work out. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but some day. And that was all he needed. The promise of some day.

 

 

—————

 

 

Even went with him to the scan. He held his hand as they waited for the result. And he held him for an hour when he cried in relief when it came back clear.

He let Even drive him home, and kissed him on the cheek before leaving the car. He could see Even wanted to say something, wanted something more. Wanted them to move forwards, faster. But he wasn't there. Not yet.

-

 


Some days they fought about it. Like right now, when Isak had walked Even to his car and they were standing on the pavement outside Eva and Jonas’ house.

“Why won’t you come back home? We have three bedrooms, we can just make a bedroom out of the office. You don’t have to share a bed with me. Just move back in. We are married for gods sake!”

“Even. I can’t. I need more time.”

“Time to do what? Distance yourself from me?”

“That’s not fair. You see me every day, we try to eat dinner together every day. No, we may not kiss and hug and all that stuff all the time yet, because I need more time.”

“I feel like you're pushing me away. We’re not moving forwards Isak. We’re at a halt. I feel like… Like I’m fucking friend zoned or something, like we’re already divorced.”

“Even-“

“No. Don’t. You just keep repeating yourself Isak. I can’t hear it one more time. ‘You need time’. Fine. Then I’m leaving. Because I know that it’s not time you need. It’s a person who’s not to mentally fucked up to help you raise Anna you need.”

“Even-“

“Bye.”

And then Even just got into his car and left.


-

 

Three days later they were okay again. Not fine, just okay. Jonas and Eva had helped him make up an excuse for Anna, about Even being away on a business trip. Because he never usually missed a dinner. And now he was suddenly away for three.

When Anna asked him about his trip, Even just caught on and rolled with it, telling her it was awesome but that he had missed her. And after dinner that night, he watched a movie with her and put her to bed.

“I’ll just leave.” he said to Isak, Jonas and Eva who was in the kitchen.

“Stay.” Isak said, maybe a bit too quickly.

“Why?”

“We need to talk.” Isak bit his lip.

Even just stared at him blankly, before shaking his head. “We don’t have anything to talk about right now.”


And then he left.


But at least this time, he didn't stay away for three days. He came for dinner every day and helped with Anna. But he didn't speak to Isak unless it was necessary.

 

——————

 

 

Since the school year already had started, they needed to go to a few meetings with the school. They decided that changing schools would be too much for Anna right now, so they made out a schedule, so that one of them (Isak, Jonas, Eva and Even) would drive her to school and pick her up again.

Isak went alone with Anna and the social worker on the first school meeting, and without Anna the second time. He got some schoolwork for her to do so she wouldn't be to far behind.

The night before her first day back, Anna crept into his bed. She had been sleeping in her own bed a few weeks now. But now she crawled back in, and he let her.

“Can you and Even both follow me tomorrow?” she asked quietly.

“I can ask him, but he might be busy.” he replied, and reached for his phone. The young girl just nodded.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 21.18

Anna wants to know if you can join us tomorrow, when she’s going back to school


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 21.21

Of course. When does she start?



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 21.25

08.30


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 21.26

I’ll pick you up at 8.

 

 

When he turned around to tell Anna, she was already sleeping. He smiled, put the phone down, and fell asleep quickly.


————



JONAS’ POV


They settled into a routine. They ate dinner at Eva and Jonas’ house. Jonas had officially moved in and both of their names were on the lease of the house now. They tried to make dinner together all five of them everyday, but some days Eva and Isak had to skip out due to work-shifts or emergency-patients. But Jonas and Even were always there.

Jonas worked on how to act around Even every day. Watched his words, tried to be understanding. Once in a while they disagreed on something, but they always figured it out. Some days he talked to Eva about it, or Isak.

One day, after putting Anna to bed and Isak and Eva were both working night-shifts, as Even was about to leave, he decided to talk to Even about it.

“Even? You have a minute?”

“Sure?”

They went into the living room, and sat down.

“What’s on your mind Jonas?”

“Have I’ve been treating you wrong? Not right now, but in the past? I know I can be kind of a dick sometimes, and I apologise for that, but am I treating you wrong, considering your… diagnose?”

“Jonas. The speech you gave me in the hospital the first time Isak was sick, was exactly what I needed. The one you gave me in the hospital this time, were also what I needed. Just because I’m bipolar doesn't mean I need to be treated like a fragile bird. Act normal around me. If you say or do something out of line, I will call you out on it. But treat me like a normal person. Because most of the time, I am.”


“I know, I didn't mean to-“

“I know. I just wanted to say it out loud. I kind of don't believe it myself some days. But my therapist have told me I need to think about myself as a normal person - because I am. I have episodes, and during those, I need help. But that’s not your problem Jonas, it falls on my therapist. And unfortunately it also falls on Isak.”

“I want to know how to help. During those times. So I can help you. And Isak. And Anna. I want to be able to be a good person, and I feel like I have been so mean to you in the past Even. So, I dunno, I just want to know how to help.”

Even thought for a moment before answering. “Well, if I’m manic and you realise it, try to do collateral damage. I won’t let people control me or tell me no when I’m manic, but I can be steered into another direction. For example you can talk me out of going out the door naked. I would appreciate that.” He laughed. Jonas laughed with him, remembering the time where that actually happened.

“But when I get depressed, there isn't much to do, but wait it out. Take it day by day, or like Isak always says; minute by minute. Because it will eventually pass. So, I dunno, maybe just don't get frustrated with me when I’m either up or down? And treat me like a normal person?”

“Got it.”

“Jonas?”

“I’m glad you asked. I’m glad you care. You are a wonderful friend to Isak and a better husband to Eva than I will ever be to Isak.”

“I disagree.”

“Why?”

“Because you are the perfect husband to Isak. You just don't see it yourself. He loves you, so deeply. And you love him just as deeply. And you are perfect together.”

“We are kind of at a halt. He keeps saying he loves me, but he doesn't show it. He pushes me away, and refuses to talk to me. But at least we’re seeing each other every day. We’re just not out of the woods yet. Some days I feel like we never will be, and that the divorce is inevitable.”

“You get there. He just needs more time Even. Just wait and see. It will work out.”

—————-


EVEN’S POV

 



Been sitting eyes wide open behind these four walls, hoping you'd call

It's just a cruel existence like there's no point hoping at all

 

Baby, baby, I feel crazy, up all night, all night and every day

Give me something, oh, but you say nothing

What is happening to me?

 

I don't wanna live forever, 'cause I know I'll be living in vain

And I don't wanna fit wherever

I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home

 

 

 

 

One night after work, Isak came over to Even’s place. Isak had worked the late shift, so Even, Jonas and Eva had made dinner and helped Anna with homework and put her to bed. So when the doorbell rung fifteen minutes after Even got back to his apartment, he was surprised.

He opened the door, finding Isak on the other side. He looked stressed, nervous.

Before Even had the chance to say a single word, Isak stepped forwards and kissed him. When Even tried to pull back, to ask him what was going on, Isak just grabbed him an deepened the kiss.

-


And that’s how they ended up in Even’s bed an hour later, naked and curled up around each other. Still they hadn't spoken a single word.

“Isak?” Even said.

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay? What’s going on?”

“I.. No. I needed you. Sorry if I did anything wrong-“

“You did nothing wrong.” Even sat up against the headboard and pulled Isak into his arms. “What’s wrong?”

“My next scan. It’s tomorrow.”

“I’m still going with you.”

“Yeah.”

“If that’s okay, I mean?”

“Of course.”

“Why are you nervous?”

“What if it’s back? What about us? What about Anna?”

“We will make it. Together.”

Isak broke down crying in his arms, and Even held him. When the younger man fell asleep, Even grabbed Isak’s phone and texted Eva a little white lie, saying that Isak was working an all nighter and that he wouldn't come home. And then he added that Even would take Anna to school.

And then he manoeuvred Isak and himself down in a laying position and tried to sleep, Isak curled up in his arms. What was going on in Isak’s mind? He had kept Even at an arms length since the talk after Jonas’ and Eva’s wedding. It had been nearly three months now. And then suddenly, he showed up at the doorstep, pulling Even into a kiss, ending up with them having sex. And now Isak was sleeping in his arms.

Even was so confused. But he tried to focus on what he had talked about his therapist with. Isak would confuse him, because life was confusing. And with one of them having cancer and the other being bipolar, it was going to be a rollercoaster.

But she had told him to just take it one day at a time, and when it got to be too much, he needed to talk to her. Or one of his friends. And he needed to give Isak space. And he had been trying.

But up until tonight, Isak had showed no interest in him. He had treated him like they had already been divorced for years. Like they were just friends. He had barely touched him since they had that first talk. And now Isak was here, in his arms, like nothing had ever changed.

He dozed of, confusion still on his mind.

 


————


When he woke up the next morning, Isak had left. He had written a note and left it at the kitchen counter, saying he had to go to work, but would see Even later at the scan and at dinner.

And Even knew, that they had just taken a too big step forwards last night, which meant that Isak would probably distance himself even more from him now.

 

-

 

He was right.

 



FROM ISAK TO EVEN

You don’t have to come to the hospital today. They needed to move some patients around so they did my scan this morning.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

How did it go?


FROM ISAK TO EVEN

Fine. Still all clear.


FROM EVEN TO ISAK

That’s good





He and Isak sometimes ate lunch together when Isak didn't have patients in the middle of the day. But now Isak said no every time he asked. At first he thought it was because Isak was busy at work, but Eva accidentally let it slip that Isak hadn't had any cases during lunchtime for a few days.


It broke Even’s heart.

 

—————-

 

 


ISAK’S POV

 

“What do you mean our application got rejected?”

They were sitting in Lisa and Anders living room, Even, Isak, Lisa, Anders and two social workers. The one processing Anna’s case and one who was in training.

Anna was in Even’s bedroom, watching a movie while they talked.


“Isak. With your medical history” she looked from him to Even “with both of your medical histories, they had to. You have to stay in remission for at least a year for them to consider you a fitting parent.”

“And I will never be even considered.” Even said quickly.

“Well, that depends. Your… suicide attempt, it makes things complicated. Your diagnose in it self is not a reason to disqualify you - bipolar people can raise kids. But since you tried to kill yourself it get’s complicated. Your therapist needs to sign of on your mental situation, and you need to go at least two years without another… attempt.”

Isak just grabbed Even’s hand and squeezed it. “But what does this mean for right now?”

“For now, Anna can stay, but it is on a temporary arrangement. If compatible adoptive parents comes up, she might be placed with them.”

“NO!” Anna had apparently been listening outside the door and now entered the room yelling. “I don’t wanna leave! You CAN’T make me leave!” she turned on her heal and ran away sobbing. The other social worker got up and went after her, telling Isak and Even to stay.

“What if we sign?” Lisa suddenly suggested.

“What do you mean?” the social worker, Maria, asked.

“Like, when parents die, the grandparents get the parental rights unless there are other agreements. What if we sign to fill that role? If anything happens to Isak and Even, we will take care of Anna.”

“It might be a possibility. I will check it out. But how long have you been in remission now Isak?”

“Five months.”

“So, if you are still in remission in seven months and they agree to let Lisa and Anders sign on as “back-up”, I think you have a shot.”

“Do I make the situation worse?” Even asked. “Like, my involvement, considering my problems, does it make our case worse?” Isak knew what he implied, and so did the social worker. Even was asking if the case would be stronger if he and Isak got a divorce.

“Yes and no. If your therapist can sign off on a paper saying you are fit enough to take care of a child should Isak get sick again, that would help your side of this. And the fact that you two are married and have been for several years, make your chances higher than if Isak were to adopt alone. But if she can’t ‘guarantee’ for your stability regarding suicidal thoughts, you weaken the case. It’s kind of not my place to meddle in this, but are you still suicidal?”

Isak could feel Even tense. He knew his husband had bad days where he thought he would be better of dead. But then his husband shook his head.

“No. I have bad days. But that’s how my disorder works. But I have been in therapy three times a week minimum since my suicide attempt. And I no longer want to die. Even if Isak should… get sick again and not make it, I want to keep living. And I want to be a father to Anna.”

“Then just get me the right papers and I will check up on the back-up parents thing. And hopefully they wont find her another placement the next seven months.”

“What are the chances of that happening? Of them finding her another placement?” Isak asked, nervously.

 

“Not that high. She is almost nine now and people wants to adopt younger kids. The odds are good. But I can’t make any promises. But for now, she stays. You're still living with Eva and Jonas Mohn-Vaques?”

“Yeah.” Isak looked nervously at Even. “We… we’re taking things slow still, but for our own sake but also Anna’s. We try to eat dinner together each day and we take her to school and pick her up on shifts. Some days we go over at Even’s to eat dinner there and watch a movie, but we’ll be staying at Eva and Jonas’ place for a while longer.”

He felt Even tense up again. This was a though subject, and it was hard on Even. It was the root of many discussions these days.

“That is perfectly fine. Just remember I have to be notified if you decide to move - wherever you decide to move. Since you are temporary guardians we need to be able to come on visits, both announced and unannounced. Like we have discussed earlier - I trust you completely, but it’s our policy to do those visits, for the sake of the child.”

“I know. And I will let you know.” Isak answered. He could feel and see the tension in Even’s body. They were probably going to have an argument about this later. But that was okay. It was better for them to get their thoughts out in the open than bottling it up.

So when the social workers left, he suggested he and Even could take a walk with Buddy after they had talked to Anna. Even just nodded and they walked into the room Anna had escaped to - Even’s old bedroom. She was curled up on the bed, crying.

“Anna.” Isak said, sitting down and touching her shoulder.

“I don’t want to leave.”

“I know sweetie.” Even said, sitting down on the other side, also putting a hand on her, stroking her cheek gently. Isak felt his heart burst, seeing how good Even was with her.

“We are gonna do our very best to stop it from happening, okay? We want you to stay.”

“I can’t lose another pair of parents.” she whispered. Isak felt his heart break. She was so young, and had gone through so much. So he exchanged a look with Even, who nodded and then they both climbed into the bed, on each side of Anna, and held her tight.

“We’re not giving up without a fight Anna. I promise you that. I will fight for you.” Isak whispered.

“And so will I.” Even said quietly.


 

When they had walked in silence for almost an hour, before Even started speaking.

“Isak-“

“No.”

“No? You don’t even know what I’m about to say and you just say no?”

“I know what you're about to say?”

“And what is that?”

“You’re going into the argument we always end up in. ‘Why won’t you move back home with me’ or ‘you don’t love me anymore’.”

“Well, you never actually answer, you just argue back.”

“I need time.”

“THAT’S IT, RIGTH THERE, YOU KEEP AVOIDING WHAT I ASK!”

“Sorry-“

“NO. NO MORE SORRY. ANSWER ME. WHY WON’T YOU MOVE BACK IN?”

“Because I need time.”

“But how much time, Isak? We may not have eternal time.”

“I FUCKING know that.”

“Why don’t make the most of it? WHY keep dragging this out? Don’t you want to be with me anymore, is that it? Do you WANT that divorce? Or are you afraid that I will fuck up your life and your chances to adopt Anna?”

“I’m- I just need more time Even.”

And then Isak just walked away from Even before the argument could continue in it’s circle of endlessness.


————-

 


When he and Anna got back home he put the girl to bed before joining Jonas and Eva on the couch. He told them what the social worker had said, and curled up under a blanket.

“Did you and Even fight again?” Eva asked him. “You have that look.”

“Yeah.”

“Why don’t you want to move in with him?” Jonas asked, adding “and no, we don’t want you and Anna to move out.”

“Because… I’m just not ready.”

“Why?”

“I just… It doesn't feel like the right time.”

Eva and Jonas exchanged looks. “Isak. Life isn't about waiting for the right moments but living the ones handed to you.”

Isak sat up, studied them both. “Okay. Something is up, because you guys never try to push me into making a decision. Spill.”

Eva and Jonas exchanged a look, smiling broadly, before turning to him.

Jonas cleared his throat and spoke. “Eva is pregnant.”

 

 

 

————-

 

EVEN’S POV


Trying hard not to hear, but they talk so loud

Their piercing sounds fill my ears, try to fill me with doubt

Yet I know that the goal, is to keep me from falling

But nothings greater, than the rush that comes with your embrace

And in this world of loneliness, I see your face

Yet everyone around me, thinks that I'm going crazy, maybe, maybe





He didn't notice it at first. The mania coming. He was up all night painting, without feeling tired the next day. He got so much stuff done, cleaned the apartment, ran with Buddy, drove Anna to school, picked her up, ate dinner with Eva and Jonas and sometimes Isak and painted or played all night.

He had started going to his therapist only once a week.

“Even? You look like you're losing your grip.”

“I feel fine.”

“Yes. That’s what concerns me. You have been down and sad for so long and now your all smiles. You know that is one of the signs. Even, maybe we should up your dosage or you should stay in the hospital for a few days so it doesn't spiral out of control this time?”

“No. I’m fine. I’m just feeling better. I’m accepting the situation. I’m just dealing with it. I’m not manic.”

“Even, you are.”

“No.” he stood up. “No. Stop controlling me!” and then he had stormed out before she could stop him.


Everything after that was a blur. He knew he had painted a lot. He saw the paintings later. They were really good. But they showed signs of mania.

He hadn't realised what was happening until he woke up in the hospital. He had apparently decided that jumping from the balcony had been an excellent idea. But they didn't live that high up, so he had ended up with a broken leg, a concussion and a broken collarbone.

And a hysteric mother.

“Even.”

“Mom, I’m so sorry.”

“Shush, baby. It’s okay.” she was crying. It was not okay.

Isak burst through the door, looking like hell. He had probably worked a long shift and then having to deal with Even… Even felt so ashamed. So he just broke down crying, saying he was sorry again and again.

He remember Isak climbing into the bed with him, holding him carefully and telling him it was okay.

-


When he woke up again, feeling like he always did after an episode - down but at least able to think, process what had happened, he cried again. He was alone in his hospital room, and it was dark outside.

He knew he needed something to eat or drink and his meds, so he was about to press the nurse-button when Isak entered the room, a clipboard in his hands.

“Family don’t treat family.” Even said quietly, and watched Isak almost jump in shock. He had probably expected Even to still be sleeping.

“Yeah, but you're an exception.” Isak smiled softly when he had gathered himself.

And then Even was crying again.

“Even. Baby.” Isak was suddenly there, wrapping him up in a hug. “We’ll get through this.”

“We won’t. You don’t love me anymore.”

“I do.”

“You haven't loved me since I left for Paris.”

“I have loved you since the first day we met Even.”

“You’re pushing me away.”

“I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“Fucking up I guess. I- I come from a family where things were messed up ever since I was little. But I thought we would be different. And then I got cancer again, and I guess that I’m just scared. I’m scared of wanting this life with you. Because I do. I want us to buy a bigger house with a garden and adopt Anna and buy her a puppy or kitten or whatever and live happily ever after. But I’m scared that if we start moving forwards towards that, and I get my hopes up, they will end up being crushed again, because the cancer will never leave me.”

“Isak…”

“I’m just scared Even. But I love you. With my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I’ve got.”

 

 

“Home

Hard to know what it is

If you never had one

Home

I can't say where it is

But I know I'm going

Home

That's where the hurt is

And I know it aches

And your heart it breaks

You can only take so much

Walk on

Leave it behind

You've got to leave it behind” Even sang quietly. He could feel Isak crying into his neck, and despite the feeling of heaviness and hopelessness and emptiness Even always felt after coming down from an episode, he felt a small spark of hope. Isak loved him.

Everything was a mess, but Isak still loved him. And that was all that mattered right now.

 

 

 

 

When I'm not with you, I'm not me

Nothing ever feels good

When I'm not with you

I'm not in control of what I do, it's not me

When I'm not with you, I'm not me

Nothing ever feels good

When I'm not with you

I'm not in control of what I do, it's not me

When I'm not with you

 

 

 

 

—-

 

 

 

 

 

ISAK’S POV

 

 

Where there is desire

There is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame

Someone's bound to get burned

But just because it burns

Doesn't mean you're gonna die

You've gotta get up and try, and try, and try

Gotta get up and try, and try, and try

You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

 

 

 

After he had gotten that call about Even in the hospital, Isak had realised how stupid he had been. He had agreed to try. And then he had been a coward and pulled away from Even, keeping him at an arms length, not getting to close.

Except that night where he broke down and went over to Even’s place and had sex with him - only to leave the next day and push him further away.

And he knew that Even’s manic episode probably wasn't his fault. But it made him think. It made him realise what had happened. He had been pushing Even away because he was scared. He was scared of fucking up his family, like his parents had done with theirs.

But he wasn't his father and Even wasn't his mother. And Anna was a much stronger child then he and Lea had been. And the situation was different.

And Isak needed to man up.

So he stayed by Even’s side for a whole week in the hospital, only leaving the room to shower or treat patients.

When Even was allowed to go home, he brought him home to Eva and Jonas. And let him stay in his bed. And they slept, wrapped up in each other.

When Even one day started feeling better, joining them for their Sunday breakfast, Isak kissed him good morning, and made Even sit next to him.

“What happened to taking it slow?” Even asked, his blue eyes hopeful yet questioning.

“Forget slow. I love you. That’s all that matters.”

And then he kissed Even again, and kept kissing him until Eva and Anna entered the room. Jonas was smirking at him from the other end of the table, and instead of flipping him of like he usually would have, Isak just smiled back.

They had told Even and Anna about Eva being pregnant. About the same time as they had explained to Anna what was going on with Even and why. The girl accepted it all.

She had spent afternoons cuddled up next to Even while he slept, and read baby books with Eva.

Isak was so proud of her.

 



——



It was his last scan. It had been a year since they declared him to be in remission. He was terrified.

Even came with him. Anna stayed with Lisa and Anders. She had wanted to come, but Isak was afraid there would be bad news. And if the cancer was back, that meant she would probably have to leave them…

Sitting there, waiting for the result, he had a bad feeling. The same feeling he had before his last diagnose. And before the first one.

“Isak. There is a tumour in your lung.”

His world collapsed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough

Just a second we're not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again

It's in the stars, it's been written in the scars on our hearts

We're not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again

 

 

Chapter Text

 

EVEN’S POV

 



I wish I was stronger

I wish I was brave

I wish I made memories

 

instead of mistakes...

I wanna live longer

I wanna be wise

I wanna be earnest

and sunny day's child.

But everyday I learn a little more

Never knowing what I'm heading for

And so I sail, sail away to another land

Along this wild rolling sea

And though I may, may not know who I really am

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

Who I wanna be...



When things were finally starting to work out, the words coming out of the doctors mouth felt like a slap in the face. But Even had to stay strong this time. He had promised Isak, and himself, that he could do this. He could stand by Isak’s side through this again, as long as Isak was willing to fight. And he was. So Even was going to support him, and stay collected and don’t fall down into the black hole he had fallen into last time.

Even embraced a crying Isak. While the doctor listed their possibilities. The doctor suggested they could go in right now and remove it. Check if it was cancer or not. Isak was sure it was cancer, and the doctor didn't exactly disagree. He just remained silent on that part. It made Even shiver. It was a 90% chance of it being cancer, with Isak’s history.


Watching them prep Isak for surgery, Even had to work really hard not to cry. He had to stay strong, for his husband. He could do this. He could be there for Isak. He could take it. He could cry and scream and talk this out with someone else. And he could be there for Isak.

He couldn't stand the waiting room for more than ten minutes though. He hated the damn room and it was his kryptonite. He couldn't stand being in there, and it made it so hard keeping his calm.

He went outside, called his mother.

“Even, I was about to call-“

“There was a tumour.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t tell Anna yet.”

“I won’t.”

“They’re operating now, taking it out. They say it might be benign, but the odds, with his history, its.. its not good mom.”

“Even. Honey. Is there anything I can do?”

“Make sure Anna doesn't find out yet. Make sure she’s fine. Make up an excuse, any excuse. Just take care of her.”

“I can do that.”

“Thank you.”


He started pacing back and forwards, before he dialled another number.

“Hello Even.” a drowsy voice answered him on the other side.

“Adam.” Even breathed out, feeling the tears press on.

“Oh Even. What happened?” Adam suddenly sounding wide awake.

“They found a tumour.” he hiccupped, tears now falling freely.

“Even, take a breath and tell me everything.”

So Even did. He told Adam about the scan and everything the doctor had just told them. He told Adam about how hard he had fought to stay strong, despite wanting to fall apart. Adam told him he could do this.

“And it might be benign?”

“Might. But the odds are not in our favour Adam. With his history… It’s probably cancer. And while he had agreed to keep fighting it, it will mean us loosing Anna. We won’t get to adopt her. With his cancer and my fucked up head-“

“Even. You're not fucked up. You're great, and you will be a great father.”

“But if the cancer is back they will deny our application.”

“Even if your parents sign on?”

“Probably.”

“Then you just have to keep faith until the results come back.”

“I know, it’s just really hard.”

“Even. You traveled the world with a weirdo musician guy who pushed you to sing in front of strangers and dragged you around on a whim. You made a name for yourself by starting to sell paintings on the street. Now you're a well known artist. You even recorded an album. You can do this. You are one of the strongest persons I know. You can stay strong for Isak. For Anna. For yourself.”

“I-“

“And if it get’s too much, too hard, you can always call me and we’ll talk it out. Or you can call your therapist or talk with your friends. But you can do this. I know you can.”

“Adam, I… Thank you.”

“No problem dude. Anytime.”


———

The surgery went well. They didn't get the biopsy results right away.

They days of waiting, putting up a strong front, lying to Anna about why Isak wasn't home, it nearly broke him. He spent all day at Isak’s hospital bed, while she was at school. He had started staying in Isak’s room back at Eva and Jonas’ house. It felt wrong without Isak there.

One night, after putting Anna to bed, he walked by the living room on his way to the bathroom.

“Even?” sounded Eva’s voice.

He poked his head into the living room, finding Eva and Jonas on the couch, with a bowl of popcorn between them. “Yeah?”

“Come join us for a bit?”

“Okay?” he answered curiously and walked over, sat down on the couch. Jonas handed him the bowl of popcorn and he grabbed some, nodding a thanks.

“How are you Even?” Eva asked.

“Fine.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I mean, my husband may have cancer again, but I’m fine. I feel fine. I’m not happy. I am sad about it. But I’m holding up, you know? I’m staying strong. I don’t feel like my entire world is collapsing this time.”

“You know you can talk to us. If you need to.”

“I appreciate that. And I probably will, if the test comes back positive. Because then I think we will need a lot of help. But I feel like a better person now. Stronger. Like I can handle things. Life moves forwards and you can’t stop it right? You just have to accept whatever life throws at you and figure it out along the way.”

Eva smiled at him, grabbed his hand. “I’m proud of you Even.”

“Why is that?”

“You’ve grown so much. Become so much more sure of yourself. You embrace who you are and your weaknesses instead of running away from difficult situations. You ask for help, instead of letting things bury you. And right now your limping around with a cast on your foot while taking care of a 8 year old all alone.”

He laughed at that. His injuries had almost healed, but he still wore a cast on his foot and his clavicle still hurt a bit. But thank god he drove a car with automatic gearbox and that he had broken his left leg, because things would have been far more difficult otherwise.

“What Eva is trying to say is, we can help you with Anna. We’d actually love to, Even. Maybe we can take her to school tomorrow and pick her up and do the dinner and homework routine? So you can stay longer with Isak.”

“I-“ he considered it. He loved taking care of Anna. But having a whole day with Isak sounded nice. They probably needed it right now. “Okay. Thank you.”

“Anytime.”



Next morning, Jonas and Eva took care of Anna and Even packed a bag with his computer and a few movies and drove by the store to buy snacks.

Isak was so happy that day. They snuggled up on the bed and watched movie after movie until night fell and visiting hours ended.

Even left Isak with the laptop in case he got bored and kissed him deeply. “I love you so much Isak Næsheim.”

“I love you too, Even Næsheim.” Isak grabbed his arm and tugged a little. “I’ve been thinking about what your dad said about the name change.”

“Oh?”

“I think we should add Bech again.”

“What brought this on Isak?”

“I just remembered Anna asking about it last week, why you and I only had Næsheim and your parents had Bech as well. And she asked if she could be a Bech Næsheim if we’re allowed to adopt her.”

“You told her about the Valtersen part?”

“Yeah. She said she understood why I removed it. It’s why she wants so change hers as well.”

“I… It’s fine by me Isak. We can do that.”

Isak smiled at him. “I love you Even Bech Næsheim.”

“I love you too.” Even smiled and kissed his husband again, before he was practically thrown out by one of the nurses.


——-



It took a week until they got the results back.

They were sitting in Isak’s hospital room, holding hands and trying to be calm. They talked about what Isak had said, about wanting a house and a puppy (“we already have a dog” “yeah, but we can have two”) and about them adopting Anna. Which made them think about the biopsy again, so they switched the subject once more.

“We’re having that second wedding.” Isak said.

“What?”

“We talked about it during Eva and Jonas’ wedding. We’ll have a second one. We can do the name change at the same time.”

“Sure. Isak Bech Næsheim. It has a nice ring to it.”

“I know.”

“I used to dream about that, you know. Before we got together, and before we got married.”

“Me too.”

“Really?”

“Really.”


The doctor entered the room and the boys fell quiet. He was smiling at them, and Even felt a small spark of hope.

“Isak. We just got the biopsy back. The tumour in your lung, it was benign. You're still in remission. The cancer isn't back.”

 

And Even felt himself letting out a breath he didn't knew he was holding. He felt relief flow through his body. And he felt happy, so happy he could cry. Instead he pulled Isak into his arms and they shared a long, tight hug.




I wanna see treasure where other's see trash

I wanna find magic in everyday math

I'll never stay bitter, I'll never run poor

I'll only get better the more I get old

Everyday I learn a little more

Never knowing what I'm heading for

And so I sail, sail away to another land

Along this wild rolling sea

And though I may, may not know who I really am

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

I'm gonna be stronger

I'm gonna be brave

I'm gonna make memories

Instead of mistakes

And so I sail, sail away to another land

Along this wild rolling sea

And though I may, may not know who I really am

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

I can tell, I can tell, I can tell now

Who I wanna be

 


—————-

 



ISAK’S POV


The relief of knowing the tumour was benign, was enormous. He was allowed to go home that same night and they explained to Anna what had happened and that he was still in remission. That they were now filing for adoption.

She had hugged them both, Isak more carefully than Even because of his resent surgery, and asked if she could sleep in their bed tonight.

They agreed, and the three of them settled down together in Isak’s bed, Anna in the middle. The small girl fell asleep quickly.

“Even?” Isak whispered softly.

“Yeah?”

“Can we have our second wedding after the adoption thing is out of the way? I can’t… If they rejects us again, right in the middle of wedding-plans, it will ruin this wedding just as much as my cancer did the first.”

“I thought about the same thing. That we should wait. We have time for that now. You're in remission.” he sounded like he was about to cry.

Isak reached a hand over and touched Even’s cheek. “Shh. Don’t cry. We’re fine. It will be fine.”

“What if they don’t let us adopt her?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

-


They filled out a bunch of papers the next day, in Maria’s office.

“You recovering well from the surgery?” she asked him.

Isak nodded. “Yeah. It’s fine. A bit sore. Kind of used to this by now.” he tried to joke but there was no humour in his voice. He was tired of surgeries after surgeries. But throwing a quick side-glance at Even, he added “But it’s worth it, fighting. It keeps me alive. I get to be with my husband. And Anna. I get to be with them. And it makes it all worth it.”

Maria nodded. Made sure she had all the necessary forms signed. She gathered the note from Even’s therapist and the notes from Isak’s doctor. “This looks very promising, but I have to warn you. This is a slow paper mill and there might be weeks before we receive an answer.”

“That’s fine.” Isak said. He had predicted such. “Are there… are there any other candidates you’re considering?”

Maria hesitated. “Well, we have a family looking to adopt who didn't mind adopting an older kid, so if they deny your application she will be placed with them. But since she has settled in with you guys, you are to be considered first. We want her to stay with you two. Let’s just hope that the system agrees.”

Isak’s heart sunk. He looked at Even, who had gone pale. Grabbing his hand, he thanked Maria and dragged Even out of there before his husband could break down. They made it into the car before Even was crying.

“Even, hey.” Isak pulled him into his arms. “It’s okay. It will be fine. It will work out.”

“No. We will be denied because I’m a freak.”

“Even. Don’t you ever dare say that.”

“It’s true! I’m a nutcase!” Even sobbed.

“No. No you are not. So stop saying that!” Isak tried to keep himself from raising his voice. He hated when Even talked like this about himself. “I love you. The good and the bad. Anna does too. Your therapist have declared you well enough to parent a child. They will accept us. We just have to believe it.”

Even didn't protest, he didn't say anything at all.


 

Life returned to normal. The new normal. Even practically stayed with him every night, only going home during the day when Isak worked and Anna was at school, and some times he slept at the apartment if Isak worked night shifts. If Isak was on call during the night, they sometimes slept at Even’s place. Those times were rare. But Isak wasn't ready to be in the apartment full-time yet. Not after all the memories of being there alone and sick.

He needed time.

But he also needed to have Even close, show him that he loved him. So they cuddled and kissed and spent time together both with Anna and some days they got Jonas and Eva to watch her, so they could get some alone time. It was nice. Things were finally moving forwards.

-

 


Eva had become so moody the past few weeks. Pregnancy hormones. She was almost four months along now, and starting to show a little. Jonas and Eva had probably known for a while without telling him. Probably because of everything else happening in his life.

Some days Eva yelled for the simplest of things. One night she even threw Jonas out of their bedroom and he came knocking on Isak’s door.

“Uhm, guys? I know this is really weird but can I sleep with you? Eva threw me out and I can’t sleep on that stupid couch, it’s so itchy…”

He and Even exchanged a look, smiled and Isak moved closer to Even, making room for Jonas. “It’s fine.” he said. Jonas thanked them, closed the door behind him and curled up next to Isak.

“I didn't interrupt anything?” Jonas asked awkwardly.

Isak was so glad it was dark because he could feel his face flush bright red. “Jonas!”

“What?”

“No. You did not.” Isak gasped, so embarrassed he wished for a hole in the ground to swallow him.

“You have been married for over eight years Isak, grow up. Everyone have sex. It’s normal. Don’t be so shy about it.” Jonas huffed.

Even burst out laughing. “This is so funny!” he managed.

“Why?” Jonas asked.

“Because we haven't had sex in ages and because you're making my husband act like a seventeen year old virgin about it.”

“What? No sex? Why?” Jonas demanded.

Isak wished for that black hole now. Now would be a perfect time. “Ugh.” he just said, and pulled his pillow over his head.

“We’re ‘taking it slow’.” Even answered, mockery in his voice. “So slow we might not be able to even have sex by the rate this is moving. Maybe I’m not hot enough for him anymore.”

Isak knew he was only teasing him. But it was also kind of true. He pulled the pillow away again. “You’re plenty hot, and I would do you right now, but this sucky best friend of mine is kind of in our bed because he got his wife pregnant and now she is mad at him, so I guess there will be no sex tonight. Thanks to Jonas.”

Even groaned. “Omg, fuck off Jonas.”

“Nope. Not sleeping on that couch.” Jonas snickered, and snuggled into Isak’s side. “We’ll have to share Isak tonight. With clothes on. You can have him naked tomorrow.”

“How about I just undress him now and have sex with him, will you go sleep on the couch then?”

“I won’t move from this bed until morning. But go ahead.”

“Fine by me.” Even countered, and kissed Isak’s neck.

Isak pushed at him, sternly saying “No.”

“Jonas said it was fine.”

“I say no. I will not have sex with you with my best friend in the bed. There are limits and rules and boundaries and just NO.”

They all ended up laughing so hard their stomaches cramped, and when the laughed died down, they all snuggled together on the a bit to tiny bed.

“You wouldn't have stayed in the room while we where having sex, would you?” Isak asked Jonas.

“I probably would. Always wanted to see what you look like when you have sex.” Jonas said, making Isak groan and pull the duvet over his head.

He could hear Even and Jonas giggling together. He appreciated that they had become friends. So he would take the teasing. For now.


———


“Dr. Næsheim to the emergency room.” the speaker rung out.

Isak was standing at a nurses station, filing out paperworks. He wasn't on emergency room duty today and he had just spoken with Even who was out for a walk with Buddy and Anna so he knew it wasn't any of them.

What was going on?

When he got down to the emergency room, the nurses pointed him into a room. He entered, finding a crying Eva. Her pants were bloody and she was hysterical. He rushed over, wrapped her in his arms, asking the doctor examining her what was going on. She gave him a look.

This much blood, and the amount of pain Eva seemed to be in, it wasn't good. She brought out the ultrasound. Searching for a heartbeat.

There was none. Eva has just had a miscarriage.

“Anyone called her husband?” Isak asked quietly.

“He’s in a meeting. They can’t get hold of him. That’s why we paged you.”

He nodded. They needed to take Eva into surgery, remove the foetus. He signed the papers. Then he called Even, asked him to go get Jonas. Even if he had to break down doors to get to him.

Even and Jonas met him outside the OR 20 minutes later. Jonas was crying so hard he was shaking, barely able to stand. “The baby?” he asked, between sobs. Isak shook his head and wrapped his arms around Jonas. “And Eva?” Jonas gasped.

“They’re doing their best.”


 

 

They were allowed into Eva’s ICU room straight after the surgery because Isak was a doctor. Sitting there, watching her looking so fragile and small, Isak realised how everyone must have felt watching him in the same position. Powerless.

The doctor entered, looking… not very optimistic.

“There were a lot of complications. She… She may never be able to carry another child. I’m so sorry.”

“But she will be fine?” Jonas asked.

“She will. At least physically.” They all understood what she meant. This would be much harder on Eva mentally, than the surgery on her body.

“We’ll get through it.” Even said, putting a hand on Jonas’ shoulder. “We’ll get through it together.”


—-

EVEN’S POV

Eva’s miscarriage turned the dynamics upside down. Isak and Jonas spent all their time at the hospital with her. Even took care of Anna all by himself. He explained the situation to her, and she cried with him. She wanted to come visit Eva, but the situation was a bit to tense right now.

Eva refused to speak, apparently. She had woken up, and she was physically fine, but she hadn't said a word. And Even had a feeling she wouldn’t. Not for a while. If they didn't get her help, she may never do.

It had been nearly two weeks now.

He dropped off Anna for school and called Sana and Linn. He had a plan. He just hoped it would work.



“Out.” He told Jonas and Isak as he, Sana and Linn entered the room.

“What? Why-“ Jonas asked, looking confused.

“Out.” Even repeated and looked him straight in the eye, telling him why. Jonas nodded. Isak just got up and left, dragging Jonas with him.

Eva just looked at them as they sat down around her bed. She didn't say a word, just stared at them blankly.

“Eva. I know this is hard. I know this is beyond hard. But you can get through it. You have to let us help you get through it.” Linn started. “Losing a child is always hard, on everyone. No matter how old the child is. But you can recover from this Eva. It will be hard and painful, and this will always stay with you, but you are strong enough to get through this.”

“Laying here, refusing to speak, won’t help. It might feel impossible to do anything else right now, but you can do it. You are so strong Eva. You can survive this too.” Sana said.

Even sat down on the bed, grabbed Eva’s hand and squeezed it. “Eva. I know how this feels. I know how you feel. I know the heaviness, the emptiness, the pain. I know, because I’ve been there a million times.”

He searched for the right words. Where there any right words in a situation like this?

“And I know there is no easy road back. It’s just this narrow hard path that you have to struggle through. But I know you can do it. I know you are strong enough to do it. But I also know you don’t have to be strong alone. You have Jonas. You have Isak. You have your girls. And you have me. And I will be here every step of the way, if you need me to.”

She looked at him. Then tears started streaming down her face. Then she was pulling at his arms, and he wrapped her into a hug. After sobbing for a long time, she quieted down to crying softly. “Thank you.” she whispered into his ear.


The next day she spoke to both her nurses and a therapist. And a few words to Isak. But she refused to speak to Jonas.

—-

JONAS’ POV

 

Why are you keeping me at a distance?

All that I'm asking for is forgiveness

Are you even listening? Am I talking to myself again?

I keep on staring up at the ceiling

Waiting for you to give me some kind of reason

Are you even listening? Am I talking to myself again?

 

And I know you don't owe me your love

And I know that you don't owe me nothing at all

Ain't no way I'm giving up on you

 

 

 

It was hard. Seeing Eva pushing him away like that. Seeing her speak to everyone but him. She looked a little better, but was still pale and emotionless and like a drugged zombie. But she was speaking now. And that was at least something.


She was allowed to come home a week later. He didn't even need to ask her to know; she would not let him stay in the same bed as her.

So he bunked with Isak and Even for a few nights. It worked out okay, but he could tell the two others were concerned. They swore they didn't mind him being in there. But he could sense there was something they weren't telling him.

“What is it?” he asked one night.

“What is what?” Even replied.

“The looks you two are giving me. What is it.”

“I-“ Even started, before shaking his head.

“Even. Just. Just say it.” Isak said, tiredly. He had been working for twenty hours and was almost sleeping already.

“Jonas. Eva needs time. Just like Isak needed time with me. Just like I need time after I have an episode.”

“And?”

“And, I’m not going to tell you what to do. But I’m gonna give you my keys to the apartment and you can make the choice yourself.”

“You think I should move out?”

“Temporarily. Wait for her to recover. To come back to you. Your presence here, her seeing you every day… I can see it makes it harder on her. She feels like she’s responsible for killing your baby. And all she can think about when she sees you right now is this. How she killed your baby. I think she feels responsible for losing your baby. But I’m not telling you what to do. I’m not telling you that you should move out. I’m telling you that you have to make the choice and I will lend you my apartment if you chose to move out.”

He thought about it for a minute. Even made a great point. Whenever he saw Eva now, he also thought about their lost child. But mostly he thought about her, about wanting to comfort her. But he couldn’t, and he realised why. He was reminding her of what she had lost and him being here every day didn't help. “I actually think it’s a good idea.” Jonas said.

It sounded logical. She had just lost her baby. Their baby. And seeing Jonas everyday brought her a lot of pain.

It pained Jonas as well, losing their baby. But he was more concerned about Eva. He cared more about her, how she felt. He cared about her living, being fine. He wanted her to get through this. And he desperately wanted to help her. But if Even, who had more experience with these kind of things, meant that it would be better for her to have some distance while processing through what had happened, he would leave.




The next morning, he packed a bag with some of his clothes, and before leaving, approached Eva in the kitchen. “I’m moving out.” he said.

For the first time since the miscarriage, she answered him. “Why?”

“So you can get some space. Recover. I remind you of… of what we lost. And I can see how much it pains you. So I will leave. I will give you time to heal. Just… Just please don’t shut me out forever. Please come back to me.”

“Jonas. I love you.” she whispered, a tear falling down her cheek. But she didn't protest. She didn't argue and told him to stay. She just looked so apologetic.

He stepped over to her, kissed her briefly at the forehead and whispered “I love you Eva. Please don’t think this was your fault. Please don’t think that I blame you in any way. You are so strong and beautiful and perfect. Please believe me when I say this.”

Then he turned around and left.

He could do this. He could give her time.


——

 



FROM JONAS TO EVEN

How is she?


FROM EVEN TO JONAS

Slightly better. Watched TV with Anna today and let me drive her to her therapy session.


FROM JONAS TO EVEN

Good.


—-




FROM ISAK TO JONAS

Anna misses you. Can we come over?


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

Sure. I’ll be home in an hour. I can make dinner?


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

How about we order something? And Even isn't coming, he’s staying with Eva.


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

How is she?


FROM ISAK TO JONAS

She doesn't speak to me about it. She spends some time with Anna again, looking happier. I know Even is talking to her a lot, but he’s not telling me what about. But it seems to be helping her, so I’m staying out of it.


FROM JONAS TO ISAK

As long as she’s getting better.




“Uncle Jonas!” Anna squealed as she ran through the door and jumped into his arms. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too Anna.” he laughed.

He looked at Isak who came in after her, a pizza box in his arms. He looked a little uncomfortable.

“You okay?” Jonas asked him as soon as Anna went into the living room.

“Yeah, this apartment just… Makes me feel weird sometimes.”

“I know.” And he did. He had stayed here with Isak for a year, while Even was away and Isak was fighting cancer. There was a lot of bad memories lingering here, mostly for Isak.

“Let’s just eat.” Isak said, forcing a smile and walking into the living room.


A whole pizza and two movies later Anna fell asleep.

“Tell me what to do Isak. I’m going crazy here. I can’t concentrate at work, I mess up stuff. I go for runs every day just to have something to do, something to keep my mind of the situation. But shouldn't I be doing something? Anything?”

“You’re doing it right now. You're giving her time. And that’s what she needs right now.”

“But how much time?”

Isak shrugged. “I needed a lot of time with Even. But it’s individual with everyone. She might reach out for you tomorrow. She might need another six months. I don’t know.”

“Yeah. I just miss her, you know?”

“I know.”

“And I have a feeling this will make her push me away forever.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I was never good enough for her to begin with. And now, all she sees when she see me is misery and pain.”

“Jonas. You are good enough for her. You are good enough for everyone.”

“I’m not.”

“You are. You sacrificed a year of your life to take care of me! You help out with Anna. You helped me with Even last time he was sick. You are so generous and kind and wonderful and it’s such a shame you are a straight married man because otherwise I would probably have proposed to you or something.” Isak laughed a little.

Jonas joined him. “You are also a married man.”

“Yes. Happily so. But had I never met Even, you would have been my first choice.”

“Had I never met Eva, and been gay, you would have been mine too.”

 

They shared a laugh at that.

“I love you Jonas. And Eva does too. Just give her time. She will come around.”

“Love you too bro. And I will. It’s just so hard, being alone every day, waiting, not knowing.”

“I know. I’ll come over more often.”

Isak and Anna ended up just staying the night, and Jonas welcomed the company.

 

 

————

 

 

 

 

Don't leave me here in the dark when it's hard to see

Show me your heart, shed a light on me

If you love me, say so, if you love me, say so

You know I can't live without you, I'm on my knees

 

 

———-

 


During lunch thirteen days later, his phone pinged.

 



FROM EVA TO JONAS

I have a check up at the hospital tomorrow, can you come with me?

 


He stared at his phone in wonder. She had made no contact since he moved out. Since she miscarried. And now she wanted him to come with her to an appointment?

But maybe this was her way of letting him back in, slowly.

He would take it.



FROM JONAS TO EVA

Of course. When is your appointment? Need me to pick you up?



FROM EVA TO JONAS

I started working again last week so I will already be at the hospital, just please meet me there? It’s at two pm.



FROM JONAS TO EVA

I’ll be there.


FROM EVA TO JONAS

Thank you



—-


When he met her in the hospital, before entering the examining room, she didn't say anything. She just grabbed his hand and squeezed it. He squeezed back.

They entered the room together, Jonas never once during the examination letting her hand go. He wiped away her tears carefully when the doctor examined her, wanting to kiss her forehead but deciding against.

When she had gotten dressed again and they were sitting in front of the doctor’s desk, she grabbed for his hand again. He let her.

“Eva. I won’t lie. The damage from your miscarriage is lowering your chances at carrying another child. I know it’s a bit to soon for you to even think about, but I just wanted to tell you this. You might still be able to have a child. But if you ever do get pregnant again, we have to be very careful and monitor you very closely. But it’s possible. You can, with a little luck, have another baby.”

Eva just broke down crying and Jonas pulled her into his arms, mouthing a thank you to the doctor. Then he took her home, texting Isak and asking him to let Eva’s boss know.



He followed her to the door and when she unlocked it and walked in, he didn't follow her.

“Jonas?” she asked weakly.

“Yeah?”

“Are you gonna just stand there?”

“I… I don’t know. Am I?”

She bit her lip. “Can you… Can you maybe come inside and hold me?”

“I can do that.”

And so he did.


They cuddled up on the couch under a blanket, and Eva cried for a long while. He held her tight, stroked her hair and stayed quiet.


Isak had texted him that he and Even would stay at Even’s apartment together with Anna tonight. And to call or text if he or Eva needed anything.

Jonas texted him back with a thank you.

When Eva fell asleep, he gently placed her down on the couch and went into the kitchen, making her something to eat. When he was nearly finished, she came walking into the kitchen, giving him a small smile. “Making me food?”

“Yeah, I figured you needed to eat so…”

“Thank you, Jonas.”

“Always.”

They sat down together, eating in silence. She tried to help him clean up afterwards, but he refused, told her to go back to the couch and find a movie on netflix or something. She complied.

When he entered the living room, she was curled up on the couch and had found a chick-flick. He didn't protest. He just sat down next to her.

“You want me to leave?” he asked. “I can call Isak and Even and tell them to come home, keep you company-“

“Can you stay?”

“Sure.”

“I mean… Can you come home Jonas? Please?”

He looked at her. She looked so fragile, so small. So vulnerable.

And she was begging him to come back home. Which was kind of ironical, since he had been so sure she didn't even want him there when he woke up this morning. After the appointment and dinner he had been feeling a small hope, that they could maybe find their way back together. And now she was begging him to move back home.

“Of course.” he breathed out, pulling her into his arms once more. She melted into his embrace, and Jonas felt his heart swell. She still loved him. He loved her. And that was all that mattered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't leave me here in the dark when it's hard to see

Show me your heart, shed a light on me

If you love me, say so, if you love me, say so

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

———


EVEN’S POV

When Jonas moved back in, Even moved out. Eva still needed some space, so Jonas was sleeping in Isak’s room for the time being. And while they could fit three people in the bed, it was a bit crowded.

And he and Isak was fine now. So they could spend some nights apart. It would be fine.


He had just gotten home after dinner. He still ate dinner with Eva, Jonas, Isak and Anna. It had been nice tonight, they had desert and watched a movie Anna had picked.

He greeted Buddy, grabbed the dog-leash and took him for a long walk.


They walked around for an hour or two, enjoying the nice evening. Just as he entered the apartment, his phone pinged.


FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 21.08

Miss you already



FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 21.10

Miss you too.



FROM ISAK TO EVEN - 21.13

Lunch tomorrow?


FROM EVEN TO ISAK - 21.15

Sure.

 


He put down his phone and started undressing, getting ready for a shower. He had stripped down to only his boxers when there was a knock on the door. He checked his watch. It was 21.21.

He couldn't figure out who it could be, but curiosity won and he just went to the door and opened it.


And found Isak on the other side, with a bag in his hand and an amused look on his face, eyes wandering up and down Even’s body. Even found himself enjoying it. Despite them being in their late twenties, they still looked at each other like they used to do at 17 and 19 year old. Maybe he could talk Isak into joining him in the shower…


“You decided to come and stay the night?” Even teased.

 


“I decided to move back in.”


Even just smiled widely at him and opened the door, letting him in to his apartment. Their apartment.

 


 

 



 

I don't wanna live forever, 'cause I know I'll be living in vain

And I don't wanna fit wherever

I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home

 

 

Chapter Text

THREE YEARS LATER

 

 

 

 

EVEN’S POV


He was sitting in the sand, enjoying the sun and the sound of the sea. His eyes were closed. He could smell saltwater and sun-lotion. He could also smell Isak’s cologne. It was nice. Soothing. He felt calmer than he had in a long while. He decided to lay back in the sand, without opening his eyes.

“Anna, please make sure they don’t go any further out!” He could hear Jonas call. He slowly opened his eyes, wished for sunglasses, and looked down at the water, where Anna was playing with two twin boys, two years old.



The air was filled with sounds of the sea hitting land, children laughing, people chatting and soft music. Even reached out and grabbed Isak’s hand, feeling Isak squeeze his hand back. He felt his heart swell. They had been married for over ten years and he still got butterflies whenever he and Isak touched, kissed, hugged. He doubted the feeling would ever go away, and he loved it. He loved the feeling Isak gave him.

 

 

————————————————
(2016)

“I think life is just like a movie and that you can be the director of your own life. Do you get what I mean?”

 

“I do. But I’m not sure I completely agree.”

 

“You don’t agree?”

 

“No..”

 

“What makes it all so interesting is the infinity.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“All those parallel universes. Everything-, like, just how big everything is. How insignificant we are, compared to all of the infinite parallel universes that exist. And everything that can happen will happen… Not only will happen, it is happening. “

 

“There is probably, in a parallel universe, an Isak and an Even that is lying in the exact same way, in the exact same place. Only that, you know…  There’s like, a different colour on the curtains, or whatever.”

 

“So, yellow curtains then?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Nah. I think that’s enough jay for you.”

 

“Have you never thought about it?”

 

“Well, yeah. But it’s just making me feel so… I don’t know, lonely.”

 

“It’s so interesting!”

 

“Nah, I don’t like it…”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I don’t know… It freaks me out.”

 

“Jesus Christ… In what way?” “If freaks you out…”

 

“Not freaked out the way you get by a scary movie, but like… More of a ‘feeling alone’, sort of freaked out. That like… It’s your head… It’s you and your head, and all your thoughts.”

 

“Alone in your head..? What do you mean?”

 

“‘The brain is alone’-feeling.”

 

“What kind of feeling, ‘the brain is alone’?”

 

“Because there’s only you and your thoughts, you know. You can’t escape your thoughts. The only way is to die.”

 

“That’s real dark.”

 

“Yeah, but have you never thought about it before?”

 

“No.”

 

“Jeez, I’d forgotten how young you are.”

 

————————————————————

 



Eva had gotten pregnant again soon after Isak moved back in with him. Jonas and Eva said it wasn't planned, it just happened. Eva had been taking the pill, but she had probably forgot one or two.

She didn't even know she was pregnant, didn't even consider that she might be, until Isak had cornered her one day after she threw up in the bathroom at work and asked her to do a test. It was positive. The doctors monitored her more closely this time, with checkups every week.

When they realised she were carrying twins, they wanted to remove one. “To reduce the risk.” they said. Even and Isak had been there with Eva and Jonas, for moral support.

“What risk?” Jonas had asked, alarmed.

“Another miscarriage, or…” the doctor trailed off. Even could see on both Isak’s and Eva’s faces that they knew what he was saying. He had a feeling he knew himself.

“Or me dying during childbirth.” Eva finished.

The silence in the room was so heavy, it felt hard to breathe. At the same time Even could see Jonas getting ready to protest, Eva opened her mouth.

“I won’t do it. I won’t remove one. I’m willing to take the risk.”

“I’m not!” Jonas argued, almost yelled.

“Jonas. It’s my body. My decision.” Eva countered calmly.

“You’re my wife! Don’t I get a say in whether you live or die?”

“Jonas. The doctors here are excellent at their jobs. It will be fine. I will be fine.” she reassured him. “I want these babies Jonas. I will fight. I can do this.”



They argued a lot during her pregnancy. Every time she felt any pain or they went in for a checkup, Jonas went hysterical. Even couldn't really blame him. He knew exactly how Jonas felt.

One day, Jonas came over, despite knowing Isak was working the nightshift.

“How do you do it, Even?”

“Do what?”

“Live with not knowing whether your significant other will live a month from now. A year from now. Live with the uncertainty?”

Even took some time to think. How did he do it?

“Well. I don’t really know what to tell you Jonas. I just keep hoping the cancer stays away. I enjoy the moments we have together. I accept the fact that somethings in life can’t be controlled. A skill I learnt after dealing with being bipolar for so long I guess.” he laughed humourlessly.  “But you just take one day at a time. You take it day by day and you’re grateful for the days you get. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. As Isak use to tell me when things get hard,”

“Day by day.”

“And just… I know this is hard Jonas. The not knowing. But she needs you to love her, and support her. And just, be there for her. She made this choice, yes. But she wants to do this with you. Partly I have a feeling she wants to do it for you.”

“For me?”

“She lost your other baby.”

“And I have told her again and again that she’s more important to me than any babies. If she wants a bunch of children, we can adopt!”

“She obviously doesn't see it that way.”

“I know. I’m going to lose her Even.”

“I… I can’t argue that Jonas. There’s a possibility you will. There’s a possibility I’ll lose Isak. Life just happens, you never know what’s around the corner.”

“I know. I just… If worst comes to worst, please tell me you’ll be there. Help me.”

“As long as you’ll do the same for me.” Even replied.



Things got a little better after that. They visited Eva and Jonas a lot. When she was seven months along, she got admitted to the hospital. Just a safety precaution they said. Even asked Isak about it, knowing his husband wouldn't lie to him.

“It’s because everyday she stays pregnant, the risk of her dying is growing larger. They are going to monitor the babies, and the second the doctor is sure they will survive outside the womb, they will do a c-section.”

“So, Eva’s dying?”

“Yes. Her body is weakened for the first miscarriage. It never healed properly. If they don’t get those babies out, she will die.”

Even watched Jonas stay by Eva’s bed side every day. Isak pulled some favours that let Jonas stay 24/7. Even joined Jonas and Eva for a few hours every day, bringing them lunch and doing his best to lighten the mood. Some days he brought a guitar and played something. Some days he brought his painting stuff and painted them. Jonas and Eva, curled up on the bed, sleeping peacefully. Jonas and Eva, laughing and playing cards. Jonas playing guitar and singing to Eva.


Even could sense Isak getting more and more nervous. He could see Eva getting sicker and sicker.  One day, she started screaming in pain, and the doctors decided to take the babies out.

“No, They're not ready!” she protested.

“You’re dying Eva.” Isak told her.

“Jonas. Jonas, I love you. Remember that. Always remember that.” she cried.

“I love you too. Please fight Eva. Please stay alive.”

 

——————————


(2018)

“Where do you think we go when our bodies die?”

 

“I’ve never thought about that.”

 

“You have accepted dying, but never thought about what happens when you do?”

 

“We’ll, I mean, I’ve never believed in a life after death you know? I’ve never believed in God.”

 

“I mean, these last few weeks I wished I believed. I wished I had something to believe in. Like if I had, it would make things easier. It would make this easier.”

 


——————————————-

 

EVA

 

It was a close call, but Eva made it. She almost bleed out on the table and they were forced to do a full hysterectomy, they told her when she woke up. She would never be able to have another child. And her body would probably never heal entirely. There was a big probability that she would end up in a wheelchair. But she didn’t mind, and why would she? She had two beautiful boys and a husband who cried with relief for weeks after the birth. Only she realised after a while that it wasn't just relief and that Jonas now was as broken as Even had been after Isak’s first near-death experience.

One night Isak snuck in to check on her while Jonas slept in a chair next to her bed.

“You know you should have died right?” Isak whispered, sitting down on her bedside after checking her vitals.

“Yes. I saw all the tests and workups. I know there was no chance in hell I would make it.”

“And you still decided to go through with it. Even after seeing how nearly losing me affected Jonas. Knowing it would have been ten times as bad if you actually died?”

Eva looked thoughtful for a while. It was a conversation they all had with her over and over the past eight months. She had said over and over that it was her choice, her body, her babies. And dismissed the whole thing. Now she looked right at Isak. “I can’t really give you a logical reason Isak. Because there isn't one. I just had this feeling, I knew I needed to to this. I wanted this. To become a mother. To have Jonas’ children. And this feeling, deep inside, told me it would be fine. That I needed to have faith. That after everything life had thrown our way, we would finally catch a break and things would go our way. And they did.”

“It’s still a goddamn miracle you know. No-one survives that kind of bloodloss, that kind of damage to their body.”

“I did.”


“You did.” Isak smiled fondly and grabbed her hand.

They sat in silence for a while, just enjoying each others company. Listening to Jonas snoring quietly in the chair next to them. The beeping of the heart-monitor. It brought back so many memories for them both.

“You know…” Eva started, catching Isak’s eye with a smirk. “Everything we have done these past years, all the battles with death… I read a quote once, before you got cancer the second time. And it have helped me get through the tough days ever since. Wanna hear it?”

“Of course I do.”

‘Whatever you do in live will be insignificant. But it’s very important you do it anyway. Because nobody else will’.” She smiled at him.

Isak nodded slowly. “I like that. Because my fight with cancer didn't exactly have an impact on the world. So it really was insignificant in that perspective. But everything we have done, experienced, lived through? It was ours to live and do, and no-one else would have done it the exact same way.”

“Precisely.” Eva smiled. “And I feel like that about this pregnancy. Yes, it’s insignificant for the rest of the world. But for me? It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Jonas, these babies? Their my dream.”

Isak smiled at her. “I know. And I’m glad it turned out well. I don’t know what would have happened to Jonas if you died.”

“Fortunately, we don’t have to ever find out.” Eva smiled, shuddering a little at the thought of how badly it would have broken Jonas to loose her. Pushing those thoughts away, she squeezed Isak’s hand. “And what about you Isak? What was your dream?”

Isak squeezed back and smiled. “I didn't have one before. But I’m pretty sure I’m living it now anyway.”



 

 

NOW

EVEN



He turned his head to Isak, smiled at his husband, who were wearing a long-sleeved shirt and sweatpants, despite there being 36 degrees Celsius. He was really careful about being exposed to the sun. And Even didn't blame him; he actually felt calmer knowing Isak was so careful.

“Hey.” he said.

“Hey back.” Isak smiled.

“What happens after I’ve saved you?” he teased, to see if Isak remembered the quote.

“I’ll save you right back.” Isak answered without blinking.

Even smiled brightly at him, then kissed him briefly.

“I love you, you know that?”

“I love you too, Even Bech Næsheim.”

 

 

—————————————-

(2016)

“How many Isaks and Evens do you think are laying like this, right now?”

 

“Infinite.”

 

“In infinite time.”

 

“Yes.”

 

———————————

Isak had been cancer free for four years now. Even prayed every day that it would stay that way.

He had his husband back, they had a beautiful daughter, and no, they didn't adopt another puppy. They adopted Jonas and Eva and their children as a part of their family instead. Eva still hadn't recovered completely and two toddlers were a lot of work. Their family were far from perfect, but at the same time perfectly fine. It worked. They worked.


The first two months after Eva’s near death experience, Jonas had been in a form of denial. He had just focused on the children, distracted himself from reality and refused to talk to Eva, Even and Isak about it. He even slept on the couch, away from his wife.

But one night, two months after the children were born, he came knocking on their bedroom door. Even got up to leave, but Jonas shook his head and said “Stay, please.” And then he curled up between Even and Isak and cried. He cried and sobbed and yelled into the pillows and Even and Isak quietly held him.

The next morning, Isak got up and took care of all the kids. Even stayed with Jonas, and Jonas wrapped himself around Even. “Am I going to feel like this forever? Will the feeling of panic for losing her ever lessen? Will I ever feel okay again?” Jonas whispered.

“I don’t know.” Even answered sincerely. “But remember what you said to see all those years ago?”

“Just keep moving forwards?”

“Just keep moving forwards.”


Jonas ended up going to the same therapist as Even. It looked like it helped him. Slowly, but steadily, he found his way back into life. He smiled every now and again. He laughed every once in a while. He begun talking to Eva again, kissing her every time he walked past her, taking care of her and treating her like a princess. He still crawled into Even and Isak’s bed in the middle of the night and cried every now and again, but the days between it happening grew further and further apart.

One day he stopped coming - he had moved back into Eva’s room. It was a sunny morning the next day. And they took the kids and Buddy for a walk. And Even could see Jonas smiling as he pushed the stroller.


They sat down at a bench in a park, and Even had brought a guitar. He handed it to Jonas, who smirked and started playing a song familiar to all the boys.

 


“Well, open up your mind and see like me,

Open up your plans and damn you're free.

Look into your heart and you'll find love, love, love, love.

Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing, we're just one big family

And it's our God-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved

 

So I won't hesitate

No more, no more.

It cannot wait,

I'm sure.

There's no need to complicate.

Our time is short.

This is our fate,

I'm yours.”

It was a nice day.

—-

 

“Anna, Steve, Adam! Lets go back to the hotel to shower and change, time for dinner.” Isak called the children.

They packed up their stuff and went back to the hotel. Isak grabbed Even’s hand, Anna grabbed Steve’s hand and Eva grabbed Adam’s and Jonas’. And then they walked back.

After dinner, they walked by a tattoo shop. Even got an idea. “So, I know how you hate tattoos, but would you mind terribly if I got something to cover up my scar?”

“Not one bit.” Isak had answered, with a smile on his lips. Maybe he was tipsy from the wine. Maybe he had changed his mind about tattoos. Maybe he was just happy Even wanted to remove that part from his life.

He didn't even have to think about what he wanted. He drew it himself. When he showed it to Isak later, Isak just kissed him.

The tattoo read:

TIL KINGDOM COME

And he had made the tattoo artist do it in big letters, with flowers and hearts and shadows and stuff, so the scars got completely covered.


——————

(2016)

“You know, the only way to have something for infinite time, is by losing it.”

 

“Don’t say stuff like that.”

———————-

 


TWO YEARS EARLIER

 


ISAK’S POV


Having to bury both his parents were hard. But watching all the parents who lost their children to cancer? He couldn't imagine the pain they were feeling. And one particular encounter stuck with him, probably forever.

 

One of his patients were a young boy, only 17. Just like he had been the first time he got cancer. But this boy hadn't been so lucky. His body couldn't handle the chemo and he just kept getting worse. Then one day his heart stopped and they just couldn't get him back. He left behind a single mother, the father had never been in the picture. The woman’s name was Hanna and Isak would never forget the way she screamed, wailed, as the nurses told her about her son’s passing.

They had to sedate her, as they did with most of the people getting those news. But knowing she was alone, Isak just felt the need to sit with her, at least until she woke up again. So he had brought with him the charts from the case and sat in a chair next to her. Reading over tests and labs and scans over and over.

When she woke up, confused by why she was in a bed, he calmly told her why and they sat in a comfortable silence for a while, tears running silently down her cheeks. Isak reached out and grabbed her hand. She let him.

She stayed for a few days and Isak visited every chance he got.

A few weeks passed and he got the answers back from the tests he had run and called her in to meet him. She showed up, looking a bit better. As good as a person can look after losing a child.

When she sat down, Isak didn't get the chance to speak before she started talking.

“I always thought that when I…” she sniffled, took a deep breath. “How do parents go on when they lose a child? You know, when I would see that stuff on the news, I’d shut it off, ‘cause it was just too horrible to think, but I would always think: How do they wake up every day? I mean h-h..” she gasped a little, shock her head. “how do they breathe?” she gasped the last word and cried softly for a moment. He pushed the box of tissues on his desk towards her.

“But you do wake up. and for just a second, you forget. And then… oh, you remember. And it’s like hearing the doctors say those words again, and again, every time. You don’t get to stop waking up. You have to keep on being a parent, even though you don’t get to have a child anymore…” she was sobbing now.

Isak gave her a moment before he flipped open his papers. “Mrs. Jensen. I called you in here today because I discovered something I thought you would have liked to know. When you were in the hospital I took some tests on you, and compared then to your son’s. It turns out he was genetically disposed to get cancer, with a 89% chance. And I needed to check if you had the same gene, so we could take precautions. But you don’t. Which means his father is probably the carrier, and will need to be tested. Can you get a hold of him or give me his number?”

Mrs. Jensen looked at him. Dried her tears. Took a deep breath and said. “Fuck him.”

Isak was a little shocked at her outburst, but answered only by raising his eyebrows.

“He left us when Jacob was only 3 years old. Said he didn’t want this boring life. Told me I had turned into a boring, fat lady with no ambitions. Because I wanted to provide a stable home environment for my son instead of traveling around the world with no money and no security. So he left and I haven’t once heard a single word from him since then.” she huffed. “If he get’s cancer and dies, that’s fine by me. He’s a bastard and I don’t care.”

Isak couldn't say anything, being a professional and everything, but he agreed. Screw the guy. Not every couple had a perfect love story he had to remind himself.

She cried some more, he comforted her some more.Told her she couldn't have done anything else than she already had done. That she had done the very best she could and that he was proud of her. He told her all the words a grieving parent needed to hear, and couldn't help but wonder if he had done a better job with his own parents, would they still have been there?

Mrs. Jensen picked up on his mood and asked him what he was thinking about. And Isak wasn't sure what it was with her that made him spill. But he did. He told her about his own loss. He left out most details of course, but he told her about losing both his parents. About feeling like he had done too little.

She just let him talk. Studied him. When he finished she reached over the desk, grabbed his hand and looked him in the eye. “Dr. Næsheim. You did your very best. It’s not your fault. You did your best. No-one could expect anything more.”

 

 

—————


PRESENT DAY


EVEN’S POV


Adam had called him as soon as he found out Even was in Key West.

“Dude! I’m playing a concert in Miami, you HAVE to come join me!”

That’s why Even and Isak were now driving to Miami. With Eva, Jonas and the kids, of course. Jonas wanted to come to the concert. Eva wasn’t sure she wanted to go to the concert, not feeling she had the energy, but she volunteered to watch Anna for Isak and Even.

So they were now driving to Miami. They had ordered a hotel room there, so they didn't have to drive back in the middle of the night.

Adam had fixed VIP places for Isak and Jonas, so they wouldn’t have to be in the middle of the crowd. Right now they were sitting backstage and Even and Adam were discussing the setlist.

“No. Not that one.” Even said, and pointed to one of the songs.

“Why not?” Adam asked.

Even just threw a quick glance at Jonas, before shaking his head quietly.

“Is it chasing cars?” Jonas asked. “Because you can play it. I will be fine.”

“Jonas-“

“No. Please. Play it. Please.”

Jonas hadn't been able to hear the song ever since the day he almost lost Eva. He said it made his heart tear into tiny pieces. It made him feel as if he had lost her. It made him feel like he was dying.

“Okay.” Even said, giving the other man a smile. Then his eyes scanned the setlist further. “Okay, there is no way in hell I’m singing that one, so you're on your own there.” he laughed, pointing at another title.

“FINE.” Adam laughed, and removed the title from the list.

When the concert were about to start, members of the crew escorted Isak and Jonas to their place.


Even entered the stage with mixed feelings. The past two years he had stuck to painting. He hadn't sung anything after getting back with Isak, aside from when he helped putting Jonas’ children to bed. He took the earpiece the crew handed him, grabbed the mic, and followed Adam on stage.

The other man had been doing this for years now. He was so much more confident than Even. But Even knew he could do this. He knew he also was good at this. He knew that with Adam, he could probably put on a hell of a show.

His eyes scanned the crowd for his husband as he entered the crowd. He found Isak’s smiling face immediately. He could see the love and support. And he knew, he knew he had finally figured it out. He had figured out who he was. He had become the person he wanted to be. And he had Isak, and Anna. And nothing else mattered.

-


“Just like fire, burning out the way

If I can light the world up for just one day

Watch this madness, colorful charade

No one can be just like me any way

Just like magic, I'll be flying free

I'mma disappear when they come for me

I kick that ceiling, what you gonna say?

No one can be just like me any way

Just like fire, uh”



Even felt electric. Running around the stage, singing with Adam, a crowd so large he couldn't count them cheering and singing along. This was it. This was his true place in the world. Apart from next to Isak. Being with Isak was the most important thing in Even’s life.

 

-

 

“I don't know where

Confused about how as well

Just know that these things

Will never change for us at all

 

And if I lay here

If I just lay here

Would you lie with me

And just forget the world?”



He could see Jonas crying. Isak holding Jonas. There was so much sorrow in Jonas’ face. But also some relief. The song remembered them all of Eva, how beautiful she had looked on their wedding day. How healthy and happy she had been before. She was still beautiful, but she wasn't the same person anymore. She would probably never be again. But this song, the song who used to make them cry… It made them remember the good parts now, instead of the bad.


-

 

 

 

“I'm not me, I'm not me, no

Nothing ever feels good

When I'm not with you

I'm not in control of what I do, it's not me

When I'm not with you, I'm not me

Nothing ever feels good

When I'm not with you

I'm not in control of what I do, it's not me, no no no

When I'm not with you”


He held Isak’s gaze while singing. The words were so true. When Even wasn't with Isak, he wasn't himself. He only felt right with him. Without Isak, he was still Even. But his life lost colour and meaning, without Isak. He could survive without him. He had learnt that these past years.. He just knew he wanted to survive with him instead.

-

 

 

“For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come,

Until my days, my days are done.

Say you'll come and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.”

 

 

————————-

(2016)

“You are not alone.”

 

—————————-


Jonas went back to the hotel after the concert, telling Even and Isak to go out and enjoy the night with Adam, he would watch the kids and stay with Eva. Adam dragged the boys into a club. They skipped right past the waiting line, the bouncer knowing both Adam and Even and let them straight in.


A song started playing. A song Even hadn't heard in a long while. He looked at Isak.

“Even, no. I’m not dancing with you.”

“You so are!”

 

I look into the window of my mind

Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind



Even pulled Isak out on the dance floor, and it didn't take long for the younger boy to just give in and dance with him.

I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I'm on my way, can't stop me now

And you can do the same, yeah

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

It's never too late to try

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

 

 

 

They had danced to this song three times now. Soon after they got married was the first time. When they were separated was the second time. This was the third.

This was also the first time since Eva’s near death Even had felt like things would work out. Isak was smiling. Dancing. Grinding against him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still so many answers I don't know

Realise that to question is how we grow

 

So I step out of the ordinary

I can feel my soul ascending

I'm on my way, can't stop me now

You can do the same, yeah

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

It's never too late to try

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

We need a change

Do it today

I can feel my spirit rising

We need a change

So do it today

'Cause I can see a clear horizon

 

 

 

Things weren't perfect yet. Maybe they never would be. There was still a chance of Isak getting sick again. But everything could happen. You never know what life has in store for you. So he was holding onto these moments, these moments of happiness and joy.

 

 

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

'Cause you could be so many people

If you make that break for freedom

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

 

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Yeah, let me hear ya, What have you done today, What have you done today

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people

Just make that break for freedom

 

 

 

Even locked eyes with his husband, grabbed his shoulders, and pulled him into a kiss.

 

 

 

So what have you done today to make you feel proud?




————


SEVEN YEARS LATER



ISAK’S POV


Watching Anna graduate was something Isak hadn't believed he would have been able to do. At least not three years ago, when the cancer returned. But he beat it. Again. And here he was. Sitting next to his beautiful husband, watching their daughter graduate.

 

 

———————

(2017)

“I picture my dream wedding small. I want all my friends and family to be there. And I want to get married in a church.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. What is your dream wedding?”

 

“Marrying you.”


———————-

 

 

When the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can't replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

 



Their family had never ended up like his own. Neither he or Even had given up on each other, no matter how hard it got. They had made sure Anna never suffered because of their illness.




———————-

(2018)

“Even. I have leukaemia. I have cancer.”

 

“We’ll get through this together.”

————————

 

 

 

“Hey.” Even whispered in his ear.

“Hey back.” Isak turned his head.

“Never thought we would get this far, huh?”

“Nope. But we did it anyway. We got through everything. Together.”

“Still think about all those parallel universes?”

“Sometimes. But despite everything bad that has happened in our lives, in this universe, we also have everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”

“And what is that?”

“Each other.”

“Minute by minute.”

“Minute by minute. Til Kingdom Come.”

“Til Kingdom Come.”

 

Isak could feel a small tear fall down his cheek, tears of pride, as he watched his daughter get her diploma. Their daughter. He held his arms around the child on his lap. Adam. Steve was on Even’s lap. Jonas and Eva were sitting in the back. Eva’s body had given up on her, and she had ended up in a wheelchair. But somehow, she seemed almost happier than she had seven years earlier. Probably because her husband was himself again. Their family worked out better than they ever had imagined, the seven of them living in one house. Anna looked at them all, waved and smiled. Isak smiled brightly back.

If someone had asked him the first time he fought cancer, or the second time, or the third time, if he thought he would ever live to see this, the answer would have been no.

But here he was. Alive. Growing older, with a gorgeous husband and a wonderful child. And two bonus children. The road had been long and hard. And the cancer might come back at any time. He would fight it every time. For Even. For Anna. For Steve and Adam. For Eva. For Jonas. For his parents. For everyone of his friends. And for himself.

 



There were things he wished he could have done differently. Things he wished he could have changed. Stopped. But you can’t change the past. You can only move forwards. Life throws you in different directions. All you can to is follow the current and let it guide you. Follow your heart. And never give up on your dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



“How many Isaks and Evens do you think are laying like this, right now?”

 

“Infinite.”

 

“In infinite time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come.

Until my day, my day is done.

And say you'll come, and set me free,

Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.