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Nothing Softer Or More Flexible

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FALL 2024

 

***

 

“Will you just hold still? You're worse than a child,” Isak says, buttoning Even's shirt. Even had fiddled with the small white buttons for three minutes before making a distressed noise and holding up his shaking hands to Isak with wide eyes.

“You've screened films before,” Isak says quietly, deftly doing up the last button and smoothing his hands down Even's chest in the hopes it'll calm him down. “Why is this one so different?”

“It's a feature film,” Even says, swallowing heavily and then flicking his eyes down to catch Isak's gaze. “This could be… it. You know?”

Isak hums and runs his hands up and down Even's chest a few more times.

“It could,” he says. “It's a very good film. It'd deserve a wide release.”

Even makes another distressed little noise.

“But if it's not it,” Isak goes on, as though Even hasn't made any noise at all, still calmly holding his gaze, “then that's fine too.”

Even's gaze flicks away and Isak lifts a hand to touch to his jaw.

“Baby. Baby, listen to me,” he insists, tilting his head to catch Even's gaze again. He takes a few seconds just to look at him, thumb rubbing over the line of his jaw before he speaks again.

“You're brilliant at what you do, whether this is the one or not. There are plenty of award-winning directors who weren't anywhere near where you are at twenty-seven. Everyone's journey is different, isn't that what you always say?”

Even rolls his eyes at him, because he's not fond of Isak using his own words against him. It's much harder to argue with himself, after all.

“I just don't want to have to see the reaction,” Even whines. “Can't I just stay here and then check what people thought online?”

Isak tamps down the urge to laugh and puts on a stern face instead.

“Hey, remember how you asked me to marry you yesterday and I said I would?” he asks, watching the way Even's entire posture melts into delight, his hands coming up to cup Isak's own face as he smiles at him.

“I do, yeah,” Even says, eyes twinkling like the idiot who loves puns that he is.

“Well, I'm not marrying a coward,” Isak says. “So put on your shoes, and call a taxi.”

Even stares at him for a moment and then bursts into a laugh that finally breaks the tension, leaning forward to press their smiling mouths together until they get themselves under control enough for a brief, sweet kiss.

“I can't chance that, can I?” Even says when he pulls back again, voice and face so unbearably fond that Isak wants to tell him to fuck the screening after all, they'll just stay here in this room, just the two of them. Who needs the rest of the world, really?

Instead, he gives him a little push.

“Go. I'll be right out.”

So Even goes, grabbing his phone and his jacket on the way out, and Isak slips on his trousers and dress shirt quickly to the sound of Even calling a taxi in the other room. Isak holds Even's hand on the drive over, rubbing his thumb over the back of his palm and babbling on about his research in order to distract Even. Before they go in to the screening, he holds him back for a moment.

“Hey,” he says, unable as ever to do anything but smile under Even's undivided attention. “I'm proud of you.”

Even smiles back and leans in to nuzzles their noses together briefly.

“I'm proud of me too,” he says.

Isak laughs quietly and gives him another kiss.

“You should be. Now let's go see your movie.”

They slip into the already darkening room and quickly find their seats in the front row, Isak reaching for Even's hand again, with absolutely no intention of letting go before the lights come back up. Even never speaks before his screenings, doesn't want to make himself do it, and doesn't want to take any amount of focus off the actual film.

Isak's seen it before, but it's something entirely different here, on the big screen, with hundreds of people behind him all gasping, laughing, even crying at all the appropriate moments. Isak can even hear whoever is sat behind him give an impressed hum at the dolly zoom Even has finally found an excuse to use. Beside him, Even relaxes more and more the longer the movie plays without anyone getting up to leave or booing or in any other way indicating that they don't like it.

The entire room stays silent throughout the credits, which has Isak grinning to himself and squeezing Even's hand, and when the lights come back on he can't help but shoot out of his seat, clapping wildly and beaming down at Even.

Even in turn looks up at him a little helplessly as the rest of the room joins Isak in his standing ovation, laughing as though he's not sure what to do.

Isak reaches for his shoulder and pulls him up, giving him a gentle shove towards the stage.

“Go!” he says, loudly, so Even can hear him over the applause, and then watches him stumble over his own feet on the way up the stage.

He can't believe he's going to marry that ridiculous man.