Sometimes, if not most of the time, life laughed in the face of carefully laid plans. The way of life you’ve built tediously, with help you never realised was there until you lost it, was so easily yanked out of your reach forever.
You rebuilt a body one time too many.
You burned down an empire, quite literally.
You became a fugitive.
And a father.
Even looked at the ponytail that was swaying angrily back and forth, getting further away from him accompanied by an ochestra of profanities a fourteen year old girl should not have held in her vocabulary, and sighed. Liliann had been a handful all her life, but now, in the grips of puberty, Even sorely noticed the lack of female presence in her life.
She also was the spitting image of her mother and her father, at the same time, which was some kind of a miracle in itself. Every time Even looked at her, his heart filled with love, and that love was sprinkled with the black, bitter ashes of loss.
He would lose her, too.
The time of telling her what exactly happened to her mother and father was getting closer by the day. And on that day, she would turn her back on Even for good. Ten years was a good run, wasn’t it? Ten wonderful, terrible years raising the most perfect little girl in the world, with the best people Even could hope for.
Magnus had taught her to appreciate knowledge and approach things methodologically, experimenting and testing and believing only when she could prove it herself.
Mahdi had been extremely important, regarding ways to express feminity while holding her head high, proud of every bit she was and could be.
Jonas had showed her the value of loyalty and servitude.
Even wasn’t sure what Isak had taught her, but he had been Even’s rock, and maybe that was enough. Isak had kept himself at an arm’s length from Liliann ever since rescuing her. Even had tried asking Isak why, but in time he had simply gotten used to the idea of Isak and Liliann just coexisting, without a deeper relationship.
Maybe Isak regretted what he had done to her ten years ago. Using her to get to his mother. Taking too long to get there. Liliann had suffered from regular nightmares for years, despite all Magnus’ hard work, and even now she screamed herself awake every now and then. Those nights Even turned his back on Isak in their bed. Those mornings Isak gotn up before him and Even didn’t see him all day.
Now Isak was there. He stepped into the hallway and walked to Even. He was still walking with a slight limp. Ten years had taken their toll on his body, and they had to be more careful when playing with it. Isak placed his hand on Even’s shoulder, and Even brushed at his lumpy fingers. They had stopped counting how many times Isak’s fingers had been broken. Sometimes Isak hid his hands in his pockets, but Even would pull them out from his wrists and kiss each and every lump until Isak remembered his hands were beautiful.
“She’ll come around”, Isak said calmly. He always said that. And he was always right. Isak slid in front of Even along Even’s body, and leaned his back against Even’s chest. Lightly. Even could almost feel the long, narrow bruises of the cane along his back, still glowing their dark warmth.
Even buried his face briefly in Isak’s hair.
“You know her so well.”
“I know everyone I can observe.”
Even had also done quite a bit of observing. He had seen how Isak looked at Liliann when he thought nobody was watching. Isak adored that kid. And lately, Even had seen sadness seep into that adoration.
“You look at her differently now”, Even said, quietly. Liliann had already turned a corner and disappeared, but she could still be there, pressed against the wall, her ears open and keen. There was a reason some rooms in this complex were sound proofed.
Isak shifted. He rubbed his back against Even, and let Even hear the sharp little breath he drew because of the pain. Even lowered his hands on Isak’s hip bones.
“You are not seducing your way out of this conversation, Snake.”
Even didn’t see it, but he was sure Isak closed his eyes. He liked his pet name. He had always liked it, knowing he had earned it. He also swayed his hips ever so slightly, pressed tightly against Even’s groin.
After all these years that was all it took.
But Even was not going to let him out of this.
“Isak. Tell me.”
“Not here.” Isak kept looking at the end of the hallway, at the turn, and shook his head. He spoke softly, almost whispering. “Take me to bed.”
Even considered. Or, pretended to consider. He was ready to go, immediately. If Isak had asked, Even could have taken him right here on the hallway against the wall. At least physically. Even did not want Liliann to see them like that. So, he took Isak with him and walked into the nearest vacant bedroom.
Isak pulled his shirt off in one single flowing motion. Even saw the bruises criss crossing across his back, and his mouth flooded with saliva. He wanted to push his fingers in that skin, to drag them, pressing hard, along those tracks. He wanted to make Isak squeak.
“Please, put that back on. I’m not in the mood to be manipulated.”
Isak took his shirt and pulled it over his head.
“It’s foreplay, not manipulation.”
“With you that’s a really fine line, love.”
Isak sat down on the edge of the bed. He didn’t look at Even. That gave Even a moment to look at him. The split lip really enhanced the beauty of that face. Isak knew it, and he was buying himself time by parading that side of his face in front of Even.
Even allowed that. For now.
He had time.
“The day is getting close”, Isak finally said.
“What day?” Even leaned his back on the door, his arms crossed over his chest, relaxed. Isak wasn’t the only one round here who knew how to pose for their advantage.
Isak turned to look at him. There it was again, that sadness. Like a thin veil over the green eyes.
“When she will learn the truth. Where she came from. And how.”
Even swallowed a hard lump that appeared from nowhere. All other lumps and bulges disappeared with it, and he pushed himself away from the door.
“I know. I will not -- Magnus will have to cook up a storm to create something that will hold me together after that.”
It was just a whisper. But it was so strong. Isak was not going to accept any options, he wasn’t going to negociate, he had made up his mind. Even could hear it, but still he asked.
“I will not allow it.” Isak stood up and walked around the bed. He turned his back on Even. He was being serious. He wanted Even to listen, he wasn’t giving Even space to put his word in. “She is your daughter. She will remain your daughter. She will continue to love and trust you, and Magnus, Mahdi and Jonas, because I will be the one who shatters her world and breaks her heart.”
Even stared at Isak. He couldn’t. He hadn’t. Had he? All these years, being friendly but not close, to Liliann? Ten years of consistent, resilient working, toward this goal? Was that possible?
He knew Isak well enough to know that wasn’t only possible, but also likely.
“What’s done is done. She can afford to lose me.”
Even walked to Isak and wrapped his arms around him. He pulled Isak close, careful of his bruises this time.
“She’s not going to lose you. You’ll still be here.”
“She will never be able to look at me without remembering that I was the one who destroyed her whole life when she was four years old. She will never forgive me.” Isak spoke softly, silenty, to hide the pain in his voice. Even heard it anyway. He had listened to Isak’s voice for ten years now.
“I will tell her. There’s no sense in you doing it. Unless you want to break your heart, her heart and your family, while undoing ten years of my work.”
“Work I never asked of you!” Even raised his voice a bit too much, considering he was still clinging on to Isak. He took a breath and lowered it. “I never asked.”
Isak shrugged. Or, moved his shoulder, barely.
“I love you. I make long term plans. That’s who I am.”
“I don’t want you to plan my life out for me. I am not a child, for fuck’s sake!”
“Please don’t yell. This room isn’t sound proof.”
Even was so, so mad at Isak right now. At the same time he didn’t want to let go of him. He was mad, and there was only one person in the world he wanted to tell about it, and that person was here, in his arms.
“You had no right to take this from me”, Even said, pressing his face in Isak’s hair. “This was mine. It was a pain, but it was my pain.”
“I know”, Isak sighed. “I am prepared to pay the price, whatever it will be.”
Even hugged Isak tighter. Isak tensed up, but not in a sexy way, and he kept quiet.
“Pay the price?”
“Whatever it will be.”
Even knew what Isak meant. Isak was willing to sacrifice him, too. Isak was willing to accept that Even couldn’t look at him the same way ever again, either.
He had no right to do that, either. He had no right to put their relationship at risk like that. To handle them so carelessly.
“I can’t. Not right now.” Even let go of Isak and stepped back. Isak remained still. Like a statue. A statue of a perfect man. “Sleep in here tonight.”
“Go ask if Magnus has something if you need to.”
“I will. Please, don’t tell her anything yet.”
Isak shook his head. He didn’t turn to look at Even.
“Not yet. But soon.”
Even couldn’t say anything. He couldn’t take a stand in this matter, not for or against it. So he didn’t. He just walked out the door and closed it behind him.
He turned around and pressed his forehead on the door. He closed his eyes, and imagined Isak pressing his forehead on his on the other side.
Even wandered the corridors aimlessly. His anger was rushing in his veins, bubbling away in a rolling boil, the steam seeping through his pores and cooking him from the inside out. He needed to let it out faster. He needed to vent.
He was so happy he didn’t run into Liliann right now. He had never thought he’d be happy that Liliann was mad at him, but now he was. She would stay out of his way. She would stay safe. Even slipped his hand in his pocket and wrapped his fingers around the handle of his switchblade. His thumb fondled at the button, pressing it down just enough to make the mechanism almost but not quite activate. If it launched, the blade would have sunken into his thigh.
There was visible thinning on the blade by now. It had been sharpened so many times over, that the metal had worn off at the edges, making the blade narrower and ever so slightly wavy. If Even’s skills of handling his knife hadn’t gotten better at the same rate, those near insivible curves could have meant trouble with precision work. Subdermal cuts. Working near major arteries or internal organs. Even’s fun could have been cut short because he’d broken his toy too badly.
Even let go of the handle. He couldn’t play with anyone now. He was too upset. Games like that needed his full attention and focus. But he could do something less delicate. He could pull out some screams.
Fuck, he missed Mikael right now. The subservient little Lamb would have been perfect company for him. Even stopped, mid step, and closed his eyes. He imagined Mikael on his knees in front of him, his sleek black hair, his wet, dark eyes. His lovely, lovely screams, each followed by a thank you, Father.
But Mikael wasn’t here. He belonged to Elias Bakkoush now. That smug bastard didn’t deserve him. Still, Even had handed him over. A bargaining chip. If he had the chance, he would do it all over again, because that meant Liliann was here. She was safe. That didn’t mean he didn’t miss Lamb.
As the animosity had diluted over the years, Even had thought about Chris more fondly. He had stabbed Even in the back, repeatedly, and Isak quite literally, but he had done all that for Liliann. That was the noblest cause Even could imagine. He stood in the hallway, his eyes closed, and watched Mikael be replaced by Chris. Chris with his cocky, sly grin. On his knees like Lamb, but not submissive. Challenging. Wearing nothing but the cross.
“Fuck”, Even whispered. His eyes snapped open and his steps got new determination. He walked back where he came from, followed his own tracks, all the way to the room he had left Isak in. He pulled the door open. Isak sat up on the bed, looking at him. Ten years, and still Even couldn’t tell for sure how Isak was feeling. He had learned that he had to trust Isak, because where knowing failed, trust filled the gaps.
Even pulled the blade out of his pocket and placed it on the side table. Out of reach. He didn’t want to be tempted to use it now, not when he was shaking like this. Ten years. He kept thinking about those ten years, of how Isak had just stayed focused on his goal all that time, effortlessly. How many other plans did he have, simmering under a closed lid? When would they be put into action? In another ten years? Fifty?
Isak undressing cut Even’s trail of thought. It had changed during the years, but it was still beautiful. The most beautiful Even had ever seen. The battered, lumpy fingers. The long limbs. His collar bones, each snapped twice, had healed prettier than his hands. His ribs, too, but they had been only fractured. The scars traveled here and there in short, forking paths, lashed everywhere. Isak was running out of uncut skin, and they had paced themselves.
“I was thinking about them again. Lamb. And Dove.”
“You miss them”, Isak said. He walked to Even slowly. Even watched him arrive. He wrapped his arms around him. Buried his face in his hair.
“Sometimes. But I don’t need them like I used to.”
Isak rubbed Even’s chest gently.
“Can I help you?” Isak lowered himself slowly down on his knees. He opened his eyes wide and looked up at Even. He looked almost timid. “Father?”
Even shuddered. That was. Well. The next best thing, really. But he wasn’t in the mood to be worshipped. Isak could tell that, and his expression turned into a smirk. He stood up, cupped his hand over Even’s groin and grabbed it.
“Ready to get pegged, asshole?”
That’s more like it. Even grabbed Isak’s wrist and twisted until Isak had to release his grip.
“Just don’t call me Dove. Chris is fine.”
Even nodded. Yes, yes, fine, fine, whatever. He had more pressing issues in his mind right now. Like getting them into a sound proofed room. Even dragged Isak from the twisted wrist to the door, and cracked it to peek outside. Isak was naked, after all, and Liliann might be around.
“Lil? You there?” No answer. Even pushed his head out and looked. No sight of her. Good. Even pulled Isak out with him and hurried down the hallway. They entered their own bedroom and closed the door after them. Isak locked it.
“How would you like it?” Isak asked. Even chuckled.
“That’s so out of character.”
Isak grinned. He agreed. Then he swaggered to Even, grabbed his face between his hands and kissed him. Hard. With some tongue and a bit more teeth. Even dove head first into that kiss, drowning himself into it.
Isak was grouching. He was making himself exactly as tall as Chris. Even had to lean down a bit to kiss him, and he pushed up from down there with forceful energy. Defiance. He was not going to submit easily, and if he did, he wouldn’t like it. He might enjoy it, but he wouldn’t like it one bit.
Isak managed to push all that flavour into one kiss. Skillful.
Still able to surprise. Even was completely certain by now that when he would die of old age, Isak would slip his knife between his ribs at the very last moment and dig his heart out to see its final beat.
That thought made him so fucking hard. That image was enhanced by the flavour of blood that oozed from the split on Isak’s lip, opened again by the force of their kiss.
Even ran his hands over Isak’s naked body. The bumps and pencil strokes of scars, the shape of the bones. He didn’t focus on their feel fully, because he could tell the difference between Isak’s and Chris’ body easily. Only quick touches, brushes, that made the body in front of him shiver.
He found a nub that hardened as he touched it. Even smiled into the kiss and grabbed the nub, twisting it, hard. It made Isak cuss his way out of the kiss, with a pained groan. He put his mouth in use immediately, and sank his teeth on Even’s shoulder. Not hard, just to show he had bite. Just like Chris.
Even grabbed his shoulders and twisted them back, pressing his thumbs in the root of the joint. Just like he’d do to Chris. Isak hissed, and struggled, he tried to get free of the grip and that made Even’s thumbs only sink in harder. Isak would bruise. Lovely. Just lovely. Even pushed him in front of him, to their bed, and when Isak’s legs touched it Even shoved him hard enough to make him fall on his back.
Isak was lying on the bed, naked, panting softly. He got up, leaning on his elbows, and narrowed his eyes.
“Don’t you fucking dare.”
Even shoved Isak’s knees apart with his own knee and stepped between them. Isak crawled back on the bed, but all it took for Even was to bend down and grab Isak behind the knees. One sharp yank, and Isak was flat on his back, his legs split and up in the air. He was squirming a bit, pretending to struggle, but he was rock hard. And he wasn’t really trying to get away from Even, only refusing to submit easily. Just like Chris.
Even grabbed Isak’s dick. That stopped Isak’s struggles for a second, forcing him to shudder and sigh. Even held on to it, half pulling Isak up from it, as he walked closer to the bed and let Isak’s legs slide up his shoulders. All the way up. Isak was standing on the back of his neck on the bed, his thighs hugging Even’s head, and his lovely, lovely hole right in front of Even’s face. Even spread Isak’s buttocks with his thumbs, stuck his tongue out and dove in.
Isak howled in pleasure. His thighs vibrated against Even’s head, and he tried to push himself higher up. He couldn’t, not without snapping his neck, but he tried. Even cut him some slack and leaned lower himself, so he could push the tip of his tongue inside Isak.
“Ohhhh fuck”, Isak gasped. “Shit! Fuck!” His cusses were like barks, short and sharp. He clinged on the sheets and his back was squirming like a wave rolling to shore. Even kept teasing him, his tongue exploring everywhere, curious, eager. Isak crossed his ankles behind Even’s back and pulled himself higher. He pulled himself off the bed, up in the air. Fuck.
Even stepped back. Isak wasn’t hanging over the bed anymore. If he fell, he would probably get hurt. He had made this bed himself and now Even made him lie in it, all the while enjoying his taste. Even pushed his tongue deeper. Harder. Faster. Isak’s thighs were shaking. He knew Even wouldn’t let him down before he came. He knew he had to hang on until then. He was lucky he had impressed Even enough to make Even willing to help him come as fast as possible.
Even let his fingers slink around Isak’s body to the front. They found the very tip of his dick. It was already moist, glistening with precum, which Even spread all around the hard smooth tip. He grabbed it between his index finger and thumb, and rubbed on it, back and forth. It made Isak moan words neither of them understood. He was getting close. So close. Even pushed his knee a bit forward and pressed it between Isak’s shoulder blades, as sharp as he could. He let his teeth graze on the sensitive, thin skin around the pulsating rim. He pushed his tongue in as deep as he could, his whole mouth against Isak, and bit down.
Isak came. He had to lower his other hand on the floor to carry himself through his orgasm. Ten years had taken their toll. Even didn’t kick that hand off from under Isak. But he did step on the fingers, making Isak howl again, in the aftershock of his coming.
Even lowered Isak on the floor at his feet. He wiped his mouth with the side of his palm.
Isak sat up slowly. He was still a bit shaky, and his abs must have been working their ass off.
“Mm. My pleasure.” Isak looked up at him, from under his brow. “Anything else I can do for you, love?”
Even held out his hand and helped Isak up on his feet. He looked at the shadows already starting to form, the thumbprints on Isak’s shoulders.
“I’m good. I don’t feel like coming, I’ll just wait it out.”
“That’s the third time this week. You should talk to Magnus.”
Even sighed. He probably should have. But he didn’t want to. His issues were none of Magnus’ business.
“And you should talk to Liliann.”
Isak looked at Even, sharper now.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. You’re right, it makes sense. I don’t like it, and I don’t agree with it, but you have created a circumstance where you telling her will hurt her the least.”
Isak kissed Even’s hand and stepped back. He sat down on the bed.
“You know. You said that it’s your pain. But isn’t it really mine?”
Even frowned. He didn’t understand. Nor ask. He waited for Isak to keep talking.
“I was the one who caused all this, Even. Me. I infiltrated your life, and her life. I made Chris leave with her. I told my mother where to find them. All I have done has hurt that little girl, and now she’s growing up and shining, all despite of everything I did to her. How can you say that this pain isn’t mine?”
Even closed his eyes. Isak was right. Even knew he was right, but he didn’t want to believe that. Because that would mean he couldn’t love Isak as much anymore, as unconditionally and full of certainty.
He was a father now.
Fathers had responsibilities.
Even had run away from his for ten years. For the sake of his own heart.
He could still keep running.
“When will you tell her?”
“Tomorrow. Better get it over with.”
Even nodded. Isak was right. The sooner Liliann learned the truth, the sooner she could start coming to terms with it.
“I’ll tell the others. Have a chat with Magnus while I’m at it.”
Isak said he’d take a nap to recharge. Even kissed his forehead before he left the room.
Even decided to start with Magnus. He headed for the lab with determination in his steps. He was going to get things sorted out now, things that had been put off for too long. Even slipped his hand in his pocket to play with his switchblade’s button, but he didn’t meet it. He must have forgotten it in their bedroom.
He was so not in the mood to meet Isak again this soon. Besides, he had walked so far already. He didn’t need it, he just wanted something to fiddle, because he was so nervous. This was going to be a tough talk. Two tough talks. Even stepped from the corridor into the stairs. The buildings of the base were connected by tunnels, and the lab was the furthest away for safety reasons. It was a long walk.
When the walk was over Even checked the light over the door. It was off. So he pushed the door open and leaned his shoulder on the doorframe.
“What’s up, doc?”
Magnus raised his eyes from his work. Those goggles kind of worked for him, they made his eyes look huge.
“Uh. Since you’re here, I think I should be the one asking that question. What brings you here?”
Even would have liked to prolong this conversation, but apparently Magnus was in the middle of something he found interesting. He wanted to get rid of Even as fast as possible. Even walked to him, slowly, and brushed his fingers through the fair hair.
“Can’t I just miss you?”
“You can do that from afar. What can’t wait until dinner?”
Even pushed his fingers deeper. Magnus had hair like hemp. All the chemicals made it brittle. The strands clinged on his fingers.
“I need something from you.”
Magnus grabbed Even’s wrist and folded his hand out of his hair.
“But not this. This is just a distraction, and I’m not going to allow it.”
Even grunted. But he didn’t object. Because Magnus was right.
“Based on how Isak has been moving lately you haven’t fucked him in a while. Why’s that?”
“Maybe I’ve fucked someone else?”
“Not me. Jonas hasn’t been getting any new marks, either. So..you expect me to believe you’ve been fucking Mahdi without me knowing?”
Even shrugged. He hadn’t planned this through or anything, he didn’t have any lines ready.
“To be honest, I’ve been expecting this visit.” Magnus opened a drawer and pulled out a box. It rattled. “I have also been observing you for a while now. I think you need these.”
Even gave the box a quick glance and looked away. He didn’t need them. He didn’t need anything. But at the same time he knew he did. He had to take care of himself. He was a father now.
“What are they for?”
“Just to balance you out a bit. I think you’re a bit too far on the numb side. These should stimulate you a bit but not too much.”
Even placed his hand on Magnus’ waist.
“Speaking of stimulation.”
Magnus stepped away, shaking his head.
“I don’t need any stimulation, thank you. And you really don’t need to put up this act with me, I know your libido is low.” Magnus took the box and rattled it lightly. “The white ones help your mood. The blue ones are for the libido. I highly recommend the whites, but the blues are optional.”
Even snatched the box from Magnus and peeked inside. Capsules, like usual. This wasn’t new to him. But it was still humiliating. The blue ones added insult to injury, as well.
“I don’t need the blue ones. I’m virile.” Even grabbed Magnus and pulled him close. Mags liked it rough, little bitch. He liked it rarely but when he did, he liked it rough. “Want to find out how virile?”
Magnus let Even hold him. He wasn’t resisting. That meant he wasn’t playing along, and that meant this wasn’t going to happen. But Even could get a little peek, cop a little feel. His eyes locked on the chemical burn scar under the collarbone. He remembered making it.
“You done?” Magnus sounded bored. Even shook his head to clear his thoughts and let go of Mags. He stepped back, and just to be on the safe side he walked to the other side of the bench, too.
“Sorry. It’s just. There’s something going on with Liliann, and it’s bringing back some. Unpleasant memories.”
Hearing Liliann’s name made Mags perk up.
“She hasn’t come around for like a week. What’s going on?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, considering her. She’s fifteen. She has five dads. She’s bound to act up.” Even was stalling, again. He sighed. “It’s time to tell her.”
Magnus stepped back in shock.
“Tell her? About her...parents?”
“We are her parents.” But Magnus was right. It didn’t make this any easier. “But she needs to learn where she came from. She needs to learn about her mother. And her father.”
It was so fucking hard to say out loud. That Liliann, their little girl, had a father who wasn’t here. That they were keeping something from her, something that important.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Even frowned. This wasn’t the response he had expected. Magnus adored Liliann and would do anything to make her happy.
“Think about it. Just. For a moment. She remembers she had a father who isn’t around anymore. Then you tell her that her father is the leader of the fucking city, and he hasn’t come for her, for ten years, and -- holy fuck, Even, are you planning to tell her why Chris is out of the picture?”
“Of course? She needs to hear her story.”
“Are you fucking insane?! Wait, don’t answer that. I know you are. But are you also an idiot?”
Even had a sudden urge to slam Magnus into the wall and put him in his place. He suppressed that urge.
“You should know that, as well. How is it relevant here?”
“She borderline hates Isak! What will happen when she hears about what he did?”
“She doesn’t hate Isak!”
“Well. She isn’t a fan, either.”
Even bit his tongue so he didn’t tell Magnus it seemed to him that someone else wasn’t Isak’s fan, either. Living together with four other men and a girl had taught him a few things about arguments.
“Isak did that on purpose, you know.”
Magnus frowned. He looked suspicious.
“Isak does everything on purpose. Why, this time?”
“Let’s put it this way. Do you want to be the one who tells her about her past?”
Even waited. He saw the cogs turning in Magnus’ head. When they stopped, Magnus’ eyes filled the goggles completely.
“No. No fucking way.”
“It’s his sacrifice. His penance. He loves Liliann so much, and still he’s willing to do this.”
“Fuck. I can buy it - barely - that he loves you, because you’re fucking soulmates or something. But that man does not know what love is. What real love is. What a family is.”
Magnus was so fucking lucky Even didn’t have his knife with him right now.
“Fuck you! He knows more about love than you ever will, frigid freak!”
Magnus took the slur unfazed. Asshole.
“Ten years, Even. He has planned this for then years, putting his plan carefully into action, making sure everything goes his way. That’s not love. That’s a script.”
“You make him sound like some evil mastermind. A puppet master. I thought we were a family.”
“We are. Just a rather dysfunctional one, and when it comes to Liliann I am not letting us hurt her because we can’t handle our own shit.”
“She is my daughter. She was made for me. That’s why I get to make the calls.”
“Uh-huh. So, tell me. How did Isak take it when you told him that?”
The intercom crackled. First all they heard was Liliann sobbing. Then Mahdi spoke, hurriedly.
“Babe, is Even there?”
Magnus walked to the panel and pressed the button.
“Was just about to kick him out. What’s the matter?”
“Get in here. Now. Both of you.”
Liliann was pulling herself together rapidly, but she was still crying. Even’s heart twisted at the sound.
When Mahdi barked his final command, Even was already out the door.
A spoilerific content warning at the end notes. I doubt people reading *this* fic will need it, considering this is already ch 4, but no shame if you take a peek at it before reading.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Isak counted to two hundred in his head. Then into one hundred more, just to make sure. Then he opened his eyes and sat up on the bed. Even wouldn’t come back. He believed Isak, probably because he wanted to. Since when had Isak needed a nap, ever in his life? Especially after something that minor? No. Even wanted to get away from Isak, and Isak had given him a way out. Simple. Neat.
Unlike what was about to happen. Isak walked to the closet and got dressed. He wore a pair of black pants, soft and flowy, and a white tank top. It was cotton. Isak loved the way cotton felt on his skin, it was soft and rough at the same time. It felt like Even’s fingers.
Isak closed his eyes and pressed his hand on the wall for support for a second. Thinking about Even now wasn’t wise. He was about to lose Even, and that would be his final sacrifice. It would be his redemption. He would set things right. That little girl deserved it.
Isak lifted his head up and left the room. He knew where to find Liliann. He knew where she went when she was upset. He had been paying attention. Isak walked to the emergency exit, sneaked in through the door and started climbing up the ladder. He noticed the bars had worn out, the width of a palm, on both ends. This ladder had been climbed often. Liliann had her father’s temper.
The winds of the desert got tangled in Isak’s hair as he popped his head out through the hatch. The sun stung his eyes. It had been a while since he had been outside. Isak had grown up mostly indoors, he liked the windowless rooms. They were easier to control. Less variables to be taken into account.
Isak crawled out and let the wind grab his clothes. He narrowed his eyes and shaded them with his hand. Where was that girl? Isak caught a flutter of fabric at the corner of his eye and turned to look. Liliann was climbing up a cliff, that was more like a wall than a rock. She was barefoot, clinging to the stone with her toes and fingertips, progressing slowly upward.
She truly was amazing. Isak felt a lump at the back of his throat when he looked at her. He loved that girl so much. He knew her better than anyone else, too, because he had had time to observe her. Really look at her. Get to know her. Isak knew everything about her, except her thoughts. He couldn’t have it all. He didn’t deserve it all.
Isak waited for her to reach the top. He watched her press her palms on the head of the cliff and push her upper body up. She rolled on her side and pulled her legs up as well, and stood up, triumphantly. Then she turned around and saw Isak.
She clenched her fists.
He didn’t say anything. He waited for her to climb down. But she didn’t climb. She crawled over the edge, facing the cliff, and dropped down first on her grip and then all the way to the ground. She landed softly. It hurt, Isak could tell, but she didn’t seem to break anything. Isak’s heart swelled with pride, only to be squeezed into a little lump a second later.
“Hello, Liliann”, Isak said. “You have been practicing.”
Liliann didn’t say anything. She raised her chin and showed a strand of hair away from her eyes, angrily. Her eyes were full of thunder and lightning.
Isak nudged his head in the direction of some big rocks. They would make a good place for them to have their talk.
“I have something to tell you. Please.” Isak turned and walked to the rocks. He heard Liliann kept standing still, and then a moment later follow him. She kicked up a cloud of sand with every step.
Isak turned around to face her again. She folded her arms across her chest.
“I don’t give a fuck about what you have to say.”
A smile nugded at the corner of Isak’s mouth. But he kept it at bay. Liliann would never have spoken like this to any of her other dads. Maybe Jonas, they had this weird bond where Liliann called Jonas Asshole and he called her Bitch. Only when Even couldn’t hear them, of course.
“Dad can apologize to me when he’s ready. I don’t care about your diplomacy.” The tone of her voice when she said diplomacy made it clear. She wanted to say manipulation. Isak couldn’t blame her. If anything, he was proud of their little girl. She was so observant, and Isak liked to think she had learned that from him.
He wanted to tell her he loved her. He wanted that so much. But that would have just made her scoff and storm away, and she needed to hear what Isak had to say. Today. Not tomorrow, not when it was too late, after Even had told the others and the others had declined. This had to be done. Liliann could handle it. Isak knew her better than anyone.
“I want to tell you about your mother. And your father. Both of them.”
That got her attention. Liliann bit her lip briefly, and for that second she looked so insecure that it made Isak’s heart ache. But she could take this. She was strong, stronger than anyone Isak knew. So he started talking. He told Liliann about two people who loved Even very much, years ago. Who loved him so much they made her for him.
Even rushed into the living room. He had run so fast he couldn’t even hear Magnus’ steps behind him. He saw Liliann, and he saw she was covered in blood, and for the first time in his fucking life the crimson stains made him scared. Even grabbed Liliann’s hands and turned them, to see where she had been hurt, and in his mind he swore he would kill anyone who had hurt her, even if it meant killing one of her fathers.
As he turned Liliann’s hand he saw she was still squeezing the knife.
It was his switchblade. The blade was stained with blood, and Even could have recognised that shade anywhere.
It was Isak’s blood.
Liliann was crying again. Even grabbed her and pulled her against his chest. He hugged her tightly, and she clinged to him, and she kept saying she was sorry, over and over again. Even could smell Isak’s blood, and his own blood turned into ice in his veins. He remembered now, he remembered he had forgotten his knife on the table in the bedroom he had left with Isak, in a hurry to do him like Chris.
He remembered having left Isak after that.
This was his fault. This was all his fault.
“It’s okay”, Even tried to mumble, in her hair. “Daddy’s got you.”
Isak lay on the sand, trying to keep breathing. The sky was so blue above him, so high and beautiful. He pressed his hand on his wound, but that didn’t seem to help all that much. It didn’t matter. His work was now done. He had saved Liliann, and he had told her the truth, and now he was ready.
He was so fucking proud of that girl. He hadn’t seen this coming, not one bit. She took him completely by surprise and that was no small feat. Isak had heard the blade come out, and immediately after that he had felt it enter his body. Four swift strikes, close together. Isak tasted blood at the back of his throat, and when he coughed a little it flooded his mouth.
Some colour on his lips, Isak thought, and would have giggled if he only could. He was losing a lot of blood. He was getting light headed.
It hadn’t been Even who killed him. But his daughter. Isak could live with that.
No. He could die with that.
Just before everything went dark Isak heard the hatch open. The last thing he saw was Jonas’ face, framed by the bright, endless blue.
Liliann stabs Isak. It looks like he's going to die.