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it's not the same anymore

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Isak grabs the nearest thing to him, the quickest possible thing he could get his hands on, and throws it, with every bit of intent of making a dent. 

Its a sneaker, and it flies through the air just as Adam ducks out of the way, falling to the floor behind him. Futile, but for a moment it felt good. Isak wants to throw something else, but the next best thing is a pillow. That won’t do. Isak wants to tear open his chest and throw his heart at him, maybe that would make his point more clear. 

“May I just say again, that I did not sleep with him!” Adam defends himself, and Isak doesn’t even know why he let the bastard sleep on his couch last night. He should’ve gotten the locks changed before he had a chance to get in.  

“Oh right, because your receptionist needs to be up at 2 am with you.” Isak huffs, crossing his arms. He’s positively fuming. “See, this is why I didn’t want you to sell your house. I knew this would happen.”

“I didn’t sleep with him!” Adam rolls his eyes. Isak rolls his right back, his ears and cheeks hot from anger. “Isak, we’ve had problems for a year now, you don’t have to act like this is about David.” The way he says his name only makes Isak’s blood boil further. David, as if Isak needs to remember who picked up the phone last night, panting into the microphone and when Isak asked where Adam was, all he got was a ‘he’s busy'. 

“I’m well aware we’ve had problems. If I work too much, I never stop hearing about it.” Isak scowls, his tone punctuating his words. Each syllable feels like a knife sliding over his tongue. He hopes they’re hurting Adam, because even if for a second he feels the pain that Isak is currently feeling, then it’s worth it. 

“If you work too much?” Adam responds incredulously, and now his words are starting to feel like a stab, too. Isak remains stoic, stone-cold, hardened. He’s accustomed to it, and it’s not too hard to remain composed despite his heart feeling like it might explode. It’s rapid in his chest, clenching desperately for some kind of relief. Like a ticking bomb. Isak tries to take some steadied breaths, but that’s futile, too. “You’re in the studio all day, you sleep with your laptop more than you do with me! When’s the last time we had sex, Isak?”

“Nobody has time for sex.” Isak retorts with a huff. And it’s true, it’s not like he has the energy for it even if there was time, and it’s not like Adam is ever home anymore anyway. Isak swallows, a lump forming in his throat, an unfamiliar one that makes him even angrier. 

Adam sighs, and it looks for a moment like he’s calculating his next steps, his next words. Careful, Isak thinks, narrowing his eyes as Adam opens his mouth and Isak’s chest explodes, the bomb goes off. 

“That’s not entirely true.” 

“That’s it!” Isak shouts, reaching for the other sneaker, and a pillow, throwing them both at Adam and watching as he moves away easily, a huff of a laugh escaping him, sounding as if he’s mocking Isak’s efforts. “Get out!” 

“Can I at least—“

“No, you need to go, now,” Isak says as he rushes towards him, pushing him out of the bedroom and down the hall. Adam doesn’t protest, letting Isak’s hands push him down the hall and he shakes his head as they make their way down the stairs. A few of Isak’s maids rush out of the room once they see them, clearly interested in the situation but wanting to give them the illusion of privacy. Isak knows they’re just hiding in the next room, listening. He hopes they enjoy the show, at least someone could find the humour in this. 

“You know what I think? I don’t think you ever really loved me.” Isak says as he opens the front door, gesturing for Adam to go. But he just stands there,  like a buffoon with wide eyes and his mouth hanging open. “I think you loved the idea of me, but not…me. Not really.” He tries to make it sound harsh, but instead, it only ends up sounding like he’s looking for pity points — and no, he’s not looking for pity points, he’s looking to get Adam the fuck off his property. 

“I can’t believe you’re criticizing the way I loved you…I did the best job I could.” He sighs, and then, almost like he’s deliberately trying to clip away any remaining bits of Isak’s heart there is left, he says, “Is anyone going to be good enough for that job?” He sounds broken and angry, much like how Isak is, but he won’t let Adam know that. He won’t show Adam that it hurts. He clenches his jaw instead, trying to see what he might look like from an outside perspective. He hopes he looks composed, not like if Adam were to push at one more thing, he might just fall apart. 

Isak grabs Adam’s coat and keys and throws them out the door, pointing to them where they landed on the driveway. 

“I’ll send you your things.” 

“You know you do this right?” Adam shuffles through the door and collects his things, tears brimming his eyes. But he doesn’t look remorseful, if anything, he looks relieved. Isak feels it too, he knows he does, but right now he’s too angry, and the more Adam spews at him, words meant to inflict pain in the heat of the moment, the more Isak is inclined to listen. “You screw up every relationship. It’s what you do.” He practically sneers the words, and Isak slams the door so fast it almost shakes the walls. 

Slamming the door and turning the lock is almost better than throwing the sneakers at him. Isak balls his fists, bares his teeth, shaking visibly with anger, standing to stare at the door like it might explode, too. He lets out an agonizing sound, and for a moment, that feels almost as good as slamming the door. 

He rushes up the stairs and into their bedroom, his bedroom, and quickly runs around the room, throwing all of Adam’s things on the bed into a collective, shitty pile. He needs to pick up every inch of him and throw it out the window, or better yet, in the trash. There's a small part of him that just wants to torch the lot of it, send Adam a picture with Isak giving him the middle finger. 

He can still hear Adam talking out on the driveway, and Isak he goes over to his balcony doors, swinging them open and staring angrily down at the man he used to love. Used to, and that’s the problem. Adam looks up at him, a dangerous smile on his face, the one that Isak fell for. Isak wants to say something, anything to get that dumb smirk off his face. 

“You always resist it, in your own way. It’s hard to see how you do it, cause nobody is as smart as you, but it always surfaces, and this is what happens.”  He points to Isak, gesturing between them as if they are something to write home about. 

“What happens?” Isak responds, surprising himself with how it just bubbled out of him like he couldn’t resist. And he can’t, now this is easily becoming destructive. He wants to hear everything Adam has to say about him, he wants to memorize it. He wants to make sure he never feels this way again. He wants to make sure he doesn’t give anyone the power to. 

“Things end just like how you knew they would, almost as if you orchestrate it in your own way. I don’t know if you do it consciously or not but fuck, Isak. You never let anyone in, not completely.” He huffs, “There's nobody like you. But you…you aren’t what I need.”

“Oh, so David is?” Isak retorts. 

“Isak!”

“What, Adam?! I would never cheat on you.”

“And I wouldn’t cheat on you! Look at you, you must be the only person to break off an engagement and not even shed a fucking tear.” 

And okay, that stings, and it was uncalled for. Isak’s nails dig into his palm from how hard his hands are balled into fists, and he unravels them slowly, trying to calm himself, trying to find his composure, put his shield back up. 

“Why does it bug you so much that I can’t cry?” He asks, his voice still cold and distant. He prides himself for this talent he’s got, he’s good at closing himself off, and right now he needs to more than ever. “Look, Adam. It’s over between us, for real this time. So why can’t you just be honest with me?”

Another beat passes, and something akin to shame overflows through Adam’s features, and he looks solemn for a moment. One of the gardeners is listening, and Isak shoots him a pensive look. 

“He’s in love with me.” Adam breaks, and Isak groans, the gardener shakes his head. “I’ve slept with him. I’ve been sleeping with him. Are you happy?”

Isak disappears from the balcony, and before he can stop himself he’s running back to the front door, unlocking it, and forcing it open with a heaving swing. Who ordered such a heavy wooden door? He quickly steps out onto the porch to look at Adam, who was still looking up at the balcony before Isak appeared in front of him. 

Isak shuffles, fuming, wanting to get closer but he’s afraid he might end up doing something stupid, like one of them mistaking this tension for lust and pulling one another back inside to finish the job, and he can’t add that onto this list of complications, not right now, not when he just admitted to the one thing Isak can’t forgive. 

“Did you just ask me if I was happy?”

“I can’t tell with you, Isak. I never can and it used to drive me crazy about you. But I can’t do it anymore, I’m worn thin.” Isak takes a good, long look at him, and he can see the wear their lives have both had on each other. He can see the light dimming behind his eyes, the weariness etched onto his features. It doesn’t make him any more forgiving, though. 

“Do you know what cheating is, Adam? It’s a coward's way of breaking up with someone.” Adam deflates in front of him, and Isak fuels his fires from it. “It’s a bad way to end things because this is how I’ll always think of you. Not the guy who was the first person to help me make a home here,” His voice breaks, but he doesn’t cry, he doesn’t even feel his eyes get wet. If anything they’re almost stinging from how dry they are. Adam sniffs, biting his lip, tears brimming, and its Isak’s only inclination that this he’s hurting too. He’s not proud of it, but he fuels from that, too, from the pain Adam is so openly admitting to. “Not the guy I dreamed of spending my life with. No, now you’ll forever be tainted by this. In the world of love, this is unacceptable.”

“You’re one to talk. You haven’t loved me for a long time, you’ve just been keeping me around because I’m convenient, because I already know you so well. Fuck, Isak. Look at what that brought us to.” He squeezes his eyes shut as he rubs at them. “No matter what you think, and I know you have a high opinion of yourself, this isn’t all on me.” 

Isak can’t listen anymore. He instead turns on his heel and slams the door again, unable to even fathom the thought of looking at him directly anymore. 

Just then, Jonas strolls in, headphones on and carrying a laptop. He stops when he takes in Isak, who is still visibly shaking. Isak lets out a long, long sigh, and Jonas waits for him to finish. 

“Bad time?” He asks, and then he waits another long minute before Isak finally calms down enough to speak. 

“What’s up?” He asks, pushing himself off the door. He can still hear Adam saying something outside, but he tunes it out, remains composed. He doesn’t need to meltdown in front Jonas, who probably has probably been in the studio all morning and heard everything up until now, anyways. 

Jonas just grins instead, one of his kind smiles that eases Isak and he gives in, stepping towards him and welcoming his friend’s compassion, at least for now. 

Jonas knows to let Isak defuse for a few hours, possibly even weeks until he’s ready to talk about it. To properly think things through, make a pros and cons list. This time, he doesn’t want to think about it, he just wants to move the fuck on.

But Isak knows he will pry eventually when this has blown over, and maybe even intervene if it begins again. Jonas has never been one to hide his dislike for Adam, and now Isak wishes he would’ve just listened to him and broke it off before it got to this. 

“The music for the Indie movie trailer needs to be sent in today, do you want to look it over a bit more with me?” He asks, and just like that Isak realizes what this is. Jonas would be dumb not to have heard all the commotion, not to have listened in on the explosive fight that was bound to happen between Isak and Adam for weeks now. Months, maybe even years. Isak doesn’t know how long this has been bubbling between them, always threatening to go overboard. 

But then Adam had proposed after they’d had a surprising few good months together, and for a while, it was like the beginning again, things were exciting with him again, and it seemed alright. Now though, now Isak realizes that he was stupid for ever thinking this could work. Love sucks. 

“Love sucks,” Isak says, and Jonas grins, letting out a chuckle. Jonas wouldn’t know, he’s happily married, but he chuckles nonetheless because he’s got too big of a heart not to try and lighten the situation any way he can. 

“You need a vacation.” He says, and Isak shakes his head. “Yeah you do, you know once we get this music done you’ll have two weeks off for the holidays, so why not go somewhere? I’m travelling to London with Eva, so I won’t be here.”

“Where would I go?”

“I don’t know… Where haven’t you been?”

Now that’s a good question because Isak’s been a lot of places. Not only has his job sent him on multiple trips, mostly free of charge, but his years spent with Adam had often led them on backpacking trips across different parts of the world, and more often than not, Isak would dream about those trips. That’s when life was easiest with him, when the weight of school or work or life wasn’t on them when they could just be the two, navigating the world. 

He doesn’t know what it’d be like to go somewhere alone. 

He suspects it would be, well, lonely overall. 

But, he can’t help the fact that being somewhere alone right now sounds enticing. It sounds necessary. He glances upwards towards Jonas after he realizes he’s been staring at his computer screen for the last minute, blankly. 

“London, huh?” He asks instead, and Jonas sighs this time because he knows what this is, it’s Isak’s way of getting out of a conversation, segueing it into talking about Eva. Jonas can talk about her for fucking hours. And he effectively does just that. 

So that’s where he finds himself, late at night after a day spent in the studio with Jonas, and his assistant Claire, only checking outside once to make sure Adam had really left.

He had, he hadn’t come back inside, he hasn’t texted Isak, he’s just gone. 

The absence of him hurts, but at the same time, Isak feels like a hand that’s been wrapped tightly around his throat for the past few years has finally succeeded in suffocating him, and he’s going to lose all sense of life if he keeps himself cooped up in this house during the holidays, and now he just wants to get out more than ever. 

Google search: vacation spots far from me

“Alright…where do I wanna go?” He asks himself, sitting at his desk with a glass of his favourite white wine, chewing nervously on his lip as he scrolls through the possibilities. He swivels the chair aimlessly, unable to be anything less than restless. After hearing Jonas talk about London all afternoon, and all the places he’s excited to see, Isak can’t help but want to feel that again. That rush of experience that inspires you to create. He misses being able to sit at a piano and just have the music come to him. “Alone…by myself…at Christmas… completely alone.” He mumbles and then takes a long sip from the wine. 

Google search: vacation spots for someone alone at christmas 

Google results: worry-free vacations

“Worry-free? Where would that be?” He laughs to himself and then feels pathetic. He coughs and sips his wine to hide the shame as if there's someone around to see him feel that way. 

“Bora-bora… Fuck, nei.” Isak remembers sleeping in a cabin all week there because he got a horrible sunburn the first day. “Caribbean? Too many families.” He wanted kids, one day. He thought he did. Adam wanted kids, and had fought with Isak time and time again about it. But Isak knew a kid would just complicate things more, a kid would end up hating them both. You do this, Adam’s voice sends a shiver down his spine, and he wants it to go away. Almost like you orchestrate it in your own way —

He takes a big gulp of his wine and then pours another glass, holding it now in his hand. “Vacation rentals… home exchange?”

______________________

Where do you want to go on your next vacation? 
Three clicks are all it takes to Search, Select and Contact. 
Your perfect vacation home exchange partner awaits.
______________________

He ends up searching through the Norway listings, only because his heart is yearning for it. He hasn’t been back in ages, and he’s sourly missing all the food and traditions. Though he won’t admit that. Adam always spent Christmas with his family, and their American traditions were different. Isak liked to pretend that he enjoyed them more than his own.

Isak wonders when the last time he did something was for himself and not Adam, or someone else. Just him. 

The thought of being holed up in a house somewhere far, with no signs of his and Adam’s life together, sounds like Heaven right now.

He clicks on a small, quaint cottage in Bergen, owned by a woman named Sonja. 

“A fairy tale cottage set in the tranquillity of the meadows, below the mountains, only a twenty-minute drive to the city. Snuggle up by the old brick fireplace, and enjoy a glowing fire and a cup of cocoa. Enjoy the nights in, an extensive movie collection to keep you company during a blizzard. Explore the fjords, and fall in love with Norway.” Isak mumbles out the description lazily and monotony, and then his eyes catch onto the only option available on the site: home exchange. He clicks it without thinking twice. 

A message pops up in his inbox a few moments later. 

______________________

Sonja 

Hey, interested in a house swap?

Hey, yes
I’ve never done anything like this before

Me neither!
Where are you from?


L.A.

Wow, no way!
Definitely interested
What do you do?

______________________

“I ruin every relationship that’s ever been important to me, Sonja, how about you?” He speaks out loud. The wine is getting to him now.

______________________

I’m a music composer for films, you?
Like I do soundtracks and stuff
Mostly trailers

Wow, that's incredible
I work at a newspaper
I’m a journalist

That’s amazing!
I’m Isak, by the way

Sonja :)
So, why the interest in a house swap?


Honestly, Sonja
I’m gonna be real with you


Go for it! :)

I just had a bad break up
and I can’t be in my house anymore
or L.A.
at least for the holidays


I haven’t had a breakup, but I agree with the house thing
I can’t sit in here alone for the holidays


Sounds like we both need an out


I think my house would be perfect for you, Isak


As long as you can promise me one thing?


And what is that?


That there are no men in a twenty-mile radius 
who could potentially break my heart


Oh Isak
I can most definitely promise you that :)

______________________

The days leading up to Isak’s trip are nerve-wracking, to say the least. He hasn’t fully comprehended the fact that he’s going to have someone else living in his house for two weeks - a total stranger, at that. Jonas isn’t too psyched about the idea either, but at least Claire will still be around, she’s keeping emails going steady through the holidays, and Isak couldn’t be more grateful for her.

He and Jonas get high the same night Isak books the home exchange, and Jonas sternly asks him to promise he won't do any work, not write, or look at a single work-related task. Isak agreed because Jonas’ furrowed brows and steady gaze is not something you fuck with while high. 

At least someone will be looking out for his business while he galavants off to a random town in the middle of Bergen. He tries not to think about it too critically. 

Sonja isn’t really a stranger anymore, anyways. She’s more like a pen-pal now, the two of them exchanging emails back and forth almost every hour for the past two days and agreeing on flights and scheduling. 

Isak apologizes for his abruptness the first time they messaged, and Sonja said she enjoyed his honesty, and Isak didn’t have the heart to tell her he was wine-drunk and recently broken up with, but he figures she knew anyways. 

Isak tells her all the different places she can visit, and Sonja is sad to tell him there's not much to do in her town. Again, somehow, this excites Isak. He really doesn’t know what it is that excites him. 


______________________

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

That sounds perfect! Nothing to do? I don’t think I’ve ever had that much free time on my hands. I can’t wait. 

______________________

 

It’s almost too honest, their emails back and forth, but Isak finds it oddly comforting, that there’s someone halfway across the world, and they’ll be swapping lives for a few weeks. Then, they return to their own reality, and they will never bump into one another, so what’s the harm than a little more than necessary honesty? 

That’s Isak’s logic anyways, but mostly he just finds it easier to just let his first thought come to mind and send it her way. 

______________________

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Haha, I’m happy that excites you. 

Are you sure you don’t mind me using your car? 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

Of course! Everything that's mine is welcome to you, if you need any help figuring out the gates or the pool, just let me know. :) 
Should I send you the cleaning staff’s schedule? They’re usually only around in the morning, I am happy to send you the number to my caterer as well. 
Oh, and the treadmill is broken, I have a guy coming to fix it in January. 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Isak! You’re killing me! You didn’t even tell me you had a pool! Now I need to start packing swimwear! Also, send me anything you want!

And, if you need any help navigating my bookshelves and movie collection, I have lots of recommendations. I might go around leaving a small sticky note on some of my favourites for you if that’s alright? It makes it easier to choose!

Wait, did I tell you I have a cat? You’re not allergic, right?

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

That’s actually pretty sweet Sonja, that’d be chill, I look forward to watching all the ones you recommend the most.

A cat? No, I’m not allergic! But cats don’t particularly enjoy me..so

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

HA, I’m sure they do! 

[image_attachment]

Her name is Freya, she’s sweet. As long as you feed her. If you want I can have a friend come to feed her for you if you don’t want that responsibility!

______________________

Isak doesn’t know how he will possibly be able to feed a cat, let alone himself for two whole weeks, so maybe the friend thing is a good idea. He takes a mental note to respond later because right now his kitchen is being filled with Eva Mohn, who insists on packing lunches for his trip despite the fact that her very own flight leaves in five hours. He lets her rummage through his fridge for a few minutes, but now she really was making actual sandwiches, and he had to stop her. 

“Eva, you—“

“Don’t tell me to go, Isak, I don’t want to. I don’t want Jonas to have to face them.” She pleads, but there's a bite to her tone too. She’s frazzled, that much Isak can tell. He doesn’t even remember when she first stepped in here, he was just having breakfast and then she was there in her pyjamas with her luggage and a big shawl thrown over her head as if she’d escaped from somewhere. 

“Eva, you and Jonas are married now, this is something you face together,” Isak says, and he doesn't even know who he is right now, whose words are these? 

When Eva is in trouble, there two options for her: get incredibly drunk, or bottle it up so tight before she explodes. She’s come to Isak in the past, which is only why he knows she’s in flight mode Eva right now, and he’s trying to find the logic to her struggles. 

Isak knew she was struggling with something because whenever Jonas talked about her, he would sound frequently worried, especially when it was about London, and the trip to see her parents and spend the holidays with them. 

“But Isak—“

“What’s going on, Eva? Do they not know or something?” He asks, and then, a recognition overflowing his features, face softening, he strides towards her before she collectively bursts into tears. “You didn’t tell them? Oh my god, does Jonas know?”

“No, he thinks I told them… I can’t — I thought maybe we’d end up not going or I’d eventually tell them, but I never wanted to. They’ll be so angry with me, and Jonas —” She freezes in Isak’s arms and looks up at Isak for a moment, eyes brimming with tears, cheeks already wet. 

“Eva, you know better than me that Jonas would understand, right? Like, forgive me for stating the obvious here, but that man would love you no matter what, right?” She nods, and Isak continues, “Then you know better than me that you need to talk to him, and figure it out together. For better or worse right?”

“Yeah—“ She sniffs, and they both turn as they hear the front door slamming closed and a confused Jonas walks in. 

And yeah, it’s pretty picturesque, Isak almost feels like he’s intruding. And God, it’s always like this with them. They love each other so much, they’re always in pain because of it, and Isak hates seeing Eva cry. He hates when Jonas cries, even though it is rare. 

Isak looks at them and he thinks of what kind of music he could make for them, a movie about their lives, and it would most definitely be some Shakespearean-level romance, but not too tragic. 

He sends them on their merry way once they talk it out with Isak as a silent mediator, who nods occasionally when either of them looks at him for an opinion, but he never once opens his mouth. He has no fair judgement on the grounds of love. 

It’s odd, to leave his home and know there will be someone occupying it while he’s away. Claire will still come around occasionally to do work in the studio, but that’s about it. 

The cab ride to the airport makes Isak feel queasy. 

He gets on the flight no problem, swallows a sleeping pill and puts on an eye mask to condemn himself to a few hours of sleeping uncomfortably in an airplane seat, because he’s here now, he’s committed to this, and from the way Jonas excitedly told him to make the best of it, he really wants to believe he can. 

Norway always felt like home and looking at it from above, the rolling green hills, now covered in a white, snowy blanket, makes Isak feel all the better about this decision. He can do this. He can spend two weeks alone, holed up from the world, away from work, away from Adam. 

Something aches in his chest then. All the commotion of Eva and Jonas had helped him momentarily forget why he was leaving in the first place. 

Suddenly, there's a voice inside Isak’s head, and though he tries to numb it out by putting on his headphones, it just gets louder. 

“Isak Valtersen is proud to present, ‘His Life’.” He closes his eyes, imagines the trailer of his own life before his eyes. It doesn’t look like any movie he’d ever be interested in, much less, composing music for. But there's a beat in the back, and it sounds dreary, like an old-fashioned cartoon character just got a pie to the face, and now everyone’s laughing in pity. “He had it all. The job, the house, the guy. This holiday season, find out what Isak doesn’t have.” 

The metaphorical pie has certainly been thrown in Isak’s face and the last thing he needs is some subconscious part of himself sending subconscious bouts of pity. Shut up, he thinks. 

“Ugh.” Isak takes to groaning out loud, turning the music up as loud as it can go and ignoring the stares he gets from the old woman across the way from him. He’s fully aware he’s blasting N.W.A, and he frankly, does not give a single fuck about anyone right now. He can admit, at least, that he’s wallowing. He’s feeling something about his break up with Adam. But he doesn’t cry. He doesn’t feel the need to, not really. 

It’s not that he didn’t try, for lack of better words. 

Maybe the bottle of wine impaired his ducts or something, but he did lie in his bed for at least twenty minutes, trying to force some kind of tears to form. He laid there, wheezing, thinking about Adam and how he’s probably fucking David right now, writhing slightly on the bed in pain and anger, but then he just got exhausted, and bored, and turned off the lights and went to bed. Maybe he just doesn’t want to cry about Adam, and he’s fine with leaving it at that. 

He gets in a cab after he’s collected his luggage and gives directions, and then they’re off. It almost feels like a dream being here. It’s quiet and quaint, the snow falling silently in big fat flakes that Isak almost sticks his tongue out to catch.


______________________

 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Is your house decorated for Christmas?

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

No, Christmas was never really my thing, 
but feel free to do with it what you want. 
I think my garage has some lights and decorations stored somewhere? 
Ask Claire when you meet her.
Is yours decorated?

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Just a few lights outside and a wreath. Hope you don’t mind? 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

Of course not! A little spirit never hurts :) 


______________________

Of course it hurts. 

Christmas was just a reminder to Isak about how much everything sucks. Things with Adam were never good around the holidays, and maybe after all these years together, he’s been forced to look at this time of the year with a sour reflection, but it’s been there since before Adam, before Jonas and Eva. Back before when things were unknown and blissful. 

Christmas just plainly reminds him of when his dad left, and no amount of American traditions or wine could possibly make him forget. He knows it wasn’t his fault, he’s come to grow and accept that people make mistakes, highschool and Eskild taught him that much, but it still doesn’t make it hurt any less. It still doesn’t make him want to reconcile.  

Besides, he had his mother through it all, and the musical passions that helped him meet his friends, and gave him a career he could support both himself and his mother on. Maybe his dad leaving was more of a Christmas miracle, the catalyst that ignited the rock bottom, and then the climb out. He almost wants to thank his Dad, but that would just be weird. 

Christmas was the only time his mother would crack throughout the year, though she remained strong and positive for Isak for all the warm months, she got worse in the winter when it was colder and darker. Isak shivers and remembers yearning for the days when the sun wouldn't set until late.

“Excuse me? We’re here.” The driver states as if he’s been trying to get Isak’s attention for the past few minutes now. Isak presses the button to roll down the window and stares blankly at the area around them, blinking away his spiralled thoughts and a wave of confusion sets over him. They’re surrounded by trees and a snowy road is ahead. No civilization in sight, only the sound of the quiet woods around them, almost hauntingly so. 

“Wheres the house?” Isak asks, dumbfounded. 

“About a twenty-minute walk up the road. Sorry, this is as far as I can go.”

Isak huffs, “What?”

“What? I can’t turn around if I go further.” 

Isak huffs again and then hopes it’s not his first inclination that he shouldn’t have come here. This trip was unplanned, and as Isak looks out at his snowy surroundings, he feels his throat lock up. “That’s fine, I’ll walk.” He'll just have to compromise for the sake of compromising. 

He should’ve dressed warmer, is the first thing that comes to mind, as he shoves on his leather gloves and tightly wraps his scarf around his neck and ears. He’d forgotten a hat, of course. And his jacket is much too light for the kind of cold this is. He forgot how cold it gets here. That hurts, too. But thankfully, it's way too fucking cold to think about why that hurts, so he’s focusing on walking instead. 

He’s walking in his sneakers, and they’re positively soaked by the time he reaches a clearing, struggling to drag his luggage behind him. 

He passes a couple, noticing their bundled up hats and scarves and multiple layers, not to mention the heavy boots that help them trudge through the snow. He gives them the best smile he can muster and prays he looks somewhat approachable.  

“Halla, do you know where this address is?” He asks, and they look down at his phone where Sonja had sent him her address a few days earlier. 

“Oh, just about fifteen minutes that way.”

“Fifteen — faen.” He huffs, and they give him an awkward chuckle. “Thank you, have a good day.”

They nod and continue their walk, and Isak trudges through the snow like a Viking on a mission, imagining himself huddled by the fireplace in Sonja’s cute little cottage, watching movies and drinking cocoa. Possibly, if it happens, pet the cat. 

The house is as cute as the picture, and as he swings the small frigid gate open and it gives him a little ring as a welcome, he can’t help but practically run to the door and find the key Sonja had told him she’d left behind for him, cold, and placed beneath a potted plant. 

He swings the door open and the wreath hanging on it shakes, but he pays no mind to it, wanting to relish in the warmth of the cottage. 

He is more than disappointed to find that the house is cold, almost impossibly colder than it is outside. He shrugs off his things and his wet shoes, leaving his wet socks at the door, and changes into a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie right there in the foyer. 

It’s then that he notices the cat, Freya, perched on the steps. She’s overwhelmingly fluffy, and judgemental if her stare has anything to say. He gives her a wave and then feels ridiculous that he just did that. 

“Hey, I’m Isak.” He says, and she swings her tail around. “I’ll be your roommate this holiday. Didn’t Sonja tell you?” He asks, and then with no response, he shrugs and turns his heel. 

He begins getting himself situated, leaving his luggage open and the clothes sprawled around after his attempt to change into something warmer. The kitchen is small, with blue cupboards and an old gas stove that he doesn’t even want to attempt cooking with just yet. There is a microwave, and he knows he can easily survive on microwaved meals. He quickly checks the cupboard for which one holds the cat food and places it out on the counter to remind himself. 

He finds the coffee machine next and surprises himself with how easy it is to make coffee. He usually begs Claire to make it, because Jonas insists on making it the slow-drip way and nobody has time for that luxury. 

While it brews, he goes to the living room and stops to admire the wall-to-wall bookshelf that surrounds the television, filled with colourful novels and movies, littered with photos and small sculptures. It could almost reign in as champion next to his own movie collection, which he didn't tell Sonja about. As promised, there are sticky notes on some of them, and Isak pulls one out just to check what they’ve got written on them:

Fantastic Mr. Fox - dir. Wes Anderson
I highly recommend watching each Wes Anderson film I have on this shelf, but this one is my fave :)

He lets out a hum as he puts it back on the shelf, and he can feel himself smiling at it. This might be one of Jonas’ best ideas yet. Freya is following him, it seems, and Isak doesn’t mind. He figures it means he’s not totally alone out here. 

He goes to the fireplace, throwing in a few logs, and after a twenty-minute fight with the lighter, he gets something akin to a fire starting, and leaves it be, hoping it’ll continue to flame on its own volition. All the while, Freya watches him, following him from room to room, seemingly trying to figure out who he is. If only he knew the answer to that question himself. 

He chooses one of the movies at random and puts it in the player, lounging on the couch and making himself at home, his coffee beside him. He reads the note attached to it: 

Dirty Dancing - dir. Emile Ardolino
The same director of Sister Act (and if you haven’t seen it, go find it on this shelf afterwards!)

______________________


To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

Hey Sonja, your house is gorgeous, its like a dream. Thank you again. I honestly don’t know how to even extend my gratitude for this much, much needed trip.

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

You didn't tell me you lived in a mansion, Isak!!

Although I should’ve guessed, famous music composer living in L.A., with cleaning services, a gym, a freaking pool!
You’ve given me a dream house too, Isak. :) 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

Haha, make yourself comfortable. 
What's mine is yours. 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Same goes to you, and I hope Freya warms up to you!

______________________

 

Freya has warmed up to him, apparently, deciding that he’s alright and coming to sit next to him on the couch, her head resting in his lap. It’s an odd affection, and he welcomes it, welcomes the thought of trying new things. Maybe he should get a cat, too. Maybe that’s how he’ll fill this void. 

He fantasizes about Patrick Swayze for half the night, watching Dirty Dancing, and by the time the credits roll he feels himself getting anxious. 

By midnight, Isak is going stir-crazy. 

He’s set up all his things in the drawers Sonja left empty for him, he’s showered in her small, dark shower, ignoring the deep tub that he figured he could indulge in later if he wanted to. 

But now, standing in the living room, the fire dying out, and Freya napping beside it, he can’t help but feel impossibly more alone. 

Maybe he shouldn’t have done this. Maybe Jonas was wrong. Maybe Isak shouldn’t have run away the second things got complicated. Maybe Adam was right about him. Maybe Isak had to start owning up to things. You do this.

His phone lights up, and he grabs for it eagerly. But then his stomach turns, and he rolls his eyes. 


______________________

DONT TEXT

You went to Norway, Isak? 
For the holidays???
Running away again, huh?
You didn’t even tell me

I don’t have to tell you anything, Adam. 
I’m a grown man. 
And I’m single. 
I can do what I want

I would’ve appreciated a call

You don’t get to appreciate anything
You don’t get to want anything from me anymore
You’re free of me, Adam, so leave me alone

I don’t think I’ll ever be free of you, Isak
Where are you staying?

I’m going to bed now
Stop texting me

______________________

The bed is smaller than his own California king, and he misses being able to spread across the mattress like a starfish, but this twin will have to do. 

He bundles up in the duvet, and after Freya has claimed a small part of the end of the bed for herself, he finds himself getting restless again. The soft and warm bed nearly suffocates him to the point where he throws off all the soft blankets and sits up angrily. 

He gets up, pacing around the room, and then goes downstairs. 

He finds what he’s looking for easily, a bottle of wine under the sink, and pulls out a glass for himself as he pours a generous amount into it, gulping it back before he even places the bottle back down. 

He finds himself in the living room, sifting through Sonja’s records and then picks one out, putting it on full blast and trying his best to drown out this dreadful, impending doom of a feeling. 

Hot Fuss - The Killers

Don't be afraid to let loose, Isak! And this is the perfect album for it!

He tries to let loose, jumping around the room in reckless abandon, something he’d actually never be caught dead doing, but he feels knee-deep in solitude right now, the wine flowing through his system as he dances around and screams out the lyrics. 

It feels good. For once it feels like his chest is lighter and not constricting. 

But then suddenly, the door is jingling, and Isak cuts the music as fast as he can and waits. 

“It’s me. Open up. It’s freezing.” A man's voice cuts through, and it's deep and unexpected. Isak freezes. 

“Who are you?” He asks, aware of how terrified his voice sounds. 

“Sonja, it’s me, please open up. I have to pee so bad, and if you don’t open this door I’m going to just go in your plants.” 

Isak strides over and opens the door quickly, ready to cuss out whoever is on the other side of that door for showing up at this hour, but his breath escapes him completely. 

Before him stands a tall man, who’s got his hands up by his collar, shivering to shield himself from the snowfall as if he’d walked here. And maybe he did, because his blonde hair is all swooped up but sparkling, covered in snow, his blue eyes bright and his cheeks tinged pink. 

His expression goes of one from shock, to fascination, and the air hangs, both of them seemingly at a loss for words. 

And Isak closes the door quickly in his face. 

He looks at himself in the mirror and judging by his own flushed cheeks, the wine has most certainly gotten to him. 

This is an illusion, for sure. 

There is no way a man that beautiful has just ended up on Isak’s doorstep. He’s fucking angelic, is what he is, and Isak just closed the door on his face. He fixes his hoodie, and his hair then opens the door again. 

The gorgeous stranger is still standing there, a look of awe on his face as he looks at Isak, and Isak is mesmerized watching his breath come out in small puffs in the cold air. He meets Isak’s eyes quickly, and Isak gives him a glare, because what the fuck. Who are you. How dare you.

“You’re not Sonja.” He says, and Isak feels a shiver go down his spine.

“Obviously I’m not,” Isak responds back, and despite trying his best to not sound snarky, it comes out that way anyways. The man doesn’t seem to mind, his smile widening seemingly means he’s enjoying the banter. 

“I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t know… I wasn’t expecting you.” He responds after a moment, clearly still stunned by Isak’s presence, and Isak huffs. 

“I wasn’t expecting you either.”

The man lifts his brow, a challenging smirk on his face as he bounces on his heels, a brief look of concentration passing over his features, of discomfort. 

“May I uh…use the bathroom?” He pleads, and Isak quickly moves away to let this stranger pass through the door.

He’s quick, and toes off his shoes in a neat corner before heading to the small washroom off to the side. For someone with such long limbs and seemingly drunk, he’s oddly graceful.  

Isak looks back at himself in the mirror again, and quickly pulls off his hoodie, unsure why he feels like he looks too messy for this kind of company. He straightens out his tee and fixes his hair again just as the man steps out.

“I’m Even, Sonja’s friend.” He says after a minute of them just staring at one another again. You see, he’d stepped out of the bathroom, and practically caught Isak fixing his hair in the mirror, so then they just kept looking at one another as an awkward silence filled between them.  

“Isak Valtersen.” 

“Is that one word? Isakvaltersen?” Even asks, looking serious for a moment, but then he chuckles, and Isak lets out a shaky laugh in response. Even puts his hands in his coat pockets, tilts his head to the side, his gaze unwavering. 

“No,” Isak responds shyly, unable to look up and meet Even’s eyes. His heart is pounding in his ears, his cheeks so red and he very much regrets drinking a bottle of wine in less than thirty minutes. He hates that he’s resorted to this puddle of nerves right in front of a stranger, one whom he can’t remain composed in front of right now no matter how hard he tries. 

“So…Sonja is… where, exactly?”

“She didn't tell you?” Isak meets his eyes and Even shakes his head curiously, waiting for Isak to continue. “We uh…swapped houses. On a home exchange website. She’s at mine, I’m at hers.”

“And you’re from…?”

“L.A.” He nods and Even gasps.

“That’s not possible. Sonja never leaves town.” 

Isak laughs, “Well, neither do I, but here we are.” He sing-songs awkwardly, and raises his arms as if he’s presenting himself to Even. He doesn’t miss the way Even’s eyes move up and down, calculated, raw. He doesn’t remember the last time someone looked at him like that. Something shifts inside of his belly, and he feels the heat beginning to stir.

“She did call me this morning…I missed it, now I feel bad.” He shrugs and then leans against the wall casually, as if he wasn’t just eye-fucking Isak a second ago. “Do you mind if we sit? I feel a bit dizzy.” He laughs, and Isak nods quickly and follows as Even enters the living room, falling unceremoniously onto the couch and curling up, hands reaching for the floor, putting his head between his knees. 

“Are you okay?” Isak asks, feeling lightheaded himself. He’s overwhelmed with the urge to just jump into this mans arms, straddle him, hold him. He swallows, and it's audible in the silence between them. Even sits straight back up with a heavy sigh. 

“Yes, I’m sorry about the intrusion. I obviously didn’t know Sonja wouldn’t be here or else — well, I wouldn’t have come. And though I may not appear it, I’m a much better friend than this. On the rare, or not so rare, occasion that I get drunk at a bar, Sonja always lets me sleep over. Pathetic, I know, but….anyways, how are you liking it here so far?” He rambles, barely slurring his words, and then looks to Isak with a blinding smile.

There's too much he wants to ask, too much to unwrap in a single sentence to this man he just met, who's sitting on his couch and looking so deliriously delicious and inviting that Isak just wants to throw a blanket over his face to stop his thoughts from spiralling further. To stop the heat in his groin from becoming unbearable. 

“Actually…not so great. I think I’m gonna head home tomorrow.” He responds, a little too much honesty sinking through his words. Sue him, he’s a mess right now. 

“When did you get here?” Even asks.

“This morning.” He shuffles, chuckling nervously, and Even gives him a critical stare. 

“Ah, so we’ve made a great impression on you, apparently.” 

“It’s not that…It’s honestly lovely here I just…I came here on a whim, and I’m not doing so great so…It’s unlike me to plan things, and now that I'm here and I realize how much free time I have, it’s driving me crazy…Would you like something to drink? Water? Tea? Wine?”

“Would you have a glass?” He asks, clearly accepting the latter. Isak nods and heads to the kitchen to retrieve yet another bottle stuffed in the cupboard, and a wine glass for Even. 

“Thanks.” Even says as he sits up on the couch, and Isak sits next to him, pulling his feet under him and sitting cross-legged with the glass in his hands. “I’m sorry but…I forgot your name.” 

“Isak.” He says quietly, blushing furiously, a little angry at that sentiment, so when it comes out snarky he means it this time. But Even just laughs and any anger he felt dissipates, turning into something else he can’t put a finger on just yet. It just makes his stomach stir more. 

“Isak Valtersen. Yes. That's a good name. One I'll remember. Very strong. You seem strong.” 

Isak gulps on the wine to avoid choking on his tongue. 

“Really?” Isak asks, realizing he’s finished his full glass in what he wanted to just be a simple sip. Even chuckles, seemingly not taking notice to Isak's inner turmoils. 

“Yeah, I mean. For someone who plans everything, but then drops everything to come here? You have to be strong for that.”

“Why?”

“Because...It’s kinda boring. And quiet. Everyone knows each other, honestly, it gets a bit frustrating.” He huffs and then looks to Isak for an answer. 

“I don’t feel strong… But whatever. Like it matters.” Isak shrugs.

“Are you married?”

“Me? No…No, I’m not. No.” He says quickly, and tries to shrug off the fact that his answer was way too overt: a simple no, you? would have sufficed.

“That makes two of us.” Even nods curtly, and then sips his wine. It leaves a red tint on his lips, and as he smiles, Isak is mesmerized to the way his cheeks pull up, the way his lips stretch, the way his teeth look and he can imagine them biting down— 

“Is it alright if I stay over? I will be gone before you wake up, and you’ll never lay eyes on me again.”

Is it weird that I want you to be here in the morning?

“No, it's fine. Let me get you a blanket.”

“It’s in the cupboard there.” He points, and Isak scrambles over to grab it before walking back over and handing it to Even, who looks up at him graciously, like he’s soaking up Isak too, and for a moment, they just stare again at one another. “So…why is it that you came here? Forgive me, I’m curious.” He says then, adding a dazzling grin and Isak can’t resist, sitting down next to him again.

“I…just broke up with someone. It ended really badly and I didn't want to be alone over the holidays, so I thought if I could be somewhere else, I wouldn’t realize I was alone and then I got here and—“ He sighs, the look on Even’s face encourages him to keep going. “Big surprise, I'm even lonelier. Not that Freya hasn’t kept me company all day, but…” He chuckles and Even tries to give him a laugh as well. “Bet you’re sorry you knocked on Sonja’s door tonight,” Isak mumbles, about to lean over and grab his cup but Even begins speaking again.

“Actually, quite the opposite.” Even says, and his tone is so sincere, his eyes so wide as he unapologetically stares at Isak. For a long moment, as the air hangs and they let themselves stare unabashedly as if Even is also seeing Isak in some holy lighting right now, Isak truly believes him. Isak can’t do anything but believe him. “I’m really happy I’m here.” 

Isak does the most irrational thing, next. He leans forward and swoops in, pressing his lips to Even’s. A chaste kiss, and it sends his brain into overdrive.  

“Sorry.” He says after a moment, beginning to move away but Even reaches for him, a gentle hand at the back of his neck that grips just so, and Isak melts as Even meets his lips again, his mouth covering Isak’s and it’s so delicious it makes his head swim. 

Then he moves away, almost as fast he begun, and Isak sits, stunned into silence. 

“Could you try that again?” Isak asks politely, thankful his voice doesn’t come out as a squeak. 

Even doesn't even respond, he just grabs for Isak's cheeks and holds him so delicately as he kisses him, tongue moving to swipe at Isak’s lower lip and his mouth falls open in a moan. Even’s tongue is instantly in his mouth, and its the sweetest thing he’s ever tasted, the warmth and the wetness, hints of wine and cigarettes, and he moans again, feeling like a teenager. 

“Bad?” Even asks, pulling away, and his eyes are giving him away, dark and lustful, his lips looking sinful and obscene with how plump and wet they are.

“It should be, right? I mean, you’re a stranger. It should be weird.” 

“But it isn’t?”

“Not at all.” Isak responds, and Even kisses him again, this time a little more desperate, a little dirtier, his tongue licking the inside of Isak’s mouth like he’s afraid he’ll disappear. He lets out an involuntary whine, and Even moves away, but just close enough so that their noses brush against one another. Isak doesn’t open his eyes for a moment, savouring the closeness, and when he does, Even is looking back at him. He licks his lips, steadies his uneven breathing. 

“Given that I’m in a personal crisis, and I find myself in a stranger's home, and considering you showed up and you’re insanely good looking…I'm thinking, we should fuck.” Isak says, and Even barks out a surprised laugh, and Isak can’t help but flush because of it. It’s a beautiful sound, and he wants to fill his ears with it. It’s more beautiful than anything he could possibly compose in a lifetime. 

“That’s a great proposition.” Even huffs out a breath, already looking spent just from a kiss. Isak wonders if he looks the same, he certainly feels close to it. 

“Not that it matters, but I’ve never said anything like that in my life.” Isak chuckles, and the look on Even’s face says he thinks otherwise. “I'm serious, I had a whole bottle of wine to myself and this…this whole never seeing you again thing is exciting, don't you think?”

“This all sounded wonderful until I became the one night stand.” 

“And you’re funny. That’s a bonus.” 

“Yes, well, maybe it’s because I’m drunk, or maybe it’s because you’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, but if you think I’m funny, now you should never meet me when we’re sober.”

“Deal.” Isak says and Even kisses him, chaste and quick, before he sits back, his hands falling to his sides. Isak wants to climb into his space, suffocate him and ride him right here on the couch until the sun comes up. 

But he doesn’t, he sits, silence overflowing between them painfully.

“I should warn you…I’m not really…good at this?” Isak winces at his own words and Even looks at him quizzically, an amused smirk taking over. 

“This being?”

“Sex. I’ve been told I’m not good.”

“That’s harsh. And probably untrue.” He lets out a small, concerning laugh, but Isak just rolls his eyes. 

“Well, regardless, you never forget something like that, so.” Isak shrugs, suddenly feeling pathetic. He can’t go through with this, he knows he shouldn’t, but the wine and Even sitting right there looking so gorgeous is just doing things for him. He can already feel his body responding, his mind filled with need. 

“How do you feel about foreplay?” Even asks, and it’s the strangest thing, but Isak likes it, and he laughs while his face flushes. 

“Overrated.” Isak laughs and Even joins him. 

“You are quickly becoming the most interesting person I’ve ever met, Isak.” He says, and Isak stands, grabbing the bottle of wine before he can think it through, and holds his hand out for Even, who takes it with a growing smirk on his face. 

He leads Even upstairs, and after a moment, he’s got Freya out of the bed and he closes the door. Even stands there in the room, looking lost, and Isak can’t handle being this far from him anymore. He places the bottle down and lunges towards him.

Even catches him in his arms as they meet in a bruising kiss, all teeth and tongue and desperation as if they both need this right now -- as if they'll die if they don't do this right now. They fall back on the bed, and Isak climbs over him, straddling his waist and revelling in Even’s hands, travelling up under his shirt, tugging at it to get it off, and Isak moans, his hips moving in small circles and Even lets out a deep hum against him.

“You're better at this than you think.” Even whispers and Isak dives back in once he’s got his shirt off. Its a blur of teeth and tongue and Isak is so spent by the end that he falls asleep soon after. 

Things are better in the morning, Isak realizes, as he wakes up nude and well-slept. He thinks he might have had the best sex of his life last night, and the hickeys on his neck prove it. He lets himself just smile about it for a moment because as if his memory serves, he literally travelled to the stars last night. He doesn’t think he’s ever experienced something like that, and for once, this vacation seems to be turning in his favour. Still, it doesn't make him any more inclined to stay here and figures he’ll book a flight home today.  

He does debate if he should stay in the warmth of the blankets for a little longer, but his stomach suggests otherwise. He’s so spent, he needs sustenance. He needs coffee. He needs something to distract him from messaging Sonja and asking him why she didn't warn about the possibility of an angel appearing on his doorstep, drunk and willing, only to find Isak, also drunk and willing. Recipe for disaster, really. 

But also, he feels that a few of the knots in his stomach have unravelled, and he lets it stay that way. He doesn’t dig into why they’ve unravelled, he just lets them. 

He groans as he puts on a pair of boxers and sweats, a sweater and a hoodie, before wrapping the duvet around him as well. This house is cold as fuck, his toes and fingers feel numb from it. Now he regrets sleeping naked. 

He walks downstairs, sees Freya’s bowl filled with food, and then stops. He didn't fill it. 

He walks into the kitchen and freezes at the sight before him. 

Even is still here, dressed in the clothing he came in, making coffee and eggs. 

“Hey, you’re awake. Good morning.” He says with a laugh, and he looks just as fucked out as Isak probably does right now. His hair is flopping over his forehead, his eyes are still sparkling, and he looks just as dreamy as Isak’s drunk brain remembers. Fuck. 

“I am.” He states and Even looks him up and down, clearly amused.

“You cold?” He asks, stating the obvious. “Very cute, coming down with the duvet. I started a fire, I hope you don’t mind.” 

“I thought you said you wouldn’t be here in the morning,” Isak says and immediately regrets it. He doesn't mean to sound so cold, but the look on Even’s face almost breaks his composure. 

“I know, I’m sorry. I'm starving, what about you?” 

“Yeah, I could go for some… eggs.” He nods awkwardly, shifting uncomfortably, but Even just looks away, looking totally nonchalant. He reaches over and turns up the stereo, and Isak rolls his eyes, accepting his fate. 

He makes his coffee silently, trying his best not to bump into Even who seems to be all long limbs and constantly in the way. It’s infuriating. Isak is angry, but mostly at himself. Why did he let himself just pass out afterwards? He should’ve made Even go back to the couch, say goodbye right then. He sits at the table as Even places down two plates, toast and eggs. 

“Uh…listen. You don’t have to like..stay here or anything. I know I sounded like a miserable fuck last night, but I'm fine, honestly.” Isak says, and Even glances towards him, seemingly amused if his small smile has anything to say. Isak presses on, watching as Even eats, offering no opinion as of yet. His expression is unreadable, its inscrutable. He looks like he’s just enjoying this, like he can’t feel the awkwardness of it all. “I mean, it was great meeting you and everything, but you don’t have to stay.”

“Is it so bad of me that I wanted to stay?” He asks, and Isak refuses to accept the flutter in his heart, the growing butterflies in his stomach, and he shakes his head for good manners. “For the record, whoever told you you aren’t good in bed are mistaken.” He says with an air of certainty, and Isak tries to cover his face in the duvet, groaning as his face goes red. 

“You were drunk.” Isak says, voice muffled in the blanket. 

“Not that drunk.” He laughs, and then his phone rings, and Isak doesn’t mean to look, but it’s sitting facing open on the table and the name ‘Sophie’ lights up. 

“Sophie.” He says as Even scrambles for it, a grim look overtaking his features. “Sorry, I don’t mean to… pry or anything.” He shrugs and finally begins eating. Fuck, as if Even wasn’t already perfect, his cooking is delicious. Maybe it's the post-incredible-sex high, or just the amount of sleep he got, but he doesn’t think eggs ever tasted better. This is ridiculous. 

“I’ll call her back.” He shrugs, and then that's the end of that discussion.

Even is quiet now, uncharacteristically so, even avoiding his eyes, and it makes Isak more nervous than when Even had his full attention on him. Something akin to regret settles, and Isak chews on the inside of his cheek throughout the breakfast, barely able to stomach it. 

This is exactly what I wanted to avoid. This is why I didn't want you to stay. 

They eat silently, and once they’re done, Isak tells him he’ll clean it later.

“Yeah…I should go.” Even says quietly, almost as if he’s waiting for Isak to say something else, maybe give him a reason not to, but Isak just shrugs.

“Sure.” He nods and stands by the stairs as he watches Even put his coat and boots on. Even looks sad, and Isak is desperate to ask why but he’s afraid of the answer. He lets him get bundled, and Isak sighs at the sight because he’ll never see something cuter than this. Even looks like a puppy that’s been kicked, and Isak feels like he's the one that did it. Fuck.

“Listen…um…I know you don't want to get involved, and you’re going to leave today anyway, but I just…I have issues of my own, and even if you were staying, you wouldn’t like it—“

“Even, please. You don’t have to do this.” Don’t make it harder than it already is. Isak sighs. “I’m damaged in this area myself, so… and honestly, we hardly know each other—“

“I wouldn’t say that.” He remarks with a charming smile, and winks and Isak would do anything to keep it comfortable and flirty between them. But there's a Sophie involved that Isak can’t stop thinking about now. And his heart hurts more than it should. Everything hurts. It's hard to remain composed, so he needs Even to leave now. “Anyways, I just wanted to assure you that you’re better off…I tend to... to hurt people, just by being myself.”

I doubt it. “Well, I’m not going to fall in love with you. I promise.” Isak lets out a laugh, which Even follows. His sounds dejected and stilted, but Isak doesn’t dwell on it. He can't dwell on it right now, there are so many other things he needs to think about, get back home to. Even needs to go

“Alright, thanks I guess.” Even says, giving a half-hearted shrug, as if Isak’s words affected him. 

“No, I mean — I know myself. I don’t think I ever actually — this is going to sound crazy, because I mean, I was pretty much engaged at one point and now… anyway, I’m not sure if I’m capable of it.” He stops talking, because he's too sober to reveal this information, but standing in front of Even now, he feels pulled to, almost a need to keep going. “Capable of falling in love, I mean. Not like how other people experience it.”

“Like I said, the most interesting person I’ve ever met.” Even laughs freely now, and Isak finds himself laughing along, almost in a way that doesn't feel self-deprecating. It feels freeing, being able to admit his issues with Even, who seems all the more adamant about staying even after Isak just dumped some garbage about his life on him, but Isak gestures to the door. 

“Well,” Isak says, and Even reaches for the handle, but then stops.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this honest with someone, but I tend not to... uh… follow through with people after a date.. or, nights like this. Not that they happen often, anyway.” Even says, looking at Isak with an intensity he’s not sure if he enjoys. 

“That’s fine. You’re off the hook.” Isak is about to step forward and literally push him out the door, but Even’s next words, the way he doesn't miss a beat, makes Isak freeze. 

“But what if I wanted to call you?” He asks, and his tone is so vulnerable, his question so filled with wonder and need that Isak preens. Composed, of course, because Isak is good at staying stone-cold in the face of danger. And that's exactly what Even is: dangerous. He’s making Isak feel things he’s never felt before, not even with Adam, as hard as that is to admit. He's not sure if he wants to travel further, and its the uncertainty that makes him feel all the warier. 

“Right… well.” Even says, clearly taking Isak’s stunned silence as a no. “If your flight is cancelled, or you change your mind, I’ll be at the Lobby bar tonight with some friends.” He says, and nothing sounds better. “And if we never see each other again, then…well, you’re amazing, Isak Valtersen. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Isak steps towards him and in another irrational, totally-sober move, he wraps his arms around Even and hugs him tight. He breathes him in, soaking up these last moments. 

“So are you.” He whispers and Even melts, holding him back just as tight before he makes his way out, giving Isak one last look before he’s walking off. Closing this door is the hardest thing Isak’s ever done in his life. He rests his forehead against it for a moment, as his heart beats so hard in his chest he thinks he might just keel over. 

He cleans the dishes and goes upstairs to pack. 

The announcer voice from the plane suddenly comes back, and Isak groans, Freya meows, and he wants to scream. 

“Isak Valtersen didn’t go looking for love,” The voice states, and images of Even flash through his mind.

“Shut up!” Isak shouts at nothing.

“But that doesn’t mean love didn't find him.” 

He packs faster, his breath feeling caught in his throat. 

______________________

 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

You failed to mention that I might get a surprise visitor. 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Oh god, did Even show up??? I’m so sorry! I tried calling him and texting him, but he’s shit at answering. I hope he didn't make you uncomfortable. He’s one of my oldest friends, I’m going to call him right now(!!) and make sure he knows not to bother you. 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

Haha, it's fine, really. 
Even’s nice. Just…unexpected. 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Even is the best person I know (aside from Claire!). Also, did you know your neighbour Arthur is like, one of the most influential directors ever?? 

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

I would say yes, but that would be a lie. Now I sound like a bad neighbour. 

You met Claire, huh? 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

I feel like a bad friend! I'm sorry, I totally forgot about Even. He won’t answer my calls, but I promise he won’t come around anymore.

Yeah, she showed me your studio! So cool!

______________________

Isak almost types out no, I don’t mind him being around, but stops himself. 

______________________

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

It’s fine, honestly. 
Besides, he got a call from Sophie and ran outta here pretty quick. 

Thanks, I miss it </3

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Did he tell you about Sophie?

To: sonja.97@gmail.com
from: isakyaki@gmail.com

He didn’t have to. 

From: sonja.97@gmail.com
To: isakyaki@gmail.com

Yeah, it’s all pretty complicated, Sophie is Even’s world. 

Anyways, I have to go, but I’ll email later. I’ve got a date with Arthur! 

______________________

Well, that's just the icing on the fucking cake. This trip is more of a disaster than Isak thought it would be. It’s only created more problems on top of his existing ones, and he refuses to let himself think about it until he gets home. 

He hasn’t even booked a flight, he realizes, and it's that thought that stops him in his tracks, just as he’s about to bear the cold and go walk to find a cab to take him to the airport. 

Maybe one more night wouldn’t hurt him. 

Maybe he needs to stop running away for once. 

He goes to the Lobby bar after finding directions on his phone, surprised to find it’s actually not that far of a walk from Sonja’s. He wonders if that’s why Even walks to sleep off the alcohol at her place. He wonders how close they are. 

He stumbles in from the cold, covered with snow and regret. At least he can get drunk properly now, not just on wine and deal with a dull headache for the next day. 

It’s smokey and noisy, over-crowded for such a small town bar, but he welcomes it. It feels homey and comfortable, nothing like the bars and clubs in L.A., where everyone is drunk or on drugs or a mix of both, looking for a quick one night stand to stave off the sadness. Everything there is all hard leather and neon lights, and here, it's warm. Everyone looks friendly, like they're all just drinking to enjoy it. He could enjoy it, too.

He shuffles off his coat, shuffles off the cold. Immediately, almost like the stars were aligning, but really it's just the crowded bar making a space in the room, Even’s eyes find Isak’s. 

He smiles, blinding Isak and he’s hit with warmth and feelings. He forgets about everything for a moment as he feels it, forgets about the heartbreak that led him here, the frustration of his first day, the high he felt in Even’s presence. He forgets about Sophie. 

Isak smiles back.