He fucking missed it.
It's the third of september, but Even didn't even notice the second going by. Too caught up in change, in his new life at uni, in being overwhelmingly busy again, in a way that he already knows will go wrong somehow.
He's only talked to one person there so far, and even that was just someone feeling sorry for him because he was alone on a bench on campus, looking lost as fuck. Which, yeah, he was, but he didn't want anyone else to know that.
He's at the cemetery now, and the numbers don't fucking match because he's a terrible fucking person who can't remember someone he swore he'd never forget.
And it's not just her, it's the promise he made, too. At a time. when everything is becoming different, his life is turbulent with new routines, his head is swirling with change - he needs to keep that promise.
But maybe he won't. He already fucking hasn't, he doesn't even deserve -
He's not alone in the cemetery.
He very rarely is, really, but this time, his eye is caught, his focus swayed, his guilt distracted. He's never seen this person before - because he's here on the wrong fucking day - but he's - yeah. He is. Something.
He's grieving, Even can see that much. His expression gives nothing away, but the hunch of his shoulders, the tense of his fingers tearing up the grass in front of him - says everything. Every so often he glances up at the stone in front of him and the grass falls from his hand, there's a flash of anger on his face at what - who he's lost.
The process repeats. He tears the grass from the ground, rips it apart, glances up, and it falls. His hand curls into a fist.
Even watches - admires, really, but at a safe distance.
The first time Even hears about Isak, he almost thinks Jonas is talking about an ex.
It’s the situation that fools him, more than thinking that Jonas would actually have an ex boyfriend (not that it’s impossible, though. Just. Hm.) But Jonas is lying, almost blackout drunk, starfished on his bed, and lamenting that -
“I should text him, right?” he asks the room, and Even has no idea who he’s talking about, so he looks to Mahdi for help.
“You really shouldn’t,” Mahdi says. “I think he made that pretty clear last time.”
“Yeah, but - but -” he slurs his words, screwing his eyes shut as if deep in drunken thought. “He wasn’t - wasn’t thinking clear back then.”
“Neither are you right now,” Even pipes up.
“Yeah, exactly,” Mahdi agrees. “This ain’t it, Jonas.”
“What if he needs me?” Jonas asks the ceiling, this time. “What if I’m being the world’s worst friend?”
Even watches Mahdi roll his eyes.
“Who exactly are we talking about? This sounded like a drunk texting your ex situation but you just said he’s a friend?”
Jonas rolls over, face down in the pillows. Mahdi smartly takes the phone out of his hand, and then turns to Even.
“This guy, Isak, that we used to hang out with. Him and Jonas basically, like, grew up together, but -”
“But now he hates me,” Jonas mumbles without picking his head up. It’s a miracle that Even could work out what he said at all.
Mahdi rolls his eyes again. “His mum died, beginning of this year, and he went stone cold silent on us all. Which is - yeah, fair play, but - I don’t know. We all fucked up a bit, I guess, didn’t do enough, but when we tried to reach out and stuff and he got so fucking mad about it, told us to stop trying to contact him, said he didn’t want anything to do with us anymore. He deactivated his facebook and stuff, and we just - I don’t know. Didn’t really know where to go from there. We thought he’d message when he was ready, but he still hasn’t.”
Even doesn’t know what to say to it all. Just flicks his eyebrows up and murmurs “Shit.”
“Yeah. But - I guess it feels like it’s too late now. He’s moved on.”
“Why can’t you text?” Even asks. “Maybe it’s what he needs right now.”
“He’ll probably just ignore it.”
“Doesn’t hurt to try, though?”
Mahdi sighs, and unlocks Jonas’s phone, scrolling down through messages to reach the conversation marked Issy K , turning the phone to Even to show him the sea of blue messages as he scrolls up, the only grey a single message at the bottom.
Issy K (12:21 02/04/2017) Stop texting me.
Even definitely shouldn’t have the urge to help someone he’s never met, but it rises up inside him nonetheless.
Still, it’s short lived. By the time Isak next comes up in conversation, he’s faded to a sad memory at the back of his mind, one of those thoughts that only comes out in the dark, in those everyone’s alone anyway times of the night.
He’s not forgotten him, though. Not forgotten the numbers next to his name - the numbers that are a sign when he needs one badly enough. But he’s okay at the moment, and he doesn’t, yet. And by the time he does, he’ll probably find the numbers elsewhere.
He’s with Jonas in the library, when someone approaches. Kind of short, dark hair, one pierced ear. Even… might have seen him around campus, but he also might not have done. It’s a busy place.
“Hey, Jonas,” the guy says. “How are you?” He slides into the seat opposite them.
Jonas glances up and half smiles. “Hey, Zeph, I’m good, you?”
Even half tunes out the conversation, save for the vague introduction Jonas gives him - he’s meant to be studying, after all. But, a few minutes into the conversation -
“Have you heard from Isak, recently?” Zeph asks. “I haven’t seen him around since - is he alright?”
Even’s pen stills against the paper. Isak, again. The guy that no one can seem to find - or forget.
Jonas casts his eyes down at the table, and sighs. “I have no idea, to be honest. He hasn’t spoken to me.”
“No. Why, has he spoken to you?”
Zeph shakes his head. “No, but - not exactly surprising. No one ever actually means it when they say we’ll still be friends , but, y’know. I just wondered where he’d gone. I thought we’d at least see each other around.”
“No, he left uni. He’s sort of just vanished.”
"Because of his mum?"
Jonas shrugs. "I have to assume so."
"Fuck. I hope he's okay."
Jonas raises an eyebrow. "You still -?"
"No, but I care about him."
"Oh," says Jonas, unconvinced.
"Seriously," Zeph says. "I'd text him if I still had his number."
Jonas sighs. "I think he must have changed it anyway."
"Oh. Well, let me know if you ever hear from him."
When Zeph has gone, Even turns to Jonas.
"You still haven't heard from him?" he asks.
Jonas shrugs, then narrows his eyes. “Wait - you know him?”
“You brought him up when you were drunk.”
“Oh, yeah. Mahdi said you thought he was my ex.”
“Well, yeah. Drunk texting is generally reserved for exes.”
Jonas snorts. “True. Maybe I was in love with him. I wasn’t,” he says quickly at Even’s raised eyebrow. "He was in love with me, though," he says it proudly, half a joke but almost as if he's showing off about it. "Back in high school."
"God, what was he thinking?"
Jonas shoves him. "I'm so fucking desirable."
"Literally everyone is in love with me."
"If that helps you sleep at night," Even shrugs, and turns back to his notes.
Jonas mutters " dick," and turns back to his own.
Even finds himself wondering about Isak instead of studying. Wondering what he looks like, how he acts - if he's really as quick to anger as Mahdi made him seem, or if that was just grief.
Even's never really been good at anger. It's - too strong an emotion for him to be sure he's feeling it right, because - anything that strong is - it's just a symptom. He's just, maybe, missed his meds too much, or maybe he's getting bad again, or maybe he should just calm down and it'll go away eventually.
He just doesn't let himself feel it, anymore. It's not like he needs it anyway, there isn't much to be angry about - there was, but she's gone. Or before that, there was another, but he was angry about that because she'd gone, and no one told him why.
But he's fine now. Anger doesn't suit him; it certainly doesn't make people trust him. Not when they're waiting for him to snap anyway.
Magnus talks about Isak as if they still hang out with him.
It's weird to think that Even's never met him, because the picture Magnus paints is that he's there with them, just couldn't make it tonight for one reason or another.
And actually, it seems to be what Jonas needs, too. Because he always seems a little lost, before he turns his attention to everyone else. Like he's waiting for someone else to arrive, for Isak to appear and say, hey, I was here the whole time.
Magnus is pretty good at this sort of thing, actually. Just barrelling on about a sore subject that noone realised they really needed to talk about.
It's kind of like Isak's died, to be honest.
Even lets the conversation happen in front of him, smiling at all the little memories and details that come out over the joint they smoke, the god he got so fucking touchy when he was high, why didn't we realise sooner that-- Mags, shut the fuck up - and but remember when be had no idea that Zeph was flirting with him though, or that time when he lost like, a thousand kroner of weed.
They're all in fits of laughter by the end of it, letting it all out and breathing out the release, tailing off into huffs of quiet mourning.
"Isak Valtersen, man," Mahdi says.
Jonas casts his eyes down, laughing quietly. "Isak fucking Valtersen."
Valtersen. Even was wondering why the name sounded familiar - it's not like it's a common name that he'd have just heard around.
But here he is, back in the cemetery - the right day, but the wrong row that he's walking down, just killing time because he doesn't really want to go and have dinner with his parents tonight, or at least he wants to delay it as long as possible.
And there it is. Valtersen . Marianne Valtersen, 18th May 1972 - 3rd February 2017.
Beloved wife and mother.
Like that's all she was. Even's annoyed even though he doesn't know her.
The dates match, though - and the names match and the guy who looked around his age, if a little younger matches, too. Even opens Instagram, finds @jonas9000, and scrolls down.
Yeah. It's him.
Fuck, and Even didn't misremember it, or build it up in his own mind because he was distracted. Isak is fucking beautiful. And so - god, so fucking alive in these old photos. So much more than the blank, dark stare at the grass he had torn up in front of him.
But Even can't find a sign in the numbers on this grave. It probably means he's better off staying away.