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Right next door

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Isak smiled as he looked at Jonas and Eva, bickering just like when they were sixteen years old. They were sitting in one of those hipster cafés in Grünerløkka, having an overpriced brunch after a long week of work. The situation screamed adulthood but for an instant, Isak felt like they were back to their high school days, his two best friends having a ridiculous argument punctuated by laughter and kisses. Nothing had really changed between the three of them and it filled Isak with a warm and peaceful feeling.

“I’m telling you, those avocados are an environmental and social disaster !” Jonas exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at Eva’s plate, “They cross the globe in planes burning tons of kerosene and back there in Chile, people have to face water restrictions because of how much is needed to grow them ! And for what ? Just so we rich europeans can post cute pictures of our breakfast on Instagram with a “heathly” hashtag…”

Eva rolled her eyes playfully as she waived the waiter down for a third mimosa. “I know babe, you made me watch that depressing documentary last week, no need to remind me…”

Isak muffled a laugh in his napkin as Eva gave him a knowing look. Jonas looked between the two them and let out a deep sigh. “Whatever, sorry for caring about the fate of poor chilean farmers…”

“Awww, you know I love you for that” said Eva as she gave Jonas a loud kiss on the cheek. He huffed a small laugh and shrugged, letting it go (for now).

“So Isak,” Eva said turning her attention to him, “how are things at the hospital ?”

“Oh you know, the emergency service is stretched to its limits, too many patients, not enough personnel, same old same old…” Isak sighed, grabbing his cup of coffee instinctively as he was reminded of the exhaustion another week at the ER left him in.

“That sucks…” Eva frowned, but she quickly changed the subject, sensing that Jonas was about to go on a rant about the necessity of protecting the precious status of their healthcare system “Oh and what about that cute nurse you were flirting with, how’s that going ? Did you two…?”

“Yeah… that didn’t work out. But he’s working in another service now so at least it’s not too awkward.”

Isak chuckled when he saw Eva’s pouting face “Sorry to disappoint you but you'll find no ER or Grey’s Anatomy or whatever bullshit drama here.”

“You two are really no fun, I know I should have invited the girls for brunch instead.” Eva grumbled, frowning as she took a bite of her avocado toast.

.

Isak took the tram home, where he was planning on crashing on his couch and spending the rest of his sunday doing absolutely nothing that would require even the smallest effort from him. He intended on having a good rest and trying to regain as much energy as he could before another week at the hospital.

When he got to his apartment block, he saw a van full of boxes parked in front of the entrance. Somebody was obviously moving in or out of the building. He went in and let out a deep sigh as he got to the elevator and saw the Out of order sign that was put up on the door.

“Ugh fuck…” he grunted as he began climbing the four flights of stairs to his apartment.

He arrived on his landing annoyed and a little bit out of breath, cursing himself to have never followed through his new year resolution of going back to the gym. But when would he possibly have time for that between work and…

He was stopped in his trail of thoughts when he realized that the door of the other apartment on his floor was wide open and that the flat seemed completely empty, apart from a few boxes. Now that he came to think of it, he realized he hadn't run into his neighbour in a while and found the apartment oddly quiet. The last tenant must have moved out and he didn't even notice.

Way to be a friendly neighbour Isak…

Isak was startled by the sound of a person walking up the stairs. He turned around and saw a man with a big cardboard box in his arms. Isak was still standing above him but he could see the man was really tall and slender, blond hair bouncing on his head as he climbed the last steps before the landing. The man looked up at Isak and their eyes locked. Isak felt like he received a punch in the gut, this guy had the the deepest, most vibrant blue eyes Isak had ever seen and he kept looking right into Isak's as he continued walking up to to him. When he arrived on the landing Isak had to look up because the guy was indeed really tall, even taller than him. He took in his fine features, his sharp jaw and long neck, his porcelain skin flushed by the effort, a few strands of his smooth hair stuck on his forehead beaded with sweat and his full red lips, half-open as the man was trying to get calm his breath.

He was handsome, to say the very least. Isak could not remember when he was ever left so struck by someone’s beauty, and he knew he had probably been staring at him for far too long but he couldn’t shake himself out of his contemplation, not until he heard the man clear his voice and say “Um, sorry I need to…”

Isak snapped back and realized he was still standing in front of the apartment's entrance. He shook his head and stepped aside. “Right, yeah sorry !”

He winced at his own awkwardness but the man gave him the most blinding smile before going in the apartment and putting the box down on the floor. Isak couldn’t help but watch as he squatted down, his jeans tightening around his thighs and perfect ass and he felt his breath hitch in his throat.  

The man looked behind his shoulder and smiled when he found Isak still standing at the door. He stood back up and walked to him, holding out his hand.

“Hi, I’m Even”

Isak took his hand and marvelled at the sensation of Even’s long fingers wrapped around his hand, squeezing it lightly, the warmth of his palm against his own.

“Hi um… I’m Isak.”

“Hi Isak” Even said not letting go of his hand, his eyes piercing right through his. “Nice to meet you. I guess you’re living next door ?” 

“Oh yeah, that’s my flat” Isak chuckled, waving back at his apartment door. “So if you need anything, you can just, well… I’m… right here.”

“Okay.” Even smiled, “thank you Isak, that’s very kind.”

“Of course.” Isak tried to tame the butterflies that were filling him up at the sound of Even deep velvet voice saying his name. “But uh… do you need help moving you stuff up here ? I mean with the elevator not working...”

“Really, you would do that? That’d be really great, thank you!”

Isak seemed to have completely forgotten about his previous plan of lying on his couch and napping for the rest of the day, his fatigue and weariness washed away by a sudden wave of energy.

.

A while later, they walked back up with the last two boxes, panting with the effort.

“Seriously, who keeps closing the front door when they see someone’s moving in ?” Even sighed, shaking his head in annoyance.

“I bet that’s Mrs Johansen on the first floor” Isak chuckled “She’s a real pain in the ass, always watching what people are up to, complaining to the co-owners association. Piece of advice, try to avoid her as much as you can...”

“Good thing you’re the one living across the landing then” Even said and winked at Isak, leaving him a little bit flustered as he got in the apartment.

They piled the last boxes with the others and stood there for a moment, hands on their hips, letting their breath come back to their normal rhythm, smiling every time they glanced at each other. 

“Thank you so much Isak.” Even finally said turning to him “This was no nice of you, really.”

“That’s alright…” Isak felt his cheeks blush under Even’s stare and kind words.

“No, I mean it. Damn I wish I could offer you a drink or something but um…” he trailed off, looking around the empty kitchen and the closed boxes all around them.

“Hold on a moment, I’ll be right back.” Isak said as he turned back to the doorway.

He stumbled against a box lying behind him and almost fell but he felt Even steady him, one hand grabbing his arm, the other resting on the small of his back.

“You alright ?” Even asked smiling a bit teasingly.

“Yeah I um… I’ll just… I’ll be back in minute”.

Even squeezed his arm lightly before letting him go. Isak headed back to his apartment feeling his heart pounding in his chest, the feeling of Even's hand on his back burning through his shirt.

He stepped into the bathroom where he splashed some water on his face and sniffed at his shirt. He looked at his reflection in the mirror, and tried to tame his curls a little, but he realized it would be completely hopeless.

Isak went to the kitchen and opened the fridge where he grabbed a couple of cold beers. He stood there for a moment, the cool air from the fridge helping him calm his nerves a bit. Okay, so, his new neighbor was the most beautiful man he had ever met, he seemed sweet and funny and fuck his lips were to die for… This was fine, this was totally fine. Isak was going to be completely chill about it.

He took a deep breath and walked back to his neighbor’s apartment. Even turned around when he heard him come back and Isak held the beers up.

“Here, to celebrate your moving in.”

Even's smile turned so bright, Isak felt his heart swell in his chest.

Chill Isak, you said you'd be totally chill for fuck's sake...

He handed Even one of the beers, trying to brush away the lingering feeling of Even’s fingers accidentally brushing his own.

“And here’s to you officially the best neighbor ever” Even said as their clinked their bottles together to toast, Isak chuckling and feeling his face blushing a little.

They sat on the floor, leaning against piles of boxes as they opened their beers. They laughed when they both let out a content sigh after the firt sip.

“So, what do you do Isak ?” Even asked

“I’m a doctor, I work in an emergency service.” he answered smiling internally at the way Even kept punctuating his phrases with his name.

“Oh wow… that's, impressive.”

“Yeah well…” Isak trailed off, a bit affected by the intensity of the way Even looked at him, a glint of admiration in his eyes. “What about you ?”

“I’m a graphic and web designer..." Even shrugged, "I work freelance and mostly from home. Which means you’re gonna see a lot of me around here!” he chuckled.

“Cool…” 

Isak observed Even as he took another sip of beer, his long pale neck stretching when he tilted his head back, the movement of his Adam’s apple going up and down his throat, the way his lips pursed around the bottle. He looked down, feeling a little flustered and cleared his throat to compose himself, hoping Even didn’t notice the way he was looking at him.

As Isak was about to add something, they were startled by a woman’s voice, coming from the opened front door.

“Hello ? Even ?”

Even got up, stretching his never ending legs and greeted the woman who had entered the apartment.

“Oh here you are !” she exclaimed “What were you doing hiding behind the boxes ? Is everything here ? Wow… well done !”

“Yeah, I had some help actually...” Even said as Isak also rose to his feet to face her.

“Oh, hi there!” she said when she saw Isak. She smiled at him but shoot Even a quick questioning look.

“This is Isak, he lives right next door and helped me move everything up in the flat. Isak, this is Sonja, my girlfriend, and well also your new neighbor !” Even said, walking up to the woman and wrapping an arm around her shouders.

“Oh, hi… nice to meet you um… Sonja.” Isak said, the words strunggling to leave his mouth.

“You too ! Oh wow thank you so much for helping Even…”

Her voice faltered, Isak unable to concentrate on anything else but the painful sensation of something shattering in his chest. He didn’t dare to look at Even, feeling as his blue eyes could probably see right through him and the turmoil he was in.

“... what do you say ?” he was suddenly brought back by Sonja’s voice.

“Huh, I’m sorry ?”

“You have to come again for dinner or something, I really want to thank you for your help. As soon as we’ve unpacked enough to make this place presentable?” her eyes were sparkling with joy. She had a kind smile highlighting just how pretty she was.

"I huh… I really don't want to impose…" Isak stuttered, beginning to feel really uncomfortable.

"Nonsense! We're having you over for dinner, please?" Sonja insisted.

Isak forced a smile on his lips and said “Yeah, of course, I’d love to, thanks.”

“So um… I guess I’m gonna let you two get settled then.” he continued, and then headed toward the door. 

“See you soon!” she said as she waived at him.

Even walked him to the entrance and leaned against the doorframe. 

“So um… thank you, again.” he said softly.

“Yeah of course, anytime…"

Even smiled at that, a soft almost shy crooked smile and nodded.

“Good evening, Isak.”

“You too...”

As soon as Even closed the door, Isak could hear Sonja laughing and talking with an excited voice, obviously thrilled to me moving in this new apartment with her boyfriend.

Even. Her boyfriend.

Isak went back to his own apartment and let out a deep sigh. He couldn’t move, didn’t even bother turning the lights on, he just stood there in the middle of the flat completely stunned.

What the fuck was happening. 

When he managed to come to after a moment, Isak just crashed on his couch and took out his phone, opening his texts conversation with Eva.

.

Isak

So…… I might have gotten myself into boy problem after all.

He saw her typing back almost immediately.

Eva

???????????

What ?!!

Isak

Meet me for coffee tomorrow after my shift ?

Eva

You bet !!!!!

.

Isak went to bed feeling utterly exhausted but he couldn’t find sleep, his mind and his heart racing, not letting him rest. When he tried closing his eyes, all he could see was Even, his eyes, his lips, his ridiculously longs limbs, and he could feel his skin tingle every time he recalled the feeling of Even fingers against his own, of his hand resting on the small of his back to keep him from falling, maybe lingering there a second longer than necessary.

He could hear Even’s voice resonate in his head, a particular word coming out of his beautiful plump lips again and again. His name. Isak .

Oh no . That was bad.