Even feels peaceful, looking at Isak. It's a kind of peace he's not used to, not anymore. It's heavy and it's light, it's dark– kind of, he can't really explain it– and it's bright. It's looking into the sun in summer, with sunglasses on. It's all of that and it's even more.
It's good, and it's bad. The good days have started to outgrow the bad ones, but it's still bad, sometimes. More times than Even would like it. But Isak is strong, Isak is so so strong and he's fighting, fighting for the both of them.
Isak is loud and Isak is quiet. Isak is everything in between and Isak is so much more.
"Do you need anything?"
Isak is asking if Even needs something, he's not just assuming that Even needs this or he shouldn't be doing that.
It's being curled up in a cocoon of blankets, Isak by his side, not leaving. It's the reassurance that Isak is there, with him, for him, caring about him. It's that Isak is never diminishing Even's feelings, that he's always asking about how he feels in certain situations.
Isak is all of that and he's still even more.
Still, some days even wants to be alone; where he feels like he's nothing but a burden. And it's the worst when he starts to project that feeling onto Isak, when he's convinced that deep down Isak hates him, too. Those are the bad days, the days Isak is barely able to be with Even, because he's not sure how to handle him then. Isak wishes he knew a solution to that, but the only concept he found is still Sonja's advice– taking it minutt for minutt.
"Just you." Sometimes Even says that, so dimly that Isak isn't sure he really means it. Isak still stays, though. He always does.
"Or, maybe some hot cocoa?" Even asks and Isak nods.
Isak comes back into his room with it and places the cup on the nightstand, sitting down next to Even, who is still curled up in a cocoon of blankets. He strokes some of Even's hair out of his face and places a soft kiss on Even's temple. Even winces, just a little, but enough to make Isak stop and Isak just continues stroking Even's hair. It's greasy and just a shadow of how it normally looks and it's been awhile since Even showered properly, but Isak never forces him to do anything, and Even likes and dislikes that.
“Is it–” Isak stops mid-sentence, licking his lip. “Is it okay if I go out with Jonas tonight?”
Even opens his eyes tiredly and Isak can just feel the weight his thoughts leave upon his body. It’s as if all thoughts that Even has ever thought come crashing down on him, in the exact same minute, all the time. “Sure, Isak. I told you, I don’t want you to lie here and be sad and feel obligated to take care of me.”
Isak is relieved, but scared and he just doesn’t want Even to be alone with his incessant thoughts.
“I won’t be long,” Isak promises but Even knows that it’s going to be long, and it’s okay. He tried to reassure himself that it is; he didn’t want Isak to feel bound to him and that’s why he just nods and doesn’t say anything. Isak deserved some time off. It’s going to be okay.
“This beer tastes like shit,” Isak mutters after a while of senseless small talk between Jonas and him. They were watching some movie, Isak couldn’t recall which one.
“What’s wrong with you today?” Jonas looks puzzled, but mostly worried. It’s not that Jonas was constantly worried about Isak for some reason.
It’s that Isak wants to have fun with his friends, and he wants to just make his thoughts shut up for a while but they didn’t and it’s annoying and it’s exhausting; but most of all it’s scary how scared he actually is, of losing Even.
“I haven’t seen Even in school all week,” Jonas wonders and Isak takes a deep breath. Being with Even is like shouting into the world how great things are when they’re good, because Even is the kind of guy that makes his world happier, and brighter. Being with Even is like exploring colors you’ve never seen before and exploring things you’ve never felt before.
But when it’s bad, things go to hell quickly and Isak wants to scream and shout and wants to rip his heart out because it hurts so bad. It hurts seeing Even like that. It hurts not being able to help, not even the slightest. It hurts and hurts and hurts, but he’s still so happy that he ignores all the pain. It’s going to be okay. That’s his mantra. Maybe someday, he’ll actually believe.
“You don’t have to hang out with me,” Jonas continues after he sees Isak’s gaze. It’s all soft, all of his guards down, shedding a tear. He hates his vulnerability. And even more, he hates for Jonas to see it. But Jonas doesn’t say anything. He just pulls him into his arms, silently. They’ve been friends for so long; they’ve shared so many experiences and adventures. This would be their next experience. It’s okay for Jonas to hold him.
Isak snuffles, and Jonas still doesn’t say anything; he just holds him and it feels good, to be the one being held. He silently thanks Jonas, but then he builds his walls back up, because it’s time to go back home; it’s time. “I’ll be good.” If only he believed that.
“Isak–” Jonas muttered. “It’s okay to be weak, you know? You’ve been strong for awhile now. Sometimes it gets too much. Talk to me if you need to, okay?” Isak shrugs his shoulders.
“I will.” He’s not sure, though. He never is.
He tiptoes into his room, keeping the lights out. It doesn’t need mentioning that he hit his feet just about everywhere he could have. “Fuck,” he groans and holds his foot.
“You can turn the light on.”
Isak is startled, almost letting out a loud cry.
“If you turned the light on, you would’ve known I’m awake.” Even’s voice sounds clearer now, not as exhausted as it sounded when he left for Jonas’.
He turns on the light. Even lightly smiles at him, his eyes still look incredibly exhausted.
“You look better,” Isak states and Even taps on the bed.
Isak’s heart clenches.
“Jonas called me.”
Isak gulps. That son of a bitch. “Please, Isak. Sit down.” Isak takes a shaky step towards Even, stumbling onto his side of the bed. Even pulls him close and kisses his lips gently. Isak lets out a relieved sigh, deepening the kiss. He clutches his hand into Even’s hair, stroking it gently. “You’re not happy,” Even states and Isak holds his breath.
He is. He is happy. It’s just that he’s tired, and exhausted and his head feels like it’s exploding any second by now and his thoughts, they don’t stop circling around. “I am!” Isak insists and takes Even’s hand and plays with his fingers and guides them to his mouth and he kisses them, softly.
“Isak–” Even’s voice is demanding but tender, and he caresses Isak’s hair unceasingly. “It’s too much for you, isn’t it?” Even bites his lip. He never wanted Isak to feel like it’s too much. He knew it wouldn’t work out. He knew that eventually Isak would leave.
“No, Even. Stop saying that.” Isak’s voice is dim, just a whisper into the room.
It’s never too much with Even. It’s butterflies and ice cream, just looking at Even. When that beautiful smile peeks out and Even’s eyes crinkle and almost disappear and Even’s laughter fills the room, it’s never too much. One laugh, one smile equals a thousand heartbreaks and sleepless nights and worries.
“I don’t really understand shit right now. And I don’t think I have to. What I do understand, what I do know, is that I’m incredibly in love with you. What I do understand is that love means going through good and bad times, together, hand in hand. What I do understand is that you made my life a million times better, you made me real. This is what I understand, this is what keeps me going. I love you, Even. I wish you knew how much my stomach hurts when I think about you. You make me so happy.”
Even gulps audibly and Isak shuffles himself a little bit closer to his boyfriend’s chest, listening to Even’s steady heartbeat. If it wasn’t sounding so cheesy, Isak would admit without a doubt that this was his favorite sound of all time. “Do you think it’s going to be easier, someday?” Even asks and Isak shrugs his shoulders.
It’s not that he knows it is; it’s that he has hope it’s going to be. It’s that the moment he lifts his gaze upon Even, all of his bad thoughts disappear for a while. All the worry about him, all his anger towards his mother, all the annoying school stuff, it just slips away and all he sees is Even. Even who so bluntly isn’t aware of the effect he has on Isak.
“I love you too.”
Life with Even is a constant up and down, it’s cycling up a hill just to race it down again, too fast to really catch up to the moments in between. Isak is used to that already, and he appreciates every minute he gets to spend with Even. Life is good, he just has to remind himself of that. Make it his mantra, just as It’s going to be okay became his mantra. Life is good.
Isak now understands why Sonja was controlling Even; or more, he understands why Even felt like Sonja was controlling him. He started doing it himself, and he realized it and he tried to change it, to stop himself from his constant worry. Even doesn’t need someone to fix him. Even needs someone to accept him, to love him for who he is, and Isak did. Isak does. Isak loves him so much his heart almost bursts out of his chest cavity whenever they kiss, or just look at each other.
It’s almost two in the morning and Isak is tired, and exhausted and he just wants to go home, and this party they were invited to sucks and– he feels lips on his own, lips he knows too well already, but also lips he’s never going to have enough of. Even places his hands in Isak’s neck, stroking through Isak’s hair. “You look so good, Isak.”
Even knew which buttons to press to drive Isak insane, but it also isn’t too difficult to do so. “I’ve been watching you all night,” Even whispers and Isak sighs loudly, shuffling himself closer to Even, dancing to the ridiculous pop songs that were on for too long now.
“Let’s go home.”
Being with Even is having sex in the most unpredictable places, exploring sides of himself Isak never knew he had. It’s not only sexual, though. They connect so deeply that it sometimes scares Isak.
Isak is maybe a little bit too drunk and a little bit too high. It’s always extreme with both of them. They don’t really find a healthy inbetween. Not yet, though. Maybe some day they will.
It’s an up and down, that’s just how it is; Isak is still trying to remember that.
Even’s chest raises and lowers consistently; his face is relaxed. He looks so beautiful, Isak thinks, and places a soft kiss on Even’s temple. “How are you?” Isak asks, drawing some abstract lines on Even’s shoulder.
“Good.” Even was bothered with some homework and Isak should do some school work too, but he can’t help himself from watching his boyfriend.
“Are you still talking to Sonja behind my back?” Even wants to know and Isak is startled, looking at Even with furrowed brows. How on earth does he know?
He just nods; denying it wouldn’t help anyone. “I’m just asking for advice every now and then,” Isak whispers and caresses Even’s hair lightly. Even turns around.
“You can just ask me.” There’s hurt in his voice, and anger — a kind of anger he hasn’t heard until now.
“I–” Isak coughs a little and lowers his gaze. He won’t get out of this conversation that easily.
“I can’t just ask you.” Isak flails with his arms as if he was trying to make a point, but Even shushes him.
“Sure you can. I’m right here, and I’m in my right mind. I don’t need babysitting!” Even stands up and paces the room anxiously. “This is exactly what happened between me and Sonja. She felt the need to control and babysit me and I just wanted to break free.”
Isak looks at him in anger too. “So I should just ignore what happened? And what might happen?” This isn’t the direction he wants it to go.
“Whatever. Fuck it.” Even shakes his head in disbelief and storms off.
“You can’t just leave in the middle of an argument!” Isak shouts, but the front door already loudly fell in lock.
Not even ten seconds later, Eskild peeks through the door. Isak forcefully brushes the tears out of his face and takes a deep breath. “What?” he asks, pissed. “Yeah, we had a fight. Things like that happen, Eskild.”
“And you’re just letting him go?” Eskild questions, and Isak just shrugs his shoulders.
“What am I supposed to do? He just complained about me babysitting him too much, I can’t run after him–” The doorbell shuts him down and Noora shouts an,
and Even storms back in, mumbling something about how he has forgotten his phone. As he is about to leave again, Isak grips his jacket and pulls him closer. “Please don’t leave.”
It’s bad. Isak hates fighting, and Even hates fighting even more. It messes with his head and he didn’t actually want to start a fight. “Please, Even,” Isak pleads, “please don’t leave me.”
Isak lets out a sob he didn’t know he was holding in and clutches onto Even’s arm even more. Even looks at him intensely before lowering his lips and pressing them onto Isak’s mouth. He kisses him hard, pushing him against the wall.
“You’re an idiot,” Even whispers in between kisses, “if you think I’m leaving you.” He smacks their mouths together one last time before he ends the kiss. “I know Sonja didn’t do everything wrong, but can you please stop talking to her?” Even asks and strokes some of Isak’s hair out of his face. “And I know you think you need help, and that you can’t figure everything out on your own, but… she’s actually not the best person to talk to.”
Isak sighs. All her advice has been helpful so far, and he knows that Even felt controlled by her. “I can’t promise.” Isak takes a deep breath before he continues.
“You know, Sonja could have just ignored my cry for help when I didn’t know shit, but she didn’t. You broke her heart and she still finds it in hers to help me, because she cares about you. I think you’re not giving her enough credit.
Even closes his eyes. “This is going nowhere.” He sits down on Isak’s bed and takes off his coat.
Sonja was easy. Sonja was his safety net, the person who knew everything that was going on inside his head. She was the one controlling his fears. Isak wasn’t easy, and that’s what Even likes about Isak.
Isak asks questions. Isak is genuinely curious. Isak doesn’t dismiss his feelings, doesn’t diminish them onto just a manic episode again . “Sonja wasn’t good for me, Isak,” Even begins cautiously. “And, if you don’t want us to–” he takes another deep breath. “If you don’t want us to end up like Sonja and I did, then please…” He let his words just float through the room.
“I’m exhausted,” Isak admits and sits down next to Even, who immediately places his hand on Isak’s thigh. Isak places his hand on top of Even’s. “But I’m just having a bad day,” Isak continues as he sees Even’s gaze. “I don’t want us to end at all.” Isak’s word linger in the room for another while.
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies between Isak and Even. It’s fighting, and yelling, and hatred, sometimes. On their worst days, they won’t look at each other at all. But they made a promise, some time in their early days (not that their early days are already over, though), to never go to sleep without talking. At the end of the day, the only thing they wanted to care about was their feelings for each other. And Isak fights like hell to not let this steady habit get lost.
“Do you miss me?” Even wants to know and Isak scoffs. As if that was even a question Even had to ask. He always misses him when he’s not around.
He rolls his eyes before answering, “No.” and he can’t help but smile widely into the phone. Even bursts into a laugh that Isak knew made his eyes crinkle. “Especially not that crinkly smile of yours, drittsekk.”
Isak lets himself fall onto his bed and sighs loudly. “My bed is so empty without you,” he nags, trying to make Even feel bad about not being with him tonight.
“Mine is too, babe,” Even answers mischievously and Isak groans. He gets rid of his clothes and covers himself with his blanket. “And you have an advantage, because my bed cover doesn’t actually smell of you.”
Isak smiles dumbly. Even was right, his bed cover smells of Even and he’s grateful it does, because then he actually feels as if Even is a little closer to him. He still misses Even’s warmth, though. “Can you sleep over tomorrow again?”
Even whispers a “Yes,” and there’s a little rustling in the background. “We should sleep now, Isak.”
“You’re right,” Isak yawns and stretches shortly. They say their goodbyes and neither of them wants to actually hang up. It’s always the same.
Even then decides to hang up, which is always followed by a “You’re always the one to hang up first” from Isak, whispered into the empty room.
It’s not uncommon for Even to go a day without texting, at least until they say their shared good night, but the last couple of days he’s a little too quiet for Isak’s liking.
Isak doesn’t want to sound like the concerned, dependent boyfriend, but he is . That’s why he had his phone outside his pockets all day, annoying all of his friends with it. He approaches Jonas and Magnus, looking at his phone. “Can’t you put that down for, like, 5 minutes?” Magnus begs and Isak rolls his eyes.
“I can, but my boyfriend–” he stops mid-sentence, spotting Even on the other side of the schoolyard. He thinks about going over and confronting Even but decides not to. He puts his phone in his pocket and looks up at Magnus and Jonas, who are watching him interestedly.
“–is right over there, and he’s fine, and I know I worry too much,” he finishes his sentence in his friend’s words and rolls his eyes again.
It’s tiring, being with Even. He never really understands Even’s trains of thought, as much as he is trying. The bad days are getting heavier again, and Isak loses track of the times he’s the one calling Even.
He’s scared of losing him. It’s what keeps him fighting.
He half-heartedly tries to follow his friends’ small talk but he doesn’t really succeed. Instead his thoughts trail to Even and he is wondering what’s up, what happened, if he did something that made Even pull away from him. He hadn’t slept over for several nights, and he didn’t want Isak to come over either. A hand on his shoulder snaps him out of his thoughts.
“Isak.” There’s only one person in the whole wide world that says his name like that. Even . He looks up and gets lost in Even’s beautiful eyes, craning his neck up a little, as if he was asking for a kiss. (He always does that. Even thinks it’s adorable.) Even lowers his gaze and places his lips on Isak’s, kissing him shortly. The kiss ends way too quickly for Isak’s liking.
Isak doesn’t want to but “What have I done? Do you hate me? Am I controlling you too much?” comes out of his mouth like word vomit and he lowers his gaze to the ground, shuffling his feet.
Even furrows his brows, licking his lip. Jonas and Magnus look at Isak surprised, then they walk off, giving Even and Isak some privacy. Isak just wants to know. “If you want to break up with me, just–” he lets out a deep breath, followed by a small sob, “–just tell me?”
“Break up with you?” Even laughs, not really knowing what on earth is happening right now. “Are you serious? Are we at that point again?” Even shakes his head. “I was busy with school. I texted you about it several times. Isak, I’m in my final year and exams are around the corner and–”
Isak closes his eyes. “I’m such an idiot.” Isak takes a deep breath, stretching out his hand and asking for Even’s, who gladly takes it. It’s not only Even who’s complicated, insecure, and has his bad days, but Isak too. Sometimes Isak’s bad days are worse than Even’s bad days, because they’re still trying to figure out what triggers his bad thoughts. Even is the everlasting sound of reason then, but Isak doesn’t talk about his feelings much, which makes it harder.
“Why didn’t you call me and ask me what’s up? Isak, please.” He squeezes Isak’s hand and pulls him closer, pulls him into a tight hug. “I want you to talk to me, the same way you want me to talk to you. That’s how relationships work, baby.”
Isak cuddles himself even closer into Even’s chest, breathing in his scent. “I’m sorry.” Even caresses Isak’s hair carefully, then crashes his lips onto Isak’s again.
“I’m not happy without you,” he admits, rubbing Isak’s back. “And you’re a sexy idiot,” Even adds, making Isak laugh.
It’s a battle and battles leave battle scars, and the heaviest scars are the ones you can’t see. Even is happy. This boy, this incredible, good-looking second year idiot that’s too insecure, too shy, too everything makes his heart flutter as soon as Even realizes Isak is looking at him. Isak is mending his battle scars. The thing is, Even doesn’t know that he is mending Isak’s scars too.
It’s a quiet night, Isak’s chest is moving flatly but evenly. Even’s thoughts are this massive helter-skelter and they are keeping him up, almost unsteady. He tries to stay calm, breathes, counts to ten, to twenty, to fifty, to a hundred, but he’s starting to move on the mattress restlessly.
“Even, baby, what’s wrong?” Isak’s voice is sleepy. He opens his eyes and squeezes them shut again. “Look at me, look at me,” Isak demands, searching for his night lamp.
“I can’t breathe,” Even mouthes, impossible for him to say anything.
Isak sits up opposite to Even, taking both his hands into his own, placing them on his heart. “Listen to my heartbeat, just concentrate on the beat of my heart.” He’s glad his heart is still beating at a pace that’s considered soothing and he sees Even going from short-breathed to some kind of normal breathing. “Everything is okay, baby. I’m here, just keep breathing to the beat of my heart.”
Even closes his eyes, incredibly tired all of a sudden. “Thank you,” he whispers but Isak just shakes his head, pulling Even to his chest.
“Through the good and bad,” Isak croaks, breathing away his tears. “In movies, in fairy tales, actually–” Isak begins and he looks at Even questioning, “when they say And then they lived Happily Ever After , do you know why we never see it?"
Even shakes his head, waiting for Isak to continue.
“Because maybe the Happily Ever After isn’t made for movies. Maybe, sometimes, people get their Happily Ever After because they’re willing to put effort into it every single day.” Isak takes a deep breath.
“I want you to be my Happily Ever After.”