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this is what it's like to be lovers

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Tonight was a regular night in Isak’s routine, laying on the couch with Even (by with, he means on) his head in Even’s lap as he rests his eyes while Even contently watches whatever film he picked out on Netflix for the night. The lights were dimmed, with only the television, lamp, and fairy lights that decorate the wall that used to belong to their Christmas tree casting light into the room. Even’s hand strokes over Isak’s hair, fingers twisting the strands. 

Isak was only half-asleep, the kind of sleep that allows him to rest but he remains very aware of everything that goes on around him. He rarely naps these days, he suspects it has something to do with being able to sleep a regular amount now, but he still likes nights like these. 

It’s a shame when he’s jolted away by the beeping of Magnus trying to get into their building, “Helloooo!” Magnus calls into the machine. 

Isak groans, “What does he want?”

Smiling, Even pushes Isak up, and walks over to buzz Magnus’ entry to the building and he unlocks the door, before walking back over to the back of the couch, sitting on the arm of it, “We won’t know until he comes up, will we?”

“If he’s drunk I’m asleep.”

“Yes, babe, I know,” Even fondly replies, kissing his boyfriend’s forehead. 

Magnus opens the door, “Hello Evak, how are we doing?”

“Hi, man,” Even greets. 

At the same time, Isak says, “What brings you a whole tram ride away from your home?”

Even rolls his eyes. 

“Me and Vilde had a fight, thought it was best to leave it for the night, is it cool to take your couch tonight?”

Isak nods, “Sure, we were about to go to bed anyway, weren’t we?”

“Yeah, I was just going to get some water, you go to bed. Mags, you want anything?”

“Water sounds good, can I grab some blankets?”

“Course, help yourself,” Isak says, patting Magnus’ back as he wanders down the hallway to the bedroom. 

Magnus heads over to the chest they kept on the bottom shelf of the bookcase - they kept spare blankets and warmer clothes like hats, gloves and jumpers in there. He pulls out the fluffy blanket and put it on the couch, arranging the throw cushions to one end of it. 

Even places the water on the coffee table, “So, you and Vilde okay?”

“Hm,” Magnus hums, “I guess. Just had a dumb fight is all, thought I’d give her some space for tonight.”

Even nods along. 

“You and Isak are really settled now, do you guys ever have to go sleep somewhere else after a fight?”

“Not anymore,” Even begins, “We had a bad fight when Isak was living at the kollektivet and I went home after, we made up the next day. But when we did, we had a talk that night about what we should do in the future after a fight and we decided we didn’t want to sleep in different places. Since moving here, the other can sleep on the couch if it’s bad, but I won’t go back to my parents' place or anything like that.”

Magnus thinks for a second, “Maybe me and Vilde should talk about that.”

“It’s always good to be on the same page.”

“Thanks.”

Even shrugs, “No worries, I’ll see you tomorrow,” with that, he locks the door and joins Isak in their bedroom. 

.

The next morning, by the time Magnus and Isak wake up, Even has already left for his shift at KB. 

Isak pulls two plates out and dishes up the pancakes he made for their breakfast as Magnus grabs knives and forks and sits at the table, “I thought you couldn’t cook?”

“I wouldn’t exactly call pancakes cooking,” Isak scoffs, “Besides, me not cooking and me not being able to cook are two entirely different things.”

Magnus smiles as he takes a bite. 

“So what happened with Vilde?”

“Just a stupid argument, really,” he reports, “Since moving in with her and her mum, she just stresses easily about little things that I don’t pay attention to very much.”

“Little things?” Isak picks up on, “Like what?”

Magnus takes a sip of orange juice, “Okay so there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t even clock as things I need to do. I’ve never had a girlfriend before so I don’t really know the etiquette-”

“The etiquette,” Isak deadpans.

“Shut up,” Magnus sniggers, “I mean like she expects certain things that I don’t even realise she wants me to do. Okay, so when we go out, I forget that I’m meant to be on Boyfriend Duty all the time. We went to this party the other week, and she was sat on this bean bag and she got angry that I didn't help her up; or when we all started going into a different room, she was mad that I didn't hang back and wait for her.”

While eating, Isak nodded along, “So the general boyfriend stuff.” 

Magnus nods.

“I think that comes with time, though. I never knew I had to do that stuff, but eventually, you get used to those things - you just do what’s natural, what’s natural for me will be different for you. Like you notice Jonas always carries Eva’s bag? You don’t see Even carrying my stuff, do you? It’s different for different people,” Isak explains, trying to come up with examples to make it easier to understand. 

“It’s different with you and Even, though. Neither of you are girls!”

Isak squints, “That’s vaguely sexist territory you’re heading into.”

“Sorry. But you get what I mean, right?”

“Look, the reason you and Vilde are fighting about stuff like that is because you don't talk about it before it happens, right? You just end up in a fight - communicate it before it gets the chance to be an argument,” Isak states, knowing that the reason for these fights is just miscommunication.

Magnus raises a brow, “Huh?”

“Talk about what she expects from you, so she can't get mad about it.”

Magnus’ face lights up, “That’s brilliant! You’re good at this, Eskild taught you well. You good at these too, man,” he says, motioning to his almost finished pancake.

“Thanks, Mags,” Isak smiles, “So what actually happened last night? Did she kick you out after?” 

His head shakes, “Nah, I left because she was screaming at me and I said that I'd sleep here to give her space to cool off.”

“What happened?”

Magnus finished his last bite, and leans back into the chair, “She said that she was talking to Eva and Jonas about like, you know, sex stuff. And they told her that I had said something to Jonas about masturbating. So the argument was that to Vilde, masturbating is cheating.”

Isak face changes to confusion, “Cheating?”

“Yeah, she thinks that any need for sex that I have is hers, and if I do it on my own, that’s me disrespecting her and saying she’s not good enough or something - and she actually said it was on the same level as me going out and cheating on her. She’s kind of insecure about not being needed,” Magnus recalls, “Have you and Even ever fought like that? About something like that?”

Thinking back to their arguments, Isak can’t think of a single one about something like boundaries. They fought about Sonja before, and Even’s tendency to flirt with everyone out of politeness, but never about the boundaries they have on something like this, “No, Even and I haven't - not about anything like that.”

Magnus nods, “So you don’t think that’s cheating.”

“No, I never thought anyone thought that was cheating, man.”

Isak couldn’t help but wonder if Even did.

.

By the time Even gets home, he sees Isak setting up a film on Netflix and rearranging the sofa cushions.

“Hey baby, you’re home early,” Isak greets, noting that it was only 5:30 - usually Even doesn’t get back until about 6:30, he’s too nice and stays back to help clean up after his shift technically ends at 6.

Even throws his keys into the bowl on the table and sits down on the sofa, “Mm, I got let out early, it wasn’t that busy.”

Isak thought that was a little odd, as it was a Saturday but counts his blessings that Even was home, and he kisses his boyfriend’s hair.

“Magnus gone?” Even questions. 

“Yeah, he left at about one. How was your shift?”

Even shrugs, “Fine, nothing outside the normal really. Except someone dropped a coffee all over the floor in the toilets and I had to clean it up.”

“The toilets?” Isak tried to hide a smile, “That sucks babe.”

“Did you talk to Mags about what happened?” 

Isak sits down next to him, “Yeah, they’re fine now - he texted about an hour ago that they’d made up.”

Nodding, Even smiles at him, “Do you want to order something for dinner?” he suggests, “I can't be bothered to cook tonight.”

“I can make something if you want?”

He shakes his head, “Nah, we have some money leftover anyway, we can treat ourselves. You chill?”

Isak hums, “Sounds good.”

Evening soon comes around, old cartons of food are on the coffee table, and Isak and Even find themselves watching a game show that neither of them care much for. The film Isak had found wasn’t great, and he was tired of hearing Even trying to dissect cinematography that was honestly terrible, so he’d turned to terrible game shows instead.

“Can I talk to you about something?” Isak asks. He’s laid against Even’s chest, feeling his boyfriend’s fingers stroking against his arm.

Even sits up, “Sure Is, what is it?”

“I spoke to Magnus about what happened with Vilde and they'd had this fight about him still masturbating.”

“Masturbating?”

Isak nods, “Yeah, she thought it was cheating if he did that. When he was talking, I realised we had never had the chat on like little boundaries like that. And I was googling some stuff about that kind of thing - I found something called micro-cheating? It sounds kind of dumb and American, but I wanted to talk about it with you, so we’re you know…” he rambles. 

“Communicating?” Even offers, the corners of his mouth upturning. 

“Yeah, kinda.”

“Okay, let’s talk,” He takes his arm from around Isak, and sits so he is cross-legged on the couch, now facing Isak with his entire body, “Let’s do this thing.”

Isak’s eyes crinkle when he smiles, all nervousness leaves his mind as he places a hand on Even’s cheek, “I love you, you know that?”

Even kisses Isak’s nose, nodding. 

“So I made a list on my phone of the stuff that I found.”

“Course.”

“Is that weird?”

“No, it’s cute,” Even defends, “Read the first one.”

Isak picks up his phone from the coffee table, sitting up in the process, “Well let’s go with the Mags thing first - do you think…”

“Masturbating,” Even finishes, seeing the awkwardness his boyfriend was beginning to have.

Isak blushes, “Yes quite, is that cheating if I do it away from you?”

Even’s head shakes immediately, “No, it's connecting with yourself. I think it’s important for us both to exist together and on our own too. I don’t want to lose who we are together or who we are as two different people. I want you to have that time on your own.”

“I didn’t think it even could be thought of as cheating,” Isak says, nodding along with what Even had told him. 

“It might be for different people. But that’s how I see it - it might be because Mags talks a lot about the porn he watches - perhaps Vilde’s got a problem with that as well? I don’t know,” Even theorises, “So, this list.”

“My list,” Isak agrees, opening his notes app, “I watched some dumb videos on it so there’s a few.” 

Even takes hold of Isak’s spare hand, encouragingly. 

“None of them are full on cheating, like none of them are about going out one night and sleeping with someone, because obviously we’re together,” Isak explains. 

Even nods, “And we worked on that before,” Isak had taken a while to get over that they started a relationship by cheating on Sonja, and luckily Even had taken the time to be patient with him and show him that they won’t go through the same thing.

“Yeah, I know you wouldn’t do that, and you know I wouldn’t.”

“Course not.”

“Most of these are just seeing what makes us uncomfortable so we won’t hurt each other,” Isak tells him.

Even nods, “Just setting some boundaries, yeah?”

“The first one is following a lot of hot people on social media and liking all of their posts,” Isak lowers his phone, “To me, that doesn’t really upset me at all. If you had one person you knew in real life and you liked every single one really quickly, then maybe; but you can’t do that anyway because you don’t use social media.”

“Yeah, same thing really. If it was a particular person, I don’t think I’d like it very much but it wouldn’t make me fight with you. Just kind of a dick move,” he explains, “I think we have the same view on that one.”

Isak deleted that one from his list, and reads, “Confiding in someone who is not your significant other?”

“I don’t think that’s too bad,” Even answers, “Like, you have Jonas who you talk to about things - I will always want you to talk to me but sometimes you need someone outside of us.”

“Yeah, I don’t want you to feel like you have to depend on me for everything, because I don’t want you to ever feel trapped by us,” Isak agrees, “I will always want you to open up to me when you can - but like when you wanted to tell me about Mikael, and I was patient with it because I knew in your own time, you would. I would never push you.”

Even smiles, kissing Isak’s cheek, “I know that. I don’t think I’d like it if you stopped talking to me, and spoke to someone else about everything but I doubt you’d do that.”

Nodding, Isak turns back to his phone, “This one has two parts - purposefully not telling someone that you have a significant other, and then telling certain people that your significant other is just a friend?”

“Yikes.”

Isak laughs.

“So, I don’t want you to have to be like ‘I have a boyfriend!’ whenever someone talks to you, but like, if you can tell someone is flirting with you or if you’re with people and it comes up, I’d like you to just mention you have someone, and not just say I’m a friend,” Even explains, trying to break things down in his mind, “If you ever feel unsafe saying that I’m your boyfriend, I’m cool with you not mentioning it, but if you could tell me about that, I’d appreciate it.”

Isak thinks back to all those talks with Eskild about being scared of people’s reactions to being with a boy, and he’s happy that Even remembers that part of him, “I don’t get scared of that much anymore.”

“No, course not, I have to pull you back from homophobes these days,” he says, remembering that asshole from Isak’s birthday. 

“Anyway, I do agree with you on that, are we gonna get any we disagree on?”

Even scoffs, “It’s a good thing to be on the same page.”

“This one is letting someone who isn't your significant other dance with you in a club?” Isak reads, “I think you’re naturally flirty and nice, especially if you’re out and we’ve talked about that - just don’t let anyone start grinding on you or anything like that.”

“Noted, Mr Valtersen,” he jokes, “Same for you, though.”

“These ones are all kind of connected so I’ll read them together - “Talking late at night with someone who isn't your significant other, using a fake name in your contacts on your phone, and texting someone and deleting the texts afterwards?”

Even takes a minute to understand the three separate circumstances, “Well the first one doesn’t happen because we live together, I’m with you at night - but deleting texts and using fake names kind of makes me think you have something to hide -  I don’t see the point in covering something up if there’s nothing to cover up, do you get what I mean?”

Isak agrees with a nod, “I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a text before, but if I saw someone doing it I’d probably think there was something suss with it.”

“Exactly, like you’re hiding it for a reason.”

He deletes a few more from his list, and chuckles at the next one, “Fair warning, if you ever do this I’ll snap: sexting someone you're attracted to, who isn't you're significant other, despite never having sex with them?”

“Oh fuck no, what would you get out of sexting someone anyway?”

“Especially if there’s like pictures and stuff? Fuck that.”

Even laughs, “You want the dick pic, then?”

“Get your dick pic away from me and anyone else - nobody likes dick pics, Even.”

“Fine.”

“These ones are connected too, so giving your number to someone, going for coffee with someone and flirting with someone - to me this all depends, like if you go for coffee with Yousef, I’m not going to kick off, you know?”

His boyfriend nods, “Yeah, if it’s someone you’re attracted to, and you do it then it’s a bit weird. But as long as you tell me, I think it’s fine.”

“We’re nearly done,” Isak announces, “Kissing someone when you’re drunk?”

Even splutters, “You don’t kiss anyone other than me, sir.”

Laughing, Isak nods, “Didn’t think you’d like that one.”

“While we’re at it, kissing girls is still the same thing - I don’t know how Jonas feels cool with Eva kissing girls but you and me only kiss each other, thank you.”

“Deal.”

Even feels content in that establishment, and Isak notices the freckles on his cheeks are coming out again, he leaves a kiss there.

“Last one, you ready?”

“Lay it on me.”

“We don’t have a problem with me here, this is all on you.”

Even grimaces, “Sounds menacing.”

“The theme is exes,” Isak states, “The main one is just staying actively in touch with an ex, and then there’s staying in touch with an ex’s family, and the social media stuff but you don’t have that so I won’t go into it.”

“Do you want to just tell me what your boundaries are here? It’s only you that this effects because I’m your first,” Even offers, “I mean you know the situation with Sonja anyway.”

Placing his phone back onto the table, Isak looks down at his hand, “Well, you know I had a problem with Sonja just because of how you ended things with her and went back - I just get insecure because of that but you’re good at telling me when she does contact you or the other way around.”

“You helped me a lot with her, like to understand that she wasn’t trying to control me.”

Isak shrugs, “I didn’t want you to hate her; she was a big part of your past, she was your first love. I don’t want to ever hate you, and that must be the same for her. Besides, she apologised to me, and that must have been hard.”

“You’re sweet,” Even’s eyes crinkle, “You’re so sweet, baby.”

"The family thing is chill with me. I know your mama checks up on her even though she got angry at how she handled things."

"Mama was just mad that Sonja spoke to you about me like I was just my illness, and that she spoke to you like that," Even explained.

Isak nods along, "Yeah, I don't think you kept in contact with Sonja's family, but that doesn't really bother me. And I’m cool with you talking to Sonja or meeting up with her or whatever, just let me know about it,” Isak explains.

Even’s hands find their way to underneath Isak’s grey hoodie, holding the skin on his sides, “Can I tell you something?”

Isak murmurs.

“I want you to not be scared of me thinking you’re like Sonja, because you’re not,” Even says, “She lost her way because she never gave me choice, you’re really open with me and you never tell me what to do, you ask what I want. She didn’t do that. If you ever don’t want me to do something, like if I met up with her on my own, you’d be insecure about it. I don’t want you to feel that because of me - I need you to tell me that.”

Even sees him nod, and Isak’s eyes don’t meet his.

He cups his boyfriend’s face, “Hey, look at me,” Isak’s eyes flicker up, “It’s great for you to talk to me about this, I appreciate it, but you need to be honest with me, okay? That’s all I need from you.”

“I doubt you’d meet her anyway, but I just need you to tell me when things like that happen. Don’t hide things from me. That’s all.” 

He smiles, “Agreed.”

Isak’s face matches Even, a smile coming over his face, “Thank you for talking about this with me, I just feel better talking it through with you.”

.

The next morning, Even wakes up from his phone ringing. Isak is fast asleep on his chest, so he reaches over best he can without waking him up. 

He sees the screen shows a photo of Magnus, “Hello? Mags?” he holds the phone up to his ear.

“Hey!”

Even squints, and rubs over his eyes, “You okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure am. Sorry, did I wake you? It’s early, like 7am,” Magnus says.

“Mm.”

Magnus clears his throat, “I, uh, I just wanted to call and say I’m moving out of Vilde’s.”

“Oh shit,” Even comments, in shock, “Wha- why? I thought you said you were fine now?”

“Yeah, she ended things late last night, like at midnight. She said she thinks we’re too different. I stayed over at Eva’s last night, because Jonas was over there. Pretty sure Vilde called Eva about it before she did it because Jonas came over to get me.”

Even sighs, “Man, I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah. Me too. I was talking to Eva about it this morning, and she said she’s pretty sure Vilde’s going through some stuff other than me and she was just looking for an out.”

Isak snuffles in his sleep, and Even plays with his hair, “An out?”

Magnus hums, “I kind of think she might like someone else?”

“Are you sure?”

“No but Eva agreed with me,” he says, “I’m not mad, though, I think I would be mad if I really was meant to be with her, or at least feeling something a bit stronger than I am doing. Like if you and Isak broke up, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t feel the way I do right now. I’m more scared to lose her friendship than anything else.”

“Mm, I get you,” Even agrees.

“Eva said that Vilde might like a girl.”

“Oh.”

Magnus takes a breath, “Vilde said to me a while ago that she liked girls as well, and boys weren’t as easy to be attracted to for her. She told you two as well, right?”

“Yeah, she told us she liked girls too, but I never got the impression she liked one when she was with you.”

“I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine as long as I don’t lose her completely.”

“You won’t, leave her a text to meet up for a coffee as friends so you won’t,” Even advises, as Isak’s eyes blink open.

Magnus thanks him, “I best go, now. But I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye Mags.”

Isak lets out a huff, and kisses Even’s chest.

“Magnus and Vilde broke up.”

Isak’s eyebrows raised, “Fuck.”

“It’s good that we talk, babe,” Even tells him, “We’re good at this communication thing.” 

Whenever a couple broke up around Even, he always felt to need to hold onto Isak. It's not that he didn't trust that they would stay together, he just was very aware that they are young and if they don't work to stay together then it could end. That's why he loved to be open and communicative with Isak.

“Love you.”

With that, Isak’s eyes close again, and Even feels the love he has for him in his entire body.

“I love you.”

 

 

fin.