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Don't Touch Me

Chapter Text

It was a party, Isak could remember that much. If anything, he could remember a lot of people occupying almost every crook of the frat house. He could remember how loud the music was, but he couldn’t remember what songs were played. And he could remember who invited him to the party, but he couldn’t remember who it was that led him into the empty bedroom last night. 

“How stupid do you have to allow someone to take you to a bedroom during a party when you’re drunk as fuck?” Jonas had teased him the next afternoon when he tried explaining how little he could remember last night. They laid in his room, just talking in the dark as they recovered from their hangover. If Isak could recall correctly, Jonas was just about as drunk as Isak was that night, if not worse. But Isak wasn’t about to expose him; he could hardly remember what year it was without looking at a calendar.

“I’m being serious, Jonas,” Isak said, furrowing his eyebrows together. “I don’t remember what happened to me, and all I remember is you finding me naked in the room this morning. No one else was here with me, Jonas. I need to know what else happened.”

Isak planned on taking it easy today at the frat house. He lived with Jonas, his best friend, Even, Magnus, Mahdi, Eskild, Elias, William, Chris, and others that Isak didn’t know. He hardly came out to any parties they had, but he was more worried about passing his classes at the moment rather than being in a fraternity. Jonas kept telling him to loosen up and just have some fun while he was in college, but Isak constantly refused. If he wanted to have some fun, he could always sit in his dark dorm room wrapped around in his favorite blanket, watching episodes of The Office on his laptop while eating leftover takeout. But of course, he didn’t tell Jonas about his ideas of fun, and now that Isak got a taste of college’s expectation of fun, he wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to do it ever again.

“Well, if you think you got raped, you don’t have any evidence,” Jonas pointed out, shifting on the bed. “Why do you always assume that the worst things happen to you? Just because you’re getting bad marks doesn’t mean that you’re going to get raped in the same year.”

The word made Isak cringe. He didn’t like that it sounded like he got raped, but he knew that all the arrows were pointing in that direction. “Whatever, but someone led me to this bedroom, Jonas. I remember that I didn’t just walk here by myself. It’s really fuzzy and everything and I really need to know what happened, now.

 “Go ask Even if you want to find out what happened. He could barely get his eyes off of you the whole night,” the raven muttered. “If you find out anything, tell me.”

Even was nothing more than “that really nice kid” to Isak. Sure, they talked a few times, but they never actually hung out or went anywhere as friends. If he had to be honest, he would love to hang out with him. They shared a lot of the same interests and had a lot in common, which got eased some of the awkwardness whenever they talked. It kind of startled him hearing that Even couldn’t stop looking at him, but he didn’t find it to be a bad thing. No, Isak didn’t like to think himself as even remotely attractive, and deemed that to be the reason why he could never get into a relationship with a girl.

He knew that Even was gay while he was straight, but maybe he could use that as an advantage to get information out of him. When he was sure that everyone was awake, Isak knocked softly on the tall blonde’s door, giving him the warmest smile that he could muster. “Hey, Even. Can I ask you something?” 

He nodded and stepped aside to let Isak in, closing the door behind him. Even was somewhat timid and lazy – the lack of decoration and abundance of trash and clothes in his room only screamed that. Isak could relate though, but his room was much worse. During high school one time, his room had gotten so full of trash and rubbish that his dad had found a raccoon snacking in the closet.

“Last night,” he started and sat down on Even’s bed. “I was drunk as fuck and I can hardly remember anything. But, the thing is that I remember someone taking me into Jonas’s bedroom. I don’t know what happened after that but Jonas said he found me naked this morning on his bed. Did you happen to see who took me upstairs? That’s all I’m asking.”

Even’s face turned a light shade of red as he looked away, pretending to ponder. Isak sighed as he patiently waited for his answer. He wouldn’t have guessed that Even had a crush on him, but if he did, he didn’t really care. He wouldn’t date him, that was for sure, but it wouldn’t bother him like it might bother other people who have same-sex admirers.

“Oh! You did go upstairs with someone, and willingly, too. I was looking for Eskild when I saw you laughing with them, but I didn’t really get a good look at their face. They were wearing really dark clothing and they were facing away from me.”

“Are you kidding me?” Isak exploded, slamming his fists against the soft mattress. Even looked taken aback at the sudden outburst, and when Isak recovered, he took a step closer. “I’m sorry I didn’t help much, but if it makes you feel better, I can help you look for them.”

Isak shook his head, running his fingers through his hair as he stood and started pacing the room. “No, I should probably do this alone. I don’t want to keep asking around and I can probably find him faster if I do it alone.”

Even grabbed his shoulder, making Isak jump and look at him. Even returned the look of shock with a smile. “Let me help. We don’t have to look around, I can ask you questions and point out people who might’ve done it. And you might not remember much now since you still have a hangover and your memory is a bit foggy, but as time passes and you see familiar things, you might remember. I want to be there to help you when your memories come back. Besides, if someone really did rape you, they won’t have the chance to do it again once we catch them.”

An uneasy feeling settled in Isak’s stomach as he heard the word. He wasn’t even sure if he was raped, but a sinking feeling in his stomach led him to believe otherwise. Dubiously, Isak stared long and hard at Even’s sweet smile, and hoped that he wasn’t being deceived. But Even was one of the sweetest people he knew, and didn’t look capable of hurting even the smallest offender. For all he knew, Even could’ve been the one who led him to Jonas’s room that night, but there was no need to jump to conclusions so soon.

So Isak returned the smile and nodded, leaning in and giving him a hug. “You’re the best. Thank you so much.”

“The last thing I want is for anyone to get hurt like that again, even if we don’t really talk. Let’s go eat some breakfast to help you think clearly, okay?”

Chapter Text

The breakfast either tasted like complete and utter shit, or Even was just a really bad cook. Isak wanted to blame it on his hangover for the horrendous taste, and he made a mental note to taste Even’s cooking when he wasn’t in such a state. No one else was with them in the kitchen thankfully, and Even took this as an opportunity to ask questions about that night and what might’ve happened.

“What the hell were you even doing last night?” Isak asked, watching as Even washed his dishes. “You don’t seem like you have a hangover, and I hardly saw you, aside from when I went to get more beer in the kitchen.” Even could’ve been getting crunk downstairs while Isak was half-conscious on a bed being assaulted.

Even shrugged, as if the question wasn’t important. “I stayed downstairs talking to one of William’s friends, you don’t know her. I had one or two drinks, but after a while, most of us left to go smoke a blunt in the backyard. I went with them, and we stayed there for the rest of the night.” When Isak narrowed his eyes in distrust, Even sighed. “Isak, if you think it was me, I swear I was far away from you most of the night. I hardly knew where you were, besides when I saw you in the kitchen and on the stairs.”

You fucking liar. Jonas said that you could hardly keep your eyes off me the whole night. Isak shook his head, not wanting to incriminate Even just yet. There was still so much that he didn’t know yet, so it as still a little too early to say anything. “Who went outside with you?”

Finishing with the dishes, Even counted on his fingers as he rattled out names. “William’s friend, Jonas, Chris, Mahdi, Elias, Magnus, Vilde, Sana… I don’t know. That’s all I can remember.” He leaned against the counter, his eyes distant as he reminisced about the night’s events. He laughed to himself while Isak thought about possible people it could’ve been.

It had to be someone who wasn’t smoking, obviously. The only people he could think of was William, Eskild, Eva, Eva’s friend Chris, and Noora. But those didn’t sound logical to Isak. Were any of them really capable of luring Isak into a room and taking advantage of him? He could believe that William would do something of that sort – and probably already has – but as for the others, there was no way. He gagged in his mouth a little as he imagined Chris Berg taking him into Jonas’s room and fucking him without his consent.

“I’m going to go for a smoke after I use the bathroom, you can have some if you want.” Even patted Isak’s shoulder and walked back upstairs, jolting Isak out of his thoughts and conspiracies. Maybe he should come along; if he let loose a little, maybe it’ll be easier to remember and see who it was last night.

Just then, Jonas came down and looked at Even, smirking and pushing his matted hair back as he looked through the fridge for food. Even smiled and Jonas flipped him off, grabbing the milk and taking some cereal from the pantry.

“What did you guys find out? Did you see who it was?” Jonas said, not looking at either of them as he took a bowl from a cupboard. Isak shrugged, but realizing that Jonas couldn’t see him, spoke his mind instead.

“I don’t know. We didn’t really get far because things are still kind of hazy, but it couldn’t have been someone who was out smoking with you and Even. Honestly, the people that I can think of don’t seem to make sense in this situation. I mean, do you really think that Chris Berg would be able to do something like that?”

“Oh, is that the Yoplait girl?” Jonas asked, taking his bowl of cereal to the counter and beginning to eat next to Isak. The blonde nodded fervently, turning his body to face his friend. Jonas scrunched up his face, giving Isak a look.

“Of course she didn’t do it, you fucking egg,” he said, his mouth full of Fruity Pebbles. “Sana is a big maybe, she seems like the kind. But if you want to find out who did it, you need to use common sense. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to find jack-shit. Say it was someone like Emma or something like that. Could she overpower you? Sure, you’re really weak, but she wouldn’t do that because it’s a fucked-up thing to do. It’s common sense to ask for consent, Isak.”

“Then who’s unstable enough to do that? For all I know, it could’ve been someone I hardly talk to. It could’ve been anyone.”

Obnoxiously, Jonas picked up another spoonful of cereal and shoved it into his mouth. “Why would someone you don’t know do that to you? You’re a dumbass if you think it was a stranger. And who knows? I guess not everyone is what they seem to be, so you’ll learn about their true colors once you find out who it was.” He grins, suddenly excited. “Damn, I want to be there for the arrest. You deserve justice for whoever it was, Isak.”

Isak tried to be nonchalant about the matter, but failed as he stared at Jonas with a sober look in his eyes. “I don’t even know if I got raped, Jonas,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around himself. “I don’t know if I was hallucinating or if it was just me who took my own clothes off and decided to sleep in your bed. There are so many things I don’t know, and I hate the uncertainty of it. And if I’m wrong, someone could get falsely incriminated and it’ll be all my fault.”

“But you said that you saw someone lead you to the room, and so did Even. None of us know what happens after that, but we can imply what happens next.” He loudly slurped the remaining milk from his spoon, paying no mind to Isak’s annoyed stare. “Just know that if something like that did happen to you, I’m here for you. Seriously. I’ll kill the kid before they can get in the cop car because it’s only your third year of college and someone took advantage of you.”

“Thanks,” Isak said, giving Jonas a small side hug. Jonas leaned away from it and shot Isak an angry glare, but Isak had already moved on. He got up to stand, but Jonas stopped him before he could leave with a loud hum.

“You should check to see if you have any bruises on you. I didn’t see your body earlier because it was pretty dark, but go look.” With that, Jonas got up to wash his dishes and sent off Isak with a nod.

Eager, Isak ran straight to his bathroom, who he shared with William along with his room, and threw off the shirt that Jonas had lent him, and then proceeded to take off his pants. There wasn’t anything on his chest or on his stomach, nor his arms or legs. A relief fell over him as he continued to look and saw no signs of bruising anywhere. Who was he kidding? He didn’t get assaulted, he was just making a big deal out of everything. He threw the shirt back on and put the pants on as well, walking back down the stairs to tell Jonas what he found, or what he didn’t.

Upon getting back downstairs, he saw that Jonas wasn’t in the kitchen anymore, but Even was already outside, smoking his blunt. He ran after him, sliding the back-door open and calling out to him. Even turned around and smiled, already having a blunt ready for him. Joining him on one of the chairs, Isak took the blunt and picked up the lighter.

Right when he was about to light it up, Even blew out a puff of smoke, smiling and looking at Isak. “I think it might’ve been William. I mean, he’s the only one I could really find capable of doing that to anyone,” he said, the smells of marijuana slipping past his lips and filling Isak’s lungs. The smell was all too familiar, not because he’s done weed so many times before, but because of its association with an event. Suddenly, Isak halted in his actions, a wave of fear washing over him as a memory hit him with the force of a bullet.

They kissed his neck, his ear, anywhere their lips could reach, they went. The place they went for most was his lips. Rough and forceful, their lips mushed into his, leaving him gasping for air. But the whole time, Isak couldn’t stop thinking about how much their breath reeked of marijuana.

He froze, dropping the blunt onto the concrete. His throat constricted as the scene replayed in his mind over and over, paralyzing him more and more each second he kept thinking about it. There were so many thoughts running through his head, the main one being what the actual fuck?

“Isak?” Even called out to him, placing a hand on his shoulder and lightly shaking him. “What’s going on? Are you alright?”

Isak wanted to say no, that the memory had scared the living shit out of him. It had only proved that he was assaulted, that he didn’t just go to Jonas’s room and strip his clothes off. It proved that this was for real, that he actually was raped, and that someone could be going to jail for it. But the first thing out of his mouth was a breathless, “They were smoking.”

Confused, Even tilted his head. “What do you mean?”

“Whoever did it to me, they were smoking, “Isak repeated, looking Even in the eyes this time. “Their breath was full of it, I remember now. They…kept kissing me and…and…” he trailed off, waiting for the fear to subside. He wanted to smoke to calm down, but now with the smells of someone’s breath mixed with the substance were enough to keep him from picking up the blunt.

Even didn’t say anything for a second, but then nodded, “Isak, remember that there were other people smoking at the party, too. It wasn’t just our group.”

“So it could’ve been anyone,” Isak said, defeated. That memory still didn’t help, but now he knew that he could rule out everyone who it wasn’t.

“Hey, don’t give up. We can just stick to the people that we know we’re smoking and then take it from there. If we find out any more information, we can use that to lead us to someone. I guess more and more things are going to remind you of yesterday, so you should have your answer in no time.”

On that note of positivity, Isak nodded and shakily picked up the blunt, ignoring the fear and trepidation he was feeling. The reality was starting to sink in and weigh him down, but the least he could do to get over his worries and anxiety was just to smoke.

Even smiled encouragingly at the blonde and they both sat in silence, comfortable in the presence of each other and the peace of mind that settled down on them as the drugs kicked in.

Chapter Text

The two blondes spent the rest of the day talking and smoking, and Isak didn’t get another memory. That could’ve been partly blamed on the weed, but at the same time, he was glad that he didn’t have to deal with the fear and panic associated with the last one.

It had been so relaxing. Isak found it necessary to take his mind off the investigation even though they just started it. But for a long time, they sat out there and bonded over favorite movies, professors, classes, and anything else they could think of. Isak realized that they had a lot more in common than they originally thought. For instance, they both believed that country music was for degenerates.

If Isak had to be honest with himself, he would say that he wanted to do this again. He wanted to sit outside with Even and smoke the day away, talking about everything he usually couldn’t talk about with Jonas. It wasn’t that he didn’t like to talk to Jonas, but when it came to some things, Jonas could be somewhat condescending.

The next day when Isak went to go make breakfast for himself, he was surprised to see that many of the guys were downstairs, but Jonas was nowhere to be found. It was only Sunday, so there were no classes as far as Isak knew.

“Where’s Jonas?” He asked Eskild, continuing to search through the swarm of guys. Maybe he wasn’t up yet, or he was waiting to beat the morning rush.

“He went to the library to study. Says he has a huge test tomorrow and he really can’t afford the distractions.” The ginger stepped around Isak and took some bread out of the pantry.

That made sense. Maybe it was for his business class – Jonas was always complaining about how impossible it was. Good thing Isak was smart and decided to major in hospitality.

“Oh shit!” Isak exclaimed and rushed back upstairs to his room. Speaking of hospitality, he had an assload of homework that was due by tomorrow. Well, tonight by midnight to be exact. Several heads swiveled in his direction, confused at the sudden urgency he displayed, but Even was the only one that followed. He emerged from the crowd and followed his new friend up the wooden stairs.

“Is everything alright?” He asked as he watched Isak scramble for his laptop. He dropped it onto the bed and grabbed his bag, getting his folders.

“I forgot I had homework to do and I haven’t even started. Honestly, I don’t think I’m going to finish everything before midnight.” He opened the laptop and typed something in, then grabbed his papers. Even crossed his arms and smiled.

“I can help you if you need it,” Even said. “I heard the class isn’t too hard and I’m sure I can work on something while you’re working on something else.”

This made Isak freeze in his tracks. Okay, Even needed to slow down. Sure, they spent basically a whole day together, but he was being too generous. He narrowed his eyes at Even, cocking his head to the side. “Why do you want to help me?”

Even scoffed. “Don’t get so defensive, I just want to help. I don’t have anything better to do anyway, so the least I can do is help you.”

Isak still couldn’t get the notion that Even was the one who did it out of his head. Why else was he being so nice to him? Being nice was his way of rubbing what he did in Isak’s face. He wanted to see how long it took Isak to figure him out. And then what, was he going to do it again once Isak found out the whole truth?

But Isak really needed this work done, and the look on Even’s face did nothing to suggest that he was rubbing anything in his face. So Isak moved over to one side of the bed and patted the empty space next to him. Happily, Even sat down and stared at the computer.

“If you have your laptop, do you think you can type up an essay for me? I’ll send you the prompt.” Even nodded and dashed to his room, coming back only seconds later with his own laptop. He got back on his spot on the bed and logged in, smiling.

“See?” He said, stretching on the bed and grinning. “Now you’re going to finish so much faster, and it’s all because of me.”

Not sure what to say, Isak sat still for a moment. “You don’t have to help, you know. I’m sure you’re not even good at writing essays.”

Even mocked offense, his hand covering his opened mouth. “Are you seriously saying that to me? An English major? Isak, I live and breathe words. All you’re learning is how to be a hotel manager.”

At that, Isak had to laugh. Even was right, he knew what he was doing. So he went ahead and sent the prompt, and both of them got started. It was relatively quiet for about half an hour until Isak pulled out a pair of earbuds from his backpack. He turned to Even, dangling the white cords in the air. “Do you want to listen to some music?”

Even nodded and Isak plugged it in, looking for something that they would both like. When he put the music on shuffle, Even started bobbing his head to the first song that came on.

“This song played at the party,” he said. “I totally remember all of us singing it while we were smoking.”

Isak listened closely while Even continued to get more into the music. The song was catchy and had a nice beat to it, a song that was perfect for a party. Too bad he couldn’t remember it playing at all. He shook his head, and Even seemed to understand him. His attention drifted to Isak’s bag, and he noticed something poking out of the front pocket. He grabbed it and grinned when he saw it was a Tic-Tac box. Isak forgot that he had those, and he was worried that they were expired, but when he saw how little Even cared, his worry lessened slightly.

Even took some for himself and Isak did the same, with Even thanking him and going back to writing the essay. Isak put it into his mouth and let his tongue feel around it but halted when a chill ran across his spine.

“Put this in your mouth,” they said. Isak couldn’t pinpoint who’s voice it was, but it was too deep to be a girl’s. He stuck his fingers into Isak’s mouth and placed something inside; Isak could clearly remember the taste of dirt on his fingers. He closed Isak’s mouth for him as the blonde mumbled something incoherently, but the offender shushed him, placing his finger to Isak’s lips.

“You won’t feel a thing if you just take this,” he cooed, and Isak finally did as he was told. He moved his tongue around, feeling a capsule slowly making its way to the back of his throat. He swallowed it to avoid gagging, and relaxed. The rapist stroked his hair.

“Good job,” he murmured and kissed him again with the same force as before. As Isak’s eyes started to flutter shut, he could feel hands moving down his body until they reached his pants –

Isak spit out the mint and covered his face with both of his hands, knowing what was going to happen next. He didn’t need another memory to know that he was raped after that. He sniffed and kept the palms of his hands over his eyes, willing himself not to lose control.

Even was immediately there, placing a hand on Isak’s back and rubbing it ever so cautiously. He understood what happened so quickly, as if this was something ordinary. Isak knew that he was itching to know, and even though he wasn’t completely sure if he could confide in Even, he needed to tell someone and Even happened to be the closest.

“He handed me some kind of pill,” Isak said, breathing shallow. “It was like… he put it in my mouth and I swallowed it so I wouldn’t choke. I don’t know what it was, but he said if I took it, I wouldn’t feel a thing. I think I fell asleep after that.”

Even didn’t remove his hand but paused in his rubbing. “So it’s a guy. He must’ve handed you some kind of sedative – why else would you fall asleep? You probably went unconscious.” He huffed and sat up, running his finger through his hair as Isak watched him. “This is a lot more serious than I thought.”

“I passed out?” Isak asked in disbelief? If that was the case, how else was he going to remember what happened? He hoped that he didn’t go under, maybe he did just fall asleep.

Even gasped and hopped off the bed. “My meds are sedatives! Someone probably used my pills!” He pulled Isak off the bed and they went downstairs together, and Even opened the medicine cabinet and looked for his designated section. Surely enough, one of the pill bottles were laying on its side, and he picked it up.

“It’s not closed all the way,” Even said as he messed with the lid. “Someone definitely used these, but I haven’t told anyone about them.”

Confused, Isak gave him a weird look. “What do you mean? Why do you have sedatives anyway?”

Even closed the cabinet. “For my bipolar disorder. I haven’t really told anyone I have it or that I take medication for it, so how would he know about it?” He looked at the orange container in his hands. “I wish we could get fingerprints off of these, but it’s not like we work at the police department.”

If we took it to the police, the fingerprints would all point to you. The only person who knew about the sedatives was you, so it was you who put them in my mouth. Or it could really just be someone who knew about your disorder. Isak tried thinking of something to distract him from this crushing revelation, and thought of his next answer carefully. “I don’t want to take this to the police just yet,” Isak said, scratching the back of his neck. “But does anyone know that you’re bipolar?”

Nodding, Even stared hard at the container, but then shook his head. “I can’t think of anyone. Maybe someone was looking for some kind of sedative and came across mine.”

“Probably, but no one else takes sedatives, and we’ve been living together for quite some time. Someone had to know about this beforehand. Besides, if someone was just going through the medicine cabinet looking for pills, don’t you think someone would’ve stopped them or said something about it that morning? No one mentioned the medicine cabinet as far as I’m concerned, so whoever took them was stealthy and knew what they were looking for.”

He was making a valid point. So someone either knew about Even’s disorder or just knew that the pills were there. Either way, if they found the pills, they probably know about it now. He thought about taking what Even said seriously and trying to analyze the fingerprints on the bottle, but common sense stopped him. He sighed and closed his eyes, putting a hand to his head.

“It’s a dead end,” Isak said, climbing onto the kitchen stool and cradling his head in his hands. “There’s nothing we can do with this, it’s not enough to tell us who it was.”

Even stood opposite to him, leaning over the counter and staring intensely at Isak. “Not really. Don’t get frustrated so easily. Look.” He grabbed Isak’s wrists and gently yanked them away from his head, and Isak gave him a stressed look. Even gave him a reassuring grin in return, and began to explain. “I have an idea. We could find out who it is by setting up a trap. Someone who knows about this would probably react differently to me having an ‘episode’ than anyone else. We find that person who the trap works on, and then boom!” He claps his hands together, his grin turning into something more despicable. “We have your rapist.”

Isak sat there, processing the whole plan while looking at Even’s wicked grin. It could work, and the fact that Even thought about using human behaviors to set up his trap was brilliant. Why wasn’t he studying psychology? He could use that knowledge that he’s applying now to something greater, but Isak wasn’t the person to persuade him to change paths.

“I like that a lot,” Isak said slowly, a smile creeping onto his face as well. “But do you really think that it’s going to work? I mean, what if someone realizes what you’re up to and tries to undermine you?”

Even shrugged, standing up straight again. “It’s worth the risk. Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen? I’m willing to find out who did it, even if he does undermine me.”

Isak stood along with Even. “Are you sure you’re comfortable doing this? I mean, faking your mental illness or whatever to get information about someone?”

This time, Even gave him a weird look. “Why wouldn’t I be? You’re worrying too much. Come on, we need to make this plan better. But after we finish all your homework.” He started up the stairs, and Isak noticed that he had taken his pills with him. Suddenly energized again, Isak bounded up the stairs behind him, wanting to get his work over with so they could perfect their plan.

Chapter Text

The homework was finished in no time and the plan was ready. It came down to these major details: Even would go to the kitchen when it was the busiest and act like he usually would when he was manic. People who didn’t know about the medication wouldn’t think too much of it, but the one who knew about them would probably get nervous or anxious, asking if Even was okay and if he had taken his meds. They both thought it was a pretty good plan, and now all they could do it hope that it worked.

William came into the room a few minutes before they finished everything but plugged his headphones in as he drifted off to sleep. When Isak had packed away his school books, Even lied down on the bed, checking the time. It was only a few minutes after ten, but Even didn’t look ready to go back to his room.

“Do you want to watch a movie, or a TV show or something?” Isak asked, gesturing to his laptop. “We can get some snacks or whatever and we can watch.” He wasn’t sure why he was proposing that idea – he usually watched Netflix alone during these hours of the night. If he had to guess, he would say that it was because he didn’t want to be left alone right now. What if he got another memory while he sat in the dark by himself?

Thankfully, Even’s face lit up when he heard the idea. “Yea, why not? Did you have one in mind? I can go get the snacks while you choose.” He got up and started making his way to the kitchen, and Isak noticed how he was nearly skipping down the stairs.

The only thing Isak had in mind was The Office. They would probably have to start from the beginning if Even hadn’t watched it before, but that wasn’t much of a problem with Isak. Maybe Even would like it, too? Jonas never wanted to watch the shows that Isak liked, so maybe Even would think differently.

Isak got the computer ready and Even came back up with his hands full of popcorn, chips, and the like. He dumped them on the bed and got on, looking at the screen and reading the summary. “I heard that this show was good, but I never had the chance to watch it.”

Chuckling, Isak grabbed his favorite bag of chips from the pile and opened them. “I’m almost done with it, but we can start from the beginning if you want. Honestly, I’ve never laughed so hard at a show before.”

“Damn, should I be scared?” Even joked as Isak went to turn off the lights and close the door. He loved watching his shows in the dark, he just hoped that Even didn’t find it weird. Then again, why did he care about what Even thought? He should just do what makes him happy.

“Maybe,” Isak said cryptically. He started the first episode and they leaned against the headboard, eating snacks as the intro played. Isak was kind of excited to show this to someone else other than Jonas. He thought that it was stupid, and every time he caught Isak watching it, he would make some comment about it. But then again, Jonas watched some shows that Isak thought were stupid, so it made them pretty even.

Even seemed to be enjoying the show completely. He laughed at the jokes and smiled whenever Dwight came on screen – “the weird guy with the goggles” was what he called him. Isak completely agreed with him and loved how he finally found someone who enjoyed something he did.

Time flew faster than expected, and before they knew it, it was 2 in the morning and they had blown through around 10 episodes. They also somehow shifted from their sitting positions against the headboard to lying positions, with their faces in front of the laptop screen and Isak’s cover strewn over both of their bodies. It had gotten a little cold during their binge, so Isak felt that it made complete sense for them to be in a position like this. All the snacks had vanished, and the laptop was about to die – they had watched enough episodes for the night.

Isak closed his laptop but stopped when he heard a soft noise coming from beside him. When he looked over, he saw that Even was sleeping and that the soft noise being made was him snoring. He looked so…peaceful, vulnerable in this state. Isak wasn’t sure what to think, his eyes unable to shift away from the other blonde. Even’s lips were parted open slightly, and he looked so deep into his sleep that not even the fire alarm could awake him. He felt the slight urge to just sit beside him and continue watching him sleep, but he knew how creepy that would look if Even were to wake up, not to mention how creepy it sounded in general. He slowly got up from the bed and plugged in the computer, then got back to the bed and placed his head on his pillow, near the headboard and also near Even’s feet. Thankfully, they didn’t have a smell to them, but Isak did feel bad if Even got a whiff of his feet.

Almost immediately, Isak was able to fall asleep just as peacefully as Even had, ignoring the weird feeling that settled over him when he watched Even snore. He wondered what was going to happen tomorrow, when their plan went into action. He also wondered what would’ve been different if he hadn’t asked Even to stay over. Isak wasn’t sure, but he was just glad that things turned out the way that they did today. He didn’t feel so skeptical of Even anymore – how could someone as innocent as him do something so devious?

 

 

“Why was Even sleeping on your bed yesterday?” Jonas asked, munching on an apple during the breakfast rush. Isak shrugged, but his eyes shifted over to Even who was talking to Eskild. His expressions were animated as he talked to the ginger about whatever popped into his mind. He saw a few people looking over at him, and Elias even walked over to join the conversation. A smile played on Isak’s face and he turned back, drinking the rest of the orange juice in his cup.

Earlier, Isak was the first to wake up, and although he was tired, he knew that he had to get ready for his classes, and so did Even. He got up and yawned, still seeing that Even was still sprawled on the side of the bed. He shook him, feeling a pang of guilt for having to disturb his tranquil slumber.

Even had snorted and looked around, before his eyes met with Isak’s. He smiled sleepily and stood, stretching and putting his shoes on. “Sorry for taking over half of your bed. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”

Isak shook it off. It wasn’t a big deal, he actually liked the fact that he stayed over, but he wasn’t about to say that out loud. Instead, he said, “It’s fine, but we both have classes and you need to start working on the plan before it’s too late.”

The sleepy look in Even’s eyes disappeared as he remembered his classes. “Shit, you’re right! I guess I’ll talk to you later, then. Sorry again for taking over your bed.” Without waiting for Isak’s input, Even rushed out of the door and made his way to his room, shutting his door and getting ready. Isak was stunned but didn’t ponder on it too much on it. He needed to get ready for his hospitality class, too.

Jonas was still waiting for Isak’s response, looking at him impatiently as he thought of a way to tell Jonas everything without making it seem like it was something else. “He was helping me with my homework, and then we decided to watch some episodes of The Office. We fell asleep during it and that’s it. Why were you in my room, anyway?”

“I was going to ask if you still had my phone charger, but I stepped out when I saw that you weren’t the only one in the bed. But are you guys sure that you didn’t have sex or anything?” Jonas raised his eyebrows playfully while Isak looked away, flustered. “Come on, I know he’s gay, but you never told me that you liked guys. Wait, do you like guys?”

“No!” Isak immediately countered, looking Jonas directly in the eyes. “Why do you and Elias always assume that I’m gay?”

“Well, you’ve never had a girlfriend, you never kissed a girl, you like all the gayest songs, the list goes on. You just act like it.”

Defensively, Isak crossed his arms and looked at everyone who was getting ready to leave, Even being among them. “I’m not, so stop saying that I am. It’s annoying as hell.” Jonas was starting to piss him off, but this wouldn’t be the first time. Jonas always had a way of joking to an extent where Isak couldn’t take it anymore. He would walk away and try to avoid Jonas until he cooled down. Sometimes he wished that Jonas would be a little more sensitive to how Isak felt, and he didn’t care how dumb that sounded. His feelings mattered to him, and probably more than they should.

But Jonas just smirked as he threw away the remains of the apple away and grabbed his bag from the kitchen table. Isak followed and picked up his bag from the ground, glaring at Jonas. The raven didn’t say anything as he “accidentally” bumped into Isak’s shoulder and walked to the door, going out with all the other guys.

Isak hoped that Jonas grew up so that he didn’t have to deal with the stupid things he said and did. But even though Jonas got on Isak’s nerves and vice versa, they promised to each other that they were always going to be best friends, no matter what. Through thick and thin, they were there for each other.

He got into his small black Ford and closed the door behind him, checking his messages before he headed out with the rest of the guys. Besides all the notifications he received from social media, he received a text from Even that only caused for his heart to pick up its pace.

Someone fell into the trap!! I’ll tell you everything when we get back later on.

This was perfect. They caught the guy who did it, and Isak was finally going to be one step closer to getting closure. With a renewed energy, he started up his car and drove off to school, guessing for himself who it might’ve been. His bet was on Chris – he was definitely guilty, just look at him! He gave off the vibe that he could have anyone he wanted, even if it meant that he had to rape them in order to get them.

Isak thought back to what Jonas had said earlier. He was so sure that he was gay, but if it turned out to be Chris, then it was him who was the gay one. Well, maybe he was bisexual because Isak always saw him with girls. But then, if Chris raped him, did that make Isak gay, too? He shook his head. He needed to stop asking stupid questions, but he couldn’t help but wonder. If he wasn’t forced, or if he was just drunk and in a good mood, would he have gone through with it? Would he allow Chris to kiss him and pull down his pants and everything? The fact that Isak couldn’t say yes to that question made him uncomfortable. Thinking back to when Even stayed over, he wanted to know what was that weird feeling he felt when he watched him sleep? It wasn’t the first time he felt it, but it wasn’t under a circumstance like this. He knew that he enjoyed his time with Even and kind of liked the fact that he stayed and slept on his bed like it was his own, but it didn’t mean Isak liked him like that. So that still begged the question – was he really gay?

If he kept trying to answer that question, he was going to end up in a car crash. He stopped thinking about it and focused his mind on the road ahead, not letting any thoughts distract him again.

Chapter Text

“Okay, so are you sure that you want to know who it is?”

Exasperated, Isak rolled his eyes. “Yes, Even. Just tell me already!”

Isak was sitting on his bed while Even stood, arms crossed and face determined. They had been waiting to meet all day – Even had to wait an extra hour for Isak to get some supplies for his classes, and by the time they reached the frat house, many of their roommates were already home. Thankfully, Isak’s roommate was still in class, so they had time to talk.

Even was about to drop the name when someone walked in unannounced, hands in pockets and a stern expression on his face. “Isak, I need my damn charger. Now,” Jonas growled and started rummaging through Isak’s school bag, pulling out a damaged cable and its cube counterpart. He was about to walk out away when he looked between the two, his expression changing completely. “Wait, are you guys talking about the rapist? Did you find out who it was?”

“Even was about to tell me before you walked in, but yea, I think we found out who it was.” Jonas walked over and sat beside Isak, looking at Even with expectant eyes.

Even sighed and clasped his hands together. “While I was talking to everybody, I got mostly the same reaction, but then there was one person who acted different from the norm, just like we expected. And you’ll never believe who it was…”

“Magnus?” Jonas asked, tilting his head. Isak turned and shook his head, a quizzical expression on his face.

“I honestly thought it was Chris,” he admitted, and Jonas nodded in understanding. But they were both taken by surprise when Even shook his head, his smile getting bigger.

“Dude, just say it. Your smile’s as big as your forehead at this point,” Jonas commented, earning a snicker from Isak. Now it was Even’s turn to roll his eyes.

“It was William who acted differently! Honestly, I would’ve guessed Chris, too, so I was surprised when I found out that it was William.”

Jonas and Isak sat still for a minute, trying to process it. William? It could’ve been him, but at the same time, it didn’t seem like it. He was too calm – he didn’t really seem like that kind of person. And yea, they knew that William could have an aggressive side to him if provoked, but would he really do something as deviant as rape?

“What happened?” Jonas asked, and Isak was glad that he did. He was at a loss for words right now.

“So, I went and I started talking to everyone acting like I was manic, just like the plan said, and everyone just gave me a weird look. Yea, one or two people asked if I was okay, but it was nothing major. But then William joined the conversation and I started talking to him, and after rambling for about 4 minutes, he pulled me aside and asked if I was okay. I told him that I never felt better, and then he narrowed his eyes. Get this – he asked if I took my meds this morning, and not in that condescending way that pricks do sometimes, but in that concerned way, like he knew what was going on. I told him that I didn’t, and he said that I should before I have an episode, then he looked at me for a little before walking away. Anyway, it was really weird, but I’m pretty sure it was him. No one else could’ve known about my pills or episodes like that. He’s not majoring in that subject, so we can’t say that it was because he learned about it.”

Isak held his hands firmly together, trying to imagine William pulling his pants down. He swallowed thickly, shaking that image out of his head. There were so many problems with him being the one to do the deed. “Wait,” he said, his voice shaky and hesitant. “I’m sure he has a girlfriend, and it was someone who was smoking. William wasn’t smoking with you guys that night.”

Jonas laughed. “Are you that obtuse? We all know that William doesn’t have a girlfriend. Do you see how many girls he sleeps with on a daily basis? And he could’ve been smoking with another group of people or something.”

Much to Isak’s disappointment, Even laughed along with Jonas, not noticing the look that Isak was giving him. “That’s true. But whatever the case might be, I honestly think it was William. No one else could’ve known about the pills. There’s no way.”

“Someone could’ve come across them when you weren’t paying attention,” Isak said pointedly at Even, his gaze turning into a glare. “While someone was looking for their vitamins, they could’ve come across yours and read the label.”

“If that was the case, then someone else would’ve reacted the same way that William did, or at least show some sort of concern. And I don’t think William has vitamins. Besides, you would kind of have to understand what the medication was for in order to use it. It doesn’t just say ‘bipolar medication’ on the label.”

Isak shrugged, giving up on trying to fight back. He wasn’t sure if it was William – they were roommates that hardly talked. It was downright creepy to know that someone quiet and indifferent to him would’ve done something like that. William never showed any kind of romantic interest for Isak, so why would he decide to drug and take advantage of him?

Jonas checked his phone, then stood. “I need to get back to the library. If you find something out, text me, Isak.” He slapped the blonde on the shoulder and waved to Even before walking out. Even waved back before looking down at an annoyed Isak, mimicking his expression to the best of his ability. “What’s wrong?”

Shaking his head, Isak stood and walked over to grab his laptop. “Nothing. Jonas just pisses me off sometimes.”

Even tilted his head, confused. “What does he do?”

“Like, he’s constantly saying shit. It’s not like I don’t do it to him, too, but he just does it too much. It’s annoying when someone keeps making fun of you. Like yesterday, he kept saying that I was –” Isak stopped in his tracks, not wanting to say too much. His heart was racing as he felt Even’s eyes on him.

“Kept saying that you were what?”

Isak shook his head, throwing the computer on the bed and opening it. Even’s eyes didn’t leave him, and Isak could practically hear the gears turning in his head. Thankfully, he didn’t prod any further, but joined Isak on the bed. “Are we going to confront him?”

“I think we should. I don’t want to deal with this anymore, and if William’s the one, his ass deserves to be in jail.”

Even sighed, rolling on his back as he looked up at the ceiling. “Did it hurt when he did it?”

“I don’t remember,” Isak admitted, although he thought the answer to that would’ve been obvious. Even didn’t ask any more questions, but Isak was sure that he was wondering what he was going to ask William. He was scared of how it was going to go down, but if he wanted justice for what was done to him, this needed to be done.

 

 

The two blondes waited for the time to ambush William, and when he finally did arrive, he narrowed his eyes at them as they stared at him pointedly. “Do you guys need something?”

Isak stood, hoping that William couldn’t sense how nervous he was. “How did you know about Even’s meds and why did you have them the night of our frat party?”

William had never looked so confused before. “What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t touch anyone’s damn meds.”

It was Even’s turn to stand and take a shot at the Penetrator. “You know exactly what he’s talking about. Why were you asking me if I took my meds this morning when I never told you about them? I never told anyone about them.”

William paused, thinking deeply. After what had to be an agonizing moment, the switch in William’s head finally clicked. His face contorted to one of annoyance as the gears continued to turn. “I was saying that because you were all over me this morning!”

“Then why were you so concerned about me having another episode? How did you even know that I had episodes? Only people who look at the meds and do some research know that it’s for bipolar people.”

“I never said you were bipolar,” William replied defensively, putting his hands up. “Look. Whoever you’re looking for, it’s definitely not me.”

“Then just tell us why you were worried about me having an episode. Because it’s kind of weird that you said that.”

William looked from Even to Isak, who was sitting on the bed with his arms crossed, patiently waiting for an answer. Finally, the Penetrator gave in and he sighed. “Fine. It’s not that hard for me to notice those kinds of things because my brother is a psychopath. I know it’s kind of weird, but I looked up his condition and some others. I’ve seen the way you act before and it just seems like you have something.”

The two blondes stared at William, dumbfounded. Isak was the one to speak. “So, you only mentioned the meds just because you thought he was psychotic? You didn’t know about them at all?”

William shook his head, crossing his arms. “No. Why does it matter anyway? Did something happen?”

Even looked at Isak, who was pleading with his eyes not to tell William. The last thing he needed was for another person to know that he was raped. Even looked back at William, a sorry smile on his face. “Don’t worry about it, but thanks for telling us.”

William shrugged and walked past them, laying down on his bed and plugging in his headphones. Isak closed his laptop and put his phone in his pocket. “Can we go to your room?”

Even nodded and then walked to his empty room, closing the door behind them as Isak sat down on the bed. He started to bite his nail, thinking. William’s story appeared legitimate, but if he believed everything everyone said, then they would never find out who the culprit was. The thing that he hated the most was that they hadn’t gotten anywhere with their plan. They thought it worked but it didn’t. How many other times were they going to try and get answers, only to come up empty?

“Are you okay, Isak?” Even asked, taking a few steps closer to the bed and sticking his hands into his pockets. Isak shook his head, standing and brushing past Even as he began to pace the room.

“Of course I’m not fucking okay,” Isak snapped, taking his finger out of his mouth. “I thought we actually figured out who it was, Even! We could’ve been done with this and gotten closure by now! But we didn’t, so how many times are we just going to keep hitting a dead end? I don’t want to keep trying only to have my hands empty in the end!”

“Isak, calm down!” Even yelled, going to Isak and grabbing him by his shoulders. Isak’s face was red and his eyes were narrowed. “Look, as time goes on, you might get more memories, and I can think back to that night and give you information that might be important.”

“How am I going to remember anything? He gave me a fucking sedative! I was probably unconscious for the rest of the night! How am I going to remember anything if I was unconscious? And you probably won’t be able to help because you were outside the whole time!”

“We don’t know if you were unconscious, and you said that the rapist was a smoker, so I can at least help with that part. There are so many parts of this that we haven’t looked into, and once we go through everything, this will become so much easier. Look, we’re going to find out who it is, and you’re going to get justice for it. I can ask around and we can write down what we know and possibilities, and that’ll make it so much easier to do this. We’ll Sherlock Holmes this shit. I swear on my life, Isak, we’re going to fucking find who did it.”

Isak was about to protest, but as he heard Even’s last words, he closed his mouth. A defeated expression came upon his face and he looked down at his shoes, quiet. Even wasn’t sure what to do, but he wanted to comfort Isak, so he did the first thing that came to his mind.

Even leaned in and gave Isak a hug, wrapping his arms around him and holding his breath, hoping that this was okay. Isak went rigid for a moment, keeping his eyes trained to the ground, before leaning in and returning the hug. He held onto Even tightly, not wanting him to let go. For some reason, he believed Even – the determination in his voice and the fierceness in his eyes were enough to tell Isak that they were going to get to the bottom of this mystery.

There was something about the way Even talked about this mystery that made Isak trust him. He didn’t just brush this aside, and he was actually dedicated to helping. If he was the one who did it, then why would he be sound so fixated on this? Why would he pull him into a hug?

It couldn’t have been Even, and knowing that made Isak lean into him more. Sure, Jonas cared about this mystery too and believed Isak when he said that he was raped, but he wasn’t as dedicated as Even was. Isak knew that he wasn’t the rapist either – just because he wasn’t as dedicated didn’t mean that he didn’t care – but he never received hugs like this from Jonas. When he did, they were really rare.

Isak had to admit that it felt good to literally lean on someone when the stress was becoming too much. He knew that he could come to Even when he couldn’t handle it anymore, and that was why Isak considered him to be a really good friend.

But of course, all good things must come to an end, and the two separated from their embrace. Isak turned his blushing face away from Even, feeling embarrassed that Even had to practically pull himself away from him. Isak was about to say thanks when Even patted him on the shoulder, grabbing a notebook and pen. He got onto the bed and motioned for Isak to come over. “Let’s write down everyone who was smoking, then cross out who it can’t be. I’ll try to tell you everything that happened and you’ll write it down, and in the end, we can try and see what we can make from that.”

Isak nodded, liking the sound of that. “Okay. Who did you say it was again?”

“So it was me, William’s friend, Jonas, Elias, Vilde, Sana, Chris, Magnus, and Mahdi. I’m sure of that now.” He watched as Isak scribbled that down and silently urged him to continue. “I had a few drinks with William’s friend and after a while, we got pretty bored and decided to go outside and smoke. Jonas, Elias and the rest got curious and wanted to join, so we let them. We talked a lot of shit and got really high. Jonas dropped his blunt in the grass and Elias, Chris, Magnus and I helped him look for it. Mahdi couldn’t handle the weed anymore and he wanted to go back to the party, so Jonas and Elias tried convincing him to stay. But Mahdi ended up having a mini freak out and Jonas finally went and took him back inside. Neither of them came back, and eventually, Elias, Magnus, Vilde, and Chris left. So it was just me, William’s friend, and Sana. The rest doesn’t really seem relevant…”

Isak took a few more minutes to write the rest of the story down and set aside the important details. When he was finished, he looked up at Even. “Why did Chris, Vilde, Magnus, and Elias leave?”

“I don’t know. I think Elias went to go find Jonas, and William said that Eva was looking for Chris. Magnus and Vilde were hooking up, of course.”

Isak chuckled a little at that, but wrote it down. If that was the case, then Magnus was most likely fooling around with Vilde for the rest of the night. It couldn’t have been him then.

“That leaves Elias, Chris, and even Mahdi. It couldn’t have been Magnus because he was hooking up with Vilde.”

“If we go and ask Mahdi, we can find out what he did after that and see if he’s telling the truth.”

“And then we can do the same with Elias and Chris,” Isak replied, a smile creeping up on his face. Even nudged him playfully, laughing.

“See? I told you that this was going to get easier,” Even chimed, rolling over onto his back and looking at the ceiling. “We’re going to find this out in no time. But let’s take a break, huh? I’m exhausted.”

Isak grinned, rolling over so that he was looking at the ceiling along with Even. They sat there quietly, just relishing in the presence of each other. Or at least, that was what Isak was doing. He couldn’t get over how easy Even made it, and his determination was admirable. The only thing that he found weird was that he longed for another hug from Even. Well, it probably wasn’t too weird – Isak loved hugs from anyone – but Even was the only one he felt comfortable enough to hug right now. Surely he wouldn’t care if Isak gave him another hug before they separated, right?

What the hell was he thinking? What if Jonas or Elias or someone saw them hugging? Anyone at the frat house would say that Isak was gay, and that bothered him more than anything. It bothered him because he wasn’t gay, or at least he didn’t think he was. Why did it matter if he was gay or not anyway? Why was it such a big deal? What did any of them have against gay people? If Jonas really was his best friend, he wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it.

Something Jonas told him came back to his head and he paused his thoughts for a second. He had said that on the night of the party, Even was unable to look away from Isak. However, when Isak asked Even, he said that he hadn’t seen Isak and didn’t know where he was most of the night. Who did Isak believe? Should he try asking?

“Hey uh,” Isak started awkwardly, clearing his throat. Even turned his head and stared at Isak as he thought of the best way to ask the question. “So you said that you didn’t know where I was most of the night, right?”

“Yea, why?”

Isak froze for a second, fear crushing him as a scenario played in his head.

“Jonas told me that you wouldn’t stop looking at me the whole night,” Isak would say, his eyes locked with Even’s. “How could that be possible if you didn’t know where I was?”

Even would be at a loss for words. He wouldn’t know what to say, and Isak’s eyes would widen as he came to a realization.

“You’re the one who did it, aren’t you?” Isak would come off the bed and back away, and Even’s eyes would narrow as he followed Isak to the walk, pinning him against it. He would threaten him by saying, “If you tell anyone it was me, I’ll kill you before you have a chance to go to the cops.” Of course, Isak would then have no choice but to stay silent and live in fear for the rest of his life.

But he already came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Even, so why was his mind coming up with something else? More questions were being created than answered, and Isak didn’t like it at all. This was supposed to be simple, but now it felt like a mess.

“Isak? Did you have a question?” Even asked, appearing confused. Isak swallowed and looked at him right in the eyes, daring himself to maintain eye contact with him. But as he opened his mouth to speak, the words wouldn’t come out. For a reason he couldn’t explain, he as terrified to ask.

He looked away from Even and back to the ceiling, trying to calm himself down. He should just leave it alone and stop accusing Even of something he didn’t do. “Nothing, I forgot.” He sat up suddenly, brushing a strand of hair away from his face. Even widened his eyes and sat up, staring at Isak intensely as the shorter boy got off of the bed.

“Are you sure? That didn’t seem like nothing.” Even looked worried, and he got off the bed to get closer to Isak. But Isak smiled and shook off the fear he felt earlier. He really needed to find out who it was, or else he was going to end up blaming an innocent person for the rest of his life.

“Yea, sorry. I thought I was going to have a memory but I guess I didn’t. I forgot my question though, so I’ll ask when I remember.” He tried to look as nonchalant as possible, and he guessed that it worked, since Even gave him a sympathetic smile.

“I get it. If you do have another one, you know that you can tell me, right?” He took a few steps closer to Isak until they were merely inches apart, and in the sincerest voice, Even whispered, “But are you sure that there isn’t anything you want to tell me?”

Isak shook his head, grateful for another confirmation that Even actually cared about him. He opened his arms, inviting Even in for another hug. “You know that you’d be the first person I’d tell if I have another memory.”

Even beamed, leaning into the hug and squeezing Isak. “You’re the fucking best, Isak,” he laughed, and Isak joined in, resting his head on Even’s shoulder. Fortunately, Even didn’t seem to mind and didn’t say anything about it.

At this point, Isak made up his mind about two things – first, Even wasn’t his rapist, and second, he needed to get his thoughts and feelings sorted out before he became even more confused. Because if one thing was for sure, he didn’t know how to feel around Even. It could’ve been the hug that made him feel this way, but the last thing he wanted to do was remove himself from Even’s safe arms.

Chapter Text

Several hours had passed by since they went to Even’s room and discussed their next moves. Even had declared that they take a break, only meaning for it to last an hour. Instead, it stretched on from one hour, to two, until it was nearly midnight and they found themselves in the same scenario as yesterday, the only difference being which room they were residing in. They were watching shows on Isak’s laptop again, but this time, Even didn’t fall asleep. He was wide awake, and Isak couldn’t help but notice that Even was stealing glances at him the whole time.

He could barely get his eyes off of you the whole night. Isak pushed that thought out of his head as he confronted Even, laughing rather uncomfortably. “Why are you looking at me like that?” He asked, the temperature in the room suddenly climbing several degrees.

Even joined into the laughter. “I was just wondering…you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but you don’t seem fazed by the fact that you were raped. I mean, that’s pretty traumatic, so shouldn’t you at least feel traumatized?”

Isak wanted to laugh again, but he feared that he would make things too awkward. “I guess reality hasn’t really sunken in that much. But when I start to remember things, that’s when it feels...real.”

Nodding in understanding, Even turned to lay on his side, smiling lazily. Isak noticed how close they were but decided that it was best not to comment on it. As Even stared, he couldn’t stop thinking about what Jonas said about Even, how he couldn’t keep his eyes off of him. If he wasn’t the rapist, then it shouldn’t be a problem for Isak to ask, right? He shouldn’t chicken out on the question like he did earlier because he was better than that. He trusted Even.

Without a second thought, he blurted out, “Jonas told me that the night that it happened, you couldn’t get your eyes off of me. But…you said that you didn’t know where I was the whole night. What’s that all about?”

The smile came clean off of Even’s face as Isak awaited an answer. He hesitated for a moment, seeming confused before he shifted on the bed uncomfortably, stuttering a response. “W-when did he say that?”

“He said it the morning after it happened. I didn’t ask until now because…I don’t know, I wanted to hear your side of the story first before I said anything. I wanted to know if it’s true or not. And if it is true, then why were you watching me?”

Isak watched as Even’s face went from pale to bright pink. His heart picked up in its pace as he sat up, pressing pause on the laptop. He was so sure that Even was going to say that he was the one who did it, and the blood rushed to his ears as Even sat up to face him.

“You’re going to think I’m some sort of creep for saying this,” Even started, chuckling nervously. “But I wanted to talk to you. Whenever I saw you, I tried thinking of ways to stop you so that I could talk to you, ask if you wanted a smoke, I don’t know. So I keep staring so that I could see where you were going and follow you there. It’s stupid.” By the time he had finished trying to explain himself, his cheeks had gone from bright pink to a vibrant red. Isak was glad that Even didn’t admit to being the rapist, but he was still confused about one little thing.

“Why would you want to talk to me?” Isak asked, almost laughing at how absurd he sounded. His only true friend was Jonas before the party, and it just so happened that Even wanted to be his friend too? What did he do to garner his attention? Besides going to his classes and doing a few things here and there with Jonas, he was practically a shut-in.

Even sounded exasperated as he drew out a long sigh, looking up at Isak, annoyed. “Are you really going to ask me this? It’s pretty obvious that I don’t have friends or anyone to talk to in this damn frat house, so why is it suddenly a crime to talk to you?”

“I’m not saying it’s a crime,” Isak corrected. “It just doesn’t make sense. There’s so many other people you could’ve tried and talked to, so why did you choose me?”

Shrugging, Even looked away. “You seemed the nicest out of everyone else. Well, I knew that for a fact. The night of the party wasn’t the first time I’ve been watching you, but it was probably the first time I was caught.”

The urge to laugh was beginning to dissipate as Isak saw how serious Even was about this. “If you were watching me the whole night, then why didn’t you stop whoever it was who…hurt me? Why did you let him take me inside the room?”

Isak didn’t fail to notice the slight hesitation in Even’s voice as he answered. “You guys were upstairs, and I was downstairs. I walked away before you guys actually went into the room.”

Isak couldn’t help but sound hurt as he whispered, “Why did you walk away?”

“Because I was jealous.”

“Jealous? Jealous of what, that it wasn’t you who took me into that room and raped me?” Isak could feel his body begin to tingle in rage as Even looked at him like a kicked puppy. Was he doing it to spite him, because if he didn’t wipe that look off of his face, Isak was sure to lunge at him and throw a punch square in his fucking eye –

“No! I was jealous of how happy you looked with him!” Even blurted out, more concerned with diffusing Isak’s rage rather than being cryptic with his responses. “You were smiling and laughing uncontrollably when you were with him and I don’t know, I felt stupid for trying to talk to you after all this time. You seemed like you really wanted to be with him.”

At a loss for words, Isak felt his anger dwindle away. Even had mentioned that the first time that they talked. How could he had forgotten so quickly? But why was he so willing to go with him?

Suddenly, Isak froze as he realized that he was completely missing the point that Even was trying to make. Being so invested in trying to get a straight answer to his question, he was completely disregarding the message behind Even’s words. He was jealous that Isak appeared to be having a good time with some other guy, and he was staring at him the whole night, trying to find an excuse to talk to him. Isak couldn’t believe how oblivious he had been the whole time, and his voice reflected how startled he was. “Do you…like me or something?”

Even nodded sheepishly, refusing to make eye contact. Isak wasn’t so sure why he was so surprised, he knew that Even liked guys, but he was stunned that he liked him. Out of everyone else in the frat house, Even chose him to have a crush on. Isak suddenly felt self-conscious as he stared at Even, trying to understand him. He wasn’t all that bad looking anyway; he had a nice face and he gave good hugs, so Isak didn’t find this to be necessarily to be a bad thing.

Now he was thrown off. He had forgotten the whole point of the conversation in general as they sat in an awkward silence. Even didn’t look like he was about to say anything anytime soon, so Isak broke the silence by saying, “I’m glad you told me.”

Even looked confused, his face a blushing mess as he finally made eye contact. “Don’t you like girls?” Judging from the tone of his voice, Isak could tell that he really hoped Isak wasn’t just playing around with his feelings.

“Yea. No. I don’t know.” Isak scratched the back of his neck, thinking back to the time he was dating Emma. He never told anyone this, but he never felt anything between them. There were no sparks when they kissed or heart racing in his chest. It like nothing special was happening at all. Maybe he would feel something with Even…?

All of a sudden, Isak was starting to notice all the things about Even that he hadn’t really thought about before, like how full his lips were and how nice his eyes looked. Why wasn’t he dating anyone – with looks like his, he could probably get anyone he wanted. Isak began to wonder whether Even wasn’t dating anyone because he was focused on Isak, and if that was the case, Isak would still be okay with it. Why am I so accepting all of a sudden? he asked himself as he nervously scratched the back of his neck.

The tension in the room was becoming thicker by the second, and Isak was certain that Even was going to lean in and kiss him. He wasn’t sure how to feel if he were to do so, but a wave of adrenaline hit him as he anticipated it. Even looked at him as if to say is it okay if I kiss you? Isak barely nodded his head, licking his lips subconsciously. If anything, this was going to be his first kiss with a guy, but that didn’t necessarily mean that he was gay, right? He was just testing the waters, seeing if kissing Even was any different from kissing Emma. Jonas and Elias had probably done something like that when they were drunk or behind closed doors, so it shouldn’t matter if Isak did a little experimenting of his own.

Even was mere inches from his face, their lips about to connect. He had closed his eyes and Isak followed suit, tilting his head ever so slightly as everything around him seemed to disappear. He knew that he probably shouldn’t rush into a relationship so soon after everything that happened to him, but he couldn’t help but want to kiss the one person who had been there for him through it all. It wasn’t like this was going to lead to a relationship anyway, but he was thinking in general. Going into a relationship now just wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

“Isak!” Someone called from down the hallway and Isak jumped, nearly falling off the edge of Even’s bed. He was almost dizzy from the adrenaline that was pumping through his blood, his head twisting in perfect timing with Even’s to face the person to called him.

Jonas appeared at the door, about to say something but stopped midway. “Why do you guys look so guilty?” He asked, squinting suspiciously at the two, Even longer than Isak. He shook his head, dismissing his own question. “Isak, come here. I need to tell you something.”

Isak nodded, not even looking back at Even as he followed Jonas out the room. The raven lead him down a long hallway far away from Even’s room, and just as he was about to ask why, Jonas whispered, “Listen, I think it was Even who did it.”

“Why?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out, but I don’t know for sure. Look, hadn’t it occurred to you that maybe Even was just being nice to you so that you wouldn’t find out that it was him? He was practically watching you the whole night, Isak. Why would he be watching you like a hawk if it wasn’t to find you and pin you down when you least expected it?”

Because he had feelings for me, Isak wanted to say, but thought better of it. Jonas would be the first to judge if he heard Isak say that, so telling Jonas was out of the window. Instead, he swallowed and said, “I don’t know, but I don’t think it was him, Jonas.”

“He’s getting to your head, Isak!” He replied, raising his voice but keeping it a whisper. “That’s exactly what he wants to do to you. Take advantage of you and then when you can’t remember, he plays it off and wants to help you find the culprit when it’s really him all along!”

“Jonas! Believe me, it’s not him, okay? Trust me on this one, it can’t be him, it just can’t be.”

“Well then tell me. What did he say he was doing when it all happened?”

“He was smoking outside with some girls. He said you and other people were there, but you guys all left.”

“Did he see you go into the room before it happened?”

“Yea, but he didn’t see who it was.”

Jonas face-palmed himself, groaning loudly as Isak looked at him in confusion. “Isak, you’re a fucking idiot. How the hell could he be watching you go inside the room when he was outside smoking with his friends? He’s lying to you Isak! Why can’t you understand that?”

Isak opened his mouth to defend Even, but surprisingly came up short. He closed his mouth as he thought about it and realized that Jonas was right. If he was outside smoking, then how could he have seen Isak go inside the room? How would he even know what the guy was wearing? What part was he lying about?

His chest constricted as he thought back to a few minutes ago and how he nearly kissed Even. What if it was him all along? He remembered how his offender practically mushed his lips against his own, but that didn’t seem like Even, right?

Why was he doubting him now? Even had just told him everything, admitted his feelings to him. It was going to devastate him if Isak accused him of being a rapist, and Isak wasn’t sure if he wanted to lose him so soon. If he was lying, Isak was going to find out why, but it wasn’t because he was a rapist.

So Isak shook his head, turning to make his way back to the room. “Whatever, I’ll talk to him and find out what he’s lying about. But I promise you, it’s not him.”

As he walked down the hallway, he could hear Jonas call after him, “I really hope you’re right, Isak.” The blonde tried his best to ignore him, but deep down, he really hoped that he was right, too.

He made his way back to the room, overcome with emotion. All the things that Jonas had said to him were beginning to have an effect on him, and Isak wanted so badly to believe that Even wasn’t his rapist, and he was going to prove it to himself before he proved it to anyone else.

“Isak?” Even asked when he saw how determined he looked as he made a straight beeline for the taller blonde on the bed. Unexpectedly, Isak gently cupped his hands onto Even’s face and kissed him, not caring that the door was open and that anyone out there could see them. Even didn’t push him away, instead melting into it. Isak was so sure that he could feel Even smiling underneath it all, and that made Isak smile himself. If he was right about one thing, he was right about this: kissing Even felt right, much more right than kissing Emma or any other girl he had ever kissed.

He pulled away after he ran out of breath. Even laughed as he looked at him, eyes twinkling in joy. Isak couldn’t help but admit to himself that he liked seeing that look in Even’s eyes, so pure and heartwarming. “What was that for?” Even asked coyly, swiping at his lip with his thumb.

Isak punched him gently on his shoulder, sitting on the bed and resting against the headboard. “Shut up, you know exactly what that was for.”

“Did you really mean it though? Or was that just to make me feel better?”

His words stung a little, but Isak understood why he asked. Nodding, he replied, “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t mean it.” And he really did mean it. Jonas could say whatever he wanted about Even, but if one thing was for certain, he was wrong and Even was innocent. He just really hoped that this didn’t ruin his friendship with Jonas, although this newfound fondness of Even would surely cause a strain if he were to find out.

They spent the rest of the night sitting and watching episodes of The Office, sitting closer than they usually did. Isak leaned against Even’s shoulder, comfortable under the sheets that Even had thrown over them. He could get used to this. Listening to Even’s laugh and hearing just how genuinely happy he sounded when he talked about the characters was practically music to Isak’s ears.

They shared one last kiss goodnight before Isak went back to his room, pondering the whole way over. What did this mean for him? He felt conflicted – only a few days ago, he was so sure that he didn’t like guys, and now he was kissing one he just met? Sure, they lived together for a while now, but they hardly even noticed each other. It was almost as if he wasn’t controlling his body, rather letting his emotions take over him and not letting his brain have a say in anything at all. Now Isak wasn’t sure how to feel or what to feel.

Maybe he should stop caring about what Jonas and Elias said. They might think that gay people are losers, but just because they thought so didn’t mean that Isak had to agree with them. He needed to stand up for himself and realize that it was okay if he wanted to kiss Even again and get closer to him. As long as he was happy, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. He climbed into his bed with a smile on his face, looking forward to tomorrow.

Chapter Text

“You should’ve stayed in my room last night,” Even sang as Isak gathered his things up for class. They had both forgotten that they had classes, and Isak was somewhat scared at how normal things still felt. Sometimes he still felt as if nothing had happened, but his somewhat-muddled feelings for Even was a testament to the fact that something had definite went down.

At that Isak chuckled, putting his laptop in his bag and throwing it over his shoulder. “I didn’t want to take things too fast. And I don’t know if I’m too comfortable with it because of…you know…”

“It’s not taking things too fast. I mean, sure, we might’ve kissed for the first time last night –”

“Even! William’s in the bathroom right there,” Isak shushed him, shooting him a glare. He was about to walk out the door to head to his class when Even stopped him, placing his hands on his shoulder.

“Why does it matter if he knows or not? Why does it matter if anyone knows or not?”

Shrugging, Isak looked away, suddenly feeling flustered and guilty. “Because…I don’t know, I have friends who make fun of gay things…and stuff.” Isak wasn’t even sure if he was gay or not. The kiss with Even still might’ve been a one-time thing, although he doubted it.

It caught Isak off by surprise when Even sighed heavily. “You mean Jonas and Elias. Isak, what does it matter to you what they think?”

“Jonas has been my best friend since we were kids, and Elias likes to tag along sometimes. It’ll be hard to do anything with them if they kept making fun of me because we kissed each other. And…it’ll hurt a lot.”

Nodding in sympathy, Even moved his hands from Isak’s shoulders. “I get what you mean. But I’m sure if they do find out, they’ll be accepting of you. If you guys were friends for that long, then Jonas is bound to be understanding.”

Isak grinned at the words of encouragement, and leaned in to give Even a kiss, finding even more comfort in his lips than his words. He could feel Even release a breath of amusement through his nose and it caused Isak to start laughing. “I have to go,” he said in between chuckles and gave Even a hug before walking out of the room, going through the kitchen to get to his car outside.

When he arrived at the parking lot, he heard a familiar voice shout his name. Isak had to turn around several times before he heard the voice yell, “Isak, you dumb whore. Look to your fucking left!”

That was, without a doubt, Jonas’s impatient voice. Isak huffed in exasperation as he made his way to Jonas’s white car, hissing, “Jonas, people are still asleep. Are you trying to get us killed?”

“You’re overreacting. Get in the car, I’m taking you to your classes today,” he said, unlocking the doors and waiting for the blonde to get in. Isak found this to be a little weird – it was rare for Jonas to offer him a ride on a whim, unless Isak really needed one, and even still Jonas didn’t want to give him one.

He couldn’t help but ask, “I can drive myself, why are you offering me a ride?” Jonas pulled out of the parking space as Isak put his seatbelt on. The raven didn’t respond, and Isak gave him a look, waiting for an answer.

“Jonas?” He asked when they passed his classes. “Jonas, you said you were taking me to my classes, you passed the school –”

“I need to talk to you.”

Isak felt his heart quicken when he heard Jonas’s serious tone. It sent a chill down his spine, as Jonas wasn’t very serious about anything. Every once in a while, when they were high, they would have some serious discussions. But now, Jonas was sober, and this was kind of coming out of left field. Where were they even going?

Isak squirmed in his seat as Jonas pulled into the parking lot of a park that was nearby the school. He could get there and walk to his classes if he wanted to, but he felt compelled to say here and listen to what Jonas had to say. It had to be important if he had to take him away from everyone else just to say it.

After he turned off the car, Jonas drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, giving Isak more anxiety than he already had. Finally, he stopped as he carefully said, “I saw you and Even last night. What you guys were doing.”

Heart caught in his throat, Isak scrambled to think of something to say to explain himself, but he couldn’t find one reason. He knew that this moment was going to come, but he didn’t know that it was going to be so soon. It’s probably what he deserved for being so careless.

It was then that Jonas turned to face Isak, and it was then that Isak noticed how tired he looked. He was developing bags under his eyes as if he wasn’t sleeping, his eyelids drooping ever so slightly. “Do you really like him?”

Isak shrugged, studying Jonas’s face as he said, “I mean, I think so. I’m not entirely sure yet, but there’s definitely something there.” That’s when he squinted his eyes and asked, “Are you sleeping well? You look awful.”

“Don’t try and change the subject,” Jonas groaned, crossing his arms. “I want to know why you believe him more than you believe me. We’re best friends, and Even is just some guy you met less than a week ago. What’s so special about him? What does he do that I don’t?”

Isak was taken aback. He didn’t want to think too highly of himself, but Jonas sounded…jealous? He knew that it sounded insane, but it was a possibility. Or maybe he was only thinking that because of what Even said. But what if Jonas was jealous?

“N-nothing. He just doesn’t seem like that kind of guy. Even’s always been that sweet kind of guy and you know that. You’ve seen him around, you even told me that he was too nice for his own good.”

“But you don’t know what he does behind closed doors! You don’t know what he does when we’re not looking! It’s all appearances until he gets found out. If he gets found out. I don’t know, he’s just…too nice. What if he’s doing this to try and take advantage of you again? I mean, did you even ask him about what he was really doing that night? If he was outside smoking or inside watching you get dragged in?”

“If it’s all about appearances, how do I know it wasn’t you who took me to that room?”

“Because I would never do something as fucking sick as that. Besides, you know that I don’t like guys. However, Even does. And why didn’t you tell me that you liked guys? Why would you keep such a big secret from me?”

“You…like to make fun of gay people. You and Elias. And when me and Even kissed that night, it was the first time we did it. I didn’t have time to tell you.”

Jonas didn’t respond. Hanging his head, he played around with his fingers, and Isak knew that he hurt him. He looked away as well, itching to get out of the car. Was this how their friendship ended? Jonas leaving hurt and Isak waltzing away with a boyfriend? Not even in his wildest dreams would Isak ever believe this to happen. And getting raped? He wasn’t sure what was going on, if these past few days even happened or if this was all just a massive hallucination.

Maybe it was best for him to just drop his whole investigation. He didn’t need closure, he didn’t need justice. But if one thing was for sure, he probably wasn’t even ready to date. Jonas was probably right in saying that Even was waiting for the perfect chance to strike, to do what he did at the party, if he even did it.

“Can we please go back?” Isak asked, trying to keep his body as far away from Jonas as possible. It was suddenly tense in the car, the air becoming more and more suffocating the longer they sat there.

“Why, so you can go to Even and tell him that I know about you guys kissing?” Jonas spat bitterly, and Isak whipped his head to look at him in surprise. Jonas grabbed the stick shift but Isak stopped him, grabbing his wrist. Jonas shot him a glare and yanked his hand away, causing Isak to quickly realize that the soft side that Jonas displayed moments ago had vanished, only a mere figment of his imagination.

“What’s your problem? After what you just said about me keeping secrets, I thought I would’ve been able to tell you everything.”

“Because you’re setting yourself up for more trouble and I’m not going to waste my time to try and keep you away from the one person who could hurt you the most. You don’t have to believe me, you don’t have to listen to me, but I’m sure as hell not going to help you if you end up getting raped again.” Jonas made a grab for the stick shift again, but Isak grabbed his wrist again, eliciting the same reaction that he got a minute ago.

Jonas was definitely offended. Isak knew that it seemed bad that he instilled most of his trust in Even, but Even was just so much…nicer. And more willing to listen to Isak than Jonas ever was. If Isak’s opinions, secrets, and fears really mattered to Jonas, there would be no reason for him to be hurt in the first place. He would never say this out loud, but he didn’t appreciate the fact that Jonas was getting upset at him for finding a new friend. Isak wouldn’t be upset if the tables had turned, so why couldn’t Jonas get over himself and be happy for him?

“Look, Jonas, I do believe you, I really do, but it doesn’t make sense how you would think that Even is the one who did it. He’s nice to me and he’s helped me figure out this whole mess. To think that he did it doesn’t make sense. And he already said to me many times that it wasn’t him, and he hasn’t done anything to make me lose my trust in him. You haven’t given me any evidence as to why it might’ve been him, so until you do, I’m not going to end things with him.”

Ironically, Jonas laughed, shaking his head as Isak looked on in confusion. He wasn’t sure what he found so funny – Isak was being serious, wasn’t it obvious? – and it was beginning to anger Isak that Jonas wasn’t making sense. Then it dawned on him – Jonas was laughing in an attempt to calm himself down. “You’re so infatuated with him and you don’t even realize it. Listen, love is love no matter who it’s with, so your relationship with Even doesn’t bother me and I support you the whole way. But it becomes a problem when you let that infatuation cloud up your judgment. Don’t you think you should do more digging around before you decide to get into a relationship with him? I’ll help you out and I promise, if he’s clean, I’ll leave it alone. We don’t have to tell him a thing. Can we at least agree on that?”

Isak bit the inside of his cheek, debating on what he should do. Jonas did make a compelling point – he was so focused on Even that he hardly had the chance to do his own background check on the tall blonde. The investigation didn’t have to end, it was only getting better.

Lips twitching up into a smile, Isak nodded. “You better be wrong about him,” he said in an attempt to joke, and thankfully Jonas chuckled lightheartedly. This time, he was able to grab the stick shift without any interruptions from Isak. “Am I still going to go to my classes?”

“Fuck your classes. We’re going to hang out like we did back in high school and talk about Even. I hope you didn’t have any tests today.”

Isak was able to sit back and enjoy the ride, listening to the radio with Jonas and talking to him as if nothing had happened between them. As if they hadn’t nearly gotten into a fight minutes ago. But there were a few questions that were plaguing Isak’s mind as they raced down the road: Did Jonas always look so tired? When did his moods start to change so fast? And why the hell was he gripping that steering wheel so damn tightly?

Chapter Text

After coming back from their “classes”, Jonas and Isak had agreed to inform each other if they found anything to be suspicious about Even. Isak was supposed to pursue what he had with Even while Jonas was watching from the sidelines, seeing what Even did when he thought no one was watching and casually asking people about the party. Even and Isak still had to talk to Mahdi, Elias, and Chris, so they decided to tackle that today and just get it over with.

But with the investigation aside, Isak had a good time with Jonas today. Although they just went for some kebabs, it was refreshing to talk to him about things other than rape and Even. They laughed and joked, and there were no tense moments while they were together. Just pure friendship and award-winning kebabs.

Isak did notice that Jonas didn’t do much with his kebab besides play around with it. The blonde wondered why Jonas had even bought one at all, and in the end, Isak ended up eating both of theirs. When Isak asked why Jonas had left his food untouched, he said it was because he “forgot that he was starting a diet”. Isak wasn’t sure to believe him – he didn’t even think Jonas knew what a diet was – but didn’t say anything anyway.

Isak wanted to talk to Elias, since Isak knew him the best out of all three of them. Even went to talk to Chris as Isak nonchalantly approached Elias in his room, doing their handshake as they always did.

“So, Jonas told me about you and Even,” Elias started, his voice missing its usual roughness. “And I just wanted to say that I think that’s cool. It’s good that you finally found someone, even if it’s a guy.”

Not sure how to take that last part, Isak nodded, thanking him awkwardly before laughing it off. He didn’t really expect Jonas to tell Elias – it was so soon – but at the same time, he didn’t expect Elias to be so accepting of it either. Even still, it was highly possible that they were talking about him behind his back, but after his talk with Jonas earlier, he didn’t really think it to be true. “Anyway…I wanted to ask you something. So, you remember that party on Friday, right? The one that Jonas dragged me to?”

Elias nodded like the answer was obvious. “Of course I remember, even though that was ages ago. But what’s up? Did you want someone’s number but didn’t have the chance to ask? Because if that’s the case, then I think I can help you.”

“Uh, no,” Isak said, already thinking that this was a bad idea. Elias was pretty dense when it came to things besides sex and girls, so Isak wouldn’t be too surprised if Elias wasn’t able to remember anything. “You went smoking with Even and others, right?” When Elias nodded, Isak continued. “What did you do after you finished? You went back inside, but what did you do?”

Elias looked as if he was pondering deeply, licking his teeth as he thought back to it. “Oh! You know that one girl with the short hair? I think you dated her before.” Isak’s eyes lit up as he nodded quickly.

“I didn’t know what a great kisser she was. Like damn.” He clapped his hands in excitement before rubbing them together. “I still can’t understand why you gave her up like that. But not only that, she’s actually got a nice personality. I mean, after I tapped that –”

“I think you’re getting a bit off track,” Isak stopped him, laughing uncomfortably at that. But at least he knew that it wasn’t Elias who took him into Jonas’s room. He couldn’t have been if he was with Emma…Isak’s ex-girlfriend. Isak couldn’t help but wonder…Elias knew that Isak used to date Emma, so what kind of friend did that make Elias? What if Isak didn’t like guys? Elias didn’t know that Isak…wasn’t straight until today.

“No! I’m getting there!” Elias shouted, and Isak stood there expectantly. “We sat there and talked for what felt like hours about everything and nothing and…it was just great. We haven’t hung out since, though. But anyways…I don’t know. Why did you ask?”

Isak really didn’t want to tell Elias anything, but he knew that if he wanted to get anywhere, he needed to at least tell Elias something. Hopefully he would catch on at least. “Something…happened to me and I’m trying to get some closure about it. I was hoping to ask and see if you knew anything or saw me…get me into a room with someone.”

He expected Elias to whoop and make a big deal out of it, for him to call Jonas and have Isak repeat himself. He expected him to shout it from the rooftop that Isak Valtersen has been raped!

But instead, Elias’s eyes widened, his expression morphing from one of mirth to surprise, then ultimately, concern. He had caught on, and Isak didn’t really expect him to. “W-why…why do you think that?” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “What happened? Do you know?”

“No…I, uh, it sort of just happened. I can’t remember anything from that party after having a few drinks and shit. Then Jonas found me the next morning in his room, naked. And now I’m starting to remember some of the things that happened and Even and I realized that it was a guy who was out there smoking with Even that night…and I know that you were one of those people…”

“What? Do you seriously think that it was me?” Elias asked, taking a step back and raising his hands. “Isak, I would never…I have my standards and you know that I don’t fuck with guys –”

“I know you don’t, which is why I know that it wasn’t you,” Isak’s lips twitched into a smile, “But thanks…for being so nice about this.”

Elias gave him a look, as if that was the most absurd thing he had ever heard. “When am I not nice about things? Anyways, don’t answer that. But, if you want some useful information about what happened, you should probably give Emma a call. She was a lot soberer than I was that night and I’m sure she was looking for you. She asked me where you were at least once. But you might not get a hold of her for a day or two. She went back down to her hometown for a while. Family problems.”

Good to know that Emma was still keen on Isak. He smiled as he replied, “I’ll ask her for sure. Thanks, Elias.”

Isak was about to walk away, when he heard a “w-wait” from behind him. Stopping in his tracks, Isak turned around, still surprised to hear the slight stutter in Elias’s voice, like a little kid who was unsure of himself. “What are you going to do once you find who did it? Do you have evidence, or proof that something’s happened to you? You could get a rape kit done, but you probably showered already and that would make the kit basically undoable.”

“I…” Isak closed his mouth as he really pondered on it. Why hadn’t he thought about this before? What was he going to do once he found the rapist? Biting his lip, he unsteadily admitted, “I don’t know.”

And that was the biggest problem. Right now, Isak couldn’t even tell who the rapist was, so what was he going to do when he found out who it was? Call the police and say what? Isak had watched enough law and crime shows to know that it would be a case of “he said she said” without any evidence to back himself up.

But he still wanted to find out who it was. If he wasn’t going to get justice, he at least needed closure. He deserved it. At the same time, he felt his heart drop as he realized that if he didn’t get justice, then the chances of getting raped again were sky-high.

“Listen, dude. I think I can help you. Do you know what you wore that night? Or if you have to go to court and testify against them, I can help you. Just let me know when you want my help. And I mean it.”

Isak wasn’t sure how to feel about the sudden support, so all he said was “thanks” as left the room, pulling out his phone. He said that Emma wouldn’t answer right away because of family problems, but it always helped to leave a text. Hastily, he typed, “Hey Emma. Elias tells me that you might’ve seen me go into a room with someone, Jonas’s room. Do you know who it was?” He pressed send, putting his phone in his pocket and hoping that Emma got back to him soon.

He couldn’t find Even in his room, so he thought he could kill some time by going into Jonas’s room and telling him about what Elias said. His reaction was off, no doubt, but then again, so was Jonas’s reaction.

He didn’t bother knocking on the door before walking in, making himself comfortable on Jonas’s bed without even batting an eye to the raven, who was his desk being studious for once. “Elias didn’t do it, I know that for sure. But he said that Emma might know something. I texted her but she’s having some family issues, so Elias said to give it some time. And then there’s Even who’s talking to Chris, and he should be done any moment now. God, Jonas, we’re so close, I can almost taste it!” He breathed a sigh of relief, flopping over on the bed so that he was facing the ceiling. Jonas didn’t respond, and that was when Isak turned his head to look at him. “Jonas? Hello? Were you even listening to me?”

His eyes rested on Jonas, and Isak saw that he wasn’t studying, but was instead spacing out. He was fiddling with his wooden pencil, almost looking as if he was going to snap it in half. Something was definitely up, so Isak got off the bed and went to the desk, bending himself awkwardly so that he could see Jonas’s face. “What the hell is wrong with you?” He whispered as he got a better look at Jonas’s face. It looked the same as earlier; baggy eyes and tense expression, his eyebrows furrowed deeply.

Isak leaned in a little more and Jonas suddenly shoved him away, shouting, “Fuck off, Isak! I’m trying to do my work!”

Taken aback, Isak stepped away. “What’s going on with you? You told me to come to you when I found something out, so why are you snapping at me all of a sudden? You were perfectly fine and cheery less than an hour ago.”

“If you didn’t notice, I’m in the middle of doing my fucking work,” he hissed, hardly turning to look at Isak. “Did you ever think to come and talk to me when I wasn’t doing my work?”

Isak shook his head, but not as an answer to his question. “That’s not what I meant. You’re not sleeping, you’re not eating, and your mood keeps changing. And you’re so damn tense, so what’s really going on?”

“Isak, it’s almost exams and if you don’t stop fucking bothering me –”

“No, that’s not it,” Isak spat, a theory coming invading his mind. “You’re tense because you know something. You didn’t start acting weird until after the party, because before that, you didn’t give a rat’s ass about exams. What are you hiding from me?”

“Isak, I’m not hiding anything from you – “

“Then why do you look so sick?” Isak asked, deeming it safe enough to take a step closer to Jonas. “I’m serious, you look like true shit.”

Running his fingers through his disheveled hair, Jonas mumbled, “You know, not everything is about you and your investigation. I have real problems, too.” He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, and Isak quirked an eyebrow.

“Then what is it? You know you can tell me anything that’s on your mind.”

Jonas stared at him, his expression dark and unreadable. Isak feared that Jonas would punch him or something of the like, but he instead shook his head and sat back in his chair. “It’s shit you wouldn’t understand. Well, I wouldn’t know how to explain it, anyway.”

“Jonas…”

“Just drop it, Isak.” Jonas barked, going back to his work. Isak stood there, wishing that he could know what was going on in his best friend’s mind. But he knew that there was nothing that he could do to help. He plopped back down on the bed, looking around the room as he thought of what he could say to change the tense mood of the room.

His eyes flickered to a metal object sticking out from underneath Jonas’s dresser. Were those…handcuffs? Isak squinted as he tried getting a better look, and he was sure that he saw another pair under the dresser as well. Jonas? Having handcuffs? There was only one explanation, but Isak was almost 100% sure that handcuffs weren’t Jonas’s forte. He just didn’t do that.

He had to fight back a snicker as he thought about Jonas actually using the handcuffs. Who did he use them on? Eva? Ingrid?

Isak?

The blonde took in labored breaths as he watched the dark figure go over and pick up the paraphernalia from a random drawer in the dresser, fiddling with it in his hands. “Do you think we should play around with this?” He asked, bringing it over to the limp Isak on the bed. “It would be fun, but what if someone walked in? People would talk.” He laughed as he placed them in Isak’s hands, allowing him to feel the cool metal.

Isak tried forming the words “no”, but his mouth refused to cooperate. His body felt too heavy to even react to the cuffs being placed into his hands, and all he could do was close his eyes and hope that this was going to end. That someone walked in and stopped this.

But the hope of that happening went right out the window as the offender went to the door and locked it, making his way back. “Ever tried handcuffs? At first it can seem kind of scary, but you’ll learn to like them. I guess that’s the thrill of it. Trying to escape the cuffs and the adrenaline that courses through you when you realize that you can’t…” He unlocked them and placed them around Isak’s wrists, and the blonde tried squirming away. His efforts seemed to go to waste as all the rapist had to do was cuff the other wrist and lock them to the poles in the bedhead.

“I’m promise, you’ll like this a lot,” he purred as he grabbed a fistful of Isak’s hair and yanked his head upward. Isak gasped as he struggled to breathe from his position, too powerless to fight back and too weak to cry.

Isak drew in a sharp breath as he cursed loudly, scrambling off Jonas’s bed by instinct but falling off instead. He broke out into a cold sweat as the all-too-familiar feeling of panic washed over him, Jonas turning around to look at him with a stunned expression.

“Isak, what the fuck, man?” Jonas asked, as he rushed over to him, placing a hand on him to help him up. Isak, still in a state of panic, pushed Jonas away, the memory taking control over his actions. All he could think was I need to get out of here. I need to tell someone, but the smaller part of his brain that wasn’t ridden in panic knew that he was okay, that he wasn’t about to be raped.

The next thing he knew, someone was grabbing both of his wrists. His heartbeat sped up as he allowed the adrenaline to react for him. He reacted negatively, yanking his arms away and screaming, “Get your fucking hands off of me!!

Jonas did what he was told and watched helplessly as Isak dashed out of the room and into the bathroom next door, throwing the door shut and locking it. He squeezed his eyes shut as he pressed the heels of his palms against them, trying to get the memory to go away but the harder he tried to get it out of his head, the more vivid it became. His knees gave out as the world spun around him, his body trembling uncontrollably. His head was swimming and blood rushing into his ears as he felt his cheeks become wet with tears. He never knew that his body could react like that. He never feared for his life so badly before.

There was a knock on the door, and Isak jumped. The first thing that popped into his mind was rapist, and immediately, he felt a new wave of fear wash over him. When was this going to end? Was it ever? Was this what dying felt like? Why couldn’t he breathe?

Eventually, his ragged breathing slowly went back to normal, and his body wasn’t shaking as much. Some tears were still escaping but he didn’t feel like he was dying anymore. So he stood up, clutching tightly onto the sink as he took deep breaths, continuing to calm himself down. Someone knocked at the door again, and this time, Isak didn’t jump. Instead, he looked at the white painted door, debating whether or not he should open it. He knew now that it wasn’t the rapist, but he knew that he probably scared the living shit out of Jonas.

Reluctantly, he opened the door to be greeted with worried expressions not only from Jonas, but from Even, Elias, Chris, Mahdi, and Eskild as well. He opened his mouth in an attempt to explain himself, but Even raised a hand as if to say don’t bother.

Isak wiped away the rest of the remaining tears as Even took a few steps forward and wrapped Isak into a hug. Without hesitating, Isak dissolved into the affectionate gesture, knowing that everyone was watching them but not giving a damn. He buried his head into Even’s chest, the last of the worry and panic leaving his body, as Even brought a hand up to his hair. He ran his fingers through it as Eskild obnoxiously cleared his throat as he leaned against the door frame, prompting Isak to pull away.

“I think we deserve to know what happened,” he said softly, and the rest of the guys hummed in agreement. Isak looked down at his feet, playing with his hands as everyone expected an answer from him. He didn’t know how to describe it. He didn’t know how to say what happened to him in front of all his friends without breaking down again.

That was when Even lifted up a hand and brushed a strand of hair away from his face, forcing Isak to look up at him. “Do you want to talk to me about it?” He asked in the softest voice possible, and Isak knew he could refuse. So he nodded and they walked out, the others watching as they went.

When they were alone in his room, Even closed the door as Isak looked around, particularly at the cartoons that laid on Even’s desk. Isak always enjoyed his style of drawing – everything always looked like a caricature. Isak couldn’t help but wonder if Even always saw everything as some of cartoon, if that was just how he enjoyed drawing in that style.

Even sighed, bringing Isak out of his thoughts. “So what happened back there?” Even asked, sticking his hands in his pockets as he took a few steps closer.

Isak opened his mouth to explain himself but stopped. Jonas kept saying that Even was guilty of doing the deed, so this could be Isak’s chance to see who Even really was. Just to prove Jonas wrong in accusing Even, since Isak had told himself already that Even wasn’t the rapist. Besides, the handcuffs were in Jonas’s room, so unless the rapist forgot to take it back with him, then it most likely was Jonas’s. But even that didn’t make sense.

“Nothing happened, I just…it a flashback but I’ve already seen it before. When he shoves the…pill into my mouth.”

“You didn’t panic that badly the first time you had it though. And you yelled at someone to get their hands off of you. Was anyone touching you where they shouldn’t be?”

“God, Even, you sound like my mom,” Isak mumbled, ruffling his own hair as he thought on what to say. “I don’t know, it just really caught me off guard. The reality of the situation is starting to sink in, I guess.” That part was true, at least. After that whole scene of whatever that was, Isak realized that this whole thing was so much bigger than just an investigation. Someone he lived with had committed a crime and violated his body. If they weren’t stopped, then it was most likely going to happen again, to someone else this time. What if it happened to Jonas, or Even, or anyone he was close to? He would only have himself to blame, because he was able to stop whoever it was but didn’t. That was why he needed to solve this thing – to make sure whoever it was didn’t hurt anyone else ever again.

Even shrugged as if to say that’s understandable. He brought a hand up to Isak’s face, caressing his cheek. “Are you sure nothing happened?”

Isak forced a grin, leaning into his touch. “I have no reason to lie.”

Even smiled back and leaned in to give Isak a gentle kiss on the lips, eliciting a laugh from the shorter boy when their noses bumped into each other. Maybe he could trick Even into showing that he was into handcuffs, that he enjoyed that kind of thing. Because he knew damn well that Jonas didn’t do cuffs, even though he might give off that impression. The door was closed, and no one was around – this would be the perfect time to put his plan into action. But if he was going to see if Even liked using handcuffs, then…did that mean he had to have sex with Even?

While the idea sounded great – almost heavenly – it was too soon. If he did it, the memories would hit him like a wave, and Isak wasn’t sure if he was prepared for that emotional hurricane. It would be overstimulating, overwhelming to an extreme degree, and Isak wouldn’t be able to face Even after that. Just thinking about having sex again made him break out into another cold sweat. Besides, what would he do once he found out Even did like cuffs? He would have to find that out later – this was a now or never kind of thing. He had to see if Even liked cuffing people up without actually being cuffed up again.

Licking his lips, he looked up at Even with the most lustful expression he could muster. “Do you think you could make me forget?” He asked, closing the already small gap that was in between them. He rested his head on Even’s chest as he mumbled, “To just forget everything that happened a few minutes ago. I know we just started this…thing…but I could really use it right now.”

Even didn’t respond for a second, before stuttering, “A-are you sure that’s what you want? I mean, you went into a fit of panic after having a flashback that you already had. Are you sure you’re prepared for that?”

“Of course I am,” Isak said, moving up from his chest to his neck, planting soft kisses there. He would have to rely on actions, because he knew that he didn’t have a good reason against Even’s words. “You just have to go soft on me. If I feel uncomfortable, I’ll let you know. Come on, I know you want this, too.” He went even further up until his lips locked with Even’s, feeling his cheeks heat up and heart going faster. If he could say one thing for sure, he enjoyed doing this way more than he should be. Just for the fun of it, he brought his hand down to the waistband of Even’s pants and gave it a tug, making the taller blonde jump ever so slightly before dissolving into an apprehensive chuckle.

“If that’s what you want,” Even said, kissing him back and sliding his fingers into Isak’s hair. He wasted no time in leading Isak to his bed, gently pushing him down so that Isak was sitting. He broke off the kiss to go to the door and lock it, earning a smile from Isak.

“Is there anything I need to know before we…do it? I mean, like is there anything you like to do…specifically?”

Even tilted his head to the side, raising an eyebrow as if he was trying to understand. When it hit him, he exclaimed, “Oh! You mean like a kink?”

Isak’s cheeks flushed red at the word, but nodded nonetheless. “Yea. I just want to know…in case we ever do it again so I don’t have to ask.”

Unfortunately for Isak, Even furrowed his eyebrows as he groaned. “But that’s embarrassing! How am I supposed to tell you what I find kinky without it being totally embarrassed?”

“I told you that I was raped. How do you think I felt when I first told you or Jonas that? Of course I was embarrassed.” The words came out harsher than intended, and Even was quick to retaliate.

“Okay, but those are two completely different things. You can’t just use that as an excuse whenever you want to learn an embarrassing secret about me!”

“Ah, it can’t be that bad…”

“It’s certainly not normal,” Even sniggered, flopping onto the bed. “Either way, this has got to be your first time with a guy. It’s my first time, too. Why can’t we just do vanilla? There’s no rush.”

Isak was about to object to Even’s vanilla proposition when he stopped short in his tracks, profoundly dumbfounded. “Wait. You’ve never had sex with a guy before?” That had to be a lie. That had to be a huge lie. There was no way…what?

Even raised an eyebrow as he sat up, looking at Isak with a confused expression. “No. Only with my ex-girlfriend, Sonja. Why do you think that I have? Just an honest question.”

Shrugging, Isak broke out into a cold sweat. “I-I don’t know. Jonas always made it…I always thought that…I don’t know...” Shit. He totally messed up things with Even now. Now he just seemed like a presumptuous asshole who didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut…shit!

But Even waved the statement aside with another chuckle. “What if I said that I thought the same about you? That you had sex with a guy? Or at all?”

“Actually…”

Even stopped. “Wait…you’re a virgin?”

“Why don’t we stop talking about me?” Isak blurted out, suddenly standing up as his cheeks flushed a heavy shade of red. He and Emma had never gone that far, and he doesn’t want to even think about what happened at the party. He expected Even to laugh yet again, but instead, he placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Maybe we should hold off on this,” he said, standing and grabbing Isak cheeks and gently making him turn to look at him. “You’re not in the right mind for this, and I don’t want to push you to do anything –”

“Fine. Whatever,” Isak replied, throwing his hands up in the air and heading towards the door. This was probably the only chance he was going to get to find out if it was him with the cuffs. Sure, there was probably another way, but Isak didn’t want to wait any longer. He needed to find out who did it, now. He needed to find who the person who was responsible for making him panic like that minutes ago. If Even wasn’t going to help him out, then he would find another way. He needed to know who it was so that he wouldn’t have to deal with this whole thing again of getting raped and not remembering.

Even grabbed him yet again, and Isak didn’t try to move away, glaring at him. The taller blonde seemed to have picked up the sudden change of mood in the smaller boy. Isak waited for Even to say something, and when he didn’t, he twisted his arm away from his grasp and made his way back to Jonas’s room. He couldn’t waste his time trying to be sneaky about this and trying to get laid on the side. Besides, what kind of sick fuck would tried getting laid after being raped? He needed to ask questions before he lost his mind.

When he stormed into the room, Jonas looked at him from his desk, standing and asking, “Hey, are you okay?” If Isak wasn’t so angry all of a sudden, he would’ve given Jonas a big fat hug. But there was no time for this now. He was done playing around.

Isak went over to the dresser where he first saw the handcuffs and snatched them up. He held them up to Jonas’s face, letting them dangle before him. Jonas stared at them before looking up at him with wide eyes and mouth agape.

“What the hell are these doing in your room?” Isak asked, throwing them onto the desk as the metal began to burn his skin. Just holding the stupid things sent shivers down his spine.

Jonas was at a loss for words. He turned to look at the handcuffs on the desk, finally closing his mouth. “These aren’t mine,” he said pathetically. Isak narrowed his eyes, crossing his arms.

“Then why are they in your room? I honestly thought that you would be better at hiding this.”

“I said they’re not mine.”

“How many other people had you used them on? I didn’t think you were that kind of person, but I guess I don’t know you as well as I think I do.”

“They’re not mine, Isak!” Jonas yelled, shoving the handcuffs off the desk. He headed towards the door, but Isak was quicker than that. He closed the door before Jonas got a chance to get there, locking it.

“You’re not going anywhere until you tell me why the fuck you have handcuffs in your room. You said they’re not yours, but they’re still in your room, the same room I woke up in naked in with the same cuffs that had me fucking chained to the bed.”

Jonas continued to stick by his story, repeating himself again as if he was in a trance. “They’re not mine.”

“Then whose are they, Jonas?! Who else could they belong to? What are they doing in you room if they’re not yours?” Isak was going to snap if Jonas said that they weren’t his again.

Jonas was giving him a hard stare, but Isak couldn’t tell if his best friend was going to punch him or cry, even though the latter didn’t sound likely. Was Jonas even his best friend anymore? The cuffs in his room were more than incriminating, and if Isak was right in what he was thinking, then he didn’t think he could be friends with Jonas ever again.

Thankfully, Jonas said something different this time. “Someone probably left it here during the party! You weren’t the only person who came in here, Isak! People come and go in here all the time during every party. It’s not mine, Isak. I didn’t even know that it was there until you fucking threw them on my desk.” Jonas didn’t sound angry, although he did sound tense. Why are you standing so rigidly, Jonas? Why are you curling your hands into fists, Jonas?

No. You used them on me that night and then you threw them under the dresser, thinking that you could put them back at another time, but you forgot to put them back.”

“You would have to be stupid to even think that I would just throw something like that in the open. If I knew where I got it from, don’t you think I would want to put it back? That’s why I’m telling you that they’re not mine but you’re not fucking listening.

“I’m not listening to you because you’re full of bullshit! Jonas, tell me the fucking truth. Are those yours? Did you use them on me?” Did you rape me at the first party you invited me to?

No, and I’m not telling you that again. They’re not mine and they will never be mine. I didn’t fucking rape you, Isak. Get over it! How do I know you’re not making up all this shit you say that you’re remembering? How do I know you’re not just making all this shit up for attention? Leave me alone. I didn’t fucking touch you and I would never fucking want to.” Jonas was trembling, but Isak couldn’t tell if it was because of all the rage that was building up or the fear and guilt that was getting to him. Jonas had been caught.

You’re a liar!” Isak roared, shoving him back and causing Jonas to stumble over the chair of his desk and fall to the ground, bringing the chair down with him. “You brought me to that party to rape me, knowing that I would be stupid enough to drink anything given to me. You knew exactly how to manipulate me and bring me to your room, because you know your room better than any other place in this house. You knew where the handcuffs were because they were yours and you didn’t put them back because you either forgot or wanted to leave before I remembered that it was you who did this to me!”

Jonas only sat up on the ground, running his fingers through his hair as he refused to make eye contact with Isak by hanging his head low. The blonde continued on his tirade nevertheless, taking menacing steps closer to his weakened offender. “Tell me that you didn’t spike my drink and give me another pill to make me weak. Prove to me that you didn’t cuff me to your bed and nearly make me suffocate. Show me that you didn’t rape me, Jonas!”

It was suddenly painfully quiet, but Isak didn’t care who heard them right now. Jonas kept his fingers in his hair and head down, and that’s when it happened. Jonas sniffed, and Isak saw a tear fall from his eye and onto his leg, which was becoming red from where he hit the chair. Then another fell and another, until they were falling in quick succession onto his legs. He was hunched over as he shook, and Isak couldn’t believe it. He stood there dumbfounded as the anger left his body. Jonas was crying. Jonas didn’t cry. Not even when he was upset. Isak wasn’t even going to ask himself why Jonas was crying now – it was painfully obvious that Jonas was the one who raped Isak.

Lip trembling, Isak growled, “I hope you fucking rot in jail.” He walked out of the room and threw the door shut, heading straight to Even’s room and hoping that he was in there. His throat constricted as tears began to spring up in his eyes. His own best friend? Someone who he spent his childhood with and told everything to? Why would he do this to me?

He threw open the door to see Even laying on his bed, reading something on his phone. When he saw Isak standing there at the door, his expression changed immediately and he arose from the bed, rushing over to Isak. He didn’t make a move to touch him or anything, scanning him before he made any moves. Isak was going to tell him everything, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out was a gasp. Even raised his eyebrows and Isak shook his head, unsure of how to say everything. Finally, Even pulled Isak into his loving arms, allowing Isak to bury his face into Even’s comforting chest.

Isak got what he wanted. He found out who attacked him that night, who took him into that room and took away his innocence. All the answers he wanted, he got them. This investigation was over and now Isak didn’t have to live in fear anymore. He could get Jonas sent to jail and stop him from hurting anyone like that ever again.

Then why did it hurt so much?

Chapter Text

It had been a few hours since Isak came to the shocking revelation. He had been sitting in Even’s room ever since, too scared to leave, the irrational fear of Jonas getting him holding him back. So instead, he relaxed on Even’s bed, lying against his chest and watching Netflix with him, not uttering a word. Every so often, he would start to tear up again, but Even would only pull him closer, helping him calm down.

Although Isak hadn’t spoken since he left Jonas’s room, his mind was racing at a speed he didn’t even know was possible. What was Jonas doing now? Was he going to turn himself in or wait for Isak to do it? Did anyone else at all hear what happened while they were fighting in his room? Every moment that Isak sat there, he anticipated a knock at the door. Maybe Jonas would come and apologize? How would Isak react? How should he? He could throw a fit and make a big show of getting Jonas away from him or count on Even to keep him away. But somewhere deep down, Isak contemplated forgiving him. The point was, he didn’t know what to do. There were just too many choices.

The episode finished and Isak continued to sit there, his mind continuing to wander. He wasn’t even paying attention to the Office anymore; the show he loved was nothing more than background noise. Even seemed to sense that sitting here watching shows wasn’t going to help, so he closed the computer shut, earning a groan of irritation from Isak. This could only go in one direction – Even was going to want to talk, and that was the last thing Isak wanted to do. What if someone was listening to them? Jonas? He didn’t want that son of a bitch to hear him tell Even how scared and up set he was that it was his own best friend who kept him bound to his bed and raped him. Just thinking about it made him want to scream, to throw punches at Jonas for everything he’s done, for the pain he caused him and the trauma associated with it. Why was it him, though? Why the hell did it have to be him?

“You’re quiet,” Even commented, smiling a bit. “We need to talk about this. About what happened. Get it off your chest so we can plan our next move.”

“There is no ‘next move’,” Isak replied bitterly. “It’s over, Even. I don’t know what else you want to do, because now we know who it is, and we can’t do anything about it.” He made a grab for the laptop, opening it to play the next episode of the Office, but ended up being cockblocked by Even’s password.

Even shut it once again, taking Isak’s hands in his own. “Just because we found who it was doesn’t mean that it’s over. There is something we can do about it. There are so many options –”

“No, there aren’t. Don’t you get it? I don’t have any evidence, and there were no witnesses to say that they saw him. No one even knew that anything happened until we made such a big deal out of it, so just drop it. It’s not that deep.”

Even’s jaw dropped in bewilderment. “It’s not that deep? It’s not that deep? Are you seriously saying that after you had a freak-out in the bathroom because you remembered something that Jonas did to you? Isak, you don’t need evidence. There’s someone out there who saw you get taken inside that room. That, and you can go testify against him. Is there anything, anything at all, that you can use against him? Maybe something he touched while it happened? If the police check it, then it’ll have his fingerprints on them. Did he use a condom? Search the frat house for it.”

“Why are you so hellbent on incriminating him?” Isak shouted, pulling away from him. “I’m still trying to process everything and you’re already here forcing me to put him in jail. It’s not that I don’t want him there, but…” He trailed off, not sure how to continue. Of course he wanted Jonas gone, but at the same time, he didn’t actually want him to be gone gone. That was his best friend for fuck’s sake! His best friend! Isak didn’t know what he wanted anymore. He just wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

He took a deep breath, not bothering to try and explain it again. “I just wish it wasn’t him,” he mumbled, casting his gaze to the edge of the bed. He wished that this whole thing could’ve been avoided, that he spent that night on his bed watching Netflix instead of allowing Jonas to persuade him into going to that damned party. If he didn’t go, how different would things be now? Would they still be friends, or would Jonas just wait for another opportunity to rape him instead? Would he had met Even and develop feelings for him? Would he still feel this lump in his throat and waves of shame wash over him?

“Tell me what happened, Isak,” Even pressed on softly, placing a gentle hand on Isak’s back. The blonde couldn’t help but flinch at the sudden contact but shook it off, taking in a shaky breath. Did he really did to describe it to Even? He could just write it down and have him read it, or he could just keep silent, but if Even was right about one thing, he needed to get this off his chest. Besides, writing it down or being cryptic about it would only make it more dramatic than it already was.

Isak ran his fingers through his hair, blowing out a breath as he recalled it as best as he could. “I…we were in the room and he already had my clothes off and stuff, and he grabbed like these handcuffs from like his dresser and asked if I wanted to play around with it. I was trying to say ‘no’ but I couldn’t, I remember that part the most. And then he used it to keep me…chained to the bed. And then he yanked me by my hair, and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe and I felt like I was choking and it hurt so badly and he wouldn’t let go of my hair.” Isak’s voice cracked on the last few words, finding no use and trying to describe it further. There was no way he could accurately describe how sickening his voice made him feel, how scary it was to choke from the combination of his depressed breathing and the awkward position he was placed in. There was no way he could tell Even everything, but thankfully, he appeared content with the information he already had. Out of the corner of his eyes, Isak could see Even give him a smile that made his heart flutter, even amidst this insanity.

“Well, now we figure out to do next, alright? You don’t have much evidence, but there’s something we can do. There’s always something.”

Isak turned to Even warily, suddenly feeling exhausted and spent. He could just get up and go back to his room, watch the Office and clutch a pillow tightly as he would struggle to keep his calm. But instead, he answered, “Just because you said that there’s a way to do this doesn’t mean there’s a way. Life isn’t just fucking sunshine and rainbows all the time. Why can’t you see that? Look, I love your optimism and everything, that’s what makes you who you are, but this isn’t like that. This is the real world, not the TV show.”

Even blushed at his words, looking away in shame as he knew that he shouldn’t be smiling in a time like this, although he couldn’t help the emotional response. “But you can’t keep what happened to yourself and you know that. I’m not saying you have to tell the world about what happened to you, but you need to go to the police about it. He’s your best friend, I know that, but he assaulted you and you can’t let that slip. You know you can’t.”

“So what if I don’t go to the police about it?” Isak asked, exasperated, which was enough to wipe the blush off of Even’s face. “What if I keep it to myself? I can ignore Jonas, I can act like nothing happened. I know that we can’t be friends anymore but I don’t need to take this to court I just…I don’t want to deal with the bullshit that comes with taking this to court.”

“If you don’t tell the police or something, you’re going to live your whole life in fear that he might do it again. He can get away with doing it again to anyone else, and it’ll be all because you didn’t go to someone about this.”

“I don’t want to! If I take this to court, then I have to tell different people over and over about how I was raped by my childhood best friend. Do you think that I want to do that? I don’t have anything to back me up besides the fact that he had been acting weird ever since I told him a–”

Even tilted his head to the side. “You didn’t tell me that he was acting weird. That can help you.”

Somewhat startled from being interrupted as he was ranting, Isak narrowed his eyes. “You didn’t notice? He wasn’t eating or sleeping. Or at least I don’t think he was. He had these dark circles under his eyes and he seemed tired and when we would go out to eat, he would hardly touch his food. That and he seemed really tense lately.”

“Hm. Well, look. I know that you’re feeling shame and embarrassment from this, but you can’t keep silent about this. You’re not hurting yourself but other people –”

“I know, you said that already.” He wrapped his arms around himself, sucking in a breath. Everything about this made him feel guilty, like he could’ve avoided this. His mother always told him not to go to parties because of the infinite possibilities that could happen at them, and he abided by that for the longest until he fell under the unforgiving clutches of peer pressure. He wondered if he still would’ve gone if it was someone other than Jonas? Like Even? Probably not, but would he still be in the situation that he was in now?

If he wasn’t going to take this to the police, he could always move. Go to a different frat house, and if that didn’t work, then he could even change colleges. Sure, he wouldn’t have his friends anymore, but if that’s what he had to do to escape from Jonas, then that’s exactly what he would do.

He stood slowly, his eyes drifting to the door and he got the idea that he should go out of the room, get out of the house and go for a walk. If he sat here any longer, he was only going to go insane, so he decided to go for a walk. Try and calm himself down. Maybe Jonas will even come to him and say, “Hey, I was just joking about raping you. Please don’t be angry about it!”

“Whoa, wait, where are you going?” Even asked, not missing a beat as he grabbed his wrist. Isak twisted away from his grip, annoyed at Even’s efforts to keep him under his control. Isak was old enough to make his own decisions, and if he wanted to go for a walk, he was going to go for a damn walk.

“I don’t need to explain myself to you every time I want to go somewhere,” he grumbled. He made his way to the door, with Even hot on his tail.

“Hey, hey,” Even cooed softly, grabbing his arm. This time, Isak didn’t try to leave his grasp, taken aback from Even’s sweet voice. Something about it sent a chill down Isak’s back. He rolled his eyes as he turned around to face Even, hoping that what came out of his mouth next was something good.

Even smiled sweetly as he shifted both of his hands to Isak’s shoulder, rubbing them with their thumbs. “I know you’re upset, but don’t do something that you might regret –”

“I’m just going for a walk,” Isak furrowed his eyebrows, secretly enjoying the way Even’s hands felt on his shoulders.

“Can I go with you?”

Isak bit his lip, huffing audibly. After glaring at him for a few good seconds, Isak sighed in defeat. “Fine. Just…whatever.”

The two went out, Jonas nowhere in sight. They only planned to walk down a few blocks and back, maybe even watch the sun set at the park if they made it on time. Hands in his pockets, Isak kept his head down as he trudged down the sidewalk, Even right by his side.

“You never told me what Chris said,” Isak said, glancing quickly at Even, who looked at him, confused. When he finally realized what Isak was talking about, he nodded.

“That! I almost forgot about it. Well, it wasn’t much. All he really did was go and hook up with other girls, you know him. He didn’t really say anything that might be useful to us. Besides, we already found out who did it.”

“I guess you’re right,” Isak replied, resigned. Even wrapped an arm around him, pulling him near as they walked down the path. Isak took his time to observe his surroundings as they trotted along the path. It was funny how his perspective of things were changing, kind of like how he wondered how Jonas was feeling right now. Did he feel guilty? Was the crying just for show? What about the others who knew about his breakdown? What did they think of him? Chris was amongst those select few, so what did he think, especially after being interrogated by Even?

He looked to the bird, way up high in its nest and out of reach from human contact. He wouldn’t have to be worrying about these problems if he was a bird. Whatever that bird was going through was probably so much better than what was dealing with. That bird probably didn’t even have the emotional capacity to feel what Isak was feeling, dirty and shameful and stupid, oh so stupid for falling for Jonas’s stupid tricks. Birds don’t get raped by their best friends. A bird’s life probably wasn’t that exciting, though – they couldn’t hang out with friends or watch Netflix. But being a bird was better than being dead if Isak had to be honest. He hadn’t gotten to that point of self-loathing. Yet.

That lump in his throat formed again and he kept his glossy eyes out of Even’s view, not wanting to “talk about it”. Besides the rape, there were so many things that Isak had to do, like write another 30-some page essay and read a few chapters out of his book, as well as study for the huge upcoming test that was only days away. He needed to get back to work and do what a good student does; focus.

He wiped at his eyes, softly repeating to himself that he was a good student, and Even couldn’t help but look down at him. That’s when he decided to ruin the moment. “You’re lucky, you know.”

Isak’s heart skipped a beat at the absurdity of Even’s words. Lucky? If he was lucky for being raped, then he wondered just how damn lucky Even was since he hadn’t. He was about to ask why, when Even continued, not bothering to wait for his input. “Given the circumstances, you should’ve died, Isak. You were drunk, right? So that mixed with the sedatives could’ve killed you. And not to mention the position of your head when he said he pulled you back. That’s not enough oxygen, and you know that. You should just be glad that you didn’t die, and that you hardly got any scratches or bruises on you. I know the whole experience was traumatic, but it could’ve been a lot worse.”

He’s right, Isak thought begrudgingly to himself as he kicked a pebble out of his path. He knew it could’ve gone a lot worse, but he still felt awful inside. He didn’t even want to imagine what was the worst that could happen. “But I’m sure that most people don’t get raped by their best friends,” he muttered, the words leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. Jonas wasn’t even his best friend anymore, so why was he still calling him that?

“Well it turns out that most rapes happen by someone that the victim knows,” Even countered knowledgeably, and Isak thought about all those date violence and rape PSA that the school forced them to watch. He used to silently chuckle at the video with Jonas when they came out, poking fun at their faces and the clothes that they were wearing. Oh, how the tables have turned…

“Besides,” Even said in a more cheerful tone. “You have me who you can talk to about this. A lot of people who were raped don’t have someone to confide in, which holds them back from making a case about what happened. But you have me, and I want you to know that.” He squeezed Isak’s shoulder, planting a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“I know,” Isak replied simply, leaning in closer to Even. He was glad he had even, even though he had lost someone so important to him in only days.

It wasn’t long before they reached the park that was rapidly emptying. Isak saw people pack up and get ready to leave, ending their exercise as the sun slowly began its descent to the horizon. Even guided them to a bench, never once removing his arm from around Isak.

They sat in a comfortable silence for a little before Isak felt the itch to say something, but not something just to get a conversation starting. He needed to say something important, and now that they were alone, he felt that this was the perfect time to say what he wanted.

“I like you a lot, Even,” Isak blurted out like an adolescent middle school student. His cheeks turned an embarrassing shade of red but leaned in closer, looking down at the both of their legs. “I’ve never really felt this way towards someone, and it’s weird because I really enjoy this feeling, even after all that’s happened. You’re funny and kind and have a great personality, and after all we’ve been through together with this investigation and everything, I feel like I really got to know you and I want to know more.” He wanted to get to know the more intimate parts of him too, but he wasn’t ready for that yet. He would probably need a long time to be ready for that again.

He could feel Even’s eyes on him but refused to meet them nevertheless. Then he heard a nervous chuckle from above. “That’s really sweet, Isak. I like you, too.”

“Good,” Isak said shortly, but a grin broke out on his face. He pulled away from him, getting a good look at Even’s face for the first time. His plump lips were begging to be kissed, and Isak’s mind was begging him to make him forget about Jonas’s wordless confession, so Isak did the only sensible thing he could think of. He leaned in and connected his lips with Even’s, kissing passionately and relentlessly. Even let out a moan of approval, only egging on Isak further. The shorter blonde’s body was arched in Even’s direction and his hands went up to cup Even’s perfectly sculpted cheeks, loving how they perfectly fit into his hands. Even had to stifle a laugh as their noses mashed continued to bump into each other, with Isak’s nose bending in impossible ways as he continued to kiss his new…boyfriend? He didn’t even know what they were then, but there in that moment, Isak didn’t care about the labels.

As Isak started to throw his tongue into the mixture, Even chuckled softly, gently pushing Isak away to signal him to stop. “We’re at a park, Isak,” he reminded him, gesturing with his eyes to their surrounding environment.

“So? Everyone’s leaving and we’re basically the only people in this area of the park. It doesn’t matter if anyone sees us or anything.”

“There’s still a few people here. I’m sure that they don’t want to see us kissing when they come over here. And besides, the sun is beginning to set!” He pointed to the sky, where brilliants shades of yellow, orange, pink, and purple bled as the sun leaned in to kiss the ground beneath it. Isak watched amazed as the trees in the foreground became silhouettes in this beautiful painting before him. He debated taking a picture, but quickly concluded that this was a one-time thing and taking a picture would simply ruin the splendidness of this event.

Before the party, Isak never took the time to appreciate the little things that he hadn’t cared to notice before, like this sunset and how each color complemented each other, how lucky he was to even be in college, or how he was able to fall in love with another boy. One question resonated in his head as the sun snuck under the blanket of the landscape – did the party really change him for the better?

Chapter Text

It was only mere hours before the Isak was due for court. Even was standing in front of him, fixing him and tucking away any loose strands of hair, but to no avail. The same little strands popped out again and Even chuckled. Isak shifted uncomfortably, looking towards the door as he was itching to go inside and get this over with already.

Even’s hands on his shoulder made him jump, and he looked up at the taller blonde. “Don’t worry,” he said, brushing dust that had gotten onto his suit. “You’re going to be fine. Keep calm, obviously try not to lie about anything, don’t keep anything to yourself, because remember, you are the victim here…if you feel like you have something to say that might help you, then go ahead and say it. Don’t hold back, and most importantly, calm down. Did I say that already?”

Isak rolled his eyes as Even’s attempt to make him feel better but laughing along regardless. “That’s a lot to remember…I don’t think I’ll be able to keep calm with all those instructions.” Although Isak meant this in a joking manner, there was a nervous undertone to his voice. Reassuringly, Even leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips.

“Okay, sorry for all the pressure. But you know if you ever need anything, I’m right here. Me, Elias, Chris, and Emma.” He gestured with his head to the opposite corner, where the four others stood. They were talking amongst themselves to give the couple some space to sort things out, which Isak couldn’t be more grateful for.

Emma had texted him the day after Jonas was found out, saying that she didn’t know anything about Isak being taken to a room and was spending some time with Elias. After Isak was able to explain why he was asking, Emma fully understood and said that she would be coming back soon to see him and check if he was alright.

But before that, Even and Isak had decided what their next steps were going to be. Even told Isak not to stay silent about this, and in doing so would only allow for Jonas to hurt more innocent partygoers. They had taken Jonas into custody shortly after, and Isak was proud of himself but felt guilty all the same. It felt awful to see someone he had known for so long get taken away like that, even if he deserved it.

There was a long process of questioning and asking questions, and Isak didn’t know how much longer he could go with all this pressure. Sure, Even was there to support him the whole way, but there were so many times when Isak just thought about dropping everything and letting Jonas walk free. All the evidence was circumstantial, including the handcuffs that were fingerprinted. Every time he had to go in for questioning, everything came flooding back and he couldn’t stop himself from crying, with Even having to step in and help calm him down. It felt like a hopeless waste of time, even though Even said that something good was going to come out in the end.

And he was right. Even though there wasn’t enough evidence and Isak’s memory wasn’t too much to rely on, Jonas had ended up confessing during one of his questioning sessions to everything and telling his attorney that he needed to pay for what he did. So months later, when the day of the trial came, the verdict was most certainly going to be guilty.

But then if Jonas was going to be guilty of this, then why was Isak was nervous and fidgety? He was going to win this and Even had told him more than once that they had this in the bag. All he had to do was recount what happened and be honest. Maybe it was the fact that he was going to get to see his ex-best friend after so many months of being separated that had his nerves all bundled up together. It wasn’t that Isak was looking to impress him or anything, but someone inside, he was scared to see Jonas again. How different was he going to look? Was he going to be angry or regretful? How would he going to react under the pressure of the judge and the rest of the court?

“You’re overthinking this,” Even said, checking the clock. It was almost time to go inside the courtroom, and they couldn’t be late. “If you ever need support, just look at the five of us. You know we have your back, and after we get out of this shithole, we can all go home and hang out or something.” Someone who walked by the two of them gave Even a dirty look for his use of foul language in the courthouse, to which the boy muttered a sheepish, “Sorry.”

Smiling at the small exchange, Isak asked, “Can it just be me and you tonight? With no one else? I’m grateful that they’re all here for me, but I don’t really feel comfortable being around anyone else besides you right now.” He scratched the back of his neck, hoping that it didn’t come off as rude to the other four.

But Even nodded, smothering Isak in a hug. “I don’t see why not. I’ll let the others know and we can probably do something small like watch a movie or go out to eat. Whatever you want, we can do.”

“Thank you, Even,” Isak murmured in his boyfriend’s dress shirt and tie. “I know I’ve said it several times already, but I don’t know how to express how grateful I am for you. So…thank you.” He squeezed Even, and Even squeezed back.

Even pulled away, shaking his head. “Seriously, you don’t need to keep thanking me. I’m just glad that you went through with this. You’re really brave for doing it, you know. Most people don’t usually get this far, or even admit that something happened. But then again, you’re not most people.” He winked and checked the clock once again. “I think it’s time we head inside. Remember, we’re right here for you. You’re going to be okay. No one’s going to hurt you like this ever again after this, okay?” He pulled Isak in for another hug, burying his face into Isak’s shoulder. “I love you, Isak.”

Isak didn’t miss a beat as he replied, “I love you too, Even.” This was it. He was going to win for sure, and everyone was going to be there in order to support him. He was going to be okay.

When they ended their hug, Even nodded to the others to come and join them. The two blondes lead the way and the rest followed, all chatting ceasing the moment the doors were opened. As Isak scanned the room, a weird feeling that felt like peace rested over him, the qualm that he had felt earlier dissipating for the moment being. Although he had lost someone dear to him, he had strengthened the connection between his friends and met someone he could see a future with. Maybe this didn’t have to be a bad thing.

On one side, he saw his parents, sitting and waving over to him. He smiled back and waved, glad that they were able to make it for this. It had been a long process of explaining everything to them and then having a talk about safety amongst other things, but in the end, Isak was able to get it all out and even allow them to meet Even, who they had come to love just as Isak had.’

On his other side, there were Jonas's parents, speaking in hushed voices to each other. Isak had known them for so long, and to see them like this was heartbreaking. He was sure that everything was explained to them, and although he hadn’t gotten the chance to talk to them personally, he couldn’t even begin to understand what they were going through.

Jonas was going to be brought in any minute now, and Isak was almost scared to see him in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. But then again, if anything, he could look back to his friends for comfort.

If one thing was for sure, Isak probably wasn’t going to go to a party again, even if his boyfriend invited him. But if another thing was for sure, he was never going to allow himself or anyone he loved to be hurt like that again.