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One pancake at a time

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Wednesday. 09:35.

 

Isak wasn’t sure how he ended here. Standing at the doorway of his dorm room, cladded in his old, ratty boxer, and a threadbare t-shirt he hadn’t washed in days. A literal angel standing in his face, beaming down at him.

 

“Halla. Is this Room 2121?”

 

Isak squinted his eyes. The boy in front of him was smiling, head slightly tilted. It was the kind of smile that is all sunshine and energy. Isak gave him a quick once over. He was slightly taller than Isak himself, swaddled in many layers, with a hood pulled over his head. Even through the layers of jackets, Isak could see he has the frame of a model, tall and lean, but not too built.  A tuft of soft, blonde quiff sticking out from under his hood. 

 

In short, he was drop dead gorgeous.

 

Fuck. 

 

It was 9 am, Isak didn’t have class on Wednesday mornings, and he was too hungover to be this gay.

 

“Uhh.” Isak stared and stuttered, unsurprisingly graceless. Why was it suddenly so hard to construct a completed sentence?

 

“I’m sorry if I woke you.” The strange boy gave a small chuckle, eyes crinkled into twin half moons as he smiled. There was something compelling about his face that Isak cannot put words to. 

 

So, naturally, he stared some more.

 

"Are you gonna let me in?”

 

“Sorry. What did you say?” Isak dragged his hand down his face, trying to rub off some of the exhaustion from his face, too aware of how he probably looked like a panda with those dark shadows ringing his eyes. 

 

Oh, the contrast between the two of them. They must make a pretty funny picture.

 

“I am Even Bech Næsheim,” the strange boy- Even- quirked his eyebrows, probably amused at Isak’s floundering. “Your roommate?”

 

Oh. 

 

What the hell. Isak completely forgot about his roommate. The semester started weeks ago, and most students moved into their assigned dorm rooms by the end of the first week. Those who didn’t show up probably dropped out. Isak had figured he was one of the lucky few who got a room all to himself.

 

But apparently not. 

 

Not that he was complaining. 

 

Even said something about bringing the boxes in and disappeared down the hallway, leaving Isak scrambling to yank on his pants. 

 

Two seconds later, he re-appeared at the door, lugging a duffle and a brown box with him.

 

With only one leg in his jeans, Isak promptly misstepped and tripped over, faceplanting into the floorboards. 

 

Shit.

 

For a long, stretched-out moment, Isak imagined, in vivid detail, flinging himself out of the windows. Like some devastated maiden trying to escape the clutches of their evil suiters in those fairy tales of old. Except the windows in his room were really small, and Isak was not so sure he could squeeze through. 

 

He would probably get himself stuck in the window frame.

 

“Are you okay?” To his credit, Even actually sounded genuinely concerned. 

 

Isak groaned, forehead still leaning against the wood planes of the floor, face burning in embarrassment, not brave enough to lift his head and look his new roommate in the eyes just yet. 

 

“Yeah. Just. I’m not really awake.” 

 

“Shame. I was going to bribe you into helping me move my boxes. With pancakes.”

 

Isak perked up. Even was smiling at him, somewhat apologetically, as if it was his fault that Isak made an idiot of himself. 

 

Isak could detect no lie, nor insincerity, from that angelic face.

 

“Okay. I’ll help,” he mumbled, heart feeling strangely light. 

 

He went to help Even with his boxes. 

 

Even was standing at the stove, flipping pancakes. The radio was on, with some nameless, generic pop song playing in the background.   

 

“So. Isak. You are Isak, right?” Even asked. 

 

“Uh. Yeah, yeah.” Isak was sitting on the edge of the kitchen counter. Trying to remember how he usually arranges his limbs. Trying to sound casual, not too awkward or desperate. Trying not to stare at Even too much. 

 

He succeeded at none of those things. 

 

“Isak. What are you majoring in?”

 

“Biophysics.”

 

Even raised his eyebrows, “Ah, so I’m rooming with a genius. Good to know.”

 

Isak busied himself with his mug of coffee, trying to hide the flush in his cheeks. 

 

“Nei, nei! I mostly just rely on-- my friend, for the actual work,” He coughed out a dry laugh, “And you?”

 

“Film studies,” Even was now sprinkling chocolate chips into the half-cooked pancake batter. The kitchen is starting to waft with the mouth-watering smell of melted butter and chocolate. Isak couldn’t recall the last time this kitchen got properly used. He shared the kitchen with four other people, and none of them ever cook. Except for pots of coffee in the mornings. If that counted as cooking.

 

“Ah, so I’m rooming with a hipster. Good to know.” He smirked up from his mug.

 

Even grinned at him, eyes bright. Isak quickly looked away.

 

“This hipster may just teach you a few things about pop culture. You ever watched a Baz Luhrmann’s ?”

 

“Uhh-- Baz Luhrmann?”

 

“No way! You have never heard of Baz Luhrmann?”

 

“Nei! I’ve heard of it before. Baz Luhrmann. Baz Luhrmann?”

 

Even laughed, eyes crinkling, “I can’t believe you don’t know Baz Luhrmann! He is only, um, the best director ever.”

 

Isak tilted his head away in embarrassment, but couldn’t suppress the twitch of smile tugging at his lips.

 

“That’s okay,” Even hummed, while seamlessly flipping more pancakes onto the two plates that are quickly becoming the Leaning Towers of Pisa. “I shall educate you. You will be an uncultured heathen no more.” His hand movements with the frying pan were effortlessly familiar, as if he had done this a thousand times before. Making an ungodly amount of pancakes for two.

 

Isak briefly wondered if he had, in fact, done this countless times for a certain someone in his life, before hastily cut off that train of thought.

 

Stop it. He berated himself. Even is his roommate goddamn it. And he will be living in close proximity with Isak for the rest of the school year. The last thing he needed was to make things awkward between them.

 

“Ah-ha. I was wondering where these babies are,” Even whipped out two bottles of maple syrup with flourish, and Isak can’t help but find his antics unbearably endearing. Slowly and steadily, Even drizzled the syrup on top of the stacks, letting the clear, golden molasses drip down the sides.

 

Isak dug into his pancakes, while listening to Even drone on about Baz Luhrmann’s use of lurid colour palette in his framing narratives, and how he makes the most epic love stories, the ones where the main characters inevitably got killed off. The pancakes were ethereal. Every single bite was divine indulgence, the half-melted chocolate chips blending perfectly with the honey-sweet syrup. It was mouthful after mouthful of sinful, buttery delight.

 

Before long, the stacks of towering pancakes were devoured, and Isak had to leave for his lunch meeting with his project groupmates. Right before he left, he found himself promising Even to have a movie night soon, such that he can work on correcting Isak on all his ‘misconceptions’ about Hollywood cinema.

 

He hadn’t had a proper, hot meal for breakfast since forever, he reminded himself. He was sure the warmth in his chest was just the pancakes.

 

*