It had started out as just another school event, if you could even call it that. It really was just a bunch of LGBTQ+ kids wearing pride badges on Spirit Day in solidarity with suicides committed by people in the community. Both to raise awareness and to show closeted people in their school that they were not alone. The idea was that people could ask the students with badges about sexuality and gender to educate them and ‘fight ignorance’ as the GSA had put it.
After his last class of the day, Phil was walking down the hallway towards his locker, fumbling with the pin on his shirt. Once he reached the little grey door that belonged to him, he stopped and looked up at the person in front of it.
“Hey,” Phil said, smiling down at the brunette standing in front of his locker. “How did the classrounds go?”
“You know how it is. A few homophobic comments here and there from a couple of douchebags, but most people were either really respectful and accepting about it or too scared to say anything in front of their teacher.” Cat turned to pull something out of the front pocket of her backpack, reemerging with her iphone in hand. “I think it helped that Drew and I were the straight part of the GSA.”
Phil shifted his feet and adjusted his fringe. “Yeah, talking to the students was a great initiative!”
“I doubt we changed any homophobes’ minds today, but I really believe it was great for a lot of closeted kids around here.”
“Yeah,” he answered absentmindedly as he started trying to get his pin off again. Once he finally did, he opened his locker and taped the button to the inside of the door. The action made Cat’s eyes widen.
“Oh I completely forgot to ask; how did your day go? Any negative reactions? If so I will come for them.”
“I’d like to see that,” Phil giggled, “but it’s not necessary; everyone was perfectly civil. And the most important people already knew anyway.”
Phil had wanted to be open about his sexuality for months now, but it’s not like it was something to come up in casual conversation with his classmates. He also didn’t want to make a whole thing out of it, because he couldn’t bring himself to subject himself to that awkwardness. Besides, why did he have to come out anyway? It only opened an opportunity for homophobes to bully him.
Walking into school one day wearing a pride badge? That seemed like the perfect way to let the whole school know at once.
Someone from across the hall shouted his name and Phil turned around to find his friend Louise waiting for him by the exit. “We’re going to miss our bus if you don’t hurry up!”
“I have to go,” he said to Cat, throwing open his backpack and shoving the books he needed into it.
“Run, Philip, run,” Cat smirked, closing his locker for him as he started running towards his neighbour.
He was almost at the bus stop, when he heard Cat running after him, yelling his name. Phil turned around, frowning and out of breath.
“What’s going on?”
“Something fell out of your locker,” she explained, not even having the decency to pretend to be panting. Stupid athletic people.
She handed him a piece of paper that was folded closed very neatly. Phil didn’t recognise it and surely didn’t recall how it could have ended up in his locker.
“Thanks,” Phil shrugged, before waving her goodbye as Louise tugged at his jacket to pull him along.
They had reached their bus right on time, but as he had spent the entire bus ride chatting with Louise, he only had time to investigate the piece of paper after he had finished dinner with his parents and older brother, who was visiting from university. To be honest, he would have forgotten about the note entirely, if it hadn’t been for his mum finding it in his trousers as she was about to do laundry. He sat down in front of his computer, planning on scrolling through tumblr for a bit, as he unfolded the piece of paper. The paper itself seemed to have been thorn from a lined notebook and once he could see writing, it was written in black ink in a hand he was just able to decipher. Phil’s eyes widened in surprise as he read;
I think I might be just like you.
He didn’t know what to think about the note or what it meant. At first he thought it was some kind of joke, but why would anyone go through all this trouble if they could just prank them in front of the whole school by throwing a slushy over him or something - okay maybe he had been rewatching Glee a bit too much, but the main thought still counts. Spinning absentmindedly on his chair, he considered the possibilities, but ultimately he decided that this could probably just be a fellow student figuring out their sexuality and wasn’t that the main reason for him participating today in the first place?
Finally he turned towards his laptop and opened his gmail account.
Oct 19 at 20:14
Dear not on fire? (I’m sorry I don’t know what to call you XD)
First off, my name is Phil, but you probably already knew that. You’re the one that left that note in my locker, right? (If this is the wrong email adres I’m so sorry)
Anyway, what do you mean ‘like me’? A gamer? A night owl? A dog fanatic? An emo? If it’s the last one then I’m sorry to disappoint you but it’s JUST THE HAIR OKAY?
I’m joking of course xP
He reread the email once, before pressing send, not wanting to linger on it for too long out of fear that he would chicken out or stress about it too much. He had decided not to reveal too much (personal) information, because it felt weird to immediately start talking about deep stuff like that to a complete stranger (it felt more like a void then a real person tbh).
Clicking into the next tab, he opened Tumblr and started scrolling through his dash to maybe get his mind to stop spinning, but he kept refreshing his gmail in the other tab every so often.
The next morning, Phil wandered through his morning routine as he usually did, showering and eating breakfast, before Louise rang the doorbell to walk to the bus stop together. It was only once they were seated and Phil’s coffee started taking effect that Phil had the time - and a sane enough mind - to open his email on his phone. After an entire evening of refreshing the page without any results, he was surprised to see a new email in his inbox. Nerves suddenly rushed through his veins as he quickly opened the mail to read;
Subject: Re: hi
Oct 20 at 03:42
Oh please no, don’t call me that xD I made this email when I was thirteen and thought I was edgy. You can call me… Blue? I don’t know, I’m just not really comfortable revealing my name just yet. I hope that’s alright.
Gamer; yes. Night owl; absolutely. Please don’t bring up emo it’s a very delicate (read cringeworthy) subject. Let’s be real though we all listened to My Chemical Romance at some point.
Now let’s get back to the real matter at hand; dogs. We’re not worthy of such creatures.
Phil smiled to himself as he read through the email and squirmed away from Louise as she tried to look over his shoulder.
“You’re the one being rude and antisocial,” she quipped, “come on you weirdo; we’re at the school.”
Phil arrived at his classroom right as the bell rang, so he had to wait until his break two hours later before he could respond. He could barely concentrate on the lesson though as his mind kept trying to draft a response to Blue.
During lunch, he and his friends always sat at the same table. It were actually two tables they had pushed together in the back of the dining hall, where they had squeezed extra chairs onto. Over the years, they had found the perfect seating arrangement; Phil sat on one side with his friend PJ next to him. Across from him sat Zoe, with her boyfriend Alfie sitting at the head of the table, and next to her sat Louise. Rose used to sit next to Louise, but she switched with Louise’s friend, Dan, so she could sit next to her girlfriend Rosie, who was sitting next to PJ. That left a girl named Bryony sitting next to Dan and Sophie sitting on the other head of the table. He was not going to lie and say that he knew everyone there. He basically only saw any of them during their shared lunch, except for Louise and PJ. Rose and Rosie were shared presidents of the GSA, so he was acquainted with them through that, and he actually used to date Rosie, before he figured out he was gay. They were still friends, but he didn’t really know how they ended up at the table. He knew Bryony was a friend of Dan and Dan - like most other people - was friends with Louise, so he figured they were friends with Bryony or something.
He spend most days chatting with Louise, PJ, Alfie and Zoe, seeing as they were sat closest to him, and it was usually then that he got caught up with all the gossip in school and with what was going on with his group of friends. Lately, though, he only halfway followed the conversation, while most of his concentration was invested in him looking at the other people around the canteen. His eyes moved from table to table, hoping to recognise a face he’d never seen before.
It had been a few weeks since he’d first emailed Blue and with every email he longed to know who he was more and more.
Phil heard PJ say his name before he felt a finger poke into his sides.
“What,” he asked as he squirmed away from him and looked at his friend with betrayed eyes. The entire table started laughing at the scene and Phil eyed the people around him sheepishly. His eyes left Louise and fell on Dan, who was smiling along with the rest of the table and Phil noticed for the first time that he had dimples when he did. It was really freaking adorable. Once he caught Phil’s eyes, Dan ducked his head and quickly focussed on Rose, who was eating chocolate and teasing Rosie.
“Where’s your head at? Zoe has been asking you how your maths quiz went for five minutes.”
“Oh, sorry, Zoe! It went well, how about yours?”
After the bell sounded to signify the end of lunch period, Louise joined him on their way to biology.
“So are you going to tell me what’s been going on with you,” she asked as they left the lunchroom to a less crowded hallway.
“What do you mean,” he replied, trying to look as normal and inconspicuous as possible.
“Oh come on, don’t give me that face.” When she saw his confused expression, she continued, “that ‘i’m an innocent bambi and i don’t know what you’re talking about’ face. Your mind is always somewhere else and you keep checking your phone every five seconds.” Phil flinched at how observant his best friend was.
“It’s nothing,” Phil lied. He didn’t like keeping things from Louise and felt bad for neglecting their friendship. She had been the first person he had been able to talk to about his big sexuality crisis ™, as they had coined it, and he knew that he could always rely on her, but telling her about Blue would only raise more questions that he couldn’t answer. Both because he didn’t know the answer and because it wasn’t all up to him to tell. Besides, he liked to keep Blue for himself a little bit longer, even though they had already been talking for weeks. “I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately.”
Louise looked like she doubted that, but like a true friend she answered; “Okay, but know that whatever it is, you can always come to me.”
“Of course,” he smiled back as they continued towards their destination and changed their topic to the annoying pop quizzes of Mrs. Fernand.
Subject: Re: weird kid
Jan 10 at 12:13
I’m starting to regret giving you my email. Floating people outside your bedroom window? I’m really questioning your sanity right now. I’m only considering sticking around because you like Muse almost as much as me.
But no really, I think we all did a bunch of things as kids that might be considered as ‘questionable’ or ‘weird’. I mean I never ate fish food, but I’m sure most kids have told stupid lies or been jealous about people getting attention (even if it was because of a broken arm).
Talking about childhood though, did you know that you were gay when you were younger? I’m sorry if this is a little straight (haha) forward.
Subject: Re: weird kid
Jan 10 at 17:31
Yeah, you’re probably right xD. I feel like kids have a closer connection to the astral plane or something…
I didn’t actually. I figured it out about two years ago though. But there were things that I did as a kid that when thinking back at it I’m like ‘oooh so that’s why I did that!’. For example when I was - like - seven, I used to be obsessed with this one guy in my class. At the time I was convinced we were best friends and I got really jealous of any other friends he might have. Now I realise that a, that friendship was really one-sided and the guy probably thought I was super clingy and b, I probably had a giant crush on him. Yeah, if I wasn’t so oblivious I’m pretty sure I would have figured out my sexuality a lot sooner xD.
How about you? Do you have any idea about what your sexuality might be?
Subject: Re: weird kid
Jan 10 at 23:49
I don’t really know… I’m pretty sure I like both men and women, but whenever I try using the bisexual label I’m afraid that I might be lying? I know it sounds weird… but it’s like I’m afraid to commit to a certain label, because I’m scared that in two years I’ll suddenly realise I only liked women because that’s what society has told me to like all my life.
But then at other times I’ll see a girl who is super attractive and I’ll be 100 percent convinced I like both.
And I’d like to think this is normal, you know, like you’re not constantly aware of your attraction to whatever gender unless you are directly confronted with it, but then I don’t really have this with guys. So I guess I’m definitely not straight, which is at least one thing ruled out xD
If you only found out two years ago, what was it that made you realise or at least the moment when you knew 100 percent?
Subject: Re: Weird kid
Jan 11 at 7:31
I was dating this girl at the time. It was one of those relationships where you acknowledged that you’re close and have a lot in common but nothing really happens?
And then one day we were hanging out and she kissed me and I freaked out and left. Not one of my proudest moments. It’s up there on the list with walking into a street post because I was laughing at my friend PJ after he had walked into it first. I’m quite clumsy.
It doesn’t sound weird at all. There are different terms that you could explore such as pansexual (though I’m not quite sure what the difference is between pan and bi), fluid, abrosexual or you could just choose to not label yourself at all. You don’t need to label your attraction for it to be real. You should pass by a GSA meeting sometime, we discuss a lot of different labels and ways to express yourself and your sexuality.
It could maybe also be a way for us to finally meet in real life… If that’s something you would want of course…
I know that I can’t stop thinking about you and who you are.
It was Monday morning when Phil walked into his English class. He sat down at his usual desk in the first row and scanned the people that we’re already there. No one seemed to be paying him a lot of attention, but when his eyes fell on Dan and they locked eyes, Phil gave him a small smile, before Dan quickly looked towards Cat, who was sitting next to him. It was one of their only shared classes, but yet they still barely talked.
Phil looked back to the front of the classroom, where their teacher was just starting to explain their next assignment. Immediately Phil dozed off towards the last email he had sent to Blue. He hadn’t gotten a reply yet and he was getting more and more worried that he had been too forward or had said something wrong. Granted it had only been an hour, so it was more likely that Blue just hadn’t read it yet.
Still, Phil kept asking himself ‘what if’-questions.
What if Blue didn’t feel the same way? What if he didn’t want to chat with him anymore? He didn’t think he could handle that rejection. It had only been three months of emailing back and forth, but he had already become so accustomed to having him in his life, it was kind of frightening how dependent he had already gotten on a stranger.
But it didn’t feel like a stranger. It felt like he had known this guy for his entire life, whomever he might be. And the thought that it could still be a random catfish was sickening. But no one could fake that well, right?
He woke up from his thoughts right in time to hear that they should pair up now and as soon as the teacher was finished speaking, Phil looked up to see Dan standing next to his table.
“Hi,” Phil smiled up at him, getting up from his seat because Dan was almost as tall as him and he just realised how intimidating he himself must look when in the same position.
“Hi,” Dan replied, fidgeting with his sleeves, “would you like to work-“
“Hey, Phil,” Stephen interrupted him, “we’re working together right?”
Phil goggled at both of them. He hated choosing between people.
Dan had asked first and he’d already worked with Stephen on his previous assignment, so he probably would have picked him - if it hadn’t been for his sneaking suspicion that Stephen was Blue.
“I, uh, ..” Phil frowned, not knowing what to say.
“No, it’s fine,” Dan assured Phil with a slight blush when Phil caught his eyes, “I usually pair up with Cat anyway.”
He turned around to leave, before Phil could say anything else, but when he did, he stopped in his tracks when he noticed Cat had already paired up with someone else.
“You know what,” Phil chimed up, “we can work in a group of three! We’re uneven anyway and it doesn’t look like there already is a group with three people.”
“Are you sure,” Dan asked, “I can work alone?”
“Don’t be daft” Stephen said, “of course you can join us.”
Phil smiled at him gratefully and the thought that he might be Blue once again crossed his mind. When he looked at Dan though, he didn’t look relieved, but more in pain than anything else. Phil gave him a reassuring nod and Dan sighed and gave him a soft smile in return.
“Great! We can work together. If we all read the book by Friday, you guys can come over to my house to write the paper together?”
They finished making plans on what book they were going to read and on what time everyone could meet on Friday. By the time they had arranged everything, the bell rang and Phil had to leave for his next class.
Dan had moved to his seat to pack his bag and Phil felt bad for him. He had been quiet and held back during their whole exchange and granted, he didn’t really know him outside of lunchroom, but it didn’t feel like him.
He waved goodbye at Stephen as he was already leaving the classroom and he once again wondered if he might be Blue, before moving passed Dan’s desk.
He touched Dan’s arm to get his attention and he turned around with wide eyes, almost looking bewildered.
“See you during lunch,” he smiled at Dan and Dan’s face immediately fell back into the sad smile he’d worn before.
“Yeah, see you,” he replied, before throwing his bag over his shoulder and joining Cat as she was leaving for their next class.
He didn’t know what to make of him quite yet, but thoughts of Dan left his mind as he walked into the hallway and started checking his phone for a new email of Blue.
His heart stopped when he noticed a new email in his inbox and he remembered what he had said in his last message.
He quickly opened it and read;
Subject: Re: Weird kid
Jan 11 at 9:37
I think I’m indeed going to stick to labelless for the time being :-)
I think about you all the time, too.
Subject: THE TRUTH
Jan 12 at 19:23
I have a confession to make. And I know this might be shocking and life-altering but it has to be said.
I don’t naturally have black hair.
In fact, my hair is actually quite light in colour.
Some people may call it…. Ginger.
Please don’t hate me for keeping this from you.
Subject: Re: THE TRUTH
Jan 12 at 19:32
I’m filing for divorce this instant. How could you have kept this from me for so long????
I’ll never be able to trust you again… How could you do this to us??? To our children???
But now we’re having honesty hour; though I do have my natural hair colour, mind you, I do straighten it every day. Otherwise I look like a hobbit xp
Not saying there is anything wrong with hobbits!! It’s just not a good look on me XD
Subject: Re: THE TRUTH
Jan 12 at 19:40
Nooooo!!!! I’ll never sign the papers! What about Thor and Belinda?? We have to try for them, our precious babies >.<
I bet you look cute with your curls though!!!
Subject: You’re wrong
Jan 14 at 16:23
Okay, we’ll agree to disagree on the ‘shark vs bear’ debate. Even though you’re obviously wrong ;) Next question - and I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to agree on this one; best anime besides Food Wars?
Obviously Free!. I mean, the animation is pretty and easy and it’s such an interesting but fun story to watch.
Also dreamy af guys and by guys I mean Haru ;)
Subject: Re: You’re wrong
Jan 14 at 17:01
Okay, okay, I see your Free! and I raise you Magi. Usually I would go for Attack on Titan, but the genres are too different to compare >.<
If you’re interested in sport animes though, you should check out this new anime called Yuri!!! On Ice (it even has three !!!’s, must mean it’s even better than Free!, right?). There are only three episodes out, but it looks really promising! Beautiful animation and figure skating!!!
I probably would be jealous of your crush on Haru, but I’ll let it slide because he looks so much like me ;)
Subject: Re: You’re wrong
Jan 14 at 17:05
Shit you’re right.
Subject: Re: You’re wrong
Jan 14 at 18:15
Okay, I just watched the first three episodes of Yuri!!! On Ice and holy fuck.
By Friday afternoon he’d seen Stephen around the school a few more times and Phil hadn’t been able to tear his eyes away each time. He had to admit that a lot of the times he’d purposefully walked passed his locker and he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t been memorizing some of his class schedule.
He couldn’t help it. The thought that he might be Blue… the thought that the person he was (not so) slowly becoming obsessed with was so close by was invigorating. There was still a voice in the back of his head reminding him that Stephen might not be Blue at all, but then there was also Stephen’s locker, which was decorated on the inside with anime merch and band stickers. And there was the growing list of all that was blue about him. His favorite shoes, his bookbag, his jeans (though Phil had to admit that wasn’t a very valuable clue), his instagram and tumblr theme,... He was also part of the school’s swimming team, so could you blame him for being attracted to Stephen?
Though he thought he had a pretty good hypothesis, it was driving him insane that he didn’t know for sure.
That day during lunch, the seating arrangement had switched again in favour of PJ being able to sit closer to Sophie. He’d know about PJ’s unsubtle crush on Sophie for a while, but as far as Phil knew, all his flirting attempts had been fruitless. He also had no idea whether this new ‘changing of the table’ tactic was going to work, but he was rooting for his friend.
Now Louise was sitting next to him instead. After he had taken his seat and had taken note of the new seating arrangements, the first thing he noticed was Dan, who was sitting in Louise’s old seat next to Zoe.
“You didn’t straighten your hair today,” Phil raved, “I like it.”
Dan blushed and murmured out a thank you, absentmindedly touching one of his curls.
“It will be great for Benvolio!” Louise commented, sounding like a proud mom.
“Benvolio?” Phil asked, turning towards his neighbour.
“He plays Benvolio in the upcoming Romeo and Juliet play,” she answered, leaning forward to ruffle her hand through his hair. Welcoming a screech of ‘hey’ as Dan pulled away and tried to fix the non-existent damage. He still looked wonderful in Phil’s opinion. He thought about Blue and if he’d be able to see his curls some day…
“I didn’t know you were into theater?”
“Uh, yeah I have been for the passed three years. Mainly just small roles though with no text.”
“Oh, that’s so cool!”
They continued talking for the rest of lunch period and when the bell rang he promised to see Dan after school for their English assignment.
He was waiting by the exit, when he decided to check his email again. His heart swelled at the new message waiting in his inbox.
Phil jumped and clutched his phone to his chest as he turned to see Stephen watching over his shoulder. “Oh,” Phil released his breath, his heart still beating a mile per hour.
“I was checking my email,” he replied, trying to read Stephen’s expression for any sense of recognition. All he did was shrug and turn around to greet Louise and Dan who came walking towards them.
“Hi, we all ready to go,” he asked, looking back at Phil.
“Sure,” Phil answered, smiling as he looked into his green eyes, “let’s go.”
Though he usually sat next to Louise on the bus, since there were two newcomers today he subtly made it so that he was sitting next to Stephen. Dan and Louise were close friends anyway, so he knew they wouldn’t mind.
They were quiet for the first couple of minutes into the busride and the bus was so crowded and loud that he couldn’t hear anything of Louise and Dan’s conversation, who were sitting across the row. The silence wasn’t uncomfortable though and Phil’s eyes were trained on their knees, which were slightly touching.
“I saw your badge on Spirit Day,” Stephen began, making Phil look up from his notebook hopefully. They were sat at his dinner table, writing down points to say during their presentation. “I didn’t know you’re gay.”
“Yeah, a lot of people didn’t,” Phil shrugged, “I had only told close friends.”
“I get that. I don’t tell people I’m bisexual until I know they won’t mind.”
“Oh, so you’re already out,” he asked, frowning. He put his pen down and propped his head up with his fist.
“Not to my parents, but almost everyone at school had already guessed so anyway.”
Phil nodded in understanding. “Did you mind?”
“Kind of?” Stephen answered, “I mean I’m fine and it’s never really been a problem for anyone, but sometimes it feels like I never had an option to tell people on my own terms.”
“But wasn’t it nice that you didn’t really have to make a big deal out of it? I don’t know, but to me ‘coming out’ always felt like such an unfair chore. Why do we have to warn people about who we are and who we love?”
Suddenly, Stephen leaned forward and pressed his lips against Phil’s. Once the surprise faded and Phil’s brain started working again, he reciprocated the kiss, moving his lips along with Stephen, resting his hands on Stephen’s shoulder.
When they heard a cough coming from the doorway, they jumped apart. Phil stared in horror at the person who had just walked back into the room, but his terror faded a little as he realised it wasn’t one of his parents. Though Dan, whom had just been calling his parents in the next room, walking in on them wasn’t much better. He had a small blush on his face and was avoiding Phil’s gaze.
“Uhm, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“No, it’s my fault don’t worry about it,” Stephen calmly eased Dan, which Phil was grateful for because he wasn’t able to talk. Phil looked up to find Dan staring at Stephen in what seemed like anger, but it faded as he noticed Phil watching him.
“I need to go,” he said and moved to collect his stuff, ”I just came to grab my bag.”
“Oh, okay,” Phil frowned, “I guess we can work on the project another time?”
“Yeah, sure,” Dan answered, but he was already heading towards the front door.
Once he was gone, he turned to find Stephen also putting his stuff into his backpack.
“You’re also leaving?”
“Yeah, sorry, I feel bad about working ahead without Dan,” He finished making his bag and looked back around to Phil with a small smile on his face, “and I don’t know, maybe we can go on an actual date sometime?”
Phil looked over his face. His really nice face. He really was cute and nice and the kiss had been pleasant, but…
“I’m sorry, I really think you’re a great guy and a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have wanted anything less..,”
“But,” Stephen interrupted him, still smiling kindly, but with obvious sadness and disappointment in his eyes.
“But,” Phil admitted, “you’re not the person I’m looking for right now, I’m sorry…”
“You already said that,” he smiled slyly, “but it’s okay. I understand.”
He stood up to leave, “See you in school Monday?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll walk you out.”
Once Phil had closed the door behind him, he sighed. He really did like Stephen, but throughout their conversations he had gotten more and more certain that Stephen couldn’t be Blue. And while their kiss had been amazing, all he could think about during it was if he really was Blue or not. He obviously had someone else stuck in his head. And even now, even though he had just rejected someone as great as Stephen, all he could do was smile at the thought of Blue. So he ran upstairs to send him an email.
Jan 15 at 18:45
Do you know that feeling when you’re missing something or someone but you don’t know what? It’s just this feeling of sadness and longing to something you can’t explain. However I know who I’m missing, I just don’t know how to get to them.
Please tell me who you are.
It took Blue a whole weekend to reply, during which Phil spent most time scrolling through tumblr to get his mind off of him. Failing every half hour by checking his gmail account.
By the time he did reply late Sunday evening, he was so defeated that he couldn’t reply right away. Instead opting to leave it until the next day.
Subject: Re: please
Jan 17 at 23:55
What’s the point of knowing if you’re only going to be disappointed by who I really am anyway? Obviously I know who you are, but I think if the roles had been reversed I would have hoped it were you who was writing me. But you still haven’t figured it out, because you don’t want the real me. You were hoping for someone else. Someone better than I could ever be. Someone you deserve.
Go be with the person you really want to be with. I don’t want to hold you back just to make you feel guilty when you find out it’s me and you’ll have to reject me. I think he’s a nice guy and you deserve to be with someone like him.
Monday he spent all day worrying about Blue’s letter and if it was going to be his last one. It had sounded an awful lot like a goodbye, something he’d been dreading since his third email. He couldn’t concentrate in any of his classes as lines of the email kept flashing through his head along with fragments of a response he was trying to put together.
During Lunch, Dan had switched places with Bryony, so that he was once again sitting further away from Phil. He worried it probably had something to do with him walking in on him and Stephen on Friday, but when the bell rang he was gone so quick that he couldn’t formally apologize.
When he was walking to his first class of the afternoon, he found Stephen waiting at his locker.
“Hi,” Phil greeted him, smiling slightly because he didn’t know how else to behave.
“Hey,” Stephen replied, “I’m just here to talk about when we could meet next for our book report. You think Dan is free tomorrow after school?”
“I can ask, later today.”
“Okay, great!” Stephen adjusted his bag strap, “I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” Phil said as Stephen started to walk away, but after a step or two he turned back around and added;
“And whomever you are looking for, I hope you find him.”
“Thank you,” Phil smiled sadly, thinking about Blue being angry with him.
“It’s that Blue guy right?” Phil looked up.
“I saw you reading his email, but only put things together after I got home that evening,” he explained after seeing Phil look at him in confusion. “You thought I was Blue because everything about me is blue, right?”
He caught Phil’s sheepish expression, “Hey, it’s okay, I just wanted to apologize and say that if I had known in advance I wouldn’t have kissed you. I mean I still would have wanted to, but it wasn’t right.”
Phil looked up at him - or down because he himself was a little taller than him - and a real smile crept over his face. Once again he wished that Stephen could have been Blue, because he really was a nice guy. He immediately felt guilty again; this was exactly why Blue was angry with him and Phil was starting to understand what he meant. “Thanks again. See you tomorrow.”
Stephen didn’t reply, but just waved as he turned around, leaving Phil feeling confused about life.
After school he went to the auditorium. He peeked into the room to find most of the drama club standing in various positions on the stage at the front of the room. He found Dan quietly talking to Bryony - Phil once again frowned at how badly he knew the people at his lunch table - and after a few minutes of Phil waiting patiently at the door, the drama teacher dismissed them for the day. Phil saw his chance and walked into the room as most of the other students left through a backstage door. He rushed over to Dan and Bryony before they could disappear also, and they stopped in surprised when they saw him.
“Hey!” Bryony greeted him as Dan uncomfortably shuffled his feet. “What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk to Dan for a second if that’s alright.”
Bryony gave Dan a look that Phil couldn’t follow, and Dan seemed to glare at her for a second, before Bryony shrugged and said, “Go ahead, I’ll wait on him backstage.”
She left with a small smirk on her face and Phil looked at Dan to find him looking pissed off and uncomfortable.
“Hey,” Phil asked, “are you okay?”
“Yeah, sure, perfectly fine,” he answered, but Phil could still feel some hostility and definitely sarcasm in his tone, which made him flinch a little.
“I’m sorry about Friday. I really didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“You mean you didn’t want me to walk in on you.” He folded his arms and had his gaze fixed on something behind Phil. They were standing at the front of the stage, so Phil sat down and let his legs dangle over the edge.
“Well, yeah, that too,” he admitted. He patted on the stage next to him and Dan sighed, but relented and sat down.
“Hey, you straightened your hair again,” Phil exclaimed when he looked at the boy sitting next to him. “What about Benvolio,” he asked with a sly smile, bumping his shoulder into Dan’s, who just shrugged in response.
Phil looked at him and was blown away by Dan’s eyes. He could only see them from the side, but they were a vast brown full of thoughts and emotions. They were beautiful.
“When’s the first public performance,” Phil asked to keep the conversation going.
“Saturday evening, but students get to see it Friday afternoon.”
“You must be very busy then, do you still have time to meet up and finish our assignment? Because if not we can push it until next week…”
“Next week would be great, thanks,” Dan replied, glancing up at Phil.
“Great, I have to go now though, or I’ll miss my bus.” Phil stood up and offered his hand to Dan. Dan took it and pulled himself up. “See you around?”
“Yeah, sure, see you.”
Phil started walking off the stage, when he heard Dan call out, “So what happened to Stephen?”
Turning back around, he saw that Dan was looking down at his hands with which he was fidgeting. “It’s none of my business, but…”
“It didn’t really work out,” Phil answered with a kind smile, “he wasn’t the one I’m looking for.”
“Oh that’s too bad.”
“You know,” Phil added as an afterthought as he watched the brunette in front of him, “I don’t really know that much about you, Daniel Howell.”
“I guess you don’t,” he replied.
“Well, I’d like to get to know you better,” Phil said, making Dan look up and look him in the eye for one of the first times during their conversation.
“Really,” Dan asked, looking playfully suspicious.
“I mean, most of my friends seem to like you, so you can’t be too bad,” Phil smiled back.
“I don’t know, Phil, for all you know I could be killing small animals in the woods to prepare for my first human victim,” Dan fired back, making Phil giggle.
“I’m willing to take the risk.” Dan blushed slightly and Phil saw a real smile creep over his face. “I’ll see you later then.”
Subject: I’m sorry
Jan 18 at 17:12
You think I could ever be disappointed by who you are? The truth is that I already know who you are. You’re a massive dork who loves anime and video games and stupid puns, but you’re also intelligent and like to overanalyze things. You have great taste in music and spend way too much time on Tumblr. I know you stay up way too late, because you always reply to my emails at unholy hours. I know about your pet hamster with super strength (may they travel the wilderness in peace), about your secret curls and about your fear of slenderman and moths.
You’re stubborn and a sarcastic little shit sometimes, but you’re also sweet and compassionate and you stand up for what you believe in.
If you’re not ready to tell me who you are yet, that’s fine, but please don’t stop emailing me. I honestly don’t think I could handle losing you.
The next day, during lunch, Phil still hadn’t gotten a response, but on the bright side, Dan was sitting in his seat across from Louise again.
It was Friday right after lunch when Phil headed to his locker. He needed to take out his books for during the weekend, so he wouldn’t have to come back after the Romeo and Juliet performance. Cat was waiting in front of his locker again.
“What?” Phil asked while using his key to open his locker.
“According to the Roses, a new member has signed up for the GSA! Don’t know who yet, but they’ll introduce themselves during the next meeting.” Her usual brown hair was partly dyed blue this week, which made Phil smile, before he remembered that he hadn’t heard from Blue since his last email. “That’s great! Can’t wait to meet them.”
“I thought you were reading Oliver Twist for your English assignment,” she asked as she looked at Phil’s locker, reaching in to grab a thin paperback copy of Romeo and Juliet that had fallen behind his normal books.
“I am,” Phil replied, frowning in confusion, “I have never seen that before.”
“Phil Lester, why do I have sense of deja vu? Do you have a secret admirer that I don’t know about,” Cat rested her hand on her hip and cocked it, eyes gleaming. “First that note and now this?”
“It’s nothing,” Phil blushed. He took the book from Cat as the bell rang, indicating they had to go to the auditorium for the play. Cat gave him a knowing look, before walking away to join Drew and Ingrid who were waiting for her at the end of the hallway. Phil noticed PJ standing next to his own locker a little down the hall, holding hands with Sophie as they were engulfed in their own conversation, apparently PJ really had more game than Phil had given him credit for.
Phil looked at the copy of Romeo and Juliet. There wasn’t anything written in the cover or anything to indicate who the owner was or used to be. Shrugging, he closed his locker and started making his way to the auditorium for the play. He sat down on a seat Louise had saved for him and started going through the pages as the play started. He tried to pay as much attention to the performance as possible, especially when Bryony as Rosaline and Dan were on stage, but his mind kept wondering who could have put it in his locker. Eventually he decided to just follow the script along with the play. It was then that he turned the page to find a quote that had been highlighted with a blue marker.
Phil’s eyes widened and he looked up right when Dan, as Benvolio, had to say the sentence. As he did, he didn’t look at the guy playing Mercutio or at anything else on stage; he was looking Phil right in the eyes.
Ben: Blind in his love and best befits the dark.
And Phil exploded.
Thousands of butterflies seemed to be fighting for dominance in his stomach and his brains turned to putty. Dan quickly focussed on continuing the play, but Phil needed a moment.
Where he thought of blue jeans and jackets, oceans and blue smoke, all he now saw was ashes and ink, skinny jeans and dark cinnamon eyes. He saw dimples and blushed cheeks and oversized sweaters.
“Are you okay,” Louise asked him, placing a worrying hand on his arm.
“Better than ever,” he replied, making Louise frown as she looked form him to the stage and back. In the end she seemed to decide to just let it be.
He had noticed earlier on that Dan’s hair was curled again and he could smash himself in the face for not having realised sooner that Dan was Blue. His lips shaped into a smile. He watched Dan in awe for the rest of the play, noticing how good of an actor he was and how much he seemed to enjoy being on stage, even though he usually was pretty quiet.
When the performance was finally over - and Phil had applauded as loud as he could without looking like a freak - Phil excused himself in front of Louise and hurried to the back of the building, where the backstage exit was situated. He sat down with his back against the wall as he waited for Dan to emerge, glad he was wearing a thick winter coat. As he waited, he took out his phone and started going over their passed emails. Of course Dan was Blue , Phil facepalmed, no one else knew about his kiss with Stephen. Phil really was an idiot.
When people finally started coming out, Phil stood up and started fidgeting with his hands. Eventually Bryony and Dan walked out together and Phil’s throat constricted when he saw the beautiful brunette.
“Hey, Phil,” Bryony greeted him with a smirk, “I’ll leave you two to talk.”
“Hey, yeah thanks,” Phil lamely replied, not being able to look away from Dan, who was - as usual - avoiding his gaze and nervously fidgeting with his sleeves.
Once Bryony had left, Phil stood there staring at Dan, until he finally looked up.
“I’m sorr - “ Dan started to say eventually, but Phil stopped him by taking a step forward and a moment later, Phil’s arms were wrapped around Dan’s neck. He could smell Dan’s shampoo and feel him shyly place his arms on Phil back. His curls tickled against his neck in the best way and Phil wished he could stay like this forever. He couldn’t believe he was finally holding Blue - Dan - the person he’s been crazy about for months.
“Don’t apologize,” Phil whispered, “Never apologize; you’re perfect.”
Phil suddenly realised Dan was crying by the soft sobs he was emitting and he wanted to pull away, thinking he had overstepped, but he could feel Dan wrapping his arms around him a little tighter, so he nestled closer into him and held him as close as possible.
Eventually Dan pulled away and wiped his eyes, cheeks flushed. “Thank you.”
“For what,” Phil asked, “being a massive idiot?”
“You’re not an idiot,” Dan smiled, “Thank you for actually emailing me instead of just throwing it away. Thank you for putting up with me and making me feel alive.”
“No, thank you for choosing me,” Phil smiled back, but he was starting to feel like crying himself.
“Whom else would I have been able to trick into liking me.”
“Hey!” Phil slapped Dan’s arm slightly, making Dan giggle in the most adorable way.
“Why did you pick the name ‘Blue’ anyway,” Phil asked, making Dan flinch slightly.
“As you may have realised through my email address, i cannot pick names for myself,” Dan blushed, “But i may have been thinking about your eyes.”
Phil’s heart grew two sizes. “Well, mister Howell, that completely derailed my investigation!”
“It wasn’t supposed to be a clue!” Dan defended himself, eyes shining.
“Okay then, Dan, would you like to go out with me tonight?”
“I would like nothing more.”
That evening Dan and Phil were walking along Portland Street in Manchester city. They had just eaten dinner at Jamie’s Italian and Phil was ecstatic to be holding Dan’s hand.
While they were walking and banting, they kept playfully pushing each other until they barely walked into an old couple.
“That was your fault!”
“No, it wasn't! It was your limb that almost tore her head off!”
“Hey, you’re the one that pushed me,” Phil fired back, barely containing his laughter.
“You started it,” Dan stuck out his tongue at Phil, earning another shove as he burst out laughing. He had a loud laugh, that showed he was truly happy and it was quickly becoming one of Phil’s favorite sounds. He had been learning so much about Dan in the last few hours. He had thought he had known Blue through their emails, but combining everything he knew about Blue with his lack of familiarity with Dan left Phil constantly surprised still. For example, he had never taken Blue for someone who liked to be on a stage and he never would have guessed Dan had taught himself how to play the piano or knew what Tumblr and memes were. Besides, there were things to love about a person that Phil hadn’t even thought about before. Like the person’s laugh, the way their hands fit into his own, the way it felt when looking into their eyes, the sound of their voice,... Phil constantly found more things to love about Dan.
“Let’s go on the Wheel!” Phil exclaimed as they walked into Piccadilly Gardens. Pulling Dan along by the hand, until they were stood in line.
“I did not consent to this,” Dan laughed, but holding Phil’s hand a little tighter.
“It’ll be fun! I always try to do this whenever I come into the city in the evening.”
As they waited for their turn, Dan looked up at Phil - Phil could hardly believe there was someone who was only an inch shorter than him - and leaned into his side, tucking his head on Phil’s shoulder.
He stayed that way until they were seated in their compartment on their way up. Dan sat up straight so he was able to look at Phil and Phil lost himself in his eyes. Their hands were entwined between them and their legs were touching. Phil felt intoxicated by this entire evening. From finding out who Blue was to the joy of getting to spend time with Dan in person. The feeling of Dan’s hand in his and Dan’s breath against his neck. The overwhelming feeling of being engulfed in Dan’s scent.
It all felt like a dream.
“Can I kiss you,” Dan asked shyly, making Phil gasp slightly and nod in reply. When Dan leaned in, Phil could feel his heart drop as if time itself was stopping especially for them and when their lips met, it was euphoria. Their lips moved in unison and Phil let go of Dan’s hands so he could cup the boy’s face, stroking his thumb over Dan’s cheek and his dimples. It was relief, like coming home from a long and dangerous journey and excitement, like swimming down too deep and finally reaching the surface again. It was all that and more, wrapped in warm blankets and clouds, wrapped in happiness and comfort.
When they pulled away, Phil rested his forehead against Dan, both breathing heavily with smiles creeping over their faces. Phil couldn’t help but wrap his hands around Dan again.
“You should have used ‘Bear’ as your pseudonym,” he mumbled into Dan’s hair.
“What?” Dan giggled, “why?”
“Because you’re so soft and warm. Like a giant teddy bear.”
Dan’s laugh filled the cabin and he pulled away from Phil, “You’re a weirdo.”
Phil protested, but Dan just giggled and shut him up with another kiss. This one short and sweet and a promise for more to come.
“But I still like you.”
The next Monday, the dining hall seating arrangements had changed once again. Louise was back in her old seat next to Zoe, so Dan could take his seat next to Phil. Once everyone realised they were holding hands and not so subtly leaning into one another, they all got showered with congratulations. Dan had told Phil that he had already confided in Bryony about the whole situation, so she called Dan a dork and pushed him into telling her she had been right all along, before admitting that she was indeed happy for the both of them.
Louise was slightly offended that neither one of them had talked to her about the whole situation, especially seeing as she “was the best friend of both of them”, but she ultimately couldn’t be more excited.
Phil was glad no one asked Dan about his sexuality, because he knew that was still something Dan was trying to figure out.
Dan wrapped an arm around Phil’s shoulder and pulled him closer.
They would figure everything out together.