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in the half light

Chapter Text

"There's nothing here," Dan calls out, staring down at the empty till pulled halfway out. Who the fuck needs money in the apocalypse?

"I found a few things," Phil says, standing in the storage closet. He comes out with a few cardboard boxes that have been opened but clearly not deemed interesting enough to swipe. He looks delighted, though, as he upturns them onto the counter.

Little packets of shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste go spilling out everywhere.

"Oh my god," Dan moans, grabbing at them. "This is brilliant. I'm washing my hair ten times tonight."

Phil laughs. "You could do with it."

They recollect as much as they can into one box and leave it on the counter, methodically finishing the rest of their search. There's not much else; a few paperbacks that Phil holds like they're made of glass, a first aid kit abandoned underneath the sink in the small kitchen area, some packets of porridge that'll do as a nice break from tinned beans.

"Let's check the rooms," Dan says. He looks outside. It's not evening yet but the sun is sinking lower. "Maybe find one for the night."

"Do you think we can?" Phil says, like he doesn't dare to hope.

"The doors will have locks," Dan says. The truth is that he doesn't know what's safe and what isn't anymore, but his bones are tired and he wants to sit and rest a while.

*

"This is heaven," Phil says, moaning as he lays back against the mattress, head against a cheap striped throw.

The rooms smell stale and dusty, and the few nearest to the lobby had been torn apart, but closer to the back of the building they seemed untouched. There was even a vending machine with bottles of water and snacks that Dan is wondering if could be taken apart. It's only been two months. The chocolate may still be good, especially if there's any dark.

He looks at Phil with his eyes closed, how there are lines on his face Dan swears weren't there that long ago. He'd really like to get Phil some sweets if he can.

He walks into the bathroom and turns the tap on.

A rush of water comes out. It's brown at first, but it clears quickly.

"Phil!" He says, not shouting - they don't shout anymore - but speaking slightly louder than normal as he turns to stick his head back out the door. "It gets even better."

*

"You wash up first," Dan says.

Phil opens his eyes slowly. "You don't want to wash each other's hair?" He pouts.

They haven't actually had sex in almost a month. They've forged intimacy in other ways, and Dan's never been more a believer in lifelong love and partnership as he's become in the past two months, but sex - no. Too tired, too tense, too uncomfortable stealing nights in other people's homes after pilfering their belongings.

This isn't someone else's home, though. This is a room meant for temporary use, devoid of personality or family photos. Just the realization that they have time, relative security, and a mattress at their disposal - it's almost shocking how quickly the want arrives.

"We'll wash each other's hair before we leave tomorrow," Dan promises. "For now, let's just take turns washing up so we don't get the sheets filthy... with dirt, at least."

Phil laughs. "Fine, fine."

As soon as he's gone Dan digs through his pack for the little tool kit that's proven handy with getting doors open without too much sound. The vending machine is the old sort with uncovered hinges and screws on the side. He studies it from a few different angles before getting to work.

*

"Dan!" Phil's jaw drops when he walks into the small bedroom and sees a treasure of snacks spread out on the bed.

"I couldn't conjure up wine and roses," Dan says. "So hopefully Haribo and stale Walkers crisps will still sweep you off your feet."

Phil actually looks like he might cry. "You found sweets for me."

Dan sits on the edge of the bed. His face feels funny and he can't stop smiling. It’s strange what counts as a good day now. "You deserve them."

Phil leans in to kiss him, then stops. "I really want to kiss you," he says. "But you're disgusting and you need to brush your teeth."

Dan laughs and stands up. "Fair enough."

*

Sex will be good, Dan is sure.

But washing his hair might actually be better. There's a pile of towels collected from a few of the rooms and the water pressure holds, a testament to how they're in the middle of nowhere. In the cities taps run dry now but here, in the places that take them hours of walking, tanks are still full.

He scrubs everywhere and relishes in how he can feel the sweat and dirt running off his skin. Not a part of him goes without being slathered in soap at least three times over, and it doesn't even matter that the water is cold. It's refreshing and he feels alive for the first time in days.

But as the minutes pass he thinks of Phil waiting for him in a clean bed and another sort of desire beings to rear its head.

*

"Fuck," Dan says, panting.

He's climbed trees and hacked through walls and ran like his life depended on it more times than he can count in the past two months, but he's not sure any of them have made his heart pound like the sex they just had.

Phil looks equally shattered by his orgasm, though it doesn't stop him from rolling over to grab one of the chocolate bars thirty seconds later.

"You absolute glutton," Dan says, voice full of fondness. "Give me some of that."

Phil breaks it in half, some of the inside bits crumbling between them. "Oops," he says.

"You spork, we have to sleep here."

"We don't, though," Phil points out. "We can sleep in any of the other rooms."

".... you're right," Dan says. "You're very right."

*

They don't, in the end, move rooms. It sounds like too much work and they're both very tired. Sleeping normally happens in shifts, one of them curled up against or around the other who tries to stay more alert.

But the door locks and their bodies are tired and their bellies are full and for tonight, they let themselves stop to breathe and forget the hell they're living in.