The air still smells like popcorn though they’ve long since inhaled a whole bag each. Movie night isn’t movie night without too much artificial butter greasing the tips of their fingers and leaving a weird kind of film between their lips.
It doesn’t matter that they’re lying on separate couches and that the tv is about a fifth the size of the one at home and that there are wheels beneath them, carrying them to a new city while they lose themselves in a fictional world about a different kind of bus. As long as they have popcorn and each other and a pixelated story on a screen in front of them, the tradition of movie night lives on.
It’s important, Phil thinks, tradition. Ritual. Making time for the routines and comforts they would if they were back in their flat in London and not… wherever they happen to be tonight, whatever American state they happen to be rolling through.
Tradition would dictate a lot more cuddling and Phil’s fingers twirling in the fluffy waves of Dan’s hair, but this is good too. Backroom tour bus movie nights come with their own traditions, after all. Like spilling a little of whatever drink they’d fished from the mini fridge down their shirts whenever the bus hits a pothole or missing an important bit of dialogue when a fellow traveller honks their horn a little too aggressively.
Dan laughs at something happening in the film but Phil’s more interested in watching Dan. He’s wearing his pink hoodie tonight, the hood pulled up over his head, one of the toggles caught between his teeth as he stares— at Keanu or Sandra, Phil’s not sure. Probably both. Dan’s capacity for fruitless thirst is vast, after all.
Anyway, the point is he looks cute and Phil has seen this film a thousand times. He doesn’t really need to see it again but Dan had been excited about it, and Phil would never dream of disagreeing with something that made Dan happy.
So they’re watching Speed yet again and Phil’s not watching all that closely. He keeps looking across the small room at Dan, who looks extra cute in this particular hoodie. He looks good in colour, though Phil has long since stopped trying to convince him of such. Dan is going to wear what he wants to wear, and apparently tonight he’d wanted to wear the soft pink hoodie that happens to have the letters D&P on the front.
D&P. That’s them. That’s Phil and his boyfriend, partner in life and love and all that, and their initials are stamped on items of clothing that hundreds and thousands of people are willing to shell out a decent amount of money to own. He’s mostly used to stuff like that by now but sometimes in quiet moments like this it hits him with the full force of how truly insane it is.
He doesn’t think it will ever make sense to him. In a lot of ways he still feels like he did in the beginning, when he was twenty two and sat on the green carpet of his bedroom drawing whiskers on a gorgeous boy’s face. He doesn’t feel like someone people should be screaming for when he gets up in front of them on a stage, he’s just a guy who makes videos who happened to fall in love.
He’s feeling very in love tonight. There’s just something about Dan in that particular hoodie. It makes Phil think. About how everywhere they go feels like home as long as they’re together, about how everything they do is grounded in togetherness. About how they’re still choosing each other every single day, as they have for nearly a decade.
“Hey,” Phil says.
Dan lolls his head to the side. “What?”
“C’mere?” He loves the tour bus traditions. But right now he’s missing the old ones. He wants cuddles and hair twirling, even if it means cramming their lanky giraffe bodies into a space meant for one regular human-sized body.
“No room,” Dan says.
“I’ll make room.”
Dan narrows his eyes. “Serious?”
Phil nods, opening his arms. “Come to me please.”
Dan groans but he doesn’t argue anymore. Phil sits up and opens his legs for Dan to lie down between.
“This is stupid,” Dan says.
Phil ignores him completely, pulling the hood down and tipping Dan’s head back against his chest. “Your mum is stupid.”
Dan goes back to watching the movie, unbothered by Phil’s dumb joke. The words ‘your mum’ have next to no meaning to either of them anymore.
But Phil watches too. He has what he wants now, the weight of Dan’s body pressing back against him and Dan’s hair between his fingers. He’s not as distracted by thoughts of Dan when he’s close enough to feel the warmth of his skin and smell his cologne. He reaches his hand around to push Dan’s fringe up and off his forehead and Dan sighs contentedly.
“I’m gonna end up falling asleep,” he says.
“That’s ok,” Phil replies. “You’re allowed.”
“Wanna see how it ends.”
Phil chuckles. “You know how it ends. You just wanna stare at baby Keanu for as long as possible.”
Dan turns his head round to look up Phil. “I’m allowed.”
“You are,” Phil agrees, looking down and feeling fondness surge even stronger. Dan does look tired tonight, his eyes heavy lidded and ringed subtly with blue. It’s been a long day. A very long series of very long days, really.
Dan tilts his head back a little further, lips puckered expectantly. Phil leans down and kisses him, soft and chaste but lingering. When he pulls away Dan goes in for another.
The kisses don’t go anywhere. They’re not a precursor to more, just little intimacies traded simply to remind each other of the love between them.
Dan turns back to the film and Phil does too. He’s got everything he could possibly want in this moment.
Except maybe a giant bag of Haribo, but that would just be greedy.
Dan does fall asleep. Phil pauses the movie when he hears the change in Dan’s breathing. He looks down and allows himself a few minutes just to enjoy the way unconsciousness changes Dan’s face. He looks so young and peaceful and Phil thinks again of times years before, when Dan’s time with him was limited, a few days here and there whenever they could scrounge up enough money for train tickets from Wokingham to Manchester.
Eventually Phil nudges Dan gently and says, “Let’s go to bed.”
Dan blinks his eyes open and stretches out his legs as best he can in the cramped space. “Are we at the hotel?” he croaks.
“Not yet. I thought we could share the bottom bunk until we get there?” He fully expects Dan to argue.
“Gotta brush the popcorn out of my teeth first,” is all Dan says.
Phil smiles, leaning down and kissing Dan’s forehead. “Me too.”