Phil wasn't in despair. He truly wasn't. He was a normal 30-something year old male who was constantly trying to find his purpose in life. He knew he had a good job, caring fans and a loving boyfriend, he was realistic enough in his thought pattern to realise his privileges, so he didn't know what he lacked. If he had fulfilled all societal criteria of a successful life, how could he still feel so empty.
"Phil, how are you always so happy?"
He was immediately snapped out of his thoughts. Deep breath in and out Phil, you can do this. It's not technically lying, you're just selectively showing the positive sides of yourself. He tried to reason. It's just a YouNow chat.
He let out a slightly awkward laugh and began gesticulating, "Here's the thing, you need to focus on spreading positivity and try to neglect the negative feelings in your life," God he felt like he was lying to thousands of people straight to their faces with how hypocritical he was being, he just wanted to make people feel better. "Like if you came home and your mum made that…gross cauliflower soup that you hate, you can choose to either be mean to her about it or focus on the kind gesture she's made by cooking for you."
Phil was a man of old school standards, he knew he was. Manners were always important, but the extent to how polite and formal you should act with your parents or closer relatives dramatically changed during his upbringing. He was raised to be respectful towards elderly and, generally people older than him, even if not marginally. His feelings weren't neglected as per say but whenever he had an opinion to express about how he viewed the world, it got, washed away. Deemed not important and irrelevant to how he was going to live his life. It wash't important because it was all in his head, he just had to get rid of his existential despair and what ifs. Phil was, to put it simply, raised with reality in mind, you live, you work, you die. You might reproduce, you might find the love of your life, but those weren't necessities.
He shakes himself out of his thoughts, "Well! I'm gonna head off now, it was nice talking to you all!" He proceeded to shout out some of the users in the chat before waving goodbye and sliding in a cheeky spon about his new video, because it was great content, mind you.
He flopped back against the sofa as the broadcast ended, slamming the lid of his macbook shut. There's emails he needed to go through and calls needed to be made, confirmation from some of the venues to verify. He could do that later. He ran a shaking hand through his hair and took a deep breath, filling out his lungs and letting his chest expand to its full capacity before deflating, feeling a small portion of his tension drain. It must be the stress of tour planning, he wasn't in any position to complain, he was a grown man in a bit of a rough patch with his job. It was stressful but he'd come out the other end just fine, even sated maybe. So why would the heavy sensation weighing on his chest not dissipate.
He could faintly hear the doorbell ring and Dan's soft footsteps padding to the front door to retrieve, what he presumed, was their dinner for the evening. Food was always comforting, a practiced routine, grounding. Eating was something Phil could do, without feeling like he had to excel, impress. A daily task without the pressure in his chest building up, restricting him, clouding his mind.
"Hey," He felt the sofa dipping beside him, a familiar warmth against his side. He let a small smile form on his lips, but it felt out of place. "May I?"
Phil couldn't help the snort his body automatically produced, the man he had chose to keep in his life, was truly so ridiculous. Dan's finger was warm and a little boney against the underside of his chin, "Only because you brought food." Dan rolled his eyes fondly before placing a small kiss on Phil's dry lips. How didn't he realise he'd been breathing with his mouth open this entire time, his nose wasn't even stuffy. Nevertheless it was nice and grounding, a familiar pair of lips pressing against his own, a sentimental part of him cherished it more than he normally would have.
He finished the methodical chewing on his last pizza slice, his stomach was well sated and he felt his eyelids starting to droop. "Time to go to bed?" The soft voice beside him spoke his own thoughts aloud, he nodded gratefully and they both started to stand up and make their way up the stairs. Halfway up, 8 steps, not that he'd been counting. He started feeling lightheaded and breathless, he knew he was unfit but this was truly an all time low, he would need to remind himself to sign up for a gym membership again, or join in on Dan's daily yoga routine. He made his legs walk up the remaining steps with great remorse, his lungs chipping for breath.
They settled into bed, a nice deep rooted, perfected over 7 years, task at this point. Phil on the left side and Dan on the right side, Phil would read his book of the month and Dan would be mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr, it was a solid system, it was working. Phil still couldn't shake this odd feeling settling behind his ribs, he was still struggling for breath as he picked up his book with shaking hands, a good distraction.
He managed a good few pages before he felt his heart beating forcefully in the side of his neck, he pressed two fingers against his pulse point, just in case. Carefully, as if he was resting his head against his hand, he didn't want Dan to start worrying, he might be the hypochondriac of the pair but Dan was always extra careful when it came to Phil, and probably more reasonable about actually taking matters into action and go to the hospital. While Phil would just wait it out until the last second. It was probably just dehydration, he tried to reason with himself while his mind was screaming big names of incurable illnesses at him. His mind was painfully resilient.
His breaths kept coming shorter and heavier, the weight in his chest constricting, heart slamming painfully against his ribs. He sat up abruptly and placed his hand on his chest, pressing down, in a desperate attempt to calm it. He couldn't see, his mind was furiously screaming at him that he was dying, this is it, your organs are failing, these are all tell tale signs. Dan will have to continue living without him. Will have to explain to everyone that he died because he strained his respiratory system walking up 16 steps, 1 flight of stairs, oh god.
"Phil," He whipped his head around frantically, meeting the eyes of a concerned Dan and, how did he even manage to get himself in this situation. He grabbed at Dan's big hands, feeling the warmth of them against his cold ones, a flashing thought of the blood already not reaching his extremities passing through his head. He's already dying.
"Feel my heart, it's failing Dan, I'm dying." He placed his boyfriends hand right over his palpitating chest. Felt it slamming forcefully against his hand, a sharp pain surged through him, this is it, this is it, a mantra. A heart wrenching sob escaped his still parted lips, he didn't want to die, he'd never be ungrateful again if this is the karma he deserved for it. He could feel Dan's arms wrapping around him but he felt constricted, like he needed to break free or he'd die quicker. The loss of weight his hand had provided on his chest made his heart feel exposed, like it wasn't protected anymore, vulnerable, exposed, failing.
"Phil, darling, you need to listen to me." A strained sob ripped through his raw, raw throat but he wanted, needed, desperately to hear his boyfriends last words to him. A tear slipped down his cheek as his thoughts kept racing. Dan manoeuvred them so they were sat face to face. He felt lighter, like he wasn't trapped, like maybe he could get through this.
"Remember the first time we met." As if on queue, Phil's eyes went off like waterworks once again, emotion heavy in his chest, he nodded slowly. Gaining some kind of grounding, a clearer consciousness.
"And you kept clawing at me, I was like this guy is strange," Phil let a weak, fond, smile form upon his face. Dan counted this as a win, distraction technique working somewhat, he smiled in a way he hoped would come across as reassuring. "You took me to Starbucks and I insisted I'd pay but you called me ridiculous, because I was your guest and wouldn't let me."
Tears were still rolling down Phil's face but he felt somewhat calmer, his heart not beating as forcefully anymore. Breathing coming a bit easier. The weight on his chest always persisting. He let himself relax, slumping into Dan's body, big arms immediately wrapping him up. This time he felt less restricted by the action and more protected. He hummed lightly.
"There's nothing wrong with your heart." Dan spoke quietly, hoping it would register as reassuring and not invalidating in Phil's clustered brain. He sat up against the headboard of the bed and pulled his lankier, slightly older, boyfriend with him, settling him between his spread legs. Dan's hands came up and around Phil's chest while Phil rested his head back against the brunette's shoulder, letting out a shaky breath. Phil's heart sluggishly pounding away against Dan's large hand.
The weight of Dan's hand added to the already existing one on his chest but for some reason he felt like it was helping more than worsening the situation. Like Dan was absorbing the bad energy and providing his body with some well needed feeling of security. Phil knew it was a panic attack, he'd had one before, though he didn't want to admit it to himself. He hated unexplainable and irrational emotions that were out of his control. He didn't want to be seen as someone who couldn't control what he was feeling. It went against his whole persona. He knew that Dan knew this.
He let himself bask in the warmth of Dan's body for a while longer, grounding himself, counting his steady breaths against his back. He shakily placed one hand over the one already resting against his chest, grasping the others hand tightly. Dan's other hand coming up to comb through his hair, another practiced movement that helped to ease Phil's inner turmoil. He let out a breath, his deep rooted hypochondriac tendencies not yet letting go of the heart failure theory. He let Dan know as much, appreciating the hum, with the underlying meaning of I hear you, I'm not going to judge you, but you're wrong. Gratefully backing in to the continuous movements against his scalp. Consistent, calming.
He barely noticed himself mentally slipping away from reality, a well deserved break. A couple of hours trapped in his own head, hopefully the part storing the information about warmth, comfort and familiarity. "I'll be here." A faint voice from somewhere behind him whispered, a soft kiss placed against his left shoulder. He will beat himself up about it in the morning, he knows he will. He doesn't like being vulnerable or needing the care of others. But for now he's going to let himself bask in it, feeling his body relax against the solid chest behind him. Feeling grateful, loved.