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this is the part where i break free.

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Once upon a time, Dan was given a flag and he put in a box to keep it safe.

It’s twelve in the morning and Dan has just turned off all the lights in the house and walks into their bedroom with his computer in hand. He places it on the chair and looks at Phil who’s staring intently at his phone. Dan smiles briefly at the faces that Phil makes when watching a funny video.

Dan sits on the ground and reaches under his bed to grab a box that he had kept hidden from the world, not because he was ashamed of it, but because it was somewhere to keep things safe until he was ready for it.

Dan bites the inside of his cheek opening the box and looking down at the hoard of things that he’s saved over the years. Train tickets to see Phil, tickets to see Muse, sticky notes that Phil left for Dan, a particularly emotional birthday card from his mum, a trinket from his nana, and then a flag.

His fingers shake slightly as he grabs it, the colours vibrant as he remembered them last. He takes a small breath, looking up at Phil who’s intently watching Dan with a small smile. Dan stares back trying to communicate all the love, excitement, and nervous energy that he feels holding such a tiny but mighty thing in his hands.

Once upon a time, Dan was given a flag and he put it in a box to keep it safe because he was scared.

“I think I’m going to put this on my desk.” Dan muses, he sets it down on the bedside table and then slowly puts the lid back on the box.

(There are still some things that are worth keeping safe.)

“I think it’ll give your little corner a little bit of colour it needs.” Phil agrees with a small smirk.

Dan rolls his eyes shaking his head.

“At least my desk is clean.”

Phil moves the sheets, patting for the spot next to him.

“My desk is fun.”

Dan takes his socks off and slides underneath the sheets and presses his feet against Phil’s legs which makes him jump.

“Okay babe.” Dan says into Phil’s side before turning around, he reaches back to grab Phil’s arm to wrap around him.

Phil turns the light off, but the light of his phone stays on. Dan stares at the space where the flag currently occupies.

“I think it’ll be a good addition.” Phil whispers. “We can take the other flags and set them someplace nice, too.”

*

Over the course of the next couple of days, Dan and Phil get their flags that they’ve kept and place them in different (significant) parts of their home.

One is on Phil’s desk, it’s a little lopsided, Phil refused to move things around to make it look nice, just the fact that it’s there is good enough, he said, but the truth was his desk was just messy and he’d get to it soon but he liked how it was a little dysfunctional. The second one that they were given is in an empty wine glass bottle sitting in the middle of their kitchen counter. Dan, we have a gay kitchen now.

The third lays on Dan’s desk, he hasn’t been able to find the perfect place to put it yet.

*

When Dan gets back from running errands he makes his way to his desk to work on emails when he sees white roses sitting in a vase with the pride flag in a flag holder with a note right next to it.

I know you’re running errands and won’t see this note for a while but I got you this little flag holder when I was out running my own errands. I also got you flowers since it’s been a while since you’ve bought some. I thought the white would be nice next to the flag, gives it a little pizzazz. I know this week has been a lot for you and I’m always proud of you, but I’m even more proud of because of your video. It takes a lot of bravery to do what you did. I just thought you should know that.

I’m glad that the world gets to see you like I see you.

Thanks for always being my safe space, Dan.

PS. I am really wanting pizza tonight.
Love you.

Dan stares down at the note and holds the flimsy piece of paper in his hand and smiles knowing that it’ll go in the keepsake box. He leans in to smell the roses and he holds the flag in between his fingers, adjusting it ever so slightly until it's perfect.

It’s just right.

*

Dan orders them pizza, and presses a kiss to Phil’s cheek to let him know that he got his note, and they sit on the couch and watch their show and drink their wine, and everything is like it normally is except the fact that there’s nothing really to keep secret and safe anymore. Dan feels like he can exhale for the first time in years, and Phil thinks that he has never loved someone as much as he loved Dan and it was just nice to do something so familiar and so normal after the week they’ve had.

Once upon a time, Dan was given a flag and he put it in a box to keep it safe from a world that wasn’t ready for him yet.

He felt like he was ready now.