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bloom in the desert

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Phil groans as he drags his feet from the car to the house, hardly bothering with looking around. Dan strolls behind him, evaluating the sad slump of his shoulders but withholding comment for now.

Standing slumped in the combined kitchen and living area without removing his sunglasses Phil only grunts a few times while the rest of them explore the space, tan leather, sleek chrome, terracotta tiles.

Eventually Dan drifts over to him, unable to resist the pull of Phil's mood any longer. He places one hand on his sternum and the other on his shoulder to check in. Up close he looks pale and sweaty despite the aircon of the car and the house. He doesn't turn towards Dan or otherwise acknowledge him, his mouth a sad downwards-twisting line and Dan feels the familiar tug of an urge to fuss, which he deliberately tamps down.

“Any preference on rooms?” Dan asks Martyn and Cornelia.

They look at him and Phil and seem surprised to notice how tired Phil is. They give them first choice without a beat of hesitation.

Phil merely turns and goes through the nearest door, slipping from between Dan's hands silently.

Dan sits with Martyn and Corn around the dining table, drinking water and checking their phones in companionable silence for a couple of hours.

When the others get up to go to their own room for a little while, Dan goes to check on Phil.

He opens the door quietly, not knowing whether he’ll find a sleeping or headachy man on the other side.

Phil is sprawled perpendicular on the bed, right foot up on the mattress and left arm thrown across his face. He doesn't acknowledge Dan's entrance, but he's clearly awake. Dan slips off his shoes and rests a hand on his knee, silently making his presence known. He waits for a beat and when Phil doesn't complain he slides onto the bed next to him.

All he can see of Phil’s face is his chin and jaw, stubble peppering his skin from there down his neck to his Adam’s apple. He feels a ridiculous surge of tenderness wash through him, something else to tamp down a little until he knows where they're at.

He rests his hand on Phil's chest, the new lilac sweatshirt soft under his fingers. “You okay?” he asks quietly.

Phil grunts an affirmative. “Just tired.”

Dan risks huffing a laugh. “‘M I wearing you out?”

Phil grunts again, a negative this time, tiny whine in his voice, small smile tugging at his lips. Feeling tenderness and relief creep over him slowly, Dan smiles at him even though Phil can't see.

He smells sweaty up close, but the nice sharp new smell that just reminds Dan of sex. Maybe everything reminds him of sex these days. He leans in close, kissing under Phil’s jaw.

This sound of contentment isn't a grunt, more of a purr really, which makes Dan smile wider. He kisses Phil's neck, along his jaw to his chin. Neck kisses may not rile Phil up the way they do Dan, but Dan has a particular fondness for this part of Phil nonetheless, the freckles here, the Adam’s apple hard under his tongue. The faint trace of stubble is making his lips buzz, and he loves it. He noses along the neckline of Phil's shirt, blatantly inhaling him now, spicy and musky and warm.

Phil moves his arm from across his eyes to drape over Dan's shoulders, tugging him closer. Dan goes, resting his chest against Phil’s and burying his face in his neck, mashing his face there inelegantly and smacking a wet kiss under Phil's ear. Phil huffs. Not quite a laugh.

“Did you sleep?” Dan asks, muffled against Phil's skin.

It makes Phil squirm a little, but he clutches Dan closer at the same time. “A little.”

They breathe for a few minutes, Dan growing a little heavier. He pulls away reluctantly, settling next to Phil again, head pillowed on Phil's arm.

Phil turns his head to look at him then, eyes a little squinty, pupils large in the dim light. “What about you?” he asks. “Still good?”

Dan can't help the smile that splits his face then. He nods. “I just feel so… light. A bit silly. Like, I still can't believe how great I am. S’good.”

He knows some part of Phil is probably waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering how far this wave of serotonin will take Dan, but he can't even worry about that himself right now. He feels too well.

“Good,” Phil smiles softly. “I’m certainly not complaining about the new randy you.”

Dan pokes him in the chest. “I hope you're not implying I’ve been stingy with my physical affection before this.”

Phil squirms. “No!” He pauses, and Dan feels his chest expand for him then, the way it always does when Phil tries to use his words like this. “Just meant there's been an uptick. In intensity? I like it!”

Dan snorts. “I thought you were the one being pretty intense last night.”

Phil shrugs, so Dan has to shake him, fingers digging into his pectoral and shoving him back and forth a little. “I’m joking. It's good. You're probably right that I'm starting it, but it's a feedback loop, right? I like everything you're giving me.”

Phil smirks.

“Yeah, that too,” he rolls his eyes.

“Just wanna give you what you need, babe.”

“Mmm,” Dan smiles, unable resist the lure of him then, his earlobe the easiest part to reach. “You really do,” he says, kissing down to the pulse point, hearing Phil's breath hitch slightly. “What do you need?” he murmurs against Phil's skin.

Phil's stomach rumbles incredibly loudly then, a good empty-sounding gurgle. They both laugh in surprise.

“A full meal, apparently,” Phil says, voice bubbling with mirth.

“Oh dear. Thought you said last night I was a full meal,” Dan teases.

Phil flops his hand into Dan’s curls and tugs in answer.

“Alright,” Dan groans, heaving himself away and looking down at Phil still sprawled beneath him. “Let's get some food in you. Need to keep your strength up, obviously.”

Phil purses his lips for a kiss so Dan leans down and obliges, soft and slow and filled with promise.