Dan feels like he’s melting. The sun is hidden behind dark, heavy looking clouds but the humidity is oppressive. There’s sweat on every surface of his body. He can taste his own salt.
The music is loud. The grass on the ground has long since been trampled into mud. There are people everywhere, dancing and drinking and laughing, screaming the lyrics of the song along with the band that’s up on stage. Dan can’t even remember who it is. Or maybe he never knew.
He couldn’t give less of a fuck. The glitter he’d painted onto his face is currently smearing against someone else’s as they kiss.
He knows the guy’s name, he thinks. Phil - he’s sure it was Phil. He hopes so, since that’s what he was moaning half an hour ago when probably-Phil was on his knees.
This kiss tastes like come and sweat and he’s glad they hadn’t lost each other in the tangle of people as they made their way back to the throng after. Phil’s hand held tight in his despite the slipperiness of their skin and when the music started to pound at a pleasing pace their bodies had begun moving together like that was the plan all along.
It wasn’t. There is no plan. This weekend is about not giving a fuck or a shit or any sort of bodily function at all. This weekend Dan’s escaping his life and losing his sanity in this little patch of world that’s full of green and cluttered with people and rubbish on the ground and tents crammed into every inch of space.
The plan is to fuck and feel free in a way he never does. Depression can fucking do one this weekend.
“Hey-” Phil shouts, breaking the kiss.
“What?” Dan shouts back. They’re still more lip reading than anything else.
Phil points and Dan turns to face the stage again. The lead singer is body surfing, but badly. Dan laughs and feels Phil laugh as well, Phil’s back pressed all up against Dan.
It’s good to laugh. It’s better with a pair of solid arms wrapping around his waist. Affection never feels this free in the real world. He never asks for it and no one ever offers.
But he’ll never seen this guy again after the weekend, and that makes it okay.
The only thing that would make it better-
“Oh, fuck, yeah,” Dan says, and tilts his head up to the sky just in time for the first drops of rain to hit his face.
It goes from zero to a hundred almost instantly. They’re both drenched after only a few minutes. The band abandons ship and so do hordes of festival goers, the vast majority of them scurrying toward the shelter of their tents.
Not Dan. And not Phil, apparently. Dan opens his arms to the sky and lets himself be cleansed. It feels bloody amazing. He can feel mud oozing into his trainers, squishing between his toes, but he knew they’d be ruined the moment he bought his tickets.
His sanity has definitely been stowed away, or at least his civility. Decorum? Something. Whatever it is that keeps him feeling locked in a closet, he’s definitely chucked that in the bin for now. He’s holding Phil’s hand and they’re spinning around in the rain and mud like a couple of wild animals.
Phil pulls him in close and wraps his arms around his waist and Dan feels warm on the inside even though the outside is starting to get a little shivery. He kisses Phil like they’ve done it a million times, licking into his mouth and not caring if it’s too much.
He wants to be too much. He wants to be twenty years worth of too much.
Phil doesn’t act like it’s too much. He bites Dan’s lip and spins him around and Dan laughs as their legs get tangled together and they fall to the ground.
It’s disgusting, truly. They’re coated in mud from head to toe.
Dan stands up and pulls Phil with him and then pulls off his shirt. Phil follows suit and soon they’re dancing around in the torrential downpour in just their pants like they’re really and truly lost their goddamn minds.
The rain tries its best to wash the mud from their skin, leaving cleaner trails in amidst the smears of wet earth. Dan reaches up and rubs his fingers along Phil’s cheeks, making them dirty again. Phil squirms and laughs like he’s trying to get away but Dan just hauls him back in.
The next kiss tastes different, dirtier in a way that has them both laughing and wiping their mouths off.
“Oh my god,” Phil says, and he laughs again out loud like he can’t believe him.
Dan gets that feeling. He feels that feeling.
“Dance with me,” Dan shouts.
This time it’s just the rain he has to speak over.
“Okay,” Phil shouts back, and they dance under the gathered clouds until their legs start to ache.
Phil’s tent is closer.
It’s also bigger. He’s sharing it with mates of his.
Dan’s here alone, but Phil’s got loads of shit that Dan doesn’t. He’s got towels and wipes and they definitely don’t manage to entirely clean themselves up but Dan doesn’t give a shit. All he really cares about is not being upright anymore. His legs feel like cooked noodles and he’s sure they danced for hours.
His nana would be on him about catching cold, but he doesn’t exactly volunteer stories like this to her. He certainly won’t be telling her about the guy with the cool black hair who sucked him off behind a concessions tent while an anthem of his teenage years played in the background.
He grins lazily to himself, stretching out on one of the air mattresses. He also doesn’t give a fuck if he gets it dirty. He’s not the one who has to sleep there.
“Oi.” He feels a poke to his side. “No one told me it was nap time.”
Dan wiggles away then yawns and shuts his eyes. “Not my fault, mate.”
Phil doesn’t respond, so Dan cracks one eye open.
Phil is frowning.
“What?” Dan asks.
“My mates left.” He sighs. “Two hours ago, apparently. They didn’t want to deal with the rain so they packed up.”
“Wow. They just left you? Dick move.”
“They tried to ring me. A lot, apparently. But my phone was in here, I left it because I always end up dropping them and I didn’t want to lose it.”
It’s more information than Dan really asked for, but he still makes a sympathetic sound. “You gonna leave?”
Phil frowns and peels the flap of the tent back. “I should, I guess.”
Dan looks at him, the long line of his back and the back of his head. What a weird shaped head. But the rest of him is fit, and he’s a good kisser…
“Wait until the rain stops to leave,” Dan says, making a decision somewhere in his mind. “And come have a nap with me.”
“I guess that would be best,” Phil says, slowly edging backwards. “I don’t fancy trying to catch a train in this.”
Dan wakes up to a steady drip, drip, drip across his forehead. He opens his eyes and tries to take stock of himself. He’s in a tent.
Phil’s tent. He flops an arm out and smacks something solid and warm. Must be Phil. The lump groans.
The next thing that filters through Dan’s post nap disorientation is the dripping. He reaches up to touch his face and it’s wet. He smacks the lump again, harder this time. Then again, and again, until Phil croaks, “What?”
Phil hums like he didn’t really hear what Dan said, or if he heard it, he didn’t process it.
Dan forces his aching body to sit up. The sleeping bag falls off his chest and he shivers, and it’s then that he understands why he feels wet beyond just the drips rolling down his cheeks. Phil’s tent is starting to flood.
“Mate,” he says, shoving at Phil. “Your tent has sprung a leak.”
“What?” Phil opens his eyes - kind of. He looks dead tired, his hair stuck out in all directions and his eyes squinted so hard Dan would be surprised if he could see anything at all.
“The floor’s all wet,” Dan informs him. “And—” He points up.
Phil tilts his head back and blinks at the water droplets that fall onto his face. “Oh. Bollocks.”
Dan’s starting to wake up now. He’s noticing things like how much less light there is filtering through the thin walls of the tent and how eerily quiet it is beyond the sound of the water falling from the sky.
Phil groans, sitting up. “How long were we asleep?”
Dan pulls out his phone to check. “Bloody— like four hours?”
“And it’s still raining?” Phil whines like a school boy whose mum has just told him he can’t go out to play. He seems to notice what Dan has then, a bit delayed. “Did the festival stop?”
“I guess? I mean, it’s pissing it down outside, maybe they decided it was too much to keep going.”
Phil grabs his phone, then groans. “It must have gotten too wet, it won’t turn on.”
Dan’s phone is back in his tent. “Shit,” he says, scrambling up. “My stuff.”
It’s not like he has all that much worth a whole lot of anything but… that’s the point, really. He doesn’t have enough stuff to his name to have it all stolen or ruined by the weather.
He doesn’t even care that he’s in just his pants. “I’m gonna split, I need to see if anyone lifted my stuff on their way out.”
“Wait, wait,” Phil says, scrambling up. “I’ll come with you.”
“Okay.” Dan doesn’t know why, but he doesn’t really care. He waits while Phil puts on some shorts and a vest that won’t do much good in this sort of storm.
“I’m not a vest person.”
Phil must be the conversational type.
Dan isn’t, really. “Hate to break this to you, but it looks like you’re wearing one right now.”
“Okay.” Phil shoves some things into his backpack. “At least this is waterproof. I should thank my dad for insisting on that.”
Dan half listens to Phil rambling about how his dad is always trying to prepare him for things and how he never listens because he’s not his brother, or something like that.
As soon as Phil slips his feet into some shoes Dan’s unzipping the tent door.
It really is pouring, and the ground has turned into a giant puddle of sludge. There’s rubbish everywhere, bobbing up and down in the murky water. If Dan didn’t know better, he’d probably think they’d somehow been transported somewhere far away while they slept. The only indication that they’re still on the festival grounds is the scattering of flooded tents stood bravely against the deluge.
As far as Dan can tell, most of the people who were here a few hours ago have long since abandoned ship. They were the smart ones. Dan’s chest feels strangely gripped with anxiety. It’s too quiet. The rain is too heavy. He’s got no idea where his tent is anymore. He can barely see more than a few feet in front of him with the water running in streams down his face. His curls fall into his eyes and he’s immediately shivering.
He turns back to Phil, who’s just stepping out of the tent with a look of panic similar to what Dan is feeling. “Holy shit,” he murmurs.
Dan asks, “Do you have any clothes I can borrow?”
Phil looks apologetic. “Only my dirty ones.”
“Fuck.” Dan pushes his hair up out of his eyes and tries to think. There’s no point in putting his own dirty clothes on. If anything they’d probably just weigh him down. “Even if I knew where my shit was it’d probably just be wet.”
“We could just check the tents around here?” Phil suggests. “I know it’s not a great option, but—”
Dan’s already moving towards the closest one. At the moment he doesn’t give even a single fuck about looting if it means he doesn’t have to be caught in this end of days level storm in nothing but a soaking wet pair of Calvin’s.
He has to rummage through at least ten tents before he finds a damp pink hoodie and a pair of trackies that are least three inches too short. He’s not complaining. Even wet, the hood will keep his hair out of his eyes.
“What are we gonna do?” Phil asks.
“I don’t know,” he says, starting to shiver.
Sweating and dancing in the heat seems like a distant memory now.
“Dan.” Phil’s voice sounds small now. “I live in Manchester. How the fuck am I going to get home?”
“Train?” Dan says. “We can… walk to the nearest underground stop.”
It’ll be a bit of a trek in this downpour, but right now Dan just wants to be home. He’ll sort out his lost wallet and phone later, he just wants to crawl under his duvet and maybe sleep until the sun comes out again.
They make their way out of the festival space and it all just looks wrong. He remembers walking in here yesterday through throngs of people, past beer and drink stands, food kiosks. Most of the kiosks are shut down, the carts just left where they stand.
And not a single person in sight. Dan wonders if a lot of the people here are still in their tents - they can’t have all left, can they? Thousands and thousands of people.
His stomach feels twisted. He looks to the side and Phil’s expression seems to say he’s feeling just the same.
The streets are empty. The first shops they pass are all closed. Dan doesn’t think it’s night - he thinks it’d be darker if it were. But the sky is just a cover of angry gray clouds and he feels all upside down inside.
They stand under some scaffolding just to get a break from it. Somehow it makes Dan feel colder.
“Do you think the tube’s even open?” Phil says. “Nothing else is.”
Dan’s about to respond when the sirens start.
They’re a low wailing sound. The rain almost drowns them out but Dan still hears them, and he knows Phil does too.
Phil steps in closer to him. “Dan.” His voice is quiet and urgent.
At the same time, a blur of movement catches Dan’s eye. It’s coming toward them, a bundled up figure that darts under the same scaffolding.
It’s a woman. She’s dripping water and shivering. “What are you lot doing out in this?” she asks. “They’re telling everyone to find high ground and stay indoors.”
“What are you doing out in this?” Dan asks back, instantly defensive. “And who is ‘they?’”
She doesn’t answer either of Dan’s questions, instead asking another of her own. “Don’t you hear the sirens?”
“We hear them,” Dan says curtly. “We’re not deaf.”
“Oi,” Phil says quietly, tugging on Dan’s arm. He steps in between Dan and this woman to whom Dan’s not even sure why he’s being so rude.
She gives Dan a look that makes him shrink back, and then she turns her focus to Phil. “They’re flood warning sirens.”
“Ohh.” Phil sounds like he’s remembering something. “They were built during the war, yeah? I think I remember learning that somewhere. Uni, maybe.”
The woman looks at him like he’s an idiot. “Does it matter? The city is flooding. The bleeding sky is falling. Trains have stopped running. They even shut down the tube.”
“What?” Dan says. “That makes no sense.”
“Fuck,” Phil mutters. “Fuck, fuck.” He sounds on the verge.
“I was watching the news on telly at the pub,” she says. “They said it was unprecedented levels of precipitation. Literally it’s broken the record and it’s only been a few hours. Then the bloody power went out.” She stops talking a moment to shiver and pull her coat tighter around her shoulders. “I’m off to my sister’s, her flat is on the seventeenth floor. Be awhile before the water can reach me up there.”
She steps out from under the shelter of the scaffolding then and into the rain, and just as quickly as she appeared, she’s gone.
Dan looks back to Phil to find him with his face in his hands, muttering, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”
“Don’t freak out,” Dan demands.
Phil acts like he doesn’t hear him. He’s definitely freaking out. It’s making Dan’s heart beat too fast and fluttery.
Even under the scaffolding, they’re getting wet. Dan pulls his hands inside the sleeves of his pilfered, two sizes too small hoodie and balls them into fists in the damp material. They can just keep standing here. They need to find proper shelter.
“God, oh my god, I have nowhere to go,” Phil says, his voice starting to pitch up. “Everyone I know lives in Manchester and my phone doesn’t work and there’s no train—”
“Phil.” He says it so brusquely that Phil is halted.
“I live here. It’ll be a long walk. We should get going.”
He’s not sure it’s a good idea, inviting a perfect stranger who is clearly agitated back to his. For all he knows this guy is a secret cannibal.
But he can still taste their salty kisses from earlier, and something about sharing that brief few hours of perfect moments clings to the small part of his heart that isn’t drowning in cold dread now.
By the look Phil is giving him, Phil must feel the same way. He doesn’t hesitate to fall in step beside Dan as Dan steps out from under their temporary shelter.
They’ve been walking for almost twenty minutes. The water is up to their ankles now, rushing along the streets. The drains can’t keep up, water spilling out.
They have seen other people, a few of them running here and there.
One man shouts at them the location of a city shelter. Says that’s where he’s going, and that it’s supposed to be protected from the flooding.
But that man doesn’t linger. No one is lingering anywhere. Everything out on the streets right now is set on getting to wherever they’re going, and so are Dan and Phil.
“Dan,” Phil says, reaching out and grabbing Dan’s sodden sleeve. “How high up is your flat?”
Dan’s never been more grateful to say, “Fifteenth floor.”
Phil’s relief is palpable, too.
His whole body feels cold and numb by the time he makes it to his street. He thinks the numbness is probably bad but they’re so fucking close.
It’s an old build, in a street of old builds, but right now the aged bricks and cracked stone steps are the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
“Here,” he says, and wrenches the door open.
The sound of the rain dulls as it closes behind them. For a few seconds, they just stare at each other in the semi-darkness. “Fifteenth floor?” Phil asks.
Dan nods. The lift isn’t working with the power out, and the stairs spiraling up seem endless. It’s darker the higher they get, up and up and up. He hears Phil stumble behind him a couple of times and he pauses to wait for Phil to right himself.
He pushes the door open to floor fifteen, double checking by feeling his fingers along the plated numbers. “Here.”
Phil’s breathing is heavy from the exertion. Dan walks faster down the long hall, sense memory stopping him at the right place. Phil bumps into him from behind.
“Can you even get in?” Phil suddenly asks. “Do you have keys?”
Dan bends and lifts the ‘go away’ mat in front of his door. He feels around and his fingers close around the cool metal. “Yep. We’re good.”
There’s almost no light in the flat. It must be close to sunset now, and the clouds are dark that they’re blocking most of what little light there would be anyway. It’s enough, though, enough that Dan can stumble his way down the short hall to his bedroom. He peels all his clothes and stands naked in the middle of his room, sighing in relief.
Then Phil’s voice is behind him. “I wish it wasn’t raining apocalyptically right now so I could actually enjoy the view.”
Dan feels a curious lack of reaction to those words. It’s possible the numbness has seeped below the surface of his skin. He just turns and says, “You should strip. We’re probably borderline hypothermic by now.”
He listens to Phil’s wet clothes hitting the floor piece by piece as he rummages through his wardrobe for the warmest things he can find. He tosses Phil a hoodie and a pair of sweats and hurries to get his own on. “Luckily we’re the same size.”
Once they’re dressed, the issue of light becomes the next pressing matter.
“Do you have any candles?” Phil asks.
Dan almost laughs. Does he have any candles indeed.
Five minutes later the whole place smells like a nauseating blend of fruit and spice and florals and musk, but at least it looks pretty and they kind can kind of see their surroundings. Outside the windows is blackness now, but they can still hear the rain.
Phil is stood awkwardly by the window, and Dan can hear his teeth chattering. He slips down the hall again and grabs his duvet, bringing it back out to the lounge and draping it around Phil’s shoulders.
Phil looks at him, and in the dim candlelight Dan can see that there are tears staining his cheeks.
“Thank you,” he says, voice hushed.
Dan doesn’t answer. He turns his head toward the window, the outside world starting to come a little more into focus now that his eyes have had time to adjust to the darkness.
It’s just rain. So much rain, and it just keeps coming. It’s not like anything Dan’s ever seen before. It’s like a dam has collapsed and all the water in the universe is rushing through to wash out the human race for good.
Dan shivers. Phil steps in closer until their shoulders touch, then lifts the blanket so they’re both huddled underneath it.
“What happens if it doesn’t stop?” Phil asks.
Dan feels cold from the inside out. Outside his window, on the paved streets of London, the water is rising. He reaches out to the side of him and clasps his hand around Phil’s and squeezes gently. It very well may be the only spot of warmth left in the world.
“I don’t know.”