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a walk in the park

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They walk through Hyde park on a Saturday, leisurely in a way they forgot for a while they were allowed to be. The air is nice, crisp but not too cold, and the trees of the park rustle overhead.

Phil's wearing a shirt Dan likes a lot. It makes his frame look powerful. Dan can't stop stealing glances and he knows Phil notices but he also knows Phil likes it a lot in a quiet satisfied way.

It's a good day. Lunch with a friend. Procrastinating responsibilities the way normal people do on their weekends. Stretching their legs and working off the chocolate mousse Phil insisted on finishing dinner with.

Dan isn't ready to go back home yet, and he knows exactly what to say to coax Phil into an extended afternoon.

*

"This coffee is amazing." Phil breathes it in deeply, like just the warm steam rising from the top can charge his veins with sugar tinged caffeine.

"Mine's... good," Dan says.

He's definitely not jealous of Phil's drink. Nope. He's happy with his own choice.

Phil smirks. "Try it again. More oomph this time."

"It's good," Dan says, then defiantly takes a sip.

"It's horrible isn't it?"

"It's... unique."

"It's beetroot."

"It's healthy."

"I can't believe they even have the nerve to call it a latte."

"Latte just means with milk."

"It means coffee with milk. That's not coffee. That's a vegetable."

"A root vegetable."

"Is that supposed to make it better?" Phil slides his cup across the table at Dan. "You know you want some of the real stuff."

"I hate you," Dan says, and grabs the cup. Bittersweet chocolate and strong coffee chase the healthy flavors away. "Fuck, this is good."

"I know," Phil says. "Now give it back and live with your bad choices."

*

They walk back through the park with their drinks in hand, finding their way to the water's edge.

"London is my city," Phil says, voice deep like he's imparting some wisdom.

"No, stop," Dan says. "Don't. Just don't. You're not even doing it right. London literally is a city, that ruins the joke."

"I wasn't joking," Phil lies. "I was just saying something truthful."

"You were but like, not on purpose." Dan shakes his head in exasperation. "I'm embarrassed to know you."

"No you're not." Phil kicks his foot out against Dan's. "You like me. Admit it. Just a little bit."

His voice is high and soft in that way that still and probably always will make Dan feel like a blushing kid sat on the other end of a computer screen.

"Fine," he mumbles. "I guess."

*

They find a bench to sit on.

Phil's looking at a particularly portly pigeon, trying to entice it over.

Dan's mostly looking at the other people.

That's why it surprises him that Phil notices the couple first.

"Dan," he whispers, in the least conspicuous way.

It doesn't actually matter. The couple aren't within hearing distance, and even if they were - they seem a bit preoccupied.

"Wow," Dan says, faintly impressed.

Two teenagers are making out. They're reclined in the grass and one of them is half on top of the other.

They're both boys.

It makes his pulse speed up. Part of him wants to tell them stop, no. That people can see. That it's not safe.

Part of him wants to just congratulate them on not giving a fuck.

Most of him is just rooted to the spot, watching.

Phil glances over at him. "That was us, once."

"Phil, I'm pretty sure we never dry humped in a public park."

Phil laughs. "No, but we did make out on a public fountain."

"I- fuck." Dan shuts his mouth.

Phil's not wrong.

"I think it's nice," Phil says. "It makes me nostalgic."

"For when we made out sat on a public fountain?"

Phil shrugs. "I guess just for being that young."

"We could," Dan says. "Now. Nothing stopping us."

Phil laughs again. It's a different laugh this time. Fond and a little bit something else. "We're not teenagers anymore."

It's also true. But Dan kind of resents it. He lost too much of his teenage years to self-hatred and depression. Too much time crying in his room, too few times kissing his boyfriend in public.

"Hey," Dan says.

Phil turns to look at him inquisitively.

It's quick. Just a firm but quick press of mouth to mouth.

Phil responds, though. Faint pressure back, lips parting slightly.

It's the kind of kiss they exchange a dozen times a week. It's a greeting, a goodbye, a simple sign of affection.

That's all it is now, really.

Except where the world can see.

Phil is smiling when Dan pulls back.

Dan's proud of himself.

But he also doesn't feel like sticking around the scene of the crime, just in case any knowing eyes were watching. "Ready to go?"

*

They stop by the coffee shop again on the way out. Phil gets a pastry because he's ready for his afternoon sugar dose, and Dan gets a proper coffee because he still can't get the taste of fucking beetroot out of his mouth.

"Do you miss kissing on fountains?" he asks, as their feet carry them closer to home.

"No," Phil says. "I like the kisses we have when we kiss now."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah, like. Fountains were nice and all, but I'll take waking up and getting to kiss you in our very own bed any time."

"You're just saying that because we couldn't fuck on the fountain, right?"

"It's one benefit to the bed situation, yeah," Phil agrees. "But it's more than that. It's just, you know. I think in the trade off we got more than we gave up. Don't you?"

"I guess," Dan says.

"Hey." Phil's voice is soft but compelling. "What's going on in your head?"

"I don't know," Dan says. "I want to go back in time and not be afraid. Like those kids aren't afraid."

"That makes sense," Phil says. "But you know you're doing the next best thing, right? Because you're part of what makes kids like that feel safe doing things like that."

Dan's quiet for a long time, so long that they're almost at their street. Finally he says, "Fuck you," because he loves what Phil said but he hates crying in public.

Phil reaches up and wipes a tear away for Dan. "Come on," he says. "Let's go home."