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In the lobby he stares at every man that passes by, wondering if one of them is Max. He actually wishes he were still some nameless figure; wishes he didn’t have any any sort of identity to attach besides douchebag ex.

Only a couple of minutes pass before Phil shows up downstairs. He looks flustered, and then shocked with relief when he actually sees Dan. “I thought you’d left.”

“Why?” Dan asks. “I told you I’d be in the lobby.”

“Yeah, but…” Phil makes a gesture with his hand. “You seemed cross with me. I just thought… I mean. You’ve got no reason to stay, and it’s not— If you did decide to leave, it wouldn’t— I wouldn’t be… surprised.”

Phil’s eyes look red. He has a kicked puppy look on his face.

Dan thinks about what Phil had said earlier, how Max left him with nothing but pervasive self-doubt.

He still hates the idea that Phil is jealous of anyone Max brings back to fuck. He hates that maybe Phil is just clinging to him in a confused aftermath of his relationship.

But he hates even more that Phil’s expectations for someone sticking around are so low, and he’d be a hypocrite if he didn’t acknowledge that right now he’s also clinging to Phil in his own confused aftermath.

“I didn’t leave,” Dan says.

“I know. I see.”

“I was just waiting.”

“Okay.”

Dan stands. “Are you ready to go now?”

“Where are we going?” Phil asks.

“I don’t know,” Dan says. “Wherever we want to, I guess.”

“I guess the first thing is finding somewhere to stay tonight.”

Dan nods. “That’s… yeah. Yeah, I really don’t want to sleep on the street.”

“We won’t,” Phil says firmly. “Ever. The worst possible case scenario is I call my parents and they send me money to buy plane tickets back to England.”

“Tickets?” Dan asks. “Plural?”

“Dan.” He puts his hand on Dan’s shoulder. “You’re officially not alone anymore, okay? Just accept it. I care about what happens to you, which means I’m not going to let that be anything bad.”

Dan actually does start to cry a little bit, just for a moment. He turns his face away and scrunches it up to stop any tears from falling. He forces in a breath so deep it hurts his chest and swallows the emotion that would overwhelm him if he were to let it.

“Sorry,” Phil murmurs, rubbing Dan’s back gently. “Mushy.”

Dan shakes his head and laughs. “No. No, it’s fine. I… thank you.”

“Hey, that’s gratitude.”

Dan shrugs. “I heard some people like that.”

Phil curls his fingers around Dan’s shoulder pulls Dan over to him. Dan goes easily, pressing his face against Phil’s neck. “Yeah, you may be right about that. Fine, gratitude is back on the table, as long as we understand that it’s mutual, yeah?”

Dan still feels like what he has to offer Phil isn’t nearly on the level of what Phil is offering him, especially not if Phil does have a family that loves him and a life he could go back to.

But he’s not going to argue right now. Instead he lifts his head and kisses Phil on the mouth.

Then he pulls out his phone and does approximately two minutes of googling before he finds a different hostel.

“Oh my god, Phil, look. Look at it.” He holds out his phone for Phil to see. “And look, there’s a crazy deal going on for the next month. I guess October isn’t exactly peak tourist season.”

Phil looks just as amazed as Dan feels. “It looks like a frickin’ art gallery.”

“It looks clean,” Dan says. “I bet the people who go there are a lot nicer than that last place. I mean it’s called Sunflower, for fuck’s sake. Can you picture a homophobe wanting to stay in a place named after a flower?”

“I cannot,” Phil admits. “Should we do it?”

Dan nods. “We should definitely do it.”

-

The front of the building is a burst of red and white stripes.

Inside is an explosion of color, like stepping into a different world. Every wall is a different colour, every room a different theme. There’s a room with a bar. The walls are red and there’s art everywhere. A rainbow flag hangs from the ceiling, which happens to be painted sky blue with white clouds, a sun right in the centre.

“Dragon.” Phil points up and Dan looks and - yep, there is indeed a dragon painted on the ceiling. There are also vines strung up like fairy lights and a solitary sunflower in a vase on the bar.

The common area has washers and dryers and computers and houseplants and murals on each of its four walls depicting a colourful underwater scene, complete with submarine and giant octopus.

“This place is kind of magical,” Phil whispers.

Dan can only nod his agreement. There’s so much to see. Phil had been right earlier, it looks like some kind of art gallery, but like a cool, slightly hipster-y one where everyone who visits is young and and alternative-looking.

“It’s brilliant,” Dan says.

“I almost feel like I don’t belong.”

Dan glances over at Phil and he’s surprised to see nerves clear on Phil’s face. “Why?”

“I dunno, it’s just… This isn’t very me, I guess.” Phil looks up. “It’s more like the me I wish I were in my head.”

“Hey.” Dan elbows him. “Who you are in your head is about as you as it gets. If life hasn’t let you be yourself, then say fuck it and just start now.”

Phil leans over and kisses Dan’s cheek. It’s slightly damp and makes Dan’s stomach flip. “You’re right. I’ll try, at least.”

“Tell me things you like. The kind of things you haven’t gotten to enjoy for… for whatever reason. We’ll do them all.”

“I like… bright colours,” Phil says. “Max preferred tans and beige neutrals.”

“Well, I think we’re in the right place for right.” Dan steps forward to book the rooms. The woman behind the counter speaks English, which he’s grateful for as he says, “We’d like some colour, please. And a place to sleep.”

She laughs. “Yeah, think we can do that.”

She tells them where the rooms are and gives them the rundown of everything the hostel offers.

The one they end up in is yellow, a bright brilliant yellow, with a large tree painted on the far wall between two windows.

Dan walks over to it to check out their view. Not too awful.

“Top or bottom?” Phil asks.

“What?” Dan pivots.

Phil is standing with his hand on the frame of a set of beds. “Bunk. What did you think I meant?”

“Oh, you-” Dan advances like he’s trying to be threatening, but Phil just giggles and scrambles up to the top bunk. “Hey!”

Instead of chasing him, Dan sits on the bottom one. He’s actually exhausted - and hungry. More hungry than exhausted, he realizes. It’s been hours since their multiple course breakfast session.

“What are we eating?” He asks.

“Food!” Phil’s legs appear in Dan’s view, dangling down. “Dan, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

“I will endorse many whims right now but I’m not going to ask where the nearest horse restaurant is,” Dan says.

“What about vegan horse?”

“I don’t think that’s a thing.”

“Does it count if the horse is vegan?”

“Okay are you like… actually a fan of horse meat, or…”

“No!” Phil jumps down off the bed. His body is so long that it doesn’t actually take much effort. He sits down beside Dan, then lies back. “This is better. You were too far away. I missed you.”

Dan smiles, though Phil can’t see him. Then he lies back too, shoulder to shoulder with Phil. “Okay, good.”

“I don’t like horses. For food or for anything. They’re weird.”

“Wow. What did horses ever do to you?”

“They had those faces, that’s what they did.”

“You’re horse-ist. I didn’t know that about you.”

“Those long noses!”

“You’re one to talk, mate.”

“Hey!” Phil pushes at Dan. “My nose is distinguished.”

Dan turns his head and then places an off center kiss on Phil’s nose. “Yeah, it is. I like it.”

“I like you,” Phil says, returning the kiss with a peck to the mouth. “And food.”

“Okay, yes. Food.”

-

This time they eat on the cheap. No nice vegan restaurants, just the nearest street food they can find. They eat as they walk, both content to be quiet for a while and observe this strange city they find themselves in.

And the city’s people. Now that it’s not the middle of the night, Dan can see quite clearly that it isn’t just Germans wandering around the cobbled streets. There are people from all walks of life. He reckons he could quite happily plonk himself down on the pavement and just watch them all day long.

There are so many accents and languages and faces everywhere. Usually large crowds of strangers stress Dan out, but here it feels strangely peaceful. Or - safe. He doesn’t stand out here, but he doesn’t blend in either. He is who he is and it feels like that’s allowed here. Like everyone is allowed to be different and maybe even weird and it works.

It feels so different than it had when he’d gotten here. Or maybe it’s just him that feels different. He’s seeing Berlin through new eyes.

It starts to get dark as they walk, but they seem to agree without speaking that they’re not ready to go back yet. Dan’s whole body is aching from all the walking, but it feels good. It’s better than sitting around and getting lost in his own head.

“I kind of wish we’d stolen Max’s booze now,” Dan tells Phil. “I feel like we should be celebrating.”

“Celebrating what?” Phil asks, but he’s smiling.

“Shut up.”

“I did, by the way.”

Dan looks at him. “Did what?”

“I stole the liquor.”

“You did?”

Phil nods. “It’s in my bag back at the Sunflower.”

“Is there enough for us to get pissed?”

Phil laughs. “Why? You think being drunk will make my distinguished nose a little less noticeable?”

“Shut up,” he says again, shoving at Phil’s arm. “I just… I dunno. Wanna relax, I guess. This is the first time in fucking forever I haven’t felt, like, clenched with anxiety.”

“Unclench,” Phil commands in a deep voice.

“Get me drunk and I will.” Dan pauses. “Why did that sound dirty?”

“Because you’re a filthy minded little boy.”

“Ew, don’t call me little boy.” Dan makes a face. “Call me big strong strapping manly man.”

“Is that what you really wanna be?”

“No, not really. What about you? Do you wanna be a manly man?”

“No. I told my parents ages ago to be glad they have two sons. They got at least one that’s good at sport and fixing things and… I dunno, whatever rituals of masculinity actually entail. Bathing with petrol. Drinking raw eggs.”

“That sounds more like a ritual of salmonella than masculinity,” Dan says.

“Maybe getting salmonella is the literal toxic masculinity.”

“Maybe it is. Anyway, tell me more about the things you like.”

“Um. Sweets. Food. Sugar.”

“I’m getting the impression those three things are actually the same to you.”

“... maybe. I do like pizza too, though, and it’s not sweet.”

“Unless it’s barbecue.”

“Oh god.” Phil groans, a sound that Dan immediately decides should be illegal. “The Texas barbecue from Dominos.”

“That’s my favourite,” Dan says. “Shut up, stop reading my mind.”

“Maybe I am. My grandma was psychic.”

Dan starts to say he doesn’t believe in psychics, then he stops. It’s true, and any other moment he wouldn’t mind saying it, but right now he doesn’t actually want to shut down or discourage anything Phil is saying.

“Hey,” Phil says, touching Dan’s arm. “Look, there’s a concert.”

He points to a green space across the street. There’s a stage set up deep into the area, far off but close enough for them to see the bouncing laser lights and hear the music.

“Do you want to go?” Dan asks. “Let’s go.”

“What about the liquor?”

“The night is young, materino. We can listen to a concert and then get pissed if we want.”

“You sound very young right now,” Phil says. “And I am old.”

“You’re twenty-nine, not the crypt keeper.” Dan tugs. “We’re missing it, we’re missing it!”

Phil laughs and lets himself be dragged along.

The music gets louder as they get closer. Dan doesn’t recognize it, but he also doesn’t hate it. He feels boring dressed in black jeans and a black coat, especially compared to some of the outfits he’s seen out today, but he doesn’t really care all that much. Phil is holding his hand.

They’re holding hands and starting to wade through the crowd of people gathered to listen to the music and dance along. No one cares that they’re holding hands. Dan feels invisible in the nicest way possible. He feels free. He laces his fingers between Phil’s and pulls him further into the throng.

Phil was right about one thing: Dan feels young right now. Suddenly his body isn’t aching and none of his troubles really seem to matter that much. He can feel the bass pounding in the soles of his feet and he’s not alone. He’s in a foreign country with very little money and no plan for the future, but he’s got this lovely person who wants to adventure with him.

He spins around to face Phil and sling his arms around Phil’s neck. It’s loud now, loud enough that Phil has to lean in right next to Dan’s ear to speak to him.

“You’re really hot, you know that?”

Dan can feel the dimples deepening in his cheeks.

“No, but I’m glad you think so,” he says, then catches Phil’s earlobe between his teeth.

Phil’s arms settle around Dan, hands meeting at Dan’s lower back. “I hope you don’t think I can dance to this.”

Dan laughs. “You don’t dance?”

“Not unless you want a broken foot.”

“How about sexy swaying?”

“Hmm…” Phil starts to move gently from side to side. “Might be able to manage that.”

He does actually step on Dan’s foot less than five minutes later. Dan admits defeat. “Think we have enough coin to split a beer?”

One won’t do much, but he’s worked up a thirst.

“Think we can manage that,” Phil says, and Dan’s already a little drunk on the smile he’s wearing.

-

They stay at the concert for longer than either of them probably planned. By the time they step foot back in the hostel, it’s creeping into those morning hours that plague Dan so much.

“Why were we in such a shit place before, again?” Dan asks.

“You were there because it was so cheap,” Phil says. “I was there because I’m shit at surviving on my own and it was the first place I found.”

“You didn’t seem shit at it,” Dan says. “When we first met. You seemed like you knew what you were doing.”

“Survival tactic.” Phil shrugs. “That’s one thing my job’s taught me. Act like you know what you’re on about even if you actually don’t.”

“What happens if you just admit you can’t do something?” Dan asks.

He sits on one of the sofas in the common area. There will probably be other people in their sleeping area, and while he’s tired and his legs properly ache, he isn’t ready to not be talking to Phil.

Phil doesn’t complain, just sits down by Dan.

“Then other people start to blame all their mistakes on you,” Phil explains. “Because they know they can and they’ll get away with it.”

“That’s shit.” Dan’s annoyed suddenly at anyone that’s ever taught Phil to go around being afraid and pretending all the time. “If you don’t know something, other people ought to just teach you.”

“Everyone’s too busy worrying about themselves. I get paid a fair enough wage - if I still have the job, that is - and I know there are loads of people who would love to be doing what I’m doing. A dead boring job where you just show up five days a week and don’t massively fuck up and no one really cares much about you the rest of the time. Max always said… he said I was lucky to have found easy money.”

Now Dan’s anger has a new target. Or maybe not new. Just a renewed one. “I bet you’re good at your job.”

“A trained monkey could be good at my job, Dan. That’s why it’s so boring.” Phil makes a face. “I want to be doing something… else.”

“Like what?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Phil says. “Because I guess I don’t really know.”

“Try. Try to explain.”

“Like… imagine colour splashing onto a blank canvas. That’s what I want to do.”

“Okay, that is… yeah. That’s abstract.”

“I just want to shake life into things that look like they’ve forgotten or maybe never even known what life was.”

“That’s not actually any less abstract.”

Instead of being frustrated, Phil just laughs. “I know. I told you, I’m just weird sometimes.”

“It’s alright,” Dan says. A yawn breaks up his sentence. “Splashing colour around sounds very you.”

“I guess I just want to make a difference.”

“Well that I understand.”

“Yeah?”

Dan yawns again, then nods.

“We can go to bed if you’re tired.”

Dan shakes his head. “Not tired. Just…” He shifts his body and lays his head down right on Phil’s lap. “There we go.”

“You’re gonna fall asleep down there, I know it.”

Dan’s eyes are already closed. “Nope, m’not.”

“Whatever you say,” Phil says in a soft voice, and starts stroking the hair behind his ear.

It feels so nice that Dan can’t hold back his contented sigh. “What were we talking about?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

Dan laughs. “You’re cute.”

“You are.”

He’s quiet for a while after that, just lying there and enjoying that way it feels to have Phil’s fingers in his hair. It makes him feel heavy and warm and safe.

“Doesn’t it feel like we’ve known each other a lot longer than twenty four hours?”

“Yeah,” Phil says, stroking Dan’s temple with his thumb. “It does.”

“Like it was just this afternoon you crawled into my bed with your big willy on show.”

Phil snorts. “God. That was stupid.”

“No it wasn’t. It was sexy as fuck.”

“I don’t know what came over me. I never do stuff like that.”

“You wanted the D.”

“Shut up.”

“D for Dan.”

Phil swats his arm.

“I mean, you clearly did. You trimmed for me. That’s effort.”

Phil is quiet for too long. The silence is laced with something that hadn’t been there before. Dan opens his eyes and looks up at him. “What’s wrong?”

“I just… I shouldn’t have done that to you.”

“Phil, I liked it.”

Phil shakes his head. “I was being stupid and reckless. It just felt so nice to have someone look at me like I mattered, or like… like they wanted me. I didn’t even remember what that felt like.”

Dan frowns. “There’s no way that’s true.”

“It is. Max made me feel like an afterthought.”

“Mate. No offense, but… why the fuck did you even give him a day of your time?”

“Because it was easy,” Phil says. “Life wasn’t fun, but I didn’t have to try with anything. And after I failed at doing anything after uni with my degree I just… wanted a win.”

“Oh.” Dan reaches out and curls his fingers around Phil’s leg. “I get that, I guess. If I had a way to get an easy win, I would.”

“Would you, though?” Phil asks. “You don’t seem like the sort of person who wants to take the easy way out of anything if it doesn’t feel right to you.”

“I ran away.”

“I think running away is brave sometimes. I should have run away a lot sooner.” Phil’s hands are still soothing, massaging the tension away until it feels like it’s leaking out of Dan’s ears.

“I think…” He yawns again. “I think words are hard.”

“I think you’re cute.”

“You already said that.”

“It’s still true.”

Dan groans and buries his face against Phil’s lap. “Shut up.”

“No.”

“I’ll show you my willy next time,” Dan says, rolling over a bit. “To make it even.”

“What?” Phil squeaks.

“Unless you don’t want to see it…”

“Shut up.” Phil scowls. “You know I do.”

“We’re gonna make our own mutual willy appreciation society.” Dan closes his eyes again. “Tomorrow. Too lazy to groom again now.”

“I don’t actually care either way,” Phil says. “Doesn’t make a difference to me.”

“I like how it looks. But I wouldn’t like, expect you to, I was just taking the piss with the rating thing. Trust me, there’s little you can do with your junk that I wouldn’t be on board with.”

“What if I got it pierced?”

“You wouldn’t,” Dan says.

“Maybe I would.”

“You’re not the prince albert type.”

“You don’t know that!” Phil insists.

“Phil. You’re not going to let someone stick a needle in your dick.”

Phil winces.

Dan grins. “Knew it.”

“Does that disappoint you?”

“No, idiot. I don’t know why anyone would do that.”

“I wanted to get my lip pierced when I was like twenty or something,” Phil says.

“Me too. Snake bites. Mum wouldn’t let me.”

“Mine would’ve hated it so much.”

“I almost got my tongue pierced one night.” Dan shakes his head at himself. “I read online that it makes blowjobs feel better. Like for the person receiving.”

Phil looks down at him with a concerned expression. “How old were you?”

“Um. A teenager. Let’s leave it at that.”

“You were giving blowjobs as a teenager?”

“No, but I was thinking about it a lot.”

Phil chews on his lip. “I don’t know why, but that makes me kind of sad.”

“Everything about my teenage experience makes me sad,” Dan says. “Let’s not even talk about it.”

“When did you go from thinking to doing?” Phil asks.

“Seventeen. As soon as I was done with college I kind of went nuts with the gay shit.”

Phil smiles, but it still looks sad.

“When did you?” Dan asks him.

Phil laughs ruefully. “I didn’t even have my first proper kiss with someone I wanted to kiss - that wanted to be kissing me - until university.”

“Wait, first proper kiss? So before that you just had... improper kisses?”

“Girls,” Phil says. “When I’d go through phases of trying to tell myself I wanted a girlfriend. And some of my friends who were straight guys, during spin the bottle. But only because they thought I was straight too.”

“If you were anything like me, you really did want a girlfriend.” Dan thinks of one girl, with soft brown hair and sad eyes. “You just didn’t want her for the right reasons.”

“Yeah,” Phil says. “Maybe it was more that. I just wanted what I saw everyone else around me having. I wanted to feel normal.”

“I wanted to feel whole,” Dan says. “I wanted to feel unafraid.”

“You don’t feel afraid right now, do you?” Phil’s fingers still. It sounds like an important question.

Dan doesn’t hesitate. “No. Do you still feel like you’re not normal?”

“Only in the ways I want to be,” Phil says. “Normal just feels like being trapped sometimes. I learned that with Max.”

“Can we rename him?” Dan asks.

“Um… to what?”

“Cuntface McGee.”

Phil laughs, probably too loud for the late hour and how many people are asleep in the building.

Making Phil laugh makes Dan feel good, a slow surge of warmth like syrup through his bones.

“He’s German,” Phil reminds him.

“Cuntface McSchneider.”

“I wonder what the German word for cunt is?” Phil wonders.

“We’ll have to ask someone tomorrow. Find the oldest grandma on the street and just tap her on the shoulder.”

“You can do that,” Phil says. “I’m not being assaulted by a German nana just for a vocabulary lesson.”

“Adventure, Phil. We’re supposed to be having adventures.”

“I’m too pretty for those adventures to involve someone breaking my face.”

“What exactly do you think German grandmas carry on them? Bricks in their bag? Steel knuckles?”

“Maybe!” Phil says. “You never know.”

“I’ll protect you,” Dan promises.

“You’re bluffing anyway,” Phil says. “You aren’t going to walk up to a stranger on the street and say anything to them. You didn’t even want me talking to the people in the cafe earlier.”

“I could if I wanted to,” Dan says. “I just don’t want to.”

“Well, I couldn’t, normally. I get anxious even talking to the shop clerks usually. Being around you just makes me feel like I can do anything if it’s in the name of making you smile.”

“Fuck off,” Dan says, but he’s smiling big and not trying to hide it at all. “How can you be as sexy as you were this morning and then as sappy as you are now? How is that the same person?”

“People aren’t just one thing, Dan. Besides, I’m always sexy.”

“Right, sorry.” He yawns again and groans as he stretches out all four of his limbs.

“You’re tired,” Phil says. “We should sleep.”

“But sleeping involves getting up. And not being touched by you anymore.”

“And also sleeping. You won’t even notice the lack of touching.”

Dan waves his hand dismissively with a floppy wrist. “Stop trying to get rid of me.”

“Hmm. D’you reckon we’d both fit on the bottom bunk?”

Dan cracks one eye open to give Phil a smirk. “Both bottoms, eh?”

“I hate you so much.”

“We could make it work. I’m sure Berlin has plenty of weird sex shops where we could pick up a variety of dildos and such. Or are you more the bead type?”

He expects Phil to squawk, but he keeps his face neutral and asks, “Who says I don’t already have that stuff in my bag?”

Dan raises his eyebrows.

“Are you the bead type?” Phil asks.

Dan bites back his laugh. He can play the forced casual game better than anyone. “I enjoy a good string of beads every once in a while, but it’s not my top choice.”

“What’s you top choice, then?”

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

“Wait, for real?” All traces of teasing are dropped from Phil’s voice immediately. “Or are you taking the piss again. Because now I’m actually super curious.”

“I’m not actually strictly a bottom, Phil.”

Phil waves his hand. “I know, I know, I’m not either.”

“You wanna know what my preferred type of sex toy is?”

“Shh,” Phil says, looking around even though they clearly have the place to themselves. “But yes.”

Dan smirks. “You go first.”

“I don’t… I mean…” Phil is flustered and it just makes him even cuter. “I don’t know!”

“Yeah, you do,” Dan says. “Come on.”

“Does it count if I didn’t actually use them for sex?” Phil asks. “Because I like glass dildos but I don’t want them up my bum.”

“What? Did you just like… collect them or something?”

“Maybe!” Phil says. “It’s actually a cool collection, alright. There are some really neat ones.”

“You just described glass dildos as neat.” Dan laughs and laughs until there are tears in his eyes. Maybe it’s funnier than it should be just because of how tired he is, but he doesn’t give a fuck. It’s hilarious.

Phil is still trying to argue his point. “I’ll show you pictures later, you’ll see! Anyway, what about yours?”

“Okay first of all that was a cop out and we both know it,” Dan says. “But my favorite thing I’ve ever used was my aneros.”

“Oh, those…” Phil makes a hand gesture that Dan assumes is meant to indicate the general shape of it, though it doesn’t really at all.

“Yeah. It’ll give you a prostate orgasm that’ll end your fucking life. What, why are you looking at me like that?”

“Shh,” Phil says. “Picturing it.”

“Picturing you, or…”

“Nope. You.”

Dan stretches out again, this time enjoying pleasant memories of the last time he had the privacy, the motivation, and the toys on hand to properly enjoy himself like that.

“Maybe we really should find one of those shops…” Dan teases. “We have nothing but time.”

“You’re right.” Phil leans over and kisses Dan on the forehead. “Nothing but time.”

“I was trying to be horny and you’re being sappy again,” Dan warns.

Phil laughs. “I know. Come on. To bed with us, to bed with us.”

“How is it that without having ever met the woman, I know you sound just like Kath when you say that?”

“Because we’re us,” Phil says.

It doesn’t make all that much sense, but then again it is very late and Dan is very tired. He lets Phil pull him up and they walk to the yellow room hand in hand. This hostel feels about a thousand worlds away from the last one they stayed in, and even though Dan’s never been out a day in his life back home, it feels right here.

What a difference a day can make. A day and a Phil.

They get their toothbrushes and bring them to the bathroom where they brush their teeth at the same time. Phil gives Dan a foamy smile and Dan dribbles mint down his chin and that makes Phil spit because he’s laughing and Dan feels more drunk and giddy than he would have after a night out. They say sleep deprivation is basically equivalent to being intoxicated, and now Dan can see why.

When they get back to the room he strips down to his pants without shame and crawls into the bottom bunk to watch Phil get undressed, but Phil’s too quick. He’s already pulling on a pair of plaid pj bottoms.

“There is an egregious lack of penis on show right now,” Dan says, his voice gone deeper with exhaustion.

“You don’t get any more looks until I’ve had one.”

Dan leans into the feeling of being drunk and uninhibited and pulls down on the waistband of his underwear until he can feel the open air on his cock.

Then he lets it snap back up. “Your turn.”

“That was…”

“You can be honest.”

“I was gonna say too short.”

Dan’s mouth drops open. “Rude!”

“What? Oh— No! Not your—” He hides his face in his hands for a second before dropping them. His cheeks are flaming. “I meant the look was too short.”

“Phil, I know. I’m taking the piss. Also you need to shut up, there are other people here.”

Phil scrunches up his face and then promptly jumps right on top of Dan. The bed makes a noise that’s way too loud for the circumstances and Dan shuts his eyes, ready for someone to wake up and shout at them to shut the fuck up.

Miraculously it doesn’t happen, and now Phil is on top of him, so really it’s a win-win. “Hello,” he says, looking up into Phil’s embarrassed face.

“You’re evil.”

“I showed you my peen. Now where’s yours?”

“That doesn’t count,” Phil says. “That was like, a twenty third of a millisecond.”

“It doesn’t look impressive right now.”

“I beg to differ.” He pauses, then says, “Seriously. I’m begging. Lemme see it again.”

“Well, you’re kind of on top of me right now, so…”

“These bloody beds are too bloody small.”

“Maybe we're too big,” Dan says. “Don’t size shame the beds.”

“I’ll size shame your mum.”

“I’ll tell her you said that,” Dan says. “No, I won’t.”

He’d have to talk to her first.

Phil’s hand wiggles between their bodies. “I like you wearing this.”

“Just my pants?”

“Exactly.”

“Well I don’t like you wearing more than just your pants.”

Across the room, someone starts to snore.

Dan turns his head a little into the pillow. He whispers even lower when he speaks this time. “You’re gonna get us in trouble.”

“What! That guy is clearly very much asleep.”

“We don’t even know how many more people are in here.”

“Can’t be that many, there are only five beds and we’ve got two of them.”

“Though strangely we only seem to be occupying one…”

“Are you complaining?” Phil kisses Dan’s jaw.

“No.”

“Are you going to show me your willy?”

Dan snorts as quietly as he can. “I told you. I already did. It’s my turn.”

“I should have just joined you in the shower earlier,” Phil says. “I wanted to. Thought about you in there naked and wet the whole time you were getting clean.”

Dan feels a tremor of genuine want rush through him. “Fuck. Don’t say that.”

“Thought about what I’d do to you if I did,” Phil continues. “Kissing you. Touching you.”

Dan knows he had his reasons for not wanting anything to happen between them in that hotel suite, but they’re awfully hard to remember right now with Phil’s voice low and deep and filthy in his ear.

“If I weren’t literally about to pass out, you’d be in trouble right now,” Dan says. He slides a hand down Phil’s back to grope his ass.

Phil laughs and presses his face into Dan’s shoulder. “Fine.”

He starts to roll off Dan, but at the last second Dan grabs him and pulls him back for a kiss that goes and goes and goes. They’re both breathing harder when they break apart. “You don’t feel like an afterthought, do you?”

He can’t see it but he can hear Phil swallowing. “No.” He sounds breathless when he talks. “Not at all.”

“Stay here with me tonight.” He’s holding Phil tight, like he’ll fall apart if he lets go.

“People will see. In the morning.”

“I think I don’t care,” Dan says.

Phil dips his head down to press his face to Dan’s neck. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Stay.”

“Okay,” he whispers. He shifts to the side so he’s not fully on top of Dan anymore, but there’s no way for them to share this bed without a significant amount of overlap.

But that’s kind of the whole point. They fumble around to get under the covers and their bare chests press together and Dan really wants to touch himself. Or touch Phil. Or be touched by Phil.

Basically he’s very turned on and Phil smells good and he feels good and he is good and he’s right there. He’s right here.

“I feel like we should get a discount for using only one bed,” Phil says, interrupting Dan from his spiraling thoughts of desire.

“Agreed.”

Phil nuzzles Dan’s chest. He actually nuzzles, like a little puppy or something.

“Can I say something?” Dan asks.

“I reckon so,” Phil answers. “Your voice seems to be working fine.”

Dan ignores the sass. “Max is the biggest idiot on the fucking planet.”

Phil breathes out a little puff of air like silent laughter. “Or maybe I am for wasting so much time with him.”

“No more wasting time,” Dan promises.

Phil kisses his jaw. “Not for either of us.”

He falls asleep shortly after that. Dan stays up for a good long time, thinking about those words.

He’s wasted a lot of time in his life. He’s wasted time being scared, sometimes when it was warranted and sometimes when it wasn’t. He’s wasted time isolating himself, refusing to believe anyone could care and so brutally shoving away anyone who might have wanted to try. He’s wasted time being someone he’s not, telling himself he was straight, telling himself he wanted to be a lawyer, then later telling himself he was worthless and useless and bound to be nothing but a failure. Telling himself he wasn’t even worth the air he breathed to keep himself alive.

Maybe some of those things still feel true sometimes, but Phil is asleep and breathing evenly against him, and all those points of contact feel like an anchor keeping him from sinking too low.