When Dan had left Phil’s flat a few hours before, he’d been horribly afraid that they were going to slide back into that terrible not-quite-friends zone they’d been in before the concussion, but he hadn’t known how to make sure that didn’t happen. So he just went back to his flat and sat in his sofa crease and scrolled through Tumblr without even really seeing anything on his laptop screen, thinking about these past few days, weeks, years with Phil.
Eventually, he decided to try to just go to bed, but he only tossed and turned, thinking of Phil back in the other flat, wishing he could talk to him but not sure what it was that he would want to say. Well, he knew what he wanted to say, but it probably wouldn’t be smart to say it. So he just stayed in bed and closed his eyes and tried to will himself to fall asleep, not that it helped in the slightest.
After nearly driving himself mad with all the bloody thinking, he finally got out of bed and threw on his coat and shoes and caught a cab to Phil’s place, because he just couldn’t take it anymore.
And now Phil was standing there, looking at him so adorably, all rumpled from sleep, his eyes bleary behind his glasses, his hair standing up in funny directions, and Dan suddenly loved him so much he could almost shatter from it. He opened up his mouth and words just started flowing out of him as he paced the lounge in frustration.
“Okay, so the problem is … see … the thing is, you’re a good person. I mean, like, a really good person. Some people are nice and all, but you’re literally the best person I’ve ever met. You’re kind and patient and generous and … you know … you really care about people … like you won’t swear on your channel because you’re worried about kids watching … because you’re a good person and you care. I don’t fucking care about swearing in front of kids on my channel. Kids shouldn’t be watching my channel, so I don’t give a fuck about them. Because I’m not a good person. But you care about people, even people you’ve never met. And you’re nice to your mum … and, well, you’re nice to everybody, really. And you even love all the fucking cute little animals, and you’re incredibly brave and you hardly ever get angry, and when you do you never say anything really mean. And, on top of all that, you’re smart and creative and funny. Not to mention the … the eyes … and the cheekbones … and the lips … and…”
“Wait. You’ve been looking at my lips?” Phil was rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses and looking rather confused.
“The point is that you’re obviously too good for me. I mean, it’s obvious to even the most casual observer that I’m not good enough for you. I’m selfish and petty and there’s a black hole where my soul should be…”
“That’s a load of rubbish!” Phil looked offended on Dan’s behalf now, but Dan didn’t let that stop him.
“It’s not rubbish—it’s true! And I fake being a nice person and being kind like you, but really I’m not. I’m just a fraud. I’m not a nice person or a good person or any of the things that you are. And when I’m embarrassed I just pull away and pretend like I don’t care, like I did in 2009 after that one time we … you know. That one time. And the next morning I just pretended like it didn’t matter. But it did matter. But I was too much of a fucking coward to face it and so I just acted like it hadn’t even happened. And you probably forgot all about it, because it wasn’t that big of a deal…”
“I didn’t forget about it…”
“…but it was a big deal to me, and I acted like it was nothing, because that’s what I do. I get scared and I withdraw and I lie and put on a big fake smile and I don’t talk about what’s bothering me, like I should have talked to you then, but I didn’t, because I’m a coward. I’m a fraud and a fake and a coward and a soulless abyss that no one would ever want to fall into…”
“Dan!” Phil stepped close and actually put his hand over Dan’s mouth. Dan nearly bit him in his agitated state, but settled for wrenching his head away and glaring. Phil stared at him for a long moment, his hands at his sides, his eyes growing clearer now behind his glasses, more awake, and then he was reaching for Dan and pulling him close, and then silencing Dan’s mouth not with his hand but with his own lips. Without any thinking or intention on his part, Dan’s arms wrapped around Phil in return, and they held each other gently, their lips touching just as softly, lips slightly parted so that they sealed perfectly, tenderly together. It was the sweetest kiss Dan had ever experienced, but then he’d never been kissed by someone as sweet as Phil before.
When Phil pulled away, carefully disentangling his arms enough that he could look into Dan’s face again, Dan just stared, his mind gone blank from shock, his waterfall of words and thoughts suddenly just cut off completely. Then his brain switched on again, although only sluggishly.
“You … you don’t understand,” he faltered quietly. “You don’t know what kind of person I am…”
Phil wrapped him in his arms more firmly again and pressed his head to Dan’s cheek. “I know exactly what kind of person you are. I know that for years you made a fuss about me eating your cereal, but always bought extra so that there was enough for both of us and never really made fun of me for why I might like your cereal better than mine. I liked it better because it was yours, and you knew it. But you didn’t mock me for that. I know that you agonize over every minute in your videos and every edit, and you put your entire heart and soul into making TATINOF the best it could be, not because you’re proud but because you always want to give your followers the very best of you because you care about them. I know that you’re the type of person who takes a smiling selfie with a fan in the airport even when you’re in pain and panicking that you’re going blind, because you know how much that moment means to that other person you’ve never even met before. Your kindness and commitment have made a huge difference in so many people’s lives … in my life especially. You say you’re soulless, but you care more than anybody I’ve ever met.”
Dan was glad their eyes weren’t meeting anymore in this close embrace, because tears had filled his eyes. “I could never love you the way you deserve to be loved. I’m not capable of it. I’m so cold and empty inside. You deserve so much more than … me.”
Phil pulled away slightly again so that he could see Dan’s face, and Dan disengaged to free his hands to take quick swipes across his eyes. But Phil’s hands still rested lightly around Dan’s waist and he smiled softly. “Just the fact that you say that shows that it isn’t true. I think you tell yourself that you don’t feel anything because the truth is that you feel too much, and that scares you. But you do love me … just like I love you. Don’t you?”
Dan stared into Phil’s beautiful blue eyes and didn’t know what to say. Phil was destroying the very foundations of so much of Dan’s self-image, but … perhaps … perhaps that was the part that had been fake, not the caring part. Perhaps the only fraud he’d committed had been in professing to not care. Because he did care about Phil, and he did care about his followers, and he cared about gender inequality and transphobia and so many other things … wasn’t that the whole point of this rebranding he’d done, to put out the things he actually cared about? Because he did care?
He leaned forward slightly, arms resting on Phil’s forearms, and pressed his mouth gently to Phil’s before pulling away just enough to ask quietly, “You think I’m good enough for you?” with his breath gusting softly against Phil’s lips as he spoke. Phil leaned in for another kiss before hugging him tightly and nodding with his cheek against Dan’s. Dan laughed a little and said, “Well, you’re a pretty smart guy, what with all the degrees, so if you think so, maybe I should listen to you.”
Phil pulled out of the hug and took Dan’s hand in his. “Come to my room with me? We don’t have to … I just want to be close to you right now.” Dan nodded and they walked to Phil’s room together.
They were fully clothed when they lay on the bed beneath the fairy lights that made Phil’s skin and eyes glow as if lit from within, but the same couldn’t be said by the time they woke up with bare limbs intertwined the next morning.