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when autumn arrives

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When Phil wakes, he’s cold. The temperature in the room has dropped overnight, and his bare arms and shoulders, the only bit of skin that isn’t covered by the heaviness of the duvet, a chill runs over him that begs at him to duck his poor freezing limbs back inside where it’s warm.

In his sleep he does, pulling the duvet up heavily towards his chin where he lets himself be wrapped up in the warmth it offers.

But it’s not enough. Not with the feeling of cold still holding onto him, and as if on instinct, he reaches an arm out across the bed, expecting to me bet with the squishiness if familiar skin or maybe a cloud of soft curls, but when his hand meets only more cold air and the feeling of nothingness, his eyes fly open to reveal the empty side of the bed.

His brain is still tired; clinging onto the dream he’s had that already slipping away from his subconsciousness, nothing now but something of a distant memory that he’s sure to have no recollection of by lunch time, and it takes him a moment to remember why Dan isn’t in bed with him.

Dan is in France, a good few hundreds of miles away in a different bed that’s probably not as cold as this one is here right now.

He sits up and shivers before rubbing a knuckle at his eyes to wipe away the sleep there.

His body quickly reacts to the cool air and he feels the pinprick of goosebumps against his skin before he braves the outside of his cocoon of comfort and hops out of bed. He snatches up the closest item of clothing to him to cover his body, and when he’s pulling it over his head and stumbling back into bed does he realise it’s one of Dan’s hoodies, unwashed and just left on the floor.

He grins, slipping back under the covers and feels like a right fool when he lifts the sleeve to his face and gives it a big sniff.

It smells like Dan. It smells like warm.

He can’t stop grinning, he feels ridiculous and he sure if Dan was here himself he’d already be poking fun at how silly he is.

He checks the time and decides it’s too early to even exist. He thinks about calling Dan, knowing they’re a whole hour ahead of him and he wonders if Dan is still sleeping or if his brother had managed to wrangle him out of bed for an early morning run.

Either way, Phil decides that he’ll wait a little longer before edging on seemingly desperate. It’s only been a few days and he will not succumb to the pining boyfriend trope just yet.

He sits in bed, cosied up on his side. He could easily take up the room and hog the covers and kick Dan’s pillow to the floor, but he leaves Dan side untouched for now. Dan would be able to sniff him out if he even tampers with Dan’s memory foam pillow that matters so much to him.

Phil feels the corners of his lips pull into a smile at the thought.

He eventually does get out of bed, shoving his feet into Dan’s slippers that he finds at the bottom of the wardrobe and promises himself to put them back where he found them afterwards. Not that Dan would mind about him borrowing them, but Phil knows he’ll love to complain and whine for as long as he can about him stretching them out with his big so-called clown feet.

And Phil knows deep down that Dan loves his stupid clown feet. He’s sure of it.

He makes a tea for one, almost accidentally pulling out another mug before he stops himself with a whispered laugh, fingers brushing over the hello kitty mug, keeping it where it is up on the shelf for the time being.

He waits for the kettle to boil as he hums something made up, and usually by now he’ll hear the sound of heavy feet come up behind him and arms wrap around his waist.

He won’t lie to himself in that he’s missing Dan. He’s only a boat ride away and he’ll be home soon enough, but the flat feels weird without the extra energy that Dan usually emits. It feels weirdly big.

He decides to go back to bed with his tea and toast he’s made for himself, letting himself enjoy the small things he gets to do whilst he’s alone. He’ll eat his breakfast in bed and won’t have to be reminded about the crumb rule in bed, and he’ll slurp his tea as loud as he wants without Dan telling him it’s gross.

He does exactly that, even though he knows tonight he’ll be regretting sleeping on a bed of toast crumbs and he burns his tongue on his tea nonetheless.

He misses Dan, missed his voice beside him in bed where his space is empty. He misses his warmth.

London is cold now, summer finally coming to its end. The mornings start dark and frosty and the days are chilly, and Phil’s just excited to dig out his old jumpers from last year once more.

Maybe some of Dan’s too since he’s already started on his hoodie and slippers.

He finishes his breakfast and feels sad when he realises he can’t bribe his boyfriend into taking it into the kitchen for him, so he lazily leaves it on the bedside for later. If Dan we’re here he’d probably tell him off about it.

He misses him still; misses his weird and stubborn ways. Misses his voice and his laugh and his touch, and although it may only be two weeks away, it feels like an awful long time to Phil.

He’s sure Dan’s feeling the same way, and like magic, it’s almost as if Dan had been having the same thoughts a whole country away, when his phone buzzes with a text.

too early and too hot for mountain walks  

Phil laughs out loud. So they had been able to get him out of bed for exercise at least. It was good for him. The exercise as well as the family time.

His heart melts in his chest.

Don’t die on me howell! I need you to come back and look after me! missing my cat boy slave :(

It starts to rain outside, only lightly, and Phil can hear the sound of cars splashing through puddles on the roads below his window.

He misses Dan but he knows he’ll be home soon. He’ll be back in his arms and they’ll have each other again. Just like how whenever one is away from the other, they always end up returning to their spot in the world together, always coming back together. Just like how the end of summer greets the beginnings of autumn.

His phone buzzes again and he grins.

you are such an idiot. i miss you too. idiot <3

Phil smiles and holds his phone to his chest like a right sappy lovesick puppy. He doesn’t care, nobody is here but him to judge him for it. And besides, it makes up for the warmth at least whilst Dan isn’t here.

It isn’t quite the same, but it’ll do for now.