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you, me, and the internet

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David Schreibner’s most popular video on Youtube was an animated story time about when he got his nose pierced. He wasn’t entirely sure why it got as popular as it did. He’s read the comments what feels like a thousand times, and people like his cartoon style and think his narration is pretty funny. But like, he still doesn’t really get why they like it so much. His cheeks still get a little warm every time he reads all the praise, and he can’t help but smile when people write their own stories in response.

His second more popular video is of him and Hans, a beauty influencer and dear friend, trying to recreate makeup looks they found online and doing very, very, very poorly at it. They make fools of themselves the entire time, and David ends up screaming halfway through that he’s an artist, goddamnit! It shouldn’t be this hard! Hans reminds him that he’s an actual makeup artist, and he isn’t doing much better with David’s limited collection of tools and colors. He ends up screaming by the end that he can’t make a sunset cut crease with paint brushes and his fingers, and David will only ever admit to himself that he doesn’t really know what any of that means.

His third most popular is another animated story about him coming out as transgender. The video transitions from a black and white outline style into his fully detailed cartoons with bright colors and vivid scenes once he was finally comfortable and happy with himself. It’s the video he’s most proud of when he thinks about it, but it’s also the one he never reads the comments on. The last time he did, he almost threw up from just how overwhelmed he felt the entire time. People have been incredibly supportive of him, and most everyone was very respectful and courteous in the comments. And when he read through them the first time, he was almost brought to tears with how much people related to his story and how people were learning from total strangers on the internet, but once he got to some of the bad comments, the mean ones, Laura stole the laptop from under him, shut it off, and told him he should probably go for a run or something because she couldn’t watch him sit there and fester any longer. He hadn’t looked at them since, not that Laura or anyone else would ever let him.

His 19th most popular video is an apartment tour with some of his friends and his sister screaming in the background the entire time. He was redecorating, so there was stuff thrown around everywhere with his walls half-painted and furniture pushed into the wrong places in most rooms. He doesn’t really think about it after he posts it. He only really made it because people were asking for it, and he wanted something easy to post for that week while he was still working on getting things back in order with his disheveled apartment and everything else. So he never even notices the comments.

FlappinJacks:
Doesn’t that look like matteohno’s video game set up?

It gets 7 thumbs up and one reply of yeah it kinda does. It gets buried immediately. David never sees it.

***

“So what are we doing today, David?” Hans says excitedly into the camera. He’s leaning over his makeup table on his elbows with his hands clasped in front of him, practically radiating happiness and rainbows like he’s well known to do.

David smiles brightly, and it’s all gums, which his fans always go crazy over. He’s leaned back in his chair casually with his hands in his lap. Later, the internet will have hundreds of edits of him circling various websites, talking about how good he looks relaxed in all black with his signature beanie over his hair. David will probably look at them for half a second just because he’ll get a couple of mentions, but he’s sure to get sent some with the comment this one is my fav, only to get sent a different one five minutes later no wait this one.

“Hans is giving me a makeover.”

“Yes!” Hans shouts and claps his hands like he’s been waiting to do it for the entire time they were setting up. “That’s right, folks. Today we are giving David, the famous Da Underscore Vid Dot Gif here on Youtube, a full glam makeover and maybe getting him to spill some tea for us.” Hans winks at the camera. “Let’s get started!”

The video cuts to David facing Hans and looking down at all of the makeup in front of them. Hans is messing with some of the foundation options in front of him, trying to find David’s color and which one he wants to use. “You don’t mess with makeup much, do you?” Hans asks as he brushes some primer onto David’s face.

David chuckles and shrugs in the way people do when they aren’t trying to move too much. “Ah, no. I don’t. I can do basic stage makeup in a pinch, but not anything too complicated, as you know.”

“For those of you who don’t know, David actually has a very successful acting career here in Berlin,” Hans said in a matter-of-fact tone. He looked at the camera briefly with a smile before turning back to his foundations.

“Yes, I’ve been doing plays since I was 16, and I really enjoy it.”

“You just got finished with one.”

“Yeah,” David smiles. “I just finished Romeo and Juliet. I was Mercutio, but closer to Baz Luhrmann’s Mercutio than probably the one people would have read in high school. It’s actually the second time I’ve done the show. I was Romeo last time, and that was like two years ago. I had a lot of fun. The cast was really, really great, and the director was just absolutely fantastic.”

“He was great in it, not that anyone was questioning that. I saw it twice. One in the beginning and one towards the end of the run, and I think you were perfect in both. I’m going to be going with a concealer that’s a little bit lighter than I would use usually, just to give David a really bright under eye to really make his face sharp,” Hans make a cutting gesture across his cheekbones and some sort of sound effect that David couldn’t really place.

David jumps slightly when he feels the brush go under his eye and laughs slightly to cover it up. “I think people always forget that we’re real life friends. They’re always so confused when we do videos together,” he says.

“Oh yes,” Hans squishes David into a hug and smiles brightly into the camera. David can’t help but think that he’ll be getting a screenshot of this exact moment later with Hans, and his over the top fondness, and David with his forced exasperation. It’ll come with a snarky comment or something about how Hans was being annoying. David will be able to read through it straight to the jealousy. “David here is one of my many children I’ve collected- I mean adopted over the years. I’ve known him since he was the wee age of 19, almost four years ago now. He’s grown so much! You guys would not believe how cute and innocent he used to be!”

“You’re suffocating me!” David says while laughing into Hans’ arm, tapping on his arm until he releases him. Hans lets him go, and David takes his beanie off to readjust his hair and then puts the hat back on. He’ll probably see that later somewhere, too.

Hans boops him on the nose with his brush. “Do you want to explain how we met? I’m using the Laura Mercier setting powder by the way. His skin would look really good with a little of glow, but we’re just going in with the original translucent for now. And we’ll add a little bit of a kick later.”

“We met at the Summer in the City conference in London. My Youtube career had just started, and I was only really doing short films and my animated story times back then. I was honestly lucky to be invited. I think I had like 20k subscribers at the time, and I still had to work, like, two jobs to pay all my bills. And I was still in school and everything- which is why I made a channel. Anyways, I was like real-real broke back then, and I spent all my savings making it to the conference. But I thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I ran into one of your friends in the lobby, and I ended up having dinner with your group later that night. We found out we were both based out of Berlin, and we’ve kept in touch ever since.”

“He ran into my butterfly, and now he’ll never get rid of me!”

***

David posts videos once a week, twice when he’s been particularly productive and doesn’t have to worry too much about pre-filming too far in advance. He tries to produce a variety of videos, from the silly challenges that go around the platform, to simple vlogs about his day out with friends, to short films that he does once or twice a year when he can, to his animations that always take a lot of work but are probably his favorite overall. He wants to keep his channel interesting, for the fans and for himself, and he thinks he does a pretty good job of that, even if he spends too much time fixating on every frame in editing.

***

“Hey, guys,” David says into his camera. He rubs at his eyes and yawns. “It’s currently,” David looks over at his night stand, “Five in the morning, and I’m going to go on a run right now because I clearly hate myself. I’ve got meetings starting at eight, so I need to get an earlier start than usual. So let’s go.”

There’s a quiet noise from somewhere in the room. David looks to his left briefly and smiles and then the video cuts out.

The video continues with a couple of quick scenes: the park where David is trying to catch his breath from his run with the sunrise behind him, a street in Berlin that shows off some cool graffiti scenes with David sticking a peace sign in at the last second, a coffee shop where there’s a quick cameo from Laura laughing at David’s spilled coffee, and then David’s art space in his apartment where the music fades out and David’s voice come back in.

“I’m working on this big drawing right now for my friend, Jonas’, birthday, and I know that a bunch of you guys have wanted to see my art process. So I thought you guys could hang out with me as I do this. His birthday is in, whew, three days away, and I think I can finish in time if I ignore my basic human needs like sleeping and eating! So let’s get to work!”

The video speeds up as David roughly sketches out a park in the background and then some outlines for some people. “So, I was thinking I would do like a selfie moment with Jonas holding the camera here,” he makes a vague head shape in the corner of the paper and a couple of lines that are supposed to be in an arm in the long run, “And his girlfriend, Hanna, would be right behind him here being all adorable, much more adorable than Jonas. That’s for sure. In the background we have Carlos and Abdi, you guys have met them before on this channel. They’re being absolute fools back here just like being obnoxious to everyone in the immediate vicinity. Carlos’ girlfriend is going to disapproving of this on this bench over here beside them with a couple more friends- maybe Amira looking at everyone with her classic exasperation and then Mia laughing at all of them.”

David speeds up the video as he puts more detail into the characters he’s drawing. “Alright, with those guys in there. I’m going to put me…,” he puts his pencil up to his lips and then smiles up at his camera briefly, clearly in thought about where the rest of this is going to go. “I’m going to put me right here a little bit behind the couple,” he makes a circle off to the Hanna’s side, “and then I’ll put… yeah, right there, and then Hans, who everyone knows on this channel by now, and Linn will be photobombing back here making ugly faces and stuff.” He makes three more vague head shapes before he speeds it up again and adds more details into people’s faces and bodies.

“Alright guys, I think that’s enough for today. I know I said I wasn’t going to sleep until this is done, but I’m honestly wiped and just want to chill for a little bit. I’m going to go over the outline tomorrow and then add the color if I have time. Check out my Instagram if you want to learn more about my process because I post in progress videos over there, too. And hopefully we get this one finished in time for the birthday boy’s big day. Thanks for hanging out with me today! Catch you later!" David blows a kiss to the camera and the video ends with his usual sign off screen with his other socials and links to previous videos.

Gifs_of_David_Gif:
Was someone in bed with him??????

Isakyaki:
Someone was def in bed with him asldfja;lsdhf my heart!!!!!

Artistically-Yours:
who was the person beside David in the drawing?? he drew them nice and cozy

***

There’s a blurry video that gets reblogged over 200k times and turned into what feels like a million gifsets on tumblr by the time David hears about any of it from his manager. It’s just a video of David meeting some fans on the street when he’s running. It’s happened a million times before, and they usually pass without too much excitement, without too much thought at all. He’s all smiling and hugs and one girl says, “Marry me,” with a fond smile and a bright blush as he’s walking away. Something he’s gotten used to over the years, something he’s got at least twenty or so cute and funny replies that aren’t too mean to let down all the advances. David chuckles and waves a last time before responding, “Sorry, girls. I’m taken.” He wasn’t even thinking when it came out his mouth. He didn’t even realize until he was sent the video by all of his friends.

He gets 5,000 more subscribers in one night, and all his videos get a bunch of comments asking who the mysterious person is that has apparently stolen his heart.

He didn’t even realize.

***

“What’s up you, guys,” David greets into the camera. “Today I’m going to be hopping on the bandwagon and try to follow a beauty guru’s makeup tutorial and see how it goes. I’m going to be following one of Leonie’s, or Leleleonie here on Youtube. We’re great friends, and if I mess this up at all, I know I’m going to get an earful. So let’s do it.”

Leleleonie
you realize concealer and foundation are different, right?

Da_Vid.Gif replied to Leleleonie
Just don’t tell Hans

***

Matteo Florenzi has been on Youtube for about five years. He started his channel when his roommate at the time, Hans, said maybe he would like having something to focus on while he was still figuring some things out about his life, and about himself, and about everything really. Matteo didn’t have anything he was good enough at or knew enough about to make videos on all the time except for video games and Italian food, so he ended up making a video game channel though he always joked that a cooking channel was in the works.

He would try out new games and make videos of tutorials about how to get through difficult parts of the newer games that a bunch of people were talking about. Sometimes he would post cheats if he figured them out himself, and it wasn’t too common knowledge yet. He didn’t really think anyone would watch any of them, but he posted every two weeks like clockwork just because he did actually enjoy making the videos, which he would never admit to Hans even if someone held a gun up to his head.

Matteohno has just over 200k subscribers after five years of posting. He doesn’t rely on Youtube for his main source of income and works at a deli part-time during the lunch rush to supplement everything. His most popular video is a compilation of him jumping and screaming when playing horror games. He posted it really as a joke because his friends, mainly Jonas, would send him screengrabs of his videos of Matteo looking both terrified and absolutely hilarious about what’s happening in the game. He’s even become a reaction image on the video game side of the internet, which is something he tries not to think about too much if he can help it, his face just showing up on things every now and then.

Matteo really hates horror games, and horror movies, and really anything that’s too scary in all honesty, but his viewers really like it when he squeaks over something. All the comments on the compilation said he was cute, which he didn’t really agree with, but they were paying his bills. So he tended to post them every once in awhile just to keep them from blowing up his notifications about the same new game, but god, he was really sick of hearing about Slender Man and Night at Freddie’s at this point. It’s old news at this point, and he didn’t want them anywhere near his computer, let alone him.

His second most viewed one is him building the ugliest Sims he can make and then forcing them to fall in love. He makes a bunch of comments in the video about how everyone deserves love, even if you look like a rotten avocado. That one actually turns into a little bit of a series. He’ll post Sims updates about every couple of months and also puts them on his insta every now and then. His favorite character, a seven foot woman with wrinkly grey skin and oily vomit colored hair named Gretchen, just became recently single after her husband of two years, a three foot, blue skinned man named Wilson, died tragically in a boating accident. She’s thinking about going out to bars and seeing if there are any single young women looking for a sugar mama. Gretchen made a killing off of investing in Apple early.

Overall, his dedicated viewers knew maybe four or five things about Matteo personally. They knew he lived in Berlin. They’ve met his best friend, Jonas, on a couple of occasions when they’ve gamed together. They know that he’s an only child and doesn’t have a great relationship with his parents just from comments made here and there about it. And they know that he has a boyfriend, which means they also know that he’s gay or at the very least interested in men. He wasn’t really sure he ever said gay specifically. And while they know that he has a boyfriend, his viewers have never seen or heard from him at all. They don’t even know his name, though the small fandom that has circled around Matteo over the years call him John, just for the laughs. Most of Matteo’s viewers have started to wonder if he even really exists.

***

“Welcome back, guys! I have Carlos and Abdi with me here today, and we’re going to be doing the best friend challenge. How it’s going to work is that one person is going to ask a question with their own answer already in mind and the other two are going to answer. Each matching answer counts as a point. Everyone is going to get to ask their own questions, and the person with the most points in the end, wins,” David explained into the camera. “And I know what you’re thinking. Carlos and Abdi have known each other for practically a decade, so they have a clear advantage. However, most of you don’t know that Abdi literally never pays attention to anything-“

“Hey!” Abdi yelled, waving his arms around.

“It’s true,” Carlos agreed and shook his head disappointedly into the lens. “He probably won’t even listen to the question and then answer wrong for himself.”

“I am right here!”

“We’re aware,” David frowned over at him. He looked him up and down quickly, clearly not impressed, and then smiled brightly back into the camera. “Alright, Carlos is going to go first, so let’s get started.”

The video shifted to David and Abdi looking at little white boards in their hands and Carlos looking at them out of the corner of his eye. David had the cap of his marker in between his teeth as he doodled his name in the corner of his board, and Abdi was looking around the floor for his, already have lost the cap himself.

“First question,” Carlos started. “I’ll do an easy one. What’s my favorite video game? Alright. 1…2…3”

David and Abdi both flip their whiteboards over to show Mario Kart.

“Yeah!” Carlos yells. “Okay, okay. Next one, also easy, how long have me and Kiki, that’s my girlfriend,” he adds, looking into the camera before turning back to the boys, “how long have me and Kiki been dating?”

David immediately goes to write something on his board while Abdi starts counting on his fingers. He shakes his head and then starts counting again. He scrunches his eyes shut and then looked up at the ceiling. David took the liberty of editing the X Files theme song in and did a slow zoom towards Abdi’s face.

“Time’s up!” Carlos said. “Reveal your answers-“

“Wait, wait, one second,” Abdi rushed before scribbling something on his board.

Carlos rolled his eyes. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Abdi nodded and smiled into the camera.

“Okay, show your boards!”

David and Abdi flip their answers over. David had written down Six in a tight cursive and a lopped S. Abdi wrote down 4. “Dude!” Carlos grabbed onto Abdi’s shoulder who looked shocked. “You were there when I asked her out! We were in high school, man!”

“Yeah, I know,” Abdi said like it was obvious. “And high school was like- Oh, wait…”

“Oh my god,” David laughed, bumping his board against his head. “Just move on. We don’t have time for his epiphany. Or lack thereof.”

“You guys are so mean to me,” Abdi mumbled with an over-exaggerated frown.

“Okay, last one for this round. What was my first job?”

David once again went to write something down right away, and Abdi started looking at his board like it may or may not have the secrets to the universe on it. “Ready?” Carlos asked. David nodded while Abdi snapped out of wherever he was and quickly wrote something down before Carlos told them to show their answers.

In David’s neat handwriting, he wrote Clerk at hardware store. Abdi scribbled out cashier.

Carlos looked at them for a second before making a face and nodding. “Yeah, okay. I’ll give those to you.”

“Alright, so it’s the end of round one, and I got three points. Abdi’s got two. Now I’m going to be asking. We’ll see how they do,” David rose one eyebrow in a challenge and widened his eyes while looking into the camera. “Okay, so I’ll stay on theme. Who is my favorite character in Mario Kart?”

“Am I allowed to say Luigi?” Carlos asked with a grin and a snicker. David rolled his eyes. A couple people make comments asking about why Carlos mentions that but then answers Daisy anyways, but they never really catch any steam.

***

David talks to his team about it for probably a week, not being able to commit to any direction for too long before someone makes him change his mind again. They go through every single alternative: him denying the video, ignoring it, saying it’s true but not talking about it further, saying it’s true and maybe revealing a little bit about who it is but still not showing too much, telling the whole story. David wants to tell the truth, the whole truth. That part he knows. He doesn’t want to hide this significant part of himself anymore, constantly editing his videos to make sure nothing slips, make sure his secrets are secured tightly away from the rest of the world, but at this point, it’s been so long, it’s almost by muscle memory, avoiding saying any names, setting up his frames that don’t have any pictures in the background, trying to not show that’s he’s totally and completely in love and has been what feels like a millenia and another on top of that to come.

He thought about doing a full video but was worried about chickening out half way through, psyching himself out and telling himself that this isn’t what they wanted to do and deleting the footage before it ever gets anywhere near the web. After thinking it over for probably another week with more and more mentions and comments flooding his social media, he ends up doing an Insta story about it because hopefully it will slide a little under the radar and people won’t ask too many questions. Wishful thinking and all.

“Hey, guys. What’s up?” He smiles brightly into his phone screen. “You guys might have some questions about me that have come up recently.”

He took a deep breath. “So there was a video of me, that I guess a bunch of people saw, and basically- Gosh,” he laughed at his own stumbling and put his hand over his chest, fanning his shirt out at the collar a couple of times. “I’m so nervous. I don’t know why. Okay. Whew. Basically, there’s a video going around that some of you maybe saw where I say I’m in a relationship.

“And a lot of you have been asking if it’s true, which it is, yes. I’ve been in a relationship for over three years now. We, uh, we live together. We’ve very committed to each other and love each other very much and everything. So-

“I’m not going to say too much more on it right now. I’ll tell you guys more about it in a video later, but for right now, I just wanted to let you all know that it’s true and to just be patient with me. I will see if I can introduce you guys soon, but until then, please just respect our privacy until we’re comfortable with everything.

“Okay, yeah, that’s it. Catch you later, guys!”

He ends the video there, not even looking at any of the comments or notifications that were coming in. Instead, he decides to shut his phone off entirely for a little while and go for a run to get some of his energy out or just go outside for a little while and get some fresh air, try to get his head screwed back on right after feeling so out of sorts for these past couple of days when he was trying to make a decision one way or another.

Someone uploads his story onto Youtube, which gets reuploaded in various snippets onto Instagram, and Twitter, and Tumblr, and places on the internet he doesn’t even know anything about. It spreads just as quickly as the first one, faster maybe, and it ends up becoming the main gossip of the week, being featured in tea spilling videos and conspiracy threads where everyone spends their time trying to figure out who could possibly be his long term partner that no one knows anything about. Some people guess that it’s another youtuber, Hans and Leonie both get thrown around along with some people he’s only been in one video with like Sam M’Pele, or they guess that it may be someone famous, because why keep it a secret at all? Some say that maybe it was a normal person that just didn’t want to be in the videos or get too much attention. Some go as far as to say the whole thing is a publicity stunt, that David’s relationship is made up. That one annoys David the most though he doesn’t tell anyone. What a thing to makeup, he says. He wonders what the endgame of something like that would be. Pay an actor to play the part of a loving partner? No, thanks. Not interested.

He gets 2,000 more followers overnight, but for some reason, it doesn’t feel good.

***

“Hello to all the unfortunate bastards that somehow made it to this video. For our returning viewers, sorry to see you haven’t escaped yet. For those who are just stumbling onto my page for the first time, get out while you still can,” Matteo introduces his video with his face tilted awkwardly in the frame as he sets up his camera to the way he likes it to frame the couch while he’s playing whatever game.

“That’s no way to do an introduction,” comes a muffled reply from behind him somewhere.

“And how am I supposed to introduce it?” Matteo retorts back and finally gets his camera right because he leans back to where the viewers can see his entire face and he smiles ear to ear into it. He’ll probably get a screengrab of that later with a couple of heart emojis and a compliment that he can’t handle on a good day, instantly turning into a blushing mess that has to hide his face if he’s in public or face some light humiliation from any and all of his friends.

“Say like welcome back and stuff and then like say what we’re doing today. You have to make them feel welcome, Luigi, so they watch the video,” someone explains with a hint of exasperation like they’ve already explained this to Matteo a thousand times and is bored of it by now, and Matteo rolls his eyes right into the camera and throws himself up to join whoever it is on the couch. For Matteo’s more seasoned viewers, they’ll probably be able to recognize his best-friend from toddler aged on, Jonas, but people who only dabble into Matteo’s stuff, probably just sees a curly haired, goofy looking guy that elbows Matteo immediately as he sits down next to him.

“What’s up, guys!” Matteo says with a high level of fake enthusiasm and throws some jazz hands in for good measure. “Welcome back to my channel! Today me and my b-f-f-l are going to be playing Mario Kart and asking each other grossly personal questions!”

Jonas snorts and elbows him again for good measure. “And who exactly are you imitating?”

“I plead the fifth,” Matteo responds and powers up his laptop sitting next to him. “Alright, so we’re going to be playing Mario Kart, like I said, and ask each other the 30 or 36, whatever it is, questions to fall in love. Loser has to buy beer for a whole month.”

“Whoa,” Jonas interrupts. “You said a week!”

“This is Hollywood, Jonas. Go big or go home,” Matteo says with a little wiggle of his head and a side eyed smile.

“Last I checked, this was your living room,” Jonas corrects, waving his arm around.

“Just pick your player,” Matteo responds with a sigh, rolling his eyes.

The screen splits so that half of it is the screen they were watching with the game scrolling on, and in a tiny cut out you could see the two of them still sitting on the couch, both with their computers close to them so they could read the questions off when it was their turn.

“You go first,” Matteo prompts.

“Me?” Jonas asks, staring intently on the cart he was trying to make. “You’re the host. You go first.”

“I’m picking the track. We haven’t even started yet,” Matteo argues back, as he scrolls through the options, only to pick the only obvious choice: Rainbow Road. Jonas makes some sort of noise, and Matteo smirks at him, saying somewhere in his face that Jonas had to know this was coming.

“Okay, okay. If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?” Jonas reads off right as the numbers start counting down on screen, and he speed reads his way through the second half just so he could accelerate at the right time.

“Uh,” Matteo stalls as he gets his little Luigi started down the treacherous path, desperately trying to dodge Bowser as the PC tried to knock him off the side of the road into the abyss. “I guess David,” he answers simply, hitting Bowser back because, frankly, he was being a little bitch right now.

“You have dinner with David every night,” Jonas responds with a scoff as he tries to hit Rosalie away from the mystery boxes.

“And I like it every night,” Matteo bites back, reaching out to grab at Jonas’ controller as he chooses a direction in the cut out of the road.

“Hey!” Jonas says, holding it out of reach and trying to kick at Matteo’s feet to distract him. “Cheater,” he spits out.

“Ha, ha,” Matteo laughs. He looks quickly over to the computer propped up on the couch arm next to him. “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” He asks quickly, turning back to the screen only to see Luigi falling off of the road. “Fuck,” he mutters and leans back as he waits for the cloud man to bring him back.

“Only if I could do something with the fame,” Jonas asks as he goes around a difficult turn and curses under his breath when he knocks into Mario and almost sends himself off the side. “Like get famous enough to pressure people into finally acting on climate change or something like that.”

“Of course, you fucking hippie,” Matteo snorts and leans forward again to get back in the grove now that he found himself in last place and not liking it one bit. “Your turn.”

“Okay, uh, before making a telephone call, do you rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?” Jonas asks, reading off the screen and distracted long enough for Matteo to make a quick gain and knock his Toad right into the dark void below as his player was sitting there idling, a strategy that Jonas thought he was a little smart for thinking of. Though clearly it didn’t work. Matteo starts to snicker to himself. “What the fuck, dude!” Jonas yells out, smacking Matteo in the arm as he waits for his character to get back.

“All is fair, man,” Matteo responds and speeds his way to first place.

Finthechat
David????? Is that the mysterious boyfriend?????

Morgan_ArthurMorgan replied to Finthechat
i think so? will we finally get answers???

***

 

David gets tagged about a hundred times in the comments of some Instagram preview to some other video that makes him hesitantly open it. It was getting kind of obnoxious how many notifications there were just to let him know that people clearly wanted him to see this video that was floating around.

“David Schreibner, a Youtube personality, has recently admitted to being in a three-year long relationship that he has hidden from his followers the entire time,” the announcer starts, and something starts to sink in David’s stomach as he watches this skinny guy he doesn’t know the name of talk about him as various photos of him and his story pop up next to him. “He promised to introduce everyone to his girlfriend soon, but after a week of radio silence from Schreibner with the exception of a short art vlog, people are starting to wonder if this girl really exists or not. Check out our full video for more.”

David goes into the comments and types out I never said girlfriend and hits send before he stops to think about if this is what he really wants to do. But the assumptions made by the host have him feeling a certain type of way he couldn’t really place off the top of his head, like he was hot to the touch but cold to the bones all at once, wanting to set the record straight, even if he didn’t owe it to anyone, not a single soul.

His notifications blow up immediately, and he gets a text from Laura saying, is that how it’s going then

He turns his phone off.

***

“Welcome back my ghouls and gremlins,” Matteo says, but he isn’t on the screen, instead the screen is showing his ugly sim walking around her house and running into various pieces of furniture that Matteo conveniently puts in all the doorways until he’s feeling merciful. “I didn’t really have any new games that I wanted to play today, so I thought we could catch up with Gretchen. She’s got a date with Susan later, and Susan’s nice. So we should probably dress up for her because Susan is way more attractive than we are. But remember everyone, love always finds a way.”

He sends Gretchen to the wardrobe and gets her fitted out in a blue striped sweater that is somehow a button up shirt and a pull over sweater at once, and green plaid pants that flare out dramatically only at the ankles. He adds a floor length purple coat over top just for the extra pizzazz of it.

“I don’t know how I feel about Susan for Gretchen though,” Matteo admits as Gretchen is walking down the street to a restaurant and says something rude to one of her neighbors which makes their relationship go down a little bit. “She’s very nice, like I said,” he adds. “But there is another lady in town, Mary, that I think would be a better fit for what Gretchen is after right now, which is a no strings attached rebound situation since her husband passed away. Oh well, we’ll have to see where this goes.”

GamerGirl
fuck gretchen who is ur bf?

gamer2695 replied to GamerGirl
asking the real questions

***

David ignores his manager’s calls and goes to Laura’s house late on a Friday night when he’s feeling like he’s got too much energy but can’t figure out how to get any of it out. She always knows what to do, he thinks as he enters her building. Always. He tells her that he’s ready for all the of questioning, all of the conspiracies, the thousands of notifications on all his socials, to just stop, and that he’s posting a video this week regardless of what anyone says.

“What does Matteo want to do?” She asks him when he seems like he’s made up his mind and not about to hear any disagreements from anyone. “Does he want to be in a video? Or does he just want you to say his name and that’s that?”

And he stops for a moment. And he looks at her. Because- Because, well, he didn’t know. He hadn’t asked through all of this, hadn’t even sat down to talk about what Matteo wanted to do about this whole mess, how he was feeling about it, how he wanted it handled. And suddenly he feels like the worst boyfriend in the whole world as he leaves Laura’s apartment late on a Friday night to do what he should have done at the beginning of this thing.

***

Matteo says a video is fine, but he wants all the final say on the edits, which David agrees to immediately, said of course he would get the last seal of approval, that he appreciates Matteo wanting to do this with him, which Matteo just huffs at and says it was about time anyways.

“Welcome back, guys,” David says and grins into the camera as he adjusts his hat. Matteo is sitting next to him, looking between him and where he’s picking at his fingernails. David entangles their fingers together and presses their knees together in a way he hopes is reassuring. “A lot has been happening recently, and I know you guys have a lot of questions. So I thought I could try to put a few of them to rest, along with my special guest.” He turns to look at Matteo, who is looking right back at him like this was his first time on camera ever, though really he’s been doing it longer than David has, not that anyone would notice from this little exchange.

“Say hi,” David says, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Hello,” Matteo says briefly into the camera before turning back to David, who pouts at him just a bit before looking back into the lens.

“I know everyone has been asking me about my relationship status, so to put all the rumors to rest, I thought I should just finally introduce you guys to the man himself,” he says and gestures to Matteo who looks back at the camera and waves, and David smiles a little bit at the viewfinder at the way Matteo’s nose crinkles up when he does it. “This is my dearest boyfriend, Matteo. We’ve been dating for over three years, like I said in my story, and we’ve been living together for just over two years. Do you want to tell them what we’re doing today?”

Matteo squints and looks at David and then the camera and then back at David like this was going to be a trick question. “The shoe game?” He says more like a question.

David laughs and nods. “Yeah, the shoe game. So the way it works is I’m going to ask a question, and then we both hold up a shoe- Well, we won’t be using shoes, but anyways, we’ll hold up the thing that matches one of us as our answer. The paint brush means me, and the video game controller means Matteo.”

Matteo holds up both of the objects in his hands and waves them around the camera, David smiling fondly at him as he does so, which he didn’t realize until Laura sent him a text with a timestamp and a text that says he looks like an idiot in love at everything that Matteo does. She sends him about seven more timestamps as she watches the video.

“Okay, so first question-” David scrolls on his phone for a second and then snorts when he gets to one. “Who has a better shower singing voice?”

They both hold up video game controller right away, laughing lightly and bumping shoulders at the way they answered so quickly. “I used to be in choir,” Matteo says simply into the camera.

“And I can’t carry a tune to save my life,” David adds. “You won’t see me auditioning for musical theater anytime soon.”

“Thank god,” Matteo mutters, and David elbows him as he snickers.

“Who makes better breakfast?” David reads and holds up the controller before he even finishes looking up at the lens. “No questions. Matteo is one of the best cooks I have ever met.”

“Good for him, too. David can’t cook worth shit,” Matteo teases as he props his elbow up on David’s shoulder, getting more comfortable in the setting. “Wait, am I allowed to curse?” David shrugs, and Matteo grins into the camera.

“Who spends a longer time getting ready for a night out?” They both hold up the paint brushes, and David scrunches his nose up a little but doesn’t make a comment on it besides a casual shrug. He reaches up to tangle his fingers with Matteo’s without a second thought.

“Who’s made the first move?” David holds up the paint brush as Matteo holds up the controller.

“What?” Matteo asks, looking at David’s answer and pulling away as if he was scandalized at the disagreement.

“What?” David repeats.

“No way. I made the first move,” Matteo says and points towards his chest.

“I’m the one that asked you out to the pool.” David said. “And I kissed you first.”

“But I’m the one that asked if you wanted to get dinner at the conference, and I’m the one that asked for your phone number,” Matteo argues.

“Okay, so you made us friends,” David agrees. “But I made us boyfriends. So I made the first move.”

“We wouldn’t have been boyfriends without being friends,” Matteo points out.

“Agree to disagree,” David shrugs though he looks into the camera like he wasn’t really agreeing on that at all, instead firmly believing in his spot as being the one to make the first move.

“I only agree to you being wrong,” Matteo says and looks at him with his eyebrows raised, and David leans into him before biting his lip and looking back at his phone, clearing his throat. Matteo smirks and pokes at his cheek.

“Who’s more likely to fall asleep watching a movie?” They both hold up controllers.

“He’s too much of a film snob to look away for a second just in case he misses something,” Matteo says and shoves his palm into David’s face to hear him squeak.

“Stop that,” he says and pushes his arm away. “You fall asleep standing up. Course you fall asleep in movies.”

“Who’s a bigger baby when they have a cold?” They both hold up the paint brushes, and Matteo laughs when he sees that David agrees with him.

“You’re so bad when you’re sick. I can’t even leave the room for a minute, I swear,” Matteo says, and David shrugs, looking back to his phone and muttering, “What’s the point of having a boyfriend if he won’t give you cuddles?”

“Who said I love you first?” They both hold up the controllers.

“We were fighting,” Matteo says. “Well, not fighting, but like in a heated discussion, I guess. And I said, ‘yeah but I love you or something’ to what he was saying just to shut him up, which it did.”

“Don’t forget to add that you turned away and were biting your thumb when you said it,” David adds and taps at his nose. “I made him say it again,” he says into the camera. “It was very sweet. He was nervous and all blushy about it.”

“Shuddup,” Matteo whines and pumps his forehead into David’s shoulder.

“Okay, okay,” David says and runs his fingers through Matteo’s hair while turning back to his phone. “Who says I love you most?”

“Eh,” Matteo hummed and held up both, kind of wobbling them in the air. David just shrugged and looked over at Matteo with his mouth to one side. “We both say it a lot,” Matteo says.

“Yeah, I think it’s pretty even,” David agrees. “Who is messier?” He asks and then holds up the controller as Matteo holds up the paint brush.

“Nu-huh,” Matteo says, shaking his head and pushing David’s hand down and grabbing his other wrist to lift up the paintbrush. “You leave clothes everywhere. And never make the bed.”

“You never do the dishes,” David fires back.

“Because I always do the cooking,” Matteo responds. “S’only fair.”

“Well, I’m the only one that sweeps,” David says.

“And I’m the only that dusts!”

“You’re messier,” David states.

“I’m messy, sure, but nothing compared to you,” Matteo says and looks at David to fight some more.

“Agree to disagree.”

Matteo snorts. “Here we go again.”

“Fine, fine, moving on. Who is the better kisser?” David holds up the paint brush while Matteo holds up the controller.

David looks Matteo up and down. “Sure about that?” He asks. Matteo shrugs. “Prove it.”

davidsdivine
wtf these two are perfect for each other

arttra
Who knew our favorite dork found an even bigger dork to fall for?

whatsittoya
damn i see why david hid this boy for so long

TheAlienMovie
they are soooo in loooove asldfh my heart cant take it!!!

***

David and Matteo both post pictures of each other on instagram the day after David uploads the video. David posts two of them from when they took a nice date to the park, one where David is looking up to the camera, not really smiling but doing something with his face that Matteo always pokes fun at him for, saying he’s trying to be sultry for his followers or something, and Matteo has his forehead pressed up against David’s cheek, laying against him and enjoying time in the sun. The next is of David smiling like he almost didn’t expect it as Matteo kisses his cheek and pinches his rib, not that you could tell that part in the photo. He doesn’t caption it. He doesn’t even tag Matteo.

Matteo responds with a couple of red hearts.

Matteo posts a picture of them making funny faces as Matteo leans back against David’s chest, both screwing their faces up every which way to see who can make the other laugh more. David won’t admit it, but Matteo always has him laughing until his sides hurt, which he’s fairly certain Matteo has figured out at this point already though David is still trying to keep some of his cool persona intact if he can help it. Matteo puts the #manofmylife, and David comments this is your best angle just because he’s afraid he’s going to say the sappiest thing in the whole world if he doesn’t make it just a little bit teasing. Matteo kicks him in the shin when he sees it later as their both lying in bed, and David can’t help but laugh and kiss him just because he can.

***

David ends up doing a live because he never really one to leave well enough alone, and his inboxes are still flooded with too many questions for his liking. He tries to keep it lowkey and casual, doing it after dinner time on a Tuesday night where you could vaguely make out the background of Matteo sitting at the table over David’s shoulder if you squinted and tilted your head the right way.

“Hello, everyone,” David greets as he leans back on the couch and runs his fingers through his hair with his fingers still a little bit damp from finishing the dishes. “I know that you guys still have some questions and stuff. I don’t really want to do a whole video on this, so I thought I could answer a couple of the things you’ve been asking right now while I’ve got the time.”

He yawns into the back of his hand. “Uh, okay, sorry, long day,” He says and shakes his head. “So Matteo-” He points to a blop behind him. “That’s him if you guys have been under a rock this past month. Matteo!” He yells, but Matteo doesn’t move. “Matteo!” He repeats and looks behind him as Matteo turns, pulling half of his headphones off.

“What?” He asks.

“Say hi,” David says and holds his phone up a little higher so people can see him better. Matteo rolls his eyes but waves to the camera anyways and turns back to whatever he was doing. “That’s Matteo. He’s editing, I think- He’s a youtuber too which I think most of you know at this point? Anyways he probably won’t join us unless I bug him too much about it, which who knows,” he says with a shrug and a mischievous little smile that he throws behind his shoulder to Matteo’s back behind him.

“But yeah,” David shrugs. “That’s my boyfriend, or partner, or who I caught, whatever you want to say. We’ve been together for three years, known each other for four. We met at the Summer in the City con that I met Hans at- the uh, the beauty guru,” he adds with a vague ciruclar motion of his hand in front of him. “And we met in the lobby. Matteo invited me to have dinner with his friends because he said I looked lonely, and we kept in touch for a while.

“We didn’t start dating until like a year in. Like, we both knew we liked each other and everything, but the timing just wasn’t good, I guess. And then one day I invited him to go exploring with me, to this- this, like, abandoned building that I had snuck into myself a couple of times, and we were just messing around in this empty pool when I kissed him. And he kissed me back, and yeah, so that’s how we got together. We’ve pretty much been inseparable since then, moved in together, stuff like that.”

He yawns again and looks behind him for a second. “Uh, I guess the other thing people want to know is, like, why we hid it. And I don’t really have a great answer for that besides we just wanted it keep it just for us, I guess,” David shrugs and makes a face into the camera. “I was just getting like- really big on Youtube and starting to realize, like, what it meant to essentially be an internet personality, like people were so interested in me and wanted to know about my life. And I was loving it, but I was in this new relationship. And I really didn’t want to mess it up because- well- whatever,” he cuts himself off with a shake of his head and another wave of his hand in front of him as he thinks about what he was getting at. “But yeah, I didn’t want to screw it up essentially, so we agreed to keep in on the downlow for a while.

“And Matteo has always been a lot more private on his channel, like never really talking much about his personal life or anything. And Youtube is different for us, like this is practically my whole life, but it isn’t for Matteo? And I don’t mean that in any sort of way. It’s just that, you know, he doesn’t want Youtube to be what it is for me? I’m not explaining this well, but anyways, we kind of came to an agreement that we wanted to do our own thing on Youtube. And that kind of spiralled into just not really talking about each other, which spiralled to a lot of other things.”

David sighs. “And I guess, we just got used to it, and it was three years later. And I was editing him out of my videos still just by second nature really. So yeah, that’s where we’re at, I guess. Um, let’s see some of these comments.”

He shifts a little bit to where he’s sitting up straighter and looking more intently at the comments that were coming in. “You guys are cute,” he reads and smiles, biting at his thumb. “That’s sweet. Thank you. I think so, too.”

***

Matteo gets over 10,000 subscribers in a week and tells himself that he doesn’t owe them anything. He’s had a channel for five years without David, and he wasn’t going to start pandering to everyone’s demands now that there just happened to be a lot more people to pander to. Your channel is for you, he tells himself as he watches the number grow and feels a sense of dread he can’t really place. You already make stupid horror game videos. You don’t have to do anything else.

He makes a cheat video for the new Mario game on the switch and doesn’t even acknowledge the dramatic increase in numbers, calling his followers his ghouls and bastards as always and not going into the comments where people are asking questions his usual followers learned a while ago weren’t going to get an answer.

His video after that is him playing Cooking Mama in his kitchen and heavily criticizing everything that she does while she’s making some generic pasta dish as he makes his own famous Pasta alla Luigi with one hand. “Why would you do that, Cooking Mama?” He asks as she mashes tomatoes. “That’s going to be disgusting, just raw tomatoes on pasta. Boil them, you coward. At least put some spices on there. Give it some flavor. Jesus.”

There’s snickering in the background that Matteo decides not to edit out, though he does remove the part where he flicks David off behind the camera.

***

They don’t become permanent fixtures in each others channels like people thought they would after their secret gets spilled. They still very much maintain the separation between their channels, almost purposefully so, with Matteo still only focussing on video games and David pointedly not so. Matteo recently got the goose game that everyone has been talking about, and he hardly sets it down for a whole week once he finds the walkie talkies. He gets David to play it a couple of times off camera, and David can see the fascination with it. He likes the part where he gets the lady to dress him up in a bow, which just tickles Matteo pink for some reason.

David keeps up his normal mixture of things. Matteo shows up in David’s vlogs every now and then, just standing around in the background or cooking dinner as David is coming in through the door. One time David catches him singing while he’s mopping the floors, and he has to run and hide when he gets found out, Matteo cursing up a storm the whole way and threatening to hit him with the broom when he catches him. Matteo will do a full video every now and then, if he thinks it will be fun for him, especially when they get the whole gang together to play some version of truth or dare where they all get royally smashed in the end. But it usually takes at least a week of convincing and a couple of days of begging for good measure before he agrees to it.

But overall, they don’t do anything too special. David comes on Matteo’s channel once to play some multiplayer game with portals that he immediately forgets the name of, even though Matteo keeps going, “Portal, David. The name of the game is Portal, and we have portals. It’s not that hard.”

By the end of the year, they make it in a couple of cutest Youtube couple lists, and both of their follower counts jump way higher than they thought they would, at least for a long while. Matteo ends up getting near a million, and David, well, Matteo doesn’t really think about how many people subscribe to him.

Most of the interactions that people see is over social media. Both of them comment on almost everything the other one posts. They start discourse over Twitter comments, or tease each other on Instagram, or asking silly questions on Youtube videos. People eat it up. David is glad he doesn’t have to edit out Matteo’s laughter in the background anymore, showing off every picture he has of Matteo as soon as anyone asks.

***

“Alright guys,” David says quietly with only half of his face showing until he holds out a little further and runs his hands through his bedhead. “I have to be a little quiet because Matteo is still sleeping, but you guys are going to come on some very important errands with me that he can’t know about. So as soon as I actually wake up and shower, we’re going to head out.”

The video cuts out and then there are various shots of the stores that David is passing by, and David swings the camera to show Jonas walking next to him at one point, who throws up a peace sign at the camera and starts laughing as David elbows him in the side. The frame cuts again to the front of a jewelry store and then back to Jonas leaning over the counter pointing to something and talking to the sales clerk in front of them, a small woman with her hair pulled back into a tight bun but with a big smile on her face, stretching ear to ear.

“This is the one?” Jonas asks looking between a box in his hands and David behind the camera quickly. He’s grinning, like today was his birthday, or new years, or the best day of his life, or all three wrapped in one, and he’s clutching the box in his hand tightly.

“Yeah,” David says, and you can tell in his voice that he’s smiling too, can practically feel his excitement radiating through the screen. “Think he’ll like it?”

“Oh, man,” Jonas says with something like joy thrumming around him. “He’s going to love it.” The camera cuts out again as Jonas pulls him into a hug.

There’s a poorly framed shot from David’s phone of David sitting at one side of the table and a woman sitting on the other who is smiling gingerly at David like they were old friends as she wrapped her hand around his as he was saying something and looking at the table. He pulls a box out of his coat pocket and shows it the woman, who gasps and covers her mouth as she holds the box close to her face. She asks him something, and David nods, smiling.

David’s leaned up on an elbow with his hair sticking up everywhere as he holds the box up in front of his nose to show off the gold band with what looks like a leaf pattern imprinted into it and then peers the camera over his shoulder to where Matteo is sleeping behind him, shoved up under his pillows with the blanket half covering his face. “He has no idea,” David says to the camera and then holds his finger up to his lips and grins like the cat that caught the canary.

The video cuts away again, the screen going black, and when it comes back, it’s obviously a different day again. David is walking with Leonie and Sara down the street, showing them holding hands as Sara points to something in a store window only for Leonie to catch him pointing the camera his way and to start to make funny faces into the lens.

“What are we getting here?” Sara asks, fiddling around with something on a shelf filled with old toys and trinkets that looked older than any of them as David pans around the thrift shop stuffed to the brim with oddities and mysteries combined.

“The game,” David responds.

“Have you told everyone your plan?” Leonie asks as she sticks her whole face into the lens and laughs as David pushes her away.

“No,” he says and flips the camera so he can look into it with Leonie on one side and Sara poking over the other shoulder. “We’re going to give them a demonstration once I get it.”

“I’m so excited,” Sara says, poking David in the ribs, and he bats her away but can’t help but laugh.

“Alright, guys,” David’s voice says as he flips a little game device around in his hands and shows it off to his viewers. “Some of you may recognize this as an original game boy from nintendo, circa 1990 or something around there. Well, Matteo has been wanting one of these bad boys for as long as we’ve been dating, so when I started thinking about, you know, popping the question, I came up with an idea that I thought I could never actually get to work. But- You know what, I’ll just show you guys.”

David starts up the game, the title of Super Mario Land coming up right away. The video speeds up with the Mario theme playing over top as David makes it easily through the level, jumping onto the mushroom men and bouncing over various fireballs spat his way, all the way to the ending when he jumps onto the flagpole. Instead of going to the next world, Mario enters into another room with the phrase at the top where David takes Mario up a couple of ladders to where a ring is bouncing in space at the top. David runs Mario into the ring, and the screen gets covered in hearts that slide down the screen to reveal the message MARRY ME?

The camera flips to show David with his head resting on his elbow as he leans over the table. “I’m nervous,” he whispers into the camera. “I really hope he likes it. I really hope he says yes.”

“Okay, guys,” David whispers into the camera that’s pointing down to a shoe rack as he picks up a pair of black boots. “This is it. Today’s the day. Wish me luck, and let’s just all pray that I don’t end up vomiting all over Matteo when I ask him.”

“Where are we, Teo?” David asks as he pans slowly around a hallway that looks like the floor is about to cave in, graffiti scattered on every surface. It’s dark and looks like it’s dingy, but Matteo is walking forward like he knows where he’s going as he leads David by the hand down a path over piles of bricks and collapsed drywall.

“Underwater,” Matteo laughs as he opens the door to show an empty pool in a big room that is much brighter than where they were before. The camera pans to where Matteo is grinning playfully as he looks over the scene that he’s clearly familiar with. He winks at David and jumps down into the pool.

“This is where we had our first date,” David says.

“Second date,” Matteo corrects.

“The dinner at the conference doesn’t count,” David responds, and Matteo spins around, reaching up to grip at the divider that should be floating in water, if the pool was filled up that was.

“Sure it does,” he says and runs his fingers over the bumps.

“Well, this is where we had our first kiss then,” David says and walks closer. He sets the camera down on the floor and pulls Matteo towards the deep end of the pool, so they were both all the way in frame. “I got you something,” he says and pulls out the gameboy out of his pocket.

“No way!” Matteo says and snatches it out of David’s hands. He flips it over a few times and grins up at him. “This is awesome. I’ve been looking for one of these. Thanks,” he leans in to kiss him on the cheek, and David leans into him further. His friends will make fun of him later and say this is when he starts looking a little green. It was amazing that Matteo hadn’t found him out at this point, looking like he was about to throw up right onto Matteo’s shoes.

“There’s a game, too,” David says and switches the gameboy on so Matteo can see.

“No way,” he repeats. Matteo stands there a few minutes, playing the game as David hangs over his shoulder to watch, bouncing on the tips of his toes in a way that he hopes isn’t too noticeable. Matteo points to the screen, looking at David to make sure he’s watching and saying something every now and then, and David just smiles at him back.

“Wait,” Matteo says at one point and turns to David wildly. He looks between the screen and David, who is now smiling like a loon with his face split in two. “Wait,” Matteo says again. “Hold on. Are you serious? David?”

David gets on his knee as he pulls the ring box out of his pocket.

“David,” Matteo says and covers his face up with his hands for a second before looking back down at David who is almost shaking.

“Matteo Florenzi-”

“Wait.”

“Matteo Florenzi,” David repeats and grabs one of his hands as he takes a steadying breath. “There are a couple of things that I have been absolutely certain of, and one of them is that these past few years, with you, have been some of the best, most unimaginable, happiest years of my life, and that I never want to be without you. So would you please, please do me the honor of marrying me?”

Matteo says something that’s difficult to hear, but he pulls David up and kisses him square on the mouth, which seems like an answer enough.

It becomes David’s most popular video overnight and sticks to the top of trending page for weeks.