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hold me close and i won't leave

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Taking it slowly

I'm afraid to be lonely

Nobody told me

It's harder than I thought to tell the truth

Dan’s shitty iPhone trembles in his hand. His fingers hover over the contact name. He feels like a burden. He told himself he wasn’t going to run every single time. The invisible hand around his stomach tightens and he feels it in his bones. He presses the name anyway and holds the phone to his ear.

“Dan, I nearly beat my high score on bubble bobble!” is the first thing Phil says when he answers.

Dan sniffs the once and lets out a wobbly laugh and the excited voice over the line stops and says:

“Dan, what’s wrong?”

Dan chews his already chapped lip between his teeth. There’s a bit of dried blood on the corner when he runs his tongue across it. He takes a breath.

“Can I - can I come yours?” 

“Of course you can.” 

The taxi driver gives him a strange look when he climbs in with his small suitcase and red eyes but he doesn’t say anything and Dan is so fucking grateful for that. The radio is playing low. It still surprises Dan how many cars are still out on the road this late at night. Yet a part of it still feels like home. Well. Wokingham.

Dan stands outside of Phil’s door for a couple of seconds, trying to collect himself. It’s no use. Phil knows him. Phil knows most of the intimate details of Dan. He knows when he’s angry at the world, at himself, at uni. He knows when he’s the happiest. When he’s depressed and it gets too much. Phil knows that of him. 

He knocks with the back of his hand. When Phil opens the door, his face changes. Dan can feel his eyes on him. He knows Phil sees the puffy bloodshot eyes, the dried tear mark tracks and the chewed up lips. 

His eyes wander down to the small black suitcase at Dan’s feet.

“Have you dropped out, are you moving in, like what the hells happening?”

Dan’s hand tightens on the handle of that shitty suitcase and he tries to stop the way his chin wobbles and the way his eyes glass over with fresh tears. 

“Oh Dan.” 

Phil steps in front of him and wraps his arms around Dan’s shoulders and pulls him tight against his chest. Dan’s arms automatically wrap themselves around Phil’s waist. He’s still got some height on him. When he feels Phil’s warm hand around the back of his neck, he cries. He cries into Phil’s chest and tries to tighten his arms to get him closer.

He knows he’s leaving snot and god knows what else on Phil’s t-shirt. 

He can’t bring himself to care.

They stand in the tiny hallway between Phil’s kitchen and living room for a few minutes before Dan pulls himself away.

He wipes his nose on his Manchester hoodie and looks at Phil.

He’s expecting Phil to look at him like how his parents looked at him when he would interrupt their time. Like he’s ruined his one free night to himself after spending the last week here in Phil’s flat, in Phil’s space. 

But he doesn’t.

Phil’s looking at him like he looked at him at the train station on that day in October. 

“You know we talked about you moving in.” 

It's gonna leave you in pieces

All alone with your demons

And I know that we need this

But I've been too afraid to follow through

Dan shakes his head. He opens his mouth but quickly closes it before he says something stupid.

“Do you not want to?” Phil asks in a quiet voice. Dan recognises the tone and it makes him flinch.

He chews on his lip again, catching it between his teeth. Phil brings his hand up to his cheek and caresses his bottom lip with his thumb. 

“Stop doing that, you’ll break the skin even more.” 

“Can we cuddle on the sofa?” Dan asks in a small voice. Phil grins, the one that he uses just for Dan. He takes Dan’s hand and leads him into the living room and that god awful sofa that’s uncomfortable under his bum. It creaks and it has a stain on it that Phil has to hide every time his parents visit. 

Phil sits down first. Back against the armrest and pats the space in between his legs for Dan. Dan curls up against Phil’s chest, he wraps his arms around Phil’s middle and buries his face in his chest. Phil’s arms snake around his waist and he feels the motion of his hand rubbing up and down his back. 

He plays with the strings of Phil’s hoodie, not looking at Phil in the eye. He lets his fingers wrap and he pulls them tight.

“Are you trying to strangle me?” Phil giggles, the tip of his tongue poking out. Dan finally looks up to his eyes and they’re bright and soft. It makes Dan melt under his touch. He trusts Phil and Phil trusts him. 

“I wanna give you space,” Dan blurts. It was a stupid thing to say and he doesn’t miss the flash of hurt on Phil’s face.

“No! Not like that. Not that kinda space.” Dan begins. “I want you to have your own space -- away from me,” He flinches again. He’s butchering this whole conversation. Phil tilts his head in confusion but he doesn’t interrupt Dan. 

Dan sighs and leans back a little. He’s now head-level with Phil and Phil is just staring at him. It feels intimate.

“I want -- I want you to have space that you have by yourself, where you can still play hours of bubble bobble and walk around in your Pokémon pants and not have to worry if I don’t get out of bed for hours,” 

“I thought you liked my Pokémon pants.”

“Yes, I love the way Charmander stretches around your dick when you’re --”

“Okay, I get it,” Phil giggles again and rolls his eyes. “But Dan. We had space. Like, months of it. Remember when you lived three and a half hours away,” He says.

“When you told me you got your place at Manchester Uni, I was so happy. I couldn’t wait for you to be in the same city as me. Only 10 minutes away. Not the hours we were used to. In the same space as me. I thought you would’ve just moved in here instead of the halls,” Phil shrugs.

“I didn’t wanna rush into things and… ruin this,” Dan mutters and drops his head. He feels Phil’s hand again back on his cheek. His thumb rubs the skin underneath his eye. He lifts Dan’s head up and leans in to place a soft kiss to his lips. Dan leans forward to deepen it but Phil leans back.

Dan makes a noise out of protest and Phil smiles at him.

“I love you. So much. You won’t ruin things. You’ll make them so much better.” 

Dan pulls a face in objection. But Phil’s eyes were still sparkling. 

“You make my mornings better when I wake up next to you. Especially when you’re naked and rubbing yourself against me,” Phil giggles, his cheeks pink. “You make my afternoons better by spending hours with me playing video games and helping me film videos,” 

Dan felt himself choke up. The lump tight in his throat. He coughs it back. 

“You make my nights better. When we’re on the sofa rewatching Buffy, even though I know you hate it, you still watch it with me anyway -- with a bowl of popcorn after stuffing our faces with pizza.” 

“Hey! I don’t hate it. I just think Spike has too big expectations of Buffy,” Dan says.

Phil gives him a look. He leans in close to Dan near his ear and whispers:

“And I also really like it when you do that thing with your tongue” 

It makes Dan shiver all over under him. He feels the goosebumps up his arm. 

“I could be doing that right now.” Dan reminds him. Phil grins and shakes his head. They stay quiet for a few minutes before Dan speaks up. 

“I love you too,” Dan finally says back. “I always thought about it. Thought about coming home to you.” 

He remembers the thoughts when he was back in Wokingham in his old bedroom, on his old laptop. His late nights through the blurry picture on Skype. He thought about coming home to Phil and a cooked dinner -- well the truth was more takeaway but still. 

“I thought about it too,” Phil replies. He leans back in and kisses Dan. With more force this time. Dan brings his arms up to wind around Phil’s neck. Phil moves his hands underneath Dan’s bum to bring him closer onto his lap. Dan sighs into the kiss and feels his body finally relax. Phil runs his tongue across his bottom lip and Dan opens his mouth for him. 

He feels Phil’s hands underneath his hoodie, they’re warm against his naked skin. The tightening in his stomach unravels. 

Dan will probably stay the night. And probably the next couple of nights until he picks himself up and returns back to the halls. He’ll think about moving in with Phil. It’ll take him a couple of days to. He’ll pack the rest of his shit up. Not like he has a lot but still and he’ll dump into Phil’s -- their -- room. There’s still going to be that feeling in the pit of his stomach about intruding Phil’s flat, Phil’s space. He’ll get over it.

And when he finally does, he doesn’t regret it.

Hold me close and I won't leave

'Cause it hurts when you hurt somebody

So much to say but I don't speak