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Dan was pissed. Like, really pissed. It wasn't just a slight feeling of uneasiness and disapproval that slithers into your guts and leaves a bitter aftertaste whenever you think about the event that caused it. No, it wasn't just a bitter taste – the emotion slowly boiling in the Youtuber's guts felt like being betrayed by a friend. And frankly, that's exactly what happened.
It wasn't the fact that Phil was with someone else. This aspect of the whole misery was the least troubling to Dan. After all, Phil was a grown up man and free to do whatever he well damn pleased. Besides, who was he to tell Phil what to do and what not? After all, it was him, Dan Howell, who decided to end their romantic relationship a little more than four years ago.
It weren't the things Phil was doing with the other someone at the moment he entered the flat after a tiresome dispute with his fresh-ex date (Dan never got comfortable calling her his "girlfriend", although they had been seeing each other for three months. Something in the word made the whole relationship look ten times more heavy and official than Dan was comfortable viewing it).
Hell, it wasn't even the noises (although, so Dan had to admit to himself, as he shoved the headset aggressively on his ears in order to block the sound, they were somewhat distressing).
No, it was the fact that Phil broke their rule. They only had one rule concerning new romantic and / or sexual partners which was "Don't bring them to the flat". An important rule which was full-throatedly violated by Phil and whatshisname a wall away.

'I would never have dared!' Dan huffed in his mind. He regarded it as plainly insensitive. And, although it wasn't usually hard to bestow the winner of the "Insensitive prick in the Howell/Lester household" award, Dan felt it was time to pass on his trophy. It was a line that was crossed and he wouldn't let Phil get away with it. No, he would confront his flatmate in the morning about this issue. Dan proceeded ignoring the happenings in Phil's room as good as he could (which was in his case pretty poorly), when suddenly chance decided to play a cruel trick on him.

The ten seconds break between the end of a record and the beginning of a new one was enough for a sound to reach his ears. A sound which made his toenails curl and hit him so well aimed in the chest that he could actually feel his heart sink a couple of centimetres. The low noise he would always recognise - Phil's noise - the noise that used to fill their bedroom so often when they were still in love, was joined by a soft male voice moaning Phil's name. An uncontrollable wave of rage gripped Dan out of nowhere. His hands started to shake and it took him a lot to not scream out in frustration. A frustration that surprised him, not just a little. Being concerned to bring his shaking limps back under his control, Dan's thoughts wandered off to places he scarcely visited. Places he avoided with a stoic determination. Phil sounded exactly the same like he did when they were cuddled close together in the dead of night or the early hours of the morning. It was all it took to bring all the memories back, memories which were beautiful, of course, but thanks to him connoted with a sour aftertaste. He felt the strong need to lay his head on the desk, for the weight of his memories threatened to crush him. He couldn't even remember why he broke up on that rainy Monday morning in Spring. It was a mere feeling, a quick impulse that caused him to question the relationship they shared. It took his younger self some seconds to label it as growing dull and mundane, just like a wine that breathed too long and lost his sweetness. They had been together for two years when Dan decided to drop the bomb. As passionate, as emotional their love story started, as emotionless was their breakup. It was sorted in a few sentences, without reason or explanation. "I don't think we work, Phil. We should go back to being friends" His words flashed in front of Dan's closed eyes, mocking him, reminding him of how much of a jerk he was. Phil took it well, he assumed. Way too well to be honest. Good thing they never talked about it. Ever.

Okay, that last thing was a lie. He never talked about it. Phil seemed to have a very strong need to talk about the Dan-shaped hole in his heart whenever he tried to (unsuccessfully) fill the gaping wound with liquor. It wasn't like that these events happened on purpose. But sometimes they just sort of did, when they were out with people they cared more or less about; out and not really caring about reputation or boundaries. It were those sloppy, drunk, pseudo-happy nights with friends that sort of happened and leave you kind of ashamed of yourself afterwards- those nights were he would lead Phil home. Those nights where the quiet of a post-social situation didn't stay quiet very long. Phil would start and just never stop, asking questions, voicing his feelings, being sentimental and aggressive. Dan would stay quiet the whole time. Dan would wish silently to not remember a thing that left Phil's mouth the next morning, but he never forgot anything of it. It was all there, buried in his mind, waiting for the right time to pop up and remind him that he was a much more disgusting person anyone would think of. Phil knew. But Phil didn't hate. Phil would scream and curse be on the edge of tears- but he could never ever hate. But Dan did. Yes, Dan did. Dan would stay silent while Phil poured his heart out. He would make sure Phil made it to bed safely. Whenever Phil kicked and felt the need to let his aggression float, Dan held him until he was calm again, until the muscles felt weary and the words were glazed over by post-alcohol drowsiness. He would leave the room with a ghostly kiss on the other's temple – because Dan still cared so much about his best friend that it hurt to see him this broken, knowing it was his very own fault. It were those nights when Dan wandered his room aimlessly, searching for something unknown to make the situation bearable. Asking himself so many questions until the first crack of sunlight hit his window pane. He couldn't answer half of them. But it became so much of a routine that he forget how to break out of it. He kept quiet too long, it would just be awkward to be honest to himself all of a sudden. He didn't know that the honest opinion about his feelings for Phil was. The silence between him and his heart climbed to a stage almost impossible to overcome. So he stayed silent, and Phil did the same during a very awkward breakfast, where both of them pretended they didn't remember a thing.

But here he was now, listening to Phil fucking another guy on the very same bed where the raven-haired Youtuber took his virginity. On the same bedsheets. Here he was listening and remembering everything....

[Backflash] Phil's kisses got more eager as he softly, but steadily guided Dan onto of his bed. They were both shirtless and their pants were already half off. Dan knew exactly that it was bound to happen. And boy, he was nervous. They had been dating for three months and always kind of got around the very certain stage of every relationship. But not that day, Dan felt. On the one hand he was excited- he was almost unbearably in love with Phil and couldn't wait to share everything with him- but on the other hand....
"Dan?" Phil's hoarse, deep voice shook him out of his thoughts. He didn't even notice breaking the kiss. Dan looked up and what he saw took almost his breath away. Phil leaned above him, his chest rising and falling quickly due to heavy breathing. His lips were red and curled into a delicate smirk and a  halo of long black hair framed his face. His pupils were dilated, to the point where their blue was as dark as the deep ocean. Before he was aware of it, Dan placed his hands on the side of Phil's hips and caressed the lean hipbones. Phil let out a shuddering breath and brought himself closer to his younger boyfriend. In a moment of excitement, Dan's hips buckled upward (he almost lost all control over his body), bringing their clothed crotches in contact for the very first time. Both boys gasped, surprised by the new kind of sensation. Phil's eagerness grew, as he worked his way to Dan's neck to grace the tender flesh hungrily with his teeth. Dan felt a shudder coming over his whole body and it took him a lot of self-control (and even more self consciousness) to utter the next words: "Phil...stop..."
The raven-head stopped dead in his tracks and looked at the brunette's face. He studied his boyfriends expression worried- had he gone too far? "What's wrong? I'm sorry- I'm too quick...." Phil was busy babbling while sitting down next to Dan and scolding himself for lacking self-control. "Phil" Dan couldn't help but chuckle- why was Phil so adorable?

"It's not' mean...this is wow.....I really really want's just......" Dan cast his eyes down in embarrassment, praying silently Phil would get the hint and he wouldn't have to say it out loud. By the time he heard a soft chuckle, Dan's cheeks felt to be 100 degrees. "Are you trying to tell me that you're still a virgin?" His fists started clenching, well it was exactly what he wanted to say, but there was no need for Phil to giggle about that like a stupid twat! He should feel honoured that Dan choose him, above all people, instead of- "I can see your grumpy face. Stop that mental rant of yours right there"

Dammit. Why did he already know him so well? Stupid Phil... "I'm not making fun of you" "You did chuckle, you dingus" Phil giggled, he loved Dan's insults, because it was a twisted little way Dan liked to show his affection towards him. It was their way of telling the other you're special to me. And Phil loved it, because it was so different. So special. Like their unique relationship was. "I'm chuckling because I'm happy, idiot" Phil retorted. There was a small pause, in which Dan spent a good time pouting and avoiding looking into Phil's eyes. He hated moments like those. Something inside him- his insecurity- always got him in those moments. What if I mess up?, he asked himself. Is there something to mess up during sex? Hell, how would he know?! And Phil already knew so many things, was experienced,.... intimidating.... "Look at me, stupid" Dan did as he was told. His eyes wandered over the body next to him. Oh did he manage to get into the life of this beautiful human being? Get into his bed? How in the name of fucking Jesus on a  tricycle did he get the idea that Phil would want an inexpierienced virgin like him- "Stop worrying about those things, Dan. Everything's okay" Dan continued to look very worried. With a groan, Phil flipped dramatically on his back and managed to pull Dan along, positioning him on top of his casually streched body. "See?" he teased with riding his hips against Dan's. "See what you do to me?" Dan found himself moaning quietly at the contact, but, hell, his insecurities were strong. "I don't want to make mistakes...", he mumbled. "I'm scared" Phil rolled his eyes and captured Dan's lips in a breathtaking kiss. "Do you trust me?" a mere whisper against parted lips, nothing more than a hot breath. Dan nodded slightly. "Then I'll teach you everything you need to know" Phil's tone shot straight to Dan's crotch and finally, he gave into his desires.
It was Phil's magic. It was Phil stopping the world with his words. Phil was everywhere, when he entered Dan's body. All Dan could smell was Phil's muscy stench, all he could see was his naked body covered in sweat, the only sounds were their moans and heartbeats and all they felt....was a kind of connection, a kind of nearness, of completeness you only feel when you love a person so much like they loved each other that night.
[End of Falshback]

A muffled scream of pleasure brought Dan back to reality. With disdain (and shame), he discovered that the memory turned him more on that he felt comfortable admitting to himself. He crossed his legs uncomfortable and thought of ways to get rid of the little problem later that night. There was enough time worrying about that. The strangers's moans coming from Phil's room were a more prominent one. Dan felt like hovering above the scene. He knew exactly how Phil moved. Or what he liked. The  buttons to press to make him completely loose himself. And he felt the other's touch on his skin, on his buttons, ghosting, actually making him shiver whenever his thoughts wandered back to them making love.
But now, someone else was discovering all those beautiful buttons and used them, now Phil made someone else his- even just for a moment. But a moment is all it takes for two bodies to close the last gap between them- and how he remembered Phil closing the last gap between the two of them! He never felt this pleased, this excited, this aroused in the past four years. Phil had been careful and sweet, yet wild and exciting, and Dan could not get rid of the image of his best friend kneeling above him and giving him this crooked smirk – how could he forget it? He saw Phil every day and he never forgot what he looked like in those moments. The fact that now someone else heard the deep noises he made once he got excited or seeing his face when he -
The image was enough to make Dan lose his temper and punch the wall soundfully, in order to make Phil hear that he was there and listening to his mockery of their sacred rules. Satisfyingly he listened to the creaking stop for the split of a second. When a muffled conversation started, Dan stopped his playlist to eavesdrop shamelessly. "What was that?", a husky Irish accent asked. "....just my flatmate", came a deep, breathy reply. Just. Yes, just your motherfucking flatmate you used to fuck on these bedsheets you should be motherfucking ashamed to disgrace them with the body fluids of a random stranger! WHY did it have to be a guy? Dan was surprised once more by the anger he felt. He almost forgot how sentimental he was about things like that. But hell, he was. He never dated another guy. Way too many girls, but never ever a guy. It was the thing he would and could only share with Phil. No one was allowed to touch him the way Phil was allowed to. No one ever made him feel quite the same as he felt with Phil. Somehow he never got comfortable with the thought that Phil did not think that way.

By the time the creaking started again, Dan's music was turned up to a level increasing the risk of becoming deaf by 200%. It never really felt like an actual break-up. They simply kept living together, they kept making videos, they kept being the brand "Dan and Phil". Everything stayed exactly the same, minus the affectionate contact or words. Plus sudden uneasiness around each other. Plus the unasked questions and unspoken answers that hung between them. It was more like a very tasteless joke with a awful slow pointe. Dan remembered, as he stared holes in the wall, that this whole brand thing bothered his 21 year old self. He remembered how desperately he started in 2012 to not be associated with Phil, to be his own person. Could that have been the reason why...? It seemed to him so stupid looking back. They were more of a brand than ever before and it no longer bothered Dan. They loved what they did and they were pretty good at it. Living and working with Phil was a lot of fun. But it was far away from easy. Living with another person is never exactly easy. There are always room for conflicts. Boring adult stuff. Bad moods. But somehow....somehow 2012 Dan was incredibly disappointed that these things happened with Phil- his Youtube-idol, his inspiration, his boyfriend, as well.
The toxic cocktail of longing to be your own person and recognising the person you've been lusting after so long is, to your disappointment, just a normal human being was enough to drive 2012 Dan into the conclusion he had to go out more. Meet other people. Maybe he got greedy. Maybe he had got too much confidence. Maybe he somehow got the ridiculous idea that there was a person out there better than Phil.
While 2016 Dan found himself opening that forgotten folder on his laptop with all the selfies they took during their relationship (The fact that he didn't have the heart to delete it, made the breakup look more and more like a poorly rehearsed play), he found an answer his former self quietly. You were wrong. You've searched for four years. You woke up in countless different beds. And did it give you more independence? Did it enhance your knowledge? Did it make you happy? 'Sure', Dan thought bitterly clicking away one photo after another. 'I'm as close to happy as I can get'.
The last relationship was promising. But something about it was not quite right. Sure, he should have told her about his job sooner. He just didn't feel the need. So she had to google him. So she had to find out about YouTube. She had to see pictures of Phil. While she babbled away earlier that day about how surprised she was finding out about Dan's career , Dan suddenly realized he only started dating her because she had icy blue eyes. Maybe it would have worked out. If only she had continued to eat her dinner, instead of letting out a remark out under her breath. "I don't like that Phil-guy very much, tho. I've found him very annoying and childish. He's only in your way" So it was settled. Sure, he had been rude. Maybe he would have needed to explain. But Dan was never good in explaining his breakups. Of course, she was baffled. Of course, she was upset. But, do understand, he had to leave.

He left her to come home to hear Phil getting over him. Wasn't it what he wanted? It somehow felt less good when he was the one at the receiving end. Maybe Phil just pretended to be happy for Dan and his new lovers? Dan would know the answer, if only he was brave enough to remember the things drunken Phil screamed at his face at three am while he rocked him to sleep. Or the sadness in his best friend's eyes whenever they shared a happy, wonderful moment, a moment that was worthy of a kiss or a tender hug, but it never happened, because he couldn't get over a (false?) decision he made 4 years ago. Of course, he knew how much Phil still felt. He might be ignorant, but he wasn't blind. Seriously tho, what was he afraid of? Wasn't the worst case scenario already occurring?
Dan suddenly realized he had stopped clicking and stared blankly at their smiling faces entangled in a sloppy hug over his whole screen. The way their eyes seemed lit up touched something inside Dan's chest. It was almost like his heart, the heart he seemed to have lost contact to,shyly gave him a call and whispered "You have me, do you still remember? And I have an awful lot to tell you" 'I do remember you so well' Just like he remembered the way it felt to smile like that, to so genuinely happy. The happiness in Phil's forever frozen eyes made Dan actually feel the warmth that radiated from his body. While he reached out to touch the cold screen in the hope to feel a little bit of the things he used to have- he was hit by a wave of feelings, feelings he was unaware he still had, feelings that were terrible and beautiful. It was a beautiful sideshow, much more beautiful than the pictures. The fluttering in his stomach when Phil first answered his tweets. The pondering of his heart when the first kissed. The way it used to feel safe crawling back into Phil's arms when the world troubled him. The way Phil touched him to make him feel things he had never felt before. The way he made Dan his that night....The way the shimmer in Phil's eyes died when he had gotten over with the stupid, selfish breakup. While all these emotions rained down on Dan, he quietly asked himself if he still loved Phil. Like he did before four years ago. If that lack of feeling for Phil just had been a phase, a phase you regret deeply once it's over? If he actually never really stopped.....But....but no. He wasn't ready. It was too soon (Although it had been an awfully long time). 'Sorry heart, I have to hang up now. I'll call you some time around. Or maybe I won't. You know me.'

The noises from the other room became almost impossible to ignore. Already vulnerable to suppressed emotions, Dan risked to stop his music for a second just to.......investigate the happenings next door. He immediately wished he hadn't when whatshisname shouted dirty little nothings. He was about to start his music again when he heard Phil make a noise he didn't hear in four years, but wouldn't forget for the rest of his life. It shot a violent wave of desire into his body. Untouched body parts suddenly started to tingle with anticipation and he pathetically just wanted to see Phil's face, and kiss him, and press his naked body against his. The images in his head shot immediately in his cock. The desire arose so quickly that Dan was caught off guard by it. He tried to calm his body down with breathing exercises and thoughts about cold showers, but just hearing Phil come was enough to give him a rock hard erection. He let out a shaky groan as he made his way towards the bed; ready to spend the next twenty minutes masturbate to fantasies about open-mouth kisses and having wild, dirty sex.

Phil had never done something like that before. Phil felt strange. Phil hadn't been that kind of guy who hooks up a random stranger for frustrated sex. But well, keyword here is "hadn't been". Maybe it was the fact that it would have been their sixth anniversary. Maybe it was the fact that Dan was still indifferent. Maybe it was the way he never managed to talk about the way he actually felt. Maybe it was the woman Dan had been seeing for over two months. One of those things must have been the reason why he put on the leather pants which Dan hated and went out with only one goal: Not being alone tonight.

'What have I become?' he wondered while he watched the young redhead putting on his trousers. "Aren't you going to stay?" he heard himself ask- what a pathetic plea for a person who grew so tiered of sleeping in and waking up alone. The man gave him a small smile and touched his leg. "I never stay, love. You have my number, just in case you get lonely again" Phil helplessly watched him leave, and miserably considered calling him right away and plea him to stay. Because, oh hell he was lonely. Thanks to Dan. Or thanks to himself. Maybe he was too sentimental. Four years were enough to move on. So, shame on himself for still longing for a long-lost memory.

Naked and weary, Phil shuffled into the bathroom to wash away the smell of the guy he didn't even bother asking about his name. The smell was it that got him into this situation in the first place, Phil contemplated while turning the heat of the water up. He smelled like Dan. Not exactly, of course, but he used Dan's cologne. The same cologne Dan had been using ever since they met and never had the decency of changing, so it wouldn't evoke memories every time Phil got near enough to smell it. Phil was ashamed of his actions and a bit sorry for that person, but it was the only reason he impulsively took him home. And did things. A lot of things. Things he used to do to Dan. Things that didn't satisfy him the way they did when it wasn't a petite redhead, but a tall brunette wiggling and moaning underneath him in pleasure. All he could do was close his eyes and pretend...
He didn't want the redhead to kiss him, but he did. A kiss was all that was needed to break the illusion. This wasn't Dan, Dan never tasted like cigarettes and mint. Back in the time when kissing each other was their top priority, Phil grew addicted to the taste of Dan's lips. For it was strong, like a brew of mocha, yet surprisingly sweet, like a drop of chocolate syrup carelessly added to the coffee. Phil never found a replacement for this sensation.
So here he was, being kissed by a stranger in his own bedroom. A kiss had always been more intimate to Phil than sex was. You kiss people or things you love. Sex did not require this kind of criteria.

It wouldn't have been different if the redhead had stayed, Phil realized suddenly. There is nothing much to discover in the arms of a person that doesn't mean anything to you. Still Phil had so much he was searching for....and the solution was only a wall away.
So Dan heard them. So Dan had been there. He was supposed to be at his "girlfriends" flat. It filled Phil with a dirty, damnable satisfaction that Dan heard him. The feeling was so dark, Phil was mildly surprised he was capable to think like that. It wasn't like him. But then again, nothing seemed to be very much like him today.

Phil stared blankly at the ceiling while the drops rained down on him, soaking his body evenly. He closed his eyes and memories started to push  into his mind almost instantly.
"I don't think we'll work out, Phil. Let's just be friends" So they did. And they were great friends. Their friendship was wonderful. They had loads of fun. But sometimes....sometimes after filming a funny video or hanging out on the couch all day playing some games, it overcame Phil. He would feel the deep desire to grab the other softly by the shoulders and draw him near like he used to be allowed. Or lay his head on Dan's lap, or kiss him, or feel his heartbeat in a very long hug. There he sat and let it wash over him, helplessly looking at Dan and hoping the other would finally see how much he still felt. But Dan never did. Dan closed his eyes. It's so easy to claim you didn't see when you turn your head in the opposite direction. Phil couldn't start talking about it. He was bad with starting conversations. He had his tempter under control (except for a few intoxicated moments), while Dan's was always ready to boil. Only, of course, if it fit into his comfort zone. Dan was the loud one. The noisy one. So if Dan kept silent, then all there would be was silence (Talking about the end of their relationship could be categorized "out of Dan's comfort zone", Phil mused). Of course, they went through some kind of a nasty phase. At least Dan did. Shortly after the breakup, he would go out very often and enjoy it immensely to remind Phil that they weren't a thing anymore. "You're not my boyfriend anymore", he would state at every possible occasion. "I am aware", was the only answer Phil gave him. Nevertheless, Dan would always crawl back to Phil whenever he didn't understand adult things. Whenever he felt down. Whenever he needed support. And who was Phil to deny it? He still cared so much about Dan, how could he deny these small moments where he still felt like the person he used to be for him. Maybe it were those moments that made their relationship prone to fail. It sound's like a juxtaposition, now that he thought about it. Everyday life gently sucked the excitement out of their relationship, yet it was the only way Dan would give him the attention he craved so much.
With a small sigh, the ravenhaired Youtuber turned the shower off. While drying himself with a towel, he caught a glimpse of his appearance in their huge bathroom mirror. A red bite mark graced the side of his pale neck. Phil touched it lightly and flinched a little bit. It would most certainly stain and it was at a spot almost impossible to hide. But then again, Dan already heard them. Dan already knew they had sex. There was actually no point in hiding the blatant proof. Phil could imagine how pissed off Dan must be because he broke their "rule". He on the other hand didn't give much about it whatsoever. But Dan had certain emotional bonds to certain not quite rational things. He cherished them, he held them dear- and he was very mad whenever Phil, by accident or on purpose, violated them. 'How ironic', Phil thought to himself while considering tying a towel loosely around his hip. He but voted against it eventually- there was no point, really.
When a very weary, very ashamed, very naked Phil Lester laid his head on his pillow that night, he slept in without any dreams. Little did he know that his best friend spend a sleepless, thoughtful and aroused night thinking about him (mostly naked), while doubting all the decision he had ever made.


 The next morning came awfully fast but was chosen to be ignored by the two British Youtubers waking up at their flat in London. Dan spent another two hours in bed, stressfully having a nap out of pure exhaustion, while Phil considered staying in his room all day. Because chance is a ridiculous little thing, they happened to leave their rooms at the exact same time, craving some breakfast food.

They ran right into each other in front of their doors. Awkward just got a new definition in that very moment.

Neither of them dared to rise their gaze for some seconds and Phil found it very uncomfortable to even breath, afraid that the smallest indicating of movement was enough to unleash a new wave of awkwardness. Dan was the first to start walking again, quickly and clumsy and still without a word. Phil let out the air he had tried to trap in his lungs. They made it to the kitchen without any other random encounters.

While Phil fetched a strong brew of coffee, a very sleepy Dan discovered the shiny bluish-red mark on his flatmate's neck. A very sleepy Dan suddenly wasn't so sleepy any more. The anger which managed to die away during the night came back again with full force. He watched Phil closely, with eyebrows raised in accusation. The other kept his head turned away from Dan and did his very best to not breathe too rapid. Phil added a third package of sugar to his coffee (normally he would only take two, Dan noted) and proceeded to watch his toast brown half-heartedly ('It's unlikely of him to not choose cereal' Dan shook his head a little at the thought. A lot of Phil's action were unlike him these days).

The younger man pressed his lips in a thin line. The folds of the other's shirt ("The blue jellyfish print on the black fabric really highlights Phil's eyes", Dan's heart commented and was scolded from him almost immediately) made a ruffling noise as the owner worked around on the counter. Dan eyed the soft movements, pondering about the best way to address the issue. The thought process took far too long for his liking, but his mind seemed to wander off (probably conducted by his good-for-nothing heart) every time he tried to form fitting words. 'Alright, so I'm going to- damn that bruise is almost purple, it must hurt like- no, focus! I have to voice my anger about the whole situation and- he must have been frustrated...he only insists on rough sex when he's frustarted- Crap!'

Dan hit the counter with his flat hand, angry about his stream of thoughts. His cereal bowl bounced angrily around the surface, gaining Phil's attention. He stared at his friend with wide eyes, startled by the sudden forceful movement. Surprised by the attention his action drew towards him, Dan settled for the direct approach. He imagined it to be something biting, something witty, like 'Did you enjoy breaking promises last night', but all he managed was a rather lame "You broke the rule".

Phil cracked an eyebrow. He took a small sip of his coffee to savour some time to balance the pros and cons of getting into an argument with Dan. It wasn't like him to do it, he hated arguments. But then again, what was even like him these days? "I am aware" he answered finally.

Phil strolled to the living room table, trying to remain as calm as possible, But truth be told his nerves were on end. The night was short, and regretful, and he somewhere inside him there was anger hidden. Seething in his bones, an omnipresent sore wound. Anger about the whole situation. Anger about the circumstances that drove him into a one-night-stand on the hypothetical anniversary of the relationship he couldn't get over of. His quiet, indifferent tone immediately hit Dan's spot. He followed his friend hurriedly to sit down next to him on the sofa.

"Rules exist to not be broken, Phil. The whole point of their existence is to suppress certain actions, actions that disturb the well-being of the people who agreed on them!" Phil toyed with responding'I was actually quite fine with my actions', but decided against it. It would have been a lie. Phil never lied to Dan ('Not telling something doesn't count as lying', he quickly clarified to stop his consciousness from nagging him), and he wouldn't start over something so trivial.

Sometimes, silence is the best answer you can give, so silence was it that Dan got. Silence, on the other hand, made Dan frustrated. If he was silent about topics, it was something completely different...although he couldn't really name any criteria that distinguished these situations. But it was different. Period. How dare Phil to be silent! He had to pledge his case, realize his mistakes, and apologize to him. Just how it's supposed to go when you've done something wrong! "You can't just go around and do whatever you like, we both agreed on them so it's your duty to-"
"Calm down", Phil interrupted him, unnerved by Dan's rant. Phil was capable to defend himself, he just usually politely decided against it. But even the calmest souls like him had limits. And Dan tiptoed very close to the border line. "Your emotional bonds to a concept as trivial as your 'rule' are childish". And besides-" he took a sip of coffee to create a dramatic suspense- "I can do whatever I please".

Dan was dumbstruck. The talk didn't at all head in the direction he supposed it to head! Phil always caught him off guard. Phil didn't like to quarrel, Dan witnessed this trait a million times before. Phil always remained calm, while he was hot-tempered. The rareness of the fact that Phil decided to raise his voice created an air of impressiveness around the action. But not only the action itself was impressive, Phil's choice of words tended to be, too. Usually childish (how ironic!) and free-spirited, an angry or unnerved Philgained two hundred percent more superiority, while his tone dropped certain degrees. Dan huffed angrily in his mind about the description "childish".

It was so typical of Phil to play these cards when he wanted Dan to shut up. His friend wasn't a person to brag about his education or experience in life (which both were impressive, Dan had to admit), but whenever he wanted people to stop going on his nerves, he unleashed his full potential. After another second of surprise, Dan gained his composure back.

"It's not trivial", he insisted, feeling stupid because his statement followed a pre-school argumentation pattern. "And I'm not telling you what you do, but I can assure where you won't do it. I live here too, y'know?"

"Look, Dan" Phil started, trying to massage the upcoming headache away. "What do you want from me? I can apologize, if that puts you at ease, or we can discuss some more about already spilled milk. It won't change a thing" That one hit home. Truth be told, Dan didn't know which goal he had in mind when he felt the urge to confront Phil. It was more of an impulse, lacking every glimpse of rationality. But being Dan, being stubborn, he wouldn't back away now. Not when the train wreck was already rolling. "I want you to realize your mistake." 'Good one, Dan! Very clever. You're a rhetorical genius'

"I also want a lot of things. This is not how it works" Dan felt provoked to ask 'And what do YOU want?', but bit it back in the last second. It would only lead to topics he didn't feel comfortable discussing. Instead, he settled for angrily staring at Phil's profile. His eyes darted over the black bangs and the beake-like nose of his ex-boyfriend, stopped a second at the high cheekbones, only to travel over the strong jawline back up again.

After some minutes of tense silence, Phil let out a little sigh. He felt tired all of a sudden and a lot older than 30. Like the weight of the world decided to settle itself on his shoulders. If only his coffee was a bit stronger. "I'm sorry if I hurt you. That's not what I intended"

"What did you intend anyway?", Dan mumbled. "Bringing a whatshisname here and violating our house rules" Phil didn't feel like answering the question. His stomach felt like sinking a little, while his heart got caught in his throat.

"Can't you tell?" he mumbled out, voice way too hoarse for the cold composure he tried to maintain. His hard glance met Dan' face. A bunch of different emotions chased over the otherwise soft features. Embarrassment: "Of course I can guess the physical part, ...", Understanding: "I haven't know...", and finally, Hurt (masked by an offended snarl ): "But why did it have to be a guy?!" Phil raised his eyebrow, finally understanding the core of the problem. Was Dan....jealous?

"In case you've forgot"- Phil made sure his voice hit the freezing point, slowly getting fed up by Dan's indifference about their relationship. "I'm gay" Dan realized with a cold shudder that he lost control over the train wreck he called "conversation". "And in case it slipped past your notice-" Phil continued, voice raising in pressure and dropping in temperature. "I'm no longer bound to you in a romantic relationship, so I can take home whoever I want to be with me. Just because you suddenly changed your sexual and romantic preferences, doesn't mean that I've changed mine. You were supposed to be with one of your countless 'loves of your life', anyway. How could I know you were home instead?!"

The second these words left his lips, Phil regret them in his heart. A dark part in his soul cheered a little, for finally giving Dan a taste of his own medicine. 'I thought you were better than this', his mind snarled disgusted. Phil anxiously bit his lower lip, cursing himself for getting carried away. After all, it was Dan he was talking to. He never wanted Dan to see this side of him (at least not sober...).

The Dan in question found a burning interest in the dissolving form of his soaked cornflakes. Phil suddenly felt desperate to hear Dan's voice- hell, he didn't want to really hurt him. Yet he did. "I'm sorry, that was harsh. I'm just....." "I've broke up with her" a small voice interrupted Phil's desperate tries to put spilled milk back in the bottle. Although Phil felt a nasty rush of relief at this information, he saw his duty as a best friend to show sympathy. "I didn't know that. I'm sorry"

"It doesn't matter. She doesn't matter. I don't want to talk about it" 'Will you ever talk about any of your impulsive break-ups, Dan?!'

Another period of silence settled between them, this time longer than the last one. Phil looked at his hands, it was the safest spot to look at. He was afraid of what he would see in Dan's eyes. He needed to make Dan feel his anger, yet not even half of it was out and he already felt awful about it. The silence made room for words, words that made Phil more and more anxious, words he was afraid of to hear, so he took advantage of the silence: "I'm just so frustrated these days" feeling the need to explain himself, although nothing asked for an explanation.

Dan didn't ask because he didn't want to hear it. He knew exactly where this was heading- and he knew crystal clear there was no way to stop it. The inevitability of the topic hurt more than everything Phil said before. So Dan said nothing.

"Look, I'm sorry okay. I didn't mean to be mean to you. I just got a little carried away and I don't know, it's not that easy" 'I'm rambling' Phil realized. 'I apologized way too many times. I sound desperate'. Which, to be frank, was what he was. Phil felt truly desperate. For a talk. For a reaction. For the signs of feelings in Dan.

But Dan? Stayed silent. "I know I've made you upset, but what done is done. I brought a stranger back home and had sex with him. I can't change it" Phil caught a small glimpse of embarrassment rush over Dan's face. Phil knew how uneasy those topics made Dan. Behind all of these sarcastic comments and know- it-all attitude hid a very inexperienced and insecure young man. A feeling of guilt rushed over Phil.....until he remembered that he was angry. He had no need to justify his actions in front of Dan. They were over, Dan made them that way and he had no right to awake emotions of a cheating boyfriend in him. "But I'm not committed to you in any way. You're my best friend, nothing more, nothing less. You wanted it that way"

Dan felt tempted to dwell in self-pity, for it really had been his decision after all. He pretended tobe deaf while his heart tried desperately to reach him. But no chance. Dan Howell did not regret a thing he did (was a lie he liked to tell himself).
"Things would be easier if you talked to me" Of course, Dan stayed silent. "You're unbelievable" Phil sighed in frustration. "You can't run away from it forever." But Dan wasn't having that. He made the decision to avoid a confrontation as long as he could. The whole situation made him feel uneasy, for Phil never seemed to have the desire for talking about their relationship like he had on this morning. Phil on the other hand, did not have a good time either. The tension inside of his heart was almost unbearable. Annoyance settled in his mind, for the pace of this conversation was slow and just tiptoeing around the important issues.
"Why can't things be easy with you for fucking once?"

"You swore?!" The ravenhaired YouTuber let out a small sigh. "Really? This is the detail you've chosen to comment on?" he mumbled , taking another big sip of coffee. This talk would last longer than he wanted it to.

"It's just unusual", Dan defended himself. "You always try to avoid it for the sake of your audience. So it's strange to hear you dropping f-bombs"

"There is no audience here now, as far as I'm aware" He turned his head to look Dan directly into the eyes. "And I'm not speaking to you as AmazingPhil. I'm speaking to you as the very ordinary Phil Lester. I'm not as perfect as my online persona."

Phil's comment caught his best friend off guard, for he had always troubles with the distinction between these two personalities. He, for his part, liked danisnotonfire so much better than Dan Howell, for danisnotonfire knew how to act like he was the greatest and brush everything off with a sarcastic comment. Dansinotonfire could tell AmazingPhil he was being stupid or silly. Dan Howell knew the opposite was true. In reality, Phil Lester was the smart and confident one, while Dan Howell just sort of tagged along. Dan bit down on his lower lip, as he tried to hide the effects Phil's words had on him. He couldn't let his facade crumble. But he couldn't lie to his own heart (he tried long enough to be sure about that). To hell with all the excuses, in all honesty: He had been scared. More scared than anything. All these desires to"be his own person" he had four years ago were nothing more than a weak cover-up; Dan now realized. He had been fucking scared all along. Scared of the future, scared of never being enough for Phil, scared to fail like he failed countless times before. And in all honesty, he still was scared of these things.

"That was one of your problems with us I guess... You fell in love with AmazingPhil and broke up with Phil Lester", Phil interrupted. Dan looked at him, almost startled, not even bothering to gain his composure back. It was no use. Phil could tell when he was lying. Instead, he settled for the truth.

"Stop, please...I can't...." "No" "Phil, please"

"No, Dan. I'm not stopping" Phil raised his voice a bit, because, fuck it all, his quiet containment flew out of the window. He had to address this topic (sober for once) and it was the perfect opportunity. He might as well go the whole way. There was enough room for regret and self-loathing afterwards. Right now, holding it back was the equivalent of making his heart explode. "I want to talk about us, you can't pretend we were never a thing. You can't tell me that you love me and two years later break up with me out of the blue. That's not how I deserve to be treated, Dan. And I've put up with this shit for four years" Phil stared Dan hard in the eyes and hoped his gaze was more steady than he felt inside.

There were various options how Dan could have reacted. How Dan wanted himself to react. Confident. Sassy. Defensive. Yet, he always seemed to go for the wrong option.

"No one pressured you to stay"

The sentence hung in the air without further comment for a second. Phil felt his jaw drop as he tried to comprehend the statement that just left Dan's lips. In all honesty, Dan was sort of correct. But still. Couldn't he be not as blunt as he was? Be considerate of Phil's feelings? All of Phil's stupid hopes shrunk to a little ball in his chest, while his stomach dropped with the cold realization that Dan just failed to understand the significance of the situation. Dan's thoughts on the other hand were racing.

"I don't mean it like that...just if you say you were unhappy misunderstand...", he mumbled anxiously. Phil took a shaky breath. When he spoke again, all warmth was drained from his voice.

"No, Dan. I perfectly understand you. You are right. All these....years I've spent here with you, by your side....all of these worries of my family if it's healthy to live with your ex for so long...all the lies I told them that I am okay" It was a tone Dan had never heard Phil speaking in before. It almost terrified him more than Phil's words. "But you're right, nothing was holding me back all these years. Except for my silly sentiment for a person who cares more about himself than me"

Dan let his head dangle in guilt. Of course Phil was right, Phil was always right. He had been a selfish asshole. Although he saw what he put Phil through, he chooses to stay in his comfortable zone made out of cowardice. "Phil..."

"It's time to move on, don't you think?" A cold panic gripped Dan when he suddenly realized what Phil was hinting to. Phil stood up, although the heaviness of his heart treated to drag him to the ground. He didn't want it to come this far. But it was the only thing he could do. There was no way Dan could still love him. So Phil had to learn to not love him. Somehow Phil's brain formed that the notion that Dan used him for YouTube fame, that everything was just a show to gain views, no real feeling went into it. In retro perspective, he never had guessed that in this ordinary morning everything turned upside down.

But here he was, with a heart that was hurting, with a head that was hurting, and the bite mark from a whatshisname that was hurting. Phil was a patient soul. But even he had his limits. Suddenly, just being near Dan made breathing impossible. He gathered up his strength for, his next words

"I will do something now which I should have done four years ago. I'm moving out"

"WHAT?!" Dan leaped to his feet and hurried after Phil, who was about to go into his room to pack his things.

"Wait!", Dan tried to get a hold of Phil's arm, but the other just brushed him off. "You're not leaving now! We're going on tour in less than a week, you can't go!" Dan tried to argue with Phil's common sense, while he blocked the door to Phil's room. Of course, Dan had a point. But Phil found himself in a emotional trance, where he just couldn't care about these things any more. All he could think about how his heart was broken over and over again.

"Move out of my way"

"No, I won't let you go!" Phil proceeded to shove Dan aside, but the other wasn't having that, feeling a rush of adrenaline in his veins when he was confronted with the danger of loosing Phil. How stupid he had been! There was nothing left if Phil was gone: This flat wasn't a home, his channel wasn't a dream and he wasn't the person he wanted to be. He needed Phil more than he liked to admit. His emotions hit him with full force, oh how much he stil felt for the other. Phil couldn't go. Phil was all he needed.

"I need you" Dan grabbed his friend by the shoulders and held him in a firm grip. "Don't leave me, please" Phil wanted to melt into Dan's arms. He wanted to tell him he was forgiven. Just stay there. Pretend it never happened. But he couldn't.

"All you think about is the tour and all you care about his you. You're selfish. Have you ever asked yourself 'How does Phil feel about this?' Of course not. So stop pretending that you still feel something for me, just to make me stay" The coffee mug in his hand started to shiver, as Phil lost the cold veil covering his features. Furiously, he tried to wiggle free. "Let me go! I can't stay!"

All this wiggling caused the coffee mug to slop over and empty half of its content onto Phil's face, the other on Dan's shirt before it shattered with a loud "BANG" to their feet. It was a sort of comic relief....if only everything wasn't going to shreds just now. A last attempt to find humour in a tragedy.

The warm wetness on his face brought Phil back to reality. Out of his emotional trance. With full force he realized what he had done. What he had said. How he had acted. First there was the shame (he let himself go and acted stupid), second there was the anger (this wasn't like him) and third there was the fear (oh god...he said he wanted to leave....did he have to leave now...? Did Dan want him to leave? Did he actually want to leave? What about the tour? Oh god, what about their channels?).

As Phil stood there thunderstruck, Dan quickly hurried to gather up the shards, while cursing Phil's clumsiness.

"C'mon", Dan tugged Phil's sleeve to lead him to the sofa. "Over here. Be careful, okay? I don't want you to slice your foot open by accident" Still lost in self-loathing thoughts, Phil let himself be guided to the sofa without protest.

Once he was seated, Dan hurried in the kitchen to get a cloth. He sat in front of Phil and proceeded to clean his friends face. "You're so clumsy", he mumbled softly, while he brushed the wet fabric over Phil's soft features to clean up all the mess the coffee had made.
In all honesty, Phil didn't understand Dan. He had all right to be angry with Phil, or upset or...anything, yet all he did was clean Phil's glasses. He would never understand this guy, Phil decided.

"I'm sorry. For everything  I've said. And for staining your shirt"

"Don't worry about it. Just don't leave.....please" Dan let out a sigh. Now it was his chance to show character. To convey all the feelings he re-discovered in the split-second possibility of loosing Phil forever. It never had been a real threat. But now that it had been....all the emotions he denied raced back into his awareness. Phil was important to him. Phil was the person he didn't want to lose. Phil was the person he still.... "I should be the one to say sorry. I hurt you, Phil. That's something unforgivable. But believe it or're still important to me" Dan stated matter of factly, while he placed Phil's glasses back on his face. Without thinking about it, he left his hand linger and brushed a strand of raven black hair behind Phil's ear. It still felt exactly the same. Still soft. Still warm. Still Phil.

"You have a shitty way of showing your affection" Dan gave Phil a look."Did you just make a joke?", he asked, smirking a little. Phil shrugged sheepishly.

"In all honesty tho....I'm really sorry. I have been an asshole to you. To you, of all the people. You're my best friend, you're my shoulder to cry on, you're the most wonderful person I know. And all I do is hurt you out of selfishness. I know an apology won't make it okay again but-" "It's a start"

"Exactly...Phil look I know it's lame but I just sort of suppressed thinking about it..but when I heard you with that guy....something broke, you know?"

They didn't say anything for a while, both quite occupied with their racing emotions. Phil could feel Dan's touch on his skin, and couldn't deny how much he missed it, how less he was over it and just how much he still felt for Dan.

"Why did you break up with me? Did you not love me any more? Is it my fault?" Phil heard himself whisper, very quietly. There was not much left of the confident air that surrounded him minutes ago. In all honesty he didn't feel confident at all. He just wanted to know. He just felt confused and small and broken. Dan sighed. Phil had asked countless times before, just never sober. Dan had never given him an answer. Until now.

"It wasn't that I didn't love you any more. I...." Dan hesitated but decided it was time to lay everything on the line. "I was afraid, okay?" He let out a small breath and fled Phil's gaze. There was a small lead lifted off from his heavy heart. "And I still am, okay?" Dan felt warm fingers lift his chin and turn it softly, until he met Phil's intense blue eyes again. The eyes he fell in love with.

"What are you afraid of?"  "I...heck Phil I don't know. All of this" he gestured between them. "was so big, so grand, so serious, so much. It...I....I just...felt like...not being enough, you know? Not the thing you deserve, not the thing you need. Phil you were my first relationship.......I was...I am so scared of fucking things up. I felt like I should end it before you do"

"I wasn't aware we had an termination date"  "Who would stay forever with a fucked up person like me, Phil? It was only a matter of time until you realized it and left me. Everyone always leaves me. I thought ending it before you do would make it hurt less"

Phil made a small pained noise. "Well, didn't really work out as planned, now did it?" Dan chuckled unhappy. "I tried to stay away. I tried so hard to get myself to leave you. To show you....and me that I am not dependent on you, that I don't need you" He sighed, frustrated with his own rigged logic. His pride always took the biggest toll. How he wished he wouldn't be like this. Only an idiot like him could destroy a relationship with the most generous, kind-hearted soul on the planet. Only an idiot like him tried to make Phil go. Only an idiot like him could push this wonderful soul into snapping, and screaming, and fucking strangers. Dan forced himself to look Phil in the eyes and tried to communicate all the emotions rushing through his brain in his glance.

"And still, after four years I can't impress you. I just can't...You're the best thing about me." which was true. Dan didn't want to be his own person for his sake....but to show Phil. Still...he had nothing to show him. It had been a stupid idea and the worst decision in his life. Once he was aware of it, it was too late, he was in far too deep and all he was left to do was to lock away his heart and be an asshole. Just because he couldn't master the courage to be honest with himself and Phil. It somehow scared him how much in love he was with Phil. The feeling had been so precious, so tender, yet so vulnerable that he and his self-doubt managed to crash it. Yet still Dan felt like it was right there, it never left. That's why he couldn't leave. Why he didn't want Phil to leave. He couldn't lose this trace of the feeling they once shared.

During Dan's talking Phil moved closer to him, until their knees were almost touching. There it was. The feeling he always missed in Dan's voice. The emotion he longed to see. It seemed almost surreal to him that all of this nightmare was just a product of Dan's self-consciousness. All these years...because of this? Just because of this? Maybe he should have threatened with moving out much earlier. He let out a small sigh.

"When we first met , I immediately knew that you were my best friend. I felt a connection I never felt with anyone else before. became so much more than friendship" The ravenhaired Youtuber took Dan's face in his hands, cherishing the fact that he was again allowed to do it. "You made me fall so hard for you, do you realize that? I never felt so happy in my life. Having you as a boyfriend was all I could ever wish for" Dan let out a small noise, it felt more and more like these four years were a nightmare, like he was finally waking up. How the fuck could he have been so selfish? So utterly consumed with his doubts? So much of a coward, not realizing his mistakes? How could Phil.....

"Why are you still so nice to me? Why don't you hate me? I broke your heart"

"You did" Phil agreed. "But Dan-" Phil smiled a little because he felt Dan's heart rate through his temples and the warmth of his skin against his palms. "How could I hate you? I never stopped loving you" The words were out before Phil gauged whether the situation was ready for a confession of this extent. They were out and Phil just now felt like their effect. Quickly, he withdrew his hands from Dan's cheeks to cover his mouth (just in case anymore secret information wanted to slip out).

"Sorry" he mumbled between his fingers. "I didn't mean to let that spill" Phil's cheeks heated up in embarrassment. If only he knew that he misjudged Dan's sudden silence completely. A warm feeling spread in Dan's whole body when he heard the word "love" spoken in this deep, yet soft voice. Oh, how much he had missed it without being aware of it. How it tugged on his own tongueto say it as well....

"How can you still love me? After all of this. After all those years I've locked myself can you be sure you're not in love with the memory?"                                            "I can't. Maybe I am, who knows." He chuckled a little. "But it's not like I didn't spend time with you in the past four years. I've seen you change, Dan. I changed, too. But this" He pointed at his heart. "This never changed. I'm still so madly in love you, it's almost embarrassing, really" He bit his lip. "I never thought I got to say that again".

There was a small period of silence, either of the men too occupied to understand the situation they were in. And, almost more important, where this situation seemed to head to. Deciding it was his turn to set the path, Dan spoke up again: "You should have said it earlier, you know?" Dan took a careful look at Phil's face to watch his reaction to his rather bold and rather obvious statement. At this point, he himself didn't even know what he was saying. His brain kindly decided to take the rest of the day off, so his heart was left in full control over him, for the first time in four years. Phil looked at Dan with genuine surprise. He had expected a lot of reactions from Dan to the turn this conversation took, but he wasn't ready for Dan hinting to reciprocate his feelings. "Probably.", he stated, raising an eyebrow sceptical. "But I didn't see the use. You made it pretty clear you weren't interested anymore" Of course Phil was right. Phil was always right. Stupid "I am independent" Dan would have probably dismissed Phil's feelings. Because Dan knew how much of an ass he could be if he wanted to. And Phil, sadly, knew that too.

A new wave of guilt hit Dan right in the guts. Who was he, of all people, to be selfish enough to dump the person he literally owed his life to? If it wasn't for Phil, he'd probably be a sad lawyer with a wife he wasn't in love with.
"Everything got sort of lost between channels and everyday life and my doubts and....and I made a mistake. And I was too much of a coward to correct it, I thought it would make things easier but in reality everything got so much worse" Dan tried to steady his voice so Phil wouldn't notice that he was about to slip into the black void of self-pity again. "My biggest you and I played with it just to feed my self-doubt.....I .... "

"I want to kiss you" Dan looked at Phil for a moment, doubting his ears. Now, that came out of nowhere. How could Phil think about something like that in such a moment? How could he...not scream at him like he did before? Why didn't he hate Dan they way Dan hated himself?

"But" Phil quickly added, in a weak attempt to somehow save all of this, because seriously he was getting out of hand. He blamed it on being so close to Dan for so long. He smelled the other's cologne mixed with the strong smell of Dan's body and a strong desire for his ex-boyfriend turned his brain into mush. He tried to stay focused, which was hard, tried to not imagine if Dan's lips still tasted kind of sweet, tried to not imagine what it was like to bury his hands into the curly ends of Dan's hair, not to....' Seriously, Lester, stop. That's pathetic' he scolded himself mentally. 'Are you really that frustrated ?'

"I'm scared" , Phil tried to hide the embarrassing longing tone that sneaked into his voice. Yes, he was scared. It was impossible not to be. He had dreamed about it for so long, yet he couldn't help but doubt the sincerity of this moment. Was Dan really feeling the same? Or did he just feel sorry for him? At this point, Phil couldn't tell any more. But God, how he wanted to kiss him. Dan shifted his legs a little, so their knees where comfortably touching. He leaned forward a little and traced the outlines of the love bite on Phil's neck with an unreadable expression. Phil tried to stay calm, but shuddered a little at the intimate contact.

"Do it", Dan murmured, hardly above a whisper. He didn't look at Phil and instead focused the mark another guy left on the person who was in love with him. It made him angry. It should have been his mark. Phil had been his. And he was Phil's. That's how it should be, right? That's what he wanted, right? Dan took a small shaky breath, closed his eyes and took a second longer to consider his feelings, before he replied 'right'. It was a crazy, unpredictable turn of events, but he couldn't shake the feeling off himself that he was still in love with Phil, too. It had been nagging on him ever since he had broken up with him- all these years subtle, but now strong and clear. 'Yes' he assured himself in his mind 'This is what I want'. It was the strongest and most sincere emotion he had felt in the past four years. If this wasn't real, nothing was. He leaned forward, feeling suddenly very determined to claim Phil to be his again. Seriously, he wanted Phil, Phil wanted him- there was nothing between them that should hold them back. Not any more. Dan had learned his lesson.

Phil sensed the direction of the sudden movement, but managed to hold Dan by the shoulders and keep him at arm length away from him. "Wait", he breathed, his own excitement almost crumbling his restraint. The younger man gave him a look, and it took all of Phil's self-control not to jump on him right then and there. "Dan, are you sure you want this?" Phil searched Dan's gaze and pressed his lips in a thin line. He meant business. "I don't want to be a one time thing. I don't want to be a 'the last kiss was nice but let's rather stay friends'. I don't want to be a distraction because you currently don't have a girl to keep you occupied" It kind of hurt Dan that Phil think him capable of  treating him as a distraction, But then again, he treated him like crap for the past four years, so it was fair enough. That's what you get if you fuck up. You need to fix it. "Phil-" "I'm.." Phil started again, suddenly really feeling the need to say more. It hurt him that Dan went out with girls so often. The amount of girlfriends he had had almost mocked him. Sure, he had looked at others, too. He tried at least. But he couldn't keep his mind off Dan. So it was kind of hard to believe that Dan now wanted him again, for he had had so many other partners. "I'm not an option, I'm a choice"

Dan didn't say anything at first, he just, very gently, placed his hands above Phil's trembling ones on his shoulders and guided them down carefully, until they rested on his hips. "I broke up with my girlfriends because I searched for something to replace you. But you can't be replaced. All I ever looked for in them...was you" Dan spoke in a soft, soothing voice and never broke eye contact with his best friend. He really meant it. He wanted Phil to see that he was not lying. The Phil in question paled momentarily before he went totally red. He let out a strange noise and Dan feared for a split of a second that he was about to have a mental breakdown. Carefully, he placed one arm over Phil's shoulder so his hand could rest on the other's neck, while the other hand palmed Phil's reddened cheek. Unconsciously, Phil nuzzled into the soft touch eagerly, hands still violently gripping Dan's T-shirt. "Please don't play with me", he managed to whisper.


"Oh Phil" Dan, once again aware of how much of an asshole he had been, locked Phil's body in a breathtaking hug.. "I'm so sorry for hurting you like that" he whispered into the crook of Phil's neck. He felt Phil shudder when his warm morning breath made contact with the exposed skin on his neck. While keeping his arms wrapped closely around his friend' body, Dan started in the distance, right out of the window. It was raining. Had it been raining all morning? It had been raining, too, on the damn Monday morning where he decided to break the heart of the gorgeous man in his arms. 'You were such a fool, Dan. Now's the time to make a right decision for a change'. Dan let his eyes wander over the wall of their flat, hearing only the soft dabs of rain on the roof and Phil's breathing, while he gave his friend all the time he needed. The morning has been a lot for both of them. Morning? Dan glanced at the clock to find out it was almost two in the afternoon. They had been quarreling and confession feelings for almost two hours. Absented-mindedly, Dan started to caress Phil's hair with soft motions. It was kind of strange. The last time they had been this close, he had been significantly smaller than Phil, completely disappearing in Phil's bear hugs. Now he was the one who held the other like a blanket, while Phil's body fit perfectly against his chest. They had changed so much, Dan realized. It was like the weight of the world had taken its toll on both of them. He grew paler himself, and much more thoughtful. Dark circles marked too many sleepless nights and the heavy weight of guilt seemed to cloud over his eyes on most occasions. Phil had grown thinner, he realized. His hips, tho still more prominent than most men's, lost some of their curvy volume. Small wrinkles around the blue eyes indicated lost of laughter, while the deep crease forming on Phil's forehead whenever he seemed lost in thought indicated even greater sorrow. Phil became strangely quiet when they were alone and no words were shed. Almost as if it was too awkward to talk, although they used to talk through whole nights and weren't tired of it in the morning. Lately, although the tour was around the corner, both of them felt this distance between them, gaping like an ugly dark abyss. But now, when he held Phil in his arms, his Phil, Dan felt young again. The weight of the world lifted itself off his chest. He felt, for the first time in four years, at ease with himself. All the useless weight on his soul tumbled to his feet, into plain sight, begging to be addressed.

"I missed you so much" he whispered, his voice chocked up with an emotion he had suppressed for so long. "Shit, how could I be so fucking stupid? Pushing you away was the most fucked mistake I ever made in my entire life" his grip tightened around Phil's body, afraid the other would disappear and leave him alone. "I'm the most awful human on earth. I don't deserve your forgiveness, Phil. I don't even deserve your presence. Yet-" he sniffled a little, unable to contain the emotions drowning his words. "You're here. After four fucking years. Jesus, Phil, four years! And you tell me that you still love me, against all the godforsaken odds. And your voice is still so loving, and your hugs still feel like home and I'm....I'm sorry"

Dan sniffled again, disgusted by the pathetic, ugly tone his voice held. All the air of determination around this situation disappeared. Instead, he felt the suppressed feelings rain on him. He couldn't let himself ruin this tender moment by crying like a fucking baby. He let go of Phil and rubbed his eyes, disgusted that he felt a certain wetness against his skin. Phil watched the younger man with knowing, soft eyes. He gained his own composure back. He was glad he could share all these emotions openly. He was glad they finally managed to talk about it. He was glad they finally felt it. His breathing calmed down again (he might have been very close to a little break down before, but decided it was certainly not the right time for that). His desire for Dan calmed a little, turned into a little throbbing in the background while he could feel nothing but love for this strange, broken, beautiful figure in front of him. He rarely saw Dan like this. This moment when he was raw, and exposed, and insanely vulnerable.

He reached out and held Dan's hands, so he would stop rubbing his eyes so frantically. He somehow knew it would come down to this. Dan's actions were too fast before. He grew suspicious. He knew Dan better than this. Whenever the other was quick to jump into action, especially an action that required a lot of emotional effort, he hid something. Usually it was deep anxiety and hurt. In this case, a guilt so intense it almost threatened to break Dan's heart now that he had the courage to address it, overclouded everything. "Dan, look at me"

"I'm sorry, this is all so overwhelming" the younger man apologized when Phil could see the redness of the corners of his eyes.

"Don't be sorry for feeling" Phil spoke, a light tremble at the end indication that he was touched by the intensity of Dan's emotion. He coaxed Dan's trembling, obnoxiously lanky body into his arms.

"Don't" Dan started, trying to push Phil off, so he could be the dominant force in the hug again. "You're the one who was hurt. It's my fault. I should be the one consoling you, not the other way around" He struggled, but forgot how strong Phil was. His friend just held him, soft but steady, until his struggles died down and he allowed himself to sink against the safety of Phil's touch. "You didn't just hurt me, Dan. You hurt yourself about as much" Phil mumbled, while he rubbed Dan's back in small circles and pressed a hesitated kiss on Dan's hairline. "We both said some things we shouldn't have said" He sighed, now fully back in his role as the older, more mature one of them. He let out his emotions, which was reliving, but now it was time to get his head back into the situation. The last time he let his emotions lead him into decisions, he brought an Irish whatshisname home. In retrospection, he should be thankful for the one-night stand. "We both did some things we shouldn't have done. But, it's okay now."

"But...four years...." the older man sighed softly. "What does it matter?" he mumbled low. "Dan, you are here. I am here. You know that I still love you. You still have feelings for me" It was risky to suspect Dan was still in love with him. But after all that Dan had said (and words always held a lot of meaning for Phil), Phil felt it was wrong to doubt it. "This situation shouldn't be as difficult as we make it" Dan lifted his head a little, from his soft hiding spot against the fabric of Phil's t-shirt, to look at his best friend through wet eyes. Phil tried his best to give him the most genuine smile he could muster. He really wanted this to work out again. His heart told him that it was the right thing to forgive Dan. To be with Dan again. Sure, he had been a stupid prick....but everybody made mistakes. Phil himself made quite a few of them when he was Dan's age, small little ones but too many to count. He somehow managed to hurt the people around him with his reckless behaviour, too. And he still remembered how important it was to him that the loved ones he hurt forgave him for his foolishness. And his heart was more than ready to finally forgive Dan and leave this dark chapter in their relationship behind. He was ready to start anew....and he couldn't help but feel that Dan was, too. Said Dan looked at him, a little dumbfounded.

"What do you mean?" Phil rolled his eyes at Dan's sudden daftness, and pulled him into the first kiss they shared in four years. Phil was thrown back instantly to a simpler time. A time when there was just him and Dan in the world, where there was nothing but their love for each other, and life was simple yet wonderful. He remembered all the little laughs, smiles, kisses, and intimate moments they shared. His heart suddenly felt warm, and he gripped Dan's hips as a reflex to pull the other even closer to him. The moment their lips touched, Dan's mind went blank. All he could do was feel. The softness of Phil's lips. The pressure of Phil's hands on his sensitive hips. His own heartbeat, warm and heavy in his ears. The shudder of Phil's breath when he pulled away some inches. The wetness Phil's touch left on his own lips. He ran his tongue over his upper lip to relish the taste. A desire, stronger than any desire he felt since the breakup, gripped his body and send a delicious shiver up his spine. A small noise escaped his lips. Pictures  flooded his mind, pictures he guiltily masturbated to the night before. Suddenly, he didn't feel so guilty for them, after all. Phil bit his lower lip, finally giving in his own desires. His eyes flickered down to Dan's plum, kissable lips, over his heavily raising and falling chest, down to the growing bulge tenting the black jeans. A low, throaty sound escaped Phil's lips. Dan shuddered, not realizing how turned on he was by the kiss until he heard Phil make that sound.

They stared at each other for the split of a second, before something clicked. Maybe it was the way their breaths mingled on their lips. Or the dilated pupils of Phil turning his eyes a rich navy. Or the  musky smell, indicating Dan's growing arousal. Their lips crashed together again, this time working against each other hungrily. Phil ran his tongue against Dan's closed lips, begging for entrance. With a small moan, Dan let him slip his tongue in his mouth, allowing him to massage it with his own. Although he knew very well how Phil kissed, it still took his breath away. He was amazed how something that was so familiar could excite him so much. He tugged at Phil's shirt, eager to remove the bothersome fabric preventing skin contact. His friend got the hint immediately, throwing the t-shirt over his head, before tugging Dan's along as well. He took a moment to tower above his Dan, who's back now pressed against the soft surface of the sofa and who had that kind of look in his eyes that made Phil fall in love with him even more. He let his eyes linger on the body he adored and wanted to touch. When his gaze flickered over Dan's face, he suddenly realized that he had been doing the same thing. He realized how desire made the usually cappuccino of Dan's iris a strong espresso. Just watching Dan watch him and biting his lower lip in an unbelievable sexy way turned him on massively. Aware of being watched, Dan made quick eye contact with Phil and smiled sheepishly, trying to hide the blush on his cheeks. Phil smiled back, a rush of shyness overcoming him.

Sure, they had done this before. was a completely new experience. Different. Significant. Exciting. The realization that it wouldn't be the last time they could be sharing these things again made Phil smile and shudder a little, his joy completely overwhelming him. Determined to make their "second first time" the best possible experience for both of them, he decided to take it slow. So he cupped Dan's face lovingly and plastered a kiss on his left cheek, on his nose, his right check, and finally, another peck on those kissable lips. Dan snatched his arms around Phil's bare waist and pulled him closer, making their bare chests touch lightly. He shuddered a bit when his cold body made contact with the warmth radiation from Phil's skin.

"I can't believe we're really doing this", he mumbled, voice heavy with wonder and arousal.

"Hush" Phil breathed heavy into his sensitive neck. "Don't speak now."

And he didn't. Neither of them did; and for most of the afternoon the sound of muffled sighs and soft moans was the only conversation both of them needed. The first words were exchanged when the sun hung low in the sky, sweet words of newfound lovers, carrying an emotion neither of them thought was still possible between them. For the first time in four years, genuine, pure happiness sneaked back into their hearts and decided to make a home there.

Words, don't come easy to me
How can I find a way to make you see: I Love You
Words don't come easy