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you're the choice i keep on making

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2011 02 14

"Hey Dan... Happy Valentine's Day! The only time of the year we allow ourselves to be insanely cheesy and unashamed of it" Phil smiles to the camera. "Well, maybe just a bit. And since the video I made you last year made you so happy, I thought that it would only be fair to do it again"

Another year, another video to make Dan smile like an absolute fool. His head was spinning, his cheeks were bright pink and radiating warmth. Even his stomach was fluttering with butterflies that seemed to be going completely wild.

Dan was insanely happy to spend his time with Phil on Valentine's Day this time after being lonely and miserable in India the year before. The internet there barely worked, so they couldn't skype and message as usual. Dan was missing his boyfriend like crazy and having to spend so much time with his family was quite exhausting. He loved them dearly but they weren’t the people he needed at the moment.

Dan tried to immerse himself in the suggested activities as much as possible. He was in India, of all places, and had to do something to finally stop moping around. Though after some time passed, he felt stupid for even thinking that the excitement of watching elephants could ever compare to seeing a certain black haired beauty.

When he got a message from Phil, a bit late due to the time difference, including only a youtube link and a heart emoticon, he felt the happiest he'd been throughout the entire trip. It took forever to finish loading because of the awfully slow internet connection but he waited patiently, completely sure every single second would be worth it. He felt tears prickling at the corners of his eyes as soon as a familiar face popped up on the screen of his laptop. That night he went to sleep with a content smile on his face, his dreams as sweet as the boy on his mind.

And now, as they were spending the entire day hanging out in Phil's apartment he could not be happier. The fact that it was a Monday didn't even matter. Dan was more than happy to skip some lectures and spend extra time with Phil instead. After a dinner that included Chinese takeaway and a bottle of red wine, they decided to spend the rest of the evening marathoning Buffy ("Hey, it's romantic!" Phil argued). Dan didn't care much for what was playing on the TV screen, he happily curled under a duvet and pressed up to Phil's side, enjoying the warmth and still refusing to believe this could all be true. When they were halfway through episode 3, Phil turned to face Dan.

"You know, actually I have something for you" Phil murmured quietly, his fingers messing with Dan’s hair that had curled slightly as the night was approaching.

"I thought we agreed to not buying any gifts"

Phil bit his lip. "I didn't buy anything. I- I just thought about last year, how when we couldn't spend Valentine's together, I made you that video... and you were so happy, I wanted to make you another one"

"I love you" Dan grinned and kissed Phil softly. He was on cloud nine and planning to never come back down.

2012 02 14

"Happy Valentine's Day, Dan! I really wanted to continue this little tradition of ours because I don't ever want to pass up the opportunity to shower you in cheesy compliments. I know my original plan kind of backfired..." Phil rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled nervously "but I see how much it means to you and I think you need one of these videos now more than ever. I love you so much and want to make sure you know you deserve the world"

Dan couldn't stop the salty tears escaping his eyes. Phil Lester was surely one of a kind.

It had only been a few months since Youtube glitched and unprivated the video but Phil was sure he didn't want to stop the tradition. It did take some time for the doubts and fears to stop attacking his brain but he was sure it would be worth it in the end. Those videos made Dan happy and that was all that mattered, he'd only have to be more careful this time.

That's why this time after he finished editing his gift to Dan, he did not upload it on the side channel and instead saved it on a remote folder on his computer, wanting to keep whatever was left of their relationship safe in case of some other random glitch. He was furious at first, that something like that could happen, sure, but life goes on and he hoped it would all be forgotten soon. Not many people had seen the video of Phil pouring his heart out on camera before it was taken down and it would hopefully stay that way.

The video really was worth it. Dan couldn't keep a smile off his face when he entered the lounge, where Phil was waiting after leaving a note on Dan's desk to check a particular folder on his computer for a little surprise. The rosy patch on his cheek was brighter and dimples deeper than they'd been the past couple of months. Phil couldn’t resist pulling him down on the sofa and connecting their lips together in a soft, trusting kiss.

2013 02 14

Dan made some green curry chicken for dinner but most of it ended up in the fridge to be eaten some other time when they don’t feel sick after looking at the calendar. Anxiety was twisting low in their stomachs, ready to come out at any given moment in the form of everything wrong there could be said. And now, as they were sitting across each other, watching a film in silence, neither knew how to express the want of the other closer, for things to go back as they were.

The day, originally one to express their love, now only brought anxiety and bittersweet memories. After the original video resurfaced and started spreading wildly, Valentine's day felt like a reminder of their non-existent privacy and past mistakes. No matter how hard they worked to track down every copy of the video, it was all in vain. Whenever one was taken down, several new ones seemed to pop up. It was a wild forest fire slowly taking over their lives and destroying everything in its path.

The tension between them was thick enough to cut with a knife the past couple of months. Raised voices, unsettling silences, silent tears and avoiding eye contact - they weren't prepared to deal with this kind of situation. They’ve had occasional arguments before, of course, living together is never just sunshine and rainbows, but they weren’t even sure what to call whatever it was between them at the moment. Not exactly a fight but most definitely not a state of peace.

Finding ways to cope with the stress of their secrets being out in the world, for everyone to know seemed impossible. Dan didn’t know how to let his frustration out, so he tried doing everything he could think of, not caring much for the consequences. He cursed YouTube, overly obsessive fans and every god there was out there for this mistake.

Phil was one for silent treatment. And that broke Dan’s heart. All he wished was for Phil to come back to his usual bright bubbly self, for his expression to turn from stone cold to the relaxed smile that reached his eyes. The one, that would usually grace his lips before it all happened.

They never really talked about it, always tip-toeing around the subject but never brave enough to bring it up. It brought a lot more quiet in their lives than they expected. Trying to maintain whatever remnants there were of their relationship was a challenge neither felt strong enough to take on. But one day, once the wildfire slows down, they will figure it out. Figure out how to glue their lives back, how to fill the awkward silences, how to let themselves love and be loved again. But it isn’t the time just yet.

The TV screen turned black for a second and the credits started rolling. Phil got up from the sofa and switched it off.

“Bed?”

“I guess, it’s getting quite late”

It wasn’t. The clock on his phone was showing 11:07 and Dan was sure he’ll be spending the next few hours tossing in his bed and trying to turn his brain off.

They walked down the hallway towards two identical white doors. Dan pretended his heart wasn’t breaking all over again when Phil turned to his own bedroom and offered him a small smile before closing the door.

2018 02 14

Time does heal wounds. It’s a slow and painful process, one without a catalyst to speed it up. Empty silences started to be replaced by the dearly missed comfortable ones. They started talking. Their conversations slowly shifted from whatever work or household related topics to some more personal and emotional. Some of the particularly emotional late night conversations resulted in tears that slowly worked to wash away the pain. Admitting their individual faults wasn’t easy but the need to have each other again won over pride. It was a difficult growing and learning experience but they got through it together.

As years passed, they started feeling more and more comfortable in their relationship and started slowly lowering their boundaries on camera. They found joy in producing more authentic content and their audience seemed glad about that as well.

Valentine’s day became just another date on the calendar, a commercial holiday without much meaning, just some distant memories. Most importantly, now they had and loved each other every single day of the year.

Dan got tired of it. He got tired of pretending Valentine’s was just another day of the year. It brought him so much happiness back in the day and he didn’t want to let that go. It was time to give back to Phil for making Dan the happiest man alive every Valentine’s day the first few years of their relationship.

It was a long time coming. The plan had been spinning in Dan’s head for years now but he never felt ready enough to complete it. He kept finding different excuses about how it wasn’t the time just yet.

And now, as he was cursing himself for being so cliché, he never felt more sure about it. He entered the kitchen where Phil was already serving dinner.

“Hey, Phil, could you watch through my new video? it’s saved on the desktop” Dan turned to take cutlery from one of the drawers.

“Sure, I can do that after dinner” Phil smiled back at him as he brought both of the plates to the dining table.

Dinner was uneventful, just some casual chatter and a bit of moaning after trying the pasta from Dan’s side. It was perfectly familiar and comfortable. Phil did not notice anything odd about the situation and Dan was incredibly glad about it. The butterflies in his stomach were taking off and beginning to flutter around like crazy.

When Phil left for the office, Dan started pacing around the lounge nervously. The floorboards quietly creaked under his feet as he walked from the sofa to the window, reminding him that it wasn’t just another dream.

Meanwhile, Phil was searching for the video he was supposed to watch through on the computer’s desktop. He finally located a file called “to phil” on the upper right corner. He clicked on it, as was the only video file on there. He guessed it must be that, though unusually named.

“Hi, Phil, happy Valentine’s day! I guess this isn’t what you were expecting. Well, this is definitely not a video that i need you to watch through for editing mistakes..” Dan smiled at the camera sheepishly.

Phil couldn’t believe his eyes. Or ears for that matter.

“I wanted to make you something similar to the Valentine’s day videos you used to make when we were younger. It’s something I have been planning for a really long time now. You are the most important person in my life. You’re the one who’s been listening to me, caring for me, loving me and all around, making me the happiest man alive for the past eight years. I want you to know how much you mean to me and remember that everyday.”

Phil bit his bottom lip that was slightly quivering. He definitely wasn’t expecting this tonight.

“It’s been a rocky road to where we are now but we got through it and now we’re stronger than ever before. We make the perfect team and that is what makes me sure I don’t ever want to leave your side. All of my best memories were made with you and they will always win over the bitter ones. You’re the one I’ll always choose, no matter what happens.”

Phil felt tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

“And that brings me to what I wanted to say. Phil Lester, I love how caring you are and how heartless you can be, I love how goddamn gorgeous you look in literally everything - and nothing as well” Dan looked down and chuckled softly.“ I love how I don’t care how annoying you can be when you hog all of the covers or finish the last of my cereal and I love how I can truly be myself around you and never feel the need to pretend to be something I am not”

Phil was laughing through the tears, looking around the room to find some tissues. Dan really was something else.

“And I know that you think marriage is just a piece of paper but you’re the only one I’d ever want to share it with. So here I am, at my cheesiest and most vulnerable, asking you to sign that useless piece of paper with me and maybe we can find some meaning in that or just become one of those old couples that spend the rest of their lives bickering over everything”

Phil got up from the chair and bolted towards the lounge where he was hoping to find Dan. The boy was standing near the window and turned around as soon as he heard Phil coming, fidgeting with his fingers nervously.

“Phil… I-”

“Just shut up for a second” Phil dashed across the room and grabbed his face pulling him into a passionate kiss. Their teeth clashed from the sudden movement but didn’t slow down the kiss. When Dan finally released Phil’s bottom lip, both of them were dizzy from the lack of oxygen.

“So… What do you think?” Dan asked after he finally felt conscious enough to speak.

“Well, I’m gonna be honest, you did take me by surprise. But everything you said was so beautiful and I couldn’t stop smiling like an idiot”

“D-does that mean...yes?”

“Of course yes, you spork! You’re the only one I could ever imagine finding purpose in marriage with” Phil laughed and wrapped his arms around Dan in a tight hug. “Never thought you’d propose on Valentine’s though, isn’t that too cliché for you?”

“Definitely. But I wouldn’t have it any other way” Phil pulled away from the hug and rolled his eyes at Dan.

“You would”

“Yeah, we can just think of some backup engagement story to tell other people”

“Deal”.