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make me proud

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The seats were a bit cramped in but they shuffled in their seats to get comfortable. The music that played around them was getting softer and as the lights turned off and all the screams from the hundreds of people, mostly young girls, sat around them gave them goose bumps. They jumped a little too, looking to each other before laughing a little.

"Does it feel nice to know it's not for you?" Lance asks, face turned to Tom's ear.

Tom just rolls his eyes and reaches over to shove at Lance's arm. "Stop it. The show is starting."

The lights went up quickly to the stage and they appeared from either side of the stage.

"Hi guys!" They said in unison and the entire theater erupted in screams and waves while the two men sat in silence, grinning and laughing to themselves, sharing the same concerned glances.

Two weeks ago, Tom had received a letter in the post addressed to both him and Lance. It wasn't marked, so they were somewhat wary to open it but upon opening the letter, it was a glossy black piece of paper with red and white lettering written across it.

'Mr. Black and Mr. Daley' read the top of the card and as they went down, they read over the letter.

'You are invited to a night of interacting with two introverted guys while laughing awkwardly at horrible jokes and at the rare occasion that Phil will swear. You will see this show first row in the balcony where you have the most gorgeous view of Dan's receding hairline and will be free of the splash zone (Don't ask what).

We hope to see you both there!'

At the very bottom, it was signed personally by them as some of the ink in Phil's name had smudged.

Tucked into the very bottom of the folded paper were two tickets printed for them with a number to call and RSVP if they were coming. Tom smiled at the two tickets before turning himself around. He made it up the steps, two at a time to see Lance sitting in the second floor office area.

"Look what we got!" Tom said, coming closer. The older man glanced over from his laptop and then lowered his glasses along his nose to see the piece of paper Tom was holding out.
"Dan and Phil invited us to their show, how sweet is that!" Tom exclaimed wile Lance looked over the letter, reading it to himself. He glanced up after reading it, a puzzled look to his face.

"What do you wear to a show with YouTubers? Don't people usually watch in their pajamas?"

Tom huffed out before grabbing back at the letter. "You're ridiculous."

Now, sitting and watching this live show, they're really glad they moved things around.

Lance was going to attend a dinner, not super important, with some colleagues to talk about boring things while Tom was going to sit alone but they decided to support their new friends. Besides, there was going to be alcohol wherever Lance went so that was a bonus.

The letter told them about the bad jokes, but they weren't all that bad. Tom got a lot of them, giggling and enjoying the show and then turned to explain what he could to Lance. Lance just laughed when Tom did and then actually laughed when Tom told him to stop being dumb and would push at his arm or his cheek when he leaned in. It was like going to a comedy show for like, teenagers. But it was fun, and the genuinely saw why their friends were liked and adored all around the world.

Dan had a charming but bad-boy-not-really theme with him. He cussed but wouldn't in front of your grandma. He'd instead help her across the street then go listen to death metal. They could see while people looked up to him as well, with his openness about his mental health and his ability to portray his life in a comedic fashion so others who suffer could laugh too.
Tom looked up that video a couple days after they talked for a second time and watching it, he had already understood a lot about Dan and his story, and in only for knowing him for a couple of days, he was really proud of Dan.

Phil wasn't all that different. He put on the same charm. Instead of helping your grandpa, he IS your grandpa with wise words and funny stories that are only funny because he's telling them.
Phil is older, not that old, but old enough to know more than some people. He has been through things. He gets the world but the world doesn't really get him, and he doesn't mind that. He knows more than he puts on, and both Tom and Lance can see that, they can see past the personalities, mostly because they know them outside of YouTube, but it all makes sense to them, sitting in the balcony at Interactive Introverts.

Lance turns to Tom near the end of the show and smiles at him before whispering. "You good? You look lost. If you're lost, then I'm completely gone."

Tom just shakes his head a little. "No, just thinking. I think I get all of this." Tom points and moves his finger around in a circle towards the stage. "I get it, y'know?"

Lance just nods. He knows he shouldn't be talking. He would hate if some losers up in the balcony were talking when he was trying to talk.

The show ends with a loud roar of applause and they're both smiling as they stand up and clap, looking down at the two men bowing below them. They're both proud, knowing that both Dan and Phil worked hard on this show and it shows. The production, the thought, all the points that meet in the middle, they did so well with it and they can't wait to tell them.
They're lead through the crowd by security, Lance following behind Tom hand in hand. The further back they get through the actual theater, the quieter and calmer it gets and they can finally talk and breathe for a moment.

"What you said earlier, about getting it." Lance starts. "I do. It's like… they're acting? But they're not. It's a stage presence. It's something they put on to face the world. Like, you do sometimes in your videos." Lance nudges Tom and he nods in return, listening to his husband.

"We all have it, but they've kind of.. worked it into an art."

Tom goes to say something but they are interrupted politely by a shorter, brown haired woman.

"Excuse me? Hi! You're waiting for Dan and Phil, yes? They'll be right out, they wanted to get quick showers before they came back out to see friends and family so if you'd like to go wait in the common room, you're more than welcome to." She smiles before pointing down the hallway.

Both of the men thank her before walking the way down to where she pointed and when they find it, they're the first ones there, sitting down. Lance reaches for the candy that's on the table and eats some while Tom swats at his arms. "Stop it, oh my god. That's not for you."

Lance looks back at him. "It's for me, this is the common room. It's for people waiting. Do you want some nuts or not?"

He grabs at another cashew and eats it before holding out one to Tom while grinning and chewing. The younger man shakes his head while looking away, a smile on his face.

They're only in there for a minute before the door to the room swings open and it's two tall gentlemen walking in with damp hair and big smiles.

"Oh my god, hi!" Dan's face lights up when he sees who is in the room and Phil comes in, big goofy grin and all.

Tom stands up first and grins big before closing the gap between them and sharing hugs.

"I'm so glad you both could come." Dan says while pulling away from Tom's hug to trade off, sharing a quick one with Lance.

"We're really both glad we could come, too. It was… amazing." Tom goes on, smiling up at the both of them. "It was so funny. I got like, 90% of the jokes."

Both Dan and Phil share glances and laughs. "Then we did our jobs well." Phil says.

"I also totally got most of them," Lance starts. "And needed no help whatsoever understanding any of them." He nods before eating some more nuts and grinning.

"You're so rude." Tom swats at his arm again. "Stop eating the nuts."

Watching the both of them, Dan and Phil just grin at each other and share glances before Dan brings the towel up to his head to ring out his hair again. The shuffle in to sit down with them and continue talking about everything. They go from the show to what they've been up to (diving, preparing for tour) and then eventually to YouTube, which is how it always ends up.

"Do you think we could do a video together? Like, honestly? I'm the worst with collaborations. I'd have no idea what we'd do." Tom says, their jackets off now over the back of the seat.

"We could bake something. You're good at that and we haven't burnt down our apartment yet, so." Phil says before laughing out softly. "Oh! Or we could do like a challenge and the loser has to dive-" "Phil, do not end that sentence because you will have us killed." Dan holds out his hand in front of Phil and he stops talking, sealing his lips.

"Oh, he almost killed me trying to go off the 10 meter platform." Lance says while glancing towards Tom. "I made a FAKE bet with him, and he took it seriously, and now he won't let me live."

"You said you would do it!" Tom exclaimed. "It's just 10 meters!"

"Oh my god, I think I would actually die on impact." Dan contemplated.

"Exactly!" Lance said before pointing over towards Dan. "He gets it!"

Both Dan and Phil are laughing now, eating from the snacks in front of them. Tom just shakes his head, his arms crossing. "You're all wimps. We could do a group dive."

"Do I have to wear that little bathing suit?" Phil asks cautiously. "Because I'm not going to."

Everybody is laughing now and they're all sitting back, Tom leaning against Lance's arm while Dan rests his head up against Phil's, holding each other up as they sat back.

"Where is your next show?" Lance brings up.

"In Glasgow on the 6th." Phil says. "Goin' up north to Scotland!" He puts on a fake accent but they're laughing at how horrible it is, probably.

"So you're home until then. You want to come over? Maybe film, if you've got time?" Tom asks, hopeful. Dan glances over to Phil.

"What's on our calendar?" He asks and Phil raises his eyebrows. "What calendar?"

Dan turns back to Tom. "We're free for dinner, if you're making. Because we don't-" He motions between him and Phil. "We don't really cook well."

Tom laughs but nods at him happily. "I can gladly make something. Lance will help."

Lance looks up from the bowl of snacks. "I will?"

Dan and Phil grin with short laughs but they all decide it's getting late for all four of them and they all thankfully agree it's time to go.

When they stand up, Tom comes over to give them both hugs again and starts his little speech.

"I know I'm younger than the both of you, but I'm just like, so proud of you." He says. Dan juts out his bottom lip with a smile and puts his hand over his heart.

"That's so sweet." He says but Tom just smiles.

"I'm being serious, this whole show is like, super great, and I had a lot of fun, and I'm really glad we got to see you guys. So thank you so much for the invite."

"You're welcome!" Phil says. "And thank you. We're really glad you liked it. It's always nice to hear what our friends have to say." He smiles before glancing up to Dan.

"If you ever need production help, call me." Lance mouths the last part and holds up a pretend phone with his fingers to his ears and both of the other men chuckle before they give another round of hugs to each other.

They share goodbyes and more kind words, Tom just sharing how happy he is that they're doing what they love and they soak it in, thanking him and praising him as well. It's all love, friendship, and care between them and most of all it feels safe.

"So, tomorrow, I'll text you what I'm making so you can decide if it sounds good or not." Tom says before stepping out.

"I'm most definitely sure it will be amazing." Dan says. "Trust me."

"Please don't boost his ego more than it needs to be." Lance widens his eyes a little and shakes his head while resting his hands at Tom's sides as they walk out together.

Dan laughs. "Sorry! I can't lie, he's a great cook. Bye!"

Phil shoots out a bye and leans out the door waving as they walk out. They turn back to wave before finding their way out of the theater.

The tiredness of interacting with people feels different when it's friends and Dan and Phil can both feel it. They're tired, and probably shouldn't have stayed up here this late, but it felt good to see them, and it felt even better making plans and actually going to see them again. It feels safe, because most of all, they can be themselves around trusting friends.

Across the city, walking into the apartment, Tom stops Lance at the door to share a few soft kisses. It's no more than that, but Tom turns his head to rest it against Lance's chest for a second as they stand together.

"I really like them." Tom says softly. "And it feels really nice to know they like us back. They're so sweet and kind and just. Themselves. It's refreshing."

Lance nods and cups the back of Tom's head. "I can't wait for them to come over. It'll be really fun."

Tom just smiles and kisses Lance again, their heads touching. They go to bed after a few more moments, happy to know that their friends can finally just be them, and happy know that they, out of all the people in Dan and Phil's lives, get to witness it.