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The Secret Songwriter

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Chapter one

 


Dan yawns and stretches, his long legs hanging off the edge of his bed as he does so. He rubs his eyes and sits up, reaching for his phone. He sighs as he reads his messages.

 

[Sam.] – need new song, stat.
[Sam.] – don’t ignore me Howell.
[Sam.] – DAN. WAKE UP.
[Sam.] – look you’re the cutest song writer I’ve had yet, it would be a shame if I had to fire you...

 

Rolling his eyes, Dan stood from the bed and pulled a hoodie over his head and stepped into a pair of jeans before replying.

 

[Dan] – look I’m on my way. Also, I told you no flirting, I have a reputation and no interest in you.

 

Pulling on some sneakers, Dan ran a hand through his bed-head curls and ran from his room, letting the door slam.

 

“Morning! Where are you off to so early?” Phil called from the kitchen. Dan’s stomach rumbled, but he ignored his body’s pleas. He was late, and without this constant income, him and Phil could be homeless.

 

“Work,” Dan mumbled in reply, not meeting Phil’s eye when he sighed.

 

“And where exactly is work, Dan? You’re so secretive about this.” Phil’s voice was sad and hurt, but soft. Dan’s heart stung, forcing him to look up at his best friend Phil. His hair was pushed up into a quiff, his glasses perched on his nose, his pyjamas making him look soft and snug. Something pulled at Dan’s abdomen, but he dismissed it. Although he trusted Phil with his life, he couldn’t tell Phil about this. Sam Wills was practically Phil’s idol. Knowing that he was actually a low-life auto-tuned idiot who can’t even write his own songs would make Phil so upset, and could put Sam’s career at risk. He had to keep quiet.

 

“I... I’ve already told you Phil, I can’t disclose that, okay?” And then Dan was out of the door.

 

~

Dan sat in front of Sam Wills, a piece of scribbled paper in his hand, and a scowl printed onto his face.

 

“I don’t understand this rhythm, Dan. Personally, I think this will sound terrible. It won’t reach my audience!”

 

This made Dan roll his eyes. Sam was acting like he knew what the guitar chords where. What a joke! He wouldn’t know the difference between G, F and E minor!

 

Your job is on the line here, just play it for him!

 

With a sigh, Dan picked up his guitar and fixed Sam with an icy glare.

 

“Just let me play, okay?”

 

Dan’s fingers picked at the strings before strumming a rhythm with C, G, E minor and D, with an A minor added in here and there.

 

“Maybe, maybe it’s easier, love,
To pretend these feelings just aren’t true,
But these thoughts always melt away,
When I’m facing Morning You.
Hair so tangled,
Eyes ablaze,
Feelings mangled,
Heart strings in a craze,
No, I can’t pretend, love,
That these feelings aren’t true,
Because everything melts away when I see,
What the morning did to you.”

 

Dan picked the strings again before strumming a final chord, his eyes watering. That song had come to him after seeing Phil this morning with his cute pyjamas and perfectly tangled quiff and crisp blue eyes. The thought scared him. It could only really mean one thing if he was writing songs about Phil...

 

Dan absentmindedly picked at the chipped black polish coating his finger nails.

 

“You know, never mind, pretty boy,” Sam murmured, leaning close to Dan’s face. If Dan is being honest, Sam is actually super cute – blond-brown hair, green eyes and scattered freckles. But Dan knows what a fake low-life he really is, and he will never be able to see past that.

 

Pushing Sam away, Dan snorted. “I told you, idiot. I have to go home to my roommate, he’ll be worried.”

 

Sam tilted his head. “Roommate?”

 

Dan smiled lazily. “Yeah, my mate Phil...”

 

Sam softened. “Is he cute?”

 

Dan smirked. “Hell yeah. Blue eyes, black hair, killer body. But he’s also sweet, smart, dorky...”

 

“Sounds like you have a crush, Howell,” Sam laughed.

 

Dan snorted once again. “Bye, asshat.”

 

Dan was acting nonchalant, but on the inside he was freaking out. What if Sam was right?!

 

What if his feelings from 2009 had returned? ...

Chapter Text

Chapter two

Phil had decided to clean up the apartment. To be honest, he always cleaned the apartment when he was upset with Dan. The rhythmic patterns of the mop over the tiles, the swipes of the sweep, it just made him think better. Well, that, and Sam Will’s music.

 

He didn’t actually like the sound of Sam’s voice. He just enjoyed the lyrics. Especially of Hidden, a song from his 2017 album. It just really got to Phil. As he mopped over the tiles, he began to sing along to the words that echoed through his Airpods.

 

“I imagine, night after night, that baby, maybe, maybe we might have a thing going on,” Phil sang, his voice ringing throughout the house, “But then I remember, I could never, admit such a thing to you. So I guess this love can just stay forbidden, and my feelings can stay well hidden...”

 

Phil closed his eyes and skid across the floor on his knees, acting as if his mop was a guitar, leaning back on the tiles and singing the lines vigorously.

 

“You are mine, I swear, when my eyes close, ba-a-aby, but maybe the clouds want it forbidden, because I’m a coward, and my love will always be hidden...”

 

Phil, a voice whispered and Phil almost opened his eyes. The whisper sounded like Dan... Well, this song does always make Phil nostalgic for 2009, the time when Phil was a blushing mess around Dan, a cute little 18-year-old that made his heart crazy...

 

“PHIL!”

 

Okay that definitely wasn’t a whisper!

 

Phil opened his eyes to see 2018 Dan (Sleeper earring, crazy curls, black nail polish, annoyingly beautiful) standing over him, smiling. Phil took out one of his earphones and grinned up at his best friend.

 

“Hey. What exactly are you doing?” Dan said, his brown eyes wide and fond.

 

“Cleaning...” Phil mumbled, blushing.

 

“Of course you are,” Dan laughed, extending his hand.

 

Phil took it and stood up, grinning. Then he remembered he was meant to be mad. He pouted, glaring at Dan.

 

“I see you’re back from work,” Phil huffed, and Dan smiled guiltily.

 

“Look, I’m sorry. I’ll tell you one day, I promise! But for now... will you accept a VIP ticked to Sam Wills’ world tour?”

 

Phil gasped and hugged Dan, letting his arms loop around Dan’s waist as he stared at the VIP ticket in Dan’s hand.

 

“How did you get this, Daniel?” Phil said, suddenly stern. He didn’t want Dan wasting his hard earned money...

 

“Don’t worry, I got it for free,” Dan smiled, blushing and looking slightly uncomfortable. Phil remembered his arms and dropped them. Dan’s eyes seemed to soften sadly, but only for a moment before grinning at Phil.

 

“Why is there only one?” Phil questioned and Dan rubbed the back of his neck nervously.

 

“I have work that night. Besides, you know I’m not a fan of that Wills guy anyway.”

 

Phil smiles at Dan before looking down. “Okay. Thanks, Dan. You... you’re always thinking of me.”

 

Dan flushed a dark red and nodded before turning on his heel to his room. Phil gazed after him, a soft smile on his lips.

Chapter Text

Chapter three

 

They were on the Manchester eye, and Dan’s hands were sweating. If this was a couple of months ago and someone said to him he’d be on the eye with Phil Lester, he would have laughed. But here he was, sitting opposite PHIL LESTER. He was beautiful – scruffy raven hair, wild blue eyes, his lips pouting slightly making him look so adorable that Dan wanted to close the space between them and just kiss him till his lips hurt. On top of that, Phil had this look in his eye when he looked at Dan, and he wasn’t sure what it meant, but all he knew was that nobody had ever looked at him that way. He looked away, blushing.

 

“I’m really glad I met you, Dan,” Phil whispered, smiling slightly and leaning forward.

 

“I... you have no idea, Phil,” Dan laughed, his blush deepening. “You’re the first person I can genuinely call my best friend. You’re...”

 

Dan leaned in, and now he could feel Phil’s breath on his cheek. It was warm. It smelt of peppermint and caramel macchiato’s and home.

 

You’re perfect,” Dan finished, and kissed Phil lightly on the cheek. He didn’t know what Phil wanted, but he had never said he wanted to kiss Dan, or even get close to that stage, so Dan played it safe. Phil smiled then kissed Dan on the cheek and whispered ‘that’ll have to do for now, I guess,’ with a giggle.

 

As Dan wakes up from the memory that haunts him over and over, he realises that maybe, if he had kissed Phil on the lips like he really wanted to that day, maybe things would be different now. Dan turned to his bedside and picked up his notepad, already humming the tune for the lyrics that swam in his head.

 

“Oh, on that day your eyes so blue, baby, why didn’t I kiss you, If only I had been true, maybe I would be holding you,” Dan hums, writing down the chorus and creating the verses and the bridge around it. He swears he hears Phil shuffling outside of his door, but he keeps going, plucking lightly at the air as if it was a guitar, humming some more.

 

“your lips are pink, you whisper to me, don’t want to ruin this, so I let it be... but looking back, now I know, these passions, they only grow...” Humming of more chords, then Dan is in the melody, singing the song with perfect harmony. If he was himself then he would be more conscious and realise he was definitely singing loud enough for Phil to hear, but his head was in the song, the words, the passion welling up inside him.

 

“Oh baby, I just want to kiss you, I don’t care, I miss you, in my proximity, do you still see me, as a lover?” Dan sung the last lines as he wrote them, tears spilling from his eyes.

 

“Darling did I miss my chance? Did I miss the last dance? I just need you here, whisper in my ear, the words I want to hear... but, baby, this’ll have to do for now...”

 

Dan tucked himself back under the covers, knowing when he woke up again, he would be sending the song to Sam for his world tour, because even if Phil didn’t know it was for him, he definitely wanted him to hear it.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

Phil adjusted his jeans. He usually wouldn’t exactly enjoy wearing tight ripped jeans, but tonight was a special occasion – tonight he was going to the concert and meet and greet of the one and only Sam Wills. Phil blushed at the memory of receiving the tickets. Dan was so kind to Phil, and Phil would always be very touched that he was so kind... but it was painful every time Dan was kind to him, because Phil knew that Dan would never feel the same way for Phil as he did for Dan. Phil was quite sure that Dan hadn’t felt any romantic feelings towards him since the day in 09 on the Manchester eye. The day after the cheek kiss, Dan was distant and not himself, and that was all the proof that Phil needed. Dan was grossed out or possibly even scared by Phil’s actions, and definitely did not feel the same.

 

But Phil couldn’t help but blush when he thought about him giving him the tickets. The tickets he had wanted ever since he heard the lyrics of Sam Wills’ first song. Dan had done that for him. They have known each other for 9 years, and Dan has never done something so generous, and because of that Phil couldn’t help feeling that possibly Dan felt the same. Not to mention the song he was singing a couple of mornings ago...

 

Pushing his glasses further up his nose, Phil stepped out of the house, not bothering to call a goodbye to Dan – he was probably already at work – before stepping into his Uber. It was actually happening. Phil was going to watch Sam Wills live. He was going to her the lyrics live.

 

He was beyond excited.

 

~

 

The concert had blown Phil’s mind.

 

The choreography, the catchy beats, the melodies in every song, it had all been perfect, on point. And now he was moments away from meeting Sam in person, thanks to the VIP ticket pass.

 

Phil could see the top of Sam’s golden hair over the sea of gushing fans that surrounded him. Most were girls, or parents that had been forced to attens, but there were also some men around Phil’s age with emo haircuts or MCR shirts. Too bad Dan wasn’t here, it would’ve been funny to watch him cringe at a general representation of his past self.

 

Phil really needed to stop thinking about Dan for at least a second.

 

“Hey!” A voice called out, and Phil realised he was now at the front of the line and the voice calling to him was in fact Sam Wills.

 

“Oh, uh, hi! I’m Phil, I was wondering if you could sign my jumper for me?”

 

Sam seemed to be taking in Phil’s appearance with a look of annoyance before his mouth slipped into a sly smile.

 

“Of course. Tell me a bit about yourself.”

 

“Well there honestly isn’t much to tell,” Phil started, “I’m a stay-at-home author. I haven’t had a hit book in ages because I have no inspiration to write one. I basically live my life on cereal while watching anime and sometimes remembering to water my houseplants. Well, honestly, I only remember when Dan reminds me.”

 

Sam stopped signing, his eyebrow raised. “Dan... who’s Dan?”

 

Phil smiled softly. “My roommate! He’s the one that gave me the ticket, actually. He’s been my best friend for nearly 10 years now.”

 

Sam grinned. “Not a fan I assume? Of my music.”

 

“Definitely not. In fact, he has a huge distaste when it comes to your music that I’ll never understand.”

 

“Maybe he’s jealous,” Sam said with a wink, “jealous that you spend so much time listening to my music.”

 

“Maybe,” Phil laughed. He could tell that something had shifted as soon as Sam had said it, and not in a good way. His gut was telling him to take his jumper and leave, but he was glued to the spot.

 

“Say... wanna come have coffee with me? Tomorrow? Maybe at a lowkey coffee shop... how about the Grind? I’ll meet you there at 3pm?”

 

“Uh, I can’t” –

 

“Great! See you there!” Sam winked before kissing Phil on the cheek and handing him back his jumper.

 

Phil was startled.

 

Something wasn’t quite right.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five 

Sam knew his plan would work from the start.

 

“Wait! Dan!”

 

Sam had run out to the parking lot, where Dan was about to get into his car. Dan turned, rolling his eyes.

 

What, Sam,” he sassed, and Sam grinned. There was something about Dan that just got him going. Dan was just so sassy and talented and hot, and Sam wanted him in his bed.

 

“I have a spare VIP ticket. I think this would be a good gift for your roommate? You mentioned last week that he likes the music.”

 

Dan hesitated. It was obvious to Sam that Daniel did not trust him. Was it that obvious that Sam was planning a scheme? Sam had to work on his poker face.

 

Then Dan softened, mumbling “he would like that. Thanks, Sam,” before taking the ticket and getting into his car. Sam would have yelled ‘score!’ if Dan wasn’t rolling down his window.

 

“I’m not available the day after this concert though, I have a shift at the Grind that day from 12 to 4, so please don’t bother me. Good luck at the concert.”

 

Sam waved goodbye, grinning. This plan was going to be better than he first imagined.

 

~

 

Needless to say, Sam felt threatened when he met Phil at the meet and greet.

 

Jet black hair, blazing blue eyes. And for a not-so-crash-hot author, Phil had one good body, slightly muscular, tall frame, he had everything, and on top of that, he had great style.

 

But he was also naïve. He didn’t seem to pick up on how annoyed Sam was when he first met him, or how thick he was laying on the charm. Phil just kept blabbering on about stupid anime and houseplants. Seriously, this was the guy that Dan preferred over him?

 

The plan was working, though, because Phil was meeting him tomorrow at 3pm at the Grind, which overlapped with Dan’s shift. Then, Dan will see Phil with him and become furious at his roommate, leaving Sam to be Dan’s shoulder to cry on. It was perfect, perfect, perfect.

 

Soon Dan would be all his.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter six

Dan felt like crying.

 

Already today he had spilt hot coffee all down his arm, broken a chair, somehow cut his lip and even managed to get coffee powder in his hair, and it was only 3 o’clock. He still had a full hour. He’d much rather be in his bed, writing songs and strumming tunes. But alas, he was stuck behind a coffee machine.

 

The bell rung, which meant a new customer. Dan looked around him but all of his fellow employees were in the back. Nooo. Dan didn’t want to have to speak to people! Ugh.

 

“Louise! Customers!” Dan called, and Louise poked her head out from the office connected to the storage room.

 

“Sorry, babes, but I have to take this phone call and I think PJ and Chris are up to some shenanigans in the storage room that I’d rather not investigate. Sorry again!”

 

Dan growled under his breath. Why did he choose to work a second job at a coffee shop again?

 

Dan kept his head down, ready to take and order.

 

“Hi, can I have two caramel macchiatos?”

 

Dan snorted, not even looking up.

 

“Let me guess, Sam. One for me, one for you? I already told you I’m not interested, I’m your colleague not your boy toy. And I didn’t want you to bother me toda”-

 

Dan had looked up, only to come face to face with a smirking Sam and a shell shocked Phil. Dan was going to shit himself any moment now.

 

Fuck.

 

“How much will that be, Dan?” Sam smiled innocently.

 

“You are so fucking dead I swear to fucking god I am going to stab you so many times that”-

 

“Hey!” Louise said, rushing to Dan’s side. “Everything okay?”

 

“Just fucking swell,” Dan said, glaring at Sam. He had decided to not even look at Phil, because he knew he’d be met with annoyed glances and hurt eyes and Dan was too angry to get all whipped for Phil. Louise grabbed his hand and smiled at him in that sister Louise way.

 

“That’ll be $11.25, please. Names?”

 

“Sam and Phil,” Sam said sweetly, wrapping his arm around Phil.

 

Louise cooed, and Dan wanted to punch her in the face. Did she not know that Sam was his boss and for once he had trusted Sam with personal information and he had now gone and taken his best friend who he was kind of in love with on a date to the shop that he works at on purpose??

 

Okay, so maybe she didn’t know. But she should know.

 

“Take a seat. At the very back. Where I don’t have to look.” Dan took a moment to scowl at Sam.

 

“Dan, what’s going on?” Phil mumbled, and Dan didn’t even have to look at him to know he was upset.

 

“This is your roommate, Dan? Wow!”

 

“Don’t play bullshit, Sam. You know I’m going to have to tell him now. You brought this on yourself.”

 

Phil looked so confused.

 

STOP LOOKING AT PHIL!

 

“Are you prepared to lose your job or your roommate, Dan? You might just end up losing both, hm?”

 

Louise looked from Dan to Phil to Sam, then back to her employee and friend. She knew that this man was doing something wrong, but she couldn’t grasp the situation. Neither, apparently, could the man standing next to the Sam guy.

 

“I have to go, I’m sorry,” Phil mumbled, and Sam grabbed him by the waist.

 

“Oh no, please stay! I want to be able to kiss you again, Phil,” Sam whined.

 

Dan was so angry now he was beginning to see stars.

 

“You kissed Phil? My Phil?!

 

“What’s so wrong with that, Dan? He made a move on me because you never made a move on him. Don’t be upset with me, be upset with him!”

 

“Dan”-

 

“I’m going to have to ask both of you to leave,” Louise said politely, yet there were passive aggressive undertones. “My employee is here to work, and it seems like both of you are causing him stress in the work place.”

 

“Well then, can I have my money back?” Sam said, letting go of Phil. Phil was staring at Dan, almost begging Dan to look at him, but Dan couldn’t, he was too upset with everything. He turned to Sam abruptly.

 

“No you can’t, not until tomorrow. You can have it back with my resignation papers. I’m going to go home and use your fake, undeserved money to wipe my ass. You can move in with Phil, because I’m leaving Manchester.”

 

Dan then flipped Sam off with both hands before going into the back office.

Chapter Text

Chapter seven

When Dan finally came home, he was drunk.

 

Phil heard the key in the door and shot up from his spot on the couch, wiping his tear stricken eyes and clasping his hands. He needed to tell Dan the truth. What had really happened.

 

Dan had collapsed through the door, landing on his elbows and crying out in pain. Phil rushed to his side, helping him up and leading to the couch, Dan mumbling all the while “stop, you don’t care, why bother? You’re a traitor Phil... I can’t believe... I can’t...”

 

Phil went into the kitchen, whipping up a sandwich and pouring a glass of water in an attempt to make Dan sober up.

 

It kind of worked. Dan wasn’t really that drunk, he was just so upset that he felt delirious.

 

“Dan, I don’t know how you know Sam Wills, and I don’t know what any of that conversation meant. But... I... I do know that I never kissed him, and I never would.”

 

“How can I trust you?” Dan whispered. There were tears slipping from his eyes now, and Phil felt himself hesitate. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to admit it yet.

 

“Have I ever lied to you?” Phil murmured and Dan started to sob.

 

“Yes. You lied when you said you cared. You lied when you said you wanted me. You lied when you said that we would spend our lives together, as in together. You lied when you said the kiss would do for now, because that was nine years ago! And you lied the most when you said that you could never find somebody else.”

 

Dan choked out the words before collapsing onto Phil, sobs wracking his body. He usually wouldn’t cry, he’d feel empty and lost, but the alcohol was burning in him and making his emotions go haywire.

 

“I love you, don’t you get it?!” Dan wept into Phil’s chest. “I’m in love with you! And it sucks because... because I can’t... I can’t...”

 

Phil hushed him, rocking him back and forward until his sobs calmed to hiccups.

 

“Daniel,” Phil said, sucking in a breath of courage, “I’ve always loved you. I can’t put anyone else above you even if I try. I haven’t kissed a single person in nine years, Dan, because I cling to the hope that maybe we can be with each other... the way I wanted to be in 2009. I only kept away because you seemed so distant, and the last thing I ever want to do is force you into something you don’t want. I love you, I’m in love with you, you’re my person. So, fuck, Dan, believe me when I say, I didn’t do a single thing with him.”

 

Dan’s breath hitched. “I believe you. Always.”

 

And then somewhere in the middle of the chaos, they were making out on the couch. It wasn’t a hot make-out session, nothing overly sensual. It was more like a promise. A promise that everything would be alright tomorrow, and things would change and their love could finally grow.

 

Dan pulled away first, lightly biting Phil’s lip.

 

Through rugged breaths, Phil spoke.

 

“I don’t need answers tonight, but tomorrow, please fill me in on what’s going on... I need to know. Promise you will?”

 

Dan kissed Phil on the nose, then the cheek, then the mouth.

 

“You have all my promises.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

Dan and Phil were sitting on the couch together. The TV had been muted and it was Dan’s chance to finally tell Phil the truth.

 

“So you know how you’re obsessed with Sam Wills?”

 

“Well, not anymore, to be honest, but yes,” Phil giggled.

 

“Well, I write his songs for him. I write the melodies, the chords, everything. I’ve been writing songs for him ever since the two of us moved to Manchester. All the songs you’ve heard on the albums, the new songs that were released at the concert, I wrote every single one.”

 

Phil was quiet for a moment.

 

Dan continued.

 

“I wrote them about you. Think back to every song, every lyric you can think of, and it was written for you. My dream is to one day become my own artist, because I know I have capability, I just don’t have much in the looks department is all.”

 

Dan looked down.

 

Then Phil’s hands were on him, pushing him down to the couch. Hot kisses were being pressed into his neck, his jaw, his lips. Phil’s hands roamed over the tan skin hiding underneath Phil’s lousy Sunday shirt, his crotch bumping deliciously with Dan’s to create a friction that Dan hasn’t felt in over 9 years.

 

Moaning softly, Dan kissed Phil passionately, his tongue flicking into Dan’s mouth. Phil pulled away, looking at Dan with lust blown eyes.

 

“Shirt,” Phil mumbled, “off. Now.”

 

Dan did as he was told, lifting his shirt off, then reaching to take Phil’s off for him. Phil let him do so before pushing Dan back onto the couch, and starting work on his neck.

 

Dan’s soft spot was his neck. Even a light kiss sent shivers down his spine. So you can only imagine what rough hickeys were doing to Dan’s brain.

 

“Lube?” Dan asked, the only word he could cling to – his mind was clouded with thick lust and desire.

 

“I got it, I came prepared, baby,” Phil smirked against Dan’s skin. He sat up for a moment, shrugging off his jeans and encouraging Dan to do the same.

 

And there they were, butt-naked and getting it on. And all Dan could think of were lyrics, swimming in his head about a beautiful boy that was all his, only his.

Chapter Text

Epilogue

Sitting back strumming on his guitar, Dan couldn’t believe how quick time passed when you weren’t lonely. Ever since the day 2 years ago, the day that he and Phil came clean about their feelings for each other and shared their first time together, things had only gone uphill.

 

After resigning from his job, Dan came clean to the rest of the world, and Sam lost a lot of money for pretending Dan’s work was his own. Dan released new music and gained fans fast, which also meant he gained money a lot faster than he used to.

 

And Phil? Phil finally found inspiration for his novels. He religiously listened to his boyfriend’s music and marvelled at how lucky he was to have found such a man in this world. Every time Dan released new music, Phil would become inspired and write a short story to go with it.

 

They shared many more sensual moments and a couple of years later, they got married and adopted a little girl that they named Willow. Willow quickly learnt to copy Phil’s every move and became a bubbly spitfire who would do anything for her family.

 

Were they happy? Yes. Were there days where the two wished their hectic lives would slow so they could catch up? Definitely. But the Lester-Howell’s were a unit, a force to be reckoned with, and nobody ever stood in the path of their love story again.

 

Fin~