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Stay With Me Forever

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Dan woke up at around noon, per usual. He rose from his bed and started towards the bathroom. He stepped over clothes that were scattered all over his floor. He got to his bathroom that wasn’t any cleaner. There were dirty towels and clothes on the floor, hair products spilled all over the counters, and a clogged toilet.
Dan never cleaned after himself. He never felt like he needed to. He was a college drop out and just recently quit drugs. He’s never had a girlfriend and he fears he’ll never get one. Dan has a few friends, who do drugs, but he doesn’t hang out with them anymore. Ever since he quit weed he never had a reason to hang out with them.
Dan took a short, cold shower and picked up a t-shirt, some jeans, and his work jacket off the floor and put them on.
This is how Dan’s day always been. Wake up late, go to work, come home and stay up late writing. It’s been that way ever since he dropped college. He didn’t drive and barely had enough money to support himself. He was always late to work and came close to losing his job multiple times.
Dan worked at a local café near the Santa Monica Pier. He had a lot of regular customers and got a lot of tips; not because he’s particulary good at his job, because they knew Dan was struggling to survive.
-
Dan called an uber, as always, and was driven to work. It took Dan about 10 minutes to get to work, yet he was always late. He doesn’t have an alarm and always wastes his energy on writing songs.
Dan has always had an interest for writing. He’s written many little songs in his journal, which he took everywhere with him. He was always caught humming his songs and complimented on how catchy they are. Other than his workmates, Dan hasn’t shared his love of music to anyone.
Dan arrived at work, almost a half of an hour late, and immediately gone to his station. Only two or three people worked at the same time, so it was usually just Dan and someone else working. Dan’s workmates worked in shifts, but because Dan needed lots of money, he worked all day.
“Hey, Dan.” Barry, one of Dan’s workmates, said.
“About time!” Ross, Dan’s boss, said. “You’re late!”
“That’s not a surprise.” Dan replied.
“You’re lucky I won’t fire you.” Ross threatened.
“And you won’t.” Dan said. He always tested Ross, but Ross would never do anything about it.
Ross rolled his eyes and grabbed his belongings. “I’ll be back at 6.” He said before walking off. Ross owned multiple cafés and worked different shifts at each location. He was never in one location longer than 3 hours.
Dan’s day remained normal. Serving the same customers, getting the same tips, and hating every moment of it.
Dan didn’t hate his job, per se, he hated the fact that everyone who went there⎯yes, everyone⎯only tipped him because they felt bad for him. Dan’s personal life spread like wild-fires. Customers would always tell their friends, “That’s the poor guy. Give him a tip, he needs it.” They’d usually whisper it so Dan wouldn’t hear, but he did.
It never really got to him, though. He was tough despite his financial troubles. He always kept his emotions in, and never liked venting to anyone. He didn’t want anyone to feel bad for him, but obviously that wasn’t working.
It was now almost noon and Dan doing the dishes. He noticed someone step up to the register ready to order. Barry was on his break, so Dan was doing just about everything at the moment.
“I’ll get to you in a second.” Dan told the customer. He finished washing the cup and put it on the drying rack. He started towards the register, taking off his apron on the way.
He was looking down while he was walking, struggling to untie the string holding it up. “How can I help y-” Dan looked up and saw a man about the same height as him with long, brown hair with a blonde streak in it, a short beard and mustache and a beautiful smile stood in front of him. Dan blushed. He’s never seen anyone so charming in his life, but he remebered that he needed to do his job.
Dan snapped out of his trance and apologized. “Oh, sorry. How can I help you?” Dan felt himself blush, he hoped it wasn’t noticeable.
The man looked up at the menu for a second before he spoke. “I’m new around here, came from Florida, what’s popular here?”
His voice was perfect. It was soft and cute.
Dan nervously thought. “The Mango Slush is popular this time ‘round.” Dan informed the man. He hoped he’d like it too, it was Dan’s favorite.
Dan has never had a crush before. Maybe a random girl back in grade school but nothing serious. He never even knew he could like someone. But he did.
The man smiled and Dan’s eyes widened at the sight. His smile could light up the room⎯and it did.
Dan started blushing even more now. He felt his face heat up. He immediately looked down at the register and started pressing random buttons.
“I’ll take that.” The man said smiling.
Dan nodded and put in an order for the drink. “$3.80 please.” Dan nervously said.
The man pulled out a $5 bill and handed it to Dan. Dan then punched in the numbers to open the register, before getting cut off by the man.
“Keep it.” He smiled.
Dan returned the smile. “Thank you. I’ll go make your juice. You can sit anywhere or wait here at the bar area.” Dan pointed to the bar area just behind the blenders.
He sat himself at the still closest to the machine Dan was working with. He propped his head up with this hand and examined Dan while he worked.
“So,” he started. “Are you from here?” He curiously asked.
“No, actually, I’m from New Jersey.” Dan replied.
The man’s eyes widened. “Wow that’s so cool!”
Dan turned around to grab the ingredients for his drink. “Oh uh-” He turned back to the man.
“Arin.” He said.
Dan smiled. “Arin. Did you want sugar or any sweetener in your drink? Our mangoes aren’t that sweet this year unfortunately.”
“Sure,” Arin said. “Do you have vanilla yogurt?”
“I’ll go check.” Dan pardoned himself and walked into the back room. Barry was in there cleaning.
Barry noticed happy and bubbly Dan. He furrowed his eyebrows and smiled. “What’s up with you? I haven’t seen you this happy⎯ever.”
Dan, with a big dumb grin on his face, turned towards Barry and sighed. “There’s a guy out there⎯Arin⎯he’s amazing! He’s new to California and he’s totally rad!”
Barry chuckled. “I didn’t know you had it in you to like someone.” He joked.
“I don’t wanna keep him waiting,” Dan snapped back to reality. He quickly grabbed the yogurt and ran out of the room.
Dan stupidly smiled at Arin and apologized for the wait.
Arin shook his head. “It’s fine, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.” He smiled.
Dan smiled and continued to work diligently. Arin stared at him, almost in awe, and smiled politely. Dan found himself humming to one of his songs he was working on. Arin seemed interested.
“What song is that?” He asked curiously sitting up in his chair.
Dan was caught off guard. He started to get flustered. “Oh- it’s nothing- it’s a song- I’m writing..” he stuttered. Dan’s eyes darted from place to place.
Dan never really got many compliments on his music. He was always very shy when it came to his personal life and hobbies.
“Wow that’s so cool!” Arin exclaimed. Arin’s eyebrows raised in interest. “I always wished I was good at singing. I love music. It’s so interesting to see creativity in the form of music. How long have you been writing?”
Dan giggled nervously. “Uh- ever since I was little I guess. A lot of my songs are unfinished though.”
Arin smiled. “You should show me some of your songs! I bet they’re amazing; even if they’re unfinished!”
Dan paused. He felt butterflies in his stomach. “Oh psh- I dunno..” Dan nervously said. He’s never been flustered like this before; he was panicking. “My music isn’t even that good anyways..”
“Of course it is!” Arin exclaimed. “Even the little verse I heard just a minute ago shows that you have talent!” Arin smiled.
Dan’s eyes focused on Arin. He was so nice and pure, Dan wanted to be with him forever. He’s never felt so accepted, so wanted, so loved. He never wanted Arin to leave.
“Thank you, Arin.” Dan said. “Really. No one has ever complimented me like you do.”
“Then I guess people don’t know your full potential. You’ve got talent. You should do something with it.” Arin winked playfully at Dan.
Dan and Arin laughed together. Dan, for the first time in his life, felt like he was home.
Dan finished up Arin’s drink while creating small talk with Arin. Dan found out that Arin is an animator with just over 1 million subcribers on YouTube.
“Woah that’s so cool!” Dan said in awe. He handed Arin his finished drink.
“Don’t get too excited, I’m not that good.” Arin humbly told Dan. He carefully took his drink from Dan’s hands. “I’m still learning how to do stuff.”
“What’s the name of your channel?” Dan curiously asked pulling his phone out of his pocket.
Arin blushed. “Egoraptor. E-G-O-R-A-P-T-O-R.” Arin spelled it out.
Dan typed away as Arin spelled out the name. He entered it into the search bar and started scrolling through his videos. Arin quietly sucked on his straw.
“These looks amazing!” Dan said studying the thumbnails. “The colors are really nice.”
Arin chuckled nervously. “Thanks,” he said red in the face.
Dan eagerly scrolled through Arin’s YouTube channel as Arin slurped down his drink until it was gone.
Dan jumped at the sound of the slurping. “Oh! I’ll get that!” he anxiously shoved his phone in this pocket⎯that, almost immediately, fell out⎯and took Arin’s cup. They both nervously chuckled and silently blushed. There was a brief moment of silence before Arin spoke. “Ah⎯I’ve got to get going.” Arin rose from the stool. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” he promised.
Dan smiled and waved at Arin, who was waving back, as he exited through the door. Dan propped himself up on the counter with his arm and stared as Arin walked out of sight.
-
Dan finished his shift and was driven home by Ross, who’d returned at 6 as promised.
Dan entered his house, which seemed cleaner than usual. Everything just seemed better ever since he met Arin.
It was late⎯Dan laid in his bed smiling. Thinking about how he’d get to wake up and see the love of his life.
Nothing could ruin this moment, except one thing⎯he forgot his phone.

Chapter Text

Arin had become a regular ever since that day. He’d come and sit in the same seat and order the same drink everyday. Dan enjoyed their conversations. He treasured them. He knew that he’d never have the same kind of conversations with anyone else like he does with Arin.

Dan woke up, earlier than usual, and immediately got ready for work. He took a quick, cold shower, picked up some shorts, a t-shirt, and his work jacket off of the floor and put them on. Dan was smiling, thinking about Arin the whole time. Dan had begun working on a new song, inspired by Arin, and was hoping to show it to him. This thought made Dan nervous, but he wanted to do it anyway.

Dan took the bus to work, because his phone was still at the café, and ended up on time for once. Dan unlocked the door to the café and walked in, locking it back behind him.

Dan cheerfully walked to the counter where Ross and Barry were. “Hey Ross!” Dan smiled. “Hey Barry!” He waved.

Ross stared at Dan with a confused look. “Why are you all happy?”

Barry smiled. “Dan has a boyfriend.”

“Boy-Friend!” Dan emphasized. “A friend that is a boy.”

Ross stared at Dan with a blank look and sighed. “I regret asking.”

Dan rolled his eyes, somehow still smiling, and sat in the break room until they opened.

-

As he worked, Dan’s phone buzzed way more than he’s used to. Assuming it was Arin texting him, he smiled and blushed shyly.

Dan asked to switched positions with Barry so he could check his phone without getting caught.

Dan excitedly hopped to the back to, instead of doing his job, check his phone.

His smile quickly faded when he realized he wasn’t getting texts from Arin, but from one of his old highschool buddies. There were a few missed calls from him as well.

Dan unlocked his phone and read the texts.

Hey Dan! It’s been a while! I know we haven’t talked in forever, but, I’m having a party at my place this Saturday! Think you could come? Let me know ASAP!

Dan wasn’t interested in going, only because this particular friend still does drugs while Dan would rather stay clean, but he then realized he could invite Arin.

Dan typed away as he thought of a response.

Nice to talk to you again! I will have to see if I can make it. Is it alright if I bring a friend?

Knowing he’d get a response in an unreasonable amount of time, Dan stuck his phone in his pocket and returned to work.

-

Arin decided to stay longer than usual that day. He brought a laptop and a travel drawing tablet to work.

Dan brought Arin his drink, and curiously started at the screen. “What’s this?”

Arin blinked a few times, realizing he’d kept them open for a while. “I’m working on a series I have.” He explained, then paused before speaking again. “It’s kinda dumb,” he shrugged.

“Lemme see!” Dan said excitedly. He’d forgot about his job, but luckily the cafè isn’t as packed as usual. It was only him, Arin, and another family or two there.

“Pshh I dunno…” Arin sighed. He caught himself beginning to blush.

“C’mon! It’s just me!” Dan pleaded, causing the younger man to give in.

“Fine.” Arin sighed, smiling only a little bit.

He turned the laptop to face Dan and played the animation. It’s was mostly a sketch, with random animated parts here and there. Arin was his own voice actor, and hearing his voice made him cringe.

“That’s all I have.” Arin said turning the laptop back towards him. “Sorry it isn’t any good, I’m still learning and—“

“Are you kidding me?! That’s amazing! It’s so cool to see someone animate! I wish I could draw like that!” Dan exclaimed. “I’d never have the patience to though..”

Arin couldn’t help but smile. Flustered, he fiddled with his thumbs. “Thanks,” he said.

“No problem, man!” Dan said, moving to sit next to Arin. Dan’s eyes never left Arin’s face. Arin avoided eye contact nervously. He continued to fiddle with his thumbs.

Dan situated himself on the bar stool and reached his hand into his deep pockets. He struggled to pull his journal out of his pocket. He flipped through the thick pages until he stopped at a specific page.

The page had multiple paragraphs of text written randomly across the page. Curiously, Arin side-eyed Dan’s journal. Dan continued to stare, smiling.

“What’s that?” Arin managed to say.

“My song-writing journal.” Dan nervously said. “I’ve never shown anyone this–and I’m nervous as hell.” he admitted.

Arin’s eyebrows furrowed curiously. “Why are you showing me, then?” His response ended out sounding ruder than it was intended to. Dan hesitated and frowned slightly. “Oh! I didn’t mean–” Arin said.

Dan smiled slightly. “It’s fine. You didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that I’ve never shared my interest in music to anyone before. It just makes me super nervous.” He admitted. Dan’s hands were visibly shaking. His face morphed into a more serious expression.

“Why show me then? I’m no one special.” Arin said with a slightly higher-pitched voice then usual.

“Are you fucking kidding me, dude? You’ve made me feel the best I’ve ever felt in my whole entire life! Arin, you’re the only person that actually cares about me. Genuinely. Not because I’m poor or can barely sustain a reasonable lifestyle, but because of me. Because of my interests. Because of my talent. Arin you like me for ME. And that’s special enough for me.” Dan had just barely leant closer to Arin. His eyes were wide and focused on Arin’s expression. His eyebrows were furrowed ever-so-slightly. He was dead serious, a part of Dan Arin had never seen before, and admittedly never wanted to see again.

Arin exhaled softly and quickly. “I didn’t know you felt that way, Dan.” Arin was at a loss of words; he tried to think of something to say but to no prevail.

Dan blinked a few times and leant back in his seat. He sighed and closed his eyes before speaking again. “I didn’t mean to go all Mean Danny on you. I just didn’t want you to think that way.” Dan explained, being careful with his words.

Arin sat up straight and offered Dan a small smile. “Thanks.”

Dan smiled in return. “Don’t sweat it.”

“So,” Arin said as he leant towards Dan a little. “About that journal…”