The room was a lot smaller than expected.
Placing a massive moving box on the floor near one of the beds, Phil Lester managed a tiny smile as he looked around the semi-cramped dorm room, resting his hands on his hips. He wasn’t about to complain about his living conditions-- the Clearwater Institute was one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, and he had been lucky enough to receive a scholarship for it. He was thankful to even be able to set foot in the building, despite its tiny dorms.
“Looks like that’s the last box,” Phil murmured to himself. Opening one of the slightly worn cardboard boxes, he examined the contents before pulling out some neatly stacked bedsheets in a soft shade of blue. He raised one hand over them and concentrated for a few moments; then, the fitted sheet rose up into the air, hovering several inches above the floor for a second before flying onto the bed, the corners looping themselves onto the mattress.
The thing was, Phil wasn’t normal-- he was part of a select group of people with magical abilities. Nobody knew how these people were born with their powers, and it was simply accepted as the norm at this point. Phil’s powers included the ability to levitate objects, as well as turn invisible for short periods of time. Clearwater was filled to the brim with other students like him, and he couldn’t wait to see what sort of powers his roommate had. However, his roommate was nowhere to be found, apart from the identical boxes stacked on the other side of the room that most likely belonged to them, so he took the time to get his room ready.
After a bit of time, Phil had unpacked every box except for one. Opening this final box, he viewed the contents-- it was a collection of small plushies and anime figures that he kept on his desk at home, as well as a large rainbow-striped flag folded in the bottom. One by one, he put the plushies and figures on top of the dresser on his side of the dorm room, arranging them in two neat lines before unfurling the flag and doing his best to press the folds out of it. Pulling a small baggie of adhesive strips from his pocket, he pulled over a chair and hung up the flag over the dresser, stepping down to admire his work afterwards. That looks nice! Hopefully the adhesive holds it up well enough… Spinning around in a little circle, Phil picked up his laptop and sat on the bed, leaning back against the wall as he began scrolling through Tumblr. Classes didn’t start for another two days, giving students time to situate themselves in their dorms. Crossing his legs underneath himself, he occasionally glanced towards the door in search of his roommate, fiddling with the sleeves of his lilac and white jacket.
Several minutes later, Phil glanced up to see three people who definitely didn’t look like freshmen standing in the doorway to his dorm. “Uh… hi there?”
“Freshman, huh?” One of the people, a boy with spiky red hair, stepped into the dorm and looked around. “I can tell.”
“You can?” Phil closed his laptop and rested it on the bed, anxiously crossing his arms over his chest. He had absolutely no idea what these people wanted, but he knew it wasn’t anything good. Why else would three upperclassmen essentially invite themselves into his dorm room? He silently prayed for his roommate, or anybody at all, to show up and help him.
The redhead boy walked in a slow, lazy circle around the room before stopping right in front of his dresser and picking up one of Phil’s plushies. “You’re like a little kid, holy shit…” He tossed the plushie over his shoulder towards another boy with round-lens glasses and fluffy black curls. With a snap of his fingers, the curly-haired boy caused the plushie to disintegrate, dropping the pile of dust on the floor.
“Hey!” Phil cried, stumbling to his feet and running over to the dresser where the rest of his plushies and figurines sat. “Stop it!”
“Aww, are you gonna cry?” the redhead smirked, throwing another plushie towards the curly-haired boy. “Stupid baby…”
Phil let out a cry of protest, scooping the remaining plushies into his arms protectively. “Stop doing that!”
“Hm, let me think… no.” The redhead looked up and noticed the rainbow flag hung on the wall. “Well, would you look at that…”
“What’s wrong with it?” Phil demanded.
“I’m not even going to say the obvious thing about you being a fudge packer.” The redhead reached up and yanked down the flag, scrunching it up in one hand before holding his hand over it. Dark blue-black flames began descending from the palm of his hand, growing dangerously close to the flag with every passing second.
Phil gasped and desperately tried to tug the flag out of the redhead’s hand, but to no avail. He was already on the verge of tears, but he was determined not to cry. “Stop it! Please, don’t do it!” The laughter of the bullies caused him to choke up even more, his vision blurring as the tears finally spilled over. “Stop! Don’t do it, please !”
“Hey! Leave him alone!” Phil looked towards the door to see who he assumed was another freshman-- a boy with frizzy brown curls and freckles, bundled up in an oversized knit black sweater. “You heard me. Get out.”
“And what’re you gonna do about it?” The third bully, a boy with dyed blue hair, crossed his arms and took a step towards the brunet.
“That doesn’t matter. Leave him alone, now.” The boy seemed unphased, a neutral expression on his face apart from the piercing glare in his eyes. “Get away from him…”
“Oh yeah? Make me.” The redhead moved over and shoved the boy hard in the chest. A split second later, a massive rain cloud appeared over the three, a clap of thunder echoing in the tiny room before raindrops poured down from it. The bullies instantly began yelling in protest, darting out of the room to escape the relentless downpour. The redhead dropped the flag on the floor, taking a moment to flip both of them off before storming off. Phil let out a soft noise of surprise, noticing that the rain had soaked the three others, but not the carpet below. He crouched down and picked up the flag, thankful that it hadn’t been damaged as he rubbed the tears from his eyes with the palm of his hand.
“Hey, are you okay?” As the huge rain cloud dissolved into the air, the boy stepped into the room and knelt down next to Phil, pushing his messy black hair out of his face. “Did they hurt you?”
“No…” Phil sniffled, bashfully hiding his face behind his sleeves. “I’m sorry…”
“You don’t need to apologize…”
“B-but I’m crying in front of you on the first day…” Phil whined, picking up one of the plushies he had dumped on the floor in his panic and hugging it to his chest.
“Oh, don’t be embarrassed… those guys were being assholes.” The boy let out a little sigh, his bottom lip poking out a bit as he looked up at Phil. “Do you want me to help you set your stuff back up.”
“Yes, please… thank you.” Phil managed a shaky smile as the boy pulled him to his feet before picking up an armful of the fallen plushies and walking over to the dresser. They set up the plushies back in the two rows they were in before, making some slight adjustments due to the ones that had been disintegrated. Phil then stood on the chair to hang his flag back up, turning to the boy for approval. “Is… is it okay?”
“Hm, let me think…” The boy turned to one of the boxes near his own bed and reached inside, turning back around with an identical rainbow flag in his arms. “Yes.”
“Wait… you’re my roommate?” Phil asked with a grin.
“Yep!” The boy reached out and shook hands with Phil. “I’m Dan Howell… nice to meet you.”
“Oh! My name’s Phil Lester…”
“That’s a nice name…” Dan smiled.
With a big grin still on his face, Phil watched as Dan hung up his flag over his bed before walking over to him. “...thanks for saving me from those guys.”
“Aw, don’t worry about it…” Dan climbed off the bed, then promptly pulled Phil into a tight hug, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist and nuzzling his head against his shoulder. Phil let out a surprised giggle, instinctively clinging to Dan and squeezing him tightly. Dan was a great hugger, and he couldn’t help but instantly feel calm as the slightly taller boy clung to him like he was a stuffed animal. When the two pulled away after several seconds, Dan playfully bumped his shoulder with his own, grinning down at him with the barest hint of a blush spread across his cheeks. “Alrighty, how about this… I’ll finish unpacking, and then we can go get some coffee. There’s a Starbucks a few blocks away… does that sound good?”
“Yeah! That sounds fun…” Phil smiled. “Do you want help unpacking?”
“No, I’m fine. Don’t worry about it…”
“But I feel like I have to repay you…”
“Phil… you don’t have to. You don’t need to fret, okay?” Dan reassured him. “Just relax until I’m done… you’re fine.”
With an embarrassed little laugh, Phil sat down on the edge of his bed, watching as Dan scuttled around opening boxes and setting things up. Once he had finished, the brunet reached into one of the drawers of his dresser and exchanged his sweater for a worn navy-blue flannel, tugging it on and rolling up the sleeves. “You ready to go?”
“M-hm!” Phil nodded and hopped off the bed, keeping close to Dan’s side as they left the room.
“You didn’t have to pay for everything, Dan…” Phil laughed as they sat down at a table near the window. “We could have split the bill!”
“It’s fine…” Dan laughed quietly into the palm of his hand before looking back up. “So… what kind of powers do you have, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Levitation and invisibility. They’re kind of basic…” Phil pouted, taking a sip of his drink.
“No, that’s really cool!” Dan pulled out a twenty-pound note and rested it on the table. “Can you lift this up?”
Phil held his hand over the note, and almost immediately it rose a foot above the tabletop, doing a loop-de-loop before performing a nose-dive into the flower-filled vase on the table. Dan gasped and clapped his hands eagerly, like a small child excited on Christmas morning. “Oh my gosh, that was so cool!”
“Thanks!” Phil reached into the vase and pulled out the note before handing it back to Dan. “What about you?”
“Well, like you saw back in the dorm, I can create little rain showers… I can also do this.” He reached over and gently poked the sleeve of Phil’s jacket, causing the lilac parts of the entire garment to turn bright yellow. “Ta-da!”
“Wow!” Phil examined his now yellow jacket, laughing quietly to himself. “That’s amazing!”
Dan restored Phil’s jacket to its original color before picking up the pistachio muffin resting on his plate, taking a bite of it before looking out the window with a wistful expression. Phil beamed as he watched him, playing with a small thread that had come loose on the hem of his shirt. After a few moments of silence, Phil asked, “So, what are you studying?”
“Oh, that’s nice…” Dan trailed off, resting his head on his hand as he gazed at Phil from across the table. Phil could feel his face heating up a bit as Dan twirled his straw wrapper around in his fingers before crumpling it into a tiny ball. Dan appeared to start to speak, but was cut off by one of the Starbucks employees running over and enveloping him in a hug. “PJ?”
“Hi, Dan! Who’s your friend?” PJ, who looked quite similar to Dan, turned towards Phil with a smile.
“Oh… I’m Phil.” Phil managed an awkward grin and a nod as he fiddled with his sleeves.
“He’s my roommate,” Dan added on. “Phil, do the thing again…”
With a flustered burst of laughter, Phil made the pistachio muffin hover a few inches above the table before moving upward and floating right in front of Dan’s face. Dan took another bite out of the muffin as it hovered before him, then plucked it out of the air and put it back on the plate. “See? He’s got the coolest power ever…”
“Oh, don’t say that! Yours are cool too…” Phil insisted.
PJ simply chuckled as he reached down and playfully ruffling Dan’s curls, the gesture causing him to squeal and scrunch up his nose as he flapped his sweater paws in protest. “Alright, bub, I’ll leave you alone now… we’re still gonna Skype tonight, right?”
“Of course!” Dan nodded, watching as PJ spun around and walked back towards the counter.
“Bub?” Phil smirked. “Nice.”
“Nothing… it’s just a funny nickname, that’s all.”
“Well, can you come up with a better one?” Dan replied playfully.
“Let me think… how about… bear?”
“Bear?” Phil could have sworn Dan blushed at the word, anxiously picking at his black nail polish and looking down at the tabletop. “...why’s that?”
“I’m not sure, honestly… it just popped into my head…” Phil shrugged. “...do you not like it or something?”
Dan shook his head. “No, I like it…”
“That was fun…” Phil smiled as they returned to the dorm room.
“I’m glad you liked it!” Dan flopped down on his bed, hugging one of the numerous throw pillows to his chest as he looked up at the noiret.
Phil stood by Dan’s bed awkwardly for a few quiet moments, then: “Does this mean we’re friends?”
“Hm?” Dan sat up, dropping the pillow on the bed as he hooked one finger into a hole in his ripped jeans. “I was assuming it did…”
“Yeah, really!” Dan nodded. “If you want to be friends, then we can…”
“Great!” Phil could feel his heart flipping over at Dan’s response-- Dan seemed like the perfect friend, loving and humorous and sweet. Hearing Dan say that he wanted to be friends filled him with an immeasurable amount of joy. “...can I have another hug? You’re really good at it…”
“Aw, sure!” Dan stood up and hugged Phil for the second time, this time almost picking him up off the ground from how tight he was holding him. Phil let out a startled squeal, grabbing onto Dan’s shoulders with a burst of laughter. This caused Dan to start laughing too-- an overjoyed peal that sounded a bit like a dolphin, the action causing his shoulders to shake and the curls on the very top of his head to bounce up and down. By the time he released Phil and put him back on the ground, they were still laughing, both of them clinging to each other’s shoulders to stay upright.
The two managed to calm down after quite a bit of time, breathing heavily from how hard they had been laughing. As Phil looked up at Dan, their eyes met for a brief moment, bright blue meeting light brown. His heart skipped a beat, his face heating up as Dan grinned down at him. He’s actually kinda cute, in a friend way…
“...I’ve got to Skype PJ now…” Dan broke the silence awkwardly. “Sorry…”
“No, it’s fine!” Phil nodded, hastily scurrying over to his bed and picking up his laptop. Kicking off his sneakers, he wrapped himself in his duvet so that just his face and hands poked out as he checked his schedule to prepare for his upcoming classes. Occasionally, he glanced over at Dan, flashing him a quick smile and looking away on the rare occasion that they made eye contact. Afterwards, when Dan finished talking to PJ and asked him if he wanted to grab some dinner, Phil couldn’t be happier. He loved how eager Dan was to spend time with him… and he was beginning to enjoy being in the company of the brunet as well.
“Ready for our first day of classes?” Dan asked, sitting on the edge of the counter and watching as the tired-eyed Phil sleepily poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Yes… but I’m tired ,” Phil huffed, rubbing his eyes with one closed fist. He downed the massive mug of coffee before walking over to his dresser and taking his glasses out of their case, putting them on and sighing at his reflection in the screen of his phone. As he turned around, he saw Dan gaping at him with a surprised look. “What?”
“I didn’t know you wore glasses… you didn’t have them yesterday,” Dan replied.
“Oh, yeah… I had my contacts in yesterday,” Phil sighed. “I just don’t feel like putting them in today…”
“Huh… you look really nice. You should wear them more often,” Dan smiled. Before Phil could reply, he swung his backpack onto his shoulder and ran his fingers through his curls. “You want me to walk you to your first class?”
“Um, sure!” Phil hurried over to Dan, sticking close to him as the two left the dorm and headed down the stairs towards the main door. “I’m assuming we don’t have any of the same classes together?”
“Depends. Did you sign up for that extra-credit art class that everyone was losing their shit over?” Dan asked.
“I did, actually… why?”
“Really? I did too!”
“Oh, that’s awesome!” Phil giggled. “So, I guess we have one class together…”
The two made their way across campus to the building that housed Phil’s first class, stopping once they reached the door of the classroom. Dan sighed and looked down at the shorter boy with a little smile. “I guess is this where I have to leave, huh?”
“Yeah… don’t worry! I’ll see you in two and a half hours,” Phil laughed.
“Ugh, that’s too long to wait!” Dan whined.
“Aw, don’t worry about it! It’ll be done before you know it.”
“I guess… see you then.” Dan playfully ruffled Phil’s hair before turning on his heel and heading off down the hall. With a happy squeak, Phil hurried into the classroom and settled down in a seat close to the front of the room. After resting his backpack on the floor and pulling out his laptop, he looked over and saw a boy staring at him. “Uh… hi?”
“Was he your boyfriend?” the boy asked in a nasally voice that hurt Phil’s ears quite a bit.
“No… we’re just roommates,” Phil replied firmly.
“Then why was he touching your hair?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
Just as Phil had predicted, art class arrived fairly quickly. Phil skidded into the classroom about thirty seconds before the bell rang, grinning when he saw that Dan had saved him a seat at a table. He sat down and smiled up at the brunet, resting his head on his hands. “I missed you, bear…”
Dan grinned down at him, bumping shoulders with him. “Aw, I missed you too, goofball…”
Phil turned around and pulled out a small, brand-new sketchbook about the size of a tissue box, putting it on the table in front of him. When he turned back towards Dan, his eyes practically bugged out of his head as he saw the other boy was holding a massive, dog-eared sketchbook that had clearly been in use for a long time. “Oh my god… it’s so big!”
“That’s what she said.”
“ Dan! ” Phil giggled. “That was uncalled for…”
“Sorry.” Dan shrugged, resting a few pencils on the table as he flipped through the sketchbook, looking for a blank page. Phil couldn’t help but notice that almost every page in the sketchbook was filled to the brim with gorgeous realistic sketches-- some in charcoal, some in colored pencil, some in pastels. As he gazed down at them in wonder, Dan noticed him looking and let out a nervous chuckle. “Yeah… I’ve had some practice…”
“...if you don’t mind, could I look at them?” Phil asked timidly.
“I guess so…” Dan seemed a bit reluctant as he pushed the sketchbook towards Phil, looking down at the tabletop and shoving his hands in the pocket of his sweatshirt.
“Thanks…” Phil carefully flipped through Dan’s sketches, being careful not to smudge or rip anything in the process. “Dan… these are so pretty! You’re so good…”
“Uh, thanks…” Dan didn’t seem to be pleased by Phil’s compliment-- if anything, his words seemed to upset him. “They’re… not that interesting, they’re really simple…”
“Don’t be silly! They’re perfect… I wish I could draw like you…” Phil closed the sketchbook and handed it back to Dan with a grin. Their fingers brushed over each other for a split second in the exchange, the simple gesture causing Phil to flinch and blush. What was that for? It was an accident… why’re you acting like this?
The rest of the class period was pretty interesting. Their teacher, an ancient old man with severe hair loss who looked like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world, told them they could do whatever they wanted for their first class of the year. Phil settled on attempting to make a rather messy watercolor painting, trying to paint a picture of a bird. It ended up looking like a deformed trash bag after a while, so he pushed it to the side and watched Dan work instead. The brunet was leaning close to his paper, frantically sketching and shading as though his life depended on it. Somewhat concerned, Phil stayed still until Dan finally sat up with a dissatisfied frown on his face. His hands were smeared with pencil and charcoal smudges, and his hair was dangling in his face. “I don’t like it.”
“Let me see…” Phil leaned over, letting out a soft “aww” when he saw what Dan had been drawing. It was a realistic drawing of a corgi wearing a sweater, staring at the viewer with what could be considered a smile. “It’s so cute! I love it…”
“It looks so bad, though… the anatomy is wacky, the shading is bad… it looks awful,” Dan insisted, closing his sketchbook and resting his head on top of it like a pillow. “You don’t need to try to make me feel better…”
“But, Dan… it looks so good! It really does! I could never draw anything like that…”
“Whatever.” As the bell rang, Dan stuffed his drawing supplies into his backpack and stormed out of the room. With a sigh, Phil hurried out after him in an attempt to get him to stop, but the brunet was already halfway down the hall amid a crowd of people. He tried his best to push the incident out of his mind, heading out of the building to his next class.
The first week of classes passed by surprisingly quickly, despite the immense workload they resulted in. On Saturday morning, the first day they didn’t have classes, Dan suggested that they go see a movie together, to which Phil eagerly agreed. It was quite a hot day, given it being early September, so the two stopped by Starbucks for iced tea beforehand. Still, it was quite a long walk to the movie theater, and Phil couldn’t help but let out an audible sigh of relief as they stepped into its air-conditioned comfort.
As Dan ordered the tickets, Phil bought a massive bucket of popcorn for the two of them to share. He then hurried back over to Dan with a huge grin on his face, handing the bucket to him. “I hope you like butter… I put a ton on.”
“Yep, you guessed right…” Dan trailed off as he looked over at the entrance to the theater, pausing for a few seconds before quickly grabbing Phil’s arm and tugging him towards the appropriate door. “Come on, let’s go…”
“Dan, stop! You’re hurting me…” Phil whined, tugging his arm out of Dan’s grip. “And why are you walking so fast? The movie doesn’t start for another twenty minutes…”
“Well, look who it is…” Phil whirled around and saw the three bullies from his first day standing behind them. “And you’ve got yourself a boyfriend now, too! How convenient…”
“He’s not my boyfriend…” Phil frowned, shaking his head and attempting to hide behind the popcorn bucket. “We’re just roommates…”
“You three again?” Dan immediately stepped in front of Phil protectively, shielding his body with his own.“Let me guess… your names are Twats One, Two, and Three?”
“Actually, it’s Jasper, Lucas, and Damian,” one of the bullies replied, pointing to himself then the two others in return. “And I don’t appreciate you insulting my friends.”
“And I don’t appreciate you bullying my roommate for no reason,” Dan snapped.
“Dan, stop…” Phil insisted. “They’re not worth it… let’s just go…” In truth, he was worried about one of the bullies hurting Dan, and he wanted to get them both out of the area before that happened.
“Shh, it’s okay, Phil…” Dan insisted. He turned back around and took a step forward, jabbing a finger towards the group. “If you guys don’t start leaving him alone, you’ll regret it…”
“What’re you gonna do? Throw a rainbow at me?” Lucas jeered.
“Dan, stop! Come on, let’s get out of here…” Phil timidly tugged on Dan’s arm, trying to get him to walk away but to no avail. “You don’t need to…”
“Aww, are you too scared to protect yourself? You need your boyfriend to protect yourself?” Jasper stepped around Dan and punched Phil right in the side. It wasn’t even a hard punch, but the gesture immediately made the noiret start crying. It wasn’t subtle crying, either-- huge ugly sobs started instantly ripping from his throat, tears dripping down his face and onto his shirt. Without even thinking, he turned around and ran down a random hall, ignoring Dan’s voice calling after him to come back. He skidded to a stop in front of a vending machine, turning invisible before curling up in a ball next to it. Trying his best to keep his sobbing under control so the bullies couldn’t find him, he covered his mouth with his hand, pressing his body against the cold metal of the vending machine and tucking his knees up to his chest.
Several minutes later, he heard footsteps approaching, and he fell quiet, silently hiccuping into his palm as he tried to see who it was. Thankfully, it was Dan who rounded the corner, desperately calling out Phil’s name and begging for him to come back. “Phil! Phil, where are you? They’re gone now, don’t worry… please come out, you’re scaring me…”
“Dan?” Phil squeaked out.
“Phil!” Dan looked around in a search for Phil; however, the noiret was still invisible, making his attempts futile. “Where are you?”
Confused, Dan looked down, then crouched and carefully reached towards Phil. When his fingers brushed against his leg, he let out a little gasp. “Phil… I can’t see you…”
Phil turned back to normal so Dan could see him, timidly glancing up at him with teary eyes. “Are they gone?”
“Yes, they’re gone… you can come out, they’re not gonna hurt you…” Dan grabbed Phil’s hands and pulled him to his feet, pushing his hair out of his face so he could make eye contact with him and frowning when he saw how upset he was. “Oh, Phil… you don’t need to cry, it’s okay…”
“No, no, don’t apologize…” Dan insisted. “Do you want a hug?”
With a nod, Phil managed to smile as Dan wrapped his arms around him, hugging him as tight as possible as he rocked him forwards and backwards in a gentle swaying motion. He clung to his sweatshirt, burying his face into the crook of his neck as he tried to calm down. A few minutes passed in which neither of them spoke, the only sounds in the room being Phil’s soft sniffles and whimpers as they held onto each other. Finally, once Phil had wiggled out of Dan’s arms with a sigh, the brunet picked up the bucket of popcorn from where it rested on the floor and linked his free arm with his own. “You okay now?”
“M-hm…” Phil kept his arm linked with Dan’s as they made their way into the room where the movie was playing. Thankfully, it hadn’t started yet-- the previews were still playing on the screen. As they sat down in two seats right next to each other, Phil started shivering-- it was much too cold in this area of the movie theater, and he was just wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. Suddenly, he felt something land on his lap, and he looked down to see Dan’s baggy grey hoodie resting there. “Oh… you don’t have to, I’m fine…”
“Your teeth are chattering, Phil. Just take it for now, okay?” Dan flashed Phil a smile that seemed to instantly cheer him up despite what had happened earlier, the gesture causing his face to heat up in a bright pink hue. Thanking every imaginable deity that it was dark in the theater, he tugged Dan’s hoodie over his head, noticing that it was severely oversized on him-- the bottom edge went down to his thighs, and the sleeves completely covered his hands, creating some extremely floppy sweater paws. Putting the hood over his head, he glanced back towards Dan, causing the brunet to giggle. “It’s a bit big on you…”
“I don’t mind…” Nestling deep into the soft folds of the hoodie, Phil curled up in the chair, feeling much happier than earlier. I can’t believe he’s being this nice to me… he actually likes me! He doesn’t think I’m weird or awkward… he likes me.
“Don’t worry about those guys… I’ll protect you from them. I promise.”
“Oh… thank you.” Phil smiled up at Dan, looking up into those pretty brown eyes that he already liked so much. Just by looking at him, he could tell that he meant it. “You promise?”
Despite being a college primarily devoted to strengthening students’ magical abilities, that didn’t mean the workload at Clearwater was any easier. Phil found himself spending countless hours doing assignments and essays during his first month of classes, causing him to lose sleep and drink ungodly amounts of coffee. Sure, it was slightly more tolerable since he and Dan would often do their work together, but that didn’t mean it was any less tedious or stress-inducing.
On one such occasion, Phil wanted to cry-- he hadn’t even gotten through half of his assignments for that night, and he was already exhausted and frustrated. Dan seemed to be handling things perfectly fine, though, since he was blowing through his work extraordinarily quickly even though they had the same amount of things to do. Letting out a sigh, Phil shoved his laptop onto his bed and flopped face-first onto his pillow. “I hate this…”
“All this work! It’s so much…” Phil huffed. “How are you handing it so well?”
“Five words, Philly. Pistachio muffins and Red Bull.” Dan got up and walked over to Phil, gently patting his back. “If you need to take a break, you can… your eyes must be getting tired.”
“Mm… I think I will.” Phil scrambled off his bed and stretched for a moment before crouching down near his backpack and pulling out a clear plastic water bottle, filled halfway with a sparkly blue liquid. He drank about a quarter of it before noticing Dan was staring at him with a shocked expression on his face. “What?”
“...what did you just drink?”
“Potion. It’s supposed to help you stay awake.”
“Oh! I haven’t told you about it, have I?”
“Well… come over and I’ll show you,” Phil grinned. He watched as Dan sat cross-legged next to him, staring with confusion at the bottle. “Here’s my little secret… I’ve got a little side business. I don’t have a job, so… I do this.”
“Yeah, but what is ‘this’ exactly? Do you make money from drinking Windex or something?” Dan asked, shaking the bottle as he continued to examine it.
“No, silly! Potion-making. I can make pretty much any kind, but love potions are my speciality.”
“Love potions? Are they permanent or something?”
“No… they only last for a certain amount of time depending on how strong you make them.” Phil leaned back against his dresser, letting out a tiny burst of amused laughter as Dan continued to examine the sparkling blue liquid in the bottle. “It wears off after a while and things go back to normal…”
“Well, why would anyone want that? If it keeps wearing off, people won’t want it…” Dan frowned.
“That’s the point… I’m hoping that if they get tricked into thinking they’re in love, then they’ll actually start to love each other. That way, when it wears off, they stay together and things are happy. You understand what I’m saying?”
“I think so…” Dan put the bottle back on the ground. “That’s pretty cool, actually.”
“Aw, thanks…” Phil turned towards Dan, stopping short when he caught sight of that cute little smile that he’d seen so many times already. He remained still as Dan reached out and tucked a small strand of hair behind his ear, the brunet seemingly mesmerized as he gazed at him. Rather than pulling away, however, Phil scooted a bit closer to him and let his eyes travel over his body. He’s just an attractive person in general, honestly, he thought, taking in every part of Dan from the single curly ringlet hanging in front of his left eye to the little dimples on either side of his face; from the soft curves of his collarbone exposed by the low cut of his sweater to the peachy pink hue of his lips. He was vaguely aware of the brunet beginning to move closer to his face, and he simply let it happen, trailing one hand downward and resting it on top of Dan’s thigh. Dan smiled and moved even closer, their noses just barely brushing together as their breath mingled in the limited space between them...
There was a loud series of knocks on the door, the sound causing both boys to shriek in surprise and jump away from each other. Phil shakily got to his feet and stumbled over to the door, opening it and seeing that there was a short freshman girl standing outside. He suddenly felt quite self-conscious, as he was just wearing his boxers and an oversized shirt, and tried his best to act as though he hadn’t just been moments away from making out with his roommate. “Can I help you?”
“Uh, I found this in the creative writing classroom? I think it’s yours…” The girl handed Phil a green notebook that did in fact belong to him. “Sorry for bothering you…” She stifled a small laugh as she looked over Phil’s shoulder. Phil turned around momentarily and saw Dan, completely red in the face, stumbling to his feet and retreating to his bed.
“Uh… it’s okay. Thanks…” After closing the door, Phil heaved a big sigh and turned around, hiding his face behind the notebook as he shuffled over to his bed. What on earth was that? He was definitely trying to kiss you… but why? We’re just friends… why would he want to do that? Friends aren’t supposed to do that to each other. Still embarrassed, he sat down on his bed, putting his earbuds in as he promptly got back to work, his hands trembling and his face still pink. Just forget about it, Phil… he was probably just tired. Yeah, that’s it…
“Dan… how late did you stay up last night?” Phil sighed. Classes started in fifteen minutes, and Dan was still lying in bed, half-awake and whining into his pillow as Phil tried to wake him up.
“I don’t know…” Dan huffed. “Let me sleep…”
“You can’t sleep, bear, I’m sorry… I’m not letting you miss classes…” Phil sighed.
“ Phil … I’m too tired! Just let me skip…” Dan let out a near-screech of protest as Phil grabbed his arms and dragged him out of bed. “Don’t…”
“Get some clothes on, come on…” Phil sighed. He walked over to his backpack and dug out the water bottle he was using last night, then handed it to Dan. “Look, if I let you drink the rest of this, will you stop complaining and go to class?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, just gimme it…” Dan took the bottle from Phil and downed the contents in a single gulp, dropping it on the floor when he was done and wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve. “It’s not working!”
“It’ll take a few minutes to start working… get ready to go, okay? I’ll be out in the hall when you’re done.” Phil stepped out into the hall and closed the door, leaning against a wall as he waited for Dan to finish. Soon, Dan popped out of the room, looking significantly happier than before. “I’m assuming it’s working?”
“Yep!” Practically bouncing in place, Dan grabbed Phil’s hand and darted down the stairs, already completely energized. When they reached the bottom, Phil let out a scream of surprise as Dan picked him up by the waist, spinning him around in a circle before putting him back on his feet. Dan simply laughed at how confused Phil looked, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him out the door.
“Where’s my sketchbook?”
“Huh? Isn’t it in your backpack?” Phil frowned, watching as Dan frantically dug through his backpack.
“It’s supposed to be there! It was in there last class… I don’t know what happened to it!” Dan squeaked, dumping the contents of his backpack on the table in an attempt to find his sketchbook. “Oh my god, no… this can’t be happening…”
As Dan searched in vain through his backpack, Phil happened to look towards the door and noticed Jasper holding something under his arm. He wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly what it was, but he had a feeling he knew what it was. Their teacher hadn’t arrived yet, so Phil quickly got to his feet. “I’ve got to go do something… if anyone asks where I went, just say I went to the infirmary or something, okay?”
“Uh, okay… where are you going?” Dan frowned.
“You’ll see…” Phil waited until Jasper had disappeared down the hall before hurrying out of the room. Turning invisible, he snuck after him, being sure to keep his footsteps silent-- even though Jasper couldn’t see him, he could still touch him, and the last thing he wanted was to be found out. He followed the redhead out to the courtyard, where he ran over to the two other bullies.
“Guys, look what I got…” Jasper dropped the sketchbook onto Damien’s lap with a smirk. “We got his drawing book…”
“The one with brown hair. Open it up…”
Lucas opened the sketchbook and began flipping through the pages, laughing as he looked at the drawings. “These are all trash…”
“I know, right? So here’s what I’m thinking… we tear all the pages out, then burn up the front cover and stuff it in his bag during lunch,” Jasper chuckled.
That’s awful! I need to get his sketchbook back somehow… but I can’t just grab it from them! They’ll know I’m here… Frowning, Phil walked over to a shrub a few feet away from the bullies, noticing several pinecones scattered nearby. With a sudden burst of inspiration, he picked up five of the pinecones and made them levitate a few inches above the ground before flinging them at the bullies.
“Hey! Who did that?” The three others quickly stormed over towards the bush, and Phil quickly scrambled away, scooping up the abandoned sketchbook and booking it towards the art building. He managed to generate an excuse for his absence that his teacher somehow believed before sliding into the seat next to Dan and placing the sketchbook in his lap.
“You found it!” Dan’s face instantly lit up as he hugged Phil with one arm. “How did you find it?”
“Don’t worry about it… you’re welcome.” Phil watched as Dan eagerly flipped open his sketchbook and picked up a pencil. “What’s our assignment?”
“We have to draw a picture of somebody at our table… and seeing as we’re the only two people sitting here…” Dan let out a little chuckle as he picked up a pencil. “I hope you don’t mind staring at my ugly face for forty-five minutes.”
“Pfft… same here,” Phil smiled. However, he wanted to say, You’re not ugly at all. You’re adorable. But friends didn’t call each other adorable, did they? As he and Dan adjusted their chairs to face each other, he promptly got to work, trying his best to draw his roommate. After about thirty minutes, he had produced a somewhat decent picture-- it barely even looked like Dan apart from the puffy cloud-like swirl on top of his head that was supposed to resemble his curls, but he was still proud of it nonetheless. He waited until Dan was done, then said. “So… how’d it go?”
“Mm, okay, I guess…” Dan shrugged. “Can I see yours?”
“Here you go!” Phil proudly held out his drawing for Dan to see. “Do you like it?”
“Yeah! I love your art style… it’s so cute…” Dan playfully ruffled Phil’s hair in response. “Yours is so much better than mine…”
“Well, I can’t agree with you unless you let me see yours…” Phil replied. “Can I see?”
“I guess…” Dan looked down at the floor as he put his drawing in Phil’s lap. “Does it look okay?”
“Oh my gosh, Dan…” Phil couldn’t help but stare-- in the span of just over half an hour, Dan had produced an absolutely beautiful sketch of him, fully and meticulously shaded. In the sketch, he was looking down with his eyes closed partway, a single strand of hair dangling in his face as one side of his mouth curved up in a little smirk. Awestruck, he had to force himself to look away from the drawing and back up at Dan, who was anxiously biting his chapped bottom lip. “Dan, I don’t know what to say… I love it! I love it so much…”
“You really like it?” Dan seemed to brighten up a bit, his posture straightening as his eyes seemed to sparkle with excitement. “...you don’t think it looks weird?”
“No, not at all! It’s so pretty…”
“Thanks… I tried my best to make it look like you…” Dan looked back and forth between the drawing and Phil for a few seconds before smiling. “...if you want, you can keep it…”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure… here, take it.” Dan carefully tore the drawing out of his sketchbook, being careful not to rip it as he handed it to Phil. “What’re you gonna do with it?”
“I’m not sure yet… I might frame it.”
“Really?” Dan seemed to get even happier upon hearing this, practically bouncing in place like an excited puppy. “You really like it that much?”
“I do! It’s gorgeous, Dan… I don’t even think you realize just how pretty your art is,” Phil breathed out, gazing down at the piece of paper in his hand.
And I don’t think you realize just how pretty you are, either.
Before Phil knew it, Halloween was just around the corner. Everyone at Clearwater seemed to take the holiday very seriously, as all the students seemed to be decorating various areas of the school in shades of orange and black and planning parties. Halloween was one of Phil’s favorite holidays; however, he had been quite lax in planning for it this year. In fact, he didn’t even have a costume, which normally wouldn’t concern him. But Dan’s friend PJ had invited the two of them to a haunted house that he was hosting, so he needed to find one quickly.
Two days before Halloween, Dan had let Phil borrow his car so he could drive to the mall and get a costume. However, all the stores had been completely bought out, and the only close-to-decent thing he could find was a sickening piss-yellow lion onesie with orange puffballs on the ears and on the end of the tail. He wanted to find something better, but he had hopelessly wandering the nearly abandoned mall for hours, and he didn’t feel like driving somewhere else to look. So he bought the stupid onesie for twenty pounds, then showed the offending garment to Dan, who had promptly lost his mind upon seeing it and had burst into laughter.
“See, the thing is, the thing is ,” Dan sputtered out through his cackling, “it would be about fifty times better if they changed the colors… like, if they made the yellow just a bit more pastel-ly and made the orange a bit brighter… but no! It looks horrific…”
“Thanks for the support, Dan…” Phil huffed.
“Look, tell you what… how about I change the colors to make it look just a bit better? Would that help?”
“That sounds good, actually… I’m willing to do anything if it means this monstrosity becomes wearable,” Phil sighed. Laying the hideous onesie out on Dan’s bed, he watched as the taller male changed the ugly colors to more tolerable, pastel shades. “That… looks pretty nice, actually. Thanks!”
However, within forty-eight hours, Phil’s worries shifted to a completely different dimension. As Dan let Phil examine his highly detailed vampire costume, which he claimed was homemade even though there was clearly a price tag on the cape, the noiret realized that he looked ridiculous. What were you thinking… everyone there is going to look so nice, and you look like a five-year-old.
Dan seemed to notice Phil’s distress, as he immediately sat down on the bed next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Hey… is something wrong? You can tell me, you know…”
“Nothing, it’s just… you look so nice, and… I feel like my costume isn’t good enough. I look childish…” Phil frowned.
“No you don’t, Phil! You look fine…”
“But everyone else is going to look better than me… I mean, just look! I feel silly…” Phil hopped off the bed and stood in front of Dan, tilting his toes inward and looking down at the floor.
“I don’t think you look silly…” Dan stepped over to Phil, resting both hands beneath his chin and tilting his head up so they were making eye contact. Phil stifled a soft gasp, instinctively blushing as Dan leaned close to his face, close enough for him to count the freckles scattered across his nose. “I think you look very cute.”
“T-thank you…” Phil sputtered out, feeling incredibly flustered from the limited distance between them. Just as he was about to try to pull away, Dan did so instead, turning towards the door as his cape swirled around in a circle around him. Trying his best to push the incident out of his mind, he clung to Dan’s sleeve as the two left the building.
“Hey, you guys made it!” PJ cheered, practically tackling Dan in a hug the instant he caught sight of the pair. Phil couldn’t help but feel a tiny pang of jealousy, watching as Dan squealed with laughter while PJ scooped him up and swung him around in a circle. He knew that the two had been friends for quite a while-- Dan had gone into a whole story one night about how they had been best friends since diapers and bonded over Spongebob-- but he couldn’t help but feel a bit left out. I wish Dan would pick me up like that…
Eventually, PJ put the still-giggling Dan down and hurried over to Phil. “Your… your name’s Phil, right?”
“Yep!” Phil let out a noise of surprise as the slightly shorter male pulled him into a much gentler embrace-- PJ was quite a hugger. When PJ had finally released him, the three made their way into the haunted house, taking a brief moment to pay at the door.
However, not even a minute in, Phil could tell something was wrong with Dan. He was sticking impossibly close to his side, his knuckles white even in the dark as he nuzzled his head against his neck. Frowning, Phil patted his back as a reassuring gesture, somewhat concerned. Dan wasn’t acting at all like his usual self-- a few days ago when they had watched a horror movie together, Phil had been the one cowering in fear beneath Dan’s duvet while the brunet had laughed hysterically at his reaction. Now, it seemed as though the roles had been completely reversed, and Dan was the terrified one. “Dan? You okay?”
“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” Dan insisted with a nod of his head. “I’m just…” He got cut off when a person dressed as a clown suddenly jumped out in front of them, his soft voice quickly morphing into a loud scream. He clung even tighter to Phil’s arm, so much so that it was starting to hurt, he kept talking as though nothing had happened. “I’m just cold.”
“Are you sure?” Phil frowned. “If you don’t want to do it anymore, we can leave…”
“I’m sure! Let’s just keep going,” Dan whined, frantically tugging on Phil’s sleeve. With a little sigh, Phil kept following PJ through the maze of long halls and tiny rooms, trying his best to have fun and disregard the massive weight clinging to his left side. After a while, Dan seemed to relax a bit more-- apart from his impossibly shrill screams that were provoked after every jumpscare, he seemed to be completely calm. He even laughed once or twice once he had recovered from being scared by the numerous actors lying in wait in the dark corners of the house. For a few minutes, Phil was convinced that Dan was okay, and that he was actually enjoying himself.
That is, Phil believed it until a person dressed as a zombie jumped out at them in a room filled with smoke from a fog machine. Dan shrieked at this, stumbling over his own feet and slamming into a wall. Phil quickly grabbed his hand and tried to pull him along; however, he only managed to get a few feet away before he realized his friend was crying-- it was barely even noticeable, but there were tears trailing down his cheeks, his shoulders and hands shuddering and shaking as he desperately searched for something to grab onto. PJ noticed before Phil and quickly pulled Dan towards him, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and squeezing him tightly as they made their way towards the exit. Phil followed them over to a tree with a thick trunk, his heart breaking as Dan sank to his knees and covered his face with his hands. The beginnings of a thick grey rain cloud began swirling above his head, and before long Dan had his own personal thunderstorm, the downpour soaking him completely but disappearing before the raindrops reached the ground. It looked somewhat strange, seeing the ridiculously small rain cloud hovering over Dan’s head, the drops soaking his curls and clothing as he tried to hide the fact that he was crying. However, it looked more sad than strange, and Phil couldn’t help but crouch down near him even though it would soak him too.
“I’m sorry…” Dan sighed.
“Why are you apologizing?” Phil asked.
“Because you guys were having fun… and I made you guys have to leave…”
“But, Dan… you were scared. If we stayed in there, you just would have gotten more upset…” Phil pushed Dan’s sopping wet curls off his forehead, holding one of his hands and rubbing his thumb in a tiny circle over his skin. “You don’t have to be sorry…”
Dan sighed and shakily got to his feet, the rain cloud over his head slowly evaporating. Phil watched as PJ summoned what appeared to be a tiny ball of sun that hovered by Dan and began slowly drying him off. Once Dan had managed a little smile, Phil wrapped an arm around his waist and nuzzled his head against his arm. “Let’s go do something else, okay?”
“Yeah… that sounds good…”
Phil was woken up around midnight by someone shaking his shoulder. As he let out a tired groan and opened his eyes, he almost screamed when he saw Dan leaning over him. “Dan? W-what’re you doing?”
Dan looked like a small child that had just crept into his parents’ bedroom-- he was nervously gripping a handful of his pajama pants in one hand, the other hand holding his pillow to his chest and squeezing it like a stuffed toy. His voice was soft and quiet, trembling just the slightest bit. “I, uh… I can’t sleep…”
“Do you… wanna sleep in my bed tonight?” Phil asked.
“Yeah… thanks.” As Phil scooted over a bit, Dan practically dove into the bed next to him, wrapping his arms around his waist and tugging him close. “...that’s a bit better…”
“You’re warm…” Phil giggled, feeling himself blush as Dan rested his head against his neck. His fluffy curls were poking into his face, but he didn’t mind-- the soft weight of Dan’s body pressing into his side and his quiet breathing was surprisingly relaxing. “You’re like a big teddy bear…”
“Is that where that nickname came from?” Dan asked with an amused chuckle, gazing up at Phil and squinting slightly in the dark.
“Aw, Phil… you’re too precious.” With a yawn, Dan pressed his head against Phil’s chest and almost instantly fell asleep, clinging tight to his waist as a little smile graced his features.
“G-goodnight…” Phil couldn’t help but look with wonder upon the taller male curled up near him, his heart thudding hard and fast in his chest. For possibly the fifth or sixth time in just a few hours, he found himself thinking, he’s so cute , running his fingers through his hair with a shaky smile. It somehow felt right , having Dan embracing him tightly with his soft breath tickling his neck. Oh my gosh, he’s so beautiful… I could look at him for hours.
Dan let out a soft groan in his sleep at that moment, rolling over so that he was on his back and Phil was laying on his chest. Phil couldn’t help but let out a flustered squeal, instantly blushing and hiding his face in Dan’s shirt even though he knew the brunet was asleep. Somehow, this position felt even better-- even though Dan was the one seeking comfort in his bed, having his strong arms protectively wrapped over his back and hearing his steady heartbeat through his shirt felt absolutely amazing. With a happy sigh, Phil clung tightly to Dan’s shirt, nuzzling his face against the side of his neck and speaking quietly even though he knew he wouldn’t be heard. “Hey, Dan? Just so you know… I think you’re the most beautiful person in the world.”
Midterms were never fun for Phil in high school. Needless to say, they were even more “not fun” in college as well. It seemed as though the first half of the year had gone by in a blur, and even though it was only November, each and every single teacher in the building was insisting on assigning midterm projects as soon as possible. Phil had been in a sleepy, bleary state for several days, and he hadn’t even looked at half of the projects yet. In fact, he was too overwhelmed trying to figure out what exactly was happening between him and Dan. He had hugged him, cuddled with him, called him cute on multiple occasions, and possibly tried to kiss him. However, they were still just friends, right? Even though friends didn’t do those kinds of things. Dan probably still thought of him as just a close friend… probably.
Of course, it was hard to keep the “just a close friend, probably” mindset when he was sitting in Dan’s lap in his boxers and an oversized sweater, reading through his assignments while the brunet clung tight to his hips like he was a stuffed animal. If anybody else walked in, it would have looked pretty strange; however, it could still be passed off as just platonic affection-- possibly.
“Dan, I can’t read our art teacher’s handwriting… do you know what this says?” Phil asked, handing the assignment to Dan.
“Let me see.” Dan’s eyes scanned over the paper, squinting as he tried to read the illegible handwriting. “‘For your midterm project… you will be applying techniques used during this semester… to create a portfolio of photographs or sketches of things in your life you find beautiful or aesthetically pleasing.’ Huh...”
“That sounds pretty simple, actually…” Phil chuckled.
“Yeah… I already know what I’m gonna do for that.”
“Oh, really? What?”
“It’s a surprise,” Dan laughed.
“Okay then…” Phil went back to reading his assignments, but stopped when he noticed Dan was gazing up at him, seemingly in a daze. “Why’re you looking at me like that?”
“Because you’re fun to look at. Obviously.”
“Oh…” With a little embarrassed giggle, Phil shakily climbed off of Dan’s lap and retreated over to his side of the room, pretending to dig through his backpack for something. In reality, however, he was practically shaking from what Dan had said to him. What… what was that? Why would he say that? How am I “fun to look at”? What does that mean?
“Wait, Phil… can you come over here for a second?” Dan asked quietly.
“Uh, sure…” Phil timidly made his way back over to Dan, standing before him and hiding his face behind his hands. “What is it?”
“Uh, you feel like having another movie night?” Dan asked with a smile. “I mean, if you don’t want to, that’s fine, but…”
“No, that’s fine! You don’t have to ask, y’know…” Phil smiled. “I’m always up for movies with you…” He could have sworn Dan blushed at this remark, but he ignored it as he grabbed a blanket off his own bed and sat down next to his roommate. “You can pick… I don’t mind.” As the opening credits of the movie began playing, Phil wrapped the blanket around Dan’s shoulders as well, curling up next to him and leaning back against the headboard. For the first half of the movie, Dan didn’t move at all, and Phil could have sworn he had fallen asleep. But then, just as Phil was starting to get a bit disappointed, he felt Dan slowly lean against his shoulder and begin to trail his fingers over the veins on the back of his hand. He bit his lip as Dan carefully laced their fingers together, his much larger hand completely enveloping Phil’s. With a shaky smile, he glanced up at Dan and made eye contact with him, seeing that Dan had a nervous little grin on his face too.
“Is this okay?” Dan asked quietly.
“Yeah. This is fine.”
“How about this?” Phil stepped out of the dressing room, clad in a ridiculously ugly Christmas jumper, decorated with multicolored bells that jingled in a ridiculously high-pitched tone as he turned around in a circle. “Is this okay?”
“No. It’s too annoying,” Dan huffed.
“How can a jumper be annoying?”
“Uh, bells?” Dan reached over and flicked one of the bells right near Phil’s left nipple, letting out a tiny sigh in reply. “Too many of them. Try on another one.”
“Ugh, fine…” Phil turned around and went back in the dressing room, tugging off the jumper and putting on a new one-- this one embroidered with a cat in a Santa hat, decorated with only three bells along the cat’s collar… a significant improvement from the twenty that had embellished the jumper he had on earlier. He stepped back out, holding his arms open to show off the garment to Dan. “What about this one?”
“That’s… actually nice. That one works,” Dan smiled.
“Alright then!” Closing the curtain, Phil put his own sweater back on, collecting the reject jumpers in one arm and the Dan-approved jumper in the other. When he stepped back out, however, he was surprised to see the three bullies and Dan facing each other, looking as though they were about to start throwing punches. “...what’s going on?”
“They’re being assholes,” Dan replied with a deadpan expression, immediately stepping in front of Phil protectively. “Don’t worry about it, I can deal with them…”
“Dan, you’re not going to try to fight them! Do you want to get kicked out of the store?” Phil hissed. “Let’s just get out of here…”
“They were insulting you! Just let me, Philly… we can do it outside,” Dan insisted.
“Stop, bear! You’re not going to beat them up anywhere , got it?” Phil grabbed Dan’s arm and attempted to pull him away; however, the two had just barely paid for their items and gotten out the front door before the bullies caught up with them.
“You’re about to have a huge problem if you don’t get out of here, buddy,” Dan snarled, stepping right up to Jasper and getting in his face. He ignored Phil, who was desperately trying to pull him back to the car. “I swear to God…”
“Oh yeah? And what’re you gonna do about it?” Lucas asked with a smirk.
“You feel like finding out?”
“Dan! If you don’t stop, I’m walking back to the dorm without you!” Phil cried in an attempt to get Dan to look at him. This ended up working-- Dan turned around, most likely in an attempt to respond. However, before the latter could happen, Damien punched Dan in the back of the head, sending him sprawling onto the pavement.
“Hey! Cut it out!” Phil tried to bend down and help Dan to his feet, but the brunet had already stood up. He was shaking a bit, but he otherwise seemed okay. Without another word, he took Phil’s hand and attempted to walk him to the car. Still a bit worried, Phil clung tight to Dan with one hand, holding their shopping bags with the other. Suddenly, Phil felt somebody shove him in the back, causing him to stumble forwards and take Dan down with him, He felt flat on his face, sending his glasses skittering across the parking lot as tiny rocks cut up the palms of his hands. He let out a near sob of pain, already on the verge of tears as he tried to get up. Before he could, he felt someone’s boot pressing against his back and forcing him to the ground, the gesture hard enough to knock the air out of his lungs. He could hear laughing from the three bullies behind him, the noise causing him to start crying even harder than before as he desperately tried to crawl out from underneath the foot pinning him down.
Suddenly, the pressure on his back vanished, allowing Phil to shakily sit up and turn around. Jasper holding his jacket to his face, the garment already stained with blood as Lucas and Damian tried to get him to walk away. Dan was massaging his fist, which was also splattered with blood, wincing with pain. Phil gasped and darted over to Dan, pushing his curls off his forehead and trying to get him to look at him. “Dan! Dan, what did you do?”
“...punched him in the mouth.” Dan grumbled. “He deserved it, he…” He cut himself off with a pitiful cry of pain that sounded like a wounded puppy as Phil attempted to look at his bloodied hand. “Ow, Phil! Don’t touch it…”
“Dan… Dan, you didn’t have to punch him!”
“But he was hurting you… I promised to protect you, and I did…” Dan seemed to be on the verge of crying himself, sniffling and rubbing his eyes on the sleeve of his sweater. “I’m sorry, I just didn’t want him to hurt you anymore…”
“I know, Dan, I know… let’s get back to the dorm so I can patch up your hand, okay?”
Luckily, Dan’s injuries weren’t that bad apart from some bruising on his knuckles and a sore wrist. Phil gave him a potion to help stop the pain, then wrapped his wrist and knuckles in bandages just in case. “There we go… does that feel better?”
“M-hm…” Dan nodded and smiled, still a bit teary-eyed as his free hand clung to Phil’s arm. “Thank you…”
“You’re welcome.” Phil gave Dan a little hug to help him feel better. “That bruising will probably go away after a couple weeks…”
“Wait! Hold on… can you kiss it better?” Dan asked softly, a bashful smile making its way across his face. “Sorry if that’s weird…
“No, that’s not weird!” Phil lifted Dan’s bandaged hand up towards his lips before gently kissing his knuckles a few times. Even though the gesture was foreign, it felt strangely right to him, and he suddenly felt compelled to do it again-- but he didn’t. That would be weird, because friends didn’t do that. Lowering Dan’s hand, he shyly glanced up at the brunet with a grin. “There you go. All better…”
“Thanks, Philly…” Dan stood up and stretched his arms above his head, causing the edge of his shirt to ride up a bit. “You’re the best.”
“Thanks…” Even though Dan had complimented him multiple times before, this one time caused Phil to blush and hide behind his hands, his legs trembling just the slightest bit. What’s wrong with me? He’s said stuff like that so many times before… how come it’s only making me flustered now? As Dan lay down on his bed and began reading a book, Phil did the same; however, he could barely concentrate on what he was doing-- he kept looking over at Dan. He simply didn’t understand how one person could be so perfect. The brunet looked perfectly relaxed, his legs crossed at the ankle and his sleeves adorably tugged partially over his hands. There was a little rosy patch on the side of his neck, his thick black lashes gently fluttering closed with every blink, his teeth gently tugging at his bottom lip every so often. With a sigh and a little smile, Phil curled up in a little ball on his bed, tugging his hood over his head. I don’t know if we’re still “just friends”... but either way, he’s still the cutest person in the universe.
“Why are you Skyping me at three in the morning?” Phil sighed.
“Well, uh… I don’t know. I haven’t gone to sleep yet, and I missed you,” Dan replied in an honest tone. “I thought you would still be up… and I guess I was right!”
“Dan… my family is asleep right now. I don’t want to wake them up.” Phil rubbed his eyes with his hands, squinting at the brightness of his laptop in his dark bedroom.
“Same here… but I just missed you a lot…” Dan pouted. He was wearing a dark grey hoodie with little horns on the hood, and he playfully swatted at one of the horns with a smile. “How’s your break been so far?”
“Pretty good, I guess.” The two boys had gone back home to their families for holiday break, and Phil was already feeling a bit upset because of the distance between them. He hadn’t hugged Dan in a week, which was just all too much for him. Even though they video-called every single day, he still missed having his comforting presence beside him at all times-- like a part of his body had simply been hacked off to leave a sad, empty abyss where Dan would usually be. “I missed you a lot too, honestly…”
“Aw, Philly…” Dan smiled, leaning back against his couch and twisting one of his curls around his finger. “I’ve… actually got a question for you…”
“What is it?”
“Well… a few weeks after we come back from break, one of my friends is having a party at his house… I was wondering if maybe you’d want to come with me? I don’t know anybody else who’s going, and I don’t want to be by myself…”
“Sure! I’ve never been to a party before, though…” Phil mumbled.
“What, not even in high school?”
“People didn’t talk to me that much in high school… I don’t think people felt like hanging out with me very much.”
“Why not?” Dan seemed genuinely concerned at this, leaning forward a bit towards his laptop screen. “Did people bully you or something?”
“It’s not important, Dan… it’s in the past now. It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does… please talk to me, Phil…”
“I mean, if you really want to know…” Phil let out a little sigh. “I was one of the only openly gay people at school, and I guess people didn’t take too kindly to that. So people didn’t really hanging out with me… it’s not like they were being openly homophobic or anything, but I could tell a lot of people didn’t like me.”
“That sounds awful…” Dan frowned, tugging the collar of his hoodie over his mouth. “...y’know, if I was friends with you back then, I would have kept you company. I would have made you feel wanted and happy… honestly.”
“I know you would, Dan…” Phil leaned back against his headboard, twisting the cord of his headphones around his finger as he smiled to himself.
The two boys kept talking until Phil got so tired he could barely keep his eyes open, rubbing his eyes with his sweater paws as he yawned multiple times. Dan giggled quietly at this, nestling deep into the folds of his hoodie as an adorable peachy blush spread over his cheeks. “Tired, huh?”
“Yeah, a bit… we’ve been talking for almost two hours,” Phil laughed. “You should probably get some sleep too, silly…”
“Probably… I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
“It already is ‘tomorrow,’ silly!”
“Well… I’ll talk to you again today at some point, then.”
“That sounds good…” Phil smiled at the beautiful boy on his screen, tugging the collar of his sweater over his face to hide his blushing cheeks. “Bye, bear…”
“G’night, Philly…” Dan smiled at Phil before ending the call. As Phil closed his laptop and set it to the side, he couldn’t help but grin, bundling himself up in his sweater as he lay on top of the sheets. Even this limited amount of interaction with Dan managed to make him happy somehow. Just hearing his voice was enough to cheer him up and cause his heart to do that flippy-over thing he was so used to already. He’s so perfect…
Phil practically ran back into the dorm on the first day back from break, skidding to a stop in the doorway as he fumbled with his keys. Unlocking the door, he saw that Dan hadn’t gotten back yet, which wasn’t that much of a surprise. Just to protect himself in case the bullies decided to pay him a visit, he locked the door from the inside, sitting down on the bed as he began scrolling through Twitter in an attempt to distract himself-- he was already twitchy and impatient due to waiting for Dan, and he simply wanted the brunet to walk in so he could make up for all the hugs he had missed out on during the past two weeks.
Finally, after an agonizingly long twenty minutes, Phil heard the sound of keys in the door, the soft click of metal in the lock inexplicably filling him with excitement. He watched as the door swung open to reveal Dan, looking absolutely adorable in a black-and-white striped sweater and grey skinny jeans. “Dan!”
“Phil!” Dan immediately ran over to Phil, scooping him up into a hug and spinning him around in a circle as he clung onto him like a stuffed toy. Phil gasped and let out a squeal of laughter, holding onto Dan’s shoulders and wrapped his legs around his waist so he wouldn’t fall off. Everything instantly felt better-- Dan’s simple presence was enough to make his heart soar in his chest and make him feel like everything in the world was perfect.
After a few more seconds, Dan put Phil back down on his feet, making sure he was balanced before letting him go and ruffling his hair. “I missed you so much…”
“I missed you too!” As Phil attempted to lean up and pull Dan into another hug, he noticed a large gift-wrapped package resting by the door, which Dan had most likely dropped in his attempt to greet him. “What’s that?”
“Oh, this?” Dan picked up the box and handed it to Phil, beaming down at him as he did so. “Just a late Christmas present…”
“Oh, Dan, you didn’t have to! I didn’t even get you anything…” Phil pouted.
“It’s alright, don’t worry about it!” Dan insisted, sitting down on the edge of his bed and gesturing for Phil to do the same. “I just wanted to make you happy…”
With an amused chuckle, Phil sat down close to Dan so their shoulders bumped together, carefully peeling off the package tape and removing the blue and green checked wrapping paper, moving slowly so he wouldn’t rip it. When he opened up the box itself, he couldn’t help but gasp-- folded up inside the box was a fuzzy white blanket with green cartoon cacti on it. “Aww, bear! I love it!”
“I knew you’d like it…” Dan watched as Phil pulled the blanket out of the box and bundled himself up in it happily, bumping his head against his shoulder. “...you look very cozy right now.”
“Yeah, I am… thank you so much…” Phil hugged Dan as best as he could while wrapped up in the blanket. “You’re amazing…”
“Not as amazing as you…” As Dan looked up at him, Phil realized that their faces were only a few inches away from each other, the tips of their noses gently bumping together as they gazed into each other’s eyes. His breath hitching a bit, Phil couldn’t help but trail one hand up Dan’s thigh, his palm finally coming to rest on the curve of his waist as his lips parted a bit. A soft noise of surprise escaped him as Dan gently rested his hands on either side of his face, his fingers matching the curve of his jaw. “Has anyone told you that you’ve got a really nice face?”
“No…” Phil didn’t trust himself to raise his voice any higher than a whisper as he shifted his body a bit closer to Dan’s, their knees bumping together and their foreheads briefly touching. He knew that he wasn’t supposed to be doing this with his roommate, but he simply couldn’t help himself-- it just felt so right .
“Well, then I’ll say it… you’ve got an adorable face,” Dan smiled. Before Phil could question this, Dan had moved even closer, their lips just a few centimeters away from touching. Phil was certain he had ascended at that point… there was no way that Dan was doing this; there was no way that gorgeous, perfect, amazing Dan was just mere seconds away from closing the gap and kissing him. And yet it was happening, the smell of the brunet’s strawberry lip balm tempting him to lean in and close the gap between them.
As Phil was about to do just that, however, the sudden buzzing of his phone vibrating against the bed frame startled him, causing him to scream and tumble off the bed. He instantly let out a cry of pain as he landed on the hardwood floor, pouting when he heard Dan laughing hysterically. “It’s not that funny…”
“I’m sorry…” Dan sputtered through his laughter as he tried desperately to calm down. “...are you okay?”
“I’m fine, just a little bruised up…” Phil managed to giggle a bit as he got to his feet. “I guess it was kinda funny…” However, he was still in fact quite flustered and confused, and he was left wondering why on earth Dan had just done that. This was the second time in a matter of months Dan had been split seconds from kissing him, and he still had absolutely no idea why. Why would he want to do that? We’re just friends. Friends don’t do that…
As Phil pondered this, he suddenly began thinking about how it would feel if Dan had closed that tiny gap between them; how it would feel to have his best friend’s soft lips press against his own as he sat on his lap; how it would feel to have Dan push him onto his back on the bed as he ravished his neck with kisses and soft bites, pinning his wrists above his head with one hand as the other drifted down between his thighs...
Woah. Where the hell did that come from? Phil prayed to every deity imaginable that Dan wasn’t a mind reader as he shakily got back on the bed and attempted to hide his face in the blanket, ignoring Dan’s little amused chuckles as he watched him. He had absolutely no idea where his much-too-vivid lustful fantasy had generated from, and he most certainly didn’t want to grow on it.
“What’d you end up doing for your midterm project, Philly?” Dan asked as he rested a matte black folder full of paper on the table in the art classroom.
“I ended up doing some sketches at the dog park. Check it out!” Phil opened up his binder and showed Dan numerous drawings of various species of dogs he had seen. “Do you like them?”
“I love them! They’re so cute…” Dan giggled.
“Thanks… what did you do for yours?” Phil asked.
Almost immediately, Dan seemed to get extremely uncomfortable, awkwardly hugging the folder to his chest and looking down at the tabletop. “Um… I don’t really… want to…”
“Why not?” Phil frowned. “I’m not going to make fun of it, if that’s what you’re worried about…”
“No, that’s not it… I just really don’t want to show you, I’m sorry…” Dan seemed to shrink in on himself at this, squeezing the folder in discomfort. “I’m just not comfortable with it…”
“Uh… okay then…” Phil let out a little sigh, somewhat confused as he drummed his fingers on the table. A few of the other students had volunteered to present their projects to the rest of the class-- it was optional, thank god. Phil hated public speaking, so he was ever-thankful he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t have to. As he watched the students present their projects, he couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with Dan. Is he still worried I’m not going to like his art? He already knows I love it…
“Well, we still have time for one more person before class ends,” the teacher said from the front of the room, scanning the students seated before him. “How about you, Mr. Howell? Would you like to come up?”
Dan instantly stiffened up next to Phil, putting on a fake smile for the teacher out of nervousness. “I don’t know, sir…”
“Oh, nonsense. Please, come up.”
“...okay…” Dan got to his feet and slowly made his way to the front of the room, clutching his folder to his chest like a lifeline. He looked dreadfully uncomfortable, and Phil couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. However, he also felt a bit of intrigue as to what Dan’s project would be, and flashed Dan a little smile to let him know it would be okay.
“Uh… hi.” Dan awkwardly waved at the class, slowly opening up the folder and removing a thick stack of charcoal sketches. “So, ah… for my project, I did a series of sketches… of one of my friends. My best friend, actually…”
That sentence caused Phil to stop short, his eyes widening as he stared at Dan. Best friend? Does he mean me? His question was answered almost instantly as Dan held up one of the first sketches-- it was an extremely detailed drawing of him, wrapped up in a blanket in the midst of a fit of laughter. As Phil continued to watch in awe, Dan shuffled through the pictures and held each one up for a few seconds, every single one depicting Phil in a different scenario-- Phil doing homework while listening to his music, Phil sipping a drink in the coffee shop, Phil fast asleep on his bed. By the time Dan had showed off the last picture and frantically stuffed it back in the folder, almost the entire class was staring at Phil, causing him to blush quite a bit and hide his face behind his hands.
“Well… that was quite interesting. I’m glad to see you’ve been putting your talents to good use,” their teacher said after a short pause. “Good job.” Dan quickly handed the folder to the teacher before retreating back to his seat just as the bell rang. He avoided eye contact with Phil as he packed his things up and bolted out the door, not even waiting for his friend.
“Wait! Dan, come back!” Phil grabbed his backpack and hurried after Dan, managing to grab hold of his sleeve and pulling him into a corner. “Please, I just want to talk to you…”
“Let me go, Phil… we’re gonna be late for class.” Dan refused to look at Phil, weakly swatting at his hand in an attempt to make him release his grip. “Stop…”
“Dan, I’m not mad, I just want an explanation,” Phil frowned. “What were all those pictures about?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Dan huffed, his demeanor slowly beginning to switch from embarrassed to annoyed. “Just leave me alone…”
“But I just want to know… why did you draw all those pictures of me for your project?” Phil insisted. “I just want to know how it fit the prompt… I’m not beautiful…”
“Phil, stop!” Dan rather harshly tugged his arm out of Phil’s grip, causing the shorter male to flinch away. “Stop it! I said I don’t want to talk about it!”
“...I’m sorry, bear…” Phil whispered as he desperately tried not to cry. You made Dan upset… “I didn’t mean to, honestly…”
“Whatever.” Dan turned around and stormed off down the hall, leaving Phil alone on the verge of tears in the corner.
Dan didn’t come back to the dorm after classes. In fact, he didn’t come back until around nine at night, when it was almost pitch-black outside. Despite being bundled up in his duvet trying not to cry for the fifth time since art class that day, Phil was still able to hear the quiet click of the door opening and closing, accompanied by Dan’s soft footsteps as he entered the room. After several seconds, Dan sat down on the edge of the bed, his weight causing it to sink down slightly. Phil didn’t move, hoping Dan would think he was asleep, as he wasn’t in the mood for talking.
Soon, Dan kicked off his shoes and pulled back the covers, sliding in next to Phil. Phil expected to feel the familiar sensation of Dan’s strong arms wrapping around his waist and tugging him close, but it never happened. Eventually, he rolled over and looked at Dan’s curled-up figure next to him, squinting slightly in the darkness. “Dan?”
“I’m sorry.” Dan’s voice was slightly slurred from exhaustion, his hair an absolute wreck and his eyes rimmed by dark circles. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that… I know you were just curious.”
“I’m the one who should be apologizing… I shouldn’t have kept pestering you,” Phil sighed. He let his body go limp as Dan moved over to him, gently pressing his head against his chest as he continued to sniffle with tears. “I didn’t mean to upset you…”
“Hey, you’re alright, it’s okay…” Dan lifted Phil’s chin up, rubbing the tears from his eyes with a weak smile. “Please don’t cry…”
With a tiny squeak, Phil wrapped his arms around Dan, clinging on tight as the brunet did the same. “Are you still mad at me?”
“Not at all…” Dan reassured him. “I could never stay mad at you…”
“Thanks,” Phil smiled. However, on the inside, he was still deeply confused. I still don’t know what Dan thinks of me… yes, he keeps saying we’re “just friends”, but friends don’t try to kiss each other and call each other beautiful! With a sigh, he curled up in a little ball in Dan’s arms, thankful that his roommate had somehow already dozed off as he continued to ponder the circumstances. He definitely doesn’t just like me as a friend… does he have a crush on me?
Don’t be ridiculous, Phil… he obviously has a crush on you! Phil glanced up at Dan, admiring his adorable sleeping face. However, with one mystery cleared up came yet another-- he had absolutely no idea if he liked Dan in the same way. Obviously, he enjoyed the concept of Dan being romantic with him-- he absolutely loved thinking about being kissed… among other things … by Dan; however, he wasn’t sure what Dan wanted beyond that. With a huff, he buried his face in Dan’s shirt as he tried to fall asleep.
“Phil, stop worrying! You look fine…”
“But do people normally wear these kinds of things at parties? I feel like I’m not dressed-up enough,” Phil whined, anxiously tugging on the rolled-up sleeves of his light blue button-down shirt.
“Philly, trust me. Everyone there is going to be fucking somebody else or drunk out of their mind twenty minutes in. Your outfit is going to be the least of their concerns,” Dan insisted. “Besides, you’d look great no matter what you were wearing.”
“Thanks,” Phil smiled, deciding to return the compliment. “You look nice, too…”
“Aw, thank you!” Dan grinned, playfully spinning around with one hand rested on his hip. “You ready to go?”
“I’m ready if you are,” Phil smiled. “Wait, Dan, hold on a second…”
“What is it?”
“Well… if there’s gonna be alcohol there, I don’t want to drink any… we still need to drive back to campus, and I don’t want us to crash…” Phil admitted.
“That’s nothing to be upset about… besides, that way if a cop pulls us over, only one of us will get in trouble for underage drinking,” Dan shrugged. With a smile, he rested one hand against the frames of Phil’s glasses, briefly changing them to blue before changing them back to black. “Now are you ready, muffin?”
“Muffin? That’s a new one!” Phil let out a soft flustered chuckle, praying that Dan couldn’t tell that he was blushing. “Where did that come from?”
“Hm… I don’t know, actually. You just seem really small and squishy today… like a muffin, I guess.” Before Phil could question this, Dan linked their arms together and pulled him out to the car with an excited little giggle.
Things were an absolute mess within the first hour. The music was blasting so loud that Phil could feel it vibrating in his feet as he stood in the kitchen of the crowded house, awkwardly clutching a drink in a red plastic cup. The adjoining living room was packed full of couples bumping against each other to the tune of an obviously very sexual song, and Phil tried his best not to watch the multitude of people making out with each other. Dan had disappeared into the crowd five seconds after passing through the front door, and Phil could occasionally hear his familiar giggles and laughs from the laundry room behind him-- he had no idea what he was doing in there, but he had a feeling it involved some sort of drug. With a sigh, Phil sat on top of the kitchen counter, swinging his legs as he stared into the ice cubes floating in his water. A sudden squeal emanated from the laundry room, loud enough to be heard over the pounding music. His curiosity triggered, Phil left the kitchen and walked down the hallway a few feet before opening the door of the laundry room.
Dan and several other boys were packed into the tiny room, many empty beer cans littering the floor around them. They all seemed only moderately drunk-- well, that is, everyone except Dan. The brunet was lying on his back on top of the washing machine, giggling and squealing with laughter for seemingly no reason at all. Frowning, Phil stepped into the room, pushing through the crowd of boys until he reached his roommate. “Dan?”
“ Phil! ” Almost instantly, Dan scrambled up and tackled Phil into a hug hard enough to throw him off balance, his back hitting the wall as the hysterical brunet clung to him. “Phil, Phil, Phil… where’ve you been?”
“In the kitchen… are you drunk?” Phil sighed, even though he already knew the answer.
“Nope! You’re drunk.” Dan booped Phil’s nose before bursting into laughter again. His voice was greatly slurred, and his breath was completely tainted by the scent of alcohol. “Philly, Phil, Phil, guess what…”
“You’ve got a cute ass.”
“Dan!” Phil looked around at the other boys for some kind of support, but it was clear that none of them were in a sober enough state to help. “Don’t say that!”
“Why not? It’s true…” Dan insisted in a singsong voice. “You’re so cute… I just wanna squeeze your little butt, it’s so adorable…”
“Oh my god, Dan…”
“Mm, Phil…” Dan giggled and ran his hands through Phil’s hair, his eyes bright and slightly unfocused. “You’re like… prettier than a… tennis ball.”
“Dan… you’re gonna be really hungover tomorrow,” Phil sighed. “How about we go home, okay? I don’t want you to be sick…”
“Oh, is he your boyfriend ?” one of the drunken boys on the floor jeered, playfully slapping Phil’s thigh as the noiret tried to hold Dan up.
“Hey, cut it out!” Phil let out a cry of protest and attempted to drag Dan towards the exit; however, the boy got to his feet and blocked the way out. “Come on, stop it…”
“Surely you don’t want to settle for someone like him , do you?” The boy reached out and grabbed Phil’s wrist, tugging him closer and leaning close to his face. “Maybe a night with me would change your mind…”
Thankfully, Dan may have been drunk out of his mind, but he was still able to squirm loose from Phil’s arms and punch the other boy square in the face. “Fuck off! This is my Philly, got it?” He continued to shout profanities at the other boy as Phil dragged him out of the room and towards the front door, only stopping once the cool night air had hit his face. “When did it get cold?”
“It’s January, Dan… it’s going to be a bit cold,” Phil replied as he led Dan towards their car parked a block away.
“Mm, maybe we could snuggle?” Dan giggled, pressing his face against Phil’s neck playfully.
“Maybe… if you let me take care of you when we get back to our dorm.”
“I’ll be good for you… anything for you, sweet cheeks…”
“What’s with all the nicknames?” Phil chuckled. Even though Dan was being extremely inappropriate, seeing him drunk was still quite amusing. “First ‘muffin’, now… that. Why is that?”
“Because I can’t think of just one nickname for you… you’re too cute for just one,” Dan insisted.
“Is that so?”
“How many nicknames do you have for me?”
“Let’s see… I don’t call you all of them to your face, do they still count?”
“I guess so.”
“Uh… pumpkin, sweetheart, munchkin, gorgeous, angel, baby doll, sweet cheeks, cutiepie… I can’t think of any more, but I have more!” Dan squealed. “Which one do you like best?”
“Um… angel, I guess…” Phil mumbled, feeling quite flustered at the onslaught of nicknames Dan had conveniently provided. In truth, he would love if Dan called him any of those cute names… but friends didn’t do that. Friends didn’t call each other by loving, affectionate nicknames… did they? I don’t know how this is supposed to work…
“Angel it is, then… that’s a cute one…” Dan smiled up at Phil before tripping over his own feet and face-planting into the pavement. Before Phil could ask if he was okay, Dan started giggling again, still face-down on the ground. “My lip is red!”
“What? Let me see…” Phil crouched down and helped Dan to his feet, thankful to see that his only injuries consisted of a bloody lip and two scraped knees. “Please be careful, bear… I don’t want to go to the emergency room tonight…”
“I’m sorry…” Dan stuck out his lip like a small child that had just been scolded for misbehaving, timidly clinging to Phil’s forearms as he shakily got to his feet. “I can’t help it… can’t you just do your magic lifty-thingy to carry me?”
“You’re too heavy! I can only lift tiny things…”
“Are you calling me fat? Rude…” Dan let out a soft laugh as he clung onto Phil’s shoulders.
“No, I’m serious! If I lift big things, I could hurt myself…” Phil somehow managed to get Dan back to the car, easing him into the back seat and telling him to lie down. “Don’t sit up, okay? Just try to get some rest…”
“Anything for you, angel…” Dan winked up at Phil, causing the noiret to blush. “Aw, you’re all pink now! Are you turning into a flamingo?”
“Sure. Let’s go with that.”
“And you’re drunk,” Phil chuckled, looking down at Dan, who was curled up in a little ball at the headboard of the bed. “Very, very drunk.”
“Thank you!” Dan laughed, hiding his face in his pillow. “But you’re prettier… than I’m drunk. And if I’m super drunk… then you’re prettier than, like, everything.” He crawled over to Phil, nuzzling his head against his side. Phil let out a soft squeal-- his sides were extremely ticklish, and having Dan’s fluffy curls brushing against his skin through his shirt was almost enough to make him burst into hysterics. Dan immediately noticed this, a smirk making its way over his features. “Ohh… is someone ticklish? I think so…”
“Maybe…” Phil cut himself off with a gasp and a burst of laughter as Dan practically tackled him to the bed, playfully digging his fingers into his sides. “Ah! Dan, that tickles!”
“That’s the point!” Dan kept it up for a few more seconds before climbing off Phil, letting him catch his breath. “Cute… your face is all pink again…”
“Oh, shut up. I’m not cute…” He doesn’t mean that. He’s drunk .
“Yes you are!” Dan whined. “You’re adorable…”
“Yes, really! You’re so perfect…” Before Phil knew what was happening, Dan was crawling towards him once more, resting one hand on his waist as his eyes brightened. “You’re… pretty, Phil, you’re so pretty…”
“You really think so?” Phil breathed out, wrapping one arm around Dan’s waist and resting his other hand on the curve of his jaw.
“Of course I do… you’re amazing…”
“Oh… Dan…” Phil allowed Dan to pull him into his lap, leaning down towards his face and wrapping his legs around him. Even though he wasn’t drunk, he could barely think, his brain buzzing with excitement as Dan caressed his skin, their foreheads bumping together as the gap between them shrunk in size. “Y’know, I think you’re really pretty too…”
“Thanks, angel…” With that, Dan let his eyes flutter closed as he leaned forward all the way, tugging Phil forward by his waist as their lips finally met. Phil instantly froze-- he knew that Dan was probably just drunk and that’s why he was doing all of this, but he just couldn’t push aside how soft his friend’s lips felt against his own, even though they tasted like alcohol. That given, it still didn’t stop him from sliding his hands up into Dan’s hair and playing with his curls. It didn’t stop him from wrapping his arms around Dan’s waist as he was gently pushed on his back onto the bed. And it certainly didn’t stop him from shamelessly whimpering when the brunet leaned down and began kissing along his collarbone.
“...you’re doing the blushy thing again,” Dan whispered.
“You like the blushy thing?”
“I love it.” Dan cut himself off with another little giggle fit, reminding Phil just how drunk he was. “Oh fuck … you’re so cute…”
“You’ve been saying that a lot…” Phil whispered, lacing his fingers with Dan’s as he gazed up at his friend, already missing the sensation of soft lips pressing against his own. “I guess you really do mean it even though you’re drunk, huh?”
“I’m not drunk, you’re drunk…” Dan pouted.
“Your mum’s drunk.”
“I drank your mum’s dad.”
“What does that even mean?” Phil giggled.
“I don’t know… but can I please kiss you again?”
“Y’know what?” Phil took hold of the front of Dan’s shirt, pulling him down so that their noses bumped together. “Since you asked so nicely… kiss me as much as you want.”
With a smile, Dan did just that, this kiss being significantly rougher and sloppier than the first. Yes, their teeth clashed together a few times, and one of Dan’s knees was pressing against Phil’s crotch the whole time (and not in a sexy way), and he still tasted like cheap beer direct from an alcoholic uncle’s secret stash, but it still felt amazing. By the time they broke apart, a string of saliva still connecting them, Phil felt hot and tingly all over, his thighs quivering on either side of Dan’s waist as he clung to his shirtfront. “How on earth are you so good at kissing?”
“Probably from sucking cock.”
“ Dan! ”
“I’m just pulling a joke, silly!” Dan cackled. “I’ve never sucked one… but I want to! You know what I mean?”
“I think so…” Phil smiled. Even though Dan was the drunk one, he still felt extremely giddy and hyper, all of his senses amplified to seemingly impossible levels. “Hm, you’re funny when you’re drunk…”
“Hey! I’m funny when I’m not drunk, too! I know jokes!” Dan pouted. After a slight pause, he said, “Spaghetti.”
“Okay then…” Phil chuckled. “We should probably get to sleep, huh?”
“But I still wanna kiss you…”
“In that case, we’ll just have to…” Phil paused. You can’t tell him that he’ll be able to kiss you in the morning… hell, he’s not going to remember any of this in the morning! “...fine. One more kiss before you go to bed, alright?”
“Fine…” Dan sighed, reluctantly crawling beneath the covers and pulling them up to his chin, looking like a grumpy toddler who had been sentenced to a time-out. Phil couldn’t help but “aw” at this before sliding under the blankets next to him, leaning over and giving him one more loving kiss on the lips. Dan immediately brightened at this, his cheeks turning an adorable pink as he looked up at Phil happily. “Thanks, angel…”
With a giggle, Phil curled up in a little ball, pressing his face against Dan’s chest as he hugged him tightly. I know he’ll forget all of this in the morning… but I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t forget. “Hey, Dan?”
“Um… I love you, Dan. I just thought I’d tell you that…” Phil murmured.
At first, Dan didn’t reply; however, Phil soon heard his whispered response. “I love you too, Philly…”
Just as Phil had predicted, Dan didn’t remember a single thing from the previous night in the morning. However, he did have a massive hangover, and spent most of the day lying in bed alternating between whining about how his head hurt and puking into a bucket Phil had “borrowed” from the biology classroom. Phil tried his best to comfort him, but Dan was inconsolable for the majority of the day.
Once Dan had fully recovered, things were more or less normal-- but not from Phil’s perspective. He had tried to convince himself that the compliments, the kissing, the “I love you’s” were all just because Dan was drunk, and that he didn’t really mean it. But he was starting to doubt that proposition more and more every day. Whenever Dan so much as looked at him, he couldn’t help but recall the events of what had happened and desperately wish for more. It didn’t help that Valentine’s Day was in a matter of weeks, since it just helped to rub in the fact that he was hopelessly pining.
Soon, Phil started to come up with a plan. Alright… I’ll just get him some chocolates or something and tell him how I feel… everyone likes chocolate, right? I know he’s gonna say yes… he said I had a cute ass, for God’s sake! Then on Valentine’s Day itself we can go out to eat or something nice like that. Feeling semi-confident, he left a sleeping Dan on the bed and borrowed his car-- hopefully he would understand.
It was relatively crowded in the grocery store, which didn’t help Phil’s anxiety in the slightest. Partially hiding his face in the collar of his hoodie, he made his way over to the relatively well-stocked candy aisle, draping the handle of his basket over his arm as he examined the numerous boxes of chocolate stacked in front of him. He eventually decided on one that had a variety of flavors and was pretty much completely allergy-free, since Dan had never explicitly told him what he was allergic to, and he didn’t feel like waking him up to ask him before he left. As he put the chocolate in his basket and turned around, he stopped short when he saw a tiny freshman girl standing before him, looking as though she had been there for quite a while. “Uh… hi?”
“Can I ask you something?” the girl asked in a hushed voice, as though she was scared of being overheard.
“So, uh… one of my friends told me that you… make potions? Is that right?”
“Well, yeah…” Phil wasn’t surprised to hear this girl’s question-- he had told several people about his hobby, and he had received several requests, most of them consisting among the lines of ‘whatever you can make that has the most caffeine in it.’ “Why? Do you want me to make one for you?”
“Uh, yeah… somebody told me that they want one, but they’re too shy to talk to you…” the girl mumbled. “They want a love potion… they gave me money to pay for it, too. Is that okay?”
“Sure! Meet me back at my dorm and I’ll make it for you, okay?” Phil grinned.
“Okay! Thanks…” the girl smiled before scurrying off.
Dan seemed vaguely distant during art class. Whenever Phil tried to do anything remotely flirty with him, he was met with no response in the slightest. He tried everything he could to get his attention-- resting a hand on his shoulder whenever he talked to him, inserting innuendos into every sentence possible, even sliding a hand up his leg and gripping his thigh through his jeans. But no matter what he tried, Dan seemed uninterested. When the bell rang, signalling the end of classes for the day, Dan got to his feet as though being controlled remotely, grabbing his bag and setting off at a brisk pace down the hall. Frowning, Phil hurried after him, watching intently as the brunet looked around, as if in search for a specific person. Is Dan ignoring me? Did I do something to make him upset or something? Oh, I hope he’s not mad at me…
“Jamie!” Phil’s thoughts were cut off when he saw Dan running towards a boy Phil had never seen before-- even taller than Dan, with short brown hair and green eyes. As Phil watched from a few feet away, Jamie scooped Dan into his arms, then-- to his absolute shock-- kissed him square on the mouth. Even worse, Dan seemed to be enjoying it, eagerly clinging to his shoulders as the two made out like they would die if their lips weren’t touching. Phil could feel everything around him seemingly fade out, as though the only thing that mattered in the universe was the sight before him-- the boy who he loved, and who he had assumed loved him back, kissing somebody else. This wasn’t what was supposed to be happening-- he was supposed to be holding Dan, he was supposed to be kissing him, he was supposed to tell him that he loved him. But he wasn’t-- somebody else was. He could feel tears welling in his eyes, but he ignored them, too focused on the spectacle a few feet in front of him.
“Uh, do you mind? It’s rude to stare…” Dan suddenly said, pulling away just long enough to glare at Phil before kissing Jamie again. This was enough to burst the floodgates-- breaking into hysterical sobs, Phil bolted out of the building, running as fast as he could back to the dorms. By the time he got up the stairs and into his room, he could barely breathe, already on the verge of a panic attack. Dropping to his knees, he tried his best to calm down, but he found it next to impossible. He knew he should have been happy that Dan seemed to be in a happy relationship-- but it just wasn’t right. For starters, he was supposed to be dating him! And even more confusing was the fact that Dan had never mentioned this Jamie person in his life. These two factors combined made it even more painful for him, an actual stabbing sensation emanating out from his chest as he sobbed into his hands.
Phil managed to stop crying after a while, but it didn’t make him feel any better. He knew something was definitely wrong with Dan-- he had never mentioned Jamie to Phil previously, and suddenly now he chose to be kissy and affectionate with him? Phil found it highly unlikely that Dan had a secret boyfriend that he had kept from Phil until February. And even if he did, why would he insist that he loved Phil? Then, suddenly, it hit him-- the girl in the grocery store. She must have used that love potion I made for her to make them like each other! That’s why it was so sudden…
Okay, calm down, Phil tried to reassure himself. The potion I gave her only lasts for two weeks… once it wears off, then I can just tell Dan what happened, and everything will be fine! But I need to figure out why she did it…
“I’m sorry!” The girl-- who apparently was named Catharine-- cried, hiding her face in her hands. Phil had managed to find Cath after running around the dorm for quite a while, and it turned out she hadn’t asked for the potion willingly. “Honestly, I’m telling the truth… those three bullies told me that if I didn’t get it for them they would hurt me! I’m so sorry!”
“It’s okay, I believe you!” Phil let out a little sigh, sinking into a chair in Cath’s dorm room. “But what am I supposed to do? I can’t just wait two weeks until that stupid love potion wears off…”
“I don’t know… is there some way you can make it wear off early?”
“I don’t think so… there might be, but I haven’t tried…”
“Let me think…” Cath mused to herself. “Maybe if you try flirting with Dan? Maybe that would snap him out of that…”
“I tried that, and nothing happened…”
“Huh… maybe try kissing him? I know it sounds cliche, but it might do something…” Cath suggested.
“It might work… I’ll try it,” Phil shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt to try…”
However, finding a convenient opportunity to kiss Dan was easier said than done. He couldn’t exactly make out with him in the middle of class, and whenever they had free time, Dan was practically attached to Jamie at the hip, and had him spend the night in his dorm all the time, which eliminated the option of kissing him in his sleep. (Even then, he figured it was more likely to work if Dan was awake.) Before he knew it, nine days had passed, and he was no closer to accomplishing his goal. At this point, he figured it was best to wait out the remaining five days and explain everything to him-- it seemed like the safest option. But that didn’t mean it hurt him any less.
Phil knew something was wrong the instant he reached his dorm room. And that “something” were the three bullies standing right in front of the door. What are they doing here? In an instant, he turned on his heel and darted down the stairwell, praying that he hadn’t been spotted. This couldn’t mean anything good-- and to make matters worse, Dan was on a date with Jamie, and couldn’t be there to protect him.
“Hey! Get over here!”
Shit . Phil immediately started bolting down the stairs, stumbling over his own feet in his haste to get away; however, he had barely gotten a few feet away before he felt someone grab his arm and tug him backwards hard enough to cause him to fall flat on his back. He slammed into the steps with enough force to knock the breath out of him, letting out a soft whine of pain and curling in on himself. He glanced up just in time to see Jasper looming over him with a smirk, and he attempted to squirm away, but his actions were halted by the hand still on his arm. “What the hell do you want?”
“Get up,” Jasper replied, not answering the question as he hauled Phil to his feet. “Here’s the deal… you’re going to get in that room, and you’re going to make another love potion for us. This time, it’s going to be the strongest one you can make.”
“Why should I?” Phil snapped, managing to pull loose from Jasper’s grip. He kept talking to keep the three other boys distracted as he pulled his phone out of his pocket, managing to dial Dan’s number without looking. “If I’m remembering correctly, you gave it to my friend without his consent and made him start liking somebody he’s never met before…”
“That doesn’t matter,” Damian snapped. “Get in there and make it for us.”
“Why should I?” Phil knew Dan had picked up, since he could just barely hear his muted and confused voice faintly coming out of the speaker. He began speaking slightly louder than usual so Dan could hear him, not wanting to put it on speakerphone since he would be found out. “You guys need to get out of here and leave me alone…”
“Not happening. And why are you talking like that? That’s weird…” Lucas frowned.
“I’m not talking like anything!” Phil suddenly noticed that all of the bullies were facing the same direction-- and there was a full recycling bin right behind him. He knew that if he tried to pick up large objects he could potentially injure himself, but he doubted any sort of damage he could inflict on himself due to his levitation ability was greater than what the bullies could do to him-- he didn’t know what all of their powers were, but he knew for a fact that Jasper could burn things and Damian could disintegrate things, neither of which could result in a positive outcome for him. Concentrating carefully, he attempted to levitate the recycling bin sitting nearby, still talking fast and quick in order to keep the three other boys distracted. “Seriously! What did I ever do to you? And why would you do something like that to Dan?”
“You just looked really annoying from the beginning, to be completely honest,” Lucas shrugged. “And that Dan person kept hanging around you and keeping us from coming near you… so we figured we’d get him out of the way, y’know?”
“That still doesn’t explain why you started being mean to me in the first place!” Phil protested. He had managed to get the recycling bin about a foot off the ground without being caught, but it wasn’t easy-- he was feeling quite light-headed, which wasn’t that much of a surprise. The bin was about the size of a standard-size laundry basket, much larger than the things he was supposed to be picking up. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
Several things suddenly happened very quickly, and all at the same time. It started when Dan started yelling into the phone, and although it wasn’t on speakerphone, it was still loud enough for all three bullies to pick up on it. At the same time, Phil managed to get the bin high enough in the air for it to soar towards Jasper and hit him square in the back in the head. As Damien ran towards Jasper in an attempt to assess his injuries from the flying bin, Lucas lunged towards Phil in an attempt to keep him from running away. But Phil wasn’t running anywhere-- the instant the recycling bin had hit Jasper, the noiret collapsed to the floor, his head spinning. The sheer effort of lifting the bin had completely drained him of energy, immense pain rushing through his body as he tried to recover.
“Pick him up,” Jasper huffed, staggering to his feet and rubbing the back of his head from pain. “I don’t care if he’s fucking comatose rght now… he’s making that potion for us.”
“No! Let go of me!” Phil protested, weakly struggling as Lucas dragged hm to his feet, fishing his keys out of his pocket and unlocking the door of the dorm room before dragging him in. “I’m not doing anything for you…”
“Oh really?” Jasper snapped his fingers, causing a relatively large flame to appear and hover in the palm of his hand. “I think you will…” He moved his hand close to Phil’s face, close enough for him to feel the heat bouncing off his face. “I don’t think you would like it if you got burned, would you?”
“Stop it!” Phil begged, shaking his head and trying with all his might to squirm away. “Get away from me!” He let out a scream of pain as Jasper lowered his hand just enough for the hem of his sweater to light on fire, the flames already burning his stomach. “Stop! Put it out, put it out !” He tried with all his might to struggle loose, but the grips on his arms were much too tight. “Please, make it stop! It hurts!”
“You want me to make it stop? Tell us how to make the love potion. Otherwise, your stomach will be looking a bit burnt,” Jasper smirked.
Suddenly, af if his words had caused the heavens to open, there was a crack of thunder as a rain cloud appeared right in the room. Phil heaved a sigh of relief as the resulting downpour doused the flames, turning around and squealing when he caught a glimpse of his roommate in the doorway. “Dan!”
“Get away from him,” Dan said in a surprisingly calm tone to the three other boys. “I better not see you three near him again, got it?”
“Or what?” Jasper smirked.
“ Got it ?” Dan repeated, his voice rising to a yell.
“...got it,” Jasper mumbled.
As the three sopping wet bullies made their way out of the dorm room, Dan pushed past them and ran to Phil, promptly scooping him up in a hug and squeezing him like a teddy bear. “Phil! Fuck, I’m so sorry… are you okay? Did you get burned?”
“I don’t know…”
“Can I see?” As Phil lifted up the hem of his sweater, Dan managed a small smile. “It doesn’t look like it… I’m so glad you’re okay! I wanted to strangle those guys…”
“Yeah…” However, Phil still didn’t feel happy, even though Dan had saved him. Before he knew it, he had started crying, hiding his face in his sleeves as he practically choked on his words trying to speak. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry, I just…”
“Hey, what’s wrong? Did they do something else to you?” Dan frowned, gently pulling Phil’s hands away from his face. “Please don’t cry…”
“You won’t understand…”
“Come on, Philly, please… I’m your friend. Let me know what’s bugging you…” However, the word ‘friend’ simply made Phil start crying even harder, and Dan sighed in slight frustration. “Come on, Phil, what is it? You’ve been acting this way ever since I started dating Jamie…”
“Yeah, no shit, Dan!” Phil cried, angrily rubbing the tears from his eyes with his sleeve. Before he could convince himself otherwise, he stood up on his tiptoes, grabbing the front of Dan’s jacket and tugging him down into a kiss. He could feel Dan let out a muffled gasp and stiffen in surprise, but he ignored it, keeping their lips firmly pressed together until he had to come up for air. He was panting at this point, but he didn’t care-- he was too busy watching Dan’s face for any sign of recognition. But nothing happened-- Dan still seemed confused, his brow curved down in a frown and his eyes darting around the room. With a sigh, Phil looked down at the floor, a sense of defeat flooding his senses as he tried not to start crying again. “I’m so stupid… I don’t know why I thought that would work…”
A split second later, Phil let out a squeal of surprise as Dan lifted his chin up, briefly smiling at him before sliding his hands down to his waist as he kissed him once more. This one felt different from all the ones they had shared before-- with both of them completely sober, and neither of them in doubt about what they were doing, Phil quite literally felt fireworks bursting in his chest, his eyes widening with shock before fluttering closed, his trembling hands snaking up to Dan’s shoulders and holding on tight, as though he would disappear if he let go. Nothing else mattered in that moment-- the only important thing was Dan, who was kissing him and holding him tight and causing his heart to throb in the best way possible.
When Dan pulled away after several beautifully long seconds, Phil couldn’t help but smile, pushing a few of his roommate’s curls out of his face with a timid laugh. “Well, then… that was nice…”
“Definitely…” Dan took the opportunity to playfully bump noses with Phil, tugging him closer and resting his hands on the small of his back. When Phil blushed at this, he chuckled quietly and quickly kissed the top of his head. “You look cute when you’re flustered… come to think of it, you look cute all the time…”
“Aw, Dan… you’re so sappy…” Phil smiled. “Wait, does that mean…”
“Did it work? Do you like Jamie anymore?”
“Who’s that?” Dan frowned.
“Oh, thank god,” Phil sighed, pressing his head against Dan’s chest in relief. “I thought I’d lost you…” Upon looking up and seeing Dan’s confused expression, he managed a tiny laugh. “I’ll tell you later… we kinda have to figure something else out, huh?”
“You could say that…” Dan shrugged. “So, uh… do you wanna go out with me? I mean, if you don’t want to, that’s fine, I just assumed because you kissed me that meant…”
“Of course I do, silly!” Phil squealed, excitedly bouncing up and down as he laced Dan’s fingers with his own. As Dan opened his arms to hug him, Phil practically dove towards him, wrapping his arms around his shoulders as his legs straddled either side of his waist. Dan somehow managed to grab him in time to keep him from falling off, quickly sitting down on the edge of the bed so he could support his weight. Phil couldn’t help but playfully hide his face in Dan’s shoulder, his fingers moving in little circles on his back. “Dan? Can I tell you something?”
“Um… I love you,” Phil replied. “Like, a whole lot…”
“Aw, Phil… I love you too.” Dan curved his arms around Phil’s back in a protective gesture, as though it was enough to keep him safe from everything in the universe. As Phil lifted his head to smile at him, he promptly leaned up and kissed him on his left cheek. “Cutie…”
“Bear…” Phil immediately hid behind his sleeves as he blushed, peeking out at Dan from between his fingers with one open eye. “...you really like me back?”
“Of course I do, angel…” Dan smiled. “Would I do this if I didn’t like you?” Ignoring Phil’s little squeal as he deposited him on the bed, he immediately straddled his hips and laced his fingers with his own before tenderly kissing him once more. When he pulled away, Phil made a surprised noise, rubbing his thumb over Dan’s left hand as he smiled up at the brunet. Dan giggled, a barely noticeable blush making its way across his pale features as his trailed his right hand through Phil’s hair. “Your face is all pink…”
“So is yours…” Phil replied, poking Dan’s dimple and laughing when this caused him to blush even more. “Aww, you’re so cute!”
“Oh, stop…” Dan whined, attempting to hide his red face by burying it in Phil’s chest. “You’re embarrassing me…”
“I can’t help it! You’re too cute for me to stop…”
Dan let out a flustered sigh, wrapping his arms around Phil’s torso before peeking up at him. His face was still an adorable peach hue, and his eyes were big and round like a puppy. “Angel? Are you gonna stay with me forever?”
“Definitely, bear…” Phil smiled, tangling his fingers in Dan’s hair and bumping noses with him. “I promise.”
AYEEE IT'S THE FINAL CHAPTER :) Please send me new story ideas over on my instagram (@floral_hissing) as I currently have severe writers block... thanks! :)