“get the hell away from my apartment, mason.” phil grumbles when he sees who’s at the door.
“let me see her.”
“you saw haven on tuesday, we agreed that tuesdays were your days.” phil retorts. he goes and checks up on his little girl sleeping in the other room.
“i’m taking this to court.” mason says.
“what the hell? the whole reason why we broke up was because you weren’t taking care of her at all! must i remind you about her broken arm?” phil’s trying not to wake haven up, but he’s angry right now.
“she’s still my kid.” mason points out.
“you said you wouldn’t fight me for custody! whatever, i’ll see you in court.” phil says, slamming the door in his face.
haven wakes up kicking and screaming, so he rushes to attend to her needs.
phil’s always wanted children of his own, but he never really set out to have kids this early in life. he’s only twenty-four, and haven was already two. back when he got pregnant, he wasn’t out as trans and both mason and phil were drunk on their graduation night. phil didn’t really know mason that well, other than as a former linguistics classmate.
phil cried for a long time, wondering what to do with the baby. there was a plethora of options, but phil decided to just have the kid before he started going on hormones. phil told mason about it when he was absolutely sure about keeping the baby, and they got together for a while after that.
things were fine for a while, until phil got a phone call on his way home from work telling him that his daughter is at the hospital for a broken arm after falling down the stairs. mason wasn’t in the apartment at all during that time, even though he had promised phil that he would watch her that day.
phil kicked him out, and he complied. it’s been half a year since then, and now phil’s extremely stressed out over this. he doesn’t get any sleep that night, and it’s evident when he drops haven off before work the next morning.
“what’s wrong, child?” his mum asks.
“nothing, she was just yelling a lot.” phil lies.
“philip michael, i can see through your bullshit.” kath tells him.
“mum! not around haven! also, i regret telling you my new middle name.”
“i would’ve found out whether you told me or not.”
phil laughs at that. “of course you would.”
“but i don’t really have time to tell you about it right now. work starts in half an hour.” he says, sipping coffee from the travel mug his mum handed him.
“alright. just don’t act too moody teaching today.” kath kisses her son’s forehead and phil heads off to work now.
he wasn’t very focused on teaching today, and he kept yawning. but he powered through the powerpoint notes with a redbull before lunch time.
phil’s friend pj, a fellow english teacher, notices the eyebags underneath phil’s eyes.
“did haven keep you up again?” he asks.
“no. her father is fighting me for custody now apparently.” phil groans, sticking his fork in his lunch.
“oh, i’m sorry. do you need a lawyer?”
“yeah, but i was gonna look for one online later tonight. i’ll just grade the student’s essays tomorrow.” phil pouts.
“my roommate is a family lawyer! he’s been looking for a case for a while now.” pj mentions.
phil’s eyes light up at that. pj hands him the business card, and phil puts it in his wallet.
later that evening, he calls pj’s roommate to set up an appointment. he finds out that his name is dan howell, from the voicemail box. so he leaves a message before going off to grade essays while haven is preoccupied with her dolls.
dan returns his call the next morning, luckily during his prep period, and they set up a meeting for saturday evening.
the meeting goes surprisingly well. dan is a pleasant person, and he goes over everything that could possibly be used against him in the court, from his gender identity to his job. but dan promises that he’ll make sure that he wins.
haven wakes up sometime during the meeting, and she says hello to dan. dan smiles at her, saying hello and asking questions. haven answers them, as best as she can for a two year old.
meetings are a little bit frequent once there’s a set court date. dan usually comes over in the afternoon, after he’s picked haven up from his mum’s, and they’ll have dinner together before he puts haven down for a nap. they discuss business for a little while, before haven inevitably wakes up and ropes dan into looking at whatever she’s fixated on.
phil finds it adorable, but he shakes the thought out of his head. he has a case to win, and if he pursues anything with his lawyer that would be a big mistake.
there’s one night where the two of them fall asleep on the couch together watching tv after haven falls asleep for her nap. they didn’t really wanna do anything business related right now, since it had been covered in previous meetings. dan was just completely used to the routine now, and phil had forgotten that they would just see each other at the courtroom.
nonetheless, they hang out together that evening, and it’s quite nice.
phil rubs his eyes and checks the clock to see that it’s half past midnight.
“hey dan, wake up.” phil says, nudging his shoulder.
“what time is it?” dan says, his voice deeper than normal.
“past midnight. don’t go, it’s raining hard tonight, and plus there aren’t any cabs at this hour. you can sleep in my bedroom, i’ll stay here on the couch.” phil says. he heads to the closet in the hallway to grab the extra pillow and blanket stored there.
“um, excuse me, that’s your bed, i wouldn’t want to impose.” dan says.
“you’re the one staying over, please, i insist, i’ll stay on the couch.”
“no, i’ll stay on the couch.”
they’re bickering about it now, with an overlapping “yes i am” and “no you’re not”.
“fine! we’re sharing the bed!” dan says, giving up.
phil turns bright red at that.
“get your mind out of the gutter, phil.” he tells himself.
a few days later, the court date comes around, and mason’s lawyer is an absolute bitch. she picks apart at phil’s job as her first argument, saying that teachers don’t have great pay, and that it’s not enough to support a family if other teachers are bitching about it and going on strikes. she also points out that phil’s gone during the day, which is inconvenient for haven.
the judge says that it was mostly an irrelevant point, and moves on to the next topic. she brings up the fact that mason is almost always at home, which means that he’s readily available to take care of the child. dan just scoffs at that and brings up the hospital visit.
the lady picks apart at phil’s gender identity next. it was a harsh blow, and he knew that mason wasn’t great about it, but phil can’t believe that he and his lawyer would be low enough to use that against him.
he tries hard not to cry and have a panic attack. phil can’t even hear what dan is saying anymore, he’s just counting from 1 to 20 and back again hoping that it will calm him down.
it does, for the meantime.
there’s a recess while the jury convenes. dan puts a hand on his shoulder.
“hey, i hope you’re doing alright.”
“i’m not. i just really want this to blow over so that i could go back to teaching and taking care of her.” phil pouts.
dan pulls phil into a hug.
“it’s okay, you’ll be okay. i know you’ll win this.”
he was right. when the court is called back into session, the judge announces that phil’s won the case. he’s so happy that he could kiss someone.
and he does. he kisses dan while he’s rambling about it on the way to his mum’s house to pick haven up. they’re both blushing.
phil quickly apologizes and moves onto something else before dan could say anything though.
phil introduces dan to his mum, and she hugs him very tightly as a way of thanking him for letting phil keep his daughter. phil laughs and tells her to tone it down a notch, but dan just waves it off, saying that it’s fine.
haven’s asleep in the back, and phil’s stopped in the parking lot in front of dan’s apartment building, dropping him off because phil’s nice and won’t let dan take a cab when it could potentially be unsafe.
“hey, um, i hope this isn’t too forward but i like you, and i’ve grown attached to haven ever since i started working on this case. would you like to go out with me?”
“i don’t think anything could be as forward as me kissing you earlier today.” phil laughs.
dan grins. “is that a yes?”
“of course it’s a yes.” phil nods, locking their lips together.