It’s becoming a weekly occurrence that Dan and his friends all do the same thing every Friday night. There’s an LGBTQ+ nightclub slash bar local to where Dan lives that they frequent all the time, The Moon Under Water. It’s a small quaint place with LGBT flags on every wall, obviously being there as it’s a gay bar, with a dance floor in the middle. Dan can’t say he often leaves the bar stools but he watches as his friends dance the night away.
That’s where they are going tonight and Dan has the same struggle he has every night. What does he wear; it’s between a black button-down shirt and black ripped skinny jeans or a black band tee and black ripped skinny jeans. Either is a look, a look that Dan wears all too much.
“Amelia, can you come here for a second?” Dan shouts as he runs to his bedroom door to allow his scream to reach the other side of the flat over the pounding music coming from the lounge.
Before Dan has a second to turn back around to his clothes all sprawled out on his double bed, Amelia comes padding into his room with a glass of coke and something alcoholic, Dan is certain. Dan would be lying if he said Amelia didn’t look absolutely stunning right now and if Dan wasn’t a complete fucking gay man, maybe he’d find her attractive with her ashy grey curly hair down to her shoulders and brown eyes that remind him of how he likes his coffee.
But he is a giant fucking queer with absolutely no attraction to girls, so she’s just going to have to settle with being his best friend. Not that she is settling remotely in any way because she’s not single and she’s, in fact, dating Dan’s other best friend, Sophia. She’s a cute ginger-haired girl with blue eyes that steal the room, but if anyone told her Dan had said that she’d skin his kneecaps.
They both steal the room. A couple of absolutely gorgeous girls taking on the world.
“What do you want?” Amelia slurs her words as she walks confidently into Dan’s room in a pretty little black dress with slits on the torso showing her pale skin and tattooed hipbone.
“I don’t know what to wear,” Dan says as he bites his lip looking at the clothes before him.
“Let me guess, it’s between black clothes or black clothes?”
“Okay okay, I get it. Just help me pick,” Dan mutters as he raises his hand to shove off Amelia’s smirky comment.
Dan quickly regrets asking such an intoxicated person for fashion advice because instead of actually helping, she just shoves the clothes out of the way and falls on her back on his bed.
Dan sighs as he grabs the first outfit that wasn’t creased thanks to Amelia, which happens to be the Muse band tee and black ripped skinny jeans and begins to undress, realising Amelia is still in fact in the room and blushes.
Amelia laughs at the sight which only makes Dan blush more and groan out a small what!?
“Please, you’re kidding yourself if you think I’d want to be on top of your naked body when I have the wonderful and beautiful Sophia to call my own.”
“What makes you think you’d be on top?” Dan laughs as he pulls the skinny jeans up his pale thighs and buttons them up, with a small hop to cover his ass properly.
Amelia scoffs and Dan doesn’t want to think too much into it as he stands in front of the mirror, messing with his hair a little like he hadn’t spent the previous hour beforehand doing just that.
“Why are you putting in the effort anyway, Daniel?” Sophia exclaims as she walks around the door frame twinkling her eyes at Dan through the mirror as she does so.
“Sophia! The love of my life! The girl I’d love to call my wife! How are you always so stunning?!” Amelia screams as she reaches her hands in the air out for a hug, which she does get eventually as Sophia closes distance and piles on Amelia, kissing her square on the mouth multiple times.
Dan laughs heartily as he sees but it doesn’t take him long to produce a loud faked gag noise in the mirror when he’s sure either one of them is watching.
“Oh shut up!”
Dan opens his mouth to retaliate with a witty and humorous response but he is interrupted by his flatmate, Lucas, walking into his room in a pale pink button-up shirt tucked into white boyfriend jeans.
“So everyone thought that come into the emo’s room and ditch me in the lounge?” Lucas mutters in a feinted annoyance, rolling his eyes as he pads over to Dan’s bed and lies next to Amelia and Sophia.
“I didn’t ask for this,” Dan replies, holding both hands up in the air in a way of saying he’s innocent.
“But somehow we’re all here?” Sophia butts in, laughing as she rolls off of her girlfriend slightly.
Dan laughs again and takes one final look in the mirror to style his hair before turning around, grabbing his phone off of charge and heading to the doorway.
“Are we fucking going or what?”
They make it to the bar in one piece, somehow even though Amelia has had her fair share to drink for everyone in the bar. She even made Dan get up and dance a few times, which may not have said much about how much alcohol Dan has ingested in such a short period of time.
They’re all sitting at the bar drinking away Dan’s round, which has funnily enough been that way the last three rounds but Dan isn’t going to bring it up and talking the night away about anything that catches their thoughts.
“How’s work then, Danny boy?” Sophia exclaims as she runs her finger along the rim of the glass of double whiskey and coke in front of her, her other hand on her girlfriend’s thigh next to her.
“You’ve been there a week, have the kids killed you off yet?” Amelia butts in, laughing lightly.
Dan takes a swig of his gin and tonic before chuckling, “It’s going well actually. The kids are nice to me, not how I remember high school being.”
“It’s probably because you’re close to their age, they think you’re one of them,” Lucas replies to him, running his hands through his hair as he finishes his sentence. Dan loves Lucas more than his entire life; they were both there for each other when they came out to their families, especially when it didn’t go so well for Lucas being transgender. Lucas automatically became part of Dan’s family, moving in with his family from the age of sixteen and now being twenty-five, they live together in their shared flat in the middle of London.
“Maybe you’re onto something, Lucas,” Dan laughs as he takes another swig of his drink.
He clears his throat as he looks up and catches a glimpse of Amelia and Sophia down each other’s throats and tries to hold back a laugh as he looks away, not wanting to see any more of his best friends smooching.
After an awkward couple of minutes between Dan and Lucas nattering about this and that, Amelia finally gets her tongue away from Sophia’s tonsils long enough to speak.
“Me and, uh, Sophia are going to go?” She says as she begins to stand up, holding Sophia’s hand in one hand and pulling out her skirt in the other, which Dan tries not to overthink.
“Of course,” Dan splutters.
Amelia walks over to Dan and slaps him over the side of the head.
“Anyway we’re going,” Amelia continues, skipping off with Sophia in hand.
There’s a mutter of goodbyes, goodnights and I-love-you’s before it was just Lucas and Dan alone with a couple of half-empty drinks.
“So why are you still single, Danny?”
“Why are you still single?” Dan reflects the question back to Lucas. He doesn’t want to talk right now about his lack of love and men in his life.
“You know why,” Lucas rolls his eyes and laughs. It’s right. Dan knows why Lucas is still single; he’s just deflecting the question because he truly doesn’t want to talk about it.
“I know, I know,” Dan puts his hands up in a feinted retreat. “You are physically, mentally and sexually repulsed by the thought of anyone. I’ve heard it enough to know.”
Lucas laughs, “Right.”
Lucas finishes his drink and smiles innocently at Dan. “I hope you don’t hate me for wa-“
“Wanting to leave?”
Lucas nods sheepishly, “I can stay for a little bit longer?”
Dan shakes his head dramatically, the alcohol hitting him more than he’d like to admit. “No no you can go, I’ll just finish this nursed drink.”
“And that, Daniel, is why you are the only person on this planet I’d happily smooch,” Lucas exclaims, getting up on his feet and planting a sloppy kiss on Dan’s forehead.
Dan bats Lucas away with his hand and a small giggle and before Dan knows it, he is alone at the bar with an empty gin and tonic.
He orders another one and another one and another one and before he’s four more drinks down and heavily intoxicated. More than he likes to be on a night out, especially alone.
He takes the final sip out of his drink when the vacant barstool next to him is suddenly taken. Dan turns his head slightly to look at who’s sitting next to him.
He isn’t exactly shocked to see a slightly camp, but slightly hench, guy staring back at him. He turns his head straight back at his drink because he genuinely doesn’t have the time right now to deal with whatever is going to happen – hopefully, whoever is staring at him takes that as enough of a hint to leave him be.
“My name’s Ethan.”
Dan has to bite his lip to hold in the groan he wants to allow escape his mouth as soon as the mystery guy next to him opens his mouth to speak. Ethan. It wasn’t like Ethan was a bad looking lad because if Dan was interested tonight, he probably would have been the type of person Dan goes for but not tonight.
“Is the pretty boy not going to tell me his name?” Ethan mutters as he reaches out and tucks a stray curl behind Dan’s ear.
Dan coughs at the touch. Didn’t Ethan’s parents teach him manners?
“So Daniel, why are you here alone?” Ethan smirks.
“Just finishing my drink,” Dan says as he holds up his now empty glass, hoping to signal that he’s going to go home any second.
“Let me get you another, what’s your poison?” Ethan whispers as he invades Dan’s personal space once more to speak in his ear.
“No thank you.”
“I said, let me get you another, pretty boy.”
“And I said, no thank you,” Dan raises his voice slightly, turning around to look at Ethan, who’s still sporting the cocky grin he was five minutes ago.
Before anyone of them has the opportunity to continue this conversation, a tall guy with brown hair walks over to them and places his ass down onto one of the other seats next to Dan.
“You’re telling me you didn’t order us new drinks whilst I was in the bathroom, honey?” the stranger exclaims as he places his hand on Dan’s shoulder. Normally touches like this would anger Dan if they were from a stranger on a night out but this one didn’t feel possessive or mean, it feels safe and comforting.
Dan didn’t know what the fuck was going on but he couldn’t help but melt into the touch slightly.
“Who’s this?” the stranger continues as he grabs a menu from the side of the bar and scans it.
“Uh, this is Ethan,” Dan mutters, not taking his eyes off of the stranger. One because looking away would mean he’d have to look at Ethan and he doesn’t want that and two, because he’s so fucking confused.
“Hi Ethan, are you a friend from work?”
“Where does he know you from?”
“He must do if he’s invited you out for our anniversary celebrations?”
At this Dan realises what this stranger is doing, and to be honest, he’s rather grateful. It seems that this wonderful stranger has seen what was going on and is attempting to help Dan escape the awkward situation, so Dan helps a little.
“Oh, I don’t know him at all, my love,” Dan says as he looks fondly at the stranger and then back at Ethan with a deadpan expression. “And I’m sorry for not getting you a drink. Last time I tried I got it wrong and I didn’t hear the end of it.”
Dan sighs in a feinted annoyance and is shocked when he turns back to the stranger with strangers hand on his own heart and scoffing.
“You thought I would have wanted a drink with diet coke, what do you take me for?” The stranger chokes out.
“You said you wanted to go on a diet!”
“Not at the expense of my alcohol!”
Dan laughs because this stranger is actually kind of funny? But he turns back around to Ethan, only to notice that Ethan has in fact gone and is walking across the dancefloor away from this whole faked scene going on.
Dan turns his head back around to the stranger to find him looking at Dan with a smile on his face.
“This is where you say thank you for saving me to the most dashing stranger you’ve ever seen,”
“How did you know I needed saving?” Dan smirks and cocks his eyebrow up at the bold assumption.
“Please,” the stranger scoffs again, “You literally oozed anxiety from the other side of the room. I had to help!”
“Well thank you,” Dan tilts his head and smiles, genuinely this time.
“It’s okay,” the stranger says. “Phil.”
Dan looks back at the stranger to notice his hand is stretched out in front of Dan and it’s then when Dan realises that the stranger’s actually telling him his name. Phil.
“Dan,” Dan says as he reaches his hand into the grasp of Phil’s and shakes his hand.
“Gay guys in clubs around here are always predatory, why are you here alone, Dan?”
Dan scoffs and rolls his eyes, “Where are your friends?”
“Point taken,” Phil laughs lightly and runs his hands through his quiffed hair.
Dan hardly ever finds someone in this type of situation and is automatically attracted to them but there’s something about Phil that just makes Dan melt into his seat.
“Two of my friends are together so they went home to, yeah. And my other friend just hates the party scene so he left early, I’m just finishing my drink,” Dan finally explains, because talking to Phil comes so easily to Dan and they’ve only known each other for five minutes.
“You’ve finished your drink,” Phil points out, smiling a tight grin innocently, whilst aiming his finger towards the empty glass that Dan still has his hands wrapped around, and has done for quite a while now.
“You’re right. I should probably get going,” Dan mutters, about to stand up when Phil places his hand on hands resting on the bar. Dan looks up and gains eye contact with Phil. Phil’s eyes are nothing but warmth and safety and he truly doesn’t want to leave.
Dan sits back down as Phil orders them both their drink – Dan another gin and tonic and Phil, a fruity cocktail with all the trimmings.
“So tell me about you,” Phil whispers as he takes a sip of his cocktail, taking the piece of lemon off of the side of the glass and sucking it, which startles Dan slightly because wow, how bold of Phil to eat a lemon without so much of a grimace.
“Cheesy but okay,” Dan giggles, adjusting himself in his seat to turn and look at Phil easier. “I’m a teaching assistant at a school not far from here. A history teacher, hopefully.”
“A teacher? Did you always want to do that?”
“Not really. My parents wanted me to go to university and I really like history so I just went for the obvious choice. I still don’t know what I want to do,” Dan exclaims.
“You still have time. You seem like you’d be a good teacher.”
“You don’t even know me,” Dan laughs at the pure idiocy of Phil’s comment, and Phil joins him for a second before taking another sip of his drink.
“Maybe I should get to know you,” Phil smiles and winks.
Dan looks away from Phil at this moment, blushing and feeling all of his blood in his body rise to his head. Phil should not be having a reaction like this on Dan, but he is and Dan doesn’t want to push it. Pushing it would lead to things Dan lacks 100% control over.
“Maybe you should.”
Dan finally looks back at Phil and finds that his gaze has never once left Dan, and Dan doesn’t think that helps the blushing matter.
They chat for a few more hours about this and that. Getting to know one another until it’s suddenly bar closing and Dan shakes his head thinking about how he and Phil have sat talking since midnight and it’s now 3am. Where did the time go?
“Do you have a way of getting home?” Phil mutters as he buttons up his denim jacket before following Dan out of the bar onto the still busy London street. There’s never a time in London when the streets aren’t busy, regardless of whether it’s Oxford Street or a small back alley in Camden.
“Yeah, I only live down the road from here. I usually walk home,” Dan replies, pointing his hand down the street to indicate the way to his home.
He wasn’t expecting Phil to walk him home but he did exactly that and Dan didn’t have the willpower to say no, he wanted that.
They walk, what is literally a less than ten-minute journey, in pretty much silence apart from the occasional small talk about living in London and the weather.
“We’re home,” Dan says and instantly regrets saying we're thinking it insinuates that it’s Phil’s home too when it’s nothing of the sort.
“Okay,” Phil mutters as he looks up at the apartment block, probably checking out where Dan lives, Dan thinks.
“Well, then goodnight, Daniel.”
“Goodnight,” Dan replies with a hearty smile.
As he turns around to walk towards his apartment block door, he feels a gentle hand wrap around his bicep and pulls him back closer to Phil. Almost too close for a friendly encounter but Dan didn’t mind it.
“Give me your phone,” Phil says.
“Is this some type of polite mugging?” Dan laughs because even when he’s unsure of the situation he’s in, he still has to be the man who makes jokes.
“No you idiot, I’m giving you my number,” Phil joins in with the laughing.
Dan hands him his phone and within a few seconds, he’s given his phone back with a new contact – Phil.
“Seriously, goodnight now,” Phil says as he walks backwards, back onto the footpath opposed to being on the steps leading up to Dan’s flat.
Phil begins to walk away, leaving Dan on the stairs wondering what the fuck just happened.