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Phil let out a huff of frustration, and shook his sore fingers before steeling himself for another attempt.

He was a grown adult, and a big guy at that, and while he wasn’t exactly a bodybuilder he thought he was pretty strong... as such, it was pretty galling that something as small and stupid as a lock was besting him now.

Even though it had been quiet in the loos - just one other guy finishing up - he’d ducked into a cubicle. He was still recovering from a trip to the toilets on the journey over, when he’d just unzipped before an entire stag do had piled in to the airport toilets, loud and leery and occupying all the spaces either side of him, all in matching Lads on Tour shirts. He’d stood there awkwardly as they yelled at each other over and around him, and in the end he’d washed his hands and fled without going, and had eventually had to fold himself into the tiny, cramped aeroplane toilet once they’d taken off.

The lock had been a little stiff when he’d first tried to close it, and he was worried he’d have to sit there with one leg extended to keep the door closed, in case someone pushed on it. In the end, with a bit of force, he’d managed to get it closed.

It was getting it open again that was proving difficult. Anger started to give way to panic.

Well, okay. He could text Dan and -

Shit.

His blood ran cold as he realised his phone was safely in his jacket pocket; his jacket that was on top of his bag, which he’d left with Dan while he popped to the loo. Fuck.

He’d never wished so hard he’d bought the smart watch he’d considered getting for about five minutes. Both he and Dan had looked at them, but in the end they’d remembered how much they disliked wearing a watch, and had decided not to bother.

Thanks a lot, past Phil, he thought, even as he knew that even if he had bought it, it’d probably be sitting on his dresser at home.

He jumped as he heard someone leave a cubicle, a door near his squeaking open, and he steeled himself to speak as he heard the person washing their hands.

What was he even going to say? Hello? Excuse me? Should he knock? Should he ask them to get someone? Ask them to find Dan? How would he describe him? What could Dan even do if he was here, anyway?

Before he had a chance to speak, the hand drier started up, and by the time it stopped running the man had gone.

Phil tried the lock again, putting all of his strength into it. He tried tugging it upwards while pulling, pushed even harder ... his hand slipped, sliding along the lock, the bolt on the outside of the lock cutting into his finger where he was pushing hard against it.

Phil examined the blood welling on the cut with disbelief. Why did these things always happen to him? Dan never cut open his finger and then had to be rescued by airport security on a quick trip to the bathroom.

He pulled out some toilet roll and wrapped it around his finger, wishing he could wash his hands.

Phil leaned his forehead against the back of the door. It was an airport, someone was bound to come in soon. He just had to make sure he was ready to call out, that he knew what to say...

But what if they knew him? What if they were a subscriber?

Maybe it’d be funny, he thought. He could almost see the tweet now. I rescued @amazingphil from a toilet lol. It’d fit right in with his relatable awkward branding, after all. Typical Phil, everyone would say.

He heard the unmistakable sound of someone peeing. The idea of striking up a conversation while the person was peeing made him want to die, so he waited patiently until he heard footsteps towards the sinks, and the sound of running water.

“Um - hello?” he said. His voice sounded small and cracked. He cleared his throat.

“Hello?” He tried again. No reply, and shortly after he heard the sound of the hand drier starting. Once again, when it went silent the man had left.

Wow, rude, he thought. In fairness, would he have replied to someone calling from inside a toilet cubicle, or would he be weirded out? He hoped he would reply, in case they needed help … maybe the person was running late for a flight, he thought, rather than just being a rude git.

Without a phone or watch it was impossible to know how much time had passed. It felt like ages, but could have been five minutes. Surely, if he was much longer, Dan would come looking for him?

Shame that psychic link they’d often joked about wasn’t real, he thought, pressing lightly on the cut and letting out a hiss of pain. If it was, Dan would be able to tell he was upset, and would come and find him -

“Phil?”

He’d never been so relieved to hear Dan’s voice in his life.

“Dan?” he said. Dan knocked lightly on his cubicle door.

“You in here?”

“Yes.”

“Are you okay?”

He probably thought he had a bad stomach. That might actually be preferable, Phil thought.

“No,” he said morosely. “The lock’s stuck. I can’t get it open.”

“...Are you serious?”

“Yeah. I’ve been trying for ages.”

“Oh, my god,” laughed Dan . “Well, have you tried - like, can I push it from this side or something?”

“I don’t think so,” said Phil.

“Try it again,” said Dan. “Push harder.”

“I’ve pushed as hard as I can,” said Phil. “And I can’t push that hard again. I hurt my hand.”

“What? Jesus Christ.”

“I think you’re gonna have to get someone.”

“Really?”

Phil could hear the dismay in Dan’s voice. He couldn’t really blame him - having to even go and ask was embarrassing enough, but then what? Would they have to unscrew the door? Call the fire brigade? He imagined the crowds of people watching as a series of fully-uniformed firemen trooped into the toilets, watching him walk out, red-faced...

He heard the door of the cubicle next to his close and lock. Oh, great, now they had an audience. Dan had gone quiet.

“Phil.”

Phil jumped at the proximity of Dan’s voice. He looked around and then up, doing a double-take at the sight of Dan’s face peering over the top of his cubicle.

“Are you standing on the toilet?”

“Yeah,” said Dan. “I was just seeing if you could climb out, but I think it’s too high.”

“Yeah, no way,” said Phil. “I can’t climb over it.”

“If you stand on the loo and then maybe on the back, I could pull you over?”

“Fuck’s sake,” hissed Phil. “Don’t be stupid.”

If someone walked in on that, the tweet would be pretty different. p sure I just saw @amazingphil climbing into @danielhowell’s toilet stall at @lhr?? lmaoooooo wtf

“Alright, just a suggestion,” said Dan grumpily. He peered at the lock. “Will it really not budge?”

“I think it’s, like - I think it’s that the door is sort of pulling it downwards. And the weight of the door is stopping me from pulling it.”

“Maybe if I lift the door?”

“How are you gonna do that?”

“From the bottom. Hang on.”

He disappeared from view, and Phil heard his cubicle unlock. In the small gap at the bottom of his cubicle, he saw Dan’s hands appear, fingers gripping the door.

“Okay, I’ll lift it a bit, and then you try and pull the lock.”

“I’ll try,” said Phil.

“Okay, on three - oh, uh, hi.”

Phil swallowed as he heard the footsteps of a third person. To think how badly he’d wanted someone to come in only a few minutes ago; now he’d have paid them to go away.

“You okay?” said the newcomer.

“Uh, yeah - my friend’s door is stuck,” said Dan awkwardly. Phil tried to imagine how he must look, crouched down holding the bottom of a toilet cubicle door.

I’ll make it up to him later, he thought.

“Need a hand?” said the man.

“Nah, we’re good,” said Dan, who didn’t sound very sure. “You ready?”

Phil heard the unspoken hurry up, idiot in his voice.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Okay. One, two, three.”

As Dan pulled upwards on the door, Phil tried again to wiggle the lock, his finger stinging - and it began to shift.

“Just keep lifting it,” he muttered to Dan. “It’s moving a bit.”

“Hurry up,” huffed Dan.

Phil wiggled the bolt more and it slowly, slowly moved along its track - until it finally slid home and the door swung open.

Dan stood upright, and met Phil’s sheepish expression. Although he was trying to look annoyed, Phil could see the mirth in his eyes. The git.

“Alright?” said Dan.

“Yeah,” said Phil, lifting his hand. The bleeding had mostly stopped, and he unwound the straggly bit of toilet paper he’d rolled around it. Dan peered at the cut.

“How did you even do that?”

“I was pushing really hard on the bolt. It was pretty sharp.”

Dan tutted.

“How long was I in there?’ said Phil, washing his hands.

“Dunno, quite a while,” said Dan. “I wondered why you were gone so long.”

Phil dried his hands and followed Dan out, taking his bag and jacket back.

“My phone’s in here,” he said, putting on the jacket. “Or I’d have texted you. Lesson learned, always take my phone to the loo, I guess.”

“I thought you might have had some sort of medical problem or something,” said Dan. “But no, just your weird bad luck once again.” He paused. “Didn’t this happen to you before?”

“Yeah,” said Phil glumly. “And it probably will again.”

Fortunately the rest of their journey through the airport was uneventful, and they had time for coffee before heading to their gate. Dan pulled out his phone to check it while they sipped their drinks, and Phil nibbled at a muffin.

“Hand still sore?” Dan asked, without glancing up from the screen.

“Nah,” said Phil. “Well, a bit. But it’s not, like, bad.”

“Good,” said Dan. “Our plasters are in your suitcase. And I don’t - ” He paused. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

“What is it?” said Phil.

Dan wordlessly passed him his phone.

things you don’t expect to see when going for a piss at the airport - @danielhowell trying to tear the door off a toilet cubicle :o