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Juxtaposition

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Dan's often surprised at the vast contrasts between Phil and himself. He shouldn't be - after all they've known each other since they could walk, and they've grown up with the same interests. Even when they grew up from playing pirates to playing Mario and Sonic, they did so together.

They're as similar as two peas in a pod, practically clones of each other, only with different genetic make-up. Everyone who knows them, and even people who only know of them, can't find a difference between them. They're practically the same person.

Except, when you pull back the curtains and turn off the smoke machine, take away the covers and the masks and the mirrors - they're complete opposites.

Because Phil is perfect and beautiful and exquisite...

And Dan's an imperfect mess of a person, a faulty attempt at a human, broken.

Phil's like the sun, bright and happy and obvious in the best way possible. His presence is unavoidable, but no one's ever unhappy about it. He's like a spring day, warm and joyful, full of life and love and spirit. He's honey and iced tea and sunshine and gold.

And Dan's like the moon. Pale and mysterious, not always quite there but always distant. If the sun is obnoxious and bright then the moon is soft and quiet and solemn. He's a rough winter's day, a raging thunderstorm, electric and dark and moody, all grey clouds and fog and a heavy, muggy feeling. Raindrops that fall like hail, hard and harsh. He's misty and sullen and melancholy.

Phil's melted caramel and delicious hot chocolate and cool lemonade with clinking ice-cubes. Dan is bitter coffee with no sugar, dull and secluded, burning vodka and harsh ice, the sky on an empty night. He's glass - thin and fragile, easily broken but constantly trying to appear sturdy and together.

Phil is the day, bright and happy and full of promise, and Dan is the night, deep and sometimes sinister, shady and secret.

Phil's love and Dan is hate. Phil's the good and Dan's the bad.

And yet, when Dan's around Phil, he feels kind of bright too, like Phil's the sun breaking through the clouds that are constantly suffocating Dan.


 

It's on a particularly bad day for Dan, one when he feels like a mass of dark clouds and electric storms and shadows, that everything just becomes too much.

He walks home alone after school, telling Phil that he isn't feeling well, he just needs some alone time, and he'll see Phil tomorrow. He waves to his mum once he gets inside, and goes straight to his bedroom, where he changes into dreary clothes that match his feelings, and he crawls into bed - hoping that if he curls up into a tight ball and hides under the covers he'll be able to escape from everything that haunts him.

He doesn't, he can't, and he knows his hopes are ill and futile and vain, but he keeps hoping anyway, because he needs something to cling to when he's surrounded by the darkness, a good thing to believe in, a light at the end of the tunnel for him to pursue.

After all, the darkness has to fade eventually...right?


 

Dan's still cowering under his blanket of gloom a few hours - though it could have been only one - later, so he's not aware of what's happening outside his cocoon of darkness.

Not until there's a weight pressing down on his bed, the source of which appears to be sitting next to his curled-up form. He assumes it's his mum, come to tell him dinner's ready, or maybe even to check up on him in case he's ill.

Except the voice that speaks is a little gruff and a lot deeper than his mum's.

"Phil?" He asks, pulling the covers down.

Phil's smile is a beam of sunshine, and it's blinding.

"I was just rambling about how I'm surprised your mum didn't squeeze the life out of me when I walked in. She did come pretty close though."

Dan manoeuvres so he's sitting up, his feet just passing Phil's hips.

"What are you doing here?" Dan asks, his voice sounding a little dry.

"I came to see you, you seemed quite down and a little strange after school, so I thought I'd see if you're okay."

"I'm fine." Dan replies, and it's instantaneous, he doesn't think before he speaks because he doesn't need to. The words were resting on the tip of his tongue from the moment Phil opened his mouth.

"Dan..."

"I'm fine, great, peachy, perfect."

Phil raises his eyebrows slowly.

"How long have we known each other?" He asks, and it's such a ridiculous question in Dan's eyes, because they both know the answer.

"Forever."

"And yet, you still think you can lie to me, and I won't be able to see through you?"

Phil's smile is weak and thin, his eyes soft but concerned.

"Dan, please, tell me honestly...what's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Dan..."

"We're a juxtaposition, Phil!" Dan yells, and his voice is booming in his ears, it's distressed, and it echoes around the quiet room.

Phil doesn't speak, but there's confusion and worry etched into his features, in the crinkles near his eyes, and the line that his mouth has become.

"We're a juxtaposition." Dan repeats, softer.

"You're brightness and goodness and perfection, sunshine and joy, and I'm...I'm sadness and darkness and shadows. Together we're a juxtaposition...we contrast, like good and evil, and it's just - it's becoming too much. I don't want to be a personification of despair and emptiness anymore."

Phil looks like the personification of despair, his eyes wide and worried, his forehead creased with lines of concern.

"I just feel so...hopeless." Dan whispers, and he's ashamed at how small his voice sounds.

Phil reaches for Dan's hand and slides his fingers between Dan's. Dan's hand is warm, but Phil's is cold, and it's another contrast between them - but one that Dan doesn't mind too much. His warmth reminds him he's human, and Phil's coolness is like a fresh splash of water on his face.

"I don't think we're a, a juxtaposition." Phil says, and the peculiar term sounds strange coming from his mouth, a foreign word rattling off a familiar tongue - Dan supposes it sounds funny when he says it too.

"I think there's some parts of you that are perhaps 'dark', but there's also fire and determination and passion, and...and love."

Phil squeezes Dan's hand, and Dan squeezes back, just as tightly.

"There's sadness in me, too, it's what makes us human. Everything has an opposite, everything good has a bad side, every hero a rival villain...just because you have bad days, doesn't mean that you won't have good ones, and just because you feel like a rain cloud doesn't mean that's all you are."

Phil smiles, and it prompts an, admittedly weak, one from Dan.

"You're passionate and fiercely determined, and so incredibly clever I'm constantly in awe,"

"Phil, I'm not -"

"And you're beautiful." Phil says, practically whispering he speaks so low, as if it was a secret, and to speak any higher would shatter its mystery.

"We're both young, barely seventeen, and yet I feel like you've already won the jackpot in life. I'm proud more than I am envious, and I'm honoured to know you as well as I do, to share each milestone you come across, to play even a small part in this adventure we all call life."

Dan's crying now, and Phil lifts his other hand to wipe the tears away with slim, pale fingers, taking the chance to admire Dan's eyes as they stare at him - eyes that speak of melted chocolate and caramel macchiato's in quiet corners against frosted windows.

"Why are you so kind to me?" Dan asks, his voice cracking. "What have I done to deserve this?"

"I ask myself the same question every day." Phil admits. "Sometimes multiple times a day, in fact. Interestingly, I am yet to come up with an appropriate answer."

Dan shakes his head, disbelief crowding his thoughts with crooked fingers made of ominous gloom and dim opacity, the familiar tendrils of despondency curling around his heart and squeezing until the life leaks out, slowly and painfully.

"You don't believe me?" Phil guesses.

It's phrased as a question, but sounds like a statement, and Dan's not sure how to answer, or even if he should answer in the first place.

"I guess it's up to me to prove it then."

Phil tugs on his hand, and Dan leans forward. He has suspicions on what Phil's going to do, but he's not entirely certain, and he doesn't think he has enough time to think about it.

"I like you," Phil says. "More than a friend...please excuse the cliché-ness...and it hurts me to see you view yourself in such a low manner."

Dan ponders Phil's words as they're spoken. He's not sure if he likes Phil like that, he's never thought about it. He admires Phil greatly, that's for certain, but when he considers what liking Phil could mean...it's not that he necessarily has a crush on Phil, but he also doesn't hate him either...

"I want to kiss you, if you don't mind?" Phil says, and it breaks through Dan's muddled thoughts.

"Okay," Dan says, and it seems his heart knows better than his head what he wants.

Phil cups Dan's cheeks with the same hand he had used to wipe Dan's tears away, and he leans in. Dan closes his eyes and ignores the way his chest tightens and his stomach twists. His lips are chapped and Phil's are dry, but the kiss is smooth and heavenly, and tastes faintly of the mixed sweets and salty plain crisps they'd shared at lunch. Dan's not sure what to do with his other hand, so it rests against Phil's hip, fingers twisting in the hem of his shirt.

They pull back shortly afterwards, but Dan can't help but yearn to kiss Phil again, to feel the soft slide of lips against lips.

"So?" Phil asks, and Dan elects for a witty remark, the kiss having restored his confidence, just a bit.

"It was a good kiss." He says, shrugging a shoulder.

Phil glares at him, an empty glare devoid of real heat, and Dan breaks into a grin of shiny teeth and pink lips and sparkling eyes.

"You're a twat," Phil chastises. "And I regret everything."

Dan pouts, Phil sighs, and Dan knows that he's won.

"Did it make you feel better?" Phil asks, and there's genuine fear that he didn't help lingering behind his eyes and laced in his voice.

"It did...thank you. I hope that's not the only reason for the kiss, though..." Dan absently wonders where his desire for more comes from, but he accepts it.

"Of course not. That was one hell of a kiss...and I meant it when I said I really like you."

"Maybe you're right." Dan admits. "Maybe we're not a juxtaposition like I thought."

Phil grins, nods, and leaves a chaste kiss on Dan's lips - in that order.

Dan's not sure what his confusing thoughts and conflicted heart mean, and he's not even sure what they mean - but he knows that Phil was right, partly.

They are juxtapositions - just within themselves. Phil's mainly sunshine and rainbows, but not always, because sadness affects everyone.

And Dan always feels like shadows and thunderstorms, but fire burns inside him. And sometimes it's too hot, and sometimes the bad thoughts take over, but he has Phil for when that happens - he was just too blind to see that before.

He thought he could handle it himself, but now he knows that he doesn't need to.

Because he has Phil, just as the night has the day.