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Shut Your Mouth and Listen Closely

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"Hiya, Dan!" Phil smiled, taking his seat next to said boy in his history class. Dan smiled and waved in return.

"How was your weekend?" Phil asked. The boy had turned in his seat, facing Phil. He had his chin resting in his hand and his fingers curled over his lips. This position looked completely casual, but Phil was pretty sure he sat this way to keep himself from talking. Having his mouth covered was a gentle reminder not to speak.

Dan just shrugged and gave a little smile. This meant that it was okay. Nothing special, but pretty good.

"That's good. My brother Martyn visited this weekend, so my mom made us all go out to this fancy dinner. It was boring as hell. Everyone was in dresses and tuxedos. God, I hated it." Phil groaned, continuing to talk about how he hated it. And all the while, Dan smiled and nodded. He even let out little giggles at certain parts, but he never said a word.

That's the thing about Dan Howell; he doesn't talk. He started school at Spring Forest this year and they were about two months into their last year. No one had heard him speak, though. He hasn't uttered a word since day one and no one knew why. The only reason anyone knows his name is because the the teachers would call roll and the boy's hand would shoot up.

Most of the students found it weird, so they didn't talk to him. But, a few did speak to him. They had all tried to get him to talk, and when he wouldn't budge, they gave up and went on. The same went for the teachers. They had all tried to make him speak, asking him questions that couldn't be answered with a shake of the head, sighing when they never got a reply. Everyone had eventually given up on the boy, stopped talking to him. Except for Phil.

Phil would talk to the boy every class they had together, would talk to him at lunch, would even walk the boy home. He approached Dan differently, though. He didn't pressure the boy into talking, didn't get angry when he never got a reply. You see, Phil had watched how the boy responded to things. He had noticed that Dan understood everything in his surroundings and he didn't look like he had a disability. Dan's lack of talking was his own choice, and Phil respected that, knowing that the boy would talk when he was ready.

"And my sister, Louise, kept kicking me under the table. She's older than me, so you'd think she's more mature, but she's not. So, I ended up throwing a piece of my chicken at her. You should have seen the waiter's face, Dan. He looked down right repulsed." Phil chuckled. Dab giggled at the story, and, oh, how Phil loved the sound. It was the closest thing he had to hearing Dan's voice, and he loved it. His giggle was adorable and it was so beautiful. It was like hearing the symphony of a thousand orchestras playing at once.

"Alright, class, settle down," the teacher said, interrupting the two boy's conversation. "Take out your assignments from Friday and exchange them with your table partner to grade. As you can see, there are already red pens on your desks. The scoring guide and today's assignment is on the board. Get to work."

Phil sighed and handed Dan his paper. They quickly graded the papers and handed them back to each other, getting out their books and working on the assignment together.

Technically, they weren't supposed to work together, but their teacher let it slide, mostly because they were never loud and he knew that if Dan needed help, he couldn't ask anyone about it. Perhaps Mr.Finnegan was the only one besides Phil that cared and he just showed it differently, but cared nonetheless. Anyway, Phil was the only one at this school remotely able to read and decipher Dan's expressions.

It was a little while later, after the two boy's had finished their paper, when the bell rang. Phil smiled at Dan and packed his stuff up.

"Later, Dan! See you in biology." He chriped. Dan nodded, grinned, and waved before walking off in the opposite direction.