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Out Of Pawn

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hey uncle louie, I wrote you a song
I'm glad you got your heart out of pawn
I'm glad you got your king out of check
at least that's how things stood when I saw you last
(Out of Pawn, Anaïs Mitchell)

...

You wake up with one of the worst hangovers of your fucking life.

That actually might be an overstatement, but right now that’s what it definitely feels like. You sit up, rubbing your eyes, groaning to yourself. You need water. And Tylonel. And some food. You reach towards your bedside table to grab your phone, and—

Sitting there is a bottle of Tylonel and a tall glass of water.

Huh.

Maybe past-you did that.

You pop the Tylonel and down it with the water, finishing the glass quickly, and climb out of bed and stumble into your living room. You shield your eyes from the too bright sun streaming through your windows, because, seriously, who the fuck decided mornings were a good idea anyway?

Suddenly, you stop dead in your tracks. Stretched out across your couch is a very unfamiliar man. He’s got a wild mane of curls, one skinny arm hanging off the side of your couch—a leg, too, the other one was crooked over the armrest, he must’ve been tall—and a soft face, mouth hanging open slightly and breathing deeply and steadily.

Oh, and he’s shirtless. That complicates things a little more.

You stand there, staring at him as you wrack your brain to try and remember the previous night. Did you sleep with him?

All signs point to no, though. His jeans are still on, you’re still wearing underwear also (and a size-too-big shirt for pajamas). He’s on the couch, you were in your bed when you woke.

You decide to let him sleep peacefully, and you turn to enter your kitchen to maybe make some breakfast. You can deal with this guy later, no need to wake him, you're focused on what you can eat to quell your headache and upset stomach...

…And promptly jam your toe into the wall.

“Fucking Christ!” you yell, hopping on one foot and shaking the other one out, where the offending toe currently throbs. Almost instantly, you cover your mouth with your hands.

Mystery Man on the couch groans, rolls over…and falls face-first onto your hardwood floor.

“Oh my god!” you gasp, and you rush forward without thinking, kneeling down beside him as he groans on your floor, propping himself up.

“Fuckin’ ow,” he mutters.

“Are you okay?” you ask quickly, panicked.

Mystery Man sits back on his knees, rubbing his face. “Ow, ow ow ow,” he repeats, a little groggy. He blinks a few times, then focuses in on your wide-eyed face, and he gives you a dopey smile. “Hey, pretty lady.”

Dan. His name comes to you suddenly. His name is Dan.

“Hi,” you say meekly. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about it,” he laughs. “How are you?”

“I’m, um…”

The two of you are just kneeling on your floor, staring at each other.

“…fine,” you finish lamely.

“You aren’t hungover?” Dan asks.

“Oh.” So he knew about that. “Um…yeah, I’m hungover as dicks.”

Dan giggles at your expression, and the sound makes you smile.

“This is gonna be,” you pause, taking a deep breath mid-sentence, “the most douchebag-y move I’ve made this century, but…um…who are you, exactly? And why are you in my apartment?”

Dan sniggers a little, hunching his shoulders slightly. “You don’t remember?”

You look away guiltily.

“It’s fine. I’ll tell you. It’s probably not as bad as you think—well, maybe it is.”

//

“Give me a triple whiskey. Straight up.”

You climb onto the bar stool, and the bartender nods and immediately goes to fulfill your drink order. You hope she hurries. You need a fucking drink. And fast.

“Somethin’ wrong, sweetheart?” the man next to you asks.

“Fuck off. And don’t call me sweetheart,” you bite back, and the bartender gingerly places the glass of golden liquid in front of you. You knock it back immediately, and all but slam the glass back down on the counter. “Long Island Iced Tea this time, thank you.”

The man next to you laughs, and you decide to face this fucker head on, turning to him. He looks like a douchebag right off the bat, with greasy hair and a shirt that’s too tight for him. “What’s got your panties in a twist, sweetheart?” he asks again.

“I said fuck off, and don’t call me sweetheart.” The bartender places the tall, full glass in front of you. You take a long drink from it, this time savoring the taste and the burn. It’s perfectly sour. You smack your lips. But the douchebag doesn’t leave you alone.

“Maybe I can untwist ‘em for you? What do you say, sweetheart?” He goes to reach for your hair, assumedly to tuck some from the longer side behind your ear, and you instantly swat his hand away.

“I will tear your goddamn dick off if you don’t—”

“I believe the lady said leave her alone.”

A deep voice from behind you suddenly chimes in, and you look over your shoulder to see a tall man standing behind you. Lanky. Huge mane of curly hair. His eyes flicker to you for a second, and then back to Douchebag Extraordinaire.

Douchebag Extraordinaire scowls and pushes back from the bar, getting to his feet. “Whatever,” he mumbles, stalking away, practically with a cloud over his head.

You turn to the tall man with curly hair and warm eyes.“Thanks,” you say,“but I can handle myself. Don’t think you’re getting brownie points just because you played unnecessary superhero, bud.”

The man laughs. “I just thought you could use a little help.”

“Like I said, I can handle—”

“Also, is that a Triforce shirt? Where’d you get it, ‘cause it’s fucking awesome. I have a friend that would love something like that.”

Oh. “Oh.” You look down at your Legend of Zelda Triforce shirt. “I…it was a limited edition thing, sorry.” You look back up at him, but are much less defensive now.

“I’m Danny,” he says quickly, sticking out a hand. “Or Dan. Whichever. Dan Avidan.”

You shake it. “(Y/N) (L/N).”

“Can I get a pepsi, please?” he asks the bartender when she passes a second later.

“A pepsi?” you repeat. “You come to a bar and order pepsi?”

He shrugs. “I don’t drink. What are you…?” He motions to your own brightly colored drink.

You had forgotten about your drink for a moment, and use it to your advantage, downing the last dregs of it as time to compose yourself. You smack your lips at the flavor, loving it, and reply, “Long Island Iced Tea.”

Dan stares at your lips a little too long to be normal, then looks back up to your eyes and asks, “What’s it taste like?”

“Um…” You feel warmth bubbling in your stomach, unsure if its the alcohol or how exactly Dan’s voice pitches to a low enough octave that it makes your toes curl in your shoes. “It’s sour,” you reply. “Lots of kick to it. You feel it for a few minutes afterwards.”

“You sound like a bit of an expert,” Dan laughs, eyes crinkling at the corners. “Should I be worried?”

“Uh, probably,” you laugh a little, with a shrug. “But not really. I bartend on weekends for extra cash.”

That moment, the bartender passes by, placing the can of pepsi on the counter, and, noticing your empty glass, asks, “Anything else for you?”

You get an idea, and run with it. “Sex On The Beach, please,” you say, smoothly and with a wink. The bartender laughs, and turns to mix the drink.

“Whaaaaaaat,” Dan draws out the word. “Here I am trying to flirt with you, and you openly flirt with the bartender?”

You laugh loudly, unused to such bold and open statements. Dan looks a little proud of himself that he's just made you laugh. “It’s the name of the drink,” you tell him. “Not an invitation.” And then you add, “You’re flirting with me, then?”

“Depends,” he replies, leaning in slightly. “Is it working?”

“You tell me,” you say with a wink, and the bartender places your drink in front of you. Dan giggles while you take a shallow sip. “This one’s sweet,” you tell him, although you aren’t quite sure why.

“Oh, I love sweet things,” Dan says with a smile. He takes a drink of his pepsi. “So…are there other drinks named like that?”

“Like…sex drinks?”

“Yeah!” he laughs. “Like sex drinks!”

“Oh, sure, plenty.” You’re starting to really feel the buzz of the alcohol now. You had forgotten how much of a punch Long Island Iced Teas could pack.

“What are your favorites?” Dan asks.

“You’re just trying to get me to keep talking,” you accuse, taking another sip of your drink, feeling a little giddy. You feel the buzz all the way to your fingertips, and take a moment to wiggle them in front of your face. Dan giggles as he watches you with a grin.

“Fuckin’ sue me, I like listening to pretty girls talk. C’monnnn, tell me about these sex drinks,” he whines, and with a roll of your eyes, you launch into your best explanations of the ones you know how to make: Leg Spreader, Pink Pussycat, Sex At My House, Screw Against the Wall, Tie Me To the Bedpost Baby…

All the while, you finish your Sex On The Beach. Dan finishes his pepsi. You’re drunk, you can feel it in the way you sway on the barstool a little and how your eyes droop. You lean in more to talk to him. But he’s also scooted his barstool forward to get closer to you.

In a brief lapse of flirty conversation, you hear a song you love come over the bar speakers. “I’m drunk enough to dance,” you tell him, and hop off your stool. “Wanna come with?”

Because flirting was great and all, but you had an ass and you knew how to drop it low on the dance floor.

Which is how you ended up grinding with Dan Avidan on the dance floor, ass pressed against him and his long fingers firmly digging into your hips. Which is also how you ended up making out with him in the alleyway behind the bar that you knew was the cite of muggings at least twice a week. You have one hand curled at the base of Dan’s neck, a fistful of unruly hair, the other was grasping the front of his shirt to keep him pulled down at your level. He has you backed up against a wall, hunched over, with both hands firmly grasping your ass and rocking you against him.

A car rushes past, honking loudly. For the briefest moment, the two of you are bathed in stark light. Dan pulls back suddenly.

“What?” you ask. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No, I…” he furrows his eyebrows. “You’re drunk,” he says.

You frown. Dan leans forward and kisses you again to wipe the expression off your face. For a minute, the two of you are back at it again, with his tongue dipping into your mouth and your lips working leisurely against each other.

But then he pulls back again.

You narrow your eyes, tugging at his hair to show your disapproval. His breath hitches a little, and your blood boils. “What’re you playing at?” you ask accusingly.

“You’re drunk,” Dan tells you again.

“I’m drunk,” you affirm, not bothered in the slightest.

“Yeah. You’re too drunk. I…we…you’re gonna…ugh.” He looks guilty.

You can’t figure out the problem here. But his hands are still on your ass, the two of you are still hip to hip, you can feel the tent in his jeans. That was definitely making it harder for you to think. In a serious moment of willpower, you untangle your fingers from his hair and your fist from his shirt, and use both hands on his chest to push him back slightly. “Okay, explain to me the problem.”

“You’re drunk, I’m not, there’s no full, sober consent,” Dan says quickly.

“I think me making out with you in a back alley is a pretty clear sign of consent,” you shrug.

Dan laughs. “Let’s get you home. I’ll drive you.”

“Uhhhh…” You think for a moment. “I can’t leave my car here.”

“I’ll drive your car, then.” He says it like its simple. He holds out an outstretched hand. “Gimme your keys.”

Without really thinking, you deposit them in his hand.

“Where’s your car?” he asks.

You grab his hand, leading him towards where you parked on the street. Dan giggles a little, allowing you to lead him like a parent leading a toddler, trailing close behind you. "You remember where you parked it?" he asks from behind you.

You scowl, concentrating fully. "Don't insult me."

Dan just giggles again.

You finally reach your car, a beautiful, beat up old thing that has been on its dying breath for a year and a half, and turn to face Dan. He’s smiling at you, a soft look in his eyes, and you smile back, a little bashful.

“What’s your address?” he asks.

“Ummm…” You think for a moment, then rattle it off.

Dan opens the passenger side door for you. You giggle and call him a gentleman. He jogs around and then gets in the driver’s side, jamming the keys in the ignition and letting the engine sputter to life.

“Take it slow with her,” you say, leaning forward and petting the dashboard. “She’s old.”

“Sure thing.”

“And don’t be alarmed if the windshield wipers go when you use the right turn signal,” you add. “She’s haunted.”

//

“And then you changed the radio station, like, fifty different times before you found something that you could sing to,” Dan continues. By now, the two of you have settled comfortably on your floor as he recounts the story. You have your knees pulled up to your chin, listening intently, trying to absorb every detail. “But you got motion sick and didn’t really make it all the way inside, so…”

“Oh my god I threw up on you,” you bemoan, horrified, covering your face with your hands in pure shame. “I’m so fucking sorry. Jesus Christ.”

“You put my shirt in the washer when we got in,” Dan says, as if that makes you feel any better. It doesn't. He sounds amused. “You were surprisingly logical about it.”

“Ugh,” you moan behind your hands. “Uuuuugh.”

Dan laughs.

“I’m so sorry,” you repeat.

“Seriously, it’s no biggie—”

“No, like, I’m way too old to have done that shit,” you blabber a little, removing your hands from your face. “Fuck. I am so sorry. Jesus, how can I make it up to you?”

“Make sure my shirt is dry?” Dan offers.

“Yeah. And, uh, I’ll make you breakfast.” That actually sounds like a good idea. “Yeah! I’ll make you breakfast!” You spring to your feet.

Too fast. Your head spins, and you stumble a little.

“Whoa! Whoa, whoa whoa,” Dan scrambles to get up and make sure you don’t fall over. His hands are on your upper arms now, holding you there. “How about I make you breakfast?” Now standing, you maybe come up to his shoulders. Honestly, that might be a little generous.

“No,” you insist, looking up at him. “I have to make you Thank You breakfast.”

“Let me do it!” Dan seems eager. “I make great chocolate chip pancakes!”

You relent just because of his excitement and bright smile. “Fine.”

Chapter Text

Dan did not make very good chocolate chip pancakes, and in fact completely burned the first batch. After safely disposing of the ash in your trashcan, you had elbowed him out of the way, taken the box of Bisquick and your bag of chocolate chips and made him stand by as you started batch number two, much to his whining that it was his job to make breakfast and that he could do it if you just gave him another shot.

“So, what do you do? Like, as a job?” Dan asks, hovering over your shoulder as you begin mixing. You have a feeling he’s still trying to prove he can cook, so you try to bar him from grabbing the bowl. Before you can say anything, he continues, “This is a pretty upscale apartment, are you rich? Do you do something that earns a lot of money? Are you, like, a computer whiz or something?”

“Whoa, whoa whoa, slow down there, cowboy,” you stop him quickly, tucking the bowl in the crook of your arm and using the whisk in your other hand to mix, turning to Dan. He takes an immediate step back to give you space, but not that much. He’s still hovering around you. “I don’t do anything fancy. I’m the building’s maintenance person, so, odd jobs? Sometimes I act, when I get the opportunity.” You furrow your eyebrows, looking downcast slightly. You weren’t too proud of the fact you were in your thirties and didn’t have a steady, bread-earning career. “I mean, I earn some small revenue from a youtube channel I have, but—”

“Whoa, you’re on Youtube?!” Dan practically shouts, and your head snaps up to see his face beaming. “That’s fucking awesome! What do you do? What’s your channel?”

“Oh, jeez, nothing impressive,” you start to say, nervous, and there’s a brief moment where you’re distracted thinking about how you can describe the mess of your Youtube channel.

Taking your distraction as an opportunity, Dan snatches the bowl from your grasp.

“Dan!” you scold, but it has little heat behind it because you’re laughing, and Dan is saying something along the lines of, “I said that I would cook.”

He holds the bowl over his head, high out of your grasp, and you childishly try to jump to grab it. “Daniel! Give it back!”

“Not until you let me cook the pancakes!”

“You almost burned down my kitchen, like, five minutes ago!”

The two of you are giggling like schoolgirls, and vaguely you wonder if you should be feeling this familiar with someone who you had only met the previous night in a drunken stupor. Part of you had hoped you had only made out with him because you were drunk, but now giggling with him in your kitchen, you realize it was more of his magnetic charm that got you.

Damnit. You really hadn’t expected things to go like this at all.

“Let me cook!” Dan insists, and you make a grab for the bowl again.

“No!”

You eye the bowl, held high in the air, warily, and you see he’s not paying attention because it’s tipping, tipping, tipping…

“Dan!” you try to warn, “stop, you’re gonna—”

“I told you I would cook, (Y/N)!” he insists again, and as if on cue, a large wad of pancake mix splatters itself on your floor, spraying both of your feet. Surprised, Dan drops the bowl entirely.

You gasp loudly and take a step back when the bowl bounces off your kitchen floor, batter flying in every direction, and the bottom of your back hits the counter with enough force to rattle you even more. The bowl rolls around after a few more small bounces, batter drooling out the side.

You take a moment to assess the damage: batter drips down your lower cabinets, and some of the higher ones too, down the front of your fridge, the front of your stove, and theres a large puddle of it starting to inch towards your feet as it spreads. Chocolate chips are plastered everywhere. You look at Dan, who is staring at the disaster that is your kitchen with a growing look of horror on his face. His gaze eventually reaches you, and by the way his eyes widen you figure you look a lot like him: splattered with batter from head to toe. God, there’s even some in his hair.

“Oh my god,” Dan says.

You have to chew the inside of your cheek to stop yourself from smiling at the dumbfound expression on his dumb, cute face, and instead try to fix him with your most serious look. “Danny,” you say, trying to sound stern, but you think it just sounds kind of giddy.

“Oh my god…” His voice is muffled as he covers his face with his hands.

“Danny,” you repeat.

“I just wanted to make you breakfast!” he practically wails, hands dropping from his face as he pouts at you.

You can’t help it; you burst into loud laughter, trying to smother behind one of your hands.

“It’s not funny!” The tone of his voice could have been greatly accompanied with a stomp of his foot, like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

You try to stifle your laughter, but it only ends with you snorting, and you clamp your hand to your mouth and shake slightly with it. You can’t help it. It’s all so cliché.

“Stop laughing!” Dan insists, but you hear the smile in his voice, so you look up at him and he has a huge, ear to ear grin, with his eyes wrinkling. “It’s—it’s not funny!” he insists again, but then he starts giggling, and you throw back your head and laugh loudly.

You both stand there in your kitchen, covered with batter, laughing yourselves breathless for another couple minutes. Eventually, it dies down into only a few short giggles every few seconds.

“God,” you say, slightly breathless, still grinning. “This is a fucking mess.” You run a few fingers through your hair, and they come back with batter sticking to them. You figure you just made it worse. “I need to shower,” you sigh, giggling a little. You feel giddy. You look at Dan. “You should, too.”

“You first,” he says, taking a few steps towards the overturned bowl and picking it off the sticky ground. His shirt has a large streak of batter on it, and damnit, you had just cleaned that thing. “I’ll clean this up.”

“I have two showers, dude,” you tell him, and you’re reminded how large this place could be for only one person. “You can also—”

“(Y/N),” Dan says forcefully. “You first. I’ll clean this up.”

You shrug; you’re still a little hungover and tired and achy, and none of it is particularly pushing you to be a good host. “If you’re sure.”

Dan drops the bowl in the sink and turns it on, filling the bowl up with water, and waves you off. You walk, feet sticky, to your bathroom and start the shower, shedding your clothes. You have to remind yourself to close the bathroom door. You aren’t very used to company…although not that Dan would accidentally walk in on you showering? He doesn’t know his way around, but it wasn’t a very large apartment—just large for one person. But maybe, a part of you did want him to walk in on you showering? Join you?

You chalk it up to his infectious attitude, and step under the steaming, fire-cannot-kill-a-dragon hot water. You scrub yourself off quickly, and take extra time to get the shampoo and conditioner all the way down to your scalp. Ten minutes or so later, you stand under the stream of the water, taking deep breaths. Dan is still probably in your kitchen. Maybe he has cleaned up like he said he would? You smile, thinking about that. You try to stamp down the bubbly feeling in your chest, and turn off the water.

You walk out of your room a few minutes later, in exercise shorts and a loose sports tee-shirt for a team you don’t even really care for, toweling off your hair. “Sorry that took so long,” you start saying, walking into the kitchen. “I just had to…oh.”

Dan stands there, grinning ear-to-ear, with a plate stacked high with golden, chocolate chip pancakes. “Ta-da!” he sings. “Told you I’d make you breakfast!”

“Is there some breakfast delivery service I don’t know about?” you tease.

Dan feigns a hurt gasp, hand going to his chest dramatically. “I am wounded, young lady! I slaved for days to make these pancakes, I had to grind the flour myself, and then harvest the cocoa beans specifically for these chocolate chips, not to mention milk the cows for…” He stops talking and smiles wide when you start snickering at his joke.

You walk into the kitchen and grab some plates from a high cabinet. He’s cleaned the kitchen, too. No pancake batter in sight. The only indication that the place was once covered in batter is the wet stains on his shirt where he’s wiped it off, and some thats still streaked in his hair.

“Do you want something to drink with those?” you ask over your shoulder.

“Water would be great, my mouth feels like a desert.”

“Gotcha.”

And just like that, a minute later you’re sitting on your couch, leaning against the armrest on one end of the couch while Dan sits parallel to you on the other side. He has his legs crossed, one leg dangling almost entirely off the side of the couch. Jeez, he really was tall.

“Holy fuck, dude,” you say around a mouthful, “these are amazing.”

“Aw, jeez, you’re just trying to flatter me,” Dan says, eating his at a much more reasonable pace. Upon noticing, you immediately feel embarrassed and slow down considerably. “Okay, I’m dyin’ to know, tell me about this Youtube channel of yours.”

You sigh and lean back a little. “Gee, I don’t know. Just a lot of song covers, I guess. I tried that video game thing for awhile, like, playing them and shit? Online? But, uh, I don’t really have the personality for it, I guess. I just curse a lot. Plus I don’t look good on camera.” Your eyes flicker to Dan, who is looking at you with bright eyes. “What?”

“You sing?” he asks excitedly.

“I…I guess?”

Dan gives you an amused look.

“Like you’re not wrong, but it’s not that…I’m not that popular? Not a lot of views? It’s just some spare cash, I, jeez, are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?” You cut off your rambling quickly, looking down at the plate in your lap with a quick blush. If he would just stop staring at you like that.

“Dude, that’s so cool. What’s your channel, I gotta check this shit out.” He shuffles around and pulls out his phone from his back pocket. “I’m writing this down for later, for reals.”

“Did you just say ‘for reals’?” you laugh, and look back up at him. He’s looking at you expectantly. “Fine. Its [Y/C/N], uh…” You spell it out for him. Spelling is crucial. Dan types it dutifully, and then pockets his phone again.

“I’m in a band,” he tells you. “Well, two bands. So, like, that’s actually really cool, y’know? I love music, it’s been my entire life since I was…well, forever, really.”

“Yeah, ditto. What’s, uh, what’s your band…s?”

This time, it’s his turn to blush. You decide you really like the more bashful look on him, although, you seemed to like every look on him. “It’s…okay, I’m really about to blow this whole thing, fuck, but it’s called Ninja Sex Party and we sing about dick jokes and like, random shit, and the other is Starbomb where we sing about video games and dick jokes and…yeah.” He laughs. “I kind of sound like a tool, but I swear, I’m only partially…”

“Ninja Sex Party,” you repeat, chewing on your bottom lip in a terrible habit that revealed you were thinking hard. You cast your eyes away from Dan when you saw his flicker to your lips for a moment, in a weird phantom of the previous night. You're trying not to blush. “I think I’ve heard of that? God, I, where have I heard that?”

Dan laughs a little. “Do you think aloud a lot?” he asks.

“Uh, well not anymore if you’re gonna make fun of me for it,” you tease, going back to eating your pancakes.

“Hey, you got any plans today?” Dan asks suddenly. Your stomach feels a little warmer when you process the question, and you smile a little down at your plate. And then colder when you realize that you kind of do.

“What’s today, Saturday?” you muse aloud, eyes flickering to the analog clock on a nearby shelf. It was already noon.

“Yeah, I have to be at work at 4:30. And…run some errands before that, too. Groceries and shit.” You look back at him. “Sorry.” There is a beat of silence, and you realize that he is, essentially, stuck at your place. “I can drive you home though,” you add. “Obviously. Not like you have a car.”

He laughs. “Thanks."

 

You pull up to his house—shared, apparently, with a roommate, named Barry—an hour later, after you have properly dressed and dumped the dishes in the sink to do later. You two sit in silence for a moment, not looking at each other, before you finally break it.

“Thanks,” you say, looking at him with a small smile.

“No problem,” he replies with a smile of your own, and his eyes wrinkle at the corners.

“No, like…thanks, for putting up with me, and stuff. And, uh, taking care of me. Yeah. That’s…not a lot of people would have done that.” An awkward laugh, you rub the back of your neck.

“I guess I’m just nice people,” he shrugs.

You feel your cheeks burning, the moment of parting crushing down on you. You were so out of practice with this kind of stuff. Do you give him your number? Was that…too forward? Your head feels like its swimming.

“Lemme see your phone,” Dan says suddenly.

“What?” Your immediate reaction is to grab it from its place in the cupholder and move it away from him. “Dude, no.”

Dan giggles. “I’m just giving you my number, not looking for your secret stash of nudes.” He holds out his palm and makes a grabby motion. “Gimme.”

You hand it to him with a slight mumble, “I don’t even have a secret stash of nudes,” and Dan laughs again, louder this time. A moment later, he hands it back to you. You’ve—he’s—-just sent a text message apparently.

>the holy number of (Y/N) (L/N) is what he’s sent himself…under the contact name Danny Sexbang.

“Danny Sexbang?” You phrase it as a question, looking up at him.

“More than a stage name,” he says, trying to sound seductive, but you just laugh. “Okay, I won’t hold you up anymore. Let’s do this again sometime. But maybe with less vomit and hangovers.”

“And less burning down my kitchen.”

“Almost!” Dan corrects insistently. “Almost burn down your kitchen.”

“Whatever,” you laugh. The two of you smile at each other for another moment, and your eyes flicker to the bit of pancake batter still stuck in his hair. Unconsciously, you reach out and catch the offending strand between your fingers, weeding out the batter. “There,” you tell him, throat feeling tight.

Before you can pull your hand back, Dan catches it and pulls it towards him, maintaining eye contact with you as his lips brush over your knuckles. You feel yourself blush. Hard.

“Till next time, m’lady,” he murmurs, lips still against your knuckles. Finally, dear Lord, he winks at you, then lets your hand go and opens the car door, climbing out and walking up the path to his house.

Oh. My. God.

Face still feeling like an inferno, you speed away before you do something stupid.

You’re in the grocery store half an hour later, contemplating whether or not it was worth buying more Bisquick, when you get a text. From Dan…ny Sexbang.

>did i leave my wallet at your place? SOS

With a roll of your eyes, you reply:

>probably, i’ll check when i get back and let you know.

And…after thinking for a minute, standing in the middle of aisle 5, you text your friend Luke.

>why does the band name Ninja Sex Party sound so familiar to me?

Chapter Text

Bartending isn’t your favorite gig, and you’ll be the first to admit it. It’s definitely a money maker, though, because you have some acting skills backing your way of charming customers into making them regulars, and regulars that give good tips. It’s a bit of a rep you have, supposedly. You would go with it as long as it made you money that paid the bills.

Anyway, that reputation got you the prime spot of Saturday nights, a shift that you put up with that lasted from 5pm at the bar’s open to 1am, when you were relieved by a co-worker that only worked until the bar’s closing at 4am. You could fake a charm that gave you an expensive job of hosting the open mic on Saturday nights. It was sort of a weird commission business you had worked out with the boss. You get him more customers, he gives you more money. Plain and simple.

So that put you behind the bar, close to 9pm, that Saturday, chatting with a guy who you just really wanted to go away, with a false sultry smile in hopes that he would give you some extra in your tip. You are also (and would never admit this) desperately trying not to look at the clock because Dan said he would be arriving sometime soon to get his wallet, which you had found at wedged between your couch cushions when you arrived home.

A man with large hair flags you down at the other end of the bar, and you are so very, very thankful to leave this douche behind.

And you are so very, very happy to see that the man with the large hair is actually Dan.

“Hi!” you greet with a large smile, maybe a little too enthusiastically.

“Hey,” he says with an easy smile of his own, leaning over the bar a little. “How’s it hangin’?”

You click your teeth with a roll of your eyes.

“That bad, huh?” Dan laughs.

“I mean, it could be worse,” you say with a shrug. “It always could be worse. Can I get you anything, since you’re here?”

“Ummmm…Well I don’t drink, or I’d ask you for one of those sex drinks,” Dan admits.

“Oh. I can make you a virgin drink; no alcohol in it.”

“Then, make me one of those sex drinks,” he says in a more sultry tone, leaning over the a little with a smirk.

You are very lucky that you’re in the zone, ready for customers, and also the dim lighting, because you manage to barely blush.

“Something sweet,” he adds with a wink.

“One After Sex coming right up,” you reply with a wink of your own, but don’t get to see the fruition of your attempts because you turn your back to him to mix the drink. With a little more show than necessary in the process of actually making it, you place the bright orange drink in front of him a moment later. He immediately plucks the cherry from the top of it and bites it clean off the stem.

“You know what they say about people who can tie a knot with a cherry stem, right?” Dan says after he swallows the actual cherry, and then pops the stem in his mouth.

“Something about big dicks?” you reply, a mock question, watching as Dan struggles to tie the stem with his tongue. “Or is that the foot thing?”

Dan’s face lights up, and he bares his teeth, stem stuck between them, showing off the new knot in the stem. “I fink thats the foot fing,” he says, stem still in his mouth. You laugh, and he grins, taking it out and leaving it on the counter.

“Tell me what you think,” you tell him, motioning to the drink still untouched in front of him. “I’m always looking for improvement,” you tell him.

“You gotta know that I know basically nothing about mixed drinks,” he says.

“Well, lucky for you I’m also always looking for compliments,” you quip, placing your hands on your hips. God, why were you only this suave behind the bar and never in real life? “Try it. Tell me how it is.”

Dan shrugs and takes a sip. He purses his lips, as if contemplating the flavor. “Sweet, but with a little hint of something extra,” he says in a posh voice, and for a moment your façade breaks and you giggle. This makes Dan smile, breaking his own act. “Seriously though, this is fucking amazing.”

“Thanks,” you say genuinely, casting your eyes downward in slight embarrassment. “Uh, I have your wallet in the back, in the safe, with my stuff, let me go—”

Suddenly, the drummer on stage starts tapping away, and the bar quiets at the sound. Your cue to get the show going.

“Sorry! Fuck, hold on, I’ll be right back, I just, I gotta…” You rush off before you finish your sentence, jetting out from behind the bar and taking a leap onto the stage only a few steps away. You smooth our your shirt, and adjust the microphone to your height. With a deep breath to compose yourself, you start the show.

“Hellooooooo everybody, I’m your host, (Y/N), and thank you for coming out to tonight’s open mic,” you greet with a toothy smile, and the bar cheers. There is a slight crowd in front of you, more than you expect. You desperately keep yourself from casting your eyes at Dan, to see how he’s reacting. For a moment, you had completely forgotten about hosting this.

“I’ll explain the rules real quick for any first timers, and any veterans can zone out for a bit. This is the line,” you motion to the line of people off the side of the stage. “If you want to come up and sing, just write down your song on a piece of paper and hand it to our main man Connor, handling the line for us tonight.” A slight applause. “If our band knows it, they’ll play it. If not, turn your phone up to full volume and hope we can hear it from your shitty speakers.” Some laughs at your shitty joke..

“We end at midnight, so be sure to step up before then, and be sure to give everyone a huge round of applause for being brave up here. On that note, I’ll go back to my favorite watching area, and serve your drinks!”

“Give us a song!” a voice from the crowd shouts. You recognize it as one of your regulars. A nice guy, albeit kind of a lightweight.

“I really shouldn…”

Your voice is drowned out by the start of the guitar, a folk song that you used with them to test the equipment. The crowd cheers a little, and you feign an exasperated roll of your eyes and start to sway your hips to the beat of the guitar. You were always a bit of a crowd pleaser.

I guess I grew up on an older road— pedal to the metal, always did what I’s told. Then I found out that my brand new clothes came second hand from the rich kids next door.” You have a hand on the mic now, knowing exactly how to work your stage presence.

Well I grew up fast, I guess I grew up mean. There’s a thousand things inside my head I wish I ain’t seen. But now I just wander through a real bad dream, feelin’ like I’m comin’ apart at the seams.

“Well thank you Jack Daniel’s Old Number Seven. Tennessee whiskey got me drinkin’ in heaven. Angel’s start to look good to me, they’re gonna have to deport me to the fiery deep, well, thank you Jack Daniel’s Old Number Seven. Tennessee whiskey got me drinkin’ in heaven. I know I can’t stay here too long, ‘cause I can’t go a week without doin’ wrong. Without doin’ wrong. Without doin’ wrong, without doin’ wrong.”

You let the band play the bridge a little, your body bouncing a little to the music. Again, acting experience. Stage presence. You don’t let your mind wander off track at all, and start the next lyrics with a smile.

So I’m sittin’ as the bar stool starts to grow roots, feelin’ like an old worn out pair of shoes. Well tell me what is it that I should do, when I’m-a swimmin’ in the liquor only halfway through. So I’m watchin’ as his wings spread as wide as can be,” this you sing and spread your arms wide. “Come on now and wrap them around me,” and you wrap them back around you in a pseudo-hug. “‘Cause all I wanna do now is fall asleep, come down here and lay next to me.

“Well, thank you Jack Daniel’s,” you hold the mic out to the audience,

“OLD NUMBER SEVEN!” they shout,

“Tennessee whiskey got me drinkin’ in heaven. Up here the bottle never runs dry, and you never wake up with those tears in your eyes. Well, thank you Jack Daniel’s Old Number Seven. Tennessee whiskey got me drinkin’ in heaven. Angel’s start to look good to me, they’re gonna have to deport me to the fiery deep. To the fiery deep, to the fiery deep, to the fiery deep. Drinkin’ in heaven…

The band plays out a few more bars, and then finish with a flourish. The crowd cheers, you take a bow, and with your cheeks burning you step off the stage and go back behind the bar.

For once, you’re thankful that there are customers keeping you from going straight to talking to Dan, because now its all caught up to you and you’re just…embarrassed? It might not be the right word, but your unexpected performance in front of, well, Dan, has you a little more giddy than usual. Sort of a butterflies in your stomach type feel, but more of bees buzzing inside your heart.

Eventually, though, you can’t avoid him, because you do kind of have his wallet, and you leave the bar for a moment to grab his wallet from the safe in the office and take it to him. “Here you go,” you say, sliding it over the counter. “Sorry that took so long.”

Dan has a bright look on his face, a wide smile. “Dude.”

“What?” You look down at his empty glass, then back up at him. “Do you want another drink?” You know that isn’t what he’s talking about though.

“Du-ude.”

“Dan.”

“You can sing!”

You’re slightly taken aback. “Uh, I told you I had a youtube channel.”

“Yeah, but, like,” Dan makes some wild hand gestures to express himself, and you smother your laugh a little. “I dunno! You can really sing! That was great!”

“As opposed to fake singing?” you ask with a raised eyebrow, and he giggles a bit. “Thanks, though. I love having my ego stroked.”

“That’s not the only thing I’m good at—…stroking…” Dan falters through his cheesy line halfway through, and you giggle. “That sounded like I’m good at giving handjobs. Which I’m—I mean I’ve never tried, but…”

“You’re such a dweeb,” you laugh.

Dan laughs too, throwing his head back and his curls bouncing wildly. “I don’t think anyone has called me a dweeb since middle school.”

“Well, they should probably do it more often, ‘cause you’re definitely a dweeb.”

“Don’t bully me!”

The two of you are giggling over the bar at this point, and you have to remind yourself for a moment that you are, technically, on the job, which is maybe the only thing that keeps you from getting too caught up in it. In this. Being with Dan was kind of intoxicating at this point.

“I really hate to rain on this parade, but I’m technically…kinda, like, working right now?” You stand up straight and smooth out your shirt again, a sort of nervous habit. “I’m not kicking you out, or anything, but I think people will get kind of angry if I just keep hanging out with one guy the entire night.”

“Oh! Yeah yeah yeah, go,” Dan makes an sort of ‘go ahead’ motion with his hands, “go do your work, don’t let me stop you from getting paid. Shit. When do you, uh, when do you get off? Can I ask?”

You laugh a little, again, there are the bees swarming inside your heart. Trying to push their way out, your chest feels tight in a giddy sensation again. Which is dumb. Your mind tries to reason with itself, he’s just asking a question, it doesn’t—

“It’s not some top secret shit,” you tell him, “but I get off at 1am, so not for awhile. Sorry.”

Dan shrugs a little, and you think he looks almost disappointed. “S’no biggie. I was just—I don’t know, don’t you live kind of far from here? Wanted to make sure you got home okay, ‘nd stuff.”

When you laugh this time, it’s mostly out of pure disbelief. Dan pouts. You think its cute. “I’ve taken care of myself for years, Dan,” you say. “Literally nothing is going to change in one night. I have a car.”

“Whatever,” he mumbles, pout deepening. “I’m just trying to return the favor from you driving me home! Even the scales, as it were.”

“Pretty sure we’re more or less even, but regardless, I will let you get me home safely, again, eventually,” you promise him with a smirk, and then you both dissolve into giggles again. “Oh my god, get out of here before you get me fired or make me lose all my regulars, I need these tips, dude.”

“I can’t believe you’re kicking me out!” Dan feigned hurt, pressing a hand dramatically to his heart. “I’m just trying to give you my business!” True to his word, he takes his newly returned wallet out of his pocket and starts fishing inside it for money.

“Nu-uh,” you tell him quickly, swiping the empty glass off the bar. “That was on the house.”

Dan groans. “You can’t make the scales uneven again!”

“Yes I can. I’m resurrecting the barter system, right this moment. You owe me one favor.” You put the glass in the sink as Dan laughs.

Chapter Text

You work your way into 1am, then keep yourself awake long enough to drive back to your apartment and immediately flop into bed, stripping down to your underwear and no bra on the way to it. And then you work your way through Sunday. And then there’s a plumbing problem in your building, so you work your way through Monday, and Tuesday, and…

It’s a vicious cycle. You bartend on weekends, but the rest of the time you really just do the odd jobs, manual labor, in your building. You do just about everything shy of actual professional maintenance work, in reality. They have you around as an extra set of hands, someone for menial tasks that the rich, elderly people can hire you for. It’s an upscale enough apartment building that this happens weekly, and you do just about any job under the sun they can think of: pet-sitting, painting rooms, building IKEA furniture, stuff like that. Not to mention you’re good with your hands, have a knack for tinkering with things, and can fix most small household problems. Despite having spent more than a year in the building, you always felt guilty that you didn’t even have to pay rent, or any sort of mortgage. Just utilities. Perks of…circumstance.

This week is a little different though. Because instead of filtering music through your headphones while you do mindless jobs, you put on a playlist of Game Grumps playing Ocarina of Time. You text Dan about it, too. The two of you become weirdly familiar with each other over text.

(>Slurmp isn’t even a real name.

>it is if you believe hard enough, which you are clearly having a hard time doing right now.)

So a whole week goes by with the two of you texting in random intervals, eventually becoming daily. You bartend Friday. Saturday. Sunday. And then a new weeks comes. You spend your free time sounding out chords on the piano for a new cover. You record the new vocals, and powering through a tireless night of stitching it all together in GarageBang and then the video recording to go along with it, you throw it up on Youtube that Thursday. You go to bed with the usual sense of satisfaction that these things bring.

And Friday morning, your world explodes.

>dan. Dan holy shit i got 100k hits on my cover from last night!!!

Usually this kind of excited gushing is saved for your best friends—namely Rachel and Luke—but this is blowing your fucking mind. You considered yourself lucky when you had hit 10k on one song. When you had told Dan that your youtube channel was low-key and not all that popular, you really meant low-key and not all that popular.

Your phone chirps only a few minutes after you had sent Dan the text, and you’re eager to see his response.

>may or may not have mentioned you on grumps recently.

Your head is spinning, suddenly. The excitement quickly barrels its way into panic. Instead of texting Dan back, you text Luke. And then you decide this isn’t a texting kind of conversation. Hands shaking, you call him.

Luke has been one of your best friends almost since day one of meeting him when you were fifteen, and him seventeen, which officially punts you guys into the “friends for fuckton ever” category. He’s great. He lives all the way across the country from you, which sucks. Most of your old life remains on the Eascoast, but you like to keep it that way. The two of you keep in the most casual of casual contact, except for when it comes to real distressing life situations. Which this may or may not be.

Helllllllllllllllo.” Luke’s voice is soothing to you. He sounds sleepy. You might have just woken him up, which is ridiculous because you’re three hours behind him, but whatever.

“Do you still watch Game Grumps?” Your tone is pressing. Your entire body seems to be shaking at this point.

Uhhh.” You hear him yawn, and then ruffling in the background. Probably him getting out of bed. “Yeah. I caught up on some of their videos last night.”

“Did they—did Dan talk about me?” Your voice sounds clipped, even in your own ears.

Yeah.” Your stomach sinks. “I was gonna text you about it today, actually. I thought that was fucking cool, that he found out about little ol’ you.

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier!” is phrased as a statement and not a question.

I said I was gonna tell you today, calm down, don’t yell at—

“I met Dan two weeks ago!” you explain in a rush, pacing the room. Your heart is hammering in your chest, and you can hear your pulse in your ears. “He, I, fuck—I went out to get plastered because I had the Friday off and was feeling shitand he was there and he complimented me on my shirt? I was wearing that Triforce one, the limited edition one? The one we have matching shirts of?”

Luke makes a brief noise of acknowledgement, knowing not to interrupt you.

“And then we drank a lot—well I did, he didn’t, I guess, whatever—and then we danced and made out in a back alley? Which is so teenager.”

I told you moving out to California would help you.” Luke sounds playful, but it’s true advice that he gave you over a year ago. “Make you young again.”

“But then he drove me back to mine and I threw up on him and he slept on my couch and I drove him home and now we’re friends? Kind of flirty friends? I don’t know! We’ve been texting! Anyway, now he’s plugged me on his fuckin’ channel, I can’t…” Words are spilling out of your mouth faster than you can process, you're just pacing the entirety of your music room.

Whoa, (Y/N/), deep breaths, dude.

“I’m freaking out here, Luke!”

Yeah, I can tell. Why though?

“Because…! Because…”

Because…?

Silence stretches across the space between you two as you struggle to come up with a reason. “I don’t know,” you finally admit, voice small.

Here’s what I’m thinkin’. You two are friends, right?” Could you consider yourself friends with Dan? Like, internet famous, sings songs about dicks and video games, Dan? You had hardly— “And you didn’t ask him to plug you on his channel. Or on the Game Grumps channel, show, whatever the technical term is. Because, I think if you had done so, you would be less two-steps-away-from-a-panic-attack right now and more…I don’t know.” Damn Luke for knowing you so well. “So…what’s the problem?

You sit down in the middle of the floor, crossing your legs. “I don’t want him to think I’m, like, using him for viewership.” Luke always had a really good way of getting you to admit things you never quite realized. “Or whatever.”

Then tell him that? I don’t really see what the problem is, here.”

“Yes you do.” You press your hand to your forehead.

Is the problem that you seem to be crushing pretty hard on him?

“I am not—”

(Y/N) and Danny sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N—

“Shut the fuck up!” But you’re laughing, your pulse is calmer and your heart is slower. Luke has talked you back from the proverbial ledge for the billionth time. “I’m not gonna do anything, ‘cause nothing is happening.”

You know, your last relationship was almost two years ago, I think it’s time you…

“Sorry, Luke, I’m going through a tunnel!” you tell him quickly, then do a bad impression of phone static. “Can’t hear you! Gotta hang up!”

You can’t avoid this foreve—

“Bye!”

You hang up on him and put your phone on the ground. And then you scramble to grab your laptop, which you had left on the floor from the previous night, and open it. Type Game Grumps into the search bar and click on their Youtube channel. Go to the videos they had uploaded yesterday. And start watching.

It’s about seven minutes in to them playing a recent episode of Sonic And the Black Knights (which…what the fuck), with Arin and Dan laughing about something, you smiling at their antics, and then Dan says, “Oh, dude, I gotta tell you about this one channel I, uh, found the other day.

Yeah?

Yeah, holy shit, it’s this one girl, she’s got an amaaaaaazing voice. I spent, like, all of yesterday listening to the stuff on her channel.

Oh, is this the—

Haha, yep!” Dan cuts Arin off a little nervously. “Yeah, it’s that, her, yeah. Yep. But, anyway, you guys should all check her out, her channel is [Y/C/N] and it’s just fuckin’ amazing, okay. Would I ever steer you guys in the wrong direction?

Probably,” Arin snickers. Your cheeks flush. You pause the video, pick up your phone, feeling nervous, and bite the bullet and ring Dan.

One ring…

Two rings…

Three rings…

Hello?

“Hey,” you say, then pause. “I didn’t think you’d pick up, actually.”

Huh? Do you want me to hang up, then?

“What?” You laugh. “No, no. I just. Um.” Silence. You can hear him breathing on the other end. “You…you said you liked my voice. On your show. Game Grumps.”

Yeah.” You can practically hear the smile in his voice, the lazy droll to it. “I told you that in real life, too, you know.

“Oh, shut up,” you laugh.

Buuuut, yeah, I went through and listened to some—okay, well, all— of the stuff on your channel, I thought…I thought it was really good. It was awhile ago, though. Like, two weeks?

“I, um, listened to what you said. On grumps yesterday.”

Oh! Oh, the episode must’ve come out, then. I…well, yeah, of course. I meant every word of it, too.” He sounds kind of embarrassed, like he's been caught red-handed. You think about him blushing and smile to yourself.

“I…fuck this is so weird,” you laugh suddenly. “Okay, um, ugh, well I just, thanks? I guess? I just—I don’t want you to think I’m using you for viewership, or anything.” The words tumble out of your mouth before you could stop them, and you close your eyes, realizing how weird it all sounded.

I—what?

“Cause you guys have a big audience?” you continue, hardly processing that Dan had said anything. “I know, my friend Luke loves you guys, and he was really impressed that you had ‘found’ me, but I was like, shit, Dan probably thinks that I’m using him as a way to get viewership, and…fuck! That’s not it at all.” You’re babbling, squeezing your eyes shut, your breath coming a little heavier again. “And I told—I told Luke that, and he said you weren’t thinking that I was using you for viewership, but I don’t know, I just have to be—”

Whoa! Whoa, hold on, deep breaths, babe,” Dan interrupts suddenly, and you try to breathe evenly, heart hammering away against your ribcage again. “I, jeez, I never thought you were using me for views or something. Like, we met randomly, right?

Silence. He’s expecting you to answer. “Right,” you affirm.

Cool, so like…I talk about things I like on grumps. And I like you. So…I mean!” Dan backtracks, and your heart wrenches in your chest. God. “I mean, I like your music, not—like, I like you, too, I just—fuck, I’m really fucking this up, okay, so, I like—”

“I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down,” you tell him quickly, now being the one to calm him down. Your heart is still beating too loudly for your liking, but you have a smile on your face.

Okay, phew, okay, good.

You chew the inside of your cheek, trying to quell your smile. You hadn’t talk to Dan outside of text for two weeks, and you had really missed the sound of his voice. Not that you didn’t hear him when you watched Game Grumps, but just talking to him…was good. And bad. And worrying. Your reactions were worrying, not him.

Actually, I was going to call you later. Or text. Whatever. Was wondering if you wanted to get dinner soon? I wanna ask you some things.” He sounds a little nervous, and you can picture him fidgeting a little. It’s endearing.

“Yeah, yeah, sure, I’d love to,” you breathe out, more exhale than actual words. “When were you thinking?”

Um…tonight? Is tonight good?

It’s Friday. You bartend. “No,” you say, voice tight. “Sorry, I—it’s Friday, I have work.”

Oh! Right, rightrightright, sorry, I forgot. Umm…does Tuesday night work, then?

“Perfect,” you reply instantly, already mentally noting to clear any nighttime tasks you have for Tuesday. “That’s perfect.”

Great! Okay, awesome, that’s awesome. I’ll pick you up Tuesday, uhh, say like 6?

“This isn’t a date, is it?” you tease. “Do I have to dress up?”

Oh, god,” Dan laughs. “No, I mean—no! You don’t have to dress up, I mean, not unless you want to. I was just gonna take you to, like, IHOP or whatever. If you’re gonna dress up, though, let me know so I can also do so, we can match and everything.”

You laugh. “Sure, I’ll send you a pic of my prom dress and you can get a corsage to match.”

Awesome.” You and Dan giggle over the phone together. “Okay, I gotta go, I can hear Arin getting impatient, you caught me between recording episodes right now, but I’ll text you later.

“No pressure,” you say, biting your lip.

And no panicking!

“No panicking,” you repeat as a promise, with a small, embarrassed laugh.

Great. See you Tuesday, (Y/N).”

“See you then, Dan.”

You hang up, and lay down on your floor, rerunning the conversation in your head. He had said no, not to dress up…but not no, that it wasn’t a date.

You smile.

Chapter Text

Your closet was, by far, one of the more hazardous parts of your apartment. You kept it clean enough; for the clothes that you wore regularly, at least. The rest that weren’t tee-shirts, painting clothes, ripped jeans, things you could get extremely dirty and still wear while doing hard labor, were shoved in random places that you didn’t think twice about.

…Until now.

“Not a date?” you mutter to yourself, shucking a shirt that was too business-casual over your shoulder. “Not a date.”

You settle, eventually, on a sleeveless blouse that a friend had once described as your color and a pair of dark jeans that were not, miraculously, torn at the knees. As you examine yourself in the mirror, you note with satisfaction that it also makes your ass look great. Score.

The next step is make-up, which involves you looking up tutorials because, while you owned some, you didn’t seem to do it too often anymore. At least, not yourself. And when tutorials failed you, you call up another one of your best friends, Rachel, who answers the phone with a casual, “Hey motherfucker.”

“Teach me how to do make-up.”

Teach yourself.

“I have a…I’m meeting a friend in like, half an hour. Teach me.”

Ooh, a friend? What kind of friend? Who are they? Pics, send pics. Send me pics!

“I’m hanging up,” you tell her.

No! Send me pics! Why are you asking me for make-up advice when you can just look up tutorials?

“Because…you’ve actually seen me? I don’t know! Give me counsel, Rachel.”

You end up having to video chat her on Skype, and she gives you make-up counsel. She also laughs at your struggling to apply the make-up, but you honestly haven’t seen her on video for so long that you allow it. It’s not malicious, anyway. You love her to death, even if she holes herself up in Illinois.

Finally, only five minutes away from 6pm, you sat on your couch, staring at your phone. Nervously tapping your feet. Not a date, you repeat to yourself. Then your phone buzzes. It’s from Dan.

>outside!

You rush out of your apartment, being sure to lock the door behind you (because forgetting to do so was an unfortunate habit of yours), and go down the steps too quickly to be safe, too nervous to take the elevator. When you exit the front doors of your building, you see Dan in one of the front parking spaces, sitting on the hood of a car you assume is his. To your relief, he’s wearing some band t-shirt, a leather jacket, and ripped jeans, his hands jammed into his front pockets. No tuxedo.

“Hey!” you greet him, stopping a few feet in front of him. “What’s up?”

Dan shrugs, a smile tugging on the corner of his lips. “Nothin’ much,” he says, sounding a little cheeky. “You look nice.”

You blush, which is dumb. “You’re not too bad looking yourself,” you respond.

“Kinda disappointed in the lack of prom dress, though,” he teases.

“Hey, I don’t see you in a tux,” you counter with the same tone. Dan laughs, and with a jerk of his head, motions for you to get in the car. You pull open the door and sit in the passenger seat, Dan getting behind the wheel.

“So, you never sent me a photo of what you were wearing,” Dan says suddenly, and you whip your head towards him, extremely confused as he turns and reaches behind him to the backseat. “So I just went with white, if that’s okay.”

And, holy shit, he pulls out a clear box with a corsage in it.

Your hands fly to your mouth, smothering your laughter. Dan grins at you, teeth showing, and you compose yourself with only a few giggles escaping, grabbing the box from him. “Oh my god,” is the only words you manage to get out.

“I know, I’m such a considerate prom date.”

“Should I put it on?” you ask, opening the box and rubbing one of the white petals between your fingers. They were real flowers. “Wear it to IHOP?”

“Oh my god, please,” Dan snickers, draping an arm over the driver’s seat and looking backwards, pulling out of the parking space.

 

You two sit in an IHOP booth ten minutes later, you with a corsage strapped to your wrist and Dan with a smile he can’t seem to shake. You both order stacks of double chocolate pancakes. “Just thought I’d keep with our pancake tradition, you know?” Dan says.

“I didn’t know it was a tradition,” you say.

Dan shrugs. “Let’s make it one.” Pause. “Okay, I wanna get this out of the way quickly. Not—not the dinner! Just, what I wanted to ask you,” he stumbles over his words a little.

“Ask away,” you say, resting your chin in the palm of your hand and looking at him.

“I…okay it’s not really a question as much as it is an offer, uh, but when I was listening to your covers and stuff I was…the recording equipment you have is decent-ish but not excellent? Like, far from, so I’m offering for you to use ours briefly if you want to and I can give you some voice lessons too and…” Dan trails off at the slightly taken-aback look on your face. “It’s not—it’s not me saying your voice is bad!” he quickly backtracks. “Like, it’s excellent, don’t get me wrong! But I’ve just heard you in real life, versus you online, and…You don’t—I mean, I think everyone has room for improvement, even me, I…”

“I’d love to!” you blurt. “That’s, um, that’s really generous of you, actually. I haven’t had a lot of time to do any kind of…I feel like I’m falling out of touch, I guess.” Your head feels like its reeling. Dan is offering you voice lessons? Professional recording equipment? But Dan is offering you voice lessons, he says your voice isn’t bad, but—

“I’m not saying you need lessons,” Dan asserts, and your eyes suddenly focus back on him. He’s has a reassuring sort of smile on his face, and he places his hand on top of yours. The one with the white corsage. You stare down at your hands, touching. He’s warm. Your hands are cold. “So stop panicking.”

“I’m not panicking,” you mumble, heart hammering away in your chest. You’re trying to get a deep breath in while being discreet.

“You look like you’re about to explode,” Dan jokes a little.

You scowl loudly, angry that you're so easily read, and look back up at him. He’s still smiling at you. Warmly. You try to mirror it. “I’d like the lessons,” you tell him genuinely. “And the opportunity to use some professional equipment.”

Now he’s grinning. “Great. Great, awesome. And don’t—don’t think of it as lessons? Like…a mutual learning jam session.”

You nod, slipping your hand out from under his so you can start eating your pancakes. “A mutual learning jam sesh’.”

 

If I had wiiiings like Noah’s dooove, I’d fly the river to the one I loooove,” you sing to yourself in the car, pulling into the parking lot at the address Dan had sent you. “Fare thee well honey, fare thee well.”

You were at the building Dan referred to as the grump’s space, close to midnight, only three days later, getting ready to record using their equipment. You could hardly believe it. You had foregone make-up this time, knowing you would just get lipstick on your teeth and probably sweat right through it if you got too nervous.

And boy, were you nervous.

>i’m here

You text Dan, and almost immediately he busts out the front door, like he was waiting for you. You turn your car engine off, unbuckle, and get out of the car. Dan meets you with a grin you can see even in the dark.

“Hey, (Y/N)! Hey, hey hey hey,” he’s bouncing a little on his feet.

“Hi,” you laugh a little. “You good there?”

“Ah, just a little bit of a sugar rush!” He wraps an arm around your shoulder and starts practically dragging you towards the building. You have a bit of forethought to lock your car, and then you’re being pushed into the building. “This, you’re gonna love this, the grump’s space kicks ass.”

The grump’s space does, in fact, seem to kick ass. People’s desks are set up, personalized, two or three monitors on each desk for maximum efficiency. There’s a kitchenette. Tons of stuff hanging from the walls. There’s a door in the back, and Dan drags you inside, starts talking rapidly. You hardly catch what he’s saying, he’s talking so fast.

“—and back there is the recording room, that’s where we’ll be tonight, and that’s Suzy’s desk and that’s Barry’s desk and that’s—”

You zone out again, looking around. The place is—not deserted. There are three people in the office, at their respective desks, headphones in. Of course, when you had walked in, they each had taken them off and were clustered together, whispering to each other, snickering together.

“Hey guys!” Dan greets, steering you in their direction and oh god, oh god no. “This is (Y/N)! She’s gonna be using our recording space with me tonight.”

“Hey, (Y/N),” the one woman out of the group says, and her voice is gentle and she looks nothing short of absolutely gorgeous. You’re instantly smitten. Instant crush. Just add water. “I’m Suzy!”

“Hey,” you try not to sound too flustered, but you usually are around beautiful women.

“That’s Arin and Barry,” Dan says, before the other two men can introduce themselves.

“I’m Barry,” says the one with his hair pulled in a ponytail and a bleached streak.

“Arin, that’s me,” says the one with short hair and thick beard.

“You guys suck!” Dan complains. His arm is still around your shoulder, keeping you pulled close to him. “The guy with short hair is Barry, and the one with stupidly long hair is Arin.”

“I don’t think you can be the one to call long hair ‘stupid’,” you quip, looking up at him.

Dan whines, “Shut up!” as the other three erupt into laughter.

“I like her,” Arin (formally Barry) says with an easy-going grin, leaning back in his chair. “Let’s keep her.”

“Arin does Game Grumps with me,” Dan starts explaining. “He’s married to Suzy—”

“Hell yeah I am!”

“—and Barry does Steam Train with Ross, who isn’t here…but Barry’s my roommate too! Bachelor’s pad, baby!”

There’s a sudden dawn of realization on Barry’s face. “Wait, (Y/N)? Like, [Y/C/N]?”

“Thank you, so much, for saying that correctly,” you sigh, a relieved smile on your face. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“You drove Dan home a few weeks ago, right?”

Oh god. “Yep.”

“Can I just say, thank you for saving me the trip to get him,” Barry says, grabbing your hand and shaking it so hard your entire arm bounces with it. “You absolute saint.”

“Shut up, Barry!” Dan practically shrieks, and you laugh. Then Dan is steering you away from the three of them, who are all laughing amongst themselves, and towards the recording room. “You’re all terrible and I hate you!” Dan calls over his shoulder, shoving you inside the room and slamming the door behind him. When you look at him, his face is bright red.

“Red’s a good color on you,” you comment, smirking at him.

“They’re the worst,” Dan bemoans, rubbing his palms over his cheeks as if hoping to scrub away his blushing. “Whatever, let’s get this jam sesh’ started!” He fishes around in his front pocket, and pulls out his phone. “I’m gonna document this, it’ll make a great video.”

“Document this?” you ask, skeptical, but then Dan is shoving the phone in your face, apparently recording a video.

“Heyyyy! Hey, this is (Y/N)! She’s gonna be doing some recording!”

You swat the phone away, and Dan giggles as he backpedals some. “Focus on the important things here!” you scold, but it’s not genuine. It’s part of an act. Suddenly you’re acting.

“Music! Music is the important thing!”

 

Around two in the morning, you were ready to actually start recording. You had set up your camera—which you had left in your car, and had to run back out to get—and had headphones hung around your neck. Dan sat on the couch, phone out, recording as you paced the room and did vocal warm ups.

“Red leather, yellow leather. Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather,” you chanted, enunciating every bit to exaggeration. “What a to-do to die today a minute or two till two. A thing distinctly hard to say and harder still to do. We’ll beat a tattoo, at twenty to two, a ratta-tat-tatta-tat-tatta-tattoo, and the dragon will come when he hears the drum, a minute or two to die today at a minute or two till two.” You take a deep breath. “Okay, let’s get this show on the road.”

Dan gives you the thumbs up.

You put the headphones on and plug them into the computer, step right up to the microphone that has been adjusted to your standing height. You press a few buttons to start recording, then press play to start the music. And then you start singing.

Tell me who you are and who you were. How much have you been paid? Take it easy— R.E.L.A.X. Would you like to have something to drink?

The song is more rap than you’re used to, with extremely hard consonants and increasing speed. You have to do the song four or five times before you’re happy with it. The entire thing takes close to ninety minutes. Dan dutifully sits through each take, giving you pointers in between, reviewing the recordings with you. Your voice is raw by the time you finish.

“That’s was amazing!” Dan praises, lowering his phone as you take off your headphones and put them back around your neck.

Instead of gracing him with a vocal answer, you give him a thumbs up and go straight for your water bottle, quickly downing half of it.

“That’s from a video game, right? You told me that.” Dan asks, scooting over on the couch as an indication for you to sit next to him.

“Yep.” Your voice is a little raspy, and you take the seat next to him. You’re freezing cold, the air conditioning up high, goosebumps rising on your skin, and you snuggle close to him for warmth. Dan is perpetually a human space heater, it seems. “The World Ends With You.”

“You’ve played it?” Dan gets the message and throws an arm around you, tugging you into his lap. You bring your knees up to your chest and curl up there, soaking up the his body heat. He wraps both of his long arms around you to keep you close.

“Oh, yeah. Tons of times. One of my favorite games.”

The two of you lapse into silence, and its only then that your exhaust really hits you, having been up since 9am that day. It was close to four in the morning now. Your eyelids feel heavy. Deciding that its time for you to head home, you try to break your way out of Dan’s grasp.

In response, he only tightens his hold on you.

“And where do you think you’re going?” he teases, and you’re pressed so close you can feel his voice rumbling in his chest.

“If you don’t let me go, I’m gonna fall asleep in the next thirty seconds,” you tell him, struggling against him again. He giggles, and you scowl loudly but smile regardless. Dan may be stick thin, but there’s a strength to him you didn’t expect, and you find yourself wiggling in his lap trying to get free, both of you giggling at the struggle between you two. He’s got you trapped against him, practically cradled there.

“If you don’t stop, I’m gonna pop a boner,” Dan suddenly threatens, jokingly, but you cease moving regardless.

“You better let me go, then,” you reply.

“Uh, I don’t think so,” Dan says, and you try to elbow him in the chest, but have little room to do it. He laughs at your attempt.

In a final act of desperation, you gyrate your ass directly over his crotch.

“Fuckin’…” Dan curses, and his arms loosen just enough for you to burst your way out, tumbling to the floor on your hands and knees. You laugh, sitting back on your knees, and smirk up at him. He looks bewildered, with hair somehow frizzier than usual and a flush on his cheeks you can even see in the dimness of the recording room. “That was cheating,” he informs you, slouching back into the couch. It makes him spread his knees a little wider.

If you allowed your thoughts to get away with you, you would imagine leaning forward and palming his crotch, unzipping his jeans, taking out his cock and taking it in your mouth. You would imagine the pink spreading farther over his face, the moans he would make as you blew him. His hands in your hair. Making him cum.

But you don’t allow your thoughts to get away with you, and instead say sweetly, “All’s fair in love and war.”

The two of you look at each other for a moment, and then Dan says, “So are you gonna blow me while you’re down there, or…hey!” and laughs when you slap his thigh, then use it to balance yourself to stand up.

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” you scold, and Dan giggles and stands too, again towering over you. You move away and start to pack up your things.

“They don’t call me Sexbang for nothin’, sweetheart.”

“You have got to deflate that ego a little, bud,” you say, letting the nickname slide. For some reason it sounds much more endearing and much less sleazy when Dan says it. You finally stick everything back in their respective cases, and sling both your camera bag and computer bag over your shoulders. “Thanks for letting me use the space. And for the mutual jam sesh’.”

Dan jams his hands in his front pockets and smiles at you, head titled down a little so he’s looking through the hair that falls over his face. “My pleasure.” A pause, and then, “Um, so Barry probably took the car home, can, um…”

“Yes, you can get a ride,” you sigh, smiling, and the two of you walk out of the grump’s space. Dan locks the door behind him, and the two of you pile into your car.

“You can consider this another favor to your debt, by the way,” you inform him a few minutes in, after Dan has sufficiently fiddled with the radio until he found an appropriate tune.

“Okay, but I also just did you a favor, so…shit, wait, I’m still indebted to you. Fuck, I gotta think of stuff quick,” Dan laughs. “I’ll get you in my debt soon enough.”

Chapter Text

You sleep in till noon that morning, stretching and popping your joints and lazing in bed until you finally decide that you should start putting together the cover in GarageBand before you have to start your shift at the bar. You grab around blindly on your bedside table, find your phone, yank it off its charging chord, and sit up, rubbing your eyes and checking for missed messages.

Danny Sexbang (4 iMessages)

>its too early to be awake…why did you let me stay up so late :(

>please tell me you’re awake so we can suffer together

>you’re asleep aren’t you. you motherfucker

>i take back that motherfucker comment im sorry :(

You laugh at the absurdity of it all, and type back a quick reply before sliding out of bed and going to make yourself some coffee.

>slept in late biatch >:)

 

Experienced at this by now, it only takes you an hour to stitch together the entire cover of Game Over in GarageBand (the audio is so much better with the Grump’s recording equipment, you are very thankful), which leaves you ample time to put together the video to go along with it. It takes a little bit of time, considering that you have a hard time watching yourself on camera. You have to force yourself not to turn away or press pause when you watch yourself, from only twelve hours ago, press yourself too close to the mic, fiddle with your hands, get too into the song. You feel embarrassed, but plow through it. A side effect of your anxiety when it comes to performing. But you performed to conquer your anxiety. A double edged sword.

Around 4pm, you’re getting dressed for the bar, brushing your hair, as the video is almost finished rendering, you’re just going to put it up online right before you leave, and…

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

“Oh my god,” you whisper, stumbling over your own feet to get to your laptop in the living room. You watch in horror as the screen freezes, only a few seconds from finishing rendering, and you click the mouse in desperation several times, as your computer’s fan whirs to life, heavily, loud, and distressing. “No, no, no no!” you chant to yourself.

The screen goes black.

“Motherfucker!” you yell, slamming your fists on the couch in anger. You wait a few seconds, then press the power button.

It takes a few minutes for the computer to boot up again, and you enter your password with shaky fingers, anxiously waiting to see what damage has been done. Hopefully none. But you know better than to hope.

When your desktop screen loads, you frantically search it for the icon that’s—there, you double click the icon for the video. It takes a brief moment to load, and then, you sigh in relief, see the video, perfectly edited together on your screen.

You press play.

…And feel your stomach plummet when you realize there’s no audio.

“No…” you moan at the screen, minimize the video window, and search for your audio track. When you open the GarageBand file, it shows no progress. Just all of the different tracks uploaded, but not edited. Without the correct blend of harmonies and music, it sounds like shit.

Unsure what to do, you text Dan in distress.

>was rendering the video when my shitty laptop shut down…the video is still there but no audio…im so fucked. now i gotta work backwards to match the visual, its gonna take 50 years

You lay on your floor, uncomfortable on the hardwood but unwilling to move in your depressive state, when Dan texts back.

>gimme 5

What?

>5?

Is your response.

Five minutes later, your phone goes off. Caller ID says Danny Sexbang.

“Hey-o,” you greet, sounding deadpan.

Hey!” Dan sounds enthusiastic. “I’m in between episodes, right now, so I gotta make this quick.

“Make…make what quick?”

Well, I—you should send me the video and the audio and I’ll stitch it all together for you.”

“What?” You’re confused. You check the clock—ten minutes until you should get on the road. “No, I…aren’t you, like, super busy on a constant basis?”

Dan laughs. “Yeah, pretty much. But I can spare a few hours to put something together for you.

You sit up. “That’s…really nice of you, Dan, but I don’t wanna impose. It’s my channel and stuff.” You worry your bottom lip between your teeth.

C’monnnn, you gotta let me do this. I’m indebted to you anyway, I gotta start racking up my own favors,” he whines. Before you can respond, you hear voices in the background. Dan tells you, “Hold on,” and then, distantly, he shouts, “God, one second, Arin, I’m on the phone! You’re not my real dad!” And then, back to you, “Sorry, I gotta get back to recording. Text me if you do send it my way. And please do.

“Okay,” you say, a little quiet.

Great! Okay, bye!” And then he hangs up.

You turn your phone over in your hands a few times, thinking to yourself. Do you trust Dan with something as important as this? Of course, you think. That’s not the problem. The problem is shucking off your work onto him. Him, who is infinitely busier than you are. But are you really putting it off onto him? He offered. Insisted even.

Making the decision as the seconds clock down for you to leave, before you can overthink and regret it, you text him a quick affirmative and pull up your email, send off the footage and the raw audio, and press send.

 

The bar keeps you busy that night, being a Friday, and you have plenty of work to do. When you get out at 1am, sweaty and ready to collapse into your bed, you have a few texts from Dan.

>aight i’m starting now!

>just from the raw audio, the cover is really good, btw. your enunciation is awesomesauce

>do you mind if i add a few clips that i recorded on my phone to the video?

>just realized you’re at work…i’m gonna do it anyway

>just sent the finished product back to you, tell me what you think?

The last text had been sent only fifteen minutes ago, and you refresh your email and see an email from one Leigh Avidan. Huh. His real name was Leigh.

You ignore the fact that your bed is calling your name as soon as you trudge through the front door, and instead pull out your laptop and open your email, finding two videos attached to Dan’s email, and download them both. You press play on the first, longer one.

It’s essentially the same video, but during instrumental parts, footage from his phone is used. The audio is close to what you had originally edited it into, which you are thankful for. You use multiple shots for multiple layers of audio, and you’re incredibly satisfied by the time the end title screen pulls up. However, there are at least thirty seconds left when it does pull up. You watch curiously for what he’s added to the end.

It’s a quick clip of you doing your vocal warm ups, something that is absolutely ridiculous to watch and even more ridiculous to do, while you yell, “Hep! Hup! Hyep!” at yourself. The camera shakes a little, you can hear Dan snickering behind it, and then video-you turns to it and points an accusing finger directly at him. “Eat an enti-ire diiiiick,” video-you sings at him, and then the video ends.

The other video in the email is your original video, unedited except for the new audio. You like the newer one a lot better.

Smiling to yourself, you close your laptop and shed your clothes on your way to your bedroom, crawling under the covers, plugging your phone in. You text Dan quickly before you pass the fuck out.

>its fucking amazing, dan. i love it. perfect. thank you so much.

You’re already asleep when he responds only a minute later.

>thats so great to hear.

 

You upload the video as soon as you wake up the next morning, leaving a note in the description that Dan Avidan from Game Grumps saved your ass and did you a favor, and that, yes, you were definitely indebted to him now. Like usual, you refuse to check your views or comments until at least 12 hours afterwards, so you busy yourself with laundry until your shift at the bar.

You walk in, the place is empty, and you start setting up shop. Put chairs at tables, wipe down the tables and bar and any spare glasses that weren’t clean from last night. You stick a few dollars in the register, and pop open a beer for yourself, setting up the equipment for the Open Mic. It was Saturday. This was your gig.

“(Y/N)!” your boss barks at you, poking his head out of the office in the back.

“Yes?” you call in return, trying to put together the mic stand.

“You’re taking tomorrow off.”

You look up at him. “I am?”

“You are!” And on that note, he closes the door behind him, back in solitude.

You shrug, going back to mic assembly. You never bothered to try and understand the way his mind worked, and you definitely weren’t going to refuse the a day off.

Two minutes before opening, when you change into your black shirt and pants, tying the apron behind your back, you get an idea. As you place your phone in the security safe in the office, you quickly text Dan.

>got tomorrow off. you should come over so i can bake you cookies as thanks

 

Dan’s response:

>oh fuck yeah!! cancelling all my plans as we speak

Chapter Text

You hear a pounding on your door at 2pm the next day, while you’re standing barefoot in your kitchen trying to make cookies from scratch. Even as you put the bowl of dry ingredients on the counter, the loud knocking continues.

“One sec, one sec!” you call.

When you open the door, Dan stands there sheepishly, hands shoved in his front pockets.

“Hey,” he says with a sly grin.

“You are so fucking impatient,” is your response as you step aside to let him in. You close the door and lead him to the kitchen. “I was just starting the cookies.”

“Oooh, from scratch?” Dan marvels, observing the ingredients strewn across your counter. “Fancy. Didn’t know I warranted this kind of treatment.”

“Well, I was just gonna buy cheap, pre-made cookie dough,” you start, going back to mixing together the dry ingredients, “but everyone loves the video you made, and are also collectively losing their shit that I know Danny Sexbang from Game Grumps, so…” You look over your shoulder at Dan, who’s rocking back and forth on his feet, looking like he’s holding himself back. “What?”

“It’s just all so exciting!” he says. “You’re becoming popular! Fame! Fortune!”

“Yeah, because of you.” You sound a lot more bitter than you mean to.

“You’re unique,” Dan reassures you, tone soft now. “You’re gonna make a name for yourself, I know it.”

You don’t respond, cheeks burning and a feeling like you’ve suddenly swallowed butterflies. It was a great compliment. Unique. A name for yourself. You busy yourself with mixing ingredients.

“Hey, can we turn on some music?” Dan asks eagerly. “You’re pick,” he adds, like that will sway you.

You laugh a little, leaving the mixing bowl on the counter and grabbing your phone. “Yeah, sure. I’ve got a playlist I’ve been listening to, hold on.” You plug your phone into a portable speaker you keep on top of the fridge, and start the playlist.

Tonight…gonna have myself a real good time, I feel ali-i-i-ive,” the sweet voice of Freddie Mercury sings.

And the world!” Dan belts, and you laugh. “Turnin’ inside out. Floatin’ around in ecstasy, so—

Don’t! Stop me now,” you sing with him, and he grins. “Don’t stop me…

CAUSE I’M HAVIN’ A GOOD TIME, HAVIN’ A GOOD TIME!” Dan practically shouts over you, grabbing your hand and pulling you to him to dance. Your kitchen isn’t all that large, so it’s mainly you laughing as he twirls you a few times before you just watch him dance. Throughout the song he violently thrusts his hips in the air, and the two of you dramatically sing the entire song together. You’re breathless when the next song, Rock This Town, blasts its opening chords.

“Goddamn,” Dan laughs, breathing heavy. “That was great. Shit, I love Queen.”

You agree, going back to making cookies. Dan hums Rock This Town, looking over your shoulder as you pour the liquids into another bowl, mixing them. For the two minutes of the song, the two of you just catch your breath.

But then the opening chords of Can’t Help Falling In Love start playing. And you’re a sucker for Elvis.

Wise men say, only fools rush in,” you sing softly, and Dan is silent, listening. You’re blissfully unaware, though, suddenly in your own world. “But I can’t help falling in love with you.”

Shall I stay?” Dan sings, and you spin around, surprised. He’s giving you a warm smile, and holds out a hand to you. Slightly covered in flour, you blush and take it, heart hammering. “Would it be a sin? If I can’t help falling in love with you?” The hand that isn’t in yours settles on your hip, and you put yours on his shoulder. The two of you are swaying to the music, slow dancing.

Like a river flows,” he sings over Elvis, tone just as sultry. “Surely to the sea.”

Darling, so it goes,” you sing with him, softly. You can’t look away from his eyes, his face, so close to yours. He’s leaning down towards you, hair tickling your face slightly singing so that only you can hear…not that there is anyone else to listen. “Some things are meant to be.

“Take my hand…take my whole life too. For I can’t help falling in love…with…you…” Dan whispers the last two words, then breaks your clasped hands, cupping your face and sealing his lips over yours.

You settle your newly freed hand on the side of his neck, the other hand still gripping his shoulder, and pull him in closer as you open your mouth to him, lips working against each other. You feel Dan smile into the kiss, tongue working its way into your mouth, using the hand on your hip to pull you closer to him.. You can feel his stubble scratching against your skin, his thumb stroking your cheek gently. Your noses are pressed against each other, and you change the angle just slightly, and…there. You’re standing on your tiptoes making out with Dan Avidan in your kitchen. Elvis Presley continues to sing around you. “Take my hand…Take my whole life too…For I can’t help falling in love with you…

Your kisses grow in intensity, and you have to gasp in breaths every time you pull away just to dive, headfirst, back in. Then Dan backs you up, crowding you against the counter. He’s hunched over you, filling every space possible. You feel his hands start to slide up your shirt, over your stomach, and—

You giggle a little, breaking the kiss. “Sorry,” you say quietly, sheepish, ducking your head in embarrassment. “I’m ticklish.”

“Oh my god.” Dan runs a finger over your stomach again, and it spasms under his touch slightly as you giggle again, trying to swat his hand away. “That is so cute.”

“Stop it,” you chide, threading both hands in his hair and pulling him back to kiss you. He happily obliges, hands finally making it past your stomach and, breaking the kiss again, pulling your shirt over your head. He throws it back over his shoulder as he stares down at your chest.

“You’re not wearing a bra,” he says.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” you retort, and then sigh a little when he starts to play with your breasts gently.

“That’s great. Goddamn. You’re perfect,” he mutters, then goes back to eagerly kiss you. Dan is still hunched over to achieve this, so you brace your hands on the counter, ready to heave yourself up. He wraps his hands around your waist and together you lift yourself onto the counter. You knock something over, a bowl, but ignore it. You’ll deal with it later, you decide.

Finally you’re at his height. You pull him closer by his shirt, fisting it in the front, now able to truly work your stuff. You wrap an ankle around his leg and use it as leverage to pull him close to you. Legs spread wide, he settles neatly between them.

Dan huffs out a breath against your lips, grinding against you leisurely, thumbs rubbing circles over your hipbones. The friction is simultaneously perfect and not enough, and heat pools at your core. He works his lips down your chin, over your jaw, then under it, and finally settles on a spot on your neck to begin making a mark.

“Didn’t know you were into hicki-ies!” you squeal slightly, toes curling when he bites down lightly, then soothes over it with his tongue.

“Not as much as I’m into the noises you make when I give them,” he quips against your skin, and you laugh a little breathlessly. Dan is still grinding against you, with more fervor now, hands just gripping at your hips like his life depends on it. You push his hair away from his face, combing your fingers through it. Dan whines, a little breathless against you, leaning into your touch. As he continues to rut against you, you feel the bulge in his jeans.

You work one of your hands between the two of you, and Dan gets the message, ceasing his hip movement but leans his forehead against yours. His eyes are half-lidded with lust as you unbuckle his belt, and tug the zipper out and down. You slip one of your hands into his jeans, pressing the palm of your hand against his dick through his boxers.

And Dan full out moans.

“You wanna take this to the bedroom, hotshot?” you breathe in his ear.

“Uhhh.” For a moment, he’s run out of words. Then he grabs your wrist, the one whose hand is down his pants, and pulls it out. Then both hands are back on your hips, and he lifts you off the counter. You make a surprised, completely undignified noise, securing your arms around his neck again, and Dan places you back on your feet.

“Let’s go.”

You leave the music running in your kitchen. Surely A-ha wouldn’t mind.

He sheds his shirt and jeans the second he gets through the bedroom door, you slipping off your extremely ripped paint jeans, and then Dan practically tackles you to the bed. You laugh as he wiggles his way up your body. He braces his hands on either side of your head and leans down, kissing you sweetly.

“You’re gorgeous,” he tells you when he pulls back a moment later.

You blush, and purposefully tangle your fingers in his hair and tug lightly. Dan gives off a breathless laugh. “Stop that,” you tell him.

“Stop what?” he breathes, grinning down at you.

“I’m already in bed with you,” you reply. “You don’t have to keep complimenting me.”

“Oh, but I do, babygirl,” he purrs, leaning down and kissing you again. This time it’s much more heated, there’s a promise of things soon to come underneath, and you spread your legs wider so that he can fit his hips nicely over them again. The two of you are still only in your underwear, and you can feel his hard-on clearly, rubbing against you.

“Ah, shit,” Dan groans, mouth going slack for a moment. There’s a wave of warmth in your abdomen, a telltale sign that this is really turning you on, and you rock your hips up against him, trying to get as much friction as possible. For a moment the two of you just breathe heavily against each other, humping, until a particularly good grind hits your clit just right and has you digging your fingers into his back, your breath punching itself out of your lungs.

It’s Dan that snaps out of the haze first, because then he’s everywhere, kissing you heatedly and then trailing kisses down your neck, collarbone, over your breasts, down your stomach, his hands leading the way with soft caresses. He treats your body like a desert man has just found an oasis. Like it’s the best things he’s ever experienced.

“Fu-uuck,” you moan when you feel Dan press an open mouthed kiss to your cunt, over your panties. Which aren’t—even panties, you realize with embarrassment, its some really worn out, orange underwear.

“If I had known—” your breath hitches mid-sentence as Dan runs a finger over you through your soaked underwear, “—that this was gonna happen I would’ve—ah!—worn something sexier.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Dan mumbles, pressing kisses to the inside of your thighs as you spread your legs wider, unconsciously, trying to give him the most room possible. You lift your head off the bed to look down at him, and god does he look gorgeous there between your legs. “Gonna be gone, soon, anyway.”

“Someone’s cocky,” you tease, breathless, smoothing his mane of hair back away from his face so you can get a better look at him.

Dan chuckles, peeking up at you. “You wanna stop now?” Before you can answer, he pushes your panties aside, and dips his middle finger into you. “I don’t think you do,” he says, slipping it out and grabbing them by the waistband, pulling them down your legs. You kick them off quickly, and Dan settles neatly between your legs again. “You’re too wet.”

“Fuck,” you groan, and Dan smirks at you, eyebrows raised. “I’m starting to think you’re all talk, Sexbang. Or are you gonna get—ah, fuck.” Your retort is cut off when he does a large, Saint Bernard lick right over your dripping cunt.

“What was that?” he asks, then puts his mouth over your clit and rubs the flat of his tongue over it. In response, you just tighten your grip in his hair and stifle what was sure to be an embarrassing noise. He slips his middle finger into you again, and curls it upward, dragging slowly on your upper wall until it goes, agonizingly slow, over your g-spot. Combined with him battling his tongue over your clit, you spasm a little. Overstimulation.

“Something about all talk?” he continues when he pulls back, leisurely pumping his middle finger in and out of you.

“Yeah, as in, if you don’t stop talking and get to work I’m gonna kick you out,” you threaten, but its so breathless and with such a wonderstruck smile that Dan wouldn’t even begin to be able to take it seriously.

“Ah, fuck, don’t want that,” Dan mutters, adding a second finger and curling them upward as he drags them back out. Your hips jerk slightly, and he uses one large hand on one of your hip to keep them steady. “My boner would hold a real grudge.” On that note, he goes back to worshipping your cunt.

You rock your hips against his mouth as much as you can as he goes. When he has his tongue both between your folds and your clit and hums, your hands tighten in his hair so much that he whines, having to pull back. As he catches his breath, placing kisses on the insides of your thighs again but still pumping two fingers into you with increased speed, you smooth your hands over his hair again, practically petting him.

And then he goes back at it again with increased vigor, and it takes only a few drags of his tongue over your clit before your moaning, “Dan, Dan, ohhhh, fuck,” and come. Hard. Your toes curl and your knees bend, back arching slightly. It crashes in a large wave right over you, and then smaller waves as Dan just continues to go to town on your cunt, your body doing small spasms as you come down and he continues with the same intensity. Fucking Christ. You have to tug him away by the hair.

“Too much?” he teases.

“Do you want me to blow you?” you ask in response, and Dan laughs, resting his cheek against your thigh. You hadn’t noticed before, but he’s been rutting against the bed.

“Maybe next time. You got a condom?”

Your heart flips a little when you hear next time. “Yeah, top righthand drawer,” you tell him, and he stands up shedding his own boxers. His cock juts out, bouncing a little as Dan scrambles back onto the bed, kneeling over your stomach, and yanks the drawer open, shuffling through it. You lick your hand, and grab his dick, stroking it slowly.

Dan groans, a hand flying out and hitting the wall to steady himself. “Fuck, I—is this a vibrator?” he asks, gaze shifting to look inside your drawer.

You laugh, just at the absurdity of it all. “Yeah, I live alone and don’t bone down regularly, of course it’s a vibrator, Dan.” You swipe your thumb over the head of his cock, and feel his thighs shake.

Suddenly, Dan slams the drawer closed, and you see a shiny packet in his hand. He rips it open with his teeth, and you say, “Show-off.”

Dan just winks down at you, and then leans back on his knees. You remove your hand so he can roll the condom on, pinching the top.

“You ready?” Dan asks, sounding breathless.

You reach up and cup his face, bringing him down to kiss you again. “Yeah.”

With one hand to guide him, he lines himself up and pushes in, slowly. You moan into his mouth, his going slack as you breathe a little heavy.

“You okay, babygirl?” His voice sounds clipped, like he’s holding back. He’s only halfway in.

“Uh-uugh, yeah, fuck, keep going,” you urge him, spreading your legs wider and wrapping an ankle around his thigh. Dan pushes the rest of the way in, groaning as his bottoms out, and you squeeze your eyes shuts. It burns, there’s no denying it. “Just been awhile,” you tell him. Your hands grip at his shoulders, as if hanging on for dear life. You haven’t felt this full in so long.

“Fuck, fuck…” Dan breathes. The two of you are chest to chest, hip to hip, he has his hands braced on either side of your shoulders. His breath huffs against your cheek.“That’s—fine, don’t—fuck. Tell me when, just tell me when.” He kisses you sweetly again, but it’s distracted.

You clench your walls around him, experimenting, and Dan jolts a little.

“Don’t tease me, babygirl,” he murmurs against your mouth.

You hum in response, and comb your fingers through his hair. “When,” you tell him.

“Huh?” Dan blinks at you, confused.

“You said ‘tell you when’, so, wh—”

“Oh!” Dan laughs breathlessly, and then steadies himself. Pulls out slowly, then back in, just as slow. This time, the burn is less. You cant your hips up to him. “This good?” he asks, looking down at you like he’s been blessed by angels just to be in this moment. He continues his slow pace.

“Yeah, I—fuck, Dan?”

“Yeah?” His eyes are half-lidded, but he focuses on you when you say his name.

“I’m not gonna fuckin’ break,” you tell him, and grabbing a fistful of hair at the back of his neck and pulling at it. Jeez, he really has a hair pulling kink. With a broken groan, his hips snap forward suddenly, and you breathe, “Fuck.”

His hips slam against yours again, the bed creaks with the sudden force, and you wrap your ankles around his thighs to keep him close to you. He continues with his brutal pace, the head of his cock dragging over your g-spot over and over again, and your breath huffs out of your lungs with each thrust.

“Shit,” Dan breathes, hot against your shoulder. “Shit, fuck, fuck.” His hips slow slightly, grinding tiredly against yours. “Wanna, fuck, wanna make you cum, again,” he mutters in your ear.

Oh.” It’s an odd feeling of your stomach warming both from, fuck, Dan being breathless is super hot and also, two, so few people ever worry about you finishing. “Yeah, yeah. Here.” You push at his shoulders, and he sits up, chest heaving. You maneuver him onto his back, Dan slipping out of you, but not for long as you straddle his hips and steady a hand on his chest. Dan is on the same wavelength as you, because he puts a hand on your hip, helping you as you sink back down onto his cock.

“Yeah,” he moans, hips snapping up to meet you. His other hand, at an awkward angle, presses his palm against your clit and you grind against it, clenching your eyes shut. Fuck. That felt great.

“That feel good?” Dan asks, voice still breathy.

“Ah!” Your hand that’s on his chest curls into a fist, and you bow forward a little. Dan takes care of the rest as you sit on his cock, grinding your hips down on him as you work your way closer and closer to a second climax. “Fuck, Dan, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t…”

“Yeah, baby, yeah, I got you,” Dan murmurs, and your thighs quake as you cum, again, desperately grinding against his hand, the friction agonizing. As you come down, Dan groans and his hips thrust erratically, and to help him along you gyrate over him with a tired grin, him moaning your name like a prayer as he finishes.

Dan’s eyes open to look up at you as he lets out a long breath, like he’s been holding it for hours, and smiles up at you.

You lean down and kiss him, still not quite tired of that, and Dan adjusts himself a little and slips out of you. The two of you trade sweet, lazy kisses for a few minutes, until Dan asks, “You got a trashcan?”

“Yeah, over there,” you say, rolling off him and pointing next to your righthand nightstand. You watch, balanced on your elbows, as Dan sits up, takes off the condom and ties it, and throws it in the waste basket. He turns to you, and with a grin, collapses onto you.

You giggle, and Dan presses kisses to your breasts. “That was…woo,” he sighs.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Although,” he giggles to himself a little, “I can’t believe you have a vibrator.”

You scowl, letting your head fall against the pillow.

“Can we use it next time?” Dan asks, climbing farther on top of you, until his entire body blankets you.

“Next time?” you ask, lifting your head to look down at him with a raised eyebrow.

Dan has his chin resting just below your collarbone, and he blushes when he realizes what he’s said. “I mean. If there is a next time?” he asks, sounding hopeful.

“Hmm, I think so,” you tell him, petting his hair again, loving the way he sighs and leans into your touch. “You still want cookies?”

“Um, hell yeah!” Dan practically shouts, but then giggles when you yawn in response.

“Can we nap first?” You weren’t always so tired after sex, but then again, not all sex was as mind-blowing as it was with Dan.

“Sex, cuddly naps, and cookies with a pretty lady?” Dan wraps you in an embrace, turning onto your side, cuddling against you, his hair tickling the sides of your face as he nuzzles the back of your neck. “How can I say no?”

You giggle, threading your fingers with his on the hand that was resting near your chest, and you cuddle up against him. This could be good, you decide as you close your eyes.

Chapter Text

Dan leaves your apartment late that night, after the two of you have gone another round and ate something more substantial than cookies (you order Chinese from the place down the block). He goes with a dopey smile and a promise to text you, saying that you’re welcome to use the grump’s recording space and equipment again and no, that is not an invitation to blow him on the grump’s couch but yes, he will accept blowjobs on the grump’s couch.

You haven’t felt this content in months, maybe even years, not since you moved to California to get away from your problems and leave your life on the Eastcoast behind. Feeling content, you pull up your Youtube to scroll through the comments. There are…far more than you expect there to be. A lot of suggestions. Lots of love. Some hate.

You now have a regular audience, you realize. People you need to please. You’re a content creator, plain and simple, and need a way to communicate with your audience. And on that note…

Luckily, the handle [Y/C/N] isn’t taken on Twitter.

>first tweet!

You press tweet. And then pull out your camera, set up your mic, and start recording.

“Hey-o!” you greet cheerily, pushing some hair back from your face. “I, well, fuck, I just realized I totally have sex hair and am making this video at…close to 11pm? At night? But whatever! I never make vlogs, this is just a short announcement that you can now follow me on Twitter, at [Y/C/N], I mostly…” You clear your throat. “I mostly realized that, with a larger audience, I need to be able to communicate with everyone better as a content creator, so…hit me up there with suggestions, thoughts, requests, we’ll see what I can get to.

“Totally unrelated, but—well, not totally, but I just want to thank everyone that has subscribed in the past few weeks. I—I met the Game Grumps?” You laugh, leaning back on your hands a little. “Which was super weird, not that they’re weird, I just—know them now! I guess! And I know a lot of you are also grump’s fans, and I just want to say…thanks for comin’ around and also thanks for stickin’ around? Yeah! Okay, this isn’t gonna be long, goodbye!”

You reach over and shut off the camera.

Had you said too much? Were you not supposed to mention Game Grumps? Let alone Dan, who…was Dan.

You blush thinking about him, then groan at yourself. What the fuck. You weren’t supposed to be having sex with him, let alone getting a crush on him.

…But the sex was pretty great.

You buckle down and edit the video.

 

>you should come by the grump’s space today for lunch

You stare down at the text you had just gotten from Dan. It was now Thursday, you were just leaving the building after a psychiatrist appointment. A medication refill. A mental check-up. The works.

You are, by all means, mentally exhausted, because talking about your problems really takes the heat out of you. You’re ready to get home and collapse into bed for a sizable nap and down time playing some video game to keep your mind off your problems. Your impending, seemingly never-ending, mental health problems.

>what time? you reply

You climb into your car, stick your keys in the ignition without turning it on, and scroll through Twitter while waiting for his response. Close to 50 thousand followers within the week. That’s…good right? You think about looking at other Youtubers to compare.

When your phone goes off a minute later, you do not, under any circumstance, feel nervous.

>i’m ordering thai right now…what do you want?

Thai?

>drunken noodles if they have any. how much do i owe you?

>its a favor ;)

Your stomach does a little ballet, you text Dan back that you’ll be over in half an hour, and you try not best not to break the speed limit getting to the grump’s space. When you get there, you take initiative to knock on the front door yourself this time.

Suzy opens the door, just as gorgeous as you remember.

“Hey!” she greets cheerily. “(Y/N)! You’re here!”

“Uh—yeah?” you stumble over your words nervously. Dan…you could handle. A pretty girl like Suzy? You were dead in the water, so to speak. Flat on your back, metaphorically. “Dan said…”

“That you were coming for lunch, yep! He’s just getting the food right now, come in!” She ushers you inside, and you step in and let her close the door behind you.

“So, is there some sort of…special occasion, here? Why I’m invited for lunch?” you ask as Suzy leads you into the grump’s space. It’s more populated now, with more people standing around and chatting, waiting for their food. You recognize Arin and Barry and…no one else. There’s a pretty girl with pink hair though, and a man that sticks close to her side. Another man with them, too.

“Well, you just posted that video where you mentioned us, right? That’s kind of reason to celebrate!” They knew about that? Watched it? Suzy leads you towards the group of people. “And actually, I think Barry just started editing your video for Grump Out, so that too! But I think Dan actually just wanted you around,” she says slyly with a wink.

You blush, both at the action and her words. “Nah, he definitely has some agenda,” tell her. “And, uh…Grump Out?”

“Are you telling me you’re not a die-hard grump fan?” Arin butts into the conversation. He looks serious, but you recognize a mirth behind his eyes and realize he’s joking. He has a terrible poker face.

“Game Grumps? You mean those two losers who suck at video games?” you tease back, and Arin laughs. It’s loud and genuine. Suzy also giggles beside you. “Yeah, I’m onto you, buddy,” you tell him. “I watched you play Ocarina of Time.”

“Aw, that game’s bullshit anyway,” he complains loudly.

And Mario Maker…”

“Listen! I did not open my home to you just to be ridiculed! Suzy! Banish her!” Arin points a dramatic finger at the door, and you laugh.

Suzy swats it away. “We are not banishing our new friend!” she scolds.

“We’re banishing who?” a voice speaks up, and everyone cries, “Danny!” as the man himself steps in. He’s carrying two armfuls of greasy, paper bags of food. You immediately grab a few to help lighten the load.

“Thanks, babe,” Dan says, and the two of you dump the paper bags on the kitchenette counter. “Okay, dig in!”

You watch in amusement, leaning against the counter, as everyone descends like hungry vultures, eager to get their meals, and Dan takes a respective step back and stands in front of you. “Hey,” he says, quietly, leaning down with a lazy smile.

“Hey yourself,” you return, already smiling and looking up at him. “How’s it hangin’?”

“Ah, just between recording session’s right now,” he tells you, tucking a stray strand of hair behind your ear. You blush. His hand lingers there. “Kinda just wanted to see you,” he admits, even more quietly.

“You could’ve just said so,” you tease, voice at the same volume. The two of you are just murmuring between each other.

Dan giggles. “I guess so. I didn’t wanna—jeez, I don’t know.”

You have a feeling he does know, though.

“Dan! If you don’t claim your Pad Thai now I’m gonna eat it!” Arin threatens, and Dan spins around with a wide eyed look.

“You wouldn’t dare! Mine!” he swipes them from the counter. “These are mine!”

You laugh and grab your own drunken noodles, and dig in.

 

The girl with the pink hair is Holly, and the Australian guy is Ross, and the other guy is Kevin. They are all good natured, although Ross is, “A masochist,” by Dan’s words and, “Totally sucks,” by Arin’s. Suzy stays close to your side and bombards you with question—yes you live alone, yes you do everything yourself on your youtube channel, maybe you would consider doing lets plays again in the future. You’re so absorbed in conversation with her and the till of her voice that Dan sometimes gets jealous, and whines that she is, “totally stealing away my new person, c’mon, don’t do that!”

Between admiring Suzy and Dan keeping a somewhat possessive hold on you, you are having serious bisexual whiplash.

In a rare moment Dan is caught up with Arin and Barry, and not trying to pry your attention away from Suzy, she leans in and whispers to you, “I think Dan really likes you.”

You are momentarily overwhelmed by her perfume, and say, “Dan who?”

Suzy laughs. “That’s funny.”

“Oh.” Your brain catches up with you, again, bisexual whiplash. “Yeah. I mean—sure, I guess? I…like him a lot too.”

Suzy softly, “ooo”s and then says, “You do?” excitedly.

“I mean—fuck, I guess? I don’t—” You make a sort of “eh” gesture with your hand. “He doesn’t—not really the dating type? You know?” Words are majorly failing you, for more reasons than a pretty girl giving you attention. This was a conversation you had been avoiding with even your closest friends, but now with Suzy it was kind of spilling out like a waste leak. Destruction in its path. “Like he…could get bored. Easily. And I—um, my last relationship…”

Suzy is staring at you intently.

“…didn’t end so well,” you finish lamely, like that’s even half the goddamned story.

“I think you’d be surprised, with Dan,” she says. “Loyal guy.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Tense silence.

“You should give him a try.”

“Suzy, that’s really sweet, but I don’t—”

“I haven’t seen him so attached to someone since, well, I don’t know, like—”

“Seems to have very large emotions?” You finally voice a real worry. “Not deep ones. Large. But kinda shallow. Like a kiddy pool.”

Suzy thinks on this for a moment. “Again, I think you’d be surprised. Dan’s not perfect, but…”

“Plus I’m just a lot of emotional baggage,” you cut in quickly. “Like an ungodly amount. Dan deserves—better,” the word chokes itself out of your throat. You can feel your heartbeat in your chest, quickening, thundering in your ears. Oh god, you pray to yourself, not here, anywhere but here.

“Hey,” Suzy’s quiet voice brings you back down to earth for a moment. “Forget I said anything. It clearly stresses you out.”

God. Fucking. Damnit. Even Suzy could tell.

“But we should get together sometime, you and me!” she quips, louder now. “Just the two of us!”

“I’d like that,” you manage to get out. It sounds normal in your ears, but your ears can also hear the blood racing through your body and every single quake of your muscles as you try desperately, desperately to hang on—better, Dan deserves someone better

“I have to go!” you say quickly, turning, wide-eyed to Suzy. She gives you a surprised look. “Sorry, just remembered that I’ve got stuff to do! Errands, shit like that! Get my number from Dan, text me later!”

You bolt out of there like a bat out of hell, and gun it back to your apartment.

The second you’re through the front door you throw your keys down on the coffee table, and pace the entirety of your apartment three whole times before grabbing your phone. Two missed texts from Dan. One from an unknown number.

You call up Rachel.

Hey, motherfucker,” she answers.

“I have a crush on Dan!” you blurt.

She laughs. “I know.

“Yeah, tell me how to fix it!”

I dunno, fuck him?

“I already did!”

Wait, really? When?!

“Earlier—earlier this week.”

You did not! You fuck! You didn’t even tell me!

“I got busy!”

That’s no excuse, you gotta tell me when you—

“Rachel, I’m not concerned,” you seethe slightly, “about fucking him. I’m concerned that I’m getting feelings.”

Rachel is silent on the other end for a moment. “You said he’s nice, right?

You nod. She can’t see that, though, but she continues.

And…he took you out to IHOP? And uh…texts you, on the regular? This ain’t gonna be Kate, part two.”

“Everything could be Kate part two,” you sigh, sitting on your couch, phone pressed tightly to your ear. “Anything could be Kate part two.” Kate. The last relationship. The one that “didn’t end so well.” Understatement of the fucking century.

It’s been more than a year since she fucked up your life. She’s gone now, (Y/N). You gotta trust some more people again. Put yourself out there, y’know? You deserve happiness. And you’ve been happier since this guy, Dan, showed up. Why not give it a chance?

“It could ruin everything,” you tell her.

Or it could make everything better. You never know if you don’t go.

“You never shine if you don’t glow,” you recite back.

Yeah. All Star, baby.

“All Star, baby,” you repeat, feeling a little calmer. “I’m not gonna do anything about it,” you tell her.

Okay.”

“Except maybe keep fucking him.”

Okay.”

“Because that’s really—”

You know! I really don’t want to hear about your heterosexual sex life while I’m at work, to be honest,” Rachel says, bursting that bubble pretty quickly. “Just tell me when you peg him.”

“Oh my god,” you laugh. “Get back to work.”

You get back to work.”

“Yeah, yeah. Bye motherfucker.”

Bye!

She hangs up before you do.

Leaning back and sinking into your couch, you seriously consider the possibility of it swallowing you whole. You need a distraction, you decide, before your thoughts truly run away with you, and you boot up your PlayStation3, ready to dive headfirst into a comfort game. GTA V?

Too violent, you quickly decide.

Assassins Creed, maybe. You had never finished Black Flag.

 

Six hours later, you were still virtually sailing the high seas and pillaging other ships when someone knocks on your door.

“Door’s unlocked!” you call, slouched into your couch with an entire bottle of wine at your feet, about a quarter emptier since you started it. You assume it’s one of your neighbors, they always come knocking around this time of evening, as the sun begins to set, asking for help, offering pay. They pity you, a little. You don’t mind as long as it keeps paying bills.

When you look up, however, the reason of your needed distraction stands in your doorway.

“Hey,” you say, trying to sound casual around the lump in your throat.

“Hey,” Dan says, equally not-as-casual.

“What’s up?”

“Uh…where’d you go?”

“…Here?” you offer fruitlessly. When Dan’s hard gaze on you doesn’t soften, you hit the pause button and sit up, popping a few joints along the way. “I dunno. Just left. Felt I had overstayed my welcome.”

“Uh-huh.” Dan sounds unconvinced, and takes a step into your apartment, letting the door slam shut behind him. “And ignoring my texts? What’s that about?”

“I’ve—huh?” You look at him, to your phone…which is not by your side as usual. “It’s, uh, hold on.” You dig around in between the couch cushions, and pull it out. Predictable. You check—three unread texts from an unknown number, ten unread texts from Dan, two unread texts from Rachel, and two missed called from Dan. Well.

“I wasn’t…ignoring them,” you say, but your voice in your own ears sounds lame. “I just…”

“Suzy said you panicked and ran out of there like something was hot on your tail.” Dan’s voice is clipped.

“I was having a panic attack!” The words spill out of your mouth quickly, before you can really stop them. More toxic waste spillage. More destruction in its wake. Dan’s gaze softens a little though, so you continue. “I was having a panic attack, and you guys…were just having so much fun, I didn’t…want to ruin it. Like panic attacks usually do.”

During your explanation, Dan has made the few steps into your living room and sat down on the other side of your couch. He looks sympathetic. You can’t decide if you hate the look on him or not. Sympathy is always too close to pity in your mind. “Why were you panicking?” he asks.

“Um…” You busy yourself by unlocking your phone, skimming through the missed messages. The unknown number is Suzy, with hey! hope you’re alright, got your number from Dan. P.S. this is Suzy and Dan’s really worried about you, please respond? and he’s coming to yours right now.

Dan’s messages rang from hey where’d you go? to are you okay??? to im worried, plz just respond and i’m coming over right now.

Rachel’s say, in all caps, YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON’T GO, YOU NEVER SHINE IF YOU DON’T GLOW.

“Suzy,” you tell him, looking up after a sizable amount of silence, drawing your knees up to your chest. “She, um…is really cute. I get nervous around cute girls.”

Dan’s face breaks into a shit eating grin. “Ooooh~” he teases, “someone’s got a crush.”

“Do not!” you laugh, blushing. “I mean—maybe a bit. She’s super cute. She’s just, you know…”

“…Married.”

“Yeah, that.”

Beat of silence. You have…halfway lied to Dan. But not fully lied. You can let this one slide. Not telling him you’re panicking over the fact you actually have a sizable crush on him is probably for the best. “I have panic attacks,” you tell him, to make up for it. “Pretty regularly. That’s normal, right?” It’s not normal. You’re not sure why you asked the question.

“I mean…” Dan looks like he’s searching for the right words to say. “Are you seeing anyone about it?”

“Yeah.” Not just for panic attacks. You do not add that, though. “Medicated, too.” Not just for panic attacks.

“Then it’s fine. You’re working on it, everyone’s got their crosses to bear,” he responds with a shrug. He smiles at you lazily. It’s warm and comforting and gives you a fuzzy feeling down to your toes. Things have returned to normal between the two of you.

“So, you’re…?” he starts, prompting you. You know what he’s talking about, and it’s not about the panic attacks.

“Bi,” you finish for him. “I’m bisexual.”

“Does that…”

“If you’re going to ask if I’ll have a threeway with you, I’m kicking you out,” you threaten, only halfway joking. Dan senses the serious behind it and holds up his hands in surrender.

“Just thought I’d ask,” he defends.

“Maybe after we use the vibrator,” you say, as if thinking aloud.

Dan’s face breaks into a grin. “So…we’re gonna keep doing this?” he asks, scooting a little closer to you on the couch.

“Doing what?” you ask, teasing, dropping your knees and leaning closer to him.

“Uh…fucking?” Dan giggles at the word. “The beast with two backs? The horizontal tango? The—”

“Oh my god,” you roll your eyes. “Do you ever shut up?”

Dan leans in to you, so that your noses are close to touching. “Ya’ gotta make me, babygirl.” His voice practically drops a full octave. It really does it for you.

“That can be arranged,” you reply, climbing onto his lap, fully determined to kiss him into silence. A good distraction, you decide.

Chapter Text

That next Tuesday at midnight you and Dan stay alone in the grump’s space for another mutual jam sesh’, About halfway through the two of you working out the harmonies for your next cover, you end up fulfilling some sort of prophecy and blow him on the grump couch.

“Uuugh,” Dan moans, hands idle in your hair as you bob up and down on his cock. “This, unf, can’t be good for your throat.”

You shrug, your spit-slicked hand grasping at the base and stroking what you aren’t taking in your mouth. A vacuum seal with your lips, you press your tongue on the underside of his dick. Dan moans with it. His hips lift off the couch a little, only to slam them back down, desperately attempting to control himself.

“God, you’re mouth…” he groans, and you look up at him momentarily. “Best goddamn thing—ah, ffffuck, so pretty, around my dick, fuck.” He looks absolutely wrecked, with frizzy hair and cheeks flushed.

He’s into dirty talk. Luckily you are too.

It’s only a moment later, when you massage his balls gently with your other hand and hum over his dick, that he shoves a fist in his mouth and says around it, “God, shit, I’m—fuck, I’m coming—” and your name is on his lips again as his hips jerk, and then he’s cuming.

Something a friend once told you echoes in your head. Spitting means like, swallowing means love.

You spit.

Dan laughs, breathless, jeans and boxers scrunched at his knees on the couch while you stand up and straighten your hair a little. “Guess I can check that one off the bucket list,” he says, sounding tired.

“Bucket list?”

“Yeah; getting blown on the grump’s couch.”

“Surprised it hasn’t happened before,” you wink, and Dan pulls up his underwear and pants and redoes his belt while you drink some water. You straddle his lap, and he places his hands on your hips and you lean down and kiss him. The two of you go on like that for a minute, until Dan pulls back.

“You’re so great,” he tells you, like he’s in a haze.

You roll your eyes. “You gonna help me with the rest of the harmonies or what?”

“I dunno, I think making out is a really good way to test your vocal range and—hey!” Dan’s grip on your hips tighten as you try to get up from his lap, keeping you there. “C’mon, just a few more minutes?” he pleads, giving you something akin to puppy dog eyes.

“I wanna get this cover done so I can put it up later,” you tell him, but wrap your arms loosely around his neck.

“Yeah, but…”

“Danny,” you say with a pout, putting on your best ‘please’ face. Acting has its perks.

“Argh, okay! Fine! Let’s get this done so I can ravish you,” Dan yields, and you scoff, giving him a quick peck on the lips before climbing off his lap.

“Ravish? Really? That’s the word you’re using?” you ask with a laugh. Dan laughs, too.

“I’m trying to up my vocabulary game,” he tells you. “Okay, let’s do this. Where were we?”

 

That Thursday, you and Suzy get lunch together.

“So…how are things with you and Dan?” she brings up, voice tentative, poking at her food like she hasn’t just brought up the most recent source of stress and good luck in your life.

“Uh…” You swallow your mouthful of food. “Fine, I guess? Good?”

Suzy raises a perfectly shaped eyebrow at you.

“Like…I dunno.” You take a deep breath. “If I tell you that we’re fucking will you keep it on the down-low? The DL? I don’t know if he’s told…you guys.”

Suzy laughs. You smile just at the sound. “Hun, we all already know you two are fucking. He didn’t need to tell us. We’ve known Dan for awhile.”

You shrug, smiling, a small weight off your shoulders.

“Have you told anyone?” she asks.

“Just some close friends. Two. Two close friends. People who like to stay updated on what I do in my spare time.” Which you are doing Dan in your spare time. You dip a french fry in some ketchup and take a large bite. “Hey, you want some of my fries? No way I can finish them all.”

Suzy helps herself to a few. “But what about like…emotionally? How are you guys?”

“I…” Again, you shrug. “We aren’t dating, there’s no emotional aspect to it.”

“I just wonder, because he never brings girls to the grump’s space. And…I mean, were you two gettin’ down and dirty before your first recording sesh?”

He never brings girls to the grump’s space echoes in your head a little. You suppress it. “Nah. It was…sometime after.”

Suzy nods, as if she already knew that. “Yeah. I just—I think he really likes…”

“He…lots of girls, then?” you interrupt before you know it.

Suzy shrugs a little. “He gets around, sure. He is Danny Sexbang, after all.”

This time, you nod, hoping to pass as casual.

“Are you jealous?”

Suzy’s outright question catches you a little off-guard, and you stutter, “Wh-what?”

“Jealous? Are you?”

You think for a moment. “No, of course not,” you outright and completely lie. “He…we’re just friends, good friends, who also happen to fuck on the reg. There’s no—nothing to be jealous of. It’s not exclusive, I…When he gets bored of me, he’ll move on.” Just like the rest of them is tacked on, silently, in your head. But the words don’t get anywhere near your mouth.

Suzy frowns. “You think he’s going to get bored of you?”

“I—it’s not a pox on him,” you clarify. “It’s a pox on me. A…not his fault, sort of deal.” Suzy still looks confused, and also a tad worried. “I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s great, but also if he sleeps around a lot, he’s gonna get bored of me and—” It’s not like he’s gonna steal your dead parent’s money and ruin your life, a voice in your head intrudes. But he’ll take what he wants and then leave.

Stop that, you mentally tell yourself.

“You’ve got a crush on him!” Suzy declares after you’ve stuttered over your words enough.

“So?” You don’t even deny it, and Suzy looks triumphant. “He’ll get bored, move on, and I’ll…keep on keepin’ on.”

“(Y/N), I just told you, he doesn’t bring girls to the grump’s space. He never does. I think…”

“Well, clearly we all have different opinions,” you cut her off, perhaps a tad too sharp, but you do not want to keep talking about this. This is bridging into dangerous territory. “That’s what makes the world go ‘round, right? Different opinions? Great. Do you want a ride back to the grump’s space, or should I drop you off somewhere…?”

Suzy looks a little flabbergasted, disappointed, put out, but she recovers quickly. “Do you want to come thrift shopping with me?” she asks.

You think to your psychiatrist appointment in an hour, how you’re gonna tell her, gee, Doc, I just can’t seem to get my ex out of my mind, despite the fact I’m fucking practically the person of my dreams. But then again, I thought I had been dating the person of my dreams over a year ago, but that went to shit, so this will too. “Sorry, can’t. I have to run errands.” Again, not a complete lie.

You bid goodbye to Suzy in the parking lot, and speed your way to your psychiatrist’s building. You sit in the parking lot for ages, just thinking to yourself.

Chapter Text

You wake up that next Monday with grey clouds in the sky and the crushing, bleak realization of what day it is. No ordinary Monday.

You check your phone, see a missed text from Dan from earlier that morning when you had been passed the fuck out.

>good morning starshine, the earth says hello!

…And an anticipated text from your cousin.

>Let’s hop on Skype around 6:30. 3:30 your time. I’ve cleared my schedule just for you, ‘cuz.

>thanks, ‘cuz

…Is what you reply with, switch your phone on silent, and ignore the text from Dan for now. You’ll get to it later, you decide. First you need to take care of the black hole in your chest.

You go straight to the pot of coffee that was set to make itself every morning (thanks Keurig), and you pour it into your favorite mug. Then you open one of your cabinets, pull out the whiskey, and pour a shot’s worth into your coffee.

You stare at the grey, morning clouds out your kitchen window with bleary eyes.

Good fuckin’ morning.

 

“Hey, Scuze’!” Dan pokes his head out of the recording room, getting Suzy’s attention. “Have you talked to (Y/N) at all today?”

Suzy gives him a knowing look and shakes her head. “Nu-uh. Not a peep.”

Dan grumbles a little under his breath.

“Why? You worried?”

“She’s just usually super fast at responding,” Dan explains. “And hasn’t said anything. Usually, even when she’s busy she—sends a text that she’s busy…” There’s fear in his stomach that intensifies as he says it aloud. The last time you didn’t respond to texts was because you had had a panic attack and scattered. He hates seeing you like that.

“I’ll send her a text and tell you if she responds,” Suzy says, in way of reassurance. “I’m sure she’s fine, though. Something probably just happened to her phone.”

“Yeah…yeah, I’m sure that’s it. Thanks, Suz’.” Dan blows her a kiss and goes back to the recording room.

 

Hey ‘cuz!” your cousin, Leo, greets on the other end of the Skype call.

“Hey ‘cuz!” you laugh. “How’s Florida?”

Humid as balls. How’s Cali?”

“Hot as dicks.”

Ah, can’t wait to catch up. You ready?” Through the shitty webcam, you see Leo hold up a filled-to-the-brim shot glass. You have an identical one poured for yourself.

“To them,” you toast, raising your shot, and knock it back. Leo echoes the same.

 

“Hey, Arin, can I see your phone?” Dan asks, crowding over to Arin on the couch as 5pm ticks closer.

Arin holds his phone out of reach, laughing. “Uh, why, dude?”

“I’m gonna take, like, a million dick pics,” Dan jokes. “No, I just wanna check Twitter.”

Arin’s eyebrows raise a little. “That’s a new one. You hate Twitter.” He does not hand his phone over. Dan makes a grabby motion towards it.

“C’mon, it’s not that bad,” he says. “Just—can I see?”

There’s a pause, then Arin says, “You wanna see if (Y/N)’s tweeted at all today, don’t you.” It’s not even a question.

Scowling, Dan shuffles back to the other side of the couch, curling his knees up to his chin. “Whatever. No. Maybe.”

“Isn’t that a little possessive?” Arin asks.

“I—…yeah.”

“What’s got you so worried? The texting thing?”

“You don’t get it!” Dan insists, voice a little frantic. “I just—wanna make sure she’s okay, y’know? I worry! Remember when she suddenly disappeared two weeks ago during lunch, I…don’t want that happening, again. That was nerve-wracking, man.”

Arin looks up from his phone, where he’s been scrolling through it, and tells him, “She hasn’t tweeted anything since yesterday.”

“Ah. Thanks, bro.”

“No problem, I guess. But, like I said, isn’t that a little possessive for someone you’re just fucking?”

“I mean it isn’t—it isn’t just fucking, ah, I dunno,” Dan runs a hand through his hair. “We’re good friends, too. Like, you worry about your friends. If I suddenly didn’t show up to grump’s one day without saying anything…”

“Do you wanna date her?” Arin suddenly asks.

“Huh?”

Arin fully turns to him on the couch. “Do you wanna date (Y/N)?”

“I, um…I mean…I wouldn’t be opposed?”

“I thought you hated commitment.”

“I do! It, I don’t like it, you’re right. But (Y/N)…I dunno. She’s great. I…I just don’t know, Arin,” Dan whines, letting his head fall back on the couch. “It’s confusing. I’m worried. She’s…probably fine, I’m just weird. This sucks.”

“I think she likes you too, dude,” Arin says, nonchalant. “I mean, she is fucking you, so that’s already pretty big plus one.”

“Yeah, I—hey! What are you trying to say, man?” Dan laughs. He grabs his phone from where it’s fallen between the couch cushions and checks it. No messages from you. Dan sends off one more for good measure, just a quick respond if youre ok plz, and then turns to Arin and says, “Okay, let’s start the next one.”

“You good?” Arin asks, reaching for the timer.

“Yeah, I’m good.”

 

You snicker at Leo over Skype as he spills peppermint schnapps all over himself.

Gross! Ugh, I’m gonna be sticky for weeks now! What the fuck!” he complains, shedding his shirt. “Why did I even get this stuff?

“Uhmmm, my recommendation,” you say, words slurring a little as you prop your chin on your palm. “Mom lo-oved the stuff.”

Yeah? I didn’t know she was a big drinker.” Leo takes a swig directly from the bottle. “Mmm, yeah, okay, agreed. Good stuff.”

“Told youuuuu,” you sing a little. “She wasn’t though…although I remember…” You laugh a little, a tiny hiccup, your chest tight. “One year, we went to dinner for her birthday, and she asked the waiter for, um, for their dessert drink menu? And the guy was like…whathefuck is that?” You laugh louder this time. “But she loved red wine with meals. Always drank it with Aunt Shawn, remember?”

Ah, they were all big drinkers,” Leo laughs.

“On dad’s side, maybe. On mom’s side…we stuck with that sweet sweet Bailey’s Irish Cream. And schnapps. And whiskey. That was…woo, yeah.” Mirroring Leo, you take a drink of peppermint schnapps directly from the bottle. “Good stuff, my man.”

So how’s Cali treating you? You don’t look tanner.”

“Not tanner. I…thanks to your dad, you know, I only got to pay utilities here.” You watch, fascinated, as you drum your fingers on the laptop. “I do…stuff…and things…for old people in the building. They like me. Old people love me.”

Old people love you?” Leo laughs.

You crack a smile. “Yeah. And I—Youtube, and stuff. You should check it out. I met the Game Grumps. I’m fuckin’ one of them. Not like—um…I’m not like one of the Game Grumps, I’m fucking one of them.”

Ooooh, climbing the corporate ranks?”

“Nah, nah, Dan and I, we…met randomly, at a bar. I was getting to-otally plastered, or planned to, and I…uh…” Your memory, when drunk, is apparently a little fuzzy. You can’t quite parse different moment with Dan. He always seems to be there. “Anyway, I’m totally head over heels for him and I hate it. Who knows if he’s into me that way. I’m too fucked up for a relationship anyway.”

Cause of Kate?”

“Yeah.”

Okay, you promise not to hang up Skype on me?”

“Promise.”

Let’s talk about Kate.”

“Let’s not,” you scowl.

We’re gonna talk about Kate, and why you aren’t too fucked up for a relationship with this Dan guy.”

“I’m gonna need a lot more booze,” you sigh. “Hold on, I’m grabbin’ the good stuff.”

 

“Dan, go home.”

“No, I’m fine!”

“Dan.”

“I’m seriously fine.”

“Dan.”

“I’m not going home, Arin!”

“Well I’m kicking you out, dude. You’re seriously bringing down the vibe.”

Dan pouts. Arin looks over from the computer screen to where Dan has been moping at his own laptop, wrapped in a blanket. “No response?”

“Nah.”

“You could go check on her.”

“Didn’t you say that’d be weird and possessive.” Dan’s tone is a little acidic as he throws his friend’s own words back at him.

Arin shrugs. “Yeah. But maybe it’d give you two incentive to, like,” he grins a little, “talk about it.”

Dan groans and puts his head in his hands. “I hate this,” he mutters. “This is the absolute-fucking worst.” He checks the clock. It’s reaching 10pm. “I’ll give it another hour then go over there.”

“Cool. Don’t forget to confess your undying love, or whatever.”

 

“‘Cuz,” Leo slurs on the other end. “I gotta go to bed. It’s…goddamned two in the morning.”

“No, just…I miss you and the family…I miss the old family…” you mutter. Next to you on the floor, your expensive Akevitt, a classic Norwegian booze, is a quarter of the way empty. It had been something your mom kept for special occasions.

I miss the old family too,” Leo sighs. “It’s…not the same, without them.

You nod, your throat tight.

God knows how much you probably miss them. I just…I’m always just so sorry, (Y/N).”

“Remember when we were,” you hiccup mid-sentence, “when we were like, twelve, and they fought over grandma’s inheritance.”

Leo laughs. It’s hollow. “So petty. Our parents were always so fucking petty.

“Your parents are still fuckin’ petty, dude,” you accuse, but it’s good natured.

Yeah. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Leo sighs. “Your dad was the least petty during that whole thing, though. With the money.

“He just wanted it all to go back to normal.” You pause, head swimming. You are seriously drunk, you don’t even want to try getting up from where you’ve sprawled yourself over the couch, laptop on your chest. You let your eyes close. “I just want it to all go back to normal.”

Never can, ‘cuz. But this was good,” Leo says, pushing back a little from the camera. He’s still shirtless, a part of your drunk mind realizes. “I think…we made real progress.”

You bark out a laugh. “We got mind-numbing drunk in my parent’s memory.”

Progress!

“Progress!”

Suddenly, someone bangs on your door, a full-fisted knock several times. You jump a little, call, “Come in!” and sit up, pushing your laptop into its proper place on your lap. Your head spins when you sit up, and you have to rub your eyes for a moment before, clear as day, Dan stands in your doorway.

“Dan!” you chirp, a smile easing its way onto your face. You didn’t know it, but just who you wanted to see. You wanted cuddles.

“You’re—here,” Dan says, words sounding a little too cookie-cutter.

“Yeaaaaaah,” you drag out the word. “I’ve been, um…” You don’t quite know how explain the situation, or how to introduce him to Leo. So few people in your life know your family. “I’ve been,” you hiccup, “Skyping, all day, with—”

Dan slams the door behind him, in a fury that makes your heart leap into your throat, panic at the forefront of your mind in an instant. He takes the few strides into your living room, and scoops the laptop from your lap. “Who’s this guy?” he demands.

The tone of his voice makes you defensive. “None of your fuckin’ business!” you snap, temper rising. You stand up, fully intending to grab your laptop back from him, but you aren’t prepared for movement in the slightest, and Dan has to grab you by the arm to make sure you don’t fall over.

I’m Leo,” you hear Leo’s voice from your computer say.

“And I’m putting (Y/N) to bed,” Dan responds cooly, closing your laptop.

“Hey!” you protest, but stumble a little as Dan yanks you by the arm towards your bedroom. “Let go of me, asshat!” You shake your arm free from him, wobble on your feet a little, and slam a hand against the wall to steady yourself. “What the fuck, Dan?!”

“You didn’t respond all day!” Dan close to shouts, and you take an immediate step back, on the defensive. “I was so fuckin’ worried, (Y/N)! And I get here and you’re—Skyping with some shirtless guy, a million years past drunk, and—”

“Go suck a dick, man,” you scowl. “I’m—sorry, my phone was on silent all day, it’s always on silent on today—”

“No, it’s not!”

You storm past Dan into your bedroom, unable to walk in a straight line. He doesn’t even fucking know, how dare he pretend to. You fully intend to leave him standing here, but he follows you in. “Go away, asshole,” you say over your shoulder, but at the sight of your bed and the gnawing feeling of tears behind your eyes, all heat of an argument is evaporating quickly from your body. You shed your shirt, jeans, and climb onto your mattress.

Dan stands at the foot of your bed.

“Well, are you gonna stand there, or say something else about how I ignored you—which I didn’t, heads up! Go find my damn phone and check it, if you want!” You pull the covers over your waist. “Since you’re being so fuckin’ possessive, which is weird, by the way! We aren’t even dating, we’re just fucking.” The words even sting in your own ears, a growing pit in your stomach and you practically throw yourself down and pull the covers up to your shoulders. “Now if you excuse me, I have a hangover to wake up to in a few hours.”

Dan storms out of your room, footfalls heavy, and you’re so exhausted from literally everything that you fall asleep almost instantly, somewhere in the back of your mind hoping, just a tiny bit, that you simply won’t wake up.

Chapter Text

You wake up and it sucks.

You’ve got one of the worst hangovers of your fuckin’ life, this time you know it is, head pounding as someone steadily hits a hammer inside your skull. You feel nauseous. Your mouth is like a desert. Your eyes are crusted.

You, almost quite literally, crawl your way out of bed, and into your kitchen. You knock back a few Tylonel, pour yourself a bowl of dry Lucky Charms, and drink two more glasses of water, pouring yourself a third to take to your living room. No more drinking for awhile, you decide. You got your fix last night.

Dan Avidan is sprawled out on your couch, fast asleep.

You do not wake him, just sit on your floor and munch on your Lucky Charms as you try to piece together last night. You drank with Leo from 3:30pm onwards in memory of your parents. The two of you caught up. The two of you talked about Kate. The two of you recounted shitty family memories that made you laugh.

Dan showed up, at some point. You don’t really remember that.

You remember yelling, though. You remember shouting and…an accusation of ignoring texts?

You check the last place you put your phone. It’s on the floor next to the couch, and you see…with a heart sinking realization, thirty missed texts from Dan. God. Damned. Thirty.

And a fair few from Rachel, Luke, and Suzy, as well.

You read through all the one’s before Dan’s first. Luke says he’s thinking about you and wants to Skype soon. Rachel says to be good and not die. Suzy says Dan is worried that you aren’t responding, and can you please respond just so he knows you’re okay?

Dan’s are the worst though.

They range from his good morning text, calling you starshine, and slowly delve deeper and deeper into panic and worry and just please, please respond so i know you’re okay, even if you don’t want to talk for some reason just please let me know to a final one, close to 11pm.

>i’m coming over.

You…were an absolute piece of shit.

It was time to do some damage control.

You stumble into your kitchen and stand on your tiptoes to reach one of the top cabinets. And promptly groan when you realize you’re out of Bisquick. Seriously, did you make pancakes that regularly?

Apparently you did, ever since Dan started calling them your thing.

You open the fridge and grab a few eggs, ready to make omelettes instead. You have to walk yourself through the process since you don’t make them too often. Heat the pan. Throw butter on it. Crack the eggs—one handed, your dad used to brag when he did it. Whisk the eggs. Put in the herbs and spices.

While you’re frying the first omelette, you hear Dan shuffling around as he wakes up. The hardwood creaks under his heavy footed walk, and he comes into the kitchen.

“No pancakes?” he asks, resting his chin on the top of your head.

“Nah,” you respond quietly. “Out of Bisquick.”

“Shame.”

His arms start to snake their way around your waist, but then he pulls back abruptly. Like he’s been burned.

You flip the omelette in the pan. It’s like riding a bike.

“I,” you start, not having the guts to turn to him, “am so sorry. I’m really…” Your throat closes up, and you take a sip of water to barrel through it. “Yesterday was…a day.”

“A day,” Dan repeats, a little monotone.

“Anniversary of my parent’s death,” you clarify, maybe a little too quietly. You’re not sure if he can hear it over the sizzling of the eggs. “Two years, now. Leo and I, we drink together every once and awhile to…remember them. Used to be every month…now it’s just on the anniversary.”

“Seems like a weird way to pay respects,” Dan says.

“Yeah,” you laugh a little. There’s nothing funny about it. It’s hollow. “But it hit everyone pretty hard—me, especially. Obviously. I’m an only child. It’s just…how I can do it, for now. Without taking too much damage.”

The omelette is finished, and you slide it off the pan onto the plate, turning to Dan, finally, and passing it to him. He looks down at the plate and not at you.

“But I really fucked up, Dan, I’m so, so sorry. I should’ve said something, I should’ve—you didn’t know, you had no way of knowing, I should’ve told you, I don’t know why I didn’t, and you could’ve…not worried, god, I fucked up so bad, I…” Tears well up in your eyes, and you are so angry at yourself. You wipe them away quickly, wrapping your arms around yourself protectively, chin to your chest, shaking a little. This isn’t even panic, this is just pure shame and sadness.

“Don’t—don’t cry…” Dan pleads a little, finally looking up at you and giving you a weak smile. You look up at him, too, at the sound of his broken voice. “I’m…sorry, too, I—”

“You have nothing to be sorry for!” you interrupt. “This is me, my fault, this is my fuck up, and—”

“I was too possessive!” Dan cuts back in. “I was too…treating this like it was a relationship, and it’s not.”

The words ring so loud in your ears, and you get the weirdest, weirdest sense of déjà vu. But you can’t place it for the life of you. Not a relationship, not a relationship.

“And I didn’t even consider what could’ve been happening with you, to make you go off the grid,” Dan continues, still looking at you, but you have to cast your eyes downward to even begin to process his words correctly. “It was dumb, and…stupid of me, it was reckless, and…I’m sorry. This was…both our faults. We both have things to be sorry for.”

“Yeah,” you mutter, heart hammering, not really registering what you are agreeing to. “I guess.”

“I should go. Or I—gotta go,” Dan says. “…But can I take the omelette with me?”

You laugh, a little. At the absurdity of it. “Go for it. You want a fork?”

“That’d be great.”

That how you seen Dan off, with an omelette in a tupperware container and one of your forks and a tight hug that feels more wrong than right. The rest of your movements feel robotic, more routine than anything else. You remember to lock the door behind you. You walk into the kitchen and turn off the stove. You walk into your bathroom, shed your clothes, and turn on the shower.

You stand under the spray of scalding water until your skin is red and you’ve given up on washing the memories from your mind.

 

A week later, things are back to normal.

Except they aren’t. Not really.

You spend a few days moping and wallowing, with no communication with Dan and only a few responses to Suzy that you really, really didn’t wanna talk about it right now. You Skyped with Luke, at his insistence, because he knew how you isolated yourself when you were sad. You pull a few extra shifts at the bar, just so it’ll give you something to do. You fiddle around on the piano to give yourself thinking room. You install new cabinets for a neighbor on the floor below you, patch up some holes in the dry-wall in a few others. You do what you know how to do, which is work on your next cover and communicate with your growing fanbase and sleep and play video games and desperately try to ignore your problems.

>i feel like everyone and their mom has done a cover of Take Me To Church, but i’ll give it a shot anyway

You tweet it that next Wednesday morning when you get up, and sit down at the piano just to give you something to do. You have the chords memorized, the vocals memorized, the harmonies mapped out for your next cover. You just have to record it. And you don’t wanna do it on your shitty equipment.

You’re tinkering with an original tune that sounds a little too much like the chords for One Direction’s Best Song Ever, which, what the fuck, why do you even know the chords to that song, when your phone rings.

Incoming is one call from Danny Sexbang. Your heart immediately jumps out of your chest.

“Hello?” you answer, hoping you don’t sound as nervous as you feel.

Hey!” Dan sounds relieved that you answered. “Hey…what’s up?

“Uh…not much,” you say, feeling a little faint. “What’s up with you?”

Ah, just busy as per usual. And you’re right—everyone and their mom has done a cover of Take Me To Church.”

You laugh unexpectedly, covering your mouth with your hand. “Are you stalking my Twitter?”

No! Maybe. Arin’s been—and Suzy—okay, whatever. Whatever! I was just, um…wondering how you were gonna record it?

Oh. You chew your bottom lip. “Well, I…was gonna use my shitty microphone, you know, the stuff I own. Figured that was the way to go.”

Ah, well…if you wanna use the grump space…it’s still available to you.”

You’re floored. “Really?”

And I can be there too…if you want. If you’re into…another mutual learning jam sesh?

Your heart wrenches in your chest. You had missed the sound of Dan’s voice so much.

“That would be…fuckin’ amazing, Dan.”

Really?!” He sounds so excited.

“Yeah. Yeah!” You laugh. “When is good for you?”

Tomorrow. Tomorrow night? Tomorrow night. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like a plan, Stan.” You pause. “Dan. Sounds like a plan, Dan. Shit.”

Dan laughs on the other end. “I gotta go, but I’ll see you here, tomorrow, at midnight, yeah?

“Yeah.”

Great. See you then, (Y/N).”

“Bye, Dan.”

You fist pump the air the second you hang up, then settle back down at the piano, a little ashamed of yourself. A simple two minute conversation with the guy and you felt happier than you had all week.

You think back to your drunken conversation with Leo, his constant insisting:

Listen here, ‘cuz. Kate sucked. Like, major balls. She totally wrecked your life for no reason other than she wanted your parent’s money. But we got it back, right? You’re on the whole other side of the country now. She doesn’t fuckin’ control you anymore! I get, like, needing time to emotionally heal and everything, but it’s been more than a year! And, before you say anything, you have your mental health under your thumb! A year ago you couldn’t be trusted on your own and look at you now! Living on your own! Making it big on the internet! Banging a rockstar! So go out there and nail down this Dan guy, and when you’re ready, bring him around to the next family get-together. I’m serious. You deserve it. You’re worth it.

You couldn’t avoid this anymore. Time to face the facts and try to nail this Dan guy down.

 

The next night you arrive at the grump’s space, maybe a little more dolled up than usual, and knock on the door. You’re wearing confidence like a cape, more sure of yourself now more than ever. More sure than you have felt in the past few years.

Dan answers with a grin, and immediately engulfs you in a tight hug.

“(Y/N)!” he laughs, and you laugh too, the two of you rocking back and forth a little with the force of the hug. “I’m so glad you’re here!”

“Missed me, much?” you tease, and Dan pulls back with a huge grin plastered on his face.

“Yeah, I did, actually,” he smiles down at you.

“I missed you too,” you tell him genuinely.

“Yeah, I—we’re good, right? Like…we’re cool?” Dan rocks on his feet a little.

“We’re cool,” you reply, feeling a little giddy. Like you always do with him.

“And you’re…good?” His look shifts to be a little worried, weight going from foot to foot.

“Yeah,” you reassure him, standing on your tiptoes to peck him on the cheek. He looks pleasantly surprised at the gesture. “I’m good. Don’t worry.”

“Great! Argh, Suzy and Arin just left, they’re gonna be so bummed they missed you!” He wraps an arm around your shoulder and hauls you inside. “You’ll have to come get lunch or dinner or something with us sometime soon. With the rest of the gang too. You still have to meet Vernon. And Brian!”

“Definitely,” you agree. “That sounds great.”

Dan beams at you as he closes the door to the recording room behind him.

 

At 3am, the two of you sit thigh to thigh on the couch, listening to the audio of your latest recording to check the harmony blending.

“So smooth,” Dan appreciates aloud. “Like butter.”

You giggle, leaning into him slightly. You’re still trying to find the right moment to “nail him” down. Your plan is relatively clean cut: you bring it up at a good time, express your feelings, maybe mack on the couch a little if it goes well. No biggie.

Your heart races every time you think about it though.

“Two or three levels of harmony?” you ask, switching off one of the audio layers and playing the song again from the mid-point.

If I’m a pagan of the good times, my lover’s the sunlight. To keep the Goddess on my side, she demands a sacrifice…

“This song is gonna be stuck in my head for a week,” Dan bemoans a little, but listens intently. You turn to look at him, admiring his profile for a moment while he’s distracted. Sharp features. Soft eyes. His stubble is coming in, and…

Hickies. All over his neck. Like, all over.

You wonder why you hadn’t noticed them before.

Your stomach plummets, but you remind yourself what you had told Dan earlier. We’re cool, you repeat to yourself. But you had missed your chance. Your thoughts are running away with you quickly. He had gotten tired of you and your constant shit, and had moved on. Just like you said he would, your brain tells you wryly.

“Nice hickies, dude,” you tease, elbowing him in the ribs. We’re cool.

Dan’s hands fly to his throat, suddenly bug-eyed, like he’s forgotten they were there. He laughs, a little nervously. “Heh, thanks?”

“What vacuum did you use, they’re super convincing.” We’re cool.

Dan giggles, pushing you lightly by your shoulders. “Shut up!” he laughs. “They’re real, bonafide, hickies!”

“Uh-huh.”

We’re cool.

“They are! I’m Danny Sexbang, I get around!”

The two of you giggle, and you remember Suzy saying the same thing, weeks ago. He’s Danny Sexbang, he gets around.

We’re cool, you tell yourself. Real cool friends.

Then why do you feel so heartbroken?

Chapter Text

You wake up early Friday morning to finish the video edit of your Take Me To Church cover, and put it out later that day. Usual rules, do not check Youtube for the next twelve hours. You and Dan text intermediately throughout the day, like real cool friends do, and you spend an unreasonable amount of time convincing yourself in the mirror that the two of you can just be friends.

Totally cool. Just friends.

That night at the bar is a good distraction, by the time it reaches 1am, your relief coworker barrels through the back door with her black apron on, ready to go.

“Hey, (Y/N)!” she greets. Annie is a nice girl. She’s younger than you by a few years, and super enthusiastic and spunky because of it.

“What’s up, Annie,” you reply, toweling off your hands.

“Hey, can I ask you a favor?” She leans in to talk to you over the noise of the bar. “Can you take my Monday night shift? I’ve got a great flight to go to Oregon for a few days, and I have someone to cover my Wednesday shift, and I know you usually only work weekends, but…please? My Monday shift? You’ll get a paycheck for that day, and I’ll give you some extra—”

“Whoa! Calm down, Annie,” you stop her, placing your hands on her shoulders to to cease her babbling. “Yes, I’ll take your Monday shift, don’t worry. And don’t worry about paying me extra, I’ll do it free of charge. Just make sure the boss writes that paycheck out to me.”

Annie hugs you around the middle with a squeal, and then quickly goes to attend to customers.

Saturday you run the open mic with the same tone and act as usual. People sign up when they get there. People sing. Some are good, some are average, some are terrible. Everyone cheers regardless. It keeps your mind off your heartbreak.

Because that was it was at the end of the day: heartbreak. You had your chance with Dan, and you had blown it so completely that he had moved on only a week later. But there was no way in hell you were going to blow your friendship with him. That was too valuable. You would play the part of just real cool friends until it became a reality.

Acting. You were good at that, supposedly.

Your Sunday shift slugs by with little to entertain you, and you find yourself having to stop mid-thought to keep yourself from daydreaming about Dan. You were pretty sure being just real cool friends did not include daydreaming about cuddling him, or about him fucking you against a wall, which was a part of your bucket list you never got to fulfill with him. Meant to trade it as a favor.

Your Monday shift is where things get difficult.

Picture it: 10pm. You’re chatting with a customer you’re trying to charm into a large tip, when you see a man with bushy hair that you would recognize anywhere walk into the bar. Your stomach does a little flip, hoping he’ll approach the bar. See you there. Keep you entertained.

You hadn’t even considered why he might be here until he walks to a far-off table, taps a pretty girl on the shoulder, and leans down and kisses her.

Your heart stops full force.

You’re stuck behind the bar, unable to do anything but keep talking, keep mixing drinks, keep charming customers. You desperately try to push Dan in the back of your mind, only semi-successful. Until he and the girl walk up to the bar, hand-in-hand.

“Hey, bart—(Y/N)?” Dan looks at you, mouth hanging open slightly.

Act. It’s an act. You lean across the bar a little with a smirk. “Hey, hotshot.” Your heart feels like its being wrung out, slowly. Your face doesn’t betray it.

“What was that drink you were going to show me?” the girl asks, looking at Dan, and then you. “The sex one?”

You know it, instantly. “Two After Sex’s coming right up.” When you turn your back, Dan still looks flabbergasted.

You spend a little more time than necessary mixing both the drinks, and despite all wants to sabotage them, you mix them as close to perfection as possible. You make Dan’s a virgin, because you know he doesn’t drink. You place both glasses in front of the two. Dan is still staring at you, like he’s been caught red-handed.

“Be sure he shows you the thing with the cherry stem,” you tell the girl with a wink. “To prove what a good kisser he is.”

Hook and goddamned sinker. The girl now looks as flabbergasted as Dan.

With a sick sense of satisfaction that you have successfully bombed their evening together, you turn on your heel and walk away with a little more of a saunter than necessary.

 

When you leave the bar that night, you have a text from Dan.

>didn’t know you worked Monday nights

Laughing to yourself a little, you respond.

>i don’t. i was picking up a shift for a friend. how’d your night go w/ the lady?

On your drive home, your phone goes off, but you don’t check it till you get inside.

>it didnt. she wasnt really into the whole cherry stem thing.

 

You wake up the next morning, 9am, knowing exactly which song you were going to cover next. It’s like a revelation, like angels had visited you in the night.

The process is a little grueling, but you can’t help but it get it done all at once. The piano background. Sounding out the actual song. Searching out for harmonies that made the cover uniquely yours.

It’s a text from Dan that snaps you out of your musical grind close to 1pm.

>we’re going out to lunch, wanna come? i’ll pick you up

You reply without even considering an alternative.

>sounds great!

You check the time. It would probably take Dan close to half an hour to get to your apartment. That was plenty of time to record something to send his way, later, for an opinion. This was good. This was gonna be so good.

 

Dan knocks on your apartment door close to 1:30pm.

“(Y/N)!” he calls. “(Y/N)!”

You swing the door open with an exasperated grin. “You are so fucking impatient, god.” Dan snickers, cheekily. He gives you a once over. Still in sweatpants and a tank top. “I…time got away from me, I need to shower. Come in, come in,” you usher him inside, “it won’t take more than fifteen minutes, tops.”

Dan has time to spare, and he makes a beeline for your couch.

“Wait!” You stop him, with the look on your face that you’ve just had an excellent idea. “Wait, hold on, I want you to listen to something!”

Dan loves seeing you excited. He isn’t even mad about you ruining his evening last night—or maybe saving it. He felt awfully guilty when you had seen his hickies the previous week, especially since he had commissioned Suzy to cover them up with make-up when you two had planned to meet up. Which was…worrying, and weird, since the two of you hadn’t said or done anything remotely sexual since, for all intents and purposes, breaking it off in that sense.

He still felt fuzzy inside when he remembers you kissing his cheek, though.

“This, this cover is gonna be great, I just know it,” you gush, shoving your open laptop into his hands. “Listen to this while I shower, okay? I just finished recording it right as you got here. Tell me what you think.”

“Okay,” Dan finally gets a word in, a little amused. You’re in a bit of a tizzy.

“Great! Okay, be right back!” You rush out of the room.

Dan sits on the floor, looks at the laptop screen, and…notices its still recording, actually. You had accidentally left it running, adding unnecessary minutes to the video footage. He presses the end button. Now, the actual video footage is in front of him. He presses play, eager to see what has you so excited.

On the shitty laptop webcam, you have it tilted to see you playing piano. You play the opening notes, then start singing.

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?” Video-you sings softly, and Dan’s stomach wrenches a little. “Close your eyes and trusted, just trusted.” He was always so blown away by how your voice sounded, but this was amazing.

Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air? Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, I just don’t care? It’s only half past the point of no return. The tip of the iceberg, the sun before the burn. The thunder before the lightning, the breath before the phrase. Have you ever felt this wa-a-a-ay?

Dan has always been impressed by people who can both play instruments and sing, especially if that instrument is the piano. And here, on video, you’re actually doing it. A rare treat; he had never actually seen you do so. He feels his heart get tighter as the song continues, and tries to swat down the feeling. Jesus. The two of you are supposed to be just friends.

There you are, sitting in the garden, clutchin’ my coffee…callin’ me sugar. You called me sugar, oh, whoa, oh.”

Have you ever wished for an endless night? Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight? Have you ever—” a quick intake of breath, “—held your breath, and asked yourself, will it ever get better than tonight? Toniiiiight.”

Even from his place on the floor, Dan feels like cheering. On video, you laugh, sounding relieved, and turn to the laptop, pressing the button to the end recording.

…Or so you thought.

I should turn this off, Dan thinks, extremely coherent. I should definitely turn this off.

He doesn’t, though. He watches, on camera, as your phone rings. Video-you picks it up, smiles a little, then answers, “Hey, motherfucker.”

On the other end, someone says something.

No, I’m going to lunch in a few with Dan and friends.

Pause. Other person talking. Dan’s heart stops when he hears his name.

What? Yeah, we’re still friends. We made up, we’re—remember? We’re cool,” Video-you says it like its a quote. Maybe closer to a mantra. “We’re just friends. What? Yes I’m still—shut up, Rachel!—yes I’m still head-over-heels for him, how can I not be?

Dan holds his breath without meaning to.

Video-you laughs at whatever Rachel has said over the phone. “Yeah, he’s so sweet and…the first person I’ve really trusted, since Kate. But I—I fucked it up, remember? Two weeks ago? When Leo and I were on Skype and I accidentally—yeah, yeah, I told you all this! Stop forgetting shit!” Video-you sighs.

Him. You’re talking about him. Him, Dan Avidan.

He’s so over me though. Yeah, I can tell! This is fact, Rachel, pure and true fact. He had hickies last time I recorded with him! Yeah, like—…all over his neck. And, oh, you’ll love this though,” video-you laughs, “I picked up an extra shift at the bar last night, and he came in with a girl. I ruined their night, though. Petty, isn’t it?

He knew it.

Argh, I couldn’t help myself though. How could I not! He’s great, I’m a jealous asshole. I…yeah…I’m just gonna wait it out, I think. Wait for my dumb feelings to petter out, or something. It seems like the appropriate plan of action. I missed my chance, no need to drag him through the mud because of it. I already fucked up enough with him.

“Ahem.”

Dan shoves the laptop off his lap at the sound of real-you, in a bathrobe with a towel wrapped around your hair, standing in the doorway, looking at him with narrowed eyes. In terse silence, video-you continues talking.

Yes, I fucked it up. Yeah. I regret it. But what’s done is done…is done is done…yeah. That’s the—” video-you laughs, “that’s the way the river runs.”

“Get out,” real-you says quietly.

Dan scrambles to his feet. “(Y/N), I…”

“I said, get out,” you repeat, louder this time.

“Can I just…” Dan takes a step closer.

GET OUT!” you shout at the top of your lungs, and completely startled, Dan jets past you and to the front door. He stutters, trying to get out words, trying to make you just listen. You storm after him, Dan stumbles backwards out the door, and you thunder, “GET OUT, LEIGH,” before slamming it so hard in his face, the door knocker bounces slightly.

Dan stands there, heart thundering in his chest, listening to the locks click on the door.

 

You curl your hands into fists and listen, jaw clenched, as Dan knocks on the door.

“(Y/N)? (Y/N)…please answer, can we…can we talk…”

He sounds so desperate, and your heart positively aches. You don’t budge, though. You check the locks, which are still definitely locked from a moment ago, and wait for Dan to leave.

He doesn’t. For awhile.

JUST GO, you want to shout at him, close to tears. But you don’t say anything. You can’t. You can’t fuck this up any more than you already have.

So you just sit against your door, head leaned back against it, and wait for the sound of his pacing footsteps to stop. They fade away after twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes outside your door.

You’re unsure what to do next. Was there anything to do? You think about talking to Rachel or Luke about it, but stop yourself. You had spent the past month and a half talking to them about Dan. That was…a lot. You had spent a month and a half wrapped up in this whole thing, and now, with a simple mistake, you had sent it crashing to the ground.

This wasn’t something you could easily pick up the pieces with, like you had two weeks ago. Dan’s endless forgiveness didn’t extend as far as ignoring the fact you had practically professed your love to him. Except you were just too stupid to be able to see that the video was still recording.

You had handed it to him, almost quite literally, on a silver platter.

In a burst of anger, you slam your fist on the ground with a thud that echoes. You allow one sob to choke its way out of you, and then you stand up.

No crying, you tell yourself, walking to your room. Your phone chirps on your bedside table. One text from Danny Sexbang.

>can we talk? please?

You do not respond. You have spent too much time wrapped up in this.

 

Friday morning, you wake up to a voicemail waiting from Annie.

Hey, (Y/N)! Just wanted to say thanks again for taking my shift on Monday. I’ll take your Friday night one for you—that’s tonight, by the way! Don’t worry, I already worked it out with the boss. It’s really no trouble, the least I can do. Thanks so much again!

There’s also a new text from Dan and Suzy, respectively.

>can we talk?

It was a text you had been receiving daily from him. Insistent. Constant. Like you would budge.

Suzy’s is…

>dan won’t stop moping around the office, PLEASE talk to him!!!

>sorry, suzy, im not gonna. im not willing to fuck this up even more than i already have.

You at least dignify Suzy with a response.

You’ve holed yourself up in your apartment building for the past few days, surviving on whatever food has been in your fridge, which means you’ve just been eating a lot of omelettes and sandwiches. Grilled cheese, too.

You aren’t idle, though. Your neighbor a floor above you is paying you big bucks to repaint her granddaughter’s playroom from its current brightly colored catastrophe to something much more appropriate; a boring, adult off-white color.

But the bright colors and places where the girl had finger painted all over it requires some serious prep work, and probably close to six coats of paint after that. You were just buckling down to start the actual painting today, after sanding down nearly every part of the walls.

Perhaps your fatal flaw is that you still can’t quite shake Dan Avidan from your mind. You put on their Pokémon: FireRed playthrough for company.

Chapter Text

Close to 9pm, you decide to call it quits on the playroom.

It’s so. Goddamned. Colorful.

When you trudge back into your apartment, sweaty and paint-stained, you think that you’d be happy if you never had to pick up a paintbrush again. Hours and hours of you laying on the floor, painstakingly doing the trim work. But tomorrow you were just gonna keep going at it. Until that damn room was painted.

Good thing your neighbor was paying you some serious cash.

You’ve had your phone on silent all day, and you scroll through notifications. Twitter ones. Youtube ones. A missed text from Suzy.

>please!!!!

Your daily missed text from Dan still sits there, mocking you.

>can we please talk?

You are so, so tired…

>no

You hit the send button, throw your phone down on your bed, and collapse on it, spread eagle. Almost immediately your phone goes off again.

>why not?

>because i can’t handle the rejection

That’s enough emotional turmoil for today, you decide. You need something mind-numbing. Maybe a good television show. Or a video game—yeah, a video game sounds good. You shove in the most mindless one you can find, Katamari Forever, and sink into your couch with a pepsi.

You’re fifteen minutes in, rolling up food on a samurai katamari in an attempt to oust the largest samurai of the village when Dan bursts through your door.

“Shit!” You jump in your seat, scrambling to the edge of your couch, and Dan stares at you, wide-eyed, completely out of breath. Did he…run up the stairs? His shoulders heave with how heavy his breathing is. “Dan! What the fuck!”

“You—need to start locking your door, seriously,” Dan says, stretching out a hand to the nearest wall to steady himself, trying to catch his breath. “It’s a security hazard.”

Your heart is hammering, mostly from the scare. “Uh. Yeah. I’ll…remember that next time.” The two of you stare at each other. “What do you want?” you ask hesitantly.

Dan stares at you for a moment longer, then stands up straight and, with a wild hand gesture, asks, “What do you mean you can’t handle the rejection?!”

“I…what?”

Dan takes a step closer, into your living room, and you pause your game (although its fruitless at this point, you’ve wasted too much time, this level is lost), standing up to match him. “What do you mean. That you can’t. Handle. The rejection.” He repeats it slower and much more pronounced.

You look at him like he’s grown a second head. “You know, the rejection? Your rejection?”

“You rejected me!” Dan insists, eyes a little wild.

“What? No, you rejected me!”

“When?!”

“When you said we weren’t in a relationship, a few weeks back! After you took care of drunk me!” You can’t believe you have to explain this shit.

“No, no no no,” Dan shakes his head, curls bouncing. “You rejected me, you were the one who said the previous night that we weren’t in a relationship!”

“The previous night?”

“When you were drunk!”

“I was blackout, Dan!” you say incredulously. “I don’t remember anything I said that night!”

“Well, you said it!”

“Well, you went and got a rebound!” you throw at him. “Those hickies! This past Monday, at the bar? With the girl? The night I ruined? You heard me tell Rachel about—hell, you were fucking there!

“That was because you—” Dan’s hands flail wildly as he steps closer to you, and you take an automatic step back in response. “You were Skyping with—whatshisname? Leo! Shirtless guy!”

“Yeah, shirtless because he spilled schnapps on it!” you argue back.

“It doesn’t matter why, he was just—another guy! You had another guy, and me!”

“Another—what?” Your mind is reeling. “Leo is my fucking cousin, Dan!”

“He’s—what?” And for a thankful moment, there is silence between the two of you. Dan is staring at you like you’ve just dropped a huge bombshell on him.

“He’s my cousin,” you repeat, quieter, a normal speaking level. “On my dad’s side. Did that not compute?”

“I…hold on.” You can practically see the gears turning in his head. “Cousin?”

“I’m an only child. We’re only a year apart, so he’s the closest thing I had to a sibling. We drink together every once and awhile in remembrance of my parents? Remember?” You shake your head. “I told you this.”

“You never said he was your cousin!” Dan retaliates.

“That doesn’t…ugh!” You want to pull your hair out, this is so frustrating. “That doesn’t matter now, Dan! You went and slept with someone else the second I was out of the picture! That’s a pretty clear rejection in my mind!”

“How?!”

“Because there’s no emotional attachment!” You want to scream. “Suzy said, oh that Danny Sexbang, he gets around, and you do! And that’s—fine! But I thought, you know, maybe…” You quiet down a little. “Suzy…said you never bring girls to the grump space, and I thought…maybe…you liked me back. Emotionally. Romantically. In that way.”

The two of you continue to stare at each other.

“But you don’t!” you quickly pick back up. “So. There. I can’t handle the rejection. Do you see that now?”

“Well…!” Dan seems frantic, trying to piece together everything you’ve just said. “Well, you never asked me how I feel!”

You scoff, and cross your arms over your chest. “Fine! Dan, I have the biggest, dumbest, most fruitless crush on you. How do you feel?”

“Well I do too!” Dan shouts.

Absolute, drop-dead silence.

“Huh?” you say.

“I said,” Dan takes a deep breath, closing his eyes, “that I do too…have the biggest, dumbest, most fruitless crush on you.” He opens his eyes, looking at you. “There. Happy?”

“I…uh…” You’re flapping your lips like a fish, unable to get words out. Your heart’s hammering. Mind reeling. What? What?

“I…when I showed up, on your parent’s…death anniversary, and I saw you talking to Leo…”

“My cousin,” you cut in.

Dan shakes his head, smiling a little, dumbfounded. “Yeah, what the fuck, I can’t believe I didn’t…that didn’t connect. But I thought that you had another guy? And I was so…I apologized for being possessive, that was wrong of me, regardless. I was…jealous. So I…tried to rebound. Hence the hickies.” He looks at you with some sort of kicked puppy look, rubbing a hand over his neck absentmindedly. “It didn’t really work. I regretted it almost instantly. I tried to get Suzy to cover them up, actually.”

“And…Monday?” you prompt. Your knees feel a little weak.

“I was…I thought you were done with me. So I tried rebounding again…and you were there!” Dan laughs, as if he’s completely unable to believe the situation. “I couldn’t fucking believe it. Holy shit.”

Dan takes a few steps towards you, like he’s going to do something, and you stay rooted in your spot. Your whole world feels like its been kilted off-axis.

“I’m not…” you start to say, unsure how to say it. “I’m not…the dating type, Dan,” you say weakly. “I’m…emotional baggage to boot.”

“We all are.”

“Yeah, but I…my last…my last girlfriend, she…argh, it’s such a long story…”

“Can you tell it? To me?” Dan asks. He’s giving you those puppy-dog eyes. He looks so vulnerable.

Every fiber of your being wants to trust him.

Every fiber of your being does trust him.

“You…better sit,” you tell him.

Dutifully, Dan sits on the couch. You sit next to him, knees touching slightly. One of your legs can’t stop bouncing. You’re unsure how to really go about telling this story. You haven’t told anyone the entire thing. No one else that hadn’t been with you while you went through it.

“My parents died in a hit-and-run,” you start, staring at your hands in your lap. “Two years ago. And, unbeknownst to me, they left me…a shit-ton of money. I’m talking a fuck-ton, Dan. Like…an uncomfortable amount. I didn’t even know that we had it, honestly. Like, they helped pay for some of my college, but I still had student debts up to my chin. We weren’t…we didn’t live extravagantly? When I was growing up? Apparently it was invested in a lot of estates and—that’s…” you pause, twisting your hands around each other, growing a little nervous. “That’s not important. Sorry.

“I’m an only child, you know this, I’ve said it before. It—it left me wrecked, when they died. Right around this time, I had started seeing a girl, back on the Eastcoast, where I lived, named Kate. She was…perfect. We had that sweet honeymoon period for about a month, and then the hit-and-run happened, and…she stuck with me through it. I thought it was an absolute miracle. I thought she was perfect. The girl of my dreams, you know?

“I had to sort through a lot of lawyers, handle the estates I didn’t know we had, a lot of finances, before everything was finally closed. I suddenly just had so much money, I didn’t know what to do with it…I was just gonna…donate most of it. Which is…kind of, I dunno. Naïve, I suppose. I just didn’t want it. I thrive…actually working. Back on the Eastcoast, I…my friend Luke and I, we were roommates and had, like, handyman business together?” You smile thinking back to it. “This is—really, super unrelated, except for that Luke wanted to move to Savannah to pursue his own dreams out there, so I was left with a lot of money and no companion other than Kate to help me through everything. Rachel lives in Illinois, so that was a no-go. Like I said, I wanted to donate it. My family…they were all pretty understanding about it. We all support each other.

“Kate though…Kate was not. Understanding about it. We had moved in together, and I didn’t know it at the time, but she had taken over my entire life. Everything I did, Kate had to know. Everywhere I went. She had this…leash on me that I didn’t even see until it was too late. It was, ah…it was way too late when I realized it. I thought she had kept me from this depressive hole, but she had just disguised it. When I finally realized it, and told her I was going to donate the money and try to find happiness and purpose again in singing and acting, she took the money and ran. I didn’t even know she had access to the accounts. I think she…um…I think she stayed with me for the money, y’know?

“One of my uncles, though, he made it big in, like, whatever the fuck he does, so he has a lot of cash to burn. While I was spiraling deeper and deeper into depression, digging myself deeper and deeper past rock bottom, now broke, he tracked down Kate and sued her for the money. He got it back. I didn’t even have to do much, at the end of the day. Just show up in court. I wasn’t even…I wasn’t even pushing myself to get it back. It was just something my uncle—and Leo, actually, his son—did on their own. My family likes to stick together.

“So I just…” You sigh, still staring at your fidgeting hands. “I was on the Eastcoast, unable to live on my own because of mental illness now, severely depressed, a suicide attempt under my belt, anxiety ridden, unable to really go outside because I was so scared, so…with the money, my family stuck me in the hospital. Two months later I was out. And then my uncle did me another favor. He owns this apartment complex, and he told me they needed a maintenance person…so they let me stay here, in this apartment, free of rent. Just utilities. It’s…kind of fucked up, when you think about it. Super privileged. But he pities me. And loves me. And loved my father. So…I just go with it. Go with the flow.

“I just…” You trail off a little, unsure how to really continue all of this. Dan is looking at you, waiting patiently for you to finish. Your mouth feels dry with the amount of talking you’ve just done. “I just…everything…it’s…it’s gone so wrong, for so long? And you have just been so great, in every aspect, to me. For me. With…the Youtube stuff, everything. Even my friends noticed changes when you started hanging around me more. They said I looked happier. I’m just…so afraid, of fucking this up too. I can’t let it…I can't let myself fuck it up.” You clench your hands into fists in your lap, desperately trying to swallow your tears.

There’s a moment of silence between the two of you, before Dan asks, quietly, “Can I say my thing now?”

You nod.

Dan takes both your cold hands into his large warm ones. You just stare at your joined hands. “(Y/N). That all sucks dick. And…thank you for telling me, I really, really cannot express how much it means to me. I’m so sorry. And I’m…I gotta be honest, commitment is hard for me.”

Your heart sinks a little.

“But I just…like you so much, I don’t…god, you’re so fucking awesome, everything you do is awesome and every time you do something new I’m like, shit, she’s just so amazing, and I…do you wanna try?” His voice sounds a little strained. “The relationship thing?”

You look from your clasped hands up to him. His eyes are wide and pleading and vulnerable.

“It doesn’t—have to be any different from how we really are, you know? It really doesn’t. I don't even know if I could...do it any different like we are now. We just…slap a label on it and call it a day. Take it super slow, see how it goes? I dunno. I just miss you and miss having you around and…can’t lose you? That all sounds so cheesy,” he laughs a little, “but I…yeah. What do you think?”

Your start to tear up, giving Dan a watery smile.

“Please don’t cry!” he bursts out, tackling you to the couch onto your back with a large hug. As you choke out laughter, tears starting to streak down your face, he buries his face in your shirt. Dan’s hair is tickling your face, getting in your mouth, and you just laugh harder. “Please don’t cry!” he pleads again.

“I’m—I’m crying ‘cause I’m happy, Dan,” you laugh, breathless, petting his hair. Dan just hugs you tighter, squeezing you around your middle.

Dan mumbles something into your chest.

“I can’t hear you, dummy,” you tease.

He lifts his head slightly, resting his cheek on the top of your chest. “If you cry I’m gonna cry,” he repeats.

“Are you crying now?” you ask, still laughing.

You could care less, though, not with him here.

Dan sniffs. “Maybe,” he mutters. “Is that a yes, then?”

You plant a kiss to the top of his head, through his thick hair. “Yeah, it’s a yes. We'll take it as slow as can be.”

“Okay. Okay. Good.”

A moment passes in silence, with you petting Dan’s hair as he lays on top of you, and you’re finally content, when—

“Your boobs make great pillows,” Dan pipes up.

“Way to ruin the moment, asshole.”

Dan giggles, then shifts around and, with some difficulty not to fall off your couch (it was hardly made for two people, especially not if one of them was Dan’s size), he braces a hand on the armrest at your head and gazes down at you. He has a soft smile on his face, his eyes a little red. So he really did cry.

“Hi,” he whispers.

“Hi,” you giggle back. You loop your arms around his neck. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” Dan says, sounding nonchalant. “Just admiring how beautiful my girl is.”

“Oh, cool. You’ll have to introduce me to her, sometime.” You keep a straight face, but you feel giddy inside.

Dan snickers a little, but then regains his composure. “Sure. I think you’ll like her, you two have a lot in common.”

“Yeah? Like the fact she sucks at communicating and totally almost blew it with the guy she likes?”

“Or maybe that you’re both unbelievably gorgeous in every way, shape, and form?” Dan offers.

You blush deeply, the shared breath between the two of you is too hot. You fiddle with some of the hairs on the back of Dan’s neck. “Don’t let her hear you say that,” you tell him. “She might get jealous.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. In fact, you should probably just stop talking all together.” You try to tug him down a little, closer to you. You haven’t kissed him in weeks, and you’re desperate for it by now.

Dan doesn’t budge. “You got something better I can do with my mouth?”

“I can think of a few things, sure.”

Smile on his lips, he finally closes the gap and kisses you. Sweetly. Savoring it. You pull his entire body flush against yours, and feel your heart swell.

This is good.

Chapter Text

Dan spends the night with you, laying in bed as the two of you lazily make out and have sex. You feel like you have all the time in the world, with him leisurely pumping into you with two fingers and his thumb doing small circles over your clit. He gets you off just to do so, not with any real agenda. Just so you can let it work through your body and help you relax, clutched against him and breathing heavy. You make sure to return the favor.

At four in the morning, his phone goes off.

You wake up to the ringtone, and curl around Dan, who has his back to you. As you jetpack there, you hear him grope around wildly through the dark to grab his phone. He answers it with a groggy, “What the fuck, Arin.”

You’re close enough to hear Arin on the other end. “Dude. We lost the footage.

“What?”

Matt just texted me. The latest batch of Mario Maker footage, its…

“Uuuuggghhhh,” Dan draws out the groan. “Fuck me. Just fuck me, fucking fuck.”

Is there any chance you can come in to redo it? Different levels. We just need something for Matt to edit.”

“Right now? I’m kind of, um…over at (Y/N)’s.”

At the sound of your name, you lift your head from between Dan’s shoulder blades and prop yourself up on your elbow.

Oh, dude, really?” Arin sounds like he’s smiling on the other end. “Well, if this is a bad time, we can do it in the morning, I’m just worried…

You lean down and speak near the phone. “He’ll be in in an hour, Arin.”

Dan groans loudly in protest.

“Maybe hour and a half,” you rectify.

Heh, thanks. Thanks Dan. Thanks (Y/N). Sorry about this.

“Not your fault, dude,” Dan mumbles. “See you soon.”

Yeah. Bye, guys!

Dan hangs up and all but slams his phone back onto your bedside table. He rolls around to face you, and you settle your head back on the pillow. “I can’t believe you volunteered me for that,” he mumbles, eyes squinted at you sleepily.

You brush some of the hair away from his face, your hand lingering there. “You gotta do it.”

“Maybe you should—” his sentence breaks with a jaw-splitting yawn, “—go in for me, dick around with Arin. Pretend to be me while I catch some shut eye.”

“Yeah, I’m sure your fans would love that,” you retort. “Get in the shower, or something. I’ll make you coffee.”

“Do you have tea?” Dan asks, combing a few long fingers through your hair. You get distracted with the feeling of it, and forget to respond for a moment, still waking up yourself. “(Y/N)?” he giggles.

“Uhh….no, I don’t have any tea,” you eventually say, and Dan pouts. “I haven’t drank anything other than coffee for ages.”

“Well, that’s disgusting, and we need to get you hooked on tea immediately,” Dan jokes, and you scowl.

“Fuck you, my coffee is the goddamned best.”

He laughs, leaning forward and kissing you.

“Gross, you have morning breath. Get in the shower, dude,” you laugh when he pulls back, giggling. You probably have the dumbest smile on your face right now. “Or you’re gonna fall back asleep.”

“Ugh, if only,” Dan groans, and you all but push him out of your bed. You sit up and switch on your bedside lamp, and a small amount of warm light bathes your room. Dan is stretching, arms up, slow and leisurely. His entire body is sharp angles, stick thin. Like the smallest gust of wind could knock him over.

“Like what ya’ see, babe?” Dan asks, catching you staring, and winks at you.

“More concerned with your lack of body mass, honestly,” you tell him, climbing out of bed yourself. You feel a little self conscious, standing there with him, naked, but Dan looks at you with a sleepy, almost lovestruck smile. He takes a step forward, crowding into your space, and engulfs you in a hug, kissing the top of your head. You lean your head against his bony shoulder, smiling.

“You good?” Dan murmurs into your hair.

“Yeah,” you reply, leaning back and breaking the hug so you can stand on your tiptoes, cup his face with one hand and kiss him softly. Kissing him really never gets old. “I’m great.”

“I can use your shower, right? Not the guest one?” Dan asks. “I smell like sweat and sex.”

“You’re about to smell like my body wash, soon,” you tell him, walking into your bathroom—attached to the master bedroom—and flip on the light. You push the shower door open and turn it on the water to the hottest setting. “God, I probably smell terrible too.”

“We can always…shower together?”

You turn to look at Dan, who looks like he’s just come up with the most brilliant idea on the planet. “Shower sex is, like, super dangerous, though,” you tell him. “All slippery, and not in a good way.”

“Ummm, did I say we were going to have shower sex?” Dan asks. “God, (Y/N), get your mind out of the gutter. I said we could shower together.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” you tease lightly, “I didn’t know casual nudity was your thing.”

“Oh my god, just get in the shower and help me wash my back,” Dan laughs, and you dutifully step under the spray of water, Dan getting in after you. He blinks his eyes rapidly a few times, and you step out of the water to let him get under it.

“Everything okay?” you ask, watching him rub his eyes.

“Yeah, I just—” he yawns, “—slept with my contacts in, my eyes are all crusty and gross.”

“You wear glasses?”

“Not if I can help it.” Water clings to his large hair. “This water is burning.”

“I take hot showers,” you shrug. “Like, fire-cannot-kill-a-dragon hot.” You grab the washcloth and the body wash from the rack attached to the wall.

Dan’s face lights up. “You’ve seen Game of Thrones?”

“No.” His face falls a little. “I’ve read them.”

Dan suddenly beams at you. “Even better. God. You’re so amazing.”

You laugh, a little nervous. “Are we just gonna stand here and talk or actually shower?”

Giggling, Dan turns his back to you, tilting his head back to look at you over his shoulder. “Lather up!”

 

You have to make him toast because the two of you took too long in the shower, giggling together, Dan spending too much time with soapy hands running over your breasts and stomach just to torture your ticklish self. You have to physically push him out of your apartment to make sure he has time to stop home and get his glasses then go to the grump’s space to record.

“I’ll text you,” he says, finally outside your door. “After we finish recording.”

“I’d say come over later, but I have to bartend tonight.”

“I could come over when you get back?”

“Dan.” You reach up and stroke his hair, gently, and then place your palm on the side of his face. He leans against it. “Don’t stress yourself. I’m always around. Take it easy today.”

Dan catches your hand as you pull it back, kissing your palm, and you blush a little. “I love making you do that,” he admits.

“Do what?”

“Blush. It’s a good look on you.”

“Shut up!”

The two of you giggle, and you say, “Oh my god, get out of here, Arin’s gonna be pissed.”

Dan waves at you over his shoulder as he walks off, blowing you a kiss.

You close the door behind you, lock it, and smile to yourself, jumping a little to spend your sudden influx of energy. It had all really just sunk it: Dan likes you too.

 

At ten a.m., you’re back up after a brief nap, scrolling through your Twitter notifications while you lay in bed. Your bed smells like Dan, and you’re reluctant to leave it.

Lovestruck. You were definitely a little lovestruck.

how long have you played piano? one user asks in your mentions. You skim to the next one. did you ever take formal singing lessons?

What do you do outside of Youtube?

What are your hobbies?

What’s your favorite animal?

The questions are piling up, at this point. You’re pretty erratic at answering them, because some answers you just can’t do in 140 characters, but sometimes you are just lazy.

An idea strikes you.

>ive been getting a lot of questions lately: do you guys want me to do a q&a video? enough affirmatives and it’ll happen!

You send out the tweet, then check your email. There’s a specific one that catches your eye—casting call.

You open the email.

One of the local theaters in L.A. was doing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was holding auditions. You hadn’t acted in so long, caught up in your day job and bartending and Youtube and…

Excuses, excuses, excuses, you think to yourself. You opened the link, scrolling through the available times. Most of them seemed to fit in your loose schedule. You put your name in for a afternoon slot two days from now, set a reminder on your phone, and decided to finally get out of bed. It feels good to have accomplished something.

You throw on some clothes you can get paint splattered on, grab the supplies that had been soaking in your kitchen sink, and trudge to your neighbors to get at least one more coat on the walls before you had to bartend. It was Saturday, after all.

 

Monday morning your phone goes off, much earlier than you anticipated on being awake.

“Mmm…hello?” you mumble into it, eyes still shut.

(Y/N)!

“Hey, Suzy,” you say.

Did I wake you up?

“Yeah,” you say around a yawn, sitting up and rubbing your eyes. “It’s no biggie, though. What can I do for you?”

Well…you missed lunch with us last week, so eat with us today?

“Why…why are you calling me so early to ask me to go to lunch?” you ask her, probably a little too blunt.

Uh, because I have more forethought than Dan to ask you half an hour before?

“True,” you laugh a little. “What time are you lunch-ing?”

Noon-ish?

“That sounds…uh…yeah…” You try to flip through your schedule mentally, still trying to wake up. “I’ve just got an audition at three, so that’ll be fine.”

An audition? For what!

You laugh a little at Suzy’s enthusiasm. “Just a play. I’ll—I’ll tell you about it at lunch.”

Awesome! Holy shit, I’m excited!

“Heh…so…where’s lunch?”

Oh! Just stop by the grump’s space at noon, we’ll have something ordered!” Suzy reassured you.

“Sounds great, Suzy. I’ll be there.”

See ya’! Oh—and don’t tell Dan!

You stare down at your phone, confused, as Suzy hangs up immediately. Don’t tell Dan? That was obviously doable. Just weird.

You lay back down, deciding to get a few more hours of shut-eye before officially getting up.

 

When you pull up to the grump’s space just shy of noon, you’re a lot more dolled up than usual. Full-face make-up was not your specialty, but for auditions you made exceptions. You had also, in another rare occasion, dressed in a skirt and a much more business-casual blouse. Feeling a little self conscious about your appearance, you go and knock on the door to the grump’s space.

Suzy is the one who answers.

“Hey!” She has a bright smile on her face, ushering you inside. “Dan and Arin are in the middle of recording, but the food just got here, do you wanna tell them that its lunchtime?”

“Uh…won’t I be interrupting?” you ask, a little confused.

Suzy’s smile turns into a slight smirk, and she says, “Just sneak in and wait for them to say ‘next time on Game Grumps’.”

“What…what are you planning?” you ask suspiciously.

Suzy just continues to smile.

You wave at Barry as you pass his desk, and he waves back enthusiastically, happy to see you. Ross is immersed in his computer monitor, failing to see you. Suzy turns the knob for the recording room, slowly opening it without a sound. You wonder if this will really work.

AW FUCK MAN C’MON! I WAS SO FUCKING CLOSE!

Arin’s loud voice instantly booms from inside, and you stifle a laugh.

“Dude, I think we gotta do this…”

“Don’t you dare say it, asshole.”

“Next time on Game Grumps!”

“FUCK!”

Dan and Arin laugh with each other, and you peek inside to see that they are attempting to conquer another level of Mario Maker. Suffering incarnate.

Suzy motions for you to go inside.

A little nervous, you try to walk in as quietly as possible. Dan is stretching, arms up, popping a few joints, and Arin is grumbling to himself.

“Hey guys,” you say, leaning down to put your head between both of them, startling them in the process. “Lunch is here.”

“(Y/N)!” Dan exclaims with a huge smile, leaping up from the couch and almost tackling you in a hug. You laugh, hugging him back, desperately trying to not fall over with the force of the hug. “I missed you!”

“You saw me, like, two days ago,” you say, trying to not mumble into his shirt. From the couch, Arin just laughs.

“Doesn’t matter!”

“You are the bearer of, like, the best news,” Arin says, getting up from the couch. “I am in need of a motherfuckin’ break.”

“Tough level?” you ask, Dan still hugging you tightly.

“Don’t even get me started,” Arin warns.

You laugh a little, then focus back on the man wrapped around you. “Dan.”

“Yeah?” he mumbles into your hair.

“Let go of me.”

Dan just giggles and hugs you tighter.

“You’re messing up my look!”

Dan finally pulls back, still giggling, and you look over at Arin, who’s giving you a shit-eating smirk. “What?” you ask, just shy of snapping at him.

Arin shrugs. “Just good to see the two of you getting along again,” he responds.

“Aww, c’mon dude, don’t give me away,” Dan whines, and you walk out of the recording space and into the larger room, going for the sandwiches wrapped on the kitchenette counter. Arin knew, then? Of course he did, Suzy said Dan had been sulking around the office. And Suzy was married to Arin…of course they talked about it…and Dan and Arin were best friends…

Dan follows close behind you, practically on your heels. “You do look nice, you know,” he says, and you turn to him, now with sandwich in hand. “Not that you don’t always look nice, ‘cause—you always do! You just look, uh…fuck,” he giggles, looking bashful, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. He seems so flustered. A few steps away, Suzy and Arin are whispering to each other.

“I just look…?” you prompt Dan, trying to edge him into more blush-y territory.

“Aw, c’mon! You know what I’m saying,” he whines a little, stepping close to you and smoothing his large hands over your shoulders and upper arms. “You look very professional,” he says, a little quieter. “Like you’re a big corporate boss, and I’m your secretary, and you’re trying to seduce me and we’re gonna fuck on your expensive mahogany desk and—hey!”

Dan laughs when you hit him in the chest with the wrapped sandwich.

“Save it for the bedroom, hotshot,” you tell him, loudly.

Suzy, Arin and Barry erupt into laughter.

“Anyway, I have an audition today,” you say, addressing both him and Suzy. Dan reaches behind you and grabs a random sandwich, and flops down on one of the beanbags, unwrapping it and taking a huge bite. “For a musical.”

“Ooh! Which musical?” Suzy asks, grabbing her own sandwich and tucking in. With all the chatter around, Ross has finally taken off his headphones and noticed you.

“Musical? Can you sing?” he asks.

“Ross, you’re the worst,” Dan bemoans. “Of course she fuckin’ sings, she’s the best—”

Your face heats up.

“I was just teasin’, dude!” Ross laughs. “You’re so easy.”

Dan mumbles something you don’t catch and continues eating his sandwich.

“Which musical, though?” Ross continues, addressing you.

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” you rattle off.

“You’ll have to tell us when it is, we’ll block it off and take a grump trip to see it!” Suzy says enthusiastically.

“Ah, I’m not guaranteed a part,” you mutter, then take a bite of your sandwich to give yourself time. When you swallow the mouthful, you add, “I’m a little rusty with my dance skills, anyway.”

“Nah, you’re gonna rock it!” Arin says, sounding excited. He’s already finished his sandwich. “Gonna be so good, I can’t wait to see you act!”

You feel your stomach churn a little bit, and you let the conversation flow away from you as you finish your sandwich. Everyone laughs and jokes around, laid-back and easygoing. Your head is swimming, though. You have an audition today. It’s been so long…

“Okay, Dan, back to recording?” Arin asks. He casts a look at you, and you get the message.

“I gotta head out, anyway,” you say.

“Lemme walk you to your car! Be right back, Arin,” Dan jumps up from the beanbag, wobbling on his feet a little.

“Bye guys!” you call over your shoulder as you and Dan walk out the door.

“Good luck, (Y/N)!” everyone seems to chorus back.

You and Dan walk in silence for the few steps to your car, the sun beating down on you, a dry heat. When you get to the driver’s side door, you turn to Dan, who’s giving you a dopey grin.

“Thanks for stopping by,” he says, leaning down a little, providing you some shade.

“Suzy’s idea,” you tell him. “Thank her.”

“Oh, I will,” he reassures, taking a step closer, right into your space, backing you against the heated car door. “I was feeling kind of down, but you cheered me up.”

“Feeling kind of down?” you repeat with a frown. “Why?”

Dan shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter now.” He cups your face with both hands, and you stand on your tiptoes, kissing him. His hands trail down your neck, over your shoulders, down your sides and then rest at your waist. You wrap your arms around his neck, bringing him closer, body pressed against yours. The kiss gets more heated, Dan catches your bottom lip between his teeth gently, and you open your mouth to him automatically. His tongue starts to count your teeth, slowly, and you feel your core throb as he plays with the waistband of the skirt and—

“Would you two stop making out?! Dan, get back here!” Arin shouts from the doorway.

You break away with a laugh, and Dan huffs, annoyed, leaning his forehead against yours. “Good luck with your audition,” he tells you in the intimate space between you two.

“If that’s the good luck, I can’t wait to see what I’ll get if I get a part,” you reply.

Dan giggles, and presses one more quick kiss to your lips, and pries himself away from you. “I’ll see you later?” he says as he walks, backwards, slowly, to the grump’s space.

“Tell me when you’re coming over,” you tell him with a small wave. From the doorway, you can practically see Arin’s exasperated look.

You smile all the way back to your apartment, needing to fix your lipstick.

Chapter Text

The audition, despite your experience, is nerve-wracking. Regardless, you shake out your jitters afterwards, and drive back to your apartment with a sense of satisfaction. You think it went well. Even if you didn’t get a call-back, you at least managed to do it. Something you hadn’t accomplished since before your parents had died.

You text Dan as you walk through your apartment door, feeling a little restless, and check your email and missed voicemails. People asking you to fix a few little things here and there. You—thankfully—shed your business casual attire and put on your much more comfortable “work” clothes, grab your toolkit and run around the building complex for almost three hours. Familiar, mindless work lets all the stress ooze from your body, until you’re sore from the odd position you had held under someone’s sink, but feeling content.

Dan texts you that he’ll be over around nine, “no matter how much Arin jokes that its too early,” and that he’s bringing food, which puts you alone in your apartment around 7pm waiting anxiously.

A shower, you decide. You should probably shower.

…Which puts you at 7:15pm, anxiously waiting.

“Too early?” you grumble to yourself, hanging up your towel on the corner of the door and staring at your closet. “Goddamn too early my ass.” You walk over to your dresser and pull open one of the drawers, looking for underwear.

It seems that you are in desperate need of doing laundry.

You pull the drawer out almost all the way, rooting around, trying to find—

…Huh.

You pull out the lingerie piece you had shoved in the back. It’s frilly, a soft pink, lacy, and you had put it back there because there was no where else to put it, really. Who were you ever going to wear it for?

You slip it on, foregoing the matching bra completely, and then throw on a too-large pajama shirt. You can play video games until Dan arrives, you decide.

 

You’re engrossed in an Overwatch match when Dan knocks on your door.

“It’s open!” you call, unable to tear your eyes from the screen. You’re so close to Reaper’s ultimate, you just need—

“Hey, babe,” Dan says, carrying two plastic bags with him. “I brought Chinese.” The door slams behind him.

“Thanks. Plates are in the kitchen.”

“Die! Die! Die!” Reaper chants on the screen.

“Get fuckin’ wrecked, scrub!” you shout, getting a triple kill. You hear Dan laughing in the kitchen.

A few moments later, Dan sits down next to you on the floor, plates in hand and starting to unwrap the food. “Overwatch?” he asks, sounding a little amused, stretching his long legs out in front of him.

“Mmhmm,” you barely reply. “Um. I’m super close to getting another loot box. I want Mercy’s devil skin.”

“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds sexy.” You can hear the smirk in his voice.

“Oh, it is,” you laugh a little. Only a few seconds later, the screen proclaims VICTORY. You finally turn your attention to Dan, putting a hand on his cheek and kissing him. He’s scruffy, you realize, having not shaved in a few days. “Hi,” you say, when you pull back.

Dan smiles at you. “Hi. I was afraid you were ignoring me for video games.”

“Well, not entirely.”

Dan pouts. You giggle at the exaggerated expression on his face. “Let’s eat, you doof.”

You leave the title screen on as the two of you eat, going back and forth with conversation. Dan bemoans about his extremely busy schedule, complains that you haven’t met Brian yet just by pure coincidence, talks about travel plans he has to make, and steals the last dumpling off your plate.

“How was your audition?” he asks around a mouthful of stolen dumpling.

You glare at him a little, then pick your controller up again and load up a match. “It was fine, I guess,” you tell him. “I think—uh, I think they were impressed with my singing, which is a nice ego boost.”

“You gotta sing and dance, right?” he asks, scooting closer to you, shoving the empty plates away with one of his feet. “Can you dance?”

“Yes, I can dance,” you scoff, picking Tracer as your character. You wait for other players to pick theirs.

“I’ve never seen you dance.”

“Well I’m not really great at it,” you say. “I just—one of my audition songs show off my dancing, usually. So I did that. Spent the weekend practicing in the mirror.”

Thirty seconds till the match starts. You run Tracer around in circles on screen, crowding the Widowmaker on your team. You’re on the defensive this round.

“You could’ve practiced in front of me,” Dan offers, a finger trailing up and down your thigh. You chuckle.

“You were busy this entire weekend, remember?”

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” Dan groans, so close his hair is tickling your cheek. You smile and lean into him a little.

Thirty second are up. You jump forward out of the spawn room and start sprinting towards the payload. “Get to the payload, assholes!” you tell the screen, your teammates unable to hear you. “Where the fuck are you going!”

Dan giggles.

“Payload! Payload! GET ON THE PAYLOAD!” you chant loudly. You’re hit by an enemy Pharah. Dan’s fingers still trace up and down your bare thigh, idly making patterns. “These fucking idiots,” you tell Dan, not turning to face him, eyes still glued to the screen. “You gotta—fuck!” You’re killed by the enemy Pharah. “You gotta stay on the payload! Protect the payload!” You re-spawn. “PROTECT THE PAYLOAD!”

You hadn’t noticed it before, but your large shirt is shucked up on your hips, revealing your lingerie.

You do, however, notice Dan’s fingers getting closer and closer to the waistband of them.

“Nice panties,” he comments, trying to sound nonchalant.

You hum to yourself, focused on getting revenge on the enemy Pharah. “Uhmm, thanks,” you finally respond. Dan runs a finger over the waistband, feeling the pattern, and you giggle and squirm a little at the light touch over your abdomen. “Don’t distract me, Dan,” you tell him, but smiling. “I’m ticklish.”

“I know,” he huffs out a laugh, scooting even closer to you, running two fingers over you through them. Gently. Almost teasingly. “I’m just admiring how cute these are.”

“Uh-huh,” you reply, unconvinced, trying to focus on the match. Another thirty seconds left to this round. “And your hand practically down my pants? Just admiring, right?”

“Yeah,” he breathes against your ear, making goosebumps rise on your skin. “Glad we’re on the same page.” He continues, from bottom to top, with the pads of his fingers. You inhale sharply, still trying to focus on the game.

The payload crosses the finish line. Your screen proclaims VICTORY.

“Game’s over,” Dan murmurs.

“Nope,” you reply. “Two more rounds.”

The way Dan groans in your ear sends a wave of heat through your body, right down your core.

It’s gonna be a long two more rounds, you realize. You stay put as Tracer in game, trying to keep your breathing even as Dan continues to stroke you. Focus. You just gotta focus.

“These are nice, though,” Dan comments, referring to your panties. His full attention is on you, unwavering, as you—as your character makes a beeline for the payload. “Where’d you get ‘em?”

“Found them,” you mumble, chewing your lip. “Need to do laundry. Only things to wear. Matching set.” You bite out the sentence, trying to stay focused on the game.

It’s high noon,” an enemy McCree drawls on screen, and you don’t have the reflex to run. You’re killed. You wait to re-spawn.

“You better put these through the laundry too, babygirl,” Dan chuckles, voice pitching low, as he applies a little more pressure with his fingers. He drags them slowly over your clit, and your hips jerks a little. “These are soaked through.”

Dan,” you exhale, sounding somewhat disapproving. Despite that, Dan finally, finally slips his hand into your panties. He’s right, you’re wet, he easily slips a single finger inside you, but you’re too stubborn to give up on the game.

Your screen proclaims DEFEAT.

“Fuck me,” you groan, and switch your character to D.Va. You could play her without much thought, which was good, considering all your thoughts were on the way Dan was leisurely pumping a finger in and out of you.

“I’m tryin’,” he says, breath hot on your ear.

The match starts. Slower than Tracer, you steer D.Va towards the payload.

“That’s what you want, right? Want me to fuck you?”

Two fingers, now. A little faster than before. Unconsciously, you spread your legs wider and cant your hips up slightly. Dan presses an open mouthed kiss just below your ear, then another under your jaw. His hair is getting in the way of the screen.

You start D.Va’s ultimate, her mech launching forward. Ninety seconds left in the match.

“Mm, yeah, I love when you’re like this,” he murmurs against your skin. “Hot and bothered, dolled up, red in the face.”

“Shut your fuck,” you grit out through your teeth.

“Can never get enough of you,” Dan continues. “You’re too good. Fuck. Can’t wait to be inside you, babe. Gonna make you scream.”

Final. Goddamn. Straw.

You throw the controller down (well, actually just place it on the floor, that shit is expensive), and turn towards Dan, grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him down on top of you. Dan laughs, now hovering over you, his hand out of your panties. “You’re the worst, ever,” you tell him, pulling him down to kiss you.

Dan’s tongue is in your mouth instantly, a rehash of earlier that day. He braces himself on his hands over you, and you run your hands over his back. Completely clothed, Dan ruts against you, and you moan, frustrated, into his mouth.

“Something wrong, baby?” he asks, pulling back a hair’s length. Before you can say anything, he ruts against you again. He’s blanketed on top of you, pressed against you, you can feel his body heat through both of your shirts. You lean forward and catch his bottom lip between your teeth, and then go back to making out with him momentarily.

“Stop teasing me, Dan,” you mutter against his mouth.

“Teasin’?” he repeats, smirking down at you a little, and you lay your head back down on the floor. He looms over you. “Who’s teasin’, here?”

“Dan, I swear—”

You’re cut off by him sealing his lips back over yours, and your tongues battle for a minute while you trail your hands over his clothed front, and finally reach his jeans. You unbutton the top and tug down the zipper hastily.

“Eager, babygirl?” Dan asks, letting you pull his jeans and underwear down so that his cock can get free. Maintaining eye contact with him, you lick your hand slowly, trying to give him a seductive look, and then wrap your hand around his dick. Dan chokes off a moan as you start to jerk him off, his arms quivering slightly.

“You calling me petnames goes up by, like, eighty-six percent when we have sex,” you tell him. Dan’s hips thrust a little erratically, making it harder for you to keep rhythm. “And who’s eager now?”

Dan breathes heavy against you, chuckling, balancing himself on one hand, and uses the other to blindly tug your panties down your legs. You laugh a little, because its a fruitless endeavor singlehandedly, and you watch him slowly get more and more frustrated, before you lift your hips from the ground and use both your hands to help him out, eventually just kicking your panties off. Dan repositions himself so that the head of his cock nudges against your entrance. His hips move again, sliding his dick between your folds, over your clit, with increased pressure.

“Ohh, fuck,” you moan. “Condom, condom, get a condom,” you say, feeling dizzy with lust, trying to push him off you.

Dan sits back on his knees, blindly rummaging in the back pocket of his jeans that are loose around his thighs, and he pulls out his wallet. Opens it, takes out a condom, throws the wallet on the ground.

“You know,” you say as you watch him open it and roll it onto his dick, “condoms shouldn’t actually be kept in wallets.”

“You wanna make the trek to the bedroom? Or should we start keeping a stash in random places around your apartment?” Dan asks, then guides himself into you with one hand. You moan and lift your hips to him.

“Nah, I’m not going anywhere,” you breathe out with what little air is left in your lungs. Fully inside you, Dan covers your body with his again. “Move, c’mon, move Dan,” you say in his ear. Dan groans, pulls out of you, and slams back in. You make a noise with it, fingers digging into his back, and he does it again. And again. Faster and faster, he plows into you.

“Fu-uck,” he moans, mouthing absently at your neck. You tangle a hand in his hair, grasping at the roots. “I’m—fuck, ah—so close already.”

Your toes curl as he continues to thrust into you, hitting your sweet spot repeatedly. “Cum then, Dan,” you tell him, sensually.

His thrusts become a little more erratic. “Not until—uhnn—you, you gotta…” He’s clearly trying to hang on.

You clench your walls around him, and his hips stutter against yours. The hand that isn’t in his hair, you work between the two of you, furiously rubbing your clit. That’s all you need, then, you’re so close. “Fuck,” you gasp, “oh, Dan, I’m—”

It crashes over you, harder than expected, and your hips attempt to rise and fall, but just keep meeting his. Dan breathes your name against you, and with a long drawn out moan, his hips jerk a few more times before stilling completely.

After a moment to catch your respective breaths, you laugh a little, still laying on on the floor with Dan still on top of you. Dan giggles, right in your ear, too.

“That team is gonna remember me for bailing on them forever,” you tell him, in reference to the Overwatch match you had abandoned to fuck him.

“Screw them,” he says, propping himself up on his elbows and looking down at you. His hair falls over his face, right into yours, and you smooth it back with your hands.

“Also you’re so lucky I have hardwood floors, and not carpet,” you continue. “Cause that would’ve been rugburn for days.”

“Wow, yeah, I’m just one lucky guy, aren’t I?” he giggles.

“Ugh, get off me, I feel gross. I just showered, too.”

Dutifully, Dan gets off you—slips out of you, too. He takes the condom off, and redoes his boxers and jeans around his hips, laughing to himself a little.

You sit up. “What’s so funny?” you ask.

“Just—” Dan laughs, unable to finish his sentence. “After sex. Isn’t it supposed to be awkward? I just feel weirdly domestic.”

You roll your eyes, stretching your legs out a little, nudging him with one of your feet. “I guess? I dunno. You wanna watch a movie or something?”

“Sure.” Dan rubs one of his hands over your leg. “What movie were you thinking?”

“Uh…” You think for a moment. “I dunno. Let’s just scan through Netflix until we find something good.”

“Works for me.”

Chapter Text

You have to do the Q&A video.

It’s honestly staring you in the face at this point. You have to do the Q&A video. You almost regret saying that you would do it—you hate yourself on camera. But you have to do it.

Do you want me to help?” Suzy asks over the phone. “I can definitely help.

“That would be a lifesaver, honestly,” you tell her, cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder as you dump the dirtied paint supplies in your kitchen sink. You flip on the water, letting the bucket fill. “Tomorrow is…”

“…Friday.”

“Saturday afternoon? What are you doing Saturday afternoon.”

I wanted to run to a few stores, also have to go grocery shopping, I think…

“What if Saturday I make you lunch and you help me record the Q&A video? I have to be at the bar at 4:30, anyway.”

Sounds good! I’ll be there. I’m excited! I’ve never seen your apartment before.”

You think of your barren walls and beat up furniture. “Probably for good reason.”

Suzy laughs. You smile. “I’ll see you Saturday, then!

“See you then, Suzy.”

Bye-bye!

Tired and worn out, you put our phone on the counter after she hangs up and start rinsing the brushes.

You had been pushing yourself hard the past few days to get your neighbor’s room painted, not to mention actually record your cover of Glitter In The Air (which you would get to, eventually, as soon as you and Dan's scheduled actually aligned). You felt achy, and also maybe a bit like you were getting sick.

Dan had been busy this past week, which was really no surprise. You hadn’t seen him since Monday, when he literally fell asleep with his bushy head in your lap while watching a B-list Netflix film. You had to maneuver him into your bed and let him wrap you in gangly arms and curl around you, asleep again within seconds. You didn’t mind it at all.

Tomorrow, though. Tomorrow was going to be a day.

Callbacks.

You had it put in on your phone calendar in all caps, dreading it. You had gotten a callback, which was good. But you didn’t know what the fuck you were going to do. Which character were you going to read for? Sight-reading? Would they have you sight-read the music? That would suck literal dick, it had been years since you had done sight-reading on any professional level.

On the counter, your phone buzzes. One text from Danny Sexbang.

>i think im getting sick

You respond:

>i think you got me sick

He responds minutes later, when you’re changing into something comfortable to sleep in.

>cant believe you gave me cooties

>go to bed.

>you go to bed!

>youre not the boss of me

>am too.

>nope.

>falling asleep as we speak. goodnight!! stop by the grump space tomorrow for at least 5 minutes for a quickie

>youll get a kiss at the most and be thankful

 

“You want me to read for the lead?”

The director, at their place a few rows away from the stage, gives you a bemused smile.

“One of them, yes. Olive Ostrovsky. Is that a problem?”

“Nope!” You laugh a little nervously, script in hand. “Where should I go from?”

The director flips a few pages, and then says, “Page 32. Her short bit with Rona—I’ll read in for her.”

You nod, scanning it. Thankfully not too long, and you bounce on your feet a little. “May I start?”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

You take a deep breath, then turn, full-body, towards the audience, as if addressing it. “I’m thinking about, does flagellate have one ell or two—and also,” you start to speed up, as if to sound excited, “if you take the “w” of answer and the “h” in ghost and the extra “a” in aardvark and the “t” in listen, you could keep saying “what” but nobody would hear, ‘cause the whole word would be silent!”

“ ‘You still need to speak up, Miss Ostrovsky’,” the director says, a little monotone.

“Flagellate,” you say, stand up straight, and begin to spell with confidence. “F-L-A-G-E-L…” You trail off, as if unsure. “…L…” You drag out the silence, then quickly add, “A-T-E. Flagellate!”

“ ‘Very good’…” the director says. They are reading off the script, but it sounds much more like personal approval. “ ‘Very good on the volume. And correct.’ Now—who else is reading for Olive? Would you go get her?”

You step off stage left and go back to the dressing room, where everyone is crowded, being called on repeatedly for the director and producer to compare notes. You hear, faintly, another person read the same lines for Olive, and then separately a man and woman read the comfort counselor’s monologue. You watch two guys read the same parts for Barfee. In and out, in and out, everyone files. It feels almost too much like a spelling bee.

One of the people reading for the guidance counselor walks back in, looking confident. “They want you,” she points to you, “and you,” she points to one of the guys for Barfee, “out there, now. I think they’re starting to solidify the decision.”

You walk out onto the stage, script in your shaking hands.

“I want you two to read the Olive and Barfee dialogue on pages forty-four and forty-five,” the director says as soon as the two of you are downstage, closer to them. “(Y/N), you start.”

“Right.” You turn to the page, scan the dialogue quickly, clear your throat, and hesitantly turn to the man—who you just think of as Barfee, you don’t even know his name—onstage with you. “Sorry about that—William, right? I’m Olive.”

“Barfee" sniffs, nose turned up a little. “I know your name,” he says, sounding superior. “Look, I do not need pity from a person named after a vegetable.”

You frown, eyebrows furrowed a little. “It’s a fruit.”

“Well it’s a disgusting fruit, and I can’t keep them down,” he says quickly.

(this really is hurtful enough that she’ll give up and walk away)’ is written as a stage action, so you mutter, “Oh,” and turn away from him, starting to cross stage right.

Two steps later, from behind you, “Barfee" says, “I guess it’s okay for a name though.”

You turn back to him with a shy smile, and quickly take the two steps back to him. “Did you know that if you switch the first two vowels in “Olive” it becomes “I love”?”

“Barfee" pretends to think. “Did you know that if you switch the first two vowels in “William” it becomes “William”?” he offers, as if trying to relate to you.

You giggle, just slightly, and roll your eyes. “Yeah, but you can switch the next two—then it’s “will aim”.”

“Barfee" raises an eyebrow at you. “Are these really the kind of things you think about?”

“Um…” you trail off, glancing back down at your script just barely. “Yeah?”

“Okay.” Awkwardly, the two of you stand there, as if unsure of how to continue the conversation. “I’m more of a science guy myself.”

“Well, you’re also a really great speller,” you tell him—his character genuinely, and then walk off stage right. From behind you, “Barfee" scoffs and says the final line.

“ “Olive.” “I love.”—That’s so…” A sudden break of character. “Can I not say that word?”

“What would you say, instead?” the director asks, a smile in their voice. You turn back to watch the interaction.

“Just stupid,” he replies. “I’d just say stupid.”

The director nods. “Go ahead.”

“Barfee” clears his throat, and then repeats, “ “Olive.” “I love.”…” He pauses. “That’s so stupid.”

The director leans over and whispers to the producer. You and “Barfee” trade a quick nervous look, and then the director says, “You’re both free to go, if you want. We don’t have anything else for you to read.”

“No sight-reading?” you blurt out the question.

The director looks at you bemused. “No sight-reading.”

 

You’re moping in the driver’s seat of your car now.

It’s been half an hour since the call-back had finished, and you were absolutely, drop-dead sure that you didn’t get the part. You think back to the actual readings. You thought they had gone well, especially with how organic your read-through with “Barfee” had gone. But you weren’t asked to sing anything, which made you worry. Worry a lot. Worry to the point of being sure that you didn’t get the—

Your phone goes off. It’s an unknown number.

“Hello?” you answer.

(Y/N) (L/N)?” the director’s voice on the other end asks.

Your heart starts to hammer quickly. “Yep. Yes. Speaking.”

I just wanted to call personally to tell you—

You inhale sharply, closing your eyes.

“—that you got the part of Olive Ostrovsky.

You pause, unsure if you had heard them correctly. “Wait. What? Really?”

Yes, really.” The director sounds amused.

“I thought—…when you didn’t ask me to sight-read…”

Believe it or not, we actually record and listen back to the singing auditions.

You blush, extremely embarrassed. Of course. “Right. Um…thank you! Wow. I’m—excited!” Words start to spill out of your mouth faster than you can think about them. “When do rehearsals start?”

We’ll email out a schedule within the next week.”

“Great. Great!” You laugh, feeling a little lightheaded. “I look forward to starting rehearsals. Thank you!”

I look forward to working with you,” the director says. And then hangs up. No goodbyes, it seems.

You text Dan in all caps.

>HEY COMING OVER TO THE GRUMP’S SPACE RIGHT NOW WITH SOME GOOD NEWS.

You jam your keys into the ignition and turn them, your car sputtering to life. Excited, you laugh aloud to yourself, grip the steering wheel, and almost break the speed limit trying to get to the grump’s space.

When you pull into the parking lot twenty minutes later, you jump out, slam the car door behind you, and burst into the space without knocking.

Suzy looks up from her computer. “Hi (Y/N)!” she says with a bright smile.

“Hey! Hey Suze!” You’re bouncing on your feet. Ross glances up from his own multitude of screens with little recognition to you. That doesn’t deter you at all.

The door to the recording room suddenly flies open. “You got the part?!” Dan asks, wide-eyed and with a grin.

“I got the part!”

He laughs, rushing forward and sweeping you up in a large hug, lifting you full off the ground and spinning you around. “My girlfriend got the lead!”

You hear Suzy say, “Oh!” and Barry says, “Fuckin’ knew it!”

Dan sets you back on the ground, only for a brief moment, then steadies a hand on the square of your back and dips you, kissing you. Automatically, you wrap your arms around his neck to steady yourself, smiling against his lips…but the entire grump’s space goes dead silent.

My girlfriend got the lead seems to proverbially echo all around you.

Dan breaks the kiss pulls you back up with a muttered, “Oops.”

You realize that neither of you had actually told anyone about the casual dating thing. Or about any of it, really. None of the specifics—Suzy knew about the fighting but not how you guys made up. Or how much to an extent you guys had made up. Or the relationship, in any sense. Not to mention, you hadn’t told anyone else about it, and assumed Dan hadn’t either. The silence in the office only proves such.

Mortified, you bury your face in Dan’s shirt, and he wraps his arms around you. But you’re still grinning. You’re practically buzzing with excitement.

Barry repeats himself. “Fuckin’ knew it.”

“So are you guys Facebook official?” Ross asks, officially warranting his attention now.

“Shut up, Ross!” Dan says, but with good-nature. He’s rubbing circles in your back comfortingly.

Arin’s voice speaks up from inside the recording room. “Did they just—?”

“Totally!” Suzy shouts back.

“I can’t believe I fucking missed it!”

You peer out from Dan’s shirt to see Arin stumble into the room. He’s grinning, hair pulled back in a ponytail. “Do it again! Reenact it!”

“It was gross,” Ross mutters.

“Don’t be a baby,” Barry says, leaning back in his chair. “You’re just angry you lost in the betting pool.”

“The betting pool?” Dan repeats, sounding equally skeptical and disbelieving.

“For when you two would get together,” Ross fills in, trying to sound nonchalant. “If you guys could’ve just waited two more weeks—”

“Oh my god,” you mumble, your face burning. Dan still has his arms wrapped around you, pulled close to him.

“Can you guys, um,” Dan sounds a little nervous, and you feel his voice reverberating in his chest. “Keep quiet about this, though? Online?”

And there’s the unspoken fear. The fanbase. You feel nervousness bubble in your stomach.

“Of course we’ll keep quiet about it, dude,” Arin says, taking the few steps over to you to, and you lift your head from Dan’s shirt just in time to be crushed into a bear hug with Dan, via Arin.

Dan laughs. “Thanks Big Cat.”

As soon as Arin lets go, and you’re free from Dan’s original hug, you’re swept into another. Suzy laughs and rocks the two of you back and forth.

“This is so great! Holy shit! All of it!”

From over Suzy’s shoulder, you make eye-contact with Dan, who’s blushing. He grins at you, a little bashful, and giggles.

Chapter Text

You and Suzy record for the Q&A video after a homemade lunch the next day, and you throw it up on Youtube that Sunday.

 

“Hey hey hey!” you greet the camera, with a mix of a nervous and easygoing smile. You’re sitting on your couch with Suzy, camera set up a few feet away, with mic’s just out of the shot. “It’s me, uh, (Y/C/N), but you can just call me (Y/N). I said I would do a Q&A video, so…this is it!”

Next to you, Suzy says, “And I’m Suzy!”

You roll your eyes. “And she’s Suzy, my beautiful Vanna White assistant.”

“I helped pick out the questions,” Suzy tells the camera, almost whispering, as if you didn’t already know that.

“I haven’t really thought about the answers to many of these,” you say, “so I’ll just be answering a lot on the fly. More genuine. You’re welcome, internet-people-who-want-to-know-more-about-me.”

“Should we get started?” Suzy asks. She shifts just slightly and the piece of paper in her hand comes into view.

“Hell yeah! Hell yeah yeah yeah.”

“I actually just got some basic questions here,” she says, “to start us off. This is your first Q&A video, right?”

“Ye-hp.”

“Cool. So…who are you?”

You laugh, getting yourself a little more comfortable on your couch. “I’m (Y/N) (L/N).”

“And you’re from…?”

“Eastcoast, but now I’m Westcoast to boot.”

“How old are you?”

You guffaw. “Jesus. Do I have to answer this one?”

Suzy shrugs. “Inquiring minds want to know.”

“Are you the inquiring mind?”

“Me, and several hundred’s of thousands of hivemind inquiring minds want to know.”

You scoff. “Fine. I’m…ah…thirty-something. We’ll leave it at that.”

Suzy raises a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at you.

“Thirty-something!” you defend. “Take it or leave it.”

“Fine, fine, fine.” She scans the paper. “This is a legit question from a legit Twitter user—what’s your background in music?”

You think, for a moment. “I started playing piano at, like, seven or something,” you start. “And I started voice lessons at ten? I think? And it all just kind of snowballed from there. I did acting in high school and college—although I didn’t major in it. I’ve just been doing some community theater stuff since.”

Suzy nods. “You actually—do you wanna tell your audience the big news?”

“The big news?”

 

“Is that…what’s the big news?” you ask, feeling nervous.

Suzy laughs. “That you’re a lead in a musical, silly.”

“Oh! Oh, I thought you meant…” you trail off, trying to stamp down the nerves prickling your skin. You really are not enjoying being on camera right now, although Suzy is making it much more bearable. “…something else.”

“Could you mean…you and Dan?” she teases.

You scowl and look away, blushing. Suzy laughs harder.

 

“Oh! Oh, yeah the big news!” You turn to face the camera a little more. “News of the century! I got a sort of lead in a play, here in L.A.! I’m gonna be playing Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which…I dunno when that premiers, actually. I literally just found out yesterday.”

“We’re gonna take a grump-trip to go see it,” Suzy says.

“So you say.”

“Next question! You hang out with the Game Grumps a lot, it seems—yeah, you really do—how did you meet them?” Suzy beams at you.

You laugh, nervously.

 

“I don’t think I can say how I really met you guys. Or Dan, for that matter.” You scrub at your eyes with the heels of your palms. “Ugh. Fuck. Are there questions on there about relationship stuff?”

Suzy scans the piece of paper. “Yeah.”

“Ugh. Okay. Fine.” You grab your phone from nearby and send a quick text off to Dan. He’s recording right now, you think, and have no idea when he’ll get around to respond, but…

>so…doing q&a vid, how much am i allowed to say about “us”

“Just say Dan found you on Youtube,” Suzy says, picking up on the low level waves of panic starting to come off you. “You two can always retcon it later.”

“Fine, fine.” You compose yourself for the camera again.

 

“Dan, um, Dan was the first one I met. The first Grump.” You laugh. “He found my Youtube channel, and suddenly I seemed to skyrocket overnight. Not to the same level of fame that you guys are, but…I mean, I’m doing a Q&A video, aren’t I?”

“You literally just showed up to the grump’s space at midnight once,” Suzy adds, as if you would forget that part of the story.

“Well, yeah. Essentially Dan offered to let me use the grump’s recording equipment, and only a dummy would turn that down.”

“And now we’re all besties?”

You laugh, a little more at ease. “Sure, Suzy. We’re totally besties.”

Suzy grins and looks back down at the paper. “What did you do before you moved to the Westcoast?”

“Oh, jeez. Just about everything, I supposed. I owned a handy-man shop with my friend Luke for the longest time…I’m good with my hands, if you know what I mean.” You wink at the camera. “But forreals. I do that now, too, as my official job. I also bartend. Which—fuck, I got off topic. Before here, before here. So my friend moved away to pursue his dreams and, uh…I thought why not do the same?” You shrug. “And now I’m here.”

“For covers, do you do all your own music?”

You nod. “Yeah, I mean…I simplify it a bunch, honestly, which is how I get away with it. I probably rely too heavily on my piano and some GarageBand quirks.”

“What’s your—this is my own question, sorry—but what’s your process like?”

“Umm…” You fidget a little in your seat. “I just…choose a song? Usually something I enjoy in that moment? And then put chords into the piano, fiddle around with it, see what I can do…like it can’t be carbon copy, it’s a cover for a reason. So then I have the instrumental track ready…and head on over to the grump’s space and record for a few hours.”

Suzy nods. “That’s like, really cool.”

You laugh nervously. “I guess if you want to call it cool, go for it.”

“Back to Twitter—how many instruments do you play?”

You puff out some air. “Jesus. I dunno. Many?” You start to count on your fingers. “Piano, singing—that’s an instrument, I’m counting it, don’t fight me on this one—guitar…although mine is severely out of tune and old and I kind of refuse to touch it right now out of pure fear of breaking it. Um…what else? Violin, technically, although I don’t own one so I haven’t touched one in years. Saxophone, I did that for a little bit. Kazoo? Yeah.”

 

The two of you go back and forth with a few more questions, until…

 

“If you—oh, I love this one—if you had to choose one dance move for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

You think. “Uh…fuck. Can I say the electric slide? I’m just gonna go with the electric slide.”

“Speaking of which—you said you had to dance in your audition, right?”

You narrow your eyes. “Dan told you that.”

Suzy grins at you, mischievous. “Yep.”

You scowl. “Yes, I did dance at the audition.”

“What did you—what did you dance?”

You sigh, running a hand through your hair. “Well…fuck, now I gotta describe my audition song.” You lean back in the couch a little. Suzy looks eager. “My audition song is meta as hell. It’s called Dance: Ten; Looks: Three…from a show called Chorus Line? But…most people know the song as Tits and Ass.”

Suzy, for lack of a better word, cackles, hiding it behind one of her hands. You smile, too, and laugh a little. “Tits and Ass?” she repeats.

“It—it goes a little something like…” You clear your throat. “Hold on, I’m about to do some impromptu singing.” You take a deep breath, close your eyes, and when you open them you start the dialogue before it. “But after awhile I caught on—I mean I saw what they were hiring. I also swiped my dance card once after an audition, and on a scale of ten they gave me…For dance: ten. For looks? Three. Well!”

And then the singing starts.

Dance ten, looks three. And I’m still on unemployment, dancing for my own enjoyment. That ain’t it kid, that ain’t it kid. Dance ten, looks three is like to die. Left the theater and called the doctor for my appointment to buy…Tits and ass! Bought myself a fancy pair, tightened up the derriere. Did the nose with it, all that goes with it! Tits and ass. Had the bingo-bongos done. Suddenly I’m getting national tours! Tits and ass won’t get you jobs…unless they’re yoooours.”

Suzy laughs, louder than before, completely entertained. “Holy fuck!”

“So that’s a little sneak preview to…when I will never cover that song, ever, probably. But there’s dancing with it that I do and…yeah. Like I said, super meta.”

 

You pause to grab bottle of water and chug some of it. Your phone is still silent on your lap, Dan having not replied. While you take a little break, Suzy looks mischievous and texts someone from her own phone.

“What are you up to?” you ask, skeptical.

She finishes her text and sets down her phone, looking triumphant. “Nothing,” she declares. “Just had an idea.”

“Uh-huh.” You’re unconvinced. “Okay, let’s start this bad boy up again.”

 

“That was so good. I feel so honored,” Suzy gushes a little, still smiling. “Okay! Um…well, the next question was asking for you to sing so…guess we knocked that one out. Eh…oh!” She looks up at you. “What’s your relationship status?”

Again, you groan.

 

“He hasn’t texted back yet, Suzy,” you tell her, as if she doesn’t know. “Hell, I hardly know my relationship status.”

Suzy cocks her head to the side slightly. “I thought you two were dating?”

You shrug. “Yeah, but like…it’s still the first few weeks. Anything could happen, y’know?”

“I think you’re overthinking it.”

You chew your bottom lip nervously. “I suppose, yes. Maybe. I—fuck.” You take another long sip of water. “I just—fuck, let’s just start this up again.”

You compose yourself.

 

Suzy giggles. “It’s a hot topic question!”

“Is it?”

“People wanna know!”

“Fine, fine. That’s…that’s for me to know, and you to maybe find out.” Again, you wink at the camera. Suzy laughs.

“I think that’s it. Those are some basics, thanks for sending them in folks. Thanks to—Suzy slash Mortemer for collecting these for me, and thanks for watching. I promise I’ll be back singing soon.”

“Bye internet!” Suzy waves.

“Bye internet!”

 

“I think you did well!” Suzy says, following you into your kitchen. “Really, really well.”

“I don’t need an ego boost,” you reply, pouring yourself some more water. “I know I’m terrible on camera.”

Suzy tsks. “Why do you say that?”

You look at her over the rim of your glass as you take a large drink. “Because it’s true?”

“You act!”

“On stage,” you point out. “It’s different, on camera. Different mediums. I never know how people will react to me on camera, but on stage…instant response.”

Suzy nods, leaning against your counter on her hip. “I see, I see.” There’s a pause, brief silence, and then she asks, “So…you and Dan?”

You narrow your eyes at her. “Me and Dan.”

“Relationship?”

“You gotta elaborate, Suzy,” you say, teasingly, trying to brush it off. “You can’t just one-word me.”

She sighs, a well meaning smile on her face. “He called you his girlfriend literally yesterday, and you’re here, now, telling me it’s not a real relationship?”

You mirror her posture, leaning against the counter, and drum your fingers on the countertop. “He did call me that, didn’t he,” you say, thinking aloud, a smile worming its way onto your face. “I just…ah, I dunno. What if he—what if I give him a bad rap? And he’s—if he doesn’t like that, gets fed up with handling it…” You’re stumbling over your words, as per usual when you get nervous and try to express your worries. The more you say, the more panic washes off you in waves. “I don’t wanna hold him back. Or ruin any persona he has going—I don’t…”

“You’re worried about the fans,” Suzy concludes, reading you like an open book.

Mutely, you nod. You take another drink of water, trying to stem any possibility of an oncoming panic attack.

“Have you guys talked about it?”

You shake your head.

“You probably…scratch that, definitely should.”

“I mean to!” you say quickly. “I’ve been meaning to, we’ve just been super busy—well, him more than me—but still!”

“But still.” Suzy quirks an eyebrow at you.

“Ugh.” You set the water down on the counter. “I know.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about any of us spilling those beans,” Suzy reassures you, walking up to you and wrapping an arm around your shoulder and pulling you to the living room. “And don’t worry, we have editors on our videos for a reason. And hey! You’re like, forty-five percent grump now, and our fans are pretty great.”

“I guess,” you say, a little absently.

“Come on, I wanna beat your ass at Mario Kart.”

“Oh, you are so fucking on!”

Chapter Text

You should stay at my place tonight.

You’re on the phone with Dan. It was Wednesday, now, a full five days since you had last seen him. The two of you had finally managed to sync up your schedules so you could record in the grump’s space.

“Should I?” you ask, a little cheeky.

On the other end, Dan laughs. “Yeah, you should. I wanna spend as much time with you as possible before going up to Seattle this weekend. So, unless you’re taking up my offer for you to come with…?

He and Arin had a Game Grump’s live show, and via text, Dan had bugged you consistently about going with them. Said it would be fun. You had to bartend, though, and run the open mic. Weekend gigs that kept you afloat.

“Like a sleepover? We can paint each other’s nails,” you tease.

C’monnnn, don’t do this to me. Stay the night, please? I live close to the grump’s space, you wouldn’t have to drive all the way back to your apartment…”

“Wow, you drive a hard bargain, Avidan,” you giggle. “Yes, of course I’ll stay the night, you dummy.”

Great! Great great great. So I’ll see you around…fuck, eleven p.m., we said?”

“Twenty-three hundred hours,” you confirm.

That’s late as balls.

“Late as dicks.”

I might fall asleep on you.

“I can—” you clear your throat, feeling a little nervous, “I can record in the space on my own, if you’re tired. And just drive to your place when I’m done.”

But then I won’t get to see as much of you!” You can practically hear the pout in his voice. “I’ll be there, I promise. I just might doze off, once or twice…or twenty times.

“Dan, I’m serious. Don’t overdo it.”

I’m not!

“You are!”

You’re the one with two jobs, rehearsals, a growing Youtube channel and fanbase…

“Don’t try to turn the tables on me,” you threaten. “I’ll see you at 11.”

Mmmmmmmkay. Yep! Bye, babe.

You purse your lips to hide your smile at the pet name. “Bye.”

You hang up and smile down at your phone in your hands. It was crazy that just talking to him made you this happy. And actually being around him? You hadn’t felt that happy in so long, having spent so much time only getting by. Now? Actual happiness? It seemed like such a foreign concept to you.

The fans though. The fans are kind of worrying you. The internet is infamous for tearing people apart, and you honestly don’t know how you would react if a fan base decided to hone its efforts into destroying you.

Stamping down any more nervous thoughts, you text Suzy.

>is dan at the grump’s space rn/is the recording room open?

You busy yourself with sorting laundry that should be getting done sooner rather than later, until her reply comes in five or so minutes later.

>no he’s not in the space, recording room will be open in half an hour. why?

You send off your reply before starting to pack your stuff for an overnight at Dan’s.

>will be by in 45mins with bagels, peace offering for me using the recording room on such short notice?

 

When you knock on the door to the grump’s space, Barry is the one who answers.

His eyebrows raise a little, surprised. “Hey, (Y/N).”

“Hi Barry.”

He shifts around on his feet a little, apparently caught off-guard by your arrival. “Dan isn’t here right now. I thought you two were—?”

“I brought bagels!” You say quickly, holding up a large Panera bag. Barry smiles a little, laughing just slightly. “I’m gonna, um, use the recording room, for like an hour or so, if that’s okay.”

“Sure, sure.” He steps aside, letting you in. You go straight for the kitchenette, dropping the bag there, and Arin turns from his computer monitor, sees the bagels, and moans, “Fuuuuck yeah.”

“Recording room’s open!” Suzy says, a little loudly, without taking off her headphones. “I’m using it next, so feel free to spend as much time in there as needed. I’m flexible.”

You shake your head. “I’ll try not to take too long,” you tell her. Hoisting your bag over your shoulder, you go straight for the recording room. Barry trails behind you, though.

“Do you…need help setting up? Or anything?” he asks, standing in the doorway, as you unpack your computer and a few spare wires.

“I think I got it. Thanks, though.”

Another beat of silence, just a tad uncomfortable, enough that you’re starting to get nervous, when Barry says, “You’re staying the night, right? At…ours?”

You turn to him, and nod. “Um…yeah. Is that…that’s not a problem, right?” You shuffle your feet, more nervous now. Had Dan cleared it with Barry beforehand? Did Barry not want you there? This was a new dynamic, a roommate, someone who you considered an acquaintance but maybe not quite a friend, yet—

But Barry just laughs, and the tension eases off you at the sound of it. “No, no, it’s not a problem,” he reassures you. “I’m just trying to remember the last time we cleaned. Oh, and the bathroom sink is a little leaky.”

You laugh, too. “I can fix that, if you guys want.”

Barry waves you off. “No bother. I’ll let you get to recording—uh, should I tell Dan that you’re here?”

You shrug. “Doesn’t matter to me.”

Barry nods. “Cool. Okay, I’ll stop bugging you!”

On that note, he steps out and closes the door behind him. You stand there for another moment, just looking around. You had never been in the grump’s recording space alone before…and yet here you were.

Getting to work, you open your laptop and open the instrumental files on GarageBand.

 

Unbeknownst to you, a certain episode of Mario Maker gets uploaded that afternoon.

“AW FUCK C’MON! I WAS SO FUCKING CLOSE!

Dan giggles, muffled just slightly, and Arin laughs too. It’s more frustrated than anything. The two of them calm down, and then Dan leans forward to his mic.

“Dude, I think we gotta do this…”

“Don’t you dare say it, asshole.”

“Next time on Game Grumps!”

“FUCK!”

The two erupt into laughter again, and the screen blinks and transitions to the end screen.

Arin grumbles into the mic, “Goddamn level, fucking taking years off my life, motherfuckin’…”

“Hey guys,” a new voice pops in, distanced. “Lunch is here.”

“(Y/N)!” Dan exclaims, surprised and ecstatic, and the mic gets knocked away as he, assumingely, jumps out of his seat on the couch. “I missed you so much!” His voice is distanced now, too.

Your laughter is also heard, and then you say, “You saw me, like, two days ago.”

Much closer to his mic, Arin laughs. He leans forward to whisper into it, “Danny and (Y/N) sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N…”

“Doesn’t matter!” Dan giggles.

“You are the bearer of, like, the best news,” Arin says, and his voice also becomes distanced as he stands up. “I am in need of a motherfucking break.”

“Tough level?” you ask.

“Don’t even get me started,” Arin warns. His loud footsteps are heard, getting fainter and fainter as he walks away. There’s another beat of silence, and then…

“Dan.”

Extremely muffled, “Yeah?”

“Let go of me.” You don’t sound annoyed at all.

The quietest of giggles.

“You’re messing up my look!”

And then the video ends.

 

Ninety minutes later, you’re sprawled out on the grump couch, listening to a particular track for the billionth time to see if you had to rerecord it, when someone knocks on the door.

“Come in!” you call, muting your computer. You expect it to be Suzy, or Arin, telling you they need to use the recording space.

The door creaks open, and Dan peers in.

“You started without me,” he says, sounding a little perturbed, but mostly tired. He opens the door all the way, steps in, closes it behind him.

“I almost finished without you, too,” you tell him, sitting up on the couch so he can slump next to you. You set your laptop down at your feet, and pull him into your arms, into your chest. Together, the two of you lay back across the couch, limbs mixing as the two of you cram yourselves into the space.

“Did I do something wrong?” he mutters into your shirt.

“What?” You laugh, but only because it’s so absurd. “Of course not. Why would you think that?” You carefully angle your head in a way so that Dan’s bushy hair won’t get in your mouth.

“Started without me,” he mumbles.

“Yeah, because you shouldn’t be staying up late just to watch me record,” you reply. “You could be doing much better things. Like sleeping. And cuddling with me.”

Unintelligible, Dan continues his streak of mumbling into your shirt.

“I can’t hear you.”

“Sorry. Um…yeah. I’m tired…you’re right. You aren’t mad at me?” He raises his head from your chest to look directly at you.

“I’m letting you smother me like an octopus would, aren’t I?” you tease. Dan smiles, giggles, and pushes himself up into a sitting position, somehow managing to drag you up to so you’re straddling his lap.

“Sorry,” he says, again, then yawns. “I get…yeah…when I’m tired.”

“Stop saying sorry.”

“Sorr—” he cuts himself off, giggling. His large hands are wrapped around your hips, resting there, extremely warm. You drape your arms around his shoulders, fiddling with his hair a little. “Wanna come back to mine, then?”

“A little forward, don’t you think?” you continue to tease. Before Dan can respond, you lean down and kiss him. He smiles against your lips, and the two of you kiss lazily for a moment. When you pull back, you say, “Give me…half an hour to make sure everything is in order.”

 

After another half an hour, the two of you head out of the grump’s space. Dan climbs into the passenger seat of your car, and you coax the engine to life.

“Your car is still as beat up as I remember it,” he says.

The memories spill into your mind as soon as you realize what he’s said; him driving drunk you home, you driving him home the next day.

“Jesus. That was long ago,” you laugh, and your car sputters and purrs softly. “Fuck. How long ago did we meet?” You ease your foot onto the gas, carefully, and pull out of the parking lot.

“Few months. Two? Three? Uh—turn right here.”

You flip on your right turn signal. As it clicks on, your windshield wipers go. Dan giggles. “Haunted, right?”

You laugh. “Oh, totally. Every time I use the right turn signal.”

“Also no offense,” he continues, looking over his shoulder to the backseat, “but your car is a fucking mess.”

You scowl, still smiling. “Shut up! I keep tools in here.”

He giggles again. “Turn—turn left, up here.”

“Should’ve just put your address into the GPS,” you mutter under your breath, swerving into the left lane. “Anyway, two months?”

“I think so?”

“That’s…that’s really not long ago.”

You ease your car to a stop at a red light. You are resting a hand on the gear shift, ready to jostle it in case your car decides to give up on you, but you jump slightly when you feel something warm settle on top of it. You glance to your right—and there is Dan smiling at you, eyes wrinkling at the corners, a halo of light around him from the evening sun.

Something pangs, deep in your chest. You smile back, feeling more than slightly lovestruck.

“Light’s green,” Dan says, suddenly.

“Fuck!” You unintentionally slam your foot on the gas, and the two of you jolt forward and back as you then hit the brakes. Your hand has flown from the gear shift to the steering wheel. Embarrassed, you then cruise at a decent speed. Dan just laughs next to you.

 

“This is a pretty nice place,” you comment, stepping over the threshold of Dan’s (and Barry’s) house. You have a duffle bag slung over your shoulder with overnight necessities; nothing shy of a sleepover, it seems.

Dan closes the door behind him after stepping in after you. “Definitely nothing to sneeze at,” he says. “Lemme show you around!”

There is not too much to see: the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, Barry’s room (seen only from the outside), and then…

“Your bed is fucking huge.”

Behind you, Dan giggles. “Yeah, I know.” You hear him take two steps, and then his hands are on your waist, gentle and warm. “You wanna try it out?” He asks quietly, right in your ear.

You stifle a laugh, pressing yourself back against him. “Aren’t you worried about Barry getting home soon?” you ask, eyeing the bed. It does look extremely comfortable.

“Nah.” Dan’s breath is hot against your ear. “Won’t be home for awhile.”

“Well then I don’t see why—”

Suddenly, Dan crouches down and wraps his arms around your middle, hoisting you off the ground with a loud laugh. Much more strength to his pipe-cleaner arms than you had anticipated. You shriek in surprise.

Put me down!”

With more laughter, smothered into the back of your shirt, he all but throws you onto the bed, face-first. With a huff, you scramble around onto your back, and then Dan crawls onto the bed with you. Muttering, “You’re the worst,” you pull him into a kiss.

 

The sun had set by the time you wake up again, and your jaw splits in a wide yawn as you roll over. You squint your eyes at the bedside clock, and see the numbers 1:32am staring back at you. Next to you, Dan is breathing deeply, curled on his side away from you.

You sit up, rubbing your eyes. The sheets pool around your waist, and you wrap your arms around yourself, a little cold, trying to prevent any goosebumps. From the moonbeams filtering through one of the windows, you can see Dan more clearly. Fast asleep, he looks ethereal. Wild curls spread out over his pillow, face relaxed, the slightest of smiles on his face.

Something pangs, deep in your chest. Again, lovestruck.

…And then your stomach growls loudly.

You press your hand to it, as if that would somehow muffle the sound. Luckily, Dan doesn’t wake up. You realize you never ate any dinner, and (with another loud rumble from your stomach, thanks for that) decide that its now or never to eat. You climb out of the bed, find your discarded clothes tossed off to the side, and kick them into a pile. With little thought going into it, you pick up Dan’s shirt and put it on. It’s much too large for you, finally ending mid-thigh. You put on your underwear, forego your jeans, and pad barefoot out of the room.

You sneak past Barry’s room in hopes not to wake him, and go straight for the bathroom. Closing the door as quietly as possible behind you, you flip on the lights and blink several times to adjust your eyes. Then, staring back at you in the mirror…is yourself.

Typically, you do the usual mirror routine. Smile, frown, make a few faces, make sure there isn’t anything in your teeth. You try to make your hair just a touch neater—for no reason, really, it’s one thirty in the fucking morning—but fail to tame it. Then you stare at yourself.

You had never found yourself beautiful, nothing extraordinary, nothing too pretty. Yet here you were, overnight at your boyfriend’s house. Your giggly, gangly, stupid, dick-joke-making, beautiful singer and internet phenomena of a boyfriend.

Internet phenomena.

Your stomach plummets, and thoughts start to swarm your mind. Like wasps. Not good enough, not good enough, he’s going to drop you the second it goes public, too good to last, too good to—

You turn on the sink and splash your face with cold water, coming up feeling more awake and a shiver tickling its way down your spine. Jamming the faucets back, you stare at yourself again in the mirror. They’ll hate you, a coherent voice whispers, deep in your mind. The fans will fucking hate—

Drip…drip…drip…

Right. The sink was leaky. You try to jam the faucets back a few more times in an attempt to stop it, but it won’t budge.

Sleep, you realize, isn’t going to happen again any time soon. Not with these thoughts.

So you sneak out to your car and grab your toolkit.  

Chapter Text

Crammed under their sink gives you an oxymoronic large thinking space. As your brain works your hands unconsciously, tinkering around and getting a feeling for all possible sources of the problem, all your thoughts seem to float freely to the surface for you to sift through.

Not good enough.

Maybe you weren’t. Maybe you weren’t good enough for Dan; endlessly sweet and forgiving Dan. Did you deserve someone who was both so loving and dealt with your emotional baggage? Your panic attacks? Your anxiety? Your past? Your trust issues—

Trust issues. Was this where this was stemming from?

He’s gonna drop you the second it goes public.

He’s not using me, you tell yourself, your hands still working idly, inspecting a pipe closely. He has nothing to gain by being with you—no fame, no fortune, no name recognition. The roles were so, so reversed.

The thought good sex suddenly rockets through your mind, and for a brief moment, oh god, you really believe it. That he’s only in it for the sex. That is his internet persona, that is his—

You guys had been friends for a month before anything like that happened though. Drunk make-out in the alley aside. But he stayed to make sure you were okay—to get his shirt from your wash—he made you breakfast. Gave you his number. Insisted on letting you use the grump’s space to record. Let you somewhat piggyback off his fame. And he didn’t seem to mind.

What does he want in return for that?

That…you didn’t know.

He’s gonna drop you the second it goes public.

Oh god, oh god, the fans. Fans you had inherited from Game Grumps. Would they turn on you if they found out? Would they think you were encroaching on his fame? That would be the end of you, the end of your career, the end of your dreams…

With a slow crawling squeak, the bathroom door opens. You forget you’re under the sink and try to look up…and bang your head on one of the pipes above you.

“Fucking Christ!” you exclaim, and carefully remove yourself so you can sit up and rub the offending spot on your forehead. “Jesus, fuck…oh. Hi Barry.”

Blinking a few times, Barry looks down at you. “Hey, (Y/N),” he says, voice still heavy with sleep. “I don’t mean to, um, intrude, but, what are you…”

“Fixing your leaky sink,” you tell him. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh.” He shuffles his weight from foot to foot, rubbing one of his eyes. “Any reason why you can’t sleep, or…?”

Your stomach shifts a little nervously. Do you tell the truth? Would Barry understand? Should you talk to Barry about it, should you keep it under wraps, should you…

“I dunno. Just thoughts and such. One of those nights,” you say.

He nods. “One of those nights, yeah.”

The two of you just kind of look at each other, and then you realize… “Oh! I wasn’t too loud, was I? Did I wake you up?”

Barry chuckles. “No, don’t worry about it. You didn’t. Just gotta take a piss.”

You nod, and scramble to your feet. “Yeah, of course, let me get out of your way.”

A little embarrassed, you stand outside the bathroom as Barry closes the door. You tap your feet to an indiscernible beat, bobbing your head. Realize you’re still only in your panties and Dan’s oversized shirt, and self-consciously smooth it down in an attempt to cover as much leg as possible. It doesn’t really work.

The door opens, Barry lumbers past you with a mumbled, “All yours,” and back into his room, closing the door.

Still feeling embarrassed, you go back into the bathroom to finish your work, forehead still throbbing slightly.

A moment later, when you are turning the sink on and off, testing to see if you have fixed the leak, someone clears their throat. You look to the doorway and there stands Dan, only where pajama bottoms and looking at you sleepily.

“Hey,” he says.

“Hey,” you reply, feeling a little lame.

“What are you doing?”

“Um…” You glance down at your toolkit, its contents splayed across the bathroom tile floor. “Fixing your sink.”

“It’s almost three a.m.”

“Oh.” You hadn’t realized that much time had passed. An hour and a half? Had you really been mindlessly thinking for that long? “I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

Dan shakes his head, his curls just bouncing slightly. “Barry did. He said, ah…” He trails off, looking distant, then takes a step farther into the bathroom and closes the door behind him. “He said, ‘your girlfriend is awake and fixing our sink, please put her to bed’.”

You laugh and turn to him fully now, and Dan continues to step closer to you, until he is standing right in front of you and rubbing his hands over your shoulders and upper-arms, comfortingly. You feel guilty and look down at the bathroom tile. “Barry said I didn’t wake him up,” you say, as if that changes anything.

Dan chuckles, and leans down and kisses your forehead. You close your eyes, and feel a wave of exhaustion sweep over you. Your entire body feels heavy, like your soul is suddenly weighing you down.

“He was probably lying,” Dan says, lips still against your forehead. When he pulls back, he asks, “Why are you fixing our sink at three a.m.?”

You struggle to find the right words. “Couldn’t sleep,” is the only thing you manage to say.

“Why?”

You shrug. Dan is looking down at you now, but you can’t meet his gaze. You stare at your feet. Why is he doing this? Why is he doing any of this? More thoughts swarm your head. You feel foggy. You feel the weight of Dan’s hands on your shoulders and the weight of your soul and the weight of your thoughts, baring down on you, heavy. Right now, in the bathroom with Dan, there is no escape. There is no escape from your thoughts. There is no escape from him.

“Are you, um…” You stop, and roll the words around in your mouth for a brief moment, deciding what to say, and finally break out with, “So what about the fans?”

“Huh?” Dan sounds perplexed.

“The fans,” you repeat, taking a step back to look up at him without hurting your neck too much, and his hands drop from your shoulders. “I know we’re…like…dating? And such? But how do they…factor in. Should they kn—when should they…”

Dan runs a hand over his hair, still looking tired. “Jesus, (Y/N), are we gonna have this conversation right now?”

That’s not…the answer you wanted to hear, at all.

“You asked why I was awake,” you say, weakly.

“Okay, um…let’s sit down, then.”

You’re glad he suggested it, because your knees all but collapse out from under you. Shakily, you manage to sit on the floor, crossing your legs. Dan mirrors you.

“Right. Okay. The fans. Um…” He looks at a loss of what to say. “They…don’t know, yeah. I, um, kind of want to keep this on the down-low for awhile.”

Your stomach drops.

“Not because I don’t like you or anything,” he quickly rectifies. “I like you—a lot, (Y/N). Jesus. I like you…too much. I mean—you’re fucking fixing my leaky bathroom sink at three a.m., how can I not.” He laughs to himself a little, curling his knees up to his chin and using them as a chin-rest. “The fans are just…tricky.”

You nod, unable to speak. Your emotions are going through a whirlwind. You try to keep yourself grounded.

“I…they’re nice, I mean, I don’t think they would hate you. Or dislike you, in any sense. Some of them are your fans too, y’know?” He pauses. “But there’s always…hate that comes with it, people that won’t like you, I just…” Again, he laughs, more to himself than anything. “This is complicated. Fuck. Um…do you wanna say something?” He shifts a little nervously.

“Um…sure.” You aren’t quite sure what to say. You’re struggling to keep a reign on your emotions, to make sure they don’t go too haywire. The last thing you want is a panic attack, in front of Dan, talking about this. “I, uh…just…don’t want it to be…a secret…because you’re…ashamed of me?” You form the sentence slowly. “Yeah.”

Dan laughs, loudly, the sound booming and at a volume that would definitely wake Barry up. “What?” he says with a smile, letting his knees drop and crawling forward to get closer to you. “Holy shit, that couldn’t be further form the truth.”

You exhale, loudly. Let out the breath you didn’t know had built up in your lungs.

He sits on his bony knees and takes your hands in his. “(Y/N),” he says. “Look at me.”

You drag your eyes up from their fixed place on the bathroom tile to look at him. Every part of him screams trustworthiness and affection and—

And love.

Nope, not going there right now.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he repeats, maintaining eye-contact with you.

You blush and look away.

“I just want to make sure this is…that we’re in this for the long haul before anyone other than our friends find out,” Dan continues, still holding your hands in his. “I worry about…their—the fan’s—reactions to you, I don’t want you getting the…unnecessary hate without you being, like, really ready to stick it out? Yeah.”

The words sink in, and you guffaw, looking back up at him. “What?” you ask. “You’re worried about me leaving?”

Dan pouts a little, and now it’s his turn to look away. “I mean, yeah. Like, I don’t mean to…toot my own horn, or anything, but we have a lot of fans, and I…like, if…when we go public, I just don’t want you…regretting it, y’know?”

“Holy shit.” Your head is swimming. He’s worried about you leaving? You squeeze his hands. “I’m not—Dan, holy shit, I’m not going anywhere any time soon. The fans don’t affect the validity of our relationship.”

“I know that, but—”

“I was worried about you jumping ship.”

Dan snorts. “What?”

“Isn’t your entire persona based off, like, sex appeal? Wouldn’t having a girlfriend put a real damper on—”

“If anything I’d just put you in one of the NSP videos.”

You laugh, and pry one of your hands out of his grip to cover your mouth to muffle the sound. “Christ. Oh my god.”

“I’m serious!” Dan’s smiling at you now. “I’m really…” He giggles.

For a moment, it’s just the two of you sitting on his bathroom floor, trying to quiet your laughter, with various tools surrounding you. When you finally manage to quiet down, you squeeze his hand again. “Thank you,” you tell him. “I…yeah. Was really worried about this whole thing.”

“The fans?”

“Yeah.”

“We’re…on the same page though, right?” You nod, but he continues. “Like…we’re both nervous wrecks about commitment and want to make sure this is bonafide before making anything really, truly public?”

“Yeah.”

“And it’s not because I’m ashamed of you, or don’t want to be seen with you, or anything, because (Y/N), that is so far from the truth, I swear—”

“Dan?” you cut him off before he starts rambling. Dan shrinks a little, back hunched, and he grins at you bashfully. “We’re on the same page.”

“Great.”

As if on cue, your stomach growls loudly.

Dan giggles, and you groan. “Hungry?” he asks.

“I totally forgot about…” Your stomach makes another loud noise. “I was so busy working on your sink.”

“You want some grilled cheese? I make a mean grilled cheese,” Dan offers.

You nod, smiling.

Chapter Text

it was New Orleans before the flood
you had just met a girl! You were falling in love!
she lived on the levee and knew the blues
and played the harmonica better than you
(Out of Pawn, Anaïs Mitchell)

...

 

Dan’s alarm goes off at 6:30am. Immediately, he hits the snooze button and rolls over to you, engulfing you in body heat as he wraps himself around you.

“Five more minutes,” he mumbles into your hair.

“Five more minutes,” you agree sleepily.

The two of you had gone back to bed close to 4:30am, after making grilled cheese as quietly as possible to not wake Barry up. It involved a lot of giggling, a lot of crowded space, and a lot of reminders to keep an eye on the stove. By the time you actually got around to eating, you were practically falling asleep with the food in your mouth. When you finally got back to bed, you were asleep even before your head hit the pillow.

Five minutes later, Dan’s alarm goes off again.

“Five more minutes,” you mumble.

Dan chuckles, and much to your dismay, starts to sit up. You stay horizontal as he turns off his alarm. Then you feel him poke your cheek. “Good morning, starshine,” he says softly. “The Earth says hello.”

You grumble and roll over, burying your face in one of the pillows.

Dan giggles. “Not a morning person?”

You mumble into the pillow.

“Want me to make you breakfast?”

Again, you mumble into the pillow.

“(Y/N)…” he says in a sing-song voice.

You lift your head from the pillow. “Fine. Yes, I want you to make me breakfast. And I want your strongest coffee possible.”

A few minutes later, you sit on the counter of Dan’s kitchen as he begins to make pancakes.

“I bought Bisquick,” he tells you, “specifically because you were coming over.”

You break into a large yawn as soon as you start to talk, so your response of, “So sweet,” is mostly lost. Dan smiles anyway. The bags under his eyes are more prominent than before, and you suddenly feel bad for keeping him up last night. He had a 9:30am flight, what were you thinking? Even if you two had talked it out, you could have saved it for a more convenient time, preferably in the daylight hours—

“What’s up?” Dan’s voice breaks you out of your thoughts.

“Huh?”

“You’re thinking too loudly,” he tells you, flipping a pancake skillfully. You wonder if he’s been practicing. “So what’s up?”

“Oh.” You kick your feet through the air for a moment. “Just feel bad for keeping you up last night. Could’ve saved the conversation for the daytimes.”

Dan shakes his head. The pancake sizzles in the pan, and you breathe in the smell of it. Beautiful. “I’m glad we did,” he says. “Have that conversation. It was…worrying me too.”

“You look so tired, though,” you say.

“It’s f—”

“Dan,” you say softly, and he turns his head to you. You reach forward and cup his face with your hand, and he leans into it, eyes closing. His cheek feels scratchy with stubble. “Please take it easy.”

“I’ll sleep on the plane,” he promises, opening his eyes and taking your hand from his face and into his.

“Promise?”

“Promise,” he says, kissing your knuckles. You can’t help the smile that spreads on your face. “And promise you’ll nap when you get home, too?”

“You don’t even have to try and convince me.”

Dan laughs and flips the pancake again, making sure its evenly cooked. A few minutes later, the two of you sit on the floor of his living room with pancakes on plates and silently eating.

“Are you sure you don’t wanna come with?” Dan asks around a mouthful. “I’m sure we could get you a seat on the plane.”

You shake your head. “I can’t. I have rehearsals, and bartending, and actual work, remember?”

Dan whines a little, nudging you with one of his feet. “I just like spending time with you,” he justifies. “I want you to come and have fun with us.”

“Don’t you think the fans would get suspicious?” you muse.

He ponders this for a minute. “We’re just friends,” he says. “Friends with awesome benefits. Friends with sexy, awesome, cuddly benefits.”

You giggle.

 

You drop him off at Arin’s house nearby instead of driving him all the way to the airport so you can have the privacy of kissing him goodbye. Dan hangs onto you until the very last minute of getting in Arin’s car so Suzy can drive them, gives you a million goodbye kisses claiming, “This is the last one, really!” You stand on their front steps and wave goodbye until the car is out of sight, then get into your car and drive back to your apartment.

Immediately you collapse into bed and sleep a few extra hours.

When you wake up again its just past noon. You have a text from Dan saying he’s successfully gotten to the airport and boarded the plane, and you send back good wishes for both him and Arin. You mull around your apartment for a little bit, check some messages, then get dressed in clothes you can get dirty in and decide to do some work. As per usual, there’s a plumbing issue a few floors below you.

After spending a few hours fishing a flip phone (seriously, who still has flip phones?) from the pipes of the person’s toilet, you go to rehearsal.

“Is this going to be audience interactive?” you ask the director after vocal warm ups. This rehearsal is just you and the man who plays Barfee working with the director.

They nod. “Of course. It wouldn’t be Spelling Bee without it.”

You nod. “Great, great.”

“I want to work on the final song with you two today,” the director says. “Specifically the dancing portion.”

You feel your stomach drop.

 

Suzy ropes you into an Overwatch match over the weekend.

You play Tracer often?” she asks over headset.

“Nah,” you say, zipping around the spawn area, readying yourself for the match. It’s the two of you paired with four other random people. She says she wants practice, but is too nervous to do it alone, and with Arin gone, you’re her next best option. “I’m trying to get better at her, though. I usually main D.Va.”

Have you ever thought about doing gaming on your channel?

“Haven’t we been over this?” you grumble, zipping out of the spawn area. “Get to the payload, assholes!” you bemoan as your team scatters across the map. “Holy shit. We got stuck with a terrible team, Suze.”

We have been over this, but I was wondering if you had reconsidered.

“I dunno if its—FUCK YOU, BUDDY—really my cup of tea.” You kill the enemy McCree that had almost just taken you down. “I want to but…I should probably just stick with singing.”

Sure, sure. Do you wanna be a guest on my gaming channel, then?

“Uh…really?”

Yeah! What better way to gauge it than being on mine?

You huff out a breath. “Suzy, you’re too generous to me.”

She laughs. “It’s really no big deal.

“It is to me!”

Wanna record this weekend?

“Of course I do.” You pause. “I have to bartend tonight, so how does—FUCK ME— tomorrow sound?”

Suzy giggles on the other end again at your outburst. “Sounds good. I’ll meet you at the Grumps Space at noon?

“Yes. A thousand times yes.”

 

You get to the grump’s space the next day, Sunday, close to 10am. You’re tired despite the caffeine you had all but injected directly into your bloodstream, but you pull into the parking lot with a smile on your face. You love it here. You love hanging out with people at the grump’s space.

Suzy is waiting outside the door, and waves at you when she sees your car pull in. A few seconds later you approach her, coffee cup in hand and bag slung over your shoulder.

“(Y/N)! You look…like hell,” she says, a bemused smile on her face.

“Wow, thanks Suze,” you grumble. “Really know how to make a girl feel special.”

“I’m just saying,” she replies with a shrug, pulling a keyring from her purse and fumbling with it, trying to find the right one to fit in the lock. “Rough night last night?”

“Something like that, sure.”

Last night had actually seen you spending too much time fiddling around on the piano, unable to sleep. You were occasionally known for bouts of insomnia, and last night seemed to mark the start of one of them. Eventually you tried laying in bed, eyes closed, deep breathing, attempting techniques that were akin to meditation. Still, when the sun rose at 7am that morning, you reluctantly slouched out of bed and gone straight to make coffee.

“So what game are you subjecting me to today?” you ask her, following her inside the space.

Suzy flips on the lights and sets her stuff at her desk. “Ever heard of Wii Sport’s Resort?

You pause, unsure that you heard her correctly. “Pardon?”

She gets a cheshire cat grin on her face. “Wii Sports Resort.”

“Are you—are you fuckin’ having me play Wii Sports Resort?

She laughs. “Yeah, I am! A good versus game, I thought.”

“Holy shit.” You shake your head, disbelieving. “You’re crazy, Suzy.”

 

Seventy minutes later, you collapse on the grump’s couch. Suzy still stands, breathing heavily, but grinning triumphantly.

“This has killed me,” you groan, out of breath. “You’ve officially killed me.”

You close your eyes to give yourself some rest, your whole body feeling wrung out and overworked, all from fucking Wii Sports Resort, but then Suzy says, “Smile!”

Without thinking, you open your eyes and flip her off.

A camera shutter sounds, and Suzy lowers her arm, looking at the selfie on her phone. “This is incredibly Instagram worthy,” she tells you.

“Knock yourself out,” you say, unbothered. “Knock me out, while you’re at it.”

Suzy scoffs, going over to the camera recording the both of you and ending that recording. “You’re just angry that I beat you at the sword-play one.”

“My Mii looked terrified falling into that water!” you defend half-heartedly. “And whatever,” you add, “I kicked your ass at table tennis.”

“Let’s film the outro, and then get lunch.”

“Deal.”

Suzy hits the record button again and prances over to sit next to you on the grump couch. “So that was me and [Y/C/N] playing Wii Sports Resort!

“That was Suzy roping me into playing Wii Sports Resort,” you say, a little monotone.

“That was…(Y/N) getting angry that I beat her at a majority of Wii Sports—

“That was not a majority!” you cry, sitting upwards, still breathing a little heavy. “You—oh my god. Just end this. Please. I didn’t know Wii Sports Resort could be so physically taxing.”

“A good workout,” Suzy agrees. She looks directly at the camera and waves. “Thank you for joining us, please be sure to check out (Y/N)’s channel, she does very good singing…”

“Less good singing now that I am physically dead,” you pipe up, slouching against the back of the couch.

“…and hope you had fun watching this as much as we had fun recording it! Bye-bye!” On that note, she hops off the couch and turns off the camera. “That was really good,” she tells you genuinely.

You laugh. “I had a lot of fun, actually.” You sit up again, stretching your legs out in front of you a little. “When will that go up, do you think?”

Suzy shrugs. “In a week or so, I’d say. And then maybe you can start doing gaming on your channel!”

Chuckling, you say, “Maybe.”

“Whether you want to admit it or not, you have the personality for it,” she says in a sing-song voice.

You scoff. “What-ev-er. Can we get lunch now?”

Chapter Text

>would you kill me if I didn’t show up to your apartment after getting in?

You find yourself raising your eyebrows at the text. It was Tuesday now, Dan was returning from Seattle today, and you were sufficiently elbow deep in someone’s sink, trying to fish out something that was probably gross. Phone on the counter next to you, with the apartment’s actual owner a few feet behind you practically audibly biting their nails, as if they were trying to make you more nervous.

When you don’t respond to Dan’s text right within the next ten minutes, still focusing on your task at hand, your phone starts to go off. He’s calling you now.

“Do you mind if I…?” you ask, looking over your shoulder to the person, who was now eyeing the sink worriedly.

“Oh! Please, go ahead,” she says.

With the hand that is not in mortal peril, you grab your phone and answer it. “Hello?”

Hey! Did you get my text?

“Yeah, I—” you pause, jamming your arm just a little deeper into the pipe. Your fingertips are grasping at something now. “I’m almost shoulder deep in a pipe trying to unclog someone’s sink right now, can’t really text.”

That’s…yeah, okay, that’s valid. What are you doing tonight?

“Uh…” You try to get your fingers to dig into whatever disgusting thing was lodged in this person’s pipe, frustrated, and a strand of hair falls in your face. “Didn’t you just say you weren’t gonna be able to do anything? Isn’t that what your text just read?”

No, I—I said I couldn’t come over after our plane got in. But what are you doing?

“It’s a Tuesday,” you tell him. “I’m gonna eat a grilled cheese and plug in Final Fantasy XV.” You pause. “And maybe finally put together the cover I recorded last week.”

Well…you should come over for dinner!

“I should?”

Totally!

“Why?”

What do you mean why?

“Oh my—Dan, listen, I’ll call you back. If by some happenstance this garbage disposal turns on, my right arm is gonna live on in our memories. I’ll call you back within the hour, I promise.” Your fingers get a grasp on the slimy thing finally, digging in, disgustingly.

Okay! Okay, okay, don’t let your arm get mangled! That one’s my favorite. Bye!” He hangs up before you can even say a farewell.

Putting the phone down, you yank your arm out of the pipe, letting out a relieved sigh. Arm covered in guck, you hold out a wad of damp paper.

“Receipts,” the woman tells you. “Can’t leave a paper trail.”

“Right.” You try to wrap your mind around it. “Of course.”

 

After appropriately soaking your entire arm in hot water, you call Dan back.

“I get the whole ‘wanting to see your girlfriend immediately once you get back’ thing,” you tell him, toweling off your arm, and you smile a little bit at how warm you feel at the phrase. “Like, really, I want to see you too, Dan. But can’t we wait till a little later in the week?”

No, I just,” he cuts himself off with a whine. “(Y/N), please! It’ll be really lowkey, I promise, I just want to see you for a little bit, you can stay the night and…

“Is this a ploy to get me to fix more things in your house?” you joke. “Should I bring my spackle? I thought I spotted a hole in your wall…”

That was from—okay, so Arin was over and helping us move furniture and—you know, okay, stop distracting me! Please please pleaaaaase—

“Yes, I’ll come over for dinner,” you laugh, pacing your living room now. “Jeez, calm down. I’ll be over after rehearsal…about 9pm, if that’s okay?”

That’s perfect! I’ll see you then, (Y/N)!

“I’ll see you then, Dan.”

You can’t help the smile that forms on your face when you hang up, and you flop onto your couch, laying horizontal and looking at your phone. Boyfriend Danny Sexbang never seems to fail to surprise you.

 

At rehearsal that night, as the cast stands around running their lines, the producer of the show pulls you aside.

“(Y/N), (Y/N), how have you been? How are rehearsals?” they ask, seeming a little frantic.

You are taken aback. “I’m…fine, yeah, I’m doing good. Doing well. Rehearsals are going well too, I think, we seem to be making progress with characters and choreography and…”

“Great, great, that’s good to hear,” they interrupt you, and you clench your jaw to stop yourself from making a remark. “As you know, we’re only a month and a half out from opening night, only a month away from starting tech…”

You nod. Infamous tech weeks, where lights and sound and other design elements were integrated while the actors ran the show over and over and over again. It all leads up to opening night.

“…and we have been brainstorming some publicity ideas, yes, yes we have, and I was surfing the web a few nights ago and…well, you’re quite popular on there, aren’t you?”

The producer looks at you expectedly. You realize they expect you to respond. “On where?” you find yourself saying, caught off-guard.

“On the internet.”

“I wouldn’t…” Struggling with your words, you manage to get out, “I wouldn’t say I’m popular on the entire internet. Maybe a small sector of it.”

The producer shrugs. “Whatever fills seats. Would you consider doing some publicity for the show? On your…network?”

“My channel,” you say, deadpan.

“Your channel! Would you do a video or two, maybe make some announcements…”

“I mean…” You rock back and forth on your heels, hands behind your back. “Sure. I’ll…I’ll something to promote the show, sure.”

They beam at you, and you smile back with much less intensity.

 

9:12pm is when you finally arrive at Dan’s door.

Dan opens the door…and blocks it as much as physically possible with his body.

“Hi!” he says cheerfully.

“Hey…” you reply warily, standing on your tiptoes to try and peer over him. “What are you…hiding in there?”

“Oh, nothing important,” he says, still sounding chipper, but now a little more mischievous. “You wanna come in?”

You quirk an eyebrow at him. “You’re the one who invited me over.”

Dan giggles, dropping his arms from the sides of the doorframe. From what little you can see inside, it seems dark. “I know! Cover your eyes, I’ll lead you in.”

Giving him one final suspicious look, you close your eyes. Instantly, you feel Dan’s arm wrap around your shoulder as he guides you inside. You hear the door close behind you, and your shoes squeak a little as you take the few steps into his house. You have no idea where he’s leading you to.

“I hope you like it,” he says, quieter, like he doesn’t want to break a spell. Abruptly, the two of you stop in your tracks, your hand grabbing his side to steady yourself. “Okay, open your eyes,” he tells you.

When you open them, you gasp.

The living room furniture has been pushed to the corners of the room to make as much space available as possible. There is a large blanket spread out on the floor, a classic checkered pattern, and there is a stack of plates sitting next to a woven picnic basket. A bottle of wine, too. Every elevated available surface is filled with lit candles, making the room glow more than anything else. It looks picturesque.

“Oh my god,” you whisper, hands unconsciously covering your mouth in surprise.

Dan moves a few steps to stand in front of you, hands nervously stuffed into the front pockets of—of his nice jeans, a rare non-ripped pair. He has a nice button down shirt on as well. “I…I was thinkin’ a lot on the plane to Seattle? And in Seattle? And on the plane back from Seattle? And…we never had a date,” he explains, shuffling his feet and avoiding eye contact with you. You can’t help the dumbstruck smile growing on your face as he continues, “Like—we went to IHOP that one time, and eat a lot at your house, and made pancakes, or whatever, but I—…We’ve never had an official, proper date,” he emphasizes the words. “Then I realized that I was gonna get back on Valentine’s Day? So, I thought, why not combine the two and do somethin’ for my girl, you know?” Finally, he looks up at you, head still tilted downwards so he looks at you through his lashes. “Do you like it?”

Unable to contain yourself, you pummel into him in a hug. He giggles, right in your ear, wrapping his arms around you and absorbing the blow by taking a few steps back to steady the two of you.

“I love it!” you squeal. You hadn’t even realized today was Valentine’s Day—of course, the fourteen of February, how could you forget. “This is amazing!”

“Yeah?” Dan sounds relieved.

“Yeah!” You pry your arms off from him, grab him by the shirt collar and pull him down so you can kiss him. Dan’s arms slide away, and his hands settle delicately on your hips. He’s smiling against your lips, eyes open, crinkled at the edges. “I love it so much,” you tell him when you pull back, letting him stand upright again.

“Then let’s get eating!” he laughs.