Dan's left more than just home behind. PHAN.
POV: Starts as Dan, but switches back and forth
“You can call whenever you want.”
“I know, Phil.”
“I mean it, Dan. Day or night, whatever it is. Even if you just want a quick chat.”
“You’re not my mother, Phil.”
He stops looking around the room like a lioness searching for any potential predators that might be after her cub and instead looks directly at me, a strange sense of pride in the gaze that makes my insides bubble in ways that I thought impossible until I met Philip Lester, my boyfriend of four months. We’ve been house-sharing for longer and now we’re at the point where we don’t even need words to communicate with each other; just eyes, lips and hands. That’s all we need.
All I won’t be having until the Christmas holidays in a few months’ time, when classes will pause and the real world will take their place.
“Look at you, all grown-up.” Phil sighs, pulling me into the tightest hug my bones have ever had to melt into. “Makes me feel like less of a cradle-snatcher.”
An abrupt wave of nostalgia hits me square in the chest, making my strength falter so that I’m leaning fully into my boyfriend. He feels so warm, so certain and safe against me; like nothing bad can ever happen so long as he’s by my side. Which is true because I know Phil would never let anything hurt me in any plausible manner. Just like I would do anything to keep him out of harm’s cruel way, like that time I stopped him from jamming a fork into the toaster.
Who will stop him from doing stupid, Phil-like things such as that now that I’m here; now that I’m in the dorms of a big scary university?
“I don’t want to stay here.” I mumble under my breath, just loud enough so that the universe knows I said it but too quiet for Phil to think it’s anything more than me purring into his chest like I always do when he strokes my hair like he is now.
“What was that, Danosaur?” I shake my head, looking up and fixing him with a semi-fake smile. I can’t back out now; not now that I’m here and saying goodbye and being a man. “Oh, okay.” He leans down and kisses me on the lips, long and hard; the way that he always does, biting down lightly on my lip in such a way that makes me certain that it’s really happening someplace outside of my dreams. “I’m going to miss you.”
His hands trail down my back, along my arms, until they reach my own where they make a firm link; a connection that cannot be broken by something as trivial as distance or as flimsy as time.
I can feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes, threatening to make me cling to Phil and force him to drive me back home. As nice as that would be, to go back to our bed and kitchen and everything else that I associate with home, I just can’t. I’m here and I’ve got something to prove; to myself, to the world, to my parents.
“Look at the time! You better get going, Philly.” I’m practically pushing him out, begging him to just understand that it’s hurting to have him here. “Try not to have too many wild parties while I’m gone.”
He turns in the doorway, gives my shoulder one final squeeze and gives me a bittersweet look of longing that I can tell he’s aware is stinging me inside. But that’s okay, because it’s stinging him too.
“They won’t be wild without you.”
I hope he’s alright. Out there all on his own, nobody to make sure his nightlight’s turned on before he goes to sleep and that the heating’s on at just the right temperature. Nobody there to know that his llama hat has to be hand washed in warm, soapy water or else it’ll shrink.
Nobody there to neither hug him when he needs hugging nor snuggle him when he needs snuggling.
What if he’s working himself too hard? What if he’s not working hard enough? What if he’s run out of money already and is currently surviving off of that bit of drywall I spotted in the corner of his room?
Jesus Christ, it’s only been two days and I’m already going out of my mind worrying about him. Not that that’s really my fault; he’s still just a baby really, my baby. My baby who hasn’t even phoned me yet, only left funny little Tweets about university life for me to read and reread and dissect until I’m certain that there’s no hidden cry for help lurking within them.
Maybe I should phone him. Yeah.
What if he’s busy? Or what if he thinks I’m being all possessive and crazy?
He’ll phone when he wants to talk. I know he will; I told him I’d always be up for a chat after all. It’s just a matter of being patient.
Whoever said that absence makes the heart grow fonder clearly spent too much time playing Pokémon and not enough time sleeping; absence, Dan’s absence anyway, makes me want to curl up and cry myself to sleep at night. But not even that will give me solace.
Because I know that when I wake up, Dan won’t be snoring next to me.
“What ya doing?”
“Filming.” I reply, heaving out a dramatic sigh because, seriously, why else would someone be sat in front of a camera and saying their inner monologue aloud? “For that YouTube thing I do. Y’know. That thing I do. On YouTube. This is me doing it.”
The guy, my roommate Jake, raises his eyebrows at me; a look that makes me feel all little and insignificant inside, hurts me more than it maybe should do. But I’m a sensitive person; I can’t help it if someone being a dick hits me harder than it would normal people.
I’m not normal, as Jake’s expression lets me know, and I used to be happy with that. Phil thinks normal is boring and that not being normal doesn’t make me weird; it just makes me even more me, the me that Philip Lester loves even more than warm toast on a rainy morning. Here at university though, normal matters. Normal is what gets you friends and parties and all those other things that I told Phil I’d be doing.
Instead I just sit on my own, splitting my time between studying things I don’t even understand and dodging meaningfully meaningless insults from Jake. Just because he has a ‘proper’ job and all I do is make an idiot of myself over the internet, as he so kindly put it. I wish Phil were here; he’d show Jake how cool I am.
No. I wish home were here, Phil along with it.
“Oh, well. You have fun with that.” Jake’s voice is dripping with patronizing spite, a smirk on his face that makes me feel queasy because I know what he’ll be gossiping about tonight with his friends; that geeky boy he has to share a room with who has no life outside of his laptop. “I’m going to that party across the hall. Don’t wait up.”
And like that he’s gone; out the exact same door I pushed Phil through five and half days ago. Leaving me alone with nobody but myself and an aching desire to make Delia Smith pancakes even though I know they won’t taste as nice as when Phil makes them with me.
Why hasn’t he phoned me?
Maybe he’s moved on, gotten someone better than awkward little me. God, what if there’s someone else there right now, lying in my spot on the bed, making my Phil smile like I thought only I knew how?
Maybe I should call him.
Because then I’ll just start crying the second he hangs up.
I read over the email for the millionth time, scrutinizing every syllable until I’m sure it embodies everything that I want Dan to know. Apart from I know it never will, not unless you can magically send hugs over the internet.
Hey there Danosaur!
God, I miss you. The bed gets awfully lonely without you, all cold and empty. Totoro isn’t a very good substitute; he’s not as good as you are at making-out. Not that I’ve tried or anything…
I hope classes are going well and that your fellow scholars are nice. Wow, I’m dating a scholar! Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, dating you was impressive enough already but yeah. Y’know.
Call me when you can,
I wince at how pathetic it sounds, like I’m begging him to give up on his dreams and come home. Even if that is exactly what I want I can’t let that happen; it just wouldn’t be fair on Dan. Dan who’s worked so hard to get where he is now, Dan who’s dreams are synonymous with my own because all I ever really dream about is making him happy.
And if I know Dan, which I hope to God I still do, this email will do the opposite of making him happy.
So I delete it, letter by letter, leaving nothing but a blank screen.
Nothing but an empty space where my heart should be.
It’s been two weeks since I last saw Phil. Two weeks since I smiled, since I laughed; since I did anything that made me feel even remotely happy.
Now there’s just a void. Nothing. Just lonely emptiness feeding off of my malnourished heart, draining it dry without Phil here to help replenish it. Only the others, people like Jake, to suck it out all the faster with their disapproving stares and harsh barbs of cruelty, making digs about everything that I do that they don’t.
Like my llama hat. The one that makes me feel close to Phil even though I know he’s far away.
They laugh whenever I wear it, and not in a nice Phil-like way. In a way that makes me feel childish and lost, like I’m a stranger in my own body because, all of a sudden, I don’t particularly like who I am. I mean, nobody else does; why should I?
Not even Phil likes me anymore.
He hasn’t even phoned once, just left my mobile full of static and a call history full of the number for the local pizza place. Sure, it’s not like I’ve made a move to contact him either, but it’s impossible for me to make the first move because I know that if I do then I’ll crumble; I’ll breakdown and I’ll be left to cry alone.
Alone or with Jake laughing at me, most likely filming it to show his friends what a weirdo he has to put up with.
I don’t want Phil to worry either, which he would most certainly do if he heard me talking right now. My voice is weak and parched, drained from lack of sleep. I might be able to hide it from everyone else but Phil, my best friend and boyfriend, would know; would hear that I’m dying without him by my side as a constant life-support machine.
I hope he’s alright without me there with him, holding his hand when he crosses the road and making sure that anything he cooks isn’t still raw before he eats it.
Who am I kidding? He’s fine. Probably all the better for not having me constantly hanging off of him, sticking to him like a disease. It’s excruciating to think like this, like Phil might actually be better off without me, but it’s a thought that I just can’t deny.
Just like I can’t deny the need to call him. Not any longer, not with tears limping down my face and with no-one else around to listen in.
I’m going to do it; I’m going to call my boyfriend.
I can’t remember what I was dreaming about but, then again, I don’t need to remember to know that it revolved around Dan, my Danosaur. What I can remember though is the fact that the thing that woke me up is my phone, blaring my ringtone at the top of it’s speakers.
At three twenty-seven in the morning.
There’s only one person who would phone me at a time like this, one person who I’d let myself wake up for because I can just tell that it’s him. I just can, okay?
I’m picking up the phone before I can even blink the sleep out of my eyes, starving for something that only Dan can nourish me with; love and care and Dan. Everything that I haven’t had in the past fortnight, only had the shadow of.
No. Not nothing; heavy breathing, like someone’s trying desperately not to cry. Like my Dan is trying desperately not to cry, his breath huffing out to the same beat structure as Muse’s ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, as it does every time he’s trying not to cry. He says that the song reminds him of me because he’ll never forget the look on my face when we saw Muse playing it live and so helps him whenever he needs to not cry.
The sweetness of Dan’s train of thought gets derailed by the simple yet horrific fact that he’s having to try not to cry in the first place, poor sweetheart. And I’m not even there to cradle him close, whisper pretty little things into his ear.
I should have phoned, shouldn’t I?
I knew I should have, knew in the back of my mind that he’d be too nervous to in his new setting to simply take what he needs. God, I’m stupid.
But I can make it right now. I know I can.
“Hey, Dan.” He makes a tiny whimpering sound of recognition, the sound making my heart throb in a poisonous cocktail of longing and misery. “Danosaur, I’m on my way.”
The stars shine down at us, seemingly winking their approval as I curl deep into Phil’s side on the grass outside the dorms, my boyfriend making me my little castle out of his strong arms. Everything feels so right, so un-apocalyptic that I can’t believe I didn’t call him sooner.
Sunlight is starting to filter in over the horizon, day threatening to break us apart like I know it will do when it comes. He’s only just got here, found me sitting on the car park bench twenty minutes ago, shivering and waiting for him to collect me like an abandoned Labrador on the roadside. I’d feel pathetic about it if only it weren’t for the fact that it was the only thing that made sense to do; besides, it got me to be where I want to be, right?
Phil nuzzles into my hair; the sensation of it filling me with the type of delight I’d all but forgotten could exist before my boyfriend got here.
“You could have phoned sooner, y’know.” He mutters, sounding so close to disapproving that it makes me wince against the warmth of his body; my body. “I would’ve come even if you’d called the minute after I left.”
I wriggle around and look into his eyes, those eyes that I know better than my own; those eyes that I’ve missed as though someone had torn my very soul out of my heart. Which, in effect, is precisely what happened. But my soul’s back now, wrapped around me like a scarf in a snowstorm; just how it should always be. Just like how it is right now, even if I know it won’t be like this forever. Because I know that Phil has to go home and live his life.
But I also know that we’ll phone each other at least twice a day and he’ll visit every weekend even though petrol is more expensive than gold, that’s what we’ve been talking about; about how we’re never going to lose each other ever again.
“I missed you.” I whisper, planting a garden of rose-petal kisses over his neck, just tasting and savouring until I know I won’t ever forget. “I will miss you.”
“I know, Danosaur. But I’m, we’re, here now. Together.”
A/N: The ‘U’ part of my Alphabet Challenge; nearly done! I wrote this whilst listening obsessively to ‘Always’ by Panic! At The Disco, so if you want something to go with this then I’d suggest listening to that piece of awesomeness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHJioXF67oE
Thank you very much for reading and please let me know what you think! :D