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moon under water

Chapter Text

It’s becoming a weekly occurrence that Dan and his friends all do the same thing every Friday night. There’s an LGBTQ+ nightclub slash bar local to where Dan lives that they frequent all the time, The Moon Under Water. It’s a small quaint place with LGBT flags on every wall, obviously being there as it’s a gay bar, with a dance floor in the middle. Dan can’t say he often leaves the bar stools but he watches as his friends dance the night away.

That’s where they are going tonight and Dan has the same struggle he has every night. What does he wear; it’s between a black button-down shirt and black ripped skinny jeans or a black band tee and black ripped skinny jeans. Either is a look, a look that Dan wears all too much.

“Amelia, can you come here for a second?” Dan shouts as he runs to his bedroom door to allow his scream to reach the other side of the flat over the pounding music coming from the lounge.

Before Dan has a second to turn back around to his clothes all sprawled out on his double bed, Amelia comes padding into his room with a glass of coke and something alcoholic, Dan is certain. Dan would be lying if he said Amelia didn’t look absolutely stunning right now and if Dan wasn’t a complete fucking gay man, maybe he’d find her attractive with her ashy grey curly hair down to her shoulders and brown eyes that remind him of how he likes his coffee.

But he is a giant fucking queer with absolutely no attraction to girls, so she’s just going to have to settle with being his best friend. Not that she is settling remotely in any way because she’s not single and she’s, in fact, dating Dan’s other best friend, Sophia. She’s a cute ginger-haired girl with blue eyes that steal the room, but if anyone told her Dan had said that she’d skin his kneecaps.

They both steal the room. A couple of absolutely gorgeous girls taking on the world.

“What do you want?” Amelia slurs her words as she walks confidently into Dan’s room in a pretty little black dress with slits on the torso showing her pale skin and tattooed hipbone.

“I don’t know what to wear,” Dan says as he bites his lip looking at the clothes before him.

“Let me guess, it’s between black clothes or black clothes?”

“Okay okay, I get it. Just help me pick,” Dan mutters as he raises his hand to shove off Amelia’s smirky comment.

Dan quickly regrets asking such an intoxicated person for fashion advice because instead of actually helping, she just shoves the clothes out of the way and falls on her back on his bed.

Dan sighs as he grabs the first outfit that wasn’t creased thanks to Amelia, which happens to be the Muse band tee and black ripped skinny jeans and begins to undress, realising Amelia is still in fact in the room and blushes.

Amelia laughs at the sight which only makes Dan blush more and groan out a small what!?

“Please, you’re kidding yourself if you think I’d want to be on top of your naked body when I have the wonderful and beautiful Sophia to call my own.”

“What makes you think you’d be on top?” Dan laughs as he pulls the skinny jeans up his pale thighs and buttons them up, with a small hop to cover his ass properly.

Amelia scoffs and Dan doesn’t want to think too much into it as he stands in front of the mirror, messing with his hair a little like he hadn’t spent the previous hour beforehand doing just that.

“Why are you putting in the effort anyway, Daniel?” Sophia exclaims as she walks around the door frame twinkling her eyes at Dan through the mirror as she does so.

“Sophia! The love of my life! The girl I’d love to call my wife! How are you always so stunning?!” Amelia screams as she reaches her hands in the air out for a hug, which she does get eventually as Sophia closes distance and piles on Amelia, kissing her square on the mouth multiple times.

Dan laughs heartily as he sees but it doesn’t take him long to produce a loud faked gag noise in the mirror when he’s sure either one of them is watching.

“Oh shut up!”

Dan opens his mouth to retaliate with a witty and humorous response but he is interrupted by his flatmate, Lucas, walking into his room in a pale pink button-up shirt tucked into white boyfriend jeans.

“So everyone thought that come into the emo’s room and ditch me in the lounge?” Lucas mutters in a feinted annoyance, rolling his eyes as he pads over to Dan’s bed and lies next to Amelia and Sophia.

“I didn’t ask for this,” Dan replies, holding both hands up in the air in a way of saying he’s innocent.

“But somehow we’re all here?” Sophia butts in, laughing as she rolls off of her girlfriend slightly.

Dan laughs again and takes one final look in the mirror to style his hair before turning around, grabbing his phone off of charge and heading to the doorway.

“Are we fucking going or what?”

 

~~~~~

 

They make it to the bar in one piece, somehow even though Amelia has had her fair share to drink for everyone in the bar. She even made Dan get up and dance a few times, which may not have said much about how much alcohol Dan has ingested in such a short period of time.

They’re all sitting at the bar drinking away Dan’s round, which has funnily enough been that way the last three rounds but Dan isn’t going to bring it up and talking the night away about anything that catches their thoughts.

“How’s work then, Danny boy?” Sophia exclaims as she runs her finger along the rim of the glass of double whiskey and coke in front of her, her other hand on her girlfriend’s thigh next to her.

“You’ve been there a week, have the kids killed you off yet?” Amelia butts in, laughing lightly.

Dan takes a swig of his gin and tonic before chuckling, “It’s going well actually. The kids are nice to me, not how I remember high school being.”

“It’s probably because you’re close to their age, they think you’re one of them,” Lucas replies to him, running his hands through his hair as he finishes his sentence. Dan loves Lucas more than his entire life; they were both there for each other when they came out to their families, especially when it didn’t go so well for Lucas being transgender. Lucas automatically became part of Dan’s family, moving in with his family from the age of sixteen and now being twenty-five, they live together in their shared flat in the middle of London.

“Maybe you’re onto something, Lucas,” Dan laughs as he takes another swig of his drink.

He clears his throat as he looks up and catches a glimpse of Amelia and Sophia down each other’s throats and tries to hold back a laugh as he looks away, not wanting to see any more of his best friends smooching.

After an awkward couple of minutes between Dan and Lucas nattering about this and that, Amelia finally gets her tongue away from Sophia’s tonsils long enough to speak.

“Me and, uh, Sophia are going to go?” She says as she begins to stand up, holding Sophia’s hand in one hand and pulling out her skirt in the other, which Dan tries not to overthink.

“Of course,” Dan splutters.

Amelia walks over to Dan and slaps him over the side of the head.

“Anyway we’re going,” Amelia continues, skipping off with Sophia in hand.

There’s a mutter of goodbyes, goodnights and I-love-you’s before it was just Lucas and Dan alone with a couple of half-empty drinks.

“So why are you still single, Danny?”

“Why are you still single?” Dan reflects the question back to Lucas. He doesn’t want to talk right now about his lack of love and men in his life.

“You know why,” Lucas rolls his eyes and laughs. It’s right. Dan knows why Lucas is still single; he’s just deflecting the question because he truly doesn’t want to talk about it.

“I know, I know,” Dan puts his hands up in a feinted retreat. “You are physically, mentally and sexually repulsed by the thought of anyone. I’ve heard it enough to know.”

Lucas laughs, “Right.”

Lucas finishes his drink and smiles innocently at Dan. “I hope you don’t hate me for wa-“

“Wanting to leave?”

Lucas nods sheepishly, “I can stay for a little bit longer?”

Dan shakes his head dramatically, the alcohol hitting him more than he’d like to admit. “No no you can go, I’ll just finish this nursed drink.”

“And that, Daniel, is why you are the only person on this planet I’d happily smooch,” Lucas exclaims, getting up on his feet and planting a sloppy kiss on Dan’s forehead.

Dan bats Lucas away with his hand and a small giggle and before Dan knows it, he is alone at the bar with an empty gin and tonic.

He orders another one and another one and another one and before he’s four more drinks down and heavily intoxicated. More than he likes to be on a night out, especially alone.

He takes the final sip out of his drink when the vacant barstool next to him is suddenly taken. Dan turns his head slightly to look at who’s sitting next to him.

He isn’t exactly shocked to see a slightly camp, but slightly hench, guy staring back at him. He turns his head straight back at his drink because he genuinely doesn’t have the time right now to deal with whatever is going to happen – hopefully, whoever is staring at him takes that as enough of a hint to leave him be.

“My name’s Ethan.”

Dan has to bite his lip to hold in the groan he wants to allow escape his mouth as soon as the mystery guy next to him opens his mouth to speak. Ethan. It wasn’t like Ethan was a bad looking lad because if Dan was interested tonight, he probably would have been the type of person Dan goes for but not tonight.

“Is the pretty boy not going to tell me his name?” Ethan mutters as he reaches out and tucks a stray curl behind Dan’s ear.

Dan coughs at the touch. Didn’t Ethan’s parents teach him manners?

“It’s Dan.”

“So Daniel, why are you here alone?” Ethan smirks.

“Just finishing my drink,” Dan says as he holds up his now empty glass, hoping to signal that he’s going to go home any second.

“Let me get you another, what’s your poison?” Ethan whispers as he invades Dan’s personal space once more to speak in his ear.

“No thank you.”

“I said, let me get you another, pretty boy.”

“And I said, no thank you,” Dan raises his voice slightly, turning around to look at Ethan, who’s still sporting the cocky grin he was five minutes ago.

Before anyone of them has the opportunity to continue this conversation, a tall guy with brown hair walks over to them and places his ass down onto one of the other seats next to Dan.

“You’re telling me you didn’t order us new drinks whilst I was in the bathroom, honey?” the stranger exclaims as he places his hand on Dan’s shoulder. Normally touches like this would anger Dan if they were from a stranger on a night out but this one didn’t feel possessive or mean, it feels safe and comforting.

Dan didn’t know what the fuck was going on but he couldn’t help but melt into the touch slightly.

“Who’s this?” the stranger continues as he grabs a menu from the side of the bar and scans it.

“Uh, this is Ethan,” Dan mutters, not taking his eyes off of the stranger. One because looking away would mean he’d have to look at Ethan and he doesn’t want that and two, because he’s so fucking confused.

“Hi Ethan, are you a friend from work?”

“N-no?”

“Where does he know you from?”

“He doesn’t.”

“He must do if he’s invited you out for our anniversary celebrations?”

At this Dan realises what this stranger is doing, and to be honest, he’s rather grateful. It seems that this wonderful stranger has seen what was going on and is attempting to help Dan escape the awkward situation, so Dan helps a little.

“Oh, I don’t know him at all, my love,” Dan says as he looks fondly at the stranger and then back at Ethan with a deadpan expression. “And I’m sorry for not getting you a drink. Last time I tried I got it wrong and I didn’t hear the end of it.”

Dan sighs in a feinted annoyance and is shocked when he turns back to the stranger with strangers hand on his own heart and scoffing.

“You thought I would have wanted a drink with diet coke, what do you take me for?” The stranger chokes out.

“You said you wanted to go on a diet!”

Not at the expense of my alcohol!”

Dan laughs because this stranger is actually kind of funny? But he turns back around to Ethan, only to notice that Ethan has in fact gone and is walking across the dancefloor away from this whole faked scene going on.

Dan turns his head back around to the stranger to find him looking at Dan with a smile on his face.

“What?”

“This is where you say thank you for saving me to the most dashing stranger you’ve ever seen,”

“How did you know I needed saving?” Dan smirks and cocks his eyebrow up at the bold assumption.

“Please,” the stranger scoffs again, “You literally oozed anxiety from the other side of the room. I had to help!”

“Well thank you,” Dan tilts his head and smiles, genuinely this time.

“It’s okay,” the stranger says. “Phil.”

Dan looks back at the stranger to notice his hand is stretched out in front of Dan and it’s then when Dan realises that the stranger’s actually telling him his name. Phil.

“Dan,” Dan says as he reaches his hand into the grasp of Phil’s and shakes his hand.

“Gay guys in clubs around here are always predatory, why are you here alone, Dan?”

Dan scoffs and rolls his eyes, “Where are your friends?”

“Point taken,” Phil laughs lightly and runs his hands through his quiffed hair.

Dan hardly ever finds someone in this type of situation and is automatically attracted to them but there’s something about Phil that just makes Dan melt into his seat.

“Two of my friends are together so they went home to, yeah. And my other friend just hates the party scene so he left early, I’m just finishing my drink,” Dan finally explains, because talking to Phil comes so easily to Dan and they’ve only known each other for five minutes.

“You’ve finished your drink,” Phil points out, smiling a tight grin innocently, whilst aiming his finger towards the empty glass that Dan still has his hands wrapped around, and has done for quite a while now.

“You’re right. I should probably get going,” Dan mutters, about to stand up when Phil places his hand on hands resting on the bar. Dan looks up and gains eye contact with Phil. Phil’s eyes are nothing but warmth and safety and he truly doesn’t want to leave.

“Stay.”

“Okay.”

Dan sits back down as Phil orders them both their drink – Dan another gin and tonic and Phil, a fruity cocktail with all the trimmings.

“So tell me about you,” Phil whispers as he takes a sip of his cocktail, taking the piece of lemon off of the side of the glass and sucking it, which startles Dan slightly because wow, how bold of Phil to eat a lemon without so much of a grimace.

“Cheesy but okay,” Dan giggles, adjusting himself in his seat to turn and look at Phil easier. “I’m a teaching assistant at a school not far from here. A history teacher, hopefully.”

“A teacher? Did you always want to do that?”

“Not really. My parents wanted me to go to university and I really like history so I just went for the obvious choice. I still don’t know what I want to do,” Dan exclaims.

“You still have time. You seem like you’d be a good teacher.”

“You don’t even know me,” Dan laughs at the pure idiocy of Phil’s comment, and Phil joins him for a second before taking another sip of his drink.

“Maybe I should get to know you,” Phil smiles and winks.

Dan looks away from Phil at this moment, blushing and feeling all of his blood in his body rise to his head. Phil should not be having a reaction like this on Dan, but he is and Dan doesn’t want to push it. Pushing it would lead to things Dan lacks 100% control over.

“Maybe you should.”

Dan finally looks back at Phil and finds that his gaze has never once left Dan, and Dan doesn’t think that helps the blushing matter.

 

~~~~~

 

They chat for a few more hours about this and that. Getting to know one another until it’s suddenly bar closing and Dan shakes his head thinking about how he and Phil have sat talking since midnight and it’s now 3am. Where did the time go?

“Do you have a way of getting home?” Phil mutters as he buttons up his denim jacket before following Dan out of the bar onto the still busy London street. There’s never a time in London when the streets aren’t busy, regardless of whether it’s Oxford Street or a small back alley in Camden.

“Yeah, I only live down the road from here. I usually walk home,” Dan replies, pointing his hand down the street to indicate the way to his home.

He wasn’t expecting Phil to walk him home but he did exactly that and Dan didn’t have the willpower to say no, he wanted that.

They walk, what is literally a less than ten-minute journey, in pretty much silence apart from the occasional small talk about living in London and the weather.

“We’re home,” Dan says and instantly regrets saying we're thinking it insinuates that it’s Phil’s home too when it’s nothing of the sort.

“Okay,” Phil mutters as he looks up at the apartment block, probably checking out where Dan lives, Dan thinks.

“Okay.”

“Well, then goodnight, Daniel.”

“Goodnight,” Dan replies with a hearty smile.

As he turns around to walk towards his apartment block door, he feels a gentle hand wrap around his bicep and pulls him back closer to Phil. Almost too close for a friendly encounter but Dan didn’t mind it.

“Give me your phone,” Phil says.

“Is this some type of polite mugging?” Dan laughs because even when he’s unsure of the situation he’s in, he still has to be the man who makes jokes.

“No you idiot, I’m giving you my number,” Phil joins in with the laughing.

“Oh.”

Dan hands him his phone and within a few seconds, he’s given his phone back with a new contact – Phil.

“Seriously, goodnight now,” Phil says as he walks backwards, back onto the footpath opposed to being on the steps leading up to Dan’s flat.

“Goodnight.”

Phil begins to walk away, leaving Dan on the stairs wondering what the fuck just happened.

Chapter Text

Monday morning rolls around rather quickly and Dan has work. Nothing too interesting. All he does is sit in the back of the GCSE history classes waiting for any kids to need some support in any way, and no kid ever does, so his mind is allowed to wander.

The entire weekend was spent in the lounge with Lucas catching up on Drag Race with countless cups of hot chocolate and takeaway pizzas, with Lucas occasionally screaming at Dan for not remembering a drag queens name or forgetting to refill the kettle with water after he uses it all. Just a casual weekend at the Dan-Lucas household but one thing was massively different.

Dan couldn’t take his mind off of the stranger he had met at the Moon Under Water, Phil.

He had never been at a club or a bar and met someone he genuinely connected with, so he didn’t feel like he could speak about this particular with anyone. Amelia would almost cackle at the thought of Dan having a crush on anyone because in all the time he’s known her, from the beginning of university, Dan hasn’t even so much as looked at a guy.

After two hours of sitting in the back of the classroom, the bell goes and it’s time for break time in the grey tiled staff room with uptight fully qualified teachers who look down their nose at him just because he is an assistant and wanted to learn on the job instead of going back to university to get his qualification that way.

So he walks out of the history classroom, into a corridor full of messy and clearly hormonal teenagers, empty mugs from him and the teacher he is shadowing, Mr Clarkson. His plan is to escape to the staffroom rather quickly, refill the mugs and have a steady walk back to the classroom before the break is over, maybe scroll through social media as he does all of that.

The staff room is always full of teachers ranting and raving about an annoying child in their class who didn’t do their homework or refused to participate in class delivery and Dan had learnt to ignore that and mind his own business, especially after the one time he attempted to suggest a solution to an English teacher about a week into his assistant career and the teacher stared him down like he literally pissed on her shoe. Not anymore.

He keeps his head down as he heads towards the kettle in the staff room and waits for it to boiling, grabbing his phone out of his pocket to pass time.

He scrolls through Twitter and after a few seconds switches to Tumblr and realises his grave mistake doing that in public, let alone an educational setting. There are no children in sight but the guilt he finds seeping in his mind after seeing the most intense and kinky gifset on his dashboard was enough. All he can think about is the heavy regret of following porn blogs on Tumblr because really, did he need to catch himself off guard seeing one guy inches deep in another?

It didn’t help what they were doing really made Dan’s head wonder. Not in a pervy way, but in a wow-im-horrifically-single way.

Suddenly, surprise surprise, his brain brings back the shiny brown-haired guy from the club this weekend.

Dan shakes his head in annoyance because Dan should not be thinking of a stranger in that way, definitely not one that he had met in a clubbing environment completely drunk and out of his face. He’s out of his depths with Phil, anyway.

But if he was out of his depths, why would Phil give Dan his number? Maybe to be friends? God knows.

Dan begins scrolling down his contacts app on his phone and halts the scroll as soon as he gets to Phil’s number. He could text him, but what would he say? /Hi Phil, it’s the guy you saved in the club from that horrific guy and I wanted to see if you wanted to hang out with someone who clearly couldn’t stick up for themselves/

Probably not no. He rolls his eyes and scrolls up the contacts until he sees Amelia’s number. He sighs as he brings up the text conversation and begins to write her a text.

Dan 11:11am: I have an issue. A big one.

Dan drops his phone back into his pocket as he notices the kettle has boiled and he pours himself and Clarkson two mugs of coffee. He feels his phone buzz several times in his pocket as he does so but he ignores it, feeling like going back to his classroom is a top priority right now to escape the other teachers.

Walking back to the classroom is somewhat even quicker than the walk there, and that’s almost definitely not because he can feel his phone vibrating multiple times in his pocket as he dawdles to the room.

Placing the one mug on the desk at the front and exchanging a few meaningless words to Mr Clarkson, he walks back to the back of the classroom where his halfassed desk is and opens his phone again.

Amelia 11:11am: oh my god what is the issue talk to me im here

Amelia 11:11am: im all ears

Amelia 11:12am: Dan if you have died on me before I got the gossip I will kill you

Amelia 11:12am: DANIEL

Amelia 11:13am: fine. I don’t care that much anyway

Amelia 11:15am: DANIEL HOWELL REPLY TO ME

Dan chuckles at the blatant spam of text messages from his friend and begins to think of a reply.

Dan 11:17am: I met a guy

Amelia 11:17am: A FUCKING GUY

Amelia 11:17am: are u fucking serious

Dan 11:17am: yes and im really going through it Amelia

Amelia 11:17am: okay okay what's wrong with meeting a guy???

Dan 11:18am: nothing wrong apart from the fact what am I supposed to do, you know?

Amelia 11:18am: when did it happen

Dan 11:18am: the club

Amelia 11:19am: u are telling me you met a guy at the club and you didn’t think to tell me until the weekend was over

Dan 11:19am: I didn’t think there was anything to tell

Dan 11:19am: I was getting hit on by a guy and he came, pretended to be my bf because he saw I was uncomfortable and we just spoke. He walked me home and gave me his number

Amelia 11:20am: and you haven’t text him?

Amelia 11:20am: you muppet what the hell is wrong with you

Amelia 11:20am: text him. Text him right now mr howell

Dan 11:21am: what if he doesn’t want to talk to me

Amelia 11:21am: it’s a bloody text and if he didn’t want to speak to you, he wouldn’t have given you his number

Amelia 11:21am: now text him

Dan sighs into his phone and thinks. Amelia is right. There’s nothing wrong with the quick text message to Phil. If Phil didn’t want to message him back, he wouldn’t and that would be the end of that hopeful situation. He could just delete the number and move on with his life.

Besides, he isn’t even sure what he wants to do with the said number and with Phil. Maybe Dan does slightly fancy Phil but that doesn’t mean the feelings are the same, and neither does that mean that the feelings are genuine because he's only seen Phil once and that’s not enough to base off of.

What exactly can go wrong with texting Phil, Dan thinks and so he does.

Dan 11:24am: hello its Dan from the bar on friday

As soon as Dan sends the text message, the bell rings to signal that the break time was going and that the next lesson was coming, so Dan slips his phone back into his pocket and awaits the stampede of children to come.

 

~~~~~

 

Halfway through the lesson comes, and he swears he hears and feels his phone vibrate against his thigh but he ignores it because he doesn’t want to get his hopes up. It could easily as much be a text from his contract provider saying that his bill is due.

He tries to pass the time by walking around, asking students if they needed any help but as usual, children don’t really want to ask for help even if they need it. So, Dan begins to pad down the classroom back at his desk when Mr Clarkson calls him over.

“Can you go to the library and pick up these books for my, uh, our next class?” Mr Clarkson explains as he hands Dan a post-it note with a few names of books on it. Of course, Mr Clarkson is using Dan to do the tedious work that he can't be arsed to do himself.

“Of course, I’ll go and do it now.”

“Thank you, Mr Howell!”

Dan nods in agreement as he walks out of the classroom into the empty hallway. Upon automatic reflex, he puts his hand in his trouser pocket and pulls his phone out. He notices he has a few unread notifications, from Amelia who’s ranting in his text message app because he hasn’t replied to him for a few minutes too long and a text or two from Phil.

Phil 11:35am: hello Dan from the bar on friday, its Phil from the bar on friday too

Dan actually giggles reading the text and blushes slightly when he realises he fucking giggled at a text message in public. Luckily all students were in their classrooms learning so the only people who heard Dan’s giggle was himself and a few secretary teachers who were walking past at the time.

Dan 11:47am: sorry I didn’t text you straight away after clubbing, work is wild

Dan makes it into the library and begins searching down the lengthy walls upon walls of bookshelves. There's a lot of books that Dan needs and they definitely are in the history section of the library but that doesn’t mean Dan is going to directly walk there and collect them. They could POSSIBLY be in the biology section, who would know for sure?

Dan walks down the second aisle when he feels his phone vibrate in his hand, turning around his hand to show him the notification.

Phil 11:48am: don’t apologise history isn’t going to stop for anyone

He chuckles as he reads Phil’s joke and sits himself down in a chair at the end of one of the bookshelves, way away from the main aisle so no one could see him. He probably shouldn’t be hiding from his job and should definitely find all of the books Mr Clarkson has asked to collect but it seems so much easier just hiding away to be able to text Phil for a little while.

Dan 11:49am: you're right i got dead kings to see and dinosaur bones to do

Phil 11:49am: excuse me dinosaur bones to do? wow tell me more Daniel

Phil 11:49am: i cant believe i didnt study history past gcse

Dan 11:50am: shut up u idiot you know what I meant

Phil 11:50am: no I don’t actually tell me about the dinosaurs you are boning

Dan actually snorts as he reads Phil’s text message, so much so that he has to dart his eyes around quickly to check whether anyone heard him. The coast is clear so Dan texts back.

Dan 11:51am: you did not say that

Phil 11:52am: i did so

Dan thinks to himself that he should definitely get back to collecting the books for Mr Clarkson so he idly does so, whilst texting Phil back every now and then. It couldn’t be perfect after all.

 

~~~~~

 

The rest of the day was spent with occasional text messages between Dan and Phil and walking up and down the corridors running errands for Mr Clarkson and a few other teachers that caught Dan walking about, annoyingly so.

It’s almost 3pm when Dan looks outside and notices the absolutely horrendous downpour that’s flooding the streets outside.

The bell rings soon enough and Dan knows he has to race the rain, quite literally. He packs up his stuff into his backpack and begins to make his way to the main gates so he could begin his walk home in the pouring rain.

He casually grabs his phone again whilst walking, to ignore the mass amounts of students and colleagues he is walking past who he doesn’t want to converse with, and also to text Phil.

Dan 3:02pm: it’s raining and I have to walk home and wish me luck

He puts his phone back into his pocket as he puts everything on the floor, to put his coat on, before going outside. Just as he puts his coat over his shoulders and his arms into its sleeves, he feels a vibration on his leg that wasn’t just a text message.

He pulls his phone out and sees someone is calling him. Holy shit, Phil is calling him.

“Hello,” Dan mutters as he answers the phone and puts it to his ear. He begins to place his backpack back onto his shoulders as he listens to Phil on the other end of the phone.

“There’s no way I’m letting you walk home in the rain so where do you work? I’m coming to pick you up,” Phil replies through the rustling on the other end. If Dan was thinking right, he would know that Phil was putting his coat on in a hurry to leave the house.

“No, it’s completely fine. I don’t live too far.”

“Nonsense, text me the address and I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“No, seriously it’s fi-“

“Daniel Howell I will not ask you again, text me the damn address. I’ll see you in ten.”

And just like that, Phil hangs up the phone and Dan has no choice to text Phil the address to his school. He sits down in the reception chairs and waits and tries not to think about how fucking weird this is right now.

A guy he has met once, in a bar/club for that matter, is coming to pick him up from work because it’s raining.

So he does the only thing he knows to do in situations like this, text a gay panic to his friends.

Dan 3:07pm: guys. what the fuck is my life right now

Dan 3:07pm: tell me why the guy from the bar is coming to pick me up from work

Amelia 3:09pm: excuse me WHAT

Lucas 3:09pm: DAN ????????

Amelia 3:09pm: please tell me he’s dropping you off home I wanna see a sexy man

Lucas 3:10pm: IS ANYONE GOING TO TELL ME WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING

Amelia 3:10pm: im coming over I want to see a sexy man

Dan 3:11pm: guys not the time

Dan 3:11pm: really thought you’d be here for my gay ass panicking

Amelia 3:12pm: im sorry we are !!!! but Dan the man who hasn’t looked at another guy in years has a date

Dan 3:12pm: not a date

Lucas 3:12pm: idk what the fuck is going on but even I know it’s a date

Amelia 3:13pm: its definitely a date

Dan 3:13pm: oh god it’s a date

Dan 3:13pm: guys oh no

Lucas 3:14pm: gay date at ur flat with lucas and amelia by your side. wow

Amelia 3:15pm: first date goals

Just as Dan begins panicking and internally screaming, he gets another text from Phil saying he is outside and ready for Dan to get in the car – to which doesn’t help Dan’s panicking.

But he does what any well rounded put together person would do in this situation, he gets up and leaves the school to meet Phil. He pads down the driveway of the school, ignoring the pouring rain that is drowning him regardless of the hood he has covering himself.

He walks for a grand total of a couple of minutes before he sees an icy blue mini parked up on the side of the road with a man far too tall for a car that small resting on the car boot. It makes Dan chuckle to himself quietly because Phil definitely could have sat in the car and flashed his lights or papped his car horn but no, he went through the effort of standing outside the car in the pouring rain with no hood on.

“Hello,” Dan says as he walks towards the car and Phil.

“Hiya. Let's get in shall we?”

They both get into the car, doing their seatbelt as they do so.

“So where do you live?”

“Huh?”

“I am dropping you off you melon,” Phil laughs as he starts up the car and begins to pull off down the road.

“Right. You’re right. I’ll put it in google maps for you,” Dan replies and blushes slightly because he’s a fucking idiot and forgot the whole reason for this. He reaches for his phone and types his address into the maps app, placing it in Phil’s eyesight so he can get to Dan’s home.

They take most of the journey in radio silence because, to be honest, Dan doesn’t know what to say. He’s never been in this situation before.

Phil sighs as they pull up to the traffic lights. The ones that Dan always seems to get stuck at when he’s coming to and from work on the bus. He reaches to the radio in the centre console but stops, turning to Dan and smiling.

“Do you mind if I put music on?” Phil says with his smile blinding Dan.

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Dan replies, but he can't look away from that fucking smile.

Phil nods and turns back to the centre console, turning on the radio as he does so.

Dan literally has to hold back a gasp when he hears the familiar tunes of his favourite Muse song, New Born, being played on the radio.

“You like Muse?” Dan says shockingly.

“Like? Love, actually.”

“Muse is my favourite fucking band,” Dan adds on, with a little giggle.

Phil giggles right back at Dan and Dan would be lying if he didn’t have to hold back another gasp at the delightful sound of Phil Lester giggling. “Okay.”

 

~~~~~

 

Dan doesn’t notice when they near his flat but suddenly, the car comes to a stop and Phil turns off the engine. He looks over to see Phil smiling away at him, bright blue eyes and all.

Dan coughs, “Uh, do you wanna come in? For a coffee or whatever, to say thank you?”

“Sure. Not gonna say no to coffee,” Phil replies with a chuckle.

They both get out of the car and walk to Dan’s front door as quickly as possible, trying to avoid the pouring rain from above them. Before he knows it, he and Phil are kicking their shoes off at the front door and walking into his apartment, with the faint sounds of laughter coming from the lounge.

He wants to avoid it because he knows Amelia and Lucas are obviously going to be there and he doesn’t want that but it’s too late. The sound of two fully grown men traipsing through the front door and trying to kick off their shoes has made them aware and before Dan can hide Phil in any way, Amelia comes skipping out of the lounge into the hallway before them.

“Hiya Danny boy,” Amelia smirks as she doesn’t even look at Dan, instead she’s focusing on Phil. Dan hates her for it because she’s not making it lowkey at all, checking out if Phil is a good enough person for Dan.

“Hi Ame,” he coughs when he realises he should at least reply to her. “This is Phil. He dropped me off home and we’re going to have some coffee and then go to my ro-“

“Hi, Phil. How do you know Dan?” she says with narrowing eyes.

Dan turns to Phil, expecting to see him cringe at the blatant interrogation and running to put his shoes back on and escape, but instead, he sees Phil smiling ear to ear no anxiety insight.

“Hi, Amelia is it?” He asks and when she replies with an enthusiastic nod, he continues. “We met at the LGBT bar on Friday? I gave him my number and he couldn’t stay away.”

Phil looks directly at Dan and smirks, pushing into Dan’s side to tease him.

“Oh, so you’re gay?”

“Last time I checked I was,” Phil laughs, not seeing any less comfortable with the conversation and Dan feels bad that he can’t help but stare. How is Phil literally okay? Dan knows he would have run a mile if this were him.

Again, almost like the world wants to make Dan cringe anymore, Lucas walks around the corner of the lounge door with a frown on his face.

“I’m Lucas, Hi!” he says as he closes the distance between himself and Phil to shake his hand, and they do. What the fuck?

“Okay, sorry to disturb you guys. Go back to whatever you’re doing. We’ll be in the kitchen,” Dan interrupts looking red in the face, finally finding the ability to speak again after having nothing but anxiety running through his veins.

Amelia and Lucas snigger at each other as they run back into the lounge to return to god knows what they were doing.

Dan sighs as he pads his way to the kitchen, hoping Phil is still following. Once they both get into the kitchen and he watches Phil grab a seat on the breakfast bar, Dan speaks. “I’m so fucking sorry for them. My friends are so an-“

“Annoying?”

Dan chuckles as he lets go of the breath he was involuntarily holding, “Yeah.”

“Don’t worry about it. My friends are annoying too, you’ll see when you meet them.”

“When I meet them?” Dan stops taking the mugs out of the cupboard in a panic as soon as he hears that.

“We’re friends, Dan. Of course, you’re probably gonna see my friends at some point,” Phil clarifies, before he stops and eyes up Dan for a second before continuing. “We’re friends, right?”

“Oh yeah, yeah of course. Sorry, I thought you meant like right now,”

“I mean, I could give them a ring, Dan?” Phil teases.

“As much as I would love to meet your friends, I’ve had enough of annoying friends for one day,” Dan giggles.

Chapter Text

Dan eventually makes the cup of coffees for both himself and Phil and tries not to cringe so much about how his friends embarrassed him in the next room. He’ll almost definitely shout at them later.

“Here you go,” Dan more or less whispers as he hands Phil his mug gently, smiling.

“Thank you.”

They both take a sip of their coffees in complete silence before they look at each other and giggle. It’s such an innocent moment that Dan can’t help but think would have otherwise have been really cringey if it was with anyone else but Phil. Or anyone else that he has known for years, which is weird because he’s known Phil for literally a few days.

“Do you wanna go into my room or something?” Dan offers, realising that sitting on a breakfast bar stool for hours on end would be super uncomfortable and he at least wants to make a good impression on Phil. He begins to walk out of the kitchen as he turns around to check if Phil is following.

“Thought you’d never ask,” Phil teases as he leaps up from his seat to follow Dan, winking as he catches Dan’s eyes. Dan blushes. He didn’t mean for it to sound so, so loaded but the insinuation wasn’t a lie. Dan wouldn't hate that but he wasn’t going to admit it right now.

Dan turns back around and as he pads the floor into the hallway, keeping his head down to hide the blush, he is witness to a pair of feet in front of his. A pair of bright pink socked feet. He directs his gaze upwards to find Amelia in front of him, yet again, smirking.

“Where you going?” she says as she looks past Dan, almost through him, much to Dan’s annoyance.

“To my room.”

“Oooh, that’s. Interesting,” Amelia brings her smirk back onto her face again and Dan tries so incredibly hard to not tut in her face. He loves her so much but he doesn’t ever remember being this difficult when she brought home Sophia. But he guesses Amelia is just looking out for him. She knows exactly how difficult Dan’s life has been, particularly his love life, with coming out and stuff. So maybe that’s why she’s being so extra and protective suddenly.

Phil giggles and it brings Dan back into the present suddenly. God, he didn’t know he had an actual angel in his presence.

“Not like that,” Dan interrupts her smirk and dirty thoughts with honesty because nothing was going to happen as much as Dan’s aware.

“I mean,” Phil butts in, still giggling. “Bold to assume.”

“Phiiiil,” Dan whines, turning around to see the giggling Phil is doing spreading across his face in the form of rosy cheeks and crow’s feet around his eyes. He definitely has an actual angel in his flat tonight. “Not exactly helping is it?”

Dan does eventually laugh though. Because it’s funny and seeing Phil reacting in such a way, it is difficult to catch the infectious laugh.

“Okay, well,” Amelia says as she looks between both of the boys, who clearly weren’t paying attention to her anymore, only themselves. “Use protection.”

She laughs lightly as she turns around to walk back into the lounge with Lucas, and if Dan wasn’t mistaken, Sophia too. She must have finished work early.

“Don’t worry! We will,” Phil giggles even loudly as he grabs Dan’s hand and drags him into the room furthest away from the lounge which was luckily Dan’s bedroom. He didn’t know how Phil guessed it correctly but maybe it was the black door sign saying Dan’s Room that gives it away.

 

~~~~~

 

Dan shuts the door behind himself and Phil once they enter his room. It’s in this precise moment that Dan wishes he had installed locks on his door because he suspects that he knows that Amelia and Lucas will come spying on them soon. It's just something they’ll probably do and he’s already feeling embarrassed about it.

Phil places his mug down on the desk, shortly followed by Dan doing the same before he begins the brief tour of Dan’s room.

“Your room is pretty cute,” Phil mutters as he looks around Dan’s room with twinkling eyes, still not letting go of Dan’s hand as he walks into the room closer. Dan’s trying not to overthink the fact that Phil hasn’t let go yet. He’s definitely pulling off the nonchalant look with the trembling hand that Phil can almost definitely feel.

“Thank you. I take pride it in,” Dan laughs nervously as he watches Phil’s gaze as he inspects the room with wonder. He sees Phil’s eyes stand still at the Pride flag on his wall with fairy lights surrounding it and his heart warms when he catches Phil’s toothy grin.
Dan hasn’t always had pride in his sexuality and he’s been through some shit that almost made him hide his sexuality away forever and live a lie. But now, with the help of LGBTQ+ friends and university, he genuinely has begun feeling comfortable in himself. He’s gay. He loves men. That’s it.

“Really pretty,” Phil repeats himself as he turns around to look at Dan, with a warm smile on his face. Dan feels all of the moisture in his mouth leave and he struggles to swallow. Clearly, Phil wasn’t flirting or talking to him but Dan’s brain that’s crushing right now, can't see anything else.

Phil lets go of Dan’s hand eventually, much to Dan’s distaste and pads his way to Dan’s bed. He lies down, surprisingly not on Dan’s side of the bed, and Dan just stares for a second.

He surely isn’t going to join Phil in his bed but he isn’t going to overthink this because Phil is just lying on his bed and there’s nothing loaded with that.

Fortunately for Dan, Phil drags him out of his thought process by lifting his head up and laughing, “Dan?”

“Huh?”

“Are you just going to stand there and watch me from a creepy distance?”

“O-of course not,” Dan laughs as he pads his way to his bed, to awkwardly lie next to Phil. He still kept enough distance so they weren’t touching. But that distance didn’t last long because as soon as Dan got comfortable, Phil shuffles over so their bodies are basically touching in every way.

Dan struggles to not feel on edge once Phil grazes his thigh alongside Dan’s. He’d be lying if he didn’t miss the touch every time Phil’s thigh dances away for a few seconds.

“How was work?” Phil questions as he grabs one of Dan’s throw pillows and rests it under his head to get comfortable.

“It was okay,” Dan mutters, whilst laughing under his breath. “The basics of being a teaching assistant means that you have to rally around for everyone and do everyone’s dirty work. So yeah it’s okay.”

“Dirty work?”

“You know, like fetching a million books from the library – that’s what I was doing when I was texting you actually – or printing god knows how many worksheets. That sort of stuff.”

“Right,” Phil coughs, turning his head to look at Dan. “That sounds so boring.”

“It is. Unbelievably so, but it’s worth it when I become a proper teacher in a year or so’s time.”

Phil hums. Dan turns his head to match Phil’s and catches a beaming smile.

“What about you? You’ve never said what you do?”

“It’s boring,” Phil chuckles as he turns his head back to the ceiling and Dan can’t lie that he misses the lingering eye contact with piercing blue orbs.

“Come on, tell me?” Dan laughs into the air, blissfully unaware of the reason why Phil refuses to let Dan know where he works. “Do you work at a brothel or something? Is that why you won’t tell me?”

Dan is clearly joking and he hopes Phil can hear that in his voice as he speaks to him. Fortunately, his mild anxiety is erased as soon as Phil opens his mouth and a laugh just as equal to his own.

“If I was a prostitute, my job definitely wouldn’t be boring,” Phil teases. “And it would be an easy way to cover up how hopelessly single I am.”

Dan doesn’t want to be the stereotypical horny gay right now but all he hears is that Phil is single which piques his own interest, even though he isn’t about to admit that to Phil.

“God, I can relate. I would happily take on sex work right now just to get some.”

“Noted,” Phil teases again, with the small hum of laughter under his breath. Dan shoves him with his leg in a feinted annoyance.

Phil giggles and shoves his leg back towards Dan, and they go back and forth kicking each other lightly for a few seconds until they stop to catch their breath after laughing so hard.

Dan turns his head again to look at Phil and much to his surprise, already finds Phil looking back at him. Time seems to go by slowly for a few minutes, even though it seems like hours. Dan will laugh to himself later about how stereotypically early 2000s rom-com this seems.

They take their time but Dan’s heart goes a million miles an hour once Phil reaches his one hand outwards onto Dan’s cheek. Dan can so much as sit there and take it, feeling suddenly like he’s been staring at Medusa for far too long and her glossy eyes have turned him to stone.

It’s when Phil strokes his hand up from Dan’s cheek into his curly hair, combing his fingers through the thick brown locks with an innocent smile on his face, that Dan automatically leans in closer almost like he cannot help himself.

He feels his cheeks warm up with a scatter of rosy pink and dusty red blotches as he feels the soft warm breath of Phil’s against his lip. He begins to part his lips to allow Phil to meet him in the middle and he is so sure that he feels Phil coming in to close the ga-

Suddenly the door is thrown open and Amelia comes barging in and just like that, Phil separates himself from Dan in the blink of an eye and Dan can’t help but miss the touch. He flings his head to turn towards his bedroom door with a sigh.

“What do you want, Amelia?” Dan quietly croaks. Quietly because Dan isn’t the most shouty person ever and all of the silence and almost almost kissing (bold of Dan to even begin to assume) made his voice all raspy.

“Jesus, Dan, calm down,” Amelia teases as she pads down towards the bed and forces her way in between Dan and Phil on the bed. “Just wondering if Phil was sleeping over tonight?”

Dan lets out a small breath at the question. It’s not even Amelia’s flat and she’s barging into his own room in his own flat asking if his own friend is staying over. Real funny.

Before Dan has the opportunity to open his mouth and speak out against Amelia’s weirdness, the bed is shaken and he turns his head to see Phil standing up, with a small but very noticeable frown on his face.

“I’m, uh, gonna go?” Phil mutters as he stands up properly ironing out the creases and ruffles in his black suit shirt. Dan pretends to not feel a pang in his heart from hearing those words.

Dan darts up from the announcement and tries not to scour at Amelia for ruining The Moment. “I’ll see you out?”

“Y-yeah, yeah sure.”

Dan follows Phil out of his room where he watches Phil put his trainers and jacket back on and have to pretend like he wishes he wasn’t seeing Phil leave. Because in reality, he doesn’t want Phil to leave, he only just got there.

“Thank you for, uh, having me over?” Phil chuckles as he puts his left arm through its sleeve and buttons the denim jacket up to his neck. “I’ll text you?”

Dan ignores that that sounds like a question and just nods and smiles warmly and he’s glad when Phil ruins it, just as warm and genuine as his own.

Phil wraps his hand around the door handle and pulls the front door open, stepping outside and turning around so Dan can see his face a final time thankfully.

“Well, see ya,” Dan whispers as he steps forward to be in the doorway too.

“Bye,” Phil smiles as he takes a couple of steps backwards, before turning around and walking down the hallway to leave the apartment building. Dan removes all dignity he has left by watching Phil walk away from him.

He sighs as he shuts the door, turning around to lean against it. All he can think about is what could have happened on his bed with Phil, whilst he runs his own hand through his hair similarly to how Phil did just ten minutes or so ago.

He closes his eyes and all he can feel is the reminiscence of Phil’s breath lingering on his lips. Once he opens them he sees Amelia standing in his bedroom doorway with a seemingly genuine smile on her face.

“Don’t,” Dan mutters under his breath.

“Don’t what, Danny,” she smirks.

“You know what,” Dan breaths in between his teeth as he stands up from against the door once again and walks past her into his room, to sit on his bed.

He did the forgettable in not shutting his bedroom door behind him so Amelia just follows him to sit right next to him on the bed, “I don’t. Care to enlighten me?”

“Shut up,” he chuckles lightly but the anger on his voice is still noticeable. “Next time you want to try and cockblock me, please don’t, okay?”

“Whoa no need to be dick about it,” Amelia laughs as she stands up to leave the room. “I didn’t mean to.”

Dan turns his head to look directly at Amelia and he can still see the smirk on her face which only makes his anger flame all the more.

“This isn’t even your apartment. Why were you even asking?” Dan grits between his teeth.

“Someone’s angry they didn’t get some,” Amelia teases as she leaves his room and closes the door behind herself.

Dan throws a decorative pillow towards the door at full force, “You know what maybe I am.”

Chapter Text

Dan tries not to think about the monumental fuck-up between him and Phil as he goes to sleep. He thinks it’s successful when all he dreams about is rainbows and hot guys he meets at bars, and he desperately tries not to see the similarity in that as he wakes up from it.

He opens his eyes as he wakes up and wipes the remaining about of crusty sleep from his eyes with a groan. It’s a Saturday morning which means he doesn't have work for which he is super grateful for. But, he does have a long list of things to do today. The mundane adult-life things that Dan hates doing but he’s grateful for them all today as he needs the distraction.

He knows he has to go and do food shopping because god knows Lucas hasn’t done it. Dan always finds if he waits for Lucas to do it, he’s living off toast for a few days – which of course isn’t the worst thing but it’s not ideal when you need to survive dealing with thousands of kids as your day job. He also has to do some work for his on-the-job PGCE certificate, even though he doesn’t want to.

He just about thinks to get up and begin his day when he hears his phone buzz a couple of times over on his bedside table. He reaches up to grab it when he sees the familiar name of Phil on his phone.

Phil 9:13am: hi uh

Phil 9:13am: im sorry for bailing and freaking out on you yesterday, I hope there's no hard feelings?

Dan thinks about it, of course, there are no hard feelings. Why would there be? Dan couldn’t even see that they almost kissed because he couldn’t know for sure. He wouldn’t even class what Phil did as freaking out and bailing. So he unlocks his phone and types out a reply.

Dan 9:15am: hello don’t apologise ?? you did nothing wrong

Dan climbs out of bed, phone in hand, and walks towards the bathroom to prepare for the day. He brushes his teeth as he hears his phone buzz again and as he swills his mouth out with water, he replies to Phil.

Phil 9:17am: I freaked

Dan 9:18am: no u didn’t

He walks back into his room, phone very much glued to his hand. He picks out an easy outfit for today. Nothing too special, just an oversized striped sweater with ripped black boyfriend jeans.

Phil 9:20am: don’t even dan, I did because we almost kissed and got walked in on.

Oh, Dan thinks. So that was what was going to happen. Fuck. Okay.

Dan 9:27am: I understand why you would have been a bit dazed

Dan 9:27am: amelia is a big yikes

He French-tucks his sweater into the top of his jeans and looks at himself in the mirror. It’ll do for today surely, Dan thinks, he isn’t going to see anyone of importance as he walks to the shop and buys bread. He reaches for his phone, snapping a couple of outfit pictures for his Instagram story because even though it’s an easy outfit it’s still kind of cute. He shoves his phone into his jeans pocket as he puts on his trusty black leather jacket and shoves his house keys into his pocket. He makes his way to this front door in the hallway and toes his shoes on before properly leaving the apartment to adventure outside.

Phil 9:29am: ha yeah .. but im sorry genuinely I didn’t mean to

Dan 9:32am: no worries honestly x

He puts earphones in as he walks down the busy London street, listening to Waterparks’ new album because it only came out a few days ago and he hasn’t had a chance yet. But he would be lying if he says he was paying any attention to it, phone in hand texting Phil.

Phil 9:34am: I’m glad you aren’t pissed off with me. That’s the last thing I want x

Dan 9:37am: I’m not so quit ya worrying mate (: x

Phil 9:38am: what are you doing today anyway?

Dan 9:42am: I am walking to the shops to get some food in

Dan 9:42am: we all know if I left lucas to do it I wouldn’t eat for a week

Phil 9:44am: that’s a point

Phil 9:44am: I could’ve driven u

Dan halts replying for a second to think about how that would have gone down. He would have loved to have seen Phil again but he knows he wouldn’t have got much done. He would have been far too preoccupied to get anything more than milk and bread, and he knows he needs more than that.

Dan 9:45am: no no it is okay I would have been far too distracted to get stuff done today if u were here

Dan makes it to the supermarket and begins making rounds of the aisles, picking up every item he thought was necessary for this weekly food intake. An orange there, a bag of rice here. The basics with a few treats thrown in.

Phil 9:51am: oh is that right?

Phil 9:51am: why is that

Dan 9:54am: shut up u know why

Dan chuckles to himself whilst he is at the checkout as he reads Phil’s texts. He’s one hundred per cent sure that Phil knows why and it’s actually laughable that he’s teasing Dan in such a way.

Phil 9:57am: don’t think I do

Dan 10:03am: well im not going to tell u so good luck w that !

Dan leaves the shop with two large bags full of food but he decides he isn’t ready to go home just yet. He looks at his bags briefly and realises he didn’t buy any frozen stuff this time so he can technically stay out a bit longer than usual, so he pads the streets down to the busier part of down to do some personal shopping, for a treat or two.

He rarely treats himself to new clothes or anything of that nature but he did a bit of overtime this week, so he supposes he can afford it and he deserves it.

He shamelessly walks into Topshop, which is often where he buys his edgy clothes and cute emo boy accessories, even though he isn’t going to admit to anyone that that is his aesthetic wrapped up in one.

He picks up a couple of striped tees and a pair of tartan trousers and heads to the changing room. He knows these things don’t necessarily make an outfit, because even Dan isn’t bold enough to wear mixed patterns but they’ll make at least three different outfits with things he already has at home and that’s enough.

He tries on the striped tees first because they’ll easily go with his boyfriend jeans and snaps a couple of pictures that he thinks about sending Phil later once he’s bought them. He takes off his own jeans and replaces them with the tartan ones. He decides they look cute too and begins to put his clothes back on to go to the checkout.

He grabs his phone to see that Phil has texted him a few times and blushes. He doesn’t know why he’s blushing but he accepts it anyway, sitting on the little fluffy stool they give you in the changing rooms.

Phil 10:05am: mr howell you’re such a tease

Phil 10:07am: im bored

Dan 10:26am: I cant relate im shopping

Phil 10:27am: I know

Phil 10:27am: u rudely won't let me join.

Dan 10:29am: im buying some clothes do u want to see

Phil 10:29am: why would I say no wtf

Dan 10:30am: [img.0611.1016.jpg] understandable im cute

Dan chuckles as he lifts himself up from the stool and grabs everything in the changing room as he walks out to head to the checkout to purchase his new clothes. Whilst he’s waiting for the queue to go down, he checks his phone and sees a string of texts from Phil, and he smiles.

Phil 10:31am: oh my god

Phil 10:31am: oh my GOD

Phil 10:31am: OMG

Phil 10:32am: those trousers look so good on you what the FUCK

Phil 10:32am: god definitely is a man

Phil 10:32am: please wear them when we next see each other

Dan chuckles at the sight of Phil losing his shit slightly. He’s never really seen himself have that level of control and ability with another man but he isn’t complaining. All he wants is to make Phil lose his mind at the sheer sight of him, and this is fully clothed. Dan blushes at the thought of Dan not being clothed and the reaction that may spark from Phil.

Dan knows that he has sent a series of photos to previous flings and boyfriends (if you can call them that because Dan knows he’s never had a serious boyfriend before in his life) and sure they have been grateful. But they haven’t been nearly as grateful with entire pictures of Dan’s naked body as Phil has with a fully clothed picture.

He quickly shoves his phone back into his jeans pocket as he goes to the checkout, busying himself with idly chatting with the checkout girl who was dressed all in black and lace – Dan will laugh to himself later that a goth working in a fast fashion shop like Topshop says a lot about the world.

Soon enough, he’s exposed to the cold autumnal air with an extra bag in tow and he reaches for his phone to eventually reply to Phil. He’s relistening to Waterparks’ new album because he wasn’t paying attention the first time, he can’t think why.

Dan 10:37am: I bought them, im sure you'll be glad (;

Phil 10:39am: im really glad thank u

Dan decides to leave his phone in his pocket until he returns home because the cold air around him is making his fingers cold and he has far too many bags in his hands. He throws all of the bags into one palm, which is probably not the best idea because they are incredibly heavy, and places one hand in his pocket, wrapping his hand around his phone just to feel that much closer to Phil.

He makes it home much quicker than it took him to get into the city centre and he tries not to think about why that may be. He throws his coat and shoes back where they belong by his front door, throwing the Topshop bag by his bedroom door as he walks his way into the kitchen with the bags of food.

He begins to put the food in its respectable places as he feels a pair of hands worm their way around his waist and a head rest on his shoulder. He’s about to let out a loud whimper (maybe a screech) when he hears the familiar of chuckle behind him instead.

“My man has returned home!” Lucas chuckles as he places a large sloppy kiss onto Dan’s cheek.

Dan pats him away with a burst of laughter as he begins searching back into one of the large bags full of food, putting a bunch of fridge food, such as cheeses, milk and vegetables, back into the fridge.

“Do you wanna venture outside again tonight?” Lucas asks with a head tilt, making Dan turn around to directly look at him. “Or is that too much outside for a wee little introvert like you?”

“Shut up, where?” Dan replies, turning back to the food.

“A bar meant for how the other half lives,” Lucas cackles.

“That being?”

“A heterosexual bar, Dan. Get with it,” Lucas teases as he jumps onto the counter, firmly in the way of the cupboard Dan is trying to put food back in.

“Okay,” Dan mutters, biting his lip. He doesn’t hate ‘normal’ people bars but he definitely doesn’t want to make a habit of going to them. He knows that Lucas wants to go to a straight people bar because there’s no assumption on his sexuality, with him being asexual, but straight people bars scare Dan. They make him go back to what he was a few years ago, scared of voicing his sexuality. But this was going to be okay. He was with friends. “I take it Amelia and Sophia said yes?”

“Yeah, they’re coming.”

“Okay, I’m down.”

“You can invite lover boy if you want?” Lucas smirks as he jumps off the counter to return to the lounge with his video games.

Dan just hums briefly as he continues what he was doing before Lucas interrupted him.

 

~~~~~

 

It doesn’t take Dan too long to tidy up the kitchen and before he knows it, he’s walking back towards his room, picking up his Topshop bag to bring it into his room with him. He throws the bag on his desk chair as he falls back onto his bed. A little rest is due.

He reaches for his phone in his jean pocket and realises he forgot to reply to Phil, so he gets straight on that.

Dan 11:21am: sorry I was doing chores lmao

Phil 11:23am: it is okay! Are u done now?

Dan 11:25am: yes

Biting his lip, he realises it’s a perfect opportunity for him to ask Phil out. Ask him out with him and his friends, that is. He didn’t want to have his hopes too high but he really hopes the answer is what he wants.

Dan 11:26am: speaking of free, do you wanna come out with us later? A bar?

He reoccupies his time thinking about what would happen if Phil did come out with them. Maybe he’d sleep over? Maybe he’d share a bed with Dan? The thought of waking up next to Phil really makes Dan’s tummy flutter.

Dan’s train of thought is lost when his phone buzzes out of his hand.

Phil 11:30am: no I cant sorry :[

Oh.

Okay, that ruins Dan’s daydream, he assumes.

Dan 11:30am: that’s fine! Another time?

Phil 11:32am: definitely.

Dan tries not to let the rejection from Phil bother him for too long as he lays back and takes a nap for a few hours, thinking he deserves it after the menial tasks he’s done today.

 

~~~~~

 

He wakes up to a heavy weight on his stomach and once his eyes have come to terms with waking up, they open and he sees nothing but three fully grown adults lying across him.

“Hi?”

“Good afternoon, sailor,” Sophia laughs as she gets comfortable on Dan’s thighs. “Fancy waking up now?”

“I wonder if it’s anything to do with you three jumping on my body,” Dan mutters in annoyance, rubbing his eyes with fisted hands. He isn’t really annoyed but he’s just woke up, he’s allowed to be a little salty about it.

“Are you going to get ready?” Amelia laughs as she turns her head to rest against his chest, rubbing circles in his sternum.

“I am ready,” Dan argues, trying to push the three annoying bodies off of him.

“You’re meeting lover boy like that?” Lucas teases.

“Oh, Phil’s coming?” Amelia pipes up.

Dan rolls his eyes, “No. He isn’t actually.”

“Oh?”

“Argument with lover boy?”

Dan wants to scream. He loves his friends but they aren’t half annoying.

“No me and Phil are fine.”

“Phil and I,” Sophia corrects him, raising her eyebrows. Curse his friends to have an English language degree.

“Can you guys piss off and let me get ready?” Dan chuckles because rather than continuing to be annoyed, he’s going to admit defeat and laugh along with them. If you can’t beat them, join them kind of thing.

Sophia is the first to get off him, pulling Amelia up with her hand in the process. Leaving Lucas on his lap.

Sophia and Amelia leave his room in a fit of giggles and Dan turns his head to Lucas who is raising his eyebrows at him.

“What?”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine?”

Lucas hums as he pushes himself off of Dan’s body, “Okay sure.”

And just like that, Dan is left alone in his room like he thinks he wants.

Chapter Text

Dan thought that going to a straight person bar was a terrible idea but waking up the next morning, he realises that he actually had fun. He doesn’t remember much due to the amount of alcohol he had downed carelessly to void his emotions but he remembers laughter and dancing. And that makes a decent night out.

He squeezes his eyes shut to get rid of the sunlight beaming through his bedroom window that he carelessly forgot to cover with his curtains before going out. Now he pretty much hates himself for forgetting such a simple thing because his eyes are burning and they aren’t even open yet.

He manages to open his eyes after what feels like hours and can see his phone obsessively vibrating against his bedside table. He chuckles to himself because somehow drunk him remembered to put it on charge last night (or this morning rather).

He reaches for his phone and sees Phil’s name lighting up on the screen. With an anxiety flutter in his stomach, he presses answer call before he thinks too much about it.

“Hi,” he grumbles, head pressing against his pillow.

“Hello, bad night was it?”

“You could say that,” Dan grumbles again, with a slight chuckle in his voice.

“I have just the pick me up for you,” Phil replies and Dan can literally sense the smile on his face in between his words.

“Huh?” Dan hums.

“Get ready. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes for coffee.”

Before Dan can so much as reply that he doesn’t want to leave his bed today, Phil hangs up. He puts a mental reminder in his head to tell Phil that there was no consent involved in this coffee meet up.

He groans as he lifts himself out of his bed reluctantly to get ready for the day. He looks at his clothes in his wardrobe and darts straight to the new tartan trousers he bought the day before, definitely not because he knows Phil likes them on him. He matches it with a plain long sleeve black tee and throws on a random pair of black matte boots from his wardrobe that he hasn’t worn in a while.

He pads his way to his bathroom and brushes his teeth quickly before going into the lounge to see if everyone else was awake.

Low and behold, he sees Sophia and Amelia cuddled up on the sofa together. He sees Amelia’s eyes twitch when he walks in, so he knows she’s awake. Instead of a usual greeting, he would give to any one of his friends, he instead decides on fake gagging with his finger in his mouth to address his appearance in his own living room.

“That’s rude, Daniel,” Amelia whispers with her eyes still closed. “Why are you even up? Go back to sleep!”

“I have plans,” Dan replies.

With this, Amelia opens one of her eyes to peek at Daniel and gasps in the most extra way possible.

“You’re dressed all fancy.”

“Yep.”

“May I assume you’re hanging out with Mr Amazing?” Amelia giggles, shuffling on the sofa so she is wrapped around Sophia’s arms a bit more. In any other occasion, Dan would think this was cute but he isn’t going to allow Amelia to know that.

“Mr Amazing?” Dan splutters quietly, still aware that everyone is sleeping in this flat right now.

“He is a Mr. And you’d say he is amazing, right?”

“I guess.”

“Thank me for his new pet name later,” Amelia smirks.

“Shut up,” Dan laughs as he stands up and he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, curly hair and all. He bites his lip, doubting how cute he looks for a second, “I look okay?”

“If I wasn’t hopelessly in love with Sophia, I’d pounce on you in a heartbeat Danny boy.”

Dan rolls his eyes, “Thanks, Ame.”

He waves his hand in her general direction to head back into his room to grab his phone, noticing that it is around the time that Phil said he’d arrive outside Dan’s. So he puts a light jacket on, knowing it’s not too cold today, and heads outside.

 

~~~~~

 

He walks out of the apartment block door and sees Phil standing in front of his car. Phil’s just staring at him with wide eyes and Dan tries desperately to not overthink that. This isn’t a date. Not even in the slightest. If Phil wanted to date Dan, Dan wouldn’t have been rejected for no reason last night so, this is just a strictly friends thing. He gets it, he mutters to himself as he walks down the steps.

“You look really good,” Phil croaks out before he looks to the ground with a splatter of dusty red on his cheekbones.

“Thank you, you don’t look too bad yourself,” Dan replies with a chuckle as he opens his car door and hops into the car. He watches as Phil remains in the same place he greeted him at before he joins Dan back in his car.

“So coffee?” Phil sighs as he starts the car with an unmistakable shaky hand.

“You said it,” Dan teases as he puts his seatbelt on and Phil begins to drive off.

There’s a brief amount of silence in the car, other than the faint radio music being played on in the background. Dan didn’t want to laugh but when he saw the radio station was Smooth FM, he had to let out a small chuckle.

The small chuckle seems to awaken Phil from the silence too as he turns his head quickly to look at Dan and hums in question, before looking back at the road.

“Nothing,” Dan chuckles again. “Just didn’t take you as a Smooth kinda guy,” pointing towards the radio as he feels Phil’s heavy questioning gaze upon him.

“It’s calming,” Phil responds with a smile on his face.

 

~~~~~

 

They shortly arrive outside a small dainty coffee shop a little outside of the city centre. Dan couldn’t help but find its floral exterior and equally as flowery interior incredibly beautiful and he’s shocked that he’s never stepped foot in this coffee shop before – Lucas loves independent coffee shops and drags Dan into most of them.

They quickly enter the shop and Phil ushers him to find a table whilst he orders. So Dan aimlessly walks around the coffee shop floor until he finds a secluded round booth right at the back with no one around and Dan couldn’t think of a more perfect place to hang out.

It wasn’t that Dan hated other people, but when he was spending time with people in a definitely-not-a-date situation, he just wanted for it to be him and them. No one else in sight. Maybe this still did very much stem from the internalised homophobia he was still yet to completely shake away from him but for now, a booth at the back of the coffee shop was perfect.

Phil comes back before Dan had much time to awkward scroll down his phone and places two coffees on the table.

“What is this?” Dan asks as he lifts his coffee mug to his nose to give it a sniff.

“Caramel macchiato.”

Dan looks up with a gentle smile on his face, “This is what I always get, did you know that?”

“Nope, it’s what I usually get. I thought I was about to educate you on the best coffee,” Phil laughs.

“I’m already educated,” Dan says with a wink and takes a hearty sip somehow without burning his throat.

Dan escapes his train of thought with someone who he is assuming is a waitress here, walking towards him with cake in hand.

“For Phil?” she asks as she places the cake down. Phil hums and she’s about to turn around when she opens her mouth again, “Have a lovely date, guys.”

Dan blushes and couldn’t bear to look in Phil’s direction for a few seconds but when he does, he sees the similar rose-tinted cheekbones and a smirk on Phil’s lips.

“What?” Dan giggles.

“Nothing!” Phil replies, lifting his hand over his mouth as he giggles right back.

There are a few minutes of silence when Dan occasionally sips his coffee and tries not to look at Phil because how could he look at Phil for more than five seconds without blushing?

He manages to look in Phil’s general direction to the cake in front of them. It’s a simple but gorgeous victoria sponge with a lot of buttercream icing and Dan’s mouth almost waters just looking at it. His eyes wander upwards to see Phil looking directly at him with a smirk on his face, only making Dan blushing more.

Phil coughs and lets out a soft chuckle which makes Dan look back at him once again, only to see Phil grabbing the fork that accompanied the victoria sponge cake.

“Come on then, have some,” Phil mutters, slowly moving the fork into the cake to separate a small mouthful slice. He doesn’t place in on the fork like Dan suspects he would, but instead, he picks up the cake in between his fingers and moves his hand up towards Dan’s mouth.

Dan thinks he’s joking so lets out a soft giggle, but when Phil doesn’t alter his hand movements after hearing Dan’s unbelieved giggle, Dan holds his breath. This is happening. Phil is going to fucking hand feed him.

Dan’s eyes flicker from Phil’s hand to Phil’s face and all he sees is a playful smirk still plastering his face, enough to make Dan gain another splatter of rose blush over his cheekbones.

Phil presses the cake against Dan’s mouth almost instantly reacting to the blush he can clearly see on his face. Dan tries to hold back a gasp once he feels the cake AND Phil’s fingertips against his lips. They feel soft and it makes Dan’s mind wander to what Phil’s fingers would feel like against his own in a hand hold or in .. other places.

He all but literally has to shake his head to remove THOSE thoughts away from his brain because in the middle of a coffee shop is definitely not the place for it.

It’s far too intoxicating though. The touch of Phil’s fingers. The look on Phil’s face. The ideas in Dan’s mind. The neverending tension between them, urging one of them to do something more. Something they both want but each too frightened to go for it.

Slowly, Dan parts his lips at the thought of Phil’s fingers prodding against his plump lips and Phil almost takes it as an invitation to push the rest of the cake into his mouth, not letting his fingers let go of the cake for a second. Dan's stomach turns into a bundle of nerves at the feel of Phil’s fingers inside of his mouth.

Dan could swear he heard Phil groan under his breath once Dan closes his mouth, wrapping his lips lightly around Phil’s lips. He didn't mean to trap Phil's fingers in his mouth too, but that happened and Dan has to own it now. He didn’t do it on purpose and he could easily lie and say he just didn’t want the cake to accidentally fall out of his mouth and not the truth that he wanted to feel Phil in his mouth more securely.

It feels like hours but it’s probably more like a few seconds before Phil is pulling his fingers out of Dan’s mouth. Dan could have sworn he whimpered at the loss but he didn’t think it was loud enough for Phil to hear.

However, that thought somewhat disappears from Dan’s mind when he looks straight at Phil and sees a startled face and a red face. He knows Phil heard the whimper but he’s past caring.

He watches as Phil reaches back down to the cake, tearing a delicate piece off with his fingers as opposed to the fork like last time. He pops the small piece of cake into his mouth, shoving his fingers into his own mouth as far as he did with Dan, never once letting his gaze fall from Dan’s own eyes.

Dan swallows in a panic. There was no way Phil was doing this in a fucking public place but here they were. Dan’s eyes leave Phil’s for a second to his lips, where he saw another fucking smirk. Dan has to bite back a laugh because he knew Phil’s fully aware of what he’s doing to Dan.

Dan’s heart’s racing and he has to look away before he did something far too impulsive. Dan was never someone for public displays of affection but he’d be damned if he didn’t stop himself, he would have bent over the table himself and kissed him.

“So,” Phil chuckles, running his hand through his hair, acting like he’s the one flustered. “How’s the coffee?”

Dan almost cackles. Almost cackles because Phil is being so casual after that.

“It’s good coffee.”

“Say thank you, Phil,” Phil teases as he picks up his own to take a gulp.

“I’m not saying thank you when I have this coffee every time I leave the house,” Dan splutters out a laugh.

Phil raises his eyebrows in a mock annoyance and laughs along with Dan.

~~~~~

 

Phil 3:03pm: thank u for coming with me today

Dan 3:05pm: it's okay, I needed coffee so I should thank u!

Phil 3:07pm: I cant wait to take u on another date

Dan’s heart stops reading the text. Like, he thought it was a date but he wasn’t about to say it to Phil, but now Phil is happily saying it like it was obvious this entire time, like Dan didn’t have the inner turmoil getting ready and the entire time they were in the coffee shop because he was unsure.

Dan 3:08pm: another date ??

Phil 3:09pm: yes that was a date right ???

Dan 3:09pm: u idiot I mean you want to go on another one with me, wow

Phil 3:10pm: of course, ur pretty cute Daniel

Phil 3:10pm: we’ve been through this

Dan’s heart swells when he reads the texts, again and again. Phil thinks he’s cute. Phil, the cutest person Dan thinks he’s ever laid his eyes on, thinks he’s cute.

Dan 3:11pm: hm I don’t think we have

Dan 3:11pm: care to enlighten me?

Dan smirks as he puts his phone down on his desk but it doesn’t take long before his phone is buzzing again and he grabs it back. Seeing Phil’s name on the caller ID makes butterflies swirl around his tummy but he presses answer anyway.

“Hello?”

“You’re such a tease, Howell.”

“Hm, am I?” Dan giggles, covering his mouth with his hand even though no one can see his goofy smile.

“Yes,” Phil sighs. “You know you’re cute.”

“I don’t actually,” Dan teases, giggling into his hand some more.

“Well, I know you’re cute.”

“How?”

“I’d say,” Phil pauses and Dan hears some shuffling on the other end of the phone. “I’d say you look particularly cute with my fingers in your mouth.”

Dan sputters out a small hearty laugh, “Wow.”

“What?” Phil laughs along with him. “You did.”

“You can’t just say that,” Dan replies.

“I just did.”

“Can’t believe you said that in front of all these people.”

“Dan, it’s literally just us on the phone,” Phil deadpans his expression, letting out a laugh at the end.

Chapter Text

Free periods never fail to annoy Dan. He HAS to be in at the same time as the students because that’s the rules but he doesn’t have any classes to assist until after lunchtime so what does he have to do in that time?

Strictly speaking, he knows he could catch up on some preparatory study work for another class. He could get well ahead of the work he has to do for tomorrow’s lessons. He could do a bit of light reading. But no, instead he decides to sit in the staffroom scrolling through Tumblr.

He gives himself maybe ten minutes tops of endlessly scrolling through pictures of cats and a few porn gifs that he isn’t even sure how they got they because he doesn't follow any porn blogs before someone comes barging through the staffroom door.

“-and this is the staffroom,” The man who comes barging through the door exclaims, raising his hands above his head to dramatise the entrance. Once the man turns around, Dan figures out the man who interrupted his precious Tumblr scrolling time was, in fact, the head teacher of the school, Mr Jones. Mr Jones was a generic white man if Dan ever saw one but he seemed harmless enough. “Ah, Daniel. Just the guy I was looking to see!”

Huh? Dan swallows as he realises his free period time actually has plans today. “Hi Mr Jones, what can I do for you?”

Mr Jones laughs and pats Dan on his back, far too aggressive Dan thinks but maybe he’s just too weak for a straight white man’s hand. His hand pushes Dan forward until he’s greeted with a small petite looking girl with bright purple hair and if Dan’s eyes served him well, a few piercings that clearly had clear studs in, in an attempt to hide them.

“This is Rosa. She’s new and I was wondering if she could just shadow you for today so she can find her feet here?”

Dan didn’t expect that, but he nods and agrees anyway. “Oh yeah, of course, that’s more than fine!”

“Good,” Mr Jones slaps the back of Dan again and this time Dan is definitely sure that was far too hard for a generic lad thing.

Mr Jones leaves just as quickly as he came and Dan’s left in the staffroom with a new teaching assistant, Rosa.

“Hi,” Dan says awkwardly, playing with the hem of his shirt.

Rosa laughs, walking to sit down right where Dan was actually sitting before he was interrupted. “How’s your back?”

Oh. Right. Maybe Mr Jones is heavy handed with everyone.

Dan laughs, awkwardly rubbing his back. He eventually follows and sits down across from Rosa in a spare seat, putting his feet on the coffee table as he relaxes. He looks up to find Rosa studying him.

He frowns his facial features before speaking, “What?”

“Nothing!”

“Clearly something.”

“Nope.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

“Oh okay,” Dan mutters, reaching to grab his phone to return to Tumblr.

“You’re not much of a talker are you, Daniel?” Rosa giggles, as he mimics Dan’s posture opposite him, placing her feet on the table so close to Dan’s that they rub against his shoes when she wiggles them.

“You were the one who was staring at me and when I questioned you, you said nothing was up!” Dan argues back, rolling his eyes as he does so.

“Wow someone’s aggressive today,” Rosa teases as she knocks her feet against Dan’s in a playful way. “It makes you look cuter than usual.”

“Than usual?” Dan raises his eyebrows.

“Don’t worry I’m not a stalker,” Rosa laughs as she raises her hands up in the air. “I just mean you shouting makes you look cuter than before when you were an awkward mess.”

“I wasn’t awkward!”

“When Jones slapped your back, you literally looked like he shit in the hands he slapped you with,” Rosa laughs louder.

“Weird way to put it, but I did not!” Dan whines.

“Whining doesn’t make you look cute, though Dan.”

“Quit calling me cute.”

“But you ar-“

“Stooooooppppppp,” Dan whines again, releasing a loud cackle from Rosa on the other side of the table. He nudges his foot to gently hit hers in another attempt to get her to stop.

Just to save the day, Dan’s phone buzzes so he makes a grab for it and opens his text.

Phil 10:32am: hi I bought a new jacket

Phil 10:32am: and I thought you were the appropriate person to send this to

Phil 10:33am: [img.0910.1030.jpeg]

Dan couldn’t even attempt to lie in his own head because that photo of Phil took his breath away. He knew Phil looked absolutely beautiful wearing whatever the fuck he wanted. Phil could wear a bin bag and Dan would still be floored. But there was something about Phil in red that made Dan turn equally as red.

“Oooo, who’s made you turn into a tomato?” Rosa teases, making grabby hands towards Dan’s phone to take a look.

Dan shakes his head to bring himself back into the real world, “N-no one. It’s nothing.”

Dan types out a quick reply to Phil saying exactly how he feels about the jacket before throwing his phone back into his trouser pocket, away from Rosa. Hopefully, Rosa wouldn’t go there to try and retrieve it.

“Are you seeing someone, Mr Howell?” Rosa continues to tease, winking when she catches Dan’s annoyed gaze.

“Yes and no?”

“That’s a question?”

Dan hums because truly thinking about it, is he seeing someone? He doesn’t know. What’s the definition of seeing someone.

Dan sighs, “I’m kinda seeing someone? But it’s been like one proper date so I don’t know where we stand currently?”

“How do YOU feel?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you like them?” Rosa adds.

“Y-yeah, they are – Phil is great. You know? I really wanna make a go of it,” Dan replies, trying not to pay attention to the reaction Rosa gave when he name drops a man’s name.

“Well if you like him and really want to do something, then I say you’re seeing each other?” Rosa explains, shuffling in her seat to get comfortable. “I’m sure you wouldn’t get the wrong message and get your hopes up about that.”

Dan doesn’t fail to notice how she didn’t even stutter referring to Dan’s date as a man, being she was okay with him being kind of gay.

“Yeah,” Dan says as he bites his lip, thinking about whether it’s the best thing to say what he wants to say next. “I mean, we almost kissed the other day?”

“What?”

“Yeah, I think so?”

“You think so?”

“We had like, a moment?”

“A moment?” Rosa raises her eyebrows and wiggles them towards Dan.

“Yeah?”

“You aren’t sure?”

“No?”

“Run it past me, Howell.”

Dan sighs as if informing Rosa on his antics with a boy was the end of the world. It wasn’t, in theory, he wanted to speak to about Phil for as long as he could, with whoever wanted to listen. So he did. He quickly runs through what happened before his friend, Amelia, walked into his room – the entire time not bothering to look at Rosa to see her reaction, he didn’t want to hear that he was overreacting.

“And you think that wasn’t a moment?” Rosa teases as she kicks Dan in the leg again, something Dan was going to have to tell her to STOP doing if he didn’t want a bruise showing up on his calf.

“Shut up,” Dan kicks her back before standing up because he literally cannot stand any more kicking between the two of them. He pads his way to the kitchen counter to make another coffee before turning around to rest on the counter to look at Rosa.

“We went on a date Sunday morning – the Sunday just gone – and there was another, uh, moment.”

Rosa rolls her eyes at this, hinting for Dan to continue and to expand with the twist of her wrist.

“He bought us a slice of cake to share,” Dan explains, jumping up onto the staff room kitchen counter to get comfortable as opposed to leaning against it. He grabs his fresh mug of coffee and holds it in two hands, hiding his blushing face slightly. “He cut the cake with a fork and then proceeded to feed me it.”

“With the fork?”

Dan knows his face is about as red as a tomato so he didn’t really have to answer the question because Rosa would probably have guessed, “His hand.”

“In the middle of a coffee shop?! Holy fuck, Dan.”

“I know,” Dan blushes, hiding his face with the warm mug again.

“He fancies the pants off of you,” Rosa says casually as she stands up to walk over to the coffee maker next to Dan.

“You think?”

“Daniel, honey. He put his fingers in your mouth in the middle of a coffee shop. Nothing about that screams a lack of interest, don’t you think?”

“Okay, okay,” Dan closes his eyes; partially in disbelief that he had this conversation with someone he literally just met, but also because there’s truth to her words.

 

~~~~~~

 

Dan’s last class of the day is with Mr Clarkson and a bunch of year eleven’s. They are studying American history this term which honestly, is not Dan’s cup of tea but he’s managing to learn bits and bobs throughout his free time so he isn’t completely dumbfounded when a student asks him a question about the founding fathers of the United States.

Dan stands near the back and he watches the abundance of hormonal teenagers walking into the classroom, taking their assigned seats that they sit in every lesson. Dan doesn’t envy them, at all actually. He doesn’t regret wanting his high school career to finish quickly and he definitely doesn’t miss it. All of the sweaty hormonal teenage boys who easily use slurs like they’re going out of fashion (even though they definitely should be out of fashion by now).

“This week we’re going to be learning about the AIDS epidemic in 1980s America,” Mr Clarkson exclaims, raising his arms in the air like it’s the most exciting topic existing. Dan can’t help but muffle a laugh.

“Now who can tell me what the state of American politics was in the eighties?” He looks around the room and eventually points to Amy, a nice girl who Dan sometimes helps during the week in the extra assistance classes. “Yes, Amy?”

“There was a rise of conservatism and Ronald Reagan was president.”

“Correct!” Mr Clarkson practically shouts, jumping Dan out of his skin slightly. “What party was he?”

“Republican!” Amy continues, matching Mr Clarkson’s excitement and Dan can’t help but smile. He started working here with Amy being a timid girl who didn’t want to speak out in class in fear of getting things wrong, but here she is putting her hand up.

“Brilliant!”

Dan tunes himself out when Mr Clarkson speaks to the rest of the class about what America was like in the 1980s. Dan isn’t interested in this area of history, he tells himself, it’s okay to zone out. So he does and the next moment he looks at the presentation board, he sees something that he may want to keep interested in.

“Okay so in 1980s America, there was a rise in the infection of HIV and AIDS. It found its way into America in the early sixties but the outbreak dramatised much later. Can anyone tell me what they think this awful disease is?”

A few hands go up and Dan doesn’t fair to ignore the sniggers that come from the back group of lads. Mr Clarkson picks on a shy, timid girl at the front who has her hands up and smiles.

“Isn’t it an immune system disease that’s caused by HIV?” Katherine bites her lip when she answers.

“You’re right, Katherine!” Mr Clarkson offers her a genuinely warm smile and looks away to the rest of the class. “AIDS is a disease that affects the way our bodies fight off infections and other diseases. A person suffering is very vulnerable to cancer and other life-threatening infections like pneumonia.”

Dan can’t help but zone out again. He tries to love all history but learning about the AIDS epidemic in America during the eighties wasn’t on his top ten favourite history moments during university. He chose to do a general history degree instead of homing in on the classical period because he thought it would give him a safety net just in case he didn’t enjoy ancient history as much as he thought. He didn’t know it would go the other way around.

“-transmitted through body fluids in some very r rated ways,” Mr Clarkson chuckles. “It is mostly spread through unprotected sex but that’s not the only way you can contract it.”

“Yeah, sir. Isn’t it a disease for gay people?”

“Actually no! Whilst a lot of people who get infected with HIV are gay and bisexual men, it’s not always the cas-“ Mr Clarkson is cut off by the same boy at the back of the classroom laughing and opening his mouth again. Dan feels all of his body hairs lift up out of fear.

“But it is mostly gay people, innit sir?”

“No, James. That’s actually a particularly problematic thing to continue saying so if you could stop please,” Mr Clarkson mutters calmly as he turns to the board and changes the slide, moving onto how the stigma in America affected a whole bunch of people including LGBTQ+ people.

Dan is grateful because the casual homophobia was genuinely starting to rile him up and he was definitely going to try and keep this job.

It wasn’t like homophobia bothered him much anymore because it was simply something he just didn’t agree with. He didn’t think any of the things he’s heard over the years since expressing himself at high school and during sixth form but it still hurt to hear people in this generation saying that stuff.

Luckily, halfway through the class, Mr Clarkson waddles over and asks Dan to do some more printing for his next class and this time he happily accepts. He doesn’t mind leaving this class.