Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Implied Romance
"I honestly hate everything about myself," Dan confessed with a shrug, his expression nothing but apathetic. It was quite the revelation- even to Phil- but he didn’t make it seem that way. He may as well have been giving the time of day for the gravity he seemed to see in the situation. "Ask anyone I know."
Except Phil. Phil didn’t know. But as he sat there across the room, watching Dan record his latest answer to one of the many questions asked online daily, something inside of him broke a little bit. How had he not realized that something was bothering Dan? Then again, perhaps he had. Looking back, the young man had seemed a bit different lately, a bit detached. Sad. And, Phil realized, watching as his friend legitimately struggled to muster the answer to what he found to be his best quality, that Dan had seemed hopeless. He was slowly beginning not to care, and that could only lead to one thing. And Phil would have none of that.
"Dan," Phil piped up, cutting his friend off before he could speak again. His tone was that of concerned surprise, the way a parent would react to their child confessing they were on drugs. "Dan, do you mean that?"
From the brunette there came no reply. He only sat silently staring at the screen of his laptop, expressionless, not bothering to acknowledge Phil at all. He’d never done that before. Never, Phil recalled, had Dan ever treated him as if he were invisible. No matter how stupid whatever it was Phil had to say, Dan had listened. And now he had stopped. And perhaps that worried Phil more than anything.
In one swift, impulsive move, Phil rose from his seat, making his way across the room. It was seeing Dan like that which made him sadder than anyone alive. To see Dan, his best friend, his happy-go-lucky flat-mate (and perhaps soul-mate) with so much emptiness in his eyes, was enough to make him cry if he would let it happen. But he didn’t. He wouldn’t. Instead, he leaned down behind the chair in which Dan was sitting and wound his arms around slumped shoulders, resting his chin in the crook of his own arm. He and Dan had never been the touchy-feely type, which was more on Dan’s decision than his own, but Phil felt as if here, right now, when Dan looked like this, they could perhaps make an exception. Sure, they may’ve only hugged as many times over the years as Phil could count on his fingers, but maybe this was the time to start. Maybe Dan just needed some comfort, and Phil knew he could provide, and he knew he just wanted to make his friend happy. So he remained like that for a few minutes, the only movement being the steady rise and fall of their synchronized breathing. However, Phil didn’t let the silence go on for too long. The silence scared him. It made him think and when Dan was like this he didn’t want to think. Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal that his friend was this way. But to Phil it did. To Phil it meant everything and more that Dan was completely happy, and he had to make that happen.
"Do you know how much you mean to me?" the raven-haired male whispered, his lips nearly grazing his friend’s ear. It was quite the bold thing to say to Dan, just because they never spoke to each other like this. Their conversations never got deep, and neither of them were ever really sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Dan’s response to the question, however, was casual and simple. A shake of the head. Left, then right. Then left, then right. Then still.
Normally, Phil would have stopped there, chosen that moment to draw the line. But because his friend had been so surprisingly unfazed by the older of the two’s words, he didn’t.
"More than you could possibly fathom, I’m sure," he explained, his cheek now against the shell of the other’s ear. "You may hate everything about yourself, but I feel quite the opposite."
Phil hoped Dan understood. He hoped that the message was getting across.
The brunette blinked, the first facial expression he’d shown at all since Phil had confronted him. But still, he showed no emotion as he spoke. “You shouldn’t,” he replied. “You shouldn’t care about me. You shouldn’t hate me, though. You just shouldn’t bother wasting any emotion on me at all. I’m not worth it.”
"But you are worth it," Phil replied almost immediately, tightening his arms around his friend. "Why do you not realize that? You are! Dan, you’re one of the best people I-"
"Don’t lie to me, Philip!" the younger of the two interrupted, wrenching himself from his flat-mate’s grip and, storming towards the door. "Don’t fucking lie to me! I am not worth it, Phil, and I never have been, and I never will be! So stop trying to spoon me your crap about how you think I’m great, because I don’t want to hear you tell me things that aren’t true."
He quieted, standing a few feet from the door and breathing heavily from his outburst, and not sure what to say anymore. It wasn’t his intention to take all of this out on Phil, but all the same he was in no mood to apologize.
What Dan told Phil, and all the viewers that were intended on camera, was true. He really did hate himself, but it wasn’t just his appearance, as most people would assume. He hated not only his face and his body, but his voice, and his personality, his emotions. He hated how he would lie in bed every night, too tired to fall asleep. He hated that he couldn’t even be close to anyone anymore, because everyone just seemed so distant now, like Dan was in a giant bubble and everyone else was just watching from the outside. And here, he could see Phil trying to get inside of that bubble. But Phil seemed to be forgetting that you can’t get inside of a bubble without popping it, an doing that was getting to be an increasingly more difficult task by the day.
Dan felt as a hand lightly stroked the back of his hair, staring at the wall as he willed his eyes to remain dry. He really did love Phil, and he hated making him put up with this. But it’d gotten to the point where it was all too much to hide, and he just couldn’t play happy anymore. The hand trailed down to his shoulder, grasping it and lightly tugging, attempting to turn him away from the wall, away from the door, away from running away. But did he still want to run away? Even now, when Phil cared so much, did he want to try? He didn’t know. He felt as his companion tugged on his shoulder once again, wondering if Phil knew everything. Wondering if he was aware that if Dan got out that door, he was leaving more than this room behind. He hated to do that to Phil, to leave him, but he knew that his black-haired friend would be the only thing he would even miss. Nothing else was good anymore. Nothing else was worth it. But as he felt one more pull to his shoulder, he pivoted slowly, turning to face his friend with stinging eyes. Why was he bothering? Why was he trying so hard?
"Daniel," the older of the two whispered, staring with his ice-blue eyes into Dan’s own chocolate brown. And before his friend could ask what his friend had to say, he was pulled into Phil’s arms in a tight embrace, the other’s forearms meeting at the small of his back. Phil was nearly a head shorter than Dan, so perhaps it looked a bit funny this way, but he didn’t mind too awfully much. And Dan, well, he wasn’t sure what to think. Why was it that when he was done, when he was finally ready to let go, Phil had to come in and try and change his decision? Phil. Perfect, sweet little Phil who shouldn’t have had to worry a day in his life, and yet Dan was putting him throughout so much heartache. Why was he doing that to him, Dan wondered, when there was no need to? Why did he have to pull Phil into this?
Because Phil gave a shit. With sudden realization, in a short little burst, that was it and that was what Dan knew. Here he was, this whole time, thinking that no one cared, that no one wanted him, when right here in front of his eyes was the only thing he wanted himself. Right here, trying to keep him from perhaps making the worst and last mistake of his life, was the boy that was the only one that had kept him from doing this for so long.
It would hurt, damn, it would hurt, but at that moment, Dan knew he would hold on for Phil. He knew that he had to. He wound his arms around Phil’s slender body, resting his own head atop his friend’s. It would be this day that he would turn it around, he knew. This day that it would get better. And all because of a simple show of care.
Dan stared straight ahead, at Phil’s bedroom wall, at the pictures they’d made together and hung up over the years. And then, for the first time genuinely in a log time, he cracked a small smile.
"Thank you," he whispered. And Phil didn’t even need to ask what for. Because he knew. He knew.