Walking Through A Storm
This is for the anon that made me excited for writing once again!
Tags: Fluff, Angst
Summary: Dan keeps his fears in the shadows, guarded always. But his parents have always managed to bring out the ugly side in him. It’s time to stop running away and brave the inevitable.
Warnings: Homophobia, Anxiety
Word Count: 1.8 k
“I don’t wanna be here and I know you don’t too.” Dan’s pout
can be heard in his voice.
“Be nice, c’mon.” Phil is unsurprisingly, ever the optimistic.
They are standing in front of Dan’s parents’ house, bags packed for a day’s visit. The BONCAS win had made Dan’s parents, albeit reluctantly, assent to the career path Dan had chosen. It was a pity that an award had made them give in, but it was better than the strained phone conversations.
“It’s going to be fine, Dan, they’re your parents, they love you and will look out for you.” Phil pecks his cheek and gives him a small smile.
“Hey! None of this here,” but he can’t help but be more cheery than before.
“Got it, your Highness, my affection has no place in this city for I am a mere plebeian-”
Dan’s laugh is cut off when the door swings open. With the theme of change that has been going, both of his parents are there to welcome him. Dan immediately straightens and sends a nervous stare in Phil’s direction. Some habits do die hard. He is suddenly reminded of the first time he had introduced Phil and the nervous current passes through his body once again.
“Hello Mr and Mrs Howell! It’s so good to see you!” Phil sounds so genuine; it pulls at Dan’s heart strings. He finds himself falling in love with the man he is with over and over between smiles and candid words.
“Hello, mum and dad! Looking good!”
“Oh look at you Daniel, you look so grown up, you too Phil; come on in, can’t let stars standing outside the door for too long.”
‘She manages to sound even more sincere than me, the BONCAS really did something,’ Dan thinks, faking a smile. They step in the house, pulling their individual suitcases that Dan was ridiculously particular about.
Dan’s mum is talking to Phil, probably guiding him to Adrian’s room now that he is off to university. Phil’s face is honest and open as he listens to Dan’s mum. He doesn’t fight the faint smile that creeps up on his face.
“I’m glad that you have gotten past the bad parts of your life.” Dan’s dad stresses on the words bad parts in a way that makes his skin crawl. He begrudgingly swallows the bile and the disgust that threatens to tumble and flashes his teeth to his dad.
“I’m proud of you son!” Words that Dan waited his childhood to hear now sting him as his dad pats him on his back. He hears the words that are not spoken. ‘I’m glad that you are not with a man now, you are no longer an embarrassment’
His chest closes up walking through familiar halls that repressed him, walls that loomed over him trying to snatch away his identity. The house manages to make him feel small again; fear that he grew acquainted with and fought with, returning.
He unpacks in his room. Phil is in Adrian’s. Living in separate rooms is not foreign to them, but existing together should be natural in a homely environment. He thinks about the Lesters’ and their chattering and warm grins, a stark contrast to the coldness of his house.
The mechanical motion of putting his clothes in place is a respite from the negative thoughts. It should be comical really, if it wasn’t so sad; that he now 25 years old, sneaks in his boyfriend to his parents’ house.
“Dan, your mum and I are going out for a while; we’ll be in time for dinner!”
“Okay dad, enjoy!” he shouts.
His parents aren’t even bothering to pretend to entertain them. Classic.
“Hey,” Phil’s voice is barely above a whisper.
“Hi” Dan turns to face him. Phil looks tired. He has dark circles under his eye and his old hoodie fits a little too tight on him. He settles on Dan’s bed with his knees bent up trying to look as small as possible. He has his glasses on, a sign of weariness. He has never looked so beautiful, curled up on Dan’s old bed. He doesn’t deserve this.
A wave of anger washes over him.
“I can’t believe them. It’s 2016 and they still behave like this! Is it really so bad that I have a boyfriend. I thought they could change. I thought that accepting me being a youtuber was a sign that they would come around. But boy was I wrong,” he says bitterly.
“All I wanted was approval, ever since I was young. I am proud of you is not difficult to utter. He says those words now, when he thinks I am a straight lad, being just bros with you. Why is it so difficult to just accept goddamn! I’m not even close with Adrian because of avoiding their shit. When will they let me be who I am, when can I stop pretending Phil, when can I stop pretending?” He breaks down on the last sentences.
Phil walks up to him. “You’re too pretty to be crying.”
“Do you like me only for my looks,” Dan jokes.
“Uhmm yes-” Phil smiles and kisses him near his mouth. Dan laughs.
“Now that is what I wanted to see, my… animal cracker”
Phil kisses him on the mouth, firm and insistent. Phil’s hand is in his hair, tugging lightly. He keeps his hand on Phil’s steady shoulders as Phil licks into his mouth. It’s intoxicating really, Phil’s aftershave is all he can smell, his little noises all he can hear. There is a thrill in kissing someone familiar; he knows the curve of Phil’s lips, his tongue that is licking into his mouth, his teeth that bite his lower lip just the way that makes him mad. He moans, opening his mouth a little more, his hand now inching towards Phil’s thighs. Phil sighs-
“Dan, do you need- Oh my!” Dan’s mum barges in his room.
They rush away from each other.
“Honey, what’s the matter,”
Dan’s dad walks into the room. His face hardens as he analyses the situation.
“Come on, we were leaving, they clearly don’t need anything.” He leaves the room, not bothering to meet Dan’s eyes.
The sound of the door locking matches the crack in Dan’s heart. He hugs Phil, who looks as disconsolate as he feels. “It’s not your fault” he murmurs between the crook of Phil’s neck. “I’ll just be back in a minute.”
Phil realises Dan needs to be alone. He takes these sentiments particularly hard. Dan is sensitive, way too loving. His entire being is filled with affection that he tried to hide under his ‘danisnotonfire’ persona. It is his honour to see him bloom into himself, a pure, tender man with fondness bleeding through him.
But Dan is not just this man he has come to love he is also an exposed child, craving for his parents’ praise. Phil can never relate to that, he is what he is because of his parents’ support. He can never understand what Dan goes through; can never recognize the tension that flashes underneath tight lipped words.
He will definitely understand if Dan breaks up with him. The warmth of parental love is irreplaceable.
Phil is pacing the room now, a habit he picked up from Dan. He keeps running his hands through his hair, messing it up and trying to smooth it again.
He keeps imagining situations where Dan breaks up with, his parents materialising behind him. It’s torture, really, mulling over various circumstances.
Dan’s voice breaks his train of thoughts. “Hey, sit with me in the living room for a while?”
“Yeah sure,” Phil nods. It’s all he can manage.
The living room smells musty, like it has not had fresh air in for a long time. It looks exactly how it looked when Dan left home 7 years ago; it’s an eerie reflection of his parents’ beliefs, he snickers bitterly. Phil and he are sitting on a lonely sofa pushed to the back of the room.
There is a clock ticking in the background, consistent. Its regular thud sends a wave of anxiety down his spine. The noise of the fan does not help to soothe his growing anxiety. Phil is holding his hand, his one connection to the world.
Dan’s mind is a whirlwind, his thoughts pitch black and cyclonic. Phil senses this and is quiet. Moments like these, with Phil’s hand in his and murky thoughts choking him take him to a place years ago, in Manchester with his parents’ voices in his head and a raging war in his chest. A lot has changed since then, but sharp words still reduce him to this.
Dan hates this, hates how deep cuts run when spilled with anger.
He has learnt to be strong all these years, learnt that can you build yourself up with love and understanding. He can stand up for himself and for his love, the cuts aren’t deep when sweet words fill them up.
His parents arrive home late at night. His thoughts have taken a steep turn from when they walked on them.
“I’m done, come with me,” Dan’s words send a shiver down his spine. Dan’s eyes are determined, his expression stoic and not giving away anything. It sends Phil down a pit of desolation. He lets himself be pulled by Dan towards his parents. He suddenly feels detached, feels all hope leave his body.
Nausea overtakes him.
Dan is no longer looking at him, his eyes ablaze and staring at his unsuspecting parents, but he tightens his hold on Phil’s hand. He tries to make that into a good thing, but it is difficult when he feels like he is staring into imminent despondency.
Dan clears his throat.
“I’m tired mum and dad. You both have tried to control and micro manage my life, you made me scare to be myself, something that I always have propagated. Congratulations on making me think and overthink all my actions so that I’m just a pool of anxiety and nothing else.”
Dan’s parents shift around uncomfortably. Their gaze settles on where their hands are linked, a single sign of intimacy.
“But I have learnt that it is okay to express myself, to not just exist but live like who I am. It has been a journey but there always has been a person I can rely on.”
He looks at Phil now, a small smile reserved for him.
“And I am not going to leave that person for the sake of your discomfort or the ‘humiliation’ you will face. You are homophobic, accept the fact. You don’t care about me. No amount of sugar you coat on your ugly words will change the fact that you are not concerned about my well-being.”
Phil can sense the change in the environment. He feel proud of the man he calls his partner. He flashes him a smile to see that Dan is already looking at him, his face open and fulfilled. Dan kisses him gently, hands still linked.
Phil doesn’t know what this means to Dan’s family, but what he knows as his heart fills with overwhelming fondness that Dan is his family and nothing will ever change that.