The Kindness of Strangers - A Dan Howell fic
A mixture of excitement and nerves bubbled in her stomach as she jumped onto the mid-morning train to London. She quickly slipped into the free four-seater space in her carriage, glad that she could sit down and ready herself for the day ahead. She settled down, placing her scripting on the table in front of her and began to stare aimlessly out of the window, which she thought would continue for the 2 hour journey she was anticipating.
You see it was the day of her audition. Today she was heading up to London for her first round audition to drama school and the nerves were getting to her. She was well aware that there were more of these auditions to come as she had applied to more than one drama school and was looking forward to a life of auditions for actually acting jobs, yet she couldn’t help dwelling on the horror stories she had heard about past drama school auditions where they had forced the newbie acting student to humiliate themselves or otherwise perform mind bending tasks mid auditions. She shuddered at the thought. Determined to keep calm she decided to listen to some music and look over her scripting one more time.
About an hour into the journey, absentmindedly staring out of the window, someone shuffled into the seat opposite her. She turned to look at them and give them a small smile to show that she wasn’t going to be the crazy lady on the train when she realised that it wasn’t a random stranger sat opposite her, but Dan Howell.
A number of thoughts ran quickly through her head; should I introduce myself? Should I leave him alone? I don’t want to come across like a stalker! But before she could say anything she couldn’t help but notice that he looked extremely pale. Dan let out a large sigh and began rubbing his temple as he gradually sank into his seat. So without thinking she blurted out “Wow, you look like you’ve had a shit day?”
Dan made eye contact with her, brow furrowed in confusion at his neighbours sudden outburst. She claps her hands to her mouth in utter embarrassment.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry! I meant to say ‘Are you okay?’. It’s just that you don’t seem your normal self, it just came out wrong!.” Her face burned red and she stared down at her lap, cringing internally. But Dan laughed quietly.
“That was almost as awkward as something I would do”. He smiled sheepishly at her and she lifted her gaze to meet his eyes.
“Okay, let me try again.” She laughed slightly breathlessly. “Are you okay? You seemed stressed or upset or something?” Dan straightened in his chair slightly to face her and sighed.
“Well thanks for asking, I’m actually just hugely jet lagged and I fucked up timing for my train and missed a connection and Phil was waiting for me and now he’s pissed off…” Dan trails of and begins rubbing his forehead again.
“Shit that sucks. Look I’ve got some paracetamol here if you have a headache or…” She offers politely, rooting around in her bag.
“Oh my god yes please” Dan says gratefully accepting.
“Don’t worry I’m not trying to drug you.” She says, laughing.
Dan chuckles and replies a quick “I’m not sure I believe you” before taking a couple pills.
“Anyway” he continued “I’m Dan, I’m guessing you’re a subscriber?” he smiled kindly, but was obviously still tired.
“Well yes. I love your videos, it’s really great to meet you!” She says sheepishly.
“Yeah, I guess I don’t look that great but if you want a picture or something…” Dan started in a slightly resigned tone.
“…Oh, no. Don’t worry about it you’re super tired I don’t want to bother you.” Just as she spoke the food trolley began to rattle down the carriage, and Dan’s face lit up for a second.
“I would kill for a coffee right now, and I’m so hungry because I had to skip breakfast…” he awkwardly pulled his wallet out of his skinny jeans to pay, but his face fell when he saw he had no change. “Fuck my life.” said Dan as he defeatedly lent his head against the window, closing his eyes in frustration. At this moment the food trolley rattled passed and, taking pity on him, she signaled for it to stop.
“Two coffees, please. A bacon sandwich and an orange juice.” She smiles politely at the server. Dan, however, quickly sat up from his defeated slouch.
“No, you can’t pay for my coffee… I don’t know you and I don’t want to give you the wrong impression but..” He starts off quickly but she buts in.
“Dan you don’t owe me anything. I would have done this for anyone who is as tired as you. Don’t get worked up about it.” She pays the fare and then pushes the food over. “Seriously I don’t want to be mean but you look like shit. Drink the orange juice, the vitamin C will make you feel better and stop you from getting ill after being over tired.” Dan resists slightly and then his face dissolves into a weak smile and he mutters a ‘thanks’ before ripping open the seal on the sandwich and taking the biggest bite he could manage. She laughs slightly at his obvious hunger and he stifles a laugh too, realising what he must look like. Unfortunately the laughing makes him choke a little on the huge amount of bread he just stuffed in his mouth, thus making you both laugh more. Dan was now making a horrendous half laughing, half choking sound that had her in hysterics. People on the train begin to turn around and you both end up in a fit of silent laughter as Dan attempts to regain composure by hiding his face with a napkin. You both have tears streaming down your face before Dan manages to stutter out;
“Oh my God I’m so sorry that was really gross. I’m so awkward, I want to die.” He peers out from behind his hand which he was using to cover his face in embarrassment.
“Hahaha I wish I had taken a picture of your face, it was so funny.” She wipes her eyes and tries to slow her breathing.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t rub it in.” Dan mutters in fake annoyance. “At least I made you laugh, even if you were laughing at my pain!”
“Meh, haven’t you kind of made a career out of that though!” She replies lightly, smirking at Dan’s cynicism.
“Touche” replied Dan. “But anyway, what do you do for a job?” he slipped a little from his drink as he waited for an answer.
“Well actually I want to be an actor.” She said slightly shyly. “Today is my audition for drama school training which is why I’m heading to London.”
“That’s such a cool job! I wish I was an actor sometimes!” Dan interjected enthusiastically.”I’m a movie nerd as it is.”.
“Well you’re part of the reason I decided this was definitely for me!” Dan raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “You see as I was going through the whole process of deciding on career paths in school, you dropped out of uni and I just thought I was being pushed in the same direction you had been and…well..I just knew that acting was the best choice for me and…well I dunno…” She trialed of shyly, thinking that perhaps she had comes across a bit too intensely.
“Wow, thanks.” said Dan, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck, “I didn’t know I was inspiring the next generation of actors!” He added jokingly doing and over-the-top smug face.
“It wasn’t all you, you idiot!” She said, regaining her confidence. “I would probably have done it anyway. You just helped me make my decision! Can’t have you getting big headed now can we.” She laughs again and Dan pouts his lip.
“And there was I think I was all influential..” He says shaking his head and tutting. They both took a sip of their coffee and smile on their faces. “So what have you got in front of you?” He asks, gesturing the the paper scripting lying between the both of them of the table.
“Ah these are my monologues for today… I have Anne Boleyn, two Shakespeares, and a couple of backups.” Dan picks them up and begins to read. She couldn’t help but notice how peaceful he looked when he was reading, his head tilting slightly to the side when he didn’t understand one of Shakespeare’s phrases or a slight smile crossing his face when he understood a joke. Se gently sipped her coffee and tried not to stare. His brow furrowed when he reached the Anne Boleyn speech.
“What the actual fuck is this one about?” he asks slightly bemused, looking up and catching her eye. She lets out a small laugh.
“Yeah, thats a modern 2010 adaption and in that scene she’s carrying her own decapitated head and haunting James I…pretty much all modern plays are crazy and kind of dark so I wouldn’t trouble yourself with it!” Dan gave a confused and horrified expression and gently laid the piece of paper down. She chuckled again at him and just nodded in agreement to his reaction.
“Anyway, good luck with your audition today I’m sure you’ll be great.” He smiled gently, his face genuinely encouraging, small, delightful wrinkles forming at the corners of his eyes. Suddenly the butterflies filled her stomach again as she remembered the full extent of the upcoming audition. “God, are you okay you just went white!” he laughed slightly. “Look, we’ve swapped roles. Here have some orange juice it will magically make you feel better!” he jokingly proffers the orange juice and she looks up from the scripting to make eye contact with him.
“Thanks” she says, returning the smile, “actually I just got nervous again” The smile got slightly weaker as the nerves grew. “you see you distracted me earlier from feeling nervous and now I’ve remembered and I want to die.”. She made a caricatured frowny face in his direction and he laughed softly.
“Naw, don’t worry you’ll be fine. Where are you going next, we might be walking the same way? Dan says, gesturing out of the window. The train is at Waterloo station already and the nerves doubled in her stomach. The last hour had flown so fast as well. THey both begin to gather their things and stand up.
“Well I’m getting the tube to the Barbican because it’s a 5 minute walk from there.” She says, swinging her bag onto her shoulder.
“Oh cool, I’m on the same line so we can go most of the way together.” He says smiling a swinging his bag onto his shoulder.
“If you don’t mind, I’m a newbie here. You don’t have to stick around on principle, he can go if you’d like.” She didn’t want to seem like she was obsessed with him or anything, although she was really quite a big fan.
“It’s seriously no problem, you just brought me breakfast and I was having a shit day so I owe you one.” He smiled down at her as they shuffled their way to the carriage door and stepped out onto the platform. “okay, so you ut your ticket into the machine and the gates open for you…” he begins in a patronising tone.
“Yeah okay, I’m not that much of a newbie I know how a ticket barrier works you twat.” She chides back at him, eliciting a laugh from Dan. She doesn’t want to hold up the flow of people though so quickly puts her ticket in a steps through the barrier before she could cause a crowd to form. Taking a few steps forward she turns around to see Dan doing an appreciative face and nodding at her.
“Not bad for a country bumpkin in the big city!” he says mockingly over the heads of the crowd around him. You smile as he reaches the gates himself and ends up crashing into them. There is an instant pile up behind him and a lot of impatient businessmen sighing in annoyance. She laughs at Dan as he realises his ticket hasn’t been accepted and has to shamefully work his way against the current of people towards the guard of the other ticket barrier, a look of utter embarrassment on his face. When he is eventually let through the barrier he walks up to where she is standing, waiting and tapping her foot.
“Who’s the newbie Howell?” She says with mocking curiosity biting her lip to keep from laughing.
“shut up, shut up, shut up” mutters Dan as he walks past her, avoiding eye contact and heading for the tube.
It’s only a few stops until she has to get off and the whole way Dan was teased about his inability to use public transport. They both stood on a platform about the head in different directions. They both smiled at each other, both their faces slightly red from laughing on the way there.
“Well good luck today for your audition, I’m not going to lie it sounds terrifying.” Dan says with a smirk.
“Haha thanks for the reassurance. Good luck with handling the rest of the tube on your own since you’re such a newbie.” That earned her a playful grimace from Dan as he shook her shoulders in mock annoyance. They laughed together then Dan pulled her into a hug.
“Despite you turning out be really annoying, it was nice to meet you.” Dan joked, pulling away from the hug and revealing a very dimply smile. “You really have made my day better, you kind stranger.”
“Ah, well a bacon sandwich is a good ice breaker anywhere.” She giggles back.
“Hey, have my number so we can keep in touch.” said Dan, reaching for his phone. Her smiled broadened in excitement. “wait first, lemme take a selfie!” he added. They both laugh and squish their faces together to take a photo. She tells him her number and he dials it into his phone.
“Okay well I have to go now because I’ve got to catch the next one” she says rushingly pointing to the oncoming tube train.
“Oh right yeah! Goodbye, good luck…!” She waves to him as she scrambles onto the train.
“See you later newbie” she shouts just before the doors close, just in time to see him grimace in annoyance at the nickname. She laughed as the tube sped off. Wow, she thought. What a wonderful man Dan Howell is. She smiled to herself just as her phone buzzed in her pocket. She had a text from an unknown number. It read:
“i think i’ll call my next video ‘the kindness of strangers’
btw thanks for the bacon sarnie
love from newbie x”