Ficlet: Birthday Aesthetic
Dan woke to the shivery feeling of breath against his neck and a sleep-husky voice saying, “Happy birthday.” He weakly swatted at the face sending the air whispering across his sensitive skin, but smiled at the same time.
“You already said that at midnight,” he mumbled, not wanting to wake up quite yet. But Phil’s arms tightened around him and he turned in the familiar embrace to find Phil already wearing his glasses and a smile that matched Dan’s own.
“I know. But then we went to sleep, and now we’re waking up, so it’s like your birthday’s starting all over again,” Phil reasoned in a way that only Phil could. Dan wasn’t awake enough to point out the flaws in his logic, so he just snuggled in closer.
He lay there for a moment, letting himself wake slowly as he listened to Phil’s heart beating under his ear, then requested hopefully, “Mario Kart?”
Phil’s chest bounced Dan’s head up and down as he laughed. “You’re the king on your birthday. I am your lowly subject, and your wish is my command.”
Dan grinned. “My wish is to kick your ass at Mario Kart.”
Phil laughed again and gently moved from beneath Dan, getting out of the bed and putting on pajamas that indicated clearly this was going to be a lazy day at home, just like Dan had wanted. They’d go out with friends tonight, but the rest of the day wasn’t going to involve anything that involved real clothes. Maybe some things that involved no clothes, though. He eyed Phil speculatively, and Phil raised an eyebrow in response.
Dan got out of bed and pulled on a black t-shirt and pair of track bottoms, then followed Phil out to the upstairs lounge. Phil turned to look at him. “Your birthday breakfast order, Your Majesty?”
“Doritos and salsa,” Dan replied.
Phil nodded sagely. “Ah. We’re going for the healthy option this morning.” He glanced at the clock and amended, “Or this afternoon.” Then he headed off to the kitchen to raid their snack stash.
Dan collapsed onto the sofa and looked around. He loved the smoothly modern aesthetic of their new flat. No more creaking floor boards, peeling wallpaper, and leaking pipes. The new place felt much more like him. Like the new Daniel Howell. He was happy Phil had been so relaxed about the whole thing and had let Dan have his own way about most of it.
Phil brought in the chips and salsa, and for a quick moment Dan remembered the “fanfic” they’d recreated for one of the PINOFs. He chuckled, and Phil asked, “The fanfic?” It was eerie sometimes how in sync their brains were. Dan just grinned at him and nodded, then grabbed the game controller.
They played a couple games, taking snack breaks occasionally, and at one point Phil took a picture of him with his phone. Dan barely blinked, accustomed by now to Phil documenting his every move.
“You never used to bite the controller,” Phil pointed out. Dan looked at him questioningly, removing the device from his mouth where he had placed it in frustration. “You made fun of me when you first noticed that I do it. Now you do it all the time.”
Dan rolled his eyes. “That’s because you’re a terrible influence.”
Phil shrugged. “True.” They both giggled. “I’m going to tweet this picture with your birthday message,” Phil announced, typing into his phone.
Dan grabbed his own phone and said, “Then I’ll have to write my own birthday tweet, too.”
Their tweets went up almost at the same time, and Dan shoved Phil’s shoulder when he saw what he’d written. “Nothing about how great I am? Just a picture of me being a dork with a birthday hat pasted on?”
Phil looked at him and bit his lip, looking uncertain. “Did you want me to write something more…”
But Dan cut him off. “No, Phil. This is perfect.” He smiled to show that he meant it. He knew when his mum called to wish him a happy birthday, she would comment on how impersonal Phil’s tweet had been in comparison to Dan’s tweet on Phil’s birthday, but she’d never really understood their relationship. She didn’t understand that, despite his degree in language and linguistics, Phil didn’t show his love through soppy words. Dan was the one who said, “I love you,” most often, the one who gave Phil flowery compliments and talked about him in glowing terms.
What his mum, and pretty much everyone else, didn’t understand was how “I love you” could be just as effectively expressed by a happy smile while giving someone a free hand to decorate the new flat, or a teasing whisper against a sensitive neck, or chips and salsa for birthday breakfast.
Dan didn’t need flowery words. Phil told him in a thousand ways how much he loved him, and Dan saw it every day when he looked at the sleek new white sofa, the shiny metal handrails of the flat’s stairway, and the moonscape of their new bedroom. This entire flat was a testament to Phil’s love for him, even if no one else could see it.