"Do you love Christmas as much as you love snow?"
Dan jumped a little as he was startled by Phil's voice. They were currently standing by their Christmas tree looking out the window at the falling snow yet again. This seemed like a daily occurrence this Christmas, as it had snowed for at least a good hour every day in the week leading up to Christmas. And of course since Dan just loved the snow he had wanted nothing more than to stand by the sparkling Christmas tree and watch the fluffy matter fall from the sky.
"Maybe" Dan replied with a smile, gently tracing his fingers across the design on one of the shiny baubles on the Christmas tree "I may like Christmas a little bit more"
Phil laughed, moving away from the window and the tree before he knocked anything in their perfect little display out of place. Only a week ago had they finally got around to setting up the tree and they'd spent way too much time placing all the lights and baubles on it exactly how they wanted them. It was weird and really stupid sentiment, but Phil saw the tree as something really special because they'd decorated it together and had so much fun doing it.
"Why aren't I surprised?"
"You obviously just know me too well" Dan replied with a small smile, now moving his fingers to rub over the synthetic artificial tree branch.
"Do I really?" Phil asked as he raised his eyebrow more jokingly asking than anything else. Dan actually stopped fiddling with the tree branch for a moment, seeming lost in thought before he also stepped back from the tree and properly looked at his husband.
"You know, I guess you really do"
"I can't know you that well Dan, it's only been a few months" the older man answered as a frown found its way to his lips. He wanted to keep things happy and cheerful but for some reason the thought that he didn't know absolutely everything about Dan made him quite upset for some completely irrational and unknown reason.
Dan seemed to sense this change in the atmosphere and quickly reached out, laying his hand softly on Phil's arm. It was more just to distract Phil from whatever he was thinking about than do anything else but the gesture seemed to shock Phil slightly. The dark haired man's eyes flickered from the spot on the floor they were focused on before moving to Dan's eyes. They started into each others eyes for a good few seconds before Phil looked to Dan's hand and a small smile stretched across his lips. He covered Dan's hand with one of his and gave it a gentle squeeze before their eyes met again.
"Come on, lets go get started on a nice dinner"
"Are you really going to make a Christmas eve special dinner" Dan asked with a small laugh as he remembered their conversation from the day before about how Phil was determined to make Christmas so special that he wanted to have a roast dinner on Christmas eve and still have a lovely Christmas dinner the next day.
Phil was making his way out of the room towards the kitchen already when he heard Dan's question. He just simply looked over his shoulder with a soft smile.
"Any excuse to make us nice food, right?"
There was something about a lit fireplace that always seemed to make things seem so calm and peaceful. Maybe it was soft glow that lit the room, or maybe it was the way the fire gently crackled and filled the silence. They sat by the fireplace, both looking ahead at the tree in front of them as it sparkled almost magically in the dull room. The fire lit a good portion of the room but of course Dan couldn't resist lighting a few tea lights to make the atmosphere all the more perfect. He didn't exactly know why he wanted to create such a perfect atmosphere, but he felt that both he and Phil deserved to be in a calm, peaceful room after all the drama and stress they'd been through with the run up to Christmas.
Although Dan was enjoying the silence between them, Phil looked troubled. He had a look on his face which Dan couldn't read. He knew Phil must be thinking about something to be so quiet and have that troubled frown on his face. But about what, was the big question on Dan's mind. What could he possibly be thinking about to make him look so troubled when everything was so perfect?
"You know, these past few years, Christmas has been such a miserable time for me. I always hoped the next Christmas would be the one where I would finally feel happy again. And believe it or not, for a longest time, I thought I couldn't be happy" Phil said softly, his eyes still looking at the tree as he spoke. He paused, a tiny smile pulling at his lips as he shot a glance at Dan before averting his attention to the fireplace beside them "But you know, I guess I was wrong"
Dan was a little taken aback by Phil's sudden outburst. The boy normally liked to keep light conversation to make things less awkward. He never came out with such profound and serious things in their usual silences. This was totally new for him and to be honest, Dan was more confused than anything else. Confused to why Phil had said something like that. Because of course he must have been happy at some point before Dan came into his life.
"What about all those years with the people you cared about? Those must have been happy, weren't they?" Dan asked, keeping his voice just as quiet and soft as Phil's.
"Not really" Phil answered, his eyes finally moving to Dan "My family went through a tough time even when my dad was still here and so we never really celebrated Christmas with the happiness it was supposed to be celebrated with"
"Even if you're family situation wasn't the best, you still had him" Dan answered, finally speaking about what had been on his mind for quite awhile actually. Phil never seemed to talk about his times with Chris and Dan just couldn't understand why. Sure he'd told him all the horrible stuff about how his dad had set them up hoping it would fail. But as Phil had said several times, he fell in love with Chris. Surely even if someone wasn't the best for you, if you loved them enough you'd still be happy together?
"Didn't you have happy Christmases with Chris?"
"…I" Phil seemed like he was about to answer, but quickly bit his lip and seemed to change his mind "I don't wanna talk about it"
Dan sighed, leaning back on his arms and titling his head up to look at the ceiling "Okay, I get it. I know it's hard for you to talk about it because it hurts but you never talk about him…like, ever" He looked back to Phil, really trying to look into the older man's eyes now"…why is that?"
"Because I want to move on and forget. I want to focus on someone else" a small smiled tugged at his lips "Someone who I think looks really beautiful in candlelight"
Dan did smile at Phil's cheesy attempt to distract him. Phil smiled back at the younger boy "All I want to think about is you. Dan"
Of course Phil's distraction didn't work at all. Dan wondered for a moment why Phil felt the need to change the subject but then that same question that constantly ate away with him came to mind. "…Why me?"
"Why did you pick me? I know that you wanted to help out my dad and you liked the idea of me. But why would you throw away a dream of marrying someone who loved you from the start and pick me instead?"
"Well, It's pretty simple when you put it that way" the older man said as he now properly looked at Dan "You needed me"
Dan honestly didn't know what to say. A thousands thoughts rushed around his mind as he tried too pick a sensible thought to actually reply with "..What?"
"It's true. If you want to deny it you can but you know you needed someone, needed me. I knew you needed saving form the grief and guilt you hid inside about your mum to the pain you felt about the disagreements with your dad."
Dan just stared at him, completely dumbstruck and wondering where the hell this was all coming from. He knew Phil was good with words and liked to word things like this, but it still made him feel a little weird and honestly uncomfortable with how much of what Phil was saying actually made sense.
"It's not the lame sort of fairytale thing where the handsome knight comes in and rescues the princess from the evil witch, it's something a lot more plain and simple, but just as exciting" Phil finished with a grin, his happy little twinkle coming back into his eyes as it often did when he spoke about something he was passionate about.
"Phil, what are you-"
"You needed someone to see who you were, who you truly are on the inside beneath that security blanket you kept yourself wrapped up in so tightly. You needed someone to dig down deep into you and see all those cracks and imperfections. Someone who could find all those little details hidden away, so deep you yourself had forgotten about them. Someone who wouldn't stop, no matter what they found"
"Phil…" Dan tried to say anything he could think of But the only thing he could manage was a mumble of the other boy's name as his mind went completely blank as he tried to make sense of everything Phil was saying.
"You needed someone, you needed me to find who you are and love that person" Phil looked away for a moment, his face falling for just a second as a thought which obviously upset him crossed his mind. "Even if that love wasn't shown right from the beginning, I knew I could be that someone"
He gently reached out and moved a strand of hair from Dan's face before cupping the younger boys cheek with that irresistible smile present on his face once again. It was the kind of smile Dan had only even seen a few times. It was as if Phil saved his best smiles for Him and him alone, because from his smiles you could tell her was truly happy, and they were the most beautiful smiles Dan had ever seen.
"Is that a good enough reason?"
"I guess you really do know me too well. You know exactly what to do to make me fall instantly in love with you" Dan said with smile an a very obvious hint of sarcasm to his words.
"Isn't that what prince charming's are supposed to do" Phil asked with a smirk now covering his face as he looked at Dan smugly.
"I thought you said this wasn't a fairytale?"
"I said it wasn't lame fairytale. I can still be cool knight in shinning armour"
"You're more like a dork in shinning armour" Dan said with a laugh as he leaned against Phil's shoulder and took a in quick breath to try form his next sentence "You'll be demoted to a palace boy if you keep this up"
Phil actually pouted, looking down for a second as if his feelings were actually hurt. He could be such a kid sometimes and Dan was really starting to love that about the older boy.
"His highness is so mean to his knight"
"His highness thinks his knight is a huge nerd"
"Well, his knight is hugely offended and thinks his Highness is also a huge nerd"
"Shut up you" Dan grinned as he nudged Phil slightly. Phil dramatically stumbled backwards and actually landed right on his back. He grinned and began to laugh as he stared up at the ceiling which of course made Dan's small chuckle turn into a great big laugh too.
Dan decided that maybe spending Christmas with Phil was going to be a lot more fun than he originally thought it would be.
Meeting for coffee with PJ had become something which Dan really enjoyed and had become accustomed too. It was more just for the fact that no matter what PJ was still his best friend and of course he always needed someone to talk to apart from Phil. Phil was great and all, but he still felt as though there were things you were supposed to say to your husband and things meant especially for your best friend.
"I'm glad we finally got to hang out again, It's been awhile" PJ said, a small smile appearing on his lips and he took a quick sip from the coffee cup in his hand.
"Yeah, me too. I missed you Peej" Dan replied with a matching smile on his face as he ran his fingers over the smooth surface of the hot cup in front of him.
"I missed you too. It's no fun my best friend being away with his husband all the time"
"Oh shh, I'm not always with him" Dan grinned, wanting to reach across the table and nudge his friend, but deciding against it because honestly he didn't want coffee to be spilled everywhere. "You've been busy too, don't lie"
PJ just smiled in response instead of answering. Dan knew exactly what PJ had been busy with since he had seen PJ with a very attractive girl who he knew for a fact PJ had a lot more than platonic feelings for. She was a quiet girl named Sophie who was into everything he was into which made them such a perfect couple. If they had realised their feelings for each other and acted on them yet, Dan didn't know. But he knew for sure that eventually they would end up together and he definitely would never hear the end of how great Sophie is.
"So…anything new with your mum?"
Dan was broken out of his thoughts by PJ's voice, taking a second to realise what his friend has said before his stomach seemed to lurch and he quickly tried to clear his mind before the inevitable happened and he remembered about that whole situation.
"I um…I don't wanna really talk about it" he managed to gush out, averting his eyes back to the steaming cup in front of him "How was Christmas?"
PJ seemed to realise the mistake he'd made and gave a Dan a curt little nod before smiling and moving on to what he was about to say like nothing had happened. "Oh you know, just the usual. Went to Manchester with my parents to visit my gran like we do every year"
Dan tried to listen, he really did. But his mind began to wonder as always and before he knew it he was reliving his and Phil's conversation from Christmas eve. The fact Phil had dodged the question about Chris still bothered him. It was really stupid he knew that. But he just felt like for some reason he needed to know everything about Chris and how Phil felt about him. It wasn't exactly that Dan was worried that Phil was still hung up on his dead ex-husband, but it just seemed crazy to Dan they he really just never wanted to talk about the times they spent together.
"…Dan?" PJ asked in a softly, his voice full of concern as he tried to look into his very distressed looking friend's eyes.
"Sorry, I was just thinking…" Dan mumbled, shaking his head slightly as if to try place himself back into reality.
Dan looked hesitant about answering but eventually managed to push the words out "I just did what Phil did, saying I didn't wanna talk about it and changing the subject"
"Wait, when did he do that?" PJ asked, the concern gone from his voice and his face with a look of confusion on it now.
"At Christmas, we were talking and he shut me out like that"
"..Talking about what exactly?"
"Chris, I asked him about Chris and he looked so uncomfortable like he really didn't want to talk about it"
PJ looked thoughtful for a moment before looking composed as always and answering "Really? Well, maybe he doesn't want to talk about it because of the same reason you don't talk about your mum?"
"But…I only don't talk about her because it hurts too much. He's way stronger than me and plus it's been years since it happened. He should be able to talk about it a little, shouldn't he?"
"People are all different Dan, and they experience grief and loss in different ways. Plus, you know it's been the same amount of time since the incident with your mum and you said it yourself, it hurts too much"
"I just" Dan started, feeling defeated already as he realised he must have sounded like a huge asshole for what he was saying when really he couldn't talk because PJ was right. If he couldn't talk about his mum, why would Phil be okay talking about Chris?
"I don't understand him Peej. He tells me that he wants to focus on me now, but if the past if affecting him so badly, how can he do that?"
"Maybe he's trying to move on and forget. People spend their whole lives remembering things form their past and being hurt by them but they can still get on and live their lives"
He sighed heavily "It's just a weird concept to me I guess"
PJ placed his coffee down and titled his head slightly as if he was thinking about what he was about to say "The real question is, what do you want him to tell you about Chris? Why is it so important to you that he talks about him?"
"I…I don't know" Dan replied, actually surprised with himself that he really didn't know. "I just feel like he's keeping this huge part of himself from me. He can read me like a book and I know so much about him, but I don't know anything about him and Chris"
"But that part isn't important to your relationship" PJ pointed out "He wants to be with you and whatever he went through with his ex-husband doesn't have anything to do with what you have with him now"
He reached across the table and gave Dan's hand a little squeeze as he smiled at his friend "I know it sounds harsh, but maybe you should just let it go"
Dan tried to smile but failed as the words hit him like a ton of bricks "I just want know him like he knows me"
"You already do. Everything you know is about the man he is today, not who he was all those years ago. He might tell you, but in the mean time you need to focus on what you have now"
"…What I have now?" Dan asked, confused as ever.
"You do what to get closer to him, don't you?"
Dan actually stopped and thought about that weird sentiment for a moment. Of course he wanted to be close to Phil, maybe he hadn't wanted to at first but now he wanted to get to know his husband and learn everything about him. It was then that he truly understood what PJ meant. He wouldn't get to know everything about Phil if he constantly worried about what had happened in the past and what Phil was indeed like a few years ago. He was different now and Dan needed to learn everything about the man he was now.
"Yeah, you know I really do"