CHAPTER FOURTEEN - NO QUESTION MARK
"We're going to get you through this," Phil promised, when they were both dressed in dry clothes, towels draped over their shoulders to stop their hair wetting their tops. Dan was sitting cross legged on the sofa, and Phil carried two mugs of warm tea over to him, and sat down next to him.
"I'm scared of so much, Phil," Dan mumbled, taking his cup with a grateful smile.
"I'm scared of a lot, too," Phil replied, looking him straight in the eyes. "More than anything, though, I'm scared of losing you. When I saw that note, I thought I'd lost you, and that was the worst feeling in the world."
"Even worse than…than…than being told that you have to have your arms chopped off?" Dan asked, his eyes sparkling a little bit. It was strange, the way Phil made him feel…maybe it was happiness. He couldn't quite remember what that felt like though, so he couldn't say for certain.
"Even worse than that," Phil said, shrugging. "I could make do without my arms. I could get prosthetics. But I couldn't get another you; not if I went to the ends of the earth and back again."
"I'm sorry," Dan said, shuffling up and resting his head on Phil's shoulder. "I…I thought I was doing what was best for you."
"It's okay," Phil said, gently running his hand through Dan's hair – which due to the rain was even curlier than it normally was un-straightened. Adorable. "You just assumed the wrong thing about what was best for me."
"I'm still not sure that I am what's best for you, Phil," Dan murmured into Phil's t-shirt, breathing his coffee and mint scent.
"You make me happy," Phil asserted firmly. "And that is all that matters to me. Genuinely, Dan, I cannot live without you here. I don't want to spend the next few months constantly looking over my shoulder afraid that the next time I look you'll have run off supposedly for my own good."
"And you're completely sure that you want me to stay here?" Dan asked. "Completely?"
"One hundred percent sure," Phil replied. "Didn't I make that obvious, outside the hospital?"
"I…well. On the way home, I thought maybe that was just your way of making me come back and…"
Dan didn't get to finish his sentence, because Phil grabbed his chin with one hand and pulled his face towards his, pressing his lips firmly to Dan's. Even as Dan tried to speak more, Phil just kissed him until he gave up and kissed back. Dan could feel one of Phil's hands tangled in his hair, and he was aware of every single part of his body throbbing and tingling. Dan tried to break the kiss after a few moments because he knew he had a point to make and Phil was stealing his ability to be coherent, but Phil held onto him, and gently teased his lip with his teeth, sending shivers down Dan's spine. When Phil finally pulled away, they were both feeling incredibly flustered and Dan could hardly remember his own name, let alone his point.
"Did that feel fake to you?" Phil asked, his face so close to Dan's that Dan could have kissed him again, had he not needed to answer his question.
"No," Dan breathed. "It felt fucking amazing."
"Today," Phil said softly. "Today is the day that we're going to start to pick up your pieces and put them back together."
"I won't leave you, Phil," Dan promised, running his fingers through the ebony locks. "Not now I know that you want me to stay. I'm not strong enough to leave, knowing it would hurt you too."
Dan sat in the middle of the sofa, tapping his fingers together and staring into space. He was alone. Completely alone. Phil had gone out alone, for the first time since he had realised how messed up Dan was. Dan hadn't cut for four whole weeks, and whilst that was great, Phil realised that he needed to test the waters. Because he knew how temperamental a balance Dan stood upon, and he knew that the only way Dan would get completely better was to learn to trust himself.
Dan hadn't wanted him to leave. But he had. And it had been the hardest thing in the world watching Phil walk out of the door, and just wanting to chase after him. When he was with Phil, the sun was always shining. Phil chased away the demons with his laugh and his cuddles and his kisses; with his kind words and his stupid jokes and his ideas of fun things that they could do. He was so normal, so relaxed, that Dan couldn't help but be that way too.
And it was true that he had slipped up. Many, many times in fact, he had found himself curled up on the floor and he had cut himself. And every single time, Phil had held him whilst he cried, and every single time Phil had bandaged him up again. Fixing him. Putting him back together. One cut at a time. Phil had forgiven him too, and comforted him. He had whispered words of wisdom into his ear, telling him that it was okay. That everybody messed up sometimes. And the thing that mattered was that he got back up again and kept on trying. And the trying had worked – to the tune of four weeks clean. No cuts on him at all. He was clean.
But when Phil left, Dan didn't know what to do. There was nobody to protect him from himself. He could feel the fear rising up in him, like a balloon full of blood.
But what am I afraid of?
Phil not coming back.
What if he doesn't come back? This could be him leaving, because he thinks that I'm okay now. He's just been biding him time, waiting for a way to escape.
Dan squeezed his eyes shut. He knew he shouldn't listen to them, he knew he should block them out. But he'd spent so long listening to them, that he thought that they told the truth. And now, he was alone, and they seemed like old friends. Or foes.
Dan felt his eyes searching the room for a weapon; anything that Phil hadn't yet managed to remove from him. He knew he would find something if he looked hard enough…there was always a way to hurt yourself. Heart hammering, Dan lunged for the phone.
Don't call him. He's trying to escape from you, okay? Just let him have his space. He's not been gone long, for god's sake, give the poor guy a break.
"P…Phil?" Dan whimpered into the phone.
"Dan, don't do it," Phil said loudly, stopping in the middle of the street. Dan was close to it, he could tell by the fear in his voice.
"P…Phil," Dan repeated softly and started to cry. I'm even weaker than I thought. Or maybe the demons are stronger. Maybe they've grown stronger with lack of blood. Thrived and grown.
"I'm coming home," Phil said. He wasn't far away anyway – of course he wasn't. He wouldn't leave Dan alone for long, and he'd sort of anticipated that he'd need to be within calling distance. "Don't hang up, Dan."
"Okay," Dan whispered, sitting down in the hallway, and wrapping one arm tightly around himself, choking on his sobs. Why do I give them so much strength? Why do I let them do this to me?
Because they're telling the truth. Phil shouldn't be wasting his life with you.
"Dan, take deep breaths," Phil said gently, shoving people out of his way. He was normally polite, but this was an emergency and they were in his way. "Just keep breathing and listening to my voice. Hang on in there."
There was no reply, and Phil ripped his phone away from his ear, gazing at it in horror as a message flashed across the black screen – NO SIM.
"Damn you Apple!" Phil growled, and he started to run.
See. See, Dan. Nothing but bother. Dan stood up, and walked slowly into the kitchen, chest heaving with sobs. He ripped open the drawer and fumbled, pulling out the first thing his hand collided with. He stared down at it, breathing heavily. Go on. It will help. Maybe.
Phil was struggling for breath by the time he reached the top of the stairs, his phone still held in his hand as it flashed uselessly at him. He was close to tears and screaming prayers to heaven that Dan was okay. But he knew he wasn't okay, because he'd heard his small, terrified voice on the end of the line before it disconnected.
"Dan?" He cried out, gasping desperately as he slammed into the flat.
"Here," Dan called weakly from the kitchen. Phil hurried through, chucking his jacket on the floor in his rush.
"D…Dan?" Phil croaked, his head reeling. He felt all of the breath leave his body as he stared down at Dan huddled up in the corner, both of his arms covered in red lines. "What…what…oh my god!" He didn't know what to do or what to say…there were so many of them…red lines everywhere, crisscrossing the beautiful arms that ten minutes before had been clean apart from the delicate white scars.
"It's okay," Dan said, smiling weakly, his face stained with tears. "I'm okay."
"N…no you aren't," Phil said, pressing his hands to his face as he panicked, trying to assess the situation from afar because he didn't want to get too close. It would make him feel more sick than he already did. Do I need to get him to hospital? Has he lost too much blood already? Do we even have enough bandages for that? I thought he was getting better.
"I'm fine, Phil," Dan smiled. Why is he smiling? Why is he happy? Look at what he's done to himself.
"What…what did you…what did you use to do that to yourself?" Phil struggled to get the words out. Anger seeped into his tone.
"This," Dan said, holding it up. Phil stared at it for a moment, his brain finally catching up with the missing details.
It was a red sharpie.
"Oh my fucking god," Phil gasped, striding over to Dan and sinking to the floor. "Oh my god, Dan. I thought…I thought they were cuts." He reached out and took Dan's arms in his hands, running his thumbs over the smooth skin. Red lines, drawn with pen, not blades. "Thank god. Thank every god in the world."
"I…I don't know why," Dan said, as Phil stroked his thumbs almost lovingly over the fake cuts. "I just…it helped. It was almost like I got my release just from the act of making the lines. Maybe I don't even need the blood anymore." He smiled tentatively and Phil kissed him, pressing him back against the wall.
"I'm so proud of you," Phil whispered against the soft lips, relief coursing through him.
"I'm kind of proud of me too," Dan said, with a crooked smile. "I beat them, Phil."
"Your demons?" Phil asked, standing up and tugging Dan up with him.
"Yep," Dan said, eyes glistening. "They're still here, but…quieter now…I think someday they'll be gone. I just have to keep winning, and stay strong, and…maybe one day they'll all be gone for good."
"Not maybe, definitely," Phil said, pulling on Dan's hands and walking backwards.
"Where are we going?" Dan asked, confused.
"The shower," Phil said, grinning suggestively at Dan. "You need to wash the pen off."
"And I can't do that by myself?" Dan said, biting his lip.
"Nope, I really do think that you need my help," Phil grinned as he pulled Dan into the bathroom and shut the door firmly behind him.
Dan sat in the middle of the sofa, tapping his fingers together and staring into space. He was alone. Completely alone.
Maybe Phil wouldn't come back.
Dan shook his head and stood up, grabbing his laptop from the corner of the room. He wasn't going to make a fool of himself like he had last time. Phil's whispered words in his ear before he left ran through his head…Be brave, my little danosaur. I believe in you, and I love you more than your demons hate you.
I love you more than your demons hate you.
Dan smiled to himself, and for the next hour he browsed the internet, reblogging things on Tumblr and being genuinely content. And he was alone.
Alone, both in the flat, and in his head.
"Phil, we need to talk," Dan said, standing in the doorway to their room. Phil was stretched on the bed, reading a magazine and sat up when he heard Dan's tone, his eyes searching his face for some clue of what was wrong.
"Are you okay?" Phil asked. It had been a while since Dan had last not been okay, but Phil was always watching. He knew he couldn't afford to let Dan slip away, back into the broken boy he used to be.
"Yes," Dan said, and he went to sit on the end of the bed next to Phil. "I am fine. But I think I should leave."
"L…leave?" Phil spluttered, the resolution on Dan's face scaring him, and the sudden announcement. Dan said it so casually, as if he was just remarking in the weather, or saying he needed a haircut.
"Yes, I think that I should move out," Dan replied, his fingers tracing patterns on the duvet. He looked up at Phil, and his heart twisted at the look on his face. "I love you, and I will be grateful to you until the day that I die, which hopefully won't be soon. But, I need to leave. I need you to know that I can live without you. I need you to know that it's okay for us to finish now, because you fixed me like you intended to all along. There is no need for you to stay with me anymore. What you did for me was more than anyone would ever have asked, and I love you so much for that. But now that I am better, I can go and live without you. I don't want to, but I can and I will."
"Dan, why are you saying this?" Phil said, not sure he was following, but sure that wherever this was going, it wasn't good.
"You can be free," Dan said, with a sad smile. "I'm not going to start cutting again, don't worry. I know now that it was never a way of helping myself, and I was just making myself worse the whole time. So now you don't need to stay with me out of guilt."
"I was never with you out of guilt," Phil protested. Dan stood up and shrugged.
"I love you," he said. "But I'm going, because I can live without you."
As Dan walked towards the door, Phil wanted to throw things at him, but there was nothing to hand.
"Dan!" He called desperately. Dan turned around and raised a questioning eyebrow. "Why do you keep doing this?" Phil said, clambering off the bed and walking over to Dan. "You keep walking away from me, and making me chase after you."
"I don't want you to chase after me," Dan snapped. "I want you to know that it's okay for you to move on now."
"And I don't give a damn about that, you idiot," Phil laughed. "I started a relationship with you because I love you, and I would have done so cutting or no cutting. I don't really care if you can live without me or not, because I'm pretty sure I can't live without you."
"Really?" Dan said, frowning in disbelief.
"Really," Phil said. "I thought your demons were gone! Stop thinking thoughts like that, Daniel Howell, because you are my boyfriend and I am in love with you."
Dan was scrolling through Tumblr. He knew he should be working on his video but he was procrastinating, as usual. A message appeared in his inbox and he clicked on it. It was an ask, anonymous of course. They always were, he thought wryly, shaking his head. He assumed it was hate, a declaration of love or nagging about his next video but surprisingly it wasn't any of them.
Has anyone ever saved you, physically or mentally?
He remembered that question being asked before, a long time ago. He'd answered 'Phil? unsure because at that period of time he had only recently met Phil and he didn't need saving then. He stared at it for a moment, biting his lip, and then he typed in an answer.
No question mark.
CRRRY it's over. I love you guys for reading it all, and giving me nice comments and being genuinely amazing, amazing readers. I love each and every one of you. And I hope you enjoyed it...if enjoyed is the right word huh.
I will be writing more fictions, don't you worry. If you have any ideas or requests for what I should write next, send me an ask on tumblr (lunaticphan) and I shall write for you. Because I owe you all a lot - without the reviews i'd have given up on chapter one ;) xxx