Title: A Cry You Can Hear at Night
Summary: If they had crossed paths only a moment later, neither of them would have seen tomorrow. (Phan, a little sadness, etc…)
Part: One of Three
Word Count: 2,008
Disclaimer: If I owned Dan and Phil, Dan would stop stressing so much about what we want and just get a video out whenever he damn well pleases.
Author's Note: I wanted to include Dan's family in this, but I decided to make them entirely my own original characters, because Dan gets so annoyed when people bring his family into stuff and I'm just gonna respect that he likes to keep his family private. Also: Sorry there was such a long gap between Messy and Irrational and Yet, Like a Dog. I'm a really stupid person who takes really hard classes so free time is hard to come by. Please give me some pity here.
It's not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
The power had gone out in the middle of the night. Phil's alarm clock was flashing "12:00" obnoxiously when he woke up, and he groaned before thrashing his sheets off.
Every part of him screamed to go back to his unkempt bed, but he was shocked awake when he groggily unlocked his phone and saw the time. "Crap!" he shouted, tossing his phone back onto the bed. He had under an hour to get to work if he didn't want to be late—and, if his boss's "be late one more time" threat yesterday had been serious, Phil really didn't want to be late.
Did he even have time to shower? No, Phil decided as he started tearing clothes out of his closet; showering would take too long, and he would have to straighten his hair too if he got it wet. Instead, he just added an extra spray of cologne and ran a brush through his hair a few more times than usual.
As he buttoned up his white shirt, he stared at himself in the mirror. He looked older than 23, he realized—not because he had older features, but he because he seemed to be worn down more than 23 years could have done. His eyes were duller than they had been a few years ago, and his shoulders sunk down a little more each day. Even after he'd finished with the last button of his shirt, Phil couldn't look away from his reflection.
Was that really him staring back? He found it hard to believe that it really was. He was a little disappointed actually. A few years ago, he had had such high hopes for his YouTube career; he had never imagined he'd be stuck in a desk job, doing paperwork all day. He could never have seen himself as the man he had become.
But this was his life now.
Phil sighed, letting his hands drop from his shirt. He took one last look at himself before grabbing his bag and rushing out of his room. He tossed a few energy bars into his bag, thinking he'd be hungry later but wouldn't get a lunch break if he was late, then quickly made his way out of the flat.
"Good morning!" he heard from behind him as he pressed the down button on the elevator.
He repeated the phrase on instinct as he turn toward the voice. "Oh, hello, Brit," he said when he saw the small girl behind him. Then he asked, "Shouldn't you be in school?"
Brit was his neighbor, who lived with her mother across the hall. She was nine and constantly regaled Phil with stories of her school and soccer team when she happened to meet up with him on the elevator.
She shook her head quickly and her blonde pigtails whipped around her head. Her eyes took an amused glint as she looked up at him. "Mr. Lester," she responded, forcing back a laugh, "it's Saturday." Phil must have had a pretty shocked look on his face because she immediately burst into fits of giggles.
"Oh," he said quietly, reaching up to scratch his head. He pulled his hand away when he felt how greasy his hair was. The elevator dinged and the doors opened, but he ignored it. "Thank you. I'm glad you told me before I was halfway across Manchester."
Brit laughed again. "Mommy said you're too scatter-brained to live by yourself," she said.
Phil knew Brit's mother, Mary, too well to be offended by that. She was an agreeable woman in her mid-thirties, who treated Phil like her son and often checked to make sure he was okay. She told him a lot that he needed a good woman in his life to keep him from getting too lonely.
Once, she'd been teaching him a cookie recipe and casually said, "You need a girlfriend to do these things for you, dearie" to which he'd nervously responded, "Or maybe, ya know, a boyfriend." Then she had laughed and mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like 'I knew it' before continuing on with her baking. For some reason, that had made him love her so much more.
"I think your mum might be on to something there," Phil said as he bent down to wipe cookie crumbs from Brit's face. "How is she anyway?"
"Still pretty sick," Brit mumbled sadly. "She can't even play tag anymore."
Phil smiled sympathetically. "Mono's still keeping her down?" he said as he patted Brit's shoulder. "How about this? I'm all dressed up to go out, so I'll go down to the shops and pick up a few things for meals since she's so sick. That sound good?"
Brit brightened immediately. "And candy?" she asked hopefully, beaming up at him, her bright green eyes sparkling.
He laughed as he assured her, "And candy."
"Yay!" Bouncing, she said, "Let me just ask mama what she wants you to get!" She ran inside hastily and came back a few moments later, shouting quickly, "She gave me thirty pounds to give to you and said to say 'thank you' and said to get mac 'n cheese and cans of soup and some cereal and lunch meat."
Phil took the money from her, shoved it into his pocket, and said goodbye before pressing the elevator button again. As he stepped into it, he thought, "Why did I decide to even go out in public on a weekend?"
Dan was woken up by the sound of his brother, Marcus, arguing with his parents. He groaned, rolled over, and held a pillow over his head. This was the normal sound to get him up lately—it was either this or his mum banging on his door, begging him to get up before dinner time.
"Would you guys shut up?" he shouted as he threw his blankets aside. Almost literally rolling out of bed, he pulled a shirt on.
After a moment, his brother's voice carried from downstairs. "Shut up, Dan!"
Dan flung his bedroom door open and stomped down the stairs to the kitchen. "What the heck is going on?" he asked angrily. He glanced at the microwave clock and realized it was four in the morning. This was just ridiculous.
"None of your damn business!" Marcus hissed. He was wearing the same shirt he'd been wearing yesterday and his eyes were bloodshot.
Immediately, Dan knew what was going on. "Oh for fuck's sakes," he grumbled as he turned to walk back up to his room.
"Watch your language," his dad snapped.
Mum was standing in the corner of the kitchen, arms crossed over her stomach. That seemed to be the place she retreated to when people were fighting; she'd just curl up in that corner and watch, tears pricking at her eyes as she watched the three men scream at each other over God-knows-what.
"What are you yelling at me for?" Dan asked defensively. He tugged at the bottom of his shirt, turning back to the conversation at hand. He wanted badly to go back to bed, but he was too stubborn to back down from a potential argument. "Marcus's the one who relapsed."
"Shut the fuck up!" Marcus screeched. He lunged forward to tackle Dan, but their dad grabbed him by the torso and pulled him back before a wrestling match could start. He fought against the strong arms restraining him but eventually gave up when he seemed to realize there just wasn't a point.
Dad looked sad for a moment. When Marcus relaxed, he let go of his son and retreated back a few steps. "Dan, just go up to your room. We'll be talking later."
Dan felt himself fill with anger. He was so sick of this shit. Marcus was twenty three years old, but he still lived at home because he had developed alcoholism in his teen years and "gotten sober" when he was twenty, only to relapse every six months or so. Marcus was bigger and stronger than Dan, but their parents always blamed Dan if he didn't stop Marcus going out to get drunk.
"About what?" Dan demanded. He refused to move from his spot in the kitchen. He could see that Marcus was eyeing him, but he didn't waver. "I didn't do shit."
"That's the point," Dad growled out. He wasn't a generally angry person, and he was only like this right now because of all the stress, but Dan still had seen him this mad enough to know not to interrupt him before he was done. And sure enough, Dad continued, "How many times have your mother and I asked you to do something when you know your brother will be in a risk situation?"
Dan felt the need to defend himself, so he shouted, "I didn't even know he was going out!" He threw his hands up in the air. "And why should I even bother if I knew he was?"
He opened his mouth to say something else, but snapped it shut immediately. He'd been about to mention something that they never talked about, something they were forcing themselves to forget. He'd brought it up in a fight once and his dad had immediately shut down, sending him to his room and refusing to argue any more.
Dad looked angered. "Because he's your brother!"
That was it. Dan was going to say it. He scowled and took a second to gather up courage then screamed, "Maybe I don't want to end up in the fucking hospital again!"
His family's reaction was instantaneous. His mother gasped and put one of her hands over her mouth. His dad set his jaw and shoved his hands in his jeans pockets. Marcus shouted, "Oh fuck off!" just as he started to stomp forward.
On instinct, Dan backed away as his brother came close to him.
Marcus noticed and hesitated for a moment. He stopped about a foot away from Dan then cleared his throat. He said, "I was drunk when it happened, Dan. And I did apologize."
"You were drunk when you apologized too," Dan bit out.
"Daniel!" his mother shouted.
It was the first word he'd heard her say this entire time, and it pissed him off more than he could explain that she only spoke to chastise him. He said, "What? What, Mom? What else could I have possibly done? Have you forgotten how long I was in the hospital? Are we all still avoiding the fact that Marcus probably would've beaten me to death if you guys didn't come home from your date early? So sorry, I'm a little bitter!"
Marcus stepped forward. "Dan," he said softly, reaching his hand out.
"Don't touch me," Dan growled. He slapped his brother's hand away. "I'm so sick of this. If Marcus isn't leaving, then I am."
Before anyone could respond, he ran up the stairs to his room. He pulled a duffel bag from his closet, slammed it down on the ground, and start shoving random clothes in it. He really didn't care what clothes he brought, so he stopped after he had the bare essentials. Then Dan quickly dressed himself before going into his bathroom. He slammed drawers open, noisily collecting all the things he needed. He shoved everything into his bag, zipped it up, and flung the strap over his shoulder.
He grabbed his phone and checked it. He had only one message, but it was nobody important so he just shoved his phone into his pocket and started stomping down the stairs.
Dan had barely reached the door when a hand grabbed his arm and attempted to spin him around. He flinched and prepared to defend himself if needed. After a moment, he realized it was his dad so he relaxed. Then he said, "I'm leaving whether you want me to or not." He walked out before his dad could argue.