Chapter 11

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When Phil woke up, his eyes were puffy and his face felt tight.  He all around felt miserable as last night's events flooded back to him. The clothes he wore to the party were currently twisted around his frame, his jeans felt constricting after falling asleep in them. His phone was by his side on the bed and he groaned when he saw it was dead. He'd fallen into his restless slumber hoping Dan would reply and hadn't plugged it in. He did so now and slouched down the stairs to get himself some cereal and ice cream. Breakfast of champions.

Phil dreaded having to speak with anyone today, vowing to avoid human contact at all costs. Of course that wasn't going to happen for Phil, his luck was so turned around. At this point, he wasn't even surprised when his mom barged into the kitchen, taking one glance at her son and then exploding with worry.

"Oh my goodness, Phil, what happened? Are you ok? Baby, talk to me so I can help you. Does this have something to do with that party last night?" Phil burst into tears immediately after she finished her onslaught of questions and his mother was quick to catch him up in a comforting embrace. Her hands gently rubbed his back as sobs wracked his body and indecipherable sounds spewed from his mouth.

"We were under the mistletoe, and everyone was watching, and we kissed, but there weren't any sparks, and he started crying and my heart was breaking.  Mom, I was so sure. I was so sure he was the one.  What am I gonna do? I-" His voice cut off as another whine escaped his lips and he buried his face in his mother's chest.  "Shh, sweetheart, it's gonna be okay.  This happened last night? With Dan?" Her calming voice washed over him as she rocked back and forth with Phil in her arms.  Christmas festivities couldn't ease Phil's aching heart, and neither could his mother's voice.  All he could bring himself to do in response was nod.

-

At noon, Dan was pulled from his slumber by a knock on his door.  He outwardly groaned, burying his face in his pillow and wishing his mom would just let him be.  He had a pounding headache and a less lively heart and he definitely did not want to put up with interaction of any kind.  That was not fate's way, of course, and she walked in with a tray of breakfast food and a wavering smile.  "Dan, I know you want to be alone right now, but you have to eat something.  I also think it would be good for you to talk about whatever happened, but I'm not gonna force you into anything."

With slumped shoulders and a drawn out sigh, Dan rolled over and gave his mother a gracious smile as he accepted the food.  He started timidly nibbling at his 'breakfast' with a look that closely resembled that of a caged animal.  At his side, his mother sat and rubbed her hand between his shoulders, waiting until he'd finished eating to speak up again.

"Baby, I said I wasn't gonna force you, but I want to be able to help you.  I can't do that unless I know what's wrong.  You didn't even say anything to me when you came home last night, you just stormed upstairs and slammed the door."  After hearing this, Dan somberly looked down at his hands, pulling at his blankets while his mother took a breath to continue.  "I could hear you crying from my room and it broke my heart.  I've haven't seen you this upset since, well..."  Her voice trailed off suddenly, submerging the room in an uncomfortable silence.  Dan did not need to think about that also right now.  This day was already going so well.

"Honey, please tell me what's bothering you.  I'm always here for you, and you know I won't judge you.  I want to help."  Silent tears were slipping down both of their cheeks as Dan choked out his response, "I don't think you can." Ms. Howell was quick to interject, "That doesn't mean I can't try."  She brought her thumbs up, then, to wipe the water from his eyes, knowing he would cave as he let out a melancholy sigh.

"It's Phil, mom.  I know this whole time I've been against soulmates, it's been to protect those around me, but I think it was also to protect me.  If I didn't get attached, I couldn't get hurt.  And then I met Phil, and I thought he was it, that I'd found my other half.  I guess I was wrong."

His mother waited patiently until he finished speaking before asking the question that explained the confusion in her expression.  "I don't understand.  You've been so adamant about not touching anyone, how did that slip up with Phil?"  "Well, I- we were at the party, and everyone was looking at us and there was mistletoe and someone spiked the punch and I just- we kissed and I-I mean there weren't any sparks.  That wasn't what I expected, what I wanted, and I could feel myself crumbling.  So, I ran."

His gaze turned up to his mother's face, tears spilling down his own silently.  "I thought I was in love, but maybe it's not meant to be.  I don't want either of us to be hurt later on like you and... You and dad were.  It's better to just push it away now.  He wants to be friends still, and I guess that'll have to be good enough."

At this point, pain was visibly leaking from both of their eyes as Dan buried his head in his mother's shoulder.  The agony of both old and new memories washed over them, and they clung to each other so they wouldn't drown.

-

Phil had broken from his mother some time ago and slunk back to his bedroom, immersing himself in blankets and books.  He glanced at his phone still plugged into the charger, but immediately regretted his decision as the page before him swam and blurred. 

Well, I guess it doesn't hurt to check now, the damage has been done,  He thought to himself as he stretched to grab his phone.  Blood rushed through his ears and his long absent heart thudded in his chest when he registered that there was a message from Dan.

From: Dan<3    3:54 am

Ok Phil.  I'll see you New Years.

His heart leapt behind his ribs now, up into his throat.  There's a chance!  I still have a chance!  I'm gonna make this right.  Phil felt a squeal sneak past his lips and heard his mother bursting through his door moments later.  "What happened!?  You didn't get hurt again, did you!?"  Concern was clearly evident in her voice as she scanned the room and then her son, checking for any hint of an injury.

"Mom, I'm fine.  Better than fine, really.  There's a chance for me to fix this.  Chris's New Years party.  Dan said he'll be there, so I'm definitely gonna go.  I'm gonna tell him how I feel."  Phil rushed to clarify his earlier outburst.  A quizzical look and mischievous glint showed on Mrs. Lester's face as she opened her mouth to reply, "And how is that?"

"That I think I'm falling for him, and whether or not we're soulmates isn't gonna change that."

"I KNEW IT!" A gruff exclamation could be heard behind the wall as Phil's dad sheepishly walked in the room.  "Dad! What on earth, when did you get back from work?  How long have you been back there!?"  "Long enough, and let me tell you something, Phil.  I'm so proud of you."  Mr. Lester enveloped his son in his arms as he said this and whispered into his ear, "Phil, I'm so proud of the person you are and how you view your opinions and the world and stick up for yourself.  I love you, Philip, and I'll always side with you."

"Ok, that's enough." Phil blushed as he pushed his father away.  His dad looked a little hurt by this, though, so he rushed to cover it up, "Love you, too, dad.  Alright now, everyone out of my room!"  His parents huffed but listened, his father mumbling under his breath about how 'he paid for this house and it was technically his room.' 

Phil didn't care.  He was gonna patch up everything with Dan.  New Year's Eve couldn't arrive fast enough.


A/N: I hope you guys aren't dying, I think this chapter was a little too angsty. I tried my best to liven it up at the end there with a little dad™ support.  Thanks for voting and commenting and really just reading this. I feel like that sounds really final, but we're not done yet! Still though, thank you all for accompanying me through this journey. I hope you'll like it still when it's through.

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