Chapter 12

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Two best friends experienced Christmas very differently that year, one with an unwavering determination and the other with barely enough to get him through the day.  Both were looking forward to New Years, but for two very opposing reasons; well, if accepting to keep a friendship and confessing love are opposing.  Neither knew of the other's inner turmoil, though, and nervousness prevented most all contact.

-

The day of Chris's party, Phil was frantically running around his house, like a bat out of hell, trying to make sure he was completely ready and had everything he needed. He wanted to make sure his appearance was as pristine as possible to impress Dan.

His outfit consisted of a blue button down with black hearts and a pair of black skinny jeans.  It was put together with Dan's drunken monochrome comment in mind, and Phil had to admit that it looked pretty sharp. He didn't know if he'd go as far as saying he looked sharp, but he hoped Dan would appreciate the effort.

There was so much anxiety and insecurity floating in Phil's mind about how tonight's events could turn out, but his determination never faltered once.  And hours before hand, he was completely presentable and prepared how he wanted to be, in both mind and body. He was ready.

-

Dan did not want to go to Chris's party. Most of the people who had been at Louise's Christmas celebration would be there, and he definitely did not want to see them, not to mention that Phil would be there and he didn't want things to be awkward. He was just going to tell Phil he wanted to stay friends and then let Phil decide what their interaction would be like from there.

He glumly rolled out of bed and got dressed, obviously in all black as that was usual for him.  He couldn't help but think how accurately it seemed to encompass his emotions at this point as well.  After trudging downstairs with his head tucked and almost running smack into his mother in the kitchen, he decided food might help him wake up a bit.

Eating was an interesting feat for him.  Each bite felt like a battle as he lifted the spoon to his mouth.  He couldn't help it, he was dreading tonight.  With his mind in a different place, he gave up when half of his cereal was gone and the remaining half was soggy.  He had a few hours before he actually had to go, so he absentmindedly straightened his hair and scrolled through tumblr until he absolutely had to leave if he wanted to be there anywhere near on time.  He didn't want to be there necessarily, but he was ready.

-

Phil arrived at Chris's house a few minutes early, hoping to catch his two closest friends before the partygoers appeared.  Luck seemed to be on his side today, as PJ and Chris were enthusiastically pulling him into a hug as soon as he walked in the door.  "You're the first one here, and I hate to do this again, but could you help Peej and I set up this last thing?"  Chris asked as he stepped out of the embrace.  "Of course!" Phil instantly replied, ducking under decorative streamers as he followed them into the tv room.

"Ok so this is the plan."  PJ stated when they were all in the room.  "We have this sack of balloons-" he waved a bag around "-and I tied this rope around them so when someone pulls it they'll all tumble out.  Chris is gonna release them at the end of the countdown and there will be pretty balloons, yay. And maybe some glitter and confetti. The plan is to attach it to the ceiling, but Chris and I are just barely too short to reach."  "Alright, I see where this is headed," Phil giggled and nodded at PJ's sheepish grin.  "All you have to do is tack the edges of the bag to the ceiling."  PJ handed him the bag and a few thumbtacks, motioning to a stool in the center of the room.

Phil safely secured the bag without a single accident.  He was really hoping his luck would hold up for his confession later that night.  Of course, as he was thinking this, the stool under him wobbled precariously and he came crashing down.  His eyes clamped shut, bracing for impact, but it never came.  Slowly, he relaxed his face and opened his eyelids to see a familiar pair of brown eyes staring back at him.

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