Dan had been looking for a light for a while. He had searched every crevice, every rise and every cavity of his brain, but there was none to be found. Although, it is rather hard to see in the dark.
Depression was his nemesis, and maladaptive daydreaming did nothing but make him fall into much too realistic and much too long daydreams that could never be. Unlike all the superhero comics he used to love, he was no superhero. He couldn’t conquer the evil nemesis that overtook and pestered him no matter how hard he tried. He was never really the superhero type. He had a sharp tongue, a pessimistic view on life, awkward behavior in any and all situations, and plans with letters and razors that he was too scared to ever enact.
It was in 2006 when he, in his need for a temporary entertainment source, he created his YouTube account. He expected his excitement with YouTube to die down in a few days, like all his other interests, but instead, for some reason, he couldn’t let it go. Sure, his depression tried to make him hate it, and on some days, he would. On those days, he would hide under his covers and try to pretend that the cruel world outside didn’t exist.
2 years later, and he was still using that same YouTube account. He had discovered a YouTuber who went under the username of AmazingPhil. That was another example of something Dan had expected to die down in a few days, but instead his interest was piqued. He even decided to follow @AmazingPhil, whose name was actually Phil Lester, on Twitter.
A few months later, Dan had replied to one of Phil’s tweets. He never expected an answer back, but he received one anyway.
Dan conversed with this Phil for months before they both agreed on Skyping one another. At this point, Dan was a fanboy for Phil. Internally, he was a mess; his stomach was butterflies, and his hands were even a little sweaty. He had no time to be worried about what to say to start off a conversation, because as soon as an image was on the screen, Phil was talking.
“Hi! You’re Dan, right?” Phil asked from the screen.
“Yeah, that’s me. And I know you’re Phil.” Phil smiled. Dan inwardly cursed his awkwardness.
A few weeks later, Dan started posting videos on his YouTube account. He started gaining fans, quick, something he had never anticipated.
Dan and Phil skyped for a while, before Phil made the decision to ask for a meetup between the two. Who would Dan have been if he had refused?
The meetup was planned for September 3rd. Dan was twice as nervous as he had been on their first Skype call.
When the train stopped, he stepped off tentatively, before spotting Phil in the corner. He nervously paced towards him.
“Hi, Phil,” he said, smiling.
“Dan! It’s so great to finally meet you!” Phil smiled. Dan had never noticed the slight twinge of northern accent he had in all his words until then.
Too lost in his thoughts about how beautiful Phil’s eyes were, and how his hair was even blacker in real life, but you could see the ginger roots at the top of his head, and how pale he was, but how that paleness definitely suited him, Dan was caught off guard when Phil brought him into a tight embrace, Phil’s arms around Dan’s neck. Dan reacted quickly, despite that shock that holy shit Phil Lester, THE AmazingPhil, is hugging me right now and wrapped his arms around Phil’s waist. Phil, despite how creepy it was, smelled nice. He also gave really great hugs. Like, really great hugs.
Phil was the first to let go, and the first to speak.
“Do you want to go and grab a coffee? I know a great place just two blocks from here,” Phil smiled, making eye contact with Dan for just a moment more than should be considered normal.
Dan smiled and nodded in response.
“Yeah! That sounds great,” The two walked to the coffee shop and ordered their coffees – not to go – sat down at a little table for two in a corner, and talked about nothing and everything.
When it was over, the two promised to meet up again as soon as they could. When Phil had mentioned that meeting, Dan could have sworn there was the sun behind Phil, making him all that brighter. Although, despite having just met in person, Phil was easily the brightest person Dan had ever had the pleasure to talk with.
Upon their second meeting, things went similarly, but a little smoother since the two were easing into finally seeing each other in person more. Dan could never have been happier.
The two, after meeting, decided to make Phil is not on fire, a collab video between the two. That video became one of Dan’s favorites, not only because Phil was so affectionate in it, but because as soon as it was over, the two made love for the first time.
Give or take two months from there, and Dan was head over heels in love with Phil. On one night where he may have had just a little bit too much to drink, Dan told Phil his feelings. He didn’t remember Phil responding, in fact he didn’t remember anything from that night really. What he did remember was the next morning, Phil blushing at everything Dan said, Dan asking why, and Phil saying that even if Dan hadn’t mean what he said the prior night, he loved him too.
Within just a short amount of time, the two had moved into their first flat together. It was well sized, and perfect for the two of them. Dan could not believe his life had turned out so well.
Although there were still some nights when yes, he would want to die, where he would have to hide his razors on the cabinet, he never could. Now he had Phil, his role model and, dare he think it, savior, to help him. Phil, during these times, knew just what to say, just what to do, to make Dan not only think, but believe that life would get better, that this was just a bad night and tomorrow morning, when the sun rises, all this will be over and Dan will be even stronger than before. Sometimes Phil left Dan alone when Dan asked for it, but Dan knew he never was, because Phil would slide Malteasers under the door and sometimes Dan could even hear Phil outside the door, waiting for Dan to say he needed him.
One year later, just after their apartment in Manchester, they moved to London. It was a beautiful city Dan had never thought he’d actually see until he was and living off of retirement money.
During 2012, things got a little bumpy between the two. Phil wanted to be honest and tell their fans about their relationship, while Dan was completely and utterly opposed to it.
To date, that was the worst year of Dan’s life with Phil. Towards the end of 2012, things slowly started getting better. In fact, everything got better. That New Year’s Night, Dan kissed Phil, apologized for all he had done wrong in that year, and Phil did the same. The two, despite having spent plenty of nights under the sheets, loved each other just a little too loudly that night.
In 2013, things started going smoothly again. They got their radio show on BBC Radio 1, yet another miracle Dan could never have dreamed of.
In 2014, things went similarly, but got so much better. Their radio show, now called The Internet Takeover, began airing on September 1st. Dan loved the radio show, it was one of his favorite things. Every time he and Phil went into the building, Dan couldn’t help but look at Phil and silently thank him for replying those many years ago. Without Phil, he didn’t know where he would be. Probably in a coffin, six feet below.
Many of the fans called Phil a ray of sunshine, and Dan agreed wholeheartedly. In the depths of his mind, back in 2008, where everything existing as an obsidian pitch black was normal, Phil had been a small light, just like the sun through a crack in a cave, at the end of a seemingly never-ending journey where everything was futile. Somehow, that small light managed to be just enough to defeat the boredom and lack of interest that made up the darkness, and Dan had found his way to Phil.
It was now 2015, and Dan having the best year of his life. Phil and him had a virtual son on their gaming channel, DanandPhilGAMES, that had celebrated his first birthday, they had voiced cameo roles in the movie Big Hero Six, Phil had voiced a Crossy Road character that he had created, and they had made the seventh installment of the Phil is not on fire series, appropriately titled “Phil is not on fire 7”.
It was currently December 28, Dan knew that much despite his tiredness. He had shut his laptop off and was getting ready to head to Phil’s room to get in bed. When he entered Phil’s room, he saw Phil was asleep and quietly closed the door. He didn’t want to wake his best friend and lovely boyfriend. Phil woke up anyway, and sat up, smiling. It was then that Dan was flooded by a flash of light, and overwhelmed by confusion.
Dan sat up straight and looked around. There was a window to the side of him, opened and shining much too brightly for his liking. There was lady there is pastel blue scrubs, and she quickly walked over to him, her teeth overly white and a little too smiley.
“Good morning, Mr. Howell,” she said. “You’ve been daydreaming for a while. It’s been almost 3 hours,” she said.
Dan was confused, as any person would be. “Um, excuse me, what do you mean by daydreaming?”
The nurse frowned in slight confusion, before realization set it. “Oh hon…do you remember where you are?” she asked.
“No?” Dan answered, finally letting his reality and surroundings set in. He was in a hospital bed with an IV on his arm. The walls around him were all white. The bright window that he had noticed before was to the right side. There was an old timey TV mounted towards the top of the wall facing him. On the side of him was a sink, a restroom with a wooden door, and the door to his room.
The nurse replied, “You’re at a mental hospital, Ry Mental Institution to be exact. You were admitted about 2 months ago, in July 2006, after a suicide attempt, where you were diagnosed with severe depression and maladaptive daydreaming. Your mom thought it had something to do with this ‘YouTube’ thing, as she said you had been watching it recently, especially this account called “AmazingPhil”. She deleted your account on it soon after admission into here. Last night, you somehow got a knife and attempted again. You cut your wrists pretty deep, that’s why you’re in the medical part of our hospital…” she spoke, watching Dan carefully.
It was then that Dan finally noticed the scars on his wrists, the bandages that covered his right one.
The nurse spoke again. “You went back into a maladaptive daydreaming state about 3 hours ago, I just managed to snap you out of it. You haven’t had one this severe until the doctor upped your medicine amount. I’ll write a note for him to,” she said, writing on her notes quickly before leaving.
As soon as she left, Dan wanted to scream, cry, do anything he could, but instead he remained silent. His entire world crashed down upon him. His entire life, the happiness, the love, it was all construed by the evil in his brain to mock him. He had never met Phil. He had never loved him, he had never been loved back by him, had never made it to 2015. Instead, he was in a mental institution that he didn’t know if he would ever have gotten out of.
Phil, although in his mind, was a light that brought him out of depression. However, that metaphorical light turned out to be nothing more than a little bit too much sun shining through the window onto his eyes.
Dan never knew his brain could be so cruel.