Dan and Phil are known by their friends as those two who should be a couple.
You know the type, the friends who are always together and always have been? The one’s that finish each other’s sentences, that remind the other of their parent’s birthdays, that love the same series and watch them in a marathon, curled up on a sofa in the flat they share and sweets balanced between them.
A couple, without being a couple.
It’s almost nauseatingly sweet, actually. When one starts dating their partner is always wary of the two’s closeness, wondering whether they’ve stumbled onto a complicated relationship and whether they should get out now. If they stick around long enough, they’ll find it is always that way. The pair will happily treasure their partner, but will also need time where they can lie in bed with the other and watch a film before falling asleep snuggled up together.
Sometimes this endears their current partner, sometimes it’s what turns them away. It’s just how it is.
One time in a drunken memory placed in a hazy pub which may or may not have been a mutual friend’s twentieth birthday, or even may have been a celebration for a new job for Dan. Well anyway, at one point in a great party Phil mumbles something about how they are ‘platonic life partners’ and from then on this is their label.
They aren’t bothered, the idea of them dating has probably crossed their minds at some point but had been batted away with amusement. They both love one another, but they can’t see themselves like that. It’s more like a need to spend every happy memory with the other so that they could both perfectly recount it. The recounting would probably be accompanied with amused glances at one another and halfway through they would just burst into giggles until the other picked up and finished the rest of the tale.
It’s just how it is.
The sounds of the background music of a video game filter through the room, absent for once of the accompanying sounds of the men swearing their way through the levels as they try to beat their high scores.
This is mostly because Phil had noticed Dan was yawning and practically falling asleep before the screen and had paused the game. Returning to the room, he carries the extra large blanket they keep in the living room for such occasions and slips behind Dan on the sofa, shuffling them both until he is curled behind the lighter-haired man and then tugs the blanket over them.
At the feel of the sudden weight over him, Dan sleepily rouses himself from sleep before realising it is just Phil. The two settle back down and leave the game on before them, too tired to try and find the remote to switch off the screen. It is usually about this time that Dan gets that thought in his head, Phil realises, and pauses in trying to pull the blanket back to cover his feet.
Phil smiles, sure enough, Dan’s voice gently says his name and so he lifts himself up on one elbow behind the younger man.
"One: Yes, this is probably odd to others. Two: No, I’m not bothered. And three: No, I will not get up and turn the TV off, do it yourself," Phil rattles the answers off with amusement in his tone before settling back down, knowing the other man is smiling and closing his eyes, all the questions in his sleep-addled mind now answered.
Their breathing gently filters out and the TV screen switches off after a half hour of sitting around doing nothing.
Perhaps, sometime in the future, they will get into long-term relationships, figure out what they’re doing in life and not see each other as much as they like.
Perhaps, they will heed their friend’s advice and try it together, find how they work and muddle their way through life together.
But for now, they are content. They are happy.