Dan came off stage- he hadn't really been thinking much, just reading the cards and blanking or zoning out like a zombie. He didn't know why.
Phil on the other hand had been trying desperately not to shake and deliberately trying to tense his mussels to keep still. He didn't have much to say, and he didn't want to be centre of attention.
When he came off stage after the run through he had been in a trance of reading, smiling and standing perfectly still. He just had to do that tonight and not freak out. He had no idea how good that performance was though, but he guessed it was okay as no one said anything but 'that was good, same tonight'. It still made him uneasy as he thought the expectations were not ones he could for-fill.
"How did you think that went?" Dan said once the pair had got back to their room.
Phil had lost the ability to talk after the performance. His thumbs fumbled around themselves as Phil looked down to the floor.
"Ph-Phil, are you okay?" Dan sounded increasingly worried.
"Umm. Yeah, I'm-I'm fi-ine."
"You definitely don't sound it. What's up? Just tell me, anything. I'm here for you." Dan cooed to Phil, also sounding unintentionally manipulative to get the truth out.
That's when Phil broke. His trail of thought completely snapped as he fell down to his knees on the cold, hard carpet. Tears ran down his face gently as his trembling hands staggered to his face to try and wipe the anxiety away. Soon Phil's hair draped over his dark eyes and his hands covering the rest if his face. Dan stood for a couple of second watching the breakdown and observing Phil.
Oh god no. What am I going to do? he's completely lost it and the show is in an hour! He was sniffling on the floor in front of me. The carpet was collecting the sweet tears, he started shaking a bit so I lent down next to him and put my arms around his neck and back as my friend rocked on his knees and choked on his tears and own gasps for breath. I've never seen Phil like it, so it's not only awkward but confusing for me. He'd never warned me of stage fright or anxiety or whatever. This was a new and vulnerable Phil that was going to hold us back. Let's put him on the Sofa so I can talk to him.
"Hey Phil, shh. It's okay." I whispered.
No use as he probably couldn't hear me so I tried again.
"Come one Phil, just tell me everything. Phil?" At this point he looked up at me and made a little squeal but focused his eyes on mine.
"Sorry Dan. Lo-look, I-I don't think I can d-do this. I'm so so sorry." His trembling voice hitting me in the heart.
"But why Phil? Just please let me help." I pleaded
"I've never been confident performing in front of my parents, let alone 60,000 odd people. I don't have the self-esteem that you have, I can't confidently say my lines without holding in bile and shaking my arms or straining to stay still and not faint! That's what I'm afraid of, blacking out tonight. Live on TV. And nothing can help me and the future in inevitable" Phil built up and threw up his words.
"Why didn't you ever tell me? And you're fine in the radio!"
"I never thought it was going to happen! And I'm not showing my face acting or face to face with people! Why do you think I don't do younows?!"
I could tell we were probably going to end up arguing, but carried on anyway as I needed Phil to face his demons and face the fear on stage and go on with flying colours.
"Fine, fine." I tried to calm us both down a little and not raise our voices.
"Look, I know you can do this tonight. You were perfect, if a little emotionless, in rehearsal, this will be absolutely fine! You've just got to go out there and enjoy yourself today. Okay?"
"Good. Now, how are we going to boost your self confidence in an hour?"
"Well... I can read my lines fine, it's just performing and knowing people are listening right in front of me, I hate being centre of attention."
His eyes were less red now and the last droplets of his tears melted into his face. He was blushing dramatically as I supported him to sit on the sofa. His right knee was shaking up and down rapidly. I put my hand on it in order for him to calm down a little.
I felt so bad letting down Dan and everyone tonight, but Dan could do it by himself. I just felt so bad. But that's when Dan came out from nowhere and made it look to easy. I can't do it tonight without passing out. That's when Dan put his hand on my knee. Of course him just putting his arms round me and taking like the way he did made my want to kiss his so bad. But I had no idea what to do.
"Look, you are going to be absolutely fantastic tonight! I know it. Just be yourself, relax! That's the key. Relax and enjoy yourself, who cares if you forget your lines? I'll just say it instead okay!?? You're amazing Phil, your personality shines and lights up anyone you meet. You're fabtastic! Okay, you can do this!" Dan almost shouted at me. Then he lowered his voice, making it seductively smooth and sexual. " I-I believe in you Phil, don't ever doubt yourself, you mean a lot to me, you know that? And I'm completely confident you can do this."
I blankly stared at him for a moment. Him looking understandingly into my eyes. Butterflies gathered in me, I felt alive and, just, brilliant! Were we about to kiss??? We slowly moved our heads closer to each other, well, he kinda just looked at my lips. Then to ruin the moment my iPhone went off. We immediately Parted, I sniffled a bit from earlier on. I got out my phone and turned off the alarm.
"What was that about" Dan quizzed
"Oh it's just to say we have 20 minutes until-" dan then broke my speech.
"No, I mean, just before that"
"Urmm." I didn't want to give myself away, not just yet. It didn't feel right.
"Nothing, unless, but, um, I don't know." I couldn't say it.
"Fine, okay." Dan subtly whispered.
I rested my head on his shoulder and wept a little more. He gently rested his head on mine and lent back to the sofas back. We relaxed for ages, I swear I was going to go to sleep, but the knock at the door startled both of us. I checked my phone.
"It's time" I sounded almost like a hero.
"Let's just get it over with then for you" Dan kindly gestured for me to go out the door first.
We walked to back stage. We could feel the euphoria of the crowd busting, the buzz of chatter and excitement made it an amazing atmosphere to be in. But also incredibly nerve-racking for us both.
I went to put my bottle of water back on the table but as I did, I gently brushed Dans butt. As I blushed I apologised.
Then the intro announcement came on. We were ready for our cue to go on It was so tense me and Dan held hands and squeezed tightly with white knuckles.
We stepped on stage together, quickly letting each other go.
"Good luck. Thank you" I whispered in Dans ear as we embarked on our 30 minutes of hell on stage.