POLAROIDS // danisnotonfire imagines

love and war. they both end the same, don't they? (a collection of danisnotonfire [dan howell] imagines. requests always welcome). ⋆

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1. one - the plant whisperer

And remember Freddy—“

“Freddy?” You narrow your eyes, staring at the near intelligible list Phil has conveniently left on his kitchen table. It might as well be in hieroglyphics, it’s that undecipherable. “Who the hell is Freddy?”

Phil audibly sighs on the other end of the phone. “Y/N, I don’t know how I can even call you a friend.”

Dan and Phil are off to the states for the first leg of their American tour. They barely seem to be around at the minute, constantly travelling the world, hardly on British soil for a few seconds before they have to jet off again. It’s exciting for them – and of course you’re proud of how far they’ve come, like any friend should – but you can’t help but feel a little low when you have to wave them off, unknowing of the next time you’ll see them in the flesh. But, as you’re an excellent friend, you’d agreed to be Phil’s Honorary House Plant Carer whilst they were away.

Phil hadn’t even got on the plane yet and he was already ringing you to check that Norman, Margaret and Little Phil (as well as a whole mob of others) were getting on okay, like he’d left you in charge of a group of toddlers rather than a non-sentient gang of greenery.

You roll your eyes, but a grin somehow tugs at your lips. “I am doing this out of the goodness of my heart, Phillip, but my heart can turn pretty quickly if you’re too sassy with me.”

Fine, fine, I’m sorry,” Phil says, worry creeping into his tone as for the welfare of his plants, “Freddy is the succulent on the bathroom window-sill, and he’s been looking a bit peaky recently, so can you keep an eye on him?”

You unscrew the cap on a red felt-tip left haphazardly on the side and scrawl a quick reminder – Freddy (bathroom succulent) ill – because not one of Phil’s helpful notes looks anything remotely like that request. “Aha. Okay. Anything else?”

“Er—no, I think that’s it,” Phil concludes, “Thank you so much for this, Y/N. I’ll make sure to get you loads of American candy while we’re away – that’s if they’re all still alive. Especially Norman. We’ve been through a lot together.”

Ah, American candy – now that is motivation to attend to your task to the best of your ability. You just about manage to stifle a giggle. “Well, have a good time. Send me loads of pictures.”

Will do!” Phil replies brightly, clearly excited about what this venture has in store for him. A pang of something shudders through your gut. It’s not jealousy – you could never be jealous of their success and how happy it made them – but more how you can’t share this with them. You’re stuck in London, as per usual. “We’ll both miss you.”

The both is what makes your heartbeat stutter. Phil is your lovely, energetic, sunshine of a best friend, but Dan—for ages you would have said the same thing (but maybe a bit more of the sarcastic, soulless variety), but something has changed between the two of you that is hard to pin down. A crescendo of near-misses, “accidental” hand brushes, suggestive text messages and an interrupted moment whilst baking have left you on the edge of this precipice, wondering if you and Dan are headed into unknown territory.

But now he’s going to America for three months, and the sparks you’ve been accumulating were inevitably going to burn out. You’re still unsure how you feel about this, but your heart is screaming don’t let them die.

“Is Dan there?” you ask, not trying to give away anything with your tone.

He’s just gone to look in duty free,” Phil reveals, “Do you want me to—“

“No!” you exclaim a little too quickly; your cheeks flush, because Phil isn’t an idiot and surely he’s guessed. “No, just leave him. Text me when you land, okay?”

Phil, ever the excellent friend, lets your previous comment slide like it never happened at all. Thank God this call is audio only and not over FaceTime, otherwise it would be totally unavoidable. “Yeah, I will. Keep my plants alive!”

You laugh, and any previous awkwardness created from your almost-confession completely dissipates, leaving an atmosphere of calm. Phil’s laugh is short, but it has the consistency of a hug that warms you from the inside out. Bloody hell, you’re going to miss them. Three months is way too long. “I will care for them like they are my own.”

Knew I could trust you, Y/N. I take back what I said before. You will be a great surrogate plant mother.”

“Thank you,” You accept your new title graciously, “And I’ll miss you both too. See you soon.”

See you soon,” Phil repeats your gesture, “Bye!”

“Bye,” you reply, waiting for him to hang up, which he does so instantaneously. When you look up from your phone and see Dan and Phil’s empty flat, the impact of missing them already hits you; like an asteroid thrashing through the atmosphere and into your ribcage. It’s weirdly eerie, standing in their living room on your own, like you expected either Dan or Phil to walk in tangled in a mass of miscellaneous wires and chargers at any moment. Instead, you were left with the thud of your own heart and a list of tasks—the two of them heading thousands of miles away from you.

You were stood in the exact same place—staring at something on the table, back against the open doorway—just two days ago when Dan had creeped up behind you, hands digging into your hips and giving you the shock of your life. Your aghast expression left his laughter hanging in the air for what felt like hours, and you’d slapped him playfully in the chest, but his open hands curled round yours and he pulled them closer—

Oh, bloody hell. When had seeing something in nothing become one of your specialities? You shake your head to yourself, picking up Phil’s crudely written objectives, just about managing to push away the ghosts for long enough to get on with your day.

-x-

Phil’s ever-growing collection of houseplants leads you on a mad maze throughout the flat, searching high-and-low for cacti and quickly checking that Freddy is alive (which he is, just about). You’re almost finished when the last plant on the list is followed by a request you can just about make out—Barbara – Dan’s window sill. With your half-empty watering can and hitched breath, you push down the door handle and permit yourself to enter his bedroom.

You’ve been in Dan’s room before, of course. It’s just unusual—and almost perverse—to be stood in there alone, and you feel like you’re not allowed to be there, trying not to look at the mess of post-packing clothes littering the carpet and the bottle of deodorant hanging lazily off the edge of his dresser. You quickly hop over the mound to the window where Barbara the succulent sits patiently, green leaves tipped with brown (thanks to weeks of unintentional neglect, you assume).

Barbara’s little clay plant-pot is hiding something. As you carefully shift her over, a smile tugs at your lips—she’s covering a sheet of four little polaroid photos, taken on a whim in the photobooth at Topman near Covent Garden. It had been your idea; after helping Dan choose between several pairs of black skinny jeans for what felt like hours, you’d dragged him in—one has you both pulling stupid faces, the other his lips against your cheek. You had no idea he’d kept them.

But that’s not it. Scrumpled to the side is a bright yellow post it, yelling only two words: Y/N – flowers. Flowers? You’d been in every single room of the flat, watered every single plant, but there were only ever green or covered in spines. There had been no flowers. Dan and Phil are not the flowery type and besides, if they could barely look after a plant that needed watering once a month, they were hardly going to be able to keep a bunch of flowers alive. You shake your head, propping Barbara in her rightful place. You’d have to ask him about it.

As you make your way back to the hall, you fight the urge to tidy Dan’s unmade bed and to hang up the mess of black back in his wardrobe. You can’t. It’s way too early for the ache of missing him to come to that. Get a grip.

You’re dragged out of your daydream as the distinct buzz of the doorbell rings through the flat, sending your pulse rocketing with shock. Are you supposed to answer the door? You’re sure they’d forewarn you if they’d ordered something to arrive whilst they’re away… But your curiosity wins, as usual. You buzz whoever it is in and bolt down the stairs, where a courier with the biggest bunch of carnations you’ve ever seen greets you with a grin.

“Uh,” he glances down at a card in his grip, “Are you Y/N?”

You narrow your eyes in confusion, a million questions running through your head. Who the hell would deliver—?

Oh. The yellow post-it. You fucking blind idiot.

“That’s me,” you say, unsure on whether to laugh or cry, bemused by the whole situation. The courier hands you the flowers, accompanied by a small card in an envelope.

“You’ve clearly caught someone’s attention,” the courier muses aloud, waiting patiently whilst you sign for them, “What is it, then? A declaration? Or an apology?”

“No idea,” you say honestly, breathlessly, the scent of the blooms totally overwhelming your senses. How did he know that carnations are your favourite? “Thank you.”

You’ve barely closed the door when you rip into the card accompanying the extravagant gift, eagerness to reveal the truth behind it all taking over everything. Only it’s a lot more truth than you ever bargained for.

y/n – okay so this is cringey as hell and not at all like me BUT I kind of (really) like you and I want you to know it, even though I’m an idiot and decide to tell you this when I’m literally on the other side of the world and through a fucking note tagged on to some flowers. I know it’s a big ask, and you obviously don’t have to if embarrassingly I’ve misread everything (please DO NOT mention this ever again if that’s correct), but even if Aidan Turner walks into your life and sweeps you off your feet, could you wait for me? I know I’m an embarrassing, socially-awkward idiot, but I’ll be your embarrassing socially awkward idiot, if you let me. –Dan

(PS I asked y/f/n’s name about the flowers. Please blame them if I’ve got it terribly wrong and you’re extremely allergic or something).

(Three months later, when they return, you’ve managed to magically resurrect a cheese plant on its last legs by the front door, sneakily replaced Margaret when you smashed her pot by accident, and finally kissed a boy that towers above you like a treetop canopy.)

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