Word Count: 1,300
Spoilers: set during "Fears"
Summary: “Oh my God, you and Dad together suddenly makes so much sense.” Phil, Claire, and dancing: a history.
Author's Note: It frightens me, the extent to which Pepsi gives me writing powers. If only this fearsome energy could channel itself into my thesis instead ...
This is for the prompt "Phil/Claire, motion sickness" from noteasilywon!
Also: the more I think about this, the more I realize how much I get confused by the Phil/Claire timeline on this show. Sometimes it seems like they've been together since high school! Sometimes not 'til college! And, okay, considering the most recent episode, I'm guessing the latter is correct, but let's say for the sake of this fic that ... they started dating at the end of high school? Because ... prom is in the spring?
It's two in the morning. Thinking is hard.
The first time she danced with Phil (and after sixteen years, it’s usually hard to remember the first time she anythinged with Phil), he threw up on her shoes. In the back of her head, this has more often than not seemed like a fairly accurate summation of their whole relationship, especially when he’s forgetting to take out the trash or calling Dylan “my brotha from anotha motha” or getting mesmerized by Gloria’s magnificent boobs.
It was at prom, of course. In front of everyone, of course, including that bitch Missy Goldbloom. Claire’d spent painstaking hours dying those shoes lilac to match her dress, and then attaching little fake flowers to the buckles.
Well, okay, Mitchell was mostly in charge of the shoe-revamping process.
She figured Phil had gone out with his stupid buddies and gotten wasted beforehand, which really pissed her off because a) before the prom? Really, Phil? Really?, and b) way to totally not invite her. Not to mention that because they were surrounded by high schoolers, and high schoolers were disgusting idiots, when he ran out post-vomit attack, he left a whole room of admirers chanting “PHIL THE THRILL! PHIL THE THRILL!” in his wake like they’d just witnessed something spiritually transcendent. Which: ew.
“What the hell was that, you big jerk?” she’d demanded once she ventured outside barefoot and found him sitting on the stone steps, curled into what was more or less the fetal position.
“Motion sickness,” he groaned into his knees. “From the … twirling …”
“Bull,” she snapped, but when he started throwing up again, she led him over to the bushes (it seemed more vomit-friendly than the walkway) and rubbed his back. She justified it by figuring she couldn’t exactly go back into the dance and make a fabulous, non-pathetic reentrance anyway.
It turned out he wasn’t wasted; he had the stomach flu. Later conversations with his mom (who always looked at Claire with a glint in her eye that meant ‘Don’t think I don’t hear about the kinds of things you get up to, young lady, because I do’) revealed that he’d spent all day in bed writhing in agony and heaving up saltines. In between barf fests, he’d muttered, with delirious urgency, “Claire … prom … have to go … Claire …”
She wound up with the same flu a few days later. The fact that Phil even managed to stand up for more than thirty seconds with that bug, let alone put on a tux, pose for like ten minutes of pre-prom pictures, get into the car, drive, get out of the car, walk into the reception hall, and lead her out onto the dance floor – miraculous.
She thinks that maybe that’s the point when she first started loving him, and if it involves more vomit than your conventional romance, well. She’s fairly okay with that. Over the years, she’s become almost fond of it.
It’s not like they have time to go out dancing these days, unless you count taking Luke to the arcade and then watching Phil get way too intense about beating all of the kids at DDR. Claire does not count that.
Still, sometimes he’ll catch her at random moments. When Haley got the chicken pox at two, and Claire’s life became one big extension of her little girl’s misery, it was Phil who stumbled upon the genius discovery that watching Cinderella was the only thing that’d enthrall her enough to distract her from the itching. It was also Phil that stopped Claire from smashing her head against the wall when it was time to watch Cinderella for the fifty-fourth time. And Phil who paid the ten year old girl next door seventy-five dollars for her Cinderella tape when the VCR finally couldn’t take it anymore and gobbled up Haley’s. And Phil who found Claire in the kitchen, sleep-deprived and going on day three without a shower, in serious danger of accidentally drowning herself in her own cup of tea. Which was lukewarm and decaf by accident. He pulled her out of her chair into this wonderful, much-needed hug that turned into swaying that turned into Phil murmur-singing along to “So This Is Love” in her ear, and at that moment, she adored him so completely that he seemed nothing short of the best gift anybody could ever give her, thank you universe for Philip Dunphy, thank God for the day he threw up on her shoes and won her heart for keeps, because there was no one, no one, no one else in the whole wide world she’d rather have, not even Mel Gibson.
(For the record, that thought held way more weight back in those days, before he’d gone all psycho-nuts.)
So maybe dancing tends to get her a little sentimental.
She’s thinking something along these lines as she comes into the kitchen that evening. “I just dropped Alex off at the dance.”
“Yeah?” Phil looks up from the paper. He’s been battling the same crossword for like five days. He refuses to give up. “How’s she doin’?”
“Nervous. But better.”
“She’ll get asked to dance,” Claire says again, willing it into the universe, thinking of the brief flash of anxiety that had drifted across her daughter’s face just before she climbed out of the car.
“Sure she will,” Phil says easily. “Why wouldn’t she?”
He’s so earnest about it that she has a rush of stupid lovey feelings toward him. Feelings aided by the fact that he already did the dishes. “Maybe if she gets really lucky he’ll throw up on her shoes.”
“Mean,” he declares, pointing a stern finger at her. “You think Phil the Thrill wasn’t bummed that prom got ruined? Because he totally was. And – he already told you he was really, really, really sorry about your shoes. Which were very pretty. And then he told Mitchell too. Both the sorry thing, and the pretty thing. So your sarcasm, milady, is much inappreciated.” He frowns, rethinking his word choice. “Unappreciat—”
“I’m not being sarcastic,” she interrupts.
His furrowed brow makes way for a smile. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah,” she confirms, tugging affectionately at his collar.
“In that case,” he says, standing up with only minimal crashing-awkwardly-into-the-table action. “How ‘bout a little kitchen dance?”
She puts on a pensive expression. “I could be persuaded.”
“I won’t even throw up on your shoes,” he adds in his super-suavest of tones.
“Ooh, baby,” she mock-purrs.
He twirls her abruptly, making her laugh, then pulls her close.
“No music,” she points out.
“I got it covered,” he says, and starts to hum. It’s something familiar, and within like ten seconds she’s got it pegged.
“Is that Lady Gaga?” (Maybe there’s a secret surge of accomplishment at being able to pinpoint it. Who’s lame and out of touch now, Haley?)
“Is that really mood-appropriate? Like – isn’t that the one where she’s so drunk out of her mind she can’t remember where she is, or how her shirt got backwards?”
“Inside out,” he corrects. His eyes start to sparkle mischievously. “Takes you back to your glory days, doesn’t it?”
“You big jerk.”
“Just roll with it, honey. Just roll with it.”
She laughs and closes her eyes, resting her head on his shoulder.
She opens them again at the sound of—
“Oh, ew,” Haley groans, flouncing into the kitchen with Dylan trailing behind her. “Can’t you guys make out in private? Or, like, not ever at all?”
“We weren’t making out,” Phil says. “If we’d been making out… – well, believe me, kid, you’d know it if you saw it.”
Claire sighs. “Phil? Really?”
“Sweet,” Dylan surmises meanwhile. “Kitchen dance.”