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“Patrick!”

Hearing his name broke Patrick out of his tax-filing haze. Ray had told him someone had called to make an appointment for 10am, but neglected to tell him who. In the four months he had been working with Ray’s, he had learned to tune out most of what Ray was saying. Photography was Ray’s latest business venture (an activity Patrick knew nothing about) and was taking up most of his time. He often forgot he had a primary job so all the business filings, town taxes, and civil paperwork naturally fell to Patrick. So he knew Ray calling out his name only meant one of two things: there was someone to file paperwork or he needed to hold a bounce.

Patrick turned the corner and there was Ray and a striking man standing in front of him. Based on his clothes and hair alone, the man clearly did not belong in Schitt’s Creek. Patrick had never seen him before and he would have definitely remembered if he did. None of the men his age looked like that.

“B13,” Ray said before returning quickly to his photo session. The man gingerly handed Patrick a small paper number.

“This is for you.”

“Patrick.” Patrick offered his hand.

“David.” This could only be one person. Shockingly there was only one David in town.

“Ah, David Rose,” Patrick said. He knew about the Rose family and had therefore heard about David Rose, the son of video magnate Johnny Rose of Rose Video.

Well, besides himself. But no one knew that.

“You bought the general store.”

“Leased,” David corrected him. “Leased the general store, yeah.”

“It’s a big deal.” Next to the Café Tropical, the general store was the only other point of interest in Schitt’s Creek that generated any kind of business. It was a shame when it closed.

“Is it?” David seemed unimpressed.

“Yeah, it’s pretty big.” Patrick smiled. “You wanna have a seat?” He gestured to his desk and they both took a seat. He picked up the incorporation papers he had ready to go. “So, why don’t we start with the name of the business?”

“Oh, I’m oscillating between two names at the moment, so if we can just leave that one blank, that’d be great,” David answered.

‘Oscillating’. Of course.

“Sure, sure,” he said. “Give you more time to ‘oscillate’. Um, business address?”

“Ok, so I'm working on that,” David replied. “I'm currently staying at a motel and I think it might be confusing if I gave you the address for another business.”

Patrick hadn’t heard that one before. It made sense, but this was going to be harder than he thought.

“Yup, for sure. We’ll leave that blank as well,” he said, then added flirtingly, “Battin’ a thousand here, David.”

“I don’t know what that means,” David said bluntly.

Patrick chuckles. Here he was with a gorgeous queer man in front of him and he goes with a baseball metaphor. Strike one.

“Hey, here’s an easy one,” he continues down the sheet. “Brief description of the business.”

“Well, it's a general store,” David began, “but it's also a very specific store.”

“Huh.”

“And it's also not just a store. It's like a place where people can come and get coffee or drinks but it's not a coffee shop nor is it a bar.” Patrick had never met anyone like David. He couldn’t help but smile he was so amused.

“Okay, so we’re pretty clear on what it’s not.”

“Yeah, it’s an environment.” Patrick’s smile grew wider as David continued. “And yes, we will be selling things, but it's more like… more like a branded immersive experience.”

“Right,” Patrick said. “I love the buzzwords, David. But I do need to put something down here.” As much as he could listen to David vaguely describe his store all day, he still had to do his job.

“Okay, you couldn’t use anything I just said?”

Patrick smiled in amusement.

“Tell you what,” he said, handing David the form, “why don’t you take these home with you and fill them out when you have a clearer idea of what you want to do with the business.”

“Okay, um, I do have a clear idea,” David retorted.

“Oh, so you’ve settled on a name, then,” Patrick replied cheekily.

“Okay, you’re either very impatient or extremely sure of yourself.”

“Threw you a bit of a change-up there, huh?” He couldn’t get over how cute David was, let alone that he was openly flirting with someone.

“Again, I don’t know what that means. I don’t play cricket.”

Patrick smiled and reached for his business card. He knew this was just part of the proceedings, but a little part of him thrilled at the fact he was giving David his number.

“Look, take this,” he said. “It’s my card and I feel like you will need it.”

“You know what? I think I’m good,” David said half-confidently as he took the card. “So thank you for this.” He meandered toward the door.

“Nice to meet you, David,” Patrick called out after him.

“Yeah.” It was a half-hearted response right before he left Ray’s house.

Patrick knew he’d see David again. He had to turn his incorporation paperwork back in at some point and he hoped that would be sooner rather than later. Even if David wasn’t entirely receptive to his flirting, he didn’t outright deny him. Wait, did it even register as flirting? God, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever flirted that openly anywhere other than that one fleeting moment at a small bar in Elmdale. In the end he figured the bartender was just overly friendly. But if it didn’t even come across as flirting, maybe he was more out of practice than he thought.


Patrick was fighting a losing battle. He couldn’t stop thinking about David. It was silly, considering their brief interaction, but he needed to prepare things to talk about. The battle was even harder when Bob was sitting right in front of him, prattling on about his bagel business. They had gone over it for months and despite Patrick telling him it was risky, Bob was insistent. So, every week, Patrick was treated to an hour of Bob waxing on about his hypothetical bagel shop.

“And so I was thinking pink and mint might be good colors for the display case—”

Brrrrrrng!

The egg timer on Patrick’s desk went off. It was the only way to keep their meetings to an hour.

“I guess I’ll see you next week?” Patrick asked. Despite the abrupt ending, Bob was all smiles.

“Yes you will, Patrick,” he said. “You made me really think about the whole toaster situation. Thank you.” Bob quickly gathered his things and headed out the door.

Patrick slumped back in his seat. It was exhausting trying to focus on anything except David. Ray finally emerged from the upstairs.

“Is he gone?” he asked.

“Yup.”

“Okay, good. I hadn’t finished planning his linen closet organization system yet and he was expecting it three days ago,” Ray explained as he started puttering around his camera equipment.

Patrick picked up his phone, hoping he at least had an interesting message from his cousin to distract him. Instead, he found 8 voicemails from an unknown number.

Could it be?

His heart leapt in his throat as he hit play on the first one.

“Hi David, it’s Patrick,” the message began. Patrick chuckled at David’s mistake. “I was just calling to run my business plan by you in a little more detail. So feel free to give me a call back and I will be happy to talk you through it. Okay. Ciao.”

“Oh, ‘ciao’!” Ray fawned. “I had a girlfriend in high school who would say ‘ciao’. She was abducted by a Mexican cartel.”

Patrick smiled broadly. It was a funny message, so he could only assume what the next ones could be.

“Hi Patrick. I-I think I called you David which – that’s not your name,” David said deprecatingly. “You can just delete that text – the – the voicemail I left you. Um, just thought it might be a good idea to give you some background information about the store. It’s basically a general store, um, that will support local artists under the brand of the store which would also be my brand—” The message cut off.

Patrick was in awe. It was a brilliant idea and something that could really unite the town and all the surrounding areas. Most of the residents of Schitt’s Creek lived so far from one another that they didn’t know of each others’ wares. And considering David was a man who enjoyed high quality – at least, as far as Patrick could tell in the 5 minutes they spent together – the general store would become something no one here had ever seen.

“This is boring,” Ray announced. “I’m going to lunch.” And with that, he left the house.

Sighing, Patrick gazed at his phone as he pressed the next one.

“Yeah, the text cut us off!” David huffed. “Anyway…” He then spent the next 6 voicemails explaining to Patrick his whole living situation (“You know, the only motel in town.”), the name he chose (“It just screams ‘organic’ and ‘locally-sourced’.”), and more about the products he’d get (“Mr. Alberts’ goat milk lip balm would sell, right?”). It was a clever idea that David had clearly thought a lot about, rambling for minutes on end.

All 8 messages totaled to 23 minutes. Patrick couldn’t help but smile the whole time. And after listening through all of them, he picked up a pen and hit play again on the first message.

“Hi David, it’s Patrick…” As it played, he wrote on a blank incorporation form. Applicant: David Rose. Business name: Rose Apothecary.

He played them all again and was able to fill out the entire form.

Then he played them one more time for good measure.


His once empty afternoon got very busy when Ray “suddenly found” a huge stack of tax-deductible receipts lurking in a closet. Patrick suspected he had finally cleaned out his car. Either way, there was a lot of sorting going on. He didn’t mind it. It gave him something to do other than watching Ray assemble a new closet unit in the back room or listen to David’s messages again. One more play through and he would’ve hit full creep level.

The front door opened and lo, there was David, form in hand.

“Hi,” he said sheepishly. “Um, so I messed up my form and I’m going to need another form from you.”

“Oh, okay,” Patrick replied. He couldn’t help but smile. David was here. In the same day!

“What?”

“Nothing,” he deflected. “I just—I’m just so glad you made good use of my business card.” He walked over to his desk, David following. “I’m sorry I didn’t pick up. I was at a thing.”

“Well, best that you didn’t,” David chuckled.

“But I got all your messages.”

“Ah,” David said curtly. “And just listened to the first on and erased the rest?”

“No, no,” Patrick said teasingly. “I listened to all of them. I kinda had to to piece them together. Actually, I played them for a few friends of mine. I was at a birthday party. There were a lot of people weighing in.”

David looked mortified.

“Okay, um…”

“Just kidding,” he assured him. “I didn’t play them for anybody.”

“I found the first few were very humorous but then I lost interest,” Ray chimed in from the back room.

“I may have played them here on speakerphone,” he admitted.

“Okay,” David said, pushing forward. “Can I just get the paperwork and then I’ll just—”

“The good thing about the messages,” Patrick said confidently, “was that I was able to get enough information to fill out your forms.” He handed David his completed forms.

“Oh, wish I could remember,” David replied.

“It’s a good idea, your business,” Patrick said sincerely. “Rebranding local products and crafts. It’s very inventive.”

“Thanks.”

“And I like the name: Rose Apothecary,” he smirked. “You know, it’s just pretentious enough.”

“Would we call that pretentious or timeless?” David said, slightly defensive.

“So I’ll call you when I hear something,” Patrick said before adding, “And hey, if I don’t get ahold of you, I’ll just leave a message.”

“Okay. Thanks,” David said bitterly.

“Ciao!” Ray said cheerily from the back room. Patrick could tell David regretted saying that in the voicemail by his pursed lips. David slowly turned and exited the house without another word.

Patrick couldn’t stop smiling.

Chapter Text

David’s business license came through in only a couple days, but it took Patrick nearly a week to gather the courage to go back to his store. That, and waiting for the frame he ordered online to arrive. Patrick couldn’t see David taping the license to the wall like the other businesses in Schitt’s Creek, so he bought a frame he thought would go with the aesthetic David described in one of his numerous voicemails.

He was more than a little excited to see David again. Sure, he was dropping off the license, but it was definitely a personal visit. He didn’t have to stay so buttoned-up as opposed to when Ray was around. It’s a little strange to have butterflies at work while your boss says insane things to his photography subjects.

License in hand, Patrick rounded the corner of the store and headed inside. There were boxes on boxes of product, a few tables, and a blonde woman standing amongst the inventory. No David in sight. That nervousness he felt at Ray’s was back.

“Wow, things are really coming together in here,” he said, glancing around the store. The walls had been wiped down, the cobwebs eliminated, and the floor swept. He imagined David cleaning up deep into the night to get all this done before moving product in. Hard to picture, David up on a ladder batting down cobwebs, but it was possible.

“Oh, um,” the young woman began. “We’re actually not open yet. But that’s so sweet. Thank you. We’ve been working very hard.”

“Well, I’m actually not here to shop,” he said. “I’m… I’m Patrick. I’m just dropping off David’s business license.” He held up the frame before placing it down on the counter. She took a step closer to him, maintaining fierce eye contact.

“Oh, isn’t that just the cutest thing! Um, David’s in the back. But I’m Alexis-“ She points to her large ‘A’ necklace. “-and I’m currently studying business and I’m David’s sister and life coach, so.”

She was sweet and definitely David’s sister. The similarities were astounding.

“Well, it’s great to meet you, Alexis,” he said, holding out his hand to shake her hand. She put her hand in his then coyly placed the other on top.

“I’m sorry if my hands are too soft. I’ve just been sampling a lot of product. So… really soft.”

“They are,” Patrick chuckled as he withdrew his hand.

He glanced around at all the product that was scattered around store.

“Do you see anything you like?” Alexis asked with a coy smile. “I mean, besides me.”

He smiled uncomfortably.

“Uh, there are a lot of interesting products I’ve never seen before,” he said, ignoring what she said.

“There’s this… baggie,” she said, pulling a small brown bag out of a box. “It’s tea from a guy on this farm we went to this morning. He was so weird. Kept yelling at a pig that did not exist.” He chuckled.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Hockley. He’s a pretty interesting guy.” Patrick remembered him. He lived on the edge of Schitt’s Creek. He didn’t know Mr. Hockley was growing tea. How did David find out about it?

“I’d love to have tea with you sometime,” she said flirtatiously. She gently touched his arm. “I love when things are hot and steamy.”

Patrick’s eyes went wide before he replied awkwardly, “Sure. Great.”

“Oh! And there there’s this.” Alexis unceremoniously dropped the bag of tea back into the box before drawing out a long scarf out of another. Without hesitating, she stepped into his space and wrapped it around his neck. “Isn’t it soft?”

“It is,” he answered. “Whoa, might be tying it a little too tight there.” She giggled, holding the end of the scarf against her chest, while he tried to loosen it slightly.

“Uh, that is actually cat hair,” David said, entering from the back room. “There’s a Himalayan breeder up the street that knits them for us. Hi.” Patrick felt his heart leap.

“Hi,” Patrick said warmly. “I’m just dropping off your business license. And activating my allergies.”

“Oh, in that case you should probably take that off. Like, now.” Patrick scrambled to take the scarf off and put it back in the box. David picked up the business license.

“Isn’t that the sweetest thing, that he framed it?” Alexis asked him.

“It is very sweet,” David answered. “Thank you, Patrick.”

“Actually, they… they all come framed,” he lied. It was one thing to have it framed. It was another for Alexis to point it out.

“Oh, thank God,” David exhaled. “Because I was just thinking that this frame is a little too corporate for my brand.” He placed it back down on the table and started unpacking a box of lotion.

Patrick’s heart sank.

“David, I was just about to sample the unisex Mennonite cologne on Patrick,” Alexis said, holding up a small perfume bottle.

Patrick took a moment to center himself. He reminded himself he was just there for business. Best not get his hopes too high.

“That’s not a sample,” David reminded her harshly. “And you’ve sampled half the store at this point. So we still need to sell all this stuff.”

“Okay, well, I flattened out the lip balm, so no one’s gonna notice,” she shot back. Patrick grabbed a bottle of the lotion David was unloading. It seemed high quality, but did he really need this many?

“There’s a lot of stuff in here, David,” he said. “You don’t wanna spend too much money up front.” He couldn’t help his business side coming out. He didn’t want David’s store to go belly-up.

“Yeah, that is not good, David,” Alexis agreed.

“You have to be prepared to survive a full year without making any profit.”

“Actually, the textbooks now say 18 months,” she corrected him.

“Well, what are the textbooks saying about curating a selection of products from local vendors and selling them on consignment in a one-stop-shop retail environment that benefits both the vendor and the customer?” David asked defensively, staring down Alexis.

“Well, I don’t have my textbook on me,” she said, wilting under his gaze.

“I stand corrected,” Patrick smiled. He wasn’t wrong when he said it was inventive. “Listen, if you need help, I’m happy to help.”

“Why? Alexis is here helping,” David answered quickly. Patrick was getting the feeling David’s to-do list didn’t get any shorter with Alexis here.

“Well, no,” Alexis said. “If Patrick has offered to move all the boxes, then I think we should let him.”

“Is that what I offered?” he asked in mock-incredulity.

“Okay, well, thank you, Patrick,” David said curtly.

“You’re welcome.” He gave Patrick an acknowledging smile before immediately going back to work, leaving Patrick with Alexis.

“Okay, so you can start by moving all those big things of hand cream,” she said, gesturing to the back room. Patrick had a feeling she was not going to be helping. He didn’t mind, since it gave him an excuse to stick around.

He very carefully stepped around David to get to the backroom. As he did, he could smell the spice of David’s cologne and his heart picked up its pace. Finding the hand cream gave him a little time to clear his head. He was here to help set up the store, not flirt with David. Professionalism.

He glanced around at the products that had been left in the backroom and it was even more diverse than those outside. Bath salts, juices, succulents, knitted hats… The best part was that Patrick had seen all these products at the annual Elmdale craft fair. Now they’d be sold year-round and in Schitt’s Creek, giving the locals the exposure they needed. 

God, it was just so smart.

“Patrick, are you lost back there?” he heard Alexis call from the main room.

“Nope, I got it!” he said. He grabbed the box of hand cream and carried it out.


Patrick spent the better part of the day at Rose Apothecary. The three of them chatted, asking each other questions, getting to know one another. David and Alexis would bicker, but both were surprisingly interested in finding out more about him. He completed a MBA from Indiana University and needed a change of pace, so he took up a job at Ray’s when he saw a listing in the newspaper. He didn’t have nearly as many interesting stories as David and Alexis, but the conversation never stopped.

By the end of the day, the store was really starting to come together. It was astounding what two people could get done while a third pretended to work. They left just as the sun had started to set. He had missed actually doing physical labor in setting up businesses. In the last year it had been reduced to strictly paperwork and there was only so much he could do before his eyes would cross. Spending time with David was an added bonus.

The next day proved to be a challenge.

Patrick had offered to look over David’s financials and Ray was out doing an open house, which meant Patrick was tied to his desk another day. Normally, he loved poring over numbers and estimates but having David’s handwriting literally staring him in the face was making things difficult. He could still hear their conversations from yesterday, replaying over and over. What typically took him an hour was going on two and a half, and it was just a budget for the store. Inventory, bills, trajectories, vendor costs. All of it was easy, so why was he coming up short?

That’s when he realized it was the numbers not his daydreaming.

He had an idea and he needed to talk to David.


The shop was blissfully empty, sans the sole store owner in another black and white sweater, putting together the cash register. Patrick knew he had to keep it to business talk and try not to get sidetracked. 

“Uh oh,” David said with a lightness to his voice Patrick hadn’t heard before. “I take it you’re here to tell me my business license has been revoked?”

“No, no,” Patrick chuckled as he leaned one hand against the counter. “You’re all good.” Leave it to David to jump to the worst conclusion. He seemed to be more casual with Patrick today. The rigidity he had been met with up until now had seemed to have softened.

“Okay. Well, my sister isn’t here, so…”

“I’m not here for your sister,” he replied matter-of-factly. In no way, shape, or form was he there for Alexis.

“Okay,” David whispered.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about all this, and these product Alexis was showing me yesterday were actually really impressive,” he explained as David fiddled with the register. “I mean, the whole model is actually very sustainable.”

“Thank you.”

“But I think you’re gonna need more start-up money.”

“Oh, more start-up money,” David echoed. “Um… and where do you think I’ll get that money?”

“Well, when you’re supporting local businesses, there are grants that you can apply for. And I would be happy to assist you with those applications.” Ecstatic, really.

“Well, that is very, very generous.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be doing it for free,” Patrick said. David looked confused. “See, if these grants came through you’d have the money to start paying me.” Investing in David’s business was the best idea Patrick could have ever come up with. He loved the store concept and he had the business acumen that David lacked. Plus, he’d get to spend much more time with him.

“Okay,” David replied, surprised.

“I really think you have something here, David. You just… you just need some help,” he said honestly before adding, “You need a lot of help—“

“Okay!” David said, cutting him off. “Well, um, then yes… I am open to entertaining your investment offer.” A smile played at David’s lips that made Patrick’s heart yearn for him.

“Great.”

He had never seen David smile before and it wasn’t going away.

He had to say something.

“And in the interest of us potentially working together, I did want to come clean about something.”

“Okay.” David looked concerned. Patrick’s heart raced. He had never been so nervous to tell anyone his interest in them. Mind you, the options were few and far between. While he was in college and grad school, he mostly kept to his studies and pushed out all other distractions. David overwhelmed him. He was swimming in the deep end.

“I um…” he began, before panicking. He glanced at the wall where the business license hung. “I actually picked out that frame.”

His heart was in his throat.

“I see,” David smiled sweetly. “So, thank you for making it very clear that I will be making the creative decisions for the store. And I guess you can handle all the business stuff.”

“I’m very comfortable with that.”

“Okay,” David nodded. He fiddled with the register parts for a moment, then said, “And you do know that if the grant money doesn’t come through, I won’t—“

“Oh, I’m gonna get the money.” Hell or high water, Patrick was going to get the money for David. His confidence seemed to impress David.

“Okay,” he replied, softer than before.

They lingered there for a moment, taking in what just happened. Patrick was the first to speak, gesturing to the register parts in David’s hands.

“Would you like some help with that?”

“Oh, yes please,” David answered, passing the parts quickly to Patrick. He leaned against the counter as he watched Patrick assemble the register. “Are you able to stick around a little longer or do you have important business things back at Ray’s?”

“I can stay,” Patrick smiled. “What do you need help with?”

“Um, well, I was wondering if you could help me assemble this shelving unit…”

Patrick stayed there the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Setting up any business was a slow process and Rose Apothecary was no different. Even with Patrick on board, it was still several weeks before they had enough products they both felt completed the store. It truly was a beautiful working relationship, one of the best Patrick had ever been part of. He would attain more information on other local vendors and David would choose which products to feature. David was generally receptive to everything and turned down very few items. (“Backscratchers, Patrick? What are we, the world’s largest truck stop?”) David even found some vendors of his own. However, he had a habit of convincing the vendors to give their products more high-end names, which worried Patrick.

“Body milk?” Patrick asked David, who was busy assembling small covered baskets for the lip balms. Bob had just dropped off several heavy boxes from Mrs. Goodall from far down Route 73. Inside were brown bottles of various sizes labeled with the stickers David had given her.

“Oh, good, they arrived,” David said, relieved. He stopped neatly sorting the lip balm to check out the bottles himself. He was standing very close to Patrick, something that was happening more and more lately. Patrick had started longing for the scent of David’s cologne. It didn’t waft very far so they had to be in close proximity and that delighted Patrick.

“Can you drink this?” As far as Patrick could tell, there weren’t any edible ingredients on the bottle, but then again, David was far more familiar with exotic food than he was.

David gave him a scrutinizing look.

“It’s body milk.”

“Oh, I can read, David. But what is body milk?

“It’s like, a really smooth and creamy lotion that makes your skin super supple and soft. It was made with milk from Mrs. Goodall’s cows,” David explained as he took a small bottle out of the box. He opened it and poured some into his hands. “And it has a low viscosity, so it has a consistency that’s kinda like milk.”

The white liquid pooled in the palm of David’s hand. He massaged it quickly into his skin. Patrick couldn’t help but watch. With as much as David gestured, it was hard for Patrick to not think about his hands. He wanted to hold them, feel them on his face, running through his hair, anywhere on his body…

“Okay, this was a little too much,” David murmured. He glanced around before jutting his hands toward Patrick. “Give me your hands.”

Patrick put down the bottle he was holding and did as he was instructed. David enveloped Patrick’s calloused hands in his soft ones, massaging the lotion in. He looked up from their hands to catch David watching him with a small smirk on his lips.

“Guess a little goes a long way, huh?” Patrick said as he let out a nervous chuckle, releasing the breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“There you go,” David said warmly. “Now your hands are on their way to being pillowy dreams.” He lightly squeezed Patrick’s hands before letting go.

“Th-thank you,” Patrick replied. His hands were now soft and warm and his head was in the clouds. He picked up the now-opened bottle of body milk. “Does this need to be refrigerated?”

“It shouldn’t. I was very clear with Mrs. Goodall that I would not be selling sour milk at our store.”

“But don’t you think the label is a little misleading?” he asked. “You’ve got the cow on here and the ingredients kinda look like nutritional facts. I mean, not to mention you’ve got ‘milk’ right in the name. People are going to think it’s a drink.”

“Oh, no. No, no, no,” David retorted firmly. “It’s body milk, so it’s a lotion. They’ll understand.”

“I’m not sure about that…”

“Well, anyone with a fiber of common sense would know that it’s not actually milk,” David said presumptuously.

Patrick raised his eyebrows.

“Well, I mean, you have common sense. You were just asking for business reasons. Because refrigeration is an important thing to know,” he continued, obviously embarrassed. Watching David dig himself out of every hole he made was one of the things Patrick loved. It amused him far more than it probably should have.

“It’s okay,” Patrick assured him. “Just be ready for a bunch of people asking you if they can drink it.”

David waved a hand dismissively before walking back over to his baskets of lip balm.


A couple days later, once he had finished his work at Ray’s, Patrick headed over to the store. He was coming in to Ray’s earlier and working at home in the evenings so he could maximize his time with David at the store. They had picked a date to launch – May 15th – which was drawing nearer every day.

Patrick loved his life in this moment. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze in the air, and he was walking to the store he co-owned with a devastatingly gorgeous and fascinating man. He had few complaints.

Through the windows, he could clearly see David and a short dark-haired woman who Patrick assumed was Stevie.

“—you can’t drink them,” David finished telling her as she held up a bottle of body milk.

“Did you ask if you can drink it, too?” Patrick asked her.

“Okay, it says body milk on the label!” David said defensively from the rear of the store.

“You know, I told David that the label was gonna be misleading, but he insisted,” Patrick said cheekily as he grabbed a bottle from the box. “What was it you said? ‘Anyone with a fiber of common sense would know that it’s not actually milk?’”

“What do we think body milk is, if not milk for your body?” David gestured with his whole body, staring down both Patrick and Stevie.

“Exactly,” she said quietly to Patrick.

“Stevie, right?” He held out his hand. She took it firmly.

“Yeah.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you.” Nearly half of David’s stories from Schitt’s Creek included Stevie.

“None of it is true,” she said sarcastically.

“Oh, well, anyone with a fiber of common sense would know that,” he replied just as sarcastically, then looked straight at David, who – from what Patrick could tell – was wearing a shower cap?

“I like him,” Stevie said to David, then turned to Patrick, her eyes lit up. “I like you.”

“Okay, is this how this is gonna go?” David asked. “Because we have way too much work to do today for me to feel attacked by way of an imbalanced social dynamic.”

Patrick walked up to David, eying his headwear suspiciously.

“Are-are you wearing a shower cap?”

“Alexis has lice, and I’m taking preventative measures."

“By wearing one of our hats that we now can’t sell,” Patrick said incredulously.

“Oh, he doesn’t have it. I checked his head,” Stevie chimed in. “I think the shower cap is more of a fashion choice at this point.” David glared at her.

“Uh-huh. But you’re living with somebody who does have lice, so just ‘cause you don’t have it now doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get it tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever,” Patrick explained. His siblings had given him lice one too many times. The only easy way to avoid lice was to stay in a completely separate space until the lice were officially gone.

“It’s almost like you want me to get the lice,” David said accusingly.

“I don’t want you to get it,” Patrick assured him. “I just… I think you should be careful. You can crash at my place tonight if you need to.” The words were out of his mouth faster than he could realize what he was saying. Perhaps his subconscious knew more about what he wanted than he did. Not that anything would happen, but what he would give to have David back at his place, sitting in his room, sleeping in his bed, smelling that cologne first thing in the morning. It would be a chance to see David outside the business environment and less like a business partner and more like… a friend? A companion? A… who knows.

“Thank you,” David said quietly, then gestured to Stevie. “But Stevie offered her place this morning.”

“Oh.” He tried not to sound disappointed. He really did. But he needed to dial it back.

“So…”

“Can I crash at your place?” Stevie asked jokingly. She was very clearly not looking forward to dealing with a lice-fearing David all night and he couldn’t blame her. He laughed, imagining her staying at his place while David fended for himself at hers.

“This is really fun for me,” David said dryly. “I’m having a lot of fun.” Patrick couldn’t stop laughing. This seemed to be David’s nightmare: the two of the three people who tease him the most tag-teaming him.

“Can we get back to work now?” he asked Patrick and Stevie, obviously trying to get away from the current conversation. “There’s plenty to do that does not involve making fun of me.”

“Well, that’s what I came here to do,” Stevie said. “I don’t really want to do anything else.”

“Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” David said.

“Whoa, Stevie. Stevie,” Patrick intervened. “One thing I’ve found is that the key to working with David is multi-tasking. We can unbox things while we pick on David.”

“I’m so glad you two have found each other,” David said sharply before disappearing to the back room with a few flattened boxes. Patrick and Stevie couldn’t help but snicker. It was certainly going to be a long day for David.

Chapter Text

Their grand opening was merely a week away and they were in crunch time. Patrick was still calculating appropriate prices and figuring out their final overhead cost while David was setting everything up. It was best this way, as the last time Patrick tried to set up a display David nearly had a heart attack from the ‘poor aesthetics’. It didn’t matter. They worked so well together that this was the best outcome that could have happened.

Patrick had been tasked with assembling a set of shelves while David folded practically every possible item of clothing in the store. They worked in companionable silence, both focused on getting everything done in time. As launch grew closer, their conversations became sparser and almost solely business-oriented. It made sense, but it was really hard to flirt with David when lights needed to be hung, the sign needed to be painted, the products still weren’t completely set up… There was so much to do.

David took a short break to go to the fridge and grab a juice. He took two gulps from it before placing it on the counter and heading back to the sweaters. Patrick had been avoiding taking anything from the fridge, seeing as they’d have to pay for it. But since David already took one out, he figured they could share and prevent as much loss as possible.

He grabbed the juice off the counter and gazed out at the workers setting up the sign. They were making fast work. Thankfully they settled on one of David’s simpler sign ideas—

“Um, is that your juice?”

“No,” Patrick answered immediately. “Technically it’s our juice because you just took it from the fridge and didn’t pay for it, so…”

“Mmhmm. Um… it’s just that I don’t normally share beverages with people,” David explained, being awkwardly polite.

“Really. That is shocking news,” he said dryly.

“Yeah, yeah. Fortunately, you look like you have a clean mouth, so…”

“Sorry,” Patrick said. “A clean mouth?” He was genuinely surprised at how nonchalant David was saying the phrase ‘clean mouth’ – and surprised at the phrase itself, for that matter. He wasn’t even thinking of the meaning behind sharing one beverage. It was hot, he was thirsty, and the strawberry-orange-banana juice was right there, opened and waiting.

“Yeah. Some people have nice, clean mouths and some people have sloppy mouths.”

“I see,” he replied. It was just a fact in David’s world and Patrick couldn’t help but laugh. It was endearingly ridiculous.

Seeing as their silence was officially broken, Patrick wanted to talk business. He walked around the counter to be across from David and his folded sweaters.

“So, hey, I was thinking about our launch party, and I think we should take out like, a full page in the local news and just make it—make it a thing, you know?” He was really proud of their little endeavor and thought everyone should know about it. The newspaper reached to neighboring towns, so it would really have quite a draw.

“Hmm, well, do you not think people are gonna show?” David asked.

“No, no, I do. I just think if we’re going to go big, let’s go big.”

“Yeah, ‘cause I was thinking what if we did like a soft launch,” David suggested. “Uh, and you know, just test the store out on a small group of people. Did like an exclusive VIP guest list and offered, you know, a friends and family discount as incentive.”

“Huh, now it’s sounding like you don’t think people will show,” Patrick said, eying him suspiciously.

“No, I do. I do think that people will come,” he elaborated. “It’s just, you know, I look to Gwyneth who soft-launched the Goop newsletter and now it’s a thriving lifestyle publication-slash-empire—“

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but it’s up to you,” Patrick interrupted. He’d seen this in store owners before, this quiet anxiety lurking beneath the surface. Normally, they’d just go with his advice, but as this was David’s baby, he was going to let him make all the major decisions. He didn’t need to make an argument out of it. “Either way, you do need to call the electrician to hang these lights that were supposed to be up a week ago.”

“Yeah, yeah. I was waiting… I was waiting for a call back from him,” David lied. “Hmm. But you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna follow up.”

“Sure.” He took a swig of juice.

“Can I have my juice back, please?”

“No, you have a sloppy mouth,” Patrick said coolly. David froze.

Patrick wasn’t one to get angry, but he was getting a little frustrated that David wasn’t getting some of his tasks done on top of ignoring Patrick’s recommendation. Their disagreements weren’t ever explosive or difficult, but they often came at over-stepping into each other’s realm of the business. He had learned pretty early on to relinquish any creative decision to David, only tossing out ideas or suggestions that would help the business end. However, the same wasn’t necessarily returned in kind. Patrick constantly reminded himself that he joined onto David’s idea and that while he was a co-owner, the store was ultimately David’s.

“Oh, by the way, Patrick,” David called out. Patrick dropped the empty plastic bottle in the tiny trash can. David glared at him momentarily as it clattered against the wood. “If you could get me a list of like, 10 to 15 people you want at the grand opening by Monday, that’d be great. I want to make sure they’re the type of person who would give appropriate feedback on the store.”

“Right, okay,” Patrick reluctantly agreed before disappearing into the backroom to get more homemade soaps.


 

By Wednesday morning, the weird feelings in the store had dissipated and things were more-or-less back to normal. David was calmer today than previous days. The store was coming along nicely and they were back on track to open on time on top of just being downright happy to be there.

Putting on sticker prices was a pretty tedious activity, but it was certainly better working side-by-side and chatting aimlessly.

“Did you know I just learned how to ride a bike after moving here?” David said.

“Are you serious? Are there pictures?” Patrick asked, chuckling.

“Unfortunately, yes. I did not enjoy it. There was no part of this—“ David gestured to himself, “—that was going to break a sweat just to get somewhere. It was hard enough to go to SoulCycle once a fortnight. Unlike you who probably like, moves boulders for fitness.”

“I do not—“

“Oh please, are you going to convince me there’s a gym somewhere in this town?”

Patrick laughed.

“I… I do drive to that strip mall in Thornbridge for Crossfit three times a week,” he admitted. David gave him a cheeky grin.

“See? Only someone who moves boulders would have forearms like yours.” Patrick blushed as David flirtingly bumped his shoulder, giving Patrick a strong waft of his cologne.

God, that cologne. That scent was going to be the death of him.

One night after Crossfit, Patrick found himself in the perfumery section of the adjacent department store. He hadn’t meant to wander over there. He was specifically there to pick up a new pair of shoes and another blue button-down, not cologne. He felt a little embarrassed to be looking through the various scents because he secretly knew he wasn’t there for himself. Each one he smelled was pungent and distinct, yet none was at all like David’s. It was sharp like cinnamon, but sweet like orange. Patrick assumed it must be a holdover from his old life, something specially ordered from a boutique perfumery. Whatever it was, JCPenney’s did not carry it.

It was a scent that was specifically David and Patrick wanted to bury his face in it.

David glanced up at the clock.

“Our lunch should be ready for pick-up now,” he said.

“Let me—“

“No,” David said, placing a gentle hand on Patrick’s. “I’ll go. You picked it up yesterday.”

“Thank you, David,” Patrick said warmly. David smiled at him before heading out the door.

Patrick watched him cross the street and disappear into Café Tropical. He sighed happily. Everything was going so well. The air was so charged and The flirting was so good and it just made him want to… do things to David, with David. He wanted to kiss him, hold him, take him on a date. He wanted to spend time behind closed doors that didn’t have giant windows to the outside world. Not that he wanted to hide, but Patrick was no exhibitionist. He just wanted to have David all to himself.

He leaned against the counter, surveying their work. How were there so many boxes yet to unpack? They seemed to be making good progress, but Patrick was so focused on David and David alone that the store had kind of faded to the background. But in taking stock of the store, they were going to have to do less flirting and more unpacking.

Not Patrick’s favorite option.

David returned with their lunch in hand, looking extremely frustrated. Probably an issue with the lunch order again.

“Uh, how many people did you tell about Friday?” David asked as he set the bag down on the table.

“Just the names on my pre-approved list. Why?” This was not what he expected.

“Because I have been approached by a lot of people who are not on the pre-approved list,” he explained.

Ah, yes.

“Well, you know,” Patrick said, trying not to sound smug, “sometimes when you tell everyone that it’s exclusive, then everyone just wants in. Like how many people are we talking about?”

“Uh, I don’t know. Twyla’s whole family. So like, 75?”

Patrick whistled. That was nearly the whole town.

“Should’ve ordered more food and wine,” he replied. There was probably a way they could bump up the order without going over-budget. He looked up at David.

“Looks like this soft launch is firming up a bit, huh,” he joked. The innuendo was too good to pass up.

“But it’s not supposed to be firm.”

“Well, with this many people it’s definitely at least semi-firm.”

“Okay. Well, as long as it doesn’t get hard!” David said resolutely. Then it hit him. “And that’s something… that’s what I just said to you, so…” He stared at Patrick dejectedly, like he broke their unspoken agreement.

Patrick gave him a sympathetic smile. They lingered there for a moment, silently acknowledging each other, before nodding to the take-out food and saying calmly, “I’m ready for some lunch.”

Except Patrick was everything but calm. He had been so good to not let his mind wander to filthy places, but knowing David was thinking about the innuendo as well opened the gates. It felt warm between them before David left for Café Tropical and now something seemed to vibrate beneath Patrick’s skin.

He took a deep breath as he took out his tuna melt. He smiled as he watched David lift the top slice to check the tuna underneath. David glanced up and caught Patrick’s gaze. He gave a bashful smile before delicately placing the slice to the side.

They were going to be alright.


 

They had worked late into the night setting up the store to make it grand-opening-ready. Patrick was in heaven. It was just him and David, working side-by-side for hours, chatting, teasing, and enjoying each other’s company.

Patrick was falling hard for David. He was happy if not downright excited to spend all day with him. When he’d remember that this would basically be every day, he needed someone to pinch him. He felt so blessed to be part of this incredible endeavor.

The sun had set hours ago and the store was virtually perfect. Patrick was so impressed with David’s eye for design. Seeing the store go from stripped bare to this elegant boutique shop was beautiful. It was certainly something Schitt’s Creek had never seen before.

They were hanging a large ‘A’ on the wall when David let out a long, loud yawn.

“Sorry, sorry,” he quickly apologized, shaking his head as if to wake himself up. Patrick smiled He was adorably sleepy, a state he had never seen David in.

“Why don’t you go home and get some sleep?” Patrick said as he climbed down from the ladder.

“There’s just…” David trailed off, glancing around the store. Patrick gently placed his hands on David’s shoulders.

“I can finish here,” he assured him. “It’s only some inventory and cleaning. Certainly things I can manage. No creativity needed.”

“That’s good,” David laughed softly. He stared at Patrick warmly. “Thank you so much, Patrick.”

“It’s no problem.”

“I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“Well, we still have to open tomorrow. It’s not over yet.”

“This is true,” David said. He peered around his immediate vicinity. “Well, I’m going home now.”

“See you in the morning.”

David gave him a small wave before exiting the front door and disappearing into the darkness.

He was alone. Typically, the stillness of a space made him a little uncomfortable. It could have been a normal thing or something he developed since working at Ray’s, yet here he was alone in Rose Apothecary at 2:30am and he felt calm. Looking around the room to all the little design touches that adorned the shelves and walls, Patrick felt enveloped by David. It wasn’t the David most people saw; the David who was in his 30s and still shared a room with his adult sister in a motel after living an extremely privileged life. He saw the David who had great ideas, a critical eye, and a love of beauty. The nougat-y center, if you will.

His eyes trailed along the walls, admiring all of their hard work over the last couple months.

That is, until he saw the lights.

David still hadn’t called the electrician.

Guess he was putting them in himself.

He grabbed the toolbox from the back and set it on the counter. After clicking through a few links, he managed to find a series of YouTube videos on basic electrical work. They moved way too quickly, transitioning from step to step without much hesitation. It was frustrating to say the least.

Patrick wished he could have ignored the lights, but they were right behind the register, a location literally every customer would have to see. Aesthetics were very important to David and exposed wiring was not in his design plan. (He had a binder with color swatches.)

It was getting later and later, and around 3:45am Patrick finished the first light. He really had to give it up to electricians. This was not easy work. Luckily, he’d only shocked himself once and that was enough.

He wanted to say he was doing this strictly for the store, that it was just completing the list of things that needed to get done. But around 4:15am when he was about finished with the second light, Patrick’s motives changed. He wanted David to notice. He wanted to show him how dedicated he was to the store. …yes, the store.

At 4:36am, the lights were finished. Well, they were good enough. Patrick was delirious and certain he was going to electrocute himself if he worked on it any longer. Thankfully, they had agreed on a grand opening at 1pm so he had some time to sleep.

David better notice the lights.


 

The next morning – well, later that morning – Patrick was unlocking the front door to Rose Apothecary. The store was still and quiet. It looked beautiful. It was all going to change in an hour when they finally opened the doors to their families and friends… and all their families and friends – okay, really, the whole town and then some.

He was understandably exhausted, running on 5 hours of sleep, having to run a few errands before the opening. He tried not to let it show having purchased a cold brew from the gas station on his way over to the store. There wasn’t much else to do at the store to set up but to turn everything on and make final adjustments.

And, of course, wait for David. He knew he’d be coming in as close to opening as possible. They had decided it was best for Patrick to be at the register in case any prices or numbers got weird and for David to be on the floor explaining products to customers. It was also a chance for David to really show off his creation.

He’d seen quite a few people walk past the store – more than usual. It filled him with excitement. There were people waiting for their store.

David came around the corner and entered the store with a shocked look.

“Uh, so I was just verbally assaulted by a very off-brand customer in line outside.”

“Well, David, I have really underestimated you,” Patrick said, glancing out the windows where more people were gathering.

“How so?” David asked, side-eying him.

“Who knew you had so many friends?” he replied dryly. “Or family members, for that matter.”

“Okay, what do we do?” David was not in the mood for jokes. “I for one blame Gwyneth.”

Patrick smiled and tried to exhibit the calm that David should have.

“David, relax. It’s going to be fine.”

David looked up and behind Patrick, panic still set in his face.

“Oh my god, the lights! I didn’t call the electrician.”

Patrick reached back and flicked on the light switch. The lights turned on, their delicate glow bouncing off the white tiles.

“I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials,” he tried to say nonchalantly.

“This is very impressive,” David said, giving Patrick a smile that warmed him.

“Well, there is a good chance I didn’t wire that properly,” he said before lightly jabbing, “so that’s why I also got the insurance that you forgot to get.”

“Okay,” David bantered, “Ah, there is only so much that I can do in a day.” Patrick could already tell he was much calmer than when he first came in. He was there to be David’s safety net and he was more than happy to be his emotional support.

“So… um… are we ready to do this?” David asked him. His eyes were lit up with excitement as they should be.

“Open the doors.”

“Okay.”

David stepped over to the doors before Patrick teased in a loud whisper, “Softly.”

“Okay,” he replied, slightly annoyed at this joke that Patrick will never give up. He flipped over the ‘Open’ sign and opened the door.


 

What a rush.

They were slammed from open to close. Patrick barely ever had a chance to touch base with David and check in. The minute David got even close to the register, someone else would pull him aside for another question about a product. David would give him an apologetic smile and go willingly.

He’d occasionally get breaks at the register and look up to watch David. Admittedly, Patrick was surprised at how easy this was for David and how good he was with customers. He was accommodating but firm and very patient. Patrick would get snippets of his conversations with customers, all of them asking about the 25% discount at some point. At around 7pm, he thought David was going to crack from that question being asked so many times, but he treated the sixtieth customer like the first.

A few times David caught Patrick watching him. He’d give a shy smile before getting pulled away again. Those brief moments were thrilling. They were so in sync as business partners that he wondered what it’d be like to be, well, partners. To own the store as a couple would mean so much to the town. Flirting was fun: the glances, the teasing, the light touches. But it was stressful. He wanted to say so much to him yet refrained because it was easier to say nothing. It was also far, far too early to be having these thoughts. They hadn't even gone on a date.

He’d find the courage. He always did.

The last customers were ushered out the door around 9:30pm, about half an hour later than they had planned. They had purchased their items and were lingering as they asked David a flurry of insightful questions about the store. He appeared to be enjoying the conversation and was no rush to end it. Patrick had already closed out the register and was hanging out in front of the counter, sipping on leftover wine while he watched the object of his affection flourish under the praise and attention.

With a gentle nudge, David got them out the door and into the night. He flipped the sign to ‘Closed’ before turning back to Patrick.

“Well, this was a success,” he said as he stepped closer.

“I would say so, yeah,” Patrick replied, glancing at the emptied shelves and tables. “Although you know we’d be 25 percent richer if we had just done a hard launch, but hey, I’m just the numbers guy.”

“Uh, but had we not done the soft launch, we wouldn’t have lured all those people.” Patrick set his cup down on the counter.

“Well, you know, the best thing is that we never have to talk about it again because we’re officially open.”

“That is true,” David said, smiling.

“Congratulations, man,” Patrick said, holding out his arms for a hug.

“Congratulations to you,” David responded as he wrapped his arms around him.

They lingered there for a moment and Patrick’s head was swimming. He felt David’s hair against his cheek. His hands were searing through his thin button-down shirt. His cologne. It all felt so right and so comfortable. Despite all his eccentricities, David was the best business partner or co-worker Patrick had ever had. He loved working with him. And after a hard day at work, this is exactly what he longed to come home to: being with David as a friend and a partner. It wasn’t enough to just flirt anymore. Patrick needed to take action.

The lights flickered.

Those damn lights.

“I can fix that,” he said, withdrawing from David.

“Okay, yeah, I was just gonna say…”

He glanced up at the lights. Maybe he did need to call an electrician.

Chapter Text

The days following their grand opening were pure bliss. It was certainly one thing to be setting up the business, but it was another to finally be doing it. This is what Patrick went to school for. He loved the intricacies and the challenges owning a business provided, and to be selling products that were locally sourced? Good for the community and their bottom line.

It was Friday and Patrick was in a great mood. They had sold a whole case of lavender-honey lotion the previous night which put the numbers up for the week and they were in great shape for the weekend. It also didn’t hurt that his business partner made all the butterflies in his stomach go nuts.

He felt so silly to say David was the reason he got out of bed a little bit quicker in the morning, but it was true. He wanted to spend all his time with his business partner and talk to him and listen to his stories and… everything. He promised himself that he would ask David on a date before the end of the month which was rapidly approaching. That hug after their grand opening and feeling David so solidly against his body made Patrick itch for more. He had a romantic streak that was dying to come out.

It had been a very, very long time since Patrick had had a crush that knocked him over like this. He stopped caring that David made him feel like a schoolboy. It was fun. There was a pull between them that he was happily leaning into, and from the looks of it, David felt the same.

Well, he figured David felt the same way. Many mornings started with so much playful banter and flirting that it made Patrick’s heart want to explode. But today David didn’t seem interested in that. In fact, he came in without so much of a smile or anything and went straight to work. There was always at least a solid 20 minutes of playful banter and flirting before any actual work was done.

A customer came in soon after they opened. David took to the register while Patrick tended to their plants for sale.

“Oh, can I get a gift receipt for that? It’s for an anniversary,” the customer asked.

“Oh, well isn’t that thoughtful,” David replied bitterly. “I wish everyone remembered special days like that, but alas, that’s not what the world is anymore.”

“I’ll just take that gift receipt.”

“You’re a good person.” Patrick watched the customer head toward the door, then glanced at David who immediately went back to restocking lotion without another word.

“Is everything okay?” he asked him.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” David said brusquely.

“Alright.” If he didn’t want to talk, they didn’t have to talk about it. It looked like it was going to be a long day if that was the case.

“Here’s a question,” David said after a moment. “Um, has your family ever forgotten your birthday? Like, your parents and your sister, collectively, as a whole?” He thought about it for a second.

“That would be a no,” he answered. “No, we’ve always had some kind of party.” Birthdays were kind of a big deal in his home growing up.

“Oh.”

“In fact, sometimes two parties. One before school ended with my friends. And then another with family, with my cousins who were kinda more like siblings—“ David started squirming as he kept talking. “—But they, they’ve forgotten other things.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Yeah.” Another curt reply. This really wasn’t a conversation about birthday party traditions.

“I’m kinda piecing together that it might be your birthday,” Patrick said. He could put two and two together.

And he had an idea.

“Yes, it is,” David confirmed, slightly defeated.

“Well, happy birthday!” he said warmly before jokingly asking, “How old are we?”

That question earned him the dirtiest look.

“Do you have any plans for today, or…?” he asked David. He was going for some playful banter before asking David on a date, but that was not happening.

“I plan on popping a pill, crying a bit, and falling asleep early. So just a regular weeknight.”

Patrick chuckled. At least David never lost his humor even when he was upset.

“That sounds like fun.”

“It is.”

“You ever tried the Café Tropical?” Patrick asked sarcastically. “I’ve heard people raving about how moderately edible the food is there.” His heart started beating a bit faster, thumping against in his chest. He had planned and practiced this all week in his car but of course, he’s still nervous.

“Well, yes,” David answered, cracking a smile.

“We could-we could go for a birthday dinner,” he suggested, trying for casual and confident but with his heart pounding, he tripped over his words.

“You don’t have to do that.” David thought he pitied him when it could not be further from the truth.

“No, I-I’d like to.”

Patrick watched David consider his offer.

“Sure.”

“Should we say eight o’clock?”

“Okay,” David said with a small smile.

“Okay,” Patrick echoed with the same smile.

He was trying his best to not grin like a lunatic as he spritzed the plants, but fireworks were going off in his head. He did it! They were going on their first date tonight! They were going to have to close a little early so he could run home and get ready. He needed to figure out a gift because there was no way he was showing up without one. But what to get the man who buys everything? Not clothes or anything normal people would consider fancy. Not anything that dies, so animals and plants are out—

That’s when he remembers what he’s doing, coming back down to Earth. He stared at the box of soaked ferns.

“Those are wet now.”

“That’s a lot of spritzing,” David commented.

“I’m gonna dry those off,” Patrick said, heading to the back room for a towel.

“Okay.”

Once he was alone, he let himself smile as big as his face would allow him. He was going on his first date with a man and it was with David. This could not be more perfect.


 It was possibly too perfect.

The rest of Patrick’s day was spent in his own head figuring out what to get David. He hoped he didn’t think he was being weird when his answers were a little stilted or he was staring a little too long.

Five o’clock rolled around and they locked their doors. Patrick posted a small sign in the window saying, “Sorry for the inconvenience – it’s David’s birthday and we’re out celebrating!”

“I don’t know why you needed to put that on the sign,” David said as he printed out their sales total receipt.

“It’s an exciting day!” he replied as he came over to the counter. David gave him a small smile.

“Well, I have everything set out for you to close out the register, so I’m, um, gonna head out so I can get ready.”

“I’m gonna get you to do math one of these days.”

“But it’s my birthday,” David whined jokingly. Patrick chuckled.

“That’s fair,” he said. David stepped away from the register and headed toward the door.

“See you at eight o’clock.” He gave Patrick a shy wave before finally exiting.

Patrick exhaled heavily. The whole day had gone by and he had yet to figure out what to get David. Had this been literally any other friend he would have gone with a gift card or tie or whatever. But this was David, the man he’d been crushing on for months. It had to be better than a gift card to the Olive Garden in Elmdale. (As if he’d ever see David stepping a foot into an Olive Garden either.)

He opened the cash door and quickly counted everything in there, reconciling it with the slip David had printed. Thankfully there were no problems; it would have killed him to stay later to resolve them. He lifted the drawer to toss the receipt in there to file in the morning and saw it.

The receipt from their first sale. The culmination of their work together. Really, their baby.

He hadn’t told David he saved it.

This was definitely something he couldn’t buy at JCPenney.


Patrick had a plan.

  1. Shower and change at home.
  2. Buy a frame at the craft store.
  3. Woo David at dinner.
  4. Gift him his gift.
  5. Drive David home and, if everything has gone well, kiss him.

That last one had every emotion in Patrick’s brain swirling. Nothing dirty, of course. They didn’t need to make-out in the backseat like teenagers. Just… kiss him.

The butterflies in his stomach took flight every time he thought about what that would be like.

The stop at the craft store could not have gone better. The woman working there was thrilled to help him. She helped him select a quality frame, set the receipt inside, and then gift wrapped it for free. Normally meticulous, Patrick was certain he would have torn any wrapping paper or bag if he’d done it himself.

He had the right to be nervous. This wasn’t some store-bought present. Sentimental gifts meant something. He so desperately wanted this to go well. If it didn’t, things were going to be very awkward at the store.

He arrived at the restaurant a little early to scope out a table. David was going to be there soon, so he needed to get his nerves a moment or two to settle down.

“Ooh, who’s the present for?” Twyla asked with a big smile, nodding to the gift gently tucked in the corner of the booth.

“Oh, David Rose,” Patrick answered. “It’s his birthday today.”

“Wow! How exciting!” she said as she slid two menus onto the table. “I love birthdays. Our carrot cake isn’t the freshest so it’ll hold candles pretty well—“

“I’m not sure we’re going to do cake tonight,” Patrick interrupted. He could practically feel the dryness of the cake in his mouth. “But I’ll definitely let you know.”

“I’ve been known to lead a very rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’—“

“That, I’m pretty sure David won’t want.”

“Gotcha,” Twyla said, deflated. She slid her hands into her apron. “Well, keep me posted. I’m on a break in like, 20 minutes, so don’t take too long, ‘kay?” She gave him another brilliant smile before bouncing to the next table.

Patrick took another deep breath, laying his hands in his lap. This was going to go well. He and David worked so well when they were alone. This was going to be nothing.

Then David came through the door.

He had changed to another sweater and this one Patrick wanted to rub his face in it. He had felt how soft some of David’s sweaters were the times they had hugged and the lightning bolt sweater was by far one of the softest.

“I almost didn’t see you there through the mad rush of the Friday night dinner crowd,” David joked as he approached the table.

“I’m just so relieved that I made a reservation,” Patrick answered.

“Yes, well, you look very nice.”

“Oh, thanks,” he said, faking nonchalance. “Well, you know, I assumed the café would have a dinner jacket policy and I didn’t want to wear one of theirs.”

Joking with David was so natural. This was going to be easy.

“Mhm. Well, the amazing thing about this place,” David said wryly as he opened his menu, “is that they’ve done such a wonderful job of editing down their menu to a very concise, world-class selection of international cuisine.” Patrick chuckled when David opened the menu even further. It was truly absurd how many cuisines Café Tropical tried to fit on the menu. Even more ironic was the fact they didn’t even do tropical food.

“Agreed, agreed,” he said, then pointed to the menu. “Dare we try the deep-fried mozzarella stick platter?”

“Mm. They do a lovely wine pairing with that, so…”

“Sorry, I’m late!” a voice said.

Stevie was standing at the end of their table.

“Is everybody here or are other people coming?” she asked.

Never had Patrick felt this off-balance.

“I don’t know. I-Is anyone else coming?” He hoped David couldn’t read the panic in his eyes.

“No. This is, um, this is it,” David answered. “In case you didn't know, I'm wildly popular. Some might even venture to call me beloved.”

“That’s a bit of a stretch,” Patrick said sarcastically.

David gave him one of his favorite smiles and it made Patrick wish even more they were alone.

“Welcome, Stevie,” he said, hiding his nervousness poorly. “I-I-I’m sorry. If I’d known you were coming I would’ve had them set, uh, three places, but uh—“

“Oh!”

“Did I not tell you?” David asked uncomfortably.

“But you know, hey, the more the merrier,“ he said as he watched all his plans crumble to the ground. “I'm just going to hit the restroom real quick. And then I'll come back.” He slid out of the booth and raced to the bathroom.

Quickly locking the door and leaning against it, Patrick needed to regroup. He wasn’t prepared to flirt with David in front of other people while they actively looked on. He liked Stevie, he really did, but her and David were best friends. They had their own banter that dominated conversation and sure, Patrick was well versed in David pile-ons, but that’s not how he wanted to spend his first date with him.

This was salvageable. He could still give David a ride home and then give him his gift. Yes, then in the stillness of the car, David could see just how much Patrick cared about him. Eh, then they run the risk of David’s family coming outside if they’re there too long.

Maybe this wasn’t his night after all.

He may as well make the best of it.

After another couple deep breaths, Patrick emerged from the bathroom and saw David’s gift out in the open.

“Oh, I see you found my present,” he said, trying for cool.

“Um, yeah,” David said awkwardly. “We didn’t want anything to spill on it.” His eyes kept darting to Stevie.

“So you put it on the table?”

“Yeah.” David nodded bashfully. Clearly something happened before he got back.

“Open it, David!” Stevie suddenly declared. Panic immediately set in. This was officially not fun for him.

“Oh, no, no, no, no. You can open it later,” he argued as Stevie kept chanting ‘Open it!’. He tried pulling the bag away but David was tugging on the other side. “It’s really not a big deal. It’s not—“ He let David win, sliding the bag across the table.

“This is the first gift I haven’t bought myself in a very long time,” David told them. “So thank you.” He immediately started pulling the tissue paper off the top. Patrick’s heart was in his throat but he couldn’t let them know.

“You’re going to be so underwhelmed when you open it. Trust me, it’s not—“

And there it was. The frame with the receipt in David’s hands.

“See? It’s nothing.”

“What is it?” Stevie asked, leaning over the table to see.

David was silent.

“Oh, it’s just the receipt from our first sale at the store,” Patrick explained. His heart pounded in his chest.

But then he looked at David who was staring at him curiously, fondly.

“Um, this is not nothing,” David said tenderly. “So thank you.”

His thanks settled in Patrick’s stomach. Its honesty warmed him. In all the time he had spent with David, he was rarely serious. The world narrowed to just the two of them in this moment. Patrick wished he was alone with David so he could follow one romantic gesture with another. But it would have to wait.

The clatter of ceramic plate and the smell of plastic-y cheese brought Patrick back to the table.

“I overheard someone wanted mozzarella sticks for their birthday,” Twyla said smugly. “Pretty sure I scraped off all the freezer burn.”

“Wow, look at those…” he said. He had never seen a sadder plate of deep fried cheese.

“You guys need anything else?” she asked as she removed her apron. “’Cause I’m heading out, so…”

“You know what? I have to go too,” Stevie said, gathering her things. Patrick stood up to let her out of the booth. She nabbed a fistful of mozzarella sticks. “I’m gonna take some to go—”

“Okay, I should warn you, those don’t travel well,” Twyla said. “Even coming from the kitchen they lost a lot of shape.” She quickly left them alone. A ten-minute break was only so long.

They truly were the saddest mozzarella sticks he had ever seen. He needed to make a list of all the restaurants he wanted to take David to. He deserved better than this.

“This is a very solid frame,” David said. He seemed calmer, more at ease which soothed Patrick. His nerves were settling while the normal butterflies took flight.

“Thank you. I’m learning.” He’d have to thank the woman at the craft store later.

David gently placed the frame on the tissue paper.

As much as Patrick wanted to live in this quiet moment, the mozzarella sticks weren’t going to be warm for much longer.

“Shall we?”

They each picked up a mozzarella stick and ‘clinked’ them together.

The rest of dinner went exactly as expected. Conversation flowed so easily and naturally. He found out all about all of David’s previous birthdays and how they were disappointing in one way or another. He talked about his own problem with having a birthday near the holidays and getting the dreaded birthday-Christmas gifts. As he talked, David watched him with a small smile constantly tugging at his lips.

There was nowhere else Patrick wanted to be.


With the bill settled, Patrick and David departed for the motel in Patrick’s Sonata.

While the dinner was lively and comfortable, the drive was silent.

All Patrick could focus on was kissing David before the night was over.

Electricity thrummed through his body. Earlier, he envisioned himself giving some smooth line he had rehearsed in his head, then taking David’s face in his hands and kissing him within an inch of his life. Instead, his heart felt enlarged. He had to do it. He would regret it every minute he would see David from now until eternity if he didn’t.

David didn’t seem to notice. His eyes were closed, taking in the cool breeze from the open window.

They pulled up to the motel and parked.

“Well that was a fun night,” David said with a delicate smile as he turned to Patrick.

“I’m really glad I decided to invest in your business, David,” he said seriously. He meant it. If he hadn’t, he would not be in his car right now thinking about how much he desperately wanted the man in the passenger seat.

“That is a really lovely thing to say,” David replied.

“‘And I’m so glad you did, Patrick, because you’ve really turned it into the success that it is,’” Patrick said sardonically.

“Mm! A bold claim,” David said, playfully nodding. Patrick couldn’t help but smile. He knew David wasn’t the best at expressing gratitude with words, but he knew the gratitude was there.

David’s gaze grew serious as the silence between them lengthened. Patrick started to panic. What was the next part of his script?

Then David leaned very purposefully, nearly imperceptibly, toward him.

His breath caught and his heart leapt to his throat.

David leaned further over the console and Patrick met him halfway as their lips connected. David took control and he was certainly not shy about kissing him. His lips were unbelievably soft and Patrick could taste the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting from the carrot cake Twyla surprised them with, sans candle and singing. He could feel the sandpapery burn of David’s 5 o’clock shadow brush his chin. The aroma of his cologne was completely intoxicating this close. His hand cupped Patrick’s cheek, his wide palm like a brand on his skin.

He had kissed a few girls in high school, trying to fit in. It never felt right. Everything always felt off.

But right now, in his Hyundai Sonata, there was absolutely no doubt Patrick was kissing a man.

Better yet, it was a man he was crazy about. It was David.

Almost as quickly as it started, David shyly withdrew and sat back in his seat without a word. Patrick was stunned. It confirmed everything he had been feeling for years – and for specifically David – in only a couple seconds. Few moments in his life had been so clear as this one. And he was so relieved someone in the car had it together enough to do it.

“Thank you,” Patrick finally said.

“For what?”

“I’ve never done that before… with a guy,” he explained. He was embarrassed to admit that to David, but he had to be honest.

David’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“Okay…” he said.

“Yeah,” Patrick continued as his heart sped up. “And uh, I was getting a little scared that I was going to let you leave here without us having done that. So, um, thank you for, uh, making that happen for us.” David’s face softened with an adoring smile.

“Well,” David said, then paused as if to gather his words. “Fortunately, I am a very generous person. So…”

Patrick chuckled. It was such a relief that nothing was going to change between them, that their relationship was only going to grow and develop from this point. Everything they had before tonight was just as real as it was right here. David wasn’t going to stop being himself after this and Patrick couldn’t be more grateful.

He was hesitant to say he was falling in love, but he was prepared for the dive.

“Can we talk tomorrow?” he asked David. Sure, they were going to be at the store, but there was a difference between talking and talking.

David nodded emphatically.

“We can talk whenever you’d like,” he said before adding dryly, “Just preferably not before 10am because I’m not really a morning person.”

“Mhm.” David was ridiculous.

They were both all smiles as David unbuckled his seatbelt and exited the car with his gift.

“Goodnight, David.” David leaned through the car window.

“Goodnight, Patrick,” he answered softly. He walked up to the motel room door and glanced back at Patrick with the same contained, excited smile Patrick knew he himself was wearing. Then he watched David slide into the room, gently shutting the door behind him.

Patrick fell back against his seat, beaming. Everything was swirling in his head: nervousness, relief, excitement, yearning, desire, unbridled joy. He couldn’t think of a time when he was this happy. To have his first kiss with a man be with the one he had been crushing on since basically the first time they met was unimaginable, yet here he was. And he wanted to do it again and again and again.

He pulled out onto the road and started the journey home, the cool night air whipping through the open windows. The radio played softly as he drove down the country highway. That is, until Patrick heard the dulcet tones of Boyz II Men. He laughed. Never once had he related to love song dedications but tonight it was exactly what he wanted.

He cranked the dial and sang the whole way home.

Chapter Text

Wow.

Patrick’s skin was buzzing, his lips still tingling from when David kissed him. It had been hours since it happened, but he couldn’t fall asleep. The moment kept playing over and over in his head. Each time he’d remember other little things from the evening: David’s smile at his gift, his cologne, his palm against Patrick’s cheek. It was all so clear.

With the door finally open, his imagination was swirling with possibilities. He thought about David and him kissing in the store, holding hands while walking through town, and having a home-cooked dinner together. He could picture them watching a movie together at his place, curled up on the couch. At some point during the film, they’d start kissing, slowly and tenderly. Then David would straddle his lap and they’d really be making out, David’s hands in his hair, his hands running up David’s back. And then David would unbutton Patrick’s shirt before tugging at his belt…

Patrick threw off the covers for the fourth time that night thanks to that scenario and many, many others like it. He was going to torture himself if he kept letting his mind go wild. He knew he wasn’t ready to go there yet as much as he wanted to touch and keep touching. This was the first romance in which he was one hundred percent emotionally present. He wanted to take things slowly to savor each and every precious minute.

But he’d be a liar if he said he didn’t want David in his bed. God, did he want that. He wanted David to want him like that.

So here he was, staring at the ceiling with the covers strewn aside, grinning like an idiot. Tenderly, Patrick ran his fingers over his lips as if he could still feel the kiss.

They did that.

He glanced over at his bedside clock: 5:04am. Good a time as any to start the day if he wasn’t going sleep anyway.


 

Dawn was just breaking as Patrick unlocked the front doors to the store. The whole place was aglow from the warmth of the sun. He’d never seen the store at sunrise. He took a moment to lean against the counter, silently sipping from his insulated coffee mug, watching the products become illuminated from the sunlight peeking over the trees. Despite his lack of sleep, Patrick had never felt more awake.

For the next couple hours, he reorganized the products on the tables, put labels on newly arrived products, checked all the testers, and swept. He was in the midst of rearranging the baskets on the wall when he heard the door open.

His breath caught in his throat and he couldn’t help but smile, seeing him in the doorway.

“Hi,” David said softly.

“Hi,” Patrick echoed. He let out a quiet laugh. The joy he felt in his chest was enormous.

David cautiously approached him and gave him a kiss on the cheek, his hand on Patrick’s shoulder. It was a familiar greeting he’d never done before and it was one Patrick could get used to.

“So someone’s been busy,” David remarked as he glanced around the store.

“Oh yeah. Yeah. Been up since 5. Could not sleep. Been thinking about… stuff. You know, last night.” Why was he getting shy now? David knew what they did last night.

“Regrets?” David asked, wincing.

“What? No. Why would I have regrets?” He was so confused. Did David have regrets?

“I don’t know. I think it’s a habit to ask.”

“Oh, no. No regrets,” Patrick assured him. “No, I feel good. I feel like a weight’s been sort of lifted off my shoulders. It’s all very new and it’s a lot to process.” He still couldn’t believe that happened last night. With every minute, it felt more and more surreal.

“Well, here’s something fun: what if I stayed at your place tonight?” David asked playfully.

Oh. Oh boy.

“Huh.”

He was not prepared for that question. Patrick had seen movies where gay men have sex immediately, and figured that was only in the movies. David wanted him this much to dive off the deep end from the very start…

“It’s just that there are some things happening at the motel and I—“ He cut David off.

“Yeah, uh, sorry, David. Maybe I haven’t been clear,” he said seriously. “But I’m gonna have to take this a lot slower than a sleepover tonight.” The tangled emotions in his chest made it so hard to say no. While he wanted to, he needed to go at his own pace to process everything happening.

“Oh, okay, no, not like a sleepover-sleepover—“

“I think that it’s important that I be honest with you about how I’m feeling ‘cause I know you have a lot of experience in this area,” he said. He couldn’t believe they were having this conversation this soon. “But for me—“

“Oh my god, no.” David said defensively. “I mean, yes, I do, but that’s not what I’m implying—“

Just then, the doorbell chimed and in walked David’s mother, Mrs. Rose. Patrick had met her at the store opening. She’d come in a couple times after and never remembered his name. David turned to look behind him.

“A ding-a-ding,” she said cheerfully.

“Oh, hey Mrs. Rose,” Patrick answered. He picked up a box and said to David, “Just taking this to the back. Maybe we’ll talk about this later?” He made a beeline to the back of the store where he could finally breathe.

He wasn’t upset, just bewildered. David seemed so understanding last night when he disclosed his greenness. If that was miscommunicated, there were going to be bigger issues.

“Yeah, but it’s some crossed wires—“ David called after him before presumably turning to his mother. “May I help you?”

“It’s startlingly quiet in here, David. Is that a good sign?”

“I thought you were booked up all day and that’s why you couldn’t help Dad with the dea—with that thing at the motel.”

So there really was an issue at the motel.

“I am booked up, David. You should see my schedule. I’m positively bedeviled with meetings, et cetera,” she explained.

“What are you doing here?!” David asked, exasperated.

Patrick grabbed another box of products and went back out into the main room where David and Mrs. Rose were still speaking.

“You know what I’d love? A tea.”

“We don’t sell tea!”

“You know, I was gonna go make a run to the café. I could get you a tea if you want,” Patrick offered. He could tell she wanted private time with David, and he was ready for some fresh air.

“No, that’s not necessary,” David said to him.

“How serendipitous,” she said. “Thank you, Peter.”

“It’s Patrick,” he corrected her. It wasn’t the first time she’d forgotten his name. “Anything else?”

“Nothing else for me, thank you, just the scone,” Mrs. Rose called after him. He stopped.

“You mean the tea?”

“Why not? Thank you.”

Patrick made eye contact with David who was clearly displeased with his mother making demands of him. He hated to leave him when they had so much to discuss, but now was not the time.

He looked back at David before exiting the store and into the warm sunlight. The tension in his shoulders diminished with each step toward the café. He hadn’t realized how charged that room was given how little they had said.

Once inside Café Tropical, Twyla greeted him at the counter.

“Good morning! Back so soon?” she asked, referring to last night.

“That I am,” he said. “But I’m just here for some drinks to take back to the store.”

“Gotcha. You get the black coffee, nothing added, and David gets the…” She trailed off as she moved toward the coffee machine.

“Caramel macchiato with skim,” Patrick finished for her, then added, “Oh, and can you put the two sweeteners at the bottom of the cup before you pour in the milk? He always forgets to tell you then complains later about the grittiness when he has to add it himself. And the sprinkle of cocoa powder on top, too.”

“Sure thing,” Twyla replied, giving him her thousand-watt smile.

“And a tea, whatever you’ve got, and that scone.” He pointed to a blueberry scone on the pastry dish.

“Got it.”

Twyla was getting so fast with her drink-making skills. The first time David ordered a caramel macchiato, Twyla had to dust off the espresso machine. Now, she had the skill of a seasoned barista. At least, when it came to caramel macchiatos, given the frequency at which she had to make them.

In mere minutes, he had three drinks in a tray and a scone in a bag, and was headed back to the store. Hopefully David and Mrs. Rose were able to discuss whatever important family business while he was out.

The pair were silent and watching him when he reentered the store, presumably so he wouldn’t hear their conversation.

“One tea for you,” Patrick said, handing Mrs. Rose her drink. He turned to David with his cup, “One caramel macchiato with skim, two sweeteners, and a sprinkle of cocoa powder for you.”

“Thank you,” David whispered as he watched him curiously. He was with David every morning when they ordered coffee. Of course he knew his coffee order.

“You’re very speedy,” Mrs. Rose commented.

“Thanks,” he said. He held up the small paper bag. “I wasn’t sure about the scone, so I got one just to be safe.” She gave him a befuddled look.

“There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, dear.” Patrick was very certain she had asked for a scone, but he wasn’t going to argue the point if she didn’t remember.

He quickly ducked to the back of the store again to stay out of their conversation. There wasn’t much left to do since he did most of it this morning before David even got there. Maybe he could start preparing their bills for the month?

“...refused the man and the next thing I know, he turns up dead!” Patrick could hear them murmuring before, but after Mrs. Rose’s exclamation, he couldn’t help but eavesdrop.

“Well, why didn’t you just give him the pill?”

“Because, David! … Killing a man! Over a complimentary bolus!”

That’s what was happening at the motel. David wasn’t using an excuse.

“Okay, well, are you even sure that the pill would’ve saved his life?”

“We’ll have to let the courts decide!”

“The courts?! Well, now that you’ve unloaded this on me, what am I? An accomplice?”

“David! I came here to be talked off a ledge, not pushed!”

This was getting ridiculous. He knew David only had a cursory knowledge of business and Mrs. Rose had even less. Patrick left the back room to confront the two of them with the truth.

“Can you imagine this,” David said to his mother, gesturing to his body, “In prison?!”

“Can I interject?” Patrick said loudly as he stepped behind Mrs. Rose. She turned to look at him. “I know I wasn’t supposed to be listening to this conversation, but it’s a small space and your voice carries so beautifully. Mrs. Rose, I can say with one-hundred percent certainty that you have nothing to worry about.”

“Well, that’s very kind of you, but now is not the time for well-intended placations,” she said dismissively, turning away from him.

He continued, “You’re legally prohibited from supplying medication to your guests. So by not giving him anything, you’ve actually avoided any potential liability in his death.” His hospitality business class was so long ago, but the rule was basically the same across all businesses.

Mrs. Rose gave him a pleased smile.

“Well, there we have it then. Thank god you’re here, Pa…”

“—trick,” David supplied.

“—trick,” she finished. “You know how David can get carried away, I’m sure.”

“Oh, I do,” he said lovingly. He adored that about David. There was never a dull moment and now he could certainly see where he got his flair for the dramatic.

“Well, I suppose I’ll head back to the scene of the crime of which I had nothing to do!” Mrs. Rose said before picking up a tub of clay mask cream and stuffing it in her bag. Was she seriously shoplifting from her own son’s store? In front of both of them, nonetheless?

“Can I ring that up for you?” Patrick asked awkwardly.

“I paid way too much for a wedge of brie last week, so let’s call it even.”

“I don’t think it works like that,” David corrected her.

She turned to David and said very quietly, “Alexis was right. He’s a button.”

David waited, clearly frustrated, as she left the store. Patrick guessed he wasn’t supposed to know David had talked to his mother about him. He gave David an awkward smile in return.

“Thanks,” David murmured as he picked up his drink. “This isn’t gritty.”

“I had her add the sweetener before milk,” Patrick explained sheepishly. David gazed at him with adoring eyes. He loved it when David gave him that look. It made his heart skip a beat.

But they really needed to talk.

“David—“

Just then, a customer came in looking for a face cream that worked for both dry and oily skin, and the moment was gone. David did what he does best and assisted the customer with ease and grace in finding the perfect product.

Patrick let himself drift back to the back room. He didn’t need to be hovering around waiting for David to finish.

Once he heard the bell chime and the shop go quiet, Patrick knew it would be safe to emerge to talk. David was leaning on one of the back tables, staring off in the distance, his hands pressed into the homespun sweaters.

“So you told your mom about us?” he asked.

“No,” David said after a moment. “I told Alexis about us and she likely told my mom.”

“Ah.”

There was so much he wanted to say to David. He wanted to apologize for jumping to conclusions. He wanted to tell him how much he did want to sleep with him, but just not yet. He wanted to tell him how much he felt for him, how much he meant to him. But they needed to finish their conversation from earlier, especially now that Patrick had the whole story.

“’Kay, listen, David—“

“No, you listen,” David said, brusquely cutting Patrick off. “Sorry, that came off way harsher than I wanted it to.

“I know how this looks, especially considering that you just told me you wanted to take things slow. But me wanting to stay at your place… It was more about what was happening at the—“

He was flustered, trying to apologize for something that he didn’t need to apologize for. Patrick was the one who felt foolish, immediately thinking that’s what was going to happen, that he assumed that was what David wanted.

“I know that now,” Patrick said calmly, “and I’m sorry for assuming you just wanted to stay at my house to sleep with me, or whatever.” He grew shy and awkward as he admitted to his assumptions. As much as he knew it was wrong and wanted to take it slow, he was a bit saddened that the reason wasn’t to sleep with him. It was really difficult to want it both ways.

There was a long pause before David responded, “No, it was purely circumstantial. You know, because of the dead body at the…”

“Right,” Patrick chuckled. Okay, maybe there was a little ulterior motive. That made his skin prickle with excitement. The fantasies from last night had refreshed and moved to the forefront of his mind, reminding him of something that is right within his grasp.

Guess it was his turn now. There was so much he wanted to tell him before his mother showed up and Patrick just needed to find that bravery again. He turned to David.

“You know, when you kissed me, that—that felt like my first time,” he confessed. “All the things you’re supposed to feel, I felt them last night.” His first kiss was with a girl in high school, and he remembered feeling disappointed. People in the movies described their first kisses like fireworks, but there were none with her. Last night, there was a full fireworks display.

David smiled at him, before saying, “Well, if we’re being honest with each other, this is sort of like my first time too.”

Patrick was confused. Hadn’t David…?

“I mean, it’s not. I’ve kissed like, a thousand people,” David corrected, making Patrick laugh. Then he got serious. “But nobody that I cared about. Or respected. Or thought was nice…? So in a way, it’s like we’re both starting something new.”

Patrick’s heart was thrumming a little faster. He thought he was going to be lightyears behind David in terms of experience in all realms, but here they were on equal footing. He already knew David cared about him yet to hear him say it aloud was something else. There was always a joke to guard him from any heartfelt admissions. His feelings for Patrick were instead spoken in their purest form.

“Thank you, David,” Patrick whispered. Then, jokingly added, “And hey, for the record, I also respect you and think that you’re a good person.” David nodded in understanding and Patrick waited for the volley.

“It’s just that I said nice person—”

“I know.”

“Oh.”

Patrick closed the gap between them. He wrapped his arms around David’s waist and kissed him tenderly. Warmth blossomed in his chest, flowing out like molten gold and filling his body with a yearning sensation. Second kisses were better than firsts.

“Just need you to say ‘nice’ person,” David said bluntly after breaking their kiss.

“You’re a good person,” Patrick repeated with a smirk. It was going to drive David nuts.

“That’s not nice,” he replied, smiling.

Patrick leaned back in and kissed David again, long and languidly. David draped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders as they gently swayed, trading sweet kisses that made Patrick dizzy. There was nothing else he'd rather do.

Chapter Text

Patrick was drunk on David.

He couldn’t stop thinking about his legs, his ass, his chest, his shoulders, his arms, his hands, his neck, his hair, his eyes, his voice, his lips…

Oh god, his lips.

David was a great kisser. He was soft and tender, determined and dominant. Every kiss made Patrick want more.

Their first kiss was cute compared to the amount of making out he and David had done in the last week.

…which would have been more if they could just find some damn privacy.

It seemed like they had tried just about everywhere.

At the motel, David had to bribe Alexis to leave their room. It only ever bought them around 15 minutes before either of David’s parents came barging through the adjoining door or Alexis realized she forgot something.

The room Patrick was renting at Ray’s wasn’t good either. Every time they went over there, Ray would greet them and start talking, following them upstairs, and still speaking to them through the closed door. There was once when they got a solid 7 minutes in before Ray found them. It was a new record.

Making out in the backseat of Patrick’s car was challenging mostly because they were two grown men attempting to be as small and limber as two teenage boys. The backseat of a Hyundai Sonata was only so big.

They seemingly always ended up back at the store, which was fine for the time being. They could close the doors at night and get some quality time together. But seeing as there was only so much they could do standing up and David understandably refused to lay down on the floor, the store was turning into an equally bad location. Plus, customers kept coming in? Thankfully Patrick was able to break away to do his job when it was necessary. Business was second nature to him, after all.

A new routine started to emerge from their necessity to spend at least a little time alone together. They would both arrive about an hour before open and get their opening tasks done right away. Once everything was ready, they’d spend the rest of the time kissing until their first customer walked in the door.

They had truly reverted to their teenage selves.

This morning, David was late.

Patrick opened the store without him, as he had done many times before, but he couldn’t help yearning for David to be there for their new routine. He itched to feel David’s sweater under his fingertips and his soft lips against his own.

Patrick didn’t have a problem, no sir.

Around 10:15am, the bell chimed. He looked up from organizing the facial moisturizers and there was David striding right for him.

“Morning, David. I was worried you—” David cut him off with a kiss. “—weren’t coming in.”

David didn’t answer, just kissed him again, his arms wrapping around Patrick’s waist.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Just wanted to catch us up since my family ruined my life,” David answered.

“What happened?”

“Well, for starters, Alexis is pregnant.”

What?!

“Exactly,” David said judgingly. He turned them so he could sit down on one of the tables with Patrick between his legs. David leaned over to one of the small jars of something on the table next to him. He pressed the plastic jar into Patrick’s palm.

“Would you be so kind as to rub this under my eyes for me?” David asked, then kissed Patrick with equal sweetness.

Patrick wasn’t going to say no to that. He unscrewed it and took out a small dollop to apply to David’s beautiful face.

“I always knew this was going to happen eventually,” David said. “Our room is already too small with both of us in there and our parents barging in whenever. Now there’s going to be a baby. I’m not prepared to be an uncle and Alexis sure is not ready to be a mom. This is horrible news. I’m so upset, and I really need kisses to make me feel better.”

Patrick chuckled. He leaned down and gave David a lingering kiss.

“You don’t seem too upset.”

“Okay, I just think I’m in a state of shock, you know? The news is very numbing and I’m feeling very alone.”

“Mhm.”

He kissed him again.

“Imagine how Alexis must feel,” he said to David.

“Yeah, I haven’t spoken to her.”

“Huh.”

If he hadn’t talked to Alexis, how did he know she was pregnant? Actually, Patrick didn’t want to know. Any answer came with a deep invasion of privacy. David was probably assuming something from some outlandish “pregnancy sign” he had read online or in a magazine.

He had finished gently smoothing the cream under David’s eyes and looked at the container. He vaguely remembered ordering this.

“Remind me, what is this again?” he asked.

“That is a eucalyptus under-eye serum,” David explained.

Patrick gave him another kiss, resting his hands on David’s thighs.

“And remind me why you can’t apply it yourself?”

“Because it requires a steady hand and I’m going through a lot right now,” David said flirtatiously.

“Right.” Patrick was such a sucker for David flirting with him. Sometimes it was teasing, sometimes it was a helpless charade, sometimes it was silent stares. Any way you slice it, he was powerless to it.

David smiled as Patrick kissed him again. God, he wanted him so much—

Ding!

A customer. Of course.

They quickly pulled apart, trying to awkwardly play the part of two business partners who were not just making out. The customer didn’t look bothered in the slightest by the sight in front of her.

“Hey, I was looking for some—”

“We don’t sell that,” David interrupted.

“—bath salts,” she finished.

“We actually do sell those,” Patrick corrected. “They’re on the middle shelf, just over there. I’ll be over to help you in a second.” He turned back to David.

“Okay,” David said, bothered. “Between Alexis getting knocked up and us not having enough privacy to connect, I’m feeling very shaken.” Patrick rested his hands on David’s thighs again and leaned in close.

“Do you think you’re gonna make it, though?” he asked teasingly.

“Unclear,” he answered, holding back a grin. “Unclear on whether I’m gonna make it through or not.”

“Hang in there,” Patrick whispered. He so badly wanted to kiss David again, but he knew if he did, he’d never go help that customer.

Much to his chagrin, the customer had a lot of questions about bath salts: What were they made of? Why did they smell different? How did they smell different? What happens when you put bath salts in a bird bath? Can you use it on dogs? Did he think her dad would like some? Was it the same bath salts that guy took then ate that other guy’s face? Would they make her want to eat someone’s face off?

Normally, he could handle all of the weird questions the denizens of Schitt’s Creek threw at him, but when David was across the store giving him super flirtatious glances, Patrick could hardly focus. He knew he asked David if they could go slow, but that didn’t mean the sexual frustration wasn’t there. Far from it.

Once the customer had finally purchased her selections (over $120 worth, thank God), Patrick let out a sigh of relief. The store was blissfully empty again, but David wasn’t anywhere in sight.

Then he felt warm hands slide around his waist and stop right above his belt buckle, David pressed right up against him, his lips brushing Patrick’s ear.

“I need your help with something in the back,” David whispered.

Patrick didn’t need to be told twice.

He quickly followed him behind the curtain and was immediately pushed up against the nearest wall. David wasn’t often aggressive with him, but holy shit did it turn him on when he took control. What started as a simple kiss turned filthy. David’s tongue gently touched Patrick’s and any semblance of thought prior to this instant was gone.

David crowded him against the wall, his thigh slotted between Patrick’s legs, pressing deliciously against his groin. He could feel David’s interest pressed against his hip and he groaned. He wrapped his arms around David’s waist, one hand sliding under his sweater and t-shirt to press hotly against the skin, his fingertips just barely dipping under David’s waistband.

It was all the encouragement David needed to roll his hips, grinding his clothed erection into Patrick and holy shit. Stars exploded behind Patrick’s eyelids. He lightly pushed David’s lower back and he rolled his hips. Patrick tried it a second time, and David followed. He was basically guiding David to hump him, and he had never felt so alive.

Oh my god,” he moaned as he tipped his head back against the wall. David kissed his way down Patrick’s neck.

If this was any indication of what sex with David was going to be like, Patrick shivered with anticipation. He knew going slow was the best plan for the long-run. That didn’t mean he couldn’t imagine what it would be like. David was so well practiced and Patrick was an amateur. Sometimes it was difficult to think about all the people David had previously been with, but in this moment, Patrick was ready to send them each a fruit basket with a handwritten thank-you note.

Then he heard it.

That damn bell.

“David,” he murmured. “David, someone’s here.” David kissed back up his neck to his lips, seemingly ignoring him.

“They can take whatever they want,” he replied.

“No, we need to get out there.”

Then he heard Stevie from the main room say, “Ding ding!”

“You have to be kidding me,” David groaned quietly. He detangled himself from Patrick and disappeared behind the curtain. Cool air hit Patrick’s chest and he shivered.

“Hi, we’re actually closed today,” David said to Stevie.

“It’s 1 o’clock on a Friday,” she retorted.

Patrick had to get himself together if he was going to go out there at some point.

“Okay, is there something I can help you with?”

“Do you give all your customers this kind of VIP treatment?”

Patrick pressed the heel of his hand against the bulge in his jeans. Stevie already knew what they were doing, but he didn’t need to give her evidence of just how desperate things had gotten.

“Actually, I do. And I would love to keep chatting, it’s just that Patrick and I were working on fixing a lightbulb in the back, so…”

With another deep breath, he went out to join David and Stevie at the counter.

“Hey, Stevie.”

“Hi.”

“David and I were just in the back doing some inventory,” he lied.

“Yeah, it seems like you guys are really busy… at work…” she said sarcastically.

He was still so worked up that he needed to focus on literally anything other than David’s warm body next to him. He glanced out the window to check for any customers approaching the store.

“Oh, what’s that?” Stevie asked curiously, pointing between him and David.

“What’s what?” Patrick said.

“You got a little red, um, is that a bug bite? Or a little mouth-shaped sunburn?” she said, amusedly. “Looks like a hickey, actually.”

Patrick’s stomach dropped. He touched two fingers to his neck and pressed lightly. Dull pain prickled under his skin.

“It’s not,” he denied before turning to stare at David who was too happy about this for Patrick’s liking. “It’s not a hickey, right? Because that would be disgusting and wildly unprofessional. David, did you give me a hickey?”

“Okay, no, I didn’t,” David defended. “I gave you a half-hickey because we haven’t had the time or the privacy for me to give you a full hickey.”

Patrick picked up the mirror on the counter to examine David’s handiwork. He would have appreciated it more if it weren’t out there for everyone to see.

“If you give me 50 bucks, I’ll stand outside and tell people you’re on lunch,” Stevie offered.

“I’ll give you 50 cents to stand outside and never come back,” David shot back.

This was so mortifying. It was one thing to make-out when customers weren’t there but it was another to leave marks proving they were making out when customers weren’t there.

“You see, this is why we can’t do this here,” Patrick said firmly before buttoning his collar all the way up. He looked ridiculous.

“Desperate times, huh?” she asked with a smirk.

Trying times,” David corrected her. “Nothing about this is desperate. It’s just there’s a lot of people at the motel and Patrick is renting a room from Ray—”

“Who really likes to chat,” Patrick added.

“—So there has literally been zero privacy.”

“Well, if you want, I’m happy to offer you guys my apartment for the night,” Stevie said seriously.

“Why? Why would you do that?” David asked. He was oddly suspicious.

“Because I care about you two?"

“Okay, and where will you be?”

“Uh, if you must know, work’s been really stressful, so I’m going to take a little me time at a spa in Elmdale.” Seeing a dead body was a good enough explanation for the stress.

“That is super generous,” Patrick said. Though he was a little unsure if that was a good idea. David had told him about the incredibly brief fling he had with Stevie. “But wouldn’t it be a little bit weird us having alone time at your place? Especially ‘cause you guys have—"

“Oh god, we never—”

“Ugh, never—"

“We never did that there—”

“I still live there.”

Thank god, he wouldn’t have to be haunted by that thought if they took her up on it.

“We could consider it,” he said, looking to David who clearly had reservations on Stevie’s motive.

“What exactly is the catch?” he asked her.

“No catch.”

David hesitated, not knowing what to do with his hands. He must not have been expecting that answer. Why wasn’t he just saying ‘yes’ and ‘thank you’?

“David!” Patrick scolded him.

“What?!”

“We’ll take the place,” he said to Stevie.

“Okay, we’ll take the place,” David echoed.

“Great,” she said. “And I’ll take this.” Stevie grabbed the bag of strawberries she had dropped on the counter and quickly exited the store without paying. A couple customers came in as she left.

“So, there’s a bit of a catch,” David called after her.

“Why are you being weird?” Patrick said, crossing his arms and leaning against the counter.

“She’s hiding something,” he said. “She would have asked for more if there wasn’t something.”

“Or she could just be a nice person, David. Not everyone has ulterior motives,” he said as he leaned in, placing his hands on David’s waist. “Can you talk to her and set it up for tonight?”

“I can do that.”

“Good.” He gave David a quick chaste kiss before departing to help the customers.

They just had to keep their hands to themselves the rest of the day and then they were home free. In a few short hours, they were going to have privacy and alone time they had never truly experienced in their entire relationship, even just as business partners. What could possibly go wrong?


Stevie’s apartment was located in one of the more populated areas of Schitt’s Creek, near the police station and the library. It was only one of three apartment buildings in town, so it was fairly easy to find.

“Are you ready for tonight?” David asked with a mischievous grin as they approached the front door of the building.

“So ready,” Patrick replied. He was elated to have alone time with David, even if it was at David’s ex’s apartment.

David led him upstairs to apartment #4 where he quickly rapped on the door. It opened and there was Stevie, her bag already slung across her body, ready to go as soon as she passed the keys off.

“Please, come in, come in. Welcome,” she greeted, ushering them into the apartment. “Um, make yourselves at home.” Both David and Patrick dropped their bags near the front table and entered, looking around.

The apartment was surprisingly decorated for a woman David had previously asserted lived underground. It was a simple little studio with a hodge-podge of furniture, including a large Queen-size bed taking up most of the space. The kitchen was rather spacious with a fridge Patrick hadn’t seen in years.

“Oh, and I marked the booze, so I know if you touch it,” she said, pointing to a bottle sitting on a shelf above the stove.

“I noticed the line is a couple inches above where the whiskey starts,” Patrick said as he leaned against the fridge. Clearly she didn’t care that much if they did.

“I am stunned by your generosity,” David said sarcastically. Stevie handed him the keys. “Where exactly are you going tonight?”

“Out to a spa.”

“Which she already told us, so maybe just say thank you,” Patrick said. He thought he had gotten David off this suspicion on the drive over, but there was no stopping him and Patrick knew that.

“Oh no, I did. I did say thank you multiple times,” David told him, resting his elbow on Patrick’s shoulder, before turning to Stevie and inquiring, “What is the name of the spa?”

“David, just let her go,” he scolded him.

“Okay, okay.”

There was a knock on the door. That was weird.

“Are we expecting company, or…?” David asked.

“No, I wasn’t,” Stevie replied.

Just then, a tall man in a white and olive Henley entered. Stevie turned to look at him and David seemed to take extreme interest as well.

Guess David was right about the lack of true altruism.

“Hey Pony,” he called, “you ready to go?”

“What are you doing? I said I would meet you outside,” she said, annoyed.

“I thought I’d help you with your bags,” he said to her. Then the man looked up and made eye contact with David, who was looking mighty smug. “David. Wow. It’s been a while.”

“Pony,” David said, presumably to Stevie, but Patrick was more thrown when this man stepped right up and kissed David on the lips.

What?!

Patrick didn’t think he had a jealous or possessive bone in his body, yet suddenly all he wanted to do was make his territory. David was his.

“Wow, you look good,” the guy said to David who had taken to attaching himself to Patrick. “Who’s this guy?” He pointed to Patrick.

“This is… my…” David tried to answer. They never had to explain their relationship to anyone new before. everyone who knew they were together just knew they were together. They hadn’t needed to have the relationship label conversation yet. “That’s…”

Patrick extended his hand toward the man.

“Patrick.”

“That’s Patrick,” David helpfully supplied.

“And you are?” Patrick asked.

“Picking up Stevie,” the guy answered. That was… not helpful.

“Yeah, we’re gonna go, so…” Stevie said.

“So, not getting a name, then,” Patrick said defensively. He was mildly bothered that this man wouldn’t give him his name after he just kissed his partner.

“So you and Pony,” David said pointedly, “what do you have planned for tonight?”

“Well, it’s date night. So we thought we’d spend it in the woods.” The man was so casual even when the tension in the room clearly indicated otherwise.

“Yeah, just galloping around the woods, huh? With your Pony? Not at a spa, so.” David was clearly bitter. “I take it you two are still—”

“Seeing each other, yes,” Steven interrupted. “As it turns out, we are.”

“After we all broke up…” the man began. He said more words after that, but Patrick was very much stuck on that: ‘we all’? What did that mean?

“Yeah, yeah. No, it didn’t stick, did it,” David said, staring right at Stevie.

Patrick wanted an explanation to this bizarre statement. “When you say ‘we all broke up’—”

“So you offering your apartment had nothing to do with any guilt you felt about harboring a little secret,” David said to Stevie, ignoring Patrick’s question.

She paused, then gave the tiniest ‘nope’. She was very clearly embarrassed to be caught in her lie. “Just trying to be a good person. So. We’re going to go. Leave you two lovebirds—”

“Unless you two wanna come?” the guy asked.

“Nope, I don’t think so,” David said as he once again glommed onto Patrick’s arm. He was being incredibly weird about this, which was understandable because ‘we all broke up’???

“You do you,” the guy said before following Stevie out.

“Good to meet you… man,” Patrick called back lamely.

The door finally closed, and they were alone. David began nervously petting at Patrick’s arm in anticipation of what Patrick was going to say next.

“So we’re gonna talk about this, right?” he asked bluntly.

“Yup,” David immediately replied. “Just gonna grab that bottle of—”

“Whiskey?”

“Yeah, the whiskey.”

Patrick paced a little bit as David looked for two clean glasses.

“Who was that, David?” he asked, sounding a little angrier than he intended.

“That,” David said, “is my ex, Jake.”

“Huh. Okay. And what did he mean by ‘when we all broke up’? That’s the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around…”

Did Jake mean they were all dating each other? Like, a throuple? He thought David and Stevie were forever ago but maybe it was more recent than that. Maybe David wished they hadn’t broken up. Was David polyamorous as well as pansexual? Would he want to date more people than just Patrick? He didn’t think he could handle having to share David with anyone. They had a hard-enough time finding time to themselves and to lose some of that time to someone else would kill him. Perhaps he was more possessive than previously believed.

David set down two tumblers next to the bottle of whiskey with a dull thud. Patrick stood across the counter from him, trying to slow his racing thoughts.

“It was a while ago, before I met you. Before I even bought the general store,” David explained as he poured. “And I met him—”

“Jake.”

“Yes, Jake, at a party. We were seeing each other for all of like, 12 hours before I discovered he was also dating Stevie without telling either of us. Then we all sat down and decided that none of us were going to date. Or at least, I thought that was what happened.”

“That doesn’t clear anything up.”

“Can we not talk about this?” David asked as he screwed the lid back on the whiskey bottle. “I want tonight to be about us and not them.”

Patrick sat down on the bench at the end of Stevie’s bed. He was shaken. The difference between their dating histories was vast. He didn’t have nearly as many skeletons in his closet as David did and David’s skeletons scared the shit out of him.

“So this is for you.” David handed him a glass of whiskey, then sat down beside him.

“Cheers to privacy,” David said as he leaned in for a kiss. Patrick turned his head away. He couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened.

“Sorry, just gotta go through that one more time,” he said. “So, you dated Jake, and then Stevie dated Jake. And at one point, you all—”

“No! See, that’s where you’re wrong,” he said defensively. “We almost all, but I said no.”

“Ah.”

“Because Stevie and I agreed that it would be a bad idea. But it appears that I’m the only one that held up my end of that agreement,” David explained bitterly.

Patrick took a sip of his whiskey. Nothing David was saying was comforting. Stevie was still dating the guy they had both decided to break up with and David had wanted to also stay with him. Skeletons, man.

“And you’re upset about this because you still—"

“No! I’m not upset. I don’t want any of that,” he said firmly. “It’s a principle thing. And we are getting side-tracked right now, okay? So, who is feeling sexy?” David shimmied his shoulders as he leaned in to kiss Patrick, who turned away again. David pressed his face into Patrick’s shoulder.

“Getting there for sure,” he said, trying to not let his insecurities of not being enough for David bubble up to the surface. “You know, I knew you had a rich dating history, David. I just didn’t expect to be graced by the presence of two of your exes tonight.”

David had lived and experienced so much more than he had. There were bound to be things that Patrick couldn’t be for him. He was asking David to take it slow when it was clear that he didn’t do that with Jake or Stevie. The last thing he wanted to be was inadequate because he cared about David so very, very much.

“Yeah, funny thing: neither did I, so…” David agreed, staring at Patrick, asking him to believe him. And he had to believe him. Trust was important. David hadn’t done anything that would have otherwise indicated he wanted Jake back. It was believable that he was upset his friend broke a promise and lied about it as opposed to wanting his ex back.

“But,” Patrick finally said.

“Mhm.”

“Given that we only have the apartment for one night, maybe it’s best if we lock that box back up for now?” he suggested. They wanted to be alone and allowing ghosts of David’s dating past in was the antithesis to that.

“I think that’s a good idea,” David nodded, leaning in to kiss Patrick. It was a relief to feel David’s lips against his.

“You know what? We didn’t even get into your history—” David interjected.

“Lock it up, David. Lock it up.”

“Oh, okay,” he grinned as Patrick kissed him. Patrick curled his fingers around David’s head, holding him close. The position was a little uncomfortable, but they were right next to a bed…

Patrick slowly leaned them back as they kissed, laying David down on his back onto the soft mattress. They shifted to get further on the bed. Patrick straddled one of David’s thighs, mirroring the position they were in at the store earlier before they were so rudely interrupted.

His heart was beating faster. He knew they weren’t going to go all the way (‘all the way’ – what was he, 16 years old?), but he had David underneath him, who was beaming with a radiant smile. His hands edged beneath Patrick’s sweater and he was seemingly waiting for Patrick to make the first move.

“Did you want to pick up where we left off earlier?” he asked David, his voice thick and husky.

“Please,” David whispered.

Patrick experimentally rolled his hips like David did earlier, pressing his hardening erection into David’s thigh while simultaneously applying the same pressure to David with his own. David gasped, his hands sliding completely under Patrick’s sweater to press hotly against his skin. Patrick watched David with each slow roll of his hips, each hitch in his breath was intoxicating.

He leaned down and caught David in a searing kiss that made his heart skip a beat. He threaded his fingers through David’s thick hair which encouraged David to move with Patrick. His skin prickled from excitement, showing this beautiful and wonderful man just how much he wanted him and feeling that want in return.

“If we’re picking up where we left off,” David murmured hotly against Patrick’s lips, “does that mean I can finish giving you a hickey?”

“Only if I can give you one as well,” Patrick replied.

“Please,” he whined, punctuating the affirmation with a particularly hard thrust of his hips, giving Patrick a clear indication of how excited that made him. Patrick kissed his way across David’s cheek, down his neck, tilting his head back by his hair, and started a bruising kiss on David’s collarbone. David gasped, rutting his hips harder against Patrick’s thigh.


In the morning, Patrick checked himself in Stevie’s bathroom mirror as he dressed for the day. David had given him an impressive three hickeys, all able to be hidden by his button-down shirts. He pressed one of them, feeling the bright pain spike beneath his fingertips.

David appeared behind him, wrapping his arms around Patrick’s torso, his warm palms against his stomach. He hooked his chin over Patrick’s shoulder, admiring his work.

“Are those hickeys appropriate for work, or what?”

Chapter Text

Teenagers were the worst.

All Patrick wanted was to run his store, make out with his business partner, and as of two hours ago, tutoring his business partner’s sister in business.

But he couldn’t do any of that because he had to deal with teenagers.

For the last week, a small horde of teen boys had decided to loiter outside the store. Their sales had noticeably dipped since they showed up and for a fledgling store, it was crippling. If they continued to be there for any longer, they’d have to start making cuts in the budget.

Why couldn’t Patrick just oust them from the stoop?

David.

One of the boys had taken to complimenting David every time they saw him, and it made him blush and stumble over his words. As if the frustration he felt toward the teenagers wasn’t enough, he was starting to get jealous that David was falling prey to their compliments. Teenagers! He was jealous of teenagers! Sure, he didn’t compliment everything in David’s wardrobe since 90% of the time he didn’t understand David’s fashion choice. Couldn’t wanting who was under the clothes be flattering enough?

So while business was down and David was finding ego boosts elsewhere, Alexis asking him for homework help was a downright relief. It was nice chatting with someone who was genuinely interested in his expertise. Not that David wasn’t, but he was more interested in Patrick for other reasons. (And Patrick was not complaining about that.)

“Can you go over that again?” Alexis asked. She was perched up on the counter with her notebook in her lap. It was kind of amazing to see her transforming from a woman who comfortable stealing product from her brother to one who was inquiring about ROIs.

“Of course,” Patrick said warmly as he finished counting out the cash drawer. “Let’s say we have a $20 product that costs us $10 to make. Our profit percentage – profit divided by cost – would be 100% since we’re making back all the money we spent on making the product, but nothing else.”

“But that’s a bad return on investment since we’d make no profit,” Alexis said.

“Right.”

“And to increase our return on investment, we’d want to lower our production costs...”

The bell chimed and in walked David who was looking rather bashful after having to walk through his little fan club out front.

“And we mark up the retail price.”

“Okay.”

“What are you doing here?” David asked cattily to his sister.

“Um, Patrick has offered to help me with this school assignment,” she explained. “I told you that, David.”

David came around the counter to Patrick.

“Hi,” he said softly, touching Patrick’s shoulder and giving him a kiss hello, before turning to Alexis and saying, “You did not tell me that.”

“Hey, how are your friends doing outside?” Patrick asked David sarcastically. He had asked David yesterday to say something to them when he came in today, but clearly that did not happen.

“They’re harmless, thanks,” David replied.

“Are they? Cool.” Patrick had resorted to passive-aggressive comments since asking politely wasn’t working.

David disappeared into the back room to drop off his bag.

“Um, we’re actually in the middle of something,” Alexis called. “So if you wouldn’t mind—”

“I would mind,” David responded as he emerged from the back with a spray bottle in hand. He then went to work spritzing their succulents for sale.

“Okay,” she said, ignoring him. She tapped Patrick on the arm. “So. Profit Margins.”

“Mhm.”

Was David seriously not going to take the hint and do anything?

“How do you get more of those?”

As much as Patrick was willing to help Alexis on her homework, this was certainly more pressing.

“You could start by telling the group of teens that hang outside your store every afternoon to leave because they’re scaring off actual customers,” Patrick answered pointedly, staring right at David. Literally no one liked teenagers, including teenagers themselves. Teenagers were one of the worst pests there were, right after rats and cochroaches.

“Mkay,” David said. “They’re not ‘scaring off’ customers. There was one that looked meth-y, and I don’t know where he went.” He was apparently not seeing the uncomfortable expressions on people’s faces upon seeing the teens. And sure, the meth-y one was particularly heinous, but the other four weren’t much better!

“See, your brother doesn’t want to tell them off,” Patrick explained to Alexis. “Which is – and you can write this down – a financial liability.”

“…liability,” she said, writing it down.

“Incorrect!” David retorted. “The fact that we have youths minding their own business in front of our store builds – and you can write this down—”

“No,” Alexis said curtly.

“—street cred,” he finished. Where was this ‘street cred’? There were about four major streets in Schitt’s Creek and they weren’t the type you’d need ‘cred’ for. The last thing they wanted was attracting more teenagers.

“’Kay, are they actually buying anything?” Alexis asked. Patrick was so glad he had back-up for this. David was a big personality to handle sometimes, especially when he got into these types of ruts. Having someone who could get under his skin much faster was a godsend.

“Yes! They’re coming in, and they’re buying gum.”

“And what else are they doing, David?” Patrick asked. They both knew exactly what they were doing but he needed David to say it aloud and admit it.

“They’re coming in, they’re looking around, and they’re buying gum,” David repeated, then quietly added, “…and maybe complimenting my outfits.”

“There it is!” Patrick exclaimed smugly, slapping his hand down on the counter.

“There what is?!” David said defensively. “I’m sorry that you connect with the more mature clientele, whereas I vibe with a much younger crowd.”

“Oh,” he replied. He didn’t care what kind of mud David was going to try to throw back at him because he got David to fully admit he was basking in the attention of four 16 year olds.

Speak of the devil.

The doorbell jingled and in walked the four scummy teenagers much to Patrick’s chagrin. While three of them immediately went to start looking around without buying anything, the one with the red shirt stopped.

“Nice sweater, bro,” Red Shirt said to David who immediately got very flustered.

“Um, god, this is so old, and I can’t even remember where I got—” David rambled before turning to Patrick and Alexis. “Do you guys remember – sorry – where I got this sweater?” By the time David finished his question, Red Shirt had left to join his friends in the back of the store.

“What just happened to you?” Patrick asked him. How could this strong, bold, brash man Patrick adored so much just melt into a pile of goo when a teenager complimented him?

“Huh?”

“Breathe it out,” Alexis suggested jokingly to David.

“Hey, man, do you have this in a larger size?” one of the teens asked as he held up a knitted hoodie.

“What size is that?” Patrick asked.

“Medium?”

“Let me check.” He gave David an annoyed glance as he ducked into the back. He knew they had a limited supply and folks in Schitt’s Creek tended to run larger, but maybe he still had one or two larges available.

“Hey bro, your cuticle game is tight,” he could hear one of the teens say.

“Oh, um, wow, I’m so glad you noticed,” David replied. “I use this hand cream and a little bit of exfoliant then a different hand cream…” Patrick rolled his eyes. It was as if David was making up for the lack of attention he received from boys while he was in high school. The only difference is that now it was so desperately weird.

Should he be complimenting David more? Is that something he wanted and didn’t say anything? That seemed incorrect, given that David never had a problem telling Patrick what he was thinking, but perhaps this was different. Did he need more external validation than what Patrick was giving him?

…was he seriously getting jealous from teenage boys?! This was getting absurd.

Patrick heard Alexis jump down off the counter to allow Red Shirt to buy another pack of gum.

What was taking David so long to ring them up? …was he gift-wrapping the gum? He had to be kidding.

“Thanks, bro,” David said, perhaps the most awkward thing Patrick had ever heard come out of his mouth. “Come back again soon, guys.” Patrick came back into the main room just as they were finally leaving. Thank God.

But Patrick was very frustrated with David.

“Great sale, bro,” he said sardonically. “Four teens, one pack of gum – which you gift-wrapped. Hey, why don’t we just close the store up and celebrate for the rest of the day?” David gently laid his hands on Patrick’s shoulder.

“I’ll have you know, it was one pack of gum and one lip balm,” he corrected him.

“Oh.” He was not impressed in the slightest.

“Well that’ll make up for all the stuff they’ve been stealing,” Alexis said nonchalantly.

Patrick’s stomach dropped.

“I’m sorry?” David asked.

“What do you mean, stealing?”

They were stealing?

“Those kids are 100% stealing from you,” she reiterated.

“I don’t think so,” David refuted.

“’Kay,” she began. “They split up into four different directions. One takes the back left corner, one takes the right. One of them asks you—” She looked at Patrick. “—if you have those wool hoodies in a different size, while the last one compliments you—” She looked to David. “—on your cuticle game. And while you’re lapping all that up, the two in the back corner are filling their backpacks full of facial cleanser. It’s the exact same move I used with my klepto friends in the Hamptons.”

Patrick felt sick.

“I-I feel like I would’ve seen that,” he said shakily.

“Yeah, maybe that’s what you and your burn-out friends did at the Miss 60’s store,” David argued. “But that’s not what’s happening here.”

“Mmkay. Why don’t you go check then?” She was unnervingly confident.

Patrick bolted out from behind the counter to the back table of product, David following right behind. Sure as day, the table was empty.

“Can’t tell if there’s product missing or if we just haven’t replenished,” Patrick said uneasily. He swallowed the fear and said, “I feel like, if someone were robbing our store, we would know about it.”

“Uh, yeah, we would know,” David agreed.

Patrick knew business. He knew how to handle business and account for this. He’d always caught the perpetrator red-handed when they’d been stealing product. It was always super obvious when there were thieves lurking about.

How could they have been so blind? Apparently, it was easy. The green jacket kid would ask him about the sweater to get him out of the room, and the red shirt kid…

“Though this would explain the compliments,” he said, turning to David.

The jealousy he felt earlier was being replaced by self-righteousness which was still utterly ridiculous.

“That’s…” David glanced down at his outfit.

“What?” Patrick was okay that David’s ego was going to take the hit if it meant he was the only one allowed to get him flustered. (Once again: teenagers!)

“Give it an hour. They’ll be back,” Alexis explained. “They only took the toner and the cleanser, and if they’re not selling it on the black market, they’ll need to come back and get the moisturizer or their T-zones are going to be like, super effed.” She smiled and shrugged before grabbing her homework from under the counter and getting herself settled sitting on the counter again. “So, Patrick. Profit margins.”

Patrick and David were both stunned. He had never felt so violated. Just when he thought he didn’t have anything else to learn…

“Can we pick up in just a minute, Alexis?” he asked as he walked to the back room.

“Sure, no problem,” she said cheerfully, the theft clearly having no effect on her.

Patrick quickly excused himself through the rear doorway to the back room. He needed to breathe.

He was so foolish to even consider for a moment that those teenagers’ intentions were pure when they came in here. He was a teenager once, and while he never shoplifted, he did grow up in a small town and underage drinking was one of the only things a 16-year-old could do. There weren’t many thrills for them in Schitt’s Creek so Patrick, on one level, understood the desire to shoplift.

Yet he had asked David repeatedly to get them to leave. Not only had they lost business from paying customers being driven away, but they lost the profit from the stolen product. He should have been more domineering and just shooed them away without David’s consent and been fine with David being mad at him for a little. They wouldn’t be in this situation and he wouldn’t feel so sick—

“Hey,” David said softly as he touched his shoulder. Patrick stopped. He hadn’t realized he’d been pacing.

“Hey.”

“So that was pretty humiliating,” David said as he ran his hands down Patrick’s back to his waist. “Especially to be told that by a girl who just got her high school diploma like, 5 weeks ago.”

“Salt in the wound, David.”

“Yeah.” David drew him in a little closer. He took a breath before continuing, “I should have told them off when you asked me the first time.” Patrick raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“Thank you.”

“And now that I think about it, accepting compliments from teenagers is a little creepy,” he said with a chuckle.

“A little bit,” he laughed as well. Patrick paused. “Do you want more compliments like that? About what you’re wearing? Because I can—”

“Oh, no,” David interrupted. “No, no, no. You don’t have to. While you’re smart and wonderful and great at business, I’d know you would have no idea what you’re talking about.” Now Patrick really laughed.

“You’re right about that.”

David gently kissed him, a sweet and reassuring kiss that finally let Patrick exhale.

Just then, Alexis burst into the back room, yelling, “David! Stop making out with Patrick! You have a customer!”

“We weren’t making out!” David shouted back. He gave Patrick one last peck before disappearing through the doorway.

Patrick took another minute alone to shake out his arms and get the gross feeling of being robbed out of his system. They were gonna get the little shits who stole from them… in an hour. A very, very long hour.


 

Thankfully, they had a handful of customers after the thieves were there which made the time pass a little quicker. It should have made Patrick happy to sell one of the expensive wooden chests, but all he could think about was what other products they could have hidden in there. (He made sure to open it and check before they left.)

It was nearing one hour later – when Alexis said they’d be back – and the three of them were clustered in front of the counter, waiting.

“Are you sure they’re coming back?” David asked after a long stretch of silence.

Then, as if the question itself summoned them, the four awful no-good teenagers came around the corner.

“Like clockwork, David,” Alexis said smugly.

The boys came in the store and Alexis gestured for them to split up in the pattern they discussed. Patrick headed to the back while Alexis and David stayed near the register.

“Hey, can I help you guys with anything, or…?” Alexis asked casually.

“No, we’re just looking,” the one who always complimented David said, as he lingered near the front. The other boys had immediately rushed the store, going to their planned positions. One of the boys brushed past Alexis who, through some impressive slight of hand, picked the wallet off Sweater Kid.

“Okay cool, cool. Yeah, yeah. Look around. You do you,” she said, watching them disperse.

“Uh, hey, do you have this in a larger size, maybe?”

It really was a pattern. How did they miss this?

“I don’t know,” Patrick replied blandly. “I’d have to go all the way in the back to check.”

He turned to go to the back room, making brief eye contact with David. He couldn’t believe Alexis was so spot on because within seconds of him disappearing to the back, he could hear the Complimenter say to David, “Hey man! I like your shoes. Where’d you get them?”

“Oh!” David exclaimed. “These? I got these at a boutique in Prague that’s only open on Sunday nights.” He wasn’t at all flustered like he was before they figured it out. (Good.)

Patrick came back out from the back room and stood behind the counter, watching the scene in front of him unfold.

“Cool,” Complimenter replied.

“Is it?” David asked critically.

“Hey, I think we’re gonna head,” Sweater Kid said, gesturing toward the door.

“Oh! Um, wait, wait,” Alexis said, stopping them from leaving. “You forgot something.”

Like some magical ability, she produced Sweater Kid’s wallet from her pocket, dangling it between her fingers. The panic that set into the four boys was glorious.

“What?! Please don’t do anything crazy,” Sweater Kid pled. “It took me so long to make that.”

“I’ll be happy to give it back when you and your skidmark friends give back all of the product that you’ve stolen,” Alexis smiled. She was clearly getting far too much joy out of torturing them. “And if I’m being honest, someone with your combination skin should really be using a product with tea tree oil in it.”

The guilty looks on all their faces was a pure Kodak moment. David walked right up to them, hands out, and simply said, “Hand it over.”

They unloaded their pockets, handing David all sorts of moisturizers and cleansers. It wasn’t all of it, but it was everything they’d stolen that day. He wasn’t sure if they’d see the rest of the products, but this was a good start.

“I thought she was too cool to work here,” Sweater Kid muttered as he placed another container of eye cream in David’s hand.

“I don’t work here and I’m really cool,” Alexis corrected him. “So, don’t do it again and I won’t call the po-po.” She smugly shrugged her shoulder at the boys who looked at oddly.

“Did she just say ‘po-po’?” Complimenter asked.

“Okay, okay! I think we’re done here,” she replied as she shooed them toward the door.

“I just have one more question,” David chimed in. Patrick took a deep breath. “All those compliments and fist pumps—”

“Bumps.”

“Shut up,” he said coldly. “Was that just part of the big scheme?”

Oh, David.

“No, you have cool style,” Complimenter said half-heartedly.

“I like your shoes,” Sweater Kid added.

“They’re lying to you, David,” Alexis muttered to him. “They’re lying, they’re lying.”

“Okay, get out,” David demanded.

The teens immediately filed out the door and the tension in the store released. Patrick exhaled, glad he’d never have to deal with those terrors again. David shivered, shaking out his arms. Alexis, meanwhile, cockily flipped her hair in David’s face, then in Patrick’s face?

“What? Why me?” Patrick asked Alexis.

“I just feel real gross,” David said.

“Why did I get one?” he asked again as she disappeared to the back room. He was on board with kicking out the teenagers from the very beginning. She didn’t prove anything to him, just confirm that teenagers are terrible and should never be allowed anywhere ever.

“Well, as I’ve done my good deed for the day,” Alexis said while she stuffed her homework in her bag. “I’m going to head out. Have to prepare for the festival tonight.”

“It’s 3 o’clock,” David remarked bluntly.

“Yes, David, and I have a lot to do between now and then.”

“Like what?”

“Thank you for the help, Patrick,” she said, completely ignoring David. “We’ll talk price margins tomorrow?”

“Sure,” he replied.

With that, she disappeared out the front door.

Silence hung between David and Patrick as they stood side by side in front of the counter.

“So, no more teenagers in the store?” Patrick asked.

“I literally never want to see another teenager again.”


 

The annual Asbestos Fest was that evening. It was essentially a glorified pageant/talent show, but any sort of live entertainment was a rarity in Schitt’s Creek, save for tonight.

Originally, Patrick and David were going together. After closing early, Patrick was going to pick David up at the motel and they were going to treat it like a date of sorts, despite David’s family and the whole town being there. He was excited to hold David’s hand during the show, or put a hand on his knee. Sure, they were little things, but Patrick had never done those things before and he wanted to do them now.

Around 7 o’clock, David texted him saying he was performing with his mother and that he didn’t need a ride. That text was quickly followed by another asking him to not think differently of him after tonight. Patrick wasn’t sure how that was possible. His life was work and David, two things that made him so incredibly happy. There was no way any talent show would ruin his opinion of David.

Patrick’s phone buzzed with a text from Alexis. She was saving him a seat near the front.

He arrived at town hall just as the children’s choir finished singing. After putting on his blazer, he carefully opened the door and saw Jocelyn Schitt onstage in front of a silvery streamer backdrop. He hadn’t missed it.

“…because she certainly surprised me when she told me just moments ago that she has switched her entire act,” Jocelyn explained. “Even though somebody put down a really hefty deposit on a wall of mirrors.” She let out a pained laugh.

Patrick managed to find Alexis before Jocelyn was finished. She moved her purse to let him sit to her left and her father sitting on the right. It was kind of nice to be sitting with Alexis and Johnny. He felt like part of the family.

“Okay, anyways, without further ado: the main event.” Jocelyn left the stage and passed David the mic as he emerged from the rear door and oh my god what did he do to his hair?

“Oh, thank you so much,” David said to Jocelyn.

“Is this The Number? It’s the middle of summer,” he heard Alexis whisper to Johnny. What was The Number?

“Brr! It’s awfully cold out there,” David said stiffly. Patrick was surprised to see that David was not that great of an actor. Alexis leaned over to him.

“They used to do this act every year at our Christmas party,” she whispered. “And you can’t unsee something like this.” Patrick chuckled. It couldn’t be that bad.

There was a knock on the door, and David said, “Oh, hello. I wonder who that could be?”

Moira entered with gusto – as if there were any other way for her to enter.

“It’s television’s Moira Rose!” David exclaimed.

“That’s television’s Mom to you!” she replied cheekily. David let out the fakest laugh Patrick had ever heard and it was deeply unsettling. “You know, nothing’s colder than the chill I get when I think of the dangers of asbestos poisoning.”

Alexis lightly smacked Patrick on the arm. She was obviously very excited to see what Patrick thought. And already he had a lot of them.

“Luckily, a little birdie told me that with enough funds raised,” Moira continued, “this town could be asbestos-free by…” She paused, unsure how to finish.

“...Christmas!” David supplied.

The chords to an out-of-tune rendition of “Jingle Bells” began and David and Moira began singing.

Patrick shifted in his seat.

This was… not great.

There were so many pieces to this that were bad: David’s hair, both of their costumes, David’s acting, Moira’s overacting, the untuned piano, the singing, the dancing… all of it. In any other situation, Patrick would have happily left his seat and conveniently been in the bathroom for the whole performance. But this was David, the man whom he deeply cared about, doing this for his mother. It was more about supporting David as he supported his mother. Patrick just hoped he didn’t ask what he thought of the performance.

They were singing ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ when David spoke the line, “Yes, I said faithful. Which rules out all of you.” He gestured to the entire audience, and okay, that was pretty funny. Perhaps this wouldn’t be as bad as he thought.


 

30 minutes later, David and Moira finally took their bows. There was uproarious applause, which was certainly out of gratitude that it was finally over. Alexis whooped next to him, which earned her a glare from David. Patrick copied her and he got the same look. Oh, David wasn’t going to live this down.

Jocelyn quickly got onstage and grabbed the microphone from David.

“Thank you everyone for coming,” she said desperately. “Potluck is right over here. We have some lasagna that Ronnie made that may or may not be still warm, so we’ve rolled out the microwave if you need it. Don’t forget to buy items from the bake sale to support making Schitt’s Creek asbestos-free!”

The audience shifted to the long tables of homemade dishes, but Patrick and the Rose family lingered behind.

“That was a stunning performance, you two,” Johnny said warmly. “Moira, it was a tour-de-force performance as usual.”

“Thank you, John,” she said. “My scene partner was a little rusty and flat, but he was great in a pinch.”

“Thanks,” David said sarcastically.

“Now if you excuse me, I must greet my fans,” Moira said before drifting over to the crowd of folks stuffing their faces. Johnny followed her.

“Best one yet,” Alexis said with the most shit-eating grin.

“Kill yourself,” David shot back bitterly. Patrick put his hand on David’s waist.

“It was wonderful, David,” Patrick interjected.

Alexis looked between them and silently excused herself to join the crowd.

“What was your favorite part?” David asked with a challenging smirk. Patrick laughed.

“Why do you have to do this to me?”

“Because I want to know.”

Patrick took David’s hands in his.

“My favorite part was that you supported your mother in what was clearly a time of need,” he said honestly. He leaned forward and gave David a quick kiss. “Honestly.”

“Mm.” His eyes sparkled with contained laughter. “So you didn’t have an actual favorite part?”

“We should get over there before all the food is gone,” Patrick said jokingly ignoring David’s question. He laced their fingers together and led a smiling David to the potluck.

Chapter Text

It was morning, and Patrick was leaving the Café Tropical with his daily coffee when he saw there was a large cardboard box sitting on their front stoop, neatly tied with twine.

“Oh, fantastic,” Patrick said to himself as he approached the store. He crouched down to check the return address. Yup, this was the shipment he was impatiently waiting for.

“Whatcha got there?” a familiar voice said behind him.

“Oh, hey Stevie,” he said, smiling at her. “New product for the store. I saw them when I was at the lavender festival in Elmdale. Can you hold this?” Stevie took his coffee cup, so he could unlock the store and bring the box inside.

“What are you doing over here? No one at the motel?” Patrick set the box on the counter and, with his trusty box-cutter, made quick work opening the shipment.

“Roland started working there, so Johnny said I could take the day and he’d train him,” she explained. “You know, ‘man to man’.” Stevie set his coffee on the counter and reached into the box, pulling out a small tin. “Are these breath mints?”

Lavender breath mints.”

He unpacked a handful of the breath mints and hid the large box behind the curtain.

“I didn’t know lavender could give you fresh breath.”

“Well, it might not,” Patrick admitted as he shifted the lip balms across the counter to put the mints in front of the register. “But it was either these or the lavender gummy bears, which even the creator said had a sugar-free Haribo effect.”

“What’s a ‘sugar-free Haribo effect’?” Stevie asked.

What?!” he exclaimed. “Of all people, I would’ve expected you to know about this. Okay, I have to show this to you. Can you stack these in front of the cash so I can pull this up?” He pulled out his phone and immediately went to Amazon reviews. Stevie watched him curiously as she moved the small tins.

“Okay, okay,” Patrick said, trying not to laugh as he scrolled through the pages of comments. “So Haribo makes these sugar-free gummy bears that people have reported are the worst laxatives they’ve ever accidentally had.”

“What?! How have I not heard about this?!”

“Lemme pull up a good one for you…”

He spent the next 20 minutes reading the insane reviews on Amazon aloud to Stevie. The last time he saw her laugh this hard it was when she showed him the video of Alexis teaching David how to ride a bike.

“‘When the rumbling started I sprinted down the hallway and made it to the bathroom just in time for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to stampede from my backside, laying waste to my home's septic system AND my will to live,” Patrick read, choking back laughter.

“These are all so weirdly poetic for something that destroys your butthole,” Stevie said through her tears.

“Hold on, they’re not done.”

“Oh no!”

“‘After three hours of pelvis-shaking misery, I was spongy, weak, and amazed that I had any bones left,’” he barely managed to get out. “‘I cursed those bears with the little strength I could muster.’” They both burst out laughing again.

Just then, David strolled into the store, looking very glamorous with his large white sunglasses.

“Hi,” he said suspiciously as he approached the counter where Patrick and Stevie were congregated. “We’re all just hanging out before work. Was there a text chain that I wasn’t on, or…?”

“Well, it’s not exactly before work if the store opened about 25 minutes ago, so…” Patrick quipped in return.

“But yes, there is a text chain, and no, you’re not on it,” Stevie added.

“You’re kind,” David said to her dismissively, then turned immediately to Patrick. “I noticed we moved the lip balms.”

“Yeah, because we got these new breath mints and I wanted to give them a fighting chance by putting them up near the cash,” he explained. It was a very common retail psychology move: put inexpensive items that people absently think to themselves they need right before they make their purchase. If you put something new there, it catches the customer’s eye more than the usual product.

“Huh.”

“Uh-oh,” Stevie said as David reached across her and grabbed some mints.

“What is—is something wrong?” Patrick asked. They had been over this a few times and he thought David understood.

“No,” David said curtly. “They’re just new mints that haven’t been sampled yet. So for all we know they could be poison. And we’re moving the lip balms – the best-sellers – all the way in the corner here.” He gestured to his beloved lip balms that were now relegated to the other side of the counter.

“Okay, well, I don’t think the mints are poison,” Patrick said as he watched David pop one in his mouth.

“They are very delicious,” he admitted before getting back on his soapbox. “Point is, these are a staple of the store. They’re at the cash. People come to the cash, expecting the lip balm.”

“Mhm.”

“I just wish I would have been consulted before they were moved,” David said chidingly.

Patrick couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“David, you move things without consulting me all the time!” he argued. “Like the brooms!”

They had received these beautiful hand-crafted brooms from a couple up the road, so Patrick put them near the front to let customers know they had these brooms available. But the same day they received them, David moved all of the brooms to the back while Patrick was out grabbing their lunch. The decision was rash and irritating, but Patrick knew better than to push it.

“Yeah, well, they were fugly brooms with big red handles!” David said. “They didn’t match our sand and stone color palette.” …which was the dumbest excuse David could give. They needed to sell things, not make an art exhibit.

“Well, this is clearly a high stakes situation, so maybe you want to close the store down and figure it out,” Stevie said wryly, earning a look from David. At least Patrick had Stevie on his side. Over the year, they had really bonded over getting under David’s skin.

“You know David,” Patrick said calmly, “one of the fundamental pillars of any successful business person is their ability to compromise.” He took a long sip of his coffee as if to punctuate his point.

“Mm, I have to agree with Patrick on this one,” Stevie said.

“I don’t think there’s anything you have to do,” David shot back at Stevie, then said, “And I compromise all the time.”

Patrick and Stevie both burst out laughing. David? Compromise? They both knew him way better than to believe in that lie.

“What?!”

“Nothing! I just, um, was remembering all those times you compromised,” Stevie said through her laughter.

“I was just thinking about the same things,” Patrick agreed, “because there are just so many to flip through—"

“Okay!” David cut him off, pointing a finger directly in Patrick’s face. “Last week, I let you pick the movie we watched.”

Oh no. Not this again.

“You made me pick between two Sandra Bullock vehicles,” Patrick pointed out. It’s not that Patrick had anything against Sandra Bullock. It was that there were literally thousands of other movies he would have rather watched.

“And you picked The Lakehouse, which was the correct choice.” And since it was a film David had already seen and Patrick had no interest in seeing, he thought it was more of a Netflix-and-Chill situation. Instead, David watched intently and scolded him any time he wasn’t actually paying attention to the film.

“Just so that you know, making someone choose between two things that you like is not exactly a compromise.”

Patrick kept stealing glances at Stevie who, while extremely amused by the conversation at hand, was very clearly on his team.

“I am fine with compromise!” David said defensively. “It’s just this situation that’s bothering me. So why don’t we just put everything back exactly as it was and start again.”

“So in that case, I know that you were planning to go pick up the tote bags later this afternoon even though I asked you to do that two days ago,” Patrick said. “So maybe in the interest of compromise, you can go and do that now.” One could smell the passive-aggressiveness from a mile away.

“Fine,” David said, putting on his sunglasses. “Stevie, would you care to join me?”

“No.”

“Fair enough.” David made his way over to the door. “So you guys are gonna stay behind and talk about me after I’ve left. Swap stories about how I don’t compromise.”

Patrick and Stevie looked at each other.

“Yeah, mhm.”

“Yup, pretty much.”

David was definitely glaring at them from behind his sunglasses as he exited the store.

Wow,” Patrick said in disbelief. “He honestly thinks he compromises on everything.”

“It’s remarkable,” Stevie agreed, then asked, “What was the other Sandy Bullock movie?”

Two Weeks Notice.” Stevie sucked in a breath.

“That is a no-win scenario,” she said.

Patrick looked around the store, mentally checking all the things he’d had to give in to David even though business-wise it wasn’t the best move. It was a long list. Stevie leaned against the opposing table facing Patrick.

“Do you want to do something about it?” Stevie asked, a wicked smile on her lips. “You know, since David is fine with compromise?”

Patrick smiled. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Stevie started walking around the store, appraising the wares. Patrick walked out from behind the counter to join her.

“We have to find something that would drive David nuts,” she said as she picked up an odd-looking candleholder.

“But it’s also gotta be something that he can’t necessarily refute is a good idea,” Patrick said, glancing in the baskets on the wall. They had so many products that David had hand-picked himself that weren’t necessarily the best for a general store, but they did carry some basic items residents would ask for.

Patrick stepped back to think. This was a lot harder than he imagined. Did he want to move the brooms? They didn’t have a great price margin, so it wouldn’t be the best option. His eyes trailed toward the back room when the idea hit him. He quickly entered the back room and saw them.

Plungers.

He took three in each hand and brought them out into the main room. Stevie craned to see what Patrick was carrying.

“What do you have there—Oh my god,” she laughed.

“People are always asking for more basic items and the plungers were deemed ‘unsightly’, despite their demand and practicality,” Patrick explained as he set them up right in front next to the vegetable boxes. “They immediately got put in the back room and we haven’t sold one despite getting them a month ago.”

“I was gonna say I’ve never seen these before, even though they fit in the sand-and-stone aesthetic,” she said, examining one. “These are pretty nice. The motel needs a new one.”

“You can take one on the way out, my treat.”

“Awesome.” She took in the sight of the plungers right in the middle of all the fancy products. “Your boyfriend is going to have a conniption.”

Patrick sighed as a delicate mix of patience and sadness crept in.

“We actually haven’t defined the relationship yet,” he said, his voice distant.

“Oh! Oh, I’m so sorry for saying that,” Stevie apologized quickly. “I just assumed that given how attached at the hip you were that you…”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know,” he said. “I told him I wanted to take things slow so we’re taking things slow, including that conversation.” He was having a hard time making eye contact with Stevie.

A customer entered the store, so Patrick headed back to the register. Stevie casually followed.

“It sounds like someone wants to have the conversation sooner rather than later,” she said as she fiddled with the lip balms. Patrick let out a small chuckle.

“Yes, but I’m kind of taking cues from David—”

“You should never do that,” Stevie said, shaking her head. He laughed again.

“Heard,” he said. “I just don’t know how he feels about it. He’s got a history and I don’t. He might not want to do that, and I don’t want to pressure him with anything like that.”

“Yes, but what do you what?”

Patrick felt heat rise to his cheeks.

“I would love it,” he said quietly.

“Sounds like there’s a conversation that has to happen.” The customer came up to the register to pay and Stevie drifted over to peruse the products.

Stevie was right. He needed to talk to David about it. It was something he wanted. He wanted to claim David as his boyfriend – and wow, he got giddy thinking about it. His boyfriend. But what if during the conversation, David said he didn’t do boyfriends anymore? Like, he had casually seen both Stevie and Jake and never used that level of word with them, so maybe he was over the word and didn’t want to put labels on relationships anymore? Maybe he found the word ‘boyfriend’ childish?

Any way he sliced it, Patrick still longed to call David his boyfriend, even if David was against it.

He handed the customer his receipt and as he exited the store, David reappeared with the bags.

And immediately spotted the plungers.

Patrick quickly glanced at Stevie who looked more than excited for this to play out. She struggled to hide a smile, but Patrick needed to make a point. He put on his best poker face and waited for David’s reaction. 

“Hi,” David said to Patrick with an irritated grin. He set the box down on the counter and went straight for the plungers. Patrick circled around the counter to lean against the front. There was no way he was missing any of this. David picked up one of the plungers gingerly between two fingers as if it were already used.

“I notice one of our more discreet back room items is now in the front of the store,” David said, still wearing an uncomfortable smile. “That would have nothing to do with the conversation we just had before we left, would it?”

"Well, people have been asking for plungers and you insist on keeping them hidden away in the back room because you find them offensive,” Patrick explained calmly. “So I thought given the demand for some more basic items, this could be a good opportunity for you to… make a compromise.”

“Okay, if assaulting customers with the sight of a toilet plunger the minute they walk in the door is something you consider to be an effective business strategy, then that is a compromise that I am willing to make,” David said, losing confidence with every word. His discomfort was entertaining and proving Patrick’s point.

“You sure?” he asked him.

David then stared into a middle-distance between Patrick and himself, his eyes going slightly crossed as if there was literally something short-circuiting in his brain.

“Look at his face,” Stevie finally remarked.

“Look at your face,” David snapped, then finally said to Patrick, “Yes, yes.”

“Okay, great. Then obviously you’ll have no problem if I get the toilet brushes out here too,” Patrick said as he watched David’s brain fizzle right before him.

“Is something wrong, David?” Stevie asked with fake concern.

After shaking his head silently for a moment, David then let out the tiniest “Nope.” He gave Patrick a smile as if to say he was totally fine with this, but Patrick knew better. He then quickly put the plunger back where he found it and casually wiped his hand on his pants.

“Stevie, can you grab the brushes?” Patrick asked her. “I think they’ll look perfect on this side of the vegetables. You know, to balance out the plungers.” He heard David inhale sharply beside him.

“Oh, of course,” Stevie said with a small smile, her eyes looking between Patrick and David, taking extreme delight in David’s discomfort. She turned on her heel and went to the back room to retrieve the toilet brushes.

Patrick grinned. He didn’t like having to teach David a lesson in compromise, but he was definitely going to have fun doing it. And the passive-aggressive tactics seemed to unnerve David more than anything else, so it was totally worth it.

David awkwardly came over to lean next to Patrick at the counter.

“Are those shoes new?” he choked out, gesturing uncomfortably to Patrick’s hiking boots. Patrick looked down.

“They’re not, actually,” Patrick explained calmly. “I needed to get my dress shoes cobbled, and these are comfortable and rugged, you know? A more relatable look than leather, don’t you think?”

Stevie emerged from the back with an armful of toilet brushes and placed them right where Patrick said.

David’s eyes darted between Patrick’s shoes and the toilet brushes, the two items only mere feet apart from each other. And without another word, David numbly walked around the counter and through the curtain to the back. As he did, Stevie doubled over in silent laughter and Patrick smiled wide.

“Oh my god, he’s dying,” she whispered through her laughter. “Oh, this is the greatest thing.”


The rest of the day was… interesting, to say the least. It was amazing how little David spoke when he couldn’t say what was bothering him.

Stevie took great joy in his displeasure. She would intentionally loudly ask customers in if they’d considered getting a new plunger or toilet brush. David would give her a bitter grin and occasionally mutter, “Die please.” Which would only prompt Stevie to ask him if there were any sales techniques he’d prefer her use. He wouldn’t answer, which would make her turn to Patrick with the same question who would then tell her she was doing great as if she were playing in a little league game.

It was driving David nuts.

By store close, David wasn’t speaking to either of them, which was fair. He had the two people who cared about him the most giving him the most shit. The only thing that could have possibly been worse was if Alexis showed up. David would have properly exploded.

“Anybody want a drink?” Patrick pulled out a bottle of bourbon he’d been keeping in the back along with two snifters from their tiny kitchenette.

“Absolutely!” Stevie said before turning to David who was silently straightening the candles. “What do you think, David? Doesn’t a drink sound great?”

“I’m good,” he replied, his voice cracking from nonuse.

“Excellent,” Patrick said as he poured the two glasses. Stevie nabbed the two chairs from the back and placed them right near the offensive plungers. She moved a small crate to put between them. David slid over the one from the front corner and sat down quietly.

Patrick walked over and handed Stevie her glass of bourbon before easing into the chair across from David. He propped his foot up on the crate between them and lounged back to make sure David could see his shoes.

He felt good – cocky, really. Their point seemed to have gotten through to David, who was positively miserable. Compromise was necessary to any good relationship – business or otherwise. And just telling David was not nearly as satisfying as proving it to him.

With his bourbon in one hand, Patrick fiddled with the handle of one of the plungers. He lifted it up in the air, the rubber high above his head.

“You know, I have to say, if we hadn’t put these babies out there, there’s a strong possibility we wouldn’t have sold two of ‘em today,” he said, now pointing the plunger at David who was giving him a very curious look.

“And a brush!” Stevie added, raising her glass.

“But at what cost, you know?” David asked, his discomfort evident.

“You know, the mark-up on the plungers is actually very good,” Patrick answered. Stevie made an interested sound. “Makes me think we should be taking more products from the back and actually just putting them… out here.”

David started rocking in his seat, nodding his head.

Here it was.

“Okay, no!” he said firmly as he jumped out of his seat to pace the floor. “No, no, no, no, no no no no. No.” He gestured at the plungers and finally took a stance in front of Patrick and Stevie. “Fine! I’m terrible at compromise! There, I said it!”

Stevie laughed, and Patrick had to smile. It was way too easy.

“Like Beyoncé,” David continued. “I excel as a solo artist and I was also dressed by my mother well into my teens, okay?!”

“Let it out, David! Let it out!” Stevie encouraged before taking a sip of bourbon. Oh, she was loving this so much.

“I’m sorry that I just know what looks correct. And this situation—” He gestured to the plungers. “—is not correct! Toilet plungers on display at the front of the store is incorrect! Breath mints—” He gestured toward the counter. “—where the lip balms should be: not correct!”

“Not correct,” Stevie whispered.

“These mountaineering shoes that my boyfriend is wearing—”

Patrick’s breath caught in his throat and time seemed to stop. He couldn’t hear the rest of what David was saying, what with the words ‘my boyfriend’ ringing in Patrick’s ears.

His heart was soaring.

It was one thing to want David to call him that. It was something far more incredible to hear him say it aloud.

“—incorrect!”

Boyfriend. David called him his boyfriend. David wanted him to officially be his boyfriend.

It tumbled out of his mouth so casually, as if it were something decided long ago. The word was so effortlessly sewn into David’s speech that it made Patrick dizzy to consider how long David has thought of him as his boyfriend.

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” he asked. He wanted to hear him say it again. He needed to hear him say it again to make sure it was real.

David paused before responding breathlessly, “I said, the breath mints need to move.”

Patrick wasn’t hallucinating. David realized what he said and tried to push past it, but it was finally out there. It wasn’t a Freudian slip; it was how David thought of him and their relationship.

God, he didn’t even mean to say it! And he knew he wasn’t supposed to say it. In the middle of a lesson on compromise, David had essentially labeled their relationship without asking him. Patrick could not have been happier about a lack of compromise.

“I think it was something about your boyfriend’s shoes?” Patrick pried. Now he was saying it and it made his stomach flutter.

“Um, I don’t remember saying that,” David deflected again. He was never one for overtly sentimental gestures – that was Patrick’s expertise – and he wasn’t going to admit to saying it especially with Stevie here.

“Yeah, no, that’s what I heard,” Stevie said, smiling.

“Well, hey, my boyfriend doesn’t like the shoes,” Patrick said to Stevie, then he looked to David who wouldn’t stop fidgeting. “I could, I could take the shoes off.” He bent down to tug at the laces of his boots.

“Or not,” David said. “I don’t remember saying… So, you can do whatever you’d like.”

Patrick watched David carefully as he floundered. Then he realized that David was trying to play it cool with Stevie there, but he was just as giddy as Patrick was.

Thankfully, Stevie knew how to read a room. She stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder.

“I think my work here is done,” she said to Patrick with an understanding smile. She grabbed her promised plunger as she walked between them.

“And what work is that, exactly?” David asked her.

Stevie slowly swung the plunger over her shoulder and exited the store, leaving Patrick alone with his boyfriend.

Boyfriend!

His eyes drifted back to David. The giddiness inside him was welling up.

“My boyfriend doesn’t like the shoes,” he said playfully, bending down to untie them further. “I’m going to take the shoes off.”

“Mmkay. Before you do that,” David said as he stepped over to Patrick. He gently lowered himself to sit on Patrick’s lap, curling his arm around his shoulders. “I just want to let you know that sock feet in a public place is also incorrect.”

Patrick couldn’t think straight when David was this close to him. He felt drunk, but he’d only had a couple sips of bourbon.

“We’ll do what we have to do,” he said as he leaned in to kiss David. He could feel David smiling against his lips. When they broke apart, David let out an uncharacteristic giggle which made Patrick break into a huge smile.

“Boyfriend, huh?” Patrick said. “I thought we were supposed to talk about that.”

“Um, we were, but as you demonstrated today, I’m terrible at compromise,” David said, smirking. He took the snifter out of Patrick’s hand and placed it on the table.

“Mhm, so terrible,” he echoed.

They stared at each other for a moment, taking in what just happened, what changed. David kept glancing down at Patrick’s lips which was more than enough for Patrick to lean in and kiss him again. It was soft and tender, the kind filled with so much more than words could convey. This was his boyfriend, a word that had meaning and weight, and he wanted to show David how much he appreciated him and what he’d done. He was officially David Rose’s boyfriend, the person he wanted more than anyone else.

Then David let out a shuddering sigh and something snapped in Patrick. He kissed him harder, pressing his hand against David’s lower back, causing him to arch and place his hand against Patrick’s cheek. Patrick grabbed at David’s thigh, drawing him closer, his fingers gripping firm muscle. David’s mouth opened and the kiss turned dirty.

He couldn’t get David close enough. The chair he was sitting in was too small for two grown men to be making out in.

“Stand up,” Patrick murmured hotly against David’s lips. David stood up without complaint, his lips never leaving Patrick’s, drawing him up with him. Patrick pulled him close, their bodies pressed together from thigh to chest. He could feel David’s growing erection against his own as he pushed David back against the table, slotting his leg between his. With his hands on David’s back, Patrick ground his erection into David’s thigh. David whined and dug his fingers into Patrick’s shoulders.

To his surprise, it was David who pulled back first.

“Patrick…” he said warmly.

And that’s when he remembered where they were, and he chuckled to himself.

In his right mind, Patrick knew the more they did this, the harder it was to go slow in their relationship. He wanted to take it easy because he knew when they finally did have sex, it was going to be beautiful and meaningful and loving and gentle. But any time David was under his fingertips – even with all their clothes on – all he wanted to do was to make David feel good. He wanted to impart any of the joy and happiness he felt for David into everything he gave him and he felt so much that it was growing more difficult to draw the line and stop.

“Sorry,” he said, blushing.

“Oh, don’t apologize to me,” David said. “This, this is great. I’m very into this.” He slid his hands down to Patrick’s biceps. “But I’m getting to the point where we’re gonna either have to stop or change locations because as much as I want this—” He ever so slightly pressed his erection into Patrick’s thigh. “—I’m not that much of an exhibitionist.”

Patrick laughed. Though it was nighttime, the big windows at the front would provide a rather spectacular show for anyone watching, one that would probably completely change their clientele.

“That’s a good idea,” he agreed. He rested his forehead against David’s. He gave David a light peck on the lips.

“The word ‘boyfriend’ really got you going there,” David remarked cheekily.

“Hey now,” Patrick jokingly scolded him. “Don’t say that word unless you want me to kiss you again.”

“What a threat,” David said with a chuckle. “I can’t believe it’s only been 15 minutes and my boyfriend is already threatening me.” Patrick shook his head with a grin and stayed true to his ‘threat’ and kissed David again.

“Boyfriend,” David murmured. Another kiss.

“Boyfriend, boyfriend, boyfriend.” Kiss, kiss, kiss.

“I could do this all night,” Patrick warned. David tilted his head back in consideration before looking back at Patrick, his eyes sparkling with joy.

“I’m okay with that.”

Chapter Text

Having a boyfriend was awesome.

First: Patrick was able to officially change his phone contact for David to “Boyfriend” and a heart. Every time David called or texted him, his heart would skip upon seeing the word. And David called and texted him a lot. Their conversations were mostly mundane: decisions about the store, whatever ridiculous thing David’s family had just done, videos from Patrick’s CrossFit gym. (David had once said he joined a gym just to watch all the pretty people lift weights and Patrick saw this as an opening.)

Second: He was able to refer to David as his boyfriend and not just business partner when he would be talking to someone else. It was rare that someone didn’t know who David was, but sometimes he would just lead with it instead of David’s name, which would then force them to ask who his boyfriend was. During a meeting with a potential supplier, Patrick had slipped when discussing David and said boyfriend instead of business partner, and he was pretty certain that helped him seal the deal.

Third: He had a boyfriend. His 15-year-old self never dreamt that would happen. And it was someone he truly, madly, deeply cared about. He thought about David all the time already and having that label seemingly gave him permission to not feel a bit shameful about it, especially because he liked to imagine what a month, a year, ten years from now would look like with David. Sure, they had just defined the relationship, but he wanted to spend every minute with David.

Unfortunately, his excitement over finally having a boyfriend wasn’t enough to prevent him from focusing on their bottom line.

The business wasn’t suffering, per se, but it did need some help. Over the last week or so, their profits had dwindled to zero. It was really disheartening.

This morning Patrick found himself trying to find busywork, but when no one had touched any of the product in days, there wasn’t much else to do. He finally perched himself up on the counter and watched David pace the front of the store.

“I’m gonna say it,” Patrick said with a sigh. “We’ve been open for 3 hours now and not a single customer has walked through that door.” David stopped in front of him.

“Well, I mean, I heard there was a storm warning for today,” David said, which was definitely a lie.

“Oh. How do you explain yesterday?”

“Maybe the storm warning was for yesterday…”

“So then how do you explain today?”

Patrick could do this all day, especially since no one was coming in the store.

“You know what? I don’t have all the answers,” David snapped. “Um, have we checked to see if the door’s unlocked?” He looked nervous.

“Think that we need to be a little more proactive about this,” he said soothingly, placing a hand on David’s shoulder. “We can’t just wait for people to come in. We have to find better ways to engage with the community. Or hey, just like a way. Just one way to engage with the community.” In the last week, he had been encouraging David to come up with ideas on how to connect with the community. He already had a couple ideas, but only wanted to bring them up after David had exhausted himself. And that was tragically very quickly.

“Hey there’s someone!” David said, avoiding Patrick’s point. “That… is going to the café.”

He didn’t blame them. They both enjoyed going to the café. Twyla taking orders, Andre in the back making the food, everyone in town always seemed to be there. It wasn’t hard to become a regular and to feel welcomed, like you belonged.

“You know why people are always in the café? ‘Cause they feel at home there. It feels… comfortable,” he pointed out.

“Okay, are you saying that I don’t make people feel at home?” David asked defensively.

“Um…” As much as David felt like home to him, not everyone felt the same.

“Okay.”

“You remember our opening day here?” Patrick asked. He remembered it clearly. The store was full. People were excited. It was also the day he decided he needed to ask David out on a date.

“Yes! It was opening day, and there was booze, and people are drunks.”

“Yes, but they still showed up,” he argued. “We need to do something to make the store feel a little bit more accessible, a little bit more inclusive.”

The displeased sigh was all Patrick needed to know how David felt about that idea.

“Okay,” David said agreeably. He placed his hands on Patrick’s shoulders, massaging them with his thumbs. “Well, I am open to suggestions.”

“What if we hosted an open mic night?”

This was the first idea that came to him when he considered community engagement activities. It was also not entirely altruistic. He had been wanting to perform his music in public again, but between co-owning the store, working part-time at Ray’s, and dating David, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to focus on arranging new pieces and practicing.

“I am open to suggestions,” David repeated half-jokingly. Patrick laughed. He knew David wouldn’t be on board.

“I actually used to host one in high school,” Patrick continued. “There was a little café around the corner from my house. It had a little stage in the back, drew a pretty big crowd.” It was at these open mics that Patrick had his first inklings that liked boys, so they held a special place in his heart. (Patrick liked artistic men, what could he say?)

“Mmkay,” David said uncomfortably. “So, there was a point at which you and some of your fellow amateur singer-songwriters would gather and perform poetry and songs?”

“Yeah.”

“For one another?”

“Mhm, that’s right.”

“Oh god.”

Very not on board.

“The occasional improv troupe would stop by.”

“I’m, um, I’m feeling kind of ill,” David said with a laugh.

“David, you can laugh now, but an open mic night can be a surprising amount of fun,” Patrick said sincerely. “Worst case scenario: we get some people in the store.”

“Okay, no. Worst case scenario: I watch improv,” David said, dead serious. Patrick chuckled.

“It’s going to be fine, David,” he assured him again.

David crossed his arms and nervously glanced around the store as if he were trying to fully envision and accept the idea of an open mic night happening in his space. He walked forward to look out the window and watch the pedestrians walk past.

In the time Patrick had gotten to know David, he had picked up on a lot of non-verbal cues. For example, crossed arms and tapping on his bicep meant he was thinking, but also trying to not show that he was afraid. He’d do it every time he’d say okay to an idea Patrick had for the store or their relationship. From what he told him, he didn’t really trust other people so much, so for him to put any trust in Patrick was a huge deal. And Patrick had come to realize that David trusted him more than he realized.

He called Patrick constantly at all times of night and day, worried about something or needing to complain about his sister. The conversation would drift into summer camp experiences or weirdest food they’d ever tried or dream houses. The stories David would tell didn’t sound rehearsed, like he was telling them for the first time, like it was the first time someone had asked. It wasn’t that David trusted Patrick with their business or his family drama. He trusted him with his heart and his emotions. Each conversation made Patrick want to drop whatever he was doing and go to David, to hold him and kiss him and just be with him.

God, he loved him so much.

He wasn’t ready to say it aloud because that was way too soon. It would scare the shit out of David (though if David said it, Patrick would joyfully echo the sentiment). And they were definitely better at showing how much they cared for each other than saying it.

Music. The open mic.

He needed to make it happen and he couldn’t ask for permission. It was the only way he could say what he wanted without getting maudlin or terrifying David. And his guitar was already at the store since space in his room was at a premium and he could get some solid songwriting time in when David was gone.

Patrick hopped down from the counter and hugged David from behind, his arms circling his waist.

“I’m gonna step out for a minute,” he said.

“And leave me all alone?”

“Yup.”

He kissed David softly behind the ear before ducking behind the counter to grab his leather planner.

“My number’s on the fridge and I left you twenty bucks for pizza,” he said jokingly as he came back over to David. “Bye.” He pecked him quickly on the lips before heading out the front door.

First stop: Town Hall.


The town council loved Patrick. He was one of the few people who got in and out with little bullshit. In the last year, he filed the most amount of business incorporation requests, nearly all of them for Ray’s new ventures, but he assisted in getting all of their vendors set up as fully licensed businesses to help with the town’s tax revenue.

Honestly, he was kind of a rock star at Town Hall.

He walked in and was immediately greeted by Roland.

“Hey! Patrick! How’s it going, my man?” He pulled him in for a hug.

“It’s going alright,” he replied. “Business is a little slow right now, so we’re trying some new community engagement initiatives.”

“If it’s anything like the crab boil Café Tropical did three years ago, I’m going to have to veto that right now,” Roland said seriously. “Nearly burned the whole building down.”

“No, no, there’s no fire,” Patrick assured him. “We’re gonna do an open mic tomorrow night.”

Now that caught the others’ attention.

“Open mic night?” Moira asked as she stood up from her desk, circling to the front. “You’re doing an open mic night?”

“Oh, Gwen and I love open mic nights,” Bob said. “I’d go and perform my beat poetry and Gwen would stay home. It’s a really good time.”

“What kind of performances would be allowed at this ‘open mic night’?” Moira inquired. He knew of all the people in Town Hall she would be the most interested.

“Anything!” Patrick answered. “You did such a wonderful job at Asbestos Fest. Perhaps an encore performance? I’m sure there’s something you’d love to sing.”

“I’ll have to take a look at my songbook and see what could be prepared with such little time,” she said, putting on her reading glasses and returning to her desk to pull out a large binder.

“Now, do you have access to a puppet?” Roland asked Patrick discreetly.

“You are not doing ventriloquism,” Ronnie finally said, not even looking up from her newspaper. “It got a little too racy for my goddaughter’s 6th birthday party.”

Ah, the woman he was looking for.

“Oh, there won’t be any kids there,” Patrick explained, finally breaking away from Roland to get to Ronnie. He sat down in one of the chairs next to her desk. “It’s strictly adults only. We want to serve alcohol so I’m going to need a one-day liquor license.”

“Are you going to have a bartender checking IDs?” she asked.

“That’s the problem. We don’t really have the budget to hire someone,” he said. “And it’s bad business practice to have someone work for free.”

Ronnie stared at him for a moment, then silently opened her file drawer and pulled out a permit. Without him filling out anything, she signed it.

“This will let you have alcohol on the premises if you charge cover at the door and check IDs there. You won’t need a bartender,” she explained, passing the permit to Patrick. “But this is your live performance permit.”

It was happening. Their open mic was officially happening.

“Thank you so much, Ronnie,” he said sincerely, filing the permit away in his planner. “I’ll get you as many drink tickets as you can carry.” That earned him a rare smirk from her.

“I knew I liked you, Patrick Brewer,” she said.

He stood up and headed toward the exit.

“I look forward to seeing you all there!” he said to the room. He pointed to Bob and Moira. “Can’t wait to hear your performances.”

With that, he was out of town hall in all of 10 minutes and simultaneously told the whole town. The small-town grapevine was short but effective. He even quickly stopped in to Café Tropical to fill out the rest of his permit and to tell Twyla, the ultimate town gossip. Every person she served the next two days would know about the open mic night.

Now he just needed to figure out what he was going to sing to David.


When he got back to the store, he found David leaning on the counter and staring disappointingly out the window. It was so hard to see him like this. His mood tended to match the ebb and flow of sales, which made sense for a first-time business owner. But Patrick was going to fix it. He had to for monetary and romantic reasons.

“Well, someone took a long coffee break,” David said as he came out from behind the counter to meet Patrick.

“I’m sorry, did I miss the evening rush?” he asked sarcastically.

“Yes,” he replied defensively. “One customer came in… who was asking for directions.”

“Well, I have good news,” Patrick said before handing the permit to David. “I got us a permit for tomorrow night. Ronnie says we can get around the liquor license if we just charge people cover at the door, so.” He set his planner down on the table. He was extremely proud of himself to get all that done in only 30 minutes.

“What’s the permit for?” David asked, trying to sound oblivious. Patrick stared at him. The dumb act wasn’t going to work. They needed this. He needed this.

“The open mic night,” he said bluntly.

There was a long pause before David finally replied.

“Oh,” he said. He sounded both uncomfortable and surprised at this. It was collateral from teaching him compromise. “So, we’re moving forward with the open mic night, then.”

“Yeah, we’re moving forward with it,” Patrick said, ignoring David’s obvious uneasiness. If David was going to be weird about this obviously great idea, why not have a little fun with it? Patrick headed to the back of the store where his guitar was tucked away. “People are pretty excited about it, too. Did you know Bob does beat poetry in his spare time?”

“No.”

Patrick came back into the main room, carrying his guitar with a smile. David couldn’t hide his discomfort any longer now that the proof of Patrick’s intentions was in the open.

“Oh god, what’s that—what’s that?” David asked.

“This is called an acoustic guitar.” Now definitely called for smart-ass comments. He pulled the strap of the guitar over his head as David continued to stare dumbfounded. Patrick could tell he was doing everything in his power to not have a meltdown like he did over the plungers, and honestly, he was rather impressed.

“Right,” David said. “When we were talking about the open mic night, I thought that you would be hosting it, not performing at it.”

“Well, traditionally, the host plays at least one song, so.”

“Right, okay. So, you will be playing your acoustic guitar in front of people, then. In public.”

“And singing a song,” Patrick added.

“And singing a song.”

Oh boy, David hated this. Patrick was positive he wouldn’t hate whatever song he ultimately performed, but this was one opportunity he couldn’t pass to mess with him. Throw him off completely.

“I was thinking about singing an original song,” Patrick mused.

“An original song?”

“But then I thought it’s probably best just to stick with a classic.”

“Hm. Yeah. Classic.”

The more Patrick spoke, the unhappier David grew. He couldn’t not address it now.

“So, I’m sensing some apprehension,” he commented.

“No,” David lied. “I think it’s, you know, it’s—it’s not scary or embarrassing for the person you’re dating to sing at you with an acoustic guitar in front of people. I think that’s… cool.” He must have had a bad experience with it in the past. That had to be the reason for the nervousness.

“David, you’re going to be fine,” he promised. “It’s just a way to get people in the store, ‘kay?”

“Yeah, yes, for sure. I mean, if you are confident to put yourself and our relationship at risk like that, then I am… 87 percent behind you,” he said.

David was being ridiculous. It really didn’t matter if he liked the open mic or not. It would be really great for their bottom line. Plus, Patrick thought he might have the perfect song to sing.

“Good to know,” he said, then leaned in to David. “So now the only question is: do I wear my fringed vest—"

“Okay.” David was having none of it.

“Or more importantly: do I wear anything under it?”

“Okay.”

Patrick stared seriously at David as he turned to go to the back of the store, all the while strumming some nonsense chords on the guitar. They were gross chords that, without even looking behind him, were scaring the absolute shit out of David.

One perk of the store being virtually empty was that it gave him time to mess with David by strumming dissonant chords and singing off-key. What David didn’t know was that Patrick was actually a very talented musician and minored in music. So talented in fact that he was able to transcribe and arrange his actual song for the open mic all while singing “The Piña Colada Song” as poorly as he could.

At the end of the day, David wasn’t speaking to him but kissed him goodbye anyway.


Patrick stayed at the store late that night to get some actual practice time in. While it was immensely fun torturing David, that was the last thing he wanted to do when he got on stage. He wanted to prove his boyfriend wrong, that serenading your partner can be a romantic act. It had to be perfect.

The next day started like any other day, except David was particularly leery of anything Patrick said or did. He’d cringe any time Patrick went near his guitar, terrified he’d repeat yesterday. So when Patrick volunteered to run the errands, David was relieved to not live in constant fear.

The open mic was set to start at 8pm which gave Patrick enough time to get all the things he needed for the event. He borrowed the microphone and stage from Town Hall, bought some wine and beer from the supermarket in Elmdale, and between two of their vendors, he managed to create a charcuterie plate that David would like. Every place he stopped, someone approached him to ask about signing up or attending. It was all coming together for a magical night.

Stepping out also gave him a chance to rehearse in the car. He recorded himself playing on his phone and rehearsed until he worried he wouldn’t have a voice left for the performance.

It was going to be incredible.

He got back around 6pm, right on schedule. After moving everything from Patrick’s car into the store, David went back to the motel to get ready for the evening. Despite not wanting to do the open mic night, he apparently still needed to look good for it.

Folks arrived early, as they usually did in Schitt’s Creek. Some were there to sign up for a performance slot, many just wanted to get their drink on early. And for every $5 spent at the store, they got one drink ticket, which meant their sales were well past where he thought they’d be by this point. He underestimated the small town’s love of alcohol.

The line-up was solid and varied, folks were relaxing, and sales were up. Everyone was there, from Twyla to the mayor and his wife. Patrick could not have asked for a better outcome.

As anticipated, David and Moira arrived around 7:45pm, right when sign-ups were wrapping up. Moira looked impeccable as always, and David was wearing orange. He’d never seen him wear orange – well, any color – before. It looked so good on him.

He pushed through the crowd to where David and Moira were lingering at the counter. David was wearing the same anxious expression he had all day yesterday and today. There were so many things that made David uncomfortable at the same time: open mics, serenades, small talk. Patrick didn’t expect him to change his mind completely overnight, but the fact he was being open enough to allow this to happen was huge. And best of all, Patrick was right that this was a great idea.

“Hi,” David said curtly as Patrick approached.

“You see? You see what I told you?” Patrick said with a huge grin. He was really riding on endorphins of good business and pre-show excitement. “This was all it took to get people out on a work night.”

“Yup,” he replied uncomfortably. “A lot of people are shopping and drinking. I don’t even know if we need to do the open mic part.”

“Oh, we need the open mic part.”

“Do we?”

“Yeah.”

Patrick patted him on the shoulder before heading to the stage. He was so invested in this open mic night as not just a business opportunity, but as a personal triumph. Growing up, he’d always secretly performed for the boys in the audience. They’d never know, and especially since he never changed pronouns in the songs, they would never find out. Afterwards, audience members would compliment him on all the emotions he exuded in his performances, and then they’d say his girlfriend was so lucky.

But now there was no question. He was about to sing openly and freely to this talented, smart, and beautiful man who had captured his heart. He wanted to show David how much he loved him and cared for him all while fulfilling a lifelong dream. He so badly wanted to be a cheesy romcom trope and figured this was far better than standing outside the motel with a boombox. Everyone else got to do it. Why not him?

He got on stage and felt the warmth of the lights on his skin. It felt like he had come home after a long trip at sea. Folks started cheering as he approached the microphone.

“How’s everybody doing?” he asked the crowd. They cheered louder and that rush of energy was a feeling he missed.

“Thanks so much for coming to what I hope will be the first of many open mic nights here at the Rose Apothecary,” he continued, looking directly at David who was not thrilled by that sentence. “David and I are so excited you could all come. I see everybody has loaded up on drink tickets.”

“Oh, I am,” Ronnie answered with a fistful of tickets in hand, eliciting a warm chuckle from all those in the store. He told her she could have as many as she wanted without purchase, but she insisted on paying her fair share.

“That’s good news,” he said. The laughter helped calm the simmering nervousness he had which was less about his performance and more about how David was going to react. “I’m going to, uh, I guess I’m gonna get the party started right after I tune this baby.”

He grabbed his guitar from the corner of the stage and quickly checked the tuning. His skin was buzzing with excitement and nervousness. Once he was ready, he leaned back into the microphone.

“Alright. I would like to dedicate this song to a very special someone in my life,” he said, strumming for a second, then looked to David who was still very unhappy about this. “David Rose.”

“Okay,” David said, clearly disagreeing with the specific call-out.

“There he is, right there,” Patrick said playfully. “That’s him. Can’t miss him.” David uncomfortably waved to the guests.

As he began playing, he thought back to one of their late-night conversations sitting in his car after hitting up the closest fast food joint for a burger.

The radio was on low as they discussed what breed of dog everyone in the town would be. It was the same station Patrick had on after their first date and like always, love songs filled the airwaves. David usually didn’t touch the volume – he was shockingly respectful of driver/radio rules in the car – but without asking, he turned up this song just enough to hear the lyrics.

Of course, Patrick knew the song. Whoever didn’t know Tina Turner was insane. But watching David pause and close his eyes for just a moment to take in the first verse. Patrick reached over and took David’s hand, lacing their fingers together.

“I love this song,” David said softly. “I would blast it full volume and my mom would say she could hear it from the other side of the house. But it was never loud enough. The music video was ridiculous – you know, the one with the horse—”

“I remember.”

“But her live performance in Barcelona was so emotional and so raw, and growing up I always wished I had someone who made me feel the way she did during that performance.” He finally looked at Patrick who was speechless. It was a deep confession that was very unexpected. David then smiled sheepishly before saying, “It’s dumb, I know.”

“It’s not dumb,” Patrick murmured before leaning over and kissing him tenderly. “It’s not dumb at all.”

He looked up from the floor to David because really, in that moment, he was the only person in the room. Then he began to sing.

I call you when I need you, my heart's on fire
You come to me, come to me wild and wired
Oh, you come to me, give me everything I need

David glanced around quickly, as if to make sure no one was watching him, and Patrick saw his nervousness morphing into something else.

Give me a life time of promises and a world of dreams
Speak the language of love like you know what it means

Moira reached out and touched David’s arm. She knew, too.

Mm, and it can't be wrong, take my heart and make it strong, babe
You're simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I ever met
I'm stuck on your heart, I hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby, I would rather be dead

He saw David’s face soften into adoration. Patrick had seen that look so many times over the last few months and he wanted to see it forever.

In your heart I see the start of every night and every day
In your eyes I get lost, I get washed away
Just as long here in your arms I could be in no better place
You're simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I ever met
I'm stuck on your heart, I hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby, I would rather be dead

As he sang, David’s smile grew and his posture became that of the shy teenager he must have been when he discovered the song.

Each time you leave me I start losing control
You're walking away with my heart and my soul
I can feel you even when I'm alone
Oh, baby, don't let go

The bridge never failed to give Patrick goosebumps because he completely understood how Tina felt.

You're the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I ever met
I'm stuck on your heart
I hang on every word you say
Tear us apart
Baby I would rather be dead
Oh, you're the best

He played the final chord and David was shaking his head with a blissful smile on his face.

The audience cheered, David applauding right along with them. Patrick couldn’t stop beaming.

“Thank you,” he said over the mic.

He kept watching David who was gazing at him silently from the counter. He needed to get off the stage and be with him. He quickly set his guitar down in the corner.

“Are you ready for your next performer?” he said to be met with more raucous applause. “You know him. You love him. He fixes your cars. Here’s Bob with some beat poetry!” Bob appeared from the side of the stage with a rather large notebook in hand and took the mic.

Patrick cleared the stage and wandered over to David who was still looking at him with such love and adoration. Before he said anything, David silently took Patrick’s hand in his and led him behind the counter and through the curtain to the back.

There, David stopped and drew Patrick into his arms. It was then that Patrick noticed the tears in David’s eyes.

He knew David wasn’t understood by a lot of people. He was often seen as aloof and overly critical, his sarcasm and biting wit serving as his sword and shield. But this was David without his armor. This was the David who Patrick got to see glimpses of, but never like this.

David leaned in and kissed Patrick so delicately that his heart leapt to his throat. He wanted to tell him he loved him and how much he cared about him, but Tina had already done that for him.

When they pulled back, David rested his forehead against his.

“Still only 87 percent behind me?” he whispered. David chuckled.

“I think it’s a bit more like 96, now,” he replied.

“Good.”

“It was really beautiful. Easily better than her Barcelona performance.” Patrick laughed.

“High praise. Thank you.”

They stood there and swayed for a moment, their arms around each other, trading soft, tender kisses.

Patrick didn’t know how long they were back there and frankly didn’t care. David was the only thing that mattered.

It was the smattering of polite applause from the main room that brought them back down to Earth.

“Gotta go back to work,” he murmured.

“Is there any improv in the line-up?”

He pulled back from David and took his hand to lead him back out.

“Well, your mom is performing later—”

“So, that’s a yes.”

Chapter Text

Patrick and David had been dating for four months – four months! – and Patrick couldn’t be more elated. It was all so new and wonderful. Every time he saw David, he could feel his heart skip a beat. It had been four months since that first date and they were possibly the best four months of his life. He had his own business with his boyfriend, living in a quaint town in the country.

The relationship was a first for both of them – albeit in different ways – and it felt good starting on a nearly level playing field. While Patrick had never dated a man before, David never had a partner who was attentive, respectful, and nice. He had also never had a partner who cared about anniversaries.

At their one-month, Patrick brought David a small teddy bear he won from a claw machine as they waited for their table at a restaurant in Thornbridge. David didn’t realize it was their one-month until Patrick handed him the little white bear. It was holding a heart, so it only felt appropriate that he spent $10 on getting it out of the damn machine. As soon as his hands touched the machine, David pretended he didn’t know him. Thankfully, Patrick was able to get it out before their buzzer went off and was able to present it to David in front of the whole waiting area. David hated it, but he still held it in his lap the whole meal.

David forgot their two-month too, but that didn’t matter. Patrick had gotten him a mug that read ‘World’s Best Boyfriend’ anyway. He said he’d never use it. Patrick saw him secretly pour his caramel macchiatos into it, sacrificing the latticework that Twyla had finally perfected, when he’d be in the back doing inventory.

The three-month gift of a keychain with a photo of both of them on it was met with equal disdain as the bear and mug. And as with the bear and mug, Patrick saw he’d put it on his keys to the store.

A new baker had just opened in Elmdale. David & Patrick had stopped in to see if they’d be interested in selling at the Apothecary. (They were.) Before they left, the owners handed them a box of a dozen different pastries. They pulled over on the drive home to sit in an empty park and fed each other the delicate pastries. It was one of the most romantic things Patrick had ever done in his life and was pretty sure it was the same for David.

So, it only made sense to remind him of that beautiful day by ordering a giant heart-shaped cookie with a giant pink ‘4’ on it in icing from that same baker. He had it delivered to the motel so that Stevie could get a good giggle at it. (She helped him pick out the keychain.) Much like all the other gifts, David would be embarrassed about it but still quietly enjoy it.

Patrick couldn’t wait for David’s reaction. It was all far too hilarious.

He checked his watch around 10:15am when it was set to be delivered. He was at the store and David wouldn’t be showing up until around 10:30am like usual. It was after 10am, but before he’d left. It was perfect. Hopefully, they’d spend the evening eating the cookie while lounging in his car at the Julia Stiles-a-thon at the drive-in. He knew there was no chance in making out during either 10 Things I Hate About You or Save the Last Dance, but he had hopes for The Prince & Me. After sitting through two movies, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep his hands off him.

The clock rolled over to 10:30am, Patrick was reviewing contracts as he waited behind the counter, and right on schedule, David came through the front door carrying his large black bag. He did not look pleased.

Excellent.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” David asked him exasperatingly, dropping his bag in front of the counter.

“I take it the cookie went over well?” he replied with a grin, trying not to laugh. Stevie must’ve been cackling.

“I have told you for three months now that I don’t want a monthly anniversary gift,” David continued, ignoring his question. “And I know you think it’s very funny, but this time it went too far.”

Went too far?

“It’s a cookie, David,” he said. “What’s the big deal?” He overreacted to all of his gifts, but this was a little different.

“First of all, a cookie is always a big deal, especially when that cookie just alerted my entire family to the fact that this is the longest relationship I’ve ever had.” He trailed off at the end as he started adjusting the tea bags on the table, glancing up to see the utter shock on Patrick’s face.

“This is the longest relationship you’ve ever had?” Patrick asked, stunned. He knew David hadn’t had the best luck with relationships. Hell, when they started dating, he said it was kind of a first time for him too. This relationship was a big deal for both of them. Maybe he needed to be a little more sensitive. “Aw, I should’ve gotten you more than a cookie.”

“Well, the cookie was almost too much, figuratively speaking,” David said, then added under his breath, “I ate half of it on the way here.” He gathered himself again. “Bottom line, I just don’t think we need to celebrate as much. You know, we could just go day to day like normal people. If we throw a renaissance fair every month, I just feel like we might be tempting fate.”

Oh, David.

He was so worried something terrible was going to happen or worse, Patrick would leave him. There was very little in this world that would make Patrick leave his side. This was the happiest he had ever been, and it was all because of David. He needed to have more faith.

Patrick came around the counter to take David by the shoulders.

“We are not tempting fate, okay?” he assured him. “I can’t speak to your past, but I think that you might have an easier time of it – and a little bit more fun – if you learn to trust people.”

David mimicked him by taking him by the shoulders.

“The last time I heard that I was dating a birthday clown who painted my face in the night and was literally never seen from again,” David said seriously. He was clearly mildly traumatized by this.

“Noted,” he said softly. He understood the fear. It wasn’t easy to trust others and given how messed up so many of David’s relationships were – both romantic and platonic – he wasn’t surprised he wasn’t more trusting.

“And you have nothing to worry about, David,” Patrick continued as he backed up to lean against the counter, giving David space. He pulled out the drive-in tickets from his back pocket. “And I can return these tickets to the Julia Stiles-a-thon at the drive-in tonight. I agree, that might have been a little overboard.”

David reflexively reached out and took the tickets out of Patrick’s hands.

“Okay, first of all, let it be known that supporting Julia Stiles is never ‘going overboard,’” David corrected him.

Every month he got the hemming and hawing about how they shouldn’t make a big deal out of month anniversaries, and every month David thanked him for a fantastic anniversary. (Okay, he didn’t use the word ‘anniversary’, but given how passionately David would kiss him in the car after their dates, it was obvious.)

“Oh, so you can go,” Patrick said warmly. It was going to be so romantic. He couldn’t wait to crawl into the backseat of the car with him after the marathon.

“Um, not tonight,” David replied. “Tonight, I have a thing. But tomorrow, I could come.” It wasn’t usual that he didn’t elaborate.

“What’s your thing tonight?”

David paused.

“Um… it’s just like, a family thing at the motel,” he said evasively. “It’s just like, a nothing thing… You wouldn’t…” He looked down at the tickets. Clearly it wasn’t Patrick’s business to know what it was, and he didn’t need to pry. David could tell him later and he would love to hear about it.

“Okay, well, tomorrow night it is,” Patrick said as he reached back for his folder. “Now I gotta go to town hall to get some signatures for our permit renewal.”  He stepped into David’s space, putting a hand on his arm. “But don’t worry, David. Unlike the birthday clown, I will be back.”

He kissed David on the cheek before heading toward the door.

“He was never found,” David said.

“He’s probably dead,” Patrick said bluntly before stepping outside.

The sunshine warmed his skin and the fresh air filled his lungs. It was a beautiful day. He was excited to celebrate another month with David. This wasn’t his first four-month anniversary, but it was the first one he really, truly cared about. He couldn’t wait to celebrate one year, five years, ten years, a lifetime with him.

The walk to town hall was brief and before he knew it, he was walking up the front steps. Inside, all of the desks were empty sans one.

“Well, look who it is,” Moira said, taking off her reading glasses and standing up from her desk. “My son’s beau.” He smiled at the term of endearment. David would never use the word ‘beau’, but it was like music hearing it come from Moira.

“Hi, Mrs. Rose,” he said, smiling. “I see you’re holding down the fort today.”

“Ah, yes. The lone soldier waiting for the troops to come home, prepared for any attack,” she said as she ran an affectionate hand down his arm. “What brings you here today?”

“Permit renewal,” he said, handing her the folder.

“Is it that time already?” she asked, awed. She put her reading glasses back on as she sat down and pulled out the form.

“It is.”

“My, how the time just flies! I feel like it was just yesterday that David met you, Pat,” she said as she signed his permit forms. He couldn’t help but grin at the pet name. It wasn’t his favorite, but honestly, he was just glad she remembered his name unprompted.

“It feels like I’ve known David forever,” he replied warmly.

“Oh, I’ve heard that before about him. What feels like an hour is only 5 minutes after he’s wound himself up about this, that, and the other thing.”

Patrick chuckled. He knew what she was talking about, but completely disagreed.

“For me, it’s the other way around,” he admitted sheepishly. “It's never enough time.”

She looked up and gave him a soft smile. She took off her glasses and pushed her chair back.

“Let me get you a coffee,” she said, then walked over with her own mug to the tiny coffeemaker in the corner. “It’s certainly not Seattle’s finest, but I at least convinced Roland to start buying it from your store.”

“And we appreciate it.”

She poured coffee into her own mug, then into a disposable cup. Patrick leaned against her desk, appreciating the stillness of the room. She gingerly handed him his cup before sitting back down at her desk.

“Four months, huh?” she said, a twinkle in her eye. Patrick smiled, chuckling to himself. Four months. “So, tell me, how is it going?”

Patrick laughed. His boyfriend’s mom was asking him about their relationship. He never imagined he’d be in this situation. His boyfriend’s mom!

“It’s going really well,” he answered.

“I should say so. I never thought a serenade would bring David to tears.”

“That was what I was going for!” Patrick said. “He was giving me all this grief about the open mic, so I spent the week making him think I was going to play ‘Wonderwall’.”

“He must have nearly died!”

“He almost killed me!”

They both laughed.

“He is really the best,” Patrick sighed happily. “He’s funny, brilliant, ridiculously creative, and surprisingly good at business. He’s stubborn, but nothing I can’t crack.” He smiled. “I couldn’t have asked for a better business partner or boyfriend. He makes me so happy.”

“Well, I can’t wait to celebrate you two tonight at our little Rose family barbeque,” she said with a smile.

…what?

“I’m sorry, what barbeque?”

Moira gasped.

“Did David not tell you?” she asked. Patrick shook his head. “We’re having a barbeque to celebrate David’s longest relationship!”

“He made it seem like it was a family only ordeal.”

“It most certainly is not. We definitely want you there.”

“I can’t wait.” 

“Perhaps you can bring your guitar and we can have a rousing singalong,” she suggested. “You could get back at David for not inviting you. Can you play anything from Barry Manilow’s catalog? It would drive him crazy.”

“I think so,” Patrick laughed.

“I hope so. It’d only be fair. Please tell me yes,” she begged him. He couldn’t stop laughing. He loved that she was all about getting back at David.

Speaking of David.

“Uh… hi,” David said, mildly annoyed, having just arrived.

“David!” Moira greeted him. “Someone’s ears must be aflame.” David ignored her.

“When you said you were coming back, you just meant you weren’t coming back, and that I would have to spend the afternoon searching for you on the train tracks and among various unmarked vans,” David said sharply to him, a hand on his hip.

“You did that for me?” Patrick asked sarcastically.

“…no, but there was a moment when I thought about doing it,” he amended.

“David, blame me,” Moira chimed in.

“Oh, I do,” he snapped at her.

“Patrick was about the slip away with the signatures when I corralled him into a little lunchtime chinwag,” she said, grinning.

“Yes, which is how I found out about the barbeque that I was invited to but didn’t know about,” Patrick said to him, bothered that it wasn’t even a slip of the memory but a conscious choice.

“Hm,” David said, his eyes darting between Patrick and Moira.

“Why didn’t you tell me I was invited to the barbeque?” he asked. Why did David want to keep him away from his family? He’d met all of them and liked David’s family. They were great.

“Well, they only wanted to have the barbeque after reading what was on your cookie,” David said, as if that were the obvious answer.

“Yeah, sorry, that still sounds pretty nice to me,” Patrick said warily.

“Thank you, Pat,” Moira said.

“It is nice! No one’s saying it’s not nice,” David corrected himself. “What I’m saying it—”

“’Kay!” Moira cut him off. David groaned with frustration. She stood up and turned to Patrick, lightly touching his arm. “Pat, do you mind giving us the room for just one moment?”

“Certainly.”

Patrick grabbed his folder with the signed permit from the desk.

“Somebody should probably be at the store anyway, huh?” he said before tapping David on the ass with the folder as he left town hall. “Lovely talking to you, Mrs. Rose!”

“You too!” she called after him.

He headed back to the store to wait for David to return.

A barbeque! And to celebrate their relationship. It was going to be the first time he was going to sit down with all of the Roses for dinner.

Dinner with the family.

Patrick’s whole body tingled with joy. He was going to dinner with his boyfriend’s family.

A couple customers were waiting outside the door when he arrived.

“Sorry about that, folks,” he said as he unlocked the front door. “Come on in.”

A few sales later, David was back in the store looking less tense than when Patrick left town hall. Surely Moira got through to him. If David really didn’t want him there, he wouldn’t go. But he really, really wanted to be there. He wished his family were closer, so they could do a joint barbeque with the Roses. One day.

He was just finishing replacing their permit in its frame when David gingerly placed his hands on the counter. His lips were pursed, as they often were when he had something he wanted to say but was uncomfortable saying it. Patrick gave him a moment before breaking the silence.

“I was so glad when I saw you hadn’t gotten rid of this frame,” he remarked as he pushed down the tabs keeping the back of the frame in place.

“I thought it was good to showcase your progress,” David replied. Patrick chuckled. He hung the frame back up in its place.

Stuck on your heart.

“So, about the barbeque…” David said slowly. Patrick leaned his hands on the counter, mirroring David.

“The barbeque you neglected to tell me I was invited to, yes,” he said matter-of-factly. David huffed.

“Yes,” he said, then paused, biting his lip and staring at Patrick. He sighed deeply. “Would you like to come to my family’s barbeque tonight?”

Patrick sucked his teeth in contemplation.

“You know, I don’t know. I have these tickets to a thing tonight.”

David gave him the most impatient look before rolling his eyes.

“You can bring your guitar,” he said reluctantly.

Patrick smiled.

“I’d love to come,” he replied. He leaned across the counter and gave David a light kiss on the lips. “The post-meal singalong is going to be incredible.”

“No singalong!”

“Your mom was very excited to discover I know Barbara Streisand’s whole catalog.”

“Okay,” David said, defeated, as he stepped away from the counter and headed toward the back room. Patrick followed him.

“She specifically requested Yentl and who am I to deny my Jewish boyfriend’s mother ‘Papa Can You Hear Me?’.”

“No one is playing Yentl at our anniversary barbeque!” David yelled from the back. Patrick beamed.

“So, you admit it’s an anniversary, then?” he asked smugly.

David appeared in the doorway, hands on his hip, giving Patrick a very serious look.

“Yes,” he sighed. “And it might be the last if you subject me to my mother’s Broadway singing.” Patrick drew him in by the waist.

“Hall & Oates it is, then,” he said before murmuring, “Happy anniversary, David.” He kissed David softly and when he pulled back, David was smiling, a light blush on his cheeks.


The little barbeque was already underway by the time they were able to close the store for the day. A couple customers lingered a bit too long and Patrick wouldn’t let David just shoo them out since they were absolutely making a purchase.

Once closed, they made a trip to the market to pick up some pre-made potato salad as well as a couple six packs of beer at Stevie’s request. Throughout the whole drive David kept glancing over at him with a small smile. It felt so wonderfully domestic, picking up a couple extra things for a barbeque with David’s family.

They pulled up to the motel and quickly exited the car, grabbing the food from the backseat.

“Hey, everyone!” Patrick called out as he and David approached the barbeque in progress.

“Patrick and David, the men of the hour!” Moira said excitedly from the picnic table where she sat alone. Johnny and Stevie were huddled over the grill and Alexis was nowhere to be found.

“Hi,” David said uncomfortably. He slid the potato salad onto the table. “Everything looks like it’s going well here.”

He wasn’t wrong. The burgers on the grill smelled delicious. There was a sizable spread of side dishes and condiments across two tables and Patrick even had to move a giant ice cream tub in the cooler to make space for the additional beers he purchased.

“We couldn’t have done it without Stevie. She’s the real barbeque master,” Moira explained.

“Well, it looks great, Mrs. Rose,” Patrick said from the table against the building. “David, take a seat. I’ll grab your wine.”

“Oh,” David said, pleasantly surprised. “Thank you, Patrick.”

Patrick poured a glass of chardonnay for his boyfriend and popped open a beer for himself before returning to the table where David and Moira sat watching Johnny and Stevie grill. He could catch a word or two between them, but by how tense Stevie was and how close Johnny was to her, it can’t have been going well.

“They’ve been over there a while,” Moira mused.

“Do you think they need help?” David asked.

“I’ll go check,” Patrick offered, standing up from the table, beer in hand. He ambled over to the grill where he could see some of the slider patties were on the brink of becoming charcoal briquettes themselves. Stevie was silent as Johnny glanced between her and the grill.

“You guys want me to jump in?” he asked. Johnny turned around.

“No! I think we’ve got it covered,” he said pleasantly, stepping back from Stevie and the grill.

“Oh! You do! Great!” Stevie said sarcastically. She held up her empty bottle. “’Cause I’m gonna get another beer.” She spun around and pawned the turner to Johnny. “There you go.” And with that, she escaped, leaving Patrick and Johnny alone.

Patrick hadn’t spent any significant time with Mr. Rose. It wasn’t on purpose. He didn’t mean to avoid his boyfriend’s father. They just hadn’t crossed paths as much as say, he and Mrs. Rose did. He’d see her at town hall or when she’s stop in the store. Johnny was usually always at the motel and when Patrick was at the motel, he was either picking David up or David was hurriedly ushering him into the room because they didn’t know how much time they’d have to make out before Alexis got home.

But it was also so wild to be standing next to the former CEO of Rose Video, the first place Patrick ever worked. It was the job that inspired him to go into business. When he was 17, he was one of the youngest assistant managers the company ever had. It taught him the value of hard work and dedication and ultimately led him down the path that brought him here, making sliders with the former CEO at a barbeque to celebrate his boyfriend and him. It was quite surreal.

“Well, finally, back at the old grill,” Johnny said jovially. He chuckled, making Patrick smile. He knew Johnny hadn’t a clue what he was doing, but the effort was appreciated.

“I’d say that one looks about perfect,” Patrick said, gesturing to one of the patties.

“I was gonna say the same thing,” he said. There was a pause. “…Specifically, which one were you talking about?”

“This one here.” Patrick pointed more directly at the patty in question.

“Oh yeah, that’s the one.”

Patrick walked around him to grab a plate. Johnny removed the burger patty and set it gingerly on the proffered plate.

“This one looks good,” Johnny said, pointing to another one. “Is this one cooked?”

“That one needs a little bit longer,” Patrick answered, but pointed to a different one. “This one is ready though.”

It wasn’t the deep conversation he was hoping to have Mr. Rose. He wanted to ask him all about the history of Rose Video and really pick his brain for all the business knowledge he had. But right now, it was quite humbling to simply be helping the video magnate cook for his family.

One by one the patties were plated and ready for consumption. Lucky for them, the patties were nearly cooked by the time Patrick and David arrived, so there wasn’t much of a wait. Patrick took the plate in one hand and together he and Mr. Rose joined the others at the table.

“That’s it, watch your step. Right here,” Johnny said, unnecessarily directing him. He was starting to understand where David got his micromanaging from.

As he set the plate on the table, he couldn’t help but look across the table at his boyfriend. He could feel his heart skip a beat. It had only been 10 minutes, but Patrick always missed David even when he wasn’t too far away.

“Perfect, perfect,” Johnny continued. “There you go! We make a good team, Pat!” Patrick tipped his beer to him as he took a seat across from David.

“No, John, no. We’re not doing ‘Pat’,” Moira corrected him. David must have said something to her.

“No, we’re not,” David added. Patrick never wanted David to call him ‘Pat’. He loved the sound of his full name on David’s lips.

Stevie practically collapsed onto the bench next to him, her eyes wide and manic.

“We’re not waiting for Alexis, are we?” she asked. “Because, honestly, I could eat this table cloth.”

Patrick picked up the tray of sliders.

“Medium rare for David,” he said, pointing to one closest to his boyfriend.

“Thank you,” David replied.

He circulated the tray to everyone at the table, finally taking one himself.

He’d done the awkward ‘meet the parents’ thing before in past relationships and even though he already knew David’s whole family, he still felt the overwhelming urge to impress the Roses.

“You know,” he began, “this wasn’t actually the first time that I’ve been put to work by the Rose family. My first job in high school was actually at a Rose Video.” Everyone was surprised.

“Get out of town! What branch?!” Johnny asked, ecstatic.

“785.”

“785! Impressive late fees,” he said. Just remembering that small detail about his branch was one of the reasons Johnny Rose had done so well. He didn’t let anything go unnoticed.

“Thank you,” he said proudly. Part of that was his own personal work, going through back catalogs of unreturned videos and collecting on the fees.

“Can you pass the ketchup?” Stevie asked. As the bottle traveled down the table, David spoke up.

“Okay, how did I not know you worked at a Rose Video?” he asked curiously. Patrick shrugged. David didn’t ask too many questions about Patrick’s past, which was exactly how he liked it.

“Well, let’s hope that you continue to surprise each other,” Moira said. “It keeps the relationship titillating.”

“Please never say ‘titillating’ when referring to my relationship,” David responded.

“Can I, though?” Stevie asked jokingly before taking a huge bite of her slider.

“No.”

Patrick felt so at home with the Roses and the banter. He hoped he could be around them for a long, long time.

“Well, anyone with a glass, please raise them,” Johnny said, lifting his beer in the air. Everyone followed suit. “To relationships. Old and new.”

Patrick looked across the table to David who was gazing fondly at him. His dark brown eyes so full of affection that it filled Patrick from his toes to his fingertips. He felt so alive. It was so easy to love David. Even when David was at his most difficult, there was no part of Patrick who loved him any less. He needed David in his life because before him, he felt like he was just going through the motions. David was passionate and had opinions that he shared. He never had to guess what David was thinking. He was a great brother, son, and business partner. He cared about his family and friends even when he was being critical of them. He made Patrick feel so sexy when they’d be alone, all of his touches and kisses were only ever just for him.

Some days at the store, he’d picture them running the store decades later, still together and still madly in love. It was early in their relationship, sure, but Patrick had never been so certain about anything in his life. He never wanted to lose David Rose.

“Um, thanks for waiting.”

Alexis came around the corner of the motel with someone in tow.

Someone he knew.

Oh, fuck.

Suddenly, there was a ringing in his ears and Patrick’s blood went cold.

“Alexis! Just in time!” Johnny greeted them.

His heart began to race.

“Everybody, this is my new friend, Rachel. She’s having a bit of a day.”

The skeletons in his closet had come out to play.

Rachel’s eyes landed on him, and her brow furrowed.

“Patrick?”

He felt like he was going to vomit.

“Rachel, what are you doing here?” he asked, trying to wrap his head around all the emotions swirling inside him.

“What are you doing here?” she asked him back. “I’ve been texting you for two days!”

He saw all of her inane text messages. He deleted every single one.

He told her he never wanted to speak to her again.

Instead, she did what she’s always done.

“Wait,” Alexis said, confused. “Patrick is your fiancé?”

The knot in his stomach twisted tighter.

Then David turned around to look at him.

He couldn’t handle the shock and confusion on David’s face.

“Uh, I’m sorry,” he said. “You have a fiancé?”

“No,” Patrick said quickly. “I—I mean, I don’t now. But yes, at some point, we—we—we—were…”

He needed everything to stop spinning.

“Patrick, what’s going on here?” Rachel asked.

“Okay, um, I think I just might need a sec,” David said, anxiety bubbling in his voice. He stood up from the table and made a hasty retreat toward the motel.

He needed to explain.

“David!” he called out, knowing it was a futile attempt to get him to come back. He rushed to follow David to talk to him, passing Rachel on the way. “I’m gonna talk to you in a minute. We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

Patrick’s first and only priority was David.

He followed him into his room. David immediately started pacing, his hands to his head. Patrick shut the door behind him.

“David, I need to explain a couple of things,” he said. It was very hard to calm someone who was panicking when he himself was on the verge as well.

“Um, what would be the main one, do you think?” David asked coldly.

The distance between them hurt.

“Rachel and I were engaged, but I called it off before I moved here.”

“Okay, you know what? You don’t need to explain yourself.” He turned away from him.

“I think—I think that I do,” Patrick said defensively. He needed David to understand.

“No, I know you do,” David said, turning back around. “That’s just what I’m supposed to be saying in the moment. Please, continue.”

This was the conversation he feared.

He anticipated having this conversation years down the line, after he and David were married, and he was in the process of convincing David they should have kids. It would come up as some interesting anecdote while they cuddled on their home’s porch swing on a brisk autumn day. It wouldn’t be a big deal.

She was never supposed to be here.

His legs were going to give out.

He sat down on the corner of Alexis’s bed as he gathered his thoughts.

“Okay, um…” How could he explain the messed-up relationship they had? Especially looking into David’s eyes? “We got together when we were in high school. And we’ve been on and off ever since.”

His voice was starting to quake.

“Uh, I don’t know, we always just sorta… fell back into it. Anyway, she’s been reaching out and expecting us to get back together for the past few months—”

“Woah,” David cut him off. “Over the past few months? And you didn’t think to tell me about this?”

Dating Rachel was like this: they would be together for a year or so until Patrick couldn’t fathom the deep unrelenting sadness that lived inside him. He would break up with her and tell her that he needed space. He would try dating other girls in the interim, but he deep down he knew that wasn’t the answer. He wanted to know what a boy’s lips tasted like. It was more than a curiosity. But it wasn’t what he was supposed to want.

She would text him periodically – sometimes actual sentences, but usually jibberish – and he’d text her back, asking why she was contacting him against his wishes. She would say she missed him and loved him and that he was the one for her. It would hurt, hearing her say these things because he did love her. He really did. She was kind and sweet and patient. ‘The kind of girl you marry,’ his dad used to say. So, he’d take her back.

He was a small-town boy who couldn’t explain the disappointment he felt when kissing her or having sex with her. He wanted to love her like in the movies – fiercely and passionately – because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do, but there was always a part of him that knew it wasn’t it for him. That sadness would build and build and build until he couldn’t take it anymore. And then he’d break up with her.

Rinse and repeat.

At some point between high school and now, his father told him it was the lack of solid commitment that kept him from wanting to stay with her. So, at 24 years old, Patrick bought a ring and proposed in the 7-11 parking lot where they lost their virginity to each other. For her, it was a dream come true. For him, it was ripping off a band-aid. It stung and hurt, and the wound never healed.

Since finding David, the wound was finally healing.

Today, the scab had been torn off, leaving him bloody and numb.

He couldn’t fight with David.

He lied. Plain and simple.

“You stood in front of me and told me to trust people,” David said accusingly.

“I know.”

All the times he’d told David to trust him flashed through his mind.

“When I was perfectly fine not trusting people!” he continued. “Not trusting people is what I'm used to! It is my comfort zone. But next thing I know, there's an oversized cookie on my doorstep and you are telling me that I have nothing to worry about.”

“I didn’t want it to affect what we have, okay?” Patrick said as he stood up and stepped closer to David. His heart had suddenly leapt into his throat. “And I mean it when I tell you that you have nothing to worry about. ‘Cause no matter how hard I tried with her, it just never felt right! And up until recently, I didn’t understand why.”

When he met David, it was like someone finally opened all the curtains and let the sunlight in. With David, none of the sadness he’d felt with Rachel was ever there. His heart was so full of joy just thinking about this incredible, beautiful, perfectly imperfect man standing in front of him.

“David, I’ve spent most of my life not knowing what ‘right’ was supposed to feel like, and then I met you. And everything changed,” he professed. “You make me feel right, David.”

David paused, taking it all in.

“That is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard anyone say,” he said softly. “Outside of the Downton Christmas special.”

“It’s the truth,” Patrick said tenderly.

“I know,” David answered. He was coming apart at the seams. “Um, it’s just that my truth is that I am damaged goods. And this has really messed things up for me.”

Patrick knew David was anything but damaged goods. He had a difficult past, but by no means did he deserve to be treated the way he was by anyone who dated him previously. Patrick wanted to hold him and kiss him, show him how special and perfect he was to him.

“And I think I need some time with it,” David finished.

His heart shattered into a million pieces.

“Alright,” he whispered.

Everything in him was screaming to beg and plead David to forgive him. He wanted to go back to before. He wanted to feel the sun on his face again.

But he had to give him his space.

He wasn’t going to be like Rachel.

Ugh. Rachel.

Patrick headed to the door, trying to keep it together, remembering that he still needed to talk to her. He had his hand on the doorknob when he heard David behind him.

“Actually…”

He stopped.

He needed to hear the end of that sentence.

Actually, I don’t need to think about it. Actually, I can’t be without you. Actually, I love you.

“Um, I haven’t had dinner yet, so…”

Of course. It was foolish to think David Rose, of all people, would forgive so easily.

“I’ll grab you a slider,” Patrick said because despite all of this, he cared about David. That would never, ever change. He would do anything for him.

“More than one,” David added. “And some potato salad. And I—I think there were some other sides on the table, but I couldn’t see, so maybe just a smattering of everything.”

It wasn’t what Patrick wanted to hear. But he had to grab David some food because it was his job as David’s boyfriend.

Possibly ex-boyfriend.

That was the sucker punch.

Patrick took in a deep breath.

He had to go. He had to give David space.

“Okay,” he said dutifully before exiting the motel room, leaving David behind.

Patrick had entered the motel room afraid of what might happen. He was leaving with his worst nightmare confirmed.

He could see himself bursting into tears as he slides down David’s front door to sit on the ground, letting the sadness overtake him. But he couldn’t do that. He had an obligation to uphold. David needed to trust him at his word.

He stoically walked back to the barbeque where it was dead silent. Everyone was watching him. Alexis and Rachel sat with the rest of the family, Rachel having taken David’s seat at the table.

Anger bubbled in his stomach.

That was not her seat.

Without a word, he reached around her and took David’s nearly empty plate.

“Patrick—” she said worriedly, delicately touching his arm.

He pulled away as if he’d been burned. And then he let out a laugh.

She was following their pattern to the letter.

“Nope,” he said. “I’m going to take this plate to David first, and then we can talk.” He began filling David’s plate with all the food he asked for, including the condiments Patrick knew he liked on his burgers. “But he comes first.”

As he made his way over to the table with the other sides, he could feel himself starting to shake with all the emotions running through him. Stevie rushed out of her seat to meet him.

“Do you want me to take that to him?” she said softly. He looked up from the plate to her face and her eyes were full of sympathy. If there was anyone in this whole town who he could trust with such a task, it would be Stevie. She loved them both. She was their biggest cheerleader. She understood the struggles of small-town expectations, but also knew David inside and out.

Patrick prayed she wouldn’t pick a side.

“No, I promised him I would bring it to him,” he replied.

Stevie placed her hand comfortingly on his back.

“You’re a good boyfriend,” she whispered. Patrick let out a choked laugh.

He really wasn’t.

“You are,” she repeated as if she could read his mind.

Like he said, biggest cheerleader.

“Thank you,” he replied. He gave her a watery smile before heading back to David’s motel room door.

He knocked softly.

“David, I’ve got your food,” he called through the door. He heard the chain rattle against the wood before the door opened.

David stood there before him, looking as closed off as he did the first day Patrick met him.

Patrick handed him the plate.

“Thank you,” David murmured.

“Anything for you,” Patrick replied.

David gave him a feeble smile before closing the door. Patrick heard the chain slide into its place and then the deadbolt locking.

Completely closed off.

Now was the second hardest part.

He walked to the end of the motel and stopped just under the awning.

“Rachel,” he said seriously.

She got up from the table without a word and joined him on the sidewalk.

“Your room.”

She nodded and took him down to the opposite end of the motel, far away from any of the Roses.

Once the door shut behind her, Rachel finally spoke.

“Patrick, what is going on?”

Patrick sighed deeply.

Was she really so oblivious?

“David is my boyfriend.”

“What?”

“I haven’t been answering your texts or calls because I’m with David.”

The more he spoke, the lighter the weight on his shoulders felt.

“But we’re engaged—”

Patrick laughed.

“No, we’re not,” he said firmly. “I broke up with you for good six months ago. I moved out. I moved here. I got a new job. I started a new business. I haven’t talked to you in any of those six months.”

Rachel folded her arms. She was still trying to process everything Patrick was saying.

“But I’ve been trying to reach out to you. I gave you space and—”

“It’s not for you to decide when I’m done needing space,” he said, offended. “I’ve come back to you because you’ve begged me. And each time I did because I didn’t have anything else. I didn’t know I could have anything else. I was going through the motions and doing what everyone else wanted for me.

“David is who I want,” he stated resolutely. “I love you, Rachel. I always will."

“And I love you, Patrick,” Rachel said kindly.

“But this, between us, isn’t what either of us want. And you deserve someone who isn’t just settling for you,” Patrick said, finally admitting to himself what he had been trying to do with her all along. “You deserve better than this.”

Rachel was silent. She kept glancing around the room, avoiding his gaze, very obviously trying not to cry.

“So, this is really it,” she finally said.

“It is.”

She sniffed loudly.

“Well,” she said. “I guess I should give this back to you.” She dug in her pocket, pulled out her worn engagement ring, and dropped it in his palm. His fingers curled around the warm metal and stones.

It was really official.

They stood there awkwardly. Patrick was unsure of what else to say to her. He felt she deserved more words from him given how long they’d been playing this unhealthy game.

She looked up at him and gave him a tight grin.

“I hope things get better for you and David,” she said earnestly. “I’m glad you’re happy.”

And now it was his turn to start crying.

“Thank you,” he replied. “And I hope you find someone who deserves you. You’d make any man happy.”

“Except you,” Rachel corrected him. They both laughed.

“Yeah, I’ve got my own man to make happy,” he said with a wistful smile.

Rachel teetered on her toes.

“Can I give you a hug?” she asked.

“Yes,” he smiled.

She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest. It felt so strange to be hugging her even though he’d done it thousands of times before.

It made him miss David more. 

He pulled back and wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Well, I’m going to go,” he said, meandering toward the door. “Give you some space.”

She laughed.

“Goodbye, Patrick.”

“Goodbye, Rachel.”

With that, he left her motel room.

He peered in the direction of the barbeque. He wanted to go back there and be with the people he considered family, but he wouldn’t be able to handle knowing David doesn’t want to be out there with them.

Instead, he fired off a quick text to Stevie, letting her know he was leaving and that they'll talk later.

He needed to get home to cry, then figure out how he was going to get David back.

Chapter Text

10:10am: I’m not coming in today.
10:10am: I understand.

10:02am: I won’t be in today.
10:03am: I understand.

1:14pm: Stevie invited me to a spa weekend.
1:14pm: That sounds like a great idea.
1:15pm: You think I should go?
1:15pm: I could come in and work tomorrow if you want it off.
1:15pm: No, you should go.
1:17pm: You deserve it.
1:17pm: Okay. Thank you.

3:02pm: You’ll never believe this: the Groupon is for a honeymoon suite.
3:02pm: What?!
3:02pm: Yes! People buy their honeymoons on Groupon!
3:03pm: So now we have to pretend we’re newlyweds or else there’s no free booze.
3:03pm: Mazel tov.
3:04pm: What spa is it?
3:04pm: Crystal Elms Lodge & Spa in Elmdale
3:05pm: So did she take your last name or did you take hers?
3:05pm: I think we both know I certainly did not take hers.
3:05pm: David Budd?
3:05pm: Gross.

11:48pm: The bottle of wine was a nice touch.
11:49pm: I wanted to celebrate the happy couple.
11:49pm: Not too happy. We're getting an annulment. Already gave her back the ring.
11:49pm: I think I can do better.
11:49pm: I agree.
11:49pm: She's also sleeping in the tub, but that's for an entirely unrelated reason.
11:51pm: Goodnight, David.
11:51pm: Goodnight, Patrick.

Chapter Text

The week following the barbeque was utter torture.

David asked for space. Patrick gave him space. He didn’t see David for days.

They were texting, of which Patrick was grateful. He wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he couldn’t at least talk to the man who had stolen his heart. It wasn’t anything deep or meaningful, but enough that David still weighed heavy on Patrick’s mind every second of every day.

Texts only went so far. They couldn’t adequately express just how sorry Patrick was, or how much the guilt of lying to David was eating him up. He wanted to smooth things over, go back to how things were before Rachel showed up and upended their lives. He made sure he wouldn’t initiate the conversations, waiting for David to send one to him.

Which, of course, he did after he received every gift Patrick sent him.

If he couldn’t tell David how much he meant to him, he could show him through gifts.

Over the past four months, Patrick had grown accustomed to the kinds of things David enjoyed. David knew neither of them could afford the luxuries he had had prior to moving to Schitt’s Creek, but Patrick could afford things that were still above the town’s standards. Thanks to the internet, Patrick was easily able to purchase chocolates, flowers, candles, cologne, wine… He even bought David a $275 bracelet from Barney’s because it didn’t matter what he had in his savings if he couldn’t spend it on the person he loved.

It was after that gift that he got the text.

6:35pm: Tomorrow morning. We should talk.

Patrick’s heart soared. David was ready to see him. He had high hopes that it was going to be reconciliation and they were going to get back together. All the gifts and texts had worked!

Gifts and texts.

He hadn’t given David space at all.

He did exactly what he and Rachel used to do which was essentially begging the other person to come back, luring them with gifts. Everything about his relationship with David was supposed to be breaking that cycle and those patterns but he’d fallen right back into his old habits.

What was supposed to be a fantastic day, what with seeing David in person for the first time in a week, Patrick was instead riddled with guilt. He hadn’t respected David’s wishes and he needed to do that to make things right. Being apart from David for longer – if not indefinitely – was surely going to kill him, but it had to be done.

He got to the store at the usual time, knowing David wouldn’t be there until later. Nothing over the last few days had completely gotten Patrick’s mind off of him. It was next to impossible, given the entire store bled with the essence of David Rose. He did what he could to pass the time by restocking the shelves that had been neglected when he went on his online shopping binges. It didn’t matter. Everything he did made the guilty feeling in his stomach worse.

As he was arranging some items on the shelves, he heard the door open.

David.

Patrick’s heart leapt into his throat. He wanted him so much. Wanted to hold him, kiss him, love him, but he needed to not be so desperate.

“Hi,” David said softly as he dropped his bag near the door.

“Hi,” Patrick echoed.

David sighs heavily.

Here it was.

“So, after some time alone,” David began slowly as he approached him. His tone was too kind. It was too calm. He was going to passive-aggressively chastise Patrick, he could tell. “I just wanted to come here and say that I—”

“David, I need to apologize to you,” Patrick interrupted. He needed to get in all that he wanted to say before David could make him hurt more. “I was going to sleep last night, and I realized I have not been respectful of your space. All of the texts and the gifts. Uh, I was upset. And it was reactionary. And I thought I was doing the right thing, but really all I was doing was smothering you when you asked for space. And that’s not right.”

David looked confused.

“Okay,” he said. “‘Smothering’ is a bit intense—”

“It was self-serving, and it was desperate. And I’m… I’m embarrassed.” The stone in Patrick’s stomach sank even lower.

“Okay, there’s no need to feel embarrassed—”

“Well, I am,” he said. David was probably just trying to soften the blow for when he broke up with him. And if Patrick agrees with him outright, then he doesn’t have to hear the motel conversation ringing in his ears. “I’ve just been trying to deal with everything here with the store and I think you’re right. It’s probably better if we just focus on the business and not try to push anything.”

He went into this whole relationship with David with ulterior motives. He always wanted to be more with David than just business partners. They worked really well together and then Patrick had to go and rush them into a romantic relationship so quickly when that was clearly not what David wanted in the first place.

“I’m not sure I said that,” David replied, perplexed.

Patrick could read between the lines.

“You didn’t have to,” he said. “In fact, by saying nothing at all, you spoke volumes.”

David glanced around. Patrick guessed he wasn’t expecting him to be on the same page right off the bat.

“Okay,” David said uncomfortably. “So, you would like to focus on the store, then.”

It was all hitting Patrick really hard. He wanted David more than anyone on Earth and he had to step away.

God, he thought he had cried enough in the last week. The least that could happen is that he could get out of this conversation with some dignity.

“I think that’s probably a good idea,” Patrick said, holding back the tears. “But hey, it’s good to have you back.”

He could at least get a parting hug before the indefinite hiatus of their relationship.

“Oh! Mm,” David said as Patrick hugged him. “Okay, mhm.”

David was stiff and didn’t hug him like they used to. Guess that wasn’t what David wanted at all.

Patrick pulled back and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He tried to look anywhere but David’s face.

“So, uh…” Patrick said dumbly before going back to the wall without another word. He needed to not look at David for a while. The longer he did, the more the tears threatened to come. He was at work. They had customers. He needed to show David that he wasn’t clingy or needy or any of those other desperate words.

He heard David grab his bag and put it in the back room.

It was going to be a really, really long day.

The downside to having an ex in a small town was that there was nowhere for Patrick to go to avoid David. He worked with him. His friends were David’s friends.

So, he retreated into himself, tried to tamper down his feelings every time he looked up and saw him. Customers would come in and Patrick would swoop in and take care of them before David could say anything because it hurt to listen to David passionately explaining the products.

He couldn’t speak to him. He couldn’t stand near him. Hearing his voice or smelling his cologne or feeling the heat from his body was so triggering.

David reached across him for something and Patrick saw the bracelet. The knife in his gut twisted.

Perhaps it came off as rude when Patrick was curt or would intentionally ignore David, but it was for self-preservation. The longer he did it, the easier it would be in the long run, right? He couldn’t pick up and leave like he’d done to Rachel so many times before. He co-owned a business and was deeply invested in the town, not to mention how head over heels he was for his business partner.

Leaving wasn’t an option. Dissociating, however, was.

For the rest of the morning, Patrick had to act like David wasn’t there.

He grabbed a box of hand cream to restock the table and even in his best efforts, he felt David walk over and stand right next to him. Patrick did his best not to look at David by staring off into some middle distance and not focusing on anything but the task at hand. But then he felt David’s hand land on top of his in the box, grabbing it lightly, then batting it away.

Patrick set the hand cream down on the table. This was too much.

“You know what?” he said. “I’m probably good to finish this up—”

“Okay—”

“—before we go for lunch.”

Patrick stared at the table, hoping David would walk away and he could breath. Instead, he felt David staring at him. He looked up.

“What?” he asked brusquely.

“I don’t know! You tell me,” David replied.

“I just did,” he said. “I’m happy to finish doing the creams. I don’t think it’s a two-person job.”

“Okay, so you’re just gonna stay here and not have lunch then, or are we going in shifts?” David asked. He was clearly annoyed by Patrick’s answers.

“I don’t know, David. I’m just trying to be professional here, okay? I think this is gonna take a minute to get used to.” This was killing him.

“I don’t want to get used to this!” David exclaimed.

…what?

“I don’t want to pretend like we’re coworkers,” David continued.

“We are coworkers,” Patrick corrected him.

“Okay,” he said dismissively. “I just liked it better when we were more than that.”

David had effectively broken up with him that morning and literally three hours later he’s changed his mind?

“David, I’m just trying to go off of what you wanted!” Patrick said, obviously frustrated by what he was hearing.

“You wouldn’t let me finish telling you what I wanted!” David argued. “I was ready to get back together days ago!”

It took a second for David’s words to fully register in Patrick’s brain.

What?!

“Yes!”

“Then why didn’t we?!”

David was trying to find the words.

“I’ve never been in this situation before,” he explained. “Where someone’s been so nice to me… And so generous…” His face was one of someone who had just been caught. Probably because he was.

Patrick was in shock.

“I’m sorry, were you holding back on talking to me because you were getting gifts?” Patrick asked incredulously.

“…I was very upset and confused,” he said. “So, upset, that I barely finished the chocolates.”

Patrick could see the giddiness he felt reflected in David’s face as he tried not to smile. There was this joyous relief in knowing they were falling back into business as usual.

That was not to say David was absolved of Patrick’s frustration.

“David, this wasn’t meant to be some advent calendar of apologies,” Patrick clarified. “It was like an olive branch to get you to talk to me.” It certainly explained why David not only texted him after he received one of the gifts, but also more after the gifts from the last couple days.

“I guess, I just didn’t know how many olive branches you were planning on extending,” David said.

“Ideally, one.”

“Well, now I know.”

“Yeah, and now I know, that while I was torturing myself, you were sitting at home, opening gifts,” Patrick said. He reached out and touched David’s wrist. “I see you like the bracelet.”

“I love the bracelet. Thank you,” David said quietly, then hopefully, “Um… does this mean that we are back together?” He walked his fingers up Patrick’s chest to his shoulders.

The answer was always yes, but this was Patrick’s time to be petty.

“You know what?” Patrick said. “I feel like now maybe I deserve an olive branch or two?”

David pulled his hands back.

“Okay, I understand that,” he said before reaching back to touch Patrick’s shirt collar. “What if I gave you back some of the olive branches that you gave to me?”

Just when Patrick thought David couldn’t say anything more incredible.

“I was lying about the chocolates,” David added. “I ate them all. But I’m sure there are some flowers that are still alive.”

Patrick had to take a moment to process all of this. He bent down and leaned his elbow on the table. He spent the last week fearing David would break up with him permanently and had prepared for the extremely painful heartbreak to follow. There was so much relief in knowing that wasn’t a possibility. David wanted to be with him.

But David used him. He was happy to give David gifts, but not when it came at the expense of his own sanity. David was trying to see what he could get out of Patrick’s guilt, which, okay, Patrick could understand, but to do it longer than necessary was selfish.

Yet it wasn’t enough for Patrick to say no to David. Sure, he was selfish sometimes, but he also made Patrick feel alive with how he was exactly himself. David never tried to be different for anyone else. Why would Patrick have expected anything different? This was the most David Rose way of getting back with him and it’s why Patrick loved him so much.

Buuuuut David still needed to learn a lesson.

“You know what I’m gonna do?” Patrick said as he stood up and took David’s face in his hands.

“Mhm?” David’s eyes were alight with joy. It would be so easy to kiss him right now.

“I’m gonna go to lunch and you’re gonna sit here and think about what you’ve done,” he told him. His voice was low and sure. “Okay?”

“Okay.”

Patrick couldn’t tell if David didn’t take him seriously or if he was just happy to be back together. Either way, he patted David on the shoulder and headed toward the door for lunch.

“Um, while you’re at lunch, can you get me some lunch?” David called after him.

Really?

“Unbelievable,” was all Patrick said before he closed the door behind him, leaving David alone in the store.

The fresh air was perfect as he walked across the intersection to Café Tropical. He felt his guilt slip away with every step he took. It was replaced by a weird concoction of joy and anger. The only sentence that could accurately describe how Patrick was feeling was, ‘I’m mad at my boyfriend.’

There was no world where they wouldn’t take each other back. Patrick’s fear was ridiculous. He had been comparing his experience with Rachel to his experience with David. The whole reason he was even dating David was because he wanted something different, and what he got was the polar opposite of what he had.

“Oh, hey, Patrick,” Twyla said as he entered the café. It was a relatively late lunch, yet the restaurant was nearly full. “Take-out or table for two?”

“Counter seat for one, actually,” he said. She gave him an interested look before pulling a menu from the box. They very rarely ate in for lunch and never alone.

“Right over here, then.” She led him to a counter seat near the back. “What’s going on?”

Patrick folded his hands on the countertop.

“Well, David and I are back together,” he said, slightly annoyed.

“You don’t sound happy about that,” she noted.

“Well, I would be happier if I hadn’t discovered we could have been together days earlier, but someone wanted to see what kind of gifts he’d get.” Twyla grimaced.

“Yikes,” she said. “I’ve been there. It is not great. Um, I can give you a slice of carrot cake on the house? Maybe to ease the pain?”

“That sounds perfect,” Patrick replied. “But can you box it up? I want to eat it in front of him later.”

“Great idea.” She gave him a thumbs-up. “The usual?”

“Yes, please.”

“Coming right up.”

Patrick settled on his stool, glancing around at the other folks in the café. It felt so strange to be sitting there without David. They had had many date nights that started here, only to end at the drive-in, making out in the backseat of Patrick’s car. The booth where they had their first date would always hold a special place in his heart. It was a first for so many reasons, mostly because it was the first time Patrick truly said yes to himself, that this was who he was.

He was a man who was attracted to men – specifically, he was attracted to a tall, bushy-browed Jewish man who had an opinion on everything and wore leather sweaters in the dead of summer, who was endlessly creative in both art and ways to surprise him, who was afraid to show his heart to others but when he did, one would discover it was kind and compassionate and beautiful.

“Here you go,” Twyla said, breaking Patrick from his reverie. She slid his salad across the counter with a set of silverware and a small to-go container. “Here’s that slice of carrot cake. Is there anything else I can get you?”

Patrick sighed contentedly.

“Can I also get David’s usual to go?” he asked. He considered asking Twyla to put it on David’s tab, but it didn’t seem fair to make David pay for food he didn’t know he was getting. If David offered to pay him back, that was another story.

Twyla smiled. “Of course.”

She left him alone at the end of the counter where he took a long, luxurious lunch. He nabbed a forgotten newspaper from a couple seats down. It was really lovely to read about the news in ink on paper as opposed to his phone, which was buzzing with texts from David asking when he was going to be back.

Once he had read the paper front to back, Patrick felt it was finally time to leave. He paid, and Twyla gave him a bag with both David’s lunch and the carrot cake in it. It was strange to be returning to work at this point. At no stage in his life had Patrick ever taken an hour for lunch. But, seeing as he was teaching David a lesson, it was worth it.

Patrick returned to the store to find David ringing out a customer. Their eyes met, and David smiled. It was one of those smiles that was only reserved for him and it made Patrick thank God for reconciliation, as rocky as it was.

The customer left, and Patrick replaced them at the counter. He put the food between them.

“What is this?” David said as Patrick unloaded the boxes.

“Your lunch,” Patrick answered. David gazed fondly at him.

“Thank you.” He pointed to the smaller box. “What’s in there?”

“This,” he said, opening the box, “is sympathy cake. Twyla felt bad that my boyfriend used my guilt to get presents.”

He picked up the plastic fork from the bag and took a huge bite of cake. The carrot cake wasn’t his favorite, yet he closed his eyes and moaned in pleasure because he knew how much David loved the carrot cake and Patrick was feeling petty. When he opened his eyes, he saw David staring at him with a defeated look in his eyes.

“You know what? I deserved that,” David said. Patrick gave him a satisfied grin. Good. He got the idea.

Patrick polished off the entire slice of cake without another word from David.

The rest of the day went by fairly normally. There wasn’t as much touching or flirty banter, but it was certainly better than it was in the morning.

All day Patrick wondered what David’s olive branch would be, what he would gift him with. David seemed to have decided based on the knowing grins he would give Patrick from across the store. It both excited and unnerved him. His biggest fear was that it wouldn’t at all be comparable to what he’d given David and that David was getting excited over nothing.

Finally, it was time to close the store for the day. David had yet to deliver on his olive branch, though he was very helpful all day. He offered to do far more than he usually did which was a lovely change. (Certainly something Patrick would love as a permanent change.)

Patrick locked the door and flipped the front door sign over to ‘closed’. He turned around to see David lingering by the shelves.

“Okay, David,” Patrick said evenly. “Well, I’m gonna go have dinner if you wanted to join me. And pay for it. That would be a start.” He knew David was good for it and he definitely owed him. It would be a small olive branch he was happy to receive.

David picked up one of their wooden chairs against the wall and placed it in the middle of the aisle, so it was facing the rear of the store.

“You know, maybe I could do that,” David replied. He walked toward the back of the store while gesturing for Patrick to sit. “I just think I have something to do first. So…”

“What is this?” Patrick asked. He was genuinely confused as to what was happening. What was David doing? Regardless, he apprehensively took a seat.

David spun around.

“Consider this my olive branch.”

He turned back to where they kept the iPod with the store’s music and bent down, presumably to change something. Patrick watched him nervously.

The store was silent, then the sound of electric piano filled the room.

Patrick drew in a breath.

He knew this song.

David turned back around and slowly walked toward Patrick, shimmying his shoulder so slightly to the beat.

The lyrics were about to start.

There was cause for concern. As Patrick had discovered at Asbestos Fest, David was not the best singer. He cared about David, he really did, but was he really going to sing?

Then he saw David’s lips move but Tina’s voice flowing through the speakers.

I call you when I need you, my heart's on fire

He looked ridiculous, lip-syncing and dancing, but it was the most wonderful thing Patrick had ever seen.

David got low, still moving his shoulders and crept closer to Patrick.

You come to me, come to me wild and wired

Patrick’s heart skipped a beat as David’s face came near his. He closed his eyes in anticipation of a kiss… that didn’t happen. Instead, he deflected and stood up, still dancing. Patrick couldn’t help but smile. What a tease.

Oh, you come to me
Give me everything I need

David swept around behind the chair, gently touching Patrick’s back as he did, before coming back in front of him. It all felt slightly choreographed, but Patrick knew there was no way David would have come up with this while he was at lunch.

Then he remembered what David said in the car those months ago.

“I love this song. I would blast it full volume and my mom would say she could hear it from the other side of the house.”

He could suddenly see teenage David, doing this exact choreography alone in his bedroom. It was so pure and raw.

Give me a life time of promises and a world of dreams
Speak the language of love like you know what it means

“I always wished I had someone who made me feel the way she did during that performance.”

This was David at his most vulnerable. He was letting Patrick really see him.

Mm, and it can't be wrong, take my heart and make it strong, babe

And if Patrick was seeing him dance like this, that meant anyone walking past could. He quickly glanced back at the windows, checking for passersby.

“You know people can see you, right?” he asked playfully.

You're simply the best

David didn’t care. He was doing this for Patrick and didn’t care who knew how he made him feel.

Better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I ever met

The chorus picked up and David’s dancing grew more frenetic. He danced around Patrick like they were the only two people in the world.

I'm stuck on your heart, I hang on every word you say

Patrick laughed.

Tear us apart, baby, I would rather be dead

He loved him.

Each time you leave me I start losing control
You're walking away with my heart and my soul

He loved David so much.

Then David got down on his knees in front of Patrick, holding his knees, lip-syncing so passionately.

Oh, baby, don’t let go!

This was the best olive branch he could’ve asked for.

Patrick pumped his fists in the air as the sax solo began. David stood up and held out a hand. He took it, joining David on his makeshift dance floor. They danced independently of each other, watching the other with so much joy.

As the sax solo ended and Tina began singing again, David put a hand on Patrick’s waist and drew him in. He took his other hand and lovingly cradled it against his chest, leading Patrick in the slow dance he wished for when he was in high school.

You're simply the best, better than all the rest

Teenage Patrick was swooning.

Better than anyone, anyone I ever met

Neither of them could stop smiling.

I'm stuck on your heart, I hang on every word you say

David stopped lip-syncing in favor of resting his forehead against Patrick’s. Their noses brushed against one another’s, and Patrick could feel his heart racing.

Tear us apart, baby, I would rather be dead

And then David kissed him so sweetly, so tenderly, that it took Patrick’s breath away.

They stayed like that, gently swaying and kissing, until the song faded out and the next 80s slow jam began.

David drew back to rest his forehead against Patrick’s, and Patrick was finally able to breathe. He kept his eyes closed as he tried to take everything in. He was dancing to Tina Turner with his boyfriend in the store they co-owned. Tears stung at the corners of his eyes. He couldn’t stop smiling.

“Do you accept my olive branch?” David asked softly.

“I do,” Patrick answered. There was no world in which he would say no. He never wanted to leave this moment, wrapped up with David.

David hummed contentedly before leaning in and kissing Patrick again, just as he did before.

“I have an idea,” David said. “Instead of going to the café, we order some food for delivery. On me.” Patrick chuckled.

“Perfect. I wasn’t ready to leave yet anyway,” Patrick replied. He kissed David again, just because he could.

Chapter Text

Patrick was so happy. Things had been really good since David’s olive branch. Everything had reverted back to normal, possibly even better. David started showing up before the store opened which gave birth to a new morning routine: David would greet Patrick with a long, tender kiss that made his heart want to burst, then they would walk hand-in-hand to the café to pick up their coffees. Once they were back at the store, there’d be more light flirting and kissing before they finally flipped over the sign.

After easily the worst week of his life, Patrick was never letting a moment pass where he could be showing David how much he loved him. Thankfully, David was on the same page.

So, it was understandable when Patrick got the notification the shipment of organic honey was delayed until the next morning, he was disappointed. They had been completely out for a week since the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it rained almost every day. The honey had a high mark-up and with folks getting sick from the weather, it was in high demand. With great reluctance, he had to break their new routine and pick it up from the post office in Elmdale or it would be another day of waiting.

He arrived back at the store not too long after opening – there was a line at the post office thanks to the weather delays – and David was already on the phone with someone.

“Okay, and can that be delivered by tonight?” David said into the phone. “Okay, perfect. Thank you very much.” He hung up the phone as Patrick approached, putting the box down on the counter.

“What’s going on?” he asked before taking in David’s sweater. ‘Wild Aloof Rebel’ were certainly three words to describe David.

“Well, um, Jocelyn came in here this morning looking like Adam Sandler on a red carpet. Poor thing is planning her own baby shower,” he explained. “So, I volunteered to help.”

Patrick was… surprised. And impressed. But mostly surprised. He wondered what David’s ulterior motive was. He’s not one to just offer to help without some sort of favor in return, especially organizing a baby shower of all things.

“Wow. That’s very generous of you,” he said as he stepped away from the counter.

“Yeah. Thought it would be a good opportunity to promote the store,” David said. It was not the answer Patrick was expecting. “So, Heather’s supplying some of her cheeses – not at cost, but she’s giving us a deal. And I thought we could bring some wine from the store and Colleen’s express-shipping a branzino, so…”

Heather’s cheeses? Wine? Branzino?

“It’s sounding a bit… expensive, David.”

“Well, we haven’t talked budget yet, but I’m assuming that Jocelyn’s wanting to spend some money on her baby shower.”

Oh no. David didn’t know.

“I’m assuming that Jocelyn’s planning on spending no money on her baby shower,” Patrick corrected him.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, technically, the person who throws the baby shower pays for the shower.”

“Well, that wasn’t part of the agreement.” David clearly felt duped.

“What did you say to her?”

“I told her I’d take care of it.”

“Ah.”

There it was. For a man who attended and loved any sort of party, Patrick was surprised David didn’t know how baby showers worked. Then again, it was highly unlikely anyone in David’s previous circle of friends would have asked him to organize their baby shower.

“She basically forced me into it!” David said indignantly. “This isn’t even her first baby!”

“Oh, so it’s more of a ‘sprinkle’, then.”

“What the hell is a ‘sprinkle’?”

“It’s like a shower, but for your second kid,” he explained. “It’s not a full shower. It’s like a… sprinkle.”

Patrick had a cousin who had a baby sprinkle just a year or so ago. It was a subdued affair, given her first child was only 18 months old and they already had a lot of the necessary baby stuff. Of course, people brought new toys and new clothes and diapers – oh so many diapers. Much like a drizzle to a downpour, the baby sprinkle didn’t have the same panache as the first shower.

“That is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard,” David said bluntly. Patrick had to agree, but he couldn’t get on board with David’s plans for Jocelyn regardless of what they were calling it.

“Uh, also booze and fish? Not ideal for a pregnant woman.”

“Well, she’s one person,” David defended. “And everyone knows you don’t plan a whole party around one person.”

Okay, now David was stretching it.

“Maybe you do if the party is for her…?” Patrick said quizzically.

“Says who?”

Patrick raised his eyebrows in incredulity. David was being this obtuse because he wasn’t getting his way. That needed to stop.

“Fine!” he relented. “Worst case scenario: she grazes at the soft cheese station.”

His boyfriend was truly incredible sometimes.

“Are you sure that she can eat that?” Patrick asked as he picked up the box of honey and went to the back of the store to shelve the product.

“This is why I hate babies,” David called after him. Patrick did wonder something, though.

“Do you ever want kids someday?” Patrick asked. He was a little nervous for the answer. He had spent the last ten years discussing children with Rachel and so it became a very certain thing he wanted for his life. Nothing insane, but the traditional 2.5 sounded perfect. Two on purpose, three as a happy accident.

“Not really,” he said. “I’d only want them when they’re like, 6 years old. Skip all the baby stuff.”

“You’re describing adoption, David.”

“No, I know,” he said. “I’d still want them to be related to me. Blame it on the Jewish thing.”

Patrick was confused; it showed on his face.

“Okay, here’s the thing,” David continued. “Making the baby sounds like a lot of fun. Very into that. And I guess pregnant women have this certain glow about them that is beautiful or whatever. But then I’d want to fast-forward through all the poopy diapers and screaming and lack of sleep and have them be 6 years old, so I don’t have to deal with any of that… stuff.”

“…you know that’s not a thing, right?” Patrick asked.

“Which is why it’s just easier to say no, I don’t want kids.”

“Ah.”

Even though he had assumed correctly that David didn’t want kids, it wasn’t easy to hear it confirmed.

“Do you want kids?” David asked carefully as if he already knew Patrick’s answer.

“Um, yeah, I do,” he replied. He swallowed the lump in his throat. He couldn’t look at him. All this baby talk was making him picture a mini-David running around the store, who Patrick could teach baseball and they could mold into a fearless individual.

David was silent for a moment, then said, “Well, maybe we can revisit this conversation in a few years.”

Patrick looked back over at David. He was chewing on his lip and slightly slouched, which were signs that he was serious, albeit unsure about what he just said. Patrick smiled.

“I’d like that.”

David smiled softly.

“Great,” he replied before turning back to his paperwork on the counter. “Now, what the fuck are we going to do at this baby shower—”

“Sprinkle.”

“We are not calling it that.”


 

Patrick was tired. They hadn’t even made it to Jocelyn’s yet and his reserves for David’s party planning were nearly depleted. He loved David, he really did, but when he was in panic mode, it was nearly impossible to keep him calm. Patrick had become really good at calming him (he learned a lot of great tricks from Stevie) and yet, no amount of kissing or shoulder massages could release the tension he was carrying. The best he could do at this point was to just be there for him.

Before heading over to Jocelyn’s with all the shower supplies, David insisted on stopping at home and changing his clothes. Patrick dutifully waited in the car. When David emerged in what appeared to be a jumpsuit, he wasn’t sure if this was the best look for a baby shower.

“You know you don’t have to dress up like a baby for a baby shower, right?” Patrick asked him sarcastically as he sat down in the car.

“Okay, this is Givenchy, and I’ve literally had no other situation where this was remotely appropriate,” he said.

“And this is that situation?”

David gave him a long hard stare in full knowledge Patrick was right. His eyes flicked down briefly to Patrick’s sweater, then back up.

“I want to make a comment on your outfit, but I really do love that sweater on you,” David said in a critical tone.

Patrick patted David’s thigh and smiled.

“I know.”


 

As they pulled into the Schitt family driveway, Jocelyn opened the door and waved for them to come in. Patrick grabbed the box of supplies from the backseat and followed David into the house.

The house was precisely what one would expect from Roland and Jocelyn: a lot of wood paneling, browns and oranges, and many, many tchotchkes. On top of that, the Schitts had apparently started on baby shower decorations with crepe streamers and a large banner that read ‘It’s a Boy!’. Patrick made a beeline for the kitchen counter to set the box down.

“Welcome, boys!” Jocelyn said as she greeted them from the living room. “I can’t thank you enough for jumping in like this.”

“Oh, it’s our pleasure,” Patrick said with a smile.

“Okay,” David said as he surveyed the space. “Um, so what’s going on here?”

“I thought I would do what I could to get a jumpstart on the decorations,” she explained cheerfully.

“Here’s the thing, Jocelyn,” David began. Judging by his tone, Patrick knew Jocelyn would probably come to regret asking David. He made his way down to the pair and placed a kind hand on David’s shoulder. “When you asked me to throw this event, you were essentially handing over creative control. Considering our name’s going to be all over this, I think it’s important to streamline the aesthetic direction we’re taking for tonight.” David was being as kind as he could be, and yet Jocelyn looked deflated.

“Well, I guess I could move some of the balloons…” she said.

“That could be good. We could move those maybe to the garbage?” David said, looking to Patrick. “We’re also going to need to dropcloth the interiors.”

Patrick had to keep reminding himself that this was David who was asked to host the event and he was there just as an extra set of hands and David’s anxiety sponge.

The front door swung open and in bounded Roland, carrying what was possibly the most horrifying thing Patrick had ever seen in his life.

“Okay, guys! You ready? Where do you want me to hang the piñata?” Roland asked excitedly.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick finally piped up. “Is that supposed to be a baby?”

Yeah. Horrifying.

“Yeah! It’s pretty realistic, isn’t it? I got it at the dollar store in Elmdale,” he explained. “I didn’t even have to pay for it. They just gave it to me.” Jocelyn looked so pleased at her husband’s savvy.

“Yeah, don’t think we can smash a baby with a stick tonight,” David remarked bluntly.

“But… it’s not a real baby, Dave,” Roland said as if what David said was the most ridiculous part of this conversation.

“The fact you got it from the dollar store does make me wary of what’s going to fall out of it, though?” David said. He had a point.

“Don’t worry, Rolly,” Jocelyn said with a smile. “We’re still going to play the diaper game.”

David shot a look back at Patrick.

“Ah, good!” Roland said.

David raised his hand.

“Hi! What’s the diaper game?”

“Oh my gosh! It is so fun!” Jocelyn told him. “We played it at Mutt’s baby shower.”

“Basically,” Roland started. “You melt different chocolate bars into different diapers and then people take turns guessing what kind—”

Patrick thought he was going to be sick.

“Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there,” David interrupted. “I will literally do anything for us to not play that game.”

“Well, I’m getting nervous, because we’re going to need some sort of entertainment, David,” Jocelyn said, clearly getting frustrated by David’s constant dismissals.

“Well, then I will come up with some games that don’t involve sniffing a diaper,” David assured her.

“You don’t just sniff it,” Roland corrected him.

“No, you don’t,” Jocelyn added.

“Oh my god.” David walked away, completely stunned by the conversation he just had. Roland and Jocelyn had somehow successfully made everything worse than it already was. In that moment, Patrick resolved that he was never leaving David’s side for fear he would say yes to planning any parties for literally anyone else.

The best course of action would be to get Jocelyn and Roland to leave the room, so David could panic for an audience of one.

“Hey, Jocelyn,” Patrick said with a charming smile, stepping in the fill the spot David left. “Why don’t you get ready, get changed, and we’ll take good care of the place?” If there was anything Patrick had learned in working with David for so many months, is that he was skilled at smoothing out David’s edges and making things better for customers and in this case, the mayor’s pregnant wife.

“I am ready,” Jocelyn said, completely serious.

Ah, shit.

Patrick took a second to regroup. That was not at all what he anticipated given what she was wearing and how her hair looked. His standards for appearance must have risen after hanging around the Roses so much.

“And you look great,” he replied, his smile faltering. “Do you want to have a seat? Relax?”

“Sure, I guess.”

Patrick followed her over to the couch where she sat down with an ‘oof’. Meanwhile, David surveyed the room.

“Okay, is this vase movable?” he asked Roland who was still holding that hideous piñata.

“Uh, no, that there is grandpa’s ashes,” he replied, almost mildly offended at the inquiry. “And no, you can not move it. It’s bolted down. There’s been a lot of urn thefts lately.” The look on David’s face was indicative of how little David liked that answer. “I’ll tell you what. I will get my ratchet and see what I can do for you, okay? You hold baby— go ahead.”

Roland passed the horrifying piñata to David who groaned as he had to become up close and personal with the malformed papier mache. Roland disappeared to another part of the house and David was left to wander helplessly, his sanity barely hanging on by a thread. Patrick wanted to help him, but honestly? He had no idea how.

“Was this a mistake?” Jocelyn asked woefully from the couch.

“Oh, probably,” he said. His tiredness had officially worn away at his filter. “But we’re here now.”

“Yup,” she said, staring vacantly into the room.

David paced the room, still carrying the piñata.

“Where do I put this fucking thing?” he asked himself loudly. Patrick met David halfway to the kitchen. He gingerly put his hand on David’s elbow, stopping him.

“David, why don’t I take this from you and find a place for it?” he asked as he took the piñata by its string.

“I don’t think you have enough time before the party to drive that thing down to the river,” David said.

“I was going to put it in the trunk of my car, so we can destroy it later.”

“Fire and fury, exactly. Thank you.” David gave him a quick peck on the lips before Patrick exited out the front door. It was rare that Patrick was on the same page as David when it came to quaint things, but the piñata could only be destroyed through extreme measures. It’d be a great stress-reliever for after the party. That is, if they survive the party.


 

The Schitts had invited what felt like every person who ever resided in Schitt’s Creek. For being a small town, there were a lot of faces Patrick didn’t recognize. They were more than likely folks Roland met at the Elmdale Applebee’s and just invited them within a five-minute conversation. It was entirely possible.

David was a great host. Not that Patrick was surprised, but he mingled with the other party guests well, directing them to where the bathroom was, answering innocuous questions for Jocelyn, and generally checking in with everyone. He definitely got that gene from his mother, who Patrick was chatting with in the corner.

“So, you put it in the trunk of your car?” Moira asked.

“Yup,” Patrick said before taking a swill of beer. “It’s safest for everyone if it stays there and no one else sees it.”

“Fair enough. John once gave me a gift like that. But it couldn’t breathe in the trunk, so I had to let it out a certain point.”

Patrick didn’t want to ask what that thing was, nor did he have a chance to before David started speaking.

“Okay, now this game is called ‘Sleepy Mommy’,” he said loudly. “Jocelyn’s sitting on the couch. She’s our Sleepy Mommy. Now, Mommy’s had a very hard day with baby and needs a bit of a break. And that’s where we come in.” He takes a white candy out of the dish in his hand. “We’re going to each take turns popping pills into Mommy’s mouth. Now, unfortunately these are breath mints. We couldn’t afford actual benzos, but the person who does get the most tranqs into Mommy’s mouth will walk away with whatever’s left of the soft cheese station.”

The whole room was atwitter, excited about the potential prize available to them. Patrick knew it was mostly so they didn’t have to take all that cheese home. It wasn’t bad cheese. There was just only so much brie one person could consume before turning into brie themselves.

Johnny stepped up.

“I’ll go.”

“Okay!” David said as he passed Johnny the bowl. He made a beeline to stand with Patrick and Moira in the corner. He looked pleased, and he should be. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, including Jocelyn who had only left her spot on the couch to use the bathroom a couple times.

“Boy, these have a bit more weight to them than the usual pills,” Johnny said, holding a mint in his hand. Roland joined him, taking a mint out of the bowl too.

“Well, you know, Johnny, that weight might actually work in your favor if you take into consideration the humidity in here,” he said.

“Wow, well, thank you, Roland.” Mr. Rose never seemed thrilled when Roland was around.

“Just relax.”

Jocelyn opened her mouth. Johnny tossed the first mint and it hit Jocelyn’s teeth with a loud click.

“Why does this game feel vaguely familiar?” Moira asked the pair of them quietly as they watched Johnny and Roland take turns.

“You invented it,” David said. “We played it a lot growing up.” There were aspects of David’s childhood that Patrick found alarming and tragic. It was comforting to know that the Roses were now in a much better place, but that was still a game only children of a wealthy dissociated mother would play.

“I can’t remember playing.”

“That’s because we got very good at it. I remember Alexis got one in from across the room once.” David mimicked tossing a pill.

Johnny missed again, landing one in Jocelyn’s hair. The game had sad beginnings, but now was a weird baby shower game – and was definitely better than the diaper game.

“I gotta hand it to you, David,” Patrick said. “It’s a little unconventional, but people seem to be really into this.”

“Hey Dave,” Roland called out from the middle of the room where he and Johnny were still playing. “Do I get an extra point if I can bounce one off her forehead?”

“Yeah, we need some clarity on the point system, David,” Johnny added. “Because I’ve landed three in Jocelyn’s bangs and that’s gotta count for something.”

David points to his mouth, then said, “Or nothing.”

Johnny looked disappointed.

“Really?”

“Okay, Johnny,” Roland said, giving him another mint. “On three. One, two…”

Johnny and Roland tossed the mints at the same time. By some miracle or act of God, both mints landed in Jocelyn’s mouth. The whole room erupted in cheers.


 

Understandably, the game took a while, but Twyla ended up winning, attributing her success to shooting creamers from behind the counter into a pitcher across the restaurant. Apparently, she had also been on the high school girls’ basketball team, which made more sense.

The last of the guests had finally left, and just as Patrick and David started picking up, Roland shooed them out of the house. Jocelyn had already gone upstairs, tired from all the excitement, and he said he’d take care of the cleaning since they had done all this work on such short notice. They were both grateful for the reprieve. The whole day had taken a toll on both David and Patrick for very different reasons.

“See you later, boys! Drive safe!” Roland called from the porch as they got into the car. They both waved and smiled goodbye in return.

As soon as the doors were shut, the smiles were gone.

“Oh god, I’m so tired,” Patrick said, resting his forehead on the steering wheel as he started the car.

“And we’ve still got that papier mache hellspawn in the trunk,” David reminded him.

“Can we destroy it tomorrow?” he asked. “I’d like to return this stuff to the store and decompress there.”

“Mm, agreed.”

The car was silent for a minute or two as they sped down the country road. David reached over and took Patrick’s hand in his.

“Thank you for all your help today,” he said warmly.

“Of course,” Patrick replied genuinely. He squeezed David’s hand.

“And I promise ours won’t be nearly as stressful.”

At first, he wasn’t sure if David knew what he was saying, but then he saw the delicate smile on David’s lips. He knew.

“I hope not.”

Chapter Text

11:48am: You’re never allowed to leave ever again.
11:48am: What happened?
11:51am: David
11:51am: What’s going on?
11:55am: Okay I’m leaving the conference and coming back ASAP
11:55am: No! You don’t have to come back
11:55am: I’d actually prefer if you didn’t
11:56am: Okay…?
11:56am: Ugh
11:56am: Okay
11:56am: I have this rash on my face
11:57am: That according to my dad and Stevie’s arms
11:57am: Is due to the new shipment of lotion we got
11:57am: WHAT?!
11:58am: Apparently they changed the ingredients and now I’m breaking out and Stevie’s got the same rash all over her arms
11:59am: I’m hideous, Patrick.
11:59am: I doubt that. Can you send me a picture?
11:59am: And have permanent documentation of this?
12:00pm: Absolutely not.
12:00pm: Well, pull it from the shelf immediately
12:00pm: I’ll leave before the last panel
12:00pm: And I’ll be back in time that we can start crisis control
12:01pm: How much did you sell?
12:01pm: Not a lot. Mostly just to my dad at the motel to put in all the rooms. Hence, Stevie having the rash.
12:02pm: And my dad wants to pull his account with us.
12:02pm: Shit. Okay. We’ll figure it out when I get back. Lunch just ended and I need to get in there for this networking thing.
12:03pm: I’ll send you updates.
12:03pm: Thank you. <3 

1:18pm: My dad’s an idiot.
1:18pm: It wasn’t the lotion.
1:25pm: Oh thank god
1:25pm: What was it?
1:26pm: He picked poison oak and put in vases at the motel.
1:26pm: Upside, I know what poison oak looks like now.
1:26pm: Downside, I have a poison oak rash on my face that I think my dad tried to insinuate was an STD earlier.
1:27pm: Oh, David…
1:27pm: There should be some at my place, but I’ll pick up more calamine lotion on my way home.
1:27pm: Thank you.
1:28pm: Thank god it’s not the lotion.
1:28pm: THANK GOD
1:28pm: I was in the middle of taking Brenda to task when my dad told me.
1:29pm: Poor woman got an earful
1:29pm: I bet.
1:29pm: I told him I cancelled his account with us, but instead I’m just taking away his family discount
1:30pm: It’s punishment enough.
1:30pm: Good idea.
1:36pm: I think I’m going to leave the conference early.
1:36pm: Yeah?
1:36pm: Yeah, I studied the topics covered in the last couple panels in college.
1:36pm: It’s going to be up on the website later, too.
1:37pm: Besides, my boyfriend needs calamine lotion.
1:37pm: Can you also get a Phantom of the Opera mask?
1:37pm: That bad, huh?
1:39pm: [photo attachment]
1:39pm: I’ll see what I can find at Target.
1:39pm: Be home in 2 hrs

Chapter Text

Single folks were descending upon Schitt’s Creek in a steady stream for the town’s first official Singles’ Week. The schedule of events was rigorous and reminded Patrick of his days at summer camp. From morning til late there were events for all the singles to meet and mingle. It was a bit ambitious for a first year, but hey, these folks were here to meet someone and any opportunity to talk to others was a plus.

Patrick watched the café from the windows of the store, seeing how many people had shown up for the week. He was impressed. Several folks had stopped in the store to purchase toothbrushes and other amenities. And others had purchased some of the more interesting products David ordered for the week: water-based lubricant, pheromone spray, and an obscene number of flavored condoms. (Patrick blushed when he opened that box. He’d used condoms before, but having David standing on the other side of the box made his body flush in a way he wasn’t expecting.) He didn’t check with Patrick if any of these orders were in the budget (answer: they weren’t), but David assured him they’d sell. As someone who had been perpetually single, David said, they’d want these.

Patrick wouldn’t have known. He had never needed to attend singles functions. He met Rachel in high school and that was that. When they broke up for the last time, Patrick was intent on staying single as long as possible, exploring who he was by himself. But then two months later he became absolutely smitten with the most beautiful and interesting man he’d ever met in his life. By the third voicemail, he knew he was in love.

Speaking of.

He was checking the massage oils that had arrived that morning when the bell rang. Patrick turned to see David with a large box, trying to get through the door. He looked ridiculous as he struggled to fit his large body and the box in the small doorway. Patrick could’ve helped him, but then he would’ve missed the show.

Once David was through the door, Patrick asked sarcastically, “Have you been going to the gym? Because that looked effortless.”

David set the box on the counter.

“It’s a very awkwardly shaped box,” he said. “But yes, I have and thank you for noticing.”

Patrick had a thousand questions about David’s current gym membership, but it was not nearly as pressing as whatever was in this box. He hoped it wasn’t yet another thing he wanted to sell for Singles’ Week. Patrick drew the line at lingerie.

“What is this?” Patrick asked.

“This is a box of dog sweaters that Alexis has asked me to drop off at Ted’s pet adoption thing for Singles’ Week,” David explained. That was a lot of dog sweaters.

“So, what’s it doing here, then?” he asked warily. He had a feeling he already knew the answer.

David paused uncomfortably before saying, “I was just wondering what your day was looking like.”

Yup.

“I’m not dropping the box off,” Patrick said immediately and firmly. He would do a lot of things for him, but Alexis specifically asked David to do it.

“I know! But it would save me so much distress!” David whined.

“Oh, are you in distress?” Patrick mocked him. David knew pouting and whining like a child had literally zero effect on him. He had a half dozen niece and nephews. He had no patience for it.

“Yes!” he answered. “The whole situation with Alexis and Ted right now is very awkward and cringe-y.” David had kept Patrick abreast to all the developments in his sister’s relationship – or lack thereof – so he was intensely familiar with all the details of their past. “Alexis told him she loved him.”

To say Patrick wasn’t affected by what David just said would be a lie. He knew David had been burned many, many times before in relationships, but he was such a romantic. Sure, he didn’t excel at the grand romantic gestures like Patrick did, but he had his moments that took Patrick’s breath away. Plus, he was sure he’d now seen every romcom in existence thanks to David’s obsession with them.

Awkward and cringe-y?

Is that how he was going to feel when Patrick told him he loved him?

“Wow,” Patrick said, still processing his own feelings. “Good for her. It’s not easy putting yourself out there like that.”

Rachel had said ‘I love you’ first and Patrick couldn’t say it back. He loved her, but not as deeply as she loved him. It was one of the many times they broke up. They got back together when he finally gathered the courage to say it back, even when he knew it wasn’t true.

In no world was David Rose going to just open up and tell Patrick he loved him, so he knew he was going to have to say it first. He was prepared to be vulnerable like he’d been when he asked David on their first date, when he told him what their first kiss meant to him, singing his love in front of everyone. Nothing had made him more certain that he loved David than when he was afraid he’d lost him. It had been like a piece of him had been viciously ripped from his heart. And when David offered his olive branch, Patrick knew he was truly in love with all that David Rose was.

“Okay, sure,” David dismissed. “I just think it’ll be less awkward for all of us especially considering Ted now knows that I know that he knows if you maybe took the box.”

“I’m not taking the box for you, David,” he said. He held up one of the massage oil bottles. “I still have to unpack all of these products for Singles’ Week that you bought.”

“Okay. Then I guess I’ll just take the box and go then.” David lingered, running his fingers along the cardboard.

Patrick couldn’t get those two words out of his head. Awkward? Cringe-y? What he felt for David was anything but. Saying ‘I love you’ was so courageous, even if the other person didn’t say it back, which he knew was going to be the case with them. He wanted to prove to David that what Alexis did was not just huge, but beautiful and meaningful. Those three words change everything. Saying ‘I love you’ was not at all awkward or cringe-y.

“David, listen to me,” he said as he took him by the shoulders. “What you’re doing is very brave, very generous, okay? And I don’t want to add more stress to your day…” He paused. David looked at him with anticipation. So, Patrick said it. “But I love you.”

He felt a giant whoosh in his stomach, the feeling of the words he’d held onto since they met being released into the world. Patrick loved David. It was now fact.

They stood there for a long moment, neither saying anything, just letting the gravity of what Patrick said permeate the space between them. The delight in David’s eyes was evident, but so was a hint of mild frustration.

“Okay, so you just said that to me for the first time knowing it would make my day more stressful,” David said, breaking the silence.

“That’s correct,” Patrick said, putting his hands cockily on his hips.

David was freaking out a little.

“Because you know that I’ve never said that to anyone else, aside from my parents twice and one time—”

“—at a Mariah Carey concert, I know,” Patrick finished for him.

“Yeah.”

It was never a direct question Patrick posed to David. He never said, ‘Tell me all the times you’ve said ‘I love you’.’ because that would have been weird. Instead, they were talking about the best concerts they’d been to. Patrick talked about the time he saw Rush live and it was one of the greatest experiences of his life, to be in that huge crowd hearing one of the greatest bands in the world play right in front of him.

David described the first time he saw Mariah Carey in excruciating detail to where Patrick could envision a 16-year-old David sobbing ‘I love you’ in Mariah’s arms during a VIP meet-and-greet. He said it was the second time he’d ever said ‘I love you’, and the conversation very naturally shifted to the first time (his parents surprised him with a whole new renovated closet that was easily the size of Patrick’s first apartment) and the third time (at a dance here in Schitt’s Creek).

Patrick would be extremely content to receive the fourth after David’s parents and the Songbird Supreme.

But it probably wouldn’t be today.

“And I don’t expect you to say it back to me right now,” he assured David. “Say it when you’re ready. Just felt right to me in the moment.”

David lit up.

This was the reaction Patrick longed to have. He had dreamt about saying those words to David dozens, if not hundreds, of times before. Not one included saying it out of spite, yet this was extremely symbolic of their relationship: Patrick proving to David that he was worthy of everything love had to offer.

Patrick had said those three words so many times in his life. He watched others delight in hearing the words all the time, yet he felt hollow in saying them. Now, saying them to David, it felt like glitter was exploding inside him.

Glitter.

“You’re my Mariah Carey,” Patrick said fondly.

David stepped back from him, very clearly emotional. Patrick wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction.

“Okay, that compliment could bring me to tears, but I’m not gonna let it,” David said truthfully. “So, I…”

Patrick’s heart leapt to his throat. Was David going to surprise him and say it so soon? Was this going to be the perfect romantic moment he’d always wanted?

“…would like to thank you for all the wonderful things that you said,” he finished.

That was more like it.

He felt like an idiot.

“Okay,” Patrick said, picking up the box for David and passing it to him. “Do you want to get me a tea while you’re out?”

“I will get you a tea,” David confirmed. He meandered toward the door. “Um, would you mind just not looking at me while I take this box out of the room because I don’t want you regretting any of the nice things you just said to me.”

Patrick did no such thing. David leaned against the opened door.

“’Kay, look away, please,” he begged sweetly. “Please.”

He watched David exit the store in the same awkward manner he entered. The moment David was out the door, Patrick turned back to the massage oils.

“That went well,” he sighed.

He was crushed. That was not at all how he wanted to do it. He had mentally written down at least half a dozen ways he wanted to tell David.

One way was getting a hotel in Elmdale, and when they’re cuddled in bed after some intimate activities, that’s when Patrick would have said it.

Another was over dinner in the same booth as their first date, where he’d give a soliloquy about how much David meant to him.

Another was through another open mic, choosing a song that specifically said ‘I love you’ in the lyrics.

One of them was literally going right up to him with no preamble and kissing him before just saying, ‘I love you’.

All of them were more romantic than what he just did.

Did he really tell David he loved him to spite him?

In a way, no, he didn’t. He meant it. He would always mean it.

But he did it to prove a point.

The way David reacted was the point.

Though now he was starting to see where David got ‘awkward’ and ‘cringe-y’. There was an itch under his skin after not hearing it back. Logically, he knew David loved him. He didn’t need David to say it. That was true love, not forcing him to say it back. He didn’t care if David said it back.

…that was a lie. He really needed David to say it back. What if this all was a waste because David didn’t love him like that and that was the real reason he couldn’t say it back?

No, that wasn’t possible. They had been through so much together. After how David reacted to the open mic night, he couldn’t deny that he loved Patrick. Patrick would know he’d be lying.

Hearing those words would mean everything.

Patrick sighed. He gathered the massage oil bottles and walked them over to the small Singles’ Week display David had made. It was a tasteful display of intimate items, not like Patrick expected anything less. He imagined using some of these with David and his cheeks grew hot. They hadn’t gotten past over-the-clothes groping which was probably for the best. There was still nowhere for them to have adequate alone time and the last thing Patrick wanted was someone walking in on their first time having sex.

He shook his head, trying to get the thoughts out of his head. His fantasies were being impatient; he needed to wait for David to say it back to him.

A few customers came into the store. Patrick glanced out the window. There was a steady stream of folks headed across the road. There was a break in programming, he guessed.

Thank god. Something to occupy his mind.

What Patrick hadn’t counted on with Singles’ Week was single folks’ intense desire to smell and look good. They were all intensely interested in the body products the store carried and amazingly, every single customer purchased something off the Singles’ Week display. Product was flying off the shelves and David wasn’t even here to witness it.

It was a flurry of purchases, including one gentleman purchasing an alarming amount of massage oil, as they all needed to get back to the café quickly for their turn at a type of musical chairs speed-dating activity.

He rang up the last customer. She had been so patient, waiting in the back of the line. He placed her things in a bag.

“Here you go,” he said cheerily. “Have fun this week!”

Just as she was leaving, David returned. And so did Patrick’s feelings.

He knew David wasn’t going to say the words back right away. And it was easier to deal with that when David wasn’t there. The best he could do is act like everything’s completely normal.

David lingered at the front door for a moment as Patrick walked around the counter. It looked like David forgot his tea, which he figured he would.

“Well, David, I gotta hand it to you,” he said. “We’ve already sold half of our massage oils. It’s like you’re an oracle when it comes to the sex lives of lonely people.” It wasn’t meant to be a dig, reminding David of the time before they were together.

David sauntered up to the counter.

“It’s a gift,” he said breezily.

“How’d it go with Ted?” He expected to hear about how uncomfortable it was between the two of them, especially considering David and Ted didn’t talk very much.

He didn’t expect David stepping right up to him, wrapping his arms around his shoulders, and kissing him so tenderly. On instinct, Patrick put his hands on David’s waist and gently pulled him closer, feeling his solid form against him. His whole body tingled from his head to his toes. David had only ever kissed him like this after his olive branch and it made Patrick dizzy.

David drew back, and Patrick could finally see the tears in his eyes.

Oh god, what happened? What happened at Ted’s that—

“I love you.”

Everything stopped.

Patrick had heard those words so many times before by family, friends, Rachel.

Nothing could have prepared him for this.

His body lit up. His heart sang.

I love you I love you I love you

Glitter.

He dreamed about this for so long, to hear those three beautiful words fall from David’s lips.

And he said them.

David loved him!

Judging by David on the brink of crying, Patrick knew it was real. He knew David felt it. He knew he wasn’t just saying it back to say it. David really, truly, deeply loved him in the same fierce way Patrick loved him.

He tightened his fingers in David’s sweater.

“I know I’ll never be able to compete with Mariah,” Patrick said. David rolled his eyes. “This just kinda feels like one of those perfect moments that you dream about.”

Patrick was going to remember today for the rest of his life.

And in the name of love, he couldn’t resist teasing David.

“Except in my dream I’m holding a nice cup of tea,” he said jokingly.

“Oh, fuck!” David said, pinching Patrick’s shoulder then letting go. The love bubble around them burst and reality was right there to greet them. David immediately started for the door.

“I’m kidding! I don’t need the tea,” he called after him. He was expecting some sort of snarky comment from David, not this. He wanted him to stay here with him. He wanted to bask in his happiness.

“No,” David said firmly as he awkwardly traipsed toward the door. “I am making this perfect moment perfect.” And then he was out the door.

Patrick let out a giddy laugh.

David loved him.

He didn’t know what to do with himself. He glanced around the store as if he was going to find an answer. Instead he excitedly paced the room, watching for David from the window.

It took longer than Patrick had anticipated, despite accounting for all the extra folks at the café. He had wound up in the exact spot David told him he loved him, nervously tapping on the counter.

After many long minutes, David emerged from the café. Patrick watched as he trotted across the street to the store. He stood up straight and took a deep breath.

David opened the front door and stepped inside, just as he did before, except this time with a cup of tea in his hand. Patrick heard the door latch shut and David flipped their sign to ‘closed’.

Patrick’s heart was racing, and he couldn’t stop grinning.

David stood at the door for a bit, staring warmly at Patrick. He didn’t budge, didn’t make a move toward Patrick.

Did he want him to come get it?

Patrick took a step closer toward him before David put a hand up.

“No,” David said lightly. “Say what you said when I came in before.”

Patrick laughed joyously. David literally wanted to make that moment perfect.

“Um,” Patrick began, trying to settle his giggling. “Well, David, you were right. We’ve already sold half of the massage oils. It’s like you’re a genius when it comes to the sex lives of single people.”

David finally walked toward him, never breaking his gaze. His eyes were alight with the same joy Patrick felt.

“It’s a gift,” he said as he placed Patrick’s tea on the counter.

“Thank you for my tea,” Patrick said, then, “How’d—”

David couldn’t wait. He took Patrick’s face in his hands and pulled him in for a deep and passionate kiss that made Patrick swoon. Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist, his palms flat on his lower back. Nothing would ever compare to kissing David. The way his soft lips moved against his own, the way his stubble dragged across Patrick’s skin, how he took control and made Patrick forget where they were.

Finally, David withdrew and said breathlessly, “I love you.”

“I love you,” Patrick echoed.

“That’s not your line,” David whispered jokingly.

“I don’t care.”

Patrick leaned in and continued their kiss. David was right; he made this perfect moment perfect. He hugged David a little tighter to his body. David let out a satisfied moan when his hips met Patrick’s and Patrick could feel his clothed erection against the beginnings of his own.

“Back room,” Patrick said hurriedly.

“Yes,” David agreed as he stepped away from him. With a heated look in his eyes and a finger hooked in Patrick’s belt, David led him around the counter to the back room.

That alone was almost enough for Patrick to want to drop to his knees.

Once they were out of sight, they were back on each other, Patrick’s hands fisting David’s sweater and David’s hands on his ass. It was slightly messy as he could only focus on the way David was grinding his erection against him. David drew back, his breath hot on Patrick’s lips.

“Should we do this with less clothing?” David asked.

“God, yes.”

They had decided a while ago that when they were going to have sex that it was going to be planned and private. Patrick wanted it to be romantic and special since it would be not only their first time, but his first time with a man. It’d be like losing his virginity all over again and he wanted this one to not be in a 7-11 parking lot.

But making out and dry humping in their underwear was totally allowed.

David kissed him again as he moved his hands up to unbutton his shirt. Patrick worked his hands underneath David’s sweater, feeling his heated skin under his fingertips. He kept David’s hips close, rubbing against him as he got harder.

David pushed Patrick’s shirt off his shoulders and started kissing all the skin that was now exposed. Patrick reluctantly removed his hands from under David’s sweater, so his shirt could be fully removed. But within seconds he and David were getting David’s sweater off and David’s hands were back on Patrick’s ass, helping him grind his cock against him.

Patrick closed his eyes, relishing in the feeling of David in his arms. Something was sparking between them that was different from before. Their touches were warmer and kisses sweeter. It felt as though Patrick was touching David for the first time.

“God, I love you so much,” David murmured hotly before he bit at Patrick’s ear, drawing a whine out of him. Patrick raked his nails down David’s back, around his waist, and to his fly. David moaned as he popped the button and dragged down the zipper. Patrick slid his fingers into David’s pants and pushed them down off his hips, revealing a tight pair of black designer briefs. He loved the underwear David wore. They made his ass and cock look so good.

Patrick chuckled. How did he ever think he was straight?

He traced his fingers up David’s erection and David inhaled sharply. He grabbed Patrick’s wrist and directed him to fully cup his cock and squeeze. Both let out small sounds of pleasure as Patrick worked David’s cock slowly over the fabric. He was so hard and big and the source of all of Patrick’s fantasies over the last month.

David let go of Patrick’s hand and easily moved to his belt. In seconds, his belt was slithering out of his belt loops and David was unfastening his jeans. Together, they quickly got Patrick down to just his navy boxer briefs and Patrick’s hand was back massaging David’s cock. Patrick leaned in and kissed him slowly, reveling in his near nakedness with his boyfriend’s interest hot in his palm.

“Do you want to help me with my pants or…?” David asked cheekily. Patrick smiled.

“Of course,” he said. He gave a light peck before he gradually lowered himself to his knees.

David’s eyes were dark and intense, peering down at him at his feet. Patrick maintained his gaze as he peeled David’s pants down his long, long legs and slipped his shoes off. Soon, David was just as naked as Patrick. Patrick wrapped his hands around the backs of David’s thighs for balance and looked back up at David. David breathed deeply. He threaded his fingers through Patrick’s hair and oh.

David’s cock was right there.

He could have easily peeled down his underwear and blown him.

…but the plan.

There were ways to work around it. Now was the perfect time for something.

Patrick’s heart beat faster as he leaned in and gently licked at the head of David’s cock through the fabric.

Oh. Oh.

He closed his eyes and moaned loudly.

If he wasn’t hard before, he was now.

There were so many emotions going through him but none nearly as distinct as the wanton need for David. He dug his fingers into David’s thighs and started to kiss down his clothed shaft, reveling in the shape and taste of a man’s – David’s – cock for the first time.

David’s fingers tensed in his hair.

“Oh, shit,” he murmured quietly. Patrick looked up and saw David’s jaw hanging open and his eyes were so, so dark.

He kissed his way back up David’s shaft to suck at the head through the fabric. David whined and grabbed at Patrick’s shoulders.

“Come here, come here,” David said huskily. Patrick stood and was immediately kissed within an inch of his life. David’s fingers dug into his hips as he walked Patrick backward. His thighs hit the edge of the desk and David slotted his thigh between Patrick’s legs, letting him rut against him. Patrick moaned and dug his fingers into David’s back as he kissed him.

David reached around him and started pushing things off the desk behind Patrick. Normally he’d be upset about the mess, but David’s cock was pressed into his thigh and he couldn’t care any less.

“Lay back,” David whispered against his lips. He did as he was told and laid down on the cool wood with David moving his legs to wrap around his waist.

Oh, fuck,” Patrick gasped as David’s cock perfectly lined up with his. He sunk his fingers into David’s hair and pulled in him for a filthy kiss. David held onto his hips and started humping him slowly, grinding his cock against his.

It was everything.

They’d done this before – kiss and dry hump – but it felt like so much more in this moment. He was powerless and submissive under David, and he loved it. It thrilled him that, if this was how he felt right now, he was going to positively fall apart when David was finally inside him.

He wanted to give everything to David.

“I love you,” Patrick said breathlessly, pressing his forehead against David’s.

“I love you,” David echoed before he kissed his way across Patrick’s jaw to his neck. Then, his lips brushed Patrick’s ear as he whispered worshipfully, “I love you, I love you, I love you…”

Patrick choked back a sob. David’s hips moved faster and in time with his reverent chant.

David loved him.

“David… David…!” he gasped. He clawed at David’s back as he came hard in his underwear. David acknowledged Patrick’s orgasm with a nip on his earlobe.

Patrick grabbed David’s hair and dragged him back in for a very messy kiss. David humped him faster and faster until his hips stuttered and he came. Patrick held him through it, kissing him as he slowed to just lay on top of him. There was no one else in the world but them in that moment.

David’s kisses were so soft and loving they made Patrick’s heart swell. He didn’t used to kiss him like this. When they first started seeing each other, the kisses were lustful and frisky as if David anticipated their relationship to stay shallow like his previous experiences. Now, he kissed Patrick with the tenderness that only love could create.

Patrick smiled against David’s lips. David pulled back.

“You love me,” Patrick said blissfully.

“Mhm,” David replied, grinning shyly.

“And I love you.”

“That’s correct.”

Patrick hummed happily as he and David gazed at each other, taking in what they just did.

“You know we’re gonna have to clean up at some point and go back to work,” Patrick said dryly.

“Do we really?”

As if on cue, there was a banging on the front door of the store.

“David! David!”

David groaned and Patrick laughed.

“David, I need more blindfolds for Alexis’ next romantic enterprise for Singles’ Week!”

There was no better mood killer than David’s mother.

“David?!”

“Give me a minute!” he yelled back. He looked back down at Patrick.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Stay right here.”

He kissed Patrick once, twice, before he reluctantly stood up. Patrick’s heart sped up when he saw the wet spot on David’s underwear.

“Oh, these are going to be so uncomfortable all day,” David said as he adjusted himself.

They wouldn’t have to worry about that soon.

David quickly threw on his clothes to meet his mom in the store leaving Patrick to lie on the desk and stare at the ceiling.

He couldn’t stop smiling. He was living in a dream he had so many months ago.

David loved him so very, very much.

Chapter Text

Christmas had arrived in Schitt’s Creek and Patrick could not be more excited. It was going to be his first Christmas with a boyfriend! And since his family had chosen to visit his uncle’s family in Puerto Vallarta instead of staying home this year, there was no chance he could see them.

They didn’t live terribly far away – only a five-hour drive – but it was enough that convincing David into a roadtrip was a battle Patrick wasn’t looking forward to. So, when his mom called to tell him their plans for the holidays, he breathed a sigh of relief. It was probably for the best since they really couldn’t afford to close the store for so many days. They were saving for an espresso machine in the back. Patrick told David if they did well on their Christmas sales that they could purchase one come February.

He was excited to spend his first Christmas with David at home. He wished they had their own home to spend it in (Soon, he thought.), but wherever they had it would be the best so long as he was with David. Currently, they were at the store enjoying the continued rush of holiday shoppers.

“Glad to see this many people forgot to get gifts for their loved ones,” Patrick remarked as he packed ornaments in gift boxes. David stood next to him behind the counter.

“Really tells you how much they love them if they’re shopping this late,” David said with a discerning look.

“Speaking of which, I ordered your gift about an hour ago, so it should arrive by the 14th. It apparently takes a long time for things to get here from rural Ukraine,” Patrick said dryly, earning him a hard stare from his partner.

“That better be a joke,” David said in a harsh hushed tone.

Patrick couldn’t help but crack a smile. He couldn’t even properly mess with David lately. The holidays made him soft. He stopped packing ornaments and turned to draw David into his arms. David instinctually draped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders.

“It's not coming from the Ukraine,” he assured him before giving him a tender kiss. David hummed happily.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

David had gotten very good at saying it over the last few months. It now rolled off his tongue so easily like it had always been part of his vernacular. It never failed to make Patrick’s heart skip a beat.

“Can’t wait for our Christmas together,” David waxed with a smile. “We’ll wake up and make cinnamon rolls—”

“A Brewer family tradition, you remembered.”

“Like I would ever forget cinnamon rolls,” David chided. “Then we’ll open gifts.”

“Your gift from me would be better to open tonight before bed.”

“Normally I would argue with that but given that I have feeling I know what it might entail, I’m very okay with that.”

Patrick nodded, confirming David’s suspicion.

“So, after our late breakfast, we’ll climb back in your bed and watch Christmas movies until dinner where we’ll go to Elmdale’s finest restaurant open on Christmas. Then we’ll go back to your place and we can do your gift again,” David said, concluding with a kiss.

“Sounds good,” Patrick said. He kissed David again. “What is your family doing tonight? Could we possibly watch a Christmas movie with them?”

David broke out of his arms to move around the counter.

“Oh, no, my dad’s doing this thing where he thinks he can throw a Christmas party together in less than 24 hours,” David explained, waving his hand dismissively.

“Isn’t your dad Jewish? Why is he throwing a Christmas party?”

“Weirdly, he loves Christmas,” he said. “He forces all his Christmas cheer on everyone around him with singalongs, tree decorating, lots of gifts. Once he hired actors to actually reenact the birth of Jesus. Had to completely replace the rug because the blood from the afterbirth wouldn’t come out.”

“Okay, that part sounds disgusting,” Patrick said, returning to the ornaments. “But the rest sounds great. Why don’t we go over there after the store’s closed?”

David huffed.

“I’m telling you it’s going to be a disaster. We’re better off just going to the Wobbly Elm and getting drinks tonight.”

“David, we can have drinks literally any night,” Patrick argued. “Christmas with your family sounds like fun.”

“Yeah, it was fun,” David said. “Like, way, way back we used to throw these lavish Christmas parties. I’m sure you’ve read about them.”

“I have not.” David assumed that since he worked at a Rose Video that he somehow knew everything there was about the Rose family’s past. Remarkably, that wasn’t the case.

“I see. Well, they were big, and they were fun, and ever since we moved here, we sorta decided to fast-forward through the holidays,” David said dejectedly as he grabbed the packaged ornaments to display on the shelves in the window.

“Well, as someone who would love to be celebrating with his family back home, I think it’s nice that your dad is planning something,” Patrick said. He hoped a little bit of guilt would get David to budge.

The doorbell jingled as Stevie entered, donning a heavy coat and bright red hat. The snow was pretty but living in the middle of nowhere brought the cold and the wind.

“Hello,” she said to David, receiving a curt ‘hi’ in return.

She strode right up to the counter.

“Merry Christmas, Patrick!” she said.

“Merry Christmas, Stevie!” Patrick replied. It was always good to see her.

David meandered back over to the counter.

“Do I not get a ‘Merry Christmas’?” he asked her. In all fairness to Stevie, David was a bit of a Grinch about Christmas. When Patrick wished him a Merry Christmas, he pointedly said they weren’t doing that until at least 12 days before Christmas, and he was not going to say it to customers without being prompted.

“I thought you were Jewish,” Stevie said bluntly.

“I’m a delightful half-half situation,” David answered playfully. “Which is why it’s so annoying that my dad thinks he can boss people around on a holiday that he technically has no authority over.”

“Well, can whichever half that is feeling the most generous give me a discount on two cases of wine, please?”

“How many people does he think are showing up at this thing?” David asked. Clearly Stevie was part of the party preparations. It made sense, given she was more Rose-adjacent than he was (and he was regularly sleeping with one of them!).

“Oh, he only wanted one case,” she explained. “I have my own holiday tradition. It’s like the twelve days of Christmas, but it’s one day with twelve bottles of wine.”

It was the most Stevie answer Patrick could’ve imagined. She didn’t seem like the type to want any sort of big hoopla around Christmas.

“That sounds like fun,” Patrick said with a laugh. He turned to David. “Are we supposed to be doing anything for this party?” If Johnny had put Stevie to work, David definitely had things to do.

“Um, yes. Decorations, but even if we could still afford Nate Berkus, I burned that bridge in Ibiza…” David said, trailing off.

Patrick had no idea who Nate Berkus was, and he didn’t want to know what happened in Ibiza. They didn’t need to hire anyone, though.

“Okay, but we have plenty of decorations here, so…?” Patrick retorted, gesturing to all the products in their store.

“Yeah, that are for sale,” David corrected him. “We’re not just giving away our inventory.”

On the one hand, Patrick was excited to hear that David had really finally taken to not giving away products or using them himself. It showed some real growth and he was so proud. On the other, it was Christmas, the season of giving. They could give some decorations to his dad.

And then Patrick realized he was still focused on that espresso machine, so his motives for selling products was not entirely pure.

“Wow,” Stevie said dryly. “So what time is the ghost of Christmas Past coming to visit you tonight?”

Fuck, he was being a total Scrooge!

“Oh! Burn, David!” Patrick laughed. The only thing he loved more than listening to Stevie roasting David was when he got to participate too. She was way too good at it. Years of working so close to where David was living probably did it for her.

Patrick left for the backroom to grab her cases of wine. Everything was a mess given all their surplus inventory. They’d done really well this quarter; they were going to close out the year strong. Ever since the open mic night, word had gotten out about the store and they’d seen more customers from further away coming into town specifically to stop at Rose Apothecary. It made him so happy to see so many people appreciating the thing he and David had built together.

It was so lovely to remember that. He and David created this beautiful little place together, their tiny corner of the world. They didn’t have any private living quarters – Patrick was still at Ray’s, David at the motel – but that backroom was theirs alone. He couldn’t wait for the day when they lived together too. Waking up with David every morning was going to be the absolute best.

He could hear Stevie and David discussing the decorations out front as he stacked the cases of wine to carry out.

“Oh, so you do have decorations,” David said to Stevie.

Patrick slid the cases of wine onto the counter.

“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be up to your standards,” she said. Patrick knew she was correct without even seeing the decorations.

“Well, they’ll have to do because at this point, the party’s at seven and I don’t have any time to mood-board a color scheme,” David said flippantly before wandering back to the shelves he was stocking when Stevie entered.

“Okay…” Stevie said sarcastically. “Thank you.”

David was being utterly ridiculous. A party with his family sounded lovely and they had more than enough Christmas decorations in stock to give some to Johnny.

Patrick leaned on the wine cases.

“Do you have time to mood-board a color scheme?” he asked Stevie quietly.

“Does anyone?” Stevie replied.

“No.”

Patrick glanced over at David. He loved that ridiculous, ridiculous man in spite of his Scrooge-like ways.

“Since my business partner’s heart is two sizes too small—”

“Great reference.”

“Thank you,” Patrick said. “I’ll let you take your case of wine as our Christmas gift to you.”

“It’s good to hear there are still generous people in this world,” Stevie said, projecting loud enough for David to hear.

“We are running a business,” David argued back. “We can’t just be taking things whenever we want.”

“I may have made a mistake in telling him we could get an espresso machine provided our Christmas sales did well,” Patrick told her.

“Oh, then this is definitely on you,” Stevie said as she hauled the two cases of wine off the counter. She trudged over to the door, the bulk of her coats preventing her from getting a good grip on the boxes.

“Would you care for some assistance?” David asked snippily.

“Nope,” Stevie said. “I’m good.” She managed to get herself out the front door and around the corner. Patrick didn’t hear the sound of glass breaking, so he assumed she made it to her car.

Patrick stepped away from the counter to join David at the window. The snow was falling gently and swirling in the wind. It was their first winter being open and he looked forward to so many more. He came up behind David, wrapped his arms around his waist, and hooked his chin on his shoulder. He took a deep breath, inhaling the spicy scent of David’s cologne. He switched it up for the season and Patrick thought he smelled like a lumberjack. He’d never tell David, but he thought it was such a sexy scent.

David laid his hands over Patrick’s.

“If you keep giving away product, we’re never going to have enough for that espresso machine,” David said quietly.

“It’s called ‘Christmas cheer’, David,” he said.

David sighed.

“We’ll get that espresso machine,” Patrick assured him. “Just not right away.”

“I know.”

“And remember, you still have a gift from me to open after the party tonight.”

“Mm,” David hummed happily. “Now that’s something I can look forward to.”

“Just gonna need your heart to grow three sizes first,” Patrick said before stepping away from David who shot him the dirtiest look.

Patrick could see all the emotions on David’s face playing out. Should he complain about the espresso machine again? Or should he shut it for his gift from Patrick tonight? David glanced back at the customers milling about the store. There weren’t many.

“I need to find Nana Budd’s decorations and see if anything needs to be added,” David finally said.

Patrick smiled.

“Go. I can handle this.”

David tenderly took Patrick’s face in his hands and kissed him.

“I don’t deserve you,” David said softly.

“You really don’t.”

Okay!

“Go.”

David hustled to the back room to grab his heavy wool coat. Within a minute he was out the door and headed back to the motel.

When David was motivated about something, he was motivated.

Very little out of the ordinary happened before he received his first text from David.

3:56pm: omg we have to help my dad
3:56pm: he bought the SADDEST tree
3:56pm: we literally watched it fall apart when he untied it
3:56pm: it took everything in my power not to start laughing
3:56pm: and nana budd’s decorations were pathetic
3:56pm: and that’s putting it nicely
3:57pm: Glad to see you’re getting into the Christmas Spirit!
3:57pm: Do you want me to bring decorations by?
3:57pm: I love you but your taste in decorations is questionable
3:57pm: Ouch
3:58pm: well it is and you know that
3:58pm: You’re lucky I love you an awful lot
3:58pm: I know
3:58pm: I’ll be there in a few to grab decorations
3:58pm: Can’t wait to see you

Sure enough, David was there within minutes. He told Patrick what happened at the motel: the depressing decorations, the state of the tree, how upset his dad was. It was heartwarming to see how much he wanted to do this for his dad.

David grabbed nearly every decoration he could off the shelves and almost took some out of customers’ hands. (Patrick stopped him, thankfully.) Within 20 minutes, David had collected several bags of supplies without even taking his coat off. Patrick made a general announcement to the store that they were closing early and the few customers who were still around quickly made their way to the register. They closed the store and loaded everything into Patrick’s car.

Once they were back at the motel, they found Moira, Ted, and Stevie ready to help. Alexis was hunkered over a list of names, phone to her ear. It was really peculiar to Patrick to see the Roses working together like this? It truly was a Christmas miracle.

David, Moira, and Ted went to work on the decorations. It was mostly David and Ted hanging everything and Moira ‘directing’ her ‘vision’, but it was better than what Stevie and Patrick were tasked to do. They had to put the tree back together.

Before they left the store, David told Patrick to grab all the superglue they were selling. Patrick thought he was joking but did as he was told. They managed to make the tree look halfway decent, though it was still extremely pathetic and now highly flammable. Hopefully some lights and tinsel would fill it out. Occasionally, David came over to help them, arranging the branches in a way that would look visually appealing.

Over the next hour, people started trickling in, bringing snacks and booze and other decorations. Alexis greeted each of them before showing them where to bring their gifts and treats. The motel room was filling with friends and everything was coming together.

David had selected some simply elegant decorations to make the room look appropriately festive. For a Scrooge, he was really good at holiday decorations.

Moira ducked out the front door to retrieve Johnny at the Café Tropical, leaving David and Alexis in charge of all their guests.

David wandered over to Patrick and Stevie who were stringing lights on the tree. He placed a gentle hand on Patrick’s lower back, sending a shiver up his spine. He loved it when David touched him so easily and familiarly.

“This tree looks significantly better than before,” David complimented them.

“It was a pretty low bar to clear,” Stevie said.

“And it helps the branches are now on the tree and not on the floor,” Patrick replied.

David dug into one of the bags and pulled out tinsel.

“I think it could use a little more to cover all the empty patches,” he said.

Together, he, Patrick, and Stevie added more decorations to the little tree. It was looking less and less pathetic with every addition.

Patrick couldn’t help but glance at David every once in a while. He loved seeing the lights reflected in David’s dark eyes and the delicate smile that would tug on his lips. Patrick made sure their fingers would brush together when he’d take an ornament from him. They may have been together for several months, but it was still a thrill to have those little private touches with David. He began to imagine the future in which they have their own tree – obviously something bigger and fuller – with dozens of hand-selected ornaments in their own home.

Patrick really wanted to build a home with David.

Just as they were adding even more tinsel, the motel room door opened. Moira had returned with Johnny who looked around the room with glee.

“Merry Christmas!” the room cheered.

Johnny turned to Moira.

“Merry Christmas, John,” Moira said warmly. He pulled her into his arms and gave her a hug. Patrick appreciated how much they still loved each other after all these years.

Moira helped Johnny remove his coat and he immediately caught sight of the tree.

“Oh, David, is this the same tree?” he asked in awe.

“Uh, theoretically?” David answered. “We spent a very long time gluing it back together.”

“Scary amount of super glue,” Patrick added.

“Seriously. No one should like a match in here,” Stevie said, actual fear in her eyes. She really wasn’t kidding.

“And everyone chipped in,” David said. “And there might’ve been a few things left over at the store…”

Johnny looked delighted to see his son’s change of heart. David and his dad didn’t always get along, but Patrick could see that David really made Johnny proud on so many occasions.

Alexis and Ted approached Johnny from across the room, Ted carrying a tray of full champagne flutes. After letting Johnny take one, Ted moved to the trio at the tree.

“Some bubbles for the baubles?” Ted asked with a cheeky grin, offering the tray to them.

“Um, that doesn’t make any sense, but I will never turn away anyone with champagne,” David said as he took two flutes. “Thank you, Ted.”

“Merry Christmas,” Ted replied. He very quickly moved on to the Jazzagals who were tucked near the sink.

David gazed across the room at all the work they had done. Patrick draped an arm over David’s shoulder and rested his chin on the other, admiring the room as well. He loved seeing all these folks turning out on such short notice for Johnny. The Roses had really become institutions in the town of Schitt’s Creek.

“Room looks good,” David said.

The decorations looked great. David was truly a visionary and had such a good eye for design. Patrick would’ve loved to have seen what he curated in galleries.

He tried not to focus on the loss they were going to take from donating their inventory because it was worth it.

“Mm,” Patrick said. “You’re still thinking about that espresso machine, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

“One day.”

“Mhm.”

Patrick dropped a kiss on David’s shoulder. He wanted to give David everything. Maybe he’d look at their bills and see if there’s a way they could get it sooner.

“I’m looking forward to your gift later,” David said quietly.

“And I’m looking forward to giving it to you,” Patrick whispered. David turned enough to kiss Patrick delicately on the lips.

Yeah, he wanted to give David the world.

Stevie walked past them to the counter to set down her empty champagne flute and pour another glass of wine.

“Which day of Christmas are you on now, Stevie?” Patrick asked her.

“Only four French hens,” she said with a slur. “But the night is still young.”

“Well, I hope a New Year’s resolution is to drink less for your liver’s sake,” David said.

From across the room, Twyla began singing.

“Silent night,
Holy night…”

Her voice was beautiful and pure and cut across the din. The rest of the Jazzagals joined in. Their harmonies were excellent.

“All is calm,
All is bright…”

Beside them, Stevie sniffled. David looked.

“What?” she said. “It’s just nice, what’s happening.”

“It looks like you’re crying,” David said.

“Well, I’m not. It’s just, we’re… we ran out of red!” She held up the empty bottle as proof.

“Oh.” David chuckled softly to himself. He turned his face to nuzzle against Patrick’s.

There was no place Patrick would rather be.

They spent the rest of the party together, holding hands or cuddled together as they chatted with the other guests. It was shaping up to be the best Christmas Patrick ever had.

Over the next few hours, people slowly trickled out until it was just the family, their significant others, and Stevie. David and Patrick had gravitated to the table of food, the natural course of any party with David. Patrick had his arms wrapped around David’s waist, his hands resting low on his back, and David gently massaged Patrick’s biceps as he playfully peppered Patrick’s lips and jaw with kisses.

“Merry Christmas, Patrick,” he whispered hotly before kissing the skin right below Patrick’s ear. David was delightfully tipsy, which is one of Patrick’s favorite versions of David. He was affectionate and sweet, and he didn’t care who was watching him. “Can I have my gift now?”

Patrick chuckled. Before he could answer, Moira tipsily wandered over to them. She gingerly leaned on the table with her fingertips.

“David,” Moira said gently. “I know you and dear Patrick probably have plans tonight, and I don’t want to keep you from them, but your father wants to spend a little time just the family.”

Patrick felt David deflate in his arms.

“Uh, sure,” David said blearily.

Moira nabbed a sugar cookie before leaving the table. David pouted.

“I know,” Patrick soothed. He kissed David. “But now I can get ready without you peeking. So when you’re done, come over and you can open your present.” David’s eyes lit up at that suggestion.

“Mm, I like that plan,” he said. He kissed Patrick tenderly before letting Patrick go.

“I’ll see you in a bit. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

One more kiss for the road, and Patrick was headed for the door.

“Good night, Roses! Merry Christmas!” he said as he headed into the cold.

“Bye, Patrick! Merry Christmas!” came the smattered responses.

Patrick hustled to his car. He didn’t know how long he’d have before David would be arriving at Ray’s and he needed to get ready.


9:25pm: finally leaving
9:25pm: my dad’s giving me a ride
9:25pm: should be there in about 10 mins
9:25pm: provided he finds the car keys
9:26pm: I’m ready. Front door’s unlocked. Just come upstairs.

The front door opened and shut. The sound of shoes being dropped off at the door followed. David had arrived.

Patrick positioned himself against the pillows on his bed and adjusted his Santa hat, so it was snug on his head. He didn’t know why he was so nervous. It wasn’t the first time David would have seen him like this, but it was certainly the first time he had tried something so brazenly sexual without talking to him first. Knowing David as well as he did, Patrick figured he’d be okay with it.

He heard David come quietly up the staircase. Ray had family a few towns over and was spending the evening with them, so the house was all theirs. No worries of him walking in on David’s Christmas present.

David rapped softly on the closed door.

“Come in,” Patrick called out.

The door opened.

“I’m excited to see what this pres—” David stopped mid-sentence and just froze in the doorway. He dropped his bag at his feet.

Patrick was dressed only in a pair of tight red silk briefs and a Santa hat, with a gift-wrapping bow stuck right over his heart.

“Merry Christmas, David,” Patrick said as sultrily as he could, his heart now hammering away in his chest for an entirely different reason. He was becoming aroused by the way David was drinking him in, his eyes drifting from head to toe, taking in every little bit.

Patrick had never laid himself out for David like this. This was something David would’ve done to him, not the other way around. He’s surprised David hadn’t done this before. It was completely in his wheelhouse to tease Patrick like this.

“Do you like your gift?” he asked huskily. He watched as David’s eyes darted from his crotch to his face. They were so, so dark.

David didn’t answer. Instead he stripped off his coat, dumping it on the floor, as he stepped swiftly across the room and climbed onto the bed. He straddled Patrick’s hips and Patrick couldn’t keep himself from sitting up to meet David in a steamy kiss. His rapidly hardening cock strained against the silk and was benefiting from the friction of David’s jeans.

Patrick pulled back.

“So do you?” he asked cheekily, anticipating a similar response.

What he got was David ripping the bow away with a dark growl before drawing him in for another deep kiss.

David raked his fingers over Patrick’s skin as Patrick pushed up David’s sweater. David helped him take it all the way off, throwing it to the floor. Immediately, David was back to kissing Patrick with every fiber of his being, his tongue licking into Patrick’s mouth.

David moaned loudly when Patrick shoved both hands down the back of his jeans.

“Take these off,” Patrick murmured.

“Yes, yes,” David gasped.

Patrick rolled them over so that David was on his back. David’s clothes were complicated, but Patrick had learned the fastest way to get David naked over the last several months. As soon as David undid the buttons, Patrick was peeling them off down his legs along with his underwear to join his sweater and coat.

Now David was gloriously naked in his bed, panting and hard. His cock jutted upward toward his hip, lying tantalizingly against his stomach. Patrick’s mouth watered at the sight.

Patrick dropped to lie between David’s legs and took his cock into his mouth with a moan. He remembered when he was so nervous to suck David’s cock. He worried he was going to be too messy or use his teeth by accident, but the fact David came in his mouth after his first attempt made all of it worth it. Now, he begged David to let him blow him.

David grabbed at the Santa hat on Patrick’s head. He growled in frustration when it came off in his hands and he threw it across the room. He then threaded his fingers through Patrick’s short hair which drew a groan out of Patrick. He looked up to see David’s head thrown back and his back arching beautifully against the red sheets.

Patrick pulled off David’s cock with a soft pop and kissed his shaft down to his balls, taking a moment to pull each one into his mouth. David inhaled shakily when Patrick pressed on his thighs to fold his legs up against his body. Patrick glanced up once more and caught David’s dark gaze before dropping down to lick across David’s hole.

“Oh, fuck,” David gasped. One of his hands flew to the pillow beneath his head as his other gripped Patrick’s hair tighter. He minutely bucked his hips, encouraging Patrick to lick into him.

This wasn’t one of Patrick’s favorite things, but it was David’s and there was no universe in which Patrick was going to pass up an opportunity to make David feel incredible, especially on Christmas Eve. Patrick speared his tongue and opened him up. Once David was sufficiently wet, he slid a finger in beside his tongue, then another.

By the time he was adding a third finger, David was a shuddering mess. He was whining and gasping and clearly trying very hard not to cum. Patrick had moved his mouth back to David’s cock, kissing and licking along the shaft.

“Patrick… Patrick!” David sobbed when Patrick pressed on his prostate. He was suddenly tugging hard at Patrick’s hair, a sign he needed him to stop. Patrick did has he was told and released David’s cock from between his lips, but left his fingers stretching him, as he was pulled upward for a kiss.

“Fuck me, fuck me please,” David murmured desperately against his lips. “Need your cock.”

Patrick nodded. A desperate David was Patrick’s kryptonite. He was weak when he could see all the love and vulnerability in David’s eyes. It brought him to the same point of need. He rutted his silk-covered cock against David’s hip, the fabric rubbing against David’s spit-covered cock. He was almost painfully hard. Sex with a man was relatively new for Patrick and it was like he still couldn’t believe he was getting to do it with this man. He felt like a teenager about to lose his virginity every single time.

“Of course, yes,” Patrick agreed.

Patrick removed his fingers from David’s ass and picked himself up enough to yank down his dampened briefs. It gave David the chance to lean over to Patrick’s bedside table to retrieve a condom and lube from the drawer.

Patrick sat back on his heels with the condom in hand. David propped himself up on his elbows to watch as Patrick opened the condom and rolled it down over his cock. David promptly traded Patrick the lube for the wrapper. Once his cock was properly coated and some lube applied to David’s hole, David settled back down onto the bed, drawing his knees up and open. Patrick leaned over him, lined his cock up with David, and then began to push in.

David’s eyes fluttered closed and his mouth dropped open in a soft moan as Patrick slowly slid into his body. David felt amazing around him, so hot and tight. The moment his hips met David’s ass and his whole cock was inside, David wrapped his legs around Patrick’s waist, his heels digging into his ass. David’s cock was pinned between their stomachs, pre-cum smearing onto both of them. Patrick loved feeling David’s cock pressed into his belly as he fucked him. It was yet another reminder of who he was with.

David took Patrick’s face in his hands and kissed him. Patrick held himself up on his elbows as he began to fuck David in earnest. They found a solid and steady pace, one that could’ve been the beat of an up-tempo Christmas song. The headboard knocked against the wall and the mattress squeaked, which only made their moans and groans sound more pornographic.

Patrick kissed his way down to David’s neck and bit, then sucked hard at the spot.

“Oh, Jesus fucking Christ,” David gasped as he grabbed at Patrick’s back, his nails digging into his skin. As Patrick sucked and fucked him harder, David’s whines grew louder and louder until he came with a choked sob. Patrick was going to have eight crescent bruises on his back in the morning.

He kept hammering his cock into David, who knew exactly what would get Patrick to cum quickly.

“C’mon, baby,” David whispered against his ear. “C’mon, cum for me. Yeah, gimme that cock. Fuck, you’re so good. Cum for me, please. Patrick, cum inside me—”

Patrick shouted as he came, his hips stuttering to a stop inside David.

He picked his head up and kissed David slowly and deeply. David hummed contently.

“Merry Christmas, Patrick,” he said softly.

“Merry Christmas, David,” Patrick replied. “Did you like your present?” He shoved his hips forward, his cock still buried in David’s ass, for emphasis.

“Well,” David began. “It’s no espresso machine…”

Patrick laughed and kissed David, who was beaming.

“It was incredible,” David said tenderly. “I was expecting this part—” He gestured to their connected bodies. “—but I have to say, I’m going to need you greeting me like that a lot more often.”

“Then it won’t be a gift anymore.”

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

They both smiled and kissed again before Patrick finally pulled out to dispose of the condom. After it was in the bedside trashcan, he brought back tissues to wipe off their stomachs. A cursory clean-up job was good enough. Patrick laid back down between David’s legs and David drew him close.

A comfortable silence fell around them as they admired one another and shared sweet kisses. It was David who spoke first.

“Can I tell you a secret?”

Patrick nodded.

“I’ve had the best sex of my life with you.”

That nearly made Patrick cry.

“Me too.”

David gave him a nervous smile. He hated being vulnerable, but Patrick loved it.

“I love you so much,” Patrick said, nuzzling David’s nose against his own. David hummed again.

“I love you too,” he replied. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas.”

Chapter Text

Life was good. He and David had fallen into a really lovely routine at work and outside of work. It was similar to one he had with Rachel except he loved this one. David made him feel so alive and excited for tomorrow because that meant he’d get to see David again.

That’s not to say David had habits that drove him crazy. He was still David Rose, after all. He was often late to work, avoided paperwork, and had very strong opinions about things no one should have strong opinions about. (“Dogs are fine, but they should be kept in strollers or carriers. I nearly died tripping over a leash when this Jackapoo darted across the sidewalk…”)

It was a regular Friday and he was looking forward to the weekend. They did better on sales on Saturday and Sunday which bolstered their lower totals during the week. Friday was also inventory day and he’d grown to love Friday nights. They’d do inventory, working harmoniously while giving each other light touches as they handed things back and forth or passed by one another. David always had the tiniest smile on his lips on inventory days. They’d then spend the rest of the evening at dinner and then back at the store to hang out with Stevie or Patrick’s for quiet time and sex.

As usual, Patrick got there early to do paperwork. Well, on time. David tended to roll in around 10am. Patrick learned to love the mornings alone, but today he was frustrated by their inventory numbers. He was good at predicting sales trends, but for some reason their greeting cards had been selling very well and their candles were in decline and he couldn’t figure out why.

The doorbell jingled.

“Oh, hi,” David said huskily.

Patrick looked up from his stack of papers at the counter and saw David at the door.

“Hi,” he replied.

David slinked over and leaned on the counter opposed him, resting his chin in his hand. He was acting a little strange, but Patrick had grown used to David’s brand of strange.

“Have I ever told you how sexy it is to walk in here and see you doing—” David coughed as he looked down. “—inventory? Wearing those little rubber thimbles on your fingers?”

“They help me flip pages easier,” Patrick answered dryly. He had no idea where David was going with all this.

“Hot,” he said flirtatiously. “Hot… sex.”

David was being incredibly weird.

“You know what else is hot and sexy?” David said, standing up. “Doing something spontaneous this afternoon.”

“Ooh, like what? You helping me with the inventory?” Patrick said sarcastically.

“Yes,” David said. “Or taking the afternoon off, mixing up the 9 to 5.”

David had never tried to flirt with him like this and Patrick knew something was up. It was just a matter of what exactly he had in mind.

“'Kay. Well, 9 to 5 are our store hours. So, it's kinda hard to build customer loyalty when your store is just spontaneously open or closed,” he replied. It was good business practice, but he also really didn’t want to break their routine. He didn’t want to lose their lovely little Friday night rituals.

“Yeah,” David said. “Anyway, turns out Alexis’s relationship’s in trouble.”

“What?!”

This was alarming news, yet David was being so casual about it. He knew Alexis and David had a competitive relationship, but it was quite callous to be so cavalier about her issues with Ted.

“Yeah, I know. Struggling,” he continued. “She practically begged us to join them at the park this afternoon. Probably for emotional support.”

“Wow,” Patrick said, still in disbelief. “We just saw them and they seemed great.”

“Yeah, well, they’re in need a generator, if you know what I mean.”

“Well, I don’t,” Patrick said. “But, uh, if you think it’ll help a bad situation, I guess we could duck out a little early today. It’ll just mean we’ll have to start early tomorrow.” It was not what David wanted to hear. Inventory still needed to be done.

“Mhm.”

David walked around counter to join Patrick on the other side.

“You know, it’s that unshakeable sense of responsibility,” David said as he cuddled up to Patrick, wrapping an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and resting his hand on his chest. “That makes me wanna just rip off those little rubber things and burn them in a fire.”

Even when he was only half-joking, Patrick knew David really did love him and was attracted to him. He was glad that he and David weren’t in the same place as Alexis and Ted. They were settled and routine, yet no dull moments. He enjoyed every second he spent with David, even when he was being weird.

Patrick tilted his head back and David leaned down to kiss him firmly on the lips. Patrick never thought he’d ever be the short one in a relationship. Now, he loved to get kissed just like this.

David withdrew and awkwardly nuzzled his face. Patrick looked at David, trying to solve the puzzle that was his boyfriend’s strange behavior.

“While I love this, I have to get back to price analysis and prepare for inventory tomorrow morning, since someone is cutting our afternoon short,” Patrick said.

“Mm ‘kay,” David replied. “It’s for the benefit of Alexis and Ted’s crumbling relationship.”

“Let’s just hope we don’t add our business to that list.”

David gave him a look before pulling back and disappearing to the backroom.

“We’re also gonna have to close earlier so I can change before we go,” David yelled. “I am not wearing this sweater with so many bugs around.”


 

As they were getting their helmets and harnesses for the high ropes course, Patrick kept glancing over at David whose terrified expression spoke volumes. It explained why he was so squirrely at the store earlier. The equipment girl must’ve sensed it too given his questions about the number of deaths that happened at the park. (The answer was zero.)

David didn’t say much as they walked out to the course. Patrick held his hand and directed him down the paths as his eyes were trained upward toward the swinging planks.

Patrick had to stop and tie his shoe, allowing David to silently wander to the base of the first ladder. Patrick thought he looked absolutely adorable in his shorts and sweater. The robin’s egg blue helmet made him seem younger. He knew David was thinking about other things when he didn’t argue with the color or the helmet itself.

“I have to say, David,” Patrick said as he joined David. “I’m a little shocked that you agreed to do this. I know how fearful you are of heights.”

“Well, fearful makes me sound like some kind of Dickensian orphan with a chronic illness,” David replied. “It’s more of an aversion. Do I wish Alexis was a little more specific when she said we were coming to a park? Uh, maybe. But this—this is going to be fun, I think, for us, you know?”

David wrapped an arm around Patrick’s shoulders. He could feel a slight tremor in David’s body. Patrick wished he could absorb the nervousness out of David’s body.

Knock knock!

They turned around to the sound of Alexis knocking on David’s helmet. Ted was close behind.

“David! You look so cute under there!” Alexis said chipperly. “Like a tiny toadstool man or a little acorn person or something.”

“Hey! So glad you guys could make it,” Ted greeted them.

“I hope you didn’t have to like, rearrange your daily schedule or anything,” she said. Even if Ted and Alexis’s relationship was in the dumps, Alexis and David’s sibling rivalry was still going strong.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Patrick replied. “We just agreed to finish doing the inventory tomorrow.”

“That’s the sensible decision,” she said.

“Yeah,” David replied.

Alexis then kissed Ted full on the lips in a gross display of affection. It wasn’t that Patrick didn’t have anything against straight couples (he was in one for so many years after all), but he still didn’t care to watch them make-out.

“It looks like they’re really enjoying each others’ company,” Patrick murmured to David. They didn’t seem to have any tension…

“Yeah, they fake it well,” David whispered back.

This needed to end.

“I actually did one of these at summer camp,” Patrick said, including Alexis and Ted in on the conversation and to make the awkwardness stop.

“Yeah, and I couldn’t imagine who wouldn’t want to dangle 20 feet in the air on a series of shaky logs,” David added.

“It’s actually closer to 30 feet, bud,” Ted corrected him with a big smile. Patrick laughed. David was so screwed.

“David’s never done anything like this before,” Patrick told him.

“Uh oh! We got a virgin!” Ted said humorously through clenched teeth. Alexis seemed delighted in this fact.

David laughed uncomfortably.

“Okay, you might want to talk to half my Birthright trip about that,” he said bitterly. Patrick flinched. He would never get used to hearing about how many people David’s slept with. Just when he thought he nailed down a number, David would bring up more.

“Welp, you wanna go first, babe?” Ted asked Alexis cheerily.

“Hundred, babe,” she replied before sticking her butt out for Ted to slap.

Straight couples were weird.

“Oh! Okay, there we go,” Ted said.

Alexis shuffled past David and Patrick to get to the ladder, shoving David in particular out of the way. She smirked and clipped onto the ladder to begin the climb. As she disappeared up the ladder, Ted stepped forward to Patrick and David.

“You feeling okay, David?” he asked. “You’re looking a little flushed.”

“Yeah, I’m just using a new tinted moisturizer. That’s all, so…” David answered hollowly. It wasn’t a tinted moisturizer. Everyone knew that.

Patrick patted David on the back, hoping he could bring any sort of comfort without blowing up David’s spot.

“I’m… I guess I’ll go,” David said, laughing uncomfortably as he struggled to pull his carabiner out from the harness.

“Alright,” Ted said as he stepped back to give David room.

“This’ll be a fun adventure for us,” David repeated, more for himself than Patrick.

“Yeah,” Patrick said.

He knew it was going to be a nightmare.

David stepped up to the ladder, struggling with his rope and carabiner.

“Get the clip off and you’re ready to go,” Ted instructed.

David did as he was told, and began the climb.

From above, Alexis called down, “Babe!”

She waved cheerily from the platform, a big smile on her face.

“Whoa! Great job, babe!” Ted replied.

Patrick was suddenly very grateful David put the kabosh on pet names.

“David!” she said, still waving.

David ignored her as his focus was completely devoted to the ladder.

“David!” she repeated.

“STOP,” David said angrily.

They weren’t even on the platform yet and Patrick knew this was going to be a long day.


 

The ropes course was going exactly as expected. Alexis and Ted went first, continuously calling each other ‘babe’ and being obnoxiously supportive of one another. The last time Patrick experienced that he was six years into a relationship he knew he shouldn’t have been in yet double-downed because it wasn’t Rachel’s fault he was gay.

Meanwhile, Patrick was worried David was going to faint and fall off the first platform.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” David choked out.

“David, we don’t have to do this if you’re not actually okay,” Patrick assured him, rubbing his back soothingly.

“No, we have to do this,” he replied seriously.

“Do you want to go first?”

“Why don’t you go first?” David said. “Then I won’t be holding you up and you won’t see me plummet to my death.”

“You’re not going to die.” Patrick gave him a peck on the cheek before clipping onto the course itself.

The course wasn’t too difficult. It required a bit of balance and core strength, as one had to balance on a wooden beam while holding onto other wooden beams and of course nothing was sturdy. Once he got the hang of it, Patrick moved as quickly as Alexis and Ted, who had landed with a cheer on the next platform.

The rope quivered behind him. David shakily joined the course, moving much slower than the other three.

“Lookin’ good, Patrick!” Ted called out.

“David, you look Mom when we were in Madrid and she forgot to bring her benzos,” Alexis yelled to her brother.

“I should never have bought you back from that Saudi prince!” David yelled back.

Patrick stepped off the course and onto the platform to join Ted and Alexis. He was finally able to see the progress David was making.

It was… not good.

He was stuck at a slow shuffle, looking down at the ground far too much.

“You can do this, David!” Patrick shouted. “Just one step at a time.” His heart went out to David and he so badly wished he could help.

“You’re looking pretty shaky there, David,” Ted remarked. “Really hope we didn’t ‘rope’ you into something here.”

Ted’s puns were definitely not appreciated in the moment.

“Hey David, just pretend you’re in like, a super dangerous walk-and-turn sobriety test,” Alexis suggested gleefully.

“Yeah, okay, I don’t like this!” David said, terror in his voice.

“Well, okay, then turn around,” Patrick said, perhaps unhelpfully. He was near the middle of the course and going back would be just as much as going forward.

He turned to Ted and Alexis.

“Why would he agree to do this when he’s afraid of heights?” he asked them.

“He’s not afraid of heights,” Alexis corrected him. “He’s afraid of moths and butterflies.”

“And business women in sneakers!” Ted added.

“I can hear you!” David yelled in frustration.

“And also heights!” Patrick said defensively. He distinctly remembered the conversation when they needed to clean the sign out front and David flatly refused to climb the ladder. It was almost always about some ex he had. While Patrick loved to learn more about David, there was something about having to constantly hear about all the other people David had been with that made his stomach churn. “Something to do with him being broken up with while he was…?”

Alexis’s eyes widened.

“…parasailing in the Seychelles,” she said, concerned. “He and Anderson Cooper were stuck up there for like, three hours until the wind died down. I totally forgot!”

She grunted in frustration.

“I’m sorry, David!” she yelled.

“Huh?” came David’s bewildered response.

“I’m sorry! You were right, the quiz was rigged.” Alexis was fretting over what she had done.

“What?!” David said, shocked.

“What quiz?” Ted asked.

“David took this relationship quiz and it said that his relationship was like, in need of some excitement,” she explained.

Now it was Patrick’s turn to be stunned and angry.

“What?!” he said.

“David, I lied!” Alexis continued. “I took the quiz like, fifteen times. ‘In Need of a Generator’ is like, the only answer you can get.”

“Oh my god!” David said.

“Okay, I don’t know what this is about, but this—” Ted said, gesturing to him and Alexis. “—generator is running smoothly.”

Patrick was still in shock. David believed a stupid quiz that said their relationship was boring. Sure, they had a routine, but from what Patrick could tell, they both loved the routine. It was warm and comfortable. It made all the non-routine things so much more exciting.

 “So,” Patrick called out to David. “We’re doing all this so that you can prove our relationship is exciting?!”

David was moving faster on the course, like he was trying to just reach Patrick.

“I failed the stupid quiz and Alexis made me feel bad about it,” he explained. There were so many things wrong with what was going on right now, but the least surprising was that this all stemmed from Alexis messing with David.

“David, you’re basically 40 years old. I shouldn’t be able to make you feel bad about anything,” Alexis said defensively.

David ignored her. For the first time, his eyes weren’t locked on the ground, but on Patrick.

“I love our relationship,” David confessed.

David saying ‘love’ regarding Patrick would never not make his heart skip.

“I love it when you order me pizza…”

David had a complicated order, but it was somewhat melodious once Patrick got it down. And he always remembered to ask for extra cheese when David would consistently forget.

“I love it when you use words like ‘inventory’…”

That was a new one. Then again, David seemed to come onto him more after talking business.

“I even love those stupid rubber things you put on your fingers ‘cause you think they flip the pages faster,” David said. “They don’t flip the pages faster.”

He was at the platform, ready to be hauled up.

“They don’t flip the pages faster!” he repeated as Patrick helped him up onto the steady surface.

Patrick pulled David in for a hug. He was so proud of him. Not only did he conquer one of his fears, Patrick had never heard so many confessions about their relationship fall from David’s lips. He tried to keep their relationship fresh and interesting, but having a routine was part of running a business. They had to stay consistent and that meant many days without excitement.

Yet David loved those things. He loved the mundanity. He basically described a typical Friday for them and it made Patrick’s heart swell to know David loved every aspect of their relationship because Patrick did too. There was no part of being with David that Patrick hated. (Well, except when he’d let Alexis get under his skin. They were working on it.)

David was slowly learning to be selfless – a long process – and this was huge for him. He was willing to stand up to his biggest fear in the hopes that it would keep Patrick interested in him. Lucky for David, they didn’t need to do things like this because Patrick was so madly, deeply in love with him.

“I’m so sorry,” David exhaled as he quaked in Patrick’s arms.

He drew back enough to look at his boyfriend.

“We’re gonna talk about the fact that we missed half a day of work to make this happen,” Patrick said sternly, but he couldn’t keep it up. “But you did just do a tree-walk 30 feet in the air for us.”

“Yes, I did,” David said, nodding and smiling.

They kissed. Patrick was so proud of his boyfriend for what he just did and touched at the cause. He loved David so much.

“Alright, guys,” Ted said excitedly. “That’s one rope down, seven courses to go.”

David’s face fell.

“Hey…” Alexis said as she reached out to touch David, who flinched.

“Don’t touch me,” he said.

She did it again.

“No!”


 

They finished the course, and Patrick and David were both physically and mentally exhausted.

David did better on the rest of the course than that first one though not by much. He was still slow and shaky, but he was more proactive in moving across the ropes.

Perhaps it was the unspoken incentive that Patrick would kiss him the moment he reached the platform. Perhaps it was the drive to just get on the damn ground.

After they had returned their equipment and said their goodbyes to Alexis and Ted, Patrick and David walked back to Patrick’s car, holding hands in companionable silence.

“That was fun,” Patrick said.

“Mm, I think you and I have different definitions of ‘fun’,” David said.

Patrick smiled.

“I think Alexis and Ted have different definitions of ‘fun’ than we do,” he corrected him.

David hummed in agreement.

The sun was still up, and the store was closed. They were free from obligations until the morning. Maybe the afternoon of spontaneity could keep giving…

“You know, we are done earlier than normal Friday nights,” Patrick pointed out suggestively. He let go of David’s hand to instead wrap an arm low on his waist, his fingers pressing lightly David’s upper buttock.

“Do you have something in mind?” David asked, catching on.

“Mm.” Patrick leaned in to whisper in David’s ear. “Maybe we could go back to my place and I could do some inventory on your body? Maybe with my mouth?”

David inhaled sharply.

“That may be the most ridiculous thing you have ever said,” David said, his voice low. “But I am very interested in that suggestion.”

“Good.” Patrick kissed David on the neck and felt him shiver.

Yup. Their definition of fun was way better.

Chapter Text

Like any normal person, Patrick hated the bank. There was always a long line, never enough tellers, and inevitably someone who had a complicated situation where they should really be sitting down with a financial professional, not a teller who makes $10 an hour. First Bank of Elmdale was where dreams went to die.

Patrick had been in line for the better part of an hour. Unfortunately, the register was low on cash on the first of the month, which meant everyone in the greater Elmdale area was there. He avoided busy bank days the best he could, but after a visiting high school softball team stopped by that morning and every player only had a $50 bill to purchase a $3 bottle of water, he had no choice.

“Next!”

Finally, he stepped up to the teller window.

“Hi, can I get 200 of this in tens, 200 in fives, and the rest in ones?" he said as he slid the stack of fifties through the slot.

The teller nodded and began counting.

Patrick’s phone rang.

It was David.

“Sorry, it’s my partner.”

“Take your time,” she said.

Patrick answered.

“Hey David, what’s up?”

Um, so I know that you’re trapped at the bank.

“You know, I just got up to the teller, so it shouldn’t be too long.”

So, um, there’s been a situation at the store…

“What kind of situation? Isn’t Stevie there? Can’t she help you with it?”

Um, well, she kinda did help with it, but in a bad way.”

Patrick grew worried.

“What happened, David?”

Okay, so I want to be very clear that I did everything I could to stop it—

“What happened, David?!”

We got robbed. And he had a weapon.”

What?! Are you okay?”

The teller looked up at him. He lowered his voice; he didn’t need the whole bank to know.

I’m fine, thank you. And Stevie’s fine too. We’re just, um, a little shaken up.”

“What happened?”

Well, a masked bandit just came in here and demanded we give him our money.”

“How much did you give him?”

You’ll be happy to know I didn’t give him anything out of the register.”

“Well, I don’t like the sound of that sentence.”

He did take some wine, tapenade, and a wheel of brie. And a jar of face cream. Oh, and put them in two of our cloth bags.”

“Those are weirdly specific.”

I know, right?

“I’m just, I can’t believe this happened.”

Me either.”

Patrick pinched the bridge of his nose. The teller slid the stacks of cash back to Patrick. He silently thanked her.

“Okay, well, I’ve got the change, so I’ll be right there.”

Oh my god, thank you,” David said, like he was finally exhaling.

“Of course, I love you,” Patrick assured him.

I love you too,” he replied. “Also, could you bring me a coffee? You know, as a comfort.”

“Sure, sure. Of course. I’ll see you in a bit, David.”

Bye, Patrick.”

Unbelievable.

This was the worst day.

He had to go to the bank.

The store had been robbed.

And now he had to call the police.


 

Coffees in hand, Patrick headed into the store. He was still in shock. How did this happen?

David and Stevie were standing at the front of the store, obviously waiting for him to arrive. They looked shaken. Patrick made a beeline to the counter to set the coffee tray down.

“I just can't believe this happened. I was gone for like, 45 minutes,” Patrick said. “You guys sure you're okay?”

Patrick handed David his coffee.

“Surprisingly, yes,” Stevie answered.

“Yeah, I’m not,” David said. “I’m very startled.”

David didn’t need his anxiety to be any higher. Patrick rubbed David’s back soothingly.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Patrick said. “I can understand taking the wine, but who steals a jar of tapenade? And the brie?”

“Yeah, the brie,” David said. “Stevie? The brie?”

“Well, at least we know if the cops don’t get him, his cholesterol will,” she joked.

“Well, there’s no need to keep talking about it now,” Patrick assured them. “You guys are gonna have to go through this all again in much more detail when the police get here.”

He needed to get their inventory paperwork and get their insurance papers from the file cabinet before the cops arrived.

“Yeah, I, um,” David said hesitantly. “I don’t know if going to the police is-is-is necessary at this point.”

“If we want any insurance money for the things that were stolen, we have to explain everything to the police.” It was simple. It’s why they paid for insurance.

“You know, I was pretty much in the back while all of this was going down, so,” Stevie said.

“Umm, I remember you being pretty involved, actually,” David said to her sharply.

Something else happened while he was gone and Patrick didn’t need to know.

“Yeah well, between the two of you, I’m pretty sure you can piece it together,” Patrick told them. David nodded dumbly in agreement.

“Yeah, right? So…” David said quietly. He was clearly not prepared to speak to the police.

Patrick disappeared to the back to get their papers. The police would be there soon, and he needed to figure out exactly what was taken. He opened a file cabinet and started to rifle through it, looking for their insurance paperwork.

He sighed. This was not at all what he wanted to do today. Or any day, really. It felt like such a violation. At least none of their money was stolen. The robber could’ve taken more things. Or worse, harmed David or Stevie.

Oh, that was something Patrick didn’t want to think about. He felt his stomach turn. He wouldn’t know what to do with himself if either of them – but especially David – had been hurt while he had been out.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, willing his stomach to settle and his imagination to stop creating the worst thoughts.

He felt a hand on his back, then arms circle his waist as David pressed up behind him. He hooked his chin over Patrick’s shoulder.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Patrick said unconvincingly. He could feel David waiting for him to continue. “I mean, what if something happened to you or Stevie? And I wasn’t here? I don’t think I could live with myself.”

“Hey,” David said gently, encouraging Patrick to turn in his arms to face him. “Nothing happened. We’re safe. Everything’s okay. I mean, other than our stuff getting stolen.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No, it was a random thing that happened, and I won’t let you blame yourself for it,” he said a bit more firmly. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They kissed.

“Hey guys, the policeman’s here,” Stevie called from the front of the store.

Patrick sighed.

“Guess it’s time to face the music, huh?”

“Mhm,” David said, nodding.

They exited the back room, paperwork in hand. Sure enough, there was a police officer at their front door.

“Hi, you must be the store owners?” the cop said.

“Uh, yes,” Patrick said. He extended his hand. “I’m Patrick Brewer, and this is my partner David Rose.”

“I’m the Rose from the sign,” David said unhelpfully.

The cop shook both of their hands.

“Now, who was here when the robbery took place?” he asked.

“Us,” Stevie chimed in from the corner, gesturing to herself and David. “We were the ones who were robbed.”

“Can I speak to you both over here?” the cop said. He pointed to the area on the opposite side of the store from the counter.

“You know, can we sit down for this? I’m still feeling a little shaken,” David said anxiously. The cop shrugged.

“Sure.”

“Great.”

Stevie and David grabbed chairs and sat down, ready to answer the cop’s questions. Patrick lingered near the counter to give them their space.

“Now, can you describe what the guy looked like?” The cop pulled out his notepad and pen.

“Um,” David began, immediately looking at Stevie. “He had on like, this thick shirt—”

“Was it a shirt?” Stevie asked.

“No, wait, sorry,” David laughed nervously. “Not a shirt. It was very flimsy for a sweatshirt, but it had a zipper. So, I guess it was sort of like a low-end, poly-blend sweatshirt in what I could only describe as an aubergine color?”

“And just in case he changes his outfit, do you have a rough idea of his physical description?”

“Right.” David looked at Stevie again. “Um, well, I guess my build?”

That’s being generous,” Stevie said wryly.

“If I was at my goal weight,” David replied defensively.

This was going off the rails quickly.

“Officer,” Patrick piped up. “they mentioned there was a weapon?”

The cop turned back to the pair.

“Can you describe the weapon?” he asked, his pen poised to record their answers.

There was a long pause before either of them spoke.

“Well, if there’s a weapon, it was concealed,” Stevie said.

“Yeah, so it’s sort of hard to describe a concealed weapon,” David added.

“Pfft, yeah,” she agreed. “If we could tell you what it looked like, he wouldn’t be doing a good job of concealing it.”

“Ha! Yeah!”

Both Stevie and David laughed, but Patrick could tell it was definitely forced.

This was getting fishier. They made the weapon sound like it was pointed at their heads or throats or whatever. But now Patrick was reconsidering if there was a weapon at all.

“So, let me get this straight,” the officer said. Patrick could tell he and the cop were on the same page. “you have no idea what it looks like, or whether there was one in the first place.” Hearing it aloud somehow made it worse for Patrick.

“You guys said you were held up,” he said, frustration creeping into his voice.

“Emotionally!” David exclaimed. “I mean, I don't know if there was a gun, but it was still a robbery! He was wearing a mask. And would we all not agree that words are weapons?”

Now Patrick was mad.

They lied to him.

Someone had come into the store, demanded money, and then when David said no, they offered other products instead. This person was probably doing the whole finger-gun-in-the-shirt thing for all Patrick knew.

“Okay, so you offered the wine, and you offered the cheese and the tapenade, and there was no gun,” he clarified. “This guy just sounds like a lucky customer, David.”

The cop crossed through everything he had written down. None of it could be used for an insurance claim.

“You know what?” the cop said. “I’m just gonna file this report and you can follow up if you have any more information.”

He made brief eye contact with Patrick before he exited the store. He never wanted to feel pity from a police officer before, yet here he was. Meanwhile, David and Stevie looked increasingly guilty as they silently sat in their chairs, avoiding eye contact with Patrick.

Patrick couldn’t believe it. He absolutely could not believe it. He somehow felt worse about this than he did when he thought it was an actual robbery.

He slowly strode closer to David and Stevie. The door closed before Patrick spoke.

“So, you upsold the robber,” he said bluntly. He felt like a parent scolding his children. Only difference is that it was his friend and his boyfriend. Worse than children. At least children wouldn’t have lied to him.

“I did not!” David argued. “I didn’t even tell him about the vintage wines we have in the back.”

“Oh,” Patrick replied sarcastically. Of course, that was David’s argument. Of course.

“Speaking of,” Stevie spoke up. “I think we should probably open one of those bottles just to calm the nerves.”

“I thought you had to go to work,” David said to her, annoyed.

Another silence fell over them. Liars didn’t deserve wine.

“Great, great stuff, you guys,” Patrick said, sarcasm dripping from every word. He needed to walk away from them to cool his head, so he returned to the back room where he could at least collapse onto the tiny loveseat they squeezed back there.

He couldn’t believe he thought for a second that an actual robbery had taken place. In retrospect, David didn’t seem that shaken on the phone. Had a gun actually been held to his head, he’s pretty certain that they would’ve called the police immediately instead of calling Patrick first.

Thank god they didn’t give the robber anything else. If anything, he only walked away with about $75 worth of products. The wine wasn’t cheap, but David at least had a point that it wasn’t the vintage wine in the back.

Oh, David.

While Patrick certainly had a bone to pick with Stevie, this was definitely all David’s fault. David had never been known to be cool under pressure; Patrick thought Stevie was better, but apparently, he was wrong. He tried to put himself in their shoes, being surprised with a potential armed robbery. Perhaps he was being too harsh. When he considered how he reacted to his first ever robbery (coincidentally at his first job, Rose Video), he reacted very similarly. But he wasn’t a pimply teenager anymore; he was an adult and knew better. And David and Stevie were adults too.

He should’ve had them sort out their story with him before he called the police. It would have saved them all the embarrassment.

Patrick closed his eyes in an attempt to ward off the impending headache.

There was a knock from the doorway.

“Can I come in? Or should I come back another time?”

Patrick cracked open an eye to see David anxiously twisting his rings.

“You can come in,” he mumbled.

David slowly approached and sat down next to Patrick on the loveseat. He took Patrick’s hand and twined their fingers.

“Stevie left,” David said. “She gave us twenty dollars for the stuff that was stolen.”

“Well, that definitely makes up for the stolen product and the lost sense of security,” Patrick said sardonically.

David didn’t reply. His eyes were fixed on their hands, his thumb gently soothing Patrick’s.

Patrick knew David wasn’t going to apologize. He was working on it, but it had to be prompted. There was no use continuing to be angry since there was nothing to be done now.

“You could’ve told me you panicked,” Patrick said softly.

“Well, I thought you’d’ve been proud to know I didn’t give him any of our money,” David said.

Patrick chuckled.

“I’m definitely glad you didn’t do that,” he replied.

“…but maybe I should’ve mentioned we realized after the fact that he didn’t have a weapon.”

“Maybe.”

David looked at him.

“Um, you know, I was thinking,” David began. “What if we increased security by installing one of those panic buttons under the counter that’s connected to the police so if this happens again—”

Patrick couldn’t help but smile. David’s anxiety had the best imagination.

“I don’t think we need a panic button just yet, David,” Patrick interrupted. “But we can figure out a system in case this happens again.”

“Sounds good,” David said, a gentle smile on his lips. He leaned over and kissed Patrick sweetly on the cheek. “I’m going to head back out there. Just come out when you’re ready.”

David gave him one more peck, then disappeared to the front room.

It wasn’t an apology, but it was close. Wanting to better himself for someone else was a pretty good start. Next step was teaching David how to stay calm under pressure. That was going to be a much, much longer process.

Chapter Text

David had spent the night again. It was one of those nights when they were closing up the store and David was hardcore flirting with him. Patrick loved that even though they’d been together for a year, David could still make their relationship feel fresh. He kept pressing himself against Patrick’s back and whispering in his ear the dirty things he wanted to do to him. Patrick all but dragged David back to his room at Ray’s to have sex with him.

It was fun – sex with David was always fun – but Patrick was so tired of having to stay quiet. He wanted to be loud and moan and shout and beg. He wanted to talk to David without being interrupted by Ray. But Ray was desperate for connection and had developed a terrible habit of bursting into his room unannounced, which shockingly had a negative effect on Patrick and David’s sex life.

Patrick talked to Ray. He told him at the very least he needed to knock. He told him that it was important to have some modicum of privacy and that knocking was very important to him.

It was only ever a matter of time until Ray came a’knocking.

Unlike David, Patrick was awake at 7am. He was an early riser much to David’s chagrin. He did his absolute best to be quiet and not disturb anyone. He’d been like this his whole life and had grown to relish the peaceful hours before the rest of the world woke up.

Patrick went downstairs, brewed a cup of a single-origin coffee David bought him for his birthday, then headed back to his room where David was still fast asleep. He carefully climbed back into bed and picked up his current reading selection – BIG Business Philosophy. It was his favorite business professor’s new book and was actually a pretty interesting read. Though, he did read a passage to David and watched his eyes glaze over in real time, so it was likely only interesting to him.

He cracked open the book and began to read, taking the occasional sip of his coffee. David shifted, stretching a bit, before rolling over and resting his temple tenderly against Patrick’s arm.

“I’m not awake,” David said, his voice thick from sleep. “But that coffee smells really good.”

“It’s single-origin from Ethiopia,” Patrick said proudly. “My sleepy boyfriend got it for me.”

“Mm, your sleepy boyfriend sounds great.”

“He is.”

David dropped a soft kiss on his arm before settling back down. Patrick’s heart fluttered.

God, he loved this man.

For everything David was, he made domesticity something really—

“Knock, knock! Everybody decent?”

Ray burst through their door, completely dressed and far, far too loud.

“Oh my god!” David exclaimed as he shot up from his cozy spot against Patrick.

Patrick prided himself on his patience. It’s probably half the reason he and David hadn’t broken up. David tested his patience all the time, but Patrick found it endearing. Ray, on the other hand, without realizing it, knew how to hit all of Patrick’s buttons at the same time. After the first month, his patience was gone. He had a difficult time telling Ray off because it wasn’t in him to be like that and Ray was always so chipper.

“Once again, Ray,” Patrick said passive-aggressively. “Saying ‘knock, knock’ is not the same thing as actually knocking.”

Ray blew right past that. “I’m just making breakfast, and I wanted to know if I should make extra for you two.”

“No, I think we’re good—” Patrick answered.

“Yes,” David said.

They looked at each other. Patrick knew David’s favorite hobby after fashion and googling popular actresses in the early 2000s was eating. He wasn’t sure David knew what he was inviting in.

“Great!” Ray said. “Door open or closed?”

“Closed,” both David and Patrick said.

Ray backed out of the room, closing the door as he went.

David turned to fully look at Patrick. If there was anyone who hated their lack of privacy more than Patrick, it was David. And David shared a room with his adult sister.

“Okay, I thought you were gonna talk to him about this. I let very few people see me before 9:00am,” David said.

“I did. The ‘knock, knock’ is him taking the note,” Patrick replied before taking a sip of coffee.

“Well, you might want to invest in a ‘lock, lock’ then,” was the response.

“Mm.”

Patrick had considered a lock, but since he never had long-term plans to stay at Ray’s, he never got around to it, always thinking that he was going to move out at some point.

David laid back down only to jolt back up with Ray bursting through their door again.

“Knock, knock!”

“Holy fuck!” David groaned in shock.

Patrick wished he had mind control powers only so he could keep Ray from doing this all the time.

“I realized I don’t have eggs, but I do have pancake mix. How do we feel about that?” Ray asked.

David hesitated before saying, “Four, please.”

“David, you’re constantly talking about how much you eat,” Ray continued. Why wasn’t he leaving?! “But I’ve seen you walk from the bedroom to the shower, and you look fine.”

Oh, dear god.

Patrick had never been so uncomfortable in his life. David preferred to shower at his place because it was a full shower as opposed to the motel’s tiny cubicle showers. He’d usually go from the bedroom to the bathroom and back with a towel wrapped around his waist. Ray had to be referring to that. Because if he was referencing the rare instances when they thought Ray was out and David went from room to room naked, than Patrick wanted to be swallowed by his bed and never reappear.

Yes, he was a bit possessive. Yes, Ray was straight. No, there wasn’t a threat, but Patrick also didn’t want anyone but him to see David’s body, especially when he’d been a little… overzealous in his affections toward his boyfriend.

They needed real privacy. The motel was out of the question since it was always crawling with Roses. They couldn’t keep bothering Stevie for her place since she split with Jake and refused to sleep at the motel. Patrick wanted to spend time with David – actual, intimate time – in a space where no one was going to walk in on them any time they liked.

Today was the final nail in the coffin: he needed to get his own place.

“Huh,” David said. Patrick could hear the discomfort in that one word.

“Okay, Ray,” Patrick cut in after David looked to him for help. “We-we might need a minute.”

“Of course,” Ray said. “Door open or closed?”

“Closed,” Patrick answered with a tense smile.

Ray exited once more, closing the door behind him.

David looked at him like he hated that exchange as much as Patrick did. He mouthed a ‘wow’ at him. Patrick shut his book and dropped it on the bedspread in exasperation.

“Okay, this is not working anymore,” he said. “I think it’s time we look for an apartment.”

“Oh,” David said. “Okay, I mean if that’s what you want.”

“Well, I think it’s more of a need at this point, David. I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”

He thought of it every time Ray interrupted them, every time they resorted to back room blowjobs, every time Stevie offered her place. A few months before, he realized he’d never lived on his own. He went from his parents to a dorm to living with Rachel to living with Ray. Maybe it was finally time to see how he did by himself. Well, by himself when David wasn’t there, which Patrick suspected would be nearly 24/7.

“Oh.”

The door handle turned.

“Gentlemen,” Ray said excitedly as he entered their bedroom again. “You’re gonna laugh, but I just remembered, we do have eggs. They’re in the pantry, next to the pancake mix, which means they’ve been sitting out for days. Are we feeling lucky?”

“Can I still have the pancakes?” David asked.

“Yes!”

And then Ray left.

“Ray!” Patrick called out.

Ray came back in.

“Patrick?”

“Door closed,” he said tightly.

“Of course.”

The door closed for hopefully the last time.

“Yeah, I support finding a new place,” David said immediately.

“Yup,” Patrick agreed, downing the rest of his cold coffee.


 

Patrick dropped David off at the motel before heading to the store. He knew David might be a minute since there seemed to be activity happening given Alexis’s extremely sparkly dress. Thankfully, Wednesday morning wasn’t a peak shopping time, so when David inevitably took his time, Patrick would be okay by himself.

In fact, it was better that he was alone at the store because it gave him a chance to check some of the local listings for apartments. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t many options in Schitt’s Creek, but the two that were in his price range didn’t look too bad. And one had a number of photos that made it look viable. It looked spacious for a studio and he figured he wouldn’t need that much space for just him and occasionally David.

Since the store was empty, Patrick figured he’d call the number on the listing to schedule a viewing.

“Ray Butani, real estate agent extraordinaire,” said a familiar voice.

Patrick looked at his phone. He swore he hadn’t meant to call Ray.

“Hey Ray, it’s Patrick,” he said awkwardly. “Did you get a new phone number?”

“Oh, I read it can help with business if people can’t recognize your phone number since they’ll think you’re someone new.”

“That can’t be right.”

“What can I help you with, Patrick?”

Patrick took a deep breath. It was like he was about to break up with Ray.

“I, uh, I found one of your, um, apartment listings online,” Patrick explained. “I’m… I’m moving out, Ray.”

“That is fantastic to hear, Patrick,” Ray said with no change in inflection. Patrick just told him he was moving out and yet Ray was completely indifferent. This was not the reaction he was anticipating.

“Oh, yeah. So, um, I was hoping I could check out the—” He wanted to quote the paper exactly. “’Spacious 1Bed Penthouse with Private Bathroom’. Why specify ‘private bathroom’?”

“Well, why don’t I show you later this afternoon?” Ray asked. “I can fit you in between my photography sessions at 2 o’clock.”

They could close the store early today. This was important – way more important than going on a high ropes course to prove the strength of their relationship.

“Um, sure! That sounds great,” Patrick said.

“See you at 2, Patrick.”

“Talk to you—”

Ray hung up the phone before Patrick even finished saying goodbye. He was entirely too used to this behavior and he was ready to be done with it.

Patrick smiled. He was going to look at his potential first apartment.

10:45am: I talked to Ray and got an apartment showing today!
10:45am: 56 Wildflower St Apt 5
10:46am: That’s near Stevie
10:46am: And today?
10:46am: Someone told me that we need to keep a strict schedule for the store to build customer loyalty.
10:47am: That someone also wants to find an apartment we can have loud sex in.
10:47am: And what time is this showing?
10:48am: 2pm
10:54am: I’ll meet you there. Apparently there’s a VVIP here at the motel and Alexis won’t let me leave until the coast is clear.
10:55am: Sorry I’m not coming in today
10:55am: I understand. Love you.
10:55am: Love you too


 

Patrick leaned against his Hyundai, waiting for David. He was running late, as per usual.

It wasn’t long until the loud engine of the Rose family announced David’s arrival. He quickly exited the vehicle and hurried to Patrick’s side.

“I see your warden let you out?” Patrick quipped before David kissed him hello.

“Alexis told me I would ‘ruin the vibe with my energy’ if I left before she said I could,” David explained. “She basically barricaded the door and threatened to kill me in my sleep.”

“Siblings are fun, aren’t they?”

“Mm, so fun,” David replied sarcastically.

They headed inside.

“So, this is a penthouse?” David asked as they climbed the stairs.

“Supposedly,” Patrick replied.

“What does he mean by ‘private bathroom’? When is a bathroom not private?”

“When the toilet is in the middle of the room.”

“And how often have you seen that?”

“David, it’s going to be fine,” he assured him as they reached the third floor and headed down the hallway toward the place. “I’ve actually seen a few photos of this place. It looks pretty good.”

“Yeah, the façade would indicate otherwise,” David said. “But I trust you on this, so.”

They stopped in front of apartment #5 where Ray was waiting for them. Patrick could feel the gravity of this step finally hitting him.

“You know, when I moved here and got a room with Ray, I didn’t know how long I was going to be staying,” he said.

“Mhm…”

When he moved to Schitt’s Creek, he was running away from his relationship with Rachel. He saw Schitt’s Creek as just one stop on the way to him becoming himself. It was supposed to be his halfway house.

But then he met David and he didn’t want to be anywhere else. One month turned into six which turned into a year… He was staying. For as long as David was here, Patrick was here. It was time to put down roots.

“And now, here we are,” Patrick said. He felt his heart bursting out of his chest. He was far, far too excited to start this new chapter of his life.

“For me, this is bittersweet,” Ray said, cutting in. “Because on the one hand, I could lose you as a roommate, Patrick. But on the other, I would gain the commission.”

And there it was. Patrick knew there was something to why Ray wasn’t devastated to hear he was moving out.

Ray led them into the apartment and Patrick all but fell in love with it. The small kitchen to the left, the tall ceilings, the fireplace. God, he could have a fireplace.

“As you can see, this is an open concept,” Ray said.

“Oh, wow,” Patrick said in awe. “It’s good, eh, David?”

He couldn’t stop looking around. He liked what he saw online, but now he could picture furniture of his choosing filling up the space. His bed with two nightstands over there, a dining room table for six over here, a comfortable couch where he could cuddle with David right in front of the fire. The possibilities were endless.

“I thought this was the penthouse?” David said to Ray.

“Uh, it is the top floor of three floors,” Ray replied.

“You said this was a one-bedroom.”

“It is, in the sense that it’s a one-bed room. Any more beds and you’d be in trouble,” Ray said, enjoying his little joke. “Although, bunkbeds can be fun.”

Patrick had wandered over to the fireplace, which was the first thing people would see when they came in.

“Fireplace?” he said, more of a question to David.

“Yeah, which I’m sure would heat the room quite quickly, considering it’s just one big open space,” said David in return.

Patrick touched the brick and imagined filling the mantle with pictures of them and their families and friends. In the winter, they could light a fire and watch a movie, or just cuddle and spend time together. And, well, Patrick would be interested in sex in front of the fireplace too…

“I like the exposed brick,” was all he said before walking away to let his fantasy take him elsewhere in the apartment. “It’s actually a pretty decent size.”

“Yeah,” David said. He turned to Ray. “Speaking of size, Ray, I’ve yet to see a closet. Is there a… is there a walk-in that I’m missing?”

“Oh, the closet is right over here.” Ray walked over to a set of slatted doors and opened them to reveal a closet that was big enough for maybe a fourth of David’s sweater collection. Ray stepped into it, crouching down a bit. “This is what small-space realtors refer to as a ‘step-in’ closet.”

Patrick didn’t have as many clothes as David, so the closet would be perfect for him. Worst case, he could buy an armoire. He came up beside David and held his shoulders.

“What do you think, David? It’s pretty perfect, huh?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s pretty. Y-yeah,” David said uncertainly.

“May I show you the kitchen?” Ray asked, gesturing toward the space behind him.

“I think you’ve just done it,” David replied with an uneasy smile. “Patrick, can we side-bar over here?”

He took Patrick’s hand and led him away from Ray and the closet.

“I mean, I know it’s like the first place that we’ve looked at, but there’s just something very homey about it to me.”

And it would be so much more of a home once he moved all his things in and he could spend quiet nights alone with David…

“Yeah, a sentiment shared by inmates, after their first couple years in jail.”

“Okay, so you hate it.” Patrick didn’t understand why David was so hesitant about this. Yes, he’d be there a lot, but it wasn’t his apartment. Couldn’t he just be happy that Patrick may have found his new place?

“No! No,” David denied. He put his hands on Patrick’s shoulders as he was wont to do. “No, it’s just if I’ve learned anything from ‘House Hunters’, you always have to see the loft space, the charming English cottage, and the renovated craftsman that you don’t really wanna take, but the producers are gonna force you to see it anyway, before you make any major decisions.”

Patrick rarely watched ‘House Hunters’, and David always got mad at him when he’d correctly predict which house they’d choose each time. He’d say he wasn’t properly envisioning the possibilities of a space, when really Patrick knew it was all staged and went with what he thought suited the couple best.

“Gentlemen, I have one more thing to show you,” Ray interrupted.

“How are we still on this fucking tour?” David asked under his breath.

“Just…” Patrick said. David needed to let Ray be Ray so they could get out of there faster and not ruin this potential deal.

Patrick met Ray at the small blue curtain, David close behind.

“You’ll thank me later,” Ray said. “But uh, no more worrying about door open, door closed. All you have to do is open the curtain…”

He thrust open the curtain. David gasped.

“…to the bathroom!”

Oh, dear god.

“Ray, can we just have a moment?” David asked.

“Absolutely. I’ll just wait in the bathroom.” He stepped into the small room before asking jokingly, “Curtain open or curtain closed?”

“Oh, closed.”

“Closed, I think.”

And with that, Ray closed the curtain.

“Don’t worry, we’ll be putting a door on there,” Patrick assured him. He was certain there were videos on YouTube on how to install a door.

David placed his hands on Patrick’s shoulders.

“But I don’t know if I wanna put a door on the bathroom!” David said. “I don’t know if I love this place. And I’m not just saying that because the lack of closet space will inevitably force us to break up, I just sorta feel like… if we’re going to be moving in together, we should both be totally on board.”

Oh.

David thought…

Oh.

“I totally understand, David.”

“Good.”

“It’s just that I was looking at this place like… just for me,” Patrick said uncomfortably. He felt like he was slamming a door in David’s face.

“Oh,” David said softly. “Okay, it’s just that you had said that we were going to see p-places.”

“Right, yeah, so like more of a general ‘we’,” he corrected. He really should’ve been clearer. “Because I knew that you’d be staying over here quite a bit, and that you’d probably have an opinion about it.” And boy was Patrick right about that one.

“Sure. Well then, you know, in that case, if this is just for you, and occasionally me…” David said. Patrick chuckled. He could hear the recalculations happening in David’s head. “I think it’s cute.”

“Wait, does this mean that you were ready to move in with me?” Patrick asked cheekily.

David wanted to live with him. He was looking at this apartment as a space they were going to share together. He was envisioning them entering this space as a couple. It was a big deal for normal couples and an even bigger deal for David. Patrick’s heart was so warm knowing that David was ready to make that next step with him.

“No,” David said unconvincingly.

“No? Hm.”

“No, it’s a closet space and a timing thing.”

“Uh-huh. Yeah.”

“So… you know, maybe we can negotiate down the line… at some point.”

“Hm.”

Patrick was barely containing his joy. He knew this place wasn’t for the two of them. He never envisioned living with David in a small studio apartment. He wanted to buy David a big beautiful house with whatever he wanted inside. Patrick didn’t need much. He just needed David to be there with him.

“I can barely hear your conversation,” Ray interjected, then pushed back the bathroom curtain. “Are we sure we want the door?”

David and Patrick looked at each other.

“Are we sure?” David whispered.

“Up to you,” Patrick replied.

“Yes, we want the door,” he confirmed.

“Well, alright!” Ray said, finally exiting the bathroom. “Are we looking to sign papers today or…?”

“Uh, we’re gonna think about it?” Patrick said. “Maybe try sleeping on it?”

“You know where to find me when you’re ready,” Ray said. “I have a long list of people who are dying to get into this apartment—”

“That can’t be true,” David mumbled.

“—But I will save it just for you, my favorite roommate.”

“Thanks, Ray.”

They left the apartment building and said their goodbyes to Ray. Patrick walked David to his car, hand in hand. He drew David into his arms and leaned against the vehicle.

“Do you really like the place?” Patrick asked.

David looked over Patrick’s shoulder to the building behind him.

“For you, yes,” David said sincerely. “I wasn’t joking about the closet space when we find our place together.”

“Oh, I’m aware.”

David smirked.

“You know?” he said. “It’s kinda sexy, you getting your own place.”

“Yeah?”

“Mm. It’s the same as what we’re doing now – which I love, by the way – except we can make dinner for only two people, we can watch movies on a screen larger than a laptop, we can—”

“You’re burying the lede, David.”

“—have sex as loud as we want…”

“That’s what I was looking for,” Patrick said softly before kissing David. “And since it’s my apartment, I can decorate it with all my baseball paraphernalia in storage.”

“Not if you want to keep having sex with me.”

“Heard.”

They kissed again.

Patrick was excited for his potential new apartment, but he was more excited for the day they’d finally move in together. And that day seemed closer than he imagined.

Chapter Text

Around 4pm, David left with Stevie on a road trip to a botanical garden in Elm Valley to see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. He’d been so excited, talking non-stop about everything related to cherry blossoms: vacations, famous art, lotions, a drag queen named Cherry Blossom. He stocked up on snacks and candy for the ride and had packed his bags days before. David was ready to spend some alone time with his best friend where heartbreak wasn’t involved.

That meant Patrick had to stay behind.

He was okay with it. Obviously, he’d prefer to be with his boyfriend, but he knew how important quality time was with friends, something David didn’t have before Schitt’s Creek. And Stevie seemed excited too, an emotion Patrick wasn’t sure she was able to feel. He was happy for them to have this time.

It also gave him a chance to finally get some bookkeeping done without distractions. He’d fallen behind on paying some of their suppliers. Of course, not too terribly behind, but he didn’t want to sully their relationships and people deserved to be paid their share.

Since he didn’t have plans, Patrick decided to spend the evening in his room at Ray’s (with the door decidedly locked ). He poured himself a glass of scotch, fluffed his pillows, popped in his earbuds and put on a playlist David made for him, and settled in with his laptop and paperwork to work.

Time flew by. Strange as it seemed, Patrick enjoyed himself, writing checks and paying PayPal invoices. It was lame, but it was meditative, and it made him feel better knowing that once David got back from his trip with Stevie that everything would be up to date. David had an uncanny ability to interfere with Patrick's plans.

Not that David was the problem, but Patrick would always pick making out with David over paying invoices. Making out with David was fun. He was so talented with his lips and hands and always made Patrick desperate for more. As much as he hated hearing about David’s exes, he was so grateful for his experience because left to his own devices, Patrick would never have learned how much he loved being rimmed.

Oh, but now Patrick was getting distracted. He got lost in his memory of David rimming him for the first time, how he felt so slutty, his legs spread wide and his ass in the air. He could feel the stirrings in his pajamas as he recalled the way David’s beard scratched his skin as he licked into his hole—

Just then, his phone rang.

It was David.

Did he know Patrick was thinking about him?

“Hi, David,” he said warmly.

“Hi, Patrick,” David replied. “I miss you.” His speech was slightly slurred.

“Has Stevie been feeding you drinks?”

I’ve been feeding me drinks. Stevie ran off with Emir hours ago.”

“Emir? The motel review guy?”

“Turns out, she tricked me!” David said, his slurring only getting worse the more excited he got. “She told me we were going to the botanical garden and really she just wanted company for a sexual rendezvous! We didn’t even see the cherry blossoms. And now I’m alone in the hotel room.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, David.”

“But it’s okay because I got to do like, 3 hours of karaoke at the hotel bar.”

Patrick smiled and put his laptop off to the side. He sunk back into his pillows.

“David Rose doing karaoke?” he said, utterly amused. “That’s something I’d love to see. I bet you’re good.”

“Mm, not as good a singer as you,” David purred.

Patrick felt the heat in his belly return.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Mhm. I love it when you sing to me.”

Patrick blushed. He knew it was true, but David had never said it so bluntly before.

“I’ve been thinking about you all night,” David continued.

“I’ve been thinking about you, too.”

“What are you wearing?”

Patrick’s heart started to race.

“Uh, just my pajama pants.”

“Mm…”

“What-what are you wearing?” Patrick asked nervously.

“Absolutely nothing,” David replied smoothly.

Patrick was not expecting this. They’d never done phone sex before. Hell, Patrick had never done phone sex before period. Rachel had tried to start it with him, but he couldn’t get into it. But this? He was here for this.

“I think you should take them off,” David said confidently.

As he requested, Patrick removed his pajama pants and dropped them to the floor. He was now completely naked, his semi-firm cock resting against his thigh.

“Okay,” Patrick said. “They’re off.”

“Mm, wish I was there right now. You’re so fucking hot naked.”

“Yeah?”

“Fucking hottest person I’ve been with.”

That was high praise coming from a guy who used to fuck models and celebrities.

“I love your big, strong arms, your abs, your thick thighs, your cock.” David moaned. “Fuck, I love your cock.”

Patrick didn’t know how to reply, but his hand did drift down to take his now completely hard cock in hand.

“Love sucking you off,” he continued. “Fuck, you taste so good cumming down my throat.”

Patrick gasped sharply. David was so good at blowjobs. He was pretty sure he’d never cum faster than when his dick was in David’s mouth. He should probably say something, right?

“Your lips look so good around my cock,” Patrick finally said, his voice thick with desire.

“Your big, hard cock?”

“Mhm.” Patrick closed his eyes to let himself get into it. “Especially when you’re on your knees. And-and I can grab your hair—”

Fuck, yes…”

“—And fuck your mouth.”

David moaned loudly. It was music to Patrick’s ears.

“Fuck, I’m so hard for you right now,” David said. “Are you hard for me?”

Patrick squeezed his cock, the bright moment of pain preventing him from cumming right then.

“So hard, David.”

“Tell me what you want, Patrick,” David said, his voice dark and sexy. “What do you wish I was there doing to you right now?”

He thought back to the fantasy he had right before he called. He let out a whine in frustration. Imagining these things was one thing, telling your partner just how much you wanted their tongue in your ass was another.

“Rimming me,” he admitted, the words sticking in his throat.

“Fuck, yes,” David groaned. “Fuck, you’re so fucking desperate for my mouth, aren’t you?”

Yes.”

“Are you on your stomach?”

“No.”

“Roll over.”

Patrick did as David commanded. Without thinking, he immediately got into position: legs spread wide, ass in the air, desperately seeking attention. He grabbed the pillows and rut his cock against the sheets.

“Okay,” he said, then whispered, “Fuck, I need your tongue, David.”

David let out an uneasy breath that ended in a whine.

“God, you look so good like that,” David said, his voice so tight. “Can-can you show yourself to me?”

Patrick knew what he meant. He reached back and grabbed his ass, spreading his cheeks apart. The cool air of the room blew across his hole, making him shiver.

“David…”

“Fuck, wanna shove my tongue in your ass, make you cum from just my mouth,” David growled. It sounded like he was close. “Your tight hole getting so loose from my tongue fucking you, yeah. Just eat you out until you’re begging me to let you cum...”

Yes, David.”

His hips dropped to the sheets and he was rutting helplessly, seeking friction as he listened to his boyfriend babble filthily in his ears.

“Open you up just enough with my tongue that you’re wet and loose for my cock…”

Yes, gimme your cock.”

“Fuck you so good—”

“Fuck me, David—”

“Fuck your tight hole with my cock—”

“Yeah, yes—"

“Fuck, Patrick, fuck—"

“David, David please—"

Patrick sobbed. It was too much. He was gripping the sheets and humping his bed like he was possessed, like David was really there and fucking him into the mattress.

“Fuck, fuck, I’m gonna cum, Patrick—”

Patrick heard David’s strangled cry as he came on the other end of the line.

That was it.

He gasped and came messily onto his sheets.

As he heard David coming down, his breath evened out and he could feel his entire body twitching from orgasm. He rolled onto his back away from the wet spot.

Patrick let out a laugh. He never expected phone sex to be that intense.

“Fuck, that was so good,” David said. He could hear David smiling.

“Yeah.”

“Maybe I should go away more often.”

Patrick chuckled.

“Mm, as great as that was, I think I prefer you here.”

“Are you sure? Because Elm Valley is pretty nice. I’m considering moving here.”

Patrick smiled.

“I want you at home with me.”

“Mm, that does sound better. Besides, where else would I find such a hot piece of ass?”

Okay, that made Patrick laugh out loud. Despite that amazing round of phone sex, David was still very drunk.

“I think you should drink some water and go to sleep, David.”

“You don’t want to go for round two?”

Patrick looked at the streak of cum on his blanket.

“I have to change my sheets because someone made me cum really hard.”

“Damn right I did.”

Patrick smiled.

“I love you, David.”

“I love you, Patrick.”

“Sleep well and I’ll see you tomorrow when you get back.”

“Goodnight.”

“Night.”

Patrick hung up the phone and plucked out his earbuds. He relaxed back onto his bed, still in joyous disbelief at what just happened. David sure knew how to keep their relationship interesting. He loved him so much and couldn’t wait for him to get home.

But first, Patrick needed to clean his bed.

Chapter Text

For the first time in his life, Patrick finally had a place of his own. He and David had spent the better part of three weeks furnishing his new apartment. They bought new furniture and curtains and dishes and frames and basically anything they could find at the department store in Thornbridge. Even though David wasn’t officially living with him, Patrick knew if he didn’t let him help decorate, he’d never hear the end of it. Although, he did have to say no to a lot of David’s suggestions, such as a chandelier that easily cost their entire furniture budget and a piece of “art” that, no matter David’s protestations, Patrick thought looked like a giant penis. (“It’s an apartment, not a brothel, David. Put it back.”)

Once everything was in place, Patrick immediately began inviting people to his housewarming party. He wanted to share his space with his friends and acquaintances, the space he and David created where they could both feel comfortable escaping rude roommates and nosy family members. And that’s where they found themselves many mornings, curled up in Patrick’s bed after having a quiet evening together.

This morning was no different. It was the morning of the party, and Patrick awoke to see only David’s messy bed head above the covers. He grinned. There was still this smug satisfaction that settled in his stomach every time he woke up with David Rose in his bed. He had a gorgeous naked man lying next to him, who he had amazing sex with the night before. It was a once far-away dream made real.

Patrick ducked beneath the blanket to cuddle up to David, pulling himself closer to his sleeping form with a gentle hand on his back. He saw David’s lips twitch, a smile that betrayed his level of consciousness, before leaning in and kissing David tenderly. Immediately, David responded, humming happily as he drew Patrick close. It didn’t take long for David to transform their soft, sleepy kiss to slow, deep one as he directed Patrick to lie between his legs. Patrick had just woken up and already he felt drunk on David.

“Good morning,” Patrick said softly.

“Mm, good morning to you too,” David said sleepily.

David lured him back in for another kiss. He opened his legs just a fraction more and tilted his hips upward as if to suggest something. Patrick’s stomach swooped. He knew what David was doing. He could feel himself getting aroused by the small action and he could feel David was getting there too.

He reached down and ran his fingers over David’s hole, still lubed from last night. God, it would be so easy for him to slide back into him. David’s body opened so beautifully around him and oh, he was so pretty when he moaned. There was nothing stopping him from claiming this man again as his and only his.

He slipped two fingers into David with little resistance. David groaned, and his fingers gripped Patrick’s back in encouragement. It wasn’t long before Patrick pulled out his fingers, lined up his hard cock, and sunk his cock all the way into David.

David tipped his head back, breaking their kiss, and moaned deeply.

Patrick drew him in to kiss him again. They were deep, passionate kisses that only made Patrick’s cock harder. He fucked David nice and slow, barely pulling out, to simply enjoy the feeling of being inside him.

With a slight tilt of his hips, David was suddenly gasping. Patrick maintained the same angle to strike David’s prostate over and over. He kept at it as David’s fingernails bit into his skin and his heels dug into Patrick’s thighs.

“C’mon, baby,” Patrick whispered. “C’mon.”

“Patrick…!” David gasped quietly before he came messily between their stomachs.

Patrick fucked him through it as he quaked from orgasm. Once he’d come back into his own, David reached up and pulled Patrick in for another passionate kiss. Another few quick thrusts and Patrick came inside David. Everything slowed down as Patrick’s heart came back to a regular rhythm.

“Is this the wake-up call at Casa Brewer? Because I could get used to this,” David said playfully as he clenched around Patrick’s softening cock. “Starting the day with you inside me. It’s quite lovely.” Patrick chuckled. Sex without condoms was new for them, and they both really, really enjoyed it. Patrick was warmed by how much they trusted each other to eliminate that barrier.

“I think that could be arranged…” Patrick replied before leaning down for another kiss.

“It’s funny that now we have all this privacy and yet have not taken advantage of the opportunity to have loud sex every time,” David mused. Patrick pulled out but didn’t move off of David.

“You do know we don’t have to be loud every time we have sex, right?”

“Mm, but why else would you get an apartment to yourself if not to be loud? It’s why I moved out of my parents’ place when we were back in New York. My dad said if he could hear me having sex at one end of the mansion while he was at the other, I needed to find somewhere else to live,” he explained. “So, it’s a good thing you found this place because you’re even louder than me.”

Patrick feigned shock in a poor attempt to hide his embarrassment at being loud in bed. He had no idea when he started sleeping with David that he could be so vocal.

“So, uh, let’s stop talking about how loud I am—”

“Oh, no, I want to keep talking about it—”

“David—”

“God, you’re so hot when you beg me to fuck you—”

David —”

“You should probably give your neighbors more apology cookies—”

“David!”

David gave him a teasing grin.

“I love that you’re loud.” He leaned up and kissed Patrick.

“So now that we’ve determined I embarrass myself when we have sex, can we talk about tonight?” Patrick asked.

“What is there to talk about?” David said, rubbing Patrick’s arms. “You said that you didn’t want me to help with any of it. So, I scheduled breakfast with my family, which I’m going to be late to.”

“David, you’re always late.”

“Uh, I’m the most on-time person in my family.”

“I… actually believe that.”

“So, I’m just going to eat with my family, then I’ll head over to the store to work since you don’t want my help…”

Patrick felt a little guilty leaving David out of the planning, but seeing as it was his place, he wanted to throw the housewarming himself. David was taking it especially hard since he loved party planning.

“Well, I just want you to come and enjoy yourself tonight, okay?” Patrick said. “Just be my guest and not my co-host.”

“I hope you realize what you just said was offensive, but seeing as I can still feel your cum in my ass, I’m going to forgive you,” David said sarcastically.

“Uh huh.”

“Now, if you would excuse me, some of us have to get ready for work.”

Patrick held in laughter as he rolled off of David to let him out. He knew David was trying to guilt trip him. It wasn’t going to work. His theme was on point and the guest list was great. It was going to be a very fun party.


 

He spent the day cleaning and straightening things up in the apartment. With such a small space, Patrick needed to be sure his valuables were secure, and all of his paperwork was put away. There were some errands he needed to run – like purchasing booze, snacks, more booze – that he knew would be easier if David weren’t around. It meant less opinions and less second-guessing himself. This was his party, not David’s. And it was going to be a blast.

Patrick was puttering around the kitchen, pouring snacks in bowls when he heard keys jangling outside in the hall. The door unlocked and David entered. Patrick checked his watch. He had so completely lost track of time as he got ready that David closed the store without him. His guests were set to arrive in about an hour and there were still a few things to do.

“The store is still there, and nothing was stolen,” David assured him as he set his bag down near the door. He came over to Patrick and wrapped his arms around his shoulders. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Patrick said with a smile. They kissed.

“I’ll get out of your way,” David said, stepping back from him. “Don’t want to end up helping you with your party.”

Patrick rolled his eyes. David plopped himself down on the couch.

“You know I’m going to make you move furniture later, right?” Patrick said.

“I will do the absolute bare minimum.”

“I never expected anything more.”

Patrick opened the fridge and pulled out the tray of multi colored Jell-O shots he had made after David had left that morning. He slid the tray onto the table with the bowls of snacks. This apparently piqued David’s interest.

“Wow. What are those?” he asked in a sarcastic tone.

“These are party shots,” Patrick said simply.

“Hmm…”

“You ever had one before?”

“No, nope.” Patrick stared at him. They both knew that was a lie. “Fine. Once. Twice. Fine! I had a tray in Cancun.” That sounded more like it.

“Okay, well, they kinda go with my overall theme of good old-fashioned high school slumber party, so,” Patrick said. There had been a lot of parties in high school to draw ideas from.

“Mhm. I still don’t know why you were so quick to dismiss my theme idea,” David said.

“Where is anybody gonna find glass-blown Venetian masks around here?” Patrick asked seriously. “Besides, people are kinda excited about the high school idea.” Everyone sent him excited reaction gifs after he invited them. Since living in Schitt’s Creek, he’d learned people were really into theme parties, especially ones that encouraged binge drinking.

Patrick went back into the fridge to pull out more sodas.

“Okay, walk me through the high school idea,” David said as he got up to join Patrick in the kitchen. “Models and teen actors are just gonna lounge around in their bras and thongs, and take Polaroids of themselves all night?”

“What was your high school experience like?” Patrick asked incredulously.

There were times in their relationship when Patrick was reminded that their lives up until they met were wildly different. He always knew the Roses were wealthy, but then David would say things like this, and Patrick would remember just how rich they were.

“What was yours like?” David rebutted, as if Patrick was the weird one. “Besides, where are we gonna find a salad bowl of E this last minute?”

Patrick was suddenly very glad he had no idea where to even get E.

“You know, I think this could be kind of a—” Patrick said as he picked up a party shot and slung his arm around David’s shoulders, as awkward as it was. “—a fun opportunity for you to rewrite your past a little bit.” David never spoke highly of his time before Schitt’s Creek and Patrick was determined to make his life better.

“Mhm. It’s just that my parents have spent like, an astounding amount on therapy to try to do that already,” David said. “So, forgive me for not wanting to run back into the fire.”

“What happened to you?”

“Nothing, really, I just didn’t like it.”

Patrick gasped in mock surprise.

“Mm! Okay. Oh,” David said before Patrick surprised him with a strawberry Jell-O shot.

“Yeah.”

David considered it a moment before saying, “You might have to make more of those.”

“That’s right,” Patrick said, patting David on the shoulder.

“That’s very nice.”

Patrick was proud of his party shots. He‘d spent many days in college perfecting his recipe, so they weren’t too boozy but if someone wasn’t careful, they’d get wasted very quickly.

He tossed the cup in the trash and went to grab one of his own. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw David grabbing another two cups.

“David! What are you doing?” Patrick asked.

His boyfriend looked up at him like a raccoon caught by a flashlight.

“What?” David said defensively. “They’re so good, and you made so many!”

“They’re for the party—” He tried to take them out of David’s hands, but David quickly gulped one down, then the other.

“And what’s a high school party without a little pre-gaming?” David said before burping from swallowing the shots too fast.

“Okay, that’s the first shared high school experience I think we have.”

David took Patrick’s face in his hands.

“You are probably right about that,” he said. He kissed Patrick, then went off to get ready for the party.


 

The party was in full swing. The attendee list included folks Patrick had met through hosting the open mic night, the gym, a local business conference, suppliers, locals, and the usual suspects. Patrick was so excited to have everyone there and get to know some of them better.

He loved playing host and floating from group to group. And he especially enjoyed holding David’s had as he did it. Most of them knew they were together, but there was something particularly special about wearing coordinating pajamas – Patrick in blue, David bravely in white – and introducing him to the people who had only ever heard about him.

Once everyone seemed to have been greeted, it was just him and David.

“I think it’s game time,” Patrick said to him.

“Okay, I told you that I do not want to play any of these games because they only spell trouble for me,” David reminded him. “I have literally never had a good time playing a game at a party. Even the time I wound up playing chess with Stevie Nicks at the Grammys after-party. She dumped an entire glass of red wine over my head when she won.”

“David, they’re going to be fun! I never had a bad experience with any of these games.”

“Because you’re not a walking drama magnet.”

“Just play, David. For me?”

“…Fine.”

He kissed David before grabbing a wine bottle off the table and stepping to the center of the room.

“Alright, everyone!” Patrick said. “Thank you everyone for coming to my housewarming party. As some of you might not know, this is the first place I’ve had to myself even though we all know David will be here all the time.”

“Amen!” Alexis cheered, raising her glass. David shot her a dirty look as the room laughed.

“So, let’s get this started right and throw it back to high school with a game of Never Have I Ever!” he continued. “Everyone’s welcome to play. I’ll go first. Never have I ever been to New York City.”

A handful of people took a drink, including some he was surprised about. He passed the bottle to David and took his place right by the bathroom door.

“Okay,” he began. “Never have I ever, uh, um, oh! Never have I ever been sprayed by a skunk.”

Only three people drank: two from the gym and Stevie.

“Wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t step out of the way,” Stevie said, finally looking up from her phone. She had barely spoken to any of them since she arrived.

“Right, but then I would’ve been the one drinking and not you,” David replied. He passed the bottle to their organic toothpaste supplier, Andrea, before returning to Patrick’s side.

“Um, so this is gonna be dirty, guys!” she said cheerily. “Never have I ever had sex with a vegetable!”

Patrick scanned the room to see who was drinking and what he discovered was that his boyfriend was the only one.

“What?!” David said defensively. “My ex was really into eggplants. Don’t give me that look.”

The game continued and what Patrick learned was that David had done a lot more than he ever told Patrick.

“Never have I ever been on a yacht.”

David drank. (“Diddy’s yacht wasn’t all that great.”)

“Never have I ever eaten alligator.”

David drank. (“Much better than the giraffe we had.”)

“Never have I ever been in an orgy.”

David drank. (“I wasn’t even supposed to be there! They were just in my bedroom. Having sex. And I just wanted to go to bed.”)

David drank for nearly every single person who went up. It would’ve been easier to keep track of what David wasn’t drinking to. So far it was ‘participate in a tractor pull’ and ‘gone cow tipping’, neither of which surprised him.

“Never have I ever eaten something out of the trash!” Twyla said proudly. Why someone should be proud for never having eaten anything out of the garbage…

If he wasn’t right next to him, Patrick would have missed David silently sipping his whiskey diet.

Before he could say anything, Alexis was taking the wine bottle from Twyla and taking center stage. To absolutely no one’s surprise, she was wearing the sexiest pajamas of anyone at the party: a short pink negligee with teetering high heels. It made Patrick wonder again what the Rose siblings’ high school experience was actually like.

“Okay my turn!” she announced, then cleared her throat. “Hmm, never have I ever pretended to be a pizza delivery person so I could get into Jared Leto’s Halloween party.” By the end of her sentence, she was looking at the obvious target of her turn: David.

“You’re a bitch,” he said coldly before taking a drink.

As Alexis turned to pass the bottle off, Twyla stopped her.

“My mom was engaged to two pizza delivery guys. Can that count? ‘Cause I am really thirsty,” she said. Patrick was sure Twyla hadn’t taken a single sip the whole game.

“Stevie!” Alexis said, ignoring Twyla. She shoved the bottle in Stevie’s hands, bumping her phone where she’d been texting Emir for the better part of the night. Stevie awkwardly stood up and wandered to the middle.

“Uh, um… never have I ever…” She paused. “Sorry, I’m just trying to think of something I haven’t done.”

David turned to Patrick.

“Okay. How long do you envision this game going on for? Because never have I ever been so bored,” David said as he rubbed Patrick’s back.

“Aw, I’m sorry, David, when I suggested the game, I didn’t expect that you’d be drinking quite so much,” Patrick replied sardonically. “Eating out of the garbage…” He couldn’t believe he regularly kissed that mouth.

David lovingly petted Patrick’s hair.

“Okay, I did that in front of you last night,” he reminded him. “Now, as a participant, if we don’t change the game soon, I’ma get very drunk.”

“Oh—”

There was a chipper knock at the door.

“Yep!” Patrick called out.

The door swung open. It was Ted! Patrick got to talk to Ted a lot on the high ropes course and they found out they had quite a bit in common. Ted had texted him earlier saying he wasn’t sure if he could make it, so this was a pleasant surprise.

“Hey!” Ted said joyfully.

The room greeted him back, including Alexis who teetered over to him to hug and kiss him.

“Thank god, because I was this close to lying,” Stevie said as she sidled up to David’s other side. In the excitement of Ted’s arrival, she got out of actually coming up with something for the game.

“What were you going to say?” David asked her.

“Never have I ever eaten ass.”

To that, all three of them drank.

Stevie got another text message and immediately reburied herself in her phone.

“How’s it going with Emir?” Patrick asked.

“Well,” she said. “It’s been a month and he hasn’t asked me for nudes, so I’d say pretty well.”

“But you’ve sent him some, right?” David asked.

“Of course. I’m not some kind of animal.”

“Has he—” Patrick began, but was interrupted by David staring past him and the room cheering.

Ted had thrown off his robe and was only wearing a white tank top and boxer shorts.

It was probably just the alcohol talking, but he looked really hot.

“Alright! What is the game, because I’m up!” Ted said eagerly.

The three of them stared at him as he made his way over to Twyla.

“Um, I’m not sure if it’s just the punch, but…” Stevie said. “He could get it!”

Alexis didn’t seem to appreciate that comment.

“Stevie, that’s disgusting,” David said to her before turning to Ted. “Ted, can I get you a party shot?”

“Cool!” was Ted’s simple response.

“Okay!”

Patrick turned to grab the tray of shots. There was something in him that really wanted to watch him drink one. He wanted to be closer to the least-dressed guy in the room who was definitely not wearing anything else under his boxers…

He turned back to the group with the tray in hand.

“We have orange—”

“I’ll take that,” David cut him off, promptly removing the tray from his hands and going over to Ted.

“—yellow…” Patrick was left standing there dumbly with empty hands.

“Did you know Ted was ripped?” Stevie asked him.

It was the first time he was asked to strictly evaluate a man based on his appearance. David was never going to ask if Patrick found any other men attractive. Patrick loved his boyfriend, but this was a different kind of conversation he wasn’t prepared for. Was he allowed to say he found Ted hot like this?

Ugh, it felt so wrong to even be considering that. He was his boyfriend’s sister’s boyfriend. Ted was practically family. And he was with David. He had woken up this morning and had sex with his gorgeous boyfriend. Patrick couldn’t imagine being with anyone other than David. He was in it for the long haul.

But that didn’t stop that small part of his brain from wanting Ted to take the tank top off too.

“Uh, I mean, I kinda figured since he did really well on the ropes course and asked me if I needed a gym buddy,” Patrick answered.

“Wouldn’t mind if he took the tank top off,” Stevie said.

He did not need her saying what he was thinking.

David returned with the tray of party shots, but he couldn’t stop staring at Ted.

“Do you think he’s wearing anything under the boxers?” she asked.

“I don’t see any panty lines,” David answered.

Patrick did not need to be considering that. Neither of them were helping.

“Okay!” Patrick said, calling attention from the whole room. “New game! Who wants to play Spin the Bottle?”

There were interested voices all over the room. Patrick grabbed the wine bottle from the last game and met a few folks in the center. He needed to stop thinking about Ted.

It didn’t take long for the game to get underway. Patrick went first and landed on his friend Christy, who was very sweet and also very gay. She spun and landed on Andy, a mutual friend of theirs, who was nervous to be playing in the first place.

The bottle spun round and round, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Except for Patrick.

He didn’t understand why he thought this was a good idea. This and Seven Minutes In Heaven were two of the most awkward games he had ever played in high school. Seven Minutes was how he had started dating Rachel. They got stuck in the closet together and she hadn’t made him kiss her. That day they had come out of the closet as newly minted boyfriend and girlfriend. Little did Patrick know he’d be coming out of a different closet later.

…which was one reason why he was getting annoyed. He kept landing on girls. He really wanted to land on David. His bottle-spinning abilities were tragically not great.

The bottle spun and landed on Stevie, who he thought would have had a bigger reaction, but her nose was buried in her phone again.

“Hey,” David said to her. “Do you wanna put Emir away for a hot sec so the game can keep going, and the party can end soon?”

“Oh, I’m good. I don’t wanna kiss anyone here,” she replied bluntly.

“My sister’s sitting in the circle. You think I’m dying to play? Thank you very much,” he said, gesturing to the bottle. That did the trick. She put the phone down and spun the bottle.

It landed on Alexis who gasped playfully.

Without hesitation, Stevie crawled across the circle. Alexis gave a flirty look to Ted before she received an awkward peck on the lips from Stevie.

“Oh!” Alexis laughed as Stevie retreated. “Oh, okay!” She cleared her throat, then spun the bottle.

It landed on Ted.

“Babe, did you rig this?” she asked flirtatiously.

How could he have rigged it?

“Maybe I did, and maybe I did!” Ted replied.

Patrick would never understand them.

They kissed, and Alexis laughed after they pulled apart.

“Okay, go crazy, babe,” she said.

“Mhm,” Ted said. “Alright, who’s the lucky lady?” He spun the bottle.

“That’s offensive,” David said after the bottle landed on him.

The knot in Patrick’s stomach twisted. He did not wanted David to kiss Ted. It wasn’t fair. They shouldn’t be allowed to kiss. Why was David getting to kiss Ted?

“Okay!” Alexis said. “Anyway, re-spin!”

“Yeah, that actually looks like it sorta landed between two people,” Patrick agreed.

“No, no, no, no!” Ted argued. “I know exactly who it landed on.” He crawled across the circle straight to David.

“Oh, Ted! That’s not okay,” Alexis said.

“Man, c’mere, big guy!” Ted said excitedly before he grabbed David’s face and hauled him in for a kiss.

Patrick’s whole body flared with anger.

“Muah!” Ted laughed as he pulled back from David. David looked over at the rest of the circle and looked far too delighted at what just transpired. He’d literally never seen David smile like that.

“Oh my fucking god,” Alexis said. Patrick felt the same.

“It looks like the punch needs a refill,” he said before getting up from the circle. He didn’t know if the punch bowl actually needed a refill, but he needed to walk away from the game.

He felt sick. He couldn’t even look at David. He was too excited to have kissed someone else. And Ted, of all people. He’d already been thinking about what was under his boxers – which okay, so was Patrick – but he didn’t say anything out loud. And that made him better than David. He wasn’t out here making his partner uncomfortable by getting excited kissing someone else.

Patrick tried to busy himself by actually checking the punch, which lucky for him, actually did need a refill.

“I can’t believe they did that,” Alexis said, coming up behind him with two cups in hand. “Like, did you see how smug they both were?”

“It’s just a game, Alexis,” Patrick reminded her as well as himself. Once he tossed the now empty rum bottle, he took her cups. She leaned against the counter and glared at her brother, her eyes boring holes into him.

“Is it though, Patrick?” she said. “Is it? Because I don’t know about you, but they both looked a little too happy kissing each other. Thank you.”

He handed her back the cups. She returned to the circle to hand Ted his cup but kept walking to stand in the corner farthest away from the rest of them.

Patrick poured himself more punch. He hated how he was feeling. He hated what he saw. And Alexis seemed to be the only person who understood him.

He tried to look casual as he wandered over to her. Now, she was clearly glaring at Ted. Patrick could feel the anger radiating off her. She didn’t need to say anything for him to know what she was feeling.

“I’ve never seen David laugh like that before,” Patrick said. “He was just so… so proud of himself.”

“I’ve seen that face before,” Alexis said. “When he stole my boyfriend Demetri in Turks and Caicos. He’d been flirting with Demetri for months just because he had six pack abs and drove a McLaren. David doesn’t even like fast cars.”

“That sucks.”

“It did at the time, but it all ended up fine when David was the one who had to bail him out of a Monaco prison.”

The circle was breaking up and they watched as Ted retrieved the box for Twister from the stack of games Patrick had left out.

“God, they’re just going on like nothing had happened,” she continued. “Like we hadn’t just walked away from the game. And Twister? A game that’s meant to simulate sex?” She shuddered.

“Can you just imagine how David would’ve reacted if Ted kissed me instead? Would he have even cared?” Patrick asked.

The bottle would’ve spun and landed on Patrick. It wouldn’t have been too far to travel. They could’ve just leaned over Alexis. Perhaps Ted’s hand was on Patrick’s cheek, or he would’ve grabbed him like he did David. His lips looked so soft and he was so eager to kiss another man, too. When it was over – which wouldn’t have been too long! – Patrick could’ve sat back and looked at David. And David would be seven shades of jealous, wishing the tables were turned. That he could’ve kissed Alexis’s hot boyfriend and not Patrick.

“Oh, he would’ve been super jealous,” Alexis said. “And I would’ve totally supported that especially if it meant getting back at David because I know you’re not a homewrecker.”

That weirdly makes Patrick feel better, if not also a little guilty that he was thinking about getting back at his boyfriend by kissing another man.

His high school themed party was turning into actual high school.

They stood in the corner, silently judging the Twister game in progress. Ted and David seemed so friendly . Patrick didn’t ever remember them being close, at all. And there was no way that they would run off together.

What was he even thinking? They wouldn’t run off together. From what Patrick knew, David hadn’t burned that many bridges all at once in several years.

They looked so happy over there where David’s elbow was too close to Ted’s groin for Patrick’s liking.

“My God, they just need to chill,” Alexis said.

“Okay, I’m done!” David announced as he got up from the floor, tossing his hands in defeat.

“Who chose this theme, anyway?” she asked Patrick. He tried not to take her remark personally, but at this point it was the bed he unintentionally made for himself.

“It was a mistake,” he said, his disgust creating a bigger pit in his stomach.

David approached with bright eyes and his hair slightly ruffled.

“What are you guys doing over here?” he said casually. “You remind me of me at a high school house party judging all the attractive and popular kids for being attractive and popular.”

“David, do you have anything you wanna say to me and Patrick?” Alexis asked coldly. Patrick sipped at his drink, happy to let Alexis speak for him.

“Actually, yes. Now, as an attracted and popular kid at a house party, I can confidently say, it’s very fun.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” she followed up.

“What’s going on here?”

David was so oblivious .

“Mm,” Alexis began. “Things got effed, and we’re not having fun anymore.”

“For what it’s worth, I’m having a great time,” Stevie said, suddenly appearing at David’s side, her phone completely put away for once.

“You’re like a tsetse fly,” David said to her. “Where’s your cell phone boyfriend?”

“On my cell phone,” she replied.

“Okay.” David turned to Patrick. “You’re not having fun?”

“I don’t know, David. Sure,” he lied before taking another sip from his drink. Patrick was not going to air his grievances right here. He didn’t want to tell David he was miserable because while it was his party, he certainly did not want to cry at it. He couldn’t leave if things got bad. It was better to save this conversation for when they were alone.

“What exactly did I do wrong here?” David asked, still very confused.

“Oh, I don’t know, David,” Alexis said derisively. “Mm, was it the time you kissed my boyfriend? Or… was it the time you kissed my boyfriend?”

“Mm…” Patrick agreed.

“I think it was the time you kissed her boyfriend,” Stevie chimed in.

“Okay, he kissed me!” David argued. “And I was just told to have some fun. So I played the game. I’m sorry that the bottle landed on me.”

“Hm, technically it landed between you and Stevie, so,” Patrick corrected him.

“Yeah,” Alexis said.

“Okay, so you’re upset about this as well, then?” David said to him.

“Looks like it,” Stevie added.

“No, I’m not. I’m not upset,” Patrick said, perhaps a little too defensively. “I just, I guess I wonder how you would react if the tables were turned.” Would David be as upset if Patrick had kissed Ted? Or would he not care? Patrick somehow hated both possibilities.

“Yeah, David,” Alexis said. “Like, what would you do if Patrick and I suddenly kissed at a party?”

“Yeah.”

“Or Patrick and me,” Stevie said eagerly.

“Okay, we’re done with you,” David chided Stevie. He did not like that idea one bit. He turned his attention back to Patrick and Alexis. “It was Spin the Bottle! If Patrick was wasted, and spun the bottle, and it landed on you, and you guys kissed, I wouldn’t care.”

“You’re lying, David,” Alexis said.

“Okay, is that what needs to happen to clear the air here? You guys need to kiss?” David asked. He seemed a little surprised at the conclusion he had drawn. It was the wrong conclusion because Patrick was very happy not to have kissed Alexis, thank you very much.

“David, let’s not be dramatic—” Patrick said.

“Yeah, maybe it does,” Alexis interrupted.

“What?”

Oh god, was he going to have to kiss Alexis now?

“Well, by all means,” David said coolly.

Patrick did not need to kiss Alexis. He knew in that instant his problem was not turnabout in them kissing their partner’s sibling. His problem was that David got excited by kissing a cute boy, who wasn’t him, and in the moment Patrick wished he could’ve been Ted and David at the same time.

“I think it’s actually more the principle of the thing—” he argued, trying to get out of it.

“Okay, here we go!” Alexis said after she set down her cup.

“Hm!” David said, crossing his arms.

Alexis began to approach him, clearly unsure of how to do this. All Patrick could do was stare dumbly up at her and wish that this wasn’t the point they had to prove. Then Alexis paused, put her hand on his shoulder, and took off her heels, bringing her down to his height.

“Is that really…” he said. That small action somehow made this horrible situation even worse.

“Uh huh,” she replied. Then she was leaning in, her eyes darting over to David. God, Patrick didn’t want to do this. “Mm, mmm!” She kissed him awkwardly with loud smooching sounds and humming. It was somehow worse than his first kiss with Rachel when they were 14 years old.

It went on way too long. Patrick was frozen in place, wishing he wasn’t kissing his boyfriend’s sister. Honestly, he would’ve been much happier kissing Stevie if he had to kiss anyone at all.

Finally, Alexis pulled back. Patrick couldn’t believe they’d just done that. He hoped he hadn’t run out of mouthwash.

“Yum! That was fun,” Alexis lied. That was fun for absolutely no one.

After all of that, Ted appeared behind David and Stevie.

“Hey, are we spinning more bottles?” he asked the group excitedly. Drunk Ted really liked kissing people, Patrick was figuring out.

“Uh, was that fun for you guys?” David queried the pair of them. “Was that like, satisfying?”

Everything inside Patrick hurt . He didn’t like seeing his boyfriend kiss another guy. He didn’t like that his boyfriend got to kiss another guy. He didn’t like that his boyfriend’s sister got in his head and made it a bigger deal than it probably was. He didn’t like that he had to kiss his boyfriend’s sister. He didn’t like that David was right and that his feelings were ridiculous. He didn’t like that he was drunk, which was making all of this way, way, way worse.

“I was never not okay, so,” Patrick finally said, trying to not let his emotions run haywire in front of them.

Without making eye contact with anyone, he pushed through the group and toward the bathroom which was thankfully available. The sounds of the party were muted once he shut the door. (Never had he been so grateful for a door.) He collapsed onto the toilet, his head in his hands.

What was he doing? This was not how this party was supposed to go. Maybe there was a reason why people didn’t play these games past high school. No one ever won. His day had started off so wonderfully and now it felt like the whole building was on fire.

That was the second time David had kissed another man in front of him. Jake was a surprise, and he guessed this was a surprise too. David had never intentionally kissed another person, so he couldn’t really be angry at David. And he was the one who told David that everything would be fine if he played. He didn’t want to get jealous. He didn’t want to get revenge. He just wanted them to play a few games from high school. No one was supposed to get hurt.

This was not his finest hour.

After a few more minutes, Patrick finally got up and rinsed his mouth. He poured the rest of the contents of his cup down the sink. Given the rich tapestry of feelings he was experiencing, he didn’t need booze adding more.

By the time he exited the bathroom, a few of the guests had left the party, Alexis and Ted included. Some of the remaining guests had taken to playing Truth Or Dare, a game that was definitely instigated by Stevie. David was not in the circle.

Thank god.

A gentle hand touched his shoulder. He turned around. It was his boyfriend.

“Do you need something, David?”

“Are you okay?” David asked. “You smell minty. Did you throw up in the bathroom?”

Patrick nudged David’s hand off him.

“No, I’m fine,” he said shortly. He didn’t want to get into this now.

For the next hour, he avoided David by talking to his other guests. He put on the best façade, thanking them for coming and asking them how everything was going. The pit in his stomach was turning into a chasm, but he wasn’t going to talk to David until everyone had left.

Eventually, the guests did leave – including Stevie, who Twyla offered to drive home – and the silence in the apartment was a relief. Unfortunately, the tension between him and David was palpable. He wasn’t talking to David. He didn’t know what to say. Instead, he grabbed the trash bags and set the box on the table so David could get the idea.

Patrick collected the trash from his bedroom area first. His brain spun as he thought about how earlier he and David had beautiful morning sex and now he didn’t even want to talk to David. And he wasn’t going to ask David to go home or sleep on the couch because of the dumb cocktail of emotions swirling inside him that were only about 33% David’s fault.

“Ahem!” David said behind him. “I’m just gonna take the garbage out.”

“Okay,” Patrick said, giving David the cold shoulder.

“Yeah, and if I don’t come back, it’s probably because I’ve run off with Ted.”

“Thanks for the heads up.”

“We’re gonna go for a ride, see where it takes us. Maybe start a vet clinic somewhere along the way,” David continued. Patrick turned around to finally look at him. “He’ll nurse the animals back to health, I’ll… offer grooming services.”

He could tell David was joking yet he felt so stupid thinking that was a possibility. They needed to talk about this. Patrick dropped the bag he was holding and slowly walked over to David.

“Okay, you know what? Maybe I overreacted for a second,” he said. “I was just talking to Alexis, and we sorta wound each other up.” It felt so stupid saying this to David. “And Stevie didn’t help.”

“Stevie never helps,” David said bluntly.

He just needed to say it. They both knew what had happened. He didn’t like having this tension with David. He wanted to go back to pre-party when he was kissing David and feeding him Jell-O shots.

“So, I didn’t love seeing my boyfriend kissing some other guy,” he admitted. A small swell of emotions rose in his throat. Everything that was welling up during the party was finally threatening to come out.

“I’m sorry, are you saying you were jealous?” David asked cheekily.

“David, I’m not playing this game with you,” Patrick said firmly. He felt like absolute shit and didn’t need David getting on a high horse about it.

“No, you just said you didn’t like seeing your boyfriend kissing another guy,” David reiterated.

“Okay, fine!” He broke. If this is what David wanted to talk about, they could talk about it more. “He’s a handsome guy. I might’ve been a little jealous!”

He did want to kiss Ted too. It wasn’t fair that a game that was designed for people to kiss whomever made him only kiss girls. He’d only ever kissed one guy in his life and that was David. Not that he was complaining, but perhaps there was that little part of him that was hoping that he would’ve had the opportunity to kiss more guys during the game. And then David, whose years before Patrick included kissing thousands of people, had gotten to kiss a guy who wasn’t him.

The party was supposed to be a do-over for Patrick’s own high school experiences where he wasn’t able to kiss any boys. (Rachel wouldn’t let him play.) He was finally able to be his full self at the party and instead ruined it.

“So, you think he’s handsome, then?” David said, deadpan.

“What?” Patrick huffed, trying to play this off. That wasn’t how David was supposed to take it. “He’s like—he goes to the gym.”

“Goes to the gym?!”

“Oh my god,” Patrick muttered before taking a seat on the arm of the couch behind him.

How was this happening? He was trying to relay that he didn’t enjoy seeing David and Ted kissing, but instead he managed to confess he found Ted attractive and David latched on in the only way he knew how.

“Wow, okay,” David said. “So when you said you were jealous, were you saying you were jealous of him , or jealous of me ? Because I thought you were saying you were jealous of him .”

“Both?” Patrick said sheepishly. He couldn’t believe he was telling David this.

“Not the answer I was looking for,” David replied, unhappy with Patrick’s answer.

Tonight’s misunderstandings were all his fault. He was resenting David for something he encouraged him to do and when it didn’t go his way, he took it out on him.

“Hey,” Patrick said.

“Mhm?”

Patrick stood up and gathered David in his arms and David draped his arms over his shoulders.

This felt good. This felt right.

It didn’t matter how attractive he found Ted or how bitter he was about the game not going his way. He loved David. He loved this ridiculous man before him. And David was way hotter than Ted anyway. Plus, he didn’t have any heels to take off like Alexis. Rachel had been so much shorter than him that until he met David, he didn’t know that being shorter than his boyfriend was a thing for him. He loved that he had to look up at David and lean up to kiss him. It sparked something in his belly he couldn’t explain.

“I wonder what would’ve happened if we’d met in high school,” he mused. He suddenly pictured them like this, but as teenagers, slowly swaying to some random R&B song he couldn’t place in a gymnasium littered with balloons. It was homecoming and they were in suits, David in white, him in a navy blue. He could’ve danced with David all night, taken the cheesy professional photos, lost his virginity to him in the backseat of his car after the dance. He wished he could’ve had all of that with David.

“Hm, well,” David began. “Unless you were into kandi ravers with asymmetrical haircuts and a lot of pacifier necklaces, I think our paths crossed at the right time.”

Patrick tried to imagine his black & white boyfriend in bright colors. He would’ve loved him just the same.

He leaned up and kissed David, pulling him gently closer.

Kissing David was the real homecoming.

David drew back and rubbed Patrick’s shoulders before asking softly, “How jealous, though?”

…And they were back on this. Nice moment over.

“Why don’t you take out the garbage?” Patrick said, patting David on the arms and walking away.

“How jealous were you?”

“Nope!”

“Scale of one to ten. Like, enraged, or…”

Patrick picked up a bag of trash and handed it to David.

“Byeee, bye,” he said, trying to ignore David’s ridiculous questions.

“Like, fuming? Did you sweat?”

“Thank you for taking out the trash, David.”

“I like to imagine you with a light sheen around the temples—”

“Trash, David!”

Finally, the door opened and shut, David leaving for the trash chute.

Patrick let out a chuckle. He was thankful they were still okay, that David found the whole situation ridiculous. He was David’s, and David was his. There was no changing that and he didn’t want to.

He got an overwhelming urge to show David how much he cared. He had spent a good portion of the party avoiding him because of his own stupid feelings. It wasn’t fair to David to have had his party ruined because Patrick told him to have a good time.

Patrick meandered over to the door and waited for the sound of David’s footsteps coming back down the hall. The door opened and once David stepped inside, that’s when Patrick pounced. He pinned David to the door with his body and kissed him passionately. David responded immediately, kissing Patrick and fisting his pajamas.

God , his boyfriend was so sexy. How could he have even imagined being with someone else?

He could feel David getting hard through his pajamas. The thin cotton left nothing to the imagination.

Patrick dropped to his knees. He hooked his fingers in David’s pants and looked up. He needed to give this to David for being so patient with him all night. David’s hair was even more ruffled from their kissing, and his eyes were dark. He nodded.

That was all Patrick needed to pull his pants down to mid-thigh and free his cock. He kissed at the base, then licked up the shaft to the head before taking him entirely in his mouth. He worked David hard and fast, sucking him off messily, loud slurping sounds echoing in the vacant room. He was usually more precise, but there was still alcohol buzzing in his veins.

“Oh, fuck, yes, Patrick ,” David moaned loudly, his head tipped back against the door. His fingers threaded through Patrick’s hair as he sucked his cock.

It didn’t take long for David to cum in Patrick’s mouth. His fingers tightened in his hair and he shoved his dick down Patrick’s throat as he came. Patrick swallowed it down with a moan. He wiped his mouth as he sat back on his heels. David watched him, panting, while he tenderly tucked him back into his pants.

David hauled him to his feet to kiss him and his erection nudged David’s hip. He was now hard as a rock and like David, he couldn’t hide it in these pajamas.

“Do you want assistance with that?” David asked between kisses.

“That was just for you,” Patrick said. “But if you don’t mind…”

“It’d be my pleasure.”

David walked him back through the apartment to his bed where he ravished him. With David’s hands and lips on his body, Patrick had only one question: Ted who?

Chapter Text

“Okay, David, Patrick, I’ve been reviewing your account and I have to say, your brand is sinking, and you need to fix it right now,” Alexis said, bursting through the front door of the store. They’d been open for all of forty minutes and were suddenly accosted with their self-hired brand consultant. A few customers milled about the store and Patrick swore all of them looked up at Alexis.

“I’m sorry,” David replied abrasively from behind the counter. “Did I miss the memo that said you’re in charge? Also, the memo where we skip exchanging pleasantries?”

“Mmkay. We’ll start exchanging pleasantries when you start paying me six figures,” she shot back.

“We’ll start paying you six figures after both of us are making six figures,” David said bitterly.

Patrick stopped unboxing lavender sachets on the opposite side of the store. He refused to play referee again between the Rose siblings, but sometimes a neutral party was necessary so that nothing was thrown or burned down. They’d gotten better in the time since he’d been dating David, but it was better to play it safe.

He set down the box on the side table, but when he turned back, he nearly walked straight into a customer.

“Oh, oh my god—”

“I’m so sorry—”

Both of them chuckled. The customer was a smartly-dressed young man with glasses and a disarming smile who was obviously not from Schitt’s Creek. Patrick felt some butterflies in his stomach when the man looked at him.

“Sorry, um, can I help you find something?” Patrick asked.

“Well, I was checking out this face cream and I didn’t see a list of ingredients,” he said, holding up the small jar in question.

“Oh!” Patrick said. He knew all the products by heart, including the common allergens. He especially knew that particular product because it was David’s favorite. “I’m, uh, very familiar with what’s in our products. Um, are you looking for a particular ingredient?”

“Oh, it’s just that my skin is pretty sensitive to cocoa butter…” the customer said.

“Then you definitely don’t want that,” Patrick replied instantly. “My partner specifically orders it for the cocoa butter.” It made David’s face impossibly soft. Patrick loved it.

“Good to know.”

“We have another face cream but it’s out of stock at the moment. We should be getting it back in on Wednesday. Our supplier is experimenting with fragrances at the moment. Lavender and lemongrass, primarily. They promise me it won’t be too fragrant.”

What was he doing? He was babbling to this cute guy about face cream that he only liked because the price margin was great, and it sold well. He couldn’t look at the customer anymore. Or he was going to say something else super dumb.

Fortunately, the customer gave him a coy smile and said, “Well, then it gives me a good reason to come back here and see the super hot owner.”

Oh god, the guy was flirting with him.

Patrick had absolutely no experience in this area. Sure, he’d dealt with girls hitting on him all the time – it was a pretty regular occurrence – but other gay men? Nothing. Well, David, but he didn’t count since he and Patrick were already romantically involved. Since coming out, he’d never dealt with this. It was the first time he didn’t have the rebuff of saying he was straight.

He chuckled bashfully and looked down at the floor as heat rose to his cheeks. That was a mistake because now he got a full look at the guy in front of him. He was fit – like, fit – and everything he wore was stylish but not elaborate like David’s clothing. His shoes were something else. They were long and kinda pointed, which only made Patrick wonder briefly how the hell he walked around. They were long like flippers or clown shoes. And pointed? Why?

His eyes went back up the customer’s body and by the time he got back to his face, he was again distracted by how in-shape he was. It was made worse by the interested look in the customer’s eyes.

This was a nightmare.

The customer held out his hand.

“I’m Ken.”

Okay, Patrick could do handshakes.

“Patrick.”

“I guess I’ll see you Wednesday,” Ken said as he handed Patrick the jar of face cream. There was a glimmer in his eye that made Patrick’s heart race. “Maybe we could get dinner before then.”

Before Patrick could answer, Ken was walking to the counter. He didn’t want to seem like the weirdo watching a guy he was flirting with talk to his actual boyfriend. So he quickly turned to busy himself with the creams on display.

“Oh, hi, are you finding everything you’re looking for?” David asked.

“Um, actually, I was wondering if I could have a pen and paper,” Ken said.

“Hm, you planning on doing some journaling?”

He could hear the receipt printer going, then David tearing off a piece of paper.

“There you go.”

“Thank you.”

He heard Ken’s footsteps briefly, then turned around to see him approaching. Silently, he handed Patrick a small slip of paper. In neat handwriting, it said:

CALL ME – 807-555-9372

Then he gave Patrick the pen before exiting the store.

Wow.

That was exhilarating.

Living in a small town hadn’t given him any interactions like that, especially when nearly everyone knew he was with David. It made him feel really good to have a guy ask him out.

He was definitely saving this as a memento. Baby’s first phone number.

Patrick folded the small paper as he meandered over to the counter where the Roses were watching him. As expected, Alexis looked far more thrilled about this than David.

“Umm, score, Patrick!” Alexis said proudly, giving him a high five.

“Look at you, just drowning in other people’s phone numbers,” David said. His words were dripping with sarcasm.

“Who was that hunk with the teeny-weeny little polo?” she asked.

“His name is Ken—”

David gasped.

“Ken!” he said. “Just when I thought it was impossible to find a thirty-something named Ken!”

“Oh, I think he looked younger than thirty,” Alexis said matter-of-factly.

“Fuck off, Alexis,” David said, smiling painfully. She obviously had a death wish. In an instant, he turned back to Patrick to play dumb. “What exactly did Ken do with my pen? Did he write down a banana bread recipe? Or was he looking for directions to some place…?”

They all knew what it was.

“This is his phone number,” Patrick said as he held the slip of paper up between his fingers.

“Yes, it is. Yeah. Look at you go!” David was trying to sound supportive and Patrick appreciated the effort.

“Mhm.” He was still really excited he got his first phone number.

“And he like, gave it to you in front of David,” Alexis noted. “So clearly no threat there.” Patrick chuckled. Ken was bold, sure, but he had no chance against David.

“Hey Alexis,” David said. “find a stick and—”

“Can I just enjoy this for a second?” Patrick interrupted. David was venturing into a more hostile territory and he really wanted to just savor this moment without having to immediately deal with David’s anxiety.

“Of course, yeah!” David said. He still wasn’t happy. “Enjoy Ken. I mean, I think it’s funny ‘cause when he first walked in here, I was gonna help him, so to think it could’ve been me enjoying Ken.”

Alexis glanced over at Patrick. He knew that look.

“Yeah, I don’t think so,” she said.

“Yeah, I think he liked me.”

He loved teasing David with Alexis. She had it down to an art.

“This is fun! It’s the great thing about owning a store, really, is getting to flirt with the customers,” David said. “You know, just last week a woman came in and gave me her number.” Patrick knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Do you mean the woman who wanted to know when the soap would be back in stock? Who came in here with her husband and kids?” Patrick asked dryly as Alexis playfully batted his arm, trying not to burst out laughing.

“Hasn’t stopped me before,” he said seriously. Patrick flinched. David really flirted with married people? “But thank you for reminding me I have to call her. The soap did come back in.”

Patrick eyed David carefully. This was making David really uncomfortable in a way he had never seen. Weirdly, it had always been Patrick who was jealous of David. First Jake (and, in a way, Stevie), then hearing about all of David’s other exes, then Ted at his housewarming party… Now the shoe was on the other foot and David didn’t like it.

Oh, Patrick was going to milk this for all it was worth.

“I’m just gonna—” Patrick turned around so David could see him clearly slip the paper into his back pocket. “—put that right there.”

“Mhm,” Alexis hummed agreeably as he strode across the store away from them.

Patrick was riding high. He wasn’t going to do anything with the number, but it felt so good to know that guys other than David found him attractive. Like, he knew women liked him. That was never a surprise. But a guy? Especially one who dressed well with the weird pointy shoes? And who seemed nice?

No wonder David thought he was a threat.

He returned to stocking the sachets, humming happily.

As David and Alexis continued to discuss the website back at the counter, Patrick let his imagination wander. What if he wasn’t dating David? Ken was cute enough that Patrick would’ve called him for a date. He probably didn’t have as many hang-ups or neuroses as David – no one did – but he was much shorter. (Patrick realized early into his relationship with David that he loved tall men.) Ken likely wasn’t living in a motel with his once-wealthy family nor sharing a room with his nosy sister. He probably lived in Elmdale or Whispering Hills or Thornbridge in a stylish one-bedroom with a small white terrier.

He could conjure up plenty of possibilities about Ken, but when it came to what it’d be like to actually date Ken, Patrick came up short. It felt like he was cheating on David even thinking about going on a date with someone else. And he never planned to ever cheat on David. He was all Patrick needed.

Once he was done with the sachets, he ducked to the back room to grab some candles, sliding past David and Alexis who were still discussing the website.

“So, David,” Alexis said. “I’m going to start on your new website and then send you the invoice?”

“We’re paying you fifty bucks,” David replied.

“That’s just my base rate. My hourly is—”

“Fifty bucks.”

“But—”

“Fine, forty.”

Alexis grunted. Patrick reemerged through the curtain to see Alexis shutting her laptop and stuffing it angrily into her bag. He slipped past David to go to the back of the store to stock their beeswax candles. It looked like David had this under control.

“Well, just know that your brand will only look like you spent fifty dollars on it, David,” Alexis said.

“Good, because that’s how much we’re spending. Bye now. Goodbye. Go have fun with SquareSpace.” The doorbell jingled and Patrick briefly glanced over his shoulder to see David at the door having ushered a frustrated Alexis out. They were ridiculous.

The store was much calmer now that Alexis had left. There were only one or two customers milling about, which meant Patrick could really focus on restocking the shelves without interruption. There was finally peace.

“So, whatever happened to that phone number?”

The peace lasted less than five minutes.

“Uh, it might still be in my pocket. Why?” He knew where David was going. His tone was the same from earlier.

“Hm. Just keeping it close?”

Patrick finally looked over his shoulder.

“Well, I haven’t thrown it out yet,” he said. David gave him a funny look. It wasn’t the same as the bitter, jealous one he had given him earlier. Patrick set the box he was holding down on the shelf. “What are you doing? I’m obviously not gonna use it.”

He walked over to David who crossed his arms and was smiling at him. This was bizarre.

“Why not?” David asked, almost smugly.

“Uh, because I’m in a committed relationship.” This was a no-brainer.

“I know that,” David said. He paused, then said the most outlandish thing Patrick had ever heard. “I think you should call him.”

“What?!”

Was David trying to get rid of him? Was he trying to open their relationship? Was he trying to suggest a threesome? Because Patrick was interested in exactly zero of those ideas.

“Skin-tight clothes aside, do you find Ken attractive?” David asked.

“I mean, sure,” Patrick answered. He wasn’t going to lie to David even when he was being so weird.

“Then I think you should call him!”

“David!”

“Consider it a selfish act on my part,” David explained. “You have only been with me.”

“And Rachel,” he said defensively. “And like, a handful of other girls.” There had been a few girls he’d been with when he and Rachel were on their ‘breaks’. He could probably count them on one hand.

“Okay, we’ve all been with a handful of other girls,” David said with an eyeroll. “But I’m the only guy.”

“So?”

Patrick didn’t see what the big deal was. He loved David. He felt like he’d won the lottery, in that his first boyfriend was utterly perfect for him: smart, funny, creative, sexy, devastatingly good in bed… He didn’t care that he wasn’t going to ever be with any other men. David was the whole package.

“So, inevitably there might come a point where you find yourself curious about being with other people,” David explained. “So why not explore that now, so that we don’t have to have this conversation five years down the line?”

Patrick felt his skin prickle with excitement.

“Oh, so you think we’re gonna be together five years from now?” he said with a smirk. David would never outright say it, yet he loved to drop these little hints that they were going to be together for a long time.

“I think a cute boy gave you his number, and you should go for dinner, and run free,” David said, breezing past Patrick’s comment. Someday Patrick was going to get him to admit he wanted to be together forever. David placed his hands on Patrick’s arms. “Best case scenario, you realize how good you have it with me. Worst case scenario, you realize how good you have it with me.”

Patrick pursed his lips as he put his hands on his hips. David had a point, even if he wasn’t necessarily all the way on board with it. He really didn’t want to date other people, but it was better to do it with his boyfriend’s permission, he supposed.

“Fun!” David exclaimed.

Patrick silently dug in his back pocket for the slip of paper Ken had given him. David watched him intently as he pulled out his phone. His hands felt clammy. He wasn’t nervous, but he certainly wasn’t comfortable asking a guy he just met on a date while his boyfriend was standing right there .

He slowly retreated to the back room where he could pace in peace.

Minutes ticked by. Patrick stared at his phone. He had managed to plug Ken’s number in but had yet to hit ‘call’. Every time his thumb hovered over the green button he would panic. What if he hated the date? What if he went out to dinner with Ken and it was just the absolute worst night of his life? What if he did something he knew he’d regret later? Worse, what if he liked it? What if he went out with Ken and realized he’d been missing something with David?

He felt nauseous even considering that possibility.

But David insisted. He wanted Patrick to call Ken and to go to dinner. And what was the harm in going to dinner with someone? He’d gone to dinner with plenty of men he’d been attracted to before he met David. He’d probably go to dinner with other men he’d be attracted to without David being there in the future. The difference here was, he was being encouraged to do something.

It was only one date. David wanted it to happen.

Patrick hit ‘call’.

The phone rang and rang. Patrick’s heart rate elevated.

“This is Ken.”

“Um, hi, Ken,” Patrick said. “This is Patrick. From Rose Apothecary.”

“Oh! Hello, Patrick,” Ken said, his voice soft and flirtatious. “Didn’t think you’d call so soon.”

“Yeah, um, neither did I.”

“Couldn’t wait til Wednesday to see me again?”

Patrick gulped.

“I, um, was wondering if you’d, you’d be interested in going to dinner tonight?”

“Tonight?” Ken paused. “I could do tonight.”

“Great.”

“Let’s do that cute café across the road from your store.”

“Could we maybe go somewhere else?” Patrick asked quickly. “I eat there every day for lunch and it’s kinda the last place I’d like to go for dinner.” That was a half-lie. He did eat there every day for lunch, but there were half a dozen reasons he didn’t want to go there with Ken. One of the main reasons was that he didn’t want all this gossip floating around town that he was on a date with someone who wasn’t David.

But it was also where he and David had their first date. It’s where he put his heart on the line and this gorgeous, incredible man took it and cherished it. It was special.

“Oh! Of course. That makes sense. Duh,” Ken said, chuckling to himself. “Well, there’s a cute little tapas place in Elmdale I’ve been wanting to try. If that sounds good with you?”

“That sounds great.” Patrick had no idea what ‘tapas’ were, but Ken seemed to know what it was, and he had taste. Well, theoretically , if his weird pointy shoes were anything to go by.

“7 o’clock?”

“7 works for me.”

“Then it’s a date.” Patrick could hear Ken smiling through the phone. “I’ll text you the address. See you tonight, Patrick.”

“Yup.”

They hung up. Patrick hadn’t felt that awkward since he asked Rachel to homecoming their sophomore year.

He had a date with someone who wasn’t David.

What did he just do?

“So, when’s he coming to pick you up?”

Patrick jumped. He turned around to see David leaning against the doorframe.

“Dinner’s at 7 in Elmdale,” he said. “We’re getting tapas?”

David walked toward him.

“Well, at least we know I have better taste in food than he does,” David said as he gently placed his hands on Patrick’s arms.

“Okay, I’m not a hundred percent on what tapas are, but I did watch you eat Cheez Wiz straight from the can, so I don’t think that’s true.”

“In my defense, I didn’t know you’d finished the crackers the day before.”

You finished the crackers the night before.”

“Doesn’t matter who,” David said. He draped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders and Patrick automatically wrapped his arms around David’s waist. It was so automatic. “Either way, I want you to have fun. Whatever happens.” He paused. “Okay, maybe not whatever, because there are definitely certain things I would rather you not do, but—”

Patrick cut him off with a kiss.

“You know that I don’t have to go to dinner with Ken, right?” Patrick said. “I can text him and call it off.”

“No, no,” David said. “This will be good for you. Really spread your gay wings before you’re stuck with me forever.” Patrick smirked.

“Forever, huh?”

David’s eyes widened.

“Well, I think we have some customers out there who need our help,” David said, very clearly changing the subject. He kissed Patrick one more time before leading him back out to the main room.

The night ahead was bound to be interesting.


 

It was 7:43pm and Patrick was meeting Ken at the small tapas restaurant in Elmdale.

Or at least, he was supposed to be.

Instead, he had been parked at a gas station about 30 miles past where he was supposed to be for around 15 minutes. He’d already filled his tank and raided the convenience store for anything remotely nutritional. In the end, he’d chosen a giant bag of Cheetos because if he felt like trash, he might as well eat trash.

His GPS announced he needed to exit at ramp 109 and instead Patrick kept driving. He’d finally turned his GPS off, after it had been frantically rerouting him for five miles, trying to get him to turn around and meet Ken.

Poor Ken. He had texted Patrick earlier with an ‘Excited for tonight!’ and a bunch of happy emojis that made Patrick feel even worse for what he’d done. It was absolutely nothing against Ken. He seemed like a nice guy who did not deserve to be stood up.

All night he kept waiting for David to text him, saying he didn’t want Patrick to go on the date, that he had made a mistake in encouraging this, to tell him to come home. He wanted David to pull the ripcord and admit this wasn’t what he wanted. He just wanted some assurance that they both knew this was a bad idea and that everyone was getting hurt in the process.

Instead, by the time he stopped at the gas station, his inbox was full of messages from both David and Ken.

7:01pm: hey! lmk when u get here
7:01pm: i got us a table in the back
7:05pm: Have fun tonight! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!
7:07pm: just checking in. where r u? eta?
7:15pm: call me
7:20pm: Updates?
7:20pm: You can always sneak away from the table and text me if you don’t want to do it in front of him!
7:23pm: i guess ur not coming then
7:31pm: I hope you not texting me means you’re having a good time and not that you’re dead.
7:32pm: Hey Ken, I can't do dinner. I have a boyfriend. I’m so sorry.

He felt terribly for standing Ken up.

He felt terribly for not going on the date like David wanted him to.

Patrick just wanted to be at home, having a nice home-cooked meal with his boyfriend, then following it up with a movie and perhaps a blowjob. That was what he wanted. He didn’t want Ken. He wanted David gazing at him from across his small kitchen table, complimenting him on his new risotto recipe and telling him about how Alexis’s website design skills were subpar. He wanted David to begrudgingly let him pick the movie only to decide halfway through that his time would be better spent on his knees at Patrick’s feet. He wanted to end the night brushing his teeth next to David in the bathroom and then going to bed to do it all again tomorrow.

He’d agreed to this for David. David wanted him to see what it’d be like with other men, so five years from now, he wouldn’t be wondering what if.

Admittedly, he did that with Rachel. He’d wondered every time he went out to lunch with a male friend – regardless of their sexuality – what his life would have been like had he been dating one of them instead of her. But that was different. Now, he had found a man he loved with every ounce of his soul and he didn’t want to lose him.

He didn’t want to open the relationship in any way.

And this? This whole situation felt like he was cheating on David.

Oh, there was the nausea again.

How did people have affairs without throwing up all over themselves?

He needed to see David, hold him, kiss him. He loved him so much. He didn’t want Ken, the guy with the pointy shoes. He wanted David, the man who made his heart flutter at the mere thought of him.

Patrick checked his phone again. 8:01pm.

He was about an hour away from home, from David. He’d get there well before David went to bed.

With that thought, he turned on the ignition and quickly drove out of the station.


 

The light for David and Alexis’s room was on when Patrick pulled up to the motel. If David wasn’t there, surely Alexis could tell him where he’d gone.

He really, really hoped David was there.

Quietly, Patrick rapped on the door to their room.

The door swung open and there was David, just as beautiful as when Patrick left him earlier.

“Do I want to hear about it?” David asked. He looked nervous waiting for Patrick’s answer.

“I couldn’t do it,” Patrick answered guiltily. The pit in his stomach was still there because he couldn’t even go on one silly date like David wanted him to.

“Oh,” David said softly. “Come in.”

Once he was inside, suddenly everything Patrick had been feeling all day was bursting out of him. Just as David shut the door, Patrick turned around to face him and admitted, “I don’t want to date Ken!”

“I don’t think I ever said ‘date’,” David argued.

“Was it the lack of ground rules?” Alexis called from behind him. He hadn’t even noticed she was sitting there when he came in.

“Hi,” he said quickly before turning back to David. “David…”

“Mhm?”

Patrick took David by the shoulders like he’d done so many times before.

“I love you, and I really appreciate what you were trying to do for me, but I feel no need to meet up with other guys right now,” he said. He couldn’t speak to the future or how he might feel, but right now, David was all he needed.

“Okay,” David said casually. “I mean, if that’s what you want, then I guess I’m, I’m fine with it.” A smile teased on David’s lips as he leaned closer to Patrick. “I mean, I’m easy either way.”

“Oh.”

David caught his lips in a heavy kiss as he drew him in. Patrick finally exhaled as he kissed David, feeling the firmness of his body and his soft lips against his own. It was a relief to have David back in his arms. He couldn’t imagine ever having to relearn any of this with a new person.

Sharply, his thoughts turned to Ken. He could never hold a candle to David. Everything Patrick knew about David was exactly why he loved him. Even on appearance alone, David was so sexy and confident, and oh god, he loved that he was taller than him. And Ken? There was only one thing Patrick would remember forever.

He drew back quickly from David.

“Also, this is gonna sound totally petty, but something about his shoes just made me feel really weird, ‘cause they were like long and pointy but then...” He tried making the shape with his hands.

“Squared off at the toe,” David finished for him.

“Yes!” He was shaken to his core about the shoes and he knew that, of all people, David would understand.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” David soothed as he drew him in for a hug. “I know, I know. It’s okay, it’s okay.”

He was home now with David in his arms. Their hug lasted longer than their usual when Patrick expected David to draw back and he didn’t.

Maybe this affected David more than Patrick thought.

“Okay, this is a really long hug now,” Patrick remarked.

“Just need one more minute,” David said softly.

“Mhm.”

Patrick smiled brightly and tucked his face into David’s neck. He breathed in David’s scent. He would always associate this smell with comfort and joy. Tenderly, he dropped a light kiss on David’s neck, the simple feeling of his soft skin against his lips made Patrick want more. He dropped another and another, kissing up to right behind David’s ear.

David slowly lifted his head and wordlessly captured Patrick in another kiss. This one was sensual and longing, their lips gently taking from one another. Patrick tugged at David’s lower back as David cupped Patrick’s cheek. He tilted Patrick’s head and deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding hotly into Patrick’s mouth. Fuck, he loved it when David took control.

Behind him, Alexis coughed.

“Okay, well, Ted’s coming to pick me up,” she said as she gathered her things.

Neither of them stopped to acknowledge her.

She shuffled past them to the door.

“I’m staying the night at his place, so I’ll see you two tomorrow,” she said from the doorway. David waved her off.

As soon as the door was shut, their kiss got hot . David grabbed his face with both hands and kissed him how he wanted. It was dominant and possessive and god Patrick needed more. After today, he needed David to claim him as his own, to remind him who he belonged to. There were never any doubts, but he ached for David.

“I need you inside me, David,” Patrick murmured against David’s lips. “Show me I’m yours.”

“Fuck, you’re all mine,” David responded without hesitation.

He kissed Patrick again as his fingers went to work on Patrick’s shirt buttons. They had getting naked down to an art. Once Patrick’s shirt was unbuttoned and off, Patrick pulled David’s sweater and undershirt over his head, dropping them to the floor with his own. Then his undershirt joined them. It didn’t take long before shoes and pants and underwear were all on the floor too, and David was pushing Patrick down onto his bed.

Patrick laid back on the bed, his legs spread wide. David stood at the foot and surveyed his prey. His eyes were dark and hungry, raking over every part of Patrick’s body.

“All mine,” he echoed as he took his cock in hand and started to masturbate.

Patrick gripped the sheets and whined. David was using him as real-life porn. He watched David’s fist work his hard dick, tugging and twisting as he drank in Patrick in his bed. David said a lot of things to him about his appearance, but nothing before this moment had made him feel sexier or more desirable. He imagined this is what David thought about when he was alone, that he was the image he jacked off to.

“David, please ,” Patrick begged, his voice cracking. “Touch me.”

He saw a blush rise to David’s cheeks before his eyes darted up to meet Patrick’s. It was as if he’d told him he’d buy him anything in the store after being such a good boy.

David didn’t move though. It made Patrick even more needy for him. He reached over his head and grabbed the pillow, putting his body further on display, before finally grabbing his own cock in a determined attempt to lure David into bed.

His eyes still connected with David’s, Patrick let out a desperate whine. He didn’t know what would get David to join him. He needed him so badly. He missed him. All of the feelings he had before his aborted date with Ken were bubbling to the surface. Despite David’s blessing, Patrick felt guilty for even agreeing to go out with Ken. He was hopelessly devoted to David and the knot in his stomach was so tight. He needed David to forgive him – for what, he didn’t know. He needed David to know he was his and only his. He didn’t need any other men. He just needed him.

“David…” Patrick said, a sob rising to his throat.

That was it.

In an instant, David was on top of him, between his legs, and kissing him for everything he was worth. Patrick dug his fingers into David’s back, his nails biting at his skin. He needed David so much. He was his moon and his stars. He was everything to him.

“I need you, I need you so bad,” he whispered.

“I love you. God, I love you so fucking much. All mine,” David whispered in return.

David reached into his nightstand and pulled out a bottle of lube. He speedily poured some on his fingers and immediately reached down to press them against Patrick’s hole. Patrick took a deep breath in a feeble attempt to relax. Normally he’d want David to take his time, but Patrick needed him inside him now.

One finger, then two, forced their way into him. It was hard to relax when he was so worked up.

“Fuck, you’re so tight,” David said as he fingered him roughly. He wasn’t getting any looser or ready for him. He was so desperate for his cock that he couldn’t focus on anything else.

“Just fuck me, David,” Patrick said seriously. “I can’t wait any longer. Need you inside me.”

David simply nodded. They both knew he needed more prep. They knew he was going to ache tomorrow. Yet Patrick wanted to ache. He wanted to feel owned by David even into tomorrow and the next day.

David sat up and poured more lube on his cock. After tossing the bottle to the floor, he leaned back over Patrick, lining his cock up with his hole. The head pressed against him, fighting for entrance, until David shoved his hips forward, forcing himself inside Patrick.

Patrick moaned loudly, his head tipping back and bearing his neck to David who latched on while he cock sunk all the way in. After the night he’d had, this was what Patrick needed.

David grabbed Patrick’s jaw, tilting his head back, and kissed him filthily as he fucked him, his hips snapping and skin smacking against him. His thrusts were forceful and strong, reminding Patrick that he wasn’t with some guy; he was with a man. He was being fucked open by the sexiest man he’d ever met. His thrusts were steady and the friction of his belly against his cock was delicious, making his skin tingle in ecstasy. Patrick knew David could fuck him for hours, keep him dangling on the precipice of orgasm for however long he liked.

He also knew how to unravel him in seconds.

Patrick gasped and gripped David’s hair tighter as David pushed his thighs further apart. David hit his prostate. Then again. And again.

Patrick panted and whined as his toes curled and his body seized.

FUCK!

It was possibly the hardest he’d ever cum in his life.

David wasn’t too far behind.

“Oh, fuck, ngh, fuck, fuck fuck fuck…!”

David’s eyes closed and his jaw dropped open as he came inside Patrick, his cum filling him up.

It took them both a minute to catch their breath and come down from such spectacular orgasms. David didn’t even open his eyes before he started kissing Patrick again, his cock still inside him.

Eventually, their hearts and kisses slowed. David slowly drew back and gave Patrick the sweetest smile.

God, this man was all his.

“I love you so much,” Patrick said tenderly.

“I love you too,” David replied.

He dropped a soft kiss on Patrick’s lips before finally pulling out. Patrick groaned. His ass twitched from being fucked so thoroughly. He knew he would absolutely feel that in the morning.

“Stay right here,” David said before traipsing off to the bathroom to retrieve a washcloth. He was back in seconds to clean Patrick’s stomach as well as his abused hole. The cloth was quickly dropped off the side of the bed as David assumed his previous position between Patrick’s legs.

They laid there in silence for a bit, just smiling and taking one another in.

“I’m glad you didn’t go to dinner with Ken,” David said softly, breaking the silence.

“Me too.”

“I don’t think I could’ve lived with myself if you’d run off with him and I had to run the business by myself or worse, see you every day but know I couldn’t have you.”

“Well, you never have to worry about that again.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I drove all the way out to Brush Hill, ate a bag of Cheetos in a gas station parking lot, then drove an hour back to you just to avoid a date with another guy,” Patrick said seriously. “Believe me when I say you never have to worry about that again.”

“Okay,” David said, a gentle smile gracing his lips. There was a beat of silence, then, “Did you just say you only had a bag of Cheetos for dinner?”

“Yeah, so I’m starving,” he said with a chuckle.

“Well, lucky for you, my anxiety is a great appetite suppressant, so I haven’t eaten dinner either, so…”

“Huh. So, would you be interested in getting a pizza delivered and watching a movie?”

David shyly nodded.

“I would love that.”

Chapter Text

“It’s true. Nobody could work with you around. Not Hemingway – not Tolstoy – not—”

“Um, excuse me?”

Patrick opened his eyes. He was trying to practice his lines for his audition later that day, but it was challenging as customers kept wanting to check out. Under normal circumstances, he would have been thrilled. But right now, he desperately needed David to come back from the café so he could step away and rehearse. He’d done musicals in high school with community theatre and as he got older, he had been cast in more and more lead roles. However, it’d been a while since he’d been in anything, let alone auditioned, so his skills were a little rusty.

“Yes, sorry,” he said, moving his script so the customer could put his purchases on the counter.

“Auditioning for something?” the customer asked as Patrick rang up his items.

“Yeah, actually,” Patrick said. “They’re starting a community theatre production of ‘Cabaret’.”

“That’s that Liza Minelli movie, right?”

“Yup.” Patrick had watched it twice in anticipation of his audition. He had wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into.

“What part?”

“Cliff.”

“That the leading guy?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, break legs or whatever,” the customer said as he gathered his purchases.

“Thanks.”

The customer left the store and with that, Patrick returned to his lines.

…until another customer came up.

…and another…

…and another.

With every passing minute, he wondered when David would be getting back. He was losing valuable time. He wanted to get some singing practice in too and David had promised him he’d be able to step away.

Maybe he had gotten caught listening to one of Twyla’s stories. Maybe he had died and no one had told him.

When the store was finally empty, he rushed to the door, flipped the sign to ‘closed’, and exited, locking up behind him. He then hustled across the street to the café to find David.

The moment Patrick spotted David eating with his mother he understood why he was taking a while.

“Hi Mrs. Rose,” he said as he approached the table.

“Hello, Patrick,” Moira replied. “Care to ensconce yourself?”

“Oh, I wish I could,” he said curtly before turning to David who was still eating. “Um, David?”

“Hm?” his boyfriend replied, looking up at him.

“You told me you were just running across the street for a cup of coffee.”

“But then I got hungry,” David explained. “I hadn’t eaten since last night.”

He was trying not to get visibly mad or upset, but he certainly wasn’t happy.

“It’s just that I have to get ready for my audition, and somebody has to be at the store, so,” he hinted.

“You’re being audited?! Those bastards!” Moira gasped.

“No, uh, audition. I’m actually trying out for ‘Cabaret’.”

“‘Cabaret’…” she said as if memories were flashing before her.

“You’re familiar with the show?” Patrick asked.

“Please don’t start—” David groaned as he leaned back in his chair, covering his eyes.

“The year was 1979,” Moira began, with David chiming in on ‘79’. This was obviously something David had sat through many, many times. And considering he had neglected to tell Patrick he was staying at the café to eat, David could sit through another retelling.

“I was but 17—”

“She was not 17,” David corrected.

Patrick grabbed a chair to sit down next to David. Moira didn’t know the meaning of brevity and he was not going to stand for her whole story.

“Hostessing at a charming gas station deli, when the great director—

“—Rocky Nichols—" David said with her.

“—came in for a Reuben. That’s a sandwich,” she gently told him, touching his knee. He knew what a Reuben was. “Little did he know, he would end up biting into something—

“—far more suffonsifying,” she and David said together.

“A ripe young actress who he’d soon cast in the leading role of—”

“—Sally Bowles—”

“—in the production of—"

“‘Cabaret’,” all three said together. David rubbed his shoulder, glad he had caught on. He smiled shyly. It felt really nice to be included in what was clearly a Rose Family habit.

“Yes!” Moira said. “Ask me how many ovations I got on closing night.”

“Six,” David answered before Patrick even had the chance to pick a number.

“David, you know the answer!” she scolded him.

David looked at him with a knowing smirk. God, he loved this man.

“That’s a lot of ovations,” Patrick complimented. He knew how to stroke Moira’s ego.

“Mhm. Three by demand, and three on the house,” she informed him, even though he didn’t quite understand what that meant. “And who, may I ask, is bold enough to scale this cultural monolith?”

“Uh, Jocelyn is actually directing for the community theatre, so,” he said.

“Jocelyn?”

“That’s very ambitious of Jocelyn,” David said.

“Yeah, well, I just thought it could be a fun thing to do,” Patrick said. He suddenly felt really unsure of himself and a little ashamed for being so excited about a community theatre production. Moira was so used to huge film and theatre productions, and whatever Jocelyn was doing was certainly going to be nowhere near that.

“Yes, the exact sentiment expressed by the passengers as they stepped aboard the Titanic,” Moira noted before taking a sip of coffee.

“Okay, well, that’s really encouraging,” David said, gently squeezing Patrick’s shoulder. His heart swelled at his boyfriend defending his choices to his own mother.

“What?! They were having a rip-roaring bash before that bloody iceberg,” Moira said defensively.

There was an awkward beat while both David and Patrick considered how they were going to get out of this situation.

“I’m just gonna get the bill,” David said.

“Yeah, I’m gonna go,” Patrick said before standing up.

“I’ll be just two minutes.” David dug back into his food.

“Okay.”

Patrick hurried out of the café and back to the store. There were a few people waiting outside.

“So sorry, everyone,” he said. “I had to make sure my boyfriend wasn’t dead.”

“Is he?” a middle-aged woman asked.

“Nope, just trapped in a conversation with his mother.”

“Been there,” an older man murmured quietly.

The customers followed him in and it was back to business as usual.

True to his word, David was back at the store in a few short minutes. He came right behind the counter and began shooing Patrick away from the register.

“Okay, I’m here now. Go rehearse,” David said.

“Thank you.” Patrick gathered his script, gave David a peck on the cheek, and was off to his car to go home to rehearse.


 

4 o’clock rolled around and Patrick was nervously waiting outside City Hall, whispering his lines to himself. His music audition at 3 had gone well; Jocelyn loved his rendition of “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story . He was then instructed to wait outside with the rest of the folks auditioning. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t sizing up his competition. He had heard some of them singing earlier and a couple were really strong. He was hoping one of the women he had heard earlier would be cast as Sally.

Jocelyn’s assistant (he couldn’t remember her name) popped her head outside.

“We’d like to see Patrick Brewer and Beth Meyers,” she said.

It was showtime.

He took a deep breath and headed up the stairs realizing the woman whose singing he had liked was who he was going in with.

“Hi, I’m Patrick,” he said, offering his hand as they approached the casting table.

“Beth,” she replied.

“Break a leg.”

“You too.”

Someone at the table cleared their throat and that was when Patrick realized that Moira was there.

“Oh, hey, Mrs. Rose,” Patrick said, giving her a small wave.

“Good afternoon, Mr…” Moira glanced at his resume. “Brewer.” It might have been a tactic to dissuade favoritism, but Patrick was also pretty sure she didn’t remember his last name.

“Welcome, Patrick and Beth, reading for Cliff and Sally respectively,” Jocelyn said, smiling brightly. “You two have the right pages?”

“Sides, dear,” Moira gently corrected.

Patrick and Beth both held up their scripts.

“Yup.”

“Mhm.”

“Fantastic,” Jocelyn said. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Patrick took a deep breath and exhaled as he turned to face his scene partner. It seemed Beth was just as nervous as he was. He gave her a comforting nod as if to say, ‘I’ve got you.’ She returned a tight smile.

I wish I were less distracting,” Beth began. Her reading was flatter than Patrick anticipated, particularly given the singing he had heard earlier, but he could work with it.

It’s true,” he said. “Nobody could work with you around. Not Hemingway, not Tolstoy, not even Proust…

Beth stepped away from him to poorly pantomime packing a suitcase.

Oh, no – Sally – I didn’t mean…

But it’s time, Cliff. I’ve never stayed with anyone so long. One must keep mobile, musn’t one?

They both seemed to be warming up to one another as the scene went on and his nerves had completely dissipated.

Don’t go,” Patrick, as Cliff, said impassionedly.

What?

Please, don’t go.

You can’t be serious.”

“Okay, I’m just gonna stop you there!” Jocelyn interrupted cheerfully.

“Thank you,” Moira whispered.

“Um, Beth,” Jocelyn continued. “I was wondering if you could maybe—”

“Dig deeper, yeah,” Moira suggested to her, finishing her sentence. “Let’s throw away the lines, soften the edges.”

“Yes.” Jocelyn turned her attention to Beth and Patrick. “I was gonna say, ‘speak louder’, but that also sounds important. So, why don’t we, um—”

“Yes, tap her out!” Moira interrupted again. Patrick was really starting to see where David got some of his more… challenging habits from. “You step in, and lay the groundwork for Patrick, yes.”

“You want me to tap in and act with him?” Jocelyn asked timidly.

“Mea culpa, Jocelyn. I sorely underestimated your instincts,” Moira assured her.

“Okay…”

Jocelyn rose from her chair and nervously moved around the table.

“Okay,” Moira said, turning her attention to Patrick. “The thing you must understand about Cliff, Patrick, is that he has been with many women, but he’s never derived true pleasure from it.”

Was she joking? She was joking, right? Did she forget he was engaged to a woman before dating her son?

Actually, he was pretty sure she had forgotten.

“I think I can wrap my head around that,” Patrick replied dryly.

At this point, Jocelyn had replaced Beth who was now standing off to the side. Jocelyn looked even more nervous than both he and Beth combined.

“Okay, when you’re ready,” Moira announced.

Patrick paused, checking his script for where they had left off. He cleared his throat, took a moment, then began.

Don’t go,” he pled.

What? ” Jocelyn read uncomfortably. Her voice was gravely with nerves.

He could already feel this was going to be worse than with Beth.

Please, don’t go.

“Ooh, less desperation,” Moira directed before rising from her seat. Patrick took the note.

Are you serious?

The hell with Bobby. Maybe I like you here —”

“Firm, but not loud,” Moira instructed, now much closer having walked around the table toward them.

Patrick took another beat to process the note.

The truth is, Sally – when you’re out all night, I can’t sleep.

“Better, better,” Moira said. “Now seduce her.”

Automatically, Patrick reached out and petted Jocelyn’s hair.

“Oh, my…” Jocelyn said awkwardly, out of character.

Our little bed suddenly seems so empty,” Patrick continued, letting his hand rest on her shoulder. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone. ” Jocelyn broke their heated eye contact to look down at her script.

You really mean this?

“Bring it home…”

More than I’ve ever meant anything .”

“And, scene!” Moira said, pleased.

“Oh, whew!” Jocelyn said as they broke out of the scene.

Patrick was beaming. He felt really good about that. He took direction well and adjusted as Moira asked. Unless the other guys were better, he had a feeling he would win the role of Cliff.

“Now that is a breakthrough. Patrick, thank you,” Moira complimented. “Or should I say thank you to our new Emcee!”

Emcee? He was not expecting to be cast immediately or as the Emcee.

“Oh, no, no,” Jocelyn objected. “Patrick was auditioning for the role of Cliff.”

“Yes, he was,” she agreed. “But we all know you put your biggest talent front and center. Isn’t that right, Jocelyn?” Patrick felt heat rise to his cheeks from the compliment. It really did mean a lot coming from Moira who was very particular about her art.

“Sure, as long as I never have to act again,” Jocelyn relented before heading back to her seat.

“Okay, no,” Moira chuckled.

She turned her attention back to Patrick and warmly blew him a double-handed kiss. He returned one back to her.

“Thank you,” he replied, beaming ear to ear, as he exited toward the door.

“We’ll-we’ll call your people!” Jocelyn called out after him.

Patrick exited the building with Beth close behind.

“Hey,” she said, patting him on the arm. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” he said. “I gotta go tell my boyfriend.”


 

“Well, if it isn’t my theatre star,” David said with a grin as Patrick entered the store. “I’m going to guess by the lack of tears that it went well?”

Patrick came around the counter and pulled David into his arms before giving him a big kiss on the lips.

“I got cast in the show!” he exclaimed. “How was it back here? Did the visit go well?”

“Um, it may have been assumed that I was dating Roland and now I might have to rent his baby in a week,” David said. Patrick furrowed his brow.

“What?”

“Let’s not talk about that because when I think about ever dating Roland, I throw up in my mouth a little,” David said with an uncomfortable chuckle. “But you already got cast? Didn’t auditions just happen today?

“Well, I took direction well and my singing audition was great,” he explained. “So, your mom cast me immediately.”

“Wait, wait,” David said, pulling back a little in Patrick’s arms. “My mother is now involved?”

“Did you expect her to stay away from this at all?”

“I mean, I thought she’d wait at least a day or two before bullying her way into it.”

“After she cast me, she even told Jocelyn that you should ‘put your biggest talent front and center’,” Patrick told him proudly.

“That is some high praise from a woman who refused to even compliment my fingerpainting when I was 6,” David said.

“And guess which role I’m playing.”

David looked at him expectantly.

“The Emcee.”

David responded by choking back a laugh.

“Why? What? What’s so funny?” Patrick asked. He saw the movie a couple times and the Emcee is a big part. Did David not think he could do it?

“Have you only seen the movie with Liza Minelli?”

“Yeah. What other version is there?”

“There’s a more recent version you should see,” David explained, smirking. “Because if my mother’s involved, you might want to start hitting the gym a little more often.”

Now Patrick was bewildered on more than one account. What did he get himself into?

Chapter Text

The store bathroom had now been closed for two days for renovations and it was driving Patrick insane.

The bathroom had been in desperate need of some quality TLC. The pipes were exposed in an unappealing way, the wood floor was slightly warped from previous overflows, and the paint was, as David described it, unsightly. But until now it had just been the two of them using it. It had been low on the list of necessary changes because they had no one to impress with a bathroom the size of a small closet.

But the number of customers who came in asking for the bathroom was increasing and it killed Patrick to turn them away for the café. He’d learned that people were more likely to buy something after they’d come in to use the bathroom. It was time to make their bathroom open to the public, and David was not a fan.

“He’s subjecting me to whatever questionable activities and bodily fluids our possible customers might leave in that bathroom,” David told Twyla as she put the check down in front of him. For the last two days they’d decided to give Ronnie more time in the morning and took long, lingering breakfasts at the café. (David was grateful because he finally got to sleep in.)

“David, what makes you think that two adults could fit in that bathroom together?” Patrick asked, while David fished cash out of his wallet.

“Oh, you should definitely be more concerned about what one person can do,” Twyla said. “Let’s just say I’ve seen bodily fluids of every color in that bathroom.” She laughed. Patrick’s stomach turned. “Is there anything else I can get you two?”

“Our coffees to-go, thanks,” David said as politely as he could muster when he handed her his payment. After she was out of earshot, David turned to Patrick. “I don’t want bodily fluids of every color on my special tiles.”

“Can we stop saying ‘bodily fluids’, please?” Patrick asked, his voice tight. The more he heard that phrase, the more his breakfast threatened to reappear in a less-than-pleasant way.

“What I’m saying is,” David said as they stood up. “We should just remodel the bathroom and keep it just for us. Think of it like a private oasis in our own store.”

“That’s what the backroom is for.”

David huffed.

“It’s gonna be great, David,” Patrick said, clapping a hand on David’s shoulder.

“Here you go, gentlemen!” Twyla said as she slid their drinks across the counter.

They thanked her and headed out the door.

“I just don’t get the big reveal,” David said as they walked across the street to their store. “It’s a bathroom.”

“It’s not just a bathroom, David. It’s a passion project,” Patrick defended. He was so invested in this bathroom, he’d even let David have input on the design.

“I’d kill to be that passionate about a bathroom that you’ve now decided to open up to the entire town.”

“Yeah, well, we can’t afford to keep a private bathroom, David,” he said. He’d explained this so many times. “We’re losing customers to the café. Besides, you’re the one who started serving booze at those evening events.”

“Um, those evening events are part of a summer series.”

“Oh…”

“We sold 30 dream catchers at that cosmic meditation clinic,” David rebutted as they approached the front door.

“Huh.” The profit margin on the dream catchers wasn’t great and the man who made them kept insisting that they needed to let him set up a permanent crystal booth. Patrick was running out of ways to gently decline.

Patrick opened the door, the bell jingling signaling their entrance. He was looking forward to seeing what Ronnie had done to their bathroom.

Turns out, she had instead covered nearly every square foot of their store in clear tarps.

“Yeah, you know what? You were right. It does look beautiful,” David said sarcastically.

“What the fu…”

Patrick was livid. They needed to be able to open the store. It was Friday and from the looks of it, they’d be closed on Saturday as well, their busiest day of the week.

“So, I’m confused,” David said. “Where does the bathroom start and all this garbage end?”

“Ronnie swore this would be done today,” Patrick said heatedly as they surveyed the landscape.

Just then, Ronnie emerged from the tarped-off bathroom as if on cue, carrying blueprints. She was the only contractor in town who had a rate that was doable for them, and that was after the Friends-And-Family discount. Patrick liked Ronnie. She was funny and took no bullshit, plus she was the one who hooked him up with all the perks at city hall. But Patrick had never worked with her before on the  actual business side of things and he did not like what he was seeing .

“Yep, but you ran out of tiles,” she said a little chidingly. “It doesn’t help that you picked the most expensive ones.” Ronnie and Patrick both looked at David.

“Okay,” David said defensively. “You asked for my opinion. I don’t know how much Romanian marble costs!”

“I was hoping to get my hands on a few more in an hour or so, but that is TBC at this point,” Ronnie said.

So now they had to wait another hour for it to be finished? This was the last straw.

“Okay, Ronnie,” Patrick said calmly despite the anger boiling inside him. “Uh, this installation was just supposed to last two days. And now half of our store is covered in tarps, and David’s organized some writers’ retreat for tomorrow night.”

“It’s a calligraphy workshop,” David corrected.

Ronnie tapped David on the shoulder with the rolled-up blueprints. She seemed too calm for this. Why wasn’t she acquiescing? Or at least apologizing?

“We’re working as fast as we can,” Ronnie said, then turned to head back to the bathroom. “You have my cell!”

Once she was gone, David turned to Patrick.

“Could you have not at least asked her to finesse the tarps?” he asked. “I mean, there’s green tape everywhere!”

David didn’t seem at all bothered by this lack of progress. Patrick thought that with his years of paying for things to happen immediately that he’d be furious with this. Instead it seemed the years he spent in Schitt’s Creek lowered his expectations in this area.

But Patrick was mad.

“The tarps aren’t staying up, David,” he said quietly so Ronnie wouldn’t hear him. “This bathroom’s getting finished today because that’s what we discussed. That’s what’s gonna happen.”

“Okay, it’s just that you waited until after she left to put your little foot down, so I’m just not sure she’s aware of that plan,” David said. Why wasn’t he taking this seriously?

“She obviously thinks we’re a couple of pushovers.”

“Okay, speak for yourself. All I did was pick out some gorgeous tile.”

Patrick let out a frustrated sigh.

“I’m gonna go work on some paperwork in the back,” he mumbled before he picked up his cup and made an about-face to go to the backroom to stew. He didn’t want to deal with Ronnie or blow up at David. He needed to channel his time and energy into something productive that didn’t involve fixating on the situation in the main room.

He sat down at his small desk to look over order forms and contracts, including the one they made with Ronnie. They did get a good deal on labor, but if this is what it was like to hire friends, Patrick never wanted to do it again. They should’ve hired someone they didn’t know and swallowed the expense, so that Patrick didn’t have to feel this overwhelming guilt over speaking poorly to friends.

He stayed in the back for a while, with David out in the main room doing who knows what. At some point, he heard the door open and shut, the bell jingling. He couldn’t imagine David letting customers into the store to shop with tarps down everywhere. It was a safety thing and an aesthetic thing, and only one of those two things spoke to David. They had a few folks coming in for pick-ups, but he didn’t expect anyone to stick around the store to browse with a plastic sheet separating them from the items.

“Are you going to say something to her?” David asked from the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest. “Or are you gonna spend another hour back here sulking?”

“I think if I talked to her that would just delay her further,” Patrick scoffed.

“So, you think she’s just going to read your mind? That she’s just going to intuit that you’re frustrated with the work she’s been doing?”

“Oh, I think she could tell that I’m unhappy.”

“Um, could she?” David asked critically. “Because she just showed me the work she’s done, and it looks really good. And that’s coming from me . She didn’t seem at all phased by your mild peacocking, if you can call it that.”

Patrick put the papers down and looked up at David.

“So, you’re taking her side,” he said.

“Look, I’m not taking anyone’s side,” David said, holding his hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying that sometimes it’s easier to confront people with your issues than to do this passive-aggressive charade you’re doing. I mean, I straight-up told Britney Spears she shouldn’t be doing bangs and you know what she did? Banned me from her shows for a year.” He paused. “Okay, maybe that’s not the best example. Now that I think about it, that’s about how all of my confrontations have gone. I take it all back. Don’t talk to anyone.”

But perhaps David was right. He needed to confront Ronnie about the subpar job she was doing. This was not just a friendship but a business relationship. He needed to speak to her business owner to business owner. If he divorced himself from the emotions behind the friendship, this seemed possible.

“I’m gonna go talk to her,” he finally decided. He stood up from his desk.

“Well, she’s not here anymore.”

What?

“She went to lunch.”

Now Patrick was fuming.

“She’s supposed to be finishing the bathroom!”

“Well, what did you want me to do?” David asked exasperatedly. “Barricade her in the store until she was done? I’m not going to imprison her! This isn’t Guantanamo!”

“I bet she went to the café,” Patrick said, gritting his teeth. “Which is good because I need to use the bathroom, which I should’ve been able to do in my own store by now.” He pushed past David to leave the store and confront Ronnie at the café, David following dutifully behind him.

They entered the café and sure enough, there was Ronnie in the booth nearest the bathroom. And the mayor was with her. And they were laughing. She was in here, having lunch and a jolly good time, while there was work to be done! They were paying her to finish their bathroom, not have a laugh at their expense! There was no escaping this conversation. He was going to let her have it.

“David, look,” he said quietly from just inside the door. “Ronnie is sitting in that booth with Roland, laughing about something.” Ronnie laughed loudly to prove his point.

“Okay,” David said, clearly not understanding what a big deal this was.

“She said she’s working as fast as she can,” he explained. “We don’t have a bathroom, David!”

“I’m well aware of that.”

“You know, my uncle’s a contractor. I know how this works. You’ve gotta stay on top of it, or they will find a million reasons to just drag it out.” He’d heard so many stories from his parents about how his uncle was quick at finishing his own projects but took forever on projects for other people. If there was a chance to be paid for an extra day’s work, he was going to do it. That’s what Ronnie was doing to them.

“Mhm,” David replied. “Well, my ex-best friend was a crisis manager, and she told me multiple times not to talk to anyone. Especially while they’re eating. So I’m gonna just…” He then slipped away to the bathroom in the rear.

Patrick sighed. He should’ve assumed he’d have to fight this alone.

He calmly approached the table.

“Oh, hey, Pat!” Roland said. “What are you doing? Playing hooky or did the store finally close?” Ronnie laughed again.

“I don’t laugh a lot, but that was good,” she said to Roland.

Oh, so they were laughing at them.

“That is funny, especially considering we are open, but hey, who knows for how long?” Patrick said sarcastically. “Because right now, it sorta looks like a quarantine station.”

Ronnie sat back in her seat as her expression grew serious.

“I’m sorry, are you implying something?” she asked.

Patrick could feel his insides twisting with nerves. He wasn’t good at this. He didn’t have any practice in confronting people. His heart was racing and pounding against his ribcage.

“You know,” he said, trying to muster the courage to respond how he wanted to. “I’m just saying, uh, the bathroom’s supposed to be done today, and you say you’re working as fast as you can, but uh, here I find you with Roland.” He was proud of himself for getting all of that out. If he was going to be a good business owner, he was going to have to get used to speaking to contractors like this.

Ronnie stared at him, taking a beat before she responded.

“Okay, FYI,” she began. “Roland is the hook-up for your tiles. His cousin, Arnie, gets them at cost. So, I thought I would thank Roland by buying him lunch. Because that’s how I do business.”

Patrick’s stomach dropped, and he awkwardly glanced between Ronnie and Roland. He hadn’t known she was getting the tiles through Roland. To be honest, he hadn’t considered where she got any of her supplies at all. And she was doing this as a favor to save them money because she knew they had a tight budget.

“Makes sense. I was just sort of, uh… checking in,” he said. He felt like a total idiot.

“I could always cancel the order, if that’s how you wanna do business,” Ronnie said coolly.

“Ooh, ouch!” Roland chimed in, laughing. “I would run out and get some aloe vera, pal, ‘cause you just got burned!”

Patrick felt so small. It was like he was back in freshman year of high school and the upperclassmen were picking on him again. And here he was, potentially burning bridges with one of his friends.

David reappeared from around the corner, having just finished in the bathroom.

“Hi,” he said casually to Roland and Ronnie before turning to Patrick, placing a calming hand on his shoulder. “Is everything okay?”

“I don’t know,” Ronnie said. “You tell me.”

David looked back at Patrick.

“Yeah, no, I was just, uh, telling Ronnie what a…” He looked at Ronnie who was obviously giving him a chance to amend his previous accusation. “…what a great job she’s doing on the bathroom. And, uh, we should get back to the store.”

“Okay, do you still need to use the restroom?” David asked sweetly.

“What? Nope! Uh, came here for you. So… we should go,” he answered before turning quickly on his heel and heading toward the door. He needed to get out of there as soon as possible so he could lick his wounds at home. David was close behind him.

“Thanks for checking in,” Ronnie called after them.

“Is everything okay?” David asked. “You look more pale than normal.”

Patrick waited until they were outside to tell David what happened.

“So, you’re telling me that confrontation didn’t work?” David said jokingly as he pushed open the door to the shop.

Patrick shot him a look. He didn’t want to joke right now. He felt terrible for treating Ronnie like that and assuming she had bad intentions when her intentions couldn’t have been better. He just wanted to go to the backroom and sulk for a bit longer.

“Hey,” David said softly, grabbing Patrick by the elbow. He pulled him into his arms, holding him close. “I’m proud of you for standing up for us. Even though it was ill-advised.”

Patrick gave him a weak smile.

“Thanks.”

“It could’ve been much worse,” he said. “She could’ve like, come in with a sledgehammer and destroyed it all and then we’d be back at square one.”

“Okay, David.”

“I mean, they only laughed at you a little—”

Okay, David!”

David grinned, then leaned forward and gave him a soft peck on the lips.

“Now, we need to make it up to her and do something you’re good at.”

“Olive branch?”

“Olive branch.”

They spent the next hour putting together a basket of quality products they thought Ronnie would enjoy. Patrick let David do most of the picking and arranging because honestly, he still felt like garbage. He hated making people feel unappreciated or letting them think he was ungrateful. He was especially grateful for all the work Ronnie had done (it did look good) and that she was scrupulous about saving them money. He just didn’t see it when he was so focused on the money they were losing from having a closed bathroom.

Once the basket was perfectly constructed, he and David walked from the store to Ronnie’s house. Luckily, she was only about a half-mile away.

“What are you going to say to her?” David asked him as they approached. She was coincidentally at her truck, loading things in the back.

“I don’t know.”

“You haven’t rehearsed how you’ll apologize, and take back everything you said…”

“I don’t regret what I did.”

“Well, look who it is,” Ronnie said when they got to her.

“Ronnie, we want to apologize for the miscommunication this afternoon,” Patrick explained.

“We?” David said.

“What’s that?” she asked, nodding to the basket.

“This is just a, an expression of our continued appreciation.”

He passed her the basket and she gave it a quick once-over before setting it down on the truck bed.

“I don’t see any of that blue cheese in here,” she noted.

“David, did you put any of the blue cheese in there for Ronnie?” Patrick asked his boyfriend quietly.

“That cheese was very expensive,” David answered. It was one of the things David had picked up as something Ronnie would like, but then put it back because he was right, it was very expensive.

“We’d be happy to run some over,” Patrick assured her. “So, what would be the update on the tiles, then?”

“Funny you should ask,” Ronnie said as she shut the gate of her truck. “I was just heading out to run them over.”

“Ah!”

“Hm. So, I wonder if you still need the basket, then,” David said.

“Oh, I still need the basket.”

This was progress. She was going to finish the tiles and they’d be closer to being done. Well, as long as there weren’t any other issues.

“So, uh, does this mean that the whole project could be wrapped up then, by tonight?” Patrick asked eagerly.

“Did I just say that I was heading out right now?” Ronnie replied, walking around the truck with her basket.

“Yes, she did!” David answered, glancing back at Patrick.

“She did, great,” Patrick agreed. “Uh, so, should we just jump in with you?”

“I don’t think so,” Ronnie responded, clearly uninterested in that idea.

“What about just me then, Ronnie?” David asked.

She gave him a look, then got in the truck. The door slammed shut.

David gently placed his hands on Patrick’s shoulders.

“This went well… I think,” David said.

“Yeah,” Patrick said reluctantly.

The truck started up and both men backed away to give Ronnie space to move her vehicle. They waved as she pulled out and away from her driveway, leaving them on the sidewalk.

Patrick felt… better. Not great, but he was glad that Ronnie wasn’t furious with him. The whole situation had certainly taught him a lesson about working with contractors.

“You ready to go back to the store?” David asked.

“Yup.”

David took Patrick’s hand in his and laced their fingers together. Even though Patrick felt awful, he was thankful for David. He caught Patrick when he fell and that meant everything to him. He knew how much this project meant to Patrick and wanted to support him through it.

“I love you, you know,” Patrick said, breaking the silence.

“I love you too,” David replied automatically. “What’s brought this on?”

Patrick shrugged.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t say it enough or tell you I appreciate you.”

“Well, know that I will never tire of hearing it.”

David gave him a soft smile and squeezed his hand.

Yeah, it was all going to be alright.

(The bathroom ended up gorgeous. The wait for the tiles was worth it.)

Chapter Text

Patrick stood under the spray of the shower, letting the hot water rush over him. He was thankful he lived in an apartment building with an endless supply because in a house there would be none if he showered after David. Showering with David, on the other hand, was usually a nighttime activity. (Unsurprisingly, they tended not to focus on actually getting clean when they showered together.)

There was a knock on the bathroom door before it swung open. He felt a gust of cool air from the apartment enter his warm shower cocoon.

“Sorry, sorry, I forgot to moisturize,” David said from the sink. Patrick could hear him unscrewing the lid from his moisturizer and setting it down on the porcelain.

Patrick shut off the water and grabbed his towel from the hook. He quickly dried himself off before pulling back the curtain to find his tall boyfriend furiously rubbing moisturizer into his skin. David was completely dressed and ready, which somehow made the fact that Patrick was completely naked super hot to him.

“You forgot to moisturize? Don’t you do this routine every morning?” Patrick asked as he wrapped the towel around his waist.

“Well, when someone surprises you with a blowjob in the bathroom, your brain tends to turn off,” David said.

Patrick sidled up to David at the sink. He took his leave-in conditioner off the shelf and worked a dab into his damp hair. They didn’t generally do anything in the bathroom together since it was a tight fit with both of them at the sink. Patrick’s heart warmed at how domestic this felt, as he caught David’s eye in the mirror.

“Are you complaining?”

David gave him a heated look.

“I just would’ve appreciated a different time and place,” he replied. “Like, earlier and in bed.”

“Is that so you could’ve been lying down?”

“Mhm, that’s precisely why.”

Patrick chuckled. They finished at the same time, so he pulled David in for a soft kiss. He left his hands on David’s waist as David smoothed his palms over Patrick’s bare chest.

“I can’t help myself sometimes,” he murmured. “You’re so hot.”

A blush rose to David’s cheeks. Patrick watched as he fought a big smile.

“Well, I mean, that’s a good reason, I suppose,” David replied before leaning in and kissing Patrick again. It was a slow and sensual kiss that gave Patrick goosebumps.

When he started to feel his cock stir under his towel, it was time to cool off. Patrick pulled back.

“I have to get dressed.”

“You don’t have to…”

“Oh, so you want to open the store by yourself?”

David pouted and Patrick laughed. He slapped David on the ass before exiting the bathroom.

Patrick was in great spirits today. A few months ago, Matt, one of the cooks at Café Tropical, approached him to join the café-sponsored community baseball team and today was their championship game against Bob’s Garage.

It had been years since Patrick last played baseball. He was the varsity catcher in high school and joined an intramural team in college, but since then, he hadn’t had many opportunities to play. Moving to Schitt’s Creek made that harder since no one knew he even liked baseball. Eventually, there was a day when the kitchen was broadcasting a Blue Jays v. Red Sox game on the radio. Patrick asked if they could turn it up, which then sparked a conversation with Matt, who then asked Patrick if he wanted to join the team… It was such a relief to finally meet someone to talk sports with. Patrick loved David so much, but he really missed having debates over the shift and mid-season trades.

The team was made up of folks from all over the town which included a few more folks from Café Tropical, a few recent college grads who had moved back home, and Bob’s wife Gwen, who, oddly, was not playing for her husband’s company-sponsored team.

Patrick was admittedly very nervous to join them at first. He didn’t know what to expect. Were they good? Were they terrible? Baseball had the tendency to bring out his competitive side and if the team was bad, he wasn’t sure how well he’d take it.

Thankfully, they were pretty good. It turned out, a few of the other folks were in the same boat as him – played in high school and/or a little bit in college – and they all remembered how to play. And they worked well as a team. After a couple practices, they decided to make Patrick a co-captain and gave him the nickname of ‘Brewsky’, which only made him love them more. It was so nice to have an activity outside of the store and David, something that was just his .

The tournament was almost over. They knocked out the grocery store team in the first round and completely shut out the team of teachers from the local school district. Their victory would be sealed this afternoon once the final out was made.

Just as Patrick was pulling on his dress shoes – they did still have to open the store for a half-day – he got a text from Matt.

8:30am: Hey Brewsky
8:30am: Bad news
8:30am: Gwen’s out
8:30am: She’s meeting up with some guy she met online out in Brush Hill.

Patrick’s heart fell. They needed 9 players. They didn’t have a bench to pull from.

8:31am: What are we supposed to do?
8:32am: Well I can text the team to see if they know anyone who can pinch hit for us?
8:32am: I don’t see any other options if we want to play today
8:33am: Alright man
8:33am: Let me know if you find someone
8:33am: Of course
8:34am: Bring your stuff regardless
8:34am: We’ll have enough players
8:34am: Even if we have to pull from the crowd
8:35am: Sounds good

Patrick couldn’t believe it. Why would Gwen screw them like that? She seemed excited about the game. It didn’t make any sense.

He pulled out his bag and started stuffing it with his baseball uniform, then equipment.

“Is today the baseball day?” David asked, now standing behind him.

“Today was supposed to be the baseball day, yes,” Patrick said sadly, turning to face David.

“The finale?” David really didn’t have a clue about sports.

“Championship.”

“Same thing,” he said with a tight smile before sitting down in a chair. “Um, what time did you need me to show up to watch you play the baseball?” The plan was that they’d open the store together, then close early so Patrick could get changed and to the field to warm-up and for David to change back at the motel before the game.

Though, now those plans were a thing of the past.

“Well, as of right now, there might not be anything for you to watch,” Patrick said as he sat down at the end of his bed.

“Oh?”

“Gwen dropped out,” he explained. “Apparently she has to go see a friend she met on the internet, so… we are missing a right fielder.”

“Can you play both parts?” David asked. Despite his incorrect terminology, Patrick appreciated how genuinely concerned he seemed over the game.

“Positions,” Patrick gently corrected him. “And no. That’s the whole problem. We will forfeit the game if we can’t come up with a ninth player.”

“Well, on the upside,” David said. “There is an Isabelle Huppert double feature playing at the Elmdale Art House.” Patrick had no idea who that was.

“David, I can’t bail on the game. I just have to find a ninth player.”

“Okay, well, good luck. It sounds a bit last minute.” David rose from his chair and headed toward the kitchen. As he walked away, Patrick got to stare at David’s ass in those pants. These were a bit tighter and weren’t covered by the skirt he sometimes wore. Baseball was already on his brain, so it made sense that his mind briefly began imagining David in a team uniform…

Then Patrick had an idea.

“You know, they really don’t even have to do anything,” he explained. “They pretty much just stand there.” He followed David into the kitchen where the latter was retrieving orange juice from the fridge.

“Have you asked Ronnie?” David asked.

Oof. Sore spot.

“Uh, she is on the other team, and I’m pretty sure she hates me after the bathroom incident.”

“Oh, I forgot about that,” David said apologetically before pouring juice into a mug. (He alleged that condensation so soon after his morning skincare routine ruined the rejuvenation of his skin. Patrick wasn’t convinced.)

This was Patrick’s opening.

“Hey, you know what, David,” he said casually. He knew this was going to be a tough sell. “Since you were already planning on being there, maybe-maybe you—"

“Absolutely not!” David replied as he walked over to where Patrick was standing.

“Just two hours of your life—"

“No, no, no, no, no, no!”

“We just need a body!”

“Then go to the morgue!”

“I will cover you if any flies come your way,” Patrick begged. He played center field and could cover both positions.

“I have a spray for that,” David argued, clearly not understanding what Patrick meant by ‘flies’. “And you know my stance on team sports.”

“I do. ‘Given today’s political climate, we don’t need to divide ourselves any more than we already have.’,” Patrick said, almost by rote. Any time he had had a game of any sport on the TV or radio David would say this exact sentence word-for-word.

“Correct.”

Patrick had one more trick up his sleeve. He sidled up to David and seductively asked, “Have I mentioned to you that there will be a… barbecue after?”

David stared at him for a moment, before looking away, clearly taking in this new information. It was a delight to watch David’s face as he was likely regretting what he was about to say.

“I have a couple questions.”

Yes! Patrick really did know his boyfriend.

“How many of the questions are about the barbecue?” Patrick asked.

“Most of them,” David answered. “Like, how soon after the game is the barbecue? And will the players get to eat first? And if so, who’s enforcing that rule?”

God, Patrick couldn’t believe that David Rose, the man who was against any athletic venture, just agreed to play in a baseball game with him. David was stubborn. He could’ve stood his ground. But he didn’t. He’d said yes . It was the best ‘yes’ he’d heard since David had said ‘yes’ to their first date.

Patrick wrapped his arms around David who huddled with his mug of orange juice.

“I love you, David,” he said happily before giving him a few soft kisses on his temple to say thank you.

“Okay, I… you say that now, but I don’t do well with running,” David said.

Patrick pulled back. He was still smiling.

“Alright,” he said, patting David on the back. He walked over to his bag, zipped it up, and picked up his phone.

8:40am: I found our ninth player.
8:40am: OMG how??? Who???
8:40am: I convinced David to play with us.
8:41am: H O W
8:41am: Doesn’t matter.
8:41am: Can you bring your spare uniform to the motel at noon? David’s around your size and definitely your shoe size.
8:42am: Of course
8:42am: Big feet? You know what that means, right?
8:42am: Like you wouldn’t believe.


 

They’d made it back to the motel after what turned out to be a tense morning at the store. It was primarily tense because David grew exponentially more concerned as the clock ticked closer to game time. He did end up asking Patrick all of his barbecue questions (“Who’s cooking the food? Will there be a variety of meats available? Do you know if there will be mesquite options? Is it more Texas barbecue or Kansas City barbecue, or is it only called a barbecue because everything’s being cooked on a grill? I’m not complaining either way, I just need to know where to set my expectations.”) and Patrick was able to answer exactly none of them.

Matt dropped off the uniform and the moment he placed the clothes in David’s hands, David looked like he had, the time Patrick and Stevie asked him to compromise. He murmured something about the quality of the fabric before Patrick gently shuffled him into the bathroom. (Patrick had changed when they’d initially arrived.)

Then Patrick sat down at the table and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

He figured it was less about how complicated the clothing was and more about the psychological issues David was silently working through alone in the bathroom.

Regardless, Patrick waited, drumming his fingers on the table.

He still couldn’t believe he’d gotten David to agree to play baseball with him. First of all, seeing David move his body in an unfamiliar way was already a delight to watch. Secondly, he was going to get to see David in a baseball uniform .

When he played in high school, Patrick always got a little too excited to see his team in uniform. He had said it was because they looked good and like a team, etc. but now that he was an adult and fully aware of his preferences, he realized it was because he had the hots for half of the varsity baseball team. (It didn’t help that as a catcher he had the best view of all the players’ butts.) He never took umbrage to the pitcher/catcher jokes that were thrown at him unlike the back-up catcher who had socked their shortstop in the eye for insinuating he was being fucked by their relief pitcher. Meanwhile, Patrick enjoyed the jokes that he was bending over for their star pitcher. At the time he thought he was simply taking them in stride when in fact he genuinely would have let their star pitcher, Anthony Damiano, do anything he wanted to him.

His imagination suddenly put David in Damiano’s spot, bringing him all the way back to senior year of high school. He thought about the unconscious crush he’d had on Damiano and how he could’ve had a real one on David had he known earlier. They could’ve practiced together, been roommates for away trips, made out in the equipment shed…

The bathroom door swung open and David stepped out, wearing his new uniform, looking very unenthused. Patrick loved David’s sweaters, he really did, but it was so rare for him to see David in form-fitting clothing. He could see the actual shape of David’s body, something that was typically only reserved for the bedroom and it was doing things to Patrick. Though there was something absolutely hilarious about seeing David wearing a baseball cap.

“Wow…” Patrick finally said. He was in genuine disbelief that David was standing before him in a baseball uniform.

“Okay, just so you’re aware, I had a very cute ‘my boyfriend’s on the baseball team’ spectator look prepared for today, and now I’m wearing tap shoes,” David said.

“They’re called cleats, and I think you look very cute,” he told him. That was when Patrick decided this outfit was going to get some use in the future.

“That’s a given,” David agreed. “This just isn’t how I pictured being a placeholder rolling out.”

Patrick was reinvigorated. It was easy to say that David was currently giving him life.

He reached behind him to grab his second baseball mitt.

“Here!” he said, tossing the glove to David. “I thought we could head outside, maybe throw the ball around a little bit.”

David held the glove gingerly in his fingers.

“This glove is brown. My shoes are black. What exactly are we doing here?”

“We’re gonna practice?”

“Practice what?! You told me I was just a body in a field!”

Just then, the adjoining door swung open and Mr. Rose entered wearing… the other team’s uniform.

“Hey, Patrick.”

“Hey, Mr. Rose.”

Mr. Rose turned to finally get a glimpse of David.

“Whoa…”

“What are you doing?!” David asked his father.

“Well, what are you doing?” Mr. Rose asked.

“Patrick’s forcing me to be on his team for the game today.”

Okay, Patrick was way too pleased with himself when he heard that sentence tumble out of David’s mouth. Not only did they have nine players and were going to win, but he was playing baseball with David.

“Well, Roland and Ronnie wanted me to be on their team for the game today,” Mr. Rose explained.

“Oh my god!” David said exasperatedly.

Oh, so Ronnie’s team was in the same position they were in, trying to find a ninth player for the game, and they somehow got someone even less athletic than David.

“That’s funny,” Patrick said, chuckling. “’Cause Ronnie’s been telling me all week how stacked her team is!” That’s when he realized Mr. Rose was staring right at him. “So yeah, so this makes sense.”

“Oh,” Mr. Rose said quietly before turning to his son. “Well, David, I’m surprised to see you back in a uniform.”

A record scratched in Patrick’s head.

“Whoa, I’m sorry, ‘ back in a uniform’?” Now he was intrigued. He needed to hear every detail of whatever this was about.

“Okay, we don’t need to get into it…” David rebuffed.

“He didn’t tell you?” Mr. Rose said. Patrick shook his head. “Well, David holds the little league record for most times hit by a ball.”

That was simultaneously the most precious and the most David thing he’d ever heard.

“That’s assuming it wasn’t intentional,” David argued before admitting, “They let me go home early.”

“So, where are you putting him?” Mr. Rose asked Patrick.

“Right field.”

“Okay, well, I’ll try and get everyone to pull the ball to the left.”

Patrick laughed. David threw his hands up.

“Well, thank you, Mr. Rose, but we’re trying to keep morale high,” he said. “David and I are actually just going outside to throw the ball around.”

“Well, that sounds like fun. I think I’ll oil up the glove and join you,” Mr. Rose said.

“Ew! Please don’t,” David objected.

“Oh, David. Don’t worry, you’ll be great.” Mr. Rose paused. “I just wish I’d kept that helmet I got you.” With that, he retreated back into his room, leaving David and Patrick alone in David’s.

There was silence while David looked down at the glove in his hands.

“Does this come in black?” he said, referring to the glove.

Patrick did indeed have a black glove, but it was brand new. It was a little gift to himself for joining the team this year. His brown glove had been around since his days playing intramural baseball in college. It was loose, having been pulled over his hand hundreds – potentially thousands – of times. And the black glove had gotten them this far in the tournament. It was lucky. (Baseball players were notoriously superstitious, and Patrick was no exception.)

“You can use mine,” Patrick said, choking out the words.

He stared at David for a beat, silently wishing that he was kidding. But of course, he wasn’t, so Patrick went and dug his prized mitt out of his bag. He tossed it to David who awkwardly caught it between his hands.

“Thanks,” David said as he slid the brown glove onto the table. Then Patrick was privileged enough to witness David attempting to get the glove on his hand. David examined the base of the glove. “Um, which hand does this go on?”

“Your left.”

“But I’m better at catching things with my right.” David was now currently trying to delicately slide his hand into the mitt. It was not going well.

“Then are you confident enough to throw with your left?”

“Uh, there are very few things I’m confident enough to do with my left hand,” David said, grunting occasionally as he continued his futile attempt to get the glove on. “And I’m pretty sure you know all of them.”

With one final frustrated groan, David pulled the glove off and slapped it down on the table.

“How is this possible? Your hand is not that much smaller than mine,” David said as Patrick picked up the black glove and easily slid it onto his hand.

“I guess it just prefers me,” Patrick said smugly. He leaned over and patted David on the shoulder. “Besides, by the end of the day, your shoes will likely be covered in dirt. So they will match your glove.”

David glared at him as he slowly picked up the brown glove.

“This barbecue better be good because you did not tell me about the dirt.”

“David, it’s outside. Of course, it’s in the dirt.”

“Well, I don’t know! I thought maybe there was some indoor arena or something!”

“Where would there be an indoor arena in Schitt’s Creek?”

“I don’t know!”

Patrick took a ball out of his bag then motioned towards the door. “Let’s go.”

David groaned and reluctantly followed him outside, grabbing his large white sunglasses on the way.

Once they were outside, Patrick led David to a spot on the lawn.

“Okay, stand here.” David did as he was told – with a hand on his hip, of course.

Patrick jogged out about 10 feet and turned to face David.

“You ready?”

“Uh, yeah,” David said unenthusiastically.

Patrick decided an easy pitch would be best. He wound up and threw a ground ball. It landed a few feet from David – who was watching it intently – before rolling away toward the motel rooms where Mr. Rose was just exiting.

“Okay, next time, can you make sure the ball goes into my glove?” David said, pointing to his glove. “Thanks so much.”

“It’s a ground ball, David,” Patrick explained sarcastically. “So, in a game situation, it is possible that the ball won’t be hit directly into your glove.”

Mr. Rose picked up their ball and had stopped next to David.

“How’s it going, boys?” he asked jovially. “Do you mind if a toss a few?”

“That’d be great, Mr. Rose,” Patrick said. He was grateful the elder Rose was as interested in baseball as he was. “That way I won’t be the only one chasing the ball whenever I ‘miss David’s glove.’”

“Okay,” David said defensively. “The last thing I need right now are two people coaching me on something I didn’t wanna do in the first place.”

“Well, it’s more for me, David,” Mr. Rose said. “Popeye’s arm isn’t what it used to be.”

“Nobody’s gonna call you Popeye,” David rebutted dismissively.

Regardless, Mr. Rose wound up and threw the ball to Patrick, a decent throw for someone who hadn’t played in a long time. He easily threw it back to him as a truck pulled up to the motel. The truck parked and of course, it was the last two people Patrick wanted to see before game time today: Ronnie and Roland.

“Whoa, hold it,” Roland said, puzzled. “Uh, Johnny? What are we doing here?”

“Just tossing the ball around, Roland. No big deal,” Mr. Rose said.

“Wait, David’s your sub?” Ronnie asked, pointing a finger at David. She and Roland then burst out laughing. “I thought you told me your team was stacked!”

“Good to see you too, Ronnie,” Patrick said, avoiding eye contact. Anger quietly simmered in his stomach.

She dismissed him with a simple, “Yeah.”

“Dave, be honest with me,” Roland said. “Are you just playing to make your dad look good?” He started laughing again. “I may have to call my bookie again, right?”

“Okay, this is passive harassment,” David said, clearly annoyed by all this ribbing. He wasn’t used to this kind of talk, particularly around sports. Usually it was all in jest, but this had a bite to it.

“Anyway,” Ronnie began. “We just stopped by to say we’re having a little pre-game bevvy and pep talk at my place. If you want to join us, Johnny.”

“Well, I think I’ll just stick around, and uh, loosen up a bit, Ronnie.” Patrick was happy Mr. Rose was staying. Maybe he’d be able to teach David a thing or two since David wasn’t listening to him.

“Johnny, I don’t think it’s really ethical for you to be doing spring training with the enemy!” Roland joshed.

“He’s not the enemy, Roland. He’s my son.” Roland scoffed.

“There are no sons in baseball!

“What?” Johnny was utterly baffled.

“I’d argue most baseball players are somebody’s son,” Patrick interrupted with a weak attempt at a joke.

Ronnie squinted at him.

“So, what does that make me?” she countered.

“Oooh!” Roland said with a snicker.

Patrick deflated. He knew it wasn’t a good joke, but he said most baseball players and it was just a joke . Where was the good sportsmanship? This was supposed to be fun yet all Patrick felt was frustration and embarrassment.

“No but,” he tried to argue. “Just ‘cause he, he said there’s—”

“Yeah, you know what? Good luck,” Ronnie announced loudly, throwing her hands in the air. “‘Cause you all are gonna need it.” She then singled out Patrick. “Yeah, I’m looking at you.”

“Yeah,” Patrick replied coolly.  

Ronnie cackled again as she and Roland returned to the truck.

“Wow,” David commented once they were out of earshot. “Well, she is really not a fan.”

“Oh man, I wanna win this game,” Patrick murmured through clenched teeth.

He wanted to show Ronnie that he wasn’t a pushover or pathetic, but a force to be reckoned with. Or at the very least someone she should respect.

“Okay, you told me it was just for fun, though!” David said.

“Well, it is for fun, David, but a little rivalry is part of the fun,” Johnny explained. “It’s like when we used to play the Catholic kids from Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow.” He suddenly looked a bit haunted. “The worst school cheer I ever heard.”

“And how did that go?” David asked.

“All I remember is, there was a lot of moaning and wailing.”

“Ew.”

As much as Patrick wanted to hear about Mr. Rose’s time in school, they really needed to practice.

“Hey, let’s run some more drills, yeah?” Patrick suggested. He backed up a little further from David and Mr. Rose so they had more space to throw.

“Sounds like a great idea, Patrick,” Mr. Rose said. “Here, David.” He held the ball out to his son. “Why don’t you try throwing the ball to Patrick?”

David looked disdainfully at the ball.

“Um, so Patrick and I agreed that I would just be a body on a field, not that I’d have to do any of this stuff,” he said.

Patrick was quickly realizing that that was the worst thing he could have said to David.

“Well, you’ll have to throw the ball at some point,” Johnny said. “What are you going to do if you have to get the ball to the pitcher?”

“I don’t know! Walk it over to them?!” David was getting more frustrated with both of them.

Mr. Rose glanced over at Patrick, looking for assistance.

“Did I also neglect to mention that you would need to bat?” Patrick said timidly. David stared at him in disbelief. “Like, hit the ball with the—” He gestured like he was swinging a bat.

David groaned loudly.

“This just gets worse by the second!”


After spending about an hour on the basics in the field around the motel, the three men finally relocated to the baseball field where the game (and barbecue) was subsequently taking place. Mr. Rose peeled off to join the opposing team while David and Patrick entered the dugout for the Café Tropical team.

“Hey, Brewsky! You made it!” Matt said, pulling Patrick in for a bro hug. He set his eyes on David, with a big smile on his face. “And our pinch hitter!” He tried to do the same hand-clasp-half-hug thing to David who was clearly having none of it.

“There will be no pinching today,” David stated clearly.

Patrick pulled their gloves out of the bag and passed David the brown one.

“Well, let me introduce the team,” Matt continued excitedly. “That’s Dreamboy, Freak, Treasure Trail, Haggis, Three Card, and Nipples.” He pointed to each member of the team and they gave a small wave when he did. “And I’m Matterhorn.”

“Yeah, I will be saying none of that,” David informed them with a flourish of his hand.

“Game should be starting shortly,” Matt said. “Ump had to unload the grill out of the back of his truck.”

David’s eyes lit up at the mention of the grill.

The team got their gear on as they waited for the umpire to get onto the field. Once he got to home plate, that signaled the teams to send their captains out for the coin toss to see who was batting first. Matt nudged Patrick.

“You got us our ninth player,” he said.

Patrick nodded and left the dugout to meet with the ump. Of course, so did the other team’s captain.

“Patrick.”

“Ronnie.”

“I hope you’ve enjoyed your team’s run in the tournament this year because it’s about to end today.”

“You mean with us walking away with the trophy? That’s so kind of you to say, Ronnie.”

The ump cleared his throat. That shut them both up. He then brandished a dull quarter.

“The lady calls it,” he said gruffly before flipping it in the air.

“Tails,” Ronnie said confidently.

He caught the coin and slapped it on the back of his hand.

“Heads.”

Patrick pumped his fist while Ronnie rolled her eyes. The ump turned to him.

“We’ll field first.” Immediately, Patrick heard a couple excited hoots from his team.

The ump nodded before dismissing the captains. The Café Tropical team poured out of the dugout and took their places on the field. David was last. He looked nervous as he handed Patrick his glove.

“I don’t know where I’m supposed to be going,” he said. “Stage right or stage left?” Patrick chuckled.

Right field ,” Patrick gently corrected him. He patted David on the butt with his glove. “I’ll show you.”


It was the top of the second inning and already they were down 3-1. It was a bad start when Roland hit a homerun as the very first batter. Patrick had never seen Matt get so nervous on the mound. Thankfully, this half inning was close to being over. They just needed one more out.

“Alright now, two away!” Patrick yelled to his team. “Alright, players to first and second! Outfield in a little bit, two away now, let’s go!” When things got dicey, he had a habit of coaching from the outfield. It usually drew mixed reviews from his team, but today they seemed desperate for any sort of direction. The first and second basemen edged closer to their plates as Mr. Rose was already on first from a grounder to third. Haggis, who was in left field, moved closer to the diamond by about 5 feet.

But David? David had never experienced Patrick when he was in competition mode.

“Okay, I don’t know who this is,” he said, gesturing to Patrick. “But can we put him back in the box?”

“David! Keep your glove up!” Mr. Rose suddenly yelled from first base. “Protect your face!”

“Hey Johnny! No coaching,” Roland reminded him from near the dugout.

“Always be ready!” Mr. Rose continued. He was just as worried about David as Patrick was.

“Ugh!” David responded in frustration.

“Johnny, why don’t you just put on a little apron, and serve them the win on a silver platter?” Roland mocked.

“I’m just helping out my son, Roland,” Mr. Rose said. “The kid has no idea what he’s doing!”

“I can hear you!” David said.

Patrick tried to tune out the conversation happening near him to focus on the game. Ronnie was up. She had a tendency to hit pop flies, so the outfielders needed to be paying attention. He started dancing foot to foot, anxiously awaiting the pitch.

Matt bent to ready the pitch, and Patrick instinctively crouched, ready to run in any direction for the ball.

Ting!

The ball struck the aluminum bat and went sailing into right field.

“You can do it, David!” Mr. Rose said as he ran from first to second base.

But David didn’t have it. He had his glove up, yes, but he was a good two feet in front of where the ball was going to drop. Patrick rushed up behind him to cover him, just like he said he would.

“Get out of the way, David!” he said, coming dangerously close to missing an easy out. Instead, the ball dropped right into his mitt and the inning was over. He circled back around. “It’s okay, David, I got it.” He lovingly tapped David on the elbow with his glove.

“Hey, you know what? It’s not okay,” David snapped at him. “I’m doing you the favor. You told me I was just a body in a field, not a body that has to catch things flying very fast in the air! So—” David pulled off his glove and awkwardly threw it to the ground. “I’m out!” He stomped off in the direction of the dugout.

“Well, actually, David, uh, Ronnie’s out, and the inning’s over, and technically you’re walking in the right direction,” Patrick said in a feeble attempt to be supportive. It was challenging for him to walk the line of being team captain and David’s partner at the same time. His competitive drive was compelling him to push, but he knew it would only lead to more hostile comments from David.

“Well, that’s good for you, then. Please get my glove,” David said without pausing or stopping.

Patrick did as David asked, retrieving his glove from the ground. It was time to put on his boyfriend hat. He jogged up to catch up to him.

“Hey,” he said tenderly. “You’re doing a really great job out there.”

“Well, great. Apparently, I excel at standing helplessly in a field,” David said sarcastically.

“David, that’s not what I meant—”

“It doesn’t matter.” David waved his hand back at him as he entered the dugout.

This was not what he had planned.


The rest of the game went about as well as the first two innings. They fell behind, despite scoring five runs in the fourth inning. Somehow Ronnie’s team was able to rack up six runs over the course of three innings, bringing them to a score of 9-6.

“Hey, Patrick!” Ronnie said as she approached him near his own dugout. “I don’t mean to put any pressure on you, but you do realize that it’s the bottom of the ninth, two out, bases are loaded, and the game’s on the line, right?”

There could not be a worse situation for a coach to find themself in.

“Yeah, I realize that, thank you, Ronnie,” he replied coldly. He was doing everything in his power to control the competitiveness that was growing in his chest and solely focus on the game.

Patrick couldn’t explain what happened. Matt was deliriously nervous on the mound the first couple innings, seemed to get in the groove in the fourth, but Patrick could see he was getting tired in the seventh. Matt had pitched double-headers and been completely fine. Why was he tired today of all days? The rest of the team was off their game too, swinging at bad pitches and striking out on good ones. Maybe Gwen was their good luck charm. She hadn’t missed a game until today and they’d never done so poorly until today.

Then again, there was another factor to consider.

“So, who’s up?” she asked knowingly.

“Oh, I think you know who’s up,” he said bitterly, causing Ronnie to walk away cackling and David to appear from behind him. He was happily snacking on a bag of chips.

“The barbecue guy wasn’t ready, but he gave me some chips,” David informed him. Clearly David thought the game was just about over (and it practically was), but they needed to really nail the coffin shut.

“Okay, David, you’re up,’ Patrick said. “But I’m gonna talk to the ump and see if we can pinch-hit for you.” Freak was their best hitter who could step in without a moment’s notice.

“Why? It’s the only part of this stupid game that I’m actually good at.”

“Well, you struck out three times, so…” David was actually not good at it.

“I tipped it that one time! You even admitted that!” David argued.

“No, that’s true,” Patrick admitted. He couldn’t tell David that simply making contact with the ball wasn’t enough. “And that was a, that was a great tip. It’s just that we’re trying to win here.” He gave David a weak smile, hoping that he wasn’t losing boyfriend points as his competitive side took over.

Roland, who was playing catcher, popped up and wandered over to get their attention.

“Hey, hey! Do we have a batter, or what?! What’s going on?” he asked.

Without hesitation, David shot his hand up in the air as he gave Patrick a hard stare.

“Yeah, I’m doing it,” he declared. “I’m doing the batting.”

He traded his chips for the batting helmet in Patrick’s hand, then removed his cap to pass to Patrick as well. The look David gave him as he pulled the helmet over his tragically flattened hair was not one of a happy boyfriend.

“Oh, okay, great! Alright!” Roland said as he returned to his spot behind the plate.

“Okay.” Patrick couldn’t believe they were about to lose this game.

David grabbed a bat and exited the dugout.

“Easy out, everyone, easy out!” Roland announced, laughing. He got into catching position as David determinedly approached the plate.  “Fire up the grill, we’ll be there in a couple of seconds!”

“Okay, everyone shut up!” David snapped. “Ronnie, throw the thing.”

Crouching slightly, David held up the bat, ready to swing. Ronnie aimed, then pitched, the final pitch of the game sealing their fate.

David swung…

Ting!

The ball sailed into left field.

He hit the ball! David hit the ball!

“Oh my god! Run, David, run!” Patrick yelled.

“Way to go, son!” Johnny cheered.

And run David did. He rounded the first base, still carrying the bat.

One runner was in. 9-7.

“This is it! Go, David! Drop the bat!”

David finally dropped the bat somewhere near second base. He really wasn’t kidding about being a bad runner.

Two runners in. 9-8.

Johnny finally got a hold of the ball in left field as David passed third.

“All the way, David! All the way!” They were so close!

Three runners in. 9-9.

Johnny threw the ball. David was so close, almost there…

The ball nailed David right between the shoulder blades, propelling him to trip and slide into home.

“Safe!” called the ump.

David hit a grand slam! They won! They actually won!

The Café Tropical team erupted in cheers. Patrick rushed over to David who was still facedown in the dirt.

“Are you okay?” He gently touched David’s back. David rolled slightly to look up at him.

“Did I do it?” he asked, completely winded from running and getting hit by the ball.

“You did it,” Patrick was happy to inform him. “You did it!” He laughed out of joy as he helped David off the ground.

Their team came streaming out of the dugout to join them in cheering and clapping, celebrating their victory. Judging by the faces of his teammates, they couldn’t believe they’d won either, and especially that it was David Rose who won it for them.

David beamed . Patrick had never seen him smile like that. He was so proud of his partner. In a pinch, he stepped in and played a game that he was vehemently against just for Patrick , and he won them the game!

Patrick walked through their cheering circle to pull David in for a hug, and kiss him on the cheek. The team cheered for a bit longer as the other team gathered themselves together in their dugout. The only person from the opposing team who came over to congratulate David was his own father.

“Great job, David!” he said, patting his son on the back. “I knew you had it in you!”

“Well, I’m glad someone did because I certainly didn’t,” David said, a smile still tugging at his lips.

Just then, Ronnie approached him, her hand out.

“Congratulations, Patrick,” she said cordially. He took her hand for a firm shake.

“Thank you, Ronnie.”

“Don’t think this makes up for what you did.”

“Oh, I know it doesn’t,” he said. “But it definitely helps.”

She gave him a near imperceptible smile before retreating to her dugout.

A hand landed on his shoulder. It was Matt.

“Good game, man,” he smiled.

“Good game!”

“Food’s ready,” Matt informed him. “David’s already in line.” Sure enough, David had dumped the helmet and gloves for his baseball cap and was already halfway through the table.

Patrick laughed. He wasn’t surprised at all.

“Well, let’s eat!”

Once their plates were loaded up with food, Matt and Patrick joined David and the rest of their team at a picnic table, discussing a play-by-play of the game. Patrick loved hearing his teammates compliment David on his batting and would gently squeeze David’s thigh every time they did. He wished his competitive side would’ve let him enjoy the game more because he didn’t remember a lot of these moments like they all did. It was almost like he wasn’t there. He was so focused on winning and beating Ronnie that he’d missed some of the best parts of the game, apparently. And it sounded like win or lose, their team still would’ve been happy either way. They’d had an incredible season and had really bonded over their love of the game.

It wasn’t long before Chris’s daughter was pulling him away to play catch with her. Then Jenny’s wife, who was 8 months pregnant with twins, needed to get home. Then Victor got a call from his mother in Ukraine. Soon, the whole team was off doing other things, leaving just David and Patrick.

“Seconds?” David asked.

“That’s definitely your third plate,” Patrick answered, pointing to the empty Styrofoam plate in front of David. “And I think I’m good, but I’ll come with you.” It was pointless to stay at an empty picnic table when there were other folks who could use it.

He followed David to the buffet table and watched him selectively load up on more food. There were clearly dishes David preferred over others because the residue on his plate was still present. As David waited for Harold to finish grilling a new set of hot dogs, Patrick watched him roll his shoulders uncomfortably several times. He was still hurting from being hit in the back by the ball.

Patrick ducked over to Matt’s girlfriend who was sitting with their toddler.

“Can I borrow one of your ice packs?” he asked, gesturing to their cooler.

“Oh, go ahead!” she said.

“Thank you so much.” He pulled out a mostly-frozen pack before turning around to see David who hadn’t gotten any further than the condiment table before he sat down to eat.

Patrick chuckled to himself. He loved this man so much.

“Hey, I got you this for your back.” He held up the ice pack for David to see.

“Oh, thank you so much,” David said. “I was wondering if my back was hurting from that or if it was just acting up from that time I fell ice skating with Nicole Ritchie in Rockefeller Plaza.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty certain it was the getting hit in the back by a ball.”

“Mm. Probably.”

As David took another bite of his hotdog, Patrick placed the ice pack on David’s back where the baseball hit him.

“When you get hit in the back playing a game you never wanted to play in the first place, does that make you the VIP?” David asked him smugly.

“The MVP,” Patrick gently corrected. “And uh, no, we’re not doing that.” They didn’t even get trophies or medals for winning.

“Okay, what if we were doing it, though?”

“Well then, you would definitely be the VIP.” Patrick wasn’t joking when he said that. David really had earned the MVP status for stepping in last minute and winning them the game.

“Okay,” David said, looking very pleased with himself.

Patrick knew he had been hard on David when he’d done him this huge favor. It wasn’t in his nature to help people, so for him to do this was a big deal. Then Patrick had to go and treat him like he was just another player.

“Listen,” Patrick said softly. “I’m sorry if this game sort of unleashed my competitive side.”

“Yeah, we really don’t need to meet him again,” David agreed.

“But, you know, part of me wonders, would you have hit a homerun if I hadn’t lit that fire in you? Because I have never seen you run like that.” He still couldn’t stop smiling even when he was trying to be sarcastic to assuaging his guilt for treating David so poorly.

“Yeah, it was mainly because I was smelling the barbecue.”

“Ah.”

Of course.

David tensed his shoulders.

“Up higher,” he said through a mouthful of hotdog.

“Okay.” Patrick shifted the ice pack up David’s back.

“Thank you.”

A silence fell between them as David continued eating. Patrick watched him in profile, taking him in. He was so grateful for David who he knew to be incredibly stubborn when it came to things he really didn’t want to do. He had been firm about many things Patrick wasn’t allowed to do, or that he himself wouldn’t, but he put on cleats, a baseball cap, and willingly ran around in the dirt. He even tolerated Patrick’s competitive side without being mad at him later about it.

Every time Patrick thought it wasn’t possible to love David more, he proved him wrong.

“Hey, let’s go home,” he said softly as he placed his other hand high on David’s thigh.

“Good, because I need to get out of all of this.” David gestured to his uniform before he shoved the remaining bit of his hotdog into his mouth.

“Yes, you do.” Patrick waited until David swallowed his food to give him a kiss. “Love you.”

“Love you too. I’d also love a shower.”

They packed up their things and headed home. Thankfully, it wasn’t that far of a drive from the field to Patrick’s apartment.

“I figured you’d prefer to shower here rather than at the motel,” Patrick said as he unlocked his front door.

“You are correct about that,” David replied definitively.

The door swung open. Patrick dumped his equipment bag by the door as David sat down in a kitchen chair to remove his shoes.

“It’s both the water pressure and that I know what color the water will be,” David continued.

Patrick bent over to take his shoes off right by the door. When he stood up, he saw David walking toward the bathroom and it dawned on him. This would probably be the last time he’d ever see David in a baseball uniform.

David took off his hat and combed fingers through his flattened hair.

“I don’t know why anyone voluntarily wears these things,” he said as he admired the logo on the front.

“Put it back on,” Patrick said heatedly. David furrowed his brow.

“Why? We’re inside.”

Patrick walked forward to meet David where he’d agreed to play baseball in the first place. He took the hat out of his hands and pulled it back on David’s head. He held David’s gaze as he removed his own then dropped it on the floor.

“How come you get to take yours off, oh —” Patrick cut David off with a kiss. He tugged at David’s belt loops, pulling him closer. David smoothed his hands up Patrick’s arms before landing on his shoulders.

When Patrick pulled back, he was in a daze. He was kissing a man in a baseball uniform – specifically the man he was desperately in love with – and it was hitting all sorts of buttons for him.

“You like me in this, don’t you?” David asked him seductively. Of course, he’d caught on to what Patrick was going for. Patrick nodded. “Always wanted to have sex with a baseball player, huh?”

A rash of goosebumps rose on his skin and he visibly shuddered. God, he really did. He’d wanted it when he was a teenager without even realizing it but now it was a fantasy that he actually had a chance to fulfill.

Patrick couldn’t respond with words so instead he kissed David hard. He pushed his hat off his head and threw it to the floor as their kiss grew deeper and needier. Patrick tried to imagine David as an actual baseball player, one in the major leagues, but he kept going back to his partner, the man who stole his heart. Before David, when he’d masturbate, he could summon an imaginary Bryce Harper instantly. Now there was only one person he wanted to have sex with.

“What are you thinking about right now?” David asked, his breath hot against Patrick’s lips. “Tell me. I’m interested.” He punctuated it by grinding his growing erection against Patrick’s. Patrick shuddered.

“You’re the ace pitcher and I’m your catcher,” Patrick said.

“Uh huh.”

“And you just threw a no hitter.”

“Is that good?”

“That’s great , David.”

“Love that. What else?”

“We’ve been secretly dating.”

Yes .”

“And—” Patrick drew in a breath. He had never said this fantasy aloud. “And you’re on top of the world and feel so good that you just fuck me how you want, and fuck , I let you because you deserve it and—"

David didn’t let him finish. He caught him in a demanding kiss. It didn’t take long before David had his hands full of Patrick’s ass, drawing him closer to grind against him harder.

Patrick hastily untucked David’s shirt to run his palms over his skin. God, he loved David’s chest hair, the way the hair trailed down below his belt. He remembered in college when he would catch glances of the other guys on his intramural team with their body hair, and he’d suddenly feel both drawn to and ashamed of wanting to touch.

David turned them to walk Patrick backward through the apartment to the bedroom. There, he let Patrick pull off his shirt, and he did the same to Patrick.

The two of them, making out with raging hard-ons in only their uniform pants, belts, and socks on, was straight out of some baseball porno that Patrick definitely wanted to watch.

David drew back to look Patrick in the eyes, a hand on his shoulder.

“On your knees.”

Patrick let out a very undignified, strangled sound.

He nearly came in his pants from just that single command.

He did as he was told, dropping to his knees at David’s feet.

The image of David wearing these pants was one thing, but fuck , feeling the bulge of his hard cock beneath the fabric was an entirely different story. They weren’t too different from David’s usual pants, yet they meant everything to Patrick.

David undid his own belt and pulled. It slithered out of its loops then promptly dropped to the floor. Patrick gripped the back of David’s thighs and looked up at his boyfriend in anticipation. David’s eyes were focused as he opened his pants.

Patrick’s mouth watered.

David shoved his pants and white briefs down just far enough to free his cock and balls. His erection bobbed in Patrick’s face, taunting him.

“Suck my cock,” David said, his voice low and dark.

Patrick did not need to be told twice.

He took David’s cock between his lips and moaned loudly. He took him in until the head bumped the back of his throat before sliding back. He blew David slowly and worshipfully, like he normally would ( god, how did he live before sucking cock?), but it felt different having David command him.

Fuck …” David groaned as his head tipped back. He ran a hand up his bare stomach but sneaked one down to delicately touch Patrick’s hand on his thigh. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to make Patrick work harder.

He sucked David off for a while, breathing deeply through his nose. Fingers gently threaded through his hair, then curled around his ear. He opened his eyes to look up at David. David’s eyes were so dark and fixated on him.

“I want to fuck you,” David said. It was so quiet that had there been any noise, other than the wet slide of David’s cock in his mouth, Patrick would’ve missed it.

He pulled off David’s cock with a pop. David pulled him to his feet and kissed him. Patrick sighed happily as he let David’s tongue explore his mouth. David opened his pants and shoved them down over his ass, freeing his cock. He then grabbed Patrick’s ass, a handful in each palm. Patrick gasped when he pulled his cheeks apart.

“Get on the bed,” David whispered hotly.

Patrick did as he was told. He didn’t dare change anything David did, as difficult as it was to move with his pants halfway down his thighs. David smacked his ass to move further onto the mattress. He stayed on his knees and dropped to his forearms. He heard the nightstand drawer where the lube was kept open and close. The bed dipped behind him as David climbed onto the bed. He could feel him getting closer until he felt David’s bare cock rest against his ass.

He let out a choked whine when he realized David was going to fuck him with their uniform pants on.

He heard the snick of the lube bottle, then felt the cool drip of liquid run across his hole. David quickly smeared it across his skin before pressing a finger into him.

“Your ass is the perfect trophy after today’s game,” David said with a happy sigh.

Patrick squeezed his eyes shut and gripped the sheets. This was so much more than his fantasy. David was giving this to him after giving him so much already. Sometimes he felt he didn’t deserve David. He was so perfect and wonderful and gorgeous and intelligent. He had been with so many different incredible people and experienced so many things that Patrick could only imagine.

But then he remembered that he was the only one who David had told he loved. He was the only one who ever celebrated anniversaries with him. And he deserved that. He had opened his heart and let him be himself and the universe had delivered the most perfect man to him.

The most perfect man who was currently three fingers deep in his ass.

“Oh, fuck, David,” he murmured.

David squeezed his hip in response. He pulled his fingers out to pick up the lube and coat his cock. He placed a hand on Patrick’s back as he lined his cock up with his hole. When the head of David’s cock pushed into him, Patrick instinctively tilted his hips for David to fuck him even better.

David sunk all the way into him, his cock filling Patrick perfectly, and he chuckled.

“God, you really are the perfect catcher,” David sighed.

A laugh escaped Patrick. It was a bad joke, but it played seamlessly into his fantasy that David was still maintaining. And yeah, he was an amazing catcher in every sense of the word.

David fucked him good and fast, not drawing his cock out too far before slamming it back in. Every so often Patrick could feel the fabric of David’s pants against his ass and it made him so much harder. It felt incredible .

Patrick reached between his legs to stroke himself at the same tempo. He wasn’t going to last very long.

“Tell me what I am,” David demanded through gritted teeth.

“The VIP,” Patrick answered, though the letters felt strange on his tongue.

“Fucking right, I am. Deserve this perfect ass.” David smacked his ass just enough for it to sting a little. Patrick gasped loudly. He had to squeeze his cock hard to keep from cumming instantly. David was being rough and a little impersonal and Patrick loved it.

David’s hips worked faster and faster until Patrick felt them stutter and his fingers dug into Patrick’s hips.

“Fuck!” David let out a groan and came in Patrick’s ass.

Before Patrick could bask in the afterglow of feeling David’s cum inside him, David pulled out and quickly flipped Patrick to his back. Immediately, David sunk his lips around Patrick’s neglected cock, drawing a shout out of Patrick. Patrick grabbed David’s hair for dear life as his partner sucked him off with the skill of a professional. It didn’t take long at all for Patrick to gasp and cum down David’s throat. David swallowed him down with loud gulps that he knew Patrick loved to hear.

Patrick finally relaxed back onto the bed, arms wide open, beaming. They did that! He was just fucked by the ace pitcher from his baseball team. Well, fantasy-him was. Real-him was fucked by his loving boyfriend who played in one baseball game just for him.

David crawled up the bed to cuddle up to Patrick.

“Did that live up to your fantasy?” David asked, a delicate smile tugging at his lips.

“More than you could ever know,” Patrick answered. He gave David an appreciative kiss. David hummed happily.

“Now, you know how much I love this part of sex,” David began. “But I really have to shower now.” Patrick laughed.

“Of course, me too. And I also have to figure out how to get those pants back to Matt.” David gingerly lifted the leg of his pants.

“Um, I’m pretty sure Matt would want us to burn these.”

“You know what, David? You’re probably right.”

“I’m always right,” David said. “I’m the VIP.”

Patrick smiled brightly.

“You are absolutely the VIP.”

Chapter Text

9:12am: I’m already wary leaving Alexis in charge of the store
9:12am: she can barely be held responsible for her actions
9:12am: let alone someone else’s livelihood
9:13am: It’s going to be fine, David
9:13am: you don’t know her like I know her 

10:20am: OMG YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS
10:20am: WENDY FROM BLOUSE BARN IS HERE
10:20am: AND HER BOYFRIEND ANTONIO IS DEFINITELY GAY
10:21am: AND WHATEVER STEVIE SAYS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE ME
10:21am: THIS POOR WOMAN IS SUCH A DISASTER

10:28am: IT
10:28am: GETS
10:28am: WORSE
10:28am: Her whole business is a complete ripoff of our store
10:28am: Label and everything!
10:28am: And she’s selling everything for half the price!
10:29am: I’m freaking out over here and Stevie is zero help
10:30am: She has fucking TULIPS in her logo, Patrick!!! 

11:02am: omg her products are complete scams
11:03am: I peeled off the label of her foot cream and it’s not foot cream at all
11:03am: It’s gel-time moist liquid
11:03am: Stevie uses it at the motel

12:20pm: So I confronted her and said her business partner was a con artist
12:20pm: Also he’s apparently not her boyfriend but she has feelings about him??? What even are straight people???
12:20pm: He did recon at our store!! To steal our idea!!
12:21pm: I don’t think Wendy’s going to be selling anything in her general store anymore
12:21pm: Antonio…
12:22pm: He’s never allowed back in our store.
12:24pm: Completely agree.

2:33pm: ALEXIS FUCKING BROKE OUR BATHROOM SINK

Chapter Text

“Good morning, birthday boy.”

Patrick stirred awake to the sound of David’s voice whispering in his ear. David was curled up against him with one hand drawing teasing circles dangerously low on Patrick’s stomach.

“Mm, it is a good morning,” Patrick replied, smiling and blearily opening his eyes to see David watching him with deep interest, his dark eyes sparkling with delight. Patrick reached up to guide David into a warm kiss. When he went to run his fingers through David’s gorgeous chest hair, he was blocked by soft wool.

“You’re dressed,” he said dumbly. He lifted the blanket slightly to get a better look at David and sure enough, he was completely ready for the day whereas Patrick was still completely naked from their pre-bedtime activities the night before. “I’m not awake enough to process what’s happening. Did I sleep through my alarm? Am I late? Did we switch bodies?”

“Okay,” David said defensively, a tight smile getting him through the burn. “I just figured it’d be nice for you to take the day off from work. Sleep in, relax, take your time.” Patrick was practically a puddle from how thoughtful that was. “But don’t go to the café for lunch, since there’s kind of a salmonella outbreak at the café right now.”

“A… what? How?” Patrick asked urgently. “Should we cancel our dinner plans tonight?” He was a bit heartbroken that he wouldn’t get to spend his birthday at a place that he treasured, even if there were much, much better restaurants in Elmdale.

“Oh. No. No no no,” David insisted. “Twyla assures me they’ve got it under control, and that everything should be clean and bacteria-free by dinner. They just might have a menu limited to whatever she can scrounge up from the freezer.” David gave him an unsure smile.

“Okay…” He was sad that the menu would be limited, but maybe he could convince David to at least take him to Elmdale for dessert.

“But until then,” David said as he got out from under the covers. “I have to deal with some family drama at the motel, then I’m going to head over to the store. But you—” He leaned over the bed, so his face was only a couple inches from Patrick’s. “—enjoy your birthday off from work.”

He gave Patrick another kiss before heading toward the door to put his shoes on. Patrick sat up in bed to watch him as well as check the time. Wow, it was 8:30am and David Rose was not only awake but dressed as well. Patrick smiled. He had the world’s best boyfriend.

David grabbed his keys to head out the door. Hand on the doorknob, he hesitated, looking back at Patrick. Without a word, he rushed across the apartment to give Patrick a heady kiss, like he was a soldier going off to battle, unsure if he’d ever see his lover again. He licked into Patrick’s mouth, drawing a moan out of him. David eased him back against the pillows as he started to climb onto the bed to kneel above him—

“Mm, hm!” David protested, pulling away quickly and standing up again. “I have to go. I’m going to be late.” David gave him another kiss, then another, then one more for good measure, before finally leaving Patrick’s apartment. “I love you! I’ll see you later!”

The door shut and Patrick sank into the bed with a happy sigh. He loved that David really thought about him for his birthday. Letting him relax, sleep in, enjoy his birthday. It would’ve been better had he not left Patrick with a semi-firm erection beneath the sheets. But the nice part of not having to rush off to work, was that he could take care of it himself.

He threw off the sheets, revealing his naked body. He wrapped a hand around his cock and began to slowly jerk himself off. Since he began dating David, Patrick had had less and less time to just masturbate. He had a boyfriend who he could get off with, why would he do anything alone? This felt good, though. It was his birthday and his day to put himself first.

Patrick shut his eyes as he touched himself. His mind flipped through his fantasies and memories like a rolodex, finally landing on the first time he and David had a movie night in his new place. They started watching Shakespeare in Love and ended with David straddling Patrick as they made out. David had gripped the back of the couch while Patrick had gripped David’s ass, helping his boyfriend grind their bare cocks together. They were both still fully clothed and it was one of the hottest things Patrick had ever done. They couldn’t have been bothered to remove any clothing before having sex or to even pause the movie. Oh, and David was so sexy, the way he rolled his hips and kissed him. It was like Patrick was receiving the best kind of lap dance, in that he could take the dancer home with him and fuck him six ways to Sunday.

Suddenly, his mind flitted to David actually giving him a lap dance. David wasn’t the best dancer, but his imagination didn’t need to know that. David, dancing around him as he sat in a kitchen chair, grinding his hips against him, only letting him touch when he says so—

Patrick came spectacularly across his stomach at the thought of David riding him on a kitchen chair.

Oh yes, this was going to be the best birthday yet.


 

Patrick took his time getting up and out of bed. He did venture to the bathroom to clean himself up, only to return to bed and fall back asleep for another hour. After which, he was very well-rested and ready to properly enjoy his birthday, whatever it would bring.

He ate a big brunch and brewed some coffee to settle in to start reading a book David had given him when they first started dating. As he finished the second chapter, his phone rang. He beamed.

“Hey, Mom!”

There was a beat before he heard two voices singing.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, dear Patrick,
Happy Birthday to you!

“We love you, Patrick!”

“Love you so much, my sweet boy!”

Patrick laughed. He loved his parents so much.

“Thank you, guys!” he replied. He set his book down on the coffee table. “What’s going on? Where are you guys headed?” He could tell they were on speakerphone in the car from the shoddy audio quality.

“Oh, we’re going on a weekend getaway!”

“Yeah, your mother found this really cute town that looks like it’s straight out of Germany only a couple hours from home, and we had a great tax return this year—”

“So, we figured why not!”

“Retirement isn’t going to retire itself!”

Patrick chuckled. His dad’s jokes were rarely good, but they were endearing nonetheless.

“That’s very true,” he replied. “Sounds like a great weekend.”

“Any exciting birthday plans?” his mom asked.

There was the slightest elevation in Patrick’s heartbeat. Sure, sex with David was planned for after dinner, but he wasn’t going to tell his mother about that for a variety of reasons.

“Yeah, David let me take the day off work, so I slept in and—”

“Hey Pat, we gotta go—” his dad interrupted.

“Yeah, we’re pulling up to the hotel—”

“So, we’re gonna hop off.”

“Oh, okay—”

“Happy Birthday, Patrick!”

“Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you, thank you,” Patrick replied.

“Bye, baby!”

“Bye, Pat!”

“Bye, guys.”

He hung up. He was in much higher spirits now that his parents had called. It meant a lot to him that they would still call every year, even when they were going on vacation.

He got another chapter in on his book (which was really good) before he checked his phone. There were a flurry of birthday texts and messages from his college and high school friends. He couldn’t help but smile at some of the photos they were posting of them all together.

The apartment door opened. Patrick looked up. David entered carrying a large pizza and a big beautiful bouquet of white flowers. He hadn’t been expecting David to come home for lunch, but he was certainly a welcome sight.

“Happy Birthday,” David said cheerily, balancing the pizza and flowers in one hand as he shut the door behind him.

“Thank you,” Patrick replied as he got up to greet him.

“Flowers are for you, pizza is my lunch.”

Patrick met David near the kitchen.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

He wrapped his arms around David whose hands were occupied, but whose lips were available for a kiss hello. David hugged him the best he could.

“How was the store?” Patrick asked, sitting on the arm of the couch as David turned around to place the pizza and flowers on the counter.

“Thriving,” David answered. “But more importantly, how are you? You gotten some calls from some family or friends?”

“Yeah, I talked to my parents a little while ago. They’re on like, a weekend getaway, so they couldn’t chat long, but…”

David playfully scratched at Patrick’s shoulders.

“Did you tell them about dinner?” David walked past him before Patrick stood up, both of them now standing at opposite ends of the couch.

“Uh, they were actually just pulling up to their hotel, so they had to jump off, but…”

He was going to tell them about dinner.

At least, he wanted to tell them about dinner.

He hoped he was going to tell them about dinner.

“Oh,” David said. “Um, speaking of your parents, I’ve been piecing together that I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to them outside of work.” He winced. “Is that weird?”

It was as if he’d been dunked in ice cold water.

“Okay.” Patrick paused, then chuckled uncomfortably. “I’m sure you—I’m sure you have.”

He hadn’t. He knew with 100% certainty that David had never spoken to his parents outside of work. Whenever they’d called, he would politely step out or ignore it, sending an apologetic text with a promise to call back later. Occasionally, they would call the store and David would pick up. The receiver would quickly be passed to him and no one was any the wiser.

“Yeah…” David hesitated. “Like, they know about me, right?”

“Of course, they know about you,” Patrick said blankly. “What do you mean? What are you—what?”

Patrick’s heart was attempting to exit his chest through his ribcage.

“Like, they know about us … right?” He could see the anxiety setting in David’s jaw.

“Um…” His stomach twisted, reconfiguring itself into a pretzel.

Patrick turned away from David. He couldn’t look at his boyfriend. He knew how this would hurt him. David had told him story after story after story about how his exes had been ashamed to be dating him, how often he had been kept a secret from everyone, and Patrick had promised himself that he would never be that person, to David or anyone else.

Yet, here he was, keeping his relationship with David a secret from his parents.

He didn’t mean to. He wanted to tell them. He wanted to share the happiness he felt when he was with David, the joy that bubbled beneath his skin when David simply looked at him. He wanted to show them that what he had had with Rachel couldn’t hold a candle to his relationship with David.

But as much as he loved David – and that was an awful lot – he was scared shitless to come out to them.

When he turned back around, David was sitting on the couch, his eyes tightly shut.

“Okay listen, David,” he said as he sat down beside David who didn’t look at him. Patrick could tell he was fighting tears. He hated being the reason. “I, I’ve been wanting to tell them about us. I really have. I just was waiting to do it in person.” His own voice started to quake from the lump rising in his throat. Without a word, David gently rubbed his back. “And then I didn’t go home for the holidays, and then I was feeling so comfortable with you, and your family…”

David nodded.

“Yeah, yeah, I-I don’t know why I assumed, um…” David said softly. Patrick couldn’t look at him. “So, all this time, your parents thought they were just… talking to your… your business partner?”

After a long moment, Patrick finally did look at David, a silent affirmation of his worst fear.

For all the times his parents had called the store, David was just the guy that Patrick worked with. They never knew they were speaking to the love of Patrick’s life, the man he planned to grow old with.

When he had realized he was in love with David, he went online for support and proceeded to read horror story after horror story about folks with seemingly supportive and loving parents reacting the opposite of what they expected. It shook him to his core. He was terrified of having to defend his love to anyone. But even if David never loved him back, he’d known someday he’d have to tell his parents he was gay. It was inevitable.

It’s not like his parents were homophobic. He’d never heard them say a mean word about anybody. Clint and Marcy Brewer were two of the kindest people anyone could ever meet.

“David, I know my parents are good people,” he said, his voice thick from holding back a sob. “I just…”

He remembered when his friend Allison had come out to her parents, two well-meaning and polite people who ran the box office for the school plays. After she had told them she was gay, they had stopped participating in her life and once she graduated, their relationship was permanently fractured. The last time he’d spoken to Allison – when he’d asked for some tips for memorizing lines – she mentioned that she hadn’t seen her parents in seven years. They’d quietly cut ties and walked away.

Patrick released an emotional exhale, fighting the knots in his stomach when he imagined never hearing his mom call him her ‘sweet boy’ again.

David gently rubbed his back. It was just the encouragement he needed to continue.

“I can’t shake this, this fear… that there is a small chance that this could change everything. That they might see me differently, or treat me differently…”

Before he could finish speaking, David drew him in, wrapping his arms around him, and held him. Instantly, the knot in his stomach loosened, if only a hair. He felt so safe and loved right here. His parents needed to know the incredible effect this amazing man had on him.

“But I’m going to deal with this as soon as I see them next, okay?” he assured David.

David pulled back enough to look at him, his arm still draped over Patrick’s shoulders like shelter in a storm.

“Okay, what you’re dealing with, is very personal. And it’s something you should only do on your terms. Okay?” The last time he’d heard David this quiet and serious was when he had told Patrick he loved him.

Patrick nodded. He took a deep breath as David rubbed his arm, soothing his nerves.

There was a moment of silence before David added, “That’s why I brought this couple home one day in college, and just told my parents to deal with it.”

Patrick let out a huff of amusement. Of course, that was how David had come out to his parents. David hadn’t been close to them at the time, so it didn’t matter how he’d done it or if they cared. Patrick, on the other hand, was very close with his parents. He couldn’t just bring David home with him and make a declaration like that

…but then again, why couldn’t he? He had taken a chance on love and this is where it had got him. He was better than this hiding and nervousness. He loved David Rose with every fiber of his being, and everyone needed to know.

“I’m a take-charge guy, David,” he said firmly. “I like to take charge of things in my life, you know that.”

“Yep, mhm,” David curtly agreed.

He expected some kind of joke about being ‘take-charge’ in the bedroom, but he didn’t get one. He finally looked over at David who wasn’t making eye contact.

“You’re upset,” he said sadly. He looked down ashamedly at his hands. “I would be, too.” He had every right to be upset with him.

“Yeah, uh, it’s not about that,” David corrected him gently. Patrick sharply turned his head to look at him. David cleared his throat, giving way to an amused expression Patrick didn’t quite understand. “Heh, you’re gonna laugh yourself right out of the closet on this one. You know how you’ve always wanted a surprise party?”

“David, I don’t think this is how surprise parties work,” Patrick said dryly. Even in his most emotional moments, he couldn’t stop from reflexively teasing David.

“Yeah, I know, it’s just…” David paused. “…part of that surprise was inviting your parents. Here.”

Fear clawed quickly up Patrick’s throat.

“What?”

They were going to see. There was no way for them to hide their relationship. Everyone in town knew. His apartment was full of pictures of him and David. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself from gravitating toward David like a moth to a flame.

“Yeah, I realize that was a big mistake. I-I should have talked to you,” David said as Patrick rested his mouth on his fists, in a poor attempt at keeping the nausea at bay.

He was going to have to tell them. He was potentially going to lose his parents on his birthday. He didn’t blame David. He should’ve said something sooner, to both David and his parents. And now he was about to have the worst birthday ever.

David put a hand on his back.

“I could be just your business partner tonight,” he offered. “If that will help—”

“No, David,” Patrick said, not letting him finish that horrible idea. “I-I can’t have you do that. I owe it to us to tell them. I want them to know.” He wanted his parents to see how stupidly, deliriously happy David made him. He laughed. “Yeah, maybe this whole thing is a blessing in disguise, huh?”

David gave him an unsure smile. It was nice to know that David was just as nervous about meeting Patrick’s parents as Patrick was about them to meet him. And it was all likely happening in a few short hours when they went to the café for dinner.

Wait. They can’t be. Not with the salmonella outbreak. David couldn’t be subjecting all those people to getting sick.

“It’s at the café?” he asked David nervously.

“Yeah, the salmonella was a decoy,” David whispered.

Patrick wanted to laugh; his boyfriend had gone through all this trouble to give him a surprise party only for him to ruin it by not coming out to his parents.

Except now he had to come out to his parents.

David tenderly pulled him close, cupping his cheek with an arm around his shoulder, and kissed his temple once, twice. He held Patrick close, eventually sitting way back on the couch, taking Patrick with him.

They soon found themselves laying down on the couch, David propped up by a few pillows, and Patrick resting his cheek right over David’s heart. David cradled him close, his fingers soothingly scratching Patrick’s scalp or tracing along his arm curled around David’s torso. He dropped the occasionally kiss on the top of Patrick’s head. Patrick had never felt so safe.

They laid like that for a while, in total silence. Patrick closed his eyes and listened to David’s heartbeat. In spite of all the stress, it was slow and steady, calming and comforting, a reminder that even after they’d weathered this storm, they were so very alive and so very in love.

“Patrick, baby, time to wake up,” David murmured tenderly.

Patrick opened his eyes, blinking into the bright light of the apartment.

“Sorry,” he said hoarsely as he sat up. “I definitely did not mean to fall asleep.”

“I don’t think anyone ever plans a stress-nap,” David said, sitting up as well. He placed a hand over Patrick’s thigh. “How are you feeling?”

“Better.” David smiled.

“Good.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

David leaned in and kissed him so sweetly, Patrick was sure he was going to get cavities.

“I have to get back to the store. Are you going to be alright?”

Patrick gave David a small smile.

“Yeah,” he said softly. “Thank you, David.”

David gave a bashful shrug. He smirked, then leaned in and planted a big, fat, wet kiss on Patrick’s lips.

Patrick laughed as David stood up.

“I ate about half the pizza on the way over here, so if you want to finish it, you are more than welcome to,” David said, walking around the couch toward the door.

“I’ll wrap it up and put it in the fridge for you,” Patrick replied. He knew David-speak.

“Oh my god, thank you, I don’t know what I’d do without you, byyeeee!” David said sarcastically as he backed out the apartment door, shutting it behind him.

Patrick smiled. Even when things seemed to be falling apart around them, everything could still be totally and completely normal.

He glanced around the apartment before his eyes landed back on his book. Reading would keep him calm. He had a few hours before he needed to show up to the café for the party, so he figured he might as well get a couple more chapters in…


 

His “birthday dinner” was scheduled for 7pm at the café. David was explicit about him being there at exactly 7pm, no earlier. Now that he knew it was a surprise party, he allowed himself to even run a little late. So he rolled up to Café Tropical about five minutes late as opposed to his usual ten minutes early. After the day they’d had, he figured David would appreciate the extra time to get everything together.

He took a deep breath before he exited his car.

Guess it was now or never.

Patrick walked up to the café, which looked suspiciously dark inside. He wondered briefly how this ruse was supposed to work, with the salmonella, but given how the day had gone, he didn’t linger too long on it.

The door was unlocked. He opened it and stepped inside.

The lights blared on and he was greeted by a hoard of friends and family. With David front and center.

His parents were immediately to his left, smiling like the world wasn’t about to possibly end.

“Surprise!!!” they cheered.

Time to turn on the acting.

“Oh my gosh!” he said, feigning actual surprise. “David, I thought we were just having a casual dinner.” David nodded subtly, as if to say ‘good job’ for selling it, before pulling him in close for a hug. He guessed no one else knew it was no longer a surprise party.

“Happy birthday, Patrick!” Mr. Rose said.

“Happy birthday!” Alexis smiled.

When David let him go, he turned to his parents. He was genuinely happy to see them. It’d been so long, and he missed them, even if he wished there wasn’t a hard conversation waiting around the corner.

“What is happening?” he asked excitedly as he hugged his mom. “I thought you guys were out of town!”

“Well, we are,” his dad replied dryly, causing both of them to chuckle. It was technically true. They hugged as his mom and David looked on.

“We’re just so happy to be included,” his mom said. Patrick stepped back to look at all three of the people he loved most: his parents and his boyfriend.

“You’ve got a really wonderful friend here, Patrick,” his dad said, touching David’s arm for emphasis.

Friend.

Any joy Patrick momentarily felt was suddenly gone and replaced by nervousness and anxiety.

“Yep,” David laughed. “I’m just glad you could make it, Mr. and Mrs. Brewer.” He paused and looked at Patrick. “Um… well, I should leave you all to catch up, and spend some quality time with your son.” Patrick smiled awkwardly. It was odd hearing David refer to him like that because this was actually happening . “But might I recommend the crab cakes. I over-ordered, and they cost a small fortune.”

“Hey, could I just have two seconds with him?” Patrick asked his parents.

“Sure,” his mom said softly before heading over to an open booth.

He stepped up to David, close but not touching. He didn’t want to alarm his parents if they weren’t going to be okay with it.

“What if they don’t react the way I think they will?” he worried. He felt his heart back up in his throat.

David gently touched his shoulders.

“Then, I will be here. And we’ll get through it together.” David gave him a small comforting smile.

“Okay…” Patrick whispered. “I love you.”

“I love you,” David whispered back, ducking his head slightly, as if that were where a kiss would’ve gone.

He’d always have David.

Patrick took a deep breath.

Then he headed over to join his parents.

“Well, I am suitably surprised,” he said as he sat down across from them. “Thank you guys for coming.”

“Well, we wouldn’t miss it,” his dad said.

“We just love you so much,” his mom added.

“I love you guys too,” Patrick replied. The nerves were back. “But, um…”

“Yes?” his mom asked eagerly, her eyes wide with anticipation.

“Well, there’s something that uh… that I’ve been meaning to tell you.” He spoke to his hands because he was pretty sure he’d start crying if he looked at them and saw their faces fall.

“You can tell us anything!” his mom assured him.

“Honey, let’s just… let him talk,” his dad said, calming her down.

“Uh, yeah.” Here goes nothing. “So I guess this doesn’t really come naturally. Um… David—”

“He seems like a really great partner, honey.”

“Marci.”

“…In business,” she quickly added. She was acting so weird. Did they know already?

“Yeah, he is,” Patrick murmured. He took a deep breath. “He’s also a great partner outside of business.” He finally looked up at his parents. They wore the same blank expression that made him think this was a terrible idea. “We’re together. David is my boyfriend. And I’ve never been happier in my life.” A small bubble of joy burst in his belly when he was reminded of what David meant to him. “And so, I just, I hope you guys can accept that.”

Blood was pounding in his ears. They weren’t saying anything. Why weren’t they saying anything?

His mom reached across the table and gently took his hands in hers.

“Oh, you are the only thing in the world that matters to us,” she said sweetly. “And if David makes you happy, then that’s all we care about.”

A wave of relief coursed through his body and he was immediately fighting back tears. That was exactly what he’d hoped to hear. He gave her a watery smile.

But there was still another person in this equation. He’d always been close with his dad. He was the assistant coach of Patrick’s high school baseball team. They’d had a very traditional father-son relationship. Would this change it?

“Dad?” Patrick asked weakly.

His dad hesitated, as if he was surprised Patrick needed his approval too.

“I like him,” his dad finally said with an earnest smile and a chuckle. “I like him a lot.”

“Me too,” Patrick said, laughing.

“I don’t understand his clothes, but…” his dad added.

All three of them burst out laughing.

“Ah, you will in time,” Patrick reassured him. The tension was gone. His heart returned to his chest and the tears stinging at his eyes were ones of joy and relief. “Oh man, I didn’t know how I was going to tell you guys.”

“Well, we’re just glad you finally did,” his mom said. “Happy birthday, my sweet boy.”

“Thank you.”

That was it. He was finally out to his parents. They knew David was his boyfriend and business partner. He was still his mother’s sweet boy. He couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.

Patrick glanced over to the end of the counter. The Rose family (plus Stevie) was watching him intently, but the moment they realized he saw them, they all pretended to look busy. It made him feel so incredibly loved that he had two families that cared about him so deeply: the one he was born into and the one he made for himself.

“We know you have a bunch of other people who would like to wish you a happy birthday, so we won’t keep you,” his dad said.

“But we will need to know the whole story of how you and David got together. Going from business partners to an item,” his mom said with a wink.

Patrick laughed. His parents had been really close with Rachel, so to hear that his mother wanted a new romantic story to tell her friends was music to his ears.

“Of course,” he replied.

“And thank him for the basket of products he gave us earlier,” his dad added. “There was just so much going on that we forgot to say anything.”

Basket of product…? Why would David have given them a basket?

It all clicked into place.

They had known all along.

This was just going through the motions and making it official.

And that was okay with him.

“Sure.” He nodded. “Love you guys.”

“We love you too, Pat.”

“Love you so much.”

Patrick got up from the table. He couldn’t stop beaming. His body was singing with elation as he crossed the room to the man who made it all happen.

David gave him a knowing smile. “So, how did it oh—

Patrick gathered David in his arms and kissed him passionately. He could do that with his parents in the room. They could see just how much he loved David. His relationship with David was miles from the one with Rachel. There was no doubt that they would be able to tell the difference between a trapped man and one finally flying free. The clouds had finally parted, and he could feel the sun on his face.

All thanks to one man.

He pulled back to see David in a mild daze.

“So, I’m guessing it went well,” David said.

“It did,” Patrick confirmed. “Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He spent the rest of the party glued to David’s side. He rarely went more than five minutes without having his arm around him or his hand in his. He was so deeply, desperately in love with this man.

There were no more skeletons in the closet, no more secrets he was keeping. Everyone knew he was gay. Everyone knew he was with David. Everyone knew he was the happiest he had ever been.

Sometime near the end, he and David found themselves slow-dancing in the middle of the café. They had stopped talking to those who remained – both of their families, Stevie, and Twyla – and were simply wrapped up in each other. Their families didn’t mind. In fact, Patrick caught a glimpse of his mom and Mrs. Rose sitting together and just watching their sons dance.

Eventually, their families left, and it was just the two of them swaying gently to music as Twyla tidied up.

The playlist David had curated was absolutely stunning and proof of what happened when he obsessively stalked Patrick’s Spotify playlists for a month. It was a slower song that Patrick had covered once a long time ago – “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung. It kept coming up more recently because the lyrics reminded him of David. (Obsessive Spotify stalking.)

“So, I know that you’re annoyed that the surprise got blown,” Patrick said. “But this party might go down as one of the happiest nights of my life.”

“Well, I guess that makes up for the fact that no one ate the crabcakes,” David joked. Patrick laughed.

“Well…” he began. Now was a good of a time as any to ask about the secret. “So, how long have they known?”

“I’m sorry?”

“My parents. How long have they known? About us?”

“Um, I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Feigned ignorance wasn’t a good look on David.

“David, I know my parents,” Patrick said, a little bit more firmly. “They’re not good actors. They knew about us, right?” His mom had been a little too eager to say she supported him. She kept jumping the gun and interrupting him. She was never like that normally.

David screwed his eyes shut, pained that he had to admit his plan to Patrick.

“Okay,” he said, opening them again. “My dad may have told them, but he, he thought they knew.” An honest mistake.

“And the gift basket you gave them that I’m hoping you paid for.” David winced. That would be a no. “That had nothing to do with you trying to smooth things over with them?”

David took a deep breath.

“It was just a very messy day,” he explained. “And I was, I was trying to detangle things, and… and, just make everything okay.”

David had done everything he could to make Patrick’s birthday a successful one, even after all the shit that was thrown at him as roadblocks, and he’d ended up giving him the best birthday he’d ever had.

He couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his birthdays with this man.

“Yeah. Well, you made everything okay,” he assured him.

David smiled, then leaned in and they were kissing. It was deep and loving and one Patrick could get lost in so easily. He loved having David in his arms—

“Not to step on the moment…”

They broke apart at the sound of Twyla’s voice. Admittedly, Patrick had totally forgotten she was there.

“…But, uh, I do have to lock up in five,” she said as she cleaned a glass.

“Oh.”

“Right.”

They still had five more minutes.

Patrick kissed David’s neck as they came back together, holding onto one another tightly.

‘I was trying to detangle things and just make everything okay.’

Those weren’t the words of the David Patrick first met back at Ray’s. Hell, more recently than that they were just working on simple compromising. Yet, David had planned him a surprise party – which Patrick knew David hated – and invited his parents – who David had never met in person – and when everything went wrong, he hadn’t blown everything out of proportion – which was seemingly a genetic condition in the Rose family.

Instead, he’d listened and held Patrick, let him be scared but ultimately gave him the strength to tell his parents. They needed to know about this funny, brilliant man Patrick was lucky enough to date. And there had been a part of him that kind of didn’t care what his parents’ reactions were. Yes, it would’ve broken his heart to hear them react negatively, but he wanted to spend the rest of his life with David and there was no one on this earth that could keep them apart.

He was going to marry David Rose.

Patrick shut his eyes and tucked his face in David’s neck, letting himself imagine growing old with him as they swayed together until the song ended.

True to her word, once their five minutes were up, Twyla kindly escorted them out of the café and into the warm evening air.

Their fingers were loosely laced together as they walked across the street to Patrick’s car parked at their store. As they neared the storefront, Patrick slowed, then stopped. David turned to look at him.

“Is everything okay?” he asked gently.

Patrick took in the stillness of their store against the night sky. He could picture it perfectly when the lights were on, and there were people milling about, whether it was shopping or a calligraphy class or open mic night. He could see the night David had lip-synched to Tina Turner to win him back. And the night David had called him his boyfriend. And the night he had stayed over, fixing the wiring on lights so this amazing man would be impressed with him. The store had brought him his greatest project yet as well as stories he’d be telling for years to come.

This little store had brought him the love of his life.

He really had fallen in love with David the moment they’d met, hadn’t he?

He hadn’t known it at the time, but the idea for the store was completely and utterly David Rose, all the way down to the pretentious name. It was a distillation of the man Patrick would come to know and love.

Love at first sight seemed like a farce, an unattainable dream.

But he had never met anyone like David Rose.

That first day, he wouldn’t have suspected that his type would be a tall, dark-haired, deeply opinionated son of a formerly-wealthy video magnate, who had a penchant for black & white sweaters and greasy food, who considered himself ‘damaged goods’ and was anything but, who was beautiful and sexy even when he believed he wasn’t, who made Patrick feel like he was finally living in color.

But there was no one else in the whole world Patrick would rather come home to.

David stepped closer and Patrick finally looked at him.

“I love you so much, David,” he said, his heart catching in his throat.

David just smiled and drew him in for a sweet, lingering kiss.

“Let’s go home.”


 

“I’m glad Stevie took at least some of the crabcakes home,” David said as he crammed the last of the crabcakes into the fridge. “I’m not sure all of them would’ve fit in here. Pretty sure we’re going to be eating those until they go bad. Which, judging by the smell of them, might’ve been yesterday.”

David was talking and Patrick was barely listening. He was so overwhelmed by everything that David had done for him today, that the added domesticity was creating a buzzing sensation under his skin. He needed David. He needed to show him how much he loved him.

David closed the fridge and wandered back over to where Patrick was standing in the middle of the apartment.

“I know you’re not the biggest fan of crabcakes, but these are really good with some sauce I can make you,” David said warmly as he approached.

Patrick wordlessly drew David in and kissed him. David smiled against his lips and hummed happily, draping his arms over Patrick’s shoulders. Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist to pull him closer. It wasn’t enough. He let out a short, frustrated groan and kissed David harder. The smile disappeared when Patrick licked along David’s bottom lip. David moaned as he opened his lips to deepen the kiss, letting Patrick take and take and take.

One of David’s large hands cupped his cheek as the kiss got filthier and filthier. Patrick couldn’t stop pulling at David’s waist, grinding his growing erection against David’s. There was no other person who could do this to him. No one could ever make him feel this good. He didn’t want to have sex with anyone else. He just wanted to make love to David.

“Bed,” Patrick commanded.

Without hesitation, David followed him to the bedroom, pulling off his sweater and dropping it on the way. Patrick hastily unfastened the buttons on his shirt with shaking hands before David crowded him against the edge of the bed, kissing him again. Finally, Patrick got his shirt unbuttoned and off, followed quickly by his undershirt.

David kissed him hard, immediately licking into Patrick’s mouth. Patrick smoothed a hand up David’s chest, reveling in the coarse chest hair he loved to play with in their post-coital moments. He raked his nails down over one of David’s nipples, causing David to gasp and kiss Patrick with renewed vigor. They were practiced, but this type of hunger brought moments of teeth clacking and lip biting, like they were trying to consume one another.

“Fuck, I need your cock in my mouth,” David growled against Patrick’s lips. He swiftly skimmed his hand down Patrick’s torso to cup him roughly over his pants. “This big thing between my lips – fuck – ‘til my jaw hurts.”

Patrick whined when David squeezed him again. Without another word, David dropped to his knees. In seconds he opened Patrick’s pants, shoved them all the way down, and sucked Patrick’s cock all the way down to the root.

Patrick gasped loudly as he sunk a hand into David’s thick hair. The hot, wet suction around his cock felt incredible. David blew him messily, and Patrick was in heaven. He had joked about David having a sloppy mouth before, but as it turned out, he loved when he could hear the sound of David slurping around his cock.

As much as he was loving having his cock sucked, he needed David’s lips on his own. He clawed at David’s shoulders to drag him to his feet. They were quickly kissing again, and David was finally ridding himself of his pants as Patrick stepped out of his.

Patrick sat back on the bed and pulled David down on top of him, still kissing him. David straddled his hips, their cocks rubbing together, Patrick’s spit-soaked one against David’s. Patrick ran his hands down David’s back to grab his ass and encouraged him to grind against him harder, faster.

David planted his hands on either side of Patrick’s head for stability. He began to work his hips faster and faster, the friction of David’s hairy belly bringing Patrick closer and closer to orgasm.

But Patrick didn’t want to cum yet.

He grabbed David’s sides and rolled them over, so David was on his back and Patrick was between his legs. God, what a revelation it had been the first time Patrick had been between David’s legs. He had been in this position many times before with girls, but to look down and see the most beautiful man spreading his legs for Patrick to fuck him? Patrick had nearly asked David to pinch him to check if he was dreaming.

“I wanna cum inside you,” Patrick growled.

David moaned helplessly, his eyes closing, as he instinctively pulled his knees toward his chest, presenting himself for Patrick to take.

Patrick quickly grabbed the lube out of the nightstand and returned to David. He liberally drizzled lube right over his hole, watching his pucker clench from the cool liquid on his skin. He immediately scooped up some and pressed his middle finger into David.

“Oh fuck, you don’t need to prep me,” David said breathlessly. “Just get your cock inside me.”

Patrick didn’t need to be told twice. He grabbed his spit-slick cock and lined it up with David’s hole. He pressed David’s thighs down as he watched his dick disappear into his boyfriend’s willing body.

David moaned low and long as Patrick filled him.

“Fuck me, Patrick,” David gasped. “Fuck me, birthday boy.”

A fire was suddenly ignited in Patrick’s belly.

It was his fucking birthday.

From the way he was gazing at him under hooded eyelids to how he was gripping the bedspread above his head to the beautiful blotches of red across his chest, David looked positively pornographic.

He seriously was fucking the hottest guy on the planet.

Patrick fucked David fast. He hooked David’s knees in his elbows and dropped down to kiss him as his hips snapped faster and faster. The slap of Patrick’s hips against David’s ass echoed loudly in the apartment, paired with the desperate whines David was making.

“Unh, fuck, David, your fucking ass—”

“Yeah, yeah, oh fuck, take me take me take me—”

“Fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck—!”

“Hrngh, Patrick! Oh shit! Fuck!”

David shouted and dug his nails into Patrick’s back as he came hard between them. The sudden tightness around his cock was enough for Patrick. He shoved his cock into David as far as he could go before his stomach tightened and he came, emptying himself into David.

Once his heart slowed down a fraction, Patrick lowered himself down to lay atop David. They both relaxed, Patrick’s cock still in David’s ass. David kissed Patrick’s sweaty temple and rubbed his back.

“Happy birthday, Patrick,” David whispered lovingly in his ear.

Patrick picked himself up enough to stare at David’s beautiful face for a moment before kissing him.

“You are the best gift I could’ve ever asked for.”

“Are you just saying that because your cock is still inside me?”

Patrick smiled.

“Not at all.”

Chapter Text

The front door bell jingled as a customer entered the store. Patrick looked up from his tax forms spread out across the counter and smiled.

“Guten Morgen, Herr Brewer,” Stevie said as she sauntered up to him with a smirk on her face.

“Guten Morgen, Fraulein Budd,” he replied in jest.

He put his pen down to meet her at the end of the counter. They hugged, which was a development in their friendship given that Stevie wasn’t much of a hugger. But given how much rehearsal time they’d had to put in – and some of the compromising lifts Mrs. Rose had made them try – they now felt very comfortable with each other. Patrick felt it safe to say that Stevie was quickly becoming one of his best friends.

“You said you have something for me?” Patrick asked when they pulled back.

“I do,” she said. She bit her lip as she dug into her back pocket. When she pulled her hand back out, between her fingers was a folded $20 bill.

Patrick burst out laughing.

“I can’t believe you’re paying up so soon!” He took the money from her and inspected it. They’d had a bet going since rehearsals started that each night, they would see who could use the most antiquated big words incorrectly without Mrs. Rose correcting them. It started after Stevie had found an app that randomized a bunch of old-fashioned words, and they’d both downloaded it to study. Patrick had beat her by just one last night, ending the night with a grand total of 18 fake words. They’d almost tied, but Stevie was corrected just as they were leaving city hall.

“It’s not fake, by the way,” Stevie said quickly.

“Well, now you’re making me think it is.”

“Did you think I went home after rehearsal last night to print up money just to fool you?”

“I was just double-checking you weren’t a chapman,” Patrick said with a wink.

Stevie pointed at him, giving him a comically big smile.

“Your winning word!”

Patrick bowed.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said, putting on his best impersonation of Mrs. Rose. “I’m a professional wordsmith with druthers for wielding my scopious vocabulary.”

She laughed again.

“Okay, we get it, you studied—”

“Oh, my little limpet,” he cut her off, causing her to bust out laughing again. “You haven’t an inkling the depths of my abilities at dialogue!” Stevie looked on the verge of tears which only got Patrick to start laughing with her.

The doorbell jingled as David finally arrived after his morning of sourcing products in Elmdale.

Stevie snorted amidst her laughter.

“Stop! Oh my god!” she begged.

“Oh! You must be having a lovely morning,” David remarked sarcastically. Patrick had learned he had a fear that if others were laughing without him, they must be laughing at him.

“Hey now, it’s just getting started,” Patrick replied in an attempt to comfort his boyfriend.

“Is it just getting started?” David asked cynically. “Because it looks like the two of you have been engaged in general merriment for quite some time now.”

Stevie and Patrick immediately looked at one another. ‘Merriment’ was definitely a Mrs. Rose word. She had said it no less than four times at Wednesday’s rehearsal.

“Did he just say ‘merriment’?” Stevie asked him.

“I think he did,” Patrick confirmed.

David’s brow furrowed.

“Yes, I said ‘merriment’. Because that’s what happens when I spend too much time with my mother, and I blame you two for it.”

“So, how was, uh, dinner last night?” Patrick asked.

“Ooh, long,” David said bitterly. “We spent two and a half hours going over a costume lineup for the show. All so that the two of you could sneak off to some secret dance rehearsal behind her back like a pair of dirty con artists.” (Or chapmen, Patrick’s brain humorously supplied.)

He was right, though. Through a series of increasingly intriguing offers, Patrick had bribed David into keeping his mother away from City Hall so that they could practice with a professional choreographer Stevie had found online and play the new choreography off like their own invention. They knew if she was present, any progress they were making as dancers would be out the window.

“Hey, listen, David,” Patrick said. “Your mom is a great director. She’s just not used to working with amateur dancers.”

And they were amateurs . Patrick’s last dance classes had been in high school PE and Stevie’s were never. Yet she was treating them like they’d just been hired from the Alvin Ailey touring company.

“Yeah, last week she told me to dance like an Indonesian scarf caught in the wind,” Stevie said. “I don’t even know what that looks like.”

“This ‘Money’ number is so complicated, that if we don’t get the outside help, we will be laughed off stage,” Patrick explained. The song was challenging enough to sing but adding difficult choreography to it made it nearly impossible. “You’ve seen me dance.”

“Yes, you have legs like tree trunks,” David shot back. “We knew that going into this.”

“Thank you,” Patrick said, unsmiling. David was a huge fan of Patrick’s thick thighs in bed, but dancing was a completely different story. His legs were strong and good for playing catcher, not for moving nimbly across a stage while remembering dialogue and melodies and when to lift someone so she didn’t fall to the floor again.

“Can we just have one more private session with Derek?” Stevie begged. “And then it’s done.”

“One more session?!” David exclaimed. “I thought last night was the last session!”

“Well, we couldn’t nail the final lift,” Patrick said, somewhat embarrassed. They’d done it over and over and over again but each time something different had happened and one of them was always millimeters away from injuring themselves.

“What is this, ‘Dirty Dancing’?!” David asked sarcastically.

“David, please,” Patrick pled. “Just keep her distracted for one more night.”

“No. No! It’s too much!

“Okay,” Stevie sighed. She was definitely turning on the guilt trip. “Then I guess we can just… tell her we’re getting outside help.”

“Mm, good luck. When she was coaching me for the ‘Little Mister’ pageant, I made the mistake of going to Mario Lopez for advice, he was hosting at the time. Anyway, she found out and felt so betrayed, she ‘forgot’ to double knot my tap shoes and cost me the crown.” David paused briefly. “So, I will cover for you for one more night. But that is it! This better be worth it.”

Stevie and Patrick beamed in appreciation. He was so grateful for David normally, but especially now. They wanted the show to be good and that was only going to happen with these extra rehearsals.

David pushed through them.

“Excuse me, I have a job to do,” he said before disappearing into the backroom.

Stevie held up her hand for a quiet high-five.

“We’re gonna nail it tonight,” Stevie said as she shook out her arms. “I can just feel it.”

“Totally.”

“8 o’clock?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Auf Wiedersehen,” she said with a wave as she headed toward the door.

“Auf Wiedersehen!” Patrick called after her.

Once Stevie had left, David reemerged from behind the curtain. He took his position behind the counter, his hands folded in front of him, waiting expectantly, decidedly not looking at Patrick. Patrick smirked.

“This really means a lot to me and Stevie, David,” he said before tracing a finger down David’s bicep. David peered at him out of the corner of his eye.

“Well, I hope the show is good for all of our sakes,” David said. “Between your dancing and Stevie being cast without any formal audition, I may be taking up nightly prayer until the show closes.”

Patrick smiled and stepped closer to David to wrap his arms around his waist. David tried not to respond, but he put a hand on Patrick’s forearm.

“You’re the best boyfriend, you know that, right?” Patrick asked.

“I’ve literally never heard that sentence said to me not dripping with sarcasm.”

“Well, you are. Between helping me come out to my parents to playing baseball to this—”

“All I’m hearing is that you need a lesson in compromise,” David said, a smirk tugging at his lips. He turned in Patrick’s arms to drape his own over Patrick’s shoulders. Patrick smiled brightly. “I just give and give and give and have gotten nothing in return.”

Patrick tilted his head in mock confusion.

“Mm, I think if anything this is you finally paying me back for teaching you how to run a business, for fixing the lights here, for driving you everywhere, for letting you kiss me after I watched you eat something off the ground—”

“Okay!” David interrupted. “Um, after tonight, let’s just call it even.”

“Oh, we are nowhere near even, David,” Patrick said.

David smirked.

“Well, I guess that’s okay since I like taking care of you,” David said softly.

“I like taking care of you too.”

Patrick leaned up and met David for a tender kiss.

The doorbell jingled and a couple of customers walked in.

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”


 

“And twist and step and step and bend and drop and bend…”

Derek clapped the beat over the music as Patrick and Stevie ran through the choreography again. It was their third or fourth time through the whole routine without even adding singing to the mix. They had just been saying their lines over Derek’s clapping. Patrick was certain his legs were going to fall off soon.

“Makes the world go round!”

“And toss!”

They pretended to throw the money up into the air. Patrick was less out of breath than he’d been on previous run-throughs, but they had yet to add the singing in which was bound to make it worse.

“Great job, you guys!” Derek said, applauding them. “Let’s take five before doing the whole number from the top with the singing.”

Stevie groaned, collapsing at the waist and touching her toes before dropping completely to the floor to sit. Patrick immediately collapsed onto one of the chairs surrounding them. Derek helpfully brought them their water bottles.

“Thank you again for doing this with us, Derek,” Patrick said. Stevie nodded vigorously as she drank deeply from her water.

“It’s no problem,” Derek replied. “I love musicals, especially Cabaret, and it’s so rare we get any sort of decent entertainment in the area.”

Stevie perked up.

“Did you hear that, Patrick? We’re decent entertainment!”

Derek laughed again.

“Nah, you guys are gonna be good,” he corrected himself. “With all these extra rehearsals, that kind of dedication won’t go unnoticed.”

“Oh, it needs to go unnoticed,” Patrick said. “Or she might not double-knot our tap shoes.”

Derek stared at him, his mouth slightly agape.

“I’m not sure what that’s a reference to, but we’re about to go again,” he said, checking his phone.

Stevie groaned again. Patrick helped her up off the floor.

“Alright, full run-through with singing and no clapping,” Derek announced.

Their accompanist returned to the piano and played through a couple chords. Stevie and Patrick prepared for the full thing with some light stretching and deep breathing.

“Places!” Derek said.

Patrick looked at Stevie.

“You ready?”

She nodded.

“Ready.”

Derek pointed to the pianist to begin.

“Money makes the world go around
...the world go around
...the world go around.
Money makes the world go around
It makes the world go 'round…”

The beginning choreography of the song was easy. Singing this was never where they ended up in trouble. He and Stevie breezed through it like they’d done it dozens of times. (Which, okay, they had.)

Excitement crackled just under Patrick’s skin. They were nailing it. They had made the briefest eye contact, checking in with one another before. He could see it on Stevie’s face that she felt it too.

It was a good feeling to have going into the hardest part of the routine.

“When you haven’t any coal in the stove.
And you freeze in the winter and curse through the wind
And your fate when you haven’t and shoes on your feet
And your coats thin as paper
And you look 30 pounds underweight
When you go to get a word
Of advice from the fat little pastor…”

They grabbed various props and costume pieces off the chairs surrounding them as they hit every mark, then quickly dropped them to the ground.

It was an out-of-body experience, to be this far into the routine and not be worried about how it was going. He knew it was going well. He trusted that Stevie was going to nail all of her beats, and she trusted him. His singing and acting were on autopilot which let him just focus on hitting every mark and lifting Stevie at the precise right moment.

“At the window!”

“At the window!”

“Who’s there?”

“Hunger!”

“Ooh, hunger!”

God, he loved that little movement Stevie did, clutching her stomach. If he weren’t in the piece, he’d probably be laughing at how ridiculous she looked in that pose.

“See how love flies out the door
Money makes the world go round
The world go round the world…
Money makes the world go round
The clinking clanking sound of…
Money money money money money money money…”

They circled around, holding their fake money. It was almost over. The lift was coming up.

“Get a little!”

“Get a little!”

“Money money money money
A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound”

He spun her out. She flashed her money at him.

“Clinking clanking clunking sound
It’s all that makes the world go round”

Here it was. He hopped and got into position. She bent over and he caught her, flipping her around in the air like a no-handed cartwheel. She landed on her feet like a cat.

“Make the world go round!”

They tossed their money into the air and watched it float down around them like leaves from a tree.

Both of them were panting and laughing. They’d done it! Patrick patted Stevie on the back.

Then he felt her stand up straight quickly.

“Oh my god!” she gasped.

“Ahem,” David said as he and his mother entered the room.

How long had they been there? How could David have done this? He was supposed to keep her occupied by any means necessary!

“David, what are you doing here?” Stevie asked, trying to play dumb.

David pointed to his phone and mouthed, ‘I tried to call you.’

“I have questions,” Mrs. Rose said, gesturing to Derek who was innocently standing off to the side of the room.

If his heart hadn’t already been pounding from the dance routine, Patrick’s heart would’ve been at this point. He had a hard time looking Mrs. Rose in the eye. They’d been doing such a good job keeping the rehearsals under wraps. Guess they flew too close to the sun with the extra night.

“Mrs. Rose, this is Derek,” Stevie said. “He’s been just helping us practice the steps to the number.” Derek smiled awkwardly.

“And how long have you all been moonlighting?” Mrs. Rose asked.

“Just… just about a week,” Patrick said nervously.

“It’s a really fun piece,” Derek chimed in.

“Yes, I’m aware, thank you,” Mrs. Rose snapped.

Derek deflated slightly. He paused, then looked over at Stevie and Patrick.

“I’m just gonna head outside,” he said uncomfortably.

“Yeah, yes,” Stevie agreed.

“Thanks, Derek,” Patrick called after him as he left the room.

Neither Stevie nor Patrick could meet Mrs. Rose’s eyes. They’d lied to her about their secret rehearsals. Surely, she wouldn’t yell at them, but she definitely had the capacity to knock them down several pegs emotionally.

“So, all this time, I thought—” She caught herself. “—poor David thought that you were home, resting your instruments!”

That was… not the reaction they were expecting.

“Oh?” Stevie queried.

David had clearly said something to her and smoothed it all out before they’d even come inside. Mrs. Rose was more stubborn than her son, so for her to misdirect like this was surprising to all of them.

“I’m so disappointed,” David said flatly.

“Sorry, David,” Patrick said.

“So sorry,” Stevie said.

“It’s okay,” David replied with a tiny nod.

“However, in the business of show,” Mrs. Rose began. David softly smiled beside her. “Skullduggery, when it leads to such thrilling results, a pinch of moral corruption is a small price to pay.” She smiled and clapped awkwardly around the binders in her arms. Even David gave them a few golf claps.

Stevie laughed in relief and Patrick joined her.

“Oh, is that good?” she asked quietly.

“Yeah, I think so,” Patrick assured her.

Mrs. Rose beamed at them. It warmed Patrick to get the approval of a person who meant so much to David.

“You choreographed this?” David asked his mom curiously.

“I loosened the pickle jar,” she replied. “Derek merely popped the lid.” David was really good at stroking his mother’s ego.

“Very impressed. Was not embarrassed at all. And I thought I would be,” David beamed at them as he applauded again.

There was the response Patrick was expecting from his boyfriend.

“So sweet,” Patrick replied.

It was a step up for him to actually not be embarrassed, considering that just a year ago he’d thought Patrick singing at the open mic night was going to kill him. It was nice to prove David wrong sometimes.

“Well,” Mrs. Rose said. “I should let you all get back to your dance rehearsal. I just wanted to drop these off.” She set the binders down on the nearby table. “Better get your dance adjudicator back in here. He’s doing a fine job maintaining the artistic vision of the original choreography.” Patrick and Stevie nodded in agreement.

She started to back out of the room toward the door.

“Remember to rest your instruments! 64 fluid ounces of tea with only a teaspoon of honey in each cup! You may be tempted to put more in, but trust me, you two are not nearly professional enough to need more,” she said. David winced.

“I’m sure they’ve got it, Mom,” David insisted.

“Bye, Mrs. Rose!” Stevie called out after her. Patrick waved.

“I hope you’re both proud of yourselves,” David said, folding his arms.

Patrick and Stevie looked to each other and smiled.

“We actually are.”

“Yup.”

Shortly after Mrs. Rose left, Derek returned, and they exchanged their goodbyes before Derek left. It was the end of their rehearsal anyway and he had to get home to his wife.

Patrick and Stevie gathered all their costumes and props into their duffel bags and with David, they reset the room to how they had found it. As they were walking down the front steps, Patrick slid his hand into David’s, lacing their fingers together.

“Did you mean it when you said you weren’t embarrassed?” Patrick asked.

“I mean, based on the little bit that I saw, yes,” David said. “But of course, there is probably plenty else to be embarrassed about regarding the rest of the show. Like, my sister will be up there dancing as well.”

“Oh, Alexis is not a good dancer,” Patrick said seriously.

“See? You won’t be the most embarrassing thing for me,” he said before planting a kiss on Patrick’s cheek. “Now, let’s get dinner. Watching you dance has me starving.”

Chapter Text

Patrick anxiously tapped his fingers on the glass case as he waited for the clerk to return with his order. His phone buzzed.

2:32pm: How’s the retail psychology seminar?

2:32pm: Great. About to go back in, actually.

He’d lied to David. He never had a retail psychology seminar.

At the moment, Patrick was standing in the middle of a jewelry shop in a large city four hours away picking up David’s engagement ring.

Sorry, engagement rings.

God, he was really doing it. He was really going to ask David to marry him.

“Here we are, sir!” the cheerful clerk said as she returned. In her hands was a long, black, velvet box. She delicately placed it down in front of him.

His heart was going a mile a minute. His hands trembled as he reached forward and cracked open the box.

Shining in the harsh fluorescent lights were four gold bands, identical in size and shape to the silver ones David wore daily.

They were absolutely beautiful.

Patrick covered his mouth as he let out an undignified laugh, a bubble of joy and excitement bursting out of him.

“Do you want to see them?” the clerk asked.

Patrick nodded vigorously. He watched her carefully pluck each ring out of the box, then delicately place them on the soft mat next to it.

He picked one up to examine it. It was sturdy, a solid weight in his palm.

“The 14-karat yellow gold is a great choice,” the clerk said with a soft smile. “Beautiful. Nice and sturdy.”

“Thank you,” Patrick said, finally trusting his voice. “I know he’d prefer 24, but I wanted something that was going to last a little bit longer.” David was used to nicer things and Patrick wanted to give him the world. Unfortunately, a lot of that was much bigger than his budget would allow. Hopefully he would see that the significance of the gesture was more important than the rings themselves.

“Did you see the inscription on the inside?” she asked.

He tilted the ring. Sure enough, etched into the inside was the word “best” in his handwriting.

The lump in his throat swelled. These words would be pressed against David’s skin as a constant reminder of what he meant to Patrick.

“They’re perfect,” Patrick murmured as he wiped away a tear.


 

The week leading up to when Patrick had planned on asking David was one of the most challenging weeks of his life. He had the perfect plan in place for how he was going to ask him, but knowing the rings were just waiting in his baseball duffel bag was excruciating. It felt like any time David so much as breathed on him Patrick might drop down on one knee and propose. He wanted to call David his fiancé as soon as humanly possible.

But David deserved better, so Patrick was going to give him the best proposal he could have ever wished for. He had everything planned: a beautiful hike in the woods to the most secluded and beautiful overlook Patrick had ever seen – Rattlesnake Point – where he would propose to David, with the valley as a gorgeous backdrop behind him, then they would settle in for a romantic picnic complete with champagne he had bought on his trip.

This proposal was going to be so different from his proposal to Rachel. She had dragged him into a jewelry shop, was extremely explicit about what ring she wanted, then talked about it non-stop for three months while Patrick scrounged up the money to buy it. She hadn’t pick a cheap one either; he’d had to work extra shifts at work to pay for it. And all they did was go to dinner at a fancy restaurant where everyone could see that she was going to get married. It had felt like a chore, and he’d felt empty as he did it.

This time, they were going to be alone in a place that meant so much to Patrick, where he’d realized he loved David and wanted him so desperately. David didn’t have to force Patrick’s hand. They both knew this was it for them. Patrick didn’t have to be told what to get. He knew David and he knew his sensibilities and what he would enjoy wearing. He wasn’t an easy person to shop for most days, but this time, Patrick had known exactly what to get.

He also knew he wasn’t going to ever convince David to go hiking, with him or otherwise. So, he had just said it was a picnic – which was half-true – and David had readily agreed. In the first few months of knowing him, Patrick had learned that David was a very food-motivated individual. As long as there was a delicious snack waiting for him at the end of the journey, he would agree.

“Honestly, the only time I’ve ever seen Alexis in any sort of tropical place that wasn’t a resort was when she posted online, she’d accidentally married a prince in Tuvalu,” David said as they hurtled along the highway in Patrick’s car toward Rattlesnake Point. “And even then, I don’t think she ever left his compound.”

Patrick was too nervous and excited to be a good conversationalist today. Thankfully, there was always enough going on in the Rose family that David never ran out of things to talk about. Patrick had taken David’s hand in his early in the drive, and it dawned on him that when they were driving back, there would be four rings on the hand he was holding.

“So now she’s supposedly gonna join Ted in the Galapagos Islands for some sea turtle research thing for six months?” David continued. “I’ll believe it when I see it on her social media.”

“You know, I’d never make you go to the Galapagos Islands,” Patrick replied as he pulled over to park. They’d made it.

“No, but you did make me go to that small business owners luncheon a few weeks ago.”

“You’re comparing going to that networking luncheon to living on a remote island for six months?” Patrick unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the car door.

“Sure,” David answered.

Patrick made a beeline to the trunk. He had to get the backpacks out before David ever had a chance to open them or really get a good look. The rings were tucked away in a secret pocket David likely wouldn’t have opened anyway, but he couldn’t chance it.

“Hey, what are we doing?” David asked after getting out of the car.

“We’re here.”

“Yeah, I just sorta feel picnicking by the side of the road is basically an invitation to be murdered.”

Patrick picked up both backpacks and shut the trunk.

“We’re going on a hike, David,” he said smoothly. “What, you always say you wanna do more physical activity, right?”

“Yes, so that you can tell me I don’t need to!” David argued. “I thought we were going on a picnic.”

“We are. We just have to hike to get there.”

“Yeah, I was picturing us like, on a charming park bench in the middle of a private English garden.”

Patrick slung the backpack with the rings over his shoulder.

“David, you have to stop watching Notting Hill. It’s not helpful for our relationship,” Patrick reminded him. In the time they’d been together, David had developed a habit of really doubling down on the tropes he’d seen in romcoms. Notting Hill had become his latest obsession.

“Okay, speak for yourself.”

“There you go,” Patrick said as he handed the second backpack to him.

“What is this?”

“That’s your picnic basket. We’re gonna need our hands free for the—”

“For the hike,” David finished for him.

“Hey, you’re gonna love this,” Patrick said seriously. “Trust me.” He had no idea what was in store for him at the end of the hike.

“Will I?” David groaned.

Patrick headed toward the beginning of the trail. When he turned to lock the car, he noticed David wasn’t immediately following.

“Let’s go, David!” he said to his boyfriend who was still not entirely on board. He plucked a leaf as he walked under a low-hanging branch. Behind him, David hustled to catch up.

“It’s just that you know, um, me and nature don’t usually get along,” David said once he was finally beside Patrick. He quickly slipped his hand into Patrick’s and laced their fingers together.

“I don’t think you’ve given nature a fair enough chance,” Patrick countered, squeezing David’s hand for emphasis.

“Um, I’ve given nature plenty of chances and she’s kind of a bitch. Bugs, dirt, sun, wind—”

“Don’t forget animals that will eat you.”

David stopped in his tracks, tugging Patrick’s arm back. His face was dead serious, as if that hadn’t previously occurred to him. Patrick had to bite the inside of his lip to keep from laughing. His boyfriend was ridiculous.

“So, I know my fear of literally everything amuses you,” David called him out. “But I don’t want to become one of those stereotypical cautionary tales of like, a couple going out for a picnic and then all that’s found of them is an empty basket and a spilled bottle of wine.”

“Well, a bear would for sure leave more evidence. What you’re describing sounds more like an alien abduction or-or like, a wendigo,” Patrick said dryly.

David stared at him, unlaughing.

“Okay, you know I don’t know what a wendigo is, but I know you’re making fun of me.”

Patrick finally smiled at David and took his other hand as well.

“I was, and I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “But I’ll tell you what. If a bear, or wendigo, or alien abduction happens, I’ll protect you. Sacrifice myself.”

“Yeah, well, you better since this hike was your idea.”

Patrick leaned forward and kissed David lightly on the cheek.

He had no idea what was coming.

They continued walking, finally making it to the hiking trail where they had to go single-file. It wasn’t a very long hike compared to others Patrick had taken, despite David saying it was like hiking Everest. And Patrick had figured since it was so lush and green after all the rain they’d been getting, that David would enjoy the beauty of the forest around them and forget about all the things he hated.

Of course, that wasn’t who David Rose was.

The complaining began soon after they started on the trail. First it was the bugs, then it was the smell of bug spray, then it was how hot it was, then it was refusing to stuff his sweater into a backpack, then it was a loud unknown sound off of the trail, then it was the eerie silence when the wind died down.

Patrick loved David, he really, truly did. He would never reconsider proposing to him. But he did wish, just once, that David would enjoy something new or different that Patrick liked without complaining the whole time. It was endearing most days, but Patrick was already nervous, and half of his mind was constantly focused on the box in his backpack.

“Okay, there’s no service here,” David complained from behind him, clearly checking his phone.

“David, put your phone down. We don’t need service. We have each other,” he replied. That was one reason he liked coming out here, no one could bother him.

“Well, if you can track my eBay bid, then by all means,” David said. A pause, then, “Did we really need two backpacks? I mean, what are you keeping in these things?”

“Well, you had a pretty long list, and we needed ice packs to keep the cheese that you requested cold.”

“Well, did I get the ice pack one? Because this is not light.” For the record, they both had ice packs and Patrick’s was the heavier of the two. Like he’d ever make David carry something extremely heavy. “Just wonder why we couldn’t have found a meadow somewhere, you know, with some men on horseback like, trotting in the background.”

That was the last straw for Patrick.

He whipped around to face him.

“Okay, David, do you want to turn around?!”

David looked surprised at his tone.

“Well, the app that’s counting my steps isn’t working, so I honestly don’t know,” He gestured to the phone in his hand.

“You know what?” Patrick paused. “I got up early to pack these bags for us because I thought this would be a fun thing to do together, but obviously that was a mistake.” This was supposed to be one of the most important days of their lives – not that David knew that – but he really didn’t want to get to the top and be so annoyed with David that the proposal would be awful.

David threw his hands up in surrender.

“Okay, wow. So then, let’s keep going, then,” David said.

Patrick knew what was coming and it wasn’t going to make this any better.

“Well, no,” he snapped. “‘Cause there’s like, another half an hour to go—"

“Ooh,” David grimaced.

“—So, I think it’s probably better if we just call it now and forget about the picnic.” He’d come up with another way to propose to David that still meant something to them, but which was less indicative of just how long Patrick had been in love with him.

“Okay, well, we can’t forget about the picnic, because I will need to eat at some point soon,” David reminded him.

“Really?” Did he even care about how he was making him feel? Or was he really only in it for the food?

“Okay!” David said calmly, reaching out to gently touch Patrick’s arms. “I love that you’ve done this for us, and I think you look very dashing in your hiking clothes. It’s just a long way to go for some cheese.”

“Then let’s turn around, David,” Patrick said, resigned. He walked past David to head back down the path they were on. “Because honestly, I—”

He let out a howl of pain as he stepped on a branch, forcing a sharp thorn to stab a hole through his shoe and into his foot. Searing pain zinged through him as he tried not to step with that foot again and force it into him further.

“Where’s the bear?!” David immediately shouted, absolutely panicked.

Patrick hopped a bit to stop himself from falling on his face. Then David was right there at his side, checking on him.

“No, I stepped on a branch. It went right through my shoe.” He had wanted to buy new hiking shoes before this excursion, but almost every bit of expendable income went to David’s rings.

“How do you know that it went through your shoe?” David asked.

Patrick whimpered and picked up his foot to show him the proof.

“Okay,” David said, grabbing Patrick’s calf to hold his foot up off the ground. “Everybody calm down. It’s gonna be fine.”

“Uh-huh.” Patrick draped an arm over David’s shoulders to steady himself.

“Uh-huh? So that—we should go to the…” David gestured to a rock that was just up the path a bit. “Okay. This way.”

“It’s right in the soft part.” Patrick wheezed.

“Yeah, I can see that.”

“Oh, fuck, you’re gonna have to pull it out of my shoe.”

“Mm, I don’t think that’s the best idea. You don’t know what kind of poison might be on that stick.”

“David, it is currently in my foot.”

“…fair point.”

They started the short yet awkward trek to the rock, David still lifting Patrick’s leg, forcing him to hop on one foot all the way up the path.

“There you go, you’re doing great,” David encouraged him. “We’re almost there.”

Once they’d reached the rock, Patrick dropped his backpack and David helped him take a seat on the upper part of the boulder. David took off his backpack as well.

“Ew, I can feel all the sweat from the backpack,” David remarked.

“David, please.”

“I’m coming,” he said quietly. He stepped over a little rock that was next to the one Patrick was on. “Oh look, a helpful little seat.” David gingerly sat down on the moss-covered rock and lifted Patrick’s leg, so that it was resting across his knees. He then became deeply preoccupied with the situation at the bottom of his shoe, concern written all over his face.

“Okay, David, I need you to pull it out,” Patrick instructed.

“Okay, I told you I don’t think this is a good idea,” David repeated.

“What, you think leaving it in is a better idea?!” he retorted harshly. “I would do it myself, but it needs to be pulled straight out.” His voice was starting to shake as the weight of the day was pressing down. David didn’t know how important today was and now it was all crumbling down around them.

“Okay!”

“Just pull it out, David!”

“Oh my god!”

David bent down to check his shoe.

“Straight out. Eyes need to be open, please.”

David turned back and pressed a silencing finger against Patrick’s lips.

“Shh! Shh for a second,” David whispered. Patrick finally did stop talking. He knew spooking David while he did this would end poorly.

With two hands firmly grasping the branch, David exhaled and successfully yanked the thorn out of Patrick’s shoe. He dropped the stick to the ground, shook his hands and turned to Patrick to ask, “Okay. Is it bleeding?”

Patrick stared at him for a long moment. His patience was worn thin.

“I don’t know, my shoe is on!”

“Okay.” David pulled off his shoe. He looked at the bottom of Patrick’s foot. “Yeah, I don’t see anything, but we should still put something on it because I don’t trust where that stick has been. Now, which of these backpacks have the first aid kit in it?”

Patrick’s stomach dropped. All his scout training must’ve gone out the window when he was loading up the backpacks. He’d been so focused on fitting all the food and ice packs in them (and was super distracted for other reasons) that he’d completely forgotten to pack his first aid kit.

“I didn’t bring one,” he confessed. “It was either the first aid kit or the ice packs.”

Patrick buried his face in his hands. A lump welled up in his throat and he wanted to cry. Everything about this was a disaster. He was an idiot for stepping on a stick, he was an idiot for not packing a first aid kit, and he was an idiot for thinking this was the best way to propose to David.

He wanted to show David how well he could plan and take care of him. He had wanted to pour all of his love into this one day, this one moment, because he would only get to propose to David once. He loved David so much and he deserved so much more than taking care of his boyfriend who was such a wreck right now.

“I wanna go home, David!” Patrick exclaimed, folding his arms over his chest. “This whole day’s been a bust!”

“Well, that’s not happening, so…” David dismissed Patrick as he pulled off his sock, letting it dangle from his toes. He had a small bottle in his hands that Patrick didn’t recognize.

“What is that?”

“It’s hand sanitizer, it can be used as a disinfectant,” David informed him. “You think I’d come to a picnic without it?” He squirted a dab onto his fingers, then reached over to rub it into Patrick’s skin.

Admittedly, Patrick was in a bit of awe. David was taking care of him, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Also, it was a little endearing that he’d brought his own hand sanitizer.

“Okay, there we go,” David said, shaking his hands, before tucking the bottle back into his pocket. “We’ll reapply later, but at least I don’t have to worry about gangrene.”

Patrick drew his leg toward himself to pull his sock back on. It was quiet between them for a moment, then David spoke again.

“I’m sorry for not appreciating you enough today,” he said gently. “You’ve packed two big backpacks full of food, and not a band-aid to be found in either of them, but still.” Patrick reached down for his shoe. “If you want to keep hiking, I think we should keep hiking.”

Once his shoe was firmly on his foot, Patrick sat back up. Everything felt terrible. His foot, his heart, his ego. Any suaveness he’d had was gone. He couldn’t be David’s confident, outdoorsy  boyfriend anymore today. Maybe another time.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said sadly. “But thank you. I think I sorta killed the romance.” God, he didn’t want to start crying now. Couldn’t the tears wait until after he dropped David back off at the motel?

“No, you didn’t,” David assured him, rubbing his arm comfortingly. “You planned this beautiful day for us. And I think we should finish it. Can you walk?”

Patrick looked away. David wanted to finish the hike. If David wanted to finish it, maybe the day wasn’t completely ruined.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Then we keep going.” David stood up and kissed Patrick on the forehead. He reached down for his bag. “Also, I’m starving and I need to eat something.”

David started up the path and Patrick quickly grabbed his backpack to catch up with him. Well, get in front of him.

“I should probably get out in front, David,” Patrick said as he pushed past him. “You have no idea where you’re going.” If there was anything he could salvage from today, it was his confidence in hiking this path.

“Okay, that’s fair,” David replied.

“Ow,” Patrick murmured to himself. He was limping – his foot still hurt – but he was going to make it to the summit.

He was not going to make it to the summit.

The thorn had gone weirdly deep into his foot. While he wasn’t bleeding when David checked, Patrick was certain there was at least a little blood now. They were so close to the overlook, but Patrick also knew he was going to need to stop about fourteen more times unless he wanted to be a complete pill once they got there.

On one of these stops, David stood in front of him, taking off his backpack, and said the last thing he would have expected him to say in this situation.

“Let me carry you.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Yeah,” David said seriously, gesturing for Patrick to stand up off the log he was on. “I’ll carry you. Gimme your backpack.”

“David,” Patrick said. “I’ve seen you move boxes of product. Let me rephrase that: you make me move the boxes of product.”

“Um, I make you do it because I love seeing your biceps when you carry things.” David kissed the top of his head. “But for your information, I once carried Nicole Richie on my back for an hour in Lower Manhattan because she forgot where her hotel was. And I didn’t love her. So, c’mon.” He gestured again for Patrick to get up.

“I’m much heavier than Nicole Richie,” Patrick reminded him as he stood up. His intention for this trip had not been to make David a pack mule.

“You are, but at least I know you won’t throw up in my hair, so.”

David picked up Patrick’s red backpack and immediately his heart started to race. He watched him strap it to the front of his chest, not touching a single pocket.

A close call.

“Okay, now put mine on,” David instructed. Patrick did as he was told. “And get on my back.”

Patrick huffed.

“David, you don’t have to do this—”

“Yes, I do—”

“We’re super close—”

“Great, so I’ll carry you the rest of the way.”

David crouched down to a level where Patrick could climb on his back. With a deep breath, Patrick did. He wrapped his arms around David’s shoulders as David held onto his legs. David wobbled for a second, getting his bearings.

“Alright. How much further do we have to go?”

“Like, 10 more minutes.” Patrick was seriously impressed with David’s abilities right now.

“Less than I had to go with Nicole. Let’s do this.”

They continued the hike, Patrick riding on David’s back. There were a few points when he’d thought they were going to take a tumble (the ground wasn’t the most even in some places) but David managed to recover and keep them upright.

Soon, Patrick could see the opening in the trees for the overlook. His heart immediately began racing. It was almost time.

“David, we’re almost there. You can put me down now,” he said, tapping on David’s shoulder.

“Nope, not putting you down until we’re there.”

“David, I’m fine.”

“You were limping, and the rest of the hike would’ve made it worse,” David argued. “Plus, you don’t want to know what my mom would do if you showed up to opening night and couldn’t walk.” David groaned as he finally let Patrick down off his back. Patrick maneuvered himself to sit down on the closest rock, a rock on which he’d meditated on his relationship with David many, many times. David dropped the red backpack to the ground, then reached over to take Patrick’s backpack from him.

Still panting from the hike, David wandered out onto the ledge, looking over the valley below. It was a beautiful view, his boyfriend dressed in all black against the bright blue and green backdrop, one he’d never thought he would see. Being up here was calming and his heart slowed to close to its normal speed.

“Oh! Well, this is nice,” he remarked, turning back to Patrick.

Patrick gave him a tight smile.

“I wouldn’t have made you hike all this way if I didn’t think it was gonna be worth it.” He chuckled. “I know you a little better than that.” Had the view been less than spectacular, David would’ve been disappointed and groused about how he would’ve preferred running the risk of being murdered picnicking on the side of the road.

“Okay,” David said, gesturing to the bags. “So, how should I set up the picnic?”

Patrick’s heart rate ramped up and he could feel the pounding in his ears. It wasn’t the perfect day like he had planned. He still had an exit. He could reset all of this and hope for a better day, one where he wasn’t so pathetic, needing to be carried up a hill.

“Yeah, I think it might be a bit late for that,” he said, trying to hide all the feelings swirling inside of him. “Why don’t we, uh, why don’t we just take in the view for a little while, and then we’ll save the picnic for another day?”

“Okay, I didn’t carry you up a mountain, not to eat cheese after, so…”

Patrick paused, grinning nervously and fidgeting with his fingers. More feelings came rushing in. If they were going to stay, then they would absolutely be leaving as a newly engaged couple. There was nowhere else Patrick really wanted to propose to David, as much as he wanted to have a hard reset on the day.

“I don’t know, David…” he murmured.

“Okay, just tell me what to do, and I’ll set it all up!” David argued. He was adamant about eating that cheese.

The anxiety and anger at himself for ruining the day was quickly being replaced by a nervous excitement, a buzzing beneath his skin.

“Okay, fine,” he agreed. He pointed to one of the backpacks. “Um, in the red bag there’s a blanket. You can take that out and lay it down.” David immediately dove into the bag and pulled out the brown blanket he’d packed.

“Okay, that’s nice.” David gently laid it down over the rocks and dirt.

“Uh, in the second bag—" Patrick pointed to the green one. “—there is a bundle of crackers and cheese.”

David opened the bag and instead of procuring the food, he found the bottle of champagne.

“Uh, excuse moi!” David joked excitedly, holding the very expensive bottle up.

“And champagne,” Patrick said calmly.

David hummed happily as he set the bottle down on the blanket.

It was time.

“And, uh, just one more thing,” he said trying to keep himself from choking on nerves. “Um, if you go into that front pocket there, there’s actually something…”

Patrick’s heart was attempting an escape through his ribcage as he watched David open the zipper. In his original plan, he was going to present them himself. But today was about improvisation. While David was distracted trying to get the pocket open, Patrick slowly and silently slid off the rock to get down on one knee so there was no mistaking what the box was about.

David pulled out the velvet box and stared at it for a second. When he turned to look at Patrick, presumably to ask what it was for, he let out an emotional exhale that morphed into a nervous laugh.

“What’s going on?” David asked breathlessly. He quaked as he held the box in his hands.

Patrick took a deep breath. He needed to get everything he wanted to say out, before he started crying from nerves and exhaustion and excitement and joy.

“So, I used to come on this hike a lot, when I first moved here,” he began.

There wasn’t much to do in Schitt’s Creek, especially when you were a bachelor questioning his sexuality after breaking off an engagement to your long-time girlfriend. Because Ray had maps and guidebooks all over his house, it had been easy for Patrick to find local hiking trails to explore. He’d been a scout, and hiking had been one of his favorite activities.

“And I was, uh, I was developing feelings for this guy I had just gotten into business with.”

When they’d started working together, Patrick didn’t quite understand all the feelings he was having for David. They’d been slow and simmering, and he’d thought he wasn’t ready to be in another relationship so soon after Rachel, but there was something about David that made Patrick want him. Rattlesnake Point – this overlook – was the first place where Patrick had acknowledged that he liked David as more than a friend.

“And… I didn’t know what to do about it because I didn’t know if that guy had the same feelings. Or if I’d ever be able to muster up the courage to let him know how I felt.”

Normally, Patrick’s confidence in these matters was through the roof. But David was guarded and harder to figure out than any of the women he’d ever dated. He also didn’t know the rules to dating men. He was so used to women chasing after him and him agreeing to be in a relationship with them, that he hadn’t known what it was like to be the chaser, to be the one who pined and longed and yearned for someone so incredible. He’d come up with his plan to take David on a date sitting at this overlook. When he was here, he let himself want David with the vastness of the valley below.

David was crying and seeing him so overwhelmed with emotions was going to make Patrick cry as well. He swallowed it down because he wasn’t quite finished.

“And now, here he is. The love of my life, standing in front of me.”

David sobbed at hearing Patrick call him the love of his life.

“And this just felt like the perfect place to ask you to marry me.”

David sobbed harder, something between laughing and crying. It was the most emotion Patrick had ever seen on David. It was beautiful.

David finally cracked open the box and saw the rings Patrick had gotten him.

Through the tears, he asked Patrick, “Wha-are you sure?”

“Easiest decision of my life,” Patrick said, smiling. His voice cracked with emotion.

David was beaming from ear to ear, crying with joy, as Patrick stood up to pull him into his arms and kiss him. He kissed his neck before they hugged tightly.

Patrick was hugging his fiancé.

His fiancé!!!

David laughed again before he pulled back to open the box.

“Are these 24-karat?” he asked.

A small part of Patrick’s stomach twisted. Would that change his answer?

David must’ve realized the absurdity of his question because he waved his hand and quickly said, “It’s a yes, it’s a yes! I love you.”

He kissed Patrick again and they hugged, really letting the gravity of what they just did sink in.

They were engaged.

David Rose was his fiancé.

They were going to get married.

David Rose was going to be his husband.

Patrick withdrew, and when his eyes met David’s, the tears that were clinging to the corners of his eyes finally rolled down his cheeks.

“Can I put them on you?” Patrick asked softly.

David laughed and nodded his head vigorously. He passed the box to him. Patrick stared at the four gold rings, still in awe that David had said yes.

“Um,” he said, then cleared his throat. “So, to answer your question, no, they’re not 24-karat.”

“That’s fine, that’s fine.” David wiped his eyes delicately with his sleeves.

“But they are one of a kind,” he continued. He finally looked up at David. “Like you.”

David rolled his eyes, but he was smiling.

“I went to a jeweler who made these just for you.” He plucked all of them out of the box and cradled them in his palm. “And there will never be another set like them, because…”

Patrick finally held up one of the rings to show David the inscription on the inside. David gasped. The waterworks were starting again.

“Do-do those say…” David could barely get the words out.

“You’re simply the best,” Patrick answered.

David sobbed again, covering his face with his hands. Patrick tenderly took David’s left hand – shaking with emotion – and brought it down between them.

Lovingly, Patrick slid the rings, in order, onto each of David’s fingers. Once the last one was in place, they both released another joyous laugh. David wiggled his fingers, admiring how the gold sparkled in the sunlight.

“They’re perfect,” David whispered.

A moment passed before they looked up at each other. David smirked.

“My fiancé…” he said slyly as he wrapped his newly ring-clad fingers around the back of Patrick’s neck and pulled him in for a long, heated kiss, the kind that made Patrick feel tethered to David.

They kissed for a while, swaying with the gentle breeze at the mountain top. Just when Patrick inhaled sharply and dropped his hands low on David’s waist, tugging him closer, David’s stomach growled loudly. They stopped, their foreheads pressed together, both smiling and laughing at being cockblocked like that.

“I guess we can save that for later,” Patrick said.

“Mm, I can’t wait to fuck my fiancé when we get home,” David sighed dreamily.

The hair on Patrick’s neck prickled. He was not prepared to hear that sentence spoken aloud, but boy did he want it.

“Me either.”

“Let’s enjoy this beautiful picnic my fiancé planned for us.”

Patrick chuckled.

“I love you,” Patrick whispered. “My fiancé.”

A blush rose quickly on David’s cheeks.

“I’m your fiancé,” David repeated.

“Yup.”

“And you’re my fiancé.”

“Mhm.”

“We’re going to get married.”

“That’s generally what fiancés do.”

“God, I’m never going to get tired of you using that word,” David exhaled happily, finally stepping back and getting some air.

“Good, because I only plan to stop using it right after our wedding.”

Our wedding.”

“But first, I want to have a picnic with my fiancé.”


 

The rest of the picnic was perfect. They had cheese and crackers, drank champagne, did a hell of a lot more kissing. At some point, David had plucked off his silver rings and stowed them in the velvet box. (“Two sets of rings is overkill.”) More than once, Patrick had caught David zoning out and just staring at the gold rings on his fingers. Usually he’d be upset, but today he let it slide.

There was an electricity between them as they relaxed on the blanket. Every time David touched him, there was a crackle of thunder and lightning under his skin. David would purposefully rake his nails across Patrick’s skin, just enough to make him shiver. Something about all of this should have been comforting and affirming – and it was! – but instead all Patrick wanted to do was get David naked. It certainly didn’t help when David had decided to tug on his earlobe with his teeth while moaning softly.

Yeah, David had an agenda. Thankfully, it was the exact same as Patrick’s.

The trek down the mountain was much faster than the trek up. Either it had healed or he was far too distracted to notice, Patrick’s foot suddenly didn’t hurt anymore. And suddenly David had zero complaints about hiking. (Okay, he had one and it was why the car was so far away.)

Back at the car, they had quickly tossed the backpacks into the trunk and drove off, heading back to Schitt’s Creek.

Patrick was getting more and more impatient. He had had to wait two hours during their picnic, then another hour coming down the mountain, then another 30 minutes driving back to his apartment, and 30 years waiting for David to come along…

David reached over the console and rested his hand high and in on Patrick’s thigh. He glanced down to see those four glittering rings against his leg, then to David. David’s eyes were forward, watching the road, but he was breathing deeply through his nose. It wasn’t just Patrick.

He pressed on the gas a little harder.

The drive home had cooled them off a little, yet there was still heat and desire simmering between them. They grabbed the backpacks out of the trunk, their hands brushing each other as often as possible. Patrick held David’s hand and led him up the stairs to his apartment. David stood close as Patrick unlocked the door, delicately tracing a finger along Patrick’s bicep, the small touch making his heart race and his body ache for David.

Patrick took a deep breath.

“I’m going to say this now, because once we’re inside, I know what will happen,” Patrick said evenly. He looked up at David whose dark eyes were so soft and deep. “We’re going to put the extra food away first before doing other… things. Because the last thing I want, first thing in our engagement, is dealing with rotten food.”

David bit his lip and nodded.

“Sounds good,” he replied, his voice cracking. His eyes darted down to Patrick’s lips.

It felt like the first time they had had sex as official boyfriends. Patrick wanted to go slow and savor every moment of the occasion, and yet he was so hungry for David.

Patrick opened the door and the two men went inside. David silently passed him his backpack and let him unpack what little food remained in the bag. (Patrick had packed for David’s appetite, after all.) When he turned away from the fridge, he saw his fiancé standing quietly next to the couch, admiring the rings on his fingers in the soft light cast by the setting sun through the curtains.

God, he was beautiful.

“Hey,” Patrick said gently as he approached David.

“Hi,” David answered.

Patrick gathered David in his arms and kissed him tenderly while David put his hand on Patrick’s cheek, letting him feel the warmed metal of his engagement rings against his skin.

They stood there for a few minutes, swaying together, trading soft caresses of lips. Everything felt delicate and precious. Rushing to have sex was great, but this, this made Patrick’s heart yearn for David. He felt every fiber of his body aching to consume David, but instead, he wanted to savor this moment for as long as he could.

David left a trail of sweet kisses across his cheek before reaching his ear and whispering, “Come to bed with me.”

Patrick’s breath caught in his throat. He’d never get used to that.

David’s hand slid down Patrick’s arm to take his. He led Patrick around the couch to his side of the bed where he pulled Patrick in close again to kiss him. David unzipped Patrick’s jacket, then began to push it off his shoulders. Patrick followed his lead, letting it fall to the floor. Then David stepped back far enough to pull his sweater off, leaving him in just an undershirt. He came back to kiss Patrick again before his sweater even hit the floor.

It was slow, yet rehearsed, as they undressed themselves and each other, only breaking away from one another’s lips when absolutely necessary. It felt just like the first time they had had any real privacy; Patrick wanted to spend every moment he could with his lips touching David’s. David lightly traced his jaw, sending a wave of goosebumps down his neck, and drawing a soft moan from Patrick’s throat. He placed his hand directly over Patrick’s heart, all four gold rings pressed into his skin like hot brands.

God, David had said yes.

Patrick wanted him to lead tonight. The whole day had been all his idea: taking the hike, doing the picnic, proposing. Tonight, he wanted to show how utterly devoted he was to this man. Whatever David wanted, Patrick was going to give him.

Once every piece of clothing was on the floor, David withdrew and stepped back, almost demurely. He sat back on the bed, then laid down, his feet planted on the bed, and opened his legs.

Patrick’s mouth went dry.

His eyes raked up David’s body from his hardening cock to his hairy chest and belly, to his swollen lips, and his hungry eyes that were so, so dark.

Fuck, if Patrick hadn’t already, he would’ve proposed to David just from seeing him like this alone.

“Join me?” David reached a hand between his legs toward Patrick.

Patrick didn’t need to be told twice.

He climbed onto the bed and between David’s thighs. He lowered himself on top of him, their cocks pressed together between their bellies, and David pulled his knees up to gently dig his heels in Patrick’s glutes. He was surrounded by David, a willing prisoner. The first time David wrapped his legs around him – a position that was familiar to Patrick – he knew he finally got it right. Then, he had had flashbacks to previous relationships, how he had done it then, and how  different it would be with David. Except now, he could hardly remember what his sex life was before David. And he’d never have to imagine what it would be like after.

Patrick cupped David’s cheek and kissed him deeply. David’s big hands spread over Patrick’s back, like David was trying to hold as much of him as possible. It was heaven being this wrapped up in his fiancé. Skin to skin like they would never be close enough.

Their kisses were long and languid, taking their time, just knowing, they had the rest of their lives to do this together.

God, David Rose was going to be his husband.

Patrick moaned. He was going to have a husband. And not just any husband, but the gorgeous man currently digging his heels into his ass, encouraging him to hump him.

“C’mon,” David gasped softly.

And hump him he did. Patrick rolled his hips and ground their cocks together, the sparks of pleasure exploding in his brain. Dragging his cock through the hair on David’s stomach could always get him going. He rutted between their bellies and David rolled his hips to meet him. The friction of David’s cock against his own made Patrick kiss him harder. David let out a deep groan, one that emphasized the baritone in his voice.

His physical maleness and masculine attributes weren’t the only reasons Patrick loved David, but dear god did they do something for him, something no woman could ever give him, and honestly, no other man could either. This was all David. The one man he was going to devote his life to. And that thought only made him want David more.

Desire pulsed through him like an electric storm. He was starved for David’s touch. It wasn’t enough.

“Fuck, I love you so much, David,” he breathed against his lips.

“I love you, I love you,” David echoed, his breathing ragged. He was feeling the same effects Patrick was.

“Tell me what you want,” Patrick said hotly. David whined.

“I want you inside me,” David replied, then swallowed like he was trying to find his breath. “Fuck, Patrick, please.”

When David begged, Patrick would do literally anything for him.

Instantly and without thinking, Patrick ripped himself away from David and reached over him for the bedside drawer. As he stretched for the lube, David left loose, wet kisses on his chest. He nipped Patrick’s skin with his teeth, creating a buzz beneath Patrick’s skin.

He needed to be inside David now.

He knelt between David’s knees and poured lube onto one quivering palm to smear messily on his cock. He took a bit to rub against David’s hole, but the amount on his dick was absolutely going to be enough.

“C’mere,” David said dazedly, gesturing for him. “Patrick, c’mere.”

David gathered Patrick in his arms while Patrick shoved his cock inside him. David keened, moaning high and long. Patrick set a good pace, his dick sliding through David’s slick channel, fucking him just how they both liked it. David held him close, hugging him tightly to his body, only his hips able to move, snapping into him.

When David opened his eyes, he looked drunk, his dark eyes unfocused and face slack. He was entirely consumed by Patrick. It was rare for David to completely lose himself in sex; there was always an anxiety or two that inevitably lingered. But now, Patrick could feel in his kisses, his touch, his looks that literally nothing mattered except him and their love.

“I love you so much – ha, hngh – oh, fuck me – oh!Patrick…” David mumbled faintly in his ear as they rocked together. His fingers curled in the short hairs at the nape of Patrick’s neck and his nails scratched at his scalp. The warm metal from David’s engagement rings pressed into his skin.

God, David was his fiancé. He’d get to fuck this gorgeous man for the rest of his life.

He let out a sob and held David tighter, slamming his hips in a few more times before cumming deep inside his fiancé. That was apparently enough for David, because he came shortly after, his cum making a mess of both of their bellies.

David dragged Patrick’s lips over to his to kiss him, long and deep. They kissed for a while, staying wrapped up in each other and connected. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Patrick felt David smile against his lips before David mumbled, “My fiancé.”

“All yours.”

Chapter Text

The next morning, Patrick woke up an engaged man.

It was the second time in his life, but he was definitely happier this time around.

He rolled onto his side to find David, his fiancé of less than 24 hours, sleeping peacefully with slightly upturned lips. He wondered if David was dreaming of him.

God, he was going to get to see David’s face every morning for the rest of his life.

The rush from the engagement still hadn’t worn off, and he hadn’t even been the one to be surprised! He’d obviously known the proposal was coming - and had rightfully assumed David would say yes. So how was he still filled with this much childlike glee? 

Briefly, he reflected back on his engagement to Rachel and how different that had felt, like a cinder block was constantly resting on his chest. It had been hard to be excited; manufacturing his happiness had taken so much out of him that he had lost interest in a lot of things he liked doing. So he’d left.

Now he was here with the absolute love of his life, soaring through the clouds with joy.

He tenderly brushed a loose hair from David’s forehead to join his perfectly coiffed pompadour. David’s eyes fluttered open and his smile grew even wider.

“Hi,” David said, his voice thick from sleep.

“Hi,” Patrick replied tenderly. 

They gazed at each other silently for a few moments. Patrick watched as David’s eyes softened and his cheeks grew pink, giving him a shy look he knew very well.

Patrick shifted so he could wrap an arm around David’s waist, cuddling him closer. David hummed contently as he threaded his fingers through Patrick’s hair and pulled him in for a kiss. It was slow and lazy, savoring one another despite the promise of forever looped in gold on David’s hand.

David moaned softly as Patrick slipped a hand under his shirt to touch his heated skin. Touching David would never grow old for Patrick. He wished they were still naked from sex last night, but David’s stomach had growled loudly almost immediately after they’d both come so they’d chosen to clean up and change into pajamas before they’d finished off the cheese and crackers.

“God, I can’t believe I’m kissing my fiancé,” David murmured, his breath hot against Patrick’s lips. Patrick couldn’t help but smile between kisses.

“I can’t believe I’m kissing my fiancé,” Patrick echoed teasingly. Normally David would pull back and give him a critical look. Instead, the most adorable, jubilant smile Patrick had ever seen lit up David’s face.

He’d done that. He’d made David that happy.

Just then, the loud blare of Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” erupted from David’s phone. David’s smile dropped, his eyes rolling in annoyance. Patrick smiled adoringly at him, he’d seen the soft blush that had appeared on David’s cheeks when he turned back from shutting it off. It was David’s second alarm he’d apparently forgotten to turn off today. Normally, Patrick never heard it because he was either at the store already or in the shower.

Unfortunately, they did have to get up, as it was opening night of Cabaret and they still had a couple of things to take care of at the store before they headed over to the playhouse. They couldn’t spend the whole day in bed as enticing as that sounded.

When David rolled back over, he had his phone in hand.

“Oh, Stevie texted last night,” David remarked. Patrick shook his head with a grin. He knew the minute David’s phone was unlocked it had all of David’s attention. So, he figured he’d take the opportunity to do something special for his fiancé.

“And what did she say?” he asked as he climbed out of bed. He padded into the kitchen to find the half-drunk bottle of champagne.

“She asked if we’d been eaten by bears, which—okay, not funny,” he said. “I told her that was a very real fear of mine and she sent me this link to people who have lived very full lives after bear attacks.”

Patrick snorted. He really adored David and Stevie’s friendship. She knew the exact buttons to push that were juuuust enough to annoy him without being cruel.

David fell silent as Patrick grabbed two champagne flutes and poured the bubbly. When he turned around, the sight of David propped up in their bed absently scrolling through his phone, his gold rings glinting occasionally in the soft morning light as he cradled it in one hand, took his breath away. The sight alone could’ve put Patrick in a good mood had he not already been in an excellent one.

He playfully whistled as he returned to bed, dancing a little with the flutes in hand.

David looked up from his phone and smiled.

“Oh my god, is this what marriage is?” David asked, absolutely delighted, as Patrick handed him his glass.

“Nope,” Patrick corrected. “this is just left over from the picnic yesterday and I didn’t wanna waste it, so…”

They clink glasses softly.

“Hmm, you could’ve lied,” David said sardonically.

Patrick settled into the pillows to get a better look at what David was doing on his phone.

“And what are we doing over here?” he asked.

“Hmm. I’m just editing some of our engagement photos.”

David turned his phone so Patrick could see. It was one of his personal favorites – his eyes were closed, his forehead touching David’s temple, as David smiled at the camera with his hand sporting his new gold rings covering part of his mouth. David looked so young and joyful and Patrick had never seen himself look more at peace in a photo. He remembered what he’d been feeling before they took the picture. David had briefly mentioned that they’d need to take a few good pictures that would go with the aesthetic of any future fireplace they might have. (“I don’t want to have to retake these, you know I’m not a good actor, Patrick. I can’t just manufacture surprise.”) And it made Patrick think about all the future fireplaces they could have. He knew they would one day move out of his small studio apartment and into a lovely three-bedroom house that would become the home they would build together. Asking David to marry him brought the promise of creating a full and complete life with him and Patrick couldn’t wait.

“You look great. I look like I crawled out from under a bridge,” David remarked. Patrick let out a chuckle. He could never see David how he saw himself. He also knew a conversation about engagement photos was one that could span multiple days and they didn’t have that kind of time today.

“Hey, have you given any more thought to uh, when you wanna start telling people?” Patrick asked hesitantly. “I’m kinda scared to do it today, I don’t think your mom would want anything upstaging opening night of the show.” They’d briefly discussed it driving back from the hike, but they’d tabled it in favor of going inside and having sex.

“Yeah, and I don’t think we need that added hiccup, so…”

“So tomorrow, then?”

“Yeah,” David agreed with an airy smile. “I mean, I haven’t given it that much thought.” Patrick wasn’t so sure about that. David had rambled through quite a few announcement ideas in the car before Patrick had gripped his thigh tighter.

He took a sip of his champagne as David fell silent.

“So, one other option.”

There it was. Patrick took a deep breath.

“What if,” David posited. “After the show tonight, we corralled a few people back to the motel?”

That wasn’t that bad of an idea. They were planning on having a cast party, and it would likely be easier to get a celebratory Moira home if they just did it there.

“We talk about the show for five to ten minutes, then maybe dim the lights, pop some bubbly, put some music on,” David elaborated, gesturing and touching him at important points. “I could stand up and give a speech. I’d look to you – you don’t need to give a speech – but at this point I think Alexis will be getting misty, which will send sort of this intoxicating ripple effect through the room. Most people will be sobbing. And I’ll be holding back tears, but the fact that I’m holding them back, I think, will make it all the more powerful. And you can be topping up drinks.”

“Great to know you’ve barely given this any thought,” Patrick said sarcastically.

He knew David would want to go over the plan in even more excruciating detail, like where everyone would be standing, wardrobe choices, etc., but there were a thousand other things he needed to do today.

“I am gonna start the day,” he said as he poured his champagne into David’s flute. “Big show tonight.” He gave David a kiss before climbing out of bed.

“Good luck, honey!” David said cheerily.

“It’s ‘break a leg’,” Patrick reminded him for what felt like the thousandth time. Superstition coursed through Patrick’s veins. He was a theater kid and a baseball player; two activities that could not possibly be more superstitious. And as the son of a soap star mom and a baseball-loving dad, Patrick thought David would have had those superstitions ingrained in him.

“But I don’t want you to break a leg,” David argued as Patrick arranged his outfit for the day and got dressed. “You very nearly broke your foot yesterday, so I think that’s just adding insult to injury.”

Patrick rolled his eyes.

“Okay, I didn’t nearly break my foot. I nearly punctured it which is not the same thing.”

“Explain that to my mother.”

“The ‘leg’ in question is not an actor’s leg, but the curtain legs—”

“Curtains don’t have legs.”

Patrick took another deep breath as he pulled on his undershirt. They’d had this exact conversation about a week prior. It had been a standard conversation in which  David hadn’t known something, and while Patrick was used to having those conversations a few times, the added nerves of tonight were not making this as fun as usual.

“It’s a theatre term, David—”

“Why would you call curtains legs? Legs to what?”

“It’s just what they’re called.”

“But why ‘leg’? Why not ‘sides’?”

“Because ‘sides’ are something completely different.”

David huffed and slumped into the pillows.

“Theatre makes absolutely no sense,” he relented.

Patrick finished buttoning his jeans before he leaned on the bed to look at David.

“I can explain it better later,” he said. “But can you say ‘break a leg’ for me today? Just to, I don’t know…”

David smiled.

“Break a leg,” he said tenderly, placing a hand on Patrick’s cheek. “Even though I don’t know what that means.”

It was Patrick’s turn to smile. He leaned forward and kissed David.

“Thank you,” he said. “See you at the theatre?”

“Of course.” 

With that, Patrick left his fiancé – fiancé! – in bed and hustled out the door.


The day saw Patrick at dance rehearsal with some of the other dancers. Try as he might, he still felt off during the big opening number. It would be the audience’s introduction to the show and his time to shine as the Emcee. Natasha, Leora, and Hannah had offered to run through the choreography with him on the stage, of which he was eternally grateful. He wished Stevie was available since she wasn’t the best dancer in the cast either, but she had to work the front desk at the motel.

Hours flew by, and in the dark theater, it was impossible to know what time it was without checking a clock. Only when Jocelyn entered carrying a stack of pizzas did the actors know it was dinnertime.

After dinner, the actors moved into the dressing rooms to get ready. Patrick claimed his corner and slowly began the process of changing into wardrobe. Unlike previous shows he’d been in, his costume and make-up weren’t too involved, and he was able to do much of it on his own. It was cathartic to apply foundation and let one of the girls put on his eyeliner. (He’d practiced at home, but all of his attempts made him look like a sad raccoon.)

He made one final swipe with the lipstick before checking himself out in the mirror. This was really happening. Thankfully he didn’t look as nervous as he felt. Guess that was acting, huh?

“Okay, so it may not be the mid-2000s anymore, but in the future, I will need you in eyeliner at least once a week.”

Patrick turned to see his gorgeous fiancé approaching him with a big grin on his face.

“Only if you show me how,” Patrick said with a smirk.

“Of course,” David replied as he draped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders. “Hi.”

“Hi.” Patrick gathered David in his arms and they kissed. It immediately calmed Patrick’s nerves.

“Okay, so don’t be mad, but our engagement announcement has gone completely off the rails,” David said as he gave Patrick’s chest a loving rub. “I know we said we were going to have some sort of a big plan and there was going to be crying?” Patrick nodded. “Well, let’s just say that my family found out because Stevie went missing and the only one crying was me in the shower because the biggest moment of my life so far has been ruined.”

Patrick’s stomach dropped.

“What are you talking about, David?”

“It’s just that I saw her this morning and I told her about the—” He waggled his fingers with his new rings. “After I left yours, I went and bought flowers—”

“You mean after you went to the store and checked for expired products?” He stepped away from David to finish putting his costume on.

David paused, his mouth slightly agape. That, plus the wrinkle in his brow were all the proof Patrick needed that David did not do that.

“Um, yes, after I did that,” he lied. “I bought her this little bouquet of autumnal flowers to congratulate her on opening night, and I told her about the, you know.”

God, Patrick could only imagine Stevie’s face when David told her. She must have had to act her ass off, especially given the fact that he’d asked her for her blessing to propose. He knew asking either Mr. or Mrs. Rose would have resulted in the surprise being blown immediately. If their anniversary gifts were anything to go by, they were the absolute worst at keeping secrets.

“And I didn’t go into detail or anything! She just punched me and started crying because she was so happy for me—”

“David,” Patrick interrupted. “You said Stevie went missing.”

“Okay, so I told Stevie and the next thing you know, she is nowhere to be found,” David finally got out. “I just wish this whole engagement announcement hadn’t gotten so out of control. I mean, people are coming up to me that I haven’t even spoken to yet.”

Stevie was missing.

If there was ever a time to panic, it would have been now. But while he wished someone would’ve told him one of his best friends was missing, he was glad he hadn’t had the chance to worry about it all day and make his nerves worse.

Jocelyn hurried into the dressing room and right up to them.

“Gentlemen, major show drama aside, I just wanted to say congratulations to the future Mister and Mister,” she smiled through all the stress. “Or is it ‘Misters?’”

David lightly smacked him on the shoulder.

“See?” he asked. “Now Jocelyn, how did you find out?”

“Oh, from Moira… Maybe Alexis… Possibly Gwen.”

“Thanks, Jocelyn, but I’m actually a little more concerned about the show at the moment.” God, Patrick didn’t care about who knew what about the engagement. The lead actress for their show that was opening in half an hour was missing. He gave David a look, who seemed to understand that their engagement wasn’t top priority at the current juncture.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “Moira says she has a plan.”

“Oh, does she?” Patrick muttered under his breath. It was bound to be something outlandish and…

Just then, Moira hustled into the dressing room dressed exactly like Sally Bowles.

Oh, dear god.

“Oh God, David!” she exclaimed as she opened her bags and started to pull things out. “No, no, no, no, David, I’m sorry. No, just performers backstage from here on.”

“Mrs. Rose, are you—are you a performer at this point?” Patrick asked nervously. They had hired a choreographer for a reason and that reason was about to understudy the biggest role in the show without any rehearsal.

“Unfortunately, I have no choice. So, I’m going to shimmy off the rust, and pray there’s still dazzle within.”

Just then, Stevie burst through the door, dressed in her opening number negligee and Chucks, looking rushed and out of breath. The knot in Patrick’s stomach loosened. The mild nausea he had begun to feel imagining Mrs. Rose stepping in for her had dissipated.

“Sorry, sorry,” she said as she came in.

“Stevie, what the fuck?!” Moira gasped.

“Mrs. Rose?” Stevie questioned as she eyed Moira’s costume with confusion.

“Stevie!” Jocelyn cried out, her voice loud in the small dressing room. “Thank God you’re here! Okay, everybody, vocal warm-up in the green room!” She gestured for everyone to follow.

That was his cue.

“Bye,” Patrick said before leaning in to kiss David.

“Bye. Good luck,” David replied.

Patrick left the room with the others for the vocal warm-ups in the other room. He could faintly hear the conversation.

“Mrs. Rose, I’m sorry. I had an errand to run, and I got stuck in traffic on the way back.”

“Yeah, I’ve been calling you all day.”

“I know, you told me to block everyone out today—”

The piano began to play and everyone started singing, drowning out the rest of the conversation in the dressing room.

Eventually Moira came out to join them in the warm-ups, while Stevie and David stayed in the dressing room for a while. Patrick wondered what they were talking about, and why she was so late.

They were partway through warming up when Jocelyn ducked out and quickly reemerged from the dressing room with Stevie following close behind.

Stevie assumed her place next to Patrick and gave him a hard nudge with her elbow as she sang. She was smiling proudly, but her eyes were definitely saying that they needed to talk.

Once Moira and Jocelyn released them, some of the cast headed back to the dressing room to finish putting the final touches on their costumes. Or, in Stevie’s case, nearly all of her costume. It still didn’t keep her from punching Patrick hard in the arm.

“Ow! What was that for?!” he exclaimed, rubbing his sore bicep.

“Well, someone didn’t tell me when he was going to propose to another certain someone,” Stevie explained as she took off her street clothes. “So I had to rush to pick up David’s engagement gift from freaking Elmdale.”

“You know you didn’t have to do that today,” Patrick reminded her.

“Okay, I was surprised! And I originally wanted to have the towels ready for when he told me since I know you two are going to be moving in together as soon as humanly possible,” she explained. “The number of times I’ve heard David talk about moving in with you is endearing but also incredibly annoying.”

It warmed Patrick’s heart to know that David was as excited to live together as he was.

“And, I don’t know, it’s a big deal, and I’m kind of his best friend and I’ve never had someone to do this for.” Patrick heard a slight quiver in her voice. She didn’t look up at him as she dug through her make-up bag.

He took a step closer and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Thank you for taking care of David for all these years,” he said softly. “You’re a really good friend, Stevie.”

She sniffed loudly before slowly turning to hug him, her cheek pressed against his sternum. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. They stayed like that for a moment; it felt really good to have the blessing and support of probably the other most important person in David’s life. And of course Stevie was important to him, too. She was the second friend he’d made in Schitt’s Creek. Living in such a small town, they’d gotten to know each other with and without David there, and it was nice to have someone who he could relate to when David couldn’t. (There was no way David was going to participate in their weekly craft beer night.)

“Love you, Stevie,” he murmured, his lips brushing her smooth dark hair.

“Love you, too,” she mumbled in return.

She sniffed again as she pulled back.

“You’re going to make me cry and I’m pretty sure Mrs. Rose will be able to tell,” she said, wiping her eyes.

Patrick smiled.

“I’ll leave you to get the rest of your costume together,” he said as he grabbed his jacket off the hanger.

“Thank you,” she said. “Finally someone leaves me alone.”

Patrick sniggered as he walked out of the room and toward the backstage. He bounced on his toes, stretched, mumbled his lines to himself – really doing anything to calm the nerves he was feeling. Their last dress rehearsal had gone very well, so if they maintained that energy, the show was going to go spectacularly well.

“Places! Places!” the assistant stage manager said in a hushed voice as she meandered through the crowd of actors.

“Oh, places, everyone!” Moira exclaimed. As the actors all filed past her, she said words of encouragement to each of them. “Have fun! Break a leg! Don’t let the spotlight get in your eye!”

Tucked behind the set with the Kit Kat Klub dancers listening to the overture, Patrick took a second to close his eyes and take a deep breath before the music began. His mind flickered to David, who he knew was not the biggest fan of musicals, sitting in the audience waiting to see his new fiancé perform. A small smile grew on his lips as he mulled that word over again. Fiancé. His partner for life. The man he was going to grow old with.

Yes, Patrick was performing for the entire audience, but he knew he was really only performing for David.

A thin pair of arms encircled his waist from behind and gave him a tight squeeze, shaking him out of his reverie.

“Break a leg, Herr Brewer,” Stevie said in a bad thick German accent. He chuckled.

“Break a leg, Fraulein Budd,” he replied in his only marginally better German accent.

She scurried away to her entrance.

The music cue neared. Patrick took one more deep breath. It was showtime.


And just like that, the show was over. Patrick took the hands of his castmates as they took another bow under the hot lights, the audience up on their feet applauding and cheering. He saw David in the house, standing with everyone else, a big smile on his face. This was what he’d been missing. Everything was finally in place. Everything was perfect.

Once they got to the dressing room, Patrick changed as quickly as he could. He hung his costume up with the others and did a very cursory wipe of his face, leaving behind remnants of his eyeliner that he figured he could address later. All he wanted now was to see his fiancé.

Some of the other cast members had already exited into the lobby where their many adoring fans were still cheering and clapping, giving bouquets of flowers and big congratulatory hugs. When he finally rounded the corner, there was a big swell in the cheering as everyone saw him. He couldn’t help but smile. It was the chaser to the performance high.

David emerged from a cluster of people, a big bouquet of roses in his hand. He was beaming and his eyes were wet.

“Oh, you were so good!” David congratulated him as he drew him in for a tight hug. He pressed his lips against Patrick’s ear and murmured, “I’m so proud of you.”

“Thank you,” he replied softly.

David drew back to lay a very firm kiss on his lips before pulling back even further to bring his hands back around to Patrick’s front.

“These are for you.” David pressed the bouquet of red roses gently against Patrick’s chest, the plastic crinkling quietly. “I would’ve thrown them onto the stage at curtain call, but we all know they would’ve hit some poor woman two rows ahead of me.”

Patrick laughed.

“Well, I appreciate the thought nonetheless,” he said with a bright smile.

“Also, this only confirms my suspicions,” David said cryptically. “Your eyeliner is really doing something for me. We may have to buy some on the way home.”

Patrick laughed again as he felt his cheeks get warm. He loved it when David hit on him so openly.

There was a huge eruption of cheers behind him; Stevie bashfully waved at the crowd before getting swept into several big hugs. They watched as she moved down the receiving line, her arms becoming more laden with flowers every meter.

“She was so good,” David said earnestly. “Who knew she had it in her?”

“Your mom, evidently,” Patrick replied.

“Please don’t tell her I said this because otherwise I’ll never hear the end of it, but she’s usually right about these things,” he said.

Patrick grinned. After spending a significant amount of time with Moira in a creative capacity, he saw what David was referring to. She was truly very talented and quite a good director, if the musical was any indication.

Finally, Stevie made it to them. By this point, she was carrying at least five bouquets of flowers and two teddy bears. She smiled brighter than Patrick had ever seen.

“Oh my god!” David exclaimed. “You were incredible!” It surprised him to see David sweep her into a big hug. Physical affection had never been a cornerstone of their friendship, so it delighted him to see David be so loving toward his best friend.

“Thank you so much!” she replied as she hugged him back with one arm, the other cradling her bounty. Once they pulled back, she asked, “So did we make another musical theater convert?”

“Um, let’s just say I like what I saw and would possibly be open to seeing another,” David answered. “...provided one or both of you are performing.” He turned to Patrick sharply. “I stop at seeing you in CATS. You’re on your own with that one.”

Patrick smiled and held his hands up in surrender.

“Noted.”

Ted and Alexis approached them, hand in hand, Alexis carrying a bouquet of flowers herself.

“Hey buddy! Great job up there!” Ted said as he reached out to shake Patrick’s hand.

“Thank you so much!” Patrick replied. Ted was impossible to hate; his cheerfulness was infectious.

“And Stevie!” he said, turning to her. “When you were done singing your big solo, I had literal chills. David can testify.” All eyes turned to David.

“He made me touch his arm,” David grimaced. “It was as bizarre as you’d expect.

“See you back at the motel for the cast party?” Alexis asked them.

“Of course.”

“Wouldn’t miss it.”

“I live there, I don’t have much of a choice.”

Alexis gave them a little wave as the two of them exited the building.

“Shall we go as well?” David asked him. He gently hooked his arm in Patrick’s and cuddled up to his side. He loved it when David got like this, all flirty and smitten. It was a rare look, but it did things for Patrick.

Patrick glanced down at David’s hand gripping his bicep and saw the engagement rings. There was another reason why David was especially giddy tonight.

“I’m ready to go,” Patrick answered. “We’ll see you in a bit, Stevie.”

“Sounds good,” she replied. “I have a few more adoring fans I have to talk to anyway.”

With that, David slid his hand down Patrick’s arm to tangle their fingers together.

“Take me home?” David purred in his ear. Patrick felt heat rise beneath his collar. He hated that people were expecting them at the motel, and that any significant delay would tell everyone exactly what they’d done on the way there.

“Of course,” Patrick said. He kissed David quickly and they exited the theater into the warm summer night.


David and Alexis’s motel room was packed with people. The whole cast was there, as well as many of the townies who had more-or-less invited themselves.

When David and Patrick arrived, the room erupted with cheers. Patrick got pats on the back, handshakes, and hugs from every person he passed. Meanwhile, David was behind him, gently urging him forward to where the champagne was.

Once they had their glasses of bubbly in hand and the next cast member had arrived, they were able to tuck themselves into the corner. Normally Patrick would have been eager to talk to everyone, but right now he wanted to be as alone as possible with his new fiancé. David was continuing his play-by-play of the musical that had started on the drive back to the motel. For a man who said he didn’t like musicals, David was very into the show.

“And I thought it was a little excessive that my mom came out for six bows.”

“Jocelyn got her down from eight.”

“Hm. Impressive.” David paused. “I’m going to make the announcement.”

“Here? Now?” Patrick asked. David placed a gentle hand on his chest.

“Yes, because then there is less of a chance of other people telling them I’m engaged--”

“-- we’re engaged--” David’s face softened.

“...yes, we’re engaged.” He leaned forward to peck Patrick on the lips.

Over the din, they heard Alexis. She was standing in front of Ted who had his coat on already.

“Excuse me everybody!” she said. “Um, it’s time for Ted to… Galapa-go now.”

Patrick chuckled at the pun while David rolled his eyes.

“I love you so much,” Ted said. He kissed Alexis, then turned to the crowd. “Okay, great show everyone! Bye!”

The room wished Ted well in response before he left.

“Can you help me up?” David asked Patrick, putting a hand on his shoulder. Patrick dutifully assisted his fiancé up onto the chair. 

“Thank you so much. Hi, everyone! Hi!” David clinked his engagement rings against his champagne flute, getting the room’s attention. “I just, first and foremost, wanna say a big congratulations to Team Cabaret.”

The room erupted in claps and cheers.

“The show was awesome, you guys were so, so good,” he emoted genuinely. “Speaking of love…” He slowly turned to Patrick.

“Somebody got engaged!” Roland said loudly from the loveseat, acting like someone else said it.

“Wow,” David said, burying his annoyance as best he could. “Speaking of love, um, I’m so glad that you’re all here, because Patrick and I have some very special news.” He kept glancing down to Patrick with the warmest smile. Patrick thought he was going to be mildly embarrassed about this, but the warmth in his chest was proving differently.

“You’re getting married!” Jocelyn exclaimed from beside Roland.

“Jocelyn! I’m the one on the chair!” David scolded her as nicely as he could. He turned back to the crowd. “Now, two years ago, I went to fill out some paperwork for a business license, and little did I know, that I would end up meeting the love of my--”

A loud phone ring cut through David’s speech.

“God!” David snapped. Patrick knew his patience wasn’t going to last long.

“Oh, it is me,” Moira said, checking her phone. “Um, I’m sorry, David. Sorry, it’s most likely press. I-I already know your engagement news.” She hurriedly ducked into her adjoined room as she blew kisses to her son.

“So wait a minute,” Ronnie said smirking. She loosely pointed at Patrick. “He’s marrying you?”

“Okay, this shouldn’t be so hard!” David said, frustrated.

“Oh my God, just spit it out, David!” Alexis shouted from across the room.

“Oh my God, fine!” David replied. He took a second to regain his composure lost through all the interruptions. “I met someone who changed my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without him.” He looked down to Patrick again, his face so happy and in love. He turned back to the audience. “So yes, as we all know now, Patrick and I are engaged.”

Patrick didn’t know hearing those words come out of David’s mouth would make his heart flutter. In his first engagement, he’d felt a pang of guilt every time someone would congratulate him. With David, he wanted to shout it from the rooftop. David standing on a chair would have to do for now.

The room broke out into applause for them. It was short-lived as a scream erupted from the room next door.

“No! Nooooooo!” Moira shrieked. “Noooooo!

The partygoers rushed into Johnny and Moira’s room to find Moira sprawled dramatically on the floor. Patrick had never seen her so defeated.

“If it’s a bad review, Moira, I wouldn’t trust local critics,” Johnny comforted her.

“No,” she said sadly. “No, they uh, they shelved the “Crows” movie.” She let in a shuddering breath. “So it’s-it’s over. It’s over.” She broke down sobbing. Then, the whole party watched her crawl across the floor and into the closet where she shut the door. Her wailing and crying effectively ruined any positive mood anyone could’ve had.

Johnny turned to the crowd, saying as he ushered them back into the other room, “Nothing to see here, people. The party’s over.”

“Okay. Yeah, you can leave your champagne flutes,” David added. He turned to Patrick. “Unless we still wanna do a toast?”

Sometimes David was absolutely unbelievable.

“No,” Patrick chided softly.

“Oh, no?” David replied, as if he sincerely thought a toast was a good idea. “Okay, everyone leave the champagne flutes, thank you.”

Another harsh sob came from the closet. This was rough to watch, especially after how exuberant she’d been backstage during the whole performance.

“Mom? Are you okay in there?” Alexis asked, creeping closer to the closet like she was approaching a skittish animal.

“Alexis, let’s leave your mother in there for a bit,” Johnny said. He took her gently by the shoulders and guided her into the room with the others.

“This is getting sad in here,” David murmured under his breath as they followed Johnny and Alexis into the other room. 

“Getting?” Patrick asked incredulously.

“Okay, it’s extremely sad,” David amended.

Most of the guests had decided to file out as the vibe had effectively been killed. Stevie was dutifully saying goodbye to the attendees as they exited and thanking them for seeing the show. Patrick could see on her face that witnessing Moira have that meltdown had shaken her.

“I can’t believe our engagement was so ignored and upstaged tonight,” David said over his champagne flute before taking a sip.

Patrick felt so bad. David had waited all day to tell people about their engagement, waited until after the show was over so his mother could have her day. But then he told his family, who then told Roland, who then told Jocelyn, who then told Ted, and by the time it was David’s turn to tell everyone, he didn’t even get a chance to do that himself either. 

The announcement was supposed to be something simple. Patrick was going to watch David proudly show everyone his engagement rings and tell them all about the proposal itself, and probably give outlandish answers to wedding questions. Instead, he was watching David deflate inwards. 

“Hey,” Patrick said as he wrapped his arms around David’s waist to pull him close. “We will have a proper engagement party where we can be the designated center of attention.” David gave him a weak smile. “But right now I think it’s important that we take care of your mother.” He rubbed David’s lower back where he could feel plenty of tension. 

“I guess,” David grumbled. He let out a long sigh before turning to Patrick. “Can I stay with you tonight?”

“As enticing as that sounds,” Patrick began. “I think it might be more important for you to stay here.”

“You’re probably right,” he said quietly. He glanced back toward his mom and dad’s room where another wail ripped through the growing stillness of the motel rooms.

Patrick hugged him closer and looked him in the eye. “We will have the rest of our lives to spend together. One night is nothing.”

David’s eyes softened, then he leaned forward and kissed Patrick tenderly.

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” Patrick replied.

“Can, um, can you stay for a bit, though?” David asked, his voice small and vulnerable. “I’d really appreciate it if you were here.”

“Of course. Anything for you.”

Chapter Text

“I have to warn you, my dad will have a lot of opinions and you should listen to exactly none of them,” David said as they pulled up to the motel. “The venue should match our energy, not his stuffy, buttoned-up businessman attitude.”

“I’m going to pretend like that doesn’t also apply to me,” Patrick replied dryly.

“Oh, it doesn’t,” David quickly amended, albeit not as believably as Patrick wished.

According to David’s wedding planning binder, they needed to look at wedding venues ASAP so “they would know the canvas they’d be painting”. Patrick didn’t understand it. he thought there was plenty they could do prior to selecting a venue, but David thought otherwise.

It probably didn’t help that David had all but bullied Patrick into giving him nearly complete control over their wedding planning. On the one hand, Patrick was disappointed that he wasn’t going to have a ton of input on the wedding he was actually excited to have. On the other, he didn’t want to fight with David. They seldom fought – something they both were very proud of – but when they did, it was over aesthetics at the store. Patrick was fine entering that arena as he could always make the business argument, but wedding planning? That was David’s turf. Patrick would lose every time.

They climbed out of the car and entered David and Alexis’s room. It looked like a bomb had gone off, but strictly on Alexis’s side. Her suitcases were poorly packed, clothes hanging out of them, and strewn about the floor. Amongst them was Alexis, sitting on top of one while she attempted to zipper it shut.

“Close, you stupid thing!” Alexis scolded the suitcase.

“Oh my god,” David cringed as he took in the state of their room. “I’m gone for one night and it’s like Frankie Muniz in the Hugo Boss dressing room all over again.”

Alexis grunted loudly.

“Hey, Alexis,” Patrick called out. She whipped around, a feral look in her eyes. “Would you like any help with that?”

“Um, thank you, Patrick, but I think I have it under control,” she said, frustration laced between every word.

David turned to Patrick and said in an undertone, “I forgot to warn you: Alexis’s packing abilities are possibly one of her ten worst traits.”

“I can hear you, David!” she snapped. “And my packing abilities are fine!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, how many times did I have to pack your suitcase for all your little trips around the world?” David sassed back. “Who always remembered to pack you a headscarf for your vacations to Saudi Arabia? Who sent you your parka after you landed in Finland for the prince’s wedding?”

Alexis let out another frustrated grunt as she made another attempt to close her suitcase.

“Are you sure you don’t want any help with that?” Patrick asked.

“I fit my high school best friend into a suitcase way smaller than this when we were crossing the border between Laos and Vietnam, so I’m pretty sure I can figure this out,” she replied. “Ooh, I can’t wait to get to the Galapagos and like, breathe the sea air and get my—“

“Beach curls back. Yeah, you’ve mentioned that a couple times,” David said bitterly. She’d been saying this increasingly over the last few days and Patrick had witnessed David make a strangling motion behind her back on more than one occasion.

Johnny entered from the adjoining room.

“Are you still trying to close that thing?” He asked Alexis, who replied with another anguished noise. Johnny turned to them. “Boys, it looks like I won’t be able to see that wedding venue with you today. Your mother’s had a bit of a relapse.”

That was hard to hear. Moira had crawled out of the closet a couple days ago to make an appearance at the Wednesday show of Cabaret. She hadn’t looked like she had spent four days in a closet. But the minute someone had asked her how she was doing, she broke down crying again and Alexis had had the bad fortune of having to drive her home. She’d been in there since.

“Take it the ‘Crows’ move is still shelved,” Patrick said, concerned.

“I’m sorry,” Alexis butted in from the floor. “We’ve started looking at wedding venues and no one chose to tell me?”

“Touring a wedding venue is an incredibly intimate thing and we wanted to keep it small,” David lied. When they’d discussed who they wanted to bring on the tour, David had specifically noted that he didn’t want Alexis there because, as he put it, ‘she would suggest we got married on a zip line, Patrick’ and ‘she will still manage to make it about her’.

“You invited Dad,” she accurately pointed out.

“Okay, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, Alexis,” Johnny said.

Then, from the other room: “John! Something’s happening!”

“Coming, Moira!” He answered. Then, to the rest of them, “Don’t make any sudden moves.”

Patrick took a step toward the door, but was stopped by David.

“Okay, you should probably stay here,” he said. Patrick disagreed and kept moving. This was his future mother-in-law. He should treat her like family. “No, you shouldn’t—“

“Okay,” he replied, not listening.

They entered Johnny and Moira’s room where the closet doors shuddered, then opened to reveal Moira in a big white wig. She’d at least left the closet once a day to change her wig, Patrick noted.

David, Patrick, Alexis, and Johnny approached the closet like a trappers approaching a wild animal. David crowded up next to him, standing very close.

“John, remind me to reprimand that latch,” she said. “It’s been awfully moody today.”

“Well, good—good morning, sweetheart,” Johnny said. “Look who’s come to see you.” He gestured to the kids.

“Finally. I’ll have the continental breakfast, with the fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.” There was no recognition in her eyes that she knew who she was talking to.

Johnny chuckled weakly.

“Orange pekoe tea,” she amended.

“No, Moira,” Johnny corrected her. “Moira, it’s—it’s David and Patrick.”

This was so awkward. Patrick was certain his discomfort was written all over his face.

“Um?!” Alexis interjected. Johnny ignored her.

“Don’t we have something we want to say?” Johnny said to Moira.

“Yes, thank you, John,” she said. “Sadly, I won’t be able to squire you for today’s wedding venue peregrination.”

“You invited Mom?!” Alexis snapped. “She’s literally been asleep in a closet for a week.”

Patrick had warned David that they should at least extend the invitation to Alexis even if she couldn’t go. This was not working out well. The guilt of not inviting her was gnawing at his stomach.

“Just know that missing this will be the heavy-hearted part of my day,” Moira added.

“Okay, does nobody care that I’m going to be gone for six months?” Alexis asked of the room.

“Yes, of course we care, honey,” Johnny answered, finally acknowledging her. “Don’t we, Moira?”

“Take me with you,” Moira said desperately, reaching out for Alexis.

“Okay, on that note,” David said as he took Patrick by the shoulders. “I think we should get you out of the room.”

Patrick had to say something to Alexis before they left the room. He would be miserable knowing she wanted to go – and could go! – but ultimately wasn’t invited when now they had space in the car for her.

“Alexis, you are more than welcome to come see the place with us,” he offered kindly. He could feel David bristling behind him. That would be a conversation for later.

Alexis softened.

“Thank you,” she said with a small smile. “That actually works out super well for me because you guys can just drive me straight to the airport after.”

She brought her finger up and booped Patrick twice on the nose, just like she did to annoy David. Patrick found it funny when she did it to David, but now that he was experiencing it first-hand, he found that he did not care for it. She disappeared into the adjacent room.

“See what you’ve done there?” David asked him pointedly.

“Yeah.” He now realized his mistake. He needed to trust David on his family.

“Mhm,” David hummed. “Out. Out, out, out.” He ushered Patrick quickly out of the room, away from his depressing mother.

Back in David and Alexis’s room, Alexis was in much better spirits as she fought with her suitcases again.

“This should only be a minute,” she said.

David led Patrick over to his bed and patted the blanket for him to sit.

“This is going to be a while,” David whispered.

“I can hear you!”


Once the suitcases that didn’t fit in the trunk were safely strapped to the roof, they picked  Stevie up at her apartment since it was on their way. They also knew she’d had a late night at the wrap party and likely needed a bit more shut-eye. She was, as David phrased it, “one disgruntled husband away from becoming Natalie Wood”. 

The drive to Elmbridge Manor was filled with David happily reading, off his phone, different facts about the property, to Alexis and Stevie. Since the engagement, it was hard to think of a conversation where David was truly unhappy. The pending wedding and marriage filled both of them with so much joy, both thrilled to be marrying the other. David was obviously much more excited about being able to plan his own wedding as opposed to someone else’s, something he’d apparently resigned himself to back in New York. Patrick, on the other hand, didn’t really care as much about the details so long as the day ended with both of them saying “I do” in front of their friends and family.

Patrick reached across the console and took David’s hand, threading their fingers together. God, those rings against his skin would never get old. That action earned him a bright smile from David.

“This is it,” David said as they approached a large wrought-iron gate. “Ooh, I’m so excited!”

Patrick followed an old stone wall, down the long driveway until it opened up to a large plaza. The mansion loomed over them, its enormous size and intricate beauty overwhelming. It was hard to believe something like this was tucked away so far from the road. It was just as gorgeous in person as it was in the photos.

He parked the car and they all climbed out of the vehicle.

“Wow,” Patrick said, finally able to fully take it in, now that he wasn’t driving. “This place looks nice.”

“Yeah, it’s the only venue for miles that doesn’t look like a crime scene from a missing person docu-series,” David mentioned as he came around the car.

“Uh, so no one thought to tell me I still have my show makeup on?” Stevie asked.

“I thought that was a choice,” David replied. They’d all noticed but had apparently made a silent pact not to mention it.

“Yeah, I left Stevie double-fisting drinks in a hot tub at the Cabaret wrap party last night,” Alexis said with a smirk.

“I think I saw you triple-fisting at one point,” Patrick added. It had been quite impressive; she’d had a red solo cup with jungle juice in one hand and two beer bottles in the other, actively drinking from all three. He was less surprised by her tenacity and more surprised her small hands could hold that much.

The big door swung open and a bespectacled man in a plaid suit appeared carrying a tray of champagne flutes.

“Ah, welcome to Elmbridge Manor,” the man said. David hummed next to him, practically buzzing with excitement. The man turned to Patrick and Stevie. “And you must be the happy couple.”

Was he assuming he and Stevie were getting married?

“Oh, no. Not quite,” Patrick corrected.

“God, no,” Stevie said at the same time. Patrick took minor offense at the clear repulsion in her voice.

The man was surprised. He then turned to Stevie and Alexis.

“Oh, ladies, I’m so sorry,” he said. “Congratulations. Champagne?”

Without hesitating, each woman took a flute.

"Oh, thank you so much.”

“Thank you.”

“Mhm, hi!” David said, uncomfortably laughing. “David Rose. I’m the one getting married, and this is my partner, Patrick.” Patrick gave a little wave.

“Hi.”

“So.” Now that he’d proven his point, David took a champagne flute.

“Gentlemen, please forgive me,” the man said. “I looked at your friend’s face and thought someone had just come from her makeup trial. Now, if our grooms and the, uh…” He paused, looking Stevie and Alexis over. “…other couple—“ Stevie and Alexis both grimaced. “—would like to follow me, I will begin our tour.”

“Wonderful,” David said, following the man like an excitable puppy. Alexis joined her brother while Patrick and Stevie brought up the rear.

“You look great,” Patrick joked with Stevie. She shot him a look.

“I had a really rough night last night,” she said. “The show was ending and I really didn’t want it to, so can you blame me for wanting to spend the wrap party going all out?”

“No, not at all. I’m just surprised you didn’t look in the mirror before we picked you up.”

“Why would I?” Patrick chuckled. He loved this woman so much.

“Never change, Stevie.”

They walked through the front doors of the mansion and Patrick was blown away by the sheer size of it all. The vaulted ceilings, the enormous paintings on the walls, the intricately carved wood… Their tour guide, Clive, was giving them the history of the building and while normally Patrick would be completely fascinated, his mind wandered elsewhere.

He couldn’t help but wonder how this manor compared to the Roses’ old house. Had it felt this big and cavernous? There were plenty of things here, but it still felt empty, like no amount of furniture would ever fill it. That was a good thing for a wedding venue where there would be guests milling about, but not a home. He’d seen pictures from David’s past so he knew what the house looked like, yet before today he’d had a hard time imagining what it actually felt like to be in a house of that size.

“Now, these panels are completely movable, should we decide to have the reception indoors…” Clive said as he moved a large piece of wall in the grand ballroom that looked like it shouldn’t move at all.

“We’re definitely doing the reception indoors,” David told him. “I have a whole table setting that requires there to be very little wind.”

“Of course,” Clive said, nodding understandingly. He’d likely heard thousands of outlandish wedding ideas, especially in such a fancy place that was so affordable. “Moving on to the grounds…”

Patrick lingered a bit longer in the grand ballroom, taking in the vastness. He tried to imagine what it would be like for him and David to live in a place like this. His stomach knotted. He didn’t like the idea that he and David could be in the same home, yet so far apart. He’d rather spend the rest of their lives in his small studio apartment even if it meant they’d be on top of each other because then at least he’d always get to see David.

A thin arm looped with his. He looked down from staring at the ceiling to see Alexis standing next to him.

“Our ballroom was bigger than this,” she told him with a smirk.

“Oh yeah?” He couldn’t imagine a room in a home much bigger than this one.

“And we had a lot more furniture.”

Patrick led Alexis toward the door to follow the other three. They didn’t need to get lost today either.

“I mean, that makes sense since you lived there and this is mostly for events.”

“Well, Mom and Dad lived there. David was in New York in his 3,000 square foot penthouse and I was on trips all the time it was hard to call it home,” she said, though somewhat sadly. “Honestly, I think it was too big.” She stared into the distance. Something was triggering a memory and Patrick wasn’t going to push.

“Compared to two motel rooms, yeah, I’d say anything was too big,” Patrick said wryly, trying to lighten the mood. It seemed to work as she gave him a big goofy grin.

“The motel room is giant compared to the pictures of the cabin Ted sent me from the Galapagos,” she said proudly.

Clive led them through the gardens along the side of the mansion. The flowers were blooming and were utterly gorgeous. When he and David finally get a house of their own, Patrick really wants a garden. He wants to grow vegetables and flowers that they can sell in the store as well as eat and decorate with at home.

There was so much he was looking forward to doing with his future husband. There was a whole life waiting for them.

“All of our catering is provided by the neighboring farm. We have fresh cheese, breads, meats,” Clive said as they walked along a path toward the very back of the mansion. “Oh, now I do apologize if the peonies back there were a little overwhelming, it rained last night and they just bloomed.” He brought them up the steps to look out over the back garden.

It was breathtaking. 

The garden seemed to go on forever, the rolling green grass folding into trees in the distance. A large fountain was centerstage, water splashing lightly in the warm summer air. It was tranquil and beautiful, and now Patrick understood why David refused to show him pictures of this. The surprise was worth it.

“It’s perfect,” David said next to him.

“David, I know you’ve made me relinquish most, if not all, of the wedding planning to you at this point,” Patrick said. “But for what it’s worth, this place is beautiful.”

“I think this is it,” David agreed. He was literally bouncing with joy. “I think this is it, guys!”

“See, David? Imagine if I wasn’t here for this moment,” Alexis reminded him.

“Mhm, okay, glad you’re here,” David said dismissively.

“So, do we have a winner?” Clive asked.

David looked over to Patrick. He could feel the joy emanating off his body.

“If you’re happy, I’m happy,” Patrick told him earnestly.

David started to dance happily in place, something Patrick had never seen him do before.

“We have a winner, Clive!” he exclaimed.

“Yes!” Clive said, clapping his hands together. “Let’s head inside so we can discuss financials and dates.”

Clive headed toward the door, with Alexis and Stevie following close behind. David and Patrick lingered for a moment. Patrick instinctually gravitated toward David, putting a hand on the small of his back.

“We’re going to get married here,” Patrick said, still in disbelief.

“We are,” David replied with a big grin.

Patrick leaned his head back and was met with a loving kiss on the lips. It was going to be perfect.

“Are you two coming? ‘Cause I’m not paying for this,” Stevie called out to them from the door.

“Coming!” David replied.

They quickly joined the others inside. Clive directed them to take a seat in a large study while he retrieved the paperwork from his office. He also invited them to eat from a small tray of food, something David and Stevie were immediately interested in.

Alexis sat down in the chair across from David and Patrick, her phone out to take a picture.

“Okay, smiles over here, please!” she said, trying to direct the three of them. “Ted wants to know what we’re doing.” David and Patrick uncomfortably smiled for the camera while Stevie, standing next to David, leaned in. “Okay, like, a little less eager and maybe one without Stevie. No offense.”

She didn’t get a photo before David cut her off.

“Alright, Alexis,” he said. “Could you put the phone down? You’re gonna be spending six months with Ted. I think the two of you can chill for a minute.”

Pricing guides in hand, Clive hustled back to the group. He sat down beside Alexis and slid the folder across the table to David and Patrick.

“Okay, this is our pricing guide,” he told them. “Starting with our gold, silver, and bronze packages…”

Clive had probably continued speaking, but Patrick’s brain had had a meltdown when he saw the prices. The least expensive package – which only included the location and catering up to 50 people – was $60,000. David had never mentioned anything about the prices, but had assured Patrick that it was in their budget. Now Patrick was wondering what David thought their budget actually was.

“Are these in dollars?” Stevie asked, her eyes as wide as saucers. Clive hummed affirmatively.

“Okay, um…” David began, his voice tight with anxiety. “Is there a package lower than the bronze package? Perhaps a copper package?”

Clive laughed.

“No, we can’t accommodate that,” he answered.

Patrick was still stunned. He turned to David and asked in a hushed tone, “Did you not ask to see the prices in advance?”

“They don’t provide—“

“We don’t provide pricing in advance,” Clive interrupted David. He seemed way too satisfied with this turn of events for Patrick’s liking.

“Well, now we know why,” Stevie scoffed.

“This might be the worst day of my life,” David remarked sadly. It hurt Patrick to hear that. Not fifteen minutes ago, David had been radiating joy. He wanted wedding planning to be David’s happy place, he wanted only positive things associated with their impending marriage. Of course, given life and David’s family, that was an impossible task. But Patrick wanted to to try.

“Okay, look,” Clive said. “You’re clearly very desperate and I’m feeling terribly for you.”

“I don’t love the way you phrased that,” David said, discomfort written on his face.

“Now, we did just have a cancellation earlier in the week for a Sunday afternoon.”

Patrick perked up.

“Sundays are good,” he said, glancing at the others, conferring that indeed Sundays were good. Even if they weren’t, he would make anything work so David could be happy again.

“We can work with that,” Stevie chimed in.

“Now, the first Sunday of every month is discounted already and we’re unlikely to find someone else this late in the game. So I would be happy to offer you an additional 30% off,” Clive said with a smile.

David sat up in shock.

“Oh my god!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, but the problem is, it’s a month from today,” Clive warned him.

“This is basically free!”

“David, that’s not enough time,” Patrick told him. “We need to give people notice.” Sure, the price was significantly closer to something that was a bit more reasonable. They’d still have to cut a lot of corners elsewhere, but the timing was a big problem.

“Uh, I planned my ex-girlfriend’s intervention in less than an hour,” David reminded him. (David enjoyed bragging about that intervention. Apparently it was a real party.) "Plus, it’ll weed out all the dead weight.”

“Um…” Alexis finally said. She was staring daggers at David. “I will not be here in one month, so I guess that makes me the dead weight?”

All the air was sucked out of the room. Patrick was sure David hadn’t meant Alexis, and yet he could tell by the look on David’s face that he’d absolutely meant Alexis.

“I’m feeling a little tension,” Clive said, appropriately naming the current situation.

This was hard. He wanted David to have his dream venue, but he didn’t want it to be at Alexis’ expense. There were plenty of other places they could have their wedding where they would have the time to plan, and have everyone they wanted in attendance, and have leftover money to afford many of the other things on David’s never-ending list of wedding requests.

“We’re gonna find another venue, okay?” Patrick said to David. “We can’t get married without Alexis.”

“Why?” David snapped back. “She’s the one who can’t wait to get out of here. I once dated someone who left me for a stuffed animal. I’m not having my big day—”

“Our—” Patrick corrected him.

“Our big day compromised because Alexis wanted to chill in a tankini for six months.”

As much as Patrick disagreed with David, he understood why he was upset. He was always being asked to postpone his wishes and wants for others. He shouldn't have to compromise so much on his wedding day.

Alexis scoffed in shock while Stevie let out a hard exhale. This was a smack in the face.

“Honestly, David, if this is the kind of bride you’re going to be, I’m glad that I’m leaving,” Alexis fought back as she stood up.

“Wha--?” David said defensively.

“And I would never wear a tankini!” With that, Alexis stormed out of the manor.

Stevie reached out and picked up a sandwich from the plate, obviously stress-eating. And if Stevie was stress-eating, David was definitely going to stress-eat too.

“Uh, just so you’re aware, that is housemade bacon from the farm up the road,” Clive informed them as if the tankini conversation never happened.

“Oh, give me this,” David said, tearing the sandwich out of Stevie’s hand and immediately stuffing it in his mouth. The stress-eating had begun.

“Can—is that for everyone?” Stevie asked Clive.

“Oh, please, please,” he replied.

“Oh my God,” David moaned around the sandwich.

This was a predicament. If it weren’t for his steely resolve, Patrick would have been stress-eating too. He rubbed his temples, actively willing away any sort of headache.

David was already on his second sandwich when Patrick asked Clive, “Can you give us a moment to discuss this?”

“Of course,” Clive said with a grin. “Holler if you need me.” With that, he retreated to his office.

“God, these sandwiches are good,” David said under his breath as he picked up another.

Patrick placed his hand on David’s knee, effectively getting his fiancé’s attention. David’s dark eyes turned to him as he continued to chew on his latest sandwich.

“David, I don’t think we can take the venue,” Patrick said as measuredly as he could.

“Why?” David asked sharply. “Because of Alexis?”

He didn’t really want to answer that question, but he had to.

“Yes,” he answered. David groaned. “We have to have her there. She’s your sister. Imagine if she got married without you being there.”

“I’m pretty sure she’s already done that at least twice.”

“Okay…” New tactics. “Imagine if Stevie was getting married and purposely chose a date when you couldn’t be there.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want any dead weight at my wedding,” Stevie said coolly. 

“Except we all know I’d be planning your wedding, so I’d have to be there,” David shot back.

Patrick squeezed his knee to get his attention again.

“David.”

David made another grunt of frustration.

“Why do I always have to change my plans for everyone else?” he asked. “Why can’t I have my dream wedding venue without any problems or hitches?”

“Well, the cost is still a huge problem,” Patrick corrected him. “We won’t be able to do much outside of just renting the venue and ordering catering, and I’ve seen the suits you’ve been bookmarking. Most wedding dresses are cheaper.”

David ground his teeth. He knew Patrick was right.

Stevie chimed in, “And I don’t think Alexis appreciated being called ‘dead weight’.”

David shut his eyes and took a deep breath. Patrick shifted in his seat to be closer to David and took his other hand.

“We can find another venue that is less expensive, gives us more time to plan, and most importantly, book a date when Alexis can be there,” he said calmly.

David gave him another look, this one acknowledging that Patrick was right with an air of sadness.

“Okay,” David said softly, like he was on the verge of tears.

“Hey,” Patrick said. He tried to move even closer to David. “I love you. We’ll find something even better. I promise.”

“Okay,” David answered again.

“And…” Patrick took a deep breath. “I think you need to apologize to Alexis.”

David let out a long groan, tipping his head back and letting the sound echo through the cavernous room.

“You called her ‘dead weight’, David,” Stevie reminded him.

“I know what I called her!”

“I mean, if there’s anyone who should be called ‘dead weight’, it’s you after sex,” she continued dryly.

David held up a finger, silencing them both.

“Can we not do this right now?” He asked sarcastically. “Especially since there are two of you who can answer that question?”

Patrick pursed his lips. Stevie wasn’t necessarily wrong, but he certainly was not going to add fuel to the flames. He patted David’s knee and stood up.

“Alright, let’s head out,” he said. “We still need to get Alexis to the airport.”

David gave one more cursory glance to the snack plate which had been cleared of food by him and Stevie.

“Ugh, fine,” David said, joining him.

As they headed toward the door, Clive caught up with them, emerging from his office.

“Did we come to a decision, gentlemen?”

David gently gripped Patrick’s arm.

“We did, Clive,” he said. “We appreciate the offer, but for reasons wholly unrelated to your property, we’re unable to do it. Thank you, though.”

Clive bid them adieu, then wandered back to the table where they’d been sitting.

“Alright, time to face the music, David,” Patrick said as he gently nudged David toward the door. 

David whipped around to face him and Stevie.

“What if, we did a little fun thing and went around the back and got in the car without her looking?” He asked, clearly trying to get out of this.

“Nope,” Patrick answered bluntly.

“You’re doing this,” Stevie said, shoving him toward the now opened door. 

“Okay! God!” He exclaimed as they pushed him outside.

Alexis was standing next to the car, scrolling through her phone as she was wont to do. She looked up at the sound of David’s voice.

“Well, I guess congratulations are in order?” she asked, bitterness lingering in her voice.

David found a spot on the step and grounded himself, Patrick and Stevie behind him, before telling her, “We didn’t end up taking the venue.”

She still seemed skeptical.

“Really? What stopped you? Did they like, run out of sandwiches, or…?”

“Uh, yes,” David answered truthfully. “But that’s not why. We don’t want to get married without you here, okay?”

“And?” Patrick nudged.

“And, David?” Stevie added expectantly.

Getting David to apologize was challenging enough, but getting him to apologize to Alexis was a whole other story.

“And I didn’t mean to make you feel excluded from the day,” David said. And that would have been great, except he kept talking. “Then again, when all you talk about is how excited you are to get out of here, I don’t really feel like including you in stuff.” 

“David, just say you’re story so we can get your sister to the airport, okay?” He was really testing Patrick’s patience. Perhaps he could hurry it along if he started the car. He walked past David and Alexis to climb into the driver’s seat. He could still hear the awkward conversation.

“Nevertheless…”

“Mhm?”

Patrick turned the key in the ignition. There was a choked sound, then nothing.

“I might have overreacted, and for that, I am apologetic.”

“Wow,” Stevie said incredulously.

Turned it again. Choke, then nothing.

“So, you’re sorry,” Alexis said bluntly.

“I knew there was a reason I came on this trip,” Stevie said.

Choke, then nothing.

“Damnit!” Patrick swore. This was what he got for buying a car battery from Bob.

“What is going on?” David asked.

“Car won’t start,” Patrick answered. He got out of the car. They needed to figure something out fast.

“What?!” Alexis exclaimed. “Well, I can’t be late for my flight!”

“Okay, well, why don’t you go inside and ask Clive for help, then?” David pointedly asked Alexis.

“Because my feet are killing me, David!”

“Oh my God!”

Patrick took a deep breath

“Why don’t we go inside and see if there’s anything Clive can do, okay?” He said rationally as he walked up the steps toward the door.

“Why do I feel like Clive doesn’t handle stress well?” David asked.

“C’mon.” Patrick grabbed David’s forearm and dragged him inside with him. He knew that if he left David outside with Alexis and Stevie, there would be blood.

They walked into the manor and Patrick immediately called out, “Clive!” 

He appeared from a nearby room, surprise written all over his face.

“Oh, hello there,” he said curiously. “I was sure you all had left by now. What can I help you with?”

“Car won’t start,” Patrick told him. “Do you have jumper cables or a portable battery by any chance?”

“Oh, no, I’m so sorry, gentlemen. I don’t drive, I’m afraid. Car horns make me anxious.”

David’s baffled look expressed what Patrick felt inside.

“Okay, um, thank you anyway,” Patrick said, still confused as to why a grown man would be afraid of car horns. “We’re gonna call roadside assistance. Hope it’s okay we’ll be in your driveway for a little while longer.”

“Not a problem, take as long as you need.”

And with that, Clive once again disappeared.

“Okay, I’m going to call roadside assistance,” Patrick said. He was grateful that he had been paying for premium roadside assistance for so many years. Living out in the country had given him plenty of worrying incidents where his car had gotten stuck in a ditch or ran out of gas or got a flat tire. And when he didn’t know how far the next town was, roadside assistance was always there relatively quickly. It was quite impressive.

He called, and within minutes he had an agent giving him bad news.

“They won’t be here for another hour,” he informed David after he hung up.

“An hour?! We have to deal with Alexis for another hour?” David said.

“No, David,” he said. “Well, okay, she’s going to have to get a cab.”

“I hope this is going on your credit card.”

Patrick shot him a look before exiting the manor. Outside, Alexis and Stevie were leaning against the car, waiting for them.

“Okay, roadside assistance isn’t gonna be here for the next hour, so we’re gonna call you a cab,” Patrick told them.

“And Clive doesn’t have jumper cables because he doesn’t drive because he’s scared of car horns,” David added from behind him.

Alexis stepped away from the car and approached David.

“Okay, um, David? I also have something that I would like to say to you as well,” she said with an air of importance.

“Okay?” David said, unsure.

“I am sorry also, for rubbing my trip in your face,” she said, her words stilted. Across the board, the Rose family really weren’t great at apologies. “The truth is, is that I’m really gonna miss you.”

She awkwardly reached out for a hug, pulling her brother into her body. David wrapped his arms around her too.

“Thank you,” David replied, equally as stilted. “I’m going to miss you, as well.” They weren’t very good at open communication, either.

Alexis pulled back.

“And I just feel so bad about standing in the way of your dream wedding,” she continued. Patrick could tell that David was having a hard time processing what she was saying. “But maybe I should just, like, push my trip back by a month.”

“Wow,” Stevie said from behind her, stunned. She was basically speaking for David and Patrick. What was going on?

“Okay,” David said. “I am not having you push your trip back.”

“No, I insist.”

“What’s going on?” David was getting suspicious.

“Nothing, David, just accept your wedding gift.”

“Patrick, call a cab, please,” David said to him.

“‘kay,” Patrick said dutifully, pulling out his phone to find the number for a cab company.

“Okay, no, don’t call a cab!” Alexis blurted out. Patrick stopped. “Ugh, my flight got delayed.”

“Delayed by a month?!” David said.

“This is like watching a car crash,” Stevie said gleefully.

“Ugh!” Alexis grunted.

Without missing a beat, David asked her, “You mixed up the day and the month on your ticket again, didn’t you?”

“No! I… no.”

“Like that time you showed up to Kate Winslet’s wedding a month late.”

“The calligraphy was hard to read and Billy Zane also did the same thing, David.”

“Unbelievable.”

“Okay, well, the upside, is that you guys can now take the place,” Alexis pointed out. “So actually, you’re welcome.”

This was the best news they could’ve received. They could have their cake and eat it too.

“She’s right, David. We could go back and talk to Clive,” Patrick said tenderly to David.

David was back to vibrating with excitement, literally doing a dance similar to Patrick’s cousin’s toddler.

“Do we go back and talk to Clive?!” he asked joyfully.

No sooner had David asked the question than did the sound of loud, blood-curdling squealing rip through the air. It was one of the worst sounds Patrick had ever heard in his life. They all tensed, covering their ears.

“Ew!” Alexis squawked.

“Oh my god!” Patrick said.

“What is that?!” she asked.

“It’s like a thousand babies teething,” David remarked.

“Didn’t he say there was a farm up the road?” Stevie asked.

Just then, Clive popped his head out the front door.

“Uh, that is correct,” he said. “They, uh, process their pork on the first Sunday of every month, hence our discounted rates. Did I hear that the wedding is back on?”

David circled around the car toward the passenger seat.

“Hey, this is not a winner, Clive!” he shouted over the loud squeals.

“Okay, I can’t stop hearing it!” she yelled.

They both climbed into the car while Patrick and Stevie remained outside.

“Patrick, we need to leave!” David said.

“The car won’t start, remember?” he replied.

David let out an anguished cry. Patrick and Stevie joined them in the car and at least rolled up the windows. It was the only time Patrick was happy to have manual windows.

“I can still hear it,” Alexis said. “This is horrible! David, why would you ever want to get married here?”

“I didn’t know about the ritual killings next door, Alexis!”

“Can we turn on some music, or something?” Alexis asked.

“The car is dead, so no,” Stevie reminded her.

For the next 45 minutes, they were forced to sit in the car and listen to the sound of pigs being slaughtered. With every minute that passed, Patrick watched David become more and more disillusioned with the place to the point that, by the time roadside assistance was done jumping their car, he said he never wanted to even think the name Elmbridge Manor again.

As soon as they were on the highway, the tension in the car released as the sound of the slaughterhouse became fainter and fainter until they could only hear the sound in their memories.

After a stretch of silence, David finally said, “You know what, I don’t think I want to get married there.”

Patrick grinned.

“Me neither, David.”


They dropped Stevie off at home before heading back to the motel. As they pulled up, they noticed that Johnny and Moira had set up a small picnic on the table outside. Smoke rose from the grill, and there was a decent spread laid out.

“Is that a barbecue?” David asked as Patrick parked the car.

Patrick initially tensed, as the last time he’d had a barbecue with the Roses, Rachel had shown up. But this time, he’d be spending the barbecue with a different fiancé, one he was marrying out of love, not obligation.

They climbed out of the car and headed toward the food.

“What is this for?” David asked, gesturing to all of it.

“Well, your mother and I had to cut our eventful day short because her movie got picked up by Interflix,” Johnny explained. “And we figured you boys would be hungry and might appreciate a do-over. Plus, I think I’ve really figured out this grill.” He wielded the spatula like a pro, or at least someone who had some idea of what he was doing.

“Alexis, shouldn’t you be off on one of your jetsetting adventures by now?” Moira asked from the table.

“Funny story—“ she began, but was immediately cut off.

“You misread the date on your ticket again, didn’t you,” Johnny said. Alexis grunted in response.

“Why does everyone insist on bringing that up!”

David and Patrick both had to stifle their laughter. She had gotten it pretty good on the car ride back from Stevie, who had asked her to read the dates of things, asking questions like, ‘do you think this is the 26th of the 10th month or the 10th of the 26th month’.

“Well, sweetheart, we know how much you were looking forward to seeing Ted,” Johnny replied.

“Speaking of Ted, I should probably go call him and let him know,” she said, already pulling out her phone. Alexis then disappeared around the corner of the motel for some privacy.

“Boys, come sit!” Moira invited them, patting the table. They did as they were told, sitting on the opposite side of the table from her. A small thrill shot through Patrick as David’s long thigh pressed against his from knee to hip. God, he loved being close to this man.

“So, how was Elmbridge Manor? Did we hear wedding bells?” Moira asked.

“Uh, no,” David answered immediately.

“Quite the opposite,” Patrick added.

“Turns out, we can’t afford to have it on a day when animals aren’t being slaughtered at the farm next door.”

“What?!” Johnny said, his eyebrows shooting up toward his hairline.

“We were lucky enough to learn that it happens every first Sunday of the month, before booking” Patrick said.

“Today’s the first Sunday,” Johnny remarked as he scooped the meat off the grill.

“Yes, yes it is,” David replied. “It sounded like a thousand guinea pigs were being shoved into a wood chipper.”

Johnny thrust the plate of food between them.

“Pork chops?” he offered.

Patrick’s stomach churned.

“Oh, no thank you.”

“I’ll have mine later, thanks.”

“Well, it sounds to me like you two dodged a bacon-wrapped bullet,” Moira said. “I’ll say it again: life is but a strand of happy accidents.”

“You’ve never said that before,” David noted.

“It’s such great news about the film, Mrs. Rose,” Patrick said. “Interflix is huge.”

“Oh, wait til our movie drops!” she said coyly.

David and Patrick both chuckled. Based on what they had heard about the film and knowing Moira’s background, they had privately joked that the movie was likely terrible, but they would put on a good face for David’s mother.

“So, I just talked to Ted,” Alexis said as she trudged back over to the table. “He’s devastated obviously, but he did say that it’s probably for the best because he still hasn’t lizard-proofed his place and I have absolutely no desire to be there until that happens.”

Moira turned to David and Patrick.

“You see? Further proof that life is but a—“

“Okay, we get it,” David said bluntly.

As he sat down, Johnny said, “Well, I, for one, am happy to have you for another month, Alexis.”

“Thank you,” she said happily.

While she may not have said it before, Moira had a point about life being a strand of happy accidents. Had the Roses not lost all of their money, they wouldn’t have been in Schitt’s Creek. Had Patrick not left Rachel and wound up in the first place he could find, he never would have been in Schitt’s Creek either. Had he not taken a job at Ray’s and had David not had a business idea after the general store closed, they never would have met. They wouldn’t be planning a wedding, planning to spend the rest of their lives together. Patrick would never have known what true love could feel like.

He looked out over the backyard of the motel, it was lush and green, as it had rained a few days prior. He had a sudden vision of white chairs all in rows, filled with their friends and families, while he and David gave their vows beneath a canopy. He was overwhelmed by the thought, even more-so than when they were at Elmbridge Manor.

He leaned over to David and asked privately, “Hey, what if we got married here?”

“What if we got married under a highway overpass?” David retorted quickly.

“I’m serious,” Patrick said. “This place means something to you guys. Put a tent in the back, string up some lights. You could make it beautiful.”

David turned to appraise the field and when he came back to Patrick, he had a beautiful glow about him, the compliment having clearly done its job.

“I’ll think about it,” he responded with a small smile.

“Okay,” Patrick said softly.

“Oh, in other news,” Moira announced to the table. “Your father was arrested for indecent exposure.”

“Ew, I’m eating!” Alexis exclaimed.

“Moira,” Johnny warned.

David rubbed Patrick’s shoulder.

“Okay, there’s no backing out now!” He said, chuckling uncomfortably. Patrick laughed. He couldn’t wait to hear this story. Even though David was quite embarrassed about his family, Patrick couldn’t wait to call them his.

Chapter Text

“What is that?”

The bed shifted beside Patrick. It was far too early to get up yet, especially after they’d had a late night out going over wedding details.

(David had presented him with several potential themes on extremely detailed and organized moodboards. Shockingly, in their two years of knowing one another, Patrick had never actually seen one of David’s moodboards. But last night, David had borrowed six easels from city hall, set up his various moodboards in the living room, and done a presentation on each of them. It wasn’t the presentation that had made them stay up so late; it was how horny Patrick had gotten afterwards. It had surprised both of them what David with a pointer stick did for him.)

It was common for David to hear something totally innocuous and believe it to be an intruder, when really it was just the pipes acting strange again. Therefore, he wasn’t going to open his eyes or entertain this mania more than he needed to. In three minutes, he would have David cuddled against him again, feeling comfortable and safe. Patrick had getting David back to sleep down to a science.

“S-something spilled,” David said.

Okay, that was a new one.

“What?” Patrick asked, very confused. He opened his eyes to see David sitting up and feeling the mattress beneath the blanket.

“Something spilled in the bed,” David repeated.

“Okay, well, clean it up!” he replied groggily.

“No, it’s wet. There’s wet in the bed.”

“What?” Patrick sat up more fully to investigate what David was freaking out about.

“Yeah!”

“Well, what did you spill, David?” It would not have been the first time David spilled a drink in  bed.

“I didn’t spill anything!”

“Well, what… are you bleeding?” Patrick was not prepared to take David to the hospital if there was enough blood to make the bed wet.

“What?! No!” David said defensively. He felt around the bed and his lap, then the dawning of realization befell David’s face.

“What is it?” Patrick asked.

“Nothing,” he whispered.

“Is it you? What happened?” He was now somehow even more concerned that David had gone quiet.

“Nothing!” David snapped

Patrick wracked his tired brain for other reasons that the bed could be wet.

Oh.

Oh, David.

“Oh my God, David,” Patrick said endearingly. “Did you wet the bed?”

Then in the littlest voice, David replied, “No.”

Patrick sat up a little further to comfort his fiancé. Instead, David was gathering the comforter toward him and off Patrick.

“I have to go, I have to go,” he said, fleeing the bed, comforter wrapped around the lower half of his body. He looked horribly disheveled and disturbed.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Patrick said as he got out of bed to follow David.

“No, I need to leave.”

“David, calm down, okay? It’s fine.” It was humiliating, sure, but these kind of things happened to people all the time. Bodies were weird and Patrick was certain this would not be the last time something this embarrassing would happen to either of them.

“It’s not fine! Nothing about that is fine!” David argued. “Do we have to file for divorce if we were never married?”

While Patrick knew he was being overly hysterical (something David was wont to do), it still stung to hear the D-word come from David’s mouth.

“We are not getting divorced… yet. I need to see if I can get the stain out of my sheets first,” he joked. He couldn’t help it. He wanted to lighten the mood and make David realize that this was not the worst thing that could happen.

“Okay, does that window open?” David nodded to the window closest to the bathroom. “Because I’m about to jump out of it.”

Okay, joking was the wrong way to go about this.

“David, just get in the shower, I will deal with this. Just let, let me do that for you,” Patrick told him gently. He truly felt bad for David. “And I gotta probably get these sheets in the wash sooner than later.” He gestured back toward the bed where there was much clean-up to be done.

“I will take a shower, but we must never see each other again,” David said dramatically.

“Okay, that sounds like a fair deal,” Patrick replied understandingly. Sometimes, he found that the best thing to do was to go along with David’s dramatics and let him cool himself off.

David backed into the bathroom, still wrapped in the comforter. He started to close the door, but Patrick caught him

“David, I’m going to need the bedspread too, so… just—okay.”

David reluctantly handed him the blanket through the narrowing gap in the door, before he finally slammed it shut.

“I love you,” Patrick called out to him.

“I’m glad one of us does!” David yelled back.

He stood awkwardly outside the bathroom, holding the blanket, when he heard the shower run. He had about twenty minutes before David finished to get everything cleaned up and in the washer. With a deep breath, Patrick dropped the comforter near the couch on his way to the bed.

There it was: in the middle of his expensive mattress (that David had talked him into buying) was a wet spot. There was a part of him that was extremely grossed out. It was something he would have expected if they had children, or an impatient dog, but no, it was his nearly 40-year-old fiancé who had wet the bed.

But this was David. He loved David. And this was what loving someone was about, taking care of them, even through the grossest and most embarrassing moments. He knew that sometime down the road he would be taking care of David again – in sickness and in health, and all that.

So Patrick set to work cleaning it up, gathering all the necessary supplies from around the apartment after doing a quick google search for ‘best methods to clean urine out of mattress’. He was momentarily glad that David was in the shower when he pulled out his yellow rubber cleaning gloves. He could only imagine what David would say, how embarrassed he would be, if he saw them.

He stripped the bed, piled the sheets, comforter, and additional dirty clothes (for good measure) into the basket and made the arduous journey to the basement laundry room. It would be an hour before it could be moved to the dryer, so he had plenty of time to figure out how to clean up.

To Patrick’s surprise, it was actually fairly easy to do. And even more of a surprise, was that they had all the materials. He set to work, blotting the wetness with several old towels, spraying the mattress with diluted white vinegar, then pouring baking soda on top. His mom was right: baking soda and vinegar really did work on just about everything.

“Alright, now I guess we wait,” he mumbled to himself, staring at his mattress with the generous sprinkling of baking soda in the center.

He glanced around the apartment. What should he do next? Doing that had sparked the cleaning bug in him, and while he was a fairly tidy person, there were always some things that could be cleaner.

He hit the closet, shifting things around and effectively creating another foot of space on the rack.

Twenty minutes later – like clockwork – the water shut off and David emerged from the bathroom, towels wrapped around his body and hair.

“How are you feeling?” Patrick asked him.

“I’m feeling a little better,” David said. He walked toward the bed, then stopped in his tracks. The bed was still covered in baking soda and the wet spot was completely obvious.

Patrick rushed over and put his hand on David’s back.

“It’ll be totally clean soon,” he assured him. “We’ll go to work and forget about it, and when we come home, I’ll finish cleaning it.”

David was silent, then said, “I need another shower to wash this shame off.”

And with that, he hightailed it back into the bathroom.

So Patrick was left alone again as the water was turned back on. At least there was plenty more cleaning to be done.

Next was the cabinets, he finally laid down the shelf liner he’d been meaning to do for months. After that, he dusted every surface he could reach. After he moved the laundry to the dryer, he went to work on the baseboards.

Throughout all of this, David had popped in and out, grabbing pieces of clothing, catching sight of the bed, then retreating to the bathroom for another shower. During shower #6, Patrick managed to convince David to let him shower with him, so he could also get clean. He thought he’d successfully talked David into coming out, but David argued that he needed one more  shower to finish washing the shame off his body.

Can’t say he didn’t try.

Once Patrick was dressed for work, he had one last place he wanted to clean: under the bed.

When he’d moved in, they were so pressed for storage that many of his things had just gotten slid underneath and were never seen again. He pulled out unlabeled box after unlabeled box, clearing out the space before he could vacuum. What were even in these things? How did he get so many boxes?

He opened the first one and found random party supplies – likely from his housewarming party – and Halloween decorations. The second was filled with David’s sweaters, vacuum-sealed to protect against any external damage and to fit even more in the box.

The third had some random items his mother had given him when he’d moved in. A wave of mixed emotions came over him. He remembered the moment she’d handed him the box. She’d told him, “These are things a newly single man needs to survive on his own, at least until the next great girl comes around.” At that time, he’d been 99% sure he was going to spend the rest of his life with David, but he’d still been in the closet to his family. Thankfully, they were completely supportive and ultimately, he’d never needed the box, yet it was a sour reminder of the time he’d spent hiding his truth from his parents.

He opened the box. Most of it was things he already had, like a hand steamer, Bar Keeper’s Friend, and a hand-crank flashlight. And buried at the bottom, there was something still left in its original packaging.

“Are you serious?” He couldn’t believe it.

It was a plastic mattress protector.

He didn’t understand why his mom had thought this was important to give him without any prior incidents, but right now, he wasn’t going to question it. Apparently, she knew something he didn’t.

He shoved everything back under the bed. There would be time to deal with it later. He stood up, opening the mattress protector. He should probably let the bed continue to air out, but he needed a way to prevent David from getting back in the shower again.

Once he got the mattress protector on the bed, the normal sheet went on easily. He was just finishing making the bed when David finally emerged from the bathroom, wearing a sweater that looked like boba milk tea, hair wrapped in a towel, and rubbing lotion on his face.

“Hey,” Patrick said. “So how was your seventh shower?”

“Satisfactory, thank you so much,” David answered, seemingly still traumatized by this morning.

“Listen, David, I—"

“Yeah, you know what? Can we just not?”

“Well, I think it’s important that we do.” Patrick was trying to be as kind and understanding as possible. It was a very touchy situation.

“Oh my god!” David moved away from him, walking toward the bed.

“Look, things happen.”

“Yes, things happen!” David echoed anxiously, gesturing to the bed. “Things happen all in your sheets, and now you need to remake your little bed, because I peed in it!”

“David, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, okay?” he replied firmly as he watched David pick up his shoes. Then, in an attempt to lighten the mood, he added, “And look, I found this blanket that I thought I had lost, in the laundry room, so you’ve actually done me a favor.”

“Mm.” David’s eyebrows were raised; he was clearly not buying it. He needed to hear that Patrick still loved him and cared about him despite all of this.

“So maybe we can, um… maybe we can take divorce off the table?” he asked sweetly. He saw a glimmer of softness appear on David’s face.

“Maybe,” David said. “But if the tables were turned, I can’t say I’d be as generous.”

“Understood.”

David sat down on the bed to put his shoes on.

The mattress protector could not have made a louder crinkle sound.

David paused, looked at him. Patrick immediately diverted his gaze. He may have looked super guilty, but he feared what was coming.

“What is that noise?” David asked suspiciously as he pushed down on the mattress.

“I don’t know. Maybe the sheets are a bit stiff,” Patrick lied.

“No, no, it’s like a crinkling sound.”

“Oh, you’re probably just sitting on the mattress tag—” Before Patrick could even get his whole sentence out, David had pulled up the cotton sheet to reveal the plastic protector underneath and gasped loudly.

“Is this a mattress protector?!”

“No,” he immediately lied again. “No, no, that’s a…” He watched David pick at the plastic like he wasn’t sure if it was real. “…a second sheet that you put on the mattress, um, that my mom gave me when I moved in, so I just—"

“You put down a plastic sheet?” David asked accusingly.

“Well, I don’t think it’s pla—” Somehow, he was digging this hole even deeper. “I mean, it might have like, a rubberized coating, but I don’t know.”

“Oh my god!”

“Purely coincidental.”

“Purely coincidental?” This was less about shame; David was hurt, and Patrick was lying to him.

Patrick sighed.

“Okay, look. I just wanted you to be more comfortable in case it happened again, that’s—” He was having a very challenging time meeting David’s gaze.

“Mhm, mhm, mhm, mhm,” David hummed as he pushed past Patrick.

“Come on, David, it’s an expensive mattress!” He’d bought it knowing that David Rose would be sleeping in it, so of course it was expensive!

David wheeled around. He was not pleased by that answer.

“More expensive than my dignity?”

“I mean, comparable, at least.”

“Wow. Wow!” David said as he retreated to the bathroom.

“Okay.”

“Wow.”

“No good?”

And with that, David shut the bathroom door. It wouldn’t be another twenty minutes before he emerged, ready to go.


Turns out, being at the store didn’t seem to help.

David didn’t talk to him very much that day. He  didn’t drink very much either. Patrick knew he was in the doghouse, so at lunch, he went across the street and bought him his favorite tea.

“It’s right here when you want it, okay?” he said, setting David’s tea on the counter at the register.

That had been 30 minutes ago.

David had moved on to distracting himself with inventory, while Patrick stayed behind the register, watching him. He was nervously clicking a pen and staring at the product, not counting or writing or anything, but occasionally glancing back at Patrick and his tea.

“David, you know, your tea has been just sitting here untouched for about half an hour, and you’re probably gonna have to drink something at some point,” he said.

“I’m just not that thirsty,” David responded. “I’m doing inventory.”

“Okay, you’re making this so much more of a thing than it needs to be.”

“Am I?”

God, he was acting like his life was over.

The doorbell jingled and the worst possible person to add to this situation walked through the door.

Moira was holding her phone far away from her, like she was FaceTiming someone.

“Buongiorno, boys!” Moira said to them. “Oh ho! Say hello to all my new hashtag ‘frands’. It’s a little word I assembled to consecrate my fans, who are also my friends.” She wandered in, still holding her phone uncomfortably in front of her.

“Okay, ‘frands’ doesn’t sound nice,” David remarked.

Moira turned back to her phone. “To all of you asking what is this little mercantile establishment with the almost gallery-like austerity? Well, it so happens it’s also owned by my son, David Rose.” She shoved the phone in David’s face. “Say hi, David!” David held up the clipboard defensively.

“Okay, I would rather not, thanks.”

Moira turned to face Patrick.

“And his hashtag fiancé, Patrick!”

“I don’t think you have to say hashtag when you’re just talking, Mrs. Rose,” Patrick said as nicely as he could.

“Okay, what are you doing?” David asked her. “You look like the downfall of society. Can you please turn that off while you’re in our store, please?”

“Very well,” Moira said, defeated. She turned the camera to face her. “Frands, please keep checking your phones for more ‘Crow’-related intel by me, Moira Rose, especially you WineandCatGal74. I do hope you stop crying soon. Caw! Caw! For now. Muah!” She abruptly set the phone down on the counter.

“Didn’t realize you were on social media,” Patrick said.

“Only fleetingly,” she replied. “And only because the network requested it.”

“That’s nice,” David whispered.

Moira glanced between the two of them.

“Hm, it’s noticeably cheerless in here today. If I didn’t know better, I would suspect a little trouble in paradise,” she remarked.

“David’s just having a bit of a day,” Patrick said. “Didn’t get enough sleep last night.” She didn’t need to know what had actually happened.

David gave him a disbelieving look.

“David, what’s wrong?” Moira inquired. She gasped. “Your sleep apnea hasn’t returned, has it? I thought that was remedied when you got your new nose.”

“It was,” David replied curtly.

“Is it night sweats? You’re not eating pepperettes in bed again!”

“No.” David was growing more and more embarrassed with every word out of her mouth.

“Night terrors?”

How did his fiancé have so many sleep issues that he was just now hearing about?

“I don’t want to talk about it!”

“David,” Moira said quietly, gravely serious. “Don’t tell me you’ve had a nighttime oopsie-daisy.” David’s eyes quickly darted between her and Patrick, and Patrick immediately knew.

“I’m sorry, a what?” He needed her to say it again. He was definitely enjoying that phrase way more than he should.

“I’m leaving, okay?” David said resolutely as he stalked to the front door. “And if I don’t come back, it’s because of you.” He pointed directly at Patrick.

“Me?!”

It was too late. David was already out the door and walking away from the store. Moira approached the counter.

“Oh dear,” she said, concerned. “David’s nocturnal enuresis used to only happen when he went to bed all juiced up with excited anticipation about something. Christmas, birthdays, the Ides of March. And now it seems your impending nuptials has opened the floodgates.”

Patrick’s heart swelled for David. It was a weirdly sweet and uncontrollable compliment.

“Oh! Why am I oddly flattered?” he asked. For some reason, it made him happy that David had wet the bed because he was unconsciously so excited to marry him.

“I can’t imagine,” Moira answered, clearly concerned for Patrick’s sanity.

He grinned. He couldn’t help but find everything about David – the good and the bad –  utterly endearing. But, it made him realize that they needed to set some boundaries regarding wedding talk. Right before bed now felt like a poor decision, even if it resulted in some amazing sex.

“Well, I must be off,” Moira said breezily. She picked up her phone. “There are many more places in this tiny town that my frands need to see. Arrivederci, Patrick!”

“Bye, Mrs. Rose,” he replied before she left the store.

Not too long after, David returned. It was as if he’d been just around the corner, waiting for his mother to leave.

“Well, I hope you and my mother had a delightful time reveling in my embarrassing bodily functions,” David said bitterly as he made his way back to the inventory he’d been ‘counting’.

“There was very little reveling, David,” Patrick said calmly.

“Well. We are never speaking of this again.”

“Of course.”

…which Patrick didn’t know that David meant they weren’t going to speak for the rest of the afternoon. Usually, when David gave him the silent treatment, Patrick would send him flirty texts and emojis which David would reply positively to, even if they weren’t speaking. But today, David had left his phone at home. Not because he’d forgotten it, but because it wound up in the wet spot on the bed so of course David had to put it in a bag of rice. Of course. (Patrick’s fiancé was ridiculous.)

Patrick’s phone buzzed. A text from Alexis.

Can u meet me and my mom at café tropical?

When?

rn if u can! <3 its an emergency

and DON’T bring david

Patrick must’ve made a face, because David spoke to him for the first time in hours.

“What’s going on?”

“Um…” Patrick didn’t quite know what to say. It wasn’t the first time he’d gotten “emergency” texts from Alexis, but it was the first time she’d ever specifically requested that he not bring David. (She usually requested he bring David because a) it had to do with David, and b) David wasn’t answering her.) “Ray wants me to meet him at the café. To talk about the new incorporation laws.” That was a good enough lie. He was still helping Ray on occasion and David didn’t care too much for Ray. There was no way David would want to go with him.

Sure enough, David grimaced.

“Mm, well, have fun,” he said blandly. “But if you could bring me back some French fries, I’d really appreciate it, thanks.” He then went back to obsessively dusting the shelves.

Patrick sighed.

“Of course.”

He left the store and headed across the street to the café.

Alexis and Moira were seated at their favorite booth, nervously fiddling with their drinks.

“Oh look, Alexis,” Moira gasped. “Patrick’s here.”

Patrick slid into the booth across from them. This scenario was so strange that he had no idea where this could possibly be going.

“Yep, you asked me to meet you here,” he reminded them. Alexis hummed affirmatively. “So, what-what’s, uh, what’s going on?”

“And David is bewitching himself elsewhere?” Moira asked.

“Yeah, he is, uh, dusting the shelves, even though I cleaned them last week, but hey, whatever it takes to get him through this.”

What was going on?

“Priority number one: get David through this!” Moira said.

“Mhm, mhm!” Alexis nodded. “Quick ‘Q’, um, has David taken your phone, or anything, or like, looked at anyone else’s phone?” David must’ve told her this morning he wouldn’t have his phone. That’s probably who he’d been trying to text through the plastic bag of rice. Occasionally David would borrow Patrick’s to check Twitter for celebrity gossip he had read in a tabloid or see the crafting projects Patrick’s mom was doing, but otherwise David had quit social media altogether. He’d seen too many reminders of his old life and had instead wanted to focus on his current one. It was a surprisingly healthy move.

“No,” he answered. This was so suspicious. David’s birthday had already passed, so this was definitely not some sort of surprise party. “Sorry, somebody wanna tell me what’s goin’ on?”

“Okay,” Alexis said. “Okay… so, no biggie, but my mom may have accidentally posted your little conversation from this morning over social media.”

Patrick’s blood ran cold.

“The-the one about…”

“The oopsie-daisy, yes,” she confirmed. “But don’t worry, I am involved now, and I will be taking it down.” She tapped his folded hands in her own comforting way.

“It’s still up?!” Patrick exclaimed. Oh god, if this got out, David would be mortified.

“And generating a lot of traction,” Moira replied. “But yes, it’s been, uh, we’re taking it… it’s being taken down right now.” Alexis was absently poking at her phone, clearly not doing anything.

He was still utterly baffled. He was already dealing with a humiliated David because of the incident itself, if he also had to deal with a publicly humiliated David… god, that was something Patrick didn’t even want to imagine.

“So how—how did this happen?” he asked.

“Right,” Moira began. “I was strong-armed into participating in social marketing, and a dear friend of mine from Singapore, Miss CerryBus, suggested I try my hand at creating a living stream.”

“Okay, so she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and didn’t know that it was recording,” Alexis said, defending her mom.

“Okay, look,” Patrick said. “David can never, ever find out about this. I am actually afraid he will never sleep again.” He’d seen David sleep-deprived once and in that state he was Patrick’s waking nightmare.

Patrick didn’t get anxious often, but this could have been one of those times he took a page out of his fiancé’s handbook.

“Precisely why we’re involving you in this covert stratagem,” Moira said.

“So, all we need to do is keep David off the internet for like, 24 hours, or until a celebrity says something wrong, which could be any minute,” Alexis assured him.

“Okay, I think I can handle that,” Patrick said as he pulled out his phone.

“Wonderful! Crisis averted!” Moira said, clinking her and Alexis’s glasses together.

He opened Facebook and at the top of his feed was Moira’s face, mouthing words silently, then flipping the camera around to show David.

“Yeah, so you still haven’t taken the post down,” Patrick said to Alexis. He was a bit mad that she’d lied to him. She set down her smoothie.

“I’m doing that now,” she said, picking up her phone.

“Cool. So, I’ll just sit here until that happens,” he said coolly.

“It is kind of cute, though.”

“Alexis.”

“Yes.”

“Let’s take it down.”

“Mhm.” She awkwardly bent down to suck on her smoothie as she deleted the post on her phone. “Okay, it’s gone.”

He refreshed his Facebook feed and sure enough, the post was gone.

“Now, was that the only place it was posted?” he asked.

Alexis stared at him for a long beat before replying, “No.”

“Okay. It’s going to need to be deleted from everywhere.”

“Got it, got it. Mhm.”

Fifteen minutes later, Patrick returned to the store with David’s fries and dignity, even if he didn’t know about the second part. He couldn’t believe that that had just happened. He honestly did not want to think about what could have happened if David had become some viral laughing-stock. The thought alone made Patrick sad and terrified in equal measure.


The rest of the evening passed by as usual. They closed the store, grabbed dinner on the way home, and ate in comfortable silence watching their favorite cooking show. David still had not drunk a single thing that day and based on how he was eating his lo mein, Patrick could tell he was very thirsty.

While David was taking out the trash, Patrick took the opportunity to vacuum the bed of baking soda. He only lifted one corner of the sheets to get under the mattress protector because making the bed was something he only wanted to do once today.

God, how embarrassing for David, though. It wasn’t something that a person would immediately tell their significant other. Patrick wasn’t even sure he knew David’s blood type. There were just some things – especially medical or health related – that one just didn’t share with any other people. Telling Patrick that he occasionally wet the bed as an adult was an incredibly intimate and vulnerable thing, yet here Patrick was, pretending like he didn’t have his own weird health things when he absolutely did.

It was late. Patrick climbed into bed to read a bit of a book that Jocelyn had recommended to him while he waited for David to get out of the bathroom.

“I’m so glad you decided to stay,” Patrick said when he finally emerged. He set his book down on the nightstand.

“Well, there’s literally no liquid left in my body, so,” David answered. Patrick chuckled. He was clearly tired of not talking to him.

The moment David’s knee hit the bed, the mattress crinkled. He let out a soft, “Oh!”

“Yeah…”

“Forgot about this,” he said as he shifted closer to Patrick.

“Taking that off first thing tomorrow.”

Patrick wrapped an arm around David’s shoulders as he snuggled up to his side. David stared at him for a moment, his eyes soft and loving, and let out a happy sigh. In that moment, Patrick knew David appreciated everything he’d done today. He didn’t need to say it. Getting to cuddle with him after a hard day was as good as it got.

“I wonder how long my mom lasted on the internets,” David said.

“Not long, I don’t think,” Patrick replied. “You know, you were smart to get off of there.”

“Mhm. I was curious to see what kinds of things she was posting throughout the day though.”

“Yeah, nothing of note.” What a lie.

“Hm…”

“Um, yeah, she really didn’t know how to use it, so.”

Understatement of the year.

“Mhm.”

“Let’s talk about something else,” Patrick suggested. He’d had an idea while he was vacuuming the bed that he hoped would make David feel better.

“Sure,” David replied. He crunched the sheet between them. “Um… what’s the thread count on this plastic?” His lips quirked into a smile. It was so nice that after the day he’d had, David was able to joke about it with him.

“Okay, would it help if I were to share something private and embarrassing with you?” Patrick asked. Now it was his turn to be vulnerable.

David paused. He patted him on the chest before saying sarcastically, “I might be too tired for that tonight.”

“Ha,” Patrick said dryly. He reached over into the nightstand to find his mouthguard, expertly hiding it in his hand. “If we’re gonna be married, I just think it’s important that we be as open and honest with each other as we possibly can.”

He brought his hand up to his mouth and popped the molded plastic onto his teeth. With a grin, he turned to look at David, showing him the awkward clear dental guard. David looked delighted, like in any other instance, if he didn’t love Patrick, he would’ve laughed. Which, honestly, Patrick would not have blamed him.

“What is this sexy thing?” David asked, joy lighting up his face.

“Okay, I only put this in when you’re not around,” Patrick answered, trying not to lisp horribly around the plastic. “It’s my mouthguard.”

“Oh, well, there’s nothing really embarrassing about that,” David said, utterly deadpan. “Also, you look very beautiful.”

“Aw, thank you.” Patrick leaned back over to the nightstand to grab the other sleeping accessory he forewent when David was around. “How about…” He stuffed the anti-snore device in his nose and turned back to David. “…now?”

“My God!” David said.

“This is my nose thing,” Patrick explained. “And it just helps me breathe better.” He crossed his hands in his lap. The only people who had ever seen him like this were his parents. Even Rachel never saw him with both devices.

David smiled at him, so soft, so loving. Patrick loved these smiles most of all.

“I have never been more attracted to you,” he said as he leaned in for a kiss. It was very strange to be kissing him with all this plastic right near (or in) their mouths. Patrick pulled David in closer just as David started to giggle, which only in turn made Patrick laugh too.

David’s phone chimed. A text. He reached behind him to grab it off the nightstand.

“Ronnie’s texting me a link to something—”

Before David even had the chance to finish his thought, Patrick ripped the phone out of his hands and put it on his own nightstand, as far from David as possible. He was not going to have that ruin his night, day, week, or year. Ronnie, that damn troll.

“Okay, put it away, David,” he said firmly. David looked at him with confusion. Patrick yanked out his nose plug and threw it in the drawer. “It’s bedtime.” He rolled closer to David pulling him back in for a kiss to distract him from Ronnie’s text. Patrick pulled out his nightguard and tossed it onto the nightstand. If he was going to kiss David, he was going to do it right.

After sharing such vulnerable information with each other today, Patrick felt exceptionally closer to David than he had before, and he loved it. He just wanted all of David. His heart was open and pouring out love.

David moaned softly, the sound raising the hairs on the back of Patrick’s neck and traveling down his body to the important places. As Patrick pushed him onto his back, the bed crinkled beneath them. They both started to laugh again.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” David said, trying to stifle his laughter. “I love you, but I don’t think I can have sex with the bed crinkling beneath us.” Patrick propped himself up over David.

“Well, I mean, there are other things we could do that wouldn’t make as much noise,” Patrick suggested. The look David gave him told him they were on the same page.

“Oh! Well, I guess I’m not sure I know what that could entail?” David said coquettishly.

“Would you, uh, mind if I showed you?” Patrick flirted back.

“Go right ahead.”

Patrick gave him one more long kiss before sliding down David’s body beneath the blankets. David’s legs opened wider to allow Patrick more space. It was hard to see under the blanket, so he skimmed his hand over David’s cock. He felt David shudder and his hardening cock jump beneath his fingers. Patrick could work with that.

He gently peeled David’s waistband down to just pull his cock and balls out. David’s hands appeared beneath the blanket to hold Patrick’s forearms, as if he needed an anchor, a reminder that it was Patrick beneath the blankets.

Patrick took the head of David’s cock between his lips as he worked the hardening shaft with his hand. David gasped when Patrick sucked more of his cock into his mouth, feeling the organ go rigid. He blew him nice and slowly, savoring the taste and feeling of his fiancé’s dick. When he would suck or lick particularly well, David’s fingers would tighten on his forearms, or better, when he deep-throated him, one hand went to his hair.

David was making soft, tender sounds above him, trying very hard not to move. His thighs were quaking; he liked to fuck Patrick’s face, but not wanting the bed to crinkle was winning his desires. Plus, it was a fun game.

He worked his cock for a bit, until David’s thighs were shaking. David’s hands left Patrick’s forearms and the blanket was pulled off of them. He peered up, his eyes meeting David’s. They were so dark, so lust-filled, so loving. Now, without the weight of the blanket gone, Patrick started to suck him harder, faster. The velvety smooth skin slid between his lips; god, there was nothing like it. David sunk his fingers in Patrick’s hair as he held on.

“God… fuckPatrick…” David gasped. His shirt had ridden up from all his writhing, and Patrick could see his muscles jumping beneath the skin. He was close.

Patrick sucked hard at the head before quickly dropping down to deepthroat David, his surefire trick to get David to cum.

David whined loudly and his cock twitched as he came. Patrick pulled back enough to catch David’s cum on his tongue, savoring the taste.

David smiled at him dopily as his fingertips traced Patrick’s eyebrow down his temple. Patrick swallowed loudly. David hummed happily in response.

“I remember when you were just learning,” David said softly as Patrick climbed up the bed. Patrick chuckled.

“And I was slobbering and coughing all the time?”

David tenderly cupped Patrick’s cheek.

“You were still so, so sexy,” David whispered before kissing Patrick deeply. His tongue was searching for the taste of himself on Patrick’s. Without thinking, Patrick rubbed his dick against David’s thigh as they kissed.

David drew back quickly. He had a wicked glint in his eye.

“Your turn,” he said, grinning.

Before Patrick could even respond, David had shifted down the bed, the mattress protector crinkling beneath them. Patrick thought the plastic would be a turn-off, but it turned out that there was nothing that could turn him off when David was between his legs and wrapping his lips around Patrick’s dick.

David blew him slowly, dragging his cock through the wet hot heat of his mouth. It felt incredible. After a long day of Rose nonsense, there was nothing that could make him forget it faster than looking down and seeing his super sexy fiancé sucking his dick.

“God, you look so good sucking my cock,” Patrick murmured. David glanced up at him and groaned loudly around his dick. The vibrations made Patrick gasp and grab at the sheets.

David moaned again as he took Patrick’s cock so deep his nose was buried in Patrick’s pubic hair. He could feel David’s throat instinctually contracting around him. David then pulled back barely an inch before pulling him all the way back in. He kept going like this, soaking Patrick’s cock in his mouth. The wetness and heat and constriction around the head of his dick was perfect.

“Oh, fuck, David—“ he gasped. This was Patrick’s favorite and David knew that. He knew this would destroy him. His back arched and he tipped his head back. A particularly tight swallow around his cock was all it took. Patrick’s hand flew to David’s hair and pulled most of his cock out of David’s mouth so he didn’t choke on his cum.

Patrick came with a strangled cry. David quickly swallowed him down, sucking him dry. Once Patrick’s aftershocks were over, David deep-throated him once more before pulling off his dick with a wet ‘pop’.

Patrick was a wreck. His heart was racing and his body twitched. His head was flying in the clouds. And David was gently licking his flagging erection with the smuggest look on his face.

“You’re going to be the death of me,” Patrick said, still catching his breath.

“What can I say? Your mouth guard and nose thingy really turned me on,” David replied as he sat up, delicately wiping his mouth. God, Patrick loved it when David acted like his cock was the best meal he’d ever had.

David planted one hand outside Patrick’s hips to crawl back up the bed and the crunch of the mattress protector was near deafening in the silence.

Both of them burst into laughter.

“I can’t believe we just had sex with a mattress protector on the bed,” Patrick said as David resettled against him.

“And it will be the only time,” David said sardonically.

Patrick kissed him. He pulled back to smile at David.

“It’s probably for the best it’s still on for tonight,” Patrick said dryly. “You just had liquids for the first time today.” David rolled his eyes as he pulled the blankets back over them.

“Okay.”

“Wouldn’t want something else to happen.”

David turned away from him to lay down on his side of the bed.

“I’m just looking out for you. And the mattress.”

David craned his neck to look over his shoulder at Patrick.

“You better be wearing that nose thing since now I know I could go a night without your snoring,” David said before settling into the bed, facing away from Patrick.

Patrick grinned. He did as he was told and popped in his mouthguard and sleep apnea device. He scooted across the bed to spoon up behind David. He wrapped his arm around his middle where David threaded their fingers together. Patrick nuzzled next to David’s ear and in the worst lisp he could manage, he whispered, “Thweet dreamth, my fianthe. I love you.”

He could feel David laughing. It was all going to be okay.

“Good night, Patrick. I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Patrick hated the days when they weren’t working at the store together. In order to have the store open as much as possible, he and David had agreed that they’d each take a solo shift at the store so the other could have a day off. It had been a really lovely morning, waking up with David curled up next to him, looking devastatingly gorgeous in the new sunlight. It was even lovelier when David had woken up and they’d made out for a bit, morning breath be damned.

They said goodbyes at their cars before Patrick drove off to the store and David to the motel. He knew he’d talk to him throughout the day; since starting the store, they’d barely been able to go a few hours without at least one of them texting the other.

Sure enough, within minutes of him arriving at the store, he had a text from David.

9:04am YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT I JUST WALKED IN ON
9:04am ALEXIS WAS HAVING SKYPE SEX WITH TED
9:05am WHAT?!
9:05am YEAH. SHE’S IN A FUCKING NEGLIGEE, STRIPPING FOR HIM
9:05am WE SHARE A ROOM PATRICK
9:06am Was Ted naked?!
9:06am Unfortunately, no
9:06am Just my heathen sister
9:06am Well that’s disappointing
9:07am I know
9:08am I’m going to have to scrub my brain
9:08am We’ve been SO GOOD at not walking in on each other
9:08am I can’t wait for us to live together so the only person I’ll walk in on naked is you
9:09am And when I’m skype-sexing him, Chris Evans
9:09am Ah yes, of course, your celebrity boyfriend Chris Evans. How could I forget.

It was so nice that, in the wake of the housewarming party, they had reached a point where they could openly lust over other men with each other. Since he hadn’t been out as long as David, Patrick was severely behind in which celebrities he found attractive, so David found a lot of joy in idly texting him photos of famous men shirtless. Together, they’d discovered that Patrick really liked Bear Gryllis, Chris Evans, and Timothy Olyphant specifically in Justified. It’d turned into a very fun activity for them.

(Of course, he always preferred when David was the one sending him pictures, both clothed and naked, and he made sure David knew that.)

9:10am I love you David
9:10am I love you too <3

A family of four from out of town came into the store then, preventing Patrick from texting David any further for the time being.

About an hour later while he was reordering stock, he received another text from David.

10:23am I’m going on a job interview with Stevie
10:24am You’re leaving me to run YOUR store with YOUR name on it alone?!
10:24am Okay, calm down. I’m never going to leave you.
10:24am Stevie is going on a job interview for Larry Air and she wants me to come along for emotional support
10:25am That doesn’t sound true
10:25am Fine. We have a bet.
10: 25am But what matters is that I need to borrow some of your clothes.
10:26am I don’t think my clothes are going to fit Stevie…?
10:26am Not for her
10:26am For me

Patrick suddenly got very hot under the collar. He was picturing David in a slim-fit button-down and slacks, and it was tapping into something deep within him that had been dormant for years. His palms started to sweat.

10:28am What’s wrong with your clothes?
10:29am I figured if I wanted to be successful, I should probably dress like someone who is.

Now Patrick was very hot under the collar. Who knew this would be something that turned him on so much?

10:31am You can definitely borrow some of my clothes.
10:31am Thank you
10:31am Good luck on your job interview?
10:32am Thanks babe


Around 2pm, Patrick’s phone rang.

“Unbelievable!” was the first thing he heard.

“What’s wrong, David?” he asked.

“Apparently, I’m not Larry Air flight attendant material,” David explained. “Apparently, I’m too chatty and can’t do an improv scene right.”

“Okay, both of those things are true, though.”

“Um, I called you because I am upset,” David said, his voice teetering on calm. “Not so you can roast me. Carol did enough of that today.”

“Who’s Carol?”

“A woman who doesn’t know talent when she sees it. Doesn’t matter.”

“Where’s Stevie? Are you headed back to Schitt’s Creek?”

“Um, no. Stevie is still in the group interview.”

“That’s fantastic! Good for her!” Patrick instantly regretted saying that. He could imagine the frustration on David’s face. “I mean, you should both be in there, but I’m so happy for her.”

“Mhm. I’ll remember that for later.”

“David…”

“No, no, I get it.”

“David, you already have a job you like very much: owning a store with your utterly devoted and devastatingly handsome fiancé.”

“…yeah, I do.” Patrick could hear him smiling.

“Okay, so it’s not a big deal that you didn’t get the job because you’re coming back home to me.”

“I still wanted to beat Stevie.”

“I know.”

Just the, a trio of customers walked into the store.

“I have to go, David. Customers.”

“Okay. Love you.”

“Love you too.”


David didn’t come home until well after the store had closed. It wasn’t a big deal, since it was his day off and he was spending it with Stevie, someone who he’d been seeing less and less of as their schedules diverged.

He knew David would be disappointed if he made dinner without him, so instead, he decided now was the perfect time to work on another grant proposal for the store. Business was fine, but it could be better. Some months were better than others and this Small Towns Local Business grant for $50k would help make the leaner months more manageable.

He was deep into writing when he heard his front door click open.

“Sorry I’m late,” David apologized as he came in, closing the door behind him.

“Totally okay,” Patrick said, not looking up from his computer. “I made headway on this grant that we’re basically a shoe-in for.”

“Well, that’s exciting,” David replied, coming around the couch to empty his pockets onto the table.

“Yeah, the requirements are very specific and both fortunately and unfortunately our 2nd quarter wasn’t great, but that’ll help us make a better case for…”

Patrick finally looked up from his computer and his mouth went completely dry. David Rose, his couture-loving fiancé, was standing in front of him in Patrick’s own blue button-down and mid-range denim. He’d literally never seen David in anything that wasn’t either a) a sweater, or b) mostly black. He looked like a guy he would’ve met in business school, or at one of the conferences he attended now. 

Memories of his MBA program flooded his brain, suddenly he was having a lot of fantasies involving business men in button-downs. For years he’d secretly watched a lot of porn where the couple – always a man and a woman – would be role-playing in business attire. Until he’d truly found himself, he’d always thought he was watching because he wanted to be the male boss in the videos. But as it turned out, Patrick had really wanted to be the one under the male boss in those videos.

So David plus business attire? Patrick was positively sweating.

“Patrick? Is everything okay?”

“I… um… uh…”

He shifted in his seat and was suddenly acutely aware of his rock-hard erection. David’s eyes drifted down to his lap, despite having a laptop on his lap, it couldn’t have been more obvious how turned on Patrick was.

David smirked knowingly.

“Do you like my outfit?” David asked coyly. Patrick bit his lip and nodded. “Is there something you’d like to do to me in this outfit?” He nodded again. David’s dark eyes were trained on him. It made him want to tell him everything in his brain but Patrick knew that even if he tried, it would just come out as one prolonged moan.

David picked up his laptop and moved it to the coffee table, revealing the obvious tent in his pants.

“Is that for me?” David asked with a glance to Patrick’s groin. God, Patrick’s mouth was so dry he couldn’t answer. 

It didn’t matter. David climbed onto the couch, straddling his lap. Patrick felt his pulse quicken. His hands automatically gripped David’s thighs. Feeling his own denim stretched over David’s gorgeous legs, any hope at speech was lost.

David was studying his face like he was trying to read his mind, and luckily for Patrick, he was getting pretty good at it as far as sex was concerned.

“Do you want to be the boss and I’ll be your unruly employee who you need to discipline?” David asked as he started to gently roll his hips, grinding their erections together. 

Patrick shook his head.

“Tell me what you want, baby,” David purred in his ear before nipping at the lobe. A shiver ricocheted through Patrick’s body. Had he ever been this turned on before? “Tell me what you’re thinking about.”

“Um…” The words were sticking in his throat. “You’re my boss—“

“Already in a thousand percent,” David interjected playfully. Patrick let out a chuckle.

“—and I’m your assistant who has to help you with everything,” he said. That small joke was enough to lift the pressure valve and now everything was spilling out. “Part of my job description is to service your cock whenever you want. And I—I wanted the job, like, I wanted the job—“ His voice was hoarse and crackly. David was still rolling his hips, his eyes locked on Patrick’s. “You love it most when I suck your cock while you’re on a call, which is all the time. You’ve fucked me over the conference table during meetings because you’re so powerful and sexy, and everyone, god, everyone sees it and they wish they could do that for you but it’s my job and I’m the best assistant you’ve ever had.”

Patrick’s face was burning. He’d never admitted that fantasy to anyone.

But David smiled. Then, his face changed so minutely that Patrick couldn’t immediately name it. Without a word, David climbed off of his lap. 

Did he say something wrong? Had he gone too far?

David picked up his phone then walked over to his desk and pulled out his swivel chair. The chair creaked as David sat down. His eyes were still locked on Patrick’s.

“I have some very important clients I need to call,” David said seriously but with an air of playfulness. “So I’m going to need my best assistant’s lips around my cock while I do that.”

Patrick had never gotten off the couch so quickly. In an instant, he was kneeling between David’s legs. His hands were shaking as he opened David’s belt and pants. David did very little to help him, as it was Patrick’s job to take care of him. Instead, David pretended to dial someone on his phone, and put it to his ear.

Oh god, it was happening.

“Hi, this is David Rose of Rose Enterprises calling for Mr. Howard,” David said. “I wanted to talk to him about our current deal.”

Patrick had the best fiancé.

Patrick got David’s hard cock out of his briefs and into his mouth. He sucked at the head momentarily, then slid down until the rough zipper grazed his lips. One of the shirt buttons pressed against his forehead, so different from David’s usual sweaters. He rested his hands on David’s hips, giving him the best leverage to really work his cock.

“Hi Nick, it’s David here,” he continued. “Yeah, I know it’s been a while. How’re the wife and kids?... Oh, my husband and I are doing extremely well, thank you for asking—“ Patrick peered up and their eyes connected. It was nice that even in his fantasy, David wanted them to be married. “—I called to talk about our current trade deal, our oil for your natural gas.”

Patrick closed his eyes as he bobbed his head, concentrating on the sensation of David’s velvety dick on his tongue, and the ‘conversation’ above him. Weirdly, it excited him that David had made himself a big oil executive. It made sense in his fantasy, that a oil baron would have an assistant who would fuck him during board meetings.

“Right now, we’re not getting a fair deal. You’re taking too much from us and we’re getting your worst product… I know you’re making deals with other companies too, but I want you to be exclusive with us…”

David casually laid a hand on Patrick’s head. Patrick glanced up, cock still in his mouth. David wasn’t looking at him. He was pretending Patrick wasn’t even there, that this was just the normal way of things, that he had this assistant who would do anything to make his boss happy.

He brought one of his hands down to massage his cock through his pants. He was impossibly hard, his dick pressing insistently against his zipper, creating a wet spot. He didn’t want to cum, not without David letting him, but the touch had him moaning loudly around David’s cock.

“—Oh, you heard that?” David said. He was too good at role-play. “That moan was my assistant, Patrick… yes, he’s the best assistant I’ve ever had. If I didn’t need him to run errands for me, I’d just keep him under my desk with his lips around my cock!” Patrick moaned again as David laughed like he and the imaginary executive understood one another. That wasn’t part of his original fantasy but now it was.

“Patrick?” David said, still in character, phone still to his ear. Patrick looked up. “You’re welcome to rut against my leg. It won’t affect your performance review.” David stuck his leg out, offering it to him. 

“Sorry about that, Nick. Where were we?”

Like a dog in heat, Patrick ground his erection against David’s leg while he continued to blow him. It brought little relief – he’d only stop being so turned on once this was over – but it was something.

“Ah, yes. Nick, I want you to agree to our deal… No, you shook my hand, looked me dead in the eye, and told me our deal was as good as gold…” The hand on Patrick’s head began directing him a little more forcefully, encouraging him to go faster, which of course he did. “I know very powerful people, Mr. Howard. All the Fortune 500 executives, the Prime Minister of Canada, and the President of the United States.” 

Patrick moved faster and faster until David was fucking his mouth in earnest. He felt David’s power in every nerve in his body, how his executive persona was so in control and able to command his assistant to suck his dick during a phone call. In the real world, Patrick would never want to work for this boss. But in his fantasy world, he would do anything for him. If David didn’t finish while he was on the phone, Patrick would be more than willing to bend over the desk.

“I’m prepared to call in every favor I have to bring your company to its knees… Nick, I have to put you on a brief hold.”

Before Patrick had a chance to wonder what was going on, the phone clattered to the desk where David dropped it in favor of grabbing Patrick’s shirt and hair. He let out soft breathy moans and short whines when his cock bumped the back of Patrick’s throat. Patrick felt David’s thighs quaking beneath his hands before the grip on his shirt and hair tightened and Patrick’s mouth was flooded with cum.

Patrick’s fantasy was exploding behind his eyes. They really just done that! It was so much, so good, so incredible. His fantasy-boss had just come in his mouth while on the phone.

Patrick bucked his hips against David’s leg faster and faster as David came down from his orgasm. He didn’t take his mouth off of David’s softening cock because the phone call wasn’t over. David must have understood, because once he had calmed down enough, he picked up the phone again.

“Yes, sorry about that, Nick. I had to cum in my assistant’s mouth,” David said as he petted Patrick’s cheek gently. “…He really is the best. I have a two-hour presentation to give the board later where he’ll be bent over the conference table with my dick in his ass.”

Holy FUCK .

Patrick’s orgasm slammed into him like a freight train. He gasped, every muscle in his body tightening as he came hard in his pants against David’s leg.

David continued to pet his hair and cheek as Patrick’s heart rate slowed. Blood was pounding in his ears. It was so intense. He was completely in it. It was amazing .

He let out a long exhale before looking up at David who’d very clearly been watching him as he’d come. There was a beat before David said into the phone, “Yes, I think we have a deal. It was nice doing business with you, Mr. Howard.”

Still staring at Patrick, David ‘hung up’ the phone and put it down on the desk. Patrick pulled off of David’s cock and was instantly kissed to within an inch of his life. David very nearly fell out of the chair lunging for Patrick.

“If you ever have any other kind of fantasy or role-play idea, you tell me immediately,” David said breathlessly. Patrick laughed. It delighted him that David had loved that as much as he had. “If I knew wearing your clothes was going to do that, I would’ve been wearing them every single day. God , that was so amazing, Patrick.” He quickly kissed Patrick again.

“You were incredible, David,” Patrick replied. “I was really surprised by how much you knew about business.”

“Well, between being with you and watching a lot of romcoms set at big businesses, I was bound to pick up a few things,” David said, grinning.

They kissed again; David dropped down to his knees to join Patrick on the floor. They made out for a while until Patrick’s pants became too uncomfortable.

“I have an idea,” Patrick said before being kissed again.

“Oh yeah?”

“Let’s change our clothes and make dinner.”

“Are you sure? That means I have to take off your clothes.”

“I’m sure,” Patrick said.

“Fine,” David pouted as Patrick pulled him to his feet.

As they both began unbuttoning their shirts, Patrick said cheekily, “Maybe next time we could see what happens when I wear your clothes.”

David’s head whipped around to look at him. Patrick was anticipating a hard ‘no’. Instead, David gave him a once over.

“Hm, guess we’ll have to wait and see,” he replied with a coy smile.

Patrick shivered. David was going to be the death of him.

Chapter Text

Patrick drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove to the motel. He was listening to a playlist that David had made for him early in their relationship that never failed to make him feel twitter-pated. Today was no exception: they were going to Elm Glen to get his wedding suit fitted.

Every little step closer to their wedding intensified his love for David and his impatience to sign their marriage contract. He wanted to be married to David yesterday, but a wedding was important to both of them. It was a big, momentous occasion that he definitely didn’t want to miss. Basically, if he could be simultaneously already married to David and still have all the excited anticipation, that’d be the perfect mix.

He pulled up to the motel. The weather was lovely and warm which only contributed to the skip in his step as he knocked on David and Alexis’s door.

“Come in!” David said from the other side.

He opened the door to find David standing near his bed while Alexis sat at the table, a smirk on her lips.

“Well, if it isn’t our very own little JC Chasez,” she said

“Sorry, who?” Patrick asked, looking to David for an explanation. He knew he had explained who that was on a few occasions, but the name was not instantly ringing a bell.

“Oh, we’ve been over that,” David replied as he pet Patrick’s shoulders. “Um, we should probably go though.” They had to pick Stevie up at her new job and get to the appointment within a ten-minute window or they would have to wait.

“Oh, where are my favorite groom and David off to?” Alexis asked cheekily. Patrick chuckled politely when he felt David bristle next to him. She was so good at getting under David’s skin.

“We are taking Patrick to get his suit fitted,” David answered.

“What kind of suit?”

“Hopefully my wedding suit,” Patrick chimed in. Saying the words aloud was a small rush in and of itself.

“Oh my god!” Alexis exclaimed. “Well, I’ll just grab my bag and come with.” She started to gather herself to get ready to leave.

“You know what, I don’t even know if that’s necessary,” David told her. Patrick didn’t mind if Alexis came with, but he knew that that would mean a higher likelihood of Rose sibling bickering if she did.

“Honestly, David, it’s fine. I’m your maid of honour.”

Oh. Oh no. Patrick inwardly cringed.

“Um… hm…” David began, obviously struggling to find the right words to break the news to the person he shared sleeping quarters with. “Okay, re: that. You weren’t supposed to be here for six months, so I might have asked someone else.”

“Okay. Well, I’m here now,” she replied. She was trying hard to hide the hurt, but Patrick could see it in her face. “So… who did you ask? If you say Ronnie—“

“Oh, I don’t think she would have said yes,” Patrick cut her off. There was no way David would have ever asked Ronnie.

“Does not like him,” David said, pointing to Patrick.

“Yeah.”

There was a brief awkward silence before David finally told her, “Um, I asked Stevie.”

Alexis flinched minutely.

“David, you better be talking about Stevie Nicks,” she said. David looked at Patrick. “Stevie said yes?”

“I mean, it was more of a reluctant ‘sure’,” Patrick said with a shrug mimicking Stevie’s exact physicality when she’d accepted. David had made it a point to make a special dinner for the three of them at Patrick’s when he’d asked her. He had acted like he was about to propose to Stevie himself, way too squirrelly and obviously planning something. David was terrible with secrets. Stevie had been onto him from the moment he’d asked her to come over.

“Okay, well, it sounds like she doesn’t actually wanna do it,” Alexis remarked astutely. “So why don’t I just come with, and I will gently take it off her hands.” Alexis grabbed her purse and headed toward the door.

“Fine,” David reluctantly agreed. “But I don’t want any hurt feelings. Because the last thing we need right now is interpersonal conflict eclipsing my—our—day.” He was getting a lot faster at correcting himself. Maybe by their wedding day he’d get it right on the first try. Patrick could only hope.

“Imagine what I could do with your bachelor party, David,” she said. “Diplo still sends me nudes.”

Once again, Patrick had no idea who that was.

“It’s a DJ,” David helpfully supplied as if he’d read Patrick’s mind.

“Okay,” he nodded. One day he’d know who all these people were.

They piled into his car and were off to pick up Stevie from her new job. They’d barely seen her over the past week aside from their awkward dinner date. Since she had to drive out of city limits, it was a lot harder to schedule time with her on days when she wasn’t exhausted when she got home. Patrick missed seeing her around the motel and he knew David missed her too, even though he wouldn’t say it. He was telling Patrick a lot more about the petty motel nonsense, which made Patrick really appreciate what she did for his and David’s relationship, mostly saving Patrick from having to hear about every little thing Alexis did each day.

“Um, I’m going to make you squeegee the whole shower if you keep not rinsing your hair down the drain,” David said to Alexis who grunted at him.

“I told you, David, it’s that new scalp serum I bought at your store!” she argued. “It makes you lose a lot of hair.”

“Why are you using it if it’s making your hair fall out, then?!”

“You know, I’ve been using it and that hasn’t been my experience,” Patrick chimed in.

“It’s okay, Patrick, you don’t have to lie to protect David’s feelings,” Alexis said, reaching over the driver’s seat to touch his shoulder. “You’re not married yet, so it’s not in the contract.”

“That is not at all a real thing!” David said. “And Patrick is agreeing with me because he’s not suffering from some strange form of alopecia you apparently have.”

They pulled up to Larry Air. It did not look like the most welcoming place to work, the sky was a little overcast and the parking lot was eerily vacant.

“Okay, so you guys just chat up here, and I’ll keep it cool, keep it casual,” Alexis said just as Stevie burst through the front door. “Okay. Here she comes. She’s probably gonna be uncomfortable admitting that she doesn’t wanna be a part of your wedding party, so I’m gonna make her feel like she’s doing me a favor.”

“Isn’t she though?” Patrick asked sarcastically.

“Okay. That’s funny. More of that,” Alexis replied. “But aim it at David.”

Stevie was wearing a navy flight attendant uniform, complete with pillbox hat, that must have come straight from the 1950s. She looked frantic, practically sprinting to the car. She circled around the trunk to climb in behind David.

“Please drive,” Stevie demanded. “Like, now.”

Patrick started the car immediately.

“Yep,” he replied as they pulled away from the building and toward the road. He glanced in the rearview mirror to get another glimpse of her. “So that’s your uniform, huh?”

David twisted around in his seat.

“You do know that PanAm was cancelled after a season, right?” he joked.

“Cool and casual, please David,” Alexis gently scolded her brother. “I am sitting next to her so I will be the one to handle this.”

“This is a flight attendant’s uniform,” Stevie said, still panicking. “Why am I wearing it, you ask? Because this morning I found out I was gonna be a flight attendant on a real flight.”

“Wait, didn’t you just start?” Patrick asked. That seemed rather fast to him. He swore airlines put their flight attendants through rigorous training that took much longer than a week.

“Uh, less than a week ago? Yeah, mhm,” she answered. “So how safe can the plane be if I’m the one in charge of saving people’s lives?”

“Yeah, yikes. Not safe,” Alexis said. “So you probably just wanna like, head home, then.”

“I’m fine. As long as I don’t have to go back there. I was gonna put my life in danger for what? To see the world? They only fly to Hoboken, Windsor, and South Dakota.”

“I’ve actually heard South Dakota is quite scenic,” Patrick remarked in an attempt to lighten the mood and make Stevie feel better.

“Okay,” David said, gently swatting Patrick’s arm.

“Did you know that Larry Air has 118 ongoing lawsuits?” Stevie asked the car. “One of which is from Larry himself.”

“Wow, okay. Got it,” Patrick said. Cheering Stevie up was not going to happen this car ride.

“I left a job I actually liked for this. What is wrong with me?”

“How honest do you want us to be?” David asked her teasingly.

“Oh no, babe,” Alexis said hollowly. “It sounds like you have so much on your plate already, on top of your bridesmaids duties. Are you sure that you want that much stress?” Alexis was just not giving up on this.

Stevie exhaled heavily.

“As crazy as this sounds, I’m actually looking forward to that. I feel like it’s the only job I can’t mess up at this point,” Stevie said.

“Totally.”

This was not going to plan for Alexis and it was definitely amusing both him and David.

“Is there anything you’ve liked about your new job?” Patrick asked. He felt like a parent trying to comfort his daughter after a tough day at school.

“Leaving at the end of the day?” she said.

“And lunch, right?” David joked.

“Nope.”

Oh, boy. This was going to be a long car ride.

Thankfully, Elm Glen was not terribly far from Larry Air. Stevie’s anxiety was radiating a serious aura during the short ride to the suit shop. David was being a good friend and trying to make jokes, but Alexis was only making it worse by attempting to comfort Stevie while also undermining her confidence. A typical Rose sibling tag-team.

Patrick, on the other hand, just focused on getting them to the store. Elm Glen was a quaint town not unlike Schitt’s Creek. It was a little bit bigger with a cute downtown that David loved. The store, Tuxedo Tailors, was on the main drag, nestled between a used bookstore and a family-run candy shop. The first time they’d visited Elm Glen had been on their sixth official date, they’d gone straight to the candy shop, walking right past Tuxedo Tailors. Patrick remembered David being surprised to find a gorgeous suit in the window of a store in, as he put it, “bumfuck nowhere”. It was probably why David had picked this store instead of letting them go to the mall in Elmdale that was eons closer.

“We’re here,” Patrick said as he parked the car just across the street from the store.

David excitedly clapped his hands together.

“Can’t wait to get you in some gorgeous suits!” he said, playfully tapping Patrick’s shoulder.

The four of them crossed the street and entered the small store. Tuxedo Tailors carried fairly normal fare for a boutique like itself. Suits lined the walls with large tables holding accessories strategically placed throughout. There were two dressing rooms in the far back corner. And behind the counter was a well-dressed gentleman who couldn’t have been much older than David.

“Hi, we have a fitting appointment today?” David said to the man.

“Ah, you must be David and Patrick!” the man replied. His voice was deep and warm, like sinking into a hot bath. “My name is Jerrold and I’ll be assisting you today.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Jerrold,” Patrick said, shaking his hand over the counter.

“I’ve got the suits you requested over here,” Jerrold said as he directed the group over to the dressing rooms. “Just let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks, Jerrold!” David said with a big grin as he ushered Patrick into the changing room and shut the door behind them.

“David!” Alexis yelled from the other side of the door. “You better not have lured us here to listen to you two have sex in a dressing room. It was gross enough when you did it with Gisele Bündchen and you definitely weren’t gonna marry her.”

David closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath. Patrick knew David didn’t like him knowing more than he had to about his past sexual promiscuity. In fairness, Patrick didn’t like knowing more about it, either. It wasn’t so much that he felt inadequate (he’d eventually gotten over that), but that he only wanted to think about his future with David, not David’s past with others.

“Alexis, I want to remind you that it’s a very long walk home,” David said in a very sarcastic tone. “And that I will be praying that a coyote eats you on the way.”

Alexis grunted in frustration and immediately began murmuring something to Stevie just out of earshot.

David turned his attention back to Patrick. He exhaled again and gave Patrick a smile.

“I picked out about seven suits for you to try on,” David said tenderly as he gently patted Patrick’s chest. “I hope the one I want is the one that looks the best on you.”

“…are you going to tell me which one that is?” Patrick asked.

“I think you know which one it is,” he answered without a hint of jest.

David gave him a soft kiss on the lips before ducking out of the room.

Once the door was closed, Patrick put his hands on his hips and looked at the small rack of suits. They all looked extremely similar to him, but David no doubt thought they were wildly different. It was going to be a long afternoon.


Suits 1 through 4 were no-go’s. David hated the first three and Patrick didn’t like that the fourth would have required him to wear something David called a “three-quarters vest” to cover the super high-waisted pants.

(“I was just curious about this one! I saw it on Raviv Ullman’s Instagram and thought of you.”

“You saw this and thought of me?”

“…well, I’m definitely not going to tell you who I actually thought of.”

“Good call.”)

“What do we think? Bow tie or no bow tie?” David asked Stevie and Alexis outside the dressing room.

“Oh, bow.”

“No bow.”

“I sort of feel like bow tie is kind of classic, no?”

Patrick chuckled to himself. He wouldn’t mind wearing a bow tie if that’s what David wanted. Being physically and aesthetically attractive to David was much higher on his list than he cared to admit. Strangely, he liked that his fiancé was hot for him.

He shucked off the ridiculous pants and folded them back over the hanger with the jacket. He let out a deep sigh. It was exhausting trying on clothes, which was why he had developed a personal dress code. It was so much easier to shop when he knew his measurements and didn’t stop to try anything out of the ordinary.

A wedding suit was very much out of the ordinary.

He’d only done this once before, when he’d been going to marry Rachel.

It was several years (and break-ups and reunions) after they’d initially gotten engaged. He’d gone to the suit outlet store with his dad. It had rained heavily that day, as if the weather had been reflecting how he was really feeling inside. He’d put on a good face, shopping with his dad who had no idea what to look for. When he’d tried on those suits, Patrick remembered feeling so depressed. He’d had a hard time looking at himself in the mirror. He had gained weight, his eyes looked empty, and he’d hated every single thing he’d tried on. They had left the store with the most basic suit possible that he had no intentions of getting fitted.

Maybe that should’ve been the sign that he didn’t want to marry Rachel.

Now, he listened to his friends’ idle chatter outside the changing room as he pulled on suit #5.

“Um, speaking of maid of honour duties… Stevie? Thoughts on David’s bachelor party?”

He and David hadn’t fully discussed plans for their bachelor parties. The Venn diagram of their friends was almost a circle. Because of this, it didn’t make a lot of sense to have two separate parties, yet it might be the safest option. Patrick would be happy with a house party or a baseball game or an escape room. Whereas David…

“Okay, I’m super easy. Although I did find a gorgeous ryokan in Hakone with a hot spring-fed onsen on the balcony. Private chef optional. But I’m open to other ideas.”

…wanted something very, very different.

He buttoned the pants before he slipped his shoes back on. David had scolded him on the first suit for walking out in just his socks.

“Tell me about it. I once planned Megan Fox’s bachelorette party on this tiny island off the coast of Montenegro where nothing is illegal. Like, nothing,” Alexis said. Because of course she had.

“Okay, are you sure you shouldn’t do this?” Stevie asked. “Because I mean, you’re here now, you’re David’s sister, and you’re clearly better suited for the job.”

“Oh my God, Stevie. I get why you and everyone else would be asking that question, but the answer is… like maybe?”

“What am I doing?” Stevie asked.

“Well, we can just crossfade responsibilities.”

“No. What am I doing with my life? I’m now unemployed in my thirties. For the second time in a week. I left your dad high and dry at the motel…”

His heart broke for Stevie. He remembered being where she was, not knowing what he was going to do with his life. Now he was buying a wedding suit. Stevie was smart and savvy. She’d figure it out. And if she didn’t, her friends would be there to help.

Patrick pulled on the suit jacket, then turned around to check himself out in the mirror before facing David’s scrutiny.

Oh. Wow.

He looked incredible.

He ran his hands down the lapels, the satiny fabric smooth under his palms. Despite needing a bit of tailoring, it was perfect. He could picture himself wearing this suit at the altar with David in front of him.

After he’d examined himself in the mirror long enough, it was time to leave the dressing room.

David gasped.

“Hey, what do we think about this one?” he asked as he stepped out.

“Oh my God. Since when did James Bond shop in Elm Glen?!” David asked, agog. He was adorably elated and happy with how Patrick looked.

“So that’s a yes?” Patrick asked.

“Yes,” David smiled sweetly.

Alexis popped up from her seat beside Stevie and grabbed two ties off the table next to David.

“Um, we still need to pick a tie,” she said. She turned to face Stevie. “So what does our maid of honour think?”

Stevie slowly stood and reached out for the tie in her left hand, but Alexis was holding it fairly tightly.

“Which one is your favorite?” Alexis reiterated, nudging Stevie toward the tie in her right hand.

Stevie feigned thinking before taking the tie out of Alexis’s right hand.

“Yes! Can we just get married already?” David asked Patrick excitedly as he touched his shoulder. “I’m kidding, I want pageantry that takes months and months to plan.”

“Of course you do,” Patrick said.

“You look so good,” David continued, checking him over. “Fits in the shoulders. We can button that up.”

“Was this the suit?” Patrick asked. David gave him a soft smile and a nod.

“It’s very you and very in our budget.”

“I appreciate that in more ways that one.”

David gave him a kiss.

“Now go get changed so we can spend some money,” David said, urging him back into the dressing room. “Jerrold! We’re going to need your tailoring prowess in dressing room two!”


Once his measurements were taken, Patrick changed and brought the suit back up to the counter with Stevie. David and Alexis hung back near the dressing room, probably arguing about cufflinks or something like that.

"So your suit will be ready in about two weeks,” Jerrold told Patrick as he rang up the suit.

“Sounds good,” Patrick said. “Can that be delivered? We’re entering a really busy few weeks for our store, so getting out to Elm Glen isn’t the easiest thing.”

“Absolutely? Do you have an address I can send this to?”

Patrick passed Jerrold his driver’s license so he could type up his address.

“Thank you for picking out my tie,” Patrick said to Stevie. He cast her a friendly smile.

“Oh, you know, just one the little things I can do as the maid of honour, I guess,” she said sheepishly.

“You’re going to do a great job. You’re the only other person who knows David as well as I do.”

“I don’t know, maybe his family?”

“Okay, I meant, knows him as well as I do and will actually think about him when making a decision.”

“Oh, oh yeah. Definitely. It’s just you and me.”

They both chuckled.

“You’re gonna do great in whatever you do, by the way,” Patrick added. “And if you ever want someone to bounce career ideas off of, someone who has actually had a career and isn’t Mr. Rose, I’m here.”

Stevie gave him a grateful smile.

“Thanks. I will probably need that.”

After paying for the suit, Patrick and Stevie returned to the Rose siblings.

“Ready to go?” Patrick asked. David hooked his arm in Patrick’s.

The others nodded. David looked positively delighted at the success of their shopping excursion.

“Another thing off our list,” Patrick said as they headed toward the door.

“Only like… 145 to go,” David replied.

“And we—” Alexis said proudly, gesturing to herself and Stevie. “—will be there for all 145 of them.”

“No, you absolutely will not,” David shot back.

“We’ll see about that, David,” she said with a sly grin before reaching over to boop David on the nose.

"Stop that!" he said as he skillfully batted her hand away.

Chapter Text

Today was the day.

Oral Surgery, Dr. Ben Lowenstein, Elmdale Dental Surgery Centre, 9am.

It had been looming over Patrick’s plans for the last few weeks. His last dental appointment had his dentist worried. She hadn’t been able to tell if his wisdom teeth were going to bump his neighboring molars, so she’d sent him to Dr. Lowenstein to have a full panoramic x-ray done. And that’s when Dr. Lowenstein had told him they’d need to remove his wisdom teeth.

Surgery didn’t scare Patrick. He’d broken his arm in little league baseball when he was 9 and had broken several of his fingers on the varsity team in high school. He trusted the doctors to take care of him.

It was the aftercare he was worried about.

Prior to meeting David, any time he’d been sick, he had muscled through it. When he’d been really sick, he’d had his mom or Rachel around to take care of him. Rachel had gone to nursing school, so if there was anyone he was going to implicitly trust with his health it would be his ex.

David was a completely different story. If Patrick so much as sneezed twice in a row, David would reach for hand sanitizer. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust David. He ran a store with the man and was intent on marrying him, for heaven’s sake. He was just very unsure as to what David’s bedside manner would be. Would he remember things when Patrick couldn’t? Would he get food for him or leave Patrick there to make food himself? Since he was only going to be on a lot of painkillers, he viewed this as a dry run for the “in sickness and in health” portion of their vows.

David had insisted that Stevie drive them since Patrick’s car was in the shop again. Patrick had gently suggested asking David’s family if they could borrow the car, but that was quickly nixed when Alexis made David feel bad about his sense of direction. So a quick call to Stevie, and suddenly they had a ride to the appointment. (She’d outright refused to stick around to drive them home.)

Now, here they were, flying down the highway toward Elmdale, Stevie in the driver’s seat, David in the back, and Patrick riding shotgun. He was dressed as comfortably as possible in sweats he usually reserved for the gym or at home. David had told him that this was the one acceptable time he could wear them out in public. But he wasn’t allowed to stay in them for the Crows premiere tonight no matter how exhausted he was.

“Can’t thank you enough for driving today, Stevie,” Patrick repeated himself from earlier when she’d picked him up. “I don’t know what is going on with my car.” He’d bought it used after his unoccupied Jetta was t-boned by a teen learning to drive in the Target parking lot in Elmdale. Bob had assured him that this new car ran fine, but Patrick was now discovering that ‘fine’ meant he’d be paying Bob a lot of money to continually fix it. Needless to say, Patrick was saving up for a new car.

“I do. It’s a death trap that needs to be set on fire and pushed off a cliff,” David said.

“Well, I’d love to say I had a choice in the matter,” Stevie said. “But according to David, driving his fiancé to go get his wisdom teeth out is totally within my maid of honour responsibilities.” God, his fiancé was ridiculous.

“Okay, tell me how I’m being unreasonable?” David argued. “Also, if this is what it takes to get you out of that dank little apartment…”

“Excuse me, I have a business meeting this afternoon,” she said matter-of-factly… without any follow-up.

“…just gonna leave it at that?” Patrick asked. She knew that if anyone would be interested in this news, he would. Dangling this carrot and then retracting it immediately was cruel.

“Mr. Rose asked if he could come over to my place,” she told him. She was trying to hold back a smile. “I think he’s gonna push for me to come back, and I don’t know if I can say no.”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“I’m supposed to be looking for other jobs.”

“Okay, Honestly, Stevie, what other job is better than owning your own business?” David asked from the backseat. Patrick had to agree. He found so much more joy in running Rose Apothecary than he ever did working for someone else. Although there were many days when it felt more like he was working for David and not with David. Regardless, it still beat having to report to someone.

“I guess I just feel like after making such a big deal out of… wanting to see what else is out there, isn’t it kind of… pathetic to like… crawl back?” She quickly held up a finger to silence David who they all knew had a retort in the cannon. “Don’t answer that. I already turned down another job interview today.” Patrick was impressed. Stevie was an astute businesswoman. It didn’t surprise him that she had people lining up to hire her.

“Maybe you just needed to see what you didn’t want in order to figure out what you do?” Patrick said. “Look at me. Two years ago, I thought I’d have a wife and a kid at this point.” The memory of Rachel at the barbecue immediately came to mind. Seeing her had solidified his decision to be with David. He remembered all of the shameful, bad feelings he’d had with her, most of them having nothing to do with her at all. But since then, he’d found true joy in being with David, the love of his life.

David snorted.

“Yeah, well, one out of two isn’t bad,” David remarked. “I’ve been told I’m… very young at heart.”

Stevie drove over an unavoidable pothole causing the whole car to jolt.

“Can you drive better, please?” David asked.

“Hm, weird, my driving could be better if you would’ve just driven today,” she replied sarcastically. Patrick stifled a laugh.

“I don’t like your tone,” David said tersely.


Stevie dropped them off at the surgical center and drove off. She really wasn’t kidding when she’d said she was only driving them there and not sticking around.

They checked in with the front desk and were immediately taken back to the surgical suite to wait. There were implements and equipment set up in the room; this was obviously where Patrick was going to have his surgery.

“I don’t like being in here,” David said as he nervously paced the room.

“It’s just wisdom teeth, David,” Patrick assured him. “And they’re not even your wisdom teeth, they’re my wisdom teeth.”

David sat down next to him and took his hand, threading their fingers together.

“It’s just… I’m too young to lose you.”

“David, it’s going to be fine. This is the best oral surgeon in the area. You’re not going to lose me.”

David pursed his lips, nodded, then took a deep breath.

“You’ve had surgery before,” Patrick reminded him. “You know everything is going to be okay.”

“Okay,” David said, holding up a finger. “But my surgeons were the best in the world. You wouldn’t have been able to tell I had a nose job if I hadn’t told you.”

Patrick jokingly scrutinized David’s face before responding with an unsure, “Well…”

“Okay.” It was a haughty reaction, but it quickly gave way to a tender smile. David slowly leaned in and gave Patrick a kiss. “I mean, they didn’t offer us homemade kombucha or freshly-tapped coconut water, so really how good of a surgeon can he be?”

Patrick grinned and patted David’s knee. A moment later, a tall, lean doctor entered wearing green scrubs and a scrub cap.

“Hi, Mr. Brewer, so good to see you again,” Dr. Lowenstein said, offering his hand to Patrick.

“Good to see you too, Dr. Lowenstein.”

“And this must be your fiancé, David,” the doctor said as he shook David’s hand as well.

“It is,” David affirmed.

As Dr. Lowenstein got situated on his stool, David shot Patrick a look as if to say, ‘You told him about me?’ Patrick smiled sweetly, replying, ‘Of course I did.’

“Alright, Mr. Brewer, we’re taking out your wisdom teeth today,” the doctor continued. “It should be entirely routine. There was nothing I saw that would make this more challenging than any other extraction.” Patrick squeezed David’s hand. “It should only take about an hour, should everything go smoothly, which I’m sure it will.”

“And I can see him as soon as he’s done?” David asked. Patrick was touched by how concerned David was.

“Almost. He’ll be under general anesthesia, so it might take him some time to come to.” Apparently, this answer wasn’t good enough for David, who was giving Dr. Lowenstein a worried look. “He won’t be awake, but you can sit with him as he wakes up.” Patrick felt David relax at that reassurance. “We need to get you ready for anesthesia. So, I will ask David to please step outside, while we prep you, Mr. Brewer.”

“Oh! Of course,” David said as he stood up. “I’ll see you when you’re done, honey.” He kissed Patrick one more time before being escorted through the door by Dr. Lowenstein who quickly ducked out before David disappeared.

“He’s going to be completely fine,” Patrick heard Dr. Lowenstein repeat to David. “If you want any updates, feel free to ask the front desk.”

“Great, thank you,” David said, his voice soft and fragile.

Soon, Dr. Lowenstein was replaced by a nurse rolling in his IV drip. It wasn’t long before Patrick was left alone in the room to wait for the surgery to begin. The nurse was kind enough to turn the TV on before she left.

She had handed him the remote and told him he’d probably want to change the channel to something different. But when Patrick looked up at the TV, he knew he wasn’t going to change it. His heart instantly melted when he saw Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones telling Patrick Dempsey he’s the father of her baby. Bridget Jones’s Baby was one of the movies Patrick and David had watched when they first got together. David had insisted that they watch a Bridget Jones marathon when he’d discovered that Patrick had only seen the first one. He remembered enjoying the films, but he wasn’t sure if that was because they were good or because it had been the first time he and David held hands. Either way, he put the remote down and enjoyed the film before it was time.

About twenty minutes later, Dr. Lowenstein returned with a small entourage: two nurses and the anesthesiologist.

About five minutes later, the anesthesiologist was placing the mask over his mouth and having him count backwards from ten.

“Ten… nine… eight…”


I struggle to open my eyes. I feel like I’ve been hit by a MAC truck going 120kph on the highway. Ugh, those lights are so bright. Everything is so foggy, and everything’s so heavy. Why is my head so heavy? Is my head always this heavy?

“Welcome back, baby.”

I turn my head and see the most beautiful man in the world sitting next to my bed. David! Oh, he sounds as nice as he looks and he looks nice . Like, niiiiice . His hair is always so perfect? How is that possible?

“Hi.” My voice is so hoarse, and my throat hurts so bad. Why does my throat hurt? They were working on my teeth, not my throat!

“How do you feel?”

“Ungfmph.” And there’s all this cotton in my mouth? David can’t hear me if I have all this cotton in my mouth!

Dr. Lowenstein comes into the room and stands over me. He’s so tall. I wonder if he ever played basketball.

“Hi, Mr. Brewer. We’re glad you’re back,” he says. “Everything went perfectly and you’ll be good to go home soon.”

I nod, or at least try to nod because like I said, my head is heavy .

“Great, thank you, Doctor,” David says for me. God, David is so amazing. He just knows what I’m thinking, you know?

David rubs my arm and smiles. “The nurse gave me all the aftercare information so we’re gonna get you home and get you comfortable.”

I try nodding again and it’s a little better, I think. Maybe. I don’t know. I guess it is because David kisses me on the forehead and oh, that’s nice. I want him to kiss me on the mouth but I don’t think he will because of all this cotton? Oh, and I guess because I had surgery. Ugh.

I guess time has passed because now we’re leaving the surgical center? No idea how that happened. Everything’s such a blur. All I know is we’re standing outside – oof, standing is not fun right now – waiting for an Uber, I think. I don’t know, but David has his arm around my waist and he smells so good. I turn into him so I can stick my face in his neck and smell him better.

Mmm, that’s the stuff. So earthy and so sexy. Better than flowers or vanilla or whatever.

“You smell so sexy, David.”

David chuckles as he pulls me tighter against him.

“Well, it is the cologne you bought me for my birthday,” he tells me. “I would hope you like it.”

“I remember buying that!”

“I would hope so.”

“It’s from a person who is too expensive to sell in the store but you love her stuff so I secretly bought it for you when you thought I was at the doctor’s.”

“That is… what you did.”

“It’s like, patchouli and palo santa.”

“Palo santo.”

“When we get home, can I smell you the rest of the day?”

“When we get home, you’re going right to bed.”

“Noooooo, that’s not fair!”

A car pulls up near us. Some hybrid thing because it makes that weird humming noise when it drives at a low speed.

“Patrick, our Uber is here.”

David opens the door and puts me in the backseat, following close behind. He tells the driver my address before we drive away.

“This car is super smooth, and this driver definitely drives better than Stevie. Oh, I hope she doesn’t know I think that. Stevie’s so nice and funny. But she’s not the best driver. Please don’t tell her I said that!” I pull my sweatshirt hood over my head because I don’t want her to see me say that.

“I promise I won’t tell her,” David says.

“I want her to like me.”

“She likes you a lot.”

“Like, likes me likes me, or just likes me?”

“…just likes you.”

“Oh, okay good. You know, Mr. Driver? A good way to drive is not with your foot on the clutch the whole time. That’s what Stevie does.”

“…okay…” the driver says. “Who’s Stevie?”

“Our friend. And David’s ex. They had sex together! Can you believe that?”

“Uh…”

“Patrick, please stop talking—”

“I mean, not while we’ve been together – we’re getting married! – but a long time before we met. Or I think it was a long time? I don’t blame him, she’s very hot. I mean, I wouldn’t have sex with her because I’m taken, but like, if she was a guy, you know? Stevie would be very hot as a guy. Men are really hot.”

“Patrick—”

“Well, even if she weren’t a guy. If she was a girl. Which she is. Because she’s like, really pretty. Like, I could have sex with her? Because as David tells me all the time,” I clear my throat and put on my best David voice. “‘Your actions don’t define your sexuality, you’ve always been gay, Patrick.’”

“You know I don’t like your impression of me—”

“Like, I was engaged to Rachel for a loooong time and we were gonna have kids too, but I didn’t want to do that because I’ve always been gay but like, sex with women wasn’t terrible? It was fine? So like, because of that, I didn’t know I was gay until I met David and kissed him and had sex with him. And now I’m marrying David who like, have you seen him? He’s gorgeous and like, so so so hot. He’s the Jewish Channing Tatum…”

“Okay, let’s stay on this train of thought—"

“Okay, but on a spectrum, Stevie is hotter than my ex but not as hot as David. If I hadn’t met David, I could’ve been happy making babies with Stevie.”

“Great,” the driver says. At least someone is enjoying my stories since David isn’t.

“Okay, probably not. I probably still would’ve been super sad because David wouldn’t be in my life. I love David. He’s the best. I’m marrying him and want to spend the rest of my life with him.” I look at David with all the love in my heart and he looks super annoyed but that’s okay, because he’s marrying me and this is what marriage is like.

“That’s good to hear,” the driver says.

I unbuckle my seatbelt to lean over the front seat. David doesn’t need to hear this.

“Mr. Driverman, are you single?”

“Yes…”

“Do you like men or women or what?”

“Women…?”

“You need to find a woman who is hotter than my ex but not as hot as David. Oh! You should date Stevie!”

David’s hands are on my shoulders, pulling me backward.

“Okay, Patrick, let’s get you back in your seatbelt before you make the driver want to put you through the windshield.”

The car turns but this doesn’t look familiar?

“We’re going the wrong way,” I say.

“Uh, this is what the app is telling me,” the driver says, pointing to his phone.

“Well, it’s the wrong way!”

“Patrick, honey, you don’t know what direction anything is right now.” David pets my leg, which feels nice.

“But this is the wrong way. It’s the wrong way! We gotta turn around!”

“Okay, honey, you’re yelling.” Why is David so calm when we’re not going toward my home!

“I’m not yelling!”

“You are absolutely yelling.”

“Do you want me to change the route?” the driver asks.

“Yes!” I yell.

“No, no, please ignore him,” David says as he pulls me closer, snuggling me, which like, okay, I’m happy about this. “He just had his wisdom teeth taken out.”

“Uh-huh…”

“We’re going the wrong way! It’s gonna take us hours to get home and I left the stove on!” What is wrong with both of them?! This is not right!

“You didn’t leave the stove on. And stop yelling!”

I never stop yelling. The driver takes wrong turn after wrong turn until we end up at my apartment building. Huh.

“Okay, we’re here,” the driver says. He sounds tired.

David opens the door fast and grabs my hand, dragging me out of the car.

“I’m so sorry,” David says to the driver. “Thank you for not crashing the car because of my fiancé and his inability to shut up. If I could give you ten stars, I would.”

“A good tip would be great,” the driver replies.

“Great, sounds good, I can definitely do that.”

The car drives off.

“How did we get here?” I ask David as he leads me to the building.

“Via the car.”

“Oh. Do you think the rhododendrons are gonna come in this year?”

“Those are rose bushes, Patrick.”

“Rose! Like your name!”

We walk up the stairs which, okay, why did Ray sell me an apartment on the third floor? That was a bad idea. It’s so far and there’s no elevator. THIS IS THE WORST. I’m so tired. My throat still hurts. My legs feel like they’re full of sand.

David unlocks the front door and lets me in first.

“Okay, here we go,” David says.

“That was a fun car ride.”

“Yes, it was very fun,” David says as he steers me into the apartment and shuts the door behind him. He tosses my prescriptions – when did he get those? – on the table before leading me to the couch. “Thank you so much for all the hot tips you were giving our Uber driver. For a second, I was concerned about my rating, but I think he seemed to enjoy all the wrong directions you were yelling at him.”

I sit down on the arm of the couch and look up at my beautiful, tall fiancé who puts his hands on my shoulders. My tummy hurts and I can feel it growling. Oh my god, I haven’t eaten since yesterday. I’m sooooo hungry.

“David, I’m hungry. I’m a hungry, hungry hippooooo,” I sing. Maybe that will make him get me food.

“‘Kay, we’re not supposed to feed you right now,” David tells me.

“Can you make me a lasagna, David?” That would take an hour or so. That’s not right now.

“Imagine?” David laughs. “No. I think we rest this little voice, ‘cause you have been chatting ever since the dentist’s office.”

I’m not listening because I’m too focused on how the light from the windows is so soft on David’s face. His hair is so perfectly done. I love his whole body but especially his face. He has these big eyebrows that are so expressive. And his eyes are oh my god, so beautiful and soft and doe-like. His nose is perfect – what a good nose job. And his mouth, oh, his mouth. I love his mouth so much. Everything together is high art!

“Why are you so handsome?” I ask.

“I mean, unless you wanna keep talking, in which case that works as well…”

I stand up so I can get a better look at his beautiful face. And touch it. He shaved this morning so his skin is sooooo soft.

“How come your skin is like… perfect?” I stroke his cheek with my thumb and it’s like petting a newborn baby.

Oh, having a baby with David would be amazing. I could teach them baseball! David could teach them art! We could have an amazing baby! David cares about me so much and he’s so nice. He’d be so nice to a baby.

I didn’t want babies with Rachel but oh boy, I want babies with David. I want lots and lots of babies with David. Okay, maybe just two or three but baaaaabies.

“It’s a nine-step regimen I do twice a day,” David preens. “It’s not a big deal.”

Oh, I want to lay down. Everything is heavy again.

“I’m tired,” I say as I lean my head on David’s shoulder.

“Oh, okay,” David says as he catches me before I fall over. “Well, you know what? We should probably get you over to the bed.” Best dad. He’d be the best dad.

“O-kay,” I agree as he leads me over to the bed to sit down. “You know what I really wanna do with you?”

“Uh-huh,” David confirms. “Ethically speaking, I don’t think we can do that with you in this state.”

“Have a baby.”

David lifts my legs and helps me lie down.

“‘Kay, we will make a baby as soon as you sober up.” Wow, it would be so cool to have sex with David and make a baby ourselves. The baby would look like both of us! Though I’d really love it if the baby looks more like David because David’s so pretty. Oh, I would have David’s babies. But I can’t, I can only pretend. Booooooooo…

“Oh no, not make a baby. Have a baby,” I correct him. “Like, I wanna have a little baby with you. And we could just love it and hold it and bounce it.” And all the tiny baby clothes! David would dress our baby so cute all the time. A baby David!

“Yeah, that’s a… that’s a big one-eighty,” David says. He sits down on the bed next to me.

“You would be such a good dad!”

“Have we met?!” He doesn’t believe me!

“I wish you were my dad!”

“Okay, now we’re just spiraling off in all directions.”

Why doesn’t David agree with me?? Why didn’t he make me a lasagna? Lasagna…

“Shh! Listen, okay?” I beckon him closer. “Come here, come here. I got a secret.”

“I don’t—”

“Come on.” He leans forward to hear my secret. “David? I’m very hungry.” That lasagna sounds so good.

“Okay, there’s nothing I can do about that.” David starts to leave. I grab him before he does because I don’t want him to go.

“Wait, just lie down with me.”

“Okay.”

“I wanna, I wanna hold you.” I wrap my arms around David who lies down with me. He’s so cuddly. He’s the best body pillow because he’s not a pillow but a person and a very attractive person.

“Mm-hmm…”

We could do this, naptime, with a baby in a bassinet next to us. We could be parents! We could be dads ! Living in a beautiful house with my husband and our adorable lil baby.

I sigh. That’s the dream.

“Imagine us right now, but just with a little baby,” I say, encouraging him to picture our possible future.

After a long pause, David finally says, “Then I’d be taking care of two drooling people. I think I’m good for right now.”

“Mm. But in the future, like next week.”

That’s probably a good idea. I’m getting sleepy.

“Next week?”

“Mm.”

“I wonder if Stevie would have our baby.”

“You have a weird obsession with Stevie’s uterus today.”

“You and Stevie would make a really pretty baby.”

“…okay, that’s undeniable, but no.”

“…a baby…” My eyelids are so heavy. “…would be…” I take a deep breath. “…so neat…”


Patrick woke up in bed. He felt like he just woke from the dead. That anesthesia was no joke.

He opened his eyes. The sun was low in the sky, streaming through the window. How long had he been out?

David was sitting on the arm of the couch, watching him. Patrick wondered how long he’d been there.

“Morning, sunshine,” Patrick said jokingly.

“Mm, it’s 5pm, but good morning,” David replied. Was it really 5pm? He’d slept for nearly 6 hours.

“I really don’t remember how I got into this bed.”

“I do. You were talking,” David said as he walked over to sit down on the bed next to him. “A lot.”

Oh god. Patrick had a tendency to babble when he was drunk which he can only imagine was also the case under the effects of anesthesia.

“Uh-oh,” he said, a little worried about what he’d said. “What was I saying?”

“Well, the conversation really ran the gamut,” David told him. “You complimented my flawless skin and called me the Jewish Channing Tatum, which all tracks.” That did all track. Patrick would have told him all of that sober. Okay, maybe not the Jewish Channing Tatum part, but he’d definitely had that thought before. “But then you told me you wanted us to have a baby.”

Patrick chuckled. That’s the uh-oh. Patrick knew David’s thoughts on babies. He’d been very clear about his disdain for children of all ages. And Patrick could go either way on children. If his partner wanted kids, great. If his partner didn’t want kids great. David just so happened to be the latter.

“What else did I say?” he asked David.

“I put you to sleep after that.”

“Wait, are you joking?” He’d been so careful after the baby sprinkle to never mention wanting babies again. Apparently his subconscious wasn’t giving up that easily.

“No,” David said firmly. “No, no. You held me close and told me to envision our lives… with a child.” Patrick felt the heat rise to his cheeks.

“I see.”

“Mhm.”

“That, uh, that must’ve been scary for you,” Patrick said. This was not how he wanted to bring this conversation up again.

“It was a little triggering,” David said, then under his breath, “Traumatizing.”

Patrick leaned forward to touch David, comfort him.

“David, I know that you don’t want kids, and that’s fine with me, okay?” he said earnestly. “I was very high on anesthetic.”

“Okay, it’s just earlier today, when we were in Stevie’s car because your car’s always in the shop—” David said. He had to get that dig in, didn’t he? “—you had mentioned that you’d always pictured yourself having a kid.”

He’d only pictured himself with a kid because that’s what Rachel had really wanted, so he’d gotten used to the idea. He got so used to it that he’d kinda liked it.

“You’ve never pictured yourself doing something that didn’t end up happening?” Patrick asked him.

“Of course. I’m not married to Christina Aguilera, am I?”

Patrick smiled.

“David,” he said as he leaned in. “I am happy—"

“But it’s—”

“—with the life I’ve got.” David wouldn’t meet his eyes. He didn’t believe him. “I’m happy with you. Things change.”

“Okay, you’re a hundred percent sure you’re not just saying you don’t wanna have a kid, but, in actuality, you secretly do and are repressing that need just for me?” He was half right. He secretly wanted one and was repressing it, but it wasn’t a need. He didn’t need a baby to be fulfilled. But he did wonder for a second how this had come up in the first place, why he would reveal it—oh, right.

“I don’t wanna undermine the significance of this conversation,” Patrick said. “But I do wanna make it known that I was watching Bridget Jones’s Baby right before I went under.”

He watched as David visibly relaxed.

“Okay, well that makes a little more sense,” David replied.

But Patrick didn’t want him to get too comfortable.

“Mm. You would be a great dad, though,” Patrick said kindly, honestly. David looked down and chuckled.

“Okay.”

Wait, did David kinda want kids but think he’d be a bad father? Is that why he was so anti-children? Patrick loved him so much and knew things about David that he refused to see himself. David often viewed himself through the lens of his former life instead of as the person he really was.

Patrick reached out and placed his hand over David’s heart which was thudding hard in his chest. He could feel the beat quicken.

“You have a big ol’ heart in there, David.”

“Yeah, yeah,” David dismissed. He couldn’t look at Patrick. He really didn’t want to believe what he was saying.

“There it is. It’s beating away.”

“Mhm.”

Then, something twinged in Patrick’s mouth. He felt it go up his jaw into his skull.

“Um… can you grab me those painkillers? I think I’m gonna need a few of them if we’re still planning on making it to your mom’s thing tonight,” Patrick said.

David reached out for his bottle of painkillers on the desk.

“Okay, that’s actually a very good idea. I might take one myself. Apparently the first 15 minutes are very, very dense,” David said before popping open the bottle. He poured out two pills and handed one to Patrick. In a nod to their first date, they ‘clinked’ pills. “To your wisdom teeth.”

Patrick laughed. “To my wisdom teeth.”

They each took a pill and David passed him the glass of water to wash it down before drinking some himself.

David patted him on the knee.

“Alright, I’ll put an outfit together for you for tonight so you can lay down for a little longer,” David said. “Gonna need your strength to stay awake for the movie because you know my mother will want your top ten moments and they need to be spread out through the film.”

David stood and went about rustling through Patrick’s clothes. He didn’t know why he’d been so concerned about David’s bedside manner. He’s been perfect. Patrick was marrying the perfect person.


“Is this what all premieres are like?” I ask David. We’re standing outside the town hall where the premiere is gonna be and there are people there? And there’s a reddish carpet? And a thing with the logo on it? Why does Ronnie get to be on the red carpet and not me? She does look really good though.

“Oh, god no,” David says with a laugh. “This is tragic.”

“Where did all these people come from?” I ask him. There are all these people I don’t recognize. Schitt’s Creek is bigger than people think but I know basically everyone in town. And there are news vans? Why?

David turns to look at me. Wow, he looks super high.

“Why are your pupils so dilated?” David asks me.

“No, yours are.”

“No, yours are.”

Those Vicodin were a great idea. I don’t understand why I don’t get high with David more often. We’ve never smoked weed together. Maybe we should smoke weed together???

Stevie comes over. She looks super hot today. Maybe it’s the suit?

David gasps at her look.

“Why are you dressed like a limo driver?” David asks her.

“Your mother insisted,” Stevie says. That sounds like Mrs. Rose. Why is she looking at us like that? “Why are you both glassy-eyed?”

“What?” David says.

“Wow!” she says before turning away. Is she mad at us for being high? Is she mad that she’s not high too? Because David slipped my Vicodin in