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clothes make the man

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Patrick was eating lunch at the Cafe when it all started.

He was eating at the counter, enjoying a rare lunch break away from the store, where David had agreed to man the cash. Patrick was supposed to have been back twenty minutes ago, but David had come in forty-five minutes late that morning, so.

Twyla was telling Ivan and Mr. Rose something, although Patrick wasn’t paying full attention. The sudoku app on his phone had given him a tough one today.

The door chimed behind him, but Patrick didn’t turn around to see who it was. A moment later Jocelyn pushed her stroller up to the counter.

“So basically my aunt says, they should get rid of me because I don’t bring anyone joy!” Twyla finished saying.

Ivan looked like it was the most wonderful thing he’d ever heard. Jocelyn looked like she kind of wanted to cry, but that was hard to tell if it was from the achingly sad thing Twyla had just said or from her whole… state of being.

“Uh,” Patrick said, knowing he was very shortly about to regret speaking up but unable to help himself. “Twyla, is everything okay?”

She laughed again. “What? Of course. I was just explaining this show where you get rid of some of your things if they don’t ‘spark joy.’”

Mr. Rose let out a hum. This was the moment, Patrick would realise later, that everything went wrong.

“You know, Twyla,” Mr. Rose chimed in. “That’s not a bad idea.”

“Oh no,” Patrick said.

“Well,” Twyla said.

“Oh no, not the part about you, dear,” Mr. Rose hastily reassured her. “The rest of it, though. We could all stand to get rid of a few things. Be a bit more economical.”

This was when Patrick decided to make his escape.

The store was relatively steady for the rest of the afternoon, and Patrick got further revenge on David for his tardiness by making him carry inventory out from the back. He whined about it the whole time, of course. Patrick really shouldn’t find that behaviour charming, but apparently this was his life now.

He wasn’t complaining.

“Want to get dinner?” Patrick asked.

They had closed up for the night with only minimal fuss about whose turn it was to sweep the floors. Funny how David always found something pressing in the back to do whenever it was his turn, but Patrick didn’t mind all that much, really.

“Sure,” David said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “Let me just--”

Patrick looked up when he stopped abruptly. “Everything okay?”

David was scrolling through his phone with a weird look on his face. “Uh,” he said. “I’m not sure. Alexis sent me like seventeen texts, and I can’t really make sense of any of them…”

Patrick peeked over his shoulder. He still wasn’t entirely used to dating someone taller than him, but every time he got a reminder it gave him a little thrill.

There were a lot of texts from Alexis, and most of them just said some variation of 911 or SOS. Patrick took a brief moment to be impressed that Alexis knew what SOS was before turning back to David.

“So,” he said. “I guess you should probably head back to the motel?”

“Yeah,” David replied, his attention still on his phone. “I probably should. I’ll text you later?”

“Sure,” Patrick said. “I hope everything’s okay.”

David rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably just the latest drama between her and Ted.” He didn’t sound entirely convinced, and Patrick wasn’t either. Still.

David leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the lips before heading in the direction of the motel.

With nothing better to do, Patrick made his way across the street to the Cafe. Twyla was behind the counter, and there were a number of townspeople sitting at tables. Patrick spared a brief moment to wonder if Twyla ever got any time off, before he spotted Stevie sitting in one of the booths.

“Mind if I join you?” Patrick asked.

Stevie looked up at him. Patrick physically restrained himself from taking a step back at the look on her face. “Are you okay?”

Stevie waved a hand in front of her, and Patrick slid in across from her. “Long day,” she said.

“Uh, yeah,” Patrick said. “David got a bunch of texts from Alexis.”

Stevie snorted. “I bet.”

“D’you feel like filling me in, champ?” Patrick asked.

“Champ?”

“I was trying it out,” Patrick said. “I regret it. Won’t do it again.”

Stevie nodded. “That’s for the best.” She took a long sip from the beer in front of her.

“So?” Patrick said. “What the fuck is going on?”

Stevie dropped her head into her hands. “I don’t even know. Mr. Rose came back after lunch and started talking about getting rid of things and the next thing I knew Mrs. Rose was screaming about how he would never take away her babies.”

“Well, I don’t think Mr. Rose was suggesting they get rid of David and Alexis.”

“I’m pretty sure she was talking about her wigs.”

“Ah,” Patrick said. “That makes more sense, actually.”

Stevie tipped her beer in his direction.

Patrick flagged Twyla down and ordered a beer of his own. It sounded as though he probably wouldn’t be hearing from David tonight after all.

After a few beers Patrick stumbled home, more than a little bit tipsy, and googled for about ten minutes before he finally came across the show that was behind all this drama.

“I’m not sure how something so sweet could cause so many people to freak out,” he said out loud after watching a couple episodes. It wasn’t a bad idea, really.

The next morning David stumbled into the shop only fifteen minutes late, a new record. He was wearing his sunglasses with the wide white frames, a white sweatshirt with big embroidered roses on the sleeves, and tight black pants.

Patrick took a moment to admire his ass as he walked around the cash register.

“Hi,” he said.

David dramatically flung himself over the counter.

“Everything okay, there?” Patrick asked, smiling down at him.

“No,” David moaned, and then didn’t elaborate.

“Alright,” Patrick said. “Well, have fun with that.” He slid out from behind David, squeezing his hips as he passed, and started restocking their front table.

“It’s just that my dad has literally lost his mind,” David said, standing up.

“Is this about the Tidying Up show?” Patrick asked.

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

“The purging thing.”

David stared at him. “Okay,” he said. “I don’t know how you know about that. Are you like in on it?”

“What? No. David, why would I be in on it?”

“I don’t know! You knew what it was?”

“First of all,” Patrick said, “I was at the Cafe when Twyla first mentioned it, and second of all, I saw Stevie last night after you left. She was pretty shaken up.”

David winced. “I know. I got several angry texts from her. And she wasn’t the only one. I had to listen to my mom and Alexis go on and on about how my dad wants them to get rid of all their stuff, like we ever would.”

Patrick didn’t say anything in response, but his face must have done the talking for him.

“What?” David asked.

“It’s just… I watched part of that show last night.”

“What show?”

“The one that--you know what, nevermind. I just think your dad might have a point.”

“Et tu, Brute?”

“What?” Patrick asked, laughing. “There can be a certain amount of value in purging your belongings every so often.”

David stared at him.

“These are my things, Patrick.”

“I know.”

“My things.”

Patrick walked slowly until he was right next to David and put his hands on his hips. “I know that, David. Listen, why don’t we just try it, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to get rid of anything.”

“Well, I won’t.”

Patrick hummed and dropped it. They spent a mostly quiet but steady day at the store. Patrick was happy with the traction they were getting, and if things continued they’d probably be a sustainable business within the year.

After they locked up, Patrick took David’s hand and led them in the direction of the motel.

“I know what you’re doing,” David told him.

“What am I doing?” Patrick asked innocently.

David just looked at him, unimpressed.

Patrick didn’t say anything and they walked in silence until they made it back to the motel. Some people might have been surprised to hear that David and Patrick spent a lot of time together in amicable silence, but it didn’t surprise Patrick. David was incredibly introspective, and of the two of them, Patrick was much more extroverted.

He liked that he got to see the quieter side of David he held back from others. That David trusted him with it.

However, that didn’t mean he was above pushing every single one of his boyfriend’s buttons, given half the chance.

Back at the motel, Patrick didn’t bother raising the topic again. It was obvious from the tense set of David’s shoulders that he hadn’t forgotten their earlier conversation any more than Patrick had. Patrick took his hand, and led them both over to the closet. “Come on,” he said. “It’ll be fun.”

David made a truly incredulous face.

Patrick opened the closet. “Wow.”

“What,” David said, sounding defensive.

“It’s just. I hadn’t seen inside your closet before, and I’m actually a little bit afraid right now.”

David put his hands on his hips.

“Is this all yours?”

“Okay, you’re being a little judgey right now,” David said.

“I’m not!”

“I’m feeling judged.”

Patrick stepped into the closet. He wasn’t entirely sure why a motel room had a walk-in closet to begin with, but he supposed with the Roses involved, he shouldn’t have been surprised.

“I could get lost in here,” Patrick said.

“You’re not funny!” David told him.

“How do you find anything?”

“I have a system,” David said.

“A system.”

“Yes.”

“Would you care to share it with me?”

“I’m trying to decide if you deserve to know.”

Patrick stuck his head out of the closet (and if that wasn’t a huge metaphor for his relationship with David, he wasn’t sure what was).

“If I deserve to know?”

“Yes.”

“Alright, well tell me what I have to do to earn knowledge of the secret ways.”

“I’m just not feeling very supported right now,” David said. “You don’t know what my day yesterday was like. I think I can still hear my mother’s voice ringing in my ears.”

Patrick laughed at him. He looked around feeling awed. It was true he hardly saw David wear the same piece of clothing twice, but somehow that had not prepared him for all… this.

“Listen, Patrick, can you please come out of the closet?”

Patrick poked his head out, and the two of them made eye contact.

“I thought I already did,” he said.

“Ha ha, you’re very funny,” David said. “I’m just feeling a lot of pressure right now, and I don’t like it.”

“Do you think you’re going to make it?” Patrick asked him.

“Okay,” David said. “I know you think you’re being cute--”

“I am being cute,” Patrick said. He took David’s hand and pulled him back into the closet. He pulled a shirt at random off the hanger. “Like this,” he said. “I’ve never seen you wear this before.”

“I wear it all the time,” David said.

“Oh yeah? When was the last time you wore it?”

David snatched the hanger from his hand and put it back on the rack. “I can’t recall at the moment, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

“It doesn’t? Okay, well...” he browsed through David’s shirts, pulling out another one he’d never seen before. “What about this one?”

“Well, that one I got in Budapest when I went with Alexis. Well actually, I was supposed to go with Alexis, but she got invited to go… somewhere with Stavros at the last minute, so I went by myself and found all the most amazing boutiques.”

Patrick stared at him.

“What?” David asked, defensively. “It has sentimental value.”

“Sentimental value for the time your sister abandoned you in Hungary?”

“That happened more often than you’d think,” David said.

“Okay, I’m going to put this in the maybe pile,” Patrick said.

“You’re going to put it right back where it belongs,” David said, snatching it out of Patrick’s hands and putting it back.

Patrick sighed. “Okay, well what about this?” he asked, holding out another shirt for David to look at.

“I wear that all the time.”

Patrick looked down at the neon orange mesh shirt he was holding. “Really?”

“Yes,” David said, doing his little head shimmy that Patrick loved so much.

“So you wouldn’t mind putting it on right now for me?”

David stared at the shirt in Patrick’s hands. He looked back up at Patrick. Looked down at the shirt. Looked back up at Patrick.

Patrick raised an eyebrow.

“Fine,” David said. “Fine, of course I don’t mind putting it on for you. Why would I?”

“I can’t think of any reason,” Patrick said. “Not unless you didn’t like it anymore?”

“No,” David said. “No, I love it. I love it so much, so I’m just… going… to… put… it… on.”

“Great,” Patrick said.

“Great,” David said. “Can I get some privacy?”

“David, come on.”

“What?” David asked. “Can I not change without you literally staring me down?”

“I’ve seen you in less.”

“That is beside the point.”

Patrick huffed, but walked out of the closet. David shut the door behind him.

“You’re being ridiculous,” Patrick said.

“No, this scheme of yours is ridiculous.”

Patrick waited. Then he waited a little bit longer. Then a little bit longer after that.

“Are you going to come out?” Patrick finally asked.

“I did when I was fourteen,” David called through the door. “Although I think most people suspected before that.”

“Shut up and open the door,” Patrick said.

David opened the door.

Patrick opened his mouth. Nothing came out.

David looked up at the ceiling, refusing to meet Patrick’s gaze.

“Listen,” David said, still not looking at Patrick. “The early 2000s were a time, okay? Everyone was dressing like this. I really don’t think you should be judging me right now, because you have like three different shirts, and I think they’re just different colours of the same one, and would you please just say something right now, the silence is making me feel really self conscious.”

“Uh,” Patrick said. “You look, really…”

“I know, ridiculous, okay? You made your point, you don’t have to rub it in.”

“I was going to say hot.” Patrick finally forced the words out past the block in his throat.

“I just haven’t been able to get rid of it because--wait what?”

“I said you look hot,” Patrick said. He walked up to David, putting his hands on David’s lower belly, feeling the fabric underneath his palm and just a hint of David’s bare skin where it was exposed.

“Okay, I was not expecting that.”

Patrick looked up at him, unsure how to articulate how he was feeling. David did look hot, the bright colour contrasting against his skin, fabric stretching across his shoulders. He looked really good, and he looked really fucking gay.

Patrick never got to be a part of the gay scene. He never even joined his university’s LGBTQ groups, never feeling like he was a part of the community. He never got to look at guys dressed like David was now, or even the way David dressed on a normal Wednesday. Part of him probably always knew as soon as he stepped even one foot out of the closet he’d never get himself back in there, and so he never had. He was never part of it.

He knew that every choice he’d made in his life had led him here to Schitt’s Creek and to David, and he wouldn’t change any of that for the world, but sometimes he felt a little… left behind. Like he’d missed out on being a part of something bigger than himself. It made him a little bit sad, if he let himself think about it too long, so he mostly didn’t think about it, but seeing David now, dressed like that, it hit home.

Patrick shrugged, smiling a little. “What can I say?” he asked. “I guess you can make anything look good.”

David smiled at him, and Patrick thought he probably knew there was something more going on, but he didn’t push. Patrick loved him so much.

“So,” David said, drawing out the word. “It’s a keeper, then?”

“Sure,” Patrick said. “Yes, definitely.”

They continued going through more items in David’s closet, but he seemed to have a story for every article of clothing, and the rest he really did wear, Patrick had to give him that.

“I have more than three shirts, you know,” Patrick said when they’d probably gone through twenty or thirty of David’s.

“Oh, yeah?” David asked. “I mean, it’s gotta be at least five, right? Enough to get you through the work week in your cute little button ups.” He tugged on Patrick’s collar.

“I have more than five,” he said. But the truth was, it probably wasn’t a lot more. There was a reason why closet space in his new apartment wasn’t really an issue. Throw in a few t-shirts he still had from university, and that nearly rounded out his entire wardrobe.

“And what’s wrong with my button ups?” he asked, looking down at the button up shirt he was currently wearing. It was a plain pale blue colour.

David paused where he was bent over going through his closet. He put one hand on his hip as he surveyed Patrick.

“Nothing,” David said.

Patrick looked at him.

“Nothing!” David said again. “They’re adorably butch.”

“Well, what exactly should I be wearing instead?” he asked.

He meant the words to come out sarcastic and snarky, but the moment they left his lips he saw David’s eyes light up. There wasn’t going to be any going back now.

“Hm,” David said, considering. He flipped through a few of his shirts before holding one up to Patrick’s chest. “What do you think of this?”

The shirt was one of David’s less flashier ones, made from a white flowy material, that--when Patrick reached out to touch it--felt incredibly soft. There was a small dotted pattern that Patrick thought he could live with.

“It’s nice?” he said.

“Nice?” David asked.

“Uh,” Patrick said, not sure what else David was looking for.

“Well it cost sixteen hundred dollars, so I’d hope it was a little more than nice.”

Patrick choked. “Sixteen--”

“Put it on,” David ordered, cutting him off before he could finish his incredulity.

Patrick motioned for David to step aside so he could get changed, but he remained motionless. Patrick thought about fighting him on it, before sighing and beginning to undo his buttons. David watched him for a moment before stepping up and placing his hands over Patrick’s and undoing the buttons one by one.

“There is one good thing about these shirts,” David said, running his hands over Patrick’s stomach.

His abs jumped at the contact, and David slid his hands up to Patrick’s shoulders and pushed the shirt off. Patrick shook his arms free and David held out the new shirt for him to try on.

The fabric was just as soft against his chest when he tried it on.

“Well,” Patrick asked, looking down at himself. “How does it look?”

David stepped back, surveying Patrick. He bit down on a smile.

“It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?” Patrick asked.

David shook his head.

Patrick stepped around him to look at himself in the mirror. It did look ridiculous, but only in that it was totally outside of Patrick’s comfort zone. David was taller, although a little less broad in the shoulders, so it didn’t exactly fit right, but it was passable. Patrick’s favourite thing ever? No. Something he’d wear out in public? Probably not.

But it felt really nice against his skin, and it was pretty.

“You hate it,” David said.

“Surprisingly… no,” Patrick told him. He ran his palm down the front of the shirt, enjoying the way it felt. When he looked back up at David his eyes were bright. “You want me to try on something else, don’t you?”

“I really do,” David said.

Patrick sighed. “Fine.” It came out a lot less long suffering than he wanted.

David dressed him in a seemingly endless stream of outfits that ranged from things he thought Patrick would like, to a couple different things Patrick swore he just wanted to laugh at.

“Okay, okay,” David said, giving into giggles.

He had put Patrick in a gold shirt that had a metallic shimmer to it. It was probably two sizes too small, stretched tight across Patrick’s shoulders. It said ‘bitch’ in cursive writing. It was something David could pull it off but it just looked like a costume on Patrick. Like he was just pretending to be someone he wasn’t.

“I’m taking this off,” he said quickly, not meeting David’s eyes.

David didn’t protest, just turned his back on Patrick as he shuffled through his closet. Perhaps he sensed that Patrick needed a moment to put him back together.

“Okay,” David said. “Put this on.”

He held up a button up shirt, and Patrick laughed. “I guess if it works, it works,” he said. “Stick with what you know?”

It was light grey, and just as soft as the first shirt Patrick had tried on, but without any of the frills. There was a light blue pinstripe, and an embroidered rose over the left breast. It was really, really nice.

“That actually looks better on you than it does on me,” David told him once he had it on.

Patrick didn’t know about that. David made everything look good, but he did like the way it felt against his skin.

“Keep it,” David said.

“Are you sure?” Patrick asked, running his palm over the rose.

David leaned in and gave him a brief kiss on the cheek. “Definitely.”

Patrick nodded. “Sure,” he said. “Thanks.”

“Last thing,” David said. “I just have to see that ass in a skirt.”

“What?” Patrick asked. “David, no. I’ll look ridiculous.”

“Um,” David said. “Have you seen your ass?”

Patrick automatically twisted around, trying to get a glimpse of his own ass. “I didn’t think it was anything special?”

“Oh honey,” David said.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering to argue with me when we both know you’re just going to give in anyway.”

Patrick opened his mouth to say that they did not know that, thank you very much, but instead he just let all the breath rush out of him in a deep sigh. “Fine,” he said.

David handed him the skirt, and Patrick unzipped his jeans, pushing them down his hips and stepping out of them.

His boxers weren’t going to look good underneath the skirt, but the other option was taking them off as well, and the last time Patrick had been naked at the motel was a bit of a traumatic experience he wasn’t exactly looking to repeat.

He stepped into the circle of the skirt, somehow feeling far more exposed than if he were actually naked. It was a bit of a tight fit, as David was slightly slimmer at the waist than Patrick was, but he was able to get it over his hips and fastened.

Patrick had tried for such a long time to never end up in a situation like this. He played sports. Wore plain, sensible clothes. He dated women. He had tried so fucking hard to never do anything--be anything--that someone could say wasn’t normal.

That someone could look at and think gay.

He took a slow, steading breath and tried to evaluate.

It felt nice. Not so nice that he’d be showing up at work tomorrow in one, but nice against his skin, like so many of the clothes David had made him try on. He looked down at himself, feeling too shy to turn around and see David’s expression or look at himself in the mirror.

His legs looked the same as they always did in shorts, which was to say stocky and just a little bit too short. He felt… something. He wasn’t sure what he felt, except that it was a lot.

“Are you going to turn around so I can see you?” David asked.

“I’m thinking about it,” Patrick said.

David was shockingly quiet, giving Patrick the time he needed to process. When he finally did turn, he caught David staring blatantly at his ass, and had to laugh.

“What?” David asked.

Patrick couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped. “Nothing,” he said, feeling terribly fond. “How do I look?”

David rested his chin in his hand as he surveyed Patrick slowly. “Hot,” he said.

Patrick ducked his head.

“What, I’m serious,” David said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love your straight cut jeans, but this is--” he paused, giving Patrick an obvious once over. “--Really working for me too.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Patrick said, but he stepped around him to look at himself in the mirror.

He looked like himself. It was jarring, in a way. He felt so different, shouldn’t he look different too? It felt not unlike the first time he had admitted to himself he was gay. His whole world had been turned upside down at the knowledge. How could everything still look the same from the outside?

“You okay?” David asked softly.

Patrick nodded. His throat felt tight enough that he didn’t quite trust himself to speak.

“You know,” David said, stepping up behind Patrick. He wrapped his arm around Patrick’s shoulders, drawing him back into the comforting warmth of David’s body. “I never came out to anyone in my family.”

Patrick turned his head to look at David.

“Not directly. There wasn’t any conversation. Part of that was just,” he gestured wildly with his other hand, “My family, being my family.”

Patrick snorted. It came out a little sniffly.

“But part of it was everything about me, you know. There was more drama the first time I got caught with a girl. My dad sat me down and we had the most awkward conversation about not having to hide who I was, yadda yadda.” He rolled his eyes.

“I’ve been called fag more times than I could possibly ever remember. And not--shockingly enough--always with affection.”

Patrick and his friends used to say that sometimes. Mostly when they were a lot younger, but one or two of his buddies back home would still let it slip from time to time. It hurt every time he heard it, and he burned with shame thinking about how he’d said those things.

“You’d think I had it harder, maybe,” David said. He hugged Patrick a little bit tighter, and Patrick blinked steadily. “Maybe not, though.”

Patrick tilted his head back so he could rest it on David’s shoulder, and David pressed a kiss to his temple.

“Do you want me to model some of my clothes for you now?”

“Yes please,” Patrick said.

David ended up trying on fifteen or twenty outfits before the two of them got bored and ended up sprawled on the tiny twin bed. Patrick had his head resting on David’s chest, and David was running one hand soothingly up and down Patrick’s spine.

“That wasn’t so bad,” David mused.

Patrick refrained from pointing out that besides the one shirt he had given to Patrick he hadn’t gotten rid of anything. David seemed to have a story or a memory for every article he’d tried on. Patrick wasn’t going to be the one to take any of that away from him.

Patrick swung one leg over David’s hips, the movement freer than it might have been considering Patrick was still wearing David’s skirt.

David reached down and ran his hand along the exposed bit of Patrick’s thigh, just above the knee where the fabric had ridden up a little. Patrick shivered.

“Not so bad,” he agreed belatedly.

David’s hand slid further up Patrick’s thigh.

-

Forty-five minutes later when Alexis twirled into the motel room to find Patrick wearing only the skirt and passed out against David’s naked chest, Patrick was forcibly reminded why they didn’t do this here.

“David, ew!”

“What happened to the sink in the store bathroom, Alexis?” David asked, struggling to sit up.

Alexis let out a groan, and turned on her heel slamming the bathroom door behind her.

“I don’t know how many more times we’re going to be able to use that against her if we keep this up,” Patrick said, feeling less embarrassed than he would have thought. He stretched, feeling warm and happy.

“I think we have a few uses left in it at least,” David said darkly.

They got dressed, David for bed and Patrick to head back to his apartment. Alexis stayed in the bathroom, clearly giving them a wide berth.

David gave him a kiss at the door.

“Are you going to wear the gold top to work tomorrow?”

“It doesn’t quite fit my new brand as a responsible yet elegantly creative small business owner,” David said, “But I think I’ve demonstrated it has other uses.”

Patrick laughed, unable to argue with David’s logic.

“But thank you for reminding me about the grey bird sweater, I’ll incorporate that into a look for this week,” David said.

“Hey,” Patrick said as he stepped outside, just before David closed the door.

He wouldn’t get the reference, but Patrick figured he might appreciate the sentiment. “You spark joy in me, David.”

David gave him a slightly puzzled look, but it melted quickly into the bright, happy, slightly-overwhelmed look he got whenever Patrick gave him a compliment.

“Good night, Patrick.”

“Good night, David,” he said, and decided he wouldn’t care if David showed up an hour late to work tomorrow.