Chapter 1: Offended
Honeymoon fluffy moment
David is playing with Patrick’s wedding ring, an extension of his pre-existing nervous habit which makes Patrick feel stupidly pleased at being included. It’s the fourth day of their honeymoon and they’re curled together on top of the sheets, watching the sunset through the open doors to their balcony.
David’s body shakes, and Patrick glances down to find his husband smirking.
“What?” he grins, nudging David.
David shakes his head, smoothing a hand over Patrick’s ribs. “I was just remembering when we first met. I don’t know if I ever told you, but I was really offended.”
“Offended?” he repeats, not surprised but wanting to hear David tell it.
“Mmhmm. I was convinced you’d denigrated my business plan and spent the whole meeting trolling me. Fortunately Stevie talked me off that ledge.”
“Thank goodness for Stevie,” Patrick agrees, as seriously as he can manage. “Who knows what might’ve happened otherwise. No business plan, no store, no us.”
David shudders and latches onto one of the buttons of Patrick’s shirt, like he needs to know Patrick is there but trusts him to stay. “Let’s not even think about it.”
“Just for the record, though,” Patrick says, rubbing a hand soothingly over David’s shoulders, “I did spend the whole meeting trolling you. Your business plan was good but your delivery…left something to be desired.”
It’s a mark of David’s comfort in their relationship that he just snorts and doesn’t rear up in indignation. “So you decided the best way to handle a new, inexperienced, insecure entrepreneur was to tear them down?”
“C’mon, I knew you could take it,” Patrick chuckles. “I was just goading you to get you to fully express your ideas. It didn’t do any real damage.”
“It might’ve done, if not for Stevie and a gross motel blunt,” David mutters.
Patrick is silent for a moment, and then his fingertips are on David’s cheek, tilting his head up. David inhales, struck again - for the thousandth time since meeting Patrick; for the thousandth time today - by the beauty of this man, his face rosy with the sunset. “I’m sorry if I offended you, back then,” Patrick murmurs. David isn’t sure he’d ever heard an honest apology before Patrick. “I’ve always liked messing with you, but I never meant to - I didn’t think - if it -”
“Nuh-uh, shhh,” David hushes him, shaking his head fervently. “If it had really hurt me, I’d tell you. You’re right, it did push my buttons, but…in a good way? I was used to people thinking it was funny, to insult me, to rile me up, so I didn’t understand at first why it was different with you, but it was.”
“How?” Patrick presses, genuinely curious now.
David shrugs. His lips turn down a bit in serious contemplation, but he’s not shying away. “I wasn’t a target to you. I was…you wanted me in on it, with you. You were always nice, even when you were being a dick.”
Patrick laughs with his whole body, wrapping David in his arms. “As I recall, that’s one of the first things you liked about me. That I’m nice.”
David nudges Patrick’s neck with his nose. “I always thought nice was boring, before you. I didn’t know how … personal it could be. Intimate. Powerful.”
Something significant has lodged itself in Patrick’s chest; he clears his throat and kisses the top of David’s head. “Can I go back to offending you? You must be exhausted from all this sincerity.”
David laughs against him and burrows deeper into his hold. “Sure, honey. Whatever you want.”
Chapter 2: dear diary
David purposefully doesn’t mention Patrick in his diary for weeks. It’s a habit he developed through a combination of experience (a large portion of his interactions with Alexis during their early childhood involved invasions of privacy) and superstition. If he writes about happiness or anticipation or excitement, it’s an admission that he’s invested. He’s avoided writing about the store for the same reason for a while, but once his lease is accepted, he has to write about the store in his diary just to keep himself organized.
Diane, the one therapist who had truly made him feel safe, encouraged him to be fully honest in his journaling. “If you say it there, it might make it easier to say it out loud. It’s a way to validate your own feelings.”
She’d been right, in a way; he did start saying I’m so lonely and I want to leave and Please listen out loud, but people were always too drunk or too busy to hear it. And the other stuff, the dreams and hopes - it felt too dangerous. To imagine being okay, let alone happy - it would be foolish to indulge that. He was probably always going to be miserable, and the sooner he stopped pretending otherwise, the better.
So he doesn’t mention Patrick in his diary for a while. He doesn’t mention their meeting; he tells Stevie about it, but he doesn’t include the giddy electricity of their conversation or how bizarrely genuine Patrick’s smile is. He doesn’t write about quiet mornings spent setting up the store alone and the nauseating rush he feels when Patrick shows up in the early afternoons. He doesn’t write about Patrick’s habit of humming as he wipes down the window panes. He doesn’t include their arguments over the best music for the store, a tally of the number of times Patrick has brought him lunch without being asked, or the way Patrick looks at him the day some old ladies from Elmdale show up and David indulges them and lets them look around the shop even though they’re not technically open yet. He doesn’t keep a list of potential thank-you gifts for Patrick or a summary of childhood anecdotes that seem to spill gleefully out of Patrick for no reason other than that he wants to share them with David. He definitely doesn’t write about the night he cries himself to sleep because he wants to love and be loved so badly but he’s not sure he’s capable of that.
He doesn’t write any of this in his diary, but it’s filling his mind to the point where it’s getting hard to think about anything else. After the soft opening, after Patrick hugs him for the first time, he goes back to the motel and sits on a rickety plastic chair under the light outside Stevie’s office while everyone else sleeps and writes about it, about Patrick. He emerges from a semi-fugue state an hour later and looks in dismay at the pages he’s filled. It’s too much. It’s too much to feel, to hope for, to believe.
He takes the pages behind the motel and burns them.
But then there’s another night, another community event at the store. Patrick is singing to David in front of the whole town and it’s too much, but it’s a kind of too much he could get drunk on. He lets out a wet laugh as he realizes what he’s been trying to hide from: this is no longer just a dream or a hope. He’s living this. He’s living this moment, these moments, with Patrick, instead of waiting for them to come. It’s okay to be invested in this.
That night he starts writing about Patrick in his diary. A few months ago I met this guy. He writes at the store during lulls between customers, he writes while Alexis is in the bathroom, he writes standing at the cafe waiting for their orders. He writes all of it, because he thinks that maybe even if this ends badly, he’ll want to remember. He’s never felt that way before.
Chapter 3: by sun's rise
No no no no no no no-”
“C’mon David, time to go.”
“Nooooo,” he groans into the pillow, curling into a ball to keep his ankles out of Patrick’s reach. His boyfriend is standing at the foot of the bed, dressed and smiling and smelling like convenience-store soap, and David has never hated him more.
“Anita said we have to be there at dawn for the optimal experience,” Patrick reminds him.
“Don’t care.” David curses his past self for agreeing to a series of excursions meant to enhance their relationships with vendors. “Can’t she just take a video and we’ll watch it much, much later? Like, when the sun has risen?”
The bed sinks as Patrick kneels on it, and David feels a brief rush of victory. Patrick crawls up until he can nuzzle at David’s ear.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell you this,” Patrick whispers, and David’s body unfurls instinctually, “But Anita’s been considering offering us an exclusivity deal on her chocolate-covered honeycomb.”
David’s hand shoots out to grab Patrick’s wrist with far more vigor than either of them realized he could have at 4 in the morning. “Don’t,” he breathes shakily. “Don’t tease me like that, Patrick. Anita’s honeycomb-”
Patrick kisses David’s shoulder. “Scout’s honor, babe. She seemed pretty close to deciding. Just think what showing up at her farm for her favorite part of the day would mean to her...”
David feels like he’s going to cry. It’s all so unfair. Why did he have to go on a journey of growth and self-expression in the first place? “Fine. Fine! But you’re driving, both ways, and I choose the music, and afterwards I’m going to sleep until dinnertime.”
Which is how David finds himself in a field just before sunrise, his eyes puffy, his shoes soaked through with dew, his coffee not nearly strong enough. Bless Anita for having the forethought to bring out a couple of folding chairs for them. He’s already complained enough to Patrick in the car - he could tell, from the way Patrick grew quiet and irritable, that he’d complained too much - so he sits bitterly with his circle of negative thoughts, playing them on repeat until he jerks awake with a start and nearly topples off the chair.
“Shit - oh, Patrick - The sun’s coming up-”
He gropes backwards with his free hand but encounters only empty air. Twisting, he finds Patrick’s chair empty.
“What the f-”
He’s on his feet immediately, exhaustion and annoyance forgotten. Where are Patrick and Anita? This is how horror movies start. His only weapon will be his paper cup and these folding chairs, which could make acceptable shields but will be too unwieldy, and oh god this is what he gets for compromising and letting Stevie choose the movie-
“Patrick!” he yells, and a covey of birds lift as one, startled, from the grass, spiraling away towards the sky. He turns to watch them fly towards the lightening horizon, which is when he sees him.
Striding towards him across the field, silhouetted from behind by the sunrise, is Patrick. His long coat, which David has never seen before, stirs the sparkling dew and the lingering fog.
“Oh my god,” David gasps.
Beside him, cascading piano music starts playing, and he jumps. Anita is back, holding her phone out, grinning. David laughs, because he knows what’s happening, he knows what this is.
It’s not canonical, but he leaves his coffee on the chair and walks to meet Patrick halfway. He just can’t wait.
Patrick makes an appropriately pale Mr. Darcy, though in every other way he’s hopelessly himself, smiling fondly, not dour at all. He catches David’s hands as they reach each other, nearly colliding in their eagerness.
“I couldn’t sleep,” David says, knowing his part.
“Nor I,” Patrick replies, and David nearly sobs, tilting his head back as if he can keep the tears in that way.
“ I should be Matthew Macfadyen,” he scolds, rubbing his thumb over Patrick’s knuckles. “For the height difference.”
“I know,” Patrick grins, “but I wanted to surprise you.”
He clears his throat and looks down, and David realizes Patrick is nervous - he’s seen this before, during their first date, during Singles’ Week, on Patrick’s birthday - Patrick is nervous, when he’s just pulled off a Pride and Prejudice reenactment, and David’s heart clenches in a way that reverberates to the tips of his fingers.
“David Rose,” Patrick murmurs, glancing back up at David with eyelashes glowing in the fresh dawn. “You have bewitched me, body and soul. I love you. I never wish to be parted from you, from this day on.”
“This is ridiculous,” David weeps.
Patrick begins to kneel, and David tries to keep him standing, because there’s only so much one man can take, especially on a half-night’s sleep. “You’ll get your pants all wet,” he pleads.
“That’s not your line,” Patrick teases, but he’s crying too, just a little. He releases one of David’s hands - and seems to hold the other tighter - and reaches into one pocket of his borrowed coat, withdrawing a long, black jewelry box.
“But your hands aren’t cold at all, and as much as I love everything that’s happening, I-”
He cuts off with a tearful laugh as Patrick opens the box.
“This is fucking ridiculous,” he repeats, and he wishes Patrick were already in his arms, wishes he weren’t so far away.
“David, I know I tease you a lot for all of the romantic comedies you watch, and I always say they’re not good for our relationship, but that’s a lie. Because watching all of those epic love stories with you has confirmed for me what I already felt to be true: that ours is the grandest love story of all.”
David staggers back a few steps, covering his face with both hands.
“I love you, David Rose, in the big moments and the small, and I want to share all of those moments with you for the rest of our lives. Will you-”
“ Yes ,” David says, dragging Patrick to his feet, engulfing him in a hug, covering his face in kisses. “Yes, Patrick, yes.”
“I didn’t even-”
David rolls his eyes without a trace of real irritation. “Marry me?”
Patrick laughs. “Oh, okay.”
“You can say the whole thing again later, I just want to be engaged to you already,” David whispers, and then finally Patrick is kissing him, kissing him in a golden field at sunrise, sweeter than honeycomb.