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Digging in Deep and Planting the Seeds

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It wasn't that David didn't trust Patrick. He trusted him enough to bring him on as his business partner. He trusted when Patrick said, "Oh, I'm going to get the money" (the zing he felt in that moment was inconsequential, of course). He even trusted Patrick when he requested they stock not-prestige items like plungers and dish sponges. Yes, he planned to keep them far in the back ("I'm only going to acknowledge those plungers if the customer asks for them, Patrick."), but David promised the store would stock them. So he really did feel like he was compromising with his new partner.

But this was a bridge too far.

"Absolutely not," David said as he walked out of the stockroom, box of organic rosewater face creams in his arms. There was too much to organize before launch in a week to not multitask while arguing. He was determined to organize at least a fourth of the store's opening stock before he left that night. Anyway, he knew Patrick would follow him with his retort. Like clockwork--

"Hear me out," Patrick said.

"All I know is one of us is right, and the other one is you," David snipped as he started to arrange the face creams in their new place on the left side table. 

"Come on, David. It's not that big of a deal."

Not a big deal?? He spun around to face the traitor, who had the gall to put his hands on his hips.  As if David was the one being unreasonable.

"You want us to sell manure. Manure. In this space," David said, his hands gesturing around them. For some reason, that made Patrick smile. He leaned against the register, crossing his arms. David wondered if Patrick knew how distracting his arms could be. Maybe that was why he always rolled his sleeves up at just the right spot. It felt like Patrick was playing dirty, but David couldn't exactly call him on it without admitting that it worked. Plus, Patrick probably didn't know what he was doing, and David didn't need his probably really straight business partner to know about his totally normal, not a big deal work crush.

"Will you actually listen to me?" Patrick asked. His stupid hips were still leaning against the register, making it very hard for David's gaze to stay above the waist. David shook that thought out of his mind before shrugging and waving his hand.

"Fine."

Patrick pushed his hips off their spot, taking a step toward his business partner. "One, I didn't say manure. I said gardening supplies, including soil and mulch--"

"Mulch smells, Patrick."

"Two, our customers are folks who want high quality, locally grown products. If they feel inspired by this experience and want to garden at home, we should already be offering those supplies. Locally sourced seeds, beautiful planters, handstiched garden gloves. Supplies that are themselves local, unlike at the big box stores in Elmdale."

David paused for a moment. That... did make a little sense.

"And three," Patrick said, taking much bigger step towards David, really getting in his space, "We wouldn't be keeping the supplies in here. They'd be on the little shelves outside. The fresh air will take care of the mulch smell. More importantly, any foot traffic who wants to buy this stuff will need to come inside to pay. That gives you the opportunity to introduce them to our other products, which I know you're into, and then upsell them."

He didn't know if it was Patrick's cool confidence or the extremely competent defense of his idea (or the way his forearms still pressed into his sleeves), but David was quickly coming around to this idea. He could envision selling their oatmeal-based hand cream to curious old ladies as a remedy to a hard day working in their yards. They'd comment on the charming store and ask about his inspiration for the business. Maybe they'd tell him how refreshing it is to see something unique in this little town. Maybe they'd even be adventurous and try the body milk. David smiled at the daydream before blinking back to the now. Shit, he had been quiet for a while. Patrick probably thought he was a weirdo.

David looked back at his partner, who seemed to be just be ... watching him, with a little half smile on his face. Not in judgement, but simply appreciating whatever face journey David had gone on. David wasn't sure how to take that. But then Patrick shook his head and bit his lip.

"So, uh, you like the idea after all?" Patrick asked almost shyly.

David rolled his eyes and waved his hand, hoping it looked casual and nonchalant. "I suppose that makes financial sense. Since you're the finance person, after all."

Patrick nodded pseudo solemnly, saying, "I'm glad you're allowing me to use my financial expertise, even when it clashes with your masterful esthetic."

David shrugged. "I mean, I wouldn't say it clashes. They can both be together in this space." He paused. Oh god, that sentence didn't sound as suggestive in his head.

Patrick added, "Well then, I'm glad our skillsets can be together." David's stomach zinged again. How dare it betray him.

"You know, " Patrick added, "In this space." He mimicked David's hand motions a moment ago -- he was getting way too good at that impression. David should have been annoyed at the teasing, or relieved at the joke cutting the tension. But the zing remained zingy in his stomach. This was just a work crush -- it wasn't supposed to feel this intense. He was supposed to keep it under control. But with Patrick looking slightly up at him with fondness in his eyes, David's stupid brain started wondering how very straight Patrick really was.

"So!" David said in a slightly high tone than normal, "I'm going to call the Anderson farm and see if they're up for selling their soil or whatever. That florist I talked to last week might be up for getting us some potted flowers, too." Patrick stepped back to let him get by. David hadn't realized they were still standing so close until that moment.

David walked (escaped) to the backroom office before he did something stupid. Of course, he didn't see the look on Patrick's face, his gaze lingering on David's back and shoulders and ass while he still could before David passed the curtain.