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The first thing that David becomes aware of — unfortunately — is the absolute god awful thread count of the sheets. He can’t tell the exact thread count of them from touch alone, but he can feel the obvious cheap quality of them brushing up against his bare (ew) calves. The second thing he notices is that he doesn’t have the appropriate amount of energy to shudder at that horrifying realization like he really deserves to. Let it be known that David Rose has never been too tired to be as dramatic as possible in any given situation, so this is more than a little alarming.

This is hardly the first time he’s woken up not knowing where he is or where he even went to sleep in the first place. But he really did think these days were long since behind him. Along with the lifestyle and everything else he’d thought mattered to him.

David doesn’t know what’s going on, and generally speaking, that’s not exactly the state of existence he prefers. The reminder only heightens the confusion and anxiety that has been building in his chest since the moment he woke up.

This is ridiculous.

David takes a steadying breath, and despite how shaky it is, it makes him feel better. He might be in an unfamiliar bed, but David’s hardly the same man he was when he first moved to Schitt’s Creek.

If he’s being honest, his life feels very firmly divided between two points: before Schitt’s Creek, and after.

Before the best thing that ever happened to him and after.

Before Patrick and after Patrick.

Oh. Patrick.

Where is he?

While he always rolled his eyes at the way Stevie liked to tease him about them being joined at the hip, he knew she really wasn't that far off the mark. The discontent that goes through him when he died immediately sense his fiancé close by is enough for him to find it within himself to finally open his eyes.

David didn't even realize they were closed.

David's vision is even more blurry than usual, but as he scans the room he finds himself smiling despite that. He breathes out a sigh of relief once he spots him; he could make out the shape of a sleeping Patrick anywhere.

David makes a soft noise once his vision clears. The exhaustion that lies so plainly in Patrick’s form is practically screaming at him from across the room. His hair, that’s been growing out in the weeks since getting his wisdom teeth removed (and the extremely traumatic conversation that followed) is rumpled and pressed against the side of his head. A few years ago, the sight alone would have made David cringe, to see a partner so far removed from the masks they put on every morning. It does help, David thinks, that Patrick doesn’t really have any masks to speak of.

At least not anymore.

David does love this now, though. Loves it with Patrick, a man he knows he can be completely himself around. The fact that he’s here right now places what has to be the thousandth seal on that particular deal. David’s so full of fondness for this wonderful, loving man that it’s hard to breathe, for just a moment. How tired Patrick actually is becomes even more obvious once David takes stock of the man’s face.

The bags under his eyes are stark, stained a vibrant purple-blue that almost glitters under the cast of dimmed lights in the room. His head is propped up against one of his hands (that is, also, unsurprisingly bent into an uncomfortable position) which means he’ll no doubt wake up with a crick in his neck. The fingernails pressing into the weariness of his cheeks are bitten shorter than Patrick prefers, and a sinking coal of worry rises in David’s throat.

Anyone looking at Patrick can clearly see he hasn’t been taking care of himself.

If there’s anything Patrick Brewer is good at, it’s taking care of himself. And everyone else around him.

The thought makes something vibrate painfully inside his ribcage. He pushes that aside, though, allowing his gaze to wander, more for a distraction than anything else. Now that he’s expanded his momentary tunnel vision, it becomes very clear very fast that David, for some fucking reason, is in the hospital.

In a hospital room.

In a hospital bed.

Which, you know what? Actually explains the horrifying thread count.

David’s in the hospital — for, again, some unknown reason — and Patrick’s here, looking out of sorts and so extremely far removed from the unflappable man David first fell for.

He’s been worried, David realizes.

(Of course, he’s been worried. Why else would he stop taking care of himself?)

David loves him. God help him, he loves him so much, even when Patrick’s being a sentimental idiot who hasn’t left the room since David got here.

Oh.

David’s heart clenches, knowing as soon as the thought stutters itself into existence that it must be true. Patrick wouldn’t want to leave him. He’s proven that to David by now, again and again. He proves it with such unfailing determination that David hardly bothers to even doubt it anymore.

It’s a fact, that’s all.

It doesn’t take long for David’s eyes to stray back over to Patrick’s form. He’s glad he did, really, because it’s only once he’s two-thirds of the way through his second once over that he’s finally able to register it. His gaze falters, breath stuttering out of him in such a dizzying rush he has to grab the bed rail in support.

David may already be laying down, but he very well needs it.

The sweater hanging off of Patrick’s frame is what makes him pause.

It’s David’s.

For a scant handful of seconds, he’s not sure if what he’s feeling is positive or negative. Usually, anyone in his clothes — other than Stevie, since that’s under contract at this point, and as loathe as he is to admit it, some of his pieces do look quite nice on her — sends him into a ferocity that is only paralleled by the human-shaped horror he morphs into during New York Fashion Week.

But, before the disgust can really settle, David notes just how good Patrick looks in it despite all that. The fact that it’s one of the older ones David wears to sleep in the winter only makes the fondness growing in his heart blossom to new life. Knowing that Patrick chose one that David’s a little more agreeable to being worn into oblivion is almost too much for him to bear right now. David’s not sure what kind of noise he makes as he lays there, eyes fixed on his beautiful and stupidly self-sacrificing fiancé, but it’s most definitely the loudest sound in the room.

Patrick jerks awake between one breath and the next.

The bags under his eyes are even worse than David thought, deep enough they look like they ache. David’s hand aches for the goat’s milk eye cream he has stashed away in the back room at their store — he is nothing if not invested in the elasticity of his fiancé’s skin — but that hardly seems important right now.

As soon as Patrick’s gaze rests on David watching him, wide awake in bed, he’s out of his chair in an instant. Patrick makes a noise not unlike a wounded animal, surging forward so one of his hands settles into David’s hair. He can only assume it’s morphed into the world’s most unkempt bird’s nest but thankfully manages to keep that worry to himself. Patrick’s other hand comes to frame the soft line of his jaw, touch so soft it’s almost as if he’s afraid to make contact.

His hand has never felt so clammy before. Not even when he’d gotten down on one knee in front of David with his heart on his sleeve. Whatever it is that happened, it did more than scare Patrick.

It terrified him.

David still leans into the touch, though, for once not concerned with the miserable state of his pores.

(It’s not like anything could make them worse, probably.)

David,” Patrick whispers, tone reverent and far too much. David’s skin prickles uncomfortably from the depth that rests in his voice. It’s still not enough to make him even consider pulling away, which as far as he’s concerned feels a lot like character growth for him. “You’re awake.”

David wants to say something teasingly biting to lighten the mood, but the words flake into ash in his mouth and he chokes on them. He’s only now becoming aware of how dry his throat is, which sends him into a pitiful coughing fit that sounds about as painful as it is. His cheeks flame despite himself, though he knows he has nothing to be embarrassed about. Even if he's pretty sure his sudden bashfulness is from being emotionally vulnerable after waking up in a hospital.

“Hold on, David,” Patrick tells him, voice sweet as he gives one last parting stroke to David’s hair. His touch disappears as he crosses the room, and David can’t be held responsible for the whine he makes when they’re no longer touching. Patrick moves quickly, to his credit, grabbing one of the clear cups off the counter to fill with water. David hadn’t even noticed the pitcher resting on his bedside table.

Patrick’s hands are on him again within seconds. David sinks into his touch even as Patrick’s other hand brings the cup to his lips. He has to roll his eyes, and normally he’d put up more of a fight, but his throat is very dry, and he’s tired of fighting.

Maybe there’s a faint whisper of the idea that Patrick might need to do this for him. Maybe, just a little, maybe David needs this, too.

So, David lets him.

“There you go,” Patrick coos, under his breath. David doubts he even realizes he’s said it, and he dutifully takes a sip without much prompting.

The cool water is, without a doubt, the best fucking thing he’s ever had in his mouth, so much so that he feels like he could cry right now if he really wanted to. He’d be more embarrassed about being so pathetic if he weren’t literally laid up in a hospital, though. His reactions might actually be normal. For once.

David has no idea what’s wrong, and he can’t even find it in himself to care all that much right now. Patrick’s here. Patrick’s taking care of him like they always take care of each other.

Everything’s okay.

It has to be.

“Hi,” David croaks, as soon as his throat’s cleared enough. His voice is still hardly recognizable, but at least this time it comes out as a recognizable word.

Patrick rewards him with a gentle hand in his hair. “Hey, handsome,” Patrick greets him, fond, which causes him to grimace. There is absolutely nothing attractive or ‘handsome’ about him right now, but he appreciates Patrick’s dedication to complimenting him. “How are you feeling?”

“Stale,” David replies.

Patrick’s laugh is incredulous, never one to be bashful or shy with finding David and his antics ridiculous, even — especially - in moments like this. It’s one of the things that solidified his feelings for Patrick in the first place; Patrick’s teasing was the blanket of warmth he never knew he wanted to wrap himself in. Teasing with Patrick never felt like teasing. It felt like sharing a joke. A joke that’s never felt like anything other than love.

Ugh.

Thank God he didn’t say that out loud.

David has the distinct impression he should be in more pain than he is. he’s been trying to lean more into his emotions, sure, but this distinctly feels like the soppy-induced feelings of some really divine painkillers.

Which brings him back to what should be the most important question on his mind, probably.

What even happened?

“I’m just glad you’re awake, David.”

That makes him pause again.

David can’t put his finger on it, but there’s something about the way the words fall from Patrick’s lips that makes him think he should probably — definitely — ask about this.

“Why wouldn’t I be awake?” David asks. Patrick falls into an uncomfortable silence at the question, averting his gaze to the swell of David’s cheekbones rather than holding his gaze. Yeah, okay. They definitely need to talk about this, don’t they? “How long was I, um, unconscious for, exactly?”

The silence doesn’t last as long this time, but the pool of pain in Patrick’s expression is entirely unexpected.

Patrick sighs. “Two days.”

What?!” David hisses, voice cracking in disbelief.

David doesn’t know why this stings.

This is hardly the only time in David’s life he can’t remember or wasn’t entirely present for. In fact, this barely fucking scratches the already scratched surface. He’d spent a good portion of the late nineties and early two-thousands in various states of inebriation. He doesn’t recall a single memory from the last six months of 2004, and frankly, doesn’t really care to. In comparison, losing two days is basically child’s play.

But it still hits David hard.

Two days away from Patrick.

Two days away from their store, and his annoying (but wonderful) cafe meals with his family and Stevie.

It’s not really surprising. Back then, time spent didn’t really rank all that high on things David Rose held close to his chest.

Sometime during David’s spiral, Patrick placed the cup of water on his bedside table, one of his hands wrapping around David’s own so he can squeeze it. It’s a move that Patrick has perfected over the course of their relationship, a move he knows grounds David. David never thought he’d be so grateful to have found someone who cares enough to remember something like this, but he is.

That seems to be a running theme with Patrick.

“Yeah,” Patrick replies, voice thick. “What do you remember? Anything at all?”

David shakes his head. “No. I don’t remember anything,” he admits. “Oh. Oh fuck. Patrick, is my memory broken or something? Why can’t I remember anything about what happened? I didn’t think I would have to deal with this until I was plagued with graying hair and sagging skin! This is some kind of specific punishment from a past life, isn’t it? Can I go back to sleep? I don’t want to deal with this.”

His voice is shrill and panicked, catastrophizing in a way on David Rose can.

He looks over at Patrick only to be met with the smirking face of his fiancé.

“David,” he replies, exasperated but fond. “Your memory isn’t broken. It’s fine, okay? It’s normal to have confusion and temporary memory loss with head injuries.”

David freezes. “Head…injuries?”

Patrick sighs, looking torn. “David…”

“I can handle it,” David promises him.

“Can I kiss you?” He blurts, which is not at all what David was expecting. Patrick apparently hadn’t either, considering the look on his face, which is even more surprised than David feels. “I’ll explain everything, but I just… David, I really need to kiss you right now. If that’s okay.”

David tells himself surging forward to kiss Patrick right away like he wants to is incorrect.

“Um, you know, usually I wouldn’t mind that at all but I have, like, the world’s worst case of hospital breath right now, right?”

Patrick doesn’t look fazed, if anything the only decipherable emotion playing on his face right now is fondness. Which is perplexing.

“I don’t care.”

David grimaces. He, unfortunately, is well aware Patrick means every word. He wants to put up more of a protest, but his heart isn't in it at all; there's truly nothing more right now that David would like to do. He nods.

“Come here,” he whispers.

Patrick’s closing the distance between them in an instant, and the noise David lets out once their lips finally connect seems uncomfortably close to a sob. It’s the kiss of a desperate man, of a man who has been starving for exactly this, this easy intimacy of touch. Of David’s touch. David returns the kiss as much as he’s able, surging forward to meet Patrick halfway, though he doesn’t get very far. David’s body, though drugged, is still exhausted, so they both pull away with a huff of laughter at his failure. David also really does have hospital breath, which is probably the real reason, even if Patrick will never admit it.

You really can only endure that for so long, no matter how in love with someone you are.

“Mm. That was nice,” David sighs. He sinks back into the pillows behind him with a hiss, head clunking on the pillows. They're harder than he expects, so it's not really the smartest call. He doesn't have much time to consider that thought before a bright, searing pain laced down the back of his skull to wind around his spine. “Fuck.

Patrick’s hands cradle his face, gently, his concerned expression popping into view above David like an unfortunate shot from a TV show. Which is, as one could assume, incorrect.

It’s Patrick, though, so David lets it slide.

“Please don’t do that again,” Patrick teases him, gently. David cuts him a look but otherwise doesn’t comment. It should be obvious he has no plans on doing that again any time soon, but Patrick is sweet in his worry, so it’s remarkably less annoying. It barely even registers on the ‘David-Rose’s-Annoyance’ scale. “You hit your head pretty hard. The doctor said it’s going to be tender for a bit while it heals.”

David makes a face. “Oh, um, okay. That tracks. Now that you mention it, it does kind of feel like Paris Hilton rave bouncing around in my skull. Which is about fifty percent worse than you already think it is.”

Patrick doesn’t laugh. David attributes that to David being stuck in a hospital bed rather than any true reflection of his sense of humor, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling a little smug about the small twitch of his mouth. David is proud enough to admit he takes that as a win.

“I’m going to jump out on a limb here and say that’s not the most pleasant feeling.”

“Not even a little bit,” David confirms, honestly a little dizzy. “Would you mind filling me in now? I’m feeling a little lightheaded from all of the horrifying possibilities that keep assaulting me.”

“Oh, yeah,” Patrick says. He sighs, takes a deep breath, and continues as if he never stopped. “You were cleaning the top shelf, or at least that’s what we think. I was at the cafe getting our drinks—“ Patrick cuts himself off.

David’s eyes stay glued to his fiancé, not willing to leave him for a moment. There’s a canyon creasing between his eyebrows and Patrick halt in his explanation as if the words forming are too painful. Even if it’s only for a moment.

“Patrick, you don’t—“

“No, no. You lost your footing, I guess. When I came back you were already, um, unconscious on the floor. I had to call an ambulance.”

“Jesus Christ,” David mutters, eyes wide.

“Yeah,” Patrick’s laugh is especially watery. “The last couple of days haven’t been the greatest.”

“Is this the first time I’ve woken up?”

“This would be the third.”

“Oh,” David whispers. “I don’t remember them. Any of it.”

“That’s okay, David. It’s normal,” Patrick tries to reassure him, but David’s gotten extremely skilled at seeing right through him. “This is the most lucid you’ve been so far.”

Patrick’s hand travels down to lace his hand with David’s left, like he’s unable to last another moment without touching him. His hands are still clammy, but they are also home.

“Oh,” David says. “Well, uh, I’m not really in a position right now to be making promises, but I’ll try to remember this one, Patrick.”

Patrick’s laugh is so wet this time it’s hardly a laugh, but that probably only makes him all the more kind for not mentioning it. Or something.

“That sounds good to me, David,” Patrick replies.

Patrick brings David’s hand to his lips then, pressing a gentle kiss over each of the rings that sit there. David flushes under the attention even as he revels in the weight of Patrick’s indulgence. He’s not exactly happy that he’s caused turmoil and worry for Patrick the last couple of days, but David’s not sure he’ll ever how words for how safe it felt to wake up with Patrick in the room. How continuously safe he feels whenever Patrick simply shows how much he cares.

“Good,” he says, voice barely audible. And then, because he has to ask, “Was there blood?”

“Oh, there was so much blood,” Patrick informs him.

David squeezes his hand. “Ew.”

“Yeah,” he says, mouth twisting. “I both hate and am grateful that I’m the one that found you like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Head injuries bleed a lot, that’s the nature of them,” says Patrick.

Oh my god.”

Patrick gives him a little smirk, one that’s more comforting than it has any right to be.

“Don't worry, David. I didn't dare dream to let it stain the floors.”

“Oh, god. I wasn't even thinking about that but now I definitely am. So thanks so much.”

“You’re very welcome.” Patrick presses another kiss to his ring-adorned knuckles. David somehow manages to flush again. Not for the first time, he blames the medication. “The store is fine, I promise.”

“How can you say that to me right now in good confidence? You're not there!”

“Mhm, I hear you, David. It's just that it’s three in the morning right now, so of course I'm not there,” Patrick points out, sounding particularly amused.

“If you think you're being cute you're very much missing the mark,” David tells him, absolutely not charmed at all.

“Mmm, I don't think I am.”

“Hm, if you’re going to spread such lies then the least you can do is kiss me again.”

“Oh, is that the least I can do?”

“That’s right.”

Patrick laughs. “Okay, David.”

Their lips meet again and David is unable to control the sight that leaves his lips. He knows he’s been unconscious for the last little while and had no awareness of the passage of time, but he swears it feels like it’s been even longer since they’ve touched each other like this. Like even if David’s mind was asleep his body was very much keeping track of the time passing. David’s truly missed this, the warmth and weight of Patrick’s mouth, the subtle glide of his tongue as it teasingly dances along the seam of David’s lips.

The soft moan that breaks free is completely beyond his control. Patrick’s been taking him apart with his mouth for almost two years now, and yet it still manages to surprise David each and every time.

At least this time he has the excuse of painkillers.

Once they pull away, Patrick doesn’t let him go very far, hand wrapped loosely around the nape of David’s neck. His grip is firm, but David could easily break away if he wanted to. His eyes are locked on David’s face, looping over his features over and over, as if trying to convince himself that David’s actually awake now. No matter how Patrick tried to play it off earlier, David can tell the terror he’s felt since finding him like that is definitely real. Real enough that going by the expression on his face, Patrick’s about to drop something genuine and uncomfortably earnest.

Not David’s favorite combination at all.

“I’m glad I’m the one who found you. Not that… not that I wanted to ever find you like that. I don’t think anyone else could have handled seeing you like that. I could barely handle it. I don’t know how long I just stood there staring at you. It didn’t feel real.”

David averts his gaze. He has no idea what to say to something like that. He tries to put himself in Patrick’s shoes, imagining their situations were reversed and Patrick was the one lying in this bed instead of him. David only gets about that far before having to take a shuddering breath to calm himself.

Yep. No way he’s touching that one any further.

He wants to apologize.

He wants to tell Patrick he hates that he was put into that position at all, but he can’t seem to convince the words to surface. So, instead, he pours his words into his touch, because that’s always been easier for him anyway. He tugs Patrick closer so he’s sitting on the edge of David’s bed rather than leaning over it uncomfortably like he has been since he woke up. David brings their joined hands to rest between them on his chest with a small bitten-back smile. If it so happens to place Patrick’s touch over the steady, alive pulse of his heart, then that’s simply nothing more than coincidence.

It works.

Slowly, some of the tension holding place in Patrick’s clenched jaw and between his eyebrows begins to ease. David tightens his grip on Patrick’s hand with a sigh.

“I love you,” whispers David. He’s hardly one to initiate those words himself, but his baggage doesn’t seem important to prioritize right now.

(A sentiment he’s starting to become more and more familiar with.)

Patrick’s entire body softens, melting into David’s hospital bed. His forehead pitches forward, connecting with the middle of David’s chest as he collapses against him. David flounders, for only a minute, but he gets a hold of himself in record time. He lets his free hand sink into Patrick’s hair, rubbing his fiancé’s scalp soothingly.

“I love you, David,” Patrick says against his chest.

David wonders if Patrick can hear the way his heart jumps in reply.

“I know, honey.”

When Patrick lifts his head from David’s chest, his eyes are red but he looks more grounded than he has since David woke up. “Thank you, David.”

“Mmm,” David hums, never once stopping the soothing motions of his fingers in Patrick’s hair. He has to stretch uncomfortably to do it, but he hardly notices. “I don’t think I’ve ever so much as lost my balance on our step ladder.”

If Patrick has any complaints with his (admittedly inelegant) subject change, then he doesn’t say anything about it. Some of the humor does return to Patrick’s face, though, which is always a welcome sight. Even if David’s pretty sure he’s only going to be subject to more teasing.

So, he really shouldn't be all that surprised when Patrick surprises him by being earnest.

“You haven’t. It could have happened to anyone.”

“But it happened to me. I don’t understand how I could have lost my balance. I’ve used that step ladder a thousand times.”

“This isn’t your fault. It was a freak accident, one that I’m glad is hopefully behind us now.”

“Did you check the security tapes?”

“No,” Patrick replies, strained. “Not yet.”

David chooses not to comment on that just yet. “I really don’t want to have to do this again…even if I don’t remember it.”

Patrick’s smile turns a little brittle now. “That’s not something you need to worry about right now, okay?”

Um, yeah, obviously I need to, look at you, David silently points out.

“Yeah, well, you know who you’re talking to, right?” David replies, which is just as true but far more self-deprecating, so it seems safer.

“I know,” Patrick says, fond as ever. “Just try not to, yeah? Let me do the worrying.”

David grimaces. “I don’t think you’d be asking me that if you saw how you look right now, Patrick.”

That gets an actual laugh out of his fiancé which, as always, causes something bright to bubble up into David’s chest cavity. He’d never thought someone’s laugh could have such an effect on him, could make a situation normally worth panicking over seem soft and familiar. Weather-able; like even if it’s still not ideal, David can handle it because Patrick’s there handling it with him.

David knows he’d be a fraction of the calm he is right now if it weren’t for the steadiness of Patrick Brewer next to him.

“Oh, well, according to my loving fiancé, I’m quite beautiful,” Patric teases. “Even with my mouthguard in.”

David hums, considering. “Is that so? How do you know this fiancé of yours wasn’t lying to you?”

“I have it on very respectable authority that he finds me irresistible.”

“Oh?”

“Mhm,” Patrick whispers, leaning forward to kiss him again. They’ve barely been kissing for a few seconds when Patrick’s yawning into his mouth. It’s disgusting and adorable and David hates himself for how much he loves it.

David narrows his eyes at him. “Have you slept at all?”

“I believe I was sleeping when you woke up if you remember correctly.”

“Obviously not peacefully, going by the craters underneath your eyes.”

Patrick whistles.

“Wow, you’d think that I’d be used to how sweet you are by now, but you always managed to surprise me.” He teases, ever the opportunist to poke fun at David. The crow’s feet at the corners of Patrick’s eyes tell David that he sees right through him. “I’m okay, David.”

David levels him with a look. “Patrick…”

“Okay. I’m okay now,” Patrick says. “I may have been a little worried, earlier.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Or a lot,” Patrick admits.

“Mhm, yes, I can tell, honey,” David informs him, patting his hand gently. Though Patrick would most likely label it as “condescending.” It's not David's fault he's inherited his mother’s special brand of affection. “You haven't left this room in the last two days, have you?”

The way Patrick's cheeks flood with color is already answer enough, but Patrick confirms it verbally regardless.

“No, I haven't. I couldn't leave you, David.”

Which is, honestly, very sweet, and definitely a thought David will have to examine at a later date, but he’s just finding it hard to wrap his head around the fact that Patrick willingly has been away from the store for this long.

And so has David, which means…

“Um, so, the store has been closed to for two days then?”

“No, not exactly, the store is running as normal,” Patrick says.

David raises an eyebrow. “I thought you said you haven’t left the room.”

“I haven’t, but I thought your sister and Stevie could use the distraction, so they’ve been looking after it for us.”

David takes a moment to try and not be horrified. He fails.

Spectacularly.

What?!”

Patrick has the audacity to laugh at him, which is just rude, considering David’s having trouble summoning the appropriate amount of exasperation.

“They know what they’re doing,” Patrick assures him.

“Um, no they don’t,” David retorts. “Might I remind you the time we left Alexis in charge of the store and she broke our fucking sink?”

“That’s correct, David. Which is why Ted is still forbidden from being in the store with Alexis without supervision.”

Well, at least they agree Stevie doesn’t count as supervision. “I just don’t think that was the best decision, is all.”

“They can handle this,” Patrick says, pressing another errant kiss to David’s knuckles.

“I appreciate your optimism, Patrick, but they really can’t.”

“Okay,” his fiancé concedes, that same wry smile playing on his lips. “So I’m checking in every hour the store is open, but the store is in good hands. You know they wouldn’t do anything to harm the store.”

David gives him a look, but begrudgingly, can admit that Patrick has a point. They wouldn’t hurt the store on purpose, at least.

He still will never forgive Alexis for ruining his brand new fucking sink.

“Fine,” David eventually says. “I’ll concede that it’s probably not a disaster — financial, emotional and otherwise — to leave our store in their… adequately capable hands.”

“That’s very generous of you to admit, David,” says Patrick, diplomatically, swooping in to press a lingering kiss to David’s cheek.

“Thanks so much.”

“No, really, I’m very proud of you,” Patrick replies, and this time he presses a kiss to the opposite cheek.

“Uh-huh, I’m sure,” David says.

This time, Patrick kisses his lips and he’s chuckling, so it’s immediately one of David’s favorites. The slide of their lips sends fissures of searing-hot interest up and down David’s spine. There’s none of the desperation that usually accompanies it, and he finds he’s content to sit here and kiss his Patrick.

“Do I even want to know how many bottles of wine you had to promise Stevie for this?”

The laugh and the exasperated answer he’s expecting never come.

Instead, Patrick watches him with the same expression he had when he followed David into the motel room to talk about Rachel, the same expression he had when David walked into their store for the first time after their separation and tried to break up with him for good.

Of all of the way Patrick looks at him, this is easily his least favorite.

“David, they didn’t ask for anything.”

David laughs. He knows he has a weird way of showing it sometimes, but he does appreciate Patrick’s dedication to lightening the mood.

“That’s funny.”

Patrick’s expression doesn’t ease, and his hand, once it falls on his cheek, is as indulgent as it is guiding. As if trying to will David to believe him through touch. Which, to be fair, isn’t exactly outside the realm of possibility.

“David, I’m not joking. They don’t want payment for it.”

Oh.

And David — David doesn’t know what to do with that. It’s hard for him, still, to really get used to the idea that the people in his life care about him. Especially ones who he had accepted wouldn’t be a possibility for them, like his family. Which is probably unfair of him. It’s not that they all suddenly started caring about each other when things got rough and they had no other choice, but it’s never been this open before. David’s never had the kind of easy relationship with his parents that came from a place of love and affection. While David never doubted his family, on some level, deep down, cared about him, they’re all better at leaning into it.

While David’s not sure he’ll ever call himself grateful for having to share a motel room with his family for the last two years, that doesn’t stop it from being any less true.

He’s spent countless years of his life giving and giving and giving to people with next to no appreciation or reciprocation. It’s nice, is all, to have solid proof that there are people in his corner. Even if he doesn’t know what to do with it, and maybe never will.

Patrick, who can tell David can’t muster up the right words for this yet, gently strokes his cheek as he places another one of his patented soft kisses on his lips.

“Don’t worry, I’m already planning on sneaking them a David Rose gift basket, so they’re not leaving empty-handed,” Patrick teases, in that way of his that means he thinks he’s being charming. “I wouldn’t want your skin to crawl too much from all of the sincerity and generosity floating around.”

“Ugh,” David groans, rolling his eyes. The tension bleeds out of his body a few moments later. He’s not able to keep up the act in his exhausted state. “Don’t forget to put Tapenade in Stevie’s.”

Patrick hums. “That’s the first thing I put in there.”

“Good,” David says. He lets his gaze fall to Patrick once again, and is sure to level his fiancé with the most innocent look he has in his arsenal. “You’re too far away.”

“I’m as close to you as I can be without actually laying next to you, David.”

David shakes his head, using the hand not holding Patrick’s to make a ‘come hither’ gesture that has Patrick smiling at him fondly within a blink.

“Exactly. You need to be closer.”

“I think you’re just going to have to make do with this.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“The bed is hardly big enough for both of us,” Patrick tells him, which is fair, and true, definitely, but that doesn’t mean David’s going to accept it.

“I think you’ll find with a little creative maneuvering it really won’t be all that hard.”

“I don’t know, David,” Patrick replies.

“If you don’t want to, that’s…fine, I just want to be touching you as much as possible right now.”

Patrick folds. Which has him thinking about his fortunately unfortunate enchilada experience as he watches Patrick get up off the bed. David scoots back until his back and the dip of his knees are pressed against the railing behind him so Patrick can slide in next to him. It’s a tight fit, but luckily David’s only hooked up to a heart monitor and an IV bag, so it’s not too difficult to find a comfortable position.

The rest of the tension David’s been holding in his body melts into the grip that Patrick has on his hips, and he nuzzles his face into the curve of Patrick’s shoulder.

“Thank you,” he whispers.

“What was that?” Patrick goads, loudly, because he’s the world’s best asshole. “I don’t think I caught that. Would you mind repeating it?”

David nips sharply at Patrick’s skin in retaliation. “You should be comforting me in my time of need, not making fun of me.”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize those weren’t my arms wrapped lovingly around you right now.”

“Ew, okay, never say that again,” David says, voice tight and strained in a way that says please say that to me all the time. Hopefully, Patrick isn’t as privy to that as he seems to be.

“Sorry, I can’t hear you over my arms being wrapped lovingly around you.”

“Oh, my god.”

 

 

 

 

 

--- ♡ ---

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hours later when the thought occurs to him.

Patrick’s well on his way to being passed out, which is very unfortunate given the fact that David jerks up from his previous position, back ramrod straight as his hands fly to his hair.

“Oh fuck, Patrick! Did they have to touch my hair?” David ask-shrieks, absolutely dreading the answer.

“Oh my god, David. Go to sleep.”

“So, that’s a yes.”

“This is payback for the lovingly comments, isn’t it?” Patrick mutters to himself. “Yes, David, they had to shave some of your hair to close the stitches, but as you’re well aware, your hair will grow back.”

“I can’t go out in public like this,” David hisses. “No wonder you were so hesitant to get into bed with me. I must look like some kind of neckbeard reject.”

“Wouldn’t that be a good thing?”

“In what situation would that be a good thing?”

“I mean, if you’re a neckbeard reject, then obviously you’re not bad enough to be a neckbeard.”

“Oh my god,” David whispers, utterly exasperated with this man. “You might have a point but you’re being impossible, so I don’t really care.”

“Mm, I hear you, David,” Patrick whispers, kissing his temple with far more tenderness than his tone had suggested. “Can we go back to sleep now, please?”

David grumbles but dutifully curls back up against Patrick’s chest.

“Hmph. At least my hair will grow back by the time the wedding comes around, which is the only reason I’m bothering to convince myself this is acceptable, to begin with.”

Patrick clears his throat. “Then I guess this is a bad time to tell you my parents are on their way down here.”

David tenses even as something coveted spreads through him. “This is the worst possible time, actually. Thanks so much, you’re my favorite fiancé,” David grouses at him, bitterly. “All the rapport I’ve been building up with your parents is going fly right out the window when they see the disastrous state of my head.”

Patrick just laughs at him again and presses another kiss to his temple. “Mm, that does sound very hard for you. How insensitive of me to turn away your future in-laws who are only worried about you.”

Well… when he puts it like that.

“You didn’t — you didn’t ask them to come?”

“No,” Patrick replies. “I told them what had happened and they decided to make the drive. They’ll be here in the morning.”

David’s throat closes up. “Then I guess it would be rude of me to deny them entry, even if I do look like a horror show.”

“Don’t talk that way about my fiancé,” Patrick berates him, tenderly. “Are you sufficiently informed now? Can we finally go back to sleep? I wasn’t kidding about them being here in the morning.”

David nods, hiding a yawn into the base of Patrick’s throat. “Yeah. I’ve reached my freaking out quota for the night.”

“Goodnight, David.”

“Goodnight, Patrick.”

David lasts all of five seconds before blurting out, “Hey, honey?”

There’s a smile in Patrick’s voice when he answers. “Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?” Patrick asks.

“For being here. And taking care of me.”

“Always,” Patrick replies, who, of course, ruins the moment by adding, “just, try not to fall off of things and crack your head open next time, okay?”

David reaches up to pat at Patrick’s face. “If I had the energy to reach for one of my pillows, I’d club you over the face with it right now.”

Patrick presses a grin into the softness of his hair. “Noted.”