Patrick Brewer has spent his life cataloging sounds. He realizes it is a unique intersection between his logical/mathematical mind and his musically-inclined, creative soul.
He can recall with perfect clarity the sharp tap of his mother’s high heels on the kitchen floor in the house where he grew up, the rumble of the motorcycle his father used to take him for rides on, the giddy giggle from Rachel after their long-awaited first kiss, and a million other things most people would consider mundane background noise. Those sounds are his memories in audio, more vivid to him than any mental image he could ever conjure up of a specific time, place, or moment.
When he met David Rose, this particular trait seemed to go into overdrive. It was the fluctuating lilt of his voice as he spoke, the heavy steps of his not-Converse-but-still-very-Converse-like shoes, the exasperated breaths at any minor inconvenience, and the almost-silent-but-not-quite disturbance of air from hands and arms rapidly gesturing.
In the time they’d been together, the list of sounds he had come to associate with David was staggering. He was continually surprised that one person could overwhelm his senses so much that they would nearly match the sum total of his 30-plus years of other experiences in such a short time.
But he was so constantly attuned to David that he couldn’t help but notice the brush of David’s fingers over the countertops as he paced the store looking for a single item out of place. He savored the crunch of gravel underneath their perfectly synchronized steps as they strolled in town, and the deeply satisfied groan that would escape whenever David ate anything tastier and more easily identifiable than something served up at the cafe.
Even sounds that Patrick had formerly thought of as wholly his own came to have new meaning with David - keys pressing formulas into inventory spreadsheets, the strum of a guitar and his own voice singing borrowed confessions, or the squeak of the springs in his rented bed at Ray’s as he tried to stay still while one of their bodies trembled in release with moans muffled into pillows or the crook of a neck.
Now, in his own apartment, when he’s alone he sometimes closes his eyes just to hear the echoes of David - the particular way he always shuts the kitchen cabinets, the jittery rhythm of his leg bouncing under the kitchen table as he blows on his coffee to cool it down, or the hushed whispers when he holds Patrick close and tells him things nobody else has ever known.
Especially now, as he collapses against David’s chest, gasping and thighs quivering, his attention immediately focuses on the erratic cadence of David’s heartbeat. Of every sound that he knows, he is sure this is, and always will be, his very favorite. There is nothing that has ever affected him quite the same way as this one, unfaltering sound.
At one point he may have said that the shouts on a baseball field with stands filled with people who appreciated his athletic abilities was the ultimate rush, or that the shaky gasps of Rachel’s devastation when they broke up over and over and then for the last time had been the worst he’d ever felt. While those things might still be memorable highs and lows, there is only one sound that has captured and gripped him so completely. He finds himself looking for opportunities to press his ear to David’s body, straining to hear against the commotion that surrounds them. His go-to move has become wrapping himself around David from behind, in the quiet moments they share in the store, a casual, yet intimate embrace that can reset a bad day or fill-in a verbal ‘I love you.’
David’s heart is everything to him, not only in the literal sense of keeping the person he loves the most alive, but also figuratively, in the way that David gives and receives love and affection. The beat of David’s heart is both calming and seductive, able to cut through the chaos and stir a depth of lust Patrick still can’t quite believe is possible sometimes.
He listens as David takes a deep breath, the rapid palpitations slowing to a steady pulse. He believes this sound might be the tempo by which his life is measured from here on out. A constant pattern, a kind of cardiac melody that he would recognize anywhere, any place, any time, knowing he could pick that exact sound out of a cacophony of noise.
David drops a kiss on the top of Patrick’s head, tightens an arm around his body and sighs softly, contented and satiated. Patrick knows David will only stay still for a moment, so he takes advantage of every second he has access to David like this. It’s one of the few things he’s never told David that he loves about him, loves about them together. He’ll say it one day, when David needs reassurance, when he thinks he’s pushed too hard or too far. He’ll put his hand at the center of David’s chest, feel the beat under his fingers, look into those dark chocolate brown eyes, and remind him, “I know the sound of your heart.”