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A Button of a Business Teacher

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Patrick Brewer stepped into his first day of a new life. He looked around as he walked through the halls, greeted by staff and students saying hi, smiling at him even though they didn’t know him.

It was the second semester at Schitt's Creek High School. He was new to the building and new to the town, but at least the job itself wasn’t new. He’d done this enough times to know he’d be great at it. He was extremely hard-working, and he could teach business and accounting in his sleep. This was going to be okay.

He spent most of his first day playing icebreakers with his new students and going over course outlines for the semester. The day flew by, and he was happy to head home to his (hopefully temporary) lodgings with Ray Butani, a local businessman who’d rented him a room when he’d appeared in town unexpectedly a few weeks prior. It had been the only thing available on such short notice, and as much as he appreciated Ray’s hospitality, he was quickly realizing that Ray was a talker who didn’t exactly understand the concept of privacy.

Ray must have read Patrick’s mood though, because after chatting over dinner he left Patrick alone. He gratefully spread out on the couch, mindlessly watching TV on his own for the evening.

He returned to his bedroom just after 9:00 pm, and once again took in the floral wallpaper that reminded him of his granny’s house. He couldn’t wait to be somewhere that felt more like home. In the same instance he thought of it, he reminded himself that he didn’t really know what “home” even meant to him anymore. If his actual home was something he felt he needed to run from, he probably needed to redefine the concept entirely. The thought alone was exhausting.

After getting ready for bed, he lay there unable to sleep. His mind was racing, trying to decide if he’d made the right decision by requesting the transfer that brought him here so hastily in the middle of the school year. Was he right to skip out on his friends, his family and ultimately on his now ex-fiance, Rachel? Was it stupid to move to a new town where he knew no one and was completely alone?

Only time would tell, he thought, as he drifted off.

***

A few weeks later, Patrick sat at home on a Sunday evening listening to his favourite folk rock Spotify channel. He was just about finished with his lesson plans for the next day’s classes when his phone buzzed on the desk beside him. He saw ‘Mom’ flash across the screen and took a deep breath before answering the call.

“Hi, Mom.” He got nervous whenever they talked, knowing they still didn’t understand why he left. But he missed her.

“Hi, sweet boy. How are you doing?”

“Doing well, Mom, thanks.”

“How’s your new school?” He could practically hear her smiling, and he relaxed into the conversation.

“Not too bad. I’m starting to get to know some of the other staff. And my students, of course, they’re great.” He almost forgot the best part. “Oh! And I’ve volunteered to coach the varsity baseball team for the spring season which I’m excited for… should be starting tryouts soon.”

“Oh wow! That’s really good to hear, darling.” He could hear the hesitation in her voice, like she wanted to ask something else but was holding back. “We’ve been worried about you,” she said, finally.

Not wanting to delve any deeper into the topic, he took that as his cue to end the conversation. “I know, Mom, but I’m okay, I promise. Listen, I really have to finish this lesson to prepare for tomorrow so I should go.”

She didn’t press any further and said her goodbyes, happy to at least know that he was settling in to his new school well enough.

***

He entered the main office of the school on Monday morning with his usual Tim Horton’s steeped tea and plain toasted, buttered bagel in hand. He rushed to grab his attendance and any other paperwork from his mailbox.

He greeted the Principal and grumbled to a colleague about Mondays, which he had picked up was an ongoing joke at Schitt’s Creek High. He giggled a little to himself as he walked toward his department office. He smiled, thinking about how he finally felt a bit, well, settled here.

As he gathered his photocopied handouts for his first period class, he looked at the light blue paper sticking out of his attendance folder and pulled it out. Coloured paper was typically reserved for important memos at this school. It was a student timetable with his first period Introduction to Business class circled, meaning he was getting a new student this morning. There was also a puzzling handwritten note from the guidance counselor saying “see me for more info.” With class starting in 15 minutes, though, there wasn’t enough time to run there, finish his breakfast, and hit the men’s room before class like he normally did each morning. He glanced at the name... “Alexis Rose.” He looked down the page and noticed she also had World History with Mrs. Schitt on her timetable, along with Math and English. He slid the blue paper back into the folder, deciding to touch base with the other teachers later in the day. He finished up his bagel and tea and ran to the restroom, since he wouldn’t get another chance until lunch time and he’d ordered a large tea instead of his medium today for the extra caffeine hit.

The arrival of Alexis Rose in his classroom was a whirlwind. Patrick was in a fog by the end of class, wondering what the hell had just happened. She was well past her high school years, which he assumed there was good reason for, but she was like nothing he’d ever seen. Saying she was a disruption was the understatement of the century. She dressed head to toe in designer clothes, like she’d just walked off a fashion runway. She spoke and carried herself like a socialite, which made no sense given she lived in Schitt’s Creek. It suited her somehow, but it was all a bit much for Patrick. He needed to figure out how to regain control of his classroom if she was going to stick around all semester.

Alexis had taken over the class to introduce herself and give a little speech about not finishing high school because of yachts, famous soccer players, and drugs, which worried him a bit. He seriously hoped none of the other students would relay this to their parents, or he would find himself in hot water with the principal. She was also a little bit... flirty... which made him uncomfortable. Only he couldn’t pinpoint if it was so uncomfortable because she was his student or just because he didn’t have any interest in her. Maybe it was both.

At lunch time, he learned from the school guidance counselor that Alexis had in fact joined his class because she needed to finish her last semester to earn her diploma. Patrick made his way back up to his desk to eat, which he much preferred to sitting in on the awkward conversations taking place in the staff room. This way he could check his email and update his Google Classrooms while he ate. He decided to start making a new Drive folder and Google Sheet in preparation for his baseball tryouts which put him in a much better mood after what had been the strangest morning of teaching he’d ever had.

***

It was a Thursday evening well into the second month of the semester, and Patrick walked into the school cafeteria to prepare for the evening of parent-teacher interviews. He sat down with his usual steeped tea and waited for his interviews to begin. While he enjoyed meeting parents and discussing his students, he was mostly eager to get the evening over with so he could go home, relax and catch whatever was left of the Jays game.

He was halfway through his third meeting when he heard a familiar voice.

“David, it’s my turn to take a selfish,” Alexis whined from the hallway.

“Oh my god, Alexis, I already told you how much I work I have to do for the store tonight! I am not doing your stupid high school interview thing. Do I look old enough to be your dad??? Just go in yourself and I’ll wait here.”

“You probably don’t want me to answer that, considering those bags under your eyes that showed up ever since you came up with this whole general store idea. Puh-lease David! I can’t just go in myself! And do you really think I’d want Mom and Dad here? Ew!”

Patrick had to laugh. It was pretty entertaining, despite being entirely disruptive. He apologized to the parents seated across from him and continued to update them on their daughter’s progress.

The man started sounding frantic. “Last time I checked, you’re a full-grown adult in a high school class. Go by yourself!!! And hurry up already!”

“Ugh David, come on. It’s my turn. I promise it will be quick. Plus, my business teacher is kinda cute. I just need to make sure that I’m passing all my classes and then we can come right back out and go.”

It seemed the man finally gave in. , “Fine Alexis, but the next selfish is mine. And I have AN ENTIRE STORE to put together so that’s going to mean a lot of dirty work and hard labour for you.”

Patrick finished up with Daisy Kim’s parents and stood to shake hands before waiting for his last appointment on his sign-up sheet … “Alexis Rose” was written in curly cursive writing. He didn’t want to admit dreading the appointment, but he couldn’t say he was looking forward to it either, especially after what he’d just heard. Obviously her parents weren’t coming. Even if they had, he wouldn’t have been permitted to speak to them about her progress since she was an adult after all. He hoped she’d quickly get her updated mark and breakdown for the class and they could both go home for the night.

He glanced down at the clock on his phone, seeing that it was already 3 minutes past the appointment start time when Alexis finally strutted into the cafeteria, admittedly causing a bit of a commotion with her high heels clacking on the linoleum floor as she ran over to him. Patrick saw a tall man dressed all in black following behind her, still not exactly sure who the man was. He hadn’t gotten a good look at him yet, and wondered if he did, in fact, look old enough to be her Dad. He found himself stretching his neck out as casually as possible to try and get a better look at him. Alexis sat down in front of him, and the man took the chair beside her.

“Hi, Mr. Brewer. This is my brother, David,” she announced, slightly out of breath.

Finally taking him in, Patrick’s mind went completely blank upon the sight of the man in front of him. His heart began to race and he was sure a deep pink blush was creeping up his face because he started feeling a bit hot and sweaty. He tried to stand up to greet them as he did with all of his students’ parents, but his knees almost buckled underneath him and he had to brace himself on the table in order to get up.

He extended a hand to Alexis as well, trying to remain as professional as he could, even though he knew it was going to feel clammy. He looked over at David, who had a completely disinterested and almost fed-up look on his face. They hadn’t even begun the meeting yet, so it threw Patrick off his game even further. His mind was thinking words like “stunning” and “gorgeous” and “really fucking pretty” and it was taking all of his willpower to try and use the rational side of his brain to overpower those thoughts and bring himself back to reality -- to the task at hand.

He finally stammered, “Uhhhhh, hi Alexis. Nice to meet you...uhhh, David. Shall we...uhm...talk about business class?” He knew he sounded so dull, but he felt relieved just being able to spit out some words, even if they didn’t form the most coherent sentence.

Patrick carried on, doing everything he could to focus only on Alexis, providing her with her updated mark, going over her various assignments and discussing ways to improve. Once he got going, it was easier to continue, and he was able to get through the rest of the meeting. As he wrapped up, he stole another glance at David, which made him feel like time had stopped. He had absolutely never felt like this...about anyone, EVER...let alone someone he’d just met (barely)...and it was confusing, and distracting, and completely throwing him off his game (if he ever had one to begin with).

Alexis seemed to sense something was up and filled the silence by saying, “Hey, Mr. Brewer, you might find this interesting since you’re a business major and all... Did you know David is going to be revamping the general store in town?”

David had been acting standoffish and bored, but that got his attention. He looked over at the pair as Patrick took in that bit of information. He cleared his throat and took a sip of his tea to center himself before speaking directly to David. He smiled and said, “Oh, so YOU bought the general store?” He had noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window a few weeks ago while meandering through town and that the sign had recently been taken down the last time he had gone to the Cafe.

David pointedly clarified “...leased, leased the general store, yeah,”

Patrick was impressed, and felt an overwhelming urge to be supportive. “That’s a big deal!”

“Is it?” David whispered, acting almost bashful.

“Yeah, it’s pretty big,” Patrick confirmed in a quieter voice. He smiled at him, wider this time.

David smiled back, just slightly, and the world around Patrick disappeared. In fact, the only thing he noticed in this moment was the way his own body betrayed him as his pants began to feel tight and uncomfortable. He avoided looking down to see the bulge growing and felt his cheeks flush again. He felt both horribly unprofessional and wildly turned on at the same time. He couldn’t take his eyes off of David.

He was pulled out of the trance when Alexis started to stand up and thank him for his time. “Thanks again Mr. Brewer, see you tomorrow.” David said nothing, but held his gaze. His eyes showed the slightest bit of interest, no longer looking bored or annoyed. Patrick considered standing again to say goodbye, but realized that probably wasn’t a good idea at this point if he wanted to keep his teaching position. Instead, he waved at Alexis and said, “It was nice to meet you, David.”

David muttered a quick “yup” under his breath as he quickly followed Alexis out of the room. As they left, Patrick allowed himself to stare at David. He looked him up and down taking in his perfect hair and perfect skin, his half smiles and the sparkle in his eye when he spoke about his store, the confident way he carried himself, the silver rings Patrick had noticed on his fingers out of the corner of his eye, and lastly, a gorgeous ass in tight black jeans.

He realized that wasn’t a feature he usually picked up on, but he certainly did here as David walked away from him. He’d never looked at any guy the way he was looking at David. Once they were out of sight, Patrick reclined back in his chair, let out a huge puff of air and took a large gulp of cold tea in the hopes of calming himself down so he could at least comfortably walk out of the room.

***

Alexis had promised David she would help him with his incorporation papers since she was now taking a business class, but upon looking at them, realized she was in way over her head. She knew how overwhelmed and stressed David was preparing everything for the store and securing vendor contracts. She considered asking her Dad to help, but she knew David would rather walk barefoot over hot coals than involve his parents in the store venture after what he’d recently learned about his past.

She didn’t blame him for wanting to do this all on his own, but it was becoming clear that the more “businessy” aspects of opening a business were a little bit beyond David’s areas of expertise. Alexis ran down the list of people in her mind who could help. She looked down at her VERY highlighted textbook page and that's when the idea hit her. Obviously she should ask her business teacher, Mr. Brewer. He seemed knowledgeable and always open to help in class.

The next day, Patrick noticed that Alexis walked into class with a little bit more of a spring in her step than usual. She popped a steeped tea from Tim Horton's down on his desk casually as she walked by on her way to her desk. He looked at the top and saw '2M 1S' and realized she'd even gotten his order right.This piqued his curiosity. He was completely unsure what the meaning of this gesture was. Alexis had never brought him anything, nor really spoken to him much outside of class, other than the couple of times she started regaling the class with a story of some crazy adventure from her past which ran past the bell. His first thought was "what's the catch?" But before he got a chance to ask, the bell rang and he had to begin his lesson on distribution channels in marketing.

When the bell rang again to signal the end of the period, the students streamed out of the classroom quickly. Except Alexis, who sauntered up to his desk.

"So Mr. Brewer, I was wondering if you could possibly help me out with something?"

Patrick knew Alexis tended to be naturally flirtatious, so he was always extra cautious to remain professional around her. He glanced at the classroom door to ensure it was wide open. He thought to himself, "So there is a catch" but instead he said "Sure Alexis, what can I help you with?"

Alexis pulled a portfolio out of her oversized purse with gold fringe, unzipped it and handed a pile of papers to Patrick. He quickly scanned the documents as she began to explain. "These are the incorporation forms for my brother's store...you may remember him from last week's interview?"

Of course he remembered... how could he forget?? He'd done nothing but think about David since they met. A mental image of David flashed in Patrick's mind, even though he'd done everything he could to not think about him at school. He knew he had to remain professional even though just being in Alexis's presence, someone directly linked to David, would sometimes make him sweat a little. He slowly realized after getting caught in his own thoughts of David and then trying to think of anything unsexy to make the thoughts go away that he hadn’t said anything for an uncomfortably long time. Staring at the papers in her hand, he tried desperately to recover but could only get out, "Uhh, yeah Alexis, I remember."

Luckily Alexis didn’t seem to notice and quickly plopped them on the desk in front of him. "Okay, great, I was trying to help him fill them out, but I think I made some mistakes. I printed off an extra blank one back at the motel but they only have this crappy ancient dot matrix printer so it's not the best quality. Can you tell me if the first one is okay? I figured since you’re a business teacher you might know how to fill this out properly and could help me...help my brother.”

Patrick immediately pictured David again. He was willing to do anything to help him out. “Yeah, sure Alexis, just leave it with me. I’ll work on it tonight and give it to you back in class tomorrow.” he quickly replied.

Alexis grinned, feeling proud to have done something to help David out, knowing he’d owe her a favour now -- or maybe five lip balms in sweat equity, which she remembered learning about in class. She started to leave the classroom but quickly turned around. She did a flighty light jog back to Patrick’s desk, snatched a post-it note from the neat stack on his desk and scribbled “David Rose” and a phone number on it. “You might need this, in case you need more information or whatever,” she said before spinning around to exit the room, flicking her hair behind her.

Patrick stared down at the yellow post-it note in amazement. He was overwhelmed by all the thoughts, feelings and emotions spinning around in his brain all at once. Without noticing, he realized he was half hard just thinking about David again and had to give his head a shake to remind himself where he was -- in the middle of a classroom, with an open door to a hallway that was normally full of teenagers. He couldn’t help but be thankful that it was the end of the school day and most of those teenagers had promptly exited the building as quickly as they could.

He sat down, leaned back in his chair and uncharacteristically put his feet up on the desk. He tried to gather his thoughts about what to do next. He glanced at the incorporation paperwork and decided to pick it up and read over it. Between all the scribbles on the form like the one saying “also a very specific store” under the words “general store” and the extra notes attached indicating “a branded immersive experience”-- which had clearly been written by David and torn out of a notebook -- he realized he could piece together exactly what David was going for amongst all the buzzwords. He could easily fill out the forms for him tonight.

Once Patrick was at home for the evening, he headed straight for the computer he used at Ray’s place instead of plopping himself in front of the TV. He immediately ignored all his work emails and went straight to work on David’s forms. He refused to move the post-it note from the front sheet of the pile, so he kept seeing David’s name and number as he worked through the online fillable version of the forms.

Once he was finished, he took a swig of his beer hoping he had amassed enough liquid courage to call David. His heart beat out of his chest while the phone rang and visibly sank when it clicked through to voicemail. It was oddly satisfying, though, to hear David’s voice again on his voicemail greeting. He took another swig before the beep and said, “Hi David, uhm, it’s Patrick uhhh, Patrick Brewer...uhh Alexis gave me your number. I’m her business teacher?” Real smooth, he thought to himself, as he realized the lilt at the end of that sentence made it sound like a question, not a fact. So he repeated “I’m her business teacher...uhhh at the high school. We met last week. She, uhm, gave me your incorporation papers and asked for my help. Well, I found the online version so I just went ahead and filled them in from your notes and filed them for you.” He paused, unsure what to say next.

“It’s a good idea, your business. Rebranding local products and crafts, it’s very inventive. And I like the name, Rose Apothecary. You know, uh, it’s just pretentious enough.” He breathed in and out again, trying to figure out how to end the call. “So I’ll call you when I hear something.” With that, he ended the call and put the phone down.

***

As soon as dawn broke on the Saturday morning following, Patrick woke up, got dressed, and packed a backpack with a granola bar, apple, trail mix and a water bottle. He hopped in his car and drove out to Rattlesnake Point, where he hiked to the top of the longest trail, thinking only of David and how he could possibly help out more with his business, in the hopes of getting to know him better. For the first time since he arrived in Schitt’s Creek, he realized he really was okay. Despite this all being so new, and a little scary, everything was clicking into place. He finally felt like a version of himself he wanted to be.

He was finally home.