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let's stay (caught up in the moment)

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“Oh my god...”

Patrick really should look away, he knows he should. He should stop staring at David’s mouth and his tongue as he licks the butter and shortbread crumbs from his lips. He should.

But he’s just not strong enough.

He wants this man something fierce and he has absolutely no idea what to do about it. It’s been months now and he’s managed to stick himself so deep in the mud of indecision and inaction that he feels destined to stare and pine and wonder and all of those other descriptors his normal take-charge attitude usually scoffs at. But this is David Rose and Patrick really doesn’t know what the hell to do about David Rose.

After the grant money he promised to get was delayed by an emergency bridge repair project, he’s done his best to help David with the store while still working at Ray’s, not giving him enough time to ascertain where David’s head might be, in terms of his feelings or interest or whatever in anything beyond the friendship they’ve built these many months. Sure, they banter, which Patrick hopes David is seeing as flirting, but David’s so quick witted with everyone that Patrick isn’t sure that what they have is special. It’s special to him, special in ways he’s still coming to grips with, but is it special to David?

“Earth to Patrick.”

Heat blooms behind his cheeks at being caught daydreaming, and still staring at David’s mouth. Dropping his eyes, he misses what David’s expression might be telling him and immediately wishes he hadn’t looked away.

“Sorry, what were you saying?”

“Just that Lisbeth’s shortbread here rivals the ones I devoured at Nigella’s flat back in ‘09.”

“Ah, that’s high praise,” Patrick agrees, despite not having a clue who Nigella is, but assumes she’s some famous baker that David hobnobbed with in his old life.

“Oh David, you’re too kind. It’s just an old family recipe.”

“It’s not just anything. You should be proud. And I’d be more than proud to carry these at Rose Apothecary if you think you can keep up with demand.”

Patrick finds himself staring again. This time though, it’s not at David, it’s at Lisbeth. He’s witnessed exchanges like this many times, the way the faces on these vendors light up and they stand up a little straighter being bestowed with David’s praise. He watches as she nods vigorously and pulls her chair closer to David as they discuss packaging for a trial run to help determine quantities for the actual order for February. Just like David, she’s made brighter just by being seen, and appreciated. It makes complete sense to Patrick why David’s drawn to the artisans that make up the heart of this little town. They’re kindred spirits. 

By the time David’s sliding into the passenger side of Patrick’s car, he’s already made plans with Lisbeth to come back for a baking lesson over white wine spritzers next weekend and Patrick’s tummy is rumbling with freshly tousled fond feelings. 

“She’s lovely,” David says as he buckles his seatbelt.

“Agreed. And, on the business side of things, I’m glad you finally found a cookie vendor.”

“Don’t you mean we?”

Patrick risks looking away from the road ahead to swivel his look of surprise straight at David.

“What?”

“I know you’re only doing this with me part time, but it feels like we’re partners. Doesn’t it? I mean, if that’s something you’d be interested in?”

The tires skid just the tiniest bit in the snow and Patrick forces his attention back on his driving, but he’s sure that David can see the huge smile that’s taken over his entire face. At least, he hopes he can see it.

“I’d absolutely be interested in that, David.”

“Good.”

“Roland swears the grant money will be freed up in a few weeks, so hopefully I can come on full time.”

“Knowing Roland, that means that I’ll be lucky to have you by Valentine’s Day, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Sneaking another quick glance at David, Patrick tries to see if his expression gives anything away that might show a deeper depth of meaning behind that statement. But David just smiles as he looks out at the snow softly dropping on the windshield.

“Let me guess, because you want me to take all of the morning shifts?”

“There are other reasons, but yes, that’s in the pro column.”

Patrick’s about to ask what falls in the con column when a figure up ahead waving a neon orange flag has him slowing the car with concern. As he pulls to a stop, he watches as Bob jogs towards them in a full snowsuit that’s maybe a size or two too small. It’s really not snowing hard enough to warrant such a get up, but he’s given up trying to figure Bob out.

“Hiya Patrick,” Bob says in greeting as he leans into the open window, “oh, and you too, David. Didn’t see you there.”

“What’s going on?” Patrick asks.

“Well, unfortunately, Ronnie was right about the temporary bridge being built too low. The creek rose over it and it’s completely frozen over.”

“Is there another way around?”

“Unfortunately not, unless you want to take the three hour detour around the farmland, which, no offense Patrick, but I don’t think your car is up for that kind of backroading. As much as I’d welcome the business towing you out, I don’t have time for that kind of adventure this afternoon. Gwen might be coming home for dinner.”

He’s not wrong. Patrick’s car is meant for the suburbs, not rural Schitt’s Creek roads. He really should invest in some snow tires.

“Okay, so...what’s the plan?”

Bob’s face scrunches up and Patrick knows the answer he’s about to hear is not going to be a good one.

“Well, the temperatures won’t be rising above freezing until mid-morning tomorrow, so...you two might want to find somewhere to bunk up for the night.”

“Bunk up? The only motel is Stevie’s and that’s…” Patrick’s points towards the bridge with bubbling over frustration. “...over there.”

“Hi Lisbeth, yes, it’s David.”

Turning towards David’s voice, Patrick finds David smiling into his phone.

“Well, here’s the thing. Patrick and I have found ourselves in a bit of a predicament. The bridge is frozen over and I’m wondering if that...oh, yes, that would be perfect. You’re a godsend. We’ll be back over in a few minutes...oh, are you sure? … Of course, of course. Okay, above the planter, got it. We’ll call you when we get there. I can’t thank you enough.”

David hangs up his call and Patrick waits, mouth a bit agape, waiting to hear the other side of that completely unexpected conversation.

“Didn’t you hear Lisbeth mention that she has a tiny apartment up above her bakery for when she has to work late? She says we can stay there for the night.”

Patrick definitely has no memory of that being mentioned, so it must have been when he was staring at David’s lips. One of those many times.

“Just like that? She barely knows us.”

“Doesn’t seem to matter much in this town. I know, it’s completely fucking crazy that people are like this, but to each his own. I’m too afraid of being murdered in my sleep to ever understand it.”

Patrick’s head feels a little fuzzy with their extreme shift in circumstances and David’s seemingly nonchalant attitude over it all. He’d always thought of Alexis as the go-with-the-flow member of the Rose family, but maybe David’s more adaptable than appearances may seem. A flash of movement from his window catches his eye and he looks up to see Bob jostling back to his truck, waving his goodbye over his head. Patrick chuckles a little under his breath at the ridiculousness of all of this as he carefully turns his car around on the slick road to head back to Lisbeth’s bakery.

 




“I can’t believe she told you where she keeps her hide-a-key.”

"I’ve charmed my way into more interesting places, trust me.”

Patrick isn’t sure he wants to know, while absolutely wanting to know.

“Oh, this is…”

David’s voice falters and as Patrick takes the final step up into the apartment, he sees why.

“Cozy,” David sighs.

The apartment is small. No, small is too big of a word. It’s tiny. It’s really just a loft with what looks like a full size bed, a table with a lamp and a bookshelf built into the wall crammed full with cookbooks, paperwork and stacks of aprons and kitchen towels. 

But, back to that bed. That one...small...bed. 

Patrick suddenly feels as though the universe is trying to give him a giant shove and he’s not really a fan of the whole not being in control thing. 

But maybe he’s been keeping himself under control for entirely too long?

“Well, I hope you don’t snore,” he jokes. Bantering he can handle. Maybe the rest will just fall into place?

“Me? Of course I don’t. You’re the nose breather here.”

“Excuse me?”

David wanders over towards the bookshelf, pointedly ignoring Patrick as he runs his ringed fingers along the spine of a few of the more ragged looking cookbooks.

“Remember when you fell asleep in the back room the week before we opened? There was definite pre-snoring happening there.”

“What the hell is pre-snoring?”

Rachel’s told him he snores sometimes, but David doesn’t need to know that. Even thinking about Rachel right now feels like someone poking at a bruise. It’s ironic though that the person he used to love is the only person who knows about his feelings for David. Her showing up in town a few weeks ago had removed the miles protecting him from a long overdue conversation, both with her and himself. And while he feels lighter having found the words, there’s still a lot of healing that needs to happen for them both.

“Oh, look!”

Patrick watches as David pulls a three ring binder down from the shelf and begins to turn the plastic covered pages. 

“What is it?”

David lifts the binder up so Patrick can see what’s been handwritten down the spine: Grandma’s Recipes.

“I bet the shortbread recipe is in there.”

David’s eyes are sparkling to match his smile when he looks up from his searching.

“Exactly what I was thinking. I’m so curious as to whether she uses all butter or if there’s some shortening in the recipe.”

“Wait, are you a baker?” Patrick’s not good at hiding his feelings and he’s sure his eyes have widened in surprise at this new and very unexpected information.

But David just shrugs and goes back to turning the pages of the binder as if it’s nothing.

“I’ve dabbled. Adelina and I perfected brownies back when I was in primary school, but I haven’t had much of an opportunity since then.”

“Adelina was your…?”

“Nanny.”

“Right, right, I remember you mentioning her before.”

Patrick’s heard David speak of Adelina in passing a few times, always with a lingering fondness, making Patrick wonder if she was more important to David than he’s expressed aloud.

He’s about to ask him more about her when David’s phone vibrates in his pocket.

“Oh, it’s probably Lisbeth. I forgot to call her.”

David’s smiling at his phone as answers the call on speakerphone. 

“Lisbeth, sorry, I was just about to call you. We found the key and were just settling in.”

“Oh lovely, just wanted to make sure.”

“Thank you for the rescue,” Patrick interjects.

“Oh, Patrick, it’s my pleasure. I know it’s small, but I figured you two wouldn’t mind.”

Patrick’s jaw falls open slightly and he looks to David at her apparent assumption, but finds him turning away toward the bookshelf.

“And you should feel free to use anything you find in the kitchen. Just please put any dishes or equipment in the back sink. I’ll need to run it through the sanitizer in the morning. I’ll try not to wake you when I get in, but I have to start the bread baking no later than seven.”

“Lisbeth, I am the opposite of an early riser, but I can’t imagine anything better than waking to the smell of freshly baked bread.”

Is he flirting? 

Patrick’s stomach clenches a little as this scenario he’s stumbled into feels a little bit too shaky. Taking the steps back down into the bakery two a time, he finds the back of one of the tall chairs in the front to brace his hands on and shifts his focus on the snow falling in gentle flakes outside the large picture window. The long breath he draws into his lungs feels good as his chest rises, the wood beneath his fingers waxy and smooth beneath his fingertips. These feelings he has for David, they’ve grown too big, too all encompassing and Patrick needs to do something about them instead of this unproductive examination of every move David makes. If he wants to know how David feels, he should probably just ask him.

Turning at the sound of David’s footsteps on the stairs, he finds a smile to greet David’s questioning look.

“Everything...okay?”

“Totally. Everything good with Lisbeth?”

David flourishes his hand as he nods his head and wanders behind the counter towards the kitchen. “All good. Her husband came home so she had to go, but she mentioned she probably has the ingredients for pizza in the fridge.”

Her husband. Okay. That’s new information.

Following David into the kitchen, he leans his hip against the counter and watches as David’s dark head of hair disappears behind the door of a large, industrial refrigerator.

“So, that apartment, it’s pretty small.”

A hand holding a block of cheese and a tub of red sauce pops out and Patrick scrambles over to take it. His fingers brush David’s in the process and brown eyes meet his as David’s fingers relinquish the cheese.

“I’ve shared adjoining motel rooms with my entire family for years, Patrick. I don’t even know what personal space is anymore.”

“I live with Ray, so, ditto.”

David’s back to shuffling around inside the refrigerator and Patrick just watches as he sniffs various herbs and checks labels on different jars and tubs.

“Perhaps we should both look at this situation as a welcome respite,” David says as he hands Patrick a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil.

“I like the way that sounds.”

Patrick went with sincerity in that response instead of his usual teasing and he’s sure David noticed by the slight lift of his eyebrow before turning back towards the fridge.

“Ah, yes, let’s go with this.”

David closes the door and Patrick can see him clutching a plastic wrapped ball of dough and what looks to be some kind of meat in parchment paper.

“What’s that?”

“Pancetta. It’ll add some much needed saltiness and texture when it crisps up.”

“Wow, you really know what you’re doing in the kitchen, huh?”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear surprise in your voice.”

“And how do you fold in the cheese again?”

“Who told you about that?”

“You did!”

“When?”

Oh god, David was so high that night, and so goddamn adorable.

“At your birthday party at Stevie’s.”

“I don’t think we can call three people a party, but I appreciate the embellishment. And anything I said that night was under the influence and never to be spoken of again.”

“Okay David.”

He has no intention of honoring that request, but he can let it go, for now.

Leaning back against the counter again, he watches as David arranges his few ingredients on the counter and wanders to the pantry, coming back with a large plastic bin of flour and what looks like a circular baking sheet with a bunch of holes in it. 

“Can I help?”

“Sure, you can tear up the mozzarella while I shape the dough.”

After they take turns rinsing their hands in the sink, Patrick spies an apron hanging on a hook near the big bread mixer and snags it. If he knows anything about this man, it’s that David won’t want to get flour on his expensive sweater. He’s about to just hand it to him when he gets a different, bolder idea and throwing caution to the wind, decides to act on it. Stepping up behind David as he pulls his rings off and sets them on the counter, Patrick takes a quiet breath in and makes a move.

“Thought you might want to wear this,” he says, voice a little too quiet, but he had to work to push the words past the lump threatening to close up his throat.

David looks over his shoulder with curious eyes that widen just a little at how close Patrick has stepped in. He smiles though as he takes the apron from his fingers and drops the top loop over his head. Before he can reach back to tie it around his waist, Patrick’s fingers are there, shaking a little when his knuckles brush the back of David’s sweater as he ties the straps in a bow.

“Is that tight enough?”

“Um...yeah, thank you.”

Patrick doesn’t want to step back, but with the apron firmly in place, he doesn’t have an excuse to stand this close. He can’t help but wonder though what David would do if he stepped a few inches closer and dropped his head just a little so he can steal a whiff of David’s spicy cologne. 

But he doesn’t.

“You’re welcome,” he says as he steps back and composes himself before stepping in next to David at the counter.

As he unwraps the cheese, he watches as David sprinkles flour over the metal surface of the counter and then on both sides of the dough. As he gently works the dough, Patrick realizes this is the first time he’s seen David’s fingers without his rings and there’s something inherently intimate about that for him. It’s like seeing a lover for the first time right out of the shower. Okay, that’s maybe a few steps more intimate than this, but it still makes Patrick’s belly flip in anticipation of all that might be possible if he takes a few chances tonight. 

“Okay, so you want me to tear this?”

“Yeah, just rip it into chunks. It’ll melt better that way.”

“Did you make pizzas with Adelina?”

“No, I, uh, I learned this from an ex. Well, from her YouTube channel anyway.”

Patrick doesn’t really know what to feel about that, but he guesses he doesn’t really have a right to feel anything about David’s past relationships. But sure, there’s a pang of jealousy there, he’s not in the position to deny it.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“That’s okay. Francesa is actually one of my better exes. We were more of a fling, really, so there weren't real feelings involved. Except for her food. I fucking loved her food.”

“Well, I’m glad you know what you’re doing. I’d be lost without you.”

David looks over from where he’s worked the dough into a perfect circle on the baking sheet with a smile that sends Patrick’s heart rate off on a gallop.

“We can’t have that now, can we?”

Is he flirting?

Fuck, Patrick isn’t sure, but he’s determined not to overthink it and flirt back, just in case.

“No, we can’t.”

David’s mouth goes all crooked and he shakes his head as he looks away and Patrick notches himself a win.

“Can you go and preheat the oven to 350 for me?”

“Sure.”

It takes Patrick a few minutes to figure out how to work the unfamiliar oven and when he gets back, David’s just about finished with their pizza. Patrick watches as he pours some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes onto a spoon and drizzles it over the cheese.

“Fancy.”

“Not really. If only we had some truffle oil, I’d show you fancy.”

“Ugh, I am not a fan of mushrooms.”

David shoots an appalled look over his shoulder that makes Patrick laugh.

“I suppose you had to have a flaw in there somewhere.”

Okay, he is definitely flirting. Patrick’s not a complete idiot here.

“Only the one?”

David, unfortunately, doesn’t take the bait and just shrugs as he turns his attention back to the pizza. 

“Can you pass me the pancetta?”

Patrick opens the package and hands it over, watching as David meticulously arranges the meat, curling some of the smaller pieces into tiny rosettes with a self satisfied smile curling his lips.

“Now you’re just showing off.”

David makes an attempt at indignance as he looks over at Patrick, but he’s unable to unfurl his smile.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sure he’s looking at him with unchecked adoration, Patrick makes a choice and stands in his truth and doesn’t look away. And neither does David, at least not for a few seconds, and it’s fucking exhilarating.

 


With the pizza cooking, Patrick carries their used dishes to the back sink as requested by Lisbeth as David goes in search of some plates. When Patrick returns, he finds David sitting on the counter, his long legs swinging in front of him with a soft smile curling his lips.

“You look relaxed.”

“You say that as if you’ve never seen that before.”

Patrick chuckles and keeps walking until he’s standing just about a foot away from David’s perch.

“I have, even if it’s not a usual occurrence.”

“Are you implying that I’m high strung?”

“Actually, it sounds like you’re making that implication, not me.”

“Okay, fine. So, how would you describe me, then?”

Patrick’s stomach drops to his feet and he realizes he’s being handed another choice. A choice of continuing the banter or saying something real. Something that might change everything. The way David’s eyes aren’t shifting away from his though, it’s making him think that maybe that change has already occurred.

So, he takes a step forward.

And David doesn’t look away.

Lifting his hand from his side, he gently places his palm on David’s knee as he takes another small step in between David’s open legs.

“Distracting.”

David’s eyes narrow, but he still doesn’t look away.

“Distracting?”

Patrick just nods as he slides in closer, reminding himself that he has to breathe when he feels David’s thighs brushing against his waist as he maneuvers himself right up into David’s personal space. He waits a few beats to give David time to voice an objection, but no words come. As he leans his head in, all he can hear is his heart pounding and the voices in his head cheering him on.

David’s lips are softer than Patrick had imagined, parted slightly, but unmoving in the immediate moment and Patrick hopes he hasn’t misread the signals. But then, Patrick feels David’s thighs tighten just a fraction around his waist and David’s fingers are just there, pressing at the back of his neck and all Patrick can do is hold on for dear life as David starts to kiss him back. 

Patrick’s heard about kisses like this before, but only now, as David’s mouth moves with confidence against his and his scruff scrapes at Patrick’s chin, has Patrick ever experienced one. His head is spinning and his hands can’t seem to stop moving, one grabbing hard at David’s thigh as the other alternates from cupping David’s cheek to sliding into the side of his hair. He groans as David expels a breath against his lips just so he can go in for more and feels his knees go a little wobbly with how David’s hands are now traveling down the front of his chest. 

His desires are warring with each other, one wanting David’s fingers to get to work on the buttons of his shirt and the other, the one that’s more in control, reminding him that they don’t have to jump so many steps ahead tonight. He kind of wants to tell that side of himself to shut the hell up.

The loud beep of the oven timer breaks the moment before Patrick’s able to come to a decision. He’s so startled by the sound that he reflexively pulls back, but has to steady himself on David’s thighs as everything going on in his body slams together all at once. It sounds like it’s coming from the end of a long tunnel, but he hears David chuckle and finds himself being gently shoved back so David can hop down from the counter.

“As much as I’m enjoying everything going on with your face right now, I didn’t work that hard on our pizza to eat burnt crust.”

Watching David walk past him towards the oven, Patrick shakes his head at himself and somehow finds his voice.

“Thanks.”

“For what?” David asks over his shoulder as he turns off the oven timer.

For kissing me back. For the most exciting moment of my life. For the parts of my body still tingling from your touch.

“There’s an ever-growing list, but for now, rescuing the pizza.”

When David turns with the pizza, he’s chewing on the inside of his cheek in that way that makes his smile go all topsy turvy and Patrick has to physically restrain himself from making a move to kiss him again. 

Kiss him... again. Patrick’s head takes on a fuzzy feeling as he fully comprehends that he’s plotting his second kiss with David Rose. It took months to get to his first and there’s a real possibility his second could happen at any moment. Well, not any moment. If there’s one thing he knows for certain it’s that no one should attempt to get between David Rose and his pizza. 

They share a few smiles as David serves up a few slices and Patrick pours them each a glass of merlot from a bottle of wine that was thankfully in Patrick’s trunk from their morning vendor runs. 

“You’ll have to remind me to mark this out tomorrow when we get back to the store.”

“You and your spreadsheets…” David mumbles as he blows on his pizza to cool it down.

“What about them?”

“Nothing.”

Patrick’s belly does a deep dive at the almost bashful smile that takes over David’s face, one he tries to hide as he finally takes a bit of his pizza. 

When Patrick looks back on this night, he’ll always remember the restraint he had to conjure for the ten minutes he endured of David Rose making little noises and licking his fingers and rubbing his lips together as he turned eating pizza into an overtly sexual act. Not that he had any clue of what he was doing, at least as far as Patrick knows, but my god.

 


Standing hip to hip at the back sink, they work together to wash the dishes and load them into the sanitizer for Lisbeth to run in the morning. As he’s rinsing the last cutting board, he realizes David’s turned and is leaning against the sink and staring at him.

“What?”

“Just...wondering...what else is on the list?”

“What list?

He knows what list. He just wants David to say it.

“The list of things you wanted to thank me for.”

“Oh, that list. Here…”

David takes the cutting board and slides it into the sanitizer next to the plates as Patrick wipes his hands off on the apron they’d draped over the edge of the sink. 

“Do you want me to list things in chronological order or more recent first?”

With his hip back against the sink, David crosses his arms and gives Patrick his signature “you’re being ridiculous” look.

“Maybe rank in order of importance.”

Hmm...

“In that case, you letting me join you at the store probably has to land in the number one spot, but…”

Okay, he can do this.

“That kiss comes in at a pretty close second.”

Are his cheeks bright red? Because he feels like he’s about to spontaneously combust.

“So, we’re feeling, um...pretty good about that then?”

Oh.

“I’m feeling pretty great about it. Why, are you…?

“Oh, I’m...I mean, sure, I just...It’s...good to know you’re not having any regrets.”

Is he fucking serious right now?

“No, no regrets. I’ve been wondering for a while now, so…”

“Me too.”

“Yeah?”

This little back and forth is winding Patrick up like a top, so when David drops his arms and moves towards him, he’s worried that he might actually spin out of control. David maybe senses this, as his hands are strong and steadying when he takes a firm hold of Patrick’s biceps, leaning in and lowering his head towards Patrick’s mouth.

“Yes.”

Patrick feels the word spoken from the heat of David’s breath on his lips and in the next second, he’s being kissed. It starts off soft, almost teasing, with Patrick pulling David in with hands at his waist and David smiling at Patrick’s eagerness. But that smile leads to open mouths and quick swipes of tongues and before too long Patrick’s backed David up against the steel side of the sanitizer and the cool metal of David’s rings are sliding against Patrick’s skin as David’s fingers delve up the back of Patrick’s shirt. 

“Yeah,” Patrick breathes, urging David’s exploration forward as more of his shirt is tugged from the waistband of his pants when David’s hands move higher up between his shoulder blades. 

“You sure?” 

There’s something about David checking in with him that makes Patrick feel all gooey inside and he finds himself wanting David even more, if that’s even possible. So he nods, and kisses him again and shudders against his mouth as short fingernails drag softly down his back. 

“Maybe we should take this upstairs?” Patrick wonders aloud.

David pulls back with eyes widened in surprise and it pulls a chuckle from the thick band of arousal clenching at Patrick’s throat.

“I’m not suggesting we do that , but doing this up there sounds like a more comfortable location than up against a sink.”

“Okay, let’s go upstairs, but when we are ready to do that, we can revisit your opinions on kitchen sex.”

Oh holy hell.

“I take it back. We can stay here.”

David laughs in that big way where his head rocks backwards and for the first time in all the times he’s watched this happen, Patrick does the thing he’s always wanted and pulls David in by the waist and kisses his beautiful mouth. They kiss until their breathing goes shallow and hands are gripping and dragging to get their bodies pressed as close as they can manage. He can feel David hard against the thigh and he knows David can feel him, too, and in the next moment, David is practically pushing him up the stairs to the loft.

The bookshelf is a bit uncomfortable against his spine as David backs him up against it, but with all of his focus on David’s fingers working his shirt open and the wet slide of his lips in the hollow of his throat, Patrick barely registers the pain. 

“David…” He says his name on a moan as David’s hands slide his shirt down his arms and the scruff of David’s cheek abrades the skin of Patrick’s bicep. 

“I’ve wondered for months about what these shoulders look like under your blue shirts,” David whispers.

“And?”

Patrick shivers at the heat of David’s perusal as he runs his fingers up from Patrick’s wrists to take a wide grip of his upper arms, stepping in even closer so he can notch his hips firmly between Patrick’s open legs. The new position brings their erections flush and it’s as good an answer as any to Patrick’s question.

“Fuck.”

It’s David who spoke the word aloud, but it might as well have come from Patrick’s lips.

“Wanna see you, too,” Patrick says as he starts to gather the hem of David’s sweatshirt in his fingers.

“Okay, but let me. This is…”

“I know, David, just take it off.”

David huffs at Patrick’s impatience, but it’s a good natured huff, as he’s smiling while he gathers the sweatshirt and pulls it up and over his head. Patrick’s eyes go wide as the hairy expanse of David’s chest comes into view and he’s reaching up to touch even before David’s finished draping his clothes over the nearby chair. His skin is warm and the hair is soft against his fingertips as Patrick presses his palms against David’s pecs. 

But then he looks up and sees a sea of freckles covering David’s shoulders and there’s something about that secret being revealed that steals Patrick’s breath away.

“What?”

Sliding his hands up from David’s chest, he runs the pads of his fingers across the freckles and up further so take hold of David’s neck. Looking up at him, he shakes head a little at his good fucking luck at having this moment with breathtakingly beautiful man.

“You’re gorgeous, David.”

With Patrick’s hands keeping his head up, David can’t drop his chin in that bashful way he does whenever he’s bestowed with a genuine compliment, and Patrick leans in to press a kiss against his smile as it goes askew. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing here, except to trust his instincts and assume that David’s hands tightening on his arms means he should just keep going. David’s mouth opens to welcome his tongue and Patrick finds himself bracing even more of David’s weight, moaning as hands find their way to the small of his back and then further down, gripping possessively at his ass and dragging his hips forward. 

A series of heated mumbles and questions are breathed between kisses, and shaking hands move to belts and zippers until eventually, finally, Patrick feels the blissful perfection of David’s belly and thighs and legs and everything pressing him deep into the mattress. Usually needing to feel in control, he’s finding an unexpected freedom in letting David lead, in just tipping his head back as David’s lips suck a bruise at the base of his throat as Patrick weaves his fingers into his thick hair.

David lifts his head and Patrick moans in protest, drawing a chuckle from David that deepens as Patrick opens his eyes and their gazes meet.

“Hi.”

“Oh hi,” Patrick responds, voice thick with arousal.

“Just doing a quick check-in here.”

“Okay.”

“It’s just, I’ve learned with experience that it’s a good idea to make sure we’re both on the same page about what we want to happen.”

“I appreciate that. Since I’ve never done this before, with a guy, and I know you have a lot of experience…”

“I do. So, is there something…?”

“Your hands.”

“My hands?”

He can do this. He can say what he wants.

“I want, can you...touch me?”

David’s body goes a little bit slack atop Patrick’s and he leans down to press a kiss to his lips.

“Hell yes.”

And just like that, David’s hands, they’re everywhere. His fingers are cupping Patrick’s cheeks as his tongue does dirty things to his mouth. His palm presses up beneath his bicep as he holds Patrick’s arm up and noses and kisses into his underarm. And his knuckles tickle Patrick’s belly as he takes hold of the waistband of his briefs and drags them down over his thighs.

There’s no holding back his cry of relief as David’s fingers take a firm grip of his cock, rings pressing into sensitive nerve endings as he slowly moves his hand down towards the tip. It’s nothing like when Patrick’s taken himself in his own hand, imagining his fingers were David’s. It’s not even in the same universe. David’s hand is gone for a second and Patrick opens his eyes to see David licking his palm and he has to close his eyes again so he doesn’t come just from that visual alone. 

“How do you like it?”

David asks that impossible question as his fingers are once again squeezing around his cock and Patrick knows he won’t be able to form a coherent response. So he just shakes his head and mumbles “you” and hopes that David understands. When he feels David’s mouth nibbling at his neck and his hand pumping in earnest, he thinks the message was received. With his arm still raised above his head, he scrambles for something to hold onto and finds the wooden slat of the headboard and takes a firm grip. His hips are rocking up off the mattress towards David’s hand and he can already feel the pressure building in his balls and he doesn’t know how to express just how good this all feels, but he hopes his cries of David’s name are enough. He finds himself saying it over and over, “David, David, David…” until David’s mouth is on his and they’re kissing and breathing into each other’s mouths and he’s clawing at the back of David’s hair as he comes on a shout.

David breathes with him for a few seconds as he works his cock through the aftershocks, but with little preamble, he’s pulling back and pushing himself up on his knees. Patrick can see his erection straining to escape the top of his boxer briefs and together they work the black material down to his knees. Patrick’s never seen anything sexier than David, kneeling in front of him, cock jutting up against his belly, eyes hot and pleading as he takes Patrick by the hand. But then he lifts Patrick’s hand to his mouth and licks his palm and Patrick has to recalibrate the definition of sexy once again. He finds his mouth is filling with saliva as an instinctual desire to know what David would taste like against his tongue takes over his thoughts, and while he’s not sure he’s ready for that, he looks forward to the day he is. 

Sitting up, he lets David direct his hand where it’s needed and finds the skin of David’s collarbone with his lips as his fingers finally take David in hand. David’s groan is like the first ember of a wildfire and Patrick does his best to stoke the flame, squeezing and teasing David’s cock as he drags his tongue through the hair surrounding David’s nipple. David’s hips slam forward and Patrick takes that as a good sign and closes his lips around the sensitive nub as he pumps David faster, his precum making things easier to find a rhythm. David’s hands are suddenly clamping hard at the sides of Patrick’s head and Patrick looks up, eager to see the myriad of contortions David’s face will endure as he comes. 

He isn’t disappointed. 

He immediately wonders how long he has to wait to see it again.


 

“We need to make sure to include a set of hand towels in Lisbeth’s gift basket.”

Ducking his face, Patrick buries his chuckle into the warmth of David’s chest and gives his waist a gentle squeeze.

“I think we might owe her more than a gift basket, David.”

Patrick feels David’s chin slide against his forehead and smiles as David’s “maybe so” is spoken against his hair. 

It’s dark in the loft except for a sliver of light coming from the one light they left on downstairs after they went down to use the bathroom and lock up. After crawling into the bed, they came together like magnets and have been just cuddling like this for the last half hour and Patrick has the urge to pinch himself to make sure that all of this is actually happening. He knows that David can be skittish when it comes to relationships and feelings, but there’s a few things he has to say or he knows he’ll regret it tomorrow.

“David.”

“Patrick.”

“I really want to do this with you.”

David doesn’t immediately respond, so Patrick lifts his head and shifts so he can see David’s face. It’s too dark to make out his features all that clearly, but his eyes are on Patrick and he seems to be smiling, or at least trying to smile.

“Is that okay with you?”

“No one’s said that to me and meant it before, so I might need a minute.”

Patrick’s heart clenches in his chest at the brokenness of David’s words and he wants to find a way to heal, to soothe, to reassure. But he knows all that can really accomplish that is time. That doesn’t stop him from placing his hand on David’s cheek and sliding closer on the pillow until their noses are pressed and he can feel David’s ragged breathing warming his face.

“Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

David’s hand that had been spread wide on Patrick’s back slides down and he tucks his fingers under Patrick’s hip, a silent message telling Patrick that he’s not going anywhere either. 

“Did you want it with Rachel?”

Telling David about Rachel after her arrival in town had felt important at the time, and now, it’s feeling essential.

“I wanted to want it, I really did, but...no. It never felt right.”

“But this does?”

There’s a gentle hopefulness in David’s tone that breaks him and Patrick holds David’s face still as he leans the few inches in to press a kiss to his lips. David lifts his chin and kisses him back, his hand trapped between them wrapping firmly around Patrick’s wrist. It’s a soft, tender kiss and when Patrick pulls his lips free, he says the words his heart won’t let him hold back.

“I feel right, David. You make me feel right.”

David huffs and shifts from Patrick’s grasp enough to lean up so his head is resting on his elbow and he’s looking down at Patrick with what Patrick can only imagine is one of his more impressive expressions.

“That’s quite possibly the most romantic thing anyone has ever said, outside of the Downton Christmas Special.”

“I’ve never seen it.”

“Oh dear god, fine, if we’re going to do this, we have to do something about your woefully inadequate romantic media consumption.”

“David.”

“What?”

“Will you come back down here and kiss me already?”

“Fine, but you better clear your schedule for next weekend and tell Ray we need the TV. We’ve got 56 hours of Downton Abbey to watch.”


 

“Lisbeth, hi, it’s Patrick Brewer.”

“Oh, hi Patrick! How are you? And David?”

“We’re both doing great!”

Things with David, they’re better than great. He’s in love. Hopelessly so. And happy, happier than he’s ever been. Next week will mark their four month anniversary and because ruffling David’s very fashionable feathers is one of Patrick’s favorite pastimes, he’s taken it upon himself to annoy David with monthly anniversary gifts David swears to hate (but secretly enjoys). Patrick’s learned over the past many months that chipping away at David’s armor takes both endearments and challenges. In this case, both at the same time.

“Actually, it’s our four month anniversary next week and I’m hoping you can help me with something.”

“I’m intrigued.”

“You know those giant cookies, the ones that look like a cake with messages written on them with frosting? I’d really love to surprise David with one.”