David walks into the bedroom, absentmindedly running a hand through his air-drying curls. Patrick is all cozy under the covers, Ray’s tacky floral wallpaper glowing in the warm, low lighting from the bedside lamp.
“Hey David?” he calls softly, not looking up from the paperback in his hands. David stops in his tracks, leaving the door ajar. Patrick is not reading some entrepreneurial memoir. Instead, he’s reading a tiny black and grey soft cover, the same one that David had left on top of his overnight bag.
“Is that my-”
Patrick looks up, soft eyes somehow panicking and buffering at the same time. “Sorry, I just finished my other book and I haven’t had the chance to go back to the library. I can put it back?”
David shakes his head as he goes to join Patrick in bed, “You don’t have to,” he whispers softly, “I just didn’t think you’d be into poetry.”
Patrick shrugs. “Well, some of the stuff I don’t understand,” he effortlessly lifts an arm so David can curl up at his side, “but have you heard this?”
David lifts his eyebrows, trying to maintain composure. Is his boyfriend about to-
“ You know how to ride a dirt bike, and you know how to do long division,”
So that would be a yes, then.
“And you know that a boy who likes a boy is a dead boy, unless he keeps his mouth shut, which is what you didn’t do, because you are weak and hollow and it doesn’t matter anymore ,” David feels Patrick’s chest rise with a deep, cleansing inhale. “This is just-” He cranes his neck to see Patrick's mouth hanging open, trying to find a way to finish his sentence.
“Queer? In a beautiful and explicit way?” David starts to suggest.
“Uh huh,” Patrick nods dumbly, bringing his hand up to play with the ends of the hairs on David's neck. He sighs into Patrick’s touch, pressing himself even further into his side.
“Can you keep reading?” he asks, nuzzling his nose to Patrick’s ear.
Patrick’s voice falters a bit. “Are you sure? I mean you would definitely do a better job than me.”
“Mm-mm,” David reaches up to kiss his jaw. “I like how much you like this.”
Patrick nods. “Yeah, okay,” his voice small and quiet. David feels him clear his throat, then continues on with the poem. Patrick’s voice is tired and hesitant, but as he reads the words aloud for the first time, it almost takes on this revelatory quality. It’s imperfect, and it’s beautiful. Like he’s discovering something for the first time.
“Wow,” Patrick sighs, resting in the book in his lap when he’s done.
“No one’s ever read poetry to me before,” he whispers into Patrick’s chest.
Patrick kisses his head. “You’ve probably heard better.”
“Stop that,” David gently nudges him. “Read You are Jeff, please.”
“Okay where is-”
Patrick chuckles. “Okay David,” he mutters, thumbing through to find the right page.
“Thank you,” He looks up, with the smallest and happiest of smiles.