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Role of a Lifetime

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It takes David a moment to remember that not only are they completely landlocked but they're also a stupid number of feet above sea level, which means the salt he's tasting has nothing to do with the ocean and everything to do with the fact that the love of his life believes David is worthy of not one, but four engagement rings.

Thank god Patrick is so solid, even with an injured foot, because David's knees are threatening to buckle under the combined weight of his happiness and the dizziness from carrying Patrick up a fucking mountain. Also because of David's terrible choice in hiking footwear.

"All this crying and sweating is going to attract bugs. God, how could you do this to me here? I'm going to throw you off the mountain," he wheezes into Patrick's shoulder. The hand gripping his sweater shakes where it presses into the small of his back, and for some reason that just brings on a fresh wave of tears. He won't be able to lift his head until he stops being such a crying disaster, because David Rose is and always will be an ugly crier, and if Terms of Endearment has taught him anything, this could take a while.

Patrick laughs wetly, tilting his head to press a kiss to David's neck the way he always does when he's ridiculously happy. David's belly cramps with love. And hunger. There's bound to be some awfully good cheese in those backpacks.

"Not if I throw you off first. 'Are these 24-carat'? No, David, I proposed to you with pyrite," Patrick says. The familiar sarcasm is wobblier than usual.

"Okay, that? Doesn't leave the mountain. You know I say the dumbest things imaginable when I'm overwhelmed, and I don't need Stevie bringing it up every ten minutes until I die."

"It's a real shame there's no cell service out here. Stevie would've loved a reaction video." Patrick pulls back and captures David's chin in his hands when David immediately goes to duck his head, because, seriously. The ugliest crier.

He can't help but risk a glance. The grin on Patrick’s face is going to split his face in half. "Shut up. You're not funny."

"Just think: we could've had it playing on a loop at the wedding."

Oh, well, there go his knees.

He sinks to the blanket he haphazardly laid out and Patrick slides down to join him, wrapping an arm around David's shoulders and dragging him in. David closes his eyes and breathes in the reassuring scent of Patrick's drugstore deodorant.

"I can't believe you want me for the rest of your life," he murmurs.

Patrick startles against him. "Wait, have I ever made you feel like I didn't?"

"No, it's just, I had a dream like this once. You said you wanted to be with me forever, but then little rats in Versace came with photo albums full of all my fuck-ups—David Rose's Greatest Hits, volumes one through twenty-eight—and showed them all to you, page by page, until you just got up and left."

"Well, rats usually don't hang around forests, and I don't know where they'd find Versace within 100 miles of Schitt's Creek," Patrick says, and god, David loves him more than he's ever loved anything. "I just don't get why you would think, after all this time, that I—"

"It's not you, really. It's just…"

It's just that his time in the 1% taught him precisely two things: a) fixing self-tanner streaks with a magic eraser is a terrible idea and should never ever be attempted, especially if one is under the influence of an unknown blue powder that Lindsay Lohan swears is organic; and b) David isn't anyone’s idea of a love interest worth staying for.

In fact, he has vivid memories of sitting in Christina Aguilera's gold-plated stairwell with no one he knew or particularly liked, waxing poetic to some coked-out Disney Channel starlet that his ideal S.O. criteria amounted to "they won't leave me after a week." She'd laughed, downed the rest of her Four Loko—and his—like it was water, then pushed him back and made him eat her out while the guy she came to the party with blew him. He limped home later that day, ignored Adelina's quiet and pitying "Welcome back, Mr. Rose," crawled into 700-count sheets that felt like knives on his skin, and waited for whatever blood curse he'd been afflicted with as a child to just finish him off.

He never allowed himself to want for more, because he was self aware enough to know that people like him didn't deserve it, and he had grown comfortable letting a hundred people fuck him and fuck him over. It was a lot like how Mariska Hargitay refused to leave Law & Order: SVU—why make a change when you know the role inside and out?

Of course, that was all before Schitt's Creek forced him out of his comfort zone and taught him things like the importance of family and opening your heart and avoiding Meatloaf Tuesdays at the Cafe.

"It's just… you've never quite fit into the normal pattern of things," David says diplomatically, because Patrick hates it when David brings up his past. It took a very long time to understand that Patrick's little frowns whenever David dropped anecdotes and exes into the conversation weren't actually directed at him.

True to form, Patrick sighs and presses a hard kiss to David's temple. "If I could go back and beat the shit out of everyone who ever made you feel like… like…"

A slut. An ATM. A consolation prize.

The sentiment is sweet, but the words themselves have been dredged from somewhere deep, deep down. David shakes his head, partly to head off that train of thought and also to feel the gentle rasp of Patrick's department store t-shirt against his cheek. Patrick probably paid less than twenty bucks for it. It feels and smells like mornings lounging in bed, listening to Patrick's 'I have the music tastes of a 67-year old woman' Spotify playlist, and arguing over where the fairy lights should go in the store's window display.

In show business, there is safety in maintaining the status quo, but every once in a great while a new role comes along that's enticing enough to rirk your entire career for. If his mother can play a bird woman and Mariska can leave the precinct to star in a Taylor Swift video, David can do this.

He opens his eyes, looks out into the stretch of green reaching for the horizon below, arcing toward a new and previously impossible future, and says, "Appreciated, but unnecessary. Plus, all of them led me here, so…"

Patrick shifts against him, and David can feel the weight of his gaze. The silence that follows should be awkward, but it never is. It isn't anything but understanding. Patrick gets it. Patrick always gets it.

"All right, I believe I promised you cheese." Patrick gently moves away from David's side and reaches for one of the backpacks, unzipping it with hands so steady that you'd never know they belonged to someone who uses words like easiest decision I ever made outside of award season.

David looks down at the black box clutched in his hands and thumbs it open again, tilting it down so the gold bands catch the light filtering through the canopy. "One ring wasn't enough?"

"I'm just grateful you're willing to wear them at all. I know how you feel about gold accessories, but I figured you'd make an exception for these." Patrick says these things like they’re nothing, like he doesn’t have some secret script the rest of the cast isn’t privy to, and it’s absolutely wild that they’re just going to keep rolling on this one, single take.

He closes his eyes against a new onslaught of tears and, helplessly, says, "I love you."

"I love you, too."

"Okay, for your information, I was talking to the cheese."

Patrick laughs, and it sounds like action!