Actions

Work Header

A Fabrication of Appeal

Work Text:

|-|

David didn’t love Wendy in so much as he had, for some godforsaken reason, developed a soft spot for her. She reminded him so much of those internet animal videos where the animals were all cute and adorably falling over themselves. Just gigantic dorks of creatures that were more than capable of tearing a person’s face off, but you still felt an inescapable urge to pat them on the head and guide them gently along. Not that Wendy was capable of killing anything. David had killed every spider that had made it into the shop, while Wendy shrieked and hid in her office.

Basically, Wendy was an adorable older woman who had some very odd personal beliefs, and she brought out a certain maternal instinct in David. At least, that’s how he explained it to Stevie.

“’Maternal instinct?’” Stevie quoted back. She was both skeptical and sarcastic, which David had always believed were two of her more shining qualities. Even if she was currently applying them to him. “You sure it had nothing to do with the rich assholes taking advantage of her and stealing all of her hard work?”

David waved her suspicions away with a quick flick of his wrist. “Oh, of course it was. But I’m not going out there and helping randoms on the street, am I? Wendy was in trouble, and I stepped in to help during her hour of need.”

Stevie snorted inelegantly, and gestured at the suitcase he was trying to pack. Wendy hadn’t given him all that many details for what kind of resort she’d originally booked her ex and herself into. David was positive that it was going to be as tacky as the Blouse Barn had originally been. But beggars couldn’t be choosers and like hell was David giving up a chance to legitimately get out of Schitt’s Creek. Even if it was only for a quick two weeks at some cheesy, two bit, tourist trap.

‘Free alcohol and an expansive spa’ was his current life motto.

“Are you sure you’ve packed enough sweaters?”

“Ha-ha,” David deadpanned. “While I could rock your tee and flannel look, I have carefully crafted my aesthetic and nothing is going to compromise that.”

“Well, you and your aesthetic need to hurry it up,” Stevie said. She hopped up off of where she had been lounging across Alexis’s bed and jangled her car keys in his direction. “Because you have fifteen minutes before I leave you to beg a ride from Roland.”

David made a face, but got back to work. That was another thing he adored about Stevie, even if the thought of three hours in a car with Roland was absolutely terrifying. She was a woman of her word, and she’d even record the entire thing for maximum embarrassment at a later date.

|-|

“You’re sure about this?” Patrick asked Rachel. Again. For something like the millionth time. He knew he was starting to annoy her (he was annoying himself), but he just didn’t understand why he was the one going on their canceled honeymoon instead of her. He was the one that called off the wedding!

“Yes, Patrick,” Rachel said again. She said it absentmindedly because she was going through his duffle again. She always claimed she was doing it to make sure Patrick had the right clothes with him, and she’d been doing it for years at this point. It was comforting, honestly, that little bit of habit.

But Patrick was pretty sure that there was some rule somewhere that said ex-fiances weren’t supposed to help you pack for a two week vacation that had originally been your honeymoon. He was also pretty sure that they weren’t supposed to still be friends, but… Yeah.

He watched her swap out a couple of his button downs for a set of loose, comfortable sweaters fondly. They might not have been right for each other, but he was glad they were still friends. He didn’t know who he’d be without her somewhere in his orbit.

“You need the break from everything,” she continued. She wiggled the green henley she’d picked out for him a few months ago and one of his (many) blue button downs in his direction. “Pick one, please.”

He pointed at the henley. Rachel gave him a big grin before tossing the button down into her discard pile. Patrick had a feeling he wasn’t going to see very many of the shirts in the discard pile again.

And Patrick knew she wasn’t wrong about him needing the break. Calling off the engagement and coming out to both his parents and hers, but still being mostly closeted in every other area of his life was a lot more stressful than he’d thought it would be. Even with Rachel’s and their parent’s full support.

“Plus, I can’t leave with the merger happening, and you paid for the trip. You get to use it,” she continued as she folded up the henley and tucked it safely away in his duffle.

“Besides,” and here she looked over at him with a sly grin. It was the same grin that usually appeared right before the two of them ended up in a lot of trouble. “Maybe you’ll find a hot guy or two to take for a spin.”

“Rach,” Patrick groaned, rubbing a hand over his face. She cackled and he knew that he was blushing.

“Pat,” she returned. She moved away from his bag and came over to grab him by the shoulders. She shook him a little as she said, “Patrick, I love you, but you need to do something. Anything. The last thing any of us want is for you not to move on. I mean, I am ridiculously difficult to get over…”

“Rach,” Patrick groaned again. The worst part was she wasn’t exactly wrong, about either point.

“But you need to try,” she finished. She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “What better time to branch out and try something new then with a bunch of hot people you’ll never have to see again?”

Patrick sighed and dropped his head onto her shoulder, and she pulled him into a hug. “You know I’ve never really been interested in all of that.”

“Yeah,” she agreed. “But at least your mom won’t pop up at the worst possible moment at the spa.”

Patrick groaned again, unable to stop the memories of the times his mother had popped up at the worst possible times. There were way too many of them for any one to actually stand out, but the sheer amount more than made up for clarity when it came to residual embarrassment.

Rachel patted him back a couple of times before pushing back to arms length. “Patrick, the goal of this trip is for you to have fun. Have a massage, get a mani-pedi, flirt with a cute guy or two because they’re there and you can. Remember that, just maybe, not everything has to be life or death. And that you’re thirty, not dead. Got it?”

“Got it,” Patrick agreed. Trust Rachel to know that making it all sound like a game plan would work wonders for Patrick’s nerves. “You think that I should write that down?”

“Ugh,” she scoffed as she smacked him in the arm. “You are such a jerk.”

Patrick nodded. Because he was. Rachel was one of the few people who had ever understood that. Then again, she was one as well, which was why he felt that they had always gotten along so well. “So, mom, am I all packed up?”

“You could use more condoms and lube, but I’m pretty sure that the resort will have some spare,” Rachel said. Then she cackled when Patrick started blushing again.

|-|

The ride to the airport was the best part of the trip, hands down. Stevie and he had developed a finely tuned banter that made time move suitably quickly and before David knew it, he was stuck in an airport with the unwashed masses.

If David were to be honest about it, he didn’t actually miss that much about his former life, aside from the comforts of financial security. But the difference in flying private versus coach was very much something he could have done without knowing.

By the time they landed, David’s nerves were frazzled and all he wanted in the world was alcohol and a locked door between himself and the world. He’d gotten stuck next to a very nice older lady who had unfortunately never heard of silence, with a screaming baby in front of them (he very much related to that child. If his mother had ever worn that particular perfume or that particular disaster of a crushed velvet jumpsuit, David would have ritualistically burned every bottle and item of clothing he could have found in a very large fire), and a brat behind him that would not stop kicking the back of his seat.

All in all, a very stressful trip.

The only highlight was the very cute guy waiting for his luggage at the baggage carousel next to the one that supposedly held David’s suitcase. The baggage from David’s flight had already made a full rotation with out David’s suitcase appearing. David was going to lose his mind if the airline had lost his luggage - nearly everything he had brought was irreplaceable - but David was willing to admit he had been using more energy to surreptitiously check out the cute guy’s ass than he was looking for his luggage.

“Worst part of flying, yeah?”

David jerked his head around - he’d actually been looking for his bag! - to find said cute guy standing next to him. David wondered briefly how he’d gotten so close so quickly, but then noticed the extremely loud and gaudy family spreading out on the cute guy’s other side.

David grimaced at a particularly shrill exclamation from an older woman with a very unfortunate bee-hive hairstyle (who wore that anymore? It had never been flattering to anyone). “This is exactly why I used to travel private.”

Cute guy raised an eyebrow at that. “I meant having to find your luggage in a sea of similar luggage, but not having to overhear about Aunt Gertrude’s bunions would be a definite plus.”

“Exactly,” David agreed. “No one needs to hear about any of that. It’s just rude.” He moved his hands - gracefully, thank you, Alexis - to emphasize his point and cute guy grinned at him. His eyes went adorably crinkly at the corners.

“I’m Patrick,” cute guy said, holding his hand out to David.

David couldn’t help but smile back at him. “David.”

Patrick had a very firm handshake and he pumped David’s hand exactly twice before letting go. It was very business professional and David inwardly cringed. Business majors were never good for him. “What brings you to this lovely slice of paradise?”

He said it all casual, even as his eyes kept flickering back to the luggage carousel. They kept coming back to linger of David, though, and David felt a quiet thrill run through him. He’d probably never see Patrick again, but a little bit of harmless flirting sounded divine after that flight.

“Spa trip from a former co-worker,” David said. He gave an effortless shrug, which he knew for a fact drew attention to just how wide his shoulders were. “Just a little rest and relaxation before my next big commitment.”

Patrick’s smile widened even as his eyebrow went up again. “That’s a very refreshing way to look at being fired.”

“Excuse you, I wasn’t fired,” David said. He sounded snippy, even to his own ears, but he was having a hard time keeping a grin off of his face. From the way Patrick was chuckling quietly, he wasn’t hiding it all that well. “Wendy decided to take her life in a new direction, and she was very generous in parting.”

That had Patrick laughing out loud. He ducked his head sweetly, the tips of his ears and the back of his neck flushed pink. David ducked his own head to the side to hide his own smile and spotted his suitcase coming around the twisty corner. He darted forward and grabbed it, mere seconds before some random with a very unfortunate dye job laid her grubby hands on it.

“I’ve got it, thanks so very much,” David told her, as sickly sweet as he could make it, smiling as she just sniffed at him and flounced away. She was a complete amateur; Alexis had done better flouncing when she was still in diapers.

Patrick was watching him as he turned around, a hand over his mouth and crinkles around his eyes. David blinked before rolling his eyes as sarcastically as he could. “Some people, you know?”

“Very smooth, David,” Patrick laughed. “Graceful as a gazelle.”

‘Fuck, he’s cute,’ David thought to himself. ‘Mayday, mayday!’

“I am, yes. Thank you for noticing,” David said. He rolled his suitcase to his side as he came back to stand next to Patrick. “Your luggage nowhere to be found?”

Patrick shook his head. He pointed at a black duffle with a bright blue scarf tied to it. “It’s that duffle over there. I usually wait for the crowd to thin before diving in. Tripping over old ladies was frowned upon back home.”

David narrowed his eyes as he tried to figure out if Patrick was implying what it sounded like he was implying. He then decided that he didn’t care. “Acceptable. Though a true master of travel can weave through the crowds like a hot knife through butter.”

“Didn’t you say that you used to travel private?” Patrick asked with a sly grin. “Can’t imagine too many crowds like this on a private flight.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” David returned. He could feel himself start to smile again and couldn’t quite stop his lips from twisting to the side. From the way Patrick’s gaze dropped and lingered on his lips, David knew he’d been caught out. But it obviously didn’t bother Patrick.

“Really?” Patrick said. His voice had dropped a bit and he was leaning into David’s space.

David, surprisingly, was leaning back. He’d never been one to flirt so hot and heavy so quickly before (and even as he thought it, he could hear Stevie laughing her ass off at his. “You’re calling that hot and heavy?” Which for him, yes, it was. For Alexis, no. Stevie, no. David, yes.), but he was feeling some kind of draw to Patrick. And that gut feeling said that draw could get pretty intense pretty quickly if they spent much more time together.

It was dangerous and it was fun. And if there was anything that David was feeling pretty into at the moment, it was being a little dangerous, a little fun, and a little too into Patrick.

“Attention passengers: the shuttle for the Monogram Resort and Spa will be leaving from exit door 13C in twenty minutes. The next scheduled shuttle for the Monogram Resort and Spa will be at 9pm this evening.”

“Shit,” Patrick said as he jerked away. He turned and started over to the luggage carousel. “That’s my ride.”

David blinked and felt a rush of adrenaline flood his system. He wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or not, but he really, really wanted to find out. “Funny story. It’s mine, too.”

Patrick jerked to a stop and turned back to David. “Oh, really?”

“Really,” David smiled. “Come on, grab your bag before we miss the shuttle.”

Patrick cocked his head to the sided, eyes drawing up and down the length of David’s body before a grin - hot and a little coy - came across his face. “Well, how about that.”

He started walking backwards, and then laughed when David flicked his fingers at him. Then he winked - winked! Who winked nowadays aside from Alexis and the weird old guys that hung out on the bench outside of Bob’s garage in the evenings? - and turned back around. He grabbed his duffle, throwing the strap over his shoulder before jerking his thumb, presumably, in the direction of 13C. “Coming?”

David couldn’t stop himself from giving Patrick a long look over, taking in how his (depressingly mid-range) jeans clung to muscular thighs and how his lightweight sweater accented his broad shoulders and trim waist. His eyes skittered over the pair of rather unfortunate mountaineering boots, and were drawn back to Patrick’s pretty brown eyes.

“I’m sure that can be arranged,” David finally said. Patrick blinked and then laughed, shaking his head.

“No, seriously, our shuttle will leave us if we don’t hoof it, Mr. Private Jet,” Patrick said. He half-turned but waited for David to catch up with him before he started off.

David wasn’t at all charmed by that. Not one single bit.

|-|

They made good time through the baggage claim area to exit 13C. David hadn’t been wrong about his skill in cutting through the crowds, which Patrick attributed to his near six foot height and broad shoulders.

Patrick couldn’t stop himself from sneaking little glances at the other man. He didn’t know where his sudden confidence was coming from. Flirting with a random stranger at an airport (or anywhere, honestly) wasn’t really Patrick’s bag. Though maybe it was; Patrick was still figuring out where he fell on the whole queer spectrum thing. His therapist and Rachel had both been adamant that Patrick stop trying to restrict himself to what he’d always done before - to be open to trying new things and exploring more of himself.

Patrick just hadn’t thought he was going to take them quite this literally. But he’d seen David just standing there, looking like some lost puppy dog - though one that was hot as burning - and Patrick hadn’t been able to stop himself. He was both excited and terrified that David had reciprocated and of what might happen.

‘Just go with it, Brewer,’ he told himself sternly as he held the door for David. There were a few people outside with the Monogram shuttle - two obvious couples, three young women talking excitedly to one another, and the sour faced woman who’d tried to take David’s bag earlier.

“I’ll take your luggage here if everyone wants to start loading up,” a young man with a clipboard was saying as they walked up. He checked off lady sour face with a wide smile and took her suitcase from her - it was near identical to David’s - then turned to them.

“Hello! Name’s please,” he said. His name tag said that his name was Derek and that he was from Vancouver.

“Patrick Brewer,” Patrick said. He was suddenly seized with the realization that he had never called to change his and Rachel’s reservation. He desperately hoped that wouldn’t cause any issues.

Derek ran his pen down his clipboard, presumably stopping on Patrick’s name. “Ah, yes, here you are, Mr. Brewer. Reservation for two…on your honeymoon!” His head came up and he was now beaming, taking in how Patrick and David were still standing together.

Patrick’s stomach dropped as he desperately tried to think of something to say. Something that wasn’t the truth because there wasn’t a chance that Patrick was ready to spill that truth to a crowd of strangers.

“Congratulations, gentlemen!” Derek continued, obliviously blind to Patrick’s panic. “May I be the first to welcome you both the Monogram Resort and Spa?”

Patrick ducked his head as he glanced over at David. He had no idea what the hell he was supposed to say here. He opened his mouth but nothing came out.

David was watching Patrick, his previously open face near closed off. There was a moment where he took in Patrick’s panicked face, and then he was smiling warmly, reaching up to run a hand gently over Patrick’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Derek,” David said, happy and cheerful. He beamed at Patrick before winking at him. “We do appreciate that.”

Patrick blinked at David, confused by how he was just…taking over the role of Patrick’s supposed spouse. Intellectually, he knew that he should be worried right now - he didn’t know David from Adam after all - but Patrick couldn’t help smiling at how sweet the gesture was. It was like something out of a ridiculous romantic comedy.

“And can I have your name, sir?” Derek asked David. He was obviously charmed by David, and Patrick couldn’t exactly blame him.

“David Rose,” David said.

Derek ran his pen down his clipboard again. When he finally landed on David’s name, he was frowning. “Huh, I have you here listed under a separate reservation.”

David just smiled. “A friend decided to gift us a trip to your lovely resort - she’d been just last year and hasn’t stopped raving, you know - but she didn’t realized that Patrick had already booked us. We never managed to call and fix it; you know how hectic weddings can be.”

Derek smiled at them, relief clear on his face. “Oh, of course. And we just updated our reservation system, which has been causing all sorts of chaos. I’ll call the front desk before we leave and straighten everything out before you arrive.”

“Oh, that will be wonderful, thank you, Derek,” David said. He handed over his suitcase and turned to Patrick, holding out his hand for Patrick’s duffle. “See, honey. I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

Patrick handed over his duffle and lost the fight against his laughter. “All right, all right! I give. You were right, dear.”

The look that crossed David’s face at ‘dear’ could only be described as disgust. Then and there, Patrick vowed to use it as much as reasonably possible for however long this whole thing lasted.

Derek took his duffle from David with a barely suppressed sigh of happiness. “I believe you’re our last two passengers then. If you’ll just join the others, Jack and I will get all this loaded up and we’ll be on our way!”

“Sure thing,” Patrick agreed. He waved David on ahead of him and did his best not to check out the way his black jeans and leather jacket combo worked for his backside.

From the wink Derek graced him with, Patrick was pretty sure his attempts were an epic failure. He really couldn’t find it in himself to care.

There were only two seats left when they climbed inside the shuttle. Thankfully, they were right next to one another and not next to the sour face woman, who was watching the two of them with narrowed eyes. Patrick had the unfortunate feeling that she knew they were lying and she was just trying to figure out a way to, well, out them.

Patrick shoved that thought aside. He wasn’t exactly sure what was going on here - aside from David saving him from potential humiliation - but his gut said that it was a good thing. He’d learned to trust his gut, and he didn’t want to taint the how good the thought of actually being with David made him feel. “Have fun.” That was what Rachel had ordered him to do, and damn if this wasn’t already fun. Nerve wracking and crazy, but definitely fun.

Patrick, for want of knowing what else to do, put his arm along the back of the bench seat they were sharing, and let his fingers trail against David’s far shoulder. His leather coat was stupidly soft. “You doing all right, dear?”

David made another face, but gamely laid his hand on Patrick’s thigh. He had big hands. “I’m fine, honey. Over your anxiety?”

Patrick ducked his head sheepishly. He knew it was a little ridiculous to be so upset by the idea of just saying, “No, I’m here by myself.” But. He’d never liked putting himself out there if he didn’t know how much it was going to cost him in the long run. And he certainly never liked being the focal point for gossip.

“Hey,” David said softly. He gave Patrick’s thigh a little shake and when Patrick looked up, he had ducked his head down so he could catch Patrick’s eye. He looked concerned, but also a little perplexed (like he was confused about being concerned?), too. “Seriously. Are you all right?”

Patrick couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, I’m good. I’ll explain later.”

David tilted his head to the side, eyes a little narrowed. “You don’t have to.”

“I’d like to,” Patrick admitted. He was a little surprised at just how much he did want to tell David. He’d only ever wanted to do that with his mom and Rachel. And it had taken years before he’d gotten there with Rachel.

David smiled. It was soft and sweet, and it opened his face up like nothing else Patrick had seen yet. He wanted to see more of it. “Okay. I…okay.”

Patrick rubbed his shoulder and David shifted himself down in his seat so that he could lay his head on Patrick’s shoulder. Patrick didn’t know how much of this was just David acting out a part, but he liked in nonetheless. He’d always enjoyed cuddling with his girlfriends in the past, and it was nice to see that it passed over to a partner of another gender.

David hummed quietly as he rubbed his hand over Patrick’s thigh and knee. He didn’t go anywhere risque, but Patrick still reached down with his free hand to stop him. David just laced their fingers together. “I want dinner and a bath and a nap. And not necessarily in that order.”

Patrick laughed. “I’m sure that can be arranged.”

“All right, ladies and gents!” Derek said as he climbed into the front of the shuttle with their driver. “It’s about a forty minute drive to the resort, so we’re going to get this show on the road. If you have any questions, let me know! Otherwise I’ll just regale you with some local facts and stories.”

David grumbled under his breath, but Patrick just leaned back and basked in the pleasure of holding another man for the first time. This vacation was already off to a great start.

|-|

David didn’t bother to pay any attention to Derek’s spiel on the way to the resort. He just closed his eyes and relaxed into his slump against Patrick. Part of that was because Patrick was actually quite comfortable to cuddle with, plus he smelled fantastic, and part was because if he sat up and engaged with anyone, he wasn’t sure what he would do next.

He had no idea why he told Derek that he and Patrick were married. Other than he couldn’t stand the way Patrick had looked - stricken and sad and little bit panicked. Like every time Alexis had needed a new passport or colored contact lenses, David had just reacted. He’s sure that he’ll panic about that later.

But this was nice, too. Patrick was warm, smelled wonderful, and he just kept rubbing his thumbs against David. It was obviously something automatic for Patrick, but it was sweet, too. David figured he could use a little sweet in his life. Especially since this would blow up in their faces eventually.

David was zoning so hard that he didn’t even notice the shuttle slowing down until Patrick leaned down to whisper in his ear. “No falling asleep. We’ll be at the main building in a few minutes.”

David shivered as Patrick’s warm breath ghosted over his skin. He shivered harder when all that did was make Patrick chuckle. “I see how this is going to go,” David grumbled. “You’re a menace.”

“So I’ve been told,” Patrick agreed. He pressed a kiss to the top of David’s head before murmuring. “Currently your menace, though.”

“Mmmm,” David said. He stretched a bit before settling back against Patrick. “I think I can live with that.”

“I like the sound of that,” Patrick said, softly. He blushed when David twisted to look up at him. He didn’t say anything else, just brought their clasped hands up to his mouth and pressed a kiss against David’s palm.

A warm feeling swirled through David’s insides. He decided, right then and there, that he was going to just take whatever this was, whatever it could be, wherever it was going to go. They’d probably never see one another again so he was going to make the most of it while it lasted.

“Good,” he told Patrick. He tugged their hands to his face and pressed a lingering kiss to the back of Patrick’s hand.

“All right, ladies and gents! We have arrived,” Derek declared from the front. “If you’ll head inside to check in, Jack and I will get everything off loaded and over to the bellhops. We hope that you enjoy your time at Monogram Resort and Spa!”

They’d pulled up outside a lavish three-story Manor home with elegantly landscaped lawns. Further out form the main building were several smaller buildings in a semi-circle to the east and clusters of smaller cottages to the west.

It was certainly several classes higher quality than David had thought Wendy would have chosen.

Getting out of the shuttle and into the main building was more involved than David would like. For some reason, they kept tripping over the woman with the unfortunate dye job - who would just not fuck off - plus every other person in the shuttle had to come up and congratulate them.

David tried to be as pleasant as possible, but the day had been filled with too many people and he was fast reaching his threshold for everything. He genuinely didn’t miss New York all that often anymore, but at that exact moment? The city’s eternal need to ignore everything would be perfect right then.

When he saw Patrick start to tense up, his smile going all plastic-y, David decided that enough was enough. He looped his arm through Patrick’s and smiled tiredly at the three women happily chit-chatting away at them. “I’m so sorry, ladies, but it has been a very long couple of days. I’m sure we’d love to chat if we run into each other later this week.”

“Oh, right! Terribly sorry,” the very tall one said. She grabbed her two companions and started to drag them away. “It was wonderful to meet you both!”

“Yes, and congrats again!” the shortest of the three called back to them.

David waved with exaggerated happiness until the three had obviously turned their full attentions to what Derek and Jack were doing. “You okay?”

Patrick sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. “Yeah, just…” he paused, then shrugged. “This is weird.”

David nodded. “Yes, yes it is. Remind me to tell you about the time my sister had to fake marry a Saudi oil tycoon to get out of having sunk a fleet of yachts in Venice.”

Patrick blinked at him for a second before chuckling. “Ah, so this is something of a family trait.”

“What?” David asked. He was confused for a second before everything clicked for him. “No, no. Just, you’ll be laughing too hard to worry, is what I meant.”

Patrick was laughing right then, though he was nice enough to try and hide it. He was ducking his head and leaning forward into David to try and hide his face. “Sure, sure. Of course. You and your sister are nothing alike.”

David frowned and opened his mouth to agree because they weren’t anything alike. Alexis was outgoing and a little bit flighty and always flitting from guy to guy to place to place to guy. She’d been all over the world having adventures and getting herself into trouble and then David - who was not easy going or really much of a people person, and who definitely liked to travel more like a normal person - David came to the rescue with passports and hair dyes and protests at embassies.

But then David stopped and thought about the last few years. How they fought and squabbled near constantly, but how they’d both stepped up and tried to put on brave faces for their parents or to help Stevie or, hell, Roland and Jocelyn. They were stubborn and frighteningly smart - if in different ways - and trying harder than they ever had in their lives.

“Sometimes, yeah,” David finally said. They were following unfortunate dye job and the other two couples into the building, still arm in arm. “Like, I would never have anything to do with Saudi oil tycoons and I definitely wouldn’t sink a yacht - unless it was owned by an ex; there are always caveats for exs - but. Yeah. We are definitely our parent’s children.”

“All this family history,” he held the door for David, guiding him through with a hand on his back. “It makes my simple only child from small town Canada life look so boring.”

“Hmmm,” David hummed. The inside of the manor house was beautifully and elegantly decorated for fall, and there was a faint hint of cedar and spice in the air. David approved. “I’ve come to learn that small town boys have all their own surprises.”

“Well, stick around, dear,” Patrick returned. He was grinning at David, and he winked before continuing. “I’m sure I have a few things I could show you.”

David raised an eyebrow and gave Patrick another once over. The clothes were so cheap, but they fit extremely well to the body they were on. “I’m sure you can, honey.”

Patrick wiggled his eyebrows at that, and then he burst out laughing at the look of disgust on David’s face. He used the hand still on David’s back to steer him towards the front desk. “Come on. Let’s get checked in.”

|-|

Patrick didn’t recognize himself or the way he was acting. But he had the inkling that he liked it. Holding David in his arms, the felling of another man against him - even if it was mostly platonic - was exhilarating. It didn’t help that David was damned fine. It hadn’t looked like it when he’d first seen him, but under the loose t-shirt and jacket combo was a lot of firm muscle. And then there was just something about the way David had tucked himself against Patrick. Like it was simple and easy.

Patrick liked it. He liked it a lot.

Derek had been a man of his word and their check in was simple and easy. David even managed to have them refund the cost of his reservation back onto the card it had originally been paid for on.

“Hopefully Wendy actually charged this on her card and not on her ex’s,” David said as he signed for the return.

The young woman behind the counter winced. “Yes, that would be unfortunate.” She looked at her computer, and then glanced over at her co-worker, who was on the phone at the other end of the desk. “Well, I didn’t say anything, but the first name on the card on file is ‘Wendy’, so…”

“Oh, wonderful. Thank you,” David said. He smiled warmly as he took the key cards from her.

“You’re very welcome, sirs,” She said. She handed a folder to Patrick. “Now Derek requested that we upgrade your package because this is your honeymoon! We upgraded you to the King’s Suite and our deluxe package. All of the pertinent details are in that folder, but rest assured that you aren’t being charged extra. This is our friendly Monogram Resort and Spa congratulations on your happy news!”

Patrick blinked but smiled. “Thank you, but that’s totally unnecessary.”

“Well, I’ve already done everything, so please enjoy, gentleman,” she said.

Patrick started to say something else, but David put a hand on his shoulder. “Honey, really, we can’t turn down their generosity, can we?” David said. His eyebrows were doing something very aggressive that Patrick could barely stopped himself from laughing as he took David’s meaning.

“All right, all right, dear. I know when I’ve been beat,” Patrick said. He grinned at the face David made and turned back to the clerk, who, thankfully, just looked amused that their antics. “And our bags?”

She pointed behind them to where David was standing next to a bellhop. “Derek will make sure your belongings are sent up. You gentlemen are on the third floor, suite number 319. I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

They thanked her again, and the David lead Patrick over to Derek. “I literally cannot replace most of what is in my bag, so we need to make sure unfortunate dye job didn’t make off with my suitcase.”

Patrick raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. He was getting a clear picture that David had come from serious money, but didn’t have quite that much anymore. He probably wouldn’t get the full story, but did he really need it? It wasn’t like they were going to know each other after this trip - romcoms were not real life, after all.

“Mr and Mr Brewer! I was just asking Mark here to deliver your bags to your suite. Was there anything else I could help you with?”

“We kept our own names, actually,” David corrected him. He said it absently as he bent over to read the label on his suitcase. That was one reason for why he had let Rachel tie one of her scarves onto his duffle - easy identification. “Oh, good. That woman didn’t make off with it.”

“Oh, my apologizes!” Derek said, looking a little upset.

Patrick smiled at him and held his hand out for Derek to shake. “No worries, we just wanted to thank you for straightening all of that out. I should have taken care of it weeks ago.”

“It was no trouble at all,” Derek said. His handshake was quick and light, and he clasped his hands together as soon as they were released. “One of my favorite parts of the job! Now, Mark can lead you upstairs. Please enjoy the rest of your visit!”

It didn’t take long for them to go upstairs to their rooms. Mark was quiet and polite, but gave David a very warm smile when David handed over a tip.

“It pays to tip well,” David told Patrick as soon as they’d closed the door behind Mark. “Never piss off the staff - they can and will make life hellish if you do.”

“I take it you’ve done a lot of traveling,” Patrick said. He was taking in the scope of their room and he was pleasantly surprised at how grandiose it was. They were currently in a large main room, which had sofas and a desk and a dining table and large french doors leading out onto what looked like a balcony. There was one door that stood open to a small bathroom, and then another leading into what looked like a bedroom.

“Not nearly as much as my sister or our parents, but a fair bit, yeah,” David said absently. He had picked up his bag and was moving farther into their rooms.

He followed David into the bedroom. There was a Californian king taking up most of one wall with a massive canopy, from which hung gauzy white curtains, and had far too many tiny pillows at the headboard. It was strategically placed against the wall connected to the rest of the suite. At the end of the bed was a bench that David placed his suitcase onto with a satisfied thump.

“This will do,” he said happily. He turned and smiled at Patrick. “Plenty of room for two, even if they aren’t married.”

Patrick tried to smile back at him, because there was just something about David - who was classically beautiful - smiling with genuine light in his eyes, but Patrick could feel his smile turning more of grimace. He ducked his head before he could see David’s smile fall completely, rubbing at the back of his neck. For a lack of something to say, he surveyed the rest of the room, which was as airy and open and tasteful as the main room.

Rachel really would have loved it.

“I actually had booked this resort,” he finally said to break the silence. He’d gone over to the french doors to get a look at their second private balcony, and he could see them both clearly in their reflections. David was sitting on the bench, just watching Patrick, calm and still with his hands folded in his lap. “It was more my gift to Rachel than anything else, but. Yeah.”

“Rachel is your ex, I take it,” David said.

“Yeah, ex-fiance. Still my best friend,” Patrick agreed. He smiled a little at the thought of telling her about this, about everything that had transpired in the last few hours. “She’s going to get an absolute kick out of this.”

David chuckled a little. “Yeah, Stevie - she’s my ex and, well, current best friend, I guess? Maybe? She’d hate it if I said it to her, but that’s close enough. Anyway, she’s going to lose her mind if I tell her. She’d never admit it, but she’s totally addicted to Hallmark Channel movies.”

Patrick laughed. “I keep thinking this whole situation is like something out of a romantic comedy.”

“It is, though hopefully a Sandra Bullock production level,” David agreed. “Or maybe Julia Stiles.”

Patrick just shook his head, smiling. He was sure this shouldn’t be as much fun as it currently was.

“You know you don’t have to tell me anything else, right?” David said. Gone was the smile and in its place was a more serious expression of something a little darker that Patrick couldn’t quite identify. “We’re here to have fun, and we don’t have to do anything else.”

“And how will we explain that?” Patrick asked. He turned around. “Because we got pretty cozy in the shuttle.”

David shrugged. “We do what we feel comfortable with. Fuck everyone else.” He stopped and looked Patrick over, taking in how tense he was and how he had shoved his hands back into his pockets. “I know I said I wouldn’t pry, but may I ask a question?”

Patrick tried not to tense up more, actively worked to loosen himself up a little. He probably owed David a little honesty and it didn’t look like he was going to be able to say anything himself. “Questions are okay.”

“Okay,” David said. “Why’d you and Rachel break up?”

Patrick took a deep breath and let it out slowly. David wasn’t going to make a big deal out of Patrick being gay, he was pretty sure. There was ample evidence that it wasn’t something that bothered him. It was just…it’d been hard enough to come to terms with it himself, and then to come out to Rachel and their parents. But…

He’d basically already came out to David, hadn’t he?

“Rachel is a wonderful woman and I love her, I do, and probably always will, but.” Patrick paused and shrugged. “It wasn’t right. I wasn’t right. I couldn’t do that to her.”

“You weren’t right?” David asked. His nose was scrunched up like he’d smelled something horrid.

Patrick rewound what he’d said and winced. That wasn’t what he’d meant, but it certainly didn’t sound good. “That wasn’t what I meant. I…I really don’t have the words for this.”

“Okay,” David said. He paused, and then nodded to himself before standing. He held his hand out to Patrick, and then shook it when Patrick didn’t immediately take it. “No, seriously, come on.”

Patrick looked at David, who was obviously getting more impatient with each passing second, and then mentally shrugged. He’d trusted David this far. He reached out and took David’s hand. “Where are we going?”

“Dinner,” David said. He lead Patrick out of the bedroom and over to the desk in the main room. “I don’t know why, but I get that this might be a conversation you need to have, and it’s always better on a full stomach.”

He grabbed the room service menu and held it out to Patrick. “We need food and I, for one, need a shower. I’m thinking pasta and a salad, taking turns in the shower, and then picking this conversation back up when we’re both more comfortable.”

“I’m making you uncomfortable?”

“Lord, honey, no,” David said. He rubbed his free hand along Patrick’s shoulder absently. “Seven hours of travel, being trapped in a tin can of germ incubation, and just general grime is making me uncomfortable. And I meant it - these conversations never go well on an empty stomach.”

Patrick opened his mouth to argue, then stopped himself. David was making sense, and Patrick was positive that if he said that, no, he didn’t want to have this conversation, then David would drop it. Except, Patrick did want to have this conversation and he thought David was right. Patrick needed to have it, and who better to have it with then someone who’d probably have a better chance at understanding where exactly he was coming from.

“All right,” he agreed. He had to stop himself from kissing David’s cheek when David beamed at him. It was an automatic reaction, something he would have done with Rachel or any of the other women he had dated. Apparently his subconscious had already put David into that ‘significant other’ box in his brain. “Is there any particular kind of pasta you’d like?”

David shook his head. “I prefer a red sauce, but as long as there is pasta and a green salad, I’ll be happy.”

“All right,” Patrick repeated. He held the room service menu up. “I’ll call dinner in if you want to go shower.”

“Okay,” David said. But he didn’t move, just smiled at Patrick, a small twisting of his lips to the side. As Patrick opened his mouth to ask him what was wrong, David shook his head and leaned in. His free hand came up and cradled Patrick’s jaw, and he kissed Patrick. It was a soft kiss - all sweet and gentle and barely there - and it lasted a grand total of two seconds.

Patrick felt like he’d taken a line drive square to the gut.

“Okay,” David repeated. His breath ghosted across Patrick’s lips as he slowly pulled away. His thumb rubbed gently over Patrick’s cheek before he let go and fully stepped away. “Just wanted to do that real quick.”

Patrick blinked his eyes open, taking in David’s very pleased face before he shook his head. “Can I…why?”

David cocked his head to the side, his mouth twisted up again as he fought another grin and didn’t quite manage it. “Well, one, I wanted to; you’re cute and funny. And, two, let that serve to remind you that you’re not alone here. Don’t want you getting too lost up there.” He ran a finger along Patrick’s hairline at that.

Patrick wrinkled his nose a bit. “How’d you guess?”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve helped someone with this conversation,” David said with a shrug. “It is the first one I’m, like, actively invested in, though.”

Patrick wasn’t sure how to take that. Part of him was happy for the confirmation that David was experienced at, well, all of this, and that he didn’t seem to mind that Patrick was still floundering a little. Well, a lot, honestly, but he was pretty sure he hadn’t given off that bad of an impression.

Another part of him, the angry and insecure part, didn’t feel at all comfortable with this. It wasn’t even that Patrick was out of his element - he’d spent most of his dating life uncomfortable, so that was was old hat for him. It was more…he felt suspicious. Of David being so willing to help and for his reasons for being so willing.

Patrick pushed those thoughts aside. There was nothing in their encounter up until now that lead Patrick to believe that David had any intention of harming him. He was being kind. Plus, he thought Patrick was cute and funny. He was interested in Patrick and Patrick was interested right back. He could afford to make himself a little vulnerable. They only had two weeks and Patrick wanted to make the most of it.

“All right,” Patrick finally said. David looked at him curiously and tilted his head a little to the side. Patrick couldn’t hold back his grin - the hot guy he approached was interested in him! - and he stepped back into David’s space. “One thing before you go shower, though.”

“Yes?” David asked. His hands had come up to settle onto Patrick’s hips. Just resting, not holding, giving Patrick free rein.

Patrick put one hand on David’s shoulder and used the other to tilt David’s face down for another kiss. This one was just as soft and sweet as the first, though it lasted a little longer. David was grinning at Patrick when Patrick pulled away.

“Just wanted to assure you that you aren’t alone either,” Patrick said. He ducked his head as he stepped back. He spotted the room service menu on the desk where he’d dropped it when David had kissed him. He picked it up and waved it a little. “I’ll just go ahead and get started with this, yeah?”

David huffed out a soft laugh. “Fair enough. Remember, pasta and…”

“Red sauce with a green salad,” Patrick finished. “I’ve got you covered.”

David just smiled again as he made his way back across the room. His fingers traced lightly across Patrick’s back as he went.

|-|

An hour and a half later and they were settling down in the little sitting area. David had pulled up some music on the room’s stereo system that was soft and light and full of pianos, and they both had refilled glasses of wine. Dinner had been a quiet affair, the two of them eating and making light getting to know you conversations. Patrick was funny and quick, with a beautiful laugh, and a real talent for story telling.

Back when David had had money, he’d never known what to do with someone like Patrick. There was just something so genuine and open about him, and everyone pre-Schitt’s Creek who’d acted like that had seemed to have ulterior motives. And those ulterior motives rarely had anything pleasant for David.

But post-Schitt’s Creek, David had met so many genuine, forthright people. Some he would prefer to never have to socialize with (Roland and Bob), but others were okay (Stevie and Twyla). Patrick fell very firmly in the latter category. David couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Patrick at the bar in the cafe, chatting with Stevie or Twyla. He’d get along with both of them, for certain, and David would probably end up at the wrong end of whatever jokes and schemes that Patrick and Stevie would come up with.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Patrick asked.

David blinked over at him, startled out of his thoughts. Patrick was curled up at the other end of the sofa, his feet tucked in underneath him. It was such a contrast to how David had sat, his back to the armrest, facing Patrick with his feet propped up on the cushions between them.

“Nothing important. Just thinking that if you ever met my best friend, I’d be done for,” David said. He took a sip of his wine to cover his smile at the pleased look that crossed Patrick’s face.

“All in good fun,” Patrick assured him.

David rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Because that matters.”

Patrick laughed. He reached over and patted David’s foot. “I’m sure you’d survive, a big tough guy like you.”

David made a face. “Yeah, how about no?” he returned. He wiggled his toes under Patrick’s hand, but didn’t try to pull away. He watched Patrick for a moment, who was watching him back just as calmly. His thumb was absently rubbing over the top of David’s toes. “You ready to continue our earlier conversation?”

Patrick made a little face and tried to cover it up by taking a sip of his wine. “As I’ll ever be, I guess. I mean, what’s so special about not figuring out you’re gay until your thirties.”

David turned his head to the side, watching Patrick closely. The other man had looked away from David halfway through his statement, and there was a faint flush climbing up his neck. He’d gone from loose and relaxed to tense and terse in a matter of seconds. David just wanted to pull him close and rub the tension from his shoulders.

David glanced briefly at his wine and wondered if he’d already had too much of it. This wasn’t his normal bag - being someone’s emotional support, he meant - and he idly wondered where it was coming from.

“You know, there isn’t a set timeline for figuring these things out, right?” David finally asked. He hadn’t lied when he’d said he’d done this kind of thing before. But that had mostly involved copious amounts of alcohol and giving the other person the room to ramble on. Most people, David had found, just needed a little prompting before they’d spill out every thought in their heads. And then all David had needed to do was gently steer the conversation in one direction or the other.

Patrick, it seemed, just clammed up instead.

“Doesn’t change that I should have known what was wrong,” Patrick said. He still wasn’t looking away from the wall across from the couch. There was a very lovely landscape hanging there, probably hiding a recessed television, but David was sure that Patrick wasn’t seeing it at all. “Over ten years of on again, off again with Rachel, and it takes me breaking down in a panic three months before our wedding for me to cotton on to it. Broke Rachel’s and our parent’s hearts because I was too stupid to see the truth.”

“No, not stupid,” David said, his voice soft, but firm. Of all of the things he had done or seen and ignored, and this was the thing that he’d never let stand. “Everyone’s journey is different. Some people know really early, some never figure it out. I’ve known plenty of people who claimed one label, but changed it later when they found something that fit them better. Some people never stop changing them, and some just say ‘not straight’ and go on with their lives.”

He lifted the foot Patrick wasn’t touching and poked him gently in the leg. Patrick gave him this little annoyed look that made him look as threatening as a drenched kitten, but at least he was looking at David now.

“That’s a part of life, isn’t it? Learning more about yourself every step of the way,” David smiled at that, mostly to himself, at the realization of just how much he had been working at not noticing the changes in himself over the past few years. Self-reflection was not a time honored tradition of the Rose family, after all.

“Seems pretty…off not to figure something like like out earlier,” Patrick argued. But it didn’t sound like his heart was really in it.

David shrugged. “Sure, maybe. But let me ask you this: when you were growing up, at what point did you decide that you weren’t gay? When did you decide that you were straight?”

Patrick opened his mouth before pausing and closing it again. He went back to staring at the painting and David took another sip of his wine, waiting him out. Patrick frowned and turned back to David after a couple of minutes. “I never actually did. It was. We all just assumed. I assumed.”

David nodded. “Yeah, kind of awful how straightness is the baseline assumption, isn’t it?”

“Huh,” Patrick said. He sat in quiet contemplation for another few minutes. “Fair enough, I suppose. Still doesn’t absolve me from hurting Rachel.”

David shrugged again. “Didn’t you say you were still pretty close to her?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Then why are you borrowing trouble?” David asked. He knew that was a little rich of him, David Rose, worrier and champion trouble borrower, but it wasn’t like Patrick knew enough about him to call him on it.

Patrick rolled his eyes, but David could see the grin he couldn’t quite tamp down. “All right then, Mr. Smartypants. Your turn.”

“Me? Oh, I knew I wasn’t straight before I hit puberty. Everyone was stupidly attractive to me,” David said. He gestured at Patrick with his wine glass, deliberately using flashy and flowing movements. David could encapsulate queer very easily. “But I’m also one of those people who doesn’t care for labels. I’ll use them if it’ll help clarify for people, but it isn’t my default.”

“Oh, and if you don’t mind me asking, what label do you use when you’re in the mood to use them?” Patrick asked. He sounded curious, but not hostile or defensive.

“If I have to? Pansexual,” David said. At Patrick’s curious look, he clarified, “It means, as I define it, that I’m sexually attracted to my gender and other genders. Basically, I like the person, not the label. But I’ve also just used queer. It really depends on my mood and the crowd.”

He watched Patrick digest that for a few minutes. He wondered if he should clarify with the metaphor he used with Stevie, but decides against it. He and Stevie…rarely talked frankly with one another unless something was very wrong. Patrick, on the other hand, had been fairly forthright.

“Still with me?” David asked when they’d gone through two whole songs.

“What? Oh,” Patrick said. He was blushing when he looked over at David. “Sorry about that; got lost in my thoughts.”

“Fair enough,” David said. “Are you feeling a little more settled?”

“Um, yeah,” Patrick said with a little laugh. “Sorry. I haven’t really had many people to talk to about…any of this?”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I’m not fully out. Back home, I mean,” Patrick said. He rubbed at the back of his neck again. “I mean, Rachel and our parents all know, but not many others. Or anyone, really. Didn’t know how to bring it up. Wasn’t sure I really even wanted to.”

“Hmmm,” David hummed. He smiled overly bright at Patrick. “And here you are, out and proud and fake married to a man even!”

Patrick rolled his eyes even as he laughed. “I’m not ashamed of who I am, David. This is just new, is all.”

David nodded and finished off his wine before setting the glass down on the coffee table. Between traveling and their fantastic dinner and half a bottle of wine, David was ready for bed. “Well, if you want to talk about it more, I’m here for another two weeks. A lifetime of queer experience at your disposal.”

“Thank you, David,” Patrick said. It sounded sarcastic, but David could clearly see the crinkling around his eyes enough to know that Patrick was really laughing at him. “I’ll have to see about taking you up on that.”

“Do,” David said. Which wasn’t what he had been going to say, but there it was. A little too earnest, but for the sake of transparency it was probably better that they stayed honest and open with each other. Or, open-ish. No need to hash out everything right then and there. “Well, as much fun as I’m having, I’m going to fall asleep sitting up at this point.”

Patrick nodded. “Yeah, it’s been a long day.” He looked at his wine for a moment, and then downed the rest of it. “Right. Bed, then.”

David stood up, with a surprising amount of grace, if he did say so himself, especially given how tired he was. He held out a hand to Patrick, who blinked up at him before taking it. David pulled him to his feet. “I’m going to hug you now, if that’s all right?”

Patrick smiled at him, eyes crinkling again. It was a good look on him. “Sure thing.” He tugged David into the hug before David could do the same. His arms settled around David’s waist and he tucked his head neatly under David’s chin.

It was an easy fit. David marveled at it even as he wrapped his arms around Patrick’s shoulders and pulled him close. He pressed his cheek to the top of Patrick’s head. “Nothing has to happen, just so you’re aware. No matter what we’re telling everyone else.”

“And if I wanted it to?” Patrick asked, voice quiet and soft, but not at all hesitant.

“Then we’ll talk about it,” David said. There was something so unguarded about Patrick that made it easy to admit, “I like you, what I’ve seen thus far, anyway. You can set the pace, honey.”

Patrick mulled that over for a minute. David ran his hands up and down Patrick’s back, just waiting patiently. “Thank you, David. I’ll…I’ll let you know. Okay?”

“Okay,” David agreed. He gave him another full body squeeze and then pulled back. He grabbed Patrick’s hand before he got too far though. “Come on. Bed.”

He lead a laughing Patrick into the bedroom, feeling a little like he was back in grade school. That was the last time he’d had anything like a traditional sleepover - non-sexual and innocent, anyway, which was as far from what everything had turned into after about grade 10 or so for David - which was what this felt like. There were no expectations of anything. They were literally just there to sleep.

It crossed David’s mind, as they were curling up next to each other under the covers, not touching but within an arms length of one another, that it was perfectly plausible that he had just made a friend.

|-|

The next few days passed in a somewhat dreamy haze. Patrick hadn’t been sure what to expect, either from himself or from David, but he wouldn’t have guessed the easy friendship that sprung up between them. It made it easy to act excited to be spending time together, and teasing David relentlessly over his opinions and viewpoints, at how he got excited over things that Patrick had never considered or had even realized existed.

As the days passed, Patrick came to realize that he genuinely enjoyed David’s company. He was a little eccentric, a lot over the top, and a little bit judgy, but he was genuinely a kind person. He treated every worker they met politely and remembered all of their names and even the little tidbits about themselves that they happened to reveal. Patrick had never thought that he’d be the kind of person who fell into anything quickly - he certainly hadn’t with Rachel or any of the other odd women he’d dated - but Patrick could easily see himself falling for David.

It helped that David didn’t actually judge. True, he had his own opinions - so many of them, really, it was kind of overwhelming - but he listened and told stories and gave Patrick viewpoints that he didn’t think he would ever have come across on his own. And he answered Patrick’s questions, even if those answers came with a twenty minute lecture on incorrectness and stereotypes.

They were at dinner in the fancy hotel restaurant - “Three stars,” David had sniffed. “Not bad for the middle of nowhere.” - on the fourth day. David was just winding down on his fifteen minute lecture on the proper use of pronouns and the inappropriateness of assuming a correlation between kink and trans identities. Patrick was unclear about how they had actually gotten onto that topic, but it was certainly informative.

And then David had stopped and glared at Patrick. It was actually a surprisingly effective look, if not at that exact moment, because Patrick’s amusement took the sting out of the look. “What, may I ask, is so funny?”

“You,” Patrick said. And then he waved away David’s affronted look as he continued. “You are a really kind person, is all, which kind of contradicts your fussiness.”

“‘Fussiness’?” David repeated. His glare intensified. “I am not fussy. I just know what is correct and I refuse to not fix what I can.”

“Kind of the definition of fussy there,” Patrick said. He took a sip of his beer and smiled when David huffed and went back to his salmon. “It’s not a bad thing to be sure of yourself, David. I like seeing that confidence; makes it easy to ask you questions. Even if I still don’t really see the point of six forks.”

David sighed. “At most you have three forks. Four if there are oysters. Not six.”

“As you said,” Patrick agreed. “See? I’m learning new things. Thank you.”

David rolled his eyes, but Patrick had learned to read the amusement on David’s face, even when he acted annoyed. It was the best part of riling him up. David was a good looking man in general, but there was just something so sexy about the fire in his eyes when he was good and annoyed. Or speaking passionately about something. Or just in general.

Patrick had started to think that this attraction that he was feeling towards David was getting out of hand, that it was going to be a problem, and then David would do something that reminded Patrick that he found Patrick attractive. It made Patrick want to act on his desires, and he was still figuring out how he was going to do that.

Dinner was finished in a companionable silence, except for a small argument over dessert. It hadn’t taken Patrick long to realize just how large of a sweet tooth that David had.

“Look, I can’t have dessert every night!” David protested. “I still need to fit into my clothes at the end of this trip!”

“David, we’ll go for a walk through the gardens after dinner,” Patrick said. Then he gave him a dirty smile and a wink. “We’ll work off the extra calories.

David rolled his eyes again with a huff, even as their waiter tried and failed to hide his smile. “Fine! But if I can’t fit in my Givenchy’s at the end of the week, you’re in trouble, mister.”

Patrick held his hands up in surrender, laughing. “Duly noted, dear.”

David got his own back, though, when he sweet talked their waiter into bringing them one dessert with two forks. Followed by him hamming it up, pretending to feed Patrick before stealing each of those bites for himself. Patrick just rolled his eyes and shook his head, trying and failing to hide a smile. He maybe got one bite to David’s two, but it was worth it, to see how playful it made David.

|-|

If David were forced to admit his favorite part of this particular resort, he would have to say the old school English gardens that were hidden at the rear of the Manor House. They were only accessible from the lobby that connected to the respectable three star restaurant they had just eaten in, but their suite’s balconies actually overlooked them. There were fountains and a greenhouse with exotic flowers and (seasonally) butterflies and a few different ponds and the (possibly) natural creek connecting them and, most importantly, a hedge maze.

“Where would you like to walk tonight, honey?” David asked Patrick as they walked out onto the delightful stone terrace that overlooked the main part of the gardens. There was actually a little section off to the far side of the terrace where the resort did a breakfast buffet slash cafe aesthetic that David was determined to try before they left. They hadn’t thus far because David hadn’t quite been able to resist the siren call of room service. Also, sleeping in a bed larger than his ratty twin back at the motel. That came with a really hot guy.

Patrick made a couple of considering noises as they made their way across the terrace. Just when David was going to prod him into actually answering, he looked up and laughed. “Oh, don’t be a sourpuss. We should walk the hedge maze again. I think I’ve figured out how to get to the gazebo.”

David rolled his eyes, turning slightly so that Patrick didn’t see him smiling. Patrick had said that every single time they’d tried the maze, but hadn’t managed to follow through yet. David wasn’t sure why they kept messing up, considering they’d both been studying the layout from their room.

“Want to make a bet of that?” David asked. He blinked innocently when Patrick turned and looked at him suspiciously. One of the things that had become abundantly clear was that Patrick had a bit of a competitive streak. David figured that it had something to do with all the sportsball he filled his life with.

Thirty plus years around his father and David had managed to not get involved in the man’s love for baseball. Then David met Patrick. He’d learned far more than he’d wanted to, even if it was cute watching Patrick get so animate explaining the sport that he loved.

“Okay,” Patrick finally said. That competitive gleam was back in his eyes. David liked that look for him. “What are we betting?”

David pursed his lips as he pretended to think about it. In reality, neither of them had much to bet with, given that neither was willing to bring actual money into it. Also, David cared more about riling Patrick up then he did the actual bet. “How about…a kiss.”

“A kiss?” Patrick repeated. He steered them down the stairs and along the main path towards the maze, guiding David with the arm he had looped through David’s. The sun was just starting to set and they passed a few other patrons coming back from their own excursions. “How exactly is that something I couldn’t have otherwise?”

David smiled. They had been doing a fair amount of innocent making out. Innocent in that Patrick had clearly enjoyed the experience, but hadn’t even hinted at being interested in more. That was a shame, in David’s opinion, but he wasn’t going to complain. Patrick was very good at ‘just kissing’. Just another reason for why the two of them hadn’t actually made it out of the room before breakfast stopped being served.

“Consider it incentive, honey. I would actually like to see this gazebo up close before we leave.”

“Incentive,” Patrick grumbled. He had a pleased smile on his face, so David knew he was just joking.

They traded quips back and forth as they started the maze. David told Patrick a story about one of the fancy parties his family had attended, way back when, that had been staged in a giant hedge maze. There had been a significant amount of booze and drugs involved. David was also insistent in his belief that his mother was responsible for burning half of it to the ground.

“Your mother sounds like a real firecracker,” Patrick said. He laughed at the pained grimace that David made at the pun. “What’d I say?”

“No, we are not doing puns,” David told him with a shudder. Ted had been bad enough. “Alexis’s ex-fiance was bad enough.”

Patrick laughed again. He paused for a moment, seemingly to get his bearings, and then turned them down a fork David didn’t think they’d walked yet. It moved them away from the series of bridges that crossed over the creek anyway. “Come on. We’re almost there.”

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” David told him. But maybe the fifth time was the charm.

“Trust me,” Patrick said.

David blinked for a moment as the realization hit that he did, in fact, trust Patrick. That was unexpected.

“And here we are!” Patrick exclaimed as they came around a corner into an open field surrounded by the tall hedges. He flourished elegantly with his free arm at the fabled gazebo at the center of the maze. “Your gazebo, dear. Now pay up.”

David rolled his eyes. “Wow. Such romance. Much woo.”

Patrick almost, almost, managed to keep a straight face. David watched him, as unamused as he could, but couldn’t help smiling when Patrick lost it. He was laughing so hard that he actually doubled over, which David thought was a bit much.

“Okay, really? Not actually that funny,” David protested when Patrick didn’t seem inclined to stop laughing.

Patrick waved a hand through the air as he tried to catch his breath. “Sorry, sorry. It’s just. My cousin Sam? That’s how she responded to her husband’s proposal.”

David blinked. He tried to picture a proposal that would warrant such a response, but had to stop when each one successive one escalated from amusing to outright cringeworthy horror. “I don’t think I want to know.”

“Probably for the best,” Patrick agreed. He wiped tears away from his eyes before reaching out for David’s hand. “Come on. We have a gazebo to explore.”

David didn’t think there was really much to explore - it wasn’t a very big gazebo, given that it was maybe half the size of the room he shared with his sister - but he took Patrick’s hand, nonetheless. Patrick’s excitement was contagious, and neither of them could stop smiling as they ran the rest of the path and up the wooden stairs.

David hadn’t been wrong about the size of the gazebo. But the actual architectural design made it feel very open and airy, and much, much larger. It was all done up with delicate, scroll-like woodwork and it over looked a small pond and the creek that ran through it.

David had originally thought that a creek running through the center of a hedge maze was ridiculous and incorrect. Now that he had seen it with his own eyes, it was. Well, it was still ridiculous and incorrect, but also somehow wistful and romantic.

“This isn’t as horrible as I had been imagining,” David said as Patrick pulled him down onto the bench at the center of the smallish space.

“If you thought it was going to be horrible, then why did we spend so much time trying to get here?” Patrick asked. He twisted on the seat, one leg bent onto the bench between them and the other flat footed on the ground. He had one hand hooked in David’s arm and the other was on David’s thigh, gently rubbing in small circles.

David knew Patrick probably didn’t know or notice what his hand was doing, that it was just some kind of subconscious reaction Patrick just had in being physically close to someone . Hell, David had woken up that morning curled up against Patrick’s side and Patrick had been absently running his hand over David’s shoulder and arm as he read on his phone. That’s what had woken him up - the quiet, gentle feeling of Patrick’s hand on his body. But innocent because aside from a few kisses before David had gotten up to shower, Patrick hadn’t done anything else.

That hadn’t been the first time that David had wished that these two weeks could turn into something more. The more he got to know Patrick, the more he wanted to know. Even worse, the more David wanted to open up to him. David hadn’t wanted to do that with anyone in years, except for Stevie. And Stevie had been the exception to the rule because Stevie hadn’t destroyed him; hadn’t left him worse off than he had been when he started.

“David?” Patrick asked. He sounded a little worried and that was what snapped him out of his thoughts. “You okay?”

David gave himself a little shake, as if he could physically push away the memories of being left behind, heartbroken and, unfortunately more than once, actually broken. “I am, sorry. Just got lost in my thoughts.”

Patrick lifted his free hand to David’s face. He didn’t do anything other than run his fingers gently along David’s jaw. Patrick did that a lot. David suspected that he really liked the reminder that David’s insistent five o’clock shadow gave him. “Those didn’t look like happy thoughts.”

David shook his head again, but not hard enough to knock away Patrick’s hand. In fact, he brought his own hand up to cup Patrick’s, pressing Patrick’s fingers firmly against his skin. “They weren’t; it happens. Don’t worry about it.”

Patrick gave him a small smile. “How about we give you something else to think about?”

“Oh? What do you have in mind, Mr. Brewer?” David asked, eyebrow raised. He licked his lips as a few very dirty fantasies flashed before his mind’s eye.

Patrick’s smile shifted to something closer to dangerous and David could see his eyes tracking David’s tongue as it dragged briefly along his bottom lip. “Hmm, well, you lost our bet, Mr. Rose. I think it may be time for you to pay up.”

Patrick didn’t let David answer. He just pulled him down the scant inches needed to put his lips on David’s. This kiss started out soft and gentle, a simple press of their lips together, before Patrick groaned and deepened the kiss. He tilted David’s head to a better angle, bit at David’s bottom lip, sharp and sudden, and when David gasped, slid his tongue into David’s mouth.

It was a long kiss and nothing about it was particularly gentle. David dropped his free hand onto Patrick’s shoulder and just held on, letting Patrick take what he wanted, and then dragged him back in when he started to move away.

This was nothing like their other kisses. It was wild and sexy and it sent shivers of pleasure along David’s nerve endings. He heard himself gasp and sigh, heard Patrick’s answering moans, and suddenly was fervently grateful that they were in a public place. Because if Patrick had kissed him like this in their rooms? David didn’t think that he would have been able to keep his promise not to push for more.

As it was, David could feel himself stirring. It only got worse when Patrick pulled himself away from David’s mouth, using his grip at the back of David’s head (when had Patrick put his hands in David’s hair? David didn’t know, but a sharp tug made him whine) to tilt David’s head back. Then his lips were on David’s throat, dragging along his skin until he came to the thick ribbon of muscle, where he bit down, sharp and perfect. David cried out, mind whiting out for a moment with the sharp, painful pleasure.

Patrick just stayed there, sucking and biting bruising kisses into David’s neck. David clung to him, his hand going to the back of Patrick’s head to hold him there.

This was what David had had fantasies of when in the shower. He’d known that there was an edge to Patrick, a little bit of sharpness that he kept firmly in check when they were making out in their bed, and damn if David hadn’t wanted to just push him enough to let that edge out. There was nothing quite like confidence in a bed partner and nothing was better than someone who knew what they wanted and was willing to take it. And Patrick had that in spades.

“Patrick,” David moaned, hips jerking as Patrick found a sensitive spot just under the collar of David’s sweater. He felt more than heard Patrick’s answering groan as Patrick bit down again, even harder than before. David’s blood sang in pleasure, and he knew he was going to have a mark there that lasted days. Fuck if that wasn’t the hottest thought he’d had in weeks.

When David felt his head start to spin, he pulled Patrick up into another kiss. This time, he took control and used every trick he’d learned over the years to drive Patrick as crazy has he’d driven David. It was Patrick’s turn to jerk and moan, clinging to David as he tried to drag them closer together.

Distant laughter that was slowly growing louder broke into their little bubble a few minutes later. They jumped apart, Patrick nearly falling off of the bench before David could grab a hold of him and keep him from breaking his head open. They were both breathing hard and Patrick had a wild look to his eyes that David knew was reflected in his own.

When his heart had settled a little from that fright, David hooked a hand behind Patrick’s head and pulled him back in for another kiss. He kept it soft and gentle, mostly just quick presses of their lips together as their breathing slowed. Eventually, as the distant laughter became much, much less distant, David pulled back far enough to just press their heads together.

“Fuck, David,” Patrick said. He had one hand curled in David’s and the other was running up and down David’s side. He sounded awed and a little out of his depth and more than a little turned on. David couldn’t help smiling at the sound of it.

“Yes, honey?” he teased, his smile turning into a grin as Patrick tried to glare at him. His pupils were pretty blown, so it didn’t quite work as well as he’d probably wanted. “You didn’t like your kiss?”

“You are a tease,” Patrick declared. He followed it up with another kiss, a hard press of their lips together and a hint of tongue at the edge of David’s mouth, before he pulled away again. He opened his mouth to say something else, but closed it again just as quickly, suddenly shy.

David rubbed his thumb gently against the side of Patrick’s neck, just under his ear, smiling a little at the shiver that drew out of Patrick. “Yes? Did you want something?”

It took a moment, but finally Patrick gasped out, “You. I want you, David.” He’d been looking David directly in the eye as he said it, but then dropped his gaze. “If…if that’s something you’d... If that’s all right?”

“Oh, honey,” David said. He kissed Patrick again, soft and sweet. “Yes, that’s all right. Yes, I want that. We should probably head back to the room though.”

Patrick blinked and looked around the gazebo. It was obvious that he had lost track of where they were, and an adorable blush spread across his cheeks. David couldn’t help pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Right. The room.”

“I mean, I wouldn’t mind showing you off, but I’m guessing that’s not something you’d be very comfortable with,” David teased. It had the desired reaction - pulling Patrick back out of his head - even if it meant Patrick digging his fingers into the ticklish spot under David’s ribs. David yelped and twisted away, internally cursing the fact that Patrick had found that spot so early on. It was worth it to see Patrick smiling at him again.

“Come on, then,” Patrick said, climbing to his feet. He held his hand out for David. He was obviously dishevelled and his too tight jeans were even tighter than usual, but he was smiling happily at David. It was a look that David wanted to see more often, even if it meant others would see it on the way back to the room.

Well, screw it. They were supposed to be on their honeymoon after all.

David took Patrick’s hand and let him pull him to his feet. He did take a second to straighten his own clothes, pulling his sweater back down around his hips, covering his own nearly unfit for public reaction. He couldn’t help smiling when he caught Patrick looking at his pants and licking his lips. “See something you like?”

Patrick eyes snapped up to his and his blush deepened. But then he smiled, shark-like, and stepped up into David’s space. This ended with the two of them pressed tightly together, David’s arms around Patrick’s shoulders and Patrick’s hands very low on David’s back. David couldn’t help shivering at the press of their bodies together.

“I don’t know what you could possibly mean, dear,” Patrick teased. He was just smiling up at David, even as both of his hands moved down to cup David’s ass. He squeezed, quick and hard, a move that pressed them even more tightly together. “Something like this maybe?”

David couldn’t stop his moan or how his head fell forward or how he was shaking in response to the tingling all around pleasure. Patrick may have never been with a man before, but David was suddenly both very jealous and very appreciative of all the women that Patrick had been with. All of the small things that shouldn’t get under David’s skin - either because they were comparatively tame or because David had been there, done that a thousand times - were suddenly absolutely things David couldn’t get enough of.

“Sorry, I missed what you said there,” Patrick said. He had pressed his face against the side of David’s head and David could feel his smile. His hands hadn’t stopped squeezing in a way that had David moaning. “Want to try that again?”

“You are such a tease,” David gasped out. He raised his head to look at Patrick, who was trying so hard not to laugh at him. David narrowed his eyes before grabbing Patrick’s head and pulling him into a deep, biting kiss. Two could play at that game. He pulled back with a smirk when he felt Patrick’s knees go weak, his grip on David seemingly the only thing keeping him standing. “I’ve had about enough of that.”

Patrick blinked up at him, looking adorably lost for a moment. “Enough of what?”

“These public displays of affection,” David said. He pressed a kiss to Patrick’s cheek before pulling back completely. He took Patrick’s hand in his and gave it a tug. “Come on, honey. Time to take this back to the room.”

Patrick, looking deliciously disheveled and happy, blinked again before shaking his head, and then his shoulders. “Right. Too many people here.” He looked pointedly around them, where they still had the whole of the clearing to themselves. The people they’d heard must have taken one of the wrong turns that had thwarted them on their own previous attempts at the maze.

“Hmmm,” David hummed, smiling. “Yes, that, and I have plans for you, mister. And I don’t find the possibility of arrest for public indecency to be very alluring.”

Patrick visibly gulped, and then ducked his head, but not fast enough to hide his smile. “I…Okay.”

David smile grew as he lead them back up the path and into the hedge maze. He realized his mistake in taking the lead when they got to the first fork that he didn’t recognize.

Luckily Patrick only laughed a little before taking over getting them safely back to the hotel.

|-|

The swirling want that had settled deep into Patrick’s bones on their walk back did little to cover the sparking anxiety swirling in his stomach as he thought about what they were going to do. He knew - knew, not believed - that if he told David that he wasn’t actually up for doing anything else, that David would back off. David would probably ask if he could hug him, and then they’d curl up on the couch and watch another romantic comedy before going to bed, and that that would be that.

And Patrick would be disappointed, but also sickly relieved, like the time that Rachel hadn’t been able to make it to Patrick’s college on her fall break because of a cold. Patrick knew he could be confident about everything, right up until the final stretch, which was where his nerves mostly got the best of him.

Patrick didn’t want that to happen here.

“So, should we order some champagne or would you like to just skip the pretense?” David asked when they’d finally gotten back into their room. They’d both taken off their shoes and socks, a much faster procedure for Patrick than David, and Patrick had just been watching David with his hands jammed into his front pockets. David had looked up at the end of his sentence, a teasing, flirty smile on his face that had slowly slid off as he’d taken in how Patrick had been standing. “Patrick?”

Patrick watched David’s expression change, felt disappointment start to coldly lick at his own joints, and then thought, ‘Fuck it.’ He wanted David, David wanted him, and there was literally nothing but Patrick's own anxiety holding them back. And, frankly, Patrick wasn’t willing to let that stand.

Patrick took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders back as he pulled his hands out of his pockets, and gave David a thorough once over. He watched as David’s expression shifted back worried to wanting, and it sparked off another wave of lust in Patrick. He stalked over to David, put one hand on his waist to pull him close, and hooked the other around David’s neck to pull him down into another biting kiss.

When they finally pulled back from one another, they were both breathing heavily and it took a few seconds before David managed to blink the dazed expression off of his face. Patrick’s hand was now cupping David’s jaw, his thumb rubbing gently under David’s bottom lip, while his other hand had slid just under David’s sweater, his fingers dipping under his waistband.

“We could do champagne,” Patrick said. He slid his hand further under David’s waistband. “Unless you can think of something else we could be doing?”

David hummed quietly, his back arching slightly at Patrick’s wandering touch. He had wrapped his arms around Patrick’s shoulders while they kissed and one hand was playing with Patrick’s hair, tugging gently on the short hair there. Patrick’s eyes half-closed at a particularly sharp tug and David’s answering grin was just as sharp.

“I can think of a few things,” David told him. He dipped his head down long enough to brush his lips across Patrick’s, and then he was pulling away completely. He walked backwards towards the bedroom, smirking as he crooked a finger in Patrick’s direction. “Come on, honey. This’ll work better with a little more show.”

Patrick started after him and almost stumbled over his own feet when David reached down and pulled his sweater off in one smooth movement. It left him in just his jeans - a pair with an acid wash that did nothing to hide any part of David’s lower body - and he laughed at Patrick’s reaction. It wasn’t a mean laugh, Patrick knew, it held no edges to cut either of them on. It sounded more joyful and happy, like David was having fun watching Patrick literally trip over himself in response to David.

Patrick liked it. He liked it a lot. He liked it a lot more than he should have, but that was a thought that he was going to have to come back to. Because David just draped his sweater over the back of the couch as he passed it, and then turned to walk the rest of the way into the bedroom. He didn’t even look over his shoulder to see if Patrick was following him.

Forty very energetic minutes later found the two of them curled together at the center of their bed. Patrick was still breathing heavily, and trying to pull himself back together. He was having a harder time of it than he would have thought he would have, but he apparently had been missing a lot more than he thought he had been.

“Damn, Patrick. That was beautiful,” David told him, rubbing a hand up and down his side.

Patrick blushed, ducking his head down against David’s shoulder. He could still feel that orgasm tingling along his nerves, lighting him up from the inside. He knew this was probably going to cause him problems in the not too far future, but he couldn’t regret any of it. “Thank you, David.”

“Thank you,” David returned. But there was something in his tone that Patrick knew meant he’d understood that Patrick hadn’t meant the sex. Or, at least, not just the sex.

Patrick smiled, even though he knew David couldn’t see it. This trip may very well be one of best things to ever happen to him. He knew it wasn’t going to last, but he was damn well going to make the most of it while he could.

|-|

David woke the next morning from a very pleasant dream with a moan. It took him a moment to realize that the pleasure he had been feeling wasn’t just from the dream, but from a little outside help. He opened his eyes to see Patrick on his side next to him, propped up on one elbow.

“Good morning, dear,” Patrick said when he saw David looking at him. “Sleep well?”

David opened his mouth to ask him what was going on, but had to stop and try to catch his breath. “What?”

“Oh, you mean this?” Patrick asked, teasingly. “Well, someone woke me up by being all handsy. Thought I should return the favor.”

David blinked at him for a second. He’d just woken up and was even more muddled than normal, so he figured Patrick would forgive him for not being at the top of his game right then. And then what Patrick said actually clicked through. David actually blushed. He hadn’t done that in years. The sleep sex thing, not the blushing.

“Um, sorry?” he gasped. But Patrick just chuckled and David proceeded to lose the next several minutes of his life.

“So, is that something that I should be expecting for the rest of this trip?” Patrick asked. They had curled up together in what was becoming David’s favorite place to be, namely with his head on Patrick’s chest and Patrick’s arm around his shoulders. The only real difference between the earlier part of the week and now was the fact that they were both naked.

David had barely managed to get the both of them through a shower the night before. And even then, he was pretty sure Patrick had been sleepwalking as David lead him back to bed. Getting them both back into clothes, even just underwear, had seemed like way too much of an effort.

“Making out?” David asked. He smiled when Patrick sighed and poked him in the shoulder. Sometimes Patrick gave him the easiest of openings and David had yet to not take advantage of them. “Um, I’m not normally that handsy in my sleep, promise.”

There was silence for a few minutes and David couldn’t help but tense up the longer that it went. Patrick started rubbing David’s shoulder, and that helped a little, but then the silence kept going.

“Um…” David started, but he stopped. He didn’t know exactly he should say, and he wasn’t really all that interested in getting into the long and short of it in regards to the extended carpet bombing that was his past relationships. At least, not on an empty stomach. And definitely not without copious amounts of alcohol first.

But Patrick did deserve a real explanation.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Patrick finally said. He pressed a kiss to the top of David’s head. “I’m not that bothered by it, obviously. I mean, I’d rather we’d have talked about it being a possibility first, but other than startling me out of a sound sleep, it was, um. Good?”

David had to stop and blink for a moment as he processed that. And then he was sitting up, twisting so that he could look at Patrick. Who was actually blushing. So fucking adorable. “Wait. Are you telling me that you enjoy kinky sleep sex stuff?”

Patrick sighed and let his head drop back against the headboard. But his blush deepened. Adorable and interesting. “Maybe? I don’t actually know?”

David twisted again, pulling off some kind of yoga-like movement that he definitely shouldn’t have been able to do so that he was sitting crossed legged next to Patrick. “Okay, no. I think that I need to hear more about this. Are you a kinky boy, Patrick Brewer?”

Patrick sighed again before looking up to glare at David. It would have been more effective if he wasn’t slowly turning a gorgeous rosy color. “I actually haven’t had all that much sex that I’ve actually liked, David. Like, just once, in fact.”

David blinked again. He seriously should have gotten coffee before starting any kind of conversation. He knew better. “Um, what?”

“I just figured out I’m gay,” Patrick said. He still looked annoyed, but there was something else underneath that. David definitely should have had coffee first. “Up until yesterday, I haven’t ever had sex with anyone I’m actually attracted to. Turns out that’s kind of a key component for the quality of sex. At least, it is for me.”

“I’m the best sex you’ve ever had?” David asked. He felt it was important to take each part in their own order, to make sure he didn’t miss anything.

Patrick rolled his eyes, but he laughed. He leaned in and kissed David, soft and sweet. “Yes, David. Considering you’re the only man I’ve ever slept with, which means the bar actually wasn’t all that high.”

“That’s not nice,” David told him.

“Nope. And you need coffee before we keep talking,” Patrick said. He climbed out of bed, walking calmly over to his duffle, not at all bothered by his nudity.

David enjoyed the view while simultaneously being very, very jealous. He knew he wasn’t, like, a troll or anything. But he’d never really been all that comfortable in his own body. Several past experiences hadn’t made the viewpoint any easier.

And then he lost all train of thought when Patrick forewent any underwear to pull on a pair of sweatpants. Which settled low on his hips and did wonderful things for his backside.

Patrick turned around and caught David staring at him. “What?”

David cocked his head to the side and gave him a very thorough once over. “Come back to bed.”

Patrick blushed but shook his head. “David, we need…”

“Patrick, honey, I promise we will talk, but I can guarantee you that I will be useless if you try to right now. Even with coffee,” David told him. He held out his hand and shook it at him. “Come back to bed.”

Patrick sighed, but walked over to the edge of the bed. Where he stood, arms crossed over his chest, obviously only doing it to humor David. “What, sweatpants turn you on now?”

“What? No, those are absolutely hideous; did you take them off of a dead body?” David said. He wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying, too busy knee walking across the bed to Patrick and trying not to fall flat on his face while he did it.

He felt quite proud of himself when he managed it, kneeling on the side of the bed and putting his hands on Patrick’s waist. Which ended up being, like, four full inches above the waistband on the sweatpants.

“My pants are hideous?” Patrick asked. He didn’t sound all that happy, but he also didn’t sound too angry, so David decided to run with it.

“Yes, hideous. They only deserve to be burned,” David said. He ran a finger along the waistband, smiling as Patrick shivered at the touch. Oh, look, he was blushing again. “You do, however, wear them very well.”

“David,” Patrick warned. But he uncrossed his arms and stepped closer to the bed, his arms sliding over David’s shoulders.

“Patrick,” David returned. He smiled sweetly before ducking down to kiss him again. He didn’t bother trying to keep it sweet, just swept into Patrick's mouth with his tongue, using a handful of tricks to make Patrick moan and shiver.

When they pulled apart, David was happy to feel that he wasn’t the only rising again to the opportunity. David ran his lips along Patrick’s jawline until he reached his ear. “Come back to bed, Patrick. We can do much better than last night.”

Patrick groaned, pressing himself closer to David, and to his teeth. “Fine. But we are going to talk about this.”

“Yes,” David agreed. He reached down and pushed the sweatpants off of Patrick’s hips. “Definitely. First things first, though.”

It was a few hours later before they had the chance to talk again. By then, Patrick seemed to be over whatever fit of nerves he had had earlier and David was starving. They ordered room service, talked while they waited for it, talked while they ate, and then they were distracted again.

David had always loved the honeymoon phase of a relationship. When both partners just couldn’t keep their hands off of one another, when they learned to speak with their bodies, which David had always found to be much more reliable than whatever people were actually saying.

Patrick, David found, was honest to a degree that should have, frankly, terrified him. Instead, it was refreshing to see the joy in Patrick as he learned all the things that his body had probably been trying to tell him for years. It turn, that joy brought a new spark to it all that David hadn’t felt in years. Instead of it being about what new and twisted ways they could use their bodies for, he was listening to what he actually wanted. It was simple and easy and fun.

Sex hadn’t been fun for David, not for years and years at that point. It was…it was really fucking nice, was what it was.

So was Patrick. He was sarcastic and more than willing to laugh at David, but he was just as quick to laugh at himself. It made David fell safe enough to open up to him in a way that David hadn’t since Stevie. And Patrick opened up right back. Which.

No one had ever done that with David. Not even Stevie. Not like Patrick was.

So they spent four days holed up in their rooms, eating room service and having increasingly great sex and talking.

David told Patrick about growing up with only Alexis and Adelina and occasionally his mother and father. Patrick told him about growing up with a close knit family nearly large enough to actually be considered a clan, his cousins that were more like siblings, and parents who supported him, but didn’t quite know what to do with him as he grew older. They talk about schools and dreams and relationships - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There are stories that made them laugh. Stories that made them cry. Big, small, some hugely relevant, and most inconsequential. David told his best rescuing Alexis stories and Patrick talked about bi-yearly road trips with his three closest cousins.

With every touch, every word, every minute, David could feel himself falling in love.

It hit him in the dark on that fourth night, after he showed Patrick just how much fun tongues in unusual places could be. Patrick was fast asleep, curled into David, safe and snoring in David’s arms. It was a reversal of how they normally slept, and David hadn’t been able to go to sleep, even though he was thoroughly exhausted.

They hadn’t closed the curtains on the french doors, and there was a full moon. Moonlight slanted across the bed, casting most of the room into darker shadow. But Patrick was lit up, his light skin near glowing in the dark. It had caught David off guard, just how beautiful Patrick looked sleeping in the moonlight; like a sculpture or a painting that David might have once sold in his galleries.

Patrick shifted in his sleep, his brow furrowing as whatever he was dreaming upset him, and David ran a soothing hand down his side. “You’re safe, honey. I’ve got you,” David told him and Patrick settled down, sighing and curling closer to David.

That was when the thought floated through David’s mind. ‘I love him.’ David didn’t even catch it, not when it happened. He was too busy smiling down at the man sleeping in his arms. It came back to him a few minutes later, a kind of mental double take that hit David in all of his soft spots.

He loved Patrick Brewer.

Patrick woke up a little later. David couldn’t say how long he had been staring out the doors at nothing before Patrick sat up, sleep rumpled and adorable. David smiled at him, but Patrick didn’t smile back.

“David, what’s wrong?” Patrick asked, looking startlingly awake in a brief moment. His hand came up to brushed across David’s cheek and it was wet when he pulled back. “Why’re you crying?”

David closed his eyes and shook his head. He hadn’t even realized that he had been crying, and he certainly didn’t know how he could tell the man, who he would never see again at the end of the week, that he loved him. And he didn’t have it in him to find a plausible lie.

He was such a fucking idiot.

Patrick sighed, but he settled back against the pillows, pulling David down against him. “Okay, you don’t have to say anything. Just know that I’m here and I have you. You’re safe, David.”

David curled up against him, unable to stop the sob that broke free when Patrick unknowingly echoed David’s own promise. Patrick just held him tighter and didn’t shame him as he cried.

|-|

They only had a few more days left to them when Patrick suggested that they head into the town that the resort was located in. They still hadn’t talked about why David had broken down in the middle of the night, but Patrick had felt something had changed between them as soon as he’d woken up the next morning.

There had been another lazy round of sex in the shower, quiet and gentle in the way that Patrick knew he was becoming far too addicted to. David had been quiet while they got ready for the day, only really speaking up to suggest trying out the terrace cafe’s breakfast buffet when Patrick asked him if he wanted the usual from room service.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am very much enjoying all of this private time with you,” David told Patrick. He’d put down his moisturizer to walk over to where Patrick was leaning in the doorway, skeptical about David turning down room service. He ran a gentle hand up Patrick’s arm until he could cup Patrick’s cheek and pull him into a kiss, smiling when he finally pulled away. “But if I don’t see something aside from these walls, I may very well lose what’s left of my mind.”

Patrick had laughed, not bothering to question it, because he’d also started to feel a little stir crazy. And it had been a good breakfast, great food and quiet company, sitting there overlooking the gardens and listening to David critique the wardrobe choices of every person that came into sight.

But as the day had gone on, the more that Patrick had noticed that David wasn’t really there with him. Physically, yes, but mentally it was like David was running on automatic. Multiple times Patrick had thought to ask him about it; to ask him to check in with Patrick. Then Patrick would remember that for however close they had gotten in the last week, they were still strangers faking being a married couple. And he would back off again.

They didn’t have sex that night. Neither one of them seemed to be interested in it. Instead they curled up on opposite sides of the couch after eating dinner at the three star restaurant, Patrick reading the book he had brought with him and David scribbling away in his little black notebook. And when they went to bed, it was in the same formation that they normally found themselves in - David’s head on Patrick’s chest, Patrick holding David.

David had been more present the next day, dragging Patrick off for couple’s spa treatments. “They’re no different than normal treatments,” David had explained. “Other than they can usually charge more for them. Expect we have free vouchers!”

Patrick had never been one for any fancy spa things - he’d always left to his mother and Rachel - but the day he spent with David was nearly enough to convert him. David had selected everything and spent most of the day whispering explanations to Patrick, often before the spa staff actually could.

After a full day of exfoliating scrubs, body wraps, facials, full body messages, and even that mani-pedi that Rachel had told him to get, all Patrick had wanted was another quiet night in the room, either doing what they had the night before or watching a movie. Thankfully, David had been more than willing to do the same.

They did have sex that night. More because Patrick hadn’t been able to resist going to his knees when David had started ranting about all the things wrong with the Sex in the City movie they had been, for no reason Patrick had understood, watching. David had been suitably thankful, and they’d gone to sleep wrapped up tightly around one another.

The following morning, Patrick had suggested that they go into town. He’d woken up with the urge to go do something, but his normal choice of hitting a hiking trail wasn’t available for him at the resort. Walking around the small town that hosted the resort didn’t seem to be the most exciting thing in the world to Patrick, but it was a place to move around. Patrick was also sure that David’s color commentary would be engaging enough, as long as Patrick could keep the locals from taking too much offense.

Surprisingly, the downtown area for the town was quaint and picturesque rather than kitschy and touristy. There were only local small businesses along the main drag, and most everyone they met was kind and polite. That didn’t stop David from making his opinions known, but at one point Patrick almost lost him to the little boutique selling locally crafted hand creams and elixirs and candles.

“It’s a wonderful idea that they had,” David explained over the late lunch they were having at a small stationary store slash bookshop slash cafe. It was crowded and busy, especially for how small the space was, but the way the owners had situated everything made the store slash shop slash cafe feel open and airy. Patrick liked it, even if he probably wouldn’t have chosen it on his own.

“Which one?” Patrick asked. He’d gotten lost from David’s commentary while he’d been taking in all of the memorabilia on the walls.

David made a face at him, but continued with a smile anyway. “That little boutique. Selling fine quality, locally crafted goods. It’s a good idea. They just didn’t maximize their options. For example, solidifying everything under one brand. It’s perfectly plausible to present that many creators together without confusing the customer with too many names. Too much information can cause just as many issues as too little, you know.”

Patrick had blinked at that. He agreed with David, he just hadn’t expected that kind of vision from him. Which made Patrick feel a little bad, especially when he considered what David had told him about his experience running art galleries in New York. Patrick knew that kind of a job wasn’t something that just anyone could do. It’d take, at a minimum, someone who could see the big picture and the smallest details all at the same time.

Patrick knew from his own experiences with David that he was very good with both of those things. “What would you have done differently?”

And from there, David was off. He described how he would have changed things, the things that he would have kept the same, and what he would have brought in to create a cohesively unilateral, yet unique atmosphere. At Patrick’s prodding, he did the same with each of the businesses they visited, even as he browsed and bought little gifts to take back to his family.

They were both loaded down with bags when they finally walked to catch a shuttle back to the resort. David had fallen into his own thoughts after they’d left the last store and he was uncharacteristically quiet during their walk. Patrick thought about letting it go, but after an entire day of listening to David’s opinions, it was a little eerie not to hear him now.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Patrick asked. He bumped David’s shoulder, and got an eye roll for his trouble.

“Why are my thoughts worth so little?” he grumbled. But he smiled when Patrick gave him exaggerated puppy dog eyes. “All right, all right. Stop it with the faces already. I was just thinking that I’d like to try it.”

”Try what?”

“Running my own store,” David said. He looked down at his feet for a minute as they walked, a small frown on his face. Patrick knew, at this point, to let him ponder whatever it was he was thinking. Interrupting would only end in lectures and a complete derailment of the previous conversation.

“I think I’d be good at it,” David finally said. They were nearly at the shuttle stop. “Or I have a good idea for one, at least.”

“Okay,” Patrick said. All the ideas he had heard from David throughout the day had been solid enough, but he did wonder what exactly David’s good idea was. “Give me your elevator pitch.”

David’s head shot up. “What?”

“Your good idea,” Patrick prompted. “Give me your elevator pitch.”

“Um, okay,” David said. He looked away for a second, scrunching his face up adorably, before nodding. “Right. Well, the very basic idea is to curate a selection of products from local vendors and sell them on consignment in a one-stop-shop retail environment that benefits both the vendor and the customer. And everything would go under one brand - my brand - to promote cohesiveness and customer loyalty.”

It was Patrick’s turn to look away. He thought about everything that David had talked about throughout the day, plus all the little hints in all the stories David had told about his time working at the Blouse Barn. When he incorporated all of that into what David had just told him, well.

It was a damned good idea. Patrick was actually a little jealous because he knew that if David decided to actually do it - and Patrick had no doubts that he would, given all the thought David had already put into it - David would succeed. It was solid.

And there was no chance that Patrick was ever going to see it happen. Which was far more depressing a thought than Patrick thought it should have been.

“Well?” David finally asked. His tone was impatient, but his expression and body language radiated nervousness.

“I like it,” Patrick told him. He smiled. “It’s a good idea, David. It have a name?”

“Um, I’m oscillating,” David said.

Patrick chuckled. “Well, oscillate, but make sure that you know what you’re going to call it before you go in for your business license. It’s the most important part of the paperwork.”

David smiled at him. It was a soft and shy smile, not unlike the first couple Patrick had seen from him. “Thanks, Patrick.”

“You’re welcome,” Patrick told him. It was either that or admitting to David just how badly he didn’t want this week to end. Even if the way the light from the setting sun shone across David’s handsome features was some kind of magical, Patrick knew better than to tempt fate. Real life wasn’t a romantic comedy waiting to happen, and Patrick was no plucky heroine seconds away from her once and only.

It really sucked just how much Patrick wanted to be wrong about that.

|-|

Dawn on their final day found them both wide awake and aware. David had slept fitfully, unable to settle no matter what he or Patrick did. It reminded David glaringly of those first few weeks in Schitt’s Creek, when his entire life had been up ended and he’d had no idea what he was going to do. Or even who he was without all of the trappings that came with excessive amounts of wealth.

Now, well, David had a better idea who he was even if he didn’t know exactly what he was going to do. The idea of starting his own store - a brand of his own, an immersive experience the likes of which rural Schitt’s Creek had never seen nor heard of? That felt like something he could sink his teeth into. And with Wendy’s check, it was an actual possibility.

He and Patrick had talked it over again at dinner just a few hours before. Patrick had teased him mercilessly about his buzzwords, but he’d doubled down on his belief that David was on the right track. He’d even given David a few ideas on additional funding to help offset his initial start up costs.

“You’ll get around some of the more typical costs with your commission based model, but it doesn’t hurt to offset as much of your initial debt as you can,” Patrick said. They were lingering over the remains of their dinners and Patrick was leaning back in his seat, one arm draped over the chair back and holding his beer bottle in a loose grip.

He looked like the kind of domestic temptation and sin that David had always known was too far out of his reach. It didn’t matter that he’d had Patrick, not when he’d never be able to keep him. David had known that from the start. Knowing it had never stopped David, not once in a hundred relationships, and by now the pinching ache behind his ribs was a consistent, if unwanted, friend.

David was finishing his wine, contemplating whether he wanted to bother with dessert or not. He’d had most of the interesting ones already, and he really didn’t want to risk a subpar dessert on their last night. “Grants for supporting local businesses. I’ll have to ask Ronnie if she has any suggestions.” At Patrick’s curious look, he explained that, “Ronnie’s on the Town Council with my mother. She runs a construction business as well, I think. She’s been on the council forever though.”

“That’d be a good place to start,” Patrick agreed. He’d stretched his legs out under the table and was rubbing one foot up along David’s calf. His look of innocence at David’s disapproving glare was completely outshone by the interest in his eyes.

David found himself asking for the check instead of dessert when their waitress came back to the table a few minutes later.

They passed a very energetic evening in their room, and by all right’s David should have been out cold for at least three days. He was exhausted enough for that, but he just couldn’t sleep. Around five, he’d given up entirely on the idea, but he didn’t leave the bed. Patrick had made himself the big spoon and David was loathe to leave him before he absolutely had to.

The irony in that thought was its own special kind of torture.

Instead he tormented himself imagining various what-ifs where he got to keep this. Fantasies where Patrick moved to Schitt’s Creek or David got his money back and he could whisk Patrick off on adventures around the world. Anything where he could plausibly stay here in Patrick’s arms.

Before he knew it, sunrise had arrived, coating their room in beautiful rays of soft and warm light. It was movie perfect, and its perfection was only highlighted by Patrick kissing the back of David’s neck as he pulled him in tighter against him.

The pinching ache came back with a vengeance, and David turned himself around so that he could look at Patrick. He was aware that he probably didn’t look anything near his best - tossing and turning and tormenting himself with things he was never going to get to keep never left him looking dewy fresh - but Patrick looked just as wrecked as he felt.

“Patrick,” David started but stopped when Patrick just shook his head.

He grabbed David’s hand and brought it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss to the palm. He held it there for several long moments, eyes tightly shut before looking back at David. “Can we just…” he started before stopping, his voice rough from sleep. “Once more for the road?”

David closed his eyes tight, willing himself not to cry. Patrick didn’t deserve that from him. “Yes, please.”

Patrick pulled David down into a lingering kiss and David did his best to just memorize every moment. He wasn’t going to get another chance and he wanted to be sure Patrick had good memories to take back with him.

Their wake up call from the front desk roused them both from a light sleep just a few short hours later. Patrick was the one to roll away for the phone, and by the time he hung it up, David was already out of bed and picking up the clothes he’d set aside the night before.

“I’ll order breakfast, then?” Patrick said after a moment. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, rumpled sheets tossed over his lap. He was everything David had ever dreamed of and it took every ounce of his limited self-control not to just go back over to him. “Remember we only have until ten if we’re going to catch our shuttle.”

David nodded, clutching his Balenciaga sweater far harder than the poor material deserved. “I’ll be quick.”

Patrick nodded back. He looked like he was going to say something else, but David darted for the bathroom before he could. Some part of him, a very far removed at the moment part of him was unimpressed with himself just then, but David couldn’t be bothered to listen to it. If he listened to it, he was going to break down and tell Patrick that he wanted something that neither one of them were remotely able to give, and if he had to listen to Patrick letting him down gently, well.

It was for the best if David did not give into those feelings.

Nothing about that last morning together was anything like the days that had come before. David was too miserable to pretend to be anything but, and Patrick was closed mouthed and quiet in response. It was almost enough to break David, but he focused on making sure that they’d packed everything back up and that he didn’t do something stupid and stalker-ish, like stealing one of Patrick’s t-shirts.

Just before they left the room, Patrick came up to David and pulled him into a hug. David wasn’t ashamed to say that he clung to Patrick, just a little, but Patrick did the same to him. Patrick pulled back after a minute and cupped David’s face. He ran his thumb over David’s cheek. “Thank you, David.”

David shook his head, but not hard enough to knock Patrick’s hand away. “For what?”

“Everything,” Patrick said. His lips quirked in a little sideways smile, like he was laughing at himself. “These two weeks were some of the best of my life, when I thought they couldn’t be anything but an awful reminder of how I’d failed Rachel. Thank you.”

David tried to stop himself, he really did, but in the face of that he had to kiss Patrick. Just one last time. Patrick opened up to it as sweetly as he had to everything else David had shown him. It was a perfect bittersweet ending.

“My pleasure,” David said when they finally parted. He took Patrick’s hand in his, and kissed the palm like Patrick had done that morning. “You have my number if you need any advice or outrageous stories.”

“Likewise,” Patrick told him. He squeezed David’s hand briefly before he coughed and turned and picked his bag back up. When he turned back around, he was the same smiling Patrick David had seen for most of their trip. “Ready to blow this popsicle stand?”

David blinked, and then glared at Patrick. They proceeded to argue over the merits of awful one liners and puns all the way back to the airport. It wasn’t the proudest conversation of his life, but it sure beat crying.

|-|

Coming home again was a lot like slipping back into an uncomfortable sweater, one you had to wear because it was a gift, but it didn’t fit you well at all. After two weeks of being openly himself, Patrick found it hard to just bottle it all back up. But even though his parents and Rachel were nothing but supportive, Patrick still didn’t know how he was going to break the news to everyone else in his life.

Or if he even wanted to.

The worst part about all of it was just how easy it was to go back to being the Patrick that his family and friends had always known. He went back to work, went back to pick up baseball and hockey games, went back to babysitting his little cousins, and attending family birthday’s and holiday parties. From the little bit of distance those two weeks with David had granted him, Patrick could see the walls he had built up in his life between himself and, well, everything and everyone else.

The only things keeping him afloat were Rachel and the occasional text conversation with David. There hadn’t been any chance of Patrick keeping what had happened between him and David from Rachel. They’d just known each other for too long. She’d picked him up from the airport and taken one look at him before she’d known something was up.

She’d canceled her plans with her college girlfriends, dragged Patrick back to their old, now her, apartment and proceeded to get them both drunk out of their minds. Between the pitcher of margaritas and the ill-advised shots of Malibu, Patrick found himself telling her everything.

“Oh, honey,” she’d said when he’d finished, just as soft and heartbroken as Patrick felt and Patrick broke. She’d held him through the tears and looking back, he knew he should never have placed any of that on her because what kind of asshole broke down on his ex-fiance over the boy that broke his heart?

He also knew that Rachel didn’t see it that way. She very firmly believed that if the two of them couldn’t make it as lovers, then they were going to be friends for life. “And what kind of friend shies away when someone is hurting? You’re my best friend, Patrick. I’m always going to be in your corner.”

Patrick couldn’t answer her, even though he wanted to. The words just lodged themselves in his throat. Instead he’d just pulled her close and let her pick the movie they were going to watch, even if she was forever going to pick movies that he hated because they made him squirm uncomfortably.

Looking back, he never could figure out how he had done it, but Patrick managed to make it through the holidays and nearly into the next spring before he just couldn’t do it anymore.

He’d been at his parents’ house for the surprise birthday party they were throwing for his godson. His father had just walked off from the conversation he and Patrick had been having, leaving Patrick alone for the first time all day. He sipped on the beer that he didn’t really want, but everyone expected him to have, just looking around and taking in the people that had been in and around his life forever. Aunts and uncles and cousins and family friends, everyone he’d known for most of his life, most of whom still asked when he and Rachel were getting back together again and…

Patrick knew that he had to leave. If he stayed, he was never getting out of the rut he’d found himself in. He’d just stay good old reliable Patrick, never living his truth, and he knew the end of that road was a dark and unhappy ending.

He didn’t have any idea what he was going to do, but he had nearly fifteen grand in savings thanks to some lucky investments and his job owed him nearly two months of paid leave. He owned his car outright, wasn’t actually on the lease at the place he was sharing with one of his old college teammates, and he was good at getting along with everyone. That would have to be enough.

He didn’t tell anyone what he planned to do. He’d just gone back to the room he rented from Tommy on a month to month basis and started packing up his things. He didn’t really have that much stuff, actually, most of it had been his and Rachel’s combined and he’d let her keep everything for the apartment. Anything he hadn’t needed in the day to day of his life was in storage at his parents’ house. Everything that was left filled the trunk and most of the backseat of his Toyota.

Tommy was off on a fishing trip that weekend, so Patrick left him a note with his key and the rent he’d owed for the next month. He emailed with Brenda from HR about putting in his notice effective immediately and collecting what was left of the paid leave he was owed that night after he’d finished packing his car and finalized it all in the morning before he got into the car.

He sent a text message to his parents about him leaving town for a while, knowing that neither of them would check their messages until he was long out of town. But he called Rachel as he turned his car onto the highway, because she’d track him down and murder him if she found out in any other way.

“Patrick, are you sure about this?” she asked. She sounded soft and raspy, a familiar sound after all the years waking up next to her. She never did sound more like herself until she’d been up a few hours.

“I am,” Patrick told her. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I can’t stay anymore. I’m stagnating.”

She hummed quietly. It was the sound she made when she was choosing her words, and in the background Patrick could hear Leo, the lawyer from the firm down the block from Rachel’s job that had wooed Rachel with overly sweet coffees and tickets to local baseball games. He was a good man and he obviously thought Rachel hung the moon and he made Rachel happier than Patrick ever had, which was all Patrick had needed to know about him.

“You know you’ll always have a home here, if you need it, right?” she finally asked.

Patrick had to blink tears away, all the love he had ever had for her overwhelming him for a moment. “Of course I do, Rach. You’ll always be my best girl.”

“I love you, too, Patrick,” she said. Faintly he heard Leo shouting that he loved Patrick as well, and then Rachel was laughing too hard to relay the message.

“Tell Leo thank you for me,” Patrick told her, laughing himself. “I’m going go now. I’ll let you know when I settle.”

“You’ll text me tonight when you stop, you mean,” Rachel ordered.

Patrick could only laugh and agree. They said their goodbyes and Patrick tossed his phone into the passenger seat once they’d hung up. He turned up the radio and settled in. He knew he was going to have to do a lot of driving before he stopped that night. If he didn’t, he’d just turn back around and that was unacceptable.

Nearly ten hours later, he passed a sign for a town called Schitt’s Creek. It made him laugh and he figured that was as good a reason as any to take a look around. He had to make the drive to a hotel in Elmdale when the only motel in Schitt’s Creek turned out to be full, but that was all right.

Patrick didn’t have anywhere to be right then.

|-|

It had taken two months after coming back to Schitt’s Creek for David to get thoroughly sick of himself and his moping over Patrick, vastly longer than either Alexis or Stevie. He hadn’t thought that he was going to miss Patrick as much as he had, especially since they were still occasionally texting each other. He’d honestly believed that time and distance would dull the pain, but it hadn’t. He knew that was the only reason for why Stevie had let him ramble on and on about his business model idea.

She’d even given him a few people to contact - Glenda with her cat hair scarves (which should rightly have been awful, but were truly beautiful and well crafted), Mack with his fresh-pressed local juices and kombuchas, Dorian with his leather and pressed paper journals. Plus, Stevie had put word out to Twyla and Jocelyn, which had netted him a very long list of potential and interested vendors.

It took him several more weeks to start getting things organized, and by the time he felt ready to take the small business owner plunge, the Schitt’s Creek General Store announced it was closing its doors in under a week.

“Well, there you go, David,” Stevie told him. They were at the cafe, where Twyla had just relayed the bad news and taken their dinner orders. “Now you just need to lease the space and get your business license. Easy-peasy!” She slurped her wine pointedly in his direction.

David winced at the sound, but knew better than to say anything to her. She’d just do it more to annoy him, and then he’d have a migraine that would last days. Not worth it. “Right. I just have to turn in a lease application to the town council.” He sighed. There wasn’t a thing that could go wrong there, except. Oh, right. His mother. And Bob and Roland. But mostly his mother.

“Buck up, buttercup,” Stevie told him. “You’ll get through it. I’ll even read your proposal for you. To make sure it doesn’t sound too pretentious and stupid.”

“Please fall off a bridge,” David told her, all sugar sweet. She’d just laughed at him.

But she was the only one to read the proposal before David went to deliver it to his mother and the town council.

And then Moira Rose dropped the truth bomb of the century. His parents had financed and bought out every one of his patrons at the gallery. His life’s work, one of the very, very few things that David had that he was proud of accomplishing: a sham. It hadn’t mattered what David had sacrificed or how hard he had worked. His parent’s had bought and paid for it all.

And they hadn’t even had the common decency to tell him what they’d done.

|-|

Settling in Schitt’s Creek turned out to be a lot easier than Patrick had expected. He’d been absently scrolling through Craigslist as he ate breakfast and found an ad for a job as a ‘business administrative assistant’ and another for a room to rent by the same guy. A little searching through Google revealed that the guy was also a real estate agent in the greater Schitt’s Creek area.

Patrick figured that if he didn’t get the room or the job, then Ray would at least been a good source for finding an apartment while he continued his job search.

Turned out that Patrick hadn’t even needed to worry. Ray was a talkative guy, excited and happy about nearly everything, and within two hours of meeting him, Patrick had both a job and a place to stay. The rest of the day was spent moving into the room - it was horrible, but the bed was comfortable, and Patrick took a few photos to send to David just to horrify him - and fielding phone calls from his parents and various other people back home.

By the end of the day, Patrick was out right exhausted and he gladly took up Ray’s offer to join him for dinner. Patrick didn’t know what it was that Ray had cooked, but it was delicious, and Ray did not seem to mind that Patrick wasn’t actually listening to Ray tell him the local gossip.

It wasn’t what Patrick had been expecting, but he found he didn’t really mind it. At the very least, there wasn’t anything about him that anyone here knew about him. That kind of anonymity felt like freedom to Patrick.

|-|

“I’m sorry to hear that,” was what Stevie said when David had gone to her for support. She was paying more attention to her game of solitaire.

He should have known better. Sympathy was not Stevie’s forte. He wasn’t even sure if she even understood the word. “Oh, really. What about the part where my mother sold out her only son, and consequently the entire town, to Christmas World?”

Stevie blinked, and then looked up at him. “What?”

“The council decided to lease the general story to Christmas World,” David spat out. “My mother was the deciding vote. A vote that took place after I told her about my plan to submit my application for the space!”

“Well, shit,” Stevie said. She moved away from the computer, coming around the desk to stand in front of where he was sitting on the ratty couch. “Do I need to get alcohol for this? A joint?”

David groaned and wrapped his arms around his chest. “I don’t believe any of that will be any help.”

“Okay, who are you and where is the real David Rose?” Stevie asked.

“Stevie!” David whined. He didn’t even mean to. He just.

He didn’t know what to do. He’d been betrayed by his parents and again now by his mother, and Patrick hadn’t responded to any David’s messages in almost a week. He didn’t want to think about how his store idea was something of a last ditch effort for him. His mother had the council, his father the motel, and Alexis her schooling. David didn’t have anything.

“David, just because you couldn’t get the general store location doesn’t mean that you can’t have your business elsewhere,” Stevie said. She came over and sat by him on the couch. “I mean, it was the perfect location and everything, but…”

“Thanks,” David snapped. He glared at her even as she grinned cheekily at him. “I just find it extremely violating.”

“Because your parents threw money at you,” Stevie mocked.

”Yes,” David replied. And even as he continued, he knew that he was being ridiculous. But Stevie, despite not knowing exactly where he was coming from, cared enough to at least sit with him as he blathered on. It was a nice reminder that at least he had one person in his corner.

And then his mother came in, and in her typical rambling fashion, explained that she’d fixed everything. Or that she had intended to fix it, but Christmas World had backed out before she could. At least she’d tried, which was something more than she would have done years ago.

That would have to be enough, David guessed. She could have at least apologized, even if bitter experience had taught him that Moira Rose only apologized if a script called for it.

“All right, sport!” Stevie said after Moira had left the room. She punched David in the shoulder and ignored how he glared at her. “Now, can you handle that application on your own or do I need to hold your hand?”

“Make out with a wood chipper,” David told her as he got up. He needed to turn that application in (because of course he’d found it sitting on the table in his parent’s room after Moira had dropped her little truth bomb) before something else got in his way. Like Roland doing…something Roland-ish. “Best wishes.”

“Warmest regards!” she called after him. She was one hundred percent laughing at him.

|-|

Life in Schitt’s Creek settled into routine for Patrick pretty quickly. Working and living with Ray was both fun and annoying in about equal measure, but Patrick was enjoying the work that he was doing. Ray’s multiple businesses were all varying degrees of successful, but his books were a bit of a mess.

“I had an accountant over in Elmdale take a look at them,” Ray had told him the first morning when they’d sat down to go over the scope of everything. “It did not go very well.”

He laughed as he said it, like didn’t bother him, but Patrick was beginning to suspect that that was just how Ray was. Patrick thought that it was a brave way of engaging with the world, but also probably very exhausting. Not that you’d notice from Ray.

“Well, here’s hoping I’m made of sterner stuff,” Patrick had joked, which had just made Ray laugh again. And then launch into a story about someone named Bob who apparently did stand up comedy in the form of beat poetry.

Patrick figured out really quick that it was best to just tune Ray out most of the time. If Ray required engagement, he didn’t have any problems repeating himself.

Ray also knew just about everyone in town and he had no trouble introducing Patrick to all of them. In the first couple of weeks, Patrick had met enough people that he was expanding his services to various local businesses. It kept Patrick busy, but he was enjoying it. His last job had been very corporate and faceless; he liked getting his hands dirty so to speak, and it was a great way to meet people around town.

When Patrick wasn’t working or being dragged around with Ray (in the first week Patrick had been brought to the Tropical Cafe, to bowling night, a games night at the aforementioned Bob’s house, a book club meeting that had mostly been focused on local gossip, a preseason local baseball game, a drive in theater, and he’d had to turn down an invitation to karaoke in Elmdale just so he could get some quiet), Patrick had started hiking. Twyla, the waitress at the Tropical Cafe, had given him a list of trails she enjoyed when Patrick had asked Ray about it.

“Robert’s Point is my favorite, though,” Twyla told him. “The view is amazing!”

Sitting on a convenient rock ledge at the beginning of his third week in town, Patrick had to agree with her. He could see for kilometers and it was peaceful, watching a pair of local hawks circling in the early morning sky.

Peaceful was exactly what Patrick needed. He’d mostly been ignoring his phone, checking it once in the morning when he woke up and once again before he went to bed, in an attempt to focus on himself. It didn’t help that most of his messages were from upset family members that he just didn’t know how to respond to. Needing time to himself wasn’t something most of the greater Brewer clan was willing to accept.

And then there were the messages from David. They hadn’t been talking all that much, just a quick conversation here and there in the months since their fake honeymoon, and even that was sometimes overwhelming for Patrick. Even if he knew that there was no chance of them having a relationship, Patrick couldn’t stop wistfully thinking about it.

Then, out of the blue, David had sent him a series of texts telling Patrick about his family sabotaging his former career and his attempts to start a new one, how David felt trapped, and finally how much David missed Patrick. It was obvious from the spelling that David had been drunk when he’d sent them. He’d even apologized the next morning.

But Patrick was still stuck on David missing Patrick. Patrick wanted to be honest with him, to tell him that Patrick missed him just as much, but Patrick didn’t know that he should. David had sounded like he’d needed another friend in his corner and Patrick would be more than happy to be that for him, but he didn’t know if that would be fair to either of them.

Holding a torch for David wasn’t helping Patrick heal, but he was unsure if he was ready to cross that possibility off just yet. Patrick was so conflicted about the messages that he hadn’t texted David back, and it’d been nearly a full week. Patrick felt bad about it, yes, but…

His thoughts were interrupted by his phone’s alarm going off. He checked the time and cursed under his breath. He had an appointment at nine with a new client, and he was going to be cutting it close if he didn’t hurry.

He pushed aside the puzzle over the text messages as he hurried back down the mountain. He didn’t have to figure it all out right away.

|-|

The next time he had a chance to talk to Stevie, he was asking her for a ride out to Ray’s. Granted, he probably would have had a better time of it if she wasn’t in the middle of…something. He never really had followed most of what she did for the motel. Well, the cleaning he understood. Not the rest of it.

“Ray’s? Real estate and photography Ray?” Stevie asked. She looked genuinely confused. David knew exactly how she felt. “Why are you talking to Ray?”

“I’m not talking to Ray. I’m going to file my incorporation papers,” David clarified. With any luck, both of those things would remain one hundred percent true. “Apparently, there’s a business guy working with Ray. Or out of Ray’s? I’m not actually sure? Twyla wasn’t the most informative and Ray isn’t always coherent and I lost interest really fast in what they were talking about.”

“You do have the attention span of a small child,” Stevie agreed.

“Stevie, can you please give me a ride? Or can I borrow your car?” David asked again. He was already going to be late thanks to his mother and Alexis making off with the Lincoln. He just. He wanted this to work, but everything kept going sideways and wrong.

“On the condition that you help me with checkouts later,” Stevie said, breaking into his thoughts. She was holding out her keys, but snatched them back when he reached for them. “David.”

“All right, yes, fine!” David agreed. He grabbed the keys from her as soon as she held them back out. “Thank you.”

“Have fun with Ray!” she called after him.

He waved a hand back at her and got moving. If he stepped on it, then he might actually be on time. Also, he didn’t want to get into another conversation with his father, who had been standing just outside of the main office as David came barreling out of the door. Ever since their little secret had come to light, his father had kept trying to talk to him about running his own business. Despite what his mother may have thought, there was more to running galleries than just the money and David was more than capable of doing it without his parent’s interference.

Also, he just didn’t really want his parent’s involved. He might be being petty, but there it was. He just didn’t trust them with this. Or trust that they wouldn’t try to shoehorn themselves in and push him out completely.

“David…” his father started to say.

“Nope, still not talking to you,” David said, walking with his head held high and completely ignoring whatever face his father was making. He could deal with it.

It was a quick drive over - what wasn’t in this town? - and David actually made it with a few minutes to spare. He used them to practice a few breathing exercises. He was going to do everything in his power to make this work. And that all started with him not fucking up this next, crucial step.

No one answered the door when he knocked, but he heard Ray talking to someone. After a few minutes (okay, moments), David decided what the hell and opened the door and went inside.

Where he found Ray in the middle of what looked like an engagement photo shoot. It drew David up for a second because he apparently had a lot of opinions on what Ray was doing and how he was doing it all incorrectly, and David had not expected that. It took him a second, which he used to look around the mingling office and photo studio, but he beat down the urge to rant.

When Ray continued to be oblivious to his presence, David tapped him on the shoulder. “Yeah, we had an appointment?”

Ray finished taking his photo, and then walked over to a little ticket box - who used those anymore outside of little delis in New York? - and pulled a ticket. As he handed it to David, he said, “Remind me, are you here for a photo series or travel planning or our newest service - closet organization?”

“Um, I here to file my incorporation papers for my business.” There was a reason he didn’t spend anytime around Ray, and it was because of his, well, everything.

“Oh, that’s right. Patrick!” Ray called over his shoulder. Literally.

David blinked at that, then scolded himself for even hoping. There were a ton of people in the world named Patrick. It was just that David was starting to have an automatic response to the name.

And then out of the other room walked Patrick Brewer. Who stopped and did his own double take.

“You’re nine o’clock…”

“David?” Patrick asked. He stopped short and stared for a minute. A large smile started spreading across his face.

“Patrick. Hi,” David said. He couldn’t help but drag his eyes over him, taking in all the little differences the months between them had wrought. Patrick looked a little thinner, a little more worn, but also like there was less weighing him down. He looked good. “What are…what are you doing here?”

“I moved here. A couple of weeks ago,” Patrick said. He jerked his thumb behind himself, like he was physically demonstrating the span of time. Then he motioned at David. “What are you doing here?”

“Um, I live here. Have for a few years,” David said. He blinked and then smiled. Patrick had moved to Schitt’s Creek. That was a good sign. A good start. He held out the ticket that Ray had handed him. “I’m here to file for my business license.”

“Oh, that store idea you were talking about? Commission based merchandising under a single cohesive brand?” Patrick asked. He took the ticket that David was handing him, transferred it to his other hand, and then reached out and took David’s hand in his. “Then you’re the one who bought the general store.”

“Leased. I leased the general store,” David corrected. He curled his fingers around Patrick’s and then tugged him a little closer. Patrick gave him a ‘behave’ look, but came where David pulled. “It’s not that big a deal.”

“Oh, it’s a big deal,” Patrick disagreed. He reached up with his free hand to cup David’s cheek. “Come here, dear.”

“Oh, no. We are not starting that again,” David protested. But he let Patrick pull him in for a quick kiss.

“Whatever you say, dear,” Patrick laughed as he pulled back. “This okay?”

Typical Patrick, David thought fondly. Always checking in.

“Best thing to happen in months,” David said. He could see Ray practically vibrating next to them with excitement and curiosity, but Patrick was here, actually living in Schitt’s Creek. They definitely needed to talk about keeping in clear communication - David was not a fan of surprises - but. Patrick was here. And he still wanted David. “But the whole situation does have a funny feel to it.”

Patrick laughed. He brushed his fingers along David’s hairline, and then down his cheek until he was cupping David’s jaw. “Didn’t I say this all felt like a rom-com?”

Patrick was still laughing when he pulled David into another kiss. David, for the first time in a very long time, had a good feeling about this.

The End