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Always and Forever, David Rose

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It started off innocently enough. At least that’s what David told himself as he stared at Patrick Brewer in front of him holding a letter that very clearly had his handwriting on it.

“I wanted to say that I really appreciate it, but it’s never going to happen.”

“Excuse me, what?” David replied even though he had a fair idea of what was going on. He could see the letter. Patrick was rattling on about the kiss they’d shared in the seventh grade and how it was hot for being 12, but all David could see was the letter. David’s love letter. One of the four David had written over the years. And it had somehow gotten sent out.

The thing was, David dreamed a lot about romantic love. But the idea of actually being in a relationship… of letting someone see him for all that he is. Of trusting them to stay. David thought he’d rather eat glass. So it was safer to explore his feelings in the comfort of his own mind.

And his letters.

Because no matter how much David tried to internalize everything, if he didn’t have some outlet he’d do something stupid. Like actually tell someone he liked them. So when a crush got too out of hand, he wrote a letter.

And a few of those people just so happened to be people no one could ever know about. Well, two of them. Stevie knew about the rest, he’d almost written one to her after all. But the two that were really important to keep secret were Sebastian Raine and Ted Mullens. David didn’t feel anything for either of them anymore, but Alexis and Ted were dating and David would never mess that up for them. Besides, it had been a fleeting thing. The summer where David had done nothing but tan and draw by the pool had just so happened to be the same summer Ted was a lifeguard and his imagination had gotten the better of him. Yes, Ted was handsome and kind (and not many people were kind to David, especially his freshman year before Alexis and Stevie really had his back), but Ted was absolutely not his type. They were friends and they’d never be more. And now he was with Alexis and she would scalp him if she found out about David’s long dead crush.

Sebastian Raine was just an asshole and David didn’t want to give him any leverage.

His other two letters (one to Twyla Sands from summer camp and Patrick Brewer from the baseball team) were innocuous enough, but David still didn’t want them getting out.

So safely his letters sat in a hat box in his closet.

Until now, it seemed. Because Patrick fucking Brewer was holding one and David felt like he was going to faint.


It had started two weeks ago when David had come downstairs in the middle of the night for a snack and walked in on Alexis crying over a pint of ice cream.

“Ted and I broke up,” Alexis said without preamble when she noticed him.

“He broke up with you?” David asked. He was completely dumbfounded. Ted was head over heels in love with Alexis, why would he ever break up with her?

“I broke up with him, actually,” she replied. Alexis tried to sound offended but she looked too sad to pull it off.

“Why? You love him,” David said.

“Yeah, I do,” she admitted, “But he got this great internship opportunity over the summer in the Galapagos or whatever, and we were already probably going to break up when we went to college in the fall anyways so…”

“You did it preemptively,” David said with sudden understanding.

“I don’t want to be in a relationship with an expiration date,” she continued, “And if I break my heart now, maybe I won’t be a mess in the fall.”

“Did he understand?”

“Yeah, but he didn’t like it,” Alexis replied, “It turns out he’d been saving to fly me out for my birthday in July. He’d already bought the tickets.”

“I’m sorry, Alexis,” David replied. And he meant it. He loved his sister and he knew she loved him, but she and David never really had these kinds of heart to hearts. The fact that she was showing him this side of her and talking so openly meant that it must have really hurt her. David gave her hand a comforting squeeze. She gave him a grateful smile then returned to her ice cream.

“It won’t be all bad,” she insisted, “Maybe I’ll have that meaningless summer fling Mom always wanted for me.”

“Don’t you think you had enough flings before you and Ted got together,” David replied.

“Don’t ruin this for me, David,” she snapped, but there wasn’t really any bite in it, “I just have to get through a couple of months of seeing Ted at school then it will be my summer!”

They stayed up a little while longer talking about nothing before Alexis went to bed. David wished he had Alexis’ courage and open heart. She had to have known that dating Ted would eventually end in heart break. They’d been best friends basically their entire lives and didn’t make it official until college applications were starring them in the face. She had to have known, but she’d done it anyways. If David asked her six months from now, Alexis would probably say that it had been worth it. She was like that, she always thought the pain was worth the thrill of the fall.

David wished he was like that, but he never would be.


 

Alexis broke up with Ted on the last day of Christmas break, which meant they had to go back to school tomorrow when David would definitely have to face the entire student body already knowing that Alexis Rose was single again.

David should really feel lucky that Alexis paid as much attention to him as she did. She was beautiful and popular and had boys drooling over her all the time. She didn’t even have to give her little brother a second glance, but she did one better.

When David first came out as pan he got a lot of shit from some of the frat dudes in training that populated Schitt’s Creek High School. Alexis was popular and an upperclassman and she had more than a little sway, so she made sure that anyone who gave David a hard time wouldn’t get a date from her or any of the dozens of girls she ruled over. There was remarkably less bullying after that. They’d never talked about it (the Roses were normally allergic to the full range of human emotion) but she knew David was grateful.

So now David felt some weird need to protect her against all the guys who would be trying to get in her pants now that she was single. He also wanted to protect Ted from any rumors of why Alexis had ended things. The poor guy was probably blindsided. He didn’t deserve gossip on top of a broken heart. As if David could protect anyone from anything.

Instead, his dad had insisted that David drive them to school for the foreseeable future since Alexis had gotten her third speeding ticket, and that was like… the opposite of protecting her.

David hated to drive. He hated most things he wasn’t immediately good at. Alexis seemed to agree since she walked out of the house with a helmet on. She paid almost as much attention to her hair as David did, it was a clear insult.

“I can’t believe it,” his dad said, “Alexis’ last semester and you finishing junior year.” He practically beamed as he snapped the obligatory first day of school picture. David managed not to role his eyes. He knew his dad took these pictures for mom. She was a TV star and was usually off filming somewhere instead of parenting. David didn’t even blame her for that, she’d had her career long before she had David and Alexis, but he wished she knew more about his life than the dozens of snapshots his father sent her.

Soon enough the photoshoot was over and Alexis was smirking at him as she snapped the chin strap of her helmet, “That’s very funny,” he snarked.

“And very necessary,” she retorted. David just rolled his eyes. He hoped the rest of the semester didn’t go like this.


The ride was uneventful, the school day was not.

As predicted, whispers followed wherever Alexis went and it took David almost all day for his paths to cross with Stevie. He even gave a terse smile to Ted before he found his best friend.

Worse than Ted, David managed to literally run into Rachel. He had nothing against her, they used to be friends. Then something happened between middle and high school that made them decidedly not. Probably something having to do with her popularity and his lack thereof.

“Cute… are we calling those pants or a skirt?” she smirked.

“Pants,” David decided, though he disliked labeling his fashion choices almost as much as he did his sexuality, “They’re vintage. I got them on Etsy.”

“And he’s rocking them!” Stevie interrupted as she threw a friendly arm around David’s shoulder. He nearly sagged at the relief of having her as backup. Rachel was usually manageable, but David was feeling really out of sorts, “Not everyone can pull them off, but he can. As for you, it’s probably a good thing you’re playing it safe in those uggs.”

“You know what, screw you Stevie!”

“Hey babe,” came a voice while David was looking at Stevie in awe. Patrick Brewer. Rachel’s boyfriend with his arms around her shoulders. Of course. Patrick had a tendency to defuse situations. It was his… David hesitated to call it blandness because he was a nice guy. He just seemed very simple. He dated the most popular girl in their grade, he played short stop for the varsity baseball team, he probably got good enough grades to get into the college that would inevitably offer him a sports scholarship. He was nice and uncomplicated, the complete opposite of David.

It honestly kind of annoyed him that Patrick was friends with everyone. It seemed unnatural to not have any enemies, but everyone genuinely liked Patrick Brewer.

It probably didn’t help David’s opinion of him that they had kissed in seventh grade. It had been off of a game of spin the bottle at David’s first real boy-girl party. Not that the addition of girls really mattered when David was well on his way to figuring out that he liked boys as well. But the stupid game had started and the stupid bottle had landed on stupid Patrick Brewer. It would have been so easy to make an excuse. Patrick hadn’t even really needed an excuse not to kiss David. He was popular, David was not. Rachel had a thing for him even then and everybody knew it. But for some reason, Patrick had kissed him. David’s first kiss had lasted maybe five seconds and it took his breath away. He was more shocked than anything. Patrick was too popular for anyone to give him shit for kissing a guy, but he and David rarely talked after that. David and Rachel rarely talked either.

So David had written him a letter, because he was confused. And even though he decided there would be no more feelings for popular Patrick Brewer, the letter helped.

The rest of the interaction when predictably. Rachel said something pissy, David put his foot in his mouth, and Patrick walked away awkwardly.

Stevie had a meeting at lunch so David was left to eat alone. He would usually eat with Alexis and Ted but she was busy holding court now that she didn’t have to be at Ted’s side, and David couldn’t think of anything worse than eating with his sister’s ex who he’d kind of had a thing for a few years ago. Instead, David took his lunch to the library with the latest romance novel he was reading. He passed Rachel and Patrick on the way. They lived in a completely different world than him, one David could never hope to infiltrate. David was often alone, but for the first time he really felt lonely.

Soon enough, the day was over and David was back in the car with Alexis. He’d felt the steady thrum of anxiety all day and it was only amping up now that he had to drive again. Unhelpfully, Alexis had put the helmet back on. David was inclined to wait until the parking lot cleared out a little bit, but he was not going to let Alexis make fun of him for the rest of the semester.

So he turned the car on, put it in reverse, and…

Promptly hit Patrick Brewer.

Fuck.

Before David could even consider making a run for it, Patrick was knocking on his window. This could not be happening.

“Hi,” Patrick said.

“Hi,” David echoed.

“How you doing?”

“Good.” David lied.

“You know,” Patrick began. There was a teasing lilt to his voice that made David tingle. Not the time, he thought, “People usually check behind them before they reverse. To avoid killing others. It’s a thing we do.”

“Yeah well,” David sassed right back, “I’m just not really comfortable using my mirrors yet.”

“Yeah, clearly,” Patrick replied, and he couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face. God, why did he have to have such a cute smile? “Do you think you’re going to be able to make it out of the parking lot?”

“Mmm hmm, we’re fine. So you should just… go. Seriously” David replied, willing Patrick to just walk away.

“Sure, whatever you say, Rose,” Patrick replied with another smirk before finally walking away. David took a breath for the first time since he’d gotten into the car. Great. It was only the first day and he’d already pissed off Rachel and almost killed her boyfriend.

“So… you and Patrick Brewer?” Alexis asked after a moment.

“Oh absolutely not,” David snapped back.

“Because you almost killed him?”

“That’s just one of a thousand reasons,” David replied before lapsing into silence.

“What are we waiting for?”

“We are waiting for the rest of the cars to leave,” he replied calmly. It was what he should have done in the first place.

“Seriously, David!” Alexis nearly shrieked.

“You know,” she said a few minutes later, “Maybe you shouldn’t cut Patrick out just yet. He was really cute.”

“He’s also dating Rachel,” David retorted.

“I’m just saying, David,” Alexis continued, “Isn’t it kind of sad that I had to cancel plans to hang out with my little brother tonight? Maybe a boyfriend would do you good?”

“That was very harsh, Alexis,” David said.

“The truth hurts, David.”


So that was the first day of school. And now here David was, in the third week, lying on his back on the track with Patrick Brewer leaning over him and holding a letter he had written professing his love when he was 12.

“Wow, are you okay?” Patrick asked when David came to. The concern written all over his face was kind of nice, even if David was humiliated. He was given a solid 10 seconds to regroup before he saw Ted walking towards him.

“Oh my god,” David gasped.

“What?” Patrick replied. David must have looked like he was going to faint again judging by the way Patrick as eyeing him nervously.

“Oh my god!” David repeated.

Ted. His sister’s ex. His own friend. A genuinely nice, very straight guy. Holding a love letter that David had written him 2 year ago.

So David did the only reasonable thing.

He pulled Patrick down by the neck into a kiss.

“Hey! Two more laps, Rose,” came the PE teacher’s voice a second later and David could not get up and start running fast enough. Mercifully, Patrick didn’t say anything as David ran away and not even Ted’s voice of confusion could stop him.

Oh my fucking god. David was hyperventilating as he ran into a stall in the men’s room. He was going to have to fake his death or flee the country. At the very least he was going to have to transfer schools. What was Alexis going to say? She was going kill him. It would be quick if he was lucky.

She was never going to speak to him again. And Sebastian Raine. If Patrick and Ted got the letters, that meant Sebastian most likely got his too. He couldn’t believe Sebastian fucking Raine knew David had liked him.

As if on cue, Sebastian’s silky and condescending voice floated towards him, “David Rose,” he crooned, “Is that you?”

“No,” David lied. This had to be a nightmare. David’s thing with Sebastian had been homecoming freshman year. David was acting like he was too cool for dances when really no one wanted to go with him. Sebastian was actually too cool for dances. He was too cool for anything, including human emotion and empathy. They’d danced to one song and then smoked behind the gym for the rest of the dance. Alexis had been able to smell the cigarettes on him and she just about killed him.

David was obsessed with Sebastian for the rest of the school year. Until Ted caught his attention that summer, really. But the feeling wasn’t mutual. Sebastian had spent 6 months dragging David along, making plans to hang out and then bailing or asking him out on dates that ended up being group things. By the time it ended, David had been put through the wringer for nothing. They hadn’t even kissed. But when David was done, he’d been really done. Sebastian had popped back up a few times in the 2 years since. He always wanted the things he couldn’t have and David was no exception. But once Ted entered the picture, David couldn’t remember what he’d seen in the douchebag in the first place.

And now Sebastian knew everything that David had felt 2 years ago. David was embarrassingly close to crying as Sebastian rattled on about god knew what. How the fuck had these letters gotten out?

Alexis had insisted that David try to clean out his room a little bit. She’d been doing the same. She was one of those people that got rid of something the minute she didn’t have a use for it. He’d thought fleetingly that it was kind of what she’d done to Ted. David was a hoarder by nature but he could tell it made Alexis feel better to clean up, so he had. He’d filled 2 whole boxes with clothes to take to goodwill and he’d begged a ride off of Stevie with the promise of getting food afterwards. Had the letters fallen in with what he’d donated and some nice old lady had sent them thinking they’d been included by mistake? It seemed unlikely, but he didn’t have any other ideas. No matter how he spun it, David was royally fucked.

He didn’t hear a single thing that Sebastian had said, which was probably for the better. And then the bell had rung and David had to get to class. He had 6th period biology with Patrick, but he had no reason to see Ted, Sebastian or Alexis for the rest of the day. Maybe he’d get out of this day unscathed. But there was still tomorrow, and the next day, and the rest of his life where Ted, Sebastian, Patrick, and Twyla knew David had liked them.

The rest of the day past by in a blur and then David was home. Alexis hadn’t seemed off in the car, so Ted hadn’t told her yet. That was good. He couldn’t stand losing his sister over a crush he’d had before she and Ted had gotten together.

He ran upstairs the moment they were inside without even a hello to his dad. Sure enough, the hat box was gone along with the good will boxes. David couldn’t think of any other explanation. All of the letters were gone. They were out and there was nothing David could do about it.

He was in the middle of overthinking when his dad called up, “David! Ted is here.” And then David was gone. He couldn’t believe Ted would show up here 2 days after Alexis had dumped him. He was probably angrier about the letter than he’d let on at school and David just couldn’t face that right now. So he did the only rational thing and jumped out the window. And promptly fell off the roof. He didn’t give himself the chance to decide he was actually hurt before he was taking off down the street on his bike.

He’d deal with Ted. He’d deal with all of them. But he’d have to do it one at a time, and he couldn’t think right now.

He needed food. Carbs. And lots and lots of sugar. The diner. The only place he could stand to be right now.

“Hey, Rose,” a voice from behind him the moment he got his milkshake. Of course. Of course David wouldn’t be able to get a moment of peace.

“What are you doing here?” David snapped.

“Um, I am just here for a milkshake,” Patrick replied as he gestured to the one in front of David. Okay, David felt a little bit bad about that. It wasn’t like he owned the diner.

Just when David was going to apologize, Patrick continued, “Actually, I stopped by your house and Alexis said you’d probably be here.”

“Great,” David muttered around another sip of his milkshake.

“Look, I just want to be super clear. I’m flattered, but Rachel and I like just broke up.”

For like the seventh time, David thought snarkily. Instead, he said, “I’m sorry? Are you trying to reject me right now?”

“Well it really didn’t seem like it took the first time so…”

“Okay,” David interrupted, “Patrick Brewer, I am 100% not trying to date you.”

“Well,” Patrick replied, and David caught the slight upturn to his lips and it was doing something to him, “That is what your mouth is saying. But your mouth said something different earlier. When you kissed me. During PE. Remember that?”

How could he forget? Sure, he’d done it under the threat of being caught by Ted, but David would be lying if he said it hadn’t sent a sick thrill through him. He’d belong with Sebastian Raine before he’d belong with Patrick Brewer. Smart, nice, jock boys didn’t go for David. And David definitely didn’t go for the ex-boyfriends of evil popular girls like Rachel. And yet… David couldn’t help but glance down at Patrick’s lips. He hoped he didn’t see it, “Okay, so…” David began, “the thing is, I don’t actually like you. I just had to make it look like I liked you so someone else wouldn’t think I liked them.”

“Okay,” Patrick looked unconvinced, “Who?”

“Excuse me?”

“Who? Or should I just the tell the rest of the school that David Rose wrote me a love letter?” Patrick asked again. He didn’t even try to hide the amused skepticism from his voice. Dick. Why was Patrick nice to everyone except David?

“Ted Mullens” David muttered.

“Come again?”

“Ted Mullens!” David snapped.

“Doesn’t that guy date your sister?”

“Dated. Past tense,” David replied, “I also wrote the letter before they got together. The whole thing is completely innocent and I would rather die than have to have this lovely conversation with him.”

“Hmm, Ted Mullens,” Patrick repeated.

“Please stop saying his name like that,” David whined and Patrick had the nerve to laugh at him.

“So I’m not the only guy that got a letter?” Patrick asked. David nodded his head yes and he swore Patrick looked a little disappointed, “Wow, a guy starts to feel special and then you find out he wrote letters to two guys.”

“Three guys and one girl. Well, almost two girls, but the crush on Stevie wore off before we got to that point. So don’t feel too special.”

“Four? You wrote four of these?” Patrick asked and yeah, David definitely wasn’t imagine the undercurrent of something lacing his words, “Damn Rose, you’re a player.”

Just when David thought he was going to die of embarrassment Patrick opened his mouth and made it worse, “Who else did you write letters too?”

“If I tell you will you leave me alone?”

“Maybe,” Patrick replied, but his eyes said definitely not.

“Um, you and Ted. Obviously. This girl Twyla from summer camp and Sebastian Raine.”

“Sebastian Raine? You know that guy’s a tool right?”

“Well he wasn’t when I met him,” David replied, which was a bold faced lie but David was done. He threw some money down on the counter and gathered his things before turning back to Patrick, “Are we done?”

“Um. Yeah. I guess we are.”

“Great, goodbye then,” David didn’t glance back even though he felt Patrick’s eyes on him.

“Wait, David!” Patrick called after him and dammit, David didn’t even hesitate before turning around, “What are you going to tell Ted?”

“It is not your problem, Patrick,” David replied before leaving the diner.

He ignored Patrick walking behind him. David was significantly taller than Patrick, so he would never be able to catch up, “David, wait!” Patrick called but David just kept on walking. Why couldn’t Patrick just leave him alone?

“What if we let people think we were actually together?” Patrick yelled from 10 feet behind him. Well, that got David to turn around

“Why in the world would you want that?” David finally managed to gasp out around his shock.

“Well, Rachel flipped when she heard you kissed me. She’ll definitely want to get back together if she thinks we’re dating.”

“So you want to use me as your pawn?” David asked as he crossed his arms.

“I mean… you used me first as your pawn. When you jumped me. During PE.” And David didn’t really have anything to say to that.

“Are we forgetting that you’re straight?” David asked.

“I don’t think I am, actually,” Patrick replied with a sheepish smile and oh. That certainly changed things, “A few of the guys on the baseball team know I’ve been trying to figure things out. This won’t be a huge surprise.

“No one will ever believe you’d date me,” David replied weakly. That drew an odd look from Patrick that David wasn’t even going to try to interpret.

“You don’t have to answer now, just think about it?”

“Don’t hold your breath,” David replied before turning away. Patrick didn’t follow him this time. Why would Patrick want this? He and Rachel would get back together with or without David, they always did. Unless Patrick did want to explore his sexuality, but then why come to David? There were better queer guys to mess around with. And why use the pretense of Rachel if he just wanted to hook up?

There were a million reasons this was a bad idea, but he could feel his restraint crumbling. It would at least convince Ted that David wasn’t into him. And it would probably get Stevie and Alexis off his back about never going out. Fuck. He was going to do this.
And he did.

The next day, David found himself confidently walking towards the dug out at the end of Patrick’s baseball practice. Patrick looked surprised but a little pleased to see him.

“Let’s do this,” David said before he could talk himself out of it. Without preamble, Patrick pulled him in for another kiss. This one was even shorter than the one on the track, but it made David equally dizzy. There were some odd looks when they pulled apart, but no one said anything outright. David couldn’t think of a single thing to say, so he just walked away. Oh. This was going to end so badly.


They made ground rules, because David was in great danger of liking Patrick Brewer for real without them. They couldn’t kiss anymore, but Patrick would put his hand in David’s back pocket (David could not believe Patrick had never seen Sixteen Candles and decided that would be remedied immediately). David would go to Patrick’s baseball games and Patrick would drive him and Alexis to school. The riskiest thing was the notes. Apparently Rachel had always wanted Patrick to write her notes every day, and now Patrick was going to do it for David. He knew this was fake, but the idea of getting a love note every day made David’s heart tighten uncomfortably.

That, and the ski trip. The ski trip where more Schitt’s Creek students lost their virginity than the rest of the year combined. David had never had any desire to go, but Patrick said no one in their right mind would let their partner go without them. It was also three months away. David was pretty confident they wouldn’t still be together in three months, so he agreed.

So the rules were set and their debut as a couple was a bigger deal than David ever thought it would be. Alexis was thrilled enough to have a decent ride to school that she didn’t even mention how weird it was that he was suddenly dating Patrick.

David could feel eyes on him the whole day. He’d never really been invisible, how could he be when he acted the way he did and had a famous mother? But people had never out rightly cared what he did. It seemed like dating Patrick Brewer was going to be the end of his anonymity. It was hard to care about that with Patrick’s hand in his, though. David would have been more worried about it if he wasn’t distracted by Rachel’s eyes boring into him whenever their paths crossed. He’d never really understood the phrase “if looks could kill” until now. But god… Rachel really wanted Patrick back. Which meant there was no way they’d still be together by the ski trip. Why did the thought of that make David so sad?

Everything was going perfectly to plan when Patrick decided they needed to go to Mutt Schitt’s party. Rachel was insanely jealous, Ted was leaving him alone, and it seemed like no one had told Alexis about the letters. Unfortunately, the contract meant that David had to go to this party despite the fact that Mutt was indifferent to him at best. His dad had been no help, Johnny had practically ordered him out of the house. Patrick watched on as Johnny told him he needed to change with thinly veiled amusement. Again, why was Patrick nice to everyone other than David?

The party was a surprisingly good time. He’d played beer pong with Stevie and Patrick had dutifully put on his silver rings so they wouldn’t get soaked in beer. David ignored how it made his heart race to see Patrick wearing his rings. He’d had a pleasant conversation with Mutt when Patrick went to get him a drink. Everything was going great until Rachel and her friend Katelyn called them over. Mutt had already moved on to a new conversation and Stevie and Patrick were nowhere in sight, so David didn’t have much of a choice.

“Spill,” Katelyn said, “What’s going on with you and Patrick.”

“Oh don’t push him. David is shy,” Rachel replied with thinly veiled contempt. The insult was clear. David wasn’t shy. He was just unpopular.

“What do you want to know?” David challenged. Patrick might be his fake boyfriend but he wasn’t going to be made to feel that Patrick was too good for him. Not when someone as bitchy as Rachel felt entitled to him. It seemed to work, because Rachel was gone the moment Patrick came back and David took no small amount of satisfaction from that.

They’d left the party not long after and they ended up back at the diner. And Patrick would not stop talking about Rachel. It was probably a good thing. The reality check hurt, but David needed to be reminded that Patrick wasn’t his. Patrick would never be his. He told Patrick as much when he’d pushed back on how weird David thought it was that he and Rachel were still talking.

“I am /,em>not obsessed with her,” Patrick insisted. If David didn’t know any better he would have thought that Patrick was hurt.

“Then prove it,” David challenged, “Don’t call her tonight.” There was that glint in Patrick’s eye that he got sometimes when David pushed him. He was a baseball player for a reason, Patrick liked to win.

“Y’know, for someone so quiet all the time, you have a lot of opinions.”

“I’m also not very quiet,” David shot back, “You’ve just never bothered to get to know me.” It was teasing, but there was a hint of truth to it. David and Patrick had been friends before bullies and low self-esteem had pushed David into his shell. Then they’d kissed and Patrick started dating Rachel and it was lie David didn’t exist. Stevie and Alexis were the only people who knew David on more than a surface level. Patrick could have- still could- if he was willing to put in the effort. It was another challenge, one Patrick again looked eager to win.

“How have you never dated anyone?” Patrick asked. It sounded a little bit like he was talking to himself, but David answered anyways.

“No one’s ever liked me.”

“That’s not true,” Patrick had the nerve to laugh, “Jake asked you to semiformal last year and you said no.”

“Because we all know what Jake wants,” David replied, “And then he turned around and asked my best friend. Not exactly boyfriend material.”

“Come on, David, stop deflecting. What happened to no secrets?”

“Fine,” David said. He’d been the one to challenge Patrick to get to know him better, after all. He owed him the truth, “So love and dating. Awesome in theory. Great to read about. But in reality… it’s just too scary.”

“But why? Why is that scary?” Patrick pressed.

“Because the more people you let into your life, the more they can just walk right now.” David hadn’t really meant to be that honest, but once it was out there he couldn’t take it back. He was surprised to find that he didn’t really want to.

“Like your mom?” Patrick asked. And dammit, how did Patrick see through him so easily?

“I love my mom, and I’m glad she has her career,” David said, “But I haven’t seen her in more than a year. And I just don’t want to give a lot of people the power to hurt me like that.”

“Y’know,” Patrick said after a minute, “I lied to you. A while ago. When I said no one would care we were dating. One of the guys on the baseball team cared. He cared a lot that I was queer and didn’t tell anyone. And he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. Not that it’s the same thing at all, but I think I kind of understand the not wanting people to leave thing.”

“I’m sorry, Patrick.”

“It’s whatever.”

“We don’t have to talk about it. But it’s not whatever,” David replied. It was probably the most sincere he’s ever been in his life with someone he wasn’t related to. Patrick gave him a small smile and squeezed his hand and suddenly there was the fear again. Thing with Patrick were so easy until they got a little too real.

“It’s funny,” Patrick said when David pulled his hand back, “You say you’re afraid of relationships, but you don’t seem to be afraid to be with me.”

“There’s no reason to be,” David lied. He was terrified and the look in Patrick’s eyes let David know he was going to call him out on it.

“And why’s that?” Patrick asked as he leaned forward. There was a terrifying moment where it seemed like Patrick was going to kiss him if David didn’t shut this down. A kiss alone in the diner where no one could see them was way too real.

“Because we’re just pretending,” David lied. Patrick leaned back and he couldn’t quite hide the hurt in his eyes. Good. It was better to hurt Patrick now than to let Patrick break his heart later.


 

David was trying to be careful, but dating Patrick was getting easier and easier. He watched movies with him and Alexis. David ate dinner at his house at least once a week. The more he got to know Patrick, and the more David let Patrick know him, the more time David caught himself forgetting that it wasn’t real.

David was so caught up in his feelings for Patrick that he forgot he was waiting for the other shoe to drop with Ted until he was on the Rose’s doorstep.

“Can we talk?” Ted asked sheepishly. He didn’t look angry but he did look confused, so David said yes.

“Did you mean what you said in the letter?” Ted asked after a tense moment.

“No,” David replied immediately, “It was a long time ago.”

“But you meant it at the time?” Ted pressed, “And while Alexis and I were together?”

“Look, I liked you freshman year. And I liked you while Alexis liked you. But when I found out you asked her out, I knew it was weird so I got over it. You were never supposed to know.”

“But I do know,” Ted replied, “And I don’t know what to do.”

“Don’t tell Alexis.”

“Alexis isn’t even speaking to me, of course I wouldn’t tell her.”

“Okay then,” David replied, “Then can’t we just go back to being distant friends?”

“I don’t know, David, I have a lot to think about.”

“Well, I don’t. I’m with Patrick now and I have nothing left to say to you.”

It was just his luck that the Rachel shoe dropped the same week. He was eating lunch with Stevie under the bleachers because she insisted they couldn’t be caught with the food they snuck off campus for. David went from annoyed to terrified when Patrick and Rachel sat down right above them and starting arguing.

“I can’t believe you’re with him, Patrick,” Rachel said, “David Rose is not your type.”

“I don’t think you can decide what my type is, Rachel. You broke up with me.”

“I know you. And I know David. And it doesn’t make sense.”

“We should go, this seems private,” David whispered to Stevie.

“Are you insane?” She gasped, “That is your boyfriend. And they are talking about you.”

“It’s like you don’t even have time for me anymore. All you do is hang out with him.”

“And I was just supposed to wait around for you like an idiot?” Patrick retorted.

“I didn’t even know you liked guys, Patrick. That seems like the kind of thing your girlfriend should know about you.”

“I didn’t really know either!” Patrick replied, “You and I were together and I never really explored it before. But I do. And I like David.”

“You’re not taking him on the ski trip are you?” Rachel asked. It made David’s blood boil at the way she just ignored what Patrick was really saying. If the goal was to get Rachel back, Patrick wasn’t doing a very good job acting like he wanted her back.

“What does it matter, Rachel? You have a boyfriend.”

“Maybe by then I won’t,” she snapped.

“Dude,” Stevie snapped when Rachel and Patrick left, “Rachel is after your man.”

The thing was, it didn’t matter. That was what David told himself as he floated through the rest of the day. The whole point of this was the make Rachel jealous. David had been the one who was deluding himself that maybe what they had was real. Patrick and Rachel would always get back together, that was how things were at Schitt’s Creek High. Patrick would break up with him and they probably wouldn’t speak again until graduation.

Leave it to Sebastian Raine to be drawn to the walking depression cloud that was David Rose today, “David,” he said as he sat next to David, “I can’t believe we never finished our conversation.”

“Leave it alone, Sebastian,” David warned.

“That doesn’t sound like the David who wrote me a love letter,” Sebastian teased. It made David’s skin crawl. He loved when Patrick teased him. He never felt laughed at. This felt like the moment before a rollercoaster dropped where his heart was in his throat. Why had he ever had a crush on Sebastian Raine?

“I’m with Patrick,” David said, “So even if that letter meant anything before- which it didn’t- it means nothing now.”

“You’re with Patrick until Rachel steals him back,” Sebastian amended, “And it’s looking like Rachel does not want to go on that ski trip alone.”

“Mind your own business,” David snapped but there was no heat in it. A condescending smile pulled at David’s lips. Sebastian was right and he knew it. He had hurt David just like he’d wanted to.

“I’m just saying,” Sebastian said, “When this falls apart. Maybe you and I can try again.”

David opened his mouth to respond, but then Patrick was there and calling for him.

“Think about what I said!” Sebastian called after him.

“What do you think people are going to say when they see my boyfriend cozying up to Sebastian Raine?” Patrick hissed when they were out of earshot of everybody else.

“What do you think people are going to say when they hear you’re practically begging Rachel to get back together on the bleachers?” David shot back. Patrick had the decency to at least look embarrassed. Good.

“Okay, I was talking to Rachel. So what?”

“Look,” David said after a calming breath, “I don’t think either one of us thought this was going to go on this long. But I’m okay ish with Ted, Rachel wants you back. I think we should just call it.”

“Call it?” Patrick replied dumbfounded, “I can’t believe you’re trying to break up with me before the ski trip. That’s in the contract!”

If we were still together.”

“We are still together!” Patrick cried, and the emotion in his voice took David aback a bit. He wanted Rachel, he was going to get Rachel. The only one getting nothing would be David. Or he would be getting stalked by Sebastian Raine, apparently, which was honestly worse.

“You are just trying to pull out because you’re scared,” Patrick accused.

“Scared of what?”

“You tell me, David,” Patrick said. The disappointment in his eyes was almost too much for David to bear. How do you tell your fake boyfriend that you can’t go skiing with him because you have real feelings? Answer: you can’t. So you make excuses.

“I’ll go if Stevie goes.”


“Oh, of course I will go on that ski trip.” Stevie says that night while they’re eating pizza.

“Traitor!” David yells as he throws a crust at her.

“Rachel will absolutely try to make a move on Patrick if you’re not there.”

“Let her!” David insisted, “I am tired of being on her shit list. I want my anonymity back.”

“Should’ve thought of that before you started dating one of the most popular boys in school,” Stevie laughed then she turned serious, “Listen… since you started dating Patrick, I’ve never seen you this happy.

David hadn’t been able to come up with an answer for that, so he found himself on the bus with Stevie’s head resting on his shoulder the next morning. He’d seen Patrick as he got on the bus, but very deliberately broke eye contact with him and sat next to Stevie instead. So Rachel had sat next to him, because of course she did.

There were so many thoughts swirling through David’s mind, not least of which were the condoms his dad had given him as he dropped his off.

“God, dad, please don’t,” David begged, but it was too late.

“Look, David,” he began, “As your father, I think you’re too young to be having sex. But I also want you to be safe. I know you won’t let anyone pressure you, but just in case.”

“Well thank you, I am going to swallow bleach now,” David replied as he grabbed his bag.

“Have fun!” Johnny called as an afterthought.

“Well I have a bunch of rubbers. For that. Specifically,” David replied sarcastically.

He knew a lot of people had sex on this trip, but he was not a lot of people. He didn’t even have a fake boyfriend to have sex with and Sebastian wasn’t coming so he’d have no one to pressure him. They probably would have gotten more use if he gave them to Rachel, he thought vindictively. Stevie was leaning on him so heavily he couldn’t even turn around to spy on them. Not that he would, David wasn’t pathetic. But he’d like the option to.


David wasn’t going to ski. And now that he didn’t have a fake boyfriend to keep him busy, there was no reason not to come clean to Stevie about all of this. She wouldn’t tell anyone, and the teasing David was sure to get about it was worth finally having someone to talk to.

“But David,” Stevie said after he was done explaining, “No matter how it started, Patrick obviously likes you.”

“As if.”

“I’m serious!” she replied, “I can tell by the way he looks at you.”

“And how does Patrick Brewer look at me?” David laughed.

“Like a sexy little rubix cube,” Stevie said thoughtfully, “He definitely can’t figure you out, but he’s having a lot of fun trying.”

“It doesn’t matter,” David replied. He didn’t even try to deconstruct her metaphor, “He’s still in love with Rachel.”

“David I love you, but you are so stupid,” Stevie replied.

“I’m not! It is embarrassing to be just another person who fell for Patrick Brewer.”

“David look at the facts!” Stevie insisted, “This whole thing was his idea. You came up with the no kissing rule. And you are the one carbo loading with your best friend while he’s probably waiting for you in the hot tub. If anyone was an idiot who fell for someone who didn’t like them back, it wasn’t you.”


Patrick was in the hot tub, just like Stevie said he would be. David didn’t know if he as waiting for him, but he was there nonetheless and his heart was racing.

“All by yourself out here?” David asked with far more bravado then he felt. His bravado fell even further when Patrick didn’t answer him, “Ignoring me?”

“Oh, I’m ignoring you?” Patrick replied sarcastically.

David took a deep breath. Patrick was annoyed, but he had every right to be. David was the one who pulled away and didn’t sit with him on the bus and basically pretended he didn’t exist.

“I’m sorry I’m not a good skier,” David began. Then added because he just couldn’t resist, “But you didn’t even offer to teach me how.”

“So I’m supposed to be all sweet to you after you just don’t sit with me on the bus ride up here?”

“Well, shouldn’t you be thanking me? You got to sit with who you actually wanted to,” David replied. He wasn’t even close to keeping the bitterness out of his voice.

“For someone who has such good grades, you can be so dense sometimes,” Patrick deadpanned.

“Excuse me?” David said.

“I wanted to sit next to you, David,” Patrick said, “Not Rachel.”

David just stared at him blankly and Patrick smiled sadly and continued, “Yeah. I packed us snacks, I even asked Alexis what you like.”

“But my favorite grocery store is across town.”

“Yeah,” Patrick agreed, “So if I drove across town to get something you like, that means…”

“You really like snacks?” David replied. Patrick laughed humorlessly and splashed at him halfheartedly. David was being dense on purpose, even he knew it. Because Patrick had been right. Things were getting too real and he was scared. But looking at Patrick, who was watching him so openly, just a little bit of that dissipated. David wondered how Patrick lived his life seemingly wearing his heart on his sleeve. David would rather die than have everyone know what he was feeling.

But right then, it was so clear how much Patrick liked him. So David took his coat off and slid into the hot tub. Patrick watched him curiously but didn’t say anything until David was standing between his legs. They weren’t quite touching, but every inch of David’s skin felt like it was alight anyways. It was just another inch and they’d be pressed together. Just one more inch, but David couldn’t make himself cross that line. He was still so scared. This thing between them was so new and they had so much to lose. David didn’t know if he’d be able to stand it if he had to watch Patrick go back to Rachel after this.

“Hi,” David said

“There is no one like you, David Rose,” Patrick said as he finally broke the distance. He gripped David by the thigh and lifted him up until he was straddling Patrick’s lap. David wasn’t going to be able to speak even if he wanted to, not when every inch of him was pressed against every inch of Patrick. Patrick looked into his eyes for another moment before he finally connected their lips and it felt like David’s entire world shifted.
It was relatively chased all things considered. Hot tub straddling aside, there wasn’t even any tongue. It was just two people connecting, exploring each other, waiting patiently to take more because they all the time in the world. It was perfect. And it was over too soon.

David could have stayed there all night, but sooner or later someone was going to come outside. It wasn’t a secret that most couples had sex on this trip but David didn’t need that proven to anyone. Especially when he didn’t actually have sex.

They were slow to pull apart from each other but pull apart they did. The walk back to their rooms was agonizing in his wet clothes, but the kiss Patrick pulled him into to say goodnight was worth it.

Stevie was asleep when David walked in so at least he wouldn’t have to explain himself, but he couldn’t sleep. His fake relationship with Patrick Brewer was undeniably real now, which meant he had so much to lose. Now that Patrick was gone for the night he had so much time to over think.

What if he messed it up? What if it just fizzled out? What if David gave him everything and Patrick left. That’s basically what Alexis had done to Ted.

But what if it’s wonderful? A small voice in his head that sounded too much like Patrick said, What if he’s in love with you?

That thought was terrifying too, but in a more exciting way. First love meant everything to David, was this really going to be it? He ran through all the horrible and wonderful ways this could end until he fell asleep. Somehow, things weren’t so scary in the morning. Patrick smiled at him in the hotel lobby and he smiled back. David could feel the excitement thrumming through his veins. This was the beginning of something.

David sat next to Patrick on the bus ride back.


Things fell apart immediately, because of course they did.

Rachel couldn’t just mind her own damn business and let David and Patrick be happy. She approached David as soon as they were back and school about how glad she was that David was understanding about their friendship and about how Patrick had spent the night in her room. It was stupid Rachel moves that David would have been able to ignore until he saw the ring. David’s ring sitting on Rachel’s finger. One of the rings Patrick had held for David the night of the party and never given back. David had thought it was kind of cute at the time and didn’t ask for them back, but instead of keeping it for himself he had given it to his ex-girlfriend. And Rachel knew it was his, that was clear in the way she was smirking at David’s shocked and hurt expression. She said a smug goodbye and then David was left starring at Patrick right behind her.

“Did you go to Rachel’s room last night?”

“Yeah, but-”

“And you gave her my ring,” David continued. It wasn’t a question but Patrick tried to defend himself anyways. David didn’t let him get a word in, “Am I just a joke to you, Patrick?” he demanded.

“No!” Patrick replied immediately, “You’re not a joke to me. You just don’t understand the situation.”

“No, I think I understand perfectly,” David replied. An icy cold certainty had settled over him. Guys like Patrick Brewer did not fall in love with guys like David Rose. He’d know that when they started this and when they kissed and even when he’d written the letter in seventh grade. There was no scenario where this wasn’t going to break David’s heart, so better to do it now, “This is over. In every way possible.”

“You don’t meant that,” Patrick replied.

“I think I do.”

“Let me just drive you home,” Patrick begged. He looked on the brink of tears and David didn’t want to see Patrick cry, “I’ll explain.”

“I’d rather walk.” David replied before turning on his heel and walking away.


 

He ended up walking home with Stevie but didn’t tell her why he was upset despite something clearly being wrong. Alexis was home when they got there and she’d had some relationship drama of her own over the weekend and David was more than willing to just let her fill the silence. They made cookies and talked about nothing and David still felt awful, but everything was calm until Patrick came knocking at his door.

“We need to talk,” Patrick said. David wanted nothing more than to send him away, but it was clear that he’d keep trying until David heard him out. So David stepped outside and shut the door on a very interested looking Alexis and Stevie.

“Nothing happened between me and Rachel last night.”

“What happened was you went to her room in the first place!”

“Rachel and I dated for a long time. Those feelings aren’t just gonna go away,” Patrick continued as if that would help his case at all, “We have history.”

“Well I am tired of being second best,” David snapped, “Or fake best. Or whatever.”

“You do not get it,” Patrick said, “Last night was-”

“A mistake, Patrick. Last night was a mistake,” David said harshly, “Maybe it wasn’t a big deal you, but it was to me.”

“Who said it wasn’t a big deal for me?” Patrick asked. He sounded so desperate. All David wanted to do was melt into his arms, but he had to be strong.

“You went to Rachel after kissing me. You hang out with her on the bleachers and you don’t tell her you’re not interested. You are no better than Sebastian,” David spit the last word knowing it would hurt, and the words hit their mark.

“This isn’t about me and Rachel at all,” Patrick said, “This is about you not understanding relationships. Thinking Sebastian and I are the same. Or your feelings for Ted were real.”

“This isn’t about the letters!” David cried.

“You have feelings for Ted?” Alexis asked at the same time. David turned to see her and Stevie standing in the doorway watching them. Fuck. The entire point of this was for Alexis to never know about him and Ted. And Patrick had just ruined it.

“Go home, Patrick,” David said.

“You were never second best,” Patrick said seriously. They held tense eye contact for a minute before David followed Alexis into the house. He had almost caught up with her when his phone started buzzing. David wanted to ignore it, but it didn’t stop. People were texting him, more people than he knew even had his number.

“David,” Stevie said before holding her phone out to him. She’d gotten 6000 texts too.

It was a video. Of him and Patrick making out in the hot tub, “Oh my GOD,” he screamed, “Alexis!”

David chased Alexis up the stairs with Stevie following him. Her door was locked but David kept knocking, “Please, I need your help!”

And because she was David’s older sister and she loved him she opened the door. She watched the video a few times even though it was making David’s skin crawl and she decided it wasn’t a huge deal. David was wearing a sweater and you could only see him from the back. If he hadn’t been tagged in it, no one would have known it was David at all.

It was worse for Patrick, she decided.

David scoffed. He didn’t want Patrick to get hurt, but worse? Nothing was ever worse for popular guys like Patrick than they were for David. This would ruin his entire reputation and it would just be a small bump for Patrick.

“You’re only being nice to me because I accidentally made a sex tape,” David whined when Alexis tried to force him to sit up.

“I do feel bad for you,” Alexis admitted, “But I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t tell me what was going on in the first place.”

“I thought you were going to hate me.”

“I could never hate you, David,” she said, “But hearing what Patrick said… I thought you were trying to date Ted now.”

“I would never do that to you,” David said, “It was a stupid crush freshman year before you starting dating. I’ve been over Ted for years.”

“If we’re sharing secrets,” Stevie said from her place on the other side of Alexis, “I sent the letters.”

“I’m going to kill you,” David said calmly. Then he lunged for her. She was saved only by Alexis pulling him back, but she couldn’t hold him for long. Soon David was up and chasing her around the room again while she tried to explain herself.

“You were so lonely, I could tell Patrick liked you but you wouldn’t do anything about it. Then I saw the letters while I was taking your boxes to good will and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

“SO YOU SENT ALL FIVE OF THEM?” David yelled as Alexis shielded Stevie.

“I thought it would look suspicious if I just sent one!” and then Stevie was in the closet and Alexis was blocking the door.

“Okay,” Alexis said, “Her logic was off, but her heart was in the right place.”

“Her face is going to be in the wrong place,” David warned.

“If you really, didn’t want those letters sent out why did you address them?” she asked. David stepped back because she did have point, “Is it maybe because there’s a part of you that doesn’t want everything in your life to be a fantasy?”

“…Maybe.”

“So if I can forgive you for writing my boyfriend a love letter, can you forgive Stevie for sending them?”

Stevie crept out of the closet and David managed not to kill her.

The rest of the weekend went by uneventfully. Alexis managed to get the videos taken down by emailing Instagram about child pornography laws. David couldn’t believe he was admitting to dabbling in porn before even losing his virginity, but he figured it was what he deserved for being so stupid in the first place.

Alexis and Stevie tried to get David to talk to Patrick. His dad even tried to have a heart to heart with him, but the wound was still too fresh. He liked Patrick, a lot. But school was going to be hell for a little bit with the video and David couldn’t take any more heartbreak on top of that.

And school was hell.

Stevie pulled photos off of David’s locked and a few other buildings on campus. Even with the videos taken down almost immediately, word had still spread.

“Hey, slow down, what’s wrong?” Patrick said when David passed him in tears.

“You were just going to let them think that we had sex in the hot tub when you knew we didn’t?” David demanded.

Patrick looked at the flyer Stevie thrust into his hand, “Hey!” he called to the hallway, “Not that it’s anyone’s business, but nothing happened in the hot tub. If I hear anyone talking about the video, I’ll kick your ass.”

“Nice one, Brewer,” Stevie muttered when she saw David shedding fresh tears. This wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want Patrick to defend him, he just wanted his anonymity back.

“Hey,” Patrick said gently as he gripped David’s hands. It was too gentle, to intimate for the storm David was feeling, but Patrick wouldn’t let him go, “I am really sorry about everything. If I knew who did it-”

“I know who did it,” David interrupted, “So should you.”

“Let me talk to her, okay?” Patrick asked. He still looked so gentle and hopeful, like he could fix the whole world if only David would let him.

“No,” David said. Patrick couldn’t fix this for him, “This is a fight I have to handle myself.”


 

He found Rachel on the same bleachers that he’d heard her and Patrick arguing under. She didn’t look like the smug victor who just posted David’s sex tape, but who else could it have been?

“I know you posted the video,” David said without preamble.

“It wasn’t me,” Rachel replied, “But I’m glad someone did. Maybe now everyone will see who you really are.”

“What is that supposed mean?

“Patrick is not as confident as he pretends to be,” she said, “I’m not as tough as I pretend to be. And you, David, are not as victimized and innocent as you pretend to be. Because you kissed the boy I liked.”

“Rachel, you were broken up,” David replied as he rolled his eyes.

“Not now!” She continued, “Before. Before we even dated.”

“I’m sorry?” David replied, “Are you talking about middle school?”

“You knew that I liked him and you kissed him anyways.”

“It was spin the bottle you psycho. And it was tongue-less!” David couldn’t help but yelling. He could not believe that Rachel had released a sex tape of him over a kiss that had happened 5 years ago. Wasn’t losing her and Patrick as friends punishment enough?

Apparently not for her, “Well it wasn’t tongue-less to me!” she snapped before storming off of the bleachers.


David had always thought no one was paying attention to what he was doing. Once the thrill of who his mother was wore off, people saw that David wasn’t actually cool or interesting and he assumed if he just kept to himself that no one would pay attention to him. He kept his circle small and he kept his distance with everyone else. For good reason, it seemed. He had opened himself up to Patrick and now look at where he was? Heart broken and the Kim Kardashian of Schitt’s Creek High.

But he’d hurt Rachel, that much was clear. And not just with dating Patrick now. He’d hurt her badly and never apologized. Their animosity wasn’t Rachel’s fault, it was his.


It seemed like Patrick’s threat had the desired effect. There were no more pictures the rest of the day. There were a lot of judgmental glares and side eyes, but no one talked shit outright. It didn’t do anything to improve his mood. By the time David got home, he was practically dead on his feet.

“I know it was a hard day,” Alexis said, “But can we talk a little more about the Ted thing.”

“Sure,” David sighed. His day was already ruined, why not just get all the hard things over with.

“I feel like I didn’t really listen to your side of thigs,” Alexis said, “I was just upset and we had to deal with the video. So I’m listening.”

“Okay,” David said. This was literally the conversation that David didn’t want to have, that dating Patrick was supposed to prevent. But Alexis was always there for him, and he’d repaid her by writing a love letter to her boyfriend. She owed him this.

“Ted was like, the first guy I really liked,” he began, “All the letters were just fantasies. But his… it was the only crush built on really knowing him. But over time that feeling just faded away, and I missed him as my friend. Then you started going out and I would never do anything to hurt you, so I fully let it go.”

“So don’t get mad at me,” Alexis said, “But I sort of talked to Ted about this.”

“You and Ted are talking?”

“He was worried after the video,” Alexis shrugged, “And he didn’t know how to talk to you himself. So he asked me.”

“And?”

“And,” Alexis began, “He misses you too. And he wishes you’d just talk to him. Why didn’t you just tell him all the things you told me? He would understand.”

“I don’t know how,” David replied, “We left things so weird last time we talked. And I didn’t fully understand all these things myself. Not until…”

“Until Patrick,” Alexis finished, “Why not just talk to him too?”

“He broke my heart, Alexis,” David replied, “Or I broke my own heart. This whole thing started because Patrick wanted Rachel back. I had no right to get hurt when it worked.”

“David, that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Alexis said affectionately. David got offended anyway.

“Excuse me?”

“Did you see the way he stood up for you today?” Alexis said, “Yeah, he should have done it a lot sooner. But he’s a jock and they’re slow learners.”

“Do you have a point, Alexis?” David asked. He had hit his limit on human interaction today basically as soon as the first bell had run at school and he wanted nothing more than to just crawl into bed.

“David, you have to tell people how you feel when you feel it. You can’t just sit in your room writing love letters for the rest of your life. If it wasn’t for the letters getting out, Patrick wouldn’t even be in your life at all.”

“Yeah, well maybe I’m getting tired of being the only one writing love letters,” David whined even though he knew Alexis was right, “Let someone write them to me for once.”

“You mean like Patrick has been for the past three months?”

“What?” David asked.

“Honestly, David,” Alexis said as she got up, “You’d think you’d learn your lesson about leaving your love letters out for anyone to find.”

Then she was gone. David didn’t have that long to ponder about what she meant before she came back downstairs with David’s hat box. The hat box that obviously no longer held his love letters. Instead, when Alexis opened the lid ceremoniously there were dozens of the folded up notes Patrick used to give David.

“Don’t kill me,” Alexis said, “You were always just leaving them everywhere or throwing them away and I grabbed them. I thought you’d want to read them eventually.”

“It doesn’t matter,” David lied, “He only did it to make Rachel jealous.”

“Read them,” Alexis coaxed, so David unfolded one.

Everyone was so impressed by your art midterm, but especially me. I love having a creative fake boyfriend.

David unfolded another.

It’s so cool how we can talk to each other about real stuff.

You looked so good today.

“You still think you haven’t gotten a love letter?” Alexis asked smugly.

David didn’t answer because he was grabbing the car keys. Patrick would be almost done with baseball practice right now. Which meant that if he hurried, he’d catch him before he went home. And what he’d say… David had no idea. But he was feeling that familiar pressure in his chest, like every emotion running through him just needed to get out or he’d explode. It was the feeling that created love letters. But Patrick already had his love letter. This time, David wanted to tell him.

And yeah, Patrick had hurt him. But David had also hurt Patrick. At least Patrick had done it by accident. David had known what he was doing when he’d ended things. And yeah, Rachel was still going to be around and people would still think David was overstepping by dating someone so popular. But David didn’t care. He liked Patrick, so much that it hurt and David just had to tell him.

He wasn’t even nervous driving over even though it was the peak of rush hour.

And then David was on the baseball field without even really remembering the walk from the parking lot and Patrick was standing about 50 feet away.

“Hi,” Patrick said uncertainly.

“I have to tell you something,” David replied. He sounded nervous but forceful, just like he wanted to. If only he had any idea what to actually say.

“Okay,” Patrick said as he began walking towards David. Was he imagining it, or did Patrick look a little hopeful. Cautious, but like there an undercurrent of want and hope. He looked exactly like David was feeling.

“I drove here,” David blurted out when Patrick had crossed about the half the distance. It wasn’t what David had meant to say, but Patrick gave him an impressed look anyways that David appreciated.

“Really? That’s great, congrats.”

“Thanks,” David replied. And then he turned around.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Patrick cried. This is why David wrote letters, he decided. It was so much easier to take your time crafting the perfect sentence than it was to have an actual human conversation. How could David be expected to come up with perfect and romantic things on the spot? Patrick seemed to be able to do it all the time, and David was just panicking and walking away without saying any of the things he wanted Patrick to know.

“What’s that in your hand?” Patrick asked with a smirk as he kept walking towards Patrick. Right. He had written a letter. In the car in the parking lot. Because he’d known he would freeze up. He’d just forgotten about it in the adrenaline rush of seeing Patrick again.

“It’s nothing,” David said.

“Oh, it’s nothing?” Patrick teased. And yeah, Patrick was definitely flirting with him. David couldn’t breathe as Patrick closed the last few feet between them. He was so distracted by having Patrick this close again that he couldn’t stop him from grabbing the letter.

Patrick was smiling, but he still said seriously, “If you want me to read that, you have to give it to me.”

He was still smiling but he looked nervous. He thought David was going to be too scared to be vulnerable. After all the honest things Patrick had said to him, he thought David would never be able to reciprocate. That was fair, David admitted. He’d always shied away when things got real. But not this time. He grabbed the letter back and cleared his throat dramatically. It got the desired effect of a genuine smile from Patrick.

Patrick eyes asked him to get on with it, but the words were still stuck in David’s throat, “Could you turn around please?” David asked after a prolonged silence. Patrick scoffed but did as David asked.

“Dear Patrick,” David began, “I need you to know that…” No. This was stupid. David wanted to be genuine. No more hiding behind his letters. He tapped Patrick’s shoulder to turn him around, “I need you to know that I like you, Patrick Brewer. And not in a fake way. And I guess that’s all I came here to say.”

David meant to walk away again but Patrick turned him around this time, “Don’t I get to say something?”

“Right, I guess you do,” David said.

“The reason I went to Rachel’s room that night,” Patrick began. David couldn’t help but roll his eyes a little. He didn’t want to talk about Rachel right now. Or ever again, “I went to tell her that it was over.”

“Oh,” David said.

“Because I’m in love with you, David,” he continued. He said it so softly with the gentlest smile that David just wanted kiss off his lips, “Only you.”

“Oh.” David breathed again, because he didn’t think he was really capable of anything else. Patrick leaned in and David stopped breathing. But then his panic gripped him again, “Wait. How do we do this?”

“Do what?”

“What’s in a contract for a real relationship?”

Patrick actually had the nerve to laugh at him, but it was a fond and loving sound, “Nothing. You have to trust.”

David didn’t know what to say to that, so he took another step towards Patrick until they were flush against each other. David always wondered if it bothered Patrick to be shorter than him, but Patrick was looking at him right now like he was going to climb him like a tree. David had spent so long wondering how Patrick could ever like him after being with someone like Rachel. Someone small and pretty and popular. But maybe Patrick liked all the ways he was different than Rachel. Patrick was looking at him right now like

David was the only person in the world. David stopped thinking about Rachel.

“Are you going to break my heart, David?” Patrick asked. It had a joking lilt, but David could see the honest question in his eyes. Instead of answering, David leaned down and kissed him. It was their best kiss yet, all the pent up longing flooding their bodies. David was grateful they were alone on the baseball field.

After all his romance novels, David always imagined falling in love in a field. Just not one where you played baseball.

But Patrick was holding on to him like he’d never let go. And for once, David felt perfect.