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steeped in love

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Patrick’s sports-playing, only-child energy combined with coffee turned him into a jittery mess. He later recognized that some of that was an underlying lack of feeling right, but he didn’t have the words for it then. The coffee shop of his high school open mics and teenage hangouts offered a wide assortment of teas, so that became his beverage of choice.

He was loyal to one brand, and his mom was delighted to send a couple boxes in college care packages with shortbread cookies and homemade granola. After graduation, Rachel insisted that they both had to save on their weekly budget, even though it was his only splurge, so he stomached the store brand. During this time of big fights and frequent break-ups, the only reliable thing in his life was that his mom would have a box stashed away, ready for long chats or silent reflection around the kitchen table.

When he made it to Schitt’s Creek, Patrick was in survival mode. As he became more comfortable, he started playing the guitar again, reading, subbed for the baseball league, and even found himself wrapped up in a business with the endlessly enthralling David Rose. Some of that anxiety from his youth was starting to make sense the more he got to know David.

Patrick volunteered to do the house grocery shopping about a month after moving in with Ray. Shocked to see his favorite tea brand on the shelf at Brebner’s, he got a few boxes as a treat. On his next trip shortly after proposing the business partnership with David, the tea was nowhere to be found. He searched every aisle, asked an unenthusiastic employee, and even looked online. From a combination of inflated Amazon prices and unresponsive social media pages, it looked like the brand may have been discontinued. Luckily he still had some, but was disappointed to not be able to get any more. Patrick was so busy with the store, a head full of thoughts and feelings about his business partner, and trying to fend off the texts from his parents, friends, and Rachel, that he didn’t have time to consider it beyond that.

After the grand opening, the hug he shared with David was a frequent flashback in Patrick’s mind. In the days following, he couldn’t resist watching David flit around the store, so focused but utterly charming. Patrick often took on his “numbers guy” tasks in the back, so he found himself storing things in the desk from the day he started. An extra notebook, his favorite pens, headache medicine, and tea, the basic generic kind plus a few of his prized tea bags. When he felt the need, he would sometimes just ask Twyla for a cup of hot water so he could enjoy one of his favorites in the early mornings.

One day, he went to the back and opened the deep side drawer to grab binder clips and found a half box of his tea stashed under the envelopes. He thought he had only brought a few individual bags to put in the shallow top drawer, but it was possible he had forgotten he brought a partial box. Regardless, he had been running low at Ray’s and was happy to have more.

A few days later, David barreled through the front door with a plastic tote. “They’re no espresso machine, but Stevie had this coffee maker and electric kettle in storage at the motel, so I thought we could use them!” David exclaimed as he set them up on top of the mini fridge in the back. David still opted to go to the Cafe most days, but Patrick was happy to use the kettle to get more than one use out of his cafe and specialty tea bags.

In those hectic early days of the store, every time Patrick thought he was getting to his last few tea bags, it seemed like more popped up. It wasn’t immediately apparent because he drank them so infrequently as to make them last longer. He assumed that they were just getting lost in the detritus of the increasingly cramped desk. He’d spot the box in the deep drawer searching for some receipts and treat himself to a cup while working on the quarterly taxes. A week later, he would pull a tea bag out that was stuck under the scotch tape in the long shallow drawer and have it those nights when he closed alone. With so much going on, he was just grateful that he could have a comforting cup when he needed it as he was dreading the day he eventually ran out.

Summer arrived and Patrick could hardly believe he was now dating David. To be able to kiss, touch and discover even more about this amazing man was beyond a dream, and Patrick finally realized what he had been getting wrong for so long. After Stevie graciously offered her apartment to them for a night, Patrick dropped David off at the motel, ran to Ray’s, and then was going to pick David up before proceeding to Stevie’s.

Back at the motel, Patrick knocked on David’s door lightly. With no answer and David’s parents’ room dark, Patrick let himself in. The bathroom door was closed and the sounds of one of David’s favorite playlists was minging with the running shower. Patrick decided it would be best to go back to the car and text David so he didn’t startle him, but something caught his eye. Tucked between the endless black t-shirts and socks of the open dresser drawer was an unmistakable sight, four boxes of his favorite tea, one of which was slightly opened.

Patrick saw an invoice slip lying alongside. Unfolding it, he read that five boxes had been ordered by David to the motel shortly after the store’s grants had come through at a cost that he personally would never pay. Patrick closed his eyes and took a shuddering breath. The neverending tea bags which had brought him such comfort as he navigated his new life, career, and feelings in Schitt’s Creek was the doing of the gorgeous, good, and of course nice man that he was falling for more every day. Shaken from his contemplation when the music from the bathroom suddenly changed to a quieter dynamic, Patrick quickly put the invoice back and crept out to his car.

I’m ready for you, Patrick texted, knowing that he was talking about something much bigger than just tonight.