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a road that will never lead to rome

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Wednesday arrives too soon, and David finds himself staring across the store at Patrick restocking the hand creams. The last one on the shelf had sold on Sunday afternoon before they’d locked up and placed a sign on the door telling would-be customers they’d be closed Monday for their wedding. The last time either of them had touched any of those jars, they’d been engaged, but now, now they’re married. David imagines he can hear the gentle tap of his husband’s ring against the plastic container each time he picks one up, and he doesn’t even try to hide his smile.

His husband. The word is still strange on his tongue though he’s been sampling it in bite-sized pieces for the last two months. He watches the muscles of his husband’s back shift and stretch beneath the thin fabric of his shirt as he stretches up to slide the jars onto the higher shelf and wonders how long it will take for the taste of it to become familiar, for the newness of husband and married and home to fade.

A long time, he hopes. A really fucking long time.

Aside from the way he’s all lit up inside, however, it’s an exceptionally ordinary Wednesday. Mrs. Tillotson comes in for a bag of tea at ten like she does every week. Hyam delivers this week’s allotment of produce at eleven. And at noon, Patrick presses a kiss to David’s cheek and tells him that he’ll see him at home later, slipping out the door for his usual afternoon off.

The normality of it all is almost disappointing, when it feels like the universe has shifted so far off its axis—David is married, his parents are in L.A., Stevie is off somewhere in Alberta for her first motel site visit, Alexis will be in New York in two weeks—but it’s kind of nice, too, knowing that in spite of everything else, some things are still the same.

It would be nicer still if they were off on a honeymoon instead of back at work, but David knows it wasn’t in the budget. Patrick had tried; he really had. He’d shown David the spreadsheets and together they’d picked through every line item to see if they could find the room to make it work, but between the wedding and the house, there’d been no remaining wiggle room and they’d resigned themselves to rebuilding their savings and going somewhere nice in a year or two to celebrate.

It’s the practical if unsatisfying choice, and David credits how much he’s grown over the last few years for how little he’s complained about it.

It doesn’t mean he can’t fantasize though. In fact, it’s the idea of the two of them, a couple anniversaries from now, taking each other apart on sinfully soft linens as pristine, white curtains billow in a tropical breeze that gets him through Doris telling him all about her new gloves. As caught up as he is in the fantasy of rubbing sunscreen into the pale, broad expanse of his husband’s back and ordering enough room service to feed a small nation, it takes Doris asking if the new camembert is pet-safe before he realizes that she’s been talking about a cat and not a garment the entire time. (He did briefly wonder why she was taking a pair of gloves to Miguel for him to check out, but he can’t possibly be expected to keep up with the weird side gigs half this town has going on.)

Once she leaves with a tote full of questionably pet-safe cheeses, the rest of the day passes in flashes of tedium tempered by the spark of joy he gets every time the light through their wide front windows catches on his wedding band. He wonders if Patrick’s doing the same at home, if his breath stutters every time the gold of his ring glints, too. When five o’clock comes, he closes up quickly and rushes home to find out.

Luck must be on his side because the elevator is just opening as he enters the building, someone else spilling out before David climbs in and hits the button for the third floor instead of hiking up the stairs. He bounces lightly on the balls of his feet as the elevator whirs into motion, and maybe it’s ridiculous to be this excited to come home when he’s done exactly this a hundred times before, but this is the first time he’s coming home to his husband. Even the doorknob feels different beneath his hand, warmer and smoother than it’s ever been before, and he has to take a deep breath before he opens the door.

“Honey, I’m home.”

It’s cheesy, he knows, but worth it for the way that Patrick’s face lights up as he looks up from setting the table.

“Hi.” Patrick greets him with a long, lingering kiss, the kind that makes David want to start stripping right here in the doorway. The wink he gets says he isn’t alone in that impulse, but Patrick rudely goes back to setting the table instead of ravishing him the way that David is picturing.

It’s only then that he notices the curtain strung up across the apartment, the bed completely hidden from view behind it and a low, steady hum coming from somewhere on the other side. “What’s this?”

“A surprise for later.” He smirks at the way David’s body automatically leans toward it before he can snap himself back again. He’s never been very good at delayed gratification, though Patrick has certainly helped him see the good that can come from waiting.

“As much as I’m sure I’ll appreciate whatever this surprise is, I was really hoping to change before this dinner you seem to have planned for us.”

Patrick nudges the last fork into place and goes to pick up something from the sofa, returning to press David’s overnight bag into his arms. “Your husband requests that you wear this for dinner.”

That certainly piques David’s interests, and he reaches for the zipper.

“No peeking,” Patrick chastises, nudging him toward the bathroom. Part of him wants to be stubborn about it—Patrick likes him when he’s stubborn after all—but curiosity wins out and he retreats to the bathroom with his bag and one last look at his scheming, smirking husband.

His husband who must have involved Stevie in whatever it is he has planned, seeing as the bag contains a selection of clothing David knows were definitely in storage at the motel last time he saw them and not here at their apartment. He’s impressed though with the choices that Patrick’s made—a pair of patterned dress pants with a simple black sweater, woven through with hints of silver thread to give it the slightest shimmer, and a pair of shiny, patent leather boots David usually only breaks out for special occasions. His curiosity at what’s behind the curtain only grows, and he gets dressed as quickly as he can manage, lifting his hair back into place and spritzing on a little cologne, and opens the door with the kind of excitement better reserved for a kid expecting to find Santa waiting on the other side.

Instead, he finds his husband leaning casually against the back of the sofa, his head turning toward the bathroom as David steps out. Deep, midnight blue fabric stretches deliciously across his broad shoulders, and the delectable line of his neck disappears behind the collar of the blazer and a crisp, white shirt. David walks around to get a better look at the pair of grey, wool trousers wrapped around his husband’s hips and thighs, and with his hands in his pockets, his legs crossed at the ankles, Patrick looks far more effortlessly cool and beautiful than he has any right to.

The sight makes David’s throat go dry, leaving him with a feeling of deja vu, the same bolt of desire flashing through him as there’d been two days ago when he and Alexis had stepped out into town hall and he’d gotten his first look at his husband waiting for him at the front of the room. The same rush of heat as when he’d stepped into Cafe Tropical to find Patrick waving at him from a booth, wrapped in a blazer that made him look like the birthday gift sitting on the table. David had wanted desperately to unwrap both of them that night, an impulse he still feels every time he looks at this incredible man who’d somehow decided to marry him.

“Hi,” he chokes out when he finally catches his breath. “You look very nice.”

“I think that’s my line,” Patrick says, standing to draw David in for a sweet brush of a kiss. “Are you hungry?”

David pushes back just enough to give his gaze room to rake up and down the length of his husband’s body. “Starving.”

“Later,” Patrick promises with another kiss before leading him to the table, now lit up with candles, two plates covered with silver cloches waiting for them. He pulls out David’s chair, and David takes the opportunity to sweep another kiss across his lips before he sits.

“If this is what’s going to happen on your afternoons off, maybe I’ll just start sending you home early every day,” David teases as Patrick settles in across from him with a laugh.

“No, I think this is more of a one time deal.”

“And what is this exactly?” David is itching to pull the cloche off of his plate, but he does his best to smother the impulse a bit longer.

“This,” Patrick says, “is our honeymoon.” The smile he gives David at the pronouncement is the softest thing he’s ever seen, and David is not going to cry right here at the table.

He’s not.

“I know we can’t get out and travel the world right now,” Patrick adds, “but I thought maybe I could bring a little bit of the world to you.”

Okay, maybe he’s going to cry a little anyway, but he’s going to keep it together and not dissolve into a puddle on the floor the way he’s always tempted to when Patrick does something so perfectly Patrick. He dabs delicately at his cheeks with one of the cloth napkins from their registry. “Ugh,” he groans when his throat loosens enough for him to work the sound out of it, “you are such a sap.”

“So are you.”

“How dare you,” he feigns, though he knows the twist of his mouth gives him away. “So where are we going, or… I guess, where’s coming to us?”

“Well, I thought we’d start,” Patrick says, giving the sentence a pause so dramatic that David has to roll his eyes, “in Mexico.” He reaches across to pull the cloche from David’s plate with a flourish worthy of an over-committed, child’s birthday party magician—god, David loves him—to reveal a pile of chips and a little dip bowl full of salsa. With another flourish, he pulls a towel from a glass pitcher, revealing margaritas so electric green in color they could only have been made from a mix.

Maybe it’s because Patrick had broken out actual linens or because they’re both dressed to the nines or because Patrick is a ridiculous romantic who never stops trying to impress him, but David had expected.... well, something more. Fancy catering or something sentimental perhaps, not what appears to be the same store-bought, mediocre fare Stevie had brought to the last Schitt’s Creek Business Association potluck.

But when Patrick pours them each a champagne glass full of neon sugar and holds his pinkies exaggeratedly out as he attempts to use a knife and fork to delicately cut into a tortilla chip (which of course just cracks in two at the first press of metal), David gets it. He gets it, and he laughs delightedly at his absolute lunatic of a husband as he digs in.

Because this is what they do. Because everyday, ordinary things become the height of romance when they’re shared between them, and as much as David wants them to do extraordinary things together, too, he suddenly can’t picture a more perfect honeymoon than this night in at home with his husband, eating chips and salsa that Patrick undoubtedly bought on a two-for-one special at Brebner’s this afternoon.

They chat about David’s afternoon at the store and the conversation Patrick had with Jocelyn about what shows she’s considering for the community theatre this winter and what they should do with the three identical toasters they got as wedding gifts. They ogle each other openly, and they hold hands across the table while tangling their feet together beneath it. And when they finish their Mexican adventure, they move on to Italy (a double-cheese pizza from Panucci’s, kept warm in the oven) and eventually Japan (strawberry mochi pulled straight from the Brebner’s branded box in the freezer).

“So do I get to actually get my husband naked on this honeymoon, or…?” David asks, tipsy on tequila and the intoxicating pink of Patrick’s mouth smirking back at him.

“I’m impressed you waited this long to ask.”

“I know. I’m practically a saint.”

“I don’t think I’d go quite that far,” Patrick replies as David’s gaze dips once again to the exposed vee of creamy skin between the undone buttons of his shirt collar. It’s ridiculous, he knows, that he can still get this worked up over the barest glimpse of Patrick’s collarbones, but neither of them seems to have any complaints about it. “But we’ve got one more stop on this tour.”

He pushes himself to his feet and holds out a hand to encourage David to do the same, tangling their fingers together and dragging him into a lush kiss as soon as he’s upright. The plush softness of his lips and the hot sweep of his tongue only ratchets up the anticipation that’s been building in David’s belly all through dinner, and when he nips at David’s bottom lip as he pulls away, he almost drops to his knees right here, “one more stop” be damned.

Patrick gives him a knowing look, pressing a barely-there kiss to the corner of David’s mouth, in the precise spot he knows leaves David tingling and breathless every single time, and he leads them toward the curtain strung up across the width of the apartment.

“Close your eyes,” he requests, and after a suspicious squint just for good measure, David does as he asks and lets Patrick lead him through the curtain, pulling him over toward the wardrobe where a floor lamp usually stands.

It’s warmer here on the other side of the curtain, significantly so, and David realizes that the hum he’s been hearing all night must be a space heater. Patrick gives his hand a squeeze before slipping free, leaving him there in the dark and the heat, to take in what else he can without opening his eyes. The air here smells different, saltier, like— The sound of waves rises up around him suddenly, water gently crashing against a shore, and David’s mouth stretches into a smile. He can nearly feel the breeze on his face, or… Or maybe he can actually. And he can picture it then, a white stretch of hot sand somewhere, met by wide, cool, crystal blue. Bora Bora maybe. Or Seychelles. Anguilla.

“Okay,” says Patrick’s voice close beside him again, and David can hear his nerves in it, the way those four little letters betray how much he wants David to like whatever it is he’s planned. “You can open your eyes now.”

He lets himself savor it just a minute longer, the feeling of anticipation buzzing along his veins, and when he finally opens his eyes, the buzzing only grows. The grey curtains that normally cover the windows on either side of the bed have been replaced by white ones, a warm light pointed up behind each one to make them glow like they would in the tropical sun, both of them billowing gently in the breeze of oscillating fans. There are electric candles scattered all across the desk and wardrobe. A bottle of coconut massage oil on the table on David’s side. Champagne in a makeshift ice bucket on the chair. New, crisp white sheets stretched across the bed.

His gaze catches on something else, a shelf above the bed where two framed photos normally hang. On the shelf is a projector, the lens lit up as it casts light back toward the curtain. David only spares a moment to wonder where it came from before he follows the direction of the light, turning to watch the video being projected. It only takes a few seconds until he gasps.

“Is that—”

“Yeah,” Patrick answers, casual like he isn’t in the process of turning David inside out. His hand slips into the small of David’s back, bolstering him in small, sure strokes, as together they watch the video cut between flyovers of rice terraces and temples, waterfalls and steeply cliffed shores, the lush emerald of the island mixing with the deep turquoise waters surrounding it.

Bali. The last stop on their world tour is Bali.

“How did— You— How?” he so eloquently asks, and Patrick shrugs.

“Stevie said your dad mentioned it. About you wanting to get married there. I know it’s not— It’s not the same, but. I thought you might like it.”

“Like it?!” David chokes out around the fist that has suddenly balled itself up in his throat. And oh fuck, now he actually is going to cry, not delicate, graceful tears like he had managed to hold himself to at the table, but big, ugly ones instead, the only kind that can possibly bear the weight of all this happiness sloshing around inside him. “Fuck, Patrick, you are…”

But he doesn’t have words for what his husband is, and he hopes he never will. He hopes that Patrick will always be this impossible, incredible thing and that David’s love for him will always be too big to get the full picture of.

He crashes into him instead, messy but determined, and pushes him back onto the bed to show him all the things he can’t say.

 

And when they’re done, lying slick and sticky together, watching waves crash against the Balinese shore, Patrick presses a kiss to the crown of his head and says, “I can’t wait to see the world with you, David.”

David can’t wait either, but in this moment, there’s nowhere else in the world he’d rather be.