It says something about his fucking luck that three days after a hurricane is supposed to hit New York City, his lease runs out.
He and Alexis had intended on staying, but given the almost-certainty of their basement apartment flooding in the middle of a hurricane, they had started frantically looking for a new place. Which, of course, was impossible, given that they had days at most left. Moving their stuff would take even longer.
The wind was already picking up, and everything was shutting down. All flights out of the city had been sold out instantly, and anything else had been grounded. They couldn’t even manage to rent a car, and certainly no longer had the means to bribe anyone for theirs.
Their parents had been desperately making calls from L.A., trying to find some old acquaintance with a car or at least a couch they could stay on while their entire apartment took on water, but to no avail. If the last year in New York hadn’t reminded David how unfeeling his old life had been, this had certainly cemented it. They couldn’t even book a hotel, every room in the city had been snatched up. Even Alexis, who could get them out of any bad situation, couldn’t find a way out of this.
And so they’ve spent the last day waiting for hours in line to get whatever leftover cans of picked-over vegetables and tuna they can find and filling up every empty container they own with drinking water that they hope will sustain them over the coming days, if their entire apartment doesn’t totally flood. Alexis packs up their favourite items and tries to shove suitcases into whatever high-up locations she can manage while David boards up their windows, leaving holes in the drywall that their asshole of a landlord will undoubtedly take out of their damage deposit.
Not for the first time, David finds himself desperately wishing he’d stayed in Schitt’s Creek.
When they’d finally gotten out and settled on moving to New York (and later, for his parents, L.A.), he had hesitated. He knew, deep down, that New York would hold nothing for him. That even the promise of starting to expand Rose Apothecary didn’t mean he had to move to the city. He could have done that anywhere. But the thought of staying any longer by Patrick’s side every day at the store, knowing that he had managed to fuck up the best thing that had ever happened to him…it was agony. He couldn’t take it.
And so he’d left Patrick, left the store, left Stevie….left the only place where against all odds, he had well and truly thrived, had honestly and openly been accepted. Maybe even loved.
He’d spent the last year trying to expand the business, which was basically just a lot of phone calls and emails and everything that he hated, and tried not to think of how much he had loved visiting vendors and finding new products. He missed telling customers what would work for their skin and seeing them a month later, acne cleared up and eager to repurchase the items he’d suggested. He missed attending local markets and fairs and seeing the face of some local craftsperson light up when he told them that their small hobby was fantastic and he wanted to sell their stuff at the store.
While Alexis had flourished in New York, he only saw himself sink into the person he had been all those years ago. Only it was worse, now, because he knew what a shallow, empty existence it was. There was no room for blissful ignorance when he knew now what that sort of happiness felt like.
Alexis sighs, jumping down from where she had slotted a hastily-gathered bag of shoes on top of the kitchen cabinet. “I just lost cell service.”
“How do you not have service? It’s New York City!” He tugs his own phone out of his pocket, but there’s nothing. She was right. Not that they had been planning on being able to use them for much longer, given the possibility of flooding ruining any chance they’d have to charge anything electronic, but this had come sooner than expected. Sooner than he could prepare for. “Okay, this is all starting to feel like the beginning of an apocalypse movie.”
“A non-crow-related apocalypse?” Alexis offers tightly.
He snorts, standing back to assess his handiwork. They’d done it to keep any wind-blown object from crashing through their windows, but now he was having visions of water flooding the apartment and their means of escape boarded up.
“David…” Alexis says, a waver in her voice that makes him panic. Alexis is always the calm one, he doesn’t have the capacity to be strong for the both of them. “I’m scared.”
“I know. Me too,” he confesses. It’s not a comfort, but it’s all he can manage. “We’ll just…do what we can.”
The wind picks up even more as the night draws to a close, howling so badly that he knows he’ll never be able to sleep. Besides going out and trying to stock up on more food and water tomorrow, there isn’t anything else to do but wait.
It’s nearly two in the morning when the doorbell goes off. It’s more like a horrible, obnoxious buzzing that would have pissed him off if he hadn’t already been awake (it still pisses him off).
When he emerges from his bedroom, Alexis is just coming out of hers, her eye mask pushed up onto her forehead, a nervous expression on her face.
“Is somebody trying to break in?”
“You think robbers are going to ring the doorbell first?” he snaps back, because sarcasm is easier than showing real fear.
Alexis glares at him. “Or they’re waiting for us to answer the door and then they’ll like…drag us out and taking our place for shelter!”
“I think someone doing that would pick a better place than a basement apartment in Brooklyn!” Would they? He absolutely isn’t sure about that.
Alexis shifts nervously. “It’s your turn to get murdered first.”
“It’s your turn to get murdered first!” he cries, the familiar banter easing his panic, if only just a bit.
Still, he grabs the only weapon he can find, an empty bottle of wine, and creeps up the narrow entryway steps, Alexis on his heels, clutching at his shoulder.
The element of surprise, he hopes, will work on his side, though it causes some awkward shuffling because the door swings open into the stairwell. Still, he backs down a few steps and then flings it open, brandishing the bottle like a bat, Alexis cowering behind him.
The figure in the doorway lurches back in surprise but, upon catching sight of David, lifts his hands to his face and pulls down the hood of the ugly blue windbreaker he’s wearing.
“Patrick?!” Alexis cries and, when David is too stunned to move, bullies her way past him to fling herself into his arms.
She’s still in her pajamas and slippers, and so Patrick walks them both out of the wind and rain with his arms still around her, backing David even further down the stairs until he can grope around for the door and shove it closed. His eyes focus on David over Alexis’ shoulder, and David can’t bring himself to look away. He’s not hallucinating, then. Patrick Brewer is here, in New York City of all places, looking pale and exhausted but very much real.
“How are you here?” Alexis asks for them both, pulling away from him at last. She takes him by the sleeve and starts pulling him down the stairs, forcing David to stumble down the rest of the way to make room. Patrick’s eyes skim the apartment, and David feels inexplicably embarrassed as he takes in the bowls and vases full of water, the suitcases balanced between half-open doors and frames. “Are you stuck here, too?”
Patrick shakes his head, sending a few drops of water from his toque onto the floor. “No. No, I…I was watching the news, how bad it was getting. And I was…really worried about you two. And I finally tried calling David, but I didn’t get an answer. It wouldn’t even go through.”
As if David would have answered a call from Patrick even if it had come through.
“Everything’s down” Alexis explains. “We can’t even get service.”
Patrick nods, as though he’s already figured this out. Of course he has, he hasn’t been in the same black hole of information that New York has. “So I called your parents, and your dad said that he’d been trying to get you out of the city and couldn’t. That there were no flights, no cars. And that he was still trying to get someone to let you stay in their place in case the basement flooded. He just…he sounded really scared. And it scared me. So I just…got in my car and started driving.”
It feels like a punch to the gut, that casual way Patrick says it. He almost seems...embarrassed. Embarrassed for putting in such an effort, would such a thing even be possible? “Started driving? You drove all the way here? From Schitt’s Creek?!”
“I just…I wasn’t even sure if you were still here, if you’d managed to find a place to stay. But I knew your address and I just…had to try.”
“Try?” David repeats, breathless. He knows there are tears in his eyes, and Patrick’s own watery expression isn’t helping.
Infuriatingly, Patrick only blinks at him with his wide, soft eyes. “Try to get you out. I’ve got my car, we’ll bring whatever we can fit and you can…stay in Schitt’s Creek, until the storm is over. Traffic out of the city is backed up for hours, but if we leave now we’ll still have lots of time before the storm hits. If that’s…if you want to come with me.”
Luckily, the sob David lets out is matched by Alexis, who throws her arms around Patrick’s neck again. “You drove all this way into an oncoming hurricane just to get to us, and you weren’t even sure you would find us here?”
“I had to try,” Patrick says again, as if this isn’t the most selfless act of compassion David has ever experienced.
Alexis releases him again, wiping at her eyes, and Patrick turns his attention over her shoulder, looking at him with that same wounded expression he’d come to know so well since their split. “David?”
“Yes. Please,” he manages, voice thick and hoarse.
Patrick has borrowed an SUV from Bob, they discover, and between that and the pre-New York clothing purge, they fit an impressive amount of their items into the trunk and backseat, only competing for space with the emergency gas cans Patrick had brilliantly thought to bring, should they be stranded on the highway for hours.
“My car can’t even survive potholes, let alone a hurricane,” Patrick jokes as he squeezes the last of their bags into the back seat. “Besides, I knew I’d need the extra space for two Rose closets, so luckily Bob had an SUV at his garage. Said I could have anything I needed, if I brought you two home safe.”
So not only had he driven through the night to rescue them, but he thought to prep for their excessive luggage, first. And David had ended things with this man, felt hiding a past relationship he wasn’t willing to confront was a break-up-able offence. If he hadn’t regretted it the moment they’d split and every moment since, he absolutely felt it now.
As if Rachel had posed any threat to him. As if Patrick's hiding of their relationship was any indication of his lingering feelings for her. The second she showed up, Patrick began a different person. His soft eyes and easy smile hardened. He sat up straighter, his eyes narrowed. A shadow of his former self. No wonder Rachel had sounded so disbelieving. If David had known the rigid, uneasy Patrick first, he wouldn't believe that the Patrick of Schitt's Creek was the same man. Relaxed, easy, jovial.
This all, of course, gets driven home all the more when Patrick tells him there are sandwiches shoved into the glove compartment, if they’re hungry. “God knows what kind of state they’re in, just a warning.”
Alexis shoots David a knowing look when he jumps into the backseat, but for once in her life doesn’t take the opportunity to tease him. She climbs wordlessly into the front seat while Patrick settles into the driver’s side, adjusting his mirrors and then letting out a relieved sigh. Like despite the circumstances, all is right in the world with David and Alexis safe and sound in his car. “Well," he says, flashing a smile at Alexis and then over his shoulder at David. "Ready to get out of here?”
When David wakes, it takes him a long, disorienting moment to figure out where he is, and how he got into a bedroom that’s nearly the size of their entire New York apartment.
Fighting through the traffic of people fleeing the city had extended their trip by hours, and by the time they made it back to Schitt’s Creek, they were all so tired they could barely function. David vaguely remembers staggering up a flight of stairs and falling into bed, though it’s vague memory at best.
This isn’t Patrick’s old place (there's no horrid floral wallpaper or brass fixtures that would mark Ray's presence), but the sensible furniture in neutral colours screams ‘Patrick Brewer’ in a way that makes his heart ache. He certainly never thought he’d be waking up in Patrick’s bed again.
The sheets next to him are rumbled and slept-in, and for a moment his heart leaps at the thought that he’d slept next to Patrick last night. But he’s pretty sure he remembers seeing the back of Alexis’ braided hair as he drifted off last night, too exhausted to be put-out at having to share with his sister. At least the heat has leached out of the sheets next to him, a sure sign that she's been up for some time.
Where Patrick had been in all of this, he couldn’t recall. It was like having a hangover, only without the splitting headache to distract him from the fact that he can’t remember what happened last night.
When he emerges from the bedroom, he’s met with an unfamiliar hallway, though floating through the house is the sound of familiar voices that draws him forward and down a flight of stairs with a solid wooden railing so beautiful and well-crafted there’s no way it was made any time in the last fifty years.
It all feels a bit nauseatingly Wizard-of-Oz, waking up in a place that he's never been (or at least was so exhausted when he arrived that he couldn't recall a thing). He's here, in what can only be Patrick's home, a man who continues to play such a huge part of his life but whose life remains so untouched by David. Patrick lives here, spends every day here, plays his guitar and eats dinner and watches hockey games here. It's an entire section of his life that David doesn't inhabit.
When he rounds the corner, he finds Alexis sitting at a kitchen table, still in her pajamas and scrolling through her phone. Next to the little dining space is a surprisingly spacious living room with a worn but strong-boned brick fireplace, the sofa shrouded with a deflated pillow and twisted sheets. Had Patrick slept here last night and given him and Alexis his bed? The floorboards under him creak and Alexis lifts her head, smiling widely at him, the fear of the last two days gone from her face. “He lives!”
“It is way too early for you to be this chipper.”
“It’s like 7:00pm, David, you slept for hours,” she protests.
It’s then that Patrick emerges from the kitchen, looking heart-wrenchingly domestic in his pajamas and bare feet. He gives David a hesitant smile as he sets a mug in front of Alexis, clutching one of his own. David recognizes the mugs, the hand-crafted ones he’s seen so many times in the shop. Perhaps, even though David has never stepped foot in Patrick's home, his presence is here all the same.
“You’re up! I was going to order dinner but I thought for old time’s sake you guys might want to go to the café, if you weren’t still too tired.”
“Oh my god, yum!” Alexis chirps, and David feels his head swim. It all feels too normal, too quickly. A year of loneliness and heartbreak, two days of fear that they weren’t going to survive the storm, and now they’re talking about getting dinner at the café like they’ve never left, like the last year hasn’t happened.
“What…where are we?” David asks, instead of dinner sounds great or thank you for dropping everything to save our lives. “I don’t...getting here was kind of a blur.” Between the increasing panic attacks and raging winds, he hadn’t slept properly in days.
Patrick gets that strange, sheepish look on his face again. “Um, my place. I bought it in the spring, moved in a couple of months ago. I know it's pretty sparse in here, I haven't really bought much for furniture, yet. I probably should have…taken you to the motel or something, so at least you would have had your own beds, but we were all so exhausted and I didn’t want to deal with driving the extra distance and hoping Stevie had a room available. Just thought this was easier for the night.”
Stevie. Stevie was here. Stevie was here and Patrick was here and the Café Tropical was here with its way-too-large menu and way-too-friendly customers. He’s missed all of it so much that he barely refrains from bursting into tears.
“Considering we were expecting to be sleeping in a flooded basement during a hurricane, you literally could have made us sleep on the porch last night and I would have been super happy about it,” Alexis replies for him. "Even if I had to share a bed with David's octopus limbs."
Patrick would know just what that's like, sharing his bed. That he was a cuddler.
It’s then that Alexis’ phone starts to vibrate, and she makes a bright noise of interest, waving him over. “David! It’s Dad. Poor thing is going to try and FaceTime.”
Patrick must have let him know that Alexis and David were safe and sound, because he doesn’t seem all that surprised to hear that they’re back in Schitt’s Creek. But Johnny tears up all the same, and David finds himself fighting back emotion, too. Neither of them would ever admit it, but he suspects they both had truly thought they’d never hear one another’s voices again.
Moira, no surprise, can’t join the call because she’s on set. But unlike all of the times in their childhoods where they’d been all but forgotten, Johnny tells them that he has strict instructions to call her as soon as he hears from them to tell her that they’re okay, and that the production team has been informed that she’s to be interrupted mid-take if necessary to hear the news of their safe arrival.
And they are okay, they assure him. They’ve slept most of the day, and are heading out after this to have dinner at the café. Patrick is taking very good care of them. They promise that they’ll give Twyla his best.
He asks after Patrick, who pokes his head into the frame to say hello, David trying not to tense as he feels the warmth of his body behind him. Johnny thanks him for bringing back his kids, for doing the near-impossible to keep them both safe, and Patrick just shakes his head and assures him it was a town effort. Bob lent him the SUV, Roland and Jocelyn had piled spare cans of gas into the backseat, Ray had given him a fully-stocked first-aid kit he had lying around from the last time he taught an emergency-response training course. Twyla had packed him sandwiches to take for the long journey home. Even Ronnie had helped install a roof-rack to the vehicle for the extra luggage.
“She made it very clear that she was only doing it for David and Alexis,” he laughs.
David is once again overwhelmed by the care and undeserving lack of judgement this town has shown his family over the years. Even when David had jumped ship and left them all behind for an empty, meaningless life in New York, they had helped stage a rescue mission to bring them back from the brink.
“Schitt’s Creek,” Johnny rasps, shaking his head fondly. “That town has more than paid for itself in giving our family refuge in our times of need.”
They bid him farewell, David’s heart resting a bit easier after knowing his parents had been so worried. Cared so much.
“I’m literally starving,” Alexis announces, hugging her phone to her chest one last time before rising. “I would even eat the Tropical Meatloaf Surprise.”
“I didn’t drive to New York for you to kill yourself with food poisoning,” Patrick jokes, and Alexis grins at him, reaching out to tap the end of his nose.
“Just let me see if I can find something decent in one of my suitcases and then I’m good to go.”
And he’s left alone with Patrick, the two of them hovering in opposite doorways as though unsure what they might do if they get any closer. “You okay?” Patrick asks him, expression soft and concerned.
No, he wants to shout, none of this is okay. “Yeah. I’m fine. I’m just going to…”
And like usual, David turns on his heel and flees.
If waking up in Patrick’s bed was disorienting, turning around on his way out the door to discover that Patrick’s new house is the Kate Winslet cottage he’d commented on so long ago is like a knife to the heart.
He must looked at least partially as wrecked as he feels, because Patrick shrugs uncomfortably and says, “the couple that lived here moved to Florida and were looking to sell.”
David wonders if his own love of the little house had been a selling feature or a deterrent, when Patrick had been looking for places.
When they get to the café, it was as though they were celebrities instead of former and barely-tolerated residents. Twyla gasps and rushes across the restaurant to throw her arms around them both, and half the diners stand to come over and tell them how worried they had been, how relieved that they were that they’re alright, that the whole town has been watching the news and holding their breaths for their safety.
By the time they actually get to a table, David is so hungry he’s more irritated than incredibly touched, though it doesn’t last long after Twyla brings over their Sunday-night favourites without them even having to ask. A whole year without so much of a visit, and David still feels like he’s somehow in the blood of this town, like he’s fallen right back in from where he left. He’s never left a mark like this anywhere, and it’s strangely humbling.
“It’s like a little greeting committee,” Alexis coos, in far too good of a mood for his taste. “They’re way nicer to us now than they were when we lived here, I think.”
“It’s actually kind of unnerving,” he agrees, ignoring Patrick as he chuckles to himself. Still one of the few people to be genuinely amused of the Rose family antics instead of irritated. It was something he had truly adored about his relationship with Patrick, that he never felt merely tolerated, even at his most ridiculous…but he wouldn’t let himself go down that path. “Why are they being so nice?”
“Does telling you that you look like shit make you feel better? Because you do.” Stevie appears out of no where as she always does, smirking at him from across the table like he hasn't seen her in a few hours, not a few months. “Patrick texted. Mind if I join?”
He’ll deny it later, but the sight of her makes him leap out of his seat and throw his arms around her, trying desperately not to cry. Fuck, he had missed her. She’d visited once while on business in New York, and it had felt stilted and awkward. David wasn’t himself when he was there, and he was all too aware that Stevie knew it, too.
But they were here, now. Safe and sound, it a place where Twyla had memorized their orders and everyone actually cared if he lived or died.
Stevie teases him about it, of course, as she slips into the seat beside him, and it’s like one more piece of his former self has clicked into place. They laugh and bicker and trade barbs, the tension between himself and Patrick falling away and the final nightmare of New York a distant memory. They were just happy. David was happy.
Being near Patrick after their break-up had felt difficult, too difficult to stay, but he knew as soon as he’d left that it was a mistake. Working every day at Patrick's side when he’d let the best man he’d ever known slip through his fingers may have felt unbearable, but being without him was a thousand times harder. Sitting across from his snarky comments and easy laughter now, he felt more right than he’d felt in a very long time.
But David is a coward, and when Alexis and Patrick get up to use the bathroom, he immediately turns his attention to Stevie, trying as best he can to sound sincere. “Can I stay at your place while I’m here? Patrick doesn’t have a mattress in his guest room set up.”
“Of course he doesn’t. What is he? Bill Gates?” Stevie quips, eyes lighting up like they do every time she’s said something clever.
David huffs. “I know you think you’re funny, but Patrick had to sleep on the couch last night and given the fact that he literally drove through a hurricane to rescue us, I don’t want him to have to do that again.”
“Ah. So you sleeping at my place is entirely a kindness to Patrick and has nothing to do with you being a coward and trying to avoid him?”
There’s a beat of silence. “No.”
“Sorry, no room for you at my place.”
“Then I’ll just stay at the motel.”
“Sorry again, all booked for the next week.”
“Is it actually?”
Stevie snorts. “I think you need to stay where you are, at least for the night, and have a real conversation with Patrick. Because you two were miserable after you split up, but David, he’s been a wreck since you left. And he’s Patrick, so he doesn’t show it, but I know him. And I know you, and you haven’t had an easier time with it. So get your shit together and talk it out. And if you need a place to stay tomorrow night, we’ll discuss it then.”
“You’re the fucking worst.”
“Wow, I’m so glad you didn’t die in a natural disaster,” she says dryly, but Patrick is returning to his seat and they’re forced to clam up.
Alexis is either in on the plan or scheming herself (or maybe it’s just completely a coincidence), because she informs them all that Twyla has offered to let her crash on her couch while she’s in town. And so once Alexis digs through her suitcases and throws a few things in a bag, she’s gone, leaving David and Patrick to hover uncomfortably in the empty living room. Awkward and unsure.
Eventually, David escapes to the back porch (because of course Patrick has a beautiful porch overlooking a cute little garden and a well-maintained yard). While they were well out of reach of the hurricane, the entire Eastern coast had seemingly not escaped unscathed. By the time David has changed into a more comfortable pair of joggers and a sweatshirt, it’s raining so heavily that the water is coming down in heavy sheets, thundering off of the roof of Patrick’s cottage.
There was normally something so relaxing about rainfall, but now, having barely escaped his own likely death at the hands of the weather and curled up on the porch swing at his ex-boyfriend’s beautiful home, it all feels more suffocating than calming.
The heavy screen door hisses beside him, and then Patrick is there, settling onto the porch swing to his left and handing him an oversized mug of tea, the steam rising and curling hypnotically.
“You should take the bed tonight,” David says for lack of a better topic of conversation. “You’ve…you probably saved our lives, Patrick, you shouldn’t have to…I’m not going to-“
“-it’s fine, take the bed.”
“-make you sleep on the sofa.”
“No, you should-“
“I can’t make you do that-“
There’s a long moment of painful silence.
“David. Take the bed.”
He clears his throat. “I shouldn’t.”
“I want you to. You’re…a guest, here.”
He isn’t sure why that wording in particular hurts so much. He is, technically, a guest, but he didn’t used to feel like one, in Patrick’s home. It’s not as though they haven’t talked in the last year. They’re still running a business together. They send plenty of emails back and forth, have telephone calls about work.
Always about work.
“Thank you. For the tea.”
“It’s actually a hot toddy. It’s got bourbon.”
He tries not to smile at that. “A hot toddy? What are you, eighty?”
“You don’t have to drink it-“
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t.”
That little smirk is back, that one that always comes after Patrick thinks he’s won a round of bickering. It shouldn’t be so endearing, since David hates to lose.
And the silence shouldn’t be so comfortable. It should be endlessly awkward, and he should be squirming to get away. But Patrick’s presence, vocal or not, has always been a balm, and at his side with a hot, alcoholic beverage makes even the rain seem less threatening.
“I don’t think I ever thanked you,” David says at last, cradling the warm mug to his chest. The mug handcrafted by a local vendor, sold at the store that he and Patrick had built with their own two hands. “For what you did.”
He’d been avoiding thinking about it all day, all year, ignoring the tendrils of hurt that came with the thought of Patrick. With the thought that he’d messed this all up.
After Rachel had appeared, David had spiralled. Patrick was keeping secrets. Patrick had hidden his ex-fiancée wanting to get back together with him. And all of the lies and secrets from his past doomed relationships had bubbled up to the surface. And David, stupidly, had asked for space. And Patrick had given it to him, which had turned his precarious position into an all-out freefall, being alone with his thoughts.
And so he had fled like a coward. He had refused to take a risk, too afraid to have his heart broken again, but it had broken anyways. Because Patrick was sitting next to him, relaxed from the steady drumbeat of the rain and the bite of bourbon. He’d bought David dinner. Had driven into a storm to rescue him and Alexis without a second thought.
Even with the hidden fiancée, even though they weren’t together, no one had ever treated David as well as Patrick had.
“You don’t need to thank me,” Patrick murmurs, gaze focused pointedly at his well-manicured yard, watching his peonies get battered by the storm.
David can barely manage, “I really do. What you did-“
“No. You don’t. You could have…you could have complained the whole way back to Schitt’s Creek and taken your bags to Stevie’s the second we got here and it wouldn’t have made a difference. When your dad told me you were stuck in New York and couldn’t get out…I’ve never been so scared in my life. I could have lost you. I know you’re already kind of lost to me, after what I did, but to really lose you…” He clears his throat, suddenly hoarse. “Sorry. I shouldn’t…dwell. We just…weren’t meant for each other, in the end.”
How could he not be meant for one another? Nothing had ever felt more right than what they’d had. If Patrick wasn’t meant for David, than nothing, no one, was.
“I’m grateful,” he says, struggling for words that will allow him to keep his dignity. “I’ll always be grateful, for what you did.’
“I don’t think you really understand what I would do for you, David.”
What would he do for Patrick? What had he done for Patrick? Fled. At the first sign of trouble. Patrick had embraced David’s own (many) flaws and imperfections and he’d been unable, unwilling, to do the same. The revelation is like a knife to the gut.
It’s all he can do to blink back tears. He seems to be always on the verge of it, these days. “I’m not…lost to you.”
Patrick laughs, humourless and tired. “You are. In the way I want you, at least. If you owe me a ‘thank you,’ then I owe you an apology. With Rachel…I was so scared of telling you, of losing you, that I…I tried to hide it. I thought it would go away and it wouldn’t effect what we had. I was afraid to lose you, and I lost you anyway. I wanted you to feel like you could trust me, and I…betrayed your trust. I proved you right, that I was just like everyone else you’d dated.”
“That isn’t true,” he protests, because it’s not. Sebastian Raine hadn’t even been willing to make a ten-block trip to a bar to celebrate David’s birthday with him, let alone stage an out-of-country rescue mission.
Patrick shakes his head. “It is. I didn’t deserve you, either.”
Fuck, that one hurts. As if Patrick fucking Brewer didn’t deserve the best things in life. Didn’t deserve a boyfriend who would have listened to him, would have heard him out instead of just trying to protect himself and running at the first sign of trouble.
“You deserve…far, far better than me,” David laughs, because what else there to do? Besides break down and cry, of course, but that was for solitude. He’d spent plenty of time crying over Patrick, why stop now? “You deserve someone who won’t…run away in self-preservation instead of taking a risk. You drove all the way to New York City just to keep me safe and I was too afraid to even…offer an olive branch after a fight. Believe me, you’re better off without me.”
“I’m miserable without you,” Patrick counters, and when David looks up he sees Patrick has done the same, staring at him so intently that he feels exposed despite the oversized hoodie. But it’s too late for this. They should have done this two years ago, not now. Not when they’ve both been hurting too long.
“I love you,” he croaks, and David’s breath catches in his throat. Patrick doesn’t move, doesn’t reach out, just continues gazing at David with soft, watering eyes. “I’ve loved you for two years. And you don’t need to say it back. You don’t need to say anything at all. But I kept secrets from you before and it ruined us. I just need you to know that…I’ve learned my lesson. I learned it too late, and I’ll never not regret that. You have your old life back, you’re back in New York, and I missed my chance. I know that. But I needed you to know how I feel about you. I needed you to know that you are…so loved, David.”
“We were only dating for four months,” David manages, as though he hadn’t spent the last two years consumed by the loss of him, grieving what could only be described as some of his happiest moments.
Patrick only shakes his head. “I know. But I stood beside you every day in that store for a year afterwards, until you left. And all of those reasons that I fell for you in the first place didn’t go away. And I thought that I’d gotten to a point where thinking about you didn’t rip my heart out, I really did. But going to New York, the second you opened that door and I saw you there…it all came back.”
He knew the feeling. He had tried to bury himself in faux-busyness and work, but that had evaporated the moment Patrick had appeared on his step. They may have only been dating four months, but David had thought about Patrick every single day since.
“What am I supposed to say?” he asks, and truly means it. He wants Patrick, someone, anyone, to tell him how to fix it. How to erase the last year of their lives so he could choose Patrick over fleeing to New York.
Patrick takes a shuddering breath in. “Anything. Tell me I don’t have a chance and I’ll never bother you again. I just...had to try.”
It’s too scary and too much and too Big, the idea of jumping off that ledge again and hoping that things might work out this time, that Patrick will be there to catch him.
“Tell me, David,” Patrick says again, no longer an offer but a plea. It’s clear, then, that he could end this. He could put a nail in this coffin and know once and for all that it’s over. Could maybe, finally, move on.
David lurches across the small space between them, hot water sloshing over the rim of his forgotten mug and seeping into his joggers, but Patrick’s fingers are in his hair and David’s arms are around his neck, and it’s so much better than anything he’s imagined in the past two years because Patrick is here, warm and solid against him. It’s messy and desperate, tongues in each other’s mouths, hands wandering wherever they can reach, but without a doubt it’s the best kiss he’s ever had.
Everything in him is telling him to run, that this can only end badly, but he doesn’t care. He’d rather be heartbroken over what he had than what he never did.
Patrick’s beautiful garden and spacious yard is more than just aesthetically pleasing. It also happens to provide a relatively impressive distance between his home and the nearby neighbours, allowing Patrick to unselfconsciously climb onto David’s lap, gasping into his mouth as he settles his weight on top of him.
It’s intoxicating, the steady drum of the pouring rain and the sway of the porch with each movement they make, each grind of Patrick’s hips against his own, an unexpected intimacy out in the open air. The sheets of rain falling from the roof feel like walls around them. The once-suffocating presence of the storm now seemed like a barrier from the outside world, wrapping them up in a cocoon all of their own.
“Fuck,” he breathes, head falling back against the porch swing, hands steady on Patrick’s waist.
They end up in bed eventually, though sadly fully-clothed. When their phones jointly vibrate with breaking news, that a hurricane has swept the eastern American coast, David can feel the residual anxiety press on his lungs until Patrick takes both devices and sets them aside, leading him upstairs with a gentle hand.
They curl up on their sides on the mattress, hands clasped between their bodies, unable to come up with any words at all. David hasn’t realized this is something he’s missed, just staring at Patrick from across the pillow without needing to speak. Though now, there is something he wants to say.
“I love you,” he finally manages, pulling Patrick’s hand closer to him so he can press his lips against their entwined knuckles, feeling Patrick’s shaky breath against his skin. They may technically have only dated for a few months, but David has thought about him every day for the past two years. He’s never gotten over him, that much was clear. “I love you so much.”
“I love you,” he murmurs back, releasing David for as long as it takes to slide his fingers in the hair at the base of David’s neck and drag him in for a kiss. “I thought I’d lost you.”
“The break-up, you mean? Or the storm.”
Patrick squeezes his eyes shut. “Both, for a while. And then I got to New York and you looked so shocked to see me, I thought you might just tell me to turn around and go back.”
“I don’t know if I should be offended or flattered that you think I could reach a level of petty where I’d literally rather die than share a car with you.”
He’s pleased when Patrick manages to smile, so soft and gentle his heart twists in his chest. “Flattered, I think. Always flattered.”
“Mm. Well, for what it’s worth, I was glad Alexis threw herself into your arms. Because I was about half a second away from doing that, myself. I thought I was hallucinating when you showed up. It was a bit too much of a knight-in-shining-armour move.”
“Knight-in-sweats-and-a-college-hoodie?” Patrick offers instead with that familiar smirk that comes with every one of his jokes.
“That’s when I knew it was real. If you were a dream, I would have imagined you in a much better outfit.”
“Sorry to disappoint. I could decide on an appropriate outfit to drive into a hurricane, so I just went with whatever I had on.”
David tilts his head back and feigns despair. It’s far easier to act disappointed when Patrick’s not able to kiss him, because David can never resist and that just ruins all attempts at being dramatic. “Well, we’ll work on that. First things to go are those braided belts. I’ve been dreaming about lighting them on fire since we met.”
“Does leather light on fire?”
“Not to worry, we’ll find out. If not, I’m pretty sure Roland has a wood chipper.”
He waits for the inevitable Fargo joke, because Patrick is just the type to watch Coen brothers films, but it never comes. The mood has grown somber again, and for one horrible moment he fears that he’d actually offended Patrick with his fashion critiques. But Patrick only tucks his face into the crook of his neck, voice hesitant and soft. “Does that mean we’re…back together? If you’re putting in the effort to raid my wardrobe?”
‘Back together’ is so scary and finite. ‘Back together’ means that if things go south tomorrow morning, he can’t back out and dismiss all this as a bad idea.
The longer he struggles for words, the more he can feel Patrick tense in his arms, and now he’s panicking again because his inability to be vulnerable is once again going to wreck this. This is his last chance. Patrick isn’t going to open himself up to this kind of hurt again, and if he can’t learn to be vulnerable with Patrick, he won’t be able to make that leap with anyone.
“If you let me buy you a belt that isn’t from The Gap, then yes. We’ll get back together.”
Patrick lifts his head, and the watery smile stretched across his face is worth the fear of putting himself out there. “That belt is from Eddie Bauer, for the record.”
“I’m sorry, is that your attempt at a defence? Because it is not working.”
“Too late,” Patrick whispers in what is undoubtedly meant to be a teasing tone, if he weren’t so choked with emotion. “You already said yes.”
He should say something sweet, meaningful. Express how much he’s fantasized about just this since the moment they broke up. Instead, he murmurs, “you’ve ruined my expectations. You swooped in and saved me from a natural disaster when we weren’t even dating, now that we’re together you’re going to have to top that.”
“I’ll do my best,” Patrick vows with a soft smile so sincere it makes him squirm. He squeezes David’s hand and pulls it to his chest, right over his heart. “I’m going to take such good care of you, David Rose.”
“I’m here,” he says raggedly. Alive, with you. Because what else is there? “You already have.”
what do u know a room has mysteriously opened up at the motel, if u really do need 1 tonite, Stevie texts him that morning.
He should tell her to go fuck herself, leaving him in an awkward situation when she was more than capable of getting him out of it if she weren’t so busy pulling the strings of his life like a puppet master.
Instead, he sends her a sneaky photo of his feet tangled with Patrick’s from where they’re cuddled up together on his not-entirely-ugly recliner.
“Did you just take a picture of our feet?” Not so sneaky, after all.
“Um, yes. I’ve developed a foot fetish since I moved to New York?”
Patrick’s chest vibrates against David’s ear with the sound of his laughter, and the arm around him tightens just a bit as Patrick presses a kiss to the top of his head.
They’ve avoided the news, by David’s request. He’d read about the devastation of the hurricane eventually, and all of the damage it inflicted, heart breaking for everyone affected. Anyone who wasn’t quite so fortunate to have a Patrick Brewer in their lives. But reading about it now, so soon after they were almost caught in it…David knows it will send him into a panic attack. He needs a bit of time before the threat of it doesn’t feel so imminent, anymore. And curled up beside Patrick, he’s never felt so safe, or his fears so irrelevant.
It shouldn’t be this easy. It should be awkward and hard and painful. And maybe all of that is still to come, but David hadn’t expected to unselfconsciously press his body along Patrick’s back as he’d made them both pancakes for breakfast, or play footsies under the table while they ate, or Patrick to pull him into his lap when they went to watch a movie, the two of them crammed together into the recliner.
It all feels so wonderful and right that he’s mad that he didn’t let himself have this two years ago. They could have been happy and in love for all of this time if they hadn’t been so stupid and afraid. Maybe David would be living here with Patrick, picking out furniture and helping him refinish the floorboards instead of fleeing from a tiny basement apartment during an impending storm.
And maybe it will end poorly again, someday, but for the first time he lets himself think that maybe it will work out this time. And if it doesn’t, he’ll spend every moment until the end comes enjoying Patrick’s arms around him.
“Alexis might have a job in Toronto. She texted this morning. The Canadian branch of Interflix is hoping to expand, and since she’s made top tens out of the last three films they’ve given her to promote, they want her to be on the team. So…good thing she took everything with her when she left New York.” He tries to act casual as he says it, as if David had ever been described as ‘casual’ in his entire life. Nevertheless, he aims for nonchalant, setting his phone aside and creeping his hand under Patrick’s t-shirt, palm resting against his stomach.
“That’s amazing,” Patrick says, though his voice is a bit too steady and rehearsed. “So will you live alone, when you go back to New York?”
David clears his throat. “I’m…not really sure about New York. I moved there because she was going and it just…seemed like the thing to do. But now that Alexis is gone…”
Patrick’s voice is quieter, now, more hesitant. “Do you think that…you might be interested in moving to Toronto, too? I know I can’t…I have no right to ask you, but it would be…closer. I could…drive up there as often as I could, or you could visit here.”
“Um, no. No, I don’t think Toronto is really my scene.” He nearly backs out, saying anything more, but shoves the panic down. He’s done being afraid. “But there’s nothing for me in New York, either. Nothing I did there couldn’t be done anywhere else. So if you can stand having an in-store partner again, I think I might…like to come back here. To…Schitt’s Creek.”
“Don’t…” Patrick shifts, and David takes it as a sign to lift his head so they can do this face-to-face. “I don’t want you to do this for me. I don’t want you to give up-“
“I’m not giving up anything I’m not happy to lose,” David promises. “I shouldn’t have left in the first place. I miss our store. I miss you. I miss Stevie, and Twyla, and how god-awful the night life is and how everyone is annoyingly friendly. And I miss the vendors, and the farmer’s market and Jocelyn yelling ‘hi, boys!’ every single time she walks in the store even if we’re standing right in front of her and if you ever tell anyone I said that I will deny it.”
Patrick’s lips quiver like he’s trying to hold back a smile. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“I need you to tell me things, Patrick. Because you trying to hide things from me because you think they’ll scare me off isn’t going to work for me. It’s only going to make me paranoid.”
“I know.” Patrick leans forward to rest his forehead in the crook of David’s neck. “No more secrets. I betrayed your trust.”
“And I betrayed yours by running the second things got hard, just like you were afraid I would,” David confesses, the first time he’s able to admit it to even himself. Patrick may have lit the match, but they were both responsible for it all going up in flames. “If you can promise me that you won’t keep things from me, I promise that I won’t take off when we hit a bump in the road. I know it’s going to take a while until we can trust each other again, but I want to work at it.”
“I love you, David.” Those words make him week in the knees, were he not currently near-horizontal already. “And I do trust you. We’ll make it work.”
“I know we will,” he says. And for the first time, he truly believes it.