For one of their first dates, Patrick takes David to mini golf. It’s adorable and cliche in equal measure. It’s atrocious, really, from the lime green astroturf to the intermingled dinosaurs and woodland creatures. There are families and old people and other couples and this is basically a sport and really, Patrick couldn’t have chosen a date that’s less David. David doesn’t know if he’s allowed to complain about it. Patrick knows, of course, that David is ... particular, but he doesn’t want to scare Patrick off. Then again, maybe he should be full-force himself - extra extra - now, at the beginning, so that Patrick knows what he’s getting into.
But it also seems, David thinks, as Patrick holds the door open to the mini golf front office, like Patrick’s trying really hard. Even if he really missed the mark on this particular date, David doesn’t want to step on all his eagerness.
(His eagerness makes David squirm. He wishes Patrick would just tease him, would just be a little more annoying, a little less perfect. David doesn’t date people who are eager, who try too hard. Patrick tries so hard and it just makes David all the more aware of how much of a mistake Patrick is definitely making with him.)
After paying for a round of golf, they go to collect their balls and clubs. David hesitates before picking up a neon yellow ball.
“You can take the black one,” Patrick says at his shoulder. “I don’t mind.”
David’s lips twist despite his best intentions. “Believe me, this is not an aesthetic choice. Yellow will show up better if I hit into the water or one of the bushes or something.”
“Oh, so you have played mini golf before.” Patrick reaches past him to pluck the blue ball, obviously. It’d been a hot day and though it’s dusk now he’s wearing a heather grey t-shirt that David, upon seeing, had catalogued for all the possible places where sweat might accent Patrick’s muscles. Slow, David, jesus fuck, he reminds himself, tearing his eyes from Patrick’s bicep. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d have ever come near one of these places.”
“Okay, so you are aware how off-brand this whole experience is for me,” David says, before he can stop himself.
Patrick pauses in handing over a club and studies David’s face. “We can do something else, if you want. Go to a bar, or-”
And David says, “No, we’ve already paid,” when really he wants to say something else, something like thank you or this is nice or I’m so glad we’re doing this. They’re doing slow. That doesn’t feel slow to him.
They get to the first hole, a bit of green shaped like a spleen or something, and Patrick huffs in frustration. “Shit. I forgot the little paper and pencil - can you hold my stuff?”
David accepts the ball and club. “I would’ve thought you had one of your own. It seems like the only thing that would fit in those teeny tiny jean pockets of yours.”
Patrick, already walking backwards towards the office, asks, “Oh, have you been looking at my jeans?”
“Every chance I get,” David shoots back.
Patrick laughs and ducks his head and trots off. Meanwhile alarm bells are blaring in David's head to the tune of shit fuck that wasn’t slow at all.
He steps out of the way of the next few people who are queueing to start playing and finds a bench off to the side. Pulling out his phone, he texts Stevie.
iMessage: the girl from the ring
July 10 8:45PM
David: i can’t do this
David: i’m going to eff this up
David: if i haven’t already
Stevie: stop hiding in the bathroom and go back to your date
David: i’m not hiding in the bathroom
David: we are playing MINI GOLF
David: it’s so quaint and small town i think i want to vomit
David: i feel like i’m being wooed
Stevie: oh you’re definitely being wooed
David: maybe i should just run away before he gets back
David: he can probably handle the store on his own right
Stevie: you owe me so much for the advice i’m about to give you
Stevie: have you considered he’s just as nervous as you
David: absolutely not
David: he’s all swaggeringly confident as usual
Stevie: yes bc patrick prioritizes making other people comfortable so he acts cool and calm and collected to make other people comfortable
Stevie: meanwhile he’s probably legit freaking out about being on a date with the cute boy he likes
Stevie: cute being his word not mine
David: he called me cute? when did he call me cute?
“Hey,” Patrick says, jogging back up. It might just be the way the light falls on him, but there’s a little darkness in the center of his chest that David suspects is the start of pec sweat. Bless this t-shirt. “Everything okay?”
“Yes,” David lies, pocketing his phone and standing up. “Just Stevie.”
“Oh. Did you want to invite her? It wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Okay.” David shoves Patrick’s golfing equipment back at him, enjoying the way their hands connect and the way Patrick stumbles back a step with a chuckle. “Once was enough. I don’t need her on all of our dates, thanks so much.” But he thinks about what she’s just texted him and about all the times Patrick has thanked him and he adds, the words scratchy in his throat, “You’re the only one I want to be on these dates with.”
It’s too much, it’s far too much, but Patrick’s upper lip disappears into a pleased little smile and he shifts everything he’s carrying so that he can draw David in with one hand on David’s lower back, and they kiss gently despite the line forming behind them for the first hole. It’s the first time they’ve kissed since he got into Patrick’s car to come here, so that’s - that has to count for some slowness to balance out David’s emotional word vomit.
Patrick is some mix of Gene Kelly and Mike Weir, twirling his golf club like he’s about to do a dance number but also kneeling to line up shots. He heckles David about stepping in front of the tee line but cheers for David when he sinks a hole-in-three at the windmill. And he keeps kissing him, publicly, spontaneously, next to the artificial waterfall and under the floodlights.
There’s a bit of a traffic jam before the tenth hole, so they loiter on the sidewalk. Patrick reaches for David’s hand. “Is this okay?”
David glances down at their intertwined fingers. “Oh. Yeah. Of course.”
“I mean, I know I’m the one who asked for us to go slow, but you get to define what that means, too,” Patrick says.
None of this is slow. The way Patrick is looking at him as he rubs a thumb over David’s knuckles and asks if it’s okay is not slow. They’ve been dating a little over a week and barely done more than rub up against each other but it’s not slow. David cannot keep his heart from going full throttle. It is not falling, it is plummeting. It is not slow. It feels like flying and dying all at once. But maybe he doesn’t want it to stop.
“I’m sorry for not considering that there would be moths,” Patrick adds, when David, choking on all these thoughts, doesn’t immediately answer.
“I’ve been trying very hard to forget they’re there,” he forces himself to say. Then he uses their clasped hands to tug Patrick a little closer. “Thank you for planning such a lovely date for us. I’m - I’m having a really nice time. Um. The moths, like Stevie, are an inconvenience but not a deterrent. If that - if that simile holds up at all.”
“It does.” Patrick’s smiling as he kisses David again.
“I’m not sure anything would be a deterrent. When it’s you.” David can keep his hands to himself when asked but not, apparently, this. Maybe Patrick needs to hear this, though, if Stevie’s right. Maybe this is one way they don’t need to go slow.
Patrick’s lips part in surprise at David’s forthrightness, but before he can reply, someone from the line behind them clears their throat. “Sorry, I think you guys are up.”
“Thank you,” they both say, blushing, but David glances at Patrick as he’s setting up his next shot and decides he can risk a little public embarrassment for this man, within reason. He’s getting the sense he’s willing to risk a lot more than that.